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Title: Greeks & Barbarians
Author: Kerr, James Alexander
Language: English
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_Extracts from the Reviews._

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_First Published in 1921_

(_All rights reserved_)

  _Stets wird geschieden sein der Menschheit Heer_
  _In zwei Partein: Barbaren und Hellenen._

  HEINE, “_Für die Mouche_.”




There have been many explanations of ancient Greece and its peculiar
spirit. If I may say so, the only original thing about the explanation
offered in this book is its want of originality; for it is the
explanation of the Greeks themselves. They believed that Hellenism
was born of the conflict between the Greeks and the Barbarians. As
Thucydides puts it (I. 3), “Greek” and “Barbarian” are correlative
terms; and Herodotus wrote his great book, “seeking,” as he says,
“digressions of set purpose,” to illustrate just that. About such
an explanation there is obviously nothing startling at all. It is
indeed (at first sight) so colourless and negative, that it must be
dissatisfaction with it which has provoked all the other explanations.
Scholars must have said to themselves, “What is the use of repeating
that Hellenism is the opposite of Barbarism? We know that already.”
But they knew it only in a formal or abstract way. It is but the other
day that classical scholars have begun to study the Barbarian and to
_work out_ the contrast which alone can give us the material for a rich
understanding of the Greek himself. Without this study one’s ideas of
the Greek could not fail to be somewhat empty and colourless. But any
one who cares to read even the meagre outline which these essays supply
will hardly complain that there is a lack of colour.

The subject indeed is so vast that one is compelled to be selective and
illustrative. Even to be this is far from easy. For instance, it seems
extraordinary to write upon the meaning of Hellenism without a chapter
on Greek art. Such a chapter, however, is excluded by the design of
this book, which must dispense with illustrations; whereas in dealing
with literature I could always drive home my point by simple quotation.
Then again it may appear a little old-fashioned and arbitrary that I
confine myself to the centuries before Alexander. But after all it was,
in these centuries that Hellenism rose into its most characteristic
form—and in any case a man must stop somewhere.

We lovers of Greece are put very much on our defence nowadays, and
no doubt we sometimes claim too much for her. She sinned deeply and
often, and sometimes against the light. Things of incalculable value
have come to us not from her. There probably never was a time when she
had not something to learn from the Barbarians about her—from Persia,
from Palestine, from distant China. But when all is said, we owe it to
Greece that we think as we do, and not as Semites or Mongols. I believe
that on the whole our modes of thought are preferable. At any rate they
have on the whole prevailed. And what we students of Greece argue is
that she was fighting our battle; that in the deepest and truest and
most strictly historical sense the future of the things we cherish most
was involved in her fortunes. How then could we fail to sympathise with
her? I have tried to be just; I could not be dispassionate.



  PREFACE                        9

  THE AWAKENING                 13

  KEEPING THE PASS              32

  THE ADVENTURERS               45

  ELEUTHERIA                    82

  SOPHROSYNE                   105

  GODS AND TITANS              122


  NOTES                        205

  INDEX                        213




It began in Ionia. It may in truth have been a reawakening. But if this
be so (and it is entirely probable), it was after so long and deep a
slumber that scarcely even dreams were remembered. The Ionians used to
say that they remembered coming from Greece, long ago, about a thousand
years before Christ—as we reckon it—driven from their ancient home on
the Peloponnesian coast of the Corinthian Gulf by “Dorians” out of the
North. They fled to Athens, which carried them in her ships across
the Aegean to that middle portion of the eastern shore which came
to be known as Ionia. For this reason they were in historical times
accounted (by the Athenians at least) “colonists of the Athenians.”
Nobody in antiquity appears seriously to have disputed this account of
the Ionians. There may be considerable truth in it; and if not, the
Ionians were pretty good at disputing. The Athenians belonged to that
race. But if you questioned the Ionians further and asked them about
their origins in prehistoric Greece, you had to be content with the
Topsy-like answer that the first Ionians grew out of the ground. They
were _Autochthones_, Earth-Children. The critical Thucydides puts it
this way: he says the same stock has _always_ inhabited Attica. People
in his time could remember when old Athenian gentlemen used to wear
their hair done up in a top-knot fastened by a golden pin in the form
of a cicala—because the cicala also is an Earth-Child.

Of course in historical times the Ionians were Greeks. But they may
not always have been Greeks. Herodotus apparently thinks they were
not. He says they learned to speak Greek from their Dorian conquerors.
The natural inference from this would be that they were of a different
racial stock. Herodotus, however, is nearly as fond of a hypothesis
as Mr. Shandy, and it is quite possible that he is here labouring an
argument (which in turn may have been mere Dorian propaganda), that the
only pure-blooded Hellenes were the Dorian tribes, who admittedly came
on the scene much later than the Ionians. In fact the Ionians may have
been simply an earlier wave of a great invasion of Greek-speakers which
came to an end with the Dorians. We do not know, and Herodotus did not
know. The Ionians themselves did not know. There are two possibilities.
Either they were an indigenous people who became Hellenized (as
Herodotus supposes), or they were a folk of Hellenic affinities who
were long settled in Greece in the midst of a still earlier population.
What of that? Only this, that we have suddenly discovered a great
deal about this prehistoric Aegean population, above all that it
had developed a civilization which seems almost too brilliant to be
true. Now if the fugitives who escaped to Ionia were a fragment of
this race, or even were aliens who had only imbibed a portion of its
culture, the awakening which came so long after may have been in fact a

Archæologists, digging in the sites of old Ionian cities, have
discovered evidence that the early settlers possessed something of the
Aegean culture. The crown and centre of that culture was the island
of Crete, and there existed some dim traditions of Cretans landing in
Ionia; only then it was probably not called Ionia. This, and some other
considerations, have prompted the suggestion that the Ionians really
came from Crete. But it seems more in accordance with the evidence to
suppose that the main body of them came from Greece proper, where they
had learned the “Mycenaean” culture, which was the gift of Crete. The
calamitous Dorians wrecked that wonderful heritage, but for some time
at least the settlers in their new “Ionian” home would remember how to
fashion a pot fairly and chant their traditional lays. Then, it would
seem, they all but forgot; little wonder, when you consider how dire
was their plight. Yet even in that uneasy sleep into which they fell
of a recrudescent barbarism the Ionians remembered something as in a
dream; and it became the most beautiful dream in the world, for it is

Now let us appeal to history. The history of Ionia is a drama in little
of what afterwards happened on a wider stage in Greece.

The settlers found a beautiful land with (so Herodotus, not alone,
exclaims) “the best climate in the world.” Considerable rivers, given
to “meandering,” carve long valleys into the hilly interior of Asia
Minor and offered in their mouths safe anchorages for the toy-like
ships of the ancients. It is typical Aegean country and would have
no unfamiliar look to the settlers. Naturally they did not find the
new land empty. It contained a native population who were called, or
came to be called, by the general appellation of “Carians”—barbaric
warriors with enormous helmets crowned by immense horse-hair crests,
and armed with daggers and ugly-looking falchions like reaping-hooks.
The newcomers fought with them, slew largely among them, made some
uncertain kind of truce with them, married their women, got their
interested help against the Persian when he grew powerful. But that
was all. They never succeeded in making them truly Greek or completely
civilized. They only mast-headed them on their hills and, if they
caught one, made a slave of him. Throughout Greek history the Carians
maintained a virtual independence in the highlands of Ionia, keeping
their ancient speech and customs, cherishing the memory of their
old-world glory when they rowed in the ships of King Minos of Crete and
fought his battles, and professing no interest in the wonderful cities
growing up almost or quite in view of their secluded eyries. Very
strange it seems. Yet it is typical. If we think of Greek civilization
as a miracle wrought in a narrow valley with sullen Carians hating it
from the surrounding hills, we shall get no bad picture—for I will not
call it an allegory—of the actual situation all through antiquity till
Alexander came. So near was the Barbarian all the time.

The Ionians had always to struggle against being crowded into the sea
by the more or less savage races of Anatolia. That vast region has
always been full of strange and obscure races and fragments of races.
It is so formed that the migrating peoples flooding through it were
sure to lose side-eddies down its deep, misleading valleys, to stagnate
there. It must, when Ionia was founded, have had a peculiarly sombre
and menacing aspect. The mighty empire of the Hittites had fallen and
left, so far as we can see, a turmoil of disorganized populations
between the sea and the dreadful Assyrians. Here and there no doubt
traces of the Hittite civilization were discernible, sculptures of a
god in peasant dress—a sort of moujik-god—or of that eternal trinity
of Divine Father, Son, and Mother. The wondering Greeks saw a great
cliff at Sipylos fashioned like a weeping woman, and called her Niobe.
They seem to have admired Carian armour and borrowed that. There was
probably nothing else they could borrow from the Carians except their
lands. There was a numerous people dwelling farther inland called the
Lydians, who even then must have had some rudimentary civilization and
who afterwards, absorbing what they could of Ionian culture, threatened
the cities with slavery. Further down the coast, in the south-western
corner of the peninsula, where somewhat later the Dorians settled,
lived the Lycians, who had the kind of civilization which counts
descent on the mother’s side and buries its dead in holes of a cliff,
as sea birds lay their eggs. The northern part of the Aegean coast was
occupied by Mysians, Phrygians and kindred races, who never could get
themselves cultivated. They worshipped gods like Papaios, which is
Papa, and Bagaios, which must be the same as Bog, which is the Russian
for God.

This was the kind of world into which the fugitives were thrown. It
mattered the less perhaps because their real home was the sea. Yet
even the sea gave them only a temporary escape from the Barbarian.
Wherever they landed they met him again on the beach. Imagine, if you
will, a ship trading from the chief Ionian harbour, Miletus. Imagine
her bound for the south-east coast of the Black Sea for a cargo of
silver. She would pick her way by coast and island till she reached the
Dardanelles. From that point onwards she was in unfriendly waters. On
one side were the hills of Gallipoli (Achi Baba and the rest—we do not
know their ancient names), inhabited by “Thracians” of the sort called
Dolonkoi; on the other side was the country of the kindred “Phrygians.”
It was likely to go hard with a Greek ship cast away on either shore.
Thence through the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus into the Euxine.
Then came days and days of following the long Asiatic coast, dodging
the tide-races about the headlands, finding the springs of fresh water
known to the older hands, pushing at night into some rock-sheltered
cove, sleeping on the beach upon beds of gathered leaves. And so at
last to some harbour of “Colchians,” men whose complexion and hair
would make you swear they were Egyptians, circumcised men, violently
contrasting with their neighbours the Phasianoi, who live in the misty
valley of the romantic Phasis—large, fat, sleepy-looking men, flabby
men with pasty faces, who grow flax in the marshy meadows of their
languid stream. From these partially civilized peoples the Greeks would
glean news of the mountain-tribes of the interior, uncanny “Chalybes,”
who know where to find iron and silver in the ribs of their guarded
hills, and the utter savages of the Caucasus, whose single art is
printing the shapes of beasts in colours upon their clothes, and who,
like the beasts, are without shame in love.

Or suppose our ship bound for the corn-bearing region behind the
modern port of Odessa in South Russia. Once through the Bosphorus, she
would make her course along the shore of a wide and wintry territory
inhabited by red-haired, blue-eyed Thracians, a race akin to certain
elements in the population of Greece itself, warlike, musical,
emotional, mystical, cruel. Here and there the merchant would land
for water or fresh meat—at Salmydessos, at Apollonia, at Mesembria,
at Odessos, at Tomi (but we do not know when these places got their
names)—till he reached the mouths of the Danube. Wherever he touched
he might have the chance to hear of wild races further inland, such
as the Getai, very noble savages, who believed in the immortality of
men, or at least of the Getai. They were of the opinion that when
one of them left this life he “went to Salmoxis.” Salmoxis, he lived
in an underground house and was their god. Every four years they
sent a messenger to him to tell what they wanted. Their method was
this. First they told the messenger what he must ask, and then they
tossed him in the air, catching him as he fell on the points of their
spears. If he died, this meant a favourable answer from Salmoxis.
But if the messenger did not die, then they blamed the messenger and
“dispatched” another. Also they used to shoot arrows at the sun and
moon, defying those luminaries and denying their godhead. These were
“the most righteous of the Thracians,” according to Herodotus, who
expresses and perhaps shared the sentiment, at least as old as Homer,
which attributed exceptional virtue to remote and simple peoples like
the Hyperboreans and the Ethiopians and the “Koumiss-Eaters,” the
Hippemolgoi or Glaktophagoi. If the Getai were the most righteous of
the Thracians, one rather wonders what the rest were like. These were
certainly capable of nearly anything in their moments of religious
frenzy. They would tear raw flesh with their teeth, sometimes (it
was whispered) the living flesh of children. At certain times of the
year the Thracian women went mad upon the midnight hills, worshipping
Dionysus. (The wild splendour of that scene shines and shudders like
one of their own torches through the _Bacchae_ of Euripides.) The
Thracians of the coast had an evil reputation as wreckers....

Beyond the Danube was “Scythia.” All that district between the river
and the Crimea was from the earliest times of which we have record what
it is to-day, a grain-growing country. Its capital was the “Market
of the Borysthenites,” which preferred to call itself Olbia, “the
City of Eldorado.” Here the merchant would find a curious population,
very fair in type, great horsemen, wearing peaked caps of felt and
carrying half-moon shields. In the Russian army which fought Napoleon
in 1814 were Siberian archers whom the French nicknamed Les Amours.
I do not venture to say that these were Scythians, but it is clear
that an ancient Scythian (half naked, with his little recurved bow)
must have looked rather like an overgrown barbaric Cupid. At Athens
it was thought comic to stage a Scythian. Only, as to that, it should
be remembered that the Athenians recruited their police from Scythia,
and that the human mind seems to find something inherently comic in a

The Scythians were not all savages. Some of them were skilled farmers.
With these the Greek settlers intermarried, and as early as Herodotus
there was a considerable half-breed population. A motley town like
Olbia was the place for stories—stories of the “Nomads” who neither
plough nor sow, but wander slowly over the interminable steppes with
their gipsy vans in which the women and children huddle under the
stretched roof of skins; stories of the Tauri, who live in the Crimea,
and sacrifice the shipwrecked to their bloody idol, clubbing them on
the head like seals. _And their enemies when they subdue them they
treat as follows. Every man cuts off a head and carries it away to his
house, and then fixing it on a long pole sets it up high above the
house, generally above the chimney; for they will have it that the
whole house is protected by the heads up there. They live by plunder
and fighting._ The Neuroi, another of these Scythian tribes, were
driven from their original home by “serpents,” and _look as if they
might be sorcerers. For the Scyths and the Greeks who live in Scythia
say that once a year every man of the Neuroi turns into a wolf, but
is restored to human shape after a day or two. Now when they say this
they do not convince me_—Herodotus—_still they say it and even take an
oath in saying it. But the Man-Eaters are the worst savages of all, for
they follow neither rule nor law of any kind. They are nomads, and are
dressed like Scyths, and have a language of their own, and are the
only cannibals among those peoples. The Black-Cloaks all wear black
cloaks. Hence their name. Their customs are Scythian. The great tribe
of the Boudinoi have all bright blue eyes and excessively red hair.
They live in a wooden town. They are aboriginal nomads and eat lice._

Beyond the Boudinoi lived a folk that were bald from birth—men _and_
women—besides having snub noses and large chins. The bald ones lived
upon wild cherries, straining the juice off thick and dark, and
then licking it up or drinking it mixed with milk. They dwelt under
trees, every man under his tree, on which in winter he stretched a
piece of white felt to make a kind of tent. On the mountains leaped
goat-footed men; and beyond the goat-footed lived men who slept away
six months of the year. The Issêdones ate their dead fathers, whose
skulls they afterwards gilded and honoured with sacrifices. “In other
respects” they were accounted just, and the women had as much authority
among them as the men. Then came the one-eyed Arimaspeans and the
gold-guarding griffins....

Suppose we change the scene, and send the Milesian ship on a voyage
to the African coast. What would the merchant find there? Herodotus
will tell us. By the shores of the Greater Syrtis live the Nasamônes.
They in summer (he tells us) leave their flocks by the seashore and go
up-country to gather dates at an oasis. They catch locusts, dry them,
pound them, sprinkle the dust on milk, and swallow the draught. Beyond
their territory are the Garamantes “in the Wild Beast Country.” They
run away when they see anybody, and do not know how to fight. West of
the Nasamônes on the coast are the Makai, who dress their hair in the
fashion of a cock’s comb and fight with shields of ostrich skin. Beyond
the Makai live the Gindânes, whose women wear leathern anklets, putting
on a new anklet for every new lover. “And each woman has many anklets.”
On a promontory of this region dwell the Lotos Eaters....

The Nomads roam from oasis to oasis over a land of salt and sand. Here
is found the race of Troglodytes or Cave Men, swiftest of human beings;
whom the Garamantes hunt in four-horse chariots. The Troglodytes feed
upon snakes and lizards and other reptiles. Their language does not
sound human at all but like the squeaking of bats. At some distance
from the Garamantes dwell the Atarantes, among whom nobody has a name.
These, when the sun is excessively hot, curse him and cry him shame for
scorching them and their land. The Atlantes, whose dwelling is under
Mount Atlas and its shrouded peaks, are said to be vegetarians and to
have no dreams. Beyond these stretches the unknown desert, where men
live in houses built of salt, for it never rains there. Hereabouts
wander a number of tribes concerning whom Herodotus remarks generally,
“All these peoples paint themselves vermilion and eat monkeys.”

Well, that was the kind of world in which Greek civilization was born.
Do not say I have been describing a remote barbarism. Remoteness is
relative to more than space, and to the Ionians the sea was no barrier,
but the contrary. They knew the whole south coast of the Black Sea,
for instance, better than their own Asiatic hinterland. But even if
we exclude the Black Sea and Libya as remote, where did they not at
first find barbarism? In Hellas? But they had just escaped from Hellas,
driven out by the wild first “Dorians,” who were steadily engaged in
ruining what the Ionians in their new home were trying to save. In
Mesopotamia? But between it and them lay all mountainous Anatolia
crowded with diverse races, most of them savage, all of them hostile.
Egypt at first and for long was closed to them by an exclusive foreign
policy. The unoriginal and materialistic culture of Phoenicia was
withheld (for what it was worth) by commercial rivalry. The West as yet
had nothing to give. Weak in numbers, in want of everything, shut in
with such neighbours, Ionia discovered in herself the force to rescue
her feet from this mire, and to found our modern civilization of reason
and freedom and imaginative energy.

Naturally the process took time. The first century or so must have
been largely lost in the mere struggle for survival. There may
even have been in some ways a retrogression—a fading out of the
Mycenaean culture, the admission of “Carian” elements needing gradual
assimilation. That period is historically so much of a blank to us,
that when we do begin to note the signs of expansion they give us the
surprise of suddenness. Miletus is all at once the leading city of
the Greek world. It plants colony after colony on the Dardanelles, in
the Sea of Marmara, along the shores of the Euxine. Ionia is awake
while Hellas is still asleep. Ionian traders, Ionian soldiers, Ionian
ships are everywhere. The men of Phokaia opened to trade the Adriatic,
Etruria, Spain. In the reign of Psammetichos—the First or Second—some
Ionian and Carian pirates were forced to land in Egypt. They were clad
according to their fashion in panoply of bronze. An Egyptian came to
the Marshes and told the king that “bronze men from the sea are wasting
the plain,” having never before seen men in such armour. Now the words
of the messenger were the very words of an oracle that had bidden
Psammetichos seek the help of “bronze men from the sea,” so the king
hired the strangers to serve in his army, and by their aid overcame his
enemies. The story (which is in Herodotus) is told in a way to provoke
the sceptical. But wait a moment. At Abusimbel in Upper Egypt there is
a great temple, and before the temple stand colossal statues. On the
legs of one of these are scratched Greek words: _When King Psamatichos
came to Elephantine, those who sailed with Psamatichos the son of
Theokles wrote this; and they went above Kertis, as far up as the
river let them, and Potasimpto led the men of alien speech, and Amasis
the Egyptians. Archon the son of Hamoibichos and Pelekos the son of
Houdamos wrote me_—this is, the inscription. Beneath are the signatures
of Greek-speaking soldiers. The writers must have been Ionian
mercenaries under a leader who for some reason adopted the king’s name.
It is to such fellows we owe our names for Egyptian things. “Crocodile”
is just the Ionian word for a lizard, and “pyramid” really means a
wheaten cake. Ostriches they called “sparrows.” The British private
soldier in Egypt is probably making similar jokes to-day. To return to
the inscription, the “men of alien speech” commanded by Potasimpto—an
Egyptian name—were probably Carians. The date of the writing cannot be
later than 589 B.C. when Psammetichos II ceased to reign. The date is
not so striking as the fact that these fighters (who, to put it gently,
are not likely to have had the best Ionian education) could legibly
write. Their spelling, I admit, is not affectedly purist; but then,
spelling is a modern art.

The first great Ionian (discounting the view of some that Homer was
an Ionian poet) was the greatest of all. This was Archilochus, who
was born in the little island of Paros somewhere about the end of the
eighth century before Christ. His poetry is all but lost, his life
little more than a startling rumour. The ancients, who had him all to
read, spoke of him in the same breath with Homer. He was not only so
great a poet, but he was a new kind of poet. Before him men used the
traditional style of the heroic epic. This Archilochus sings about
himself. We hear in him a voice as personal, as poignant, as in Villon
or Heine or Burns; it is a revolutionary voice. Modern literature has
nothing to teach Archilochus. One can see that in the miserable scanty
fragments of his astonishing poetry that have come down to us.

As for the man himself, the case against him looks pretty black. He
himself is quite unabashed. But he also complains of hard luck, and
there may be something in this plea. If he was a bastard, much could
be forgiven him; but that theory seems to rest on a misapprehension
of his meaning. His father was evidently an important man among the
Parians. There does not appear to be any good reason why Archilochus
should have had so bad a time of it except the reason of temperament.
_One great thing I do know_, quoth he, _how to pay back in bitter kind
the man who wrongs me._ He certainly did know that, but the knowledge
was not going to make him popular. He never could get on with people.
He hated Paros, where, one would have thought, his father’s son had
a fair chance of happiness. _Damn Paros—and those figs—and a life at
sea._ Later he accompanied a colony, led by his father, to the island
of Thasos off the Thracian coast; and he did not like Thasos any more
than Paros. _It sticks up_, he says in his vivid way, _like a donkey’s
backbone, wreathed in wild woods._ He also grumbles that _the plagues
of all Hellas have run in a body to Thasos_. He did not like the sea,
and yet he was a good deal on it. Pulling at an oar and munching onions
no doubt seemed to him a poor conception of life, but a thrilling line
_Let us hide the bitter gifts of the Lord Poseidon_ rather breathes
an imaginative horror. The man is a master of this kind of sinister
beauty. _There were thirty that died—we overtook them with our feet—a
thousand were we who slew._ There you have it again. Oh yes, he had
an overpowering sense of beauty, and a wonderful imagination—but also
he had something else. That was just the tragedy. His genius had a
twist in it which hurt himself as well as other people. He had loved a
girl whom he saw _playing with a branch of myrtle and a rose, in the
shadow of her falling hair_. He believed that she had been promised in
marriage to him; but something happened, and they did not marry. It
may be said for Neoboule and her father that Archilochus was not the
sort they made good husbands of; and if any one is still disposed to
condemn them, he may relent when he hears that the poet assailed them
with a fabulous bitterness of tongue—assailed them till, according to
the story, they hanged themselves. He meantime followed the call of his
temperament, or of the poverty into which his temperament had brought
him, and became a professional soldier. _I shall be called a mercenary
like a Carian_, he says with a touch of what looks like bravado. What
a life for a poet! _I am the servant of the Lord of War, and I know
the lovely guerdon of the Muses_, he says superbly. His way of living
is reflected in his speech. There is lust and drunkenness in it, and a
kind of soldierly joviality. _Wild-fig-tree of the rock feeding many
crows, good-natured Pasiphile who makes strangers welcome_. Pasiphile
hardly needs a commentator. Nor does the half-line preserved by a
grammarian (who quoted it to illustrate the dative case)—_plagued with

Archilochus was sent to fight the Saioi, a wild tribe of the Thracian
mainland opposite Thasos. It would seem that the Greeks were defeated.
At any rate, he for one ran away, abandoning his shield—to Greek
sentiment an unforgivable offence. Who tells us this? Archilochus
himself, adding impudently that he doesn’t care; he can easily get
another shield, and meantime his skin is whole. The ancient world never
quite got over the scandal of this avowal. Archilochus aggravated it
by a poem to a friend in which he remarks that a man who pays much
attention to charges of cowardice won’t have very many pleasures. But
cowards don’t become soldiers, and don’t write humorous accounts of
their misbehaviour. He was a fighter to the last. A man of Naxos killed

There are in the fragments of Archilochus notes of tenderness and even
delicacy, notes of a singularly impressive pathos. There are indeed all
notes in him, from the bawdy to the divine. It would be absurd to call
him a bad man—quite as absurd as to call him a good one. He is a man.
And what makes him so fascinating is just this, that for the first time
in literature a man expresses himself. His extraordinary greatness is
almost a secondary matter by the side of that portentous phenomenon. It
was the Ionians who produced him.

Archilochus was absorbed in his own adventures, but even he must have
noted the tremendous events which were changing the nations before his
eyes. A fierce and numerous folk, known to the Greeks as the Cimmerians
(_Kimmerioi_—their name survives in Crimea and Crim Tartary), broke
loose or were thrust from their homes in the steppes and poured into
Asia Minor, apparently through what is called the “Sangarios Gap”
in Phrygia. You may see them fighting Ionians on a sarcophagus from
Clazomenae which is in the British Museum. They rode bareback on
half-tamed horses and slew with tremendous leaf-shaped swords. They
destroyed the power of Phrygia, then the greatest in the peninsula, and
King Midas, last of his race, killed himself (by drinking bull’s blood,
men said). Lydia succeeded to the place and the peril of the Phrygians.
She was under the rule of a new king (called “Gugu”), who made a
strong fight of it, but was ultimately, about 650 B.C., defeated and
slain by the half-naked riders under their king Tugdammi, who sacked
the Ionian towns. The Ionians, however, made common cause with Ardys
the son of Gugu or Gyges, as the Greeks called him, and along with
the Lydians they beat this Tugdammi and drove away his people. Then
the kings of Lydia, secure and strong and wealthy, turned their arms
against Ionia, which thenceforward has to fight one long and losing
battle with overmastering enemies. Gyges, Ardys, Sadyattes, Alyattes,
Croesus—they all attacked her. Meantime, in the reign of Alyattes, the
greatest of these monarchs, a new and far more imposing power had got
itself consolidated to the east of the Lydian empire. This was the
kingdom of the Medes. The rivals fought a great battle, which ended in
the twilight and alarm of a total eclipse of the sun on May 28, 585
B.C. They made peace for the time, and Alyattes could proceed with the
gradual reduction of the ports. But in the next generation—for all
the East had been set in motion—the Medes in their turn had fallen
under the authority of the kindred Persians and the great conqueror
Cyrus, who in due time rushed west with his invincible footmen and his
unfamiliar camels, destroyed Lydia in a moment, and contemptuously left
a general to complete the conquest of Ionia.

All this time, and even under the Persian, the Ionians continued to
develop and enrich the mind of the world. If science means the effort
to find a rational instead of a mythological explanation of things,
then the Ionians invented science. Thales of Miletus predicted that
eclipse. Anaximander of Miletus held a theory about the origin of
life which anticipates modern speculation. He wrote a book about it,
which was probably the first example of literary prose in Greek.
He also made the first map. His fellow-citizen Hecataeus invented
history.... These are just some of the things the Ionians did. The
rest of the Hellenes—first the colonies in Italy and Sicily, then the
Athenians—caught the flame from them and kept it alive through later
storms. But there was no more than time for this when the eastern cloud
descended on Ionia. Athens could take up the torch. But Ionia was down.



The innumerable East was pouring out of Thessaly into the Malian Plain,
flooding in by two main channels, the hill-road through the pass of
Thaumaki and the coast-road along the shore of the westward-bending
Gulf of Malis. First came the pioneers, then the fighters, then the
multitude of camp-followers and trains of supply which had fed all
those numbers over so many leagues of hostile and unharvested regions.
On attaining the brow of the steep climb to Thaumaki, had one looked
back upon the view which gave this point its name of _The Place of
Wondering_, he must have seen the wide Thessalian plain alive with an
unwonted stir of men and baggage-wains and animals, and touched with
shifting points of barbaric colour. As the continuous stream flowed
past him he could note everything in greater detail—“Persians and Medes
and Elamites,” the different contingents with their varying armature;
footmen and horsemen; sumpter-mules and a number of high-necked,
slow-striding camels, some of them showing on their flanks the proof
that there were lions in Macedonia. Through the noise of the march
would come the babel of strange oriental tongues. Enclosing all this,
very far away could be descried a shadowy girdle of great mountains,
from the highest and most distant of which the gods of Olympus looked
down upon the invasion of Greece.

But Xerxes, driving along the coast-road to where it meets the Thaumaki
route at Lamia, beheld a different sight. Mount Oeta stretched its
wild massif there before him. At its western extremity (which he was
approaching) the range piles itself into a shapeless bulk, crowding
together its summits, which here in a surprising manner suddenly leap
up some six or seven thousand feet from the plain. As the system trends
eastward it sags down to a much lower level, but is there formidably
guarded by the black precipices of the Trachinian Cliffs. Eastward yet
it continues declining, until it is perhaps not three thousand feet
high, then rises again another two thousand. This is the part that was
called Kallidromos. Between the marshy shore of the Gulf and the broken
cliff-wall of the mountain runs the Pass. Towering over all, at a vast
distance rises the strange, enormous peak called Giona; while far to
the south may be descried the most famous mountain in the world.

In the fierce sunlight of that sweltering day the King could not have
failed to mark on his side of the Pass, under the very highest peaks of
the range, a great black gash in the rocky barrier. As he approached
it revealed itself to be the gorge through which the tormented Asôpos
bores its narrow way between sheer walls of an altitude that disturbs
the mind. A little space beyond the gorge, on the farther side of the
Asôpos where it enters the Gulf, begins the Pass. The army was halted.
Xerxes sent forward a scout.

The scout entered the Pass at a point where the sea barely left room
for the road between it and the mountain, which here, gradually
accentuating the gentle slope near the summit, comes down precipitously
in the last few hundred feet. He rode a mile and met no one. Then
the Pass, opening out a little towards the right, showed him the old
temples where the Amphiktyones, the “Dwellers Round,” used to meet
upon their sacred business. The road kept skirting the sea-marsh for a
little, then rose in a long slope. He made his way cautiously to the
summit. Arrived there, he all at once saw, thrust as it were into his
face (so near they seem) the monstrous precipices of Kallidromos, three
thousand feet high, all glistening at its eastern end with the whitish
deposit of those clear bluish-green sulphur springs which gave its name
to this famous place—the “Hot Gates,” _Thermopylae_. But the scout
had no eyes for this great vision, for he saw, where the road again
approaches the rocky wall, the red tunics of Spartan hoplites.

What were they doing? Some of them were practising the use of their
weapons. Some were sitting on the ground and—yes—combing their long
hair! One of them must have made a jest, for the others broke out
laughing. The scout could not understand it at all. He counted them:
a ridiculous handful. There were in fact rather more of them than he
could see; an ancient wall across the Pass hid the rest. The scout rode
quietly back with his information. Now one reason why the Spartans
were combing their hair was this. It was customary among them to comb
the hair of the dead.

They knew what was before them. Two of their spies had been captured
by Xerxes, who let them go after fully showing them his whole array.
The report of the spies was not likely to fall short of the facts as
a result of this policy. All the East was on the march! Besides the
Persians, Medes and Kissians, who formed the flower of the invading
army, were coming the Assyrians, one of the great conquering races
of history, distinguishable by their helmets of bronze and leathern
straps curiously interwoven, by their clubs studded with iron nails,
and by their linen breastplates. There were coming, the Bactrians with
their bows of cane; the Sakai wearing their pointed sheepskin caps
and armed with their native battleaxes; dark Indians in their cotton
garments, carrying their bows of bamboo and iron-tipped arrows. There
were hide-wrapped Caspians bearing sword and bow; Sarangians in dyed
raiment and booted to the knee; Paktyes, Outioi, Mykoi, Parikanioi....
There were Arabians in flowing burnous who shot with the long bow;
Ethiopians in the pelts of leopards and lions bearing spears of
antelope’s horn and bossy maces and huge bows of split palm-wood with
little arrows tipped with agate, who when they went to battle coloured
half their black bodies with chalk and half with vermilion. (The
“Eastern Ethiopians” wore on their heads the scalps of horses with
the mane and ears attached; their shields were the backs of cranes.)
There were Libyans from North Africa in goatskin garments; and buskined
Paphlagonians in plaited headpieces. There were Phrygians, Armenians,
Lydians, Mysians. There were Thracians with their foxskin caps, their
deer-skin buskins, their long, many-coloured mantles. There were tribes
armed with little shields of cow-hide and hunting-spears, two for each
warrior; on their heads were bronze helmets and on the helmets the ears
and horns of an ox in bronze, their legs were bound in crimson puttees.
The Milyai were there, their cloaks fastened by brooches and with
leathern skull-caps on their heads; the Moschoi, whose helmets were
made of wood; the Tibarenes, the Makrônes, the Mossynoikoi; the Mares;
the Colchians with wooden helms and raw-hide shields; the Alarodians
and the Saspeires; the tribes from the islands of the Red Sea....

These (and more) were the infantry of the King. In addition there were
the cavalry and the fleet.

There was the fine Persian cavalry. There were the Sagartians, who
fought with the lasso; Medes and Kissians; Indians, some riding on
steeds, some in chariots drawn by horses or by wild asses; Bactrians
and Sakai; the Libyan charioteers; Perikanians; Arabians on camels.

To form the vast fleet came the famous mariners of Phoenicia and
Syrians of Palestine—helmeted men with linen breastplates and rimless
shields, throwers of the javelin. The Egyptians sent their navy, whose
men had defences of plaited work on their heads, and carried hollow
shields with enormous rims, and were armed with boarding-pikes and
poleaxes and great triangular daggers. The Cyprian contingent could
be recognized by the turbans of their “kings” and the felt hats of
the common sort. The Cilician seamen were there in woollen jerseys.
Pamphylians were there. The Lycian crews wore greaves and cuirasses,
and were armed with bows of cornel wood and reed arrows without
feathers, and with casting-spears; you knew them by the goatskins
floating from their shoulders, their plumed hats, their daggers and
crescent-shaped falchions. The Dorians of Asia were there, men of
Greek race; the subject Ionians, alas; some from the Greek isles; the
Aeolians; the “Hellespontians.” On board of every ship was a band of
fighting men.

To defend the Pass there were three hundred Spartans; to be exact, 297,
all picked men and, that their race might not perish out of Sparta,
all fathers of sons. They were accompanied by their less heavily armed
attendants. There were 2,196 men from Arcadia, 400 from Corinth, 200
from Phlius, 30 from Homeric Mycenae, now a ruinous little town, 700
Thespians, 400 Thebans of doubtful loyalty, 1,000 Phocians, the whole
levy of the Opuntian Locrians; in all not eight thousand men. The whole
force was under the command of one of the two Spartan kings. You know
his name.

The right flank of the Greeks rested upon the narrow seas between the
Malian coast and Euboea. The Athenian fleet was at Artemision guarding
the narrows against the vastly superior navy of the enemy. From the
heights above the road Leonidas could signal to the Athenian admiral.

The King prepared to attack simultaneously by land and sea. While the
great army was making its way into Malis, his fleet was sailing along
the iron coast of Magnesia, where the sea breaks under the imminent
range of wooded Pelion. A squadron was detached to circumnavigate
Euboea and cut off the retreat of the Greek ships in the Straits. Next
morning everything would be ready for the concerted assault. The main
portion of the fleet would enter the Malian Gulf, while the other ships
were entering the “Hollows of Euboea.” Then Xerxes would rush at the

Only—in the sultry night following the long, hot day thunder began to
mutter along the heights of Pelion. It increased to a violent storm,
and the watchers on the Euboean mountains saw every now and then the
whole range lit up by vivid lightning. Then the wind—the “Hellesponter”
from the north-east—rose to so great a fury that the sea was quickly
all in a turmoil. For three days the tempest raged, for three nights
the bale-fires of the Greeks tossed their red beards in the wind.
Great numbers of Persian ships were cast away upon the rocks about
Cape Sepias. The squadron sent to round Kaphareus was wrecked in the
Hollows. So rich a treasure was lost that a farmer near Sepias became
the wealthiest Greek of his time by merely picking up what was washed
upon the beach. And for these three days Xerxes must mark time before
the Pass.

On the fourth day the Persian fleet succeeded in entering the Pagasaean
Gulf. Then Xerxes ordered the attack. His Persian bodyguard, the ten
thousand “Immortals” who were his best troops, were held in reserve.
Meanwhile the Medes and Kissians, admirable infantry to whom victory
had long become a habit, were sent forward to wear down the Spartan
resistance. They were dressed in close-fitting leathern garments, in
trousers (which surprised the Greeks) and curious fez-like caps, of
soft felt or cotton, projecting in a kind of drooping horn at the
front. (But the Kissians wore turbans.) They had sleeved tunics of many
colours and cuirasses of bronzen scales like the skin of some great
fish. They had wicker shields from behind which they cast their long
spears (but the Greek spears were longer) and shot the reed arrows
from their little bows (but the Greek bows were smaller). At their
right sides swung from their girdles their foot-long stabbing swords.
Their emperor, throned on a golden chair with silver feet, watched
them advance to the assault. On his head was a stiff upright fez, on
his feet saffron-tinted slippers. His mantle was purple, purple his
trousers and flowing robe embroidered in white with the sacred hawks of
his god Ahuramazda. He was girt with a golden zone, from which was hung
his Persian sword thickly set with precious stones.

The Medes and Kissians attacked with fury. Against these lighter-armed
troops the Spartans with their metal panoply and great heavy spears
would have been at a terrible disadvantage. It was vital for them to
keep the enemy engaged at close quarters. The tactics of Leonidas
therefore were designed to effect this. His men made short rushes into
the thick of the foe; feigned flights; reformed again and renewed
the charge. They did this again and again. What discipline! In that
narrow space, fifty feet wide, the ponderous Lacedaemonian spears
of the Greek vanguard went through the wicker shields and the scale
armour of the Barbarians like papyrus, while the points of the Median
lances bent or broke against the solid buckler and breastplate of the
Spartan hoplite. Leonidas hardly lost a man. Still the enemy came on,
yelling; their dead choked the mouth of the Pass. Hour after hour in
that late-summer weather the fight raged on. Loaded with their armour,
trusting much to mere superiority of physical strength as they thrust
back the assailants with their shields, all that time the Spartans kept
up these violent rushing tactics. And then Xerxes sent the “Immortals”
at them.

These men were perfectly fresh. They greatly outnumbered, not merely
the Spartans, but all the defenders of the Pass together. They were the
flower of one of the great conquering armies of history. The Spartans
lifted their shields again and renewed the furious fighting. They made
a dreadful slaughter of the Immortals, till at the long day’s end the
Persians fell back, beaten and baffled. The Spartans dropped on the
ground and slept like dead men.

Next day was a repetition of the day before.

Xerxes, or his generals, grew anxious. The closest co-operation with
the fleet was necessary for the victualling of so numerous a host; and
the fleet had failed to penetrate into the Malian Gulf. And the Pass
was not yet forced.

At this critical hour a man craved audience of the King. He was a
Malian Greek, a native of the region, and he knew all Oeta like one of
its foxes. (Long years after, when a price was on his head, something
drew him back to the scene of his immortal crime, to be slain there by
no public avenger.) This fellow offered, for gold, to lead the Persians
by a path he knew, which would take them by a long, steep, circuitous
climb and descent to a position in the rear of the men in the Pass.
The offer was accepted eagerly.

Hydarnes, commanding the Immortals, set out under the guidance of the
traitor. As they left the Persian encampment darkness was falling and
lamps began here and there to glimmer. The guide led the way into the
wild ravine of the Asôpos. If outside the light was failing, here it
was already night. Far above their heads the men could see a star or
two shining between the narrow slit where the sheer walls of the gorge
seemed almost to meet, so high they were. The path, by which a laden
mule could with difficulty pass, followed the course of the rushing
stream over gravel and between great boulders. It was part of the old
hill-road to Delphi and well known to pilgrims and bandits. It had an
evil reputation. “It hath ever been put to an ill use by the Malians.”
(We can imagine to what sort of use our Malian had been wont to put
it.) Moreover the Asôpos would sometimes rise suddenly and come roaring
in spate down the gulley, flooding over the road. A sinister path.

For about three miles the Persians in Indian file threaded the ravine,
which then opened out into a valley, up the slope of which they toiled,
aided by their spears, along a track getting ever rougher and steeper.
Sometimes the way would conduct them through a pitchy wood of firs. Now
and again a man would stumble in the thick scrub or over a projecting
edge of rock. Superstitious terror, begotten of the darkness upon
such hills in the minds of those worshippers of Ahriman, troubled
and silenced them. They emerged at last on a kind of rocky pavement.
Then they descended a ravine and climbed the opposing slope. As they
climbed the darkness lifted a little; a faint glimmer came from their
golden bangles and the pomegranates of gold and silver on the butt of
their spears. When they reached the summit of the path called Anopaia
which they had so long been following, the dawn was clear behind the
acute peak of Mount Saromata.

Anopaia was not unknown to the defenders of the Pass, and Leonidas
had detached his Phocian contingent to guard it. In the silence of
that windless night, in the hour before the break of day, the Phocian
outposts heard a mysterious sound—a sort of light, dry, continuous
roar, gradually growing nearer and louder. It was the Persians passing
through an oak wood and dispersing with their feet the fallen leaves
of many autumns. Suddenly the men appeared in the open. The Phocians
were taken by surprise. Under a shower of arrows they retreated upon
a little fort crowning a height about half a mile away. There they
awaited the attack of Hydarnes. But he, neglecting these Phocians,
pressed on along the path, which now began to descend, very steep and
narrow. In no long time he would be on the road behind Leonidas. The
Pass was turned.

While it was yet night, deserters had come to the Greeks with news of
the march across the mountain. Soon after scouts came running down
from the heights confirming the tale. Tradition says that Leonidas in
so desperate a case bade his allies depart and save themselves; as
for himself and his men, their orders were to defend the Pass to the
utmost. It has, however, been recently suggested that the contingents
which withdrew went to meet Hydarnes. If such was their purpose, either
they came too late, or missed the enemy, or like the Phocians shrank
from the conflict with the odds so heavy against them. At any rate
they now pass out of the story. They were all the Greek forces save
the Lacedaemonians, the thousand who must have composed nearly the
whole fighting power of Thespiai, and four hundred Thebans. Of these
the Thebans, it is said, were retained by Leonidas as hostages, their
city being tainted already with suspicion of disloyalty. Yet they may
have been true men. But the Thespians stayed willingly. Even when it
was known that Hydarnes could not be stopped, they chose to stay.
They had no traditional code of military honour like the Spartans;
their proportionate stake was twenty times greater. “Their leader was
Demophilos the son of Diadromês, their bravest man was Dithyrambos the
son of Harmatidas.”

It was full daylight when Xerxes according to arrangement attacked. The
Greeks, who hitherto had lined up behind the old wall which the Persian
scout had seen drawn along the ridge of a mound within the narrowest
part of the Pass, now, knowing the end was come, issued forth into the
broader space beyond. Then followed a fight which men who only read of
it never forget. The Barbarians came on in wave upon wave; the Greeks
slew and slew. They could see the Persian officers lashing on their men
with whips to the assault. Now and again one of themselves would fall
with a rattle of bronze. But the enemy fell in heaps. Many were thrust
into the sea and drowned; still more were trampled to death beneath
the feet of their fellows. Two brothers of Xerxes were slain.

Then Leonidas fell.

The Spartans gathered about their king and fought to rescue the body.
By this time their spears were broken, and they were fighting with
their swords. One of the two men who had been left behind at the base
in the last stages of ophthalmia appeared, led by his servant. The
helot turned the face of his master towards the enemy and fled. The
blind man stumbled forward, striking wildly, until he was killed. Four
times the Barbarians were driven back, and the body of Leonidas was

Word came that the Immortals were on the road behind them. Therefore
the Greeks changed their plan of battle and retreated to the narrower
portion of the Pass; all but the Thebans, who surrendered to the foe.
The men of Sparta and Thespiai fought their way back to the mound and
behind the stone wall across the mound, and there made their final
stand. With cries the Barbarians swarmed about them on front and flank
and rear. In a moment the wall was down. Such of the Greeks as still
had swords kept using them. When their swords were gone, they fought
with their bare hands; and died at last rending their enemies’ flesh
like wolves with their teeth.

Thus, and not more easily, did Xerxes win through the Pass.



The Greek world, like the English, was largely the creation of
adventurous men. To follow in their track would be in itself a literary
adventure of the most fascinating and entirely relevant to our subject,
the conflict of the Greek and the Barbarian. Unfortunately for our
delight the adventurers did not often write down their experiences; or
if they did, their accounts have for the most part disappeared. There
was a certain Pytheas of Massalia, that is Marseille, who about the
time of Alexander the Great sailed up the eastern coast of England and
discovered Scotland, and wrote a book about it afterwards. We should
like to read that book; if only to see what he said about Scotland.
But his account is lost, and we should hardly know about him at
all, if it were not for a brief reference in the geographer Strabo.
Pytheas seems to have got as far as the Orkney or even the Shetland
Islands—one German sends him on a Polar expedition—and had something
to say about a mysterious “Thule.” He remarked on the extraordinary
length of the summer days in these northern latitudes, thereby
provoking his fellow-countrymen to regard him as “extremely mendacious”

Long before the time of Pytheas one Skylax of Karyanda in Asia Minor—a
Greek or half-Greek—was sent by King Darius to explore the mouths of
the Indus, that “second of all the rivers which produced crocodiles.”
He sailed down a river “towards the dawn and the risings of the sun
into the sea and through the sea westward,” circumnavigating India.
What river was that? Whatever river it was, he accomplished a wonderful
thing. Skylax also wrote a book, apparently, on this voyage. There
exist fragments of his _Voyage Round the Parts Without the Pillars of
Heracles_. His Indian narrative might be the worst written volume in
the world, but it could not fail to excite the imagination in every
sentence. Sailing along a river of crocodiles in a Greek galley in the
reign of Darius the King!

Skylax was an Ionian or an Ionized Carian; and this reminds us that
Ionia produced the first adventurers. There went to the making of that
colony a great commingling of races. The first settlers may actually
have come from Crete bringing with them what they could of the dazzling
Cretan civilization. Many certainly came from Greece, which had enjoyed
a civilization derived from Crete. No doubt the colonists had to accept
help from any quarter and adopt dubious fugitives from Dorianized
Hellas and “natives”—Carians, Lydians, Leleges and the like, who had
learned to speak a kind of Greek—and marry native wives, who had not
even learned to do that, and who would not eat with their husbands, and
persisted in a number of other irrational and unsympathetic customs.
But it is possible to believe that some memory of the ancient lore
was long preserved, and in particular a knowledge of the sea-routes
the Cretan ships had followed. I have argued elsewhere in this sense,
venturing the suggestion that the Greek colonial empire (which started
from Ionia) began in an effort to re-establish the great trading system
which had its centre in early Crete. Excavators keep on discovering
signs of Cretan—“Minoan” or “Mycenaean”—influences in the very places
to which the Greek colonists came; and it looks as if they came because
they knew the way.

The Ionian cities were nearly all maritime, and this in the fullest
sense that the word suggests. The relation of Miletus, for example,
to the Aegean did not less effectually mould the character of that
state than the Adriatic moulded Venice. Therefore to understand
Ionia we must approach her from the sea. She early discovered that
this was her element. From Miletus harbour, from the shell-reddened
beach of Erythrae, from Samos, from Chios, from Phokaia her ships
ventured yearly farther, seeking (if we are right) to recover the old
trade-connexions so long severed by the Invasions; to recover the old
and, if possible, to pick up new. Ionian seamen became famous for their
skill and hardihood. Not merely in the Aegean, but also in remoter
waters, it soon became a common thing to see a little wooden many-oared
vessel, a great eye painted on either bow (to let her see her way, of
course), a touch of rouge on her cheeks; her sail set or her rowers
rowing to the music of one that played on a flute. Her burden would
be (for a guess) wine and olive oil and black-figured pottery, with
a quantity of the glittering rubbish with which traders have always
cheated natives—for the chief an embroidered belt or a woollen garment
dyed as red as possible, for his wife a bronze mirror or a necklace of
glorious beads. Having reached her destination and done good business,
the ship would leave behind one or two of the crew with instructions
to collect and store the products of the country against her return
next spring. If all went well and the natives did not suddenly attack
and exterminate the foreign devils in their midst, the storehouses
would increase and the settlers with them, until at last the factory
seemed important enough to undergo the solemn ceremony of “foundation”
(_Oikismos_) and to be called a “colony” (_Apoikia_). Normally the
“foundation” meant a great influx of new settlers, and from it the
colony dated its official existence. But it might have had a struggling
unofficial existence quite a long time before. More likely than not it
had. These settlements at the sea-ends of trade-routes are immemorially

Let me quote an anecdote from Herodotus. He is engaged in relating the
saga of the founding of Cyrene by certain men of the Aegean island
Thera, and at a point in his narrative he says of these Theraeans:

_In their wanderings they came to Crete and namely to the city of
Itanos. There they meet a man that was a seller of purple, whose name
was Korôbios; who said that he had been caught in a tempest and carried
to Libya, even to the island of Platea, which is part of Libya. This
man they persuaded to go with them to Thera, giving him money; and
from Thera men sailed to view the land, being few in number as for the
first time. But when Korôbios had guided them to this Isle Platea, they
leave him there with provision for certain months, and themselves set
sail with all speed to report concerning the island to the Theraeans.
Now when they did not return in the time agreed upon, Korôbios was
left with nothing. But then a ship of Samos that was voyaging to
Egypt put in at this Platea; and when the master of the ship, whose
name was Kolaios, and the other Samians had heard the whole tale from
Korôbios, they left him a year’s food, and themselves put off from the
isle, being eager to make Egypt. However, they were driven from their
course by a wind out of the east. And passing out through the Pillars
of Heracles they arrived at Tartessos, the wind never ceasing to blow.
Thus were they marvellously led to this market, which at that time was
untouched, so that these men won the greatest profit in merchandise of
all Greeks of whom we surely know._

It would be easy to write a long commentary on that story. I might
invite the reader to share my admiration of an art which makes you see
so much in so little. You see the lonely man on his desert island of
sand and scrub, with no companions but the wild goats (if goats there
were) and the sea-birds fishing among the breakers. You picture his
despair as he watches his store of victuals coming to an end, with no
sign of his returning shipmates; his extravagant joy when he descries
a Greek vessel; the astonishment of the strangers at the sight of
this Crusoe; his bursting eagerness to tell them “the whole tale”;
the departure of the Samians and the belated reappearance of the
Theraeans; the face of Korôbios as he goes down to meet them, thinking
of the things he will say. But the point I wish more particularly to
make is the significance for history of the story. Desiring to learn
what they can of the commercial possibilities of the Cyrenaica, the
Theraeans come to Crete, and not only to Crete, but to that part of
it where there still dwelt in the eastern corner of the long island a
remnant of Eteocretans, that is “Cretans of Pure Blood,” descendants of
the “Minoan” Cretans, who had been such famous traders and mariners.
Itanos, where Korôbios lived, was an Eteocretan town. It has been
excavated and has revealed material evidence of “Minoan” culture.
That the ships of Minos visited Cyrenaica any one would conjecture
who looked at a map. Ethnographers and archæologists adduce arguments
of their own pointing to the same conclusion. Where the Greek town of
Cyrene later grew up was the end of a caravan-route of unknown age
from the Oasis of Siwah to the Mediterranean. Was not trade done there
by the Minoans long before it was reconstituted as a “colony” of the
Theraeans? Might not some knowledge of this African market and the
sea-road thither linger on among the ruined and hunted Eteocretans?

In Herodotus’ account Korôbios appears to know only Platea, and it
only by accident. That Eteocretan then must have felt no end of a
surprise when the Samians came so opportunely to his help in the
island he had “discovered.” Platea is supposed to be the little island
of Bomba, which gives its name to the Gulf of Bomba. The Theraeans
stayed in Platea a matter of two years. Then, urged by want and the
Delphian Oracle, they landed in a body on the mainland opposite the
island. It was a beautiful spot called Aziris, shut in by wooded
hills and nourished by a river. Here they lived six years. Then at
last, guided by friendly Libyans—are not those “friendlies” somewhat
significant?—they pushed on to the site of what came to be known as
the city of Cyrene. Korôbios has dropped out of the story, and the
whole business looks like a bit of “peaceful penetration” into unknown
country. That is the impression Herodotus wishes to convey. But it is a
wrong impression, for somebody did know a remarkable amount about the
Cyrenaica. The god of Delphi knew. It is he who is always urging the
reluctant Theraeans from stage to stage of their advance. Herodotus,
less perhaps from pious than artistic motives, emphasizes the contrast
of the divine foreknowledge with the timid ignorance of men; it makes
everything more dramatic. But we need not suffer ourselves to be
imposed upon. For the god we substitute his ministers. The priests at
Delphi had in their possession some previous information about the
Libyan coast. They made a point of collecting such information. Where
they got this particular piece of knowledge we do not know; but the
old Homeric hymn tells how in ancient days a ship sailed from Crete to
establish the oracle at Delphi.

But we have not yet exhausted the interest of that brief excerpt from
Herodotus. Our thoughts travel with those Samians who, making for
Egypt, were driven by contrary winds farther and farther west, until
at last they passed the Straits of Gibraltar and found a superb new
market at Tartessos just outside. It has been generally believed by
scholars that Tartessos is the Tarshish with which, as we read in the
Old Testament, King Hiram of Tyre exchanged merchandise; but of this
there is now some doubt. Tartessos stood on an island at the mouth of
the Guadalquivir, and was doubtless known to the Phoenicians before
the Samians got there. It is surely of it that Arnold is thinking at
the end of that long simile which concludes _The Scholar Gipsy_, when
he tells how the Phoenician trader after passing the Atlantic straits
reaches a place where _through sheets of foam, shy traffickers, the
dark Iberians come_. The discovery of the Atlantic made a profound
impression on the Greek mind. Pious and conservative spirits, like
Pindar, thought it wicked to venture beyond the Straits; and indeed, it
was long before any one did venture far, because, for one thing, the
sort of craft which was suited to the tideless Mediterranean could not
face so well the different conditions of the ocean. For another thing,
the Phoenicians had got a monopoly of the British trade.

We do not know how the Samians lost the market of Tartessos, but
in later times we find their fellow-countrymen the Phokaians in
possession. This privilege was the result of the friendliness of
Arganthonios, King of the Tartessians, who reigned eighty years and
lived to be “quite a hundred and twenty.” The Phokaians perhaps
deserved their luck, for they were the most daring of all the Ionian
navigators. Some of their adventures would doubtless make good reading.
The Phokaians also attract us because of all the Ionians they loved
their freedom most. When Harpagos, the general of Cyrus, besieged them,
rather than live even in a nominal subjection to the Persian, they
launched their famous fifty-oared ships, and embarking their wives and
children and furniture sailed to Chios. However, the Chians could not
help them, so they decided to go and settle in distant Corsica. But
first they made a sudden descent on their city and slew the Persian
garrison which had occupied it. _Then, when this had been done by them,
they made strong curses against any who should remain behind of their
company. And beside the curses they sank also a lump of iron and sware
an oath that they would not return to Phokaia until this lump came up
to light again. But as they were setting out for Corsica, more than
half the people of the town were seized with longing and pity for their
city and the familiar places of the land, and broke their oath and
sailed back to Phokaia_. The remnant reached Corsica, where they dwelt
five years. Then they fought a disastrous drawn battle with a fleet of
Etruscans and Carthaginians. Once more they took on board their wives
and children and property and sailed away, this time to Reggio, from
which they set out again and “founded that city in the Oenotrian land
which is now called Hyele,” better known as Elea, a little south of

Half a century later, when the Ionians revolted against the Persian
rule, they chose for their admiral a Phokaian called Dionysios. Later
they regretted their choice, considering Dionysios to be altogether too
much of a disciplinarian, and would no longer take his orders. Disunion
broke out among them, and they were entirely defeated at the Battle of
Ladê. What did Dionysios do? He captured three of the enemy’s vessels,
and then, to elude pursuit, sailed into the Levant, where he sank a
number of trading-barks and collected a great treasure. Then he made
for Sicily, where he “set up as a buccaneer,” sparing Greek ships of
course, but attacking Etruscans and Carthaginians. I suppose it _was_
piracy, but at least it was Drake’s sort, not Captain Kidd’s. We may
hope he came to a good end.

There was a contemporary of Dionysios who is an even more significant
figure for our understanding of Hellenism. This is Demokêdês of Kroton.
The political background of the story of Demokêdês, as it is told by
Herodotus, does not quite harmonize with the rest of his history, for
it implies a policy towards Greece which Persia did not adopt till
later. But otherwise there is no reason to doubt that things happened
much as Herodotus says. Demokêdês was born at Kroton in the extreme
south of Italy. It is a town famous in the history of medicine. We do
not know how the medical school there originated. The earliest seems to
have been in the Aegean island of Kos in connexion with the worship of
Asklepios (Aesculapius), the God of Healing. Whether the physicians of
Kroton had an independent tradition or not, they soon became famous.
The first great name is Demokêdês. That he had a teacher we know from
his words to Darius, but he has not mentioned his teacher’s name. The
fact is that Demokêdês was the first doctor whose personality refused
to be merged in the guild to which he doubtless belonged. At Kos the
guild was so powerful (it had a semi-religious character there) that it
was not until the Peloponnesian War that the world heard the personal
name of one of its members—Hippokratês. Thus Demokêdês corresponds to
Archilochus. I am about to tell again the story of a man of genius.

_At Kroton he was always quarrelling with his father, who had a
violent temper. When he could not stand him any longer, he left him
and went to Aegina. Settling down there, he in his first year proved
his superiority to all the other doctors, although he lacked an outfit
and had none of the instruments of his art. And in his second year the
Aeginetans hired him for a talent paid by the State, in the third year
the Athenian people hired him for a hundred silver pounds, and in the
fourth year Polykratês_—tyrant of Samos—_for two talents_.

The instant recognition of Demokêdês is not only an indication of his
genius, it shows a remarkable degree of enlightenment on the part of
contemporary Greek governments. More credit belongs, no doubt, to the
Aeginetans and Athenians than to Polykratês, who evidently retained
the services of Demokêdês for the court at Samos. Yet Polykratês too
was enlightened. Under his absolute rule or “tyranny,” which is the
Greek technical term, the Ionian island of Samos had become the most
splendid state in Greece. _Not counting those who became tyrants of the
Syracusans, there is none of all the other Greek tyrants who is fit to
be compared to Polykratês in magnificence_. This position was won by
sea-power. _Polykratês is the first of those Greeks we know who aimed
at the Thalassocracy_ (the command of the sea) _save Minos the Knossian
and any one else who acquired the rule of the sea before Minos_—an
interesting remark in view of the theory that the Ionians definitely
aimed at reconstituting the maritime empire of prehistoric Crete. This
glittering tyrant suffered at last a reversal of fortune so strange
and complete that it became a proverbial instance of the hand of God
in human affairs. He was enticed to the Asiatic continent opposite his
island by the Persian grandee Oroitês, and there treacherously seized
and with nameless tortures put to death. His _entourage_ became the
slaves of Oroitês. One of them was Demokêdês.

Some years afterwards King Darius, who had in the meanwhile succeeded
to the throne, was flung from his horse while hunting and dislocated
his ankle. He entrusted his injury to the court-physicians at Susa,
who were Egyptians, Egypt being the home of a very ancient body of
medical lore transmitted from father to son. But the Egyptian doctors
_by wrenching and forcing the foot made the evil greater. For days
seven and seven nights Darius was possessed by sleeplessness by reason
of the malady which beset him, but on the eighth day, when the King
was in poor case, one who had caught a report in Sardis before he came
to Susa of the skill of Demokêdês of Kroton made report to Darius;
and he commanded that he be brought before him with all speed. And
when they had discovered him among the slaves of Oroitês in some
neglected corner, they brought him into the presence dragging his
fetters and clothed in rags. And as he stood there Darius asked him
if he understood the art; but he would not admit it, fearing that, if
he discovered himself, he would lose Hellas altogether. But Darius
perceived clearly that he understood the art, but was feigning, and he
commanded the men who had brought him to bring forth pricks and goads.
Then indeed Demokêdês discovers himself, saying that he had no accurate
knowledge of the matter, but having been the disciple of a leech he had
some poor knowledge of that skill. Afterwards when he had entrusted
himself to him, by using Greek remedies and applying mild cures after
the violent he caused him to get sleep, and in short space restored
him to sound health, that no longer hoped to have his foot whole
again. For a gift thereafter Darius bestows on him two pairs of golden
fetters; but Demokêdês asked him if he thus doubled his misfortunes for
a gift, just because he had made him whole. Darius was pleased at the
speech and sends him to his wives. And the eunuchs who led him there
said to the women that this was the man who had given back his life
to the King. And each of them, plunging a cup in the chest of gold,
gave Demokêdês so rich a gift that his servant, whose name was Skiton,
following him gathered up the nobles that fell from the cups, and a
great deal of gold was amassed by him._

_Then Demokêdês having healed Darius had a very great house at Susa,
and sat at table with the King, and had all else save one thing only,
namely his return to the Greeks. And the Egyptian physicians, who
formerly tended the King, when they were about to be impaled on the
stake for that they had been overcome by a Greek physician, he both
saved by his prayers to the King, and also rescued a prophet of Elis,
who had followed Polykratês, and was neglected among the slaves. And
Demokêdês was a very great matter with the King._

Herodotus is so interesting that it is almost inexcusable to interrupt
him; but the essayist has to study brevity. I will therefore in the
main summarize what follows, indulging myself in only one remark (which
has probably already occurred to my reader) that of course the story
has passed through the popular imagination, and that the historian has
to admire, not so much the caprice of destiny, as the genius of an
indomitable personality.

Shortly after the accident to Darius, his queen Atossa was afflicted
by an ulcer on her breast. Atossa was an unspeakably great lady. She
was the daughter of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire.
She had been the wife of the son and successor of Cyrus, her brother
Cambyses. Now she was the wife of Darius and the mother of Xerxes.
Darius himself may well have been a little in awe of her. She outlived
him, if we may believe Aeschylus, who has introduced her into his play
of _The Persians_, uttering magnificent stately lamentations over the
ruin of the Persian cause in Hellas, and evoking from his royal tomb
the ghost of the “god” Darius. Such was the half-divine woman, who
was to help Demokêdês back to the Greece for which he felt so deep a
nostalgia. A single touch of Herodotus makes her as real as any patient
you have seen in a hospital. _So long as the thing was comparatively
little she concealed it and being ashamed of it did not tell anybody,
but when she was seriously ill she sent for Demokêdês._ He cured her
after extracting a promise, which she fulfilled in the following
manner. She persuaded Darius to plan an expedition against Greece and,
as an aid to this, to send Demokêdês to make a report on his native
country. The King then summoned fifteen Persians of distinction and
instructed them to accompany Demokêdês on the projected voyage along
the coasts of Hellas in quest of intelligence, commanding them on
no account to let Demokêdês escape. Next he sent for his healer and
explained the nature of the employment to which he designed to put
him. He bade Demokêdês take all his movable possessions with him as
presents for his father and his brethren, promising to requite him
many times over. Demokêdês declined this offer, that he might not
betray himself by too manifest an eagerness. He did accept the gift
of a merchant-vessel freighted with “goods of every sort” for his
“brethren”—and for his father too, we may hope, that irascible old man.

The expedition went first to Sidon, where they fitted out two triremes
and the merchant-vessel freighted with goods of every sort, then sailed
for Greece. They touched at various points of the coast, spying out
the land and writing down an account of what seemed most remarkable.
In this way they came at last to Tarentum in Italy. There Demokêdês
got in touch with Aristophilidês, whom Herodotus calls the “king”
of the Tarentines. Aristophilidês removed the steering-apparatus of
the foreign ships, which prevented their sailing, and imprisoned the
crew as spies; while Demokêdês took advantage of their predicament to
escape to his native Kroton. Then Aristophilidês released the Persians
and gave them back their rudders. They at once sailed in pursuit of
their prisoner, and found him at Kroton “holding the attention of the
Agora,” which was the centre of Greek city-life. There they _sought
to lay hands on him. And some of the men of Kroton, fearing the might
of Persia, would have yielded him up, but others gat hold of him on
their part, and began to beat the Persians with their staves; who made
profession in such words as these: “Ye men of Kroton, consider what ye
do; ye are taking from us a man that is a runaway slave of the King.
How then shall King Darius be content to have received this insult? And
how shall your deeds serve you well, if ye drive us away? Against what
city shall we march before this, and what city shall we try to enslave
before yours?” So spake they, but they did not indeed persuade the
men of Kroton, but had Demokêdês rescued out of their hands, and the
merchantman, which they had brought with them, taken away from them,
and so sailed back to Asia; neither did they seek any further knowledge
concerning Greece, though this was the object of their coming; for they
had lost their guide. Now as they were putting forth, Demokêdês charged
them with no message but this, bidding them tell Darius “Demokêdês is
married to Milo’s daughter.” For the name of Milo the wrestler was of
great account with the King. I think that Demokêdês hurried on this
marriage, paying a great sum, in order that Darius might see clearly
that in his own country also Demokêdês was a great man._

The explanation of Herodotus is convincing. Demokêdês was suffering
from repressed egotism. He had had wealth and consideration in Persia,
but he could not breathe its spiritual atmosphere. It is pleasant to
reflect that in the court of Susa he may have regretted his father.
To the Hellenic mind it was a chief curse in Barbarism that it swamps
the individual. How shall a man possess his soul in a land where the
slavery of all but One is felt to be a _natural_ state of things? So
in ancient Greece it was above all else personality that counted;
freedom was a merely external matter unless it meant the liberation
of the spirit, the development (as our jargon expresses it) of
personality—although this development realized itself most effectively
in the service of the State. Greek history is starred with brilliant
idiosyncrasies—Demokêdês being one, whom we may now leave triumphant
there at home in his flaming Persian robe, “holding the attention of
the Agora” with his amazing story.

It would be too strange an omission to say nothing about that which,
before Alexander’s tremendous march, is the most familiar of all Greek
adventures among the Barbarians; I mean that suffered and described by
Xenophon the Athenian. Again we witness the triumph of a personality,
although that is not the important thing about the Retreat of the Ten
Thousand. The important thing is the triumph of the Greek character in
a body of rascal mercenaries. The personality of the young gentleman
who gained so much authority with them found its opportunity in a
crisis among ignorant men, but it never became a great one. To the
last it was curiously immature. Perhaps it would be an apter metaphor
to say of Xenophon what some one said of Pitt—“He did not grow, he was
cast.” His natural tastes were very much those of a more generous and
incomparably greater man, Sir Walter Scott. They were the tastes of a
country gentleman with a love of literature and history, especially
with a flavour of romance. The _Cyropaedia_ is the false dawn of the
Historic Novel. Both Xenophon and Sir Walter wanted, probably more
than anything else, to be soldiers. But Xenophon wanted to be too many
things. Before his mind floated constantly the image of the “Archical
Man”—the ideal Ruler—who had long exercised the thoughts of Greek
philosophers, of none perhaps more than Socrates, whose pupil Xenophon
professed himself to be. One day it seems to have struck him: Might not
he, Xenophon, be the Archical Man? He may not have framed the thought
so precisely, for it is of the kind that even youth does not always
admit to itself; but the thought was there. It was his illusion. He
was not born to command, he was born to write. He did not dominate, he
was always more or less under the influence of some one else—Socrates,
Cyrus, Agesilaos. He was an incredibly poor judge of men and the
movement of affairs. But put a pen in his hands and you have, if not
one of the great masters, yet a master in a certain vivid manner of his

He can have been little more than a boy when Fate sent him his
incomparable adventure. The King of Persia had died leaving two sons,
his heir and successor Artaxerxes, and Cyrus, the favourite of their
dreadful mother, the dowager queen Parysatis. The younger son began
secretly to collect and mobilize an army in Asia Minor, where authority
had been delegated to him, intending to march without declaration of
war against Artaxerxes. Xenophon was introduced to Cyrus by Proxenos
of Boeotia, who indeed had induced him to visit Sardis. Proxenos, says
his friend, _thought it was sufficient for being and being thought an
Archical Man to praise him who did well and to refrain from praising
the wrongdoer. Consequently the nice people among those who came into
contact with him liked him, but he suffered from the designs of the
unscrupulous, who felt that they could do what they pleased with him_.
Xenophon appears to have fallen immediately under the spell of Cyrus,
who undoubtedly has somewhat the air of a man of genius and who, as
a scion of the Achaemenids, would in any case have inspired in him
much the same feeling as a Bourbon inspired in Sir Walter Scott. In
the army of invasion was a large body of Greek mercenary soldiers,
chiefly from the Peloponnese, under the command of a hard-bitten
Spartan _condottiere_ called Klearchos. Xenophon joined this force as
a volunteer. He believed at the time, as did Proxenos, who was one of
the “generals” (_Strategi_), and indeed everybody except Klearchos,
who was in the secret, that the expedition was preparing against the
Pisidians, hill-tribes delighting in brigandage. It was not until the
army had passed the “Cilician Gates” of the Taurus and had reached
Tarsus that the Greek troops found confirmed their growing suspicion
that they were being led against the King. They protested and refused
to go farther. Their discontent was allayed with difficulty, but it
is clear that Xenophon had already made up his mind. He went with the
rest. They threaded the “Syrian Gates” of the range called Amanus, and
struck across the desert. Having reached the Euphrates, they followed
the river into “Babylonia,” what we call Mesopotamia, as far as Kunaxa,
in the region where the two great streams begin to open out again after
coming so close in the neighbourhood of Bagdad. At Kunaxa the Great
King met them with an enormous army. A huge disorderly battle followed,
in which the Greeks very easily dispersed everything that met them—but
Cyrus was slain.

What were they to do? The whole purpose of the campaign—to put Cyrus
on the throne—had vanished. It was clear to them that they could not
rely on the Barbarians who had marched with them the two thousand miles
from Sardis. Nothing to do but retreat. But retreat by the way they
had come was no longer possible, since they had eaten up the country.
It remained to follow the line of the Tigris up into Armenia, and so
cross—in the winter—that savage plateau, in the hope of coming at last
to Trebizond, away there on the Euxine, all those leagues away.

So they set out. It was the first requirement of their plan to cross
Babylonia to the Tigris. Breaking up their camp at dawn, they were
alarmed in the afternoon by the sight of horses, which at first they
took for Persian cavalry, but soon discovered to be baggage-animals out
at grass. That in itself was surprising—it seemed the King’s encampment
must be near. They continued their advance, and at sunset the vanguard
entered and took up their quarters in some deserted and pillaged huts,
while the rest of the army, with much shouting in the darkness, found
such accommodation outside as they could. That was a night of panics.
An inexplicable uproar broke out in camp, which Klearchos allayed by
proclaiming a reward for information against “the individual who let
loose the donkey.” The enemy, as appeared in the morning, had been
equally nervous. At least he had vanished from the neighbourhood.
Moreover heralds now appeared offering a truce from the King. The offer
was accepted under promise that the Greek army would be provisioned.
So the host set out again under the guidance of the King’s messengers
through a country all criss-crossed by irrigation-ditches, looking
suspiciously full of water for the time of year. However, they soon
reached some villages full of food and drink. There were some dates ...
“like amber,” says Xenophon reminiscently. (He had got no breakfast
that morning.) Here also they tasted “the brain of the palm”—the
“cabbage”—delicious, but it gave them a headache.

In these excellent villages they remained three days and continued
negotiations with Tissaphernes, the subtle representative of the King.
As a result of the conversations they moved on again under the satrap’s
direction as far as the towering “Wall of Media,” which crossed the
land in a diagonal line towards Babylon, being twenty feet broad, a
hundred feet high, and twenty leagues long. From the Wall they marched
between twenty and thirty miles, crossing canals and ditches, until
they struck the Tigris at Sittakê, where they encamped in a “paradise”
full of trees. At the bridge of Sittakê met the roads to Lydia and
Armenia, to Susa and Ecbatana (Hamadan). Next morning the Greeks
crossed without opposition and advanced as far as a considerable stream
traversed by a bridge at “Opis,” near which populous centre they found
themselves observed by a large force of Asiatics. Thereupon Klearchos
led his men past in column two abreast, now marching and now halting
them. Every time the vanguard stopped the order to halt went echoing
down the line, and had barely died out in the distance when the advance
was resumed; _so that even to the Greeks themselves the army seemed
enormous, while the Persian looking on was astounded_.

They were now in “Media”—really Assyria—a very different country from
the “Garden of Eden” they had left on the other side of the Tigris.
They marched and marched, and at last reached a cluster of dwellings
called the “Villages of Parysatis.” Then another twenty leagues to
the town of Kainai and the confluence of the Tigris with the Greater
Zab, on whose bank they rested three days. All this time the enemy,
although never attacking, had been following in a watchful cloud.
Klearchos therefore sought an interview with Tissaphernes to discover
his intentions. The satrap responded with Oriental courtesy and invited
to a discussion at his headquarters Klearchos and the other generals,
namely Proxenos, Menon, Agias and Socrates the Achaean. With grave
misgivings, relying on the faith of the Barbarian, they entered the
Persian camp. There they were immediately arrested. The officers who
had accompanied the generals were cut down, and the Persian cavalry
galloped out over the plain, killing every Greek they could find. The
Hellenes from their camp could make out that something unusual was
happening in that distant cloud of horse, but what it was they never
guessed until Nikarchos the Arcadian came tearing along with his hands
upon a great wound in his belly, holding in his entrails. He told them
his story; they ran to arm themselves. However, the enemy did not come
on. Meanwhile the generals were sent to the King, who had them beheaded.

As for the leaderless men, _few of them tasted food that evening, only
a few kindled a fire, many did not trouble to return to their quarters
at all, but lay down where each happened to find himself, unable to
close their eyes for misery and longing for the home-town, and father,
and mother, and the wife, and the baby_. Xenophon got a little sleep
at last, and as he slept he dreamed that his father’s house was struck
by a thunderbolt and set on fire. The dream was so vivid that he awoke
and began to ponder what it might signify. His excited imagination
revived in still more startling colours the terrors of the situation.
Here was the stage set for a moving scene. Where was the hero? Where
was the Archical Man? Here at last was the opportunity he had prayed
for. There was kindled that night in Xenophon the flame of a resolution
which, while it lasted, did really keep at the heroic pitch a spirit
secretly doubtful of itself. It was the sense of drama acting on an
artistic temperament; and of course that army, being Greek, accepted
the miracle and naturally assumed its rôle. The gentleman ranker
developed a Napoleonic energy, and made eloquent speeches (for which he
dressed very carefully); with the result that he was chosen one of the
new generals. He became in fact henceforward the leading spirit, and
was entrusted with the most difficult task—the command of the rearguard
in a fighting retreat. He made mistakes; he was not a Napoleon. But the
distinguished French officer who has written the best military history
of the Retreat gives him high credit for his grasp of the principles of
war, which General Boucher believes he learned from Socrates. Perhaps
you have not thought of Socrates as an authority on the art of war?

Next morning they crossed the Zab—it was the dry season—but had not
advanced far on the other side when they were overtaken by a small
force of horsemen, archers and slingers under the command of a certain
Mithradates. These approached in a seeming-friendly manner until they
were fairly near, when all at once they began to ply their bows and
slings. The Greek army, marching in hollow square, could not retaliate.
A charge failed to capture a single man, the enemy retiring before
the charge and shooting as they retired, according to the “Parthian”
tactics which were to become famous in Roman times. That day the Greeks
covered little more than three miles. Clearly something must be done
about it. Xenophon discovered that the army contained some Rhodians,
who could sling leaden bullets twice as far as the Persians could cast
their stones, which were “as big as your fist.” These Rhodians then
were formed overnight into a special corps and instructed in their
task. Next day the host set out earlier than usual, for they had to
cross a ravine, where an attack would be especially dangerous. When
they were about a mile beyond, Mithradates crossed after them with a
thousand horsemen and four thousand archers and slingers. No sooner
had he come within range than a bugle rang out and the special troops
rushed to close quarters. The enemy did not await the charge, but
fled back to the ravine pursued by a small body of mounted men for
whom Xenophon had somehow collected horses. It was a brilliant little
victory, stained by the infamy of some, who mutilated the dead—a thing
so startlingly un-Greek that I cannot remember another historical
instance. And here what was done was not done in cold blood.

In the evening of that day they came to a great deserted city, the
name of which was Larissa. A great city; it was girdled by a wall two
leagues in length, twenty-five feet in thickness, and a hundred feet
high. Hard by was a pyramid of stone two hundred feet in height, where
the Greeks found many fugitives who had sought refuge there from the
neighbouring villages. Their next march brought them to another great
empty fortress, called Mespila, opposite what we now call Mosul.
Somewhere in this region of Larissa and Mosul had anciently stood
the enormous city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria; and the whole
district (as one gathers from Xenophon) was full of dim legends of an
overwhelming disaster. The soldiers were marching over the grave of an
empire. Even the fragments were imposing. Mespila was based on a kind
of ring, fifty feet broad and fifty feet high, built all of a polished
stone “full of shells”; and on this foundation rose a wall of bricks,
the breadth of it fifty feet, and the height four hundred, and the
circuit six leagues.

Beyond Mespila Tissaphernes attacked again with what appeared a very
large force. But his light-armed troops were no match for the Rhodian
slingers and the Cretan bowmen, whose every shot told in the dense
array of the enemy, who withdrew discomfited. The Greek army was now
approaching the mountains, which they had long seen towering on the
horizon. It appeared to the generals that the “hollow square” must
be replaced by a new formation better suited to the narrow ways they
would soon be following, and this they now devised. They were to use it
successfully henceforward.

They came in sight of a “palace surrounded by villages.” The way to it,
they observed with joy, led across a series of knolls where (thought
they) the Persian cavalry could not come at them. Their joy was
short-lived, for no sooner had the light-armed troops who composed the
Greek rearguard begun to leave the summit of the first height than the
enemy rushed up after them, and began showering darts and arrows and
stones from the sling upon them, and so put them out of action for that
day. The heavy-armed did their best. But they were naturally unable to
overtake the skirmishers, and it went hard with the army until special
tactics were devised which answered their purpose. The knolls which had
served them so ill were foothills of a loftier line of heights running
parallel to the road. A sufficient detachment was sent to occupy and
move along the heights simultaneously with the main body advancing by
the road. Afraid of being caught between two forces, the Persian did
not attack. This was the first employment of a manœuvre which the
Greeks repeated many times, and always with success.

The Palace and Villages turned out to be full of bread and wine and
fodder collected by the satrap of the region. So the Greeks halted
there for three days, resting their wounded. Having set out again on
the fourth day, they were overtaken by the implacable Tissaphernes and,
warned by experience, made for the nearest village, where they beat off
his attack very easily. That night they took advantage of an unmilitary
practice of the Persians in never encamping less than seven miles from
an enemy, to steal a march on them. The result was that the next day,
and the day after, and the day after that, they proceeded on their way
unmolested. On the fourth day they came to a place where the Zacho
Dagh, which they had kept so long on their right, sends down a spur to
the river, which it steeply overhangs in a tall cliff picturesquely
crowned to-day by a native village. The Tigris being still unfordable,
the road is forced to climb over the cliff. Cheirisophos, commanding
the van, halted and sent a message to Xenophon, who was in command of
the rear. This was highly inconvenient to Xenophon, because at that
very moment who should appear on the road behind him but Tissaphernes?
However, Xenophon galloped to the front and requested an explanation.
Cheirisophos pointed to the cliff, and there sure enough were armed
men in occupation. Between these and Tissaphernes the army was in a
perilous position. What to do? Xenophon, looking up at the wall of the
Zacho Dagh, noticed that the main height at this part of the range
was directly opposite them; looking again, he could make out a track
leading from this peak to the cliff. He immediately proposed to seize
the peak. A picked force was hastily got together, and off they set
upon their climb. No sooner did the men on the cliff catch sight of
them than they too began to race for the key-position. With shouts
the two sides strained for the goal. Xenophon rode beside his men,
encouraging them. A grumbling fellow from Sicyon complained that he
had to run with a shield while the general rode on a horse. Xenophon
dismounted, pushed the man out of the ranks, took his shield from him,
and struggled on in his place. Thus enkindled, the Greeks—the men to
whom mountains were native—reached the summit first. But it was a near

Thus the pass was turned. But the situation remained not less than
dreadful. On the right of the army arose the cruel mountains of
Kurdistan; on their left ran swiftly the profound current of the
Tigris. A soldier from Rhodes suggested crossing the stream on an
arrangement of inflated skins, such as appears to be still in use
upon the Tigris, where it is called a “tellek.” The suggestion was
impracticable in face of the enemy, who was found in possession of
the opposing bank. Reluctantly therefore they turned their backs upon
the river and set their minds upon the mountains. Under cover of
darkness they stole across the plain and were on the high ground with
the dawn. They were now in the country of the Kardouchians, whom we
now call the Kurds, in whose intricate valleys and startling ravines
whole armies had been lost. On the appearance of the Greeks the natives
fled with their wives and children from their villages and “took to
the heather.” The invaders requisitioned the supplies they found, but
made some effort to conciliate the highlanders. These remained sullenly
unresponsive. All day long they watched the ten thousand hoplites with
the light-armed and the women of the camp struggle through the high
pass. Then as the last men were descending in the early-gathering
darkness the Kardouchians stirred. Stones and arrows flew, and some
of the Greeks were killed. Luckily for the army the enemy had been
surprised so completely that no concerted attack was made in the
steep-walled road. As it was, although they bivouacked that night
without further annoyance, they could see the signal fires blaze from
every peak, boding ill for the morrow.

When it came they resolved to leave behind all prisoners and all they
could spare of the baggage-train. Thus disencumbered, they set forward
in stormy weather and under constant attack, so that little progress
was made. Finally they came to a complete check. In front of them rose
the sheer side of a mountain, up which the road was seen to climb,
black with their enemies. A frontal attack was not to be thought of.
But was there no byway across the heights? A captured Kurd confessed
that there was. Only at one point this path led over an eminence, which
must be secured in advance. Therefore late in the afternoon a storming
party set out with the guide, their orders being to occupy the eminence
in the night, and sound a bugle at dawn. A violent rainstorm served to
conceal this movement, whose success was also aided by the advance of
Cheirisophos along the visible road. He soon reached a gulch, which
his men must cross to gain a footing on the great cliff. But when they
attempted the passage the enemy rolled down enormous boulders, which
shattered themselves into flying fragments against the iron sides
of the ravine, so that crossing was merely impossible. The attempt
then was not at that time renewed. But through the night the Greeks
continued to hear the thunder of the plunging rocks sent down by the
unwearied and suspicious foe.

Meanwhile the storm-troops who had gone by the circuitous path
surprised a guard of Kardouchians seated about a fire, and, having
dispersed them, held the position under the impression that it was
the “col” or eminence. In this they were mistaken, but at dawn they
realized their error and set out in a friendly mist to seize their true
objective. Its defenders fled as soon as the Greek trumpet sang out
the attack. In the road below Cheirisophos heard the sound and rushed
to the assault of the cliff. His men struggled up as best they might,
hoisting one another by means of their spears. The rearguard, under
Xenophon, followed the bypath. They captured one crest by assault, only
to find themselves confronted by another. Xenophon therefore left a
garrison on the first, and with the rest of his force attacked and
captured the second—only to find a third rising before them, being in
fact the eminence itself. That also was assailed. To the surprise of
the Greeks the enemy made no resistance and made off at once. Soon a
fugitive came to Xenophon with the news that the crest where he had
left a garrison had been stormed, and all its defenders slain—all who
had not escaped by jumping down its rocky sides. It was now evident
why the Kardouchians had left the main eminence; they had seen from
their greater elevation what was happening in Xenophon’s rear. They
now came back to a height facing the eminence and began discussing a
truce, while gradually they were collecting their people. An agreement
was reached, and the Greeks began to descend from their position,
when instantly the Barbarians were on them, yelling and rolling down
boulders after them. However, with little difficulty now, a junction
was effected with Cheirisophos.

In all a week was consumed in traversing the land of the Kardouchians,
and not a day passed without hard fighting. Every narrow way was beset
by the fierce mountaineers, who shot arrows two cubits long from bows
so mighty that the archer had to use one foot to get a purchase on his
weapon. One man was pierced through shield and breastplate and body,
another was shot fairly through the head. In these mountains the Greeks
“suffered more than all they had endured at the hands of the King and
Tissaphernes.” Fighting their way along the Zorawa, they reached at
last the more open ground, where that river falls into the Bohtan Su,
which Xenophon calls the Kentrîtês. Alas, in the morning light they
saw the further bank lined with hostile forces, both foot and horse,
while on the mountains they had just escaped the Kardouchians were
gathered, ready to fall on their rear, if they should attempt the
passage of the Kentrîtês, a deep river full of big slippery stones.
Gloom settled again upon the host. But in a little time, while Xenophon
was still at breakfast, there ran to him two young men with great news.
The pair of them had gone to collect sticks, and, down by the river,
they had noticed on the other side “among rocks that came right down to
the water an old man and a woman putting away in a kind of cave what
looked like a bag of clothes.” So the soldiers put their knives between
their teeth and prepared to swim across. To their surprise they got to
the other side without the need of swimming. Now here they were back
again, having brought the clothes for evidence.

Shortly afterwards they were guiding the division of Cheirisophos to
the ford they had so opportunely discovered, while Xenophon led the
rearguard, whose duty it was to protect the passage of the army from
the assaults of the Kardouchians. These were duly made, but were beaten
off and eluded; and the Kentrîtês was crossed.

The Greeks were now in Armenia. Before them stretched a wide rolling
plateau, sombre, lonely, savagely inclement at that season; and yet
they found it at first like Elysium after their torments up among the
clouds. They crossed two streams, the Bitlis Tchai, by whose deep
trench the caravans still travel, and the Kara Su. It was in the
country of the satrap Tiribazos, who kept following the invaders
with an army. So the march went on. One night they reached the usual
“palace surrounded by villages,” and there, finding plenty to eat and
drink, with joy refreshed their weariness. It was judged imprudent
to billet the men out among the villages, so they bivouacked in the
open. Then the snow came—a soft, persistent snow; and in the morning
nothing seemed desirable except to remain warm and drowsy under that
white blanket. At last Xenophon sprang up, and began to chop wood, so
that the men were shamed and got up too, and took the log from him, and
kindled fires, and anointed themselves with a local unguent. But all
were certain that such another night would be the death of them; so it
was resolved that they should find quarters among the villages. Off
rushed the soldiers with cheers.

But the retreat must proceed. They caught a man who told them that
Tiribazos meant to attack them in a high defile upon their road.
This stroke they anticipated and, crossing the pass, marched day
after day in a wilderness of snow. At one point in their dreadful
journey they waded up to their waists across the icy waters of the
upper Euphrates. The snow got deeper and deeper. Worst of all the
wind—the north wind—blew in their faces. The snow became six feet
deep. Baggage-cattle, slaves, some thirty of the soldiers themselves
disappeared in the drifts. At last by the mercy of the gods the wind
dropped a little, and they found an abundance of wood, which they
burned, and so cleared spaces in the snow, that they might sleep upon
the ground. Then they must bestir themselves and labour on again. Men
began to drop from hunger-faintness. Xenophon got them a mouthful
to eat; whereupon they got on their legs and stumbled forward with
the rest. All the time bands of marauders prowled about the skirts of
the army. If a beast were abandoned, they swooped down upon it, and
shortly you would hear them quarrelling over the carcase. Not only the
beasts were lost, but every now and then a man would fall out because
of frostbite or snow-blindness. Once a whole bunch of soldiers dropped
behind, and, seeing a dark patch where a hot spring had melted the
snow, they sat down there. Xenophon implored them to get up; wolfish
enemies were at their heels. Nothing he could say moved them. Then he
lost his temper. The only result was a tired suggestion from the men
that he should cut their throats. Darkness was falling; nearer and
nearer came the clamour of the pillagers wrangling over their spoils.
Xenophon and his men lay concealed in the bare patch, which sloped
down into a cañon smoking with the steam of the hot spring. When the
miscreants came near, up sprang the soldiers with a shout, while the
outworn men whooped at the pitch of their voices. The startled enemy
“flung themselves down the snow into the cañon, and not one ever
uttered a sound again.”

Not long after, the Greeks came to some villages, one of which was
assigned to Xenophon and his men. It was occupied so rapidly that the
inhabitants had not time to escape. An extraordinary village it was,
for the houses were all underground. You entered the earth-house at
a hole “like the mouth of a well,” and, descending a ladder, found
yourself in a fine roomy chamber, shared impartially by “goats and
sheep and cows and poultry” as well as people. There was store of
provender for the animals, and wheat and barley and greens for folk.
There was also “barley-wine,” which you sucked through a reed, and
which was “a very delightful beverage to one who had learned to like
it.” Xenophon naturally lived with the headman of the village, whom he
graciously invited to dinner at the expense of the house. He managed
to reassure the headman, who was troubled about many things, including
the capture of his daughter, who had just been married. So the wine was
produced, and they made a night of it. Next morning, awakening among
the cocks and the hens and the other creatures, Xenophon went to call
on Cheirisophos, taking the headman with him. On the way they looked in
at all the houses and in each they found high revelry. They were forced
to come down the ladder and have breakfast. Xenophon has forgotten
how many breakfasts he had that morning, but he remembers lamb, kid,
pork, veal and poultry, not to mention varieties of bread. If anybody
proposed to drink somebody’s health, he was haled to the bowl and made
to shove in his head and “make a noise like an ox drinking.” To the
headman the soldiers offered “anything he would like.” (When you think
of it, they could scarcely do less.) The poor man chose any of his
relations whom he noticed. At the headquarters of Cheirisophos there
were similar scenes. The soldiers in their Greek way had wreathed their
heads for the feast, making wisps of hay serve the purpose of flowers,
and had formed the Armenian boys “in their strange clothes” into
picturesque waiters. Xenophon took seventeen magnificent young horses
which his village had been rearing for the King, and divided them among
his officers, keeping the best for himself. In return he presented the
headman with an oldish steed of his own, which he rather thought was
going to die.

After a jolly week the weary retreat began again. The headman told the
Greeks to tie bags upon the feet of their horses to keep them from
falling through the frozen surface of the snow. He went as guide with
Cheirisophos in the van. As they marched on and on, never coming to a
human habitation, the general flew into a rage and struck the guide.
Next morning they found that the man had disappeared in the night. This
turned out to be the worst thing that had befallen them yet. After a
week of padding the hoof over a white desert with no relief for the
eyes but their own red rags, they came to a river. It was the Araxes,
and if they had taken the right turn here, a few days more would have
brought them to Trebizond. Unfortunately, misled perhaps by the sound
of the native name, they got it into their heads that the river was the
Phasis, about which everybody knew that it flowed through the land of
the Colchians into the Black Sea. Therefore they went _down_ the Araxes.

Fighting began at the very outset. Moreover provisions soon failed
them. They were now in the wild country of the “Taochians,” who lived
in strong places, where they had stored all their supplies. The army
must capture one of these strongholds or starve. The first they
came to was typical. It was simply an enclosed space on the top of
a precipice. A winding stream served as a moat. There was only one
narrow way of approach to the stockade, and this path was commanded
by an insuperable cliff. Within the stockade huddled a throng of men
and women and animals. On the top of the cliff were Taochian warriors,
who flung stones and precipitated rocks on any Greek who ventured to
set foot on the path. Several who ventured had their legs broken or
their ribs crushed. Some shelter was afforded by a wood of tall pines,
through which about seventy soldiers filtered, until no more than
fifty or so feet of open ground lay between them and the stockade. An
officer called Kallimachos began to amuse the army by popping out and
into the wood, thus drawing the fire of the stoners, who let fly at
him with “more than ten cart-loads of rock.” Then, in a lull of the
stones, two or three made a sudden dash across the exposed ground and
into the stockade. The rest followed at their heels. Then occurred a
very horrible thing. The women flung their babies down the precipice
and jumped after them. A sort of heroic madness swept the helpless
defenders. Aeneas of Stymphalos gripped a man who had a splendid dress
on; the man flung his arms about Aeneas and took him with him over the
cliff. Hardly any were saved.

Now the ten thousand entered the country of the Chalybians, the bravest
race they met on all their march; whose strongholds the Greeks did not
take. The Chalybians, who wore an immense tasselled breastplate of
linen, and carried a prodigious long spear and a short sword, used to
cut off the heads of their enemies and go into battle, swinging the
heads, and singing and dancing. Having escaped from such savages, the
army crossed a river and marched many parasangs, turning west by a
route that led them perhaps by way of the modern towns of Alexandropol
and Kars to a populous city by Xenophon named Gymnias, which must have
been near Erzerum. Here they found a guide, who promised to set them on
the true road home. Him they followed for four days. On the fifth day
Xenophon, who as usual was in command of the rearguard, heard a great
and distant shouting. At once he and his men concluded that the van
had been attacked, for the whole country was up in arms. Every moment
the far-off clamour increased. As they stared at the mountain-side,
which the van had just ascended, they noticed that, whenever a company
had got a certain distance, the men suddenly took to their heels and
tore up the mountain for their lives. It was clear that something
extraordinary was happening. Xenophon sprang on his horse and, followed
by the cavalry, galloped to the rescue. But now in a little they could
hear what they were crying on the mountain; it was _The Sea! The Sea!_
Then the rearguard also ran, and the baggage-animals and the horses
too! And on the top they fell to embracing one another, officers and
men indiscriminately, and the tears ran down their faces. Then they
raised a great cairn of stones on that hill-top, overlooking “the col
of Vavoug,” where the road still passes.



What was the special gift of Greece to the world? The answer of the
Greeks themselves is unexpected, yet it is as clear as a trumpet:
_Eleutheria_, Freedom. The breath of Eleutheria fills the sail of
Aeschylus’ great verse, it blows through the pages of Herodotus,
awakens fierce regrets in Demosthenes and generous memories in
Plutarch. “Art, philosophy, science,” the Greeks say, “yes, we have
given all these; but our best gift, from which all the others were
derived, was Eleutheria.”

Now what did they mean by that?

They meant _the Reign of Law_. Aeschylus says of them in _The Persians_:

ATOSSA. _Who is their shepherd over them and lord of their host?_

CHORUS. _Of no man are they called the slaves or subjects._

Now hear Herodotus amplifying and explaining Aeschylus. _For though
they are free, yet are they not free in all things. For they have a
lord over them, even Law, whom they fear far more than thy people fear
thee. At least they do what that lord biddeth them, and what he biddeth
is still the same, to wit that they flee not before the face of any
multitude in battle, but keep their order and either conquer or die._
It is Demaratos that speaks of the Spartans to King Xerxes.

Eleutheria the Reign of Law or _Nomos_. The word _Nomos_ begins with
the meaning “custom” or “convention,” and ends by signifying that which
embodies as far as possible the universal and eternal principles of
justice. To write the history of it is to write the history of Greek
civilization. The best we can do is to listen to the Greeks themselves
explaining what they were fighting for in fighting for Eleutheria. They
will not put us off with abstractions.

No one who has read _The Persians_ forgets the live and leaping voice
that suddenly cries out before the meeting of the ships at Salamis:
_Onward, Sons of the Hellenes! Free your country, free your children,
your wives, your fathers’ tombs and seats of your fathers’ gods! All
hangs now on your fighting!_ This, then, when it came to action, is
what the Greeks meant by the Reign of Law. It will not seem so puzzling
if you put it in this way: that what they fought for was the right to
govern themselves. Here as elsewhere we may observe how the struggle of
Greek and Barbarian fills with palpitating life such words as Freedom,
which to dull men have been apt to seem abstract and to sheltered
people faded. For the Barbarians had not truly laws at all. How are
laws possible where “all are slaves save one,” and be responsible to
nobody? So the fight for Freedom becomes a fight for Law, that no man
may become another’s master, but all be subject equally to the Law,
“whose service is perfect freedom.”

That conception was wrought out in the stress of conflict with the
Barbarians, culminating in the Persian danger. On that point it is
well to prepare our minds by an admission. The quarrel was never a
simple one of right and wrong. Persia at least was in some respects
in advance of the Greece she fought at Salamis; and not only in
material splendour. That is now clear to every historian; it never was
otherwise to the Greeks themselves. Possessing or possessed by the
kind of imagination which compels a man to understand his enemy, they
saw much to admire in the Persians—their hardihood, their chivalry,
their munificence, their talent for government. The Greeks heard with
enthusiasm (which was part at least literary) the scheme of education
for young nobles—“to ride a horse, to shoot with the bow, and to speak
the truth!” In fact the two peoples, although they never realized it,
were neither in race nor in speech very remote from one another. But
it was the destiny of the Persians to succeed to an empire essentially
Asiatic and so to become the leaders and champions of a culture alien
to Greece and to us. In such a cause their very virtues made them the
more dangerous. Here was no possible compromise. Persia and Greece
stood for something more than two political systems; the European mind,
the European way of thinking and feeling about things, the soul of
Europe was at stake. There is no help for it; in such a quarrel we must
take sides.

Let us look first at the Persian side. The phrase I quoted about all
men in Persia being slaves save one is not a piece of Greek rhetoric;
it was the official language of the empire. The greatest officer of
state next to the King was still his “slave” and was so addressed by
him. The King was lord and absolute. An inscription at Persepolis
reads _I am Xerxes the Great King, the King of Kings, the King of
many-tongued countries, the King of this great universe, the Son of
Darius the King, the Achaemenid. Xerxes the Great King saith: “By grace
of Ahuramazda I have made this portal whereon are depicted all the
countries.”_ The Greek orator Aeschines says, “He writes himself Lord
of men from the rising to the setting sun.” The letter of Darius to
Gadatas—it exists to-day—is addressed by “Darius the son of Hystaspes,
King of Kings.” That, as we know, was a favourite title. The law of the
land was summed up in the sentence: _The King may do what he pleases_.
Greece saved us from that.

No man might enter the sacred presence without leave. Whoever was
admitted must prostrate himself to the ground. The emperor sat on a
sculptured throne holding in his hand a sceptre tipped with an apple
of gold. He was clad in gorgeous trousers and gorgeous Median robe. On
his head was the peaked _kitaris_ girt with the crown, beneath which
the formally curled hair flowed down to mingle with the great beard.
He had chains of gold upon him and golden bracelets, a golden zone
engirdled him, from his ears hung rings of gold. Behind the throne
stood an attendant with a fan against the flies and held his mouth lest
his breath should touch the royal person. Before the throne stood the
courtiers, their hands concealed, their eyelids stained with _kohl_,
their lips never smiling, their painted faces never moving. Greece
saved us from all that.

The King had many wives and a great harem of concubines—one for each
day of the year. You remember the Book of Esther. Ahasuerus is the
Greek Xerxes. There is in Herodotus a story of that court which,
however unauthentic it may be in details, has a clear evidential value.
On his return from Greece Xerxes rested at Sardis, the ancient capital
of Lydia. There he fell in love with the wife of his brother Masistes.
Unwilling to take her by force, he resorted to policy. He betrothed his
son Darius to Artaynte, the daughter of Masistes, and took her with him
to Susa (the Shushan of Esther), hoping to draw her mother to his great
palace there, “where were white, green and blue hangings, fastened
with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of
marble.” In Susa, however, the King experienced a new sensation and
fell in love with Artaynte—who returned his affection. Now Amestris the
Queen had woven with her own hands a wonderful garment for her lord,
who inconsiderately put it on to pay his next visit to Artaynte. Of
course Artaynte asked for it, of course in the end she got it, and of
course she made a point of wearing it. When Amestris heard of this,
she blamed, says Herodotus, not the girl but her mother. With patient
dissimulation she did nothing until the Feast of the Birthday of the
King, when he cannot refuse a request. Then for her present she asked
the wife of Masistes. The King, who understood her purpose, tried to
save the victim; but too late. Amestris had in the meanwhile sent the
King’s soldiers for the woman; and when she had her in her power _she
cut away her breasts and threw them to the dogs, cut off her nose and
ears and lips and tongue, and sent her home_.

It may be thought that the Persian monarchy cannot fairly be judged by
the conduct of a Xerxes. The reply to this would seem to be that it
was Xerxes the Greeks had to fight. But let us choose another case,
Artaxerxes II, whose life the gentle Plutarch selected to write because
of the mildness and democratic quality which distinguished him from
others of his line. Yet the _Life of Artaxerxes_ would be startling in
a chronicle of the Italian Renaissance. The story which I will quote
from it was probably derived from the _Persian History_ of Ktesias,
who was a Greek physician at the court of Artaxerxes. This Ktesias, as
Plutarch himself tells us, was a highly uncritical person, but after
all, as Plutarch goes on to say, he was not likely to be wrong about
things that were happening before his eyes. Here then is the story, a
little abridged.

_She_—that is, Parysatis the queen-mother—_perceived that
he_—Artaxerxes the King—_had a violent passion for Atossa, one of
his daughters.... When Parysatis came to suspect this, she made more
of the child than ever, and to Artaxerxes she praised her beauty and
her royal and splendid ways. At last she persuaded him to marry the
maid and make her his true wife, disregarding the opinions and laws_
(Nomoi) of the Greeks; she said that he himself had been appointed by
the god_ (Ahuramazda) _a law unto the Persians and judge of honour
and dishonour.... Atossa her father so loved in wedlock that, when
leprosy had overspread her body, he felt no whit of loathing thereat,
but praying for her sake to Hera_ (Anaitis?) _he did obeisance to
that goddess only, touching the ground with his hands; while his
satraps and friends sent at his command such gifts to the goddess that
the whole space between the temple and the palace, which was sixteen
stades_ (nearly two miles) _was filled with gold and with silver and
with purple and with horses_.

Artaxerxes afterwards took into his harem another of his daughters. The
religion of Zarathustra sanctioned that. It also sanctioned marriage
with a mother. According to Persian notions both Xerxes and Artaxerxes
behaved with perfect correctness. The royal blood was too near the
divine to mingle with baser currents. There is no particular reason
for believing that Xerxes was an exceptionally vicious person, while
Artaxerxes seemed comparatively virtuous. It was the system that was
all wrong. What are you to expect of a prince, knowing none other
law than his own will, and surrounded from his infancy by venomous
intriguing women and eunuchs? Babylon alone used to send five hundred
boys yearly to serve as eunuchs.... I think we may now leave the

_Hear again Phocylides: “A little well-ordered city on a rock is better
than frenzied Nineveh.”_ The old poet means a city of the Greek type,
and by “well-ordered” he means governed by a law which guarantees
the liberties of all in restricting the privileges of each. This,
the secret of true freedom, was what the Barbarian never understood.
Sperthias and Boulis, two rich and noble Spartans, offered to yield
themselves up to the just anger of Xerxes, whose envoys had been flung
to their death in a deep water-tank. On the road to Susa they were
entertained by the Persian grandee Hydarnes, who said to them: _Men of
Sparta, wherefore will ye not be friendly towards the King? Beholding
me and my condition, ye see that the King knoweth how to honour good
men. In like manner ye also, if ye should give yourselves to the King
(for he deemeth that ye are good men), each of you twain would be
ruler of Greek lands given you by the King._ They answered: _Hydarnes,
thine advice as touching us is of one side only, whereof thou hast
experience, while the other thou hast not tried. Thou understandest
what it is to be a slave, but freedom thou hast not tasted, whether it
be sweet or no. For if thou shouldst make trial of it, thou wouldest
counsel us to fight for it with axes as well as spears!_

So when Alexander King of Macedon came to Athens with a proposal
from Xerxes that in return for an alliance with them he would grant
the Athenians new territories to dwell in free, and would rebuild
the temples he had burned; and when the Spartan envoys had pleaded
with them to do no such thing as the King proposed, the Athenians
made reply. _We know as well as thou that the might of the Persian
is many times greater than ours, so that thou needest not to charge
us with forgetting that. Yet shall we fight for freedom as we may.
To make terms with the Barbarian seek not thou to persuade us, nor
shall we be persuaded. And now tell Mardonios that Athens says: “So
long as the sun keeps the path where now he goeth, never shall we
make compact with Xerxes; but shall go forth to do battle with him,
putting our trust in the gods that fight for us and in the mighty
dead, whose dwelling-places and holy things he hath contemned and
burned with fire.”_ This was their answer to Alexander; but to the
Spartans they said: _The prayer of Sparta that we make not agreement
with the Barbarian was altogether pardonable. Yet, knowing the temper
of Athens, surely ye dishonour us by your fears, seeing that there is
not so much gold in all the world, nor any land greatly exceeding in
beauty and goodness, for which we would consent to join the Mede for
the enslaving of Hellas. Nay even if we should wish it, there be many
things preventing us: first and most, the images and shrines of the
gods burned and cast upon an heap, whom we must needs avenge to the
utmost rather than be consenting with the doer of those things; and,
in the second place, there is our Greek blood and speech, the bond of
common temples and sacrifices and like ways of life—if Athens betrayed
these things, it would not be well._...

οὐ καλῶς ἂν ἔχοι, “it would not be well.” When I was writing about
Greek simplicity I should have remembered this passage. But our
present theme is the meaning of Eleutheria. “Our first duty,” say the
Athenians, “is to avenge our gods and heroes, whose temples have been
desecrated.” Such language must ring strangely in our ears until we
have reflected a good deal about the character of ancient religion. To
the Greeks of Xerxes’ day religion meant, in a roughly comprehensive
phrase, the consecration of the citizen to the service of the State.
When the Athenians speak of the gods and heroes, whose temples have
been burned, they are thinking of the gods and heroes of Athens, which
had been sacked by the armies of Mardonios; and they are thinking
chiefly of Athena and Erechtheus.

Now who was Athena? You may read in books that she was “the
patron-goddess of Athens.” But she was more than that; she _was_
Athens. You may read that she “represented the fortune of Athens”; but
indeed she _was_ the fortune of Athens. You may further read that she
“embodied the Athenian ideal”; which is true enough, but how small a
portion of the truth! It was not so much what Athens might become, as
what Athens was, that moulded and impassioned the image of the goddess.
It was the city of to-day and yesterday that filled the hearts of those
Athenians with such a sense of loss and such a need to avenge their
Lady of the Acropolis. For that which had been the focus of the old
city-life, the dear familiar temple of their goddess, was a heap of
stones and ashes mixed with the carrion of the old men who had remained
to die there.

As for Erechtheus, he was the great Athenian “hero.” The true nature
of a “hero” is an immensely controversial matter; but what we are
concerned with here is the practical question, what the ancients
thought. They, rightly or wrongly, normally thought of their “heroes”
as famous ancestors. It was as their chief ancestor that the Athenians
regarded and worshipped Erechtheus. Cecrops was earlier, but for some
reason not so worshipful; Theseus was more famous, but later, and
even something of an alien, since he appears to come originally from
Troezen. Thus it was chiefly about Erechtheus as “the father of his
people,” rather than about maiden Athena, that all that sentiment, so
intense in ancient communities, of the common blood and its sacred
obligations entwined itself. This old king of primeval Athens claimed
his share of the piety due to the dead of every household, an emotion
of so powerful a quality among the unsophisticated peoples that some
have sought in it the roots of all religion. It is an emotion hard to
describe and harder still to appreciate. Erechtheus was the Son of
Earth, that is, really, of Attic Earth; and on the painted vases you
see him, a little naked child, being received by Athena from the hands
of Earth, a female form half hidden in the ground, who is raising
him into the light of day. The effect of all this was to remind the
Athenians that they themselves were _autochthones_, born of the soil,
and Attic Earth was their mother also. Not only her spiritual children,
you understand, nor only fed of her bounty, but very bone of her bone
and flesh of her flesh. _Gê Kourotrophos_ they called her, “Earth
the Nurturer of our Children.” Unite all these feelings, rooted and
made strong by time: love of the City (Athena), love of the native
and mother Earth (Gê), love of the unforgotten and unforgetting dead
(Erechtheus)—unite all these feelings and you will know why the defence
of so great sanctities and the avenging of insult against them seemed
to Athenians the first and greatest part of Liberty.

So Themistocles felt when after Salamis he said: _It is not we who
have wrought this deed, but the gods and heroes, who hated that one
man should become lord both of Europe and of Asia; unholy and sinful,
who held things sacred and things profane in like account, burning
temples and casting down the images of the gods; who also scourged the
sea and cast fetters upon it._ And it is this feeling which gives so
singular a beauty and charm to the story of Dikaios. “Dikaios the son
of Theokydes, an Athenian then in exile and held in reputation among
the Persians, said that at this time, when Attica was being wasted
by the footmen of Xerxes and was empty of its inhabitants, it befell
that he was with Demaratos in the Thriasian Plain, when they espied a
pillar of dust, such as thirty thousand men might raise, moving from
Eleusis. And as they marvelled what men might be the cause of the dust,
presently they heard the sound of voices, and it seemed to him that it
was the ritual-chant to Iacchus. Demaratos was ignorant of the rites
that are performed at Eleusis, and questioned him what sound was that.
But he said, _Demaratos, of a certainty some great harm will befall
the host of the King. For this is manifest—there being no man left in
Attica—that these are immortal Voices proceeding from Eleusis to take
vengeance for the Athenians and their allies. And if this wrathful
thing descend on Peloponnese, the King himself and his land army will
be in jeopardy; but if it turn towards the ships at Salamis, the King
will be in danger of losing his fleet. This is that festival which the
Athenians hold yearly in honour of the Mother and the Maid, and every
Athenian, or other Greek that desires it, receives initiation; and
the sound thou hearest is the chanting of the initiates._ Demaratos
answered, _Hold thy peace, and tell no man else this tale. For if these
thy words be reported to the King, thou wilt lose thine head, and I
shall not be able to save thee, I nor any other man. But keep quiet
and God will deal with this host._ Thus did he counsel him. And the
dust and the cry became a cloud, and the cloud arose and moved towards
Salamis to the encampment of the Greeks. So they knew that the navy of
Xerxes was doomed.”

Athena, the Mother-Maid Demeter-Persephone with the mystic child
Iacchus, Boreas “the son-in-law of Erechtheus,” whose breath dispersed
the enemy ships under Pelion and Kaphareus—of such sort are “the gods
who fight for us” and claim the love and service of Athens in return.
It is well to remember attentively this religious element in ancient
patriotism, so large an element that one may say with scarcely any
exaggeration at all that for the ancients patriotism was a religion.
Therefore is Eleutheria, the patriot’s ideal, a religion too. Such
instincts and beliefs are interwoven in one sacred indissoluble bond
uniting the Gods and men, the very hills and rivers of Greece against
the foreign master. Call this if you will a mystical and confused
emotion; but do not deny its beauty or underestimate its tremendous

But here (lest in discussing a sentiment which may be thought confused
we ourselves fall into confusion) let us emphasize a distinction,
which has indeed been already indicated. Greek patriotism was as wide
as Greece; but on the other hand its intensity was in inverse ratio
to its extension. Greek patriotism was primarily a local thing, and
it needed the pressure of a manifest national danger to lift it to
a wider outlook. That was true in the main and of the average man,
although every generation produced certain superior spirits, statesmen
or philosophers, whose thought was not particularist. It was this
home-savour which gave to ancient patriotism its special salt and
pungency. When the Athenians in the speech I quoted say that their
first duty is to avenge their gods, they are thinking more of Athens
than of Greece. They are thinking of all we mean by “home,” save that
home for them was bounded by the ring-wall of the city, not by the four
walls of a house.

The wider patriotism of the nation the Greeks openly or in their
hearts ranked in the second place. Look again at the speech of the
Athenians. First came Athens and her gods and heroes—their _fathers’_
gods; next _To Hellenikon_, that whereby they are not merely Athenians
but Hellenes—community of race and speech, the common interest in the
_national_ gods and their festivals, such as Zeus of Olympia with the
Olympian Games, the Delphian Apollo with the Pythian Games. Of course
this Hellenic or Panhellenic interest was always there, and in a sense
the future lay with it; but never in the times when Greece was at its
greatest did it supplant the old intense local loyalties. The movement
of Greek civilization is from the narrower to the larger conception of
patriotism, but the latter ideal is grounded in the former. Greek love
of country was fed from local fires, and even Greek cosmopolitanism
left one a _citizen_, albeit a citizen of the world. So it was with
Eleutheria, which enlarged itself in the same sense and with an equal

This development can be studied best in Athens, which was “the Hellas
of Hellas.” One finds in Attic literature a passionate Hellenism
combined with a passionate conviction that Hellenism finds its best
representative in Athens. The old local patriotism survives, but is
nourished more and more with new ambitions. New claims, new ideals are
advanced. One claim appears very early, if we may believe Herodotus
that the Athenians used it in debate with the men of Tegea before the
Battle of Plataea. The Athenians recalled how they had given shelter
to the Children of Heracles when all the other Greek cities would not,
for fear of Eurystheus; and how again they had rescued the slain of the
Seven from the Theban king and buried them in his despite. On those two
famous occasions the Athenians had shown the virtue which they held to
be most characteristic of Hellenism and specially native to themselves,
the virtue which they called “philanthropy” or the love of man. What
Heine said of himself, the Athenians might have said: they were brave
soldiers in the liberation-war of humanity.

There is a play of Euripides, called _The Suppliant Women_, which
deals with the episode of the unburied dead at Thebes. The fragmentary
Argument says: _The scene is Eleusis. Chorus of Argive women,
mothers of the champions who have fallen at Thebes. The drama is a
glorification of Athens._ The eloquent Adrastos, king of Argos, pleads
the cause of the suppliant women who have come to Athens to beg the
aid of its young king Theseus in procuring the burial of their dead.
Theseus is at first disposed to reject their prayer, for reasons of
State; he must consider the safety of his own people; when his mother
Aithra breaks out indignantly: _Surely it will be said that with
unvalorous hands, when thou mightest have won a crown of glory for thy
city, thou didst decline the peril and match thyself, ignoble labour,
with a savage swine; and when it was thy part to look to helm and
spear, putting forth thy might therein, wast proven a coward. To think
that son of mine—ah, do not so! Seest thou how Athens, whom mocking
lips have named unwise, flashes back upon her scorners a glance
of answering scorn? Danger is her element. It is the unadventurous
cities doing cautious things in the dark, whose vision is thereby also
darkened._ And the result is that Theseus and his men set out against
the great power of Thebes, defeat it and recover the bodies, which with
due observance of the appropriate rites they inter in Attic earth.

“To make the world safe for democracy” is something; but Athens never
found it safe, perhaps did not believe it could be safe. _Ready to
take risks, facing danger with a lifting of the heart ... their whole
life a round of toils and dangers ... born neither themselves to rest
nor to let other people._ In such phrases are the Athenians described
by their enemies. A friend has said: _I must publish an opinion which
will be displeasing to most; yet (since I think it to be true) I will
not withhold it. If the Athenians in fear of the coming peril had
left their land, or not leaving it but staying behind had yielded
themselves to Xerxes, none would have tried to meet the King at sea._
And so all would have been lost. _But as the matter fell out, it would
be the simple truth to say that the Athenians were the saviours of
Greece. The balance of success was certain to turn to the side they
espoused, and by choosing the cause of Hellas and the preservation of
her freedom it was the Athenians and no other that roused the whole
Greek world—save those who played the traitor—and under God thrust back
the King._ And some generations later, Demosthenes, in what might be
called the funeral oration of Eleutheria, sums up the claim of Athens
in words whose undying splendour is all pride and glory transfiguring
the pain of failure and defeat. _Let no man, I beseech you, imagine
that there is anything of paradox or exaggeration in what I say, but
sympathetically consider it. If the event had been clear to all men
beforehand ... even then Athens could only have done what she did, if
her fame and her future and the opinion of ages to come meant anything
to her. For the moment indeed it looks as if she had failed; as man
must always fail when God so wills it. But had She, who claimed to be
the leader of Greece, yielded her claim to Philip and betrayed the
common cause, her honour would not be clear.... Yes, men of Athens,
ye did right—be very sure of that—when ye adventured yourselves for
the safety and freedom of all; yes, by your fathers who fought at
Marathon and Plataea and Salamis and Artemision, and many more lying
in their tombs of public honour they had deserved so well, being all
alike deemed worthy of this equal tribute by the State, and not only (O
Aeschines) the successful, the victorious._...

Demosthenes was right in thinking that Eleutheria was most at home
in Athens. Now Athens, as all men know, was a “democracy”; that
is, the general body of the citizens (excluding the slaves and
“resident aliens”) personally made and interpreted their laws. Such
a constitution was characterized by two elements which between them
practically exhausted its meaning; namely, _autonomy_ or freedom to
govern oneself by one’s own laws, and _isonomy_ or equality of all
citizens before the law. Thus Eleutheria, defined as the Reign of
Law, may be regarded as synonymous with Democracy. “The basis of the
democratical constitution is Eleutheria,” says Aristotle. This is
common ground with all Greek writers, whether they write to praise or
to condemn. Thus Plato humorously, but not quite good-humouredly,
complains that in Athens the very horses and donkeys knocked you out of
their way, so exhilarated were they by the atmosphere of Eleutheria.
But at the worst he only means that you may have too much of a good
thing. Eleutheria translated as unlimited democracy you may object to;
Eleutheria as an ideal or a watchword never fails to win the homage of
Greek men. Very early begins that sentimental republicanism which is
the inspiration of Plutarch, and through Plutarch has had so vast an
influence on the practical affairs of mankind. It appears in the famous
drinking-catch beginning _I will bear the sword in the myrtle-branch
like Harmodios and Aristogeiton_. It appears in Herodotus. Otanes the
Persian (talking Greek political philosophy), after recounting all the
evils of a tyrant’s reign, is made to say: _But what I am about to
tell are his greatest crimes: he breaks ancestral customs, and forces
women, and puts men to death without trial. But the rule of the people
in the first place has the fairest name in the world, “isonomy,” and
in the second place it does none of those things a despot doeth._ In
his own person Herodotus writes: _It is clear not merely in one but in
every instance how excellent a thing is “equality.” When the Athenians
were under their tyrants they fought no better than their neighbours,
but after they had got rid of their masters they were easily superior.
Now this proves that when they were held down they fought without
spirit, because they were toiling for a master, but when they had been
liberated every man was stimulated to his utmost efforts in his own
behalf._ The same morning confidence in democracy shines in the reply
of the constitutional king, Theseus, to the herald in Euripides’ play
asking for the “tyrant” of Athens. _You have made a false step in the
beginning of your speech, O stranger, in seeking a tyrant here. Athens
is not ruled by one man, but is free. The people govern by turns in
yearly succession, not favouring the rich but giving him equal measure
with the poor._

The _naïveté_ of this provokes a smile, but it should provoke some
reflection too. Why does the rhetoric of liberty move us so little?
Partly, I think, because the meaning of the word has changed, and
partly because of this new “liberty” we have a super-abundance. No
longer does Liberty mean in the first place the Reign of Law, but
something like its opposite. Let us recover the Greek attitude, and
we recapture, or at least understand, the Greek emotion concerning
Eleutheria. Jason says to Medea in Euripides’ play, _Thou dwellest in
a Greek instead of a Barbarian land, and hast come to know Justice and
the use of Law without favour to the strong_. The most “romantic” hero
in Greek legend recommending the conventions!

This, however, is admirably and characteristically Greek. The typical
heroes of ancient story are alike in their championship of law and
order. I suppose the two most popular and representative were Heracles
and Theseus. Each goes up and down Greece and Barbary destroying
_hybristai_, local robber-kings, strong savages, devouring monsters,
ill customs and every manner of “lawlessness” and “injustice.” In
their place each introduces Greek manners and government, Law and
Justice. It was this which so attracted Greek sympathy to them and
so excited the Greek imagination. For the Greeks were surrounded by
dangers like those which Heracles or Theseus encountered. If they had
not to contend with supernatural hydras and triple-bodied giants and
half-human animals, they had endless pioneering work to do which made
such imaginings real enough to them; and men who had fought with the
wild Thracian tribes could vividly sympathize with Heracles in his
battle with the Thracian “king,” Diomedes, who fed his fire-breathing
horses with the flesh of strangers. Nor was this preference of the
Greeks for heroes of such a type merely instinctive; it was reasoned
and conscious. The “mission” of Heracles, for example, is largely the
theme of Euripides’ play which we usually call _Hercules Furens_. A
contemporary of Euripides, the sophist Hippias of Elis, was the author
of a too famous apologue, _The Choice of Heracles_, representing the
youthful hero making the correct choice between Laborious Virtue and
Luxurious Vice. Another Euripidean play, _The Suppliant Women_, as
we have seen, reveals Theseus in the character of a conventional,
almost painfully constitutional, sovereign talking the language of
Lord John Russell. As for us, our sympathies are ready to flow out
to the picturesque defeated monsters—the free Centaurs galloping on
Pelion—the cannibal Minotaur lurking in his Labyrinth. But then our
bridals are not liable to be disturbed by raids of wild horsemen from
the mountains, nor are our children carried off to be dealt with at the
pleasure of a foreign monarch. People who meet with such experiences
get surprisingly tired of them. There is a figure known to mythologists
as a Culture Hero. He it is who is believed to have introduced law
and order and useful arts into the rude community in which he arose.
Such heroes were specially regarded, and the reverence felt for them
measures the need of them. Thus in ancient Greece we read of Prometheus
and Palamêdes, the Finns had their Wainomoinen, the Indians of North
America their Hiawatha. Think again of historical figures like
Charlemagne and Alfred, like Solon and Numa Pompilius, even Alexander
the Great. A peculiar romance clings about their names. Why? Only
because to people fighting what must often have seemed a losing battle
against chaos and night the institution and defence of law and order
seemed the most romantic thing a man could do. And so it was.

Such a view was natural for them. Whether it shall seem natural to us
depends on the fortunes of our civilization. On that subject we may
leave the prophets to rave, and content ourselves with the observation
that there are parts of Europe to-day in which many a man must feel
himself in the position of Roland fighting the Saracens or Aëtius
against the Huns. As for ourselves, however confident we may feel, we
shall be foolish to be over-confident; for we are fighting a battle
that has no end. The Barbarian we shall have always with us, on our
frontiers or in our own breasts. There is also the danger that the
prize of victory may, like Angelica, escape the strivers’ hands.
Already perhaps the vision which inspires us is changing. I am not
concerned to attack the character of that change but to interpret the
Greek conception of civilization, merely as a contribution to the
problem. To the Greeks, then, civilization is the slow result of a
certain immemorial way of living. You cannot get it up from books,
or acquire it by imitation; you must absorb it and let it form your
spirit, you must live in it and live through it; and it will be hard
for you to do this, unless you have been born into it and received it
as a birth-right, as a mould in which you are cast as your fathers
were. “Oh, but we must be more progressive than that.” Well, we are
not; on the contrary the Greeks were very much the most progressive
people that ever existed—intellectually progressive, I mean of course;
for are we not talking about civilization?

The Greek conception, therefore, seems to work. I think it works, and
worked, because the tradition, so cherished as it is, is not regarded
as stationary. It is no more stationary to the Greeks than a tree, and
a tree whose growth they stimulated in every way. It seems a fairly
common error, into which Mr. Belloc and Mr. Chesterton sometimes fall,
for modern champions of tradition to over-emphasize its stability.
There has always been the type of “vinous, loudly singing, unsanitary
men,” which Mr. Wells has called the ideal of these two writers; he is
the foundational type of European civilization. But it almost looks
as if Mr. Belloc and Mr. Chesterton were entirely satisfied with him.
They want him to stay on his small holding, and eat quantities of ham
and cheese, and drink quarts of ale, and hate rich men and politicians,
and be perfectly parochial and illiterate. But Hellenism means, simply
an effort to work on this sound and solid stuff; it is not content to
leave him as he is; it strives to develope him, but to develope him
within the tradition; to transform him from an Aristophanic demesman
into an Athenian citizen. But Mr. Belloc and Mr. Chesterton are Greek
in this, that they have constantly the sense of fighting an endless and
doubtful battle against strong enemies that would destroy whatever is
most necessary to the soul of civilized men. _Well I know in my heart
and soul that sacred Ilium must fall, and Priam, and the folk of Priam
with the good ashen spear ... yet before I die will I do a deed for
after ages to hear of!_



It needs imagination for the modern man to live into the atmosphere of
ancient Greece. It ought not now to be so hard for us who have seen the
lives and sanctities of free peoples crushed and stained. It should
be easier for us to reoccupy the spiritual ground of Hellas, to feel
a new thrill in her seemingly too simple formulas, a new value in her
seemingly cold ideals. It is opportune to write about her now, and
justifiable to write with a quickened hope. For all that, mental habits
are the last we lose, and the habit of regarding our civilization as
secure has had time to work itself deep into our minds. It has coloured
our outlook, directed our tastes, altered our souls.

That last expression may appear overstrained. Yet reflect if it really
be so. These many ages we have felt so safe. If fear came on us, it
was not fear for the fabric itself of civilization. We grew delicately
weary of our inevitably clasping and penetrating culture. We called
it our “old” civilization, with some implication of senility; and we
were restive under its restraints and conventions. We were affected
in different ways, but we were all affected, we were all tired of
our security. To escape it some of us fled to the open road and a
picturesque gipsyism, some hunted big game in Africa. One or two of us
actually did these things, a greater number did them in imagination,
reading about them in books. Others, not caring to fatigue their
bodies, or too fastidious or sincere or morbid to find relief in
personal or vicarious adventures—for this reason or that—pursued
“spiritual adventures” or flamed out into rebellion against what they
felt insulted their souls. It seems clear enough that our bohemianism
of the city and the field is not two things but one, and I am not put
from this opinion by the consciousness of temperamental gulfs between
typical moderns such as (not to come too near ourselves) Whitman and
Poe in America. The symptoms are different, but the malady is the same.

I am not concerned to defend the word “malady,” if it be thought
objectionable. It may be a quite excellent and healthy reaction we
have been experiencing. But a reaction means a disturbance of poise,
leaving us to some extent, as we say, unbalanced. It may have been so
in an opposite sense with the Greeks. I may not deny (for I am not
sure about it) that they went to the other extreme. It is possible and
even likely. But if they were rather mad about the virtues of sanity,
and rather excessive in their passion for moderation, this intensity
can only be medicinal to us, who need the tonic badly. It may help
us to reach that just equilibrium in which the soul is not asleep,
but, in fact, most thrillingly sensitive. Being what it is, the human
soul seems bound to oscillate for ever about its equipoise. It will
always have its actions and reactions. Our violent reaction against
the sense of an absolute security is entirely natural because of that
strange passion, commingled of longing and fear, that draws us to the
heart of loneliness and night. But it has exactly reversed our point of
view. We have wished for the presence of conditions which the Greeks,
having them, wished away. We have wished the forest to grow closer to
our doors. We have admired explorers and pioneers. We have admired
them because we are different. Well, the Greeks were explorers and
pioneers—and not merely in things of the spirit—and they wished the
forest away. Naturally, you see; just as naturally as we long for it to
be there.

There is a line in Juvenal which means that when the gods intend to
destroy a man they grant him his desire. If we suddenly found ourselves
in the heart of savagery, most of us would wish to retract our prayers.
Robinson Crusoe tired of his delightful island. Men who live on the
verge of civilization are apt to cherish ideals which create strong
shudders in the modern artistic soul. On the African or Canadian
frontiers, or cruising in the south seas, a man may dream of a future
“home” of the kind which has moved so many of our writers to laughter
or pity. Whatever our own aspiration might be under the burden of
similar circumstances, we should at least experience a far profounder
sense of the value of those very civilities and conventions, of which
we had professed our weariness. To uphold the flag of the human spirit
against the forces that would crush and humiliate it—that would seem
the heroic, the romantic thing. Exactly that was the mission of Greece,
as she knew well, feeling all the glory and labour of it. And so far
as to fight bravely for a fair ideal with the material odds against you
is romantic, in that degree Greece was romantic. Her victory (of which
we reap the fruits) has wrought her this injury, that her ideal has
lost the attraction that clings to beautiful threatened things. It has
become the “classical” ideal, consecrated and—for most of us—dead.

But it is not dead, and it will never perish, for it is the watchword
of a conflict that may die down but cannot expire; the conflict between
the Hellene and the Barbarian, the disciplined and the undisciplined
temper, the constructive and the destructive soul. Let that conflict
become desperate once more, and we shall understand. But a little
exercise of imagination would let us understand now. As it is, we
hardly do. We note with chilled amazement the passionate emphasis with
which the Greeks repeat over and over to themselves their _Nothing too
much!_ as if it were charged with all wisdom and human comfort. We
understand what the words say; we do not understand what they mean.

The explanation is certain. The Greek watchword is uninspiring to
us, because we do not need it. We are not afraid of stimulus and
excitement, because we have our passions better under control, because
we have more thoroughly subdued the Barbarian within us, than the
Greeks. It is at least more agreeable to our feelings to put it that
way than to speak of “this ghastly thin-faced time of ours.” The
Greeks, on the other hand, were wildly afraid of temptation, not much
for puritanic reasons, although for something finer than prudential
ones. It may seem a little banal to repeat it, but— they had the
artistic temperament. They had the exceptional impressionability, and
they felt the very practical necessity (at least as important for the
artist as the puritan) of a serenity at the core of the storm. _The
wind that fills my sails, propels; but I am helmsman_ is the image
in Meredith. I once collected a quantity of material for a study of
the Greek temperament. I have been looking over it again, and I find
illustration after illustration of an impressionability rivalling
that of the most extreme Romantics. It is difficult to appraise this
evidence. Quite clearly it is full of exaggeration and prejudice.
If you were to believe the orators about one another, and about
contemporary politicians, you would think that fourth-century Athens
was run exclusively by criminal lunatics. Nor are the historians
writing in that age much better, infected as they are by the very evil
example of the rhetoricians. But the cumulative effect is overwhelming,
and is produced as much, if not more, by little half-conscious
indications, mere gestures and casual phrases, as by the records of
hysterical emotionality and scarlet sins. Don’t you remember how people
in Homer when they meet usually burst into tears and, if something
did not happen, might (the poet says) go on weeping till sunset? It
is not so often for grief they weep—unless for that remembered sorrow
which is a kind of joy—as for delight in the renewal of friendship, or
merely to relieve their feelings. The phrase used by Homer to describe
the end of such lamentations is one he also applies to people who have
just thoroughly enjoyed a meal. There is a sensuous element in it. Of
course, one murmurs “the southern” or “the Latin temperament”; but if
we understood the Latin temperament better, we should be able to read
more meaning into that warning _Nothing too much!_

A friend said to Sophocles, “_How do you feel about love, Sophocles?
Are you still fit for an amorous encounter?_” “_Don’t mention it, man;
I have just given it the slip—and very glad too—feeling as if I had
escaped from bondage to a ferocious madman._” To be sure Sophocles
was a poet and had the poetical temperament, and it would argue a
strange ignorance of human nature to make any inferences concerning his
character from the Olympian serenity of his art. But listen to this
anecdote about an ordinary young man. _Leontios the son of Aglaion
was coming up from the Piraeus in the shadow of the North Wall, on
the outside, when he caught sight of some corpses lying at the feet
of the public executioner. He wanted to get a look at them, but at
the same time he was disgusted with himself and tried to put himself
off the thing. For a time he fought it out and veiled his eyes. His
desire, however, getting the mastery of him, he literally pulled apart
his eyelids and, running up to the dead bodies, said, “There you are,
confound you; glut yourselves on the lovely sight!”_

Both anecdotes are in Plato, and may serve as a warning when we are
tempted to think him too hard on the emotional elements of the soul. He
knew the danger, because he felt it himself, because he understood the
Greek temperament—better, for instance, than Aristotle did. Undoubtedly
there is an ascetic strain in Plato, as there is in every moralist who
has done the world any good. But Greek asceticism is an attuning of the
instrument, not a mortification of the flesh. It is just the training
or discipline that is as necessary for eminence in art or in athletics
as for eminence in virtue. The Greek words—askêsis, aretê—level these

This high tension is the natural reaction of a spirit, finely and
richly endowed as the Greek was, to the pressure of strong alien
forces. If the tension relaxed or broke, the result was what you might
expect; there was a rocket-like flash to an extreme. Others as well as
I may have wondered at the sort of language we find in Greek writers
concerning “tyrants.” The horror expressed is not merely conventional
or naïve as in a child’s history book, it is real and deeply felt.
The danger of tyranny was of course very actual in most of the Greek
states, even in Athens. But it is not so much the danger of suffering
as of exercising a tyranny that is in the minds of the best Greek
writers. The tyrant is a damned soul. Waiting for him in the dark are
“certain fiery-looking” devils and the Erinyes, Avengers of Blood. The
tyrant is the completion and final embodiment of human depravity....
Well, perhaps he is. But we should never think of giving the tyrant
so very special a pre-eminence over every other type of criminal. Yet
the Greek feeling seems quite natural when we reflect that the very
definition of a tyrant is one that is placed above the law, and is
therefore under no external obligation to self-restraint, lacking which
the average Greek very rapidly and flamboyantly went to the devil.

There was, for example, Alexander prince of Pherae, whom Shakespeare
read about in his Plutarch. Alexander had a habit of burying people
alive, or wrapping them in the skins of bears or boars; he used to hunt
them with dogs. He consecrated the spear with which he had murdered his
uncle, crowning it with garlands and offering sacrifices to it under
the name of Tychon, an obscene god. This same Alexander was present
once at a performance of Euripides’ _Trojan Women_, and was so overcome
by his feelings that he hurried from the theatre, leaving a message for
the leading actor, which explained that he did not disapprove of the
acting, but was ashamed to let people see him, who had never shown the
least pity for his victims, crying over Hecuba and Andromache. _What’s
Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, that he should weep for her?_

One might perhaps say of Alexander what Ruskin (speaking, as he
assures us, after due deliberation) says of Adam Smith, that he was
“in an entirely damned state of soul.” It would be easy to multiply
examples like that of this Pheraean, but it would be still easier to
disgust the reader with them. I will take, then, a milder case (more
instructive in its way than much pathology) which has for us this
twofold value, that it is full of human and pathetic interest, and at
the same time reflects, all the more if there are legendary elements in
it, the popular imagination of the tyrant’s mood. It is the tragedy of
Periandros, lord of Corinth. Hear Sosikles the Corinthian in Herodotus.

_When Kypselos had reigned thirty years and ended his life happily, he
was succeeded by his son, Periandros. Now Periandros was milder than
his father at first, but afterwards by means of messengers he joined
himself to Thrasyboulos the tyrant of Miletus, and became yet more
bloody by far than Kypselos. For he sent a herald to Thrasyboulos and
inquired how he might most safely put affairs in order and best govern
Corinth. Thrasyboulos brought the messenger of Periandros forth from
the city, and entering into a field of corn he went through the corn,
putting one question after another to the herald on the matter of
his coming from Corinth. And ever as he spied an ear that overtopped
the rest, he would strike it off, and so marring it cast it down,
until in this way he destroyed the fairest and tallest portion of the
crop. And having traversed the field he sends away the herald without
giving him a word of counsel. When the herald returned to Corinth,
Periandros wished to learn the counsel. But the other said that
Thrasyboulos had answered nothing, and that he marvelled at him, what
manner of man he had sent him to, one beside himself and a destroyer
of his own possessions; relating what he saw done by Thrasyboulos. But
Periandros, understanding the action and perceiving that Thrasyboulos
advised him to slay the most eminent of the citizens, then showed every
manner of villainy towards the Corinthians. Whatever Kypselos had
left unaccomplished by his slaughterings and banishments, Periandros
fulfilled. And in one day he stripped naked all the women of Corinth
for his wife Melissa’s sake. For when he had sent messengers to the
river Acheron in Thesprotia, to the Oracle of the Dead there, to
inquire concerning a treasure deposited by a stranger, the ghost of
Melissa appeared and said that she would not signify nor declare in
what place the treasure was laid; for she was cold and naked, since she
had no profit of the garments that had been buried with her, for that
they had not been burned; and for proof that her words were true she
had a secret message for his ear.... When these things were reported to
Periandros (for the secret forced him to believe, since he had had to
do with Melissa when she was dead) immediately after he caused it to be
proclaimed that all the wives of the Corinthians should come forth to
the temple of Hera. And when they came, wearing their richest garments
as for a holy feast, he set his bodyguard in their way, and stripped
them all, bond and free alike, and gathering all into a trench he
burned the pile with prayer to Melissa. And when he had done this, and
had sent to her the second time, the ghost of Melissa told him where
she had deposited the stranger’s treasure._

Periandros had murdered Melissa. After her death _another calamity_,
says Herodotus, _befell him as I shall tell. He had two sons by
Melissa, one seventeen years of age and the other eighteen. Their
mother’s father Prokles, tyrant of Epidaurus, sent for them to his
castle and kindly entreated them, as was natural, for they were his
daughter’s children. But when he was bidding them farewell, he said,
“Know ye, my children, who slew your mother?” This saying the elder
regarded not, but the younger, whose name was Lykophron, when he heard
it was so moved_—the poor young man—_that when he came to Corinth, he
spake no word to his father, accounting him his mother’s murderer,
neither would he converse with him nor answer any question. And at last
Periandros in great anger drave him from the house. And after he had
expelled him, he questioned the elder son, what discourse their uncle
had held with them. And he told his father that Prokles had received
them kindly, but made no mention of that speech of Prokles, which he
uttered at their departing, for he had not marked it. But Periandros
declared that it was in no way possible but that he had given them
some counsel, and closely questioned the lad, till he remembered and
told this also. And Periandros, understanding the matter and resolved
not to yield weakly in any thing, sent a messenger to those with whom
the son whom he had driven forth was living, and forbade them to take
him in. And whenever the wanderer came to another house, he would be
driven from this also, Periandros threatening those who received him
and commanding them to thrust him forth. And he went wandering from
house to house of his friends, who, for all their fear, used to receive
him, seeing that he was the son of Periandros. But at last Periandros
caused proclamation to be made, that whosoever should receive him in
his house or speak to him, the same must pay such and such a sacred
penalty to Apollo. Therefore because of this proclamation no man was
willing to speak to the lad or to give him shelter. Moreover neither
would he himself try to obtain that which was forbidden him, but
endured all, haunting the public porticos. On the fourth day Periandros
saw him all unwashen and emaciated for lack of food, and was moved to
pity, and remitting somewhat of his anger he approached and said, “My
son, whether is better, to fare as now thou farest, or to take over my
lordship and the good things that are mine, reconciled to thy father?
But thou, my son and prince of wealthy Corinth, hast chosen a vagrant
life, opposing and showing anger against him whom thou oughtest least
to hate. If there has been a mishap in that matter, the same hath
befallen me also, and I have the larger share therein, as mine was the
deed. But apprehending how far better it is to be envied than pitied,
and at the same time what manner of thing it is to be wroth with them
that begat thee and are stronger than thou, come back home.” With these
words Periandros sought to constrain his son, but he made no other
answer but only this, that his father had incurred the sacred penalty
to the god by entering into speech with him. And Periandros, perceiving
that there was no dealing with nor overcoming of the enmity of his son,
sends him away out of his sight on board a ship to Corcyra, for he was
master of Corcyra also. But after he had dispatched him, Periandros
made an expedition against Prokles his father-in-law, blaming him
chiefly for what had happened, and took Epidaurus, and took Prokles
himself alive._

_But in course of time Periandros came to be old, and knew himself no
longer capable of watching over and administering affairs. Wherefore
he sent to Corcyra and recalled Lykophron to the tyranny; for he saw
nothing in his elder son, but looked upon him as somewhat dull of wit.
But Lykophron would not even answer the messenger. But Periandros, who
was bound up in the young man, made a second attempt, sending his own
daughter, Lykophron’s sister, thinking he would most readily listen to
her. And when she had come she said, “Dear Lykophron, is it your desire
that our lordship should fall to others and thy father’s substance be
scattered abroad, rather than come away and have it thyself? Come home;
cease punishing thyself. A proud heart is poor profit. Do not cure
one evil with another. Many prefer mercy to justice; and many ere now
in seeking what was their mother’s have lost what their father had. A
tyranny is a slippery thing, and many there be that long for it; and
he is now an old man and past his prime. Give not away what is thine
own to others.” These were her words, which her father had taught to
her as the most persuasive. But Lykophron answered that he would on no
account come to Corinth so long as he knew his father was alive. When
she had brought back this answer, Periandros sends a third messenger,
a herald, to propose that he should go himself to Corcyra, and bidding
Lykophron come to Corinth to succeed him in the tyranny. The young man
agreed to these terms, and Periandros was setting out for Corcyra and
the prince to Corinth, when the Corcyraeans, becoming aware of all
this, in order that Periandros might not come to their land, put the
lad to death. Therefore Periandros took vengeance on the Corcyraeans_.

The revenge of the old man was to send three hundred boys of the chief
Corcyraean families to the great Lydian king, Alyattes, to be made
eunuchs.... He was cheated of his revenge by a humane stratagem of the
Samians. The lonely old man, with that touch of original nobleness
all gone now, black frustrate rage in his heart, love turned to an
inhuman hate of all the world, wearing this Nessus shirt of remorse and
despair! _Such is tyranny_, says Sosikles at the end of his speech,
_Such is tyranny, O Lacedaemonians, and such its consequences._

Periandros, you see, has already become a type. There is a curious
fitness in the application to these old “tyrants” of the worn quotation
from _The Vanity of Human Wishes_—they do very specially point a
moral and adorn a tale. The moral they point is the danger of losing
_Sophrosyne_. There is a wonderful description in Plato’s _Republic_
of the tyrant’s genesis, a description which may startle us by the
intensity of feeling which one touches in it. It is a story of the
gradual loss of Sophrosyne, ending in perfect degeneration and the loss
of all the other virtues as well. This Sophrosyne (one of the cardinal
Greek virtues and the most characteristic of all) confronts us at the
outset of any study of the Hellenic temperament. To understand the
one is to understand the other. Complete understanding is of course
impossible, but we may get nearer and nearer to the secret.

Sophrosyne is the “saving” virtue. That means little—or nothing—until
it is steeped in the colours of the Greek temperament, and viewed in
the Greek attitude to life. Well then, the Greek attitude to life—how
shall we describe that? I am going to describe it in a phrase which
is at least accurate enough to help on our discussion greatly: it
looks upon life as an _Agon_, and by an Agon is meant the whole range
of activities from the most to the least heroic, from the most to
the least spiritual, contest or competition. The reader will forgive
an appearance of pedantry in this, since the word needs careful
translation. Now my suggestion is that this _agonistic_ view of
life, if I may so call it, pervades and characterizes all Classical
antiquity. To understand clearly the nature of an Agon we must keep
firmly in mind its origin. It would be misleading surely to call its
origin religious—as if men needed to be religious to fight!—but it is
undeniable that its roots are embedded in that primitive life which is
so largely mastered by religion and magic. In consequence an ancient
Agon was nearly always a religious ceremony. That seems curious enough
to a modern mind, yet nothing is more certain. The great national Games
like the Olympic, the rhapsodic and musical contests, the Attic Drama
(which was specifically an Agon)—all had this religious or supernatural
_aura_ investing them. And when one looks into Greek religion itself,
one finds everywhere as its characteristic expression a choric dance,
which normally takes the form of an actual or mimic contest between two
sides or “semi-choruses.”

The motive then of an Agon differed from that of an ordinary modern
contest. It was normally a _ritual_ contest, and its motive a
_religious_ motive. It was not held for its own sake, like a football
match, but for a definite object. This object the Greeks called
_Nikê_, which we translate—inadequately enough, as is plain from the
facts we have been considering—as “victory.” It was felt to be not so
much a personal distinction as a blessing upon the whole community.
It possessed a magical virtue. There was even a sense in which in an
ancient Agon everybody won. Nor does it seem extravagant to say that
Greek society, like a primitive society, only in a far richer, more
complex, more significant and spiritual way, was organized for the
production of Nikê.

That is a large matter. There is, to be sure, no need of accumulated
detail to prove that the Agon was the most characteristic institution
of ancient life; it only requires to be pointed out; everywhere we find
these competitions. What may chiefly interest us for the moment is
that the Agon was simply the outward expression of the characteristic
Greek outlook upon life and upon the whole human scene. For the
Greek looked upon life itself as a struggle, an Agon, an opportunity
for the production of Nikê. Mr. Wells gives to one of his essays the
title of “The Human Adventure.” Life as the Human Adventure very well
expresses the Greek feeling about it. Only let us not forget that the
Nikê which is the object and justification of every Agon is—I have
already remarked it—something utterly, qualitatively different from
mere success. It is the triumph of the Cause. “Success”—“the successful
business man”—not that kind of success.

The most successful man in Greece, every one remembers, was rewarded
with a little garland of wild olive. _God help us, Mardonios_, said a
noble Persian when he heard this, _what men are these thou hast brought
us to fight against!—men that contend not for money but for merit_. The
individual Greek could want money badly enough, as may be gathered from
the amusing, but satirical, _Characters_ of Theophrastus. Yet in the
soul of Hellas, for all its strong sense of reality and despite some
inclination to avarice, one finds at last something you might almost
call quixotic. Is there not some element of quixotry in every high
adventure? And what adventure could be higher than to fight for “the
beautiful things,” _Ta Kala_, against the outnumbering Barbarian?

Sophrosyne is the virtue that “saves” in this battle. Understand it
so, and you must share some part of the ardour this word inspired. It
means the steady control and direction of the total energy of a man.
It means discipline. It means concentration. It is the angel riding
the whirlwind, the charioteer driving the wild horses. There is no
word for it in English, and we must coldly translate “moderation,”
“temperance,” “self-restraint.” “Moderation” as a name for this
strong-pulsed, triumphant thing! Why even the late-born, unromantic
Aristotle, even while he is describing Sophrosyne as a “mean” between
excessive and deficient emotionality, turns aside to remark, as a thing
almost too obvious to need pointing out, that “there is a sense in
which Sophrosyne is an _extreme_.” This is She whom Dante beheld on the
Mountain of Purgatory such that “never were seen in furnace glasses or
metals so glowing and red”:

  _giammai non si videro in fornace
   vetri o metalli sì lucenti e rossi_.



It was an ancient hypothesis that the Gods are only deified men. A
certain Euêmeros suggested this. His favourite illustration was Zeus;
that greatest of the Gods, he said, was a prehistoric king in Crete, as
the Cretan legends about him proved. This theory has received a fresh
life from the investigations of modern scholars. Historically, it seems
to be largely true; psychologically, it explains nothing at all. _All
men have need of the Gods_, says Homer; the religious instinct, that is
the important thing, or rather (since the other is important too) that
is the fundamental thing. It is also the prior thing, the spring of the
religious act. If I want to know why primitive men make a god of one of
their number, it seems no answer to assure me that they do so. Yet the
historical inquiry has great interest too, and throws a dim and rather
lurid light on the development of religion and religious thought. And
I could not leave untouched an aspect of the old Greek life so vital
as its belief about the gods without illustrating how here also the
conflict of Greek and Barbarian worked itself out.

It is almost the other day that we rediscovered the old Aegean
religion—the immemorially ancient religion of the non-Greek peoples,
the Barbarians, who lived about the Aegean Sea. It is now clear that
the Hittites, the Phrygians, the ancient peoples of Anatolia generally,
worshipped a kind of triad or trinity of Father, Son and Consort.
Sometimes, as in the Hittite sculptures, the Father and the Son seem
the important members of the group; sometimes, as in the Phrygian
religion, the emphasis is chiefly on the Mother and Consort, and the
Son. But the third member can always be discovered too, standing pretty
obviously in the background. In prehistoric Crete (which, of course,
became Greek in historical times) we again recognize the divine Three
in the persons of those native divinities whom the Greeks learned to
call Kronos, Rhea and Zeus. That is the skeleton of the old religion;
the living flesh in which it was clothed was begotten in tribal custom.
Primitive peoples fashion their gods after their own image. Their chief
god they think of as a greater and more worshipful “king,” swayed by
the passions, observing the etiquette, and wearing the regalia of their
earthly rulers. Now the primitive king held his place by force or craft
or the terror of his rages (his _menos_)—and by no other tenure. He
lived in constant dread of the rival who, younger and stronger, would
one day rise against him and seize his throne. The rival might be a
stranger, but more frequently he was the king’s own son, who, for one
thing, would be thought likely to inherit the magical virtue of his
sire. Accordingly, when the Young King was born, the Old King would
seek his life. But there he would be apt to meet the opposition of the
Queen, who would seek to convey the child to a safe retreat. Then,
grown at last to manhood, suddenly the Prince would return to challenge
the Old King to mortal combat. The Gods behave exactly like that.

The chief depositary in ancient Greece of popular beliefs about the
Gods is the curious poem attributed to Hesiod, called the _Theogony_.
Along with certain parts of Homer, it formed what might be called
the handbook of orthodoxy, and it tells us with an incomparable
authoritativeness what the sacred tradition was. Eldest of all, says
the _Theogony_, was Gaia or Mother Earth, a goddess. Now she _bare
first starry Ouranos, equal to herself, that he might cover her on
every side ... and afterward she lay with him, and bare the deep coil
of Okeanos, and Koios, and Krios, and Hyperîon, and Iapetos, and Thea,
and Rhea, and Themis, and Mnemosyne, and Phoibe with the gold upon her
head, and lovely Tethys. And, after these, youngest was born Kronos
the Crooked-Thinker, most dangerous of her sons, who loathed his lusty
begetter._ There is a fuller account in another place. _Next, of Gaia
and Ouranos were born three sons, huge and violent, ill to name, Kottos
and Briareos and Gyes, the haughty ones. From their shoulders swang
an hundred arms invincible, and on their shoulders, upon their rude
bodies, grew heads a fifty upon each; irresistible strength crowned the
giant forms. Of all the children of Gaia and Ouranos most to be feared
were these, and they were hated of their Sire from the first; yea, soon
as one was born, he would not let them into the light, but would hide
them all away in a hiding-place of Earth, and Ouranos gloried in the
bad work. And, being straitened, huge Gaia groaned inwardly; and she
thought of a cruel device. Hastily she created the grey flint, and of
it fashioned a mighty Sickle, and expounded her thought to her Sons,
speaking burning words from an anguished heart. “Sons of me and of an
unrighteous Father, if ye will hearken to me, on your Father ye may
take vengeance for his sinful outrage, for it was He began the devising
of shameful deeds!”_

_So spake she, but fear seized them all, I ween, neither did one of
them utter a word. But mighty Kronos the Cunning took heart of grace,
and made answer again to his good Mother. “Mother, I will undertake and
will perform this thing, since of our Father (‘Father!’) I reck not;
for it was He began the devising of shameful deeds!” So spake he, and
mighty Gaia rejoiced greatly in her heart, and hid him in an ambush,
and put in his hands the sharp-fanged Sickle, and taught him all the

_Great Ouranos came with falling night and cast him broadly over Gaia,
desiring her, and outstretched him at large upon her. But that other,
his Son, reached out with his left hand from the place of his hiding
... and with his right grasping the monstrous fanged Sickle, he swiftly
reaped the privy parts of his Father and cast them to fall behind him._

In calling this story Barbarian, I feel as if I ought to apologize
to the Barbarians. Nevertheless it is clearly more in their way than
in the way of the Greeks. It excellently illustrates the kind of
stuff from which Greek religion refined itself. You will see that
it is the old savage stuff of the battle between the Kings. On this
occasion it is the Young King who prevails and pushes the Old King
from his throne—not to die (for he was a God), but to live a shadowy,
elemental life. But neither was Kronos able to escape his destiny. For
_Rhea, subdued unto Kronos, bare shining children, even Hestia, and
Demeter, and gold-shod Hera, and strong Hades, that pitiless heart,
dwelling under ground, and the roaring Earth-Shaker, and Zeus the
Many-Counselled, the Father of Gods and men, by whose thunder the broad
earth is shaken. They also—great Kronos was used to swallow them down,
as each came from the womb to his holy Mother’s knees, with intent
that none other of the proud race of Ouranos should hold the lordship
among the Everliving. For he knew from Gaia and starry Ouranos that
he was fated to be overcome of his own child.... Therefore no blind
man’s watch he kept, but looked for his children and swallowed them;
but Rhea grieved and would not be comforted. But when she was at point
to bring forth Zeus, then she prayed her own dear parents, Gaia and
starry Ouranos, to devise a plan whereby she might bear her Son in
secret, and retribution be paid by Kronos the Crafty Thinker for his
father’s sake and his children that he gorged. And they truly gave ear
to their daughter and obeyed her, and told her all things that were
fated to befall concerning Kronos the King and his strong-hearted Son.
And they conveyed her to Luktos in the fat land of Crete, when she was
about to bring forth the youngest of her sons, great Zeus. Him gigantic
Gaia received from her in broad Crete to nurture and to nurse. Thither
came Gaia bearing him through the swift black night, to Luktos first;
and she took him in her arms and hid him in a lonely cave, withdrawn
beneath the goodly land, there where the wild-wood is thick upon the
hills of Aigaion. But she wrapped a great Stone in swaddlingclouts,
and gave it to the Son of Ouranos so mightily ruling, the Old King of
the Gods. And Kronos seized it then with his hands, and put it down
in his belly without ruth, nor knew in his own mind that for a Stone
his Son was left to him unvanquished and unharmed, that was soon to
overcome him by main strength of his hands, and drive him from the
sovranty, and be King himself among the Everliving._

_For swiftly thereafter mightiness was increased to the Young King and
his shining limbs waxed greater, and, as the seasons rounded to their
close, great Kronos the Cunning was beguiled by the subtile suggestions
of Gaia, and cast up again his offspring; and first he spewed forth the
Stone, that he had swallowed last. Zeus planted it where meet the roads
of the world in goodly Pytho under the rock-wall of Parnassus, to be a
sign and to be a marvel to men in the days to come._

The Stone was there all right, for the French excavators have found
it, looking highly indigestible. But it is unfair to treat Hesiod in
this spirit. In fact, to read in him such passages as I have quoted is
to give oneself quite a different emotion. There is the most curious
conflict between one’s moral and one’s æsthetic reactions to them. You
have a matter which it is poor to call savage, which is more like some
atavistic resurrection of the beast in man; and you find it told in a
style which is like some obsolescent litany full of half-understood
words and immemorial refrains. The most primitive-minded is also the
most literary poet in Greek, if by “literary” one means influenced by
a tradition in style. He is full of the epic _clichés_, and he repeats
them in a helpless, joyless way, as if he had no choice in the matter.
If you wish to be unkind, you may describe his style as the epic
jargon. But you will be unjust if you do not admit a certain grandeur
arising (it would almost seem) out of its very formalism. Even in its
decay the epic style is a magnificent thing. The singing-robes of Homer
have faded and stiffened, but they are still dimly gorgeous, and it
is with gold that they are stiff. The poet of the _Theogony_—I call
him Hesiod without prejudice—wears them almost like a priest. But if
you have to tell a story like those I have quoted, what other manner
is possible than just such a conventional, half-ritualistic style,
which acts like a spell to move the religious emotions and suspend the
critical judgment? I am not quite finished with Hesiod, and I want the
reader to have a little more patience with him and with me.

Before he was cast out of his throne, Ouranos, having conceived a
hatred of his Sons, Briareos and Kottos and Gyes, _strongly bound
them, being jealous of their overbearing valour, their beauty and
stature, and fixed their habitation under the wide-wayed earth, where
they were seated at the world’s end and utmost marge, in great grief
and indignation of mind. Natheless the Son of Kronos, and the rest of
the immortal Gods that deep-haired Rhea bare in wedlock with Kronos,
brought them up to the light again by the counsels of Gaia, who
told them all the tale, how they would gain the victory and bright
glory with the aid of those._ In another place we read that Briareos
and Kottos and Gyes _were grateful for that good service, and gave
Zeus the thunder and the burning bolt and the lightning-flash, that
aforetime vast Gaia concealed; in them he puts his trust as he rules
over mortals and immortals_. He required them almost at once in his
battle with the Titans. The word “Titans” seems to mean nothing more
or less than “Kings.” They were the Old Kings at war with the Young
Kings (who, because they lived on Mount Olympus in Thessaly, came to
be called the “Olympians”) with Zeus at their head. Naturally the Old
Kings took the side of Kronos, but after a ten years’ war they were
beaten in a terrific battle, and Zeus reigned supreme. And then how do
we find him behaving? Like this. _And Zeus King of the Gods took to
wife first Metis, that was wisest of Gods and men. And when indeed she
was about to bring forth the blue-eyed Goddess Athena, he beguiled her
with cunning words, and put her down into his belly, by the counsels
of Gaia and starry Ouranos, who counselled him so, lest some other of
the ever-living Gods should hold the sovranty in the stead of Zeus, for
of her it was fated that most wise children should be born, first the
bright-eyed Maid Tritogeneia, of equal might with her Sire and of a
wise understanding, and after her I ween she was to bear a high-hearted
Son, that would be King of Gods and men. So he clutched her and put her
down in his belly, in fear that she would bear a stronger thing than
the Thunderbolt._

Now, of course, the Greeks once believed this sort of thing; otherwise
you would not have Hesiod solemnly repeating it. But they very early
repudiated it; and it is just the earliness and the thoroughness
of their repudiation wherein they show themselves Greek. For the
surrounding Barbarians kept on believing myths hardly less damnable,
and kept acting on their faith; whereas as early as Homer you find
the Greek protest. In Homer it is silent; he simply leaves Hesiod’s
rubbish out. But the Ionian philosophers were not silent; indeed
they included in their condemnation Homer himself. Heraclitus said
that Homer deserved to be scourged out of the assemblies of men, and
Archilochus likewise. Xenophanês said, _Homer and Hesiod attribute
to the Gods all things that are scandals and reproach among men—to
thieve, to be adulterers, and to deceive one another._ Pindar (a very
moral poet) is indignant at the suggestion that an immortal god would
eat boiled baby. Naturally, however, the poets and the philosophers
approached the myths in a different spirit, which led to what in
Plato’s time was already “a standing quarrel.” The philosophers
objected to them altogether; the poets made them so beautiful in the
telling that they passed beyond the sphere of the moralist. Even the
_Theogony_ in parts achieves nobility; even in the _Theogony_ the
Hellenizing process is at work on the Barbarian matter.

We shall be better instructed, however, if we observe the process
in a later poet and a much greater artist. It so happens that the
_Prometheus Bound_ of Aeschylus, like the _Theogony_, deals with the
relations between the Old King and the New. The drama which we know
as the _Prometheus Bound_ is only a part of what ancient scholars
called a trilogy, which is a series of three plays developing a single
theme; and we cannot even be certain whether it is the first part or
the second. Of the other members of the trilogy we possess little more
than the titles, which are _Prometheus Unbound_ and _Prometheus the
Fire-Carrier_. Most students are now strongly disposed to believe that
the _Fire-Carrier_ received its name from the circumstance that the
play had for its theme, or part of its theme, the foundation of the
Prometheia or Festival of Prometheus at Athens, the culmination of
which was a torch-race engaged in by youthful fire-carriers. Every year
the Athenian ephêbi, running with lit torches in relays of competitors,
contended which should be the first to kindle anew the fire upon the
common altar of Prometheus and Hephaistos in the Academy. If this
conjecture regarding the theme of the _Fire-Carrier_ is just, then
we may be sure that this play came last in the series, because it
celebrates the triumph of the hero. Accordingly it is usual to arrange
the trilogy in the order: _Prometheus Bound_, _Prometheus Unbound_,
_Prometheus the Fire-Carrier_.

The _Prometheus Bound_ deals with the punishment of Prometheus by Zeus.
It is commonly said that the hero of the play is punished because he
had stolen fire, which Zeus had hidden away, and bestowed it upon
mortals, who are represented as hitherto uncivilized. There is a
certain amount of truth in this view, for in the opening scene of the
play, when Prometheus is nailed to his rock, the fiend Kratos repeats
that the reason for this torture is the theft of fire. But the proper
theme of the _Prometheus Bound_ is not so much the binding of the Titan
as the keeping him in bonds; and the reason for the prolongation of his
torture is quite different from the reason for beginning it. The new
reason is the refusal of Prometheus to reveal a secret, known to him
but not to Zeus. All that Zeus knows is that one day he is fated to be
superseded by his own son. What he does not, and what Prometheus does
know, is who must be the mother of that son. On the withholding and
the final revelation of this secret revolves the whole plot, not only
of the _Prometheus Bound_, but also of the lost plays of the trilogy.
To get the truth Zeus patiently tortures his immortal victim for three
myriads of years, himself tortured by the old dynastic terror. It is
the recurring situation of the _Theogony_ renewing itself once more.

Such crude material lay before Aeschylus. But his genius and his time
alike required from him a different treatment from that which does not
dissatisfy us in the archaic chronicle of Hesiod. The genius of the
Athenian poet is of course essentially dramatic, and he lived in an
age which had woken to the need for what I will simply call a better
religion. Therefore he chose the subject of Prometheus, and therefore
he treated it dramatically. Now for the poet and his audience what is
most dramatic is, or ought to be, what is felt by them as most human;
and what is most human is simply what is most alive and real to them;
for drama aims at the illusion of reality. So Aeschylus could not
handle his matter with the hieratic simplicity of the _Theogony_. The
issues could not be so simple for the dramatist, because they are never
so simple in actual life. If Aeschylus was to make Prometheus his hero,
he would have to make him “sympathetic.” And so, in _Prometheus Bound_,
he does; Prometheus engages all our sympathy, while Zeus appears a
tyrant in the modern, and not merely the ancient, sense of the word.
But that is not the conclusion of the matter. We know that in the last
play of the trilogy the tormentor and the tormented were reconciled.
To the uncompromising Shelley this was intolerable; and so he wrote
his “Prometheus Unbound.” And nearly every one who in modern times has
written on the subject, whatever explanation or apology he may have put
forward in behalf of Aeschylus, has wished in his heart that the Greek
had felt like the Englishman.

That he did not, is just the curious and disconcerting thing we should
like explained.

The tradition, of course, counts for much. Aeschylus did not invent
his story. He found it already in existence, and he found it ending
in a certain way. We cannot tell if it ended precisely in the way
that Aeschylus represented. But we can be perfectly sure that it
did not end in an unqualified victory for Prometheus. The tradition
appears to be dead against him. Aeschylus therefore was so far bound
by that. Then the problem presented itself to him with this further
complication, that as a matter of knowledge Zeus was reigning _now_.
So the justification of Zeus against the rebel Titan becomes a
justification of the moral governance of the universe. Yet although
Aeschylus felt the restraint of the myth and the restraint of the moral
issue, it is to be believed that he submitted to them with full, and
even passionate, acceptance. Like the great artist, like the great
dramatic poet he is, he begins by stating the case for Prometheus as
strongly as he can—more strongly, it would seem, than the existing
legends quite allowed—and even in the end the Titan is not shorn of his
due honour. But as against the Olympians, Aeschylus argues (with the
Greek poets in general), the Titans were in the wrong. The sin of the
Titans was lawlessness. Prometheus, in bringing to mortals the gift of
fire, broke the law which forbade them its use. The question whether
the dealings of God with man were “just” or no, was not to be decided
by your feelings (as Prometheus judged), but by cool and measured
reflection as to what was best in the end for mankind, or rather for
the universe, of which they formed after all so small a part.

Such doctrine falls chillingly on the modern spirit. But
that is largely because we realize so ill what it means. The
_Prometheus_-trilogy was a dramatization of the conflict of Pity and
Justice embodied in two superhuman wills. Before you condemn the
solution of Aeschylus, perhaps you are bound to answer the question if
this is not the conflict which the modern world is trying with blood
and tears to solve. In the end (so the old poet fabled) Zeus the rigid
Justicer learned mercy, while his passionate enemy came to recognize
the sovereignty of Law. A compromise, if you like; but if you are sorry
for it, it only means that you are sorry for human life. I daresay
Aeschylus was sorry too, but then he was not going to be sentimental.
Life _is_ after all governed by a compromise between Justice and Pity.
And if it comes to a mere question of emotional values, does not one
love Prometheus all the more because at the last he had, like any man,
to give up a little of his desire?

Even so we shall not have done complete justice to the Greek position,
until we have renewed in our minds the Greek emotion about law, order,
measure, limitation—the things we are engaged in criticizing and, most
of us, in disparaging. We must for our purpose accept the Hellenic
paradox. We must see with the Greek that it was not the wilderness,
but the ploughed field and the ordered vineyard that was truly
romantic. And in the moral reign it was Temperance, Self-Discipline,
_Sophrosyne_; in the sphere of art the strict outline, the subjugation
of excess, that filled the Greek with the pleasurable excitement
we find in the exotic, the crude, the violent, the bizarre. The
explanation is engagingly simple. To the ancient world law and order
were the exception—the wild, romantic, hardly attainable exception;
while us they interest about as much as a couple of boiled potatoes. We
are for the Open Road and somewhere east of Suez. But the attraction
then and now is exactly the same. It is the attraction of the

We could understand the Hellenic paradox better if we had to live in an
unsettled country. We should then receive the thrill which words like
_Nomos_ and _Thesmos_ and _Kosmos_, the watchwords of civilization,
awakened in the Greek bosom. We should understand the longing for a
clue in the maze of the lawless, a saving rule to guide one through the
thickets of desperate and degrading confusion. But as it is we are so
hedged about by the barbed-wire entanglements of Government regulations
and social conventions that our desires are chiefly concentrated on
breaking through—breaking through, let us admit, at but a little
point and for but a little time, for we are really rather fond of our
prison-house and care not to be too long out of it. Yes, I think with a
little effort we can understand. We can believe that the sense of home
is strongest in the wanderer. He wanders to find his home, and when he
has found it, he cannot make it “home-like” and conventional enough.

So to the ancients Greek civilization had the flavour of a high and
rare adventure. It was a crusade, the conquest of the Barbarian—the
Barbarian without and within. Viewed in this light, the conflict
between Zeus and Prometheus assumes an aspect novel enough to us.
Zeus represents the Law—unjust in this instance if you will, unjust
as perhaps Zeus himself came in the end partly to admit—but still the
Law. Prometheus represents Anarchy. In this he shows himself truly
a Titan, for the Titans embodied the lawless forces of nature and
an undisciplined emotionality. Our fatigued spirits love to gamble
a little with these excitements. But the Greeks had just escaped
from them, and were horribly afraid of them. There is nothing their
art loved to depict like the victory of the disciplined will—fairly
typified in Zeus, perfectly in Athena—over unchained passion. Hence
those endless pictures of Olympians warring against Titans, against
Giants—of Greeks against Amazons—of Heracles, of Theseus against the
monsters. They are records of a spiritual victory won at infinite cost.

The true theme of the _Prometheus_-trilogy is the Reign of Law. Law
in the realm of affairs, _Sophrosyne_ in morals, form in art. There
is nothing tame or negative about the doctrine. The Greek spirit was
not tame or negative; it would be difficult to say how much it was not
that! Indeed the inspiration of their creed was just the desire of the
Greeks to extract the full value of their emotions. None knew better
the danger lest one

          _should lose distinction in his joys
  As doth a battle when they charge on heaps,
  The enemy flying_.

And, from the point of view of art—always so important for them—the
rule of “measure” becomes the art of concentration. So Law stands
revealed as Beauty. As Keats says, the final condemnation of the Titans
was that, compared with the Olympians, they failed in Beauty:

  _For first in Beauty shall be first in Might_.

The evolution of Greek religion is thus largely an artistic process.
It would be obstinate to deny that the process may have been carried,
at last, too far. Greek art begins as almost a form of religion;
Greek religion ends as almost a form of art. Yet it would certainly
be still more obstinate to deny that more was gained than lost. There
was gained, for instance, the Greek mythology. And what simplicity and
sincerity that were lost were not more than made up for by that Greek
religion—no longer of the State but of the individual—which we find in
Plato and (as we have begun to see) in so much of the New Testament?

How much, and with what immense justification, the Greek religious
spirit was a spirit of beauty transforming Barbarism, could hardly
be more aptly illustrated than by a story in Herodotus. It is the
tale of Atys the son of Croesus. How beautiful it is, every reader
will confess. But how instructive it is, hardly any but the special
student will recognize. For he finds in it the unmistakable features
of an ancient myth. _Atys_, the brilliant, early-dying prince whom
Herodotus, repeating the legend as he heard it, calls the son of the
historical Croesus, is no other than _Attis_, brother and son and
spouse—the ambiguity is in the myth—of the Mountain Mother of Phrygia.
Atys, slain in hunting the boar, is Attis, who was a hunter, and
scarcely distinguishable from Adonis. The matter is explained at length
by Sir James Frazer in his _Attis, Adonis and Osiris._ The myth arose
out of the worship of the Asiatic goddess variously named by the Greeks
Kybelê, Kybêbê, Rhea, and other titles, though in reality a nameless
deity, a holy Mother and Bride wedded at the right season of the year
to her son, Attis, that its fruits might be renewed through the magic
of that ritual. There was a temple of “Kybelê” near Sardis—still stand
a column or two—where the Paktôlos rushes from its mountain gorge. That
helps to explain why a prince of Sardis has entered into her myth. It
is even possible that actual princes of Sardis, did anciently personate
once a year the consort of the great goddess of the region. This at
least accords with analogy, and best explains the origin of the story
in Herodotus. For the rest it is a Phrygian tale. Olympus, where the
fabled boar is hunted, was in Mysia, which was in Phrygia. Adrastos,
“He from whom there is no Escape,” is certainly connected with the
goddess Adrasteia, much worshipped in the Phrygian Troad. Above all
it was in Phrygia that the Mountain Mother was chiefly worshipped. In
spring the Phrygians fashioned an image of the young Attis, and mourned
over it with ritual dirges, recalling his doom. Thus gradually we may
dig down to the roots of the myth.

What we find there is a thing of horror. Nana, daughter of the River
Sangarios, saw an almond-tree, which had sprung from the blood of a son
of Kybelê, whom the gods in fear of his strength had mutilated. (Here
is the Hesiodic _motif_ again.) She conceived and bare a child, which
she exposed. At first the wild goats nurtured him; then shepherds of
the mountain. At last Attis was grown so beautiful that Agdistis (who
is but a form of Kybelê) loved him, and when he would not answer her
love, drove him mad, so that he fled to the hills and there under a
pine-tree unmanned himself. From his blood sprang violets to hang about
the tree.

But for the unexpected sweetness of wild violet and mountain pine at
the close, the story is curiously unlovely. But what really gives one a
shudder is the reflection that the story mirrors a fact. The priests of
Kybelê ... what I would say is that they behaved like Attis.

You would guess none of these things from Herodotus. What has happened
to the myth that it is transmuted to the exquisite and piteous tale he
has related? We can only say that it has suffered the Greek magic. The
Hellenic spirit, dreaming on the old dark fantasy, robs it a little of
its wild, outrageous beauty (which was to reappear later in the _Attis_
of Catullus), but keeps much of its natural magic, and by introducing
the figure of the father adds overwhelmingly to the dramatic value of
the story. Most of all it steeps the whole in a wonderful rightness
of emotion. The gift which has achieved this is, as I have hinted, a
dramatic gift; the magic is the same as that which pervades the Attic
Tragedy. So much is this the case that the Tale of Atys in Herodotus
reads like a Greek tragic drama in prose. The explanation is that
ancient Tragedy arose out of just such a ritual as that from which
sprang the Atys story. That story, so far as I know, was never made the
subject of an actual drama. It seems a pity. What a subject it would
have been for Euripides!

It seems to me a legitimate procedure, in an essay of this kind, to
indicate the affinity between the tale in Herodotus and the normal
structure and method of Attic Tragedy by treating the narrative
portions of the tale as so many stage-directions, and the dialogue as
we treat the dialogue in a play, assigning every speech to its proper
speaker. Let me only add that all the dialogue, and practically all of
the stage-directions, are literally translated.


[_The scene is Sardis in Lydia. It is a populous settlement of
reed-thatched houses clustering about a wonderful, sheer, enormous rock
crowned by the great walls of the Citadel. Over against it, to the
south, rises the neighbouring range of Tmôlos, whence issues the famous
little stream of the Paktôlos, which, emerging from a gorge, rolls its
gold-grained sand actually through the market-place of Sardis into
the Hermos. Some miles away, by the margin of a lake, appear the vast
grave-mounds of the Lydian kings. Within the Citadel is the ancestral
Palace of_ CROESUS. _Any one entering the palace would observe its
unwonted splendour—silver and gold and electrum everywhere. He would
also be struck by the circumstance that the walls of the great Hall are
bare of the swords and spears and quivers, which it was customary to
hang there. At present the weapons are piled in the women’s chambers._

CROESUS _is seen clad in a great purple-red mantle, and carrying a long
golden sceptre tipped with a little eagle in gold. He is surrounded by
his bodyguard of spearmen, who wear greaves and breastplates of bronze,
and helmets crested with the tails of horses._

_A_ STRANGER _in the peaked cap, embroidered dress, and tall boots of
a Phrygian noble enters with drawn sword, and with looks of haste and
horror. Seeing_ CROESUS, _he utters no word, but, running forward, sits
down by the central hearth of the house, strikes his sword into the
floor, and covers his face. By this proceeding he confesses at once
that he is a homicide, and that he desires absolution from his sin.
In silence also the_ KING _approaches and gazes on the man. Then he
goes through the elaborate and displeasing ritual of purification from
bloodshed, calling aloud on the God of Suppliants to sanctify the rite.
At last he is free to question the_ STRANGER.]

CROESUS. Man sitting at my hearth, who art thou and whence comest thou
out of Phrygia? What man or what woman hast thou slain?

STRANGER. O King, I am the son of Gordias the son of Midas, and my name
is Adrastos. Behold here one that by unhappiness hath slain his own
brother, and my father hath driven me out, and all hath been taken from

CROESUS. Now art thou among friends, for there is friendship between
our houses. Here wilt thou lack nothing, so long as thou abidest in my
house. Strive to forget thy mischance; that will be best for thee.

[_The man_ ADRASTOS _enters the Palace with_ CROESUS. _Meanwhile
arrive certain messengers. They are mountaineers, dressed in skins and
carrying staves hardened at the point by fire. They come from Mount
Olympus in Mysia._]

MYSIANS. Lord, a very mighty boar hath revealed himself in our land,
the which layeth waste our tillage, neither can we by any means slay
him. Now therefore we beseech thee, send thy son with us, and chosen
young men, and dogs, that we may destroy him out of the land.

CROESUS. As for my son, make ye no mention of him hereafter; I will not
send him with you; for he hath lately married a wife, and is occupied
with this. Yet will I send chosen men of the Lydians, and all the hunt,
and straitly charge them very zealously to aid you in destroying the
beast out of the land.

_[Enters now the young man_, ATYS, _the son of_ CROESUS. _He is
dressed much in the Greek fashion, but with such ornaments of gold and
embroidery of flowers upon him as beseem a prince of the House of the
Mermnadae. He has heard of the prayer of the_ MYSIANS, _and now pleads
with his father that he may be permitted to go with them._]

ATYS. Father, aforetime when I would be going to battle and the chase
and winning honour therein, that was brave and beautiful. But now hast
thou shut me out alike from war and from the hunt, albeit thou hast
not espied in me any cowardice or weakness of spirit. And now with
what countenance must I show myself either entering or departing from
the assembly of the people? What shall be deemed of me by the folk of
this city and my newly married wife? What manner of husband will she
suppose is hers? Therefore either suffer me to go upon this hunting, or
else persuade me that thy course is better.

CROESUS. O son, I do not this because I have espied cowardice or any
unlovely thing in thee at all. But the vision of a dream came to me in
sleep, and said that thy life was not for long; by an iron edge thou
wouldest perish. Therefore I was urgent for thy marrying, because I had
regard unto this vision, and therefore I will not send thee upon this
emprise, being careful if by any means I may steal thee from death,
while I am living. For thou art mine only son, not counting the other,
the dumb.

ATYS. I blame thee not, father, that having beheld such a vision
thou keepest ward over me. But what thou perceivest not neither
understandest the significance thereof in thy dream, meet is it that I
tell thee. Thou sayest that the dream told that I should be slain by
an iron edge. But a boar—what hands hath it, or what manner of iron
edge which thou fearest? Had the dream made mention of a tusk or the
like, needs must thou do as now thou doest; but it said an edge. Seeing
therefore that it is not against men that I go to fight, let me go.

CROESUS. My son, herein thou dost convince my judgement by thine
interpretation of the dream. Wherefore being thus persuaded by thee I
do now change my thought and suffer thee to go to the hunting.

[_The_ KING _now sends for_ ADRASTOS _and they speak as follows._]

CROESUS. Adrastos, when a foul mischance smote thee (I reproach thee
not therewith), I cleansed thee of thy sin, and received thee in my
house, and have furnished thee with abundance of all things. Now
therefore (for thou owest me a kindness) keep ward over my son that
goeth forth to the chase, lest evil thieves appear to your hurt.
Moreover for thyself also it is right that thou go where thou shalt
win glory by thy mighty deeds; for so did thy fathers before thee; and
moreover thou art a mighty man.

ADRASTOS. For another reason, O King, I would not have gone on such a
venture. For neither is it seemly, nor do I wish, that one so afflicted
mingle among his fortunate peers; yea, for manifold reasons I would
have refrained. But now, since thou art urgent thereto and I am bound
to perform thy pleasure—for I owe thee return of kindness—I am ready to
do this thing: thy son, whom thou straitly chargest me to guard, expect
thou to return home without hurt, so far as I am able to guard him.

_In this manner_, continues Herodotus, _did he then make answer to
Croesus. And after that they set forth with service of chosen young
men and of dogs. And when they had come to the mountain Olympus, they
began to quest for the beast; and having found him they stood round
about him, and cast their javelins at him. Then the stranger, the man
that had been purged of the stains of blood, even he that was named
Adrastos, cast his spear at the boar, and missed him, and smote the
son of Croesus instead. And he so smitten by the edge of the spear
fulfilled the saying of the nightly vision. But one ran to tell
Croesus that which had befallen; and when he was come to Sardis he
declared to him the manner of the fight and the slaying of his son.
And Croesus being mightily troubled by the death of the young man
complained the more vehemently for that he had been killed by that
very one whom he had purified of a manslaying. And in the passion
of his grief he cried aloud with a great and terrible voice on Zeus
of Purification, calling him to bear witness what recompense he had
received at the hands of the stranger; and he named him moreover God
of the Hearth and God of Companionship, naming him by the former name
because receiving the stranger into his house he had unwittingly given
meat and drink to the slayer of his child, and by the latter name
because having sent him with his son to guard him he now found him his
greatest enemy._

_And now the Lydians came bearing the dead body, and behind them
followed the slayer. And he standing before the dead yielded himself up
to Croesus, stretching forth his hands, bidding him slay him over the
body, making mention of his former calamity, and how now he had besides
brought destruction upon the man that had purified him, neither was it
meet that he should live. Croesus hearing has pity on Adrastos, albeit
in so great sorrow of his own, and says to him_: Guest, I have all I
may claim of thee, since thou dost adjudge thyself to death. Not thee I
blame for this ill, save as thou wert the unwilling doer thereof; nay
but some god methinks is the cause, who even aforetime showed me that
which should come to pass.

_Then did Croesus honourably bury his son. But Adrastos the son of
Gordias the son of Midas, even the man that had killed his own
brother, and had killed the son of him that washed away his offence,
after the people had left the tomb and there was silence, deeming in
his own heart that of all men that he knew himself was most calamitous,
slew himself upon the grave._




When Alexander the Great invaded India, that pupil of Aristotle
interested himself in questions to the Gymnosophists, or native
philosophers. To the eldest of these Gymnosophists (says Plutarch)
he addressed the following conundrum: _Which is older—the night or
the day?_ The ancient man promptly replied, _The day—by the length of
one day._ When Alexander demanded what he meant by such an answer,
the sage remarked that he always gave that sort of answer to people
who asked that kind of question. I think this must be one of the best
retorts ever made, but I have an uncomfortable feeling that it applies
rather exactly to the subject of this essay. The difference between
the Classical and the Romantic! It is indeed an apparently insoluble
problem. Nor can I imagine anything more disheartening or more inimical
to human happiness than blowing upon the embers of a half-extinct
controversy. That, it will be gathered, is not my intention. I merely
intend to let my discourse eddy about a familiar topic, in the hope
that some accretions may be washed away, and at least the true outline
of the subject revealed. We have been trying to build up an impression
of Hellenism as an _Agon_, or Struggle with Barbarism. The material
being so vast, it has been necessary to be somewhat meagrely selective
and illustrative, or else to fritter away the point in details. But the
most general survey would be incomplete, unless we attain some view of
how Greek literature, so much the most important witness left us of the
old Greek spirit, reflects the situation.

The suggestion I have to offer may be helpful or not. But it has two
qualities which should make it worth entertaining, if only for the
moment: it is easily understood, and it is easily tested. My suggestion
is that Classical art is an expression of Hellenism and Romantic art of
Barbarism, so far as Barbarism is capable of expression.

Here I feel the want of something beyond my own instinct in discerning
the Classical from the Romantic. To distinguish them is never perfectly
easy: in the greatest art it is thought to be impossible. In the end
one has to rely upon oneself, for nobody is pleased with a second-hand
or impersonal criticism. If you happen to care for literature, you
will not be content with discussions of it which do not help you to
realize the thing you love. As to the words “Classical” and “Romantic,”
they have become current coin with us, and yet they are coin without
fixed value. Thus when Mr. Shaw attacks the “Romance” which Stevenson
adored, it is clear that they cannot mean the same thing. What, then,
do they mean? It is very hard to find out. You may read that Romance
is the spirit of the Middle Ages, or the spirit of the German forest;
but you find yourself left to your own interpretation of Mediævalism
or Fairyland. As for the “Renaissance of Wonder”—that of course is just
beautiful nonsense.

The clearest words on the matter are Matthew Arnold’s. There is a kind
of justice in this, for Arnold’s criticism was perpetually engaged
in the issue between the Romantic and the Classical. Himself (as his
best poetry shows) a Romantic at heart, he stood in the middle of the
Romantic triumph pleading for the austerities of art. That alone proves
his genius for criticism. It also gives him a special right to be
heard. As I shall seem to be attacking Arnold, it will be better for me
to say now that with his general attitude and temper I am in intimate
sympathy. I am disposed to think that his statement of the Classical
case is the best that has yet been made. In some points I think it is
even too favourable; in others not favourable enough. That is all.

_The forest solitude_, he says in his book “On the Study of Celtic
Literature,” _the bubbling spring, the wild flowers, are everywhere in
romance. They have a mysterious life and grace there; they are nature’s
own children, and utter her secret in a way which makes them something
quite different from the woods, waters and plants of Greek and Latin
poetry. Now of this delicate magic, Celtic romance is so pre-eminent
a mistress that it seems impossible to believe the power did not come
into romance from the Celts. Magic is just the word for it—the magic of
nature; not merely the beauty of nature—that the Greeks and Latins had;
not merely an honest smack of the soil, a faithful realism—that the
Germans had; but the intimate life of nature, her weird power and her
fairy charm_. And on the way to this attribution and this denial he
distinguishes four modes of handling nature. _There is the conventional
way of handling nature, there is the faithful way of handling nature,
there is the Greek way of handling nature, there is the magical way of
handling nature. In all these three last the eye is on the object, but
with a difference; in the faithful way of handling nature, the eye is
on the object, and that is all you can say; in the Greek the eye is on
the object, but lightness and brightness are added; in the magical the
eye is on the object, but charm and magic are added._

One need not deny the value of these distinctions. But, admitting them,
must we confess that there is no “natural magic” in the Greeks? Of
your grace listen a little to Homer in prose. _As the numerous nations
of winged birds—wild geese or cranes or long-throated swans—in the
Asian Mead about the runnels of Kaÿster stream make little flights
and flights in the glory of their pinions, alighting with cries which
make the marish ring._ Is there no natural magic in that? Or in this?
_As when torrents running down a mountain into a cañon hurl together
their violent waters from large springs in a deep watercourse, and
the shepherd on far-off mountains hears their thunder?_ Or consider
this. _As when the glare of a blazing fire is seen by sailors out at
sea burning at some lonely shieling high up among the hills._ Again
we read: _They clomb Parnassus, steep forest-clad hill, and soon came
to the windy gullies. The sun was then smiting the fields with his
earliest rays out of the quiet, deep-running river of the world; and
the beaters came to the glade._ A last example: _As when Pandion’s
daughter, the greenwood nightingale, sings beautifully at the start of
spring, perched in a place of leafy trees, with running variable note
she sheds abroad her far-heard song, mourning the end of Itylus_. Is
there no magic in all this?

Still, it is uncritical to attempt to carry the critical judgment by
storm. You will of course admit the glory and intoxication of these
Homeric similes, but you may still feel that Arnold’s distinction is
not finally swept away by them. Something in the lines he quotes—Keats’s

  _Magic casements opening on the foam
  Of perilous seas in faery lands forlorn;_


            _On such a night
  Stood Dido with a willow in her hand
  Upon the wild sea-banks, and waved her love
  To come again to Carthage_——

something there may be felt to express a more personal or intimate
relation to nature than anything I have yet quoted from Homer. Shall I
then quote more to show that even this touch Homer has got? _He burned
him with his inlaid arms and heaped a grave-mound over him; and round
it the hill-nymphs planted elms._ Is not that final touch magical
enough? And surely there is intimacy here. _As when the great deep
glooms with silent swell, dimly foreboding the hurrying path of the
piping winds._ And the personal note, is it not audible here? _And now
in a rocky place of lonely hills, at Sipylos, where couch the nymphs
(men say) whose feet are swift on Acheloïos’ banks—there changed to
stone she broods upon the wrongs that gods have wrought her._ And here
are two passages of love, of love in a Romantic setting, if we mean
anything by that at all. _Under them the divine earth sent up sudden
grass and dewy lotus and crocus and hyacinth thick and soft, upbearing
them from the ground. Thereon they lay, folded in a beautiful golden
cloud that dropped a glimmer of dew._ That is the love of Zeus and
Hera. What follows tells of the desire of Poseidon for Tyro. _She
conceived a love of divine Enîpeus, fairest by far of rivers flowing
over the earth, and haunted the fair waters of Enîpeus. Therefore the
Earth-Embracer and Earth-Shaker made himself like Enîpeus and lay with
her at the outflowings of the eddying river; then a darkling wave rose
mountain-like about them and hung over them, hiding the god and the
mortal woman._ Does not this possess the magical touch?

It is in Homer everywhere. In all his dealings with nature he adds to
his words not merely lightness and brightness, but something magical
as well. If he does not do it, no poet does. Why, Homer’s very “fixed
epithets” are surcharged with magic. Think of his epithets for the dawn
alone—κροκόπεπλος, _saffron-robed_; χρυσόθρονος, _golden-throned_;
ῥοδοδάκτυλος, _rose-fingered_—the Romantic poets have always envied
them. It is impossible to deny the magical, Romantic quality to Homer,
unless you make an admission with which I shall deal in a moment. And
Homer is not alone among Greek poets in the possession of “natural
magic”; one might almost say all the great Greek poets have it.
Almost the loveliest words that Sappho has left us are little broken
fragments of description as imaginatively touched as anything in Keats
or Coleridge. Such are the fragments translated by Rossetti, and the
fragment of the sleepless woman crying to the stars for her lover.
There are the few lines of Alcman, comparing him to “the sea-blue
bird of spring,” which are enough to put him not too far from Sappho
and Coleridge themselves. And Aeschylus in _Prometheus Bound,_ and
Euripides in the _Bacchae_—have they got no feeling for Romantic
nature? Then there is Pindar. Why, Pindar has almost more of it than
any one. Remember the strange splendour like a windy sunset of the
great _Fourth Pythian_ ode, telling of Jason in marvellous lands.
Repeat a line or two: _Coming to the margin of the whitening sea, alone
in the dark he called aloud upon the roaring Master of the Trident; and
he appeared to him anigh at his foot._ Or take this of the new-born
Iamos, whom his mother Euadne “exposed”: _But he was hidden in the rush
and the boundless brake, his delicate body splashed with the yellow and
deep purple glory of pansies_. Is there “natural magic” there, or is
there not?

Two things, perhaps, misled Arnold, both of them just and true. The
first was the feeling of a radical difference somewhere between
Classical and Romantic art. The second was the insignificance in Greek
literature of magic pure and simple, the magic of fairies and witches.
Greek literature deals sparingly in this sort of magic, while it is
part of the stock-in-trade of Romance. It looks as if Arnold were
unconsciously arguing that the Romantic passion for magic professed
ought somehow to make itself felt in descriptions of nature, while the
Greek dislike of magic would disable the Classical poet from seeing
her with the enchanted eyes of the Celt. Now there is an element of
truth in this, though not, I think, a very important element. It may
be suggested that in all true poetry, whether Classical or Romantic,
Greek or Celtic, mere vulgar magic is transmuted into that infinitely
finer and lovelier thing which Arnold, in claiming it for Keats and
Shakespeare, calls “natural magic”; which may be more abundant in
Romantic poetry, but is present just the same in Homer and Pindar.

One is led to this conjecture about the train of Arnold’s thought when
one reads the quotations he has selected to illustrate the special
appeal of Celtic Romance. They mainly come from the _Mabinogion_ in
Lady Charlotte Guest’s translation. Although it seems a pity that
Arnold must draw his shafts from one quiver, and that not his own,
still the _Mabinogion_ is beautiful enough, and the translation so
readable, that it is not clear where he could have found, for people
who have no Welsh or Irish, better illustrations. He quotes the words
of Math to Gwydion when Gwydion wished a wife for his pupil. _“Well,”
says Math, “we will seek, I and thou, by charms and illusions, to form
a wife for him out of flowers.” So they took the blossoms of the oak,
and the blossoms of the broom, and the blossoms of the meadow-sweet,
and produced from them a maiden, the fairest and most graceful that
man ever saw. And they baptized her, and gave her the name of Flower
Aspect._ It is a famous passage since Arnold quoted it; and if we are
to have magic, let it always be as beautiful as this; for I am far from
denying the beauty of many a magical rite. But magic you see it is,
magic palpable and practical—not the magic of

  _And beauty born of murmuring sound
  Shall pass into her face;_

which is the true poetical magic and something yet more attractive.

Arnold immediately proceeds from this to a passage in which the Celtic
writer describes the dropping of blood as _faster than the fall of the
dewdrop from the blade of reed-grass upon the earth, when the dew of
June is at the heaviest._ Well, Homer says, _Gladness fell upon his
spirit like dew upon the ears of ripening corn when there is a rustling
in the fields._ The Celtic passage is the more exquisite, at any rate
than Homer in my prose. But between these two passages who would say
that there is an essential difference? It is not maintained that Homer
writes in this manner as often as a Romantic poet; and that is a
difference worth remarking. But I do assert that he can write so when
he likes, and as well as any.

Now what if this finer poetic magic is really a subtilization of the
crude appeal of practical magic? Something like this Arnold almost
suggests. What if Homer’s and Keats’s magic entrances us in part
because somewhere in us sleeps a memory of miracles wrought in days
when every rock and tree and river was alive with supernatural force?
There is nothing fantastic in such a speculation. If we entertain it,
we may find it illuminating the whole field of this discussion. At
once we recall the almost incredibly vast and almost wildly “Romantic”
mythology of Greece, the material and the inspiration of Greek poetry
as it was the material and inspiration of Keats. Now the genuine
mythology of Hellas first gathered shape in an age which believed in
obvious magic, in the transformation of men and women into birds and
beasts and trees and flowers, and in the living holiness of natural
objects. Its origin is not explicable on any other hypothesis. We
have therefore to consider how it happened that Greek poetry, born (we
must believe) in an atmosphere as redolent of magic as this mythology
implies, came to divest itself of vulgar magic and “Celtic vagueness,”
till it came to appear to a critic like Arnold devoid also of the touch
which he thinks exclusively characteristic of Romance.

It happened, no doubt, as part of that whole reaction to Barbarism
which we call Hellenism. For magic is barbaric. The peoples all
about Hellas believed in it of course, and had magicians practising
it. In Greece itself the belief in magic lingered throughout Greek
history, lingered that is to say in secluded places and among the
many unenlightened. We hear of _Epôdoi_, “Charmers”; of _Goêtes_,
“Groaners”; of _Baskanoi_, who had the evil eye—three varieties of
wizard. There are echoes of a popular credence in the magical to be
heard even in Greek literature, that disdainful and fastidious thing.
In Homer we read that the wound received by Odysseus from the boar of
Parnassus was closed by repeating an incantation over it. There is a
good deal of white magic in the _Works and Days_ of Hesiod. Nearly
half of Aeschylus’ _Choêphoroi_ consists in an invocation or evocation
of the ghost of dead Agamemnon. And so on. In later Hellenistic times
there existed a great body of magical writings, born of the contact
between Greek civilization and Oriental superstition. There must have
been a public for this stuff. Professional miracle-workers were not
uncommon, and some of them won a resounding popularity. The book of
Pausanias, who wrote down what he heard and saw in the greater part of
Greece at the beginning of the second Christian century is strongly
and—to you and me—pleasantly redolent of immemorial customs and beliefs
among the peasantry. Many of these are plainly magical in their nature
or their origin. The priests of Lykaian Zeus, he tells us, used to
bring rain by dipping a branch in a certain stream and shaking it,
sprinkling waterdrops. That, of course, was sheer magic—“making rain”
as an African medicineman would say. A custom of this sort, which has
become a ritual, may be kept up after people have ceased quite to
believe in the doctrine which it assumes as true. That, however, does
not touch the historical significance of the custom, which must have
arisen among people who believed in magic. Besides, the peasants in
Pausanias’ day were clearly very superstitious. His book is the proof
of that. To suppose that in this respect they differed widely from
their ancestors is to suppose something which common sense cries out
against, and what evidence there is refutes.

Hellenism, then, the flower of the Greek spirit, grew in a soil
impregnated with superstition, or, if you do not care for that word,
with a religion containing many elements of magic. Every modern
student of the subject, I fancy, admits that, although some scholars
make more of the magical elements, some less. What no one can deny
is that Hellenism tends to reject magic, and tries to expel it from
human life. Magic was barbaric, and Hellenism was in reaction against
Barbarism. Very likely the reaction went too far; reactions usually
do. Very likely something too much was sacrificed to “Greek sanity.”
But it would be strange ingratitude on our part to forget that it
was this very urgency for the sane, for the rational, which ensured
that our civilization was founded on hard realistic thinking, and
not on a mere drift of emotionality. The task of thinking things out
to their end, even to their bitter end, which was so characteristic
of the Greeks, peculiarly fitted them for their task of laying
intellectual foundations. It is not an English characteristic, and
for that reason we are the more indebted to them. But scarcely less
unjust would it be to suppose that the Greeks sacrificed everything to
the rational. Nothing of the sort. They felt the charm to which the
Celtic imagination yielded itself so utterly. But out of magic could
not be built, they thought, any helpful philosophy or sound method of
art. So their literature, when it deals with this matter and deals
with it at its best, consciously or instinctively aims at drawing from
it its full value for the imagination without for a moment permitting
it to subdue the judgment. Any one reading in turn Mr. Yeats’s _The
Shadowy Waters_ and that part of the _Odyssey_ which deals with the
adventures of Odysseus in magic-haunted lands will see what I mean.
Yeats’s hero yields himself to the charm; Odysseus fights against it.
Which is the wiser is a question I leave to you. But here we have, in
an illustration that is almost an epigram, the difference between the
Celtic or extreme Romantic temper and the Hellenic temper. The Celt
hears the Sirens and follows them; the Greek hears them and unwillingly
sails past.

Or you may say: the Celtic gift is vision, the Hellenic gift is light.

Observe Homer’s dealings with magic. He often finds himself in its
presence, and he deals with it in various ways. He leaves it out, he
veils it, he transforms it. I am unable to see on what real grounds
we can follow one of the most eminent of English scholars in Homer in
dividing off the rest of the Homeric poems from those books of the
_Odyssey_ which tell of Odysseus’ wanderings in unknown lands and
seas. When does magic cease to be magic? Is it magic when Circe in the
Odyssean fairyland changes men into swine, and not magic when Athena in
Ithaca changes Odysseus into a beggar and herself into a bird? However,
what Dr. Leaf has in mind is rather a difference which he feels in the
whole atmosphere of these fairyland books, which the ancients knew
by the title of the _Narrative to Alkinoos_, from the rest of the
_Odyssey_ and from the _Iliad_. The _Narrative_, he thinks, moves in
places which it is hopeless to look for in the map. The geography of
the rest is really to be found on the map, if you only know where to
look for it. I might agree with this and yet hold (as I should) that
the geographical point is deceptive. Odysseus does pass out of known
into unknown lands, but he does not pass out of one atmosphere into
another. There are more miracles and magic in the _Narrative_ than in
the rest of Homer, but the treatment of them is the same. Or, to put it
somewhat differently, Phaeakia is just as real to me as Troy or Ithaca.
And I fancy it was just as real to Homer.

After all, there is really very little overt magic in the _Narrative_,
even if we include the wonder-working of the goddess Circe and
other divine beings, who might be said to perform miracles rather
than practise witchcraft. Of this wonder-working observe how
little is made: just as little as possible. The transformation and
retransformation of Odysseus’ companions is told in a line or two.
Think what the _Kalevala_ or the _Arabian Nights_ would have made
of it. The whole necromantic business of the Descent to Hades in
the eleventh book of the _Odyssey_ is transacted in a few formal,
ritualistic phrases. Originally all that matter must have been steeped
in magic. It is the same with Homer’s treatment of the monstrous.
The Homeric spirit objects to monsters; and so you never notice,
unless you look closely at the text, what horrible creatures the
Sirens were. Scylla and Charybdis are not fully described; much is
left to the reader’s imagination. The Cyclops, it must be allowed, is
different. Homer, you see, _had_ to make him eat Odysseus’ men and
_had_ to put his eye out; the story would not tell otherwise. But
somehow the passage is not so ghastly as one would expect. It is full
of remorseless description—the Cyclops vomits “wine and bits of human
flesh”—and yet despite such “realism” the poet contrives to enfold
our spirits in an air of enchantment—the true poetical enchantment—in
which all things are at once vivid and remote, like a dream freshly

Homer of course is a problem, about which it is very hard to say
anything that pleases everybody. There are on the one side scholars
who think that our _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ are only the final versions
of two traditional poems, which were handled by many poets through
a long succession of years. On the other side are those who believe
that the two poems are entirely, or substantially, the work of a
single early poet, who rose so far above his predecessors as to
owe little or nothing to them. This makes it difficult to argue a
point in Homer with any general acceptance. But no student now seems
to deny that Homer—whether we give the name to the one exceptional
early poet or (tentatively) to the last of all those who worked on
the poems—inherited something of his material. He did not invent the
history of Troy, and he had to deal with it as he found it. Now all
this traditional matter—for the matter is traditional whether the
_Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ themselves are traditional poems or not—must
to all appearance have been saturated in the magical. That is the
normal condition of the stuff in which poetry, so far as we can see,
everywhere takes its rise. Besides, the mythology of Greece, which
it is fair to call the stuff of Greek poetry, is full of magic. The
inference is that Homer and the Greek poets in general till the end
of the “Classical” period sought to work out of their matter all that
savoured of the magical.

I think it was Andrew Lang who first pointed out that Homer clearly
avoids telling stories which are “morally objectionable.” Still more
certainly we discover that stories which are quite inoffensive in Homer
are excessively “objectionable” in other writers. What is the meaning
of this? Is it that later generations defiled the golden innocence of
Homeric days in their baser imaginations, or that Homer knew the other,
more savage and ancient-seeming versions, and would not recount them?
For my part I think Homer knew! And I think he knew about the magic
also. There are constant transformations, particularly in the _Iliad_,
of gods into human and animal forms. Is that magic or is it not?
Surely it is all of a piece with the “shape-shiftings” of wizards, so
common in all mythologies; and these are admitted magic. But in the
first place these transformations, as we remarked, are treated with a
light and veiling hand, and secondly they are confined to the gods.
What Homer allows to them he will not allow to mortals. He or his
predecessors have erected the distinction between gods and men which
forms one of the bases of Greek religion. Nay, you can trace in him, I
believe, the beginnings of something more—a reluctance to speak even of
the gods as performing these metamorphoses into brutish form. As a rule
the Greeks did not mind such tales, or even clung to them from motives
which can only be described as “Romantic.” But Homer perhaps softens
them down a good deal, and scarcely deserves the censure of Plato, who
denounces them who would make a wizard of God. The metamorphoses in
Homer are singularly unobtrusive. But why are they there at all? The
answer must surely be because they were in the story and could not be
left out altogether.

Am I forgetting that Homer was a poet and not a moralist? I think not.
I might, with a show of reason, reply that the early Greek poet _was_
a moralist, his aim (as Aristophanes puts it) “to make men better
in their cities.” But I prefer to say that Homer’s objection to the
monstrous and the grossly magical is really an æsthetic one. Other
considerations come in as well, but the æsthetic consideration is
found to be in the long run predominant. I once pointed out that many
of the similes in Homer turn out, on closer examination, to involve
an actual metamorphosis. An actual transformation—say of Athena into
a shooting-star—imperceptibly passes into a mere comparison. This is
one device for reducing the magical element. But there are others.
_So spake she_, says the poet of Helen, when she wondered why her
brethren were not to be descried among the Greek host before Troy.
_So spake she, but them the life-breathing earth was now holding
fast in Lacedaemon, there, in their own native land._ φυσίζοος αἶα,
“life-breathing earth,” as unhappy translators must say, derives half
its poetical value as Ruskin saw (in this case at least justly enough)
from the ancient belief, very strong in old Greece, that Earth was
physically the mother of all life, the dear mother of gods and men.
Again, who cannot see the passage before his eyes of physical into
poetical magic in the lines where Zeus mourns the coming doom of his
son Sarpedon? _“When soul and life have left him, send Death and sweet
Sleep to carry him until they come to the land of broad Lycia, where
his brethren and his kin will make an abiding barrow and pillar for
him; for thus we honour the dead.” So Hera spake, and the Father of
Gods and men obeyed her counsel; and he let fall blood-drops on the
ground, honouring his son, that Patroklos was fated to slay in fruitful
Troyland far from his native land._ What is Romantic poetry if this
is not? And you see how it is produced? By a veiling of the crudely

It is impossible to resist a little more quotation. _Father_, cries
Telemachus to Odysseus, _verily a great marvel is this that I behold
with mine eyes. Truly, the walls of the chambers, and the fair bases
of the pillars, and the roof-beams of fir, and the columns that hold
all on high are shining to my sight as if from flaming fire. Doubtless
some god is in the house!_ It is in just such a light that we see all
the Homeric world. It is not the witch’s firelight, but it is the light
in which the true poetical magic works. _Unhappy, what curse hath come
upon you? In darkness your heads are rolled, and your faces, and your
knees beneath you; a moan is enkindled, and cheeks are wet, and blood
is on the walls and fair pedestals; ghosts in the doorway, ghosts in
the courtyard of them that hasten to the dark world below; the sun hath
perished out of heaven, and an evil mist is over you!_ So cries in the
_Odyssey_ the man with second sight. Is it not all very “Celtic”?

In the ancient _Hymn to Demeter_ Persephone is described as _playing
with the deep-bosomed daughters of Ocean and culling flowers—rose and
crocus and violet over the soft meadow, and iris and hyacinth and
narcissus, which, by the will of Zeus, Earth, favouring Him of the Many
Guests, sent up to snare the flower-faced maiden a glittering marvel
for all to see with wondering eyes, both gods immortal and mortal
men:—from the one root an hundred heads of blossom; very sweet the
fragrance of that flower, and the delight of it made laugh wide heaven
above, and all the earth, and the salt and surging waters._

If this be not “natural magic,” where shall we find it? And is there
not something exquisite in the sense or tact which tells the Greek when
to stop before the magic becomes too crude or obvious? The Greek poet
knows when to stop, the Romantic not always. Here, in another of the
_Hymns_, the _Hymn to Dionysus_ (VII), is the frank description of a
miracle. _But soon marvellous things were shown among them. First, over
the swift black ship sweet, odorous wine was plashing, and a divine
perfume arose; and amaze took hold of all the gazing mariners. Anon,
along the topmost edge of the sail a vine laid out its tendrils here
and there; thick hung the clusters; and round the mast dark ivy twined,
deep in flowers and pleasant with berries, and all the thole-pins were
garlanded._ For sheer loveliness of fancy it would not be easy to beat
that. And how great an effect is gained by temperance! A little more
detail and the charm would be dissolved—the ship would be too like
a Christmas tree. It is in such wise economies that Greek art is so
great. It is just in them that the Romantic is apt to fail. Therein he
bewrays his Barbarism.

I will no longer doubt that the reader (who probably did not require
the demonstration) is convinced that Greek poetry occasionally attains
those very effects of “natural magic” which Arnold denied it. What has
happened is merely this: Greek poetry has carried farther than any
other a process of refining out some elements in the crude material in
which it began. That it may have lost in the process a certain amount
of the purest gold I am not denying. I am not pleading the cause of
Greek poetry, I am trying to understand it. It is thought by scholars
that poetry has everywhere been developed out of a kind of song or
chorus, which (to put it gently) is very often magical in character.
One at last gets things like some of the Russian folk-songs or the
Finnish lays which Lönnrot collected to form the _Kalevala_. It is
a pity the _Kalevala_ has not found an adequate English translator.
One may honestly wish that Longfellow had translated it instead of
giving us _Hiawatha,_ which is a somewhat close imitation. One may
delight in _Hiawatha_, but one can see in the baldest translation
(as it were with half an eye) that _Kalevala_ is fifty times better.
If you want magic, and very delightful magic, go there! It seems to
me, remembering, that all the chief characters in the _Kalevala_
are sorcerers. In the very first lay you are lost in the forest of
enchantment, and you never get out of it. The _Kalevala_ is not the
highest kind of poetry of course; it is (as Mrs. Barbauld complained of
_The Ancient Mariner_) too “improbable” for that. But it pleases our
taste because it is so desperately “Romantic.”—But you are not going to
say that it is as good as the _Odyssey_?

The truth, of course, is that poetry like the _Odyssey_ and the _Iliad_
and the _Agamemnon_, just as much as _The Divine Comedy_ and _Hamlet_,
gets beyond these distinctions of Romantic and Classical. I daresay
there is as much, in proportion, of this kind of poetry in Greek as
even in our own literature. At any rate, there seems to be no doubt
that the greatest poetry is not written except on Greek principles.
There must be that “fundamental brain-work,” as Rossetti called it,
which is the characteristic Greek contribution to art. You may put a
less rigid interpretation upon the Hellenic maxims, you may apply them
in ever so many new fields, but the essence of them you must keep. The
Barbarian may be picturesque enough, but he is not an artist: he loses
his head.

It would be enormously interesting to consider how a passage like this—

  _I was but seven year auld,
    When my mither she did dee:
  My father married the ae warst woman
    The warld did ever see._

  _For she changed me to the laily worm,
    That lies at the fit o’ the tree,
  And my sister Masery
    To the machrel of the sea._

  _And every Saturday at noon
    The machrel comes to me,
  An’ she takes my laily head
    An’ lays it on her knee,
  And kames it wi’ a siller kame,
    And washes it i’ the sea_—

which is pure magic, such as you might find in the _Kalevala_, is
transformed into a passage like

  _“O haud your tongue o’ weeping,” he says,
    “Let a’ your follies a-bee;
  I’ll show you where the white lilies grow
    On the banks o’ Italie”_—

which is Romantic poetry at its best—or into

  _Now Johnnie’s gude bend-bow is broke,
    And his gude gray dogs are slain;
  And his body lies dead in Durrisdeer;
    And his hunting it is done_—

which is the Classical style very nearly at its best. But an essay must
end after a reasonable time. Besides there is something else I want to
say about the Classical and the Romantic.


Arnold expressed the difference between the Greek and the Celtic
or Romantic spirit by the word _Titanism_. That is a very happy
expression, happier even than Arnold knew, unless he knew what we said
about the Titans. For Titanism is just Barbarism in heroic proportions.
It is the spirit of the Old Kings—the “Strainers,” as Hesiod,
etymologizing, calls them—who failed because they would not discipline
their strength. With some of Arnold’s language about the Celtic
character, and the “failure” in practical affairs of the Celtic race,
it is unnecessary now for any one to concern himself, for no one now
uses that kind of language. Even if it were justified it would scarcely
be relevant, since success in literature depends (as of course Arnold
saw) on qualities quite other than those which may be relied upon to
give us success in life. It is the Titanism of the Celt, says Arnold,
which makes him a failure in the world of affairs, but in compensation
gives him the gift of style. We need not accept that way of putting the
matter, but I do not think we can fairly deny either the style or the

The Greeks had their measure of Titanism also, and very certainly their
measure of style. Arnold quotes from Henri Martin a description of
the Celt as _always ready to react against the despotism of fact_.
Whereupon the Greek student instantly remembers that this is just what
Cleon said about the Athenians. He will also remember that a Corinthian
politician said that they seemed to him to be _born neither to be
quiet themselves nor to let other people be quiet_. Any one who fails
to notice the unappeasable restlessness of the Greek temperament will
miss a great piece of its quality. It comes out in the Greek attitude
to Hope, which set ancient hearts beating with a violence which
frightened them and extremely surprises us. It comes out in the popular
conception of Alexander the Great as one marching on and on in a dream
of never-ending victories. It comes out in spite of Arnold. He quotes
from Byron:

  _Count o’er the joys thine hours have seen,
  Count o’er thy days from anguish free,
  And know, whatever thou hast been,
  ’Tis something better not to be._

He thinks this characteristically Celtic. So perhaps it is. But it is
characteristically Greek too. It is a commonplace of Greek poetry. Then
he quotes:

            _What though the field be lost,
  All is not lost, the unconquerable will,
  And study of revenge, immortal hate,
  And courage never to submit or yield,
  Or what is else not to be overcome._

This also he calls Celtic, although he knew his _Prometheus Bound_, and
might have reflected that Milton knew it too. At last Arnold flings up
his case, and describes a passage quoted to support his antithesis as,
up to a certain point, “Greek in its clear beauty”; and when he wishes
to find a name for the Celtic “intoxication of style” goes to a Greek
poet for his word and comes back with _Pindarism_.

That shows how impossible it is to press these critical distinctions.
Still one sees what Arnold is driving at, and one may go with him
most of the way. It is quite true that Celtic literature is full of
Titanism. But it is an error to say that Titanism is strange to Greek
art. There is far more of it in Celtic, and in Romantic literature
generally, than in classical literature, and this does produce a
striking difference between them. But it is only a difference of method
and emphasis. Titanism appeals to the Romantic, and he gives himself up
to it. The Greek feels the attraction too, but he fights against it,
and over Titanism he puts something which he thinks is better.

Thus it is part of the Romantic mood to love a strange and hyperbolical
speech. We see the Romantic poet or his hero like a man increased to
superhuman proportions and making enormous gestures in a mist. This
effect is not beyond the reach of any true poet, and it has been
achieved by Aeschylus better perhaps than by any one before or since.
We must return to this point. Here we need only remark that the Greeks
could manage the poetical hyperbole when they pleased. But it is only
the Romantic, or if you like the Celtic poets, who never tire of it.
Again, it is a mistake to believe that there is no symbolism in ancient
literature. But what there is differs greatly from modern “Symbolism.”
Our “Symbolism” employs certain accepted symbols, which allusively
and discreetly recombining it sets the spirit dreaming. Ancient art
kept its symbols—I do not know if the word be not misapplied—separate
and definite. But it had them. The background of the _Agamemnon_, for
instance, is crowded with symbols. It is all lit up by triumphal and
ruinous fires with (passing unscathed through it all) the phantasmal
beauty of Helen; while students of metre have observed that the heart
of the verse beats faster and slower as she comes and goes. This
symbolical use of fire, and Helen’s form, of dreams and tempest and
purple and much else, is profoundly and intricately studied in the
play. But it is not like modern Symbolism, which is often content
to gaze ecstatically on the symbol itself, instead of using it
dramatically to flood a situation with the light that is hidden in the
heart of Time.

So all these differences resolve themselves into a change of attitude,
which nevertheless is no small matter. Though not the foundations of
life itself, yet man’s reading of life changes; and it is just the
play of this inconstant factor upon the fixed bases of the soul which
produces that creative ferment from which all art is born.

This may be seen in one matter of peculiar interest in the history of
art—the passion of love. One constantly finds it said that Romantic
love is a purely mediæval and modern thing. Those who make this
statement might reflect that so profound and intimate an emotion is not
likely to have been discovered so late in the human story. And it was
not. Since there is perhaps a good deal of vagueness in our notions of
what Romantic love is, let us take it here to mean the passion whose
creed is, in Dryden’s phrase, _All for Love and the World well Lost_.
Was such a passion unknown in antiquity? Was not that very phrase of
_All for Love_ used of the Greek Cleopatra, who is one of the world’s
famous lovers? Did not Medea leave all for love’s sake, and Orpheus,
and the shepherd Daphnis, whose legend is the more significant because
it appears to be pure folk-story? Have not all poets of Romantic love
turned instinctively to Greek mythology as the inexhaustible quarry
of their lore? That they treat the myths in their own way is not to
be denied. But they would not turn to them at all if they felt that
those stories had been moulded by an alien spirit. Then, so far as
one can judge from the haplessly scanty fragments of Greek lyrical
poetry, the Romantic spirit was strong in that. Sappho and the fine
poet Ibykos were wholly given over and enslaved to love; and the great
and bitter heart of Archilochus hardly escaped from it with curses. In
the Alexandrian era it flowers in poetry anew. One might take perhaps
as typical of the extreme Romantic mood the considerable fragment left
us of Hermesianax. It is little more than a numbering of famous lovers
for pure delight in their names. There is a trifle of childishness
in the piece, and a trifle of artificiality, yet it is not without a
haunting loveliness like that which clings to the _Catalogue of the
Women_ in Homer. It is no accidental kinship. An underground river has
burst up again. One finds it flowing unchecked in the _Argonautika_ of

You may have noticed that none of my examples was taken from the
greatest period of Greek literature, the Attic age. That also is no
accident. For it is then that the hostile spirit most effectively
comes in. The capacity for Romantic love was not at any time denied to
the Greek nature. But what happened was this: the great age applied,
as to the other passions, so to love, its doctrine of _Sophrosyne_.
What was the result? Love became terrible and to be shunned in exact
proportion to its power over the soul. And on the Greek soul love had
great power; no one ought to be mistaken about that. _Of old He has
been called a tyrant_, says Plato of Eros. It is a famous saying of
Plato again that love is a form of madness. Sophocles, we remember,
compared it to a wild beast. Such language is habitual with the Attic
poets. (It is used, for example, by both Sophocles and Euripides in
the famous odes invoking Eros, the one in _Antigone_, the other in
_Hippolytus_.) It is not at all the language of Romance; it does not
say _All for Love_. Indeed when we consider it more closely, we find
that it means the exact opposite of what the extreme Romantic means.
The Greek means that he has conquered, the Romantic that he has
surrendered. There is, to be sure, in the Romantic theory, examined in
cold blood, a certain amount of bravado. A great imaginative passion is
rare enough to be more than a nine days’ wonder. Such an objection has
no weight in the world of art, but it is extremely in point when we are
contrasting the actual conditions of ancient and modern life. It will
turn out in the long run that in ancient Greece men felt love as much
as we, but felt about it differently. They were for self-mastery, we
for ecstasy. They were Greeks, and we are Barbarians.

They were also, one may believe, in this the truer artists. There is
nothing more characteristic of the artist than his capacity to bind
his emotions to the service of his art.

  _To be in a passion you good may do,
  But no good if a passion is in you_

is his thought. The man who said that said also _The tigers of wrath
are wiser than the horses of instruction_. The two sentiments are
in fact not incompatible, but it takes an artist to reconcile them.
The poor plain modern man always divines something immoral in this
attitude. As to that, it is easiest to reply that it all depends. But
surely the Greek is the only sound artistic doctrine. No one will write
very well who cannot control his inspiration. A platitude no doubt, but
a platitude which in these days seems very easily forgotten. The mere
emotion is not enough. Tannhäuser has suggested great poetry; he could
not have written any, for that would have required moral energy.

It might be thought a subterfuge to leave this topic without a word
on a matter which cannot be ignored. I believe a very few words will
suffice. But it is as well to make clear a point which has not been
observed by those who claim the Greek example as a confirmation
of their view that all experiences are permissible to the artist.
The point is this. It was not in the artistic portion of the Greek
people that the kind of sexual perversity, so often indiscriminately
attributed to the Hellenes in general, was most widely prevalent.
It was chiefly a Dorian vice, fostered by the Dorian camp-life,
though I dare say it was to some extent endemic in the Near East. The
Ionians (including the Athenians), who inherited nine-tenths of the
Hellenic genius, unhesitatingly condemned such practices, even if they
themselves were somewhat infected by them. Athenian bourgeois morality
was quite sound on that point, as you may see by merely reading
Aristophanes. His attitude is really remarkable, and, so far as we can
see, there is only one possible explanation: the Athenian people would
not tolerate the Dorian sin upon the stage. Yet you know what they did
tolerate, and what the comic tradition tolerated. It would take a lot
to stop Aristophanes.

Another point may be put in the form of a question. How, on the
assumption of Greek perversity, are we to account for the exceptional
sanity of Greek thought and sentiment? It does not seem humanly
possible that a pathological condition of the body should not result
in a morbid state of the mind. Yet I never could hear of anybody who
called the Greeks morbid. It is to be surmised that certain passages in
Plato have been the chief source of the misconception, or exaggerated
impression, which is still perhaps too prevalent. Now with regard to
what is called Platonic Love, there are two things which ought not to
be forgotten. One is this. The young men with whom Socrates used to
talk—who were not, you know, in any proper sense, his disciples—were
apt to be members of a tiny minority, among what we should call the
upper classes at Athens, who professed what strikes us as a very
unnecessary “philolaconism” or cult of things Spartan. Some of these
young people certainly practised or trifled with the Dorian offence,
and Socrates was willing to discuss the matter with them. He was
the more willing to do this because he held a very definite view
himself. He condemned the fleshly sin outright, though not perhaps
uncompromisingly. But he attached the very highest value to the
association of friends, an older and a younger, and he wished this
comradeship to be intense enough to merit the name of love. This leads
to the second point. You must judge ancient love—I mean this love of
man and boy—by its ideal, as you insist on judging Romantic love. So
judged, it often appears a fine and noble thing. That it sometimes sank
in the mire is no more than can be said of modern love. Do not, at any
rate, let us be hypocritical.

It is time to recover the thread of our original argument, which was to
this effect, that the contrast of Hellenism and Barbarism appears in
literature as the contrast of Classical and Romantic. Just as Hellene
and Barbarian are correlative terms, so you cannot understand Classical
art without reference to Romance, nor Romantic art in isolation from
the Classics. But again, just as Greek and Barbarian are equally
human, so Classical and Romantic art are alike art. The difference
in the end is a difference of degree or (in another way of putting
it) of tendencies. The great vice of the Barbarian is that he has no
self-restraint. There cannot be art of any kind without restraint, and
the Barbarian _pur sang_, if he exist, must be incapable of art. But it
is not he we are discussing; it is the artistic expression of Barbarism
which we call Romance. Now observe how clearly, within the limits
imposed by art, Romance reveals the bias of the Barbarian temperament.
In literature it comes out in the form of hyperbole or artistic
exaggeration. It will not be denied that Romance indulges a good deal
in that. The Greeks fought shy of it. To deal largely in it was likely
to bring upon the writer the epithet of ψυχρός, “frigid”—a curious
charge to us, who are inclined to look upon exaggeration as natural to
a fiery spirit. They thought it the mere spluttering of a weak nature,
which could not master and direct its inward flame.

Yet the Romantic exaggeration can be very fine. I agree with Arnold in
liking a good deal a passage which he quotes in an abridged form from
the _Mabinogion_. _Search is made for Mabon, the son of Modron, who
was taken when three nights old from between his mother and the wall.
The seekers go first to the Ousel of Cilgwri; the Ousel had lived long
enough to peck a smith’s anvil down to the size of a nut, but he had
never heard of Mabon. “But there is a race of animals who were formed
before me, and I will be your guide to them.” So the Ousel guides them
to the Stag of Redynvre. The Stag has seen an oak sapling, in the wood
where he lived, grow up to be an oak with a hundred branches, and then
slowly decay down to a withered stump, yet he had never heard of Mabon.
“But I will be your guide to the place where there is an animal which
was formed before I was”; and he guides them to the Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd.
“When first I came hither,” says the Owl, “the wide valley you see
was a wooded glen. And a race of men came and rooted it up. And there
grew a second wood; and this wood is the third. My wings, are they not
withered stumps?” Yet the Owl, in spite of his great age, had never
heard of Mabon, but he offered to be guide “to where is the oldest
animal in the world, and the one that has travelled most, the Eagle of
Gwern Abbey.” The Eagle was so old, that a rock, from the top of which
he pecked at the stars every evening, was now not so much as a span

The popular belief in the great age of certain animals appears in many
lands, and appeared in ancient Greece. It is expressed in an old poem,
attributed to Hesiod, called _The Precepts of Chiron_. _Nine lives of
men grown old lives the cawing crow; four lives of a crow lives the
stag; the raven sees the old age of three stags; but the phoenix lives
as long as nine ravens, as long as ten phoenixes we, the Nymphs with
beautiful hair, daughters of ægis-bearing Zeus._ Compared with the
Celtic passage, the quotation from “Hesiod” is poor and dry and like a
multiplication sum. The Celtic imagination, with its fine frenzy, is
at home in the region of popular fancy, and deals with it effectively;
whereas the Greek method, if employed without art, spoils everything.
You will observe that “Hesiod,” in spite of his vastly greater
moderation (herein at least showing himself Greek), does not really
succeed in being any more convincing to the imagination, while he does
not impress it at all as the Celt impresses it. Employed with the art
of Homer, or indeed of Hesiod at his best, the Greek method should at
once impress the imagination and convince it. If it can do this, it
clearly excels the method of impressing the imagination by a process
akin to stunning it. One ought probably to prefer Hesiod at his dryest
to mere senseless hyperbole even in a passage where a little hyperbole
is in place. There is a future to Hesiod’s style in the hands of an
imaginative artist, while there is no possible artistic future to mere
shrieking. The Celtic method is always committing suicide.

Arnold quotes again from the _Mabinogion_: _Drem, the son of Dremidyd_
(_when the gnat arose in the morning with the sun, Drem could see
it from Gelli Wic in Cornwall, as far off as Pen Blathaon in North
Britain_). Here is what the ancient epic called the _Cypria_ says:
_Climbing the topmost peak he sent his glance through all the Isle
of Pelops son of Tantalos, and soon the glorious hero spied with his
wondrous eyes horse-taming Castor and conquering Polydeukês inside the
hollow oak_. The superiority of the Classical style is now beginning
to assert itself. The exaggeration in the Greek passage is immense,
but it does suspend incredulity for a moment—and the moment in art is
everything—while the Celtic passage pays no attention to verisimilitude
at all, and therefore really misses its effect. (If you think we are
here dealing with magic rather than simple hyperbole, the answer will
be much the same.) What Euripides says about shame we may say about
exaggeration; that there is a good kind and a bad. The good is, so
to speak, intensive; the bad, merely extensive. The excellent method
of hyperbole reflects some large hidden significance of it may be a
little thing or a trifling action. The inartistic hyperbole is just
overstatement—impressing nobody.

Any one who has read even a little of the old Celtic literature must
have been struck by the presence in it of a very large element of
enormous and almost frantic exaggeration. I speak very much under
correction, as I have to work with translations, but no one can be
wrong about so plain a matter. I have indeed heard a man who reads
Irish say that in his opinion some of the exaggeration was merely
humorous; but even this scholar did not deny that the exaggeration
was there, and plenty of it. From the _Táin Bó Cúalnge_ (the chief
document of early Ireland) translated by Professor Joseph Dunn, I take
part of the description of Cuchulain in one of his fits of rage. _He
next made a ruddy bowl of his face and his countenance. He gulped down
one eye into his head so that it would be hard work if a wild crane
succeeded in drawing it out on to the middle of his cheek from the rear
of his skull. Its mate sprang forth till it came out on his cheek, so
that it was the size of a five-fist kettle, and he made a red berry
thereof out in front of his head. His mouth was distorted monstrously
and twisted up to his ears. He drew the cheek from the jaw-bone so
that the interior of his throat was to be seen. His lungs and his
lights stood out so that they fluttered in his mouth and his gullet.
He struck a mad lion’s blow with the upper jaw on its fellow so that
as large as a wether’s fleece of a three year old was each red, fiery
flake which his teeth forced into his mouth from his gullet. There was
heard the loud clap of his heart against his breast like the yelp of a
howling bloodhound or like a lion going among bears. There were seen
the torches of the Badb, and the rain clouds of poison, and the sparks
of glowing-red fire, blazing and flashing in hazes and mists over his
head with the seething of the truly wild wrath that rose up above him.
His hair bristled all over his head like branches of a redthorn thrust
into a gap in a great hedge. Had a king’s apple-tree laden with royal
fruit been shaken around, scarce an apple of them all would have passed
over him to the ground, but rather would an apple have stayed stuck on
each single hair there, for the twisting of the anger which met it as
it rose from his hair above him. The Lon Laith (“Champion’s Light”)
stood out of his forehead, so that it was as long and as thick as a
warrior’s whetstone, so that it was as long as his nose, till he got
furious handling the shields, thrusting out the charioteer, destroying
the hosts. As high, as thick, as strong, as steady, as long as the
sail-tree of some huge prime ship was the straight spout of dark blood
which arose right on high from the very ridge-pole of his crown, so
that a black fog of witchery was made thereof like to the smoke from a
king’s hostel what time the king comes to be ministered to at nightfall
of a winter’s day._

It would be mistaken and dull criticism to blame anything so
characteristic as bad in itself. If such exaggerations are bad, it must
be because the whole class of literature to which they belong is bad.
But any one who should say that would be (not to put too fine a point
upon it) an ass. Still, it would be paradoxical to maintain that the
passage just quoted is in quite the best manner of writing. Cuchulain
reminds one of Achilles, and it is instructive to compare the treatment
of Cuchulain in the _Táin Bó Cúalnge_ with the treatment of Achilles in
the _Iliad_. In one sense the comparison is infinitely unfair. It is
matching what some have thought the greatest poem in the world against
something comparatively rude and primitive. But it is done merely to
illustrate a point of art. In other respects no injustice happens. If
one takes the combat of Ferdiad and Cuchulain, which is the crowning
episode of the _Táin_, with the combat between Hector and Achilles,
which is perhaps the crowning episode of the _Iliad_, one cannot fail
to see that the advantage in valour, and chivalry, and the essential
pathos of the situation is all on the Irish side. But in the pure art
of the narrative, what a difference! The _Táin_, not without skill,
works through a climax of tremendous feats to an impression of deadly
force and skill in its hero. But it is all considerably overdone, and
at last you are so incredulous of Cuchulain’s intromissions with the
“Gae Bulga” (that mysterious weapon) that you cease to be afraid of
him. What does Homer do? He shows you two lonely figures on the Plain
of Troy; Hector before the Skaian gate, and Achilles far off by the
River Skamandros. And as Hector strengthens his heart for the duel
which must be fatal to one, nearer and nearer, with savage haste, the
sun playing on his armour, comes running Achilles. Nothing happens,
only this silent, tireless running of a man. But it gets on your nerves
just as it got on Hector’s.

Or take that singular description of the Champion’s Light. It so
happens that Achilles also has something of the kind. But what is
grotesque in the case of Cuchulain, in the case of Achilles has a
startling effect of reality. The Trojans have defeated the Achaeans
and come very near the ships in the absence of Achilles from the
battle, when suddenly to the exulting foe the hero shows himself once
more. _Round his head the holy goddess twisted a golden cloud, and lit
therefrom an all-shining flame. And as when a smoke rising from a town
goes up to the sky in a distant isle besieged by fighting men, and all
day the folk contend in hateful battle before their town, but with the
setting of the sun thick flame the bale-fires, and the glare shoots
up on high for the dwellers round to see, so haply they may come in
their ships to ward off ruin—so from Achilles’ head the light went up
to heaven. From the wall to the trench he went, he stood—not mingling
with the Achaeans, for he regarded his mother’s wise behest. There
standing he shouted—and, aloof, Athena called; but among the Trojans
was aroused confusion infinite.... And the charioteers were astonisht
when they saw burning above the head of the great-hearted son of Peleus
the unwearied, awful fire, that the goddess, grey-eyed Athena, made
to burn._ The poet, you see, does not fairly describe the Champion’s
Light, he describes its effect. In the same way the face of Helen is
never described, only the effect she had on the old men of Troy. Such
art is beyond our praising.

It may be complained that I am taking extreme examples—of Hellenic tact
and moderation on the one hand, of Romantic extravagance on the other.
This is admitted, but the process seems justifiable; you must let me
illustrate my point. The argument is that the Romantic style tends to
a more lavish employment of hyperbole than does the Greek. I cannot
imagine any one denying it. Read of some nightmare feat of strength in
a Celtic story, and then read something in Homer (am I giving too much
of Homer?)—something like this: _Aias the son of Telamon was first to
slay a man, smiting him with a ragged stone, that was within the wall
by the battlement, piled huge atop of all, nor might a man with ease
upbear it in both his arms, even in full lustihead of youth—such as men
are now ... but Aias swang and hurled it from on high_. How moderation
tells! How much more really formidable is this Aias than Aeneas when
Virgil (with Roman or Celtic exaggeration) says that he cast “no small
part of a mountain”!

A matter of this delicacy will mock at a rigid handling. There is
no rule to be laid down at all save the rule that is above rules,
the instinct of the artist. The limits of exaggeration—and there is
a sense in which all art is exaggeration—shift with the shifting of
what one may call the horizon of the soul. It is clear, for instance,
that the atmosphere of the Domestic Drama or the Descriptive Poem
is markedly different from that of the Heroic Epic or the Choral
Ode. A _gabe_ appropriate to Oliver or Kapaneus would sound very
strangely on the lips of Holy Willie or Peter Bell; it could only be
mock-heroic or parody. One’s sensitiveness to these atmospheres, then,
the temperament of the reader, his critical taste, the character of
his education—all that and more affect his response to what he reads.
We have had a different experience from the ancients and live, as it
were, in different emotional scenery. Hyperbole counts for more in
our art than it did in theirs. To the device in itself there could be
no possible objection. When one thinks of the superb and intoxicating
hyperboles of Romantic literature from the winding of Roland’s horn to
the _Playboy of the Western World_; when one thinks how largely they
serve to make the style of Shakespeare; the Greeks appear a little
timid in comparison. Perhaps they were, although I cannot believe it
was timidity that ailed them. Only they guarded more strictly against
a danger they felt more keenly than we, into which we have more
frequently fallen.

Art of course must go where its own winds and currents carry it. To
forbid it to be itself because it is not Greek is extreme, though
happily impotent, nonsense. But it will be extraordinarily interesting
to see how modern art is going to save itself from the two extremes of
brutality and sentimentalism—the faults of the Barbarian—with which
it is so manifestly and so painfully struggling. The Greeks solved
that problem, and their solution stands. Meanwhile a student of Greek
may help a little by explaining what the solution is. For it has been
greatly misunderstood.

The secret was half recovered in the Renaissance. Thus in England
Milton learned from the Greeks the value of form for the concentration
of meaning, and that poetry should be not only “sensuous and
passionate” but also “simple.” But the Renaissance had drunk too deep
of the new wine to keep its head quite steady; and this, in turn,
helped to provoke a Puritanic reaction which distrusted the arts, and
therefore differed widely from Greek asceticism, which was itself
a kind of art. The Restoration produced a new orientation of the
English spirit, and a new interpretation of the Classical. Repelled
by the extravagances and the frequently outrageous slovenliness of
decadent Elizabethanism, the age of Dryden, communicating its impulse
to the age of Pope, fell in love with the quietness and temperance of
the ancients, and above all with their accomplishment of form. This
admiration was an excellent and salutary thing for the times. But it
seemed content to gaze on the surface. There arose a poetry which aimed
above all at mere correctness. As if Greek poetry aimed at nothing but

The modern Romantic movement—I mean the new spirit in English
literature which _Lyrical Ballads_ is regarded as initiating—was
largely a revolt against eighteenth-century Classicism. Yet it cannot
fairly be said that the Romantics introduced a juster conception of
Classical art. They started with a prejudice against it, which their
discovery of the Middle Ages merely confirmed. Wordsworth indeed (who
had much of the eighteenth century in him) felt the attraction of
Classical art, but his best work is not in things like _Laodamia_.
Landor is not Greek, any more than Leconte de Lisle is Greek. They have
Greek perfection of form, but (except at his rare best Landor) they are
glacial; they have not the banked and inward-burning fire which makes
Sappho, for example, so different. It has been thought that no English
poet has come nearer than Keats to recapturing the ancient secret. The
_Ode to a Grecian Urn_ nearly does recapture it. But not quite. _Beauty
is Truth, Truth Beauty_ is very Greek; but it is not Greek to forget,
as Keats and his followers have been apt to forget, the second half
of their aphorism. So the Greek poets aimed less directly at beauty
than at the truth of things, which they believed to be beautiful; and
this realism—this effort to realize the world as it is—remains, in
spite of the large element of convention in Greek poetry, the most
characteristic thing about the Greek poetical genius.

In the very midst of the Romantic movement we find Matthew Arnold
pleading for a return to Hellenic standards. The plea had curiously
little effect. If you read _Merope_ immediately after _Atalanta in
Calydon_, you will scarcely wonder at that. Arnold in fact saw only
half the truth. He cries for Greek sanity and absence of caprice; he
does not cry for Greek intensity, Greek realism. He pleads for tact
and moderation—in a word, for that good manners in style which had
seemed so important to the eighteenth century. The doctrine was too
negative for the age. It can hardly be said to inspire the best work
of Arnold himself. Yes, that is just what is wrong with it, it does
not _inspire_; and so, although based on a right instinct, it does
not really lift him above his time. He did not care for Tennyson,
whom he accused of affectation. But he would not have understood the
twentieth century’s objection to Tennyson, that he lacked the courage
of his genius. If he had understood it, he would no doubt have sided
with Tennyson, for Arnold was, after all, mainly “Victorian.” But what
do you suppose Aristophanes would have said about Tennyson? If the
answer is not at once obvious, the reason must be the difficulty that
would arise in getting a Greek of Aristophanes’ time to understand the
Victorian timidities at all.

The present age is said to be extremely in revolt against Victorianism.
Unfortunately one may be in full revolt and yet be only shaking one’s
chains. There is a thing that is fairly clear. The paroxysmal art
of the hour must bring its inevitable reaction. The cry will again
be heard for a return to urbanity and a stricter form, and people
will again call these things Classical, as if this were all the
Classics have to offer. And then in due time will come once more the
counter-swing of the pendulum. Well, perhaps art depends more than we
think upon this ceaseless movement; for all art aims at giving the
effect of life, and life is in movement.


Were it not for an original propriety in the distinction, it would be
better not to speak at all of “Classical” and “Romantic.” This seems
clearly to be the fault of modern criticism, which has hidden the
path under so deep a fall of many-coloured leaves, that now one must
spend a deal of time merely in sweeping them up. It is annoying how
inapt are current terms of criticism to express the essence of ancient
literature. I have hinted that it might almost be expressed in the word
“realism,” and at once I am checked by the reflection that realism in
modern speech appears to mean anything you like. How, then, is a man
to avoid being misunderstood? But he has to take the risk; and on the
whole it will be safer for him to grasp this runaway by the hair than
to sow more definitions in a soil already exhausted.

Greek literature is realistic in the sense that it aims at producing
the effect of reality, not by the accumulation of startling
details—which perhaps is what is usually meant in these days by
realism—but by a method of its own. Greek literature is marked by a
unique sincerity, or veracity, or candour, equally foreign to violence
and to sentimentality—a bitter man might say, equally foreign to what
we now call realism and to what we now call idealism. So profound is
this truthfulness that we (who cry out daily for a resolute fidelity to
fact in our writers) have not yet sounded it. It needs a long plummet.
So many of us have come to imagine that the truth of a situation is not
apparent except in flashes of lightning—preferably red lightning—which
the Greeks thought distorting. We think we are candid, and we are not
so very candid. I could never be one of those fanatical champions of
antiquity to whom the modern is merely the enemy. Their position is so
pathetically untenable that one can only with a sigh busy oneself with
something that really matters. But, however modern I may feel, I cannot
get myself to believe that we attain so perfect a truthfulness as the
Greeks. We have written volumes about the “Classical Ideal,” and we
are apt to contrast “Hellenic Idealism” with our uncompromising modern
“Realism” and “Naturalism.” And all the time the Greeks have had a
truer realism than we.

For instance, we have of late almost made a speciality of wounds and
death. You could not say this of any ancient writer. Curiously enough,
you might say it with less impropriety of Homer than of any other.
A warrior, he says, was pierced to the heart by a spear, _and the
throbbing of the heart made also the butt of the spear to quiver_.
That gives you a pretty satisfactory shiver. Menelaos smote Peisandros
_above the root of the nose; and the bones cracked, and his eyes
dropped bloody in the dust of the ground at his feet_. This is how
Peneleos treated Ilioneus. _He wounded him under the eyebrow where the
eye is embedded and forced out the ball, and the spear went clean
through the eye and through the muscle behind, and the wounded man
crouched down, spreading out his hands; but Peneleos drawing his sharp
sword smote his neck in the midst and dashed the head on the ground,
helmet and all; and the heavy spear was still in the eye, and he raised
up the head like a poppy._ I suspect your modern realist of envying
that image of the bloody head stuck “through the eye” on a spear
and looking like a “poppy” or a “poppy-head” on its stalk. Another
unfortunate fighter was hit _down the mouth_ with a spear, which
penetrated _under the brain and broke the white bones; and the teeth
were shaken out and both his eyes were filled with blood, and with a
gape he sent the blood gushing up his mouth and down his nostrils_. The
youngest son of King Priam was wounded by Achilles _beside the navel_,
and so _dropped moaning on his knees_ and _clutched his entrails to him
with his hands_—a passage remembered by Pater.

From it and the others it may be seen that Homer, when he likes, can be
as grisly as Mr. Sassoon. But they are not typical of Homer, still less
of the ancient Greek writers in general. It is not their way to obtrude
details. Their aim is to give you the whole situation, and to give
it truly. Their method is to select the significant, rather than the
merely striking, details. Such a theory and method are best entitled,
on reflection, to the name of realism. Kebriones, the charioteer in
Homer, has his forehead crushed in by a stone, and a terrible battle
is waged over his body. The poet in the heat of his battle thinks for
a moment of the dead man. _But he in the whirling dust-storm lay,
with large limbs largely fallen, forgetful of his horsemanship._ No
insistence here on the ghastly wound. The reader for a breathing space
is rapt from the blood and the horror into quiet spaces of oblivion.
Is not this, just here, the right note to strike—and not the other? It
gives the whole situation—the roaring tumult above, the unheeding body
underneath—not merely one aspect. It is the more real because it is not
simply painful.

Contrast, again, the Greek with the mediæval and the modern attitudes
to death. See how many of the passages on death you can recall in
writers not ancient are inspired by a grotesque or reflective horror,
or ring with a hopeful or hopeless defiance. Think of Villon on death,
and Raleigh, and Donne, and Shakespeare’s Claudio, and _Hydriotaphia_,
and Browning, and Swinburne. There is nothing in the great age of
Greek literature even remotely comparable to the gorgeous variety of
these dreams and invocations. But if the question is of realism (as we
are understanding it), if we resolve to see death as it is, neither
transformed by hope nor blurred by tears, see if the ancients have not
the advantage.

They will disappoint you at first. (But remember you are asking for
realism.) Thus when Aristotle in his dry manner says, _Death is the
most fearful thing; for it is an end, and nothing after it seems to
the dead man either good or bad_, you may think it a poor attitude to
strike. But Aristotle is not striking an attitude at all, he is simply
facing a fact. He may be wrong, of course, but that is how death looks
to Aristotle, and he is not going to gild the pill either for you or
for himself. But if you miss in Aristotle the thrill of the greatest
literature, you must feel it in the last words of Socrates to the
judges who had condemned him. _But now is come the hour of departure,
for me that have to die, for you that have still to live; but which
path leads to a better lot is hidden from all but God._ And with that
Socrates falls silent, leaving the reader silent too, and a little
ashamed perhaps of our importunate hells and heavens.

Odysseus meets the ghost of Achilles in Hades and speaks of the great
honour in which the young hero is held here. _Not of death_, replies
Achilles, _speak thou in words of comfort, glorious Odysseus! Rather
above ground would I be the hired servant of a man without a lot,
whose livelihood is but small, than reign over all the perished dead._
The truth as he sees it is what you get from the Greek every time.
Odysseus hears it from Achilles, the greatest of the dead. He hears it
from Elpênor, one of the least. (Elpênor got drunk in Circe’s house
and, feeling hot, wandered on to the roof, where he fell asleep, and
everybody forgot about him. In the morning he was aroused by the noise
of people moving about and jumped up, forgetting where he was, and fell
backwards from the roof and broke his neck.) _Ah, go not and leave
me behind unwept and unburied, turning thy back on me, lest I become
a vessel of the wrath of gods upon thee; but bury me with all mine
armour, and by the margin of the whitening sea heap me a high grave
of a man that had no luck, that even after ages may know. This do for
me, and on my grave plant the oar with which, alive, I rowed among
my comrades._ The natural pathos of this must touch everybody. But I
wonder if everybody feels how much of its effect is due to an almost
harsh avoidance of sentimentality, as in that hidden threat of the
pleading ghost. And even that piercing last line about the oar—it may
grieve certain readers to know that setting up an oar on the grave
was merely part of a ritual usually observed in the burial of a dead

The _corpus_ of Greek inscriptions naturally contains a great many
epitaphs. There is not one, belonging to what we think of as the great
age of Greece, that has the least grain of smugness or hypocrisy or
sentimentality. It must be confessed that these “pagans” could die with
a good grace. Here is an inscription, _incerti loci_, “of uncertain
provenience,” but in the Greek of Attica. _The tomb of Phrasikleia,
“I shall be called a maid for evermore, having won from the gods this
name instead of marriage.”_ I ought to add at once that the original
is grave and beautiful poetry. I can only give the sense. One must
read the Greek to feel entirely how good Phrasikleia is. At least she
is not Little Nell. Some of the most famous epitaphs are by known
authors; the most famous of all by Simonides. Over the Tegeans who
fell in battle against the Barbarian he wrote: _Here lie the men whose
valour was the cause that smoke went not up to heaven from broad Tegea
burning; who resolved to leave their city flourishing in freedom to
their children, and themselves to die among the foremost fighters_. All
these little poems are beyond translation. The art of them lies in a
deliberate bareness or baldness, which ought to be shockingly prosaic
(and in English almost inevitably is so), but contrives to be thrilling
poetry. The finest of all the epigrams is that on the Three Hundred who
fell at Thermopylae. _O stranger, tell the Lacedaemonians that we lie
here, following their instructions._ Literally that is what it says.
Yet I suppose that even a man who does not know Greek may feel in an
instinctive way that it may be extraordinarily good in the original.
It is. It is an instance of the famous Laconic brevity, whose virtue
it was to cut at once to the heart of things. One other epigram I will
add, partly because it also refers to the time of the Persian Wars,
partly because the author was said (perhaps rightly) to be Plato. It is
on the people of Eretria, a town in Euboea by the seashore, who were
carried off into captivity and settled by Darius far away, hopelessly
far, “at Arderikka in the Kissian land” beyond the Tigris. _We who
one day left the deep-voiced swell of the Aegean lie here midmost the
Plain of Ecbatana. Good-bye Eretria, our city famous once; good-bye
Athens, the neighbour of Eretria; good-bye dear sea._ By the side of
this mere “pathos” looks almost vulgar. If Plato wrote it, he was
certainly a poet; but it is improbable that he did. I notice that
Professor Burnet thinks Plato did not write any of the poems attributed
to him in the manuscripts. In any case, when people say that Plato was
“really a poet” they are thinking of his prose. I cannot help adding
the irrelevancy that I wish they would not go on repeating this. He is
an incomparably great master of imaginative prose. Is that not enough?
He may have been no better at poetry than Ruskin or Carlyle. A poet is
a man who writes poems.

Next to death the great test of sincerity is love. There used to be a
general opinion that love, as we understand it, did not exist among
the ancients at all. That point has been already discussed, but we may
consider for a little the treatment of love in the Attic dramatists,
who best represent the great period of Athenian development. There
is plenty of love in them, only they don’t mention it. “Please do
not be impatient,” as the Greek orators say, “until you hear what I
mean.” Let us take Aeschylus, the earliest of the dramatists, first,
and for a play let us take his _Agamemnon_. The great character is
Clytaemnestra. She has allowed herself to become the paramour of a vile
and cowardly relation of her husband called Aegisthus, who apparently
seduced her out of mere idleness and hatred of King Agamemnon. When
her husband returns she treacherously murders him.... What are you
going to make of a subject like that? How are you going to make
Clytaemnestra, I will not say “sympathetic,” but merely human and
tolerable? It seems an insoluble problem. Yet Aeschylus solves it. For
one thing, he represents Agamemnon, the nominal hero of the play, as
rather wooden, weak and bombastic—not very unlike Julius Caesar, the
nominal hero of Shakespeare’s play, where the dramatist had a similar
but less difficult problem. The result is that the sympathies of the
reader are not too deeply stirred in favour of the victim. Again,
Clytaemnestra appears to be really in love with Aegisthus, while her
feeling towards her husband is not merely the thirst for revenge or the
hate a woman conceives of the man she has wronged; it is a physical
abhorrence. She loathes him in her flesh. It is impossible to explain
by what miracle of genius we are led to receive this impression, for
she speaks nothing but flatteries and cajolery. Yet every speech of
hers to him, as he dimly feels, shudders with a secret disgust. These
long, glittering, coiling sentences are certainly not politic; they are
the expression of a morbid loathing, which has ended by fascinating
itself. When the blood of her lord bursts over her she _rejoices no
less than the sown ground in the heaven’s bright gift of rain_. Now
in the play Agamemnon is rather ineffective, but at any rate he is
more a man than the immeasurably contemptible Aegisthus. Is it to be
supposed that Clytaemnestra does not know that? Of course she knows,
but she does not cease to love Aegisthus on that account. So the matter
stands. Aeschylus does not make it any easier for you. A bad modern
playwright would make Clytaemnestra a sadly misunderstood woman with a
pitiful “case.” It so happens that the queen does have something of a
case, really a good case, but she does not much insist on it. She knows
quite well that it is not for her murdered daughter’s sake that she
has killed the king. Neither is it from fear of detection; the woman
does not know the meaning of fear. Aeschylus will not purchase your
sympathy for her by any pretences. One of his unexpected, wonderful
touches is to make her superbly intelligent. She feels herself so much
superior intellectually to every one else that she hardly takes the
trouble to deceive them. Nobody is asked to like Clytaemnestra, but
surely she gives food for some reflection on the power and subtlety of
Greek psychology, and the unswerving truthfulness of Greek realism, in
a peculiarly complex affair of the heart.

There are in Sophocles at least two fine and tender studies of conjugal
love of the conventional (but not silly conventional) type, namely
Tekmessa in the _Ajax_ and Dêianeira in the _Trachinian Women_; and
one study not conventional in the very least, the Iokasta of _Oedipus
the King_. She is the woman who slew herself because she had borne
children to her own son, who had murdered his father, who begot him by
her. The legend has made her a thing of night and horror. Sophocles has
made her grand, proud, sceptical, lonely, pitiful, ravaged by thoughts
not to be breathed, horribly pathetic. But these three are wives. Of
love between man and maid Sophocles has hardly a word to say. People
quote Haimon and Antigone. There is no doubt of the young man’s love
for Antigone; he dies for her. But is she in love with Haimon? She is
betrothed to him of course, but in ancient Greece these matters were
arranged. She probably liked him a good deal; everybody likes him; but
we are speaking of love. Those who have little doubts on the subject
quote her cry, _Dearest Haimon, how thy father slights thee!_ which
she utters when Kreon has said, _I hate bad wives for my sons_. But
they have no right to quote the cry as hers until they have proved
she utters it; which they don’t, but merely assume the manuscripts be
wrong. The manuscripts give the line to Ismênê, the sister of Antigone,
and they appear to be clearly right. Any one who looks at the context
will see that it is Ismênê who brings the mention of Haimon into the
dispute with Kreon. Antigone stands apart in proud and indignant
silence. She will die rather than let the man who has outraged her dead
brother see how much her resistance is costing her. Besides, I think
the manuscripts are right anyway. Imagine the case of an extremely
high-minded young lady, who for the very best reasons has quarrelled
with her prospective father-in-law. The young lady’s sister reminds the
old man that after all Octavia is engaged to his son, which provokes
the retort, “I object to bad wives for my boys.” Would Octavia then
exclaim, “Dearest William, how your father insults you!”? Well, would
she? But it looks delightfully like what Octavia’s sister would say.
Therefore, I vote for the manuscripts and giving the line to Ismênê.

Antigone had two brothers, Eteokles and Polyneikes. After their father
had been driven from Thebes the brethren disputed the succession
to his throne. Polyneikes lost, and took refuge in Argos, where he
gathered assistance and marched against his native city. The attempt
had no success, and Polyneikes and Eteokles fell in single combat.
This mutual fratricide left Kreon, their uncle, king. He, in a flame
of “patriotism,” had Eteokles interred with honour and commanded that
the body of Polyneikes should be left unburied. Such an order might
be compared to excommunication, for the effect of it was for ever to
bar the spirit of the dead from peace. Antigone sprinkled dust on the
naked corpse, which satisfied the gods of the underworld and eluded
the penalty of the ban. When Kreon asks her if the spirit of Eteokles
will not resent the saining of his fraternal enemy—which would be the
orthodox opinion—she replies, beautifully but inconsequently, _It is
not my nature to join in hating, but in loving_. She also speaks of
a higher, unwritten law. But Polyneikes is the favourite brother. I
hardly think any one can read carefully the _Antigone_ and the _Oedipus
at Colonus_ without seeing that. All through the _Antigone_ he is never
out of her thoughts. “Natural enough,” you may be inclined to say. But
is it? On the supposition that she is in love with Haimon? There is
another play, the _Electra_, in which Sophocles portrays the love of a
sister for a brother; and there are a good many points of resemblance
between Electra and Antigone. Only there is in the love of Electra for
Orestes (whom she brought up) a fierce, hungry, maternal quality, which
would be out of place between the children of Oedipus.

When we pass to Euripides we seem by comparison to approach the modern.
The impression is largely illusory, but not wholly false. It is the
fact that he is troubled by many of the problems that trouble us, and
it is the fact that he sometimes answers, or does not answer, them in
a way we should regard as modern. This comes out in his treatment of
love. It is best seen in the _Medea_ and the _Hippolytus_. Medea has a
special interest for us because she is a Barbarian (princess of Colchis
in the eastern corner of the Black Sea). But her case is quite simple.
She is a woman in love with a man who is tired of her. Necessarily
he cuts a poor figure in the story. She had saved his life. On the
other hand, she had thrown herself at his head, she had done her best
to ruin his chances in life, and all she had now to offer him was a
perfect readiness to murder anybody who stood in his way. She is one
of those women who are never satisfied unless the man is making love
to them all the time, so that one may have a sneaking sympathy for
that embarrassed, if rather contemptible, Jason. Indeed, Euripides’
opinion of this kind of “Romantic” love is probably no higher than Mr.
Shaw’s. It is the passion of the Barbarian woman. That does not prevent
Euripides from sympathizing profoundly with Medea, the passionate,
wronged, foreign woman. Why, indeed, should it? The case of Medea, as
Euripides with the pregnant brevity of Greek art presents it, has
seemed to many as true as death. It is an excellent example of realism.

More definitely than the _Medea_, the _Hippolytus_ is a tragedy
of love. Yet in the eloquence of the Romantic lover the one is as
deficient as the other. Phaedra was dying for love of Hippolytus. Her
secret is discovered and she dies of shame. What an opportunity for
the sentimentalist! However, adds the relentless poet, that is not all
the story. Before killing herself she forged a message to her husband
making the charge of Potiphar’s wife against Hippolytus. She could
not die without the pleasure of hurting him. Yet Euripides does not
represent her as an odious woman; quite the contrary. The question
for us is, does she, when we read the play, strike us as real or not?
The poet has set himself a difficult task—to convince us that a soul
overthrown by desire, cruel, lying, unjust was yet essentially modest,
gentle and honourable. If she is almost too convincing, so that a
sentimental part of you bleeds inside, you will perceive that realism
was not invented in Norway. And there is this about the Greek sort: it
never exaggerates.

It is hardly to be believed how startling an effect of truth this
moderation of the Greek writers can produce. Sappho, in the most
famous of her odes, says that love makes her “sweat” with agony and
look “greener than grass.” Perhaps she did not turn quite so green as
that, although (commentators nobly observe) she would be of an olive
complexion and had never seen British grass. But, even if it contain
a trace of artistic exaggeration, the ode as a whole is perhaps the
most convincing love-poem ever written. It breathes veracity. It has
an intoxicating beauty of sound and suggestion, and it is as exact
as a physiological treatise. The Greeks can do that kind of thing.
Somehow we either overdo the “beauty” or we overdo the physiology. The
weakness of the Barbarian, said they, is that he never hits the mean.
But the Greek poet seems to do it every time. We may beat them at
other things, but not at that. And they do it with so little effort;
sometimes, it might appear, with none at all. Thus Aeschylus represents
Prometheus as the proudest of living beings. The _Prometheus Bound_
opens with a scene in which Hephaistos, urged on by two devils called
Strength and Force, nails Prometheus to a frozen, desert rock. While
the hero of the play endures this horrible torture, he has to listen to
the clumsy sympathy of Hephaistos, who does not like his job, and the
savage taunts of the two demons. To all this he replies—nothing at all.
No eloquence could express the pride of that tremendous silence. Of
course there is, or there used to be, a certain kind of commentator who
hastens to point out that a convention of the early Attic stage forbade
more than two persons of a tragedy to speak together at any time, so
that in any event it was not permissible for Prometheus to speak. All
you can do with a critic like that is (mentally, I fear) to hang a
millstone round his neck and cast him into the deepest part of the sea.

Not but what the point about convention, if rightly taken, is extremely
notable. It is an undying wonder how the kind of realism we have been
discussing could be combined with, could even, as in that instance
from the _Prometheus Bound_, make use of, the limitations imposed on
the ancient poet. To a reader who has not looked into the case it
is hard to give even an idea of it. If a man were to tell you that
he had written a novel in which the hero was Sir Anthony Dearborn
and the heroine Sophia Wilde, while other characters were Squire
Crabtree, Parson Quackenboss, Lieutenant Dashwood and the old Duchess
of Grimthorpe, you would think to yourself you knew exactly what to
expect. Yet you must admit there is nothing to prevent the man leaving
out (if he can) Gretna Green, and the duel, and the eighteenth-century
oaths. But if a Greek tragic dramatist put on the stage a play dealing,
say, with the House of Atreus, he positively could not leave out any
part of the family history. It was not done. So the audience knew your
story already, and knew, roughly, your characters. Nor, as historians
say, was that all. There had to be a Chorus, which had to sing lyrical
odes of a mythological sort at regular intervals between the episodes
of your drama; while the episodes themselves had to be composed in the
iambic metre and in a certain “tragic diction” about as remote from
ordinary speech as _Paradise Lost_. How Aeschylus and Sophocles and
Euripides contrive under such conditions to give a powerful impression
of novelty and naturalness it is easier to feel than explain. About the
feeling at least there is no doubt. Let us look again for a moment at
that singular convention, the tragic Chorus. Very often it consists of
old men who ... sing and dance. Consider the incredible difficulty of
keeping a number of singing and dancing old men solemn and beautiful
and even holy. Yet the great tragic poets have overcome that difficulty
so completely that I suppose not one reader in a hundred notices that
there is a difficulty at all. The famous Chorus of old men in the
_Agamemnon_, whose debility is made a point in the play, never for a
moment remind one of Grandfer Cantle. Rather they remind us of that
“old man covered with a mantle,” whom Saul beheld rising from the grave
to pronounce his doom. It is, in their own words, as if God inspired
their limbs to the dance and filled their mouths with prophecy.

There is only one way of redeeming the conventional, and that is by
sincerity. I am very far from maintaining that the moral virtue of
sincerity was eminently characteristic of the ancient Greek; but
intellectual sincerity was. None has ever looked upon gods and men
with such clear, unswerving eyes; none has understood so well to
communicate that vision. To see that essential beauty is truth and
truth is beauty—that is the secret of Greek art, as it is the maxim of
true realism. To keep measure in all things, that no drop of life may
spill over—that is the secret of Greek happiness. To be a Greek and not
a Barbarian.



The beginnings of Ionia, the earlier homes and the racial affinities
of the Ionians, are still obscure, although the point is cardinal
for Greek history. There is perhaps a growing tendency to find
“Mediterranean” elements in the Ionian stock, and this would explain
much, if the Ionians of history did not seem so very “Aryan” in speech
and habits of thought. On the other hand the “Aryan” himself is
daily coming to look more cloudy and ambiguous, and so is his exact
contribution to western culture.

The chief ancient sources of our information concerning the Ionians are
Herodotus, Pausanias and Strabo.

  P. 14. Thuc. I. 2. Thuc. I. 6. Herod. I. 57.

  P. 15. See especially D. G. Hogarth, _Ionia and the East_

  J. Burnet, _Who was Javan?_ in Proceedings of the Class.
  Assoc. of Scot. 1911-12. Herod. I. 142.

  P. 16. Herod. I. 171 f.

  P. 17. An authoritative little book dealing with (among
  other peoples) the Anatolian races is D. G. Hogarth’s
  _The Ancient East_ (Home Univ. Ser.), 1914. Also H. R.
  Hall, _The Ancient History of the Near East_ (1913).

  P. 18. V. Bérard, _Les Phéniciens et l’Odyssée_ is full
  of instruction on the ways of the ancient mariner.

  For the Colchians, see Hippocrates _de aer. aq. loc._ 15.
  _Cf._ Herod. II. 104 f.

  P. 19. Chalybes. _Il._ II. 857. Herod. I. 203.

  P. 20. Herod. IV. 93 f. Olbia. Herod. IV. 18. Scythian
  bow. Plato, _Laws_, 795-.

  P. 21. Herod. IV. 18 f.

  P. 22. Herod. IV. 172 f.

  P. 25. Herod. II. 152. Abusimbel inscr. in Hicks and
  Hill’s _Manual_.

  P. 26 f. Fragments of Archilochus in Bergk’s _Poet. Lyr.


The Battle of Thermopylae as related by Herodotus (practically our sole
authority) is an epic. Therefore in telling it again I have frankly
attempted an epical manner as being really less misleading than any
application of the historical method. This is not to say that the
narrative of Herodotus has not been greatly elucidated by the research
of modern historians, especially by the exciting discovery of the path
Anopaia by Mr. G. B. Grundy. I have followed his reconstruction of the
battle (which may not be very far from the truth) in his book, _The
Great Persian War_ (1901). See also Mr. Macan’s commentary in his great
edition of Herodotus.

  P. 34. See Frazer’s note on Thermopylae in his edition of

  P. 36. _Cf._ Xen. _Anab._ VII. 4, 4 (Thracians of Europe).

  P. 39. Tiara. _schol._ Ar. _Birds_ 487. The King’s tiara
  was also called _kitaris_.

  P. 39. For Persian dress _cf._ with Herod. Strabo 734.
  Xen. _Cyrop._ VII. 1, 2. There are also representations
  in ancient art, e.g. a frieze at Susa.


  P. 45. Strabo IV.

  P. 46. Herod. IV. 44.

  P. 47. _The Greek Tradition_ (1915), Allen and Unwin, p.

  P. 48. Herod. IV. 151-153.

  P. 50. For an account of the Oasis at Siwah, see A. B.
  Cook, _Zeus_, vol. I.

  P. 51. Hymn _ad Apoll._ 391 f.

  P. 52. Pind. _Ol._ 3 _ad fin._

  P. 53. Herod. VI. 11, 12, 17. _Cf._ Strabo on foundation
  of Marseille, IV (from Aristotle).

  P. 54. Herod. III. 125, 129-137 (Demokêdês).

  P. 55. Polycrates. Herod. II. 182 and III _passim_.

  P. 61 f. Xen. _Anab._ I-IV.

  P. 63. Pisidians. _Cf._ Xen. _Memor._ V. 2, 6.

  P. 67. _L’Anabase de Xenophon avec un commentaire
  historique et militaire_, by Col. (General) Arthur
  Boucher, Paris, 1913.

  P. 69. There is a fine imaginative picture of Nineveh in
  the Book of Jonah.

  P. 71. The famous Moltke was nearly drowned from a

  P. 77. The hot spring may be the sulphurous waters of
  Murad, which have wonderful iridescences.

  The Armenian underground houses are still to be seen.
  These earth-houses are found elsewhere—in Scotland, for
  instance. See J. E. Harrison, in _Essays and Studies
  presented to W. Ridgeway_, p. 136 f.


  P. 82. Aesch. _Pers._ 241 f. Herod. VII. 104.

  P. 83. _Pers._ 402 f. Eur. _Helen_ 276.

  P. 84. Thuc. I. 3, 3 (“Hellenes” and “Barbarians”
  correlative terms).

  Herod. I. 136.

  P. 85. Aeschines 3, 132. Letter to Gadatas, Dittenb.
  _Syllog._^2 2.

  Herod. III. 31. _Cf._ Daniel VI. 37, 38. Ezekiel xxvi. 7.

  P. 86. Herod. IX. 108-113.

  P. 88. _Cf._ vengeance of Persians on Ionians, Herod. VI.

  Herod. VII. 135.

  P. 89. Herod. VIII. 140 f.

  P. 90 f. “The ancients were attached to their country
  by three things—their temples, their tombs, and their
  forefathers. The two great bonds which united them to
  their government were the bonds of habit and antiquity.
  With the moderns, hope and the love of novelty have
  produced a total change. The ancients said _our
  forefathers_, we say posterity; we do not, like them,
  love our _patria_, that is to say, the country and the
  laws of our fathers, rather we love the laws and the
  country of our children; the charm we are most sensible
  to is the charm of the future, and not the charm of the
  past.” Joubert, transl. by M. Arnold.

  P. 92. See J. E. Harrison on Anodos Vases in her
  _Prolegomena_, p. 276 f.

  Herod. VIII. 109. Herod. VIII. 65.

  P. 96. Herod. IX. 27. _Supplices_ 314 f. But see the
  whole speech of Aithra, and indeed the whole play, which
  is full of the mission of Athens as

  the champion of Hellenism. _Cf._ also Eur. _Heraclid_. G.
  Murray, Introduction to trans. of Eur. _Hippol._ etc., on
  “Significance of _Bacchae_” (1902).

  P. 97. Thuc. I. 70, 9. Herod. VII. 139. Dem. _de Cor._
  199 f.

  P. 98. Arist. _Pol._ 1317^2 40, agreeing with Plato
  _Resp._ 562B.

  P. 99. Plato _Resp._ 563c. Herod. III. 80.

  Herod. V. 78. _Cf._ Hippocr. _de aer. aq. loc._ 23, 24.
  Both agree that a high spirit may be produced by suitable
  _nomoi_ and that man’s spirits are “enslaved” under
  autocracy. This is a more liberal doctrine than that
  discussed in Aristotle, that Barbarians are slaves “by

  P. 100. _Supplices_ 403 f. _Medea_ 536 f.

  The association of Liberty and Law is exhibited both
  positively and negatively (as in the breach of both
  by the tyrant) in the tragic poets, etc. Thus the
  _Suppliants_ of Aeschylus is concerned with a point of
  marriage-law, the _Antigone_ of Sophocles with a point of
  burial-law, and so on.

  Another “romantic” hero is Cadmus.

  P. 104. Hom. _Il._ VI. 447 f.


  P. 110. Plato _Resp._ 329B. _ib._ 439E.

  P. 111. Plato _Resp._ 615c. Xen. _Hellen._ VI. 4, 37.

  P. 112. Plut. _Pelop._ 29. Herod. III. 50; V. 92.

  P. 120. Herod. VIII. 26.

  P. 121. _Purg._ XXIV. 137-8.


  P. 122. _Od._ III. 48.

  P. 123 f. I may allow myself to refer, for more detailed
  evidence, to my article _The Religious Background of
  the “Prometheus Vinctus”_ in Harvard Studies in Class.
  Philol. vol. XXXI, 1920. _Cf._ Prof. G. Murray in
  _Anthropology and the Classics_, ed. R. R. Marett.

  P. 124. _Theog._ 126 f. _Theog._ 147 f. “ill to name,”
  οὐκ ὀνομαστοί. I think the meaning may be that to mention
  their names was dangerous—especially if you got them
  wrong. _Cf._ Aesch. Ag. 170. The Romans provided against
  this danger by the _indigitamenta_.

  P. 126. _Theog._ 453 f.

  P. 128. _Theog._ 617 f. _Theog._ 503 f.

  P. 129. Solmsen, _Indog. Forsch._ 1912, XXX, 35 n. 1.
  _Theog._ 886 f. _Theog._ 929^h f.

  P. 130. Heracl. _fr._ 42 (Diels). Xenophan. _fr._ 11.

  Pind. _Ol._ I. 53 f.

  P. 136. On the “anarchic life,” see Plato _Laws_ 693-699.
  Democritus (139) says, “Law aims at the amelioration
  of human life and is capable of this, when men are
  themselves disposed to accept it; for law reveals
  to every man who obeys it his special capacity for

  Zeus, acc. to Plato _Crit. sub fin._ is a
  _constitutional_ ruler.

  P. 137. Herod. I. 34 f.



  P. 147. Plut. _Alex._ I.

  P. 150. _Il._ II. 459 f. _Il._ IV. 452 f. _Il._ XIX. 375

  _Od._ XIX. 431 f. _Od._ XIX. 518 f.

  P. 151. _Il._ VI. 418 f. _Il._ XIV. 16 f. _Il._ XXIV. 614 f.

  P. 152. _Il._ XIV. 347 f. _Od._ XI. 238 f.

  P. 153. Pind. _Ol._ I. 74 f. _Ol._ VI. 53.

  P. 155. _Il._ XXIII. 597 f.

  P. 161 f. See my _Studies in the Odyssey_, Oxford, 1914.

  P. 163. _Il._ III. 243 f. _Il._ XVI. 453 f. _Od._ XIX. 36 f.

  P. 164. _Od._ XX. 351 f. _ad Cererem_ 5 f. _ad Dion._ 24 f.


  P. 168. Thuc. III. 38. ζητοῦντές τε ἄλλο τι ὡς εἰπεῖν ἢ
  ἐν οἷς ζῶμεν.

  On Elpis, see F. M. Cornford in _Thucydides
  Mythistoricus_, ch. IX, XII, XIII.

  P. 172. _Od._ XI. 235 f. Plato _Resp._ 573B.

  P. 175. See Prof. Burnet, _Greek Philosophy_ (1914), Part
  I, p. 146 f.

  P. 182. _Il._ XVIII. 205 f.

  P. 183. _Il._ XII. 378 f.

  P. 184. J. M. Synge said, “It may almost be said that
  before verse can be human again it must learn to be
  brutal.” But this merely shows how much we are suffering
  from a reaction against sentimental romanticism.


  P. 189. _Il_. XIII. 444. _Il._ XIII. 616 f. _Il._ XIV.
  493 f. _Il._ XVI. 345 f. _Il._ XX. 416 f.

  P. 190. _Il._ XVI. 751 f.

  P. 191. Arist. _Nic. Eth._ III. 6, 6. Plato _Apol. ad

  _Od._ XI. 488 f. _Od._. XI. 72 f. Note the effect of
  the καί before ζωός. It is “simple pathos” if you like,
  hardly self-conscious enough to be called “wistful.”
  There are some wonderful touches of it in Dante’s

  P. 192. Phrasikleia. Kaibel, _Epigr. Sepulchr. Attic._ 6.

  P. 193. The Eretrian epigram is preserved in the Palatine

  P. 195. _Ag._ 1391 f.

  P. 196. _Ant._ 571 f.


  Abu Simbel, 25

  Achilles, 181 f., 191

  Adrastos, 138, 140 f.

  Adriatic, 24

  Aegean peoples and culture, 14 f., 123

  Aegina, 55

  Aegisthus, 194 f.

  Aeneas, 183

  Aeschines, 81

  Aeschylus, 58, 82, 83, 130 f., 153, 156, 170, 194 f., 200, 201 f.

  Africa, 22 f., 23, 35, 48 f.

  Agamemnon, 156, 194 f.

  _Agon_, 118 f., 148

  Ahuramazda, 39, 85, 87

  Aias, 183

  Aithra, 96 f.

  Alexander (the Great), 16, 45, 61, 102, 147, 169;
    (of Macedon I), 89;
    (of Pherae), 111 f.

  _Alkinoos, Narrative to_, 159 f.

  Alkman, 153

  Alyattes, 30, 117

  Amazons, 136

  Amestris, 86

  Amphiktyones, 34

  Anaximander, 30

  Anopaia, 42

  Antigone, 196 f.

  Apollonios, of Rhodes, 172

  _Arabian Nights,_ 160

  Araxes, 79

  “Archical Man,” The, 61, 62, 67

  Archilochus, 26 f., 54, 172

  Arganthonios, 52

  Aristophanes, 162, 174, 186

  Aristotle, 98, 110, 121, 147, 190 f.

  Armenia, 64, 75 f.

  Arnold, M., 52, 149 f., 176 f., 186

  Artaxerxes II, 62, 63, 87 f.

  Artaynte, 86

  Artemision, 37

  Asceticism, Greek, 110 f.

  Asia Minor (Anatolia), 13 f., 23, 24, 46, 123

  Asôpos, 33, 41;
    (Gorge of), 33, 41

  Assyria, 65, 69

  Assyrians, 17

  Atarantes, 23

  Athena, 90 f., 129, 136, 159, 162

  Athenians, 13, 14, 21, 31, 37, 55, 89 f., 95 f., 131, 168, 174 f.

  Atlantes, 23

  Atlantic, 52

  Atlas, 23

  Atossa, 58

  Attica, 92, 93

  Atys-Attis, 137 f.

  _Autochthones_, 14, 92

  _Autonomy_, 98

  Babylon, 65, 88

  _Bacchae_, 20

  Beauty, 137

  Belloc, H., 103 f.

  Bitlis Tchai, 75

  “Black-Cloaks,” 22

  Black Sea, 18, 19, 23, 24, 79, 198

  Blake, 173

  Bomba, 50

  Bosphorus, 18, 19

  Boucher, 67

  Boudinoi, 22

  Boulis, 88

  Briareos, 124, 128

  “Bronze Men,” 25

  Burnet, 193

  Byron, 169

  Carians, 16, 17, 24, 25, 28, 46

  Catullus, 139

  Caucasus, 19

  Cecrops, 81

  Celtic Literature, 149 f.

  Chalybes, 19, 80

  “Champion’s Light,” 180 f.

  Cheirisophos, 70 f.

  Chesterton, G. K., 103 f.

  Chios, 52

  Chorus, 201 f.

  Cimmerians, 29

  Circe, 159

  Civilization, 102 f., 105 f.

  “Classical,” 147 f.

  Cleopatra, 171

  Clytaemnestra, 194 f.

  Colchians, 18, 36, 79, 198

  Coleridge, 152, 153

  Colonies, 24 f., 31, 47 f.

  Corcyra, 116 f.

  Corinth, 112 f., 168

  Corinthian Gulf, 13

  Corsica, 53

  Cretans, 46 f., 69

  Crete, 15, 16, 46 f., 122, 123, 126

  Crimea, 20, 21, 29

  Croesus, 30, 137 f.

  Cuchulain, 179 f.

  Culture Hero, 101 f.

  Cyclops, 160

  _Cypria_, 178

  Cyrene, 48, 50 f.

  Cyrus (the Great), 30, 36, 52, 58;
    (the Younger), 62 f.

  Dante, 121

  Danube, 19, 20

  Daphnis, 171

  Dardanelles, 18, 24

  Darius, 46, 54, 56 f., 85, 193

  Dead, Worship of, 91 f., 113 f.

  Delphi, 41, 50 f.

  Demaratos, 82 f., 93

  Democracy, 98 f.

  Demokêdês, 54 f.

  Demosthenes, 52, 97

  Dikaios, 92 f.

  Dionysius, 53 f.

  Dionysus, 20

  Dorians, 13, 14, 15, 17, 24, 37, 174 f.

  Dryden, 171, 185

  Earth-houses, 77 f.

  Egypt, 25, 49

  Egyptians, 18, 24, 25, 36, 56 f.

  Eighteenth century, 185

  Elea, 53

  Eleusis, 93, 96

  Eleutheria, 52 f.

  Elpênor, 191 f.

  Erechtheus, 91 f.

  Eretria, 193

  Eros, 172

  Esther, 86

  Etruria, 24

  Euboea, 37 f., 193

  Euêmeros, 122

  Euphrates, 63

  Euripides, 20, 96, 100, 101, 112, 138, 153, 173, 179, 198 f.

  Exaggeration (hyperbole), 179 f.

  Ferdiad, 181

  Fire, Theft of, 131

  Frazer, 138

  Frigidity, 176

  Gadatas, Letter to, 85

  Garamantes, 22, 23

  Gê (Gaia, Earth), 92, 124 f., 138

  Germans, 149

  Getai, 19

  Gindânes, 23

  Gods, 122 f.

  Gyes, 124, 128

  Gyges, 29 f.

  Gymnosophists, 147

  Haimon, 196

  Harpagos, 52

  Hector, 181 f.

  Hecuba, 112

  Helen, 163, 170, 182

  Hephaistos, 200

  Heracles, 100 f., 136;
    (children of), 96

  Heraclitus, 130

  Hermesianax, 172

  Herodotus, 14, 15, 20 f., 25, 48, 51, 54 f., 82, 86 f., 99, 112,
    138 f.

  Hesiod, 124 f., 156, 168, 177 f.

  Hippias, 101

  Hippokratês, 54

  Hippolytus, 199

  Hittites, 17, 123

  Homer, 15, 20, 26, 109, 122, 124, 129 f., 140 f., 155, 158 f., 172,
    189 f.

  Hope, 168

  Hydarnes, 41 f., 88 f.

  “Immortals,” The, 38, 40 f.

  India, 46, 147

  Indians, 34, 36, 46

  Iokasta, 196

  Ionia, 13 f.

  Ionians, 13 f., 37, 46 f., 53, 130, 174

  Irish, 179 f.

  Ismênê, 196 f.

  _Isonomy_, 98 f.

  Issêdones, 22

  Itanos, 48 f.

  Jason, 100, 198 f.

  Julius Caesar (in Shakespeare), 194

  _Kalevala_, 160, 165 f.

  Kallidromos, 33, 34

  Kardouchians, 72 f.

  Keats, 137, 151, 152, 154, 155, 185 f.

  Kebriones, 190

  Kentrîtês, 75

  _Keraunos_, 128 f.

  King (the Great), 85 f.;
    (Old and New), 123 f.

  Kissians, 34, 36, 38 f.

  Klearchos, 63 f.

  Korôbios, 48 f.

  Kottos, 124, 128

  Kratos, 131

  Kreon, 196 f.

  Kronos, 123, 124 f.

  Kroton, 54, 59 f.

  Ktesias, 87

  Kunaxa, 63

  Kurdistan, 71

  Kypselos, 112 f.

  Ladê, 53

  Landor, 185

  Lang, A., 161

  Law, 83 f., 100, 130 f.

  Leaf, W., 159

  Leonidas, 37, 39 f., 42, 44

  Leontios, 110

  Longfellow, 105

  Lönnrot, 165

  Love, 171 f., 199

  Lycians, 17, 37, 163

  Lydians, 17, 29 f., 35, 140 f.

  Lykophron, 114 f.

  _Mabinogion_, 154, 176

  Magic, 149 f.

  Makai, 23

  Malis, 32;
    (Gulf of), 32, 38, 40

  Marmara, Sea of, 18, 24

  Marseille, 45

  Martin, H., 168

  Medea, 100, 171

  Medes, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38 f.

  Melissa, 113 f.

  Mercenaries, 25, 28, 63

  Meredith, 109

  Mesopotamia, 24, 63

  Metis, 129, 198 f.

  Midas, 29, 140

  Miletus, 18, 24, 30, 47, 112

  Milton, 169, 184

  “Minoan” Culture, 47, 50

  Minos, 16, 55

  Mountain-Mother, 138 f.

  “Mycenaean” Culture, 15, 24, 47

  Mysians, 17, 35, 142

  Mythology (Greek), 137, 155 f., 171 f.

  Nana, 138 f.

  Napoleon, 20, 67

  Nasamônes, 22

  Neoboule, 27

  Neuroi, 21

  _Nikê_, 119 f.

  Nineveh, 69, 88

  Nomads, 21, 22, 23

  _Nomos_, 83 f., 135 f.

  Odysseus, 156, 159 f., 163, 191

  Oeta, 33, 40

  Olbia, 20

  Olympians, 129, 133, 135

  Olympic Victor, 120

  Olympus (Thessalian), 33, 129;
    (Mysian), 138, 142, 144

  Oroitês, 56

  Otanes, 99

  Ouranos, 124 f.

  Paktôlos, 138, 140

  Paros, 26, 27

  Parthian Tactics, 68

  Parysatis, 62, 65, 87

  Patriotism (Greek), 94 f.

  Pausanias, 156 f.

  Periandros, 112 f.

  Persephone, 164

  Persians, 16, 30, 32 f., 34, 59 f.

  Phaedra, 199

  Phasis, 18, 79

  “Philanthropy,” 96

  Phocians, 37, 42, 52 f.

  Phoenicians, 24, 36, 52

  Phokaia, 24, 47, 53

  Phrasikleia, 192

  Phrygians, 17, 18, 29, 35, 123, 138 f.

  Pindar, 52, 130, 153

  Pindarism, 169

  Pirates, 24

  Pisidians, 63

  Platea, 48 f.

  Plato, 98, 110, 117, 130, 137, 162, 172, 175, 193 f.

  Plutarch, 82, 87, 99, 111, 147

  Polykratês, 55 f.

  Polyneikes, 197 f.

  Prokles, 114 f.

  _Prometheia_, 130 f.

  Prometheus, 102, 131 f., 200

  Proxenos, 62 f.

  Psammetichos, 24 f.

  Pytheas, 45

  Queen-Consort, 123 f.

  Realism, 160, 186, 187 f.

  Renaissance, 184

  Restoration, 185

  Rhea, 123, 124, 126, 138

  Rhodians, 68 f., 71

  “Romantic,” 100 f., 107 f., 147 f.

  Rossetti, 152, 166

  Ruskin, 112, 163

  Russia, 19

  Salamis, 83, 92

  Salmoxis, 19

  Samians, 49 f., 55, 117

  Sappho, 152, 153, 172, 185, 200

  Sardis, 56, 62, 63, 86, 138, 140 f.

  Scotland, 45

  Scott, 61, 62

  Scythians, 20 f.

  Shakespeare, 111, 151, 154, 184, 190, 194

  Shaw, 148, 199

  Shelley, 133

  Simonides, 192 f.

  Sirens, 160

  Skylax, 46

  Socrates, 62, 67, 175, 191

  Sophocles, 110, 173, 196 f.

  _Sophrosyne_, 105 f., 135, 172

  Sosikles, 112 f.

  Spain, 24

  Spartans, 34 f., 37 f., 83, 88 f., 175, 193

  Sperthias, 88 f.

  Stone (Omphalos), 127

  Strabo, 45

  Susa, 56 f., 60, 86, 88

  Symbolism, 190 f.

  _Táin Bó Cúalnge_, 179

  Tarentum, 59

  Tartessos, 49, 51

  Tauri, 21

  Telemachus, 163

  _Tellek_, 71

  Tennyson, 186

  Thales, 30

  Thasos, 27 f.

  Thebans, 37, 43, 96 f.

  Themistocles, 92

  _Theogony_, 124, 128

  Theophrastus, 120

  Thera, 48 f.

  Thermopylae, 33 f., 193

  Theseus, 91, 96 f., 99, 100 f., 136

  Thespians, 37, 43

  Thessaly, 32

  Thracians, 18, 19 f., 36

  Thrasyboulos, 112 f.

  Thucydides, 14

  Tiara, 39

  Tigris, 64, 65, 70 f.

  Tiribazos, 75 f.

  Tissaphernes, 65 f.

  _Titanism_, 167 f.

  Titans, 122 f.

  Tragedy, Attic, 139 f., 194 f.

  Trebizond, 79

  Trinity (Primitive Religious), 123

  Troglodytes, 23

  Trojans, 182

  Tugdammi, 29 f.

  Tyranny, 99, 111, 119

  _Victorianism_, 186 f.

  Virgil, 183

  Wainamoinen, 102

  Wells, H. G., 103, 120

  Wordsworth, 185

  Xenophanês, 130

  Xenophon, 61 f.

  Xerxes, 33 f., 83, 85, 86 f., 89, 93, 97

  Yeats, W. B., 158

  Zab, 66 f.

  Zacho Dagh, 70 f.

  Zeus, 122, 123, 126 f., 128 f., 145, 157, 163

_Printed in Great Britain by_


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