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Title: Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Complete
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
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by Edward Bulwer Lytton



My Dear Sir,

I am not more sensible of the distinction conferred upon me when you
allowed me to inscribe this history with your name, than pleased with
an occasion to express my gratitude for the assistance I have derived
throughout the progress of my labours from that memorable work, in
which you have upheld the celebrity of English learning, and afforded
so imperishable a contribution to our knowledge of the Ancient World.
To all who in history look for the true connexion between causes and
effects, chronology is not a dry and mechanical compilation of barren
dates, but the explanation of events and the philosophy of facts.  And
the publication of the Fasti Hellenici has thrown upon those times, in
which an accurate chronological system can best repair what is
deficient, and best elucidate what is obscure in the scanty
authorities bequeathed to us, all the light of a profound and
disciplined intellect, applying the acutest comprehension to the
richest erudition, and arriving at its conclusions according to the
true spirit of inductive reasoning, which proportions the completeness
of the final discovery to the caution of the intermediate process.  My
obligations to that learning and to those gifts which you have
exhibited to the world are shared by all who, in England or in Europe,
study the history or cultivate the literature of Greece.  But, in the
patient kindness with which you have permitted me to consult you
during the tedious passage of these volumes through the press--in the
careful advice--in the generous encouragement--which have so often
smoothed the path and animated the progress--there are obligations
peculiar to myself; and in those obligations there is so much that
honours me, that, were I to enlarge upon them more, the world might
mistake an acknowledgment for a boast.

    With the highest consideration and esteem,
                 Believe me, my dear sir,
             Most sincerely and gratefully yours,
                      EDWARD LYTTON BULWER
    London, March, 1837.


The work, a portion of which is now presented to the reader, has
occupied me many years--though often interrupted in its progress,
either by more active employment, or by literary undertakings of a
character more seductive.  These volumes were not only written, but
actually in the hands of the publisher before the appearance, and
even, I believe, before the announcement of the first volume of Mr.
Thirlwall’s History of Greece, or I might have declined going over any
portion of the ground cultivated by that distinguished scholar [1].
As it is, however, the plan I have pursued differs materially from
that of Mr. Thirlwall, and I trust that the soil is sufficiently
fertile to yield a harvest to either labourer.

Since it is the letters, yet more than the arms or the institutions of
Athens, which have rendered her illustrious, it is my object to
combine an elaborate view of her literature with a complete and
impartial account of her political transactions.  The two volumes now
published bring the reader, in the one branch of my subject, to the
supreme administration of Pericles; in the other, to a critical
analysis of the tragedies of Sophocles.  Two additional volumes will,
I trust, be sufficient to accomplish my task, and close the records of
Athens at that period when, with the accession of Augustus, the annals
of the world are merged into the chronicle of the Roman empire.  In
these latter volumes it is my intention to complete the history of the
Athenian drama--to include a survey of the Athenian philosophy--to
describe the manners, habits, and social life of the people, and to
conclude the whole with such a review of the facts and events narrated
as may constitute, perhaps, an unprejudiced and intelligible
explanation of the causes of the rise and fall of Athens.

As the history of the Greek republics has been too often corruptly
pressed into the service of heated political partisans, may I be
pardoned the precaution of observing that, whatever my own political
code, as applied to England, I have nowhere sought knowingly to
pervert the lessons of a past nor analogous time to fugitive interests
and party purposes.  Whether led sometimes to censure, or more often
to vindicate the Athenian people, I am not conscious of any other
desire than that of strict, faithful, impartial justice.  Restlessly
to seek among the ancient institutions for illustrations (rarely
apposite) of the modern, is, indeed, to desert the character of a
judge for that of an advocate, and to undertake the task of the
historian with the ambition of the pamphleteer.  Though designing this
work not for colleges and cloisters, but for the general and
miscellaneous public, it is nevertheless impossible to pass over in
silence some matters which, if apparently trifling in themselves, have
acquired dignity, and even interest, from brilliant speculations or
celebrated disputes.  In the history of Greece (and Athenian history
necessarily includes nearly all that is valuable in the annals of the
whole Hellenic race) the reader must submit to pass through much that
is minute, much that is wearisome, if he desire to arrive at last at
definite knowledge and comprehensive views.  In order, however, to
interrupt as little as possible the recital of events, I have
endeavoured to confine to the earlier portion of the work such details
of an antiquarian or speculative nature as, while they may afford to
the general reader, not, indeed, a minute analysis, but perhaps a
sufficient notion of the scholastic inquiries which have engaged the
attention of some of the subtlest minds of Germany and England, may
also prepare him the better to comprehend the peculiar character and
circumstances of the people to whose history he is introduced: and it
may be well to warn the more impatient that it is not till the second
book (vol. i., p. 181) that disquisition is abandoned for narrative.
There yet remain various points on which special comment would be
incompatible with connected and popular history, but on which I
propose to enlarge in a series of supplementary notes, to be appended
to the concluding volume.  These notes will also comprise criticisms
and specimens of Greek writers not so intimately connected with the
progress of Athenian literature as to demand lengthened and elaborate
notice in the body of the work.  Thus, when it is completed, it is my
hope that this book will combine, with a full and complete history of
Athens, political and moral, a more ample and comprehensive view of
the treasures of the Greek literature than has yet been afforded to
the English public. I have ventured on these remarks because I thought
it due to the reader, no less than to myself, to explain the plan and
outline of a design at present only partially developed.

London, March, 1837.




     I  Situation and Soil of Attica.--The Pelasgians its earliest
          Inhabitants.--Their Race and Language akin to the Grecian.--
          Their varying Civilization and Architectural Remains.--
          Cecrops.--Were the earliest Civilizers of Greece foreigners
          or Greeks?--The Foundation of Athens.--The Improvements
          attributed to Cecrops.--The Religion of the Greeks cannot
          be reduced to a simple System.--Its Influence upon their
          Character and Morals, Arts and Poetry.--The Origin of
          Slavery and Aristocracy.

    II  The unimportant consequences to be deduced from the admission
          that Cecrops might be Egyptian.--Attic Kings before
          Theseus.--The Hellenes.--Their Genealogy.--Ionians and
          Achaeans Pelasgic.--Contrast between Dorians and Ionians.--
          Amphictyonic League.

   III  The Heroic Age.--Theseus.--His legislative Influence upon
          Athens.--Qualities of the Greek Heroes.--Effect of a
          Traditional Age upon the Character of a People.

    IV  The Successors of Theseus.--The Fate of Codrus.--The
          Emigration of Nileus.--The Archons.--Draco.

     V  A General Survey of Greece and the East previous to the
          Time of Solon.--The Grecian Colonies.--The Isles.--Brief
          account of the States on the Continent.--Elis and the
          Olympic Games.

    VI  Return of the Heraclidae.--The Spartan Constitution and
          Habits.--The first and second Messenian War.

   VII  Governments in Greece.

  VIII  Brief Survey of Arts, Letters, and Philosophy in Greece,
          prior to the Legislation of Solon.



     I  The Conspiracy of Cylon.--Loss of Salamis.--First Appearance
          of Solon.--Success against the Megarians in the Struggle for
          Salamis.--Cirrhaean War.--Epimenides.--Political State of
          Athens.--Character of Solon.--His Legislation.--General View
          of the Athenian Constitution.

    II  The Departure of Solon from Athens.--The Rise of Pisistratus.
          --Return of Solon.--His Conduct and Death.--The Second and
          Third Tyranny of Pisistratus.--Capture of Sigeum.--Colony
          In the Chersonesus founded by the first Miltiades.--Death of

   III  The Administration of Hippias.--The Conspiracy of Harmodius
          and Aristogiton.--The Death of Hipparchus.--Cruelties of
          Hippias.--The young Miltiades sent to the Chersonesus.--The
          Spartans Combine with the Alcmaeonidae against Hippias.--The
          fall of the Tyranny.--The Innovations of Clisthenes.--His
          Expulsion and Restoration.--Embassy to the Satrap of Sardis.
          --Retrospective View of the Lydian, Medean, and Persian
          Monarchies.--Result of the Athenian Embassy to Sardis.--
          Conduct of Cleomenes.--Victory of the Athenians against the
          Boeotians and Chalcidians.--Hippias arrives at Sparta.--The
          Speech of Sosicles the Corinthian.--Hippias retires to

    IV  Histiaeus, Tyrant of Miletus, removed to Persia.--The
          Government of that City deputed to Aristagoras, who invades
          Naxos with the aid of the Persians.--Ill Success of that
          Expedition.--Aristagoras resolves upon Revolting from the
          Persians.--Repairs to Sparta and to Athens.--The Athenians
          and Eretrians induced to assist the Ionians.--Burning of
          Sardis.--The Ionian War.--The Fate of Aristagoras.--Naval
          Battle of Lade.--Fall of Miletus.--Reduction of Ionia.--
          Miltiades.--His Character.--Mardonius replaces Artaphernes
          in the Lydian Satrapy.--Hostilities between Aegina and
          Athens.--Conduct of Cleomenes.--Demaratus deposed.--Death
          Of Cleomenes.--New Persian Expedition.

     V  The Persian Generals enter Europe.--Invasion of Naxos,
          Carystus, Eretria.--The Athenians Demand the Aid of Sparta.
          --The Result of their Mission and the Adventure of their
          Messenger.--The Persians advance to Marathon.--The Plain
          Described.--Division of Opinion in the Athenian Camp.--The
          Advice of Miltiades prevails.--The Drear of Hippias.--The
          Battle of Marathon.



     I  The Character and Popularity of Miltiades.--Naval expedition.
          --Siege of Paros.--Conduct of Miltiades.--He is Accused and
          Sentenced.--His Death.

    II  The Athenian Tragedy.--Its Origin.--Thespis.--Phrynichus.--
          Aeschylus.--Analysis of the Tragedies of Aeschylus.

   III  Aristides.--His Character and Position.--The Rise of
          Themistocles.--Aristides is Ostracised.--The Ostracism
          examined.--The Influence of Themistocles increases.--The
          Silver--mines of Laurion.--Their Product applied by
          Themistocles to the Increase of the Navy.--New Direction
          given to the National Character.

    IV  The Preparations of Darius.--Revolt of Egypt.--Dispute for
          The Succession to the Persian Throne.--Death of Darius.--
          Brief Review of the leading Events and Characteristics of
          his Reign.

     V  Xerxes conducts an Expedition into Egypt.--He finally resolves
          on the Invasion of Greece.--Vast Preparations for the
          Conquest of Europe.--Xerxes arrives at Sardis.--Despatches
          Envoys to the Greek States, demanding Tribute.--The Bridge
          of the Hellespont.--Review of the Persian Armament at
          Abydos.--Xerxes encamps at Therme.

    VI  The Conduct of the Greeks.--The Oracle relating to Salamis.--
          Art of Themistocles.--The Isthmian Congress.--Embassies to
          Argos, Crete, Corcyra, and Syracuse.--Their ill Success.--
          The Thessalians send Envoys to the Isthmus.--The Greeks
          advance to Tempe, but retreat.--The Fleet despatched to
          Artemisium, and the Pass of Thermopylae occupied.--Numbers
          of the Grecian Fleet.--Battle of Thermopylae.

   VII  The Advice of Demaratus to Xerxes.--Themistocles.--Actions off
          Artemisium.--The Greeks retreat.--The Persians invade
          Delphi, and are repulsed with great Loss.--The Athenians,
          unaided by their Allies, abandon Athens, and embark for
          Salamis.--The irresolute and selfish Policy of the
          Peloponnesians.--Dexterity and Firmness of Themistocles.--
          Battle of Salamis.--Andros and Carystus besieged by the
          Greeks.--Anecdotes of Themistocles.--Honours awarded to him
          in Sparta.--Xerxes returns to Asia.--Olynthus and Potidaea
          besieged by Artabazus.--The Athenians return Home.--The
          Ostracism of Aristides is repealed.

  VIII  Embassy of Alexander of Macedon to Athens.--The Result of his
          Proposals.--Athenians retreat to Salamis.--Mardonius
          occupies Athens.--The Athenians send Envoys to Sparta.--
          Pausanias succeeds Cleombrotus as Regent of Sparta.--Battle
          of Plataea.--Thebes besieged by the Athenians.--Battle of
          Mycale.--Siege of Sestos.--Conclusion of the Persian War.



     I  Remarks on the Effects of War.--State of Athens.--Interference
          of Sparta with respect to the Fortifications of Athens.--
          Dexterous Conduct of Themistocles.--The New Harbour of the
          Piraeus.--Proposition of the Spartans in the Amphictyonic
          Council defeated by Themistocles.--Allied Fleet at Cyprus
          and Byzantium.--Pausanias.--Alteration in his Character.--
          His ambitious Views and Treason.--The Revolt of the Ionians
          from the Spartan Command.--Pausanias recalled.--Dorcis
          replaces him.--The Athenians rise to the Head of the Ionian
          League.--Delos made the Senate and Treasury of the Allies.--
          Able and prudent Management of Aristides.--Cimon succeeds
          To the Command of the Fleet.--Character of Cimon.--Eion
          besieged.--Scyros colonized by Atticans.--Supposed Discovery
          of the Bones of Theseus.--Declining Power of Themistocles.
          --Democratic Change in the Constitution.--Themistocles
          ostracised.--Death of Aristides.

    II  Popularity and Policy of Cimon.--Naxos revolts from the
          Ionian League.--Is besieged by Cimon.--Conspiracy and
          Fate of Pausanias.--Flight and Adventures of Themistocles.
          --His Death.

   III  Reduction of Naxos.--Actions off Cyprus.--Manners of
          Cimon.--Improvements in Athens.--Colony at the Nine Ways.
          --Siege of Thasos.--Earthquake in Sparta.--Revolt of Helots,
          Occupation of Ithome, and Third Messenian War.--Rise and
          Character of Pericles.--Prosecution and Acquittal of Cimon.
          --The Athenians assist the Spartans at Ithome.--Thasos
          Surrenders.--Breach between the Athenians and Spartans.--
          Constitutional Innovations at Athens.--Ostracism of Cimon.

    IV  War between Megara and Corinth.--Megara and Pegae garrisoned
          by Athenians.--Review of Affairs at the Persian Court.--
          Accession of Artaxerxes.--Revolt of Egypt under Inarus.--
          Athenian Expedition to assist Inarus.--Aegina besieged.--The
          Corinthians defeated.--Spartan Conspiracy with the Athenian
          Oligarchy.--Battle of Tanagra.--Campaign and Successes of
          Myronides.--Plot of the Oligarchy against the Republic.--
          Recall of Cimon.--Long Walls completed.--Aegina reduced.--
          Expedition under Tolmides.--Ithome surrenders.--The
          Insurgents are settled at Naupactus.--Disastrous Termination
          of the Egyptian Expedition.--The Athenians march into
          Thessaly to restore Orestes the Tagus.--Campaign under
          Pericles.--Truce of five Years with the Peloponnesians.--
          Cimon sets sail for Cyprus.--Pretended Treaty of Peace with
          Persia.--Death of Cimon.

     V  Change of Manners in Athens.--Begun under the Pisistratidae.--
          Effects of the Persian War, and the intimate Connexion with
          Ionia.--The Hetaerae.--The Political Eminence lately
          acquired by Athens.--The Transfer of the Treasury from Delos
          to Athens.--Latent Dangers and Evils.--First, the Artificial
          Greatness of Athens not supported by Natural Strength.--
          Secondly, her pernicious Reliance on Tribute.--Thirdly,
          Deterioration of National Spirit commenced by Cimon in the
          Use of Bribes and Public Tables.--Fourthly, Defects in
          Popular Courts of Law.--Progress of General Education.--
          History.--Its Ionian Origin.--Early Historians.--Acusilaus.
          of the Life and Writings of Herodotus.--Progress of
          Philosophy since Thales.--Philosophers of the Ionian and
          Eleatic Schools.--Pythagoras.--His Philosophical Tenets and
          Political Influence.--Effect of these Philosophers on
          Athens.--School of Political Philosophy continued in Athens
          from the Time of Solon.--Anaxagoras.--Archelaus.--Philosophy
          not a thing apart from the ordinary Life of the Athenians.



     I  Thucydides chosen by the Aristocratic Party to oppose
          Pericles.--His Policy.--Munificence of Pericles.--Sacred
          War.--Battle of Coronea.--Revolt of Euboea and Megara--
          Invasion and Retreat of the Peloponnesians.--Reduction of
          Euboea.--Punishment of Histiaea.--A Thirty Years’ Truce
          concluded with the Peloponnesians.--Ostracism of Thucydides.

    II  Causes of the Power of Pericles.--Judicial Courts of the
          dependant Allies transferred to Athens.--Sketch of the
          Athenian Revenues.--Public Buildings the Work of the People
          rather than of Pericles.--Vices and Greatness of Athens had
          the same Sources.--Principle of Payment characterizes the
          Policy of the Period.--It is the Policy of Civilization.--
          Colonization, Cleruchia.

   III  Revision of the Census.--Samian War.--Sketch of the Rise and
          Progress of the Athenian Comedy to the Time of Aristophanes.

    IV  The Tragedies of Sophocles.




Situation and Soil of Attica.--The Pelasgians its earliest
Inhabitants.--Their Race and Language akin to the Grecian.--Their
varying Civilization and Architectural Remains.--Cecrops.--Were the
earliest Civilizers of Greece foreigners or Greeks?--The Foundation of
Athens.--The Improvements attributed to Cecrops.--The Religion of the
Greeks cannot be reduced to a simple System.--Its Influence upon their
Character and Morals, Arts and Poetry.--The Origin of Slavery and

I.  To vindicate the memory of the Athenian people, without disguising
the errors of Athenian institutions;--and, in narrating alike the
triumphs and the reverses--the grandeur and the decay--of the most
eminent of ancient states, to record the causes of her imperishable
influence on mankind, not alone in political change or the fortunes of
fluctuating war, but in the arts, the letters, and the social habits,
which are equal elements in the history of a people;--this is the
object that I set before me;--not unreconciled to the toil of years,
if, serving to divest of some party errors, and to diffuse through a
wider circle such knowledge as is yet bequeathed to us of a time and
land, fertile in august examples and in solemn warnings--consecrated
by undying names and memorable deeds.

II.  In that part of earth termed by the Greeks Hellas, and by the
Romans Graecia [2], a small tract of land known by the name of Attica,
extends into the Aegaean Sea--the southeast peninsula of Greece.  In
its greatest length it is about sixty, in its greatest breadth about
twenty-four, geographical miles.  In shape it is a rude triangle,--on
two sides flows the sea--on the third, the mountain range of Parnes
and Cithaeron divides the Attic from the Boeotian territory.  It is
intersected by frequent but not lofty hills, and, compared with the
rest of Greece, its soil, though propitious to the growth of the
olive, is not fertile or abundant.  In spite of painful and elaborate
culture, the traces of which are yet visible, it never produced a
sufficiency of corn to supply its population; and this, the
comparative sterility of the land, may be ranked among the causes
which conduced to the greatness of the people.  The principal
mountains of Attica are, the Cape of Sunium, Hymettus, renowned for
its honey, and Pentelicus for its marble; the principal streams which
water the valleys are the capricious and uncertain rivulets of
Cephisus and Ilissus [3],--streams breaking into lesser brooks,
deliciously pure and clear.  The air is serene--the climate healthful
--the seasons temperate.  Along the hills yet breathe the wild thyme,
and the odorous plants which, everywhere prodigal in Greece, are more
especially fragrant in that lucid sky;--and still the atmosphere
colours with peculiar and various taints the marble of the existent
temples and the face of the mountain landscapes.

III.  I reject at once all attempt to penetrate an unfathomable
obscurity for an idle object.  I do not pause to inquire whether,
after the destruction of Babel, Javan was the first settler in Attica,
nor is it reserved for my labours to decide the solemn controversy
whether Ogyges was the contemporary of Jacob or of Moses.  Neither
shall I suffer myself to be seduced into any lengthened consideration
of those disputes, so curious and so inconclusive, relative to the
origin of the Pelasgi (according to Herodotus the earliest inhabitants
of Attica), which have vainly agitated the learned.  It may amuse the
antiquary to weigh gravely the several doubts as to the derivation of
their name from Pelasgus or from Peleg--to connect the scattered
fragments of tradition--and to interpret either into history or
mythology the language of fabulous genealogies.  But our subtlest
hypotheses can erect only a fabric of doubt, which, while it is
tempting to assault, it is useless to defend.  All that it seems to me
necessary to say of the Pelasgi is as follows:--They are the earliest
race which appear to have exercised a dominant power in Greece.  Their
kings can be traced by tradition to a time long prior to the recorded
genealogy of any other tribe, and Inachus, the father of the Pelasgian
Phoroneus, is but another name for the remotest era to which Grecian
chronology can ascend [4].  Whether the Pelasgi were anciently a
foreign or a Grecian tribe, has been a subject of constant and
celebrated discussion.  Herodotus, speaking of some settlements held
to be Pelaigic, and existing in his time, terms their language
“barbarous;” but Mueller, nor with argument insufficient, considers
that the expression of the historian would apply only to a peculiar
dialect; and the hypothesis is sustained by another passage in
Herodotus, in which he applies to certain Ionian dialects the same
term as that with which he stigmatizes the language of the Pelasgic
settlements.  In corroboration of Mueller’s opinion we may also
observe, that the “barbarous-tongued” is an epithet applied by Homer
to the Carians, and is rightly construed by the ancient critics as
denoting a dialect mingled and unpolished, certainly not foreign.  Nor
when the Agamemnon of Sophocles upbraids Teucer with “his barbarous
tongue,” [6] would any scholar suppose that Teucer is upbraided with
not speaking Greek; he is upbraided with speaking Greek inelegantly
and rudely.  It is clear that they who continued with the least
adulteration a language in its earliest form, would seem to utter a
strange and unfamiliar jargon to ears accustomed to its more modern
construction.  And, no doubt, could we meet with a tribe retaining the
English of the thirteenth century, the language of our ancestors would
be to most of us unintelligible, and seem to many of us foreign.  But,
however the phrase of Herodotus be interpreted, it would still be
exceedingly doubtful whether the settlements he refers to were really
and originally Pelasgic, and still more doubtful whether, if Pelasgia
they had continued unalloyed and uncorrupted their ancestral language.
I do not, therefore, attach any importance to the expression of
Herodotus.  I incline, on the contrary, to believe, with the more
eminent of English scholars, that the language of the Pelasgi
contained at least the elements of that which we acknowledge as the
Greek;--and from many arguments I select the following:

1st.  Because, in the states which we know to have been peopled by the
Pelasgi (as Arcadia and Attica), and whence the population were not
expelled by new tribes, the language appears no less Greek than that
of those states from which the Pelasgi were the earliest driven.  Had
they spoken a totally different tongue from later settlers, I conceive
that some unequivocal vestiges of the difference would have been
visible even to the historical times.

2dly.  Because the Hellenes are described as few at first--their
progress is slow--they subdue, but they do not extirpate; in such
conquests--the conquests of the few settled among the many--the
language of the many continues to the last; that of the few would
influence, enrich, or corrupt, but never destroy it.

3dly.  Because, whatever of the Grecian language pervades the Latin
[7], we can only ascribe to the Pelasgic colonizers of Italy.  In
this, all ancient writers, Greek and Latin, are agreed.  The few words
transmitted to us as Pelasgic betray the Grecian features, and the
Lamina Borgiana (now in the Borgian collection of Naples, and
discovered in 1783) has an inscription relative to the Siculi or
Sicani, a people expelled from their Italian settlements before any
received date of the Trojan war, of which the character is Pelasgic--
the language Greek.

IV.  Of the moral state of the Pelasgi our accounts are imperfect and
contradictory.  They were not a petty horde, but a vast race,
doubtless divided, like every migratory people, into numerous tribes,
differing in rank, in civilization [8], and in many peculiarities of
character.  The Pelasgi in one country might appear as herdsmen or as
savages; in another, in the same age, they might appear collected into
cities and cultivating the arts.  The history of the East informs us
with what astonishing rapidity a wandering tribe, once settled, grew
into fame and power; the camp of to-day--the city of to-morrow--and
the “dwellers in the wilderness setting up the towers and the palaces
thereof.” [9]  Thus, while in Greece this mysterious people are often
represented as the aboriginal race, receiving from Phoenician and
Egyptian settlers the primitive blessings of social life, in Italy we
behold them the improvers in agriculture [10] and first teachers of
letters. [11]

Even so early as the traditional appearance of Cecrops among the
savages of Attica, the Pelasgians in Arcadia had probably advanced
from the pastoral to the civil life; and this, indeed, is the date
assigned by Pausanias to the foundation of that ancestral Lycosura, in
whose rude remains (by the living fountain and the waving oaks of the
modern Diaphorte) the antiquary yet traces the fortifications of “the
first city which the sun beheld.” [12]  It is in their buildings that
the Pelasgi have left the most indisputable record of their name.
Their handwriting is yet upon their walls!  A restless and various
people--overrunning the whole of Greece, found northward in Dacia,
Illyria, and the country of the Getae, colonizing the coasts of Ionia,
and long the master-race of the fairest lands of Italy,--they have
passed away amid the revolutions of the elder earth, their ancestry
and their descendants alike unknown;--yet not indeed the last, if my
conclusions are rightly drawn: if the primitive population of Greece--
themselves Greek--founding the language, and kindred with the blood,
of the later and more illustrious Hellenes--they still made the great
bulk of the people in the various states, and through their most
dazzling age: Enslaved in Laconia--but free in Athens--it was their
posterity that fought the Mede at Marathon and Plataea,--whom
Miltiades led,--for whom Solon legislated,--for whom Plato thought,--
whom Demosthenes harangued.  Not less in Italy than in Greece the
parents of an imperishable tongue, and, in part, the progenitors of a
glorious race, we may still find the dim track of their existence
wherever the classic civilization flourished,--the classic genius
breathed.  If in the Latin, if in the Grecian tongue, are yet the
indelible traces of the language of the Pelasgi, the literature of the
ancient, almost of the modern world, is their true descendant!

V.  Despite a vague belief (referred to by Plato) of a remote and
perished era of civilization, the most popular tradition asserts the
Pelasgic inhabitants of Attica to have been sunk into the deepest
ignorance of the elements of social life, when, either from Sais, an
Egyptian city, as is commonly supposed, or from Sais a province in
Upper Egypt, an Egyptian characterized to posterity by the name of
Cecrops is said to have passed into Attica with a band of adventurous

The tradition of this Egyptian immigration into Attica was long
implicitly received.  Recently the bold skepticism of German scholars
--always erudite--if sometimes rash--has sufficed to convince us of
the danger we incur in drawing historical conclusions from times to
which no historical researches can ascend.  The proofs upon which rest
the reputed arrival of Egyptian colonizers, under Cecrops, in Attica,
have been shown to be slender--the authorities for the assertion to be
comparatively modern--the arguments against the probability of such an
immigration in such an age, to be at least plausible and important.
Not satisfied, however, with reducing to the uncertainty of conjecture
what incautiously had been acknowledged as fact, the assailants of the
Egyptian origin of Cecrops presume too much upon their victory, when
they demand us to accept as a counter fact, what can be, after all,
but a counter conjecture.  To me, impartially weighing the arguments
and assertions on either side, the popular tradition of Cecrops and
his colony appears one that can neither be tacitly accepted as
history, nor contemptuously dismissed as invention.  It would be,
however, a frivolous dispute, whether Cecrops were Egyptian or
Attican, since no erudition can ascertain that Cecrops ever existed,
were it not connected with a controversy of some philosophical
importance, viz., whether the early civilizers of Greece were
foreigners or Greeks, and whether the Egyptians more especially
assisted to instruct the ancestors of a race that have become the
teachers and models of the world, in the elements of religion, of
polity, and the arts.

Without entering into vain and futile reasonings, derived from the
scattered passages of some early writers, from the ambiguous silence
of others--and, above all, from the dreams of etymological analogy or
mythological fable, I believe the earliest civilizers of Greece to
have been foreign settlers; deducing my belief from the observations
of common sense rather than from obscure and unsatisfactory research.
I believe it,

First--Because, what is more probable than that at very early periods
the more advanced nations of the East obtained communication with the
Grecian continent and isles?  What more probable than that the
maritime and roving Phoenicians entered the seas of Greece, and were
tempted by the plains, which promised abundance, and the mountains,
which afforded a fastness?  Possessed of a superior civilization to
the hordes they found, they would meet rather with veneration than
resistance, and thus a settlement would be obtained by an
inconsiderable number, more in right of intelligence than of conquest.

But, though this may be conceded with respect to the Phoenicians, it
is asserted that the Egyptians at least were not a maritime or
colonizing people: and we are gravely assured, that in those distant
times no Egyptian vessel had entered the Grecian seas.  But of the
remotest ages of Egyptian civilization we know but little.  On their
earliest monuments (now their books!) we find depicted naval as well
as military battles, in which the vessels are evidently those employed
at sea.  According to their own traditions, they colonized in a remote
age.  They themselves laid claim to Danaus: and the mythus of the
expedition of Osiris is not improbably construed into a figurative
representation of the spread of Egyptian civilization by the means of
colonies.  Besides, Egypt was subjected to more than one revolution,
by which a large portion of her population was expelled the land, and
scattered over the neighbouring regions [13].  And even granting that
Egyptians fitted out no maritime expedition--they could easily have
transplanted themselves in Phoenician vessels, or Grecian rafts--from
Asia into Greece.  Nor can we forget that Egypt [14] for a time was
the habitation, and Thebes the dominion, of the Phoenicians, and that
hence, perhaps, the origin of the dispute whether certain of the first
foreign civilizers of Greece were Phoenicians or Egyptians: The
settlers might come from Egypt, and be by extraction Phoenicians: or
Egyptian emigrators might well have accompanied the Phoenician. [15]

2dly.  By the evidence of all history, savage tribes appear to owe
their first enlightenment to foreigners: to be civilized, they conquer
or are conquered--visit or are visited.  For a fact which contains so
striking a mystery, I do not attempt to account.  I find in the
history of every other part of the world, that it is by the colonizer
or the conqueror that a tribe neither colonizing nor conquering is
redeemed from a savage state, and I do not reject so probable an
hypothesis for Greece.

3dly.  I look to the various arguments of a local or special nature,
by which these general probabilities may be supported, and I find them
unusually strong: I cast my eyes on the map of Greece, and I see that
it is almost invariably on the eastern side that these eastern
colonies are said to have been founded: I turn to chronology, and I
find the revolutions in the East coincide in point of accredited date
with the traditional immigrations into Greece: I look to the history
of the Greeks, and I find the Greeks themselves (a people above all
others vain of aboriginal descent, and contemptuous of foreign races)
agreed in according a general belief to the accounts of their
obligations to foreign settlers; and therefore (without additional but
doubtful arguments from any imaginary traces of Eastern, Egyptian,
Phoenician rites and fables in the religion or the legends of Greece
in her remoter age) I see sufficient ground for inclining to the less
modern, but mere popular belief, which ascribes a foreign extraction
to the early civilizers of Greece: nor am I convinced by the
reasonings of those who exclude the Egyptians from the list of these
primitive benefactors.

It being conceded that no hypothesis is more probable than that the
earliest civilizers of Greece were foreign, and might be Egyptian, I
do not recognise sufficient authority for rejecting the Attic
traditions claiming Egyptian civilizers for the Attic soil, in
arguments, whether grounded upon the fact that such traditions,
unreferred to by the more ancient, were collected by the more modern,
of Grecian writers--or upon plausible surmises as to the habits of the
Egyptians in that early age.  Whether Cecrops were the first--whether
he were even one--of these civilizers, is a dispute unworthy of
philosophical inquirers [16].  But as to the time of Cecrops are
referred, both by those who contend for his Egyptian, and those who
assert his Attic origin, certain advances from barbarism, and certain
innovations in custom, which would have been natural to a foreigner,
and almost miraculous in a native, I doubt whether it would not be our
wiser and more cautious policy to leave undisturbed a long accredited
conjecture, rather than to subscribe to arguments which, however
startling and ingenious, not only substitute no unanswerable
hypothesis, but conduce to no important result. [17]

VI.  If Cecrops were really the leader of an Egyptian colony, it is
more than probable that he obtained the possession of Attica by other
means than those of force.  To savage and barbarous tribes, the first
appearance of men, whose mechanical inventions, whose superior
knowledge of the arts of life--nay, whose exterior advantages of garb
and mien [18] indicate intellectual eminence, till then neither known
nor imagined, presents a something preternatural and divine.  The
imagination of the wild inhabitants is seduced, their superstitions
aroused, and they yield to a teacher--not succumb to an invader.  It
was probably thus, then, that Cecrops with his colonists would have
occupied the Attic plain--conciliated rather than subdued the
inhabitants, and united in himself the twofold authority exercised by
primeval chiefs--the dignity of the legislator, and the sanctity of
the priest.  It is evident that none of the foreign settlers brought
with them a numerous band.  The traditions speak of them with
gratitude as civilizers, not with hatred as conquerors.  And they did
not leave any traces in the establishment of their language:--a proof
of the paucity of their numbers, and the gentle nature of their
influence--the Phoenician Cadmus, the Egyptian Cecrops, the Phrygian
Pelops, introduced no separate and alien tongue.  Assisting to
civilize the Greeks, they then became Greeks; their posterity merged
and lost amid the native population.

VII.  Perhaps, in all countries, the first step to social improvement
is in the institution of marriage, and the second is the formation of
cities.  As Menes in Egypt, as Fohi in China, so Cecrops at Athens is
said first to have reduced into sacred limits the irregular
intercourse of the sexes [19], and reclaimed his barbarous subjects
from a wandering and unprovidential life, subsisting on the
spontaneous produce of no abundant soil.  High above the plain, and
fronting the sea, which, about three miles distant on that side,
sweeps into a bay peculiarly adapted for the maritime enterprises of
an earlier age, we still behold a cragged and nearly perpendicular
rock.  In length its superficies is about eight hundred, in breadth
about four hundred, feet [20].  Below, on either side, flow the
immortal streams of the Ilissus and Cephisus.  From its summit you may
survey, here, the  mountains of Hymettus, Pentelicus, and, far away,
“the silver-bearing Laurium;” below, the wide plain of Attica, broken
by rocky hills--there, the islands of Salamis and Aegina, with the
opposite shores of Argolis, rising above the waters of the Saronic
Bay.  On this  rock the supposed Egyptian is said to have built a
fortress, and founded a city [21]; the fortress was in later times
styled the Acropolis, and the place itself, when the buildings of
Athens spread far and wide beneath its base, was still designated
polis, or the CITY.  By degrees we are told that he extended, from
this impregnable castle and its adjacent plain, the limit of his
realm, until it included the whole of Attica, and perhaps Boeotia
[22].  It is also related that he established eleven  other towns or
hamlets, and divided his people into twelve tribes, to each of which
one of the towns was apportioned--a fortress against foreign invasion,
and a court of justice in civil disputes.

If we may trust to the glimmering light which, resting for a moment,
uncertain and confused, upon the reign of Cecrops, is swallowed up in
all the darkness of fable during those of his reputed successors,--it
is to this apocryphal personage that we must refer the elements both
of agriculture and law.  He is said to have instructed the Athenians
to till the land, and to watch the produce of the seasons; to have
imported from Egypt the olive-tree, for which the Attic soil was
afterward so celebrated, and even to have navigated to Sicily and to
Africa for supplies of corn.  That such advances from a primitive and
savage state were not made in a single generation, is sufficiently
clear.  With more probability, Cecrops is reputed to have imposed upon
the ignorance of his subjects and the license of his followers the
curb of impartial law, and to have founded a tribunal of justice
(doubtless the sole one for all disputes), in which after times
imagined to trace the origin of the solemn Areopagus.

VIII.  Passing from these doubtful speculations on the detailed
improvements effected by Cecrops in the social life of the Attic
people, I shall enter now into some examination of two subjects far
more important.  The first is the religion of the Athenians in common
with the rest of Greece; and the second the origin of the institution
of slavery.

The origin of religion in all countries is an inquiry of the deepest
interest and of the vaguest result.  For, the desire of the pious to
trace throughout all creeds the principles of the one they themselves
profess--the vanity of the learned to display a various and recondite
erudition--the passion of the ingenious to harmonize conflicting
traditions--and the ambition of every speculator to say something new
upon an ancient but inexhaustible subject, so far from enlightening,
only perplex our conjectures.  Scarcely is the theory of to-day
established, than the theory of to-morrow is invented to oppose it.
With one the religion of the Greeks is but a type of the mysteries of
the Jews, the event of the deluge, and the preservation of the ark;
with another it is as entirely an incorporation of the metaphysical
solemnities of the Egyptian;--now it is the crafty device of priests,
now the wise invention of sages.  It is not too much to say, that
after the profoundest labours and the most plausible conjectures of
modern times, we remain yet more uncertain and confused than we were
before.  It is the dark boast of every pagan mythology, as one of the
eldest of the pagan deities, that “none among mortals hath lifted up
its veil!”

After, then, some brief and preliminary remarks, tending to such
hypotheses as appear to me most probable and simple, I shall hasten
from unprofitable researches into the Unknown, to useful deductions
from what is given to our survey--in a word, from the origin of the
Grecian religion to its influence and its effects; the first is the
province of the antiquary and the speculator; the last of the
historian and the practical philosopher.

IX.  When Herodotus informs us that Egypt imparted to Greece the names
of almost all her deities, and that his researches convinced him that
they were of barbarous origin, he exempts from the list of the
Egyptian deities, Neptune, the Dioscuri, Juno, Vesta, Themis, the
Graces, and the Nereids [23].  From Africa, according to Herodotus,
came Neptune, from the Pelasgi the rest of the deities disclaimed by
Egypt.  According to the same authority, the Pelasgi learned not their
deities, but the names of their deities (and those at a later period),
from the Egyptians [24].  But the Pelasgi were the first known
inhabitants of Greece--the first known inhabitants of Greece had
therefore their especial deities, before any communication with Egypt.
For the rest we must accept the account of the simple and credulous
Herodotus with considerable caution and reserve.  Nothing is more
natural--perhaps more certain--than that every tribe [25], even of
utter savages, will invent some deities of their own; and as these
deities will as naturally be taken from external objects, common to
all mankind, such as the sun or the moon, the waters or the earth, and
honoured with attributes formed from passions and impressions no less
universal;--so the deities of every tribe will have something kindred
to each other, though the tribes themselves may never have come into
contact or communication.

The mythology of the early Greeks may perhaps be derived from the
following principal sources:--First, the worship of natural objects;--
and of divinities so formed, the most unequivocally national will
obviously be those most associated with their mode of life and the
influences of their climate.  When the savage first intrusts the seed
to the bosom of the earth--when, through a strange and unaccountable
process, he beholds what he buried in one season spring forth the
harvest of the next--the EARTH itself, the mysterious garner, the
benign, but sometimes the capricious reproducer of the treasures
committed to its charge--becomes the object of the wonder, the hope,
and the fear, which are the natural origin of adoration and prayer.
Again, when he discovers the influence of the heaven upon the growth
of his labour--when, taught by experience, he acknowledges its power
to blast or to mellow--then, by the same process of ideas, the HEAVEN
also assumes the character of divinity, and becomes a new agent, whose
wrath is to be propitiated, whose favour is to be won.  What common
sense thus suggests to us, our researches confirm, and we find
accordingly that the Earth and the Heaven are the earliest deities of
the agricultural Pelasgi.  As the Nile to the fields of the Egyptian--
earth and heaven to the culture of the Greek.  The effects of the SUN
upon human labour and human enjoyment are so sensible to the simplest
understanding, that we cannot wonder to find that glorious luminary
among the most popular deities of ancient nations.  Why search through
the East to account for its worship in Greece?  More easy to suppose
that the inhabitants of a land, whom the sun so especially favoured--
saw and blessed it, for it was good, than, amid innumerable
contradictions and extravagant assumptions, to decide upon that
remoter shore, whence was transplanted a deity, whose effects were so
benignant, whose worship was so natural, to the Greeks.  And in the
more plain belief we are also borne out by the more sound inductions
of learning.  For it is noticeable that neither the moon nor the
stars--favourite divinities with those who enjoyed the serene nights,
or inhabited the broad plains of the East--were (though probably
admitted among the Pelasgic deities) honoured with that intense and
reverent worship which attended them in Asia and in Egypt.  To the
Pelasgi, not yet arrived at the intellectual stage of philosophical
contemplation, the most sensible objects of influence would be the
most earnestly adored.  What the stars were to the East, their own
beautiful Aurora, awaking them to the delight of their genial and
temperate climate, was to the early Greeks.

Of deities, thus created from external objects, some will rise out (if
I may use the expression) of natural accident and local circumstance.
An earthquake will connect a deity with the earth--an inundation with
the river or the sea.  The Grecian soil bears the marks of maritime
revolution; many of the tribes were settled along the coast, and
perhaps had already adventured their rafts upon the main.  A deity of
the sea (without any necessary revelation from Africa) is, therefore,
among the earliest of the Grecian gods.  The attributes of each deity
will be formed from the pursuits and occupations of the worshippers--
sanguinary with the warlike--gentle with the peaceful.  The pastoral
Pelasgi of Arcadia honoured the pastoral Pan for ages before he was
received by their Pelasgic brotherhood of Attica.  And the
agricultural Demeter or Ceres will be recognised among many tribes of
the agricultural Pelasgi, which no Egyptian is reputed, even by
tradition [26], to have visited.

The origin of prayer is in the sense of dependance, and in the
instinct of self-preservation or self-interest.  The first objects of
prayer to the infant man will be those on which by his localities he
believes himself to be most dependant for whatever blessing his mode
of life inclines him the most to covet, or from which may come
whatever peril his instinct will teach him the most to deprecate and
fear.  It is this obvious truth which destroys all the erudite systems
that would refer the different creeds of the heathen to some single
origin.  Till the earth be the same in each region--till the same
circumstances surround every tribe--different impressions, in nations
yet unconverted and uncivilized, produce different deities.  Nature
suggests a God, and man invests him with attributes.  Nature and man,
the same as a whole, vary in details; the one does not everywhere
suggest the same notions--the other cannot everywhere imagine the same
attributes.  As with other tribes, so with the Pelasgi or primitive
Greeks, their early gods were the creatures of their own early

As one source of religion was in external objects, so another is to be
found in internal sensations and emotions.  The passions are so
powerful in their effects upon individuals and nations, that we can be
little surprised to find those effects attributed to the instigation
and influence of a supernatural being.  Love is individualized and
personified in nearly all mythologies; and LOVE therefore ranks among
the earliest of the Grecian gods.  Fear or terror, whose influence is
often so strange, sudden, and unaccountable--seizing even the bravest
--spreading through numbers with all the speed of an electric sympathy
--and deciding in a moment the destiny of an army or the ruin of a
tribe--is another of those passions, easily supposed the afflatus of
some preternatural power, and easily, therefore, susceptible of
personification.  And the pride of men, more especially if habitually
courageous and warlike, will gladly yield to the credulities which
shelter a degrading and unwonted infirmity beneath the agency of a
superior being.  TERROR, therefore, received a shape and found an
altar probably as early at least as the heroic age.  According to
Plutarch, Theseus sacrificed to Terror previous to his battle with the
Amazons;--an idle tale, it is true, but proving, perhaps, the
antiquity of a tradition.  As society advanced from barbarism arose
more intellectual creations--as cities were built, and as in the
constant flux and reflux of martial tribes cities were overthrown, the
elements of the social state grew into personification, to which
influence was attributed and reverence paid.  Thus were fixed into
divinity and shape, ORDER, PEACE, JUSTICE, and the stern and gloomy
ORCOS [27], witness of the oath, avenger of the perjury.

This, the second source of religion, though more subtle and refined in
its creations, had still its origin in the same human causes as the
first, viz., anticipation of good and apprehension of evil.  Of
deities so created, many, however, were the inventions of poets--
(poetic metaphor is a fruitful mother of mythological fable)--many
also were the graceful refinements of a subsequent age.  But some (and
nearly all those I have enumerated) may be traced to the earliest
period to which such researches can ascend.  It is obvious that the
eldest would be connected with the passions--the more modern with the

It seems to me apparent that almost simultaneously with deities of
these two classes would arise the greater and more influential class
of personal divinities which gradually expanded into the heroic
dynasty of Olympus.  The associations which one tribe, or one
generation, united with the heaven, the earth, or the sun, another
might obviously connect, or confuse, with a spirit or genius
inhabiting or influencing the element or physical object which excited
their anxiety or awe: And, this creation effected--so what one tribe
or generation might ascribe to the single personification of a
passion, a faculty, or a moral and social principle, another would
just as naturally refer to a personal and more complex deity:--that
which in one instance would form the very nature of a superior being,
in the other would form only an attribute--swell the power and amplify
the character of a Jupiter, a Mars, a Venus, or a Pan.  It is in the
nature of man, that personal divinities once created and adored,
should present more vivid and forcible images to his fancy than
abstract personifications of physical objects and moral impressions.
Thus, deities of this class would gradually rise into pre-eminence and
popularity above those more vague and incorporeal--and (though I guard
myself from absolutely solving in this manner the enigma of ancient
theogonies) the family of Jupiter could scarcely fail to possess
themselves of the shadowy thrones of the ancestral Earth and the
primeval Heaven.

A third source of the Grecian, as of all mythologies, was in the
worship of men who had actually existed, or been supposed to exist.
For in this respect errors might creep into the calendar of heroes, as
they did into the calendar of saints (the hero-worship of the
moderns), which has canonized many names to which it is impossible to
find the owners.  This was probably the latest, but perhaps in
after-times the most influential and popular addition to the aboriginal
faith.  The worship of dead men once established, it was natural to a
people so habituated to incorporate and familiarize religious
impressions--to imagine that even their primary gods, first formed
from natural impressions (and, still more, those deities they had
borrowed from stranger creeds)--should have walked the earth.  And
thus among the multitude in the philosophical ages, even the loftiest
of the Olympian dwellers were vaguely supposed to have known
humanity;--their immortality but the apotheosis of the benefactor or
the hero.

X.  The Pelasgi, then, had their native or aboriginal deities
(differing in number and in attributes with each different tribe), and
with them rests the foundation of the Greek mythology.  They required
no Egyptian wisdom to lead them to believe in superior powers.  Nature
was their primeval teacher.  But as intercourse was opened with the
East from the opposite Asia--with the North from the neighbouring
Thrace, new deities were transplanted and old deities received
additional attributes and distinctions, according as the fancy of the
stranger found them assimilate to the divinities he had been
accustomed to adore.  It seems to me, that in Saturn we may trace the
popular Phoenician deity--in the Thracian Mars, the fierce war-god of
the North.  But we can scarcely be too cautious how far we allow
ourselves to be influenced by resemblance, however strong, between a
Grecian and an alien deity.  Such a resemblance may not only be formed
by comparatively modern innovations, but may either be resolved to
that general likeness which one polytheism will ever bear towards
another, or arise from the adoption of new attributes and strange
traditions;--so that the deity itself may be homesprung and
indigenous, while bewildering the inquirer with considerable
similitude to other gods, from whose believers the native worship
merely received an epithet, a ceremony, a symbol, or a fable.  And
this necessity of caution is peculiarly borne out by the
contradictions which each scholar enamoured of a system gives to the
labours of the speculator who preceded him.  What one research would
discover to be Egyptian, another asserts to be Phoenician; a third
brings from the North; a fourth from the Hebrews; and a fifth, with
yet wilder imagination, from the far and then unpenetrated caves and
woods of India.  Accept common sense as our guide, and the
contradictions are less irreconcilable--the mystery less obscure.  In
a deity essentially Greek, a Phoenician colonist may discover
something familiar, and claim an ancestral god.  He imparts to the
native deity some Phoenician features--an Egyptian or an Asiatic
succeeds him--discovers a similar likeness--introduces similar
innovations.  The lively Greek receives--amalgamates--appropriates
all: but the aboriginal deity is not the less Greek.  Each speculator
may be equally right in establishing a partial resemblance, precisely
because all speculators are wrong in asserting a perfect identity.

It follows as a corollary from the above reasonings, that the religion
of Greece was much less uniform than is popularly imagined; 1st,
because each separate state or canton had its own peculiar deity;
2dly, because, in the foreign communication of new gods, each stranger
would especially import the deity that at home he had more especially
adored.  Hence to every state its tutelary god--the founder of its
greatness, the guardian of its renown.  Even in the petty and limited
territory of Attica, each tribe, independent of the public worship,
had its peculiar deities, honoured by peculiar rites.

The deity said to be introduced by Cecrops is Neith, or more properly
Naith [28]--the goddess of Sais, in whom we are told to recognise the
Athene, or Minerva of the Greeks.  I pass over as palpably absurd any
analogy of names by which the letters that compose the word Keith are
inverted to the word Athene.  The identity of the two goddesses must
rest upon far stronger proof.  But, in order to obtain this proof, we
must know with some precision the nature and attributes of the
divinity of Sais--a problem which no learning appears to me
satisfactorily to have solved.  It would be a strong, and, I think, a
convincing argument, that Athene is of foreign origin, could we be
certain that her attributes, so eminently intellectual, so thoroughly
out of harmony with the barbarism of the early Greeks, were accorded
to her at the commencement of her worship. But the remotest traditions
(such as her contest with Neptune for the possession of the soil), if
we take the more simple interpretation, seem to prove her to have been
originally an agricultural deity, the creation of which would have
been natural enough to the agricultural Pelasgi;--while her supposed
invention of some of the simplest and most elementary arts are
sufficiently congenial to the notions of an unpolished and infant era
of society.  Nor at a long subsequent period is there much resemblance
between the formal and elderly goddess of Daedalian sculpture and the
glorious and august Glaucopis of Homer--the maiden of celestial beauty
as of unrivalled wisdom.  I grant that the variety of her attributes
renders it more than probable that Athene was greatly indebted,
perhaps to the “Divine Intelligence,” personified in the Egyptian
Naith--perhaps also, as Herodotus asserts, to the warlike deity of
Libya--nor less, it may be, to the Onca of the Phoenicians [29], from
whom in learning certain of the arts, the Greeks might simultaneously
learn the name and worship of the Phoenician deity, presiding over
such inventions.  Still an aboriginal deity was probably the nucleus,
round which gradually gathered various and motley attributes.  And
certain it is, that as soon as the whole creation rose into distinct
life, the stately and virgin goddess towers, aloof and alone, the most
national, the most majestic of the Grecian deities--rising above all
comparison with those who may have assisted to decorate and robe her,
embodying in a single form the very genius, multiform, yet individual
as it was, of the Grecian people--and becoming among all the deities
of the heathen heaven what the Athens she protected became upon the

XI.  It may be said of the Greeks, that there never was a people who
so completely nationalized all that they borrowed from a foreign
source.  And whatever, whether in a remoter or more recent age, it
might have appropriated from the creed of Isis and Osiris, one cause
alone would have sufficed to efface from the Grecian the peculiar
character of the Egyptian mythology.

The religion of Egypt, as a science, was symbolical--it denoted
elementary principles of philosophy; its gods were enigmas.  It has
been asserted (on very insufficient data) that in the earliest ages of
the world, one god, of whom the sun was either the emblem or the
actual object of worship, was adored universally throughout the East,
and that polytheism was created by personifying the properties and
attributes of the single deity: “there being one God,” says Aristotle,
finely, “called by many names, from the various effects which his
various power produces.” [30]  But I am far from believing that a
symbolical religion is ever the earliest author of polytheism; for a
symbolical religion belongs to a later period of civilization, when
some men are set apart in indolence to cultivate their imagination, in
order to beguile or to instruct the reason of the rest.  Priests are
the first philosophers--a symbolical religion the first philosophy.
But faith precedes philosophy.  I doubt not, therefore, that
polytheism existed in the East before that age when the priests of
Chaldea and of Egypt invested it with a sublimer character by
summoning to the aid of invention a wild and speculative wisdom--by
representing under corporeal tokens the revolutions of the earth, the
seasons, and the stars, and creating new (or more probably adapting
old and sensual) superstitions, as the grosser and more external types
of a philosophical creed [31].  But a symbolical worship--the creation
of a separate and established order of priests--never is, and never
can be, the religion professed, loved, and guarded by a people.  The
multitude demand something positive and real for their belief--they
cannot worship a delusion--their reverence would be benumbed on the
instant if they could be made to comprehend that the god to whom they
sacrificed was no actual power able to effect evil and good, but the
type of a particular season of the year, or an unwholesome principle
in the air.  Hence, in the Egyptian religion, there was one creed for
the vulgar and another for the priests.  Again, to invent and to
perpetuate a symbolical religion (which is, in fact, an hereditary
school of metaphysics) requires men set apart for the purpose, whose
leisure tempts them to invention, whose interest prompts them to
imposture.  A symbolical religion is a proof of a certain refinement
in civilization--the refinement of sages in the midst of a subservient
people; and it absorbs to itself those meditative and imaginative
minds which, did it not exist, would be devoted to philosophy.  Now,
even allowing full belief to the legends which bring the Egyptian
colonists into Greece, it is probable that few among them were
acquainted with the secrets of the symbolical mythology they
introduced.  Nor, if they were so, is it likely that they would have
communicated to a strange and a barbarous population the profound and
latent mysteries shrouded from the great majority of Egyptians
themselves.  Thus, whatever the Egyptian colonizers might have
imported of a typical religion, the abstruser meaning would become,
either at once or gradually, lost.  Nor can we--until the recent age
of sophists and refiners--clearly ascertain any period in which did
not exist the indelible distinction between the Grecian and Egyptian
mythology: viz.--that the first was actual, real, corporeal,
household; the second vague, shadowy, and symbolical.  This might not
have been the case had there been established in the Grecian, as in
the Egyptian cities, distinct and separate colleges of priests, having
in their own hands the sole care of the religion, and forming a
privileged and exclusive body of the state.  But among the Greeks (and
this should be constantly borne in mind) there never was, at any known
historical period, a distinct caste of priests [32].  We may perceive,
indeed, that the early colonizers commenced with approaches to that
principle, but it was not prosecuted farther.  There were sacred
families in Athens from which certain priesthoods were to be filled--
but even these personages were not otherwise distinguished; they
performed all the usual offices of a citizen, and were not united
together by any exclusiveness of privilege or spirit of party.  Among
the Egyptian adventurers there were probably none fitted by previous
education for the sacred office; and the chief who had obtained the
dominion might entertain no irresistible affection for a caste which
in his own land he had seen dictating to the monarch and interfering
with the government. [33]

Thus, among the early Greeks, we find the chiefs themselves were
contented to offer the sacrifice and utter the prayer; and though
there were indeed appointed and special priests, they held no
imperious or commanding authority.  The Areopagus at Athens had the
care of religion, but the Areopagites were not priests.  This absence
of a priestly caste had considerable effect upon the flexile and
familiar nature of the Grecian creed, because there were none
professionally interested in guarding the purity of the religion, in
preserving to what it had borrowed, symbolical allusions, and in
forbidding the admixture of new gods and heterogeneous creeds.  The
more popular a religion, the more it seeks corporeal representations,
and avoids the dim and frigid shadows of a metaphysical belief. [34]

The romantic fables connected with the Grecian mythology were, some
home-sprung, some relating to native heroes, and incorporating native
legends, but they were also, in great measure, literal interpretations
of symbolical types and of metaphorical expressions, or erroneous
perversions of words in other tongues.  The craving desire to account
for natural phenomena, common to mankind--the wish to appropriate to
native heroes the wild tales of mariners and strangers natural to a
vain and a curious people--the additions which every legend would
receive in its progress from tribe to tribe--and the constant
embellishments the most homely inventions would obtain from the
competition of rival poets, rapidly served to swell and enrich these
primary treasures of Grecian lore--to deduce a history from an
allegory--to establish a creed in a romance.  Thus the early mythology
of Greece is to be properly considered in its simple and outward
interpretations.  The Greeks, as yet in their social infancy, regarded
the legends of their faith as a child reads a fairy tale, credulous of
all that is supernatural in the agency--unconscious of all that may be
philosophical in the moral.

It is true, indeed, that dim associations of a religion, sabaean and
elementary, such as that of the Pelasgi (but not therefore foreign and
philosophical), with a religion physical and popular, are, here and
there, to be faintly traced among the eldest of the Grecian authors.
We may see that in Jupiter they represented the ether, and in Apollo,
and sometimes even in Hercules, the sun.  But these authors, while,
perhaps unconsciously, they hinted at the symbolical, fixed, by the
vitality and nature of their descriptions, the actual images of the
gods and, reversing the order of things, Homer created Jupiter! [35]

But most of the subtle and typical interpretations of the Grecian
mythology known to us at present were derived from the philosophy of a
later age.  The explanations of religious fables--such, for instance,
as the chaining of Saturn by Jupiter, and the rape of Proserpine by
Pluto, in which Saturn is made to signify the revolution of the
seasons, chained to the courses of the stars, to prevent too
immoderate a speed, and the rape of Proserpine is refined into an
allegory that denotes the seeds of corn that the sovereign principle
of the earth receives and sepulchres [36];--the moral or physical
explanation of legends like these was, I say, the work of the few,
reduced to system either from foreign communication or acute
invention.  For a symbolical religion, created by the priests of one
age, is reinstated or remodelled after its corruption by the
philosophers of another.

XII.  We may here pause a moment to inquire whence the Greeks derived
the most lovely and fascinating of their mythological creations--those
lesser and more terrestrial beings--the spirits of the mountain, the
waters, and the grove.

Throughout the East, from the remotest era, we find that mountains
were nature’s temples.  The sanctity of high places is constantly
recorded in the scriptural writings.  The Chaldaean, the Egyptian, and
the Persian, equally believed that on the summit of mountains they
approached themselves nearer to the oracles of heaven.  But the
fountain, the cavern, and the grove, were no less holy than the
mountain-top in the eyes of the first religionists of the East.
Streams and fountains were dedicated to the Sun, and their exhalations
were supposed to inspire with prophecy, and to breathe of the god.
The gloom of caverns, naturally the brooding-place of awe, was deemed
a fitting scene for diviner revelations--it inspired unearthly
contemplation and mystic revery.  Zoroaster is supposed by Porphyry
(well versed in all Pagan lore, though frequently misunderstanding its
proper character) to have first inculcated the worship of caverns
[37]; and there the early priests held a temple, and primeval
philosophy its retreat [38].  Groves, especially those in high places,
or in the neighbourhood of exhaling streams, were also appropriate to
worship, and conducive to the dreams of an excited and credulous
imagination; and Pekah, the son of Remaliah, burnt incense, not only
on the hills, but “under every green tree.” [39]

These places, then--the mountain, the forest, the stream, and the
cavern, were equally objects of sanctity and awe among the ancient

But we need not necessarily suppose that a superstition so universal
was borrowed, and not conceived, by the early Greeks.  The same causes
which had made them worship the earth and the sea, extended their
faith to the rivers and the mountains, which in a spirit of natural
and simple poetry they called “the children” of those elementary
deities.  The very soil of Greece, broken up and diversified by so
many inequalities, stamped with volcanic features, profuse in streams
and mephitic fountains, contributed to render the feeling of local
divinity prevalent and intense.  Each petty canton had its own Nile,
whose influence upon fertility and culture was sufficient to become
worthy to propitiate, and therefore to personify.  Had Greece been
united under one monarchy, and characterized by one common monotony of
soil, a single river, a single mountain, alone might have been deemed
divine.  It was the number of its tribes--it was the variety of its
natural features, which produced the affluence and prodigality of its
mythological creations.  Nor can we omit from the causes of the
teeming, vivid, and universal superstition of Greece, the accidents of
earthquake and inundation, to which the land appears early and often
to have been exposed.  To the activity and caprice of nature--to the
frequent operation of causes, unrecognised, unforeseen, unguessed, the
Greeks owed much of their disposition to recur to mysterious and
superior agencies--and that wonderful poetry of faith which delighted
to associate the visible with the unseen.  The peculiar character not
only of a people, but of its earlier poets--not only of its soil, but
of its air and heaven, colours the superstition it creates: and most
of the terrestrial demons which the gloomier North clothed with terror
and endowed with malice, took from the benignant genius and the
enchanting climes of Greece the gentlest offices and the fairest
forms;--yet even in Greece itself not universal in their character,
but rather the faithful reflections of the character of each class of
worshippers: thus the graces [40], whose “eyes” in the minstrelsey of
Hesiod “distilled care-beguiling love,” in Lacedaemon were the nymphs
of discipline and war!

In quitting this subject, be one remark permitted in digression: the
local causes which contributed to superstition might conduct in after
times to science.  If the Nature that was so constantly in strange and
fitful action, drove the Greeks in their social infancy to seek agents
for the action and vents for their awe, so, as they advanced to
maturer intellect, it was in Nature herself that they sought the
causes of effects that appeared at first preternatural.  And, in
either stage, their curiosity and interest aroused by the phenomena
around them--the credulous inventions of ignorance gave way to the
eager explanations of philosophy.  Often, in the superstition of one
age, lies the germe that ripens into the inquiry of the next.

XIII.  Pass we now to some examination of the general articles of
faith among the Greeks; their sacrifices and rites of worship.

In all the more celebrated nations of the ancient world, we find
established those twin elements of belief by which religion harmonizes
and directs the social relations of life, viz., a faith in a future
state, and in the providence of superior powers, who, surveying as
judges the affairs of earth, punish the wicked and reward the good
[41].  It has been plausibly conjectured that the fables of Elysium,
the slow Cocytus, and the gloomy Hades, were either invented or
allegorized from the names of Egyptian places.  Diodorus assures us
that by the vast catacombs of Egypt, the dismal mansions of the dead--
were the temple and stream, both called Cocytus, the foul canal of
Acheron, and the Elysian plains [42]; and, according to the same
equivocal authority, the body of the dead was wafted across the
waters by a pilot, termed Charon in the Egyptian tongue.  But,
previous to the embarcation, appointed judges on the margin of the
Acheron listened to whatever accusations were preferred by the living
against the deceased, and if convinced of his misdeeds, deprived him
of the rites of sepulture.  Hence it was supposed that Orpheus
transplanted into Greece the fable of the infernal regions.  But there
is good reason to look on this tale with distrust, and to believe that
the doctrine of a future state was known to the Greeks without any
tuition from Egypt;--while it is certain that the main moral of the
Egyptian ceremony, viz., the judgment of the dead, was not familiar to
the early doctrine of the Greeks.  They did not believe that the good
were rewarded and the bad punished in that dreary future, which they
imbodied in their notions of the kingdom of the shades. [43]

XIV.  Less in the Grecian deities than in the customs in their honour,
may we perceive certain traces of oriental superstition.  We recognise
the usages of the elder creeds in the chosen sites of their temples--
the habitual ceremonies of their worship. It was to the east that the
supplicator turned his face, and he was sprinkled, as a necessary
purification, with the holy water often alluded to by sacred writers
as well as profane--a typical rite entailed from Paganism on the
greater proportion of existing Christendom.  Nor was any oblation duly
prepared until it was mingled with salt--that homely and immemorial
offering, ordained not only by the priests of the heathen idols, but
also prescribed by Moses to the covenant of the Hebrew God. [44]

XV.  We now come to those sacred festivals in celebration of religious
mysteries, which inspire modern times with so earnest an interest.
Perhaps no subject connected with the religion of the ancients has
been cultivated with more laborious erudition, attended with more
barren result.  And with equal truth and wit, the acute and searching
Lobeck has compared the schools of Warburton and St. Croix to the
Sabines, who possessed the faculty of dreaming what they wished.
According to an ancient and still popular account, the dark enigmas of
Eleusis were borrowed from Egypt;--the drama of the Anaglyph [45].
But, in answer to this theory, we must observe, that even if really,
at their commencement, the strange and solemn rites which they are
asserted to have been--mystical ceremonies grow so naturally out of
the connexion between the awful and the unknown--were found so
generally among the savages of the ancient world--howsoever dispersed
--and still so frequently meet the traveller on shores to which it is
indeed a wild speculation to assert that the oriental wisdom ever
wandered, that it is more likely that they were the offspring of the
native ignorance [46], than the sublime importation of a symbolical
philosophy utterly ungenial to the tribes to which it was
communicated, and the times to which the institution is referred.  And
though I would assign to the Eleusinian Mysteries a much earlier date
than Lobeck is inclined to affix [47], I search in vain for a more
probable supposition of the causes of their origin than that which he
suggests, and which I now place before the reader.  We have seen that
each Grecian state had its peculiar and favourite deities, propitiated
by varying ceremonies.  The early Greeks imagined that their gods
might be won from them by the more earnest prayers and the more
splendid offerings of their neighbours; the Homeric heroes found their
claim for divine protection on the number of the offerings they have
rendered to the deity they implore.  And how far the jealous desire to
retain to themselves the favour of tutelary gods was entertained by
the Greeks, may be illustrated by the instances specially alluding to
the low and whispered voice in which prayers were addressed to the
superior powers, lest the enemy should hear the address, and vie with
interested emulation for the celestial favour.  The Eleusinians, in
frequent hostilities with their neighbours, the Athenians, might very
reasonably therefore exclude the latter from the ceremonies instituted
in honour of their guardian divinities, Demeter and Persephone (i. e.,
Ceres and Proserpine).  And we may here add, that secrecy once
established, the rites might at a very early period obtain, and
perhaps deserve, an enigmatic and mystic character.  But when, after a
signal defeat of the Eleusinians, the two states were incorporated,
the union was confirmed by a joint participation in the ceremony [48]
to which a political cause would thus give a more formal and solemn
dignity.  This account of the origin of the Eleusinian Mysteries is
not indeed capable of demonstration, but it seems to me at least the
most probable in itself, and the most conformable to the habits of the
Greeks, as to those of all early nations.

Certain it is that for a long time the celebration of the Eleusinian
ceremonies was confined to these two neighbouring states, until, as
various causes contributed to unite the whole of Greece in a common
religion and a common name, admission was granted all Greeks of all
ranks, male and female,--provided they had committed no inexpiable
offence, performed the previous ceremonies required, and were
introduced by an Athenian citizen.

With the growing flame and splendour of Athens, this institution rose
into celebrity and magnificence, until it appears to have become the
most impressive spectacle of the heathen world.  It is evident that a
people so imitative would reject no innovations or additions that
could increase the interest or the solemnity of exhibition; and still
less such as might come (through whatsoever channel) from that antique
and imposing Egypt, which excited so much of their veneration and
wonder.  Nor do I think it possible to account for the great
similarity attested by Herodotus and others, between the mysteries of
Isis and those of Ceres, as well as for the resemblance in less
celebrated ceremonies between the rites of Egypt and of Greece,
without granting at once, that mediately, or even immediately, the
superstitious of the former exercised great influence upon, and
imparted many features to, those of the latter.  But the age in which
this religious communication principally commenced has been a matter
of graver dispute than the question merits.  A few solitary and
scattered travellers and strangers may probably have given rise to it
at a very remote period; but, upon the whole, it appears to me that,
with certain modifications, we must agree with Lobeck, and the more
rational schools of inquiry, that it was principally in the interval
between the Homeric age and the Persian war that mysticism passed into
religion--that superstition assumed the attributes of a science--and
that lustrations, auguries, orgies, obtained method and system from
the exuberant genius of poetical fanaticism.

That in these august mysteries, doctrines contrary to the popular
religion were propounded, is a theory that has, I think, been
thoroughly overturned.  The exhibition of ancient statues, relics, and
symbols, concealed from daily adoration (as in the Catholic festivals
of this day), probably, made a main duty of the Hierophant.  But in a
ceremony in honour of Ceres, the blessings of agriculture, and its
connexion with civilization, were also very naturally dramatized.  The
visit of the goddess to the Infernal Regions might form an imposing
part of the spectacle: spectral images--alternations of light and
darkness--all the apparitions and effects that are said to have
imparted so much awe to the mysteries, may well have harmonized with,
not contravened, the popular belief.  And there is no reason to
suppose that the explanations given by the priests did more than
account for mythological stories, agreeably to the spirit and form of
the received mythology, or deduce moral maxims from the
representation, as hackneyed, as simple, and as ancient, as the
generality of moral aphorisms are.  But, as the intellectual progress
of the audience advanced, philosophers, skeptical of the popular
religion, delighted to draw from such imposing representations a
thousand theories and morals utterly unknown to the vulgar; and the
fancies and refinements of later schoolmen have thus been mistaken for
the notions of an early age and a promiscuous multitude.  The single
fact (so often insisted upon), that all Greeks were admissible, is
sufficient alone to prove that no secrets incompatible with the common
faith, or very important in themselves, could either have been
propounded by the priests or received by the audience.  And it may be
further observed, in corroboration of so self-evident a truth, that it
was held an impiety to the popular faith to reject the initiation of
the mysteries--and that some of the very writers, most superstitious
with respect to the one, attach the most solemnity to the ceremonies
of the other.

XVI.  Sanchoniathon wrote a work, now lost, on the worship of the
serpent.  This most ancient superstition, found invariably in Egypt
and the East, is also to be traced through many of the legends and
many of the ceremonies of the Greeks.  The serpent was a frequent
emblem of various gods--it was often kept about the temples--it was
introduced in the mysteries--it was everywhere considered sacred.
Singular enough, by the way, that while with us the symbol of the evil
spirit, the serpent was generally in the East considered a benefactor.
In India, the serpent with a thousand heads; in Egypt, the serpent
crowned with the lotos-leaf, is a benign and paternal deity.  It was
not uncommon for fable to assert that the first civilizers of earth
were half man, half serpent.  Thus was Fohi of China [49] represented,
and thus Cecrops of Athens.

XVII.  But the most remarkable feature of the superstition of Greece
was her sacred oracles.  And these again bring our inquiries back to
Egypt.  Herodotus informs us that the oracle of Dodona was by far the
most ancient in Greece [50], and he then proceeds to inform us of its
origin, which he traces to Thebes in Egypt.  But here we are beset by
contradictions: Herodotus, on the authority of the Egyptian priests,
ascribes the origin of the Dodona and Lybian oracles to two
priestesses of the Theban Jupiter--stolen by Phoenician pirates--one
of whom, sold into Greece, established at Dodona an oracle similar to
that which she had served at Thebes.  But in previous passages
Herodotus informs us, 1st, that in Egypt, no priestesses served the
temples of any deity, male or female; and 2dly, that when the
Egyptians imparted to the Pelasgi the names of their divinities, the
Pelasgi consulted the oracle of Dodona on the propriety of adopting
them; so that that oracle existed before even the first and
fundamental revelations of Egyptian religion.  It seems to me,
therefore, a supposition that demands less hardy assumption, and is
equally conformable with the universal superstitions of mankind (since
similar attempts at divination are to be found among so many nations
similarly barbarous) to believe that the oracle arose from the
impressions of the Pelasgi [51] and the natural phenomena of the spot;
though at a subsequent period the manner of the divination was very
probably imitated from that adopted by the Theban oracle.  And in
examining the place it indeed seems as if Nature herself had been the
Egyptian priestess!  Through a mighty grove of oaks there ran a
stream, whose waters supplied a fountain that might well appear, to
ignorant wonder, endowed with preternatural properties.  At a certain
hour of noon it was dry, and at midnight full.  Such springs have
usually been deemed oracular, not only in the East, but in almost
every section of the globe.

At first, by the murmuring of waters, and afterward by noises among
the trees, the sacred impostors interpreted the voice of the god.  It
is an old truth, that mystery is always imposing and often convenient.
To plain questions were given dark answers, which might admit of
interpretation according to the event.  The importance attached to the
oracle, the respect paid to the priest, and the presents heaped on the
altar, indicated to craft and ambition a profitable profession.  And
that profession became doubly alluring to its members, because it
proffered to the priests an authority in serving the oracles which
they could not obtain in the general religion of the people.  Oracles
increased then, at first slowly, and afterward rapidly, until they
grew so numerous that the single district of Boeotia contained no less
than twenty-five.  The oracle of Dodona long, however, maintained its
pre-eminence over the rest, and was only at last eclipsed by that of
Delphi [52], where strong and intoxicating exhalations from a
neighbouring stream were supposed to confer prophetic phrensy.
Experience augmented the sagacity of the oracles, and the priests, no
doubt, intimately acquainted with all the affairs of the states
around, and viewing the living contests of action with the coolness of
spectators, were often enabled to give shrewd and sensible
admonitions,--so that the forethought of wisdom passed for the
prescience of divinity.  Hence the greater part of their predictions
were eminently successful; and when the reverse occurred, the fault
was laid on the blind misconstruction of the human applicant.  Thus no
great design was executed, no city founded, no colony planted, no war
undertaken, without the advice of an oracle.  In the famine, the
pestilence, and the battle, the divine voice was the assuager of
terror and the inspirer of hope.  All the instincts of our frailer
nature, ever yearning for some support that is not of the world, were
enlisted in behalf of a superstition which proffered solutions to
doubt, and remedies to distress.

Besides this general cause for the influence of oracles, there was
another cause calculated to give to the oracles of Greece a marked and
popular pre-eminence over those in Egypt.  A country divided into
several small, free, and warlike states, would be more frequently in
want of the divine advice, than one united under a single monarchy, or
submitted to the rigid austerity of castes and priestcraft; and in
which the inhabitants felt for political affairs all the languid
indifference habitual to the subjects of a despotic government.  Half
a century might pass in Egypt without any political event that would
send anxious thousands to the oracle; but in the wonderful ferment,
activity, and restlessness of the numerous Grecian towns, every month,
every week, there was some project or some feud for which the advice
of a divinity was desired.  Hence it was chiefly to a political cause
that the immortal oracle of Delphi owed its pre-eminent importance.
The Dorian worshippers of Apollo (long attached to that oracle, then
comparatively obscure), passing from its neighbourhood and befriended
by its predictions, obtained the mastership of the Peloponnesus;--
their success was the triumph of the oracle.  The Dorian Sparta (long
the most powerful of the Grecian states), inviolably faithful to the
Delphian god, upheld his authority, and spread the fame of his
decrees.  But in the more polished and enlightened times, the
reputation of the oracle gradually decayed; it shone the brightest
before and during the Persian war;--the appropriate light of an age of
chivalry fading slowly as philosophy arose!

XVIII.  But the practice of divination did not limit itself to these
more solemn sources--its enthusiasm was contagious--its assistance was
ever at hand [53]. Enthusiasm operated on the humblest individuals.
One person imagined himself possessed by a spirit actually passing
into his soul--another merely inspired by the divine breath--a third
was cast into supernatural ecstasies, in which he beheld the shadow of
events, or the visions of a god--a threefold species of divine
possession, which we may still find recognised by the fanatics of a
graver faith!  Nor did this suffice: a world of omens surrounded every
man.  There were not only signs and warnings in the winds, the
earthquake, the eclipse of the sun or moon, the meteor, or the
thunderbolt--but dreams also were reduced to a science [54]; the
entrails of victims were auguries of evil or of good; the flights of
birds, the motions of serpents, the clustering of bees, had their
mystic and boding interpretations.  Even hasty words, an accident, a
fall on the earth, a sneeze (for which we still invoke the ancient
blessing), every singular or unwonted event, might become portentous,
and were often rendered lucky or unlucky according to the dexterity or
disposition of the person to whom they occurred.

And although in later times much of this more frivolous superstition
passed away--although Theophrastus speaks of such lesser omens with
the same witty disdain as that with which the Spectator ridicules our
fears at the upsetting of a salt-cellar, or the appearance of a
winding-sheet in a candle,--yet, in the more interesting period of
Greece, these popular credulities were not disdained by the nobler or
wiser few, and to the last they retained that influence upon the mass
which they lost with individuals.  And it is only by constantly
remembering this universal atmosphere of religion, that we can imbue
ourselves with a correct understanding of the character of the Greeks
in their most Grecian age.  Their faith was with them ever--in sorrow
or in joy--at the funeral or the feast--in their uprisings and their
downsittings--abroad and at home--at the hearth and in the
market-place--in the camp or at the altar.  Morning and night all the
greater tribes of the elder world offered their supplications on high:
and Plato has touchingly insisted on this sacred uniformity of custom,
when he tells us that at the rising of the moon and at the dawning of
the sun, you may behold Greeks and barbarians--all the nations of the
earth--bowing in homage to the gods.

XIX.  To sum up, the above remarks conduce to these principal
conclusions; First, that the Grecian mythology cannot be moulded into
any of the capricious and fantastic systems of erudite ingenuity: as a
whole, no mythology can be considered more strikingly original, not
only because its foundations appear indigenous, and based upon the
character and impressions of the people--not only because at no one
period, from the earliest even to the latest date, whatever occasional
resemblances may exist, can any identify be established between its
most popular and essential creations, and those of any other faith;
but because, even all that it borrowed it rapidly remodelled and
naturalized, growing yet more individual from its very complexity, yet
more original from the plagiarisms which it embraced; Secondly, that
it differed in many details in the different states, but under the
development of a general intercourse, assisted by a common language,
the plastic and tolerant genius of the people harmonized all discords
--until (catholic in its fundamental principles) her religion united
the whole of Greece in indissoluble bonds of faith and poetry--of
daily customs and venerable traditions; Thirdly, that the influence of
other creeds, though by no means unimportant in amplifying the
character, and adding to the list of the primitive deities, appears
far more evident in the ceremonies and usages than the personal
creations of the faith.  We may be reasonably skeptical as to what
Herodotus heard of the origin of rites or gods from Egyptian priests;
but there is no reason to disbelieve the testimony of his experience,
when he asserts, that the forms and solemnities of one worship closely
resemble those of another; the imitation of a foreign ceremony is
perfectly compatible with the aboriginal invention of a national god.
For the rest, I think it might be (and by many scholars appears to me
to have been) abundantly shown, that the Phoenician influences upon
the early mythology of the Greeks were far greater than the Egyptian,
though by degrees, and long after the heroic age, the latter became
more eagerly adopted and more superficially apparent.

In quitting this part of our subject, let it be observed, as an
additional illustration of the remarkable nationality of the Grecian
mythology, that our best light to the manners of the Homeric men, is
in the study of the Homeric gods.  In Homer we behold the mythology of
an era, for analogy to which we search in vain the records of the
East--that mythology is inseparably connected with the constitution of
limited monarchies,--with the manners of an heroic age:--the power of
the sovereign of the aristocracy of heaven is the power of a Grecian
king over a Grecian state:--the social life of the gods is the life
most coveted by the Grecian heroes;--the uncertain attributes of the
deities, rather physical or intellectual than moral--strength and
beauty, sagacity mixed with cunning--valour with ferocity--inclination
to war, yet faculties for the inventions of peace; such were the
attributes most honoured among men, in the progressive, but still
uncivilized age which makes the interval so pre-eminently Grecian--
between the mythical and historic times.  Vain and impotent are all
attempts to identify that religion of Achaian warriors with the
religion of oriental priests.  It was indeed symbolical--but of the
character of its believers; typical--but of the restless, yet
poetical, daring, yet graceful temperament, which afterward conducted
to great achievements and imperishable arts: the coming events of
glory cast their shadows before, in fable.

XX.  There now opens to us a far more important inquiry than that into
the origin and form of the religion of the Greeks; namely, the
influences of that religion itself upon their character--their morals
--their social and intellectual tendencies.

The more we can approach the Deity to ourselves--the more we can
invest him with human attributes--the more we can connect him with the
affairs and sympathies of earth, the greater will be his influence
upon our conduct--the more fondly we shall contemplate his attributes,
the more timidly we shall shrink from his vigilance, the more
anxiously we shall strive for his approval.  When Epicurus allowed the
gods to exist, but imagined them wholly indifferent to the concerns of
men, contemplating only their own happiness, and regardless alike of
our virtues or our crimes;--with that doctrine he robbed man of the
divinity, as effectually as if he had denied his existence.  The fear
of the gods could not be before the eyes of votaries who believed that
the gods were utterly careless of their conduct; and not only the
awful control of religion was removed from their passions, but the
more beautiful part of its influence, resulting not from terror but
from hope, was equally blasted and destroyed: For if the fear of the
divine power serves to restrain the less noble natures, so, on the
other hand, with such as are more elevated and generous, there is no
pleasure like the belief that we are regarded with approbation and
love by a Being of ineffable majesty and goodness--who compassionates
our misfortunes--who rewards our struggles with ourselves.  It is this
hope which gives us a pride in our own natures, and which not only
restrains us from vice, but inspires us with an emulation to arouse
within us all that is great and virtuous, in order the more to deserve
his love, and feel the image of divinity reflected upon the soul.  It
is for this reason that we are not contented to leave the character of
a God uncertain and unguessed, shrouded in the darkness of his own
infinite power; we clothe him with the attributes of human excellence,
carried only to an extent beyond humanity; and cannot conceive a deity
not possessed of the qualities--such as justice, wisdom, and
benevolence--which are most venerated among mankind.  But if we
believe that he has passed to earth--that he has borne our shape, that
he has known our sorrows--the connexion becomes yet more intimate and
close; we feel as if he could comprehend us better, and compassionate
more benignly our infirmities and our griefs.  The Christ that has
walked the earth, and suffered on the cross, can be more readily
pictured to our imagination, and is more familiarly before us, than
the Dread Eternal One, who hath the heaven for his throne, and the
earth only for his footstool [55].  And it is this very humanness of
connexion, so to speak, between man and the Saviour, which gives to
the Christian religion, rightly embraced, its peculiar sentiment of
gentleness and of love.

But somewhat of this connexion, though in a more corrupt degree,
marked also the religion of the Greeks; they too believed (at least
the multitude) that most of the deities had appeared on earth, and
been the actual dispensers of the great benefits of social life.
Transferred to heaven, they could more readily understand that those
divinities regarded with interest the nations to which they had been
made visible, and exercised a permanent influence over the earth,
which had been for a while their home.

Retaining the faith that the deities had visited the world, the Greeks
did not however implicitly believe the fables which degraded them by
our weaknesses and vices.  They had, as it were--and this seems not to
have been rightly understood by the moderns--two popular mythologies--
the first consecrated to poetry, and the second to actual life.  If a
man were told to imitate the gods, it was by the virtues of justice,
temperance, and benevolence [56]; and had he obeyed the mandate by
emulating the intrigues of Jupiter, or the homicides of Mars, he would
have been told by the more enlightened that those stories were the
inventions of the poets; and by the more credulous that gods might be
emancipated from laws, but men were bound by them--“Superis sea jura”
 [57]--their own laws to the gods!  It is true, then, that those fables
were preserved--were held in popular respect, but the reverence they
excited among the Greeks was due to a poetry which flattered their
national pride and enchained their taste, and not to the serious
doctrines of their religion.  Constantly bearing this distinction in
mind, we shall gain considerable insight, not only into their
religion, but into seeming contradictions in their literary history.
They allowed Aristophanes to picture Bacchus as a buffoon, and
Hercules as a glutton, in the same age in which they persecuted
Socrates for neglect of the sacred mysteries and contempt of the
national gods.  To that part of their religion which belonged to the
poets they permitted the fullest license; but to the graver portion of
religion--to the existence of the gods--to a belief in their
collective excellence, and providence, and power--to the sanctity of
asylums--to the obligation of oaths--they showed the most jealous and
inviolable respect.  The religion of the Greeks, then, was a great
support and sanction to their morals; it inculcated truth, mercy,
justice, the virtues most necessary to mankind, and stimulated to them
by the rigid and popular belief that excellence was approved and guilt
was condemned by the superior powers [58].  And in that beautiful
process by which the common sense of mankind rectifies the errors of
imagination--those fables which subsequent philosophers rightly deemed
dishonourable to the gods, and which the superficial survey of modern
historians has deemed necessarily prejudicial to morals--had no
unworthy effect upon the estimate taken by the Greeks whether of human
actions or of heavenly natures.

XXI.  For a considerable period the Greeks did not carry the notion of
divine punishment beyond the grave, except in relation to those
audacious criminals who had blasphemed or denied the gods; it was by
punishments in this world that the guilty were afflicted.  And this
doctrine, if less sublime than that of eternal condemnation, was, I
apprehend, on regarding the principles of human nature, equally
effective in restraining crime: for our human and short-sighted minds
are often affected by punishments, in proportion as they are human and
speedy.  A penance in the future world is less fearful and distinct,
especially to the young and the passionate, than an unavoidable
retribution in this.  Man, too fondly or too vainly, hopes, by
penitence at the close of life, to redeem the faults of the
commencement, and punishment deferred loses more than half its
terrors, and nearly all its certainty.

As long as the Greeks were left solely to their mythology, their views
of a future state were melancholy and confused.  Death was an evil,
not a release.  Even in their Elysium, their favourite heroes seem to
enjoy but a frigid and unenviable immortality.  Yet this saddening
prospect of the grave rather served to exhilarate life, and stimulate
to glory:--“Make the most of existence,” say their early poets, “for
soon comes the dreary Hades!”  And placed beneath a delightful
climate, and endowed with a vivacious and cheerful temperament, they
yielded readily to the precept.  Their religion was eminently glad and
joyous; even the stern Spartans lost their austerity in their sacred
rites, simple and manly though they were--and the gayer Athenians
passed existence in an almost perpetual circle of festivals and

This uncertainty of posthumous happiness contributed also to the
desire of earthly fame.  For below at least, their heroes taught them,
immortality was not impossible.  Bounded by impenetrable shadows to
this world, they coveted all that in this world was most to be desired
[59].  A short life is acceptable to Achilles, not if it lead to
Elysium, but if it be accompanied with glory.  By degrees, however,
prospects of a future state, nobler and more august, were opened by
their philosophers to the hopes of the Greeks.  Thales was asserted to
be the first Greek who maintained the immortality of the soul, and
that sublime doctrine was thus rather established by the philosopher
than the priest. [60]

XXII.  Besides the direct tenets of religion, the mysteries of the
Greeks exercised an influence on their morals, which, though greatly
exaggerated by modern speculators, was, upon the whole, beneficial,
though not from the reasons that have been assigned.  As they grew up
into their ripened and mature importance--their ceremonial, rather
than their doctrine, served to deepen and diffuse a reverence for
religious things.  Whatever the licentiousness of other mysteries
(especially in Italy), the Eleusinian rites long retained their renown
for purity and decorum; they were jealously watched by the Athenian
magistracy, and one of the early Athenian laws enacted that the senate
should assemble the day after their celebration to inquire into any
abuse that might have sullied their sacred character.  Nor is it,
perhaps, without justice in the later times, that Isocrates lauds
their effect on morality, and Cicero their influence on civilization
and the knowledge of social principles.  The lustrations and
purifications, at whatever period their sanctity was generally
acknowledged, could scarcely fail of salutary effects.  They were
supposed to absolve the culprit from former crimes, and restore him, a
new man, to the bosom of society.  This principle is a great agent of
morality, and was felt as such in the earlier era of Christianity: no
corrupter is so deadly as despair; to reconcile a criminal with
self-esteem is to readmit him, as it were, to virtue.

Even the fundamental error of the religion in point of doctrine, viz.,
its polytheism, had one redeeming consequence in the toleration which
it served to maintain--the grave evils which spring up from the fierce
antagonism of religious opinions, were, save in a few solitary and
dubious instances, unknown to the Greeks.  And this general
toleration, assisted yet more by the absence of a separate caste of
priests, tended to lead to philosophy through the open and
unchallenged portals of religion.  Speculations on the gods connected
themselves with bold inquiries into nature.  Thought let loose in the
wide space of creation--no obstacle to its wanderings--no monopoly of
its commerce--achieved, after many a wild and fruitless voyage,
discoveries unknown to the past--of imperishable importance to the
future.  The intellectual adventurers of Greece planted the first flag
upon the shores of philosophy; for the competition of errors is
necessary to the elucidation of truths; and the imagination indicates
the soil which the reason is destined to culture and possess.

XXIII.  While such was the influence of their religion on the morals
and the philosophy of the Greeks, what was its effect upon their
national genius?

We must again remember that the Greeks were the only nation among the
more intellectual of that day, who stripped their deities of
symbolical attributes, and did not aspire to invent for gods shapes
differing (save in loftier beauty) from the aspect and form of man.
And thus at once was opened to them the realm of sculpture.  The
people of the East, sometimes indeed depicting their deities in human
forms, did not hesitate to change them into monsters, if the addition
of another leg or another arm, a dog’s head or a serpent’s tail, could
better express the emblem they represented.  They perverted their
images into allegorical deformities; and receded from the beautiful in
proportion as they indulged their false conceptions of the sublime.
Besides, a painter or a sculptor must have a clear idea presented to
him, to be long cherished and often revolved, if we desire to call
forth all the inspiration of which his genius may be capable; but how
could the eastern artist form a clear idea of an image that should
represent the sun entering Aries, or the productive principle of
nature?  Such creations could not fail of becoming stiff or
extravagant, deformed or grotesque.  But to the Greek, a god was
something like the most majestic or the most beautiful of his own
species.  He studied the human shape for his conceptions of the
divine.  Intent upon the natural, he ascended to the ideal. [61]

If such the effect of the Grecian religion upon sculpture, similar and
equal its influence upon poetry.  The earliest verses of the Greeks
appear to have been of a religious, though I see no sufficient reason
for asserting that they were therefore of a typical and mystic,
character.  However that be, the narrative succeeding to the sacred
poetry materialized all it touched.  The shadows of Olympus received
the breath of Homer, and the gods grew at once life-like and palpable
to men.  The traditions which connected the deities with humanity--the
genius which divested them of allegory--gave at once to the epic and
the tragic poet the supernatural world.  The inhabitants of heaven
itself became individualized--bore each a separate character--could be
rendered distinct, dramatic, as the creatures of daily life.  Thus--an
advantage which no moderns ever have possessed--with all the ineffable
grandeur of deities was combined all the familiar interest of mortals;
and the poet, by preserving the characteristics allotted to each god,
might make us feel the associations and sympathies of earth, even when
he bore us aloft to the unknown Olympus, or plunged below amid the
shades of Orcus.

The numerous fables mixed with the Grecian creed, sufficiently
venerable, as we have seen, not to be disdained, but not so sacred as
to be forbidden, were another advantage to the poet.  For the
traditions of a nation are its poetry!  And if we moderns, in the
German forest, or the Scottish highlands, or the green English fields,
yet find inspiration in the notions of fiend, and sprite, and fairy,
not acknowledged by our religion, not appended as an apocryphal
adjunct to our belief, how much more were those fables adapted to
poetry, which borrowed not indeed an absolute faith, but a certain
shadow, a certain reverence and mystery, from religion!  Hence we find
that the greatest works of imagination which the Greeks have left us,
whether of Homer, of Aeschylus, or of Sophocles, are deeply indebted
to their mythological legends.  The Grecian poetry, like the Grecian
religion, was at once half human, half divine--majestic, vast, august
--household, homely, and familiar.  If we might borrow an illustration
from the philosophy of Democritus, its earthlier dreams and
divinations were indeed the impressions of mighty and spectral images
inhabiting the air. [62]

XXIV.  Of the religion of Greece, of its rites and ceremonies, and of
its influence upon the moral and intellectual faculties--this--
already, I fear, somewhat too prolixly told--is all that at present I
deem it necessary to say. [63]

We have now to consider the origin of slavery in Greece, an inquiry
almost equally important to our accurate knowledge of her polity and

XXV.  Wherever we look--to whatsoever period of history--conquest, or
the settlement of more enlightened colonizers amid a barbarous tribe,
seems the origin of slavery--modified according to the spirit of the
times, the humanity of the victor, or the policy of the lawgiver.  The
aboriginals of Greece were probably its earliest slaves [64],--yet the
aboriginals might be also its earliest lords.  Suppose a certain tribe
to overrun a certain country--conquer and possess it: new settlers are
almost sure to be less numerous than the inhabitants they subdue; in
proportion as they are the less powerful in number are they likely to
be the more severe in authority: they will take away the arms of the
vanquished--suppress the right of meetings--make stern and terrible
examples against insurgents--and, in a word, quell by the moral
constraint of law those whom it would be difficult to control merely
by, physical force;--the rigidity of the law being in ratio to the
deficiency of the force.  In times semi-civilized, and even
comparatively enlightened, conquerors have little respect for the
conquered--an immense and insurmountable distinction is at once made
between the natives and their lords.  All ancient nations seem to have
considered that the right of conquest gave a right to the lands of the
conquered country.  William dividing England among his Normans is but
an imitator of every successful invader of ancient times.  The
new-comers having gained the land of a subdued people, that people, in
order to subsist, must become the serfs of the land [65].  The more
formidable warriors are mostly slain, or exiled, or conciliated by
some remains of authority and possessions; the multitude remain the
labourers of the soil, and slight alterations of law will
imperceptibly convert the labourer into the slave.  The earliest
slaves appear chiefly to have been the agricultural population.  If
the possession of the government were acquited by colonizers [66],--
not so much by the force of arms as by the influence of superior arts
--the colonizers would in some instances still establish servitude for
the multitude, though not under so harsh a name.  The laws they would
frame for an uncultured and wretched population, would distinguish
between the colonizers and the aboriginals (excepting perhaps only the
native chiefs, accustomed arbitrarily to command, though not
systematically to enslave the rest).  The laws for the aboriginal
population would still be an improvement on their previous savage and
irregulated state--and generations might pass before they would attain
a character of severity, or before they made the final and
ineffaceable distinction between the freeman and the slave.  The
perturbed restlessness and constant migration of tribes in Greece,
recorded both by tradition and by history, would consequently tend at
a very remote period to the institution and diffusion of slavery and
the Pelasgi of one tribe would become the masters of the Pelasgi of
another.  There is, therefore, no necessity to look out of Greece for
the establishment of servitude in that country by conquest and war.
But the peaceful colonization of foreign settlers would (as we have
seen) lead to it by slower and more gentle degrees.  And the piracies
of the Phoenicians, which embraced the human species as an article of
their market, would be an example, more prevalent and constant than
their own, to the piracies of the early Greeks.  The custom of
servitude, thus commenced, is soon fed by new sources.  Prisoners of
war are enslaved, or, at the will of the victor, exchanged as an
article of commerce.  Before the interchange of money, we have
numerous instances of the barter of prisoners for food and arms.  And
as money became the medium of trade, so slaves became a regular
article of sale and purchase.  Hence the origin of the slave-market.
Luxury increasing slaves were purchased not merely for the purposes of
labour, but of pleasure.  The accomplished musician of the beautiful
virgin was an article of taste or a victim of passion.  Thus, what it
was the tendency of barbarism to originate, it became the tendency of
civilization to increase.

Slavery, then, originated first in conquest and war, piracy, or
colonization: secondly, in purchase.  There were two other and
subordinate sources of the institution--the first was crime, the
second poverty.  If a free citizen committed a heinous offence, he
could be degraded into a slave--if he were unable to pay his debts,
the creditor could claim his person.  Incarceration is merely a
remnant and substitute of servitude.  The two latter sources failed as
nations became more free.  But in Attica it was not till the time of
Solon, several centuries after the institution of slavery at Athens,
that the right of the creditor to the personal services of the debtor
was formally abolished.

A view of the moral effects of slavery--of the condition of the slaves
at Athens--of the advantages of the system and its evils--of the light
in which it was regarded by the ancients themselves, other and more
fitting opportunities will present to us.

XXVI.  The introduction of an hereditary aristocracy into a particular
country, as yet uncivilized, is often simultaneous with that of
slavery.  A tribe of warriors possess and subdue a territory;--they
share its soil with the chief in proportion to their connexion with
his person, or their military services and repute--each becomes the
lord of lands and slaves--each has privileges above the herd of the
conquered population.  Suppose again, that the dominion is acquired by
colonizers rather than conquerors; the colonizers, superior in
civilization to the natives,--and regarded by the latter with
reverence and awe, would become at once a privileged and noble order.
Hence, from either source, an aristocracy permanent and hereditary
[67].  If founded on conquest, in proportion to the number of the
victors, is that aristocracy more or less oligarchical.  The extreme
paucity of force with which the Dorians conquered their neighbours,
was one of the main causes why the governments they established were
rigidly oligarchical.

XXVII.  Proceeding onward, we find that in this aristocracy, are
preserved the seeds of liberty and the germe of republicanism.  These
conquerors, like our feudal barons, being sharers of the profit of the
conquest and the glory of the enterprise, by no means allow undivided
and absolute authority to their chiefs.  Governed by separate laws--
distinguished by separate privileges from the subdued community, they
are proud of their own freedom, the more it is contrasted with the
servitude of the population: they preserve liberty for themselves--
they resist the undue assumptions of the king [68]--and keep alive
that spirit and knowledge of freedom which in after times (as their
numbers increase, and they become a people, distinct still from the
aboriginal natives, who continue slaves) are transfused from the
nobles to the multitude.  In proportion as the new race are warlike
will their unconscious spirit be that of republicanism; the connexion
between martial and republican tendencies was especially recognised by
all ancient writers: and the warlike habits of the Hellenes were the
cradle of their political institutions.  Thus, in conquest (or
sometimes in immigration) we may trace the origin of an aristocracy
[69], as of slavery, and thus, by a deeper inquiry, we may find also
that the slavery of a population and the freedom of a state have their
date, though dim and undeveloped, in the same epoch.

XXVIII.  I have thought that the supposed Egyptian colonization of
Attica under Cecrops afforded the best occasion to treat of the above
matters, not so much in reference to Cecrops himself as to the
migration of Eastern and Egyptian adventurers.  Of such migrations the
dates may be uncertain--of such adventurers the names may be unknown.
But it seems to me impossible to deny the fact of foreign settlements
in Greece, in her remoter and more barbarous era, though we may
dispute as to the precise amount of the influence they exercised, and
the exact nature of the rites and customs they established.

A belief in the early connexion between the Egyptians and Athenians,
encouraged by the artful vanity of the one, was welcomed by the lively
credulity of the other.  Many ages after the reputed sway of the
mythical Cecrops, it was fondly imagined that traces of their origin
from the solemn Egypt [70] were yet visible among the graceful and
versatile people, whose character was as various, yet as
individualized, as their religion--who, viewed in whatsoever aspect of
their intellectual history, may appear constantly differing, yet
remain invariably Athenian.  Whether clamouring in the Agora--whether
loitering in the Academe--whether sacrificing to Hercules in the
temple--whether laughing at Hercules on the stage--whether with
Miltiades arming against the Mede--whether with Demosthenes declaiming
against the Macedonian--still unmistakeable, unexampled, original, and
alone--in their strength or their weakness, their wisdom or their
foibles their turbulent action, their cultivated repose.


The unimportant consequences to be deduced from the admission that
Cecrops might be Egyptian.--Attic Kings before Theseus.--The
Hellenes.--Their Genealogy.--Ionians and Achaeans Pelasgic.--Contrast
between Dorians and Ionians.--Amphictyonic League.

I.  In allowing that there does not appear sufficient evidence to
induce us to reject the tale of the Egyptian origin of Cecrops, it
will be already observed, that I attach no great importance to the
dispute: and I am not inclined reverently to regard the innumerable
theories that have been built on so uncertain a foundation.  An
Egyptian may have migrated to Attica, but Egyptian influence in Attica
was faint and evanescent;--arrived at the first dawn of historical
fact, it is with difficulty that we discover the most dubious and
shadowy vestiges of its existence.  Neither Cecrops nor any other
Egyptian in those ages is recorded to have founded a dynasty in
Attica--it is clear that none established a different language--and
all the boasted analogies of religion fade, on a close examination,
into an occasional resemblance between the symbols and attributes of
Egyptian and Grecian deities, or a similarity in mystic ceremonies and
solemn institutions, which, for the most part, was almost indisputably
formed by intercourse between Greece and Egypt in a far later age.
Taking the earliest epoch at which history opens, and comparing the
whole character of the Athenian people--moral, social, religious, and
political--with that of any Egyptian population, it is not possible to
select a more startling contrast, or one in which national character
seems more indelibly formed by the early and habitual adoption of
utterly opposite principles of thought and action. [71]

I said that Cecrops founded no dynasty: the same traditions that bring
him from Egypt give him Cranaus, a native, for his successor.  The
darkness of fable closes over the interval between the reign of
Cranaus and the time of Theseus: if tradition be any guide whatsoever,
the history of that period was the history of the human race--it was
the gradual passage of men from a barbarous state to the dawn of
civilization--and the national mythi only gather in wild and beautiful
fictions round every landmark in their slow and encumbered progress.

It would be very possible, by a little ingenious application of the
various fables transmitted to us, to construct a history of imagined
conquests and invented revolutions; and thus to win the unmerited
praise of throwing a new light upon those remote ages.  But when fable
is our only basis--no fabric we erect, however imposing in itself, can
be rightly entitled to the name of history.  And, as in certain
ancient chronicles it is recorded merely of undistinguished monarchs
that they “lived and died,” so such an assertion is precisely that
which it would be the most presumptuous to make respecting the shadowy
kings who, whether in Eusebius or the Parian marble, give dates and
chronicles to the legendary gloom which preceded the heroic age.

The principal event recorded in these early times, for which there
seems some foundation, is a war between Erechtheus of Athens and the
Eleusinians;--the last assisted or headed by the Thracian Eumolpus.
Erechtheus is said to have fallen a victim in this contest.  But a
treaty afterward concluded with the Eleusinians confirmed the
ascendency of Athens, and, possibly, by a religious ceremonial, laid
the foundation of the Eleusinian mysteries.  In this contest is
introduced a very doubtful personage, under the appellation of Ion (to
whom I shall afterward recur), who appears on the side of the
Athenians, and who may be allowed to have exercised a certain
influence over them, whether in religious rites or political
institutions, though he neither attained to the throne, nor seems to
have exceeded the peaceful authority of an ally.  Upon the dim and
confused traditions relative to Ion, the wildest and most luxuriant
speculations have been grafted--prolix to notice, unnecessary to

II.  During this period there occurred--not rapidly, but slowly--the
most important revolution of early Greece, viz., the spread of that
tribe termed the Hellenes, who gradually established their
predominance throughout the land, impressed indelible traces on the
national character, and finally converted their own into the national

I have already expressed my belief that the Pelasgi were not a
barbarous race, speaking a barbarous tongue, but that they were akin
to the Hellenes, who spoke the Grecian language, and are considered
the proper Grecian family.  Even the dubious record of genealogy
(which, if fabulous in itself, often under the names of individuals
typifies the affinity of tribes) makes the Hellenes kindred to the
Pelasgi.  Deucalion, the founder of the Hellenes, was of Pelasgic
origin--son of Prometheus, and nephew of Atlas, king of the Pelasgic

However this may be, we find the Hellenes driven from Phocis, their
earliest recorded seat, by a flood in the time of Deucalion.
Migrating into Thessaly, they expelled the Pelasgi; and afterward
spreading themselves through Greece, they attained a general
ascendency over the earlier habitants, enslaving, doubtless, the bulk
of the population among which they formed a settlement, but ejecting
numbers of the more resolute or the more noble families, and causing
those celebrated migrations by which the Pelasgi carried their name
and arts into Italy, as well as into Crete and various other isles.
On the continent of Greece, when the revolution became complete, the
Pelasgi appear to have retained only Arcadia, the greater part of
Thessaly [72], the land of Dodona, and Attica.

There is no reason to suppose the Hellenes more enlightened and
civilized than the Pelasgi; but they seem, if only by the record of
their conquests, to have been a more stern, warlike, and adventurous
branch of the Grecian family.  I conclude them, in fact, to have been
that part of the Pelasgic race who the longest retained the fierce and
vigorous character of a mountain tribe, and who found the nations they
invaded in that imperfect period of civilization which is so
favourable to the designs of a conqueror--when the first warlike
nature of a predatory tribe is indeed abandoned--but before the
discipline, order, and providence of a social community are acquired.
Like the Saxons into Britain, the Hellenes were invited [73] by the
different Pelasgic chiefs as auxiliaries, and remained as conquerors.
But in other respects they rather resembled the more knightly and
energetic race by whom in Britain the Saxon dynasty was overturned:--
the Hellenes were the Normans of antiquity.  It is impossible to
decide the exact date when the Hellenes obtained the general
ascendency or when the Greeks received from that Thessalian tribe
their common appellation.  The Greeks were not termed Hellenes in the
time in which the Iliad was composed--they were so termed in the time
of Hesiod.  But even in the Iliad, the word Panhellenes, applied to
the Greeks, testifies the progress of the revolution [74], and in the
Odyssey, the Hellenic name is no longer limited to the dominion of

III.  The Hellenic nation became popularly subdivided into four
principal families, viz., the Dorians, the Aeolians, the Ionians, and
Achaeans, of which I consider the former two alone genuinely Hellenic.
The fable which makes Dorus, Aeolus, and Xuthus, the sons of Helen,
declares that while Dorus was sent forth to conquer other lands,
Aeolus succeeded to the domain of Phthiotis, and records no conquests
of his own; but attributes to his sons the origin of most of the
principal families of Greece.  If rightly construed, this account
would denote that the Aeolians remained for a generation at least
subsequent to the first migration of the Dorians, in their Thessalian
territories; and thence splitting into various hordes, descended as
warriors and invaders upon the different states of Greece.  They
appear to have attached themselves to maritime situations, and the
wealth of their early settlements is the theme of many a legend.  The
opulence of Orchomenus is compared by Homer to that of Egyptian
Thebes.  And in the time of the Trojan war, Corinth was already termed
“the wealthy.”  By degrees the Aeolians became in a great measure
blended and intermingled with the Dorians.  Yet so intimately
connected are the Hellenes and Pelasgi, that even these, the lineal
descendants of Helen through the eldest branch, are no less confounded
with the Pelasgic than the Dorian race.  Strabo and Pausanias alike
affirm the Aeolians to be Pelasgic, and in the Aeolic dialect we
approach to the Pelasgic tongue.

The Dorians, first appearing in Phthiotis, are found two generations
afterward in the mountainous district of Histiaeotis, comprising
within their territory, according to Herodotus, the immemorial Vale of
Tempe.  Neighboured by warlike hordes, more especially the heroic
Lapithae, with whom their earliest legends record fierce and continued
war, this mountain tribe took from nature and from circumstance their
hardy and martial character.  Unable to establish secure settlements
in the fertile Thessalian plains, and ranging to the defiles through
which the romantic Peneus winds into the sea, several of the tribe
migrated early into Crete, where, though forming only a part of the
population of the isle, they are supposed by some to have established
the Doric constitution and customs, which in their later settlements
served them for a model.  Other migrations marked their progress to
the foot of Mount Pindus; thence to Dryopis, afterward called Doris;
and from Dryopis to the Peloponnesus; which celebrated migration,
under the name of the “Return of the Heraclidae,” I shall hereafter
more especially describe.  I have said that genealogy attributes the
origin of the Dorians and that of the Aeolians to Dorus and Aeolus,
sons of Helen.  This connects them with the Hellenes and with each
other.  The adventures of Xuthus, the third son of Helen, are not
recorded by the legends of Thessaly, and he seems merely a fictitious
creation, invented to bring into affinity with the Hellenes the
families, properly Pelasgic, of the Achaeans and Ionians.  It is by
writers comparatively recent that we are told that Xuthus was driven
from Thessaly by his brothers--that he took refuge in Attica, and on
the plains of Marathon built four towns--Oenoe, Marathon,
Probalinthus, and Tricorythus [75], and that he wedded Creusa,
daughter of Erechtheus, king of Attica, and that by her he had two
sons, Achaeus and Ion.  By some we are told that Achaeus, entering the
eastern side of Peloponnesus, founded a dominion in Laconia and
Argolis; by others, on the contrary, that he conducted a band, partly
Athenian, into Thessaly, and recovered the domains of which his father
had been despoiled [76].  Both these accounts of Achaeus, as the
representative of the Achaeans, are correct in this, that the
Achaeans, had two settlements from remote periods--the one in the
south of Thessaly--the other in the Peloponnesus.

The Achaeans were long the most eminent of the Grecian tribes.
Possessed of nearly the whole of the Peloponnesus, except, by a
singular chance, that part which afterward bore their name, they
boasted the warlike fame of the opulent Menelaus and the haughty
Agamemnon, the king of men.  The dominant tribe of the heroic age, the
Achaeans form the kindred link between the several epochs of the
Pelasgic and Hellenic sway--their character indeed Hellenic, but their
descent apparently Pelasgic.  Dionysius of Halicarnassus derives them
from Pelasgus himself, and they existed as Achaeans before the
Hellenic Xuthus was even born.  The legend which makes Achaeus the
brother of Ion, tends likewise to prove, that if the Ionians were
originally Pelasgic, so also were the Achaeans.  Let us then come to

Although Ion is said to have given the name of Ionians to the
Atticans, yet long before his time the Iaones were among the ancient
inhabitants of the country; and Herodotus (the best authority on the
subject) declares that the Ionians were Pelasgic and indigenous.
There is not sufficient reason to suppose, therefore, that they were
Hellenic conquerors or Hellenic settlers.  They appear, on the
contrary, to have been one of the aboriginal tribes of Attica:--a part
of them proceeded into the Peloponnesus (typified under the migration
thither of Xuthus), and these again returning (as typified by the
arrival of Ion at Athens), in conjunction with such of their
fraternity as had remained in their native settlement, became the most
powerful and renowned of the several divisions of the Attic
population.  Their intercourse with the Peloponnesians would lead the
Ionians to establish some of the political institutions and religious
rites they had become acquainted with in their migration; and thus may
we most probably account for the introduction of the worship of Apollo
into Attica, and for that peaceful political influence which the
mythical Ion is said to have exercised over his countrymen.

At all events, we cannot trace, any distinct and satisfactory
connexion between this, the most intellectual and brilliant tribe of
the Grecian family, and that roving and fortunate Thessalian horde to
which the Hellenes gave the general name, and of which the Dorians
were the fittest representative and the most powerful section.  Nor,
despite the bold assumptions of Mueller, is there any evidence of a
Hellenic conquest in Attica. [77]

And that land which, according to tradition and to history, was the
early refuge of exiles, derived from the admission and intercourse of
strangers and immigrants those social and political improvements which
in other states have been wrought by conquest.

IV.  After the Dorians obtained possession of the Peloponnesus, the
whole face of Greece was gradually changed.  The return of the
Heraclidae was the true consummation of the Hellenic revolution.  The
tribes hitherto migratory became fixed in the settlements they
acquired.  The Dorians rose to the rank of the most powerful race of
Greece: and the Ionians, their sole rivals, possessed only on the
continent the narrow soil of Attica, though their colonies covered the
fertile coast of Asia Minor.  Greece thus reduced to two main tribes,
the Doric and the Ionian, historians have justly and generally
concurred in noticing between them the strongest and most marked
distinctions,--the Dorians grave, inflexible, austere,--the Ionians
lively, versatile, prone to change.  The very dialect of the one was
more harsh and masculine than that of the other; and the music, the
dances of the Dorians, bore the impress of their severe simplicity.
The sentiment of veneration which pervaded their national character
taught the Dorians not only, on the one hand, the firmest allegiance
to the rites of religion--and a patriarchal respect for age--but, on
the other hand, a blind and superstitious attachment to institutions
merely on account of their antiquity--and an almost servile regard for
birth, producing rather the feelings of clanship than the sympathy of
citizens.  We shall see hereafter, that while Athens established
republics, Sparta planted oligarchies.  The Dorians were proud of
independence, but it was the independence of nobles rather than of a
people.  Their severity preserved them long from innovation--no less
by what was vicious in its excess than by what was wise in its
principle.  With many great and heroic qualities, they were yet harsh
to enemies--cruel to dependants--selfish to allies.  Their whole
policy was to preserve themselves as they were; if they knew not the
rash excesses, neither were they impelled by the generous emotions,
which belong to men whose constant aspirations are to be better and to
be greater;--they did not desire to be better or to be greater; their
only wish was not to be different.  They sought in the future nothing
but the continuance of the past; and to that past they bound
themselves with customs and laws of iron.  The respect in which they
held their women, as well as their disdain of pleasure, preserved them
in some measure from the licentiousness common to states in which
women are despised; but the respect had little of the delicacy and
sentiment of individual attachment--attachment was chiefly for their
own sex [78].  The Ionians, on the contrary, were susceptible,
flexile, and more characterized by the generosity of modern knighthood
than the sternness of ancient heroism.  Them, not the past, but the
future, charmed.  Ever eager to advance, they were impatient even of
the good, from desire of the better.  Once urged to democracy--
democracy fixed their character, as oligarchy fixed the Spartan.  For,
to change is the ambition of a democracy--to conserve of an oligarchy.
The taste, love, and intuition of the beautiful stamped the Greeks
above all nations, and the Ionians above all the Greeks.  It was not
only that the Ionians were more inventive than their neighbours, but
that whatever was beautiful in invention they at once seized and
appropriated.  Restless, inquisitive, ardent, they attempted all
things, and perfected art--searched into all things, and consummated

The Ionic character existed everywhere among Ionians, but the Doric
was not equally preserved among the Dorians.  The reason is evident.
The essence of the Ionian character consisted in the spirit of change
--that of the Dorian in resistance to innovation.  When any Doric
state abandoned its hereditary customs and institutions, it soon lost
the Doric character--became lax, effeminate, luxurious--a corruption
of the character of the Ionians; but no change could assimilate the
Ionian to the Doric; for they belonged to different eras of
civilization--the Doric to the elder, the Ionian to the more advanced.
The two races of Scotland have become more alike than heretofore; but
it is by making the highlander resemble the lowlander--and not by
converting the lowland citizen into the mountain Gael.  The habits of
commerce, the substitution of democratic for oligarchic institutions,
were sufficient to alter the whole character of the Dorians.  The
voluptuous Corinth--the trading Aegina (Doric states)--infinitely more
resembled Athens than Sparta.

It is, then, to Sparta, that in the historical times we must look
chiefly for the representative of the Doric tribe, in its proper and
elementary features; and there, pure, vigorous, and concentrated, the
Doric character presents a perpetual contrast to the Athenian.  This
contrast continued so long as either nation retained a character to
itself;--and (no matter what the pretences of hostility) was the real
and inevitable cause of that enmity between Athens and Sparta, the
results of which fixed the destiny of Greece.

Yet were the contests of that enmity less the contests between
opposing tribes than between those opposing principles which every
nation may be said to nurse within itself; viz., the principle to
change, and the principle to preserve; the principle to popularize,
and the principle to limit the governing power; here the genius of an
oligarchy, there of a people; here adherence to the past, there desire
of the future.  Each principle produced its excesses, and furnishes a
salutary warning.  The feuds of Sparta and Athens may be regarded as
historical allegories, clothing the moral struggles, which, with all
their perils and all their fluctuations, will last to the end of time.

V.  This period is also celebrated for the supposed foundation of that
assembly of the Grecian states, called the Amphictyonic Confederacy.
Genealogy attributes its origin to a son of Deucalion, called
Amphictyon. [79]

This fable would intimate a Hellenic origin, since Deucalion is the
fabled founder of the Hellenes; but out of twelve tribes which
composed the confederacy, only three were Hellenic, and the rest
Pelasgic.  But with the increasing influence of the Dorian oracle of
Delphi, with which it was connected, it became gradually considered a
Hellenic institution.  It is not possible to decipher the first
intention of this league.  The meeting was held at two places, near
Anthela, in the pass of Thermopylae, and Delphi; at the latter place
in the spring, at the former in the autumn.  If tradition imputed to
Amphictyon the origin of the council, it ascribed to Acrisius, king
of Argos [80], the formation of its proper power and laws.  He is said
to have founded one of the assemblies, either that in Delphi or
Thermopylae (accounts vary), and to have combined the two, increased
the number of the members, and extended the privileges of the body.
We can only interpret this legend by the probable supposition, that
the date of holding the same assembly at two different places, at
different seasons of the year, marks the epoch of some important
conjunction of various tribes, and, it may be, of deities hitherto
distinct.  It might be an attempt to associate the Hellenes with the
Pelasgi, in the early and unsettled power of the former race: and this
supposition is rendered the more plausible by the evident union of the
worship of the Dorian Apollo at Delphi with that of the Pelasgian
Ceres at Thermopylae [81].  The constitution of the league was this--
each city belonging to an Amphictyonic state sent usually two
deputies--the one called Pylagoras, the other Hieromnemon.  The
functions of the two deputies seem to have differed, and those of the
latter to have related more particularly to whatsoever appertained to
religion.  On extraordinary occasions more than one pylagoras was
deputed--Athens at one time sent no less than three.  But the number
of deputies sent did not alter the number of votes in the council.
Each city had two votes and no more, no matter how many delegates it

All the deputies assembled,--solemn sacrifices were offered at Delphi
to Apollo, Diana, Latona, and Minerva; at Thermopylae to Ceres.  An
oath was then administered, the form of which is preserved to us by

“I swear,” runs the oath, “never to subvert any Amphictyonic city--
never to stop the courses of its waters in peace or in war.  Those who
attempt such outrages I will oppose by arms; and the cities that so
offend I will destroy.  If any ravages be committed in the territory
of the god, if any connive at such a crime, if any conceive a design
hostile to the temple, against them will I use my hands, my feet, my
whole power and strength, so that the offenders may be brought to

Fearful and solemn imprecations on any violation of this engagement
followed the oath.

These ceremonies performed, one of the hieromnemons [82] presided over
the council; to him were intrusted the collecting the votes, the
reporting the resolutions, and the power of summoning the general
assembly, which was a convention separate from the council, held only
on extraordinary occasions, and composed of residents and strangers,
whom the solemnity of the meeting congregated in the neighbourhood.

VI.  Throughout the historical times we can trace in this league no
attempt to combine against the aggression of foreign states, except
for the purposes of preserving the sanctity of the temple.  The
functions of the league were limited to the Amphictyonic tribes and
whether or not its early, and undefined, and obscure purpose, was to
check wars among the confederate tribes, it could not attain even that
object.  Its offices were almost wholly confined to religion.  The
league never interfered when one Amphictyonic state exercised the
worst severities against the other, curbing neither the ambition of
the Athenian fleet nor the cruelties of the Spartan sword.  But, upon
all matters relative to religion, especially to the worship of Apollo,
the assembly maintained an authority in theory supreme--in practice,
equivocal and capricious.

As a political institution, the league contained one vice which could
not fail to destroy its power.  Each city in the twelve Amphictyonic
tribes, the most unimportant as the most powerful, had the same number
of votes.  This rendered it against the interest of the greater states
(on whom its consideration necessarily depended) to cement or increase
its political influence and thus it was quietly left to its natural
tendency to sacred purposes.  Like all institutions which bestow upon
man the proper prerogative of God, and affect authority over religious
and not civil opinions, the Amphictyonic council was not very
efficient in good: even in its punishment of sacrilege, it was only
dignified and powerful whenever the interests of the Delphic temple
were at stake.  Its most celebrated interference was with the town of
Crissa, against which the Amphictyons decreed war B. C. 505; the
territory of Crissa was then dedicated to the god of the temple.

VII.  But if not efficient in good, the Amphictyonic council was not
active in evil.  Many causes conspired to prevent the worst excesses
to which religious domination is prone,--and this cause in particular.
It was not composed of a separate, interested, and permanent class,
but of citizens annually chosen from every state, who had a much
greater interest in the welfare of their own state than in the
increased authority of the Amphictyonic council [83].  They were
priests but for an occasion--they were citizens by profession.  The
jealousies of the various states, the constant change in the
delegates, prevented that energy and oneness necessary to any settled
design of ecclesiastical ambition.  Hence, the real influence of the
Amphictyonic council was by no means commensurate with its grave
renown; and when, in the time of Philip, it became an important
political agent, it was only as the corrupt and servile tool of that
able monarch.  Still it long continued, under the panoply of a great
religious name, to preserve the aspect of dignity and power, until, at
the time of Constantine, it fell amid the ruins of the faith it had
aspired to protect.  The creed that became the successor of the
religion of Delphi found a mightier Amphictyonic assembly in the
conclaves of Rome.  The papal institution possessed precisely those
qualities for directing the energies of states, for dictating to the
ambition of kings, for obtaining temporal authority under spiritual
pretexts--which were wanting to the pagan.


The Heroic Age.--Theseus.--His legislative Influence upon Athens.--
Qualities of the Greek Heroes.--Effect of a Traditional Age upon the
Character of a People.

I.  As one who has been journeying through the dark [84] begins at
length to perceive the night breaking away in mist and shadow, so that
the forms of things, yet uncertain and undefined, assume an
exaggerated and gigantic outline, half lost amid the clouds,--so now,
through the obscurity of fable, we descry the dim and mighty outline
of the HEROIC AGE.  The careful and skeptical Thucydides has left us,
in the commencement of his immortal history, a masterly portraiture of
the manners of those times in which individual prowess elevates the
possessor to the rank of a demigod; times of unsettled law and
indistinct control;--of adventure--of excitement;--of daring qualities
and lofty crime.  We recognise in the picture features familiar to the
North: the roving warriors and the pirate kings who scoured the seas,
descended upon unguarded coasts, and deemed the exercise of plunder a
profession of honour, remind us of the exploits of the Scandinavian
Her-Kongr, and the boding banners of the Dane.  The seas of Greece
tempted to piratical adventures: their numerous isles, their winding
bays, and wood-clad shores, proffered ample enterprise to the bold--
ample booty to the rapacious; the voyages were short for the
inexperienced, the refuges numerous for the defeated.  In early ages,
valour is the true virtue--it dignifies the pursuits in which it is
engaged, and the profession of a pirate was long deemed as honourable
in the Aegean as among the bold rovers of the Scandinavian race [85].
If the coast was thus exposed to constant incursion and alarm, neither
were the interior recesses of the country more protected from the
violence of marauders.  The various tribes that passed into Greece, to
colonize or conquer, dislodged from their settlements many of the
inhabitants, who, retreating up the country, maintained themselves by
plunder, or avenged themselves by outrage.  The many crags and
mountains, the caverns and the woods, which diversify the beautiful
land of Greece, afforded their natural fortresses to these barbarous
hordes.  The chief who had committed a murder, or aspired
unsuccessfully to an unsteady throne, betook himself, with his
friends, to some convenient fastness, made a descent on the
surrounding villages, and bore off the women or the herds, as lust or
want excited to the enterprise.  No home was safe, no journey free
from peril, and the Greeks passed their lives in armour.  Thus,
gradually, the profession and system of robbery spread itself
throughout Greece, until the evil became insufferable--until the
public opinion of all the states and tribes, in which society had
established laws, was enlisted against the freebooter--until it grew
an object of ambition to rid the neighbourhood of a scourge--and the
success of the attempt made the glory of the adventurer.  Then
naturally arose the race of heroes--men who volunteered to seek the
robber in his hold--and, by the gratitude of a later age, the courage
of the knight-errant was rewarded with the sanctity of the demigod.
At that time, too, internal circumstances in the different states--
whether from the predominance of, or the resistance to, the warlike
Hellenes, had gradually conspired to raise a military and fierce
aristocracy above the rest of the population; and as arms became the
instruments of renown and power, so the wildest feats would lead to
the most extended fame.

II.  The woods and mountains of Greece were not then cleared of the
first rude aboriginals of nature--wild beasts lurked within its
caverns;--wolves abounded everywhere--herds of wild bulls, the large
horns of which Herodotus names with admiration, were common; and even
the lion himself, so late as the invasion of Xerxes, was found in wide
districts from the Thracian Abdera to the Acarnanian Achelous.  Thus,
the feats of the early heroes appear to have been mainly directed
against the freebooter or the wild beast; and among the triumphs of
Hercules are recorded the extermination of the Lydian robbers, the
death of Cacus, and the conquest of the lion of Nemea and the boar of

Hercules himself shines conspicuously forth the great model of these
useful adventurers.  There is no doubt that a prince [86], so named,
actually existed in Greece; and under the title of the Theban
Hercules, is to be carefully distinguished, both from the god of Egypt
and the peaceful Hercules of Phoenicia [87], whose worship was not
unknown to the Greeks previous to the labours of his namesake.  As the
name of Hercules was given to the Theban hero (originally called
Alcaeus), in consequence of his exploits, it may be that his
countrymen recognised in his character or his history something
analogous to the traditional accounts of the Eastern god.  It was the
custom of the early Greeks to attribute to one man the actions which
he performed in concert with others, and the reputation of Hercules
was doubtless acquired no less as the leader of an army than by the
achievements of his personal prowess.  His fame and his success
excited the emulation of his contemporaries, and pre-eminent among
these ranks the Athenian Theseus.

III.  In the romance which Plutarch has bequeathed to us, under the
title of a “History of Theseus,” we seem to read the legends of our
own fabulous days of chivalry.  The adventures of an Amadis or a
Palmerin are not more knightly nor more extravagant.

According to Plutarch, Aegeus, king of Athens, having no children,
went to Delphi to consult the oracle how that misfortune might be
repaired.  He was commanded not to approach any woman till he returned
to Athens; but the answer was couched in mystic and allegorical terms,
and the good king was rather puzzled than enlightened by the reply.
He betook himself therefore to Troezene, a small town in Peloponnesus,
founded by Pittheus, of the race of Pelops, a man eminent in that day
for wisdom and sagacity.  He communicated to him the oracle, and
besought his interpretation.  Something there was in the divine answer
which induced Pittheus to draw the Athenian king into an illicit
intercourse with his own daughter, Aethra.  The princess became with
child; and, before his departure from Troezene, Aegeus deposited a
sword and a pair of sandals in a cavity concealed by a huge stone
[88], and left injunctions with Aethra that, should the fruit of their
intercourse prove a male child, and able, when grown up, to remove the
stone, she should send him privately to Athens with the sword and
sandals in proof of his birth; for Aegeus had a brother named Pallas,
who, having a large family of sons, naturally expected, from the
failure of the direct line, to possess himself or his children of the
Athenian throne; and the king feared, should the secret of his
intercourse with Aethra be discovered before the expected child had
arrived to sufficient strength to protect himself, that either by
treason or assassination the sons of Pallas would despoil the rightful
heir of his claim to the royal honours.  Aethra gave birth to Theseus,
and Pittheus concealed the dishonour of his family by asserting that
Neptune, the god most honoured at Troezene, had condescended to be the
father of the child:--the gods were very convenient personages in
those days.  As the boy grew up, he evinced equal strength of body and
nobleness of mind; and at length the time arrived when Aethra
communicated to him the secret of his birth, and led him to the stone
which concealed the tokens of his origin.  He easily removed it, and
repaired by land to Athens.

At that time, as I have before stated, Greece was overrun by robbers:
Hercules had suppressed them for awhile; but the Theban hero was now
at the feet of the Lydian Omphale, and the freebooters had reappeared
along the mountainous recesses of the Peloponnesus; the journey by
land was therefore not only longer, but far more perilous, than a
voyage by sea, and Pittheus earnestly besought his grandson to prefer
the latter.  But it was the peril of the way that made its charm in
the eyes of the young hero, and the fame of Hercules had long inspired
his dreams by night [89], and his thoughts by day.  With his father’s
sword, then, he repaired to Athens.  Strange and wild were the
adventures that befell him.  In Epidauria he was attacked by a
celebrated robber, whom he slew, and whose club he retained as his
favourite weapon.  In the Isthmus, Sinnis, another bandit, who had
been accustomed to destroy the unfortunate travellers who fell in his
way by binding them to the boughs of two pine trees (so that when the
trees, released, swung back to their natural position, the victim was
torn asunder, limb by limb), was punished by the same death he had
devised for others; and here occurs one of those anecdotes
illustrative of the romance of the period, and singularly analogous to
the chivalry of Northern fable, which taught deference to women, and
rewarded by the smiles of the fair the exploits of the bold.  Sinnis,
“the pine bender,” had a daughter remarkable for beauty, who
concealed herself amid the shrubs and rushes in terror of the victor.
Theseus discovered her, praying, says Plutarch, in childish innocence
or folly, to the plants and bushes, and promising, if they would
shelter her, never to destroy or burn them.  A graceful legend, that
reminds us of the rich inventions of Spenser.  But Theseus, with all
gentle words and soothing vows, allured the maiden from her retreat,
and succeeded at last in obtaining her love and its rewards.

Continued adventures--the conquest of Phaea, a wild sow (or a female
robber, so styled from the brutality of her life)--the robber Sciron
cast headlong from a precipice--Procrustes stretched on his own bed--
attested the courage and fortune of the wanderer, and at length he
arrived at the banks of the Cephisus.  Here he was saluted by some of
the Phytalidae, a sacred family descended from Phytalus, the beloved
of Ceres, and was duly purified from the blood of the savages he had
slain.  Athens was the first place at which he was hospitably
entertained.  He arrived at an opportune moment; the Colchian Medea,
of evil and magic fame, had fled from Corinth and taken refuge with
Aegeus, whose affections she had insnared.  By her art she promised
him children to supply his failing line, and she gave full trial to
the experiment by establishing herself the partner of the royal couch.
But it was not likely that the numerous sons of Pallas would regard
this connexion with indifference, and faction and feud reigned
throughout the city.  Medea discovered the secret of the birth of
Theseus; and, resolved by poison to rid herself of one who would
naturally interfere with her designs on Aegeus, she took advantage of
the fear and jealousies of the old king, and persuaded him to become
her accomplice in the premeditated crime.  A banquet, according to the
wont of those hospitable times, was given to the stranger.  The king
was at the board, the cup of poison at hand, when Theseus, wishing to
prepare his father for the welcome news he had to divulge, drew the
sword or cutlass which Aegeus had made the token of his birth, and
prepared to carve with it the meat that was set before him.  The sword
caught the eye of the king--he dashed the poison to the ground, and
after a few eager and rapid questions, recognised his son in his
intended victim.  The people were assembled--Theseus was acknowledged
by the king, and received with joy by the multitude, who had already
heard of the feats of the hero.  The traditionary place where the
poison fell was still shown in the time of Plutarch.  The sons of
Pallas ill brooked the arrival and acknowledgment of this unexpected
heir to the throne.  They armed themselves and their followers, and
prepared for war.  But one half of their troops, concealed in ambush,
were cut off by Theseus (instructed in their movements by the
treachery of a herald), and the other half, thus reduced, were obliged
to disperse.  So Theseus remained the undisputed heir to the Athenian

IV.  It would be vain for the historian, but delightful for the poet,
to follow at length this romantic hero through all his reputed
enterprises.  I can only rapidly sketch the more remarkable.  I pass,
then, over the tale how he captured alive the wild bull of Marathon,
and come at once to that expedition to Crete, which is indissolubly
intwined with immortal features of love and poetry.  It is related
that Androgeus, a son of Minos, the celebrated King of Crete, and by
his valour worthy of such a sire, had been murdered in Attica; some
suppose by the jealousies of Aegeus, who appears to have had a
singular distrust of all distinguished strangers.  Minos retaliated by
a war which wasted Attica, and was assisted in its ravages by the
pestilence and the famine.  The oracle of Apollo, which often laudably
reconciled the quarrels of princes, terminated the contest by
enjoining the Athenians to appease the just indignation of Minos.
They despatched, therefore, ambassadors to Crete, and consented, in
token of submission, to send every ninth year a tribute of seven
virgins and seven young men.  The little intercourse that then existed
between states, conjoined with the indignant grief of the parents at
the loss of their children, exaggerated the evil of the tribute.  The
hostages were said by the Athenians to be exposed in an intricate
labyrinth, and devoured by a monster, the creature of unnatural
intercourse, half man half bull; but the Cretans, certainly the best
authority in the matter, stripped the account of the fable, and
declared that the labyrinth was only a prison in which the youths and
maidens were confined on their arrival--that Minos instituted games in
honour of Androgeus, and that the Athenian captives were the prize of
the victors.  The first victor was the chief of the Cretan army, named
Taurus, and he, being fierce and unmerciful, treated the slaves he
thus acquired with considerable cruelty.  Hence the origin of the
labyrinth and the Minotaur.  And Plutarch, giving this explanation of
the Cretans, cites Aristotle to prove that the youths thus sent were
not put to death by Minos, but retained in servile employments, and
that their descendants afterward passed into Thrace, and were called
Bottiaeans.  We must suppose, therefore, in consonance not only with
these accounts, but the manners of the age, that the tribute was
merely a token of submission, and the objects of it merely considered
as slaves. [90]

Of Minos himself all accounts are uncertain.  There seems no
sufficient ground to doubt, indeed, his existence, nor the extended
power which, during his reign, Crete obtained in Greece.  It is most
probable that it was under Phoenician influence that Crete obtained
its maritime renown; but there is no reason to suppose Minos himself

After the return of Theseus, the time came when the tribute to Crete
was again to be rendered.  The people murmured their dissatisfaction.
“It was the guilt of Aegeus,” said they, “which caused the wrath of
Minos, yet Aegeus alone escaped its penalty; their lawful children
were sacrificed to the Cretan barbarity, but the doubtful and
illegitimate stranger, whom Aegeus had adopted, went safe and free.”
 Theseus generously appeased these popular tumults: he insisted on
being himself included in the seven.

V.  Twice before had this human tribute been sent to Crete; and in
token of the miserable and desperate fate which, according to vulgar
belief, awaited the victims, a black sail had been fastened to the

But this time, Aegeus, inspired by the cheerful confidence of his son,
gave the pilot a white sail, which he was to hoist, if, on his return,
he bore back Theseus in safety: if not, the black was once more to be
the herald of an unhappier fate.  It is probable that Theseus did not
esteem this among the most dangerous of his adventures.  At the court
of the wise Pittheus, or in the course of his travels, he had
doubtless heard enough of the character of Minos, the greatest and
most sagacious monarch of his time, to be convinced that the son of
the Athenian king would have little to fear from his severity.  He
arrived at Crete, and obtained the love of Ariadne, the daughter of
Minos.  Now follows a variety of contradictory accounts, the most
probable and least poetical of which are given by Plutarch; but as he
concludes them all by the remark that none are of certainty, it is a
needless task to repeat them: it suffices to relate, that either with
or without the consent of Minos, Theseus departed from Crete, in
company with Ariadne, and that by one means or the other he
thenceforth freed the Athenians from the payment of the accustomed
tribute.  As it is obvious that with the petty force with which, by
all accounts, he sailed to Crete, he could not have conquered the
powerful Minos in his own city, so it is reasonable to conclude, as
one of the traditions hath it, that the king consented to his alliance
with his daughter, and, in consequence of that marriage, waived all
farther claim to the tribute of the Athenians. [91]

Equal obscurity veils the fate of the loving Ariadne; but the
supposition which seems least objectionable is, that Theseus was
driven by storm either on Cyprus or Naxos, and Ariadne being then with
child, and rendered ill by the violence of the waves, was left on
shore by her lover while he returned to take charge of his vessel;
that she died in childbed, and that Theseus, on his return, was
greatly afflicted, and instituted an annual festival in her honour.
While we adopt the story most probable in itself, and most honourable
to the character of the Athenian hero, we cannot regret the various
romance which is interwoven with the tale of the unfortunate Cretan,
since it has given us some of the most beautiful inventions of
poetry;--the Labyrinth love-lighted by Ariadne--the Cretan maid
deserted by the stranger with whom she fled--left forlorn and alone on
the Naxian shore--and consoled by Bacchus and his satyr horde.

VI.  Before he arrived at Athens, Theseus rested at Delos, where he is
said to have instituted games, and to have originated the custom of
crowning the victor with the palm.  Meanwhile Aegeus waited the return
of his son.  On the Cecropian rock that yet fronts the sea, he watched
the coming of the vessel and the waving of the white sail: the masts
appeared--the ship approached--the white sail was not visible: in the
joy and the impatience of the homeward crew, the pilot had forgotten
to hoist the appointed signal, and the old man in despair threw
himself from the rock and was dashed to pieces.  Theseus received the
news of his father’s death with sorrow and lamentation.  His triumph
and return were recorded by periodical festivals, in which the fate of
Aegeus was typically alluded to, and the vessel of thirty oars with
which he had sailed to Crete was preserved by the Athenians to the
times of Demetrius the Phalerean--so often new-pieced and repaired,
that it furnished a favourite thesis to philosophical disputants,
whether it was or was not the same vessel which Theseus had employed.

VII.  Possessed of the supreme power, Theseus now bent his genius to
the task of legislation, and in this part of his life we tread upon
firmer ground, because the most judicious of the ancient historians
[92] expressly attributes to the son of Aegeus those enactments which
so mainly contributed to consolidate the strength and union of the
Athenian people.

Although Cecrops is said to have brought the tribes of Attica under
one government, yet it will be remembered that he had divided the
territory into twelve districts, with a fortress or capital to each.
By degrees these several districts had become more and more distinct
from each other, and in many cases of emergency it was difficult to
obtain a general assembly or a general concurrence of the people; nay,
differences had often sprung up between the tribes, which had been
adjusted, not as among common citizens, by law, but as among jealous
enemies, by arms and bloodshed.  It was the master policy of Theseus
to unite these petty commonwealths in one state.  He applied in
person, and by all the arte of persuasion, to each tribe: the poor he
found ready enough to listen to an invitation which promised them the
shelter of a city, and the protection of a single government from the
outrage of many tyrants: the rich and the powerful were more jealous
of their independent, scattered, and, as it were, feudal life.  But
these he sought to conciliate by promises that could not but flatter
that very prejudice of liberty which naturally at first induced them
to oppose his designs.  He pledged his faith to a constitution which
should leave the power in the hands of the many.  He himself, as
monarch, desired only the command in war, and in peace the
guardianship of laws he was equally bound to obey.  Some were induced
by his persuasions, others by the fear of his power, until at length
he obtained his object.  By common consent he dissolved the
towns’-corporations and councils in each separate town, and built in
Athens one common prytaneum or council-hall, existent still in the time
of Plutarch.  He united the scattered streets and houses of the citadel,
and the new town that had grown up along the plain, by the common name
of “Athens,” and instituted the festival of the Panathenaea, in honour
of the guardian goddess of the city, and as a memorial of the
confederacy.  Adhering then to his promises, he set strict and narrow
limits to the regal power, created, under the name of eupatrids or
well-born, an hereditary nobility, and divided into two orders (the
husbandmen and mechanics) the remainder of the people.  The care of
religion, the explanation of the laws, and the situations of
magistrates, were the privilege of the nobles.  He thus laid the
foundation of a free, though aristocratic constitution--according to
Aristotle, the first who surrendered the absolute sway of royalty, and
receiving from the rhetorical Isocrates the praise that it was a contest
which should give most, the people of power, or the king of freedom.  As
an extensive population was necessary to a powerful state, so Theseus
invited to Athens all strangers willing to share in the benefits of its
protection, granting them equal security of life and law; and he set a
demarcation to the territory of the state by the boundary of a pillar
erected in the Isthmus, dividing Ionia from Peloponnesus.  The Isthmian
games in honour of Neptune were also the invention of Theseus.

VIII.  Such are the accounts of the legislative enactments of Theseus.
But of these we must reject much.  We may believe from the account of
Thucydides that jealousies among some Attic towns--which might either
possess, or pretend to, an independence never completely annihilated
by Cecrops and his successors, and which the settlement of foreigners
of various tribes and habits would have served to increase--were so
far terminated as to induce submission to the acknowledged supremacy
of Athens as the Attic capital; and that the right of justice, and
even of legislation, which had before been the prerogative of each
separate town (to the evident weakening of the supreme and regal
authority), was now concentrated in the common council-house of
Athens.  To Athens, as to a capital, the eupatrids of Attica would
repair as a general residence [93].  The city increased in population
and importance, and from this period Thucydides dates the enlargement
of the ancient city, by the addition of the Lower Town.  That Theseus
voluntarily lessened the royal power, it is not necessary to believe.
In the heroic age a warlike race had sprung up, whom no Grecian
monarch appears to have attempted to govern arbitrarily in peace,
though they yielded implicitly to his authority in war.  Himself on a
newly-won and uncertain throne, it was the necessity as well as the
policy of Theseus to conciliate the most powerful of his subjects.  It
may also be conceded, that he more strictly defined the distinctions
between the nobles and the remaining classes, whether yeomen or
husbandmen, mechanics or strangers; and it is recorded that the
honours and the business of legislation were the province of the
eupatrids.  It is possible that the people might be occasionally
convened--but it is clear that they had little, if any, share in the
government of the state.  But the mere establishment and confirmation
of a powerful aristocracy, and the mere collection of the population
into a capital, were sufficient to prepare the way for far more
democratic institutions than Theseus himself contemplated or designed.
For centuries afterward an oligarchy ruled in Athens; but, free
itself, that oligarchy preserved in its monopoly the principles of
liberty, expanding in their influence with the progress of society.
The democracy of Athens was not an ancient, yet not a sudden,
constitution.  It developed itself slowly, unconsciously,
continuously--passing the allotted orbit of royalty, oligarchy,
aristocracy, timocracy, tyranny, till at length it arrived at its
dazzling zenith, blazed--waned--and disappeared.

After the successful issue of his legislative attempts, we next hear
of Theseus less as the monarch of history than as the hero of song.
On these later traditions, which belong to fable, it is not necessary
to dwell.  Our own Coeur de Lion suggests no improbable resemblance to
a spirit cast in times yet more wild and enterprising, and without
seeking interpretations, after the fashion of allegory or system, of
each legend, it is the most simple hypothesis, that Theseus really
departed in quest of adventure from a dominion that afforded no scope
for a desultory and eager ambition; and that something of truth lurks
beneath many of the rich embellishments which his wanderings and
exploits received from the exuberant poetry and the rude credibility
of the age.  During his absence, Menestheus, of the royal race of
Attica, who, Plutarch simply tells us, was the first of mankind that
undertook the profession of a demagogue, ingratiated himself with the
people, or rather with the nobles.  The absence of a king is always
the nurse of seditions, and Menestheus succeeded in raising so
powerful a faction against the hero, that on his return Theseus was
unable to preserve himself in the government, and, pouring forth a
solemn curse on the Athenians, departed to Scyros, where he either
fell by accident from a precipice, or was thrown down by the king.
His death at first was but little regarded; in after-times, to appease
his ghost and expiate his curse, divine honours were awarded to his
memory; and in the most polished age of his descendants, his supposed
remains, indicated by an eagle in the skeleton of a man of giant
stature, with a lance of brass and a sword by his side, were brought
to Athens in the galley of Cimon, hailed by the shouts of a joyous
multitude, “as if the living Theseus were come again.”

X.  I have not altogether discarded, while I have abridged, the
legends relating to a hero who undoubtedly exercised considerable
influence over his country and his time, because in those legends we
trace, better than we could do by dull interpretations equally
unsatisfactory though more prosaic, the effigy of the heroic age--not
unillustrative of the poetry and the romance which at once formed and
indicated important features in the character of the Athenians.  Much
of the national spirit of every people, even in its most civilized
epochs, is to be traced to the influence of that age which may be
called the heroic.  The wild adventurers of the early Greece tended to
humanize even in their excesses.  It is true that there are many
instances of their sternness, ferocity, and revenge;--they were
insolent from the consciousness of surpassing strength;--often cruel
from that contempt of life common to the warlike.  But the darker side
of their character is far less commonly presented to us than the
brighter--they seem to have been alive to generous emotions more
readily than any other race so warlike in an age so rude--their
affections were fervid as their hatreds--their friendships more
remarkable than their feuds.  Even their ferocity was not, as with the
Scandinavian heroes, a virtue and a boast--their public opinion
honoured the compassionate and the clement.  Thus Hercules is said
first to have introduced the custom of surrendering to the enemy the
corpses of their slain; and mildness, justice, and courtesy are no
less his attributes than invincible strength and undaunted courage.
Traversing various lands, these paladins of an elder chivalry acquired
an experience of different governments and customs, which assisted on
their return to polish and refine the admiring tribes which their
achievements had adorned.  Like the knights of a Northern mythus,
their duty was to punish the oppressor and redress the wronged, and
they thus fixed in the wild elements of unsettled opinion a recognised
standard of generosity and of justice.  Their deeds became the theme
of the poets, who sought to embellish their virtues and extenuate
their offences.  Thus, certain models, not indeed wholly pure or
excellent, but bright with many of those qualities which ennoble a
national character, were set before the emulation of the aspiring and
the young:--and the traditional fame of a Hercules or a Theseus assisted
to inspire the souls of those who, ages afterward, broke the Mede at
Marathon, and arrested the Persian might in the Pass of Thermopylae.
For, as the spirit of a poet has its influence on the destiny and
character of nations, so TIME itself hath his own poetry, preceding
and calling forth the poetry of the human genius, and breathing
inspirations, imaginative and imperishable, from the great deeds and
gigantic images of an ancestral and traditionary age.


The Successors of Theseus.--The Fate of Codrus.--The Emigration of
Nileus.--The Archons.--Draco.

I.  The reputed period of the Trojan war follows close on the age of
Hercules and Theseus; and Menestheus, who succeeded the latter hero on
the throne of Athens, led his countrymen to the immortal war.
Plutarch and succeeding historians have not failed to notice the
expression of Homer, in which he applies the word demus or “people” to
the Athenians, as a proof of the popular government established in
that state.  But while the line has been considered an interpolation,
as late at least as the time of Solon, we may observe that it was
never used by Homer in the popular and political sense it afterward
received.  And he applies it not only to the state of Athens, but to
that of Ithaca, certainly no democracy. [94]

The demagogue king appears to have been a man of much warlike renown
and skill, and is mentioned as the first who marshalled an army in
rank and file.  Returning from Troy, he died in the Isle of Melos, and
was succeeded by Demophoon, one of the sons of Theseus, who had also
fought with the Grecian army in the Trojan siege.  In his time a
dispute between the Athenians and Argives was referred to fifty
arbiters of each nation, called Ephetae, the origin of the court so
styled, and afterward re-established with new powers by Draco.

To Demophoon succeeded his son Oxyntes, and to Oxyntes, Aphidas,
murdered by his bastard brother Thymaetes.  Thymaetes was the last of
the race of Theseus who reigned in Athens.  A dispute arose between
the Boeotians and the Athenians respecting the confines of their
several territories; it was proposed to decide the difference by a
single combat between Thymaetes and the King of the Boeotians.
Thymaetes declined the contest.  A Messenian exile, named Melanthus,
accepted it, slew his antagonist by a stratagem, and, deposing the
cowardly Athenian, obtained the sovereignty of Athens.  With
Melanthus, who was of the race of Nestor, passed into Athens two
nobles of the same house, Paeon and Alcmaeon, who were the founders of
the Paeonids and Alcmaeonids, two powerful families, whose names often
occur in the subsequent history of Athens, and who, if they did not
create a new order of nobility, at least sought to confine to their
own families the chief privileges of that which was established.

II.  Melanthus was succeeded by his son Codrus, a man whose fame finds
more competitors in Roman than Grecian history.  During his reign the
Dorians invaded Attica.  They were assured of success by the Delphian
oracle, on condition that they did not slay the Athenian king.
Informed of the response, Codrus disguised himself as a peasant, and,
repairing to the hostile force, sought a quarrel with some of the
soldiers, and was slain by them not far from the banks of the Ilissus
[95].  The Athenians sent to demand the body of their king; and the
Dorians, no longer hoping of success, since the condition of the
oracle was thus violated, broke up their encampment and relinquished
their design.  Some of the Dorians had already by night secretly
entered the city and concealed themselves within its walls; but, as
the day dawned, and they found themselves abandoned by their
associates and surrounded by the foe, they fled to the Areopagus and
the altars of the Furies; the refuge was deemed inviolable, and the
Dorians were dismissed unscathed--a proof of the awe already attached
to the rites of sanctuary [96].  Still, however, this invasion was
attended with the success of what might have been the principal object
of the invaders.  Megara [97], which had hitherto been associated with
Attica, was now seized by the Dorians, and became afterward a colony
of Corinth.  This gallant but petty state had considerable influence
on some of the earlier events of Athenian history.

III.  Codrus was the last of the Athenian kings.  The Athenians
affected the motives of reverence to his memory as an excuse for
forbidding to the illustrious martyr the chance of an unworthy
successor.  But the aristocratic constitution had been morally
strengthened by the extinction of the race of Theseus and the jealousy
of a foreign line; and the abolition of the monarchy was rather caused
by the ambition of the nobles than the popular veneration for the
patriotism of Codrus.  The name of king was changed into that of
archon (magistrate or governor); the succession was still made
hereditary, but the power of the ruler was placed under new limits,
and he was obliged to render to the people, or rather to the
eupatrids, an account of his government whenever they deemed it
advisable to demand it.

IV.  Medon, the son of Codrus, was the first of these perpetual
archons.  In that age bodily strength was still deemed an essential
virtue in a chief; and Nileus, a younger brother of Medon, attempted
to depose the archon on no other pretence than that of his lameness.

A large portion of the people took advantage of the quarrel between
the brothers to assert that they would have no king but Jupiter.  At
length Medon had recourse to the oracle, which decided in his favour;
and Nileus, with all the younger sons of Codrus, and accompanied by a
numerous force, departed from Athens, and colonized that part of Asia
Minor celebrated in history under the name of Ionia.  The rise, power,
and influence of these Asiatic colonies we shall find a more
convenient opportunity to notice.  Medon’s reign, thus freed from the
more stirring spirits of his time, appears to have been prosperous and
popular; it was an era in the ancient world, when the lameness of a
ruler was discovered to be unconnected with his intellect!  Then
follows a long train of archons--peaceable and obscure. During a
period estimated at three hundred years, the Athenians performed
little that has descended to posterity--brief notices of petty
skirmishes, and trivial dissensions with their neighbours, alone
diversify that great interval.  Meanwhile, the Ionian colonies rise
rapidly into eminence and power.  At length, on the death of Alcmaeon
--the thirteenth and last perpetual archon--a new and more popular
change was introduced into the government.  The sway of the archon was
limited to ten years.  This change slowly prepared the way to changes
still more important.  Hitherto the office had been confined to the
two Neleid houses of Codrus and Alcmaeon;--in the archonship of
Hippomenes it was thrown open to other distinguished families; and at
length, on the death of Eryxias, the last of the race of Codrus, the
failure of that ancient house in its direct line (indirectly it still
continued, and the blood of Codrus flowed through the veins of Solon)
probably gave excuse and occasion for abolishing the investment of the
supreme power in one magistrate; nine were appointed, each with the
title of archon (though the name was more emphatically given to the
chief of the number), and each with separate functions.  This
institution continued to the last days of Athenian freedom.  This
change took place in the 24th Olympiad.

V.  In the 39th Olympiad, Draco, being chief archon, was deputed to
institute new laws in B. C. 621.  He was a man concerning whom history
is singularly brief; we know only that he was of a virtuous and
austere renown--that he wrote a great number of verses, as little
durable as his laws [98].  As for the latter--when we learn that they
were stern and bloody beyond precedent--we have little difficulty in
believing that they were inefficient.

VI.  I have hastened over this ambiguous and uninteresting period with
a rapidity I trust all but antiquaries will forgive.  Hitherto we have
been in the land of shadow--we approach the light.  The empty names of
apocryphal beings which we have enumerated are for the most part as
spectres, so dimly seen as to be probably delusions--invoked to please
a fanciful curiosity, but without an object to satisfy the reason or
excuse the apparition.  If I am blamed for not imitating those who
have sought, by weaving together disconnected hints and subtle
conjectures, to make a history from legends, to overturn what has been
popularly believed, by systems equally contradictory, though more
learnedly fabricated;--if I am told that I might have made the
chronicle thus briefly given extend to a greater space, and sparkle
with more novel speculation, I answer that I am writing the history of
men and not of names--to the people and not to scholars--and that no
researches however elaborate, no conjectures however ingenious, could
draw any real or solid moral from records which leave us ignorant both
of the characters of men and the causes of events.  What matters who
was Ion, or whence the first worship of Apollo? what matter
revolutions or dynasties, ten or twelve centuries before Athens
emerged from a deserved obscurity?--they had no influence upon her
after greatness; enigmas impossible to solve--if solved, but
scholastic frivolities.

Fortunately, as we desire the history of a people, so it is when the
Athenians become a people, that we pass at once from tradition into

I pause to take a brief survey of the condition of the rest of Greece
prior to the age of Solon.


A General Survey of Greece and the East previous to the time of
Solon.--The Grecian Colonies.--The Isles.--Brief account of the States
on the Continent.--Elis and the Olympic Games.

I.  On the north, Greece is separated from Macedonia by the Cambunian
mountains; on the west spreads the Ionian, on the south and east the
Aegean Sea.  Its greatest length is two hundred and twenty
geographical miles; its greatest width one hundred and forty.  No
contrast can be more startling than the speck of earth which Greece
occupies in the map of the world, compared to the space claimed by the
Grecian influences in the history of the human mind.  In that contrast
itself is the moral which Greece has left us--nor can volumes more
emphatically describe the triumph of the Intellectual over the
Material.  But as nations, resembling individuals, do not become
illustrious from their mere physical proportions; as in both, renown
has its moral sources; so, in examining the causes which conduced to
the eminence of Greece, we cease to wonder at the insignificance of
its territories or the splendour of its fame.  Even in geographical
circumstance Nature had endowed the country of the Hellenes with gifts
which amply atoned the narrow girth of its confines.  The most
southern part of the continent of Europe, it contained within itself
all the advantages of sea and land; its soil, though unequal in its
product, is for the most part fertile and abundant; it is intersected
by numerous streams, and protected by chains of mountains; its plains
and valleys are adapted to every product most necessary to the support
of the human species; and the sun that mellows the fruits of nature is
sufficiently tempered not to relax the energies of man.  Bordered on
three sides by the sea, its broad and winding extent of coast early
conduced to the spirit of enterprise; and, by innumerable bays and
harbours, proffered every allurement to that desire of gain which is
the parent of commerce and the basis of civilization.  At the period
in which Greece rose to eminence it was in the very centre of the most
advanced and flourishing states of Europe and of Asia.  The attention
of its earlier adventurers was directed not only to the shores of
Italy, but to the gorgeous cities of the East, and the wise and hoary
institutions of Egypt.  If from other nations they borrowed less than
has been popularly supposed, the very intercourse with those nations
alone sufficed to impel and develop the faculties of an imitative and
youthful people;--while, as the spirit of liberty broke out in all the
Grecian states, producing a restless competition both among the
citizens in each city and the cities one with another, no energy was
allowed to sleep until the operations of an intellect, perpetually
roused and never crippled, carried the universal civilization to its
height.  Nature herself set the boundaries of the river and the
mountain to the confines of the several states--the smallness of each
concentrated power into a focus--the number of all heightened
emulation to a fever.  The Greek cities had therefore, above all other
nations, the advantage of a perpetual collision of mind--a perpetual
intercourse with numerous neighbours, with whom intellect was ever at
work--with whom experiment knew no rest.  Greece, taken collectively,
was the only free country (with the exception of Phoenician states and
colonies perhaps equally civilized) in the midst of enlightened
despotisms; and in the ancient world, despotism invented and sheltered
the arts which liberty refined and perfected [99]: Thus considered,
her greatness ceases to be a marvel--the very narrowness of her
dominions was a principal cause of it--and to the most favourable
circumstances of nature were added circumstances the most favourable
of time.

If, previous to the age of Solon, we survey the histories of Asia, we
find that quarter of the globe subjected to great and terrible
revolutions, which confined and curbed the power of its various
despotisms.  Its empires for the most part built up by the successful
invasions of Nomad tribes, contained in their very vastness the
elements of dissolution.  The Assyrian Nineveh had been conquered by
the Babylonians and the Medes (B. C. 606); and Babylon, under the new
Chaldaean dynasty, was attaining the dominant power of western Asia.
The Median monarchy was scarce recovering from the pressure of
barbarian foes, and Cyrus had not as yet arisen to establish the
throne of Persia.  In Asia Minor, it is true, the Lydian empire had
attained to great wealth and luxury, and was the most formidable enemy
of the Asiatic Greeks, yet it served to civilize them even while it
awed.  The commercial and enterprising Phoenicians, now foreboding the
march of the Babylonian king, who had “taken counsel against Tyre, the
crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the
honourable of the earth,” at all times were precluded from the desire
of conquest by their divided states [100], formidable neighbours, and
trading habits.

In Egypt a great change had operated upon the ancient character; the
splendid dynasty of the Pharaohs was no more.  The empire, rent into
an oligarchy of twelve princes, had been again united under the
sceptre of one by the swords of Grecian mercenaries (B. C. 616); and
Neco, the son of the usurper--a man of mighty intellect and vast
designs--while he had already adulterated the old Egyptian customs
with the spirit of Phoenician and Greek adventure, found his field of
action only in the East (defeats Josiah B. C. 609).  As yet, then, no
foreign enemy had disturbed the early rise of the several states of
Greece; they were suffered to form their individual demarcations
tranquilly and indelibly; and to progress to that point between social
amenities and chivalric hardihood, when, while war is the most sternly
encountered, it the most rapidly enlightens.  The peace that follows
the first war of a half-civilized nation is usually the great era of
its intellectual eminence.

II.  At this time the colonies in Asia Minor were far advanced in
civilization beyond the Grecian continent.  Along the western coast of
that delicious district--on a shore more fertile, under a heaven more
bright, than those of the parent states--the Aeolians, Ionians, and
Dorians, in a remoter age, had planted settlements and founded cities
(probably commenced under Penthilus, son of Orestes, about B. C.
1068).  The Aeolian colonies (the result of the Dorian immigrations)
[101] occupied the coasts of commenced Mysia and Caria--on the
mainland twelve cities--the most renowned of which were Cyme and
Smyrna; and the islands of the Heccatonnesi, Tenedos, and Lesbos, the
last illustrious above the rest, and consecrated by the muses of
Sappho and Alcaeus.  They had also settlements about Mount Ida.  Their
various towns were independent of each other; but Mitylene, in the
Isle of Lesbos, was regarded as their common capital.  The trade of
Mitylene was extensive--its navy formidable.

The Ionian colonies (probably commenced about 988 B. C.), founded
subsequently to the Aeolian, but also (though less immediately) a
consequence of the Dorian revolution, were peopled not only by
Ionians, but by various nations, led by the sons of Codrus.  In the
islands of Samos and Chios, on the southern coast of Lydia, where
Caria stretches to the north, they established their voluptuous
settlements known by the name “Ionia.”  Theirs were the cities of
Myus, and Priene, Colophon, Ephesus, Lebedus, Teos, Clazomene,
Erythrae, Phocae, and Miletus:--in the islands of Samos and Chios were
two cities of the same name as the isles themselves.  The chief of the
Ionian cities at the time on which we enter, and second perhaps in
trade and in civilization to none but the great Phoenician states, was
the celebrated Miletus--founded first by the Carians--exalted to her
renown by the Ionians (Naval dominion of Miletus commenced B. C. 750).
Her streets were the mart of the world; along the Euxine and the Palus
Maeotis, her ships rode in the harbours of a hundred of her colonies.
Here broke the first light of the Greek philosophy.  But if inferior
to this, their imperial city, each of the Ionian towns had its title
to renown.  Here flourished already music, and art, and song.  The
trade of Phocae extended to the coasts of Italy and Gaul.  Ephesus had
not yet risen to its meridian--it was the successor of Miletus and
Phocaea.  These Ionian states, each independent of the other, were
united by a common sanctuary--the Panionium (Temple of Neptune), which
might be seen far off on the headland of that Mycale afterward the
witness of one of the proudest feats of Grecian valour.  Long free,
Ionia became tributary to the Lydian kings, and afterward to the great
Persian monarchy.

In the islands of Cos and Rhodes, and on the southern shores of Caria,
spread the Dorian colonies--planted subsequently to the Ionian by
gradual immigrations.  If in importance and wealth the Aeolian were
inferior to the Ionian colonies, so were the Dorian colonies to the
Aeolian.  Six cities (Ialyssus, Camirus, and Lindus, in Rhodes; in
Cos, a city called from the island; Cnidus and Halicarnassus, on the
mainland) were united, like the Ionians, by a common sanctuary--the
Temple of Apollo Triopius.

Besides these colonies--the Black Sea, the Palus Maeotis, the
Propontis, the coasts of Lower Italy, the eastern and southern shores
of Sicily [102], Syracuse, the mightiest of Grecian offspring, and the
daughter of Corinth,--the African Cyrene,--not enumerating settlements
more probably referable to a later date, attested the active spirit
and extended navigation of early Greece.

The effect of so vast and flourishing a colonization was necessarily
prodigious upon the moral and intellectual spirit of the mother land.
The seeds scattered over the earth bore their harvests to her garner.

III.  Among the Grecian isles, the glory of Minos had long passed from
Crete (about 800 B. C.).  The monarchical form of government had
yielded to the republican, but in its worst shape--the oligarchic.
But the old Cretan institutions still lingered in the habits of
private life;--while the jealousies and commotions of its several
cities, each independent, exhausted within itself those powers which,
properly concentrated and wisely directed, might have placed Crete at
the head of Greece.

Cyprus, equally favoured by situation with Crete, and civilized by the
constant influence of the Phoenicians, once its masters, was attached
to its independence, but not addicted to warlike enterprise.  It was,
like Crete, an instance of a state which seemed unconscious of the
facilities for command and power which it had received from nature.
The Island of Corcyra (a Corinthian colony) had not yet arrived at its
day of power.  This was reserved for that period when, after the
Persian war, it exchanged an oligarchic for a democratic action, which
wore away, indeed, the greatness of the country in its struggles for
supremacy, obstinately and fatally resisted by the antagonist

Of the Cyclades--those beautiful daughters of Crete--Delos, sacred to
Apollo, and possessed principally by the Ionians, was the most
eminent.  But Paros boasted not only its marble quarries, but the
valour of its inhabitants, and the vehement song of Archilochus.

Euboea, neighbouring Attica, possessed two chief cities, Eretria and
Chalcis, governed apparently by timocracies, and frequently at war
with each other.  Though of importance as connected with the
subsequent history of Athens, and though the colonization of Chalcis
was considerable, the fame of Euboea was scarcely proportioned to its
extent as one of the largest islands of the Aegean; and was far
outshone by the small and rocky Aegina--the rival of Athens, and at
this time her superior in maritime power and commercial enterprise.
Colonized by Epidaurus, Aegina soon became independent; but the
violence of party, and the power of the oligarchy, while feeding its
energies, prepared its downfall.

IV.  As I profess only to delineate in this work the rise and fall of
the Athenians, so I shall not deem it at present necessary to do more
than glance at the condition of the continent of Greece previous to
the time of Solon.  Sparta alone will demand a more attentive survey.

Taking our station on the citadel of Athens, we behold, far projecting
into the sea, the neighbouring country of Megaris, with Megara for its
city.  It was originally governed by twelve kings; the last, Hyperion,
being assassinated, its affairs were administered by magistrates, and
it was one of the earliest of the countries of Greece which adopted
republican institutions.  Nevertheless, during the reigns of the
earlier kings of Attica, it was tributary to them [103].  We have seen
how the Dorians subsequently wrested it from the Athenians [104]; and
it underwent long and frequent warfare for the preservation of its
independence from the Dorians of Corinth.  About the year 640, a
powerful citizen named Theagenes wrested the supreme power from the
stern aristocracy which the Dorian conquest had bequeathed, though the
yoke of Corinth was shaken off.  The tyrant--for such was the
appellation given to a successful usurper--was subsequently deposed,
and the democratic government restored; and although that democracy
was one of the most turbulent in Greece, it did not prevent this
little state from ranking among the most brilliant actors in the
Persian war.

V.  Between Attica and Megaris we survey the Isle of Salamis--the
right to which we shall find contested both by Athens and the

VI.  Turning our eyes now to the land, we may behold, bordering
Attica--from which a mountainous tract divides it--the mythological
Boeotia, the domain of the Phoenician Cadmus, and the birthplace of
Polynices and Oedipus.  Here rise the immemorial mountains of Helicon
and Cithaeron--the haunt of the muses; here Pentheus fell beneath the
raging bands of the Bacchanals, and Actaeon endured the wrath of the
Goddess of the Woods; here rose the walls of Thebes to the harmony of
Amphion’s lyre--and still, in the time of Pausanias, the Thebans
showed, to the admiration of the traveller, the place where Cadmus
sowed the dragon-seed--the images of the witches sent by Juno to
lengthen the pains of Alcmena--the wooden statue wrought by Daedalus--
and the chambers of Harmonia and of Semele.  No land was more
sanctified by all the golden legends of poetry--and of all Greece no
people was less alive to the poetical inspiration.  Devoted, for the
most part, to pastoral pursuits, the Boeotians were ridiculed by their
lively neighbours for an inert and sluggish disposition--a reproach
which neither the song of Hesiod and Pindar, nor the glories of Thebes
and Plataea, were sufficient to repel.  As early as the twelfth
century (B. C.) royalty was abolished in Boeotia--its territory was
divided into several independent states, of which Thebes was the
principal, and Plataea and Cheronaea among the next in importance.
Each had its own peculiar government; and, before the Persian war,
oligarchies had obtained the ascendency in these several states.  They
were united in a league, of which Thebes was the head; but the
ambition and power of that city kept the rest in perpetual jealousy,
and weakened, by a common fear and ill-smothered dissensions, a
country otherwise, from the size of its territories [105] and the
number of its inhabitants, calculated to be the principal power of
Greece.  Its affairs were administered by eleven magistrates, or
boeotarchs, elected by four assemblies held in the four districts into
which Boeotia was divided.

VII.  Beyond Boeotia lies Phocis, originally colonized, according to
the popular tradition, by Phocus from Corinth.  Shortly after the
Dorian irruption, monarchy was abolished and republican institutions
substituted.  In Phocis were more than twenty states independent of
the general Phocian government, but united in a congress held at
stated times on the road between Daulis and Delphi.  Phocis contained
also the city of Crissa, with its harbour and the surrounding
territory inhabited by a fierce and piratical population, and the
sacred city of Delphi, on the southwest of Parnassus.

VIII.  Of the oracle of Delphi I have before spoken--it remains only
now to point out to the reader the great political cause of its rise
into importance.  It had been long established, but without any
brilliant celebrity, when happened that Dorian revolution which is
called the “Return of the Heraclidae.”  The Dorian conquerors had
early steered their course by the advice of the Delphian oracle, which
appeared artfully to favour their pretensions, and which, adjoining
the province of Doris, had imposed upon them the awe, and perhaps felt
for them the benevolence, of a sacred neighbour.  Their ultimate
triumph not only gave a striking and supreme repute to the oracle, but
secured the protection and respect of a race now become the most
powerful of Greece.  From that time no Dorian city ever undertook an
enterprise without consulting the Pythian voice; the example became
general, and the shrine of the deity was enriched by offerings not
only from the piety of Greece, but the credulous awe of barbarian
kings.  Perhaps, though its wealth was afterward greater, its
authority was never so unquestioned as for a period dating from about
a century preceding the laws of Solon to the end of the Persian war.
Delphi was wholly an independent state, administered by a rigid
aristocracy [106]; and though protected by the Amphictyonic council,
received from its power none of those haughty admonitions with which
the defenders of a modern church have often insulted their charge.
The temple was so enriched by jewels, statues, and vessels of gold,
that at the time of the invasion of Xerxes its wealth was said to
equal in value the whole of the Persian armament and so wonderful was
its magnificence, that it appeared more like the Olympus of the gods
than a human temple in their honour.  On the ancient Delphi stands now
the monastery of Kastri.  But still you discover the terraces once
crowded by fans--still, amid gloomy chasms, bubbles the Castalian
spring--and yet permitted to the pilgrim’s gaze is the rocky bath of
the Pythia, and the lofty halls of the Corycian Cave.

IX.  Beyond Phocis lies the country of the Locrians, divided into
three tribes independent of each other--the Locri Ozolae, the Locri
Opuntii, the Locri Epicnemidii.  The Locrians (undistinguished in
history) changed in early times royal for aristocratic institutions.

The nurse of the Dorian race--the small province of Doris--borders the
Locrian territory to the south of Mount Oeta; while to the west of
Locris spreads the mountainous Aetolia, ranging northward from Pindus
to the Ambracian Bay.  Aetolia gave to the heroic age the names of
Meleager and Diomed, but subsequently fell into complete obscurity.
The inhabitants were rude and savage, divided into tribes, nor emerged
into importance until the latest era of the Grecian history.  The
political constitution of Aetolia, in the time referred to, is

X.  Acarnania, the most western country of central Greece, appears
little less obscure at this period than Aetolia, on which it borders;
with Aetolia it arose into eminence in the Macedonian epoch of Greek

XI.  Northern Greece contains two countries--Thessaly and Epirus.

In Thessaly was situated the long and lofty mountain of the divine
Olympus, and to the more southern extreme rose Pindus and Oeta.  Its
inhabitants were wild and hardy, and it produced the most celebrated
breed of horses in Greece.  It was from Thessaly that the Hellenes
commenced their progress over Greece--it was in the kingdoms of
Thessaly that the race of Achilles held their sway; but its later
history was not calculated to revive the fame of the Homeric hero; it
appears to have shared but little of the republican spirit of the more
famous states of Greece.  Divided into four districts (Thessaliotis,
Pelasgiotis, Phthiotis, and Hestiaeotis), the various states of
Thessaly were governed either by hereditary princes or nobles of vast
possessions.  An immense population of serfs, or penestae, contributed
to render the chiefs of Thessaly powerful in war and magnificent in
peace.  Their common country fell into insignificance from the want of
a people--but their several courts were splendid from the wealth of a

XII.  Epirus was of somewhat less extent than Thessaly, and far less
fertile; it was inhabited by various tribes, some Greek, some
barbarian, the chief of which was the Molossi, governed by kings who
boasted their descent from Achilles.  Epirus has little importance or
interest in history until the sun of Athens had set, during the
ascendency of the Macedonian kings.  It contained the independent
state of Ambracia, peopled from Corinth, and governed by republican
institutions.  Here also were the sacred oaks of the oracular Dodona.

XIII.  We now come to the states of the Peloponnesus, which contained
eight countries.

Beyond Megaris lay the territory of Corinth: its broad bay adapted it
for commerce, of which it availed itself early; even in the time of
Homer it was noted for its wealth.  It was subdued by the Dorians, and
for five generations the royal power rested with the descendants of
Aletes [107], of the family of the Heraclidae.  By a revolution, the
causes of which are unknown to us, the kingdom then passed to Bacchis,
the founder of an illustrious race (the Bacchiadae), who reigned first
as kings, and subsequently as yearly magistrates, under the name of
Prytanes.  In the latter period the Bacchiadae were certainly not a
single family, but a privileged class--they intermarried only with
each other,--the administrative powers were strictly confined to them
--and their policy, if exclusive, seems to have been vigorous and
brilliant.  This government was destroyed, as under its sway the
people increased in wealth and importance; a popular movement, headed
by Cypselus, a man of birth and fortune, replaced an able oligarchy by
an abler demagogue (B. C. 655).  Cypselus was succeeded by the
celebrated Heriander (B. C. 625), a man, whose vices were perhaps
exaggerated, whose genius was indisputable.  Under his nephew
Psammetichus, Corinth afterward regained its freedom.  The
Corinthians, in spite of every change in the population, retained
their luxury to the last, and the epistles of Alciphron, in the second
century after Christ, note the ostentation of the few and the poverty
of the many.  At the time now referred to, Corinth--the Genoa of
Greece--was high in civilization, possessed of a considerable naval
power, and in art and commerce was the sole rival on the Grecian
continent to the graceful genius and extensive trade of the Ionian

XIV.  Stretching from Corinth along the coast opposite Attica, we
behold the ancient Argolis.  Its three principal cities were Argos,
Mycenae, and Epidaurus.  Mycenae, at the time of the Trojan war, was
the most powerful of the states of Greece; and Argos, next to Sicyori,
was reputed the most ancient.  Argolis suffered from the Dorian
revolution, and shortly afterward the regal power, gradually
diminishing, lapsed into republicanism [108]. Argolis contained
various independent states--one to every principal city.

XV.  On the other side of Corinth, almost opposite Argolis, we find
the petty state of Sicyon.  This was the most ancient of the Grecian
states, and was conjoined to the kingdom of Agamemnon at the Trojan
war.  At first it was possessed by Ionians, expelled subsequently by
the Dorians, and not long after seems to have lapsed into a democratic
republic.  A man of low birth, Orthagoras, obtained the tyranny, and
it continued in his family for a century, the longest tyranny in
Greece, because the gentlest.  Sicyon was of no marked influence at
the period we are about to enter, though governed by an able tyrant,
Clisthenes, whose policy it was to break the Dorian nobility, while
uniting, as in a common interest, popular laws and regal authority.

XVI.  Beyond Sicyon we arrive at Achaia.  We have already seen that
this district was formerly possessed by the Ionians, who were expelled
by some of the Achaeans who escaped the Dorian yoke.  Governed first
by a king, it was afterward divided into twelve republics, leagued
together.  It was long before Achaia appeared on that heated stage of
action, which allured the more restless spirits of Athens and

XVII.  We now pause at Elis, which had also felt the revolution of the
Heraclidae, and was possessed by their comrades the Aetolians.

The state of Elis underwent the general change from monarchy to
republicanism; but republicanism in its most aristocratic form;--
growing more popular at the period of the Persian wars, but, without
the convulsions which usually mark the progress of democracy.  The
magistrates of the commonwealth were the superintendents of the Sacred
Games.  And here, diversifying this rapid, but perhaps to the general
reader somewhat tedious survey of the political and geographical
aspect of the states of Greece, we will take this occasion to examine
the nature and the influence of those celebrated contests, which gave
to Elis its true title to immortality.

XVIII.  The origin of the Olympic Games is lost in darkness.  The
legends which attribute their first foundation to the times of
demigods and heroes, are so far consonant with truth, that exhibitions
of physical strength made the favourite diversion of that wild and
barbarous age which is consecrated to the heroic.  It is easy to
perceive that the origin of athletic games preceded the date of
civilization; that, associated with occasions of festival, they, like
festivals, assumed a sacred character, and that, whether first
instituted in honour of a funeral, or in celebration of a victory, or
in reverence to a god,--religion combined with policy to transmit an
inspiring custom to a more polished posterity.  And though we cannot
literally give credit to the tradition which assigns the restoration
of these games to Lycurgus, in concert with Iphitus, king of Elis, and
Cleosthenes of Pisa, we may suppose at least that to Elis, to Pisa,
and to Sparta, the institution was indebted for its revival.

The Dorian Oracle of Delphi gave its sanction to a ceremony, the
restoration of which was intended to impose a check upon the wars and
disorders of the Peloponnesus.  Thus authorized, the festival was
solemnized at the temple of Jupiter, at Olympia, near Pisa, a town in
Elis.  It was held every fifth year; it lasted four days.  It
consisted in the celebration of games in honour of Jupiter and
Hercules.  The interval between each festival was called, an Olympiad.
After the fiftieth Olympiad (B. C. 580), the whole management of the
games, and the choice of the judges, were monopolized by the Eleans.
Previous to each festival, officers, deputed by the Eleans, proclaimed
a sacred truce.  Whatever hostilities were existent in Greece,
terminated for the time; sufficient interval was allowed to attend and
to return from the games. [109]

During this period the sacred territory of Elis was regarded as under
the protection of the gods--none might traverse it armed.  The Eleans
arrogated indeed the right of a constant sanctity to perpetual peace;
and the right, though sometimes invaded, seems generally to have been
conceded.  The people of this territory became, as it were, the
guardians of a sanctuary; they interfered little in the turbulent
commotions of the rest of Greece; they did not fortify their capital;
and, the wealthiest people of the Peloponnesus, they enjoyed their
opulence in tranquillity;--their holy character contenting their
ambition.  And a wonderful thing it was in the midst of those warlike,
stirring, restless tribes--that solitary land, with its plane grove
bordering the Alpheus, adorned with innumerable and hallowed monuments
and statues--unvisited by foreign wars and civil commotion--a whole
state one temple!

At first only the foot-race was exhibited; afterward were added
wrestling, leaping, quoiting, darting, boxing, a more complicated
species of foot-race (the Diaulus and Dolichus), and the chariot and
horse-races.  The Pentathlon was a contest of five gymnastic exercises
combined.  The chariot-races [110] preceded those of the riding
horses, as in Grecian war the use of chariots preceded the more
scientific employment of cavalry, and were the most attractive and
splendid part of the exhibition.  Sometimes there were no less than
forty chariots on the ground.  The rarity of horses, and the expense
of their training, confined, without any law to that effect, the
chariot-race to the highborn and the wealthy.  It was consistent with
the vain Alcibiades to decline the gymnastic contests in which his
physical endowments might have ensured him success, because his
competitors were not the equals to the long-descended heir of the
Alcmaeonidae.  In the equestrian contests his success was
unprecedented.  He brought seven chariots into the field, and bore off
at the same time the first, second, and fourth prize [111].  Although
women [112], with the exception of the priestesses of the neighbouring
fane of Ceres, were not permitted to witness the engagements, they
were yet allowed to contend by proxy in the chariot-races; and the
ladies of Macedon especially availed themselves of the privilege.  No
sanguinary contest with weapons, no gratuitous ferocities, no struggle
between man and beast (the graceless butcheries of Rome), polluted the
festival dedicated to the Olympian god.  Even boxing with the cestus
was less esteemed than the other athletic exercises, and was excluded
from the games exhibited by Alexander in his Asiatic invasions [113].
Neither did any of those haughty assumptions of lineage or knightly
blood, which characterize the feudal tournament, distinguish between
Greek and Greek.  The equestrian contests were indeed, from their
expense, limited to the opulent, but the others were impartially free
to the poor as to the rich, the peasant as the noble,--the Greeks
forbade monopoly in glory.  But although thus open to all Greeks, the
stadium was impenetrably closed to barbarians.  Taken from his plough,
the boor obtained the garland for which the monarchs of the East were
held unworthy to contend, and to which the kings of the neighbouring
Macedon were forbidden to aspire till their Hellenic descent had been
clearly proved [114].  Thus periodically were the several states
reminded of their common race, and thus the national name and
character were solemnly preserved: yet, like the Amphictyonic league,
while the Olympic festival served to maintain the great distinction
between foreigners and Greeks, it had but little influence in
preventing the hostile contests of Greeks themselves.  The very
emulation between the several states stimulated their jealousy of each
other: and still, if the Greeks found their countrymen in Greeks they
found also in Greeks their rivals.

We can scarcely conceive the vast importance attached to victory in
these games [115]; it not only immortalized the winner, it shed glory
upon his tribe.  It is curious to see the different honours
characteristically assigned to the conqueror in different states.  If
Athenian, he was entitled to a place by the magistrates in the
Prytaneum; if a Spartan, to a prominent station in the field.  To
conquer at Elis was renown for life, “no less illustrious to a Greek
than consulship to a Roman!” [116]  The haughtiest nobles, the
wealthiest princes, the most successful generals, contended for the
prize [117].  And the prize (after the seventh Olympiad) was a wreath
of the wild olive!

Numerous other and similar games were established throughout Greece.
Of these, next to the Olympic, the most celebrated, and the only
national ones, were the Pythian at Delphi, the Nemean in Argolis, the
Isthmian in Corinth; yet elsewhere the prize was of value; at all the
national ones it was but a garland--a type of the eternal truth, that
praise is the only guerdon of renown.  The olive-crown was nothing!--
the shouts of assembled Greece--the showers of herbs and flowers--the
banquet set apart for the victor--the odes of imperishable poets--the
public register which transmitted to posterity his name--the privilege
of a statue in the Altis--the return home through a breach in the
walls (denoting by a noble metaphor, “that a city which boasts such
men has slight need of walls” [118]), the first seat in all public
spectacles; the fame, in short, extended to his native city--
bequeathed to his children--confirmed by the universal voice wherever
the Greek civilization spread; this was the true olive-crown to the
Olympic conqueror!

No other clime can furnish a likeness to these festivals: born of a
savage time, they retained the vigorous character of an age of heroes,
but they took every adjunct from the arts and the graces of
civilization.  To the sacred ground flocked all the power, and the
rank, and the wealth, and the intellect, of Greece.  To that gorgeous
spectacle came men inspired by a nobler ambition than that of the
arena.  Here the poet and the musician could summon an audience to
their art.  If to them it was not a field for emulation [119], it was
at least a theatre of display.

XIX.  The uses of these games were threefold;--1st, The uniting all
Greeks by one sentiment of national pride, and the memory of a common
race; 2dly, The inculcation of hardy discipline--of physical education
throughout every state, by teaching that the body had its honours as
well as the intellect--a theory conducive to health in peace--and in
those ages when men fought hand to hand, and individual strength and
skill were the nerves of the army, to success in war; but, 3dly, and
principally, its uses were in sustaining and feeding as a passion, as
a motive, as an irresistible incentive--the desire of glory!  That
desire spread through all classes--it animated all tribes--it taught
that true rewards are not in gold and gems, but in men’s opinions.
The ambition of the Altis established fame as a common principle of
action.  What chivalry did for the few, the Olympic contests effected
for the many--they made a knighthood of a people.

If, warmed for a moment from the gravity of the historic muse, we
might conjure up the picture of this festival, we would invoke the
imagination of the reader to that sacred ground decorated with the
profusest triumphs of Grecian art--all Greece assembled from her
continent, her colonies, her isles--war suspended--a Sabbath of
solemnity and rejoicing--the Spartan no longer grave, the Athenian
forgetful of the forum--the highborn Thessalian, the gay Corinthian--
the lively gestures of the Asiatic Ionian;--suffering the various
events of various times to confound themselves in one recollection of
the past, he may see every eye turned from the combatants to one
majestic figure--hear every lip murmuring a single name [120]--
glorious in greater fields: Olympia itself is forgotten.  Who is the
spectacle of the day?  Themistocles, the conqueror of Salamis, and the
saviour of Greece!  Again--the huzzas of countless thousands following
the chariot-wheels of the competitors--whose name is shouted forth,
the victor without a rival!--it is Alcibiades, the destroyer of
Athens!  Turn to the temple of the Olympian god, pass the brazen
gates, proceed through the columned aisles [121], what arrests the awe
and wonder of the crowd!  Seated on a throne of ebon and of ivory, of
gold and gems--the olive-crown on his head, in his right hand the
statue of Victory, in his left; wrought of all metals, the
cloud-compelling sceptre, behold the colossal masterpiece of Phidias, the
Homeric dream imbodied [122]--the majesty of the Olympian Jove!  Enter
the banquet-room of the conquerors--to whose verse, hymned in a solemn
and mighty chorus, bends the listening Spartan--it is the verse of the
Dorian Pindar!  In that motley and glittering space (the fair of
Olympia, the mart of every commerce, the focus of all intellect), join
the throng, earnest and breathless, gathered round that sunburnt
traveller;--now drinking in the wild account of Babylonian gardens, or
of temples whose awful deity no lip may name--now, with clinched hands
and glowing cheeks, tracking the march of Xerxes along exhausted
rivers, and over bridges that spanned the sea--what moves, what hushes
that mighty audience?  It is Herodotus reading his history! [123]

Let us resume our survey.

XX.  Midland, in the Peloponnesus, lies the pastoral Arcady.  Besides
the rivers of Alpheus and Erymanthus, it is watered by the gloomy
stream of Styx; and its western part, intersected by innumerable
brooks, is the land of Pan.  Its inhabitants were long devoted to the
pursuits of the herdsman and the shepherd, and its ancient government
was apparently monarchical.  The Dorian irruption spared this land of
poetical tradition, which the oracle of Delphi took under no
unsuitable protection, and it remained the eldest and most unviolated
sanctuary of the old Pelasgic name.  But not very long after the
return of the Heraclidae, we find the last king stoned by his
subjects, and democratic institutions established.  It was then
parcelled out into small states, of which Tegea and Mantinea were the

XXI.  Messenia, a fertile and level district, which lies to the west
of Sparta, underwent many struggles with the latter power; and this
part of its history, which is full of interest, the reader will find
briefly narrated in that of the Spartans, by whom it was finally
subdued.  Being then incorporated with that country, we cannot, at the
period of history we are about to enter, consider Messenia as a
separate and independent state. [124]

And now, completing the survey of the Peloponnesus, we rest at
Laconia, the country of the Spartans.


Return of the Heraclidae.--The Spartan Constitution and Habits.--The
first and second Messenian War.

I.  We have already seen, that while the Dorians remained in Thessaly,
the Achaeans possessed the greater part of the Peloponnesus.  But,
under the title of the Return of the Heraclidae (or the descendants of
Hercules), an important and lasting revolution established the Dorians
in the kingdoms of Agamemnon and Menelaus.  The true nature of this
revolution has only been rendered more obscure by modern ingenuity,
which has abandoned the popular accounts for suppositions still more
improbable and romantic.  The popular accounts run thus:--Persecuted
by Eurystheus, king of Argos, the sons of Hercules, with their friends
and followers, are compelled to take refuge in Attica.  Assisted by
the Athenians, they defeat and slay Eurystheus, and regain the
Peloponnesus.  A pestilence, regarded as an ominous messenger from
offended heaven, drives them again into Attica.  An oracle declares
that they shall succeed after the third fruit by the narrow passage at
sea.  Wrongly interpreting the oracle, in the third year they make for
the Corinthian Isthmus.  At the entrance of the Peloponnesus they are
met by the assembled arms of the Achaeans, Ionians, and Arcadians.
Hyllus, the eldest son of Hercules, proposes the issue of a single
combat.  Echemus, king of Tegea, is selected by the Peloponnesians.
He meets and slays Hyllus, and the Heraclidae engage not to renew the
invasion for one hundred years.  Nevertheless, Cleodaeus, the son, and
Aristomachus, the grandson, of Hyllus, successively attempt to renew
the enterprise, and in vain.  The three sons of Aristomachus
(Aristodemus, Temenus, and Cresphontes), receive from Apollo himself
the rightful interpretation of the oracle.  It was by the Straits of
Rhium, across a channel which rendered the distance between the
opposing shores only five stadia, that they were ordained to pass; and
by the Return of the third fruit, the third generation was denoted.
The time had now arrived:--with the assistance of the Dorians, the
Aetolians, and the Locrians, the descendants of Hercules crossed the
strait, and established their settlement in Peloponnesus (B. C. 1048).

II.  Whether in the previous expeditions the Dorians had assisted the
Heraclidae, is a matter of dispute--it is not a matter of importance.
Whether these Heraclidae were really descendants of the Achaean
prince, and the rightful heritors of a Peloponnesian throne, is a
point equally contested and equally frivolous.  It is probable enough
that the bold and warlike tribe of Thessaly might have been easily
allured, by the pretext of reinstating the true royal line, into an
enterprise which might plant them in safer and more wide domains, and
that while the prince got the throne, the confederates obtained the
country [125].  All of consequence to establish is, that the Dorians
shared in the expedition, which was successful--that by time and
valour they obtained nearly the whole of the Peloponnesus--that they
transplanted the Doric character and institutions to their new
possessions, and that the Return of the Heraclidae is, in fact, the
popular name for the conquest of the Dorians.  Whatever distinction
existed between the Achaean Heraclidae and the Doric race, had
probably been much effaced during the long absence of the former among
foreign tribes, and after their establishment in the Peloponnesus it
soon became entirely lost.  But still the legend that assigned the
blood of Hercules to the royalty of Sparta received early and implicit
credence, and Cleomenes, king of that state, some centuries afterward,
declared himself not Doric, but Achaean.

Of the time employed in consummating the conquest of the invaders we
are unable to determine--but, by degrees, Sparta, Argos, Corinth, and
Messene, became possessed by the Dorians; the Aetolian confederates
obtained Elis.  Some of the Achaeans expelled the Ionians from the
territory they held in the Peloponnesus, and gave to it the name it
afterward retained, of Achaia.  The expelled Ionians took refuge with
the Athenians, their kindred race.

The fated house of Pelops swept away by this irruption, Sparta fell to
the lot of Procles and Eurysthenes [126], sons of Aristodemus, fifth
in descent from Hercules; between these princes the royal power was
divided, so that the constitution always acknowledged two kings--one
from each of the Heracleid families.  The elder house was called the
Agids, or descendants of Agis, son of Eurysthenes; the latter, the
Eurypontids, from Eurypon, descendant of Procles.  Although Sparta,
under the new dynasty, appears to have soon arrogated the pre-eminence
over the other states of the Peloponnesus, it was long before she
achieved the conquest even of the cities in her immediate
neighbourhood.  The Achaeans retained the possession of Amyclae, built
upon a steep rock, and less than three miles from Sparta, for more
than two centuries and a half after the first invasion of the Dorians.
And here the Achaeans guarded the venerable tombs of Cassandra and

III.  The consequences of the Dorian invasion, if slowly developed,
were great and lasting.  That revolution not only changed the
character of the Peloponnesus--it not only called into existence the
iron race of Sparta--but the migrations which it caused made the
origin of the Grecian colonies in Asia Minor.  It developed also those
seeds of latent republicanism which belonged to the Dorian
aristocracies, and which finally supplanted the monarchical
government--through nearly the whole of civilized Greece.  The
revolution once peacefully consummated, migrations no longer disturbed
to any extent the continent of Greece, and the various tribes became
settled in their historic homes.

IV.  The history of Sparta, till the time of Lycurgus, is that of a
state maintaining itself with difficulty amid surrounding and hostile
neighbours; the power of the chiefs diminished the authority of the
kings; and while all without was danger, all within was turbulence.
Still the very evils to which the Spartans were subjected--their
paucity of numbers--their dissensions with their neighbours--their
pent up and encompassed situation in their mountainous confines--even
the preponderating power of the warlike chiefs, among whom the unequal
divisions of property produced constant feuds--served to keep alive
the elements of the great Doric character; and left it the task of the
first legislative genius rather to restore and to harmonize, than to
invent and create.

As I am writing the history, not of Greece, but of Athens, I do not
consider it necessary that I should detail the legendary life of
Lycurgus.  Modern writers have doubted his existence, but without
sufficient reason:--such assaults on our belief are but the amusements
of skepticism.  All the popular accounts of Lycurgus agree in this--
that he was the uncle of the king (Charilaus, an infant), and held the
rank of protector--that unable successfully to confront a powerful
faction raised against him, he left Sparta and travelled into Crete,
where all the ancient Doric laws and manners were yet preserved,
vigorous and unadulterated.  There studying the institutions of Minos,
he beheld the model for those of Sparta.  Thence he is said to have
passed into Asia Minor, and to have been the first who collected and
transported to Greece the poems of Homer [127], hitherto only
partially known in that country.  According to some writers, he
travelled also into Egypt; and could we credit one authority, which
does not satisfy even the credulous Plutarch, he penetrated into Spain
and Libya, and held converse with the Gymnosophists of India.

Returned to Sparta, after many solicitations, he found the state in
disorder: no definite constitution appears to have existed; no laws
were written.  The division of the regal authority between two kings
must have produced jealousy--and jealousy, faction.  And the power so
divided weakened the monarchic energy without adding to the liberties
of the people.  A turbulent nobility--rude, haughty mountain chiefs--
made the only part of the community that could benefit by the weakness
of the crown, and feuds among themselves prevented their power from
becoming the regular and organized authority of a government [128].
Such disorders induced prince and people to desire a reform; the
interference of Lycurgus was solicited; his rank and his travels gave
him importance; and he had the wisdom to increase it by obtaining from
Delphi (the object of the implicit reverence of the Dorians) an oracle
in his favour.

Thus called upon and thus encouraged, Lycurgus commenced his task.  I
enter not into the discussion whether he framed an entirely new
constitution, or whether he restored the spirit of one common to his
race and not unfamiliar to Sparta.  Common sense seems to me
sufficient to assure us of the latter.  Let those who please believe
that one man, without the intervention of arms--not as a conqueror,
but a friend--could succeed in establishing a constitution, resting
not upon laws, but manners--not upon force, but usage--utterly hostile
to all the tastes, desires, and affections of human nature: moulding
every the minutest detail of social life into one system--that system
offering no temptation to sense, to ambition, to the desire of
pleasure, or the love of gain, or the propensity to ease--but painful,
hard, steril, and unjoyous;--let those who please believe that a
system so created could at once be received, be popularly embraced,
and last uninterrupted, unbroken, and without exciting even the desire
of change for four hundred years, without having had any previous
foundation in the habits of a people--without being previously rooted
by time, custom, superstition, and character into their breasts.  For
my part, I know that all history furnishes no other such example; and
I believe that no man was ever so miraculously endowed with the power
to conquer nature. [129]

But we have not the smallest reason, the slightest excuse, for so
pliant a credulity.  We look to Crete, in which, previous to Lycurgus,
the Dorians had established their laws and customs, and we see at once
the resemblance to the leading features of the institutions of
Lycurgus; we come with Aristotle to the natural conclusion, that what
was familiar to the Dorian Crete was not unknown to the Dorian Sparta,
and that Lycurgus did not innovate, but restore and develop, the laws
and the manners which, under domestic dissensions, might have
undergone a temporary and superficial change, but which were deeply
implanted in the national character and the Doric habits.  That the
regulations of Lycurgus were not regarded as peculiar to Sparta, but
as the most perfect development of the Dorian constitution, we learn
from Pindar [130], when he tells us that “the descendants of Pamphylus
and of the Heraclidae wish always to retain the Doric institutions of
Aegimius.”  Thus regarded, the legislation of Lycurgus loses its
miraculous and improbable character, while we still acknowledge
Lycurgus himself as a great and profound statesman, adopting the only
theory by which reform can be permanently wrought, and suiting the
spirit of his laws to the spirit of the people they were to govern.
When we know that his laws were not written, that he preferred
engraving them only on the hearts of his countrymen, we know at once
that he must have legislated in strict conformity to their early
prepossessions and favourite notions.  That the laws were unwritten
would alone be a proof how little he introduced of what was alien and

V.  I proceed to give a brief, but I trust a sufficient outline, of
the Spartan constitution, social and political, without entering into
prolix and frivolous discussions as to what was effected or restored
by Lycurgus--what by a later policy.

There was at Sparta a public assembly of the people (called alia), as
common to other Doric states, which usually met every full moon--upon
great occasions more often.  The decision of peace and war--the final
ratification of all treaties with foreign powers--the appointment to
the office of counsellor, and other important dignities--the
imposition of new laws--a disputed succession to the throne,--were
among those matters which required the assent of the people.  Thus
there was the show and semblance of a democracy, but we shall find
that the intention and origin of the constitution were far from
democratic.  “If the people should opine perversely, the elders and
the princes shall dissent.”  Such was an addition to the Rhetra of
Lycurgus.  The popular assembly ratified laws, but it could propose
none--it could not even alter or amend the decrees that were laid
before it.  It appears that only the princes, the magistrates, and
foreign ambassadors had the privilege to address it.

The main business of the state was prepared by the Gerusia, or council
of elders, a senate consisting of thirty members, inclusive of the two
kings, who had each but a simple vote in the assembly.  This council
was in its outline like the assemblies common to every Dorian state.
Each senator was required to have reached the age of sixty; he was
chosen by the popular assembly, not by vote, but by acclamation.  The
mode of election was curious.  The candidates presented themselves
successively before the assembly, while certain judges were enclosed
in an adjacent room where they could hear the clamour of the people
without seeing the person, of the candidate.  On him whom they
adjudged to have been most applauded the election fell.  A mode of
election open to every species of fraud, and justly condemned by
Aristotle as frivolous and puerile [131].  Once elected, the senator
retained his dignity for life: he was even removed from all
responsibility to the people.  That Mueller should consider this an
admirable institution, “a splendid monument of early Grecian customs,”
 seems to me not a little extraordinary.  I can conceive no elective
council less practically good than one to which election is for life,
and in which power is irresponsible.  That the institution was felt to
be faulty is apparent, not because it was abolished, but because its
more important functions became gradually invaded and superseded by a
third legislative power, of which I shall speak presently.

The original duties of the Gerusia were to prepare the decrees and
business to be submitted to the people; they had the power of
inflicting death or degradation without written laws, they interpreted
custom, and were intended to preserve and transmit it.  The power of
the kings may be divided into two heads--power at home--power abroad:
power as a prince--power as a general.  In the first it was limited
and inconsiderable.  Although the kings presided over a separate
tribunal, the cases brought before their court related only to repairs
of roads, to the superintendence of the intercourse with other states,
and to questions of inheritance and adoption.

When present at the council they officiated as presidents, but without
any power of dictation; and, if absent, their place seems easily to
have been supplied.  They united the priestly with the regal
character; and to the descendants of a demigod a certain sanctity was
attached, visible in the ceremonies both at demise and at the
accession to the throne, which appeared to Herodotus to savour rather
of Oriental than Hellenic origin.  But the respect which the Spartan
monarch received neither endowed him with luxury nor exempted him from
control.  He was undistinguished by his garb--his mode of life, from
the rest of the citizens.  He was subjected to other authorities,
could be reprimanded, fined, suspended, exiled, put to death.  If he
went as ambassador to foreign states, spies were not unfrequently sent
with him, and colleagues the most avowedly hostile to his person
associated in the mission.  Thus curbed and thus confined was his
authority at home, and his prerogative as a king.  But by law he was
the leader of the Spartan armies.  He assumed the command--he crossed
the boundaries, and the limited magistrate became at once an imperial
despot! [132]  No man could question--no law circumscribed his power.
He raised armies, collected money in foreign states, and condemned to
death without even the formality of a trial.  Nothing, in short,
curbed his authority, save his responsibility on return.  He might be
a tyrant as a general; but he was to account for the tyranny when he
relapsed into a king.  But this distinction was one of the wisest
parts of the Spartan system; for war requires in a leader all the
license of a despot; and triumph, decision, and energy can only be
secured by the unfettered exercise of a single will.  Nor did early
Rome owe the extent of her conquests to any cause more effective than
the unlicensed discretion reposed by the senate in the general. [133]

VI.  We have now to examine the most active and efficient part of the
government, viz., the Institution of the Ephors.  Like the other
components of the Spartan constitution, the name and the office of
ephor were familiar to other states in the great Dorian family; but in
Sparta the institution soon assumed peculiar features, or rather,
while the inherent principles of the monarchy and the gerusia remained
stationary, those of the ephors became expanded and developed.  It is
clear that the later authority of the ephors was never designed by
Lycurgus or the earlier legislators.  It is entirely at variance with
the confined aristocracy which was the aim of the Spartan, and of
nearly every genuine Doric [134] constitution.  It made a democracy as
it were by stealth.  This powerful body consisted of five persons,
chosen annually by the people.  In fact, they may be called the
representatives of the popular will--the committee, as it were, of the
popular council.  Their original power seems to have been imperfectly
designed; it soon became extensive and encroaching.  At first the
ephoralty was a tribunal for civil, as the gerusia was for criminal,
causes; it exercised a jurisdiction over the Helots and Perioeci, over
the public market, and the public revenue.  But its character
consisted in this:--it was strictly a popular body, chosen by the
people for the maintenance of their interests.  Agreeably to this
character, it soon appears arrogating the privilege of instituting an
inquiry into the conduct of all officials except the counsellors.
Every eighth year, selecting a dark night when the moon withheld her
light, the ephors watched the aspect of the heavens, and if any
shooting star were visible in the expanse, the kings were adjudged to
have offended the Deity and were suspended from their office until
acquitted of their guilt by the oracle of Delphi or the priests at
Olympia.  Nor was this prerogative of adjudging the descendants of
Hercules confined to a superstitious practice: they summoned the king
before them, no less than the meanest of the magistrates, to account
for imputed crimes.  In a court composed of the counsellors (or
gerusia), and various other magistrates, they appeared at once as
accusers and judges; and, dispensing with appeal to a popular
assembly, subjected even royalty to a trial of life and death.  Before
the Persian war they sat in judgment on the King Cleomenes for an
accusation of bribery;--just after the Persian war, they resolved upon
the execution of the Regent Pausanias.  In lesser offences they acted
without the formality of this council, and fined or reprimanded their
kings for the affability of their manners, or the size [135] of their
wives.  Over education--over social habits-over the regulations
relative to ambassadors and strangers--over even the marshalling of
armies and the number of troops, they extended their inquisitorial
jurisdiction.  They became, in fact, the actual government of the

It is easy to perceive that it was in the nature of things that the
institution of the ephors should thus encroach until it became the
prevalent power.  Its influence was the result of the vicious
constitution of the gerusia, or council.  Had that assembly been
properly constituted, there would have been no occasion for the
ephors.  The gerusia was evidently meant, by the policy of Lycurgus,
and by its popular mode of election, for the only representative
assembly.  But the absurdity of election for life, with irresponsible
powers, was sufficient to limit its acceptation among the people.  Of
two assemblies--the ephors and the gerusia--we see the one elected
annually, the other for life--the one responsible to the people, the
other not--the one composed of men, busy, stirring, ambitious, in the
vigour of life--the other of veterans, past the ordinary stimulus of
exertion, and regarding the dignity of office rather as the reward of
a life than the opening to ambition.  Of two such assemblies it is
easy to foretell which would lose, and which would augment, authority.
It is also easy to see, that as the ephors increased in importance,
they, and not the gerusia, would become the check to the kingly
authority.  To whom was the king accountable?  To the people:--the
ephors were the people’s representatives!  This part of the Spartan
constitution has not, I think, been sufficiently considered in what
seems to me its true light; namely, that of a representative
government.  The ephoralty was the focus of the popular power.  Like
an American Congress or an English House of Commons, it prevented the
action of the people by acting in behalf of the people.  To
representatives annually chosen, the multitude cheerfully left the
management of their interests [136].  Thus it was true that the ephors
prevented the encroachments of the popular assembly;--but how? by
encroaching themselves, and in the name of the people!  When we are
told that Sparta was free from those democratic innovations constant
in Ionian states, we are not told truly.  The Spartan populace was
constantly innovating, not openly, as in the noisy Agora of Athens,
but silently and ceaselessly, through their delegated ephors.  And
these dread and tyrant FIVE--an oligarchy constructed upon principles
the most liberal--went on increasing their authority, as civilization,
itself increasing, rendered the public business more extensive and
multifarious, until they at length became the agents of that fate
which makes the principle of change at once the vital and the
consuming element of states.  The ephors gradually destroyed the
constitution of Sparta; but, without the ephors, it may be reasonably
doubted whether the constitution would have survived half as long.
Aristotle (whose mighty intellect is never more luminously displayed
than when adjudging the practical workings of various forms of
government) paints the evils of the ephoral magistrature, but
acknowledges that it gave strength and durability to the state.
“For,” [137] he says, “the people were contented on account of their
ephors, who were chosen from the whole body.”  He might have added,
that men so chosen, rarely too selected from the chiefs, but often
from the lower ranks, were the ablest and most active of the
community, and that the fewness of their numbers gave energy and unity
to their councils.  Had the other part of the Spartan constitution
(absurdly panegyrized) been so formed as to harmonize with, even in
checking, the power of the ephors; and, above all, had it not been for
the lamentable errors of a social system, which, by seeking to exclude
the desire of gain, created a terrible reaction, and made the Spartan
magistrature the most venal and corrupt in Greece--the ephors might
have sufficed to develop all the best principles of government.  For
they went nearly to recognise the soundest philosophy of the
representative system, being the smallest number of representatives
chosen, without restriction, from the greatest number of electors, for
short periods, and under strong responsibilities. [138]

I pass now to the social system of the Spartans.

VII.  If we consider the situation of the Spartans at the time of
Lycurgus, and during a long subsequent period, we see at once that to
enable them to live at all, they must be accustomed to the life of a
camp;--they were a little colony of soldiers, supporting themselves,
hand and foot, in a hostile country, over a population that detested
them.  In such a situation certain qualities were not praiseworthy
alone--they were necessary.  To be always prepared for a foe--to be
constitutionally averse to indolence--to be brave, temperate, and
hardy, were the only means by which to escape the sword of the
Messenian and to master the hatred of the Helot.  Sentinels they were,
and they required the virtues of sentinels: fortunately, these
necessary qualities were inherent in the bold mountain tribes that had
long roved among the crags of Thessaly, and wrestled for life with the
martial Lapithae.  But it now remained to mould these qualities into a
system, and to educate each individual in the habits which could best
preserve the community.  Accordingly the child was reared, from the
earliest age, to a life of hardship, discipline, and privation; he was
starved into abstinence;--he was beaten into fortitude;--he was
punished without offence, that he might be trained to bear without a
groan;--the older he grew, till he reached manhood, the severer the
discipline he underwent.  The intellectual education was little
attended to: for what had sentinels to do with the sciences or the
arts?  But the youth was taught acuteness, promptness, and
discernment--for such are qualities essential to the soldier.  He was
stimulated to condense his thoughts, and to be ready in reply; to say
little, and to the point.  An aphorism bounded his philosophy.  Such
an education produced its results in an athletic frame, in simple and
hardy habits--in indomitable patience--in quick sagacity.  But there
were other qualities necessary to the position of the Spartan, and
those scarce so praiseworthy--viz., craft and simulation.  He was one
of a scanty, if a valiant, race.  No single citizen could be spared
the state: it was often better to dupe than to fight an enemy.
Accordingly, the boy was trained to cunning as to courage.  He was
driven by hunger, or the orders of the leader over him, to obtain his
food, in house or in field, by stealth;--if undiscovered, he was
applauded; if detected, punished.  Two main-springs of action were
constructed within him--the dread of shame and the love of country.
These were motives, it is true, common to all the Grecian states, but
they seem to have been especially powerful in Sparta.  But the last
produced its abuse in one of the worst vices of the national
character.  The absorbing love for his native Sparta rendered the
citizen singularly selfish towards other states, even kindred to that
which he belonged to.  Fearless as a Spartan,--when Sparta was
unmenaced he was lukewarm as a Greek.  And this exaggerated yet
sectarian patriotism, almost peculiar to Sparta, was centred, not only
in the safety and greatness of the state, but in the inalienable
preservation of its institutions;--a feeling carefully sustained by a
policy exceedingly jealous of strangers [139].  Spartans were not
permitted to travel.  Foreigners were but rarely permitted a residence
within the city: and the Spartan dislike to Athens arose rather from
fear of the contamination of her principles than from envy at the
lustre of her fame.  When we find (as our history proceeds) the
Spartans dismissing their Athenian ally from the siege of Ithome, we
recognise their jealousy of the innovating character of their
brilliant neighbour;--they feared the infection of the democracy of
the Agora.  This attachment to one exclusive system of government
characterized all the foreign policy of Sparta, and crippled the
national sense by the narrowest bigotry and the obtusest prejudice.
Wherever she conquered, she enforced her own constitution, no matter
how inimical to the habits of the people, never dreaming that what was
good for Sparta might be bad for any other state.  Thus, when she
imposed the Thirty Tyrants on Athens, she sought, in fact, to
establish her own gerusia; and, no doubt, she imagined it would
become, not a curse, but a blessing to a people accustomed to the
wildest freedom of a popular assembly.  Though herself, through the
tyranny of the ephors, the unconscious puppet of the democratic
action, she recoiled from all other and more open forms of democracy
as from a pestilence.  The simple habits of the Spartan life assisted
to confirm the Spartan prejudices.  A dinner, a fine house, these
sturdy Dorians regarded as a pitiable sign of folly.  They had no
respect for any other cultivation of the mind than that which produced
bold men and short sentences.  Them, nor the science of Aristotle, nor
the dreams of Plato were fitted to delight.  Music and dancing were
indeed cultivated among them, and with success and skill; but the
music and the dance were always of one kind--it was a crime to vary an
air [140] or invent a measure.  A martial, haughty, and superstitious
tribe can scarcely fail to be attached to poetry,--war is ever the
inspiration of song,--and the eve of battle to a Spartan was the
season of sacrifice to the Muses.  The poetical temperament seems to
have been common among this singular people.  But the dread of
innovation, when carried to excess, has even worse effect upon
literary genius than legislative science; and though Sparta produced a
few poets gifted, doubtless, with the skill to charm the audience they
addressed, not a single one of the number has bequeathed to us any
other memorial than his name.  Greece, which preserved, as in a common
treasury, whatever was approved by her unerring taste, her wonderful
appreciation of the beautiful, regarded the Spartan poetry with an
indifference which convinces us of its want of value.  Thebes, and not
Sparta, has transmitted to us the Dorian spirit in its noblest shape:
and in Pindar we find how lofty the verse that was inspired by its
pride, its daring, and its sublime reverence for glory and the gods.
As for commerce, manufactures, agriculture,--the manual arts--such
peaceful occupations were beneath the dignity of a Spartan--they were
strictly prohibited by law as by pride, and were left to the Perioeci
or the Helots.

VIII.  It was evidently necessary to this little colony to be united.
Nothing unites men more than living together in common.  The syssitia,
or public tables, an institution which was common in Crete, in Corinth
[141], and in Megara, effected this object in a mode agreeable to the
Dorian manners.  The society at each table was composed of men
belonging to the same tribe or clan.  New members could only be
elected by consent of the rest.  Each head of a family in Sparta paid
for his own admission and that of the other members of his house.  Men
only belonged to them.  The youths and boys had their own separate
table.  The young children, however, sat with their parents on low
stools, and received a half share.  Women were excluded.  Despite the
celebrated black broth, the table seems to have been sufficiently, if
not elegantly, furnished.  And the second course, consisting of
voluntary gifts, which was supplied by the poorer members from the
produce of the chase--by the wealthier from their flocks, orchards,
poultry, etc., furnished what by Spartans were considered dainties.
Conversation was familiar, and even jocose, and relieved by songs.
Thus the public tables (which even the kings were ordinarily obliged
to attend) were rendered agreeable and inviting by the attractions of
intimate friendship and unrestrained intercourse.

IX.  The obscurest question relative to the Spartan system is that
connected with property.  It was evidently the intention of Lycurgus
or the earlier legislators to render all the divisions of land and
wealth as equal as possible.  But no law can effect what society
forbids.  The equality of one generation cannot be transmitted to
another.  It may be easy to prevent a great accumulation of wealth,
but what can prevent poverty?  While the acquisition of lands by
purchase was forbidden, no check was imposed on its acquisition by
gift or testament; and in the time of Aristotle land had become the
monopoly of the few.  Sparta, like other states, had consequently her
inequalities--her comparative rich and her positive poor--from an
early period in her known history.  As land descended to women, so
marriages alone established great disparities of property.  “Were the
whole territory,” says Aristotle, “divided into five portions, two
would belong to the women.”  The regulation by which the man who could
not pay his quota to the syssitia was excluded from the public tables,
proves that it was not an uncommon occurrence to be so excluded; and
indeed that exclusion grew at last so common, that the public tables
became an aristocratic instead of a democratic institution.
Aristotle, in later times, makes it an objection to the ephoral
government that poor men were chosen ephors, and that their venality
arose from their indigence--a moral proof that poverty in Sparta must
have been more common than has generally been supposed [142];--men of
property would not have chosen their judges and dictators in paupers.
Land was held and cultivated by the Helots, who paid a certain fixed
proportion of the produce to their masters.  It is said that Lycurgus
forbade the use of gold and silver, and ordained an iron coinage; but
gold and silver were at that time unknown as coins in Sparta, and iron
was a common medium of exchange throughout Greece.  The interdiction
of the precious metals was therefore of later origin.  It seems to
have only related to private Spartans.  For those who, not being
Spartans of the city--that is to say, for the Laconians or Perioeci--
engaged in commerce, the interdiction could not have existed.  A more
pernicious regulation it is impossible to conceive.  While it
effectually served to cramp the effects of emulation--to stint the
arts--to limit industry and enterprise--it produced the direct object
it was intended to prevent;--it infected the whole state with the
desire of gold--it forbade wealth to be spent, in order that wealth
might be hoarded; every man seems to have desired gold precisely
because he could make very little use of it!  From the king to the
Helot [143], the spirit of covetousness spread like a disease.  No
state in Greece was so open to bribery--no magistracy so corrupt as
the ephors.  Sparta became a nation of misers precisely because it
could not become a nation of spendthrifts.  Such are the results which
man produces when his legislation deposes nature!

X.  In their domestic life the Spartans, like the rest of the Greeks,
had but little pleasure in the society of their wives.  At first the
young husband only visited his bride by stealth--to be seen in company
with her was a disgrace.  But the women enjoyed a much greater freedom
and received a higher respect in Sparta than elsewhere; the soft
Asiatic distinctions in dignity between the respective sexes did not
reach the hardy mountaineers of Lacedaemon; the wife was the mother of
men!  Brought up in robust habits, accustomed to athletic exercises,
her person exposed in public processions and dances, which, but for
the custom that made decorous even indecency itself, would have been
indeed licentious, the Spartan maiden, strong, hardy, and half a
partaker in the ceremonies of public life, shared the habits, aided
the emulation, imbibed the patriotism, of her future consort.  And, by
her sympathy with his habits and pursuits, she obtained an influence
and ascendency over him which was unknown in the rest of Greece.
Dignified on public occasions, the Spartan matron was deemed, however,
a virago in private life; and she who had no sorrow for a slaughtered
son, had very little deference for a living husband.  Her obedience to
her spouse appears to have been the most cheerfully rendered upon
those delicate emergencies when the service of the state required her
submission to the embraces of another! [144]

XI.  We now come to the most melancholy and gloomy part of the Spartan
system--the condition of the Helots.

The whole fabric of the Spartan character rested upon slavery.  If it
were beneath a Spartan to labour--to maintain himself--to cultivate
land--to build a house--to exercise an art;--to do aught else than to
fight an enemy--to choose an ephor--to pass from the chase or the
palaestra to the public tables--to live a hero in war--an aristocrat
in peace,--it was clearly a supreme necessity to his very existence as
a citizen, and even as a human being, that there should be a
subordinate class of persons employed in the occupations rejected by
himself, and engaged in providing for the wants of this privileged
citizen.  Without Helots the Spartan was the most helpless of human
beings.  Slavery taken from the Spartan state, the state would fall at
once!  It is no wonder, therefore, that this institution should have
been guarded with an extraordinary jealousy--nor that extraordinary
jealousy should have produced extraordinary harshness.  It is exactly
in proportion to the fear of losing power that men are generally
tyrannical in the exercise of it.  Nor is it from cruelty of
disposition, but from the anxious curse of living among men whom
social circumstances make his enemies because his slaves, that a
despot usually grows ferocious, and that the urgings of suspicion
create the reign of terror.  Besides the political necessity of a
strict and unrelaxed slavery, a Spartan would also be callous to the
sufferings, from his contempt for the degradation, of the slave; as he
despised the employments abandoned to the Helot, even so would he
despise the wretch that exercised them.  Thus the motives that render
power most intolerant combined in the Spartan in his relations to the
Helot--viz., 1st, necessity for his services, lost perhaps if the curb
were ever relaxed--2dly, consummate contempt for the individual he
debased.  The habit of tyranny makes tyranny necessary.  When the
slave has been long maddened by your yoke, if you lighten it for a
moment he rebels.  He has become your deadliest foe, and
self-preservation renders it necessary that him whom you provoke to
vengeance you should crush to impotence.  The longer, therefore, the
Spartan government endured, the more cruel became the condition of the
Helots.  Not in Sparta were those fine distinctions of rank which
exist where slavery is unknown, binding class with class by ties of
mutual sympathy and dependance--so that Poverty itself may be a
benefactor to Destitution.  Even among the poor the Helot had no
brotherhood! he was as necessary to the meanest as to the highest
Spartan--his wrongs gave its very existence to the commonwealth.  We
cannot, then, wonder at the extreme barbarity with which the Spartans
treated this miserable race; and we can even find something of excuse
for a cruelty which became at last the instinct of self-preservation.
Revolt and massacre were perpetually before a Spartan’s eyes; and what
man will be gentle and unsuspecting to those who wait only the moment
to murder him?

XII.  The origin of the Helot race is not clearly ascertained: the
popular notion that they were the descendants of the inhabitants of
Helos, a maritime town subdued by the Spartans, and that they were
degraded to servitude after a revolt, is by no means a conclusive
account.  Whether, as Mueller suggests, they were the original slave
population of the Achaeans, or whether, as the ancient authorities
held, they were such of the Achaeans themselves as had most
obstinately resisted the Spartan sword, and had at last surrendered
without conditions, is a matter it is now impossible to determine.
For my own part, I incline to the former supposition, partly because
of the wide distinction between the enslaved Helots and the (merely)
inferior Perioeci, who were certainly Achaeans; a distinction which I
do not think the different manner in which the two classes were
originally subdued would suffice to account for; partly because I
doubt whether the handful of Dorians who first fixed their dangerous
settlement in Laconia could have effectually subjugated the Helots, if
the latter had not previously been inured to slavery.  The objection
to this hypothesis--that the Helots could scarcely have so hated the
Spartans if they had merely changed masters, does not appear to me
very cogent.  Under the mild and paternal chiefs of the Homeric age
[145], they might have been subjected to a much gentler servitude.
Accustomed to the manners and habits of their Achaean lords, they
might have half forgotten their condition; and though governed by
Spartans in the same external relations, it was in a very different
spirit.  The sovereign contempt with which the Spartans regarded the
Helots, they would scarcely have felt for a tribe distinguished from
the more honoured Perioeci only by a sterner valour and a greater
regard for freedom; while that contempt is easily accounted for, if
its objects were the previously subdued population of a country the
Spartans themselves subdued.

The Helots were considered the property of the state--but they were
intrusted and leased, as it were, to individuals; they were bound to
the soil; even the state did not arrogate the power of selling them
out of the country; they paid to their masters a rent in corn--the
surplus profits were their own.  It was easier for a Helot than for a
Spartan to acquire riches--but riches were yet more useless to him.
Some of the Helots attended their masters at the public tables, and
others were employed in all public works: they served in the field as
light-armed troops: they were occasionally emancipated, but there were
several intermediate grades between the Helot and the freeman; their
nominal duties were gentle indeed when compared with the spirit in
which they were regarded and the treatment they received.  That much
exaggeration respecting the barbarity of their masters existed is
probable enough; but the exaggeration itself, among writers accustomed
to the institution of slavery elsewhere, and by no means addicted to
an overstrained humanity, is a proof of the manner in which the
treatment of the Helots was viewed by the more gentle slave-masters of
the rest of Greece.  They were branded with ineffaceable dishonour: no
Helot might sing a Spartan song; if he but touched what belonged to a
Spartan it was profaned--he was the Pariah of Greece.  The ephors--the
popular magistrates--the guardians of freedom--are reported by
Aristotle to have entered office in making a formal declaration of war
against the Helots--probably but an idle ceremony of disdain and
insult.  We cannot believe with Plutarch, that the infamous cryptia
was instituted for the purpose he assigns--viz., that it was an
ambuscade of the Spartan youths, who dispersed themselves through the
country, and by night murdered whomsoever of the Helots they could
meet.  But it is certain that a select portion of the younger Spartans
ranged the country yearly, armed with daggers, and that with the
object of attaining familiarity with military hardships was associated
that of strict, stern, and secret surveillance over the Helot
population.  No Helot, perhaps, was murdered from mere wantonness; but
who does not see how many would necessarily have been butchered at the
slightest suspicion of disaffection, or for the faintest utility of
example?  These miserable men were the objects of compassion to all
Greece.  “It was the common opinion,” says Aelian, “that the
earthquake in Sparta was a judgment from the gods upon the Spartan
inhumanity to the Helots.”  And perhaps in all history (not even
excepting that awful calmness with which the Italian historians
narrate the cruelties of a Paduan tyrant or a Venetian oligarchy)
there is no record of crime more thrilling than that dark and terrible
passage in Thucydides which relates how two thousand Helots, the best
and bravest of their tribe, were selected as for reward and freedom,
how they were led to the temples in thanksgiving to the gods--and how
they disappeared, their fate notorious--the manner of it a mystery!

XIII.  Besides the Helots, the Spartans exercised an authority over
the intermediate class called the Perioeci.  These were indubitably
the old Achaean race, who had been reduced, not to slavery, but to
dependance.  They retained possession of their own towns, estimated in
number, after the entire conquest of Messenia, at one hundred.  They
had their own different grades and classes, as the Saxons retained
theirs after the conquest of the Normans.  Among these were the
traders and manufacturers of Laconia; and thus whatever art attained
of excellence in the dominions of Sparta was not Spartan but Achaean.
They served in the army, sometimes as heavy-armed, sometimes as
light-armed soldiery, according to their rank or callings; and one of
the Perioeci obtained the command at sea.  They appear, indeed, to have
been universally acknowledged throughout Greece as free citizens, yet
dependant subjects.  But the Spartans jealously and sternly maintained
the distinction between exemption from the servitude of a Helot, and
participation in the rights of a Dorian: the Helot lost his personal
liberty--the Perioecus his political.

XIV.  The free or purely Spartan population (as not improbably with
every Doric state) was divided into three generic tribes--the Hyllean,
the Dymanatan, and the Pamphylian: of these the Hyllean (the reputed
descendants of the son of Hercules) gave to Sparta both her kings.
Besides these tribes of blood or race, there were also five local
tribes, which formed the constituency of the ephors, and thirty
subdivisions called obes--according to which the more aristocratic
offices appear to have been elected.  There were also recognised in
the Spartan constitution two distinct classes--the Equals and the
Inferiors.  Though these were hereditary divisions, merit might
promote a member of the last--demerit degrade a member of the first.
The Inferiors, though not boasting the nobility of the Equals, often
possessed men equally honoured and powerful: as among the commoners of
England are sometimes found persons of higher birth and more important
station than among the peers--(a term somewhat synonymous with that
of Equal.)  But the higher class enjoyed certain privileges which we
can but obscurely trace [146].  Forming an assembly among themselves,
it may be that they alone elected to the senate; and perhaps they were
also distinguished by some peculiarities of education--an assertion
made by Mr. Mueller, but not to my mind sufficiently established.
With respect to the origin of this distinction between the Inferiors
and the Equals, my own belief is, that it took place at some period
(possibly during the Messenian wars) when the necessities of a failing
population induced the Spartans to increase their number by the
admixture either of strangers, but (as that hypothesis is scarce
agreeable to Spartan manners) more probably of the Perioeci; the new
citizens would thus be the Inferiors.  Among the Greek settlements in
Italy, it was by no means uncommon for a colony, once sufficiently
established, only to admit new settlers even from the parent state
upon inferior terms; and in like manner in Venice arose the
distinction between the gentlemen and the citizens; for when to that
sea-girt state many flocked for security and refuge, it seemed but
just to give to the prior inhabitants the distinction of hosts, and to
consider the immigrators as guests;--to the first a share in the
administration and a superior dignity--to the last only shelter and

XV.  Such are the general outlines of the state and constitution of
Sparta--the firmest aristocracy that perhaps ever existed, for it was
an aristocracy on the widest base.  If some Spartans were noble, every
Spartan boasted himself gentle.  His birth forbade him to work, and
his only profession was the sword.  The difference between the meanest
Spartan and his king was not so great as that between a Spartan and a
Perioecus.  Not only the servitude of the Helots, but the subjection
of the Perioeci, perpetually nourished the pride of the superior race;
and to be born a Spartan was to be born to power.  The sense of
superiority and the habit of command impart a certain elevation to the
manner and the bearing.  There was probably more of dignity in the
poorest Spartan citizen than in the wealthiest noble of Corinth--the
most voluptuous courtier of Syracuse.  And thus the reserve, the
decorum, the stately simplicity of the Spartan mien could not but
impose upon the imagination of the other Greeks, and obtain the credit
for correspondent qualities which did not always exist beneath that
lofty exterior.  To lively nations, affected by externals, there was
much in that sedate majesty of demeanour; to gallant nations, much in
that heroic valour; to superstitious nations, much in that proverbial
regard to religious rites, which characterized the Spartan race.
Declaimers on luxury admired their simplicity--the sufferers from
innovation, their adherence to ancient manners.  Many a victim of the
turbulence of party in Athens sighed for the repose of the
Lacedaemonian city; and as we always exaggerate the particular evils
we endure, and admire most blindly the circumstances most opposite to
those by which we are affected, so it was often the fashion of more
intellectual states to extol the institutions of which they saw only
from afar and through a glass the apparent benefits, without examining
the concomitant defects.  An Athenian might laud the Spartan
austerity, as Tacitus might laud the German barbarism; it was the
panegyric of rhetoric and satire, of wounded patriotism or
disappointed ambition.  Although the ephors made the government really
and latently democratic, yet the concentration of its action made it
seemingly oligarchic; and in its secrecy, caution, vigilance, and
energy, it exhibited the best of the oligarchic features.  Whatever
was democratic by law was counteracted in its results by all that was
aristocratic in custom.  It was a state of political freedom, but of
social despotism.  This rigidity of ancient usages was binding long
after its utility was past.  For what was admirable at one time became
pernicious at another; what protected the infant state from
dissension, stinted all luxuriance of intellect in the more matured
community.  It is in vain that modern writers have attempted to deny
this fact--the proof is before us.  By her valour Sparta was long the
most eminent state of the most intellectual of all countries; and when
we ask what she has bequeathed to mankind--what she has left us in
rivalry to that Athens, whose poetry yet animates, whose philosophy
yet guides, whose arts yet inspire the world--we find only the names
of two or three minor poets, whose works have perished, and some half
a dozen pages of pithy aphorisms and pointed repartees!

XVI.  My object in the above sketch has been to give a general outline
of the Spartan character and the Spartan system during the earlier and
more brilliant era of Athenian history, without entering into
unnecessary conjectures as to the precise period of each law and each
change.  The social and political state of Sparta became fixed by her
conquest of Messenia.  It is not within the plan of my undertaking to
retail at length the legendary and for the most part fabulous accounts
of the first and second Messenian wars.  The first was dignified by
the fate of the Messenian hero Aristodemus, and the fall of the rocky
fortress of Ithome; its result was the conquest of Messenia (probably
begun 743 B. C., ended 723); the inhabitants were compelled to an oath
of submission, and to surrender to Sparta half their agricultural
produce.  After the first Messenian war, Tarentum was founded by a
Spartan colony, composed, it is said, of youths [147], the offspring
of Spartan women and Laconian men, who were dissatisfied with their
exclusion from citizenship, and by whom the state was menaced with a
formidable conspiracy shared by the Helots.  Meanwhile, the
Messenians, if conquered, were not subdued.  Years rolled away, and
time had effaced the remembrance of the past sufferings, but not of
the ancient [148] liberties.

It was among the youth of Messenia that the hope of the national
deliverance was the most intensely cherished.  At length, in Andania,
the revolt broke forth.  A young man, pre-eminent above the rest for
birth, for valour, and for genius, was the head and the soul of the
enterprise (probably B. C. 679).  His name was Aristomenes.  Forming
secret alliances with the Argives and Arcadians, he at length ventured
to raise his standard, and encountered at Dera, on their own domains,
the Spartan force.  The issue of the battle was indecisive; still,
however, it seems to have seriously aroused the fears of Sparta: no
further hostilities took place till the following year; the oracle at
Delphi was solemnly consulted, and the god ordained the Spartans to
seek their adviser in an Athenian.  They sent to Athens and obtained
Tyrtaeus.  A popular but fabulous account [149] describes him as a
lame teacher of grammar, and of no previous repute.  His songs and his
exhortations are said to have produced almost miraculous effects.  I
omit the romantic adventures of the hero Aristomenes, though it may be
doubted whether all Grecian history can furnish passages that surpass
the poetry of his reputed life.  I leave the reader to learn elsewhere
how he hung at night a shield in the temple of Chalcioecus, in the
very city of the foe, with the inscription, that Aristomenes dedicated
to the goddess that shield from the spoils of the Spartans--how he
penetrated the secret recesses of Trophonius--how he was deterred from
entering Sparta by the spectres of Helen and the Dioscuri--how, taken
prisoner in an attempt to seize the women of Aegila, he was released
by the love of the priestess of Ceres--how, again made captive, and
cast into a deep pit with fifty of his men, he escaped by seizing hold
of a fox (attracted thither by the dead bodies), and suffering himself
to be drawn by her through dark and scarce pervious places to a hole
that led to the upper air.  These adventures, and others equally
romantic, I must leave to the genius of more credulous historians.

All that seems to me worthy of belief is, that after stern but
unavailing struggles, the Messenians abandoned Andania, and took their
last desperate station at Ira, a mountain at whose feet flows the
river Neda, separating Messenia from Triphylia.  Here, fortified alike
by art and nature, they sustained a siege of eleven years.  But with
the eleventh the term of their resistance was completed.  The slave of
a Spartan of rank had succeeded in engaging the affections of a
Messenian woman who dwelt without the walls of the mountain fortress.
One night the guilty pair were at the house of the adulteress--the
husband abruptly returned--the slave was concealed, and overheard
that, in consequence of a violent and sudden storm, the Messenian
guard had deserted the citadel, not fearing attack from the foe on so
tempestuous a night, and not anticipating the inspection of
Aristomenes, who at that time was suffering from a wound.  The slave
overheard--escaped--reached the Spartan camp--apprized his master
Emperamus (who, in the absence of the kings, headed the troops) of the
desertion of the guard:--an assault was agreed on: despite the
darkness of the night, despite the violence of the rain, the Spartans
marched on:--scaled the fortifications:--were within the walls.  The
fulfilment of dark prophecies had already portended the fate of the
besieged; and now the very howling of the dogs in a strange and
unwonted manner was deemed a prodigy.  Alarmed, aroused, the
Messenians betook themselves to the nearest weapons within their
reach.  Aristomenes, his son Gorgus, Theoclus, the guardian prophet of
his tribe (whose valour was equal to his science), were among the
first to perceive the danger.  Night passed in tumult and disorder.
Day dawned, but rather to terrify than encourage--the storm increased
--the thunder burst--the lightning glared.  What dismayed the besieged
encouraged the besiegers.  Still, with all the fury of despair, the
Messenians fought on: the very women took part in the contest; death
was preferable, even in their eyes, to slavery and dishonour.  But the
Spartans were far superior in number, and, by continual reliefs, the
fresh succeeded to the weary.  In arms for three days and three nights
without respite, worn out with watching, with the rage of the
elements, with cold, with hunger, and with thirst, no hope remained
for the Messenians: the bold prophet declared to Aristomenes that the
gods had decreed the fall of Messene, that the warning oracles were
fulfilled.  “Preserve,” he cried, “what remain of your forces--save
yourselves.  Me the gods impel to fall with my country!”  Thus saying,
the soothsayer rushed on the enemy, and fell at last covered with
wounds and satiated with the slaughter himself had made.  Aristomenes
called the Messenians round him; the women and the children were
placed in the centre of the band, guarded by his own son and that of
the prophet.  Heading the troop himself, he rushed on the foe, and by
his gestures and the shaking of his spear announced his intention to
force a passage, and effect escape.  Unwilling yet more to exasperate
men urged to despair, the Spartans made way for the rest of the
besieged.  So fell Ira! (probably B. C. 662). [150]  The brave
Messenians escaped to Mount Lyceum in Arcadia, and afterward the
greater part, invited by Anaxilaus, their own countryman, prince of
the Dorian colony at Rhegium in Italy, conquered with him the
Zanclaeans of Sicily, and named the conquered town Messene.  It still
preserves the name [151].  But Aristomenes, retaining indomitable
hatred to Sparta, refused to join the colony.  Yet hoping a day of
retribution, he went to Delphi.  What counsel he there received is
unrecorded.  But the deity ordained to Damagetes, prince of Jalysus in
Rhodes, to marry the daughter of the best man of Greece.  Such a man
the prince esteemed the hero of the Messenians, and wedded the third
daughter of Aristomenes.  Still bent on designs against the destroyers
of his country, the patriot warrior repaired to Rhodes, where death
delivered the Spartans from the terror of his revenge.  A monument was
raised to his memory, and that memory, distinguished by public
honours, long made the boast of the Messenians, whether those in
distant exile, or those subjected to the Spartan yoke.  Thus ended the
second Messenian war.  Such of the Messenians as had not abandoned
their country were reduced to Helotism.  The Spartan territory
extended, and the Spartan power secured, that haughty state rose
slowly to pre-eminence over the rest of Greece; and preserved, amid
the advancing civilization and refinement of her neighbours, the stern
and awing likeness of the heroic age:--In the mountains of the
Peloponnesus, the polished and luxurious Greeks beheld, retained from
change as by a spell, the iron images of their Homeric ancestry!


Governments in Greece.

I.  The return of the Heraclidae occasioned consequences of which the
most important were the least immediate.  Whenever the Dorians forced
a settlement, they dislodged such of the previous inhabitants as
refused to succumb.  Driven elsewhere to seek a home, the exiles found
it often in yet fairer climes, and along more fertile soils.  The
example of these involuntary migrators became imitated wherever
discontent prevailed or population was redundant: and hence, as I have
already recorded, first arose those numerous colonies, which along the
Asiatic shores, in the Grecian isles, on the plains of Italy, and even
in Libya and in Egypt, were destined to give, as it were, a second
youth to the parent states.

II.  The ancient Greek constitution was that of an aristocracy, with a
prince at the head.  Suppose a certain number of men, thus governed,
to be expelled their native soil, united by a common danger and common
suffering, to land on a foreign shore, to fix themselves with pain and
labour in a new settlement--it is quite clear that a popular principle
would insensibly have entered the forms of the constitution they
transplanted.  In the first place, the power of the prince would be
more circumscribed--in the next place, the free spirit of the
aristocracy would be more diffused: the first, because the authority
of the chief would rarely be derived from royal ancestry, or hallowed
by prescriptive privilege; in most cases he was but a noble, selected
from the ranks, and crippled by the jealousies, of his order: the
second, because all who shared in the enterprise would in one respect
rise at once to an aristocracy--they would be distinguished from the
population of the state they colonized.  Misfortune, sympathy, and
change would also contribute to sweep away many demarcations; and
authority was transmuted from a birthright into a trust, the moment it
was withdrawn from the shelter of ancient custom, and made the gift of
the living rather than a heritage from the dead.  It was probable,
too, that many of such colonies were founded by men, among whom was
but little disparity of rank: this would be especially the case with
those which were the overflow of a redundant population; the great and
the wealthy are never redundant!--the mass would thus ordinarily be
composed of the discontented and the poor, and even where the
aristocratic leaven was most strong, it was still the aristocracy of
some defeated and humbled faction.  So that in the average equality of
the emigrators were the seeds of a new constitution; and if they
transplanted the form of monarchy, it already contained the genius of
republicanism.  Hence, colonies in the ancient, as in the modern
world, advanced by giant strides towards popular principles.
Maintaining a constant intercourse with their father-land, their own
constitutions became familiar and tempting to the population of the
countries they had abandoned; and much of whatsoever advantages were
derived from the soil they selected, and the commerce they found
within their reach, was readily attributed only to their more popular
constitutions; as, at this day, we find American prosperity held out
to our example, not as the result of local circumstances, but as the
creature of political institutions.

One principal cause of the republican forms of government that began
(as, after the Dorian migration, the different tribes became settled
in those seats by which they are historically known) to spread
throughout Greece, was, therefore, the establishment of colonies
retaining constant intercourse with the parent states.  A second cause
is to be found in the elements of the previous constitutions of the
Grecian states themselves, and the political principles which existed
universally, even in the heroic ages: so that, in fact, the change
from monarchy to republicanism was much less violent than at the first
glance it would seem to our modern notions.  The ancient kings, as
described by Homer, possessed but a limited authority, like that of
the Spartan kings--extensive in war, narrow in peace.  It was
evidently considered that the source of their authority was in the
people.  No notion seems to have been more universal among the Greeks
than that it was for the community that all power was to be exercised.
In Homer’s time popular assemblies existed, and claimed the right of
conferring privileges on rank.  The nobles were ever jealous of the
prerogative of the prince, and ever encroaching on his accidental
weakness.  In his sickness, his age, or his absence, the power of the
state seems to have been wrested from his hands--the prey of the
chiefs, or the dispute of contending factions.  Nor was there in
Greece that chivalric fealty to a person which characterizes the
North.  From the earliest times it was not the MONARCH, that called
forth the virtue of devotion, and inspired the enthusiasm of loyalty.
Thus, in the limited prerogative of royalty, in the jealousy of the
chiefs, in the right of popular assemblies, and, above all, in the
silent and unconscious spirit of political theory, we may recognise in
the early monarchies of Greece the germes of their inevitable
dissolution.  Another cause was in that singular separation of tribes,
speaking a common language, and belonging to a common race, which
characterized the Greeks.  Instead of overrunning a territory in one
vast irruption, each section seized a small district, built a city,
and formed an independent people.  Thus, in fact, the Hellenic
governments were not those of a country, but of a town; and the words
“state” and “city” were synonymous [152].  Municipal constitutions, in
their very nature, are ever more or less republican; and, as in the
Italian states, the corporation had only to shake off some power
unconnected with, or hostile to it, to rise into a republic.  To this
it may be added, that the true republican spirit is more easily
established among mountain tribes imperfectly civilized, and yet fresh
from the wildness of the natural life, than among old states, where
luxury leaves indeed the desire, but has enervated the power of
liberty, “as the marble from the quarry may be more readily wrought
into the statue, than that on which the hand of the workman has
already been employed.” [153]

III.  If the change from monarchy to republicanism was not very
violent in itself, it appears to have been yet more smoothed away by
gradual preparations.  Monarchy was not abolished, it declined.  The
direct line was broken, or some other excuse occurred for exchanging
an hereditary for an elective monarchy; then the period of power
became shortened, and from monarchy for life it was monarchy only for
a certain number of years: in most cases the name too (and how much is
there in names!) was changed, and the title of ruler or magistrate
substituted for that of king.

Thus, by no sudden leap of mind, by no vehement and short-lived
revolutions, but gradually, insensibly, and permanently, monarchy
ceased--a fashion, as it were, worn out and obsolete--and
republicanism succeeded.  But this republicanism at first was probably
in no instance purely democratic.  It was the chiefs who were the
visible agents in the encroachments on the monarchic power--it was an
aristocracy that succeeded monarchy.  Sometimes this aristocracy was
exceedingly limited in number, or the governing power was usurped by a
particular faction or pre-eminent families; then it was called an
OLIGARCHY.  And this form of aristocracy appears generally to have
been the most immediate successor to royalty.  “The first polity,”
 says Aristotle [154], “that was established in Greece after the lapse
of monarchies, was that of the members of the military class, and
those wholly horsemen,” . . . . . “such republics, though called
democracies, had a strong tendency to oligarchy, and even to royalty.”
 [155]  But the spirit of change still progressed: whether they were
few or many, the aristocratic governors could not fail to open the
door to further innovations.  For, if many, they were subjected to
dissensions among themselves--if few, they created odium in all who
were excluded from power.  Thus fell the oligarchies of Marseilles,
Ister, and Heraclea.  In the one case they were weakened by their own
jealousies, in the other by the jealousies of their rivals.  The
progress of civilization and the growing habits of commerce gradually
introduced a medium between the populace and the chiefs.  The MIDDLE
CLASS slowly rose, and with it rose the desire of extended liberties
and equal laws. [156]

IV.  Now then appeared the class of DEMAGOGUES.  The people had been
accustomed to change.  They had been led against monarchy, and found
they had only resigned the one master to obtain the many:--A demagogue
arose, sometimes one of their own order, more often a dissatisfied,
ambitious, or empoverished noble.  For they who have wasted their
patrimony, as the Stagirite shrewdly observes, are great promoters of
innovation!  Party ran high--the state became divided--passions were
aroused--and the popular leader became the popular idol.  His life was
probably often in danger from the resentment of the nobles, and it was
always easy to assert that it was so endangered.--He obtained a guard
to protect him, conciliated the soldiers, seized the citadel, and rose
at once from the head of the populace to the ruler of the state.  Such
was the common history of the tyrants of Greece, who never supplanted
the kingly sway (unless in the earlier ages, when, born to a limited
monarchy, they extended their privileges beyond the law, as Pheidon of
Argos), but nearly always aristocracies or oligarchies [157].  I need
scarcely observe that the word “tyrant” was of very different
signification in ancient times from that which it bears at present.
It more nearly corresponded to our word “usurper,” and denoted one
who, by illegitimate means, whether of art or force, had usurped the
supreme authority.  A tyrant might be mild or cruel, the father of the
people, or their oppressor; he still preserved the name, and it was
transmitted to his children.  The merits of this race of rulers, and
the unconscious benefits they produced, have not been justly
appreciated, either by ancient or modern historians.  Without her
tyrants, Greece might never have established her democracies.  As may
be readily supposed, the man who, against powerful enemies, often from
a low origin and with empoverished fortunes, had succeeded in
ascending a throne, was usually possessed of no ordinary abilities.
It was almost vitally necessary for him to devote those abilities to
the cause and interests of the people.  Their favour had alone raised
him--numerous foes still surrounded him--it was on the people alone
that he could depend.

The wiser and more celebrated tyrants were characterized by an extreme
modesty of deportment--they assumed no extraordinary pomp, no lofty
titles--they left untouched, or rendered yet more popular, the outward
forms and institutions of the government--they were not exacting in
taxation--they affected to link themselves with the lowest orders, and
their ascendency was usually productive of immediate benefit to the
working classes, whom they employed in new fortifications or new
public buildings; dazzling the citizens by a splendour that seemed
less the ostentation of an individual than the prosperity of a state.
But the aristocracy still remained their enemies, and it was against
them, not against the people, that they directed their acute
sagacities and unsparing energies.  Every more politic tyrant was a
Louis the Eleventh, weakening the nobles, creating a middle class.  He
effected his former object by violent and unscrupulous means.  He
swept away by death or banishment all who opposed his authority or
excited his fears.  He thus left nothing between the state and a
democracy but himself; himself removed, democracy ensued naturally and
of course.  There are times in the history of all nations when liberty
is best promoted--when civilization is most rapidly expedited--when
the arts are most luxuriantly nourished by a strict concentration of
power in the hands of an individual--and when the despot is but the
representative of the popular will [158].  At such times did the
tyrannies in Greece mostly flourish, and they may almost be said to
cease with the necessity which called them forth.  The energy of these
masters of a revolution opened the intercourse with other states;
their interests extended commerce; their policy broke up the sullen
barriers of oligarchical prejudice and custom; their fears found
perpetual vent for the industry of a population whom they dreaded to
leave in indolence; their genius appreciated the arts--their vanity
fostered them.  Thus they interrupted the course of liberty only to
improve, to concentre, to advance its results.  Their dynasty never
lasted long; the oldest tyranny in Greece endured but a hundred years
[159]--so enduring only from its mildness.  The son of the tyrant
rarely inherited his father’s sagacity and talents: he sought to
strengthen his power by severity; discontent ensued, and his fall was
sudden and complete.  Usually, then, such of the aristocracy as had
been banished were recalled, but not invested with their former
privileges.  The constitution became more or less democratic.  It is
true that Sparta, who lent her powerful aid in destroying tyrannies,
aimed at replacing them by oligarchies--but the effort seldom produced
a permanent result: the more the aristocracy was narrowed, the more
certain was its fall.  If the middle class were powerful--if commerce
thrived in the state--the former aristocracy of birth was soon
succeeded by an aristocracy of property (called a timocracy), and this
was in its nature certain of democratic advances.  The moment you
widen the suffrage, you may date the commencement of universal
suffrage.  He who enjoys certain advantages from the possession of ten
acres, will excite a party against him in those who have nine; and the
arguments that had been used for the franchise of the one are equally
valid for the franchise of the other.  Limitations of power by
property are barriers against a tide which perpetually advances.
Timocracy, therefore, almost invariably paved the way to democracy.
But still the old aristocratic faction, constantly invaded, remained
powerful, stubborn, and resisting, and there was scarcely a state in
Greece that did not contain the two parties which we find to-day in
England, and in all free states--the party of the movement to the
future, and the party of recurrence to the past; I say the past, for
in politics there is no present!  Wherever party exists, if the one
desire fresh innovations, so the other secretly wishes not to preserve
what remains, but to restore what has been.  This fact it is necessary
always to bear in mind in examining the political contests of the
Athenians.  For in most of their domestic convulsions we find the
cause in the efforts of the anti-popular party less to resist new
encroachments than to revive departed institutions.  But though in
most of the Grecian states were two distinct orders, and the
Eupatrids, or “Well-born,” were a class distinct from, and superior
to, that of the commonalty, we should err in supposing that the
separate orders made the great political divisions.  As in England the
more ancient of the nobles are often found in the popular ranks, so in
the Grecian states many of the Eupatrids headed the democratic party.
And this division among themselves, while it weakened the power of the
well-born, contributed to prevent any deadly or ferocious revolutions:
for it served greatly to soften the excesses of the predominant
faction, and every collision found mediators between the contending
parties in some who were at once friends of the people and members of
the nobility.  Nor should it be forgotten that the triumph of the
popular party was always more moderate than that of the antagonist
faction--as the history of Athens will hereafter prove.

V.  The legal constitutions of Greece were four--Monarchy, Oligarchy,
Aristocracy, and Democracy; the illegal, was Tyranny in a twofold
shape, viz., whether it consisted in an usurped monarchy or an usurped
oligarchy.  Thus the oligarchy of the Thirty in Athens was no less a
tyranny than the single government of Pisistratus.  Even democracy had
its illegal or corrupt form--in OCHLOCRACY or mob rule; for democracy
did not signify the rule of the lower orders alone, but of all the
people--the highest as the lowest.  If the highest became by law
excluded--if the populace confined the legislative and executive
authorities to their own order--then democracy, or the government of a
whole people, virtually ceased, and became the government of a part of
the people--a form equally unjust and illegitimate--equally an abuse
in itself, whether the dominant and exclusive portion were the nobles
or the mechanics.  Thus in modern yet analogous history, when the
middle class of Florence expelled the nobles from any share of the
government, they established a monopoly under the name of liberty; and
the resistance of the nobles was the lawful struggle of patriots and
of freemen for an inalienable privilege and a natural right.

VI.  We should remove some very important prejudices from our minds,
if we could once subscribe to a fact plain in itself, but which the
contests of modern party have utterly obscured--that in the mere forms
of their government, the Greek republics cannot fairly be pressed into
the service of those who in existing times would attest the evils, or
proclaim the benefits, of constitutions purely democratic.  In the
first place, they were not democracies, even in their most democratic
shape:--the vast majority of the working classes were the enslaved
population.  And, therefore, to increase the popular tendencies of the
republic was, in fact, only to increase the liberties of the few.  We
may fairly doubt whether the worst evils of the ancient republics, in
the separation of ranks, and the war between rich and poor, were not
the necessary results of slavery.  We may doubt, with equal
probability, whether much of the lofty spirit, and the universal
passion for public affairs, whence emanated the enterprise, the
competition, the patriotism, and the glory of the ancient cities,
could have existed without a subordinate race to carry on the
drudgeries of daily life.  It is clear, also, that much of the
intellectual greatness of the several states arose from the exceeding
smallness of their territories--the concentration of internal power,
and the perpetual emulation with neighbouring and kindred states
nearly equal in civilization; it is clear, too, that much of the
vicious parts of their character, and yet much of their more
brilliant, arose from the absence of the PRESS.  Their intellectual
state was that of men talked to, not written to.  Their imagination
was perpetually called forth--their deliberative reason rarely;--they
were the fitting audience for an orator, whose art is effective in
proportion to the impulse and the passion of those he addresses.  Nor
must it be forgotten that the representative system, which is the
proper conductor of the democratic action, if not wholly unknown to
the Greeks [160], and if unconsciously practised in the Spartan
ephoralty, was at least never existent in the more democratic states.
And assemblies of the whole people are compatible only with those
small nations of which the city is the country.  Thus, it would be
impossible for us to propose the abstract constitution of any ancient
state as a warning or an example to modern countries which possess
territories large in extent--which subsist without a slave population
--which substitute representative councils for popular assemblies--and
which direct the intellectual tastes and political habits of a people,
not by oratory and conversation, but through the more calm and
dispassionate medium of the press.  This principle settled, it may
perhaps be generally conceded, that on comparing the democracies of
Greece with all other contemporary forms of government, we find them
the most favourable to mental cultivation--not more exposed than
others to internal revolutions--usually, in fact, more durable,--more
mild and civilized in their laws--and that the worst tyranny of the
Demus, whether at home or abroad, never equalled that of an oligarchy
or a single ruler.  That in which the ancient republics are properly
models to us, consists not in the form, but the spirit of their
legislation.  They teach us that patriotism is most promoted by
bringing all classes into public and constant intercourse--that
intellect is most luxuriant wherever the competition is widest and
most unfettered--and that legislators can create no rewards and invent
no penalties equal to those which are silently engendered by society
itself--while it maintains, elaborated into a system, the desire of
glory and the dread of shame.


Brief Survey of Arts, Letters, and Philosophy in Greece, prior to the
Legislation of Solon.

I.  Before concluding this introductory portion of my work, it will be
necessary to take a brief survey of the intellectual state of Greece
prior to that wonderful era of Athenian greatness which commenced with
the laws of Solon.  At this period the continental states of Greece
had produced little in that literature which is now the heirloom of
the world.  Whether under her monarchy, or the oligarchical
constitution that succeeded it, the depressed and languid genius of
Athens had given no earnest of the triumphs she was afterward destined
to accomplish.  Her literature began, though it cannot be said to have
ceased, with her democracy.  The solitary and doubtful claim of the
birth--but not the song--of Tyrtaeus (fl. B. C. 683), is the highest
literary honour to which the earlier age of Attica can pretend; and
many of the Dorian states--even Sparta itself--appear to have been
more prolific in poets than the city of Aeschylus and Sophocles.  But
throughout all Greece, from the earliest time, was a general passion
for poetry, however fugitive the poets.  The poems of Homer are the
most ancient of profane writings--but the poems of Homer themselves
attest that they had many, nor ignoble, precursors.  Not only do they
attest it in their very excellence--not only in their reference to
other poets--but in the general manner of life attributed to chiefs
and heroes.  The lyre and the song afford the favourite entertainment
at the banquet [161].  And Achilles, in the interval of his indignant
repose, exchanges the deadly sword for the “silver harp,”

                                 “And sings
    The immortal deeds of heroes and of kings.” [162]

II.  Ample tradition and the internal evidence of the Homeric poems
prove the Iliad at least to have been the composition of an Asiatic
Greek; and though the time in which he flourished is yet warmly
debated, the most plausible chronology places him about the time of
the Ionic migration, or somewhat less than two hundred years after the
Trojan war.  The following lines in the speech of Juno in the fourth
book of the Iliad are supposed by some [163] to allude to the return
of the Heraclidae and the Dorian conquests in the Peloponnesus:--

    “Three towns are Juno’s on the Grecian plains,
     More dear than all th’ extended earth contains--
     Mycenae, Argos, and the Spartan Wall--
     These mayst thou raze, nor I forbid their fall;
     ‘Tis not in me the vengeance to remove;
     The crime’s sufficient that they share my love.” [164]

And it certainly does seem to me that in a reference so distinct to
the three great Peloponnesian cities which the Dorians invaded and
possessed, Homer makes as broad an allusion to the conquests of the
Heraclidae, not only as would be consistent with the pride of an Ionic
Greek in attesting the triumphs of the national Dorian foe, but as the
nature of a theme cast in a distant period, and remarkably removed, in
its general conduct, from the historical detail of subsequent events,
would warrant to the poet [165].  And here I may observe, that if the
date thus assigned to Homer be correct, the very subject of the Iliad
might have been suggested by the consequences of the Dorian irruption.
Homer relates,

    “Achilles’ wrath, to Greece the direful spring
     Of woes unnumbered.”

But Achilles is the native hero of that Thessalian district, which was
the earliest settlement of the Dorian family.  Agamemnon, whose
injuries he resents, is the monarch of the great Achaean race, whose
dynasty and dominion the Dorians are destined to overthrow.  It is
true that at the time of the Trojan war the Dorians had migrated from
Phthiotis to Phocis--it is true that Achilles was not of Dorian
extraction; still there would be an interest attached to the singular
coincidence of place; as, though the English are no descendants from
the Britons, we yet associate the British history with our own: hence
it seems to me, though I believe the conjecture is new, that it is not
the whole Trojan war, but that episode in the Trojan war (otherwise
unimportant) illustrated by the wrath of Achilles, which awakens the
inspiration of the poet.  In fact, if under the exordium of the Iliad
there lurk no typical signification, the exordium is scarce
appropriate to the subject.  For the wrath of Achilles did not bring
upon the Greeks woes more mighty than the ordinary course of war would
have destined them to endure.  But if the Grecian audience (exiles,
and the posterity of exiles), to whom, on Asiatic shores, Homer
recited his poem, associated the hereditary feud of Achilles and
Agamemnon with the strife between the ancient warriors of Phthiotis
and Achaia; then, indeed, the opening lines assume a solemn and
prophetic significance, and their effect must have been electrical
upon a people ever disposed to trace in the mythi of their ancestry
the legacies of a dark and ominous fatality, by which each present
suffering was made the inevitable result of an immemorial cause. [166]

III.  The ancients unanimously believed the Iliad the production of a
single poet; in recent times a contrary opinion has been started; and
in Germany, at this moment, the most fashionable belief is, that that
wonderful poem was but a collection of rhapsodies by various poets,
arranged and organized by Pisistratus and the poets of his day; a
theory a scholar may support, but which no poet could ever have
invented!  For this proposition the principal reasons alleged are
these:--It is asserted as an “indisputable fact,” “that the art of
writing, and the use of manageable writing materials, were entirely,
or all but entirely, unknown in Greece and its islands at the supposed
date of the composition of the Iliad and Odyssey; that, if so, these
poems could not have been committed to writing during the time of such
their composition; that, in a question of comparative probabilities
like this, it is a much grosser improbability that even the single
Iliad, amounting, after all curtailments and expungings, to upwards of
15,000 hexameter lines, should have been actually conceived and
perfected in the brain of one man, with no other help but his own or
others’ memory, than that it should in fact be the result of the
labours of several distinct authors; that if the Odyssey be counted,
the improbability is doubled; that if we add, upon the authority of
Thucydides and Aristotle, the Hymns and Margites, not to say the
Batrachomyomachia, that which was improbable becomes morally
impossible! that all that has been so often said as to the fact of as
many verses or more having been committed to memory, is beside the
point in question, which is not whether 15,000 or 30,000 lines may not
be learned by heart from print or manuscript, but whether one man can
originally compose a poem of that length, which, rightly or not, shall
be thought to be a perfect model of symmetry and consistency of parts,
without the aid of writing materials;--that, admitting the superior
probability of such an achievement in a primitive age, we know nothing
actually similar or analogous to it; and that it so transcends the
common limits of intellectual power, as at the least to merit, with as
much justice as the opposite opinion, the character of improbability.”

And upon such arguments the identity of Homer is to be destroyed!  Let
us pursue them seriatim.

1st.  “The art and the use of manageable writing materials were
entirely, or all but entirely, unknown in Greece and its islands at
the supposed date of the composition of the Iliad and Odyssey.”

The whole argument against the unity of Homer rests upon this
assertion; and yet this assertion it is impossible to prove!  It is
allowed, on the contrary, that alphabetical characters were introduced
in Greece by Cadmus--nay, inscriptions believed by the best
antiquaries to bear date before the Trojan war are found even among
the Pelasgi of Italy.  Dionysius informs us that the Pelasgi first
introduced letters into Italy.  But in answer to this, it is said that
letters were used only for inscriptions on stone or wood, and not for
the preservation of writings so voluminous.  If this were the case, I
scarcely see why the Greeks should have professed so grateful a
reminiscence of the gift of Cadmus, the mere inscription of a few
words on stone would not be so very popular or beneficial an
invention!  But the Phoenicians had constant intercourse with the
Egyptians and Hebrews; among both those nations the art and materials
of writing were known.  The Phoenicians, far more enterprising than
either, must have been fully acquainted with their means of written
communication--and indeed we are assured that they were so.  Now, if a
Phoenician had imparted so much of the art to Greece as the knowledge
of a written alphabet, is it probable that he would have suffered the
communication to cease there!  The Phoenicians were a commercial
people--their colonies in Greece were for commercial purposes,--would
they have wilfully and voluntarily neglected the most convenient mode
of commercial correspondence?--importing just enough of the art to
suffice for inscriptions of no use but to the natives, would they have
stopped short precisely at that point when the art became useful to
themselves?  And in vindicating that most able people from so wilful a
folly, have we no authority in history as well as common sense?  We
have the authority of Herodotus!  When he informs us that the
Phoenicians communicated letters to the Ionians, he adds, that by a
very ancient custom the Ionians called their books diptherae, or
skins, because, at a time when the plant of the bibles or papyrus was
scarce [168], they used instead of it the skins of goats and sheep--a
custom he himself witnessed among barbarous nations.  Were such
materials used only for inscriptions relative to a religious
dedication, or a political compact?  NO; for then, wood or stone--the
temple or the pillar--would have been the material for the
inscription,--they must, then, have been used for a more literary
purpose; and verse was the first form of literature.  I grant that
prior, and indeed long subsequent to the time of Homer, the art of
writing (as with us in the dark ages) would be very partially known--
that in many parts of Greece, especially European Greece, it might
scarcely ever be used but for brief inscriptions.  But that is nothing
to the purpose;--if known at all--to any Ionian trader--even to any
neighbouring Asiatic--even to any Phoenician settler--there is every
reason to suppose that Homer himself, or a contemporary disciple and
reciter of his verses, would have learned both the art and the use of
the materials which could best have ensured the fame of the poet, or
assisted the memory of the reciter.  And, though Plutarch in himself
alone is no authority, he is not to be rejected as a corroborative
testimony when he informs us that Lycurgus collected and transcribed
the poems of Homer; and that writing was then known in Greece is
evident by the very ordinance of Lycurgus that his laws should not be
written.  But Lycurgus is made by Apollodorus contemporary with Homer
himself; and this belief appears, to receive the sanction of the most
laborious and profound of modern chronologers [169].  I might adduce
various other arguments in support of those I have already advanced;
but I have said enough already to show that it is not an “indisputable
fact” that Homer could not have been acquainted with writing
materials; and that the whole battery erected to demolish the fame of
the greatest of human geniuses has been built upon a most uncertain
and unsteady foundation.  It may be impossible to prove that Homer’s
poems were written, but it is equally impossible to prove that they
were not--and if it were necessary for the identity of Homer that his
poems should have been written, that necessity would have been one of
the strongest proofs, not that Homer did not exist, but that writing

But let us now suppose it proved that writing materials for a literary
purpose were unknown, and examine the assertions built upon that

2d.  “That if these poems could not have been committed to writing
during the time of their composition, it is a much grosser
improbability that even the single Iliad, amounting, after all
curtailments and expungings, to upwards of 15,000 hexameter lines,
should have been actually conceived and perfected in the brain of one
man, with no other help but his own or others’ memory, than that it
should, in fact, be the result of the labours of several distinct

I deny this altogether.  “The improbability” might be “grosser” if the
Iliad had been composed in a day!  But if, as any man of common sense
would acknowledge, it was composed in parts or “fyttes” of moderate
length at a time, no extraordinary power of memory, or tension of
thought, would have been required by the poet.  Such parts, once
recited and admired, became known and learned by a hundred
professional bards, and were thus orally published, as it were, in
detached sections, years perhaps before the work was completed.  All
that is said, therefore, about the difficulty of composing so long a
poem without writing materials is but a jargon of words.  Suppose no
writing materials existed, yet, as soon as portions of a few hundred
lines at a time were committed to the memory of other minstrels, the
author would, in those minstrels, have living books whereby to refresh
his memory, and could even, by their help, polish and amend what was
already composed.  It would not then have been necessary for the poet
himself perfectly and verbally to remember the whole work.  He had his
tablets of reference in the hearts and lips of others, and even, if it
were necessary that he himself should retain the entire composition,
the constant habit of recital, the constant exercise of memory, would
render such a task by no means impracticable or unprecedented.  As for
the unity of the poem, thus composed, it would have been, as it is,
the unity, not of technical rules and pedantic criticism, but the
unity of interest, character, imagery, and thought--a unity which
required no written references to maintain it, but which was the
essential quality of one master-mind, and ought to be, to all plain
men, an irrefragable proof that one mind alone conceived and executed
the work.

IV.  So much for the alleged improbability of one author for the
Iliad.  But with what face can these critics talk of “probability,”
 when, in order to get rid of one Homer, they ask us to believe in
twenty!  Can our wildest imagination form more monstrous hypotheses
than these, viz.--that several poets, all possessed of the very
highest order of genius (never before or since surpassed), lived in
the same age--that that genius was so exactly similar in each, that we
cannot detect in the thoughts, the imagery, the conception and
treatment of character, human and divine, as manifest in each, the
least variety in these wonderful minds--that out of the immense store
of their national legends, they all agreed in selecting one subject,
the war of Troy--that of that subject they all agreed in selecting
only one portion of time, from the insult of Achilles to the
redemption of the body of Hector--that their different mosaics so
nicely fitted one into the other, that by the mere skill of an able
editor they were joined into a whole, so symmetrical that the acutest
ingenuity of ancient Greece could never discover the imposture [170]--
and that, of all these poets, so miraculous in their genius, no single
name, save that of Homer, was recorded by the general people to whom
they sung, or claimed by the peculiar tribe whose literature they
ought to have immortalized?  If everything else were wanting to prove
the unity of Homer, this prodigious extravagance of assumption, into
which a denial of that unity has driven men of no common learning and
intellect, would be sufficient to establish it.

3d.  “That if the Odyssey be counted, the improbability is doubled;
that if we add, upon the authority of Thucydides and Aristotle, the
Hymns and Margites, not to say the Batrachomyomachia, that which was
improbable becomes morally impossible.”

Were these last-mentioned poems Homer’s, there would yet be nothing
improbable in the invention and composition of minor poems without
writing materials; and the fact of his having composed one long poem,
throws no difficulty in the way of his composing short ones.  We have
already seen that the author need not himself have remembered them all
his life.  But this argument is not honest, for the critics who have
produced it agree in the same breath, when it suits their purpose,
that the Hymns, etc., are not Homer’s--and in this I concur with
their, and the almost universal, opinion.

The remaining part of the analysis of the hostile argument has already
been disposed of in connexion with the first proposition.

It now remains to say a few words upon the authorship of the Odyssey.

V.  The question, whether or not the two epics of the Iliad and
Odyssey were the works of the same poet, is a very different one from
that which we have just discussed.  Distinct and separate, indeed, are
the inquiries whether Greece might produce, at certain intervals of
time, two great epic poets, selecting opposite subjects--and whether
Greece produced a score or two of great poets, from whose desultory
remains the mighty whole of the Iliad was arranged.  Even the ancients
of the Alexandrine school did not attribute the Odyssey to the author
of the Iliad.  The theme selected--the manners described--the
mythological spirit--are all widely different in the two works, and
one is evidently of more recent composition than the other.  But, for
my own part, I do not think it has been yet clearly established that
all these acknowledged differences are incompatible with the same
authorship. If the Iliad were written in youth, the travels of the
poet, the change of mind produced by years and experience, the
facility with which an ancient Greek changed or remodelled his pliant
mythology, the rapidity with which (in the quick development of
civilization in Greece) important changes in society and manners were
wrought, might all concur in producing, from the mature age of the
poet, a poem very different to that which he composed in youth.  And
the various undetected interpolations and alterations supposed to be
foisted into the Odyssey may have originated such detailed points of
difference as present the graver obstacles to this conjecture.
Regarding the Iliad and Odyssey as wholes, they are so analogous in
all the highest and rarest attributes of genius, that it is almost as
impossible to imagine two Homers as it is two Shakspeares.  Nor is
there such a contrast between the Iliad and the Odyssey as there is
between any one play of Shakspeare’s and another [171].  Still, I
should warn the general reader, that the utmost opposition that can
reasonably and effectually be made to those who assign to different
authors these several epics, limits itself rather to doubt than to

VI.  It is needless to criticise these immortal masterpieces; not that
criticism upon them is yet exhausted--not that a most useful, and even
novel analysis of their merits and character may not yet be performed,
nor that the most striking and brilliant proofs of the unity of each
poem, separately considered, may not be established by one who shall,
with fitting powers, undertake the delightful task of deducing the
individuality of the poet from the individualizing character of his
creations, and the peculiar attributes of his genius.  With human
works, as with the divine, the main proof of the unity of the author
is in his fidelity to himself:--Not then as a superfluous, but as far
too lengthened and episodical a labour, if worthily performed, do I
forego at present a critical survey of the two poems popularly
ascribed to Homer.

The early genius of Greece devoted itself largely to subjects similar
to those which employed the Homeric muse.  At a later period--probably
dating at the Alexandrian age--a vast collection of ancient poems was
arranged into what is termed the “Epic Cycle;” these commenced at the
Theogony, and concluded with the adventures of Telemachus.  Though no
longer extant, the Cyclic poems enjoyed considerable longevity.  The
greater part were composed between the years 775 B. C. and 566 B. C.
They were extant in the time of Proclus, A. D. 450; the eldest,
therefore, endured at least twelve, the most recent ten centuries;--
save a few scattered lines, their titles alone remain, solitary
tokens, yet floating above the dark oblivion which has swept over the
epics of thirty bards!  But, by the common assent, alike of the
critics and the multitude, none of these approached the remote age,
still less the transcendent merits, of the Homeric poems.

VII.  But, of earlier date than these disciples of Homer, is a poetry
of a class fundamentally distinct from the Homeric, viz., the
collection attributed to Hesiod.  Of one of these only, a rustic and
homely poem called “Works and Days,” was Hesiod considered the author
by his immediate countrymen (the Boeotians of Helicon); but the more
general belief assigned to the fertility of his genius a variety of
other works, some of which, if we may judge by the titles, aimed at a
loftier vein [172].  And were he only the author of the “Works and
Days”--a poem of very insignificant merit [173]--it would be scarcely
possible to account for the high estimation in which Hesiod was held
by the Greeks, often compared, and sometimes preferred, to the mighty
and majestic Homer.  We must either, then, consider Hesiod as the
author of many writings superior perhaps to what we now possess, or,
as is more plausibly and popularly supposed by modern critics, the
representative and type, as it were, of a great school of national
poetry.  And it has been acutely suggested that, viewing the pastoral
and lowly occupation he declares himself to pursue [174], combined
with the subjects of his muse, and the place of his birth, we may
believe the name of Hesiod to have been the representative of the
poetry, not of the victor lords, but of the conquered people,
expressive of their pursuits, and illustrative of their religion.
This will account for the marked and marvellous difference between the
martial and aristocratic strain of Homer and the peaceful and rustic
verse of Hesiod [175], as well as for the distinction no less visible
between the stirring mythology of the one and the thoughtful theogony
of the other.  If this hypothesis be accepted, the Hesiodic era might
very probably have commenced before the Homeric (although what is now
ascribed to Hesiod is evidently of later date than the Iliad and the
Odyssey).  And Hesiod is to Homer what the Pelasgic genius was to the
Hellenic. [176]

VIII.  It will be obvious to all who study what I may call the natural
history of poetry, that short hymns or songs must long have preceded
the gigantic compositions of Homer.  Linus and Thamyris, and, more
disputably, Orpheus, are recorded to have been the precursors of
Homer, though the poems ascribed to them (some of which still remain)
were of much later date.  Almost coeval with the Grecian gods were
doubtless religious hymns in their honour.  And the germe of the great
lyrical poetry that we now possess was, in the rude chants of the
warlike Dorians, to that Apollo who was no less the Inspirer than the
Protector.  The religion of the Greeks preserved and dignified the
poetry it created; and the bard, “beloved by gods as men,” became
invested, as well with a sacred character as a popular fame.  Beneath
that cheerful and familiar mythology, even the comic genius sheltered
its license, and found its subjects.  Not only do the earliest of the
comic dramatists seem to have sought in mythic fables their characters
and plots, but, far before the DRAMA itself arose in any of the
Grecian states, comic recital prepared the way for comic
representation.  In the eighth book of the Odyssey, the splendid
Alcinous and the pious Ulysses listen with delight to the story, even
broadly ludicrous, how Vulcan nets and exposes Venus and her war-god

    “All heaven beholds imprisoned as they lie,
     And unextinguished laughter shakes the sky.”

And this singular and well-known effusion shows, not only how grave
and reverent an example Epicharmus had for his own audacious
portraiture of the infirmities of the Olympian family, but how
immemorially and how deeply fixed in the popular spirit was the
disposition to draw from the same source the elements of humour and of

But, however ancient the lyrical poetry of Greece, its masterpieces of
art were composed long subsequent to the Homeric poems; and, no doubt,
greatly influenced by acquaintance with those fountains of universal
inspiration.  I think it might be shown that lyrical poetry developed
itself, in its more elaborate form, earliest in those places where the
poems of Homer are most likely to have been familiarly known.

The peculiar character of the Greek lyrical poetry can only be
understood by remembering its inseparable connexion with music; and
the general application of both, not only to religious but political
purposes.  The Dorian states regarded the lyre and the song as
powerful instruments upon the education, the manners, and the national
character of their citizens.  With them these arts were watched and
regulated by the law, and the poet acquired something of the social
rank, and aimed at much of the moral design, of a statesman and a
legislator: while, in the Ionian states, the wonderful stir and
agitation, the changes and experiments in government, the rapid growth
of luxury, commerce, and civilization, afforded to a poetry which was
not, as with us, considered a detached, unsocial, and solitary art,
but which was associated with every event of actual life--occasions of
vast variety--themes of universal animation.  The eloquence of poetry
will always be more exciting in its appeals--the love for poetry
always more diffused throughout a people, in proportion as it is less
written than recited.  How few, even at this day, will read a poem!--
what crowds will listen to a song!  Recitation transfers the stage of
effect from the closet to the multitude--the public becomes an
audience, the poet an orator.  And when we remember that the poetry,
thus created, imbodying the most vivid, popular, animated subjects of
interest, was united with all the pomp of festival and show--all the
grandest, the most elaborate, and artful effects of music--we may
understand why the true genius of lyrical composition has passed for
ever away from the modern world.

As early as between 708 and 665 B. C., Archilochus brought to
perfection a poetry worthy of loftier passions than those which mostly
animated his headstrong and angry genius.  In 625 (thirty-one years
before the legislation of Solon) flourished Arion, the Lesbian, who,
at Corinth, carried, to extraordinary perfection the heroic adaptation
of song to choral music. In 611 flourished the Sicilian, Stersichorus
--no unworthy rival of Arion; while simultaneously, in strains less
national and Grecian, and more resembling the inspiration of modern
minstrels, Alcaeus vented his burning and bitter spirit;--and Sappho
(whose chaste and tender muse it was reserved for the chivalry of a
northern student, five-and-twenty centuries after the hand was cold
and the tongue was mute, to vindicate from the longest-continued
calumny that genius ever endured) [177] gave to the most ardent of
human passions the most delicate colouring of female sentiment.
Perhaps, of all that Greece has bequeathed to us, nothing is so
perfect in its concentration of real feeling as the fragments of
Sappho.  In one poem of a few lines--nor that, alas! transmitted to us
complete--she has given a picture of the effect of love upon one who
loves, to which volumes of the most eloquent description could
scarcely add a single new touch of natural pathos--so subtle is it,
yet so simple.  I cannot pass over in silence the fragments of
Mimnermus (fl. B. C. 630)--they seem of an order so little akin to the
usual character of Grecian poetry; there is in them a thoughtful
though gloomy sadness, that belongs rather to the deep northern
imagination than the brilliant fancies of the west; their melancholy
is mixed with something half intellectual--half voluptuous--indicative
of the mournful but interesting wisdom of satiety.  Mimnermus is a
principal model of the Latin elegiac writers--and Propertius compares
his love verses with those of Homer.  Mimnermus did not invent the
elegiac form (for it was first applied to warlike inspiration by
another Ionian poet, Callinus); but he seems the founder of what we
now call the elegiac spirit in its association of the sentiment of
melancholy with the passion of love.

IX.  While such was the state of POETRY in Greece--torpid in the
Ionian Athens, but already prodigal in her kindred states of Asia and
the Isles; gravely honoured, rather than produced, in Sparta;--
splendidly welcomed, rather than home-born, in Corinth;--the Asiatic
colonies must also claim the honour of the advance of the sister arts.
But in architecture the Dorian states of European Greece, Sicyon,
Aegina, and the luxurious Corinth, were no unworthy competitors with

In the heroic times, the Homeric poems, especially the Odyssey, attest
the refinement and skill to which many of the imitative arts of
Grecian civilization had attained.  In embroidery, the high-born
occupation of Helen ad Penelope, were attempted the most complex and
difficult designs; and it is hard to suppose that these subjects could
have been wrought upon garments with sufficient fidelity to warrant
the praise of a poet who evidently wrote from experience of what he
had seen, if the art of DRAWING had not been also carried to some
excellence--although to PAINTING itself the poet makes none but
dubious and obscure allusions.  Still, if, on the one hand [178], in
embroidery, and upon arms (as the shield of Achilles), delineation in
its more complex and minute form was attempted,--and if, on the other
hand, the use of colours was known (which it was, as applied not only
to garments but to ivory), it could not have been long before two such
kindred elements of the same art were united.  Although it is
contended by many that rude stones or beams were the earliest objects
of Grecian worship, and though it is certain that in several places
such emblems of the Deity preceded the worship of images, yet to the
superstitious art of the rude Pelasgi in their earliest age, uncouth
and half-formed statues of Hermes are attributed, and the idol is
commemorated by traditions almost as antique as those which attest the
sanctity of the fetiche [179].  In the Homeric age, SCULPTURE in
metals, and on a large scale, was certainly known.  By the door of
Alcinous, the king of an island in the Ionian Sea, stand rows of dogs
in gold and silver--in his hall, upon pedestals, are golden statues of
boys holding torches; and that such sculpture was even then dedicated
to the gods is apparent by a well-known passage in the earlier poem of
the Iliad; which represents Theano, the Trojan priestess of Minerva,
placing the offering of Hecuba upon the knees of the statue of the
goddess.  How far, however, such statues could be called works of art,
or how far they were wrought by native Greeks, it is impossible to
determine [180].  Certain it is that the memorable and gigantic
advance in the art of SCULPTURE was not made till about the 50th
Olympiad (B. C. 580), when Dipaenus and Scyllis first obtained
celebrity in works in marble (wood and metals were the earliest
materials of sculpture).  The great improvements in the art seem to
have been coeval with the substitution of the naked for the draped
figure.  Beauty, and ease, and grace, and power, were the result of
the anatomical study of the human form.  ARCHITECTURE has bequeathed
to us, in the Pelasgic and Cyclopean remains, sufficient to indicate
the massive strength it early acquired in parts of Greece.  In the
Homeric times, the intercourse with Asia had already given something
of lightness to the elder forms.  Columns are constantly introduced
into the palaces of the chiefs, profuse metallic ornaments decorate
the walls; and the Homeric palaces, with their cornices gayly
inwrought with blue--their pillars of silver on bases of brass, rising
amid vines and fruit-trees,--even allowing for all the exaggerations
of the poet,--dazzle the imagination with much of the gaudiness and
glitter of an oriental city [181].  At this period Athens receives
from Homer the epithet of “broad-streeted:” and it is by no means
improbable that the city of the Attic king might have presented to a
traveller, in the time of Homer, a more pleasing general appearance
than in its age of fame, when, after the Persian devastations, its
stately temples rose above narrow and irregular streets, and the
jealous effects of democracy forbade to the mansions of individual
nobles that striking pre-eminence over the houses of the commonalty
which would naturally mark the distinction of wealth and rank, in a
monarchical, or even an oligarchical government.

X.  About the time on which we now enter, the extensive commerce and
free institutions of the Ionian colonies had carried all the arts just
referred to far beyond the Homeric time.  And, in addition to the
activity and development of the intellect in all its faculties which
progressed with the extensive trade and colonization of Miletus
(operating upon the sensitive, inquiring, and poetical temperament of
the Ionian population), a singular event, which suddenly opened to
Greece familiar intercourse with the arts and lore of Egypt, gave
considerable impetus to the whole Grecian MIND.

In our previous brief survey of the state of the Oriental world, we
have seen that Egypt, having been rent into twelve principalities, had
been again united under a single monarch.  The ambitious and fortunate
Psammetichus was enabled, by the swords of some Ionian and Carian
adventurers (who, bound on a voyage of plunder, had been driven upon
the Egyptian shores), not only to regain his own dominion, from which
he had been expelled by the jealousy of his comrades, but to acquire
the sole sovereignty of Egypt (B. C. 670).  In gratitude for their
services, Psammetichus conferred upon his wild allies certain lands at
the Pelusian mouth of the Nile, and obliged some Egyptian children to
learn the Grecian language;--from these children descended a class of
interpreters, that long afterward established the facilities of
familiar intercourse between Greece and Egypt.  Whatever, before that
time, might have been the migrations of Egyptians into Greece, these
were the first Greeks whom the Egyptians received among themselves.
Thence poured into Greece, in one full and continuous stream, the
Egyptian influences, hitherto partial and unfrequent. [182]

In the same reign, according to Strabo, the Asiatic Greeks obtained a
settlement at Naucratis, the ancient emporium of Egypt; and the
communication, once begun, rapidly increased, until in the subsequent
time of Amasis (B. C. 569) we find the Ionians, the Dorians, the
Aeolians of Asia, and even the people of Aegina and Samos [183],
building temples and offering worship amid the jealous and mystic
priestcrafts of the Nile.  This familiar and advantageous intercourse
with a people whom the Greeks themselves considered the wisest on the
earth, exercised speedy and powerful effect upon their religion and
their art.  In the first it operated immediately upon their modes of
divination and their mystic rites--in the last, the influence was less
direct.  It is true that they probably learned from the Egyptians many
technical rules in painting and in sculpture; they learned how to cut
the marble and to blend the colours, but their own genius taught them
how to animate the block and vivify the image.  We have seen already,
that before this event, art had attained to a certain eminence among
the Greeks--fortunately, therefore, what they now acquired was not the
foundation of their lore.  Grafted on a Grecian stock, every shoot
bore Grecian fruit: and what was borrowed from mechanism was
reproduced in beauty [184].  As with the arts, so with the SCIENCES;
we have reason to doubt whether the Egyptian sages, whose minds were
swathed and bandaged in the cerements of hereditary rules, never to
swell out of the slavery of castes, had any very sound and enlightened
philosophy to communicate: their wisdom was probably exaggerated by
the lively and credulous Greeks, awed by the mysticism of the priests,
the grandeur of the cities, the very rigidity, so novel to them, of
imposing and antique custom.  What, then, was the real benefit of the
intercourse?  Not so much in satisfying as in arousing and stimulating
the curiosity of knowledge.  Egypt, to the Greeks, was as America to
Europe--the Egyptians taught them little, but Egypt much.  And that
what the Egyptians did directly communicate was rather the material
for improvement than the improvement itself, this one gift is an
individual example and a general type;--the Egyptians imparted to the
Greeks the use of the papyrus--the most easy and popular material for
writing; we are thus indebted to Egypt for a contrivance that has done
much to preserve to us--much, perhaps, to create for us--a Plato and
an Aristotle; but for the thoughts of Aristotle and Plato we are
indebted to Greece alone:--the material Egyptian--the manufacture

XI.  The use of the papyrus had undoubtedly much effect upon the
formation of prose composition in Greece, but it was by no means an
instantaneous one.  At the period on which we now enter (about B. C.
600), the first recorded prose Grecian writer had not composed his
works.  The wide interval between prose in its commencement and poetry
in its perfection is peculiarly Grecian; many causes conspired to
produce it, but the principal one was, that works, if written, being
not the less composed to be recited, not read--were composed to
interest and delight, rather than formally to instruct.  Poetry was,
therefore, so obviously the best means to secure the end of the
author, that we cannot wonder to find that channel of appeal
universally chosen; the facility with which the language formed itself
into verse, and the license that appears to have been granted to the
gravest to assume a poetical diction without attempting the poetical
spirit, allowed even legislators and moralists to promulgate precepts
and sentences in the rhythm of a Homer and a Hesiod.  And since laws
were not written before the time of Draco, it was doubly necessary
that they should be cast in that fashion by which words are most
durably impressed on the memory of the multitude.  Even on Solon’s
first appearance in public life, when he inspires the Athenians to
prosecute the war with Megara, he addresses the passions of the crowd,
not by an oration, but a poem; and in a subsequent period, when prose
composition had become familiar, it was still in verse that Hipparchus
communicated his moral apothegms.  The origin of prose in Greece is,
therefore, doubly interesting as an epoch, not only in the
intellectual, but also in the social state.  It is clear that it would
not commence until a reading public was created; and until, amid the
poetical many, had sprung up the grave and studious few.  Accordingly,
philosophy, orally delivered, preceded prose composition--and Thales
taught before Pherecydes wrote [185].  To the superficial it may seem
surprising that literature, as distinct from poetry, should commence
with the most subtle and laborious direction of the human intellect:
yet so it was, not only in Greece, but almost universally.  In nearly
all countries, speculative conjecture or inquiry is the first
successor to poetry.  In India, in China, in the East, some dim
philosophy is the characteristic of the earliest works--sometimes
inculcating maxims of morality--sometimes allegorically shadowing
forth, sometimes even plainly expressing, the opinions of the author
on the mysteries of life--of nature--of the creation.  Even with the
moderns, the dawn of letters broke on the torpor of the dark ages of
the North in speculative disquisition; the Arabian and the
Aristotelian subtleties engaged the attention of the earliest
cultivators of modern prose (as separated from poetic fiction), and
the first instinct of the awakened reason was to grope through the
misty twilight after TRUTH.  Philosophy precedes even history; men
were desirous of solving the enigmas of the world, before they
disentangled from tradition the chronicles of its former habitants.

If we examine the ways of an infant we shall cease to wonder at those
of an infant civilization.  Long before we can engage the curiosity of
the child in the History of England--long before we can induce him to
listen with pleasure to our stories even of Poictiers and Cressy--and
(a fortiori) long before he can be taught an interest in Magna Charta
and the Bill of Rights, he will of his own accord question us of the
phenomena of nature--inquire how he himself came into the world--
delight to learn something of the God we tell him to adore--and find
in the rainbow and the thunder, in the meteor and the star, a thousand
subjects of eager curiosity and reverent wonder.  The why perpetually
torments him;--every child is born a philosopher!--the child is the
analogy of a people yet in childhood. [186]

XII.  It may follow as a corollary from this problem, that the Greeks
of themselves arrived at the stage of philosophical inquiry without
any very important and direct assistance from the lore of Egypt and
the East.  That lore, indeed, awakened the desire, but it did not
guide the spirit of speculative research.  And the main cause why
philosophy at once assumed with the Greeks a character distinct from
that of the Oriental world, I have already intimated [187], in the
absence of a segregated and privileged religious caste.  Philosophy
thus fell into the hands of sages, not of priests.  And whatever the
Ionian states (the cradle of Grecian wisdom) received from Egypt or
the East, they received to reproduce in new and luxuriant prodigality.
The Ionian sages took from an elder wisdom not dogmas never to be
questioned, but suggestions carefully to be examined.  It thus
fortunately happened that the deeper and maturer philosophy of Greece
proper had a kind of intermedium between the systems of other nations
and its own.  The Eastern knowledge was borne to Europe through the
Greek channels of Asiatic colonies, and became Hellenized as it
passed.  Thus, what was a certainty in the East, became a proposition
in Ionia, and ultimately a doubt, at Athens.  In Greece, indeed, as
everywhere, religion was connected with the first researches of
philosophy.  From the fear of the gods, to question of the nature of
the gods, is an easy transition.  The abundance and variety of popular
superstitions served but to stimulate curiosity as to their origin;
and since in Egypt the sole philosophers were the priests, a Greek
could scarcely converse with an Egyptian on the articles of his
religion without discussing also the principles of his philosophy.
Whatever opinions the Greek might then form and promulge, being
sheltered beneath no jealous and prescriptive priestcraft, all had
unfettered right to canvass and dispute them, till by little and
little discussion ripened into science.

The distinction, in fine, between the Greeks and their contemporaries
was this: if they were not the only people that philosophized, they
were the only people that said whatever they pleased about philosophy.
Their very plagiarism from the philosophy of other creeds was
fortunate, inasmuch as it presented nothing hostile to the national
superstition.  Had they disputed about the nature of Jupiter, or the
existence of Apollo, they might have been persecuted, but they could
start at once into disquisitions upon the eternity of matter, or the
providence of a pervading mind.

XIII.  This spirit of innovation and discussion, which made the
characteristic of the Greeks, is noted by Diodorus.  “Unlike the
Chaldaeans,” he observes, “with whom philosophy is delivered from sire
to son, and all other employment rejected by its cultivators, the
Greeks come late to the science--take it up for a short time--desert
it for a more active means of subsistence--and the few who surrender
themselves wholly to it practise for gain, innovate the most important
doctrines, pay no reverence to those that went before, create new
sects, establish new theorems, and, by perpetual contradictions,
entail perpetual doubts.”  Those contradictions and those doubts made
precisely the reason why the Greeks became the tutors of the world!

There is another characteristic of the Greeks indicated by this remark
of Diodorus.  Their early philosophers, not being exempted from other
employments, were not the mere dreamers of the closet and the cell.
They were active, practical, stirring men of the world.  They were
politicians and moralists as well as philosophers.  The practical
pervaded the ideal, and was, in fact, the salt that preserved it from
decay.  Thus legislation and science sprung simultaneously into life,
and the age of Solon is the age of Thales.

XIV.  Of the seven wise men (if we accept that number) who flourished
about the same period, six were rulers and statesmen.  They were
eminent, not as physical, but as moral, philosophers; and their wisdom
was in their maxims and apothegms.  They resembled in much the wary
and sagacious tyrants of Italy in the middle ages--masters of men’s
actions by becoming readers of their minds.  Of these seven, Periander
of Corinth (began to reign B. C. 625, died B. C. 585) and Cleobulus of
Lindus (fl. B. C. 586), tyrants in their lives, and cruel in their
actions, were, it is said, disowned by the remaining five [188].  But
goodness is not the necessary consequence of intellect, and, despite
their vices, these princes deserved the epithet of wise.  Of Cleobulus
we know less than of Periander; but both governed with prosperity, and
died in old age.  If we except Pisistratus, Periander was the greatest
artist of all that able and profound fraternity, who, under the name
of tyrants, concentred the energies of their several states, and
prepared the democracies by which they were succeeded.  Periander’s
reputed maxims are at variance with his practice; they breathe a
spirit of freedom and a love of virtue which may render us suspicious
of their authenticity--the more so as they are also attributed to
others.  Nevertheless, the inconsistency would be natural, for reason
makes our opinions, and circumstance shapes our actions.  “A democracy
is better than a tyranny,” is an aphorism imputed to Periander: but
when asked why he continued tyrant, he answered, “Because it is
dangerous willingly to resist, or unwillingly to be deposed.”  His
principles were republican, his position made him a tyrant.  He is
said to have fallen into extreme dejection in his old age; perhaps
because his tastes and his intellect were at war with his life.
Chilo, the Lacedaemonian ephor, is placed also among the seven.  His
maxims are singularly Dorian--they breathe reverence of the dead and
suspicion of the living.  “Love,” he said (if we may take the
authority of Aulus Gellius, fl. B. C. 586), “as if you might hereafter
hate, and hate as if you might hereafter love.”  Another favourite
sentence of his was, “to a surety loss is at hand.” [189]  A third,
“we try gold by the touchstone.  Gold is the touchstone of the mind.”
 Bias, of Priene in Ionia, is quoted, in Herodotus, as the author of an
advice to the Ionians to quit their country, and found a common city
in Sardinia (B. C. 586).  He seems to have taken an active part in all
civil affairs.  His reputed maxims are plain and homely--the
elementary principles of morals.  Mitylene in Lesbos boasted the
celebrated Pittacus (began to govern B. C. 589, resigned 579, died
569).  He rose to the tyranny of the government by the free voice of
the people; enjoyed it ten years, and voluntarily resigned it, as
having only borne the dignity while the state required the direction
of a single leader.  It was a maxim with him, for which he is reproved
by Plato, “That to be good is hard.”  His favourite precept was, “Know
occasion:” and this he amplified in another (if rightly attributed to
him), “To foresee and prevent dangers is the province of the wise--to
direct them when they come, of the brave.”

XV.  Of Solon, the greatest of the seven, I shall hereafter speak at
length.  I pass now to Thales (born B. C. 639);--the founder of
philosophy, in its scientific sense--the speculative in
contradistinction to the moral: Although an ardent republican, Thales
alone, of the seven sages, appears to have led a private and studious
life.  He travelled, into Crete, Asia, and at a later period into
Egypt.  According to Laertius, Egypt taught him geometry.  He is
supposed to have derived his astrological notions from Phoenicia.  But
this he might easily have done without visiting the Phoenician states.
Returning to Miletus, he obtained his title of Wise [190].  Much
learning has been exhausted upon his doctrines to very little purpose.
They were of small value, save as they led to the most valuable of all
philosophies--that of experiment.  They were not new probably even in
Greece [191], and of their utility the following brief sketch will
enable the reader to judge for himself.

He maintained that water, or rather humidity, was the origin of all
things, though he allowed mind or intellect (nous) to be the impelling
principle.  And one of his arguments in favour of humidity, as
rendered to us by Plutarch and Stobaeus, is pretty nearly as follows:
--“Because fire, even in the sun and the stars, is nourished by
vapours proceeding from humidity,--and therefore the whole world
consists of the same.”  Of the world, he supposed the whole to be
animated by, and full of, the Divinity--its Creator--that in it was no
vacuum--that matter was fluid and variable. [192]

He maintained the stars and sun to be earthly, and the moon of the
same nature as the sun, but illumined by it.  Somewhat more valuable
would appear to have been his geometrical science, could we with
accuracy attribute to Thales many problems claimed also, and more
probably, by Pythagoras and later reasoners.  He is asserted to have
measured the pyramids by their shadows.  He cultivated astronomy and
astrology; and Laertius declares him to have been the first Greek that
foretold eclipses.  The yet higher distinction has been claimed for
Thales of having introduced among his countrymen the doctrine of the
immortality of the soul.  But this sublime truth, though connected
with no theory of future rewards and punishments, was received in
Greece long before his time.  Perhaps, however, as the expressions of
Cicero indicate, Thales might be the first who attempted to give
reasons for what was believed.  His reasons were, nevertheless,
sufficiently crude and puerile; and having declared it the property of
the soul to move itself, and other things, he was forced to give a
soul to the loadstone, because it moved iron!

These fantastic doctrines examined, and his geometrical or
astronomical discoveries dubious, it may be asked, what did Thales
effect for philosophy?  Chiefly this: he gave reasons for opinions--he
aroused the dormant spirit of inquiry--he did for truths what the
legislators of his age did for the people--left them active and
stirring to free and vigorous competition.  He took Wisdom out of
despotism, and placed her in a republic--he was in harmony with the
great principle of his age, which was investigation, and not
tradition; and thus he became the first example of that great truth--
that to think freely is the first step to thinking well.  It
fortunately happened, too, that his moral theories, however
inadequately argued upon, were noble and exalting.  He contended for
the providence of a God, as well as for the immortality of man.  He
asserted vice to be the most hateful, virtue the most profitable of
all things [193].  He waged war on that vulgar tenacity of life which
is the enemy to all that is most spiritual and most enterprising in
our natures, and maintained that between life and death there is no
difference--the fitting deduction from a belief in the continuous
existence of the soul [194].  His especial maxim was the celebrated
precept, “Know thyself.”  His influence was vigorous and immediate.
How far he created philosophy may be doubtful, but he created
philosophers.  From the prolific intelligence which his fame and
researches called into being, sprang a new race of thoughts, which
continued in unbroken succession until they begat descendants
illustrious and immortal.  Without the hardy errors of Thales,
Socrates might have spent his life in spoiling marble, Plato might
have been only a tenth-rate poet, and Aristotle an intriguing

XVI.  With this I close my introductory chapters, and proceed from
dissertation into history;--pleased that our general survey of Greece
should conclude with an acknowledgment of our obligations to the
Ionian colonies.  Soon, from the contemplation of those enchanting
climes; of the extended commerce and the brilliant genius of the
people--the birthplace of the epic and the lyric muse, the first home
of history, of philosophy, of art;--soon, from our survey of the rise
and splendour of the Asiatic Ionians, we turn to the agony of their
struggles--the catastrophe of their fall.  Those wonderful children of
Greece had something kindred with the precocious intellect that is
often the hectic symptom of premature decline.  Originating, advancing
nearly all which the imagination or the reason can produce, while yet
in that social youth which promised a long and a yet more glorious
existence--while even their great parent herself had scarcely emerged
from the long pupilage of nations, they fell into the feebleness of
age!  Amid the vital struggles, followed by the palsied and prostrate
exhaustion of her Ionian children, the majestic Athens suddenly arose
from the obscurity of the past to an empire that can never perish,
until heroism shall cease to warm, poetry to delight, and wisdom to
instruct the future.




The Conspiracy of Cylon.--Loss of Salamis.--First Appearance of
Solon.--Success against the Megarians in the Struggle for Salamis.--
Cirrhaean War.--Epimenides.--Political State of Athens.--Character of
Solon.--His Legislation.--General View of the Athenian Constitution.

I.  The first symptom in Athens of the political crisis (B. C. 621)
which, as in other of the Grecian states, marked the transition of
power from the oligarchic to the popular party, may be detected in the
laws of Draco.  Undue severity in the legislature is the ordinary
proof of a general discontent: its success is rarely lasting enough to
confirm a government--its failure, when confessed, invariably
strengthens a people.  Scarcely had these laws been enacted (B. C.
620) when a formidable conspiracy broke out against the reigning
oligarchy [195].  It was during the archonship of Megacles (a scion of
the great Alcmaeonic family, which boasted its descent from Nestor)
that the aristocracy was menaced by the ambition of an aristocrat.

Born of an ancient and powerful house, and possessed of considerable
wealth, Cylon, the Athenian, conceived the design of seizing the
citadel, and rendering himself master of the state.  He had wedded the
daughter of Theagenes, tyrant of Megara, and had raised himself into
popular reputation several years before, by a victory in the Olympic
games (B. C. 640).  The Delphic oracle was supposed to have inspired
him with the design; but it is at least equally probable that the
oracle was consulted after the design had been conceived.  The divine
voice declared that Cylon should occupy the citadel on the greatest
festival of Jupiter.  By the event it does not appear, however, that
he selected the proper occasion.  Taking advantage of an Olympic year,
when many of the citizens were gone to the games, and assisted with
troops by his father-in-law, he seized the citadel.  Whatever might
have been his hopes of popular support--and there is reason to believe
that he in some measure calculated upon it--the time was evidently
unripe for the convulsion, and the attempt was unskilfully planned.
The Athenians, under Megacles and the other archons, took the alarm,
and in a general body blockaded the citadel.  But they grew weary of
the length of the siege; many of them fell away, and the contest was
abandoned to the archons, with full power to act according to their
judgment.  So supine in defence of the liberties of the state are a
people who have not yet obtained liberty for themselves!

II.  The conspirators were reduced by the failure of food and water.
Cylon and his brother privately escaped.  Of his adherents, some
perished by famine, others betook themselves to the altars in the
citadel, claiming, as suppliants, the right of sanctuary.  The guards
of the magistrates, seeing the suppliants about to expire from
exhaustion, led them from the altar and put them to death.  But some
of the number were not so scrupulously slaughtered--massacred around
the altars of the furies.  The horror excited by a sacrilege so
atrocious, may easily be conceived by those remembering the humane and
reverent superstition of the Greeks:--the indifference of the people
to the contest was changed at once into detestation of the victors.  A
conspiracy, hitherto impotent, rose at once into power by the
circumstances of its defeat.  Megacles--his whole house--all who had
assisted in the impiety, were stigmatized with the epithet of
“execrable.”  The faction, or friends of Cylon, became popular from
the odium of their enemies--the city was distracted by civil
commotion--by superstitious apprehensions of the divine anger--and, as
the excesses of one party are the aliment of the other, so the
abhorrence of sacrilege effaced the remembrance of a treason.

III.  The petty state of Megara, which, since the earlier ages, had,
from the dependant of Athens, grown up to the dignity of her rival,
taking advantage of the internal dissensions in the latter city,
succeeded in wresting from the Athenian government the Isle of
Salamis.  It was not, however, without bitter and repeated struggles
that Athens at last submitted to the surrender of the isle.  But,
after signal losses and defeats, as nothing is ever more odious to the
multitude than unsuccessful war, so the popular feeling was such as to
induce the government to enact a decree, by which it was forbidden,
upon pain of death, to propose reasserting the Athenian claims.  But a
law, evidently the offspring of a momentary passion of disgust or
despair, and which could not but have been wrung with reluctance from
a government, whose conduct it tacitly arraigned, and whose military
pride it must have mortified, was not likely to bind, for any length
of time, a gallant aristocracy and a susceptible people.  Many of the
younger portion of the community, pining at the dishonour of their
country, and eager for enterprise, were secretly inclined to
countenance any stratagem that might induce the reversal of the

At this time there went a report through the city, that a man of
distinguished birth, indirectly descended from the last of the
Athenian kings, had incurred the consecrating misfortune of insanity.
Suddenly this person appeared in the market-place, wearing the
peculiar badge that distinguished the sick [196].  His friends were,
doubtless, well prepared for his appearance--a crowd, some predisposed
to favour, others attracted by curiosity, were collected round him--
and, ascending to the stone from which the heralds made their
proclamations, he began to recite aloud a poem upon the loss of
Salamis, boldly reproving the cowardice of the people, and inciting
them again to war.  His supposed insanity protected him from the law--
his rank, reputation, and the circumstance of his being himself a
native of Salamis, conspired to give his exhortations a powerful
effect, and the friends he had secured to back his attempt loudly
proclaimed their applauding sympathy with the spirit of the address.
The name of the pretended madman was Solon, son of Execestides, the
descendant of Codrus.

Plutarch (followed by Mr. Milford, Mr. Thirlwall, and other modern
historians) informs us that the celebrated Pisistratus then proceeded
to exhort the assembly, and to advocate the renewal of the war--an
account that is liable to this slight objection, that Pisistratus at
that time was not born! [197]

IV.  The stratagem and the eloquence of Solon produced its natural
effect upon his spirited and excitable audience, and the public
enthusiasm permitted the oligarchical government to propose and effect
the repeal of the law [198].  An expedition was decreed and planned,
and Solon was invested with its command.  It was but a brief struggle
to recover the little island of Salamis: with one galley of thirty
oars and a number of fishing-craft, Solon made for Salamis, took a
vessel sent to reconnoitre by the Megarians, manned it with his own
soldiers, who were ordered to return to the city with such caution as
might prevent the Megarians discovering the exchange, on board, of
foes for friends; and then with the rest of his force he engaged the
enemy by land, while those in the ship captured the city.  In
conformity with this version of the campaign (which I have selected in
preference to another recorded by Plutarch), an Athenian ship once a
year passed silently to Salamis--the inhabitants rushed clamouring
down to meet it--an armed man leaped ashore, and ran shouting to the
Promontory of Sciradium, near which was long existent a temple erected
and dedicated to Mars by Solon.

But the brave and resolute Megarians were not men to be disheartened
by a single reverse; they persisted in the contest--losses were
sustained on either side, and at length both states agreed to refer
their several claims on the sovereignty of the island to the decision
of Spartan arbiters.  And this appeal from arms to arbitration is a
proof how much throughout Greece had extended that spirit of
civilization which is but an extension of the sense of justice.  Both
parties sought to ground their claims upon ancient and traditional
rights.  Solon is said to have assisted the demand of his countrymen
by a quotation, asserted to have been spuriously interpolated from
Homer’s catalogue of the ships, which appeared to imply the ancient
connexion of Salamis and Athens (199); and whether or not this was
actually done, the very tradition that it was done, nearly half a
century before the first usurpation of Pisistratus, is a proof of the
great authority of Homer in that age, and how largely the services
rendered by Pisistratus, many years afterward, to the Homeric poems,
have been exaggerated and misconstrued.  The mode of burial in
Salamis, agreeable to the custom of the Athenians and contrary to that
of the Megarians, and reference to certain Delphic oracles, in which
the island was called “Ionian,” were also adduced in support of the
Athenian claims.  The arbitration of the umpires in favour of Athens
only suspended hostilities; and the Megarians did not cease to watch
(and shortly afterward they found) a fitting occasion to regain a
settlement so tempting to their ambition.

V.  The credit acquired by Solon in this expedition was shortly
afterward greatly increased in the estimation of Greece.  In the Bay
of Corinth was situated a town called Cirrha, inhabited by a fierce
and lawless race, who, after devastating the sacred territories of
Delphi, sacrilegiously besieged the city itself, in the desire to
possess themselves of the treasures which the piety of Greece had
accumulated in the temple of Apollo.  Solon appeared at the
Amphictyonic council, represented the sacrilege of the Cirrhaeans, and
persuaded the Greeks to arm in defence of the altars of their tutelary
god.  Clisthenes, the tyrant of Sicyon, was sent as commander-in-chief
against the Cirrhaeans (B. C. 595); and (according to Plutarch) the
records of Delphi inform us that Alcmaeon was the leader of the
Athenians.  The war was not very successful at the onset; the oracle
of Apollo was consulted, and the answer makes one of the most amusing
anecdotes of priestcraft.  The besiegers were informed by the god that
the place would not be reduced until the waves of the Cirrhaean Sea
washed the territories of Delphi.  The reply perplexed the army; but
the superior sagacity of Solon was not slow in discovering that the
holy intention of the oracle was to appropriate the land of the
Cirrhaeans to the profit of the temple.  He therefore advised the
besiegers to attack and to conquer Cirrha, and to dedicate its whole
territory to the service of the god.  The advice was adopted--Cirrha
was taken (B. C. 586); it became thenceforth the arsenal of Delphi,
and the insulted deity had the satisfaction of seeing the sacred lands
washed by the waves of the Cirrhaean Sea.  An oracle of this nature
was perhaps more effectual than the sword of Clisthenes in preventing
future assaults on the divine city!  The Pythian games commenced, or
were revived, in celebration of this victory of the Pythian god.

VI.  Meanwhile at Athens--the tranquillity of the state was still
disturbed by the mortal feud between the party of Cylon and the
adherents of the Alcmaeonidae--time only served to exasperate the
desire of vengeance in the one, and increase the indisposition to
justice in the other.  Fortunately, however, the affairs of the state
were in that crisis which is ever favourable to the authority of an
individual.  There are periods in all constitutions when, amid the
excesses of factions, every one submits willingly to an arbiter.  With
the genius that might have made him the destroyer of the liberties of
his country, Solon had the virtue to constitute himself their saviour.
He persuaded the families stigmatized with the crime of sacrilege, and
the epithet of “execrable,” to submit to the forms of trial; they were
impeached, judged, and condemned to exile; the bodies of those whom
death had already summoned to a sterner tribunal were disinterred, and
removed beyond the borders of Attica.  Nevertheless, the superstitions
of the people were unappeased.  Strange appearances were beheld in the
air, and the augurs declared that the entrails of the victims denoted
that the gods yet demanded a fuller expiation of the national crime.

At this time there lived in Crete one of those remarkable men common
to the early ages of the world, who sought to unite with the honours
of the sage the mysterious reputation of the magician.  Epimenides,
numbered by some among the seven wise men, was revered throughout
Greece as one whom a heavenlier genius animated and inspired.  Devoted
to poetry, this crafty impostor carried its prerogatives of fiction
into actual life; and when he declared--in one of his verses, quoted
by St. Paul in his Epistle to Titus--that “the Cretans were great
liars,” we have no reason to exempt the venerable accuser from his own
unpatriotic reproach.  Among the various legends which attach to his
memory is a tradition that has many a likeness both in northern and
eastern fable:--he is said to have slept forty-seven [200] years in a
cave, and on his waking from that moderate repose, to have been not
unreasonably surprised to discover the features of the country
perfectly changed.  Returning to Cnossus, of which he was a citizen,
strange faces everywhere present themselves.  At his father’s door he
is asked his business, and at length, with considerable difficulty.
he succeeds in making himself known to his younger brother, whom he
had left a boy, and now recognised in an old decrepit man.  “This
story,” says a philosophical biographer, very gravely, “made a
considerable sensation”--an assertion not to be doubted; but those who
were of a more skeptical disposition, imagined that Epimenides had
spent the years of his reputed sleep in travelling over foreign
countries, and thus acquiring from men those intellectual acquisitions
which he more piously referred to the special inspiration of the gods.
Epimenides did not scruple to preserve the mysterious reputation he
obtained from this tale by fables equally audacious.  He endeavoured
to persuade the people that he was Aeacus, and that he frequently
visited the earth: he was supposed to be fed by the nymphs--was never
seen to eat in public--he assumed the attributes of prophecy--and
dying in extreme old age: was honoured by the Cretans as a god.

In addition to his other spiritual prerogatives, this reviler of
“liars” boasted the power of exorcism; was the first to introduce into
Greece the custom of purifying public places and private abodes, and
was deemed peculiarly successful in banishing those ominous phantoms
which were so injurious to the tranquillity of the inhabitants of
Athens.  Such a man was exactly the person born to relieve the fears
of the Athenians, and accomplish the things dictated by the panting
entrails of the sacred victims.  Accordingly (just prior to the
Cirrhaean war, B. C. 596), a ship was fitted out, in which an Athenian
named Nicias was sent to Crete, enjoined to bring back the purifying
philosopher, with all that respectful state which his celebrity
demanded.  Epimenides complied with the prayer of the Athenians he
arrived at Athens, and completed the necessary expiation in a manner
somewhat simple for so notable an exorcist.  He ordered several sheep,
some black and some white, to be turned loose in the Areopagus,
directed them to be followed, and wherever they lay down, a sacrifice
was ordained in honour of some one of the gods.  “Hence,” says the
historian of the philosophers, “you may still see throughout Athens
anonymous altars (i. e. altars uninscribed to a particular god), the
memorials of that propitiation.”

The order was obeyed--the sacrifice performed--and the phantoms were
seen no more.  Although an impostor, Epimenides was a man of sagacity
and genius.  He restrained the excess of funeral lamentation, which
often led to unseasonable interruptions of business, and conduced to
fallacious impressions of morality; and in return he accustomed the
Athenians to those regular habits of prayer and divine worship, which
ever tend to regulate and systematize the character of a people.  He
formed the closest intimacy with Solon, and many of the subsequent
laws of the Athenian are said by Plutarch to have been suggested by
the wisdom of the Cnossian sage.  When the time arrived for the
departure of Epimenides, the Athenians would have presented him with a
talent in reward of his services, but the philosopher refused the
offer; he besought the Athenians to a firm alliance with his
countrymen; accepted of no other remuneration than a branch of the
sacred olive which adorned the citadel, and was supposed the primeval
gift of Minerva, and returned to his native city,--proving that a man
in those days might be an impostor without seeking any other reward
than the gratuitous honour of the profession.

VII.  With the departure of Epimenides, his spells appear to have
ceased; new disputes and new factions arose; and, having no other
crimes to expiate, the Athenians fell with one accord upon those of
the government.  Three parties--the Mountaineers, the Lowlanders, and
the Coastmen--each advocating a different form of constitution,
distracted the state by a common discontent with the constitution that
existed, the three parties, which, if we glance to the experience of
modern times, we might almost believe that no free state can ever be
without--viz., the respective advocates of the oligarchic, the mixed,
and the democratic government.  The habits of life ever produce among
classes the political principles by which they are severally
regulated.  The inhabitants of the mountainous district, free, rude,
and hardy, were attached to a democracy; the possessors of the plains
were the powerful families who inclined to an oligarchy, although, as
in all aristocracies, many of them united, but with more moderate
views, in the measures of the democratic party; and they who, living
by the coast, were engaged in those commercial pursuits which at once
produce an inclination to liberty, yet a fear of its excess, a
jealousy of the insolence of the nobles, yet an apprehension of the
licentiousness of the mob, arrayed themselves in favour of that mixed
form of government--half oligarchic and half popular--which is usually
the most acceptable to the middle classes of an enterprising people.
But there was a still more fearful division than these, the three
legitimate parties, now existing in Athens: a division, not of
principle, but of feeling--that menacing division which, like the
cracks in the soil, portending earthquake, as it gradually widens, is
the symptom of convulsions that level and destroy,--the division, in
one word, of the rich and the poor--the Havenots and the Haves.  Under
an oligarchy, that most griping and covetous of all forms of
government, the inequality of fortunes had become intolerably
grievous; so greatly were the poor in debt to the rich, that [201]
they were obliged to pay the latter a sixth of the produce of the
land, or else to engage their personal labour to their creditors, who
might seize their persons in default of payment.  Some were thus
reduced to slavery, others sold to foreigners.  Parents disposed of
their children to clear their debts, and many, to avoid servitude, in
stealth deserted the land.  But a large body of the distressed, men
more sturdy and united, resolved to resist the iron pressure of the
law: they formed the design of abolishing debts--dividing the land--
remodelling the commonwealth: they looked around for a leader, and
fixed their hopes on Solon.  In the impatience of the poor, in the
terror of the rich, liberty had lost its charms, and it was no
uncommon nor partial hope that a monarchy might be founded on the
ruins of an oligarchy already menaced with dissolution.

VIII.  Solon acted during these disturbances with more than his usual
sagacity, and therefore, perhaps, with less than his usual energy.  He
held himself backward and aloof, allowing either party to interpret,
as it best pleased, ambiguous and oracular phrases, obnoxious to none,
for he had the advantage of being rich without the odium of extortion,
and popular without the degradation of poverty.  “Phanias the Lesbian”
 (so states the biographer of Solon) “asserts, that to save the state
he intrigued with both parties, promising to the poor a division of
the lands, to the rich a confirmation of their claims;” an assertion
highly agreeable to the finesse and subtlety of his character.
Appearing loath to take upon himself the administration of affairs, it
was pressed upon him the more eagerly; and at length he was elected to
the triple office of archon, arbitrator, and lawgiver; the destinies
of Athens were unhesitatingly placed within his hands; all men hoped
from him all things; opposing parties concurred in urging him to
assume the supreme authority of king; oracles were quoted in his
favour, and his friends asserted, that to want the ambition of a
monarch was to fail in the proper courage of a man.  Thus supported,
thus encouraged, Solon proceeded to his august and immortal task of

IX.  Let us here pause to examine, by such light as is bequeathed us,
the character of Solon.  Agreeably to the theory of his favourite
maxim, which made moderation the essence of wisdom, he seems to have
generally favoured, in politics, the middle party, and, in his own
actions, to have been singular for that energy which is the
equilibrium of indifference and of rashness.  Elevated into supreme
and unquestioned power--urged on all sides to pass from the office of
the legislator to the dignity of the prince--his ambition never passed
the line which his virtue dictated to his genius.  “Tyranny,” said
Solon, “is a fair field, but it has no outlet.”  A subtle, as well as
a noble saying; it implies that he who has once made himself the
master of the state has no option as to the means by which he must
continue his power.  Possessed of that fearful authority, his first
object is to rule, and it becomes a secondary object to rule well.
“Tyranny has, indeed, no outlet!”  The few, whom in modern times we
have seen endowed with a similar spirit of self-control, have
attracted our admiration by their honesty rather than their intellect;
and the skeptic in human virtue has ascribed the purity of Washington
as much to the mediocrity of his genius as to the sincerity of his
patriotism:--the coarseness of vulgar ambition can sympathize but
little with those who refuse a throne.  But in Solon there is no
disparity between the mental and the moral, nor can we account for the
moderation of his views by affecting doubt of the extent of his
powers.  His natural genius was versatile and luxuriant.  As an
orator, he was the first, according to Cicero, who originated the
logical and brilliant rhetoric which afterward distinguished the
Athenians.  As a poet, we have the assurance of Plato that, could he
have devoted himself solely to the art, even Homer would not have
excelled him.  And though these panegyrics of later writers are to be
received with considerable qualification--though we may feel assured
that Solon could never have been either a Demosthenes or a Homer, yet
we have sufficient evidence in his history to prove him to have been
eloquent--sufficient in the few remains of his verses to attest
poetical talent of no ordinary standard.  As a soldier, he seems to
have been a dexterous master of the tactics of that primitive day in
which military science consisted chiefly in the stratagems of a ready
wit and a bold invention.  As a negotiator, the success with which,
out of elements so jarring and distracted, he created an harmonious
system of society and law, is an unanswerable evidence not more of the
soundness of his theories than of his practical knowledge of mankind.
The sayings imputed to him which can be most reasonably considered
authentic evince much delicacy of observation.  Whatever his ideal of
good government, he knew well that great secret of statesmanship,
never to carry speculative doctrines too far beyond the reach of the
age to which they are to be applied.  Asked if he had given the
Athenians the best of laws, his answer was, “The best laws they are
capable of receiving.”  His legislation, therefore, was no vague
collection of inapplicable principles.  While it has been the origin
of all subsequent law,--while, adopted by the Romans, it makes at this
day the universal spirit which animates the codes and constitutions of
Europe--it was moulded to the habits, the manners, and the condition
of the people whom it was intended to enlighten, to harmonize, and to
guide.  He was no gloomy ascetic, such as a false philosophy produces,
affecting the barren sublimity of an indolent seclusion; open of
access to all, free and frank of demeanour, he found wisdom as much in
the market-place as the cell.  He aped no coxcombical contempt of
pleasure, no fanatical disdain of wealth; hospitable, and even
sumptuous, in his habits of life, he seemed desirous of proving that
truly to be wise is honestly to enjoy.  The fragments of his verses
which have come down to us are chiefly egotistical: they refer to his
own private sentiments, or public views, and inform us with a noble
pride, “that, if reproached with his lack of ambition, he finds a
kingdom in the consciousness of his unsullied name.”  With all these
qualities, he apparently united much of that craft and spirit of
artifice which, according to all history, sacred as well as profane,
it was not deemed sinful in patriarch or philosopher to indulge.
Where he could not win his object by reason, he could stoop to attain
it by the affectation of madness.  And this quality of craft was
necessary perhaps, in that age, to accomplish the full utilities of
his career.  However he might feign or dissimulate, the end before him
was invariably excellent and patriotic; and the purity of his private
morals harmonized with that of his political ambition.  What Socrates
was to the philosophy of reflection, Solon was to the philosophy of

X.  The first law that Solon enacted in his new capacity was bold and
decisive.  No revolution can ever satisfy a people if it does not
lessen their burdens.  Poverty disposes men to innovation only because
innovation promises relief.  Solon therefore applied himself
resolutely, and at once, to the great source of dissension between the
rich and the poor--namely, the enormous accumulation of debt which had
been incurred by the latter, with slavery, the penalty of default.  He
induced the creditors to accept the compromise of their debts: whether
absolutely cancelling the amount, or merely reducing the interest and
debasing the coin, is a matter of some dispute; the greater number of
authorities incline to the former supposition, and Plutarch quotes the
words of Solon himself in proof of the bolder hypothesis, although
they by no means warrant such an interpretation.  And to remove for
ever the renewal of the greatest grievance in connexion with the past
distresses, he enacted a law that no man hereafter could sell himself
in slavery for the discharge of a debt.  Even such as were already
enslaved were emancipated, and those sold by their creditors into
foreign countries were ransomed, and restored to their native land,
But, though (from the necessity of the times) Solon went to this
desperate extent of remedy, comparable in our age only to the formal
sanction of a national bankruptcy, he rejected with firmness the wild
desire of a division of lands.  There may be abuses in the contraction
of debts which require far sterner alternatives than the inequalities
of property.  He contented himself in respect to the latter with a law
which set a limit to the purchase of land--a theory of legislation not
sufficiently to be praised, if it were possible to enforce it [202].
At first, these measures fell short of the popular expectation,
excited by the example of Sparta into the hope of an equality of
fortunes: but the reaction soon came.  A public sacrifice was offered
in honour of the discharge of debt, and the authority of the lawgiver
was corroborated and enlarged.  Solon was not one of those politicians
who vibrate alternately between the popular and the aristocratic
principles, imagining that the concession of to-day ought necessarily
to father the denial of to-morrow.  He knew mankind too deeply not to
be aware that there is no statesman whom the populace suspect like the
one who commences authority with a bold reform, only to continue it
with hesitating expedients.  His very next measure was more vigorous
and more unexceptionable than the first.  The  evil of the laws of
Draco was not that they were severe, but that they were inefficient.
In legislation, characters of blood are always traced upon tablets of
sand.  With one stroke Solon annihilated the whole of these laws, with
the exception of that (an ancient and acknowledged ordinance) which
related to homicide; he affixed, in exchange, to various crimes--to
theft, to rape, to slander, to adultery--punishments proportioned to
the offence.  It is remarkable that in the spirit of his laws he
appealed greatly to the sense of honour and the fear of shame, and
made it one of his severest penalties to be styled atimos or
unhonoured--a theory that, while it suited the existent, went far to
ennoble the future, character of the Athenians.  In the same spirit
the children of those who perished in war were educated at the public
charge--arriving at maturity, they were presented with a suit of
armour, settled in their respective callings, and honoured with
principal seats in all public assemblies.  That is a wise principle of
a state which makes us grateful to its pensioners, and bids us regard
in those supported at the public charge the reverent memorials of the
public service [203].  Solon had the magnanimity to preclude, by his
own hand, a dangerous temptation to his own ambition, and assigned
death to the man who aspired to the sole dominion of the commonwealth.
He put a check to the jobbing interests and importunate canvass of
individuals, by allowing no one to propose a law in favour of a single
person, unless he had obtained the votes of six thousand citizens; and
he secured the quiet of a city exposed to the license of powerful
factions, by forbidding men to appear armed in the streets, unless in
cases of imminent exigence.

XI.  The most memorable of Solon’s sayings illustrates the theory of
the social fabric he erected.  When asked how injustice should be
banished from a commonwealth, he answered, “by making all men
interested in the injustice done to each;” an answer imbodying the
whole soul of liberty.  His innovations in the mere forms of the
ancient constitution do not appear to have been considerable; he
rather added than destroyed.  Thus he maintained or revived the senate
of the aristocracy; but to check its authority he created a people.
The four ancient tribes [204], long subdivided into minor sections,
were retained.  Foreigners, who had transported for a permanence their
property and families to Athens, and abandoned all connexion with
their own countries, were admitted to swell the numbers of the free
population.  This made the constituent body.  At the age of eighteen,
each citizen was liable to military duties within the limits of
Attica; at the age of twenty he attained his majority, and became
entitled to a vote in the popular assembly, and to all the other
rights of citizenship.  Every free Athenian of the age of twenty was
thus admitted to a vote in the legislature.  But the possession of a
very considerable estate was necessary to the attainment of the higher
offices.  Thus, while the people exercised universal suffrage in
voting, the choice of candidates was still confined to an oligarchy.
Four distinct ranks were acknowledged; not according, as hitherto, to
hereditary descent, but the possession of property.  They whose income
yielded five hundred measures in any commodity, dry or liquid, were
placed in the first rank, under the title of Pentacosiomedimnians.
The second class, termed Hippeis, knights or horsemen, was composed of
those whose estates yielded three hundred measures.  Each man
belonging to it was obliged to keep a horse for the public service,
and to enlist himself, if called upon, in the cavalry of the military
forces (the members of either of these higher classes were exempt,
however, from serving on board ship, or in the infantry, unless
intrusted with some command.)  The third class was composed of those
possessing two hundred [205] measures, and called Zeugitae; and the
fourth and most numerous class comprehended, under the name of Thetes,
the bulk of the non-enslaved working population, whose property fell
short of the qualification required for the Zeugitae.  Glancing over
these divisions, we are struck by their similarity to the ranks among
our own northern and feudal ancestry, corresponding to the nobles, the
knights, the burgesses, and the labouring classes, which have so long
made, and still constitute, the demarcations of society in modern
Europe.  The members of the first class were alone eligible to the
highest offices as archons, those of the three first classes to the
political assembly of the four hundred (which I shall presently
describe), and to some minor magistracies; the members of the fourth
class were excluded from all office, unless, as they voted in the
popular assembly, they may be said to have had a share in the
legislature, and to exercise, in extraordinary causes, judicial
authority.  At the same time no hereditary barrier excluded them from
the hopes so dear to human aspirations.  They had only to acquire the
necessary fortune in order to enjoy the privileges of their superiors.
And, accordingly, we find, by an inscription on the Acropolis,
recorded in Pollux, that Anthemion, of the lowest class, was suddenly
raised to the rank of knight. [206]

XII.  We perceive, from these divisions of rank, that the main
principle of Solon’s constitution was founded, not upon birth, but
wealth.  He instituted what was called a timocracy, viz., an
aristocracy of property; based upon democratic institutions of popular
jurisdiction, election, and appeal.  Conformably to the principle
which pervades all states, that make property the qualification for
office, to property the general taxation was apportioned.  And this,
upon a graduated scale, severe to the first class, and completely
exonerating the lowest.  The ranks of the citizens thus established,
the constitution acknowledged three great councils or branches of
legislature.  The first was that of the venerable Areopagus.  We have
already seen that this institution had long existed among the
Athenians; but of late it had fallen into some obscurity or neglect,
and was not even referred to in the laws of Draco.  Solon continued
the name of the assembly, but remodelled its constitution.  Anciently
it had probably embraced all the Eupatrids.  Solon defined the claims
of the aspirants to that official dignity, and ordained that no one
should be admitted to the areopagus who had not filled the situation
of archon--an ordeal which implied not only the necessity of the
highest rank, but, as I shall presently note, of sober character and
unblemished integrity.

The remotest traditions clothed the very name of this assembly with
majesty and awe.  Holding their council on the sacred hill consecrated
to Mars, fable asserted that the god of battle had himself been
arraigned before its tribunal.  Solon exerted his imagination to
sustain the grandeur of its associations.  Every distinction was
lavished upon senators, who, in the spirit of his laws, could only
pass from the temple of virtue to that of honour.  Before their
jurisdiction all species of crime might be arraigned--they had equal
power to reward and to punish.  From the guilt of murder to the
negative offence of idleness [207], their control extended--the
consecration of altars to new deities, the penalties affixed to
impiety, were at their decision, and in their charge.  Theirs was the
illimitable authority to scrutinize the lives of men--they attended
public meetings and solemn sacrifices, to preserve order by the
majesty of their presence.  The custody of the laws and the management
of the public funds, the superintendence of the education of youth,
were committed to their care.  Despite their power, they interfered
but little in the management of political affairs, save in cases of
imminent danger.  Their duties, grave, tranquil, and solemn, held them
aloof from the stir of temporary agitation.  They were the last great
refuge of the state, to which, on common occasions, it was almost
profanity to appeal.  Their very demeanour was modelled to harmonize
with the reputation of their virtues and the dignity of their office.
It was forbidden to laugh in their assembly--no archon who had been
seen in a public tavern could be admitted to their order [208], and
for an areopagite to compose a comedy was a matter of special
prohibition [209].  They sat in the open air, in common with all
courts having cognizance of murder.  If the business before them was
great and various, they were wont to divide themselves into
committees, to each of which the several causes were assigned by lot,
so that no man knowing the cause he was to adjudge could be assailed
with the imputation of dishonest or partial prepossession.  After duly
hearing both parties, they gave their judgment with proverbial gravity
and silence.  The institution of the ballot (a subsequent custom)
afforded secrecy to their award--a proceeding necessary amid the
jealousy and power of factions, to preserve their judgment unbiased by
personal fear, and the abolition of which, we shall see hereafter, was
among the causes that crushed for a while the liberties of Athens.  A
brazen urn received the suffrages of condemnation--one of wood those
of acquittal.  Such was the character and constitution of the

XIII.  The second legislative council ordained or revived by Solon,
consisted of a senate, composed, first of four hundred, and many years
afterward of five hundred members.  To this council all, save the
lowest and most numerous class, were eligible, provided they had
passed or attained the age of thirty.  It was rather a chance assembly
than a representative one.  The manner of its election appears not
more elaborate than clumsy.  To every ward there was a president,
called phylarchus.  This magistrate, on a certain day in the year,
gave in the names of all the persons within his district entitled to
the honour of serving in the council, and desirous of enjoying it.
These names were inscribed on brazen tablets, and cast into a certain
vessel.  In another vessel was placed an equal number of beans;
supposing the number of candidates to be returned by each tribe to be
(as it at first was) a hundred, there were one hundred white beans put
into the vessel--the rest were black.  Then the names of the
candidates and the beans were drawn out one by one; and each candidate
who had the good fortune to have his name drawn out together with a
white bean, became a member of the senate.  Thus the constitution of
each succeeding senate might differ from the last--might, so far from
representing the people, contradict their wishes--was utterly a matter
of hazard and chance; and when Mr. Mitford informs us that the
assembly of the people was the great foundation of evil in the
Athenian constitution, it appears that to the capricious and
unsatisfactory election of this council we may safely impute many of
the inconsistencies and changes which that historian attributes
entirely to the more popular assembly [211].  To this council were
intrusted powers less extensive in theory than those of the Areopagus,
but far more actively exerted.  Its members inspected the fleet (when
a fleet was afterward established)--they appointed jailers of prisons
--they examined the accounts of magistrates at the termination of
their office; these were minor duties; to them was allotted also an
authority in other departments of a much higher and more complicated
nature.  To them was given the dark and fearful extent of power which
enabled them to examine and to punish persons accused of offences
unspecified by any peculiar law [212]--an ordinance than which, had
less attention been paid to popular control, the wildest ambition of
despotism would have required no broader base for its designs.  A
power to punish crimes unspecified by law is a power above law, and
ignorance or corruption may easily distort innocence itself into
crime.  But the main duty of the Four Hundred was to prepare the laws
to be submitted to the assembly of the people--the great popular
tribunal which we are about presently to consider.  Nor could any law,
according to Solon, be introduced into that assembly until it had
undergone the deliberation, and received the sanction, of this
preliminary council.  With them, therefore, was THE ORIGIN OF ALL
LEGISLATION.  In proportion to these discretionary powers was the
examination the members of the council underwent.  Previous to the
admission of any candidate, his life, his character, and his actions
were submitted to a vigorous scrutiny [213].  The senators then took a
solemn oath that they would endeavour to promote the public good, and
the highest punishment they were allowed to inflict was a penalty of
five hundred drachma.  If that punishment were deemed by them
insufficient, the criminal was referred to the regular courts of law.
At the expiration of their trust, which expired with each year, the
senators gave an account of their conduct, and the senate itself
punished any offence of its members; so severe were its inflictions,
that a man expelled from the senate was eligible as a judge--a proof
that expulsion was a punishment awarded to no heinous offence. [214]

The members of each tribe presided in turn over the rest [215] under
the name of prytanes.  It was the duty of the prytanes to assemble the
senate, which was usually every day, and to keep order in the great
assembly of the people.  These were again subdivided into the proedri,
who presided weekly over the rest, while one of this number, appointed
by lot, was the chief president (or Epistates) of the whole council;
to him were intrusted the keys of the citadel and the treasury, and a
wholesome jealousy of this twofold trust limited its exercise to a
single day.  Each member gave notice in writing of any motion he
intended to make--the prytanes had the prior right to propound the
question, and afterward it became matter of open discussion--they
decided by ballot whether to reject or adopt it; if accepted, it was
then submitted to the assembly of the people, who ratified or refused
the law which they might not originate.

Such was the constitution of the Athenian council, one resembling in
many points to the common features of all modern legislative

XIV.  At the great assembly of the people, to which we now arrive, all
freemen of the age of discretion, save only those branded by law with
the opprobrium of atimos (unhonoured) [216], were admissible.  At the
time of Solon, this assembly was by no means of the importance to
which it afterward arose.  Its meetings were comparatively rare, and
no doubt it seldom rejected the propositions of the Four Hundred.  But
whenever different legislative assemblies exist, and popular control
is once constitutionally acknowledged, it is in the nature of things
that the more democratic assembly should absorb the main business of
the more aristocratic.  A people are often enslaved by the accident of
a despot, but almost ever gain upon the checks which the constitution
is intended habitually to oppose.  In the later time, the assembly met
four times in five weeks (at least, during the period in which the
tribes were ten in number), that is, during the presidence of each
prytanea.  The first time of their meeting they heard matters of
general import, approved or rejected magistrates, listened to
accusations of grave political offences [217], as well as the
particulars of any confiscation of goods.  The second time was
appropriated to affairs relative as well to individuals as the
community; and it was lawful for every man either to present a
petition or share in a debate.  The third time of meeting was devoted
to the state audience of ambassadors.  The fourth, to matters of
religious worship or priestly ceremonial.  These four periodical
meetings, under the name of Curia, made the common assembly, requiring
no special summons, and betokening no extraordinary emergency.  But
besides these regular meetings, upon occasions of unusual danger, or
in cases requiring immediate discussion, the assembly of the people
might also be convened by formal proclamation; and in this case it was
termed “Sugkletos,” which we may render by the word convocation.  The
prytanes, previous to the meeting of the assembly, always placarded in
some public place a programme of the matters on which the people were
to consult.  The persons presiding over the meeting were proedri,
chosen by lot from the nine tribes, excluded at the time being from
the office of prytanes; out of their number a chief president (or
epistates) was elected also by lot.  Every effort was made to compel a
numerous attendance, and each man attending received a small coin for
his trouble [218], a practice fruitful in jests to the comedians.  The
prytanes might forbid a man of notoriously bad character to speak.
The chief president gave the signal for their decision.  In ordinary
cases they held up their hands, voting openly; but at a later period,
in cases where intimidation was possible, such as in the offences of
men of power and authority, they voted in secret.  They met usually in
the vast arena of their market-place. [219]

XV.  Recapitulating the heads of that complex constitution I have thus
detailed, the reader will perceive that the legislative power rested
in three assemblies--the Areopagus, the Council, and the Assembly of
the People--that the first, notwithstanding its solemn dignity and
vast authority, seldom interfered in the active, popular, and daily
politics of the state--that the second originated laws, which the
third was the great Court of Appeal to sanction or reject.  The great
improvement of modern times has been to consolidate the two latter
courts in one, and to unite in a representative senate the sagacity of
a deliberative council with the interests of a popular assembly;--the
more closely we blend these objects, the more perfectly, perhaps, we
attain, by the means of wisdom, the ends of liberty.

XVI.  But although in a senate composed by the determinations of
chance, and an assembly which from its numbers must ever have been
exposed to the agitation of eloquence and the caprices of passion,
there was inevitably a crude and imperfect principle,--although two
courts containing in themselves the soul and element of contradiction
necessarily wanted that concentrated oneness of purpose propitious to
the regular and majestic calmness of legislation, we cannot but allow
the main theory of the system to have been precisely that most
favourable to the prodigal exuberance of energy, of intellect, and of
genius.  Summoned to consultation upon all matters, from the greatest
to the least, the most venerable to the most trite--to-day deciding on
the number of their war-ships, to-morrow on that of a tragic chorus;
now examining with jealous forethought the new harriers to
oligarchical ambition;--now appointing, with nice distinction, to
various service the various combinations of music [220];--now
welcoming in their forum-senate the sober ambassadors of Lacedaemon or
the jewelled heralds of Persia, now voting their sanction to new
temples or the reverent reforms of worship; compelled to a lively and
unceasing interest in all that arouses the mind, or elevates the
passions, or refines the taste;--supreme arbiters of the art of the
sculptor, as the science of the lawgiver,--judges and rewarders of the
limner and the poet, as of the successful negotiator or the prosperous
soldier; we see at once the all-accomplished, all-versatile genius of
the nation, and we behold in the same glance the effect and the
cause:--every thing being referred to the people, the people learned
of every thing to judge.  Their genius was artificially forced, and in
each of its capacities.  They had no need of formal education.  Their
whole life was one school.  The very faults of their assembly, in its
proneness to be seduced by extraordinary eloquence, aroused the
emulation of the orator, and kept constantly awake the imagination of
the audience.  An Athenian was, by the necessity of birth, what Milton
dreamed that man could only become by the labours of completest
education: in peace a legislator, in war a soldier,--in all times, on
all occasions, acute to judge and resolute to act.  All that can
inspire the thought or delight the leisure were for the people.
Theirs were the portico and the school--theirs the theatre, the
gardens, and the baths; they were not, as in Sparta, the tools of the
state--they were the state!  Lycurgus made machines and Solon men.  In
Sparta the machine was to be wound up by the tyranny of a fixed
principle; it could not dine as it pleased--it could not walk as it
pleased--it was not permitted to seek its she machine save by stealth
and in the dark; its children were not its own--even itself had no
property in self.  Sparta incorporated, under the name of freedom, the
worst complexities, the most grievous and the most frivolous
vexations, of slavery.  And therefore was it that Lacedaemon
flourished and decayed, bequeathing to fame men only noted for hardy
valour, fanatical patriotism, and profound but dishonourable craft--
attracting, indeed, the wonder of the world, but advancing no claim to
its gratitude, and contributing no single addition to its intellectual
stores.  But in Athens the true blessing of freedom was rightly
placed--in the opinions and the soul.  Thought was the common heritage
which every man might cultivate at his will.  This unshackled liberty
had its convulsions and its excesses, but producing unceasing
emulation and unbounded competition, an incentive to every effort, a
tribunal to every claim, it broke into philosophy with the one--into
poetry with the other--into the energy and splendour of unexampled
intelligence with all.  Looking round us at this hour, more than
four-and-twenty centuries after the establishment of the constitution we
have just surveyed,--in the labours of the student--in the dreams of the
poet--in the aspirations of the artist--in the philosophy of the
legislator--we yet behold the imperishable blessings we derive from the
liberties of Athens and the institutions of Solon.  The life of Athens
became extinct, but her soul transfused itself, immortal and
immortalizing, through the world.

XVII.  The penal code of Solon was founded on principles wholly
opposite to those of Draco.  The scale of punishment was moderate,
though sufficiently severe.  One distinction will suffice to give us
an adequate notion of its gradations.  Theft by day was not a capital
offence, but if perpetrated by night the felon might lawfully be slain
by the owner.  The tendency to lean to the side of mercy in all cases
may be perceived from this--that if the suffrages of the judges were
evenly divided, it was the custom in all the courts of Athens to
acquit the accused.  The punishment of death was rare; that of atimia
supplied its place.  Of the different degrees of atimia it is not my
purpose to speak at present.  By one degree, however, the offender was
merely suspended from some privilege of freedom enjoyed by the
citizens generally, or condemned to a pecuniary fine; the second
degree allowed the confiscation of goods; the third for ever deprived
the criminal and his posterity of the rights of a citizen: this last
was the award only of aggravated offences.  Perpetual exile was a
sentence never passed but upon state criminals.  The infliction of
fines, which became productive of great abuse in later times, was
moderately apportioned to offences in the time of Solon, partly from
the high price of money, but partly, also, from the wise moderation of
the lawgiver.  The last grave penalty of death was of various kinds,
as the cross, the gibbet, the precipice, the bowl--afflictions seldom
in reserve for the freemen.

As the principle of shame was a main instrument of the penal code of
the Athenians, so they endeavoured to attain the same object by the
sublimer motive of honour.  Upon the even balance of rewards that
stimulate, and penalties that deter, Solon and his earlier successors
conceived the virtue of the commonwealth to rest.  A crown presented
by the senate or the people--a public banquet in the hall of state--
the erection of a statue in the thoroughfares (long a most rare
distinction)--the privilege of precedence in the theatre or assembly--
were honours constantly before the eyes of the young and the hopes of
the ambitious.  The sentiment of honour thus became a guiding
principle of the legislation, and a large component of the character
of the Athenians.

XVIII.  Judicial proceedings, whether as instituted by Solon or as
corrupted by his successors, were exposed to some grave and vital
evils hereafter to be noticed.  At present I content myself with
observing, that Solon carried into the judicial the principles, of his
legislative courts.  It was his theory, that all the citizens should
be trained to take an interest in state.  Every year a body of six
thousand citizens was chosen by lot; no qualification save that of
being thirty years of age was demanded in this election.  The body
thus chosen, called Heliaea, was subdivided into smaller courts,
before which all offences, but especially political ones, might be
tried.  Ordinary cases were probably left by Solon to the ordinary
magistrates; but it was not long before the popular jurors drew to
themselves the final trial and judgment of all causes.  This judicial
power was even greater than the legislative; for if an act had passed
through all the legislative forms, and was, within a year of the date,
found inconsistent with the constitution or public interests, the
popular courts could repeal the act and punish its author.  In Athens
there were no professional lawyers; the law being supposed the common
interest of citizens, every encouragement was given to the prosecutor
--every facility to the obtaining of justice.

Solon appears to have recognised the sound principle, that the
strength of law is in the public disposition to cherish and revere
it,--and that nothing is more calculated to make permanent the general
spirit of a constitution than to render its details flexile and open
to reform.  Accordingly, he subjected his laws to the vigilance of
regular and constant revision.  Once a year, proposals for altering
any existent law might be made by any citizen--were debated--and, if
approved, referred to a legislative committee, drawn by lot from the
jurors.  The committee then sat in judgment on the law; five advocates
were appointed to plead for the old law; if unsuccessful, the new law
came at once into operation.  In addition to this precaution, six of
the nine archons (called Thesmothetae), whose office rendered them
experienced in the defects of the law, were authorized to review the
whole code, and to refer to the legislative committee the
consideration of any errors or inconsistencies that might require
amendment. [221]

XIX.  With respect to the education of youth, the wise Athenian did
not proceed upon the principles which in Sparta attempted to transfer
to the state the dearest privileges of a parent.  From the age of
sixteen to eighteen (and earlier in the case of orphans) the law,
indeed, seems to have considered that the state had a right to prepare
its citizens for its service; and the youth was obliged to attend
public gymnastic schools, in which, to much physical, some
intellectual, discipline was added, under masters publicly nominated.
But from the very circumstance of compulsory education at that age,
and the absence of it in childhood, we may suppose that there had
already grown up in Athens a moral obligation and a general custom, to
prepare the youth of the state for the national schools.

Besides the free citizens, there were two subordinate classes--the
aliens and the slaves.  By the first are meant those composed of
settlers, who had not relinquished connexion with their native
countries.  These, as universally in Greece, were widely distinguished
from the citizens; they paid a small annual sum for the protection of
the state, and each became a kind of client to some individual
citizen, who appeared for him in the courts of justice.  They were
also forbidden to purchase land; but for the rest, Solon, himself a
merchant, appears to have given to such aliens encouragements in trade
and manufacture not usual in that age; and most of their disabilities
were probably rather moral or imaginary than real and daily causes of
grievance.  The great and paramount distinction was between the
freeman and the slave.  No slave could be admitted as a witness,
except by torture; as for him there was no voice in the state, so for
him there was no tenderness in the law.  But though the slave might
not avenge himself on the master, the system of slavery avenged itself
on the state.  The advantages to the intellect of the free citizens
resulting from the existence of a class maintained to relieve them
from the drudgeries of life, were dearly purchased by the constant
insecurity of their political repose.  The capital of the rich could
never be directed to the most productive of all channels--the labour
of free competition.  The noble did not employ citizens--he purchased
slaves.  Thus the commonwealth derived the least possible advantage
from his wealth; it did not flow through the heart of the republic,
employing the idle and feeding the poor.  As a necessary consequence,
the inequalities of fortune were sternly visible and deeply felt.  The
rich man had no connexion with the poor man--the poor man hated him
for a wealth of which he did not (as in states where slavery does not
exist) share the blessings--purchasing by labour the advantages of
fortune.  Hence the distinction of classes defied the harmonizing
effects of popular legislation.  The rich were exposed to unjust and
constant exactions; and society was ever liable to be disorganized by
attacks upon property.  There was an eternal struggle between the
jealousies of the populace and the fears of the wealthy; and many of
the disorders which modern historians inconsiderately ascribe to the
institutions of freedom were in reality the growth of the existence of


The Departure of Solon from Athens.--The Rise of Pisistratus.--Return
of Solon.--His Conduct and Death.--The Second and Third Tyranny of
Pisistratus.--Capture of Sigeum.--Colony in the Chersonesus founded by
the first Miltiades.--Death of Pisistratus.

I.  Although the great constitutional reforms of Solon were no doubt
carried into effect during his archonship, yet several of his
legislative and judicial enactments were probably the work of years.
When we consider the many interests to conciliate, the many prejudices
to overcome, which in all popular states cripple and delay the
progress of change in its several details, we find little difficulty
in supposing, with one of the most luminous of modern scholars [222],
that Solon had ample occupation for twenty years after the date of his
archonship.  During this period little occurred in the foreign affairs
of Athens save the prosperous termination of the Cirrhaean war, as
before recorded.  At home the new constitution gradually took root,
although often menaced and sometimes shaken by the storms of party and
the general desire for further innovation.

The eternal consequence of popular change is, that while it irritates
the party that loses power, it cannot content the party that gains.
It is obvious that each concession to the people but renders them
better able to demand concessions more important.  The theories of
some--the demands of others--harassed the lawgiver, and threatened the
safety of the laws.  Solon, at length, was induced to believe that his
ordinances required the sanction and repose of time, and that absence
--that moral death--would not only free himself from importunity, but
his infant institutions from the frivolous disposition of change.  In
his earlier years he had repaired, by commercial pursuits, estates
that had been empoverished by the munificence of his father; and,
still cultivating the same resources, he made pretence of his vocation
to solicit permission for an absence of ten years.  He is said to
have obtained a solemn promise from the people to alter none of his
institutions during that period [223]; and thus he departed from the
city (probably B. C. 575), of whose future glories he had laid the
solid foundation.  Attracted by his philosophical habits to that
solemn land, beneath whose mysteries the credulous Greeks revered the
secrets of existent wisdom, the still adventurous Athenian repaired to
the cities of the Nile, and fed the passion of speculative inquiry
from the learning of the Egyptian priests.  Departing thence to
Cyprus, he assisted, as his own verses assure us, in the planning of a
new city, founded by one of the kings of that beautiful island, and
afterward invited to the court of Croesus (associated with his father
Alyattes, then living), he imparted to the Lydian, amid the splendours
of state and the adulation of slaves, that well-known lesson on the
uncertainty of human grandeur, which, according to Herodotus, Croesus
so seasonably remembered at the funeral pile. [224]

II.  However prudent had appeared to Solon his absence from Athens, it
is to be lamented that he did not rather brave the hazards from which
his genius might have saved the state, than incur those which the very
removal of a master-spirit was certain to occasion.  We may bind men
not to change laws, but we cannot bind the spirit and the opinion,
from which laws alone derive cogency or value.  We may guard against
the innovations of a multitude, which a wise statesman sees afar off,
and may direct to great ends; but we cannot guard against that
dangerous accident--not to be foreseen, not to be directed--the
ambition of a man of genius!  During the absence of Solon there rose
into eminence one of those remarkable persons who give to vicious
designs all the attraction of individual virtues.  Bold, generous,
affable, eloquent, endowed with every gift of nature and fortune--
kinsman to Solon, but of greater wealth and more dazzling qualities--
the young Pisistratus, son of Hippocrates, early connected himself
with the democratic or highland party.  The Megarians, who had never
relinquished their designs on Salamis, had taken an opportunity,
apparently before the travels, and, according to Plutarch, even before
the legislation of Solon, to repossess themselves of the island.  When
the Athenians were enabled to extend their energies beyond their own
great domestic revolution, Pisistratus obtained the command of an
expedition against these dangerous neighbours, which was attended with
the most signal success.  A stratagem referred to Solon by Plutarch,
who has with so contagious an inaccuracy blended into one the two
several and distinct expeditions of Pisistratus and Solon, ought
rather to be placed to the doubtful glory of the son of Hippocrates
[225].  A number of young men sailed with Pisistratus to Colias, and
taking the dress of women, whom they there seized while sacrificing to
Ceres, a spy was despatched to Salamis, to inform the Megarian guard
that many of the principal Athenian matrons were at Colias, and might
be easily captured.  The Megarians were decoyed, despatched a body of
men to the opposite shore, and beholding a group in women’s attire
dancing by the strand, landed confusedly to seize the prize.  The
pretended females drew forth their concealed weapons, and the
Megarians, surprised and dismayed, were cut off to a man.  The victors
lost no time in setting sail for Salamis, and easily regained the
isle.  Pisistratus carried the war into Megara itself, and captured
the port of Nisaea.  These exploits were the foundation of his after
greatness; and yet young, at the return of Solon, he was already at
the head of the democratic party.  But neither his rank, his genius,
nor his popular influence sufficed to give to his faction a decided
eminence over those of his rivals.  The wealthy nobles of the lowlands
were led by Lycurgus--the moderate party of the coastmen by Megacles,
the head of the Alcmaeonidae.  And it was in the midst, of the strife
and agitation produced by these great sections of the people that
Solon returned to Athens.

III.  The venerable legislator was received with all the grateful
respect he deserved; but age had dimmed the brilliancy of his powers.
His voice could no longer penetrate the mighty crowds of the
market-place.  New idols had sprung up--new passions were loosed--new
interests formed, and amid the roar and stir of the eternal movement,
it was in vain for the high-hearted old man to recall those rushing on
the future to the boundaries of the past.  If unsuccessful in public,
he was not discouraged from applying in private to the leaders of the
several parties.  Of all those rival nobles, none deferred to his
advice with so marked a respect as the smooth and plausible
Pisistratus.  Perhaps, indeed, that remarkable man contemplated the
same objects as Solon himself,--although the one desired to effect by
the authority of the chief, the order and the energy which the other
would have trusted to the development of the people.  But, masking his
more interested designs, Pisistratus outbid all competition in his
seeming zeal for the public welfare.  The softness of his manners--his
profuse liberality--his generosity even to his foes--the splendid
qualities which induced Cicero to compare him to Julius Cesar [226],
charmed the imagination of the multitude, and concealed the
selfishness of his views.  He was not a hypocrite, indeed, as to his
virtues--a dissembler only in his ambition.  Even Solon, in
endeavouring to inspire him with a true patriotism, acknowledged his
talents and his excellences.  “But for ambition,” said he, “Athens
possesses no citizen worthier than Pisistratus.”  The time became ripe
for the aspiring projects of the chief of the democracy.

IV.  The customary crowd was swarming in the market-place, when
suddenly in the midst of the assembly appeared the chariot of
Pisistratus.  The mules were bleeding--Pisistratus himself was
wounded.  In this condition the demagogue harangued the people.  He
declared that he had just escaped from the enemies of himself and the
popular party, who (under the auspices of the Alcmaeonidae) had
attacked him in a country excursion.  He reminded the crowd of his
services in war--his valour against the Megarians--his conquest of
Nisaea.  He implored their protection.  Indignant and inflamed, the
favouring audience shouted their sympathy with his wrongs.  “Son of
Hippocrates,” said Solon, advancing to the spot, and with bitter wit,
“you are but a bad imitator of Ulysses.  He wounded himself to delude
his enemies--you to deceive your countrymen.” [227]  The sagacity of
the reproach was unheeded by the crowd.  A special assembly of the
people was convened, and a partisan of the demagogue moved that a
body-guard of fifty men, armed but with clubs, should be assigned to
his protection.  Despite the infirmities of his age, and the decrease
of his popular authority, Solon had the energy to oppose the motion,
and predict its results.  The credulous love of the people swept away
all precaution--the guard was granted.  Its number did not long
continue stationary; Pisistratus artfully increased the amount, till
it swelled to the force required by his designs.  He then seized the
citadel--the antagonist faction of Megacles fled--and Pisistratus was
master of Athens.  Amid the confusion and tumult of the city, Solon
retained his native courage.  He appeared in public--harangued the
citizens--upbraided their blindness--invoked their courage.  In his
speeches he bade them remember that if it be the more easy task to
prevent tyranny, it is the more glorious achievement to destroy it.
In his verses [228] he poured forth the indignant sentiment which a
thousand later bards have borrowed and enlarged; “Blame not Heaven for
your tyrants, blame yourselves.”  The fears of some, the indifference
of others, rendered his exhortations fruitless!  The brave old man
sorrowfully retreated to his house, hung up his weapons without his
door, and consoled himself with the melancholy boast that “he had done
all to save his country, and its laws.”  This was his last public
effort against the usurper.  He disdained flight; and, asked by his
friends to what he trusted for safety from the wrath of the victor,
replied, “To old age,”--a sad reflection, that so great a man should
find in infirmity that shelter which he claimed from glory.

V.  The remaining days and the latter conduct of Solon are involved in
obscurity.  According to Plutarch, he continued at Athens, Pisistratus
showing him the utmost respect, and listening to the counsel which
Solon condescended to bestow upon him: according to Diogenes Laertius,
he departed again from his native city [229], indignant at its
submission, and hopeless of its freedom, refusing all overtures from
Pisistratus, and alleging that, having established a free government,
he would not appear to sanction the success of a tyrant.  Either
account is sufficiently probable.  The wisdom of Solon might consent
to mitigate what he could not cure, or his patriotism might urge him
to avoid witnessing the changes he had no power to prevent.  The
dispute is of little importance.  At his advanced age he could not
have long survived the usurpation of Pisistratus, nor can we find any
authority for the date of his death so entitled to credit as that of
Phanias, who assigns it to the year following the usurpation of
Pisistratus.  The bright race was already run.  According to the grave
authority of Aristotle, the ashes of Solon were scattered over the
Isle of Salamis, which had been the scene of his earlier triumphs; and
Athens, retaining his immortal, boasted not his perishable remains.

VI.  Pisistratus directed with admirable moderation the courses of the
revolution he had produced.  Many causes of success were combined in
his favour.  His enemies had been the supposed enemies of the people,
and the multitude doubtless beheld the flight of the Alcmaeonidae
(still odious in their eyes by the massacre of Cylon) as the defeat of
a foe, while the triumph of the popular chief was recognised as the
victory of the people.  In all revolutions the man who has sided with
the people is permitted by the people the greatest extent of license.
It is easy to perceive, by the general desire which the Athenians had
expressed for the elevation of Solon to the supreme authority that the
notion of regal authority was not yet hateful to them, and that they
were scarcely prepared for the liberties with which they were
intrusted.  But although they submitted thus patiently to the
ascendency of Pisistratus, it is evident that a less benevolent or
less artful tyrant would not have been equally successful.  Raised
above the law, that subtle genius governed only by the law; nay, he
affected to consider its authority greater than his own.  He assumed
no title--no attribute of sovereignty.  He was accused of murder, and
he humbly appeared before the tribunal of the Areopagus--a proof not
more of the moderation of the usurper than of the influence of public
opinion.  He enforced the laws of Solon, and compelled the unruly
tempers of his faction to subscribe to their wholesome rigour.  The
one revolution did not, therefore, supplant, it confirmed, the other.
“By these means,” says Herodotus, “Pisistratus mastered Athens, and
yet his situation was far from secure.” [230]

VII.  Although the heads of the more moderate party, under Megacles,
had been expelled from Athens, yet the faction, equally powerful and
equally hostile, headed by Lycurgus, and embraced by the bulk of the
nobles, still remained.  For a time, extending perhaps to five or six
years, Pisistratus retained his power; but at length, Lycurgus,
uniting with the exiled Alcmaeonidae, succeeded in expelling him from
the city.  But the union that had led to his expulsion ceased with
that event.  The contests between the lowlanders and the coastmen were
only more inflamed by the defeat of the third party, which had
operated as a balance of power, and the broils of their several
leaders were fed by personal ambition as by hereditary animosities.
Megacles, therefore, unable to maintain equal ground with Lycurgus,
turned his thoughts towards the enemy he had subdued, and sent
proposals to Pisistratus, offering to unite their forces, and to
support him in his pretensions to the tyranny, upon condition that the
exiled chief should marry his daughter Coesyra.  Pisistratus readily
acceded to the terms, and it was resolved by a theatrical pageant to
reconcile his return to the people.  In one of the boroughs of the
city there was a woman named Phya, of singular beauty and lofty
stature.  Clad in complete armour, and drawn in a chariot, this woman
was conducted with splendour and triumph towards the city.  By her
side rode Pisistratus--heralds preceded their march, and proclaimed
her approach, crying aloud to the Athenians “to admit Pisistratus, the
favourite of Minerva, for that the goddess herself had come to earth
on his behalf.”

The sagacity of the Athenians was already so acute, and the artifice
appeared to Herodotus so gross, that the simple Halicarnassean could
scarcely credit the authenticity of this tale.  But it is possible
that the people viewed the procession as an ingenious allegory, to the
adaptation of which they were already disposed; and that, like the
populace of a later and yet more civilized people, they hailed the
goddess while they recognised the prostitute [231].  Be that as it
may, the son of Hippocrates recovered his authority, and fulfilled his
treaty with Megacles by a marriage with his daughter.  Between the
commencement of his first tyranny and the date of his second return,
there was probably an interval of twelve years.  His sons were already
adults.  Partly from a desire not to increase his family, partly from
some superstitious disinclination to the blood of the Alcmaeonidae,
which the massacre of Cylon still stigmatized with contamination,
Pisistratus conducted himself towards the fair Coesyra with a chastity
either unwelcome to her affection, or afflicting to her pride.  The
unwedded wife communicated the mortifying secret to her mother, from
whose lips it soon travelled to the father.  He did not view the
purity of Pisistratus with charitable eyes.  He thought it an affront
to his own person that that of his daughter should be so tranquilly
regarded.  He entered into a league with his former opponents against
the usurper, and so great was the danger, that Pisistratus (despite
his habitual courage) betook himself hastily to flight:--a strange
instance of the caprice of human events, that a man could with a
greater impunity subdue the freedom of his country, than affront the
vanity of his wife! [232]

VIII.  Pisistratus, his sons and partisans, retired to Eretria in
Euboea: there they deliberated as to their future proceedings--should
they submit to their exile, or attempt to retrieve, their power?  The
councils of his son Hippias prevailed with Pisistratus; it was
resolved once more to attempt the sovereignty of Athens.  The
neighbouring tribes assisted the exiles with forage and shelter.  Many
cities accorded the celebrated noble large sums of money, and the
Thebans outdid the rest in pernicious liberality.  A troop of Argive
adventurers came from the Peloponnesus to tender to the baffled
usurper the assistance of their swords, and Lygdamis, an individual of
Naxos, himself ambitious of the government of his native state,
increased his resources both by money and military force.  At length,
though after a long and tedious period of no less than eleven years,
Pisistratus resolved to hazard the issue of open war.  At the head of
a foreign force he advanced to Marathon, and pitched his tents upon
its immortal plain.  Troops of the factious or discontented thronged
from Athens to his camp, while the bulk of the citizens, unaffected ay
such desertions, viewed his preparations with indifference.  At
length, when they heard that Pisistratus had broken up his encampment,
and was on his march to the city, the Athenians awoke from their
apathy, and collected their forces to oppose him.  He continued to
advance his troops, halted at the temple of Minerva, whose earthly
representative had once so benignly assisted him, and pitched his
tents opposite the fane.  He took advantage of that time in which the
Athenians, during the heats of the day, were at their entertainments,
or indulging the noontide repose, still so grateful to the inhabitants
of a warmer climate, to commence his attack.  He soon scattered the
foe, and ordered his sons to overtake them in their flight, to bid
them return peacefully to their employments, and fear nothing from his
vengeance.  His clemency assisted the effect of his valour, and once
more the son of Hippocrates became the master of the Athenian

IX.  Pisistratus lost no time in strengthening himself by formidable
alliances.  He retained many auxiliary troops, and provided large
pecuniary resources [233].  He spared the persons of his opponents,
but sent their children as hostages to Naxos, which he first reduced
and consigned to the tyranny of his auxiliary, Lygdamis.  Many of his
inveterate enemies had perished on the field--many fled from the fear
of his revenge.  He was undisturbed in the renewal of his sway, and
having no motive for violence, pursued the natural bent of a mild and
generous disposition, ruling as one who wishes men to forget the means
by which his power has been attained.  Pisistratus had that passion
for letters which distinguished most of the more brilliant Athenians.
Although the poems of Homer were widely known and deeply venerated
long before his time, yet he appears, by a more accurate collection
and arrangement of them, and probably by bringing them into a more
general and active circulation in Athens, to have largely added to the
wonderful impetus to poetical emulation, which those immortal writings
were calculated to give.

When we consider how much, even in our own times, and with all the
advantages of the press, the diffused fame and intellectual influence
of Shakspeare and Milton have owed to the praise and criticism of
individuals, we may readily understand the kind of service rendered by
Pisistratus to Homer.  The very example of so eminent a man would have
drawn upon the poet a less vague and more inquiring species of
admiration; the increased circulation of copies--the more frequent
public recitals--were advantages timed at that happy season when the
people who enjoyed them had grown up from wondering childhood to
imitative and studious youth.  And certain it is, that from this
period we must date the marked and pervading influence of Homer upon
Athenian poetry; for the renown of a poet often precedes by many
generations the visible influence of his peculiar genius.  It is
chiefly within the last seventy years that we may date the wonderful
effect that Shakspeare was destined to produce upon the universal
intellect of Europe.  The literary obligations of Athens to
Pisistratus were not limited to his exertions on behalf of Homer: he
is said to have been the first in Greece who founded a public library,
rendering its treasures accessible to all.  And these two benefits
united, justly entitle the fortunate usurper to the praise of first
calling into active existence that intellectual and literary spirit
which became diffused among the Athenian people, and originated the
models and masterpieces of the world.  It was in harmony with this
part of his character that Pisistratus refitted the taste and
socialized the habits of the citizens, by the erection of buildings
dedicated to the public worship, or the public uses, and laid out the
stately gardens of the Lyceum--(in after-times the favourite haunt of
philosophy), by the banks of the river dedicated to song.  Pisistratus
did thus more than continue the laws of Solon--he inculcated the
intellectual habits which the laws were designed to create.  And as in
the circle of human events the faults of one man often confirm what
was begun by the virtues of another, so perhaps the usurpation of
Pisistratus was necessary to establish the institutions of Solon.  It
is clear that the great lawgiver was not appreciated at the close of
his life; as his personal authority had ceased to have influence, so
possibly might have soon ceased the authority of his code.  The
citizens required repose to examine, to feel, to estimate the
blessings of his laws--that repose they possessed under Pisistratus.
Amid the tumult of fierce and equipoised factions it might be
fortunate that a single individual was raised above the rest, who,
having the wisdom to appreciate the institutions of Solon, had the
authority to enforce them.  Silently they grew up under his usurped
but benignant sway, pervading, penetrating, exalting the people, and
fitting them by degrees to the liberty those institutions were
intended to confer.  If the disorders of the republic led to the
ascendency of Pisistratus, so the ascendency of Pisistratus paved the
way for the renewal of the republic.  As Cromwell was the
representative of the very sentiments he appeared to subvert--as
Napoleon in his own person incorporated the principles of the
revolution of France, so the tyranny of Pisistratus concentrated and
imbodied the elements of that democracy he rather wielded than

X.  At home, time and tranquillity cemented the new laws; poetry set
before the emulation of the Athenians its noblest monument in the
epics of Homer; and tragedy put forth its first unmellowed fruits in
the rude recitations of Thespis (B. C. 535). [234]  Pisistratus sought
also to counterbalance the growing passion for commerce by peculiar
attention to agriculture, in which it is not unlikely that he was
considerably influenced by early prepossessions, for his party had
been the mountaineers attached to rural pursuits, and his adversaries
the coastmen engaged in traffic.  As a politician of great sagacity,
he might also have been aware, that a people accustomed to
agricultural employments are ever less inclined to democratic
institutions than one addicted to commerce and manufactures; and if he
were the author of a law, which at all events he more rigidly
enforced, requiring every citizen to give an account of his mode of
livelihood, and affixing punishments to idleness, he could not have
taken wiser precautions against such seditions as are begot by poverty
upon indolence, or under a juster plea have established the
superintendence of a concealed police.  We learn from Aristotle that
his policy consisted much in subjecting and humbling the pediaei, or
wealthy nobles of the lowlands.  But his very affection to agriculture
must have tended to strengthen an aristocracy, and his humility to the
Areopagus was a proof of his desire to conciliate the least democratic
of the Athenian courts.  He probably, therefore, acted only against
such individual chiefs as had incurred his resentment, or as menaced
his power; nor can we perceive in his measures the systematic and
deliberate policy, common with other Greek tyrants, to break up an
aristocracy and create a middle class.

XI.  Abroad, the ambition of Pisistratus, though not extensive, was
successful.  There was a town on the Hellespont called Sigeum, which
had long been a subject of contest between the Athenians and the
Mitylenaeans.  Some years before the legislation of Solon, the
Athenian general, Phryno, had been slain in single combat by Pittacus,
one of the seven wise men, who had come into the field armed like the
Roman retiarius, with a net, a trident, and a dagger.  This feud was
terminated by the arbitration of Periander, tyrant of Corinth, who
awarded Sigeum to the Athenians, which was then in their possession,
by a wise and plausible decree, that each party should keep what it
had got.  This war was chiefly remarkable for an incident that
introduces us somewhat unfavourably to the most animated of the lyric
poets.  Alcaeus, an eminent citizen of Mitylene, and, according to
ancient scandal, the unsuccessful lover of Sappho, conceived a passion
for military fame: in his first engagement he seems to have discovered
that his proper vocation was rather to sing of battles than to share
them.  He fled from the field, leaving his arms behind him, which the
Athenians obtained, and suspended at Sigeum in the temple of Minerva.
Although this single action, which Alcaeus himself recorded, cannot be
fairly held a sufficient proof of the poet’s cowardice, yet his
character and patriotism are more equivocal than his genius.  Of the
last we have ample testimony, though few remains save in the frigid
grace of the imitations of Horace.  The subsequent weakness and civil
dissensions of Athens were not favourable to the maintenance of this
distant conquest--the Mitylenaeans regained Sigeum.  Against this town
Pisistratus now directed his arms--wrested it from the Mitylenaeans--
and, instead of annexing it to the republic of Athens, assigned its
government to the tyranny of his natural son, Hegesistratus,--a stormy
dominion, which the valour of the bastard defended against repeated
assaults. [235]

XII.  But one incident, the full importance of which the reader must
wait a while to perceive, I shall in this place relate.  Among the
most powerful of the Athenians was a noble named Miltiades, son of
Cypselus.  By original descent he was from the neighbouring island of
Aegina, and of the heroic race of Aeacus; but he dated the
establishment of his house in Athens from no less distant a founder
than the son of Ajax.  Miltiades had added new lustre to his name by a
victory at the Olympic games.  It was probably during the first
tyranny of Pisistratus [236] that an adventure, attended with vast
results to Greece, befell this noble.  His family were among the
enemies of Pisistratus, and were regarded by that sagacious usurper
with a jealous apprehension which almost appears prophetic.  Miltiades
was, therefore, uneasy under the government of Pisistratus, and
discontented with his position in Athens.  One day, as he sat before
his door (such is the expression of the enchanting Herodotus,
unconscious of the patriarchal picture he suggests [237]), Miltiades
observed certain strangers pass by, whose garments and spears denoted
them to be foreigners.  The sight touched the chief, and he offered
the strangers the use of his house, and the rites of hospitality.
They accepted his invitation, were charmed by his courtesy, and
revealed to him the secret of their travel.  In that narrow territory
which, skirting the Hellespont, was called the Chersonesus, or
Peninsula, dwelt the Doloncians, a Thracian tribe.  Engaged in an
obstinate war with the neighbouring Absinthians, the Doloncians had
sent to the oracle of Delphi to learn the result of the contest.  The
Pythian recommended the messengers to persuade the first man who, on
their quitting the temple, should offer them the rites of hospitality,
to found a colony in their native land.  Passing homeward through
Phocis and Boeotia, and receiving no such invitation by the way, the
messengers turned aside to Athens; Miltiades was the first who offered
them the hospitality they sought; they entreated him now to comply
with the oracle, and assist their countrymen; the discontented noble
was allured by the splendour of the prospect--he repaired in person to
Delphi--consulted the Pythian--received a propitious answer--and
collecting all such of the Athenians as his authority could enlist, or
their own ambition could decoy, he repaired to the Chersonesus
(probably B. C. 559).  There he fortified a great part of the isthmus,
as a barrier to the attacks of the Absinthians: but shortly afterward,
in a feud with the people of Lampsacus, he was taken prisoner by the
enemy.  Miltiades, however, had already secured the esteem and
protection of Croesus; and the Lydian monarch remonstrated with the
Lampsacenes in so formidable a tone of menace, that the Athenian
obtained his release, and regained his new principality.  In the
meanwhile, his brother Cimon (who was chiefly remarkable for his
success at the Olympic games), sharing the political sentiments of his
house, had been driven into exile by Pisistratus.  By a transfer to
the brilliant tyrant of a victory in the Olympic chariot-race, he,
however, propitiated Pisistratus, and returned to Athens.

VIII.  Full of years, and in the serene enjoyment of power,
Pisistratus died (B. C. 527).  His character may already be gathered
from his actions: crafty in the pursuit of power, but magnanimous in
its possession, we have only, with some qualification, to repeat the
eulogium on him ascribed to his greater kinsman, Solon--“That he was
the best of tyrants, and without a vice save that of ambition.”


The Administration of Hippias.--The Conspiracy of Harmodius and
Aristogiton.--The Death of Hipparchus.--Cruelties of Hippias.--The
young Miltiades sent to the Chersonesus.--The Spartans Combine with
the Alcmaeonidae against Hippias.--The fall of the Tyranny.--The
Innovations of Clisthenes.--His Expulsion and Restoration.--Embassy to
the Satrap of Sardis.--Retrospective View of the Lydian, Medean, and
Persian Monarchies.--Result of the Athenian Embassy to Sardis.--
Conduct of Cleomenes.--Victory of the Athenians against the Boeotians
and Chalcidians.--Hippias arrives at Sparta.--The Speech of Sosicles
the Corinthian.--Hippias retires to Sardis.

I.  Upon the death of Pisistratus, his three sons, Hipparchus,
Hippias, and Thessalus, succeeded to the government.  Nor, though
Hippias was the eldest, does he seem to have exercised a more
prominent authority than the rest--since, in the time of Thucydides,
and long afterward, it was the popular error to consider Hipparchus
the first-born.  Hippias was already of mature age; and, as we have
seen, it was he who had counselled his father not to despair, after
his expulsion from Athens.  He was a man of courage and ability worthy
of his race.  He governed with the same careful respect for the laws
which had distinguished and strengthened the authority of his
predecessor.  He even rendered himself yet more popular than
Pisistratus by reducing one half the impost of a tithe on the produce
of the land, which that usurper had imposed.  Notwithstanding this
relief, he was enabled, by a prudent economy, to flatter the national
vanity by new embellishments to the city.  In the labours of his
government he was principally aided by his second brother, Hipparchus,
a man of a yet more accomplished and intellectual order of mind.  But
although Hippias did not alter the laws, he chose his own creatures to
administer them.  Besides, whatever share in the government was
intrusted to his brothers, Hipparchus and Thessalus, his son and
several of his family were enrolled among the archons of the city.
And they who by office were intended for the guardians of liberty were
the necessary servants of the tyrant.

II.  If we might place unhesitating faith in the authenticity of the
dialogue attributed to Plato under the title of “Hipparchus,” we
should have, indeed, high authority in favour of the virtues and the
wisdom of that prince.  And by whomsoever the dialogue was written, it
refers to facts, in the passage relative to the son of Pisistratus, in
a manner sufficiently positive to induce us to regard that portion of
it with some deference.  According to the author, we learn that
Hipparchus, passionately attached to letters, brought Anacreon to
Athens, and lived familiarly with Simonides.  He seems to have been
inspired with the ambition of a moralist, and distributed Hermae, or
stone busts of Mercury, about the city and the public roads, which,
while answering a similar purpose to our mile-stones, arrested the eye
of the passenger with pithy and laconic apothegms in verse; such as,
“Do not deceive your friend,” and “Persevere in affection to
justice;”--proofs rather of the simplicity than the wisdom of the
prince.  It is not by writing the decalogue upon mile-stones that the
robber would be terrified, or the adulterer converted.

It seems that the apothegmatical Hipparchus did not associate with
Anacreon more from sympathy with his genius than inclination to the
subjects to which it was devoted.  He was addicted to pleasure; nor
did he confine its pursuits to the more legitimate objects of sensual
affection.  Harmodius, a young citizen of no exalted rank, but much
personal beauty, incurred the affront of his addresses [238].
Harmodius, in resentment, confided the overtures of the moralist to
his friend and preceptor, Aristogiton.  While the two were brooding
over the outrage, Hipparchus, in revenge for the disdain of Harmodius,
put a public insult upon the sister of that citizen, a young maiden.
She received a summons to attend some public procession, as bearer of
one of the sacred vessels: on presenting herself she was abruptly
rejected, with the rude assertion that she never could have been
honoured with an invitation of which she was unworthy.  This affront
rankled deeply in the heart of Harmodius, but still more in that of
the friendly Aristogiton, and they now finally resolved upon revenge.
At the solemn festival of Panathenaea, (in honour of Minerva), it was
the custom for many of the citizens to carry arms in the procession:
for this occasion they reserved the blow.  They intrusted their
designs to few, believing that if once the attempt was begun the
people would catch the contagion, and rush spontaneously to the
assertion of their freedom.  The festival arrived.  Bent against the
elder tyrant, perhaps from nobler motives than those which urged them
against Hipparchus [239], each armed with a dagger concealed in the
sacred myrtle bough which was borne by those who joined the
procession, the conspirators advanced to the spot in the suburbs where
Hippias was directing the order of the ceremonial.  To their dismay,
they perceived him conversing familiarly with one of their own
partisans, and immediately suspected that to be the treason of their
friend which in reality was the frankness of the affable prince.
Struck with fear, they renounced their attempt upon Hippias, suddenly
retreated to the city, and, meeting with Hipparchus, rushed upon him,
wounded, and slew him.  Aristogiton turned to fly--he escaped the
guards, but was afterward seized, and “not mildly treated” [240] by
the tyrant.  Such is the phrase of Thucydides, which, if we may take
the interpretation of Justin and the later writers, means that,
contrary to the law, he was put to the torture [241].  Harmodius was
slain upon the spot.  The news of his brother’s death was brought to
Hippias.  With an admirable sagacity and presence of mind, he
repaired, not to the place of the assassination, but towards the
procession itself, rightly judging that the conspiracy had only broken
out in part.  As yet the news of the death of Hipparchus had not
reached the more distant conspirators in the procession, and Hippias
betrayed not in the calmness of his countenance any signs of his
sorrow or his fears.  He approached the procession, and with a
composed voice commanded them to deposite their arms, and file off
towards a place which he indicated.  They obeyed the order, imagining
he had something to communicate to them.  Then turning to his guards,
Hippias bade them seize the weapons thus deposited, and he himself
selected from the procession all whom he had reason to suspect, or on
whose persons a dagger was found, for it was only with the open
weapons of spear and shield that the procession was lawfully to be
made.  Thus rose and thus terminated that conspiracy which gave to the
noblest verse and the most enduring veneration the names of Harmodius
and Aristogiton. [242]

III.  The acutest sharpener of tyranny is an unsuccessful attempt to
destroy it--to arouse the suspicion of power is almost to compel it to
cruelty.  Hitherto we have seen that Hippias had graced his authority
with beneficent moderation; the death of his brother filled him with
secret alarm; and the favour of the populace at the attempted escape
of Aristogiton--the ease with which, from a personal affront to an
obscure individual, a formidable conspiracy had sprung up into life,
convinced him that the arts of personal popularity are only to be
relied on when the constitution of the government itself is popular.

It is also said that, when submitted to the torture, Aristogiton, with
all the craft of revenge, asserted the firmest friends of Hippias to
have been his accomplices.  Thus harassed by distrust, Hippias
resolved to guard by terror a power which clemency had failed to
render secure.  He put several of the citizens to death.  According to
the popular traditions of romance, one of the most obnoxious acts of
his severity was exercised upon a woman worthy to be the mistress of
Aristogiton.  Leaena, a girl of humble birth, beloved by that
adventurous citizen, was sentenced to the torture, and, that the pain
might not wring from her any confession of the secrets of the
conspiracy, she bit out her tongue.  The Athenians, on afterward
recovering their liberties, dedicated to the heroine a brazen lioness,
not inappropriately placed in the vicinity of a celebrated statue of
Venus [243].  No longer depending on the love of the citizens, Hippias
now looked abroad for the support of his power; he formed an alliance
with Hippoclus, the prince of Lampsacus, by marrying his daughter with
the son of that tyrant, who possessed considerable influence at the
Persian court, to which he already directed his eyes--whether as a
support in the authority of the present, or an asylum against the
reverses of the future. [244]

It was apparently about a year before the death of Hipparchus, that
Stesagoras, the nephew and successor of that Miltiades who departed
from Athens to found a colony in the Thracian Chersonesus, perished by
an assassin’s blow.  Hippias, evidently deeming he had the right, as
sovereign of the parent country, to appoint the governor of the
colony, sent to the Chersonesus in that capacity the brother of the
deceased, a namesake of the first founder, whose father, Cimon, from
jealousy of his power or repute, had been murdered by the sons of
Pisistratus [245].  The new Miltiades was a man of consummate talents,
but one who scrupled little as to the means by which to accomplish his
objects.  Arriving at his government, he affected a deep sorrow for
the loss of his brother; the principal nobles of the various cities of
the Chersonesus came in one public procession to condole with him; the
crafty chief seized and loaded them with irons, and, having thus
insnared the possible rivals of his power, or enemies of his designs,
he secured the undisputed possession of the whole Chersonesus, and
maintained his civil authority by a constant military force.  A
marriage with Hegesipyle, a daughter of one of the Thracian princes,
at once enhanced the dignity and confirmed the sway of the young and
aspiring chief.  Some years afterward, we shall see in this Miltiades
the most eminent warrior of his age--at present we leave him to an
unquiet and perilous power, and return to Hippias.

IV.  A storm gathered rapidly on against the security and ambition of
the tyrant.  The highborn and haughty family of the Alcmaeonids had
been expelled from Athens at the victorious return of Pisistratus--
their estates in Attica confiscated--their houses razed--their very
sepulchres destroyed.  After fruitless attempts against the
oppressors, they had retired to Lipsydrium, a fortress on the heights
of Parnes, where they continued to cherish the hope of return and the
desire of revenge.  Despite the confiscation of their Attic estates,
their wealth and resources, elsewhere secured, were enormous.  The
temple of Delphi having been destroyed by fire, they agreed with the
Amphictyons to rebuild it, and performed the holy task with a
magnificent splendour far exceeding the conditions of the contract.
But in that religious land, wealth, thus lavished, was no unprofitable
investment.  The priests of Delphi were not insensible of the
liberality of the exiles, and Clisthenes, the most eminent and able of
the Alcmaeonidae, was more than suspected of suborning the Pythian.
Sparta, the supporter of oligarchies, was the foe of tyrants, and
every Spartan who sought the oracle was solemnly involved to aid the
glorious enterprise of delivering the Eupatrids of Athens from the
yoke of the Pisistratidae.

The Spartans were at length moved by instances so repeatedly urged.
Policy could not but soften that jealous state to such appeals to her
superstition.  Under the genius of the Pisistratidae, Athens had
rapidly advanced in power, and the restoration of the Alcmaeonidae
might have seemed to the Spartan sagacity but another term for the
establishment of that former oligarchy which had repressed the
intellect and exhausted the resources of an active and aspiring
people.  Sparta aroused herself, then, at length, and “though in
violation.”  says Herodotus, “of some ancient ties of hospitality,”
 despatched a force by sea against the Prince of Athens.  That alert
and able ruler lost no time in seeking assistance from his allies, the
Thessalians; and one of their powerful princes led a thousand horsemen
against the Spartans, who had debarked at Phalerum.  Joined by these
allies, Hippias engaged and routed the enemy, and the Spartan leader
himself fell upon the field of battle.  His tomb was long visible in
Cynosarges, near the gates of Athens--a place rendered afterward more
illustrious by giving name to the Cynic philosophers. [246]

Undismayed by their defeat, the Spartans now despatched a more
considerable force against the tyrant, under command of their king
Cleomenes.  This army proceeded by land--entered Attica--encountered,
defeated, the Thessalian horse [247],--and marched towards the gates
of Athens, joined, as they proceeded, by all those Athenians who
hoped, in the downfall of Hippias, the resurrection of their
liberties.  The Spartan troops hastened to besiege the Athenian prince
in the citadel, to which he retired with his forces.  But Hippias had
provided his refuge with all the necessaries which might maintain him
in a stubborn and prolonged resistance.  The Spartans were unprepared
for the siege--the blockade of a few days sufficed to dishearten them,
and they already meditated a retreat.  A sudden incident opening to us
in the midst of violence one of those beautiful glimpses of human
affection which so often adorn and sanctify the darker pages of
history, unexpectedly secured the Spartan triumph.  Hippias and his
friends, fearing the safety of their children in the citadel, resolved
to dismiss them privately to some place of greater security.
Unhappily, their care was frustrated, and the children fell into the
hands of the enemy.  All the means of success within their reach (the
foe wearied--the garrison faithful), the parents yet resigned
themselves at once to the voluntary sacrifice of conquest and

Upon the sole condition of recovering their children, Hippias and his
partisans consented to surrender the citadel, and quit the territories
of Attica within five days.  Thus, in the fourth year from the death
of Hipparchus (B. C. 510), and about fifty years after the first
establishment of the tyranny under its brilliant founder, the dominion
of Athens passed away from the house of Pisistratus.

V.  The party of Hippias, defeated, not by the swords of the enemy,
but by the soft impulses of nature, took their way across the stream
of the immemorial Scamander, and sought refuge at Sigeum, still under
the government of Hegesistratus, the natural brother of the exiled

The instant the pressure of one supreme power was removed, the two
parties imbodying the aristocratic and popular principles rose into
active life.  The state was to be a republic, but of what
denomination?  The nobles naturally aspired to the predominance--at
their head was the Eupatrid Isagoras; the strife of party always tends
to produce popular results, even from elements apparently the most
hostile.  Clisthenes, the head of the Alcmaeonidae, was by birth even
yet more illustrious than Isagoras; for, among the nobles, the
Alcmaeonid family stood pre-eminent.  But, unable to attain the sole
power of the government, Clisthenes and his party were unwilling to
yield to the more numerous faction of an equal.  The exile and
sufferings of the Alcmaeonids had, no doubt, secured to them much of
the popular compassion; their gallant struggles against, their
ultimate victory over the usurper, obtained the popular enthusiasm;
thus it is probable, that an almost insensible sympathy had sprung up
between this high-born faction and the people at large; and when,
unable to cope with the party of the nobles, Clisthenes attached
himself to the movement of the commons, the enemy of the tyrant
appeared in his natural position--at the head of the democracy.
Clisthenes was, however, rather the statesman of a party than the
legislator for a people--it was his object permanently to break up the
power of the great proprietors, not as enemies of the commonwealth,
but as rivals to his faction.  The surest way to diminish the
influence of property in elections is so to alter the constituencies
as to remove the electors from the immediate control of individual
proprietors.  Under the old Ionic and hereditary divisions of four
tribes, many ancient associations and ties between the poorer and the
nobler classes were necessarily formed.  By one bold innovation, the
whole importance of which was not immediately apparent, Clisthenes
abolished these venerable divisions, and, by a new geographical
survey, created ten tribes instead of the former four.  These were
again subdivided into districts, or demes; the number seems to have
varied, but at the earliest period they were not less than one
hundred--at a later period they exceeded one hundred and seventy.  To
these demes were transferred all the political rights and privileges
of the divisions they supplanted.  Each had a local magistrate and
local assemblies.  Like corporations, these petty courts of
legislature ripened the moral spirit of democracy while fitting men
for the exercise of the larger rights they demanded.  A consequence of
the alteration of the number of the tribes was an increase in the
number that composed the senate, which now rose from four to five
hundred members.

Clisthenes did not limit himself to this change in the constituent
bodies--he increased the total number of the constituents; new
citizens were made--aliens were admitted--and it is supposed by some,
though upon rather vague authorities, that several slaves were
enfranchised.  It was not enough, however, to augment the number of
the people, it was equally necessary to prevent the ascension of a
single man.  Encouraged by the example in other states of Greece,
forewarned by the tyranny of Pisistratus, Clisthenes introduced the
institution of the Ostracism [248].  Probably about the same period,
the mode of election to public office generally was altered from the
public vote to the secret lot [249].  It is evident that these
changes, whether salutary or pernicious, were not wanton or uncalled
for.  The previous constitution had not sufficed to protect the
republic from a tyranny: something deficient in the machinery of
Solon’s legislation had for half a century frustrated its practical
intentions.  A change was, therefore, necessary to the existence of
the free state; and the care with which that change was directed
towards the diminution of the aristocratic influence, is in itself a
proof that such influence had been the shelter of the defeated
tyranny.  The Athenians themselves always considered the innovations
of Clisthenes but as the natural development of the popular
institutions of Solon; and that decisive and energetic noble seems
indeed to have been one of those rude but serviceable instruments by
which a more practical and perfect action is often wrought out from
the incompleted theories of greater statesmen.

VI.  Meanwhile, Isagoras, thus defeated by his rival, had the mean
ambition to appeal to the Spartan sword.  Ancient scandal attributes
to Cleomenes, king of Sparta, an improper connexion with the wife of
Isagoras, and every one knows that the fondest friend of the cuckold
is invariably the adulterer;--the national policy of founding
aristocracies was doubtless, however, a graver motive with the Spartan
king than his desire to assist Isagoras.  Cleomenes by a public herald
proclaimed the expulsion of Clisthenes, upon a frivolous pretence that
the Alcmaeonidae were still polluted by the hereditary sacrilege of
Cylon.  Clisthenes privately retired from the city, and the Spartan
king, at the head of an inconsiderable troop, re-entered Athens--
expelled, at the instance of Isagoras, seven hundred Athenian
families, as inculpated in the pretended pollution of Clisthenes--
dissolved the senate--and committed all the offices of the state to an
oligarchy of three hundred (a number and a council founded upon the
Dorian habits), each of whom was the creature of Isagoras.  But the
noble assembly he had thus violently dissolved refused obedience to
his commands; they appealed to the people, whom the valour of liberty
simultaneously aroused, and the citadel, of which Isagoras and the
Spartans instantly possessed themselves, was besieged by the whole
power of Athens.  The conspirators held out only two days; on the
third, they accepted the conditions of the besiegers, and departed
peaceably from the city.  Some of the Athenians, who had shared the
treason without participating in the flight, were justly executed.
Clisthenes, with the families expelled by Cleomenes, was recalled, and
the republic of Athens was thus happily re-established.

VII.  But the iron vengeance of that nation of soldiers, thus far
successfully braved, was not to be foreboded without alarm by the
Athenians.  They felt that Cleomenes had only abandoned his designs to
return to them more prepared for contest; and Athens was not yet in a
condition to brave the determined and never-sparing energies of
Sparta.  The Athenians looked around the states of Greece--many in
alliance with Lacedaemon--some governed by tyrants--others distracted
with their own civil dissensions; there were none from whom the new
commonwealth could hope for a sufficient assistance against the
revenge of Cleomenes.  In this dilemma, they resorted to the only aid
which suggested itself, and sought, across the boundaries of Greece,
the alliance of the barbarians.  They adventured a formal embassy to
Artaphernes, satrap of Sardis, to engage the succour of Darius, king
of Persia.

Accompanying the Athenians in this mission, full of interest, for it
was the first public transaction between that republic and the throne
of Persia, I pause to take a rapid survey of the origin of that mighty
empire, whose destinies became thenceforth involved in the history of
Grecian misfortunes and Grecian fame.  That survey commences with the
foundation of the Lydian monarchy.

VIII.  Amid the Grecian colonies of Asia whose rise we have
commemorated, around and above a hill commanding spacious and fertile
plains watered by the streams of the Cayster and Maeander; an ancient
Pelasgic tribe called the Maeonians had established their abode.
According to Herodotus, these settlers early obtained the name of
Lydians, from Lydus, the son of Atys.  The Dorian revolution did not
spare these delightful seats, and an Heraclid dynasty is said to have
reigned five hundred years over the Maeonians; these in their turn
were supplanted by a race known to us as the Mermnadae, the founder of
whom, Gyges, murdered and dethroned the last of the Heraclidae; and
with a new dynasty seems to have commenced a new and less Asiatic
policy.  Gyges, supported by the oracle of Delphi, was the first
barbarian, except one of the many Phrygian kings claiming the name of
Midas, who made votive offerings to that Grecian shrine.  From his
time this motley tribe, the link between Hellas and the East, came
into frequent collision with the Grecian colonies.  Gyges himself made
war with Miletus and Smyrna, and even captured Colophon.  With
Miletus, indeed, the hostility of the Lydians became hereditary, and
was renewed with various success by the descendants of Gyges, until,
in the time of his great-grandson Alyattes, a war of twelve years with
that splendid colony was terminated by a solemn peace and a strict
alliance.  Meanwhile, the petty but warlike monarchy founded by Gyges
had preserved the Asiatic Greeks from dangers yet more formidable than
its own ambition.  From a remote period, savage and ferocious tribes,
among which are pre-eminent the Treres and Cimmerians, had often
ravaged the inland plains--now for plunder, now for settlement.
Magnesia had been entirely destroyed by the Treres--even Sardis, the
capital of the Mermnadae, had been taken, save the citadel, by the
Cimmerians.  It was reserved for Alyattes to terminate these
formidable irruptions, and Asia was finally delivered by his arms from
a people in whom modern erudition has too fondly traced the ancestors
of the Cymry, or ancient Britons [250].  To this enterprising and able
king succeeded a yet more illustrious monarch, who ought to have found
in his genius the fame he has derived from his misfortunes.  At the
age of thirty-five Croesus ascended the Lydian throne.  Before
associated in the government with his father, he had rendered himself
distinguished in military service; and, wise, accomplished, but
grasping and ambitious, this remarkable monarch now completed the
designs of his predecessors.  Commencing with Ephesus, he succeeded in
rendering tributary every Grecian colony on the western coast of Asia;
and, leaving to each state its previous institutions, he kept by
moderation what he obtained by force.

Croesus was about to construct a fleet for the purpose of adding to
his dominions the isles of the Aegaean, but is said to have been
dissuaded from his purpose by a profound witticism of one of the seven
wise men of Greece.  “The islanders,” said the sage, “are about to
storm you in your capital of Sardis, with ten thousand cavalry.”--
“Nothing could gratify me more,” said the king, “than to see the
islanders invading the Lydian continent with horsemen.”--“Right,”
 replied the wise man, “and it will give the islanders equal
satisfaction to find the Lydians attacking them by a fleet.  To
revenge their disasters on the land, the Greeks desire nothing better
than to meet you on the ocean.”  The answer enlightened the king, and,
instead of fitting out his fleet, he entered into amicable alliance
with the Ionians of the isles [251].  But his ambition was only
thwarted in one direction to strike its roots in another; and he
turned his invading arms against his neighbours on the continent,
until he had progressively subdued nearly all the nations, save the
Lycians and Cilicians, westward to the Halys.  And thus rapidly and
majestically rose from the scanty tribe and limited territory of the
old Maeonians the monarchy of Asia Minor.

IX.  The renown of Croesus established, his capital of Sardis became
the resort of the wise and the adventurous, whether of Asia or of
Greece.  In many respects the Lydians so closely resembled the Greeks
as to suggest the affinity which historical evidence scarcely suffices
to permit us absolutely to affirm.  The manners and the customs of
either people did not greatly differ, save that with the Lydians, as
still throughout the East, but little consideration was attached to
women;--they were alike in their cultivation of the arts, and their
respect for the oracles of religion--and Delphi, in especial, was
inordinately enriched by the prodigal superstition of the Lydian

The tradition which ascribes to the Lydians the invention of coined
money is a proof of their commercial habits.  The neighbouring Tmolus
teemed with gold, which the waters of the Pactolus bore into the very
streets of the city.  Their industry was exercised in the manufacture
of articles of luxury rather than those of necessity.  Their purple
garments.-their skill in the workmanship of metals--their marts for
slaves and eunuchs--their export trade of unwrought gold--are
sufficient evidence both of the extent and the character of their
civilization.  Yet the nature of the oriental government did not fail
to operate injuriously on the more homely and useful directions of
their energy.  They appear never to have worked the gold-mines, whose
particles were borne to them by the careless bounty of the Pactolus.
Their early traditional colonies were wafted on Grecian vessels.  The
gorgeous presents with which they enriched the Hellenic temples seem
to have been fabricated by Grecian art, and even the advantages of
commerce they seem rather to have suffered than to have sought.  But
what a people so suddenly risen into splendour, governed by a wise
prince, and stimulated perhaps to eventual liberty by the example of
the European Greeks, ought to have become, it is impossible to
conjecture; perhaps the Hellenes of the East.

At this period, however, of such power--and such promise, the fall of
the Lydian empire was decreed.  Far from the fertile fields and
gorgeous capital of Lydia, amid steril mountains, inhabited by a
simple and hardy race, rose the portentous star of the Persian Cyrus.

X.  A victim to that luxury which confirms a free but destroys a
despotic state, the vast foundations of the Assyrian empire were
crumbling into decay, when a new monarchy, destined to become its
successor, sprung up among one of its subject nations.  Divided into
various tribes, each dependant upon the Assyrian sceptre, was a
warlike, wandering, and primitive race, known to us under the name of
Medes.  Deioces, a chief of one of the tribes, succeeded in uniting
these scattered sections into a single people, built a city, and
founded an independent throne.  His son, Phraortes, reduced the
Persians to his yoke--overran Asia--advanced to Nineveh--and
ultimately perished in battle with a considerable portion of his army.
Succeeded by his son Cyaxares, that monarch consummated the ambitious
designs of his predecessors.  He organized the miscellaneous hordes
that compose an oriental army into efficient and formidable
discipline, vanquished the Assyrians, and besieged Nineveh, when a
mighty irruption of the Scythian hordes called his attention homeward.
A defeat, which at one blow robbed this great king of the dominion of
Asia, was ultimately recovered by a treacherous massacre of the
Scythian leaders (B. C. 606).  The Medes regained their power and
prosecuted their conquests--Nineveh fell--and through the whole
Assyrian realm, Babylon alone remained unsubjugated by the Mede.  To
this new-built and wide-spread empire succeeded Astyages, son of the
fortunate Cyaxares.  But it is the usual character of a conquering
tribe to adopt the habits and be corrupted by the vices of the subdued
nations among which the invaders settle; and the peaceful reign of
Astyages sufficed to enervate that vigilant and warlike spirit in the
victor race, by which alone the vast empires of the East can be
preserved from their natural tendency to decay.  The Persians, subdued
by the grandsire of Astyages, seized the occasion to revolt.  Among
them rose up a native hero, the Gengis-khan of the ancient world.
Through the fables which obscure his history we may be allowed to
conjecture, that Cyrus, or Khosroo, was perhaps connected by blood
with Astyages, and, more probably, that he was intrusted with command
among the Persians by that weak and slothful monarch.  Be that as it
may, he succeeded in uniting under his banners a martial and
uncorrupted population, overthrew the Median monarchy, and transferred
to a dynasty, already worn out with premature old age, the vigorous
and aspiring youth of a mountain race.  Such was the formidable foe
that now menaced the rising glories of the Lydian king.

XI.  Croesus was allied by blood with the dethroned Astyages, and
individual resentment at the overthrow of his relation co-operated
with his anxious fears of the ambition of the victor.  A less
sagacious prince might easily have foreseen that the Persians would
scarcely be secure in their new possessions, ere the wealth and
domains of Lydia would tempt the restless cupidity of their chief.
After much deliberation as to the course to be pursued, Croesus
resorted for advice to the most celebrated oracles of Greece, and even
to that of the Libyan Ammon.  The answer he received from Delphi
flattered, more fatally than the rest, the inclinations of the king.
He was informed “that if he prosecuted a war with Persia a mighty
empire would be overthrown, and he was advised to seek the alliance of
the most powerful states of Greece.”  Overjoyed with a response to
which his hopes gave but one interpretation, the king prodigalized
fresh presents on the Delphians, and received from them in return, for
his people and himself, the honour of priority above all other nations
in consulting the oracle, a distinguished seat in the temple, and the
right of the citizenship of Delphi.  Once more the fated monarch
sought the oracle, and demanded if his power should ever fail.  Thus
replied the Pythian: “When a mule shall sit enthroned over the Medes,
fly, soft Lydian, across the pebbly waters of the Hermus.”  The
ingenuity of Croesus could discover in this reply no reason for alarm,
confident that a mule could never be the sovereign of the Medes.  Thus
animated, and led on, the son of Alyattes prepared to oppose, while it
was yet time, the progress of the Persian arms.  He collected all the
force he could summon from his provinces--crossed the Halys--entered
Cappadocia--devastated the surrounding country--destroyed several
towns--and finally met on the plains of Pteria the Persian army.  The
victory was undecided; but Croesus, not satisfied with the force he
led, which was inferior to that of Cyrus, returned to Sardis,
despatched envoys for succour into Egypt and to Babylon, and
disbanded, for the present, the disciplined mercenaries whom he had
conducted into Cappadocia.  But Cyrus was aware of the movements of
the enemy, and by forced and rapid marches arrived at Sardis, and
encamped before its walls.  His army dismissed--his allies scarcely
reached by his embassadors--Croesus yet showed himself equal to the
peril of his fortune.  His Lydians were among the most valiant of the
Asiatic nations--dexterous in their national weapon, the spear, and
renowned for the skill and prowess of their cavalry.

XII.  In a wide plain, in the very neighbourhood of the royal Sardis,
and watered “by the pebbly stream of the Hermus,” the cavalry of Lydia
met, and were routed by the force of Cyrus.  The city was besieged and
taken, and the wisest and wealthiest of the Eastern kings sunk
thenceforth into a petty vassal, consigned as guest or prisoner to a
Median city near Ecbatana [252].  The prophecy was fulfilled, and a
mighty empire overthrown. [253]

The Grecian colonies of Asia, during the Lydian war, had resisted the
overtures of Cyrus, and continued faithful to Croesus; they had now
cause to dread the vengeance of the conqueror.  The Ionians and
Aeolians sent to demand the assistance of Lacedaemon, pledged equally
with themselves to the Lydian cause.  But the Spartans, yet more
cautious than courageous, saw but little profit in so unequal an
alliance.  They peremptorily refused the offer of the colonists, but,
after their departure, warily sent a vessel of fifty oars to watch the
proceedings of Cyrus, and finally deputed Latrines, a Spartan of
distinction, to inform the monarch of the Persian, Median, and Lydian
empires, that any injury to the Grecian cities would be resented by
the Spartans.  Cyrus asked with polite astonishment of the Greeks
about him, “Who these Spartans were?” and having ascertained as much
as he could comprehend concerning their military force and their
social habits, replied, “That men who had a large space in the middle
of their city for the purpose of cheating one another, could not be to
him an object of terror:” so little respect had the hardy warrior for
the decent frauds of oratory and of trade.  Meanwhile, he obligingly
added, “that if he continued in health, their concern for the Ionian
troubles might possibly be merged in the greatness of their own.”
 Soon afterward Cyrus swept onwards in the prosecution of his vast
designs, overrunning Assyria, and rushing through the channels of
Euphrates into the palaces of Babylon, and the halls of the scriptural
Belshazzar.  His son, Cambyses, added the mystic Egypt to the vast
conquests of Cyrus--and a stranger to the blood of the great victor,
by means of superstitious accident or political intrigue, ascended the
throne of Asia, known to European history under the name of Darius.
The generals of Cyrus had reduced to the Persian yoke the Ionian
colonies; the Isle of Samos (the first of the isles subjected) was
afterward conquered by a satrap of Sardis, and Darius, who, impelled
by the ambition of his predecessors, had led with no similar success a
vast armament against the wandering Scythians, added, on his return,
Lesbos, Chios, and other isles in the Aegaean, to the new monarchy of
the world.  As, in the often analogous history of Italian republics,
we find in every incursion of the German emperor that some crafty
noble of a free state joined the banner of a Frederick or a Henry in
the hope of receiving from the imperial favour the tyranny of his own
city--so there had not been wanting in the Grecian colonies men of
boldness and ambition, who flocked to the Persian standard, and, in
gratitude for their services against the Scythian, were rewarded with
the supreme government of their native cities.  Thus was raised Coes,
a private citizen, to the tyranny of Mitylene--and thus Histiaeus,
already possessing, was confirmed by Darius in, that of Miletus.
Meanwhile Megabazus, a general of the Persian monarch, at the head of
an army of eighty thousand men, subdued Thrace, and made Macedonia
tributary to the Persian throne.  Having now established, as he deemed
securely, the affairs of the empire in Asia Minor, Darius placed his
brother Artaphernes in the powerful satrapy of Sardis, and returned to
his capital of Susa.

XIII.  To this satrap, brother of that mighty monarch, came the
ambassadors of Athens.  Let us cast our eyes along the map of the
ancient world--and survey the vast circumference of the Persian realm,
stretching almost over the civilized globe.  To the east no boundary
was visible before the Indus.  To the north the empire extended to the
Caspian and the Euxine seas, with that steep Caucasian range, never
passed even by the most daring of the early Asiatic conquerors.
Eastward of the Caspian, the rivers of Oxus and Iaxartes divided the
subjects of the great king from the ravages of the Tartar; the Arabian
peninsula interposed its burning sands, a barrier to the south--while
the western territories of the empire, including Syria, Phoenicia, the
fertile satrapies of Asia Minor, were washed by the Mediterranean
seas.  Suddenly turning from this immense empire, let us next
endeavour to discover those dominions from which the Athenian
ambassadors were deputed: far down in a remote corner of the earth we
perceive at last the scarce visible nook of Attica, with its capital
of Athens--a domain that in its extremest length measured sixty
geographical miles!  We may now judge of the condescending wonder with
which the brother of Darius listened to the ambassadors of a people,
by whose glory alone his name is transmitted to posterity.  Yet was
there nothing unnatural or unduly arrogant in his reply.  “Send
Darius,” said the satrap, affably, “earth and water (the accustomed
symbols of homage), and he will accept your alliance.”  The ambassadors
deliberated, and, impressed by the might of Persia, and the sense of
their own unfriended condition, they accepted the proposals.

If, fresh from our survey of the immeasurable disparity of power
between the two states, we cannot but allow the answer of the satrap
was such as might be expected, it is not without a thrill of sympathy
and admiration we learn, that no sooner had the ambassadors returned
to Athens, than they received from the handful of its citizens a
severe reprimand for their submission.  Indignant at the proposal of
the satrap, that brave people recurred no more to the thought of the
alliance.  In haughty patience, unassisted and alone, they awaited the
burst of the tempest which they foresaw.

XIV.  Meanwhile, Cleomenes, chafed at the failure of his attempt on
the Athenian liberties, and conceiving, in the true spirit of
injustice, that he had been rather the aggrieved than the aggressor,
levied forces in different parts of the Peloponnesus, but without
divulging the object he had in view [254].  That object was twofold--
vengeance upon Athens, and the restoration of Isagoras.  At length he
threw off the mask, and at the head of a considerable force seized
upon the holy city of Eleusis.  Simultaneously, and in concert with
the Spartan, the Boeotians forcibly took possession of Oenoe and
Hysix--two towns on the extremity of Attica while from Chalcis (the
principal city of the Isle of Euboea which fronted the Attic coast) a
formidable band ravaged the Athenian territories.  Threatened by this
threefold invasion, the measures of the Athenians were prompt and
vigorous.  They left for the present unavenged the incursions of the
Boeotians and Chalcidians, and marched with all the force they could
collect against Cleomenes at Eleusis.  The two armies were prepared
for battle, when a sudden revolution in the Spartan camp delivered the
Athenians from the most powerful of their foes.  The Corinthians,
insnared by Cleomenes into measures, of the object of which they had
first been ignorant, abruptly retired from the field.  Immediately
afterward a dissension broke out between Cleomenes and Demaratus, the
other king of Sparta, who had hitherto supported his colleague in all
his designs, and Demaratus hastily quitted Eleusis, and returned to
Lacedaemon.  At this disunion between the kings of Sparta,
accompanied, as it was, by the secession of the Corinthians, the other
confederates broke up the camp, returned home, and left Cleomenes with
so scanty a force that he was compelled to forego his resentment and
his vengeance, and retreat from the sacred city.  The Athenians now
turned their arms against the Chalcidians, who had retired to Euboea;
but, encountering the Boeotians, who were on their march to assist
their island ally, they engaged and defeated them with a considerable
slaughter.  Flushed by their victory, the Athenians rested not upon
their arms--on the same day they crossed that narrow strait which
divided them from Euboea, and obtained a second and equally signal
victory over the Chalcidians.  There they confirmed their conquest by
the establishment of four thousand colonists [255] in the fertile
meadows of Euboea, which had been dedicated by the islanders to the
pasturage of their horses.  The Athenians returned in triumph to their
city.  At the price of two minae each, their numerous prisoners were
ransomed, and the captive chains suspended from the walls of the
citadel.  A tenth part of the general ransom was consecrated, and
applied to the purchase of a brazen chariot, placed in the entrance of
the citadel, with an inscription which dedicated it to the tutelary
goddess of Athens.

“Not from the example of the Athenians only,” proceeds the father of
history, “but from universal experience, do we learn that an equal
form of government is the best.  While in subjection to tyrants the
Athenians excelled in war none of their neighbours--delivered from the
oppressor, they excelled them all; an evident proof that, controlled
by one man they exerted themselves feebly, because exertion was for a
master; regaining liberty, each man was made zealous, because his zeal
was for himself, and his individual interest was the common weal.”
 [256]  Venerable praise and accurate distinction! [257]

XV.  The Boeotians, resentful of their defeat, sent to the Pythian
oracle to demand the best means of obtaining revenge.  The Pythian
recommended an alliance with their nearest neighbours.  The Boeotians,
who, although the inspiring Helicon hallowed their domain, were
esteemed but a dull and obtuse race, interpreted this response in
favour of the people of the rocky island of Aegina--certainly not
their nearest neighbours, if the question were to be settled by
geographers.  The wealthy inhabitants of that illustrious isle, which,
rising above that part of the Aegean called Sinus Saronicus, we may
yet behold in a clear sky from the heights of Phyle,--had long
entertained a hatred against the Athenians.  They willingly embraced
the proffered alliance of the Boeotians, and the two states ravaged in
concert the coast of Attica.  While the Athenians were preparing to
avenge the aggression, they received a warning from the Delphic
oracle, enjoining them to refrain from all hostilities with the people
of Aegina for thirty years, at the termination of which period they
were to erect a fane to Aeacus (the son of Jupiter, from whom,
according to tradition, the island had received its name), and then
they might commence war with success.  The Athenians, on hearing the
response, forestalled the time specified by the oracle by erecting at
once a temple to Aeacus in their forum.  After-circumstances did not
allow them to delay to the end of thirty years the prosecution of the
war.  Meanwhile the unsleeping wrath of their old enemy, Cleomenes,
demanded their full attention.  In the character of that fierce and
restless Spartan, we recognise from the commencement of his career the
taint of that insanity to which he subsequently fell a victim [258].
In his earlier life, in a war with the Argives, he had burnt five
thousand fugitives by setting fire to the grove whither they had fled
--an act of flagrant impiety, no less than of ferocious cruelty,
according to the tender superstition of the Greeks.  During his
occupation of Eleusis, he wantonly violated the mysterious sanctuary
of Orgas--the place above all others most consecrated to the
Eleusinian gods.  His actions and enterprises were invariably
inconsistent and vague.  He enters Athens to restore her liberties--
joins with Isagoras to destroy them; engages in an attempt to
revolutionize that energetic state without any adequate preparation--
seizes the citadel to-day to quit it disgracefully to-morrow; invades
Eleusis with an army he cannot keep together, and, in the ludicrous
cunning common to the insane, disguises from his allies the very enemy
against whom they are to fight, in order, as common sense might have
expected, to be deserted by them in the instant of battle.  And now,
prosecuting still further the contradictory tenour of his conduct, he
who had driven Hippias from Athens persuades the Spartan assembly to
restore the very tyrant the Spartan arms had expelled.  In order to
stimulate the fears of his countrymen, Cleomenes [259] asserted, that
he had discovered in the Athenian citadel certain oracular
predictions, till then unknown, foreboding to the Spartans many dark
and strange calamities from the hands of the Athenians [260].  The
astute people whom the king addressed were more moved by political
interests than religious warnings.  They observed, that when oppressed
by tyranny, the Athenians had been weak and servile, but, if admitted
to the advantages of liberty, would soon grow to a power equal to
their own [261]: and in the restoration of a tyrant, their sagacity
foreboded the depression of a rival.

XVI.  Hippias, who had hitherto resided with his half-brother at
Sigeum, was invited to Lacedaemon.  He arrived--the Spartans assembled
the ambassadors of their various tribes--and in full council thus
spoke the policy of Sparta.

“Friends and allies, we acknowledge that we have erred; misled by
deceiving oracles, we have banished from Athens men united to us by
ancient hospitality.  We restored a republican government to an
ungrateful people, who, forgetful that to us they owed their liberty,
expelled from among them our subjects and our king.  Every day they
exhibit a fiercer spirit--proofs of which have been already
experienced by the Boeotians, the Chalcidians, and may speedily extend
to others, unless they take in time wise and salutary precautions.  We
have erred--we are prepared to atone for our fault, and to aid you in
the chastisement of the Athenians.  With this intention we have
summoned Hippias and yourselves, that by common counsel and united
arms we may restore to the son of Pisistratus the dominion and the
dignity of which we have deprived him.”

The sentiments of the Spartans received but little favour in the
assembly.  After a dead and chilling silence, up rose Sosicles, the
ambassador for Corinth, whose noble reply reveals to us the true cause
of the secession of the Corinthians at Eleusis.

“We may expect,” said he, with indignant eloquence, “to see the earth
take the place of heaven, since you, oh Spartans, meditate the
subversion of equal laws and the restoration of tyrannical
governments--a design than which nothing can be more unjust, nothing
more wicked.  If you think it well that states should be governed by
tyrants, Spartans, before you establish tyranny for others, establish
it among yourselves!  You act unworthily with your allies.  You, who
so carefully guard against the intrusion of tyranny in Sparta--had you
known it as we have done, you would be better sensible of the
calamities it entails: listen to some of its effects.”  (Here the
ambassador related at length the cruelties of Periander, the tyrant of
Corinth.) “Such,” said he, in conclusion, “such is a tyrannical
government--such its effects.  Great was our marvel when we learned
that it was you, oh Spartans, who had sent for Hippias,--at your
sentiments we marvel more.  Oh! by the gods, the celestial guardians
of Greece, we adjure you not to build up tyrannies in our cities.  If
you persevere in your purpose--if, against all justice, you attempt
the restoration of Hippias, know, at least, that the Corinthians will
never sanction your designs.”

It was in vain that Hippias, despite his own ability, despite the
approval of the Spartans, endeavoured to counteract the impression of
this stern harangue,--in vain he relied on the declarations of the
oracles,--in vain appealed to the jealousy of the Corinthians, and
assured them of the ambition of Athens.  The confederates with one
accord sympathized with the sentiments of Sosicles, and adjured the
Spartans to sanction no innovations prejudicial to the liberties of a
single city of Greece.

XVII.  The failure of propositions so openly made is a fresh proof of
the rash and unthinking character of Cleomenes--eager as usual for
all designs, and prepared for none.  The Spartans abandoned their
design, and Hippias, discomfited but not dispirited, quitted the
Lacedaemonian capital.  Some of the chiefs of Thessaly, as well as the
prince of Macedon, offered him an honourable retreat in their
dominions.  But it was not an asylum, it was an ally, that the
unyielding ambition of Hippias desired to secure.  He regained Sigeum,
and thence, departing to Sardis, sought the assistance of the satrap,
Artaphernes.  He who in prosperity was the tyrant, became, in
adversity, the traitor of his country; and the son of Pisistratus
exerted every effort of his hereditary talent of persuasion to induce
the satrap not so much to restore the usurper as to reduce the
Athenian republic to the Persian yoke [262].  The arrival and the
intrigues of this formidable guest at the court of Sardis soon reached
the ears of the vigilant Athenians; they sent to Artaphernes,
exhorting him not to place confidence in those whose offences had
banished them from Athens.  “If you wish for peace,” returned the
satrap, “recall Hippias.”  Rather than accede to this condition, that
brave people, in their petty share of the extremity of Greece, chose
to be deemed the enemies of the vast monarchy of Persia. [263]


Histiaeus, Tyrant of Miletus, removed to Persia.--The Government of
that City deputed to Aristagoras, who invades Naxos with the aid of
the Persians.--Ill Success of that Expedition.--Aristagoras resolves
upon Revolting from the Persians.--Repairs to Sparta and to Athens.--
The Athenians and Eretrians induced to assist the Ionians.--Burning of
Sardis.--The Ionian War.--The Fate of Aristagoras.--Naval Battle of
Lade.--Fall of Miletus.--Reduction of Ionia.--Miltiades.--His
Character.--Mardonius replaces Artaphernes in the Lydian Satrapy.--
Hostilities between Aegina and Athens.--Conduct of Cleomenes.--
Demaratus deposed.--Death of Cleomenes.--New Persian Expedition.

I.  We have seen that Darius rewarded with a tributary command the
services of Grecian nobles during his Scythian expedition.  The most
remarkable of these deputy tyrants was Histiaeus, the tyrant of
Miletus.  Possessed of that dignity prior to his connexion with
Darius, he had received from the generosity of the monarch a tract of
land near the river Strymon, in Thrace, sufficing for the erection of
a city called Myrcinus.  To his cousin, Aristagoras, he committed the
government of Miletus--repaired to his new possession, and employed
himself actively in the foundations of a colony which promised to be
one of the most powerful that Miletus had yet established.  The site
of the infant city was selected with admirable judgment upon a
navigable river, in the vicinity of mines, and holding the key of
commercial communication between the long chain of Thracian tribes on
the one side, and the trading enterprise of Grecian cities on the
other.  Histiaeus was describing the walls with which the ancient
cities were surrounded, when Megabazus, commander of the forces
intended to consummate the conquest of Thrace, had the sagacity to
warn the Persian king, then at Sardis, of the probable effects of the
regal donation.  “Have you, sire, done wisely,” said he, “in
permitting this able and active Greek to erect a new city in Thrace?
Know you not that that favoured land, abounding in mines of silver,
possesses, also, every advantage for the construction and equipment of
ships; wild Greeks and roving barbarians are mingled there, ripe for
enterprise--ready to execute the commands of any resolute and aspiring
leader!  Fear the possibility of a civil war--prevent the chances of
the ambition of Histiaeus,--have recourse to artifice rather than to
force, get him in your power, and prevent his return to Greece.”

Darius followed the advice of his general, sent for Histiaeus, loaded
him with compliments, and, pretending that he could not live without
his counsels, carried him off from his Thracian settlement to the
Persian capital of Susa.  His kinsman, Aristagoras, continued to
preside over the government of Miletus, then the most haughty and
flourishing of the Ionian states; but Naxos, beneath it in power,
surpassed it in wealth; the fertile soil of that fair isle--its
numerous population--its convenient site--its abundant resources,
attracted the cupidity of Aristagoras; he took advantage of a civil
commotion, in which many of the nobles were banished by the people--
received the exiles--and, under the pretence of restoring them,
meditated the design of annexing the largest of the Cyclades to the
tyranny of Miletus.

He persuaded the traitorous nobles to suffer him to treat with
Artaphernes--successfully represented to that satrap the advantages of
annexing the gem of the Cyclades to the Persian diadem--and Darius,
listening to the advice of his delegate, sent two hundred vessels to
the invasion of Naxos (B. C. 501), under the command of his kinsman,
Megabates.  A quarrel ensued, however, between the Persian general and
the governor of Miletus.  Megabates, not powerful enough to crush the
tyrant, secretly informed the Naxians of the meditated attack; and,
thus prepared for the assault, they so well maintained themselves in
their city, that, after a siege of four months, the pecuniary
resources, not only of Megabates, but of Aristagoras, were exhausted,
and the invaders were compelled to retreat from the island.
Aristagoras now saw that he had fallen into the pit he had digged for
others: his treasury was drained--he had incurred heavy debts with the
Persian government, which condemned him to reimburse the whole expense
of the enterprise--he feared the resentment of Megabates and the
disappointment of Artaphernes--and he foresaw that his ill success
might be a reasonable plea for removing him from the government of
Miletus.  While he himself was meditating the desperate expedient of a
revolt, a secret messenger from Histiaeus suddenly arrived at Miletus.
That wily Greek, disgusted with his magnificent captivity, had had
recourse to a singular expedient: selecting the most faithful of his
slaves, he shaved his scull, wrote certain characters on the surface,
and, when the hair was again grown, dismissed this living letter to
Aristagoras [264].  The characters commanded the deputy to commence a
revolt; for Histiaeus imagined that the quiet of Miletus was the
sentence of his exile.

II.  This seasonable advice, so accordant with his own views, charmed
Aristagoras: he summoned the Milesians, and, to engage their zealous
assistance, he divested himself of the tyranny, and established a
republic. It was a mighty epoch that, for the stir of thought!--
everywhere had awakened a desire for free government and equal laws;
and Aristagoras, desirous of conciliating the rest of Ionia, assisted
her various states in the establishment of republican institutions.
Coes, the tyrant of Mitylene, perished by the hands of the people; in
the rest of Ionia, the tyrants were punished but by exile.  Thus a
spark kindled the universal train already prepared in thought, and the
selfish ambition of Aristagoras forwarded the march of a revolution in
favour of liberty that embraced all the cities of Ionia.  But
Aristagoras, evidently a man of a profound, though tortuous policy,
was desirous of engaging not only the colonies of Greece, but the
mother country also, in the great and perilous attempt to resist the
Persian.  High above all the states of the elder Greece soared the
military fame of Sparta; and that people the scheming Milesian
resolved first to persuade to his daring project.

Trusting to no ambassador, but to his own powers of eloquence, he
arrived in person at Sparta.  With a brazen chart of the world, as
then known, in his hand, he sought to inspire the ambition of
Cleomenes by pointing out the wide domains--the exhaustless treasures
of the Persian realm.  He depreciated the valour of its people,
ridiculed their weapons, and urged him to the vast design of
establishing, by Spartan valour, the magnificent conquest of Asia.
The Spartans, always cold to the liberty of other states, were no less
indifferent to the glory of barren victories; and when Aristagoras too
honestly replied, in answer to a question of the king, that from the
Ionian sea to Susa, the Persian capital, was a journey of three
months, Cleomenes abruptly exclaimed, “Milesian, depart from Sparta
before sunset;--a march of three months from the sea!--the Spartans
will never listen to so frantic a proposal!”  Aristagoras, not
defeated, sought a subsequent interview, in which he attempted to
bribe the king, who, more accustomed to bribe others than be bribed,
broke up the conference, and never afterward would renew it.

III.  The patient and plotting Milesian departed thence to Athens
(B. C. 500): he arrived there just at the moment when the Athenian
ambassadors had returned from Sardis, charged with the haughty reply
of Artaphernes to the mission concerning Hippias.  The citizens were
aroused, excited, inflamed; equally indignant at the insolence, and
fearful of the power, of the satrap. It was a favourable occasion for

To the imagination of the reader this passage in history presents a
striking picture.  We may behold the great assembly of that lively,
high-souled, sensitive, and inflammable people.  There is the Agora;
there the half-built temple to Aeacus;--above, the citadel, where yet
hang the chains of the captive enemy;--still linger in the ears of the
populace, already vain of their prowess, and haughty in their freedom,
the menace of the Persian--the words that threatened them with the
restoration of the exiled tyrant; and at this moment, and in this
concourse, we see the subtle Milesian, wise in the experience of
mankind, popular with all free states, from having restored freedom to
the colonies of Ionia--every advantage of foreign circumstance and
intrinsic ability in his favour,--about to address the breathless and
excited multitude.  He rose: he painted, as he had done to Cleomenes,
in lively colours, the wealth of Asia, the effeminate habits of its
people--he described its armies fighting without spear or shield--he
invoked the valour of a nation already successful in war against hardy
and heroic foes--he appealed to old hereditary ties; the people of
Miletus had been an Athenian colony--should not the parent protect the
child in the greatest of all blessings--the right to liberty?  Now he
entreats--now he promises,--the sympathy of the free, the enthusiasm
of the brave, are alike aroused.  He succeeds: the people accede to
his views.  “It is easier,” says the homely Herodotus, “to gain (or
delude) a multitude than an individual; and the eloquence which had
failed with Cleomenes enlisted thirty thousand Athenians.” [265]

IV.  The Athenians agreed to send to the succour of their own
colonists, the Ionians, twenty vessels of war.  Melanthius, a man of
amiable character and popular influence, was appointed the chief.
This was the true commencement of the great Persian war.

V.  Thus successful, Aristagoras departed from Athens.  Arriving at
Miletus, he endeavoured yet more to assist his design, by attempting
to arouse a certain colony in Phrygia, formed of Thracian captives
[266] taken by Megabazus, the Persian general.  A great proportion of
these colonists seized the occasion to return to their native land--
baffled the pursuit of the Persian horse--reached the shore--and were
transported in Ionian vessels to their ancient home on the banks of
the Strymon.  Meanwhile, the Athenian vessels arrived at Miletus,
joined by five ships, manned by Eretrians of Euboea, mindful of former
assistance from the Milesians in a war with their fellow-islanders,
the Chalcidians, nor conscious, perhaps, of the might of the enemy
they provoked.

Aristagoras remained at Miletus, and delegated to his brother the
command of the Milesian forces.  The Greeks then sailed to Ephesus,
debarked at Coressus, in its vicinity, and, under the conduct of
Ephesian guides, marched along the winding valley of the Cayster--
whose rapid course, under a barbarous name, the traveller yet traces,
though the swans of the Grecian poets haunt its waves no more--passed
over the auriferous Mount of Tmolus, verdant with the vine, and
fragrant with the saffron--and arrived at the gates of the voluptuous
Sardis.  They found Artaphernes unprepared for this sudden invasion--
they seized the city (B. C. 499).--the satrap and his troops retreated
to the citadel.

The houses of Sardis were chiefly built of reeds, and the same slight
and inflammable material thatched the roofs even of the few mansions
built of brick.  A house was set on fire by a soldier--the flames
spread throughout the city.  In the midst of the conflagration despair
gave valour to the besieged--the wrath of man was less fearful than
that of the element; the Lydians, and the Persians who were in the
garrison, rushed into the market-place, through which flowed the river
of Pactolus.  There they resolved to encounter the enemy.  The
invaders were seized with a sudden panic, possibly as much occasioned
by the rage of the conflagration as the desperation of the foe; and,
retiring to Mount Tmolus, took advantage of the night to retrace their
march along the valley of the Cayster.

VI.  But the Ionians were not fated to return in safety: from the
borders of the river Halys a troop of Persians followed their retreat,
and overtaking them when the Ephesian territory was already gained,
defeated the Ionians with a great slaughter, amid which fell the
leader of the Eretrians.

The Athenians were naturally disappointed with the result of this
expedition.  Returning home, they refused all the overtures of
Aristagoras to renew their incursions into Asia.  The gallant Ionians
continued, however, the hostilities they had commenced against Darius.
They sailed to the Hellespont, and reduced Byzantium, with the
neighbouring cities.  Their forces were joined by the Cyprians,
aroused against the Persian yoke by Onesilus, a bold usurper, who had
dethroned his brother, the prince of Salamis, in Cyprus; and the
conflagration of Sardis dazzling the Carians, hitherto lukewarm,
united to the Ionian cause the bulk of that hardy population.  The
revolt now assumed a menacing and formidable aspect.  Informed of
these events, Darius summoned Histiaeus: “The man,” said he, “whom you
appointed to the government of Miletus has rebelled against me.
Assisted by the Ionians, whom I shall unquestionably chastise, he has
burnt Sardis.  Had he your approbation?  Without it would he have
dared such treason?  Beware how you offend a second time against my
authority.”  Histiaeus artfully vindicated himself from the suspicions
of the king.  He attributed the revolt of the Ionians to his own
absence, declared that if sent into Ionia he would soon restore its
inhabitants to their wonted submission, and even promised to render
the Island of Sardinia tributary to Persia.

VII.  Deluded by these professions, Darius dismissed the tyrant of
Miletus, requiring only his return on the fulfilment of his promises.
Meanwhile, the generals of Darius pressed vigorously on the
insurgents.  Against Onesilus, then engaged in reducing Amathus (the
single city in Cyprus opposed to him), Artybius, a Persian officer,
conducted a formidable fleet.  The Ionians hastened to the succour of
their Cyprian ally--a battle ensued both by land and sea: in the
latter the Ionians defeated, after a severe contest, the Phoenician
auxiliaries of Persia--in the former, a treacherous desertion of some
of the Cyprian troops gave a victory to the Persian.  The brave
Onesilus, who had set his fate upon the issue of the field, was among
the slain.  The Persians proceeded to blockade, and ultimately to
regain, the Cyprian cities: of these, Soli, which withstood a siege of
five months, proffered the most obdurate resistance; with the
surrender of that gallant city, Cyprus once more, after a year of
liberty, was subjected to the dominion of the great king.

This success was increased by the reduction of several towns on the
Hellespont, and two signal defeats over the Carians (B. C. 498), in
the last of which, the Milesians, who had joined their ally, suffered
a prodigious loss.  The Carians, however, were not subdued, and in a
subsequent engagement they effected a great slaughter among the
Persians, the glory of which was enhanced by the death of Daurises,
general of the barbarians, and son-in-law to Darius.  But this action
was not sufficiently decisive to arrest the progress of the Persian
arms.  Artaphernes, satrap of Sardis, and Otanes, the third general in
command, led their forces into Ionia and Aeolia:--the Ionian
Clazomenae, the Aeolian Cuma, were speedily reduced.

VIII.  The capture of these places, with the general fortunes of the
war, disheartened even the patient and adventurous Aristagoras.  He
could not but believe that all attempts against the crushing power of
Darius were in vain.  He assembled the adherents yet faithful to his
arms, and painted to them the necessity of providing a new settlement.
Miletus was no longer secure, and the vengeance of Darius was
gathering rapidly around them.  After some consultation they agreed to
repair to that town and territory in Thrace which had been given by
Darius to Histiaeus [267].  Miletus was intrusted to the charge of a
popular citizen named Pythagoras, and these hardy and restless
adventurers embarked for Thrace.  Aristagoras was fortunate enough to
reach in safety the settlement which had seemed so formidable a
possession to the Persian general; but his usual scheming and bold
ambition, not contented with that domain, led him to the attack of a
town in its vicinity.  The inhabitants agreed to resign it into his
hands, and, probably lulled into security by this concession, he was
suddenly, with his whole force, cut off by an incursion of the
Thracian foe.  So perished (B. C. 497) the author of many subsequent
and mighty events, and who, the more we regard his craft, his courage,
his perseverance, and activity, the vastness of his ends, and the
perseverance with which he pursued them, must be regarded by the
historian as one of the most stirring and remarkable spirits of that
enterprising age.

IX.  The people of Miletus had not, upon light grounds or with feeble
minds, embarked in the perilous attempt to recover their liberties.
Deep was the sentiment that inspired--solemn and stern the energy
which supported them.  The Persian generals now collected in one body
their native and auxiliary force.  The Cyprians, lately subdued (B. C.
496), were compelled to serve.  Egypt and Cilicia swelled the
armament, and the skill of the Phoenicians rendered yet more
formidable a fleet of six hundred vessels.  With this power the
barbarians advanced upon Miletus.  Most, if not all, of the Ionian
states prepared themselves for the struggle--delegates met at the
Panionium--it was agreed to shun the Persians upon land--to leave to
the Milesians the defence of their city--to equip the utmost naval
force they could command--and, assembling in one fleet off the small
isle of Lade, opposite to Miletus, to hazard the battle upon the seas.
Three hundred and fifty triremes were provided, and met at the
appointed place.  The discipline of the navy was not equal to the
valour of the enterprise; Dionysius, commander of the Phocaeans,
attempted, perhaps too rigorously, to enforce it;--jealousy and
disgust broke out among the troops--and the Samian leaders, whether
displeased with their allies, or tempted by the Persians, who, through
the medium of the exiled tyrants of Greece, serving with them,
maintained correspondence with the Ionians, secretly agreed to desert
in the midst of the ensuing battle.  This compact made, the
Phoenicians commenced the attack, and the Ionians, unsuspicious of
treachery, met them with a contracted line.  In the beginning of the
engagement, the Samians, excepting only eleven ships (whose captains
were afterward rewarded by a public column in their native
market-place), fulfilled their pledge, and sailed away to Samos.  The
Lesbians, stationed next them, followed their example, and confusion
and flight became contagious.  The Chians alone redeemed the character
of the allies, aided, indeed, by Dionysius the Phocaean, who, after
taking three of the enemy’s ships, refused to retreat till the day was
gone, and then, sailing to Phoenicia, sunk several trading vessels,
enriched himself with their spoil, and eventually reaching Sicily,
became renowned as a pirate, formidable to the Carthaginian and
Tyrsenian families of the old Phoenician foe, but holding his Grecian
countrymen sacred from his depredations.

The Persian armament now bent all its vengeance on Miletus; they
besieged it both by land and by sea--every species of military machine
then known was directed against its walls, and, in the sixth year
after the revolt of Aristagoras, Miletus fell (B. C. 494)--Miletus,
the capital of Ionia--the mother of a hundred colonies!  Pittacus,
Thales, Arctinus, were among the great names she gave to science and
to song.  Worthy of her renown, she fell amid the ruins of that
freedom which she showed how nobly she could have continued to adorn
by proving how sternly she could defend.  The greater part of the
citizens were slain--those who remained, with the women and the
children, were borne into slavery by the victors.  Their valour and
renown touched the heart of Darius, and he established the captives in
a city by that part of the Erythraean Sea which receives the waters of
the Barbarian Tigris.  Their ancient territories were portioned out
between the Persians and the Carians of Pedasa.

X.  The Athenians received the news of this fatal siege with the
deepest sorrow, and Herodotus records an anecdote illustrative of the
character of that impassioned people, and interesting to the history
of their early letters.  Phrynichus, a disciple of Thespis,
represented on the stage the capture of Miletus, and the whole
audience burst into tears.  The art of the poet was considered
criminal in thus forcibly reminding the Athenians of a calamity which
was deemed their own: he was fined a thousand drachmae, and the
repetition of the piece forbidden--a punishment that was but a
glorious homage to the genius of the poet and the sensibility of the

After innumerable adventures, in which he exhibited considerable but
perverted abilities, Histiaeus fell into the hands of Artaphernes, and
died upon the cross.  Darius rebuked the zeal of the satrap, and
lamented the death of a man, whose situation, perhaps, excused his

And now the cloud swept onward--one after one the Ionian cities were
reduced--the islands of Chios, Lesbos, Tenedos, depopulated; and all
Ionia subjugated and enslaved.  The Persian fleet proceeded to subdue
all the towns and territories to the left of the Hellespont.  At this
time their success in the Chersonesus drove from that troubled isthmus
a chief, whose acute and dauntless faculties made him subsequently the
scourge of Persia and the deliverer of Greece.

XI.  We have seen Miltiades, nephew to the first of that name, arrive
at the Chersonesus--by a stroke of dexterous perfidy, seize the
persons of the neighbouring chieftains--attain the sovereignty of that
peninsula, and marry the daughter of a Thracian prince.  In his
character was united, with much of the intellect, all the duplicity of
the Greek.  During the war between Darius and the Scythians, while
affecting to follow the Persian army, he had held traitorous
intercourse with the foe.  And proposed to the Grecian chiefs to
destroy the bridge of boats across the Danube confided to their
charge; so that, what with the force of the Scythians and the pressure
of famine, the army of Darius would have perished among the Scythian
wastes, and a mighty enemy have been lost to Greece--a scheme that,
but for wickedness, would have been wise.  With all his wiles, and all
his dishonesty, Miltiades had the art, not only of rendering authority
firm, but popular.  Driven from his state by the Scythian Nomades, he
was voluntarily recalled by the very subjects over whom he had
established an armed sovereignty--a rare occurrence in that era of
republics.  Surrounded by fierce and restless foes, and exercised in
constant, if petty warfare, Miltiades had acquired as much the
experience of camps as the subtleties of Grecian diplomacy; yet, like
many of the wise of small states, he seems to have been more crafty
than rash--the first for flight wherever flight was the better policy
--but the first for battle if battle were the more prudent.  He had in
him none of the inconsiderate enthusiasm of the hero--none of the
blind but noble subservience to honour.  Valour seems to have been for
his profound intellect but the summation of chances, and when we
afterward find him the most daring soldier, it is only because he was
the acutest calculator.

On seeing the Phoenician fleet, raider Persia, arrive off the Isle of
Tenedos, which is opposite the Chersonesus, Miltiades resolved not to
wait the issue of a battle: as before he had fled the Scythian, so
now, without a struggle, he succumbed to the Phoenician sword.  He
loaded five vessels with his property--with four he eluded the hostile
fleet--the fifth, commanded by his eldest son, was pursued and taken
[268].  In triumphant safety the chief of the Chersonesus arrived at
Athens.  He arrived at that free state to lose the dignity of a
Thracian prince, and suddenly to be reminded that he was an Athenian
citizen.  He was immediately prosecuted for the crime of tyranny.  His
influence or his art, admiration of his genius, or compassion of his
reverses, however, procured him an acquittal.  We may well suppose
that, high-born and wealthy, he lost no occasion of cementing his
popularity in his native state.

XII.  Meanwhile, the Persians suspended for that year all further
hostilities against the Ionians.  Artaphernes endeavoured to
conciliate the subdued colonies by useful laws, impartial taxes, and
benign recommendations to order and to peace.  The next year, however,
that satrap was recalled (B. C. 492), and Mardonius, a very young
noble, the son-in-law of Darius, was appointed, at the head of a
considerable naval and military force, to the administration of the
affairs in that part of the Persian empire.  Entering Ionia, he
executed a novel, a daring, but no unstatesman-like stroke of policy.
He removed all the Ionian tyrants, and everywhere restored republican
forms of government; deeming, unquestionably, that he is the securest
master of distant provinces who establishes among them the
institutions which they best love.  Then proceeding to the Hellespont,
Mardonius collected his mighty fleets and powerful army, and passed
through Europe towards the avowed objects of the Persian vengeance--
the cities of Eretria and Athens.

From the time that the Athenians had assisted the forces of Miletus
and long in the destruction of Sardis, their offence had rankled in
the bosom of Darius.  Like most monarchs, he viewed as more heinous
offenders the foreign abetters of rebellion, than the rebels
themselves.  Religion, no doubt, conspired to augment his indignation.
In the conflagration of Sardis the temple of the great Persian deity
had perished, and the inexpiated sacrilege made a duty of revenge.  So
keenly, indeed, did Darius resent the share that the remote Athenians
had taken in the destruction of his Lydian capital, that, on receiving
the intelligence, he is said to have called for his bow, and, shooting
an arrow in the air, to have prayed for vengeance against the
offenders; and three times every day, as he sat at table, his
attendants were commanded to repeat to him, “Sir, remember the

XIII.  But the design of Mardonius was not only directed against the
Athenians and the state of Eretria, it extended also to the rest of
Greece: preparations so vast were not meant to be wasted upon foes
apparently insignificant, but rather to consolidate the Persian
conquests on the Asiatic coasts, and to impress on the neighbouring
continent of Europe adequate conceptions of the power of the great
king.  By sea, Mardonius subdued the islanders of Thasus, wealthy in
its gold-mines; by land he added to the Persian dependances in Thrace
and Macedonia.  But losses, both by storm and battle, drove him back
to Asia, and delayed for a season the deliberate and organized
invasion of Greece.

In the following year (B. C. 491), while the tributary cities
Mardonius had subdued were employed in constructing vessels of war and
transports for cavalry, ambassadors were despatched by Darius to the
various states of Greece, demanding the homage of earth and water--a
preliminary calculated to ascertain who would resist, who submit to,
his power--and certain to afford a pretext, in the one case for
empire, in the other for invasion.  Many of the cities of the
continent, and all the islands visited by the ambassadors, had the
timidity to comply with the terms proposed.  Sparta and Athens,
hitherto at variance, united at once in a haughty and indignant
refusal.  To so great a height was the popular rage in either state
aroused by the very demand, that the Spartans threw the ambassadors
into their wells, and the Athenians, into their pit of punishment,
bidding them thence get their earth and water; a singular coincidence
of excess in the two states--to be justified by no pretence--to be
extenuated only by the reflection, that liberty ever becomes a species
of noble madness when menaced by foreign danger. [269]

XIV.  With the rest of the islanders, the people of Aegina, less
resolute than their near neighbours and ancient foes, the Athenians,
acceded to the proposal of tribute.  This, more than the pusillanimity
of the other states, alarmed and inflamed the Athenians; they
suspected that the aeginetans had formed some hostile alliance against
them with the Persians, and hastened to accuse them to Sparta of
betraying the liberties of Greece.  Nor was there slight ground for
the suspicions of the Athenians against Aegina.  The people of that
island had hereditary and bitter feuds with the Athenians, dating
almost from their independence of their parent state of Epidaurus;
mercantile jealousies were added to ancestral enmity, and the wares of
Athens were forbidden all application to sacred uses in Aegina.  We
have seen the recent occasion on which Attica was invaded by these
hostile neighbours, then allied with Thebes: and at that period the
naval force of gins was such as to exceed the unconscious and untried
resources of the Athenians.  The latter had thus cause at once to hate
and to dread a rival placed by nature in so immediate a vicinity to
themselves, that the submission of Aegina to the Persian seemed in
itself sufficient for the destruction of Athens.

XV.  The Athenian ambassadors met with the most favourable reception
at Sparta.  The sense of their common danger, and sympathy in their
mutual courage, united at once these rival states; even the rash and
hitherto unrelenting Cleomenes eagerly sought a reconciliation with
his former foe.  That prince went in person to Aegina, determined to
ascertain the authors of the suspected treachery;--with that
characteristic violence which he never provided the means to support,
and which so invariably stamps this unable and headstrong Spartan, as
one who would have been a fool, if he had not been a madman--Cleomenes
endeavoured to seize the persons of the accused.  He was stoutly
resisted, and disgracefully baffled, in this impotent rashness; and
his fellow-king, Demaratus, whom we remember to have suddenly deserted
Cleomenes at Eleusis, secretly connived with the Aeginetans in their
opposition to his colleague, and furnished them with an excuse, by
insinuating that Cleomenes had been corrupted by the Athenians.  But
Demaratus was little aware of the dark and deadly passions which
Cleomenes combined with his constitutional insanity.  Revenge made a
great component of his character, and the Grecian history records few
instances of a nature more vehemently vindictive.

There had been various rumours at Sparta respecting the legitimacy of
Demaratus.  Cleomenes entered into a secret intrigue with a kinsman of
his colleague, named Leotychides, who cherished an equal hatred
against Demaratus [270]; the conditions between them were, that
Cleomenes should assist in raising Leotychides to the throne of
Demaratus, and Leotychides should assist Cleomenes in his vengeance
against Aegina.  No sooner was this conspiracy agreed upon than
Leotychides propagated everywhere the report that the birth of
Demaratus was spurious.  The Spartans attached the greatest value to
legitimacy,--they sent to consult the Pythian--and Cleomenes, through
the aid of Colon, a powerful citizen of Delphi, bribed the oracle to
assert the illegitimacy of his foe.  Demaratus was deposed.  Sinking
at once into the rank of a private citizen, he was elected to some
inferior office.  His enemy, Leotychides, now upon his throne, sent
him, by way of insult, a message to demand which he preferred--his
past or his present dignity.  Demaratus was stung, and answered, that
the question might fix the date of much weal or much wo to Sparta;
saying this, he veiled his head--sought his home--sacrificed to
Jupiter--and solemnly adjured his mother to enlighten him as to his
legitimacy.  The parental answer was far from unequivocal, and the
matron appeared desirous of imputing the distinction of his birth to
the shade of an ancient Spartan hero, Astrobachus, rather than to the
earthly embrace of her husband.  Demaratus heard, and formed his
decision: he escaped from Sparta, baffled his pursuers, and fled into
Asia, where he was honourably received and largely endowed by the
beneficent Darius.

XVI.  Leotychides, elected to the regal dignity, accompanied Cleomenes
to Aegina: the people of that isle yielded to the authority they could
not effectually resist; and ten of their most affluent citizens were
surrendered as hostages to Athens.  But, in the meanwhile, the
collusion of Cleomenes with the oracle was discovered--the priestess
was solemnly deposed--and Cleomenes dreaded the just indignation of
his countrymen.  He fled to Thessaly, and thence passing among the
Arcadians, he endeavoured to bind that people by the darkest oaths to
take arms against his native city--so far could hatred stimulate a man
consistent only in his ruling passion of revenge.  But the mighty
power of Persia now lowering over Lacedaemon, the Spartan citizens
resolved to sacrifice even justice to discretion: it was not a time to
distract their forces by new foes, and they invited Cleomenes back to
Sparta, with the offer of his former station.  He returned, but his
violent career, happily for all, was now closed; his constitutional
madness, no longer confined to doubtful extravagance, burst forth into
incontrollable excess.  He was put under confinement, and obtaining a
sword from a Helot, who feared to disobey his commands, he
deliberately destroyed himself--not by one wound, but slowly gashing
the flesh from his limbs until he gradually ascended to the nobler and
more mortal parts.  This ferocious suicide excited universal horror,
and it was generally deemed the divine penalty of his numerous and
sacrilegious crimes: the only dispute among the Greeks was, to which
of his black offences the wrath of Heaven was the most justly due.

XVII.  No sooner did the news of his suicide reach the Aeginetans than
those proud and wealthy islanders sought, by an embassy to Sparta, to
regain their hostages yet detained at Athens.  With the death of
Cleomenes, the anger of Sparta against Aegina suddenly ceased--or,
rather, we must suppose that a new party, in fellowship with the
Aeginetan oligarchy, came into power.  The Spartans blamed Leotychides
for his co-operation with Cleomenes; they even offered to give him up
to the Aeginetans--and it was finally agreed that he should accompany
the ambassadors of Aegina to Athens, and insist on the surrender of
the hostages.  But the Athenians had now arrived at that spirit of
independence, when nor the deadly blows of Persia, nor the iron sword
of Sparta, nor the treacherous hostilities of their nearest neighbour,
could quell their courage or subdue their pride.  They disregarded the
presence and the orations of Leotychides, and peremptorily refused
to surrender their hostages.  Hostilities between Aegina and Athens
were immediately renewed.  The Aeginetans captured (B. C. 494) the
sacred vessel then stationed at Sunium, in which several of the most
eminent Athenians were embarked for the festival of Apollo; nor could
the sanctity of the voyage preserve the captives from the ignominy of
irons.  The Athenians resolved upon revenge, and a civil dissension in
Aegina placed it in their power.  An Aeginetan traitor, named
Nicodromus, offered them his assistance, and, aided by the popular
party opposed to the oligarchical government, he seized the citadel.
With twenty ships from Corinth, and fifty of their own, the Athenians
invaded Aegina; but, having been delayed in making the adequate
preparations, they arrived a day later than had been stipulated.
Nicodromus fled; the oligarchy restored, took signal and barbarous
vengeance upon such of their insurgent countrymen as fell into their
hands.  Meanwhile, the Athenian fleet obtained a victory at sea, and
the war still continued.

XVIII.  While, seemingly unconscious of greater dangers, Athens thus
practised her rising energies against the little island of Aegina,
thrice every day the servants of the Persian king continued to
exclaim, “Sir, remember the Athenians!” [272]  The traitor, Hippias,
constantly about the person of the courteous monarch, never failed to
stimulate still further his vengeance by appealing to his ambition.
At length, Darius resolved no longer to delay the accomplishment of
his designs.  He recalled Mardonius, whose energy, indeed, had not
been proportioned to his powers, and appointed two other generals--
Datis, a native of the warlike Media, and Artaphernes, his own nephew,
son to the former satrap of that name.  These were expressly ordered
to march at once against Eretria and Athens.  And Hippias, now broken
in frame, advanced in age [273], and after an exile of twenty years,
accompanied the Persian army--sanguine of success, and grasping, at
the verge of life the shadow of his former sceptre.


The Persian Generals enter Europe.--Invasion of Naxos, Carystus,
Eretria.--The Athenians Demand the Aid of Sparta.--The Result of their
Mission and the Adventure of their Messenger.--The Persians advance to
Marathon.--The Plain Described.--Division of Opinion in the Athenian
Camp.--The Advice of Miltiades prevails.--The Dream of Hippias.--The
Battle of Marathon.

I.  On the Cilician coast the Persian armament encamped--thence, in a
fleet of six hundred triremes, it sailed to Samos (B. C. 490)--passed
through the midst of the clustering Cyclades, and along that part of
the Aegaean Sea called “the Icarian,” from the legendary fate of the
son of Daedalus--invaded Naxos--burnt her town and temples, and
sparing the sacred Delos, in which the Median Datis reverenced the
traditionary birthplace of two deities analogous to those most
honoured in the Persian creed [274]--awed into subjection the various
isles, until it arrived at Euboea, divided but by a strait from
Attica, and containing the city of the Eretrians.  The fleet first
assailed Carystus, whose generous citizens refused both to aid against
their neighbours, and to give hostages for their conduct.  Closely
besieged, and their lands wasted, they were compelled, however, to
surrender to the Persians.  Thence the victorious armament passed to
Eretria.  The Athenians had sent to the relief of that city the four
thousand colonists whom they had established in the island--but fear,
jealousy, division, were within the walls.  Ruin seemed certain, and a
chief of the Eretrians urged the colonists to quit a city which they
were unable to save.  They complied with the advice, and reached
Attica in safety.  Eretria, however, withstood a siege of six days; on
the seventh the city was betrayed to the barbarians by two of that
fatal oligarchical party, who in every Grecian city seem to have
considered no enemy so detestable as the majority of their own
citizens; the place was pillaged--the temples burnt--the inhabitants
enslaved.  Here the Persians rested for a few days ere they embarked
for Attica.

II.  Unsupported and alone, the Athenians were not dismayed.  A
swift-footed messenger was despatched to Sparta, to implore its prompt
assistance.  On the day after his departure from Athens, he reached
his destination, went straight to the assembled magistrates, and thus
addressed them:

“Men of Lacedaemon, the Athenians supplicate your aid; suffer not the
most ancient of the Grecian cities to be enslaved by the barbarian.
Already Eretria is subjected to their yoke, and all Greece is
diminished by the loss of that illustrious city.”

The resource the Athenians had so much right to expect failed them.
The Spartans, indeed, resolved to assist Athens, but not until
assistance would have come too late.  They declared that their
religion forbade them to commence a march till the moon was at her
full, and this was only the ninth day of the month [275].  With this
unsatisfying reply, the messenger returned to Athens.  But, employed
in this arduous enterprise--his imagination inflamed by the greatness
of the danger--and its workings yet more kindled by the loneliness of
his adventure and the mountain stillness of the places through which
he passed, the Athenian messenger related, on his return, a vision
less probably the creation of his invention than of his excited fancy.
Passing over the Mount Parthenius, amid whose wild recesses gloomed
the antique grove dedicated to Telephus, the son of Hercules [276],
the Athenian heard a voice call to him aloud, and started to behold
that mystic god to whom, above the rest of earth, were dedicated the
hills and woods of Arcady--the Pelasgic Pan.  The god bade him “ask at
Athens why the Athenians forgot his worship--he who loved them well--
and might yet assist them at their need.”

Such was the tale of the messenger.  The lively credulities of the
people believed its truth, and in calmer times dedicated a temple to
the deity, venerated him with annual sacrifices, and the race of

III.  While the Athenians listened to the dreams of this poetical
superstition, the mighty thousands of the Mede and Persian landed on
the Attic coast, and, conducted by Hippias among their leaders,
marched to the plain of Marathon, which the traveller still beholds
stretching wide and level, amid hills and marshes, at the distance of
only ten miles from the gates of Athens.  Along the shore the plain
extends to the length of six miles--inland it exceeds two.  He who
surveys it now looks over a dreary waste, whose meager and arid
herbage is relieved but by the scanty foliage of unfrequent shrubs or
pear-trees, and a few dwarf pines drooping towards the sea.  Here and
there may be seen the grazing buffalo, or the peasant bending at his
plough:--a distant roof, a ruined chapel, are not sufficient evidences
of the living to interpose between the imagination of the spectator
and the dead.  Such is the present Marathon--we are summoned back to
the past.

IV.  It will be remembered that the Athenians were divided into ten
tribes at the instigation of Clisthenes.  Each of these tribes
nominated a general; there were therefore ten leaders to the Athenian
army.  Among them was Miltiades, who had succeeded in ingratiating
himself with the Athenian people, and obtained from their suffrages a
command. [277]

Aided by a thousand men from Plataea, then on terms of intimate
friendship with the Athenians, the little army marched from the city,
and advanced to the entrance of the plain of Marathon.  Here they
arrayed themselves in martial order, near the temple of Hercules, to
the east of the hills that guard the upper part of the valley.  Thus
encamped, and in sight of the gigantic power of the enemy, darkening
the long expanse that skirts the sea, divisions broke out among the
leaders;--some contended that a battle was by no means to be risked
with such inferior forces--others, on the contrary, were for giving
immediate battle.  Of this latter advice was Miltiades--he was
supported by a man already of high repute, though now first presented
to our notice, and afterward destined to act a great and splendid part
in the drama of his times.  Aristides was one of the generals of the
army [278], and strenuously co-operated with Miltiades in the policy
of immediate battle.

Despite, however, the military renown of the one, and the civil
eminence of the other, the opposite and more tame opinion seemed
likely to prevail, when Miltiades suddenly thus addressed the
Polemarch Callimachus.  That magistrate, the third of the nine
archons, was held by virtue of his office equal in dignity to the
military leaders, and to him was confided the privilege of a casting

“On you, Callimachus,” said the chief of the Chersonese, “on you it
rests, whether Athens shall be enslaved, or whether from age to age
your country, freed by your voice, shall retain in yours a name dearer
to her even than those of Aristogiton and Harmodius [279].  Never
since the foundation of Athens was she placed in so imminent a peril.
If she succumb to the Mede, she is rendered again to the tyranny of
Hippias--but if she conquer, she may rise to the first eminence among
the states of Greece.  How this may be accomplished, and how upon your
decision rests the event, I will at once explain.  The sentiments of
our leaders are divided--these are for instant engagement, those for
procrastination.  Depend upon it, if we delay, some sedition, some
tumult will break out among the Athenians, and may draw a part of them
to favour the Medes; but if we engage at once, and before a single
dissension takes from us a single man, we may, if the gods give us
equal fortune, obtain the victory.  Consider the alternative--our
decision depends on you.”

V.  The arguments of Miltiades convinced Callimachus, who knew well
the many divisions of the city, the strength which Hippias and the
Pisistratidae still probably possessed within its walls, and who could
not but allow that a superior force becomes ever more fearful the more
deliberately it is regarded.  He interposed his authority.  It was
decided to give battle.  Each general commanded in turn his single
day.  When it came to the turn of Aristides, he gave up his right to
Miltiades, showing his colleagues that it was no disgrace to submit to
the profound experience of another.  The example once set was
universally followed, and Miltiades was thus left in absolute and
undivided command.  But that able and keen-sighted chief, fearing
perhaps that if he took from another his day of command, jealousy
might damp the ardour of the general thus deprived, and, as it were,
degraded, waited till his own appointed day before he commenced the

VI.  On the night before Hippias conducted the barbarians to the
plains of Marathon, he is said to have dreamed a dream.  He thought he
was with his mother!  In the fondness of human hopes he interpreted
the vision favourably, and flattered himself that he should regain his
authority, and die in his own house of old age.  The morning now
arrived (B. C. 490) that was to attest the veracity of his

VII.  To the left of the Athenians was a low chain of hills, clothed
with trees (and which furnished them timber to break the charge of the
Persian horse)--to their right a torrent;--their front was long, for,
to render it more imposing in extent, and to prevent being outflanked
by the Persian numbers, the centre ranks were left weak and shallow,
but on either wing the troops were drawn up more solidly and strong.
Callimachus, the polemarch, commanded the right wing--the Plataeans
formed the left.  They had few, if any, horsemen or archers.  The
details which we possess of their arms and military array, if not in
this, in other engagements of the same period, will complete the
picture.  We may behold them clad in bright armour, well proof and
tempered, which covered breast and back--the greaves, so often
mentioned by Homer, were still retained--their helmets were wrought
and crested, the cones mostly painted in glowing colours, and the
plumage of feathers or horse-hair rich and waving, in proportion to
the rank of the wearer.  Broad, sturdy, and richly ornamented were
their bucklers--the pride and darling of their arms, the loss of which
was the loss of honour; their spears were ponderous, thick, and long--
a chief mark of contradistinction from the slight shaft of Persia--
and, with their short broadsword, constituted their main weapons of
offence.  No Greek army marched to battle without vows, and sacrifice,
and prayer--and now, in the stillness of the pause, the soothsayers
examined the entrails of the victims--they were propitious, and
Callimachus solemnly vowed to Diana a victim for the slaughter of
every foe.  Loud broke the trumpets [280]--the standards wrought with
the sacred bird of Athens were raised on high [281];--it was the
signal of battle--and the Athenians rushed with an impetuous vehemence
upon the Persian power.  “The first Greeks of whom I have heard,” says
the simple Halicarnassean, “who ever ran to attack a foe--the first,
too, who ever beheld without dismay the garb and armour of the Medes;
for hitherto in Greece the very name of Mede had excited terror.”

VIII.  When the Persian army, with its numerous horse, animal as well
as man protected by plates of mail [283]--its expert bowmen--its lines
and deep files of turbaned soldiers, gorgeous with many a blazing
standard,--headed by leaders well hardened, despite their gay garbs
and adorned breastplates, in many a more even field;--when, I say,
this force beheld the Athenians rushing towards them, they considered
them, thus few, and destitute alike of cavalry and archers [284], as
madmen hurrying to destruction.  But it was evidently not without
deliberate calculation that Miltiades had so commenced the attack.
The warlike experience of his guerilla life had taught him to know the
foe against whom he fought.  To volunteer the assault was to forestall
and cripple the charge of the Persian horse--besides, the long lances,
the heavy arms, the hand-to-hand valour of the Greeks, must have been
no light encounter to the more weakly mailed and less formidably-armed
infantry of the East.  Accustomed themselves to give the charge, it
was a novelty and a disadvantage to receive it.  Long, fierce, and
stubborn was the battle.  The centre wing of the barbarians, composed
of the Sacians and the pure Persian race, at length pressed hard upon
the shallow centre of the Greeks, drove them back into the country,
and, eager with pursuit, left their own wings to the charge of
Callimachus on the one side and the Plataean forces on the other.  The
brave polemarch, after the most signal feats of valour, fell fighting
in the field; but his troops, undismayed, smote on with spear and
sword.  The barbarians retreated backward to the sea, where swamps and
marshes encumbered their movements, and here (though the Athenians did
not pursue them far) the greater portion were slain, hemmed in by the
morasses, and probably ridden down by their own disordered cavalry.
Meanwhile, the two tribes that had formed the centre, one of which was
commanded by Aristides [285], retrieved themselves with a mighty
effort, and the two wings, having routed their antagonists, now
inclining towards each other, intercepted the barbarian centre, which,
thus attacked, front and rear (large trees felled and scattered over
the plain obstructing the movements of their cavalry), was defeated
with prodigious slaughter.  Evening came on [286]:--confused and
disorderly, the Persians now only thought of flight: the whole army
retired to their ships, hard chased by the Grecian victors, who, amid
the carnage, fired the fleet.  Cynaegirus, brother to Aeschylus, the
tragic poet (himself highly distinguished for his feats that day),
seized one of the vessels by the poop: his hand was severed by an axe;
he died gloriously of his wounds.  But to none did the fortunes of
that field open a more illustrious career than to a youth of the tribe
Leontis, in whom, though probably then but a simple soldier in the
ranks, was first made manifest the nature and the genius destined to
command.  The name of that youth was Themistocles [287].  Seven
vessels were captured--six thousand four hundred of the barbarians
fell in the field--the Athenians and their brave ally lost only one
hundred and ninety-two; but among them perished many of their bravest
nobles.  It was a superstition not uncharacteristic of that
imaginative people, and evincing how greatly their ardour was aroused,
that many of them (according to Plutarch) fancied they beheld the
gigantic shade of their ancestral Theseus, completely armed, and
bearing down before them upon the foe.

So perished the hopes of the unfortunate Hippias; obscure and
inglorious in his last hour, the exiled prince fell confounded amid
the general slaughter. [288]

IX.  Despite the capture of some vessels, and the conflagration of
others, the Persians still retained a considerable fleet, and,
succeeding in boarding their Eretrian plunder (which they had left on
the Euboean Isle), they passed thence the promontory of Sunium, with
the intention of circumventing the Athenians, and arriving at Athens
before them--a design which it was supposed they were induced to form
by the treachery of some one suspected, without sufficient proof, to
belong to the house of the Alcmaeonids, who held up a shield as a
signal to the Persians while they were under sail [289].  But the
Athenians were under a prompt and vigilant commander, and while the
barbarian fleet doubled the Cape of Sunium, they reached their city,
and effectually prevented the designs of the foe.  Aristides, with the
tribe under his command, was left on the field to guard the prisoners
and the booty, and his scrupulous honesty was evinced by his jealous
care over the scattered and uncounted treasure [290].  The painter of
the nobler schools might find perhaps few subjects worthier of his art
than Aristides watching at night amid the torches of his men over the
plains of Marathon, in sight of the blue Aegean, no longer crowded
with the barbarian masts;--and the white columns of the temple of
Hercules, beside which the Athenians had pitched their camp.

The Persian fleet anchored off Phalerum, the Athenian harbour, and
remaining there, menacing but inactive, a short time, sailed back to

X.  The moon had passed her full, when two thousand Spartans arrived
at Athens: the battle was over and the victory won; but so great was
their desire to see the bodies of the formidable Medes, that they
proceeded to Marathon, and, returning to Athens, swelled the triumph
of her citizens by their applause and congratulations.

XI.  The marble which the Persians had brought with them, in order to
erect as a trophy of the victory they anticipated, was, at a
subsequent period, wrought by Phidias into a statue of Nemesis.  A
picture of the battle, representing Miltiades in the foremost place,
and solemnly preserved in public, was deemed no inadequate reward to
that great captain; and yet, conspicuous above the level plain of
Marathon, rises a long barrow, fifteen feet in height, the supposed
sepulchre of the Athenian heroes.  Still does a romantic legend, not
unfamiliar with our traditions of the north, give a supernatural
terror to the spot.  Nightly along the plain are yet heard by
superstition the neighings of chargers and the rushing shadows of
spectral war [291].  And still, throughout the civilized world
(civilized how much by the arts and lore of Athens!) men of every
clime, of every political persuasion, feel as Greeks at the name of
Marathon.  Later fields have presented the spectacle of an equal
valour, and almost the same disparities of slaughter; but never, in
the annals of earth, were united so closely in our applause,
admiration for the heroism of the victors, and sympathy for the
holiness of their cause.  It was the first great victory of OPINION!
and its fruits were reaped, not by Athens only, but by all Greece
then, as by all time thereafter, in a mighty and imperishable
harvest,--the invisible not less than the actual force of despotism
was broken.  Nor was it only that the dread which had hung upon the
Median name was dispelled--nor that free states were taught their
pre-eminence over the unwieldy empires which the Persian conquerors had
destroyed,--a greater lesson was taught to Greece, when she discovered
that the monarch of Asia could not force upon a petty state the
fashion of its government, or the selection of its rulers.  The defeat
of Hippias was of no less value than that of Darius; and the same blow
which struck down the foreign invader smote also the hopes of domestic

One successful battle for liberty quickens and exalts that proud and
emulous spirit from which are called forth the civilization and the
arts that liberty should produce, more rapidly than centuries of
repose.  To Athens the victory of Marathon was a second Solon.


[1]  In their passage through the press I have, however, had many
opportunities to consult and refer to Mr. Thirlwall’s able and careful

[2]  The passage in Aristotle (Meteorol., l. I, c. 14), in which,
speaking of the ancient Hellas (the country about Dodona and the river
Achelous), the author says it was inhabited by a people (along with
the Helli, or Selli) then called Graeci, now Hellenes (tote men
Graikoi, nun de Hellaenes) is well known.  The Greek chronicle on the
Arundel marbles asserts, that the Greeks were called Graeci before
they were called Hellenes; in fact, Graeci was most probably once a
name for the Pelasgi, or for a powerful, perhaps predominant, tribe of
the Pelasgi widely extended along the western coast--by them the name
was borne into Italy, and (used indiscriminately with that of Pelasgi)
gave the Latin appellation to the Hellenic or Grecian people.

[3]  Modern travellers, in their eloquent lamentations over the now
niggard waters of these immortal streams, appear to forget that Strabo
expressly informs us that the Cephisus flowed in the manner of a
torrent, and failed altogether in the summer.  “Much the same,” he
adds, “was the Ilissus.”  A deficiency of water was always a principal
grievance in Attica, as we may learn from the laws of Solon relative
to wells.

[4]  Platon. Timaeus.  Clinton’s Fasti Hellenici, vol. i., p. 5.

[5]  According to some they were from India, to others from Egypt, to
others again from Phoenicia.  They have been systematized into
Bactrians, and Scythians, and Philistines--into Goths, and into Celts;
and tracked by investigations as ingenious as they are futile, beyond
the banks of the Danube to their settlements in the Peloponnese.  No
erudition and no speculation can, however, succeed in proving their
existence in any part of the world prior to their appearance in

[6]  Sophoc. Ajax, 1251.

[7]  All those words (in the Latin) which make the foundation of a
language, expressive of the wants or simple relations of life, are
almost literally Greek--such as pater, frater, aratrum, bos, ager,
etc.  For the derivation of the Latin from the Aeolic dialect of
Greece, see “Scheid’s Prolegomena to Lennep’s Etymologicon Linguae

[8]  The Leleges, Dryopes, and most of the other hordes prevalent in
Greece, with the Pelasgi, I consider, with Mr. Clinton, but as tribes
belonging to the great Pelasgic family.  One tribe would evidently
become more civilized than the rest, in proportion to the social state
of the lands through which it migrated--its reception of strangers
from the more advanced East--or according as the circumstances of the
soil in which it fixed its abode stimulated it to industry, or forced
it to invention.  The tradition relative to Pelasgus, that while it
asserts him to have been the first that dwelt in Arcadia, declares
also that he first taught men to build huts, wear garments of skins,
and exchange the yet less nutritious food of herbs and roots for the
sweet and palatable acorns of the “fagus,” justly puzzled Pausanias.
Such traditions, if they prove any thing, which I more than doubt,
tend to prove that the tribe personified by the word “Pelasgus,”
 migrated into that very Arcadia alleged to have been their aboriginal
home, and taught their own rude arts to the yet less cultivated
population they found there.

[9]  See Isaiah xxiii.

[10]  The received account of the agricultural skill of the Pelasgi is
tolerably well supported.  Dionysius tells us that the Aboriginals
having assigned to those Pelasgi, whom the oracle sent from Dodona
into Italy, the marshy and unprofitable land called Velia, they soon
drained the fen:--their love of husbandry contributed, no doubt, to
form the peculiar character of their civilization and religion.

[11]  Solinus and Pliny state that the Pelasgi first brought letters
into Italy.  Long the leading race of Italy, their power declined,
according to Dionysius, two generations before the Trojan war.

[12]  Paus. Arcad., c. xxxviii.  In a previous chapter (II.) that
accomplished antiquary observes, that it appeared to him that Cecrops
and Lycaon (son of Pelasgus and founder of Lycosura) were
contemporaries.  By the strong and exaggerating expression of
Pausanias quoted in the text, we must suppose, not that he considered
Lycosura the first town of the earth, but the first walled and
fortified city.  The sons of Lycaon were great builders of cities, and
in their time rapid strides in civilization appear by tradition to
have been made in the Peloponnesus.  The Pelasgic architecture is
often confounded with the Cyclopean.  The Pelasgic masonry is
polygonal, each stone fitting into the other without cement; that
called the Cyclopean, and described by Pausanias, is utterly
different, being composed by immense blocks of stone, with small
pebbles inserted in the interstices.  (See Gell’s Topography of Rome
and its Vicinity.)  By some antiquaries, who have not made the mistake
of confounding these distinct orders of architecture, the Cyclopean
has been deemed more ancient than the Pelasgic,--but this also is an
error.  Lycosura was walled by the Pelasgians between four and five
centuries prior to the introduction of the Cyclopean masonry--in the
building of the city of Tiryns.  Sir William Gell maintains the
possibility of tracing the walls of Lycosura near the place now called
Surias To Kastro.

[13]  The expulsion of the Hyksos, which was not accomplished by one
sudden, but by repeated revolutions, caused many migrations; among
others, according to the Egyptians, that of Danaus.

[14]  The Egyptian monarchs, in a later age, employed the Phoenicians
in long and adventurous maritime undertakings.  At a comparatively
recent date, Neco, king of Egypt, despatched certain Phoenicians on no
less an enterprise than that of the circumnavigation of Africa.
[Herod., iv., 12.  Rennell., Geog. of Herod.]  That monarch was indeed
fitted for great designs.  The Mediterranean and the Red Sea already
received his fleets, and he had attempted to unite them by a canal
which would have rendered Africa an island.  [Herod., ii., 158, 159.
Heeren., Phoenicians, c. iii.  See also Diodorus.]

[15]  The general habits of a people can in no age preclude exceptions
in individuals.  Indian rajahs do not usually travel, but we had an
Indian rajah for some years in the Regent’s Park; the Chinese are not
in the habit of visiting England, but a short time ago some Chinese
were in London.  Grant that Phoenicians had intercourse with Egypt and
with Greece, and nothing can be less improbable than that a Phoenician
vessel may have contained some Egyptian adventurers.  They might
certainly be men of low rank and desperate fortunes--they might be
fugitives from the law--but they might not the less have seemed
princes and sages to a horde of Pelasgic savages.

[16]  The authorities in favour of the Egyptian origin of Cecrops
are.--Diod., lib. i.; Theopomp.; Schol. Aristoph.; Plot.; Suidas.
Plato speaks of the ancient connexion between Sais and Athens.  Solon
finds the names of Erechtheus and Cecrops in Egypt, according to the
same authority, I grant a doubtful one (Plat. Critias.)  The best
positive authority of which I am aware in favour of the contrary
supposition that Cecrops was indigenous, is Apollodorus.

[17]  To enter into all the arguments that have been urged on either
side relative to Cecrops would occupy about two hundred pages of this
work, and still leave the question in dispute.  Perhaps two hundred
pages might be devoted to subjects more generally instructive.

[18]  So, in the Peruvian traditions, the apparition of two persons of
majestic form and graceful garments, appearing alone and unarmed on
the margin of the Lake Titiaca, sufficed to reclaim a naked and
wretched horde from their savage life, to inculcate the elements of
the social union, and to collect a people in establishing a throne.

[19]  “Like the Greeks,” says Herodotus (book ii., c. 112), “the
Egyptians confine themselves to one wife.”  Latterly, this among the
Greeks, though a common, was not an invariable, restraint; but more on
this hereafter.

[20]  Hobhouse’s Travels, Letter 23.

[21]  It is by no means probable that this city, despite its fortress,
was walled like Lycosura.

[22]  At least Strabo assigns Boeotia to the government of Cecrops.
But I confess, that so far from his incorporating Boeotia with Attica,
I think that traditions relative to his immediate successors appear to
indicate that Attica itself continued to retain independent tribes--
soon ripening, if not already advanced, to independent states.

[23]  Herod., ii., c. i.

[24]  Ibid., ii., c. liii.

[25]  That all the Pelasgi--scattered throughout Greece, divided among
themselves--frequently at war with each other, and certainly in no
habits of peaceful communication--each tribe of different modes of
life, and different degrees of civilization, should have concurred in
giving no names to their gods, and then have equally concurred in
receiving names from Egypt, is an assertion so preposterous, that it
carries with it its own contradiction.  Many of the mistakes relative
to the Pelasgi appear to have arisen from supposing the common name
implied a common and united tribe, and not a vast and dispersed
people, subdivided into innumerable families, and diversified by
innumerable influences.

[26]  The connexion of Ceres with Isis was a subsequent innovation.

[27]  Orcos was the personification of an oath, or the sanctity of an

[28]  Naith in the Doric dialect.

[29]  If Onca, or Onga, was the name of the Phoenician goddess!--In
the “Seven against Thebes,” the chorus invoke Minerva under the name
of Onca--and there can be no doubt that the Grecian Minerva is
sometimes called Onca; but it is not clear to me that the Phoenicians
had a deity of that name--nor can I agree with those who insist upon
reading Onca for Siga in Pausanias (lib. ix., chap. 12), where he says
Siga was the name of the Phoenician Minerva.  The Phoenicians
evidently had a deity correspondent with the Greek Minerva; but that
it was named Onca, or Onga, is by no means satisfactorily proved; and
the Scholiast, on Pindar, derives the epithet as applies to Minerva
from a Boeotian village.

[30]  De Mundo, c. 7.

[31]  The Egyptians supposed three principles: 1st. One benevolent and
universal Spirit.  2d. Matter coeval with eternity.  3d. Nature
opposing the good of the universal Spirit.  We find these principles
in a variety of shapes typified through their deities.  Besides their
types of nature, as the Egyptians adopted hero gods, typical fables
were invented to conceal their humanity, to excuse their errors, or to
dignify their achievements.

[32]  See Heeren’s Political History of Greece, in which this point is
luminously argued.

[33]  Besides, it is not the character of emigrants from a people
accustomed to castes, to propagate those castes superior to then own,
of which they have exported no representatives.  Suppose none of that
privileged and noble order, called the priests, to have accompanied
the Egyptian migrators, those migrators would never have dreamed of
instituting that order in their new settlement any more than a colony
of the warrior caste in India would establish out of their own order a
spurious and fictitious caste of Bramins.

[34]  When, in a later age, Karmath, the impostor of the East, sough
to undermine Mahometanism, his most successful policy was in declaring
its commands to be allegories.

[35]  Herodotus (b. ii, c. 53) observes, that it is to Hesiod and
Homer the Greeks owe their theogony; that they gave the gods their
titles, fixed their ranks, and described their shapes.  And although
this cannot be believed literally, in some respects it may
metaphorically.  Doubtless the poets took their descriptions from
popular traditions; but they made those traditions immortal.  Jupiter
could never become symbolical to a people who had once pictured to
themselves the nod and curls of the Jupiter of Homer.

[36]  Cicero de Natura Deorum, b. ii.--Most of the philosophical
interpretations of the Greek mythology were the offspring of the
Alexandrine schools.  It is to the honour of Aristarchus that he
combated a theory that very much resembles the philosophy that would
convert the youthful readers of Mother Bunch into the inventors of
allegorical morality.

[37]  But the worship can be traced to a much earlier date than that
the most plausibly ascribed to the Persian Zoroaster.

[38]  So Epimenides of Crete is said to have spent forty-five years in
a cavern, and Minos descends into the sacred cave of Jupiter to
receive from him the elements of law.  The awe attached to woods and
caverns, it may be observed, is to be found in the Northern as well as
Eastern superstitions.  And there is scarcely a nation on the earth in
which we do not find the ancient superstition has especially attached
itself to the cavern and the forest, peopling them with peculiar
demons.  Darkness, silence, and solitude are priests that eternally
speak to the senses; and few of the most skeptical of us have been
lost in thick woods, or entered lonely caverns, without acknowledging
their influence upon the imagination: “Ipsa silentia,” says
beautifully the elder Pliny, “ipsa silentia adoramus.”  The effect of
streams and fountains upon the mind seems more unusual and surprising.
Yet, to a people unacquainted with physics, waters imbued with mineral
properties, or exhaling mephitic vapours, may well appear possessed of
a something preternatural.  Accordingly, at this day, among many
savage tribes we find that such springs are regarded with veneration
and awe.  The people of Fiji, in the South Seas, have a well which
they imagine the passage to the next world, they even believe that you
may see in its waters the spectral images of things rolling on to
eternity.  Fountains no less than groves, were objects of veneration
with our Saxon ancestors.--See Meginhard, Wilkins, etc.

[39]  2 Kings xvi., 4.

[40]  Of the three graces, Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, the
Spartans originally worshipped but one--(Aglaia, splendour) under the
name of Phaenna, brightness: they rejected the other two, whose names
signify Joy and Pleasure, and adopted a substitute in one whose name
was Sound (Cletha,)--a very common substitute nowadays!

[41]  The Persian creed, derived from Zoroaster, resembled the most to
that of Christianity.  It inculcated the resurrection of the dead, the
universal triumph of Ormuzd, the Principle of Light--the destruction
of the reign of Ahrimanes, the Evil Principle.

[42]  Wherever Egyptian, or indeed Grecian colonies migrated, nothing
was more natural than that, where they found a coincidence of scene,
they should establish a coincidence of name.  In Epirus were also the
Acheron and Cocytus; and Campania contains the whole topography of the
Virgilian Hades.

[43]  See sect. xxi., p. 77.

[44]  Fire was everywhere in the East a sacred symbol--though it
cannot be implicitly believed that the Vulcan or Hephaistus of the
Greeks has his prototype or original in the Egyptian Phta or Phtas.
The Persian philosophy made fire a symbol of the Divine intelligence--
the Persian credulity, like the Grecian, converted the symbol into the
god (Max. Tyr., Dissert. 38; Herod., lib. 3, c. 16).  The Jews
themselves connected the element with their true Deity.  It is in fire
that Jehovah reveals himself.  A sacred flame was burnt unceasingly in
the temples of Israel, and grave the punishment attached to the
neglect which suffered its extinction.--(Maimonides, Tract. vi.)

[45]  The Anaglyph expressed the secret writings of the Egyptians,
known only to the priests.  The hieroglyph was known generally to the

[46]  In Gaul, Cesar finds some tribes more civilized than the rest,
cultivating the science of sacrifice, and possessed of the dark
philosophy of superstitious mysteries; but in certain other and more
uncivilized tribes only the elements and the heavenly luminaries (quos
cernunt et quorum opibus aperte juvantur) were worshipped, and the
lore of sacrifice was unstudied.  With the Pelasgi as with the Gauls,
I believe that such distinctions might have been found simultaneously
in different tribes.

[47]  The arrival of Ceres in Attica is referred to the time of
Pandion by Apollodorus.

[48]  When Lobeck desires to fix the date of this religious union at
so recent an epoch as the time of Solon, in consequence of a solitary
passage in Herodotus, in which Solon, conversing with Croesus, speaks
of hostilities between the Athenians and Eleusinians, he seems to me
to fail in sufficient ground for the assumption.  The rite might have
been instituted in consequence of a far earlier feud and league--even
that traditionally recorded in the Mythic age of Erechtheus and
Eumolpus, but could not entirely put an end to the struggles of
Eleusis for independence, or prevent the outbreak of occasional
jealousy and dissension.

[49]  Kneph, the Agatho demon, or Good Spirit of Egypt, had his symbol
in the serpent.  It was precisely because sacred with the rest of the
world that the serpent would be an object of abhorrence with the Jews.
But by a curious remnant of oriental superstition, the early
Christians often represented the Messiah by the serpent--and the
emblem of Satan became that of the Saviour.

[50]  Lib. ii., c. 52, 4.

[51]  And this opinion is confirmed by Dionysius and Strabo, who
consider the Dodona oracle originally Pelasgic.

[52]  Also Pelasgic, according to Strabo.

[53]  “The Americans did not long suppose the efficacy of conjuration
to be confined to one subject--they had recourse to it in every
situation of danger or distress.------From this weakness proceeded
likewise the faith of the Americans in dreams, their observation of
omens, their attention to the chirping of birds and the cries of
animals, all which they supposed to be indications of future events.”
 --Robertson’s History of America, book iv.

Might not any one imagine that he were reading the character of the
ancient Greeks?  This is not the only point of resemblance between the
Americans (when discovered by the Spaniards) and the Greeks in their
early history; but the resemblance is merely that of a civilization in
some respects equally advanced.

[54]  The notion of Democritus of Abdera, respecting the origin of
dreams and divination, may not be uninteresting to the reader, partly
from something vast and terrible in the fantasy, partly as a proof of
the strange, incongruous, bewildered chaos of thought, from which at
last broke the light of the Grecian philosophy.  He introduced the
hypothesis of images (eidola,), emanating as it were from external
objects, which impress our sense, and whose influence creates
sensation and thought.  Dreams and divination he referred to the
impressions communicated by images of gigantic and vast stature, which
inhabited the air and encompassed the world.  Yet this philosopher is
the original of Epicurus, and Epicurus is the original of the modern

[55]  Isaiah lxvi. I.

[56]  This Lucian acknowledges unawares, when, in deriding the popular
religion, he says that a youth who reads of the gods in Homer or
Hesiod, and finds their various immoralities so highly renowned, would
feel no little surprise when he entered the world, to discover that
these very actions of the gods were condemned and punished by mankind.

[57]  Ovid. Metam., lib. ix.

[58]  So the celebrated preamble to the laws for the Locrians of Italy
(which, though not written by Zaleucus, was, at all events, composed
by a Greek) declares that men must hold their souls clear from every
vice; that the gods did not accept the offerings of the wicked, but
found pleasure only in the just and beneficent actions of the good.--
See Diod. Siculus, lib. 8.

[59]  A Mainote hearing the Druses praised for their valour, said,
with some philosophy, “They would fear death more if they believed in
an hereafter!”

[60]  In the time of Socrates, we may suspect, from a passage in
Plato’s Phaedo, that the vulgar were skeptical of the immortality of
the soul, and it may be reasonably doubted whether the views of
Socrates and his divine disciple were ever very popularly embraced.

[61]  It is always by connecting the divine shape with the human that
we exalt our creations--so, in later times, the saints, the Virgin,
and the Christ, awoke the genius of Italian art.

[62] See note [54].

[63] In the later age of philosophy I shall have occasion to return to
the subject.  And in the Appendix, with which I propose to complete
the work, I may indulge in some conjectures relative to the Corybantes
Curetes, Teichines, etc.

[64]  Herodotus (I. vi., c. 137) speaks of a remote time when the
Athenians had no slaves.  As we have the authority of Thucydides for
the superior repose which Attica enjoyed as compared with the rest of
Greece--so (her population never having been conquered) slavery in
Attica was probably of later date than elsewhere, and we may doubt
whether in that favoured land the slaves were taken from any
considerable part of the aboriginal race.  I say considerable part,
for crime or debt would have reduced some to servitude.  The assertion
of Herodotus that the Ionians were indigenous (and not conquerors as
Mueller pretends), is very strongly corroborated by the absence in
Attica of a class of serfs like the Penestae of Thessaly and the
Helots of Laconia.  A race of conquerors would certainly have produced
a class of serfs.

[65]  Or else the land (properly speaking) would remain with the
slaves, as it did with the Messenians an Helots--but certain
proportions of the produce would be the due of the conquerors.

[66]  Immigration has not hitherto been duly considered as one of the
original sources of slavery.

[67]  In a horde of savages never having held communication or
intercourse with other tribes, there would indeed be men who, by a
superiority of physical force, would obtain an ascendency over the
rest; but these would not bequeath to their descendants distinct
privileges.  Exactly because physical power raised the father into
rank--the want of physical power would merge his children among the
herd.  Strength and activity cannot be hereditary.  With individuals
of a tribe as yet attaching value only to a swift foot or a strong
arm, hereditary privilege is impossible.  But if one such barbarous
tribe conquer another less hardy, and inhabit the new settlement,--
then indeed commences an aristocracy--for amid communities, though not
among individuals, hereditary physical powers can obtain.  One man may
not leave his muscles to his son; but one tribe of more powerful
conformation than another would generally contrive to transmit that
advantage collectively to their posterity.  The sense of superiority
effected by conquest soon produces too its moral effects--elevating
the spirit of the one tribe, depressing that of the other, from
generation to generation.  Those who have denied in conquest or
colonization the origin of hereditary aristocracy, appear to me to
have founded their reasonings upon the imperfectness of their
knowledge of the savage states to which they refer for illustration.

[68]  Accordingly we find in the earliest records of Greek history--in
the stories of the heroic and the Homeric age--that the king possessed
but little authority except in matters of war: he was in every sense
of the word a limited monarch, and the Greeks boasted that they had
never known the unqualified despotism of the East.  The more, indeed,
we descend from the patriarchal times; the more we shall find that
colonists established in their settlements those aristocratic
institutions which are the earliest barriers against despotism.
Colonies are always the first teachers of free institutions.  There is
no nation probably more attached to monarchy than the English, yet I
believe that if, according to the ancient polity, the English were to
migrate into different parts, and establish, in colonizing, their own
independent forms of government; there would scarcely be a single such
colony not republican!

[69]  In Attica, immigration, not conquest, must have led to the
institution of aristocracy.  Thucydides observes, that owing to the
repose in Attica (the barren soil of which presented no temptation to
the conqueror), the more powerful families expelled from the other
parts of Greece, betook themselves for security and refuge to Athens.
And from some of these foreigners many of the noblest families in the
historical time traced their descent.  Before the arrival of these
Grecian strangers, Phoenician or Egyptian settlers had probably
introduced an aristocratic class.

[70]  Modern inquirers pretend to discover the Egyptian features in
the effigy of Minerva on the earliest Athenian coins.  Even the golden
grasshopper, with which the Athenians decorated their hair, and which
was considered by their vanity as a symbol of their descent from the
soil, has been construed into an Egyptian ornament--a symbol of the
initiated.--(Horapoll. Hierogl., lib. ii., c. 55.)  “They are the only
Grecian people,” says Diodorus, “who swear by Isis, and their manners
are very conformable to those of the Egyptians; and so much truth was
there at one time (when what was Egyptian became the fashion) in this
remark, that they were reproached by the comic writer that their city
was Egypt and not Athens.”  But it is evident that all such
resemblance as could have been derived from a handful of Egyptians,
previous to the age of Theseus, was utterly obliterated before the age
of Solon.  Even if we accord to the tale of Cecrops all implicit
faith, the Atticans would still remain a Pelasgic population, of which
a few early institutions--a few benefits of elementary civilization--
and, it may be, a few of the nobler families, were probably of
Egyptian origin.

[71]  It has been asserted by some that there is evidence in ancient
Attica of the existence of castes similar to those in Egypt and the
farther East.  But this assertion has been so ably refuted that I do
not deem it necessary to enter at much length into the discussion.  It
will be sufficient to observe that the assumption is founded upon the
existence of four tribes in Attica, the names of which etymological
erudition has sought to reduce to titles denoting the different
professions of warriors, husbandmen, labourers, and (the last much
more disputable and much more disputed) priests.  In the first place,
it has been cogently remarked by Mr. Clinton (F. H., vol. i., p. 54),
that this institution of castes has been very inconsistently
attributed to the Greek Ion,--not (as, if Egyptian, it would have
been) to the Egyptian Cecrops.  2dly, If rightly referred to Ion, who
did not long precede the heroic age, how comes it that in that age a
spirit the most opposite to that of castes universally prevailed--as
all the best authenticated enactments of Theseus abundantly prove?
Could institutions calculated to be the most permanent that
legislation ever effected, and which in India have resisted every
innovation of time, every revolution of war, have vanished from Attica
in the course of a few generations?  3dly, It is to be observed, that
previous to the divisions referred to Ion, we find the same number of
four tribes under wholly different names;--under Cecrops, under
Cranaus, under Ericthonius or Erectheus, they received successive
changes of appellations, none of which denoted professions, but were
moulded either from the distinctions of the land they inhabited, or
the names of deities they adored.  If remodelled by Ion to correspond
with distinct professions and occupations (and where is that social
state which does not form different classes--a formation widely
opposite to that of different castes?) cultivated by the majority of
the members of each tribe, the name given to each tribe might be but a
general title by no means applicable to every individual, and
certainly not implying hereditary and indelible distinctions.  4thly,
In corroboration of this latter argument, there is not a single
evidence--a single tradition, that such divisions ever were
hereditary.  5thly, In the time of Solon and the Pisistratida we find
the four Ionic tribes unchanged, but without any features analogous to
those of the Oriental castes.--(Clinton, F. H., vol. i., p. 55.)
6thly, I shall add what I have before intimated (see note [33]), that
I do not think it the character of a people accustomed to castes to
establish castes mock and spurious in any country which a few of them
might visit or colonize.  Nay, it is clearly and essentially contrary
to such a character to imagine that a handful of wandering Egyptians,
even supposing (which is absurd) that their party contained members of
each different caste observed by their countrymen, would have
incorporated with such scanty specimens of each caste any of the
barbarous natives--they would leave all the natives to a caste by
themselves.  And an Egyptian hierophant would as little have thought
of associating with himself a Pelasgic priest, as a Bramin would dream
of making a Bramin caste out of a set of Christian clergymen.  But if
no Egyptian hierophant accompanied the immigrators, doubly ridiculous
is it to suppose that the latter would have raised any of their own
body, to whom such a change of caste would be impious, and still less
any of the despised savages, to a rank the most honoured and the most
reverent which Egyptian notions of dignity could confer.  Even the
very lowest Egyptians would not touch any thing a Grecian knife had
polluted--the very rigidity with which caste was preserved in Egypt
would forbid the propagation of castes among barbarians so much below
the very lowest caste they could introduce.  So far, therefore, from
Egyptian adventurers introducing such an institution among the general
population, their own spirit of caste must rapidly have died away as
intermarriage with the natives, absence from their countrymen, and the
active life of an uncivilized home, mixed them up with the blood, the
pursuits, and the habits of their new associates.  Lastly, If these
arguments (which might be easily multiplied) do not suffice, I say it
is not for me more completely to destroy, but for those of a contrary
opinion more completely to substantiate, an hypothesis so utterly at
variance with the Athenian character--the acknowledged data of
Athenian history; and which would assert the existence of institutions
the most difficult to establish;--when established, the most difficult
to modify, much more to efface.

[72]  The Thessali were Pelasgic.

[73]  Thucyd., lib. i.

[74]  Homer--so nice a discriminator that he dwells upon the barbarous
tongue even of the Carians--never seems to intimate any distinction
between the language and race of the Pelasgi and Hellenes, yet he
wrote in an age when the struggle was still unconcluded, and when
traces of any marked difference must have been sufficiently obvious to
detect--sufficiently interesting to notice.

[75]  Strabo, viii.

[76]  Pausan., viii.

[77]  With all my respect for the deep learning and acute ingenuity of
Mueller, it is impossible not to protest against the spirit in which
much of the History of the Dorians is conceived--a spirit than which
nothing can be more dangerous to sound historical inquiry.  A vague
tradition, a doubtful line, suffice the daring author for proof of a
foreign conquest, or evidence of a religious revolution.  There are
German writers who seem to imagine that the new school of history is
built on the maxim of denying what is, and explaining what is not?
Ion is never recorded as supplanting, or even succeeding, an Attic
king.  He might have introduced the worship of Apollo; but, as Mr.
Clinton rightly observes, that worship never superseded the worship of
Minerva, who still remained the tutelary divinity of the city.
However vague the traditions respecting Ion, they all tend to prove an
alliance with the Athenians, viz., precisely the reverse of a conquest
of them.

[78]  That connexion which existed throughout Greece, sometimes pure,
sometimes perverted, was especially and originally Doric.

[79]  Prideaux on the Marbles.  The Iones are included in this
confederacy; they could not, then, have taken their name from the
Hellenic Ion, for Ion was not born at the time of Amphictyon.  The
name Amphictyon is, however, but a type of the thing amphictyony, or
association.  Leagues of this kind were probably very common over
Greece, springing almost simultaneously out of the circumstances
common to numerous tribes, kindred with each other, yet often at
variance and feud.  A common language led them to establish, by a
mutual adoption of tutelary deities, a common religious ceremony,
which remained in force after political considerations died away.  I
take the Amphictyonic league to be one of the proofs of the affinity
of language between the Pelasgi and Hellenes.  It was evidently made
while the Pelasgi were yet powerful and unsubdued by Hellenic
influences, and as evidently it could not have been made if the
Pelasgi and Hellenes were not perfectly intelligible to each other.
Mr. Clinton (F. H., vol. i., 66), assigns a more recent date than has
generally been received to the great Amphictyonic league, placing it
between the sixtieth and the eightieth year from the fall of Troy.
His reason for not dating it before the former year is, that until
then the Thessali (one of the twelve nations) did not occupy Thessaly.
But, it may be observed consistently with the reasonings of that great
authority, first, that the Thessali are not included in the lists of
the league given by Harpocratio and Libanius; and, secondly, that even
granting that the great Amphictyonic assembly of twelve nations did
not commence at an earlier period, yet that that more celebrated
amphictyony might have been preceded by other and less effectual
attempts at association, agreeably to the legends of the genealogy.
And this Mr. Clinton himself implies.

[80]  Strabo, lib. ix.

[81]  Mueller’s Dorians, vol. i.

[82]  Probably chosen in rotation from the different cities.

[83]  Even the bieromnemons (or deputies intrusted with religious
cares) must have been as a class very inferior in ability to the
pylagorae; for the first were chosen by lot, the last by careful
selection.  And thus we learn, in effect, that while the hieromnemon
had the higher grade of dignity, the pylagoras did the greater share
of business.

[84]  Milton, Hist. of Eng., book i.

[85]  No man of rank among the old northern pirates was deemed
honourable if not a pirate, gloriam sibi acquirens, as the Vatzdaela
hath it.

[86]  Most probably more than one prince.  Greece has three
well accredited pretenders to the name and attributes even of the
Grecian Hercules.

[87]  Herodotus marks the difference between the Egyptian and Grecian
deity, and speaks of a temple erected by the Phoenicians to Hercules,
when they built Thasus, five hundred years before the son of
Amphitryon was known to the Greeks.  The historian commends such of
the Greeks as erected two temples to the divinity of that name,
worshipping in the one as to a god, but in the other observing only
the rites as to a hero.-B.  ii., c.  13, 14.

[88]  Plot. in Vit. Thes.--Apollod., l. 3.  This story is often
borrowed by the Spanish romance-writers, to whom Plutarch was a
copious fountain of legendary fable.

[89]  Plut. in Vit. Thes.

[90]  Mr. Mueller’s ingenious supposition, that the tribute was in
fact a religious ceremony, and that the voyage of Theseus had
originally no other meaning than the landings at Naxos and Delos, is
certainly credible, but not a whit more so than, and certainly not so
simple as, the ancient accounts in Plutarch; as with mythological, so
with historical legends, it is better to take the plain and popular
interpretation whenever it seems conformable to the manners of the
times, than to construe the story by newly-invented allegories.  It is
very singular that that is the plan which every writer on the early
chronicles of France and England would adopt,--and yet which so few
writers agree to*****[three illegible words in the print copy]*****
the obscure records of the Greeks.

[91]  Plutarch cites Clidemus in support of another version of the
tale, somewhat less probable, viz., that, by the death of Minos and
his son Deucalion, Ariadne became possessed of the throne, and that
she remitted the tribute.

[92]  Thucydides, b. ii., c. 15.

[93]  But many Athenians preferred to a much later age the custom of
living without the walls--scattered over the country.--(Thucyd., lib.
ii., 15.)  We must suppose it was with them as with the moderns--the
rich and the great generally preferred the capital, but there were
many exceptions.

[94]  For other instances in which the same word is employed by Homer,
see Clinton’s Fast Hell., vol. i., introduction, ix.

[95]  Paus., l. i., c. 19; l. ii., c. 18.

[96]  Paus., l. vii., c. 25.  An oracle of Dodona had forewarned the
Athenians of the necessity of sparing the suppliants.

[97]  Herod. (lib. v., 76) cites this expedition of the Dorians for
the establishment of a colony at Megara as that of their first
incursion into Attica.

[98]  Suidas.  One cannot but be curious as to the motives and policy
of a person, virtuous as a man, but so relentless as a lawgiver.
Although Draco was himself a noble, it is difficult to suppose that
laws so stern and impartial would not operate rather against the more
insolent and encroaching class than against the more subordinate ones.
The attempt shows a very unwholesome state of society, and went far to
produce the democratic action which Solon represented rather than

[99]  Hume utters a sentiment exactly the reverse: “To expect,” says
he, in his Essay on the rise of Arts and Sciences, “that the arts and
sciences should take their first rise in a monarchy, is to expect a
contradiction;” and he holds, in a subsequent part of the same essay,
that though republics originate the arts and sciences, they may be
transferred to a monarchy.  Yet this sentiment is utterly at variance
with the fact; in the despotic monarchies of the East were the
elements of the arts and sciences; it was to republics they were
transferred, and republics perfected them.  Hume, indeed, is often the
most incautious and uncritical of all writers.  What can we think of
an author who asserts that a refined taste succeeds best in
monarchies, and then refers to the indecencies of Horace and Ovid as
an example of the reverse in a republic--as if Ovid and Horace had not
lived under a monarchy! and throughout the whole of this theory he is
as thoroughly in the wrong.  By refined taste he signifies an
avoidance of immodesty of style.  Beaumont and Fletcher, Rochester,
Dean Swift, wrote under monarchies--their pruriencies are not excelled
by any republican authors of ancient times.  What ancient authors
equal in indelicacy the French romances from the time of the Regent of
Orleans to Louis XVI.?  By all accounts, the despotism of China is the
very sink of indecencies, whether in pictures or books.  Still more,
what can we think of a writer who says, that “the ancients have not
left us one piece of pleasantry that is excellent, unless one may
except the Banquet of Xenophon and the Dialogues of Lucian?”  What!
has he forgotten Aristophanes?  Has he forgotten Plautus!  No--but
their pleasantry is not excellent to his taste; and he tacitly agrees
with Horace in censuring the “coarse railleries and cold jests” of the
Great Original of Moliere!

[100]  Which forbade the concentration of power necessary to great
conquests.  Phoenicia was not one state, it was a confederacy of
states; so, for the same reason, Greece, admirably calculated to
resist, was ill fitted to invade.

[101]  For the dates of these migrations, see Fast. Hell., vol. i.

[102]  To a much later period in the progress of this work I reserve a
somewhat elaborate view of the history of Sicily.

[103]  Pausanias, in corroboration of this fact, observes, that
Periboea, the daughter of Alcathous, was sent with Theseus with
tribute into Crete.

[104]  When, according to Pausanias, it changed its manners and its

[105]  In length fifty-two geographical miles, and about twenty-eight
to thirty-two broad.

[106]  A council of five presided over the business of the oracle,
composed of families who traced their descent from Deucalion.

[107]  Great grandson to Antiochus, son of Hercules.--Pausanias, l. 2,
c. 4.

[108]  But at Argos, at least, the name, though not the substance, of
the kingly government was extant as late as the Persian war.

[109]  Those who meant to take part in the athletic exercises were
required to attend at Olympia thirty days previous to the games, for
preparation and practice.

[110]  It would appear by some Etruscan vases found at Veii, that the
Etruscans practised all the Greek games--leaping, running,
cudgel-playing, etc., and were not restricted, as Niebuhr supposes,
to boxing and chariot-races.

[111]  It however diminishes the real honour of the chariot-race, that
the owner of horses usually won by proxy.

[112]  The indecorum of attending contests where the combatants were
unclothed, was a sufficient reason for the exclusion of females.  The
priestess of Ceres, the mighty mother, was accustomed to regard all
such indecorums as symbolical, and had therefore refined away any
remarkable indelicacy.

[113]  Plut. in Alex.  When one of the combatants with the cestus
killed his antagonist by running the ends of his fingers through his
ribs, he was ignominiously expelled the stadium.  The cestus itself
made of thongs of leather, was evidently meant not to increase the
severity of the blow, but for the prevention of foul play by the
antagonists laying hold of each other, or using the open hand.  I
believe that the iron bands and leaden plummets were Roman inventions,
and unknown at least till the later Olympic games.  Even in the
pancratium, the fiercest of all the contests--for it seems to have
united wrestling with boxing (a struggle of physical strength, without
the precise and formal laws of the boxing and wrestling matches), it
was forbidden to kill an enemy, to injure his eyes, or to use the

[114]  Even to the foot-race, in which many of the competitors were of
the lowest rank, the son of Amyntas, king of Macedon, was not admitted
till he had proved an Argive descent.  He was an unsuccessful

[115]  Herodotus relates an anecdote, that the Eleans sent deputies to
Egypt, vaunting the glories of the Olympic games, and inquiring if the
Egyptians could suggest any improvement.  The Egyptians asked if the
citizens of Elis were allowed to contend, and, on hearing that they
were, declared it was impossible they should not favour their own
countrymen, and consequently that the games must lead to injustice--a
suspicion not verified.

[116]  Cic. Quaest. Tusc., II, 17.

[117]  Nero (when the glory had left the spot) drove a chariot of ten
horses in Olympia, out of which he had the misfortune to tumble.  He
obtained other prizes in other Grecian games, and even contended with
the heralds as a crier.  The vanity of Nero was astonishing, but so
was that of most of his successors.  The Roman emperors were the
sublimest coxcombs in history.  In men born to stations which are
beyond ambition, all aspirations run to seed.

[118]  Plut. in Sympos.

[119]  It does not appear that at Elis there were any of the actual
contests in music and song which made the character of the Pythian
games.  But still it was a common exhibition for the cultivation of
every art.  Sophist, and historian, and orator, poet and painter found
their mart in the Olympic fair.

[120]  Plut. in vita Them.

[121]  Pausanias, lib. v.

[122]  When Phidias was asked on what idea he should form his statue,
he answered by quoting the well-known verses of Homer, on the curls
and nod of the thunder god.

[123]  I am of course aware that the popular story that Herodotus read
portions of his history at Olympia has been disputed--but I own I
think it has been disputed with very indifferent success against the
testimony of competent authorities, corroborated by the general
practice of the time.

[124]  We find, indeed, that the Messenians continued to struggle
against their conquerors, and that about the time of the battle of
Marathon they broke out into a resistance sometimes called the third
war.--Plato, Leg. III.

[125]  Suppose Vortigern to have been expelled by the Britons, and to
have implored the assistance of the Saxons to reinstate him in his
throne, the Return of Vortigern would have been a highly popular name
for the invasion of the Saxons.  So, if the Russians, after Waterloo,
had parcelled out France, and fixed a Cossack settlement in her
“violet vales,” the destruction of the French would have been still
urbanely entitled “The Return of the Bourbons.”

[126]  According to Herodotus, the Spartan tradition assigned the
throne to Aristodemus himself, and the regal power was not divided
till after his death.

[127]  He wrote or transcribed them, is the expression of Plutarch,
which I do not literally translate, because this touches upon very
disputed ground.

[128]  “Sometimes the states,” says Plutarch, “veered to democracy--
sometimes to arbitrary power;” that is, at one time the nobles invoked
the people against the king; but if the people presumed too far, they
supported the king against the people.  If we imagine a confederacy of
Highland chiefs even a century or two ago--give them a nominal king--
consider their pride and their jealousy--see them impatient of
authority in one above them, yet despotic to those below--quarrelling
with each other--united only by clanship, never by citizenship;--and
place them in a half-conquered country, surrounded by hostile
neighbours and mutinous slaves--we may then form, perhaps, some idea
of the state of Sparta previous to the legislation of Lycurgus.

[129]  When we are told that the object of Lycurgus was to root out
the luxury and effeminacy existent in Sparta, a moment’s reflection
tells us that effeminacy and luxury could not have existed.  A tribe
of fierce warriors, in a city unfortified--shut in by rocks--harassed
by constant war--gaining city after city from foes more civilized,
stubborn to bear, and slow to yield--maintaining a perilous yoke over
the far more numerous races they had subdued--what leisure, what
occasion had such men to become effeminate and luxurious?

[130]  See Mueller’s Dorians, vol. ii., p. 12 (Translation).

[131]  In the same passage Aristotle, with that wonderful sympathy in
opinion between himself and the political philosophers of our own day,
condemns the principle of seeking and canvassing for suffrages.

[132]  In this was preserved the form of royalty in the heroic times.
Aristotle well remarks, that in the council Agamemnon bears reproach
and insult, but in the field he becomes armed with authority over life
itself--“Death is in his hand.”

[133]  Whereas the modern republics of Italy rank among the causes
which prevented their assuming a widely conquering character, their
extreme jealousy of their commanders, often wisely ridiculed by the
great Italian historians; so that a baggage-cart could scarcely move,
or a cannon be planted, without an order from the senate!

[134]  Mueller rightly observes, that though the ephoralty was a
common Dorian magistrature, “yet, considered as an office, opposed to
the king and council, it is not for that reason less peculiar to the
Spartans; and in no Doric, nor even in any Grecian state is there any
thing which exactly corresponds with it.”

[135]  They rebuked Archidamus for having married too small a wife.
See Mueller’s Dorians, vol. ii. (Translation), p. 124, and the
authorities he quotes.

[136]  Aristot. Pol., lib. ii., c. 9.

[137]  Idem.

[138]  These remarks on the democratic and representative nature of
the ephoralty are only to be applied to it in connexion with the
Spartan people.  It must be remembered that the ephors represented the
will of that dominant class, and not of the Laconians or Perioeci, who
made the bulk of the non-enslaved population; and the democracy of
their constitution was therefore but the democracy of an oligarchy.

[139]  Machiavel (Discourses on the first Decade of Livy, b. i., c.
vi.), attributes the duration of the Spartan government to two main
causes--first, the fewness of the body to be governed, allowing
fewness in the governors; and secondly, the prevention of all the
changes and corruption which the admission of strangers would have
occasioned.  He proceeds then to show that for the long duration of a
constitution the people should be few in number, and all popular
impulse and innovation checked; yet that, for the splendour and
greatness of a state, not only population should be encouraged, but
even political ferment and agitation be leniently regarded.  Sparta is
his model for duration, republican Rome for progress and empire.  “To
my judgment,” the Florentine concludes, “I prefer the latter, and for
the strife and emulation between the nobles and the people, they are
to be regarded indeed as inconveniences, but necessary to a state that
would rise to the Roman grandeur.”

[140]  Plut. de Musica.

[141]  At Corinth they were abolished by Periander as favourable to an
aristocracy, according to Aristotle; but a better reason might be that
they were dangerous to tyranny.

[142]  “Yet, although goods were appropriated, their uses,” says
Aristotle, “were freely communicated,--a Spartan could use the horses,
the slaves, the dogs, and carriages of another.”  If this were to be
taken literally, it is difficult to see how a Spartan could be poor.
We must either imagine that different times are confounded, or that
limitations with which we are unacquainted were made in this system of

[143]  See, throughout the Grecian history, the Helots collecting the
plunder of the battle-field, hiding it from the gripe of their lords,
and selling gold at the price of brass!

[144]  Aristotle, who is exceedingly severe on the Spartan ladies,
says very shrewdly, that the men were trained to submission to a civil
by a military system, while the women were left untamed.  A Spartan
hero was thus made to be henpecked.  Yet, with all the alleged
severity of the Dorian morals, these sturdy matrons rather discarded
the graces than avoided the frailties of their softer contemporaries.
Plato [Plat. de legibus, lib. i. and lib. vi.] and Aristotle [Aristot.
Repub., lib. ii.] give very unfavourable testimonials of their
chastity.  Plutarch, the blind panegyrist of Sparta, observes with
amusing composure, that the Spartan husbands were permitted to lend
their wives to each other; and Polybius (in a fragment of the 12th
book) [Fragm. Vatican., tom. ii., p. 384.] informs us that it was an
old-fashioned and common custom in Sparta for three or four brothers
to share one wife.  The poor husbands!--no doubt the lady was a match
for them all!  So much for those gentle creatures whom that grave
German professor, M. Mueller, holds up to our admiration and despair.

[145]  In Homer the condition of the slave seems, everywhere, tempered
by the kindness and indulgence of the master.

[146]  Three of the equals always attended the king’s person in war.

[147]  The institution of the ephors has been, with probability,
referred to this epoch--chosen at first as the viceroys in the absence
of the kings.

[148]  Pausanias, Messenics.

[149]  See Mueller’s Dorians, vol. i., p. 172, and Clinton’s Fast.
Hell. vol. i., p. 183.

[150]  For the dates here given of the second Messenian war see Fast.
Hell., vol. i., 190, and Appendix 2.

[151]  Now called Messina.

[152]  In Phocis were no less than twenty-two states (poleis); in
Boeotia, fourteen; in Achaia, ten.  The ancient political theorists
held no community too small for independence, provided the numbers
sufficed for its defence.  We find from Plato that a society of five
thousand freemen capable of bearing arms was deemed powerful enough to
constitute an independent state.  One great cause of the ascendency of
Athens and Sparta was, that each of those cities had from an early
period swept away the petty independent states in their several
territories of Attica and Laconia.

[153]  Machiavel (Discor., lib. i., c. ii.).

[154]  Lib. iv., c. 13.

[155]  Aristotle cites among the advantages of wealth, that of being
enabled to train horses.  Wherever the nobility could establish among
themselves a cavalry, the constitution was oligarchical.  Yet, even in
states which did not maintain a cavalry (as Athens previous to the
constitution of Solon), an oligarchy was the first form of government
that rose above the ruins of monarchy.

[156]  One principal method of increasing the popular action was by
incorporating the neighbouring villages or wards in one municipality
with the capital.  By this the people gained both in number and in

[157]  Sometimes in ancient Greece there arose a species of lawful
tyrants, under the name of Aesymnetes.  These were voluntarily chosen
by the people, sometimes for life, sometimes for a limited period, and
generally for the accomplishment of some particular object.  Thus was
Pittacus of Mitylene elected to conduct the war against the exiles.
With the accomplishment of the object he abdicated his power.  But the
appointment of Aesymnetes can hardly be called a regular form of
government.  They soon became obsolete--the mere creatures of
occasion.  While they lasted, they bore a strong resemblance to the
Roman dictators--a resemblance remarked by Dionysius, who quotes
Theophrastus as agreeing with Aristotle in his account of the

[158]  For, as the great Florentine has well observed, “To found well
a government, one man is the best--once established, the care and
execution of the laws should be transferred to many.”--(Machiavel.
Discor., lib. i., c. 9.) And thus a tyranny builds the edifice, which
the republic hastens to inhabit.

[159]  That of Orthagoras and his sons in Sicyon.  “Of all
governments,” says Aristotle, “that of an oligarchy, or of a tyrant,
is the least permanent.”  A quotation that cannot be too often pressed
on the memory of those reasoners who insist so much on the brief
duration of the ancient republics.

[160]  Besides the representation necessary to confederacies--such as
the Amphictyonic League, etc., a representative system was adopted at
Mantinea, where the officers were named by deputies chosen by the
people.  “This form of democracy,” says Aristotle, “existed among the
shepherds and husbandmen of Arcadia;” and was probably not uncommon
with the ancient Pelasgians.  But the myrioi of Arcadia had not the
legislative power.

[161]  “Then to the lute’s soft voice prolong the night,
        Music, the banquet’s most refined delight.”
                                Pope’s Odyssey, book xxi., 473.

It is stronger in the original--

    Moltae kai phormingi tu gar t’anathaemata daitos.

[162]  Iliad, book ix., Pope’s translation, line 250.

[163]  Heyne, F. Clinton, etc.

[164]  Pope’s translation, b. iv., line 75, etc.

[165]  At least this passage is sufficient to refute the arguments of
Mr. Mitford, and men more learned than that historian, who, in taking
for their premises as an indisputable fact the extraordinary
assumption, that Homer never once has alluded to the return of the
Heraclidae, arrive at a conclusion very illogical, even if the
premises were true, viz., that therefore Homer preceded the date of
that great revolution.

[166]  I own that this seems to me the most probable way of accounting
for the singular and otherwise disproportioned importance attached by
the ancient poets to that episode in the Trojan war, which relates to
the feud of Achilles and Agamemnon.  As the first recorded enmity
between the great Achaeans and the warriors of Phthiotis, it would
have a solemn and historical interest both to the conquering Dorians
and the defeated Achaeans, flattering to the national vanity of either

[167]  I adopt the analysis of the anti-Homer arguments so clearly
given by Mr. Coleridge in his eloquent Introduction to the Study of
the Greek Poets.  Homer, p. 39.

[168]  en spanei biblon, are the words of Herodotus.  Leaves and the
bark of trees were also used from a very remote period previous to the
common use of the papyrus, and when we are told that leaves would not
suffice for works of any length or duration, it must not be forgotten
that in a much later age it was upon leaves (and mutton bones) that
the Koran was transcribed.  The rudest materials are sufficient for
the preservation of what men deem it their interest to preserve!

[169]  See Clinton’s F. H., vol. i., p. 145.

[170]  Critics, indeed, discover some pretended gaps and
interpolations; but these, if conceded, are no proof against the unity
of Homer; the wonder is, that there should be so few of such
interpolations, considering the barbarous age which intervened between
their composition and the time in which they were first carefully
edited and collected.  With more force it is urged against the
argument in favour of the unity of Homer, derived from the unity of
the style and character, that there are passages which modern critics
agree to be additions to the original poems, made centuries afterward,
and yet unsuspected by the ancients; and that in these additions--such
as the last books of the Iliad, with many others less important--the
Homeric unity of style and character is still sustained.  We may
answer, however, that, in the first place, we have a right to be
skeptical as to these discoveries--many of them rest on very
insufficient critical grounds; in the second place, if we grant them,
it is one thing whether a forged addition be introduced into a poem,
and another thing whether the poem be all additions; in the third
place, we may observe, that successful imitations of the style and
characters of an author, however great, may be made many centuries
afterward with tolerable ease, and by a very inferior genius,
although, at the time he wrote or sung, it is not easy to suppose that
half a dozen or more poets shared his spirit or style.  It is a very
common scholastic trick to imitate, nowadays, and with considerable
felicity, the style of the greatest writers, ancient and modern.  But
the unity of Homer does not depend on the question whether imitative
forgeries were introduced into a great poem, but whether a multitude
of great poets combined in one school on one subject.  An ingenious
student of Shakspeare, or the elder dramatists, might impose upon the
public credulity a new scene, or even a new play, as belonging to
Shakspeare, but would that be any proof that a company of Shakspeares
combined in the production of Macbeth?  I own, by-the-way, that I am a
little doubtful as to our acumen in ascertaining what is Homeric and
what is not, seeing that Schlegel, after devoting half a life to
Shakspeare (whose works are composed in a living language, the
authenticity of each of which works a living nation can attest),
nevertheless attributes to that poet a catalogue of plays of which
Shakspeare is perfectly innocent!--but, to be sure, Steevens does the

[171]  That Pisistratus or his son, assisted by the poets of his day,
did more than collect, arrange, and amend poems already in high
repute, we have not only no authority to suppose, but much evidence to
contradict.  Of the true services of Pisistratus to Homer, more

[172]  “The descent of Theseus with Pirithous into hell,” etc.--Paus.,
ix., c. 31.

[173]  Especially if with the Boeotians we are to consider the most
poetical passage (the introductory lines to the muses) a spurious

[174]  A herdsman.

[175]  I cannot omit a tradition recorded by Pausanias.  A leaden
table near the fountain was shown by the Boeotians as that on which
the “Works and Days” was written.  The poems of Hesiod certainly do
not appear so adapted to recital as perusal.  Yet, by the most
plausible chronology, they were only composed about one hundred years
after those of Homer!

[176]  The Aones, Hyantes, and other tribes, which I consider part of
the great Pelasgic family, were expelled from Boeotia by Thracian
hordes.  [They afterward returned in the time of the Dorian
emigration.]  Some of the population must, however, have remained--the
peasantry of the land; and in Hesiod we probably possess the national
poetry, and arrive at the national religion, of the old Pelasgi.

[177]  Welcker.

[178]  The deadly signs which are traced by Praetus on the tablets of
which Bellerophon was the bearer, and which are referred to in the
Iliad, are generally supposed by the learned to have been pictorial,
and, as it were, hieroglyphical figures; my own belief, and the
easiest interpretation of the passage, is, that they were alphabetical
characters--in a word, writing, not painting.

[179]  Pausanias, lib. i., c. 27, speaks of a wooden statue in the
Temple of Pohas, in Athens, said to have been the gift of Cecrops;
and, with far more claim to belief, in the previous chapter he tells
us that the most holy of all the images was a statue of Minerva,
which, by the common consent of all the towns before incorporated in
one city, was dedicated in the citadel, or polis.  Tradition,
therefore, carried the date of this statue beyond the time of Theseus.
Plutarch also informs us that Theseus himself, when he ordained divine
honours to be paid to Ariadne, ordered two little statues to be made
of her--one of silver and one of brass.

[180]  All that Homer calls the work of Vulcan, such as the dogs in
the palace of Alcinous, etc., we may suppose to be the work of
foreigners.  A poet could scarcely attribute to the gods a work that
his audience knew an artificer in their own city had made!

[181]  See Odyssey, book vii.

[182]  The effect of the arts, habits, and manners of a foreign
country is immeasurably more important upon us if we visit that
country, than if we merely receive visits from its natives.  For
example, the number of French emigrants who crowded our shores at the
time of the French revolution very slightly influenced English
customs, etc.  But the effect of the French upon us when, after the
peace, our own countrymen flocked to France, was immense.

[183]  Herod., lib. ii., c. 178.

[184]  Grecian architecture seems to have been more free from
obligation to any technical secrets of Egyptian art than Grecian
statuary or painting.  For, in the first place, it is more than
doubtful whether the Doric order was not invented in European Greece
long prior to the reign of Psammetichus [The earliest known temple at
Corinth is supposed by Col. Leake to bear date B. C. 800, about one
hundred and thirty years before the reign of Psammetichus in Egypt.];
and, in the second place, it is evident that the first hints and
rudiments both of the Doric and the Ionic order were borrowed, not
from buildings of the massive and perennial materials of Egyptian
architecture, but from wooden edifices; growing into perfection as
stone and marble were introduced, and the greater difficulty and
expense of the workmanship insensibly imposed severer thought and more
elaborate rules upon the architect.  But I cannot agree with Mueller
and others, that because the first hints of the Doric order were taken
from wooden buildings, therefore the first invention was necessarily
with the Dorians, since many of the Asiatic cities were built chiefly
of wood.  It seems to me most probable that Asia gave the first
notions of these beautiful forms, and that the Greeks carried them to
perfection before the Asiatics, not only from their keen perception of
the graceful, but because they earlier made a general use of stone.
We learn from Herodotus that the gorgeous Sardis was built chiefly of
wood, at a time when the marble of Paros was a common material of the
Grecian temples.

[185]  Thales was one of the seven wise men, B. C. 586, when
Pherecydes of Syrus, the first prose writer, was about fourteen years
old.  Mr. Clinton fixes the acme of Pherecydes about B. C. 572.
Cadmus of Miletus flourished B. C. 530.

[186]  To this solution of the question, why literature should
generally commence with attempts at philosophy, may be added another:
--When written first breaks upon oral communication, the reading
public must necessarily be extremely confined.  In many early nations,
that reading public would be composed of the caste of priests; in this
case philosophy would be cramped by superstition.  In Greece, there
being no caste of priests, philosophy embraced those studious minds
addicted to a species of inquiry which rejected the poetical form, as
well as the poetical spirit.  It may be observed, that the more
limited the reading public, the more abstruse are generally prose
compositions; as readers increase, literature goes back to the fashion
of oral communication; for if the reciter addressed the multitude in
the earlier age, so the writer addresses a multitude in the later;
literature, therefore, commences with poetical fiction, and usually
terminates with prose fiction.  It was so in the ancient world--it
will be so with England and France.  The harvest of novels is, I fear,
a sign of the approaching exhaustion of the soil.

[187]  See chapter i.

[188]  Instead of Periander of Corinth, is (by Plato, and therefore)
more popularly, but less justly, ranked Myson of Chene.

[189]  Attributed also to Thales; Stob. Serm.

[190]  Aristotle relates (Pol., lib. i.) a singular anecdote of the
means whereby this philosopher acquired wealth.  His skill in
meteorology made him foresee that there would be one season an
extraordinary crop of olives.  He hired during the previous winter all
the oil-presses in Chios and Miletus, employing his scanty fortune in
advances to the several proprietors.  When the approaching season
showed the ripening crops, every man wished to provide olive-presses
as quickly as possible; and Thales, having them all, let them at a
high price.  His monopoly made his fortune, and he showed to his
friends, says Aristotle, that it was very easy for philosophers to be
rich if they desire it, though such is not their principal desire;--
philosophy does not find the same facilities nowadays.

[191]  Thus Homer is cited in proof of the progenital humidity,

    “‘Okeanos hosper ginesis pantos tet ktai;”

The Bryant race of speculators would attack us at once with “the
spirit moving on the face of the waters.”  It was not an uncommon
opinion in Greece that chaos was first water settling into slime, and
then into earth; and there are good but not sufficient reasons to
attribute a similar, and of course earlier, notion to the Phoenicians,
and still more perhaps to the Indians.

[192]  Plut. de Plac. Phil.

[193]  Ap. Stob. Serm.

[194]  Laert.

[195]  According to Clinton’s chronology, viz., one year after the
legislation of Draco.  This emendation of dates formerly received
throws considerable light upon the causes of the conspiracy, which
perhaps took its strength from the unpopularity and failure of Draco’s
laws.  Following the very faulty chronology which pervades his whole
work, Mr. Mitford makes the attempt of Cylon precede the legislation
of Draco.

[196]  A cap.

[197]  The expedition against Salamis under Solon preceded the arrival
of Epimenides at Athens, which was in 596.  The legislation of Solon
was B. C. 594--the first tyranny of Pisistratus B. C. 560: viz.,
thirty-four years after Solon’s legislation, and at least thirty-seven
years after Solon’s expedition to Salamis.  But Pisistratus lived
thirty-three years after his first usurpation, so that, if he had
acted in the first expedition to Salamis, he would have lived to an
age little short of one hundred, and been considerably past eighty at
the time of his third most brilliant and most energetic government!
The most probable date for the birth of Pisistratus is that assigned
by Mr. Clinton, about B. C. 595, somewhat subsequent to Solon’s
expedition to Salamis, and only about a year prior to Solon’s
legislation.  According to this date, Pisistratus would have been
about sixty-eight at the time of his death.  The error of Plutarch
evidently arose from his confounding two wars with Megara for Salamis,
attended with similar results--the first led by Solon, the second by
Pisistratus.  I am the more surprised that Mr. Thirlwall should have
fallen into the error of making Pisistratus contemporary with Solon in
this affair, because he would fix the date of the recovery of Salamis
at B. C. 604 (see note to Thirlwall’s Greece, p. 25, vol. ii.), and
would suppose Solon to be about thirty-two at that time (viz.,
twenty-six years old in 612 B. C.).  (See Thirlwall, vol. ii., p. 23,
note.) Now, as Pisistratus could not have been well less than
twenty-one, to have taken so prominent a share as that ascribed to him
by Plutarch and his modern followers, in the expedition, he must,
according to such hypothesis, have been only eleven years younger than
Solon, have perpetrated his first tyranny just before Solon died of old
age, and married a second wife when he was near eighty!  Had this been
the case, the relations of the lady could not reasonably have been angry
that the marriage was not consummated!

[198]  We cannot suppose, as the careless and confused Plutarch would
imply, that the people, or popular assembly, reversed the decree; the
government was not then democratic, but popular assemblies existed,
which, in extraordinary cases--especially, perhaps, in the case of
war--it was necessary to propitiate, and customary to appeal to.  I
make no doubt that it was with the countenance and consent of the
archons that Solon made his address to the people, preparing them to
receive the repeal of the decree, which, without their approbation, it
might be unsafe to propose.

[199]  As the quotation from Homer is extremely equivocal, merely
stating that Ajax joined the ships that he led from Salamis with those
of the Athenians, one cannot but suppose, that if Solon had really
taken the trouble to forge a verse, he would have had the common sense
to forge one much more decidedly in favour of his argument.

[200]  Fifty-seven, according to Pliny.

[201]  Plut. in Vit. Sol.

[202]  Arist. Pol., lib. ii., c. 8.

[203]  This regulation is probably of later date than the time of
Solon.  To Pisistratus is referred a law for disabled citizens, though
its suggestion is ascribed to Solon.  It was, however, a law that
evidently grew out of the principles of Solon.

[204]  A tribe contained three phratries, or fraternities--a phratry
contained three genes or clans--a genos or clan was composed of thirty
heads of families.  As the population, both in the aggregate and in
these divisions, must have been exposed to constant fluctuations, the
aforesaid numbers were most probably what we may describe as a fiction
in law, as Boeckh (Pol. Econ. of Athens, vol. i., p. 47, English
translation) observes, “in the same manner that the Romans called the
captain a centurion, even if he commanded sixty men, so a family might
have been called a triakas (i.e., a thirtiad), although it contained
fifty or more persons.”  It has been conjectured indeed by some, that
from a class not included in these families, vacancies in the
phratries were filled up; but this seems to be a less probable
supposition than that which I have stated above.  If the numbers in
Pollux were taken from a census in the time of Solon, the four tribes
at that time contained three hundred and sixty families, each family
consisting of thirty persons; this would give a total population of
ten thousand eight hundred free citizens.  It was not long before that
population nearly doubled itself, but the titles of the subdivisions
remained the same.  I reserve for an appendix a more detailed and
critical view of the vehement but tedious disputes of the learned on
the complicated subject of the Athenian tribes and families.

[205]  Boeckh (Pub. Econ. of Athens, book iv., chap. v.) contends,
from a law preserved by Demosthenes, that the number of measures for
the zeugitae was only one hundred and fifty.  But his argument,
derived from the analogy of the sum to be given to an heiress by her
nearest relation, if he refused to marry her, is by no means
convincing enough to induce us to reject the proportion of two hundred
measures, “preserved (as Boeckh confesses) by all writers,” especially
as in the time of Demosthenes.  Boeckh himself, in a subsequent
passage, rightly observes, that the names of zeugitae, etc., could
only apply to new classes introduced in the place of those instituted
by Solon.

[206]  With respect to the value of “a measure” in that time, it was
estimated at a drachma, and a drachma was the price of a sheep.

[207]  The law against idleness is attributable rather to Pisistratus
than Solon.

[208]  Athenaeus, lib. xiv.

[209]  Plutarch de Gloria Athen.  I do not in this sketch entirely
confine myself to Solon’s regulations respecting the areopagus.

[210]  The number of the areopagites depending upon the number of the
archons, was necessarily fluctuating and uncertain.  An archon was not
necessarily admitted to the areopagus.  He previously underwent a
rigorous and severe examination of the manner in which he had
discharged the duties of his office, and was liable to expulsion upon
proofs of immorality or unworthiness.

[211]  Some modern writers have contended that at the time of Solon
the members of the council were not chosen by lot; their arguments are
not to me very satisfactory.  But if merely a delegation of the
Eupatrids, as such writers suppose, the council would be still more
vicious in its constitution.

[212]  Pollux.

[213]  Aeschines in Timarch.

[214]  Each member was paid (as in England once, as in America at this
day) a moderate sum (one drachma) for his maintenance, and at the
termination of his trust, peculiar integrity was rewarded with money
from the public treasury.

[215]  When there were ten tribes, each tribe presided thirty-five
days, or five weeks; when the number was afterward increased to
twelve, the period of the presidency was one month.

[216]   Atimos means rather unhonoured than dishonoured.  He to whom,
in its milder degree, the word was applied, was rather withdrawn (as
it were) from honour than branded with disgrace.  By rapid degrees,
however, the word ceased to convey its original meaning; it was
applied to offences so ordinary and common, that it sunk into a mere
legal term.

[217]  The more heinous of the triple offences, termed eisangelia.

[218]  This was a subsequent law; an obolus, or one penny farthing,
was the first payment; it was afterward increased to three oboli, or
threepence three farthings.

[219]  Sometimes, also, the assembly was held in the Pnyx, afterward
so celebrated: latterly, also (especially in bad weather), in the
temple of Bacchus;--on extraordinary occasions, in whatever place was
deemed most convenient or capacious.

[220]  Plato de Legibus.

[221]  Plutarch assures us that Solon issued a decree that his laws
were to remain in force a hundred years: an assertion which modern
writers have rejected as incompatible with their constant revision.
It was not, however, so contradictory a decree as it seems at first
glance--for one of the laws not to be altered was this power of
amending and revising the laws.  And, therefore, the enactment in
dispute would only imply that the constitution was not to be altered
except through the constitutional channel which Solon had appointed.

[222]  See Fast. Hell., vol.  ii., 276.

[223]  Including, as I before observed, that law which provided for
any constitutional change in a constitutional manner.

[224]  “Et Croesum quem vox justi facunda Solonis
        Respicere ad longae jussit spatia ultima vitae.”
                                             Juv., Sat. x., s. 273.

The story of the interview and conversation between Croesus and Solon
is supported by so many concurrent authorities, that we cannot but
feel grateful to the modern learning, which has removed the only
objection to it in an apparent contradiction of dates.  If, as
contended for by Larcher, still more ably by Wesseling, and since by
Mr. Clinton, we agree that Croesus reigned jointly with his father
Alyattes, the difficulty vanishes at once.

[225]  Plutarch gives two accounts of the recovery of Salamis by
Solon; one of them, which is also preferred by Aelian (var. c. xix.,
lib. vii.), I have adopted and described in my narrative of that
expedition: the second I now give, but refer to Pisistratus, not
Solon: in support of which opinion I am indebted to Mr. Clinton for
the suggestion of two authorities.  Aeneas Tacticus, in his Treatise
on Sieges, chap. iv., and Frontinus de Stratagem., lib. iv., cap.
vii.--Justin also favours the claim of Pisistratus to this stratagem,
lib. xi., c. viii.

[226]  The most sanguine hope indeed that Cicero seems to have formed
with respect to the conduct of Cesar, was that he might deserve the
title of the Pisistratus of Rome.

[227]  If we may, in this anecdote, accord to Plutarch (de Vit. Sol.)
and Aelian (Var. lib. viii., c. xvi.) a belief which I see no reason
for withholding.

[228]  His own verses, rather than the narrative of Plutarch, are the
evidence of Solon’s conduct on the usurpation of Pisistratus.

[229]  This historian fixes the date of Solon’s visit to Croesus and
to Cyprus (on which island he asserts him to have died), not during
his absence of ten years, but during the final exile for which he

[230]  Herod., l. i., c. 49.

[231]  The procession of the goddess of Reason in the first French
revolution solves the difficulty that perplexed Herodotus.

[232]  Mr. Mitford considers this story as below the credit of
history.  He gives no sufficient reason against its reception, and
would doubtless have been less skeptical had he known more of the
social habits of that time, or possessed more intimate acquaintance
with human nature generally.

[233]  Upon which points, of men and money, Mr. Mitford, who is
anxious to redeem the character of Pisistratus from the stain of
tyranny, is dishonestly prevaricating.  Quoting Herodotus, who
especially insists upon these undue sources of aid, in the following
words--‘Errixose taen tyrannida, epikouroisi te polloisi kai
chraematon synodoisi, ton men, autothen, ton de, apo Strumanos potamou
synionton: this candid historian merely says, “A particular interest
with the ruling parties in several neighbouring states, especially
Thebes and Argos, and a wise and liberal use of a very great private
property, were the resources in which besides he mostly relied.”  Why
he thus slurs over the fact of the auxiliary forces will easily be
perceived.  He wishes us to understand that the third tyranny of
Pisistratus, being wholesome, was also acceptable to the Athenians,
and not, as it in a great measure was, supported by borrowed treasure
and foreign swords.

[234]  Who, according to Plutarch, first appeared at the return of
Solon; but the proper date for his exhibitions is ascertained (Fast.
Hell., vol. ii., p. 11) several years after Solon’s death.

[235]  These two wars, divided by so great an interval of time,--the
one terminated by Periander of Corinth, the other undertaken by
Pisistratus,--are, with the usual blundering of Mr. Mitford, jumbled
together into the same event.  He places Alcaeus in the war following
the conquest of Sigeum by Pisistratus.  Poor Alcaeus! the poet
flourished Olym. 42 (611 B. C.); the third tyranny of Pisistratus may
date somewhere about 537 B. C., so that Alcaeus, had he been alive in
the time ascribed by Mr. Mitford to his warlike exhibitions, would
have been (supposing him to be born twenty-six years before the date
of his celebrity in 611) just a hundred years old--a fitting age to
commence the warrior!  The fact is, Mr. Mitford adopted the rather
confused account of Herodotus, without taking the ordinary pains to
ascertain dates, which to every one else the very names of Periander
and Alcaeus would have suggested.

[236]  For the reader will presently observe the share taken by
Croesus in the affairs of this Miltiades during his government in the
Chersonesus; now Croesus was conquered by Cyrus about B. C. 546--it
must, therefore, have been before that period.  But the third tyranny
of Pisistratus appears to have commenced nine years afterward, viz.,
B. C. 537.  The second tyranny probably commenced only two years
before the fall of the Lydian monarchy, and seems to have lasted only
a year, and during that period Croesus no longer exercised over the
cities of the coast the influence he exerted with the people of
Lampsacus on behalf of Miltiades; the departure of Miltiades, son of
Cypselus, must therefore have been in the first tyranny, in the
interval 560 B. C.--554 B. C., and probably at the very commencement
of the reign--viz., about 550 B. C.

[237]  In the East, the master of the family still sits before the
door to receive visiters or transact business.

[238]  Thucydides, b. vi., c. 54.  The dialogue of Hipparchus,
ascribed to Plato, gives a different story, but much of the same
nature.  In matters of history, we cannot doubt which is the best
authority, Thucydides or Plato,--especially an apocryphal Plato.

[239]  Although it is probable that the patriotism of Aristogiton and
Harmodius “the beloved” has been elevated in after times beyond its
real standard, yet Mr. Mitford is not justified in saying that it was
private revenge, and not any political motive, that induced them to
conspire the death of Hippias and Hipparchus.  Had it been so, why
strike at Hippias at all?--why attempt to make him the first and
principal victim?--why assail Hipparchus (against whom only they had a
private revenge) suddenly, by accident, and from the impulse of the
moment, after the failure of their design on the tyrant himself, with
whom they had no quarrel?  It is most probable that, as in other
attempts at revolution, that of Masaniello--that of Rienzi--public
patriotism was not created--it was stimulated and made passion by
private resentment.

[240]  Mr. Mitford has most curiously translated this passage thus:
“Aristogiton escaped the attending guards, but, being taken by the
people (!!!) was not mildly treated.  So Thucydides has expressed
himself.”  Now Thucydides says quite the reverse: he says that, owing
to the crowd of the people, the guard could not at first seize him.
How did Mr. Mitford make this strange blunder?  The most charitable
supposition is, that, not reading the Greek, he was misled by an error
of punctuation in the Latin version.

[241]  “Qui cum per tormenta conscios caedis nominare cogeretur,” etc.
(Justin., lib. ii., chap. ix.) This author differs from the elder
writers as to the precise cause of the conspiracy.

[242]  Herodotus says they were both Gephyraeans by descent; a race,
according to him, originally Phoenician.--Herod.  b. v., c. 57.

[243]  Mr. Mitford too hastily and broadly asserts the whole story of
Leaena to be a fable: if, as we may gather from Pausanias, the statue
of the lioness existed in his time, we may pause before we deny all
authenticity to a tradition far from inconsonant with the manners of
the time or the heroism of the sex.

[244]  Thucyd., b. vi., c. 59.

[245]  Herodotus, b. vi., c. 103.  In all probability, the same
jealousy that murdered the father dismissed the son.  Hippias was far
too acute and too fearful not to perceive the rising talents and
daring temper of Miltiades.  By-the-way, will it be believed that
Mitford, in is anxiety to prove Hippias and Hipparchus the most
admirable persons possible, not only veils the unnatural passions of
the last, but is utterly silent about the murder of Cimon, which is
ascribed to the sons of Pisistratus by Herodotus, in the strongest and
gravest terms.--Mr. Thirlwall (Hist. of Greece, vol. ii., p. 223)
erroneously attributes the assassination of Cimon to Pisistratus

[246]  Suidas.  Laertius iv., 13, etc.  Others, as Ammonius and
Simplicius ad Aristotelem, derive the name of Cynics given to these
philosophers from the ridicule attached to their manners.

[247]  Whose ardour appears to have been soon damped.  They lost but
forty men, and then retired at once to Thessaly.  This reminds us of
the wars between the Italian republics, in which the loss of a single
horseman was considered no trifling misfortune.  The value of the
steed and the rank of the horseman (always above the vulgar) made the
cavalry of Greece easily discouraged by what appears to us an
inconsiderable slaughter.

[248]  Aelian. V. Hist. xiii., 24.

[249]  Wachsm, l. i., p. 273.  Others contend for a later date to this
most important change; but, on the whole, it seems a necessary
consequence of the innovations of Clisthenes, which were all modelled
upon the one great system of breaking down the influence of the
aristocracy.  In the speech of Otanes (Herod., lib. iii., c. 80), it
is curious to observe how much the vote by lot was identified with a
republican form of government.

[250]  See Sharon Turner, vol. i., book i.

[251]  Herod., b. i., c. xxvi.

[252]  Ctesias.  Mr. Thirlwall, in my judgment, very properly contents
himself with recording the ultimate destination of Croesus as we find
it in Ctesias, to the rejection of the beautiful romance of Herodotus.
Justin observes that Croesus was so beloved among the Grecian cities,
that, had Cyrus exercised any cruelty against him, the Persian hero
would have drawn upon himself a war with Greece.

[253]  After his fall, Croesus is said by Herodotus to have reproached
the Pythian with those treacherous oracles that conduced to the loss
of his throne, and to have demanded if the gods of Greece were usually
delusive and ungrateful.  True to that dark article of Grecian faith
which punished remote generations for ancestral crimes, the Pythian
replied, that Croesus had been fated to expiate in his own person the
crimes of Gyges, the murderer of his master;--that, for the rest, the
declarations of the oracle had been verified; the mighty empire,
denounced by the divine voice, had been destroyed, for it was his own,
and the mule, Cyrus, was presiding over the Lydian realm: a mule might
the Persian hero justly be entitled, since his parents were of
different ranks and nations.  His father a low-born Persian--his
mother a Median princess.  Herodotus assures us that Croesus was
content with the explanation--if so, the god of song was more
fortunate than the earthly poets he inspires, who have indeed often,
imitating his example, sacrificed their friends to a play upon words,
without being so easily able to satisfy their victims.

[254]  Herod., l. v., c. 74.

[255]  If colonists they can properly be called--they retained their
connexion with Athens, and all their rights of franchise.

[256]  Herod., l. v., c. 78.

[257]  Mr. Mitford, constantly endeavouring to pervert the simple
honesty of Herodotus to a sanction of despotic governments, carefully
slurs over this remarkable passage.

[258]  Pausanias, b. iii., c. 5 and 6.

[259]  Mr. Mitford, always unduly partial to the Spartan policy,
styles Cleomenes “a man violent in his temper, but of considerable
abilities.”  There is no evidence of his abilities.  His restlessness
and ferocity made him assume a prominent part which he was never
adequate to fulfil: he was, at best, a cunning madman.

[260]  Why, if discovered so long since by Cleomenes, were they
concealed till now?  The Spartan prince, afterward detected in bribing
the oracle itself, perhaps forged these oracular predictions.

[261]  Herod., b. v. c. 91.

[262]  What is the language of Mr. Mitford at this treason?  “We have
seen,” says that historian, “the democracy of Athens itself setting
the example (among the states of old Greece) of soliciting Persian
protection.  Will, then, the liberal spirit of patriotism and equal
government justify the prejudices of Athenian faction (!!!) and doom
Hippias to peculiar execration, because, at length, he also, with many
of his fellow-citizens, despairing of other means for ever returning
to their native country, applied to Artaphernes at Sardis?”  It is
difficult to know which to admire most, the stupidity or dishonesty of
this passage.  The Athenian democracy applied to Persia for relief
against the unjust invasion of their city and liberties by a foreign
force; Hippias applied to Persia, not only to interfere in the
domestic affairs of a free state, but to reduce that state, his native
city, to the subjection of the satrap.  Is there any parallel between
these cases?  If not, what dulness in instituting it!  But the
dishonesty is equal to the dulness.  Herodotus, the only author Mr.
Mitford here follows, expressly declares (I. v., c. 96) that Hippias
sought to induce Artaphernes to subject Athens to the sway of the
satrap and his master, Darius; yet Mr. Mitford says not a syllable of
this, leaving his reader to suppose that Hippias merely sought to be
restored to his country through the intercession of the satrap.

[263] Herod., l. v., c. 96.

[264]  Aulus Gellius, who relates this anecdote with more detail than
Herodotus, asserts that the slave himself was ignorant of the
characters written on his scull, that Histiaeus selected a domestic
who had a disease in his eyes--shaved him, punctured the skin, and
sending him to Miletus when the hair was grown, assured the credulous
patient that Aristagoras would complete the cure by shaving him a
second time.  According to this story we must rather admire the
simplicity of the slave than the ingenuity of Histiaeus.

[265]  Rather a hyperbolical expression--the total number of free
Athenians did not exceed twenty thousand.

[266]  The Paeonians.

[267]  Hecataeus, the historian of Miletus, opposed the retreat to
Myrcinus, advising his countrymen rather to fortify themselves in the
Isle of Leros, and await the occasion to return to Miletus.  This
early writer seems to have been one of those sagacious men who rarely
obtain their proper influence in public affairs, because they address
the reason in opposition to the passions of those they desire to lead.
Unsuccessful in this proposition, Hecataeus had equally failed on two
former occasions;--first, when he attempted to dissuade the Milesians
from the revolt of Aristagoras: secondly, when, finding them bent upon
it, he advised them to appropriate the sacred treasures in the temple
at Branchidae to the maintenance of a naval force.  On each occasion
his advice failed precisely because given without prejudice or
passion.  The successful adviser must appear to sympathize even with
the errors of his audience.

[268]  The humane Darius--whose virtues were his own, his faults of
his station--treated the son of Miltiades with kindness and respect,
married him to a Persian woman, and endowed him with an estate.  It
was the habitual policy of that great king to attach to his dominions
the valour and the intellect of the Greeks.

[269]  Pausanias says, that Talthybius afterward razed the house of
Miltiades, because that chief instigated the Athenians to the
execution of the Persian envoys.

[270]  Demaratus had not only prevented the marriage of Leotychides
with a maiden named Percalos, but, by a mixture of violence and
artifice, married her himself.  Thus, even among the sober and
unloving Spartans, woman could still be the author of revolutions.

[271]  The national pride of the Spartans would not, however, allow
that their king was the object of the anger of the gods, and
ascribing his excesses to his madness, accounted for the last
by a habit of excessive drinking which he had acquired from the

[272]  Herod., l. 6, c. 94.

[273]  Ibid., l. 6, c. 107.

[274]  The sun and moon.

[275]  In his attack upon Herodotus, Plutarch asserts that the
Spartans did make numerous military excursions at the beginning of the
month; if this be true, so far from excusing the Spartans, it only
corroborates the natural suspicion that they acted in accordance, not
with superstition, but with their usual calculating and selfish policy
--ever as slow to act in the defence of other states as prompt to
assert the independence of their own.

[276]  Paus., l. 8, c. 5.

[277]  The exact number of the Athenians is certainly doubtful.
Herodotus does not specify it.  Justin estimates the number of
citizens at ten thousand, besides a thousand Plataeans: Nepos at ten
thousand in all; Pausanias at nine thousand.  But this total,
furnished by authorities so equivocal, seems incredibly small.  The
free population could have been little short of twenty thousand.  We
must add the numbers, already great, of the resident aliens and the
slaves, who, as Pausanias tells us, were then for the first time
admitted to military service.  On the other hand it is evident, from
the speech of Miltiades to Callimachus, and the supposed treachery of
the Alcmaeonidae, that some, nor an inconsiderable, force, was left in
reserve at Athens for the protection of the city.  Let us suppose,
however, that two thirds of the Athenian citizens of military age,
viz., between the ages of twenty and sixty, marched to Marathon (and
this was but the common proportion on common occasions), the total
force, with the slaves, the settlers, and the Plataean auxiliaries,
could not amount to less than fifteen or sixteen thousand.  But
whatever the precise number of the heroes of Marathon, we have ample
testimony for the general fact that it was so trifling when compared
with the Persian armament, as almost to justify the exaggeration of
later writers.

[278]  Plut. in Vit. Aris. Aristid., pro Quatuor Vias, vol. ii., p.
222, edit. Dindorf.

[279]  In his graceful work on Athens and Attica, Mr. Wordsworth has
well observed the peculiar propriety of this reference to the examples
of Harmodius and Aristogiton, as addressed to Callimachus.  They were
from the same borough (aphidnae) as the polemarch himself.

[280]  The goddess of Athens was supposed to have invented a peculiar
trumpet used by her favoured votaries.

[281]  To raise the standard was the sign of battle.--Suidas, Thucyd.
Schol., c. 1.  On the Athenian standard was depicted the owl of
Minerva.--Plut. in Vit. Lysand.

[282]  Aeschyl. Persae.

[283]  Ibid.

[284]  Herod., l. 6., c. xii.

[285]  Plut. in Vit. Aristid.

[286]  Roos hespera.  Aristoph., Vesp 1080.

[287]  Justin, lib. ii., c. ix.

[288]  According, however, to Suidas, he escaped and died at Lemnos.

[289]  This incident confirms the expressed fear of Miltiades, that
delay in giving battle might produce division and treachery among some
of the Athenians.  Doubtless his speech referred to some particular
faction or individuals.

[290]  Plut. in Vit. Arist.

[291]  These apparitions, recorded by Pausanias, l. i., c. 33, are
still believed in by the peasantry.



by Edward Bulwer Lytton





     I  The Character and Popularity of Miltiades.--Naval expedition.
          --Siege of Paros.--Conduct of Miltiades.--He is Accused and
          Sentenced.--His Death.

    II  The Athenian Tragedy.--Its Origin.--Thespis.--Phrynichus.--
          Aeschylus.--Analysis of the Tragedies of Aeschylus.

   III  Aristides.--His Character and Position.--The Rise of
          Themistocles.--Aristides is Ostracised.--The Ostracism
          examined.--The Influence of Themistocles increases.--The
          Silver--mines of Laurion.--Their Product applied by
          Themistocles to the Increase of the Navy.--New Direction
          given to the National Character.

    IV  The Preparations of Darius.--Revolt of Egypt.--Dispute for
          The Succession to the Persian Throne.--Death of Darius.--
          Brief Review of the leading Events and Characteristics of
          his Reign.

     V  Xerxes conducts an Expedition into Egypt.--He finally resolves
          on the Invasion of Greece.--Vast Preparations for the
          Conquest of Europe.--Xerxes arrives at Sardis.--Despatches
          Envoys to the Greek States, demanding Tribute.--The Bridge
          of the Hellespont.--Review of the Persian Armament at
          Abydos.--Xerxes encamps at Therme.

    VI  The Conduct of the Greeks.--The Oracle relating to Salamis.--
          Art of Themistocles.--The Isthmian Congress.--Embassies to
          Argos, Crete, Corcyra, and Syracuse.--Their ill Success.--
          The Thessalians send Envoys to the Isthmus.--The Greeks
          advance to Tempe, but retreat.--The Fleet despatched to
          Artemisium, and the Pass of Thermopylae occupied.--Numbers
          of the Grecian Fleet.--Battle of Thermopylae.

   VII  The Advice of Demaratus to Xerxes.--Themistocles.--Actions off
          Artemisium.--The Greeks retreat.--The Persians invade
          Delphi, and are repulsed with great Loss.--The Athenians,
          unaided by their Allies, abandon Athens, and embark for
          Salamis.--The irresolute and selfish Policy of the
          Peloponnesians.--Dexterity and Firmness of Themistocles.--
          Battle of Salamis.--Andros and Carystus besieged by the
          Greeks.--Anecdotes of Themistocles.--Honours awarded to him
          in Sparta.--Xerxes returns to Asia.--Olynthus and Potidaea
          besieged by Artabazus.--The Athenians return Home.--The
          Ostracism of Aristides is repealed.

  VIII  Embassy of Alexander of Macedon to Athens.--The Result of his
          Proposals.--Athenians retreat to Salamis.--Mardonius
          occupies Athens.--The Athenians send Envoys to Sparta.--
          Pausanias succeeds Cleombrotus as Regent of Sparta.--Battle
          of Plataea.--Thebes besieged by the Athenians.--Battle of
          Mycale.--Siege of Sestos.--Conclusion of the Persian War.



     I  Remarks on the Effects of War.--State of Athens.--Interference
          of Sparta with respect to the Fortifications of Athens.--
          Dexterous Conduct of Themistocles.--The New Harbour of the
          Piraeus.--Proposition of the Spartans in the Amphictyonic
          Council defeated by Themistocles.--Allied Fleet at Cyprus
          and Byzantium.--Pausanias.--Alteration in his Character.--
          His ambitious Views and Treason.--The Revolt of the Ionians
          from the Spartan Command.--Pausanias recalled.--Dorcis
          replaces him.--The Athenians rise to the Head of the Ionian
          League.--Delos made the Senate and Treasury of the Allies.--
          Able and prudent Management of Aristides.--Cimon succeeds
          To the Command of the Fleet.--Character of Cimon.--Eion
          besieged.--Scyros colonized by Atticans.--Supposed Discovery
          of the Bones of Theseus.--Declining Power of Themistocles.
          --Democratic Change in the Constitution.--Themistocles
          ostracised.--Death of Aristides.

    II  Popularity and Policy of Cimon.--Naxos revolts from the
          Ionian League.--Is besieged by Cimon.--Conspiracy and
          Fate of Pausanias.--Flight and Adventures of Themistocles.
          --His Death.

   III  Reduction of Naxos.--Actions off Cyprus.--Manners of
          Cimon.--Improvements in Athens.--Colony at the Nine Ways.
          --Siege of Thasos.--Earthquake in Sparta.--Revolt of Helots,
          Occupation of Ithome, and Third Messenian War.--Rise and
          Character of Pericles.--Prosecution and Acquittal of Cimon.
          --The Athenians assist the Spartans at Ithome.--Thasos
          Surrenders.--Breach between the Athenians and Spartans.--
          Constitutional Innovations at Athens.--Ostracism of Cimon.

    IV  War between Megara and Corinth.--Megara and Pegae garrisoned
          by Athenians.--Review of Affairs at the Persian Court.--
          Accession of Artaxerxes.--Revolt of Egypt under Inarus.--
          Athenian Expedition to assist Inarus.--Aegina besieged.--The
          Corinthians defeated.--Spartan Conspiracy with the Athenian
          Oligarchy.--Battle of Tanagra.--Campaign and Successes of
          Myronides.--Plot of the Oligarchy against the Republic.--
          Recall of Cimon.--Long Walls completed.--Aegina reduced.--
          Expedition under Tolmides.--Ithome surrenders.--The
          Insurgents are settled at Naupactus.--Disastrous Termination
          of the Egyptian Expedition.--The Athenians march into
          Thessaly to restore Orestes the Tagus.--Campaign under
          Pericles.--Truce of five Years with the Peloponnesians.--
          Cimon sets sail for Cyprus.--Pretended Treaty of Peace with
          Persia.--Death of Cimon.

     V  Change of Manners in Athens.--Begun under the Pisistratidae.--
          Effects of the Persian War, and the intimate Connexion with
          Ionia.--The Hetaerae.--The Political Eminence lately
          acquired by Athens.--The Transfer of the Treasury from Delos
          to Athens.--Latent Dangers and Evils.--First, the Artificial
          Greatness of Athens not supported by Natural Strength.--
          Secondly, her pernicious Reliance on Tribute.--Thirdly,
          Deterioration of National Spirit commenced by Cimon in the
          Use of Bribes and Public Tables.--Fourthly, Defects in
          Popular Courts of Law.--Progress of General Education.--
          History.--Its Ionian Origin.--Early Historians.--Acusilaus.
          of the Life and Writings of Herodotus.--Progress of
          Philosophy since Thales.--Philosophers of the Ionian and
          Eleatic Schools.--Pythagoras.--His Philosophical Tenets and
          Political Influence.--Effect of these Philosophers on
          Athens.--School of Political Philosophy continued in Athens
          from the Time of Solon.--Anaxagoras.--Archelaus.--Philosophy
          not a thing apart from the ordinary Life of the Athenians.



     I  Thucydides chosen by the Aristocratic Party to oppose
          Pericles.--His Policy.--Munificence of Pericles.--Sacred
          War.--Battle of Coronea.--Revolt of Euboea and Megara--
          Invasion and Retreat of the Peloponnesians.--Reduction of
          Euboea.--Punishment of Histiaea.--A Thirty Years’ Truce
          concluded with the Peloponnesians.--Ostracism of Thucydides.

    II  Causes of the Power of Pericles.--Judicial Courts of the
          dependant Allies transferred to Athens.--Sketch of the
          Athenian Revenues.--Public Buildings the Work of the People
          rather than of Pericles.--Vices and Greatness of Athens had
          the same Sources.--Principle of Payment characterizes the
          Policy of the Period.--It is the Policy of Civilization.--
          Colonization, Cleruchia.

   III  Revision of the Census.--Samian War.--Sketch of the Rise and
          Progress of the Athenian Comedy to the Time of Aristophanes.

    IV  The Tragedies of Sophocles.



B. C. 490--B. C. 479.


The Character and Popularity of Miltiades.--Naval Expedition.--Siege
of Paros.--Conduct of Miltiades.--He is Accused and Sentenced.--His

I.  History is rarely more than the biography of great men.  Through a
succession of individuals we trace the character and destiny of
nations.  THE PEOPLE glide away from us, a sublime but intangible
abstraction, and the voice of the mighty Agora reaches us only through
the medium of its representatives to posterity.  The more democratic
the state, the more prevalent this delegation of its history to the
few; since it is the prerogative of democracies to give the widest
competition and the keenest excitement to individual genius: and the
true spirit of democracy is dormant or defunct, when we find no one
elevated to an intellectual throne above the rest.  In regarding the
characters of men thus concentrating upon themselves our survey of a
nation, it is our duty sedulously to discriminate between their
qualities and their deeds: for it seldom happens that their renown in
life was unattended with reverses equally signal--that the popularity
of to-day was not followed by the persecution of to-morrow: and in
these vicissitudes, our justice is no less appealed to than our pity,
and we are called upon to decide, as judges, a grave and solemn cause
between the silence of a departed people, and the eloquence of
imperishable names.

We have already observed in the character of Miltiades that astute and
calculating temperament common to most men whose lot it has been to
struggle for precarious power in the midst of formidable foes.  We
have seen that his profound and scheming intellect was not accompanied
by any very rigid or high-wrought principle; and placed, as the chief
of the Chersonese had been from his youth upward, in situations of
great peril and embarrassment, aiming always at supreme power, and, in
his harassed and stormy domain, removed far from the public opinion of
the free states of Greece, it was natural that his political code
should have become tempered by a sinister ambition, and that the
citizen of Athens should be actuated by motives scarcely more
disinterested than those which animated the tyrant of the Chersonese.
The ruler of one district may be the hero, but can scarcely be the
patriot, of another.  The long influence of years and custom--the
unconscious deference to the opinion of those whom our youth has been
taught to venerate, can alone suffice to tame down an enterprising and
grasping mind to objects of public advantage, in preference to designs
for individual aggrandizement: influence of such a nature had never
operated upon the views and faculties of the hero of Marathon.
Habituated to the enjoyment of absolute command, he seemed incapable
of the duties of civil subordination; and the custom of a life urged
him onto the desire of power [1].  These features of his character
fairly considered, we shall see little to astonish us in the later
reverses of Miltiades, and find additional causes for the popular
suspicions he incurred.

II.  But after the victory of Marathon, the power of Miltiades was at
its height.  He had always possessed the affection of the Athenians,
which his manners as well as his talents contributed to obtain for
him.  Affable and courteous--none were so mean as to be excluded from
his presence; and the triumph he had just achieved so largely swelled
his popularity, that the most unhesitating confidence was placed in
all his suggestions.

In addition to the victory of Marathon, Miltiades, during his tyranny
in the Chersonese, had gratified the resentment and increased the
dominion of the Athenians.  A rude tribe, according to all authority,
of the vast and varied Pelasgic family, but essentially foreign to,
and never amalgamated with, the indigenous Pelasgians of the Athenian
soil, had in very remote times obtained a settlement in Attica.  They
had assisted the Athenians in the wall of their citadel, which
confirmed, by its characteristic masonry, the general tradition of
their Pelasgic race.  Settled afterward near Hymettus, they refused to
blend with the general population--quarrels between neighbours so near
naturally ensued--the settlers were expelled, and fixed themselves in
the Islands of Lemnos and Imbros--a piratical and savage horde.  They
kept alive their ancient grudge with the Athenians, and, in one of
their excursions, landed in Attica, and carried off some of the women
while celebrating a festival of Diana.  These captives they subjected
to their embraces, and ultimately massacred, together with the
offspring of the intercourse.  “The Lemnian Horrors” became a
proverbial phrase--the wrath of the gods manifested itself in the
curse of general sterility, and the criminal Pelasgi were commanded by
the oracle to repair the heinous injury they had inflicted on the
Athenians.  The latter were satisfied with no atonement less than that
of the surrender of the islands occupied by the offenders.  Tradition
thus reported the answer of the Pelasgi to so stern a demand--
“Whenever one of your vessels, in a single day and with a northern
wind, makes its passage to us, we will comply.”

Time passed on, the injury was unatoned, the remembrance remained--
when Miltiades (then in the Chersonese) passed from Elnos in a single
day and with a north wind to the Pelasgian Islands, avenged the cause
of his countrymen, and annexed Lemnos and Imbros to the Athenian sway.
The remembrance of this exploit had from the first endeared Miltiades
to the Athenians, and, since the field of Marathon, he united in
himself the two strongest claims to popular confidence--he was the
deliverer from recent perils, and the avenger of hereditary wrongs.

The chief of the Chersonese was not slow to avail himself of the
advantage of his position.  He promised the Athenians a yet more
lucrative, if less glorious enterprise than that against the Persians,
and demanded a fleet of seventy ships, with a supply of men and money,
for an expedition from which he assured them he was certain to return
laden with spoil and treasure.  He did not specify the places against
which the expedition was to be directed; but so great was the belief
in his honesty and fortune, that the Athenians were contented to grant
his demand.  The requisite preparations made, Miltiades set sail.
Assuming the general right to punish those islands which had sided
with the Persian, he proceeded to Paros, which had contributed a
trireme to the armament of Datis.  But beneath the pretext of national
revenge, Miltiades is said to have sought the occasion to prosecute a
selfish resentment.  During his tyranny in the Chersonese, a Parian,
named Lysagoras, had sought to injure him with the Persian government,
and the chief now wreaked upon the island the retaliation due to an

Such is the account of Herodotus--an account not indeed inconsistent
with the vindictive passions still common to the inhabitants of the
western clime, but certainly scarce in keeping with the calculating
and politic character of Miltiades: for men go backward in the career
of ambition when revenging a past offence upon a foe that is no longer

Miltiades landed on the island, laid vigorous siege to the principal
city, and demanded from the inhabitants the penalty of a hundred
talents.  The besieged refused the terms, and worked day and night at
the task of strengthening the city for defence.  Nevertheless,
Miltiades succeeded in cutting off all supplies, and the city was on
the point of yielding; when suddenly the chief set fire to the
fortifications he had erected, drew off his fleet, and returned to
Athens, not only without the treasure he had promised, but with an
ignominious diminution of the glory he had already acquired.  The most
probable reason for a conduct [2] so extraordinary was, that by some
accident a grove on the continent was set on fire--the flame, visible
equally to the besiegers and the besieged, was interpreted alike by
both: each party imagined it a signal from the Persian fleet--the one
was dissuaded from yielding, and the other intimidated from
continuing the siege.  An additional reason for the retreat was a
severe wound in the leg which Miltiades had received, either in the
course of the attack, or by an accident he met with when attempting
with sacrilegious superstition to consult the infernal deities on
ground dedicated to Ceres.

III.  We may readily conceive the amazement and indignation with
which, after so many promises on the one side, and such unbounded
confidence on the other, the Athenians witnessed the return of this
fruitless expedition.  No doubt the wily and equivocal parts of the
character of Miltiades, long cast in shade by his brilliant qualities,
came now more obviously in view.  He was impeached capitally by
Xanthippus, an Athenian noble, the head of that great aristocratic
faction of the Alcmaeonids, which, inimical alike to the tyrant and
the demagogue, brooked neither a master of the state nor a hero with
the people.  Miltiades was charged with having accepted a bribe from
the Persians [3], which had induced him to quit the siege of Paros at
the moment when success was assured.

The unfortunate chief was prevented by his wound from pleading his own
cause--he was borne into the court stretched upon his couch, while his
brother, Tisagoras, conducted his defence.  Through the medium of his
advocate, Miltiades seems neither vigorously to have refuted the
accusation of treason to the state, nor satisfactorily to have
explained his motives for raising the siege.  His glory was his
defence; and the chief answer to Xanthippus was “Marathon and Lemnos.”
 The crime alleged against him was of a capital nature; but, despite
the rank of the accuser, and the excitement of his audience, the
people refused to pronounce sentence of death upon so illustrious a
man.  They found him guilty, it is true--but they commuted the capital
infliction to a fine of fifty talents.  Before the fine was paid,
Miltiades expired of the mortification of his wound.  The fine was
afterward paid by his son, Cimon.  Thus ended a life full of adventure
and vicissitude.

The trial of Miltiades has often been quoted in proof of the
ingratitude and fickleness of the Athenian people.  No charge was ever
more inconsiderately made.  He was accused of a capital crime, not by
the people, but by a powerful noble.  The noble demanded his death--
appears to have proved the charge--to have had the law which imposed
death wholly on his side--and “the favour of the people it was,” says
Herodotus, expressly, “which saved his life.” [4]  When we consider
all the circumstances of the case--the wound to the popular vanity--
the disappointment of excited expectation--the unaccountable conduct
of Miltiades himself--and then see his punishment, after a conviction
which entailed death, only in the ordinary assessment of a pecuniary
fine [5], we cannot but allow that the Athenian people (even while
vindicating the majesty of law, which in all civilized communities
must judge offences without respect to persons) were not in this
instance forgetful of the services nor harsh to the offences of their
great men.


The Athenian Tragedy.--Its Origin.--Thespis.--Phrynichus.--Aeschylus.
--Analysis of the Tragedies of Aeschylus.

I.  From the melancholy fate of Miltiades, we are now invited to a
subject no less connected with this important period in the history of
Athens.  The interval of repose which followed the battle of Marathon
allows us to pause, and notice the intellectual state to which the
Athenians had progressed since the tyranny of Pisistratus and his

We have remarked the more familiar acquaintance with the poems of
Homer which resulted from the labours and example of Pisistratus.
This event (for event it was), combined with other causes,--the
foundation of a public library, the erection of public buildings, and
the institution of public gardens--to create with apparent suddenness,
among a susceptible and lively population, a general cultivation of
taste.  The citizens were brought together in their hours of
relaxation [6], by the urbane and social manner of life, under
porticoes and in gardens, which it was the policy of a graceful and
benignant tyrant to inculcate; and the native genius, hitherto
dormant, of the quick Ionian race, once awakened to literary and
intellectual objects, created an audience even before it found
expression in a poet.  The elegant effeminacy of Hipparchus
contributed to foster the taste of the people--for the example of the
great is nowhere more potent over the multitude than in the
cultivation of the arts.  Patronage may not produce poets, but it
multiplies critics.  Anacreon and Simonides, introduced among the
Athenians by Hipparchus, and enjoying his friendship, no doubt added
largely to the influence which poetry began to assume.  The peculiar
sweetness of those poets imbued with harmonious contagion the genius
of the first of the Athenian dramatists, whose works, alas! are lost
to us, though evidence of their character is preserved.  About the
same time the Athenians must necessarily have been made more
intimately acquainted with the various wealth of the lyric poets of
Ionia and the isles.  Thus it happened that their models in poetry
were of two kinds, the epic and the lyric; and, in the natural
connexion of art, it was but the next step to accomplish a species of
poetry which should attempt to unite the two.  Happily, at this time,
Athens possessed a man of true genius, whose attention early
circumstances had directed to a rude and primitive order of histrionic
recitation:--Phrynichus, the poet, was a disciple of Thespis, the
mime: to him belongs this honour, that out of the elements of the
broadest farce he conceived the first grand combinations of the tragic

II.  From time immemorial--as far back, perhaps, as the grove
possessed an altar, and the waters supplied a reed for the pastoral
pipe--Poetry and Music had been dedicated to the worship of the gods
of Greece.  At the appointed season of festival to each several deity,
his praises were sung, his traditionary achievements were recited.
One of the divinities last introduced into Greece--the mystic and
enigmatical Dionysos, or Bacchus, received the popular and
enthusiastic adoration naturally due to the God of the Vineyard, and
the “Unbinder of galling cares.”  His festival, celebrated at the most
joyous of agricultural seasons [7], was associated also with the most
exhilarating associations.  Dithyrambs, or wild and exulting songs, at
first extemporaneous, celebrated the triumphs of the god.  By degrees,
the rude hymn swelled into prepared and artful measures, performed by
a chorus that danced circling round the altar; and the dithyramb
assumed a lofty and solemn strain, adapted to the sanctity of
sacrifice and the emblematic majesty of the god.  At the same time,
another band (connected with the Phallic procession, which, however
outwardly obscene, betokened only, at its origin, the symbol of
fertility, and betrays the philosophy of some alien and eastern creed
[8]) implored in more lively and homely strains the blessing of the
prodigal and jovial deity.  These ceremonial songs received a wanton
and wild addition, as, in order, perhaps, more closely to represent
and personify the motley march of the Liber Pater, the chorus-singers
borrowed from the vine-browsing goat which they sacrificed the hides
and horns, which furnished forth the merry mimicry of the satyr and
the faun.  Under license of this disguise, the songs became more
obscene and grotesque, and the mummers vied with each other in
obtaining the applause of the rural audience by wild buffoonery and
unrestricted jest.  Whether as the prize of the winner or as the
object of sacrifice, the goat (tragos in the Greek) was a sufficiently
important personage to bestow upon the exhibition the homely name of
TRAGEDY, or GOATSONG, destined afterward to be exalted by association
with the proudest efforts of human genius.  And while the DITHYRAMB,
yet amid the Dorian tribes, retained the fire and dignity of its
hereditary character--while in Sicyon it rose in stately and mournful
measures to the memory of Adrastus, the Argive hero--while in Corinth,
under the polished rule of Periander, Arion imparted to the antique
hymn a new character and a more scientific music [9],--gradually, in
Attica, it gave way before the familiar and fantastic humours of the
satyrs, sometimes abridged to afford greater scope to their
exhibitions--sometimes contracting the contagion of their burlesque.
Still, however, the reader will observe, that the tragedy, or
goatsong, consisted of two parts--first, the exhibition of the
mummers, and, secondly, the dithyrambic chorus, moving in a circle
round the altar of Bacchus.  It appears on the whole most probable,
though it is a question of fierce dispute and great uncertainty, that
not only this festive ceremonial, but also its ancient name of
tragedy, or goatsong, had long been familiar in Attica [10], when,
about B. C. 535, during the third tyranny of Pisistratus, a skilful
and ingenious native of Icaria, an Attic village in which the
Eleutheria, or Bacchic rites, were celebrated with peculiar care,
surpassed all competitors in the exhibition of these rustic
entertainments.  He relieved the monotonous pleasantries of the
satyric chorus by introducing, usually in his own person, a histrionic
tale-teller, who, from an elevated platform, and with the lively
gesticulations common still to the popular narrators of romance on the
Mole of Naples, or in the bazars of the East, entertain the audience
with some mythological legend.  It was so clear that during this
recital the chorus remained unnecessarily idle and superfluous, that
the next improvement was as natural in itself, as it was important in
its consequences.  This was to make the chorus assist the narrator by
occasional question or remark.

The choruses themselves were improved in their professional art by
Thespis.  He invented dances, which for centuries, retained their
popularity on the stage, and is said to have given histrionic disguise
to his reciter--at first, by the application of pigments to the face;
and afterward, by the construction of a rude linen mask.

III.  These improvements, chiefly mechanical, form the boundary to the
achievements of Thespis.  He did much to create a stage--little to
create tragedy, in the proper acceptation of the word.  His
performances were still of a ludicrous and homely character, and much
more akin to the comic than the tragic.  Of that which makes the
essence of the solemn drama of Athens--its stately plot, its gigantic
images, its prodigal and sumptuous poetry, Thespis was not in any way
the inventor.  But PHRYNICHUS, the disciple of Thespis, was a poet; he
saw, though perhaps dimly and imperfectly, the new career opened to
the art, and he may be said to have breathed the immortal spirit into
the mere mechanical forms, when he introduced poetry into the bursts
of the chorus and the monologue of the actor.  Whatever else
Phrynichus effected is uncertain.  The developed plot--the
introduction of regular dialogue through the medium of a second actor
--the pomp and circumstance--the symmetry and climax of the drama--do
not appear to have appertained to his earlier efforts; and the great
artistical improvements which raised the simple incident to an
elaborate structure of depicted narrative and awful catastrophe, are
ascribed, not to Phrynichus, but Aeschylus.  If the later works of
Phrynichus betrayed these excellences, it is because Aeschylus had
then become his rival, and he caught the heavenly light from the new
star which was destined to eclipse him.  But every thing essential was
done for the Athenian tragedy when Phrynichus took it from the satyr
and placed it under the protection of the muse--when, forsaking the
humours of the rustic farce, he selected a solemn subject from the
serious legends of the most vivid of all mythologies--when he breathed
into the familiar measures of the chorus the grandeur and sweetness of
the lyric ode--when, in a word, taking nothing from Thespis but the
stage and the performers, he borrowed his tale from Homer and his
melody from Anacreon.  We must not, then, suppose, misled by the
vulgar accounts of the Athenian drama, that the contest for the goat,
and the buffooneries of Thespis, were its real origin; born of the
epic and the lyric song, Homer gave it character, and the lyrists
language.  Thespis and his predecessors only suggested the form to
which the new-born poetry should be applied.

IV.  Thus, under Phrynichus, the Thespian drama rose into poetry,
worthy to exercise its influence upon poetical emulation, when a young
man of noble family and sublime genius, rendered perhaps more
thoughtful and profound by the cultivation of a mystical philosophy
[11], which had lately emerged from the primitive schools of Ionian
wisdom, brought to the rising art the united dignity of rank,
philosophy, and genius.  Aeschylus, son of Euphorion, born at Eleusis
B. C. 525, early saturated a spirit naturally fiery and exalted with
the vivid poetry of Homer.  While yet a boy, and probably about the
time when Phrynichus first elevated the Thespian drama, he is said to
have been inspired by a dream with the ambition to excel in the
dramatic art.  But in Homer he found no visionary revelation to assure
him of those ends, august and undeveloped, which the actor and the
chorus might be made the instruments to effect.  For when the idea of
scenic representation was once familiar, the epics of Homer suggested
the true nature of the drama.  The great characteristic of that poet
is individuality.  Gods or men alike have their separate,
unmistakeable attributes and distinctions--they converse in dialogue--
they act towards an appointed end.  Bring Homer on the stage, and
introduce two actors instead of a narrator, and a drama is at once
effected.  If Phrynichus from the first borrowed his story from Homer,
Aeschylus, with more creative genius and more meditative intellect,
saw that there was even a richer mine in the vitality of the Homeric
spirit--the unity of the Homeric designs.  Nor was Homer, perhaps, his
sole though his guiding inspiration.  The noble birth of Aeschylus no
doubt gave him those advantages of general acquaintance with the
poetry of the rest of Greece, which an education formed under the
lettered dynasty of the Pisistratidae would naturally confer on the
well-born.  We have seen that the dithyramb, debased in Attica to the
Thespian chorus, was in the Dorian states already devoted to sublime
themes, and enriched by elaborate art; and Simonides, whose elegies,
peculiar for their sweetness, might have inspired the “ambrosial”
 Phrynichus, perhaps gave to the stern soul of Aeschylus, as to his own
pupil Pindar, the model of a loftier music, in his dithyrambic odes.

V.  At the age of twenty-five, the son of Euphorion produced his first
tragedy.  This appears to have been exhibited in the year after the
appearance of Aristagoras at Athens,--in that very year so eventful
and important, when the Athenians lighted the flames of the Persian
war amid the blazing capital of Sardis.  He had two competitors in
Pratinas and Choerilus.  The last, indeed, preceded Phrynichus, but
merely in the burlesques of the rude Thespian stage; the example of
Phrynichus had now directed his attention to the new species of drama,
but without any remarkable talent for its cultivation.  Pratinas, the
contemporary of Aeschylus, did not long attempt to vie with his mighty
rival in his own line [12].  Recurring to the old satyr-chorus, he
reduced its unmeasured buffooneries into a regular and systematic
form; he preserved the mythological tale, and converted it into an
artistical burlesque.  This invention, delighting the multitude, as it
adapted an ancient entertainment to the new and more critical taste,
became so popular that it was usually associated with the graver
tragedy; when the last becoming a solemn and gorgeous spectacle, the
poet exhibited a trilogy (or three tragedies) to his mighty audience,
while the satyric invention of Pratinas closed the whole, and answered
the purpose of our modern farce [13].  Of this class of the Grecian
drama but one specimen remains, in the Cyclops of Euripides.  It is
probable that the birth, no less than the genius of Aeschylus, enabled
him with greater facility to make the imposing and costly additions to
the exhibition, which the nature of the poetry demanded--since, while
these improvements were rapidly proceeding, the poetical fame of
Aeschylus was still uncrowned.  Nor was it till the fifteenth year
after his first exhibition that the sublimest of the Greek poets
obtained the ivy chaplet, which had succeeded to the goat and the ox,
as the prize of the tragic contests.  In the course of a few years, a
regular stage, appropriate scenery and costume, mechanical inventions
and complicated stage machinery, gave fitting illusion to the
representation of gods and men.  To the monologue of Phrynichus,
Aeschylus added a second actor [14]; he curtailed the choruses,
connected them with the main story, and, more important than all else,
reduced to simple but systematic rules the progress and development of
a poem, which no longer had for its utmost object to please the ear or
divert the fancy, but swept on its mighty and irresistible march, to
besiege passion after passion, and spread its empire over the whole

An itinerant platform was succeeded by a regular theatre of wood--the
theatre of wood by a splendid edifice, which is said to have held no
less an audience than thirty thousand persons [15].  Theatrical
contests became a matter of national and universal interest.  These
contests occurred thrice a year, at three several festivals of Bacchus
[16].  But it was at the great Dionysia, held at the end of March and
commencement of April, that the principal tragic contests took place.
At that period, as the Athenian drama increased in celebrity, and
Athens herself in renown, the city was filled with visiters, not only
from all parts of Greece, but almost from every land in which the
Greek civilization was known.  The state took the theatre under its
protection, as a solemn and sacred institution.  So anxious were the
people to consecrate wholly to the Athenian name the glory of the
spectacle, that at the great Dionysia no foreigner, nor even any
metoecus (or alien settler), was permitted to dance in the choruses.
The chief archon presided, over the performances; to him was awarded
the selection of the candidates for the prize.  Those chosen were
allowed three actors [17] by lot and a chorus, the expense of which
was undertaken by the state, and imposed upon one of the principal
persons of each tribe, called choragus.  Thus, on one occasion,
Themistocles was the choragus to a tragedy by Phrynichus.  The immense
theatre, crowded by thousands, tier above tier, bench upon bench, was
open to the heavens, and commanded, from the sloping hill on which it
was situated, both land and sea.  The actor apostrophized no mimic
pasteboard, but the wide expanse of Nature herself--the living sun,
the mountain air, the wide and visible Aegaean.  All was proportioned
to the gigantic scale of the theatre, and the mighty range of the
audience.  The form was artificially enlarged and heightened; masks of
exquisite art and beauty brought before the audience the ideal images
of their sculptured gods and heroes, while (most probably) mechanical
inventions carried the tones of the voice throughout the various tiers
of the theatre.  The exhibitions took place in the open day, and the
limited length of the plays permitted the performance of probably no
less than ten or twelve before the setting of the sun.  The sanctity
of their origin, and the mythological nature of their stories, added
something of religious solemnity to these spectacles, which were
opened by ceremonial sacrifice.  Dramatic exhibitions, at least for a
considerable period, were not, as with us, made hackneyed by constant
repetition.  They were as rare in their recurrence as they were
imposing in their effect; nor was a drama, whether tragic or comic,
that had gained the prize, permitted a second time to be exhibited.  A
special exemption was made in favour of Aeschylus, afterward extended
to Sophocles and Euripides.  The general rule was necessarily
stimulant of renewed and unceasing exertion, and was, perhaps, the
principal cause of the almost miraculous fertility of the Athenian

VI.  On the lower benches of the semicircle sat the archons and
magistrates, the senators and priests; while apart, but in seats
equally honoured, the gaze of the audience was attracted, from time to
time, to the illustrious strangers whom the fame of their poets and
their city had brought to the Dionysia of the Athenians.  The youths
and women [18] had their separate divisions; the rest of the audience
were ranged according to their tribes, while the upper galleries were
filled by the miscellaneous and impatient populace.

In the orchestra (a space left by the semicircular benches, with wings
stretching to the right and left before the scene), a small square
platform served as the altar, to which moved the choral dances, still
retaining the attributes of their ancient sanctity.  The coryphaeus,
or leader of the chorus, took part in the dialogue as the
representative of the rest, and, occasionally, even several of the
number were excited into exclamations by the passion of the piece.
But the principal duty of the chorus was to diversify the dialogue by
hymns and dirges, to the music of flutes, while, in dances far more
artful than those now existent, they represented by their movements
the emotions that they sung [19],--thus bringing, as it were, into
harmony of action the poetry of language.  Architectural
embellishments of stone, representing a palace, with three entrances,
the centre one appropriated to royalty, the others to subordinate
rank, usually served for the scene.  But at times, when the plot
demanded a different locality, scenes painted with the utmost art and
cost were easily substituted; nor were wanting the modern contrivances
of artificial lightning and thunder--the clouds for the gods--a
variety of inventions for the sudden apparition of demon agents,
whether from above or below--and all the adventitious and effective
aid which mechanism lends to genius.

VII.  Thus summoning before us the external character of the Athenian
drama, the vast audience, the unroofed and enormous theatre, the
actors themselves enlarged by art above the ordinary proportions of
men, the solemn and sacred subjects from which its form and spirit
were derived, we turn to Aeschylus, and behold at once the fitting
creator of its grand and ideal personifications.  I have said that
Homer was his original; but a more intellectual age than that of the
Grecian epic had arrived, and with Aeschylus, philosophy passed into
poetry.  The dark doctrine of fatality imparted its stern and awful
interest to the narration of events--men were delineated, not as mere
self-acting and self-willed mortals, but as the agents of a destiny
inevitable and unseen--the gods themselves are no longer the gods of
Homer, entering into the sphere of human action for petty motives and
for individual purposes--drawing their grandeur, not from the part
they perform, but from the descriptions of the poet;--they appear now
as the oracles or the agents of fate--they are visiters from another
world, terrible and ominous from the warnings which they convey.
Homer is the creator of the material poetry, Aeschylus of the
intellectual.  The corporeal and animal sufferings of the Titan in the
epic hell become exalted by tragedy into the portrait of moral
fortitude defying physical anguish.  The Prometheus of Aeschylus is
the spirit of a god disdainfully subjected to the misfortunes of a
man.  In reading this wonderful performance, which in pure and
sustained sublimity is perhaps unrivalled in the literature of the
world, we lose sight entirely of the cheerful Hellenic worship; and
yet it is in vain that the learned attempt to trace its vague and
mysterious metaphysics to any old symbolical religion of the East.
More probably, whatever theological system it shadows forth, was
rather the gigantic conception of the poet himself, than the imperfect
revival of any forgotten creed, or the poetical disguise of any
existent philosophy.  However this be, it would certainly seem, that,
in this majestic picture of the dauntless enemy of Jupiter, punished
only for his benefits to man, and attracting all our sympathies by his
courage and his benevolence, is conveyed something of disbelief or
defiance of the creed of the populace--a suspicion from which
Aeschylus was not free in the judgment of his contemporaries, and
which is by no means inconsonant with the doctrines of Pythagoras.

VIII.  The conduct of the fable is as follows: two vast demons,
Strength and Force, accompanied by Vulcan, appear in a remote plain of
earth--an unpeopled desert.  There, on a steril and lofty rock, hard
by the sea, Prometheus is chained by Vulcan--“a reward for his
disposition to be tender to mankind.”  The date of this doom is cast
far back in the earliest dawn of time, and Jupiter has but just
commenced his reign.  While Vulcan binds him, Prometheus utters no
sound--it is Vulcan, the agent of his punishment, that alone
complains.  Nor is it till the dread task is done, and the ministers
of Jupiter have retired, that “the god, unawed by the wrath of gods,”
 bursts forth with his grand apostrophe--

    “Oh Air divine!  Oh ye swift-winged Winds--
     Ye sources of the Rivers, and ye Waves,
     That dimple o’er old Ocean like his smiles--
     Mother of all--oh Earth! and thou the orb,
     All-seeing, of the Sun, behold and witness
     What I, a god, from the stern gods endure.

          *     *     *     *     *     *

     When shall my doom be o’er?--Be o’er!--to me
     The Future hides no riddle--nor can wo
     Come unprepared!  It fits me then to brave
     That which must be: for what can turn aside
     The dark course of the grim Necessity?”

While thus soliloquizing, the air becomes fragrant with odours, and
faintly stirs with the rustling of approaching wings.  The Daughters
of Ocean, aroused from their grots below, are come to console the
Titan.  They utter many complaints against the dynasty of Jove.
Prometheus comforts himself by the prediction that the Olympian shall
hereafter require his services, and that, until himself released from
his bondage, he will never reveal to his tyrant the danger that
menaces his realm; for the vanquished is here described as of a
mightier race than the victor, and to him are bared the mysteries of
the future, which to Jupiter are denied.  The triumph of Jupiter is
the conquest of brute force over knowledge.

Prometheus then narrates how, by means of his counsels, Jupiter had
gained his sceptre, and the ancient Saturn and his partisans been
whelmed beneath the abyss of Tartarus--how he alone had interfered
with Jupiter to prevent the extermination of the human race (whom
alone the celestial king disregarded and condemned)--how he had
imparted to them fire, the seed of all the arts, and exchanged in
their breasts the terrible knowledge of the future for the beguiling
flatteries of hope and hence his punishment.

At this time Ocean himself appears: he endeavours unavailingly to
persuade the Titan to submission to Jupiter.  The great spirit of
Prometheus, and his consideration for others, are beautifully
individualized in his answers to his consoler, whom he warns not to
incur the wrath of the tyrant by sympathy with the afflicted.  Alone
again with the Oceanides, the latter burst forth in fresh strains of

    “The wide earth echoes wailingly,
         Stately and antique were thy fallen race,
       The wide earth waileth thee!
         Lo! from the holy Asian dwelling-place,
     Fall for a godhead’s wrongs, the mortals’ murmuring tears,
       They mourn within the Colchian land,
         The virgin and the warrior daughters,
       And far remote, the Scythian band,
         Around the broad Maeotian waters,
       And they who hold in Caucasus their tower,
           Arabia’s martial flower
     Hoarse-clamouring ‘midst sharp rows of barbed spears.

       One have I seen with equal tortures riven--
       An equal god; in adamantine chains
               Ever and evermore
       The Titan Atlas, crush’d, sustains
         The mighty mass of mighty Heaven,
       And the whirling cataracts roar,
       With a chime to the Titan’s groans,
       And the depth that receives them moans;
       And from vaults that the earth are under,
       Black Hades is heard in thunder;
     While from the founts of white-waved rivers flow
     Melodious sorrows, wailing with his wo.”

Prometheus, in his answer, still farther details the benefits he had
conferred on men--he arrogates to himself their elevation to intellect
and reason [20].  He proceeds darkly to dwell on the power of
Necessity, guided by “the triform fates and the unforgetful Furies,”
 whom he asserts to be sovereign over Jupiter himself.  He declares
that Jupiter cannot escape his doom: “His doom,” ask the daughters of
Ocean, “is it not evermore to reign?”--“That thou mayst not learn,”
 replies the prophet; “and in the preservation of this secret depends
my future freedom.”

The rejoinder of the chorus is singularly beautiful, and it is with a
pathos not common to Aeschylus that they contrast their present
mournful strain with that which they poured

    “What time the silence, erst was broken,
       Around the baths, and o’er the bed
     To which, won well by many a soft love-token,
     And hymn’d by all the music of delight,
       Our Ocean-sister, bright
         Hesione, was led!”

At the end of this choral song appears Io, performing her mystic
pilgrimage [21].  The utter wo and despair of Io are finely contrasted
with the stern spirit of Prometheus.  Her introduction gives rise to
those ancestral and traditionary allusions to which the Greeks were so
attached.  In prophesying her fate, Prometheus enters into much
beautiful descriptive poetry, and commemorates the lineage of the
Argive kings.  After Io’s departure, Prometheus renews his defiance to
Jupiter, and his stern prophecies, that the son of Saturn shall be
“hurled from his realm, a forgotten king.”  In the midst of these
weird denunciations, Mercury arrives, charged by Jupiter to learn the
nature of that danger which Prometheus predicts to him.  The Titan
bitterly and haughtily defies the threats and warnings of the herald,
and exults, that whatever be his tortures, he is at least immortal,--
to be afflicted, but not to die.  Mercury at length departs--the
menace of Jupiter is fulfilled--the punishment is consummated--and,
amid storm and earthquake, both rock and prisoner are struck by the
lightnings of the god into the deep abyss.

    “The earth is made to reel, and rumbling by,
     Bellowing it rolls, the thunder’s gathering wrath!
     And the fierce fires glare livid; and along
     The rocks the eddies of the sands whirl high,
     Borne by the hurricane, and all the blasts
     Of all the winds leap forth, each hurtling each
     Met in the wildness of a ghastly war,
     The dark floods blended with the swooping heaven.
     It comes--it comes! on me it speeds--the storm,
     The rushing onslaught of the thunder-god;
     Oh, majesty of earth, my solemn mother!
     And thou that through the universal void,
     Circlest sweet light, all blessing; EARTH AND ETHER,
     YE I invoke, to know the wrongs I suffer.”

IX.  Such is the conclusion of this unequalled drama, epitomized
somewhat at undue length, in order to show the reader how much the
philosophy that had awakened in the age of Solon now actuated the
creations of poetry.  Not that Aeschylus, like Euripides, deals in
didactic sentences and oracular aphorisms.  He rightly held such
pedantries of the closet foreign to the tragic genius [22].  His
philosophy is in the spirit, and not in the diction of his works--in
vast conceptions, not laconic maxims.  He does not preach, but he
inspires.  The “Prometheus” is perhaps the greatest moral poem in the
world--sternly and loftily intellectual--and, amid its darker and less
palpable allegories, presenting to us the superiority of an immortal
being to all mortal sufferings.  Regarded merely as poetry, the
conception of the Titan of Aeschylus has no parallel except in the
Fiend of Milton.  But perhaps the representation of a benevolent
spirit, afflicted, but not accursed--conquered, but not subdued by a
power, than which it is elder, and wiser, and loftier, is yet more
sublime than that of an evil demon writhing under the penance
deservedly incurred from an irresistible God.  The one is intensely
moral--at once the more moral and the more tragic, because the
sufferings are not deserved, and therefore the defiance commands our
sympathy as well as our awe; but the other is but the picture of a
righteous doom, borne by a despairing though stubborn will; it affords
no excitement to our courage, and forbids at once our admiration and
our pity.

X.  I do not propose to conduct the reader at length through the other
tragedies of Aeschylus; seven are left to us, to afford the most
striking examples which modern or ancient literature can produce of
what perhaps is the true theory of the SUBLIME, viz., the elevating
the imagination by means of the passions, for a moral end.

Nothing can be more grand and impressive than the opening of the
“Agamemnon,” with the solitary watchman on the tower, who, for ten
long years, has watched nightly for the beacon-fires that are to
announce the fall of Ilion, and who now beholds them blaze at last.
The description which Clytemnestra gives of the progress of these
beacon-fires from Troy to Argos is, for its picturesque animation, one
of the most celebrated in Aeschylus.  The following lines will convey
to the general reader a very inadequate reflection, though not an
unfaithful paraphrase, of this splendid passage [23].  Clytemnestra
has announced to the chorus the capture of Troy.  The chorus, half
incredulous, demand what messenger conveyed the intelligence.
Clytemnestra replies:--

    “A gleam--a gleam--from Ida’s height,
       By the fire--god sent, it came;
     From watch to watch it leap’d that light,
       As a rider rode the flame!
         It shot through the startled sky;
           And the torch of that blazing glory
         Old Lemnos caught on high,
           On its holy promontory,
         And sent it on, the jocund sign,
         To Athos, mount of Jove divine.
       Wildly the while it rose from the isle,
     So that the might of the journeying light
       Skimm’d over the back of the gleaming brine!
         Farther and faster speeds it on,
       Till the watch that keep Macistus steep--
           See it burst like a blazing sun!
             Doth Macistus sleep
             On his tower--clad steep?
       No! rapid and red doth the wild-fire sweep
         It flashes afar, on the wayward stream
         Of the wild Euripus, the rushing beam!
       It rouses the light on Messapion’s height,
       And they feed its breath with the withered heath.
             But it may not stay!
             And away--away
         It bounds in its freshening might.
             Silent and soon,
             Like a broadened moon,
           It passes in sheen, Asopus green, [24]
         And bursts on Cithaeron gray.
       The warder wakes to the signal rays,
       And it swoops from the hill with a broader blaze,
         On--on the fiery glory rode--
         Thy lonely lake, Gorgopis, glowed--
         To Megara’s Mount it came;
           They feed it again,
           And it streams amain
         A giant beard of flame!
       The headland cliffs that darkly down
       O’er the Saronic waters frown,
       Are pass’d with the swift one’s lurid stride,
       And the huge rock glares on the glaring tide,
       With mightier march and fiercer power
       It gain’d Arachne’s neighbouring tower--
       Thence on our Argive roof its rest it won,
       Of Ida’s fire the long-descended son
         Bright harbinger of glory and of joy!
       So first and last with equal honour crown’d,
       In solemn feasts the race-torch circles round.
       And these my heralds! this my SIGN OF PEACE!
       Lo! while we breathe, the victor lords of Greece,
         Stalk, in stern tumult, through the halls of Troy!” [25]

In one of the earlier choruses, in which is introduced an episodical
allusion to the abduction of Helen, occurs one of those soft passages
so rare in Aeschylus, nor less exquisite than rare.  The chorus
suppose the minstrels of Menelaus thus to lament the loss of Helen:--

    “And wo the halls, and wo the chiefs,
       And wo the bridal bed!
     And we her steps--for once she loved
       The lord whose love she fled!
     Lo! where, dishonour yet unknown,
     He sits--nor deems his Helen flown,
     Tearless and voiceless on the spot;
     All desert, but he feels it not!
     Ah! soon alive, to miss and mourn
     The form beyond the ocean borne
         Shall start the lonely king!
     And thought shall fill the lost one’s room,
     And darkly through the palace gloom
         Shall stalk a ghostly thing. [26]
       Her statues meet, as round they rise,
       The leaden stare of lifeless eyes.
     Where is their ancient beauty gone?--
     Why loathe his looks the breathing stone?
     Alas! the foulness of disgrace
     Hath swept the Venus from her face!
     And visions in the mournful night
     Shall dupe the heart to false delight,
         A false and melancholy;
     For naught with sadder joy is fraught,
     Than things at night by dreaming brought,
         The wish’d for and the holy.
     Swift from the solitary side,
     The vision and the blessing glide,
     Scarce welcomed ere they sweep,
       Pale, bloodless, dreams, aloft
       On wings unseen and soft,
     Lost wanderers gliding through the paths of sleep.”

But the master-terror of this tragedy is in the introduction of
Cassandra, who accompanies Agamemnon, and who, in the very hour of his
return, amid the pomp and joy that welcome the “king of men,” is
seized with the prophetic inspiration, and shrieks out those ominous
warnings, fated ever to be heard in vain.  It is she who recalls to
the chorus, to the shuddering audience, that it is the house of the
long-fated Atridae, to which their descendant has returned--“that
human shamble-house--that bloody floor--that dwelling, abhorred by
Heaven, privy to so many horrors against the most sacred ties;” the
doom yet hangs over the inexpiable threshold; the curse passes from
generation to generation; Agamemnon is the victim of his sires.

Recalling the inhuman banquet served by Atreus to Thyestes of his own
murdered children, she starts from the mangled spectres on the

    “See ye those infants crouching by the floor,
     Like phantom dreams, pale nurslings, that have perish’d
     By kindred hands.”

Gradually her ravings become clear and clearer, until at last she
scents the “blood-dripping slaughter within;” a vapour rises to her
nostrils as from a charnel house--her own fate, which she foresees at
hand, begins to overpower her--her mood softens, and she enters the
palace, about to become her tomb, with thoughts in which frantic
terror has yielded to solemn and pathetic resignation:

    “Alas for mortals!--what their power and pride?
     A little shadow sweeps it from the earth!
     And if they suffer--why, the fatal hour
     Comes o’er the record like a moistened sponge,
     And blots it out; _methinks this latter lot
     Affects me deepest--Well! ‘tis pitiful!”_ [27]

Scarcely has the prophetess withdrawn than we hear behind the scene
the groans of the murdered king, the palace behind is opened, and
Clytemnestra is standing, stern and lofty, by the dead body of her
lord.  The critics have dwelt too much on the character of
Clytemnestra--it is that of Cassandra which is the masterpiece of the

XI.  The story, which is spread throughout three plays (forming a
complete trilogy), continues in the opening of the Choephori, with
Orestes mourning over his father’s tomb.  If Clytemnestra has
furnished would-be critics with a comparison with Lady Macbeth, for no
other reason than that one murdered her husband, and the other
persuaded her husband to murder somebody else, so Orestes may with
more justice be called the Hamlet of the Greeks; but though the
character itself of Orestes is not so complex and profound as that of
Hamlet, nor the play so full of philosophical beauties as the modern
tragedy, yet it has passages equally pathetic, and more sternly and
terribly sublime.  The vague horror which in the commencement of the
play prepares us for the catastrophe by the dream of Clytemnestra--how
a serpent lay in swaddling-clothes like an infant, and she placed it
in her breast, and it drew blood; the brief and solemn answer of

    “Man’s visions never come to him in vain;”

the manner in which the avenging parricide interrupts the dream, so
that (as in Macbeth) the prediction inspires the deed that it
foretells; the dauntless resolution of Clytemnestra, when she hears, in
the dark sayings of her servant, that “the dead are slaying the
living” (i. e., that through the sword of Orestes Agamemnon is avenged
on Aegisthus), calls for a weapon, royal to the last, wishing only to

    “Know which shall be the victor or the vanquished--
     Since that the crisis of the present horror;”

the sudden change from fierce to tender as Orestes bursts in, and,
thinking only of her guilty lover, she shrieks forth,

    “Ah! thou art then no more, beloved Aegisthus;”

the advance of the threatening son, the soft apostrophe of the mother
as she bares her bosom--

    “Hold! and revere this breast on which so oft
     Thy young cheek nestled--cradle of thy sleep,
     And fountain of thy being;”

the recoil of Orestes--the remonstrance of Pylades--the renewed
passion of the avenger--the sudden recollection of her dream, which
the murderess scarcely utters than it seems to confirm Orestes to its
fulfilment, and he pursues and slays her by the side of the adulterer;
all these passages are full of so noble a poetry, that I do not think
the parallel situations in Hamlet equal their sustained and solemn
grandeur.  But the sublimest effort of the imagination is in the
conclusion.  While Orestes is yet justifying the deed that avenged a
father, strange and confused thoughts gradually creep over him.  No
eyes see them but his own--there they are, “the Gorgons, in vestments
of sable, their eyes dropping loathly blood!”  Slowly they multiply,
they approach, still invisible but to their prey--“the angry
hell-hounds of his mother.”  He flies, the fresh blood yet dripping
from his hands.  This catastrophe--the sudden apparition of the Furies
ideally imaged forth to the parricide alone--seems to me greater in
conception than the supernatural agency in Hamlet.  The visible ghost
is less awful than the unseen Furies.

The plot is continued through the third piece of the trilogy (the
Eumenides), and out of Aeschylus himself, no existing tragedy presents
so striking an opening--one so terrible and so picturesque.  It is the
temple of Apollo at Delphi.  The priestess, after a short invocation,
enters the sacred edifice, but suddenly returns.  “A man,” she says,
“is at the marble seat, a suppliant to the god--his bloody hands hold
a drawn sword and a long branch of olive.  But around the man sleep a
wondrous and ghastly troop, not of women, but of things woman-like,
yet fiendish; harpies they seem, but are not; black-robed and
wingless, and their breath is loud and baleful, and their eyes drop
venom--and their garb is neither meet for the shrines of God nor the
habitations of men.  Never have I seen (saith the Pythian) a nation
which nurtured such a race.”  Cheered by Apollo, Orestes flies while
the dread sisters yet sleep; and now within the temple we behold the
Furies scattered around, and a pale and lofty shape, the ghost of
Clytemnestra, gliding on the stage, awakens the agents of her
vengeance.  They break forth as they rouse themselves, “Seize--seize--
seize.”  They lament--they bemoan the departure of their victim, they
expostulate with Apollo, who expels them from his temple.  The scene
changes; Orestes is at Athens,--he pleads his cause before the temple
of Minerva.  The contest is now shared by gods; Apollo and the Furies
are the pleaders--Pallas is the umpire, the Areopagites are the
judges.  Pallas casts in her vote in favour of Orestes--the lots are
equal--he is absolved; the Furies, at first enraged, are soothed by
Minerva, and, invited to dwell in Athens, pour blessings on the land.
A sacred but joyous procession crowns the whole.  Thus the
consummation of the trilogy is cheerful, though each of the two former
pieces is tragic; and the poet artfully conduces the poem to the
honour of his native Athens and the venerable Areopagus.  Regarding
the three as one harmonious and united performance, altogether not so
long as one play of Shakspeare’s, they are certainly not surpassed in
greatness of thought, in loftiness of conception, and in sustained
vigour of execution, by any poem in the compass of literature; nor,
observing their simple but compact symmetry as a whole, shall we do
right to subscribe to those who deny to Aeschylus the skill of the
artist, while they grant him the faculty of the poet.

The ingenious Schlegel attributes to these tragedies symbolical
interpretations, but to my judgment with signal ill-success.  These
four tragedies--the Prometheus, the Agamemnon, the Choephori, and the
Eumenides--are in grandeur immeasurably superior to the remaining

XII.  Of these last, the Seven against Thebes is the best.  The
subject was one peculiarly interesting to Greece; the War of the Seven
was the earliest record of a league among the Grecian princes, and of
an enterprise carried on with a regular and systematic design.  The
catastrophe of two brothers falling by each other’s hand is terrible
and tragic, and among the most national of the Grecian legends.  The
fierce and martial spirit of the warrior poet runs throughout the
play; his descriptions are animated as with the zeal and passion of
battle; the chorus of Theban virgins paint in the most glowing colours
the rush of the adverse hosts--the prancing of the chargers--the sound
of their hoofs, “rumbling as a torrent lashing the side of cliffs;” we
hear the creak of the heavy cars--the shrill whiz of the javelins,
“maddening the very air”--the showers of stones crashing over the
battlements--the battering at the mighty gates--the uproar of the
city--the yells of rapine--the shrieks of infants “strangled by the
bubbling blood.”  Homer himself never accumulated more striking images
of horror.  The description of Tydeus is peculiarly Homeric--

    “Three shadowy crests, the honours of his helm,
     Wave wild, and shrilly from his buckler broad
     The brazen bell rings terror.  On the shield
     He bears his haughty ensign--typed by stars
     Gleaming athwart the sky, and in the midst
     Glitters the royal Moon--the Eye of Night.
     Fierce in the glory of his arms, his voice
     Roars by the river banks; and drunk with war
     He pants, as some wild charger, when the trump
     Clangs ringing, as he rushes on the foe.”

The proud, dauntless, and warlike spirit of Eteocles which is designed
and drawn with inconceivable power, is beautifully characterized in
his reply to the above description:

    “Man hath no armour, war hath no array,
     At which this heart can tremble; no device
     Nor blazonry of battle can inflict
     The wounds they menace; crests and clashing bells
     Without the spear are toothless, and the night,
     Wrought on yon buckler with the stars of heaven,
     Prophet, perchance, his doom; and if dark Death
     Close round his eyes, are but the ominous signs
     Of the black night that waits him.”

The description of each warrior stationed at each gate is all in the
genius of Homer, closing as it does with that of Polynices, the
brother of the besieged hero, whom, when he hears his name, Eteocles
himself resolves to confront.  At first, indeed, the latter breaks out
into exclamations which denote the awe and struggle of the abhorrent
nature; forebodings of his own doom flit before him, he feels the
curses of his sire are ripening to their fruit, and that the last
storm is yet to break upon the house of Oedipus.  Suddenly he checks
the impulse, sensible of the presence of the chorus.  He passes on to
reason with himself, through a process of thought which Shakspeare
could not have surpassed.  He conjures up the image of that brother,
hateful and unjust from infancy to boyhood, from boyhood up to youth--
he assures himself that justice would be forsworn if this foe should
triumph--and rushes on to his dread resolve.

    “‘Tis I will face this warrior; who can boast
     A right to equal mine?  Chief against chief--
     Foe against foe!--and brother against brother.
     What, ho! my greaves, my spear, my armour proof
     Against this storm of stones!  My stand is chosen.”

Eteocles and his brother both perish in the unnatural strife, and the
tragedy ends with the decree of the senators to bury Eteocles with due
honours, and the bold resolution of Antigone (the sister of the dead)
to defy the ordinance which forbids a burial to Polynices--

    “For mighty is the memory of the womb
     From which alike we sprung--a wretched mother!”

The same spirit which glows through the “Seven against Thebes” is also
visible in the “Persians,” which, rather picturesque than dramatic, is
tragedy brought back to the dithyrambic ode.  It portrays the defeat
of Xerxes, and contains one of the most valuable of historical
descriptions, in the lines devoted to the battle of Salamis.  The
speech of Atossa (the mother of Xerxes), in which she enumerates the
offerings to the shade of Darius, is exquisitely beautiful.

                “The charms that sooth the dead:
    White milk, and lucid honey, pure-distill’d
    By the wild bee--that craftsman of the flowers;
    The limpid droppings of the virgin fount,
    And this bright liquid from its mountain mother
    Born fresh--the joy of the time--hallowed vine;
    The pale-green olive’s odorous fruit, whose leaves
    Live everlastingly--and these wreathed flowers,
    The smiling infants o’ the prodigal earth.”

Nor is there less poetry in the invocation of the chorus to the shade
of Darius, which slowly rises as they conclude.  But the purpose for
which the monarch returns to earth is scarcely sufficient to justify
his appearance, and does not seem to be in accordance with the power
over our awe and terror which the poet usually commands.  Darius hears
the tale of his son’s defeat--warns the Persians against interfering
with the Athenians--tells the mother to comfort and console her son--
bids the chorus (who disregard his advice) give themselves to mirth,
even though in affliction, “for to the dead riches are no advantage”--
and so returns to his repose, which seems very unnecessarily

“The Suppliants,” which Schlegel plausibly conjectures to have been
the intermediate piece of a trilogy, is chiefly remarkable as a proof
of the versatility of the poet.  All horror has vanished from the
scene; the language is soft when compared with the usual diction of
Aeschylus; the action is peaceful, and the plot extremely simple,
being merely the protection which the daughters of Danaus obtain at
the court of Pelasgus from the pursuit of the sons of Aegyptus.  The
heroines of the play, the Danaides, make the chorus, and this serves
to render the whole, yet more than the Persians, a lyric rather than a
tragedy.  The moral of the play is homely and primitive, and seems
confined to the inculcation of hospitality to strangers, and the
inviolable sanctity of the shrine.  I do not know any passages in “The
Suppliants” that equal in poetry the more striking verses of “The
Persians,” or “The Seven against Thebes.”

XIII.  Attempts have been made to convey to modern readers a more
familiar notion of Aeschylus by comparisons with modern poets.  One
critic likens him to Dante, another to Milton--but he resembles
neither.  No modern language can convey a notion of the wonderful
strength of his diction--no modern poet, of the stern sublimity of his
conceptions.  The French tragedians may give some weak reflection of
Euripides or even of Sophocles, but none have ventured upon the sacred
territory of the father of the tragic drama.  He defies all imitation.
His genius is so near the verge of bombast, that to approach his
sublime is to rush into the ridiculous. [28]

Aeschylus never once, in the plays that have come down to us,
delineates love, except by an expression or two as regards the passion
of Clytemnestra for Aegisthus [29].  It was emblematic of a new state
of society when Euripides created the Phaedra and the Medea.  His
plots are worked out by the simplest and the fewest positions.  But he
had evidently his own theory of art, and studied with care such stage
effects as appeared to him most striking and impressive.  Thus, in the
burlesque contest between Aeschylus and Euripides, in the comedy of
“The Frogs,” the former is censured, not for too rude a neglect, but
for too elaborate a cultivation, of theatrical craft--such as
introducing his principal characters, his Niobe and Achilles [30],
with their faces hid, and preserving long and obstinate silence, in
order by that suspense to sharpen the expectation of the audience.
Aeschylus, in fact, contrary to the general criticism, was as earnest
and thoughtful an artist as Sophocles himself.  There was this
difference, it is true; one invented the art and the other perfected.

But the first requires as intense a study as the last; and they who
talk of the savage and untutored genius of Aeschylus, are no wiser
than the critics who applied the phrase of “native wood-notes wild” to
the consummate philosophy of “Hamlet,” the anatomical correctness of
“Othello,” the delicate symmetry of “The Tempest.”  With respect to
the language of Aeschylus, ancient critics unite with the modern in
condemning the straining of his metaphors, and the exaggeration of his
images; yet they appear to me a necessary part of his genius, and of
the effect it produces.  But nothing can be more unsatisfactory and
inconclusive than the theory of Schlegel, that such metaphors and
images, such rugged boldness and irregular fire, are the
characteristics of a literature in its infancy.  On the contrary, as
we have already seen, Phrynichus, the predecessor of Aeschylus, was as
much characterized by sweetness and harmony, as Aeschylus by grandeur
and headlong animation.  In our own time, we have seen the cold
classic school succeeded by one full of the faults which the German,
eloquent but superficial, would ascribe to the infancy of literature.
The diction of Aeschylus was the distinction of himself, and not of
his age; if it require an apology, let us not seek it in false
pretences; if he had written after Euripides, his diction would have
been equally startling, and his metaphors equally lofty.  His genius
was one of those which, in any age, can form an era, and not that
which an era necessarily forms.  He might have enriched his music from
the strains of the Dorian lyres, but he required only one poet to have
lived before him.  The rest of the Greek dramatists required
Aeschylus--Aeschylus required only Homer.

The POET is, indeed, the creator, not of images solely, but of men--
not of one race of ideas and characters, but of a vast and
interminable posterity scattered over the earth.  The origin of what
wonderful works, in what distant regions, in what various time, may be
traced, step by step, from influence to influence, till we arrive at
Homer!  Such is the vitality of genius.  The true spiritual
transmigrator--it passes through all shapes--losing identity, but not
life--and kindred to the GREAT INTELLIGENCE, which is the soul of
matter--departing from one form only to animate another.


Aristides.--His Character and Position.--The Rise of Themistocles.--
Aristides is Ostracised.--The Ostracism examined.--The Influence of
Themistocles increases.--The Silver-mines of Laurion.--Their Product
applied by Themistocles to the Increase of the Navy.--New Direction
given to the National Character.

I.  While the progress of the drama and the genius of Aeschylus
contributed to the rising renown of Athens, there appeared on the
surface of her external affairs two rival and principal actors, of
talents and designs so opposite, that it soon became evident that the
triumph of one could be only in the defeat of the other.  Before the
battle of Marathon, Aristides had attained a very considerable
influence in Athens.  His birth was noble--his connexions wealthy--his
own fortune moderate.  He had been an early follower and admirer of
Clisthenes, the establisher of popular institutions in Athens after
the expulsion of the Pisistratidae, but he shared the predilection of
many popular chieftains, and while opposing the encroachments of a
tyranny, supported the power of an aristocracy.  The system of
Lycurgus was agreeable to his stern and inflexible temper.  His
integrity was republican--his loftiness of spirit was patrician.  He
had all the purity, the disinterestedness, and the fervour of a
patriot--he had none of the suppleness or the passion of a demagogue;
on the contrary, he seems to have felt much of that high-spirited
disdain of managing a people which is common to great minds conscious
that they are serving a people.  His manners were austere, and he
rather advised than persuaded men to his purposes.  He pursued no
tortuous policy, but marched direct to his object, fronting, and not
undermining, the obstacles in his path.  His reputation for truth and
uprightness was proverbial, and when some lines in Aeschylus were
recited on the stage, implying that “to be, and not to seem, his
wisdom was,” the eyes of the spectators were fixed at once upon
Aristides.  His sternness was only for principles--he had no harshness
for men.  Priding himself on impartiality between friends and foes, he
pleaded for the very person whom the laws obliged him to prosecute;
and when once, in his capacity of arbiter between two private persons,
one of the parties said that his opponent had committed many injuries
against Aristides, he rebuked him nobly: “Tell me not,” he said, “of
injuries against myself, but against thee.  It is thy cause I am
adjudging, and not my own.”  It may be presumed, that with these
singular and exalted virtues, he did not seek to prevent the wounds
they inflicted upon the self-love of others, and that the qualities of
a superior mind were displayed with the bearing of a haughty spirit.
He became the champion of the aristocratic party, and before the
battle of Marathon he held the office of public treasurer.  In this
capacity Plutarch asserts that he was subjected to an accusation by
Themistocles, and even intimates that Themistocles himself had been
his predecessor in that honourable office [31].  But the youth of
Themistocles contradicts this statement; and though his restless and
ambitious temper had led him already into active life, and he might
have combined with others more influential against Aristides, it can
scarcely be supposed that, possessing no advantages of birth, he rose
into much power or distinction, till he won sudden and popular
applause by his gallantry at Marathon.

II.  Themistocles was of illegitimate birth, according to the Athenian
prejudice, since his mother was a foreigner.  His father, though
connected with the priestly and high-born house of the Lycomedae, was
not himself a Eupatrid.  The young Themistocles had many of the
qualities which the equivocal condition of illegitimacy often educes
from active and stirring minds--insolence, ostentation, the desire to
shine, and the invincible ambition to rise.  He appears, by a popular
tale, to have early associated with his superiors, and to have evinced
betimes the art and address which afterward distinguished him.  At a
meeting of all the illegitimate youths assembled at the wrestling-ring
at Cynosarges, dedicated to Hercules, he persuaded some of the young
nobles to accompany him, so as to confound as it were the distinction
between the legitimate and the baseborn.  His early disposition was
bold, restless, and impetuous.  He paid little attention to the
subtleties of schoolmen, or the refinements of the arts; but even in
boyhood devoted himself to the study of politics and the arts of
government.  He would avoid the sports and occupations of his
schoolfellows, and compose declamations, of which the subject was the
impeachment or defence of some of his young friends.  His dispositions
prophesied of his future career, and his master was wont to say, “that
he was born to be a blessing or a curse to the commonwealth.”  His
strange and precocious boyhood was followed by a wild and licentious
youth.  He lived in extremes, and alternated between the loosest
pleasures [32] and the most daring ambition.  Entering prematurely
into public life, either his restless disposition or his political
principles embroiled him with men of the highest rank.  Fearless and
sanguine, he cared not whom he attacked, or what he adventured; and,
whatever his conduct before the battle of Marathon, the popular
opinions he embraced could not but bring him, after that event, in
constant opposition to Aristides, the champion of the Areopagus.

That splendid victory which gave an opening to his career sharpened
his ambition.  The loud fame of Miltiades, yet unconscious of reverse,
inspired him with a lofty envy.  He seems from that period to have
forsaken his more youthful excesses.  He abstained from his wonted
pursuits and pleasures--he indulged much in solitary and abstracted
thought--he watched whole nights.  His friends wondered at the change,
and inquired the cause.  “The trophies of Miltiades,” said he, “will
not suffer me to sleep.”  From these meditations, which are common to
most men in the interval between an irregular youth and an aspiring
manhood, he soon seems to have awakened with fixed objects and
expanded views.  Once emerged from the obscurity of his birth, his
success was rapid, for he possessed all the qualities which the people
demanded in a leader--not only the talents and the courage, but the
affability and the address.  He was an agreeable and boon companion--
he committed to memory the names of the humblest citizens--his
versatility enabled him to be all things to all men.  Without the
lofty spirit and beautiful mind of Pericles, without the prodigal but
effeminate graces of Alcibiades--without, indeed, any of their
Athenian poetry in his intellectual composition, he yet possessed much
of their powers of persuasion, their ready talent for business, and
their genius of intrigue.  But his mind, if coarser than that of
either of his successors, was yet perhaps more masculine and
determined; nothing diverted him from his purpose--nothing arrested
his ambition.  His ends were great, and he associated the rise of his
country with his more selfish objects, but he was unscrupulous as to
his means.  Avid of glory, he was not keenly susceptible to honour.
He seems rather not to have comprehended, than comprehending, to have
disdained the limits which principle sets to action.  Remarkably
far-sighted, he possessed, more than any of his contemporaries, the
prophetic science of affairs: patient, vigilant, and profound, he was
always energetic, because always prepared.

Such was the rival of Aristides, and such the rising leader of the
popular party at Athens.

III.  History is silent as to the part taken by Aristides in the
impeachment of Miltiades, but there is no reason to believe that he
opposed the measure of the Alcmaeonid party with which he acted, and
which seems to have obtained the ascendency after the death of
Miltiades.  In the year following the battle of Marathon, we find
Aristides in the eminent dignity of archon.  In this office he became
generally known by the title of the Just.  His influence, his official
rank, the power of the party that supported him, soon rendered him the
principal authority of Athens.  The courts of the judges were
deserted, every litigant repaired to his arbitration--his
administration of power obtained him almost the monopoly of it.
Still, however, he was vigorously opposed by Themistocles and the
popular faction led by that aspiring rival.

By degrees; various reasons, the chief of which was his own high
position, concurred to diminish the authority of Aristides; even among
his own partisans he lost ground, partly by the jealousy of the
magistrates, whose authority he had superseded--and partly, doubtless,
from a maxim more dangerous to a leader than any he can adopt, viz.,
impartiality between friends and foes in the appointment to offices.
Aristides regarded, not the political opinions, but the abstract
character or talents, of the candidates.  With Themistocles, on the
contrary, it was a favourite saying, “The gods forbid that I should be
in power, and my friends no partakers of my success.”  The tendency of
the first policy is to discontent friends, while it rarely, if ever,
conciliates foes; neither is it so elevated as it may appear to the
superficial; for if we contend for the superiority of one set of
principles over another, we weaken the public virtue when we give
equal rewards to the principles we condemn as to the principles we
approve.  We make it appear as if the contest had been but a war of
names, and we disregard the harmony which ought imperishably to exist
between the opinions which the state should approve and the honours
which the state can confer.  He who is impartial as to persons must
submit to seem lukewarm as to principles.  Thus the more towering and
eminent the seeming power of Aristides, the more really hollow and
insecure were its foundations.  To his own party it was unproductive--
to the multitude it appeared unconstitutional.  The extraordinary
honours he had acquired--his monopoly of the magistrature--his
anti-popular opinions, could not but be regarded with fear by a people
so jealous of their liberties.  He seemed to their apprehensions to be
approaching gradually to the sovereignty of the state--not, indeed, by
guards and military force, but the more dangerous encroachments of
civil authority.  The moment for the attack arrived.  Themistocles
could count at last upon the chances of a critical experiment, and
Aristides was subjected to the ordeal of the ostracism.

IV.  The method of the ostracism was this:--each citizen wrote upon a
shell, or a piece of broken earthenware, the name of the person he
desired to banish.  The magistrates counted the shells, and if they
amounted to six thousand (a very considerable proportion of the free
population, and less than which rendered the ostracism invalid), they
were sorted, and the man whose name was found on the greater number of
shells was exiled for ten years, with full permission to enjoy his
estates.  The sentence was one that honoured while it afflicted, nor
did it involve any other accusation than that of being too powerful or
too ambitious for the citizen of a free state.  It is a well-known
story, that, during the process of voting, an ignorant burgher came to
Aristides, whose person he did not know, and requested him to write
down the name of Aristides.

“Has he ever injured you?” asked the great man.

“No,” answered the clown, “nor do I know him even by sight; but it
vexes me to hear him everywhere called the ‘Just.’”

Aristides replied not--he wrote his own name on the shell, and
returned it to the enlightened voter.  Such is a tale to which more
importance than is its due has been attached.  Yet perhaps we can give
a new reading to the honest burgher’s reply, and believe that it was
not so expressive of envy at the virtue, as of fear at the reputation.
Aristides received the sentence of exile (B. C. 483) with his
accustomed dignity.  His last words on leaving his native city were
characteristic of his generous and lofty nature.  “May the Athenian
people,” he said, “never know the day which shall force them to
remember Aristides!”--A wish, fortunately alike for the exile and the
people, not realized.  That day, so patriotically deprecated, soon
came, glorious equally to Athens and Aristides, and the reparation of
wrong and the triumph of liberty found a common date.

The singular institution of the ostracism is often cited in proof of
the ingratitude of a republic, and the fickleness of a people; but it
owed its origin not to republican disorders, but to despotic
encroachment--not to a people, but to a tyrant.  If we look throughout
all the Grecian states, we find that a tyranny was usually established
by some able and artful citizen, who, attaching himself either to the
aristocratic, or more frequently to the popular party, was suddenly
elevated into supreme power, with the rise of the faction he had
espoused.  Establishing his fame by popular virtues, he was enabled
often to support his throne by a moral authority--more dangerous than
the odious defence of military hirelings: hence necessarily arose
among the free states a jealousy of individuals, whose eminence became
such as to justify an undue ambition; and hence, for a long period,
while liberty was yet tender and insecure, the (almost) necessity of
the ostracism.

Aristotle, who laments and condemns the practice, yet allows that in
certain states it was absolutely requisite; he thinks the evil it is
intended to prevent “might have been provided for in the earlier
epochs of a commonwealth, by guarding against the rise of one man to a
dangerous degree of power; but where the habits and laws of a nation
are so formed as to render it impossible to prevent the rise, you must
then guard against its consequences:” and in another part of his
Politics he observes, “that even in republics, where men are regarded,
not according to their wealth, but worth--where the citizens love
liberty and have arms and valour to defend it; yet, should the
pre-eminent virtues of one man, or of one family, totally eclipse the
merit of the community at large, you have but two choices--the
ostracism or the throne.”

If we lament the precaution, we ought then to acknowledge the cause.
The ostracism was the creature of the excesses of the tyrannical, and
not of the popular principle.  The bland and specious hypocrisy of
Pisistratus continued to work injury long after his death--and the
ostracism of Aristides was the necessary consequence of the seizure of
the citadel.  Such evil hath arbitrary power, that it produces
injustice in the contrary principles as a counterpart to the injustice
of its own; thus the oppression of our Catholic countrymen for
centuries resulted from the cruelties and persecutions of a papal
ascendency.  We remembered the danger, and we resorted to the rigid
precaution.  To guard against a second tyranny of opinion, we
condemned, nor perhaps without adequate cause, not one individual, but
a whole sect, to a moral ostracism.  Ancient times are not then so
opposite to the present--and the safety of the state may excuse, in a
republic as in a monarchy, a thousand acts of abstract injustice.  But
the banishment of Aristides has peculiar excuses in the critical
circumstances of the time.  The remembrance of Pisistratus was still
fresh--his son had but just perished in an attempt on his country--the
family still lived, and still menaced: the republic was yet in its
infancy--a hostile aristocracy within its walls--a powerful enemy
still formidable without.  It is a remarkable fact, that as the
republic strengthened, and as the popular power increased, the custom
of ostracism was superseded.  The democratic party was never so strong
as at the time in which it was finally abolished.  It is the
insecurity of power, whether in a people or a king, that generates
suspicion.  Habituated to liberty, a people become less rigid and more
enlightened as to its precautions.

V.  It had been a saying of Aristides, “that if the Athenians desired
their affairs to prosper, they ought to fling Themistocles and himself
into the barathrum.”  But fortune was satisfied at this time with a
single victim, and reserved the other for a later sacrifice.  Relieved
from the presence of a rival who had constantly crossed and obstructed
his career, Themistocles found ample scope for his genius.  He was not
one of those who are unequal to the situation it costs them so much to
obtain.  On his entrance into public life he is said by Theophrastus
to have possessed only three talents; but the account is inconsistent
with the extravagance of his earlier career, and still more with the
expenses to which a man who attempts to lead a party is, in all
popular states, unavoidably subjected.  More probably, therefore, it
is said of him by others, that he inherited a competent patrimony, and
he did not scruple to seize upon every occasion to increase it,
whether through the open emolument or the indirect perquisites of
public office.  But, desiring wealth as a means, not an end, he
grasped with one hand to lavish with the other.  His generosity
dazzled and his manners seduced the people, yet he exercised the power
he acquired with a considerate and patriotic foresight.  From the
first retreat of the Persian armament he saw that the danger was
suspended, and not removed.  But the Athenians, who shared a common
Grecian fault, and ever thought too much of immediate, too little of
distant peril, imagined that Marathon had terminated the great contest
between Asia and Europe.  They forgot the fleets of Persia, but they
still dreaded the galleys of Aegina.  The oligarchy of that rival
state was the political enemy of the Athenian demos; the ally of the
Persian was feared by the conqueror, and every interest, military and
commercial, contributed to feed the passionate and jealous hate that
existed against a neighbour, too near to forget, too warlike to
despise.  The thoughtful and profound policy of Themistocles resolved
to work this popular sentiment to ulterior objects; and urging upon a
willing audience the necessity of making suitable preparations against
Aegina, then the mistress of the seas, he proposed to construct a
navy, fitted equally to resist the Persian and to open a new dominion
to the Athenians.

To effect this purpose he called into aid one of the most valuable
sources of her power which nature had bestowed upon Athens.

VI.  Around the country by the ancient Thoricus, on the road from the
modern Kerratia to the Cape of Sunium, heaps of scoriae indicate to
the traveller that he is in the neighbourhood of the once celebrated
silver-mines of Laurion; he passes through pines and woodlands--he
notices the indented tracks of wheels which two thousand years have
not effaced from the soil--he discovers the ancient shafts of the
mines, and pauses before the foundations of a large circular tower and
the extensive remains of the castles which fortified the neighbouring
town [33].  A little farther, and still passing among mine-banks and
hillocks of scoriae, he beholds upon Cape Colonna the fourteen
existent columns of the temple of Minerva Sunias.  In this country, to
which the old name is still attached [34], is to be found a principal
cause of the renown and the reverses of Athens--of the victory of
Salamis--of the expedition to Sicily.

It appears that the silver-mines of Laurion had been worked from a
very remote period--beyond even any traditional date.  But as it is
well and unanswerably remarked, “the scarcity of silver in the time of
Solon proves that no systematic or artificial process of mining could
at that time have been established.” [35]  It was, probably, during
the energetic and politic rule of the dynasty of Pisistratus that
efficient means were adopted to derive adequate advantage from so
fertile a source of national wealth.  And when, subsequently, Athens,
profiting from the lessons of her tyrants, allowed the genius of her
free people to administer the state, fresh necessity was created for
wealth against the hostility of Sparta--fresh impetus given to general
industry and public enterprise.  Accordingly, we find that shortly
after the battle of Marathon, the yearly profits of the mines were
immense.  We learn from the researches of one of those eminent Germans
[36] who have applied so laborious a learning with so subtle an
acuteness to the elucidation of ancient history, that these mines were
always considered the property of the state; shares in them were sold
to individuals as tenants in fee farms, and these proprietors paid,
besides, an annual sum into the public treasury, amounting to the
twenty-fourth part of the produce.  The state, therefore, received a
regular revenue from the mines, derived from the purchase--moneys and
the reserved rents.  This revenue had been hitherto divided among all
the free citizens, and the sum allotted to each was by no means
inconsiderable, when Themistocles, at an early period of his career
(before even the ostracism of Aristides), had the courage to propose
that a fund thus lucrative to every individual should be appropriated
to the national purpose of enlarging the navy.  The feud still carried
on with the Aeginetans was his pretext and excuse.  But we cannot
refuse our admiration to the fervent and generous order of public
spirit existent at that time, when we find that it was a popular
leader who proposed to, and carried through, a popular assembly the
motion, that went to empoverish the men who supported his party and
adjudged his proposition.  Privileged and sectarian bodies never
willingly consent to a surrender of pecuniary benefits for a mere
public end.  But among the vices of a popular assembly, it possesses
the redeeming virtue to be generous.  Upon a grand and unconscious
principle of selfishness, a democracy rarely grudges a sacrifice
endured for the service of the state.

The money thus obtained was devoted to the augmentation of the
maritime force to two hundred triremes--an achievement that probably
exhausted the mine revenue for some years; and the custom once broken,
the produce of Laurion does not seem again to have been wasted upon
individuals.  To maintain and increase the new navy, a decree was
passed, either at that time [37], or somewhat later, which ordained
twenty triremes to be built yearly.

VII.  The construction of these vessels, the very sacrifice of the
citizens, the general interest that must have attached to an
undertaking that was at once novel in itself, and yet congenial not
more to the passions of a people, who daily saw from their own heights
the hostile rock of Aegina, “the eyesore of the Piraeus,” than to the
habits of men placed in a steril land that on three sides tempted to
the sea--all combined to assist Themistocles in his master policy--a
policy which had for its design gradually to convert the Athenians
from an agricultural into a maritime people.  What was imputed to him
as a reproach became his proudest distinction, viz., that “he first
took his countrymen from the spear and shield, and sent them to the
bench and oar.”


The Preparations of Darius.--Revolt of Egypt.--Dispute for the
Succession to the Persian Throne.--Death of Darius.--Brief Review of
the leading Events and Characteristics of his Reign.

I.  While, under the presiding genius of Themistocles, Athens was
silently laying the foundation of her naval greatness, and gradually
increasing in influence and renown, the Persian monarch was not
forgetful of the burning of Sardis and the defeat of Marathon.  The
armies of a despotic power are often slow to collect, and unwieldy to
unite, and Darius wasted three years in despatching emissaries to
various cities, and providing transports, horses, and forage for a new

The vastness of his preparations, though congenial to oriental
warfare, was probably proportioned to objects more great than those
which appear in the Greek historians.  There is no reason, indeed, to
suppose that he cherished the gigantic project afterward entertained
by his son--a project no less than that of adding Europe as a province
to the empire of the East.  But symptoms of that revolt in Egypt which
shortly occurred, may have rendered it advisable to collect an
imposing force upon other pretences; and without being carried away by
any frantic revenge against the remote and petty territory of Athens,
Darius could not but be sensible that the security of his Ionian,
Macedonian, and Thracian conquests, with the homage already rendered
to his sceptre by the isles of Greece, made it necessary to redeem the
disgrace of the Persian arms, and that the more insignificant the foe,
the more fatal, if unpunished, the example of resistance.  The Ionian
coasts--the entrance into Europe--were worth no inconsiderable effort,
and the more distant the provinces to be awed, the more stupendous,
according to all rules of Asiatic despotism, should appear the
resources of the sovereign.  He required an immense armament, not so
much for the sake of crushing the Athenian foe, as of exhibiting in
all its might the angry majesty of the Persian empire.

II.  But while Asia was yet astir with the martial preparations of the
great king, Egypt revolted from his sway, and, at the same time, the
peace of Darius was imbittered, and his mind engaged, by a contest
among his sons for the succession to the crown (B. C. 486).
Artabazanes, the eldest of his family, born to him by his first wife,
previous to his own elevation to the throne, founded his claim upon
the acknowledged rights of primogeniture; but Xerxes, the eldest of a
second family by Atossa, daughter of the great Cyrus, advanced, on the
other hand, a direct descent from the blood of the founder of the
Persian empire.  Atossa, who appears to have inherited something of
her father’s genius, and who, at all events, exercised unbounded
influence over Darius, gave to the claim of her son a stronger support
than that which he could derive from argument or custom.  The intrigue
probably extended from the palace throughout the pure Persian race,
who could not but have looked with veneration upon a descendant of
Cyrus, nor could there have seemed a more popular method of
strengthening whatever was defective in the title of Darius to the
crown, than the transmission of his sceptre to a son, in whose person
were united the rights of the new dynasty and the sanctity of the old.
These reasonings prevailed with Darius, whose duty it was to nominate
his own successor, and Xerxes was declared his heir.  While the
contest was yet undecided, there arrived at the Persian court
Demaratus, the deposed and self-exiled king of Sparta.  He attached
himself to the cause and person of Xerxes, and is even said to have
furnished the young prince with new arguments, founded on the usages
of Sparta--an assertion not to be wholly disregarded, since Demaratus
appeared before the court in the character of a monarch, if in the
destitution of an exile, and his suggestions fell upon the ear of an
arbiter willing to seize every excuse to justify the resolution to
which he had already arrived.

This dispute terminated, Darius in person prepared to march against
the Egyptian rebels, when his death (B. C. 485) consigned to the
inexperienced hands of his heir the command of his armies and the
execution of his designs.

The long reign of Darius, extending over thirty-six years, was
memorable for vast improvements in the administrations of the empire,
nor will it, in this place, be an irrelevant digression to glance
briefly and rapidly back over some of the events and the innovations
by which it was distinguished.

III.  The conquest of Cyrus had transplanted, as the ruling people, to
the Median empire, a race of brave and hardy, but simple and
uncivilized warriors.  Cambyses, of whose character no unequivocal
evidence remains, since the ferocious and frantic crimes ascribed to
him [38] are conveyed to us through the channel of the Egyptian
priests, whom he persecuted, most probably, rather as a political
nobility than a religious caste, could but slightly have improved the
condition of the people, or the administration of the empire, since
his reign lasted but seven years and five months, during which he was
occupied with the invasion of Africa and the subjugation of Egypt.  At
the conclusion of his reign he was menaced by a singular conspiracy.
The Median magi conspired in his absence from the seat of empire to
elevate a Mede to the throne.  Cambyses, under the impulse of jealous
and superstitious fears, had lately put to death Smerdis, his brother.
The secret was kept from the multitude, and known only to a few--among
others, to the magian whom Cambyses had intrusted with the charge of
his palace at Susa, an office as important as confidential.  This man
conceived a scheme of amazing but not unparalleled boldness.  His
brother, a namesake of the murdered prince, resembled the latter also
in age and person.  This brother, the chief of the household, with the
general connivance of his sacerdotal caste, who were naturally anxious
to restore the Median dynasty, suddenly declared to be the true
Smerdis, and the impostor, admitted to possession of the palace,
asserted his claim to the sovereign power.  The consent of the magi--
the indifference of the people--the absence, not only of the king, but
of the flower of the Persian race--and, above all, the tranquil
possession of the imperial palace, conspired to favour the deceit.
[39]  Placed on the Persian throne, but concealing his person from the
eyes of the multitude in the impenetrable pomp of an Oriental
seraglio, the pseudo Smerdis had the audacity to despatch, among the
heralds that proclaimed his accession, a messenger to the Egyptian
army, demanding their allegiance.  The envoy found Cambyses at
Ecbatana in Syria.  Neither cowardice nor sloth was the fault of that
monarch; he sprang upon his horse, determined to march at once to
Susa, when the sheath fell from his sword, and he received a mortal
wound from the naked blade.  Cambyses left no offspring, and the
impostor, believed by the people to be the true son of Cyrus, issued,
from the protecting and august obscurity of his palace, popular
proclamations and beneficent edicts.  Whatever his present fraud,
whatever his previous career, this daring Mede was enabled to make his
reign beloved and respected.  After his death he was regretted by all
but the Persians, who would not have received the virtues of a god as
an excuse for the usurpation of a Mede.  Known to the vast empire only
by his munificence of spirit--by his repeal of tribute and service,
the impostor permitted none to his presence who could have detected
the secret.  He never quitted his palace--the nobles were not invited
to his banquets--the women in his seraglio were separated each from
each--and it was only in profound darkness that the partners of his
pleasures were admitted to his bed.  The imposture is said by
Herodotus to have been first discovered in the following manner:--the
magian, according to the royal custom, had appropriated to himself the
wives of Cambyses; one of these was the daughter of Otanes, a Persian
noble whom the secluded habits of the pretended king filled with
suspicion.  For some offence, the magian had been formerly deprived of
his ears by the order of Cyrus.  Otanes communicated this fact, with
his suspicions, to his daughter, and the next time she was a partaker
of the royal couch, she took the occasion of his sleep to convince
herself that the sovereign of the East was a branded and criminal
impostor.  The suspicions of Otanes verified, he entered, with six
other nobles, into a conspiracy, which mainly owed its success to the
resolution and energy of one among them, named Darius, who appears to
have held a station of but moderate importance among the royal guard,
though son of Hystaspes, governor of the province of Persis, and of
the purest and loftiest blood of Persia.  The conspirators penetrated
the palace unsuspected--put the eunuchs who encountered them to death
--and reached the chamber in which the usurper himself was seated with
his brother.  The impostors, though but imperfectly armed, defended
themselves with valour; two of the conspirators were wounded, but the
swords of the rest sufficed to consummate the work, and Darius himself
gave the death-blow to one of the brothers.

This revolution was accompanied and stained by an indiscriminate
massacre of the magi.  Nor did the Persians, who bore to that Median
tribe the usual hatred which conquerors feel to the wisest and noblest
part of the conquered race, content themselves with a short-lived and
single revenge.  The memory of the imposture and the massacre was long
perpetuated by a solemn festival, called “the slaughter of the Magi,”
 or Magophonia, during which no magian was permitted to be seen abroad.

The result of this conspiracy threw into the hands of the seven nobles
the succession to the Persian throne: the election fell upon Darius,
the soul of the enterprise, and who was of that ancient and princely
house of the Achaemenids, in which the Persians recognised the family
of their ancestral kings.  But the other conspirators had not
struggled solely to exchange one despot for another.  With a new
monarchy arose a new oligarchy.  Otanes was even exempted from
allegiance to the monarch, and his posterity were distinguished by
such exclusive honours and immunities, that Herodotus calls them the
only Persian family which retained its liberty.  The other
conspirators probably made a kind of privileged council, since they
claimed the right of access at all hours, unannounced, to the presence
of the king--a privilege of the utmost value in Eastern forms of
government--and their power was rendered permanent and solid by
certain restrictions on marriage [40], which went to maintain a
constant alliance between the royal family and their own.  While the
six conspirators rose to an oligarchy, the tribe of the Pasargadae--
the noblest of those sections into which the pure Persian family was
divided--became an aristocracy to officer the army and adorn the
court.  But though the great body of the conquered Medes were kept in
subject inferiority, yet the more sternly enforced from the Persian
resentment at the late Median usurpation, Darius prudently conciliated
the most powerful of that great class of his subjects by offices of
dignity and command, and of all the tributary nations, the Medes
ranked next to the Persians.

IV.  With Darius, the Persian monarchy progressed to that great crisis
in the civilization of those states founded by conquering Nomades,
when, after rich possessions are seized, cities built, and settlements
established, the unwieldy and enormous empire is divided into
provinces, and satrap government reflects in every district the
mingled despotism and subservience, pomp and insecurity, of the
imperial court.  Darius undoubtedly took the most efficient means in
his power to cement his sway and organize his resources.  For the
better collection of tribute, twenty provinces were created, governed
by twenty satraps.  Hitherto no specific and regular tax had been
levied, but the Persian kings had been contented with reluctant
presents, or arbitrary extortions.  Darius now imposed a limited and
annual impost, amounting, according to the computation of Herodotus,
to fourteen thousand five hundred and sixty talents, collected
partially from Africa, principally from Asia [41].  The Persians, as
the conquering and privileged race, were excluded from the general
imposition, but paid their moderate contribution under the softer
title of gratuity.  The Colchians fixed their own burdens--the
Ethiopians that bordered Egypt, with the inhabitants of the sacred
town of Nyssa, rendered also tributary gratuities--while Arabia
offered the homage of her frankincense, and India [42] of her gold.
The empire of Darius was the more secure, in that it was contrary to
its constitutional spirit to innovate on the interior organization of
the distant provinces--they enjoyed their own national laws and
institutions--they even retained their monarchs--they resigned nothing
but their independence and their tribute.  The duty of the satraps was
as yet but civil and financial: they were responsible for the imposts,
they executed the royal decrees.  Their institution was outwardly
designed but for the better collection of the revenue; but when from
the ranks of the nobles Darius rose to the throne, he felt the
advantage of creating subject principalities, calculated at once to
remove and to content the more powerful and ambitious of his former
equals.  Save Darius himself, no monarch in the known world possessed
the dominion or enjoyed the splendour accorded to these imperial
viceroys.  Babylon and Assyria fell to one--Media was not sufficient
for another--nation was added to nation, and race to race, to form a
province worthy the nomination of a representative of the great king.
His pomp and state were such as befitted the viceroy over monarchs.  A
measure of silver, exceeding the Attic medimnus, was presented every
day to the satrap of Babylon [43].  Eight hundred stallions and
sixteen thousand mares were apportioned to his stables, and the tax of
four Assyrian towns was to provide for the maintenance of his Indian

But under Darius, at least, these mighty officers were curbed and kept
in awe by the periodical visits of the king himself, or his
commissioners; while a broad road, from the western coast to the
Persian capital--inns, that received the messengers, and couriers,
that transmitted the commands of the king, brought the more distant
provinces within the reach of ready intelligence and vigilant control.
These latter improvements were well calculated to quicken the stagnant
languor habitual to the overgrowth of eastern empire.  Nor was the
reign of Darius undistinguished by the cultivation of the more elegant
arts--since to that period may be referred, if not the foundation, at
least the embellishment and increase of Persepolis.  The remains of
the palace of Chil-Menar, ascribed by modern superstition to the
architecture of genii, its graceful columns, its mighty masonry, its
terrace-flights, its marble basins, its sculptured designs stamped
with the unmistakeable emblems of the magian faith, sufficiently
evince that the shepherd-soldiery of Cyrus had already learned to
appreciate and employ the most elaborate arts of the subjugated Medes.

During this epoch, too, was founded a more regular military system, by
the institution of conscriptions--while the subjection of the skilful
sailors of Phoenicia, and of the great maritime cities of Asiatic
Greece, brought to the Persian warfare the new arm of a numerous and
experienced navy.

V.  The reign of Darius is also remarkable for the influence which
Grecian strangers began to assume in the Persian court--and the fatal
and promiscuous admission of Grecian mercenaries into the Persian
service.  The manners of the Persians were naturally hospitable, and
Darius possessed not only an affable temper, but an inquisitive mind.
A Greek physician of Crotona, who succeeded in relieving the king from
the effects of a painful accident which had baffled the Egyptian
practitioners, esteemed the most skilful the court possessed,
naturally rose into an important personage.  His reputation was
increased by a more difficult cure upon the person of Atossa, the
daughter of Cyrus, who, from the arms of her brother Cambyses, and
those of the magian impostor, passed to the royal marriage-bed.  And
the physician, though desirous only of returning through some pretext
to his own country, perhaps first inflamed the Persian king with the
ill-starred wish of annexing Greece to his dominions.  He despatched a
commission with the physician himself, to report on the affairs of
Greece.  Many Hellenic adventurers were at that time scattered over
the empire, some who had served with Cambyses, others who had sided
with the Egyptians.  Their valour recommended them to a valiant
people, and their singular genius for intrigue took root in every
soil.  Syloson, a Greek of Samos, brother to Polycrates, the tyrant of
that state, who, after a career of unexampled felicity and renown,
fell a victim to the hostile treachery of Oretes, the satrap of
Sardis, induced Darius to send over Otanes at the head of a Persian
force to restore him to the principality of his murdered brother; and
when, subsequently, in his Scythian expedition, Darius was an
eyewitness of the brilliant civilization of Ionia, not only did Greece
become to him more an object of ambition, but the Greeks of his
respect.  He sought, by a munificent and wise clemency, to attach them
to his throne, and to colonize his territories with subjects valuable
alike for their constitutional courage and national intelligence.  Nor
can we wonder at the esteem which a Hippias or a Demaratus found in
the Persian councils, when, in addition to the general reputation of
Greeks, they were invested with the dignity of princely rank--for,
above all nations [44], the Persians most venerated the name and the
attributes of a king; nor could their Oriental notions have accurately
distinguished between a legitimate monarch and a Greek tyrant.

VI.  In this reign, too, as the empire was concentrated, and a
splendid court arose from the warrior camp of Cyrus and Cambyses, the
noble elements of the pure Persian character grew confounded with the
Median and Assyrian.  As the Persians retreated from the manners of a
nomad, they lost the distinction of a conquering people.  Warriors
became courtiers--the palace shrunk into the seraglio--eunuchs and
favourites, queens [45], and above all queen-mothers, rose into
pernicious and invisible influence.  And while the Greeks, in their
small states, and under their free governments, progressed to a
civilization, in which luxury only sharpened new energies and created
new arts, the gorgeous enervation of a despotism destructive to
competition, and an empire too vast for patriotism, rapidly debased
and ruined the old hardy race of Cyrus [46], perhaps equal originally
to the Greeks in mental, and in many important points far superior to
them in moral qualities.  With a religion less animated and
picturesque, but more simple and exalted, rejecting the belief that
the gods partook of a mortal nature, worshipping their GREAT ONE not
in statues or in temples, but upon the sublime altar of lofty
mountain-tops--or through those elementary agents which are the
unidolatrous representatives of his beneficence and power [47];
accustomed, in their primitive and uncorrupted state, to mild laws and
limited authority; inured from childhood to physical discipline and
moral honesty, “to draw the bow and to speak the truth,” this gallant
and splendid tribe were fated to make one of the most signal proofs in
history, that neither the talents of a despot nor the original virtues
of a people can long resist the inevitable effect of vicious political
constitutions.  It was not at Marathon, nor at Salamis, nor at
Plataea, that the Persian glory fell.  It fell when the Persians
imitated the manners of the slaves they conquered.  “Most imitative of
all men,” says Herodotus, “they are ever ready to adopt the manners of
the foreigners.  They take from the Medes their robe, from the
Egyptians their breastplate.”  Happy, if to the robe and the
breastplate they had confined their appropriations from the nations
they despised!  Happy, if they had not imparted to their august
religion the gross adulterations of the Median magi; if they had not
exchanged their mild laws and restricted government, for the most
callous contempt of the value of life [48] and the dignity of freedom.
The whole of the pure Persian race, but especially the nobler tribe of
the Pasargadae, became raised by conquest over so vast a population,
to the natural aristocracy of the land.  But the valuable principle of
aristocratic pride, which is the safest curb to monarchic
encroachment, crumbled away in the atmosphere of a despotism, which
received its capricious checks or awful chastisement only in the dark
recesses of a harem.  Retaining to the last their disdain of all
without the Persian pale; deeming themselves still “the most excellent
of mankind;” [49] this people, the nobility of the East, with the
arrogance of the Spartan, contracting the vices of the Helot, rapidly
decayed from all their national and ancient virtues beneath that
seraglio-rule of janizaries and harlots, in which, from first to last,
have merged the melancholy destinies of Oriental despotism.

VII.  Although Darius seems rather to have possessed the ardour for
conquest than the genius for war, his reign was memorable for many
military triumphs, some cementing, others extending, the foundations
of the empire.  A formidable insurrection of Babylon, which resisted a
siege of twenty-one months, was effectually extinguished, and the new
satrap government, aided by the yearly visits of the king, appears to
have kept from all subsequent reanimation the vast remains of that
ancient empire of the Chaldaean kings.  Subsequently an expedition
along the banks of the Indus, first navigated for discovery by one of
the Greeks whom Darius took into his employ, subjected the highlands
north of the Indus, and gave that distant river as a new boundary to
the Persian realm.  More important, had the fortunes of his son been
equal to his designs, was the alarming settlement which the monarch of
Asia effected on the European continent, by establishing his
sovereignty in Thrace and Macedonia--by exacting homage from the isles
and many of the cities of Greece--by breaking up, with the crowning
fall of Miletus, the independence and rising power of those Ionian
colonies, which ought to have established on the Asiatic coasts the
permanent barrier to the irruptions of eastern conquest.  Against
these successes the loss of six thousand four hundred men at the
battle of Marathon, a less number than Darius deliberately sacrificed
in a stratagem at the siege of Babylon, would have seemed but a petty
counterbalance in the despatches of his generals, set off, as it was,
by the spoils and the captives of Euboea.  Nor were the settlements in
Thrace and Macedon, with the awe that his vast armament excited
throughout that portion of his dominions, an insufficient recompense
for the disasters of the expedition, conducted by Darius in person,
against the wandering, fierce, and barbarous Mongolian race, that,
known to us by the name of Scythians, worshipped their war-god under
the symbol of a cimeter, with libations of human blood--hideous
inhabitants of the inhospitable and barren tracts that interpose
between the Danube and the Don.

VIII.  Thus the heritage that passed from Darius to Xerxes was the
fruit of a long and, upon the whole, a wise and glorious reign.  The
new sovereign of the East did not, like his father, find a disjointed
and uncemented empire of countries rather conquered than subdued,
destitute alike of regular revenues and local governments; a wandering
camp, shifted to and fro in a wilderness of unconnected nations--
Xerxes ascended the throne amid a splendid court, with Babylon,
Ecbatana, Persepolis, and Susa for his palaces.  Submissive satraps
united the most distant provinces with the seat of empire.  The wealth
of Asia was borne in regular currents to his treasury.  Save the
revolt of the enfeebled Egyptians, and the despised victory of a
handful of men upon a petty foreland of the remote Aegaean, no cloud
rested upon the dawn of his reign.  As yet unfelt and unforeseen were
the dangers that might ultimately result from the very wisdom of
Darius in the institution of satraps, who, if not sufficiently
supported by military force, would be unable to control the motley
nations over which they presided, and, if so supported, might
themselves become, in any hour, the most formidable rebels.  To
whatever prestige he inherited from the fame of his father, the young
king added, also, a more venerable and sacred dignity in the eyes of
the Persian aristocracy, and, perhaps, throughout the whole empire,
derived, on his mother’s side, from the blood of Cyrus.  Never, to all
external appearance, and, to ordinary foresight, under fairer
auspices, did a prince of the East pass from the luxury of a seraglio
to the majesty of a throne.


Xerxes Conducts an Expedition into Egypt.--He finally resolves on the
Invasion of Greece.--Vast Preparations for the Conquest of Europe.--
Xerxes Arrives at Sardis.--Despatches Envoys to the Greek States,
demanding Tribute.--The Bridge of the Hellespont.--Review of the
Persian Armament at Abydos.--Xerxes Encamps at Therme.

I.  On succeeding to the throne of the East (B. C. 485), Xerxes found
the mighty army collected by his father prepared to execute his
designs of conquest or revenge.  In the greatness of that army, in the
youth of that prince, various parties beheld the instrument of
interest or ambition.  Mardonius, warlike and enterprising, desired
the subjugation of Greece, and the command of the Persian forces.  And
to the nobles of the Pasargadae an expedition into Europe could not
but present a dazzling prospect of spoil and power--of satrapies as
yet unexhausted of treasure--of garrisons and troops remote from the
eye of the monarch, and the domination of the capital.

The persons who had most influence over Xerxes were his uncle
Artabanus, his cousin Mardonius, and a eunuch named Natacas [50].  The
intrigues of the party favourable to the invasion of Europe were
backed by the representations of the Grecian exiles.  The family and
partisans of the Pisistratidae had fixed themselves in Susa, and the
Greek subtlety and spirit of enterprise maintained and confirmed, for
that unprincipled and able faction, the credit they had already
established at the Persian court.  Onomacritus, an Athenian priest,
formerly banished by Hipparchus for forging oracular predictions, was
now reconciled to the Pisistratidae, and resident at Susa.  Presented
to the king as a soothsayer and prophet, he inflamed the ambition of
Xerxes by garbled oracles of conquest and fortune, which, this time,
it was not the interest of the Pisistratidae to expose.

About the same period the Aleuadae, those princes of Thessaly whose
policy seems ever to have been that of deadly hostility to the Grecian
republics, despatched ambassadors to Xerxes, inviting him to Greece,
and promising assistance to his arms, and allegiance to his sceptre.

II.  From these intrigues Xerxes aroused himself in the second year of
his reign, and, as the necessary commencement of more extended
designs, conducted in person an expedition against the rebellious
Egyptians.  That people had neither military skill nor constitutional
hardihood, but they were inspired with the most devoted affection for
their faith and their institutions.  This affection was to them what
the love of liberty is in others--it might be easy to conquer them, it
was almost impossible to subdue.  By a kind of fatality their history,
for centuries, was interwoven with that of Greece: their perils and
their enemies the same.  The ancient connexion which apocryphal
tradition recorded between races so opposite, seemed a typical
prophecy of that which actually existed in the historical times.  And
if formerly Greece had derived something of civilization from Egypt,
she now paid back the gift by the swords of her adventurers; and the
bravest and most loyal part of the Egyptian army was composed of
Grecian mercenaries.  At the same time Egypt shared the fate of all
nations that intrust too great a power to auxiliaries.  Greeks
defended her, but Greeks conspired against her.  The adventurers from
whom she derived a fatal strength were of a vain, wily, and irritable
temperament.  A Greek removed from the influence of Greece usually
lost all that was honest, all that was noble in the national
character; and with the most refining intellect, he united a policy
like that of the Italian in the middle ages, fierce, faithless, and
depraved.  Thus, while the Greek auxiliaries under Amasis, or rather
Psammenitus, resisted to the last the arms of Cambyses, it was by a
Greek (Phanes) that Egypt had been betrayed.  Perhaps, could we
thoroughly learn all the secret springs of the revolt of Egypt, and
the expedition of Xerxes, we might find a coincidence not of dates
alone between Grecian and Egyptian affairs.  Whether in Memphis or in
Susa, it is wonderful to see the amazing influence and ascendency
which the Hellenic intellect obtained.  It was in reality the
desperate refuse of Europe that swayed the councils, moved the armies,
and decided the fate of the mighty dynasties of the East.

III.  The arms of Xerxes were triumphant in Egypt (B. C. 484), and he
more rigorously enforced upon that ill-fated land the iron despotism
commenced by Cambyses.  Intrusting the Egyptian government to his
brother Achaemenes, the Persian king returned to Susa, and flushed
with his victory, and more and more influenced by the ambitious
counsels of Mardonius, he now fairly opened, in the full divan of his
counsellors, the vast project he had conceived.  The vanity of the
Greeks led them too credulously to suppose that the invasion of Greece
was the principal object of the great king; on the contrary, it was
the least.  He regarded Greece but as the threshold of a new quarter
of the globe.  Ignorant of the nature of the lands he designed to
subject, and credulous of all the fables which impart proverbial
magnificence to the unknown, Xerxes saw in Europe “regions not
inferior to Asia in extent, and far surpassing it in fertility.”
 After the conquest of Greece on either continent, the young monarch
unfolded to his counsellors his intention of overrunning the whole of
Europe, “until heaven itself should be the only limit to the Persian
realm, and the sun should shine on no country contiguous to his own.”

IV.  These schemes, supported by Mardonius, were opposed only by
Artabanus; and the arguments of the latter, dictated by prudence and
experience, made considerable impression upon the king.  From that
time, however, new engines of superstitious craft and imposture were
brought to bear upon the weak mind, on whose decision now rested the
fatal war between Asia and Europe.  Visions and warnings, threats and
exhortations, haunted his pillow and disturbed his sleep, all tending
to one object, the invasion of Greece.  As we learn from Ctesias that
the eunuch Natacas was one of the parasites most influential with
Xerxes, it is probable that so important a personage in the intrigues
of a palace was, with the evident connivance of the magi, the
instrument of Mardonius.  And, indeed, from this period the politics
of Persia became more and more concentrated in the dark plots of the
seraglio.  Thus superstition, flattery, ambition, all operating upon
him, the irresolution of Xerxes vanished.  Artabanus himself affected
to be convinced of the expediency of the war; and the only object now
remaining to the king and his counsellors was to adapt the
preparations to the magnitude of the enterprise.  Four additional
years were not deemed an idle delay in collecting an army and fleet
destined to complete the conquest of the world.

“And never,” says Herodotus, “was there a military expedition
comparable to this.  Hard would it be to specify one nation of Asia
which did not accompany the Persian king, or any waters, save the
great rivers, which were not exhausted by his armament.”  Preparations
for an expedition of three years were made, to guard against the
calamities formerly sustained by the Persian fleet.  Had the success
of the expedition been commensurate with the grandeur of its
commencement, perhaps it would have ranked among the sublimest
conceptions of military genius.  All its schemes were of a vast and
gigantic nature.  Across the isthmus, which joins the promontory of
Athos to the Thracian continent, a canal was formed--a work of so
enormous a labour, that it seems almost to have justified the
skepticism of later writers [52], but for the concurrent testimony of
Thucydides and Lysias, Plato, Herodotus, and Strabo.

Bridges were also thrown over the river Strymon; the care of
provisions was intrusted to the Egyptians and Phoenicians, and stores
were deposited in every station that seemed the best adapted for

V.  While these preparations were carried on, the great king, at the
head of his land-forces, marched to Sardis.  Passing the river Halys,
and the frontiers of Lydia, he halted at Celaenae.  Here he was
magnificently entertained by Pythius, a Lydian, esteemed, next to the
king himself, the richest of mankind.  This wealthy subject proffered
to the young prince, in prosecution of the war, the whole of his
treasure, amounting to two thousand talents of silver, and four
millions, wanting only seven thousand, of golden staters of Darius
[53]. “My farms and my slaves,” he added, “will be sufficient to
maintain me.”

“My friend,” said the royal guest, who possessed all the irregular
generosity of princes, “you are the first person, since I left Persia
(B. C. 480), who has treated my army with hospitality and voluntarily
offered me assistance in the war.  Accept my friendship; I receive you
as my host; retain your possessions, and permit me to supply the seven
thousand staters which are wanting to complete the four millions you
already possess.”  A man who gives from the property of the public is
seldom outdone in munificence.

At length Xerxes arrived at Sardis, and thence he despatched heralds
into Greece (close of B. C. 481), demanding the tribute of earth and
water.  Athens and Sparta were the only cities not visited by his

VI.  While Xerxes rested at the Lydian city, an enterprise, scarcely
less magnificent in conception than that of the canal at Athos, was
completed at the sacred passage of the Hellespont.  Here was
constructed from the coast of Asia to that of Europe a bridge of
boats, for the convoy of the army.  Scarce was this completed when a
sudden tempest scattered the vessels, and rendered the labour vain.
The unruly passion of the high-spirited despot was popularly said to
have evinced itself at this intelligence, by commanding the Hellespont
to receive three hundred lashes and a pair of fetters--a story
recorded as a certainty by Herodotus, and more properly contemned as a
fable by modern skepticism.

A new bridge was now constructed under new artificers, whose industry
was sharpened by the fate of their unfortunate predecessors, whom
Xerxes condemned to death.  These architects completed at last two
bridges of vessels, of various kinds and sizes, secured by anchors of
great length, and thus protected from the influence of the winds that
set in from the Euxine on the one hand, and the south and southeast
winds on the other.  The elaborate description of this work given by
Herodotus proves it to have been no clumsy or unartist-like
performance.  The ships do not appear so much to have formed the
bridge, as to have served for piers to support its weight.  Rafters of
wood, rough timber, and layers of earth were placed across extended
cables, and the whole was completed by a fence on either side, that
the horses and beasts of burden might not be frightened by the sight
of the open sea.

VII.  And now the work was finished (B. C. 480), the winter was past,
and at the dawn of returning spring, Xerxes led his armament from
Sardis to Abydos.  As the multitude commenced their march, it is said
that the sun was suddenly overcast, and an abrupt and utter darkness
crept over the face of heaven.  The magi were solemnly consulted at
the omen; and they foretold, that by the retirement of the sun, the
tutelary divinity of the Greeks, was denoted the withdrawal of the
protection of Heaven from that fated nation.  The answer pleased the

On they swept--the conveyance of the baggage, and a vast promiscuous
crowd of all nations, preceding; behind, at a considerable interval,
came the flower of the Persian army--a thousand horse--a thousand
spearmen--the ten sacred steeds, called Nisaean--the car of the great
Persian god, drawn by eight snow-white horses, and in which no mortal
ever dared to seat himself.  Around the person of Xerxes were spearmen
and cavalry, whose arms glittered with gold--the ten thousand infantry
called “The Immortals,” of whom nine thousand bore pomegranates of
silver at the extremity of their lances, and one thousand pomegranates
of gold.  Ten thousand horsemen followed these: and far in the rear,
the gorgeous procession closed with the mighty multitude of the
general army.

The troops marched along the banks of the Caicus--over the plains of
Thebes;--and passing Mount Ida to the left, above whose hoary crest
broke a storm of thunder and lightning, they arrived at the golden
Scamander, whose waters failed the invading thousands.  Here it is
poetically told of Xerxes, that he ascended the citadel of Priam, and
anxiously and carefully surveyed the place, while the magi of the
barbarian monarch directed libations to the manes of the Homeric

VIII.  Arrived at Abydos, the king reviewed his army.  High upon an
eminence, and on a seat of white marble, he surveyed the plains
covered with countless thousands, and the Hellespont crowded with
sails and masts.  At first, as he gazed, the lord of Persia felt all
the pride and exultation which the command over so many destinies was
calculated to inspire.  But a sad and sudden thought came over him in
the midst of his triumphs, and he burst into tears.  “I reflect,” said
he to Artabanus, “on the transitory limit of human life.  I
compassionate this vast multitude--a hundred years hence, which of
them will still be a living man?”  Artabanus replied like a
philosopher, “that the shortness of life was not its greatest evil;
that misfortune and disease imbittered the possession, and that death
was often the happiest refuge of the living.” [54]

At early daybreak, while the army yet waited the rising of the sun,
they burnt perfumes on the bridge, and strewed it with branches of the
triumphal myrtle.  As the sun lifted himself above the east, Xerxes
poured a libation into the sea, and addressing the rising orb,
implored prosperity to the Persian arms, until they should have
vanquished the whole of Europe, even to the remotest ends.  Then
casting the cup, with a Persian cimeter, into the sea, the signal was
given for the army to commence the march.  Seven days and seven nights
were consumed in the passage of that prodigious armament.

IX.  Thus entering Europe, Xerxes proceeded to Doriscus (a wide plain
of Thrace, commanded by a Persian garrison), where he drew up, and
regularly numbered his troops; the fleets ranged in order along the
neighbouring coast.  The whole amount of the land-force, according to
Herodotus, was 1,700,000.  Later writers have been skeptical as to
this vast number, but without sufficient grounds for their disbelief.
There were to be found the soldiery of many nations:--the Persians in
tunics and scale breastplates, the tiara helmet of the Medes, the
arrows, and the large bow which was their natural boast and weapon;
there were the Medes similarly equipped; and the Assyrians, with
barbarous helmets, linen cuirasses, and huge clubs tipped with iron;
the Bactrians with bows of reeds, and the Scythian Sacae, with their
hatchets and painted crests.  There, too, were the light-clothed
Indians, the Parthians, Chorasmians, Sogdians, Gandarians, and the
Dadicae.  There were the Caspians, clad in tough hides, with bows and
cimeters; the gorgeous tunics of the Sarangae, and the loose flowing
vests (or zirae) of the Arabians.  There were seen the negroes of
Aethiopian Nubia with palm bows four cubits long, arrows pointed with
flint, and vestures won from the leopard and the lion; a barbarous
horde, who, after the wont of savages, died their bodies with gypsum
and vermilion when they went to war; while the straight-haired Asiatic
Aethiopians wore the same armour as the Indians whom they bordered.
save that their helmets were formed of the skin of the horse’s head
[55], on which the mane was left in the place of plumage.  The Libyans
were among the horde, and the buskined Paphlagonians, with helms of
network; and the Cappadocian Syrians; and the Phrygians; and the
Armenians; the Lydians, equipped similarly to the Greeks; the
Strymonian Thracians, clad in tunics, below which were flowing robes
like the Arabian zirae or tartan, but of various colours, and buskins
of the skins of fawns--armed with the javelin and the dagger; the
Thracians, too, of Asia, with helmets of brass wrought with the ears
and horns of an ox; the people from the islands of the Red Sea, armed
and people like Medes; the Mares, and the Colchians, and the Moschi,
and other tribes, tedious to enumerate, swelled and diversified the
force of Xerxes.

Such were the infantry of the Persian army, forgetting not the ten
thousand chosen Persians, called the Immortal Band [56], whose armour
shone with profuse gold, and who were distinguished even in war by
luxury--carriages for their women, troops of attendants, and camels
and beasts of burden.

Besides these were the Persian cavalry; the nomad Sagartii, who
carried with them nooses, in which they sought to entangle their foe;
the Medes and the Indian horse, which last had also chariots of war
drawn by steeds or wild asses; the Bactrians and Caspians, equipped
alike; the Africans, who fought from chariots; the Paricanians; and
the Arabians with their swift dromedaries, completed the forces of the
cavalry, which amounted to eighty thousand, exclusive even of chariots
and the camels.

Nor was the naval unworthy of the land armada.  The number of the
triremes was one thousand two hundred and seven.  Of these the
Phoenicians and the Syrians of Palestine furnished three hundred, the
serving-men with breastplates of linen, javelins, bucklers without
bosses, and helmets fashioned nearly similarly to those of the Greeks;
two hundred vessels were supplied by the Egyptians, armed with huge
battle-axes, and casques of network; one hundred and fifty vessels
came from Cyprus, and one hundred from Cilicia; those who manned the
first differing in arms from the Greeks only in the adoption of the
tunic, and the Median mitres worn by the chiefs--those who manned the
last, with two spears, and tunics of wool.  The Pamphylians, clad as
the Greeks, contributed thirty vessels, and fifty also were manned by
Lycians with mantles of goat-skin and unfeathered arrows of reed.  In
thirty vessels came the Dorians of Asia; in seventy the Carians, and
in a hundred, the subjugated Ionians.  The Grecian Isles between the
Cyaneae, and the promontories of Triopium and Sunium [57], furnished
seventeen vessels, and the Aeolians sixty.  The inhabitants of the
Hellespont (those of Abydos alone excepted, who remained to defend the
bridges) combined with the people of Pontus to supply a hundred more.
In each vessel were detachments of Medes, Persians, and Saci; the best
mariners were the Phoenicians, especially those of Sidon.  The
commanders-in-chief of the sea-forces were Ariabignes (son of Darius),
Prexaspes, Megabazus (son of Megabates), and Achaemenes (brother of
Xerxes, and satrap of Egypt).

Of the infantry, the generals were Mardonius, Tritantaechmes, son of
Artabanus, and Smerdones (cousin to Xerxes), Maistes (his brother),
Gergis, and Megabazus, son of that celebrated Zopyrus, through whom
Darius possessed himself of Babylon. [58]

Harmamithres and Tithaeus, who were Medes, commanded the cavalry; a
third leader, Pharnouches, died in consequence of a fall from his
horse.  But the name of a heroine, more masculine than her colleagues,
must not be omitted: Artemisia, widow to one of the Carian kings,
furnished five ships (the best in the fleet next to those of Sidon),
which she commanded in person, celebrated alike for a dauntless
courage and a singular wisdom.

X.  Such were the forces which the great king reviewed, passing
through the land-forces in his chariot, and through the fleet in a
Sidonian vessel, beneath a golden canopy.  After his survey, the king
summoned Demaratus to his presence.

“Think you,” said he, “that the Greeks will presume to resist me?”

“Sire,” answered the Spartan, “your proposition of servitude will be
rejected by the Greeks; and even if the rest of them sided with you,
Lacedaemon still would give you battle; question not in what numbers;
had Sparta but a thousand men she would oppose you.”

Marching onward, and forcibly enlisting, by the way, various tribes
through which he passed, exhausting many streams, and empoverishing
the population condemned to entertain his army, Xerxes arrived at
Acanthus: there he dismissed the commanders of his fleet, ordering
them to wait his orders at Therme, a small town which gave its name to
the Thermean Gulf (to which they proceeded, pressing ships and seamen
by the way), and afterward, gaining Therme himself, encamped his army
on the coast, spreading far and wide its multitudinous array from
Therme and Mygdonia to the rivers Lydias and Haliacmon.


The Conduct of the Greeks.--The Oracle relating to Salamis.--Art of
Themistocles.--The Isthmian Congress.--Embassies to Argos, Crete,
Corcyra, and Syracuse.--Their ill Success.--The Thessalians send
Envoys to the Isthmus.--The Greeks advance to Tempe, but retreat.--The
Fleet despatched to Artemisium, and the Pass of Thermopylae occupied.
--Numbers of the Grecian Fleet.--Battle of Thermopylae.

I.  The first preparations of the Persians did not produce the effect
which might have been anticipated in the Grecian states.  Far from
uniting against the common foe, they still cherished a frivolous and
unreasonable jealousy of each other.  Several readily sent the symbols
of their allegiance to the Persian, including the whole of Boeotia,
except only the Thespians and Plataeans.  The more timorous states
imagined themselves safe from the vengeance of the barbarian; the more
resolute were overwhelmed with dismay.  The renown of the Median arms
was universally acknowledged for in spite of Marathon, Greece had not
yet learned to despise the foreigner; and the enormous force of the
impending armament was accurately known from the spies and deserters
of the Grecian states, who abounded in the barbarian camp.  Even
united, the whole navy of Greece seemed insufficient to contend
against such a foe; and, divided among themselves, several of the
states were disposed rather to succumb than to resist [59].  “And
here,” says the father of history, “I feel compelled to assert an
opinion, however invidious it may be to many.  If the Athenians,
terrified by the danger, had forsaken their country, or submitted to
the Persian, Xerxes would have met with no resistance by sea.  The
Lacedaemonians, deserted by their allies, would have died with honour
or yielded from necessity, and all Greece have been reduced to the
Persian yoke.  The Athenians were thus the deliverers of Greece.  They
animated the ardour of those states yet faithful to themselves; and,
next to the gods, they were the true repellers of the invader.  Even
the Delphic oracles, dark and ominous as they were, did not shake
their purpose, nor induce them to abandon Greece.”  When even the
deities themselves seemed doubtful, Athens was unshaken.  The
messengers despatched by the Athenians to the Delphic oracle received
indeed an answer well calculated to appal them.

“Unhappy men,” cried the priestess, “leave your houses and the
ramparts of the city, and fly to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Fire and keen Mars, compelling the Syrian chariot, shall destroy,
towers shall be overthrown, and temples destroyed by fire.  Lo! now,
even now, they stand dropping sweat, and their house-tops black with
blood, and shaking with prophetic awe.  Depart and prepare for ill!”

II.  Cast into the deepest affliction by this response, the Athenians
yet, with the garb and symbols of suppliants, renewed their
application.  “Answer us,” they said, “oh supreme God, answer us more
propitiously, or we will not depart from your sanctuary, but remain
here even until death.”

The second answer seemed less severe than the first: “Minerva is
unable to appease the Olympian Jupiter.  Again, therefore, I speak,
and my words are as adamant.  All else within the bounds of Cecropia
and the bosom of the divine Cithaeron shall fall and fail you.  The
wooden wall alone Jupiter grants to Pallas, a refuge to your children
and yourselves.  Wait not for horse and foot--tarry not the march of
the mighty army--retreat, even though they close upon you.  Oh Salamis
the divine, thou shalt lose the sons of women, whether Ceres scatter
or hoard her harvest!”

III.  Writing down this reply, the messengers returned to Athens.
Many and contradictory were the attempts made to interpret the
response; some believed that by a wooden wall was meant the citadel,
formerly surrounded by a palisade of wood.  Others affirmed that the
enigmatical expression signified the fleet.  But then the concluding
words perplexed them.  For the apostrophe to Salamis appeared to
denote destruction and defeat.  At this juncture Themistocles approved
himself worthy of the position he had attained.  It is probable that
he had purchased the oracle to which he found a ready and bold
solution.  He upheld the resort to the ships, but denied that in the
apostrophe to Salamis any evil to Athens was denounced.  “Had,” said
he, “the prediction of loss and slaughter referred to the Athenians,
would Salamis have been called ‘divine?’ would it not have been rather
called the ‘wretched’ if the Greeks were doomed to perish near that
isle?  The oracle threatens not the Athenians, but the enemy.  Let us
prepare then to engage the barbarian by sea.  Our ships are our wooden

This interpretation, as it was the more encouraging, so it was the
more approved.  The vessels already built from the revenues of the
mines of Laurion were now destined to the safety of Greece.

IV.  It was, however, before the arrival of the Persian envoys [60],
and when the Greeks first woke to the certainty, that the vast
preparations of Xerxes menaced Greece as the earliest victim, that a
congress, perhaps at the onset confined to the Peloponnesian states,
met at Corinth.  At the head of this confederate council necessarily
ranked Sparta, which was the master state of the Peloponnesus.  But in
policy and debate, if not in arms, she appears always to have met with
a powerful rival in Corinth, the diplomacy of whose wealthy and
liberal commonwealth often counteracted the propositions of the
Spartan delegates.  To this congress subsequently came the envoys of
all the states that refused tribute and homage to the Persian king.
The institution of this Hellenic council, which was one cause of the
salvation of Greece, is a proof of the political impotence of the old
Amphictyonic league.  The Synedrion of Corinth (or rather of that
Corinthian village that had grown up round the temple of Neptune, and
is styled the ISTHMUS by the Greek writers) was the true historical
Amphictyony of Hellas.

In the Isthmian congress the genius of Themistocles found an ampler
sphere than it had hitherto done among the noisy cabals of Athens.  Of
all the Greek delegates, that sagacious statesman was most successful
in accomplishing the primary object of the confederacy, viz., in
removing the jealousies and the dissensions that hitherto existed
among the states which composed it.  In this, perhaps the most
difficult, as the most essential, task, Themistocles was aided by a
Tegean, named Chileus, who, though he rarely appears upon the external
stage of action, seems to have been eminently skilled in the intricate
and entangled politics of the time.  Themistocles, into whose hands
the Athenian republic, at this period, confided the trust not more of
its interests than its resentments, set the example of concord; and
Athens, for a while, consented to reconciliation and amity with the
hated Aegina.  All the proceedings of this illustrious congress were
characterized by vigilant prudence and decisive energy.  As soon as
Xerxes arrived in Sardis, emissaries were despatched to watch the
movements of the Persian army, and at the same period, or rather some
time before [61], ambassadors were sent to Corcyra, Crete, Argos, and
to Syracuse, then under the dominion of Gelo.  This man, from the
station of a high-born and powerful citizen of Gela, in Sicily, had
raised himself, partly by military talents, principally by a profound
and dissimulating policy, to the tyranny of Gela and of Syracuse.  His
abilities were remarkable, his power great; nor on the Grecian
continent was there one state that could command the force and the
resources that were at the disposal of the Syracusan prince.

The spies despatched to Sardis were discovered, seized, and would have
been put to death, but for the interference of Xerxes, who dismissed
them, after directing them to be led round his army, in the hope that
their return from the terror of such a spectacle would, more than
their death, intimidate and appal their countrymen.

The mission to Argos, which, as a Peloponnesian city, was one of the
earliest applied to, was unsuccessful.  That state still suffered the
exhaustion which followed the horrible massacre perpetrated by
Cleomenes, the Spartan king, who had burnt six thousand Argives in the
precincts of the sanctuary to which they had fled.  New changes of
government had followed this fatal loss, and the servile population
had been enabled to seize the privileges of the free.  Thus, hatred to
Sparta, a weakened soldiery, an unsettled internal government, all
conspired to render Argos lukewarm to the general cause.  Yet that
state did not openly refuse the aid which it secretly resolved to
withhold.  It consented to join the common league upon two conditions;
an equal share with the Spartans in the command, and a truce of thirty
years with those crafty and merciless neighbours.  The Spartans
proposed to compromise the former condition, by allowing to the Argive
king not indeed half the command, but a voice equal to that of each of
their own kings.  To the latter condition they offered no objection.
Glad of an excuse to retaliate on the Spartans their own haughty
insolence, the Argives at once rejected the proposition, and ordered
the Spartan ambassador to quit their territories before sunset.  But
Argos, though the chief city of Argolis, had not her customary
influence over the other towns of that district, in which the
attachment to Greece was stronger than the jealous apprehensions of

The embassy to Sicily was not more successful than that to Argos.
Gelo agreed indeed to furnish the allies with a considerable force,
but only on the condition of obtaining for Sicily the supreme command,
either of the land-force claimed by Sparta, or of the naval force to
which Athens already ventured to pretend; an offer to which it was
impossible that the Greeks should accede, unless they were disposed to
surrender to the craft of an auxiliary the liberties they asserted
against the violence of a foe.  The Spartan and the Athenian
ambassadors alike, and with equal indignation, rejected the proposals
of Gelo, who, in fact, had obtained the tyranny of his native city by
first securing the command of the Gelan cavalry.  The prince of
Syracuse was little affected by the vehement scorn of the ambassadors.
“I see you are in more want of troops than commanders,” said he,
wittily.  “Return, then; tell the Greeks this year will be without its
spring.”  For, as the spring to the year did Gelo consider his
assistance to Greece.  From Sicily the ambassadors repaired to
Corcyra.  Here they were amused with flattering promises, but the
governors of that intriguing and factious state fitted out a fleet of
sixty vessels, stationed near Pylos, off the coast of Sparta, to wait
the issue of events assuring Xerxes, on the one hand, of their
indisposition to oppose him, and pretending afterward to the Greeks,
on the other, that the adverse winds alone prevented their taking
share in the engagement at Salamis.  The Cretans were not more
disposed to the cause than the Corcyraeans; they found an excuse in an
oracle of Delphi, and indeed that venerable shrine appears to have
been equally dissuasive of resistance to all the states that consulted
it; although the daring of the Athenians had construed the ambiguous
menace into a favourable omen.  The threats of superstition become but
incitements to courage when interpreted by the brave.

V.  And now the hostile army had crossed the Hellespont, and the
Thessalians, perceiving that they were the next objects of attack,
despatched ambassadors to the congress at the Isthmus.

Those Thessalian chiefs called the Aleuadae had, it is true, invited
Xerxes to the invasion of Greece.  But precisely because acceptable to
the chiefs, the arrival of the great king was dreaded by the people.
By the aid of the Persians, the Aleuadae trusted to extend their power
over their own country--an ambition with which it is not to be
supposed that the people they assisted to subject would sympathize.
Accordingly, while Xerxes was to the chiefs an ally, to the people he
remained a foe.

These Thessalian envoys proclaimed their willingness to assist the
confederates in the defence of their fatherland, but represented the
imminence of the danger to Thessaly, and demanded an immediate supply
of forces.  “Without this,” they said, “we cannot exert ourselves for
you, and our inability to assist you will be our excuse, if we provide
for our own safety.”

Aroused by these exhortations, the confederates commenced their
military movements.  A body of infantry passed the Euripus, entered
Thessaly, and encamped amid the delights of the vale of Tempe.  Here
their numbers, in all ten thousand heavy-armed troops, were joined by
the Thessalian horse.  The Spartans were led by Euaenetus.
Themistocles commanded the Athenians.  The army did not long, however,
remain in the encampment.  Alexander, the king of Macedon, sent
confidentially advising their retreat, and explaining accurately the
force of the enemy.  This advice concurred with the discovery that
there was another passage into Thessaly through the higher regions of
Macedonia, which exposed them to be taken in the rear.  And, in truth,
it was through this passage that the Persian army ultimately marched.
The Greeks, therefore, broke up the camp and returned to the Isthmus.
The Thessalians, thus abandoned, instantly treated with the invader,
and became among the stanchest allies of Xerxes.

It was now finally agreed in the Isthmian congress, that the most
advisable plan would be to defend the pass of Thermopylae, as being
both nearer and narrower than that of Thessaly.  The fleet they
resolved to send to Artemisium, on the coast of Histiaeotis, a place
sufficiently neighbouring Thermopylae to allow of easy communication.
Never, perhaps, have the Greeks shown more military skill than in the
choice of these stations.  But one pass in those mountainous districts
permitted the descent of the Persian army from Thessaly, bounded to
the west by steep and inaccessible cliffs, extending as far as Mount
Oeta; to the east by shoals and the neighbouring sea.  This defile
received its name Thermopylae, or Hot Gates, from the hot-springs
which rose near the base of the mountain.  In remote times the
pastoral Phocians had fortified the place against the incursions of
the Thessalians, and the decayed remains of the wall and gates of
their ancient garrison were still existent in the middle of the pass;
while, by marsh and morass, to render the place yet more impassable,
they had suffered the hot-springs to empty themselves along the plain,
on the Thessalian side, and the quagmire was still sodden and
unsteady.  The country on either side the Thermopylae was so
contracted, that before, near the river Phoenix, and behind, near the
village of Alpeni, was at that time space only for a single chariot.
In such a pass the numbers and the cavalry of the Mede were rendered
unavailable; while at the distance of about fifteen miles from
Thermopylae the ships of the Grecian navy rode in the narrow sea, off
the projecting shores of Euboea, equally fortunate in a station which
weakened the force of numbers and allowed the facility of retreat.

The sea-station was possessed by the allied ships.  Corinth sent
forty; Megara twenty; Aegina eighteen; Sicyon twelve; Sparta ten; the
Epidaurians contributed eight; the Eretrians seven; the Troezenians
five; the Ityraeans and the people of Ceos each two, and the Opuntian
Locrians seven vessels of fifty oars.  The total of these ships
(without reckoning those of fifty oars, supplied by the Locrians, and
two barks of the same description, which added to the quota sent by
the people of Ceos) amount to one hundred and twenty-four.  The
Athenian force alone numbered more vessels than all the other
confederates, and contributed one hundred and twenty-seven triremes,
partly manned by Plataeans, besides twenty vessels lent to the
Chalcidians, who equipped and manned them.  The Athenian fleet was
commanded by Themistocles.  The land-force at Thermopylae consisted
chiefly of Peloponnesians; its numbers were as follows:--three hundred
heavy-armed Spartans; five hundred Tegeans; five hundred Mantinaeans;
one hundred and twenty Orchomenians; one thousand from the other
states of Arcady; two hundred from Phlius; eighty from Mycenae.
Boeotia contributed seven hundred Thespians, and four hundred Thebans;
the last had been specially selected by Leonidas, the Spartan chief,
because of the general suspicion that the Thebans were attached to the
Medes, and he desired, therefore, to approve them as friends, or know
them as foes.  Although the sentiments of the Thebans were hostile,
says Herodotus, they sent the assistance required.  In addition to
these, were one thousand Phocians, and a band of the Opuntian
Locrians, unnumbered by Herodotus, but variously estimated, by
Diodorus at one thousand, and, more probably, by Pausanias at no less
than seven thousand.

The chief command was intrusted, according to the claims of Sparta, to
Leonidas, the younger brother of the frantic Cleomenes [62], by a
different mother, and his successor to the Spartan throne.

There are men whose whole life is in a single action.  Of these,
Leonidas is the most eminent.  We know little of him, until the last
few days of his career.  He seems, as it were, born but to show how
much glory belongs to a brave death.  Of his character or genius, his
general virtues and vices, his sorrows and his joys, biography can
scarcely gather even the materials for conjecture.  He passed from an
obscure existence into an everlasting name.  And history dedicates her
proudest pages to one of whom she has nothing but the epitaph to

As if to contrast the little band under the command of Leonidas,
Herodotus again enumerates the Persian force, swelled as it now was by
many contributions, forced and voluntary, since its departure from
Doriscus.  He estimates the total by sea and land, thus augmented, at
two millions six hundred and forty-one thousand six hundred and ten
fighting men, and computes the number of the menial attendants, the
motley multitude that followed the armament, at an equal number; so
that the son of Darius conducted, hitherto without disaster, to Sepias
and Thermopylae, a body of five millions two hundred and eighty-three
thousand two hundred and twenty human beings [63].  And out of this
wondrous concourse, none in majesty and grace of person, says
Herodotus, surpassed the royal leader.  But such advantages as belong
to superior stature, the kings of Persia obtained by artificial means;
and we learn from Xenophon that they wore a peculiar kind of shoe so
constructed as to increase their height.

VI.  The fleet of Xerxes, moving from Therme, obtained some partial
success at sea: ten of their vessels despatched to Sciathos, captured
a guard-ship of Troezene, and sacrificed upon the prow a Greek named
Leon; the beauty of his person obtained him that disagreeable
preference.  A vessel of Aegina fell also into their hands, the crew
of which they treated as slaves, save only one hero, Pytheas, endeared
even to the enemy by his valour; a third vessel, belonging to the
Athenians, was taken at the mouth of the Peneus; the seamen, however,
had previously debarked, and consequently escaped.  Beacons apprized
the Greek station at Artemisium of these disasters, and the fleet
retreated for a while to Chalcis, with a view of guarding the Euripus.
But a violent storm off the coast of Magnesia suddenly destroying no
less than four hundred of the barbarian vessels, with a considerable
number of men and great treasure, the Grecian navy returned to

Here they soon made a capture of fifteen of the Persian vessels,
which, taking them for friends, sailed right into the midst of them.
With this exception, the rest of the barbarian fleet arrived safely at

VII.  Meanwhile the mighty land-force of the great king, passing
through Thessaly and Achaia, arrived at last at the wide Trachinian
plains, which, stretching along the shores of Thessaly, forty miles in
circumference, and adjacent to the straits of Thermopylae, allowed
space for the encampment of his army.

The Greeks at Thermopylae beheld the approach of Xerxes with dismay;
they had anticipated considerable re-enforcements from the confederate
states, especially Sparta, which last had determined to commit all her
strength to the campaign, leaving merely a small detachment for the
defence of the capital.  But the Carneian festival in honour of the
great Dorian Apollo, at Sparta, detained the Lacedaemonians, and the
Olympic games diverted the rest of the allies, not yet expecting an
immediate battle.

The vicinity of Xerxes, the absence of the re-enforcements they
expected, produced an alarmed and anxious council; Leonidas dissuaded
the confederates from retreat, and despatched messengers to the
various states, urging the necessity of supplies, and stating the
hopelessness of opposing the Mede effectually with the present forces.

Xerxes, in the meanwhile, who had heard that an insignificant band
were assembled under a Spartan descendant of Hercules, to resist his
progress, despatched a spy to reconnoitre their number and their
movements.  The emissary was able only to inspect those without the
intrenchment, who, at that time, happened to be the Spartans; he found
that singular race engaged in gymnastic exercises, and dressing their
long hair for the festival of battle.  Although they perceived the
spy, they suffered him to gaze at his leisure, and he returned in
safety to the king.

Much astonished at the account he received, Xerxes sent for Demaratus,
and detailing to him what the messenger had seen, inquired what it
might portend, and whether this handful of men amusing themselves in
the defile could seriously mean to resist his arms.

“Sire,” answered the Spartan, “it is their intention to dispute the
pass, and what your messenger has seen proves that they are preparing
accordingly.  It is the custom of the Spartans to adorn their hair on
the eve of any enterprise of danger.  You are advancing to attack the
flower of the Grecian valour.”  Xerxes, still incredulous that
opposition could be seriously intended, had the courtesy to wait four
days to give the enemy leisure to retreat; in the interim he
despatched a messenger to Leonidas, demanding his arms.  “Come and
take them!” replied the Spartan.

VIII.  On the fifth day the patience of Xerxes was exhausted, and he
sent a detachment of Medes and Cissians [64] into the pass, with
orders to bring its rash and obstinate defenders alive into his
presence.  The Medes and Cissians were repulsed with considerable
loss.  “The Immortal Band” were now ordered to advance, under the
command of Hydarnes.  But even the skill and courage of that warlike
troop were equally unsuccessful; their numbers were crippled by the
narrowness of the pass, and their short weapons coped to great
disadvantage with the long spears of the Greeks.  The engagement was
renewed a second day with the like fortune; the loss of the Persians
was great, although the scanty numbers of the Spartans were also
somewhat diminished.

In the midst of the perplexity which pervaded the king’s councils
after this defeat, there arrived at the Persian camp one Ephialtes, a
Malian.  Influenced by the hope of a great reward, this traitor
demanded and obtained an audience, in which he offered to conduct the
Medes through a secret path across the mountains, into the pass.  The
offer was joyfully accepted, and Hydarnes, with the forces under his
command, was despatched under the guidance of the Malian.  At the dusk
of evening the detachment left the camp, and marching all night, from
the river Asopus, between the mountains of Oeta on the right hand, and
the Trachinian ridges on the left, they found themselves at the early
dawn at the summit of the hill, on which a thousand Phocians had been
stationed to defend the pass, for it was not unknown to the Spartans.
In the silence of dawn they wound through the thick groves of oak that
clad the ascent, and concealed the glitter of their arms; but the
exceeding stillness of the air occasioned the noise they made in
trampling on the leaves [65] to reach the ears of the Phocians.  That
band sprang up from the earth on which they had slept, to the
consternation and surprise of the invaders, and precipitately betook
themselves to arms.  The Persians, though unprepared for an enemy at
this spot, drew up in battle array, and the heavy onslaught of their
arrows drove the Phocians to seek a better shelter up the mountains,
not imagining that the passage into the defile, but their own
destruction, was the object of the enterprise.  The Persians prudently
forbore pursuit, but availing themselves of the path now open to their
progress, rapidly descended the opposite side of the mountain.

IX.  Meanwhile, dark and superstitious terrors were at work in the
Grecian camp.  The preceding eve the soothsayer (Megistias) had
inspected the entrails, and foretold that death awaited the defenders
of Thermopylae in the morning; and on that fatal night a Cumaean
deserted from the Persian camp had joined Leonidas, and informed him
of the treachery of Ephialtes.  At early day their fears were
confirmed by the sentinels posted on the mountains, who fled into the
defile at the approach of the barbarians.

A hasty council was assembled; some were for remaining, some for
flight.  The council ended with the resolution of a general retreat,
probably with the assent, possibly by the instances, of Leonidas, who
was contented to possess the monopoly of glory and of death.  The laws
of the Spartans forbade them to fly from any enemy, however numerous,
and Leonidas did not venture to disobey them.  Perhaps his resolution
was strengthened by an oracle of that Delphi so peculiarly venerated
by the Dorian race, and which foretold either the fall of Sparta, or
the sacrifice of a Spartan king of the blood of Hercules.  To men
whose whole happiness was renown, life had no temptation equal to such
a death!

X.  Leonidas and his countrymen determined to keep the field.  The
Thespians alone voluntarily remained to partake his fate; but he
detained also the suspected Thebans, rather as a hostage than an
auxiliary.  The rest of the confederates precipitately departed across
the mountains to their native cities.  Leonidas would have dismissed
the prophetic soothsayer, but Megistias insisted on his right to
remain; he contented himself with sending away his only son, who had
accompanied the expedition.  Even the stern spirit of Leonidas is said
to have yielded to the voice of nature; and he ordered two of his
relations to return to Sparta to report the state of affairs.  “You
prescribe to us the duties of messengers, not of soldiers,” was the
reply, as the warriors buckled on their shields, and took their posts
with the rest.

If history could penetrate from events into the hearts of the agents,
it would be interesting even to conjecture the feelings of this
devoted band, awaiting the approach of a certain death, in that
solitary defile.  Their enthusiasm, and that rigid and Spartan spirit
which had made all ties subservient to obedience to the law--all
excitement tame to that of battle--all pleasure dull to the
anticipation of glory--probably rendered the hours preceding death the
most enviable of their lives.  They might have exulted in the same
elevating fanaticism which distinguished afterward the followers of
Mahomet; and seen that opening paradise in immortality below, which
the Moslemin beheld in anticipation above.

XI.  Early on that awful morning, Xerxes offered a solemn libation to
his gods, and at the middle of the noon, when Hydarnes might be
supposed to be close upon the rear of the enemy, the barbarian troops
commenced their march.  Leonidas and his band advanced beyond their
intrenchment, into the broader part of the defile.  Before the fury of
their despair, the Persians fell in great numbers; many of them were
hurled into the sea, others trodden down and crushed by the press of
their own numbers.

When the spears of the Greeks were shivered in pieces they had
recourse to their swords, and the battle was fought hand to hand: thus
fighting, fell Leonidas, surrounded in death by many of his band, of
various distinction and renown.  Two half-brothers of Xerxes, mingling
in the foremost of the fray, contended for the body of the Spartan
king, and perished by the Grecian sword.

For a short time the Spartans repelled the Persian crowd, who, where
valour failed to urge them on, were scourged to the charge by the lash
of their leaders, and drew the body of Leonidas from the press; and
now, winding down the pass, Hydarnes and his detachment descended to
the battle.  The scene then became changed, the Spartans retired,
still undaunted, or rather made yet more desperate as death drew near,
into the narrowest of the pass, and, ranged upon an eminence of the
strait, they died--fighting, even after their weapons were broken,
with their hands and teeth--rather crushed beneath the number than
slain by the swords of the foe--“non victi sed vincendo fatigati.”

XII.  Two Spartans of the three hundred, Eurytus and Aristodemus, had,
in consequence of a severe disorder in the eyes, been permitted to
sojourn at Alpeni; but Eurytus, hearing of the contest, was led by his
helot into the field, and died with his countrymen.  Aristodemus alone
remained, branded with disgrace on his return to Sparta; but
subsequently redeeming his name at the battle of Plataea. [68]

The Thebans, beholding the victory of the Persians, yielded their
arms; and, excepting a few, slain as they approached, not as foes, but
as suppliants, were pardoned by Xerxes.

The king himself came to view the dead, and especially the corpse of
Leonidas.  He ordered the head of that hero to be cut off, and his
body suspended on a cross [69], an instance of sudden passion, rather
than customary barbarity.  For of all nations the Persians most
honoured valour, even in their foes.

XIII.  The moral sense of mankind, which places the example of
self-sacrifice among the noblest lessons by which our nature can be
corrected, has justly immortalized the memory of Leonidas.  It is
impossible to question the virtue of the man, but we may fairly
dispute the wisdom of the system he adorned.  We may doubt whether, in
fact, his death served his country so much as his life would have
done.  It was the distinction of Thermopylae, that its heroes died in
obedience to the laws; it was the distinction of Marathon, that its
heroes lived to defeat the invader and preserve their country.  And in
proof of this distinction, we find afterward, at Plataea, that of all
the allied Greeks the Spartans the most feared the conquerors of
Thermopylae; the Athenians the least feared the fugitives of Marathon.

XIV.  Subsequently, on the hill to which the Spartans and Thespians
had finally retired, a lion of stone was erected by the Amphictyons,
in honour of Leonidas; and many years afterward the bones of that hero
were removed to Sparta, and yearly games, at which Spartans only were
allowed to contend, were celebrated round his tomb.  Separate
monuments to the Greeks generally, and to the three hundred who had
refused to retreat, were built also, by the Amphictyons, at
Thermopylae.  Long extant, posterity admired the inscriptions which
they bore; that of the Spartans became proverbial for its sublime

“Go, stranger,” it said, “and tell the Spartans that we obeyed the
law--and lie here!”

The private friendship of Simonides the poet erected also a monument
to Megistias, the soothsayer, in which it was said truly to his

    “That the fate he foresaw he remained to brave;”

Such is the history of the battle of Thermopylae (B. C. 480). [70]


The Advice of Demaratus to Xerxes.--Themistocles.--Actions off
Artemisium.--The Greeks retreat.--The Persians invade Delphi, and are
repulsed with great Loss.--The Athenians, unaided by their Allies,
abandon Athens, and embark for Salamis.--The irresolute and selfish
Policy of the Peloponnesians.--Dexterity and Firmness of
Themistocles.--Battle of Salamis.--Andros and Carystus besieged by the
Greeks.--Anecdotes of Themistocles.--Honours awarded to him in
Sparta.--Xerxes returns to Asia.--Olynthus and Potidaea besieged by
Artabazus.--The Athenians return Home.--The Ostracism of Aristides is

I.  After the victory of Thermopylae, Demaratus advised the Persian
monarch to despatch a detachment of three hundred vessels to the
Laconian coast, and seize the Island of Cythera, of which a Spartan
once (foreseeing how easily hereafter that post might be made to
command and overawe the Laconian capital) had said, “It were better
for Sparta if it were sunk into the sea.”  The profound experience of
Demaratus in the selfish and exclusive policy of his countrymen made
him argue that, if this were done, the fears of Sparta for herself
would prevent her joining the forces of the rest of Greece, and leave
the latter a more easy prey to the invader.

The advice, fortunately for the Greeks, was overruled by Achaemenes.

Meanwhile the Grecian navy, assembled off Artemisium, was agitated by
divers councils.  Beholding the vast number of barbarian ships now
collected at Aphetae, and the whole shores around swarming with
hostile troops, the Greeks debated the necessity of retreat.

The fleet was under the command of Eurybiades, the Spartan.  For
although Athens furnished a force equal to all the rest of the allies
together, and might justly, therefore, have pretended to the command,
yet the jealousy of the confederates, long accustomed to yield to the
claims of Sparta, and unwilling to acknowledge a new superiority in
another state, had induced the Athenians readily to forego their
claim.  And this especially at the instance of Themistocles.  “To
him,” says Plutarch, “Greece not only owes her preservation, but the
Athenians in particular the glory of surpassing their enemies in
valour and their allies in moderation.”  But if fortune gave
Eurybiades the nominal command, genius forced Themistocles into the
actual pre-eminence.  That extraordinary man was, above all, adapted
to his time; and, suited to its necessities, he commanded its fates.
His very fault in the callousness of the moral sentiment, and his
unscrupulous regard to expediency, peculiarly aided him in his
management of men.  He could appeal to the noblest passions--he could
wind himself into the most base.  Where he could not exalt he
corrupted, where he could not persuade he intimidated, where he could
not intimidate he bribed. [71]

When the intention to retreat became generally circulated, the
inhabitants of the northern coast of Euboea (off which the Athenian
navy rode) entreated Eurybiades at least to give them time to remove
their slaves and children from the vengeance of the barbarian.
Unsuccessful with him, they next sought Themistocles.  For the
consideration of thirty talents, the Athenian promised to remain at
Artemisium, and risk the event of battle.  Possessed of this sum, he
won over the sturdy Spartan by the gift of five talents, and to
Adimantus the Corinthian, the most obstinate in retreat, he privately
sent three [72].  The remainder he kept for his own uses;--
distinguished from his compeers in this--that he obtained a much
larger share of the gift than they; that they were bribed to be brave,
and that he was rewarded for bribing them.  The pure-minded statesman
of the closet cannot but feel some disdain and some regret to find,
blended together, the noblest actions and the paltriest motives.  But
whether in ancient times or in modern, the web of human affairs is
woven from a mingled yarn, and the individuals who save nations are
not always those most acceptable to the moralist.  The share of
Themistocles in this business is not, however, so much to his
discredit as to that of the Spartan Eurybiades.  We cannot but observe
that no system contrary to human nature is strong against actual
temptation.  The Spartan law interdicted the desire of riches, and the
Spartans themselves yielded far more easily to the lust of avarice
than the luxurious Athenians.  Thus a native of Zelea, a city in Asia
Minor, had sought to corrupt the Peloponnesian cities by Persian gold:
it was not the Spartans, it was the Athenians, who declared this man
infamous, and placed his life out of the pale of the Grecian law.
With a noble pride Demosthenes speaks of this decree.  “The gold,” he,
says, “was brought into Peloponnesus, not to Athens.  But our
ancestors extended their care beyond their own city to the whole of
Greece.” [73]  An Aristides is formed by the respect paid to
integrity, which society tries in vain--a Demaratus, an Eurybiades,
and, as we shall see, a Pausanias, by the laws which, affecting to
exclude the influence of the passions, render their temptations novel,
and their effects irresistible.

II.  The Greeks continued at Euboea; and the Persians, eager to engage
so inconsiderable an enemy, despatched two hundred chosen vessels,
with orders to make a circuitous route beyond Sciathos, and thus,
unperceived, to attack the Grecian rear, while on a concerted signal
the rest would advance upon the front.

A deserter of Scios escaped, however, from Aphetae, and informed the
Greeks of the Persian plan.  Upon this it was resolved at midnight to
advance against that part of the fleet which had been sent around
Euboea.  But as twilight approached, they appeared to have changed or
delayed this design, and proceeded at once towards the main body of
the fleet, less perhaps with the intention of giving regular battle,
than of attempting such detached skirmishes as would make experiment
of their hardihood and skill.  The Persians, amazed at the infatuation
of their opponents, drew out their fleet in order, and succeeded in
surrounding the Greek ships.

The night, however, separated the hostile forces, but not until the
Greeks had captured thirty of the barbarian vessels; the first ship
was taken by an Athenian.  The victory, however, despite this
advantage, was undecided, when the Greeks returned to Artemisium, the
Persians to Aphetae.

III.  But during the night one of those sudden and vehement storms not
unfrequent to the summers of Greece broke over the seas.  The Persians
at Aphetae heard, with a panic dismay, the continued thunder that
burst above the summit of Mount Pelion; and the bodies of the dead and
the wrecks of ships, floating round the prows, entangled their oars
amid a tempestuous and heavy sea.  But the destruction which the
Persians at Aphetae anticipated to themselves, actually came upon that
part of the barbarian fleet which had made the circuit round Euboea.
Remote from land, exposed to all the fury of the tempest, ignorant of
their course, and amid the darkness of night, they were dashed to
pieces against those fearful rocks termed “The Hollows,” and not a
single galley escaped the general destruction.

Thus the fleet of the barbarians was rendered more equal to that of
the Greeks.  Re-enforced by fifty-three ships from Athens the next
day, the Greeks proceeded at evening against that part of the hostile
navy possessed by the Cilicians.  These they utterly defeated, and
returned joyfully to Artemisium.

Hitherto these skirmishes, made on the summer evenings, in order
probably to take advantage of the darkening night to break off before
any irremediable loss was sustained, seem rather to have been for the
sake of practice in the war--chivalric sorties as it were--than actual
and deliberate engagements.  But the third day, the Persians,
impatient of conquest, advanced to Artemisium.  These sea encounters
were made precisely on the same days as the conflicts at Thermopylae;
the object on each was the same--the gaining in one of the sea defile,
in the other of the land entrance into Greece.  The Euripus was the
Thermopylae of the ocean.

IV.  The Greeks remained in their station, and there met the shock;
the battle was severe and equal; the Persians fought with great valour
and firmness, and although the loss upon their side was far the
greatest, many of the Greek vessels also perished.  They separated as
by mutual consent, neither force the victor.  Of the Persian fleet the
Egyptians were the most distinguished--of the Grecian the Athenians;
and of the last none equalled in valour Clinias; his ship was manned
at his own expense.  He was the father of that Alcibiades, afterward
so famous.

While the Greeks rested at Artemisium, counting the number of their
slain, and amid the wrecks of their vessels, they learned the fate of
Leonidas. [74]  This determined their previous consultations on the
policy of retreat, and they abandoned the Euripus in steady and
marshalled order, the Corinthians first, the Athenians closing the
rear.  Thus the Persians were left masters of the sea and land
entrance into Greece.

But even in retreat, the active spirit of Themistocles was intent upon
expedients.  It was more than suspected that a considerable portion of
the Ionians now in the service of Xerxes were secretly friendly to the
Greeks.  In the swiftest of the Athenian vessels Themistocles
therefore repaired to a watering-place on the coast, and engraved upon
the rocks these words, which were read by the Ionians the next day.

“Men of Ionia, in fighting against your ancestors, and assisting to
enslave Greece, you act unworthily.  Come over to us; or if that may
not be, at least retire from the contest, and prevail on the Carians
to do the same.  If yet neither secession nor revolt be practicable,
at least when we come to action exert not yourselves against us.
Remember that we are descended from one common race, and that it was
on your behalf that we first incurred the enmity of the Persian.”

A subtler intention than that which was the more obvious, was couched
beneath this exhortation.  For if it failed to seduce the Ionians, it
might yet induce Xerxes to mistrust their alliance.

When the Persians learned that the Greeks had abandoned their station,
their whole fleet took possession of the pass, possessed themselves of
the neighbouring town of Histiaea, and overrunning a part of the Isle
of Euboea, received the submission of the inhabitants.

Xerxes now had recourse to a somewhat clumsy, though a very commonly
practised artifice.  Twenty thousand of his men had fallen at
Thermopylae: of these he buried nineteen thousand, and leaving the
remainder uninterred, he invited all who desired it, by public
proclamation, to examine the scene of contest.  As a considerable
number of helots had joined their Spartan lords and perished with
them, the bodies of the slain amounted to four thousand [75], while
those of the Persians were only one thousand.  This was a practical
despotic bulletin.

V.  Of all the neighbouring district, the Phocians had alone remained
faithful to the Grecian cause: their territory was now overrun by the
Persians, at the instance of their hereditary enemies, the
Thessalians, destroying city and temple, and committing all the
horrors of violence and rapine by the way.  Arrived at Panopeae, the
bulk of the barbarian army marched through Boeotia towards Athens,
the great object of revenge, while a separate detachment was sent
to Delphi, with a view of plundering the prodigious riches
accumulated in that celebrated temple, and of which, not perhaps
uncharacteristically, Xerxes was said to be better informed than of
the treasures he had left behind in his own palace.

But the wise and crafty priesthood of Delphi had been too long
accustomed successfully to deceive mankind to lose hope or
self-possession at the approach even of so formidable a foe.  When the
dismayed citizens of Delphi ran to the oracle, demanding advice and
wishing to know what should be done with the sacred treasures, the
priestess gravely replied that “the god could take care of his own
possessions, and that the only business of the citizens was to provide
for themselves;” a priestly answer, importing that the god considered
his possessions, and not the flock, were the treasure.  The one was
sure to be defended by a divinity, the other might shift for

The citizens were not slow in adopting the advice; they immediately
removed their wives and children into Achaia--while the males and
adults fled--some to Amphissa, some amid the craggy recesses of
Parnassus, or into that vast and spacious cavern at the base of Mount
Corycus, dedicated to the Muses, and imparting to those lovely deities
the poetical epithet of Corycides.  Sixty men, with the chief priest,
were alone left to protect the sacred city.

VI.  But superstition can dispense with numbers in its agency.  Just
as the barbarians were in sight of the temple, the sacred arms,
hitherto preserved inviolable in the sanctuary, were seen by the
soothsayer to advance to the front of the temple.  And this prodigy
but heralded others more active.  As the enemy now advanced in the
stillness of the deserted city, and impressed doubtless by their own
awe (for not to a Persian army could there have seemed no veneration
due to the Temple of the Sun!) just by the shrine of Minerva Pronaea,
built out in front of the great temple, a loud peal of thunder burst
suddenly over their heads, and two enormous fragments of rock
(separated from the heights of that Parnassus amid whose recesses
mortals as well as gods lay hid) rolled down the mountain-side with a
mighty crash, and destroyed many of the Persian multitude.  At the
same time, from the temple of the warlike goddess broke forth a loud
and martial shout, as if to arms.  Confused--appalled--panic-stricken
by these supernatural prodigies--the barbarians turned to fly; while
the Delphians, already prepared and armed, rushed from cave and
mountain, and, charging in the midst of the invaders, scattered them
with great slaughter.  Those who escaped fled to the army in Boeotia.
Thus the treasures of Delphi were miraculously preserved, not only
from the plunder of the Persian, but also from the clutch of the
Delphian citizens themselves, who had been especially anxious, in the
first instance, to be permitted to deposite the treasures in a place
of safety.  Nobody knew better than the priests that treasures always
diminish when transferred from one hand to another.

VII.  The Grecian fleet anchored at Salamis by the request of the
Athenians, who were the more anxious immediately to deliberate on the
state of affairs, as the Persian army was now approaching their
borders, and they learned that the selfish warriors of the
Peloponnesus, according to their customary policy, instead of
assisting the Athenians and Greece generally, by marching towards
Boeotia, were engaged only in fortifying the isthmus or providing for
their own safety.

Unable to engage the confederates to assist them in protecting Attica,
the Athenians entreated, at least, the rest of the maritime allies to
remain at Salamis, while they themselves hastened back to Athens.

Returned home, their situation was one which their generous valour had
but little merited.  Although they had sent to Artemisium the
principal defence of the common cause, now, when the storm rolled
towards themselves, none appeared on their behalf.  They were at once
incensed and discouraged by the universal desertion. [76]  How was it
possible that, alone and unaided, they could withstand the Persian
multitude?  Could they reasonably expect the fortunes of Marathon to
be perpetually renewed?  To remain at Athens was destruction--to leave
it seemed to them a species of impiety.  Nor could they anticipate
victory with a sanguine hope, in abandoning the monuments of their
ancestors and the temples of their gods. [77]

Themistocles alone was enabled to determine the conduct of his
countrymen in this dilemma.  Inexhaustible were the resources of a
genius which ranged from the most lofty daring to the most intricate
craft.  Perceiving that the only chance of safety was in the desertion
of the city, and that the strongest obstacle to this alternative was
in the superstitious attachment to HOME ever so keenly felt by the
ancients, he had recourse, in the failure of reason, to a
counter-superstition.  In the temple of the citadel was a serpent,
dedicated to Minerva, and considered the tutelary defender of the place.
The food appropriated to the serpent was suddenly found unconsumed--the
serpent itself vanished; and, at the suggestion of Themistocles, the
priests proclaimed that the goddess had deserted the city and offered
herself to conduct them to the seas.  Then, amid the general excitement,
Themistocles reiterated his version of the Delphic oracle. Then were the
ships reinterpreted to be the wooden walls, and Salamis once more
proclaimed “the Divine.”  The fervour of the people was awakened--the
persuasions of Themistocles prevailed--even the women loudly declared
their willingness to abandon Athens for the sake of the Athenians; and
it was formally decreed that the city should be left to the guardianship
of Minerva, and the citizens should save themselves, their women,
children, and slaves, as their own discretion might suggest.  Most of
them took refuge in Troezene, where they were generously supported at
the public expense--some at Aegina--others repaired to Salamis.

A moving and pathetic spectacle was that of the embarcation of the
Athenians for the Isle of Salamis.  Separated from their children,
their wives (who were sent to remoter places of safety)--abandoning
their homes and altars--the citadel of Minerva--the monuments of
Marathon--they set out for a scene of contest (B. C. 480), perilous
and precarious, and no longer on the site of their beloved and
father-land.  Their grief was heightened by the necessity of leaving
many behind, whose extreme age rendered them yet more venerable, while
it incapacitated their removal.  Even the dumb animals excited all the
fond domestic associations, running to the strand, and expressing by
their cries their regret for the hands that fed them: one of them, a
dog, that belonged to Xanthippus, father of Pericles, is said to have
followed the ships, and swam to Salamis, to die, spent with toil, upon
the sands.

VIII.  The fleet now assembled at Salamis; the Spartans contributed
only sixteen vessels, the people of Aegina thirty--swift galleys and
well equipped; the Athenians one hundred and eighty; the whole navy,
according to Herodotus, consisted of three hundred and seventy-eight
[78] ships, besides an inconsiderable number of vessels of fifty oars.

Eurybiades still retained the chief command.  A council of war was
held.  The greater number of the more influential allies were composed
of Peloponnesians, and, with the countenance of the Spartan chief, it
was proposed to retire from Salamis and fix the station in the isthmus
near the land-forces of Peloponnesus.  This was highly consonant to
the interested policy of the Peloponnesian states, and especially to
that of Sparta; Attica was considered already lost, and the fate of
that territory they were therefore indisposed to consider.  While the
debate was yet pending, a messenger arrived from Athens with the
intelligence that the barbarian, having reduced to ashes the allied
cities of Thespiae and Plataea in Boeotia, had entered Attica; and
shortly afterward they learned that (despite a desperate resistance
from the handful of Athenians who, some from poverty, some from a
superstitious prejudice in favour of the wooden wall of the citadel,
had long held out, though literally girt by fire from the burning of
their barricades) the citadel had been taken, plundered, and burnt,
and the remnant of its defenders put to the sword.

IX.  Consternation seized the council; many of the leaders broke away
hastily, went on board, hoisted their sails, and prepared to fly.
Those who remained in the council determined that an engagement at sea
could only be risked near the isthmus.  With this resolve the leaders
at night returned to their ships.

It is singular how often, in the most memorable events, the fate and
the glory of nations is decided by the soul of a single man.  When
Themistocles had retired to his vessel, he was sought by Mnesiphilus,
who is said to have exercised an early and deep influence over the
mind of Themistocles, and to have been one of those practical yet
thoughtful statesmen called into existence by the sober philosophy of
Solon [79], whose lessons on the science of government made a
groundwork for the rhetorical corruptions of the later sophists.  On
learning the determination of the council, Mnesiphilus forcibly
represented its consequences.  “If the allies,” said he, “once abandon
Salamis, you have lost for ever the occasion of fighting for your
country.  The fleet will certainly separate, the various confederates
return home, and Greece will perish.  Hasten, therefore, ere yet it be
too late, and endeavour to persuade Eurybiades to change his
resolution and remain.”

This advice, entirely agreeable to the views of Themistocles, excited
that chief to new exertions.  He repaired at once to Eurybiades; and,
by dint of that extraordinary mastery over the minds of others which
he possessed, he finally won over the Spartan, and, late as the hour
was, persuaded him to reassemble the different leaders.

X.  In that nocturnal council debate grew loud and warm.  When
Eurybiades had explained his change of opinion and his motives for
calling the chiefs together; Themistocles addressed the leaders at
some length and with great excitement.  It was so evidently the
interest of the Corinthians to make the scene of defence in the
vicinity of Corinth, that we cannot be surprised to find the
Corinthian leader, Adimantus, eager to interrupt the Athenian.
“Themistocles,” said he, “they who at the public games rise before
their time are beaten.”

“True,” replied Themistocles, with admirable gentleness and temper;
“but they who are left behind are never crowned.”

Pursuing the advantage which a skilful use of interruption always
gives to an orator, the Athenian turned to Eurybiades.  Artfully
suppressing his secret motive in the fear of the dispersion of the
allies, which he rightly judged would offend without convincing, he
had recourse to more popular arguments.  “Fight at the isthmus,” he
said, “and you fight in the open sea, where, on account of our heavier
vessels and inferior number, you contend with every disadvantage.
Grant even success, you will yet lose, by your retreat, Salamis,
Megara, and Aegina.  You would preserve the Peloponnesus, but
remember, that by attracting thither the war, you attract not only the
naval, but also the land forces of the enemy.  Fight here, and we have
the inestimable advantage of a narrow sea--we shall preserve Salamis,
the refuge of our wives and children--we shall as effectually protect
the Peloponnesus as by repairing to the isthmus and drawing the
barbarian thither.  If we obtain the victory, the enemy will neither
advance to the isthmus nor penetrate beyond Attica.  Their retreat is

The orator was again interrupted by Adimantus with equal rudeness.
And Themistocles, who well knew how to alternate force with
moderation, and menace with persuasion, retorted with an equal
asperity, but with a singular dignity and happiness of expression.

“It becomes you,” said Adimantus, scornfully, alluding to the capture
of Athens, “it becomes you to be silent, and not to advise us to
desert our country; you, who no longer have a country to defend!
Eurybiades can only be influenced by Themistocles when Themistocles
has once more a city to represent.”

“Wretch!” replied Themistocles, sternly, “we have indeed left our
walls and houses--preferring freedom to those inanimate possessions--
but know that the Athenians still possess a country and a city,
greater and more formidable than yours, well provided with stores and
men, which none of the Greeks will be able to resist: our ships are
our country and our city.”

“If,” he added, once more addressing the Spartan chief, “if you
continue here you will demand our eternal gratitude: fly, and you are
the destroyers of Greece.  In this war the last and sole resource of
the Athenians is their fleet: reject my remonstrances, and I warn you
that at once we will take our families on board, and sail to that
Siris, on the Italian shores, which of old is said to have belonged to
us, and in which, if the oracle be trusted, we ought to found a city.
Deprived of us, you will remember my words.”

XI.  The menace of Themistocles--the fear of so powerful a race,
unhoused, exasperated, and in search of a new settlement--and the yet
more immediate dread of the desertion of the flower of the navy--
finally prevailed.  Eurybiades announced his concurrence with the
views of Themistocles, and the confederates, wearied with altercation,
consented to risk the issue of events at Salamis.

XII.  Possessed of Athens, the Persian king held also his council of
war.  His fleet, sailing up the Euripus, anchored in the Attic bay of
Phalerum; his army encamped along the plains around, or within the
walls of Athens.  The losses his armament had sustained were already
repaired by new re-enforcements of Malians, Dorians, Locrians,
Bactrians, Carystians, Andrians, Tenedians, and the people of the
various isles.  “The farther,” says Herodotus, “the Persians
penetrated into Greece, the greater the numbers by which they were
followed.”  It may be supposed, however, that the motley contributions
of an idle and predatory multitude, or of Greeks compelled, not by
affection, but fear, ill supplied to Xerxes the devoted thousands,
many of them his own gallant Persians, who fell at Thermopylae or
perished in the Euboean seas.

XIII.  Mardonius and the leaders generally were for immediate battle.
The heroine Artemisia alone gave a more prudent counsel.  She
represented to them, that if they delayed a naval engagement or sailed
to the Peloponnesus [80], the Greeks, failing of provisions and
overruled by their fears, would be certain to disperse, to retire to
their several homes, and, thus detached, fall an easy prey to his

Although Xerxes, contrary to expectation, received the adverse opinion
of the Carian princess with compliments and praise, he yet adopted the
counsel of the majority; and, attributing the ill success at
Artemisium to his absence, resolved in person to witness the triumph
of his arms at Salamis.

The navy proceeded, in order, to that island: the land-forces on the
same night advanced to the Peloponnesus: there, under Cleombrotus,
brother to Leonidas, all the strength of the Peloponnesian
confederates was already assembled.  They had fortified the pass of
Sciron, another Thermopylae in its local character, and protected the
isthmus by a wall, at the erection of which the whole army worked
night and day; no materials sufficing for the object of defence were
disdained--wood, stones, bricks, and sand--all were pressed into
service.  Here encamped, they hoped nothing from Salamis--they
believed the last hope of Greece rested solely with themselves. [81]

XIV.  Again new agitation, fear, and dissension broke out in the
Grecian navy.  All those who were interested in the safety of the
Peloponnesus complained anew of the resolution of Eurybiades--urged
the absurdity of remaining at Salamis to contend for a territory
already conquered--and the leaders of Aegina, Megara, and Athens were
left in a minority in the council.

Thus overpowered by the Peloponnesian allies, Themistocles is said to
have bethought himself of a stratagem, not inconsonant with his
scheming and wily character.  Retiring privately from the debate, yet
unconcluded, and summoning the most confidential messenger in his
service [82], he despatched him secretly to the enemy’s fleet with
this message--“The Athenian leader, really attached to the king, and
willing to see the Greeks subjugated to his power, sends me privately
to you.  Consternation has seized the Grecian navy; they are preparing
to fly; lose not the opportunity of a splendid victory.  Divided among
themselves, the Greeks are unable to resist you; and you will see, as
you advance upon them, those who favour and those who would oppose you
in hostility with each other.”

The Persian admiral was sufficiently experienced in the treachery and
defection of many of the Greeks to confide in the message thus
delivered to him; but he scarcely required such intelligence to
confirm a resolution already formed.  At midnight the barbarians
passed over a large detachment to the small isle of Psyttaleia,
between Salamis and the continent, and occupying the whole narrow sea
as far as the Attic port of Munychia, under cover of the darkness
disposed their ships, so as to surround the Greeks and cut off the
possibility of retreat.

XV.  Unconscious of the motions of the enemy, disputes still prevailed
among the chiefs at Salamis, when Themistocles was summoned at night
from the council, to which he had returned after despatching his
messenger to the barbarian.  The person who thus summoned him was
Aristides.  It was the third year of his exile--which sentence was
evidently yet unrepealed--or not in that manner, at night and as a
thief, would the eminent and high-born Aristides have joined his
countrymen.  He came from Aegina in an open boat, under cover of the
night passed through the midst of the Persian ships, and arrived at
Salamis to inform the Greeks that they were already surrounded.

“At any time,” said Aristides, “it would become us to forget our
private dissensions, and at this time especially; contending only who
should most serve his country.  In vain now would the Peloponnesians
advise retreat; we are encompassed, and retreat is impossible.”

Themistocles welcomed the new-comer with joy, and persuaded him to
enter the council and acquaint the leaders with what he knew.  His
intelligence, received with doubt, was presently confirmed by a
trireme of Tenians, which deserted to them; and they now seriously
contemplated the inevitable resort of battle.

XVI.  At dawn all was prepared.  Assembled on the strand, Themistocles
harangued the troops; and when he had concluded, orders were given to

It was in the autumn of 480 B. C., two thousand three hundred and
sixteen years ago, that the battle of Salamis was fought.

High on a throne of precious metals, placed on one of the eminences of
Mount Aegaleos, sat, to survey the contest, the royal Xerxes.  The
rising sun beheld the shores of the Eleusinian gulf lined with his
troops to intercept the fugitives, and with a miscellaneous and motley
crowd of such as were rather spectators than sharers of the conflict.

But not as the Persian leaders had expected was the aspect of the foe;
nor did the Greeks betray the confusion or the terror ascribed to them
by the emissary of Themistocles.  As the daylight made them manifest
to the Persian, they set up the loud and martial chorus of the paean--
“the rocks of Salamis echoed back the shout”--and, to use the
expression of a soldier of that day [84], “the trumpet inflamed them
with its clangour.”

As soon as the Greeks began to move, the barbarian vessels advanced
swiftly.  But Themistocles detained the ardour of the Greeks until the
time when a sharp wind usually arose in that sea, occasioning a heavy
swell in the channel, which was peculiarly prejudicial to the unwieldy
ships of the Persians; but not so to the light, low, and compact
vessels of the Greeks.  The manner of attack with the ancient navies
was to bring the prow of the vessel, which was fortified by long
projecting beaks of brass, to bear upon the sides of its antagonist,
and this, the swell of the sea causing the Persian galleys to veer
about unwieldily, the agile ships of the Greeks were well enabled to

By the time the expected wind arose, the engagement was begun.  The
Persian admiral [85] directed his manoeuvres chiefly against
Themistocles, for on him, as the most experienced and renowned of the
Grecian leaders, the eyes of the enemy were turned.  From his ship,
which was unusually lofty, as from a castle [86], he sent forth darts
and arrows, until one of the Athenian triremes, commanded by Aminias,
shot from the rest, and bore down upon him with the prow.  The ships
met, and, fastened together by their brazen beaks, which served as
grappling-irons, Ariabignes gallantly boarded the Grecian vessel, and
was instantly slain by the hostile pikes and hurled into the sea [87].
The first who took a ship was an Athenian named Lycomedes.  The
Grecians keeping to the straits, the Persians were unable to bring
their whole armament to bear at once, and could only enter the narrow
pass by detachments; the heaviness of the sea and the cumbrous size of
their tall vessels frequently occasioned more embarrassment to
themselves than the foe--driven and hustling the one against the
other.  The Athenians maintaining the right wing were opposed by the
Phoenicians; the Spartans on the left by the Ionians.  The first were
gallantly supported by the Aeginetans, who, long skilled in maritime
warfare, eclipsed even their new rivals the Athenians.  The Phoenician
line was broken.  The Greeks pursued their victory, still preserving
the steadiest discipline and the most perfect order.  The sea became
strewn and covered with the wrecks of vessels and the bodies of the
dead; while, to the left, the Ionians gave way before that part of the
allied force commanded by the Spartans, some fighting with great
valour, some favouring the Greek confederates.  Meanwhile, as the
Persians gave way, and the sea became more clear, Aristides, who had
hitherto remained on shore, landed a body of Athenians on the Isle of
Psyttaleia, and put the Persian guard there stationed to the sword.

Xerxes from the mountain, his countless thousands from the shore,
beheld, afar and impotent, the confusion, the slaughter, the defeat of
the forces on the sea.  Anxious now only for retreat, the barbarians
retreated to Phalerum; and there, intercepted by the Aeginetans, were
pressed by them in the rear; by the Athenians, led by Themistocles, in
front.  At this time the heroine Artemisia, pursued by that Aminias
whose vessel had first grappled with the Persians, and who of all the
Athenian captains was that day the most eminently distinguished, found
herself in the extremest danger.  Against that remarkable woman the
efforts of the Athenians had been especially directed: deeming it a
disgrace to them to have an enemy in a woman, they had solemnly set a
reward of great amount upon her capture.  Thus pursued, Artemisia had
recourse to a sudden and extraordinary artifice.  Falling in with a
vessel of the Persians, commanded by a Calyndian prince, with whom she
had once been embroiled, she bore down against the ship and sunk it--a
truly feminine stratagem--deceiving at once a public enemy and
gratifying a private hatred.  The Athenian, seeing the vessel he had
pursued thus attack a barbarian, conceived he had mistaken a friendly
vessel, probably a deserter from the Persians, for a foe, and
immediately sought new objects of assault.  Xerxes beheld and admired
the prowess of Artemisia, deeming, in the confusion, that it was a
hostile vessel she had sunken. [88]

XVII.  The battle lasted till the dusk of evening, when at length the
remnant of the barbarian fleet gained the port of Phalerum; and the
Greeks beheld along the Straits of Salamis no other vestige of the
enemy than the wrecks and corpses which were the evidence of his

XVIII.  When morning came, the Greeks awaited a renewal of the
engagement; for the Persian fleet were still numerous, the Persian
army yet covered the neighbouring shores, and, by a feint to conceal
his real purpose, Xerxes had ordered the Phoenician transports to be
joined together, as if to connect Salamis to the continent.  But a
mandate was already issued for the instant departure of the navy for
the Hellespont, and a few days afterward the army itself retired into

The victory of Salamis was celebrated by solemn rejoicings, in which,
principally remarkable for the beauty of his person, and his
accomplishments on the lyre and in the dance, was a youth named
Sophocles, destined afterward to share the glory of Aeschylus, who, no
less a warrior than a poet, distinguished himself in the battle, and
has bequeathed to us the most detailed and animated account we possess
of its events.

The Grecian conquerors beheld the retreat of the enemy with
indignation; they were unwilling that any of that armament which had
burnt their hearths and altars should escape their revenge; they
pursued the Persian ships as far as Andros, where, not reaching them,
they cast anchor and held a consultation.  Themistocles is said to
have proposed, but not sincerely, to sail at once to the Hellespont
and destroy the bridge of boats.  This counsel was overruled, and it
was decided not to reduce so terrible an enemy to despair:--“Rather,”
 said one of the chiefs (whether Aristides or Eurybiades is differently
related), “build another bridge, that Xerxes may escape the sooner out
of Europe.”

Themistocles affected to be converted to a policy which he desired
only an excuse to effect; and, in pursuance of the hint already
furnished him, is said to have sent secretly to Xerxes, informing him
that it was the intention of the allies to sail to the Hellespont and
destroy the bridge, so that, if the king consulted his safety, he
would return immediately into Asia, while Themistocles would find
pretexts to delay the pursuit of the confederates.

This artifice appears natural to the scheming character of
Themistocles; and, from concurrent testimony [89], it seems to me
undoubted that Themistocles maintained a secret correspondence with
Xerxes, and even persuaded that monarch that he was disposed to favour
him.  But it is impossible to believe, with Herodotus, that he had at
that time any real desire to conciliate the Persian, foreseeing that
he might hereafter need a refuge at the Eastern court.  Then in the
zenith of his popularity, so acute a foresight is not in man.  He was
one of those to whom the spirit of intrigue is delight in itself, and
in the present instance it was exerted for the common cause of the
Athenians, which, with all his faults, he never neglected for, but
rather incorporated with, his own.

XIX.  Diverted from the notion of pursuing the Persians, the Grecian
allies, flushed with conquest, were yet eager for enterprise.  The
isles which had leagued with the Mede were strongly obnoxious to the
confederates, and it was proposed to exact from them a fine; in
defrayal of the expenses of the war.  Siege was laid to Andros, and
those islanders were the first who resisted the demand.  Then was it
that they made that memorable answer, which may serve as a warning in
all times to the strong when pressing on the desperate.

“I bring with me,” said Themistocles, “two powerful divinities--
Persuasion and Force.”

“And we,” answered the Andrians, “have two gods equally powerful on
our side--Poverty and Despair.”

The Andrian deities eventually triumphed, and the siege was raised
without effect.  But from the Parians and Carystians, and some other
islanders, Themistocles obtained enormous sums of money unknown to his
colleagues, which, however unjustly extorted, it does not
satisfactorily appear that he applied largely to his own personal
profit, but, as is more probable, to the rebuilding of Athens.
Perhaps he thought, nor without reason, that as the Athenians had been
the principal sufferers in the war, and contributed the most largely
to its resources, so whatever fines were levied on the seceders were
due, not to the confederates generally, but the Athenians alone.  The
previous conduct of the allies, with so much difficulty preserved from
deserting Athens, merited no particular generosity, and excused
perhaps the retaliation of a selfish policy.  The payment of the fine
did not, however, preserve Carystus from attack.  After wasting its
lands, the Greeks returned to Salamis and divided the Persian spoils.
The first fruits were dedicated to the gods, and the choicest of the
booty sent to Delphi.  And here we may notice one anecdote of
Themistocles, which proves, that whatever, at times and in great
crises, was the grasping unscrupulousness of his mind, he had at least
no petty and vulgar avarice.  Seeing a number of bracelets and chains
of gold upon the bodies of the dead, he passed them by, and turning to
one of his friends, “Take these for yourself,” said he, “for you are
not Themistocles.” [90]

Meanness or avarice was indeed no part of the character of
Themistocles, although he has been accused of those vices, because
guilty, at times, of extortion.  He was profuse, ostentatious, and
magnificent above his contemporaries and beyond his means.  His very
vices were on a large and splendid scale; and if he had something of
the pirate in his nature, he had nothing of the miser.  When he had to
choose between two suiters for his daughter, he preferred the worthy
to the wealthy candidate--willing that she should rather marry a man
without money than money without a man. [91]

XX.  The booty divided, the allies repaired to the isthmus, according
to that beautiful ancient custom of apportioning rewards to such as
had been most distinguished.  It was in the temple of Neptune that the
leaders met.  The right of voting was confined to the several chiefs,
who were to declare whom they thought the first in merit and whom the
second.  Each leader wrote his own name a candidate for the first
rank; but a great majority of suffrages awarded the second to
Themistocles.  While, therefore, each leader had only a single
suffrage in favour of the first rank, the second rank was
unequivocally due to the Athenian.

XXI.  But even conquest had not sufficed to remove the jealousies of
the confederate leaders--they evaded the decision of a question which
could not but be propitious to the Athenians, and returned home
without having determined the point which had assembled them at the
isthmus.  But Themistocles was not of a temper to brook patiently this
fraud upon his honours.  Far from sharing the petty and miserable
envies of their chiefs, the Greeks generally were loud in praise of
his wisdom and services; and, taking advantage of their enthusiasm,
Themistocles repaired to Sparta, trusting to the generosity of the
principal rival to compensate the injustice of many.  His expectations
were not ill-founded--the customs of Sparta allowed no slight to a
Spartan, and they adjudged therefore the prize of valour to their own
Eurybiades, while they awarded that of wisdom or science to
Themistocles.  Each was equally honoured with a crown of olive.
Forgetful of all their prejudices, their envy, and their inhospitable
treatment of strangers, that nation of warriors were dazzled by the
hero whose courage assimilated to their own.  They presented him with
the stateliest chariot to be found in Sparta, and solemnly conducted
him homeward as far as Tegea, by an escort of three hundred chosen
Spartans called “The Knights”--the sole example of the Spartans
conducting any man from their city.  It is said that on his return to
Athens, Themistocles was reproached by Timodemus of Aphidna, a
Belbinite by origin [92], and an implacable public enemy, with his
visit to Sparta: “The honours awarded you,” said Timodemus, “are
bestowed from respect, not to you, but to Athens.”

“My friend,” retorted the witty chief, “the matter stands thus.  Had I
been a Belbinite, I had not been thus distinguished at Sparta, nor
would you, although you had been born an Athenian!”

While the Greeks were thus occupied, the Persian army had retreated
with Mardonius into Thessaly.  Here that general selected and
marshalled the forces with which he intended to renew the war,
retaining in his service the celebrated Immortals.  The total,
including the cavalry, Herodotus estimates at three hundred thousand

Thus occupied, and ere Xerxes departed from Thessaly, the Spartans,
impelled by an oracle, sent a messenger to Xerxes to demand atonement
for the death of Leonidas.

“Ay,” replied the king, laughing, “this man (pointing to Mardonius)
shall make you fitting retribution.”

Leaving Mardonius in Thessaly, where he proposed to winter, Xerxes now
hastened home.  Sixty thousand Persians under Artabazus accompanied
the king only as far as the passage into Asia; and it was with an
inconsiderable force, which, pressed by famine, devastated the very
herbage on their way, and which a pestilence and the dysentery
diminished as it passed, that the great king crossed the Hellespont,
on which the bridge of boats had already been broken by wind and
storm.  A more abundant supply of provisions than they had yet
experienced tempted the army to excesses, to which many fell victims.
The rest arrived at Sardis with Xerxes, whence he afterward returned
to his more distant capital.

XXII.  The people of Potidaea, on the Isthmus of Pallene, and
Olynthus, inhabited by the Bottiaeans, a dubious and mongrel race,
that boasted their origin from those Athenians who, in the traditional
ages, had been sent as tributary captives to the Cretan Minos, no
sooner learned the dispersion of the fleet at Salamis, and the retreat
of the king, than they openly revolted from the barbarian.  Artabazus,
returning from the Hellespont, laid siege to Olynthus, massacred the
inhabitants, and colonized the town with Chalcidians.  He then sat
down before Potidaea; but a terrible inundation of the sea, with the
sallies of the besieged, destroyed the greater number of the
unfortunate invaders.  The remnant were conducted by Artabazus into
Thessaly, to join the army of Mardonius.  The Persian fleet,
retreating from Salamis, after passing over the king and his forces
from the Chersonese to Abydos, wintered at Cuma; and at the
commencement of the spring assembled at Samos.

Meanwhile the Athenians returned to their dismantled city, and
directed their attention to its repair and reconstruction.  It was
then, too, that in all probability the people hastened, by a formal
and solemn reversal of the sentence of ostracism, to reward the
services of Aristides, and to restore to the commonwealth the most
spotless of its citizens. [93]


Embassy of Alexander of Macedon to Athens.--The Result of his
Proposals.--Athenians retreat to Salamis.--Mardonius occupies Athens.
--The Athenians send Envoys to Sparta.--Pausanias succeeds Cleombrotus
as Regent of Sparta.--Battle of Plataea.--Thebes besieged by the
Athenians.--Battle of Mycale.--Siege of Sestos.--Conclusion of the
Persian War.

I.  The dawning spring and the formidable appearance of Mardonius,
who, with his Persian forces, diminished indeed, but still mighty,
lowered on their confines, aroused the Greeks to a sense of their
danger.  Their army was not as yet assembled, but their fleet,
consisting of one hundred and ten vessels, under the command of
Leotychides, king of Sparta, and Xanthippus of Athens, lay off Aegina.
Thus anchored, there came to the naval commanders certain Chians, who,
having been discovered in a plot against the life of Strattis, a
tyrant imposed upon Chios by the Persians, fled to Aegina.  They
declared that all Ionia was ripe for revolt, and their representations
induced the Greeks to advance as far as the sacred Delos.

Beyond they dared not venture, ignorant alike of the localities of the
country and the forces of the enemy.  Samos seemed to them no less
remote than the Pillars of Hercules, and mutual fear thus kept the
space between the Persian and the Greek fleet free from the advance of
either.  But Mardonius began slowly to stir from his winter lethargy.
Influenced, thought the Greeks, perhaps too fondly, by a Theban
oracle, the Persian general despatched to Athens no less distinguished
an ambassador than Alexander, the king of Macedon.  That prince,
connected with the Persians by alliance (for his sister had married
the Persian Bubares, son of Megabazus), was considered an envoy
calculated to conciliate the Athenians while he served their enemy.
And it was now the object of Mardonius to reconcile the foe whom he
had failed to conquer.  Aware of the Athenian valour, Mardonius
trusted that if he could detach that state from the confederacy, and
prevail on the Athenians to unite their arms to his own, the rest of
Greece would become an easy conquest.  By land he already deemed
himself secure of fortune, by sea what Grecian navy, if deprived of
the flower of its forces, could resist him?

II.  The King of Macedon arrived at Athens; but conscious of the
jealous and anxious fear which the news of an embassy from Persia
would excite among the confederates, the Athenians delayed to grant
him the demanded audience until they had time to send for and obtain
deputies from Sparta to be present at the assembly.

Alexander of Macedon then addressed the Athenians.

“Men of Athens!” said he, “Mardonius informs you, through me, of this
mandate from the king: ‘Whatever injuries,’ saith he, ‘the Athenians
have done me, I forgive.  Restore them their country--let them even
annex to it any other territories they covet--permit them the free
enjoyment of their laws.  If they will ally with me, rebuild the
temples I have burnt.’”

Alexander then proceeded to dilate on the consequences of this
favourable mission, to represent the power of the Persian, and urge
the necessity of an alliance.  “Let my offers prevail with you,” he
concluded, “for to you alone, of all the Greeks, the king extends his
forgiveness, desiring your alliance.”

When Alexander had concluded, the Spartan envoys thus spoke through
their chief, addressing, not the Macedonian, but the Athenians:--“We
have been deputed by the Spartans to entreat you to adopt no measures
prejudicial to Greece, and to receive no conditions from the
barbarians.  This, most iniquitous in itself, would be, above all,
unworthy and ungraceful in you; with you rests the origin of the war
now appertaining to all Greece.  Insufferable, indeed, if the
Athenians, once the authors of liberty to many, were now the authors
of the servitude of Greece.  We commiserate your melancholy condition
--your privation for two years of the fruits of your soil, your homes
destroyed, and your fortunes ruined.  We, the Spartans, and the other
allies, will receive your women and all who may be helpless in the war
while the war shall last.  Let not the Macedonian, smoothing down the
messages of Mardonius, move you.  This becomes him; tyrant himself, he
would assist in a tyrant’s work.  But you will not heed him if you are
wise, knowing that faith and truth are not in the barbarians.”

III.  The answer of the Athenians to both Spartan and Persian, the
substance of which is, no doubt, faithfully preserved to us by
Herodotus, may rank among the most imperishable records of that
high-souled and generous people.

“We are not ignorant,” ran the answer, dictated, and, probably,
uttered by Aristides [94], “that the power of the Mede is many times
greater than our own.  We required not that ostentatious admonition.
Yet, for the preservation of liberty, we will resist that power as we
can.  Cease to persuade us to contract alliance with the barbarian.
Bear back to Mardonius this answer from the Athenians--So long as
yonder sun,” and the orator pointed to the orb [95], “holds the
courses which now it holds--so long will we abjure all amity with
Xerxes--so long, confiding in the aid of our gods and heroes, whose
shrines and altars he hath burnt, will we struggle against him in
battle and for revenge.  And thou, beware how again thou bearest such
proffers to the Athenians; nor, on the plea of benefit to us, urge us
to dishonour; for we would not--ungrateful to thee, our guest and our
friend--have any evil befall to thee from the anger of the Athenians.”

“For you, Spartans! it may be consonant with human nature that you
should fear our alliance with the barbarians--yet shamefully you fear
it, knowing with what spirit we are animated and act.  Gold hath no
amount--earth hath no territory, how beautiful soever--that can tempt
the Athenians to accept conditions from the Mede for the servitude of
Greece.  Were we so inclined, many and mighty are our prohibitions;
first and chiefly, our temples burnt and overthrown, urging us not to
alliance, but to revenge.  Next, the whole race of Greece has one
consanguinity and one tongue, and common are its manners, its altars,
and its gods base indeed, if Athenians were of these the betrayers.
Lastly, learn now, if ye knew it not before, that, while one Athenian
shall survive, Athens allies herself not with Xerxes.”

“We thank you for your providence of us--your offers to protect our
families--afflicted and impoverished as we are.  We will bear,
however, our misfortunes as we may--becoming no burden upon you.  Be
it your care to send your forces to the field.  Let there be no delay.
The barbarian will be on us when he learns that we have rejected his
proposals.  Before he proceed to Attica let us meet him in Boeotia.”

IV.  On receiving this answer from the Athenians the Spartan
ambassadors returned home; and, shortly afterward, Mardonius, by rapid
marches, conducted his army towards Attica; fresh supplies of troops
recruiting his forces wheresoever he passed.  The Thessalian princes,
far from repenting their alliance with Mardonius, animated his ardour.

Arrived in Boeotia, the Thebans endeavoured to persuade the Persian
general to encamp in that territory, and to hazard no battle, but
rather to seek by bribes to the most powerful men in each city, to
detach the confederates from the existent alliance.  Pride, ambition,
and the desire of avenging Xerxes once more upon Athens, deterred
Mardonius from yielding to this counsel.  He marched on to Attica--he
found the territory utterly deserted.  He was informed that the
inhabitants were either at Salamis or with the fleet.  He proceeded to
Athens (B. C. 479), equally deserted, and, ten months after the first
capture by Xerxes, that city a second time was occupied by the Mede.

From Athens Mardonius despatched a Greek messenger to Salamis,
repeating the propositions of Alexander.  On hearing these offers in
council, the Athenians were animated by a species of fury.  A
counsellor named Lycidas having expressed himself in favour of the
terms, he was immediately stoned to death.  The Athenian women, roused
by a similar passion with the men, inflicted the same fate upon his
wife and children--one of those excesses of virtue which become
crimes, but for which exigency makes no despicable excuse. [96]  The
ambassador returned uninjured.

V.  The flight of the Athenians to Salamis had not been a willing
resort.  That gallant people had remained in Attica so long as they
could entertain any expectation of assistance from the Peloponnesus;
nor was it until compelled by despair at the inertness of their
allies, and the appearance of the Persians in Boeotia, that they had
removed to Salamis.

The singular and isolated policy of Sparta, which had curbed and
crippled, to an exclusive regard for Spartans, all the more generous
and daring principles of action, was never, perhaps, so odiously
displayed as in the present indifference to an ally that had so nobly
preferred the Grecian liberties to its own security.  The whole of the
Peloponnesus viewed with apathy the occupation of Attica, and the
Spartans were employed in completing the fortifications of the

The Athenians despatched messengers to Sparta, as did also Megara and
Plataea.  These ambassadors assumed a high and reproachful tone of

They represented the conduct of the Athenians in rejecting the
overtures of the barbarians--they upbraided the Spartans with perfidy
for breaking the agreement to meet the enemy in Boeotia--they declared
the resentment of the Athenians at the violation of this compact,
demanded immediate supplies, and indicated the plains near Thria, a
village in Attica, as a fitting field of battle.

The ephors heard the remonstrance, but from day to day delayed an
answer.  The Spartans, according to Herodotus, were engaged in
celebrating the solemnities in honour of Hyacinthus and Apollo; and
this ceremonial might have sufficed as a plausible cause for
procrastination, according to all the usages and formalities of
Spartan manners.  But perhaps there might be another and a graver
reason for the delayed determination of the ephors.

When the isthmian fortifications were completed, the superstition of
the regent Cleombrotus, who had superintended their construction, was
alarmed by an eclipse, and he led back to Sparta the detachment he had
commanded in that quarter.  He returned but to die; and his son
Pausanias succeeded to the regency during the continued minority of
Pleistarchus, the infant heir of Leonidas [97].  If the funeral
solemnities on the death of a regent were similar to those bestowed
upon a deceased king, we can account at once for the delay of the
ephors, since the ten days which passed without reply to the
ambassadors exactly correspond in number with the ten days dedicated
to public mourning. [98]  But whatever the cause of the Spartan delay
--and the rigid closeness of that oligarchic government kept, in yet
more important matters, its motives and its policy no less a secret to
contemporaneous nations than to modern inquirers--the delay itself
highly incensed the Athenian envoys: they even threatened to treat
with Mardonius, and abandon Sparta to her fate, and at length fixed
the day of their departure.  The ephors roused themselves.  Among the
deputies from the various states, there was then in Sparta that
Chileus of Tegea, who had been scarcely less serviceable than
Themistocles in managing the affairs of Greece in the isthmian
congress.  This able and eminent Arcadian forcibly represented to the
ephors the danger of forfeiting the Athenian alliance, and the
insufficient resistance against the Persian that the fortifications of
the isthmus would afford.  The ephors heard, and immediately acted
with the secrecy and the vigilance that belongs to oligarchies.  That
very night they privately despatched a body of five thousand Spartans
and thirty-five thousand helots (seven to each Spartan), under the
command of Pausanias.

The next morning the ephors calmly replied to the angry threats of the
Athenians, by protesting that their troops were already on the march,
and by this time in Oresteum, a town in Arcadia, about eighteen miles
distant from Sparta.  The astonished deputies [99] hastened to
overtake the Spartan force, and the ephors, as if fully to atone for
their past procrastination, gave them the escort and additional
re-enforcement of five thousand heavy-armed Laconians or Perioeci.

VI.  Mardonius soon learned from the Argives (who, not content with
refusing to join the Greek legion, had held secret communications with
the Persians) of the departure of the Spartan troops.  Hitherto he had
refrained from any outrage on the Athenian lands and city, in the hope
that Athens might yet make peace with him.  He now set fire to Athens,
razed the principal part of what yet remained of the walls and temples
[100], and deeming the soil of Attica ill adapted to his cavalry, and,
from the narrowness of its outlets, disadvantageous in case of
retreat, after a brief incursion into Megara he retired towards
Thebes, and pitched his tents on the banks of the Asopus, extending
from Erythrae to Plataea.  Here his force was swelled by such of the
Greeks as were friendly to his cause.

VII.  Meanwhile the Spartans were joined at the isthmus by the rest of
the Peloponnesian allies.  Solemn sacrifices were ordained, and the
auguries drawn from the victims being favourable, the Greek army
proceeded onward; and, joined at Eleusis by the Athenians, marched to
the foot of Cithaeron, and encamped opposite the Persians, with the
river of the Asopus between the armies.  Aristides commanded the
Athenians, at the head of eight thousand foot; and while the armies
were thus situated, a dangerous conspiracy was detected and defeated
by that able general.

The disasters of the war--the devastation of lands, the burning of
houses--had reduced the fortunes of many of the Athenian nobles.  With
their property diminished their influence.  Poverty, and discontent,
and jealousy of new families rising into repute [101], induced these
men of fallen fortunes to conspire for the abolition of the popular
government at Athens, and, failing that attempt, to betray the cause
to the enemy.

This project spread secretly through the camp, and corrupted numbers;
the danger became imminent.  On the one hand, the conspiracy was not
to be neglected; and, on the other, in such a crisis it might be
dangerous too narrowly to sift a design in which men of mark and
station were concerned.  Aristides acted with a singular prudence.  He
arrested eight of the leaders.  Of these he prosecuted only two (who
escaped during the proceedings), and, dismissing the rest, appealed to
the impending battle as the great tribunal which would acquit them of
the charge and prove their loyalty to the state. [102]

VIII.  Scarce was this conspiracy quelled than the cavalry of the
Persians commenced their operations.  At the head of that skilful and
gallant horse, for which the oriental nations are yet renowned, rode
their chief, Masistius, clad in complete armour of gold, of brass, and
of iron, and noted for the strength of his person and the splendour of
his trappings.  Placed on the rugged declivities of Cithaeron, the
Greeks were tolerably safe from the Persian cavalry, save only the
Megarians, who, to the number of three thousand, were posted along the
plain, and were on all sides charged by that agile and vapid cavalry.
Thus pressed, the Megarians sent to Pausanias for assistance.  The
Spartan beheld the air darkened with shafts and arrows, and knew that
his heavy-armed warriors were ill adapted to act against horse.  He in
vain endeavoured to arouse those about him by appeals to their honour
--all declined the succour of the Megarians--when Aristides, causing
the Athenian to eclipse the Spartan chivalry, undertook the defence.
With three hundred infantry, mixed with archers, Olympiodorus, one of
the ablest of the Athenian officers, advanced eagerly on the

Masistius himself, at the head of his troops, spurred his Nisaean
charger against the new enemy.  A sharp and obstinate conflict ensued;
when the horse of the Persian general, being wounded, threw its rider,
who could not regain his feet from the weight of his armour.  There,
as he lay on the ground, with a swarm of foes around him, the close
scales of his mail protected him from their weapons, until at length a
lance pierced the brain through an opening in his visor.  After an
obstinate conflict for his corpse, the Persians were beaten back to
the camp, where the death of one, second only to Mardonius in
authority and repute, spread universal lamentation and dismay.

The body of Masistius, which, by its vast size and beautiful
proportions, excited the admiration of the victors, remained the prize
of the Greeks; and, placed on a bier, it was borne triumphantly
through the ranks.

IX.  After this victory, Pausanias conducted his forces along the base
of Cithaeron into the neighbourhood of Plataea, which he deemed a more
convenient site for the disposition of his army and the supply of
water.  There, near the fountain of Gargaphia [103], one of the
sources of the Asopus (which splits into many rivulets, bearing a
common name), and renowned in song for the death of the fabulous
Actaeon, nor far from the shrine of an old Plataean hero
(Androcrates), the Greeks were marshalled in regular divisions, the
different nations, some on a gentle acclivity, others along the plain.

In the allotment of the several stations a dispute arose between the
Athenians and the Tegeans.  The latter claimed, from ancient and
traditionary prescription, the left wing (the right being unanimously
awarded to the Spartans), and assumed, in the course of their
argument, an insolent superiority over the Athenians.

“We came here to fight,” answered the Athenians (or Aristides in their
name [104]), “and not to dispute.  But since the Tegeans proclaim
their ancient as well as their modern deeds, fit is it for us to
maintain our precedence over the Arcadians.”

Touching slightly on the ancient times referred to by the Tegeans, and
quoting their former deeds, the Athenians insisted chiefly upon
Marathon; “Yet,” said their orators, or orator, in conclusion, “while
we maintain our right to the disputed post, it becomes us not, at this
crisis, to altercate on the localities of the battle.  Place us, oh
Spartans! wherever seems best to you.  No matter what our station; we
will uphold our honour and your cause.  Command, then--we obey.”

Hearing this generous answer, the Spartan leaders were unanimous in
favour of the Athenians; and they accordingly occupied the left wing.

X.  Thus were marshalled that confederate army, presenting the
strongest force yet opposed to the Persians, and comprising the whole
might and manhood of the free Grecian states; to the right, ten
thousand Lacedaemonians, one half, as we have seen, composed of the
Perioeci, the other moiety of the pure Spartan race--to each warrior
of the latter half were allotted seven armed helots, to each of the
heavy-armed Perioeci one serving-man.  Their whole force was,
therefore, no less than fifty thousand men.  Next to the Spartans (a
kind of compromise of their claim) were the one thousand five hundred
Tegeans; beyond these five thousand Corinthians; and to them
contiguous three hundred Potidaeans of Pallene, whom the inundation of
their seas had saved from the Persian arms.  Next in order, Orchomenus
ranged its six hundred Arcadians; Sicyon sent three thousand,
Epidaurus eight hundred, and Troezene one thousand warriors.
Neighbouring the last were two hundred Lepreatae, and by them four
hundred Myceneans and Tirynthians [105].  Stationed by the Tirynthians
came, in successive order, a thousand Phliasians, three hundred
Hermionians, six hundred Eretrians and Styreans, four hundred
Chalcidians, five hundred Ambracians, eight hundred Leucadians and
Anactorians, two hundred Paleans of Cephallenia, and five hundred only
of the islanders of Aegina.  Three thousand Megarians and six hundred
Plataeans were ranged contiguous to the Athenians, whose force of
eight thousand men, under the command of Aristides, closed the left

Thus the total of the heavy-armed soldiery was thirty-eight thousand
seven hundred.  To these were added the light-armed force of
thirty-five thousand helots and thirty-four thousand five hundred
attendants on the Laconians and other Greeks; the whole amounting to one
hundred and eight thousand two hundred men, besides one thousand eight
hundred Thespians, who, perhaps, on account of the destruction of their
city by the Persian army, were without the heavy arms of their

Such was the force--not insufficient in number, but stronger in heart,
union, the memory of past victories, and the fear of future chains--
that pitched the tent along the banks of the rivulets which confound
with the Asopus their waters and their names.

XI.  In the interim Mardonius had marched from his former post, and
lay encamped on that part of the Asopus nearest to Plataea.  His brave
Persians fronted the Lacedaemonians and Tegeans; and, in successive
order, ranged the Medes and Bactrians, the Indians and the Sacae, the
Boeotians, Locrians, Malians, Thessalians, Macedonians, and the
reluctant aid of a thousand Phocians.  But many of the latter tribe
about the fastnesses of Parnassus, openly siding with the Greeks,
harassed the barbarian outskirts: Herodotus calculates the hostile
force at three hundred and fifty thousand, fifty thousand of which
were composed of Macedonians and Greeks.  And, although the historian
has omitted to deduct from this total the loss sustained by Artabazus
at Potidaea, it is yet most probable that the barbarian nearly trebled
the Grecian army--odds less fearful than the Greeks had already met
and vanquished.

XII.  The armies thus ranged, sacrifices were offered up on both
sides.  It happened, by a singular coincidence, that to either army
was an Elean augur.  The appearance of the entrails forbade both
Persian and Greek to cross the Asopus, and ordained each to act on the

That the Persian chief should have obeyed the dictates of a Grecian
soothsayer is sufficiently probable; partly because a superstitious
people rarely despise the superstitions of another faith, principally
because a considerable part of the invading army, and that perhaps the
bravest and the most skilful, was composed of native Greeks, whose
prejudices it was politic to flatter--perilous to affront.

Eight days were consumed in inactivity, the armies confronting each
other without motion; when Mardonius, in order to cut off the new
forces which every day resorted to the Grecian camp, despatched a body
of cavalry to seize the pass of Cithaeron.  Falling in with a convoy
of five hundred beasts of burden, carrying provisions from the
Peloponnesus, the barbarians, with an inhumanity sufficient, perhaps,
to prove that the detachment was not composed of Persians, properly so
speaking, a mild though gallant people--slaughtered both man and
beast.  The provisions were brought to the Persian camp.

XIII.  During the two following days Mardonius advanced nearer to the
Asopus, and his cavalry (assisted by the Thebans, who were the right
arm of the barbarian army), in repeated skirmishes, greatly harassed
the Greeks with much daring and little injury.

At length Mardonius, either wearied of this inactivity or unable to
repress the spirit of a superior army, not accustomed to receive the
attack, resolved to reject all further compliance with the oracles of
this Elean soothsayer, and, on the following morning, to give battle
to the Greeks.  Acting against one superstition, he sagaciously,
however, sought to enlist on his behalf another; and, from the
decision of a mortal, he appealed to the ambiguous oracles of the
Delphic god, which had ever one interpretation for the enterprise and
another for the success.

XIV.  “The watches of the night were set,” says Herodotus, in his
animated and graphic strain--“the night itself was far advanced--a
universal and utter stillness prevailed throughout the army, buried in
repose--when Alexander, the Macedonian prince, rode secretly from the
Persian camp, and, coming to the outposts of the Athenians, whose line
was immediately opposed to his own, demanded an audience of their
commanders.  This obtained, the Macedonian thus addressed them: ‘I am
come to inform you of a secret you must impart to Pausanias alone.
From remote antiquity I am of Grecian lineage.  I am solicitous of the
safety of Greece.  Long since, but for the auguries, would Mardonius
have given battle.  Regarding these no longer, he will attack you
early on the morning.  Be prepared.  If he change his purpose, remain
as you are--he has provisions only for a few days more.  Should the
event of war prove favourable, you will but deem it fitting to make
some effort for the independence of one who exposes himself to so
great a peril for the purpose of apprizing you of the intentions of
the foe.  I am Alexander of Macedon.’”

“Thus saying, the horseman returned to the Persian camp.”

“The Athenian leaders hastened to Pausanias, and informed him of what
they had heard.”

The Spartan does not appear, according to the strong expressions [106]
of Herodotus, to have received the intelligence with the customary
dauntlessness of his race.  He feared the Persians, he was
unacquainted with their mode of warfare, and he proposed to the
Athenians to change posts with the Lacedaemonians; “For you,” said he,
“have before contended with the Mede, and your experience of their
warfare you learned at Marathon.  We, on the other hand, have fought
against the Boeotians and Thessalians [opposed to the left wing].  Let
us then change our stations.”

At first the Athenian officers were displeased at the offer, not from
terror, but from pride; and it seemed to them as if they were shifted,
like helots, from post to post at the Spartan’s pleasure.  But
Aristides, whose power of persuasion consisted chiefly in appeals, not
to the baser, but the loftier passions, and who, in swaying, exalted
his countrymen--represented to them that the right wing, which the
Spartan proposed to surrender, was, in effect, the station of command.

“And are you,” he said, “not pleased with the honour you obtain, nor
sensible of the advantage of contending, not against the sons of
Greece, but the barbarian invader?” [107]

These words animated those whom the Athenian addressed; they instantly
agreed to exchange posts with the Spartans, and “to fight for the
trophies of Marathon and Salamis.” [108]

XV.  As, in the dead of night, the Athenians marched to their new
station, they exhorted each other to valour and to the recollection of
former victories.  But Mardonius, learning from deserters the change
of position, moved his Persians opposite the Spartans; and Pausanias
again returning to the right, Mardonius pursued a similar manoeuvre.
Thus the day was consumed without an action.  The troops having
resumed their former posts, Mardonius sent a herald to the Spartans,
chiding them for their cowardice, and proposing that an allotted
number meet equal Spartans in battle, and whoever conquered should be
deemed victors over the whole adverse army.

This challenge drew no reply from the Spartans.  And Mardonius,
construing the silence into a proof of fear, already anticipated the
victory.  His cavalry, advancing upon the Greeks, distressed them from
afar and in safety with their shafts and arrows.  They succeeded in
gaining the Gargaphian fountain, which supplied water to the Grecian
army, and choked up the stream.  Thus cut off from water, and, at the
same time, yet more inconvenienced by the want of provisions, the
convoy of which was intercepted by the Persian cavalry, the Grecian
chiefs determined to shift the ground, and occupy a space which, being
surrounded by rivulets, was termed the Island of Oeroe [109], and
afforded an ample supply of water.  This island was about a mile from
their present encampment: thence they proposed to detach half their
army to relieve a convoy of provisions encompassed in the mountains.

About four hours after sunset the army commenced its march; but when
Pausanias gave the word to his Spartans, one officer, named
Amompharetus, obstinately refused to stir.  He alleged the customs and
oaths of Sparta, and declared he would not fly from the barbarian foe,
nor connive at the dishonour of Sparta.

XVI.  Pausanias, though incensed at the obstinacy of the officer, was
unwilling to leave him and his troop to perish; and while the dispute
was still unsettled, the Athenians, suspicious of their ally, “for
they knew well it was the custom of Spartans to say one thing and to
think another,” [110] despatched a horseman to Pausanias to learn the
cause of the delay.  The messenger found the soldiers in their ranks;
the leaders in violent altercation.  Pausanias was arguing with
Amompharetus, when the last, just as the Athenian approached, took up
a huge stone with both hands, and throwing it at the feet of
Pausanias, vehemently exclaimed, “With this calculus I give my
suffrage against flying from the stranger.”  Pausanias, in great
perplexity, bade the Athenian report the cause of the delay, and
implore his countrymen to halt a little, that they might act in
concert.  At length, towards morning, Pausanias resolved, despite
Amompharetus, to commence his march.  All his forces proceeded along
the steep defiles at the base of Cithaeron, from fear of the Persian
cavalry; the more dauntless Athenians along the plain.  Amompharetus,
after impotent attempts to detain his men, was reluctantly compelled
to follow.

XVII.  Mardonius, beholding the vacant ground before him no longer
bristling with the Grecian ranks, loudly vented his disdain of the
cowardice of the fugitives, and instantly led his impatient army over
the Asopus in pursuit.  As yet, the Athenians, who had already passed
the plain, were concealed by the hills; and the Tegeans and
Lacedaemonians were the sole object of attack.

As the troops of Mardonius advanced, the rest of the Persian armament,
deeming the task was now not to fight but to pursue, raised their
standards and poured forward tumultuously, without discipline or

Pausanias, pressed by the Persian line, and if not of a timorous, at
least of an irresolute temper, lost no time in sending to the
Athenians for succour.  But when the latter were on their march with
the required aid, they were suddenly intercepted by the auxiliary
Greeks in the Persian service, and cut off from the rescue of the

The Spartans beheld themselves thus left unsupported with considerable
alarm.  Yet their force, including the Tegeans and helots, was
fifty-three thousand men.  Committing himself to the gods, Pausanias
ordained a solemn sacrifice, his whole army awaiting the result, while
the shafts of the Persian bowmen poured on them near and fast.  But
the entrails presented discouraging omens, and the sacrifice was again
renewed.  Meanwhile the Spartans evinced their characteristic
fortitude and discipline--not one man stirring from his ranks until
the auguries should assume a more favouring aspect; all harassed, and
some wounded, by the Persian arrows, they yet, seeking protection only
beneath their broad bucklers, waited with a stern patience the time of
their leader and of Heaven.  Then fell Callicrates, the stateliest and
strongest soldier in the whole army, lamenting, not death, but that
his sword was as yet undrawn against the invader.

XVIII.  And still sacrifice after sacrifice seemed to forbid the
battle, when Pausanias, lifting his eyes, that streamed with tears, to
the temple of Juno that stood  hard by, supplicated the tutelary
goddess of Cithaeron, that if the fates forbade the Greeks to conquer,
they might at least fall like warriors [111].  And while uttering this
prayer, the tokens waited for became suddenly visible in the victims,
and the augurs announced the promise of coming victory.

Therewith the order of battle rang instantly through the army, and, to
use the poetical comparison of Plutarch, the Spartan phalanx suddenly
stood forth in its strength, like some fierce animal--erecting its
bristles and preparing its vengeance for the foe.  The ground, broken
in many steep and precipitous ridges, and intersected by the Asopus,
whose sluggish stream [112] winds over a broad and rushy bed, was
unfavourable to the movements of cavalry, and the Persian foot
advanced therefore on the Greeks.

Drawn up in their massive phalanx, the Lacedaemonians presented an
almost impenetrable body--sweeping slowly on, compact and serried--
while the hot and undisciplined valour of the Persians, more fortunate
in the skirmish than the battle, broke itself into a thousand waves
upon that moving rock.  Pouring on in small numbers at a time, they
fell fast round the progress of the Greeks--their armour slight
against the strong pikes of Sparta--their courage without skill--their
numbers without discipline; still they fought gallantly, even when on
the ground seizing the pikes with their naked hands, and with the
wonderful agility which still characterizes the oriental swordsman,
springing to their feet and regaining their arms when seemingly
overcome--wresting away their enemies’ shields, and grappling with
them desperately hand to hand.

XIX.  Foremost of a band of a thousand chosen Persians, conspicuous by
his white charger, and still more by his daring valour, rode
Mardonius, directing the attack--fiercer wherever his armour blazed.
Inspired by his presence, the Persians fought worthily of their
warlike fame, and, even in falling, thinned the Spartan ranks.  At
length the rash but gallant leader of the Asiatic armies received a
mortal wound--his scull was crushed in by a stone from the hand of a
Spartan [113].  His chosen band, the boast of the army, fell fighting
round him, but his death was the general signal of defeat and flight.
Encumbered by their long robes, and pressed by the relentless
conquerors, the Persians fled in disorder towards their camp, which
was secured by wooden intrenchments, by gates, and towers, and walls.
Here, fortifying themselves as they best might, they contended
successfully, and with advantage, against the Lacedaemonians, who were
ill skilled in assault and siege.

Meanwhile the Athenians obtained the victory on the plains over the
Greeks of Mardonius--finding their most resolute enemy in the Thebans
(three hundred of whose principal warriors fell in the field)--and now
joined the Spartans at the Persian camp.  The Athenians are said to
have been better skilled in the art of siege than the Spartans; yet at
that time their experience could scarcely have been greater.  The
Athenians were at all times, however, of a more impetuous temper; and
the men who had “run to the charge” at Marathon were not to be baffled
by the desperate remnant of their ancient foe.  They scaled the walls
--they effected a breach through which the Tegeans were the first to
rush--the Greeks poured fast and fierce into the camp.  Appalled,
dismayed, stupefied by the suddenness and greatness of their loss, the
Persians no longer sustained their fame--they dispersed themselves in
all directions, falling, as they fled, with a prodigious slaughter, so
that out of that mighty armament scarce three thousand effected an
escape.  We must except, however, the wary and distrustful Artabazus,
who, on the first tokens of defeat, had fled with the forty thousand
Parthians and Chorasmians he commanded towards Phocis, in the
intention to gain the Hellespont.  The Mantineans arrived after the
capture of the camp, too late for their share of glory; they
endeavoured to atone the loss by the pursuit of Artabazus, which was,
however, ineffectual.  The Eleans arrived after the Mantineans.  The
leaders of both these people were afterward banished.

XX.  An Aeginetan proposed to Pausanias to inflict on the corpse of
Mardonius the same insult which Xerxes had put upon the body of

The Spartan indignantly refused.  “After elevating my country to
fame,” said he, “would you have me depress it to infamy by vengeance
on the body of the dead?  Leonidas and Thermopylae are sufficiently
avenged by this mighty overthrow of the living.”

The body of that brave and ill-fated general, the main author of the
war, was removed the next day--by whose piety and to what sepulchre is
unknown.  The tomb of his doubtful fame is alone eternally visible
along the plains of Plataea, and above the gray front of the
imperishable Cithaeron!

XXI.  The victory won (September, B. C. 479), the conquerors were
dazzled by the gorgeous plunder which remained--tents and couches
decorated with precious metals--cups, and vessels, and sacks of gold--
and the dead themselves a booty, from the costly ornaments of their
chains and bracelets, and cimeters vainly splendid--horses, and
camels, and Persian women, and all the trappings and appliances by
which despotism made a luxury of war.

Pausanias forbade the booty to be touched [114], and directed the
helots to collect the treasure in one spot.  But those dexterous
slaves secreted many articles of value, by the purchase of which
several of the Aeginetans, whose avarice was sharpened by a life of
commerce, enriched themselves--obtaining gold at the price of brass.

Piety dedicated to the gods a tenth part of the booty--from which was
presented to the shrine of Delphi a golden tripod, resting on a
three-headed snake of brass; to the Corinthian Neptune a brazen state of
the deity, seven cubits high; and to the Jupiter of Olympia a statue of
ten cubits.  Pausanias obtained also a tenth of the produce in each
article of plunder--horses and camels, women and gold--a prize which
ruined in rewarding him.  The rest was divided among the soldiers,
according to their merit.

So much, however, was left unappropriated in the carelessness of
satiety, that, in after times, the battlefield still afforded to the
search of the Plataeans chests of silver and gold, and other

XXIL Taking possession of the tent of Mardonius, which had formerly
been that of Xerxes, Pausanias directed the oriental slaves who had
escaped the massacre to prepare a banquet after the fashion of the
Persians, and as if served to Mardonius.  Besides this gorgeous feast,
the Spartan ordered his wonted repast to be prepared; and then,
turning to the different chiefs, exclaimed--“See the folly of the
Persian, who forsook such splendour to plunder such poverty.”

The story has in it something of the sublime.  But the austere Spartan
was soon corrupted by the very luxuries he affected to disdain.  It is
often that we despise to-day what we find it difficult to resist

XXIII.  The task of reward to the living completed, the Greeks
proceeded to that of honour to the dead.  In three trenches the
Lacedaemonians were interred; one contained those who belonged to a
class in Sparta called the Knights [115], of whom two hundred had
conducted Themistocles to Tegea (among these was the stubborn
Amompharetus); the second, the other Spartans; the third, the helots.
The Athenians, Tegeans, Megarians, Phliasians, each had their single
and separate places of sepulture, and, over all, barrows of earth were
raised.  Subsequently, tribes and states, that had shared indeed the
final battle or the previous skirmishes, but without the glory of a
loss of life, erected cenotaphs to imaginary dead in that illustrious
burial-field.  Among those spurious monuments was one dedicated to the
Aeginetans.  Aristodemus, the Spartan who had returned safe from
Thermopylae, fell at Plataea, the most daring of the Greeks on that
day, voluntarily redeeming a dishonoured life by a glorious death.
But to his manes alone of the Spartan dead no honours were decreed.

XXIV.  Plutarch relates that a dangerous dispute ensued between the
Spartans and Athenians as to their relative claim to the Aristeia, or
first military honours; the question was decided by awarding them to
the Plataeans--a state of which none were jealous; from a similar
motive, ordinary men are usually found possessed of the honours due to
the greatest.

More important than the Aristeia, had the spirit been properly
maintained, were certain privileges then conferred on Plataea.
Thither, in a subsequent assembly of the allies, it was proposed by
Aristides that deputies from the states of Greece should be annually
sent to sacrifice to Jupiter the Deliverer, and confer upon the
general politics of Greece.  There, every fifth year, should be
celebrated games in honour of Liberty; while the Plataeans themselves,
exempted from military service, should be deemed, so long as they
fulfilled the task thus imposed upon them, a sacred and inviolable
people.  Thus Plataea nominally became a second Elis--its battle-field
another Altis.  Aristides, at the same time, sought to enforce the
large and thoughtful policy commenced by Themistocles.  He endeavoured
to draw the jealous states of Greece into a common and perpetual
league, maintained against all invaders by a standing force of one
thousand cavalry, one hundred ships, and ten thousand heavy-armed

XXV.  An earnest and deliberate council was now held, in which it was
resolved to direct the victorious army against Thebes, and demand the
persons of those who had sided with the Mede.  Fierce as had been the
hostility of that state to the Hellenic liberties, its sin was that of
the oligarchy rather than the people.  The most eminent of these
traitors to Greece were Timagenidas and Attaginus, and the allies
resolved to destroy the city unless those chiefs were given up to

On the eleventh day from the battle they sat down before Thebes, and
on the refusal of the inhabitants to surrender the chiefs so justly
obnoxious, laid waste the Theban lands.

Whatever we may think of the conduct of Timagenidas in espousing the
cause of the invaders of Greece, we must give him the praise of a
disinterested gallantry, which will remind the reader of the siege of
Calais by Edward III., and the generosity of Eustace de St. Pierre.
He voluntarily proposed to surrender himself to the besiegers.

The offer was accepted: Timagenidas and several others were delivered
to Pausanias, removed to Corinth, and there executed--a stern but
salutary example.  Attaginus saved himself by flight.  His children,
given up to Pausanias, were immediately dismissed.  “Infants,” said
the Spartan, “could not possibly have conspired against us with the

While Thebes preserved herself from destruction, Artabazus succeeded
in effecting his return to Asia, his troop greatly reduced by the
attacks of the Thracians, and the excesses of famine and fatigue.

XXVI.  On the same day as that on which the battle of Plataea crushed
the land-forces of Persia, a no less important victory was gained over
their fleet at Mycale in Ionia.

It will be remembered that Leotychides, the Spartan king, and the
Athenian Xanthippus, had conducted the Grecian navy to Delos.  There
anchored, they received a deputation from Samos, among whom was
Hegesistratus, the son of Aristagoras.  These ambassadors declared
that all the Ionians waited only the moment to revolt from the Persian
yoke, and that the signal would be found in the first active measures
of the Grecian confederates.  Leotychides, induced by these
representations, received the Samians into the general league, and set
sail to Samos.  There, drawn up in line of battle, near the temple of
Juno, they prepared to hazard an engagement.

But the Persians, on their approach, retreated to the continent, in
order to strengthen themselves with their land-forces, which, to the
amount of sixty thousand, under the command of the Persian Tigranes,
Xerxes had stationed at Mycale for the protection of Ionia.

Arrived at Mycale, they drew their ships to land, fortifying them with
strong intrenchments and barricades, and then sanguinely awaited the

The Greeks, after a short consultation, resolved upon pursuit.
Approaching the enemy’s station, they beheld the sea deserted, the
ships secured by intrenchments, and long ranks of infantry ranged
along the shore.  Leotychides, by a herald, exhorted the Ionians in
the Persian service to remember their common liberties, and that on
the day of battle their watchword would be “Hebe.”

The Persians, distrusting these messages, though uttered in a tongue
they understood not, and suspecting the Samians, took their arms from
the latter; and, desirous of removing the Milesians to a distance,
intrusted them with the guard of the paths to the heights of Mycale.
Using these precautions against the desertion of their allies, the
Persians prepared for battle.

The Greeks were anxious and fearful not so much for themselves as for
their countrymen in Boeotia, opposed to the mighty force of Mardonius.
But a report spreading through the camp that a complete victory had
been obtained in that territory (an artifice, most probably, of
Leotychides), animated their courage and heightened their hopes.

The Athenians, who, with the troops of Corinth, Sicyon, and Troezene,
formed half the army, advanced by the coast and along the plain--the
Lacedaemonians by the more steep and wooded courses; and while the
latter were yet on their march, the Athenians were already engaged at
the intrenchments (Battle of Mycale, September, B. C. 479).

Inspired not more by enmity than emulation, the Athenians urged each
other to desperate feats--that they, and not the Spartans, might have
the honours of the day.  They poured fiercely on--after an obstinate
and equal conflict, drove back the foe to the barricades that girt
their ships, stormed the intrenchments, carried the wall, and, rushing
in with their allies, put the barbarians to disorderly and rapid
flight.  The proper Persians, though but few in number, alone stood
their ground--and even when Tigranes himself was slain, resolutely
fought on until the Lacedaemonians entered the intrenchment, and all
who had survived the Athenian, perished by the Spartan, sword.

The disarmed Samians, as soon as the fortunes of the battle became
apparent, gave all the assistance they could render to the Greeks; the
other Ionians seized the same opportunity to revolt and turn their
arms against their allies.  In the mountain defiles the Milesians
intercepted their own fugitive allies, consigning them to the Grecian
sword, and active beyond the rest in their slaughter.  So relentless
and so faithless are men, compelled to servitude, when the occasion
summons them to be free.

XXVII.  This battle, in which the Athenians were pre-eminently
distinguished, was followed up by the conflagration of the Persian
ships and the collection of the plunder.  The Greeks then retired to
Samos.  Here deliberating, it was proposed by the Peloponnesian
leaders that Ionia should henceforth, as too dangerous and remote to
guard, be abandoned to the barbarian, and that, in recompense, the
Ionians should be put into possession of the maritime coasts of those
Grecian states which had sided with the Mede.  The Athenians resisted
so extreme a proposition, and denied the power of the Peloponnesians
to dispose of Athenian colonies.  The point was surrendered by the
Peloponnesians; the Ionians of the continent were left to make their
own terms with the barbarian, but the inhabitants of the isles which
had assisted against the Mede were received into the general
confederacy, bound by a solemn pledge never to desert it.  The fleet
then sailed to the Hellespont, with the design to destroy the bridge,
which they believed still existent.  Finding it, however, already
broken, Leotychides and the Peloponnesians returned to Greece.  The
Athenians resolved to attempt the recovery of the colony of Miltiades
in the Chersonese.  The Persians collected their whole remaining force
at the strongest hold in that peninsula--the Athenians laid siege to
it (begun in the autumn, B. C. 479, concluded in the spring, B. C.
478), and, after enduring a famine so obstinate that the cordage, or
rather straps, of their bedding were consumed for food, the Persians
evacuated the town, which the inhabitants then cheerfully surrendered.

Thus concluding their victories, the Athenians returned to Greece,
carrying with them a vast treasure, and, not the least precious
relics, the fragments and cables of the Hellespontic bridge, to be
suspended in their temples.

XXVIII.  Lingering at Sardis, Xerxes beheld the scanty and exhausted
remnants of his mighty force, the fugitives of the fatal days of
Mycale and Plataea.  The army over which he had wept in the zenith of
his power, had fulfilled the prediction of his tears: and the armed
might of Media and Egypt, of Lydia and Assyria, was now no more!

So concluded the great Persian invasion--that war the most memorable
in the history of mankind, whether from the vastness or from the
failure of its designs.  We now emerge from the poetry that belongs to
early Greece, through the mists of which the forms of men assume
proportions as gigantic as indistinct.  The enchanting Herodotus
abandons us, and we do not yet permanently acquire, in the stead of
his romantic and wild fidelity, the elaborate and sombre statesmanship
of the calm Thucydides.  Henceforth we see more of the beautiful and
the wise, less of the wonderful and vast.  What the heroic age is to
tradition, the Persian invasion is to history.


B. C. 479--B. C. 449.


Remarks on the Effects of War.--State of Athens.--Interference of
Sparta with respect to the Fortifications of Athens.--Dexterous
Conduct of Themistocles.--The New Harbour of the Piraeus.--Proposition
of the Spartans in the Amphictyonic Council defeated by Themistocles.
--Allied Fleet at Cyprus and Byzantium.--Pausanias.--Alteration in his
Character.--His ambitious Views and Treason.--The Revolt of the
Ionians from the Spartan Command.--Pausanias recalled.--Dorcis
replaces him.--The Athenians rise to the Head of the Ionian League.--
Delos made the Senate and Treasury of the Allies.--Able and prudent
Management of Aristides.--Cimon succeeds to the Command of the Fleet.
--Character of Cimon.--Eion besieged.--Scyros colonized by Atticans.--
Supposed Discovery of the Bones of Theseus.--Declining Power of
Themistocles.--Democratic Change in the Constitution.--Themistocles
ostracised.--Death of Aristides.

I.  It is to the imperishable honour of the French philosophers of the
last century, that, above all the earlier teachers of mankind, they
advocated those profound and permanent interests of the human race
which are inseparably connected with a love of PEACE; that they
stripped the image of WAR of the delusive glory which it took, in the
primitive ages of society, from the passions of savages and the
enthusiasm of poets, and turned our contemplation from the fame of the
individual hero to the wrongs of the butchered millions.  But their
zeal for that HUMANITY, which those free and bold thinkers were the
first to make the vital principle of a philosophical school, led them
into partial and hasty views, too indiscriminately embraced by their
disciples; and, in condemning the evils, they forgot the advantages of
war.  The misfortunes of one generation are often necessary to the
prosperity of another.  The stream of blood fertilizes the earth over
which it flows, and war has been at once the scourge and the civilizer
of the world: sometimes it enlightens the invader, sometimes the
invaded; and forces into sudden and brilliant action the arts and the
virtues that are stimulated by the invention of necessity--matured by
the energy of distress.  What adversity is to individuals, war often
is to nations: uncertain in its consequences, it is true that, with
some, it subdues and crushes, but with others it braces and exalts.
Nor are the greater and more illustrious elements of character in men
or in states ever called prominently forth, without something of that
bitter and sharp experience which hardens the more robust properties
of the mind, which refines the more subtle and sagacious.  Even when
these--the armed revolutions of the world--are most terrible in their
results--destroying the greatness and the liberties of one people--
they serve, sooner or later, to produce a counteracting rise and
progress in the fortunes of another; as the sea here advances, there
recedes, swallowing up the fertilities of this shore to increase the
territories of that; and fulfilling, in its awful and appalling
agency, that mandate of human destinies which ordains all things to be
changed and nothing to be destroyed.  Without the invasion of Persia,
Greece might have left no annals, and the modern world might search in
vain for inspirations from the ancient.

II.  When the deluge of the Persian arms rolled back to its Eastern
bed, and the world was once more comparatively at rest, the continent
of Greece rose visibly and majestically above the rest of the
civilized earth.  Afar in the Latian plains, the infant state of Rome
was silently and obscurely struggling into strength against the
neighbouring and petty states in which the old Etrurian civilization
was rapidly passing to decay.  The genius of Gaul and Germany, yet
unredeemed from barbarism, lay scarce known, save where colonized by
Greeks, in the gloom of its woods and wastes.  The pride of Carthage
had been broken by a signal defeat in Sicily; and Gelo, the able and
astute tyrant of Syracuse, maintained in a Grecian colony the
splendour of the Grecian name.

The ambition of Persia, still the great monarchy of the world, was
permanently checked and crippled; the strength of generations had been
wasted, and the immense extent of the empire only served yet more to
sustain the general peace, from the exhaustion of its forces.  The
defeat of Xerxes paralyzed the East.

Thus Greece was left secure, and at liberty to enjoy the tranquillity
it had acquired, and to direct to the arts of peace the novel and
amazing energies which had been prompted by the dangers and exalted by
the victories of war.

III.  The Athenians, now returned to their city, saw before them the
arduous task of rebuilding its ruins and restoring its wasted lands.
The vicissitudes of the war had produced many silent and internal as
well as exterior changes.  Many great fortunes had been broken; and
the ancient spirit of the aristocracy had received no inconsiderable
shock in the power of new families; the fame of the baseborn and
democratic Themistocles, and the victories which a whole people had
participated, broke up much of the prescriptive and venerable sanctity
attached to ancestral names and to particular families.  This was
salutary to the spirit of enterprise in all classes.  The ambition of
the great was excited to restore, by some active means, their broken
fortunes and decaying influence--the energies of the humbler ranks,
already aroused by their new importance, were stimulated to maintain
and to increase it.  It was the very crisis in which a new direction
might be given to the habits and the character of a whole people; and
to seize all the advantages of that crisis, fate, in Themistocles, had
allotted to Athens a man whose qualities were not only pre-eminently
great in themselves, but peculiarly adapted to the circumstances of
the time.  And, as I have elsewhere remarked, it is indeed the nature
and prerogative of free states to concentrate the popular will into
something of the unity of despotism, by producing, one after another,
a series of representatives of the wants and exigences of the hour--
each leading his generation, but only while he sympathizes with its
will; and either baffling or succeeded by his rivals, not in
proportion as he excels or he is outshone in genius, but as he gives
or ceases to give to the widest range of the legislative power the
most concentrated force of the executive; thus uniting the desires of
the greatest number under the administration of the narrowest possible
control; the constitution popular--the government absolute, but,

IV.  In the great events of the late campaign, we have lost sight of
the hero of Salamis [116].  But the Persian war was no sooner ended
than we find Themistocles the most prominent citizen of Athens--a
sufficient proof that his popularity had not yet diminished, and that
his absence from Plataea was owing to no popular caprice or party

V.  In the sweeping revenge of Mardonius, even private houses had been
destroyed, excepting those which had served as lodgments for the
Persian nobles [117].  Little of the internal city, less of the
outward walls was spared.  As soon as the barbarians had quitted their
territory, the citizens flocked back with their slaves and families
from the various places of refuge; and the first care was to rebuild
the city.  They were already employed upon this necessary task, when
ambassadors arrived from Sparta, whose vigilant government, ever
jealous of a rival, beheld with no unreasonable alarm the increasing
navy and the growing fame of a people hitherto undeniably inferior to
the power of Lacedaemon.  And the fear that was secretly cherished by
that imperious nation was yet more anxiously nursed by the subordinate
allies [118].  Actuated by their own and the general apprehensions,
the Spartans therefore now requested the Athenians to desist from the
erection of their walls.  Nor was it without a certain grace, and a
plausible excuse, that the government of a city, itself unwalled,
inveighed against the policy of walls for Athens.  The Spartan
ambassadors urged that fortified towns would become strongholds to
the barbarian, should he again invade them; and the walls of Athens
might be no less useful to him than he had found the ramparts of
Thebes.  The Peloponnesus, they asserted, was the legitimate retreat
and the certain resource of all; and, unwilling to appear exclusively
jealous of Athens, they requested the Athenians not only to desist
from their own fortifications, but to join with them in razing every
fortification without the limit of the Peloponnesus.

It required not a genius so penetrating as that of Themistocles to
divine at once the motive of the demand, and the danger of a
peremptory refusal.  He persuaded the Athenians to reply that they
would send ambassadors to debate the affair; and dismissed the
Spartans without further explanation.  Themistocles next recommended
to the senate [119] that he himself might be one of the ambassadors
sent to Sparta, and that those associated with him in the mission (for
it was not the custom of Greece to vest embassies in individuals)
should be detained at Athens until the walls were carried to a height
sufficient, at least, for ordinary defence.  He urged his countrymen
to suspend for this great task the completion of all private edifices
--nay, to spare no building, private or public, from which materials
might be adequately selected.  The whole population, slaves, women,
and children, were to assist in the labour.

VI.  This counsel adopted, he sketched an outline of the conduct he
himself intended to pursue, and departed for Sparta.  His colleagues,
no less important than Aristides, and Abronychus, a distinguished
officer in the late war, were to follow at the time agreed on.

Arrived in the Laconian capital, Themistocles demanded no public
audience, avoided all occasions of opening the questions in dispute,
and screened the policy of delay beneath the excuse that his
colleagues were not yet arrived--that he was incompetent to treat
without their counsel and concurrence--and that doubtless they would
speedily appear in Sparta.

When we consider the shortness of the distance between the states, the
communications the Spartans would receive from the neighbouring
Aeginetans, more jealous than themselves, and the astute and
proverbial sagacity of the Spartan council--it is impossible to
believe that, for so long a period as, with the greatest expedition,
must have elapsed from the departure of Themistocles to the necessary
progress in the fortifications, the ephors could have been ignorant of
the preparations at Athens or the designs of Themistocles.  I fear,
therefore, that we must believe, with Theopompus [120], that
Themistocles, the most expert briber of his time, heightened that
esteem which Thucydides assures us the Spartans bore him, by private
and pecuniary negotiations with the ephors.  At length, however, such
decided and unequivocal intelligence of the progress of the walls
arrived at Sparta, that the ephors could no longer feel or affect

Themistocles met the remonstrances of the Spartans by an appearance of
candour mingled with disdain.  “Why,” said he, “give credit to these
idle rumours?  Send to Athens some messengers of your own, in whom you
can confide; let them inspect matters with their own eyes, and report
to you accordingly.”

The ephors (not unreluctantly, if the assertion of Theopompus may be
credited) yielded to so plausible a suggestion, and in the mean while
the crafty Athenian despatched a secret messenger to Athens, urging
the government to detain the Spartan ambassadors with as little
semblance of design as possible, and by no means to allow their
departure until the safe return of their own mission to Sparta.  For
it was by no means improbable that, without such hostages, even the
ephors, however powerful and however influenced, might not be enabled,
when the Spartans generally were made acquainted with the deceit
practised upon them, to prevent the arrest of the Athenian delegates.

At length the walls, continued night and day with incredible zeal and
toil, were sufficiently completed; and disguise, no longer possible,
was no longer useful.  Themistocles demanded the audience he had
hitherto deferred, and boldly avowed that Athens was now so far
fortified as to protect its citizens.  “In future,” he added,
haughtily, “when Sparta or our other confederates send ambassadors to
Athens, let them address us as a people well versed in our own
interests and the interests of our common Greece.  When we deserted
Athens for our ships, we required and obtained no Lacedaemonian
succours to support our native valour; in all subsequent measures, to
whom have we shown ourselves inferior, whether in the council or the
field?  At present we have judged it expedient to fortify our city,
rendering it thus more secure for ourselves and our allies.  Nor would
it be possible, with a strength inferior to that of any rival power,
adequately to preserve and equally to adjust the balance of the
liberties of Greece.” [122]

Contending for this equality, he argued that either all the cities in
the Lacedaemonian league should be dismantled of their fortresses, or
that it should be conceded, that in erecting fortresses for herself
Athens had rightly acted.

VII.  The profound and passionless policy of Sparta forbade all
outward signs of unavailing and unreasonable resentment.  The
Spartans, therefore, replied with seeming courtesy, that “in their
embassy they had not sought to dictate, but to advise--that their
object was the common good;” and they accompanied their excuses with
professions of friendship for Athens, and panegyrics on the Athenian
valour in the recent war.  But the anger they forbore to show only
rankled the more bitterly within. [123]

The ambassadors of either state returned home; and thus the mingled
firmness and craft of Themistocles, so well suited to the people with
whom he had to deal, preserved his country from the present jealousies
of a yet more deadly and implacable foe than the Persian king, and
laid the foundation of that claim of equality with the most eminent
state of Greece, which he hastened to strengthen and enlarge.

The ardour of the Athenians in their work of fortification had spared
no material which had the recommendation of strength.  The walls
everywhere presented, and long continued to exhibit, an evidence of
the haste in which they were built.  Motley and rough hewn, and
uncouthly piled, they recalled, age after age, to the traveller the
name of the ablest statesman and the most heroic days of Athens.
There, at frequent intervals, would he survey stones wrought in the
rude fashion of former times--ornaments borrowed from the antique
edifices demolished by the Mede--and frieze and column plucked from
dismantled sepulchres; so that even the dead contributed from their
tombs to the defence of Athens.

VIII.  Encouraged by the new popularity and honours which followed the
success of his mission, Themistocles now began to consummate the vast
schemes he had formed, not only for the aggrandizement of his country,
but for the change in the manners of the citizens.  All that is left
to us of this wonderful man proves that, if excelled by others in
austere virtue or in dazzling accomplishment, he stands unrivalled for
the profound and far-sighted nature of his policy.  He seems, unlike
most of his brilliant countrymen, to have been little influenced by
the sallies of impulse or the miserable expediencies of faction--his
schemes denote a mind acting on gigantic systems; and it is
astonishing with what virtuous motives and with what prophetic art he
worked through petty and (individually considered) dishonest means to
grand and permanent results.  He stands out to the gaze of time, the
model of what a great and fortunate statesman should be, so long as
mankind have evil passions as well as lofty virtues, and the state
that he seeks to serve is surrounded by powerful and restless foes,
whom it is necessary to overreach where it is dangerous to offend.

In the year previous to the Persian war, Themistocles had filled the
office of archon [124], and had already in that year planned the
construction of a harbour in the ancient deme of Piraeus [125], for
the convenience of the fleet which Athens had formed.  Late events had
frustrated the continuance of the labour, and Themistocles now
resolved to renew and complete it, probably on a larger and more
elaborate scale.

The port of Phalerun had hitherto been the main harbour of Athens--one
wholly inadequate to the new navy she had acquired; another inlet,
Munychia, was yet more inconvenient.  But equally at hand was the
capacious, though neglected port of Piraeus, so formed by nature as to
permit of a perfect fortification against a hostile fleet.  Of
Piraeus, therefore, Themistocles now designed to construct the most
ample and the most advantageous harbour throughout all Greece.  He
looked upon this task as the foundation of his favourite and most
ambitious project, viz., the securing to Athens the sovereignty of the
sea. [126]

The completion of the port--the increased navy which the construction
of the new harbour would induce--the fame already acquired by Athens
in maritime warfare, encouraging attention to naval discipline and
tactics--proffered a splendid opening to the ambition of a people at
once enterprising and commercial.  Themistocles hoped that the results
of his policy would enable the Athenians to gain over their own
offspring, the Ionian colonies, and by their means to deliver from the
Persian yoke, and permanently attach to the Athenian interest, all the
Asiatic Greeks.  Extending his views, he beheld the various insular
states united to Athens by a vast maritime power, severing themselves
from Lacedaemon, and following the lead of the Attican republic.  He
saw his native city thus supplanting, by a naval force, the long-won
pre-eminence and iron supremacy of Sparta upon land, and so extending
her own empire, while she sapped secretly and judiciously the
authority of the most formidable of her rivals.

IX.  But in the execution of these grand designs Themistocles could
not but anticipate considerable difficulties: first, in the jealousy
of the Spartans; and, secondly, in the popular and long-rooted
prejudices of the Athenians themselves.  Hitherto they had discouraged
maritime affairs, and their more popular leaders had directed
attention to agricultural pursuits.  We may suppose, too, that the
mountaineers, or agricultural party, not the least powerful, would
resist so great advantages to the faction of the coastmen, if
acquainted with all the results which the new policy would produce.
Nor could so experienced a leader of mankind be insensible of those
often not insalutary consequences of a free state in the changing
humours of a wide democracy--their impatience at pecuniary demands--
their quick and sometimes uncharitable apprehensions of the motives of
their advisers.  On all accounts it was necessary, therefore, to act
with as much caution as the task would admit--rendering the design
invidious neither to foreign nor to domestic jealousies.  Themistocles
seemed to have steered his course through every difficulty with his
usual address.  Stripping the account of Diodorus [127] of its
improbable details, it appears credible at least that Themistocles
secured, in the first instance, the co-operation of Xanthippus and
Aristides, the heads of the great parties generally opposed to his
measures, and that he won the democracy to consent that the outline of
his schemes should not be submitted to the popular assembly, but to
the council of Five Hundred.  It is perfectly clear, however, that, as
soon as the plan was carried into active operation, the Athenians
could not, as Diodorus would lead us to suppose, have been kept in
ignorance of its nature; and all of the tale of Diodorus to which we
can lend our belief is, that the people permitted the Five Hundred to
examine the project, and that the popular assembly ratified the
approbation of that senate without inquiring the reasons upon which it
was founded.

X.  The next care of Themistocles was to anticipate the jealousy of
Sparta, and forestall her interference.  According to Diodorus, he
despatched, therefore, ambassadors to Lacedaemon, representing the
advantages of forming a port which might be the common shelter of
Greece should the barbarian renew his incursions; but it is so obvious
that Themistocles could hardly disclose to Sparta the very project he
at first concealed from the Athenians, that while we may allow the
fact that Themistocles treated with the Spartans, we must give him
credit, at least, for more crafty diplomacy than that ascribed to him
by Diodorus [128].  But whatever the pretexts with which he sought to
amuse or beguile the Spartan government, they appear at least to have
been successful.  And the customary indifference of the Spartans
towards maritime affairs was strengthened at this peculiar time by
engrossing anxieties as to the conduct of Pausanias.  Thus
Themistocles, safe alike from foreign and from civil obstacles,
pursued with activity the execution of his schemes.  The Piraeus was
fortified by walls of amazing thickness, so as to admit two carts
abreast.  Within, the entire structure was composed of solid masonry,
hewn square, so that each stone fitted exactly, and was further
strengthened on the outside by cramps of iron.  The walls were never
carried above half the height originally proposed.  But the whole was
so arranged as to form a fortress against assault, too fondly deemed
impregnable, and to be adequately manned by the smallest possible
number of citizens; so that the main force might, in time of danger,
be spared to the fleet.

Thus Themistocles created a sea-fortress more important than the city
itself, conformably to the advice he frequently gave to the Athenians,
that, if hard pressed by land, they should retire to this arsenal, and
rely, against all hostilities, on their naval force. [129]

The new port, which soon bore the ambitious title of the Lower City,
was placed under the directions of Hippodamus, a Milesian, who,
according to Aristotle [130], was the first author who, without any
knowledge of practical affairs, wrote upon the theory of government.
Temples [131], a market-place, even a theatre, distinguished and
enriched the new town.  And the population that filled it were not
long before they contracted and established a character for themselves
different in many traits and attributes from the citizens of the
ancient Athens--more bold, wayward, innovating, and tumultuous.

But if Sparta deemed it prudent, at present, to avoid a direct
assumption of influence over Athens, her scheming councils were no
less bent, though by indirect and plausible means, to the extension of
her own power.  To use the simile applied to one of her own chiefs,
where the lion’s skin fell short, she sought to eke it by the fox’s.

At the assembly of the Amphictyons, the Lacedaemonian delegates moved
that all those states who had not joined in the anti-Persic
confederacy should be expelled the council.  Under this popular and
patriotic proposition was sagaciously concealed the increase of the
Spartan authority; for had the Thessalians, Argives, and Thebans
(voices ever counter to the Lacedaemonians) been expelled the
assembly, the Lacedaemonian party would have secured the preponderance
of votes, and the absolute dictation of that ancient council. [132]

But Themistocles, who seemed endowed with a Spartan sagacity for the
foiling the Spartan interests, resisted the proposition by arguments
no less popular.  He represented to the delegates that it was unjust
to punish states for the errors of their leaders--that only thirty-one
cities had contributed to the burden of the war, and many of those
inconsiderable--that it was equally dangerous and absurd to exclude
from the general Grecian councils the great proportion of the Grecian

The arguments of Themistocles prevailed, but his success stimulated
yet more sharply against him the rancour of the Lacedaemonians; and,
unable to resist him abroad, they thenceforth resolved to undermine
his authority at home.

XI.  While, his danger invisible, Themistocles was increasing with his
own power that of the state, the allies were bent on new enterprises
and continued retribution.  From Persia, now humbled and exhausted, it
was the moment to wrest the Grecian towns, whether in Europe or in
Asia, over which she yet arrogated dominion--it was resolved,
therefore, to fit out a fleet, to which the Peloponnesus contributed
twenty and Athens thirty vessels.  Aristides presided over the latter;
Pausanias was commander-in-chief; many other of the allies joined the
expedition.  They sailed to Cyprus, and reduced with ease most of the
towns in that island.  Thence proceeding to Byzantium, the main
strength and citadel of Persia upon those coasts, and the link between
her European and Asiatic dominions, they blockaded the town and
ultimately carried it.

But these foreign events, however important in themselves, were
trifling in comparison with a revolution which accompanied them, and
which, in suddenly raising Athens to the supreme command of allied
Greece, may be regarded at once as the author of the coming greatness
--and the subsequent reverses--of that republic.

XII.  The habits of Sparta--austere, stern, unsocial--rendered her
ever more effectual in awing foes than conciliating allies; and the
manners of the soldiery were at this time not in any way redeemed or
counterbalanced by those of the chief.  Since the battle of Plataea a
remarkable change was apparent in Pausanias.  Glory had made him
arrogant, and sudden luxury ostentatious.  He had graven on the golden
tripod, dedicated by the confederates to the Delphic god, an
inscription, claiming exclusively to himself, as the general of the
Grecian army, the conquest of the barbarians--an egotism no less at
variance with the sober pride of Sparta, than it was offensive to the
just vanity of the allies.  The inscription was afterward erased by
the Spartan government, and another, citing only the names of the
confederate cities, and silent as to that of Pausanias, was
substituted in its place.

XIII.  To a man of this arrogance, and of a grasping and already
successful ambition, circumstances now presented great and
irresistible temptation.  Though leader of the Grecian armies, he was
but the uncle and proxy of the young Spartan king--the time must come
when his authority would cease, and the conqueror of the superb
Mardonius sink into the narrow and severe confines of a Spartan
citizen.  Possessed of great talents and many eminent qualities, they
but served the more to discontent him with the limits of their
legitimate sphere and sterility of the Spartan life.  And this
discontent, operating on a temper naturally haughty, evinced itself in
a manner rude, overbearing, and imperious, which the spirit of his
confederates was ill calculated to suffer or forgive.

But we can scarcely agree with the ancient historians in attributing
the ascendency of the Athenians alone, or even chiefly, to the conduct
of Pausanias.  The present expedition was naval, and the greater part
of the confederates at Byzantium were maritime powers.  The superior
fleet and the recent naval glories of the Athenians could not fail to
give them, at this juncture, a moral pre-eminence over the other
allies; and we shall observe that the Ionians, and those who had
lately recovered their freedom from the Persian yoke [133], were
especially desirous to exchange the Spartan for the Athenian command.
Connected with the Athenians by origin--by maritime habits--by a
kindred suavity and grace of temperament--by the constant zeal of the
Athenians for their liberties (which made, indeed, the first cause of
the Persian war)--it was natural that the Ionian Greeks should prefer
the standard of Athens to that of a Doric state; and the proposition
of the Spartans (baffled by the Athenian councils) to yield up the
Ionic settlements to the barbarians, could not but bequeath a lasting
resentment to those proud and polished colonies.

XIV.  Aware of the offence he had given, and disgusted himself alike
with his allies and his country, the Spartan chief became driven by
nature and necessity to a dramatic situation, which a future Schiller
may perhaps render yet more interesting than the treason of the
gorgeous Wallenstein, to whose character that of Pausanias has been
indirectly likened [134].  The capture of Byzantium brought the
Spartan regent into contact with many captured and noble Persians
[135], among whom were some related to Xerxes himself.  With these
conversing, new and dazzling views were opened to his ambition.  He
could not but recall the example of Demaratus, whose exile from the
barren dignities of Sparta had procured him the luxuries and the
splendour of oriental pomp, with the delegated authority of three of
the fairest cities of Aeolia.  Greater in renown than Demaratus, he
was necessarily more aspiring in his views.  Accordingly, he privately
released his more exalted prisoners, pretending they had escaped, and
finally explained whatever messages he had intrusted by them to
Xerxes, in a letter to the king, confided to an Eretrian named
Gongylus, who was versed in the language and the manners of Persia,
and to whom he had already deputed the government of Byzantium.  In
this letter Pausanias offered to assist the king in reducing Sparta
and the rest of Greece to the Persian yoke, demanding, in recompense,
the hand of the king’s daughter, with an adequate dowry of possessions
and of power.

XV.  The time had passed when a Persian monarch could deride the
loftiness of a Spartan’s pretensions--Xerxes received the
communications with delight, and despatched Artabazus to succeed
Megabates in Phrygia, and to concert with the Spartan upon the means
whereby to execute their joint design [136].  But while Pausanias was
in the full flush of his dazzled and grasping hopes, his fall was at
hand.  Occupied with his new projects, his natural haughtiness
increased daily.  He never accosted the officers of the allies but
with abrupt and overbearing insolence; he insulted the military pride
by sentencing many of the soldiers to corporeal chastisement, or to
stand all day with an iron anchor on their shoulders [137].  He
permitted none to seek water, forage, or litter, until the Spartans
were first supplied--those who attempted it were driven away by rods.
Even Aristides, seeking to remonstrate, was repulsed rudely.  “I am
not at leisure,” said the Spartan, with a frown. [138]

Complaints of this treatment were despatched to Sparta, and in the
mean while the confederates, especially the officers of Chios, Samos,
and Lesbos, pressed Aristides to take on himself the general command,
and protect them from the Spartan’s insolence.  The Athenian artfully
replied, that he saw the necessity of the proposition, but that it
ought first to be authorized by some action which would render it
impossible to recede from the new arrangement once formed.

The hint was fiercely taken; and a Samian and a Chian officer,
resolving to push matters to the extreme, openly and boldly attacked
the galley of Pausanias himself at the head of the fleet.
Disregarding his angry menaces, now impotent, this assault was
immediately followed up by a public transfer of allegiance; and the
aggressors, quitting the Spartan, arrayed themselves under the
Athenian, banners.  Whatever might have been the consequences of this
insurrection were prevented by the sudden recall of Pausanias.  The
accusations against him had met a ready hearing in Sparta, and that
watchful government had already received intimation of his intrigues
with the Mede.  On his arrival in Sparta, Pausanias was immediately
summoned to trial, convicted in a fine for individual and private
misdemeanours, but acquitted of the principal charge of treason with
the Persians--not so much from the deficiency as from the abundance of
proof [139]; and it was probably prudent to avoid, if possible, the
scandal which the conviction of the general might bring upon the

The Spartans sent Dorcis, with some colleagues, to replace Pausanias
in the command; but the allies were already too disgusted with the
yoke of that nation to concede it.  And the Athenian ascendency was
hourly confirmed by the talents, the bearing, and the affable and
gracious manners of Aristides.  With him was joined an associate of
high hereditary name and strong natural abilities, whose character it
will shortly become necessary to place in detail before the reader.
This comate was no less a person than Cimon, the son of the great

XVI.  Dorcis, finding his pretensions successfully rebutted, returned
home; and the Spartans, never prone to foreign enterprise, anxious for
excuses to free themselves from prosecuting further the Persian war,
and fearful that renewed contentions might only render yet more
unpopular the Spartan name, sent forth no fresh claimants to the
command; they affected to yield that honour, with cheerful content, to
the Athenians.  Thus was effected without a blow, and with the
concurrence of her most dreaded rival, that eventful revolution, which
suddenly raised Athens, so secondary a state before the Persian war,
to the supremacy over Greece.  So much, when nations have an equal
glory, can the one be brought to surpass the other (B. C. 477) by the
superior wisdom of individuals.  The victory of Plataea was won
principally by Sparta, then at the head of Greece.  And the general
who subdued the Persians surrendered the results of his victory to the
very ally from whom the sagacious jealousy of his countrymen had
sought most carefully to exclude even the precautions of defence!

XVII.  Aristides, now invested with the command of all the allies,
save those of the Peloponnesus who had returned home, strengthened the
Athenian power by every semblance of moderation.

Hitherto the Grecian confederates had sent their deputies to the
Peloponnesus.  Aristides, instead of naming Athens, which might have
excited new jealousies, proposed the sacred Isle of Delos, a spot
peculiarly appropriate, since it once had been the navel of the Ionian
commerce, as the place of convocation and the common treasury: the
temple was to be the senate house.  A new distribution of the taxes
levied on each state, for the maintenance of the league, was ordained.
The objects of the league were both defensive and offensive; first, to
guard the Aegaean coasts and the Grecian Isles; and, secondly, to
undertake measures for the further weakening of the Persian power.
Aristides was elected arbitrator in the relative proportions of the
general taxation.  In this office, which placed the treasures of
Greece at his disposal, he acted with so disinterested a virtue, that
he did not even incur the suspicion of having enriched himself, and
with so rare a fortune that he contented all the allies.  The total,
raised annually, and with the strictest impartiality, was four hundred
and sixty talents (computed at about one hundred and fifteen thousand

Greece resounded with the praises of Aristides; it was afterward
equally loud in reprobation of the avarice of the Athenians.  For with
the appointment of Aristides commenced the institution of officers
styled Hellenotamiae, or treasurers of Greece; they became a permanent
magistracy--they were under the control of the Athenians; and thus
that people were made at once the generals and the treasurers of
Greece.  But the Athenians, unconscious as yet of the power they had
attained--their allies yet more blind--it seemed now, that the more
the latter should confide, the more the former should forbear.  So do
the most important results arise from causes uncontemplated by the
providence of statesmen, and hence do we learn a truth which should
never be forgotten--that that power is ever the most certain of
endurance and extent, the commencement of which is made popular by

XVIII.  Thus, upon the decay of the Isthmian Congress, rose into
existence the great Ionian league; and thus was opened to the ambition
of Athens the splendid destiny of the empire of the Grecian seas.  The
pre-eminence of Sparta passed away from her, though invisibly and
without a struggle, and, retiring within herself, she was probably
unaware of the decline of her authority; still seeing her
Peloponnesian allies gathering round her, subordinate and submissive,
and, by refusing assistance, refusing also allegiance to the new queen
of the Ionian league.  His task fulfilled, Aristides probably returned
to Athens, and it was at this time and henceforth that it became his
policy to support the power of Cimon against the authority of
Themistocles [140].  To that eupatrid, joined before with himself, was
now intrusted the command of the Grecian fleet.

To great natural abilities, Cimon added every advantage of birth and
circumstance.  His mother was a daughter of Olorus, a Thracian prince;
his father the great Miltiades.  On the death of the latter, it is
recorded, and popularly believed, that Cimon, unable to pay the fine
to which Miltiades was adjudged, was detained in custody until a
wealthy marriage made by his sister Elpinice, to whom he was tenderly,
and ancient scandal whispered improperly, attached, released him from
confinement, and the brother-in-law paid the debt.  “Thus severe and
harsh,” says Nepos, “was his entrance upon manhood.” [141]  But it is
very doubtful whether Cimon was ever imprisoned for the state-debt
incurred by his father--and his wealth appears to have been
considerable even before he regained his patrimony in the Chersonese,
or enriched himself with the Persian spoils. [142]

In early youth, like Themistocles, his conduct had been wild and
dissolute [143]; and with his father from a child, he had acquired,
with the experience, something of the license, of camps.  Like
Themistocles also, he was little skilled in the graceful
accomplishments of his countrymen; he cultivated neither the art of
music, nor the brilliancies of Attic conversation; but power and
fortune, which ever soften nature, afterward rendered his habits
intellectual and his tastes refined.  He had not the smooth and artful
affability of Themistocles, but to a certain roughness of manner was
conjoined that hearty and ingenuous frankness which ever conciliates
mankind, especially in free states, and which is yet more popular when
united to rank.  He had distinguished himself highly by his zeal in
the invasion of the Medes, and the desertion of Athens for Salamis;
and his valour in the seafight had confirmed the promise of his
previous ardour.  Nature had gifted him with a handsome countenance
and a majestic stature, recommendations in all, but especially in
popular states--and the son of Miltiades was welcomed, not less by the
people than by the nobles, when he applied for a share in the
administration of the state.  Associated with Aristides, first in the
embassy to Sparta, and subsequently in the expeditions to Cyprus and
Byzantium, he had profited by the friendship and the lessons of that
great man, to whose party he belonged, and who saw in Cimon a less
invidious opponent than himself to the policy or the ambition of

By the advice of Aristides, Cimon early sought every means to
conciliate the allies, and to pave the way to the undivided command he
afterward obtained.  And it is not improbable that Themistocles might
willingly have ceded to him the lead in a foreign expedition, which
removed from the city so rising and active an opponent.  The
appointment of Cimon promised to propitiate the Spartans, who ever
possessed a certain party in the aristocracy of Athens--who peculiarly
affected Cimon, and whose hardy character and oligarchical policy the
blunt genius and hereditary prejudices of that young noble were well
fitted to admire and to imitate.  Cimon was, in a word, precisely the
man desired by three parties as the antagonist of Themistocles; viz.,
the Spartans, the nobles, and Aristides, himself a host.  All things
conspired to raise the son of Miltiades to an eminence beyond his
years, but not his capacities.

XIX.  Under Cimon the Athenians commenced their command [144], by
marching against a Thracian town called Eion, situated on the banks of
the river Strymon, and now garrisoned by a Persian noble.  The town
was besieged (B. C. 476), and the inhabitants pressed by famine, when
the Persian commandant, collecting his treasure upon a pile of wood,
on which were placed his slaves, women, and children--set fire to the
pile [145].  After this suicide, seemingly not an uncommon mode of
self-slaughter in the East, the garrison surrendered, and its
defenders, as usual in such warfare, were sold for slaves.

From Eion the victorious confederates proceeded to Scyros, a small
island in the Aegean, inhabited by the Dolopians, a tribe addicted to
piratical practices, deservedly obnoxious to the traders of the
Aegean, and who already had attracted the indignation and vengeance of
the Amphictyonic assembly.  The isle occupied, and the pirates
expelled, the territory was colonized by an Attic population.

An ancient tradition had, as we have seen before, honoured the soil of
Scyros with the possession of the bones of the Athenian Theseus--some
years after the conquest of the isle, in the archonship of Aphepsion
[146], or Apsephion, an oracle ordained the Athenians to search for
the remains of their national hero, and the skeleton of a man of great
stature, with a lance of brass and a sword by its side was discovered,
and immediately appropriated to Theseus.  The bones were placed with
great ceremony in the galley of Cimon, who was then probably on a
visit of inspection to the new colony, and transported to Athens.
Games were instituted in honour of this event, at which were exhibited
the contests of the tragic poets; and, in the first of these,
Sophocles is said to have made his earliest appearance, and gained the
prize from Aeschylus (B. C. 469).

XXI.  It is about the period of Cimon’s conquest of Eion and Scyros
(B. C. 476) that we must date the declining power of Themistocles.
That remarkable man had already added, both to domestic and to Spartan
enmities, the general displeasure of the allies.  After baffling the
proposition of the Spartans to banish from the Amphictyonic assembly
the states that had not joined in the anti-Persic confederacy, he had
sailed round the isles and extorted money from such as had been guilty
of Medising: the pretext might be just, but the exactions were
unpopularly levied.  Nor is it improbable that the accusations against
him of enriching his own coffers as well as the public treasury had
some foundation.  Profoundly disdaining money save as a means to an
end, he was little scrupulous as to the sources whence he sustained a
power which he yet applied conscientiously to patriotic purposes.
Serving his country first, he also served himself; and honest upon one
grand and systematic principle, he was often dishonest in details.

His natural temper was also ostentatious; like many who have risen
from an origin comparatively humble, he had the vanity to seek to
outshine his superiors in birth--not more by the splendour of genius
than by the magnificence of parade.  At the Olympic games, the
base-born son of Neocles surpassed the pomp of the wealthy and
illustrious Cimon; his table was hospitable, and his own life soft and
luxuriant [147]; his retinue numerous beyond those of his
contemporaries; and he adopted the manners of the noble exactly in
proportion as he courted the favour of the populace.  This habitual
ostentation could not fail to mingle with the political hostilities of
the aristocracy the disdainful jealousies of offended pride; for it is
ever the weakness of the high-born to forgive less easily the being
excelled in genius than the being outshone in state by those of inferior
origin.  The same haughtiness which offended the nobles began also to
displease the people; the superb consciousness of his own merits wounded
the vanity of a nation which scarcely permitted its greatest men to
share the reputation it arrogated to itself.  The frequent calumnies
uttered against him obliged Themistocles to refer to the actions he had
performed; and what it had been illustrious to execute, it became
disgustful to repeat.  “Are you weary,” said the great man, bitterly,
“to receive benefits often from the same hand?” [148]  He offended the
national conceit yet more by building, in the neighbourhood of his own
residence, a temple to Diana, under the name of Aristobule, or “Diana of
the best counsel;” thereby appearing to claim to himself the merit of
giving the best counsels.

It is probable, however, that Themistocles would have conquered all
party opposition, and that his high qualities would have more than
counterbalanced his defects in the eyes of the people, if he had still
continued to lead the popular tide.  But the time had come when the
demagogue was outbid by an aristocrat--when the movement he no longer
headed left him behind, and the genius of an individual could no
longer keep pace with the giant strides of an advancing people.

XXII.  The victory at Salamis was followed by a democratic result.
That victory had been obtained by the seamen, who were mostly of the
lowest of the populace--the lowest of the populace began, therefore,
to claim, in political equality, the reward of military service.  And
Aristotle, whose penetrating intellect could not fail to notice the
changes which an event so glorious to Greece produced in Athens, has
adduced a similar instance of change at Syracuse, when the mariners of
that state, having, at a later period, conquered the Athenians,
converted a mixed republic to a pure democracy.  The destruction of
houses and property by Mardonius--the temporary desertion by the
Athenians of their native land--the common danger and the common
glory, had broken down many of the old distinctions, and the spirit of
the nation was already far more democratic than the constitution.
Hitherto, qualifications of property were demanded for the holding of
civil offices.  But after the battle of Plataea, Aristides, the leader
of the aristocratic party, proposed and carried the abolition of such
qualifications, allowing to all citizens, with or without property, a
share in the government, and ordaining that the archons should be
chosen out of the whole body; the form of investigation as to moral
character was still indispensable.  This change, great as it was,
appears, like all aristocratic reforms, to have been a compromise
[149] between concession and demand.  And the prudent Aristides
yielded what was inevitable, to prevent the greater danger of
resistance.  It may be ever remarked, that the people value more a
concession from the aristocratic party than a boon from their own
popular leaders.  The last can never equal, and the first can so
easily exceed, the public expectation.

XXIII.  This decree, uniting the aristocratic with the more democratic
party, gave Aristides and his friends an unequivocal ascendency over
Themistocles, which, however, during the absence of Aristides and
Cimon, and the engrossing excitement of events abroad, was not plainly
visible for some years; and although, on his return to Athens,
Aristides himself prudently forbore taking an active part against his
ancient rival, he yet lent all the influence of his name and
friendship to the now powerful and popular Cimon.  The victories, the
manners, the wealth, the birth of the son of Miltiades were supported
by his talents and his ambition.  It was obvious to himself and to his
party that, were Themistocles removed, Cimon would become the first
citizen of Athens.

XXIV.  Such were the causes that long secretly undermined, that at
length openly stormed, the authority of the hero of Salamis; and at
this juncture we may conclude, that the vices of his character avenged
themselves on the virtues.  His duplicity and spirit of intrigue,
exercised on behalf of his country, it might be supposed, would
hereafter be excited against it.  And the pride, the ambition, the
craft that had saved the people might serve to create a despot.

Themistocles was summoned to the ordeal of the ostracism and condemned
by the majority of suffrages (B. C. 471).  Thus, like Aristides, not
punished for offences, but paying the honourable penalty of rising by
genius to that state of eminence which threatens danger to the
equality of republics.

He departed from Athens, and chose his refuge at Argos, whose hatred
to Sparta, his deadliest foe, promised him the securest protection.

XXV.  Death soon afterward removed Aristides from all competitorship
with Cimon; according to the most probable accounts, he died at
Athens; and at the time of Plutarch his monument was still to be seen
at Phalerum.  His countrymen, who, despite all plausible charges, were
never ungrateful except where their liberties appeared imperilled
(whether rightly or erroneously our documents are too scanty to
prove), erected his monument at the public charge, portioned his three
daughters, and awarded to his son Lysimachus a grant of one hundred
minae of silver, a plantation of one hundred plethra [150] of land,
and a pension of four drachmae a day (double the allowance of an
Athenian ambassador).


Popularity and Policy of Cimon.--Naxos revolts from the Ionian
League.--Is besieged by Cimon.--Conspiracy and Fate of Pausanias.--
Flight and Adventures of Themistocles.--His Death.

I.  The military abilities and early habits of Cimon naturally
conspired with past success to direct his ambition rather to warlike
than to civil distinctions.  But he was not inattentive to the arts
which were necessary in a democratic state to secure and confirm his
power.  Succeeding to one, once so beloved and ever so affable as
Themistocles, he sought carefully to prevent all disadvantageous
contrast.  From the spoils of Byzantium and Sestos he received a vast
addition to his hereditary fortunes.  And by the distribution of his
treasures, he forestalled all envy at their amount.  He threw open his
gardens to the public, whether foreigners or citizens--he maintained a
table to which men of every rank freely resorted, though probably
those only of his own tribe [151]--he was attended by a numerous
train, who were ordered to give mantles to what citizen soever--aged
and ill-clad--they encountered; and to relieve the necessitous by aims
delicately and secretly administered.  By these artful devices he
rendered himself beloved, and concealed the odium of his politics
beneath the mask of his charities.  For while he courted the favour,
he advanced not the wishes, of the people.  He sided with the
aristocratic party, and did not conceal his attachment to the
oligarchy of Sparta.  He sought to content the people with himself, in
order that he might the better prevent discontent with their position.
But it may be doubted whether Cimon did not, far more than any of his
predecessors, increase the dangers of a democracy by vulgarizing its
spirit.  The system of general alms and open tables had the effect
that the abuses of the Poor Laws [152] have had with us.  It
accustomed the native poor to the habits of indolent paupers, and what
at first was charity soon took the aspect of a right.  Hence much of
the lazy turbulence, and much of that licentious spirit of exaction
from the wealthy, that in a succeeding age characterized the mobs of
Athens.  So does that servile generosity, common to an anti-popular
party, when it affects kindness in order to prevent concession,
ultimately operate against its own secret schemes.  And so much less
really dangerous is it to exalt, by constitutional enactments, the
authority of a people, than to pamper, by the electioneering
cajoleries of a selfish ambition, the prejudices which thus settle
into vices, or the momentary exigences thus fixed into permanent

II.  While the arts or manners of Cimon conciliated the favour, his
integrity won the esteem, of the people.  In Aristides he found the
example, not more of his aristocratic politics than of his lofty
honour.  A deserter from Persia, having arrived at Athens with great
treasure, and being harassed by informers, sought the protection of
Cimon by gifts of money.

“Would you have me,” said the Athenian, smiling, “your mercenary or
your friend?”

“My friend!” replied the barbarian.

“Then take back your gifts.” [153]

III.  In the mean while the new ascendency of Athens was already
endangered.  The Carystians in the neighbouring isle of Euboea openly
defied her fleet, and many of the confederate states, seeing
themselves delivered from all immediate dread of another invasion of
the Medes, began to cease contributions both to the Athenian navy and
the common treasury.  For a danger not imminent, service became
burdensome and taxation odious.  And already some well-founded
jealousy of the ambition of Athens increased the reluctance to augment
her power.  Naxos was the first island that revolted from the
conditions of the league, and thither Cimon, having reduced the
Carystians, led a fleet numerous and well equipped.

Whatever the secret views of Cimon for the aggrandizement of his
country, he could not but feel himself impelled by his own genius and
the popular expectation not lightly to forego that empire of the sea,
rendered to Athens by the profound policy of Themistocles and the
fortunate prudence of Aristides; and every motive of Grecian, as well
as Athenian, policy justified the subjugation of the revolters--an
evident truth in the science of state policy, but one somewhat hastily
lost sight of by those historians who, in the subsequent and
unlooked-for results, forgot the necessity of the earlier enterprise.
Greece had voluntarily intrusted to Athens the maritime command of the
confederate states.  To her, Greece must consequently look for no
diminution of the national resources committed to her charge; to her,
that the conditions of the league were fulfilled, and the common
safety of Greece ensured.  Commander of the forces, she was answerable
for the deserters.  Nor, although Persia at present remained tranquil
and inert, could the confederates be considered safe from her revenge.
No compact of peace had been procured.  The more than suspected
intrigues of Xerxes with Pausanias were sufficient proofs that the
great king did not yet despair of the conquest of Greece.  And the
peril previously incurred in the want of union among the several
states was a solemn warning not to lose the advantages of that league,
so tardily and so laboriously cemented.  Without great dishonour and
without great imprudence, Athens could not forego the control with
which she had been invested; if it were hers to provide the means, it
was hers to punish the defaulters; and her duty to Greece thus
decorously and justly sustained her ambition for herself.

IV.  And now it is necessary to return to the fortunes of Pausanias,
involving in their fall the ruin of one of far loftier virtues and
more unequivocal renown.  The recall of Pausanias, the fine inflicted
upon him, his narrow escape from a heavier sentence, did not suffice
to draw him, intoxicated as he was with his hopes and passions, from
his bold and perilous intrigues.  It is not improbable that his mind
was already tainted with a certain insanity [154].  And it is a
curious physiological fact, that the unnatural constraints of Sparta,
when acting on strong passions and fervent imaginations, seem, not
unoften, to have produced a species of madness.  An anecdote is
recorded [155], which, though romantic, is not perhaps wholly
fabulous, and which invests with an interest yet more dramatic the
fate of the conqueror of Plataea.

At Byzantium, runs the story, he became passionately enamoured of a
young virgin named Cleonice.  Awed by his power and his sternness, the
parents yielded her to his will.  The modesty of the maiden made her
stipulate that the room might be in total darkness when she stole to
his embraces.  But unhappily, on entering, she stumbled against the
light, and the Spartan, asleep at the time, imagined, in the confusion
of his sudden waking, that the noise was occasioned by one of his
numerous enemies seeking his chamber with the intent to assassinate
him.  Seizing the Persian cimeter [156] that lay beside him, he
plunged it in the breast of the intruder, and the object of his
passion fell dead at his feet.  “From that hour,” says the biographer,
“he could rest no more!”  A spectre haunted his nights--the voice of
the murdered girl proclaimed doom to his ear.  It is added, and, if we
extend our belief further, we must attribute the apparition to the
skill of the priests, that, still tortured by the ghost of Cleonice,
he applied to those celebrated necromancers who, at Heraclea [157],
summoned by gloomy spells the manes of the dead, and by their aid
invoked the spirit he sought to appease.  The shade of Cleonice
appeared and told him, “that soon after his return to Sparta he would
be delivered from all his troubles.” [158]

Such was the legend repeated, as Plutarch tells us, by many
historians; the deed itself was probable, and conscience, even without
necromancy, might supply the spectre.

V.  Whether or not this story have any foundation in fact, the conduct
of Pausanias seems at least to have partaken of that inconsiderate
recklessness which, in the ancient superstition, preceded the
vengeance of the gods.  After his trial he had returned to Byzantium,
without the consent of the Spartan government.  Driven thence by the
resentment of the Athenians [159], he repaired, not to Sparta, but to
Colonae, in Asia Minor, and in the vicinity of the ancient Troy; and
there he renewed his negotiations with the Persian king.  Acquainted
with his designs, the vigilant ephors despatched to him a herald with
the famous scytale.  This was an instrument peculiar to the Spartans.
To every general or admiral, a long black staff was entrusted; the
magistrates kept another exactly similar.  When they had any
communication to make, they wrote it on a roll of parchment, applied
it to their own staff, fold upon fold--then cutting it off, dismissed
it to the chief.  The characters were so written that they were
confused and unintelligible until fastened to the stick, and thus
could only be construed by the person for whose eye they were
intended, and to whose care the staff was confided.

The communication Pausanias now received was indeed stern and laconic.
“Stay,” it said, “behind the herald, and war is proclaimed against you
by the Spartans.”

On receiving this solemn order, even the imperious spirit of Pausanias
did not venture to disobey.  Like Venice, whose harsh, tortuous, but
energetic policy her oligarchy in so many respects resembled, Sparta
possessed a moral and mysterious power over the fiercest of her sons.
His fate held him in her grasp, and, confident of acquittal, instead
of flying to Persia, the regent hurried to his doom, assured that by
the help of gold he could baffle any accusation.  His expectations
were so far well-founded, that, although, despite his rank as regent
of the kingdom and guardian of the king, he was thrown into prison by
the ephors, he succeeded, by his intrigues and influence, in procuring
his enlargement: and boldly challenging his accusers, he offered to
submit to trial.

The government, however, was slow to act.  The proud caution of the
Spartans was ever loath to bring scandal on their home by public
proceedings against any freeborn citizen--how much more against the
uncle of their monarch and the hero of their armies!  His power, his
talents, his imperious character awed alike private enmity and public
distrust.  But his haughty disdain of their rigid laws, and his
continued affectation of the barbarian pomp, kept the government
vigilant; and though released from prison, the stern ephors were his
sentinels.  The restless and discontented mind of the expectant
son-in-law of Xerxes could not relinquish its daring schemes.  And the
regent of Sparta entered into a conspiracy, on which it were much to
be desired that our information were more diffuse.

VI.  Perhaps no class of men in ancient times excite a more painful
and profound interest than the helots of Sparta.  Though, as we have
before seen, we must reject all rhetorical exaggerations of the savage
cruelty to which they were subjected, we know, at least, that their
servitude was the hardest imposed by any of the Grecian states upon
their slaves [160], and that the iron soldiery of Sparta were exposed
to constant and imminent peril from their revolts--a proof that the
curse of their bondage had passed beyond the degree which subdues the
spirit to that which arouses, and that neither the habit of years, nor
the swords of the fiercest warriors, nor the spies of the keenest
government of Greece had been able utterly to extirpate from human
hearts that law of nature which, when injury passes an allotted, yet
rarely visible, extreme, converts suffering to resistance.

Scattered in large numbers throughout the rugged territories of
Laconia--separated from the presence, but not the watch, of their
master, these singular serfs never abandoned the hope of liberty.
Often pressed into battle to aid their masters, they acquired the
courage to oppose them.  Fierce, sullen, and vindictive, they were as
droves of wild cattle, left to range at will, till wanted for the
burden or the knife--not difficult to butcher, but impossible to tame.

We have seen that a considerable number of these helots had fought as
light-armed troops at Plataea; and the common danger and the common
glory had united the slaves of the army with the chief.  Entering into
somewhat of the desperate and revengeful ambition that, under a
similar constitution, animated Marino Faliero, Pausanias sought, by
means of the enslaved multitude, to deliver himself from the thraldom
of the oligarchy which held prince and slave alike in subjection.  He
tampered with the helots, and secretly promised them the rights and
liberties of citizens of Sparta, if they would co-operate with his
projects and revolt at his command.

Slaves are never without traitors; and the ephors learned the
premeditated revolution from helots themselves.  Still, slow and wary,
those subtle and haughty magistrates suspended the blow--it was not
without the fullest proof that a royal Spartan was to be condemned on
the word of helots: they continued their vigilance--they obtained the
proof they required.

VII.  Argilius, a Spartan, with whom Pausanias had once formed the
vicious connexion common to the Doric tribes, and who was deep in his
confidence, was intrusted by the regent with letters to Artabazus.
Argilius called to mind that none intrusted with a similar mission had
ever returned.  He broke open the seals and read what his fears
foreboded, that, on his arrival at the satrap’s court, the silence of
the messenger was to be purchased by his death.  He carried the packet
to the ephors.  That dark and plotting council were resolved yet more
entirely to entangle their guilty victim, and out of his own mouth to
extract his secret; they therefore ordered Argilius to take refuge as
a suppliant in the sanctuary of the temple of Neptune on Mount
Taenarus.  Within the sacred confines was contrived a cell, which, by
a double partition, admitted some of the ephors, who, there concealed,
might witness all that passed.

Intelligence was soon brought to Pausanias that, instead of proceeding
to Artabazus, his confidant had taken refuge as a suppliant in the
temple of Neptune.  Alarmed and anxious, the regent hastened to the
sanctuary.  Argilius informed him that he had read the letters, and
reproached him bitterly with his treason to himself.  Pausanias,
confounded and overcome by the perils which surrounded him, confessed
his guilt, spoke unreservedly of the contents of the letter, implored
the pardon of Argilius, and promised him safety and wealth if he would
leave the sanctuary and proceed on the mission.

The ephors, from their hiding-place, heard all.

On the departure of Pausanias from the sanctuary, his doom was fixed.
But, among the more public causes of the previous delay of justice, we
must include the friendship of some of the ephors, which Pausanias had
won or purchased.  It was the moment fixed for his arrest.  Pausanias,
in the streets, was alone and on foot.  He beheld the ephors
approaching him.  A signal from one warned him of his danger.  He
turned--he fled.  The temple of Minerva Chalcioecus at hand proffered
a sanctuary--he gained the sacred confines, and entered a small house
hard by the temple.  The ephors--the officers--the crowd pursued; they
surrounded the refuge, from which it was impious to drag the criminal.
Resolved on his death, they removed the roof--blocked up the entrances
(and if we may credit the anecdote, that violating human was
characteristic of Spartan nature, his mother, a crone of great age
[161], suggested the means of punishment, by placing, with her own
hand, a stone at the threshold)--and, setting a guard around, left the
conqueror of Mardonius to die of famine.  When he was at his last
gasp, unwilling to profane the sanctuary by his actual death, they
bore him out into the open air, which he only breathed to expire
[162].  His corpse, which some of the fiercer Spartans at first
intended to cast in the place of burial for malefactors, was afterward
buried in the neighbourhood of the temple.  And thus ended the glory
and the crimes--the grasping ambition and the luxurious ostentation--
of the bold Spartan who first scorned and then imitated the
effeminacies of the Persian he subdued.

VIII.  Amid the documents of which the ephors possessed themselves
after the death of Pausanias was a correspondence with Themistocles,
then residing in the rival and inimical state of Argos.  Yet
vindictive against that hero, the Spartan government despatched
ambassadors to Athens, accusing him of a share in the conspiracy of
Pausanias with the Medes.  It seems that Themistocles did not disavow
a correspondence with Pausanias, nor affect an absolute ignorance of
his schemes; but he firmly denied by letter, his only mode of defence,
all approval and all participation of the latter.  Nor is there any
proof, nor any just ground of suspicion, that he was a party to the
betrayal of Greece.  It was consistent, indeed, with his astute
character, to plot, to manoeuvre, to intrigue, but for great and not
paltry ends.  By possessing himself of the secret, he possessed
himself of the power of Pausanias; and that intelligence might perhaps
have enabled him to frustrate the Spartan’s treason in the hour of
actual danger to Greece.  It is possible that, so far as Sparta alone
was concerned, the Athenian felt little repugnance to any revolution
or any peril confined to a state whose councils it had been the object
of his life to baffle, and whose power it was the manifest interest of
his native city to impair.  He might have looked with complacency on
the intrigues which the regent was carrying on against the Spartan
government, and which threatened to shake that Doric constitution to
its centre.  But nothing, either in the witness of history or in the
character or conduct of a man profoundly patriotic, even in his vices,
favours the notion that he connived at the schemes which implicated,
with the Grecian, the Athenian welfare.  Pausanias, far less able, was
probably his tool.  By an insight into his projects, Themistocles
might have calculated on the restoration of his own power.  To weaken
the Spartan influence was to weaken his own enemies at Athens; to
break up the Spartan constitution was to leave Athens herself without
a rival.  And if, from the revolt of the helots, Pausanias should
proceed to an active league with the Persians, Themistocles knew
enough of Athens and of Greece to foresee that it was to the victor of
Salamis and the founder of the Grecian navy that all eyes would be
directed.  Such seem the most probable views which would have been
opened to the exile by the communications of Pausanias.  If so, they
were necessarily too subtle for the crowd to penetrate or understand.
The Athenians heard only the accusations of the Spartans; they saw
only the treason of Pausanias; they learned only that Themistocles had
been the correspondent of the traitor.  Already suspicious of a genius
whose deep and intricate wiles they were seldom able to fathom, and
trembling at the seeming danger they had escaped, it was natural
enough that the Athenians should accede to the demands of the
ambassadors.  An Athenian, joined with a Lacedaemonian troop, was
ordered to seize Themistocles wherever he should be found.  Apprized
of his danger, he hastily quitted the Peloponnesus and took refuge at
Corcyra.  Fear of the vengeance at once of Athens and of Sparta
induced the Corcyreans to deny the shelter he sought, but they
honourably transported him to the opposite continent.  His route was
discovered--his pursuers pressed upon him.  He had entered the country
of Admetus, king of the Molossians, from whose resentment he had
everything to dread.  For he had persuaded the Athenians to reject the
alliance once sought by that monarch, and Admetus had vowed vengeance.

Thus situated, the fugitive formed a resolution which a great mind
only could have conceived, and which presents to us one of the most
touching pictures in ancient history.  He repaired to the palace of
Admetus himself.  The prince was absent.  He addressed his consort,
and, advised by her, took the young child of the royal pair in his
hand, and sat down at the hearth--“THEMISTOCLES THE SUPPLIANT!” [163]
On the return of the prince he told his name, and bade him not wreak
his vengeance on an exile.  “To condemn me now,” he said, “would be to
take advantage of distress.  Honour dictates revenge only among equals
upon equal terms.  True that I opposed you once, but on a matter not
of life, but of business or of interest.  Now surrender me to my
persecutors, and you deprive me of the last refuge of life itself.”

IX.  Admetus, much affected, bade him rise, and assured him of
protection.  The pursuers arrived; but, faithful to the guest who had
sought his hearth, after a form peculiarly solemn among the
Molossians, Admetus refused to give him up, and despatched him,
guarded, to the sea-town of Pydna, over an arduous and difficult
mountain-road.  The sea-town gained, he took ship, disguised and
unknown to all the passengers, in a trading vessel bound to Ionia.  A
storm arose--the vessel was driven from its course, and impelled right
towards the Athenian fleet, that then under Cimon, his bitterest foe,
lay before the Isle of Naxos (B. C. 466).

Prompt and bold in his expedients, Themistocles took aside the master
of the vessel--discovered himself; threatened, if betrayed, to inform
against the master as one bribed to favour his escape; promised, if
preserved, everlasting gratitude; and urged that the preservation was
possible, if no one during the voyage were permitted, on any pretext,
to quit the vessel.

The master of the vessel was won--kept out at sea a day and a night to
windward of the fleet, and landed Themistocles in safety at Ephesus.

In the mean while the friends of Themistocles had not been inactive in
Athens.  On the supposed discovery of his treason, such of his
property as could fall into the hands of the government was, as usual
in such offences, confiscated to the public use; the amount was
variously estimated at eighty and a hundred talents [164].  But the
greater part of his wealth--some from Athens, some from Argos--was
secretly conveyed to him at Ephesus [165].  One faithful friend
procured the escape of his wife and children from Athens to the court
of Admetus, for which offence of affection, a single historian,
Stesimbrotus (whose statement even the credulous Plutarch questions,
and proves to be contradictory with another assertion of the same
author), has recorded that he was condemned to death by Cimon.  It is
not upon such dubious chronicles that we can suffer so great a stain
on the character of a man singularly humane. [166]

X.  As we have now for ever lost sight of Themistocles on the stage of
Athenian politics, the present is the most fitting opportunity to
conclude the history of his wild and adventurous career.

Persecuted by the Spartans, abandoned by his countrymen, excluded from
the whole of Greece, no refuge remained to the man who had crushed the
power of Persia, save the Persian court.  The generous and
high-spirited policy that characterized the oriental despotism towards
its foes proffered him not only a safe, but a magnificent asylum.  The
Persian monarchs were ever ready to welcome the exiles of Greece, and to
conciliate those whom they had failed to conquer.  It was the fate of
Themistocles to be saved by the enemies of his country.  He had no
alternative.  The very accusation of connivance with the Medes drove him
into their arms.

Under guidance of a Persian, Themistocles traversed the Asiatic
continent; and ere he reached Susa, contrived to have a letter, that
might prepare the way for him, delivered at the Persian court.  His
letter ran somewhat thus, if we may suppose that Thucydides preserved
the import, though he undoubtedly fashioned the style. [167]

“I, Themistocles, who of all the Greeks have inflicted the severest
wounds upon your race, so long as I was called by fate to resist the
invasion of the Persians, now come to you.”  (He then urged, on the
other hand, the services he had rendered to Xerxes in his messages
after Salamis, relative to the breaking of the bridges, assuming a
credit to which he was by no means entitled--and insisted that his
generosity demanded a return.) “Able” (he proceeded) “to perform great
services--persecuted by the Greeks for my friendship for you--I am
near at hand.  Grant me only a year’s respite, that I may then apprize
you in person of the object of my journey hither.”

The bold and confident tone of Themistocles struck the imagination of
the young king (Artaxerxes), and he returned a favourable reply.
Themistocles consumed the year in the perfect acquisition of the
language, and the customs and manners of the country.  He then sought
and obtained an audience. [168]

Able to converse with fluency, and without the medium of an
interpreter, his natural abilities found their level.  He rose to
instant favour.  Never before had a stranger been so honoured.  He was
admitted an easy access to the royal person--instructed in the
learning of the Magi--and when he quitted the court it was to take
possession of the government of three cities--Myus, celebrated for its
provisions; Lampsacus, for its vineyards; and Magnesia, for the
richness of the soil; so that, according to the spirit and phraseology
of oriental taxation, it was not unaptly said that they were awarded
to him for meat, wine, and bread.

XI.  Thus affluent and thus honoured, Themistocles passed at Magnesia
the remainder of his days--the time and method of his death uncertain;
whether cut off by natural disease, or, as is otherwise related [169],
by a fate than which fiction itself could have invented none more
suited to the consummation of his romantic and great career.  It is
said that when afterward Egypt revolted, and that revolt was aided by
the Athenians; when the Grecian navy sailed as far as Cilicia and
Cyprus; and Cimon upheld, without a rival, the new sovereignty of the
seas; when Artaxerxes resolved to oppose the growing power of a state
which, from the defensive, had risen to the offending, power;
Themistocles received a mandate to realize the vague promises he had
given, and to commence his operations against Greece (B. C. 449).
Then (if with Plutarch we accept this version of his fate), neither
resentment against the people he had deemed ungrateful, nor his
present pomp, nor the fear of life, could induce the lord of Magnesia
to dishonour his past achievements [170], and demolish his immortal
trophies.  Anxious only to die worthily--since to live as became him
was no longer possible--he solemnly sacrificed to the gods--took leave
of his friends, and finished his days by poison.

His monument long existed in the forum of Magnesia; but his bones are
said by his own desire to have been borne back privately to Attica,
and have rested in the beloved land that exiled him from her bosom.
And this his last request seems touchingly to prove his loyalty to
Athens, and to proclaim his pardon of her persecution.  Certain it is,
at least, that however honoured in Persia, he never perpetrated one
act against Greece; and that, if sullied by the suspicion of others,
his fame was untarnished by himself.  He died, according to Plutarch,
in his sixty-fifth year, leaving many children, and transmitting his
name to a long posterity, who received from his memory the honours
they could not have acquired for themselves.

XII.  The character of Themistocles has already in these pages
unfolded itself--profound, yet tortuous in policy--vast in conception
--subtle, patient, yet prompt in action; affable in manner, but
boastful, ostentatious, and disdaining to conceal his consciousness of
merit; not brilliant in accomplishment, yet master not more of the
Greek wiles than the Attic wit; sufficiently eloquent, but greater in
deeds than words, and penetrating, by an almost preternatural insight,
at once the characters of men and the sequences of events.
Incomparably the greatest of his own times, and certainly not
surpassed by those who came after him.  Pisistratus, Cimon, Pericles,
Aristides himself, were of noble and privileged birth.  Themistocles
was the first, and, except Demosthenes, the greatest of those who rose
from the ranks of the people, and he drew the people upward in his
rise.  His fame was the creation of his genius only.  “What other man”
 (to paraphrase the unusual eloquence of Diodorus) “could in the same
time have placed Greece at the head of nations, Athens at the head of
Greece, himself at the head of Athens?--in the most illustrious age
the most illustrious man.  Conducting to war the citizens of a state
in ruins, he defeated all the arms of Asia.  He alone had the power to
unite the most discordant materials, and to render danger itself
salutary to his designs.  Not more remarkable in war than peace--in
the one he saved the liberties of Greece, in the other he created the
eminence of Athens.”

After him, the light of the heroic age seems to glimmer and to fade,
and even Pericles himself appears dwarfed and artificial beside that
masculine and colossal intellect which broke into fragments the might
of Persia, and baffled with a vigorous ease the gloomy sagacity of
Sparta.  The statue of Themistocles, existent six hundred years after
his decease, exhibited to his countrymen an aspect as heroical as his
deeds. [171]

We return to Cimon


Reduction of Naxos.--Actions off Cyprus.--Manners of Cimon.--
Improvements in Athens.--Colony at the Nine Ways.--Siege of Thasos.--
Earthquake in Sparta.--Revolt of Helots, Occupation of Ithome, and
Third Messenian War.--Rise and Character of Pericles.--Prosecution and
Acquittal of Cimon.--The Athenians assist the Spartans at Ithome.--
Thasos Surrenders.--Breach between the Athenians and Spartans.--
Constitutional Innovations at Athens.--Ostracism of Cimon.

I.  At the time in which Naxos refused the stipulated subsidies, and
was, in consequence, besieged by Cimon, that island was one of the
most wealthy and populous of the confederate states.  For some time
the Naxians gallantly resisted the besiegers; but, at length reduced,
they were subjected to heavier conditions than those previously
imposed upon them.  No conqueror contents himself with acquiring the
objects, sometimes frivolous and often just, with which he commences
hostilities.  War inflames the passions, and success the ambition.
Cimon, at first anxious to secure the Grecian, was now led on to
desire the increase of the Athenian power.  The Athenian fleet had
subdued Naxos, and Naxos was rendered subject to Athens.  This was the
first of the free states which the growing republic submitted to her
yoke [172].  The precedent once set, as occasion tempted, the rest
shared a similar fate.

II.  The reduction of Naxos was but the commencement of the victories
of Cimon.  In Asia Minor there were many Grecian cities in which the
Persian ascendency had never yet been shaken.  Along the Carian coast
Cimon conducted his armament, and the terror it inspired sufficed to
engage all the cities, originally Greek, to revolt from Persia; those
garrisoned by Persians he besieged and reduced.  Victorious in Caria,
he passed with equal success into Lycia [173], augmenting his fleet
and forces as he swept along.  But the Persians, not inactive, had now
assembled a considerable force in Pamphylia, and lay encamped on the
banks of the Eurymedon (B. C. 466), whose waters, sufficiently wide,
received their fleet.  The expected re-enforcement of eighty
Phoenician vessels from Cyprus induced the Persians to delay [174]
actual hostilities.  But Cimon, resolved to forestall the anticipated
junction, sailed up the river, and soon forced the barbarian fleet,
already much more numerous than his own, into active engagement.  The
Persians but feebly supported the attack; driven up the river, the
crews deserted the ships, and hastened to join the army arrayed along
the coast.  Of the ships thus deserted, some were destroyed; and two
hundred triremes, taken by Cimon, yet more augmented his armament.
But the Persians, now advanced to the verge of the shore, presented a
long and formidable array, and Cimon, with some anxiety, saw the
danger he incurred in landing troops already much harassed by the late
action, while a considerable proportion of the hostile forces, far
more numerous, were fresh and unfatigued.  The spirit of the men, and
their elation at the late victory, bore down the fears of the general;
yet warm from the late action, he debarked his heavy-armed infantry,
and with loud shouts the Athenians rushed upon the foe.  The contest
was fierce--the slaughter great.  Many of the noblest Athenians fell
in the action.  Victory at length declared in favour of Cimon; the
Persians were put to flight, and the Greeks remained masters of the
battle and the booty--the last considerable.  Thus, on the same day,
the Athenians were victorious on both elements--an unprecedented
glory, which led the rhetorical Plutarch to declare--that Plataea and
Salamis were outshone.  Posterity, more discerning, estimates glory
not by the greatness of the victory alone, but the justice of the
cause.  And even a skirmish won by men struggling for liberty on their
own shores is more honoured than the proudest battle in which the
conquerors are actuated by the desire of vengeance or the lust of

III.  To the trophies of this double victory were soon added those of
a third, obtained over the eighty vessels of the Phoenicians off the
coast of Cyprus.  These signal achievements spread the terror of the
Athenian arms on remote as on Grecian shores.  Without adopting the
exaggerated accounts of injudicious authors as to the number of ships
and prisoners [175], it seems certain, at least, that the amount of
the booty was sufficient, in some degree, to create in Athens a moral
revolution--swelling to a vast extent the fortunes of individuals, and
augmenting the general taste for pomp, for luxury, and for splendour,
which soon afterward rendered Athens the most magnificent of the
Grecian states.

The navy of Persia thus broken, her armies routed, the scene of action
transferred to her own dominions, all designs against Greece were laid
aside.  Retreating, as it were, more to the centre of her vast
domains, she left the Asiatic outskirts to the solitude, rather of
exhaustion than of peace.  “No troops,” boasted the later
rhetoricians, “came within a day’s journey, on horseback, of the
Grecian seas.”  From the Chelidonian isles on the Pamphylian coast, to
those [176] twin rocks at the entrance of the Euxine, between which
the sea, chafed by their rugged base, roars unappeasably through its
mists of foam, no Persian galley was descried.  Whether this was the
cause of defeat or of acknowledged articles of peace, has been
disputed.  But, as will be seen hereafter, of the latter all
historical evidence is wanting.

In a subsequent expedition, Cimon, sailing from Athens with a small
force, wrested the Thracian Chersonese from the Persians--an exploit
which restored to him his own patrimony.

IV.  Cimon was now at the height of his fame and popularity.  His
share of the booty, and the recovery of the Chersonese, rendered him
by far the wealthiest citizen of Athens; and he continued to use his
wealth to cement his power.  His intercourse with other nations, his
familiarity with the oriental polish and magnificence, served to
elevate his manners from their early rudeness, and to give splendour
to his tastes.  If he had spent his youth among the wild soldiers of
Miltiades, the leisure of his maturer years was cultivated by an
intercourse with sages and poets.  His passion for the sex, which even
in its excesses tends to refine and to soften, made his only vice.  He
was the friend of every genius and every art; and, the link between
the lavish ostentation of Themistocles and the intellectual grace of
Pericles, he conducted, as it were, the insensible transition from the
age of warlike glory to that of civil pre-eminence.  He may be said to
have contributed greatly to diffuse that atmosphere of poetry and of
pleasure which even the meanest of the free Athenians afterward
delighted to respire.  He led the citizens more and more from the
recesses of private life; and carried out that social policy commenced
by Pisistratus, according to which all individual habits became merged
into one animated, complex, and excited public.  Thus, himself gay and
convivial, addicted to company, wine, and women, he encouraged shows
and spectacles, and invested them with new magnificence; he
embellished the city with public buildings, and was the first to erect
at Athens those long colonnades--beneath the shade of which, sheltered
from the western suns, that graceful people were accustomed to
assemble and converse.  The Agora, that universal home of the
citizens, was planted by him with the oriental planes; and the groves
of Academe, the immortal haunt of Plato, were his work.  That
celebrated garden, associated with the grateful and bright
remembrances of all which poetry can lend to wisdom, was, before the
time of Cimon, a waste and uncultivated spot.  It was his hand that
intersected it with walks and alleys, and that poured through its
green retreats the ornamental waters so refreshing in those climes,
and not common in the dry Attic soil, which now meandered in living
streams, and now sparkled into fountains.  Besides these works to
embellish, he formed others to fortify the city.  He completed the
citadel, hitherto unguarded on the south side; and it was from the
barbarian spoils deposited in the treasury that the expenses of
founding the Long Walls, afterward completed, were defrayed.

V.  In his conduct towards the allies, the natural urbanity of Cimon
served to conceal a policy deep-laid and grasping.  The other Athenian
generals were stern and punctilious in their demands on the
confederates; they required the allotted number of men, and, in
default of the supply, increased the rigour of their exactions.  Not
so Cimon--from those whom the ordinary avocations of a peaceful life
rendered averse to active service, he willingly accepted a pecuniary
substitute, equivalent to the value of those ships or soldiers they
should have furnished.  These sums, devoted indeed to the general
service, were yet appropriated to the uses of the Athenian navy; thus
the states, hitherto warlike, were artfully suffered to lapse into
peaceful and luxurious pursuits; and the confederates became at once,
under the most lenient pretexts, enfeebled and impoverished by the
very means which strengthened the martial spirit and increased the
fiscal resources of the Athenians.  The tributaries found too late,
when they ventured at revolt, that they had parted with the facilities
of resistance. [177]

In the mean while it was the object of Cimon to sustain the naval
ardour and discipline of the Athenians; while the oar and the sword
fell into disuse with the confederates, he kept the greater part of
the citizens in constant rotation at maritime exercise or enterprise--
until experience and increasing power with one, indolence and gradual
subjection with the other, destroying the ancient equality in arms,
made the Athenians masters and their confederates subjects. [178]

VI.  According to the wise policy of the ancients, the Athenians never
neglected a suitable opportunity to colonize; thus extending their
dominion while they draughted off the excess of their population, as
well as the more enterprising spirits whom adventure tempted or
poverty aroused.  The conquest of Eion had opened to the Athenians a
new prospect of aggrandizement, of which they were now prepared to
seize the advantages.  Not far from Eion, and on the banks of the
Strymon, was a place called the Nine Ways, afterward Amphipolis, and
which, from its locality and maritime conveniences, seemed especially
calculated for the site of a new city.  Thither ten thousand persons,
some confederates, some Athenians, had been sent to establish a
colony.  The views of the Athenians were not, however, in this
enterprise, bounded to its mere legitimate advantages.  About the same
time they carried on a dispute with the Thasians relative to certain
mines and places of trade on the opposite coasts of Thrace.  The
dispute was one of considerable nicety.  The Athenians, having
conquered Eion and the adjacent territory, claimed the possession by
right of conquest.  The Thasians, on the other hand, had anciently
possessed some of the mines and the monopoly of the commerce; they had
joined in the confederacy; and, asserting that the conquest had been
made, if by Athenian arms, for the federal good, they demanded that
the ancient privileges should revert to them.  The Athenian government
was not disposed to surrender a claim which proffered to avarice the
temptation of mines of gold.  The Thasians renounced the confederacy,
and thus gave to the Athenians the very pretext for hostilities which
the weaker state should never permit to the more strong.  While the
colony proceeded to its destination, part of the Athenian fleet, under
Cimon, sailed to Thasos--gained a victory by sea--landed on the
island--and besieged the city.

Meanwhile the new colonizers had become masters of the Nine Ways,
having dislodged the Edonian Thracians, its previous habitants.  But
hostility following hostility, the colonists were eventually utterly
routed and cut off in a pitched battle at Drabescus (B. C. 465), in
Edonia, by the united forces of all the neighbouring Thracians.

VII.  The siege of Thasos still continued, and the besieged took the
precaution to send to Sparta for assistance.  That sullen state had
long viewed with indignation the power of Athens; her younger warriors
clamoured against the inert indifference with which a city, for ages
so inferior to Sparta, had been suffered to gain the ascendency over
Greece.  In vain had Themistocles been removed; the inexhaustible
genius of the people had created a second Themistocles in Cimon.  The
Lacedaemonians, glad of a pretext for quarrel, courteously received
the Thasian ambassadors, and promised to distract the Athenian forces
by an irruption into Attica.  They were actively prepared in
concerting measures for this invasion, when sudden and complicated
afflictions, now to be related, forced them to abandon their designs,
and confine their attention to themselves.

VIII.  An earthquake, unprecedented in its violence, occurred in
Sparta.  In many places throughout Laconia the rocky soil was rent
asunder.  From Mount Taygetus, which overhung the city, and on which
the women of Lacedaemon were wont to hold their bacchanalian orgies,
huge fragments rolled into the suburbs.  The greater portion of the
city was absolutely overthrown; and it is said, probably with
exaggeration, that only five houses wholly escaped the shock.  This
terrible calamity did not cease suddenly as it came; its concussions
were repeated; it buried alike men and treasure: could we credit
Diodorus, no less than twenty thousand persons perished in the shock.
Thus depopulated, empoverished, and distressed, the enemies whom the
cruelty of Sparta nursed within her bosom resolved to seize the moment
to execute their vengeance and consummate her destruction.  Under
Pausanias we have seen before that the helots were already ripe for
revolt.  The death of that fierce conspirator checked, but did not
crush, their designs of freedom.  Now was the moment, when Sparta lay
in ruins--now was the moment to realize their dreams.  From field to
field, from village to village, the news of the earthquake became the
watchword of revolt.  Up rose the helots (B. C. 464)--they armed
themselves, they poured on--a wild, and gathering, and relentless
multitude, resolved to slay by the wrath of man all whom that of
nature had yet spared.  The earthquake that levelled Sparta rent her
chains; nor did the shock create one chasm so dark and wide as that
between the master and the slave.

It is one of the sublimest and most awful spectacles in history--that
city in ruins--the earth still trembling--the grim and dauntless
soldiery collected amid piles of death and ruin; and in such a time,
and such a scene, the multitude sensible, not of danger, but of wrong,
and rising, not to succour, but to revenge: all that should have
disarmed a feebler enmity, giving fire to theirs; the dreadest
calamity their blessing--dismay their hope it was as if the Great
Mother herself had summoned her children to vindicate the long-abused,
the all inalienable heritage derived from her; and the stir of the
angry elements was but the announcement of an armed and solemn union
between nature and the oppressed.

IX.  Fortunately for Sparta, the danger was not altogether unforeseen.
After the confusion and horror of the earthquake, a