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Title: A Day in Old Athens; a Picture of Athenian Life
Author: Davis, William Stearns
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Day in Old Athens; a Picture of Athenian Life" ***


A Day In Old Athens

by William Stearns Davis

Professor of Ancient History in the University of Minnesota


This little book tries to describe what an intelligent person would see
and hear in ancient Athens, if by some legerdemain he were translated
to the fourth century B.C. and conducted about the city under competent
guidance.  Rare happenings have been omitted and sometimes, to avoid
long explanations, _probable_ matters have been stated as if they were
ascertained facts; but these instances are few, and it is hoped no
reader will be led into serious error.

The year 360 B.C. has been selected for the hypothetical time of this
visit, not because of any special virtue in that date, but because
Athens was then architecturally almost perfect, her civic and her
social life seemed at their best, the democratic constitution held its
vigor, and there were few outward signs of the general decadence which
was to set in after the triumph of Macedon.

I have endeavored to state no facts and to make no allusions, that will
not be fairly obvious to a reader who has merely an elementary
knowledge of Greek annals, such information, for instance, as may be
gained through a good secondary school history of ancient times. This
naturally has led to comments and descriptions which more advanced
students may find superfluous.

The writer has been under a heavy debt to the numerous and excellent
works on Greek “Private Antiquities” and “Public Life” written in
English, French, or German, as well as to the various great Classical
Encyclopædias and Dictionaries, and to many treatises and monographs
upon the topography of Athens and upon the numerous phases of Attic
culture.  It is proper to say, however, that the material from such
secondary sources has been merely supplementary to a careful
examination of the ancient Greek writers, with the objects of this book
kept especially in view.  A sojourn in modern Athens, also, has given
me an impression of the influence of the Attic landscape upon the
conditions of old Athenian life, an impression that I have tried to
convey in this small volume.

I am deeply grateful to my sister, Mrs. Fannie Davis Gifford, for
helpful criticism of this book while in manuscript; to my wife, for
preparing the drawings from Greek vase-paintings which appear as
illustrations; and to my friend and colleague, Professor Charles A.
Savage, for a kind and careful reading of the proofs.  Thanks also are
due to Henry Holt and Company for permission to quote material from
their edition of Von Falke’s “Greece and Rome.”

W. S. D.

University of Minnesota,
Minneapolis, Minnesota.
May, 1914.


 Chapter I. The Physical Setting of Athens.
 1. The Importance of Athens in Greek History
 2. Why the Social Life of Athens is so Significant
 3. The Small Size and Sterility of Attica
 4. The Physical Beauty of Attica
 5. The Mountains of Attica
 6. The Sunlight in Attica
 7. The Topography of the City of Athens
 8. 360 B.C.—The Year of the Visit to Athens

 Chapter II. The First Sights in Athens.
 9. The Morning Crowds bound for Athens
 10. The Gate and the Street Scenes
 11. The Streets and House Fronts of Athens
 12. The Simplicity of Athenian Life

 Chapter III. The Agora and its Denizens.
 13. The Buildings around the Agora
 14. The Life in the Agora
 15. The Booths and Shops in the Agora
 16. The Flower and the Fish Vendors
 17. The Morning Visitors to the Agora
 18. The Leisured Class in Athens
 19. Familiar Types around the Agora
 20. The Barber Shops

 Chapter IV. The Athenian House and its Furnishings.
 21. Following an Athenian Gentleman Homeward
 22. The Type and Uses of a Greek House
 23. The Plan of a Greek House
 24. Modifications in the Typical Plan
 25. Rents and House Values
 26. The Simple yet Elegant Furnishings of an Athenian House

 Chapter V. The Women of Athens.
 27. How Athenian Marriages are Arranged
 28. Lack of Sentiment in Marriages
 29. Athenian Marriage Rites
 30. The Mental Horizon of Athenian Women
 31. The Honor paid Womanhood in Athens
 32. The Sphere of Action of Athenian Women

 Chapter VI. Athenian Costume.
 33. The General Nature of Greek Dress
 34. The Masculine Chiton, Himation, and Chlamys
 35. The Dress of the Women
 36. Footwear and Head Coverings
 37. The Beauty of the Greek Dress
 38. Greek Toilet Frivolities

 Chapter VII. The Slaves.
 39. Slavery an Integral Part of Greek Life
 40. The Slave Trade in Greece
 41. The Treatment of Slaves in Athens
 42. Cruel and Kind Masters
 43. The “City Slaves” of Athens

 Chapter VIII. The Children.
 44. The Desirability of Children in Athens
 45. The Exposure of Infants
 46. The Celebration of a Birth
 47. Life and Games of Young Children
 48. Playing in the Streets
 49. The First Stories and Lessons
 50. The Training of Athenian Girls

 Chapter IX. The Schoolboys of Athens.
 51. The Athenians Generally Literate
 52. Character Building the Aim of Athenian Education
 53. The Schoolboy’s Pedagogue
 54. An Athenian School
 55. The School Curriculum
 56. The Study of the Poets
 57. The Greeks do not study Foreign Languages
 58. The Study of “Music”
 59. The Moral Character of Greek Music
 60. The Teaching of Gymnastics
 61. The Habits and Ambitions of Schoolboys
 62. The “Ephebi”

 Chapter X. The Physicians of Athens.
 63. The Beginnings of Greek Medical Science
 64. Healing Shrines and their Methods
 65. An Athenian Physician’s Office
 66. The Physician’s Oath
 67. The Skill of Greek Physicians
 68. Quacks and Charlatans

 Chapter XI. The Funerals.
 69. An Athenian’s Will
 70. The Preliminaries of a Funeral
 71. Lamenting the Dead
 72. The Funeral Procession
 73. The Funeral Pyre
 74. Honors to the Memory of the Dead
 75. The Beautiful Funeral Monuments

 Chapter XII. Trade, Manufactures, and Banking.
 76. The Commercial Importance of Athens
 77. The Manufacturing Activities of Athens
 78. The Commerce of Athens
 79. The Adventurous Merchant Skippers
 80. Athenian Money-changers and Bankers
 81. A Large Banking Establishment
 82. Drawbacks to the Banking Business
 83. The Pottery of Athens
 84. Athenian Pottery an Expression of the Greek Sense of Beauty

 Chapter XIII. The Armed Forces of Athens.
 85. Military Life at Athens
 86. The Organization of the Athenian Army
 87. The Hoplites and the Light Troops
 88. The Cavalry and the Peltasts
 89. The Panoply of the Hoplites
 90. The Weapons of a Hoplite
 91. Infantry Maneuvers
 92. The Preliminaries of a Greek Battle
 93. Joining the Battle
 94. The Climax and End of the Battle
 95. The Burial Truce and the Trophy after the Battle
 96. The Siege of Fortified Towns
 97. The Introduction of New Tactics

 Chapter XIV. The Peiræus and the Shipping.
 98. The “Long Walls” down to the Harbor Town
 99. Munychia and the Havens of Athens
 100. The Glorious View from the Hill of Munychia
 101. The Town of Peiræus
 102. The Merchant Shipping
 103. The Three War Harbors and the Ship Houses
 104. The Great Naval Arsenal
 105. An Athenian Trierarch
 106. The Evolution of the Trireme
 107. The Hull of a Trireme
 108. The Rowers’ Benches of a Trireme
 109. The Cabins, Rigging, and Ram of a Trireme
 110. The Officers and Crew of a Trireme
 111. A Trireme at Sea
 112. The Tactics of a Naval Battle
 113. The Naval Strength of Athens

 Chapter XV. An Athenian Court Trial.
 114. The Frequency of Litigation in Athens
 115. Prosecutions in Athens
 116. The Preliminaries to a Trial
 117. The Athenian Jury Courts
 118. The Juryman’s Oath
 119. Opening The Trial. The Plaintiff’s Speech
 120. The Defendant’s Speech. Demonstrations by the Jury
 121. The First Verdict
 122. The Second and Final Verdict
 123. The Merits and Defects of the Athenian Courts
 124. The Usual Punishments in Athens
 125. The Heavy Penalty of Exile
 126. The Death Penalty of Athens

 Chapter XVI. The Ecclesia of Athens.
 127. The Rule of Democracy in Athens
 128. Aristocracy and Wealth. Their Status and Burdens
 129. Athenian Society truly Democratic up to a Certain Point
 130. The Voting Population of Athens
 131. Meeting Times of the Ecclesia
 132. The Pnyx (Assembly Place) at Athens
 133. The Preliminaries of the Meeting
 134. Debating a Proposition
 135. Voting at the Pnyx
 136. The Ecclesia as an Educational Instrument

 Chapter XVII. The Afternoon at the Gymnasia.
 137. The Gymnasia. Places of General Resort
 138. The Road to the Academy
 139. The Academy
 140. The Social Atmosphere and Human Types at the Academy
 141. Philosophers and Cultivated Men at the Gymnasia
 142. The Beautiful Youths at the Academy
 143. The Greek Worship of Manly Beauty
 144. The Detestation of Old Age
 145. The Greeks unite Moral and Physical Beauty
 146. The Usual Gymnastic Sports and their Objects
 147. Professional Athletes: the Pancration
 148. Leaping Contests
 149. Quoit Hurling
 150. Casting the Javelin
 151. Wrestling
 152. Foot Races
 153. The Pentathlon: the Honors paid to Great Athletes

 Chapter XVIII. Athenian Cookery and the Symposium.
 154. Greek Meal Times
 155. Society desired at Meals
 156. The Staple Articles of Food
 157. Greek Vintages
 158. Vegetable Dishes
 159. Meat and Fish Dishes
 160. Inviting Guests to a Dinner Party
 161. Preparing for the Dinner: the Sicilian Cook
 162. The Coming of the Guests
 163. The Dinner Proper
 164. Beginning the Symposium
 165. The Symposiarch and his Duties
 166. Conversation at the Symposium
 167. Games and Entertainments
 168. Going Home from the Feast: Midnight Revelers

 Chapter XIX. Country Life around Athens.
 169. The Importance of his Farm to an Athenian
 170. The Country by the Ilissus: the Greeks and Natural Beauty
 171. Plato’s Description of the Walk by the Ilissus
 172. The Athenian Love of Country Life
 173. Some Features of the Attic Country
 174. An Attic Farmstead
 175. Plowing, Reaping, and Threshing
 176. Grinding at the Mill
 177. The Olive Orchards
 178. The Vineyards
 179. Cattle, Sheep, and Goats
 180. The Gardens and the Shrine

 Chapter XX. The Temples and Gods of Athens.
 181. Certain Factors in Athenian Religion
 182. What constitutes “Piety” in Athens
 183. The Average Athenians Idea of the Gods
 184. Most Greeks without Belief in Immortality
 185. The Multitude of Images of the Gods
 186. Greek Superstition
 187. Consulting Omens
 188. The Great Oracles
 189. Greek Sacrifices
 190. The Route to the Acropolis
 191. The Acropolis of Athens
 192. The Use of Color Upon Athenian Architecture and Sculptures
 193. The Chief Buildings on the Acropolis
 194. The Parthenon
 195. A Sacrifice on the Acropolis
 196. The Interior of the Parthenon and the Great Image of Athena
 197. Greek Prayers

 Chapter XXI. The Great Festival of Athens.
 198. The Frequent Festivals in Athens
 199. The Eleusinia
 200. The Holy Procession to Eleusis
 201. The Mysteries of Eleusis
 202. The Greater Dionysia and the Drama
 203. The Theater of Dionysus
 204. The Production of a Play
 205. The Great Panathenaic Procession
 206. The View from the Temple of Wingless Victory


[Illustration: Athenian Acropolis]

Maps, Plans, and Illustrations.

  1. Athenian Acropolis
  2. Sketch Map of Attica
  3. Sketch Map of Athens
  4. Peasant going to Market
  5. At the Street Fountain
  6. A Wayside Herm
  7. A Carpenter
  8. Conjectural Plan for the house of a Wealthy Athenian
  9. Spinning
 10. The Maternal Slipper
 11. Athenian Funeral Monument
 12. At the Smithy
 13. Hoplite in Armor
 14. The Town of Peiræus and the Harbors of Athens
 15. Fishermen
 16. An Athenian Trireme
 17. The Race in Armor
 18. Itinerant Piper with his Dog
 19. Women pounding Meal
 20. Gathering the Olive Harvest
 21. Rural Sacrifice to a Wooden Statue of Dionysus
 22. Sketch Map of the Acropolis of Athens
 23. Sacrificing a Pig
 24. Athena Parthenos
 25. Comic Actors dressed as Ostriches
 26. Actor in Costume as a Fury

A Day in Old Athens

Chapter I.
The Physical Setting of Athens.

1. The Importance of Athens in Greek History.—To three ancient nations
the men of the twentieth century owe an incalculable debt. To the Jews
we owe most of our notions of religion; to the Romans we owe traditions
and examples in law, administration, and the general management of
human affairs which still keep their influence and value; and finally,
to the Greeks we owe nearly all our ideas as to the fundamentals of
art, literature, and philosophy, in fact, of almost the whole of our
intellectual life.  These Greeks, however, our histories promptly teach
us, did not form a single unified nation.  They lived in many
“city-states” of more or less importance, and some of the largest of
these contributed very little directly to our civilization.  Sparta,
for example, has left us some noble lessons in simple living and
devoted patriotism, but hardly a single great poet, and certainly never
a philosopher or sculptor.  When we examine closely, we see that the
civilized life of Greece, during the centuries when she was
accomplishing the most, was peculiarly centered at Athens.  Without
Athens, Greek history would lose three quarters of its significance,
and modern life and thought would become infinitely the poorer.

2. Why the Social Life of Athens is so Significant.—Because, then, the
contributions of Athens to our own life are so important, because they
touch (as a Greek would say) upon almost every side of “the true, the
beautiful, and the good,” it is obvious that the outward conditions
under which this Athenian genius developed deserve our respectful
attention.  For assuredly such personages as Sophocles, Plato, and
Phidias were not isolated creatures, who developed their genius apart
from, or in spite of, the life about them, but rather were the ripe
products of a society, which in its excellences and weaknesses presents
some of the most interesting pictures and examples in the world.  To
understand the Athenian civilization and genius it is not enough to
know the outward history of the times, the wars, the laws, and the
lawmakers.  We must see Athens as the average man saw it and lived in
it from day to day, and _then_ perhaps we can partially understand how
it was that during the brief but wonderful era of Athenian freedom and
prosperity[*], Athens was able to produce so many men of commanding
genius as to win for her a place in the history of civilization which
she can never lose.

[*] That era may be assumed to begin with the battle of Marathon (490
B.C.), and it certainly ended in 322 B.C., when Athens passed
decisively under the power of Macedonia; although since the battle of
Chæroneia (338 B.C.) she had done little more than keep her liberty on

3. The Small Size and Sterility of Attica.—Attica was a very small
country according to modern notions, and Athens the only large city
therein.  The land barely covered some 700 square miles, with 40 square
miles more, if one includes the dependent island of Salamis. It was
thus far smaller than the smallest of our American “states” (Rhode
Island = 1250 square miles), and was not so large as many American
counties.  It was really a triangle of rocky, hill-scarred land thrust
out into the Ægean Sea, as if it were a sort of continuation of the
more level district of Bœotia. Yet small as it was, the hills inclosing
it to the west, the seas pressing it form the northeast and south, gave
it a unity and isolation all its own. Attica was not an island; but it
could be invaded only by sea, or by forcing the resistance which could
be offered at the steep mountain passes towards Bœotia or Megara. 
Attica was thus distinctly separated from the rest of Greece.  Legends
told how, when the half-savage Dorians had forced themselves southward
over the mainland, they had never penetrated into Attica; and the
Athenians later prided themselves upon being no colonists from afar,
but upon being “earth-sprung,”—natives of the soil which they and their
twenty-times grandfathers had held before them.

[Illustration:  Sketch map of Attica]

This triangle of Attica had its peculiar shortcomings and virtues. It
was for the most part stony and unfertile.  Only a shallow layer of
good soil covered a part of its hard foundation rock, which often in
turn lay bare on the surface.  The Athenian farmer had a sturdy
struggle to win a scanty crop, and about the only products he could
ever raise in abundance for export were olives (which seemed to thrive
on scanty soil and scanty rainfall) and honey, the work of the mountain

4. The Physical Beauty of Attica.—Yet Attica had advantages which more
than counterbalanced this grudging of fertility.  All Greece, to be
sure, was favored by the natural beauty of its atmosphere, seas, and
mountains, but Attica was perhaps the most favored portion of all,
Around her coasts, rocky often and broken by pebbly beaches and little
craggy peninsulas, surged the deep blue Ægean, the most glorious
expanse of ocean in the world.  Far away spread the azure
water[*],—often foam-crested and sometimes alive with the dolphins
leaping at their play,—reaching towards a shimmering sky line where
rose “the isles of Greece,” masses of green foliage, or else of tawny
rock, scattered afar, to adapt the words of Homer, “like shields laid
on the face of the glancing deep.”

[*] The peculiar blueness of the water near Attica is probably caused
by the clear rocky bottom of the sea, as well as by the intensity of
the sunlight.

Above the sea spread the noble arch of the heavens,—the atmosphere
often dazzlingly bright, and carrying its glamour and sparkle almost
into the hearts of men.  The Athenians were proud of the air about
their land.  Their poets gladly sung its praises, as, for example,
Euripides[*], when he tells how his fellow countrymen enjoy being—

Ever through air clear shining brightly
As on wings uplifted, pacing lightly.

[*] Medea:829.

5. The Mountains of Attica.—The third great element, besides the sea
and the atmosphere of Athens, was the mountains.  One after another the
bold hills reared themselves, cutting short all the plainlands and
making the farmsteads often a matter of slopes and terraces.  Against
the radiant heavens these mountains stood out boldly, clearly;
revealing all the little gashes and seams left from that long-forgotten
day when they were flung forth from the bowels of the earth.  None of
these mountains was very high:  Hymettus, the greatest, was only about
3500 feet; but rising as they often did from a close proximity to the
sea, and not from a dwarfing table-land, even the lower hills uplifted
themselves with proud majesty.

These hills were of innumerable tints according to their rocks, the hue
of the neighboring sea, and the hour of the day.  In spring they would
be clothed in verdant green, which would vanish before the summer
heats, leaving them rosy brown or gray.  But whatever the fundamental
tone, it was always brilliant; for the Athenians lived in a land where
blue sky, blue sea, and the massive rock blent together into such a
galaxy of shifting color, that, in comparison, the lighting of almost
any northern or western landscape would seem feeble and tame.  The
Athenians absorbed natural beauty with their native air.

6. The Sunlight in Athens.—The Athenian loved sunshine, and Helios the
Sun God was gracious to his prayers.  In the Athens of to-day it is
reckoned that the year averages 179 days in which the sun is not
concealed by clouds one instant; and 157 days more when the sun is not
hidden more than half an hour[*].  Ancient Athens was surely not more
cloudy.  Nevertheless, despite this constant sunshine and a southern
latitude, Athens was stricken relatively seldom with semitropical heat.
 The sea was a good friend, bringing tempering breezes.  In the short
winter there might be a little frost, a little snow, and a fair supply
of rain.  For the rest of the year, one golden day was wont to succeed
another, with the sun and the sea breeze in ever friendly rivalry.

[*] The reason for these many clear days is probably because when the
moist west and southwest winds come in contact with the dry, heated air
of the Attic plain, they are at once volatilized and dispersed, not
condensed (as in northern lands); therefore the day resolves itself
into brilliant sunshine.

The climate saved the Athenians from being obliged to wage a stern
warfare with nature as did the northern peoples.  Their life and
civilization could be one developed essentially “in the open air”;
while, on the other hand, the bracing sea breeze saved them from that
enervating lethargy which has ruined so many southern folk. The scanty
soil forced them to struggle hard to win a living; unless they yielded
to the constant beckoning of the ocean, and sought food, adventure,
wealth, and a great empire across the seas.

7. The Topography of the City of Athens.—So much for the land of Attica
in general; but what of the setting of the city of Athens itself?  The
city lay in a plain, somewhat in the south central part of Attica, and
about four miles back from the sea.  A number of mountains came
together to form an irregular rectangle with the Saronic Gulf upon the
south.  To the east of Athens stretched the long gnarled ridge of
Hymettus, the wildest and grayest mountain in Attica, the home of bees
and goatherds, and (if there be faith in pious legend) of innumerable
nymphs and satyrs.  To the west ran the lower, browner mountains,
Ægaleos, across which a road (the “Sacred Way”) wound through an easy
pass towards Eleusis, the only sizable town in Attica, outside of
Athens and its harbors.  To the rear of the plain rose a noble pyramid,
less jagged than Hymettus, more lordly than Ægaleos; its summits were
fretted with a white which turned to clear rose color under the sunset.
 This was Pentelicus, from the veins whereof came the lustrous marble
for the master sculptor.  Closer at hand, nearer the center of the
plain, rose a small and very isolated hill,—Lycabettus, whose peaked
summit looked down upon the roofs of Athens.  And last, but never
least, about one mile southwest of Lycabettus, upreared a natural
monument of much greater frame,—not a hill, but a colossal rock.  Its
shape was that of an irregular oval; it was about 1000 feet long, 500
feet wide, and its level summit stood 350 feet above the plain. This
steep, tawny rock, flung by the Titans, one might dream, into the midst
of the Attic plain, formed one of the most famous sites in the world,
for it was the Acropolis of Athens.  Its full significance, however,
must be explained later.  From the Acropolis and a few lesser hills
close by, the land sloped gently down towards the harbors and the
Saronic Bay.

[Illustration: Sketch map of Athens]

These were the great features of the outward setting of Athens.  One
might add to them the long belt of dark green olive groves winding down
the westward side of the plain, where the Cephisus (which along among
Attic rivulets did not run dry in summer) ran down to the sea.  There
was also a shorter olive belt west of the city, where the weaker
Ilissus crept, before it lost itself amid the thirsty fields.

Sea, rock, and sky, then, joined together around Athens as around
almost no other city in the world.  The landscape itself was adjusted
to the eye with marvelous harmony.  The colors and contours formed one
glorious model for the sculptor and the painter, one perpetual
inspiration for the poet.  Even if Athens had never been the seat of a
famous race, she would have won fame as being situated in one of the
most beautiful localities in the world.  Rightly, therefore, did its
dwellers boast of their city as the “Violet-crowned” (_Iostephanos_).

8. 360 B.C.—The Year of the Visit to Athens.—This city let us visit in
the days of its greatest outward glory.  We may select the year 360
B.C.  At that time Athens had recovered from the ravages of the
Peloponnesian War, while the Macedonian peril had not as yet become
menacing.  The great public buildings were nearly all completed.  No
signs of material decadence were visible, and if Athens no longer
possessed the wide naval empire of the days of Pericles, her fleets and
her armies were still formidable.  The harbors were full of commerce;
the philosophers were teaching their pupils in the groves and
porticoes; the democratic constitution was entirely intact.  With
intelligent vision we will enter the city and look about us.

Chapter II.
The First Sights in Athens.

9. The Morning Crowds bound for Athens.—It is very early in the
morning.  The sun has just pushed above the long ridge of Hymettus,
sending a slanting red bar of light across the Attic plain, and
touching the opposite slopes of Ægaleos with livid fire.  Already,
however, life is stirring outside the city.  Long since, little market
boats have rowed across the narrow strait from Salamis, bringing the
island farmer’s produce, and other farmers from the plain and the
mountain slopes have started for market.  In the ruddy light the marble
temples on the lofty Acropolis rising ahead of these hurrying rustics
are standing out clearly; the spear and helmet of the great brazen
statue of the Athena Promachos are flashing from the noble citadel, as
a kind of day beacon, beckoning onward toward the city.  From the
Peiræus, the harbor town, a confused hum of mariners lading and
unlading vessels is even now rising, but we cannot turn ourselves
thither.  Our route is to follow the farmers bound for market.

The most direct road from the Peiræus to Athens is hidden indeed, for
it leads between the towering ramparts of the “Long Walls,” two mighty
barriers which run parallel almost four miles from the inland city to
the harbor, giving a guarded passage in wartime and making Athens safe
against starvation from any land blockade; but there is an outside road
leading also to Athens from the western farmsteads, and this we can
conveniently follow.  Upon this route the crowd which one meets is
certainly not aristocratic, but it is none the less Athenian.  Here
goes a drover, clad in skins, his legs wound with woolen bands in lieu
of stockings; before him and his wolf-like dog shambles a flock of
black sheep or less manageable goats, bleating and baaing as they are
propelled toward market. After him there may come an unkempt,
long-bearded farmer flogging on a pack ass or a mule attached to a
clumsy cart with solid wheels, and laden with all kinds of market
produce.  The roadway, be it said, is not good, and all carters have
their troubles; therefore, there is a deal of gesticulating and profane
invocation of Hermes and all other gods of traffic; for, early as it
is, the market place is already filling, and every delay promises a
loss.  There are still other companions bound toward the city: 
countrymen bearing cages of poultry; others engaged in the uncertain
calling of driving pigs; swarthy Oriental sailors, with rings in their
ears, bearing bales of Phœnician goods from the Peiræus; respectable
country gentlemen, walking gravely in their best white mantles and
striving to avoid the mud and contamination; and perhaps also a small
company of soldiers, just back from foreign service, passes, clattering
shields and spear staves.

[Illustration: Peasant going to Market]

10. The Gate and the Street Scenes.—The crowds grow denser as everybody
approaches the frequented “Peiræus Gate,” for nearly all of Attica
which lies within easy reach of Athens has business in the Market Place
every morning.  On passing the gate a fairly straight way leads through
the city to the market, but progress for the multitude becomes slow. 
If it is one of the main thoroughfares, it is now very likely to be
almost blocked with people.  There are few late risers at Athens; the
Council of Five Hundred[*], the huge Jury Courts, and the Public
Assembly (if it has met to-day[+]) are appointed to gather at sunrise. 
The plays in the theater, which, however, are given only on certain
festivals, begin likewise at sunrise.  The philosophers say that “the
man who would accomplish great things must be up while yet it is dark.”
 Athenians, therefore, are always awake and stirring at an hour when
men of later ages and more cold and foggy climes will be painfully
yawning ere getting out of bed.

[*] The “Boule,” the great standing committee of the Athenian people to
aid the magistrates in the government.

[+] In which case, of course, the regular courts and the Council would
hardly meet.

[Illustration: At the Street Fountain]

The Market Place attracts the great masses, but by no means all; hither
and thither bevies of sturdy slave girls, carrying graceful pitchers on
their heads, are hurrying towards the fountains which gush cool water
at most of the street corners.  Theirs is a highly necessary task, for
few or no houses have their own water supply; and around each fountain
one can see half a dozen by no means slatternly maidens, splashing and
flirting the water one at another, while they wait their turn with the
pitchers, and laugh and exchange banter with the passing farmers’ lads.
 Many in the street crowds are rosy-cheeked schoolboys, walking
decorously, if they are lads of good breeding, and blushing modestly
when they are greeted by their fathers’ acquaintances.  They do not
loiter on the way. Close behind, carrying their writing tablets, follow
the faithful ‘pedagogues,’ the body-servants appointed to conduct them
to school, give them informal instruction, and, if need be, correct
their faults in no painless manner.  Besides the water maids and the
schoolboys, from the innumerable house doors now opening the respective
masters are stepping forth—followed by one, two, or several serving
varlets, as many as their wealth affords.  All these join in the crowd
entering from the country.  “Athenian democracy” always implies a
goodly amount of hustling and pushing. No wonder the ways are a busy

11. The Streets and House Fronts of Athens.—Progress is slower near the
Market Place because of the extreme narrowness of the streets. They are
only fifteen feet wide or even less,—intolerable alleys a later age
would call them,—and dirty to boot.  Sometimes they are muddy, more
often extremely dusty.  Worse still, they are contaminated by great
accumulations of filth; for the city is without an efficient sewer
system or regular scavengers.  Even as the crowd elbows along, a house
door will frequently open, an ill-favored slave boy show his head, and
with the yell, “Out of the way!” slap a bucket of dirty water into the
street.  There are many things to offend the nose as well as the eyes
of men of a later race.  It is fortunate indeed that the Athenians are
otherwise a healthy folk, or they would seem liable to perpetual
pestilence; even so, great plagues have in past years harried the

[*] The most fearful thereof was the great plague of 430 B.C. (during
the Peloponnesian War), which nearly ruined Athens.

The first entrance to Athens will thus bring to a stranger, full of the
city’s fame and expectant of meeting objects of beauty at every turn,
almost instant disappointment.  The narrow, dirty, ill-paved streets
are also very crooked.  One can readily be lost in a labyrinth of
filthy little lanes the moment one quits the few main thoroughfares. 
High over head, to be sure, the red crags of the Acropolis may be
towering, crowned with the red, gold, and white tinted marble of the
temples, but all around seems only monotonous squalor.  The houses seem
one continuous series of blank walls; mostly of one, occasionally of
two stories, and with flat roofs. These walls are usually spread over
with some dirty gray or perhaps yellow stucco.  For most houses, the
only break in the street walls are the simple doors, all jealously
barred and admitting no glance within.  There are usually no street
windows, if the house is only one story high.  If it has two stories, a
few narrow slits above the way may hint that here are the apartments
for the slaves or women.  There are no street numbers.  There are often
no street names.  “So-and-so lives in such-and-such a quarter, near the
Temple of Heracles;” that will enable you to find a householder, after
a few tactful questions from the neighbors; and after all, Athens is a
relatively small city[*] (as great cities are reckoned), very closely
built, and her regular denizens do not feel the need of a directory.

[* ]Every guess at the population of Athens rests on mere conjecture;
yet, using the scanty data which we possess, it seems possible that
_the population of all Attica_ at the height of its prosperity was
about _200,000 free persons_ (including the _metics_—resident
foreigners without citizenship); and a rather smaller number of
slaves—say 150,000 or less.  Of this total of some 350,000, probably
something under one half resided in the city of Athens during times of
peace, the rest in the outlying farms and villages.  _Athens may be
imagined as a city of about 150,000_—possibly a trifle more. During
serious wars there would be of course a general removal into the city.

So the crowd elbows its way onward:  now thinning, now gaining, but the
main stream always working towards the Market Place.

12.  The Simplicity of Athenian Life.—It is clear we are entering a
city where nine tenths of what the twentieth century will consider the
“essential conveniences” of life are entirely lacking; where men are
trying to be civilized—or, as the Greeks would say, to lay hold upon
“the true, the beautiful, and the good,” without even the absolute
minimum of those things which people of a later age will believe
separate a “civilized man” from a “barbarian.”  The gulf between old
Athens and, for instance, new Chicago is greater than is readily
supposed[*].  It is easy enough to say that the Athenians lacked such
things as railways, telephones, gas, grapefruit, and cocktails.  All
such matters we realize were not known by our fathers and grandfathers,
and we are not yet so removed from _them_ that we cannot transport
ourselves in imagination back to the world of say 1820 A.D.; but the
Athenians are far behind even our grandfathers.  When we investigate,
we will find conditions like these—houses absolutely without plumbing,
beds without sheets, rooms as hot or as cold as the outer air, only far
more drafty.  We must cross rivers without bridges; we must fasten our
clothes (or rather our “two pieces of cloth”) with two pins instead of
with a row of buttons; we must wear sandals without stockings (or go
barefoot); must warm ourselves over a pot of ashes; judge plays or
lawsuits on a cold winter morning sitting in the open air; we must
study poetry with very little aid from books, geography without real
maps, and politics without newspapers; and lastly, “we must learn how
to be civilized without being comfortable!”[+]

[*] See the very significant comment on the physical limitations of the
old Athenian life in Zimmern’s “_The Greek Commonwealth_,” p. 209.

[+] Zimmern, _ibid_.

Or, to reverse the case:  we must understand that an Athenian would
have pronounced our boasted “civilization” hopelessly artificial, and
our life so dependent on outward material props and factors as to be
scarcely worth the living.  He would declare himself well able to live
happily under conditions where the average American or Englishman would
be cold, semi-starved, and miserable.  He would declare that _his_ woe
or happiness was retained far more under his own control than we retain
ours, and that we are worthy of contemptuous pity rather than of
admiration, because we have refined our civilization to such a point
that the least accident, _e.g._ the suspension of rail traffic for a
few days, can reduce a modern city to acute wretchedness.

Probably neither the twentieth century in its pride, nor the fourth
century B.C. in its contempt, would have all the truth upon its
side.[*]  The difference in viewpoint, however, must still stand.
Preëminently Athens may be called the “City of the Simple Life.”
Bearing this fact in mind, we may follow the multitude and enter the
Marketplace; or, to use the name that stamps it as a peculiarly Greek
institution,—the Agora.

[*] The mere matter of _climate_ would of course have to come in as a
serious factor.  The Athenian would have found his life becoming
infinitely more complex along the material side when he tried to live
like a “_kalos-k’agathos_”—_i.e._ a “noble and good man,” or a
“gentleman,”—in a land where the thermometer might sink to 15° below
zero Fahrenheit (or even lower) from time to time during the winter.

Chapter III.
The Agora and its Denizens.

13.  The Buildings around the Agora.—Full market time![*]  The great
plaza of the Agora is buzzing with life.  The contrast between the
dingy, dirty streets and this magnificent public plaza is startling.
The Athenians manifestly care little for merely private display, rather
they frown upon it; their wealth, patriotism, and best artistic energy
seem all lavished upon their civic establishments and buildings.

[*] Between nine and twelve A.M.

The Agora is a square of spacious dimensions, planted here and there
with graceful bay trees.  Its greatest length runs north and south. 
Ignoring for the time the teeming noisy swarms of humanity, let our
eyes be directed merely upon the encircling buildings.  The place is
almost completely enclosed by them, although not all are of equal
elegance or pretension.  Some are temples of more or less size, like
the temple of the “Paternal Apollo” near the southwestern angle; or the
“Metroön,” the fane of Cybele “the Great Mother of the Gods,” upon the
south.  Others are governmental buildings; somewhat behind the Metroön
rise the imposing pillars of the Council House, where the Five Hundred
are deliberating on the policy of Athens; and hard by that is the
Tholos, the “Round House,” with a peaked, umbrella-shaped roof, beneath
which the sacred public hearth fire is ever kept burning, and where the
presiding Committee of the Council[*] and certain high officials take
their meals, and a good deal of state business is transacted.  The
majority of these buildings upon the Agora, however, are covered
promenades, porticoes, or stoæ.

[*] This select committee was known technically as the “_Prytanes_.”

The stoæ are combinations of rain shelters, shops, picture galleries,
and public offices.  Turn under the pillars of the “Royal Stoa” upon
the west, and you are among the whispering, nudging, intent crowd of
listeners, pushing against the barriers of a low court. Long rows of
jurors are sitting on their benches; the “King Archon” is on the
president’s stand, and some poor wight is being arraigned on a charge
of “Impiety”[*]; while on the walls behind stand graved and ancient
laws of Draco and Solon.

[*] The so-called “King Archon” had special cognizance of most cases
involving religious questions; and his court was in this stoa.

[Illustration: A Wayside Herm]

Cross the square, and on the opposite side is one of the most
magnificent of the porticoes, the “Painted Porch” (“_Stoa Poikilë_”), a
long covered walk, a delightful refuge alike from sun and rain. Almost
the entire length of the inner walls (for it has columns only on the
side of the Agora) is covered with vivid frescoes.  Here Polygnotus and
other master painters have spread out the whole legendary story of the
capture of Troy and of the defeat of the Amazons; likewise the more
historical tale of the battle of Marathon. Yet another promenade, the
“Stoa of Zeus,” is sacred to Zeus, Giver of Freedom.  The walls are not
frescoed, but hung with the shields of valiant Athenian warriors.

In the open spaces of the plaza itself are various altars, _e.g._ to
the “Twelve Gods,” and innumerable statues of local worthies, as of
Harmodius and Aristogeiton, the tyrant-slayers; while across the
center, cutting the Market Place from east to west, runs a line of
stone posts, each surmounted with a rude bearded head of Hermes, the
trader’s god; and each with its base plastered many times over with all
kinds of official and private placards and notices.

14.  The Life in the Agora.—So much for the physical setting of the
Agora:  of far greater interest surely are the people.  The whole
square is abounding with noisy activity.  If an Athenian has no actual
business to transact, he will at least go to the Agora to get the
morning news.  Two turns under the “Painted Porch” will tell him the
last rumor as to the foreign policy of Thebes;  whether it is true that
old King Agesilaus has died at Sparta; whether corn is likely to be
high, owning to a failure of crops in the Euxine (Black Sea) region;
whether the “Great King” of Persia is prospering in his campaign
against Egypt.  The crowd is mostly clad in white, though often the
cloaks of the humbler visitors are dirty, but there is a sprinkling of
gay colors,—blue, orange, and pink.  Everybody is talking at once in
melodious Attic; everybody (since they are all true children of the
south) is gesticulating at once.  To the babel of human voices is added
the wheezing whistle of donkeys, the squealing of pigs, the cackle of
poultry.  Besides, from many of the little factories and workshops on
or near the Agora a great din is rising.  The clamor is prodigious. 
Criers are stalking up and down the square, one bawling out that
Andocides has lost a valuable ring and will pay well to recover it;
another the Pheidon has a desirable horse that he will sell cheap.  One
must stand still for some moments and let eye and ear accustom
themselves to such utter confusion.

15.  The Booths and Shops in the Agora.—At length out of the chaos
there seems to emerge a certain order.  The major part of the square is
covered with little booths of boards and wicker work, very frail and
able to be folded up, probably every night.  There are little lanes
winding amid these booths; and each manner of huckster has its own
especial “circle” or section of the market.  “Go to the wine,” “to the
fish,” “to the myrtles” (_i.e._ the flowers), are common directions for
finding difficult parts of the Agora.  Trade is mostly on a small
scale,—the stock of each vendor is distinctly limited in its range, and
Athens is without “department stores.”  Behind each low counter, laden
with its wares, stands the proprietor, who keeps up a din from leathern
lungs:  “Buy my oil!”  “Buy charcoal!” “Buy sausage!” etc., until he is
temporarily silenced while dealing with a customer.

[Illustration: A Carpenter]

In one “circle” may be found onions and garlic (a favorite food of the
poor); a little further on are the dealers in wine, fruit, and garden
produce.  Lentils and peas can be had either raw, or cooked and ready
to eat on the spot.  An important center is the bread market.  The huge
cylindrical loaves are handed out by shrewd old women with proverbially
long tongues.  Whosoever upsets one of their delicately balanced piles
of loaves is certain of an artistic tongue lashing.  Elsewhere there is
a pottery market, a clothes market, and, nearer the edge of the Agora,
are “circles,” where objects of real value are sold, like jewelry,
chariots, good furniture.  In certain sections, too, may be seen
strong-voiced individuals, with little trays swung by straps before
them, pacing to and fro, and calling out, not foods, but medicines,
infallible cure-alls for every human distemper.  Many are the unwary
fools who patronize them.

16.  The Flower and the Fish Vendors.—Two circles attract especial
attention, the Myrtles and the Fish.  Flowers and foliage, especially
when made up into garlands, are absolutely indispensable to the average
Greek.  Has he a great family festival, _e.g._ the birth of a son, then
every guest should wear a crown of olives; is it a wedding, then one of
flowers.[*]  Oak-leaves do the honors for Zeus; laurel for Apollo;
myrtle for Aphrodite (and is not the Love-Goddess the favorite?).  To
have a social gathering without garlands, in short, is impossible.  The
flower girls of Athens are beautiful, impudent, and not at all prudish.
 Around their booths press bold-tongued youths, and not too discreet
sires; and the girls can call everybody familiarly by name.  Very
possibly along with the sale of the garlands they make arrangements (if
the banquet is to be of the less respectable kind) to be present in the
evening themselves, perhaps in the capacity of flute girls.

[*] The Greeks lacked many of our common flowers.  Their ordinary
flowers were white violets, narcissus, lilies, crocuses, blue
hyacinths, and roses (“the Flower of Zeus”).  The usual garland was
made of myrtle or ivy and then entwined with various flowers.

More reputable, though not less noisy, is the fish market.  Athenians
boast themselves of being no hearty “meat eaters” like their Bœotian
neighbors, but of preferring the more delicate fish.  No dinner party
is successful without a seasonable course of fish.  The arrival of a
fresh cargo from the harbor is announced by the clanging of a bell,
which is likely to leave all the other booths deserted, while a crowd
elbows around the fishmonger.  He above all others commands the
greatest flow of billingsgate, and is especially notorious for his
arrogant treatment of his customers, and for exacting the uttermost
farthing.  The “Fish” and the “Myrtles” can be sure of a brisk trade on
days when all the other booth keepers around the Agora stand idle.

All this trade, of course, cannot find room in the booths of the open
Agora.  Many hucksters sit on their haunches on the level ground with
their few wares spread before them.  Many more have little stands
between the pillars of the stoæ; and upon the various streets that
converge on the market there is a fringe of shops, but these are
usually of the more substantial sort.  Here are the barbers’ shops, the
physicians’ offices (if the good leech is more than an itinerant
quack), and all sorts of little factories, such as smithies, where the
cutler’s apprentices in the rear of the shop forge the knives which the
proprietor sells over the counter, the slave repositories, and finally
wine establishments of no high repute, where wine may not merely be
bought by the skin (as in the main Agora), but by the potful to be
drunk on the premises.

17.  The Morning Visitors to the Agora.—The first tour of inspection
completed, several facts become clear to the visitor.  One is the
extraordinarily large proportion of _men_ among the moving multitudes.
Except for the bread women and the flower girls, hardly one female is
to be found among the sellers.  Among the purchasers there is not a
single reputable lady.  No Athenian gentlewoman dreams of frequenting
the Agora.  Even a poor man’s wife prefers to let her spouse do the
family marketing.  As for the “men folk,” the average gentleman will go
daily indeed to the Agora, but if he is really pretentious, it will be
merely to gossip and to meet his friends; a trusted servant will attend
to the regular purchasing.  Only when an important dinner party is on
hand will the master take pains to order for himself.  If he does
purchase in person, he will never _carry_ anything himself.  The slaves
can attend to that; and only the slaveless (the poorest of all) must
take away their modest rations of boiled lentils, peas, beans, onions,
and garlic, usually in baskets, though yonder now is a soldier who is
bearing off a measure of boiled peas inside his helmet.

Another thing is striking.  The average poor Athenian seems to have no
purse.  Or rather he uses the purse provided by nature.  At every booth
one can see unkempt buyers solemnly taking their small change from
their mouths.[*]  Happy the people that has not learned the twentieth
century wisdom concerning microbes!  For most Athenians seem
marvelously healthy.

[*] A wealthier purchaser would, of course, have his own pouch, or more
probably one carried for him by a slave.

Still one other fact is brought home constantly.  “Fixed prices” are
absolutely unknown.  The slightest transaction involves a war of
bargaining.  Wits are matched against wits, and only after a vast deal
of wind do buyer and seller reach a fair compromise.  All this makes
retail trade in the Agora an excellent school for public affairs or

18.  The Leisured Class in Athens.—Evidently Athens, more than many
later-day cities, draws clear lines between the workers and the
“gentlemen of leisure.”  There is no distinction of dress between the
numerous slaves and the humbler free workers and traders; but there is
obvious distinction between the artisan of bent shoulders who shambles
out of yonder pungent tannery, with his scant garments girded around
him, and the graceful gentleman of easy gestures and flowing drapery
who moves towards the Tholos.  There is great _political_ democracy in
Athens, but not so much _social_ democracy. “Leisure,” _i.e._ exemption
from every kind of sordid, money-getting, hard work, is counted the
true essential for a respectable existence, and to live on the effort
of others and to devote oneself to public service or to letters and
philosophy is the open satisfaction or the private longing of every

A great proportion of these, therefore, who frequent the Agora are not
here on practical business, unless they have official duties at the
government offices.[*]  But in no city of any age has the gracious art
of doing nothing been brought to such perfection. The Athenians are an
intensely gregarious people.  Everybody knows everybody else.  Says an
orator, “It is impossible for a man to be either a rascal or an honest
man in this city without your all knowing it.”  Few men walk long
alone; if they do keep their own company, they are frowned on as
“misanthropes.”  The morning visit to the Agora “to tell or to hear
some new thing”[+] will be followed by equally delightful idling and
conversation later in the day at the Gymnasia, and later still,
probably, at the dinner-party.  Easy and unconventional are the
personal greetings.  A little shaking out of the mantle, an
indescribable flourish with the hands.  A free Greek will despise
himself for “bowing,” even to the Great King.  To clasp hands implies
exchanging a pledge, something for more than mere salutation.

“_Chaire_, Aristomenes!”

“_Chaire_, Cleandros!”

Such is the usual greeting, using an expressive word which can mean
equally well “hail!” and “farewell!”

[*] To serve the state in any official capacity (usually without any
salary attached to the office) would give the highest satisfaction to
any Greek.  The desire for participation in public affairs might be
described as a mania.

[+] Acts of the Apostles, 17:21.

19.  Familiar Types around the Agora.—These animated, eager-faced men
whose mantles fall in statuesque folds prefer obviously to walk under
the Painted Porch, or the blue roof of heaven, while they evolve their
philosophies, mature their political schemes, or organize the material
for their orations and dramas, rather than to bend over desks within
close offices.  Around the Athenian Agora, a true type of this
preference, and busy with this delightful idleness, half a century
earlier could have been seen a droll figure with “indescribable nose,
bald head, round body, eyes rolling and twinkling with good humor,”
scantily clad,—an incorrigible do-nothing, windbag, and hanger-on, a
later century might assert,—yet history has given to him the name of

Not all Athenians, of course, make such justifiable use of their
idleness.  There are plenty of young men parading around in long
trailing robes, their hair oiled and curled most effeminately, their
fingers glittering with jewels,—“ring-loaded, curly-locked coxcombs,”
Aristophanes, the comic poet, has called them,—and they are here only
for silly display.  Also there are many of their elders who have no
philosophy or wit to justify their continuous talking; nevertheless,
all considered, it must be admitted that the Athenian makes a use of
their dearly loved “leisure,” which men of a more pragmatic race will
do well to consider as the fair equivalent of much frantic zeal for
“business.”  Athenian “leisure” has already given the world Pericles,
Thucydides, Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Socrates, and Plato, not to
name such artists as Phidias, whose profession cannot exempt them from
a certain manual occupation.

20.  The Barber Shops.—This habit of genteel idleness naturally
develops various peculiar institutions.  For example, the barber shops
are almost club rooms.  Few Hellenes at this time shave their
beards[*], but to go with unkempt whiskers and with too long hair is
most disgraceful.  The barber shops, booths, or little rooms let into
the street walls of the houses, are therefore much frequented. The good
tonsors have all the usual arts.  They can dye gray hair brown or
black; they can wave or curl their patrons’ locks (and an artificially
curled head is no disgrace to a man).  Especially, they keep a good
supply of strong perfumes; for many people will want a little scent on
their hair each morning, even if they wish no other attention.  But it
is not an imposition to a barber to enter his shop, yet never move
towards his low stool before the shining steel mirror.  Anybody is
welcome to hang around indefinitely, listening to the proprietor’s
endless flow of talk.  He will pride himself on knowing every possible
bit of news or rumor:  Had the Council resolved on a new fleet-building
program?  Had the Tyrant of Syracuse’s “four” the best chance in the
chariot race in the next Olympic games?  The garrulity of barbers is
already proverbial.

[*] Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.) required his soldiers to be
shaved (as giving less grasp for the enemy!), and the habit then spread
generally through the whole Hellenic world.

“How shall I cut your hair, sir?” once asked the court tonsure of King
Archeläus of Macedon.

“In silence,” came the grim answer.

But the proprietor will not do all the talking.  Everybody in the
little room will join.  Wits will sharpen against wits; and if the
company is of a grave and respectable sort, the conversation will grow
brisk upon Plato’s theory of the “reality of ideas,” upon Euripides’s
interpretation of the relations of God to man, or upon the spiritual
symbolism of Scopas’s bas-reliefs at Halicarnassus.

The barber shops by the Agora then are essential portions of Athenian
social life.  Later we shall see them supplemented by the Gymnasia;—but
the Agora has detained us long enough.  The din and crowds are
lessening.  People are beginning to stream homeward. It lacks a little
of noon according to the “time-staff” (_gnomon_), a simple sun dial
which stands near one of the porticoes, and we will now follow some
Athenian gentleman towards his dwelling.

Chapter IV.
The Athenian House and its Furnishings.

21.  Following an Athenian Gentleman Homeward.—Leaving the Agora and
reëntering the streets the second impression of the residence districts
becomes more favorable.  There are a few bay trees planted from block
to block; and ever and anon the monotonous house walls recede, giving
space to display some temple, like the Fane of Hephæstos[*] near the
Market Place, its columns and pediment flashing not merely with white
marble, but with the green, scarlet, and gold wherewith the Greeks did
not hesitate to decorate their statuary.

[*] Wrongly called the “Theseum” in modern Athens.

At street corners and opposite important mansions a Hermes-bust like
those in the plaza rises, and a very few houses have a couple of
pillars at their entrances and some outward suggestion of hidden

We observe that almost the entire crowd leaving the Agora goes on foot.
 To ride about in a chariot is a sign of undemocratic presumption;
while only women or sick men will consent to be borne in a litter.  We
will select a sprucely dressed gentleman who has just been anointed in
a barber’s shop and accompany him to his home. He is neither one of the
decidedly rich, otherwise his establishment would be exceptional, not
typical, nor is he of course one of the hard-working poor.  Followed by
perhaps two clean and capable serving lads, he wends his way down
several of the narrow lanes that lie under the northern brow of the
Acropolis[*].  Before a plain solid house door he halts and cries,
“_Pai!  Pai!_” [“Boy!  Boy!”]. There is a rattle of bolts and bars.  A
low-visaged foreign-born porter, whose business it is to show a surly
front to all unwelcome visitors, opens and gives a kind of salaam to
his master; while the porter’s huge dog jumps up barking and pawing

[*] This would be a properly respectable quarter of the city, but we do
not know of any really “aristocratic residence district” in Athens.

As we enter behind him (carefully advancing with right foot foremost,
for it is bad luck to tread a threshold with the _left_) we notice
above the lintel some such inscription as “Let no evil enter here!” or
“To the Good Genius,” then a few steps through a narrow passage bring
us into the _Aula_, the central court, the indispensable feature of
every typical Greek house.

22.  The Type and use of a Greek House.—All domestic architecture,
later investigators will discover, falls into two great categories—of
the northern house and the southern house.  The northern house begins
with a single large room, “the great hall,” then lesser rooms are added
to it.  It gets its light from windows in the outer walls, and it is
covered by a single steep roof.  The southern (Greek and Oriental)
house is a building inclosing a rectangular court.  The rooms, many or
few, get their light from this court, while they are quite shut off
from the world outside.  All in all, for warm climates this style of
house is far more airy, cool, comfortable than the other.  The wide
open court becomes the living room of the house save in very inclement

Socrates is reported to have uttered what was probably the average
sensible view about a good house.[*]  The good house, he thought,
should be cool in summer, and warm in winter, convenient for the
accommodation of the family and its possessions.  The central rooms
should therefore be lofty and should open upon the south, yet for
protection in summer there should be good projecting eaves (over the
court) and again the rooms on the northern exposure should be made
lower.  All this is mere sense, but really the average male Athenian
does not care a great deal about his dwelling.  He spends surprisingly
little money beautifying it.  Unless he is sick, he will probably be at
home only for sleeping and eating.  The Agora, the Public Assembly, the
Jury Courts, the Gymnasium, the great religious festivals consume his
entire day.  “I never spend my time indoors,” says Xenophon’s model
Athenian, “my wife is well able to run the household by herself.”[+] 
Such being the case, even wealthy men have very simple establishments,
although it is at length complained (_e.g._ by Demosthenes) that people
are now building more luxurious houses, and are not content with the
plain yet sufficient dwellings of the great age of Pericles.[@]

[*] In Xenophon’s _Memorabilia_, III. 8, §§ 9,10.

[+] Xenophon, “_Economics_,” VII. 3.

[@] Very probably in such outlying Greek cities as Syracuse, Taras
(Tarentum), etc., more elegant houses could be found than any at this
time in Athens.

23.  The Plan of a Greek House.—The plan of a Greek house naturally
varies infinitely according to the size of the land plot, the size of
the owner’s family, his own taste, and wealth.  It will usually be
rectangular, with the narrower side toward the street; but this is not
invariable.  In the larger houses there will be two courts (_aulæ_),
one behind the other, and each with its own circuit of dependent
chambers.  The court first entered will be the _Andronitis_ (the Court
of the Men), and may be even large enough to afford a considerable
promenade for exercise.  Around the whole of the open space run lines
of simple columns, and above the opening swings an awning if the day is
very hot.  In the very center rises a small stone altar with a statue
of Zeus the Protector (_Zeus Herkeïos_), where the father of the family
will from time to time offer sacrifice, acting as the priest for the
household.  Probably already on the altar there has been laid a fresh
garland; if not, the newcomers from the Agora have now fetched one.

[Illustration: Conjectural Plan for the House of A Wealthy Athenian.
A = Altar of Zeus Herkelos.
B = Altar of Hestia.
C = Entrance Hall.
D = Kitchen.
T = Thalmos.
T′ = Anti-thalmos.
X = Rooms for the Men.
Y = Rooms for the Women.]

The Andronitis is the true living room of the house:  here the master
will receive his visitors, here the male slaves will work, and the
women also busy themselves (promptly retiring, however, on the
appearance of masculine strangers).  The decoration is very plain:  the
walls are neatly tinted with some kind of wash; the floor is of simple
plaster, or, in a humbler house, common earth pounded hard.  Under the
colonnade at all four sides open the various chambers, possibly twelve
in all.  They really are cells or compartments rather than rooms, small
and usually lighted only by their doors.  Some are used for storerooms,
some for sleeping closets for the male slaves and for the grown-up sons
of the house, if there are any.  Dark, ill ventilated, and most
scantily furnished, it is no wonder that the average Athenian loves the
Agora better than his chamber.

The front section of the house is now open to us, but it is time to
penetrate farther.  Directly behind the open court is a sizable chamber
forming a passage to the inner house.  This chamber is the _Andron_,
the dining hall and probably the most pretentious room in the house. 
Here the guests will gather for the dinner party, and here in one
corner smokes the family hearth, once the real fire for the whole
household cooking, but now merely a symbol of the domestic worship.  It
is simply a little round altar sacred to Hestia, the hearth goddess,[*]
and on its duly rekindled flame little “meat offerings and drink
offerings” are cast at every meal, humble or elaborate.

[*] Who corresponds to the Roman goddess _Vesta_.

In the rear wall of the Andron facing the Andronitis is a solid door. 
We are privileged guests indeed if we pass it.  Only the father, sons,
or near male kinsmen of the family are allowed to go inside, for it
leads into the _Gynæconitis_, the hall of the women. To thrust oneself
into the Gynæconitis of even a fairly intimate friend is a studied
insult at Athens, and sure to be resented by bodily chastisement,
social ostracism, and a ruinous legal prosecution. The Gynæconitis is
in short the Athenian’s holy of holies.  Their women are forbidden to
participate in so much of public life that their own peculiar world is
especially reserved to them.  To invade this world is not bad breeding;
it is social sacrilege.

In the present house, the home of a well-to-do family, the Gynæconitis
forms a second pillared court with adjacent rooms of substantially the
same size and shape as the Andronitis.  One of the rooms in the very
rear is proclaimed by the clatter of pots and pans and the odor of a
frying turbot to be the kitchen; others are obviously the sleeping
closets of the slave women.  On the side nearest to the front of the
house, but opening itself upon this inner court, is at least one bed
chamber of superior size.  This is the _Thalamos_, the great bedroom of
the master and mistress, and here are kept all the most costly
furnishings and ornaments in the house.  If there are grown-up
unmarried daughters, they have another such bedroom (_anti-thalamos_)
that is much larger than the cells of the slave girls.  Another special
room is set apart for the working of wool, although this chief
occupation of the female part of the household is likely to be carried
on in the open inner court itself, if the weather is fine.  Here,
around a little flower bed, slave girls are probably spinning and
embroidering, young children playing or quarreling, and a tame quail is
hopping about and watching for a crumb.  There are in fact a great many
people in a relatively small space; everything is busy, chattering,
noisy, and confusing to an intruding stranger.

24.  Modifications in the Typical Plan.—These are the essential
features of an Athenian house.  If the establishment is a very
pretentious one, there may be a small garden in the rear carefully
hedged against intruders by a lofty wall.[*]  More probably the small
size of the house lot would force simplifications in the scheme already
stated.  In a house one degree less costly, the Gynæconitis would be
reduced to a mere series of rooms shut off in the rear.  In more simple
houses still there would be no interior section of the house at all. 
The women of the family would be provided for by a staircase rising
from the main hall to a second story, and here a number of upper
chambers would give the needful seclusion.[+]  Of course as one goes
down the social scale, the houses grow simpler and simpler.  Small
shops are set into the street wall at either side of the entrance door,
and on entering one finds himself in a very limited and utterly dingy
court with a few dirty compartments opening thence, which it would be
absurd to dignify by the name of “rooms.”  Again one ceases to wonder
that the male Athenians are not “home folk” and are glad to leave their
houses to the less fortunate women!

[*] Such a luxury would not be common in city houses; land would be too

[+] Houses of more than two stories seem to have been unknown in
Athens.  The city lacked the towering rookeries of tenements (_insulæ_)
which were characteristic of Rome; sometimes, however, a house seems to
have been shared between several families.

25.  Rents and House Values.—Most native Athenians own their houses.
Houses indeed can be rented, usually by the foreign traders and
visitors who swam into the city; and at certain busy seasons one can
hire “lodgings” for a brief sojourn.  Rents are not unreasonable, 8% or
8 1/3% of the value of the house being counted a fair annual return. 
But the average citizen is also a householder, because forsooth houses
are very cheap.  The main cost is probably for the land.  The chief
material used in building, sun-dried brick, is very unsubstantial,[*]
and needs frequent repairs, but is not expensive.  Demosthenes the
Orator speaks of a “little house” (doubtless of the kind last
described) worth only seven minæ [about $126.00 (1914) or $2,242.80
(2000)], and this is not the absolute minimum.  A very rich banker has
had one worth 100 minæ [about $1,800.00 (1914) or $32,040.00 (2000)],
and probably this is close to the maximum.  The rent question is not
therefore one of the pressing problems at Athens.

[*] This material was so friable and poor that the Greek burglar was
known as a “Wall-digger.”  It did not pay him to pick a lock; it was
simpler for him to quarry his way through the wall with a pickax.

26.  The Simple yet Elegant Furnishings of an Athenian Home.—These
houses, even owned by the lordly rich, are surprisingly simple in their
furnishings.  The accumulation of heavy furniture, wall decorations,
and bric-a-brac which will characterize the dwellings of a later age,
would be utterly offensive to an Athenian—contradicting all his ideas
of harmony and “moderation.”  The Athenian house lacks of course
bookcases and framed pictures.  It probably too lacks any genuine
closets.  Beds, couches, chairs (usually backless), stools, footstools,
and small portable tables,—these alone seem in evidence.  In place of
bureaus, dressers and cupboards, there are huge chests, heavy and
carved, in which most of the household gear can be locked away.  In
truth, the whole style of Greek household life expresses that
simplicity on which we have already commented.  Oriental carpets are
indeed met with, but they are often used as wall draperies or couch
covers rather than upon the floors.  Greek costume (see p. 43) is so
simple that there is small need for elaborate chests of drawers, and a
line of pegs upon the wall cares for most of the family wardrobe.

All this is true; yet what furniture one finds is fashioned with
commendable grace.  There is a marked absence of heavy and unhealthful
upholstery; but the simple bed (four posts sustaining a springless
cushion stuffed with feathers or wool) has its woodwork adorned with
carving which is a true mean betwixt the too plain and the too ornate;
and the whole bed is given an elegant effect by the magnificently
embroidered scarlet tapestry which overspreads it. The lines of the
legs of the low wooden tables which are used at the dinner parties will
be a lesson (if we have time to study them) upon just proportion and
the value of subtle curves.  Moreover, the different household vessels,
the stone and bronze lamps, the various table dishes, even the common
pottery put to the humblest uses, all have a beauty, a chaste elegance,
a saving touch of deft ornamentation, which transforms them out of
“kitchen ware” into works of art.  Those black water pots covered with
red-clay figures which the serving maids are bearing so carelessly into
the scullery at the screaming summons of the cook will be some day
perchance the pride of a museum, and teach a later age that costly
material and aristocratic uses are not needful to make an article
supremely beautiful.

Of course the well-to-do Athenian is proud to possess certain
“valuables.”  He will have a few silver cups elegantly chased, and at
least one diner’s couch in the _andron_ will be made of rare imported
wood, and be inlaid with gilt or silver.  On festival days the house
will be hung with brilliant and elaborately wrought tapestries which
will suddenly emerge from the great chests.  Also, despite frowns and
criticisms, the custom is growing of decorating one’s walls with
bright-lined frescoes after the manner of the Agora colonnades.  In the
course of a few generations the homes of the wealthier Greeks will come
to resemble those of the Romans, such as a later age has resurrected at

Chapter V.
The Women of Athens.

27.  How Athenian Marriages are Arranged.—Over this typical Athenian
home reigns the wife of the master.  Public opinion frowns upon
celibacy, and there are relatively few unmarried men in Athens. An
Athenian girl is brought up with the distinct expectation of
matrimony.[*]  Opportunities for a romance almost never will come her
way; but it is the business of her parents to find her a suitable
husband.  If they are kindly people of good breeding, their choice is
not likely to be a very bad one.  If they have difficulties, they can
engage a professional “matchmaker,” a shrewd old woman who, for a fee,
will hunt out an eligible young man.  Marriage is contracted primarily
that there may be legitimate children to keep up the state and to
perpetuate the family.  That the girl should have any will of her own
in the matter is almost never thought of. Very probably she has never
seen “Him,” save when they both were marching in a public religious
procession, or at some rare family gathering (a marriage or a funeral)
when there were outside guests. Besides she will be “given away” when
only about fifteen, and probably has formed no intelligent opinion or
even prejudices on the subject.

[*] The vile custom of exposing unwelcome female babies probably
created a certain preponderance of males in Attica, and made it
relatively easy to marry off a desirable young girl.

If a young man (who will marry at about thirty) is independent in life,
the negotiations will be with him directly.  If he is still dependent
on the paternal allowance, the two sets of parents will usually arrange
matters themselves, and demand only the formal consent of the
prospective bridegroom.  He will probably accept promptly this bride
whom his father has selected; if not, he risks a stormy encounter with
his parents, and will finally capitulate. He has perhaps never seen
“Her,” and can only hope things are for the best; and after all she is
so young that his friends tell him that he can train her to be very
useful and obedient if he will only take pains.  The parents, or,
failing them, the guardians, adjust the dowry—the lump sum which the
bride will bring with her towards the new establishment.[*]  Many
maxims enjoin “marry only your equal in fortune.”  The poor man who
weds an heiress will not be really his own master; the dread of losing
the big dowry will keep him in perpetual bondage to her whims.

[*]The dowry was a great protection to the bride.  If her husband
divorced her (as by law he might), the dowry must be repaid to her
guardians with 18 per cent. interest.

28.  Lack of Sentiment in Marriages.—Sometimes marriages are arranged
in which any sentiment is obviously prohibited.  A father can betroth
his daughter by will to some kinsman, who is to take her over as his
bride when he takes over the property.  A husband can bequeath his wife
to some friend who is likely to treat her and the orphan children with
kindness.  Such affairs occur every day. Do the Athenian women revolt
at these seemingly degrading conditions, wherein they are handed around
like slaves, or even cattle?—According to the tragic poets they do. 
Sophocles (in the _Tereus_) makes them lament,

“We women are nothing;—happy indeed is our childhood, for _then_ we are
thoughtless; but when we attain maidenhood, lo! we are driven away from
our homes, sold as merchandise, and compelled to marry and say ‘All’s

Euripides is even more bitter in his _Medea:_—

Surely of creatures that have life and wit,
We women are of all things wretchedest,
Who first must needs, as buys the highest bidder,
Thus buy a husband, and our body’s master.[*]

[*] Way’s translation.

29. Athenian Marriage Rites.—However, thus runs public custom. At about
fifteen the girl must leave her mother’s fostering care and enter the
house of the stranger.  The wedding is, of course, a great ceremony;
and here, if nowhere else, Athenian women can surely prepare, flutter,
and ordain to their heart’s content.  After the somewhat stiff and
formal betrothal before witnesses (necessary to give legal effect to
the marriage), the actual wedding will probably take place,—perhaps in
a few days, perhaps with a longer wait till the favorite marriage month
Gamelion [January].[*]  Then on a lucky night of the full moon the
bride, having, no doubt tearfully, dedicated to Artemis her childish
toys, will be decked in her finest and will come down, all veiled, into
her father’s torchlit aula, swarming now with guests.  Here will be at
last that strange master of her fate, the bridegroom and his best man
(_paranymphos_).  Her father will offer sacrifice (probably a lamb),
and after the sacrifice everybody will feast on the flesh of the
victim; and also share a large flat cake of pounded sesame seeds
roasted and mixed with honey.  As the evening advances the wedding car
will be outside the door.  The mother hands the bride over to the
groom, who leads her to the chariot, and he and the groomsman sit down,
one on either side, while with torches and song the friends go with the
car in jovial procession to the house of the young husband.

[*] This winter month was sacred to Hera, the marriage guardian.

“Ho, Hymen!  Ho, Hymen!  Hymenæous!  Io!”

So rings the refrain of the marriage song; and all the doorways and
street corners are crowded with onlookers to shout fair wishes and
good-natured raillery.

At the groom’s house there is a volley of confetti to greet the happy
pair.  The bride stops before the threshold to eat a quince.[*] There
is another feast,—possibly riotous fun and hard drinking.  At last the
bride is led, still veiled, to the perfumed and flower-hung marriage
chamber.  The doors close behind the married pair.  Their friends sing
a merry rollicking catch outside, the _Epithalamium_. The great day has
ended.  The Athenian girl has experienced the chief transition of her

[*] The symbol of fertility.

30.  The Mental Horizon of Athenian Women.—Despite the suggestions in
the poets, probably the normal Athenian woman is neither degraded nor
miserable.  If she is a girl of good ancestry and the usual bringing
up, she has never expected any other conditions than these.  She knows
that her parents care for her and have tried to secure for her a
husband who will be her guardian and solace when they are gone. 
Xenophon’s ideal young husband, Ischomachus, says he married his wife
at the age of fifteen.[*]  She had been “trained to see and to hear as
little as possible”; but her mother had taught her to have a sound
control of her appetite and of all kinds of self-indulgence, to take
wool and to make a dress of it, and to manage the slave maids in their
spinning tasks.  She was at first desperately afraid of her husband,
and it was some time before he had “tamed” her sufficiently to discuss
their household problems freely.  Then Ischomachus made her join with
him in a prayer to the gods that “he might teach and she might learn
all that could conduce to their joint happiness”; after which they took
admirable counsel together, and her tactful and experienced husband
(probably more than twice her age) trained her into a model housewife.

[*] See Xenophon’s “The Economist,” VII ff.  The more pertinent
passages are quoted in W. S. Davis’s _Readings in Ancient History_,
Vol. I, pp. 265-271.

31.  The Honor paid Womanhood in Athens.—Obviously from a young woman
with a limited intellectual horizon the Athenian gentleman can expect
no mental companionship; but it is impossible that he can live in the
world as a keenly intelligent being, and not come to realize the
enormous value of the “woman spirit” as it affects all things good. 
Hera, Artemis, Aphrodite, above all Pallas-Athena,—city-warder of
Athens,—who are they all but idealizations of that peculiar genius
which wife, mother, and daughter show forth every day in their homes? 
An Athenian never allows his wife to visit the Agora.  She cannot
indeed go outside the house without his express permission, and only
then attended by one or two serving maids; public opinion will likewise
frown upon the man who allowed his wife to appear in public too
freely[*]; nevertheless there are compensations.  Within her home the
Athenian woman is within her kingdom.  Her husband will respect her,
because he will respect himself.  Brutal and harsh he may possibly be,
but that is because he is also brutal and harsh in his outside
dealings. In extreme cases an outraged wife can sue for divorce before
the archon.  And very probably in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred
the Athenian woman is contented with her lot:  partly because she knows
of nothing better; partly because she has nothing concrete whereof to

[*] Hypereides, the orator, says, “The woman who goes out of her own
home ought to be of such an age that when men meet her, the question is
not ‘Who is her husband?’ but ‘Whose mother is she?’” Pericles, in the
great funeral oration put in his mouth by Thucydides, says that the
best women are those who are talked of for good or ill the very least.

Doubtless it is because an Athenian house is a “little oasis of
domesticity,” tenderly guarded from all insult,—a miniature world whose
joys and sorrows are not to be shared by the outer universe,—that the
Athenian treats the private affairs of his family as something seldom
to be shared, even with an intimate friend.  Of individual women we
hear and see little in Athens, but of _noble womanhood_ a great deal. 
By a hundred tokens, delightful vase paintings, noble monuments, poetic
myths, tribute is paid to the self-mastery, the self-forgetfulness, the
courage, the gentleness “of the wives and mothers who have made Athens
the beacon of Hellas”; and there is one witness better than all the
rest.  Along the “Street of Tombs,” by the gate of the city, runs the
long row of stelæ (funeral monuments), inimitable and chaste memorials
to the beloved dead; and here we meet, many times over, the portrayal
of a sorrow too deep for common lament, the sorrow for the lovely and
gracious figures who have passed into the great Mystery.  Along the
Street of the Tombs the wives and mothers of Athens are honored not
less than the wealthy, the warriors, or the statesmen.

32.  The Sphere of Action of Athenian Women.—Assuredly the Athenian
house mother cannot match her husband in discussing philosophy or
foreign politics, but she has her own home problems and confronts them
well.  A dozen or twenty servants must be kept busy.  From her, all the
young children must get their first education, and the girls probably
everything they are taught until they are married. Even if she does not
meet many men, she will strive valiantly to keep the good opinion of
her husband.  If she has shapely feet and hands (whereupon great stress
is laid in Hellas), she will do her utmost to display them to the
greatest advantage[*]; and she has, naturally, plenty of other vanities
(see § 38).  Her husband has turned over to her the entire management
of the household.  This means that if he is an easy-going man, she soon
understands his home business far better than he does himself, and
really has him quite at her mercy.  Between caring for her husband’s
wants, nursing the sick slaves, acting as arbitress in their inevitable
disputes, keeping a constant watch upon the storeroom, and finally in
attending to the manufacture of nearly all the family clothing, she is
not likely to rust in busy idleness, or sit complaining of her lot.  At
the many great public festivals she is always at least an onlooker and
often she marches proudly in the magnificent processions.  She is
allowed to attend the tragedies in the theater.[+]  Probably, too, the
family will own a country farm, and spend a part of the year thereon. 
Here she will be allowed a delightful freedom of movement, impossible
in the closely built city.  All in all, then, she will complain of too
much enforced activity rather than of too much idleness.

[*] The custom of wearing sandals instead of shoes of course aided the
developing of beautiful feet.

[+] Not the comedies—they were too broad for refined women.  But the
fact that Athenian ladies seem to have been allowed to attend the
tragedies is a tribute to their intellectual capacities.  Only an acute
and intelligent mind can follow Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.

[Illustration: Spinning]

Nevertheless our judgment upon the Athenian women is mainly one of
regret.  Even if not discontented with their lot, they are not
realizing the full possibilities which Providence has placed within the
reach of womanhood, much less the womanhood of the mothers of the
warriors, poets, orators, and other immortals of Athens.  One great
side of civilization which the city of Athens might develop and realize
is left unrealized. _this civilization of Athens is too masculine;_ it
is therefore one sided, and in so far it does not realize that ideal
“Harmony” which is the average Athenian’s boast.

Chapter VI.
Athenian Costume.

33.  The General Nature of Greek Dress.—In every age the important
kingdom of dress has been reserved for the peculiar sovereignty of
woman.  This is true in Athens, though not perhaps to the extent of
later ages.  Still an Athenian lady will take an interest in “purple
and fine linen” far exceeding that of her husband, and where is there a
more fitting place than this in which to answer for an Athenian, the
ever important question “wherewithal shall I be clothed”?

Once again the Athenian climate comes in as a factor, this time in the
problem of wardrobe.  Two general styles of garment have divided the
allegiance of the world,—the clothes that are _put on_ and the clothes
that are _wrapped around_.  The former style, with its jackets,
trousers, and leggings, is not absolutely unknown to the
Athenians,—their old enemies, the Persians, wear these[*]; but such
clumsy, inelegant garments are despised and ridiculed as fit only for
the “Barbarians” who use them.  They are not merely absurdly homely;
they cannot even be thrown off promptly in an emergency, leaving the
glorious human form free to put forth any noble effort.  The Athenians
wear the wrapped style of garments, which are, in final analysis, one
or two large square pieces of cloth flung skillfully around the body
and secured by a few well-placed pins.  This costume is infinitely
adjustable; it can be expanded into flowing draperies or contracted
into an easy working dress by a few artful twitches.  It can be nicely
adjusted to meet the inevitable sense of “beauty” bred in the bone of
every Athenian. True, on the cold days of midwinter the wearers will go
about shivering; but cold days are the exception, warm days the rule,
in genial Attica.[+]

[*] The Persians no doubt learned to use this style of garment during
their life on the cold, windy steppes of Upper Asia, before they won
their empire in the more genial south.

[+] The whole civilization of Athens was, of course, based on a climate
in which artificial heat would be very little needed.  A pot of glowing
charcoal might be used to remove the chill of a room in the very
coldest weather.  Probably an Athenian would have regarded a climate in
which furnace heat was demanded nearly eight months in the year as
wholly unfit for civilized man.

This simplicity of costume has produced certain important results.
There are practically no tailors in Athens, only cloth merchants,
bleachers, and dyers.  Again fashions (at least in the cut of the
garments) seldom change.  A cloak that was made in the days of
Alcibiades (say 420 B.C.) can be worn with perfect propriety to-day
(360 B.C.) if merely it has escaped without severe use or moth holes. 
It may be more usual this year to wear one’s garments a little higher
or a little more trailing than formerly; but _that_ is simply a matter
for a shifting of the pins or of the girdle.

As a result, the Athenian seldom troubles about his “spring” or
“winter” suit.  His simple woolen garments wear a very long time; and
they have often been slowly and laboriously spun and woven by his wife
and her slave girls.  Of course even a poor man will try to have a few
changes of raiment,—something solid and coarse for every day, something
of finer wool and gayer color for public and private festivals.  The
rich man will have a far larger wardrobe, and will pride himself on not
being frequently seen in the same dress; yet even his outfit will seem
very meager to the dandies of a later age.

34.  the Masculine Chiton, Himation, and Chlamya.—The essential
garments of an Athenian man are only two—the _chiton_ and the
_himation_. The chiton may be briefly described as an oblong of woolen
cloth large enough to wrap around the body somewhat closely, from the
neck down to just above the knees.  The side left open is fastened by
fibulæ—elegantly wrought pins perhaps of silver or gold; in the closed
side there is a slit for the arm.  There is a girdle, and, if one
wishes, the skirt of the chiton may be pulled up through it, and
allowed to hang down in front, giving the effect of a blouse. The man
of prompt action, the soldier, traveler, worker, is “well girded,”—his
chiton is drawn high, but the deliberate old gentleman who parades the
Agora, discussing poetry or statecraft, has his chiton falling almost
to a trailing length.  Only occasionally short sleeves were added to
this very simple garment; they are considered effeminate, and are not
esteemed.  If one’s arms get cold, one can protect them by pulling up
the skirt, and wrapping the arms in the blouse thus created.

An Athenian gentleman when he is in the house wears nothing but his
chiton; it is even proper for him to be seen wearing nothing else upon
the streets, but then more usually he will add an outer cloak,—his

The himation is even simpler than the chiton.  It is merely a generous
oblong woolen shawl.  There are innumerable ways of arranging it
according to the impulse of the moment; but usually it has to be worn
without pins, and that involves wrapping it rather tightly around the
body, and keeping one of the hands confined to hold the cloak in place.
 That is no drawback, however, to a genteel wearer. It proclaims to the
world that _he_ does not have to work, wearing his hands for a living;
therefore he can keep them politely idle.[*] The adjustment of the
himation is a work of great art.  A rich man will often have a special
slave whose business it is to arrange the hang and the folds before his
master moves forth in public; and woe to the careless fellow if the
effect fails to display due elegance and dignity!

[*] Workingmen often wore no himation, and had a kind of chiton (an
exömis) which was especially arranged to leave them with free use of
their arms.

There is a third garment sometimes worn by Athenians.  Young men who
wish to appear very active, and genuine travelers, also wear a
_chlamys_, a kind of circular mantle or cape which swings jauntily over
their shoulders, and will give good protection in foul weather.

There are almost no other masculine garments.  No shirts (unless the
chiton be one), no underwear.  In their costume, as in so many things
else, the Athenians exemplify their oft-praised virtue of simplicity.

35.  The Dress of the Women.—The dress of the women is like that of the
men, but differs, of course, in complexity.  They also have a
chiton,[*] which is more elaborately made, especially in the
arrangement of the blouse; and probably there is involved a certain
amount of real _sewing;_[+] not merely of _pinning_.

[*] This robe was sometimes known by the Homeric name of _peplos_.

[+] Probably with almost all Greek garments the main use of the needle
was in the embroidery merely, or in the darning of holes and rents.  It
was by no means an essential in the real manufacture.

Greater care is needed in the adjustment of the “zone” (girdle), and
half sleeves are the rule with women, while full sleeves are not
unknown.  A Greek lady again cannot imitate her husband, and appear in
public in her chiton only.  A himation, deftly adjusted, is absolutely
indispensable whenever she shows herself outside the house.

These feminine garments are all, as a rule, more elaborately
embroidered, more adorned with fringes and tassels, than those of the
men.  In arranging her dress the Athenian lady is not bound by the
rigid precepts of fashion.  Every separate toilette is an opportunity
for a thousand little niceties and coquetries which she understands
exceedingly well.  If there is the least excuse for an expedition
outside the house, her ladyship’s bevy of serving maids will have a
serious time of it.  While their mistress cools herself with a huge
peacock-feather fan, one maid is busy over her hair; a second holds the
round metallic mirror before her; a third stands ready to extend the
jewel box whence she can select finger rings, earrings, gold armlets,
chains for her neck and hair, as well as the indispensable brooches
whereon the stability of the whole costume depends.  When she rises to
have her himation draped around her, the directions she gives reveal
her whole bent and character.  A dignified and modest matron will have
it folded loosely around her entire person, covering both arms and
hands, and even drawing it over her head, leaving eyes and nose barely
visible.  Younger ladies will draw it close around the body so as to
show the fine lines of their waists and shoulders.  And in the summer
heat the himation (for the less prudish) will become a light shawl
floating loose and free over the shoulders, or only a kind of veil
drawn so as to now conceal, now reveal, the face.

Children wear miniature imitations of the dress of their elders. Boys
are taught to toughen their bodies by refraining from thick garments in
cold weather.  In hot weather they can frequently be seen playing about
with very little clothing at all!

36.  Footwear and Head Coverings.—Upon his feet the Athenian frequently
wears nothing.  He goes about his home barefoot; and not seldom he
enjoys the delight of running across the open greensward with his
unsandaled feet pressing the springing ground; but normally when he
walks abroad, he will wear _sandals_, a simple solid pair of open soles
tied to his feet by leather thongs passing between the toes.  For hard
country walking and for hunting there is something like a high leather
boot,[*] though doubtless these are counted uncomfortable for ordinary
wear.  As for the sandals, simple as they are, the Attic touch of
elegance is often upon them.  Upon the thongs of the sandals there is
usually worked a choice pattern, in some brilliant color or even gilt.

[*] Actors, too, wore a leather boot with high soles to give them extra
height—the _cothurnus_.

The Athenians need head coverings even less than footgear.  Most of
them have thick hair; baldness is an uncommon affliction; everybody is
trained to walk under the full glare of Helios with little discomfort. 
Of course certain trades require hats, _e.g._ sailors who can be almost
identified by their rimless felt caps.  Genteel travelers will wear
wide-brimmed hats; but  the ladies, as a rule, have no headgear besides
their tastefully arranged hair, although they will partly atone for the
lack, by having a maid walk just behind them with a gorgeously
variegated parasol.

37.  The Beauty of the Greek Dress.—Greek Costume, then, is something
fully sharing in the national characteristics of harmony, simplicity,
individuality.  It is easy to see how admirably this style of dress is
adapted to furnish over ready models and inspiration for the
sculptor.[*]  Unconventional in its arrangement, it is also
unconventional in its color.  A masculine crowd is not one unmitigated
swarm of black and dark grays or browns, as with the multitude of a
later age.  On the contrary, white is counted as theoretically the most
becoming color on any common occasion for either sex;[+] and on
festival days even grave and elderly men will appear with chitons
worked with brilliant embroidery along the borders, and with splendid
himatia of some single clear hue—violet, red, purple, blue, or yellow. 
As for the costume of the groom at a wedding, it is far indeed from the
“conventional black” of more degenerate days.  He may well wear a
purple-edged white chiton of fine Milesian wool, a brilliant scarlet
himation, sandals with blue thongs and clasps of gold, and a chaplet of
myrtle and violets. His intended bride is led out to him in even more
dazzling array. Her white sandal-thongs are embroidered with emeralds,
rubies, and pearls.  Around her neck is a necklace of gold richly
set,—and she has magnificent golden armlets and pearl eardrops.  Her
hair is fragrant with Oriental nard, and is bound by a purple fillet
and a chaplet of roses.  Her ungloved fingers shine with jewels and
rings.  Her main costume is of a delicate saffron, and over it all,
like a cloud, floats the silvery tissue of the nuptial veil.

[*] “The chiton became the mirror of the body,” said the late writer
Achilles Tatius.

[+] No doubt farmers and artisans either wore garments of a
non-committal brown, or, more probably, let their originally white
costume get utterly dirty.

38.  Greek Toilet Frivolities.—From the standpoint of inherent fitness
and beauty, this Athenian costume is the noblest ever seen by the
world.  Naturally there are ill-advised creatures who do not share the
good taste of their fellows, or who try to deceive the world and
themselves as to the ravages of that arch-enemy of the Hellene,—Old
Age.  Athenian women especially (though the men are not without their
follies) are sometimes fond of rouge, false hair, and the like.  Auburn
hair is especially admired, and many fine dames bleach their tresses in
a caustic wash to obtain it. The styles of feminine hair dressing seem
to change from decade to decade much more than the arrangements of the
garments.  Now it is plaited and crimped hair that is in vogue, now the
more beautiful “Psyche-knots”; yet even in their worst moods the
Athenian women exhibit a sweet reasonableness.  They have not yet
fallen into the clutches of the Parisian hairdresser.

The poets, of course, ridicule the foibles of the fair sex.[*]
Says one:—

The golden hair Nikylla wears
    Is hers, who would have thought it?
She swears ’tis hers, and true she swears
    For I know where she bought it!

And again:—

You give your cheeks a rosy stain,
With washes dye your hair;
But paint and washes both are vain
To give a youthful air.
An art so fruitless then forsake,
Which, though you much excel in,
You never can contrive to make
Old Hecuba young Helen.

[*] Translated in Falke’s _Greece and Rome_ (English translation, p.
69).  These quotations probably date from a time considerably later
than the hypothetical period of this sketch; but they are perfectly
proper to apply to conditions in 360 B.C.

But enough of such scandals!  All the best opinion—masculine and
feminine—frowns on these follies.  Let us think of the simple,
dignified, and æsthetically noble costume of the Athenians as not the
least of their examples to another age.

Chapter VII.
The Slaves.

39.  Slavery an Integral Part of Greek Life.—An Athenian lady cares for
everything in her house,—for the food supplies, for the clothing, yet
probably her greatest task is to manage the heterogeneous multitude of
slaves which swarm in every wealthy or even well-to-do mansion.[*]

[*] The Athenians never had the absurd armies of house slaves which
characterized Imperial Rome; still the numbers of their domestic
servants were, from a modern standpoint, extremely large.

Slaves are everywhere:  not merely are they the domestic servants, but
they are the hands in the factories, they run innumerable little shops,
they unload the ships, they work the mines, they cultivate the farms. 
Possibly there are more able-bodied male slaves in Attica than male
free men, although this point is very uncertain. Their number is the
harder to reckon because they are not required to wear any distinctive
dress, and you cannot tell at a glance whether a man is a mere piece of
property, or a poor but very proud and important member of the
“Sovereign Demos [People] of Athens.”

No prominent Greek thinker seems to contest the righteousness and
desirability of slavery.  It is one of the usual, nay, inevitable,
things pertaining to a civilized state.  Aristotle the philosopher puts
the current view of the case very clearly.  “The lower sort of mankind
are _by nature_ slaves, and it is better for all inferiors that they
should be under the rule of a master.  The use made of slaves and of
tame animals is not very different; for both by their bodies minister
to the needs of life.”  The intelligent, enlightened, progressive
Athenians are naturally the “masters”; the stupid, ignorant, sluggish
minded Barbarians are the “inferiors.”  Is it not a plain decree of
Heaven that the Athenians are made to rule, the Barbarians to serve?—No
one thinks the subject worth serious argument.

Of course the slave cannot be treated quite as one would treat an ox. 
Aristotle takes pains to point out the desirability of holding out to
your “chattel” the hope of freedom, if only to make him work better;
and the great philosopher in his last testament gives freedom to five
of his thirteen slaves.  Then again it is recognized as clearly against
public sentiment to hold fellow Greeks in bondage. It is indeed done. 
Whole towns get taken in war, and those of the inhabitants who are not
slaughtered are sold into slavery.[*] Again, exposed children, whose
parents have repudiated them, get into the hands of speculators, who
raise them “for market.”  There is also a good deal of kidnapping in
the less civilized parts of Greece like Ætolia.  Still the proportion
of genuinely _Greek_ slaves is small.  The great majority of them are
“Barbarians,” men born beyond the pale of Hellenic civilization.

[*] For example, the survivors, after the capture of Melos, in the
Peloponesian War.

40.  The Slave Trade in Greece.—There are two great sources of slave
supply:  the Asia Minor region (Lydia and Phrygia, with Syria in the
background), and the Black Sea region, especially the northern shores,
known as Scythia.  It is known to innumerable heartless “traders” that
human flesh commands a very high price in Athens or other Greek cities.
 Every little war or raid that vexes those barbarous countries so
incessantly is followed by the sale of the unhappy captives to
speculators who ship them on, stage by stage, to Athens.  Perhaps there
is no war; the supply is kept up then by deliberately kidnapping on a
large scale, or by piracy.[*]  In any case the arrival of a chain gang
of fettered wretches at the Peiræus is an everyday sight.  Some of
these creatures are submissive and tame (perhaps they understand some
craft or trade); these can be sold at once for a high price.  Others
are still doltish and stubborn.  They are good for only the rudest kind
of labor, unless they are kept and trained at heavy expense.  These
brutish creatures are frequently sold off to the mines, to be worked to
death by the contractors as promptly and brutally as one wears out a
machine; or else they become public galley slaves, when their fate is
practically the same.  But we need not follow such horrors.

[*] A small but fairly constant supply of slaves would come from the
seizure of the persons and families of bankrupt debtors, whose
creditors, especially in the Orient, might sell them into bondage.

The remainder are likely to be purchased either for use upon the farm,
the factory, or in the home.  There is a regular “circle” at or near
the Agora for traffic in them.  They are often sold at auction.  The
price of course varies with the good looks, age,[*] or dexterity of the
article, or the abundance of supply.  “Slaves will be high” in a year
when there has been little warfare and raiding in Asia Minor.  “Some
slaves,” says Xenophon, “are well worth two minæ [$36.00 (1914) or
$640.80 (2000)] and others barely half a mina [$9.00 (1914) or $160.20
(2000)]; some sell up to five minæ [$90.00 (1914) or $1,602.00 (2000)]
and even for ten [$180.00 (1914) or $3,204.00 (2000)].  Nicias, the son
of Nicaretus, is said to have given a talent [over $1,000.00 (1914) or
$17,800.00 (2000)] for an overseer in the mines.”[+]  The father of
Demosthenes owned a considerable factory.  He had thirty-two sword
cutters worth about five minæ each, and twenty couch-makers (evidently
less skilled) worth together 40 minæ [about $720.00 (1914) or
$12,816.00 (2000)].  A girl who is handsome and a clever flute player,
who will be readily hired for supper parties, may well command a very
high price indeed, say even 30 minæ [about $540.00 (1914) or $9,612.00

[*] There was probably next to no market for old women; old men in
broken health would also be worthless.  Boys and maids that were the
right age for teaching a profitable trade would fetch the most.

[+] Xenophon, _Memorabilia_, ii. 5, § 2.

41.  The Treatment of Slaves in Athens.—Once purchased, what is the
condition of the average slave?  If he is put in a factory, he probably
has to work long hours on meager rations.  He is lodged in a kind of
kennel; his only respite is on the great religious holidays.  He cannot
contract valid marriage or enjoy any of the normal conditions of family
life.  Still his evil state is partially tempered by the fact that he
has to work in constant association with free workmen, and he seems to
be treated with a moderate amount of consideration and good
camaraderie.  On the whole he will have much less to complain of (if he
is honest and industrious) than his successors in Imperial Rome.

In the household, conditions are on the whole better.  Every Athenian
citizen tries to have at least _one_ slave, who, we must grant, may be
a starving drudge of all work.  The average gentleman perhaps counts
ten to twenty as sufficient for his needs.  We know of households of
fifty.  There must usually be a steward, a butler in charge of the
storeroom or cellar, a marketing slave, a porter, a baker, a cook,[*] a
nurse, perhaps several lady’s maids, the indispensable attendant for
the master’s walks (a graceful, well-favored boy, if possible), the
pedagogue for the children, and in really rich families, a groom, and a
mule boy.  It is the business of the mistress to see that all these
creatures are kept busy and reasonably contented.  If a slave is
reconciled to his lot, honest, cheerful, industrious, his condition is
not miserable. Athenian slaves are allowed a surprising amount of
liberty, so most visitors to the city complain.  A slave may be flogged
most cruelly, but he cannot be put to death at the mere whim of his
master.  He cannot enter the gymnasium, or the public assembly; but he
can visit the temples.  As a humble member of the family he has a small
part usually in the family sacrifices.  But in any case he is subject
to one grievous hardship:  when his testimony is required in court he
must be “put to the question” by torture.  On the other hand, if his
master has wronged him intolerably, he can take sanctuary at the Temple
of Theseus, and claim the privilege of being sold to some new owner.  A
slave, too, has still another grievance which may be no less galling
because it is sentimental.  His name (given him arbitrarily perhaps by
his master) is of a peculiar category, which at once brands him as a
bondsman:  Geta, Manes, Dromon, Sosias, Xanthias, Pyrrhias,—such names
would be repudiated as an insult by a citizen.

[*] Who, however, could not be trusted to cook a formal dinner.  For
such purpose an expert must be hired.

42.  Cruel and Kind Masters.—Slavery in Athens, as everywhere else, is
largely dependent upon the character of the master; and most Athenian
masters would not regard crude brutality as consistent with that love
of elegance, harmony, and genteel deliberation which characterizes a
well-born citizen.  There do not lack masters who have the whip
continually in their hands, who add to the raw stripes fetters and
branding, and who make their slaves unceasingly miserable; but such
masters are the exception, and public opinion does not praise them. 
Between the best Athenians and their slaves there is a genial, friendly
relation, and the master will put up with a good deal of real
impertinence, knowing that behind this forwardness there is an honest
zeal for his interests.

Nevertheless the slave system of Athens is not commendable.  It puts a
stigma upon the glory of honest manual labor.  It instills domineering,
despotic habits into the owners, cringing subservience into the owned. 
Even if a slave becomes freed, he does not become an Athenian citizen;
he is only a “metic,” a resident foreigner, and his old master, or some
other Athenian, must be his patron and representative in every kind of
legal business.  It is a notorious fact that the _mere state_ of
slavery robs the victim of his self-respect and manhood.  Nevertheless
nobody dreams of abolishing slavery as an institution, and the
Athenians, comparing themselves with other communities, pride
themselves on the extreme humanity of their slave system.

43.  The “City Slaves” of Athens.—A large number of nominal “slaves” in
Athens differ from any of the creatures we have described.  The
community, no less than an individual, can own slaves just as it can
own warships and temples.  Athens owns “city slaves” (_Demosioi_) of
several varieties.  The clerks in the treasury office, and the checking
officers at the public assemblies are slaves; so too are the less
reputable public executioners and torturers; in the city mint there is
another corps of slave workers, busy coining “Athena’s owls”—the silver
drachmas and four-drachma pieces.  But chiefest of all, _the city owns
its public police force_.  The “Scythians” they are called from their
usual land of origin, or the “bowmen,” from their special weapon, which
incidentally makes a convenient cudgel in a street brawl.  There are
1200 of them, always at the disposal of the city magistrates.  They
patrol the town at night, arrest evil-doers, sustain law and order in
the Agora, and especially enforce decorum, if the public assemblies or
the jury courts become tumultuous.  They have a special cantonment on
the hill of Areopagus near the Acropolis.  “Slaves” they are of course
in name, and under a kind of military discipline; but they are highly
privileged slaves.  The security of the city may depend upon their
loyal zeal. In times of war they are auxiliaries.  Life in this police
force cannot therefore be burdensome, and their position is envied by
all the factory workers and the house servants.

Chapter VIII.
The Children.

44.  The Desirability of Children in Athens.—Besides the oversight of
the slaves the Athenian matron has naturally the care of the children. 
A childless home is one of the greatest of calamities. It means a
solitary old age, and still worse, the dying out of the family and the
worship of the family gods.  There is just enough of the old
superstitious “ancestor worship” left in Athens to make one shudder at
the idea of leaving the “deified ancestor” without any descendants to
keep up the simple sacrifices to their memory. Besides, public opinion
condemns the childless home as not contributing to the perpetuation of
the city.  How Corinth, Thebes, or Sparta will rejoice, if it is plain
that Athens is destroying herself by race suicide!  So at least _one_
son will be very welcome.  His advent is a day of happiness for the
father, of still greater satisfaction for the young mother.

45.  The Exposure of Infants.—How many more children are welcome
depends on circumstances.  Children are expensive luxuries.  They must
be properly educated and even the boys must be left a fair fortune.[*] 
The girls must always have good dowries, or they cannot “marry
according to their station.”  Public opinion, as well as the law,
allows a father (at least if he has one or two children already) to
exercise a privilege, which later ages will pronounce one of the
foulest blots on Greek civilization.  After the birth of a child there
is an anxious day or two for the poor young mother and the faithful
nurses.—Will he ‘nourish’ it?  Are there boys enough already?  Is the
disappointment over the birth of a daughter too keen?  Does he dread
the curtailment in family luxuries necessary to save up for an
allowance or dowry for the little stranger?  Or does the child promise
to be puny, sickly, or even deformed?  If any of these arguments carry
adverse weight, there is no appeal against the father’s decision.  He
has until the fifth day after the birth to decide.  In the interval he
can utter the fatal words, “Expose it!”  The helpless creature is then
put in a rude cradle, or more often merely in a shallow pot and placed
near some public place; _e.g._ the corner of the Agora, or near a
gymnasium, or the entrance to a temple.  Here it will soon die of mere
hunger and neglect unless rescued.  If the reasons for exposure are
evident physical defects, no one will touch it.  Death is certain.  If,
however, it seems healthy and well formed, it is likely to be taken up
and cared for.  Not out of pure compassion, however.  The harpies who
raise slaves and especially slave girls, for no honest purposes, are
prompt to pounce upon any promising looking infant. They will rear it
as a speculation; if it is a girl, they will teach it to sing, dance,
play.  The race of light women in Athens is thus really recruited from
the very best families.  The fact is well known, but it is constantly
winked at.  Aristophanes, the comic poet, speaks of this exposure of
children as a common feature of Athenian life.  Socrates declares his
hearers are vexed when he robs them of pet ideas, “like women who have
had their children taken from them.”  There is little or nothing for
men of a later day to say of this custom save condemnation.[+]

[*] The idea of giving a lad a “schooling” and then turning him loose
to earn his own living in the world was contrary to all Athenian theory
and practice.

[+] About the only boon gained by this foul usage was the fact that,
thanks to it, the number of physically unfit persons in Athens was
probably pretty small, for no one would think of bringing up a child
which, in its first babyhood, promised to be a cripple.

46.  The Celebration of a Birth.—But assuredly in a majority of cases,
the coming of a child is more than welcome.  If a girl, tufts of wool
are hung before the door of the happy home; if a boy, there is set out
an olive branch.  Five days after the birth, the nurse takes the baby,
wrapped almost to suffocation in swaddling bands, to the family hearth
in the _andron_, around which she runs several times, followed
doubtless, in merry, frolicking procession, by most of the rest of the
family.  The child is now under the care of the family gods.  There is
considerable eating and drinking. Exposure now is no longer possible. 
A great load is off the mind of the mother.  But on the “tenth day”
comes the real celebration and the feast.  This is the “name day.”  All
of the kinsmen are present.  The house is full of incense and garlands.
 The cook is in action in the kitchen.  Everybody brings simple gifts,
along with abundant wishes of good luck.  There is a sacrifice, and
during the ensuing feast comes the naming of the child.  Athenian names
are very short and simple.[*]  A boy has often his father’s name, but
more usually his grandfather’s, as, _e.g._, Themistocles, the son of
Neocles, the son of Themistocles:  the father’s name being usually
added in place of a surname.  In this way certain names will become a
kind of family property, and sorrowful is the day when there is no
eligible son to bear them!

The child is now a recognized member of the community.  His father has
accepted him as a legitimate son, one of his prospective heirs,
entitled in due time to all the rights of an Athenian citizen.

[*] Owing to this simplicity and the relatively small number of
Athenian names, a directory of the city would have been a perplexing

47.  Life and Games of Young Children.—The first seven years of a Greek
boy’s life are spent with his nurses and his mother.  Up to that time
his father takes only unofficial interest in his welfare. Once past the
first perilous “five days,” an Athenian baby has no grounds to complain
of his treatment.  Great pains are taken to keep him warm and well
nourished.  A wealthy family will go to some trouble to get him a
skilful nurse, those from Sparta being in special demand, as knowing
the best how to rear healthy infants. He has all manner of toys, and
Aristotle the philosopher commends their frequent donation; otherwise,
he says, children will be always “breaking things in the house.” 
Babies have rattles.  As they grow older they have dolls of painted
clay or wax, sometimes with movable hands and feet, and also toy
dishes, tables, wagons, and animals.  Lively boys have whipping toys,
balls, hoops, and swings.  There is no lack of pet dogs, nor of all
sorts of games on the blind man’s bluff and “tag” order.[*]  Athenian
children are, as a class, very active and noisy.  Plato speaks
feelingly of their perpetual “roaring.”  As they grow larger, they
begin to escape more and more from the narrow quarters of the courts of
the house, and play in the streets.

[*] It is not always easy to get the exact details of such ancient
games, for the “rules” have seldom come down to us; but generally
speaking, the games of Greek children seem extremely like those of the
twentieth century.

[Illustration: The Maternal Slipper]

48.  Playing in the Streets.—Narrow, dirty, and dusty as the streets
seem, children, even of good families, are allowed to play in them. 
After a rain one can see boys floating toy boats of leather in every
mud puddle, or industriously making mud pies.  In warm weather the
favorite if cruel sport is to catch a beetle, tie a string to its legs,
let it fly off, then twitch it back again. Leapfrog, hide-and-seek,
etc., are in violent progress down every alley.  The streets are not
all ideal playgrounds.  Despite genteel ideas of dignity and
moderation, there is a great deal of foul talk and brawling among the
passers, and Athenian children have receptive eyes and ears.  Yet on
the other hand, there is a notable regard and reverence for childhood. 
With all its frequent callousness and inhumanity, Greek sentiment
abhors any brutality to young children. Herodotus the historian tells
of the falling of a roof, whereby one hundred and twenty school
children perished, as being a frightful calamity,[*] although
recounting cold-blooded massacres of thousands of adults with never a
qualm; and Herodotus is a very good spokesman for average Greek

[*] Herodotus, VI. 27.

49.  The First Stories and Lessons.—Athens has no kindergartens. The
first teaching which children will receive is in the form of fables and
goblin tales from their mothers and nurses,—usually with the object of
frightening them into “being good,”—tales of the spectral Lamiæ, or of
the horrid witch Mormo who will catch nasty children; or of Empusa, a
similar creature, who lurks in shadows and dark rooms; or of the
Kabaloi, wild spirits in the woods.  Then come the immortal fables of
Æsop with their obvious application towards right conduct.  Athenian
mothers and teachers have no two theories as to the wisdom of corporeal
punishment.  The rod is never spared to the spoiling of the child,
although during the first years the slipper is sufficient.  Greek
children soon have a healthy fear of their nurses; but they often learn
to love them, and funeral monuments will survive to perpetuate their
grateful memory.

50.  The Training of Athenian Girls.—Until about seven years old
brothers and sisters grow up in the _Gynæconitis_ together.  Then the
boys are sent to school.  The girls will continue about the house until
the time of their marriage.  It is only in the rarest of cases that the
parents feel it needful to hire any kind of tutor for _them_.  What the
average girl knows is simply what her mother can teach her.  Perhaps a
certain number of Athenian women (of good family, too) are downright
illiterate; but this is not very often the case.  A normal girl will
learn to read and write, with her mother for school mistress.[*]  Very
probably she will be taught to dance, and sometimes to play on some
instrument, although this last is not quite a proper accomplishment for
young women of good family.  Hardly any one dreams of giving a woman
any systematic intellectual training.[+]  Much more important it is
that she should know how to weave, spin, embroider, dominate the cook,
and superintend the details of a dinner party.  She will have hardly
time to learn these matters thoroughly before she is “given a husband,”
and her childhood days are forever over (see § 27).

[*] There has come down to us a charming Greek terra-cotta (it is true,
not from Athens) showing a girl seated on her mother’s knee, and
learning from a roll which she holds.

[+] Plato suggested in his _Republic_ (V. 451 f.) that women should
receive the same educational opportunities as the men.  This was a
proposition for Utopia and never struck any answering chord.

Meantime her brother has been started upon a course of education which,
both in what it contains and in what it omits, is one of the most
interesting and significant features of Athenian life.

Chapter IX.
The Schoolboys of Athens.

51.  Athenians Generally Literate.—Education is not compulsory by law
in Athens, but the father who fails to give his son at least a modicum
of education falls under a public contempt, which involves no slight
penalty.  Practically all Athenians are at least literate. In
Aristophanes’s famous comedy, _The Knights_, a boorish “sausage-seller”
is introduced, who, for the purposes of the play, must be one of the
very scum of society, and he is made to cry, “Only consider now my
education!  I can but barely read, just in a kind of way.”[*] 
Evidently if illiterates are not very rare in Athens, the fellow should
have been made out utterly ignorant.  “He can neither swim[+] nor say
his letters,” is a common phrase for describing an absolute idiot. 
When a boy has reached the age of seven, the time for feminine rule is
over; henceforth his floggings, and they will be many, are to come from
firm male hands.

[*] Aristophanes, “Knights”, II. 188-189.

[+] Swimming was an exceedingly common accomplishment among the Greeks,
naturally enough, so much of their life being spent upon or near the

52.  Character Building the Aim of Athenian Education.—The true
education is of course begun long before the age of seven. _Character
not book-learning, is the main object of Athenian Education_, _i.e._ to
make the boy self-contained, modest, alert, patriotic, a true friend, a
dignified gentleman, able to appreciate and participate in all that is
true, harmonius and beautiful in life.  To that end his body must be
trained, not apart from, but along with his mind. Plato makes his
character Protagoras remark, “As soon as a child understands what is
said to him, the nurse, the mother, the pedagogue, and the father vie
in their efforts to make him good, by showing him in all that he does
that ‘_this_ is right,’ and ‘_that_ is wrong’; ‘this is pretty,’ and
‘that is ugly’; so that he may learn what to follow and what to shun. 
If he obeys willingly—why, excellent. If not, then try by threats and
blows to correct him, as men straighten a warped and crooked sapling.” 
Also after he is fairly in school “the teacher is enjoined to pay more
attention to his morals and conduct than to his progress in reading and

53.  The Schoolboy’s Pedagogue.—It is a great day for an Athenian boy
when he is given a pedagogue.  This slave (perhaps purchased especially
for the purpose) is not his teacher, but he ought to be more than
ordinarily honest, kindly, and well informed.  His prime business is to
accompany the young master everywhere out-of-doors, especially to the
school and to the gymnasium; to carry his books and writing tablets; to
give informal help upon his lessons; to keep him out of every kind of
mischief; to teach him social good manners; to answer the thousand
questions a healthy boy is sure to ask; and finally, in emergencies, if
the schoolmaster or his father is not at hand, to administer a needful
whipping.  A really capable pedagogue can mean everything to a boy; but
it is asking too much that a purchased slave should be an ideal
companion.[*]  Probably many pedagogues are responsible for their
charges’ idleness or downright depravity.  It is a dubious system at
the best.

[*] No doubt frequently the pedagogue would be an old family servant of
good morals, loyalty, and zeal.  In that case the relation might be

The assigning of the pedagogue is simultaneous with the beginning of
school days; and the Athenians are not open to the charge of letting
their children waste their time during possible study hours.  As early
as Solon’s day (about 590 B.C.) a law had to be passed forbidding
schools to open _before_ daybreak, or to be kept open after dusk.  This
was in the interest not of good eyesight, but of good morals. 
Evidently schools had been keeping even longer than through the
daylight.  In any case, at gray dawn every yawning schoolboy is off,
urged on by his pedagogue, and his tasks will continue with very little
interruption through the entire day. It is therefore with reason that
the Athenian lads rejoice in the very numerous religious holidays.

54.  An Athenian School.—Leaving the worthy citizen’s home, where we
have lingered long chatting on many of the topics the house and its
denizens suggest, we will turn again to the streets to seek the school
where one of the young sons of the family has been duly conducted
(possibly, one may say, driven) by his pedagogue.  We have not far to
go.  Athenian schools have to be numerous, because they are small.  To
teach children of the poorer classes it is enough to have a modest room
and a few stools; an unrented shop will answer.  But we will go to a
more pretentious establishment. There is an anteroom by the entrance
way where the pedagogues can sit and doze or exchange gossip while
their respective charges are kept busy in the larger room within.  The
latter place, however, is not particularly commodious.  On the bare
wall hang book-rolls, lyres, drinking vessels, baskets for books, and
perhaps some simple geometric instruments.  The pupils sit on rude, low
benches, each lad with his boxwood tablet covered with wax[*] upon his
lap, and presumably busy, scratching letters with his stylus.  The
master sits on a high chair, surveying the scene.  He cultivates a grim
and awful aspect, for he is under no delusion that “his pupils love
him.”  “He sits aloft,” we are told, “like a juryman, with an
expression of implacable wrath, before which the pupil must tremble and

[*] This wax tablet was practically a slate.  The letters written could
be erased with the blunt upper end of the metallic stylus, and the
whole surface of the tablet could be made smooth again by a judicious

[+] The quotation is from the late writer Libanius, but it is perfectly
true for classic Athens.

Athenian schoolboys have at least their full share of idleness, as well
as of animal spirits.  There is soon a loud whisper from one corner. 
Instantly the ruling tyrant rises.  “Antiphon!  I have heard you.  Come
forward!”  If Antiphon is wise, he will advance promptly and submit as
cheerfully as possible to a sound caning; if folly possesses him, he
will hesitate.  At a nod from the master two older boys, who serve as
monitors, will seize him with grim chuckles.  He will then be fortunate
if he escapes being tied to a post and flogged until his back is one
mass of welts, and his very life seems in danger.  It will be useless
for him to complain to his parents.  A good schoolmaster is supposed to
flog frequently to earn his pay; if he is sparing with the rod or lash,
he is probably lacking in energy.  Boys will be boys, and there is only
one remedy for juvenile shortcomings.

This diversion, of course, with its attendant howling, interrupts the
course of the school, but presently matters again become normal. The
scholars are so few that probably there is only one teacher, and
instruction is decidedly “individual,” although poetry and singing are
very likely taught “in concert.”

55.  The School Curriculum.—As to the subjects studied, the Athenian
curriculum is well fixed and limited:  letters, music, and gymnastics. 
Every lad must have a certain amount of all of these. They gymnastics
will be taught later in the day by a special teacher at a “wrestling
school.”  The “music” may also be taught separately.  The main effort
with a young boy is surely to teach him to read and write.  And here
must be recalled the relative infrequency of complete books in classic
Athens.[*]  To read public placards, inscriptions of laws, occasional
epistles, commercial documents, etc., is probably, for many Athenians,
reading enough. The great poets he will learn by ear rather than by
eye; and he may go through a long and respected life and never be
compelled to read a really sizable volume from end to end.  So the
teaching of reading is along very simple lines.  It is perhaps
simultaneous with the learning of writing.  The twenty-four letters are
learned by sheer power of memory; then the master sets lines upon the
tablets to be copied.  As soon as possible the boy is put to learning
and writing down passages from the great poets.  Progress in mere
literacy is very rapid.  There is no waste of time on history,
geography, or physical science; and between the concentration on a
singly main subject and the impetus given by the master’s rod the
Athenian schoolboy soon becomes adept with his letters.  Possibly a
little arithmetic is taught him, but only a little.  In later life, if
he does not become a trader or banker, he will not be ashamed to reckon
simple sums upon his fingers or by means of pebbles; although if his
father is ambitious to have him become a philosopher, he may have him
taught something of geometry.

[*] One gets the impression that books—in the sense of complete
volumes—were much rarer in Athens than in Imperial Rome, or in later
Middle Ages up to the actual period of the invention of printing.

Once more we see the total absence of “vocational studies” in this
Athenian education.  The whole effort is to develop a fair, noble,
free, and lofty character, not to earn a living.  To set a boy to study
with an eye to learning some profitable trade is counted illiberal to
the last degree.  It is for this reason that practical arithmetic is
discouraged, yet a little knowledge of the art of outline drawing is
allowed; for though no gentleman intends to train his son to be a great
artist, the study will enable him to appreciate good sculpture and
painting.  Above all the schoolmaster, who, despite his brutal
austerity, ought to be a clear-sighted and inspiring teacher, must lose
no opportunity to instill moral lessons, and develop the best powers of
his charges.  Theoginis, the old poet of Megara, states the case well:—

To rear a child is easy; but to teach
Morals and manners is beyond our reach.
To make the foolish wise, the wicked good,
That science never yet understood.

56. The Study of the Poets.—It is for the developing of the best moral
and mental qualities in the lads that they are compelled to memorize
long passages of the great poets of Hellas.  Theoginis, with his pithy
admonitions cast in semi-proverb form, the worldly wisdom of Hesiod,
and of Phocylides are therefore duly flogged into every Attic
schoolboy.[*]  But the great text-book dwarfing all others, is
Homer,—“the Bible of the Greeks,” as later ages will call it.  Even in
the small school we visit, several of the pupils can repeat five or six
long episodes from both the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_, and there is one
older boy present (an extraordinary, but by no means an unprecedented
case) who can repeat _both_ of the long epics word for word.[+] 
Clearly the absence of many books has then its compensations.  The
average Athenian lad has what seems to be a simply marvelous memory.

[*] Phocylides, whose gnomic poetry is now preserved to us only in
scant fragments, was an Ionian, born about 560 B.C.  His verses were in
great acceptance in the schools.

[+] For such an attainment see Xenophon’s _Symposium_, 3:5.

And what an admirable text-book and “second reader” the Homeric poems
are!  What characters to imitate:  the high-minded, passionate, yet
withal loyal and lovable Achilles who would rather fight gloriously
before Troy (though death in the campaign is certain) than live a long
life in ignoble ease at home at Phthia; or Oysseus, the “hero of many
devices,” who endures a thousand ills and surmounts them all; who lets
not even the goddess Calypso seduce him from his love to his “sage
Penelope”; who is ever ready with a clever tale, a plausible lie, and,
when the need comes, a mighty deed of manly valor.  The boys will all
go home to-night with firm resolves to suffer all things rather than
leave a comrade unavenged, as Achilles was tempted to do and nobly
refused, and to fight bravely, four against forty, as Odysseus and his
comrades did, when at the call of duty and honor they cleared the house
of the dastard suitors. True, philosophers like Plato complain:  “Homer
gives to lads very undignified and unworthy ideas of the gods”; and men
of a later age will assert:  “Homer has altogether too little to say
about the cardinal virtues of truthfulness and honesty.”[*]  But making
all allowances the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ are still the two grandest
secular text-books the world will ever know.  The lads are definitely
the better for them.

[*] The virtue of unflinching _honesty_ was undoubtedly the thing least
cultivated by the Greek education.  Successful prevarication, _e.g._ in
the case of Odysseus, was put at altogether too high a premium. It is
to be feared that the average Athenian schoolboy was only partially
truthful.  The tale of “George Washington and the cherry tree” would
never have found favor in Athens.  The great Virginian would have been
blamed for failing to concoct a clever lie.

Three years, according to Plato, are needed to learn the rudiments of
reading and writing before the boys are fairly launched upon this study
of the poets.  For several years more they will spend most of their
mornings standing respectfully before their master, while he from his
chair reads to them from the roll of one author or another,—the pupils
repeating the lines, time and again, until they have learned them,
while the master interrupts to explain every nice point in mythology,
in real or alleged history, or a moot question in ethics.

57.  The Greeks do not study Foreign Languages.—As the boys grow older
the scope of their study naturally increases; but in one particular
their curriculum will seem strangely limited. _The study of foreign
languages has no place in a Greek course of study._ That any gentleman
should learn say Persian, or Egyptian (unless he intended to devote
himself to distant travel), seems far more unprofitable than, in a
later age, the study of say Patagonian or Papuan will appear.[*]  Down
at the Peiræus there are a few shipmasters, perhaps, who can talk
Egyptian, Phœnecian, or Babylonish. They need the knowledge for their
trade, but even they will disclaim any cultural value for their
accomplishment.  The euphonious, expressive, marvelously delicate
tongue of Hellas sums up for the Athenian almost all that is valuable
in the world’s intellectual and literary life.  What has the outer, the
“Barbarian,” world to give him?—Nothing, many will say, but some gold
darics which will corrupt his statesmen, and some spices, carpets, and
similar luxuries which good Hellenes can well do without.  The Athenian
lad will never need to crucify the flesh upon Latin, French, and
German, or an equivalent for his own Greek.  Therein perhaps he may be
heavily the loser, save that his own mother tongue is so intricate and
full of subtle possibilities that to learn to make the full use thereof
is truly a matter for lifelong education.

[*] This fact did not prevent the Greeks from having a considerable
respect for the traditions and lore of, _e.g._, the Egyptians, and from
borrowing a good many non-Greek usages and inventions; but all this
could take place without feeling the least necessity for studying
foreign languages.

58.  The Study of “Music.”—But the Athenian has a substitute for this
omission of foreign language study: _Music_.  This is something more
comprehensive than “the art of combining tones in a manner to please
the ear” [Webster].  It is practically the study of whatever will
develop the noble powers of the emotions, as contrasted to the mere
intellect.[*]  Indeed everything which comes within the ample provinces
of the nine Muses, even sober history, might be included in the term. 
However, for special purposes, the study of “Music” may be considered
as centering around playing instruments and singing.  The teacher very
likely resides in a house apart from the master of the school of
letters.  Aristophanes gives this picture of the good old customs for
the teaching of music.  “The boys from the same section of the town
have to march thinly clad and draw up in good order—though the snow be
thick as meal—to the house of the harp master.  There he will teach
them [some famous tune] raising a mighty melody.  If any one acts silly
or turns any quavers, he gets a good hard thrashing for ‘banishing the

[*] Aristotle [_Politics_, V. (or VIII.) 1] says that the literary
education is to train the mind; while music, though of no practical
use, “provides a noble and liberal employment of leisure.”

[+] Aristophanes’s _The Clouds_.  The whole passage is cited in Davis’s
_Readings in Ancient History_, vol. I, pp. 252-255.

Learning to sing is probably the most important item, for every boy and
man ought to be able to bear his part in the great chorals which are a
notable element in most religious festivals; besides, a knowledge of
singing is a great aid to appreciating lyric poetry, or the choruses in
tragedy, and in learning to declaim.  To learn to sing elaborate solo
pieces is seldom necessary,—it is not quite genteel in grown-up
persons, for it savors a little too much of the professional.  So it is
also with instrumental music.  The Greeks lack the piano, the organ,
the elaborate brass instruments of a later day.  Their flutes and
harps, although very sweet, might seem thin to a twentieth-century
critic.  But one can gain considerable volume by the great _number_ of
instruments, and nearly everybody in Athens can pick at the lyre after
a fashion.  The common type of harp is the lyre, and it has enough
possibilities for the average boy. The more elaborate _cithera_ is
usually reserved for professionals.[*] An Athenian lad is expected to
be able to accompany his song upon his own lyre and to play in concert
with his fellows.

[*] For the details of these harp types of instruments see Dictionary
of Antiquities.

The other instrument in common use is the _flute_.  At its simplest,
this is a mere shepherd’s pipe.  Anybody can make one with a knife and
some rushes.  Then come elaborations; two pipes are fitted together
into one wooden mouthpiece.  Now, we really have an instrument with
possibilities.  But it is not in such favor in the schools as the lyre.
 You cannot blow day after day upon the flute and not distort your
cheeks permanently.  Again the gentleman’s son will avoid
“professionalism.”  There are amateur flute players moving in the best
society, but the more fastidious frown upon the instrument, save for
hired performers.

59.  The Moral Character of Greek Music.—Whether it is singing, harp
playing, or flute playing, a most careful watch is kept upon the
_character_ of the music taught the lads.  The master who lets his
pupils learn many soft, dulcet, languishing airs will find his charges’
parents extremely angry, even to depriving him of their patronage. 
Very soft music, in “Lydian modes,” is counted effeminate, fit only for
the women’s quarters and likely to do boys no good. The riotous type
also, of the “Ionic mode,” is fit only for drinking songs and is even
more under the ban.[*]  What is especially in favor is the stern,
strenuous Dorian mode.  This will make boys hardy, manly, and brave. 
Very elaborate music with trills and quavers is in any case frowned
upon.  It simply delights the trained ear, and has no reaction upon the
character; and of what value is a musical presentation unless it leaves
the hearers and performer better, worthier men?  Let the average
Athenian possess the opportunity, and he will infallibly stamp with
disapproval a great part of both the popular and the classical music of
the later ages.[+]

[*] The “Phrygian mode” from which the “Ionic” was derived was still
more demoralizing; it was counted “orgiastic,” and proper only in
certain excited religious rhapsodies.

[+] We have extremely few Greek melodies preserved to us and these few
are not attractive to the modern ear.  All that can fairly be said is
that the Hellenes were obvious such æsthetic, harmoniously minded
people that it is impossible their music should have failed in
nobility, beauty, and true melody.

60.  The Teaching of Gymnastics.—The visits to the reading school and
to the harp master have consumed a large part of the day; but towards
afternoon the pedagogues will conduct their charges to the third of the
schoolboys’ tyrants:  the gymnastic teacher.  Nor do his parents count
this the least important of the three.  Must not their sons be as
physically “beautiful” (to use the common phrase in Athens) as
possible, and must they not some day, as good citizens, play their
brave part in war?  The _palæstras_ (literally “wrestling grounds”) are
near the outskirts of the city, where land is cheap and a good-sized
open space can be secured.  Here the lads are given careful instruction
under the constant eye of an expert in running, wrestling, boxing,
jumping, discus hurling, and javelin casting.  They are not expected to
become professional athletes, but their parents will be vexed if they
do not develop a healthy tan all over their naked bodies,[*] and if
they do not learn at least moderate proficiency in the sports and a
certain amount of familiarity with elementary military maneuvers.  Of
course boys of marked physical ability will be encouraged to think of
training for the various great “games” which culminate at Olympia,
although enlightened opinion is against the promoting of professional
athletics; and certain extreme philosophers question the wisdom of any
extensive physical culture at all, “for (say they) is not the human
mind the real thing worth developing?”[+]

[*] To have a pale, untanned skin was “womanish” and unworthy of a free
Athenian citizen.

[+] The details of the boys’ athletic games, being much of a kind with
those followed by adults at the regular public gymnasia, are here
omitted.  See Chap. XVII.

Weary at length and ready for a hearty meal and sleep, the boys are
conducted homeward by their pedagogues.

As they grow older the lads with ambitious parents will be given a more
varied education.  Some will be put under such teachers of the new
rhetoric and oratory, now in vogue, as the famous Isocrates, and be
taught to play the orator as an aid to inducing their fellow citizens
to bestow political advancement.  Certain will be allowed to become
pupils of Plato, who has been teaching his philosophy out at the groves
of the Academy, or to join some of his rivals in theoretical wisdom. 
Into these fields, however, we cannot follow them.

61.  The Habits and Ambitions of Schoolboys.—It is a clear fact, that
by the age say of thirteen, the Athenian education has had a marked
effect upon the average schoolboy.  Instead of being “the most
ferocious of animals,” as Plato, speaking of his untutored state
describes him, he is now “the most amiable and divine of living
beings.”  The well-trained lad goes now to school with his eyes cast
upon the ground, his hands and arms wrapped in his chiton, making way
dutifully for all his elders.  If he is addressed by an older man, he
stands modestly, looking downward and blushing in a manner worthy of a
girl.  He has been taught to avoid the Agora, and if he must pass it,
never to linger.  The world is full of evil and ugly things, but he is
taught to hear and see as little of them as possible.  When men talk of
his healthy color, increasing beauty, and admire the graceful curves of
his form at the wrestling school, he must not grow proud.  He is being
taught to learn relatively little from books, but a great deal from
hearing the conversation of grave and well-informed men.  As he grows
older his father will take him to all kinds of public gatherings and
teach him the working details of the “Democratic Government” of Athens.
 He becomes intensely proud of his city.  It is at length his chief
thought, almost his entire life.  A very large part of the loyalty
which an educated man of a later age will divide between his home, his
church, his college, his town, and his nation, the Athenian lad will
sum up in two words,—“my _polis_”; _i.e._ the city of Athens. His home
is largely a place for eating and sleeping; his school is not a great
institution, it is simply a kind of disagreeable though necessary
learning shop; his church is the religion of his ancestors, and this
religion is warp and woof of the government, as much a part thereof as
the law courts or the fighting fleet; his town and his nation are alike
the sovran city-state of Athens. Whether he feels keenly a wider
loyalty to Hellas at large, as against the Great King of Persia, for
instance, will depend upon circumstances.  In a real crisis, as at
Salamis,—yes.  In ordinary circumstances when there is a hot feud with

62.  The “Ephebi.”—The Athenian education then is admirably adapted to
make the average lad a useful and worthy citizen, and to make him
modest, alert, robust, manly, and a just lover of the beautiful, both
in conduct and in art.  It does not, however, develop his individual
bent very strongly; and it certainly gives him a mean view of the
dignity of labor.  He will either become a leisurely gentleman, whose
only proper self-expression will come in warfare, politics, or
philosophy; or—if he be poor—he will at least envy and try to imitate
the leisure class.

By eighteen the young Athenian’s days of study will usually come to a
close.  At that age he will be given a simple festival by his father
and be formally enrolled in his paternal _deme_.[*]  His hair, which
has hitherto grown down toward his shoulders, will be clipped short. 
He will allow his beard to grow.  At the temple of Aglaurus he will
(with the other youths of his age) take solemn oath of loyalty to
Athens and her laws.  For the next year he will serve as a military
guard at the Peiræus, and receive a certain training in soldiering. 
The next year the state will present him with a new shield and spear,
and he will have a taste of the rougher garrison duty at one of the
frontier forts towards Bœtia or Megara.[+]  Then he is mustered out. 
He is an ephebus no longer, but a full-fledged citizen, and all the
vicissitudes of Athenian life are before him.

[*] One of the hundred or more petty townships or precincts into which
Attica was divided.

[+] These two years which the _ephebi_ of Athens had to serve under
arms have been aptly likened to the military service now required of
young men in European countries.

Chapter X.
The Physicians of Athens.

63.  The Beginnings of Greek Medical Science.—As we move about the city
we cannot but be impressed by the high average of fine physiques and
handsome faces.  Your typical Greek is fair in color and has very
regular features.  The youths do not mature rapidly, but thanks to the
gymnasia and the regular lives, they develop not merely admirable, but
healthy, bodies.  The proportion of hale and hearty _old_ men is great;
and probably the number of invalids is considerably smaller than in
later times and in more artificially reared communities.[*] 
Nevertheless, the Athenians are certainly mortal, and subject to bodily
ills, and the physician is no unimportant member of society, although
his exact status is much less clearly determined than it will be in
subsequent ages.

[*] A slight but significant witness to the general healthiness of the
Greeks is found in the very rare mention in their literature of such a
common ill as _toothache_.

Greek medicine and surgery, as it appears in Homer, is simply a certain
amount of practical knowledge gained by rough experience, largely
supplemented by primitive superstition.  It was quite as important to
know the proper prayers and charms wherewith to approach “Apollo the
Healer,” as to understand the kind of herb poultice which would keep
wounds from festering.  Homer speaks of Asclepius; however, in early
days he was not a god, but simply a skilful leach. Then as we approach
historic times the physician’s art becomes more regular.  Asclepius is
elevated into a separate and important deity, although it is not till
420 B.C. that his worship is formally introduced into Athens.  Long ere
that time, however, medicine and surgery had won a real place among the
practical sciences.  The sick man stands at least a tolerable chance of
rational treatment, and of not being murdered by wizards and fanatical

64.  Healing Shrines and their Methods.—There exist in Athens and in
other Greek cities real sanataria[*]; these are temples devoted to the
healing gods (usually Asclepius, but sometimes Apollo, Aphrodite, and
Hera).  Here the patient is expected to sleep over night in the temple,
and the god visits him in a dream, and reveals a course of treatment
which will lead to recovery.  Probably there is a good deal of sham and
imposture about the process.  The canny priests know more than they
care to tell about how the patient is worked into an excitable,
imaginative state; and of the very human means employed to produce a
satisfactory and informing dream.[+] Nevertheless it is a great deal to
convince the patient that he is sure of recovery, and that nobody less
than a god has dictated the remedies.  The value of mental therapeutics
is keenly appreciated. Attached to the temple are skilled physicians to
“interpret” the dream, and opportunities for prolonged residence with
treatment by baths, purgation, dieting, mineral waters, sea baths, all
kinds of mild gymnastics, etc.  Entering upon one of these temple
treatments is, in short anything but surrendering oneself to
unmitigated quackery. Probably a large proportion of the former
patients have recovered; and they have testified their gratitude by
hanging around the shrine little votive tablets,[$] usually pictures of
the diseased parts now happily healed, or, for internal maladies, a
written statement of the nature of the disease.  This is naturally very
encouraging to later patients:  they gain confidence knowing that many
cases similar to their own have been thus cured.

[*] The most famous was at Epidaurus, where the Asclepius cult seems to
have been especially localized.

[+] The “healing sleep” employed at these temples is described, in a
kind of blasphemous parody, in Aristophanes’s _Plutus_. (Significant
passages are quoted in Davis’s _Readings in Ancient History_, vol. I,
pp. 258-261.)

[$] Somewhat as in the various Catholic pilgrimage shrines (_e.g._
Lourdes) to-day.

These visits to the healing temples are, however, expensive:  not
everybody has entire faith in them; for many lesser ills also they are
wholly unnecessary.  Let us look, then, at the regular physicians.

65.  An Athenian Physician’s Office.—There are salaried public medical
officers in Athens, and something like a public dispensary where free
treatment is given citizens in simple cases; but the average man seems
to prefer his own doctor.[*]  We may enter the office of Menon, a
“regular private practitioner,” and look about us.  The office itself
is a mere open shop in the front of a house near the Agora; and, like a
barber’s shop is something of a general lounging place.  In the rear
one or two young disciples (doctors in embryo) and a couple of slaves
are pounding up drugs in mortars. There are numbers of bags of dried
herbs and little glass flasks hanging on the walls.  Near the entrance
is a statue of Asclepius the Healer, and also of the great human
founder of the real medical science among the Greeks—Hippocrates.

[*] We know comparatively little of these public physicians; probably
they were mainly concerned with the health of the army and naval force,
the prevention of epidemics, etc.

Menon himself is just preparing to go out on his professional calls. 
He is a handsome man in the prime of his life, and takes great pains
with his personal appearance.  His himation is carefully draped.  His
finger rings have excellent cameos.  His beard has been neatly trimmed,
and he has just bathed and scented himself with delicate Assyrian nard.
 He will gladly tell you that he is in no wise a fop, but that it is
absolutely necessary to produce a pleasant personal impression upon his
fastidious, irritable patients.  Menon himself claims to have been a
personal pupil of the great Hippocrates,[*] and about every other
reputable Greek physician will make the same claim.  He has studied
more or less in a temple of Asclepius, and perhaps has been a member of
the medical staff thereto attached.  He has also become a member of the
Hippocratic brotherhood, a semi-secret organization, associated with
the Asclepius cult, and cheerfully cherishing the dignity of the
profession and the secret arts of the guild.

[*] Who was still alive, an extremely old man.  He died in Thessaly in
357 B.C., at an alleged age of 104 years.

66.  The Physician’s Oath.—The oath which all this brotherhood has
sworn is noble and notable.  Here are some of the main provisions:—

“I swear by Apollo the Physician, and Asclepius and Hygeia; a [Lady
Health] and Panaceia [Lady All-Cure] to honor as my parents the master
who taught me this art, and to admit to my own instruction only his
sons, my own sons, and those who have been duly inscribed as pupils,
and who have taken the medical oath, and no others.  I will prescribe
such treatment as may be for the benefit of my patients, according to
my best power and judgment, and preserve them from anything hurtful or
mischievous.  I will never, even if asked, administer poison, nor
advise its use.  I will never give a criminal draught to a woman.  I
will maintain the purity and integrity of my art.  Wherever I go, I
will abstain from all mischief or corruption, or any immodest action. 
If ever I hear any secret I will not divulge it.  If I keep this oath,
may the gods give me success in life and in my art.  If I break this
oath, may all the reverse fall upon me.”[*]

[*] For the unabridged translation of this oath, see Smith’s
_Dictionary of Antiquities_ (revised edition), vol. II, p. 154.

67.  The Skill of Greek Physicians.—Menon’s skill as a physician and
surgeon is considerable.  True, he has only a very insufficient
conception of anatomy.  His _theoretical_ knowledge is warped, but he
is a shrewd judge of human nature and his _practical_ knowledge is not
contemptible.  In his private pharmacy his assistants have compounded a
great quantity of drugs which he knows how to administer with much
discernment.  He has had considerable experience in dealing with wounds
and sprains, such as are common in the wars or in the athletic games. 
He understands that Dame Nature is a great healer, who is to be
assisted rather than coerced; and he dislikes resorting to violent
remedies, such as bleedings and strong emetics.  Ordinary fevers and
the like he can attack with success.  He has no modern anæsthetics or
opium, but has a very insufficient substitute in mandragora.  He can
treat simple diseases of the eye; and he knows how to put gold filling
into teeth.  His surgical instruments, however, are altogether too
primitive.  He is personally cleanly; but he has not the least idea of
antiseptics; the result is that obscure internal diseases, calling for
grave operations, are likely to baffle him.  He will refuse to operate,
or if he does operate the chances are against the patient.[*]  In other
words, his medical skill is far in advance of his surgery.

[*] Seemingly a really serious operation was usually turned over by the
local physician to a traveling surgeon, who could promptly disappear
from the neighborhood if things went badly.

Menon naturally busies himself among the best families of Athens, and
commands a very good income.  He counts it part of his equipment to be
able to persuade his patients, by all the rules of logic and rhetoric,
to submit to disagreeable treatment; and for that end has taken lessons
in informal oratory from Isocrates or one of his associates.  Some of
Menon’s competitors (feeling themselves less eloquent) have actually a
paid rhetorician whom they can take to the bedside of a stubborn
invalid, to induce him by irrefutable arguments to endure an

[*] Plato tells how Gorgias, the famous rhetorician, was sometimes thus
hired.  A truly Greek artifice—this substitution of oratory for

No such honor of course is paid to the intellects of the poorer fry,
who swarm in at Menon’s surgery.  Those who cannot pay to have him
bandage them himself, perforce put up with the secondary skill and
wisdom of the “disciples.”  The drug-mixing slaves are expected to
salve and physic the patients of their own class; but there seems to be
a law against allowing them to attempt the treatment of free-born men.

68.  Quacks and Charlatans.—Unluckily not everybody is wise enough to
put up with the presumably honest efforts of Menon’s underlings. There
appears to be no law against anybody who wishes to pose as a physician,
and to sell his inexperience and his quack nostrums. Vendors of every
sort of cure-all abound, as well as creatures who work on the
superstitions and pretend to cure by charms and hocus-pocus. In the
market there is such a swarm of these charlatans of healing that they
bring the whole medical profession into contempt.  Certain people go so
far as to distrust the efficacy of any part of the lore of Asclepius. 
Says one poet tartly:—

The surgeon Menedemos, as men say,
    Touched as he passed a Zeus of marble white;
    Neither the marble nor his Zeus-ship might
Avail the god—they buried him to-day.

And again even to dream of the quacks is dangerous:—

Diophantes, sleeping, saw
    Hermas the physician:
Diophantes never woke
    From that fatal vision.[*]

[*] Both of these quotations probably date from later than 360 B.C.,
but they are perfectly in keeping with the general opinion of Greek

All in all, despite Menon’s good intentions and not despicable skill,
it is fortunate the gods have made “Good Health” one of their commonest
gifts to the Athenians.  Constant exercise in the gymnasia, occasional
service in the army, the absence of cramping and unhealthful office
work, and a climate which puts out-of-door existence at a premium,
secure for them a general good health that compensates for most of the
lack of a scientific medicine.

Chapter XI.
The Funerals.

69.  An Athenian’s Will.—All Menon’s patient’s are to-day set out upon
the road to recovery.  Hipponax, his rival, has been less fortunate.  A
wealthy and elderly patient, Lycophron, died the day before yesterday. 
As the latter felt his end approaching, he did what most Athenians may
put off until close to the inevitable hour—he made his will, and called
in his friends to witness it; and one must hope there can be no doubt
about the validity, the signets attached, etc., for otherwise the heirs
may find themselves in a pretty lawsuit.

The will begins in this fashion:  “The Testament of Lyophron the
Marathonian.[*]  May all be well:—but if I do not recover from this
sickness, thus do I bestow my estate.”  Then in perfectly cold-blooded
fashion he proceeds to give his young wife and the guardianship of his
infant daughter to Stobiades, a bachelor friend who will probably marry
the widow within two months or less of the funeral.  Lycophron gives
also specific directions about his tomb; he gives legacies of money or
jewelry to various old associates; he mentions certain favorite slaves
to receive freedom, and as specifically orders certain others (victims
of his displeasure) to be kept in bondage.  Lastly three reliable
friends are names as executors.

[*] In all Athenian legal documents, it was necessary to give the deme
of the interested party or parties.

70.  The Preliminaries of a Funeral.—An elaborate funeral is the last
perquisite of every Athenian.  Even if Lycophron had been a poor man he
would now receive obsequies seemingly far out of proportion to his
estate and income.  It is even usual in Greek states to have laws
restraining the amount which may be spent upon funerals,—otherwise
great sums may be literally “burned up” upon the funeral pyres. When
now the tidings go out that Lycophron’s nearest relative has “closed
his mouth,” after he has breathed his last, all his male kinsfolk and
all other persons who _hope_ to be remembered in the will promptly
appear in the Agora in black himatia[*] and hasten to the barber shops
to have their heads shaved.  The widow might shave her hair likewise,
with all her slave maids, did not her husband, just ere his death,
positively forbid such disfigurements. The women of the family take the
body in charge the minute the physician has declared that all is over. 
The customary obol is put in the mouth of the corpse,[+] and the body
is carefully washed in perfumed water, clothed in festal white; then
woolen fillets are wound around the head, and over these a crown of
vine leaves.  So arrayed, the body is ready to be laid out on a couch
in the front courtyard of the house, with the face turned toward the
door so as to seem to greet everybody who enters.  In front of the
house there stands a tall earthen vase of water, wherewith the visitors
may give themselves a purifying sprinkling, after quitting the
polluting presence of a dead body.

[*] In the important city of Argos, however, _white_ was the proper
funeral color.

[+] This was not originally (as later asserted) a fee to Charon the
ferryman to Hades, but simply a “minimum precautionary sum, for the
dead man’s use” (Dr. Jane Harrison), placed in the mouth, where a Greek
usually kept his small change.

71.  Lamenting of the Dead.—Around this funeral bed the relatives and
friends keep a gloomy vigil.  The Athenians after all are southern
born, and when excited seem highly emotional people.  There are stern
laws dating from Solon’s day against the worst excesses, but what now
occurs seems violent enough.  The widow is beating her breast, tearing
her hair, gashing her cheeks with her finger nails.  Lycophron’s
elderly sister has ashes sprinkled upon her gray head and ever and anon
utters piteous wails.  The slave women in the background keep up a
hideous moaning.  The men present do not think it undignified to utter
loud lamentation and to shed frequent tears.  Least commendable of all
(from a modern standpoint) are the hired dirge singers, who maintain a
most melancholy chant, all the time beating their breasts, and giving a
perfect imitation of frantic grief.  This has probably continued day
and night, the mourners perhaps taking turns by relays.

All in all it is well that Greek custom enjoins the actual funeral, at
least, on the second day following the death.[*]  The “shade” of the
deceased is not supposed to find rest in the nether world until after
the proper obsequies.[+]  To let a corpse lie several days without
final disposition will bring down on any family severe reproach.  In
fact, on few points are the Greeks more sensitive than on this subject
of prompt burial or cremation.  After a land battle the victors are
bound never to push their vengeance so far as to refuse a “burial
truce” to the vanquished; and it is a doubly unlucky admiral who lets
his crews get drowned in a sea fight, without due effort to recover the
corpses afterward and to give them proper disposition on land.

[*] It must be remembered that the Greeks had no skilled embalmers at
their service, and that they lived in a decidedly warm climate.

[+] See the well-known case of the wandering shade of Patroclus
demanding the proper obsequies from Achilles (_Iliad_, XXIII. 71).

72.  The Funeral Procession.—The day after the “laying-out” comes the
actual funeral.  Normally it is held as early as possible in the
morning, before the rising of the sun.  Perhaps while on the way to the
Agora we have passed, well outside the city, such a mournful
procession.  The youngest and stoutest of the male relatives carry the
litter:  although if Lycophron’s relatives had desired a really
extravagant display they might have employed a mule car. Ahead of the
bier march the screaming flute players, earning their fees by no
melodious din.  Then comes the litter itself with the corpse arrayed
magnificently for the finalities, a honey cake set in the hands,[*] a
flask of oil placed under the head.  After this come streaming the
relatives in irregular procession:  the widow and the chief heir (her
prospective second husband!) walking closest, and trying to appear as
demonstrative as possible:  nor (merely because the company is noisy
and not stoical in its manner) need we deny that there is abundant
genuine grief.  All sorts of male acquaintances of the deceased bring
up the rear, since it is good form to proclaim to wide Athens that
Lycophon had hosts of friends.[+]

[*] The original idea of the honey cake was simply that it was a
friendly present to the infernal gods; later came the conceit that it
was a sop to fling to the dog Cerberus, who guarded the entrance to

[+] Women, unless they were over sixty years of age, were not allowed
to join in funeral processions unless they were first cousins, or
closer kin, of the deceased.

73.  The Funeral Pyre.—So the procession moves through the still gloomy
streets of the city,—doubtless needing torch bearers as well as flute
players,—and out through some gate, until the line halts in an open
field, or better, in a quiet and convenient garden. Here the great
funeral pyre of choice dry fagots, intermixed with aromatic cedar, has
been heaped.  The bier is laid thereon.  There are no strictly
religious ceremonies.  The company stands in a respectful circle, while
the nearest male kinsman tosses a pine link upon the oil-soaked wood. 
A mighty blaze leaps up to heaven, sending its ruddy brightness against
the sky now palely flushed with the bursting dawn.  The flutists play
in softer measures.  As the fire rages a few of the relatives toss upon
it pots of rare unguents; and while the flames die down, thrice the
company shout their farewells, calling their departed friend by
name—“Lycophron! Lycophron!  Lycophron!”

So fierce is the flame it soon sinks into ashes.  As soon as these are
cool enough for safety (a process hastened by pouring on water or wine)
the charred bones of the deceased are tenderly gathered up to be placed
in a stately urn.  The company, less formally now, returns to Athens,
and that night there will probably be a great funeral feast at the
house of the nearest relative, everybody eating and drinking to
capacity “to do Lycophron full honor”; for it is he who is imagined as
being now for the last time the host.

74.  Honors to the memory of the Dead.—Religion seems to have very
little place in the Athenian funeral:  there are no priests present, no
prayers, no religious hymns.  But the dead man is now conceived as
being, in a very humble and intangible way, a deity himself:  his good
will is worth propitiating; his memory is not to be forgotten.  On the
third, ninth, and thirtieth days after the funeral there are simple
religious ceremonies with offerings of garlands, fruits, libations and
the like, at the new tomb; and later at certain times in the year these
will be repeated.  The more enlightened will of course consider these
merely graceful remembrances of a former friend; but there is a good
deal of primitive ancestor worship even in civilized Athens.

_Burning_ is the usual method for the Greeks to dispose of their dead,
but the burial of unburned bodies is not unknown to them. Probably,
however, the rocky soil and the limited land space around Athens make
regular cemeteries less convenient than elsewhere:  still it would have
been nothing exceptional if Lycophron had ordered in his will that he
be put in a handsome pottery coffin to be placed in a burial ground
pertaining to his family.

A lady is gazing upon her casket of jewels before bidding them eternal
farewell. Note the admirable restraint yet pathos of the scene.]

75.  The Beautiful Funeral Monuments.—If the noisy funeral customs
permitted to the Athenians may repel a later day observer, there can be
only praise for the Athenian tombs, or rather the funeral monuments
(_stëlæ_) which might be set over the urns or ashes or the actual
coffins.  Nearly every Athenian family has a private field which it
uses for sepulchral purposes:  but running outside of the city, near
the Itonian Gate along the road to the Peiræus, the space to either
side of the highway has been especially appropriated for this purpose.
Walking hither along this “Street of the Tombs” we can make a careful
survey of some of the most touching memorials of Athenian life.

The period of hot, violent grief seems now over; the mourners have
settled down in their dumb sense of loss.  This spirit of calm, noble
resignation is what is expressed upon these monuments.  All is chaste,
dignified, simple.  There are no labored eulogies of the deceased; no
frantic expressions of sorrow; no hint (let it be also said) of any
hope of reunions in the Hereafter.  Sometimes there is simply a plain
marble slab or pillar marked with the name of the deceased; and with
even the more elaborate monuments the effort often is to concentrate,
into one simple scene, the best and worthiest that was connected with
the dear departed.  Here is the noble mother seated in quiet dignity
extending her hand in farewell to her sad but steadfast husband, while
her children linger wonderingly by; here is the athlete, the young man
in his pride, depicted not in the moment of weakness and death, but
scraping his glorious form with his strigil, after some victorious
contest in the games; here is the mounted warrior, slain before Corinth
whilst battling for his country, represented in the moment of
overthrowing beneath his flying charger some despairing foe.  We are
made to feel that these Athenians were fair and beautiful in their
lives, and that in their deaths they were not unworthy.  And we marvel,
and admire these monuments the more when we realize that they are not
the work of master sculptors but of ordinary paid craftsmen.  We turn
away praising the city that could produce such noble sculpture and call
it mere handicraft, and praising also the calm poise of soul,
uncomforted by revealed religion, which could make these monuments
common expressions of the bitterest, deepest, most vital emotions which
can ever come to men.[*]

[*] As Von Falke (_Greece and Rome_, p. 141) well says of these
monuments, “No skeleton, no scythe, no hour-glass is in them to bring a
shudder to the beholder.  As they [the departed] were in life, mother
and daughter, husband and wife, parents and children, here they are
represented together, sitting or standing, clasping each other’s hands
and looking at one another with love and sympathy as if it were their
customary affectionate intercourse.  What the stone perpetuates is the
love and happiness they enjoyed together, while yet they rejoiced in
life and the light of day.”

Chapter XII.
Trade, Manufactures, and Banking.

76.  The Commercial Importance of Athens.—While the funeral mourners
are wending their slow way homeward we have time to examine certain
phases of Athenian life at which we have previously glanced, then
ignored.  Certain it is, most “noble and good” gentlemen delight to be
considered persons of polite uncommercial leisure; equally certain it
is that a good income is about as desirable in Athens as anywhere else,
and many a stately “Eupatrid,” who seems to spend his whole time in
dignified walks, discoursing on politics or philosophy, is really
keenly interested in trades, factories, or farms, of which his less
nobly born stewards have the active management.  Indeed one of the
prime reasons for Athenian greatness is the fact that Athens is the
richest and greatest commercial city of Continental Hellas, with only
Corinth as a formidable rival.[*]

[*] Syracuse in distant Sicily was possibly superior to Athens in
commerce and economic prosperity, although incomparably behind her in
the empire of the arts and literature.

To understand the full extent of Athenian commercial prosperity we must
visit the Peiræus, yet in the main city itself will be found almost
enough examples of the chief kinds of economic activity.

77.  The Manufacturing Activities of Athens.—Attica is the seat of much
manufacturing.  Go to the suburbs:  everywhere is the rank odor of the
tanneries; down at the harbors are innumerable ship carpenters and sail
and tackle makers, busy in the shipyards; from almost every part of the
city comes the clang of hammer and anvil where hardware of all kinds is
being wrought in the smithies; and finally the potter makers are so
numerous as to require special mention hereafter.  But no list of all
the manufacturing activities is here possible; enough that practically
every known industry is represented in Athens, and the “industrial”
class is large.[*]  A very large proportion of the industrial laborers
are slaves, but by no means all.  A good many are real Athenian
citizens; a still larger proportion are “metics” (resident foreigners
without political rights).  The competition of slave labor, however,
tends to keep wages very low.  An unskilled laborer will have to be
content with his 3 obols (9 cents [1914] or $1.51 [2000]) per day; but
a trained workman will demand a drachma (18 cents [1914] or $3.02
[2000]) or even more.  There are no labor unions or trade guilds.  A
son usually, though not invariably, follows his father’s profession.
Each industry and line of work tends to have its own little street or
alley, preferably leading off the Agora.  “The Street of the Marble
Workers,” the “Street of the Box Makers,” and notably the “Street of
the Potters” contain nearly all the workshops of a given kind. Probably
you can find no others in the city.  Prices are regulated by custom and
competition; in case any master artisan is suspected of “enhancing” the
price of a needful commodity, or his shady business methods seem
dangerous to the public, there is no hesitation in invoking an old law
or passing a new one in the Assembly to bring him to account.

[*] For a very suggestive list of the numerous kinds of Greek
industries (practically all of which would be represented in Athens)
see H. J. Edwards, in Whibley’s _Companion to Greek Studies_, p. 431.

[Illustration: At the Smithy]

Manufacturers are theoretically under a social ban, and indeed yonder
petty shoemaker, who, with his two apprentices, first makes up his
cheap sandals, then sells them over the low counter before his own
ship, is very far from being a “leisurely” member of the “noble and the
good.”  But he who, like the late Lycophron, owns a furniture factory
employing nigh threescore slaves, can be sure of lying down on his
couch at a dinner party among the very best; for, as in twentieth
century England, even manufacture and “trade,” if on a sufficiently
large scale, cover a multitude of social sins.[*]

[*] Plato, probably echoing thoughtful Greek opinion, considered it bad
for manufacturers to be either too wealthy or too poor; thus a potter
getting too rich will neglect his art, and grow idle; if, however, he
cannot afford proper tools, he will manufacture inferior wares, and his
sons will be even worse workmen then he. Such comment obviously comes
from a society where most industrial life is on a small scale.

78.  The Commerce of Athens.—Part of Athenian wealth comes from the
busy factories, great and small, which seem everywhere; still more
riches come in by the great commerce which will be found centered at
the Peiræus.  Here is the spacious _Deigma_, a kind of exchange-house
where ship masters can lay out samples of their wares on display, and
sell to the important wholesalers, who will transmit to the petty
shopkeepers and the “ultimate consumer.”[*]

[*] Of course a very large proportion of Greek manufactures wares were
never exported, but were sold direct by the manufacturer to the
consumer himself.  This had various disadvantages; but there was this
large gain: _only one profit_ was necessary to be added to the mere
cost of production.  This aided to make Greece (from a modern
standpoint) a paradise of low prices.

There are certain articles of which various districts make a specialty,
and which Athens is constantly importing:  Bœtia sends chariots;
Thessaly, easy chairs; Chios and Miletos, bedding; and Miletos,
especially, very fine woolens.  Greece in general looks to Syria and
Arabia for the much-esteemed spices and perfumes; to Egypt for papyri
for the book rolls; to Babylonia for carpets.  To discuss the whole
problem of Athenian commerce would require a book in itself; but
certain main facts stand out clearly.  One is that Attica herself has
extremely few natural products to export—only her olive oil, her
Hymettus honey, and her magnificent marbles—dazzling white from
Pentelicos, gray from Hymettus, blue or black from Eleusis.  Again we
soon notice the great part which _grain_ plays in Athenian commerce. 
Attica raises such a small proportion of the necessary breadstuffs, and
so serious is the crisis created by any shortage, that all kinds of
measures are employed to compel a steady flow of grain from the Black
Sea ports into the Peiræus.  Here is a law which Domsthenes quotes to

“It shall not be lawful for any Athenian or any metic in Attica, or any
person under their control [_i.e._ slave or freedman] to lend out money
on a ship which is not commissioned to bring grain to Athens.”

A second law, even more drastic, forbids any such person to transport
grain to any harbor but the Peiræus.  The penalties for evading these
laws are terrific.  At set intervals also the Public Assembly
(Ecclesia) is in duty bound to consider the whole state of the grain
trade:  while the dealers in grain who seem to be cornering the market,
and forcing up the price of bread, are liable to prompt and disastrous

79.  The Adventurous Merchant Skippers.—Foreign trade at Athens is
fairly well systematized, but it still partakes of the nature of an
adventure.  The name for “skipper” (nauklëros) is often used
interchangeably for “merchant.”  Nearly all commerce is by sea, for
land routes are usually slow, unsafe, and inconvenient[*]; the average
foreign trader is also a shipowner, probably too the actual working
captain.  He has no special commodity, but will handle everything which
promises a profit.  A war is breaking out in Paphlagonia.  Away he
sails thither with a cargo of good Athenian shields, swords, and
lances.  He loads up in that barbarous but fertile country with grain;
but leaves enough room in his hold for some hundred skins of choice
wine which he takes aboard at Chios. The grain and wine are disembarked
at the Piræus.  Hardly are they ashore ere rumor tells him that salt
herring[+] are abundant and especially cheap at Corcyra; and off he
goes for a return cargo thereof, just lingering long enough to get on a
lading of Athenian olive oil.

[*] Naturally there was a safe land route from Athens across the
Isthmus to Corinth and thence to Sparta or towards Ellis; again, there
would be fair roads into Bœtia.

[+] Salt fish were a very usual and important article of Greek

80.  Athenian Money-changers and Bankers.—An important factor in the
commerce of Athens is the “Money-changer.”  There is no one fixed
standard of coinage for Greece, let alone the Barbarian world.  Athens
strikes its money on a standard which has very wide acceptance, but
Corinth has another standard, and a great deal of business is also
transacted in Persian gold darics.  The result is that at the Peiræus
and near the Agora are a number of little “tables” where alert
individuals, with strong boxes beside them, are ready to sell foreign
coins to would-be travelers, or exchange darics for Attic drachmæ,
against a pretty favorable commission.

This was the beginning of the Athenian banker; but from being a mere
exchanger he has often passed far beyond, to become a real master of
credit and capital.  There are several of these highly important
gentlemen who now have a business and fortune equal to that of the
famous Pasion, who died in 370 B.C.  While the firm of Pasion and
Company was at its height, the proprietor derived  a net income of at
least 100 minæ (over $1,800 [1914] or $30,248.07 [2000]) per year from
his banking; and more than half as much extra from a shield factory.[*]

[*] These sums seem absurdly small for a great money magnate, but the
very high purchasing power of money in Athens must be borne in mind. 
We know a good deal about Pasion and his business from the speeches
which Deosthenes composed in the litigation which arose over his

81.  A Large Banking Establishment.—Enter now the “tables” of Nicanor. 
The owner is a metic; perhaps he claims to come from Rhodes, but the
shrewd cast of his eyes and the dark hue of his skin gives a suggestion
of the Syrian about him.  In his open office a dozen young half-naked
clerks are seated on low chairs—each with his tablet spread out upon
his knees laboriously computing long sums.[*]  The proprietor himself
acts as the cashier.  He has not neglected the exchange of foreign
moneys; but that is a mere incidental.  His first visitor this morning
presents a kind of letter of credit from a correspondent in Syracuse
calling for one hundred drachmæ.  “Your voucher?” asks Nicanor.  The
stranger produces the half of a coin broken in two across the middle. 
The proprietor draws a similar half coin from a chest.  The parts match
exactly, and the money is paid on the spot.  the next comer is an old
acquaintance, a man of wealth and reputation; he is followed by two
slaves bearing a heavy talent of coined silver which he wishes the
banker to place for him on an advantageous loan, against a due
commission.  The third visitor is a well-born but fast and idle young
man who is squandering his patrimony on flute girls and chariot horses.
 He wishes an advance of ten minæ, and it is given him—against the
mortgage of a house, at the ruinous interest of 36 per cent, for such
prodigals are perfectly fair play.  Another visitor is a careful and
competent ship merchant who is fitting for a voyage to Crete, and who
requires a loan to buy his return cargo.  Ordinary interest, well
secured, is 18 per cent, but a sea voyage, even at the calmest season,
is counted extra hazardous. The skipper must pay 24 per cent at least. 
A poor tradesman also appears to raise a trifle by pawning two silver
cups; and an unlucky farmer, who cannot meet his loan, persuades the
banker to extend the time “just until the next moon”[+]—of course at an
unmerciful compounding of interest.

[*] Without the Arabic system of numerals, elaborate bookkeeping surely
presented a sober face to the Greeks.  Their method of numeration was
very much like that with the so-called Roman numerals.

[+] “Watching the moon,” _i.e._ the end of the month when the debts
became due, appears to have been the melancholy recreation of many
Athenian debtors.  See Aristophanes’s _Clouds_, I. 18.

82.  Drawbacks to the Banking Business.—Nicanor has no paper money to
handle, no stocks, no bonds,—and the line between legitimate interest
and scandalous usury is by no means clearly drawn.  There is at least
one good excuse for demanding high interest.  It is notoriously hard to
collect bad debts.  Many and many a clever debtor has persuaded an
Athenian jury that _all_ taking of interest is somewhat immoral, and
the banker has lost at least his interest, sometimes too his principal.
 So long as this is the case, a banker’s career has its drawbacks; and
Demosthenes in a recent speech has commended the choice by Pasion’s son
of a factory worth 60 minæ per year, instead of his father’s banking
business worth nominally 100.  The former was so much more secure than
an income depending on “other people’s money!”

Finally it must be said that while Nicanor and Pasion have been
honorable and justly esteemed men, many of their colleagues have been
rogues.  Many a “table” has been closed very suddenly, when its owner
absconded, or collapsed in bankruptcy, and the unlucky depositors and
creditors have been left penniless, during the “rearrangement of the
tables,” as the euphemism goes.

83.  The Potter of Athens.—There is one other form of economic activity
in Athens which deserves our especial notice, different as it is from
the bankers’ tables,—the manufacture of earthen vases. A long time
might be spent investigating the subject; here there is room only for a
hasty glance.  For more than two hundred years Attica has been
supplying the world with a pottery which is in some respects superior
to any that has gone before, and also (all things considered) to any
that will follow, through night two and a half millenniums.  The
articles are primarily tall vases and urns, some for mere ornament or
for religious purposes,—some for very humble household utility;
however, besides the regular vases there is a great variety of dishes,
plates, pitchers, bowls, and cups all of the same general pattern,—a
smooth, black glaze[*] covered with figures in the delicate red of the
unglazed clay.  At first the figures had been in black and the
background in red, but by about 500 B.C. the superiority of the black
backgrounds had been fully realized and the process perfected.  For a
long time Athens had a monopoly of this beautiful earthenware, but now
in 360 B.C. there are creditable manufactories in other cities, and
especially in the Greek towns of Southern Italy.  The Athenian industry
is, however, still considerable; in fifty places up and down the city,
but particularly in the busy quarter of the Ceramicus, the potters’
wheels are whirling, and the glazers are adding the elegant patterns.

[*] Sometimes this glaze tended to a rich olive green or deep brown.

84.  Athenian Pottery an Expression of the Greek Sense of
Beauty.—Athens is proud of her traditions of naval and military glory;
of the commerce of the Peiræus; of her free laws and constitution; of
her sculptured temples, her poets, her rhetoricians and philosophers. 
Almost equally well might she be proud of her vases.  They are not
made—let us bear clearly in mind—by avowed artists, servants of the
Muses and of the Beautiful; they are the regular commercial products of
work-a-day craftsmen.  But what craftsmen!  In the first place, they
have given to every vase and dish a marvelous individuality.  There
seems to be absolutely no duplication of patterns.[*]  Again, since
these vases are made for Greeks, they must—no matter how humble and
commonplace their use—be made beautiful—elegantly shaped, well glazed,
and well painted:  otherwise, no matter how cheap, they will never find
a market.

[*] It is asserted that of the many thousands of extant Greek vases
that crowd the shelves of modern museums, there are nowhere two
patterns exactly alike.

The process of manufacture is simple, yet it needs a masterly touch.
After the potter has finished his work at the wheel and while the clay
is still soft, the decorator makes his rough design with a
blunt-pointed stylus.  A line of black glaze is painted around each
figure.  Then the black background is freely filled in, and the details
within the figure are added.  A surprisingly small number of deft lines
are needed to bring out the whole picture.[*]  Sometimes the glaze is
thinned out to a pale brown, to help in the drawing of the interior
contours.  When the design is completed, we have an amount of life and
expression which with the best potters is little short of startling. 
The subjects treated are infinite, as many as are the possible phases
of Greek life.  Scenes in the home and on the farm; the boys and their
masters at school; the warriors, the merchants, the priests
sacrificing, the young gallants serenading a sweet-heart; all the
tales, in short of poet-lore and mythology,—time would fail to list one
tenth of them.  Fairly we can assert that were all the books and formal
inscriptions about the Athenians to be blotted out, these vase
paintings almost photographs one might say, of Athenian daily life,
would give us back a very wide knowledge of the habits of the men in
the city of Athena.

[*] In this respect the Greek vase paintings can compete with the best
work in the Japanese prints.

The potters are justly proud of their work; often they do not hesitate
to add their signatures, and in this way later ages can name the
“craftsmen” who have transmitted to them these objects of abiding
beauty.  The designers also are accommodating enough to add descriptive
legends of the scenes which they depict,—Achilles, Hercules, Theseus,
and all the other heroes are carefully named, usually with the words
written above or beside them.

The pottery of Athens, then, is truly Athenian; that is to say, it is
genuinely elegant, ornamental, simple, and distinctive.  The best of
these great vases and mixing bowls are works of art no less than the
sculptures of Phidias upon the Parthenon.

Chapter XIII.
The Armed Forces of Athens.

85.  Military Life at Athens.—Hitherto we have seen almost nothing save
the peaceful civic side of Athenian life, but it is a cardinal error to
suppose that art, philosophy, farming, manufacturing, commerce, and
bloodless home politics sum up the whole of the activities of Attica. 
Athens is no longer the great imperial state she was in the days of
Pericles, but she is still one of the greatest military powers in
Greece,[*] and on her present armed strength rests a large share of her
prestige and prosperity.  Her fleet, which is still her particular
boast, must of course be seen at the Peiræus; but as we go about the
streets of the main city we notice many men, who apparently had
recently entered their house doors as plain, harmless citizens, now
emerging, clad in all the warrior’s bravery, and hastening towards one
of the gates.  Evidently a review is to be held of part of the citizen
army of Athens.  If we wish, we can follow and learn much of the Greek
system of warfare in general and of the Athenian army in particular.

[*] Of course the greatest military power of Greece had been Sparta
until 371 B.C., when the battle of Leuctra made Thebes temporarily “the
first land power.”

Even at the present day, when there is plenty of complaint that
Athenians are not willing to imitate the sturdy campaigning of their
fathers, the citizens seem always at war, or getting ready for it.
Every citizen, physically fit, is liable to military service from his
eighteenth to his sixtieth year.  To make efficient soldiers is really
the main end of the constant physical exercise.  If a young man takes
pride in his hard and fit body, if he flings spears at the stadium, and
learns to race in full armor, if he goes on long marches in the hot
sun, if he sleeps on the open hillside, or lies on a bed of rushes
watching the moon rise over the sea,—it is all to prepare himself for a
worthy part in the “big day” when Athens will confront some old or new
enemy on the battlefield.  A great deal of the conversation among the
younger men is surely not about Platonic ideals, Demosthenes’s last
political speech, nor the best fighting cocks; it is about spears,
shield-straps, camping ground, rations, ambuscades, or the problems of
naval warfare.

It is alleged with some show of justice that by this time Athenians are
so enamored with the pleasures of peaceful life that they prefer to pay
money for mercenary troops rather than serve themselves on distant
expeditions; and certain it is that there are plenty of Arcadians,
Thracians, and others, from the nations which supply the bulk of the
mercenaries, always in Athenian pay in the outlying garrisons.  Still
the old military tradition and organization for the citizens is kept
up, and half a generation later, when the freedom of Athens is blasted
before Philip the Macedonian at Chæroneia, it will be shown that if the
Athenian militia does not know how to conquer, it at least knows how to
die.  So we gladly follow to the review, and gather our information.

86.  The Organization of the Athenian Army.—After a young “ephebus” has
finished his two years of service in the garrisons he returns home
subject to call at the hour of need.  When there is necessity to make
up an army, enough men are summoned to meet the required number and no
more.  Thus for a small force only the eligibles between say twenty and
twenty-four years of age would be summoned; but in a crisis all the
citizens are levied up to the very graybeards. The levy is conducted by
the ten _Strategi_ (at once ‘generals,’ ‘admirals,’ and ‘war
ministers’) who control the whole armed power of Athens.  The recruits
summoned have to come with three days’ rations to the rendezvous,
usually to the Lyceum wrestling ground just outside the city.  In case
of a general levy the old men are expected to form merely a home guard
for the walls; the young men must be ready for hard service over seas.

The organization of the Athenian army is very simple; each of the ten
Attic tribes sends its own special battalion or _taxis_, which is large
or small according to the total size of the levy.[*]  These _taxeis_
are subdivided into companies or _lochoi_, of about an average of 100
men each.  The _taxeis_ are each under a tribal-colonel (_taxiarch_),
and each company under its captain (_locharch_).  The ten strategi
theoretically command the whole army together, but since bitter
experience teaches that ten generals are usually nine too many, a
special decree of the people often entrusts the supreme command of a
force to one commander, or at most to not over three. The other
strategi must conduct other expeditions, or busy themselves with their
multifarious home duties.

[*] Thus if 3000 men were called out, the average “taxis” would be 300
strong, but if 6000, then 600.

87.  The Hoplites and the Light Troops.—The unit of the Athenian
citizen army, like practically all Greek armies, is the heavy armed
infantry soldier, the _hoplite_.  An army of “three thousand men” is
often an army of so many hoplites, unless there is specific statement
to the contrary.  But really it is of six thousand men, to be entirely
accurate:  for along with every hoplite goes an attendant, a
“light-armed man,” either a poor citizen who cannot afford a regular
suit of armor,[*] or possibly a trusted slave. These “light-armed men”
carry the hoplites’ shields until the battle, and most of the baggage. 
They have javelins, and sometimes slings and bows.  They act as
skirmishers before the actual battle:  and while the hoplites are in
the real death-grip they harass the foe as they can, and guard the
camp.  When the fight is done they do their best to cover the retreat,
or slaughter the flying foe if their own hoplites are victorious.

[*] The hoplite’s panoply (see description later) was sufficiently
expensive to imply that its owner was at least a man in tolerable

88.  The Cavalry and the Peltasts.—There are certain divisions of the
army besides the hoplites and this somewhat ineffective light infantry.
 There is a cavalry corps of 1000.  Wealthy young Athenians are proud
to volunteer therein; it is a sign of wealth to be able to provide your
war horse.  The cavalry too is given the place of honor in the great
religious processions; and there is plenty of chance for exciting
scouting service on the campaign.  Again, the cavalry service has
something to commend it in that it is accounted _much safer_ than the
infantry![*]  The cavalry is, however, a rather feeble fighting
instrument.  Greek riders have no saddles and no stirrups.  They are
merely mounted on thin horse pads, and it is very hard to grip the
horse with the knees tightly enough to keep from being upset
ignominiously while wielding the spear.  The best use for the cavalry
perhaps is for the riders to take a sheaf of javelins, ride up and
discharge them at the foe as skirmishers, then fall back behind the
hoplites; though after the battle the horsemen will have plenty to do
in the retreat or the pursuit.

[*] Greeks could seldom have been brought to imitate the reckless
medieval cavaliers.  The example of Leonidas at Thermopylæ was more
commended than imitated.  Outside of Sparta at least, few Greeks would
have hesitated to flee from a battlefield, when the day (despite their
proper exertions) had been wholly lost.

The Athenians have of course the Scythian police archers to send into
any battle near Athens; they can also hire mercenary archers from
Crete, but the Greek bows are relatively feeble, only three or four
feet long—by no means equal to the terrible yew bows which will win
glory for England in the Middle Ages.  There has also come into vogue,
especially since the Peloponnesian war, an improved kind of
light-javelin-men,—the “Peltasts,”—with small shields, and light armor,
but with extra long lances.  In recent warfare this type of soldier,
carefully trained and agile, has been known to defeat bodies of the
old-style over-encumbered hoplites.[*] Nevertheless, most veteran
soldiers still believe that the heavy infantryman is everything, and
the backbone of nearly every Greek army is still surely the hoplite. 
He will continue to be the regular fighting unit until the improved
“phalanx,” and the “Companion Cavalry” of Philip and Alexander of
Macedon teach the captains of the world new lessons.

[*] Especially the Athenian general Iphicrates was able to cut to
pieces a _mora_ (brigade) of Spartan hoplites, in 392 B.C., by skillful
use of a force of peltasts.

89.  The Panoply of the Hoplite.—We have passed out one of the gates
and are very likely in a convenient open space south and east of the
city stretching away toward the ever visible slopes of gray Hymettus. 
Here is a suitable parade ground.  The citizen soldiers are slipping on
their helmets and tightening up their cuirasses. Trumpets blow from
time to time to give orders to “fall in” among the respective _lochoi_
and _taxeis_. There is plenty of time to study the arms and armor of
the hoplites during these preliminaries.

A very brief glance at the average infantryman’s defensive weapons
tells us that to be able to march, maneuver, and fight efficiently in
this armor implies that the Athenian soldier is a well-trained athlete.
 The whole panoply weighs many pounds.[*]  The prime parts in the armor
are the helmet, the cuirass, the greaves, and the shield.  Every
able-bodied citizen of moderate means has this outfit hanging in his
andronitis, and can don it at brief notice. The _helmet_ is normally of
bronze; it is cut away enough in front to leave the face visible, but
sometimes a cautious individual will insist on having movable plates
(which can be turned up and down) to protect the cheeks.[+]  Across the
top there runs a firm metal ridge to catch any hard down-right blow,
and set into the ridge is a tall nodding crest either of horsehair or
of bright feathers—in either case the joy and glory of the wearer.

[*] Possibly fifty or more—we have no correct means for an exact

[+] The “Corinthian” type of helmets came more closely over the face,
and the cheek protectors were not movable; these helmets were much like
the closed helms of the medieval knights.  The Spartans, in their
contempt for danger, wore plain pointed steel caps which gave
relatively little protection.

[Illustration: Hoplite in Armor]

Buckled around the soldier’s body is the _cuirass_.  It comprises a
breastplate and a back piece of bronze, joined by thongs, or by straps
with a buckle.  The metal comes down to the hips.  Below it hangs a
thick fringe of stout strips of leather strengthened with bright
metallic studs, and reaching halfway to the knees.  From this point to
the knees the legs are bare, but next come the _greaves_, thin pliable
plates of bronze fitted to the shape of the leg, and opening at the
back.  They have to be slipped on, and then are fastened at the knees
and ankle with leathern straps.

But the warrior’s main protection is his _shield_.  With a strong,
large shield you can fight passing well without any regular body armor;
while with the best outfit of the latter you are highly vulnerable
without your shield.  To know how to swing your shield so as to catch
every possible blow, to know how to push and lunge with it against an
enemy, to know how to knock a man down with it, if needs be, _that_ is
a good part of the soldier’s education.  The shield is sometimes round,
but more often oval.  It is about four feet by the longest diameter. 
It is made of several layers of heavy bull’s hide, firmly corded and
riveted together, and has a good metal rim and metal boss in the
center.  On the inside are two handles so that it can be conveniently
wielded on the left arm.[*] These shields are brilliantly painted, and
although the Greeks have no heraldic devices, there are all manner of
badges and distinguishing marks in vogue.  Thus all Theban shields are
blazoned with a club; Sicyonian shields are marked with the initial
“Sigma” (Σ), and we note that the Athenian shields are all marked Alpha

[*] Earlier Greek shields seem to have been very large and
correspondingly heavy.  These had only a single handle; and to aid in
shifting them they were swung on straps passed over the left shoulder.

[+] This last is a matter of safe inference rather than of positive

90.  The Weapons of a Hoplite.—The hoplites have donned their armor. 
Now they assume their offensive weapons.  Every man has a lance and a
sword.  The _lance_ is a stout weapon with a solid wooden butt, about
six feet long in all.  It is really too heavy to use as a javelin.  It
is most effective as a pike thrust fairly into a foeman’s face, or past
his shield into a weak spot in his cuirass. The sword is usually kept
as a reserve weapon in case the lance gets broken.  It is not over 25
inches in length, making rather a huge double-edged vicious knife than
a saber; but it is terrible for cut and thrust work at very close
quarters.  Simple as these weapons are, they are fearful instruments of
slaughter in well-trained hands, and the average Greek has spent a
considerable part of his life in being taught how to use them.

91.  Infantry Maneuvers.—The final trumpets have blown, and the troops
fall into their places.  Each tribal _taxis_ lines up its _lochoi_. 
The Greeks have no flags nor standards.  There is a great deal of
shouting by the subaltern officers, and running up and down the ranks. 
Presently everything is in formal array.  The hoplites stand in close
order, each man about two feet from the next,[*] leaving no gaps
between each division from end to end of the lines.  The men are set in
eight long ranks.  This is the normal _phalanx_[+] order.  Only those
in front can actually lunge and strike at the enemy.  The men in the
rear will add to the battering force of the charge, and crowding in
closely, wedge themselves promptly to the front, when any of the first
rank goes down.

[*] The object would be to give each man just enough distance to let
him make fair use of his lance, and yet have his shield overlap that of
his neighbor.

[+] The “phalanx” is sometimes spoken of as a Macedonian invention, but
Philip and Alexander simply improved upon an old Greek military

It is an imposing sight when the strategos in charge of the maneuvers,
a stately man in a red chlamys, gives the final word “March!”

Loud pipes begin screaming.  The long lines of red, blue, and orange
plumes nod fiercely together.  The sun strikes fire out of thousands of
brandished lance tips.  The phalanx goes swinging away over the dusty
parade ground, the subalterns up and down the files muttering angrily
to each inapt recruit to “Keep your distance:” or “Don’t advance your
shield.”  The commandant duly orders the “Half turn:” “Left” or “Right
turn:” “Formation by squares,” and finally the critical “Change front
to rear.”  If this last maneuver is successfully accomplished, the
strategos will compliment the drill sergeants; for it is notoriously
difficult to turn a ponderous phalanx around and yet make it keep good
order.  The drilling goes on until the welcome order comes, “Ground
arms!” and every perspiring soldier lets his heavy shield slip from his
arm upon the ground.

92.  The Preliminaries of a Greek Battle.—Later in the day, if these
are happy times of peace, the whole phalanx, so bristling and
formidable, will have resolved itself into its harmless units of honest
citizens all streaming home for dinner.

Our curiosity of course asks how does this army act upon the campaign;
what, in other words, is a typical Greek battle?  This is not hard to
describe.  Greek battles, until lately, have been fought according to
set formulæ in which there is little room for original generalship,
though much for ordinary circumspection and personal valor.  A battle
consists in the charging together of two phalanxes of hoplites of about
equal numbers.  If one army greatly overmatches the other, the weaker
side will probably retire without risking a contest.  With a common
purpose, therefore, the respective generals will select a broad stretch
of level ground for the struggle, since stony, hilly, or uneven ground
will never do for the maneuvering of hoplites.  The two armies, after
having duly come in sight of one another, and exchanged defiances by
derisive shouts, catcalls, and trumpetings, will probably each pitch
its camp (protected by simple fortifications) and perhaps wait over
night, that the men may be well rested and have a good dinner and
breakfast. The soldiers will be duly heartened up by being told of any
lucky omens of late,—how three black crows were seen on the right, and
a flash of lightning on the left; and the seers and diviners with the
army will, at the general’s orders, repeat any hopeful oracles they can
remember or fabricate, _e.g._ predicting ruin for Thebes, or victory
for Athens.  In the morning the soldiers have breakfast, then the lines
are carefully arrayed a little beyond bowshot from the enemy, who are
preparing themselves in similar fashion.  Every man has his arms in
order, his spear point and sword just from the whetstone, and every
buckle made fast.  The general (probably in sight of all the men) will
cause the seers to kill a chicken, and examine its entrails.  “The
omens are good; the color is favorable; the gods are with us!”[*] he
announces; and then, since he is a Greek among Greeks, he delivers in
loud voice an harangue to as many as can hear him, setting forth the
patriotic issues at stake in the battle, the call of the fatherland to
its sons, the glory of brave valor, the shame of cowardice, probably
ending with some practical directions about “Never edging to the
right!” and exhorting his men to raise as loud a war-cry as possible,
both to encourage themselves and to demoralize the enemy.

[*] It may be suspected that it was very seldom the omens were
_allowed_ to be unfavorable when the general was really resolved on

93.  Joining the Battle.—The troops answer with a cheer then join in
full chorus in the “_Pæan_—” a fierce rousing charging-song that makes
every faint-heart’s blood leap faster.  Another pæan bellowed from the
hostile ranks indicates that similar preliminaries have been disposed
of there.  The moment the fierce chorus ends, the general (who probably
is at the post of danger and honor—the right wing) nods to his corps of
pipers.  The shrill flutes cut the air.  The whole phalanx starts
forward like one man, and the enemy seem springing to meet it.  The
tossing color, the flashing arms and armor, make it a sight for men and
gods.  If the enemy has a powerful archery force, as had the Persians
at Marathon, then the phalanx is allowed to advance on the run,—for at
all costs one must get through the terrible zone of the arrow fire and
come to grips; but if their bowmen are weak, the hoplites will be
restrained,—it is better not to risk getting the phalanx disorganized. 
Running or marching the troops will emit a terrible roaring:  either
the slow deep “_A! la! la! la!_” or something quicker, “_Eleleū!_” 
“_Eleleū!_” and the flutes will blow all the while to give the time for
the marching.

Closer at hand the two armies will fairly spring into unfriendly
embrace.  The generals have each measured his enemy’s line and extended
his own to match it.[*]  With files of about equal depth, and
well-trained men on both sides, the first stage of the death grapple is
likely to be a most fearful yet indecisive pushing: the men of the
front ranks pressing against each other, shield to shield, glaring out
of their helmets like wild beasts against the foeman three feet away,
and lunging with their lances at any opening between the hostile
shields or above them.  The comrades behind wedge in the front ranks
closer and closer.  Men are crushed to death, probably without a wound,
just by this hellish impact.  The shouts and yells emitted are
deafening.  There is an unearthly clashing of steel weapons on bronze
armor.  Every now and then a shrill, sharp cry tells where a soldier
has been stabbed, and has gone down in the press, probably trampled to
death instantly.  In this way the two writhing, thrusting phalanxes
continue to push on one another at sheer deadlock, until a cool
observer might well wonder whether the battle would not end simply with
mutual extermination.

[*] Any sudden attempt to extend your line _beyond_ the foe’s, so as to
outflank him, would probably have produced so much confusion in your
own phalanx as to promise certain disaster.  Of course for an inferior
force to accept battle by thinning its line, to be able by extending to
meet the long lines of the enemy, would involve the greatest risk of
being broken through at the center.  The best remedy for inferior
numbers was manifestly to decline a decisive battle.

94. The Climax and End of the Battle.—But look away now from the
center, towards the two wings. What the generals of _both_ contending
armies have feared and warned against has come to pass. Every hoplite
is admirably covered by his great shield on his left side; but his
right is unprotected. It is almost impossible to resist the impulse to
take a step toward the right to get under the cover of a comrade’s
shield. And he in turn has been edging to the right likewise. The whole
army has in fact done so, and likewise the whole phalanx of the enemy.
So after a quarter of an hour of brisk fighting, the two hosts, which
began by joining with lines exactly facing each other, have each edged
along so much that each overlaps the other on the right wing, thus:


What will happen now is easy to predict with assurance up to a certain
point.  The overlapping right wings will _each_ promptly turn the left
flank of their enemies, and falling upon the foe front and rear catch
them almost helpless.  The hoplite is an admirable soldier when
standing shoulder to shoulder with his comrades facing his foe; but
once beset in the rear he is so wedged in by the press that it is next
to impossible for him to turn and fight effectively. Either he will be
massacred as he stands or the panic will spread betimes, and
simultaneously both left wings will break formation and hurry off the
field in little better than flight.

Now will come the real test of discipline and deliberate valor.  Both
centers are holding stoutly.  Everything rests on the respective
victorious right wings.  Either they will foolishly forget that there
is still fighting elsewhere on the field, and with ill-timed huzzaing
pursue the men they have just routed, make for their camp to plunder
it, or worse still, disperse to spoil the slain; or, if they can heed
their general’s entreaties, keep their ranks, and wheeling around come
charging down on the rear of the enemy’s center.  If one right wing
does this, while the hostile right wing has rushed off in heedless
pursuit, the battle is infallibly won by the men who have kept their
heads; but if both right wings turn back, then the real death grapple
comes when these two sets of victors in the first phase of the contest
clash together in a decisive grapple.

By this time the original phalanx formations, so orderly, and
beautiful, have become utterly shattered.  The field is covered by
little squares or knots of striking, cursing, raging men—clashing
furiously together.  If there are any effective reserves, now is the
time to fling them into the scale.  The hitherto timorous light troops
and armor bearers rush up to do what they can.  Individual bravery and
valor count now to the uttermost.  Little by little the contest turns
against one side or the other.  The crucial moment comes.  The losing
party begins to fear itself about to be surrounded. Vain are the last
exhortations of the officers to rally them. “Every man for himself!”
rings the cry; and with one mad impulse the defeated hoplites rush off
the field in a rout.  Since they have been at close grip with their
enemies, and now must turn their ill-protected backs to the pursuing
spears, the massacre of the defeated side is sometimes great.  Yet not
so great as might be imagined.  Once fairly beaten, you must strip off
helmet and cuirass, cast away shield and spear, and run like a hare. 
You have lightened yourself now decidedly.  But your foe must keep
_his_ ponderous arms, otherwise he cannot master you, if he overtakes
you.  Therefore the vanquished can soon distance the victors unless the
latter have an unusually efficient cavalry and javelin force. However,
the victors are likely to enter the camp of the vanquished, and to
celebrate duly that night dividing the plunder.

95. The Burial Truce and the Trophy after the Battle.—A few hours after
the battle, while the victors are getting breath and refreshing
themselves, a shamefaced herald, bearing his sacred wand of office,
presents himself. He is from the defeated army, and comes to ask a
burial truce. This is the formal confession of defeat for which the
victors have been waiting. It would be gross impiety to refuse the
request; and perhaps the first watch of the night is spent by
detachments of both sides in burying or burning the dead.

The fates of prisoners may be various.  They may be sold as slaves. If
the captors are pitiless and vindictive, it is not contrary to the laws
of war to put the prisoners to death in cold blood; but by the fourth
century B.C. Greeks are becoming relatively humane. Most prisoners will
presently be released against a reasonable ransom paid by their

The final stage of the battle is the trophy:  the visible sign on the
battlefield that here such-and-such a side was victorious.  The limbs
are lopped off a tree, and some armor captured from the foe is hung
upon it.  After indecisive battles sometimes both sides set up
trophies; in that case a second battle is likely to settle the
question.  Then when the victors have recovered from their own happy
demoralization, they march into the enemy’s country; by burning all the
farmsteads, driving off the cattle, filling up the wells, girdling the
olive and fruit trees, they reduce the defeated side (that has fled to
its fortified town) to desperation.  If they have any prisoners, they
threaten to put them to death.  The result, of course, is frequently a
treaty of peace in favor of the victors.

96.  The Siege of Fortified Towns.—If, however, one party cannot be
induced to risk an open battle; or if, despite a defeat, it allows the
enemy to ravage the fields, and yet persists in defending the walls of
its town,—the war is likely to be tedious and indecisive. It is
notorious that Greeks dislike hard sieges.  The soldiers are the fellow
townsmen of the generals.  If the latter order an assault with scaling
ladders and it is repulsed with bloody loss, the generals risk a
prosecution when they get home for “casting away the lives of their
fellow citizens.”[*]  In short, fifty men behind a stout wall and “able
to throw anything” are in a position to defy an army.

[*] In siege warfare Oriental kings had a great advantage over Greek
commanders.  The former could sacrifice as many of their “slaves” as
they pleased, in desperate assaults.  The latter had always to bear in
mind their accountability at home for any desperate and costly attack.

The one really sure means of taking a town is to build a counter wall
around it and starve it out,—a slow and very expensive, though not
bloody process. Only when something very great is at stake will a Greek
city-state attempt this.[*] There is always another chance, however.
Almost every Greek town has a discontented faction within its walls,
and many a time there will be a traitor who will betray a gate to the
enemy; and then the siege will be suddenly ended in one murderous

[*] As in the siege of Potidea (432-429 B.C.), when if Athens had
failed to take the place, her hold upon her whole empire would have
been jeopardized.

97.  The Introduction of New Tactics.—Greek battles are thus very
simple things as a rule.  It is the general who, accepting the typical
conditions as he finds them, and avoiding any gross and obvious
blunders, can put his men in a state of perfect fitness, physical and
moral, that is likely to win the day.  Of late there has come indeed a
spirit of innovation.  At Leuctra (371 B.C.) Epaminodas the Theban
defeated the Spartans by the unheard-of device of massing a part of his
hoplites fifty deep (instead of the orthodox eight or twelve) and
crushing the Spartan right wing by the sheer weight of his charge,
before the rest of the line came into action at all.  If the experiment
had not succeeded, Epaminondas would probably have been denounced by
his own countrymen as a traitor, and by the enemy as a fool, for
varying from the time-honored long, “even line” phalanx; and the
average general will still prefer to keep to the old methods; then if
anything happens, _he_ at least will not be blamed for any undue
rashness.  Only in Macedon, King Philip II (who is just about to come
to the throne) will not hesitate to study the new battle tactics of
Epaminondas, and to improve upon them.

The Athenians will tell us that their citizen hoplites are a match for
any soldiers in Greece, except until lately the Spartans, and now
(since Leuctra) possibly the Thebans.  But Corinthians, Argives,
Sicyonians, they can confront more readily.  They will also add, quite
properly, that the army of Athens is in the main for home defense.  She
does not claim to be a preëminently military state. The glory of Athens
has been the mastery of the sea.  Our next excursion must surely be to
the Peiræus.

Chapter XIV.
The Peiræus and the Shipping.

98.  The “Long Walls” down to the Harbor Town.—It is some five miles
from the city to the Peiræus, and the most direct route this time lies
down the long avenue laid between the Long Walls, and running almost
directly southwest.[*]  The ground is quite level. If we could catch
glimpses beyond the walls, we would see fields, seared brown perhaps by
the summer sun, and here and there a bright-kerchiefed woman gleaning
among the wheat stubble.  The two walls start from Athens close
together and run parallel for some distance, then they gradually
diverge so as to embrace within their open angle a large part of the
circumference of the Peiræus.  This open space is built up with all
kinds of shops, factories, and houses, usually of the less aristocratic
kind.  In fact, all the noxious sights and odors to be found in Athens
seem tenfold multiplied as we approach the Peiræus.

[*] These were the walls whereof a considerable section was thrown down
by Lysander after the surrender of Athens [404 B.C.].  The demolition
was done to the “music of flute girls,” and was fondly thought by the
victors to mean the permanent crippling of Athens, and therefore “the
first day of the liberty of Greece.”  In 393 B.C., by one of the
ironies of history, Conon, an Athenian admiral, but in the service of
the king of Persia, who was then at war with Sparta, appeared in the
Peiræus, and _with Persian men and money_ rebuilt the walls amid the
rejoicings of the Athenians.

The straight highroad is swarming with traffic:  clumsy wagons are
bringing down marble from the mountains; other wains are headed toward
Athens with lumber and bales of foreign wares.  Countless donkeys laden
with panniers are being flogged along.  A great deal of the carrying is
done by half-naked sweating porters; for, after all, slave-flesh is
almost as cheap as beast-flesh.  So by degrees the two walls open away
from us:  before us now expands the humming port town; we catch the
sniff of the salt brine, and see the tangle of spars of the
multifarious shipping.  Right ahead, however, dominating the whole
scene, is a craggy height,—the hill of Munychia, crowned with strong
fortifications, and with houses rising terrace above terrace upon its
slopes.  At the very summit glitters in its white marble and color work
the temple of Artemis Munychia, the guardian goddess of the port town
and its citadel.[*]

[*] This fortress of Munychia, rather than the Acropolis in Athens was
the real citadel of Attica.  It dominated the all-important harbors on
which the very life of the state depended.

[Illustration: The Town of Peiræus and the Harbors of Athens]

99.  Munychia and the Havens of Athens.—Making our way up a steep lane
upon the northwestern slope, we pass within the fortifications, the
most formidable near Athens.  A band of young ephebi of the garrison
eye us as we enter; but we seem neither Spartans nor Thebans and are
not molested.  From a convenient crag near the temple, the whole scheme
of the harbors of Athens is spread out before us, two hundred and
eighty odd feet below.  Behind us is the familiar plain of Athens with
the city, the Acropolis, and the guardian mountains.  Directly west
lies the expanse of roof of the main harbor town, and then beyond is
the smooth blue expanse of the “Port of the Peiræus,” the main
mercantile harbor of Athens. Running straight down from Munychia,
southwest, the land tapers off into a rocky promontory, entirely girt
with strong fortifications. In this stretch of land are two deep round
indentations.  Cups of bright water they seem, communicating with the
outer sea only by narrow entrances which are dominated by stout
castles.  “Zea” is the name of the more remote; the “haven” of
“Munychia” is that which seems opening almost at our feet.  These both
are full of the naval shipping, whereof more hereafter.  To the
eastward, and stretching down the coast, is a long sandy beach whereon
the blue ripples are crumbling between the black fishing boats drawn up
upon the strand.  This is Phaleron, the old harbor of Athens before
Themistocles fortified the _Peiræus_—merely an open roadstead in fact,
but still very handy for small craft, which can be hauled up promptly
to escape the tempest.

100. The Glorious View from the Hill of Munychia.—These are the chief
points in the harbors; but the view from Munychia is most extensive.
Almost everything in sight has its legend or its story in sober
history. Ten miles away to the southward rise the red rocky hills of
Ægina, Athens’ old island enemy; and the tawny headlands of the Argolic
coasts are visible yet farther across he horizon. Again as we follow
the purplish ridge of Mount Ægaleos as it runs down the Attic coast to
westward, we come to a headland then to a belt of azure water, about a
mile wide, then the reddish hills of an irregular island. Every idler
on the citadel can tell us all the story. On that headland on a certain
fateful morning sat Xerxes, lord of the Persians, with his sword-hands
and mighty men about him and his ships before him, to look down on the
naval spectacle and see how his slaves would fight. The island beyond
is “holy Salamis,” and in this narrow strip of water has been the
battle which saved the life of Hellas. Every position in the contest
seems clearly in sight, even the insignificant islet of Psytteleia,
where Aristeides had landed his men after the battle, and massacred the
Persians stationed there “to cut off the Greeks who tried to escape.”

The water is indescribably blue, matching the azure of the sky. Ships
of all kinds under sails or oars are moving lightly over the havens and
the open Saronic bay.  It is matchless spectacle—albeit very peaceful. 
We now descend to the Peiræus proper and examine the merchant shipping
and wharves, leaving the navy yards and the fighting triremes till

101. The Town of Peiræus.—The Peiræus has all the life of the Athenian
Agora many times multiplied. Everywhere there is work and bustle.
Aristophanes has long since described the impression it makes on
strangers,[*]—sailors clamoring for pay, rations being served out,
figureheads being burnished, men trafficking for corn, for onions, for
leeks, for figs,—“wreaths, anchovies, flute girls, blackened eyes, the
hammering of oars from the dock yards, the fitting of rowlocks,
boatswains’ pipes, fifes, and whistling.” There is such confusion one
can hardly analyze one’s surroundings. However, we soon discover the
Peiræus has certain advantages over Athens itself. The streets are much
wider and are quite straight,[+] crossing at right angles, unlike the
crooked alleys of old Athens which seem nothing but built-up cow
trails. Down at the water front of the main harbor (“the Peiræus”
harbor to distinguish it from Zea and Munychia) we find about one
third, nearest the entrance passage and called the Cantharus, reserved
for the use of the war navy. This section is the famous _Emporium_,
which is such a repository of foreign wares that Isocrates boasts that
here one can easily buy all those things which it is extremely hard to
purchase anywhere else in Hellas. Along the shore run five great stoas
or colonnades, all used by the traders for different purposes;—among
them are the Long Stoa (_Makra_′ _Stoa_′), the _Deigma_ (see section
78) used as a sample house by the wholesalers, and the great Corn
Exchange built by Pericles. Close down near the wharves stands also a
handsome and frequented temple, that of Athena Euploia (Athena, Giver
of good Voyages), to whom many a shipman offers prayer ere hoisting
sail, and many another comes to pay grateful vows after surviving a
storm.[&] Time fails us for mentioning all the considerable temples
farther back in the town. The Peiræus in short is a semi-independent
community; with its shrines, its agoras, its theaters, its court rooms,
and other public buildings. The population contains a very high
percentage of metics, and downright Barbarians,—indeed, long-bearded
Babylonians, clean bronze Egyptians, grinning Ethiopians, never awaken
the least comment, they are so familiar.

[*] _Acharn._  54 ff.

[+] Pericles employed the famous architect Hippodamus to lay out the
Peiræus.  It seems to have been arranged much like many of the newer
American cities.

[&] There seems to have been still another precinct, sacred to “Zeus
and Athena the Preservers,” where it was very proper to offer
thanksgivings after a safe voyage.

[Illustration: Fishermen]

102.  The Merchant Shipping.—We can now cast more particular eyes upon
the shipping.  Every possible type is represented.  The fishing craft
just now pulling in with loads of shining tunnies caught near Ægina are
of course merely broad open boats, with only a single dirty orange sail
swinging in the lagging breeze.  Such vessels indeed depend most of the
time upon their long oars.  Also just now there goes across the glassy
surface of the harbor a slim graceful rowing craft, pulling eight
swiftly plying oars to a side. She is a _Lembus:_ probably the private
cutter of the commandant of the port.  Generally speaking, however, we
soon find that all the larger Greek ships are divided into two
categories, the “long ships” and the “round ships.”  The former depend
mainly on oars and are for war; the latter trust chiefly to sail power
and are for cargo.  The craft in the merchant haven are of course
nearly all of this last description.

Greeks are clever sailors.  They never feel really happy at a great
distance from the sea which so penetrates their little country;
nevertheless, they have not made all the progress in navigation which,
considering the natural ingenuity of the race, might well be expected. 
The prime difficulty is that Greek ships very seldom have comfortable
cabins.  The men expect to sleep on shore every night possible.  Only
in a great emergency, or when crossing an exceptionally wide gulf or
channel,[*] can a captain expect the average crew to forego the
privilege of a warm supper and bivouac upon the strand.  This means
(since safe anchorages are by no means everywhere) the ships must be so
shallow and light they can often be hauled up upon the beach.  Even
with a pretty large crew, therefore, the limit to a manageable ship is
soon reached; and during the whole of the winter season all
long-distance voyaging has to be suspended; while, even in summer, nine
sailors out of ten hug close to the land, despite the fact that often
the distance of a voyage is thereby doubled.

[*] For example, the trip from Crete to Cyrene—which would be demanded
first, before coasting along to Egypt.

However, the ships at Peiræus, if not large in size, are numerous
enough. Some are simply big open boats with details elaborated. They
have a small forecastle and poop built over, but the cargo in the hold
is exposed to all wind and weather. The propulsion comes from a single
unwieldy square sail swinging on a long yard the whole length of the
vessel. Other ships are more completely decked, and depend on two
square sails in the place of one. A few, however, are real “deep sea”
vessels—completely decked, with two or even three masts; with cabins of
tolerable size, and forward and aft curious projections, like
turrets,—the use whereof is by no means obvious, but we soon gather
that pirates still abound on the distant seas, and that these turrets
are useful when it comes to repelling boarders. The very biggest of
these craft run up to 250 gross tons (later day register),[*] although
with these ponderous defense-works they seem considerably larger. The
average of the ships, however, will reckon only 30 to 40 tons or even
smaller. It is really a mistake, any garrulous sailor will tell us, to
build merchant ships much bigger. It is impossible to make sailing
vessels of the Greek model and rig sail very close to the wind; and in
every contrary breeze or calm, recourse must be had to the huge oars
piled up along the gunwales. Obviously it is weary work propelling a
large ship with oars unless you have a huge and expensive crew,—far
better then to keep to the smaller vessels.

[*] The Greeks reckoned their ships by their capacity in talents (=
about 60 lbs.), _e.g._ a ship of 500 talents, of 2000, or (among the
largest) 10,000.

103.  The Three War Harbors and the Ship House.—Many other points about
these “round ships” interest us; but such matters they share with the
men-of-war, and our inspection has now brought us to the navy yard. 
There are strictly three separate navy yards, one at each of the
harbors of Munychia, Zea, and Cantharus, for the naval strength of
Athens is so great that it is impossible to concentrate the entire
fleet at one harbor.  Each of these establishments is protected by
having two strong battlements or breakwaters built out, nearly closing
the respective harbor entrances.  At the end of each breakwater is a
tower with parapets for archers, and capstans for dragging a huge chain
across the harbor mouth, thus effectively sealing the entrance to any
foe.[*]  The Zea haven has really the greatest warship capacity, but
the Cantharus is a good type for the three.[+]  As we approach it from
the merchant haven, we see the shelving shore closely lined with
curious structures which do not easily explain themselves.  There are a
vast number of dirty, shelving roofs, slightly tilted upward towards
the land side, and set at right angles to the water’s edge.  They are
each about 150 feet long, some 25 feet wide, about 20 feet high, and
are set up side by side with no passage between.  On close inspection
we discover these are ship houses.  Under each of the roofs is
accommodated the long slim hull of a trireme, kept safe from sea and
weather until the time of need, when a few minutes’ work at a tackle
and capstan will send it down into harbor, ready to tow beside a wharf
for outfitting.

[*] Ancient harbors were much harder to defend than modern ones,
because there was no long-range artillery to prevent an enemy from
thrusting into an open haven among defenseless shipping.

[+] Zea had accommodation for 196 triremes, Munychia, 82, and the
Cantharus, 94.

104.  The Great Naval Arsenal.—The ship houses are not the only large
structures at the navy yard.  Here is also the great naval arsenal, a
huge roofed structure open at the sides and entirely exposed to public
inspection.  Here between the lines of supporting columns can be seen
stacked up the staple requisites for the ships,—great ropes, sail
boxes, anchors, oars, etc.  Everybody in Athens is welcome to enter and
assure himself that the fleet can be outfitted at a minute’s notice[*];
and at all times crews of half-naked, weather-beaten sailors are
rushing hither and yon, carrying or removing supplies to and from the
wharves where their ships are lying.

[*] This arsenal was replaced a little later than the hypothetical time
of this narrative by one designed by the famous architect, Philo.  It
was extremely elegant as well as commodious, with handsome columns,
tiled roofs, etc.  In 360 B.C., however, the arsenal seems to have been
a strictly utilitarian structure.

105.  An Athenian Triearch.—Among this unaristocratic crowd we observe
a dignified old gentleman with an immaculate himation and a long
polished cane.  Obsequious clerks and sailing masters are hanging about
him for his orders; it is easy to see that he is a _trierarch_—one of
the wealthiest citizens on whom it fell, in turn, at set intervals, to
provide the less essential parts of a trireme’s outfit, and at least
part of the pay for the crew for one year, and to be generally
responsible for the efficiency and upkeep of the vessel.[*]  This is a
year of peace, and the patriotic pressure to spend as much on your
warship as possible is not so great as sometimes; still Eustatius, the
magnate in question, knows that he will be bitterly criticized (nay,
perhaps prosecuted in the courts) if he does not do “the generous
thing.”  He is therefore ordering an extra handsome figurehead;
promising a bonus to the rowing master if he can get his hands to row
in better rhythm than the ordinary crew; and directing that wine of
superior quality be sent aboard for the men.[+]  It will be an anxious
year in any case for Eustathius. He has ill wishers who will watch
carefully to see if the vessel fails to make a creditable record for
herself during the year, and whether she is returned to the ship house
or to the next trierarch in a state of good repair.  If the craft does
not then appear seaworthy, her last outfitter may be called upon to
rebuild her completely, a matter which will eat up something like a
talent. Public service therefore does not provide beds of roses for the
rich men of Athens.

[*] Just how much of the rigging and what fraction of the pay of the
crew the government provided is by no means clear from our evidence. 
It is certain that a public-spirited and lavish trierarch could almost
ruin himself (unless very wealthy) during the year he was responsible
for the vessel.

[+] According to various passages in Demosthenes, the cost of a
trierachy for a year varied between 40 minæ (say $540 [1914 or
$9,304.20 in 2000]) and a talent (about $1000 [1914 or $17,230 in
2000]), very large sums for Athenians.  The question of the amount of
time spent in active service in foreign waters would of course do much
to determine the outlay.

Eustathius goes away towards one of the wharves, where his trireme, the
_Invincible_, is moored with her crew aboard her.  Let us examine a
typical Athenian warship.

106. The Evolution of the Trireme.—The genesis of the trireme was the
old _penteconter_ (“fifty-oar ship”) which, in its prime features, was
simply a long, narrow, open hull, with slightly raised prow and stern
cabins, pulling twenty-five oars to a side. There are a few
penteconters still in existence, though the great naval powers have
long since scorned them. It was a good while before the battle of
Salamis that the Greek sea warriors began to feel the need of larger
warships. It was impossible to continue the simple scheme of the
penteconter. To get more oars all on one tier you must make a longer
boat, but you could not increase the beam, for, if you did, the whole
craft would get so heavy that it would not row rapidly; and the
penteconter was already so long in relation to its beam as to be
somewhat unsafe. A device was needed to get more oars into the water
without increasing the length over much. The result was the _bireme_
(two-banker) which was speedily replaced by the still more efficient
_trireme_ (three-banker), the standard battleship of all the Greek

[*] By the end of the fourth century B.C., vessels with four and five
banks of oars (quadriremes and quinqueremes) had become the regular
fighting ships, but they differed probably only in size, not in
principle, from the trireme.

The scheme for the sails is conjectural, and no attempt is made to show
the exact number of oars.]

107.  The Hull of a Trireme.—The _Invincible_ has a hull of fir
strengthened by a solid oak keel, very essential if she is to be hauled
up frequently.  Her hull is painted black, but there is abundance of
scarlet, bright blue, and gilding upon her prow, stern, and upper
works.  The slim hull itself is about 140 feet long, 14 feet wide, and
rides the harbor so lightly as to show it draws very little water; for
the warship, even more perhaps than the merchantman, is built on the
theory that her crew must drag her up upon the beach almost every

While we study the vessel we are soon told that, although triremes have
been in general use since, say, 500 B.C., nevertheless the ships that
fought at Salamis were decidedly simpler affairs than those of three
generations later.  In those old “aphract” vessels the upper tier of
rowers had to sit exposed on their benches with no real protection from
the enemy’s darts; but in the new “cataphract” ships like the
_Invincible_ there is a stout solid bulwark built up to shield the
oarsmen from hostile sight and missiles alike.  All this makes the
ships of Demosthene’s day much handsomer, taller affairs than their
predecessors which Themistocles commanded; nevertheless the old and the
new triremes have most essentials in common.  The day is far off when a
battleship twenty years old will be called “hopelessly obsolete” by the
naval critics.[*]

[*] There is some reason for believing that an Athenian trireme was
kept in service for many years, with only incidental repairs, and then
could still be counted as fit to take her place in the line of battle.

The upper deck of the trireme is about eleven feet above the harbor
waves, but the lowest oar holes are raised barely three feet.  Into the
intervening space the whole complicated rowing apparatus has to be
crammed with a good deal of ingenuity.  Running along two thirds of the
length of the hull nearly the whole interior of the vessel is filled
with a series of seats and foot rests rising in sets of three.  Each
man has a bench and a kind of stool beneath him, and sits close to a
porthole.  The feet of the lowest rower are near the level of the water
line; swinging two feet above him and only a little behind him is his
comrade of the second tier; higher and behind in turn is he of the
third.[*]  Running down the center of the ship on either side of these
complicated benches is a broad, central gangway, just under the upper
deck.  Here the supernumeraries will take refuge from the darts in
battle, and here the regular rowers will have to do most of their
eating, resting, and sleeping when they are not actually on the benches
or on shore.

[*] The exact system by which these oar benches were arranged, the crew
taught to swing together (despite the inequalities in the length of
their oars), and several other like problems connected with the
trireme, have received no satisfactory solution by modern

108.  The Rowers’ Benches of a Trireme.—With her full complement of
rowers the benches of the _Invincible_ fairly swarm with life. There
are 62 rowers to the upper tier (_thranites_), 58 for the middle tier
(_zygites_), and 54 for the lower (_thalamites_), each man with his own
individual oar.  The _thranites_ with the longest oars (full 13 feet 6
inches) have the hardest pull and the largest pay, but not one of the
174 oarsmen holds a sinecure.  In ordinary cruising, to be sure, the
trireme will make use of her sails, to help out a single bank of oars
which must be kept going almost all the time. Even then it is weary
work to break your back for a couple of hours taking your turn on the
benches.  But in battle the trireme almost never uses sails.  She
becomes a vast, many-footed monster, flying over the foam; and the pace
of the three oar banks, swinging together, becomes maddening.  Behind
their bulwarks the rowers can see little of what is passing. 
Everything is dependent upon their rowing together in absolute rhythm
come what may, and giving instant obedience to orders.  The trireme is
in one sense like a latter-day steamer in her methods of propulsion;
but the driving force is 174 straining, panting humans, not insensate
water vapor and steel.

109.  The Cabins, Rigging, and Ram of a Trireme.—Forward and aft of the
rowers’ benches and the great central gangway are the fore and stern
cabins.  They furnish something akin to tolerable accommodations for
the officers and a favored fraction of the crew.  Above the forecastle
rises a carved proudly curing prow, and just abaft it are high bulwarks
to guard the javelin men when at close quarters with the foe.  There is
also on either side of the prow a huge red or orange “eye” painted
around the hawse holes for the anchors. Above the stern cabin is the
narrow deck reserved for the pilot, the “governor” of the ship, who
will control the whole trireme with a touch now on one, now on the
other, of the huge steering paddles which swing at the sides near the
stern.  Within the stern cabin itself is the little altar, sacred to
the god or goddess to whom the vessel is dedicated, and on which
incense will be burned before starting on a long cruise and before
going into battle.  Two masts rise above the deck, a tall mainmast
nearly amidships, and a much smaller mast well forward.  On each of
these a square sail (red, orange, blue, or even, with gala ships,
purple) will be swung from a long yard, while the vessel is cruising;
but it is useless to set sails in battle.  One could never turn the
ship quickly enough to complete the maneuvers.  The sails and yards
will ordinarily be sent ashore as the first measure when the admiral
signals “clear ship for action.”

We have now examined all of the _Invincible_ except for her main
weapon,—her beak; for the trireme is really herself one tremendous
missile to be flung by the well-trained rowers at the ill-starred foe. 
Projecting well in front of the prow and close to the water line are
three heavy metal spurs serrated one above the other, somewhat thus[*]:


Let this fang once crush against a foeman’s broadside, and his timbers
are crushed in like eggshells.

[*] Probably at Salamis and in the earlier Athenian army the ram had
been composed of a single long, tapering beak.

110.  The Officers and Crew of a Trireme.—So much for the _Invincible_
herself, but obviously she is a helpless thing without an efficient
crew.  The life of an oarsman is far from luxurious, but the pay seems
to be enough to induce a goodly number of _thetes_ (the poorest class
of the Athenian citizens) to accept service, and the rest can be
supplied by hired metics or any kind of foreign nondescript who can be
brought into discipline.  The rowers are of course the real heart and
soul of the trireme; but they are useless without proper training. 
Indeed it was the superior discipline of the Athenian crews which in
the days of Themistocles and Pericles gave Athens the supremacy of the
seas.  The nominal, and sometimes actual, commander of the trireme is
her trierarch; but obviously a cultivated old gentleman like Eustathius
is no man to manage the ship in a sea fight.  He will name some deputy,
perhaps a stout young friend or a son, for the real naval work.  Even
he may not possess great experience.  The real commander of the
_Invincible_ is the “governor” (_kybernates_), a gnarled old seaman,
who has spent all his life upon the water.  Nominally his main duty is
to act as pilot, but actually he is in charge of the whole ship; and in
battle the trierarch (if aboard) will be very glad to obey all his
“suggestions.”  Next to the “governor” there is the _proireus_, another
experienced sailor who will have especial charge of the forecastle in
battle.  Next in turn are two “oar-masters” (_toixarchoi_), who are
each responsible for the discipline and working of one of the long
rowers’ benches; and following in grade, though highly important, are
the _keleustēs_, and the _triērraulēs_, who, by voice and by flute
respectively, will give the time and if needs be encouragement to the
rowers.  These are all the regular officers, but naturally for handling
the sails and anchors some common sailors are desirable.  The
_Invincible_ carries 17 of these.  She also has 10 marines (_epibatœ_),
men trained to fight in hoplite’s armor and to repel boarders.  The
Persian ships at Salamis carried 30 such warriors, and often various
Greek admirals have crowded their decks with these heavy marines; but
the true Athenian sea warrior disdains them.  Given a good helmsman and
well-trained rowers, and you can sink your opponent with your ram,
while he is clumsily trying to board you.  Expert opinion considers the
_epibatœ_ somewhat superfluous, and their use in most naval battles as
disgracefully unscientific.

111.  A Trireme at Sea.—A trireme, then is an heroic fighting
instrument.  She goes into battle prepared literally to do or die. If
her side is once crushed, she fills with water instantly, and the enemy
will be too busy and too inhumane to do anything but cheer lustily when
they see the water covered with struggling wretches. But the trireme is
also a most disagreeable craft before and after the battle.  Her light
draft sets her tossing on a very mild sea. In the hot southern climate,
with very little ventilation beneath the upper deck, with nigh two
hundred panting, naked human beings wedged in together below so closely
that there is scarce room for one more, the heat, the smells, the
drudgery, are dreadful.  No wonder the crew demanded that the trierarch
and governor “make shore for the night,” or that they weary of the
incessant grating of the heavy oars upon the thole-pins.

Thus the _Invincible_ will seem to any squeamish voyager, but not so to
the distant spectator.  For him a trireme is a most marvelous and
magnificent sight.  A sister ship, the _Danaë_,[*] is just entering the
Peiræus from Lemnos (an isle still under the Athenian sovereignty). 
Her upper works have been all brightened for the home-coming.  Long,
brilliant streams trail from her sail yards and poop.  The flute player
is blowing his loudest.  The marines stand on the forecastle in
glittering armor.  A great column of foam is spouting from her bow.[+] 
Her oars, eighty-seven to the side, pumiced white and hurling out the
spray, are leaping back and forth in perfect unison.  The whole vessel
seems a thing of springing, ardent life.  It is, indeed, a sight to
stir the blood. No later sailing ship in her panoply of canvas, no
steam battleship with her grim turrets and smoking funnels can ever
match the spectacle of a trireme moving in her rhythm and glory.

[*] The Greek ships seem to have been named either for mythological
characters, or for desirable qualities and virtues.

[+] At her best a trireme seems to have been capable of making 8 to 9
knots per hour.

112. The Tactics of a Naval Battle.—Imagination can now picture a Greek
naval battle, fifty, a hundred, two hundred, or more of these splendid
battleships flying in two hostile lines to the charge.[*] Round and
round they will sail, each pilot watching the moment when an unlucky
maneuver by the foe will leave a chance for an attack; and then will
come the sudden swinging of the helm, the frantic “Pull hard!” to the
oarsmen, the rending crash and shock as the ram tears open the
opponents side, to be followed by almost instant tragedy. If the direct
attack on the foe’s broadside fails, there is another maneuver. Run
down upon your enemy as if striking bow to bow; the instant before
contact let your aim swerve—a little. Then call to your men to draw in
their oars like lightning while the enemy are still working theirs. If
your oarsmen can do the trick in time, you can now ride down the whole
of the foemen’s exposed oar bank, while saving your own. He is left
crippled and helpless, like a huge centipede with all the legs on one
side stripped away. You can now back off deliberately, run out your
oars, and in cold blood charge his exposed flank. If he does not now
surrender, his people are dead men. Excellent to describe! Not always
so excellent in performance. Everything depends on the perfect
discipline and handiness of your crew.

[*] A more detailed picture of an ancient naval battle and its tactics
can be found in the author’s historical novel, _A Victor of Salamis_
(Chap. XXIX).

113.  The Naval Strength of Athens.—The strength of Athens is still
upon the sea.  Despite her defeats in the Peloponnesian War she has
again the first navy in Hellas.  All in all she can send out 400
triremes and since each trireme represents a crew of over 200 men, this
means that Athens can dispose of over 80,000 souls in her navy,
whereof, however, only a minor fraction are Athenian citizens.  Athens
is quite right in thus laying stress upon her sea power.  Her long
walls and the Peiræus make her practically an island.  Even after
Chæroneia, Philip of Macedon will be obliged to give her honorable
terms,—she has still her great navy.  Only after the defeat of her
fleet at Amorgos in 322 B.C. will she have to know all the pangs of
vassalage to Macedon.

Chapter XV.
An Athenian Court Trial.

114.  The Frequency of Litigation in Athens.—The visit to the Peiræus
and the study of the shipping have not been too long to prevent a brief
visit to one of the most characteristic scenes of Athenian life—a law
court.  Athens is notorious for the fondness which her citizens display
for litigation.  In fact it is a somewhat rare and exceptionally
peaceable, harmless, and insignificant citizen who is not plaintiff or
defendant in some kind of action every few years or so.  Says
Aristophanes, “The cicada [grasshopper] sings for only a month, but the
people of Athens are buzzing with lawsuits and trials their whole life
long.”  In the jury courts the contentious, tonguey man can spread
himself and defame his enemies to his heart’s content; and it must be
admitted that in a city like Athens, where everybody seems to know
everybody else’s business almost every citizen is likely to have a
number both of warm friends and of bitter enemies.  Athenians do not
have merely “cold acquaintances,” or “business rivals,” as will men of
the twentieth century.  They make no pretenses to “Christian charity.” 
They freely call an obnoxious individual their “personal foe”
(_echthros_), and if they can defeat, humiliate, and ruin him, they
bless the gods.  The usual outlet for such ill-feeling is a fierce and
perhaps mutually destructive lawsuit.

Then too, despite Athenian notions of what constitutes a gentleman,
many citizens are people of utterly penurious, niggardly habits.
Frequently enough the fellow who can discuss all Socrates’s theories
with you is quarreling with his neighbor over the loan of salt or a
lamp wick or some meal for sacrifice.[*]  If one of the customary
“club-dinners”[+] is held at his house, he will be caught secreting
some of the vinegar, lamp oil, or lentils.  If he has borrowed
something, say some barley, take care; when he returns it, he will
measure it out in a vessel with the bottom dented inward.  A little ill
feeling, a petty grievance carefully cultivated,—the end in due time
will be a lawsuit, costly far out of proportion to the originating

[*] Persons of this kidney are delineated to us as typical characters
by Theophrastus.

[+] The nearest modern equivalent is a “basket lunch.”

115.  Prosecutions in Athens.—Athens does not draw a sharp line between
public and private litigation.  There is no “state” or “district
attorney” to prosecute for the offenses against public order.  Any full
citizen can prosecute anybody else upon such a criminal charge as
murder, no less than for a civil matter like breach of contract.  All
this leads to the growth of a mischievous clan—the _sycophants_.  These
harpies are professional accusers who will prosecute almost any rich
individual upon whom they think they can fasten some technical offense.
 Their gains are from two quarters.  If they convict the defendant,
about half of the fine or property taken will go to the informer.  But
very likely there will be no trial.  The victim (either consciously
guilty, or innocent but anxious to avoid the risk) will pay a huge
blackmail at the first threat of prosecution, and the case is hushed

It is true there are very heavy penalties for trumped-up cases, for
unwarranted threat of legal proceedings, for perjured evidence; still
the abuse of the sycophants exists, and a great many of the lawsuits
originate with this uncanny tribe.

116.  The Preliminaries to a Trial.—There are official arbitrators to
settle petty cases, but it is too often that one or both parties
declare “the dicasts must settle it,” and the lawsuit has to take its
way.  Athenian legal methods are simple.  Theoretically there are no
professional lawyers, and every man must look out for himself. The
first business is to file your complaint with one of the magistrates
(usually one of nine _archons_), and then with two witnesses give
formal summons to your opponent, the defendant, to appear on a set day
in court.  If he has defaulted, the case is usually ended then in your
favor.  This hearing before the magistrate is in any event an important
part of the trial.  Here each side proffers the laws it cites to
sustain its claims, and brings its witnesses, who can be more or less
cross-examined.  All the pertinent testimony is now written down, and
the tablets sealed up by the magistrate.  At the final trial this
evidence will be merely _read_ to the jury, the witness in each
instance standing up before the court and admitting when duly asked,
“This is my testimony on the case.”

Free men testify under oath, but a slave’s oath is counted worthless.
The slaves may be the only important witnesses to a given act, but
under only one condition can they testify.  With the consent of their
master they may testify _under torture_.  It is a critical moment at
this hearing when a litigant who is confident of his case proudly
announces, “I challenge my enemy to put my slaves under torture”; or
the other, attacking first, cries out, “I demand that my enemy submit
his slaves to torture.”  Theoretically the challenged party might
refuse, practically a refusal is highly dangerous.  “If his slaves
didn’t know something bad, why were they kept silent?” the jury will
ask.  So the rack is brought forth.  The wretched menials are stretched
upon it.  One must hope that often the whole process involves more show
of cruelty than actual brutality.  What now the slaves gasp out between
their twists and howls is duly taken down as “important evidence,” and
goes into the record.[*]

[*] Athenian opinion was on the whole in favor of receiving as valid
testimony the evidence extorted thus from slaves by mere animal fear. 
Antiphon the orator speaks of how truth may be wrung from slaves by
torture; “by which they are compelled to speak the truth though they
must die for it afterward [at the hands of the master they have
incriminated], for the present necessity is to each stronger than the
future.”  This has been well called one of the few cases of extreme
_stupidity_ on the part of the Athenians.

117.  The Athenian Jury Courts.—A convenient interval has elapsed since
one of these preliminary hearings.  To-day has been set for the actual
trial before a member of the archons in the “Green” court. Ariston, a
wealthy olive farmer, is suing Lamachus, an exporter of the Peiræus,
for failing to account for the proceeds of a cargo of olives lately
shipped to Naxos.  To follow the trial in its entirety we should have
been at the courthouse at first dawn.  Then we would have seen the
jurymen come grumbling in, some from the suburbs, attended by link
boys.  These jurors represent a large fraction of the whole Athenian
people.  There are about six thousand in all. Pretty nearly every
citizen above thirty years of age can give in his name as desiring jury
duty; but naturally it is the elderly and the indolent who must prefer
the service.  One thousand of the six act as mere substitutes; the rest
serve as often as the working of a complicated system of drawing by lot
assigns them to sit as jurors on a particular case.  It is well there
are five thousand always thus available, for Athenian juries are very
large; 201, 401, 501, 1001 are numbers heard of, and sometimes even
greater.[*] The more important the case, the larger the jury; but
_Ariston_ v. _Lamachus_ is only a commonplace affair; 401 jurors are
quite enough. Even with that “small court,” the audience which the
pleaders now have to address will seem huge to any latter-day lawyer
who is accustomed to his “twelve men in a box”; and needless to say,
quite different methods must be used in dealing with such a company.

[*] The odd unit was no doubt added to prevent a tie.

Each “dicast” (to use the proper name) has a boxwood tablet to show at
the entrance as his voucher to the Scythian police-archers on duty; he
has also a special staff of the color of the paint on the door of the
court room.[*]  The chamber itself is not especially elegant; a long
line of hard benches rising in tiers for the dicasts, and facing these
a kind of pulpit for the presiding magistrates, with a little platform
for orators, a small altar for the preliminary sacrifice, and a few
stools for attendants and witnesses complete the simple furnishings. 
There are open spaces for spectators, though no seats; but there will
be no lack of an audience today, for the rumor has gone around,
“Hypereides has written Ariston’s argument.”  The chance to hear a
speech prepared by that famous oration-monger is enough to bring every
dicast out early, and to summon a swarm of loiterers up from the not
distant Agora.

[*] Each court room had its distinguishing color. There were about ten
regular court rooms, besides some for special tribunals; _e.g._ the
Areopagus for the trial of homicides.

118.  The Juryman’s Oath.—The dicasts are assumed to approach their
duty with all due solemnity.  They have sworn to vote according to the
laws of Athens, never to vote for a repudiation of debts, nor to
restore political exiles, nor to receive bribes for their votes, nor
take bribes in another’s behalf, nor let anybody even tempt them with
such proffers.  They are to hear both sides impartially and vote
strictly according to the merits of the case:  and the oath winds up
awfully—“Thus do I invoke Zeus, Poseidon, and Demeter to smite with
destruction me and my house if I violate any of these obligations, but
if I keep them I pray for many blessings.”[*]

[*] We have not the exact text of all the dicasts’ oath, but we can
reproduce it fairly completely from Demosthenes’s _Oration against

119.  Opening the Trial. The Plaintiff’s Speech.—The oath is admirable,
but the dicasts are not in a wholly juridical state of mind.  Just
before the short sacrifice needful to commence proceedings, takes
place, old Zenosthenes on the second row nudges his neighbor:  “I don’t
like the looks of that Lamachus.  I shall vote against him.”  “And I—my
wife knows his wife, and—”  The archon rises.  The crier bids,
“Silence!”  The proceedings begin: but all through the hearing there is
whispering and nudging along the jurors’ benches.  The litigants are
quite aware of the situation and are trying their best to win some
advantage therefrom.

Ariston is the first to speak. He has taken great pains with the folds
of his himation and the trim of his beard this morning. He must be
thoroughly genteel, but avoid all appearances of being a dandy. In
theory every man has to plead his own case in Athens, but not every man
is an equally good orator. If a litigant is very inept, he can simply
say a few words, then step aside with “My friend so-and-so will
continue my argument”; and a readier talker will take his place.[*]
Ariston, however, is a fairly clever speaker. Having what he conceives
a good case, he has obtained the indirect services of Hypereides, one
of the first of the younger orators of Athens. Hypereides has written a
speech which he thinks is suitable to the occasion, Ariston has
memorized it, and delivers it with considerable gusto. He has solid
evidence, as is proved from time to time when he stops to call, “Let
the clerk read the testimony of this or that.” There often is a certain
hum of approbation from the dicasts when he makes his points. He
continues bravely, therefore, ever and anon casting an eye upon the
_clepsydra_ near at hand, a huge water-clock which, something like an
hour glass, marks off the time allotted him. Some of his arguments seem
to have nothing to do with the alleged embezzlement. He vilifies his
opponent: calls Lamachus’s mother coarse names, intimates that as a boy
he had no decent schooling, charges him with cowardice in the recent
Mantinea campaign in which he served, hints that he has quarreled with
his relatives. On the other hand, Ariston grandiloquently praises
_himself_ as well born, well educated, an honorable soldier and
citizen, a man any Athenian would be glad to consider a friend. It is
very plain all these personalia delight the jury.[+] When Ariston’s
“water has run out” and he concludes his speech, there is a loud murmur
of applause running along the benches of the dicasts.

[*] These “friends,” however, were never regularly professional
advocates; it would have been ruinous to let the jury get the
impression that an orator was being directly hired to speak to them.

[+] For the depths of personal insult into which Greek litigants could
descend there is no better instance than Demosthenes’s (otherwise
magnificent) _Oration on the Crown_, wherein he castigates his foe

120. The Defendant’s Speech. Demonstrations by the Jury.—It is now
Lamachus’s turn. He also has employed a professional speech-writer
(_logographos_) of fame, Isæus, to prepare his defense. But almost at
the outset he is in difficulties. Very likely he has a bad case to
begin with. He makes it worse by a shrill, unpleasant voice and
ungainly gestures. Very soon many dicasts are tittering and whispering
jibes to their companions. As his harangue proceeds, the presiding
archon (who has really very little control of the dicasts) is obliged
“to remind the gentlemen of the jury that they have taken solemn oath
to hear both sides of the question.”

Lamachus fights doggedly on.  Having put in all his real arguments, he
takes refuge also in blackguarding his opponent.  Did Ariston get his
wealth honestly? was not his father a rascally grain dealer who starved
the people?  Yet there is still more impatience among the dicasts. 
Lamachus now uses his last weapon.  Upon the pleader’s stand clamber
his five young children clad in black mourning garments.  They all weep
together, and when not wiping their eyes, hold out their hands like
religious suppliants, toward the dicasts.[*]

[*] For such an appeal to an Athenian dicastery, see Aristophanes’s
_Wasps_. The pertinent passages are quoted in _Readings in Ancient
History_, vol. I, p. 238-40.

“Ah! Gentlemen of the jury,” whines their father, “if you are moved by
the voices of your lambs at home, pity these here.  Acquit me for
_their_ sakes.  Do not find against me and plunge these innocent
darlings into want and misery, by impoverishing their father.”

Appeals like this have swayed more than one jury during the last year,
but the fates are all against Lamachus.  From a back bench comes a
dreaded shout that is instantly caught up by the front tiers also:

“_Katába! Katába!_—Go down! Go Down!”

Lamachus hesitates.  If he obeys, he loses all the rest of his defense.
 If he continues now, he enrages many of the dicasts, who will be
absolutely sure to find against him.  The presiding archon vainly
rises, and tries to say something about “fair play.”  Useless. The
uproar continues.  Like a flock of scared doves Lamachus and all his
five children flee incontinently from the tribune, amid ironical cheers
and laughter.

121.  The First Verdict.—There is silence at length.  “The dicasts will
proceed to vote,” announces the court crier.  The huge urns (one of
bronze, one of wood) with narrow mouths are passed among the benches. 
Each juror has two round bronze disks, one solid, one with a hole bored
in the middle.  The solid acquit, the pierced ones convict.  A juror
drops the ballot he wishes to count into the bronze urn; the other goes
into the wooden urn.  The bronze urn is carried to the archon, and
there is an uneasy hush while the 401 ballots are counted by the court
officers.  As expected, more than 300 dicasts vote that Ariston is
entitled to damages against Lamachus as an embezzler.

122.  The Second and Final Verdict.—Ariston is smiling; his friends are
congratulating him, but the trial is by no means over. If Lamachus had
been found guilty of something for which the law provided an absolute
fixed penalty, this second part of the proceedings would be omitted. 
But here, although the jury has said _some_ damage or penalty or
penalties are due, it has still to fix the amount.  Ariston has now to
propose to the dicasts a sum which he thinks is adequate to avenge his
wrongs and losses; Lamachus can propose a smaller sum and try to
persuade the court that it is entirely proper.  Each side must act
warily.  Athenian jurors are fickle folk.  The very men who have just
howled down Lamachus may, in a spasm of repentance, vote for absurdly
low damages.  Again, Lamachus must not propose anything obviously
inadequate, otherwise the jurors who have just voted against him may
feel insulted, and accept Ariston’s estimate.[*]  Ariston therefore
says that he deserves at least a talent.  Lamachus rejoins that half a
talent is more than ample, even conceding Arison’s alleged wrongs.  The
arguments this time are shorter and more to the point.  Then comes the
second balloting.  A second time a majority (smaller this time, but
enough) is in favor of Ariston.  The better cause has conquered; and
there is at least this advantage to the Athenian legal system, there
will be no appeal nor tedious technicalities before a “higher court.” 
The verdict of the dicastery is final.

[*] Undoubtedly Socrates would have escaped with his life, if (after
his original condemnation) he had proposed a real penalty to the jury,
instead of an absurdly small fine.  The only alternative for the
dicasts was to accept the proposition of his opponents,—in his case,

123.  The Merits and Defects of the Athenian Courts.—No doubt injustice
is sometimes done.  Sometimes it is the honest man who hears the
dreaded “_Kataba!_”  Sometimes the weeping children have their intended
effect.  Sometimes it is the arguments about “My opponent’s scoundrelly
ancestry” which win the verdict.  At the same time, your Athenian
dicast is a remarkably shrewd and acute individual.  He can distinguish
between specious rhetoric and a real argument.  He is probably honestly
anxious to do justice.  In the ordinary case where his personal
interests or prejudices do not come into play, the decision is likely
to match with justice quite as often perhaps as in the intricate court
system of a great republic many centuries after the passing of Athens.

Certain features of some Athenian trials have not explained themselves
in the example just witnessed.  To prevent frivolous or blackmailing
litigation it is provided that, if the plaintiff in a suit gets less
than one fifth of the ballots in his favor (thus clearly showing he had
no respectable case), he is liable to a heavy fine or, in default
thereof, exile.  Again, we have not waited for the actual closing
scene—the dicasts each giving up his colored staff as a kind of voucher
to the court officers, and in return getting his three obols (9 cents)
daily jury fee, which each man claps promptly in his cheek, and then
goes off home to try the case afresh at the family supper.

124.  The Usual Punishments in Athens.—Trials involving murder or
manslaughter come before the special court of Areopagus, and cannot
well be discussed here, but most other criminal cases are tried before
the dicasts in much the same way as a civil trial.  When the law does
not have a set penalty, the jury virtually has to sentence the
defendant after convicting him, choosing between one of two proposed
penalties.  Greek courts can inflict death, exile, fines, but almost
never imprisonment.  There is no “penitentiary” or “workhouse” in
Athens; and the only use for a jail is to confine accused persons whom
it is impossible to release on bail before their trial.  The Athens
city jail (“The House,” as it is familiarly called—_Oikēma_) is a very
simple affair, one open building, carelessly guarded and free to
visitors all through the daylight. The inmates have to be kept in heavy
fetters, otherwise they would be sure to take flight; and indeed
escapes from custody are somewhat common.

125.  The Heavy Penalty of Exile.—An Athenian will regard locking a
criminal up for a term of years as a very foolish and expensive
proceeding.  If he has nothing wherewith to pay a round fine, why,
simply send him into exile.  This penalty is direful indeed to a Greek.
 The exile has often no protector, no standing in the courts of the
foreign city, no government to avenge any outrage upon him. He can be
insulted, starved, stripped, nay, murdered, often with impunity.  Worse
still, he is cut off from his friends with whom all his life is tied
up; he is severed from the guardian gods of his childhood,—“_the_
City,” the city of his birth, hopes, longings, exists no more for him. 
If he dies abroad, he is not sure of a decent funeral pyre; and
meanwhile his children may be hungering at home.  So long as the
Athenians have this tremendous penalty of exile at their disposal, they
do not feel the need of penitentiaries.

126.  The Death Penalty at Athens.—There are also the stocks and
whipping posts for meting out summary justice to irresponsible
offenders.  When the death penalty is imposed (and the matter often
lies in the discretion of the dicasts), the criminal, if of servile or
Barbarian blood, may be put to death in some hideous manner and his
corpse tossed into the Barathron, a vile pit on the northwest side of
Athens, there to be dishonored by the kites and crows.  The execution
of Athenian citizens, however, is extremely humane.  The condemned is
given a cup of poisonous hemlock juice and allowed to drink it while
sitting comfortably among his friends in the prison.  Little by little
his body grows numb; presently he becomes senseless, and all is over
without any pain.[*]  The friends of the victim are then at liberty to
give his body a suitable burial.

[*] No one can read the story of the death of Socrates in the prison,
as told by Plato in the _Phædo_, without feeling (aside from the noble
philosophical setting) how much more humane were such executions by
hemlock than is the modern gallows or electric chair.

An Athenian trial usually lasts all day, and perhaps we have been able
to witness only the end of it.  It may well happen, however, that we
cannot attend a dicastery at all.  This day may be one which is devoted
to a meeting of the public assembly, and duty summons the jurors, not
in the court room, but to the Pnyx.  This is no loss to us, however. 
We welcome the chance to behold the Athenian Ecclesia in action.

Chapter XVI.
The Ecclesia of Athens.

127.  The Rule of Democracy in Athens.—The Ecclesia, or Public
Assembly, of Athens is something more than the chief governmental organ
in the state.  It is the great leveling engine which makes Athens a
true democracy, despite the great differences in wealth between her
inhabitants, and the marked social pretensions of “the noble and the
good”—the educated classes.  At this time Athens is profoundly wedded
to her democratic constitution.  Founded by Solon and Clisthenes,
developed by Themistocles and Pericles, it was temporarily overthrown
at the end of the Peloponnesian War; but the evil rule then of the
“Thirty Tyrants” has proved a better lesson on the evils of oligarchic
rule than a thousand rhetoricians’ declamations upon the advantages of
the “rule of the many” as against the “rule of the few.”  Attica now
acknowledges only one Lord—_King Demos_—“King Everybody”—and until the
coming of bondage to Macedon there will be no serious danger of an
aristocratic reaction.

128.  Aristocracy and Wealth. Their Status and Burdens.—True, there are
old noble families in Athens,—like the Alcmæonidæ whereof Pericles
sprang, and the Eumolpidæ who supply the priests to Demeter, the Earth
Mother.  But these great houses have long since ceased to claim
anything but _social_ preëminence.  Even then one must take pains not
to assume airs, or the next time one is litigant before the dicastery,
the insinuation of “an undemocratic, oligarchic manner of life” will
win very many adverse votes among the jury.  Nobility and wealth are
only allowed to assert themselves in Athens when justified by an
extraordinary amount of public service and public generosity.

Xenophon in his _Memorabilia_ makes Socrates tell Critobuls, a wealthy
and self-important individual, that he is really so hampered by his
high position as to be decidedly poor.  “You are obliged,” says
Socrates, “to offer numerous and magnificent sacrifices; you have to
receive and entertain sumptuously a great many strangers, and to feast
[your fellow] citizens.  You have to pay heavy contributions towards
the public service, keeping horses and furnishing choruses in peace
times and in war bearing the expense of maintaining triremes and paying
the special war taxes; and if you fail to do all this, they will punish
you with as much severity as if you were caught stealing their money.”

129.  Athenian Society Truly Democratic up to a Certain Point.—Wealth,
then, means one perpetual round of public services and obligations,
sweetened perhaps with a little empty praise, an inscription, an
honorary crown, or best of all, an honorary statue “to the public
benefactor” as the chief reward.  On the other hand one may be poor and
be a thoroughly self-respecting, nay, prominent citizen. Socrates had
an absurdly small invested fortune and the gods knew that he did little
enough in the way of profitable labor.[*]  He had to support his wife
and three children upon this income.  He wore no chiton.  His himation
was always an old one, unchanged from summer to winter.  He seems to
have possessed only one pair of good sandals all his life.  His rations
were bread and water, save when he was invited out.  Yet this man was
welcome in the “very best society.”  Alcibiades, leader of the fast,
rich set, and many more of the gilded youth of Athens dogged his heels.
 One meets not the slightest evidence that his poverty ever prevented
him from carrying his philosophic message home to the wealthy and the
noble. There is no snobbishness, then, in this Athenian society. 
Provided a man is not pursuing a base mechanic art or an ignoble trade,
provided he has a real message to convey,—whether in literature,
philosophy, or statecraft,—there are no questions “who was your
father?” or “what is your income?”[+]  Athens will hear him and accept
his best.  For this open-mindedness—almost unique in ancient
communities—one must thank King Demos and his mouthpiece, the Ecclesia.

[*] Socrates’s regular income from invested property seems to have been
only about $12 per year.  It is to be hoped his wife, Xanthippe, had a
little property of her own!

[+] Possibly the son of a man whose parents notoriously had been slaves
in Athens would have found many doors closed to him.

Athenians are intensely proud of their democracy.  In Æschylus’s
_Persians_, Atossa, the Barbarian queen, asks concerning the

“Who is the lord and shepherd of their flock?”

Very prompt is the answer:—

“They are not slaves, they bow to no man’s rule.”

Again in Euripides’s _Supplicants_ there is this boast touching

       “No will of one
Holdeth this land:  it is a city and free.
The whole folk year by year, in parity of service is our king.”

130.  The Voting Population of Athens.—Nevertheless when we ask about
this “whole folk,” and who the voters are, we soon discover that Athens
is very far from being a pure democracy.  The multitudes of slaves are
of course without votes, and so is the numerous class of the important,
cultivated, and often wealthy metics.  To get Athenian citizenship is
notoriously hard.  For a stranger (say a metic who had done some
conspicuous public service) to be given the franchise, a special vote
must be passed by the Ecclesia itself; even then the new citizen may be
prosecuted as undeserving before a dicastery, and disfranchised. 
Again, only children both of whose parents are free Athenian citizens
can themselves be enrolled on the carefully guarded lists in the deme
books.  The status of a child, one of whose parents is a metic, is
little better than a bastard.[*]

[*] Of course women were entirely excluded from the Ecclesia, as from
all other forms of public life.  The question of “woman’s rights” had
been agitated just enough to produce comedies like Aristophanes’s
_Parliament of Women_, and philosophical theories such as appear in
Plato’s _Republic_.

Under these circumstances the whole number of voters is very much less
than at a later day will appear in American communities of like
population. Before the Peloponnesian War, when the power of Athens was
at its highest point, there were not less than 30,000 full citizens and
possibly as many as 40,000. But those days of imperial power are now
ended. At present Athens has about 21,000 citizens, or a few more. It
is impossible, however, to gather all these in any single meeting. A
great number are farmers living in the remote villages of Attica; many
city dwellers also will be too busy to think the 3-obol (9-cent [1914
or $1.55 2000]) fee for attendance worth their while.[*] Six thousand
seems to be a good number for ordinary occasions and no doubt much
business can be dispatched with less, although this is the legal quorum
set for most really vital matters. Of course a great crisis, _e.g._ a
declaration of war, will bring out nearly every voter whose farm is not
too distant.

[*] Payment for attendance at the Pnyx seems to have been introduced
about 390 B.C.  The original payment was probably only one obol, and
then from time to time increased.  It was a sign of the relative decay
of political interest in Athens when it became needful thus to reward
the commonalty for attendance at the Assembly.

131.  Meeting Time of the Ecclesia.—Four times in every prytany[*] the
Ecclesia must be convened for ordinary business, and oftener if public
occasion requires.  Five days’ notice has to be given of each regular
meeting, and along with the notice a placard announcing the proposals
which are to come up has to be posted in the Agora. But if there is a
sudden crisis, formalities can be thrown to the winds; a sudden bawling
of the heralds in the streets, a great smoky column caused by burning
the traders’ flimsy booths in the Agora,—these are valid notices of an
extraordinary meeting to confront an immediate danger.

[*] “A prytany” was one tenth of a year, say 35 or 36 days, during
which time the 50 representatives of one of the ten Athenian tribes
then serving as members of the Council of 500 (each tribe taking its
turn) held the presidency of the Council and acted as a special
executive committee of the government.  There were thus at least 40
meetings of the Ecclesia each year, as well as the extraordinary

If this has been a morning when the Ecclesia has been in session,
nothing unusual has occurred at first in the busy Agora, except that
the jury courts are hardly in action, and a bright flag is whipping the
air from the tall flagpole by the Pnyx (the Assembly Place).  Then
suddenly there is a shouting through the Agora.  The clamor of traffic
around the popular flower stalls ceases; everybody who is not a slave
or metic (and these would form a large fraction of the crowd of
marketers) begins to edge down toward one end of the Agora.  Presently
a gang of Scythian police-archers comes in sight.  They have a long
rope sprinkled with red chalk wherewith they are “netting” the Agora. 
The chalk will leave an infallible mark on the mantle of every tardy
citizen, and he who is thus marked as late at the meeting will lose his
fee for attendance, if not subject himself to a fine.  So there is a
general rush away from the Agora and down one of the various avenues
leading to the Pnyx.

132.  The Pnyx (Assembly Place) at Athens.—The Pnyx is an open space of
ground due west from the Acropolis.  It originally sloped gently away
towards the northeast, but a massive retaining wall had been built
around it, in an irregular semicircle, and the space within filled with
solidly packed earth sloping inwards, making a kind of open air
auditorium.  It is a huge place, 394 feet long, and 213 feet at the
widest.  The earthen slope is entirely devoid of seats; everybody casts
himself down sprawling or on his haunches, perhaps with an old himation
under him.  Directly before the sitters runs a long ledge hewn out of
the rock, forming, as it were, the “stage” side of the theater.  Here
the rock has been cut away, so as to leave a sizable stone pulpit
standing forth, with a small flight of steps on each side.  This is the
_Bema_, the orator’s stand, whence speak the “demagogues,”[*] the
molders of Athenian public opinion.  In front of the Bema there is a
small portable altar for the indispensable sacrifices.  In the rear of
the Bema are a few planks laid upon the rock.  Here will sit the fifty
_Prytanes_ in charge of the meeting.  There is a handsome chair for the
presiding officer upon the Bema itself.  These are all the furnishings
of the structure wherein Athens makes peace and war, and orders her
whole civil and foreign policy.  The Hellenic azure is the only roof
above her sovran law makers.  To the right, as the orators stand on the
Bema, they can point toward the Acropolis and its glittering temples;
to the left towards the Peiræus, and the blue sea with the inevitable
memories of glorious Salamis. Surely it will be easy to fire all hearts
with patriotism!

[*] A “demagogue” ( = people-leader) might well be a great statesman,
and not necessarily a cheap and noisy politician.

133.  The Preliminaries of the Meeting.—Into this space the voters
swarm by hundreds—all the citizens of Athens, from twenty years and
upward, sufficiently interested to come.  At each crude entrance stands
a crops of watchful LEXIARCHS and their clerks, checking off those
present and turning back interlopers.  As the entering crowds begin to
thin, the entrance ways are presently closed by wicker hurdles.  The
flag fluttering on high is struck.  The Ecclesia is ready for action.

Much earlier than this, the farmers and fishmen from the hill towns or
from Salamis have been in their places, grumbling at the slowness of
the officials.  People sit down where they can; little groups and clans
together, wedged in closely, chattering up to the last minute, watching
every proceeding with eyes as keen as cats’. All the gossip left over
from the Agora is disposed of ere the prytanes—proverbially
late—scramble into their seats of honor. The police-archers move up and
down, enforcing a kind of order. Amid a growing hush a suckling pig is
solemnly slaughtered by some religious functionary at the altar, and
the dead victim carried around the circuit of the Pnyx as a symbolic
purification of the audience.

“Come inside the purified circuit,” enjoins a loud herald to the little
groups upon the edge.[*]

[*] Aristophanes’s _Acharnians_ (ll. 50 ff.) gives a valuable picture
of this and other proceedings at the Pnyx, but one should never forget
the poet’s exaggerations for comedy purposes, nor his deliberate
omission of matters likely to be mere tedious detail to his audience.

Then comes a prayer invoking the gods’ favor upon the Athenians, their
allies, and this present meeting in particular, winding up (the herald
counts this among the chief parts of his duty) with a tremendous curse
on any wretch who should deceive the folk with evil counsel.  After
this the real secular business can begin. Nothing can be submitted to
the Ecclesia which has not been previously considered and matured by
the Council of 500.  The question to be proposed is now read by the
heralds as a _Pro-bouleuma_—a suggested ordinance by the Council.  Vast
as is the audience, the acoustic properties of the Pnyx are excellent,
and all public officers and orators are trained to harangue multitudes
in the open air, so that the thousands get every word of the

134.  Debating a Proposition.—“Resolved by the Boule, the tribe Leontis
holding the prytany, and Heraclides being clerk, upon the motion of
Timon the son of Timon the Eleusinian,[*] that”—and then in formal
language it is proposed to increase the garrison of the allied city of
Byzantium by 500 hired Arcadian mercenaries, since the king of Thrace
is threatening that city, and its continued possession is absolutely
essential to the free import of grain into Attica.

[*] This seems to have been the regular form for beginning a
_probouleuma_ although nearly all our information comes from the texts
of proposals _after_ they have been made formal decrees by the sovran

There is a hush of expectancy; a craning of necks.

“Who wishes to speak?” calls the herald.

After a decent pause Timon, the mover of the measure, comes forward. He
is a fairly well-known character and commands a respectable faction
among the Demos.  There is some little clapping, mixed with jeering, as
he mounts the Bema.  The president of the prytanes—as evidence that he
has now the right to harangue—hands him a myrtle wreath which he
promptly claps on his head, and launches into his argument.  Full
speedily he has convinced at least a large share of the audience that
it was sheer destruction to leave Byzantium without an efficient
garrison.  Grain would soon be at famine prices if the town were taken,
etc., etc.  The only marvel is that the merciful gods have averted the
disaster so long in the face of such neglect.—Why had the board of
strategi, responsible in such matters, neglected this obvious duty? 
[Cheers intermixed with catcalls.]  This was not the way the men who
won Marathon had dealt with dangers, nor later worthies like Nicias or
Thrasybulus.  [More cheers and catcalls.]  He winds up with a splendid
invocation to Earth, Sky, and Justice to bear witness that all this
advice is given solely with a view to the weal of Athens.

“He had Isocrates teach him how to launch that peroration,” mutters a
crabbed old citizen behind his peak-trimmed beard, as Timon descends
amid mingled applause and derision.

“Very likely; Iphicrates is ready to answer him,” replies a fellow.

“Who wishes to speak?” the herald demands again.  From a place directly
before the Bema a well-known figure, the elderly general, Iphicrates,
is rising.  At a nod from the president, he mounts the Bema and assumes
the myrtle.  He has not Timon’s smooth tones nor oratorical manner.  He
is a man of action and war, and no tool of the Agora coteries.  A salvo
of applause greets him.  Very pithily he observes that Byzantium will
be safe enough if the city will only be loyal to the Athenian alliance.
 Athens needs all her garrisons nearer home.  Timon surely knows the
state of the treasury.  Is he going to propose a special tax upon his
fellow countrymen to pay for those 500 mercenaries?  [Loud laughter and
derisive howls directed at Timon.]  Athens needs to keep her strength
for _real_ dangers; and those are serious enough, but not at Byzantium.
 At the next meeting he and the other strategi will recommend—etc.,
etc.  When Iphicrates quits the Bema there is little left of Timon’s
fine “Earth, Sky and Justice.”

135.  Voting at the Pnyx.—But other orators follow on both sides. Once
Timon, egged on by many supporters, tries to gain the Bema a second
time, but is told by the president that one cannot speak twice on the
same subject.  Once the derision and shouting becomes so violent that
the president has to announce, “Unless there is silence I must adjourn
the meeting.”  Finally, after an unsuccessful effort to amend the
proposal, by reducing the garrison at Byzantium to 250, the movers of
the measure realize that the votes will probably be against them.  They
try to break up the meeting.

“I hear thunder!”  “I feel rain!” they begin shouting, and such ill
omens, if really in evidence, would be enough to force an adjournment;
but the sky is delightfully clear.  The president simply shrugs his
shoulders; and now the Pnyx is fairly rocking with the yell, “A vote! 
A vote!”

The president rises.  Taking the vote in the Ecclesia is a very simple
matter when it is a plain question of “yes” or “no” on a

[*] When an _individual_ had to be voted for, then ballots were used.

“All who favor the _probouleuma_ of Timon will raise the right hand!”

A respectable but very decided minority shows itself.

“Those who oppose.”

The adverse majority is large.  The morning is quite spent.  There is a
great tumult.  Men are rising, putting on their himatia, ridiculing
Timon; while the herald at a nod from the president declares the
Ecclesia adjourned.

136.  The Ecclesia as an Educational Instrument.—Timon and his friends
retire crestfallen to discuss the fortunes of war.  They are not
utterly discouraged, however.  The Ecclesia is a fickle creature.  What
it withholds to-day it may grant to-morrow. Iphicrates, whose words
have carried such weight now, may soon be howled down and driven from
the Bema much as was the unfortunate litigant in the jury court. 
Still, with all its faults, the Ecclesia is the great school for the
adults of Athens.  All are on terms of perfect equality.  King Demos is
not the least respecter of wealth or family.  Sophistries are usually
penetrated in a twinkling by some coarse expletive from a remote corner
of the Pnyx.  Every citizen understands the main issues of the public
business. _He is part of the actual working government_, not once per
year (or less often) at the ballot box, but at least forty times
annually; and dolt he would be, did he not learn at least all the
superficialities of statecraft.  He may make grievous errors.  He may
be misled by mob prejudice or mob enthusiasm; but he is not likely to
persist in a policy of crass blundering very long.  King Demos may
indeed rule a fallible human monarchy, but it is thanks to him, and to
his high court held at the Pnyx, that Athens owes at least half of that
sharpness of wit and intelligence which is her boast.

Chapter XVII.
The Afternoon at the Gymnasia.

137.  The Gymnasia.  Places of General Resort.—The market is thinning
after a busy day; the swarms of farmer-hucksters with their weary asses
are trudging homeward; the schoolrooms are emptying; the dicasteries or
the Ecclesia, as the case may be, have adjourned. Even the slave
artisans in the factories are allowed to slacken work.  The sun, a ball
of glowing fire, is slowly sinking to westward over the slopes of
Ægaleos; the rock of the Acropolis is glowing as if in flame; intense
purple tints are creeping over all the landscape.  The day is waning,
and all Athenians who can possibly find leisure are heading towards the
suburbs for a walk, a talk, and refreshment of soul and body at the
several Gymnasia.

Besides various establishments and small “wrestling schools” for the
boys, there are three great public Gymnasia at Athens,—the Lyceum to
the east of the town; the Cynosarges[*] to the southward; and last, but
at all least, the Academy.  This is the handsomest, the most famous,
the most characteristic.  We shall do well to visit it.

[*] The Cynosarges was the only one of these freely opened to such
Athenians as had non-Athenian mothers.  The other two were reserved for
the strictly “full citizens.”

138.  The Road to the Academy.—We go out toward the northwest of the
city, plunging soon into a labyrinth of garden walls, fragrant with the
fruit and blossoms within, wander amid dark olive groves where the
solemn leaves of the sacred trees are talking sweetly; and presently
mount a knoll by some suburban farm buildings, then look back to find
that slight as is the elevation, here is a view of marvelous beauty
across the city, the Acropolis, and the guardian mountains.  From the
rustling ivy coverts come the melodious notes of birds.  We are glad to
learn that this is the suburb of Colonus, the home of Sophocles the
tragedian, and here is the very spot made famous in the renowned chorus
of his _Œdipous at Colonus_. It is too early, of course, to enjoy the
nightingale which the poet asserts sings often amid the branches, but
the scene is one of marvelous charm.  We are not come, however, to
admire Colonus.  The numerous strollers indicate our direction. 
Turning a little to the south, we see, embowered amid the olive groves
which line the unseen stream of the Cephissos, a wall, and once beyond
it find ourselves in a kind of spacious park combined with an athletic
establishment. This is the Academy,—founded by Hipparchus, son of
Peisistratus the tyrant, but given its real embellishments and beauty
by Cimon, the son of Militiades the victor of Marathon.

139. The Academy.—The Academy is worthy of the visit. The park itself
is covered with olive trees and more graceful plane trees. The grass
beneath us is soft and delightful to the bare foot (and nearly
everybody, we observe, has taken off his sandals). There are marble and
bronze statues skillfully distributed amid the shrubbery—shy nymphs,
peeping fauns, bold satyrs. Yonder is a spouting fountain surmounted by
a noble Poseidon with his trident; above the next fountain rides the
ocean car of Amphitrite. Presently we come to a series of low
buildings. Entering, we find them laid out in a quadrangle with
porticoes on every side, somewhat like the promenades around the Agora.
Inside the promenades open a series of ample rooms for the use of
professional athletes during stormy weather, and for the inevitable
bathing and anointing with oil which will follow all exercise. This
great square court formed by the “gymnasium” proper is swarming with
interesting humanity, but we pass it hastily in order to depart by an
exit on the inner side and discover a second more conventionally laid
out park. Here to right and to left are short stretches of soft sand
divided into convenient sections for wrestling, for quoit hurling, for
javelin casting, and for jumping; but a loud shout and cheering soon
draw us onward. At the end of this park we find the stadium; a great
oval track, 600 feet (a _stadium_) for the half circuit, with benches
and all the paraphernalia for a foot race. The first contests have just
ended. The racers are standing, panting after their exertions, but
their friends are talking vehemently. Out in the sand, near the statue
of Hermes (the patron god of gymnasia) is a dignified and
self-conscious looking man in a purple edged chiton—the gymnasiarch,
the official manager of the Academy. While he waits to organize a
second race we can study the visitors and habitués of the gymnasium.

140.  The Social Atmosphere and Human Types at the Academy.—What the
Pnyx is to the political life of Athens, this the Academy and the other
great gymnasia are to its social and intellectual as well as its
physical life.  Here in daily intercourse, whether in friendly contest
of speed or brawn, or in the more valuable contest of wits, the youth
of Athens complete their education after escaping from the rod of the
schoolmaster.  Here they have daily lessons on the mottoes, which (did
such a thing exist) should be blazoned on the coat of arms of Greece,
as the summing up of all Hellenic wisdom:—

“Know thyself,”

and again:—

“Be moderate.”

Precept, example, and experience teach these truths at the gymnasia of
Athens.  Indeed, on days when the Ecclesia is not in session, when no
war is raging, and they are not busy with a lawsuit, many Athenians
will spend almost the whole day at the Academy.  For whatever are your
interests, here you are likely to find something to engross you.

It must be confessed that not everybody at the Academy comes here for
physical or mental improvement. We see a little group squatting and
gesticulating earnestly under an old olive tree—they are obviously
busy, not with philosophic theory, but with dice. Again, two young men
pass us presenting a curious spectacle. They are handsomely dressed and
over handsomely scented, but each carries carefully under each arm a
small cock; and from time to time they are halted by fiends who admire
the birds. Clearly these worthies’ main interests are in cockfighting;
and they are giving their favorites “air and exercise” before the
deadly battle, on which there is much betting, at the supper party that
night. Also the shouting and rumbling from a distance tells of the
chariot course, where the sons of the more wealthy or pretentious
families are lessening their patrimonies by training a “two” or a
“four” to contend at the Isthmian games or at Olympia.

141.  Philosophers and Cultivated Men at the Gymnasia.—All these things
are true, and Athens makes full display here of the usual crop of
knaves or fools.  Nevertheless this element is in the minority.  Here a
little earlier or a little later than our visit (for just now he is in
Sicily) one could see Plato himself—walking under the shade trees and
expounding to a little trailing host of eager-eyed disciples the
fundamental theories of his ideal Commonwealth.  Here are scores of
serious bearded faces, and heads sprinkled with gray, moving to and fro
in small groups, discussing in melodious Attic the philosophy, the
poetry, the oration, which has been partly considered in the Agora this
morning, and which will be further discussed at the symposium to-night.
 Everything is entirely informal.  Even white-haired gentlemen do not
hesitate to cast off chiton and himation and spring around nimbly upon
the sands, to “try their distance” with the quoits, or show the young
men that they have not forgotten accuracy with the javelin, or even,
against men of their own age, to test their sinews in a mild wrestling
bout.  It is undignified for an old man to attempt feats beyond his
advanced years.  No one expects any great proficiency from most of
those present.  It is enough to attempt gracefully, and to laugh
merrily if you do not succeed.  Everywhere there is the greatest good
nature, and even frolicking, but very little of the really boisterous.

142.  The Beautiful Youths at the Academy.—Yet the majority of the
visitors to the Academy have an interest that is not entirely summed up
in proper athletics, or in the baser sports, or in philosophy.  Every
now and then a little whisper runs among the groups of strollers or
athlete  “There he goes!—a new one!  How beautiful!”—and there is a
general turning of heads.

A youth goes by, his body quite stripped, and delicately bronzed by
constant exposure to the sun.  His limbs are graceful, but vigorous and
straight, his chest is magnificently curved.  He lifts his head
modestly, yet with a proud and easy carriage.  His hair is dark blonde;
his profile very “Greek”—nose and forehead joining in unbroken straight
line.  A little crowd is following him; a more favored comrade, a
stalwart, bearded man, walks at his side.  No need of questioning now
whence the sculptors of Athens get their inspiration.  This happy
youth, just out of the schoolroom, and now to be enrolled as an armed
ephebus, will be the model soon for some immortal bronze or marble. 
Fortunate is he, if his humility is not ruined by all the admiration
and flattery; if he can remember the injunctions touching “modesty,”
which master and father have repeated so long; if he can remember the
precept that true beauty of body can go only with true beauty of soul. 
Now at least is his day of hidden or conscious pride.  All Athens is
commending him. He is the reigning toast, like the “belle” of a later
age.  Not the groundlings only, but the poets, rhetoricians,
philosophers, will gaze after him, seek an introduction, compliment him
delicately, give themselves the pleasure of making him blush
deliciously, and go back to their august problems unconsciously
stimulated and refreshed by this vision of “the godlike.”[*]

[*]For pertinent commentary on the effect of meeting a beautiful youth
upon very grave men, see, _e.g._, Plato’s _Charmides_ (esp. 158 a) and
_Lysis_ (esp. 206 d).  Or better still in Xenophon’s _Symposium_ (I.9),
where we hear of the beautiful youth Autolycus, “even as a bright light
at night draws every eye, so by _his_ beauty drew on him the gaze of
all the company [at the banquet].  Not a man was present who did not
feel his emotions stirred by the sight of him.”

143. The Greek Worship of Manly Beauty.—The Greek worship of the
beautiful masculine form is something which the later world will never
understand. In this worship there is too often a coarseness, a sensual
dross, over which a veil is wisely cast. But the great fact of this
worship remains: to the vast majority of Greeks “beauty” does not imply
a delicate maid clad in snowy drapery; it implies a perfectly shaped,
bronzed, and developed youth, standing forth in his undraped manhood
for some hard athletic battle. This ideal possesses the national life,
and effects the entire Greek civilization. Not beauty in innocent
weakness, but beauty in resourceful strength—before this beauty men bow

[*] Plato (_Republic_, p. 402) gives the view of enlightened Greek
opinion when he states “There can be no fairer spectacle than that of a
man who combines the possession of _moral_ beauty in his soul, with
_outward_ beauty of body, corresponding and harmonizing with the
former, because the same great pattern enters into both.”

It is this masculine type of beauty, whether summed up in a physical
form or translated by imagery into the realm of the spirit, that
Isocrates (a very good mouthpiece for average enlightened opinion)
praises in language which strains even his facile rhetoric. “[Beauty]
is the first of all things in majesty, honor, and divineness. Nothing
devoid of beauty is prized; the admiration of virtue itself comes to
this, that of all manifestations of life, virtue is the most beautiful.
The supremacy of beauty over all things can be seen in our own
disposition toward it, and toward them. Other things we merely seek to
attain as we need them, but beautiful things inspire us with love,
_love_ which is as much stronger than _wish_ as its object is better.
To the beautiful alone, as to the gods, we are never tired of doing
homage; delighting to be their slaves rather than to be the rulers of

Could we put to all the heterogeneous crowd in the wide gymnasium the
question, “What things do you desire most?” the answer “To be
physically beautiful” (not “handsome” merely, but “beautiful”) would
come among the first wishes.  There is a little song, very popular and
very Greek.  It tells most of the story.

The best of gifts to mortal man is health;
    The next the bloom of beauty’s matchless flower;
The third is blameless and unfraudful wealth;
    The fourth with friends to spend youths’ joyous hour.[*]

[*] Translation by Milman.  The exact date of this Greek poem is
uncertain, but its spirit is entirely true to that of Athens in the
time of this sketch.

Health and physical beauty thus go before wealth and the passions of
friendship,—a true Greek estimate!

144.  The Detestation of Old Age.—Again, we are quick to learn that
this “beauty” is the beauty of youth.  It is useless to talk to an
Athenian of a “beautiful old age.”  Old age is an evil to be borne with
dignity, with resignation if needs be, to be fought against by every
kind of bodily exercise; but to take satisfaction in it?—impossible. 
It means a diminishing of those keen powers of physical and
intellectual enjoyment which are so much to every normal Athenian.  It
means becoming feeble, and worse than feeble, ridiculous.  The
physician’s art has not advanced so far as to prevent the frequent loss
of sight and hearing in even moderate age. No hope of a future renewal
of noble youth in a happier world gilds the just man’s sunset.  Old age
must, like the untimely passing of loved ones, be endured in becoming
silence, as one of the fixed inevitables; but it is gloomy work to
pretend to find it cheerful. Only the young can find life truly happy. 
Euripides in _The Mad Heracles_ speaks for all his race:—

Tell me not of the Asian tyrant,
    Or of palaces plenished with gold;
For such bliss I am not an aspirant,
    If _youth_ I might only behold:—
Youth that maketh prosperity higher,
And ever adversity lighter.[*]

[*] Mahaffy, translator.  Another very characteristic lament for the
passing of youth is left us by the early elegiac poet Mimnermus.

145.  The Greeks unite Moral and Physical Beauty.—But here at the
Academy, this spirit of beautiful youth, and the “joy of life,” is
everywhere dominant.  All around us are the beautiful bodies of young
men engaged in every kind of graceful exercise.  When we question, we
are told that current belief is that in a great majority of instances
there is a development and a symmetry of mind corresponding to the
glory of the body.  It is contrary to all the prevalent notions of the
reign of “divine harmony” to have it otherwise.  The gods abhor all
gross contradictions!  Even now men will argue over a strange breach of
this rule;—why did heaven suffer Socrates to have so beautiful a soul
set in so ugly a body?—Inscrutable are the ways of Zeus!

However, we have generalized and wandered enough.  The Academy is a
place of superabounding activities.  Let us try to comprehend some of

146.  The Usual Gymnastic Sports and their Objects.—Despite all the
training in polite conversation which young men are supposed to receive
at the gymnasium, the object of the latter is after all to form places
of athletic exercise.  The Athenians are without most of these
elaborate field games such as later ages will call “baseball” and
“football”; although, once learned, they could surely excel in these
prodigiously.  They have a simple “catch” with balls, but it hardly
rises above the level of a children’s pastime.  The reasons for these
omissions are probably, first, because so much time is devoted to the
“palæstra” exercises; secondly, because military training eats up about
all the time not needed for pure gymnastics.

The “palæstra” exercises, taught first at the boys’ training
establishments and later continued at the great gymnasia, are nearly
all of the nature of latter-day “field sports.”  They do not depend on
the costly apparatus of the twentieth century athletic halls; and they
accomplish their ends with extremely simple means.  The aim of the
instructor is really twofold—to give his pupils a body fit and apt for
war (and we have seen that to be a citizen usually implies being a
hoplite), and to develop a body beautiful to the eye and efficient for
civil life.  The naturally beautiful youth can be made more beautiful;
the naturally homely youth can be made at least passable under the care
of a skilful gymnastic teacher.

147.  Professional Athletes:  the Pancration.—Athletics, then, are a
means to an end and should not be tainted with professionalism. True,
as we wander about the Academy we see heavy and over brawny individuals
whose “beauty” consists in flattened noses, mutilated ears, and mouths
lacking many teeth, and who are taking their way to the remote quarter
where boxing is permitted.  Here they will wind hard bull’s hide thongs
around their hands and wrists, and pummel one another brutally, often
indeed (if in a set contest) to the very risk of life.  These men are
obviously professional athletes who, after appearing with some success
at the “Nemea,” are in training for the impending “Pythia” at Delphi. 
A large crowd of youths of the less select kind follows and cheers
them; but the better public opinion frowns on them.  They are denounced
by the philosophers.  Their lives no less than their bodies “are not
beautiful”—_i.e._ they offend against the spirit of harmony inherent in
every Greek.  Still less are they in genteel favor when, the
preliminary boxing round being finished, they put off their boxing
thongs and join in the fierce _Pancration_, a not unskillful
combination of boxing with wrestling, in which it is not suffered to
strike with the knotted fist, but in which, nevertheless, a terrible
blow can be given with the bent fingers.  Kicking, hitting, catching,
tripping, they strive together mid the “_Euge! Euge!_—Bravo! Bravo!” of
their admirers until one is beaten down hopelessly upon the sand, and
the contest ends without harm.  Had it been a real Pancration, however,
it would have been desperate business, for it is quite permissible to
twist an opponent’s wrist, and even to break his fingers, to make him
give up the contest. Therefore it is not surprising that the
Pancration, even more than boxing, is usually reserved for professional

148.  Leaping Contests.—But near at hand is a more pleasing contest. 
Youths of the ephebus age are practicing leaping.  They have no
springboard, no leaping pole, but only a pair of curved metal
dumb-bells to aid them.  One after another their lithe brown bodies,
shining with the fresh olive oil, come forward on a lightning run up
the little mound of earth, then fly gracefully out across the soft
sands.  There is much shouting and good-natured rivalry. As each lad
leaps, an eager attendant marks his distance with a line drawn by the
pickaxe.  The lines gradually extend ever farther from the mound.  The
rivalry is keen.  Finally, there is one leap that far exceeds the
rest.[*]  A merry crowd swarms around the blushing victor.  A grave
middle-aged man takes the ivy crown from his head, and puts it upon the
happy youth.  “Your father will take joy in you,” he says as the knot
breaks up.

[*] If the data of the ancients are to be believed, the Greeks achieved
records in leaping far beyond those of any modern athletes, but it is
impossible to rely on data of this kind.

149.  Quoit Hurling.—Close by the leapers is another stretch of yellow
sand reserved for the quoit throwers.  The contestants here are
slightly older,—stalwart young men who seem, as they fling the heavy
bronze discus, to be reaching out eagerly into the fullness of life and
fortune before them.  Very graceful are the attitudes. Here it was the
sculptor Miron saw his “Discobolus” which he immortalized and gave to
all the later world; “stooping down to take aim, his body turned in the
direction of the hand which holds the quoit, one knee slightly bent as
though he meant to vary the posture and to rise with the throw.”[*] 
The caster, however, does not make his attempt standing.  He takes a
short run, and then the whole of his splendid body seems to spring
together with the cast.

[*] The quotation is from Lucian (Roman Imperial period).

150.  Casting the javelin.—The range of the quoit hurlers in turn seems
very great, but we cannot delay to await the issue.  Still elsewhere in
the Academy they are hurling the javelin.  Here is a real martial
exercise, and patriotism as well as natural athletic spirit urges young
men to excel.  the long light lances are being whirled at a distant
target with remarkable accuracy; and well they may, for every
contestant has the vision of some hour when he may stand on the poop of
a trireme and hear the dread call, “All hands repel boarders,” or need
all his darts to break up the rush of a pursuing band of hoplites.

151.  Wrestling.—The real crowds, however, are around the wrestlers and
the racers.  Wrestling in its less brutal form is in great favor.  It
brings into play all the muscles of a man; it tests his resources both
of mind and body finely.  It is excellent for a youth and it fights
away old age.  The Greek language is full of words and allusions taken
from the wrestler’s art.  The palæstras for the boys are called “the
wrestling school” par excellence. It is no wonder that now the ring on
the sands is a dense one and constantly growing.  Two skilful amateurs
will wrestle.  One—a speedy rumor tells us—is, earlier and later in the
day, a rising comic poet; the other is not infrequently heard on the
Bema.  Just at present, however, they have forgotten anapests and
oratory.  A crowd of cheering, jesting friends thrusts them on.  Forth
they stand, two handsome, powerful men, well oiled for suppleness, but
also sprinkled with fine sand to make it possible to get a fair grip in
the contest.

For a moment they wag their sharp black beards at each other defiantly,
and poise and edge around.  Then the poet, more daring, rushes in, and
instantly the two have grappled—each clutching the other’s left wrist
in his right hand.  The struggle that follows is hot and even, until a
lucky thrust from the orator’s foot lands the poet in a sprawling heap;
whence he rises with a ferocious grin and renews the contest.  The
second time they both fall together. “A tie!” calls the long-gowned
friend who acts as umpire, with an officious flourish of his cane.

The third time the poet catches the orator trickily under the thigh,
and fairly tears him to the ground; but at the fourth meeting the
orator slips his arm in decisive grip about his opponent’s wrist and
with a might wrench upsets him.

“Two casts out of three, and victory!”

Everybody laughs good-naturedly. The poet and the orator go away arm in
arm to the bathing house, there to have another good oiling and rubbing
down by their slaves, after removing the heavily caked sand from their
skin with the strigils. Of course, had it been a real contest in the
“greater games,” the outcome might have been more serious for the rules
allow one to twist a wrist, to thrust an arm or foot into the foeman’s
belly, or (when things are desperate) to dash your forehead—bull
fashion—against your opponent’s brow, in the hope that his skull will
prove weaker than yours.

152.  Foot Races.—The continued noise from the stadium indicates that
the races are still running; and we find time to go thither. The simple
running match, a straight-away dash of 600 feet, seems to have been the
original contest at the Olympic games ere these were developed into a
famous and complicated festival; and the runner still is counted among
the favorites of Greek athletics. As we sit upon the convenient benches
around the academy stadium we see at once that the track is far from
being a hard, well-rolled “cinder path”; on the contrary, it is of soft
sand into which the naked foot sinks if planted too firmly, and upon it
the most adept “hard-track” runner would at first pant and flounder
helplessly. The Greeks have several kinds of foot races, but none that
are very short.  The shortest is the simple _stadium_ (600 feet), a
straight hard dash down one side of the long oval; then there is the
“double course” (_diaulos_) down one side and back; the “horse
race”—twice clear around (2400 feet); and lastly the hard-testing “long
course” (_dolichos_) which may very in length according to
arrangement,—seven, twelve, twenty, or even twenty-four stadia, we are
told; and it is the last (about three miles) that is one of the most
difficult contests at Olympia.

[Illustration: The Race in Armor]

At this moment a party of four hale and hearty men still in the young
prime are about to compete in the “double race.”  They come forward all
rubbed with the glistening oil, and crouch at the starting point behind
the red cord held by two attendants.  The gymnasiarch stands watchfully
by, swinging his cane to smite painfully whoever, in over eagerness,
breaks away before the signal.  All is ready; at his nod the rope
falls.  The four fly away together, pressing their elbows close to
their sides, and going over the soft sands with long rhythmic leaps,
rather than with the usual rapid running motion.  A fierce race it is,
amid much exhortation from friends and shouting.  At length, as so
often—when speeding back towards the stretched cord,—the rearmost
runner suddenly gathers amazing speed, and, flying with prodigious
leaps ahead of his rivals, is easily the victor.  His friends are at
once about him, and we hear the busy tongues advising, “You must surely
race at the Pythia; the Olympia; etc.”

This simple race over, a second quickly follows:  five heavy, powerful
men this time, but they are to run in full hoplite’s armor—the
ponderous shield, helmet, cuirass, and greaves.  This is the exacting
“Armor Race” (_Hoplitodromos_), and safe only for experienced soldiers
or professional athletes.[*]  Indeed, the Greeks take all their foot
races seriously, and there are plenty of instances when the victor has
sped up to the goal, and then dropped dead before the applauding
stadium.  There are no stop watches in the Academy; we do not know the
records of the present or of more famous runners; yet one may be
certain that the “time” made, considering the very soft sand, has been
exceedingly fast.

[*] It was training in races like these which enabled the Athenians at
Marathon to “charge the Persians on the run” (Miltiades’ orders), all
armored though they were, and so get quickly through the terrible zone
of the Persian arrow fire.

153.  The Pentathlon:  the Honors paid to Great Athletes.—We have now
seen average specimens of all the usual athletic sports of the Greeks. 
Any good authority will tell us, however, that a truly capable athlete
will not try to specialize so much in any one kind of contest that he
cannot do justice to the others.  As an all around well-trained man he
will try to excel in the _Pentathlon_, the “five contests.”  Herein he
will successfully join in running, javelin casting, quoit throwing,
leaping, and wrestling.[*]  As the contest proceeds the weaker athletes
will be eliminated; only the two fittest will be left for the final
trial of strength and skill.  Fortunate indeed is “he who overcometh”
in the Pentathlon. It is the crown of athletic victories, involving, as
it does, no scanty prowess both of body and mind.  The victor in the
Pentathlon at one of the great Pan-Hellenic games (Olympian, Pythian,
Isthmian, or Nemean) or even in the local Attic contest at the
Panathenæa is a marked man around Athens or any other Greek city. 
Poets celebrate him; youths dog his heels and try to imitate him; his
kinsfolk take on airs; very likely he is rewarded as a public
benefactor by the government.  But there is abundant honor for one who
has triumphed in ANY of the great contests; and even as we go out we
see people pointing to a bent old man and saying, “Yes; he won the
quoit hurling at the Nema when Ithycles was archon.”[+]

[*] The exact order of these contests, and the rules of elimination as
the games proceeded, are uncertain—perhaps they varied with time and

[+] This would make it 398 B.C.  The Athenians dated their years by the
name of their “first Archon” (_Archon eponymos_).

…The Academy is already thinning.  The beautiful youths and their
admiring “lovers” have gone homeward.  The last race has been run. We
must hasten if we would not be late to some select symposium. The birds
are more melodious than ever around Colonus; the red and golden glow
upon the Acropolis is beginning to fade; the night is sowing the stars;
and through the light air of a glorious evening we speed back to the

Chapter XVIII.
Athenian Cookery and the Symposium.

154.  Greek Meal Times.—The streets are becoming empty.  The Agora has
been deserted for hours.  As the warm balmy night closes over the city
the house doors are shut fast, to open only for the returning master or
his guests, bidden to dinner.  Soon the ways will be almost silent, to
be disturbed, after a proper interval, by the dinner guests returning
homeward.  Save for these, the streets will seem those of a city of the
dead:  patrolled at rare intervals by the Scythian archers, and also
ranged now and then by cutpurses watching for an unwary stroller, or
miscreant roisterers trolling lewd songs, and pounding on honest men’s
doors as they wander from tavern to tavern in search of the lowest
possible pleasures.

We have said very little of eating or drinking during our visit in
Athens, for, truth to tell, the citizens try to get through the day
with about as little interruption for food and drink as possible. But
now, when warehouse and gymnasium alike are left to darkness, all
Athens will break its day of comparative fasting.

Roughly speaking, the Greeks anticipate the latter-day “Continental”
habits in their meal hours.  The custom of Germans and of many
Americans in having the heartiest meal at noonday would never appeal to
them.  The hearty meal is at night, and no one dreams of doing any
serious work after it.  When it is finished, there may be pleasant
discourse or varied amusements, but never real business; and even if
there are guests, the average dinner party breaks up early.  Early to
bed and early to rise, would be a maxim indorsed by the Athenians.

Promptly upon rising, our good citizen has devoured a few morsels of
bread sopped in undiluted wine; that has been to him what “coffee and
rolls” will be to the Frenchmen,—enough to carry him through the
morning business, until near to noon he will demand something more
satisfying.  He then visits home long enough to partake of a
substantial déjeuner (_ariston_, first breakfast = _akratisma_). He has
one or two hot dishes—one may suspect usually warmed over from last
night’s dinner—and partakes of some more wine.  This _ariston_ will be
about all he will require until the chief meal of the day—the regular
dinner (_deïpnon_) which would follow sunset.

155. Society desired at Meals.—The Athenians are a gregarious sociable
folk. Often enough the citizen must dine alone at home with “only” his
wife and children for company, but if possible he will invite friends
(or get himself invited out). Any sort of an occasion is enough to
excuse a dinner-party,—a birthday of some friend, some kind of family
happiness, a victory in the games, the return from, or the departure
upon, a journey:—all these will answer; or indeed a mere love of good
fellowship. There are innumerable little eating clubs; the members go
by rotation to their respective houses. Each member contributes either
some money or has his slave bring a hamper of provisions. In the fine
weather picnic parties down upon the shore are common.[*] “Anything to
bring friends together”—in the morning the Agora, in the afternoon the
gymnasium, in the evening the symposium—that seems to be the rule of
Athenian life.

[*] Such excursions were so usual that the literal expression “Let us
banquet at the shore” σήμερον ἀκτάσωμεν came often to mean simply “Let
us have a good time.”

However, the Athenians seldom gather to eat for the mere sake of animal
gorging.  They have progressed since the Greeks of the Homeric Age. 
Odysseus[*] is made to say to Alcinoüs that there is nothing more
delightful than sitting at a table covered with bread, meat, and wine,
and listening to a bard’s song; and both Homeric poems show plenty of
gross devouring and guzzling.  There is not much of this in Athens,
although Bœotians are still reproached with being voracious, swinish
“flesh eaters,” and the Greeks of South Italy and Sicily are considered
as devoted to their fare, though of more refined table habits. 
Athenians of the better class pride themselves on their light diet and
moderation of appetite, and their neighbors make considerable fun of
them for their failure to serve satisfying meals.  Certain it is that
the typical Athenian would regard a twentieth century _table d’hôte_
course dinner as heavy and unrefined, if ever it dragged its slow
length before him.

[*] _Odyssey_, IX. 5-10.

156.  The Staple Articles of Food.—However, the Athenians have honest
appetites, and due means of silencing them.  The diet of a poor man is
indeed simple in the extreme.  According to Aristophanes his meal
consists of a cake, bristling with bran for the sake of economy, along
with an onion and a dish of sow thistles, or of mushrooms, or some
other such wretched vegetables; and probably, in fact, that is about
all three fourths of the population of Attica will get on ordinary
working days, always with the addition of a certain indispensable
supply of oil and wine.

Bread, oil, and wine, in short, are the three fundamentals of Greek
diet.  With them alone man can live very healthfully and happily;
without them elaborate vegetable and meat dishes are poor substitutes. 
Like latter-day Frenchmen or Italians with their huge loaves or
macaroni, _bread_ in one form or another is literally the stuff of life
to the Greek.  He makes it of wheat, barley, rye, millet, or spelt, but
preferably of the two named first.  The barley meal is kneaded (not
baked) and eaten raw or half raw as a sort of porridge.  Of wheat
loaves there are innumerable shapes on sale in the Agora,—slender
rolls, convenient loaves, and also huge loaves needing two or three
bushels of flour, exceeding even those made in a later day in Normandy.
 At every meal the amount of bread or porridge consumed is enormous;
there is really little else at all substantial.  Persian visitors to
the Greeks complain that they are in danger of rising from the table

But along with the inevitable bread goes the inevitable _olive oil_. No
latter-day article will exactly correspond to it. First of all it takes
the place of butter as the proper condiment to prevent the bread from
being tasteless.[*] It enters into every dish. The most versatile cook
will be lost without it. Again, at the gymnasium we have seen its great
importance to the athletes and bathers. It is therefore the Hellenic
substitute for soap. Lastly, it fills the lamps which swing over every
dining board. It takes the place of electricity, gas, or petroleum. No
wonder Athens is proud of her olive trees. If she has to import her
grain, she has a surplus for export of one of the three great
essentials of Grecian life.

[*] There was extremely little cow’s butter in Greece.  Herodotus (iv.
2) found it necessary to explain the process of “cow-cheese-making”
among the Scythians.

The third inevitable article of diet is _wine_.  No one has dreamed of
questioning its vast desirability under almost all circumstances. Even
drunkenness is not always improper.  It may be highly fitting, as
putting one in a “divine frenzy,” partaking of the nature of the gods. 
Musæus the semi-mythical poet is made out to teach that the reward of
virtue will be something like perpetual intoxication in the next world.
 Æschines the orator will, ere long, taunt his opponent Demosthenes in
public with being a “water drinker”; and Socrates on many occasions has
given proof that he possessed a very hard head.  Yet naturally the
Athenian has too acute a sense of things fit and dignified, too noble a
perception of the natural harmony, to commend drunkenness on any but
rare occasions.  Wine is rather valued as imparting a happy moderate
glow, making the thoughts come faster, and the tongue more witty.  Wine
raises the spirits of youth, and makes old age forget its gray hairs. 
It chases away thoughts of the dread hereafter, when one will lose
consciousness of the beautiful sun, and perhaps wander a “strengthless
shade” through the dreary underworld.

There is a song attributed to Anacreon, and nearly everybody in Athens
approves the sentiment:—

Thirsty earth drinks up the rain,
Trees from earth drink that again;
Ocean drinks the air, the sun
Drinks the sea, and him, the moon.
Any reason, canst thou think,
I should thirst, while all these drink?[*]

[*] Translation from Von Falke’s _Greece and Rome_.

157.  Greek Vintages.—All Greeks, however, drink their wine so diluted
with water that it takes a decided quantity to produce a “reaction.” 
The average drinker takes three parts water to two of wine.  If he is a
little reckless the ratio is four of water to three of wine; equal
parts “make men mad” as the poet says, and are probably reserved for
very wild dinner parties.  As for drinking pure wine no one dreams of
the thing—it is a practice fit for Barbarians.  There is good reason,
however, for this plentiful use of water.  In the original state Greek
wines were very strong, perhaps almost as alcoholic as whisky, and the
Athenians have no Scotch climate to excuse the use of such

[*] There was a wide difference of opinion as to the proper amount of
dilution.  Odysseus (_Odyssey_, IX. 209) mixed his fabulously strong
wine from Maron in Thrace with twenty times its bulk of water.  Hesiod
abstemiously commended three parts of water to one of wine.  Zaleucus,
the lawgiver of Italian Locri, established the death penalty for
drinking unmixed wine save by physicians’ orders (_Athenæus_, X. 33).

No wine served in Athens, however, will appeal to a later-day
connoisseur.  It is all mixed with resin, which perhaps makes it more
wholesome, but to enjoy it then becomes an acquired taste. There are
any number of choice vintages, and you will be told that the local
Attic wine is not very desirable, although of course it is the
cheapest.  Black wine is the strongest and sweetest; white wine is the
weakest; rich golden is the driest and most wholesome. The rocky isles
and headlands of the Ægean seem to produce the best vintage—Thasos,
Cos, Lesbos, Rhodes, all boast their grapes; but the best wine beyond a
doubt is from Chios.[*]  It will fetch a mina ($18 [1914 or $310.14
2000]) the “metreta,” _i.e._ nearly 50 cents [1914 or $8.62 2000] per
quart.  At the same time you can buy a “metreta” of common Attic wine
for four drachmae (72 cents [1914 or $12.41 2000]), or say two cents
[1914 or 34 cents 2000] per quart.  The latter—when one considers the
dilution—is surely cheap enough for the most humble.

[*] Naturally certain foreign vintages had a demand, just because they
were foreign.  Wine was imported from Egypt and from various parts of
Italy.  It was sometimes mixed with sea water for export, or was made
aromatic with various herbs and berries.  It was ordinarily preserved
in great earthen jars sealed with pitch.

158.  Vegetable Dishes.—Provided with bread, oil, and wine, no Athenian
will long go hungry; but naturally these are not a whole feast.  As
season and purse may afford they will be supplanted by such vegetables
as beans (a staple article), peas, garlic, onions, radishes, turnips,
and asparagus; also with an abundance of fruits,—besides figs (almost a
fourth indispensable at most meals), apples, quinces, peaches, pears,
plums, cherries, blackberries, the various familiar nuts, and of course
a plenty of grapes and olives.  The range of selection is in fact
decidedly wide:  only the twentieth century visitor will miss the
potato, the lemon, and the orange; and when he pries into the mysteries
of the kitchen a great fact at once stares him in the face.  The Greek
must dress his dishes without the aid of sugar.  As a substitute there
is an abundant use of the delicious Hymettus honey,—“fragrant with the
bees,”—but it is by no means so full of possibilities as the white
powder of later days.  Also the Greek cook is usually without fresh
cow’s milk, and most goat’s milk probably takes its way to cheese. No
morning milk carts rattle over the stones of Athens.

159.  Meat and Fish Dishes.—Turning to the meat dishes, we at once
learn that while there is a fair amount of farm poultry, geese, hares,
doves, partridges, etc., on sale in the market, there is extremely
little fresh beef or even mutton, pork, and goat’s flesh. It is quite
expensive, and counted too hearty for refined diners. The average poor
man in fact hardly tastes flesh except after one of the great public
festivals; then after the sacrifice of the “hecatomb” of oxen, there
will probably be a distribution of roast meat to all the worshipers,
and the honest citizen will take home to his wife an uncommon luxury—a
piece of roast beef.  But the place of beef and pork is largely usurped
by most excellent fish. The waters of the Ægean abound with fish.  The
import of salt fish (for the use of the poor) from the Propontis and
Euxine is a great part of Attic commerce.  A large part of the business
at the Agora centers around the fresh fish stalls, and we have seen how
extortionate and insolent were the fishmongers.  Sole, tunny, mackerel,
young shark, mullet, turbot, carp, halibut, are to be had, but the
choicest regular delicacies are the great Copaic eels from Bœotia;
these, “roasted on the coals and wrapped in beet leaves,” are a dish
fit for the Great King.  Lucky is the host who has them for his dinner
party.  Oysters and mussels too are in demand, and there is a
considerable sale of snails, “the poor man’s salad,” even as in
present-day France.

Clearly, then, if one is not captious or gluttonous, there should be no
lack of good eating in Athens, despite the reputation of the city for
abstemiousness.  Let us pry therefore into the symposium of some good
citizen who is dispensing hospitality to-night.

160.  Inviting Guests to a Dinner Party.—

Who loves thee, him summon to thy board; Far off be he who hates.

This familiar sentiment of Hesiod, one Prodicus, a well-to-do
gentleman, had in mind when he went to the Agora this morning to
arrange for a dinner party in honor of his friend Hermogenes, who was
just departing on a diplomatic mission to the satrap of Mysia. While
walking along the Painted Porch and the other colonnades he had no
difficulty in seeing most of the group he intended to invite, and if
they did not turn to greet him, he would halt them by sending his slave
boy to run and twitch at their mantles, after which the invitation was
given verbally.  Prodicus, however, deliberately makes arrangements for
one or two more than those he has bidden. It will be entirely proper
for his guests to bring friends of their own if they wish; and very
likely some intimate whom he has been unable to find will invite
himself without any bidding.

At the Agora Prodicus has had much to do.  His house is a fairly large
and well-furnished one, his slaves numerous and handy, but he has not
the cook or the equipment for a really elaborate symposium. At a
certain quarter on the great square he finds a contractor who will
supply all the extra appointments for a handsome dinner party—tables,
extra lamps, etc.  Then he puts his slave boy to bawling out:

“Who wants an engagement to cook a dinner?”

This promptly brings forward a sleek, well-dressed fellow whose dialect
declares that he is from Sicily, and who asserts he is an expert
professional cook.  Prodicus engages him and has a conference with him
on the profound question of “whether the tunnies or the mullets are
better to-day, or will there be fresh eels?”  This point and similar
minor matters settled, Prodicus makes liberal purchases at the fish and
vegetable stalls, and his slaves bear his trophies homeward.

161. Preparing for the Dinner. The Sicilian Cook.—All that afternoon
the home of Prodicus is in an uproar. The score of slaves show a
frantic energy. The aula is cleaned and scrubbed: the serving girls are
busy hanging festoons of leaves and weaving chaplets. The master’s
wife—who does not dream of actually sharing in the banquet—is
nevertheless as active and helpful as possible; but especially she is
busy trying to keep the peace between the old house servants and the
imported cook. This Sicilian is a notable character. To him cookery is
not a handicraft: it is the triumph, the quintessence of all science
and philosophy. He talks a strange professional jargon, and asserts
that he is himself learned in astronomy—for that teaches the best
seasons, _e.g._ for mackerel and haddock; in geometry,—that he might
know how a boiler or gridiron should be set to the best advantage; in
medicine, that he might prepare the most wholesome dishes. In any case
he is a perfect tyrant around the kitchen, grumbling about the
utensils, cuffing the spit-boy, and ever bidding him bring more
charcoal for the fire and to blow the bellows faster.[*]

[*] The Greeks seem to have cooked over a rather simple open fireplace
with a wood or charcoal fire.  They had an array of cooking utensils,
however, according to all our evidence, elaborate enough to gladden a
very exacting modern _chef_.

By the time evening is at hand Prodicus and his house are in perfect
readiness.  The bustle is ended; and the master stands by the entrance
way, clad in his best and with a fresh myrtle wreath, ready to greet
his guests.  No ladies will be among these.  Had there been any women
invited to the banquet, they would surely be creatures of no very
honest sort; and hardly fit, under any circumstances, to darken the
door of a respectable citizen.  The mistress and her maids are “behind
the scenes.”  There may be a woman among the hired entertainers
provided, but for a refined Athenian lady to appear at an ordinary
symposium is almost unthinkable.[*]

[*] In marriage parties and other strictly family affairs women were
allowed to take part; and we have an amusing fragment of Menander as to
how, on such rare occasions, they monopolized the conversation.

162.  The Coming of the Guests.—As each guest comes, he is seen to be
elegantly dressed, and to wear now, if at no other time, a handsome
pair of sandals.[*]  He has also taken pains to bathe and to perfume
himself.  As soon as each person arrives his sandals are removed in the
vestibule by the slaves and his feet are bathed. No guest comes alone,
however: every one has his own body servant with him, who will look
after his footgear and himation during the dinner, and give a certain
help with the serving.  The house therefore becomes full of people, and
will be the scene of remarkable animation during the next few hours.

[*] Socrates, by way of exception to his custom, put on some fine
sandals when he was invited to a banquet.

Prodicus is not disappointed in expecting some extra visitors.  His
guest of honor, Hermogenes, has brought along two, whom the host greets
with the polite lie:  “Just in time for dinner.  Put off your other
business.  I was looking for you in the Agora and could not find
you.”[*]  Also there thrusts in a half genteel, half rascally fellow,
one Palladas, who spends all his evenings at dinner parties, being
willing to be the common butt and jest of the company (having indeed
something of the ability of a comic actor about him) in return for a
share of the good things on the table. These “Parasites” are regular
characters in Athens, and no symposium is really complete without them,
although often their fooleries cease to be amusing.[+]

[*] It is with such a white fib that the host Agathon salutes
Aristodemus, Socrates’s companion in Plato’s _Symposium_.

[+] Of these “Parasites” or “Flies” (as owing to their migratory habits
they were sometimes called), countless stories were told, whereof the
following is a sample:  there was once a law in Athens that not over
thirty guests were to be admitted to a marriage feast, and an officer
was obliged to count all the guests and exclude the superfluous.  A
“fly” thrust in on one occasion, and the officer said:  “Friend, you
must retire.  I find one more here than the law allows.”  “Dear
fellow,” quoth the “fly,” “you are utterly mistaken, as you will find,
if you kindly count again—only _beginning with me_.”

163.  The Dinner Proper.—The Greeks have not anticipated the Romans in
their custom of making the standard dinner party nine persons on three
couches,—three guests on each.  Prodicus has about a dozen guests, two
on a couch.  They “lie down” more or less side by side upon the
cushioned divans, with their right arms resting on brightly striped
pillows and the left arms free for eating.  The slaves bring basis of
water to wash their hands, and then beside each couch is set a small
table, already garnished with the first course, and after the casting
of a few bits of food upon the family hearth fire,—the conventional
“sacrifice” to the house gods,—the dinner begins.

Despite the elaborate preparations of the Sicilian cook, Prodicus
offers his guests only two courses.  The first consists of the
substantial dishes—the fish, the vegetables, the meat (if there is
any).  Soups are not unknown, and had they been served might have been
eaten with spoons; but Athens like all the world is innocent of forks,
and fingers take their place.  Each guest has a large piece of soft
bread on which he wipes his fingers from time to time and presently
casts it upon the floor.[*]  When this first course is finished, the
tables are all taken out to be reset, water is again poured over the
hands of the guests, and garlands of flowers are passed.  The use of
garlands is universal, and among the guests, old white headed and
bearded Sosthenes will find nothing more undignified in putting himself
beneath a huge wreath of lilies than an elderly gentleman of a later
day will find in donning the “conventional” dress suit.  The
conversation,—which was very scattering at first,—becomes more
animated.  A little wine is now passed about.  Then back come the
tables with the second course—fruits, and various sweetmeats and
confectionary with honey as the staple flavoring.  Before this
disappears a goblet of unmixed wine is passed about, and everybody
takes a sip:  “To the Good Genius,” they say as the cup goes round.

[*] Napkins were not used in Greece before Roman days.

164.  Beginning the Symposium.—Prodicus at length gives a nod to the
chief of his corps of servers.

“Bring in the wine!” he orders.  The slaves promptly whisk out the
tables and replace them with others still smaller, on which they set
all kinds of gracefully shaped beakers and drinking bowls.  More
wreaths are distributed, also little bottles of delicate ointment.
While the guests are praising Prodicus’s nard, the servants have
brought in three huge “mixing bowls” (_craters_) for the wines which
are to furnish the main potation.

So far we have witnessed not a symposium, but merely a dinner; and many
a proper party has broken up when the last of the dessert has
disappeared; but, after all, the drinking bout is the real crown of the
feast.  It is not so much the wine as the things that go with the wine
that are so delightful.  As to what these desirable condiments are,
opinions differ.  Plato (who is by no means too much of a philosopher
to be a real man of the world) says in his _Protagoras_ that mere
conversation is _the_ thing at a symposium. “When the company are real
gentlemen and men of education, you will see no flute girls nor dancing
girls nor harp girls; they will have no nonsense or games, but will be
content with one another’s conversation.”[*]  But this ideal, though
commended, is not always followed in decidedly intellectual circles. 
Zenophon[+] shows us a select party wherein Socrates participated, in
which the host has been fain to hire in a professional Syracusian
entertainer with two assistants, a boy and a girl, who bring their
performance to a climax by a very suggestive dumb-show play of the
story of Bacchus and Ariadne.  Prodicus’s friends, being solid,
somewhat pragmatic men—neither young sports nor philosophers—steer a
middle course. There is a flute girl present, because to have a good
symposium without some music is almost unimaginable; but she is
discreetly kept in the background.

[*] Plato again says (_Politicus_, 277 _b_), “To intelligent persons, a
living being is more truly delineated by language and discourse than by
any painting or work of art.”

[+] In his _Symposium_—which is far less perfect as literature than
Plato’s, but probably corresponds more to the average instance.

165.  The Symposiarch and his Duties.—“Let’s cast for our Symposiarch!”
is Prodicus’s next order, and each guest in turn rattles the dice box. 
Tyche (Lady Fortune) gives the presidency of the feast to Eunapius, a
bright-eyed, middle-aged man with a keen sense of humor, but a correct
sense of good breeding.  He assumes command of the symposium; takes the
ordering of the servants out of Prodicus’s hands, and orders the wine
to be mixed in the craters with proper dilution.  He then rises and
pours out a libation from each bowl “to the Olympian Gods,” “to the
Heroes,” and “to Zeus the Saviour,” and casts a little incense upon the
altar.  The guests all sing a _Pæan_, not a warrior’s charging song
this time, but a short hymn in praise of the Wine-God, some lilting
catch like Alcæus’s

In mighty flagons hither bring
    The deep red blood of many a vine,
That we may largely quaff and sing
    The praises of the God of wine.

166.  Conversation at the Symposium.—After this the symposium will
proceed according to certain general rules which it is Eunaius’s duty
to enforce; but in the main a “program” is something to be avoided. 
Everybody must feel himself acting spontaneously and freely. He must
try to take his part in the conversation and neither speak too seldom
nor too little.  It is not “good form” for two guests to converse
privately among themselves, nor for anybody to dwell on unpleasant or
controversial topics.  Aristophanes has laid down after his way the
proper kind of things to talk about.[*]  “[Such as]‘how Ephudion fought
a fine pancratium with Ascondas though old and gray headed, but showing
great form and muscle.’  This is the talk usual among refined people
[or again] ‘some manly act of your youth; for example, how you chased a
boar or a hare, or won a torch race by some bold device.’  [Then when
fairly settled at the feast] straighten your knees and throw yourself
in a graceful and easy manner upon the couch.  Then make some
observations upon the beauty of the appointments, look up at the
ceiling and praise the tapestry of the room.”

[*] _Wasps_, 1174-1564.

As the wine goes around, tongues loosen more and more.  Everybody
gesticulates in delightful southern gestures, but does not lose his
inherent courtesy.  The anecdotes told are often very egoistic. The
first personal pronoun is used extremely often, and “I” becomes the
hero of a great many exploits.  The Athenian, in short, is an adept at
praising himself with affected modesty, and his companions listen
good-humoredly, and retaliate by praising themselves.

167. Games and Entertainments.—By the time the craters are one third
emptied the general conversation is beginning to be broken up. It is
time for various standard diversions. Eunapius therefore begins by
enjoining on each guest in turn to sing a verse in which a certain
letter must not appear, and in event of failure to pay some ludicrous
forfeit. Thus the bald man is ordered to begin to comb his hair; the
lame man (halt since the Mantinea campaign), to stand up and dance to
the flute player, etc. There are all kinds of guessing of riddles—often
very ingenious as become the possessors of “Attic salt.” Another
diversion is to compare every guest present to some mythical monster, a
process which infallibly ends by getting the “Parasite” likened to
Cerberus, the Hydra, or some such dragon, amid the laughter of all the
rest. At some point in the amusement the company is sure to get to
singing songs:—“Scolia”—drinking songs indeed, but often of a serious
moral or poetic character, whereof the oft-quoted song in praise of
Harmodius and Aristogeiton the tyrant-slayers is a good example.[*] No
“gentleman” will profess to be a public singer, but to have a deep,
well-trained voice, and to be able to take one’s part in the symposium
choruses is highly desirable, and some of the singing at Prodicus’s
banquet is worth hearing.

[*] Given in _Readings in Ancient History_, Vol. I, p. 117, and in many
other volumes.

Before the evening is over various games will be ordered in, especially
the _cottabus_, which is in great vogue.  On the top of a high stand,
something like a candelabrum, is balanced rather delicately a little
saucer of brass.  The players stand at a considerable distance with
cups of wine.  The game is to toss a small quantity of wine into the
balanced saucer so smartly as to make the brass give out a clear
ringing sound, and to tilt upon its side.[+]  Much shouting, merriment,
and a little wagering ensues.  While most of the company prefer the
cottabus, two, who profess to be experts, call for a gaming board and
soon are deep in the “game of towns”—very like to latter-day
“checkers,” played with a board divided into numerous squares.  Each
contestant has thirty colored stones, and the effort is to surround
your opponent’s stones and capture them. Some of the company, however,
regard this as too profound, and after trying their skill at the
cottabus betake themselves to the never failing chances of dice.  Yet
these games are never suffered (in refined dinner parties) to banish
the conversation.  That after all is the center, although it is not
good form to talk over learnedly of statecraft, military tactics, or
philosophy.  If such are discussed, it must be with playful abandon,
and a disclaimer of being serious; and even very grave and gray men
remember Anacreon’s preference for the praise of “the glorious gifts of
the Muses and of Aphrodite” rather than solid discussions of “conquest
and war.”

[+] This was the simplest form of the _cottabus_ game; there were
numerous elaborations, but our accounts of them are by no means clear.

168.  Going Home from the Feast:  Midnight Revellers.—At length the oil
lamps have begun to burn dim.  The tired slaves are yawning. Their
masters, despite Prodicus’s intentions of having a very proper
symposium, have all drunk enough to get unstable and silly. Eunapius
gives the signal.  All rise, and join in the final libation to Hermes. 
“Shoes and himation, boy,” each says to his slave, and with thanks to
their host they all fare homeward.

Such will be the ending to an extremely decorous feast.  With gay young
bloods present, however, it might have degenerated into an orgy; the
flute girl (or several of them) would have contributed over much to the
“freedom”; and when the last deep crater had been emptied, the whole
company would have rushed madly into the street, and gone whirling away
through the darkness,—harps and flutes sounding, boisterous songs
pealing, red torches tossing.  Revellers in this mood would be ready
for anything.  Perhaps they would end in some low tavern at the Peiræus
to sleep off their liquor; perhaps their leader would find some other
Symposium in progress, and after loud knockings, force his way into the
house, even as did the mad Alcibiades, who (once more to recall Plato)
thrust his way into Agathon’s feast, staggering, leaning on a flute
girl, and shouting, “Where’s Agathon!”  Such an inroad would be of
course the signal for more and ever more hard drinking.  The wild
invaders might make themselves completely at home, and dictate all the
proceedings: the end would be even as at Agathon’s banquet, where
everybody but Socrates became completely drunken, and lay prone on the
couches or the floor.  One hopes that the honest Prodicus has no such
climax to his symposium.

…At length the streets grow quiet.  Citizens sober or drunken are now
asleep:  only the vigilant Scythian archers patrol the ways till the
cocks proclaim the first gray of dawn.

Chapter XIX.
Country Life Around Athens

169.  Importance of his Farm to an Athenian.—We have followed the
doings of a typical Athenian during his ordinary activities around the
city, but for the average gentleman an excursion outside the town is
indispensable at least every two or three days, and perhaps every day. 
He must visit his farm; for his wealth and income are probably tied up
there, rather than in any unaristocratic commercial and manufacturing
enterprises.  Homer’s “royal” heroes are not ashamed to be skilful at
following the plow[*]:  and no Athenian feels that he is contaminating
himself by “trade” when he supervises the breeding of sheep or the
raising of onions.  We will therefore follow in the tracks of certain
well-to-do citizens, when we turn toward the Itonian gate sometime
during the morning, while the Agora is still in a busy hum, even if
thus we are curtailing our hypothetical visits to the Peiræus or to the

[*] See Odysseus’s boasts, _Odyssey_, XVIII. 360 et passim.  The
gentility of farming is emphasized by a hundred precepts from Hesiod.

170.  The Country by the Ilissus:  the Greeks and Natural Beauty.—Our
companions are on horseback (a token of tolerable wealth in Athens),
but the beasts amble along not too rapidly for nimble grooms to run
behind, each ready to aid his respective master.  Once outside the gate
the regular road swings down to the south towards Phalerum; we,
however, are in no great haste and desire to see as much as possible. 
The farms we are seeking lie well north of the city, but we can make a
delightful circuit by skirting the city walls with the eastern shadow
of the Acropolis behind us, and going at first northeast, along the
groves and leafy avenues which line the thin stream of the Ilissus,[*]
the second “river” of Athens.

[*] The Ilissus, unlike its sturdier rival, the Cephisus, ran dry
during the summer heats; but there was enough water along its bed to
create a dense vegetation.

Before us through the trees came tantalizing glimpses of the open
country running away towards shaggy gray Hymettus.  Left to itself the
land would be mostly arid and seared brown by the summer sun; but
everywhere the friendly work of man is visible.  One can count the
little green oblong patches, stretching even up the mountain side,
marked with gleaming white farm buildings or sometimes with little
temples and chapels sacred to the rural gods.  Once or twice also we
notice a plot of land which seems one tangled waste of trees and
shrubbery.  This is a sacred “temenos,” an inviolate grove, set apart
to some god; and within the fences of the compound no mortal dare set
foot under pain of direful sacrilege and pollution.

Following a kind of bridle path, however, we are soon amid the groves
of olive and other trees, while the horses plod their slow way beside
the brook. Not a few citizens going or coming from Athens meet us, for
this is really one of the parks and breathing spaces of the closely
built city. The Athenians and Greeks in general live in a land of such
natural beauty that they take this loveliness as a matter of course.
Very seldom do their poets indulge in deliberate descriptions of
“beautiful landscapes”; but none the less the fair things of nature
have penetrated deeply into their souls. The constant allusions in
Homer and the other masters of song to the great storm waves, the deep
shades of the forest, the crystal brooks, the pleasant rest for
wanderers under the shade trees, the plains bright with spring flowers,
the ivy twining above a grave, the lamenting nightingale, the chirping
cicada, tell their own story; men seldom describe at length what is
become warp and woof of their inmost lives. The mere fact that the
Greeks dwell _constantly_ in such a beautiful land, and have learned to
love it so intensely, makes frequent and set descriptions thereto seem

171.  Plato’s Description of the Walk by the Ilissus.—Nevertheless
occasionally this inborn love of the glorious outer world must find its
expression, and it is of these very groves along he Ilissus that we
have one of the few “nature pieces” in Athenian literature. As the
plodding steeds take their way let us recall our Plato—his _Phædrus_,
written probably not many years before this our visit.

Socrates is walking with Phædrus outside the walls, and urges the
latter:  “Let us go to the Ilissus and sit down in some quiet spot.” “I
am fortunate,” answers Phædrus, “in  not having my sandals on, and, as
you never have any, we may go along the brook and cool our feet.  This
is the easiest way, and at midday is anything but unpleasant.”  He adds
that they will go on to the tallest plane tree in the distance, “where
are shade and gentle breezes, and grass whereon we may either sit or
lie….  The little stream is delightfully clear and bright.  I can fancy
there might well be maidens playing near [according to the local myth
of Boreas’s rape of Orithyia].”  And so at last they come to the place,
when Socrates says:  “Yes indeed, a fair and shady resting place it is,
full of summer sounds and scents.  There is the lofty and spreading
plane tree, and the agnus castus, high and clustering in the fullest
blossom and the greatest fragrance, and the stream which flows beneath
the plane tree is deliciously cool to the feet.  Judging by the
ornaments and images [set] about, this must be a spot sacred to
Achelous and the Nymphs; moreover there is a sweet breeze and the
grasshoppers are chirruping; and the greatest charm of all is the grass
like a pillow, gently sloping to the head.”[*]

[*] Jewett, translator; slightly altered.

172.  The Athenian Love of Country Life.—So the two friends had sat
them down to delve in delightful profundities; but following the bridle
path, the little brook and its groves end for us all too soon.  We are
in the open country around Athens, and the fierce rays of Helios beat
strongly on our heads.  We are outside the city, but by no means far
from human life.  Farm succeeds farm, for the land around Athens has a
goodly population to maintain, and there is a round price for
vegetables in the Agora.  Truth to tell, the average Athenian, though
he pretends to love the market, the Pnyx, the Dicasteries, and the
Gymnasia, has a shrewd hankering for the soil, and does not care to
spend more time in Athens then necessary. Aristophanes is full of the
contrasts between “country life” and “city life” and almost always with
the advantage given the former. Says his Strepsiades (in _The Clouds_),
“A country life for me—dirty, untrimmed, lolling around at ease, and
just abounding in bees and sheep and oil cake.”  His Diceæpolis
(_Acharnians_) voices clearly the independence of the farmer:  “How I
long for peace.[*]  I’m disgusted with the city; and yearn for my own
farm which never bawled out [as in the markets] ‘buy my coals’ or ‘buy
my vinegar’ or ‘oil,’ or _knew_ the word ‘buy,’ but just of itself
produced everything.”  And his Trygæus (in _The Peace_) states the case
better yet:  “Ah! how eager I am to get back into the fields, and break
up my little farm with the mattock again…[for I remember] what kind of
a life we had there; and those cakes of dried fruits, and the figs, and
the myrtles, and the sweet new wine, and the violet bed next to the
well, and the olives we so long for!”

[*] _I.e._ the end of the Peloponnesian War, which compelled the
farming population to remove inside the walls.

There is another reason why the Athenians rejoice in the country. The
dusty streets are at best a poor playground for the children, the inner
court of the house is only a respectable prison for the wife.  In the
country the lads can enjoy themselves; the wife and the daughters can
roam about freely with delightful absence of convention.  There will be
no happier day in the year than when the master says, “Let us set out
for the farm.”

173.  Some Features of the Attic Country.—Postponing our examination of
Athenian farmsteads and farming methods until we reach some friendly
estate, various things strike us as we go along the road. One is the
skilful system of irrigation,—the numerous watercourses drawn
especially from the Cephisus, whereby the agriculturists make use of
every possible scrap of moisture for the fields, groves, and vineyards.
 Another is the occasional olive tree we see standing, gnarled and
venerable, but carefully fenced about; or even (not infrequently) we
see fences only with but a dead and utterly worthless stump within.  Do
not speak lightly of these “stumps,” however.  They are none the less
“moriai”—sacred olive trees of Athena, and carefully tended by public
wardens.[*]  Contractors are allowed to take the fruit of the olive
trees under carefully regulated conditions; but no one is allowed to
remove the stumps, much less hew down a living tree.  An offender is
tried for “impiety” before the high court of the Areopagus, and his
fate is pretty surely death, for the country people, at least, regard
their sacred trees with a fanatical devotion which it would take long
to explain to a stranger.

[*] Athenians loved to dwell on the “divine gift” of the olive. Thus
Euripides sang (_Troades_, 799):—

In Salamis, filled with the foaming
    Of billows and murmur of bees,
Old Telamon stayed from his roaming
    Long ago, on a throne of the seas,
Looking out on the hills olive laden,
    Enchanted, where first from the earth
The gray-gleaming fruit of the Maiden
    Athena had birth.

—MURRAY, translator.

The hero Telamon was reputed an uncle of Achilles and one of the early
kings of Salamis.

Also upon the way one is pretty sure to meet a wandering beggar—a
shrewd-eyed, bewhiskered fellow.  He carries, not a barrel organ and
monkey, but a blinking tame crow perched on his shoulder, and at every
farmstead he halts to whine his nasal ditty and ask his dole.

Good people, a handful of barley bestow
On the child of Apollo, the sleek sable crow;
Or a trifle of whet, O kind friends, give;—
Or a wee loaf of bread that the crow may live.

It is counted good luck by the housewife to have a chance to feed a
“holy crow,” and the owner’s pickings are goodly. By the time we have
left the beggar behind us we are at the farm whither our excursion has
been tending.

[Illustration: Itinerant Piper with his Dog]

174.  An Attic Farmstead.—We are to inspect the landed estate of
Hybrias, the son of Xanthippus.  It lies north of Athens on the slopes
of Anchesmus, one of the lesser hills which roll away toward the
marble-crowned summits of Pentelicus.  Part of the farm lands lie on
the level ground watered by the irrigation ditches; part upon the
hillsides, and here the slopes have been terraced in a most skilful
fashion in order to make the most of every possible inch of ground, and
also to prevent any of the precious soil from being washed down by the
torrents of February and March.  The owner is a wealthy man, and has an
extensive establishment; the farm buildings—once whitewashed, but now
for the most part somewhat dirty—wander away over a large area.  There
are wide courts, deep in manure, surrounded by barns; there are sties,
haymows, carefully closed granaries, an olive press, a grain mill, all
kinds of stables and folds, likewise a huge irregularly shaped house
wherein are lodged the numerous slaves and the hired help.  The general
design of this house is the same as of a city house—the rooms opening
upon an inner court, but naturally its dimensions are ampler, with the
ampler land space.

Just now the courtyard is a noisy and animated sight.  The master has
this moment ridden in, upon one of his periodic visits from Athens; the
farm overseer has run out to meet him and report, and half a dozen
long, lean hunting dogs—Darter, Roarer, Tracker, Active, and
more[*]—are dancing and yelping, in the hope that their owner will
order a hare hunt.  The overseer is pouring forth his usual burden of
woe about the inefficient help and the lack of rain, and Hybrias is
complaining of the small spring crop—“Zeus send us something better
this summer!”  While these worthies are adjusting their troubles we may
look around the farm.

[*] For an exhaustive list of names for Greek dogs, see Xenophon’s
curious _Essay on Hunting_, ch. VII, § 5.

175. Plowing, Reaping, and Threshing.—Thrice a year the Athenian farmer
plows, unless he wisely determines to let his field lie fallow for the
nonce; and the summer plowing on Hybrias’s estate is now in progress.
Up and down a wide field the ox team is going.[*] The plow is an
extremely primitive affair—mainly of wood, although over the sharpened
point which forms the plowshare a plate of iron has been fitted. Such a
plow requires very skilful handling to cut a good furrow, and the
driver of the team has no sinecure.

[*] Mules were sometimes used for drawing the plow, but horses, it
would seem, never.

[Illustration: Women pounding Meal]

In a field near by, the hinds are reaping a crop of wheat which was
late in ripening.[*] The workers are bending with semicircular sickles
over their hot task; yet they form a merry, noisy crowd, full of homely
“harvest songs,” nominally in honor of Demeter, the Earth Mother, but
ranging upon every conceivable rustic topic. Some laborers are cutting
the grain, others, walking behind, are binding into sheaves and piling
into clumsy ox wains. Here and there a sheaf is standing, and we are
told that this is left “for luck,” as an offering to the rural Field
Spirit; for your farm hand is full of superstitions. Also amid the
workers a youth is passing with a goodly jar of cheap wine, to which
the harvesters make free to run from time to time for refreshment.

[*] The regular time for reaping the October-sown wheat was May or

Close by the field is the threshing floor.  More laborers—not a few
bustling country lasses among them—are spreading out the sheaves with
wooden forks, a little at a time, in thin layers over this circular
space, which is paved with little cobblestones.  More oxen and a
patient mule are being driven over it—around and around—until every
kernel is trodden out by their hoofs.  Later will come the tossing and
the winnowing; and, when the grain has been thoroughly cleaned, it will
be stored in great earthen jars for the purpose of sale or against the

176.  Grinding at the Mill.—Nearer the farmhouses there rises a dull
grinding noise.  It is the mill preparing the flour for the daily
baking, for seldom—at least in the country—will a Greek grind flour
long in advance of the time of use.  There the round upper millstone is
being revolved upon an iron pivot against its lower mate and turned by
a long wooden handle.  Two nearly naked slave boys are turning this
wearily—far pleasanter they consider the work of the harvesters, and
very likely this task is set them as a punishment.  As the mill
revolves a slave girl pours the grain into a hole in the center of the
upper millstone.  As the hot, slow work goes on, the two toilers chant
together a snatch from an old mill song, and we catch the monotonous

Grind, mill, grind,
For Pittacus did grind—
Who was king over great Mytilene.

It will be a long time before there is enough flour for the day. The
slaves can at least rejoice that they live on a large farm. If Hybrias
owned a smaller estate, they would probably be pounding up the grain
with mortar and pestle—more weary yet.

177.  The Olive Orchards.—We, at least, can leave them to their work,
and escape to the shade of the orchards and the vineyards. Like every
Athenian farmer, Hybrias has an olive orchard.  The olives are sturdy
trees.  They will grow in any tolerable soil and thrive upon the
mountain slopes up to as far as 1800 feet above sea level.  They are
not large trees, and their trunks are often grotesquely gnarled, but
there is always a certain fascination about the wonderful shimmer of
their leaves, which flash from gray to silver-white in a sunny wind. 
Hybrias has wisely planted his olives at wide intervals, and in the
space between the ground has been plowed up for grain.  Olives need
little care.  Their harvest comes late in the autumn, after all the
other crops are out of the way.  They are among the most profitable
products of the farm, and the owner will not mind the poor wheat
harvest “if only the olives do well.”[*]

[*] The great drawback to olive culture was the great length of time
required to mature the trees—sixteen years.  The destruction of the
trees, _e.g._ in war by a ravaging invader, was an infinitely greater
calamity than the burning of the standing grain or even of the
farmhouses.  Probably it was the ruin of their olive trees which the
Athenians mourned most during the ravaging of Attica in the
Peloponnesian War.

[Illustration: Gathering the Olive Harvest]

178.  The Vineyards.—The fig orchard forms another great part of the
farm, but more interesting to strangers are the vineyards. Some of the
grapes are growing over pointed stakes set all along the upland
terraces; a portion of the vineyards, however, is on level ground. 
Here a most picturesque method has been used for training the vines. 
Tall and graceful trees have been set out—elm, maple, oak, poplar.  The
lower limbs of the trees have been cut away and up their trunks and
around their upper branches now swing the vines in magnificent
festoons.  The growing vines have sprung from tree to tree.  The warm
breeze has set the rich clusters—already turning purple or
golden—swaying above our heads.  The air is filled with brightness,
greenery, and fragrance.  The effect of this “vineyard grove” is

179. Cattle, Sheep, and Goats.—There is also room in the orchards for
apples, pears, and quinces, but there is nothing distinctive about
their culture. If we are interested in cattle, however, we can spend a
long time at the barns, or be guided out to the upland pasture where
Hybrias’s flocks and herds are grazing. Horses are a luxury. They are
almost never used in farm work, and for riding and cavalry service it
is best to import a good courser from Thessaly; no attempt, therefore,
is made to breed them here. But despite the small demand for beef and
butter a good many cattle are raised; for oxen are needed for the
plowing and carting, oxhides have a steady sale, and there is a regular
call for beeves for the hecatombs at the great public sacrifices. Sheep
are in greater acceptance. Their wool is of large importance to a land
which knows comparatively little of cotton. They can live on scanty
pasturage where an ox would starve. Still more in favor are goats.
Their coarse hair has a thousand uses. Their flesh and cheese are among
the most staple articles in the Agora. Sure-footed and adventurous,
they scale the side of the most unpromising crags in search of herbage
and can sometimes be seen perching, almost like birds, in what seem
utterly inaccessible eyries. Thanks to them the barren highlands of
Attica are turned to good account,—and between goat raising and bee
culture an income can sometimes be extracted from the very summits of
the mountains. As for the numerous swine, it is enough to say that they
range under Hybrias’s oak forest and fatten on acorns, although their
swineherd, wrapped in a filthy sheepskin, is a far more loutish and
ignoble fellow than the “divine Eumæus” glorified in the _Odyssey_.

[Illustration: Rural Sacrifice to a Wooden Statue of Dionysus]

180.  The Gardens and the Shrine.—Did we wish to linger, we could be
shown the barnyard with its noisy retinue of hens, pheasants, guinea
fowl, and pigeons; and we would be asked to admire the geese, cooped up
and being gorged for fattening, or the stately peacocks preening their
splendors.  We would also hear sage disquisitions from the “oldest
inhabitants” on the merits of fertilizers, especially on the uses of
mixing seaweed with manure, also we would be told of the almost equally
important process of burying a toad in a sealed jar in the midst of a
field to save the corn from the crows and the field mice.  Hybrias
laughs at such superstitions—“but what can you say to the rustics?” 
Hybrias himself will display with more refined pride the gardens used
by his wife and children when they come out from Athens,—a fountain
feeding a delightful rivulet; myrtles, roses, and pomegranate trees
shedding their perfumes, which are mingled with the odors from the beds
of hyacinths, violets, and asphodel.  In the center of the gardens
rises a chaste little shrine with a marble image and an altar, always
covered with flowers or fruit by the mistress and her women.  “To
Artemis,” reads the inscription, and one is sure that the virgin
goddess takes more pleasure in this fragrant temple than in many
loftier fanes.[*]

[*] For the description of a very beautiful and elaborate country
estate, with a temple thereon to Artemis, see Xenophon’s _Anabasis_,
bk. V. 3.

We are glad to add here our wreaths ere turning away from this
wholesome, verdant country seat, and again taking our road to Athens.

Chapter XX.
The Temples and Gods of Athens.

181.  Certain Factors in Athenian Religion.—We have seen the Athenians
in their business and in their pleasure, at their courts, their
assemblies, their military musters, and on their peaceful farms; yet
one great side of Athenian life has been almost ignored—the religious
side.  A “Day in Athens” spent without taking account of the gods of
the city and their temples would be a day spent with almost half-closed

[*] No attempt is made in this discussion to enumerate the various gods
and demigods of the conventional mythology, their regular attributes,
etc.  It is assumed the average history or manual of mythology gives
sufficient information.

It is far easier to learn how the Athenians arrange their houses than
how the average man among them adjusts his attitude toward the gods. 
While any searching examination of the fundamentals of Greek cultus and
religion is here impossible, two or three facts must, nevertheless, be
kept in mind, if we are to understand even the OUTWARD side of this
Greek religion which is everywhere in evidence about us.

First of all we observe that the Greek religion is a religion of purely
natural growth.  No prophet has initiated it, or claimed a new
revelation to supplement the older views.  It has come from primitive
times without a visible break even down to the Athens of Plato.  This
explains at once why so many time-honored stories of the Olympic
deities are very gross, and why the gods seem to give countenance to
moral views which the best public opinion has long since called
scandalous and criminal.  The religion of Athens, in other words, may
justly claim to be judged by its best, not by its worst; by the
morality of Socrates, not of Homer.

Secondly, this religion is not a church, nor a belief, but is part of
the government.  Every Athenian is born into accepting the fact that
Athena Polias is the divine warder of the city, as much as he is born
into accepting the fact that it is his duty to obey the strategi in
battle.  To repudiate the gods of Athens, _e.g._ in favor of those of
Egypt, is as much iniquity as to join forces against the Athenians if
they are at war with Egypt;—the thing is sheer treason, and almost
unthinkable.  For countless generations the Athenians have worshipped
the “Ancestral Gods.”  They are proud of them, familiar with them; the
gods have participated in all the prosperity of the city.  Athena is as
much a part of Attica as gray Hymettus or white-crowned Pentelicus; and
the very fact that comedians, like Aristophanes, make good-natured fun
of the divinities indicates that “they are members of the family.”

Thirdly, notice that this religion is one mainly of outward reverence
and ceremony.  There is no “Athenian church”; nobody has drawn up an
“Attic creed”—“I believe in Athena, the City Warder, and in Demeter,
the Earth Mother, and in Zeus, the King of Heaven, etc.” Give outward
reverence, participate in the great public sacrifices, be careful in
all the minutiæ of private worship, refrain from obvious
blasphemies—you are then a sufficiently pious man.  What you _believe_
is of very little consequence.  Even if you privately believe there are
no gods at all, it harms no one, provided your outward conduct is pious
and moral.

182.  What constitutes “Piety” in Athens.—Of course there have been
some famous prosecutions for “impiety.”  Socrates was the most
conspicuous victim; but Socrates was a notable worshipper of the gods,
and certainly all the charges of his being an “atheist” broke down. 
What he was actually attacked with was “corrupting the youth of
Athens,” _i.e._ giving the young men such warped ideas of their private
and public duties that they ceased to be moral and useful citizens. 
But even Socrates was convicted only with difficulty[*]; a generation
has passed since his death.  Were he on trial at present, a majority of
the jury would probably be with him.

[*] It might be added that if Socrates had adopted a really worldly
wise line of defense, he would probably have been acquitted, or
subjected merely to a mild pecuniary penalty.

The religion of Athens is something very elastic, and really every man
makes his own creed for himself, or—for paganism is almost never
dogmatic—accepts the outward cultus with everybody else, and speculates
at his leisure on the nature of the deity.  The great bulk of the
uneducated are naturally content to accept the old stories and
superstitions with unthinking credulity.  It is enough to know that one
must pray to Zeus for rain, and to Hermes for luck in a slippery
business bargain.  There are a few philosophers who, along with
perfectly correct outward observance, teach privately that the old
Olympian system is a snare and folly.  They pass around the daring word
which Xenophanes uttered as early as the sixth century B.C.:—

One God there is, greatest of gods and mortals,
Not like to man is he in mind or in body.
All of him sees, all of him thinks, and all of him harkens.

This, of course, is obvious pantheism, but it is easy to cover up all
kinds of pale monotheism or pantheism under vague reference to the
omnipotence of “Zeus.”

183.  The Average Athenian’s Idea of the Gods.—The average intelligent
citizen probably has views midway between the stupid rabble and the
daring philosophers.  To him the gods of Greece stand out in full
divinity, honored and worshipped because they are protectors of the
good, avengers of the evil, and guardians of the moral law.  They
punish crime and reward virtue, though the punishment may tarry long. 
They demand a pure heart and a holy mind of all that approach them, and
woe to him who wantonly defies their eternal laws.  This is the
morality taught by the master tragedians, Æschylus and Sophocles, and
accepted by the best public opinion at Athens; for the insidious doubts
cast by Euripides upon the reality of any divine scheme of governance
have never struck home.  The scandalous stories about the domestic
broils on Olympus, in which Homer indulges, only awaken good-natured
banter.  It is no longer proper—as in Homeric days—to pride oneself on
one’s cleverness in perjury and common falsehood.  Athenians do not
have twentieth century notions about the wickedness of lying, but
certain it is the gods do not approve thereof.  In short, most of the
better class of Athenians are genuinely “religious”; nevertheless they
have too many things in this human world to interest them to spend
overmuch time in adjusting their personal concepts of the deity to any
system of theology.

184. Most Greeks without belief in Immortality.—Yet one thing we must
add. This Greek religious morality is built up without any clear belief
in a future life. Never has the average Hellene been able to form a
satisfactory conception of the soul’s existence, save dwelling within a
mortal body and under the glorious light of belovèd Helios. To Homer
the after life in Hades was merely the perpetuation of the shadows of
departed humanity, “strengthless shades” who live on the gloomy plains
of asphodel, feeding upon dear memories, and incapable of keen emotions
or any real mental or physical progress or action. Only a few great
sinners like Tantalus, doomed to eternal torture, or favored beings
like Menelaus, predestined to the “Blessed Isles,” are ordained to any
real immortality. As the centuries advanced, and the possibilities of
this terrestrial world grew ever keener, the hope of any future state
became ever more vague. The fear of a gloomy shadow life in Hades for
the most part disappeared, but that was only to confirm the belief that
death ends all things.

Where’er his course man tends,
Inevitable death impends,
And for the worst and for the best,
Is strewn the same dark couch of rest.[*]

[*] Milman, Translator.

So run the lines of a poet whose name is forgotten, but who spoke well
the thought of his countrymen.

True there has been a contradiction of this gloomy theory.  The “Orphic
Mysteries,” those secret religious rites which have gained such a hold
in many parts of Greece, including Athens, probably hold out an earnest
promise to the “initiates” of a blessed state for them hereafter.  The
doctrine of a real elysium for the good and a realm of torment for the
evil has been expounded by many sages. Pindar, the great bard of
Thebes, has set forth the doctrine in a glowing ode.[*]  Socrates, if
we may trust the report Plato gives of him, has spent his last hours
ere drinking the hemlock, in adducing cogent, philosophic reasons for
the immortality of the soul.  All this is true,—and it is also true
that these ideas have made no impression upon the general Greek
consciousness.  They are accepted half-heartedly by a relatively few
exceptional thinkers.  Men go through life and face death with no real
expectation of future reward or punishment, or of reunion with the dear
departed.  If the gods are angry, you escape them at the grave; if the
gods are friendly, all they can give is wealth, health, honor, a hale
old age, and prosperity for your children.  The instant after death the
righteous man and the robber are equal.  This fundamental deduction
from the Greek religion must usually, therefore, be made—it is a
religion for _this world only_. Let us see what are its usual outward

[*] Quoted in _Readings in Ancient History_, vol. I, pp. 261-262, and
in many works in Greek literature.

185.  The Multitude of Images of the Gods.—Gods are everywhere in
Athens.  You cannot take the briefest walk without being reminded that
the world is full of deities.  There is a “Herm”[*] by the main door of
every house, as well as a row of them across the Agora.  At many of the
street crossings there are little shrines to Hecate; or statues of
Apollo Agyieus, the street guardian; or else a bay tree stands there, a
graceful reminder of this same god, to which it is sacred.  In every
house there is the small altar whereon garlands and fruit offerings are
daily laid to Zeus Herkeios, and another altar to Hestia.  On one or
both of these altars a little food and a little wine are cast at every
meal.  All public meetings or court sessions open with sacrifice; in
short, to attempt any semi-important public or private act without
inviting the friendly attention of the deity is unthinkable.  To a
well-bred Athenian this is second instinct; he considers it as
inevitable as the common courtesies of speech among gentlemen.  Plato
sums up the current opinion well, “All men who have any decency, in the
attempting of matters great or small, always invoke divine aid.”[+]

[*] A stone post about shoulder high, surmounted by a bearded head.
Contrary to modern impression, the average Greek did not conceive of
Hermes as a beautiful youth.  He was a grave, bearded man.  The
youthful aspect came through the manipulation of the Hermes myths by
the master sculptors—_e.g._ Praxiteles.

[+] _Timæus_, p. 27 c.

186.  Greek Superstition.—In many cases, naturally, piety runs off into
crass superstition.  The gods, everybody knows, frequently make known
future events by various signs.  He who can understand these signs will
be able to adjust his life accordingly and enjoy great prosperity. 
Most educated men take a sensible view of “omens,” and do not let them
influence their conduct absurdly. Some, however, act otherwise.  There
is, for instance, Laches, one of the greatest at Prodicus’s feast.  He
lives in a realm of mingled hopes and fears, although he is wealthy and
well-educated.[*] He is all the time worried about dreams, and paying
out money to the sharp and wily “seer” (who counts him his best client)
for “interpretations.”  If a weasel crosses his path he will not walk
onward until somebody else has gone before him, or until he has thrown
three stones across the road.  He is all the time worrying about the
significance of sudden noises, meteors, thunder; especially he is
disturbed when he sees birds flying in groups or towards unlucky
quarters of the heavens.[+]  Laches, however, is not merely
religious—although he is always asking “which god shall I invoke now?”
or “what are the omens for the success of this enterprise?” His own
associates mock him as being superstitious, and say they never trouble
themselves about omens save in real emergencies. Still it is “bad luck”
for any of them to stumble over a threshold, to meet a hare suddenly,
or especially to find a snake (the companion of the dead) hidden in the

[*] See Theophratus’s character, “_The Superstitious Man_.”

[+] The birds of clearest omen were the great birds of prey—hawks,
“Apollo’s swift messengers,” and eagles, “the birds of Zeus.”  It was a
good omen if the birds flew from left to right, a bad omen if in the
reverse direction.

187.  Consulting Omens.—Laches’s friends, however, all regularly
consult the omens when they have any important enterprise on hand—a
voyage, a large business venture, a marriage treaty, etc.  There are
several ways, not expensive; the interpreters are not priests, only
low-born fellows as a rule, whose fees are trifling.  You can find out
about the future by casting meal upon the altar fire and noticing how
it is burned, by watching how chickens pick up consecrated grain,[*] by
observing how the sacrificial smoke curls upward, etc.  The best way,
however, is to examine the entrails of the victim after a sacrifice. 
Here everything depends on the shape, size, etc., of the various
organs, especially of the liver, bladder, spleen, and lungs, and really
expert judgment by an experienced and high-priced seer is desirable. 
The man who is assured by a reliable seer, “the livers are large and in
fine color,” will go on his trading voyage with a confident heart.

[*] A very convenient way,—for it was a good sign if the chickens ate
eagerly and one could always get a fair omen by keeping the fowls
hungry a few hours ere “putting the question”!

188.  The Great Oracles.—Assuredly there is a better way still to read
the future; at least so Greeks of earlier ages have believed. Go to one
of the great oracles, whereof that of Apollo at Delphi is the supreme,
but not the unique, example.  Ask your question in set form from the
attendant priests, not failing to offer an elaborate sacrifice and to
bestow all the “gifts” (golden tripods, mixing bowls, shields, etc.)
your means will allow.  Then (at Delphi) wait silent and awe-stricken
while the lady Pythia, habited as a young girl, takes her seat on a
tripod over a deep cleft in the rock, whence issues an intoxicating
vapor.  She inhales the gas, sways to and fro in an ecstasy, and now,
duly “inspired,” answers in a somewhat wild manner the queries which
the priest will put in behalf of the supplicants.  Her incoherent words
are very hard to understand, but the priest duly “interprets” them,
_i.e._ gives them to the suppliant in the form of hexameter verses. 
Sometimes the meaning of these verses is perfectly clear.  Very often
they are truly “Delphic,” with a most dubious meaning—as in that
oft-quoted instance, when the Pythia told Crœsus if he went to war with
Cyrus, “he would destroy a mighty monarchy,” and lo, he destroyed his

Besides Delphi, there are numerous lesser oracles, each with its
distinctive method of “revelation.”  But there is none, at least of
consequence, within Attica, while a journey to Delphi is a serious and
highly expensive undertaking.  And as a matter of fact Delphi has
partially lost credit in Athens.  In the great Persian War Delphi
unpatriotically “medized”—gave oracles friendly to Xerxes and utterly
discouraging to the patriot cause.  Then after this conviction of false
prophesy, the oracle fell, for most of the time, into the hands of
Sparta, and was obviously very willing to “reveal” things only in the
Lacedæmonian interest.  Hellenes generally and the Spartans in
particular have still much esteem for the utterances of the Pythia, but
Athenians are not now very partial to her.  Soon will come the seizure
of Delphi by the Phœnicians and the still further discrediting of this
once great oracle.

189.  Greek Sacrifices.—The two chief elements of Greek worship,
however, are not consideration of the future, but sacrificial and
prayer.  Sacrifices in their simple form, as we have seen, take place
continually, before every routine act.  They become more formal when
the proposed action is really important, or when the suppliant wishes
to give thanks for some boon, or, at rarer intervals, to desire
purification from some offense.  There is no need of a priest for the
simpler sacrifices.  The father of the family can pour out the
libation, can burn the food upon the altar, can utter the prayer for
all his house; but in the greater sacrifices a priest is desirable, not
as a sacred intermediary betwixt god and man, but as an expert to
advise the worshipper what are the competent rites, and to keep him
from ignorantly angering heaven by unhappy words and actions.[*]

[*] There were almost no hereditary priesthoods in Attica (outside the
Emolpidæ connected with the mystical cult of Eleusis).  Almost anybody
of good character could qualify as a priest with due training, and
there was little of the sacrosanct about the usual priestly office.

Let us witness a sacrifice of this more formal kind, and while doing so
we can tread upon the spot we have seemed in a manner to shun during
our wanderings through Athens, the famous and holy Acropolis.

190.  The Route to the Acropolis.—Phormion, son of Cresphontes, has
been to Arcadia, and won the pentathlon in some athletic contests held
at Mantinea.  Although not equal to a triumph in the “four great
Panhellenic contests,” it was a most notable victory.  Before setting
out he vowed a sheep to Athena the Virgin if he conquered. The goddess
was kind, and Phormion is very grateful.  While the multitudes are
streaming out to the Gymnasia, the young athlete, brawny and handsome,
surrounded by an admiring coterie of friends and kinsmen, sets out for
the Acropolis.

Phormion’s home is in the “Ceramicus,” the so-called “potters’
quarter.”  His walk takes him a little to the west of the Agora, and
close to the elegant temple of Hephæstos,[*] but past this and many
other fanes he hastens.  It was not the fire god which gave him fair
glory at Mantinea.  He goes onward until he is forced to make a detour
to the left, at the craggy, rough hill of Areopagus which rises before
him.  Here, if time did not press, he might have tarried to pay
respectful reverence before a deep fissure cleft in the side of the
rock.  In front of this fissure stands a little altar.  All Phormion’s
company look away as they pass the spot, and they mutter together “Be
propitious, O Eumenides!” (literally, Well-minded Ones).  For like true
Greeks they delight to call foul things with fair and propitious names;
and that awful fissure and altar are sacred to the Erinyes (Furies),
the horrible maidens, the trackers of guilt, the avengers of murder;
and above their cave, on these rude rocks, sits the august court of the
Aeropagus when it meets as a “tribunal of blood” to try cases of

[*] This temple, now called the _Theseum_, is the only well preserved
ancient temple in modern Athens.

Phormion’s party quicken their steps and quit this spot of ill omen. 
Then their sight is gladdened.  The whole glorious Acropolis stands out
before them.

[Illustration: Sketch Map of the Acropolis of Athens]

191.  The Acropolis of Athens.—Almost every Greek city has its own
formidable citadel, its own _acropolis_,—for “citadel” is really all
this word conveys.  Corinth boasts of its “Acro-Corinthus,” Thebes of
its “Cadmeia,”—but _the_ Acropolis is in Athens.  The later world will
care little for any other, and the later world will be right.  The
Athenian stronghold has long ceased to be a fortress, though still it
rises steep and strong.  It is now one vast temple compound, covered
with magnificent buildings.  Whether considered as merely a natural
rock commanding a marvelous view, or as a consecrated museum of
sculpture and architecture, it deserves its immortality.  We raise our
eyes to _the Rock_ as we approach it.

The Acropolis dominates the plain of Athens.  All the city seems to
adjust itself to the base of its holy citadel.  It lifts itself as
tawny limestone rock rising about 190 feet above the adjacent level of
the town.[*]  In form it is an irregular oval with its axis west and
east.  It is about 950 feet long and 450 feet at its greatest breadth. 
On every side but the west the precipice falls away sheer and defiant,
rendering a feeble garrison able to battle with myriads.[+]  To the
westward, however, the gradual slope makes a natural pathway always
possible, and human art has long since shaped this with convenient
steps.  Nestling in against the precipice are various sanctuaries and
caves; _e.g._ on the northwestern side, high up on the slope beneath
the precipice, open the uncanny grottoes of Apollo and of Pan.  On the
southern side, close under the very shadow of the citadel, is the
temple of Asclepius, and, more to the southeast, the great open theater
of Dionysus has been scooped out of the rock, a place fit to contain an
audience of some 15,000.[&]

[*] It is nearly 510 feet above the level of the sea.

[+] Recall the defense which the Acropolis was able to make against
Xerxes’s horde, when the garrison was small and probably ill organized,
and had only a wooden barricade to eke out the natural defenses.

[&] The stone seats of this theater do not seem to have been built till
about 340 B.C.  Up to that time the surface of the ground sloping back
to the Acropolis seems simply to have been smoothed off, and probably
covered with temporary wooden seats on the days of the great dramatic

So much for the bare “bones” of the Acropolis; but now under the
dazzling sunshine how it glitters with indescribable splendor! Before
us as we ascend a whole succession of buildings seem lifting
themselves, not singly, not in hopeless confusion, but grouped
admirably together by a kind of wizardry, so that the harmony is
perfect,—each visible, brilliant column and pinnacle, not merely
flashing its own beauty, but suggesting another greater beauty just

192.  The Use of Color upon Athenian Architecture and Sculptures.—While
we look upward at this group of temples and their wealth of sculptures,
let us state now something we have noticed during all our walks around
Athens, but have hitherto left without comment. Every temple and statue
in Athens is not left in its bare white marble, as later ages will
conceive is demanded by “Greek Architecture” and statuary, but is
decked in brilliant color—“painted,” if you will use an almost
unfriendly word.  The columns and gables and ceilings of the buildings
are all painted.  Blue, red, green, and gold blaze on all the members
and ornaments.  The backgrounds of the pediments, metopes, and frieze
are tinted some uniform color on which the sculptured figures in relief
stand out clearly.  The figures themselves are tinted or painted, at
least on the hair, lips, and eyes.  Flesh-colored warriors are fighting
upon a bright red background.  The armor and horse trappings on the
sculptures are in actual bronze.  The result is an effect indescribably
vivid. Blues and reds predominate:  the flush of light and color from
the still more brilliant heavens above adds to the effect.  Shall we
call it garish?  We have learned to know the taste of Athenians too
well to doubt their judgment in matters of pure beauty.  And they are
right. _Under an Athenian sky_ temples and statues demand a wealth of
color which in a somber clime would seem intolerable. The brilliant
lines of the Acropolis buildings are the just answer of the Athenian to
the brilliancy of Helios.

193. The Chief Buildings on the Acropolis.—And now to ascend the
Acropolis. We leave the discussion of the details of the temples and
the sculpture to the architects and archæologists. The whole plateau of
the Rock is covered with religious buildings, altars, and statues. We
pass through the Propylæa, the worthy rival of the Parthenon behind, a
magnificent portal, with six splendid Doric columns facing us; and as
we go through them, to right and to left open out equally magnificent
columned porticoes.[*] As we emerge from the Propylæa the whole vision
of the sacred plateau bursts upon us simultaneously. We can notice only
the most important of the buildings. At the southwestern point of the
Acropolis on the angle of rock which juts out beyond the Propylæa is
the graceful little temple of the “Wingless Victory,” built in the
Ionic style. The view commanded by its bastion will become famous
throughout the world. Behind this, nearer the southern side, stands the
less important temple of Artemis Braurōnia. Nearer the center and
directly before the entrance rises a colossal brazen
statue—“monstrous,” many might call its twenty-six feet of height, save
that a master among masters has cast the spell of his genius over it.
This is the famous Athena Promachos,[+] wrought by Phidias out of the
spoils of Marathon. The warrior goddess stands in full armor and rests
upon her mighty lance. The gilded lance tip gleams so dazzlingly we may
well believe the tale that sailors use it for a first landmark as they
sail up the coast from Cape Sunium.

[*] That to the north was the larger and contained a kind of picture

[+] Athena Foremost in Battle.

Looking again upon the complex of buildings we single out another on
the northern side:  an irregularly shaped temple, or rather several
temples joined together, the Erechtheum, wherein is the sanctuary of
Athena Polias (the revered “City Warden”), the ancient wooden statue,
grotesque, beloved, most sacred of all the holy images in Athens.  And
here on the southern side of this building is the famous Caryatid
porch; the “Porch of the Maidens,” which will be admired as long as
Athens has a name.  But our eyes refuse to linger long on any of these
things.  Behind the statue of the Promachos, a little to the southern
side of the plateau, stands the Parthenon—the queen jewel upon the
crown of Athens.

194.  The Parthenon.—Let others analyze its sculptures and explain the
technical reasons why Ictinus and Callicrates, the architects, and
Phidias, the sculptor, created here the supreme masterpiece for the
artistic world.  We can state only the superficialities. It is a noble
building by mere size; 228 feet measure its side, 101 feet its front. 
Forty-six majestic Doric columns surround it; they average thirty-four
feet in height, and six feet three inches at the base.  All these
facts, however, do not give the soul of the Parthenon.  Walk around it
slowly, tenderly, lovingly.  Study the elaborate stories told by the
pediments,—on the east front the birth of Athena, on the west the
strife of Athena and Poseidon for the possession of Athens.  Trace down
the innumerable lesser sculptures on the “metopes” under the
cornice,—showing the battles of the Giants, Centaurs, Amazons, and of
the Greeks before Troy; finally follow around, on the whole inner
circuit of the body of the temple, the frieze,[*] showing in bas-relief
the Panathenaic procession, with the beauty, nobility, and youth of
Athens marching in glad festival; comprehend that these sculptures will
never be surpassed in the twenty-four succeeding centuries; that here
are supreme examples for the artists of all time,—and _then_, in the
face of this final creation, we can realize that the Parthenon will
justify its claim to immortality.

[*] This, of course, is on the outside wall of the “cella,” but inside
the surrounding colonnade.

One thing more.  There are hardly any straight lines in the Parthenon.
To the eye, the members and the steps of the substructure may seem
perfectly level; but the measuring rod betrays marvelously subtle
curves.  As nature abhors right angles in her creations of beauty, so
have these Greeks.  Rigidity, unnaturalness, have been banished. The
Parthenon stands, not merely embellished with inimitable sculptures,
but perfectly adjusted to the natural world surrounding.[*]

[*] It was an inability to discover and execute these concealed curves
which give certain of the modern imitations of the Parthenon their
unpleasant impressions of harness and rigidity.

We have seen only the exterior of the Parthenon.  We must wait now ere
visiting the interior, for Phormion is beginning his sacrifice.

195.  A Sacrifice on the Acropolis.—Across the sacred plateau advances
the little party.  As it goes under the Propylæa a couple of idle
temple watchers[*] give its members a friendly nod.  The Acropolis rock
itself seems deserted, save for a few worshippers and a party of
admiring Achæan visitors who are being shown the glories of the
Parthenon.[+]  There seems to be a perfect labyrinth of statues of
gods, heroes, and departed worthies, and almost as many altars, great
and small, placed in every direction.  Phormion leads his friends
onward till they come near to the wide stone platform somewhat in the
rear of the Parthenon.  Here is the “great altar” of Athena, whereon
the “hecatombs” will be sacrificed, even a hundred oxen or more,[&] at
some of the major public festivals; and close beside it stands also a
small and simple altar sacred to Athena Parthenos, Athena the Virgin. 
Suitable attendants have been in readiness since dawn waiting for
worshippers.  One of Phormion’s party leads behind him a bleating white
lamb “without blemish.”[$]  It is a short matter now to bring the
firewood and the other necessaries.  The sacrifice takes place without

[*] The most important function of these watchers seems to have been to
prevent dogs from entering the Acropolis.  Probably they were
inefficient old men favored with sinecure offices.

[+] The Acropolis seems to have become a great “show place” for
visitors to Athens soon after the completion of the famous temples.

[&] We know by an inscription of 169 oxen being needed for a single
Athenian festival.

[$] This was a very proper creature to sacrifice to a great Olympian
deity like Athena.  Goats were not suitable for her, although desirable
for most of the other gods.  It was unlawful to sacrifice swine to
Aphrodite.  When propitiating the gods of the underworld,—Hades,
Persephone, etc.,—a _black_ victim was in order. Poor people could
sacrifice doves, cocks, and other birds.

First a busy “temple sweeper” goes over the ground around the altar
with a broom; then the regular priest, a dignified gray-headed man with
a long ungirt purple chiton, and a heavy olive garland, comes forward
bearing a basin of holy water.  This basin is duly passed to the whole
company as it stands in a ring, and each in turn dips his hand and
sprinkles his face and clothes with the lustral water. Meantime the
attendant has placed another wreath around the head of the lamb.  The
priest raises his hand.

“Let there be silence,” he commands (lest any unlucky word be spoken);
and in a stillness broken only by the auspicious twittering of the
sparrows amid the Parthenon gables, he takes barley corns from a
basket, an sprinkles them on the altar and over the lamb. With his
sacred knife he cuts a lock of hair from the victims head and casts it
on the fire.  Promptly now the helper comes forward to complete the
sacrifice.  Phormion and his friends are a little anxious.  Will the
lamb take fright, hang back, and have to be dragged to its unwilling
death?  The clever attendant has cared for that.  A sweet truss of
dried clover is lying just under the altar.  The lamb starts forward,
bleating joyously.  As it bows its head[*] as if consenting to its fate
the priest stabs it dexterously in the neck with his keen blade.  The
helper claps a bowl under the neck to catch the spurting blood.  A
flute player in readiness, but hitherto silent, suddenly strikes up a
keen blast to drown the dying moans of the animal.  Hardly has the lamb
ceased to struggle before the priest and the helper have begun to cut
it up then and there.  Certain bits of the fat and small pieces from
each limb are laid upon the altar, and promptly consumed.  These are
the goddess’s peculiar portion, and the credulous at least believe that
she, though unseen, is present to eat thereof; certainly the sniff of
the burning meat is grateful to her divine nostrils.  The priest and
the helpers are busy taking off the hide and securing the best
joint—these are their “fees” for professional services. All the rest
will be duly gathered up by Phormion’s body servant and borne home,—for
Phormion will give a fine feast on “sacred mutton” that night.[+]

[*] If a larger animal—an ox—failed to bow its head auspiciously, the
omen could be rectified by suddenly splashing a little water in the

[+] As already suggested (section 159) a sacrifice (public, or, if on a
large scale, private) was about the only occasion on which Athenians
tasted beef, pork, or mutton.

[Illustration: Sacrificing a Pig]

Meantime, while the goddess’s portion burns, Phormion approaches the
altar, bearing a shallow cup of unmixed wine, and flings it upon the

“Be propitious, O Lady,” he cries, “and receive this my drink

[*] The original intention of this libation at the sacrifice was very
clearly to provide the gods with wine to “wash down” their meat.

The sacrifice is now completed.  The priest assures Phormion that the
entrails of the victim foretokened every possible favor in future
athletic contests—and this, and his insinuating smile, win him a silver
drachma to supplement his share of the lamb.  Phormion readjusts the
chaplet upon his own head, and turns towards the Parthenon.  After the
sacrifice will come the prayer.

196.  The Interior of the Parthenon and the Great Image of Athena.—The
whole Acropolis is the home of Athena.  The other gods harbored thereon
are only her inferior guests.  Upon the Acropolis the dread goddess
displays her many aspects.  In the Erechtheum we worship her as Athena
Polias, the ancient guardian of the hearths and homes of the city.  In
the giant Promachus, we see her the leader in war,—the awful queen who
went with her fosterlings to the deadly grappling at Marathon and at
Salamis; in the little temple of “Wingless Victory”[*] we see her as
Athena the Victorious, triumphant over Barbarian and Hellenic foe; but
in the Parthenon we adore in her purest conception—the virgin queen,
now chaste and clam, her battles over, the pure, high incarnations of
all “the beautiful and the good” that may possess spirit and mind,—the
sovran intellect, in short, purged of all carnal, earthy passion.  It
is meet that such a goddess should inhabit such a dwelling as the

[*] The term “Wingless Victory” (_Nikē Apteros_) has reference to a
special type and aspect of Athena, not to the goddess _Nikē_ (Victory)
pure and simple.

[+] There was still another aspect in which Athena was worshipped on
the Acropolis.  She had a sacred place (_temenos_), though without a
temple, sacred to her as _Athena Erganē_—Athena Protectress of the

[Illustration: Athena Parthenos]

Phormion passes under the eastern porch, and does not forget (despite
the purification before the sacrifice) to dip the whisk broom, lying by
the door, in the brazen laver of holy water and again to sprinkle
himself. He passes out of the dazzling sunlight into a chamber that
seems at first to be lost in a vast, impenetrable gloom. He pauses and
gazes upward; above him, as little by little his eyes get their
adjustment, a faint pearly light seems streaming downward. It is coming
through the translucent marble slabs of the roof of the great
temple.[*] Then out of the gloom gleam shapes, objects,—a face. He
catches the glitter of great jewels and of massy gold, as parts of the
rich garments and armor of some vast image. He distinguishes at length
a statue,—the form of a woman, nearly forty feet in height. Her left
wrist rests upon a mighty shield; her right hand holds a winged
“Victory,” itself of nigh human size. Upon her breast is the awful
ægis, the especial breastplate of the high gods. Around the foot of her
shield coils a serpent. Upon her head is a mighty helmet. And all the
time that these things are becoming manifest, evermore clearly one
beholds the majestic face,—sweetness without weakness, intellectuality
without coldness, strength mingled justly with compassion. This is the
Athena Parthenos, the handiwork of Phidias.[+]

[*] This seems to be the most reasonable way to assume that the “cella”
of the Parthenon was lighted, in view of the danger, in case of open
skylights, of damage to the holy image by wind and rain.

[+] Of this statue no doubt there could be said what Dion Chrysostomos
said of the equally famous “Zeus” erected by Phidias at Olympia. “The
man most depressed with woes, forgot his ills whilst gazing on this
statue, so much light and beauty had Phidias infused within it.”
Besides the descriptions in the ancient writers we get a clear idea of
the general type of the Athena Parthenos from recently discovered
statuettes, especially the “Varvakeion” model (40½ inches high). This
last is cold and lifeless as a work of art, but fairly accurate as to

We will not heap up description.  What boots it to tell that the arms
and vesture of this “chryselephantine” statue are of pure gold; that
the flesh portions are of gleaming ivory; that Phidias has wrought the
whole so nobly together that this material, too sumptuous for common
artists, becomes under his assembling the perfect substance for the
manifestation of deity?

…Awestruck by the vision, though often he has seen it, Phormion stands
long in reverent silence.  Then at length, casting a pinch of incense
upon the brazier, constantly smoking before the statue, he utters his
simple prayer.

197.  Greek Prayers.—Greek prayers are usually very pragmatic. “Who,”
asks Cicero, who can speak for both Greeks and Romans in this
particular, “ever thanked the gods that he was a good man?  Men are
thankful for riches, honor, safety….  We beg of the sovran God [only]
what makes us safe, sound, rich and prosperous.”[*] Phormion is simply
a very average, healthy, handsome young Athenian. While he prays he
stretches his hands on high, as is fitting to a deity of Olympus.[+] 
His petition runs much as follows:—

“Athena, Queen of the Ægis, by whatever name thou lovest best,[&] give

[*] Cicero, _De Nat. Deor_, ii. 36.

[+] In praying to a deity of the lower world the hands would be held
down. A Greek almost _never_ knelt, even in prayer. He would have
counted it degrading.

[&] This formula would be put in, lest some favorite epithet of the
divinity be omitted.

“Inasmuch as thou dids’t heed my vow, and grant me fair glory at
Mantinea, bear witness I have been not ungrateful.  I have offered to
thee a white sheep, spotless and undefiled.  And now I have it in my
mind to attempt the pentathlon at the next Isthmia at Corinth. Grant me
victory even in that; and not one sheep but five, all as good as this
to-day, shall smoke upon thine altar.  Grant also unto me, my kinsmen
and all my friends, health, riches and fair renown.”

A pagan prayer surely; and there is a still more pagan epilogue.
Phormion has an enemy, who is not forgotten.

“And oh! gracious, sovran Athena, blast my enemy Xenon, who strove to
trip me foully in the foot race. May his wife be childless or bear him
only monsters; may his whole house perish; may all his wealth take
flight; may his friends forsake him; may war soon cut him off, or may
he die amid impoverished, dishonored old age. If this my sacrifice has
found favor in thy sight, may all these evils come upon him
unceasingly. And so will I adore thee and sacrifice unto thee all my

[*] Often a curse would become a real substitute for a prayer; _e.g._
at Athens, against a rascally and traitorous general, a solemn public
curse would be pronounced at evening by all the priests and priestesses
of the city, each shaking in the air a red cloth in token of the bloody
death to which the offender was devoted.

The curse then is a most proper part of a Greek prayer!  Phormion is
not conscious of blasphemy.  He merely follows invariable custom.

It is useless to expect “Christian sentiments” in the fourth century
B.C., yet perhaps an age should be judged not by its average, but by
its best.  Athenians can utter nobler prayers than those of the type of
Phormion.  Xenophon makes his model young householder Ishomenus pray
nobly “that I may enjoy health and strength of body, the respect of my
fellow citizens, honorable safety in times of war, and wealth honestly

[*] Xenophon, _The Economist_, xi, p. 8.

There is a simple little prayer also which seems to be a favorite with
the farmers.  Its honest directness carries its own message.

“Rain, rain, dear Zeus, upon the fields of the Athenians and the

[*] It was quoted later to us by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who adds,
“In truth, we ought not to pray at all, or we ought to pray in this
simple and noble fashion.”

Higher still ascends the prayer of Socrates, when he begs for “the
good” merely, leaving it to the wise gods to determine what “the good”
for him may be; and in one prayer, which Plato puts in Socrates’s
mouth, almost all the best of Greek ideals and morality seems uttered.
It is spoken not on the Acropolis, but beside the Ilissus at the close
of the delightful walk and chat related in the _Phædrus_.

“Beloved Pan, and all ye other gods who haunt this place, give me the
beauty of the inward soul, and may the outward and the inward man be
joined in perfect harmony.  May I reckon the wise to be wealthy, and
may I have such a quantity of gold as none but the temperate can carry.
 Anything more?—That prayer, I think, is enough for me.”

Phormion and his party are descending to the city to spend the evening
in honest mirth and feasting, but we are fain to linger, watching the
slow course of the shadows as they stretch across the Attic hills. Sea,
sky, plain, mountains, and city are all before us, but we will not
spend words upon them now. Only for the buildings, wrought by Pericles
and his mighty peers, we will speak out our admiration. We will gladly
confirm the words Plutarch shall some day say of them, “Unimpaired by
time, their appearance retains the fragrance of freshness, as though
they had been inspired by an eternally blooming life and a never aging

[*] Plutarch wrote this probably after 100 A.D., when the Parthenon had
stood for about five and half centuries.

Chapter XXI.
The Great Festivals of Athens.

198. The Frequent Festivals at Athens.—Surely our “Day in Athens” has
been spent from morn till night several times over, so much there is to
see and tell. Yet he would be remiss who left the city of Athena before
witnessing at least several of the great public festivals which are the
city’s noble pride. There are a prodigious number of religious
festivals in Athens.[*] They take the place of the later “Christian
Sabbath” and probably create a somewhat equal number of rest days
during the year, although at more irregular intervals. They are far
from being “Scotch Sundays,” however. On them the semi-riotous “joy of
life” which is part of the Greek nature finds its fullest, ofttimes its
wildest, expression. They are days of merriment, athletic sports, great
civic spectacles, chorals, public dances.[+] To complete our picture of
Athens we must tarry for a swift cursory glance upon at least three of
these fête days of the city of Pericles, Sophocles, and Phidias.

[*] In Gulick (_Life of the Ancient Greeks_, pp. 304-310) there is a
valuable list of Attic festivals.  The Athenians had over thirty
important religious festivals, several of them, _e.g._, the
Thesmorphoria (celebrated by the women in honor of Demeter), extending
over a number of days.

[+] It is needless to point out that to the Greeks, as to many other
ancient peoples,—for example, the Hebrews,—_dancing_ often had a
religious significance and might be a regular part of the worship of
the gods.

199.  The Eleusinia.—Our first festival is the Eleusinia, the festival
of the Eleusinian mysteries.  It is September, the “19th of
Boēdromiōn,” the Athenians will say.  Four days have been spent by the
“initiates” and the “candidates” in symbolic sacrifices and
purifications.[*]  On one of these days the arch priest, the
“Hierophant,” has preached a manner of sermon at the Painted Porch in
the Agora setting forth the awfulness and spiritual efficacy of these
Mysteries, sacred to Demeter the Earth Mother, to her daughter
Persephone, and also to the young Iacchus, one of the many incarnations
of Dionysus, and who is always associated at Elusis with the divine
“Mother and Daughter.”  The great cry has gone forth to the
Initiates—“To the Sea, ye Mystæ!” and the whole vast multitude has gone
down to bathe in the purifying brine.

[*] Not all Athenians were among the “initiated,” but it does not seem
to have been hard to be admitted to the oaths and examination which
gave one participation in the mysteries.  About all a candidate had to
prove was blameless character.  Women could be initiated as well as

Now on this fifth day comes the sacred procession from Athens across
the mountain pass to Eleusis.  The participates, by thousands, of both
sexes and of all ages, are drawn up in the Agora ere starting. The
Hierophant, the “Torchbearer,” the “Sacred Herald,” and the other
priests wear long flowing raiment and high mitres like Orientals. They
also, as well as the company, wear myrtle and ivy chaplets and bear
ears of corn and reapers’ sickles.  The holy image of Iacchus is borne
in a car, the high priests marching beside it; and forth with pealing
shout and chant they go,—down the Ceramicus, through the Dipylon gate,
and over the hill to Eleusis, twelve miles away.

200.  The Holy Procession to Eleusis.—Very sacred is the procession,
but not silent and reverential.  It is an hour when the untamed animal
spirits of the Greeks, who after all are a young race and who are
gripped fast by natural instinct, seem uncurbed.  Loud rings the
“orgiastic” cry, “_Iacchë! Iacchë! evoë!_”

There are wild shouts, dances, jests, songs,[*] postures.  As the
marchers pass the several sanctuaries along the road there are halts
for symbolic sacrifices.  So the multitude slowly mounts the long
heights of Mount Ægaleos, until—close to the temple of Aphrodite near
the summit of the pass—the view opens of the broad blue bay of Eleusis,
shut in by the isle of Salamis, while to the northward are seen the
green Thrasian plain, with the white houses of Eleusis town[+] near the
center, and the long line of outer hills stretching away to Megara and

[*] We do not possess the official chant of the Mystæ used on their
march to Eleusia.  Very possibly it was of a swift riotous nature like
the Bacchinals’ song in Euripides’s _Bacchinals_ (well translated by
Way or by Murray).

[+] This was about the only considerable town in Attica outside of

The evening shadows are falling, while the peaceful army sweeps over
the mountain wall and into Eleusis.  Every marcher produces a torch,
and bears it blazing aloft as he nears his destination. Seen in the
dark from Eleusis, the long procession of innumerable torches must
convey an effect most magical.

201.  The Mysteries of Eleusis.—What follows at Eleusis?  The
“mysteries” are “mysteries” still; we cannot claim initiation and
reveal them.  There seem to be manifold sacrifices of a symbolic
significance, the tasting of sacred “portions” of food and drink—a dim
foreshadowing of the Christian sacrament of the Eucharist; especially
in the great hall of the Temple of the Mystæ in Eleusis there take
place a manner of symbolic spectacles, dramas perhaps one may call
them, revealing the origins of Iacchus, the mystical union of
Persephone and Zeus, and the final joy of Demeter.

This certainly we can say of these ceremonies.  They seem to have
afforded to spiritually minded men a sense of remission of personal sin
which the regular religion could never give; they seem also to have
conveyed a fair hope of immortality, such as most Greeks doubted. 
Sophocles tells thus the story:  “Thrice blessed are they who behold
these mystical rites, ere passing to Hades’ realm.  They alone have
life there.  For the rest all things below are evil.”[*] And in face of
imminent death, perhaps in hours of shipwreck, men are wont to ask one
another, “Have you been initiated at Eleusis?”

[*] Sophocles, _Frag._ 719.

202. The Greater Dionysia and the Drama.—Again we are in Athens in the
springtime: “The eleventh of Elapheboliön” [March]. It is the third day
of the Greater Dionysia. The city has been in high festival; all the
booths in the Agora hum with redoubled life; strangers have flocked in
from outlying parts of Hellas to trade, admire, and recreate; under
pretext of honoring the wine god, inordinate quantities of wine are
drunk with less than the prudent mixture of water. There is boisterous
frolicking, singing, and jesting everywhere. It is early blossom time.
All whom you meet wear huge flower crowns, and pelt you with the
fragrant petals of spring.[*]

[*] Pindar (_Frag._ 75) says thus of the joy and beauty of this fête:
“[Lo!] this festival is due when the chamber of the red-robed Hours is
opened and odorous plants wake to the fragrant spring.  then we scatter
on undying earth the violet, like lovely tresses, and twine roses in
our hair; then sound the voice of song, the flute keeps time, and
dancing choirs resound the praise of Semele.”

So for two days the city has made merry, and now on the third, very
early, “to the theater” is the word on every lip.  Magistrates in their
purple robes of office, ambassadors from foreign states, the priests
and religious dignitaries, are all going to the front seats of honor. 
Ladies of gentle family, carefully veiled but eager and fluttering, are
going with their maids, if the productions of the day are to be
tragedies not comedies.[*]  All the citizens are going, rich and poor,
for here again we meet “Athenian democracy”; and the judgment and
interest of the tatter-clad fishermen seeking the general “two-obol”
seats may be almost as correct and keen as that of the lordly Alcmænoid
in his gala himation.

[*] It seems probable (on our uncertain information) that Athenian
ladies attended the moral and proper tragedies.  It was impossible for
them to attend the often very coarse comedies.  Possibly at the
tragedies they sat in a special and decently secluded part of the

203. The Theater of Dionysus.—Early dawn it is when the crowds pour
through the barriers around the Theater of Dionysus upon the southern
slope of the Acropolis. They sit (full 15,000 or more) wedged close
together upon rough wooden benches set upon the hill slopes.[*] At the
foot of their wide semicircle is a circular space of ground, beaten
hard, and ringed by a low stone barrier. It is some ninety feet in
diameter. This is the _orchestra_, the “dancing place,” wherein the
chorus may disport itself and execute its elaborate figures. Behind the
orchestra stretches a kind of tent or booth, the _skenë_. Within this
the actors may retire to change their costumes, and the side nearest to
the audience is provided with a very simple scene,—some kind of
elementary scenery painted to represent the front of a temple or
palace, or the rocks, or the open country. This is nearly the entire
setting.[+] If there are any slight changes of this screen, they must
be made in the sight of the entire audience. The Athenian theater has
the blue dome of heaven above it, the red Acropolis rock behind it.
Beyond the “skenë” one can look far away to the country and the hills.
The keen Attic imagination will take the place of the thousand arts of
the later stage-setter. Sophocles and his rivals, even as Shakespeare
in Elizabeth’s England, can sound the very depths and scale the
loftiest heights of human passion, with only a simulacrum of the
scenery, properties, and mechanical artifices which will trick out a
very mean twentieth century theater.

[*] These benches (before the stone theater was built in 340 B.C.) may
be imagined as set up much like the “bleachers” at a modern baseball
park.  We know that ancient audiences wedged in very close.

[+] I think it is fairly certain that the classical Attic theater was
without any stage, and that the actors appeared on the same level as
the chorus.  As to the extreme simplicity of all the scenery and
properties there is not the least doubt.

[Illustration: Comic Actors dressed as Ostriches]

204.  The production of a Play.—The crowds are hushed and expectant.
The herald, ere the play begins, proclaims the award of a golden crown
to some civic benefactor:  a moment of ineffable joy to the recipient;
for when is a true Greek happier than when held up for public
glorification?  Then comes the summons to the first competing poet.

“Lead on your chorus.”[*]  The intellectual feast of the Dionysia has

[*] In the fourth century B.C. when the creation of original tragedies
was in decline, a considerable part of the Dionysia productions seem to
have been devoted to the works of the earlier masters, Æschylus,
Sophocles, and Euripides.

To analyze the Attic drama is the task of the philosopher and the
literary expert.  We observe only the superficialities.  There are
never more than _three_ speaking actors before the audience at once.
They wear huge masques, shaped to fit their parts.  The wide
mouthpieces make the trained elocution carry to the most remote parts
of the theater.  The actors wear long trailing robes and are mounted on
high shoes to give them sufficient stature before the distant audience.
 When a new part is needed in the play, an actor retires to the booth,
and soon comes forth with a changed masque and costume—an entirely new
character.  In such a costume and masque, play of feature and easy
gesture is impossible; but the actors carry themselves with a stately
dignity and recite their often ponderous lines with a grace which
redeems them from all bombast. An essential part of the play is the
chorus; indeed the chorus was once the main feature of the drama, the
actors insignificant innovations.  With fifteen members for the
tragedy, twenty-four for the comedy,[*] old men of Thebes, Trojan
dames, Athenian charcoal burners, as the case may demand—they
sympathize with the hard-pressed hero, sing lusty choral odes, and
occupy the time with song and dance while the actors are changing

[*] In the “Middle” and “Later” comedy, so called, the chorus entirely
disappears. The actors do everything.

[Illustration: Actor in Costume as a Fury]

The audience follows all the philosophic reasoning of the tragedies,
the often subtle wit of the comedies, with that same shrewd alertness
displayed at the jury courts of the Pnyx. “_Authis! Authis!_” (again!
again!) is the frequent shout, if approving. Date stones and pebbles as
well as hootings are the reward of silly lines or bad acting. At noon
there is an interlude to snatch a hasty luncheon (perhaps without
leaving one’s seat). Only when the evening shadows are falling does the
chorus of the last play approach the altar in the center of the
orchestra for the final sacrifice. A whole round of tragedies have been
given.[*] The five public judges announce their decision: an ivy wreath
to the victorious poet; to his _choregus_ (the rich man who has
provided his chorus and who shares his glory) the right to set up a
monument in honor of the victory. Home goes the multitude,—to quarrel
over the result, to praise or blame the acting, to analyze the
remarkable acuteness the poet’s handling of religious, ethical, or
social questions.

[*] Comedies, although given at this Dionysia, were more especially
favored at the Lenæa, an earlier winter festival.

The theater, like the dicasteries and the Pnyx, is one of the great
public schools of Athens.

205. The Great Panathenaic Procession.—Then for the last time let us
visit Athens, at the fête which in its major form comes only once in
four years. It is the 28th of Metageitniön (August), and the eighth day
of the Greater Panathenæa, the most notable of all Athenian festivals.
By it is celebrated the union of all Attica by Theseus, as one happy
united country under the benign sway of mighty Athena,—an ever
fortunate union, which saved the land from the sorrowful feuds of
hostile hamlets such as have plagued so many Hellenic countries. On the
earlier days of the feast there have been musical contests and
gymnastic games much after the manner of the Olympic games, although
the contestants have been drawn from Attica only. There has been a
public recital of Homer. Before a great audience probably at the Pnyx
or the Theater a rhapsodist of noble presence—clad in purple and with a
golden crown—has made the Trojan War live again, as with his
well-trained voice he held the multitude spellbound by the music of the
stately hexameters.

Now we are at the eighth day. All Athens will march in its glory to the
Acropolis, to bear to the shrine of Athena the sacred “peplos”—a robe
specially woven by the noble women of Athens to adorn the image of the
guardian goddess.[*] The houses have opened; the wives, maids, and
mothers of gentle family have come forth to march in the procession,
all elegantly wreathed and clad in their best, bearing the sacred
vessels and other proper offerings. The daughters of the “metics,” the
resident foreigners, go as attendants of honor with them. The young men
and the old, the priests, the civil magistrates, the generals, all have
their places. Proudest of all are the wealthy and high-born youths of
the cavalry, who now dash to and fro in their clattering pride. The
procession is formed in the outer Ceramicus. Amid cheers, chants,
chorals, and incense smoke it sweeps through the Agora, and slowly
mounts the Acropolis. Center of all the marchers is the glittering
peplos, raised like a sail upon a wheeled barge of state—“the ship of
Athena.” Upon the Acropolis, while the old peplos is piously withdrawn
from the image and the new one substituted, there is a prodigious
sacrifice. A mighty flame roars heavenward from the “great altar”;
while enough bullocks[+] and kine[&] have been slaughtered to enable
every citizen—however poor—to bear away a goodly mess of roasted meat
that night.

[*] Note that this robe was for the revered ancient and wooden image of
Athena Polias, not for the far less venerable statue of Athena

206.  The View from the Temple of Wingless Victory.—We will not wait
for the feasting but rather will take our way to the Temple of Wingless
Victory, looking forth to the west of the Acropolis Rock.  So many
things we see which we would fain print on the memory. Behind us we
have just left the glittering Parthenon, and the less august but hardly
less beautiful Erechtheum, with its “Porch of the Maidens.”  To our
right is the wide expanse of the roofs of the city and beyond the dark
olive groves of Colonus, and the slopes of Ægaleos.  In the near
foreground, are the red crags of Areopagus and the gray hill of the
Pnyx.  But the eye will wander farther. It is led away across the
plainland to the bay of Phaleron, the castellated hill of Munychia, the
thin stretch of blue water and the brown island seen across it—Salamis
and its strait of the victory.  Across the sparkling vista of the sea
rise the headlands of Ægina and of lesser isles; farther yet rise the
lordly peaks of Argolis.  Or we can look to the southward.  Our gaze
rounds down the mountainous Attic coast full thirty miles to where
Sunium thrusts out its haughty cape into the Ægean and points the way
across the island-studded sea.

Evening is creeping on.  Behind us sounds the great pæan, the solemn
chant to Athena, bestower of good to men.  As the sun goes down over
the distant Argolic hills his rays spread a clear pathway of gold
across the waters.  Islands, seas, mountains far and near, are touched
now with shifting hues,—saffron, violet, and rose,—beryl, topaz,
sapphire, amethyst.  There will never be another landscape like unto
this in all the world.  Gladly we sum up our thoughts in the cry of a
son of Athens, Aristophanes, master of song, who loved her with that
love which the land of Athena can ever inspire in all its children,
whether its own by adoption or by birth:—

“_Oh, thou, our Athens!  Violet-crowned, brilliant, most enviable of

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Day in Old Athens; a Picture of Athenian Life" ***

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