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I dedicate the following work to you, my dear Son, as a token of my gratitude for the cheerful patience with which you have aided me in completing it, despite the calamity that overtook me in the midst of my labours. Whatever may be the fate of the publication it will always recall to me some of the happiest hours of my life, rendered so chiefly by beholding the contented serenity with which you subdued the irksomeness of studies so little suited to your years. At length, however, you are delivered from lexicographers and scholiasts. The final page has been written, the last proof read. I escape from a task commenced before you were born, and you from a four years’ apprenticeship to the craft and mystery of authorship. All that now remains is to watch the reception which the fruit of our toil may meet with in the world. It has been produced and has grown up under very peculiar circumstances. Whithersoever we have travelled, the wrecks of Grecian literature vihave accompanied us, and the studies to which these pages owe their existence have been pursued under the influence of almost every climate in Europe. Nay, if I pushed my researches still further and visited the portion of Africa commonly supposed to have been the cradle of Hellenic civilisation, it was solely in the hope of qualifying myself to speak with some degree of confidence on the subject of those arts which represent to the Modern World so much of the grandeur and genius of Greece. Here, probably, the action of pestilential winds, and of the sands and burning glare of the desert commenced that dimming of the “visual ray,” which, in all likelihood, will wrap me gradually in complete darkness, and veil for ever from my sight those forms of the beautiful which have been incarnated, if I may so speak, in marble. This is a language which neither you nor your sister can read to me. All that sweet Olympian brood which used to smile upon me with kindly recognition when I was a solitary wayfarer in lands not my own, will, as far as I am concerned, be annihilated. Those twelve mystical transformations of Aphroditè into stone, which may be beheld all together at Naples, and appeared to me more lovely than its vaunted bay, or even the sky that hangs enamoured over it, will, I conjecture, be seen of me no more, or seen obscurely as through a mist. Homer, however, and Æschylus, with Plato and Thucydides and Demosthenes, will be able still through the voices of my children—voices more cheerful and willing than ministered to the old viiage and blindness of Milton—to project their beauty into my soul. I will not, therefore, repine; but, imitating the example of wiser and better men, submit unmurmuringly to the will of God. Had things been otherwise ordered, I might have continued these researches. As it is, I take leave of them here. Our friend, Mr. Keightley, who has visited Italy for the purpose, will perform for the Romans what I have endeavoured to accomplish for the Greeks; and his extensive and varied learning, the excellence of his method, and the pleasing vivacity of his style, will, probably, ensure for his work a still greater degree of popularity even than that which his very successful productions already enjoy.

Believe me, my dear son,
Ever affectionately yours,
J. A. St. JOHN.
October 13th, 1842.


Many moral phenomena appear to baffle the sagacity of statesmen, because, confiding too implicitly in experience, they omit to widen the range of their contemplation so as to embrace the whole circle of the people’s existence whose fortunes and character they desire to comprehend. To be successful in such an inquiry it is requisite to lay open, as far as possible, the influence on that people of climate and geographical position, to break through the husk and shell of customs, manners, laws, religions, that we may come to the kernel of its moral nature, to that inner organization, intellectual and physical, of which the external circumstances of its civil and political life are but so many fluctuating symbols.

To accomplish this, however, even in the case of a contemporary nation, among whom we may behold in full activity all the material movements of society, is no easy task. But the difficulty must be very much augmented, when, in addition to the obstacles which necessarily under the most favourable circumstances beset every avenue to a people’s inner life, those are added arising out of the distance on the track of time at which the nation xwe are considering happens to stand, the scantiness and contradictory nature of the reports that reach us, and more, perhaps, than all, the atmosphere of prejudice through which we are apt to view whatever in any degree differs from our own manners and institutions. But this consideration, though it should bespeak indulgence for the unavoidable errors even of the most diligent investigator, can certainly be no reason for abstaining from all further investigation. For, notwithstanding the disadvantages under which we labour, it is still possible to extract from the fragments remaining of ancient literature materials for reconstructing something more than the skeleton of antiquity. We can invest the bones with sinews and muscles, clothe them with flesh and skin, spread over the whole colours that shall resemble life; and if we cannot steal from heaven celestial fire to kindle this image of surpassing beauty, that, at least, is the only thing which exceeds our power.

In saying this, I merely state my opinion of what is possible, not by any means what I conceive myself to have effected in the present work. I am but too sensible of how far the execution falls short of “the ample proposition that hope made,” when, many years ago, the idea suggested itself to me at that ardent and flattering season of life in which we are apt to imagine all things within our reach. But as

Every action that hath gone before
Whereof we have record, trial did draw
Bias, and thwart; not answering the aim
xiAnd that unbodied figure of the thought
That gave ’t surmised shape;

so, no doubt, in my own case, the realisation will be found to be a very imperfect embodying of the ideal plan.

Few subjects, however, abound more in interest or instruction than the one I have here ventured to treat. The inquiry turns upon the institutions and moral condition of a people to whose fortunes history affords no parallel; of a people that, like the cloud no bigger than a man’s hand, which the servant of the prophet saw from the top of Carmel, contained within itself the seeds of mightiest and most momentous events. The Hellenes can never, in fact, by any but the uninformed be regarded in the same light as ordinary political communities. Their power, vast and astonishing for the age in which they flourished, arose entirely out of their national character and the spirit of their institutions. It was the power of intellect. They were in reality the sun and soul of the ancient world, and darted far into the darkness around them those vivifying rays which, reflected from land to land, have since lighted up the world.

Athens, the wisest and noblest of Grecian states,

Mother of arts
And eloquence,

was the great preceptress of mankind. The spirit of her laws, transmitted through those of Rome, still pervades the whole civilized world. Her wisdom and her arts form, in all polished communities, xiia principal object of study; and to comprehend and to enjoy them is to be a gentleman. Sallust, therefore, notwithstanding his genius and sagacity, took but a commonplace view of national greatness, when he considered that of Athens to be chiefly based on the splendour shed around her achievements by historians. Her triumphs, it is true, were not effected by vast military masses, such as those which many barbarous nations in different ages have put in motion for the purpose of spoil or conquest. Athens built her glory on other foundations. She could not, indeed, lead countless armies into the field, but she knew how, with a little band, to defeat those who could. In the days of her freedom no human force could subdue her. To effect this, every man within the borders of Attica must have been exterminated; for so long as an Athenian was left, the indomitable spirit of democracy would have survived in him and sufficed to kindle up fresh contests.

But the energies of Athens, how great soever, did not, like those of most other states, develope themselves chiefly in war. It is the characteristic of barbarians to destroy, but to create nothing. The delight and glory of the people of Athens consisted, on the contrary, in the exercise of creative power, in calling into existence new arts, founding colonies, widening the circle of civilisation, covering the earth with beautiful structures, sacred and civil; in producing pictures, statues, vases, and sculptured gems, of conception and delicacy of workmanship inimitable. Wherever the xiiiAthenian set his foot, the very earth appeared to grow more lovely beneath it. His genius beautified whatever it touched. His imagination vivified everything. He spread a rich mythological colouring over land and sea. Gods, at his bidding, entered the antique oak, sported in the waters of brook and fountain, scattered themselves in joyous groups over the uplands and through the umbrageous valleys, and their voices and odoriferous breath mingled with every breeze that blew.

In the distant colonies whither he betook himself, when poverty had relaxed the chain that bound him indissolubly to the Attic soil, a few years saw a new diminutive Athens springing up. The Pnyx, the Odeion, the Theatre of Bacchos, the Prytaneion, the Virgin’s Fane, rose on a diminished scale around him, presenting an image, though faint, of his earlier home, the loveliest, undoubtedly, and, after Jerusalem, the most hallowed spot ever inhabited by man. Above all things, he was everywhere careful to enjoy the blessings of his ancestral institutions, and listened, as in the mother city, to those popular thunders which, thrice in every month, rolled from the bema over the assembled crowd, communicating pleasurable emotions to his mind, and rousing continually the passion for freedom.

It were needless to dwell at any considerable length on the naval and military achievements of the Athenians. The world is still full of the victories of Marathon, Salamis, and Platæa, and the soil, drenched in defence of liberty with Attic xivblood, is to this day sacred in the eyes of the most phlegmatic. I appeal in proof of this to every man’s daily experience: for does not the bare mention of any spot where the great Demos triumphed or suffered some national calamity, make the blood bound more rapidly and tingle in our veins? Even the grovelling and worldly-minded, who affect to consider nothing holy but Mammon, can have fire struck out of their cold natures by the spell of those glorious syllables; for virtue, and valour, and that religious link which binds the soul to the spot where a mother’s dust reposes, are found, and will ever be found, to kindle warm admiration in every heart. And never since society began did these great qualities develope themselves more visibly than among the people of Athens. For this reason, who can visit Syracuse, or the shores of the Hellespont, or the site of Memphis’s White Castle, without experiencing as he gazes on the scene an electrical thrill of mental anguish at the recollection of what Athenian citizens more than two thousand years ago suffered there? Even Thermopylæ, glorious as it is, scarcely stirs our nature so deeply as Marathon; for the coarser and more material genius and institutions of Sparta, the nurse of those heroes who fell at the Gates of Hellas inspire less of that fervent admiration which the great actions and great men of Athens awaken in every cultivated mind.

Of the political institutions which throughout Hellas influenced so powerfully the developement of the national character, it is not my design in the xvpresent volumes to speak. I confine myself entirely to the other causes which rendered the ancient Greeks what they were; reserving the examination of their forms of government for a separate treatise. The subject here discussed possesses sufficient interest of itself. It has been my aim to open up as far as possible a prospect into the domestic economy of a Grecian family, the arts, comforts, conveniences, regulations affecting the condition of private life, and those customs and manners which communicated a peculiar character and colour to the daily intercourse of Greek citizens. For, in all my investigations about the nature and causes of those ancient institutions which, during so many ages constituted the glory and the happiness of the most highly gifted race known to history, I found my attention constantly directed to the circumstances of their private life, from which, as from a great fountain, all their public prosperity and grandeur seemed to spring.

Indeed, the great sources of a nation’s happiness and power must always lie about the domestic hearth. There or nowhere are sown, and for many years cherished by culture, all those virtues which bloom afterwards in public, and form the best ornaments of the commonwealth. Men are everywhere exactly what their mothers make them. If these are slaves, narrow-minded, ignorant, unhappy, those in their turn will be so also. The domestic example, small and obscure though it be, will impress its image on the state; since that which individually is base and little, can never by congregating xviwith neighbouring littleness, become great, or lead to those heroic efforts, those noble self-sacrifices, which elevate human nature to a sphere in which it appears to touch upon and partake something of the divine.

By minutely studying, as far as practicable, those small obscure sanctuaries of Greek civilisation—the private dwellings of Attica--I hoped to discover the secret of that moral alchemy by which were formed

Those dead, but sceptred sovereigns who still rule
Our spirits from their urns.

In these haunts, little familiar to our imagination, lay concealed the germs of law, good government, philosophy, the arts, and whatever else has tended to soften and render beautiful the human clay. That this was the case is certain; why it should have been so, we may perhaps be unable satisfactorily to explain; but that is what we shall at least attempt in the present work, and for this purpose, it will at the first glance be apparent, that the most elaborate delineation of the political institutions of Athens must prove altogether insufficient. These were but one among many powerful causes. The principal lay deeper in a combination of numerous circumstances:—a peculiarly perfect and beautiful physical organization; a mind fraught with enthusiasm, force, flexibility, and unrivalled quickness; a buoyancy of temper which no calamity could long depress; consequent, probably, upon this, a strong religious feeling ineradicably xviiseated in the heart; an unerring perception of the beautiful in art and nature; and lastly, the enjoyment of a genial climate, and an atmosphere pure, brilliant, and full of sunshine as their minds.

Races of men, though not in precisely the same manner as individuals, yet exhibit, at particular periods of their history, a freshness, a vigour, a disinterestedness, like that of youth; and, because this state of feeling may more than once occur in the course of their career, they seem to spring, like Æson, out of convulsions and apparent dissolution to a state of perfect rejuvenescence. Calamity and suffering purify whole communities as they do individuals. In the boiling and commotion of revolutions the impurities of the national character bubble upwards and are skimmed away by the iron hand of misfortune. These political convulsions are, in fact, so many efforts of nature to expel some disease lurking in the constitution, and which, though the race be immortal, might, if suffered to remain in the frame, produce a lethargy worse than death. This truth we should bear constantly in mind; for among the characteristics of the Athenian constitution, not the least remarkable are the many efforts it made to right itself, and adapt its framework to the changing circumstances of the times.

In the present inquiry we must, as I have already said, discover, if we can, how much Hellas owed to its climate, to its position on the globe, and to the physical organization of its inhabitants. It would be absurd to infer with some writers, xviiithat the influence of these circumstances is imaginary, because Greece seems to remain where it was of old, and the constitution and temperament of the people to be likewise unchanged. But this is not the case. Greece no longer occupies in the map of the world the position it occupied in antiquity. It has been lifted out of the centre of civilisation, to be cast upon its outskirts, or, which is the same thing, civilisation has shifted its seat. Nor are the Greeks any longer what they formerly were, though perhaps by a fortunate combination of circumstances they might still be rendered so. At present there is the same difference between them and their ancestors as between a jar of Falernian, and an empty jar. The clay, indeed, is there, beautifully moulded, and the purple hue of life is on the cheek; but tyranny from the battle of Cheronæa,

“That dishonest victory
Fatal to liberty!”

until now has been draining out the soul. In the day when Hellas was itself its children walked in light, in the first beautiful light of the morning, which long seemed to shine only upon them; and now, perhaps, after the revolution of a cycle almost equal to the Great Year, they may, probably, be approaching another dawn.

Comparing the several states of Greece together, it is customary to bestow the palm of energy and military valour upon the Spartans, who made war their sole profession, and passed their lives as xixit were in the camp from the cradle to the grave. But, in thus deciding, justice is scarcely done to the character of Athens; for, if the former excelled in discipline, to the latter belonged, indisputably, the superiority in native courage. Trained or not trained they faced whatever enemy presented himself, and won at least as many laurels from Sparta, on the ocean, as the Doric State, in all its wars, ever gathered on land. And, lastly, at Platæa, among which race, among Ionians or Dorians, was most activity manifested? In whose ranks was found the greatest ardour to engage? Who bore the first brunt of the Median horse, and broke the dreaded shock of that vaunted Asiatic chivalry which the Barbarian hoped would have trampled down with its innumerable hoofs the spirit of Grecian freedom? This was effected by the Athenians; by those gay and seemingly effeminate soldiers, who went forth from their beautiful city curled, perfumed, clad in purple, as to the mimic combats of the theatre. The spirit of their commonwealth, all splendour without and all energy within, urged them to the field. Their cry at the approach of the king was “Freedom or honourable graves!”—such as their countrymen had ever been wont to repose in.

In fact, the Athenians, under a free government, had learned what it was to live—had imbibed from their education the feeling, that if deprived of such a government, if reduced to bow beneath the yoke of despotism, to die, if the Apostle’s words may without blame be thus applied, would xxbe gain. It will readily be conceived that the citizens of such a state felt an impassioned attachment to their country,—an attachment unintelligible to persons living under any other form of civil polity. Athens was the cradle of their freedom and their happiness. There was a religion in the love they bore it; they had, according to mythical traditions, which they believed, sprung on that spot from the bosom of the earth. It stood, therefore to them in the dearest of all relations, being, to sum up everything holy in one word,—their Mother; and they embodied their profound veneration for the sacred spot in every fond, every endearing, epithet their matchless language could supply. Even the gods, in their patriotic partiality, were believed to look on Athens as the most lovely, no less than the most glorious city on the broad earth,—an idea which they expressed by representing Poseidon and Athena contending for the honour of becoming their tutelar divinity.

To persons so thinking no calamity short of the entire extinction of their race could appear so intolerable as beholding that sacred city, with the tombs of their ancestors, the sanctuaries of their gods, the venerable but immoveable symbols of their faith and mythological history, delivered over to be trodden down or obliterated with sword and fire by barbarian slaves, strong only from their countless numbers. Yet even to this did the love of freedom reconcile the Athenian people. They abandoned their holy place, and, embarking on board the fleet with their wives and children, took xxirefuge in Trœzen and Salamis. History has described in touching language the circumstances of this event, than which it has nothing more pathetic to record save, peradventure, the carrying away of Judea and her children into captivity. I will not disturb its archaic simplicity. No eloquence could heighten its effect. It goes at once to the heart and rouses our noblest sympathies. “The embarkation of the people of Athens was a very affecting scene. What pity, what admiration of the firmness of those men who, sending their parents and families to a distant place, unmoved with their cries and embraces, had the fortitude to leave the city and embark for Salamis! What greatly heightened the distress was the number of citizens whom, on account of their extreme old age, they were forced to leave behind. And some emotions of tenderness were due even to the tame domestic animals which, running to the shore with lamentable howlings, expressed their affection and regret for the persons by whom they had been fed. One of these, a dog belonging to Xanthippos, the father of Pericles, unwilling to be left, is said to have leaped into the sea and to have swam by the side of the galley till it reached Salamis, where, quite spent with toil, it immediately died. And they show, to this day, a place called Cynossema—‘the dog’s grave’—where they tell us it was buried.”[1]

The Athenian people, on this and similar occasions, xxiiwere enabled to resolve and perform boldly from the generous spirit inspired by their national system of education. Their institutions, also, were eminently calculated to bring into play the energies of every individual citizen, and to diffuse in consequence through the whole community a grandeur of sentiment and an heroic enthusiasm peculiar to free states. At Athens whoever possessed the means of serving his country could easily, whatever might be his rank, make those means known, and bring them into operation. If he were virtuous his virtue was remarked and placed him on the road to promotion. If genius constituted his title to distinction, if nature had gifted him with the power to serve the state, the state, without inquiry whether he were poor or rich, readily availed itself of his capacity, rewarded him during his life with political honours and authority, and, after his death, with imperishable glory. If in war he performed any act of superior conduct or courage, a general’s name was his reward; if he received wounds that name, or the hope of it, healed them; if in the achieving of any heroic deed he perished, his country, he knew, would honour his ashes, watch over his memory, and, with words powerfully soothing because embodying a nation’s sympathy, dry up the tears of his parents and beloved children. He knew that his glory, heightened by matchless masters of eloquence, would flash like lightning from the bema; that lovely bosoms would beat high at his name; that hands, the fairest in Greece, would yearly wreath his tomb with garlands; and that xxiiitears would be shed for ever on the spot by the brave.

If children remained behind him, the state would become their parent; every Athenian would share with them his salt; would impart to them their best inheritance—the feeling of patriotism and an inextinguishable hatred of tyranny; would repeat to them with unenvious pride the eulogy of their father, and point daily to the laurels which kept his grave ever green. The Athenian was taught, from the cradle, to consider death beautiful when met on the red battle-field in defence of his home. And, according to the creed of his country, he believed that his spirit would in such an event be numbered among the objects of public worship. Hence the sublimity, the thrilling power of that oath in Demosthenes, who, in swearing by the souls of those that fell at Marathon, accomplished their apotheosis and placed them among the gods of Athens.

That such were the habitual feelings of this most gallant and generous-minded people appears even from the admission of their bitterest enemies. “They,” observe, in Thucydides, the Corinthian ambassadors, when urging Sparta into the Peloponnesian war,—"they push victory to the utmost, and are least of all men dejected by defeat; exposing their bodies for their country as if they had no interest in them, yet applying their minds in the public service as if that and their private interest were one. Disappointment of a proposed acquisition they consider as a loss of what xxivalready belonged to them; success in any pursuit they esteem only as a step towards farther advantages; and, defeated in any attempt, they turn immediately to some new project by which to make themselves amends: insomuch, that, through their celerity in executing whatever they propose, they seem to have the peculiar faculty of at the same time hoping and possessing. Thus they continue ever amid labours and dangers, enjoying nothing through sedulity to acquire; esteeming that only a time of festival in which they are prosecuting their projects; and holding rest as a greater evil than the most laborious business. To sum up their character, it may be truly said, that they were born neither to enjoy quiet themselves, nor to suffer others to enjoy it."[2]

The feeling that what they fought for was their own, which accounts for the heroism of Hellenic armies, likewise led, particularly at Athens, to the beautifying and adorning of the city, and the perfection of public taste. The people saw among them no palaces devoted to the private luxuries of a despotic court, where persons maintained at the public expense learn to look with contempt on the honest hands that support them. There, whatever was magnificent belonged to the people at large, no private individuals, during the best ages of the commonwealth, presuming, how great soever might be their talents or their influence, to arrogate to themselves more than can be due xxvto individuals, or to enshrine their perishable bodies in buildings suited only to the worship of God. Yet, in genuine grandeur, no monarch, with the wealth of half a world at the disposal of his caprice, ever rivalled the Athenian people. True taste, the genuine sense of the beautiful and the sublime, will, while the world endures, refuse to be the subject of a tyrant, or to inhabit the same city with him; because no patronage, pensions, or lavish expenditure, can create in one state of society what belongs to another; and pure taste being nothing more than the cultivated popular feeling spontaneously expanding, can nowhere exist but in a free state. A prince may, doubtless, know what pleases him; but the people only can tell what pleases the people, which nothing certainly will unless it be produced expressly for them, without the slightest reference to any other person.

Such, in the best periods of Grecian history, were the Athenians. Among them Nature generally was allowed to make herself heard; from the cradle upwards it was their guide. A pure religion they had not, or pure morality. Far from it; they barely caught indistinct glimpses of what in faith and practice is true and beautiful. Nor could it be otherwise; for the sun had not then risen, and men but felt their way uncertainly and timidly amid the obscurities of the dawn. Nevertheless, the light vouchsafed them they did not spurn. According to the best notions then prevailing, they were of all men the most pious; and though of xxvithis piety much, nay, the greater part, was superstition, yet, doubtless, God, according to the saying of the Apostle, accounted it unto them for righteousness, that, having not the law, they were a law unto themselves.

The Spartans, on the other hand, were mere monastic soldiers, brave, indeed, and true as their swords, but ungifted with those loftier and more exquisite sympathies which properly constitute the beauty of human character, and are alone the parents of love. Few, perhaps, were all things within their reach, would choose to be citizens of Sparta; while no one, for whom the poetry of life has any charms, would hesitate, after his own country, perhaps, to select Athens for his home. And that this is no scholastic fancy created by literary preferences is clear from the practice of antiquity. Every man possessing superior genius, whether sprung from Ionic or Doric race, betook himself to Athens, as to the Greece of Greece—the common country of letters, sciences, and arts. Thither, too, as now to London, fled the oppressed and persecuted of all lands, and there they found welcome and encouragement. It was the great asylum, the common city of refuge to all men. Strangers who could be content with hospitality and generous protection were never driven from thence. There every man might live as he pleased, think as he pleased, and utter freely what he thought. The recorded instances of persecution are barely sufficiently numerous to serve as exceptions to the general rule; and in Gorgias of Leontium, Polos, Protagoras, xxviiProdicos, Hippias, “and what the Cynic impudence uttered,” we discover to how great an extent the spirit of toleration was carried at Athens. It would be absurd to object the examples of Anaxagoras, Aspasia, and Socrates; for these were merely instances of the rage of party spirit, from which, while men continue men, no state will ever be free, and can no more be imputed to the Athenian people, or to the spirit of their government, than the execution of Sir Thomas More, or Cranmer, or Fisher, can be laid to the charge of the English Constitution.



I. Original Inhabitants of Hellas 1
II. Character of the Greeks 29
III. Geographical Outline 51
IV. Capital Cities of Greece—Athens 70
V. Capital Cities of Greece—Sparta 92
I. Theory of Education.—Birth of Children.—Infanticide 107
II. Birth-feast.—Naming the Child.—Nursery.—Nursery Tales.—Spartan Festivals 128
III. Toys, Sports, and Pastimes 144
IV. Elementary Instruction 164
V. Exercises of Youth 189
VI. Hunting and Fowling 206
VII. Schools of the Philosophers and Sophists 233
VIII. Education of the Spartans, Cretans, Arcadians,&c. 265
xxxiIX. Influence of the Fine Arts on Education 289
X. Hellenic Literature 314
XI. Spirit of the Grecian Religion 349
I. Women in Heroic Ages 369
II. Women of Doric States 382
III. Condition of unmarried Women.—Love. 401



The country of the Hellenes, which, in imitation of the Romans, we denominate Greece, was to its own inhabitants known by the name of Hellas. But the signification of this term was not fixed, being sometimes confined to Greece Proper, at others, comprehending likewise the possessions of the Hellenes in Asia; that is, Hellas within and beyond the Ægæan, as we now say, India within and beyond the Ganges.[3] The progress of the name seems to have been as follows: it designated, originally,[4] a city of Thessaly, built by Hellen son of Deucalion; next, Phthiotis; the whole of Thessaly; all Greece, with the exception sometimes of Peloponnesos, sometimes of Macedonia, 2sometimes,—which is very remarkable,—of Thessaly itself; sometimes of Epeiros; then all Greece within the Ægæan; afterwards all countries inhabited by Greeks in whatever part of the world; and, lastly, it would appear to have been occasionally employed to signify Athens alone.[5] The most ancient name, Pelasgia, sprang from the race who first, perhaps, peopled that part of Europe.

Nearly all writers who treat of Grecian history or antiquities, have ventured more or less upon inquiries respecting the original inhabitants of the country, some contending that it was peopled by many independent races, while others content themselves with supposing one primary stock. To arrive at certainty in such investigations is scarcely to be hoped for, since, over the whole field, facts have moved in so close a conjunction with fables, “that the most which remaineth to be seen, is the show of dark and obscure steps where some part of the truth hath gone.”[6] It appears, however, to be a fact established, that the Hellenes were not the first who occupied Greece. They were preceded by a number of tribes all apparently of Pelasgian origin. But who and what the Pelasgians were, how and whence they came into the country, and by what gradations and influences they were ripened into Hellenes, or were by these expelled from the land, are questions to which no satisfactory answers have ever been given, but must still be discussed whatever the result of the investigation may be.

Even the name of this people has opened up an endless labyrinth of conjecture, at least among the moderns, for the ancients when such points were to be cleared up, easily removed the difficulty by inventing a hero or a demigod, with an appellation exactly suited to their purpose. Thus from Hellen they derived the name of the Hellenes, from Heracles that of 3Heracleidæ, from Ion that of the Ionians, and from Pelasgos, the son sometimes of Zeus, sometimes of Poseidon, sometimes of Triops or Inachos or Lycaon or Palachthon or of the earth itself,[7] that of the Pelasgi. An Attic writer, familiar with this question, and hinting at a part of the theory which I have adopted, imagines the name of Pelasgi to have been at first bestowed on the race because they usually made their appearance on the shores of Hellas like migratory birds in spring.[8] But though conjecture in such matters may amuse, it is not likely, at this distance of time, to lead to truth.

The ancients had evidently formed no theory as to whence the Pelasgi came, but were satisfied with the notion of their autochthoneïty,[9] which we cannot adopt. It must be acknowledged, however, that we are little able to trace them with certainty beyond the limits of Greece, before their arrival in that country. My own opinion is, that when the migrations began from that vast and lofty table land of Central Asia, which formed the primitive abode of mankind, and where the mother language of the Sanskrit, the Greek, and many other dialects was first spoken, the illustrious race, afterwards known under the name of Pelasgi, moved westward by the Caspian, along the Caucasian range, through Armenia and Kourdistân, until they descended into the plains of Asia Minor. Here we seem to touch upon the obscurest verge of Grecian fable, for the tradition which sent Argo to Colchis, at the Eastern extremity of the Black Sea, evidently contemplated the people of the land as a kindred race, of similar faith, character, and manners. By what precise channel the stream of population rolled westward, cannot be determined: but here and there, on the southern shores of 4the Euxine, we discover some obscure footsteps of the parents of the Greeks, as they continued their journeyings towards the land which they were afterwards to encircle with glory. Moving through Pontos, Paphlagonia, and Bithynia, they appear everywhere to have made settlements on the coast, until they reached the narrow stream of the Bosporos, over which they threw themselves into Europe.

Up to this point we have little whereon to build our conclusions, save what is supplied by the general theory of ancient migrations, and what appear to be facts dimly seen within the extreme orbit of mythology. The ancients themselves seem to have obtained some uncertain glimpses of links connecting their ancestors with Asiatic Scythia, for there were those among them who represented the Caucons of Paphlagonia stretching along the banks of the Parthenios, and between the Maryandinians and the sea, as a nation of Scythian origin. Now the Caucons were undoubtedly Pelasgians, as were the Phrygians, the Carians, and the Leleges, who, united by the ties of blood, flocked to the defence of Troy.[10] In a much remoter age, the heroes of the traditional Argo were, it is said, confounded by night at Cyzicos,[11] in Mysia, with the warlike Pelasgi, even then masters of the sea, and accustomed with their galleys to vex the coast and plunder the settled inhabitants. I regard the working of the gold and silver mines on the southern shores of the Euxine, anterior to the Trojan war, as another proof of the settlement of the Pelasgi in that part of Asia Minor;[12] and who but they, at a period beyond the 5reach of tradition, could have opened those gold mines on the shores of Thrace, which on his conquest of the country Philip of Macedon found to have been long ago worked and abandoned by some unknown people?[13]

Be this as it may, it was over the Bosporos and through Thrace that the Pelasgi seem to have made their earliest approaches towards Greece. The Thracians themselves were of Pelasgian origin. Thracians inhabited both sides of the Bosporos; traces of Pelasgian settlements and Pelasgian names are likewise found on both sides. The stream of knowledge unquestionably poured through Thrace into Greece; and it is highly probable that the stream of population had, at a remoter period, flowed in the same channel. Once in Macedonia, the adventurers would be tempted southward by the beauty of the climate and country; so that while some moved up the valley of the Haliacmon, others, perhaps, took possession of the ridge of Olympos, Ossa and Pelion, where they were known under the names of Centaurs and Lapithæ.[14] From these lofty ridges they looked down upon the great lake which in those ages covered the whole plain of Thessaly, and, following the ramifications of the mountains, peopled Pelasgian Argos, Phthiotis, and the roots of Œta, while the lowlands were still under water: thence, too, they crossed over into Eubœa, where they assumed the names of Macrones[15] and Curetes. This latter tribe settling at Chalcis,[16] and having been worsted in a contest for the Lalantian plain, fled across the Euripos, and traversing the whole of Bœotia, founded a new settlement about Pleuron in Ætolia, and gave the name of Curetis to the whole country. Hence, also, in process of time, they were 6driven by the Ætolians from Pisa in Elis, upon which they took refuge in Acarnania.[17]

But the principal tribe, and that which subsequently spread throughout Greece, after filling with population the valley of the Haliacmon, traversing the Caulavian range, and descending along the course of the Aoös, seem on the banks of the Celydnos, to have turned their faces southward. Following that stream upwards towards its source, they found themselves in Epeiros, a land abounding with water brooks, with lovely mountains, and lovelier valleys, and at length settled, and erected themselves lasting habitations in the sacred neighbourhood of Dodona,[18] where the first oracle known to the Hellenes flourished under the protection of the Pelasgian Zeus.[19]

Up to this point we have been treading, with little or no light to guide us, over a soil shifting, unsure, and treacherous; but here we touch upon comparatively firm ground, while the light of poetry dawns around, and enables us to direct our footsteps towards the luminous terra firma of history.

It must not be denied that much of the foregoing theory is erected on inference and conjecture. Nevertheless, it rests in part on facts which an historian ought not to reject. For example, though it be nowhere, perhaps, distinctly stated that the Thracians were entirely of Pelasgian origin, we are compelled by various circumstances to believe that such was the case: first, Samothrace on the coast was undoubtedly peopled by Pelasgi;[20] secondly, the Macedonians, 7plainly of the same stock with the Thracians, are acknowledged to have been Pelasgi;[21] and since the Illyrians likewise were a kindred people,[22] we have a line of Pelasgian settlements stretching along the whole northern frontier of Greece, the Ægæan, the Hellespont, and the Propontis, from the Adriatic to the Black Sea. The chain of proofs, indeed, is not complete, but appears and disappears alternately, like the stream of the Alpheios, though little doubt can be entertained of the existence of the links which happen to lie out of sight. In nearly every part of Macedonia the footsteps of the Pelasgi are clearly discernible; at Crestona,[23] on the Echidoros in Pœonia; in Emathea, and Bottiœa;[24] and looking at the language of the country, we find it at all times to have been identical with that of Greece. That the same thing must be predicated of Thrace, even in the remotest ages, appears indisputably from this, that her bards, Thamyris and Orpheus traversed the whole of Hellas, and sang their wisdom to its inhabitants; while Olen coming from Lycia, a Pelasgian settlement,[25] likewise brought his kindred songs to the same tolerant and hospitable land.

But to follow the movements of the Pelasgi through Greece itself, where, though no chronology of events can be attempted, our views rest on a stable foundation. Much, however, of our reasoning will be confused or perhaps unintelligible, if it be not borne in mind that the name of the Pelasgi, like that of the Tartars or Arabs, was a general appellation applied to the whole race, while the several tribes bore separate denominations; as the Chaones,[26] the Dryopes, the Leleges, the Caucons, the Cranaans, with many 8others,[27] precisely as among the Arabs, we find the Ababde, the Mahazi, the Beni Sakker, &c. The Pelasgian tribe which first made its appearance, and became powerful in Epeiros, a country not to be separated from Greece, was that of the Chaones, whose chief seat was Cheimera,[28] at the foot of the Ceraunian mountains. An obscure scholiast, indeed, denominates them barbarians;[29] but as from the best authority we know them to have been Pelasgi, this shows the value of the term in the mouth of the later writers. Another class,—the Levites, perhaps, of those primitive people,—settled amid the oak forests which surrounded the lovely lake of Dodona, where under the name of Selli,[30] they founded the most celebrated oracle of early antiquity. In their habits they remind us of the Sanyasis, and other religious anchorites of India, living from views of penance with unwashed feet, and sleeping on the bare ground. Other tribes renowned of old in Epeiros, and all Pelasgian,[31] were the Thesprotians, the Molossians, the Perrhæbians, and the Dolopians, the last rough mountaineers inhabiting both the eastern and western slopes of Pindos.[32]

When Epeiros had been thus thickly sprinkled with settlements, an earthquake appears to have produced in the range of Pelion the narrow precipitous gap, afterwards known as Tempe, by which the waters of the Thessalian lake discharged themselves into the sea. This happened, we are told, while one Pelasigos[33] reigned over the mountaineers in the district of 9Hæmonia. They were celebrating a great feast, when a certain slave named Peloros, brought them tidings of what had come to pass, speaking with admiration of the vast plains which were appearing through the ebbing waters. In gratitude for the news he communicated, they caused the man to seat himself at table while both the king and his attendants, in the joy and fulness of their hearts ministered to him. This, it is said, was the origin of the Pelorian festival, afterwards, down to a very late period, celebrated with great pomp and magnificence in Thessaly, where, for the day, masters changed condition with their slaves, and became their servants.[34] The same festival in the Pelasgian settlements of Italy was known down to the latest times, under the name of Saturnalia.

On the interior of Thessaly becoming thus habitable, the Pelasgian tribes of Epeiros, beginning to be straitened for room, and feeling still the original wandering impulse, poured over the heights of Pindos into the valleys of Histiæotis, and moved eastward along the foot of the Cambunian mountains, settling every where as they advanced. The tribe which took this direction bore the name of Perrhæbians, and left traces of their movements in the great Perrhæbian forest, stretching to the foot of Olympos, and in the name of the whole district extending from the Peneios to the northern limits of Thessaly. In this rich and fertile tract they became powerful, spreading their dominion along the banks of the Peneios, quite down to the sea. But the Lapithæ rising into consequence and overcoming the Perrhæbians in battle, reduced a portion of the tribes under their yoke, while the remainder, enamoured of independence, retreated inland, again crossed the Pindos, and established themselves in the upper valley of the Acheloös. About the same time, perhaps, a fragment of this tribe traversing the whole of Thessaly crossed over into Eubœa, where they subdued and took possession of Histiæotis. It 10was possibly the entrance of these adventurers into the island, pushing fresh waves of population southward, that caused the contest for the Lalantian plain, and the emigration of the Curetes to the continent.

Other Pelasgian tribes established themselves, and became illustrious in Thessaly. The Centaurs, for example, a Lelegian clan inhabiting Mount Pelion, where they were, perhaps, the first tamers of the horse, whence the fable of their double form. Other sections of the Leleges were also found in Thessaly,[35] as were also the Dryopes. In this country,[36] notwithstanding that it must be regarded upon the whole as only the second stage of the Pelasgians in their migrations southward, we find more traces of their power and influence than anywhere else in Northern Greece. Here were two cities, called Larissa; here was Pelasgian Argos;[37] here, too, was a great district known by the name of Pelasgiotis, while that of Pelasgia seems to have preceded Thessaly as the appellation of the whole province.[38] This people, like most others, seem to have had a number of names, to which they were peculiarly attached, which we nearly always find reappearing wherever they formed a settlement. Generally, too, it may be regarded as certain that the more northern were the most ancient: thus we find Pelagonia in the kingdom of Macedon and in Thessaly; Larissa[39] on the Peneios; Larissa Cremaste near the shore. The Dryopes,[40] again, appear first in Epeiros, not far from Dodona; next we find them in Thessaly, then in Doris, finally in Peloponnesos; and Strabo is 11careful to remark that the last-mentioned were an off-shoot from those in the north.

From Thessaly the tide of population rolled southward;[41] different tribes of Pelasgi, under the name of Leleges, Hyantes, Aones, and Dryopes taking possession of the mountains and valleys of Doris, Locris, Phocis, and extending their migrations into the plains of Bœotia. From thence, across the isthmus, some few straggling hordes appear to have found their way into Peloponnesos, where, as shepherds, they gradually diffused themselves over its rich plains. All the Pelasgi in fact appear like the Arabs and Tartars to have been originally Nomades, different tribes of whom, as they were tempted by the beauty of particular regions, quitted their wandering life, as the Arabs have done in Egypt, Yemen, and elsewhere, and from shepherds became husbandmen. In process of time, the descendants of the settlers, accustomed to the easy and luxurious life of cities, learned to look back upon their wandering ancestors as a wretched and a barbarous race. Indeed, they sometimes speak of them[42] after their arrival in Peloponnesos as cannibals, naked, houseless, ignorant of the use of fire, on a level, in short, with the fiercest and most brutal savages existing in the islands of the Pacific. But these erroneous ideas evidently arose from the theory of 12autochthoneïty which supposes man to have gradually ripened out of a beast into a man; whereas, the low savages discovered in various parts of the world, do not represent the original state of mankind, but are mere instances of extreme degeneracy. In fact, a different set of traditions also prevailed among the Greeks, which, referring evidently to the period when their ancestors were Nomades, spoke with rapture and enthusiasm of their happy and tranquil life, when, following their flocks from vale to vale and from stream to stream, they fed upon the spontaneous productions which nature spread before them. On this period the poets bestowed the name of the Golden Age, and, perhaps, if examined philosophically, there is no stage in the history of civilisation at which there is so much to enjoy and so little to suffer, as when the whole nation are shepherds, and happen to light upon a land where, as yet too few to inconvenience each other, they can live unmolested by foreign tribes.

It has now been shown how Hellas might have been entirely peopled from the north; but certain traditions, prevailing from the earliest times, compel us to admit that some portion, at least, of its population reached it by a different route; that is, through Asia Minor and the islands. I have already alluded briefly to the existence of a Pelasgian tribe in Paphlagonia,[43] that is to say, the Caucons, whose establishment in this region supplies a link in the chain of proofs by which we endeavour to connect the Pelasgi with the Scythians of Central Asia; for the Caucons are admitted to have been of Pelasgian origin, and an opinion prevailed among the 13ancients that they were likewise Scythians.[44] Thus we find that certain Scythians settled in Paphlagonia, were called Caucons, that the Caucons were Pelasgi, and that the Pelasgi peopled Greece. The Greeks, therefore, by this account, traced their origin to Scythia. Circumstances connected with the geography of Asia Minor and of Hellas, seem to furnish traces of the route of the Pelasgi westward. It appears to have been among the primitive articles of their creed, that the deity delighted to abide on the summits of lofty and even of snowy mountains; and whenever in their settlements the features of the earth presented any such towering eminence, they seem to have bestowed on it the name of Olympos, or Celestial Mansion.[45] Immediately south of the Cauconian settlements, on the limits of Bithynia and Galacia, we accordingly find a mountain of this name; again, travelling westward, we have another Mount Olympos, on the northern confines of Phrygia; a third meets us in the island of Lesbos;[46] a fourth in Cypros, a fifth in Arcadia,[47] a sixth in Elis, and a seventh, best known of all, near the cradle of the Hellenes in Thessaly. In Mysia,[48] the footsteps of the race are numerous; Pelasgian cities—Placia, Scylace, Cyzicos, Antandros—studded the coast; inland there was a Larissa;[49] and the lovely-leafed evergreen, which shaded the slopes and crags of the Trojan Ida, was named the Pelasgian laurel.[50] 14Other facts there are connecting the Trojans with the Pelasgian stock: thus the Caucons, whom we find among their allies in Homer, are called a Trojan tribe; the language of Troy was evidently a Pelasgian dialect, closely allied to the Greek,[51] which may likewise be predicated of the Phrygian, the Lydian, the Carian, the Lycian extending along the whole western coast of Asia Minor. The gods, oracles, rites, ceremonies of all these people appear in early times to have been identical with those of Hellas, and mythology represents the heroes of both continents as sprung from the same gods. Nay, positive testimony describes the Pelasgi as a great nation, holding the whole western coast of Asia Minor, from Mycale to the Hellespont;[52] and speaks of the Leleges as inhabiting a part of Caria, where their deserted fortifications, called Lelegia,[53] apparently of Cyclopian construction, were still found in the time of Strabo,[54] together with their tombs, probably barrows, resembling those scattered through Peloponnesos, and called the “Tombs of the Phrygians.”[55] Similar sepulchral relics of Carian dominion were found and opened by the Athenians in the purification of Delos.[56] Possibly, too, the tumuli, existing to this day in Tartary, and occasionally rifled by the Siberians, mark the original seat of the Pelasgi in Asia; though similar monuments are found in other parts of the East, as in Nubia, where I 15counted a cluster of ten or twelve, and nearly all over Europe. Homer speaks of one on the plains of Troy, and the Greeks themselves cast up barrows over their heroes, as Ajax, where

“Far by the solitary shore he sleeps.”

Not to omit any material facts, on which my view of Pelasgian history is founded, I shall proceed to mention in order the principal points on the Asiatic shore where the footsteps of the Pelasgi appear. We find, then, that they occupied the greater part of Lydia,[57] and at the time of the Ionian migration held the citadel of Ephesos. They, too, in conjunction with the Nymphs were the founders of the temple of Hera at Samos,[58] and crossing the Mæander they re-appear again at Miletos on the coast of Caria. Indeed this city[59] was originally, from its inhabitants, called Lelegeis, though it afterwards was known under a variety of names, as Pituoussa from the surrounding pine woods, Anactoria, and lastly, Miletos. A little further southward was another Lelegian settlement at Pedasos on the Satneios.[60] From a passage in Homer it has been supposed that the Carians and Lelegians were distinct races, but in reality the Carians were a Lelegian tribe;[61] that is Pelasgi, who like the Hellenes in Greece, gradually acquired power and 16dominion, and eclipsed their brethren. This they were enabled to do by applying themselves passionately to the use of arms, a circumstance which at a later period led them to make a traffic of their valour and hire their swords to the best bidder. In earlier and better times they achieved conquests for themselves, and rivalling the Phœnicians in maritime enterprise and success, reduced under their sway the greater number of the Ægæan islands,[62] and even some portion of the Hellenic continent itself.[63] Certain clans of this martial race sought an outlet for their restless daring by joining the Cilicians[64] in their piratical enterprises, and probably it was in this character that they first obtained possession of some of the smaller isles. Positive historical testimony there seems to be none for fixing the Pelasgi in Cypros,[65] though we cannot doubt that it was included in their dominions, from the ruins of Cyclopian fortresses still found there, and the Olympian Mount already mentioned. In Rhodes, however, and Samos antiquity speaks of their settlements;[66] they, too, were the earliest inhabitants of Chios,[67] whence they sent forth a colony to Lesbos,[68] which received from them the name of Pelasgia. They expelled the Minyans from Lemnos,[69] which afterwards, through fear of Darius, their king ceded to the Athenians,[70] and held Imbros[71] and Samothrace[72] in the north; Scyros, too, was originally 17named Pelasgia.[73] Andros was peopled by one[74] of their colonies, and Delos, as we have already seen, held their bones until they were cast forth by the Athenians. But it is unnecessary to enumerate each separate point, since we know generally that all the Ægæan isles were anciently in their possession,[75] and that even the great island of Crete formed, in remote ages, a portion of their empire. Here under the names of Curetes, Corybantes, Telchines and Dactyli,[76] they flourished in the mythical times, and were the reputed preservers and nurses of the infant Zeus, a god pre-eminently Pelasgian, so that wherever his worship was found I regard it as a proof that the Pelasgi had settled there.

Passing thus from island to island in the very infancy of navigation, the Pelasgi appear by way of the Sporades and Cycladæ, to have migrated into Peloponnesos, first landing at Argos. Probably on their arrival they found there some few inhabitants who by the isthmus had entered and scattered themselves at leisure over the peninsula. But whether this was so or not, certain it is that the oldest legends of Hellenic mythology allude to the peopling of Argos by sea, representing Inachos, its first ruler, as a son of the ocean.[77] From this chief, whether historical or fabulous, the principal river of Argos received its appellation, and members of his family bestowed their names on Argolis first, and afterwards on the whole of Peloponnesos, which from Apis was denominated Apia;[78] from Pelasgos, Pelasgia;[79] and from another prince so called, it received the name of 18Argos.[80] In this division of Hellas, which the rays of poetry and mythology unite to render luminous, the Pelasgi[81] seem early to have struck deep root, and made a rapid progress in civilisation. Here, accordingly, in historical times were found the most numerous monuments of their power and grandeur; and here, in the treasury of Atreus and the walls of Tiryns denominated Cyclopian, we still may contemplate proofs of their opulence and progress in the arts. Among them would appear to have existed a class or caste named Cyclops, addicted extremely to handicrafts, particularly building. These it was who erected the walls and citadel of Argos,[82] on which they bestowed the name of Larissa, together with certain labyrinths, said to have existed in the neighbourhood of Nauplia. Mycenæ appears to have been the most ancient capital of the country, built while the site of Argos was yet a marsh,[83] or perhaps under water; then came Tiryns, and lastly Argos. Other early seats of the Pelasgi were at Epidauros and Hermione.[84]

But the province of Peloponnesos which the Pelasgi most delighted to consider their home, was the rough, wild, and elevated table land of Arcadia,[85] resembling on a small scale their original seat in central Asia; belted round by mountains with many streams and rivers pouring down their sides: here long shut out from commerce with the rest of mankind they multiplied in ease and security, and became a great nation,[86] who, to express the idea of their own extreme antiquity, professed themselves to be older than the moon.[87] Having lost all tradition of their arrival in the country, they looked upon themselves as autochthons, 19and regarded their mountain-girt land as the great reservoir of Pelasgian population,[88] whence its colonies like streams, flowed outwards, and peopled the rest of Hellas; and probably it was thence that the first emigrants descended into the valley of the Eurotas, spread themselves through Laconia, and found a mountain on which they bestowed the holy name of Olympos. In this province one of the most famous of the Pelasgian tribes, is by some traditions said to have had its origin; for Lelex,[89] who gave his name to the Leleges, they fabled to have been an autochthon of Laconia, and down even to the times of Pausanias an heroum was shown at Sparta erected in honour of his name. Undoubtedly a mythical legend connected with this hero was deeply interwoven with the fabulous history of Laconia. His son Eurotas was the father of Sparta, wife of Lacedæmon, who gave his name to the country. He had two daughters, Amycla and Eurydice, the latter of whom became the wife of Acrisios.[90] The Acarnanians, however, had among them a tradition which made Lelex an autochthon of Leucadia,[91] and the people of Megara spoke of one Lelex[92] who arrived in their country by sea from Egypt.

To proceed, however, with the traces of the Pelasgi in Peloponnesos. It has sometimes been supposed that no proof exists of their having held any part of this peninsula excepting Argos, Achaia and Arcadia;[93] but erroneously, for we have seen the Leleges, a Pelasgian tribe, in Laconia; and we find a settlement of the Pelasgi in Messenia. Here also at Andania flourished the Pelasgian worship of the Dii Kabyri 20from Samothrace;[94] colony of Leleges, under Pylos, son of Cleison, settled at Pylos on the Coryphasian promontory.[95] The Caucons held Cyparissos;[96] that is both in the interior of Messenia and along the sea coast we find settlements of the race which peopled the whole peninsula. Passing northward into Elis, we immediately on crossing the Neda find Caucons in the Lepreatis,[97] where, probably, in proof that the tribe originated there, they showed in Strabo’s[98] time the tomb of Caucon. They had likewise a river Caucon[99] in the north of Elis, and in short the whole country from the Neda to the Larissos bore anciently the name of Cauconia.[100] Some, however, maintain that they were found only at three points on the coast, that is, in the south of Triphylia,[101] in the north near Dyme, and at Hollow Elis on the Peneios, which Aristotle considered their chief seat.[102] Nevertheless Antimachos regarded the Epeians as Caucons,[103] and since these inhabited the whole western coast from Messenia northward, we must consider Elis as the principal though not the original seat of this tribe; for we find them represented as issuing from Arcadia, and we have already shown that they were settled in Paphlagonia, and were denominated a Trojan tribe.

Turning our faces eastward from the promontory Araxos, we discover along the coast a chain of Pelasgian settlements founded by Ionians from Athens.[104] To complete our list of proofs that there was no spot in all Hellas not possessed by the Pelasgi, we find a prince of that race, and named Pelasgos, receiving the 21goddess Demeter at Corinth in the remotest periods of the mythology.[105]

Thus, then, we have traced this illustrious people under various names through every region of Greece, save Attica; and there also they were found, but whether they arrived by land or sea, I profess myself wholly unable to determine. A modern historian[106] who experienced the same difficulty, observes, that the Ionians appear to have dropped from heaven into Attica. Unquestionably we do not know whence they came, and as their own legends represent them as autochthons[107] we can expect no aid from tradition. The most probable supposition is, that when the migratory hordes were pushing southward from Thessaly, some clans, more fortunate than the rest, traversing the heights of Cithæron soon found themselves in possession of this unfertile but lovely land, covered in those ages with forests, diversified by hill and dale, and breathing perfume from every thicket. The succeeding tide of emigration breaking against the ridge of Cithæron seems to have turned westward and flowed into the Peloponnesos, leaving Attica unmolested. Some have regarded its own barrenness as the rampart which protected it from invasion. But why may we not suppose that the inhabitants finding themselves thriving and tranquil, resolved early to fight for their possessions, and hedged themselves from invasion by courage and arms? be this as it may, Attica was the first part of Hellas that enjoyed permanent exemption from war, so that the olive, its principal ornament and riches, became in all after ages the emblem of peace. Once settled in this country the Pelasgi were never driven thence,[108] nor did they ever receive any considerable mixture of foreign settlers. Individuals from time to time were permitted to take up their abode among them; 22but, in this favoured spot, unalloyed by foreign mixture, the Pelasgic genius completely developed itself, and reached the highest pitch of civilisation known to the ancient world.

The earliest name bestowed on the Pelasgian tribe which held Attica was that of Cranaans;[109] but whether they were so distinguished before their migration thither, or, which is more probable, derived their appellation from the rocky nature[110] of their country, does not appear. Like most of the ancient nations, however, they frequently changed their name: at first perhaps simply Pelasgi, next Cranaans, then Cecropidæ and Ionians; afterwards, under the reign of Erechtheus they obtained from their patron divinity the name of Athenians, by which they have been known down to the present day. Among the fables of the mythology we discover traces of several attempts at disputing with the Aborigines the sovereignty of Attica. Thus Eumolpos, with a colony of Thracians, is by one tradition said to have obtained possession of the whole country,[111] while another and more probable legend represents him as settling with a small band at Eleusis, where his family during the whole existence of Paganism exercised the office of priests of Demeter.[112] The Cretans again under Minos sought to obtain a footing in the country; but the close of the tradition which speaks of this invasion shows that though disgraceful to Attica it was without any permanent result. Afterwards, when the unsettled Pelasgi had degenerated into pirates and freebooters, a powerful band of them appears to have found its way thither, and obtained a settlement in the immediate neighbourhood of the capital,[113] on condition, apparently, of labouring at the erection of walls round the Acropolis. A portion of the fortifications is said to have been completed by these marauders, 23and to have obtained from them the name of the Pelasgian wall. But even these strangers were not suffered to remain; quarrels arising either about the land which the Pelasgi had obtained on the slopes of Hymettos, or on account of violence offered to certain Athenian maidens descending to the fountain of Callirrhoë for water. The emigrants were expelled and took refuge in Lemnos. In revenge for what they regarded as an injury, they carried away a number of Attic virgins who were celebrating the festival of Artemis at Brauron, which led in after times to the capture of Lemnos by Miltiades.

It seems to result from the above inquiry that every district in Hellas was originally peopled by the Pelasgi, which the poets in after ages expressed by saying that a king of that nation reigned over the whole country as far northward as the Strymon in Thrace.[114]

We have shown that their dominions extended much further, and included not Thrace only, beyond the limits of Greece, but a great part likewise of Asia Minor and nearly every island in the Ægæan. But even these spacious limits were not wide enough to contain the whole Pelasgian population; for traversing the Adriatic, they penetrated into Etruria, and there and elsewhere in Italy, under the name of Tyrrhenians, erected Cyclopian cities, and deposited the germs of its future civilisation.[115] Hence the great resemblance which historians and antiquaries have observed between the Etruscans and the Greeks. Both were offshoots from the great Pelasgic stem; though the simplicity of the original race in religion and manners maintained longer its ground in Italy 24than under the warmer skies of Greece. In these more western settlements, however, new tribes sprang up, who in glory eclipsed the mother race, which they learned to regard with contempt, so that they bestowed the name of Pelasgi on their slaves. A similar circumstance had previously occurred in Asia Minor, where the Carians reduced to servitude such of their brethren as in later times retained the name of Leleges.[116]

If now we cast a rapid glance over the sciences and civilisation of the Pelasgi, we shall probably have acquired as complete an idea of that ancient people as existing monuments enable us to frame.[117] Tradition attributed to them the invention of several arts of primary necessity, as those of building houses and manufacturing clothing, which they did from the skins of wild boars, the animals first slain by man for food. A relic of this primitive style of dress remained, we are told, to a very late age among the rustics of Phocis and Eubœa.[118] Other traditions will have it that mankind fed on grass and herbs until the Pelasgi taught them the greater refinement of feeding upon acorns. But leaving these poetical fancies, we shall find in many genuine monuments and facts undisputed proofs of the power and knowledge of the Pelasgi. In the first place, they it was who bequeathed to their Hellenic descendants some knowledge, 25though imperfect and obscure, of the true God.[119] In their minds the recognition of the unity of the Divine Being formed the basis of theology, and the philosophers of after ages who reasoned best and thought most correctly rose no higher on these points than their rude ancestors.

But the natural tendency of the human mind to error soon disturbed the simplicity of their faith; for as the tribes separated, each taking a different direction, they all in turns learned to consider the God as their patron, so that speedily there were as many gods as tribes, and polytheism was created. Thus the Pelasgi, who had at first like the polished nations of modern times no name for the gods, because they believed in but one, degenerated in the course of time, and invented that system of divinities and heroes which afterwards prevailed in Greece. They, too, it was, who in the developement of their superstition made the first steps towards the arts by setting up rude images of the powers they worshipped, and to them accordingly the introduction of the Hermæan statues at Athens is attributed.[120] There was likewise in a temple of Demeter between mount Eboras and Taygetos, a wooden statue of Orpheus, supposed to be the workmanship of the Pelasgi.[121] Evidently too, the worship of Demeter, and of all the rural gods grew up originally among them, as did likewise the adoration of supreme power and supreme wisdom in Zeus and Athena.[122]

Usually the Pelasgi are considered as a much wandering people,[123] though it would be more correct to represent them, like the Anglo-Saxon race in modern times, as the prolific parents of many settlements, spreading widely, but taking root wherever they spread. A proof of this still exists in the vast 26structures[124] which they reared, whose ruins are yet found scattered through Asia, Greece, and Italy. These Cyclopian buildings, palaces, treasuries, fortresses, barrows, were not the works of nomadic hordes, but of a people attached to the soil and resolute in defending it. Navigation, likewise, they cultivated, and were among the earliest nations who possessed a power at sea,[125] which led necessarily to the study of astronomy, together with the occult science of the stars.[126] Of their progress in the more ordinary arts of utility we have very little knowledge, but we find in the Iliad a Pelasgian woman staining ivory to be used as ornaments of a war-horse;[127] the invention of the shepherd’s crook was attributed to them; so likewise was the religious dance called Hyporchema;[128] their proficiency in music is spoken of;[129] and their pre-eminence in war was signified by representing them as inventors of the shield.[130]

On the language of the Pelasgi various opinions are entertained. Some, relying on particular passages in ancient writers, have imagined that it was very different from the Greek,[131] but although in support of such an opinion much ingenuity may be exhibited there are circumstances which compel us to reject it. The Athenians and Arcadians, for example, though of Pelasgian origin, spoke, and that from the remotest times, the same language with the rest of the Greeks; and though the Æolic dialect,[132] the most ancient in Arcadia, or indeed in all Greece, was transformed to Latin in Italy, we are not on that account to infer that Latin bore a closer resemblance 27than the Greek to the mother tongue of both. The Pelasgian language indeed appears to have been the Hellenic in the earlier stages of its formation, just as the Pelasgi themselves were Greeks under another name and in a ruder state of civilisation. Whether they possessed any knowledge of written characters before[133] the introduction of the Phœnician we have now no means of ascertaining, the passages usually brought forward in behalf of such an opinion being of small authority. To them, however, tradition attributes the introduction of letters into Latium,[134] and there can be no doubt that the use of written characters was known in Greece before its inhabitants had ceased to be called Pelasgi.

I have now, I imagine, proved that the Pelasgi whencesoever they came, occupied, under one name or another, the whole continent of Greece and most of the islands. The Athenians, and consequently the Ionians, are on all hands acknowledged to have sprung from the Pelasgian stock. It only remains to be shown that the Dorians also traced their origin to this people, and we shall be satisfied that the whole of the illustrious nation, known to history under the name of Greeks, flowed from one and the same source. The Hellenes, of whom the Dorians were a tribe,[135] occupied in later times the south of Thessaly, but at a much earlier period, along with the Selli,[136] dwelt in the mountainous tracts about Dodona, where they were known under the name of Greeks or mountaineers,[137] which was the original signification of the term. This district of Epeiros, it has been shown, was among the very earliest of the Pelasgian settlements, from which of itself it might be inferred that the Hellenes were Pelasgi. We are not left to rely in this matter on mere inference, since Herodotus 28states distinctly that they were a fragment of the Pelasgi.[138]

It will be seen that I have hitherto made no allusion to the received fables about Egyptian and Phœnician colonies.[139] Nevertheless it is quite possible that on many occasions certain fugitives, both from Phœnicia and Egypt, may have taken refuge in Greece, and been permitted, as in after ages, to settle there. These persons, coming from countries farther advanced in civilisation, would undoubtedly bring along with them a superior degree of knowledge in many useful arts, which, in gratitude for their hospitable reception, they would undoubtedly communicate to the inhabitants. But the most active agent in the diffusion of civilisation was probably commerce, which, by bringing neighbouring nations into close contact, by enlarging the sphere of their experience, and teaching them the advantages to be derived from peaceful intercourse, has in all ages softened and refined mankind. When the use of letters began first to prevail in the East is not known, but it was probably communicated early to the Pelasgi, along with the materials for writing; and whatever inventions were made on either side of the Mediterranean passed rapidly from shore to shore, so that the civilisation of the Egyptians, Phœnicians, and Greeks, advanced simultaneously, though the beginnings of improvement were undoubtedly more ancient on the banks of the Nile and among the maritime Arabs than in Hellas. The amount, however, of eastern influences I conceive was not great, and as to colonies, properly so called, with the exception of those already described from Asia Minor, I believe there never were any.



Having in the foregoing chapter endeavoured to ascertain by what races Greece was originally peopled, we shall next speak of the character and physical organization of its inhabitants. In doing this it may be useful to consider them in three different stages of their progress: first, in the heroic and poetical times; secondly, in the historical and flourishing ages of the Hellenic commonwealth; thirdly, in their corrupt and degenerate state under the dominion of the Macedonians and Romans.

The most distinguishing characteristic of the Hellenes, when poetry first places them before us, is a profound veneration for the divinity and every thing connected with the service of religion. By the force of imagination heaven and earth were brought near each other, not so much, indeed, by elevating the latter, as by bringing down the former within the sphere of humanity. Gods and men moved together over the earth, cooperated in bringing about events, keeping up a constant interchange of beneficence; the god aiding, the mortal repaying his aid with gratitude;[140] the god guiding, the mortal submitting to be directed, until, sometimes, as in the case of Odysseus and Athena, the feeling of grace and favour on the one side, and of veneration and gratitude on the other, ripened into something like friendship and affection.

No man entered on any important enterprise without first consulting the gods, and throwing himself 30upon their protection, by sacrifice, divination, and prayer.[141] They conceived, according to the best lights afforded them by their rude creed, that although means existed of warping the judgment, perverting the affections, and vitiating the decisions of their divinities, yet upon the whole and in the natural order of things they were just and beneficent, mercifully caring for the poor and the stranger, the guardians of friendship and hospitality, and avenging severely the offences committed against their laws. Habitually, when not provoked to vengeance by impiety or crimes, the gods they believed were not only beneficent towards mankind, but given among themselves to cheerfulness and mirth, loving music, songs, and laughter, feasting jovially together in a joy serene and almost imperturbable, save when interrupted by solicitude for some favoured mortal. Philosophy, in more intellectual times, condemned this rude conception of divine things; but men’s ideas, like their offerings, belong to the state of society in which they live, and the Greeks of the heroic ages unquestionably attributed to their gods the qualities most in esteem among themselves.

Next to religion the most prominent feeling in the mind of the early Greeks was filial piety.[142] Nowhere among men were parents held in higher honour. The reverence paid to them partook largely of the religious sentiment. Regarded as the instruments by which God had communicated the mysterious and sacred gift of life, they were supposed by their children to be for ever invested with a high degree of sanctity as ministers and representatives of the Creator. Hence the anxiety experienced to obtain a father’s blessing and the indescribable dread of his curse. A peculiar set of divinities, the terrible Erinnyes, all but implacable and unsparing, were entrusted with the guardianship of a 31parent’s rights, and indescribable were the pangs and anguish supposed to seize upon transgressors. These were the powers who tracked about the matricides Orestes and Alcmæon, scaring them with spectral terrors and filling their palaces with the alarms and agonies of Tartaros. On the other hand, nothing can be more beautiful than the pictures of filial piety exhibited by the nobler characters of heroic times. The examples are innumerable, but none is so striking or complete as that of Achilles towards his father Peleus. Fierce, vehement, stern in the ordinary relations of life, towards his aged father he is gentle as a child. His heart yearns to him with a strength of feeling incomprehensible to a meaner nature. He submits to his sway and authority not from any apprehension of his power, not even from the fear of offending him, but from the fulness of his love, from the natural excellence and purity of his heart. He would erect his valour and the might of his arm into a rampart round the old man, to protect him from injury and insult; and even in the cold region of shadows beyond the grave this feeling is represented as still alive, so that in death, as in life, the uppermost anxiety of the hero’s soul is for the happiness of his father. Even in the government of his impetuous passions during his mortal career, in the choice of the object of his love, Achilles expresses a desire to render his feelings subordinate to those of his parent, thus verging on the utmost limits of self-denial and self-control conceivable in a state of nature. Homer understood his countrymen well when he gave these qualities to his hero. Without them, he knew that no degree of courage or wisdom would have sufficed to render him popular, and, therefore, we find him not only pre-eminent for his piety towards the gods, but at the same time the most affectionate and dutiful of sons, the warmest, most disinterested, and unchangeable of friends.

And this leads us to consider another remarkable feature of the Greek character,—its peculiar aptitude 32for friendship. No country’s history and traditions abound with so many examples of this virtue as those of Greece. In truth, it was there regarded as the most unequivocal mark of an heroic and generous nature, being wholly inconsistent with anything base, sordid, or ignoble, and flourishing only in company with virtues rarest and most difficult of acquisition. Poetry, no doubt, has clad the friendship of heroic times with a splendour scarcely belonging to real life, but the experience of history warrants us in making but slight deductions. Nature in those ages appeared to delight in producing men in pairs, each suited to be the ornament and solace of the other, possessing different qualities, imperfect when apart, but complete, united. Men thus constituted were a sort of moral twins, an extension, if we may so speak, of unity, the same yet different, bringing two souls under the yoke of one will, desiring the same, hating the same, possessing the same, valuing life and the gifts of life only as they were shared in common, seeking adventures, facing dangers together, conforming their thoughts, opinions, feelings, each to the other, having no distinct interest, no distinct hope, but engrafting two lives on the chances of one man’s fortune, and both perishing by the same blow.

This feeling has by some been supposed to have owed its strength, in part at least, to the degraded position of women in society; a subject on which I shall have more to say hereafter, but may here remark that such an opinion is wholly incompatible with an impartial interpretation of the Homeric poems and the older traditions of Greece. Throughout fabulous times women are the prime movers in all great events; and the respect which as mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters they received, though expressed in uncourtly language, was perhaps as great as has ever been paid them in any age or country. Every distinguished woman in Homer is the centre of a circle of tender and touching associations. We 33behold them beloved by their relatives, honoured by their dependants, enjoying every decent freedom, every becoming pleasure, with all the influence and authority appertaining to their sex. Thus Helen, both before and after her fall, is entire mistress of her house, and treated with all possible deference and delicacy: so Hecuba, Andromache, Penelope, Arete, Nausicaa, and Iphigeneia in their respective positions, are held in the highest esteem, and command as great a share of love from those whose duty it was to love and honour them, as any other women in history or fiction. Nor were due respect and tenderness confined to the high and the noble; for innumerable proofs occur in Homer that even among the humblest ranks, that delicate self-respect which is shown by respect to our other self, and may be regarded as the pivot of civilisation, was already in that age very generally diffused.

But if the Greeks of heroic times possessed the good qualities we have attributed to them, they were still more, perhaps, distinguished for others, which often obliterated the footsteps of their virtues, and appeared to be the guiding principles of their lives. Chief among these was their passion for war and violence,[143] which engaged them in everlasting struggles with their neighbours, developed overmuch their fierce and destructive qualities, and threw into comparative shade such of their propensities as were 34gentler and more humane. War by land, piracy by sea, filled the whole country with incessant alarms. Commerce was checked and confined within very narrow channels, both travelling and navigation being exceedingly unsafe, while bands of marauders traversed land and sea in quest of rapine and plunder. In some states no other mode was known of arriving at opulence, and the humbler classes of society were wholly subsisted by it.[144] The laws of war, too, were proportionably savage. It was customary either to give no quarter, or to devote all prisoners taken to servitude; and, accordingly, every petty state was filled with unfortunate captives, many of them of illustrious birth and qualities, reduced to the humblest conditions, being compelled to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow. In peace, too, and in their own homes their warlike habits led frequently to the perpetration of violence; their passions being strong and unbridled they resented insults on the spot, and numerous homicides were, in consequence, found flying from the country whose infant institutions their passions had sought to overthrow.

But in all stages of society it has been ordained by Providence that out of the wickedness of man some compensating good shall flow: thus, from the dangers and difficulties surrounding the stranger the virtue of hospitality[145] sprang up in generous minds. 35From the distress and misery of the passionate or accidental slayer of man arose the merciful rites of expiation, and all the friendly ties which subsisted between the purifier and the purified. Wanderers driven from their home often found a better in a foreign land; and thus even the transgressions and misfortunes of men, by breaking down the narrow enclosures of families and clans, and connecting persons of distant tribes together by benefits and gratitude, hastened the progress of refinement and paved the way for the greatness and glory of succeeding ages.

It will, from what has been said, be seen that among the elements of the Greek character passion greatly predominated; but, even from the earliest times, the existence was apparent of other powerful principles, by the influence of which the nation was led to emerge rapidly from its period of barbarism. These were an innate love of magnificence, and a striking inclination towards all social enjoyments; the former leading to the cultivation of commerce and industry, the latter communicating an extraordinary impetus to the natural desire common to mankind for companionship and society. But in developing these principles nature pursued in Greece a peculiar route. Instead of establishing a common centre, towards which the energies of the whole nation might tend, society was broken up into numerous parts, each forming, when considered separately, a whole, but united with its neighbours by identity of origin, language, religion, and national character.

36Philosophers usually seek in geographical position a key to the fact of the formation of so many separate states as the Hellenic population was divided into; but the cause was probably of a different kind. Among every other people, a difficulty has always been experienced in discovering men capable of conducting public affairs; and, when any such have arisen, they have easily subdued to their will their less intellectual and, consequently, less ambitious neighbours. Among the Greeks the case was wholly different: every province, every district, nay, every town and village abounded with men endowed with the ability and passion for governing. These feelings begot the aversion to submit to the government of others; this aversion engendered strife; and it was only the accident of a numerical superiority existing in one division of the country, or of a statesman of extraordinary genius springing up, that enabled one village to subdue its neighbours for a few miles around, and thus establish a small political community.

History rarely penetrates back so far as the period in which this state of things existed. But we have an example in the annals of Attica, where the twelve small municipal states, if one may so speak, were, partly by persuasion, partly by force, brought under the authority of one city, possessing the advantages of a superior position and wiser and more enterprising leaders.

These diminutive polities once formed, many causes concurred to preserve their integrity, of which the most obvious and powerful was the pride of race, and, next to this, certain religious feelings and peculiarities, which stationed gods along the frontier line of states, and rendered it impious for the worshippers of other divinities to invade or dispossess them of their lands. Communities having at first been thus isolated, numerous circumstances arose to make eternal the separation. The ready invention of the people gave to each state its heroes and heroic traditions, based, 37perhaps, on the exploits of border warfare, in which the ancestors of one community had suffered or inflicted injuries on the ancestors of another. Poets sprang up who celebrated these deeds in song, and every assembly, every festival, every merry-making resounded with the commemoration of deeds as galling to one people as they were glorious to the other. These prejudices, this cantonal patriotism, this tribual vanity, if I may coin a new word to express a new idea, constituted a far more impassable barrier between the diminutive states of Greece, than either mountains or rivers; though, in process of time, some few cases occurred in which very small communities were immersed and lost in greater ones. The heroism, however, with which the smallest commonwealth struggled to preserve its separate existence, the watchful jealousy, the undying solicitude, the fierce and sanguinary valour by which it hedged round its independence, the indescribable agonies of political extinction, may be seen in the examples of Ægina, Megara, Platæa, and Messenia.

In fact the most remarkable peculiarity in the Greek character was a certain centrifugal force, or abhorrence of centralisation, which presented insurmountable obstacles to the union of the whole Hellenic nation under one head. The inhabitants of ancient Italy exhibited on this point an entirely dissimilar character. Though differing from each other widely in manners, customs and laws, they still possessed so much of affinity as enabled them successively to unite themselves with Rome, and melt into one great people. The causes lay in their moral and intellectual character: possessing little genius or imagination, but much good sense, they experienced less keenly the misery of inferiority, the anguish of defeat, the tortures of submission, and calculated more coolly the advantages of protection and tranquillity, and all the other benefits of living under a strong government. Where the masses are but slightly impregnated with the fire of genius they 38are naturally disposed to amalgamation, and form a vast body necessarily subjected to one head. But where a nation is everywhere pervaded and quickened by genius, where imagination is an universal attribute, where to soar is as natural as to breathe, where the principal enjoyment of life is the exercise of power, where men hunger and thirst more for renown than for their daily bread, where life itself without these imaginary delights is insipid and despicable, no force, while the vigour of the national character continues unbroken, can erect a central government, or achieve extensive conquests, that is, subject one part of the nation to the sway of the other. And perhaps it may be found when we shall farther have perfected the science of government, that in politics as in physics the largest bodies are not the most valuable, or the most difficult to be shattered. The diamond resists when the largest rock yields. The true tendency of civilisation, therefore, is to reduce unwieldy empires into compact bodies, which the light of education can penetrate and render luminous. Vast empires are but opaque masses of ignorance.

From precisely the same causes arose the peculiar notions of the Greeks on the subject of government; that is, the citizens of each state applied to one another the principle which regulated the conduct of communities. Every man experienced an aversion to yield obedience to his neighbour, every man was ambitious to rule; but, as this was impossible, it became necessary to invent some means by which public business could be carried on without offering too much violence to the national character. Hence the origin of republicanism and the establishment of commonwealths, in which the sovereignty was acknowledged to reside in the body of the people, and where such of the citizens as by abilities, rank, friends, were qualified, might rule in vicarious succession.

But the various families of the Hellenes were not all equally endowed with the energy and intellect which belonged to their race; some possessed more 39of these qualities, others less, and there were besides in operation numerous peculiar and local causes which modified the forms of polity adopted by the various states of Greece. The heavier, the colder, the more inert naturally chose that form of government which would least tax their mental faculties, and most completely relieve them from the care of public affairs, in order the more sedulously to attend to their own; while the fierier, the busier, more active and buoyant preferred that political constitution which would afford their energetic natures most employment, and supply a legitimate outlet for the ardour and impetuosity of their temperament. Thus, in certain communities there was a leaning towards monarchy, in others towards oligarchy; in a third class towards aristocracy; while Athens and some few smaller states preferred the stir, bustle, and incessant animation of democracy.

Again these institutions, springing at first out of national idiosyncrasies, became in their turn among the most active causes which impressed the stamp of individuality on the population of each separate state: for the principle which animates a form of government is not a barren principle, but impregnates, leavens, and vivifies the community subjected to its influence, and produces an offspring analogous to the source from which it sprang. Thus, in monarchies the summits of a nation are rich with verdure and glorious with light; in aristocracies a broad table-land is fertilized and rendered beautiful; while in commonwealths, properly so called, the whole surface of society unrolls itself like a vast plain to the sun, and receives the light and comfort, and invigorating influence of its beams:—and all these various modifications of civil polity were at different times and in different parts of the country beheld in Greece, where they produced their natural fruits.

Among the principal results of the causes we have enumerated were a high intellectual cultivation, the profoundest study of philosophy, the most ardent pursuit of literature, a matchless taste for the beautiful 40in nature and in art, an irrepressible enthusiasm in the search after knowledge of every kind, and, joined with these, as their cause sometimes, and sometimes as their consequence, an invincible and limitless craving after fame. And these characteristic qualities of the people exhibited themselves in various ways. Sometimes, as in Thessaly, men sought to distinguish themselves by their wealth and the pomp by which they were surrounded:—sometimes their ruling passion urged them to pluck, amidst blood and slaughter, the laurels of war, as in Crete and Sparta, where military discipline was carried to its utmost perfection, where men lived perpetually encamped around their domestic hearths, cultivated the habits, preferences, tastes, and feelings of soldiers, and looked upon dominion as the supreme good:—sometimes religion, with its rites and pomp and sacrifices, absorbed a whole people, as in Elis, where the worship of supreme Zeus and the celebration of sacred games conferred a sanctity upon the land and people which all men of Hellenic blood respected:—elsewhere mountaineers,[146] of indomitable valour, hired out their swords to the best bidder, and became, as it were, the journeymen of war:—elegant pleasures in many cities, and commerce and magnificence, occupied and depraved the whole community; while others,[147] of grosser minds and more sordid propensities, passed their whole lives in indolent gluttony round the festive board, amid crowds of singers, flute-players, and dancers; or else, like the Delphians, were ever seen hovering amid the smoke of the altars, whetting their sacrificial knives or feasting on the savoury victims; and yet the triumphs of the Thebans proved that even the lowest of the Greeks, when circumstances led them to cultivate the arts of war, were capable of planning and executing great 41designs, and acquiring lasting celebrity. The arts, however, by which the Greeks rose to greatness,[148] and became the instructors and everlasting benefactors of mankind, flourished chiefly at Athens, and in the numerous colonies which she planted in various parts of Asia and the islands. To men of Ionian race we owe, in fact, the invention and most successful culture of poetry and philosophy, and those plastic and mimetic arts which added to the world of realities another world more beautiful still. If the Greeks borrowed, as no doubt they did, certain varieties and forms of art and learning from the barbarians, they immediately so refined and improved them, that the original inventors would no longer have recognised the works of their own hands. The glory of giving birth to several of the arts and sciences belongs to them: they were the inventors of the art of war; among them alone, in the ancient world, painting and sculpture assumed their proper dignity; and in politics and statesmanship, and that art of arts, philosophy, they led the way, and taught mankind the steps by which to arrive at perfection.

Greece, by the means we have described, was gradually reclaimed from the state of nature, covered with beautiful cities, harbours, docks, temples, palaces adorned with infinite variety of works of art, with sculpture in ivory and gold, with paintings, gems, and vases, which converted her principal cities into so many museums. Her plains, her dells, her mountain recesses were studded with sanctuaries and sacred groves, conferring the external beauty of religion on the whole face of the country. Public roads, branching from numerous capital cities, traversed the land in every direction; bridges spanned her rivers, agriculture covered her hills and plains with harvests, the vine hung in festoons from tree to tree, the foliage of the olive clothed the mountain sides, and a belt of beautiful gardens surrounded every city, town, and village.

42The primary cause of all this amazing activity has, by philosophers, been sought for in various circumstances of the condition of the Greeks, in the form of their institutions, in the rivalry of so many small communities, in the fact of their being inventors, and the consequent freshness of their pursuits. But although all these circumstances and many others contributed, as we have shown, to expedite the progress of the Greeks in civilisation, they were none of them the fountain head, which lies far beyond our ken. It were in fact as easy to tell why one star differs from another star in glory, as why one nation or one man rises in intellect above his fellows. But we are supplied with a link in the chain which connects the above effects with their cause, by the physical organisation of the Greeks, who possessed the most perfect forms in which humanity ever appeared. Their frame exhibiting all the beauty of which the human body is susceptible, uniting strength with lightness, dignity and elegance with activity, the utmost robustness of health with extreme delicacy of contour, the muscles developed by exercise, and developed over the whole structure alike, suggested the idea of power and indefatigable energy; the stature, generally above the middle size, the free and unembarrassed gait, the features[149] full of beauty, the expression replete with intellect, and the eye flashing with a consciousness of independence:—all these united conferred upon the form of the Greek an elevation, a grandeur, a majesty which we still contemplate with admiration in their sculpture, and denominate the ideal. Above all things, the form of the Grecian head was most exquisite, with its smooth, 43expansive, almost perpendicular forehead and majestic outline, describing a perfect oval. Generally the complexion was of a clear olive, the hair and eyes black, the temperament inclined to melancholy, though numerous instances occurred of sanguine fair persons with light eyes and chesnut or auburn hair, which the youth wore, as now, in a profusion of ringlets falling to the shoulders. Instances likewise occurred among the Greeks of individuals, who, like our own Chatterton, had eyes of different colours. Thus the poet Thamyris[150] is said to have had one eye grey, the other black. Nay, this peculiarity was even remarked among the inferior animals, more particularly the horses.[151]

The characteristic beauty of the nation displayed itself in every stage of life, only assuming new phases in its progress from the beauty of infancy to the beauty of old age, inspiring the mingled feelings of love and admiration; and notwithstanding the effects of time, and inter-marriage with barbarous races, the same is the case still. For nowhere in Europe do we meet with infants so lovely, with youths so soft, so virginal, so beautiful in their incipient manliness, with old men so grave, stately, and with countenances so magnificent, as among the living descendants of the Hellenes, whose destiny may yet be, one day, as enviable as their forms.

To push our enquiry one step further; it may be questioned, whether the glorious organisation we have been describing was not itself an effect of air, climate, and soil.[152] Certain at any rate it is, that the atmosphere of Greece is clearer, purer, more buoyant and elastic, than that of any other country in our hemisphere. At night, particularly, there is a transparency in the air, which appears to impart additional lustre and magnitude to the stars and moon. Its mountain 44tops, the intervening space being, as it were, removed, seem to mingle with the constellations which cluster in brightness on the edge of the horizon.

A principal cause of this clearness and pellucidness is the great prevalence of the north wind,[153] which brings with it few or no vapours, but gathers together the clouds in heaps and rolls them from the land towards the Mediterranean. The reason why this wind so often prevails may be discovered in the geographical configuration of the country, which is not, like Italy, divided from the rest of the continent by a range of Alps that might have screened it from the colder blasts, but lies open like an elevated threshing-floor, to be purged and winnowed on all sides by the winds, which in many parts are so violent that no tree can attain to any great height, while the stunted woods throw all their branches in one direction, and the vines and other climbing shrubs are laid prostrate along the rocks. These winds, however, prevail not constantly, but the southern and western breezes, blowing at intervals, bring along with them the warm atmosphere of Syria or Egypt, or the cooling freshness of the ocean. Another cause, which greatly tends to promote the purity of the air, is the lightness, friability, and dryness of the soil, which, distributed for the most part in thin layers over ledges of rocks, permits no stagnation of moisture, but enables the rain that falls to trickle through, collect in rills and brooks, and find its way rapidly to the sea. The plains and irregular valleys, which form an exception to this rule, are not numerous enough, or of sufficient magnitude to affect the general proposition. There appear, moreover, to be many peculiar properties and virtues in the soil itself, causing all fruits transplanted thither to attain to speedy ripeness and superior flavour, while odoriferous plants and flowers, as the jasmine, the wild 45thyme, and the rose exhale sweeter and more delicious fragrance. This is more particularly the case in Attica, which accordingly produced in antiquity, where due care was bestowed on gardening and agriculture, the finest fruits and sweetest honey in the world.[154]

The same qualities in soil and climate which affect vegetation, likewise powerfully influence the character and temperament of men and animals. It is, for example, well known in the Levant, that the Bedouins inhabiting Arabia Proper and the Eastern Desert degenerate both in character and physical organisation when transplanted to the Libyan wastes on the western banks of the Nile. But if particular soil and situation engender particular diseases; if the air of fens and marshes blunt the senses and paralyse, to a certain degree, the intellectual faculties, the converse of the proposition must also hold good; so that it is conceivable that the light soil and pure air of Greece may have produced corresponding effects on the bodies and minds of its inhabitants. The experiment, in fact, is made daily; for strangers arriving there with the germs of disease in their constitution, are, in most cases, speedily destroyed by the force of the climate; while the healthy and vigorous acquire the vivacity, the cheerfulness, the nervous and impetuous energy of the natives themselves, and, like them, extend the term of life to its utmost span. Greece, indeed, has always been the habitation of longevity; its philosophers in antiquity,—its monks, anchorites, and rural population in modern times, furnishing, perhaps, more examples of extreme old age than could be found on the same extent of territory in any other part of the globe.

Now this excess of vitality, this superabundance of the principle of life, which constitutes what we intend by physical or moral energy, almost inevitably produces, among an ill-governed, ill-educated people, a 46large harvest of crime, and, accordingly, the modern Greeks have often been distinguished for audacious villany; the intrepid vigour of their character, controlled neither by religion nor philosophy, easily breaking through the restraints of tyranny and unjust laws in the chase after power or excitement. That Frenchman spoke more truly than he thought, who said the Greeks were still the same “canaille” as in the days of Themistocles: for, give them the same laws, the same education, the same incentives to virtue and to heroism, and they will probably be again as virtuous, as wise, and as heroic as their illustrious ancestors. I judge in this way partly from my own experience, for I have seldom become acquainted with a Greek,—and I have known many,—who has not improved upon acquaintance, won my esteem, and, in most cases, my affection, and impressed me with the firm belief that there is no nation in the varied population of Europe which, if ruled with wisdom and justice, would exhibit loftier or more exalted qualities. In these views I am happy to be borne out by the testimony of Monsieur Frederic Thiersch, whose facilities for studying the modern Greek have been far more ample than mine, and whose opinions are marked by the cautious acuteness of the statesman with the depth and originality of the philosopher.

In alluding to the causes which pervert the feelings and misdirect the energies of the existing race, I have touched also at the great source of crime among their ancestors,—I mean, defective laws and institutions; for although the Greek character was, in force and excellence, all that I have said, and more, it, nevertheless, contained other elements than those I have described, which it now becomes my duty to speak of. From a very early period there existed in Greece two political parties, variously denominated in various states, but upholding,—the one, the doctrine that the many ought to be subjected to the few; the other, that the few ought to be subjected to the many: in other words, the oligarchical and democratical parties. From 47the struggles of these two factions the internal history of Greece takes its form and colour, as to them may be traced most of the fearful atrocities, in the shape of conspiracies, massacres, revolutions, which, instructing while they shock us, stain the Greek character with indelible blots.[155] Ambitious men are nowhere scrupulous. To enjoy the delight imparted by the exercise of power, individuals have in all ages stifled the dictates of conscience; and where, as in modern Italy and in ancient Greece, numerous small states border upon each other, sufficiently powerful to dream of conquest though too weak to achieve it, the number of the ambitious is of necessity greatly multiplied. In proportion, however, to the thirst of power in one class was the love of freedom and independence in the other, so that the process of encroachment and resistance, of tyranny and rebellion, of usurpation and punishment, was carried on perpetually,—the oligarchy now predominating, and cutting off or sending into exile the popular leaders, while the democratic party, triumphing in its turn, inflicted similar sufferings on its enemies. By degrees, moreover, there sprang up two renowned states to represent these opposite principles, and the contests carried on by them assumed consequently many characteristics of civil war,—its obstinacy, its bitterness, its revenge.

In these struggles seas of blood were shed, and crimes of the darkest dye perpetrated. Cities, once illustrious and opulent, were razed to the ground; whole populations put to the sword or reduced to servitude; fertile plains rendered barren; men most renowned for capacity and virtue made a prey to treachery or the basest envy; the morals of great states corrupted, their glory eclipsed, their power undermined, and a way paved for the inroads of barbarian conquerors who ultimately put a period to the grandeur of the Hellenes.

Examples without number might be collected of 48these horrors. It will be sufficient to advert briefly to a few, more to remind than to inform the reader. In the troubles of Corcyra[156] the nobles and the commons alternately triumphing over each other, carried on with the utmost ruthlessness the work of extermination with abundant baseness and perfidy, some portion of which attached to the Athenian generals: the wrongs and sufferings inflicted by the Spartans on the brave but unfortunate inhabitants of Messenia, with the annual butchery of the Helots, the treacherous withdrawal of suppliants from sanctuary, and their subsequent slaughter,[157] the extermination of the people of Hysia,[158] the precipitating of neutral merchants into pits,[159] the betrayal of the cities of Chalcidice and the islands, the massacre in cold blood of the Platæans, of four thousand Athenians in the Hellespont,[160] the reduction of innumerable cities to servitude: by the Athenians, the extermination of the people of Melos,[161] the slaughter of a thousand Mitylenians, the cruelties at Skione, Ægina, and Cythera;[162] but beyond these, and beyond all, the fearful excesses of civil strife at Miletos where the common people called Gergithes having risen in rebellion against the nobles and defeated them in battle, took their children and cast them into the cattle stalls where they were crushed and trampled to death by the infuriated oxen; but the nobles renewing the contest and obtaining ultimately the victory, seized upon their enemies,—men, women, children, and covered them with pitch, to which setting fire they burnt them alive.[163]

From these glimpses of guilt and suffering, we may learn to what extremes the Greek was sometimes hurried by passion and the thirst of power. But propensities so wolfish were not predominant in his nature.[164] 49On the contrary, in private life, even the Spartans and the Dorians generally put off their cruel and severe habits, and relaxed on all proper occasions into joviality and mirth. In their social intercourse, in fact, few nations have been more cheerful or addicted to jokes and pleasantry than the Greeks, and above all the Athenians, whose hours of leisure were one continued round of gossip, sport, and laughter.[165] Never in any city were news-mongers, or even news-forgers, so numerous. In the mouth of young and old no question was so frequent as, “What is the news?” These were the sounds that circulated from rank to rank in the assembly of the people before the orators began their harangues, that were bandied to and fro in the Agora, that filled by their incessant repetition the shops of barbers and perfumers.[166] Akin to this itching ear was the passion for show and magnificence, every man, from highest to lowest, affecting as far as possible spacious dwellings, superb furniture and costly apparel. Even the bravest of the brave, the heroes of Marathon, were petits-maîtres at their toilette, and went forth to the field in purple cloaks, their hair curled, adorned with golden ornaments, and perfumed with essences. The study of philosophy itself failed in most cases to subdue this ostentatious spirit. Plato loved rich carpets and splendid raiment. Even Aristotle was an exquisite, and Æschines an acknowledged coxcomb.

From several of these weaknesses the Spartans 50were free. They cared little for news, still less for dress, and less still for cleanliness; so that their beautiful long hair and waving beards swarmed with those autochthonal beasts, for the expulsion of which there was no law in Sparta. Though neither a knowing nor cleanly race, however, their wit was bright and piercing. No people uttered pithier or finer sayings, and their taste both in music and poetry was cultivated and refined. Probably, therefore, the dining halls and gymnasia and public walks of Sparta were enlivened by as much mirth as those of any other Grecian city, where usually cheerfulness was so prevalent, that “to be as merry as a Greek,” has become a proverb in all countries.

On the third period of the Greek character it is unnecessary to speak at any length. Most of their good qualities having departed with their freedom they degenerated into a dissembling, hypocritical, fawning and double-dealing race, with little or no respect for truth, without patriotism, and without genuine valour. The literature, painting, and sculpture, to which in their period of degradation they gave birth, bore evident marks of their degeneracy, and tended by the corruption they diffused to avenge them on their conquerors the Romans; whose minds and morals they vitiated, and whose career of freedom and glory they cut short. Through their vices, however, the fame of their more noble and virtuous ancestors has greatly suffered, for the Romans contemplating the Greeks they saw before them, and implanting their opinion throughout the whole civilised world, their false and unjust views have been bequeathed to posterity; for it is still in a great measure through the Romans that people study the Greeks.

1. Plutarch, Life of Themistocles, in Langhorne’s plain and vigorous translation.

2. Mitford, History of Greece, iii. 53.

3. Paus. v. 21. 10. Palm. Desc. Gr. Ant. p. 32. Exercit. p. 397.

4. Il. β. 190. Strab. ix. 5. 297. Tauchnitz. with the authorities quoted by Palmerius, Græc. Ant. i. 3.

5. Fisch. ad Theoph. Char. p. 5. L. Bos. Ant. Gr. Zeun. i. 1.

6. Hooker, Ecc. Pol. i. p. 95.

7. Paus. viii. 1. 6; ii. 14. 4; 22. 1. Herod, ii. 56. Æsch. Prom. 859. Supp. 248. Nieb. Hist. of Rome, i. 24. Apollod. ii. 1. Serv. ad Æn. i. 628; ii. 83. Sch. Apol. Rhod. i. 580. Tzetz. ad Lyc. 177. 481. Natal. Com. p. 96. and conf. Palm. Græc. Ant. p. 41. sqq. Exercit. p. 527. with Buttm. Lexil. p. 155.

8. Philochor. Siebel. p. 14.

9. Marsh. Chron. Sec. ix. p. 130.

10. Strab. viii. 3. p. 127.

11. Apollod. i. 9. 18. The mythology describes the Pelasgi as driven out of Thessaly by the Æolians, and, under the guidance of Cyzicos, taking possession of the peninsula of that name previous to the Argonautic expedition. They fought with the Argonauts, and were afterwards expelled by the Tyrrhenians, who in their turn were driven out by the Milesians. Phot. Bib. p. 139. a. 25. Bekk.

12. Il. β 857.

13. Payne Knight, on the Worship of Priapus, p. 147.

14. Λέλεγας γάρ φασι πρότερον αὐτοὺς προσαγωρευομένους, διὰ τὸ ἀποκεντῆσαι τοὺς ἵππους προσαγορευθῆναι Ἱπποκενταύρους. Sch. Pind. Pyth. ii. 78. Cf. Schœll. Hist. de la Lit. Grecq. i. 4. seq.

15. Sch. Apoll. Rhod. i. 1024. Cf. Winkel. Hist. de l’Art. i. 317.

16. Strab. x. 3. p. 349.

17. Strab. x. 3. p. 349. Sch. Pind. Olymp. iii. 19. Pliny, iv. 2. Eustath. ad Il. β. 637. Certain ancient writers maintained that the Ætolians were called Curetes by Homer; and at a still earlier period Hyantes, and the country Hyantis.—Steph. Byzant. v. Αἰτωλ. p. 71. a. Palm. G. Ant. p. 426.—Acarnania itself was formerly called Curetis.—Demet. ap. Steph. v. Ἀθῆν. p. 45. a. Hard. ad Plin. iv. 2. p. 7.

18. Strab. vii. 7. p. 124. seq. Hesiod. Frag. 54. et 124. Gœttl.—A second Dodona is supposed to have existed in Thessaly.—See Thirl. Hist. of Greece, i. 36.—Cf. Buttm. Diss. de orac. Dodon. Orat. Att. vii. 133. sqq.

19. Il. π. 233.

20. Herod. ii. 51.

21. Justin. vii. 1. Thucyd. ii. 99.

22. Müller, Dor. i. 2.

23. Herod, i. 57.—On the situation of this city see Poppo, Proleg. ad Thucyd. ii. p. 383.

24. Justin, vii. 1. Æsch. Supp. p. 261. Cf. Thucyd. iv. 109.

25. Diod. v. p. 396. Wesseling.

26. Steph. Byz. v. Χαονία, p. 753. g.

27. Hermann, however, (Polit. Ant. p. 14,) imagines that the Caucons, Leleges, &c. were independent races, though less civilised and illustrious than the Pelasgi.

28. Plin. iv. 1.

29. Schol. ad Aristoph. Eq. 78.

30. Aristot. Meteorol. i. 14. p. 39.—Il. π. 234. seq.

31. Steph. Byz. v. Ἔφυρα, p. 367. c. Strab. vii. 7 p. 119. See also Müll. Dor. i. 6. Plut. Pyrrh. 1.—See the authorities collected by Niebuhr, i. 26.

32. Dolops was the son of Hermes, and dying in the city of Magnesia in Thessaly, had there a tomb erected by the sea-shore. Sch. Apoll. Rhod. i. 587. 558.

33. Palmer. Exercit. p. 527.—Sch. Apoll. Rhod. i. 500.—Dion. Hal. i. 3. 1.

34. Athen. xiv. 45.

35. Serv. ad. Æn. viii. 725.

36. Paus. iv. 36. 1. Sch. Apoll. Rhod. ii. 1239.

37. Pliny, iv. 14.—Even Phthiotis itself, one of the earliest cradles of the Hellenes, is recorded to have been a Pelasgian settlement. Sch. Apoll. Rhod. i. 14.—Cf. ad. i. 40. 580.

38. Sch. Apoll. Rhod. iv. 26.; i. 906. 580.

39. Steph. Byzant. v. Λάρισσ. p. 511. b, c, d. Sch. Apoll. Rhod. i. 40.

40. That the Dryopes were Pelasgi, appears from this:—they received their national appellation from Dryops, son of Lycaon, (Sch. Apoll. Rhod. i. 1218,) who was himself the son of Pelasgos.—Suid. v. Λυκ. Cf. Etym. Mag. 154, 7. 288, 32. Paus. viii. 2. 1.

41. Just. xiii. 4.—The Epicnemidian Locrians were anciently called Leleges, and by them the channel of the Cephissos was opened to the sea.—Pliny, iv. 12. Solin. vii. p. 55. Bipont. Hesiod. Frag. 25. Gœttl. Strab. vii. 7. p. 115; ix. 1. p. 248. Scymn. Chius, p. 24.—Phot. Bib. 321. b.

42. Mnaseas of Patræ ap. Sch. Pind. Pyth. iv. 104.—Dion. Hal. (Ant. Rom. i. 31) is one of those writers who considers the Pelasgi miserable because they were wanderers. Upon this notion Palmerius remarks judiciously: “Sed si tales migrationes miseræ sunt, miserrimi olim Galli majores nostri, qui usque in Asiam, post multas errores, armis victricibus penetrâsse historiæ omnes testantur, et hoc seculo miserrimi Tartari et Arabes, qui Nomadice vivunt, et sedes identidem mutantes, non se miseros existimant, et id genus vitæ Attalicis conditionibus mutare recusarent.”—Græc. Antiq. p. 60.

43. According to the reading of Callisthenes, Homer himself fixes their residence in Paphlagonia.—Cf. Strab. xiii. p. 16. viii. p. 157. Sch. Hom. Υ. 329.—Unless we adopt this reading we must suppose with the Scholiast, that they were not separately mentioned in the catalogue, because Homer confounded them with the Leleges, or because they arrived late in the war.

44. Οἱ μὲν Σκύθας φασὶν, οἱ δὲ τῶν Μακεδόνων τινὰς, οἱ δὲ τῶν Πελασγῶν. Strab. xiii. p. 16.—To the same tradition alludes the Scholiast: Ἔθνος Παφλαγονίας, οἱ δὲ Σκυθίας· οἱ δὲ τοὺς λεγομένους Καυνίους εἴπον. Il. κ. 429.

45. In the dialect of the Dryopes, this mountain was known by the name of Βηλὸς, by which word the Chaldæans denoted the highest circle of the heavens.—Etym. Mag. 196. 19 seq.

46. Plin. v. 39.

47. Paus. viii. 38. 2. Sch. Apoll. Rhod. i. 599. Meurs. Cypr. i. 28. p. 76. Steph. Byzant. v. Ὄλυμπ. p. 612. e.—Mention, moreover, is made of an eighth Olympos in Cilicia. (Sch. Apoll. ut sup.)—A ninth in Lycia. (Plin. xxi. 7.)

48. Phot. Bib. 139. a. 12. 25. Herod. vii. 42. cf. i. 57. Pomp. Mela. i. 19.

49. Sch. Apoll. Rhod. i. 40.

50. Pliny, xv. 39.

51. Plato, Cratyl. I. iv. p. 58.—See, likewise, Müller (Dor. i. 9–11), where, however, too much ingenuity by far is displayed. Another proof of relationship is supplied by Homer (Il. ρ. 288) who represents Hippothoös, a Pelasgian, insulting the body of Patroclos.—Strab. xiii. 3. p. 142.—Niebuhr (i. 28) conjectures that the Trojans were not a Phrygian, but a Pelasgian tribe; though, in reality, both Phrygians and Trojans sprang from the same stock.

52. Strab. xiii. 3. p. 144.

53. Paus. vii. 2. 8.

54. W. f. 7. p. 114.—The Carians themselves are said to have lived habitually amid inaccessible rocks.—Schol. Arist. Av. 292.

55. Athen. xiv. 21.

56. Thucyd. i. 8.

57. Paus. vii. 2. 8. Steph. Byzant. v. Ἀγύλλα, p. 30, d. Ed. Berkel.

58. Athen. xv. 12. Thirl. Hist. of Greece, i. 43. Sch. Apoll. Rhod. i. 14.

59. Pliny, ii. 31. Steph. de Urb. v. Μίλετ. p. 559. b. c. Eustath. in Dion. Perieg. 825. 456. Sch. Apoll. Rhod. i. 186.

60. Il. φ. 86. Cf. Sch. ad κ. 429.

61. A glimpse of this fact is obtained from a tradition preserved by Hecatæos:—Τοὺς δὲ Λέλεγας τινὲς μὲν τοὺς αὐτοὺς Καρσὶν εἰκὰζουσιν. Strab. vii. 7. p. 114. From other authorities we learn that the Carians were regarded as Pelasgians.—Habitator incertæ originis. Alii indigenas, sunt qui Pelasgos, quidam Cretas existimant. Pomp. Mela, i. 16.—See likewise Barnes ad Eurip. Heracl. 317. But the strongest testimony is that of Herodotus, i. 171.

62. Strabo, xiv. 2. p. 208. Thucyd. i. 8.

63. Strabo, viii. 6. p. 204.

64. Strab. ap. Palmer. Gr. Ant. i. 10, p. 65. Serv. ad Æn. viii. 725. We again find these two people united at Troy; but not mentioned in the catalogue, because their leader had fallen and there were few of them left to be ranged under Hector. Their leaders were Helicon and his sons. Their capital city “Thebes with lofty gates” had been sacked by Achilles. Strab. xiii. 3. p. 141.

65. Travels of Ali Bey.

66. Phot. Bib. 141. a.

67. According, however, to a tradition preserved by Ephoros, the city of Karides, in this island, was founded by those who escaped with Macar from the Deluge of Deucalion. Athen. iii. 66.

68. Plin. v. 39.

69. Paus. vii. 22.

70. Suid. v. Ἑρμώνιος χάρις. t. i. p. 1044.

71. Herm. Pol. Antiq. p. 13. Herod. vi. 138, 140. v. 26.

72. Herod. ii. 51.

73. Thucyd. i. 98. cum not. Wass.

74. Phot. Bib. 139. a.

75. Phot. Bib. 141. a. Both the island of Lesbos, and its city Himera were called Pelasgia. Pliny, v. 39.

76. Serv. ad Æn. iii. 131. Strabo, x. 3. Pelasgic remains are still found in the island. Pashley, Trav. in Crete, i. 152.

77. Apollod. ii. 1. Keightley, Mythol. 405.

78. Cf. Athen. xiv. 63.

79. Tzet. ad Lyc. 177. Plin. iv. 5. Sch. Apoll. Rhod. i. 1024. Nic. Damasc. in Exc. p. 492.

80. Sch. Eurip. Orest. 1245.

81. Æsch. Supp. 642. 919.

82. Strab. viii. 6. p. 202. Müll. Dor. i. 90. Frag. Incert. Pind. p. 660. Diss.

83. Aristot. Meteorol. i. 14. p. 38.

84. Strab. viii. 6. p. 204.

85. Which Strabo (viii. 3, 157,) says was the original seat of the Caucons.

86. Sch. Apoll. Rhod. iv. 264.

87. Clem. Alex. i. 6.

88. Herod. i. 146. Pliny iv. 10. Nic. Damasc. in Exc. p. 494. Paus. viii. 1. 4.

89. Paus. iii. 12. 5.—i. 1. The country, moreover, obtained the name of Lelegia, iv. i. 1.

90. Apollod. iii. 10. 3.

91. Strab. vii. 7. p. 115.

92. From whom the people were called Leleges. Paus. i. 39. 6. He was said to be the son of Poseidon and Libya, and his tomb was shown near the sea-shore, 44. 3.

93. Thirl. Hist. of Greece, i. 38.

94. Paus. iv. 1. Müll. Dor. i. 116.

95. Paus. iv. 36. i.

96. Strab. viii. 3. 156.

97. Ibid. viii. 3. 152.

98. Ibid. viii. 3. 157.

99. Ibid. viii. 3. 151.

100. Ibid. viii. 3. 157.

101. Ibid. viii. 3. 151. The Caucons, however, mentioned by Athena in the Odyssey (θ. 366.) were different from those of Triphylia. The Triphylian Caucons held all the land lying south-east of Pylos on the way to Lacedæmon. Strab. viii. 3. 157.

102. Strab. viii. 3. 157.

103. Ibid.

104. Herod. vii. 14.

105. Paus. i. 14. 2.

106. Müll. Dor. i. 12.

107. Sch. Arist. Acharn. 75.—Nubb. 971.

108. Herod. i. 56. vii. 161. Lesbon. Protrept. ii. 22. f. Conf. Wessel. ad Herod. p. 26.

109. Herod. i. 57. viii. 44.

110. Suid. v. Κραν. t. i. p. 1518. d.

111. Strab. vii. 7. p. 114.

112. Palmer. Græc. Antiq. p. 62.

113. Paus. ii. 8. 3. Philoch. p. 13. Siebel. Herod. ii. 51. seq.

114. Æschyl. Suppl. 259. sqq.

115. Gœttl. ad Hes. Theog. 311. 1014. Οἱ Τυρσηνοὶ δὲ, Πελασγοί. Sch. Apoll. Rhod. 580. The Pelasgi were the founders of Agylla, afterwards Cære in Etruria. Steph. Byzant. v. Ἀγύλλα, p. 30. d. Plin. iii. 8. Serv. ad Æn. viii. 479, who also gives another tradition according to which Agylla was built by Tyrrhenians from Lydia. Cf. Vibius, Sequest. 421, who says that the Tuscans were Pelasgi. The Poseidoniatæ, a Tuscan tribe, entirely forgot their original language, the manners of their country, and all its festivals, save one, in which they assembled to repeat the ancient names of kings, and recall the remembrance of their original home. They then separated with groans, cries, and mingling together their tears.—Athen. xiv. 81. The Bruttii are said to have been driven out of their country by the Pelasgi (Plin. iii. 8); who also settled in Lucania and Bruttium (9, 10). Pelasgi came out of Peloponnesos into Latium, settled on the Sarna, called themselves Sarrhastes, and built, among others, the town of Nuceria.—Serv. ad Æn. vii. 738. A different tradition brings them from Attica; another from Thessaly, because of the many Pelasgian relics found there.—Idem. viii. 600. Dion. Hal. i. 33.

116. Nieb. i. 22. Steph. Byzant. v. Χῖος, p. 758. b. Victor. Var. Lect. i. 10. Athen. vi. 101.

117. See Nieb. i. 24.

118. Paus. viii. 1. 5.

119. Herod. ii. 32. 51. Plato, Tim. t. vii. 22–31. 96. 142.

120. Herod. ii. 51.

121. Paus. iii. 20. 5.

122. We find mention, too, of a Pelasgian Hera, Alex. ab. Alex. p. 321. Sch. Apol. Rhod. i. 14.

123. Strab. xiii. 3. p. 144.

124. Serv. ad Æn. vi. 630. Winkelmann, ii. 557. On the Cyclopian walls of Crotona. Mus. Cortonen. pl. i. Rom. 1756.

125. Palm. Gr. Ant. p. 60. Herm. Pol. Ant. p. 13.

126. Palm. Gr. Ant. p. 72.

127. δ. 142. Sch. Apol. Rhod. iii. 1323. Natal. Com. 611.

128. Phot. Bib. 320. b.

129. They were the inventors of the trumpet. Πελασγιὰς ἔβρεμε σάλπιγξ, Nonn. Dion. 47. 568. Cf. Paus. ii. 21. 3. Gœttl. ad Hes. Theog. 311.

130. Serv. ad Æn. ix. 505.

131. Nieb. i. 23.

132. Palm. Gr. Ant. p. 55.

133. See, however, the question discussed in Palmerius, Gr. Ant. p. 49. sqq. Conf. Eustath. ad Il. β. 841.

134. Plin. vii. 56. Tacit. Annal. xi. 14. et Rupert ad loc. Hygin. Fab. 277. p. 336.

135. Serv. ad Æn. ii. 4.

136. Aristot. Meteorol. i. 14. p. 39.

137. Palm. Gr. Ant. 5.

138. I. 58.

139. See Mitford (Hist. of Greece, 81. ff.) who is full of these colonies. Herod. i. 2. Conf. Thirl. i. 185. Keightley, Hist. of Greece, p. 11. Müll. Dor. i. 16.

140. Cf. Plut. Pericl. § 13.

141. See Man. Moschop. ap Arist. Nubb. 982.

142. Respect for old age is still a remarkable feature in the Greek character. Thiersch. Etat Actuel de la Grèce, i. 292. On the same trait in their ancestors see Mitf. i. 186. Odyss. ω. 254. Plat. Repub. vi. p. 6. f. Æsch. cont. Tim. § 7.

143. See Thirlwall i. 180. sqq. and Mitford i. 181.—Among the Sauromatæ, in the time of Hippocrates, even the women mounted on horseback and fought in battle. They were not allowed to marry until they had slain three enemies.—De Aër. et. Loc. § 78. A circumstance is related of the Parthian court, illustrative of the ferocity which prevailed generally in antiquity. The monarch, it is said, kept a humble friend, whom he fed like a dog, and whipped till the blood flowed, for the slightest offence at table, apparently for the amusement of the guests.—Athen. iv. 38. This trait of barbarism was imitated by the Czar Peter, by servile historians denominated the Great, who used brutally to maltreat the princess Galitzin before his whole court.—Mem. of the Margrav. of Bayreuth, vol. i. p. 34.

144. Thucyd. i. 5.

145. Il. ρ. 212. seq. The word ξένος signified, actively and passively, the host and the guest. The rights of hospitality were hereditary, the descendants of men being compelled to entertain the descendants of those with whom their forefathers had contracted hospitable ties. Πρόξενοι sometimes signified persons who publicly received ambassadors, as Antenor among the Trojans. Agamemnon had hospitable ties with the Phrygians, because he came of Phrygian ancestors. Damm. v. ξένος. Sch. Aristoph. Eq. 347. Cf. Virg. Æn. viii. 165. et Serv. ad loc. Plat. Soph. t. iv. p. 125, where Socrates alludes to a passage in Homer, in which Zeus is said to be the companion of the wanderer, observing jocularly that the Eleatic stranger might probably have been some deity in disguise. Cf. Tomas. Tess. Hosp. c. 23. ap. Gronov. Thesaur. ix. 266. sqq. It was a proverb at Athens that the doors of the Prytaneion would keep out no stranger.—Sch. Aristoph. Ach. 127. The Lucanians had a law thus expressed: “If a stranger arriving at sunset ask a lodging of any one, let him who refuses to be his host be fined for want of hospitality.” The object, I imagine, of the law, says Ælian (Var. Hist. iv. i.) was at once to avenge the stranger and Hospitable Zeus.

146. According to Hippocrates, the inhabitants of lofty mountains, well watered, are generally hardy and of tall stature, but fierce and ferocious. In saying this, the philosopher describes the Arcadians without naming them. De Aër. et Loc. § 120.

147. Athen. iv. 74.

148. Clem. Alex. Strom. i. p. 355. l. 12. Wink. Hist. de l’Art, i. 316.

149. Among the ancient Scythians an extraordinary uniformity of feature was observable, as also among the Egyptians, (the same is the case at present,) supposed to proceed, in the one case from the rigour, in the other from the extreme heat, of the climate. Hippoc. de Aër. et Loc. § 91. But in every country, the climate being alike for all, the same effect ought to be produced on the whole population. The similitude is chiefly to be traced to the absence of all mixture with foreign races; and the equal indevelopement of the mind.

150. Poll. iv. 141.

151. Aristot. de Gen. Anim. v. i.

152. Cf. Hippoc. de Aër. et Loc. § 125, seq. § 23, seq. Casaub. ad Theoph. Char. p. 94. seq.

153. This wind, wherever it prevails, increases the appetite; and the Greeks were a hearty-eating people.—Aristot. Probl. xxvi. 45. The wind Ornithias was often so cold as to strike birds dead on the wing. Schol. Aristoph. Ach. 842.

154. Aristot. Probl. xx. 20. The black myrtle, which is much larger than the white, grew wild about the hills. (xx. 36.) The southern breezes were considered highly salutary to the plants of the Thriasian plain. (xxvi. 18.)

155. See the savage anecdote of Stratocles in Plutarch. Demet. § 12.

156. Thucyd. iii. 70. sqq.

157. Ælian. Var. Hist. vi. 7. Cf. Eurip. Andr. 445. seq.

158. Thucyd. v. 83.

159. Thucyd. ii. 67.

160. Pausan. ix. 32. 9.

161. Thucyd. v. 126; iii. 50.

162. Thucyd. v. 32; iv. 57.

163. Heracl. Pont. ap. Athen. xii. 26.

164. Cf. Wink. Hist. de l’Art, i. 320. Thiersch, Etat. Act. de la Grèce, i. p. 290. sqq; and for their disinterestedness, Pashley, Trav. in Crete, i. 221.

165. Loud laughter was nevertheless considered vulgar among the Greeks.—Plat. Repub. t. vi. 112. The Athenians were addicted to the language of shrugging and nodding, κ.τ.λ. To nod upwards was to deny, downwards to confess. Sch. Aristoph. Ach. 112.

166. Aristotle says that the orators of Athens, who governed the people, passed sometimes the whole of the day seeing mountebanks or jugglers, or talking with those who had travelled as far as the Phasis or Borysthenes; and that they never read anything save the Supper of Philoxenos and that not all.—Athen. i. 10. It was in the opinion of these persons perhaps, that “a great book was a great evil.”—Id. iii. 1.



To render still clearer the point we have been insisting on in the foregoing chapter, it may be useful to take a rapid survey of the geography of the country, and enter somewhat more at length into its peculiar configuration and productions.[167] Considered as a whole, the most remarkable feature in the aspect of Greece consists in the great variety of forms which its surface assumes in the territories of the numerous little states into which the country was anciently divided. Of these no two resemble each other, whether in physical structure, climate or productions; so that it may be said that in general the atmosphere of Greece is mild,[168] but not in every part, for within its narrow boundaries are found nearly all grades of temperature. The inhabitants of Elis and the valley of the Eurotas are exposed to a degree of heat little inferior to that of Egypt, while the settlers about Olympos, Pindos and Dodona, with the rough goat-herds of Parnassos, Doris and the Arcadian mountains experience the rigours of an almost Scandinavian winter. In this extraordinary country the 52palm tree and the myrtle flourish within sight of the pine, the larch, and the silver fir of the north. In several of the islands and on parts of the continent certain tropical birds, as the peacock and the golden pheasant, have long been naturalised, while in other districts snipes and woodcocks[169] appear early; storms of sleet and hail are frequent, and the summits of mountains are capped with eternal snow.[170] A no very elevated range of hills separates the marsh miasmata and wit-withering fogs of Bœotia,[171] the home of gluttony and stupidity, from the bland transparent cheerful atmosphere and sweet wholesome soil of Attica, where, as a dwelling-place for man, earth has reached her highest culminating point of excellence, and where, accordingly, her noblest fruits, wisdom and beauty, have ripened most kindly.

To proceed, however, with an outline of the country: along the shores, more especially towards the west, rugged cliffs of great elevation impend over the deep, and in stormy weather present an appearance highly desolate and forbidding. But descending the Ionian sea, and doubling Cape Crio, the south westernmost promontory of Crete, the approach towards the tropics is felt both in the air and in the landscape. The nights are beyond description lovely, the stars appear with increased size and brilliancy,[172] and morning spreads over both land and wave a beauty but faintly 53reflected even in poetry. Every rock and headland, clothed with the double light of mythology and the sun, emerges from the obscurities of the dawn glittering with dew and fresh as at the creation. The slopes of the mountains, feathered with hanging woods, lead the eye upwards to those aspiring peaks, the cradle of many a Hellenic legend, where snows pale and shining as those of Mont Blanc,[173] descending on all sides in wavy gradations to meet the forests, rest for ever, and at the opening and the close of day exhibit that crimson blush which we observe among the higher Alps. All the lowlands at their base are meantime covered, perhaps, with heavy mists, while lighter and more fleecy vapours hang here and there upon the mountain tops, augmenting their grandeur by allowing the imagination like a Titan to pile them up as high as it pleases towards heaven. The coasts of eastern Hellas, including those of Eubœa, along the whole line of Thessaly to the confines of Macedonia, are bold and rocky, frowning like the ramparts of freedom upon the slaves of the Asiatic plains.

Traversed in almost every direction by mountain chains infinitely ramified and towering in many places to a vast height, Greece has, likewise, its elevated table-lands, lakes, bogs, morasses, with extensive open downs and heaths. Lying between the thirty-sixth and forty-first degrees of north latitude, and excepting on the Illyrian and Macedonian frontier everywhere surrounded by the sea, it may in many respects be said to enjoy the most advantageous position on the globe. From the barbarian countries of Macedonia and Illyria it is divided by a series of contiguous mountain ridges, which commencing with Olympos, (covered all the year round with snow, amid which the poet Orpheus[174] was interred,) 54and including the Cambunian range, with the lofty peak of Lacmos, stretches westward across the continent, and terminates in the stormy Acroceraunian promontory. The most northern provinces of Hellas, immediately within this boundary and west of the Pindos range, were Chaonia and Molossia, and towards the east Thessaly—a circular valley of exceeding fertility, encompassed by chains of lofty mountains. This province contains the largest and richest plains in Greece; and many of the names most hallowed by its religious traditions and most renowned in poetry, belong to Thessaly. Here, in fact, was the supposed cradle of the Hellenes. From hence sailed the Argo and incomparably the greatest of all the heroes who fought at Troy

“—--mixed with auxiliar gods.”

The geography of Thessaly is remarkable. According to a tradition already mentioned it was once a mountain-girt lake, the waters of which augmented by unusual rains burst their stupendous barriers and tore themselves a way through opposing rocks to the sea. Among the tribes of northern Hindùstân a similar tradition prevails respecting the formation of the Vale of Kashmèr; and whether in these cases the voice of fame has preserved or not an historical truth, such events may be regarded as not improbable in countries abounding with mountain lakes whose beds lie considerably above the level of the sea. The lofty ridge which skirts the shores of the Ægæan, and is said to have been rent in remote antiquity by the waters of the lake, presents a highly varied aspect to the approaching mariner. First on sailing northward Pelion comes in sight: a broad ridge rising from the waves like a huge uncrenalated 55wall, and covered in Homeric times with fiercely waving woods. To this succeeds Ossa, with its steep conical peak, clothed with durable snows and divided by a narrow dusky gap from Olympos. This gap is Tempe,[175] whose savage beauties poets and sophists have vied with each other in describing, though the reality is still finer than their pictures. On entering the defiles of the mountains a narrow glen hemmed in by precipitous rocks, bare in some places, in others verdant with hanging oaks, receives the waters of the Peneios, which, like the Rhone at St. Maurice and the Nile at Silsilis, in some places fill up the whole breadth of the pass, leaving scarcely room for a straitened road carried over rocky ledges. Farther on they diffuse themselves over a broad pebbly bed, and narrow prospects are opened up through woody vistas into soft pastural recesses, carpeted with emerald turf, and perfumed with flowers and shrubs of the richest fragrance. Anon the vale contracts again, gloomy cliffs frown over the stream and sadden its surface with their shadows, until at length the whole chain is traversed and the Peneios precipitates its laughing waters into the Ægæan.[176] Crossing the great range of Pindos we enter Epeiros,[177] a country anciently divided into many provinces, 56and partly inhabited by semi-barbarous tribes, where on the borders of a lake singularly beautiful and picturesque stood the fane and oracle of Dodonæan Zeus. Homer, accustomed to the mild skies of Ionia, speaks of its climate as rude and severe. But Byron, born among the hungry rocks of Caledonia, and habituated to the savage features of the north, was smitten with its wild charms, and thus describes one of the scenes in the neighbourhood near the sources of the Acheron.

Monastic Zitza, from thy shady brow,
Thou small but favoured spot of holy ground,
Where’er we gaze,—around, above, below,
What rainbow tints, what magic charms are found!
Rock, river, forest, mountain,—all abound;
And bluest skies that harmonize the whole.
Beneath, the distant torrent’s rushing sound
Tells where the volumed cataract doth roll
Between those hanging rocks which shock yet please the soul.

Clusters of islands clothed with poetical verdure stretch along the coast thickly indented by diminutive bays and embouchures of rivers. On a point of the Acarnanian shore[178] in the mouth of the Ambracian gulf, the Commonwealth of Rome which had foundered so many rival states suffered final shipwreck, and the shores of avenged Hellas were strewed with the wrecks of Roman freedom. Ætolia, Doris, Locris, Phocis, in which was the mystic navel of Gaia,[179] and the deep valley of Bœotia, divided from each other by mountains or by considerable rivers, minutely intersected by streams, and broken up into a perpetual succession of hill and dale, conduct us southward to the Corinthian Gulf and the borders of Attica.

Reserving this illustrious division of Hellas, and Megaris which originally formed a part of it, for the close of our rapid outline, we enter the Peloponnesos,—a country remarkable both for its physical configuration, 57and for the races which anciently inhabited it. Connected with the continent by the narrow isthmus of Corinth it immediately expands westward and southward into a peninsula of large dimensions, in form resembling a ragged plantain leaf or outstretched palm.[180] Like the northern division of Hellas the Peloponnesos is rough with mountain chains, and belted round with cliffs. Towards the centre it swells into a lofty plateau, known to antiquity under the name of Arcadia. Foreign poets, misapprehending the nature of the country, have described this province as a succession of soft pastoral scenes.[181] But its real character is very different, consisting chiefly of an extensive table-land, supported by vast mountain buttresses, which in some places tower into peaks of extraordinary elevation. It is broken up into innumerable valleys and deep glens, overhung with wild precipitous rocks, clothed with gloomy forests, and buried during a great part of the year in clouds and snow. The inhabitants were rough and unpromising as the soil, distinguished like the modern Swiss for no quality but bravery, which, like them too, they sold with a mercenary recklessness to the best bidder.[182] Achaia is a slip of sea-coast sloping towards the north. Elis, a succession of beautiful plains with few eminences intervening, well watered and renowned for their fine breed of mares. This, the Holy land of the Hellenes, sacred every rood to Zeus, was to the Greeks a place of pilgrimage, as Mecca to the Arabs and Palestine to the Christians of the West. In the Homeric age it was confined within narrow limits, its sea-coast only extending from Buprasion to the promontory of Hyrminè, scarcely 58indeed, so far, as Myrsinos is said to be its last city towards the north, and Buprasion is mentioned rather as a separate state. It was divided from Achaia by Mount Scollis, which Homer calls “the rock Olenia,” and Aleision is the boundary to the south; consequently, neither Mount Pholöe nor Olympia, nor the Alpheios was then included in Elis, still less Triphylia.

Argolis, on the opposite side of the peninsula, is traversed by a broad ridge of hills, which, branching off from Mount Cyllene and Parthenion in Arcadia, abounds in deep ravines and spacious natural caverns. It contains, however, several plains of much fertility; but, though marshy and subject to malaria, the neighbourhood of the capital is deficient in good water. The fame of Argos[183] rests almost wholly on a fabulous basis: it was great in the infancy of Greece; it took the lead in the Trojan war; but, with the irruption of the half-barbarous Dorians into the Peloponnesos, the glory of the old heroic race

“that fought at Thebes and Ilion,”

waned visibly, and Argos and its twin city, Mycenæ, sank into comparative insignificance.

Laconia consists of a hollow valley, enclosed between two mountain chains, proceeding from the great Arcadian barrier, Parnon and Kronios, and stretching southward to the sea. Down the centre of this vale flows the Eurotas, whose sources lie above Belemina, among the steep recesses of Taygetos.[184] 59Though enlarged by several tributary brooks, it preserves, until some way below Sparta, the character of a mountain torrent; but after precipitating itself in a romantic sparkling cascade, appears for some time to be lost in a morass. Escaping, however, from the swamp, it flows during the remainder of its course over a firm gravelly bed to the Laconian gulf. Immediately above Sparta the valley narrows exceedingly; but, at this point, the hills receding suddenly on both sides, sweep round a small circular plain, and, a short distance below the city, again approach, and press upon the bed of the Eurotas.[185] The site of Sparta, therefore, resembles on a small scale that of the Egyptian Thebes, which is similarly hemmed round by the Arabian and Libyan mountains. It follows, too, that the condition of the atmosphere must to a certain extent be alike in both places; for the ridges of Taygetos and Thornax rising to a great height, not only intercept the cooler breezes from the west and north, but, bending amphitheatrically round the plain, concentrate the sun’s rays, which, being bare and rocky, they reflect with great force. In summer, therefore, the heat is intense: in winter, on the other hand, their great elevation suffices morning and evening to exclude the slanting beams, thus causing a 60degree of cold little inferior, perhaps, to what is felt in the highlands of Arcadia.

But though lofty and bleak, the uplands of Laconia are not incapable of cultivation, and in many places were anciently covered with forests of plane trees. Their eastern slopes were likewise clothed with vines, irrigated, as in Switzerland and Burgundy, by small rills, conducted through artificial channels from springs high up in the mountains.[186] The summits of Taygetos are waste and wild; rent and shattered by frequent earthquakes, lashed by rain-storms, and here and there bored and undermined by gnawing streams, working their way to the valley, it presents the aspect of a fragment of nature in its decrepitude. South, however, of Mount Evoras the country opens into a plain of considerable fertility, extending eastward towards Mount Zarax and the sea. On the Messenian frontier, also, are many valleys highly productive. This portion of Lacedæmon obtained in the time of Augustus the name, given perhaps in mockery, of the land of the Eleuthero Lacones, or “Free Laconians.”[187]

Protected on the land side by mountains difficult to be traversed, and presenting towards the sea an inhospitable harbourless coast, Laconia seems marked out by nature to be the abode of an unsocial people. Like that of many Swiss cantons, its climate is generally harsh and rude, vexed by cold winds alternating with burning heats, and appears to communicate analogous qualities to the minds of its inhabitants, who have been in all ages remarkable for valour untempered by humanity. In such a country the nobler arts can never be completely naturalised. The virus imbibed from nature will find its way into the character, and defy the influence of culture and of government.

Messenia presents, in every respect, a contrast to 61Laconia. Along the sea-coast, indeed, particularly from Pylos to Cape Aeritas, its barrenness is complete; neither woods nor thickets, nor any vestige of verdure being visible upon the red cinder-like precipices beetling over the sea, or sloping off into grey mountains above. But having passed this Alpine barrier, we find the land sinking down into rich plains, which on the banks of the broad Pamisos were anciently, for their luxuriant fertility,[188] denominated “the Happy.” North, and about the sources of the Balyra, the Amphitos, and the Neda the scenery grows highly romantic and picturesque, the eye commanding from almost every elevated point innumerable narrow meandering glens, each with its bubbling streamlet circling round green eminences, clothed to their summits with hanging woods. Messenia, which, as soon inhabited, must have been wealthy, appears to have been a favourite resort of poets in remote antiquity. Here the Thracian Thamyris, in a contest, as was fabled, with the Muses, lost his sight, together with the gift of song; and in a small rocky island on its coast,—the haunt, when I saw it, of sea-mews and cormorants,—Sparta received from an Athenian general of mean abilities one of the most galling defeats recorded in her annals.

Returning out of the Peloponnesos by way of the Isthmos, and quitting at the Laconian rocks the territories of Corinth, we enter the Megaris,[189] originally, as I have before observed, a part of the Athenian territories. Attica is a triangular promontory, of small extent, projecting into the Myrtöan sea, between Argolis and Eubœa. A mountain chain, of no great elevation, forms, under several names, the boundary between this country and Bœotia; and Mount Kerata, in later times, divided it from Megaris. On every other side Attica is washed by the sea, which, together with nearly all the circumjacent islands, was, in antiquity, regarded as a part of its empire.[190] This minute 62division of Greece, fertile in nothing but great men, is seldom viewed with any eye to the picturesque. Satisfied that Athens stood there, we commonly ask no more. Genius has breathed over it a perfume sweeter than the thyme of its own hills,—has painted it with a beauty surpassing that of earth,—rendered its atmosphere redolent for ever of human greatness and human glory,—and cast so dazzling an illusion over its very dust and ruins, that they appear more beautiful than the richest scenes and most perfect structures of other lands.

Independently, however, of its historical importance, Attica is invested with numerous charms. Consisting of an endless succession of hill and dale,[191] with many small plains interspersed; and swelling towards its northern frontier into considerable mountains, it presents a miniature of the whole Hellenic land.[192] In antiquity its uplands and ravines and secluded hollows were clothed with wood,—oaks, white poplars, wild olive-trees, or melancholy pines. The arbutus, the agnus castus, wild pear, heath, lentisk, and other flowering shrubs decked its hill-sides and glens; on the brow of every eminence wild thyme, sweet marjoram, with many different kinds of odoriferous plants exhaled their fragrance beneath the foot;[193] while rills of the clearest and sweetest water in the world, leaped down the rocks, or conducted their 63sparkling currents through its romantic and richly cultivated valleys. Southward, among the mountains of scoriæ of the mining district, springs of silver[194] may be said to have usurped the place of fountains. The face of the country is nearly everywhere arid and barren,—the plains are parched,—the gullies encumbered with loose shingle,—the eminences unpicturesque and dreary; yet wherever vegetation takes place, the virtue of the Attic soil displays itself in the production of fragrant flowers, whence the bee extracts the most delicious honey in the world, superior in quality to that of Hybla or Hymettos.

Comparative barrenness may, however, upon the whole, be considered as characteristic of Attica. Indeed, Plato,[195] in a very curious passage, likens to a body emaciated by sickness the hungry district round the capital, where the soil has collapsed about the rocks. But from this innumerable advantages have arisen. The earth being light and porous permits whatever rain falls immediately to sink and disappear, as in Provence,[196] which, more than any other part of Europe, resembles Attica. Hence, except in some few inconsiderable spots,[197] no bogs, no marshes exist to poison the air with cold effluvia: a ridge of mountains protects it against the northern blasts: mild breezes from the ocean prevail in almost all seasons: snow seldom lies above a few hours on the ground. The atmosphere, accordingly, kept constantly free from terrene exhalations, is buoyant and sparkling as on the Libyan desert, when, at noon, every elevated rock appears to be encircled by a luminous halo.[198] In air so pure the 64act of breathing is a luxury which produces a smile of satisfaction on the countenance; the mind performs its operations with ease and rapidity; and life, everywhere sweet, appears to have a finer relish than in countries exposed to watery and unwholesome fogs. It was perfectly philosophical, therefore, in Plato,[199] to regard Attica as a place designed by nature to bring the human intellect to the greatest ripeness and perfection, a quality extended by Aristotle to Greece at large. The same atmospheric properties were favourable to health and long life, warding off many disorders common in other parts of the country.

A learned and ingenious but fanciful writer[200] considers Peloponnesos to have been the heart of Greece. Following up this idea, we must unquestionably pronounce Athens to have been the head, the seat of thought, the place where its arts and its wisdom ripened. But ere we touch upon the capital, which cannot be slided over with a cursory remark, it will be necessary to enter into some little detail respecting the demi or country towns of Attica,[201] of which in the flourishing times of the republic there existed upwards of one hundred and seventy-four. Of these small municipal communities, of which too little is known, several were places of considerable importance, possessing their temples, their Agoræ, their theatres, filled with walks and surrounded by impregnable fortifications. The Athenians regarded Athens, indeed, as the Hebrews did Jerusalem, in the light of their great and holy city, the sanctuary of their religion and of their freedom. But this did not prevent their preferring the calm simplicity of a country life to the noisier pleasures of the town. Many distinguished families, accordingly, had houses in these demi, or villas in their vicinity. Here, also, 65several of the greatest men of Athens were born: Thucydides was a native of Halimos,[202] Sophocles of Colonos, Epicurus of Gargettos, Plato of Ægina, Xenophon of Erchia, Tyrtæos, Harmodios, and Aristogeiton of Aphidnæ, Antiphon of Rhamnos, and Æschylus of Eleusis.

In other points of view, also, the towns and villages of Attica possessed great interest. They long continued to be the seats of the primitive worship of the country, where the tutelar deities of particular districts, of earth-born race, were adored with that affectionate faith and that fervency of devotion which peculiarly belong to small religious communities. The gods they worshipped appeared almost to be their fellow citizens, and to exist only for their protection. In fact, they were the patron saints of the villages. Fabulous legends and historical traditions combined with religion to shed celebrity over the Attic demi. There was hardly in the whole land a single inhabited spot which did not figure in their poetry or in their annals as the scene of some memorable exploit. Aphidnæ[203] was renowned, for example, as the place whence the Dioscuri bore away their sister Helen, after her rape by Theseus, in revenge for which the youthful heroes devastated the whole district. “Grey Marathon,”[204] as Byron aptly terms it, was embalmed for ever in Persian blood, and rendered holy by the vast barrows raised there by the state over the ashes of its fallen warriors. Rhamnos on the Attic Dardanelles became famous for its statue of Nemesis, originally of Aphrodite, the work of Diodotos or Agoracritos of Paros, not unworthy to be compared for size and beauty with the productions of Pheidias. The irruption of the Peloponnesians conferred a melancholy celebrity 66on Deceleia,[205] and Phylæ obtained a place in history as the stronghold where Thrasybulos gathered together the small but gallant band which avenged the cause of freedom upon the thirty. Of Eleusis,[206] it is enough to say that there the ceremonies of initiation into the mysteries were performed.

The capital of Megara, like Athens, stood a short distance from the sea; but was joined by long walls to its harbour Nisæa, protected from the weather by the Minoan promontory. In sailing thence to the Peiræeus we pass several islands, none of which, however, are of any magnitude, save Salamis, in remote antiquity a separate state governed by its own laws. The old capital, already deserted in the time of Strabo, stood on the southern coast over against Ægina; but the principal town of later times was situated on a bay at the root of a tongue of land projecting toward that part of Attica[207] where Xerxes sat to behold his imperial armada annihilated by the republicans of Hellas. Salamis was known of old under various names,—Skiras, Cychræa and Pituoussa, from the Pitus, or pine tree, by which its rocks and glens were in many places shaded. Immediately before the engagement in which his navy was destroyed, the Persian monarch sought to unite Salamis to the continent by a dam two stadia in length; his project, had it succeeded, would have ruined the ferrymen of Amphialè, a class of individuals whose operations Solon judged of sufficient importance to be regulated by a particular article in his code. Of the smaller islets that form the outworks of the Attic 67coast, little need be said, since they were nearly all barren, and inhabited only by a few legendary traditions. The tomb of Circe was shown on the larger of the Pharmacoussæ; and the island of Helena, east of the Samian promontory obtained the reputation of having been the spot where the faithless queen of Menelaus consummated her guilt.[208]

Ægina belonged to Attica only by conquest; but as when subdued its subjection was complete and lasting, it must not be altogether omitted in this glance over the home territories of the Great Demos. Like Attica itself, the island lying in the Saronic Gulf is of a triangular shape. By proximity it belongs to the Peloponnesos, being within thirty stadia of the Methanæan Chersonesos, while to Salamis is a voyage of ninety stadia, and to the Peiræeus one hundred and twenty. But the sea itself having been considered a part of Attica, whose flag, like that of England, streamed for ages triumphantly over its billows, the islands also which it surrounded fell one by one into the hands of the people, and this small Doric isle among the rest. A number of diminutive islets, or rather rocks, cluster round the shores of Ægina, some barren and treeless, others indued with a certain degree of fertility and verdant with pine woods.

The most remarkable objects in Ægina were placed at the angles of the island. The city and harbour towards the west, on the east looking towards Attica the temple of Athena, and, near its southern extremity, “a magnificent conical mountain, which from its grandeur, its form, and its historical recollections, is the most remarkable among the natural features of Ægina.”[209] An eminence so lofty and in shape so beautiful would naturally be an object of much interest 68in so small an island. The local superstitions would necessarily cluster round it, as around Ida in Crete and Olympos in Thessaly. Accordingly on the summit of this mountain the fables of Ægina represent King Æacos praying, in the name of the whole Hellenic nation, to Zeus for rain, as the prophet prayed for the Israelites, and with equal success. Here, therefore, a recent traveller has with great judgment fixed the site of the Panhellenion, near the spot where a chapel, dedicated to the prophet Elias, now stands. In dimensions Ægina, according to Scylax, ranked twelfth among the isles of Hellas. Strabo attributes to it a circumference of one hundred and eighty stadia; but Sir William Gell, in his Argolis,[210] considers its perimeter, not including the fluctuations of the bays and creeks, to be not less than two hundred and ten stadia, and its square contents three thousand one hundred and sixty-four stadia, or forty-one square miles.[211] The interior is rocky, rough, and perforated with caverns, in which, according to fabulous legends, the Myrmidons resided, and Chabrias afterwards lay in ambush for the Spartan Gorgopos and his Æginetan allies.[212] A light thin soil nourishes but sparing vegetation on the mountains, but several of the small valleys, filled with earth washed down by rains from the uplands, are rich and fertile, watered by springs and rivulets, and beautified with groves of imperishable verdure.[213]

Much has been written on the extent and population of Attica, respecting which most of the philosophers of the last generation entertained very erroneous ideas. An examination of their statements might still, perhaps, be interesting; but it would lead me far beside the scope of my present work, and occupy space that can be better filled up. According to the most careful calculation Attica contained seven hundred 69and twenty square miles, or taking into account the island of Salamis seven hundred and forty-eight. The whole of this extremely limited space swarmed, however, with population; for even so late[214] as 317 B. C. after all the calamities which the republic had undergone, Attica still contained five hundred and twenty-seven thousand six hundred and sixty persons, or nearly seven hundred and seventy-three to the square mile, a proportion much higher than is found in the most thickly peopled counties of England.

This, however, taking into account the form of government, the industrious habits, and extreme frugality of the people, is entirely within the bounds of probability. But in what is related of the population of Ægina, the calculations current among learned authors are so extravagant as to exceed all belief. Müller and Boeckh,[215] who on other occasions, and sometimes very unseasonably affect scepticism, unhesitatingly admit the account in Athenæus, which attributes four hundred and seventy thousand slaves to the Æginetans.[216] To these the former adds a free population of forty thousand, making the whole amount to upwards of half a million, or twelve thousand four hundred and fifty-seven to the square mile. Mr. Clinton,[217] clearly perceiving the absurdity of this calculation, proposes to read seventy thousand, which will leave a population in the proportion of two thousand six hundred and eighty-two to the square mile. The passage in Athenæus is no doubt, as Bochart suspects,[218] corrupt, and this being the case nothing is left but to determine from analogy the population of Ægina, which, supposing it equally dense with that of Attica would have amounted to something more than thirty thousand souls.

167. Cf. Hermann, Pol. Ant. § 6. Müll. Dor. ii. 425.

168. Varro gave the preference to the soil and climate of Italy, where everything good was produced in perfection. He thought no barley to be compared with the Campanian, no wheat with the Apulian, no rye with the Falernian, no oil with the Venafran. The whole country was so thickly planted with trees that it seemed to be an orchard. Not even Phrygia itself abounded more in vineyards; nor was Argos so fertile as parts of Italy, though it was said to produce from ten to fifteen pipes the juger. De Re Rustica, i. 2. p. 46. b.

169. “Woodcocks and snipes, I am informed, visited the neighbourhood of Attica during the winter in considerable quantities. I heard the curlew and the red shank cry along the marsh to the right of the Piræus.” Sibth. in Walp. Mem. i. 76.

170. Cramer, Desc. of Greece, i. 8.

171. Βοιωτία ὗς. Pind. Olymp. vi. 151. Cram. ii. 200.—Thick and foggy atmosphere. Hipp. de Aër. § 55. Plat. De Legg. v. t. vii. p. 410. seq—Cicero observes:—“Etenim licet videre acutiora ingenia et ad intelligendum acutiora eorum, qui terras incolant eas, in quibus aër sit purus ac tenuis, quàm illorum, qui utantur crasso cœlo atque concreto.” De Nat. Deor. ii. 16. “The purple and the grey heron frequent the marshes of Bœotia.” Sibth. in Walp. Mem. i. 76.

172. I never saw the Pleiades appear so large as on the coast of Messenia. See Coray, Disc. Prel. ad Hipp. de Aër. et Loc. § 115.

173. Even the Cheviot hills are sometimes (as in 1838) covered all the summer with patches of snow, on which occasions the peasants are said to pay no rent. Tyne Mercury, July 1, 1838.

174. Paus. ix. 30. 9. Anthol. Græc. vii. 9. Menag. ad Diog. Laert. Proœm. § 5. Here, too, one of the three Corybantes, when he had been slain by his brethren, found a grave. Clem. Alex. Protrept. c. xi. t. i. p. 16. From the blood of this man sprang the herb parsley.

175. Æl. Var. Hist. iii. 1. Holland 291–95. Clarke iv. 290–97. Dodwell, 109. sqq. Gell. Itiner. of Greece, 280.

176. Aristotle accounts for what every traveller will have remarked, the extreme blueness of this sea, which he contrasts with the whitish waves of the Pontos Euxeinos. In the latter case, he observes, the air, thick and whitish, is reflected from the surface of the turbid waters; while, in the Ægæan, the sea, transparent to a great depth, reflects the bright rich colour of the sky.—Prob. xxiii. 6. He adds that the sea is more transparent during the prevalence of the north wind.

177. Though this country be not generally included by geographers within the limits of Hellas, I have considered it as a part of Greece, because Homer evidently so thought it. He reckons the Perrhæbi and Ænianes, and the dwellers about the cold Dodona, among the followers of Agamemnon, that is classes them among the Greeks.—Il. β. 749–755. The ancient name of the country is said to have been Æsa.—Etym. Mag. 39. 19. Cf. Steph. Byzant. v. Δωδών. p. 319. d. sqq.

178. Where stood a celebrated Temple of Apollo.—Thucyd. i. 29.

179. The “rocky Pytho” afterwards Delphi. Iliad, β. 519.

180. Strb. viii. 2. 140. Dion. Perieg. ap. Palm. Gr. Ant. 16.

181. Cf. Palm. Gr. Ant. 61. On the climate of Arcadia see Aristot. Problem. xxvii. 60. He observes that the winds, blowing in from the sea, were not colder there than in other parts of Greece; but that during calms the exhalations from the stagnant waters were particularly chill. See also Hippoc. de Aër. et Loc. § 120.

182. Cf. Steph. Byzant. v. Ἀρκας. p. 166. b. seq.

183. Il. β. 559. Mases, an Argive city, is mentioned by Homer in conjunction with Ægina, which island also belonged at that time to Argos. This place, in later ages, was the harbour of the Hermioneans.—Pausan. ii. 36, 83. Cf. Müll. Æginet. p. 85.

184. This mountain (which in one place Vibius Sequester converts into a river, p. 19, Cf. Virg. Georg. ii. 487,) was sacred to Bacchos. Serv. ad. Virg. ut sup.—Strabo describes it at length, and Pausanias observes that it was adapted to the chase. On its summit horses were sacrificed to the sun.—Paus. iii. 20. 2. Cf. Oberlin, ad Vib. Sequest. p. 375.

185. Coronelli, Mém. Hist. et Géog. du Roy. de la Morée, &c. p. 90. sqq. Poucqueville, Travels in the Morea, p. 87. Chateaubriand, Itinéraire, t. i. pp. 102–118. Cf. Thiersch, Etat Actuel de la Grèce, i. 287, who gives the following romantic glimpse of the Laconian valley:—“Oh! que ce pays était beau, lorsqu’au mois de Mai 1832, nous traversâmes ses ravissantes vallées au milieu des montagnes de la Laconie, et ses villages situés au bord de ruisseaux limpides et entourés d’arbres fruitiers tout en fleurs! Quelle était belle cette terre, lorsque, le soir, revenant des ruines de Sparte à Mistra, nous étions comme baignés de ces parfums qu’exhalent les orangers qui remplissent la plaine, et rafraichis par la brise délicieuse descendue des montagnes majestueuses du Taygète, dont les cimes, encore couvertes de neige, semblaient toucher le ciel parsemé d’étoiles! Nôtre sommeil fut interrompu la nuit par le chant mélodieux d’une troupe de rossignols.”

186. Aleman, ap. Athen. i. 57.

187. Strab. viii. 6. p. 190. Paus. iii. 21. 6.

188. Cf. Sibth. in Walp. Mem. i. 60.

189. Strab. ix. i. p. 232.

190. Strab. ix. 1. Philoch. Siebel. p. 28.

191. Mardonius, in fact, found Attica too hilly for the operations of cavalry:—οὔτε ἱππασίμη ἡ χώρη ἦν ἡ Ἀττική.—Herod. ix. 13.

192. See, in Plato’s Critias, t. vii. p. 153. the eulogium of its beauty and fertility. At present “the plain of Attica, if we except the olive-tree, is extremely destitute of wood, and we observed, on our return, the peasants driving home their asses laden with Passerina hirsuta for fuel.”—Sibthorp in Mitchell, Knights, p. 155. But the description by no means applies to the whole country. At the foot of Cithæron there are still forests four hours in length.—Sibth. in Walp. Mem. i. 64.

193. This is accounted for by the dryness and purity of the atmosphere; for, as Pliny remarks, “hortensiorum odoratissima quæ sicca; ut ruta, mentha, apium, et quæ in siccis nascantur.”—Hist. Nat. xxi. 18. p. 46.

194. Ἀργύρου πηγή τις αὐτοῖς ἐστι, βησαυρὸς χθονός.—Æschyl. Pers. 238. In all countries the waters of mining cantons are bad.—Hippocr. de Aër. et Loc. § 35.

195. Critias, t. vii. p. 154. Words. Athens and Attica, 62.

196. Coray, Notes sur Hippoc. De Aër. et Loc. § 126. t. ii. p. 403.

197. Vide Sch. Aristoph. Lys. 1032.

198. Aristid. i. 187. Jebb. Aristophanes appears to speak of the brilliance of its atmosphere in the following verse (Ran. 155):

ὅψει τι φῶς κάλλιστον, ὥσπερ ἐνθάδε.

though Spanheim supposes him to mean the light of the world generally.—Not. in loc.

199. Plat. Tim. t. vii. pp. 12. 15. sqq. Bekk. Aristot. Pol. vii. 6. Cf. Coray, Disc. Prelim. ad Hippoc. De Aër. et Loc. p. cxxix. sqq.

200. Müll. Dor. i. 76.

201. See Col. Leake, Trans. Roy. Soc. Lit. i. 114–283.

202. Poppo, Prolegg. in Thucyd. i. 22.

203. Paus. i. 17. 5.

204. Paus. i. 32. 3. sqq. “We observed the long-legged plover near Marathon; the grey plover and the sand plover on the eastern coast of Attica.” Sibth. Walp. Mem. i. 76. Chandler, ii. 83.

205. Where Sophocles and his ancestors were buried. Chandler, ii. 95.

206. Clem. Alex. Protrept. § 2. t. i. p. 16. seq. where he relates the story of Demeter and Baubo.

207. On one of the projecting roots of Mount Ægaleus, which anciently, according to Statius, was well-wooded, and clothed like Hymettos with thyme.—Theb. xii. 631. Suid. v. Μᾶσσον. This mountain produced likewise an abundance of figs (Theoc. Eidyll. i. 147), which were considered the best in Attica.—Athen. xiv. 66. Meurs. Rel. Att. c. i. p. 4. seq. Cf. Leake, Topog. 71.

208. Il. γ. 445. where we find its ancient name to have been Kranäe.—Cf. Eurip. Helen. 1672. Strab. ix. 1. p. 245.—Pausanias (i. 35. 1) has preserved another tradition representing Helen as landing here on her return from Troy.—Chandler, ii. 7.

209. Wordsworth, Athens and Attica, p. 262.

210. Ib. 28. ap. Müll. Æginet. p. 8.

211. Cf. Clint. Fast. Hellen. ii. 335.

212. Xen. Hellen. v. 1. 11.

213. Chandler (ii. 12) speaks of the whole island as covered with trees.

214. Clint. Fast. Hellen. ii. 386. sqq. Cf. Boeckh, Pub. Econ. of Athens, i. 44. seq. On the number of the citizens vide Philoch. Siebel, p. 17. 28. Schol. Vesp. Aristoph. 709. Strab. ix. i. t. ii. p. 234. Hermann. Pol. Ant. § 18. Bochart, Geog. Sac. i. 286.

215. Æginet. 128. Econ. of Athens, i. 55, seq.

216. Deipnosoph. vi. 103. Cf. Schol. Pind. Olymp. viii. 30.

217. Fast. Hellen. ii. 423.

218. Geog. Sac. Pars Prior, l. iv. c. 20, p. 286.



From these more general considerations, into which it was perhaps necessary to enter, let us now pass to the picture antiquity has left us of the principal capitals, confining ourselves chiefly to Athens and Sparta, which may be regarded as the representatives of all the rest. The physiognomy of these, like the features of an individual, may in some respects be considered as a key to the character of the inhabitants; a remark which, with great truth, may be applied to all capitals.

In the structure of the one, external and internal,[219] there was everywhere visible an effort to embody the principle of beauty, improving the advantages and overcoming the difficulties of position. In the other little could be discovered indicative of imaginative power, of the thirst to create, of the yearning of the mind after the ideal, of the desire of genius to breathe a soul into stone, to live and obtain a perpetuity of existence in the works of its own hands, to gaze on its own beauty reflected on all sides from its own creations as from a concave mirror. At Athens everything public, everything which had reference to the united efforts of the people wore an air of grandeur. The Acropolis inhabited only by the gods appeared worthy to be the dwelling place of immortal beings: all the poetry of architecture was there; it seemed to have owed its birth to a concentration of the best religious spirit of the ancient world, aiming at giving 71earth a resemblance to heaven; at peopling it with mute deities, speaking only through their beauty and surrounding these representatives of the invisible Olympos with everything most excellent, most valuable, most cherished among men. At Sparta a spirit of calculating economy entered into the very worship of the gods. They seemed, in the manner they lodged and entertained them, to have always had an eye to their common tables and their black broth. Between the temples of Athens and Sparta there was, in fact, the same contrast that now exists between St. Peter’s at Rome and a Calvinistic conventicle. Accordingly, several ancient writers have vied with each other in heaping encomiums upon Athens, which they regarded as at once the most glorious and the most beautiful of cities. Athenæus denominates it the “Museum of Greece;” Pindar, “the stay of Greece;” Thucydides, in his epigram upon Euripides, “the Greece of Greece;” and the Pythian Apollo, “the home and place of council of all Greeks.”[220] By others it was termed “the Opulent;” though the principal part of its riches consisted in the wise and great men whom it produced, and whose achievements covered it with glory. In the same spirit the Arabs call Cairo the “Mother of cities;” and all nations concentrate more or less upon their capital, their affection and their pride.

The superior magnificence of Athens appears from this; that it was always the place to which the Greeks referred when desirous of magnifying the splendour of their own country, in comparison with what could be found elsewhere. Thus Dion Chrysostom[221] affirms that Athens and Corinth in all that constitutes real grandeur surpassed the famous capitals of Persia, Syria, and Ecbatana, and Babylon, and the metropolis of Bactriana. Nay, in the opinion of this writer the Kraneion with its gymnasia, fountains, and shady walks, and the Acropolis with its Propylæa, antique 72altars, temples, and population of gods, exceeded in magnificence the palaces of the Great King, though there was something exceedingly striking in the site and structure of what may properly be called the Acropolis of Ecbatana.[222] The city itself was unwalled, but the citadel, which probably rose in the midst of it, occupied the slopes of a conical hill, not unlike Mount Tabor, and was girt by seven walls of different colours and elevation, rising in concentric circles above each other to the summit. The circumference of the lowest is said to have equalled that of Athens including the Peiræeus. The colour of this wall was white; the next being black for the sake of contrast, was succeeded by one of light purple, which was followed by walls of sky blue, of scarlet, of silver and of gold.

In mere magnitude the great capitals of the East far exceeded Athens. The circuit, for example, of Babylon, is said to have been at least four hundred stadia, while, according to the orator Dion, that of Athens was in round numbers two hundred stadia, or twenty-five miles. Aristeides probably adopted the same calculation when he pronounced it to be a day’s journey in compass. But there is some exaggeration in these accounts; for, according to Thucydides, the total extent of the walls did not exceed one hundred and seventy-eight stadia. The area, however, of the city was not proportioned to the vast range of its fortifications, consisting of two distinct systems of buildings, the Astu, or city proper, and the Peiræeus or harbour, connected together by three walls more than four miles in length. There were other capitals in the western world equal in dimensions, as Syracuse, one hundred and eighty stadia in circumference, and Rome, which in the time of Dionysios of Halicarnassos did not command a larger circuit, though the space included within the walls was much greater.

73In order, however, to convey a more complete idea of the ancient home of Democracy and the Arts, we must, as far as possible, open up a view into the interior of Athens, which, with its harbours, docks, arsenals, its market-places, bazārs, porticoes, public fountains and gymnasia, probably formed the noblest spectacle ever presented to the eye by a cluster of human dwellings. From whatever side approached, whether by land or by sea, the city appeared to be but one vast group of magnificence. In sailing up along the shore from the promontory of Sunium, the polished brazen helmet and shield of the colossal Athena,[223] standing on the brow of the Acropolis, were beheld from afar flashing in the sun. On drawing nearer, the Parthenon, the Propylæa, the temple of Erectheus, with the other marble edifices crowning the Cecropian rock, glittered above the pinnacles of the lower city, and the deep green foliage of the encircling plain and olive groves. Among its principal ornaments in the later ages of the republic was a remarkable monument in the road to Eleusis,—the tomb of the hetaira Pythionica, who dying while her beauty still bloomed and her powers of fascination were unimpaired, the love she had inspired survived the grave and manifested itself by rearing a costly pile of marble over her ashes.[224]

Upon sailing into the Peiræeus,[225] where generally ships from every quarter of the ancient world lay at anchor, the stranger was immediately struck by manifestations of the people’s power and predilection for stateliness and grandeur. The entrance into the port, barely wide enough to admit a couple of galleys abreast, with their oars in full sweep, lay between two round towers, in which terminated on either hand the maritime fortifications of the city. Across the mouth vast chains were extended in time of war, rendering the Peiræeus a closed port;[226] arrived within which, the pleased eye 74wandered over the spacious quays, wharfs, and long ranges of warehouses extending round the harbour, with tombs and sepulchral monuments rising here and there in open spaces between. Among them was a cenotaph in the form of an altar, raised by the repentant people in memory of Themistocles,[227] the founder of the naval power of Athens, whose bones however it has sometimes been supposed were brought thither from Magnesia. The Peiræeus consisted of three basins, Zea, Aphrodision, which was by far the largest, and Cantharos. On the western shore were the vast docks and arsenals of the commonwealth erected by Philon,[228] in which, during peace, all that portion of the public navy not engaged in protecting its trade in distant colonies, was drawn up in dry docks, roofed over and surrounded by massive walls. Towards the centre of the town stood the Hippodameia,[229] an agora or market place, which appears to have resembled Covent Garden, with ranges of stalls in the area and surrounded by dwelling-houses. This building derived its name from Hippodamos of Miletos, the architect who erected it, and laid out the whole maritime city in the regular and beautiful style of which he was the inventor.[230] Here, also, were several other market-places or bazārs, among which may be reckoned a place[231] resembling the Laura of Samos, the Sweet Ancon of Sardis, the Street of the Happy at Alexandria, and the Tuscan Street at Rome, in which fruit, confectionary, with delicacies and luxuries of every kind were exposed for sale. In these agora, as now in the bazārs of Cairo, Damascus, and Constantinople, were beheld, in close juxtaposition, the wines of Spain and Portugal, amber from the shores of the ocean, the carpets, shawls, and jewels of the East, fruit and gold 75from Thasos, ivory and ostrich feathers from Africa, and beautiful female slaves from Syria, Dardania, and the southern shores of the Euxine, the Mingrelians and Georgians of the modern world.[232] Around these singular groups the young men of Athens, in an almost oriental pomp of costume, might be seen lounging, some perhaps purchasing, others merely looking on, half in haste to return to the gymnasium or to the lectures of Socrates.

Among the public buildings[233] in the harbour were the Deigma[234] or Exchange, where the merchants met to transact business, bringing along with them samples of their goods; the Serangion[235] or public baths; the superb temples of Zeus and Athena adorned with exquisite pictures and statues, where in an open court seems to have stood the celebrated altar erected by Demosthenes[236] in commutation of his fine of thirty talents; the Long Portico which served as an agora to those living near the shore;[237] the theatre,[238] and the court of Phreattys[239] on the beach, where the accused pleaded his cause from a galley lying afloat. Somewhere in the Peiræeus was an altar to “the unknown Gods,”[240] which, notwithstanding that the plural form is used, may possibly have been that to which Saint Paul alludes in his speech to the Athenians on the hill of Areiopagos.

Besides the Peiræeus, Athens possessed two other harbours Munychia and Phaleron, which were enclosed by the same line of fortifications, and in process of time formed but one city, superior in extent to the Astu itself. Of these the latter was the most 76ancient, and from hence Mnestheus sailed for Troy and Theseus for Crete.[241] The Munychian promontory,[242] abounding in hollows and artificial excavations, and connected by a narrow neck of land with the continent, was the strongest position on the coast, and may be regarded as the key of Athens, since whoever held possession of it could command the city. In this Demos stood the Bendideion[243] where shows were exhibited in honour of Bendis the Thracian Artemis, to behold which Socrates and his friends came down from the city, when at the house of Cephalos that conversation took place with Glaucon and Adimantos, out of which arose the Republic of Plato. This division of the port likewise possessed its theatre,[244] and here were fought some of those battles with the thirty that re-established the liberty of the commonwealth.

Proceeding inland towards the Astu or city of Athens proper, the stranger beheld before him a straight street upwards of five miles in length, extending from the Peiræeus to the foot of the Acropolis, between walls[245] of immense elevation and thickness, flanked by square towers at equal distances. Along the summit of these vast piles of masonry a terrace was carried, commanding superb views of the Saronic bay and distant coasts of Peloponnesos; and, on the other hand, of the city relieved against the green slopes of Lycabettos[246]. The space between the long walls abounded with remarkable monuments. Here were the tombs of Diopethes, Menander, and Euripides, the temple of Hera, burned by the Persians, and left in ruins as a memento to revenge, and numerous cenotaphs and statues of illustrious men.

Spacious and lofty gates admitted you into the 77Astu, through a belt of impregnable fortifications: and the appearance of the interior,[247] though the streets for military purposes were mostly narrow and winding, and the houses low, projecting over the pavement or concealed by elevated front-walls, surpassed in all probability the promise of its distant aspect. The grandeur which peculiarly belonged to the Athenian democracy was visible at every step. But it would weary the reader to lead him in succession through all the public places—the Pnyx, the Agora, the Cerameicos: let us ascend the Acropolis, from whose ramparts the plan of the whole city will unfold itself before us like a map.

Half the beauty of all civilised countries springs out of their religion. At Athens nearly everything costly or magnificent belonged to the Gods; even the Propylæa,[248] apparently a mere secular or military structure, probably owed its erection in so expensive a style to the circumstance of its adorning the entrance to the sacred enclosure of Athena, and the other tutelary divinities of Athens, and spanning the road by which the pomp of the Panathenaic procession descended and ascended the mount. Be this as it may, a road[249] which, by running zigzag up the slope, was rendered practicable for chariots, led from the lower city to the Acropolis, on the edge of the platform of which stood the Propylæa, erected by the architect Mnesicles in five years, during the administration of Pericles. A 78pile of architecture, similar in name, is usually found at the entrance of the court of Egyptian temples, and the Propylæa Luxor and Karnak, with their aspiring obelisks, couchant sphynxes, and ranges of colossal statues, may be reckoned among the most chaste and beautiful monuments in the valley of the Nile. The Propylæa of Athens, richer in design and materials, and executed with a grace and perfection unknown to the Egyptians, enjoyed in its mere site an immense advantage over their noblest works which, the pyramids and the great temple of Koom Ombos excepted, stand on a dead level, while this occupies the brow of a precipitous rock, visible on every side from afar. Pillars, architraves, pediments, walls, and roof, were all of snow-white marble, with mouldings of bright red and blue, and ceilings of azure bedropped with stars.[250] Externally, on either hand, were equestrian statues of the sons of Xenophon,[251] placed on lofty square basements; and, overlooking the whole on the left, stood the colossal statue of Athena Promachos.[252]

On entering through the gates of the Propylæa a scene of unparalleled grandeur and beauty burst upon the eye. No trace of human dwellings anywhere appeared, but on all sides temples of more or less elevation, of Pentelic marble, beautiful in design and exquisitely delicate in execution, sparkled like piles of alabaster in the sun. On the left stood the Erectheion or fane of Athena Polias; to the right that matchless edifice known as the Hecatompedon of old, but to later ages as the Parthenon. Other buildings, all holy to the eye of an Athenian, lay grouped around these master structures, and in the open spaces between, in whatever direction the spectators might look, appeared statues, some remarkable for their dimensions, others for their beauty, and all for the legendary sanctity which surrounded them. No city of the ancient or modern world ever rivalled Athens in the riches of art. Our 79best filled museums, though teeming with her spoils, are poor collections of fragments compared with that assemblage of gods and heroes which peopled the Acropolis, the genuine Olympos of the arts, where all the divinities of the pagan heaven appeared grouped in immortal youth and beauty round the Thunderer and his virgin daughter. Many volumes were written in antiquity on the pictures, statues, and architectural monuments which thronged the summit of this rock, and though those works have perished, a long and curious list might still be given of the objects of this kind which we know to have existed there.[253] It will, however, be sufficient to glance over a few of the more striking features of the scene.

On one side of the entrance stood a chariot drawn by four horses in bronze, and directly opposite a chapel of Aphrodite, containing a bronze lioness, with a statue of the goddess herself by Calamis; a little further the eye rested on Diitrephes, pierced like St. Sebastian with arrows; two figures of the goddess Health; a youth in bronze, by Lycios, bearing the Perirrhanterion, or brush for sprinkling holy water; Myron’s group of Perseus cutting off the head of Medusa, and the three Graces draped by Socrates,[254] son of Sophroniscos. Advancing past the chapel of Artemis Brauronia you beheld, amid numerous groups of less striking monuments, the Attic conception of the Trojan horse; Athena smiting Marsyas; Heracles strangling the serpents in his cradle; Phrixos sacrificing the ram; and Theseus, the national hero, slaughtering the Minotaur in the Cretan labyrinth.[255] Here, too, was an Athena issuing from the head of Zeus, together with the figure of a bull presented by the Senate of Areiopagos; 80and, a little beyond, an embodiment of a very pious and a very beautiful thought,—a figure of Earth, the mother of gods and men, praying to the ruler of Olympos for rain. Of Zeus, the Cloud-Compeller, there were numerous representations by artists of celebrity; the figure of Apollo, by Pheidias, standing before the eastern front of the Parthenon, was lighted up by the first rays of the morning. But the tutelar gods of Attica, Athena and Poseidon, the genii of political wisdom and maritime power, exhibited as struggling for the mastery over the Athenian mind, met the eye in various parts of the Acropolis,—the piety of the people delighting to reproduce with various attributes the objects of their affectionate adoration. Among these divinities, the statues of several poets, orators, and generals were found; Anacreon, Epicharmos, Phormio, Timotheus, Conon, Pericles, and Isocrates. On drawing near the Parthenon, its sculptured pediments and metopes, representing legends in the mythology and religious processions of Athens, excited admiration, and still excite it, by their original design and matchless workmanship: and, suspended from its highly painted friezes, and resting on its white marble architraves, were rows of highly burnished shields of gold.[256]

Technical descriptions of buildings, whether religious or civil, would be out of place in the present work; but a compendious account of the Erectheion and Parthenon, the two great sanctuaries of the Acropolis, could not with propriety be omitted. To commence with the former, as the more ancient and sacred:—this edifice, of irregular design though highly beautiful, contained 81three chapels, with the same number of porticoes. The chapel of Erectheus, entered through a portico of six columns, faced the east, where stood the altar of supreme Zeus, never stained by blood or libations of wine. The pavement of this portion of the edifice was raised eight feet above the level of the other chapels. Here the piety of Athens had erected altars to Erectheus, Poseidon, Butas, and Hephaistos, and pictures dedicated by the sacred family of the Eteobutadæ adorned the walls. In a subterraneous chamber beneath the floor lay the mortal remains of Ericthonios, a man sprung in a mysterious manner from the gods. The Erectheion being about twenty-four feet square, some have imagined it must have been hypæthral, unless the stone blocks of the roof were supported by pillars. But the ancients employed slabs of much greater dimensions in building and roofing their temples; for at the Egyptian quarries of Hajjar Silsilis and Essouan we observed blocks from forty-two to seventy feet in length and of suitable proportions, while others equally vast had been removed. Volney, too, as the reader will remember, found masses of no less magnitude in the walls of Syrian temples: besides, several obelisks, now on their pedestals, fall little short of a hundred feet in height.

Between the Erectheion and the chapel of Athena Polias there was no door of communication. Having surveyed the former, therefore, the stranger again issued into the open air, and turning to the left entered the stately portico leading from the north into the temple of Pandrosos, where, constructed of Pentelic marble, stood the altar of frankincense. Passing this, and traversing the Pandrosion, he entered the ancient sanctuary of Athena, unwindowed and gloomy, whither not even that “dim religious light” which contends with obscurity in our gothic cathedrals could find its way. This is the case in many Egyptian temples where the adyta are totally dark. But sunshine and the splendour of day would ill have suited the mystic rites here celebrated; for which reason these sacred 82recesses were lighted up with lamps, magnificent in form and materials, that shed a soft pale ray over the worshippers. The many-branched[257] golden candelabrum of Athena’s sanctuary was furnished with asbestos wicks, and, according to the temple-wardens, of sufficient dimensions to contain oil for a whole year. Once lighted, therefore, it burned with perennial flame, and the smoke was received and conducted to the roof by a hollow bronze palm tree reversed.

This inextinguishable lamp was kindled and kept burning, through reverence for that antique image of Athena in wood of olive which constituted one of the palladia of Attica. In honour, moreover, of this primitive statue the Panathenaic procession is said to have been instituted, during which, like the velabrum of the temple of Mekka, the peplos,[258] whatever this may have been, was dedicated with vast pomp and ceremony to the service of the goddess.

The principal argument, however, against supposing the peplos to have been designed for the gold and ivory statue of the Parthenon,—that it was not needed, is of very little weight. None of the ceremonies attending its presentation were necessary. The offering was a work of devotion; and however costly in itself and elaborately adorned, may have been simply designed to protect the image from dust and the action of the air. That Pheidias represented the goddess without her peplos, is no argument that his statue needed none, but the contrary. He may have omitted it expressly that it might be supplied by the piety of the state. Besides, the sculptured metopes of the Parthenon, representing the Panathenaic procession, are themselves a strong argument for connecting the presentation of the peplos and the other ceremonies of the festival with that more splendid structure and 83image rather than with the Erectheion. As the Athenians supposed the Islands of the blessed and the dwelling-place of their gods to have been somewhere in the regions of the west, they were accustomed to pray with their faces turned in that direction;[259] and so also buried they their dead. For this reason, desiring to behold the countenance of their divinities during this religious service, the statues of the gods were generally set up with their faces eastward; and hence, too, the front of the temples looked in the same direction. This was the case with the olive-wood image of Athena Polias; and in the reign of Augustus the Athenians, rendered more superstitious than ever by their misfortunes, were vehemently terrified on finding that the goddess had turned her back upon them,[260] as if preparing to seek her ancient home in the Atlantic Ocean. But her real presence had forsaken the city long before the battle of Chæroneia.

But Athena, though the principal, was not the sole inhabitant of her sanctuary. On one side of the door stood a phallic statue of Hermes, originally set up by the Pelasgians,[261] and in later ages nearly concealed by a profusion of myrtle branches. Here, also, in a very extraordinary inmate were found traces of that animal worship which extended so widely over the ancient world. In a den constructed for its use lived a great serpent, considered as the guardian of the temple, and supposed to be animated by the soul of Ericthonios, who here performed the part assigned in the fane of Demeter to Cadmos, likewise believed to have undergone a similar transformation after death. The snake-god of the Acropolis received its daily sustenance from the priestess of Athena; and once every month was propitiated with pious offerings of cakes of the purest honey.[262] Relics of this worship are still found 84in Egypt. In a deep chasm, among the wild rocky mountains on the Arabian side of the Nile, we were shown a fissure in a hermit’s cell, whence a large reptile of this species is said to issue forth at stated days to receive the offerings of food brought him by the neighbouring peasants. This creature, as well as the guardian of the Athenian Temple, is supposed to possess a human soul, that of the holy Sheikh Haridi.

Like most other Hellenic sanctuaries, the chapel of the goddess was a kind of museum filled with memorials of Athenian victories and other remarkable objects. Here were shown curious or beautiful specimens of arms or armour, taken from the enemy; among which were the breast-plate and scimitar of Masistios,[263] commander of the Median cavalry at the battle of Platæa. Close beside these warlike memorials, stood a folding camp-stool, the invention, it was said, and workmanship of Dædalos; the archetype of all those portable seats borne after the maidens of Attica by the daughters of aliens in the grand Panathenaic procession.

Not the least interesting portion of this extraordinary edifice dedicated to the worship of so many gods and heroes, was the small chapel of Pandrosos, where Pandora and Thallo were said to have lived, and where the ashes of Cecrops reposed. Here dwelt 85the priestess, shut up for several months with the Ersephoræ. This cella may, therefore, be said to have belonged not only to Pandrosos, who was one of the earliest ministers of these rites, but to all who from her received the office. The building opened on the south into a portico, adorned with Caryatides instead of columns, and filled with ceremonial and religious associations. Here grew the Pancuphos, or sacred olive tree, which, burned by the Persians, shot up a cubit in a single night, and was thought to be endued with the power of undying vegetation, for, if the trunk were cut down, new shoots immediately succeeded. Near the sacred olive was the salt well, called the sea of Erectheus, which Poseidon is said to have produced by smiting the rock with his trident. In the hollow of this fountain, during the prevalence of the south wind, a sound like the murmuring of the waves was supposed to be heard. This well has not been discovered in modern times; but in another part of the citadel there existed a spring of brackish water, known by the name of the Clepsydra, which, about the rising of the dog-star, while the Etesian winds were blowing, overflowed; but on their cessation again subsided.[264]

86We have perhaps too long lingered among the dusky recesses of this ancient fane, spell-bound by the charms of a beautiful mythology. We emerge now into the light of history, and approach that matchless structure erected by Ictinos where the Athenian people offered up their daily prayers to heaven.[265] The Parthenon occupies the most elevated platform of the Acropolis, the pavement of its peristyle being on a level with the capitals of the columns of the Propylæa. It was constructed entirely of white Pentelic marble,[266] and consisted of a cella surrounded by a Doric peristyle having eight columns on either front, and seventeen on the sides. These pillars, thirty-four feet in height, sprang from a pavement elevated three steps above the rocky platform, from whence the total height of the building was about sixty-five feet. The arrangement of the interior like that of the great temples of Egypt had reference rather to utility and the convenience of public worship, than to the effect which long ranges of lofty pillars, extending through unencumbered space, would have produced upon the mind: for the cella, sixty-two feet in breadth, was divided into two chambers of unequal size,—the western about forty-four feet in length, the eastern nearly one hundred. In both these chambers the ceiling was supported by columns.

Colonel Leake, to whose elaborate work I beg to refer the reader desirous of entering into minute details, concludes his general description as follows:—"Such was the simple construction of this magnificent 87building, which, by its united excellencies of materials, design, and decoration was the most perfect ever erected. Its dimensions of two hundred and twenty-eight feet by a hundred and two, with a height of sixty-eight feet to the top of the pediment, were sufficiently great to give an impression of grandeur and sublimity, which was not disturbed by any obtrusive division of parts, such as is found to diminish the effect of some larger modern buildings. In the Parthenon, whether viewed at a small or at a great distance, there was nothing to divert the spectator’s contemplation from the simplicity and majesty of mass and outline which forms the first and most remarkable object of admiration in a Greek temple; and it was not until the eye was satiated with the contemplation of the entire edifice that the spectator was tempted to examine the decorations with which this building was so profusely adorned; for the statues of the pediments the only elevation which was very conspicuous by its magnitude and position, being enclosed within frames, which formed an essential part of the design of either front, had no more obtrusive effect than an ornamental capital has to a single column."[267]

That object of art, whatever its dimensions, is sufficiently great, which fills the mind with high ideas of grandeur and beauty. There is, moreover, in mere size, a point, beyond which if we proceed, the eye will fail to grasp the whole at a glance, and create a feeling of want of unity; but, in proportion as we fall short of that point will be our sense of the absence of sublimity. In this predicament, perhaps, the temples of Greece too generally stood. Considerations of expense, which in the end affected their habits of thinking, cramped the ideas of the architects, or forced them to direct their studies towards beauty of form unconnected with that grandeur which springs out of mass and elevation.

88Among the barbarous nations of the East, where the whole resources of the country lay at the disposal of the monarch or of the priestly caste, as in Hindùstân, Persia, and Egypt, full scope, on the contrary, was given to the imagination of the architect, who, if his invention were equal to it, might give his structures the elevation of a mountain and the spaciousness of a vast city. Hence, the grandeur arising from magnitude, is, in most cases, found to belong to the sacred edifices of Egypt;[268] and in some instances a feeling of symmetry, a sense of the beautiful, appears to have restrained the artist within due bounds, as in the great temple of Apollinopolis Magna, which, whatever may be the imperfections of its architectural details, is invested, as a whole, with an air of genuine magnificence and sublimity. Proceeding from the contemplation of these to the religious structures of Greece, there would be found, I imagine, in most minds a slight feeling of disappointment, and though afterwards, the delight imparted by the presence of extreme beauty,—a delight serene, soft, and inexpressibly soothing, may more than compensate for the want of awe and wondering admiration, their absence will still be felt.

But to proceed: in rich and elaborate decorations the Parthenon resembled the temple of Tentyris. Every part of its exterior, where ornament was admissible, presented to the eye some creation of Hellenic taste and fancy, figures in high and low relief, grouped in action or repose, conceived and executed in a style worthy of the prince of the mimetic art.[269] Many wrecks of these matchless compositions are now protected from further defacements in the metropolis of Great Britain, but withal so mutilated and decayed that none but a practised eye can discern, through the ravages of age, all the sunshine of beauty and loveliness 89which beamed from them when fresh from the Pheidian chisel. One of the greatest works of this artist filled the interior of the Parthenon with the emanations of its beauty, the statue of Athena in ivory and gold,[270] which, representing a form distinguished for all the softness and roundness belonging to womanhood, and a countenance radiant with the highest intellect, must in some respects have borne away the palm from the Olympian Zeus; for in the latter, after all, nothing beyond masculine energy, dignity, majesty could have existed. These indeed were so blended, so subdued into a glorious and god-like serenity, that this creation of human genius, like the august being of which it was a mute type, possessed in a degree the celestial power of chasing away sadness and sorrow, and shedding benignity and happiness over all who beheld it.[271] But for men at least, the Zeus must have lacked some attributes possessed by the Athena. She was in all her etherial loveliness, a woman still, but without a woman’s weakness, or a single taint of earth. The Athenians paid the highest possible compliment to womanhood when they gave wisdom a female form; and the delicacy of the thought was enhanced by surrounding this mythological creation with an atmosphere of purity which no other divinity of the pagan heaven could lay claim to. Nor in beauty did Athena yield even to Aphrodite herself. Her charms partook indeed of that noble severity which belongs to virtue; and to intimate that she was rather of heaven than of earth, her eyes were of the colour of the firmament. Yet this spiritual elevation above the reach of the passions, only appears to have enhanced, in the estimation of the Athenians, the splendour of her personal beauty, which shed its chastening and ennobling influence among her worshippers like the droppings of a summer cloud.

90According to Philochoros,[272] this colossus was set up during the archonship of Theodoros, that is, in the third year of the eighty-fifth Olympiad. The Athenians, it has been ingeniously conjectured, seized for the dedication of the statue, on the period of the celebration of the most gorgeous festival in their calendar, the greater Panathenaia, which like a kind of jubilee occurred but once in an Olympiad.[273] What length of time Pheidias employed in finishing this statue we possess no means of determining; but as the Parthenon itself is supposed not to have been completed in less than ten years, the artist need not have been hurried in his work.[274]

In the temple of Zeus at Olympia and in every sacred structure we visited in Egypt and Nubia, there was a staircase conducting to the roof. No positive testimony remains to prove this to have been the case in the Parthenon, though antiquarians, with much probability, have supposed it to have been so.[275] Let us therefore assume the fact, and ascending to the summit of the edifice survey the surrounding scene and the superb city encircling the rock at our feet. Few landscapes in the world are more rich or varied, none more deeply interesting. History has peopled every spot within the circle of vision with spirit-stirring associations; or if history has passed over any, there has poetry been busy, building up her legends from the scattered fragments of tradition. Carrying our eye along the distant edge of the horizon we behold the promontory of Sunium, Ægina rising out of the Myrtoan sea, Trœzen, the birth-place of Theseus the national hero, the mountains of Argolis, the hostile citadel of Corinth, with Phylæ and Deceleia rendered too famous by the Peloponnesian war. Nearer the shore is “sea-born” Salamis, and that low headland where the barbarian 91took his seat to view the battle in the straits. Yonder at the extremity of the long walls are the ports of Munychia, Phaleron and Peiræeus; on our left is Hymettos with its bee swarms and odoriferous slopes;[276] to the right Colonos, the grove of the terrible Erinnyes, and the chasm in the rock by which the wretched Œdipus, having reached the end of his career, descended to the infernal world.[277] Beyond lies Eleusis and the Sacred Way.[278] Yonder in the midst of groves is the Academy; here is the Cerameicos[279] filled with the monuments which the republic erected to its heroes, there the Cynosarges and the Lyceium. The hill of Areiopagos, contiguous to the rock of the Acropolis, divides the Pnyx from the Agora planted by Conon with plane trees. Near at hand, encircled by ordinary dwellings, are the Leocorion, the temple of Theseus, the Odeion, the Stoa Pœcile, and the Dionysiac theatre, with various other monuments remarkable for their beauty or historical importance.[280]

219. Dem. Olynth. iii. 9. Palm. Exercit. in Auct. Græc. p. 622. Zander, De Luxu Athen. c. iii. 5, § 6.

220. Athen. v. 12. Soph. Œdip. Col. 107. seq.

221. Orat. vi. t. i. p. 199.

222. Herod. i. 98. Bochart, Geog. Sac. Pars Prior, l. iii. c. 14. p. 222. Aristot. De Mund. ch. 6. Apuleius, p. 19.

223. Paus. i. 28. 2.

224. Athen. xiii. 67.

225. Cf. Steph. De Urb. v. Πειραιός. p. 633. G. sqq.

226. Leake, Top. of Ath. p. 311. sqq.

227. Paus. i. 1, 2. Plut. Them. § 32. Meurs. Pir. c. 3.

228. Strab. ix. 1. p. 239.

229. Harp. v. Ἱπποδ. Xen. Hell. ii. 4. Dem. in Timoth. § 5. Andoc. de Myst. § 10.

230. Arist. Polit. vi. 8. p. 40. 16. vii. 11. p. 199. 25. Hesych. v. Ἱπποδ. νέμησις.

231. Athen. xii. 57, 58. Animad. t. 11. p. 468. Sch. Aristoph. Pac. 98.

232. See for the authorities, Book vi. chapters 11 and 12.

233. Meurs. Pir. c. 4, 5, 6.

234. Harpocrat. in v. p. 74. Maussac. Etymol. Mag. 259. 51. Suid. in v. t. i. p. 665. Xen. Hellen. v. 1. 21. Aristoph. Eq. 975. et Schol. Dem. adv. Lacrit. § 7. Lys. cont. Tynd. frag. 120. Polyæn. Strat. vi. 2. 2.

235. Harpocrat. in v. p. 166. Suid. in v. t. ii. 734 a. Isaeus De Philoct. Hered. § 6.

236. Meurs. Pir. c. 7.

237. Paus. i. 13.

238. Xen. Hellen. ii. 4. 33.

239. Paus. i. 28. 11.

240. Paus. i. 1. 4; v. 14. 8.

241. Paus. i. 1, 2.

242. Strab. ix. 1. t. ii. p. 239.

243. Xen. Hellen. ii. 4, 11.

244. Thucyd. viii. 93. Lys. in Agorat. § 7.

245. Of which there were three. Plat. Gorg. t. iii. p. 22. Wordsworth, Athens and Attica, p. 187. Dr. Cramer, Desc. of Greece, ii. 346, seq. understands the long walls to have been but two in number.

246. Marin. vit. Procl. p. 74. ed. Fabric.

247. Boeckh, Pub. Econ. of Athens, i. 88. seq.

248. Suid. in v. t. ii. p. 611. d. Harpocrat. in v. p. 254. Paus. i. 22. 4. Leake, Topog. p. 177. Wordsworth, Athens and Attica. p. 112.

249. Up this road goats were never allowed to ascend (Athen. xiii. 51). Even crows were said never to alight on the top of the sacred rock; and Chandler (ii. 61) remarks, that although he frequently saw these birds flying about the Acropolis, he never observed one on the summit. “The hooded crow, which retires from England during the summer, is a constant inhabitant of Attica, and is probably that species noticed by the ancients under the name of κορώνη. It is the word applied at present to it by the Greek peasants, who are the best commentators on the old naturalists.” Sibthorp in Walp. Mem. l. 75.

250. Wordsworth, Athens and Attica, p. 114.

251. Paus. i. 22. 4.

252. Müll. De Phid. Vit. p. 18 seq.

253. Somewhere in a cavern in the rock of the Acropolis was a slab called the pillar of infamy, on which were engraved the names of traitors and other public delinquents. Thrasybulos accused Leodamas of having had his name on this pillar.—Aristot. Rhet. ii. 23.

254. Paus. i. 22. 8.

255. On the labyrinth at present shown in Crete, see Tournefort, i. 76. sqq.

256. They were votive offerings, and the impressions they made are still visible upon the marble.—Words. Athens and Attica, 117. Lachares afterwards, when Athens was besieged by Demetrius, carried them away with him into Bœotia.—Paus. i. 25. 7. To facilitate his escape, he is said to have scattered handfuls of golden Darics on the road, which, tempting the cavalry in pursuit, prevented his capture.—Polyæn. iii. 7. 1.

257. A conjecture of Müller, Minerv. Pol. v. 25.

258. Antiquarians have formed many ingenious conjectures; but to me it appears evidently to have been a female veil, such as Helenos in the Iliad (σ. 734) commands to be offered to the same goddess of citadels, by his mother and the other matrons of Troy.

259. Plut. Sol. § 10. Visconti, Mem. p. 18. Müll. Minerv. Pol. p. 27.

260. Dion. Cass. iv. 7.

261. Herod. ii. 51.

262. Herod. viii. 41. Combe, Terra-cottas of the British Museum, pl. 28. Petit. Radel, Musée Napol. iv. 33.

263. Paus. i. 27. 1. The Athenians in the age of this traveller confounded, it seems, Masistios with Mardonios, nothing very extraordinary several hundred years after the event referred to. Pausanias speaks of it as a mistake; Mr. Müller, who is less ceremonious, as a falsehood. Minerv. Pol. 29. The passion for relics, which led to the preservation of these objects, existed in all its whimsicality among the ancients. But they were scarcely so ingenious as the Roman Catholics of the continent, whose sacred treasures include a number of feathers from the wings of the angel Gabriel, a small bone of one of the cherubim, and a few rays of the star by which the wise men of the East were led to Bethlehem. They have also a small phial, containing some of the darkness that overspread the land of Egypt. (Cf. Fabric. ad Cod. Pseud. epigr. v. i. p. 93. t. 11. and Christophori Carmen, ap Boissonade ad Eunap. p. 277. seq.) In the temples of antiquity relics nearly as curious were preserved: they had an egg of Leda, possibly, as Lobeck conjectures, an ostrich’s (Aglaoph. i. 52; Paus. iii. 16. 1); the teeth of the Erymanthean boar (Paus. viii. 24. 2), whose spoils were also shown at Tegea (Lucian adv. Indoct. § 13); the teeth of the Calydonian boar were preserved at Beneventum (Procop. Bell. Goth. i. 15. 349. c); they had also the sword of Memnon (Paus. iii. 3. 6); the iron spear of Epeios (Justin. xx. 7), the brazen vessel in which Pelias was boiled, the arrows of Teucer, the chlamys of Odysseus, were preserved in the temple of Apollo at Sicyon. (Ampel. Memor. viii. 68. Beckm. Hist. of Invent. ii. 364. Germ. in Lobeck.) In the Troad the anvils were shown which Zeus suspended to the heels of Hera, when he hung her up between heaven and earth (Eustath. p. 15. l. 30); here, too, anyone might see the cithara of Paris. (Plut. Alex. § 15.) Like the Catholics, too, they showed the same thing in two or three places; for example, the hair of Isis might be seen at Koptos (Etym. Mag. v. κόπτος, 522. 12), and at Memphis. (Luc. adv. Ind. § 13.) The Romans, according to Horace (Carm. ii. 3. 21), possessed the bronze wash-hand-basin of Sisyphos. A much more extensive list may be found in Beckmann, Hist. of Inven. ii. 42. seq. Eng. Tr.

264. This fountain was likewise called Empedo.—Sch. Arist. Vesp. 857. I may here mention, by the way, that most ancient cities were supplied with water by pipes underground, as Syracuse.—Thucyd. vi. 100. Cf. Sch. Arist. Achar. 1145.

265. It is worthy of remark that from this temple all persons of Doric race were excluded. King Cleomenes, therefore, when desirous of obtaining admission, denied his birth-right, and called himself an Achæan.—Herod. v. 72.

266. The quarries of this mountain, worked to so great an extent by the ancients, are now filling again with marble which grows rapidly.—Chandler, ii. 191. Cf. Magius, Var. Lect. t. iv. 182. b. Gemme Fisica Sotterranea, l. 1. c. ix. § 6. p. 87.—For the manner in which it is thought to vegetate, see Tournefort, i. pp. 225. 228. sqq.

267. Topog. of Athens, pp. 211, 212. See also Chandler, ii. 49. sqq.

268. Of these temples Lucian says: ὅμοιαι ... τοῖς Αἰγυπτίοις ἱεροῖς: κᾀκεῖ γὰρ, αὐτὸς μὲν ὁ νεὼς κάλλιστός τε καὶ μέγιστος, λίθοις τοῖς πολυτελέσιν ἠσκημένος, καὶ χρυσῷ, καὶ γραφαῖς διηνθισμὲνος. ἔνδον δὲ ἢν ζητῆς τὸν βεὸν ἢ πιθηκός ἔστιν, ἢ ἴβις, ἢ τράγος, ἢ αἴλουρος. Imagin. § 11.

269. Vid. Müll. De Parthenon. Fastig. p. 72, sqq.

270. Thucyd. ii. 13. Schol. t. v. p. 375. Bipont. Müll. De Phid. Vit. p. 22.

271. Arrian. Epict. I. 6. p. 27, seq.

272. Frag. ed. Siebel. p. 54. Müll. Phid. Vit. § 11. p. 22.

273. Boeckh. Corp. Inscrip. p. 182.

274. Quatremère de Quincy, Jup. Olymp. p. 222.

275. Leake, Topog. p. 215.

276. About half a mile from Athens in this direction was a temple of Artemis (Ἄγρα), on the Ilissos, with an altar to Boreas; where, according to the fable, the god carried away Orithyia while playing on the rock with Pharmacia.—Plat. Phæd. i. 7. In consequence of the alliance thus contracted Boreas always felt a particular friendship for the Athenians, to whose succour he hastened with his aërial forces during the Median war.—Herod, vii. 189.

277. Antigone, in Sophocles, (Œdip. Col. 14-18) speaks of the towers of Athens as seen from Colonos, and describes that village, the birth-place of the poet, as rendered beautiful by the sacred grove of the Eumenides, consisting of the laurel, the olive, and the vine, in which a choir of nightingales showered their music on the ear.

278. Near this road stood the Hiera Suke. Athen. iii. 6.

279. Κεραμεικός, ἀπὸ τοῦ κεραμεύς. Etym. Mag. 504. 16. Cf. Suid. et Harpocrat. in voce. Paris, in like manner, has given the name of Tuileries to its principal palaces and gardens, from the tiles (tuiles) which were anciently manufactured on the spot.

280. Strab. ix. 1. 239–241.



From what has been said, the reader will, perhaps, have acquired a tolerably correct idea of the city of Athens, its splendour and extent. But the remaining fragments of Hellenic literature do not enable us to be equally clear or copious in our account of Sparta.[281] In fact so imperfect and confused is the information that has come down to us respecting it, so vague, unsatisfactory, and in many respects contradictory are the opinions of modern scholars and travellers, that after diligently and patiently examining their accounts, and comparing them with the descriptions of Pausanias, the hints of Xenophon, Livy, Polybius, and Plutarch, with the casual references of the poets, I am enabled to offer the following picture only as a series of what appear to me probable conjectures based upon a few indisputable facts.

The reader who has endeavoured to discover anything like order in Pausanias’ topography of Sparta,[282] will fully comprehend the difficulty of constructing from his information anything like an intelligible plan 93of the city. Nevertheless, by setting out from a fixed point, by laboriously studying the thread of his narration, by divining the secret order he seems to follow in enumerating and delineating the various public buildings of which he speaks, and by comparing his fragmentary disclosures with the present physiognomy of the site, I have formed a conception of the features of ancient Sparta which may, perhaps, be found to bear some resemblance to the original.

We will suppose ourselves to have passed the Eurotas, and to be standing on the summit of the loftiest building of the Acropolis, the Alpion for example, or the temple of Athena Chalciœcos,[283] from which we can command a view of the whole site of Sparta from the Eurotas, where it flows between banks shaded with reeds and lofty rose laurels[284] on the east, to the brisk sparkling stream of the Tiasa, and the roots of the Taygetos on the west. North and south the eye ranges up and down the valley,[285] discovering in the latter direction the ancient cities of Therapne[286] and Amyclæ,[287] celebrated for their poetical and heroic associations. Beyond the Eurotas eastward, occupying the green and well-wooded acclivities upwards, from 94the banks of the stream towards the barren and red-tinted heights of the Menelaion,[288] lay scattered the villas of the noble Spartans, filled with costly furniture and every other token of wealth,[289] while here and there, on all sides, embosomed in groves or thickets, arose the temples and chapels of the gods surrounded by a halo of sanctity and communicating peculiar beauty to the landscape.

Contracting now our circle of vision, and contemplating the distinct villages or groups of buildings of which the capital of Laconia anciently consisted,[290] we behold the encampments as it were of the five tribes, extending in a circle about the Acropolis.[291] The quarter of the Pitanatæ,[292] commencing about the Issorion and the bridge over the Tiasa on the west, extended eastward beyond the Hyacinthine road[293] to the cliffs overhanging the valley of the Eurotas above the confluence of that river with the Tiasa. Immediately contiguous to the dwellings of this tribe in the north eastern division of the city, opposite that cloven island in the Eurotas, which contained the temple of Artemis, Orthia, and the Goddess of Birth, dwelt the Limnatæ,[294] who possessed among them the temple erected by the Spartans to Lycurgus. North again of these, and clustering around that sharp eminence which constituted as it were a second Acropolis, were the habitations of the Cynosuræ,[295] whose quarter appears to have extended 95from the old bridge over the Eurotas to the temple of Dictynna, and the tombs of the Euripontid kings on the west. From this point to the Dromos, lying directly opposite the southern extremity of the Isle of Plane Trees, formed by the diverging and confluent waters of the Tiasa, lay the village of the Messoatæ,[296] where were situated the tomb of Alcman, the fountain Dorcea, and a very beautiful portico overlooking the Platanistas. The road extending from the Dromos to the Issorion formed the western limits of the tribe of the Ægidæ,[297] whose quarter extending inward to the heart of the city, appears to have comprehended the Acropolis, the Lesche Pœcile, the theatre, with all the other buildings grouped about the foot of the ancient city.

The prospect presented by all these villages, nearly touching each other, and comprehended within a circle of six Roman miles, was once, no doubt, in the days of Spartan glory, singularly animated and picturesque. The face of the ground was broken and diversified, rising into six hills of unequal elevation, and constituting altogether a small table-land, in some places terminating in perpendicular cliffs;[298] in others, shelving away in gentle slopes to meet the meadows on the banks of the surrounding streams. Over all was diffused the brilliant light[299] which fills the atmosphere of the south, and paints, as travellers uniformly 96confess, even the barren crag and crumbling ruin with beauty.

The structures that occupied the summit of the Acropolis appear to have been neither numerous nor magnificent. The central pile, around which all the others were grouped, was the temple of Athena Chalciœcos,[300] flanked on the north and south by the fanes of Zeus Cosmetas and the Muses. Behind it rose the temple of Aphrodite Areia, with that of Artemis Cnagia, and in front various other edifices and statues, dedicated to Euryleonis, Pausanias, Athena Ophthalmitis, and Ammon. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of the temenos of Athena stood two edifices, one called Skenoma and the other Alpion. The relative position of all these it is now extremely difficult, if not impossible, to determine. Let us therefore descend into the agora, and having briefly described the objects which there offered themselves to the eye of the stranger, endeavour to thread our way through the various streets of Sparta, pointing out as we go along the most remarkable monuments it contained.

In all Greek cities the point of greatest importance, next to the citadel, was the market-place, where the body of the citizens assembled not only to buy and sell, but to transact public business, and perform many ceremonies of their religion. Thus, in the agora of Sparta, in the centre of which probably stood an altar, surrounded by the statues of Apollo, Artemis, Leto, and the soothsayer Hagias who foretold the victory of Lysander at Ægospotamos, sacred chorusses and processions were exhibited during the Gymnopædia in honour of Phœbos Apollo, in consequence of which, a part at least of the place obtained the name of Choros: here, likewise, was a colossal statue, erected in honour of the Spartan Demos, with a group representing Hermes bearing the infant Dionysos in his arms, and a statue of King Polydoros, doubtless set up in the neighbourhood of his house, Boonetos, 97lying between the street Aphetæ and the steep road leading up to the citadel. The edifices by which the agora was encircled, though in most cases, perhaps, far from magnificent, when separately considered, presented a grand coup-d’œil. This will be made evident if, placing ourselves near the central altar, we enumerate and briefly describe them in the order in which they followed each other in the great circle of the agora. First, beginning on the right-hand corner of the street Aphetæ we behold the palace of the Bidiæi, the five magistrates who watched over the education of the youth; next succeeds that of the Nomophylaces, or guardians of the laws; then that of the Ephori; and, lastly, the senate-house, standing at the corner of the street leading to Therapne. Crossing over to the south-eastern side of the Agora we behold a spacious and stately portico called the Persian, because erected from the spoils of the Persians. Its columns of white marble were adorned with bassi relievi representing Persian warriors, among others Mardonios and Artemisia daughter of Lygdamis queen of Halicarnassos, who fought in person at the battle of Salamis. Beyond the road to Amyclæ, we meet with a range of temples to Gaia, Zeus Agoræos, Athena, Poseidon the Preserver, Apollo, and Hera; and traversing the western street opening into the Theomelida, and affording us a glimpse in passing of the tombs of the Agid kings we arrive at the ancient halls of the Ephori, containing the monuments of Epimenides and Aphareus. To this edifice succeed the statues of Zeus Xenios and Athena Xenia. Next follows the temple of the Fates, near which was the tomb of Orestes lying on the left hand of the road leading to the sanctuary of Athena Chalciœcos. On the other side stands the house of King Polydoros, which obtained in after ages the name of Boonetos because purchased of his widowed queen with a certain number of oxen. With this terminates the list of the buildings by which the Agora was encompassed.

98Quitting, now, this central point, we proceed northward through the street called Aphetæ, and observe on the right hand at a short distance from each other three temples of Athena Keleuthia, together with the heroa of Iops, Lelex, and Amphiaraos. On the opposite side apparently, stood the temenos of Tænarian Poseidon, with a statue of Athena, erected by the Dorian colonists of Italy. We next arrive at a place called the Hellenion, probably nothing more than a large open space or square in which the deputies or ambassadors of foreign states assembled on extraordinary occasions. Close to this was erected the monument of Talthybios. A little further on were the altar of Apollo Acreitas, the Gasepton, a temple of earth, and another altar sacred to Apollo Maleates. At the end of the street, near the walls of the late city, was a temple of Dictynna, with the tombs of the kings called Eurypontidæ.

Returning to the Hellenion, and proceeding eastward up the great public road leading to the bridge Babyx, you saw the temple of Arsinoë, daughter of Leucippos, and sister to the wives of Castor and Polydeukes. Further on, near the Phrouria or Barriers, stood a temple of Artemis; and advancing a little you came to the monument of the Eleian soothsayers called Iamidæ, and the temple of Maron and Alpheios, who were among the bravest of those who fell with Leonidas at Thermopylæ. Beyond this stood the fane of Zeus Tropæos erected after the reduction of Amyclæ, when all the ancient inhabitants of Laconia had been brought under the yoke of the Dorians. Next followed the temple of the Great Mother and the heroic monuments of Hippolytos and Aulon. On a spot commanding the bridge stood the temple of Athena Alea.

Setting out once more from the Agora, and advancing up the street leading towards the east the first building on the left-hand was called Skias[301] contiguous 99to the senate-house: it was of a circular form with a roof like an umbrella, and erected about seven hundred and sixty years before Christ, by Theodoros of Samos, inventor of the art of casting statues in iron. Here the Spartan people held their assemblies even so late as the age of Pausanias, who relates that the lyre of Timotheus[302] the Milesian, confiscated as a punishment for his having added four strings to the seven already in use, was suspended in this building as a warning to all innovators. Near the Skias was another circular building erected by Epimenides, containing statues of Olympian Zeus and Aphrodite. On the other side apparently of the street, in front of the Skias, were the tombs of Idas and Lynceus, the temple of Kora Soteira, said to have been built by Orpheus, or Abaris the Hyperboræan, the tomb of Cynortas and the temple of Castor. Near these were the statues of Apollo Carneios, and Aphetæos, the latter of which marked the point whence the suitors of Penelope started in their race for a wife, running up the street Aphetæ, whence the name. Immediately beyond this was a square surrounded with porticoes, where all kinds of cheap wares were anciently sold. Further on stood altars of Zeus, Athena, and the Dioscuri, all surnamed Amboulioi; opposite which was the hill called Colona whereon was erected a temple of Dionysos, and close at hand a temenos sacred to the hero who conducted the god to Sparta. Not far from the Dionysion was a temple of Zeus Euanemos, giver of gentle breezes; and immediately to the right the heroon of Pleuron. On the summit of a hill at a little distance stood a temple of the Argive Hera, together with the fane erected in honour of Hera Hypercheiria, built by order of the oracle after the subsiding of an inundation of the Eurotas. In this edifice was a very ancient wooden statue of Aphrodite Hera. Close to the road which passed to 100the right of the hill was a statue of Etymocles many times victor in the Olympic games. In descending towards the Eurotas you beheld a wooden statue of Athena Alea, and a little above the banks a temple of Zeus Plousios. On the further side of the river were temples of Ares and Asclepios.

Once more retracing our steps to the Agora, and quitting it by a street leading towards the west, the first remarkable object that struck the eye was the cenotaph of Brasidas, and a little beyond it a spacious and beautiful theatre of white marble.[303] Directly opposite were the tombs of Leonidas and Pausanias, and near these a cippus, on which were engraved the names of the heroes who fell at Thermopylæ, together with those of their fathers. At this spot games were annually celebrated, in which none but Spartans were allowed to contend for the prizes. Discourses were likewise here pronounced in honour of the dead. The multitudes at these games required a large clear space in which to congregate, and this I suppose to have been the place called Theomelida, opening on both sides of the road, and extending as far as the tombs of the Agid Kings, and the Lesche of the Crotoniatæ. Near this edifice stood the temple of Asclepios, the tomb of Tænaros, and temples of Poseidon Hippocourios, and Artemis Ægeinea. Turning back towards the Lesche, probably round the foot of the Hill of the Issorion,[304] you observed on the slope of the eminence towards the Tiasa the temple of Artemis Limnæa the Britomartis of the Cretans, somewhere in the vicinity of which were temples of Thetis, Chthonian Demeter, and Olympian Zeus.

Starting from the crossroad at the north-west foot 101of the Issorion, on the way to the Dromos, the first edifice which presented itself on the left was the monument of Eumedes, one of the sons of Hippocoon. A little further on was a statue of Heracles, and close at hand, near the entrance to the Dromos, stood the ancient palace of Menelaos, inhabited in Pausanias’ time by a private individual. Within the Dromos itself were two gymnasia. This was the most remarkable building in the western part of the city, from whence branched off many streets, while numerous public structures clustered round it; to the north, for example, the temples of the Dioscuri, of the Graces, of Eileithyia, of Apollo Carneios, and Artemis Hegemona: on the east the temple of Asclepios Agnitas, and a trophy erected by Polydeukes after his victory over Lynceus. On the west towards the Platanistas were statues of the Dioscuri Apheterii, and a little further was the heroon of Alcon, near which stood the temple of Poseidon Domatites, near the bridge leading over to the island covered with plane trees. On the other hand apparently of the road a statue was erected to Cynisca, daughter of Archidamos, the first lady who ran horses at Olympia.

Along the banks of the Tiasa from the Dromos to a line extending westward from the temple of Dictynna to the upper bridge leading to the Platanistas, lay a road adorned with numerous public buildings, among others a portico, behind which were two remarkable monuments, the heroa of Alcimos and Enaræphoros. Immediately beyond were the heroa of Dorceus and Sebros, and the fountain Dorcea flowing between them. The whole of this little quarter obtained from the latter hero the name of Sebrion. To the right of the last mentioned heroon was the monument of the poet Alcman;[305] beyond which lay the temple of Helen, and near it that of Heracles close to the modern wall.

102Hard by a narrow pathway, striking into the fields from the road leading eastward from the Dromos, was the temple of Athena Axiopænos, said to have been erected by Heracles.

Leaving the Dromos by another road running in a south-easterly direction through the midst of the quarter of the Ægidæ, we behold, on one hand, the temples of Athena and Hipposthenes, and directly opposite the latter, a statue of Ares in chains. At a short distance beyond these was the Lesche Pœcile, and in front of it, the heroon of Cadmos son of Agenor, those of two of his descendants, Œolycos and his son Ægeus, and that of Amphilocos. Farther on lay the temples of Hera Ægophagos, so called because she-goats were sacrificed to her, and at the foot of the Acropolis, near the theatre, the temples of Poseidon Genethlios, on either side of which probably stood an heroon, the one sacred to Cleodæos son of Hyllos, and the other to Œbalos.

We must now return to the Lesche Pœcile, and following a road skirting round the hill of the Acropolis, towards the east-south-east, pass by the monument of Teleclos, and the most celebrated of all the temples of Asclepios at Sparta, situated close to the Boonetos. Traversing the street Aphetæ and proceeding along the road leading to the Limnæ, the first temple on the left was that of Aphrodite, on a hill, celebrated by Pausanias for having two stories. The statue of the goddess was here seated, veiled and fettered. A little beyond was the temple of Hilaeira and Phœbe wherein were statues of the two goddesses, the countenance of one of which was painted and adorned by one of the priestesses according to the later rules of art, but warned by a dream she suffered the other to remain in its archaic simplicity. Here was preserved an egg adorned with fillets and suspended from the roof, said to have been brought forth by Leda. In a building near at hand, certain women wove annually a tunic for the Apollo of Amyclæ, from which circumstance 103the edifice itself obtained the name of Chiton. Next followed the house of the Tyndaridæ, the heroa of Chilon and Athenæus, and the temple of Lycurgus, with the tomb of Eucosmos behind it. Near them was the altar of Lathria and Anaxandra, and directly opposite the monuments of Theopompos and Eurybiades and Astrabacos. In an island in the marshes were the temple and altar of Artemis Orthia, and the fane of Eileithyia.

On the road leading from the Agora to Amyclæ[306] there were few remarkable monuments. One only, the temple of the Graces, is mentioned north of the Tiasa, and beyond it the Hippodrome; towards the west the temple of the Tyndaridæ near the road, and that of Poseidon Gaiouchos towards the river.[307]

Let us now consider the proofs on which the above description is based. Pausanias informs us that the citadel was the highest of the hills of Sparta. Colonel Leake observes that the eminence found in the quarter which I have assigned to the Cynosuræ is equal in height to that immediately behind the theatre; but the former is pointed and appears to have retained its natural shape, while the summit of the latter has been levelled for building. Now if its height be still equal, it must have been considerably greater before the levelling process took place. Therefore the hill behind the theatre was the Acropolis. Admitting this, the spacious flat or hollow immediately at its foot on the south-east side must have been the Agora,[308] for that the Agora was close to the citadel is clear from history, which represents Lycurgus and king Charilaos escaping thither from the market-place.[309] Again we know from Pausanias that it lay a little to the east of the theatre, having nothing between them but the cenotaph of Brasidas. The position of the Agora being thus fixed beyond dispute, we arrive 104with certainty at the direction of the four great streets that diverge from it; for, first, we know that the road to the Issorion lay towards the west; the road to Amyclæ towards the south. The street called Skias terminated at the extremity of the city between two small hills. These two hills are still there on the brink of the high ground overlooking the valley of the Eurotas on the east. This therefore was the direction of the Skias. As an additional proof, it may be mentioned that the temple of Hera Hypercheiria was erected in commemoration of the subsiding of an inundation of the Eurotas, which shows it must have been somewhere nearly within reach of the waters of that stream. For the street Aphetæ no direction is left but that towards the north-west or the north-east; but the latter led to the temple of Artemis Orthia in the Limnæ, the former to the temple of Dictynna. The street Aphetæ led therefore to the north-west, no other road being mentioned but that leading from Mount Thornax over the bridge Babyx, which was not the street called Aphetæ. Thus we have the direction of every one of the great streets of Sparta incontrovertibly determined. Proceed we now to establish the position, with respect to the citadel, of each of the five tribes who occupied as many quarters of the city. First we learn from Pausanias that the Pitanatæ inhabited the quarter round the Issorion:[310] from Pindar[311] and his scholiast that they dwelt likewise near the banks of the Eurotas. They possessed therefore the whole southern quarter of the city.[312] As the Limnatæ obtained their name from the marshes near which they lived, the position of the Limnæ determined by the chain of reasoning given above, proves them to have occupied the eastern quarter of the city directly opposite the temple of Artemis Orthia. 105That the tribe of the Ægidæ inhabited all that part extending in one direction from the Issorion to the Dromos, and in the other from the banks of the Tiasa to the Boonetos, may almost with certainty be inferred from the circumstance that the tomb of Ægeus, their founder, was situated in this quarter, close to the Lesche Pœcile. The quarter of the Mesoatæ lay in the north-west, between the Dromos and the temple of Dictynna; for here was found the tomb of Alcman who belonged to that tribe. All the rest of the site being thus occupied, there remains only for the tribe of the Cynosuræ that part lying between the road to Thornax and the temple of Dictynna, where accordingly we must suppose them to have lived.

With respect to the bridge Babyx, if bridge it really was, it appears very difficult[313] to believe that it spanned the Tiasa, though we still find massive ruins of arches in the channel of that stream. There seems to be much stronger reason for supposing it to have been thrown over the Eurotas, where the road from the Isthmus traversed it.[314] We should then understand by the oracle which commanded Lycurgus to assemble his people between Babyx and Cnacion,[315] that he was to gather them together anywhere within the precincts of the city. Accordingly we find in the time of Lycurgus, that the Agora in the centre of Sparta was the place were the Apellæ[316] were held. This, too, is evident, by the sense in which the matter was understood by Plutarch, who, speaking of the victory of the Bœotians over the Spartans at Tegyra, observes, that by this event it was made manifest that not the Eurotas, or the space between Babyx and 106Cnacion alone produced brave and warlike men.[317] Now it appears to me, that a few meadows without the city on which assemblies of the people were occasionally convened could never be said to produce these people. I have therefore supposed that Babyx was the bridge by which travellers coming from the Isthmus entered Sparta.

281. The plan which accompanies the present chapter, based on the description of Pausanias, agrees in many of the main points with that given by Mr. Müller in his map of the Peloponnesos. M. Barbie du Bocage’s Essay on the Topography of Sparta, upon the whole faulty, is, nevertheless, in my opinion, right with respect to the portion of the bridge Babyx which Mr. Müller throws over the Tiasa, contrary to all the reasonable inferences to be derived from history. Colonel Leake’s plan, given in his travels in the Morea, conveys a different idea of Spartan topography; but I am unable to reconcile his views with the account of the city in Pausanias, though I very much regret that the plan I have adopted should not be recommended by the support of a writer so learned and so ingenious.

282. III. 11–20. Cf. Polyb. v. 22. Liv. xxxiv. 26. seq.

283. In the precincts of this temple, evidently the strongest place in the city, the Ætolian mercenaries took refuge after the assassination of Nabis.—Liv. xxxv. 36.

284. Plut. Instit. Lacon. § 10. Chateaubriand, Itin. xi. 110. Poucqueville’s description of the stream is striking and picturesque: “The banks,” he says, “are bordered with never-fading laurels, which, inclining towards each other, form an arch over its waters, and seem still consecrated to the deities of whom its purity is a just emblem; while swans, even of a more dazzling whiteness than the snows that cover the mountain-tops above, are constantly sailing up and down the stream.”—Travels, p. 84. The Viscount Chateaubriand, however, sought in vain for these poetical birds, and, therefore, evidently considers them fabulous.

285. Strabo’s brief description of the site deserves to be mentioned: ἔστι μὲν οὖν ἐν κοιλοτέρῳ χωρίῳ τὸ τῆς πόλεως ἔδαφος, καίπερ ἀπολαμβάνον ὄρη μεταξύ. viii. 5. t. ii. p. 185.

286. Xen. Hellen. v. 5. 2.

287. At this ancient city Castor and Polydeukes were worshipped not as heroes but as divinities. Isoc. Encom. Helen. § 27. Cf. Pind. Pyth. xi. 60, sqq. Nem. x. 56. Dissen supposes these tombs to have been vaults under ground in the Phœbaion.—Comm. p. 508.

288. Steph. de Urb. v. Μενέλαος, p. 551, a. Berkel.—Polyb. v. 22.

289. Xen. Hellen. vi. 5. 27.

290. Thucyd. i. 10.

291. See Müller, Dor. ii. 48.

292. Paus. Olymp. vi. 27. Diss. ἡ Πιτάνη φυλή. Hesych. Cf. Herod. iii. 55. ix. 53. Eurip. Troad. 1101. Thucyd. I. 20. et schol. Plut. de Exil. § 6. Apophth. Lacon. Miscell. 48. Plin. H. N. iv. 8. Athen. i. 57. Near this κώμη were the villages of Œnos, Onoglæ and Stathmæ, celebrated for their wines.

293. Athen. iv. 74.

294. Strab. viii. 4. p. 184. 5. p. 187. The marshes existing in this quarter anciently had been drained by the age of Strabo:—ἀλλ᾽ οὐδέν γε μέρος αὐτοῦ λιμνάζει· τὸ δὲ παλαιὸν ἐλίμαζε τὸ προάστειον, καὶ ἐκάλουν αὐτὸ Λίμνας· καὶ τὸ τοῦ Διονύσου ἱερὸν ἐν Λίμναις ἐφ᾽ ὑγροῦ βεβήκος ἐτύγχανε· νῦν δ᾽ ἐπὶ ξηροῦ τὴν ἵδρυσιν ἔχει. 5. p. 185. seq.

295. Hesych. in v. Berkel. ad Steph. Byzant. p. 490. Schol. ad Callim. in Dian. 94. Spanh. Observ. in loc. p. 196.

296. Steph de Urb. in v. p. 554. b. who refers to Strabo (viii. 6. p. 187). The words of the geographer are Μεσόαν δ᾽ οὐ τὴς χώρας εἶναι μέρος, τῆς Σπάρτης δὲ καθάπερ καὶ τὸ Λιμναῖον. Paus. vii. 20. 8.

297. Herod. iv. 149.

298. Leake, Trav. in Morea, v. i. p. 154.

299. Cf. Chateaub. Itin. i. 112. Similar, also, is the testimony of Mr. Douglas. “The mixture of the romantic with the rich, which still diversifies its aspect, and the singularly picturesque form of all its mountains, do not allow us to wonder that even Virgil should generally desert his native Italy for the landscape of Greece; whoever has viewed it in the tints of a Mediterranean spring, will agree with me in attributing much of the Grecian genius to the influence of scenery and climate.” Essay, &c. p. 52.

300. Plut. Apophtheg. Lacon. Archid. 6. Lycurg. 7.

301. Σκιὰς, τὸ ᾠδεῖον ἐκαλεῖτο τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων κατὰ τὴν ἀρχαίαν φωνήν. κ. τ. λ.—Etym. Mag. 717. 36. seq.

302. Cf. Plut. Agis, § 10.

303. This theatre, as Mr. Douglas has observed, is the only remaining fragment of ancient Sparta, the other ruins still visible on its site, belonging all to Roman times.—Essay on certain Points of Resemblance between the Ancient and Modern Greeks, p. 23.

304. Ἰσσώριον, ὄρος τῆς Λακωνικῆς ἀφ’ οὗ ἡ Ἄρτεμις Ἰσσωρία.—Steph. Byz. in v. 426. d. with the note of Berkel. Cf. Hesych. in v. Polyæn. Strat. ii. 1. 14. Plut. Agesil. § 32.

305. Ἀλκμάν, Λάκων ἀπὸ Μεσσόας.—He was an erotic poet said to have been descended from servile parents.—Suid. i. p. 178. ed. Port.

306. Οὗ τὸ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος ἱερόν. Strab. viii. 5. t. ii. p. 185.

307. Xen. Hellen. vi. 5. 30.

308. Plut. Lycurg. § 11. Lacon. Apoph. Lycurg. 7.

309. Plut. Lycurg. § 5.

310. Polyæn. Stratag. ii. 1. 14. with the notes of Casaub. and Maasvic.

311. Olymp. vi. 28. Cf. Spanheim, ad Callim. in Dian. 172.

312. Cf. Athen. i. 57.

313. This, however, is the opinion of Mr. Müller, Dor. ii. 456.

314. See the passage in which Xenophon (v. 5. 27), describes the advance of the Thebans upon Sparta.

315. Plut. Lycurg. § 6.

316. Gœttl. ad Aristot. Pol. Excurs. i. p. 464.

317. Pelop. § 17.




Whether on education the Greeks thought more wisely than we do or not,[318] they certainly contemplated the subject from a more elevated point of view. They regarded it as the matrix in which future generations are fashioned, and receive that peculiar temperament and character belonging to the institutions that presided at their birth. Their theories were so large as to comprehend the whole developement of individual existence, from the moment when the human germ is quickened into life until the grave closes the scene, and in many cases looked still further; for the rites of initiation and a great part of their ethics had reference to another world. On this account we find their legislators possessed by extreme solicitude respecting the character of those teachers into whose 108hands the souls of the people were to be placed, to receive the first principles of good or evil, to be invigorated, raised, and purified by the former, or by the latter to be perverted, or precipitated down the slopes of vice and effeminacy, by which nations sink from freedom to servitude. Among them, moreover, it was never matter of doubt, whether the light of knowledge should be allowed to stream upon the summits of society only, or be suffered to descend into its lower depths and visit the cottages of the poor. Whatever education had to impart was, in most states, imparted to all the citizens, as far as their leisure or their capacity would permit them to receive it. The whole object, indeed, of education among the Greeks was to create good citizens, from which it has by some been inferred that they confined their views to the delivering of secular instruction. But this is to take a narrow and ignorant view of the subject, since religion was not only an element of education but regarded as of more importance than all its other elements taken together. For it had not escaped the Hellenic legislators, that in many circumstances of life man is placed beyond the reach and scrutiny of laws and public opinion, where he must be free to act according to the dictates of conscience, which, if not rightly trained, purified, and rendered clearsighted by religion, will often dictate amiss. It is of the utmost moment, therefore, that in these retired situations man should not consider himself placed beyond the range of every eye, and so be tempted to lay the foundation of habits which, begun in secrecy, may soon acquire boldness to endure the light and set the laws themselves at defiance. Accordingly over those retired moments in which man at first sight appears to commune with himself alone, religion was called in to teach that there were invisible inspectors, who registered, not only the evil deeds and evil words they witnessed, but even the evil thoughts and emotions of the heart, the first impulses to crime in the lowest abysses of the mind. Consistently with this view of 109the subject, we discover everywhere in Greek history and literature traces of an almost puritanical scrupulousness in whatever appeared to belong to religion, so that in addressing the Athenians St. Paul himself was induced to reproach them with the excesses of their devotional spirit, which degenerated too frequently into superstition. But the original design with which this spirit was cultivated was wise and good, its intention being to rescue men from the sway of their inferior passions,—from envy, from avarice, from selfishness, and to inspire them with faith in their own natural dignity by representing their actions as of sufficient importance to excite the notice, provoke the anger, or conciliate the favour of the immortal gods. This religion, which base and sordid minds regard as humiliating to humanity, was by Grecian lawgivers and founders of states contemplated as a kind of holy leaven designed by God himself, to pervade, quicken, and expand society to its utmost dimensions.

The question which commands so much attention in modern states, viz. whether education should be national and uniform, likewise much occupied the thoughts of ancient statesmen, and it is known that in most cases they decided in the affirmative. It may however be laid down as an axiom, that among a phlegmatic and passive-minded people, where the government has not yet acquired its proper form and developement, the establishment of a national system of education, complete in all its parts and extending to the whole body of the citizens, must be infallibly pernicious. For such as the government is at the commencement such very nearly will it continue, as was proved by the example of Crete and Sparta. For the Cretan legislators, arresting the progress of society at a certain point by the establishment of an iron system of education, before the popular mind had acquired its full growth and expansion, dwarfed the Cretan people completely, and by preventing their keeping pace with their countrymen 110rendered them in historical times inferior to all their neighbours. In Sparta, again, the form of polity given to the state by Lycurgus, wonderful for the age in which it was framed, obtained perpetuity solely by the operation of his pædonomical institutions. The imperfection, however, of the system arose from this circumstance, that the Spartan government was framed too early in the career of civilisation. Had its lawgiver lived a century or two later, he would have established his institutions on a broader and more elevated basis, so that they would have remained longer nearly on a level with the progressive institutions of neighbouring states. But he fixed the form of the Spartan commonwealth when the general mind of Greece had scarcely emerged from barbarism; and as the rigid and unyielding nature of his laws forbade any great improvement, Sparta continued to bear about her in the most refined ages of Greece innumerable marks of the rude period in which she had risen. From this circumstance flowed many of her crimes and misfortunes. Forbidden to keep pace with her neighbours in knowledge and refinement, which by rendering them inventive, enterprising, and experienced, elevated them to power, she was compelled, in order to maintain her ground, to have recourse to astuteness, stratagem, and often to perfidy.

The Spartan system, it is well known, made at first, and for some ages, little or no use of books. But this, at certain stages of society, was scarcely an evil;[319] for knowledge can be imparted, virtues implanted and cherished, and great minds ripened to maturity without their aid. The teacher, in this case, rendered wise by meditation and experience, takes the place of a book, and by oral communication, by precept, and by example, instructs, and disciplines, and moulds his pupil into what he would have him be. By this process 111both are benefited. The preceptor’s mind, kept in constant activity, acquires daily new force and expansion; and the pupil’s in like manner. In a state, therefore, like that of Sparta, in the age of Lycurgus, it was possible to acquire all necessary knowledge without books, of which indeed very few existed. But afterwards, when the Ionian republics began to be refined and elevated by philosophy and literature, Sparta, unable to accompany them, fell into the background: still preserving, however, her warlike habits she was enabled on many occasions to overawe and subdue them.

Among the Athenians,[320] though knowledge was universally diffused, there existed, properly speaking, no system of national education. The people, like their state, were in perpetual progress, aiming at perfection, and sometimes approaching it; but precipitated by the excess of their intellectual and physical energies into numerous and constantly recurring errors. While Sparta, as we have seen, remained content with the wisdom indigenous to her soil, scanty and imperfect as it was, Athens converted herself into one vast mart, whither every man who had anything new to communicate hastened eagerly, and found the sure reward of his ingenuity. Philosophers, sophists, geometricians, astronomers, artists, musicians, actors, from all parts of Greece and her most distant colonies, flocked to Athens to obtain from its quick-sighted, versatile, impartial, and most generous people that approbation which in the ancient world constituted fame. Therefore, although the laws regulated the material circumstances of the schools and gymnasia, prescribed the hours at which they should be opened and closed, and watched earnestly over the morals both of preceptors and pupils, there was a constant indraught of fresh science, a perpetually increasing experience and knowledge of the world, and, consequent thereupon, a deep-rooted conviction of their superiority over their neighbours, 112an impatience of antiquated forms, and an audacious reliance on their own powers and resources which betrayed them into the most hazardous schemes of ambition.

But, by pushing too far their literary and philosophical studies, the Athenians were induced at length to neglect the cultivation of the arts of war, which they appeared to regard as a low and servile drudgery. And this capital error, in spite of all their acquirements and achievements in eloquence and philosophy,—in spite of their lofty speculation and “style of gods,” brought their state to a premature dissolution; while Sparta, with inferior institutions, and ignorance which even the children at Athens would have laughed at, was enabled much longer to preserve its existence, from its impassioned application to the use of arms, aided, perhaps, by a stronger and more secluded position. From this it appears that of all sciences that of war is the chiefest, since, where this is cultivated, a nation may maintain its independence without the aid of any other; whereas the most knowing, refined, and cultivated men, if they neglect the use of arms, will not be able to stand their ground against a handful even of barbarians. They mistake, too, who look upon literature and the sciences as a kind of palladium against barbarism,[321] for a whole nation may read and write, like the inhabitants of the Birman empire, without being either civilised or wise; and may possess the best books and the power to read them, without being able to profit by the lessons of wisdom they contain, as is proved by the example of the Greeks and Romans, who perished rather from a surfeit of knowledge than from any lack of instruction. But it is time, perhaps, to quit these general speculations, and proceed to develope, as far as existing monuments will enable us, the several systems of education which prevailed in the different parts of Greece.

113Among Hellenic legislators the care of children commenced before their birth. Their mothers were subject while pregnant to the operation of certain rules; their food and exercises were regulated, and in most cases the laws, or at least the manners, required them to lead a sedentary, inactive, and above all a tranquil life.[322] Physicians, guided by experience, prescribed a somewhat abstemious diet; and wine was prohibited, or only permitted to be taken with water, which, where reason is consulted, we find to be the practice at the present day. But Lycurgus, in the article of exercise, gave birth to, or, at least, sanctioned, customs wholly different.[323] Even while enceinte his women were required to be abroad, engaged in their usual athletic recreations, eating as before and drinking as before.

On this occasion, too, as on all others, the deep-rooted piety of the nation displayed itself. Prayers and sacrifices were habitually offered up by all married persons for children, as afterwards by Christian ladies to the saints;[324] and these of course were not discontinued, when it appeared by unequivocal signs that their desires had begun to receive their fulfilment. What the divinities were whom on these occasions the Athenian matrons invoked under the name of Tritopatores, it seems difficult to determine. Demon in Suidas[325] supposes them to be the winds; but Philochoros, the most learned of ancient writers on the antiquities of Attica, imagined them to be the first three sons of Helios and Gaia. According to some they were called Cottos or Coros, Gyges or Gyes, and Briareus; according to others Amalcides, 114Protocles, and Protocleon, the watchers and guardians of the wind. There are authors, moreover, by whom they have been confounded with the Dii Kabyri of Samothrace.

During the period of their confinement women were supposed to be under the protection of Eileithyia. This goddess, who by Olen the Lycian was considered older than Kronos,[326] had the honour as certain mythical legends relate, of being the mother of love,[327] though several ancient authors appear to have confounded her with Pepromene or Fate, others with Hera, and others again with Artemis or the moon. The traditions of the mythology respecting this divinity were various. Her worship seems to have made its first appearance among the Greeks in the island of Delos, whither she is said to have come from the country of the Hyperboreans, to lend her aid to Leto, when beneath the palm tree, which Zeus caused to spring up over her,[328] she gave birth to the gods of night and day. From that time forward she was held in veneration by the Delians, who in her honour offered up sacrifices, chaunting the hymns of Olen, whence we may infer she was a Pelasgian deity.

From thence her name and worship were diffused through the other islands and states of Hellas; though the Cretans pretended that she was born at Amnisos in the Knossian territory, and was a daughter of Hera. The Athenians, who erected a temple to Eileithyia appeared to favour both traditions, since of the two statues which were found in her fane the more ancient was said to have been brought from Delos by Erisicthon, while the second, dedicated by Phædra, came from Crete. Among the Athenians, alone, as an indication of the national modesty, the wooden images of this mysterious divinity were significantly veiled to the toes.[329]

115The simple delicacy of remoter ages required women to be attended, while becoming mothers, by individuals of their own sex. But the contrary practice, now general among civilised nations, prevailed early at Athens, where the study of medicine, in which the accoucheur’s[330] art is included, was prohibited to women and slaves. The consequences bear stronger testimony to the refined taste and truly feminine feelings of the Athenian ladies than a thousand panegyrics. Numbers, rather than submit to the immodest injunctions of fashion, declined all aid, and perished in their harems: observing which, and moved strongly by the desire to preserve the lives of her noble-minded countrywomen, a female citizen named Agnodice, disguised as a man, acquired a competent knowledge of the theory and practice of physic in the medical school of Herophilos; she then confided her secret to the women who universally determined to avail themselves of her services, and in consequence her practice became so extensive that the jealousy of the other practitioners was violently excited. In revenge, therefore, as she still maintained her disguise, they preferred an accusation against her in the court of Areiopagos as a general seducer. To clear herself Agnodice made known her sex, upon which the envious Æsculapians prosecuted her under the provisions of the old law. In behalf of their benefactress the principal gentlewomen appeared in court, and mingling the highest testimony in favour of Agnodice with many bitter reproaches, they not only obtained her acquittal, but the repeal of the obnoxious law, and permission for any free woman to become an accoucheuse.[331]

Mention is made by ancient writers of several rude and hardy tribes, whose women, like those of Hindùstân at the present day, stood in very little need of 116the midwife’s aid. Thus Varro,[332] speaking of the rough shepherdesses of Italy, observes that among the countrywomen of Illyria, bringing forth children was regarded as a slight matter; for that, stepping aside from their work in the fields, they would return presently with an infant in their arms, having first bathed it in some fountain or running stream, appearing rather to have found, than given birth to, a child. Nor are the manners of these uncultivated people at all altered in modern times, as appears from an anecdote related to Pietro Vittore,[333] by Francesco Sardonati, professor of Latin at Ragusa, who said that he saw a woman go out empty-handed to a forest for wood, and return shortly afterwards with a bundle on her head and a new-born infant in her arms. At Athens, however, where the women were peculiarly tender and delicate, the young mother remained within doors full six weeks,[334] when the festival of the fortieth day was celebrated, after which she went forth, as our ladies do to be churched, to offer up sacrifices and return thanks in the temple of Artemis or some other divinity.

New-born infants, when designed to be reared, were at Athens and in the rest of Greece bathed in cold water: at Sparta in wine, with the view of producing convulsions and death should the child be feeble, whereas, were its constitution strong and vigorous, it would thus they imagined, “acquire a greater degree of firmness, and get a temper in proportion, as Potter[335] expresses it, like steel in the quenching.” Swaddling-bands[336] also, in use throughout the rest of Greece, were banished from Sparta, which led the way therefore to that improved system of infant management advocated by Rousseau, Lacépède and others,[337] and now generally adopted in 117this country, though but partially in France. The ceremonies and customs of the Greeks were a kind of symbolical language, many times containing important meaning, and always perhaps indicative of the character and familiar feelings of the race. Much stress was laid on the thing wherein the infant was placed upon its entrance into the world. This, among the Athenians, consisted of a wrapper adorned with an embroidered figure of the Gorgon’s head, the device represented on the shield of Athena, tutelar divinity of the state. From the beginning every citizen seemed thus to be placed under the immediate shelter of that goddess’s ægis which should be extended over him in peace and in war. In other parts of Greece the child’s first bed, and too frequently his last, was a shield.[338] In accordance with this custom we find Alcmena cradling her twin boys Heracles and Iphicles in Amphytrion’s buckler; and the same practice prevailed, as might have been expected, at Sparta, where war constituted to men the sole object of life.[339] Elsewhere other symbols spoke to the future sense rather than the present of the new citizen. In agricultural countries the military symbol was replaced by a winnowing van, not unfrequently of gold or other costly materials;[340] though it may be doubted whether the word so rendered meant not rather a cradle in the form of that rustic implement.

In another custom, long on these occasions observed, we discern traces of that serpent-worship which at different epochs diffused itself so widely over the world. Among opulent and noble families 118at Athens new-born children were laid on golden amulets in the form of dragons by which they were supposed to commemorate Athena’s delivery of Erichthonios to the care of two guardians of that description.[341]

But under certain circumstances, instead of the joy and gladness by which the noble and the great are greeted on their entrance into the world, the birth of a child was, as in Thrace,[342] an event fraught with sorrow and misery. It announced in fact the approach of an enemy, of one who, if he survived, must snatch from them a portion of what already would scarcely sustain life. Together with the announcement of his birth, therefore, came the awful consciousness that war must be made on him—that he must in short be cast forth, a scape-goat for the sins of society, not for his own—that his parents who should have cherished him, whose best solace he should have been, must steel their hearts and close fast their ears against the voice of nature, and become his executioners. The poor-laws of Greece, or rather their substitutes for poor-laws, were exceedingly imperfect, and foundling hospitals had not been introduced. They got rid of their surplus population, as many nations still do, by murder; for infanticide, under various forms, has more or less prevailed in all civilised countries, if the term civilised can properly be applied to nations among whom crimes so demoralising are habitually perpetrated. No doubt the sullen reluctance of a father to imbrue his hands in the blood of his child produced daily many a heart-rending scene; no doubt the sting of want must have been keenly felt before the habit of slaughter was confirmed;—but the fashion once set, children were thrown into an earthen pot and 119exposed in mountainous and desert places to perish of cold, or fall a prey to carnivorous birds[343] or wolves, as coolly as they are murdered by their young and frail mothers in our own Christian land.

Under all circumstances, however, the parents thus criminal are objects of pity. Misery is blind, and crime is blind. But what shall we say to those priests of humanity, those sacred and reverend interpreters of nature,—the philosophers who come forward to sanction and justify the practice? It would be criminal to disguise the fact, that both Plato and Aristotle, the great representatives of the wisdom of the Pagan world,[344] conceived infanticide, under certain circumstances, to be allowable. Near, therefore, as the former stood to the truths of Christianity, there was still a cloud between him and them. What he saw, he saw through a glass darkly. Christ had not then stamped the seal of divinity upon human nature, had not shed abroad that light by which alone we discover the true features of crime, no less than the true features of holiness. Philosophy is beautiful; but with the beauty of one involuntarily polluted. Religion alone, breathing of heaven, radiant with light, reflected on its whole form from the face of God, is lovely altogether without spot or blemish. The Greeks wanting this guide went astray. They looked at the question of population as coarse utilitarians,—all but the gross, unintellectual Thebans, who, relying on the vast fertility of their soil, or led by some better instinct, on this point soared high above their cultivated neighbours, an example of how the foolish things of this world, even in the unregenerate state of nature, may sometimes confound the wise. Among the Tyrrhenians,[345] likewise, a people of Pelasgian origin, infanticide was unknown, probably 120because among them it was accounted no disgrace to be the parents of illegitimate offspring; indeed the sense of shame could not, in any case, be very keen among a people whose female slaves served naked at table, and where even the ladies appeared at public entertainments in the same state, drinking bumpers and joining freely in the conversation of the men.

In the modern world to take the life of an infant is a capital offence, yet we see with how little fear or ceremony the law is set at nought. It will, therefore, readily be supposed that in those countries of antiquity where neither law nor public opinion opposed the practice, but in some cases winked at, in others enjoined it, the number of child-murders must have been enormous. Sparta very naturally took the lead in this guilty course.[346] Here it was not permitted to private individuals to make away with their offspring stealthily, and with those marks of shame and compunction inseparable from individual guilt. The state monopolized the right to Herodise, and by sharing the criminality among great numbers appeared to silence the objections of conscience. Fathers were compelled by law to bring their new-born infants to certain officers, old, grave men,[347] who held their sittings in the Lesche of their tribe, and after due deliberation determined on the claim of each child to live or die. By what rules they decided, rude and ignorant of physiology as they were, it would now be impossible positively to affirm. Little skill no doubt had they in detecting the latent seeds of robustness and physical energy, still less those of splendid mental endowments lurking in the crimson countenance of helpless infancy. They who might have proved the wise and good of their generation no doubt often went instead of the mere animal. However, giving orders that the strong and apparently healthy should 121be nursed, the weakly and delicate, often the noblest men, and the bravest soldiers, as witness Lucius Sulla, were condemned to be cast like so many puppy dogs into the Apothetæ, a deep cavern at the foot of Mount Taygetos. This den of death relieved the Spartans from the necessity of erecting workhouses or enacting poor-laws. The surplus population went into that pit.

To a certain extent, and in a mitigated form, the same practice prevailed at Athens. Here, however, it was more a matter of custom than of law, and in this respect differed materially[348] from the practice of Sparta, that it was left entirely to the father to determine the fate of his children. Accordingly, the more cold-blooded had recourse to murder, while the less atrocious exposed them in jars in desert places to perish, or in the thronged and crowded quarters of the city in the hope that they might excite in others that compassion, which he, their father, denied them.[349] And humane individuals were often found who, like our Squire Allworthy, would sympathise with these deserted creatures.[350] Numerous examples occur in the comic poets. In these cases poverty was no doubt the motive, particularly when boys were exposed; but even wealthy persons, reasoning like the Rajpoots of northern India, would prefer exposing their daughters, to the care and expense of educating them to an uncertain destiny. On these occasions the child was dressed and swaddled more or less carefully, placed in a large earthen vessel called a chytra,[351]—the same in which soup was made, and which ought, therefore, to have awakened humane associations,—and laid at the mouth of some cave without the walls, or in such situations as I have above described. To this custom allusion is made in the anecdote of a foundling, who amusing himself by rolling a chytra before 122him with his foot, “What! exclaimed some one desirous of reminding him of his origin, have you the impiety to kick your mother in the belly?”[352]

Sometimes when the object was rather to escape shame than to shun the expense of education, rings, jewels, or other valuable tokens were suspended about the child, or put along with it into the chytra.[353] And in the comic writers these usually assist in bringing about a discovery. If they fell into the hands of the poor the costly marks of noble birth, always held in honour by the ignorant and needy, would perhaps tempt them to preserve and cherish the off-cast, as in the case of Shakespeare’s Perdita, or in the event of death, would defray the expenses of their funerals. Sometimes superstition operated on their minds, urging them into a mock show of sharing their possessions with the little wretches they abandoned.[354] Thus Sostrata, wife of Chremes, in the Self-tormentor delivered along with her little daughter to the person who was to expose it, a ring from her own finger to be left with the child, that should it die it might not be wholly deprived of all share of their property. Such also is the behaviour of Creusa in Euripides; for Hermes, whom the poet introduces unfolding the argument of the drama, relates that when the young princess laid her new-born son to perish in the cavern, where he had been conceived, she took off her costly ornaments and with them decked her devoted boy.[355]

From another part of the same play it may be inferred that children were often exposed on the steps of Apollo’s temple at Delphi, and nurtured by the Pythoness.[356] Indeed the priestess, on discovering Ion, who had been brought thither by Hermes from Attica, concludes at once that some unfortunate Delphian 123girl[357] is his mother, and adopts him under that impression. From the sequel it would appear that such children were the slaves of the temple, and under the immediate protection of the god.[358]

In the plain of Eleutheræ, near the temple of Dionysos, is a cavern, and close beside it a fountain. Here, according to the poets, Antiope brought forth Zethos and Amphion, twin sons of Zeus, whom, to conceal her shame, she abandoned where they were born. The infants were immediately afterwards discovered by a shepherd, who, having bathed them in the neighbouring spring, took them to his cot, where they were brought up as his own children.[359] The catastrophe of many an ancient play was brought about by a discovery of the real characters of persons who had been exposed in infancy. Thus Œdipus, whose story is too well known to need repetition, was abandoned on Mount Cithæron. The daughters of Phineus,[360] of whom nothing else has come down to us, had been cast forth in infancy and preserved, and were afterwards brought to be put to death on the same spot; by alluding to which their lives were saved. The sons,[361] likewise, of Tyro, Peleus and Neleus, were deserted by their mother, who placed them in a little bark or chest on the banks of the Enipeus, a circumstance which served afterwards to reveal the parentage of the twins. The story of Romulus and Remus, who were thus abandoned by their vestal mother, is familiar to every reader; and from the example of Moses recorded in the sacred volume, we may infer that the exposing of children was common in remoter ages in Egypt. Pindar,[362] in relating the birth of the prophet Iamos, presents us with a poetical picture of one of these unhappy transactions. 124Evadne, daughter of Poseidon by the river-nymph Pitana, dwelling at the court of Æpytos a king of Arcadia, going forth, like the daughters of the Patriarchs, to draw water from a fountain, is overtaken by her birth-pangs.

“Her crimsoned girdle down was flung,
The silver ewer beside her laid,
Amid a tangled thicket, hung
With canopy of brownest shade;
When forth the glorious babe she brought,
His soul instinct with heavenly thought.
Sent by the golden-tressed god,
Near her the Fates indulgent stood,
With Eileithyia mild.
One short sweet pang released the child,
And Iamos sprang forth to light.
A wail she uttered; left him then,
Where on the ground he lay;
When straight two dragons came,
With eyes of azure flame,
By will divine awaked out of their den;
And with the bees’ unharmful venom they
Fed him, and nursled through the night and day.
The king meanwhile had come
From stony Pytho driving, and at home
Did of them all after the boy inquire
Born of Evadne; for, he said, the sire
Was Phœbos, and that he
Should of earth’s prophets wisest be,
And that his generation should not fail.
Not to have seen or heard him they avouched,
Now five days born. But he, on rushes couched,
Was covered up in that wide brambly maze;
His delicate body met
With yellow and empurpled rays
From many a violet:
And hence his mother bade him claim
For ever this undying name.”

Generally, it would appear, illegitimate children were exposed in the neighbourhood of the Gymnasium, in the Cynosarges, because, as suggested by Suidas, Heracles, who was himself a bastard, had a temple there.

On the subject of infanticide the Thebans,[363] as I 125have said, entertained juster sentiments than the rest of their countrymen. By their institutions it was made a capital crime; but because severe laws would not furnish the indigent with the means of supporting the children they were forbidden to kill, they by another enactment provided for their maintenance. If a poor man found himself unable to support an addition to his family, he was commanded to bear his children immediately from the birth, wrapped in swaddling-clothes, to the magistrates, who disposed of them for a small sum to wealthy people in want of children or servants: for, according to the Theban laws, they who undertook the charge of foundlings, if they may be so called, were entitled to their services in return for their nursing and education.

Connected with infanticide is another subject equally important, but of very difficult treatment; that is practices to destroy the infant before the birth.[364] In modern nations all such offences are theoretically visited with very severe punishment by the law, and public opinion so strongly condemns them that no one solicitous of upholding a respectable character in society will dare to be their apologist. It was otherwise in antiquity. The greatest dread of a superabundant population was in many states felt, and led to customs and acts of a very nefarious nature; for some classes of which, if not for all, writers of highest eminence are found to plead. Thus Pliny,[365] commonly a great declaimer 126in behalf of virtue, admits that some artificial limit should be put to female productiveness; and Aristotle, despite his far nobler and more generous ethics, had on this point no loftier views. The regulations also of the Cretan Minos—but let them remain in the obscurity which encompasses his entire code.

Among the Romans several modern writers appear to suppose the existence of more humane feelings, for which it would certainly have been difficult to account. An ancient law attributed to Romulus has misled them. By this it was enacted that no male child should be exposed; and that of daughters the first should be permitted to live, while the others having been brought up till they were three years old, might then if judged expedient be destroyed.[366] The legislator, it is argued, knew human nature too well to fear that parents who had preserved their children three years would after that take away their lives. But infants exceedingly mutilated or deformed might be killed at once, having first been shown to five neighbours, and these neighbours, like the overseers of murder at Lacedæmon, were probably lax in interpreting the law, which, acknowledging the principle, would easily tolerate variations in the practice.[367] Be this, however, as it may, child-murder and child dropping were in imperial times of ordinary occurrence at Rome. There was in the Herb-market a pillar called the “Milky column,”[368] whither foundlings were brought to be suckled by public nurses, or to be fed with milk—for the passage in Festus may be both ways interpreted, and their numbers would seem to have been considerable. The Christian writers constantly 127object the practice of infanticide to the Romans. “You cast forth your sons,” says Tertullian,[369] “to be picked up and nourished by the first woman that passes.” And the poor, as Ambrose remarks, would desert and expose their little ones, and if caught deny them to be theirs.[370] Others adopted more decisive measures, and instead of exposing strangled them.[371] Probably, moreover, it was the atrocious device of legislators to get rid of their superabundant population that gave rise to the rite of child-sacrificing known to have prevailed among the Phœnicians, who passed their children through fire to Moloch; and among their descendants the Carthaginians,[372] who offered up infants to their gods, as at the present day our own idolatrous subjects in the East cast forth their first-born infants on islands at the mouth of the Ganges, to be devoured by the alligators. In China Christianity has performed for infancy the same humane duty as in ancient Rome, as many of the converts made by the Jesuits consisted of foundlings whom they had picked up when cast forth by their parents to perish in the streets.

318. Dion Chrysostom tells a curious story respecting a blunder of the Athenians on this subject. Apollo once commanding them, if they desired to become good citizens, to put whatever was most beautiful in the ears of their sons, they bored one of the lobes, and inserted a gold earring, not comprehending the meaning of the God. But this ornament would better have suited their daughters or the sons of Lydians or Phrygians; but for the offspring of Greeks, nothing could have been intended by the God but education and reason, the possessors of which would probably become good men, and the preservers of their country.—Orat. xxxii. t. i. p. 653. sqq.—The popular maxim that knowledge is power may be traced to Plato.—De Rep. v. t. vi. p. 268.

319. Montagne relates, in his Travels (t. iii. p. 51), an instance of how the mind may be cultivated, particularly in poetry, by persons ignorant of the art of reading and writing. His Lucchese improvisatrice may be regarded as a match for the ancient rhapsodists.

320. Cf. Plat. De Legg. vii. t. viii. p. 1.

321. Notwithstanding that Plato regards knowledge as the medicine of the soul.—Crit. t. vii. p. 145.—Cf. t. viii. p. 2. seq.—Aristot. Ethic. vi. 13.

322. Plat. de Legg. l. vii. t. viii. pp. 4. et 11.—During the pregnancy of women great care was taken not to bring into the house the wood of the ostrya or carpinus ostrys, the appearance of which was ominous of difficult births, or even of sudden death. Theoph. Hist. Plant. iii. 10. 3.

323. Xenoph. de Rep. Laced. i. 3. Perizon. ad Ælian. Var. Hist. x. 13.

324. Theodoret. iv. 921.

325. v. Τριτοπ. t. ii. p. 947. b. seq. Cf. Siebel. ad Frag. Philoch. p. 11. Meurs. Græc. Fer. p. 264. Lect. Att. iii. 1. Vales. in Harpoc. p. 223. seq.

326. Paus. viii. 21. 3.

327. Paus. ix. 27. 2. Cf. Cic. de Nat. Deor. iii. 23.

328. Callim. ii. 4.

329. Paus. i. 18. 5. Cf. Keightley, Mythol. p. 193. In Arcadia, also, this goddess was so closely draped that nothing was visible but the countenance, fingers, and toes.—Paus. vii. 23. 5.

330. The duties of an accoucheuse are briefly enumerated by Max. Tyr. Dissert. xxviii. p. 333. Cf. Pignor. de Serv. 184.

331. Hygin. Fab. 274.

332. De Re Rust. ii. 10.

333. Var. Lect. xxxiv. 2.

334. Meurs. Græc. Fer. p. 260. sqq. Censor. de Die Natali. c. 11.

335. Antiq. ii. 320.

336. Coray, ad Hippoc. de Aër. et Loc. ii. 309.

337. Even so early as the age of Montaigne the necessity of some change was felt. “Les liaisons et emmaillottements des enfans ne sont non plus necessaires.” He then alludes to the practice of the Spartan nurses.—Essais, ii. 12. However, in certain habits of body, swaddling is not merely useful, but necessary: as Hippocrates remarks in his account of the Scythians (de Aër. et Loc. § 101), and as his able commentator, Coray, confirms by example. ubi sup.

338. Theoc. Eidyll. xxiv. 4. ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τὰς. Plut. Lacæn. Apophtheg. t. ii. p. 187.

339. Nonn. Dionys. xli. 168. seq. Sch. Thucyd. ii. 39.

340. Callim. Hymn. in Jov. 48.

341. Eurip. Ion. 15. sqq.—There were certain amulets, too, called περίαπτα which superstitious mothers hung about the necks of their children to defend them from fascination and the evil eye. Pollux, iv. 182. Vict. in Arist. Ethic. Nicom. p. 42.

342. Sext. Empir. p. 186.

343. Vict. (Var. Lect. ii. 3) has an useful chapter on the exposing of infants, in which he has collected several valuable testimonies.

344. Plato, de Rep. v. § 9. p. 359. Stallb. Aristot. Pol. vii. 16. Cf. Lips. Epist. ad Belg. Cent. 1. c. 85. with the work of Gerard Noodt, entitled “Julius Paulus,” in opp. Lugd. Bat. 1726. pp. 567, seq. 591. seq. Elmenhorst. ad Minuc. Felic. Octav. 289. ed. Ouzel.

345. Athen. xii. 14.

346. Compare the coolness of Hase. p. 190. Müller. ii. 313. with Lamb. Bos. p. 212. seq. and the humane remarks of Ubbo Emmius iii. 83. Potter, too (ii. 326. sqq.), seems to disapprove of the practice.

347. Plut. Lycurg. 16.

348. Petit is of the contrary opinion, but his authorities by no means bear him out.—Legg. Att. lib. ii. tit. 4. p. 144.

349. Paulus, ap. Petit. ubi sup.

350. On the ceremony of adoption, see Potter ii. 335. Compare Lady Montague’s Works, iii. 12.

351. Sch. Aristoph. Vesp. 289, or sometimes ὄστρακον, Ran. 1221.

352. Sch. Aristoph. Thesmoph. 509.

353. Vict. Var. Lect. ii. 3. Aristot. Poet. xvi.

354. Terent. Heautontim. iv. i. 36 seq. Victor. Var. Lect. ii. 3. Cf. Ter. Hecyr. iii. 3. 31. sqq.

355. Eurip. Ion, 26. seq. Cf. 15. sqq.

356. Conf. Hypoth. Ion.

357. Δελφίδων τλαίη κόρη. κ. τ. λ. Ion, 44. sqq.

358. Ion, 53. sqq.

359. Paus. ii. 6. 4.—Cf. Casaub. Diatrib. in Dion. Chrysost. ii. 469.

360. Aristot. Poet. xvi. 8. cum not. Herm. p. 156.

361. Arist. Poet. xvi. 3.

362. Olymp. vi. 39. sqq. Diss. I give the passage as it is elegantly translated by Mr. Cary.

363. Ælian, Var. Hist. ii. 7.—Cf. Phil. Jud. de Legg. Special. p. 543.

364. See in Pollux, ii. 7. and iv. 208. a whole vocabulary of terms connected with this practice. In his note on the former passage, p. 297. Iungermann refers to the Commentaries of Camerarius, c. 32. Cf. Comm. in Poll. p. 507. seq. p. 541. et 891. seq. Tim. Lex. Plat. v. ἐξαμβλοῦν. cum. not. Ruhnken. p. 62. ed. Lond. Plat. Theæt. t. iii. p. 190. Max. Tyr. xvi. p. 179. Jacob Gensius (Victimæ Humanæ, pt. ii. p. 247. seq.), enters fully into the question of abortion, which at Rome, according to Justin, was procured to preserve the shape. The same practice prevails in Formosa.—Richteren, Voyage de la Compagnie des Indes, v. p. 70. Compare Lactant. v. p. 278. Phocyl. v. 172. seq.

365. Hist. Nat. xxxix. 27. t. viii. p. 404. Franz. Impie satis, as Kühn observes in his note on Ælian, Var. Hist. ii. 7. Arist. Pol. vii. 15. 253. Gœttl. Cf. Foës. Œcon. Hippoc. vv. Ἀμβλῶσαι and ἀποφθορά.

366. Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. i. 81; ii. 15.

367. Seneca, de Irâ, l. i. Apuleius Metam. x. where a husband gives command for the destruction of his daughter immediately on her birth.—Ap. Lips. Epist. ad Belgas, Cent. i. p. 818. seq.

368. Fest. v. Lactaria Columna.

369. Apolog. c. 9.

370. Hexæm. l. v. c. 18.

371. Arnob. cont. Gent. viii. Lactant. Instit. vi. 20. ap. Lips. Epist. ad Belg. 819.

372. Vid. Festus, v. Puelli.—In Syria children were sacrificed to the goddess, in like manner with other victims, by being tied up in a sack and then flung down from the lofty propylæa of her temple, their parents, in the mean while, overwhelming them with contumely, and protesting they were not children, but oxen.—Lucian. De Syriâ Deâ, § 58.



To quit, however, this melancholy topic: while the poor, as we have seen, were driven by despair to imbrue their hands in the blood of their offspring, their more wealthy neighbours celebrated the birth of a child[373] with a succession of banquets and rejoicings. Of these, the first was held on the fifth day from the birth, when took place the ceremony called Amphidromia, confounded by some ancient authors with the festival of the tenth day.[374] On this occasion the accoucheuse or the nurse, to whose care the child was now definitively consigned,[375] having purified her hands with water,[376] ran naked[377] with the infant in her arms, and accompanied by all the other females of the family, in the same state, round the hearth,[378] which was regarded as the altar of Hestia, the Vesta of the Romans. By this ceremony the child was initiated in the rites of religion and placed under the protection of the fire goddess, probably with the same view that infants are baptized among us.

Meanwhile the passer-by was informed that a fifth-day feast was celebrating within, by symbols suspended on the street-door, which, in case of a boy, consisted 129in an olive crown; and of a lock of wool, alluding to her future occupations, when it was a girl.[379] Athenæus, apropos of cabbage, which was eaten on this occasion, as well as by ladies “in the straw,”[380] as conducing to create milk, quotes a comic description of the Amphidromia from a drama of Ephippos, which proves they were well acquainted with the arts of joviality.

“How is it
No wreathed garland decks the festive door,
No savoury odour creeps into the nostrils
Since ’tis a birth-feast? Custom, sooth, requires
Slices of rich cheese from the Chersonese,
Toasted and hissing; cabbage too in oil,
Fried brown and crisp, with smothered breast of lamb.
Chaffinches, turtle-doves, and good fat thrushes
Should now be feathered; rows of merry guests
Pick clean the bones of cuttle-fish together,
Gnaw the delicious feet of polypi,
And drink large draughts of scarcely mingled wine.[381]

A sacrifice[382] was likewise this day offered up for the life of the child, probably to the god Amphidromos, first mentioned, and therefore supposed to have been invented by Æschylus.[383] It has moreover been imagined that the name was now imposed, and gifts were presented by the friends and household slaves.[384]

But it was on the seventh day that the child generally received its name,[385] amid the festivities of another banquet; though sometimes this was deferred till the tenth.[386] The reason is supplied by Aristotle.[387] They delayed the naming thus long, he says, because most children that perish in extreme infancy die before the seventh day, which being passed they considered their lives more secure. The eighth day was chosen by other persons for bestowing the name, and, this considered 130the natal day, was solemnized annually as the anniversary of its birth, on which occasion it was customary for the friends of the family to assemble together, and present gifts to the child, consisting sometimes of the polypi and cuttle-fish[388] to be eaten at the feast. However the tenth day[389] appears to have been very commonly observed. Thus Euripides:[390]

“Say, who delighting in a mother’s claim
Mid tenth-day feasts bestowed the ancestral name?”

Aristophanes, too, on the occasion of naming his Bird-city, which a hungry poet pretends to have long ago celebrated, introduces Peisthetæros saying,

“What! have I not but now the sacrifice
Of the tenth day completed and bestowed
A name as on a child?”[391]

Connected with this custom, there is a very good anecdote in Polyænos, from which Meursius[392] infers that there existed among the Greeks something like the office of sponsor. Jason, tyrant of Pheræ, most of whose stratagems were played off against members of his own family, had a brother named Meriones, extremely opulent, but to the last degree close-fisted, particularly towards him. When at length a son was born to Jason, he invited to the Nominalia many principal nobles of Thessaly, and among others his brother Meriones, who was to preside over the ceremonies. In these he was probably occupied the whole day, during which, under pretence, apparently, of providing some choice game for his guests, the tyrant went out for a few hours with his dogs and usual followers. His real object, however, soon appeared. Making direct for Pagasæ, where his brother’s castle stood, he stormed the place, and seizing on Meriones’ treasures, to the amount of twenty talents, returned in all speed to the banquet. Here, 131by way of showing his fraternal consideration, he delegated to his brother the honour of pouring forth the libations, and bestowing the name, which was the father’s prerogative. But Meriones receiving from one of the tyrant’s attendants a hint of what had taken place, called the boy “Porthaon,” or the “Plunderer.”[393] At Athens the feast and sacrifice took place at night, with much pomp, and all the glee which such an occasion was calculated to inspire.[394]

On the bestowing of the name Potter’s information is particularly full. He is probably right, too, in his conjecture, that in most countries the principal object of calling together so great a number of friends to witness this ceremony was to prevent such controversies as might arise when the child came out into the business of the world. But at Athens the Act of Registration[395] rendered such witnesses scarcely necessary. The right of imposing the name belonged, as hinted above, to the father, who likewise appears to have possessed the power afterwards to alter it if he thought proper. They were compelled to follow no exact precedent; but the general rule resembled one apparently observed by nature, which, neglecting the likeness in the first generation, sometimes reproduces it with extraordinary fidelity in the second. Thus, the grandson inheriting often the features, inherited also very generally the name of his grandfather,[396] and precisely the same rule applied to women; the granddaughter nearly always receiving her grandmother’s name.[397] Thus, Andocides, son of Leagoras, bore the name of his grandfather; the father and son of Miltiades were named Cimon; the father and son of Hipponicos, Cleinias.[398] The orator Lysias formed an exception to this rule, his grandfather’s name having 132been Lysanias.[399] In short, though there existed no law upon the subject, yet ancient and nearly invariable custom operated with the force of law.[400]

The names of children were often in remote antiquity derived from some circumstance attending their birth, or in the history of their parents. Sometimes, too, their own deeds, as in the case of modern titles, procured them a name; or perhaps some misfortune which befell them. Thus, Marpissa, in Homer, being borne away[401] by Apollo, obtained the name of Halcyone, because her mother, like the Halcyon, was inconsolable for the loss of her offspring.[402] Scamandrios, son of Hector, was denominated Astyanax, because his father was τοῦ ἄστεος ἄναξ, “the defender of the city;”[403] and Odysseus, metamorphosed by the Romans into Ulysses, is supposed to have been so called τοῦ ἄστεος ἄναξ διὰ τὸ ὀδυσσέσθαι τοῦ Αὐτολυκου, from the anger of Autolychos.[404] Again, the son of Achilles, at first called Pyrrhos, as our second William, Rufus, from the colour of his hair, afterwards obtained the name of Neoptolemos, “the youthful warrior,” from his engaging at a very early age in the siege of Troy. It came, in aftertimes, to be considered indecorous for persons of humble condition to assume the names of heroic families. Thus, the low flatterer Callicrates, at the court of Ptolemy the Third, was thought to be audacious because he bestowed upon his son and daughter the names of Telegonos and Anticleia, and wore the effigy of Odysseus in his ring, which appeared to be claiming kindred with that illustrious chief. In fact, to prevent the profanation of revered names, the law itself forbade them to be adopted by slaves or females of bad character,[405] though, in defiance of its enactments, we find there were hetairæ, who derived their appellation from the 133sacred games of Greece, Nemeas, Isthmias, and Pythionica.[406]

But of this enough: we now proceed to the management and education of children, beginning with their earliest infancy. In old times the women of Greece always suckled their own offspring, and for the performance of this office they were excellently adapted by nature,[407] since they had no sooner become mothers than their breasts filled so copiously with milk than it not only flowed through the nipple, but likewise transpired through the whole bosom. On the little derangements of the system peculiar to nurses the Greeks entertained many superstitious opinions; for instance, they conceived those thread-like indurations which sometimes appear in the breasts to be caused by swallowing hairs, which afterwards come forth with the milk, on which account the disorder was called Trichiasis.[408] The nourishment supplied by mothers so robust and lactiferous was often so rich and abundant as, like over-feeding, to cause spasms and convulsions, supposed to be most violent when they happened during the full moon, and began in the back. The usual remedy among nurses would appear to have been wine, since Aristotle,[409] in speaking of the disorder, observes that white, particularly if diluted with water, is less injurious than red, though even from the former he thought it better to abstain. The administering of aperient medicines and the absence from everything that could cause flatulence, he considered the only safe treatment. Nurses, however, sometimes placed much reliance on the brains of a rabbit.[410]

In Plato’s Republic the nurses were to live apart 134in a distinct quarter of the city, and suckle indiscriminately all the children that were to be preserved; no mother being permitted to know her own child.[411]

Every one must have observed, as well as Plato,[412] that children are no sooner born than they exhibit unequivocal signs of passion and anger, in the moderating and directing of which consists the chiefest difficulty of education. Most men, through the defect of nature or early discipline, live long before they acquire this mastery, which many never attain at all. Generally, however, where it is possessed, much may certainly be attributed to that training which begins at the birth, so that of all the instruments employed in the[413] forming of character, the nurse is probably the most important. Of this the ancients generally appear to have been convinced, and most of all the Spartans and Athenians. The Lacedæmonian nurses, on whom the force of discipline had been tried, enjoyed a high reputation throughout Greece, and were particularly esteemed at Athens.[414] They no doubt deserved it. To them may be traced the first attempt to dispense with those swathes and bandages which in other countries confined the limbs, and impeded the movements of infants, and by their skilful and enlightened treatment, combined with watchfulness and tender solicitude, they are said to have preserved their little charges from 135those distortions so common among children. But their cares extended beyond the person. They aimed at forming the manners, regulating the temper, laying the foundation of virtuous habits, at sowing in short the seeds, which in after life, might ripen into a manly, frank, and generous character. In the matter of food, in the regulating of which, as Locke confesses, there is much difficulty, the Spartan nurses acted up to the suggestions of the sternest philosophy, accustoming the children under their charge, to be content with whatever was put before them, and to endure occasional privations without murmuring. Over the fear of ghosts too they triumphed. Empusa and the Mormolukeion, and all those other hideous spectres which childhood associates with the idea of darkness, yielded to the discipline of the Spartan nurse.[415] Her charge would remain alone or in the dark, without terror, and the same stern system, which overcame the first offspring of superstition, likewise subdued the moral defects of peevishness, frowardness, and the habit of whining and mewling, which when indulged in render children a nuisance to all around them. No wonder therefore, these Doric disciplinarians were everywhere in request. At Athens it became fashionable among the opulent to employ them, and Cleinias, as is well known, placed under the care of one of these she-pædagogues that Alcibiades, whose ambitious character, to be curbed by no restraints of discipline or philosophy, proved the ruin of his country and the scourge of Greece.[416]

Plato, however, while framing at will an imaginary system, and though inclined upon the whole to laconise, adheres, in some respects, to the customs of his country, and ordains that infants be confined by swaddling 136bands till two years old. From the mention of this age, it may be inferred that children commonly did not walk much earlier at Athens, which is the case in the East, as we may learn from the story of Ala-ed-deen Abushamet. Plato would also have nurses to be vigorous and robust women, much inclined to frequent the temples, in order, probably, to introduce into the minds of their charges early impressions of religion, and to stroll about the fields and public gardens until the children could run alone; and even then, and until they were three years old, he urged the necessity of their being frequently carried, to prevent crooked legs and malformed ankles. But because all this might press hard on one nurse, several were employed, as among ourselves,[417] and a kind of Nursery Governess overlooked the whole. The Gerula or under-nurse was, in later times, the person upon whom fell the principal labour of bearing the infant about; but in remoter ages the Greeks, more particularly their royal and noble families, employed in this capacity a Baioulos[418] or nurse-father, who, as in the case of Phœnix, was sometimes himself of illustrious birth. Cheiron, too, the Pelasgian mountain prince, performed this sacred office for the son of his friend Peleus.

Our readers, we trust, will not be reluctant to enter a Greek nursery,[419] where the mother, whatever might be the number of her assistants, generally suckled her own children. Their cradles were of various forms, some of which like our own required rocking,[420] while others were suspended like sailors’ hammocks from the ceiling, and swung gently to and fro when they desired to pacify the child or lull it to sleep:[421] as Tithonos is represented in the mythology to have been suspended 137in his old age.[422] Other cradles there were in the shape of little portable baskets wherein they were carried from one part of the harem to another.[423] It is probable, too, that as in the East the children of the opulent were rocked in their cradles wrapped in coverlets of Milesian wool.

Occasionally in Hellas,[424] as everywhere else, the nurse’s milk would fail, or be scanty, when they had recourse to a very original contrivance to still the infant’s cries; they dipped a piece of sponge in honey which was given it to suck.[425] It was probably under similar circumstances that children were indulged in figs; the Greeks entertaining an opinion that this fruit greatly contributed to render them plump and healthy. They had further a superstition that by rubbing fresh figs upon the eyes of children they would be preserved from ophthalmia.[426]

The Persians attributed the same preventive power to the petals of the new-blown rose.[427] When a child was wholly or partly dry-nursed, the girl who had charge of it would under pretence of cooling its pap, commonly made of fine flour of spelt,[428] put the spoon into her own mouth, swallow the best part of the nourishment, and give the refuse to the infant, a practice attributed by Aristophanes to Cleon, who swallowed, he says, the best of the good things of the state himself, and left the residue to the people.[429]

All the world over the singing of the nurse has been proverbial. Music breathes its sweetest notes around our cradles. The voice of woman soothes our infancy and our age, and in Greece, where every class of the community had its song, the nurse naturally 138vindicated one to herself.[430] This sweetest of all melodies—

“Redolent of joy and youth”

was technically denominated Katabaukalesis, of which scraps and fragments only, like those of the village song which lingered in the memory of Rousseau, have come down to us. The first verse of a Roman nursery air, which still, Pignorius[431] tells us, was sung in his time by the mothers of Italy, ran thus:—

“Lalla, Lalla; dorme aut lacte.
Lalla, Lalla; sleep or suck.”

The Sicilian poet, whose pictures of the ancient world are still so fresh and fragrant, has bequeathed to us a Katabaukalesis of extreme beauty and brevity which I have here paraphrastically translated:[432]

“Sleep ye, that in my breast have lain,
The slumber sweet and light,
And wake, my glorious twins, again
To glad your mother’s sight.
O happy, happy be your dreams,
And blest your waking be,
When morning’s gold and ruddy beams
Restore your smiles to me.”[433]

The philosopher Chrysippos[434] considered it of importance to regulate the songs of nurses, and Quintilian,[435] with a quaint but pardonable enthusiasm, would 139have the boy who is designed to be an orator placed under the care of a nurse of polished language and superior mind. He observes,[436] too, that children suckled and brought up by dumb nurses, will remain themselves dumb, which would necessarily happen had they no other person with whom to converse. When the infant was extremely wakeful the soothing influence of the song was heightened by the aid of little timbrels and rattles hung with bells.

A very characteristic anecdote is told of Anacreon apropos of nurses.[437] A good-humoured wench with a child in her arms happening one day to be sauntering more nutricum, through the Panionion, or Grand Agora of Ionia, encountered the Teïan poet, who returning from the Bacchic Olympos, found the streets much too narrow for him, and went reeling hither and thither as if determined to make the most of his walk. The nurse, it is to be presumed, felt no inclination to dispute the passage with him; but Anacreon attracted, perhaps, by her pretty face, making a timely lurch, sent both her and her charge spinning off the pavement, at the same time muttering something disrespectful against “the brat.” Now, for her own part, the girl felt no resentment against him, for she could see which of the divinities was to blame; but loving, as a nurse should, her boy, she prayed that the poet might one day utter many words in praise of him whom he had so rudely vituperated; which came to pass accordingly, for the infant was the celebrated Cleobulos, whose beauty the Teïan afterwards celebrated in many an ode.[438]

Traces of the remotest antiquity still linger in the nursery. The word baby, which we bestow familiarly on an infant, was with little variation, in use many thousand years ago among the Syrians, in whose nursery 140dialect babia[439] had the same signification. Tatta, too, pappa and mamma[440] were the first words lisped by the children of Hellas. And from various hints dropped by ancient authors, it seems clear that the same wild stories and superstitions that still flourish there haunted the nursery of old. The child was taught to dread Empusa or Onoskelis or Onoskolon,[441] the monster with one human foot and one of brass, which dwelt among the shades of night and glided through dusky chambers and dismal passages to devour “naughty children.” The fables which filled up this obscure part of Hellenic mythology, were scarcely less wild than those the Arabs tell about their Marids, their Efreets, and their Jinn; for Empusa, the phantom minister of Hecate,[442] could assume every various form of God’s creatures, appearing sometimes as a bull, or a tree, or an ass, or a stone, or a fly, or a beautiful woman.[443] Shakspeare, having caught, perhaps, some glimpse of this superstition, or inventing in a kindred spirit, attributes a similar power of transformation to his mischievous elf in the Midsummer Night’s Dream, located on Empusa’s native soil.

“I’ll follow you, I’ll lead you about, around,
Through bog, through bush, through brake, through briar.
141Sometimes a horse I’ll be, sometime a hound,
A hog, a headless bear, sometimes a fire,
And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn,
Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire at every turn.”

It was this spectral being that was said to appear to those who performed the sacrifices to the dead, to men overwhelmed with misfortune,[444] and travellers in remote and dismal roads; as happened to the companions of Apollonios of Tyana who, in journeying on a bright moonlight night, were startled by the appearance of Empusa, which having stood twice or thrice in their way, suddenly vanished.[445] To protect themselves against this demon the superstitious were accustomed to wear about them a piece of jasper, either set in a ring, or suspended from the neck.[446]

The Lamia, too, fierce and beautiful, the ancestress of our “White ladies,” and of the Katakhanas or Vampire of the modern Greeks, roamed through solitary places to terrify, delude, or destroy good folks, big or little, who might lose their way amid moonlit crags or shores made white with bones and sea-shells. They loved to relate “around the fire o’ nights,” how Lamia had once been a beautiful woman caressed and made the mother of a fair son by Zeus; how Hera through jealousy had destroyed the boy; and how, thereupon Lamia took to the bush and devoted her wretched immortality to the destroying of other women’s children.[447] According to another form of the tradition there were many Lamiæ, so called from having capacious jaws, inhabiting the Libyan coast,[448] somewhere about the Great Syrtis, in the midst of sand hills, rocks, and wastes of irreclaimable aridity. Formed above like women of surpassing beauty, they terminated below in serpents. Their voice was like the 142hissing of an adder, and whatever approached them they devoured.[449]

Another race of wild and grotesque spirits were the Kobaloi,[450] companions of Dionysos, who doubtless subsist still in our woods and forests under the name of goblins and hobgoblins. Our Elves and Trolls and Fairies appear likewise to belong to the same brood, though in these northern latitudes, they have become less mischievous and more romantic, delighting the eyes of the wayfarers by their frolics and gambols, instead of devouring him.

“Fairy elves,
Whose midnight revels, by a forest side,
Or fountain, some belated peasant sees,
Or dreams he sees, while overhead the moon
Sits arbitress, and nearer to the earth
Wheels her pale course; they on their mirth and dance
Intent, with jocund music charm his ear,
At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds.”

Though, as we have seen, weak children were unscrupulously sacrificed at Sparta, they still made offerings to the gods in favour of the strong. The ceremony took place annually during certain festivals, denominated Tithenidia,[451] when, in a moment of hospitality, they not only made merry themselves, but overlooked their xenelasia, and entertained generously all such strangers as happened to be present. The banquet given on this occasion was called Kopis, and, in preparation for it, tents were pitched on the banks of the Tiasa near the temple of Artemis Corythalis. Within these, beds formed of heaps of herbs were piled up and covered with carpets. On the day of the festival the nurses proceeded thither with the male children in their arms, and, presenting them to the goddess, offered up as victims a number of sucking pigs. In the feast which ensued loaves baked in an oven, in lieu of the extemporary cake, were served up to the guests. Choruses of Corythalistriæ or dancing girls, likewise performed 143in honour of the goddess; and in some places persons, called Kyrittoi, in wooden masks, made sport for the guests.[452] Probably it may have been on occasions such as this that the nurses, like her in Romeo and Juliet, gave free vent to their libertine tongues, and indulged in those appellations which the tolerant literature of antiquity has preserved.[453]

When children were to be weaned, they spread, as the moderns do, something bitter over the nipple,[454] that the young republican might learn early how—

“Full in the fount of joy’s delicious springs
Some bitter o’er the flower its bubbling venom flings.”

373. More particularly that of a son.—Casaub. ad Theophr. Char. p. 307.

374. Sch. Aristoph. Lysist. 757.

375. Etym. Mag. 89. 54.

376. Suid. in v. t. i. p. 214. d.

377. Hesych. in. v. δρομιάφιον. Meurs. Græc. Fer. p. 20. Brunck, in Aristoph. Av. 922.

378. Harpocrat. in v. Cf. not. Gronov. p. 26.

379. Hesych. ap. Meurs. Græc. Fer. p. 20.

380. Potter, ii. 322.

381. Athen. ix. 10. Cf. Ludovic. Nonn. De Pisc. Esu. c. 7. p. 28.

382. Cf. Aristoph. Lys. 700. cum not. et schol.—Plaut. Truc. ii. 4. 69.

383. Semel. fr. 203. Well.

384. Meurs. Gr. Fer. p. 21.

385. Alex. ab Alex. 99. a.

386. Harpocrat. v. Ἑβδομ. p. 92. Cf. Lomeier, De Lustrat. Vet. Gentil. c. 27. p. 327. sqq.

387. Hist. Anim. vii. 12. Bekk.

388. Suid. v. Ἀμφιδ. t. i. p. 214. d.

389. Isæus, Pyrrh. Hæred. § 5. Dem. Adv. Bœot. §§ 6, 7. Lys. in Harpocrat. v. Ἀμφιδρομ. p. 19.

390. Ægei. Frag. i.

391. Aves, 922. seq.

392. Græc. Feriat. p. 22.

393. Polyæn. Strat. vi. i. 6.

394. Suid. v. Δεκάτην ἑστιάσαν, t. i. p. 654. c. d.

395. Harpocrat. v. Μεῖον, Poll. iii. 53. Schol. ad Aristoph. Ran. 810. Etym. Mag. 533. 37. Meurs. Lect. Att. iii. 1.

396. Palmer, Exercit. p. 754. Sluiter. Lect. Andocid. c. i.

397. Isæus de Pyrrh. Hæred. § 5.

398. Aristoph. Av. 284.

399. Plat. Rep. l. i. t. vi. p. 9.

400. Dem. c. Macart. § 17. Taylor, Lect. Lysiac. c. 5.

401. See in Winkel. iii. p. 248, an account of a picture representing this transaction.

402. Il. i. 552. seq.

403. Potter, ii. 225.

404. Odyss. τ. 406. sqq.

405. Athen. xiii. 51.

406. Anim. ad Athen. t. xii. p. 170.

407. When the case happened to be otherwise the remedies recommended by physicians were numerous, among which was the halimos, a prickly shrub found growing along the northern shores of Crete.—Dioscor. i. 120. Tournefort. i. 44.

408. Arist. Hist. An. vii. 10. Foës. Œconom. Hippoc. v. Τριχίασις.

409. Hist. An. vii. 11.

410. Dioscor. ii. 21.

411. Plat. Rep. v. t. vi. p. 236.—The desire of the philosopher was, that the people, or the state, should be regarded as the father of the child. Among our ancestors illegitimate children were denominated “sons of the people,” which was then thought equivalent to being the sons of nobody. Hence the following distich:—

Cui pater est populus, pater est sibi nullus et omnis,
Cui pater est populus, non habet ipse patrem.
Fortescue, Laud. Legg.
Angl. c. 40.

412. Repub. i. 315. Stallb.—On the harshness and severity of nurses, Teles remarks in that curious picture of human life, which he has drawn quite in the spirit of the melancholy Jaques. Stob. Floril. Tit. 98. 72.

413. Cf. Cramer de Educ. Puer. ap. Athen. 9. Odyss. β. 361. seq. Terpstra, Antiq. Homer. 122. seq.

414. Plut. Alcib. § 1.

415. Or if not, the Spartan legislator had recourse to other expedients for extirpating these superstitious terrors in after years. It being customary among the Laconians to drink moderately in the syssitia, says Plutarch, they went home without a torch, it not being lawful to make use of a light on these or any other occasions, in order that they might be accustomed to walk by night and in darkness boldly, and without fear. Instit. Lacon. § 3.

416. Plut. Lycurg. § 16.

417. Plat. de Legg. vii. t. viii. p. 5. Pignor. de Serv. p. 185.

418. Pignor. de Serv. p. 186. seq.

419. See in Winkelmann, vignette to l. iv. ch. 3. a view of an ancient nursery, where the mother, the pædagogue, the nurse, &c. are engaged in the work of education, t. i. p. 414. Cf. Max. Tyr. Diss. iv. p. 49. Sch. Aristoph. Eq. 713.

420. Pignor. de. Serv. p. 186.

421. Schweigh. Animadv. in Athen. vi. 74.

422. Eudoc. ap. Villois. Anecdot. Græc. t. i. p. 396. Tzetz. ad Lyc. v. 16.

423. Mus. Real. Borbon. t. i. pl. 3.

424. It was even then remarked that sucking children teethe much better than such as are dry nursed.—Aristot. de Gen. Anim. v. 8. Hist. Anim. vii. 10.

425. Sch. Arist. Acharn. 439.

426. Athen. iii. 15.

427. Geopon. xi. 18.

428. Dioscor. ii. 114.

429. Equit. 712. Casaub. ad Theoph. Char. p. 326.

430. Ilgen. de Scol. Poes. p. xxvi. Casaub. ad Theoph. Char. p. 204. seq.

431. De Serv. p. 186. seq. Cf. Athen. xiv. 10.

432. A nurse’s lay prevalent among our own ancestors may not inaptly find a place here:

“Now suck, child, and sleep, child, thy mother’s own joy,
Her only sweet comfort to drown all annoy;
For beauty, surpassing the azurèd sky,
I love thee, my darling, as ball of mine eye.”
D’Israeli, Amenities of
Literature ii. 287.

433. Theoc. Eidyll. 24. 7. sqq.

434. Quintil. i. 10.

435. Instit. Orat. i. 1.

436. Quintil. Inst. Orat. l. x. c. i. Herod. ii. 2.

437. See in the Mus. Cortonens. pl. 35. the figure of a nurse bearing the infant Bacchos.

438. Max. Tyr. Diss. xi. p. 132.

439. Phot. Biblioth. 31. l. 11. Menage shrewdly supposes Baby, Babble, &c. to have been derived from Babel.—D’Israeli, Amenities of Literature, i. 5.

440. Pignor. de Serv. p. 187. Sch. Aristoph. Nub. 1365.—Pac. 119.

441. Lil. Gyrald. Synt. xii. Hist. Deor. 361 seq. Cf. Lucian. Ver. Hist. lib. 2 § 46. This spectre was said to glide before the sight of persons celebrating the rites of initiation, and therefore the mother of Æschines who performed a part in the rites, and also appeared to the initiated was, with much bad taste, called Empusa by Demosthenes.—De Coronâ, § § 41. 79. Adam Littleton in his Cambridge Dictionary supposes this to have been her real name, which, however, was Glaucis or Glaucothea. Stock. and Wunderl. ad loc. Cf. Harpoc. in. v. Sch. Aristoph. Concion. 1056. Ran. 293, 294. ὁρᾲς τὸν Αἰσχινην ὅς τυμπανιστρίας υἱὸς ἠν. Lucian. Somn. § 12.

442. This goddess was also known by the name of Artemis Phosphoros. Aristoph. Concion. 444 et schol.

443. Aristoph. Ran. 293. Epicharm. ap. Nat. Com. p. 854. See also Sch. Apol. Rhod. iii. 478. iv. 247.

444. Meurs. Lect. Att. iii. 17.

445. Philost. Vit. Apoll. Tyan. l. ii. c. 2.

446. Cf. De Boot, De Lap. p. 251. sqq. on the properties and virtues of this stone.

447. Sch. Aristoph. Vesp. 1035. Philost. Vit. Apoll. Tyan. iv. 25.

448. Schol. Aristoph. Vesp. 1035.

449. Lil. Gyrald. Hist. Deor. Synt. xv. 447. seq.

450. Schol. Aristoph. Plut. 279.

451. Athen. iv. 16.

452. Meurs. Græc. Fer. 261. seq.

453. Casaub. ad Theoph. Char. 161.

454. Athen. vi. 51.



Having described, as far as possible, the management of infants and young children, it may not be uninteresting to notice briefly their toys, sports, and pastimes; for, though children have been substantially the same in all ages and countries, the forms of their amusements have been infinitely varied, and where they have resembled each other it is not the less instructive to note that resemblance. The ancients[455] have, however, bequeathed us but little information respecting the fragile implements wherewith the happiness of the nursery was in great part erected. Even respecting the recreations which succeeded and amused the leisure of boys our materials for working out a picture are scanty, so that we must content ourselves with little more than an outline. Nevertheless, though the accounts they have transmitted to posterity are meagre, they attached much importance to the subject itself; so that the greatest legislators and philosophers condescended to make regulations respecting 145it. Thus Plato, with a view of generating a profound reverence for ancient national institutions, forbade even the recreations of boys to be varied with reckless fickleness; for the habit of innovation once introduced into the character would ever after continue to influence it, so that they who in boyhood altered their sports without reason, would without scruple in manhood extend their daring hands to the laws and institutions of their country.[456]

Amongst the Hellenes the earliest toy consisted, as in most other countries, of the rattle, said to be the invention of the philosopher Archytas.[457] To this succeeded balls of many colours,[458] with little chariots, sometimes purchased at Athens in the fair held during the feast of Zeus.[459] The common price of a plaything of this kind would appear to have been an obolos. The children themselves, as without any authority might with certainty be inferred, employed their time in erecting walls with sand,[460] in constructing little houses,[461] in building and carving ships, in cutting carts or chariots out of leather, in fashioning pomegranate rinds into the shape of frogs,[462] and in forming with wax a thousand diminutive images, which pursued afterwards during school hours subjected them occasionally to severe chastisement.[463]

Another amusement which the children of Hellas shared with their elders was that afforded by puppets,[464] which were probably an invention of the remotest antiquity. Numerous women appear to have earned 146their livelihood by carrying round from village to village these ludicrous and frolicsome images, which were usually about a cubit in height, and may be regarded as the legitimate ancestors of Punch and Judy. By touching a single string, concealed from the spectators, the operator could put her mute performers in action, cause them to move every limb in succession, spread forth the hands, shrug the shoulders, turn round the neck, roll the eyes, and appear to look at the audience.[465] After this, by other contrivances within the images, they could be made to go through many humorous evolutions resembling the movements of the dance. These exhibitors, frequently of the male sex, were known by the name of Neurospastæ. This art passed, together with other Grecian inventions, into Italy, where it was already familiar to the public in the days of Horace, who, in speaking of princes governed by favourites, compares them to puppets in the hands of the showman.

“Tu, mihi qui imperitas, aliis servis miser; atque
Duceris, ut nervis alienis mobile lignum.”[466]

A very extraordinary puppet, in the form of a silver skeleton, was, according to Petronius Arbiter,[467] exhibited at the court of Nero; for, like the Egyptians, this imperial profligate appears to have been excited 147to sensual indulgences by the remembrance of the grave: “Let us eat and drink,” cried he, “for tomorrow we die.” The skeleton being placed upon the table, in the midst of the tyrant’s orgies, threw its limbs strangely about, and bent its form into various attitudes with wonderful flexibility, which having performed once and again, and then suddenly ceasing to move, the master of the feast exclaimed, “Alas, alas! what a mere nothing is man! Like unto this must we all be when Orcus shall have borne us hence. Therefore let us live while enjoyment is in our power.” But to return to the children of Hellas. Among the earliest sports of the Greek boy was whipping the bembyx or top,[468] which would appear to have been usually practised in those open spaces occurring at the junction of several roads:—

“Where three ways meet there boys with tops are found,
That ply the lash and urge them round and round.”[469]

Sometimes also, as with us, they spun their tops with cord. The amusement is thus described by Tibullus:[470]

“Namque agor, ut per plana citus tota verbere turben,
Quem celer assuetâ versitat arte puer.”

The hoop, too, so familiar to our own schoolboys, formed one of the playthings of Hellenic children. It was sometimes made of bronze, about three feet in diameter,[471] and adorned with little spherical bells and movable rings, which jingled as it rolled. The instrument employed to urge

“the rolling circle’s speed,”

as Gray expresses it, in his reminiscences of the Eton play-ground, was crooked at the point, and called a plectron: its exact representation may any day, in the proper season, be seen in the streets of London impelling forward the iron hoop of our own children. 148The passages of ancient authors, in which mention of the trochos occurs, appear to have been imperfectly understood before the discovery of a basso-rilievo, in marble, on the road from Rome to Tivoli, afterwards removed to the vineyard of the Cardinal Alexander Albani. On certain engraved gems also, in the cabinet of Stosch, are several representations of boys playing at hoop, where the trochos in some cases reaches to the waist, in others to the breast, and where the child is very small up to the chin. It has been conjectured by Winkelmann,[472] that a circle represented in one of the paintings of Herculaneum was no other than an ancient trochos. Rolling the hoop formed a part of the exercises of the palæstra, which were performed even by very young children. Thus we find the nurse describing the sons of Medeia returning from playing at hoop the very day that they were slain by their mother.[473] This amusement has been described briefly by the Roman poets. Thus Martial:[474]

“Garrulus in laxo cur annulus orbe vagatur
Cedat, et argutis obvia turba trochis.”

Propertius[475] notices the crooked form of the plectron, or clavis:—

“Increpat et versi clavis adunca trochi.”

Horace[476] likewise alludes to the game:—

“Indoctusque pilæ discive trochive quiescit.”

This poet clearly informs us that the Romans received the game from the Greeks:[477]

“Ludere doctior,
Seu Græco jubeas trocho,
Seu malis vetita legibus alea.”

Another less innocent amusement was[478] spinning goldchafers, which appears to have afforded the Greek 149urchins the same delight as tormenting cockchafers does their successors of the north. This species of beetle making its appearance when the apple-trees were in bloom, was therefore called Melolanthe, or apple-blossom. Having caught it, and tied a linen thread about its feet, it was let loose, and the fun was to see it move in spiral lines through the air as it was twisted by the thread.[479]

It was the practice among the children of Greece, when the sun happened to be obscured by a cloud, to exclaim, “Ἔξεχ᾽ ὦ φίλ᾽ ἥλιε!”—“Come forth, beloved sun!” Strattis makes allusion to this custom in a fragment of his Phœnissæ:—

“Then the god listened to the shouting boys,
When they exclaimed, ‘Come forth, beloved sun!’”[480]

It is fortunate that our English boys have no such passion for sunshine; otherwise, as Phœbos Apollo hides his face for months together in this blessed climate, we should be in a worse plight than Dionysos among the frogs of Acheron, when his passion for Euripides led him to pay a visit to Persephone. In some parts of the country, however, the children have a rude distich which they frequently bawl in chorus, when in summer-time their sports are interrupted by a long-continued shower:—

“Rain, rain, go to Spain;
Fair weather, come again.”

The Muïnda was our “Blindman’s-buff,” “Blind Hob,” “Hobble ’em-blind,” and “Hood-man-blind,” in which, as with us, a boy moved about with his eyes bandaged, spreading forth his hands, and crying “Beware!” If he caught any of those who were skipping around him, the captive was compelled to enact the blind-man in his stead. Another form of the game was for the seers to hide, and the blind man to grope 150round till he found them; the whole probably being a rude representation of Polyphemos in his cave searching for the Greeks who had blinded him. A third form was, for the bystanders to strike or touch the blindfolded boy until he could declare who had touched him, when the person indicated took his place. To this the Roman soldiers alluded when they blindfolded our Saviour and smote him, and cried, “Prophesy who struck thee.”[481] In the Kollabismos,[482] the Capifolèt of the French, one person covered his eyes with his own hands, the other then gave him a gentle blow, and the point was, for the blindfolded man to guess with which hand he had been stricken. The Χαλκὴ Μυῖα,[483] or Brazen Fly, was a variety of Blindman’s-buff, in which a boy, having his eyes bound with a fillet, went groping round, calling out, “I am seeking the Brazen Fly.” His companions replied, “You may seek, but you will not find it”—at the same time striking him with cords made of the inner bark of the papyros; and thus they proceeded till one of them was taken. Apodidraskinda (“hide and seek,” or “whoop and holloa!”) was played much as it is now. One boy shut his eyes, or they were kept closed for him by one of his suspicious companions, while the others went to hide. He then sallied forth in search of the party who lay concealed, while each of them endeavoured to gain the post of the seeker; and the first who did this turned him out and took his place.

Another game was the Ephedrismos, in which a stone called the Dioros was set up at a certain distance, and aimed at with bowls or stones. The one who missed took the successful player upon his back, and was compelled to carry him about blindfolded, until he went straight from the standing-point to the Dioros. 151This latter part of the game has been described by several ancient authors, under the appellation of Encotyle, though they are rightly, by Hesychius,[484] considered as different parts of the same sport. The variety called Encotyle,—the “Pick-back” or “Pick-a-back,” of English boys, consisted in one lad’s placing his hands behind his back, and receiving therein the knees of his conqueror, who, putting his fingers over the bearer’s eyes, drove him about at his pleasure. This game was also called the Kubesinda and Hippas,[485] though, according to the conjecture of Dr. Hyde, the latter name signified rather our game of “Leap-frog,”—the “mazidha” of the Persians, in which a number of boys stooped down with the hands resting on the knees, in a row, the last going over the backs of all the others, and then standing first.

In the game called Chytrinda, in English[486] “Hot-cockles,” “Selling of pears,” or “How many plumbs for a penny,” one boy sat on the ground, and was called the chytra or pot, while his companions, forming themselves into a ring, ran round, plucking, pinching, or striking him as they went. If he who enacted the chytra succeeded in seizing upon one of the buffeters the captive took his place. Possibly it was during this play that a mischievous foundling, contrary to rule, poking, as he ran round, the boy in the centre with his foot, provoked from the latter the sarcastic inquiry, “What! dost thou kick thy mother in the belly?” alluding to the circumstance of the former having been exposed in a chytra.[487] Another form of the Chytrinda required the lad in the centre to move about with a pot on his head, where he held it with his left hand, while the others struck him, and cried out, “Who has the pot?” To which he replied, “I Midas,” endeavouring all the while to reach some one with his foot,—the first whom he thus touched being compelled to carry round the pot in his stead.[488]

152Another game, peculiar to girls, was the Cheli Chelone, or “the tortoise,” of which I remember no representative among English pastimes. It somewhat resembled the Chytrinda of the boys. For one girl sat on the ground and was called the tortoise, while her companions, running round, inquired “Tor-tortoise what art thou doing there in the middle?” “Spinning wool,” replied she, “the thread of the Milesian woof;” “And how, continued they, was thy son engaged when he perished?” “He sprang from his white steeds into the sea.”[489] If this was, as the language would intimate, a Dorian play, I should consider it a practical satire on the habits of the other Hellenic women, who remained like tortoises at home, carding and spinning, while their sons engaged in the exercises of the palæstra or the stadium. Possibly, also, originally the name may have had some connection with καλλιχέλωνος “beautiful tortoise,” the figure of this animal having been impressed on the money of the Peloponnesians; in fact, in a fragment of the Helots of Eupolis, we find the obolos distinguished by the epithet of καλλιχέλωνος.[490]

The Kynitinda was so called from the verb κυνέω to kiss, as appears from Crates in his “Games,” a play in which the poet contrived to introduce an account of this and nearly all the other juvenile pastimes. The form of the sport being little known, the learned have sometimes confounded it with a kind of salute called the chytra in antiquity, and the “Florentine Kiss” in modern Italy, in which the person kissing took the other by the ears. Giraldi[491] says he remembers, when a boy, that his father and other friends, when kissing him, used sometimes to take hold of both his ears, which they called giving a “Florentine kiss.” He afterwards was surprised to find that this was a most ancient practice, commemorated both by the Greek 153and Latin authors. It obtained its name, as he conjectures, from the earthen vessel called chytra, which had two handles usually laid hold of by persons drinking out of it, as is still the practice with similar utensils in Spain. This writer mentions a present sent from the peninsula to Leo X, consisting of a great number of chytræ of red pottery, if we may so call them, of which he himself obtained one. Crates, as Hemsterhuis[492] ingeniously supposes, introduced a wanton woman playing at this game among the youths in order that she might enjoy the kisses of the handsome.

The Epostrakismos[493] was what English boys call “Ducks and Drakes,” and sometimes, among our ancestors at least, “A duck and a drake and a white penny cake,” and was played with oyster-shells. Standing on the shore of the sea at the Peiræeus, for example, they flung the shells edgeways over the water so that they should strike it and bound upwards again and again from its surface. The boy whose shell made most leaps before sinking, won the game. Minucius Felix gives a very pretty description of this juvenile sport. “Behold, he says, boys playing in frolicsome rivalry with shells on the sea-shore. The game consists in picking up from the beach a shell rendered light by the constant action of the waves, and standing on an even place, and inclining the body, holding the shell flat between the fingers, and throwing it with the greatest possible force, so that it may rase the surface of the sea or skim along while it moves with gentle flow, or glances over the tops of the waves as they leap up in its track. That boy is esteemed the victor whose shell performs the longest journey or makes most leaps before sinking.”[494]

The Akinetinda was a contention between boys, in which some one of them endeavoured to maintain his 154position unmoved. Good sport must have been produced by the next game called Schœnophilinda, or “Hiding the Rope.” In this a number of boys sat down in a circle, one of whom had a rope concealed about his person, which he endeavoured to drop secretly beside one of his companions. If he succeeded, the unlucky wight was started like a hare round the circle, his enemy following and laying about his shoulders. But on the other hand, if he against whom the plot was laid detected it, he obtained possession of the rope and enjoyed the satisfaction of flogging the plotter over the same course.

The Basilinda[495] was a game in which one obtained by lot the rank of king, and the vanquished, whether one or many, became subject to him, to do whatever he should order. It passed down to the Christians, and was more especially practised during the feast of the Epiphany. It is commonly known under the name of Forfeits, and was formerly called “One penny,” “One penny come after me,” “Questions and commands,” “The choosing of king and queen on Twelfth night.” In the last-mentioned sense it is still prevalent in France, where it is customary for bakers to make a present to the families they serve, of a large cake in the form of a ring in which a small kidney bean has been concealed. The cake is cut up, the pieces are distributed to the company, and the person who gets the bean is king of the feast. This game entered in Greece likewise into the amusements of grown people, both men and women, as well as of children, and an anecdote, connected with it, is told of Phryne, who happened one day to be at a mixed party where it was played. By chance it fell to her lot to play the queen; upon which, observing that her female companions were rouged and lilied to the eyes, she maliciously ordered a basin and towel to be brought in, and that every woman should wash her face. Conscious of her own native beauty, she began 155the operation, and only appeared the fresher and more lovely. But alas for the others! When the anchusa, psimmuthion, and phukos had been removed by the water, their freckled and coarse skins exposed them to general laughter.[496]

The Ostrakinda was a game purely juvenile. A knot of boys having drawn a line on the ground, separated into two parties. A small earthenware disk or ostrakon, one side black with pitch, the other white, was then produced, and each party chose a side, white or black. The disk was then pitched along the line, and the party whose side came up was accounted victorious, and prepared to pursue while the others turned round and fled. The boy first caught obtained the name of the ass, and was compelled to sit down, the game apparently proceeding till all were thus caught and placed hors de combat. He who threw the ostrakon cried, “night or day,” the black side being termed night, and the opposite day. It was called the “Twirling of the ostrakon.” Plato alludes to it in the Phædros.[497]

The Dielkustinda, “French and English,” was played chiefly in the palæstra, and occasionally elsewhere. It consisted simply in two parties of boys laying hold of each other by the hand, and pulling till one by one the stronger had drawn over the weaker to their side of the ground.

The Phryginda was a game in which, holding a number of smooth and delicate fragments of pottery between the fingers of the left hand, they struck them in succession with the right so as apparently to produce a kind of music.[498]

There was another game called Kyndalismos, played with short batons, and requiring considerable strength and quickness of eye. A stick having been fixed up-right 156in a loose moist soil, the business was to dislodge it by throwing at it other batons from a distance; whence the proverb, “Nail is driven out by nail, and baton by baton.”[499] A person who played at this game was called by some of the Doric poets Kyndalopactes.[500] A similar game is played in England, in which the prize is placed upon the top of the upright stick. The player wins when the prize falls without the hole whence the upright has been dislodged.

The game of Ascoliasmos[501] branched off into several varieties, and afforded the Athenian rustics no small degree of sport. The first and most simple form consisted in hopping on one foot, sometimes in pairs, to see which in this way could go furthest. On other occasions the hopper undertook to overtake certain of his companions who were allowed the use of both legs. If he could touch one of them he came off conqueror. This variety of the game appears to have been the Empusæ ludus of the Romans. “Scotch hoppers,” or “Fox to thy hole,” in which boys, hopping on one leg, beat one another with gloves or pieces of leather tied at the end of strings, or knotted handkerchiefs, as in the diable boîteux of the French. At other times victory depended on the number of hops, all hopping together and counting their springs,—the highest of course winning. But the most amusing variety of the game was that practised during the Dionysiac festival of the Askolia. Skins filled with wine or inflated with air, and extremely well oiled, were placed upon the ground, and on these the shoeless rustics leaped with one leg and endeavoured to maintain a footing, which they seldom could on account of their slipperiness. However, he who succeeded carried off the skin of wine as his prize.

157A game, evidently also of rustics, was the Trygodiphesis, Tantali ludus, “Bobbing for cherries,” “Bob cherry,” in which something very nice was thrown into a bowl of wine lees, which the performer, with his hands behind his back, was to fish up with his lips. The fun was to see the ludicrous figure he cut with his face daubed and discoloured by the lees.

Phitta Maliades, Phitta Meliai, Phitta Rhoiai, “Hasten, nymphs!” may be regarded as exclamations of encouragement uttered by Dorian girls, when engaged in a race.[502]

Playing at ball was common, and received various names. Episkyros, Phæninda, Aporraxis and Ourania. The first of these games was also known by the names of the Ephebike and the Epikoinos. It was played thus: a number of young men assembling together in a place covered with sand or dust, drew across it a straight line, which they called Skyros, and at equal distances, on either side, another line. Then placing the ball on the Skyros, they divided into two equal parties, and retreated each to their lines, from which they immediately afterwards rushed forward to seize the ball. The person who picked it up, then cast it towards the extreme line of the opposite party, whose business it was to intercept and throw it back, and they won who by force or cunning compelled their opponents to overstep the boundary line.

Daniel Souter[503] contends that this was the English game of football, into which perhaps it may, in course of time, have been converted. This rough and, it must be confessed, somewhat dangerous sport, originally, in all probability, introduced into this country by the Romans, may still on Shrove Tuesday be witnessed in certain towns of South Wales. The balls consist of bulls’ bladders protected by a thick covering of leather, and blown tight. Six or eight are made ready for the occasion, every window in the town is shut by break of day, at which time all the youths of the 158neighbourhood assemble in the streets. The ball is then thrown up in front of the town-hall, and the multitude, dividing into two parts, strive with incredible eagerness and enthusiasm to overcome their antagonists, each endeavouring to kick the foot-ball to the other extremity of the town. In the struggle severe kicks and wounds are given, and many fierce battles take place. The ball sometimes mounts thirty or forty feet above the tops of the highest houses and falls far beyond, or goes right over into the gardens, whither it is immediately followed by a crowd of young men. The sport is kept up all day, the hungry combatants recruiting their strength from time to time by copious horns of ale, and an abundant supply of the nice pancakes which the women sell in baskets at the corner of every street. To view this sport, thousands of persons assemble from all the country round, so that to the secluded population of those districts it is in some sort what the battle in the Platanistas was to the Spartans, or even what the Isthmian and Nemean games were to the whole of Greece.

The Phæninda[504] is supposed to have received its name either from its inventor, Phænides (called Phænestios in Athenæus[505] and the Etymologicon Magnum), or from the verb Φενακίζειν[506] “to deceive,” because, making as though they would throw at one person, they immediately sent it at another, thus deluding the expectation of the former. It appears at first to have been played with the small ball called Harpaston, though the game with the large soft one may afterwards perhaps have also been called Phæninda. The variety named Aporraxis consisted in throwing the ball with some force against the ground and repelling it constantly as it rebounded; he who did this most frequently, winning. In the game called Ourania, the player, bending back his body, flung up the ball with 159all his might into the air; on which there arose a contention among his companions who should first catch it in its descent, as Homer appears to intimate in his description of the Phæacian sport. They likewise played at ball in the modern fashion against a wall, in which the person who kept it up longest, won, and was called king; the one who lost, obtained the name of ass, and was constrained by the laws of the game to perform any task set him by the king.[507]

A game generally played in the gymnasia was the Skaperda. In this a post was set up with a hole near the top and a rope passed through it. Two young men then seized each one end of the rope, and turning their back to the post exerted their utmost strength to draw their antagonist up the beam. He who raised his opponent highest won. Sometimes they tried their strength by binding themselves together, back to back, and pulling different ways.

The Himanteligmos, “pricking the garter,” in Ireland “pricking the loop,” was really an ingenious amusement. It consisted in doubling a thong, and twisting it into numerous labyrinthine folds, which done, the other party put the end of a peg into the midst in search of the point of duplication. If he missed the mark the thong unwound without entangling the peg; but if he dropped it into the right ring his peg was caught and the game won. Hemsterhuis[508] supposes the Gordian knot to have been nothing but a variety of the Himanteligmos. He conjectures that the boys of Abdera were fond of this game, on which account the sophisms of Democritus were called ἱμαντελικτεαὶ, and hence probably a sophist, as one who twists words together, to lash others, was called Himantelicteus.

Another game, not entirely confined to children, was the Chalkismos, which consisted in twisting round rapidly on a board or table a piece of money, and 160placing the point of the finger so dexterously on its upper edge as to put a stop to its motion without permitting it to fall. This was a favourite amusement of Phryne the hetaira, as building houses of cards was of La Belle Stuart.[509] Some of these sports were peculiar to the female sex,[510] as the Pentalitha, which is still played by girls in some remote provinces of our island, where it is called “Dandies.” The whole apparatus of the game consisted in five astragals—knuckle bones—pebbles, or little balls, which, gathered up rapidly, were thrown into the air and attempted to be caught in falling on the back of the hand or between the slightly spread fingers. If any fell it was allowable to pick them up, provided this were done with the fingers of the same hand on which the other astragals rested.[511] The girls of France, according to Bulenger, still amuse themselves with the Pentalitha, there played with five little glass balls, which are flung in the air and caught so dexterously as seldom to fall either on the table or on the ground. I have never, however, seen it played myself in that country.

The Astragalismos,[512] which by the Romans was denominated talorum or taxillorum ludus, (by Hyde through the Greek πάσσαλος, derived from the Hebræo-Punic Assila,) by the Arabs Ka’b or Shezn, by the Persians Shesh-buzhûl bâzi, by the Turks Depshelìm, (played in their country both by girls and boys,) by the French Garignon or Osselets, in English “Cockall.”[513] In the game of astragals the Persians, as is implied 161in the name given above, often use six bones while the Greeks employed only four, which were thrown either on a table or on the floor. According to Lucian,[514] the huckle bones were sometimes those of the African gazelle.

The several sides of the astragal or huckle bone had their character expressed by numbers, and obtained separate names, which determined the value of the throw.[515] Thus, the side showing the Monas was called the Dog, the opposite side Chias, and the throw Chios. In cockall as in dice there are neither twos nor fives. The highest number, six, was called the Coan (συνορικὸς or ἑξίτης); the Dog or one was called the Chian or dog-chance; to which the old proverb alluded Κῶος πρὸς χῖον, six to one. To have the Dog turn up was to lose, hence, perhaps, the phrase, “going to the dogs,” that is, playing a losing game. The throw of eight was denominated Stesichoros, because the poet’s tomb at Himera consisted of a perfect octagon. Among the forty who succeeded to the thirty at Athens Euripides was one, and hence, if the throw of the astragals amounted to forty points, they bestowed upon it the name of Euripides. All animals in which the astragal is found have it in the hough or pastern of the hind legs. The τὸ πρανὲς, the gibbous side or blank, because it counts for nothing; the τὸ κοῖλον, the hollow side or “put in;” the χῶα, the tortuous side, "cockall," or “take all,” so called because it wins the stake; the smooth side τα χῖα, “take half,” because of the money put in, it wins half. Among the Greeks and Romans the put in was called trias, the blank tetras, the half-monas, and the cockall hexas.[516] By the Arabs they are denominated the thief, the lamb, the wezeer, and the sultan; by the Turks the robber, the ploughman, the kihaya, or the dog, and the bey; by the Persians 162the robber, the rustic, the wezeer, and the schah; by the Armenians the thief, the ploughman, the steward, and the lord. The number of casts among the Greeks, according to Eustathius, amounted to thirty-five.[517] Pliny[518] speaks of a work of Polycletos representing naked boys playing at this game, and the reader will probably remember the mutilated group in the British Museum, in which a boy having evidently been beaten at astragals, is biting in revenge the leg of his conqueror.

To play at Odd or Even[519] was common; so that we find Plato describing a knot of boys engaged in this game in a corner of the undressing room of the gymnasium. There was a kind of divination by astragals, the bones being hidden under the hand, and the one party guessing whether they were odd or even. The same game was occasionally played with beans, walnuts, or almonds, or even with money, if we may credit Aristophanes, who describes certain serving-men playing at Odd or Even with golden staters.[520] There was a game called Eis Omillan,[521] in which they drew a circle on the ground, and, standing at a little distance, pitched the astragals at it; to win consisting in making them remain within the ring. Another form of the Eis Omillan was to place a trained quail within a circle, on a table for example, out of which the point was to drive it by tapping it with the middle finger. If it reared at the blow, and retreated beyond the line, its master lost his wager. The play called Tropa[522] was also generally performed with astragals, which were pitched into a small hole, formed to receive such things when skilfully thrown. The common acorn, and fruit of the holm oak, were often substituted for astragals 163in this game. The Ephentinda seems to have consisted in pitching an ostrakon into a circle, so as to cause it to remain there. The Skeptinda consisted in placing an ostrakon, or a piece of money, on the ground, and pitching another at it so as to make it turn.[523]

455. Plato had the utmost faith in the power of education over both mind and body; but his system embraced much more than is usually comprehended under the term, even taking charge of the infant before its birth, and immediately afterwards, in the hope of wisely regulating its physical developement. As the child grows most during the first five years, its size in the following twenty being seldom doubled, most care, he thought, should then be taken that the great impulses of nature be not counteracted. Much food is then consumed, with very little exercise; hence the multitude of deaths in infancy and diseases in after-life, of which the seeds are then sown. For this reason he would encourage the violent romping and sports of children, that the excess of nourishment may be got rid of. De Legg. vii. t. viii. p. 2. seq.

456. Plat, de Legg. vii. t. viii. p. 21. seq.

457. Aristot. Polit. viii. 6. 1.

458. Dion. Chrysost. Nat. viii. p. 281.

459. Aristoph. Nub. 862. sqq. et Schol. Rav. in loc. Cf. Suid. v. Ἁμαξὶς, t. i. p. 194. b. Pollux, x. 168.

460. Damm. v. Ἄθυρμα.

461. Lucian. Hermot. § 33.

462. Aristoph. Nub. 877. sqq. et Schol.

463. Lucian. de Somn. § 2.

464. Buleng. de Theat. l. i. c. 36. sqq. Muret. ad Plat. Rep. p. 645. Eustath. in Odyss. δ. p. 176. Mount. Not. ad Dem. Olynth. ii. § 5. Perizon. ad Æl. Var. Hist. viii. 7. See also the article Marionnette in the Encyclopédie Française; and Caylus, Rec. d’Antiq. t. vi. p. 287. t. iv. pl. 80. no. i.

465. Aristot. de Mund. c. 6. translated by Apuleius, p. 20. Herod. ii. 48. See Comment. ad Poll. vii. 189. Duport. ad Theophr. Char. p. 308. This juggler having, for his ill behaviour, been driven from Athens, flew to Philip, with whom such persons were always in favour. Dem. Olynth. i. § 7.

466. Sat. ii. 7. 81. seq. Plerumque simulacra de ligno facta nervis moventur.—Vet. Schol.

467. Satyric. p. 80. Helenop. 1610. Wouwer. Anim. p. 418. Erhard. Symbol. p. 611. Plut. Conv. Sept. Sap. ch. 2.—A story is told of an Ionian juggler who proceeded to Babylon to perform what he deemed a wonderful feat before the Great King, and the feat was this: fixing a long point of steel on a wall, and retiring to a considerable distance, he threw at it a number of soft round pellets of dough, with so nice an aim that every one of them was penetrated, the last pellet driving back the others. Max. Tyr. Diss. xix. p. 225. Anim. ad Poll. vii. 189. p. 532.

468. Schol. Aristoph. Vesp. 1517. Diog. Laert. i. 4. 8. Cf. Hyde Nerdilud. p. 259.

469. Callim. Ep. i. 9. seq. p. 180.

470. I. 5. 3.

471. Cf. Caylus, Rec. D’Antiq. t. vi. 318. seq.

472. Descr. des Pierres Grav. du Cab. de Stosch. 452. seq.

473. Eurip. Mod. 45. et Sch.

474. L. xiv. Ep. 169.

475. iii. 12.

476. Ars Poet. 380. where the ancient scholiast seems doubtful whether the trochus was a hoop or a top:—“Trochus dicitur turben, qui flagello percutitur, et in vertiginem rotatur, aut rota quam currendo pueri scuticâ vel virgâ regunt.”

477. Carm. iii. 24. 56. sqq.

478. On the games at present practised in Greece, see Dodwell, ii. 37. sqq.; and Douglas, Essay on certain points of resemblance between the Anc. and Mod. Greeks, p. 127. sqq.

479. Poll. ix. 124.

480. Poll. ix. 123.

481. This has been observed by Hemsterhuis, ad Poll. t. vi. p. 1173, where his commentary alone can render the text intelligible.—Cf. Matthew, xxvi. 68. Mark, xiv. 64. Luke, xxii. 65.

482. “Jeu de la main chaude.” Steph. Thes. Ling. Græc. v. Κολλαβισμός.

483. Hyde, Hist. Nerdilud. p. 266.

484. In v. Ἐφεδρίζειν.

485. Hyde, Hist. Nerdilud. p. 241.

486. Hyde, Hist. Nerdilud. p. 263.

487. Sch. Aristoph. Thesm. 509. But see above, p. 122.

488. Poll. ix. 114.

489. Poll. ix. 125.

490. Id. ix. 74. Cf. Suid. v. Καλλικολώνη t. i. p. 1359. c. Meurs. De Lud. Græc. p. 41.

491. Opp. ii. p. 880. Theocrit. v. 133. Wart.—Poll. x. 100.

492. Comment. ad Poll. t. vi. p. 1180.

493. Poll. ix. 119.

494. Seber ad Poll. t. vi. p. 1188.

495. Poll. ix. 110.

496. Galen. Protrept. § 10. Kühn. Compare the admirable note of Hemsterhuis ad Poll. t. vi. p. 1066. seq.

497. Poll. ix. 111. seq. Plat. Phæd. t. i. p. 29. seq. Bekk.

498. Turneb. Advers. xxvii. 33. Poll. ix. 114. Comment. t. vi. p. 1178.

499. Vid. Vatic. Append. Proverb. Cent. ii. prov. 12. et Ib. not. And. Schotto. Kühn ad Poll. t. vi. p. 1190.

500. Meursius, Græc. Lud. p. 26. and after him Pfeiffer, Ant. Græc. iv. p. 120. read κινδαλοπαίκτης, which Hemsterhuis observes is contrary to the authority of the MSS.

501. Phurnutus, De Nat. Deorum, c. 30. p. 217. seq. Gale.—Poll. ix. 121. Sch. Aristoph. Plut. 1130. Kust.—Meurs. Græc. Fer. p. 52; Græc. Ludibunda, p. 6.

502. Poll. ix. 127. with the note of Hemsterhuis.

503. Palamedes, iii. 4. p. 207. Alex. ab Alex. iii. 21.

504. Cf. Souter. Palam. iii. 3. p. 201.

505. Deipnosoph. i. 26.

506. Cf. Schweigh. ad Athen. t. vi. p. 248. seq.

507. Poll. ix. 106.

508. Ad Poll. t. vi. p. 1186. sqq. Cf. Plut. Symp. i. 1.

509. Poll. ix. 118.

510. The game of astragals, properly so called, was common to both sexes (Paus. vi. 24. 7), who saw in Elis one of the Graces, represented with an astragal in her hand, while her two companions held the one a rose, the other a branch of myrtle, symbolical of their relationship to Aphrodite. The poets sometimes transfer these sports of earth to the Olympian halls, where we find Eros and Ganymede playing with golden astragals—Cf. Apollon. Rhod. iii. 117. seq. Cf. Odyss. α. 107. Il. χ. 87. seq.

511. Poll. ix. 126.

512. Children, according to Lysander, were to be deceived with astragals, and men with oaths.—Plut. Lysan. § 8.

513. Hyde, Hist. Talor. § 2. t. ii. p. 314.

514. Amor. § 16. Theoph. Char. c. 5. See Nixon. Acc. of Antiq. at Hercul. Phil. Trans. vol. 50. pt. i. p. 88. Hyde. Hist. Talor. p. 137.

515. Hyde. Hist. Talor. p. 141. sqq. Poll. ix. 100.

516. Arist. Hist. Anim. ii. 2. p. 30. Bekk.

517. Meurs. Græc. Lud. p. 7.

518. xxxiv. 19. Vid. Calcagnin, Dissert. de Talis. J. Cammer. Comment. de Utriusque Ling. c. 846.

519. Hyde, Hist. Nerdilud. p. 261.

520. Plut. 817. sqq. Cf. Sch. in loc.

521. Suid. et Hesych. in v. Poll. ix. 102. Cf. Meurs. Græc. Ludib. p. 69.

522. Cf. Meurs. de Lud. Græc. p. 61. Hesych. v. Τρόπα.

523. Poll. ix. 117.



In Greece, as everywhere else, education[524] commenced in the nursery; and though time has very much obscured all remaining traces of the instruction which the children there received, we are not left on this point wholly without information. From the very day of his birth man begins to be acted on by those causes that furnish his mind with ideas. As his intelligence acquires strength, the five sluices which let in all that flood of knowledge which afterwards overflows his mind, appear to be enlarged, and education at first, and for some time, consists in watching over the nature and quality of the ideas conveyed inward by those channels. It is difficult to say when actual instruction commenced: but among the earliest formal attempts at impressing traditionary knowledge on the infant mind was the repetition by mothers and nurses of fables and stories, not always, if Plato may be credited, constructed with a religious or ethical purpose.[525] They, in fact, introduced into the minds of their children the legends of the mythology, under the forms of which truths of the greatest importance, such as Bacon has developed in his “Wisdom of the Ancients,” lay sometimes concealed, though more frequently, perhaps, they inculcated no useful lesson, but were the mere sportive creations of fancy, or if they contained any moral kernel the shell in which it was 165cased was too hard for the teeth of the vulgar. Such, for example, as the legend of Zeus in Hesiod mutilating his father Kronos, which, in Plato’s opinion, was not to be delivered to the empty-headed multitude or to untaught children; but, having sacrificed, not a hog, but the most precious victim, in mysterious secrecy to a few.

Wholly different from these, however, were the fables[526] properly so called, which, invented apparently by Hesiod,[527] (at least his Hawk and Nightingale is the oldest example extant in Hellenic literature,) were afterwards sprinkled by the greatest poets, through their writings, or spontaneously uttered in pressing emergencies to warn their countrymen against the approaches of tyranny. Archilochos’ Eagle and Fox[528] was famous throughout antiquity, as was likewise the Horse and the Stag, related by Stesichoros[529] to the people of Himera, to put them on their guard against the Machiavellian policy of Gelon. But the most complete, perhaps, of these ancient compositions is the fable of the lion, delivered by Eumenes to the Macedonian generals under his order, when they had been tampered with by Antigonos, who would have persuaded them to disband.[530]

“It is said,” observed the Prince, “that once upon a time a lion falling in love with a young maiden came to make proposals of marriage to her father. The old man replied that he was quite ready to bestow on him his daughter upon one condition, namely, that he should pluck out his teeth and his claws, for that he feared his majesty might upon the wedding night forget himself and unwittingly destroy the bride. To these terms the lion consented, and 166allowed his teeth and claws to be pulled out, upon which the father seeing he had lost the only things which rendered him terrible fell upon him with a club and beat him to death.” The Æsopic fables[531] which Socrates a few days before his death amused himself by turning into verse,[532] are known to us solely by comparatively modern imitations, and of those which were denominated Sybaritic we know nothing[533] beyond the name; for though one scholiast informs us that the Sybaritic fables brought men upon the scene, as the Æsopic did animals, another states the direct contrary. In the earlier and ruder ages of Greece, however, these compositions were in great repute, as they are still among the people of the East. To the infancy of nations as of individuals the wisdom they contain is, in fact, always palatable; for which reason they were highly esteemed by Martin Luther as particularly adapted to the spirit of his times.

Doubtless we know too little of how the foundation of the republican character was laid in the ancient commonwealths; but it was laid by woman, and for centuries cannot have been laid amiss, as the glorious superstructure of virtue and patriotism erected upon it fully demonstrates. On this point we must reject the testimony of Plato’s academic dream. The historic fields of Marathon, Platæa, Thermopylæ, and a thousand others confute his fanciful theorising, proving incontestably that the love of glory and independence could, in the very polities which lie least esteemed, achieve triumphs unknown to the subjects of other governments.

At seven years[534] old boys were removed from the harem and sent under the care of a governor to a public school, which, from the story of Bedreddin Hassan, we find to have been formerly the practice among the Arabs, even for the sons of distinguished 167men and Wezeers. “When seven years had passed over him his grandfather, (Shemseddeen, Wezeer of the Sultan of Egypt,) committed him to a schoolmaster, whom he charged to educate him with great care.”[535]

Mischievous no doubt the boys of Hellas were, as boys will everywhere be, and many pranks would they play in spite of the crabbed old slaves set over them by their parents; on which account, probably, it is that Plato considers boys, of all wild beasts the most audacious, plotting, fierce and intractable.[536] But the urchins now found that it was one thing to nestle under mamma’s wing at home, and another to delve under the direction of a didaskalos, and at school-hours, after the bitter roots of knowledge. For the school-boys of Greece tasted very little of the sweets of bed after dawn. “They rose with the light,” says Lucian, “and with pure water washed away the remains of sleep, which still lingered on their eyelids.”[537] Having breakfasted on bread and fruit, to which through the allurements of their pædagogues they sometimes added wine,[538] they sallied forth to the didaskaleion, or schoolmaster’s lair as the comic poets jocularly termed it,[539] summer and winter, whether the morning smelt of balm, or was deformed by sleet or snow, drifting like meal from a sieve down the rocks of the Acropolis.

Aristophanes has left us a picture, dashed off with his usual grotesque vigour, of a troop of Attic lads marching on a winter’s morning to school.[540]

“Now will I sketch the ancient plan of training,
When justice was in vogue and wisdom flourished.
First, modesty restrained the youthful voice
So that no brawl was heard. In order ranged,
The boys from all the neighbourhood appeared,
168Marching to school, naked, though down the sky
Tumbled the flaky snow like flour from sieve.
Arrived, and seated wide apart, the master
First taught them how to chaunt Athena’s praise,
‘Pallas unconquered, stormer of cities!’ or
‘Shout far resounding’ in the self-same notes
Their fathers learned. And if through mere conceit
Some innovation-hunter strained his throat
With scurril lays mincing and quavering,
Like any Siphnian or Chian fop—
As is too much the fashion since that Phrynis[541]
Brought o’er Ionian airs—quickly the scourge
Rained on his shoulders blows like hail as one
Plotting the Muses’ downfal. In the Palæstra
Custom required them decently to sit,
Decent to rise, smoothing the sandy floor
Lest any traces of their form should linger
Unsightly on the dust. When in the bath
Grave was their manner, their behaviour chaste.
At table, too, no stimulating dishes,
Snatched from their elders, such as fish or anis,
Parsley or radishes or thrushes, roused
The slumbering passions.”[542]

The object of sending boys to school was twofold: first to cultivate and harmonise their minds by arts and literature; secondly, so to occupy them that no time could be allowed for evil thoughts and habits. On this account, Aristotle enumerating Archytas’ rattle among the principal toys of children, denominates education the rattle of boys.[543] In order, too, that its effect might be the more sure and permanent, no holidays[544], or vacations appear to have been allowed, while irregularity or lateness of attendance was severely punished.[545] The theories broached by Montagne, Locke, and others, that boys are to be kept in order by reason and persuasion were not anticipated by the Athenians.[546] They believed that to reduce the 169stubborn will to obedience, and enforce the wholesome laws of discipline, masters must be armed with the power of correction, and accordingly their teachers and gymnasiarchs checked with stripes[547] the slightest exhibition of stubbornness or indocility.[548]

Nor did their pædagogues[549] or governors behave towards them with less strictness. These were persons,—slaves for the most part,—who at Athens as in the rest of Greece, Sparta not excepted, were from the earliest ages intrusted with the care of boys, and whose ministry could on no account be dispensed with. By Plato[550] even these precautions were deemed insufficient. In his ideal state he would have the pædagogues themselves, as at Sparta, under the strictest inspection, making it the duty of every citizen to have an eye upon them, and arming him with the power to correct their delinquencies as well as those of the boys under their charge. There was to be, moreover, a general inspector intrusted with authority to punish neglect, by whichsoever of the parties committed. Upon these points the views of the Athenians were unquestionably judicious, for since boys did not amongst them pass at once from the hands of their mothers and domestic guardianship into those of the state as at Sparta, such governors were necessary to 170preserve their manners from defilement and contamination.[551] Their principal duty consisted in leading the lad to and from school, in attending him to the theatre, to the public games, to the forum, and wherever else it was thought fit he should go.[552] It has been by some conjectured that while the boys continued under the care of the schoolmaster the governors remained in the house, or in a building adjoining denominated the pædagogeion, to await their return; but the inference, drawn chiefly from the name of the edifice, is erroneous; pædagogeion was employed to signify the school itself,[553] and we have the testimony of Plato to prove that the pædagogue having delivered the boy to the didaskalos, usually returned to his master’s house.

On the character of these governors[554] antiquity appears to have transmitted us more satire than information. If we may credit some writers, it was not merely slaves who were intrusted with the care of boys, but often the meanest and vilest of slaves,—base in mind, depraved in manners,—whose guardianship, when they chanced to be crabbed and morose, could be no other than disgusting to their charges; and, when inclined to indulgence, most pernicious. Nay, were they themselves corrupt, what could be of more evil tendency than their own example? They who take this view of the matter appear to me illogical and inconsistent.[555] Though aware that these men were chosen by the parents to preserve their children from bad example, from the infection of corrupt manners, from the allurements of vicious companions, these writers persuade themselves that they voluntarily 171gave them as companions and guardians men worse than whom could not be found. It is more reasonable to conclude that when these pædagogues proved unworthy of the trust reposed in them they were sufficient masters of hypocrisy to conceal their vices at home, and only revealed themselves to their young masters gradually as their lessons produced their evil fruits. Thus, it is clear, that the father whom the comic writer Plato, in his Fellow Deceiver,[556] introduced reproaching the pædagogue who had corrupted his son, knew nothing of his evil ways when he delivered the lad to his keeping.

“The youth, O wretch, whom I intrusted to thee
Thou hast perverted, teaching him vile habits
Once stranger to his mind; for now he drinks
Even in the morning, which was not his wont.”

With the greatest reason we may suppose, that of all the domestics in the family the most staid and sober, the most attached, the most faithful, were chosen to fulfil this important duty, such as Plautus describes an honest pædagogue,—

Eademque erat hæc disciplina olim, cum tu adolescens eras?
Nego tibi hoc annis viginti fuisse primis copiæ,
Digitum longe a pædagogo pedem ut efferres ædibus,
Ante solem exorientem nisi in palæstram veneras,
Gymnasii præfecto haud mediocres pœnas penderes.
Idque ubi obtigerat, hoc etiam ad malum arcessabatur malum
Et discipulus et magister perhibebantur improbi.
Ubi cursu, luctando, hasta, disco, pugillatu, pila,
Saliendo sese exercebant magis, quam, scorto aut saviis:
Ibi suam ætatem extendebant, non in latebrosis locis.
Inde de hippodromo et palæstra ubi revenisses domum,
Cincticulo præcinctus in sella apud magistrum assideres:
Cum librum legeres. Si unam peccavisses syllabam,
Fieret corium tam maculosum quam est nutricis pallium
*   *   *   *   * Id equidem ego certo scio.
Nam olim populi prius honorem capiebat suffragio,
Quam magistri desinebat esse dicto obediens.[557]

Lucian, too, speaking of the attendants of youths in the better times of the republic, describes them 172as an honourable company who followed their young masters to the schools, not with combs and looking-glasses like the attendants of ladies, but with the venerable instruments of wisdom in their hands, many-leaved tablets or books recording the glorious deeds of their ancestors, or if proceeding to the music master bearing, instead of these, the melodious lyre.[558]

In fact the fortunes of war often in those days reduced men of virtue and ability to the condition of slaves, when they would naturally be chosen as the governors of youth. Thus we find Diogenes the Cynic purchased by a rich Corinthian, who intrusted to him the education of his sons. The account which antiquity has left us of his sale, reception by his master, and manner of teaching, being extremely brief, we shall here give it entire. Hermippos[559] who wrote a small treatise called the Sale of Diogenes, observes that when the philosopher was exposed in the slave-market and interrogated respecting his qualifications, he replied that “He could command men;” and then addressing himself to the herald, bade him inquire whether there was any one present who wanted a master. Being forbidden to sit down, he said “This matters nothing, for fish are bought in whatever way they may lie.” He remarked also, that he wondered that when people were buying a pot or a dish they examined it on all sides, whereas when they purchased a man they were contented with simply looking at him. Afterwards, when he had become the slave of Xeniades, he informed his owner that he expected the same obedience to be paid to him as men yield to a pilot or a physician.

It is further related by Eubulos, who likewise wrote a treatise on this incident, that Diogenes conducted with the utmost care the education of the children under his charge. In addition to the ordinary studies, 173he taught them to ride, to draw the bow, to use the sling, and to throw the javelin. In the palæstra, moreover, where, contrary to the Athenian practice he remained to watch over the boys, Diogenes would not permit the master of the Gymnasium to exercise them after the manner of the athletæ; but in those parts only of gymnastics, which had a tendency to animate them and strengthen their constitutions. They learned also by heart,[560] under his direction, numerous sentences from the poets and historians, as well as from his own writings. It was his practice likewise very greatly to abridge his explanations in order that they might the more easily be committed to memory. At home he habituated them to wait on themselves, to be content with frugal fare, and drink water, from which it may be inferred that others drank wine. He accustomed them to cut their hair close, not to be fastidious in dress, and to walk abroad with him barefoot and without a chiton, silent and with downcast eyes.[561] He also went out with them to hunt. On their part they took great care of him, and pleaded his cause with their parents. He therefore grew old in the family, and they performed for him the rites of sepulture.

Now what Diogenes was in the house of Xeniades numerous pædagogues were doubtless found to be in other parts of Greece. But the majority it is thought were open to blame; and so they are everywhere, and so they would be, though taken from the best classes of mankind. That is, they were men with 174many failings, far from what could be wished; but that their character upon the whole was respectable seems to me demonstrated by the powers delegated to them by the parents. For not only could they use upon occasion, as we have said, menace and harsh language,—they were even permitted to have recourse to blows, in order to preserve their pupils from vices which none would have sooner taught than they, had their characters been such as is commonly believed. For example, would they have made a drunkard the guardian of a boy’s sobriety? a thief the guardian of his honesty? a libertine of his chastity? a coarse and ribald jester the inculcator of modesty and purity of language?[562]

At home, of course, the influence and example of the parents surpassed all other influences, of the mother more especially, who up to their manhood retained over her sons the greatest authority. Of this a playful illustration occurs in the Lysis of Plato.[563] Socrates, interrogating the youth respecting the course of his studies, inquires archly whether when in the harem he was not as a matter of course permitted to play with his mother’s wool basket, and loom, and spathe, and shuttle?

“If I touched them,” replied Lysis, laughing, “I should soon feel the weight of the shuttle upon my fingers.”

“But,” proceeds the philosopher, “if your mother or father require anything to be read or written for them, they, probably, prefer your services to those of any other person?”

“No doubt.”

“And in this case, as you have been instructed in reading and spelling, they allow you to proceed according to your own knowledge. So likewise, when you play to them on the lyre, they suffer 175you, as you please, to relax or tighten the chords, to touch them with the fingers, or strike them with the plectron,—do they not?”


From this it would appear that the authority of the parents was equal; though generally at Athens, as Plato[564] elsewhere complains, greater reverence was paid to the commands of the mother even than to those of the father. Indeed to be wanting in respect to her was there deemed the ne plus ultra of depravity.[565] The father, however, of necessity took a considerable share in the instruction and moral training of his son,[566] who at home profited by his conversation, and, arrived at the proper age, accompanied him abroad.[567] When reduced to the state of orphanhood the republic took children under its own protection, not considering it safe to intrust them to the sole guidance of masters or pædagogues.

Care, too, was taken lest those public schools, established for the advancement of virtue and morals, should themselves be converted into nurseries of vice. They were by law[568] forbidden to be opened before sunrise, and were closed at sunset; nor during the day could any other men be introduced besides the teachers,[569] though it appears from some of Plato’s dialogues that this enactment was not very strictly observed.[570] To prevent habits of brawling, boys were forbidden to assemble in crowds in the streets on their way to school. Nor were these laws deemed sufficient; but still further to 176protect their morals ten annual magistrates called Sophronistæ, one from each tribe, were elected by show of hands,[571] whose sole business it was to watch over the manners of youth. This magistracy, dated as far back as the age of Solon,[572] and continued in force to the latest time. The Gymnasiarch, another magistrate,[573] was intrusted with the superintendence of the Gymnasia, which, like the public games and festivals, appeared to require peculiar care; and, if we can receive the testimony of Plautus[574] for the classical ages of the commonwealth, transgressors received severe chastisement.

It has sometimes been imagined that in Greece separate edifices were not erected as with us expressly for school-houses, but that both the didaskalos and the philosopher taught their pupils in fields, gardens or shady groves.[575] But this was not the common practice, though many schoolmasters appear to have had no other place wherein to assemble their pupils than the portico of a temple[576] or some sheltered corner in the street, where in spite of the din of business and the throng of passengers the worship of learning was publicly performed. Here, too, the music-masters frequently gave their lessons, whether in singing or on the lyre, which practice explains the anecdote of the musician, who, hearing the crowd applaud one of his scholars, gave him a box on the ear, observing, “Had you played well these blockheads would not have praised you.” A custom very similar prevails in the 177East, where, in recesses open to the street, we often see the turbaned schoolmaster with a crowd of little Moslems about him, tracing letters on their large wooden tablets or engaged in recitations of the Koran.

But these were the schools of the humbler classes. For the children of the noble and the opulent spacious structures were raised, and furnished with tables, desks,—for that peculiar species of grammateion[577] which resembled the plate cupboard, can have been nothing but a desk,—forms, and whatsoever else their studies required. Mention is made of a school at Chios[578] which contained one hundred and twenty boys, all of whom save one were killed by the falling in of the roof. From another tragical story we learn that in Astypalæa,[579] one of the Cyclades, there was a school which contained sixty boys. The incidents connected with their death are narrated in the romantic style of the ancients. Cleomedes, a native of this island, having in boxing slain Iccos the Epidaurian, was accused of unfairness and refused the prize, upon which he became mad and returned to his own country. There, entering into the public school, he approached the pillar that supported the roof, and like another Sampson seized it in an access of frenzy, and wresting it from its basis brought down the whole building upon the children. He himself however escaped, but, being pursued with stones by the inhabitants, took sanctuary in the temple of Athena, where he concealed himself in the sacred chest. The people paying no respect to the holy place still pursued him and attempted to force open the lid, which he held down with gigantic strength. At length when the coffer was broken in pieces Cleomedes was nowhere to be found, dead or alive. Terrified at this prodigy they sent to consult the oracle of Delphi, by which they 178were commanded to pay divine honours to the athlete as the last of the heroes.[580]

In the interior of the school there was commonly an oratory[581] adorned with statues of the Muses, where, probably in a kind of font, was kept a supply of pure water for the boys. Pretending often, when they were not, to be thirsty, they would steal in knots to this oratory, and there amuse themselves by splashing the water over each other; on which account the legislator ordained that strict watch should be kept over it. Every morning the forms were spunged,[582] the schoolroom was cleanly swept, the ink ground ready for use, and all things were put in order for the business of the day.

The apparatus[583] of an ancient school was somewhat complicated: there were mathematical instruments, globes, maps, and charts of the heavens, together with boards whereon to trace geometrical figures, tablets, large and small, of box-wood, fir, or ivory[584] triangular in form, some folding with two, and others with many leaves; books too and paper, skins of parchment, wax for covering the tablets, which, if we may believe Aristophanes,[585] people sometimes ate when they were hungry.[586]

To the above were added rulers, reed-pens,[587] pen-cases, 179pen-knives, pencils, and last, though not least, the rod which kept them to the steady use of all these things.

At Athens these schools were not provided by the state. They were private speculations, and each master was regulated in his charges by the reputation he had acquired and the fortunes of his pupils. Some appear to have been extremely moderate in their demands.[588]

There was for example a school-master named Hippomachos, upon entering whose establishment boys were required to pay down a mina, after which they might remain as long and benefit by his instructions as much as they pleased. Didaskaloi were not however held in sufficient respect, though as their scholars were sometimes very numerous,[589] as many for example as a hundred and twenty, it must often have happened that they became wealthy. From the life of Homer, attributed to Herodotus,[590] we glean some few particulars respecting the condition of a schoolmaster in remoter ages.

Phemios it is there related kept a school at Smyrna, where he taught boys their letters and all those other parts of education then comprehended under the term music. His slave Chritheis, the mother of the poet, spun and wove the wool which Phemios received in payment from his scholars. She likewise introduced into his house great elegance and frugality, which so pleased the school-master that it induced him to marry 180her. Under this man, according to the tradition received in Greece, Homer studied, and made so great a proficiency in knowledge that he was soon enabled to commence instructor himself. He therefore proceeded to Chios,[591] and opened a school where he initiated the youth in the beauties of epic poetry, and, performing his duties with great wisdom, obtained many admirers among the Chians, became wealthy, and took a wife, by whom he had two sons.

The earliest task to be performed at school was to gain a knowledge of the Greek characters, large and small, to spell next, next to read. Herodes the Sophist experienced much vexation from the stupidity exhibited in achieving this enterprise by his son Atticus, whose memory was so sluggish that he could not even recollect the Christ-cross-row. To overcome this extraordinary dulness he educated along with him twenty-four little slaves of his own age, upon whom he bestowed the names of the letters, so that young Atticus might be compelled to learn his alphabet as he played with his companions, now calling out for Omicron now for Psi.[592] In teaching the art of writing their practice nearly resembled our own; the master traced with what we must call a pencil (γραφὶς), a number of characters on a tablet, and the pupil following with the pen the guidance of the faint lines[593] before him, accustomed his fingers to perform the requisite movements with adroitness.[594] These things 181were necessarily the first step in the first class of studies, which were denominated music,[595] and comprehended everything connected with the developement of the mind; and they were carried to a certain extent before the second division called gymnastics was commenced. They reversed the plan commonly adopted among ourselves, for with them poetry[596] preceded prose, a practice which coöperating with their susceptible temperament, impressed upon the national mind that imaginative character for which it was preëminently distinguished. And the poets in whose works they were first initiated were of all the most poetical, the authors of lyrical and dithyrambic pieces, selections from whose verses they committed to memory, thus acquiring early a rich store of sentences and imagery ready to be adduced in argument or illustration, to furnish familiar allusions or to be woven into the texture of their style.[597]

Considerable difference however existed in the practice of different teachers. Some imagining that by the variety of their acquirements they would be rendered eloquent, recommended the indiscriminate study of the poets,[598] whether they wrote in hexameter, in trimeter, or any other kind of verse, on ludicrous or on serious subjects. Certain poets there were who like Fenelon and the pretended Ossian, wrote their works in prose,[599] respecting the use of whose compositions Plato was in some doubt.

By other philosophers wandering unrestrained over the vast fields of literature was condemned. They desired to separate the gold from the dross, contending 182that persons accustomed from their infancy to the loftier and purer inspirations of the muse will regard with contempt every thing mean or illiberal, whereas they who have learned to delight in low and vulgar compositions will consider all other literature tame and insipid. For so great is the force of imitation, that habits commenced from the earliest years pass into the manners and character of a man, affecting even his voice and corporeal developement, nay, modifying the very nature of the thoughts themselves.

Among the other branches of knowledge[600] most necessary to be studied, and to which they applied themselves nearly from the outset, was arithmetic, without some inkling of which, a man, in Plato’s opinion, could scarcely be a citizen at all. For, as he observes, there is no art or science which does not stand in some need of it, especially the art of war, where many combinations depend entirely on numbers. And yet Agamemnon in some of the old tragic poets was represented by Palamedes as wholly ignorant of calculation, so that possibly, as Socrates jocularly observes, he could not reckon his own feet.[601] The importance attached to this branch of education, nowhere more apparent than in the dialogues of Plato, furnishes 183one proof that the Athenians were preëminently men of business, who in all their admiration for the good and beautiful never lost sight of those things which promote the comfort of life, and enable a man effectually to perform his ordinary duties. With the same views were geometry and astronomy pursued. For, in the Republic, Glaucon,[602] who may be supposed to represent the popular opinion, confesses at once, upon the mention of geometry, that as it is applicable to the business of war it would be most useful. He could discover the superiority of the geometrician[603] over the ignorant man in pitching a camp, in the taking of places, in contracting or expanding the ranks of an army, and all those other military movements practised in battles, marches or sieges. To Plato however this was its least recommendation. He conceived that in the search after goodness and truth the study of this science was especially beneficial to the mind, both because it deals in positive verities, and thus begets a love of them, and likewise superinduces the habit of seeking them through lengthened investigation and of being satisfied with nothing less.

In the study of astronomy[604] itself a coarse and obvious utility was almost of necessity the first thing aimed at, and even in the age of Socrates, when philosophical wants were keenly felt in addition to those of the animal and civil life, there were evidently teachers who considered it necessary to justify such pursuits, by showing their bearing on the system of loss and profit. For when Socrates comes in his ideal scheme of education to touch on this science, Glaucon, the practical man, at once recognises its usefulness, not only in husbandry and navigation, but in affairs military. Nor are such fruits of it to be despised. 184But philosophy proposes a higher aim, insisting, in opposition to popular belief, that by means of such pursuits the soul may be purified, and its powers of discovering truth, overlaid and nearly extinguished by other studies, rekindled and fanned into activity like a flame.

The importance of music,[605] in the education of the Greeks, is generally understood. It was employed to effect several purposes. First, to soothe and mollify the fierceness of the national character, and prepare the way for the lessons of the poets, which, delivered amid the sounding of melodious strings, when the soul was rapt and elevated by harmony, by the excitement of numbers, by the magic of the sweetest associations, took a firm hold upon the mind, and generally retained it during life. Secondly, it enabled the citizens gracefully to perform their part in the amusements of social life, every person being in his turn called upon at entertainments to sing or play upon the lyre. Thirdly, it was necessary to enable them to join in the sacred choruses, rendered frequent by the piety of the state, and for the due performance in old age of many offices of religion, the sacerdotal character belonging more or less to all the citizens of Athens. Fourthly, as much of the learning of a Greek was martial and designed to fit him for defending his country, he required some knowledge of music that on the field of battle his voice might harmoniously mingle with those of his countrymen, in chaunting those stirring, impetuous, and terrible melodies, called pæans, which preceded the first shock of fight.

For some, or all of these reasons, the science of music began to be cultivated among the Hellenes, at a period almost beyond the reach even of tradition. 185The Bards, whom we behold wandering on the remotest edge of the fabulous horizon, have invariably harps or lyres in their hands; and the greatest of the heroes of poetry, the very acme of Epic excellence, is represented delighting in the performance of music, and chaunting on the shores of the Hellespont the deeds of former warriors. In those ages the music of the whole nation possessed evidently a grave and lofty character; but as that of the Ionians became afterwards modified by the influence of a softer climate and imitation of the Asiatic, while the Dorian measure remained nearly unchanged, the latter is supposed to have possessed originally the superiority over the former, which in reality it did not. In process of time, however, the existence of three distinct measures was recognised, the Dorian, the Æolian, and the Ionian: the first was grave, masculine, full of energy, and though somewhat monotonous peculiarly adapted to inspire martial ardour; the last distinguished by a totally different character, rich, varied, flexible, breathing softness and pleasure, adorning the hour of peace and murmuring plaintively through the groves and temples of Aphrodite, Apollo, and the Muses; while the second, which was fiery, with a mixture of gaiety, formed the intermediate step between the two measures, partaking something of the character of each. The Hypermixolydian and Hyperphrygian, at one time cultivated among the Ionians, were comparatively recent inventions.[606]

The Phrygian measure distinguished for its exciting and enthusiastic character,[607] was much employed upon the stage, on which account Agias the poet used to say that the styrax burned on the altar in the orchestra had a Phrygian smell, because its odours recalled the wild Phrygian measures there heard. The national instrument of the Phrygians was the flute, and it is worthy of remark that up 186to a very late period flute-players at Athens were usually distinguished by Phrygian names. Olympos the greatest musician known to the Greeks, was probably himself a native of Phrygia, since he is said to have been a pupil of Marsyas. In fact the barbarians of antiquity appear, though in a somewhat different way, to have made as much use of music as the Greeks themselves. They chaunted the songs of their bards in going to battle, sang funeral dirges at tombs, and even caused their ambassadors when proceeding on a mission to foreign states to be accompanied by music.[608] No people, however, appear to have carried their love for music to so preposterous a length as the Tyrrhenians, who caused their slaves to be flogged to the sound of the flute.

The music of the flute[609] was supposed to be peculiarly delightful to the gods, so that those who died while its sounds were on their ears were permitted to taste of the gifts of Aphrodite in Hades, as Philetæros expresses it in his Flute-lover:

“O Zeus! how glorious ’tis to die while piercing flutes are near
Pouring their stirring melodies into the faltering ear;
On these alone doth Eros smile within those realms of night,
Where vulgar ghosts in shivering bands, all strangers to delight,
In leaky tub from Styx’s flood the icy waters bear,
Condemned, for woman’s lovely voice, its moaning sounds to hear.”

The teachers of music were divided into two classes: the Citharistæ, who simply played on the instrument, and the Citharœdi who accompanied themselves on the cithara with a song.[610] Of these the humble and poorer taught, as we have already observed, in the corners of the streets, while the abler and more fortunate opened schools of music or gave their lessons in the private dwellings of the great. The Cithara, however, was not anciently in 187use at Athens, if we may credit the tradition which attributes to Phrynis its introduction from Ionia.[611]

Damon the great Athenian musician[612] used to observe, that wherever the mind is susceptible of powerful emotions there will be the song and the dance, and that wherever men are free and honourable their amusements will be liberal and decorous, where men are otherwise the contrary. A very judicious remark was likewise made by Caphesias the flute-player. Observing one of his pupils striving to produce loud sounds, he stamped on the ground and said,—"Boy, that is not always good which is great; but that is great which is good."[613]

The power of music in assuaging passion and anger is well illustrated by an anecdote of Cleinias the Pythagorean philosopher, a man distinguished for his virtue and gentleness. If at any time he felt himself moved to wrath, taking up his lyre he would touch the chords and chaunt thereto some ode, and if any questioned why he did so, he would reply, “I am in search of serenity.”[614]

Like the Hebrews, also, the people of Hellas attributed to music still more marvellous virtues,[615] conceiving it to be able to cure diseases both of the mind and body. Thus the sounds of the flute were supposed to remove epilepsy, and sciatica, and faintness, and fear, and paroxysms of long-established madness,[616] which will probably remind the reader of David playing before Saul, when his mind was troubled.

In the later ages of the commonwealth drawing likewise, and the elements of art entered into the 188list of studies pursued by youths, partly with the view of diffusing a correct taste, and the ability to appreciate and enjoy the noble productions of the pencil and chisel, and partly, perhaps, from the mere love of novelty, and the desire which man always feels to enlarge the circle of his acquirements. Aristotle,[617] indeed, suggests a much humbler motive, observing that a knowledge of drawing would enable men to appreciate more accurately the productions of the useful arts; but this perhaps was said more in deference to that spirit of utilitarianism then beginning to show itself than from any conviction of its soundness.

524. Among the ancient writers on education, of which the greater number have perished, was Clearchos of Soli, on whom see Voss. de Hist. Græc. i. Athen. xv. 54. Men. in Diog. Laert. p. 4. b.

525. Rep. ii. t. vi. p. 94.—Cf. Adolph. Cramer, 8, 9.

526. Cf. Suid. v. Καὶ τὸ τοῦ λύκου. i. 1427.

527. Opp. et. Dies, 202–212. Quintil. v. 2.

528. Plat. Rep. l. ii. cap. 8. c. p. 117. Schol. Aristoph. Av. 652. Philostrat. Imag. i. 3.

529. Phot. Bib. 139. b. 8. Hor. Epist. i. 10. Gyraldi, de Poet. Histor. p. 462. a. sqq. Aristot. Rhet. ii. 20.

530. Diod. Sic. l. xix. c. 25.

531. Aristoph. Pac. 128. Vesp. 1392, sqq. et Scholia.

532. Diog. Laert. ii. 5. 22.

533. Sch. Aristoph. Av. 471. Sch. Vesp. 1251.

534. Aristot. Polit. vii. 15.

535. Arabian Nights, i. 286. Lane’s Translation.

536. De Legg. vi. t. viii. p. 41. Creuzer. de Civ. Athen. p. 556.

537. Amor. § 44.

538. Athen. xiii. 61. sqq.

539. Poll. iv. 19.

540. Cf. Plato, de Legg. vii. t. viii. p. 41. seq.

541. For an account of this musician, see Pollux iv. 66. with the notes of Kühn and Iungermann, t. iv. p. 709. sqq.

542. Aristoph. Nub. 961. sqq. Cf. Plaut. Bacchid. iii. 3.

543. Polit. viii. 6. 268. Gœttl.

544. Casaub. ap. Theoph. Char. p. 273.

545. Plaut. Bacchid. iii. 3. 22.

546. Plato, indeed, at one time entertained a similar fancy.—De Rep. t. vi. p. 385. (Cf. Muret. in Aristot. Ethic. 71.) But, afterwards, in his old age, adopted the general conviction of mankind, that he who spares the rod spoils the child.—De Legg. t. viii. p. 12. seq. Varro, however, who wrote much on education, observes, that “remotissimum ad discendum formido, ac nimius timor, et omnis perturbatio animi. Contra delectatio pro telo ad discendum.” Victor. Var. Lect. l. xv. c. 2. Theodoric, the Gothic king of Italy, had another reason for sparing the rod in education. The child, he said, who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.—Gibbon vii. 19. This Gothic prince was not, therefore, acquainted with the Spartan system of education.

547. Sch. Aristoph. Nub. 959.

548. Cf. Cressoll. Theat. Rhet. v. 6. p. 471. seq.

549. On these and the other persons engaged in the education of youth, see Bergmann, ad Isoc. Areop. § 14.

550. De Legg. vii. t. viii. p. 42. See p. 11 of Cramer’s excellent little pamphlet, which I have frequently found extremely useful.

551. Xenoph. de Rep. Laced. ii. 1. 2.

552. Plat. Lysis. t. i. p. 118. De Legg. iv. t. viii. p. 325. De Rep. iii. t. vi. p. 128.

553. Poll. iv. 19. Ulp. ad Demosth. de Cor. § 78. Orat. Att. t. x. p. 113. Plat. Lysis. t. i. p. 145.

554. Plut. de Lib. Educ. § 7. The Athenians sought to create a high idea of this class of persons by annually offering sacrifice to Connidas, the reputed pædagogue of Theseus.—Plut. Thes. § 4.

555. Cram. de Educ. Puer. ap. Athen. p. 12.

556. Athen. xiii. 61. 63.

557. Plaut. Bacchid. Act iii. Sc. 3.

558. Amor. §. 44.

559. Diog. Laert. Vit. Diog. vi. ii. 4. sqq. with the observation of Menage, t. ii. p. 138.

560. I may say with Herault de Sechelle “Apprendre par cœur; ce mot me plait. Il n’y a guère en effet que le cœur, qui retienne bien, et qui retienne vîte.”—Voyage à Montbar, &c. p. 77.

561. Cf. Luc. Amor. § 44. Καὶ χλανίδα ταῖς ἐπωμίαις περόναις συῤῥάψας ἀπὸ τῆς πατρῴας ἑστίας ἐξέρχεται κάτω κεκυφὼς, καὶ μηδένα τῶν ἀπαντών τῶν ἐξ ἐναντίου προσβλέπων. In his exhortation to Demonicos, Isocrates has thrown together numerous precepts which almost constitute a code of morals and politeness. They are far superior to Lord Chesterfield’s even where the Graces only are recommended; and have the advantage of almost always subjoining the reason to the rule.

562. Cf. Dion. Chrysost. ii. p. 261; i. 299.

563. Opp. t. i. p. 118. The influence of imitation over the gesture, voice, and thoughts of youth is forcibly pointed out in the Republic.—t. vi. p. 124.

564. Repub. viii. 5. t. ii. p. 182. Stallb.

565. Aristoph. Nub. 1443. Δυοῖν δ᾽ ὀνομάτοιν σεβασμίοιν πᾶσαι τιμαι μένουσιν, ἐξίσου παρτὶ μητέρα προσκυνούντων.—Luc. Amor. § 19.

566. On the force of example and imitation see Plato, de Rep. t. vi. p. 124.

567. Plat. Lach. t. i. p. 269.—Among the public places to which a father might take his sons the courts of law were not included, though we find Demosthenes, when a boy, contriving to introduce himself, where unseen of the judges he might listen to the eloquence of Callistratos.—Victor. Var. Lect. l. xxx. c. 20.

568. Æsch. cont. Timarch. § 5, 6.

569. See Theoph. Char. c. 5. Sch. Aristoph. Nub. 180.

570. Lysis. t. i. p. 145. Theætet. t. iii. p. 179.

571. Etym. Mag. 742. 38.

572. Cramer de Educ. Puer. ap. Athen. p. 13.

573. Vandale Dissert. pp. 584–727.

574. Bacchid. iii. 3.

575. See Coray, Disc. Prelim. sur Hippoc. de Aër. et Loc. § 41. t. i. p. 46. seq.

576. In the Antichita di Ercolano (t. iii. p. 213.) we find a representation of one of these schools during the infliction of corporal chastisement. Numerous boys are seated on forms reading, while a delinquent is horsed on the back of another in the true Etonian style. One of the carnifices holds his legs, while another applies the birch to his naked back. Occasionally in Greece we find that free boys were flogged with a leek in lieu of a birch. Sch. Aristoph. Ran. 622. Schneid. ad Theoph. Hist. Plant. vii. 4. 10. p. 574.

577. Poll. iv. 18, 19. x. 57. seq.

578. Herod. vi. 27.

579. Called the Table of the Gods, from its beauty and amenity.—Steph. de Urb. in v. p. 189. b.

580. Paus. vi. 9. 6. seq. Plut. Rom. § 28.

581. Sch. Æsch. cont. Tim. in Orator. Att. t. xii. p. 376 a.

582. Dem. de Cor. § 78. seq.

583. Pollux, iv. 19. Cf. Herod. vii. 239. ii. 21. Sch. Aristoph. Vesp. 529.

584. Poll. i. 234. Lucian. Ner. § 9. Amor. § 44. Antich. di Ercol. t. ii. p. 55. t. iii. p. 237.

585. Poll. x. 58, 59.

586. On this subject Isidorus Hispal. vi. 9. has a curious passage: “Ceræ literarum materies, parvulorum nutrices. Ipsæ dant ingenium pueris primordia sensus, quarum studium primi Græci tradidisse produntur. Græci enim et Thusci primum ferro in ceris scripserunt. Postea Romani jusserunt, ne graphium ferreum quis haberet. Undè et apud scribas dicebatur, Ceram ferro ne lædito. Postea institutum est, ut in cerâ ossibus scriberent, sicut indicat Alsa in Satyrâ dicens: Vertamus vomerem in ceram, mucroneque aremus osseo.” Cf. Pfeiffer, Antiq. Græc. p. 413.

587. It was as the instrument of literature that the reed subdued half the world, though Pliny only celebrates its conquest as an arrow. “Ac si quis Æthiopas, Ægyptum, Arabas, Indos, Scythas, Bactros, Sarmatarum tot gentes et Orientis, omniaque Parthorum regna diligentiùs computet, æqua fermè pars hominum in toto mundo calamis superata degit.”—Hist. Nat. xvi. 65.

588. Which was the case even among the sophists, as we find Proclos granting a perpetual admission to his lectures for a hundred drachmæ.—Philost. Vit. Soph. ii. 21. § 3. This he was the better enabled to do from his carrying on the business of a merchant.—§ 2. Professors’ charges appear to have been often disputed, as we find mention, in many authors, of law-suits between them and their pupils.—Lucian. Icaromenip. § 16. “The wages of industry are just and honourable, yet Isocrates shed tears at the first receipt of a stipend.”—Gibbon, vii. 146.

589. Athen. xiii. 47.

590. Vit. Hom. §§ 5. seq. 25. seq.

591. Speaking of the antiquities of this island Chandler remarks: “The most curious remain is that which has been named, without reason, The School of Homer. It is on the coast at some distance from the city, northward, and appears to have been an open temple of Cybele, formed on the top of a rock. The shape is oval, and in the centre is the image of the goddess, the head and an arm wanting. She is represented, as usual, sitting. The chair has a lion carved on each side, and on the back. The area is bounded by a low rim or seat, and about five yards over. The whole is hewn out of the mountain, is rude, indistinct, and probably of the most remote antiquity.” i. 61.

592. Philost. Vit. Soph. ii. 10.

593. Quint. i. 1. Poll. vii. 128. Aristoph. Thesm. 778.

594. Plat. Protag. t. i. p. 181.

595. See Plat. de Rep. ii. t. vi. p. 93. seq. Sch. Aristoph. Eq. 188. seq.

596. In the Homeric age men, we are told, received their mental instruction from the bards, and their physical at the gymnasium.—Athen. i. 16.

597. Cf. Plat. de Rep. t. i. p. 149. Stallb.

598. Cf. Plato de Legg. t. viii. p. 44. sqq. On the style of declamation used in the Greek and Roman schools, see Schömann, de Comit. p. 187.

599. There were likewise poems written in the language of the common people.—Athen. xiv. 43.

600. Cf. Plat. de Legg. t. viii. p. 62. where he describes the Egyptian method of teaching arithmetic by rewards and allurements. Locke, however, condemned the practice. “He that will give to his son apples or sugar-plums, or what else of this kind he is most delighted with, to make him learn his book, does but authorise his love of pleasure, and cocker up that dangerous propensity, which he ought by all means to subdue and stifle in him.” Education § 52. Vid. Plat. de Rep. t. vi. p. 340. seq. Muret. Orat. iv. 43. Sir Josiah Child has some good remarks on the value of arithmetic as a branch of education: “It hath been observed in the nature of arithmetic, that, like other parts of the mathematics, it doth not only improve the natural faculties, but it inclines those that are expert in it to thriftiness and good husbandry, and prevents both husbands and wives in some measure from running out of their estates, when they have it always ready in their heads what their expenses do amount to, and how soon by that course their ruin must overtake them.”—Discourse of Trade, p. 5.

601. Plat. de Rep. vii. t. vi. p. 340. sqq.

602. Plat. de Rep. t. vi. p. 349. seq. De Legg. t. viii. p. 371. Sch. Aristoph. Nub. 180. Cf. Cicero de Orat. iii. 32. t. ii. 319. ed. Lallemand.

603. See in Sch. Aristoph. Nub. 181. an anecdote of Thales cutting a new channel for the river Halys.

604. Plat. de Rep. t. vi. p. 357. seq.; de Legg. t. viii. p. 370. Sch. Aristoph. Nub. 860. 208.

605. Vid. Ilgen. de Scol. Poes. xiv.—“Post Persica demum bella musicæ assidue operatos Græcos dicit. Et præmia diebus festis nonnullis constituta iis pueris adolescentibusque, qui lyrica carmina Solonis aliorumque optime cecinissent.”—Creuzer. de Civ. Athen. Omn. Hum. Par. p. 55. seq.

606. Athen. xiv. 20. sqq. Cf. Schol. Aristoph. Eq. 984. Clem. Alex. i. 3. 5.

607. Luc. Nigrin. § 37.

608. Athen. xiv. 24.

609. On the effect of music on the mind, see Magius, Var. Lect. p. 204 b.

610. Kühn ad Poll. iv. p. 711. Cf. Plat. de Legg. t. viii. p. 49.

611. Schol. Aristoph. Nub. 958; Vesp. 574.

612. Cf. Plat. Repub. t. vi. p. 133.

613. Athen. xiv. 26.

614. Πραΰνομοι. Cham. Pont. ap. Athen. xiv. 18.

615. Thus demons were expelled by the sound of brass bells.—Magius, Var. Lect. p. 205. b.

616. Athen. xiv. 18. Apollon. ap. Schweigh. Animad. xii. p. 399. on the story, and bronze votive offerings on the Tænarian promontory of the musician Arion.—Herod. i. 23. seq. Dion. Chrysost. Orat. xxxvii. p. 455. Pausan. i. 24. Ælian. de Nat. Animal. xii. 45.

617. Polit. viii. 3.



Simultaneously with the above studies,[618] that highly intricate and artificial system of exercises denominated gymnastics occupied a considerable portion of the time of youth. Among northern nations the influence of education is requisite to soften the manners and check ferocity; but in the south hardihood must in general be the fruit of discipline, and flourishes only while assiduously cultivated. Thus we find that the Persians,[619] by acting on the advice of Crœsos, and teaching the Lydians to become musicians and shopkeepers, uprooted entirely their martial spirit. In Greece, however, during the flourishing period of her history there was more danger that the passion for war should drown all others, than that its influence should be too feeble. Among the Athenians particularly, that restless energy of character, so marvellous and so distasteful to the Dorians, sought vent in dangerous and distant wars and stupendous schemes of ambition. This characteristic trait is adduced by Plato for the purpose of suggesting a contrast with the rival race. He had been dwelling, to his Cretan and Spartan companions, on the exercises necessary for pregnant women,[620] and observing their astonishment, he could understand, he said, how it might appear extraordinary to them, but at Athens his recommendation would be perfectly intelligible; for there, people were rather too active than otherwise. The difficulty always was to find becoming employment. 190Accordingly, for lack of something better, not merely boys but grown-up men, comprehending nothing of the dolce far niente, employed themselves in breeding cocks, quails, and other birds for fighting, and the care of these imposed on them the necessity of much exercise. To be sure, these cock-fighters, during their professional perambulations, presented a spectacle infinitely ludicrous. All regard to appearances was abandoned. With a couple of small cocks[621] in their hands, and an old one under either arm, they sallied forth, like vagabonds who had been robbing a henroost, to give their favourite animals air and gentle exercise, and thus laden often strolled several miles into the country.

To such a people the gymnasium opened up a source of peculiar delight, and in the end became a passion prejudicial to the cultivation of the understanding. But within the bounds of moderation it was prescribed by philosophers in lieu of physic, and as an antidote against those pale faces and emaciated frames, too common where intellectual studies are ardently pursued.[622] It was a law of Solon, that every Athenian[623] should be able to read and to swim; 191and the whole spirit of Attic legislation, leaving the poor to the exercise of industrious and hardy occupations, tended to create among the opulent and the noble a taste for field-sports, horsemanship, and every martial and manly exercise.[624] The difficulty, of course, was to render them subordinate to mental cultivation, and to blend both so cunningly together as to produce a beautiful and harmonious system of discipline, well fitted to ripen and bring to greatest perfection every power and faculty of body and mind.

The practises of the gymnasium may be traced backward to the remotest antiquity, and probably commenced among the warriors of the heroic ages,[625] in the peaceful intervals occurring between expeditions, from the desire to amuse their leisure by mimic representations of more serious contests. At first, no doubt, the exercises, frequently performed in honour of the gods,[626] were few and rude; but by the age of Homer they had assumed an artificial and regular form, and comprehended nearly all such divisions of the art as prevailed in later times. Other views than those with which they were instituted, caused them to be kept up. When reflection awoke, it was perceived that in these amicable contests men acquired not only force and agility, a martial bearing, the confidence of strength, beauty, and lightness of form; but, along with them, that easy cheerfulness into which robust health naturally blossoms.[627] In fact, so far were the legislators of Greece from designing by gymnastics to create, as Montesquieu[628] supposes, a nation of mere athletes and combatants, that they expressly repudiate the idea, affirming that lightness, agility, a compactly knit frame, health, but chiefly a well-poised and vigorous mind, were the object of this part of education. In order the better to attain 192this point, Plato in his republic ordains that boys be completed in their intellectual studies, which in his ideal state they were to be at the age of sixteen, before they entered the gymnasium, the exercises of which were to be the companions of simple music. From converting their citizens into athletes they were prevented by experience; for it was quickly discovered that those men who made a profession of gymnastics acquired, indeed, by their diet and peculiar discipline a huge stature and enormous strength, but were altogether useless in war, being sleepy, lethargic, prodigious eaters, incapable of enduring thirst or hunger, and liable to the attacks of sudden and fatal diseases if they departed in the least degree from their usual habits and regimen.[629]

Already in the Homeric age, gymnastics, though not as yet so named, constituted the principal object of education, and many branches of the art had even then been carried to a high degree of perfection.[630] The passion for it descended unimpaired to the Spartans, whose polity, framed solely for the preservation of national independence and the acquisition of glory in war, inspired little fondness for mental pursuits, but left the youth chiefly to the influence of the gymnasia, which gradually created in them a temper of mind compounded of insensibility and ferocity,[631] not unlike that of the North American Indians. This, however, they above all things prized, though as has been justly observed their exercises could in no sense be considered among the aids to intellectual cultivation.[632]

At Athens they came later into vogue, though common in the age of Solon. When, however, this 193ardent and enthusiastic people commenced the study of gymnastics, admiring as they did strength and vigour of frame, when united with manly beauty, their plastic genius soon converted it into an art worthy to be enumerated among the studies of youth. In very early ages they imitated the Spartan custom of admitting even boys into the gymnasia. But this was soon abandoned, it being found more profitable first to instruct them in several of the branches of study above described, and a class of men[633] called pædotribæ or gymnasts arose, who taught the gymnastic art privately, in subordination to their other studies, and were regarded as indispensable in the progress of education.[634] These masters gave their instructions in the palæstræ,[635] which generally formed a part of the gymnasia, though not always joined with those edifices, and to be carefully distinguished from them. It is not known with certainty at what age boys commenced their gymnastic exercises, though it appears probable that it was not until their grammatical and musical studies were completed, that is somewhere perhaps, as Plato counsels, about the age of sixteen. For it was not judged advisable to engage them in too many studies at once, since in bodies not yet endowed with all their strength over-exertion was considered injurious.

Before we enumerate and explain the several exercises it may be proper to introduce a description of the gymnasia themselves. Of these establishments there were many at Athens;[636] though three only, those of the Academy, Lyceum, and Cynosarges have acquired celebrity. The site of the first of these gymnasia being low and marshy was in ancient times infested with malaria, but having been drained by Cimon and planted with trees it became a favourite 194promenade and place of exercise.[637] Here, in walks shaded by the sacred olive, might be seen young men,[638] with crowns of rushes in flower upon their heads, enjoying the sweet odour of the smilax and the white poplar, while the platanos and the elm mingled their murmurs in the breeze of spring. The meadows of the Academy, according to Aristophanes the grammarian, were planted with the Apragmosune,[639] a sort of flower so called as though it smelt of all kind of fragrance and safety like our Heart’s-ease or flower of the Trinity. This place is supposed to have derived its name from Ecadamos, a public-spirited man who bequeathed his property for the purpose of keeping it in order. Around it were groves of the moriæ sacred to Athena, whence the olive crowns used in the Panathenaia were taken. The reason why the olive trees as well as those in the Acropolis were denominated moriæ must be sought for among the legends of the mythology, where it is related that Halirrothios son of Poseidon formed the design of felling them because the patronship of the city had been adjudged to Athena, for the discovery of this tree. Raising his axe, however, and aiming a blow at the trunk the implement glanced, and he thus inflicted upon himself a wound whereof he died.[640]

The name of the Lyceum[641] sometimes derived from Lycus, son of Pandion[642] probably owed its origin to the temenos of Lycian Apollo there situated. It lay near the banks of the Ilissos, and was adorned with stately edifices, fountains and groves. Here stood a celebrated statue of Apollo, in a graceful attitude, as if reposing after toil, with his bow in the left hand, and the right bent negligently over his 195head. The walls, too, were decorated with paintings. In this place anciently the Polemarch held his court[643] and the forces of the republic were exercised before they went forth to war.[644]

Appended to the name of the Cynosarges, or third gymnasium surrounded with groves[645] was a legend which related that when Diomos was sacrificing to Hestia, a white dog snatched away a part of the victim from the altar, and running straightway out of the city deposited it on the spot where this gymnasium was afterwards erected.[646] Here were several magnificent and celebrated temples to Alcmena, to Hebe, to Heracles, and to his companion Iolaos. Its principal patron, however, was Heracles,[647] who, lying himself under the suspicion of illegitimacy, came very naturally to be regarded as the protector of bastards, half citizens, and in general all persons of spurious birth, who accordingly in remoter ages resorted thither to perform their exercises.

Themistocles afterwards, by prevailing upon several of the young nobility to accompany him to the Cynosarges, obliterated its reproach, and placed it on the same level with the other gymnasia.[648] Here anciently stood a court in which causes respecting illegitimacy, false registry, &c. were tried. But to proceed to the general description. “The gymnasia were spacious edifices, surrounded by gardens and a sacred grove. The first entrance was by a square court, two stadia in circumference, encompassed with porticoes and buildings. On three of its sides were large halls, provided with seats, in which philosophers, rhetoricians, and sophists assembled their disciples. On the fourth were rooms for bathing and other practices of the 196gymnasium. The portico facing the south was double, to prevent the winter rains, driven by the wind, from penetrating into the interior. From this court you passed into an enclosure, likewise square, shaded in the middle by plane-trees. A range of colonnades extended round three of the sides. That which fronted the north had a double row of columns, to shelter those who walked there in summer from the sun. The opposite piazza was called Xystos, in the middle of which, and through its whole length, they contrived a sort of pathway, about twelve feet wide and nearly two deep, where, sheltered from the weather, and separated from the spectators ranged along the sides, the young scholars exercised themselves in wrestling. Beyond the Xystos was a stadium for foot-races.”[649]

The principal parts of the gymnasium were,—first, the porticoes, furnished with seats and side-buildings where the youths met to converse. 2. The Ephebeion,[650] that part of the edifice where the youth alone exercised. 3. The Apodyterion, or undressing-room.[651] 4. The Konisterion, or small court in which was kept the haphe, or yellow kind of sand sprinkled by the wrestlers over their bodies[652] after being anointed with the ceroma, or oil tempered with wax. An important part of the baggage of Alexander in his Indian expedition consisted of this fine sand for the gymnasium. 5. The Palæstra, when considered as part of the gymnasium,[653] was simply the place set apart for wrestling: the whole of its area was covered with a deep stratum of mud. 6. The Sphæristerion,[654]—that part of the gymnasium in which they played at ball. 7. Aleipterion or Elaiothesion,[655] that part of the palæstra where the 197wrestlers anointed themselves with oil. 8. The area: the great court, and certain spaces in the porticoes, were used for running, leaping, or pitching the quoit. 9. The Xystoi have been described above. 10. The Xysta[656] were open walks in which, during fine weather, the youths exercised themselves in running or any other suitable recreation. 11. The Balaneia or baths, where in numerous basins was water of various degrees of temperature, in which the young men bathed before anointing themselves, or after their exercises. 12. Behind the Xystos, and running parallel with it, lay the stadium,[657] which, as its name implies, was usually the eighth part of a mile in length. It resembled the section of a cylinder, rounded at the ends. From the area below, where the runners performed their exercises, the sides, whether of green turf or marble, sloped upwards to a considerable height, and were covered with seats, rising behind each other to the top for the accommodation of spectators.

Such were the buildings which Athens appropriated to the exercises of its youth; and if we consider the conveniences which they contained, the large spaces they enclosed, and the taste and magnificence which they exhibited, we shall probably conclude that no country in the world ever bestowed on the physical training of its citizens so much enlightened care.

The first step in gymnastics was to accustom the youth to endure, naked, the fiercest rays of the sun and the cold of winter, to which they were exposed during their initiatory exercises.[658] This is illustrated in a very lively manner by Lucian, where he introduces the Scythian Anacharsis anxious to escape from the scorching rays of noon to the shade of the plane-trees; while Solon, who had been educated according 198to the Hellenic system, stands without inconvenience bareheaded in the sun. The step next in order was wrestling, always regarded as the principal among gymnastic contests, both from its superior utility and the great art and skill which the proper practice of it required. To the acquisition of excellence in this exercise the palæstra and the instructions of the pædotribæ were almost entirely devoted; while nearly every other branch of gymnastics was performed in the gymnasium. These, according to Lucian, were divided into two classes, one of which required for their performance a soft or muddy area, the other one of sand, or an arena properly so called.[659] In all these exercises the youth were naked, and had their bodies anointed with oil.

To render, however our account of the exercises more complete, it may be proper to give a separate though brief description of each. The first or most simple was the Dromos or Course,[660] performed, as has been above observed, in the area of the stadium, which, in order to present the greater difficulty to the racers, was deeply covered with soft and yielding sand. Still further to enhance the labour, the youth sometimes ran in armour, which admirably prepared them for the vicissitudes of war, for pursuit after victory, or the rapid movements of retreat. The high value which the Greeks set upon swiftness may be learned from the poems of Homer, where likewise are found the most graphic and brilliant descriptions of the several exercises. Some of these we shall here introduce from Pope’s version, which in this part is peculiarly 199sustained and nervous. Speaking of the race between Oilean Ajax, Odysseus, and Antilochos, he says:—[661]

“Ranged in a line the ready racers stand,
Pelides points the barrier with his hand.
All start at once, Oileus led the race;
The next Ulysses, measuring pace with pace,
Behind him diligently close he sped,
As closely following as the mazy thread
The spindle follows, and displays the charms
Of the fair spinster’s breast and moving arms.
Graceful in motion, thus his foe he plies,
And treads each footstep ere the dust can rise;
The glowing breath upon his shoulder plays,
Th’ admiring Greeks loud acclamations raise,
To him they give their wishes, heart, and eyes,
And send their souls before him as he flies.
Now three times turned, in prospect of the goal,
The panting chief to Pallas lifts his soul;
Assist, O Goddess, (thus in thought he prayed,)
And present at his thought descends the maid;
Buoyed by her heavenly force he seems to swim,
And feels a pinion lifting every limb.”

Next in the natural order, proceeding from the simplest to the most artificial exercises, was leaping, in which the youth among the Greeks delighted to excel. In the performance of this exercise they usually sprang from an artificial elevation (βατὴρ), and descended upon the soft mould, which, when ploughed up with their heels, was termed ἐσκαμμένα.[662] The better to poise their bodies and enable them to bound to a greater distance, they carried in their hands metallic weights, denominated halteres,[663] in the form of a semi disk, having on their inner faces handles like the thong of a shield, through which the fingers were passed. Extraordinary feats are related of these ancient leapers. Chionis the Spartan and Phaÿllos the Crotonian, being related to have cleared at one bound 200the space of fifty-two, or according to others, of fifty-five feet.

With the latter account agrees the inscription on the Crotonian’s statue:

“Phaÿllos leaped full five and fifty feet,
The discus flung one hundred wanting five.”[664]

Homer briefly describes leaping among the sports of the Phæacians:

“Amphialos sprang forward with a bound,
Superior in the leap a length of ground.”[665]

To this succeeded pitching the quoit, which in the Homeric age would appear to have been practised with large stones or rude masses of iron. On ordinary occasions it has been conjectured that one discus only was used. But Odysseus, desirous of exhibiting his strength to the Phæacians, converts into a quoit the first block of stone within his reach.[666]

“Then striding forward with a furious bound
He wrenched a rocky fragment from the ground,
By far more ponderous and more large by far
Than what Phæacia’s sons discharged in air;
Fierce from his arm the enormous load he flings,
Sonorous through the shaded air it sings;
Couched to the earth, tempestuous as it flies,
The crowd gaze upwards while it cleaves the skies.
Beyond all marks, with many a giddy round,
Down rushing it upturns a hill of ground.”

The disk[667] in later times varied greatly both in shape, size, and materials. Generally it would seem to have been a cycloid, swelling in the middle and growing thin towards the edges. Sometimes it was perforated in the centre and hurled forward by a thong, and on other occasions would appear to have 201approached the spherical form, when it was denominated solos.[668]

Other of these exercises were shooting with the bow at wisps of straw stuck upon a pole,[669] and darting the javelin, sometimes with the naked hand and sometimes with a thong wound about the centre of the weapon. In the stadium at Olympia, the area within which the pentathli leaped, pitched the quoit, and hurled the javelin, appears to have been marked out by two parallel trenches: but if these existed likewise in the gymnasia, they must have been extremely shallow, as we find in Antiphon[670] a boy meeting with his death by inconsiderately running across the area while the youths were engaged in this exercise. Instead of throwing for the furthest, they would seem, from the expressions of the orator, to have aimed at a mark.

Wrestling[671] consisted of two kinds, the first, called Orthopale, was that style, still commonly in use, in which the antagonists, throwing their arms about each other’s body, endeavoured to bring him to the ground. In the other, called Anaclinopale, the wrestler who distrusted his own strength but had confidence in his courage and powers of endurance, voluntarily flung himself upon the ground, bringing his adversary along with him, and then by pinching, scratching, biting, and every other species of annoyance, sought to compel him to yield.

An example of wrestling in both its forms occurs in Homer, where Ajax Telamon and Odysseus contend in the funeral games for the prize.[672]

“Amid the ring each nervous rival stands,
Embracing rigid, with implicit hands;
Close locked above, their heads and arms are mixt;
Below their planted feet at distance fixt.
202Like two strong rafters which the builder forms
Proof to the wintry winds and howling storms;
Their tops connected, but at wider space
Fixed on the centre stands their solid base.
Now to the grasp each manly body bends,
The humid sweat from every pore descends,
Their bones resound with blows, sides, shoulders, thighs
Swell to each gripe, and bloody tumours rise.
Nor could Ulysses, for his art renowned,
O’erturn the strength of Ajax on the ground;
Nor could the strength of Ajax overthrow
The watchful caution of his artful foe.
While the long strife even tires the lookers-on,
Thus to Ulysses spoke great Telamon:
Or let me lift thee, Chief, or lift thou me,
Prove we our strength and Jove the rest decree.
He said; and straining heaved him off the ground
With matchless strength; that time Ulysses found
The strength t’ evade, and where the nerves combine
His ankle struck: the giant fell supine.
Ulysses following on his bosom lies,
Shouts of applause run rattling through the skies.
Ajax to lift Ulysses next essays;
He barely stirred him but he could not raise.
His knee locked fast the foe’s attempt defied,
And grappling close they tumbled side by side,
Defiled with honourable dust they roll,
Still breathing strife and unsubdued of soul.”

Boxing, which has very properly been called a rough exercise, though condemned by physicians and philosophers, was still practised in the gymnasium, sometimes with the naked fist but more frequently with the cestus, which consisted of a series of thongs, bound round the hand and arm up to the elbow, or even higher.[673] This exercise, however, seems to have been little practised, except by those who designed to become athletæ by profession. Homer has described the combat with the cestus in its most terrible form.[674]

“Amid the circle now each champion stands,
And poises high in air his iron hands:
With clashing gauntlets now they firmly close,
Their crackling jaws re-echo to the blows,
203And painful sweat from all their members flows.
At length Epeus dealt a weighty blow
Full on the cheek of his unwary foe.
Beneath that ponderous arm’s resistless sway
Down dropped he powerless, and extended lay.
As a large fish, when winds and waters roar,
By some huge billow dashed against the shore,
Lies panting, not less battered with his wound,
The bleeding hero pants upon the ground.
To rear his fallen foe the victor lends
Scornful his hand, and gives him to his friends,
Whose arms support him reeling through the throng,
And dragging his disabled legs along.
Nodding, his head hangs down his shoulders o’er,
His mouth and nostrils pour the clotted gore.
Wrapped round in mist he lies, and lost to thought,
His friends receive the bowl too dearly bought.”

Among the exercises of the gymnasium which Hippocrates advises to be practised during winter[675] and bad weather, when it is necessary to remain under cover, is walking on the tight rope. This feat seems to have been so great a favourite among the youths of antiquity, that they applied themselves to it with constant assiduity, and arrived at length at a degree of skill little inferior to that of our mountebanks. It seems, in fact, to have been a common practice in the gymnasium to run upon the tight rope. The Romans, seeking in something to outdo the Greeks, taught an elephant to perform a similar exploit.

Another branch of gymnastics consisted in the various forms of the dance, to be ignorant of which was at Athens esteemed a mark of an illiberal education. To excel in this accomplishment was nearly by all the Greeks[676] considered absolutely necessary, either as a 204preparation for the due performance of the movements and evolutions of war, sustaining a proper part in the religious choruses, or regulating the carriage with the requisite grace and decorum in the various relations of private life. Thus the Cretans, the Spartans, the Thessalians, and the Bœotians, held this division of gymnastics in especial honour, chiefly with a view to war, while the Athenians, and Ionians generally, contemplated it more as a means of developing the beauty of the form, and conferring ease and elegance on the gait and gesture. But because in treating of the theatre I design fully to describe the several varieties of scenic dances, I think it proper to throw together in that place whatever I may have to say on this subject.[677]

To all these branches of gymnastics the Grecian youth[678] applied themselves with peculiar eagerness, and on quitting the schools devoted to them a considerable portion of their time, since they were regarded both as a preparation for victory in the Olympic and other games, and as the best possible means for promoting health and ripening the physical powers. Nor could anything be easily conceived better suited to the genius of their republics. In the first place, as I have already observed, the wild and headstrong period of youth was withdrawn by these agreeable exercises from the desire and thoughts of evil, while a wholesome feeling of equality was cultivated, and something like brotherhood engendered in men destined to live and act together. Besides what could more admirably prepare them for fulfilling their duties as citizens and more especially for defending their country, than a system of physical training, which at the same time brought to perfection their strength, their vigour, and their manly beauty, and fitted them for the acquisition of that peculiar species of glory which success in the sacred games conferred? The acquisition, moreover, 205of robust health and that vigour of mind which accompanies it, was a consideration second to none. And it will readily be conceived that a judicious system of exercises, such as we have described, would necessarily render men patient of labour, inaccessible to fear, and be productive at once of graceful habits and lofty and honourable sentiments.

618. Cf. Plato, de Rep. t. vi. p. 139, seq.

619. Herod. i. 155. Cf. Polyæn. vii. 6. 4. Justin, i. 6.

620. De Legg. vii. t. viii. p. 3. cf. p. 11.

621. Plato, de Legg. vii. t. viii. p. 3. seq.—On the practice of quail-fighting, see Poll. vii. 16. Comm. p. 237. Büd. Com. Ling. Græc. p. 615. Paris. Iungermann ad Poll. vii. 136. p. 427, observes that it was customary to exhibit public quail-fights at Athens. But Lucian who states this (Anach. § 37), confounds the quail with the cock-fighting.—Ælian. V. H. ii. 28. Cf. Ludovic. Nonn. de Re Cib. ii. 22. p. 228. Poliarchos, an Athenian, buried his dogs and cocks magnificently.—viii. 4. In the same spirit, a French lady erected a mausoleum to her cat with this epitaph:

“Ci-gît une chatte jolie,
Sa maîtresse qui n’aima rien
L’aima jusques à la folie.
Pourquoi le dire? On le voit bien.”

The dog who detected the robber of Asclepios’s temple, received while he lived the marks of public gratitude, and was maintained like a hero at the people’s expense.—Ælian. V. H. vii. 14.

622. Aristoph. Nub. 185. Plat. Repub. t. vi. p. 146.

623. Petit. de Legg. Att. l. ii. tit. iv. p. 162. Æsch. cont. Tim. § 2–4.

624. Plat. de Legg. vii. t. viii. 17. seq.

625. Cf. Athen. i. 16.

626. Hom. Hymn. Apoll. 149.

627. Plat. Gorg. t. iii. p. 14.

628. Esprit des Loix, l. iv. c. 8.

629. Cf. Plat. de Rep. t. vi. p. 151.—To express the sweat gained by exercise or labour, the Greeks used to say ξηρὸς ἱδρὼς, or ‘dry sweat.’—Phæd. t. i. p. 26. Runners, it was observed, had large legs; wrestlers small.—Xenoph. Conv. ii. 17.

630. Feith, Antiq. Homer. iv. 6. 304. Cramer. p. 35.

631. Plat. de Rep. t. vi. 154.

632. Hermann. Polit. Antiq. § 26. n. 2.

633. Cf. Æsch. cont. Tim. § 37. Casaub. ad Theophr. Char. p. 200.

634. Cramer, p. 36.

635. Poll. iii. 149.

636. There was a gymnasium sacred to Hermes, near the Peiraic gate.—Leake, Topog. of Attica, p. 124.

637. Cf. Xenoph. de Off. Mag. Equit. iii. 14.

638. Aristoph. Nub. 1001.

639. Sch. ad Aristoph. Nub. 1003.

640. Sch. Aristoph. Nub. 992.

641. Pausan. i. 19. 3. Harpocrat. v. Λύκειον, p. 190.

642. Here Aristotle taught (Cic. Acad. Quæst. i. 4.) as he had previously done at Stagira, where the stone seats and covered walls of his school remained in the age of Plutarch.—Alexand. § 7.

643. Suid. v. Ἄρχων. i. p. 452. c.

644. Aristoph. Pac. 355. seq. Suid. v. Λύκειον, t. ii. p. 66. b. Xenoph. de Off. Magist. Equit. iii. 6.

645. Liv. xxxi. 24.

646. Suid. v. Κυνόσαργ. t. i. p. 1550. e.

647. In the gymnasia, the statue of Eros was generally placed beside those of this divinity and Hermes.—Athen. xiii. 12.

648. Plut. Them. § 1.

649. Barthel. Trav. of Anach. ii. p. 133. sqq.

650. Vitruv. v. 11.

651. Plin. xxv. 13.—Even old men performed their exercises naked.—Plat. de Rep. t. vi. p. 221.

652. Casaub. ad Theoph. Char. p. 172.

653. Poll. iii. 149.

654. Suet. Vesp. c. 20. with the note of Torrentius, p. 375.

655. In the Gymnasium of Asclepios at Smyrna, Heracleides the sophist erected an anointing-room, containing a fountain or well of oil, and adorned with a gilded roof.—Philostr. de Vit. Sophist. ii. 26. p. 613.

656. Vitruv. v. 11. Cf. on the Xystoi, Xenoph. Œconom. xi. 15.—Cicero, Acad. iv. 3; ad Att. l. 8. Of this covered walk Aristeas makes mention in a fragment of his Orpheus:—

Ἦν μοὶ παλαίστρα καὶ δρόμος
ξυστὸς πέλας.
Poll. ix. 43.

657. Potter, Book i. chap. 8.

658. Lucian, Amor. § 45. seq.

659. Lucian, Anach. § § 1–3. 28.

660. Accumenes, the friend of Socrates, advised persons to walk on the high-road in preference to the places of exercise, as being less fatiguing and more beneficial.—Plat. Phæd. t. i. p. 3. On the rapidity of public runners see Herod. vi. 106. Cf. on the Pentathlon West, Dissert. on the Olympic Games, p. 77. They appear to have acquired so equable and steady a pace that time was measured by their movements, as distance is by that of caravans in the East. Thus Dioscorides, ii. 96. gives direction that gall should be boiled while a person could run three stadia.

661. Il. ψ. 754. sqq. Cf. Odyss. η. 119.—As an illustration of the necessity there was of going through all the various exercises, it is mentioned by Xenophon that runners had large legs, wrestlers small ones.—Conviv. ii. 17.

662. Poll. iii. 151.

663. Paus. v. 26. 3; 27. 12.

664. Eustath. ad Odyss. θ. 128. Schol. Aristoph. Acharn. 210.

665. Odyss. θ. 128.

666. Odyss. θ. 186. sqq. Cf. Il. ψ. 836. seq.

667. Schol. Hom. Il. β. 774.

668. Schol. Hom. Il. β. 774.

669. Lucian. Hermot. § 33.

670. Tetral. ii. 1. Cf. Plat. de Legg. t. viii. p. 51. sqq. 142.

671. Cf. Sch. Aristoph. Eq. 569.

672. Il. ψ. 708, sqq. et Heyne ad loc.

673. Theoc. Eidyll. xxii. 3. et 80. Mercurial. de Art. Gymnast. ii. 9. Virg. Æn. v. 401. sqq. Paus. viii. 40. 3. Poll. ii. 150. Scalig. Poet. i. 22. p. 92.

674. Il. ψ. 684. sqq.

675. But Galen cautions youth against useless acquisitions, which he says are not arts at all: such as πεττευριπτεῖν, throwing the tali,—walking over a small tight rope,—whirling round without being giddy, like Myrmecides the Athenian and Callicrates the Spartan.—Protrept. § 9. p. 20. Kühn.—He then speaks very slightingly of gymnastic exercises. The studies he recommends are: medicine, rhetoric, music, geometry, arithmetic, dialectics, astronomy, grammar, and jurisprudence, to which may be added, modelling and painting.—§ 14. Cf. Foës. Œcon. Hip. p. 366.

676. Vid. Aristot. de Poet. i. 6. Herm.

677. See Book iv. Chapter 8.

678. Cf. Plat. de Legg. t. viii. p. 97.—The gymnasia in the later ages of Greece were so little frequented, that their area was sown with corn. Dion. Chrysos. i. 223.



Among the sports and pastimes of the Greeks, which may be considered as a kind of supplement to gymnastics, we must class first the chase, which Xenophon vainly hoped might be made to operate as a check on the luxurious and effeminate habits of his contemporaries.[679] But each age having its own distinctive characteristic, it profits very little to aim at engrafting the customs of one period of civilisation upon another. The world will go its own gait. Chuckfarthing and Pricking the Loop might as well be recommended to young gentlemen and ladies dying for love, as hunting to the population of a vain and foppish city, to whom wild boars and wolves must seem certain death. However, the country gentlemen, and the agricultural population generally, long in their own defence continued the practice of the chase, though in Attica the absence of wild animals, consequent upon a high and careful cultivation, had reduced it at a very early period to a matter of mere amusement.

But in remoter times, and in those parts of the country where game always continued to abound, there were never wanting persons who delighted in the excitement of the chase. Herdsmen, particularly, and shepherds, considered it part of their occupation.[680] Thus we find Anchises a young Trojan chief, who 207inhabited the hill country, making his lair of bears and lion-skins, the spoils of his own lance.[681] Sport, of course, it would furnish to bold and reckless young men, as lion and tiger hunting still does to our countrymen in Northern India; but from this recreation proceeded in some measure their safety, since where wild beasts are numerous they not only devastate the country,[682] trampling down the corn-fields and devouring herds and flocks, but occasionally, if they chance to find them unarmed, dine also upon their hunters. Thus the chase of the Calydonian boar, the tally-ho’s and view-halloes of which still sound fresh in song, was undertaken by the Ætolians and Curetes, for the purpose of delivering the rustic population from a pest;[683] and precisely the same motive urged Alcmena’s boy into the famous conflict with the Nemean lion,[684] which he brought down with his invincible bow and finished with his wild olive club. In like manner Theseus, his rival in glory, slew the Marathonian bull; and delivered the Cretans from another monster of the same kind.[685] He engaged, too, with a sow of great size at Crommyon on the confines of Corinthia, and slaughtered the pig, an achievement of much utility and no little glory.

The arms and accoutrements of these primitive sportsmen corresponded with the rough service in which they were engaged. Sometimes, to the attack of the wild bull or the boar, they went forth with formidable battle-axes.[686] But when their game was fleet and innocuous a handful of light javelins and the bow sufficed, as when Odysseus and his companions beat the country in search of wild goats.[687] In the Æneid, too, we find the hero doing great execution among a herd of deer with his bow. Boar-spears also were in use ere the period of the Trojan war, as 208Odysseus, who appears to have been excessively addicted to the chase, is represented going thus armed to the field with the sons of Autolycos when he was wounded by the hog.[688] With the same weapon we find Adrastos engaged in the same sport, killing the son of Crœsos.[689] The chase of the lion, which in Xenophon’s time could no longer be enjoyed in Greece Proper, required the most daring courage and the most formidable weapons, spears, javelins, clubs, and burning torches, with which at last they repelled him at night from the cattle stalls. Homer, as usual, represents the contest to the life:[690]

“He turned to go, as slow retreats the lion from the stalls,
Whom men and dogs assault while round a shower of javelins falls.
They all night watch about their herds, lest he intent on prey
Should bear the flower of all their fields, the fattest bull away.
Onward impetuously he bounds—the hissing javelins fly
From daring hands, while torches send their blaze far up the sky.
He dreads, though fierce, the dazzling flames thick flashing on his sight,
And hungry still and breathing rage, retires with morning’s light.”

The existence of wild beasts in a country has by some been enumerated among the causes of civilisation, and it may, under certain circumstances, deserve to be so considered, though generally such modes of accounting for things are exceedingly unphilosophical. Mitford, who advances it,[691] needed but to cast a glance across the Mediterranean to dissipate his whole theory, since nowhere are there more wild beasts or men less civilised than in Africa. Egypt, Chaldæa, Assyria, the earliest peopled countries, enjoyed few of these helps to refinement. The reasons of Greek civilisation lay neither in their country or in the accidents of it, but in the race itself, which, as one family in a nation is distinguished from its neighbours by superior genius, was thus distinguished from other races of men. However, the lion, as we have seen, formerly existed among 209them, though never probably in great numbers, and even in the age of Herodotus was still found in a wild tract of country extending from the Acheloös in Acarnania to the Nestos in Thrace,[692] where in fabulous times Olynthos, son of Strymon,[693] is said to have been slain in a lion hunt. In the age of Dion Chrysostom, however, this fierce animal was no longer known in Europe.[694]

Dogs, all the world over and from the remotest times, have been man’s companions in the chase, and Homer, the noblest painter of the ancient world, has bequeathed us many sketches of the antique hunting breed. It has above been seen that in company with man they feared not to attack even the lion. Odysseus’ famous dog Argos was a hound that

“Never missed in deepest woods the swift game to pursue
If once it glanced before his sight, for every track he knew.[695]

And again when the same sagacious Nimrod makes his rounds in quest of “belly timber,” a brace of dogs runs before him “examining the traces,” while with boar-spear in hand he follows close at their heels.[696] But already, even in those days, the habit of keeping more cats than catch mice had got into fashion—that is among the great—since we find grandees with their κύνες τραπεζῆες or “table dogs,”[697] valued simply for their beauty. Patroclus maintained nine of these handsome animals, and Achilles understanding his tastes, cast two of them into the flames of his funeral pile, that their shades might sit at his board in the realms below.[698]

Fowling too, if we may depend upon Athenæus,[699] entered into the list of heroic amusements. It is clear, however, that the sportsmen of those days were arrant poachers, for, not content with attacking their 210prey in open fight, they condescended to spread nets for them and set gins for their feet. But being accomplished bowmen, however, they could occasionally, when pressed for provisions, fetch down a thrush, a pigeon, or a dove with an arrow, dexterously as that Jew in Eusebius[700] who exhibited his marksmanship to demonstrate the fallacy of augury. For in the funeral games of Patroclus, we find one of the heroes hitting from a considerable distance a dove which had been tied by a small cord to the summit of a mast.[701]

They were given moreover not only to fishing with nets—a practice in nowise unbecoming a hero when in want of a dinner—but even to angling with “crooked O’Shaughnessies,”[702] as Homer expresses it; though the passage in the Iliad, indeed, where a net is mentioned, cannot well be adduced in corroboration, since it may refer to fowling as well as to fishing.[703] Certain verses in the Odyssey, however, prove beyond a doubt that the Greeks had already begun to derive a great part of their sustenance from the sea;[704] and the Homeric heroes even understood the value of oysters, which, as appears from the Iliad, were procured by diving.[705]

Nevertheless these ancient heroes, though by no means averse as we have seen to pigeons or oysters, delighted chiefly in the chase of the larger animals, in which article of taste they agreed with Plato, who considered all other kinds as unworthy of men. He appears to have entertained an especial aversion for the Isaac Waltons of the ancient world, and in 211his advice to youth earnestly exhorts them to eschew hooks and fish-traps, which he slily classes with piracy and house-breaking: and so he does fowling. Nor would his generous philosophy countenance poaching with nets and gins and snares. His sportsmen, modelled after the old Homeric type, were to mount their chargers,[706] and accompanied by their dogs come to close quarters with their wild foes in open daylight, and subdue them by dint of personal courage.[707] Precisely similar views prevailed in the heroic age, when the chiefs and principal men were exercised from boyhood in the chase, as appears from the examples of Achilles and Odysseus;[708] of whom the former, according to Pindar, tried his hand at a lion at the age of six years, ἐξέτης τοπρῶτον. Being swift of foot as those Arabs of Northern Africa, who, as Leo[709] says, are a match for any horse, he used without the aid of dogs to overtake and bring down deer with his javelin, and whatever prey he took he carried to his old master Cheiron. This passage Mr. Cary has translated in the following vigorous and elegant manner:—

“In Philyra’s house a flaxen boy
Achilles oft in rapturous joy
His feats of strength essayed.
Aloof like wind his little javelin flew,
The lion and the brinded boar he slew;
Then homeward to old Cheiron drew
Their panting carcases.
This when six years had fled;
And all the after time
Of his rejoicing prime
It was to Dian and the blue-eyed Maid
A wonder how he brought to ground
The stag without or toils or hound.
So fleet of foot was he.”

212Similar manners, if we may confide in Virgil,[710] prevailed among the old inhabitants of Latium, and Xenophon[711] in his monarchical Utopia trains the youth in the same habits.

On hunting,[712] as practised in the civilised ages of Greece, we possess more ample details, and it is chiefly by the minuter touches that a picture of this kind can be invested with interest and utility. Xenophon, an aristocratic country gentleman, who living in a corrupt age was, as I have said, wisely partial to the nobler manners of the past, considers the chase as a branch of education.[713] He does not, however, entertain upon this subject the heroic views of Plato, but, looking solely to utility, not only describes the physical conditions and mental qualities of the hunter, but the nets, poles, arms, and every implement made use of by the ancients in the chase.

Not to interfere with the discipline of the schools and the gymnasia, the youths were exhorted to betake themselves to field-sports about the age of twenty. Their notions of a sportsman’s costume differed materially from our own, for instead of decking themselves like our fox-hunters in scarlet, they selected the soberest and least brilliant colours both for their cloaks and chitons. The latter were in general extremely short, reaching merely to the hams, as Artemis is usually represented in works of art. But the chlamys was long and ample, that it might be twisted round the left arm in close contest with the larger animals. Their hunting boots reached to the knee, and were bound tight round the leg with thongs. Probably also, as in travelling, they covered their heads with a broad-brimmed hat.

The apparatus of a Greek sportsman would appear somewhat cumbersome, and perhaps a little ludicrous 213to a modern Nimrod. But understanding their own object they went their own way to work; their arms and implements, varying with the chase in which they were engaged, consisted of short swords, hunting knives[714] for the purpose of cutting down brushwood to stop up openings in the forest, axes for felling trees, darts furnished with thongs for drawing them back when they had missed their aim, bows, boar-spears, weapons peculiarly formidable, nets small and large, some for setting up in the plains, some for traversing glades or narrow alleys in the woods, and others shaped like a female head-net, to be placed in small dusky openings, where being unperceived the game sprang into them as into a sack, which closed about it by means of a running cord, net-poles, forked stakes, snares, gins, nooses, and leashes for the dogs.[715] The darts used on these occasions had ashen or beechen handles, and the nets were usually manufactured with flax imported from Colchis on the Phasis, Egypt, Carthage, and Sardinia.[716] Generally, too, they took along with them the Lagobalon, a short, crooked stick with a knob at one end, with which they sometimes brought down the hare in its flight.[717] This practice, common enough among poachers in our country, is by them denominated squailing.

Without the aid of dogs, however, hunting is a poor sport. The ancients, therefore, much addicted to this branch of education, paid great attention to the breed of these animals, of which some were sought to be rendered celebrated by heroic and fabulous associations. Thus the Castorides, it was said, sprang[718] from a breed to which the twin god of Sparta was partial; 214the Alopecidæ were a cross between a dog and a she-fox; and a third kind[719] arose from the mingling of these two races. Among modern sportsmen, there are also good authorities who prefer harriers with a quarter of the fox-strain.[720] Other kinds of hounds, as the Menelaides and Harmodian derived their appellation from the persons who reared them.[721]

But the whole breeds of certain countries[722] were famous, as the Argive, the Locrian, the Arcadian, the Spanish, the Carian, the Eretrian; the Celtic or greyhound (not known[723] in more ancient times); the Psyllian, so called from a city of Achaia; the dog of Elymæa, a country lying between Bactria and Hyrcania; the Hyrcanian, which was a cross with the lion; the Laconian, of which the bitch was more generous,[724] sometimes crossed with the Cretan, which was itself renowned for its nose, strength and courage,[725] those which kept watch in the temple of Artemis Dictynna having been reckoned a match even for bears; the Molossian, less valued for the chase than as a shepherd’s dog, on account of its great fierceness and power to contend with wild beasts;[726] the Cyrenaic, a cross with the wolf, and lastly the Indian, on which the chief reliance was placed in the chase of the wild boar. This breed, according to Aristotle, was produced by crossing with the tiger, probably the Cheeta.[727] The first and second removes were considered too fierce and unmanageable, and 215it was not until the third generation that these tiger-mules could be broken in to the use of the sportsman. Some sought in mythology the origin of this noble animal; for, according to Nicander, the hounds of Actæon, recovering their senses after the destruction of their master, fled across the Euphrates and wandered as far as India. Strange stories are related of this breed, of which some it is said would contend with no animal but the lion. Alexander’s dog, which he purchased in India for a hundred minæ, had twice overcome and slain the monarch of the forest.[728]

Let us, therefore, now imagine the hounds exactly what they ought to be, and observe under what circumstances they were led afield. As in England, their principal sport was the hare. In winter,[729] it was observed that puss, from the length of the nights, took a wider circuit, and therefore afforded the dogs a better chance of detecting her traces.[730] But when in the morning the ground was covered with ice or white with hoar-frost, the dogs lost their scent, as also amidst abundant dews or after heavy rains. The sportsman accordingly waited till the sun was some way up the sky, and had begun to quicken the subtile odours communicated to the earth.[731] The west wind,[732] which covers the heavens with vast clouds and fills the air with moisture, and the south blowing warm and humid, weaken the scent; but the north wind fixes and preserves 216it.[733] By moonlight, too, as the old sportsmen remark, and the warmth it emits, the scent is affected; besides that when the moon shines brightly, in their frolicsome and sportive mood the hares, in the secluded glades of the forest, take long leaps and bounds over the green sward, leaving wide intervals between their traces.[734]

From a remark of Xenophon it appears that at least on one point the sportsmen of antiquity were less humane than the modern, since they pursued the chase even in breeding time.[735] They, however, spared the young in honour of Artemis;[736] the spirit even of false religion, on this, as on many other occasions, strengthening the impulses of humanity.

Several causes coöperated to render hares unplentiful on the Hellenic continent,—the number of sportsmen, of foxes which devoured both them and their young, and of eagles that delighted in its lofty and almost inaccessible mountains, and shared its game with the huntsman and the fox. Homer, in a few picturesque words, describes the war carried on against puss by this destructive bird.[737] On the islands, whether inhabited or not, few of these obstacles to their increase existed. Sportsmen rarely passed over to them, and in such as were sacred to any of the gods the introduction of dogs was not permitted, so that, like the pigeons and turtle-doves of Mekka, they multiplied in those holy haunts prodigiously.

It was prohibited by the laws of Attica[738] to commit the slightest trespass during the chase. The sportsman was not allowed to traverse any ground under cultivation, to disturb the course of running water, or 217to invade the sanctity of fountains. The scene of action accordingly lay among the woods and mountains, the common property of the republic, or, if not, abandoned by general consent to the use of the sportsman. Such were, for example, the woodland districts of Parnes and Cithæron on the borders of Bœotia. Towards these the huntsman, well shod, plainly and lightly dressed,[739] and with a stick in his hand, set out about sunrise in winter, in summer before day.[740] On the road strict silence was observed[741] lest the hare should take the alarm and to her heels. Having reached the cover, the dogs were tied separately that they might be let slip the more easily, the nets were spread in the proper places, the net-guards set, and the huntsman with his dogs proceeded to start the game, first piously making a votive offering of the primitiæ to Apollo and Artemis,[742] divinities of the chase.[743]

And now, exclaims the leader of the Ten Thousand, I behold the hounds, joyous and full of fire, spring forward in the track of their game. Eagerly and ardently do they pursue it—they traverse—they run 218about in a circle—they advance now in a straight line, now bounding away obliquely—they plunge into the thickets, across the glades, through the paths, known or unknown, hurrying one before the other, shaking their tails, their ears hanging low,[744] their eyes flashing with fire. Drawing near the game they indicate the fact to their master by their movements, kindling up into a warlike humour, bounding emulously forward, scorning all thought of fatigue,—now in a body, now singly,—till reaching the hiding-place[745] of the hare they spring towards it all at once. In the midst of shouts and barking the swift animal glances from her form with the hounds at her heels. The huntsman, his left hand wrapped in his chlamys, follows staff in hand, animating his dogs, but avoiding, even if in his power, to head the game.[746]

A singular species of chase, now common in our own rabbit-warrens, appears to have passed over from Africa to the Balearic Isles, in an ancient account of which the first mention of it occurs. Those islands, it is said, were almost entirely exempted from vermin, but, on the other hand, contained prodigious numbers of rabbits, which almost destroyed every herb and plant by biting their roots. At length, however, they discovered a remedy for this evil. They imported ferrets from Africa, which, having first muzzled them, they let loose in the rabbit-warrens. Creeping into the holes they scared forth the inmates, which were caught by the sportsman. Strabo, who relates the circumstance, calls the ferret a “wild cat.” Pliny, having likewise described the devastations of the rabbits, speaks of it under the name of viverra, and says it was held in great estimation for its utility in this chase, which in the seventeenth century was practised in the island of Procida, where they procured the animal from Sicily, and denominated it Foretta, 219whence the English name. The common Italian appellation was donnola.[747]

It is clear, however, that in classic times the ferret was unknown in Greece, otherwise we should never have heard of the proverb of the Carpathian and his Hare[748] applied to persons who brought evil upon themselves. Originally, we are told, the Island of Carpathos[749] was, like Ithaca, entirely destitute of hares; but a pair having been at length introduced, multiplied so prodigiously that they almost depopulated the island by devouring the fruits of the earth. A similar fact is related of the island Porto Santo, near Madeira, for Prince Henry of Portugal, immediately after its discovery, “sent Bartholomew Perestrello with seeds to sow and cattle to stock the place; but one couple of rabbits put in among the rest increased so prodigiously that all corn and plants being destroyed by them it was found necessary to unpeople the place.”[750]

A peculiar kind of hare is commemorated by the ancients as found in Elymœa. It is said to have been little inferior in size to the fox, to have been elongated and slender in shape, and blackish in colour, with a long white tip at the end of the tail. It is remarked by the same writer that the scent left by leverets on the ground is stronger and more pungent than that of the grown hare, so that the dogs become furious on getting wind of it.[751]

From the chase of the hare and rabbit we pass on to that of the fawn and the stag, in which they made use of Indian dogs,[752] animals of great strength, size, speed, and courage. Fawns[753] were hunted in spring, 220the season of their birth. The first step was for the sportsman to beat up the woods to discover where the deer were numerous; and having found a proper place he returned thither before day, armed with javelins, and accompanied by a game-keeper with a pack of hounds. The dogs were kept in leash afar off, lest they should give tongue at the sight of the deer. He himself took his station on the look-out. At break of day[754] the does, with their yellowish and richly-speckled skins, were seen issuing from the thickets, followed by their still more delicately-spotted fawns, which they led to the places[755] where they usually suckled them, while the stags stationed themselves at a distance, as an advanced guard, to defend them from all intruders. The graceful creatures then lay down to perform their matronly office, looking round watchfully the while to observe whether they were discovered. This pleasing task completed, they, like the stags, posted themselves in a circle about their fawns to protect them. Sportsmen have no sentiment. At the very moment when this most beautiful exhibition of mute affection would have warmed with sympathy the heart of the philosopher or the poet, the dogs were let loose, while their master and his companions, armed with javelins, closed upon the game. The fawn itself, unless chilled and drenched by the dew—in which case it frisked about—would remain still in its place and be taken. But on hearing its cries the doe rushed forward to deliver it, and was smitten down by the javelins or torn to pieces by the dogs. The chase of the female elephant in Africa exhibits the same traits of affection in the brute and ferocity in man. In this case the young will fight for his mother, or the mother for her young till death.

221When the fawn had attained any considerable size, and begun to feed among the herd, the chase of it became more arduous. The fidelity of instinctive love, opposed to human sagacity, exhibited all its force. Closing round their young and drawing up in front of them, the stags, emboldened by affection, trampled the dogs under their feet, frequently to death, unless the huntsman, dashing into the midst of them, could succeed in detaching a single animal from the herd. But, supposing this done, the hounds at first remained far behind the fawn, which, terrified at finding itself alone, bounded along with incredible velocity, though, its strength soon failing, it in the end fell a prey to the hunter.

The object of the ancients, however, in the chase not being simple sport, but to obtain possession by the shortest method possible of the game, they set snares in the narrows of the mountains, around the meadows, near the streams and freshes, and in the thickets—wherever, in short, stags could be taken. Pitfalls, too, were dug, as in Africa for the lion,[756] and most of those stratagems resorted to which the Nubians and Egyptian Arabs put in practice against the gazelle. It was in fact common to erect, with rough stones or wood, a sort of skreen, perhaps semicircular, like those behind which the hunters of the desert hide, to conceal themselves when lying in wait for the game.[757]

For the chase of the wild boar,[758] at once a manly and a useful sport, somewhat complicated preparations were necessary. In this the dogs of India, of Crete, of Locris, of Sparta, hunted side by side, and the sportsman took the field armed with strong nets, javelins, hunting poles, and snares. The boar-spears 222of the ancients[759] were most carefully fashioned, with a broad sharp head and handle of tough wood. So likewise were their hunting-poles armed with long iron points, fixed in brazen sockets, with a shaft of service wood. Footsnares of great strength were set at intervals. This was not the sport of a solitary hunter. They went out in considerable numbers, and kept close together, finding still, for lack of fire-arms, no small difficulty in coping with the foe. On reaching the spot where they supposed the hog to be ensconced, the dogs were all led carefully in leash with the exception of one Spartan hound, which was let loose and accompanied in all his movements. When he appeared to have found the track, they followed him, and he thus took the lead in the chase. Numerous signs also directed the movements of the hunter; in soft places the track, broken branches in thickets, and in forests the wounds on the bark of trees, given by the boar in sharpening his tusks as he passed.[760]

Generally the traces were found leading to some sheltered nook, warm in winter, in summer cool, where the boar made his lair. On discovering him the dog gave tongue, but the animal in general refused to rise. The hound was then withdrawn and put in leash with the others, and every opening, save one, leading to the place, closed with nets, the upper ends of which were passed over the forks of trees. The nets were hung so as to belly outwards, and carefully disposed so that they could be seen through. Bushes cut hastily supported them on either side, and closed every aperture through which the game could attempt to force a way. This done the hounds were all slipped, and the hunters, armed with pikes and spears, entered the netted 223enclosure. One of the boldest and most experienced led the dogs; the others followed at intervals, leaving an ample space between them for the boar, which if closely hemmed in might have inflicted on his opponents the fate of Adonis. Presently the hounds sprang all at once upon the game, which rising in sudden alarm tossed the first it encountered into the air, and breaking through the pack made away towards the nets, followed by men and dogs in full cry. On finding the unaccustomed opposition, he would, if running down hill, plunge right forward to force his way through; if in a plain he would stand still, glaring fiercely around.

The dogs, however, soon closed upon his track, while the hunters galled him with javelins and stones, approaching closer and closer till he was driven by his own impetuosity into the nets. Upon this the most daring of his pursuers drew near, pike in hand, and sought to put an end to the contest by piercing him in the head. Sometimes, notwithstanding all they could do, instead of plunging into the toils he would turn upon them; in which case some dexterous sportsman, armed with spear or pike, usually presented himself to receive his charge with one foot advanced, impelling the weapon with the right hand, directing it with the left. Instead, however, of rushing on at once the hog would perhaps pause a moment to reconnoitre, when it behoved his antagonist carefully to mark every movement of his head or glance of his eye.[761] For in the very moment that a blow was aimed at him, he would sometimes dash the spear aside with tusk or snout, and the next moment be upon his enemy, whose only chance of safety now consisted in throwing himself instantaneously on his face, and holding fast by whatever he could grasp, since, the tusks of the boar curving upwards, he found it difficult to gore his enemy thus lying, and failing to turn him over would in his fury trample on him. A second 224hunter now rushed forward to deliver his companion, and usually drew off the hog by dexterous attacks in flank. The fallen sportsman, recovering at the same time his feet and his spear, must by the laws of the chase return to the combat, and could only secure his reputation by immolating his foe. By this time, indeed, the task had generally become easier; for, rendered reckless by fury, he would throw himself impetuously on their pikes, which, but for the protecting guards at the head, would have gone through him handle and all. His whole frame now appeared to be kindled with rage, his blood boiling, his eyes flashing, and his tusks so nearly on fire that if brought in contact with hair at the moment of death, they would frizzle it like a red-hot iron.[762]

Of the hunting of the bear[763] the ancients have left us no exact description. As this animal abounded, however, in most parts of Greece, where it was extremely troublesome and destructive, particularly to the fruit-trees, various expedients were hit upon for taking and destroying it. Sometimes it was pursued as game and brought down by the bow; but the common method appears to have been to make use of traps and snares. They dug, for example, a deep trench round one of those trees in the fruit of which the bear particularly delighted, and covering it with 225reeds or brittle branches, they sprinkled thereon a thin layer of earth, and concealed the whole apparatus with fresh grass. The bear, proceeding as usual towards the tree on his thievish errand, broke in the roof of the pit with his weight, and was caught. Even in the most civilised times this animal had not been wholly extirpated from Attica,[764] but, as well as the boar, was found on Mount Parnes. In Laconia also, through the whole range of Taygetos, it abounded, together with hogs, deer, and wild goats. Bruin was sacrificed in Achaia to Artemis Laphria. In Thrace the white bear was found.[765]

Respecting the habits of the Grecian bear the ancients have left us some few facts which may be worth repeating. When it comes forth from the den,[766] where it has passed the winter, it is said to chew bits of wood, and to feed on snake-weed, wake-robin, or cuckoo-pint (arum maculatum[767]), which has a purgative power. These operations performed, its ravenous appetites immediately awake, and it commences its devastations in the farm-yard, the orchard and the apiary. Delighting greatly in honey it attacks and overthrows the hives which it tears to pieces in order to devour the combs, though Pliny[768] adduces another reason for this fact, exceedingly characteristic of that writer. He says that the bear, after his winter sleep, finding his eyes dim and his head heavy, applies to the bees as to skilful oculists, that in revenge for robbing them of their honey, sting him angrily about the face, which by letting much blood relieves him at once from his ophthalmia and his headache. The bear, it is well known, 226is omnivorous like man. He accordingly plunders the bean-fields, and feeds on every kind of pulse. In robbing orchards,[769] too, his courage and ability are great, being as I have said as complete an adept as a school-boy in climbing trees, out of which when he has satisfied himself he descends, like the aforesaid mischievous beast, feet foremost. When none of the delicacies above enumerated was within his reach, the bear would feed on ants, crabs, or any kind of vermin, but preferred of course the flesh of the larger animals, such as the stag, the wild boar, and the bull. His mode of taking his prey was curious. Upon the boar and stag he probably dropped from his hiding place in the trees, but the stratagem by which he usually got the bull into his power was this.[770] Throwing himself on the ground directly in his way he provoked the lord of the herd to gore him, upon which, seizing his horns, and fastening ravenously upon his shoulder, he brought him to the ground, where he fed upon his carcass at leisure. When flying from the more terrible face of man, the female usually drove her young before her, or taking them up in her mouth or on her back, she would endeavour to escape with them into the trees.[771]

As the lion was not found in Greece in the civilised periods of its history, the chase of it cannot be said to have formed an Hellenic amusement.[772] They might, however, by proceeding a little beyond the borders in their colonies of Thrace and Asia Minor, on Mount Pangæos, on the Mysian Olympos, and in Syria, enjoy this dangerous pastime if they desired it. In all those countries, however, both the lion,[773] the panther, the pard, the lynx, and other 227animals of this destructive class had been confined to the mountains, where, as an acute and experienced observer has remarked, they lose much of their force and ferocity. The expression made use of by Xenophon proves in fact that the dread of man had driven them almost into inaccessible fastnesses, whither they could not be pursued by the hunter, so that they were chiefly taken in their descent to the lowlands by poisoning, with aconite,[774] the waters or the baits which they set for them: sometimes, indeed, when want compelled them into the plains, parties of hunters on horseback, and armed to the teeth, would assault and destroy them, not without imminent peril. Pitfalls, too, of ingenious construction were dug for them, having an earthen pillar in the centre on which a goat was tied.[775] The encircling moat, like that above described, destined for the bear, was concealed by a covering of slender bushes which, breaking under them, they were precipitated to the bottom and there killed. The wolf, though a sacred animal[776] in Attica, had by the laws a price set upon his head, at which Menage[777] wonders, though the Egyptians also slaughtered their sacred crocodiles, when they exceeded a certain size.

In the chase of the wild goat the bow, among the mountains of Crete, was made use of, and so skilful as marksmen were the Cretans[778] that from the depths of the valleys they would bring down 228their game from the pinnacles of the loftiest cliffs.[779] They were fabled to have been taught the art of hunting by the Curetes, and, practising it constantly in steep and difficult places, they acquired great suppleness and agility of body, and were exceedingly swift of foot.[780]

The Macedonians, too, were both practised and enthusiastic sportsmen, and delighted in the amusement even whilst engaged in their most toilsome expeditions. Thus during the campaigns of Alexander in Asia, we find the generals Leonatos and Menelaos or Philotas[781] carrying about among their baggage, linen skreens, ten or twelve miles in length, which during their halts they caused to be stretched round a given district, where they hunted as in a park. An anecdote is related strikingly illustrating the high estimation in which the chase was held at the court and among the nobles of Macedonia, where it was customary for the son to sit upright on a chair at his father’s table and not to recline among the guests until he had slain a wild boar out of the toils. Cassander, son of Antipater, continued, it is said,[782] up to his thirty-fifth year bolt upright at the regal board, because, though a brave man and a skilful hunter, fortune had constantly denied him the pleasure of despatching the hog after the prescribed fashion.

There is one department of the chase, and that perhaps the most curious and interesting, which was not practised by the Greeks of classical times, though it cannot be said to have been unknown to them; I mean falconry, described by several ancient writers 229as it was pursued in India and in Thrace. If I give a short description of it, therefore, it must be regarded as a digression introduced for the purpose of completing, as far as possible, the circle of ancient amusements. Ctesias,[783] who was contemporary with Socrates, and published his Indian history four hundred years before Christ, seems to be the oldest writer by whom falconry is mentioned. He tells us that among the Hindùs hares and foxes were hunted with kites, ravens, and eagles, and minutely describes the way in which the birds were broken in. Having been caught while young, they were first taught to fly at tame hares and foxes in the following manner. The animals with pieces of flesh tied to them were started in sight of the falcons, which were immediately let loose and sent in pursuit. When they caught and brought back the game the flesh was given them as their reward, and by this bait and allurement they were encouraged to persevere. When sufficiently trained, they were taken to the mountains and flown against wild hares and foxes. The passion for falconry is still kept alive in the East, particularly in Persia, where the shâh-baz, or royal falcon, is flown against hares and antelopes, occasionally invested with leathers, which protect him from being torn asunder.[784] But the most daring and dangerous service in which falcons have ever been employed is the chase of the wild horse by the Turcomâns of Khiva on the eastern shores of the Caspian.[785] A more detailed description of ancient falconry than that given by Ctesias is found in a work attributed to Aristotle.[786] It is said, observes this writer, that the youth of Thrace, who were addicted to hunting, pursued their game by the assistance of hawks. On arriving upon 230the ground, the falcon, which had evidently been trained for the purpose, obeyed the calls of the sportsmen and chased the birds into the thickets, where they were knocked down with hunting-poles and taken. Even when the falcons themselves captured the game, they brought it to the hunters, who as in modern times gave them, as a reward, some portion of the animal.

In their fowling they made use of great cruelty:—Pigeons and turtle-doves were commonly blinded, to be used as decoys, and in this condition would sometimes live eight years.[787] Partridges were employed for the same purpose in a different manner. The male bird having been tamed was put out in the neighbourhood of a covey, upon which the boldest of the wild birds came forward to fight him, and was secured with the net. The challenge was usually accepted by every male bird in the covey until one after another they were all taken. When the female was employed she drew them successively to the nets by her call.[788] The first that is deluded is generally the principal cock in the covey, which the others collecting together seek to drive away. To elude their pursuit the leader sometimes drew near the decoy in silence, that he might not have to contend with the other males. Not unfrequently they would descend and allow themselves at such times to be caught on the roofs of the houses.[789]

The Greeks established at Alexandria had, according to Athenæus, who was a native of Egypt, a kind of chase peculiar to themselves, viz. that of the horned owl. The sophist of Naucratis has indeed been suspected of confounding the ὠτὸς with the ὠτὶς, 231that is, the owl with the bustard;[790] but it having been in his power to examine what he relates, I shall lay his account before the reader, who will judge for himself. This bird, it is said, is found in great numbers in the desert near Alexandria, (though I myself saw none there,) and is as much given to mimicry as a monkey. Above all things he is ambitious of imitating man, and, as far as possible, will do whatever he sees done by the fowler. Aware of his propensity in this way, these gentlemen, when desirous of taking an owl, carried along with them into the desert a thick tenacious glue, with which on coming within eyeshot of the Otos they affected to anoint their eyes. Then laying down the glue-pot on the sand they retreated to some hollow for concealment. Upon this the owl having watchfully observed their movements, approached, and covering his eyes with the treacherous ointment was blinded and taken.

Another mode of catching this bird also prevailed. It having been discovered that he was as partial as the Bedouin Arab to the company of a horse, the fowlers covered themselves with horses’ skins, and in this disguise approaching the flock were enabled to catch as many as they pleased. A third method of taking the Otos was one which exposed the unfortunate bird to the ridicule of the comic poets. The fowlers setting out upon the chase in pairs, separated at coming in sight of the game. One of the two then stepped out in front of the game and commenced a jig, upon which the thoughtless mimic immediately did the same, beating exact time with his feet, and keeping his eye fixed upon his wily teacher. While the merry victim was thus engaged, capering, springing, and pirouetting like a feathered Taglioni, the other bird-catcher approached from behind and seized him by the neck.

The same story is related by other writers of the 232Scops or mocking-owl, in imitation of whose movements, the ancients had a celebrated dance.[791]

Quails in certain seasons of the year frequent Greece in vast numbers, as they do Egypt and Southern Italy.[792] It has been supposed that the island of Delos received the name of Ortygia from the quails (ὄρτυγες), which alighted on it in great numbers during their migration towards the north. They were likewise plentiful in Phœnicia,[793] where they sacrificed them to Heracles. Numerous contrivances were resorted to for catching this bird. During pairing time it was taken as follows: mirrors were set up in the fields with snares in front of them, and the quail running towards the imaginary bird was there entrapped. Clearchos of Soli describes a curious mode of capturing jackdaws. In places frequented by those birds they used, he says, to lay broad vessels filled to the brim with oil. Presently the jackdaws, curious and prying in their temper, would alight on the edges, and, being vastly pleased with the reflection of their own beauty, would chuckle over it and clap their wings, till becoming saturated with oil the feathers stuck together and they could no longer fly.

679. In the early ages of the world, hunting we are assured led to the establishment of monarchy by accustoming youth whose brains were in their sinews to pay implicit obedience to their leaders in the chase.—Bochart, Geog. Sac. t. i. p. 258.

680. Iliad, λ. 547.

681. Hom. Hymn in Vener. 160. seq.

682. Paus. i. 27. 9.

683. Iliad, ι. 547. sqq.

684. Theocrit. xxv. 211. sqq.

685. Paus. i. 27. 9. sqq.

686. Iliad, ρ. 520. seq. Feith. Antiq. Hom. iv. c. 2. § 2.

687. Odyss. ι. 155. seq.

688. Odyss. ι. 465. seq.

689. Herod. i. 43.

690. Il. ρ. 657. Cf. Aristot. Hist. Anim. ix. 31. Oppian Cyneget. iv. 131. sqq.

691. Hist. of Greece, i. 16.

692. Herod. vii. 125. seq.

693. Conon, Dieg. iv. ap. Phot. 131. Rüdig. Prolegg. ad Dem. Olynth. p. 3.

694. Orat. 21. t. i. p. 501. Reiske.

695. Odyss. ρ. 316. seq.

696. Id. τ. 436. seq.

697. Id. ρ. 310.

698. Iliad ψ. 173. seq.

699. Deipnosoph. i. 22. et 24.

700. Præp. Evang. l. ix. c. 4. p. 408. d.

701. Iliad, ψ. 853. sqq.

702. Γναμπτοῖς ἀγκιστροίσιν. Odyss. μ. 331. seq. Ludovic. Nonn. de Re Cibar. iii. 4. p. 294. Plut. de Solert. Anim. § 24. Cf. Antich. di Ercol. t. i. tav. 36. p. 191. From an expression of Augustus, if we can regard it as anything more than a figure of speech, it may be inferred that to increase the luxury of the sport by converting it into a species of gambling, people sometimes fished with golden hooks.—Polyæn. Strat. viii. 24. 6.

703. Iliad, γ. 487. seq. Eustath. ad Odyss. χ. 386.

704. Odyss. χ. 386.

705. Iliad, π. 747. sqq.

706. Cf. Poll. Onom. v. 17.

707. De Legg. vii. t. viii. p. 71. seq.—In his Republic boys were to be permitted when they could do so with safety to proceed to the field of battle, and there to approach sufficiently near the scene as to be able like young hounds to taste, so to speak, of blood.—t. vi. p. 367.

708. Pind. Nem. iii. 43. seq. Diss. Odyss. τ. 429. seq.

709. Descrip. Afric.

710. Æneid, ix. 605.

711. Cyneg. ii. 1.

712. To form a proper idea of the sporting vocabulary of the Greeks, the reader should consult Julius Pollux, Onomasticon, v. 9.-94.

713. Cyneg. ii. 1.

714. Poll. v. 19.

715. Cf. Grat. Falisc. Cyneg. p. 14. Wase.

716. Xen. Cyneg. ii. 3. Grat. Falisc. Cyneg. p. 6. Wase. Pollux, v. 26.

717. Spanh. Obs. in Callim. Hymn. in Dian. ii. p. 122. Poll. v. 20.—Hares are hunted with sticks in South Guinea by the blacks.—Barbot. iii. 14.

718. Poll. v. 39. Xen. Cyneg. iii. 1.

719. Arist. Hist. Anim. viii. 28. Poll. v. 39.

720. Letters on Hunting, p. 60.

721. Poll. v. 40.

722. Arist. de Gen. Anim. v. 2. p. 344. Virg. Georg. iii. 405. See the enumeration by Gratius, Cyneg. p. 20. seq.

723. Arrian, de Venat. c. 2.

724. Arist. Hist. Anim. ix. 1. Soph. Ajax, 8. Virg. Georg. iii. 405. Λάκαιναι σκύλακες, Plat. Parmen. t. ii. p. 7. had long noses. Arist. de Gen. Anim. v. 2. 344.

725. Æl. De Nat. Anim. iii. 2. Pashley, Travels in Crete, i. 33. Hughes, Travels, &c. i. 489, 501.

726. Arist. Hist. Anim. ix. i.

727. Arist. Hist. Anim. viii. 28, with the observations of Camus, t. ii. p. 215. Cf. Scalig. de Subtilitat. x. p. 383. Æl. de Nat. Anim. viii. i.

728. Æl. De Nat. Anim. viii. 1. Poll. Onom. v. 42. seq.

729. See on the subject of scent, Sport. Mag. Jan. 1840, and compare Essay on Hunting, p. 1. et seq.

730. Cf. Poll. v. 11. Σύμβολα ἐν τετυπωμένα τῇ γῇ.

731. The phrase in Pollux is ἀποφέρεται ἀπ᾽ αὔτων (τῶν ἰχνῶν) τὸ πνεῦμα. v. 12. The author of the Essay on Hunting (p. 15.) enumerating the several kinds of scent, speaks of them as stronger, sweeter, or more distinguishable at one time than another; and Pollux makes use of much the same language: ἄνοσμα, δύσοσμα, εὔοσμα, κ. τ. λ. l. c.

732. Arist. Prob. xxvi. 23—Falling stars were regarded as a prognostic of high winds, 24. Letters on Hunting, p. 106.

733. Cf. Xen. Cyneg. viii. 1.

734. Xen. Cyneg. v. 4. Poll. v. 67.

735. See also Spanh. Obs. in Callim. t. ii. p. 123.

736. Xen. Cyneg. v. 14. Klaus. Com. in Agam. p. 114.—Leverets, properly λαγίδια, were often in common with the young of all other wild animals denominated ὀμβρίαι and ὀμβρίκια by the poets.—Poll. v. 15.

737. Il. χ. 308. sqq.

738. Xen. Cyneg. v. 34.

739. Poll. v. 17.

740. The pleasure experienced on these occasions is thus enthusiastically described by Christopher Wase:—"What innocent and natural delights are they, when he seeth the day breaking forth, those blushes and roses which poets and writers of romances only paint, but the huntsman truly courts! When he heareth the chirping of small birds perched upon their dewy boughs, when he draws in that fragrancy of the pastures and coolness of the air! How jolly is his spirit when he suffers it to be imported with the noise of bugle-horns and the baying of hounds which leap up and play around him!"—Pref. to Tr. of Gratius, p. 3.

741. See, in the Cyropædia, i. 6. 40, an extremely interesting passage on the chase of the hare.—Cf. Oppian. de Venat. iv. 422.

742. Hence the goddess obtained many of the epithets bestowed on her by the poets, as: ἀγροτέρα, καὶ κυνηγέτις, καὶ φιλόθηρος, καὶ ὀρεία, ἀπὸ τῶν ὀρῶν· καὶ Ἰδαία, ἀπὸ τῆς Ἴδης, καὶ δίκτυνα, ἀπὸ τῶν δικτύων· καὶ ἑκηβόλος, ἀπὸ τοῦ ἑκὰς τὰ θνρία βάλλειν· καὶ πολλὰ ἄλλα ὀνόματα ἀπὸ θήρας.—Poll. v. 13.

743. Xen. Cyneg. vi. 1. seq. Poll. v. 13.—It was customary, moreover, to nail the head or a foot of the game to some tree in honour of Artemis.—Sch. Aristoph. Ran. 143.

744. C. Poll. v. 61.

745. Οἱ θάμνοι, the technical term for covert. Poll. v. 15.

746. Xen. Cyneg. vi. 14–17.

747. Vict. Var. Lect. xxxi. 20. p. 883. seq. Cf. Plin. Hist. Nat. viii. 8, cum notis. Strab. iii. 2. p. 231.

748. Suid. v. Λαγώς. t. ii. p. 3.

749. This island now abounds in cattle and game, particularly quails and partridges.—Dapper, Descrip. des Iles de l’Archip. p. 173.

750. Hist. of Navig. prefixed to Church. Coll. of Voy. and Trav. vol. i. p. xx.

751. Poll. v. 74.

752. Xen. Cyneg. ix. 1.

753. The terms by which, in our old hunting vocabulary, the stag was known at the different periods of his life are as follow:—1. a fawn; 2. a pricket; 3. a sourell; 4. a soure; 5. a buck of the first head; 6. a buck. Wase. Pref. to Gratius, p. 12.

754. Xen. Cyneg. ix. 3.

755. That is on the ὀργάδες or lawns, which, according to Pollux they chiefly frequented, v. 15. Cf. Schneid. ad Xen. Cyneg. ix. § 1.

756. Xen. Cyneg. ix. 14. sqq.—Ælian describes another method of taking these animals not much practised by modern sportsmen; that is to say by the charms of music, as the Egyptian Psylli captured serpents.—De Nat. Anim. xii. 46.

757. Poll. v. 36.

758. Cf. Aristoph. Vesp. i. 202. seq. Xen. Cyrop. i. 6. 28.

759. Xen. Cyneg. x. 3.

760. The huntsmen give judgment of the wild boar by the print of his foot, by his rooting; a wild swine roots deeper than our ordinary hogs, because its snout is longer, and when he comes into a corn-field, as the Calydonian boar in Ovid, turns up one continued furrow, &c.—Wase, Illustrations, V. p. 64.

761. Cf. Poll. v. 23. sqq.

762. Οὕτω δὲ πολλὴ ἡ δυναμίς ἐστιν αὐτοῦ, ὥστε καὶ, ἃ οὐκ ἂν οἴοιτό τις, πρόσεστιν αὐτῷ· τεθνεῶτος γὰρ εὐθὺς ἐάν τις ἐπὶ τὸν ὀδόντα ἐπιθῇ τρίχας, συντρέχουσιν· οὑτως εἰσὶ θερμοὶ· ζῶντι δὲ διάπυροι, ὅταν ἐρεθίζηται· οὐ γὰρ ἂν τῶν κυνῶν, ἁμαρτάνων τῇ πληγῄ τοῦ σώματος, ἄκρα τὰ τριχώματα περιεπίμπρα.—Xen. Cyneg. x. 17. Cf. Poll. v. 80. Oppian. Venat. iii. 379. seq. Scalig. Poët. v. 14. p. 698.

763. Pausanias mentions the bear as an inhabitant of Pendeli. “About three years since one was shot in the mountains of Parnassos, and brought to Aracooa. The lynx, the wild cat, the wild boar, the wild goat, the stag, the roebuck, the badger, the martin, and squirrel inhabit the steeper rocks of Parnassos, and the thick pine forests above Callidia. The rough mountains about Marathon are frequented by moles, foxes, and jackals; weasels are sometimes taken in the villages and out-houses; hares are too numerous to be particularised.” Sibthorp in Walp. Mem. i. 73.

764. Paus. i. 32. 1.

765. Paus. iii. 20. 4. vii. 18. 13. viii. 17. 3.

766. Aristot. Hist. Anim. ix. 6. viii. 17. vi. 30. Ælian de Nat. Anim. vi. 3. Cf. Buffon, Hist. Nat. t. viii. p. 27.

767. This now we find is the food of swine. “Leaving Pyrgo (in Bœotia), we advanced along the plain to Eremo Castro; in our road we observed droves of pigs tearing up the ground for the roots of the cuckow-pint (arum maculatum) which was called by the swineherds δρακοντίο.”—Sibth. in Walp. i. 65.

768. Nat. Hist. viii. 54.

769. Aristot. Hist. Anim. viii. 5.

770. Ælian. de Nat. Anim. vi. 6. Aristot. ut sup.

771. Aristot. Hist. Anim. ix. 6. Ælian. de Nat. Anim. vi. 6.

772. Xen. Cyneg. xi. 1.

773. Pollux (v. 14.) observes that in his time lions were chiefly found in mountainous tracts as wild boars were in marshes and pardales in the depths of the woods.

774. Xen. Cyneg. xi. 2. Poll. v. 82. Plin. viii. 27. Dioscor. iv. 77. Foxes were supposed to be killed by baits steeped in the juice of bitter almonds (Id. i. 176); wolves, panthers, dogs, &c. by dog’s-bane.—Id. iv. 81.

775. Oppian. de Venat. iv. 85. sqq.

776. Cf. Hesych. v. Λυκαβ.

777. Ad D. Laert. p. 20. b. c. Meurs. Solon, c. 19.

778. The very name of the Cretans has by some been derived from the use of the bow. Κρῆτες, παρὰ τὸ ἐπὶ κέρασι βιοτεύειν· κυνηγετικοὶ γάρ. Etym. Mag. 537. 54. See in Homer a description of the bow of Pandaros where we are told it was made from the horns of a wild goat.—Il. δ. 105. sqq.

779. Ælian. Var. Hist. i. 10. On the cothurnos which these hunters wore, see Spanheim ad Callim. in Dian. 16. p. 142. sqq. Bœttig. Les Furies, p. 37. The high half-boot worn by Artemis in the chase is represented in Mus. Chiaramon. pl. 18.

780. Athen. xii. 28. Meurs. Cret. p. 177.

781. Athen. xii. 55. Plut. Alex. § 40. See in Wase’s Illustrations, p. 68. an account of the Polish royal hunts in which, on a smaller scale, the same practice prevailed.

782. Athen. i. 31.

783. Ap. Ælian. de Nat. Anim. iv. 26.

784. Sir John Malcolm’s Sketches of Persia.

785. Anthony Jenkinson in Hackluyt, v. i. p. 368.

786. De Mirab. Auscult. 128. Beckm. Hist. of Discov. and Inven. i. p. 321.

787. Arist. Hist. Anim. ix. 8. Xenoph. Cyrop. i. 6. 39. has introduced many particulars respecting fowling.

788. Cf. Xen. Memorab. ii. 1. 4. Their nets were denominated νεφέλαι, Schol. Aristoph. Av. 194. Cf. Schol. Pac. 1144. The man who watched the nets bore the name of λινόπτης.—Aristot. ap. id. ibid.

789. Athen. ix. 42.

790. Alexand. Myndius calls it the λαγωδίας in which case it may probably mean the Ptarmigan.

791. Athen. ix. 44. seq. Arist. Hist. Anim. viii. 12 ad fin.

792. They are taken in so great numbers in the island of Capri that they constitute the chief source of revenue to the bishop of that island.

793. Phanodem. l. iii. ap. Ath. ix. 47.



Having thus drawn as complete a picture as the plan of our work would permit, of the physical training of the Greeks in all its branches, comprehending Gymnastics properly so called, together with those other exercises which under the name of field-sports were enjoyed rather than studied under the lead of no master but experience, we now return to that mental discipline, which for the most part exerted its influence in the developement of the intellectual faculties at the same time that the foregoing bodily discipline brought forth all the energies of the frame. We shall thus have traversed the whole circle of Hellenic education, when we shall have exhibited the youth passing through the schools of the philosophers and sophists into the world.[794]

Their mode of teaching differed very materially from ours. It scarcely seemed an object with them to devour large quantities of learning, but going leisurely again and again over the same ground they appeared to give the lessons they received time to sink like gentle rain into their minds. Some advantage, too, arose from their method of teaching, as far as possible, orally. The master was to them instead of a library. A book has but one set of phrases for all. But the living teacher, if he found his pupils could not rise to his language, could lower it to meet them half-way, could be brief or expansive, or general or minute, as the necessities of the moment required. There was a familiarity, too, in the relation, 234scarcely compatible with our manners. The youth forgot he was learning, and rather supposed himself to be searching in the company of a friend for truths equally unknown to both. This appears to have been more particularly the case in their moral studies,[795] at least in the Socratic schools, where all the pomp of wisdom was laid aside that it might be the more popular.

It has been already remarked that the first lessons in morals were learned from the poets, whom, in my opinion, Plato wrongs most egregiously when he arraigns their fables as so many sources of immorality.[796] He appears, in fact, wilfully to confound them with those impostors, the purificators and diviners, who furnished the Popes with the original hint of penitences and indulgencies, and expiating crimes by proxy. But this is unjust. It is visiting the sins of low and sensual versifiers upon the divine heads of bards whom heaven itself had inspired. However this may be, upon the Greeks young and old no teachers exercised so powerful an influence as the poets, who, from Homer down to Callistratos,[797] whether in epic or after-dinner song, wielded the empire of their feelings despotically, prompting them to actions pregnant with renown. And the avidity with which their lessons were imbibed, is compared to that of a swarm of bees alighting (ἐπιπτομένοι)[798] on a bed of spring flowers. In fact, what Jason of Pheræ said of himself,—that he was devoured by the love of empire[799]—appears to have been true of the Athenian youth, in their irrepressible thirst after knowledge. Such of them, at least, as were εὐφυεῖς καὶ ἱκανοὶ, are said 235to have hungered fiercely after philosophy, and that not for any particular part but for the whole. And Socrates declares that he who while young is fastidious in his studies, rejecting this, disliking that, before mature reason has taught him which is useful and which is not, may consider himself what he pleases, but can never be great in learning or philosophy. To excel in these it is necessary insatiably to covet every kind of instruction, and joyfully to enter on the acquisition of it. He says, indeed, that they resemble sight-seers, greedy of every spectacle; or musical people, who are led by the ear wherever fiddling and singing are going forward; except that, with the latter pleasure is the sole motive, with the former an exalted passion for truth.[800] But what truths are the object of philosophy? Those which have regard to the nature and attributes of goodness, from which, as from a fountain, flow all the usefulness and advantages of virtue. Philosophy in Greece comprehended religion, and to be religious was to act justly, benevolently, mercifully towards men, humbly and piously towards God. To live thus, that is, to be virtuous, they considered it necessary to possess a knowledge of the whole theory of ethics, since virtue, in their opinion, is incompatible with ignorance. But man, besides being a moral being, accountable to God, is a political being, accountable to the laws of his country. He has duties also to perform towards that country. To perform these properly he must comprehend the nature of a state, and the relations subsisting between the state and the individuals who compose it; that is, he must be acquainted with the science of politics. Again in all free states, reasoning and persuasion, not blind will and brute force, are the instruments of government. The citizen must, therefore, be versed in logic and eloquence,[801] that he may think correctly and explain clearly and 236forcibly to others the convictions which determine his own judgment. We have thus a cycle of Greek studies with the reasons on which they were founded.

With regard to their religious education, which commenced in the nursery and was interwoven with every other study, it may be observed that without it no person at Athens could rise to any eminence, or command, even in private life, the respect of his fellow-citizens. To be in favour with them a man must be supposed to stand well with the gods. They conceived, in fact, that while conscience remained unstifled, there would be a sense of religion, and that when this went, probity, for the most part, and honour fled along with it. For regarding the deity in the light of a parent,—"we are all his offspring,"—irreligion appeared to them something like a disposition to parricide, a compound of injustice with the basest and most atrocious ingratitude. Arrived at this pitch, a man to compass his ends would scruple at nothing. They, therefore, regarded every symptom of impiety as a blow aimed at the democracy, of which Zeus was king. He who tramples on his country’s religion, which is the basis of all its laws, will infallibly, if it be in his power, trample next on those laws themselves, and next on his fellow-citizens whom the laws protect. Hence the terror, the vengeance, and, indeed, the cruelty arising out of the mutilation of the Hermæ, and the profanation of the mysteries, and the prosecution which followed, of Alcibiades, Andocides, and the rest. An attempt had been made to break down that enclosure of reverential sanctity which surrounded the commonwealth, and commended it to the protection of heaven. They considered the act a formal renouncing of the Almighty, and feared,—so imperfect were their notions,—lest the impiety of the few should redound to the detriment of the whole.

The remark is common in the mouths[802] of men 237that the education of the people should be conformable to the spirit of their institutions. But this is a mere truism, and means no more than this,—that men should not be enjoined one thing by their laws and political constitution, and another by the habits and maxims taught in youth. The grand difficulty, however, always has been to make them so to harmonise in practice that they should be but two parts of the same system.

In monarchies[803] a spirit of exclusion, something like that on which the system of castes is built, must pervade the whole business of education. The nobility must have schools to themselves, or, if wealthy plebeians be suffered to mingle with them, superior honour and consideration must be yielded to the former. The masters must look up to them and to their families, not to the people for preferment and advancement; and the plebeians, though superior in number, must be weak in influence, and be taught to borrow their tone from the privileged students.

In an oligarchy, properly so called, there should be no mingling of the classes at all. Schools must be established expressly for the governors, and others for the governed. The basis of education should be the notion that some men were born for rule and others for subjection; that the happiness of individuals depends on uninquiring submission to authority; that their rulers are wise and they unwise; that all they have to do with the laws is to obey them; and all teachers must be made to feel that their admission among the great depends on the faithful advocacy of such notions.

In free states, again, the contrary course will best promote the ends of government; the schools must 238be strictly public, and not merely theoretically but practically open to all. There should be no compulsion to attend them, but ignorance of the things there taught should involve a forfeiture of civil rights as much as being of unsound mind; for in truth, an ignorant man is not of sound mind, any more than one unable to use all his limbs is of sound body. Here the discipline must be very severe. A spirit rigidly puritanical must pervade the studies and preside over the amusements. Every tendency irreligious, immoral, ungentlemanly, as unworthy the dignity of freedom, should be nipped in the bud. The students must be taught to despise all other distinctions but those of virtue and genius, in other words the power to serve the community. They should be taught to contemplate humanity as in other respects wholly on the same level, with nothing above it but the laws. The teachers must be dependent on the people alone, and owe their success to their own abilities and popular manners. And this last in a great measure was the spirit of Athenian education.[804]

The best proof[805] that could be furnished of the excellence of a system of education would be its rendering a people almost independent of government, that is swayed more by their habits than by the laws. This was preëminently the case with the Athenians. They required to be very little meddled with by their rulers. Instructed in their duties and the reason which rendered them duties, accustomed from childhood to perform them, they 239lived as moral and educated men live still, independent of the laws.

This was the effect. The causes must be sought in their discipline and studies. I have observed that among them a principal subject of investigation was the science of politics, that is the science according to the principles of which states are framed and preserved. Nor did they, as some do, conduct their studies in that cold manner in which men investigate matters of mere curiosity, or things they are never to do more than converse or write about. They studied it as a profession, as a means of rising to power, and through power to fame, that is with all the ardour and earnestness of which enthusiastic youth is capable. Education by this means exerted an influence unknown under other forms of government. A consciousness that they were engaged in a sort of sacred contest, of which all Greece was spectator, pervaded the youth of every rank, and impelled them irresistibly into that course of studies which promised the greatest probability of success. Hence, no doubt much of the enthusiasm with which philosophy was cultivated. It was often not so much the abstract love of wisdom as a conviction of the political value of that wisdom which filled the schools of the great men who taught at Athens, whether they were physiologists, mathematicians, masters of music, of strategy, or of eloquence. The example of Pericles applying himself to natural philosophy under Anaxagoras, and deriving thence those streams of pure and masculine eloquence which overflowed the Pnyx, operated forcibly on public opinion. By the same arts and studies men hoped to mount to equal elevation, forgetting that Anaxagoras only watered the plant spontaneously produced by nature.

However, the hopes and aspirations I have described filled the schools first of the philosophers, then of the sophists. And this is the natural course of things. Few pursue wisdom for its own sake, in 240order that it may purify and render holy their own minds. And by this dispensation of Providence society is a gainer; for, as man is constituted, no sooner does he possess any mental excellence, any knowledge or art or experience, which can be rendered available, than he comes eagerly forward with it to extort praise or reward from the community by conferring benefits upon it. The examples of reserve in this matter are few, nor, in fact, are they to be commended who in this or in any thing else hide their light under a bushel; and therefore Plato is wrong when he teaches that wise men will as a rule abstain from intermeddling with state affairs, unless constrained thereto by fines and menaces. He confesses, indeed, that the worst of all punishments is to be governed by evil men, and that to avoid this even philosophers will consent to hold the reins of government.[806] But where they do not, they are always in free states the masters of those who do. Their schools were the colleges and universities of the ancient world, and so long as freedom endured the great object of their philosophy was to create able citizens and a happy state. On this account their remains are still instinct with life. Their object was gradually to ripen human nature into perfection by perfecting its education and its institutions. They knew how completely a people is in the power of its teachers for good or for evil, and accordingly, with some few exceptions, applied themselves to elevate the conceptions, the moral tone, the feelings of their countrymen, seldom descending to trifling disquisitions excepting for relaxation in the intervals of more important inquiries.

The physical sciences,[807] save in the case of their earliest cultivators, were regarded as simple handmaids to ethics and politics. Nevertheless, in the 241study of them much earnestness was exhibited. For, where knowledge is at all held in honour, men will always be found sufficiently prone to the palpable and visible. But even these pursuits assumed a peculiar form in Greece. The genius of the nation, essentially creative, developed its force and its peculiar energy in framing systems of physics, explaining the origin of the world, the birth of the human race, its early fortunes and fabulous history. Every great philosopher became, like an intellectual sun, the centre of a system of physics, and his disciples like satellites revolved around him, receiving and reflecting his light. This, despite of some inconveniences, was highly favourable to science. It compelled men to the study of the philosophical art of attack and defence. Each school became the reviewers and critics of its rivals, sought out their weak points, studied them profoundly, called up all its acuteness, all its subtlety, both to assault others and defend itself; and thus, whatever became of the system, the professors of it carried, as far as might be towards perfection, their intellectual powers, invested their reasonings with every grace of which they were susceptible, culled from the most recondite arts and hidden resources of style and eloquence.

But, while this golden currency was circulating through Greece, enriching its mind and augmenting its chances of independence and happiness, a race of men sprang up, who brought into use a number of ingenious and beautiful counters,—I mean the sophists.[808] The influence of these men in the education of the Greeks has seldom been correctly appreciated. It has been more common to vituperate than to study them. They corrupted, we are told, the mind and manners of youth. But how? No 242one, as far as I know, has observed that to them is to be traced the extinction of the republican spirit and the opening of a way for despotism.[809] That they created the yearning after innovation I will not affirm; but their epoch constituted a period of transition from republican to monarchical institutions, and the only way in which they can be said to have corrupted the youth was by undermining that love of liberty and of country, the feeling of disinterestedness on which chiefly a commonwealth must be founded, and inculcating in lieu thereof a system of ethics more in conformity with the modifications of civil polity prevalent in modern times. In this way only did they corrupt and undermine the morals of their country. But in so far they effected it, and that the more easily, in that circumstances conspired, about the time they arose, to fling the whole business of teaching into their hands, insomuch that to be a sophist, and to teach youth, grew to be synonymous terms.[810]

They were themselves, however, but a corruption of what in its origin was good, and always continued in the opinion of the undiscerning to be confounded with the men they aped.[811] Whether we have sophists among us at the present day, I will not determine; 243but this is the way they arose in Greece. It was soon discovered by shrewd and calculating men, that since philosophy excited much admiration and rendered its teachers objects of mark and reverence, it might by a little ingenuity be converted into a source of profit.[812] But by what means?—The philosophers at the outset were in possession of the popular ear, more through the sanctity of their lives, of which all could judge, than through their doctrines, necessarily comprehended in their fullest extent by few. They despaired, therefore, of the people. There existed, however, in Greece, and will ever exist in free states, young men of immeasurable ambition, who, impatient of the restraint of laws, would gladly cast them off, seize the reins of government, and become the tyrants of their country. The mere conception of such a design implies the possession of wealth and powerful friends. Eager for any help they enthusiastically welcomed all who seemed capable of promoting their views, and when the sophists appeared, enriched with a variety of knowledge, specious, eloquent, unscrupulous, they eagerly threw themselves into their arms, became their pupils, and in conjunction with them framed the subjugation of Greece.

In tracing this class of men to their origin, we must look back a great way, and endeavour to detect them, under a variety of forms, different from that in which they ultimately settled. They arose with the first philosophers, or the first poet who made self the centre of his researches, and sought to render the investigation of science a means of personal aggrandisement. Protagoras describes in Plato the rise of his own art; where, though a side blow be wrongfully aimed at poetry itself, the truth of the accusation against a 244number of poets cannot be denied. He makes good at the very outset what I have asserted above. They travelled, he says, over all Greece, alluring the noblest youths to abandon the company of their friends and fellow-citizens, to become their pupils, and be guided wholly by their maxims, the nature of which I shall presently unfold. The feelings they thus excited, he denominates envy and malevolence, though in truth it was nothing more than that patriotic and parental jealousy and hatred experienced by the good when they behold those they love led astray. The better to escape this hostility, the ancient sophists adopted various disguises, sometimes enveloping their art in the folds of poetry as Homer, Hesiod, and Simonides, on other occasions affecting to be the interpreters of foreign rites and oracles, as Orpheus and Musæus; while a third class concealed the features of their art under the less suspected mask of gymnastics, such as Iccos of Tarentum, and that Herodicos of Silymbria a man of Megarean origin who in the art of sophistry was second to none of his age. Occasionally they made their entrance into cities as professors of music. In this capacity Damon conversed with Pericles, and Agathocles, an Athenian by birth, diffused through the state the seeds of sophistry; Pythocleides, too, the Coan, pursued the same course; and thus a youth, while ostensibly engaged in gaining a proficiency on the lyre or cithara, was initiated in the mysteries of tyranny, irreligion and injustice.[813]

By degrees, however, it was discovered that all disguise might be very safely laid aside.[814] In fact the object at first aimed at,—to escape the notice of men in power,—was found impracticable; and as to the people, against whom all these shafts were directed, it was easy to delude them, since what their leaders recommended they praised. Protagoras, accordingly, 245boldly professed himself a sophist, trusting for safety to his eloquence, and that growing laxity of manners which was rapidly undermining the old republican constitution and preparing the way for a new order of things. His candour was praiseworthy, but lamentable were the circumstances which rendered it safe.

I would not, however, be understood to share the opinions of those, who can discern nothing but evil in the doctrines of the sophists. On many points their notions harmonised altogether with those of the wisest philosophers. Accordingly it was not precisely what they inculcated, but the principles which regulated their teaching, that rendered them sophists. They taught with a view to enrich themselves, which is wholly incompatible with a strict allegiance to truth; since, with such views, men will always be found to prophesy agreeably in order that they may effect their purpose.

This circumstance has not been sufficiently considered by the writers who undertake their apology. They compare them with the literary men of modern times, and imagine this comparison a defence. But does it not rather substantiate the accusation? It is true that, like modern literary men, they haunted the houses of the great, whom they regarded as their patrons; that to them, rather than to the people, they looked for support; that, like them, they worshipped wealth and abhorred poverty; that their studies, their discourses, their writings, diffused far and wide through society a taste for arts and elegance; that they furnished the public in their declamations, satires, novels, of which they were the inventors, with inexhaustible sources of amusement:—but what virtue did they inculcate? On whom did they urge the necessity of sacrificing private to public good? On what occasion did they dare to stem the torrent of immorality, of impiety, of unpatriotic maxims, which the base and the selfish were pouring forth against the old bulwarks of freedom? That among them there were men of a 246very high order of genius, it is impossible to deny. Gorgias of Leontium, from whose name we have borrowed an epithet to express whatever is most glorious in nature or dazzling and elaborate in art, Protagoras, Prodicos, Hippias of Elis, Polos of Agrigentum, Thrasymachos of Chalcedon, have left behind them an imperishable memory;[815] but so have Busiris and Phalaris and Catiline. They are remembered for the good they might have done, and the evil they did.

Since, however, the sophists acted so important a part in the education of the Greeks, the space I devote to them is clearly their due: it is necessary to the thorough comprehension of the subject. Almost from the moment they arose they aimed at a monopoly of the art of teaching, and the father of the art, properly so called, was Gorgias. Few names of antiquity, as Geel[816] has well observed, are better known or more celebrated than that of this distinguished sophist, among the causes of whose amazing popularity must be reckoned the number of great men whom he instructed in eloquence, and the splendid vices of style which his example and precept brought into vogue. The exact date of his birth is not known:[817] he is, however, supposed to have been born at Leontium in Sicily, about the seventy-third Olympiad. His father’s name was Charmantes.[818] Nearly all the particulars of his early life are unknown, the ancients having been as much 247too negligent as we are too lavish of biographical details. Under whom he studied, with whom he conversed, how much he owed to others, and how much to his own genius and industry, are points not easy to be determined, though we cannot adopt the opinion of Ælian,[819] who sends him to school to Philolaos; or of Diogenes Laertius, who will have Empedocles to have been his teacher, since the latter was very little older than himself, and the former much younger. Empedocles is indeed said to have invented the art of rhetoric, in which case we might suppose Gorgias to have been his scholar. But how invented? He may have been the first who sought to reduce it into an art, or who so called it; but as Aristotle observes, every man who reasons persuasively is a rhetorician, whether his eloquence be based on the formal study of the art or not. In philosophy, indeed, he would seem[820] to have been the disciple of Empedocles; but in rhetoric they both very probably derived instruction from Corax and Tisias, who flourished and taught rhetoric in Sicily about the period of their youth.[821]

These, however, are mere conjectures. He would probably have died in obscurity, and been forgotten with the kings who reigned ante Agamemnona, had not the misfortunes of his country brought him, in old age, to the great workshop of Fame. The immediate occasion was this; the people of Leontium having engaged and been worsted in war by the Syracusans, sent ambassadors to demand succour of the Athenian people, and among these the principal speaker was Gorgias. Practised in a style of oratory new at Athens, indulging in a profusion of metaphors and other figures bordering on the licences of poetry, he immediately hurried away captive his hearers, fulfilled 248the desires of his fellow citizens, and established for himself a reputation[822] where all men most desired to possess one. To augment his glory it has not been unusual to enumerate Pericles and Thucydides among those who became his scholars. But this embassy took place in the fifth year of the Peloponnesian war when Pericles had been dead two years. That Thucydides heard him, however, is not at all improbable, since his exile did not take place[823] till the eighth year of the war. Among his admirers are mentioned two other men, whose principles and history afford the best illustration of what fruit the teaching of the sophists was likely to produce,—Critias and Alcibiades, whose ability, courage, and profligacy rendered them the scourges of their country. It has been with great probability supposed that, having on his return to Leontium rendered an account of his mission, he quitted Sicily for ever, for the purpose of becoming a professor of eloquence in Greece. This is Diodorus’s account, but the Scholiast on Hermogenes supposes him to have remained at Athens. Whether this was the case or not, he soon considered one city, however great or celebrated, too confined a theatre for the display of his merit. He, therefore, adopted the profession of an itinerant lecturer, with the double view of gratifying his vanity and filling his purse. And he thoroughly understood the art of dazzling mankind, for, not supposing it enough to unfold before his auditors his magazines of tropes and figures, stored up, like theatrical thunder and lightning, to be introduced at the proper moment, he had recourse to other dramatic arts for producing effect, appearing in magnificent attire, flowing purple robes, embroidered sandals, his fingers sparkling with gold and gems. But though the oldest of the sophists, he was not the first who adopted this course. Protagoras, and perhaps others, had previously commenced their peregrinations, and begun to practise 249on the credulity and weakness of the multitude. Among the Athenians they were paid chiefly with praise; “the solid pudding” was to be sought elsewhere. And accordingly we find, as Plato sarcastically expresses it, that upon the advent of the sophists, the Thessalians, usually celebrated for their full purses and fine horses,[824] grew all at once remarkable for their love of wisdom, that is, paid the sophists handsomely, in the hope of thus enticing knowledge to remain among them. In fact they supposed that wisdom is like a candle and lantern, by which you may have light,—or a saint’s shirt, by wearing which you infallibly become holy,—or the lamp of Epictetus, which a rich man bought at three thousand drachmas, in the hope that it would light him into the very adyta of philosophy. However this may be, it is very certain that the Thessalians became the patrons of the sophists, who disposed in that country of more wisdom and eloquence than in any other part of Greece, and the principal purchasers of it were of the rich family of the Aleuadæ, the earliest Mæcenases, I believe, on record.

But the sophists, to their credit be it acknowledged, were no misers. What they easily gained they spent freely; and not merely so, but in many instances converted the effects of their personal vanity into public ornaments of the whole country. Thus Gorgias, enriched by the spoils of Thessaly, erected at Delphi a golden statue[825] of himself, which argued a more generous spirit than he would have shown by setting it afloat in the channels of trade or husbandry or usury, in the hope of rendering himself a great capitalist.

Gorgias was long absent from Athens, and visited during his travels the most considerable cities of Greece. Among other places he came to Delphi, where from the steps of the altar, probably during the games, he delivered that oration called the Pythian, in celebration of which he erected the above-mentioned statue.[826] From thence perhaps,—for the 250chronology of his journey is not exactly known,—he proceeded to Olympia, where he also assisted at the games for the purpose of exhibiting his oratorical talents in the presence of all Greece, and reaping as it were in an hour a harvest of glory. This declamation, delivered during the Peloponnesian war, had at least the recommendation of being patriotic. Standing in front of the temple of Zeus, the god of concord and of peace, he earnestly recommended union and harmony.[827] If war they must have, there were the barbarians,—let their arms be turned against them. With what success he spoke, history has informed us; but the satirists of antiquity, ever naturally addicted to scandal, are careful to remark that this great advocate of concord and unanimity kept up a civil war in his own house, where the charms of some beautiful-cheeked θεραπαινίδιον[828] excited the jealousy of Madame. At the same time the old gentleman, to adopt the most moderate computation, must have been hard upon three-score and ten, though some would make him eighty.

Over the latter days of Gorgias[829] hovers the same 251darkness which conceals from view the commencement. It is known with no degree of certainty where he spent the close of his long life or where he died, though as no account exists of his return to Sicily, it probably was in Greece.

Next to Gorgias in reputation was Protagoras, whose history is still less known. In the opinion of some writers he was the oldest of the sophists. Though the date of his birth be later than that of Gorgias, he preceded him in the profession of the art. He was certainly, I think, born much earlier than is supposed either by Clinton or by Geel, who take him to have been almost exactly of Socrates’ age, that is to have come into the world about 479 B. C. But in this opinion I cannot concur. It is in direct contradiction with a passage in Plato[830] who, however careless in matters of chronology, would, I am persuaded, never push his negligence so far as to make one man say to another, born in the same year with himself, that he was old enough to be his father. To me, therefore it appears necessary that we throw back ten or twelve years the date of his birth. He was ten years, it is admitted, older than Democritos. The latter, who had made considerable progress in philosophy when he saw Protagoras in the capacity of a wood-carrier and undertook to initiate him in his system, could hardly have been less than seven or eight and twenty, so that the former was little short of forty. He exercised the profession of sophist during forty years, 252and died about 406 B. C. He must therefore have been born about 484–485 B. C.[831]

But I cannot here pursue the history of the sophists, which no further belongs to my work than as it is connected with the subject of education. On their writings, however, and manner of teaching it is necessary that I should be more explicit. Whether Gorgias first published or Protagoras is of little moment; both evidently wrote with the same aim, which was to confound truth and error, right and wrong, not perhaps through any enmity to truth or to virtue, but from the sheer vanity of being thought capable of any thing, and the desire of converting their talents to account. One distinguishing quality of the class was fertility. They piqued themselves on being able to pour forth volume after volume, treatise after treatise, speech after speech. This, indeed, it was that constituted their principal claim to superiority over the philosophers, a pains-taking race, among whom the period of intellectual gestation was longer than that of the elephant; whereas your true sophist, without meditation, study or experience, astonished his admirers by the copiousness of his invention, by imagery, gorgeous and glittering, generally stolen from the poets, and by a piquant air of profoundness and originality, which the art of 253seeming to doubt all that other men believe never fails to confer.

Besides, comprehending enough of human nature to know that whoever amuses is listened to, whatever atrocities he may utter, they were careful to invest their doctrine with a light and graceful exterior. No man ever excelled them at a joke. They in fact managed matters so that in their hands every thing became a joke, and to overthrow an antagonist demanded nothing more than to be able to raise a laugh at his expense; for, all the world over, in the opinion of the vulgar, whoever is ridiculous is wrong. From calculation, they eschewed the uphill task of correcting error, or advancing truth, or reforming manners. To upbraid men for their faults and counsel amendment, is to incur their enmity. Reformers, prophets, apostles of truth have always been persecuted, often put to death. The sophists felt no ambition to be martyrs. Poverty, too, and obscurity, spare diet, a coarse mantle, and the solitude in which the poor great man walks the world, they could not away with. To their happiness crowds of admirers, opulence, costly robes[832] and all the refinements of luxury formed a sine quâ non; and accordingly in the choice of their doctrines they were guided by one consideration only, viz. how they might amuse mankind, and reap all the advantages of popularity.

The eloquence which statesmen employed to recommend their measures, the sophists applied to fictitious uses, imagining themselves in impossible circumstances, reversing times, confounding manners, and 254attacking or defending men long since dead. In all such cases the interest would chiefly depend on the novelty or ingenuity of the thoughts and the subtle artifices of style. Hence the extravagance, the coldness, the perversion of imagery, the distortion and monkey tricks of language, for which their manner of compositions became remarkable. The false position they took up led, in philosophy, to results equally disastrous. To aim at truth, would have been to throw themselves into the wake of the philosophers, to share, without worldly compensation, their dangers, labours, and comparative insignificance. They struck out, therefore, a new course for themselves. Taking philosophy as it was, they undertook to dispute on all and every part of it; to show that for a skilful dialectician there was no proposition that might not with nearly equal facility be attacked or defended; that by means of syllogisms or enthymemes, artfully arranged, darkness may be proved to be light, and light darkness; that between lying and speaking the truth there is no difference; that in fact both veracity and falsehood are nonentities, all our notions being mere arbitrary fictions; and that to beat your dog and to beat your father is the same thing.

Of this novel and ingenious style of argumentation,[833] in which Hudibras was an adept, we are furnished with abundant examples by Plato, more especially in the Euthydemus, where two old fellows, with arguments longer than their beards, luxuriate in the felicitous inventions by which, like another Circe, they are enabled to transform their hearers into hogs and bulldogs. In humorous extravagance the dialogue scarcely falls short of an Aristophanic comedy or a Christmas pantomime. Socrates[834] plays the Clown, Ctesippos the Harlequin, and the blows dealt upon the magicians in the course of the piece, are such as, were they fully 255comprehended, would set all Drury Lane or Covent Garden in a roar. But the length of the scenes prevents their transplantation into my pages, and the abridgment of a joke is a very dull thing. Let us, however, hear by what logic they proved Socrates to have been a second “man without a navel.”

“Answer me,” cried Dionysidoros.

“Well then,” replied Socrates, “I answer that Iolaus was the nephew of Heracles, and, as far as I can see, no nephew of mine. For my brother Patrocles was not his father, but quite another guess sort of person, Iphicles the brother of Heracles.”

“And Patrocles was your brother?”

“By the mother, not by the father.”

“Then he was your brother, and not your brother?”

“By the father’s side he was not,” answered Socrates, “since he was the son of Charidemos, and I of Sophroniscos.”

“But Sophroniscos, no less than Charidemos, was a father.”

“Exactly; the former was my father, the latter Patrocles’.”

“Then was Charidemos other than a father?”

“He was other than mine.”

“Then he was a father, and not a father? But, come, are you the same thing as a stone?”

“I fear,” replied Socrates, “I shall appear to be no better in your hands, though I do not discover the identity.”

“Well, being other than a stone, you are not a stone; being other than gold, you are not gold. And must not the same thing happen to Charidemos? Being something else than a father, he is not a father.”

“So it seems,” replied the philosopher.

“And what is true of Charidemos,” replied the younger sophist, “must be true of Sophroniscos. Being other than a father, he is not a father: from which, my good friend, it follows that you never had any father at all![835]

256Socrates being thus placed on a level with the first man, his friend Ctesippos took up the ball, and sent it with so much force into the face of the sophists, that it somewhat startled them.

“Come, then,” said he, “is not your own father in precisely the same circumstances? Is he not different from my father?”

“Not at all,” answered Euthydemos.

“What, then, he is the same?”


“I should be sorry to think so. However, is he my father only, or is he everybody else’s father?”

“Everybody’s, of course; for can you imagine him to be a father, and not a father?”

“I should have thought so,” answered Ctesippos.

“What! that gold is not gold, and that a man is not a man?”

“Not so, friend Euthydemos; but you do not, as the saying is, mingle flax with flax; and your assertion, that your father is the father of all men, seems very extraordinary.”

“But he is, though.”

“Very good; but is he not only the father of men but of horses and every other animal?”

“Of everything!”

“And your mother, in like manner, is the mother of all things?”


“Then she is the mother of the sea-hedgehog.”

“And so is yours!”

“And you are the full brother of gudgeons, cubs, and sucking-pigs.”

“So are you!”

“And your father is a dog.”

“And yours, too!”

It was now evident they were in anger, and accordingly Dionysidoros interposed, and observed jocularly,—

“Provided you will answer me, Ctesippos, I undertake to make you confess that your father is just 257what my brother has said. So, tell me, have you a dog?”

“I have, and a snappish cur he is, too.”

“And has he young ones?”

“Ay, and they are more snappish than himself.”

“Well, now, is not the dog their father?”

“No doubt.”

“And the dog is yours?”


“It follows then, if he be a father and yours, that he must be your father; so that his cubs are your brothers.”

Before the young man could reply to this compliment the sophist proceeded:

“Answer me, Ctesippos, a little longer. Do you ever beat that dog?”

“That I do,” replied Ctesippos laughing; “and I wish I could administer the same discipline to you in your turn.”

“Then you beat your own father!”

“The beating,” answered the young man, “would be more justly inflicted on yours, for having knowingly let loose two such sages upon mankind!”[836]

But these, after all, were but laughing sophists, who, though they had succeeded in confounding and obliterating from their own minds every trace of difference between right and wrong, fell short of that superb degree of wickedness at which Polos, Callicles, and Thrasymachos arrived, at least in speculation. The former were mere babblers, who corrupted a pupil or two whom bad luck threw in their way. Thrasymachos flew at higher game. His sophistry was political,[837] 258and his aim the destruction of freedom, by extinguishing that sense of justice on which it must ever be based. The genius of the man was considerable. He had deep thoughts, and investigated boldly; but his sympathies having somehow been early perverted, he grew sombre, fierce, and unsociable, and without the slightest disguise advocated, like our Hobbes,[838] tyrannical maxims and morals. Money, like the rest, he of course worshipped. Nay, in the conversation at the house of Cephalos he even ventures to sneer rudely at Socrates’ poverty; upon which Glaucon[839] observes:—"Don’t fear to go unpaid for the instruction you may give him, for we will enter into a subscription on his behalf."[840] Thrasymachos, however, was still more 259vain than avaricious. He thirsted to exhibit his notions in order to enjoy the satisfaction arising from shocking those who heard him. He maintained that justice is nothing more than what in any state the rulers think proper to establish; and that, consequently, the ordinances of a tyrant are as binding and as just as the laws of a free state, since by nature all actions are indifferent.

It was, in fact, a part of the sophistical doctrine, to maintain in politics, what Hobbes afterwards advocated, the right of the stronger:—

—--"The good old rule, the simple plan,
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can."

But because there is in every man’s heart a rooted prejudice in favour of justice, they were fain to argue that all governors, in as far as they deserved the name, would ordain what was best for themselves, and that, whatever it might be, was just:[841] a very satisfactory doctrine, which has never grown wholly out of fashion. They laughed to scorn, as persons who required nurses to look after them and wipe their noses,[842] whomsoever they found entertaining the notion that governments were instituted for the good of the governed.

Their staple comparison was always a flock or a herd. What shepherd, they inquired, ever looked after his flock for their benefit, and not for his own use? In like manner magistrates, who, as is proper, hold the chief place in cities, look on the public exactly as if they are so many sheep or oxen, and think of nothing, night or day, but how they may derive most advantage from them. Justice, therefore, 260is what promotes the interests of the governors, though it may be loss to the governed. The man, esteemed just and pious and holy by the philosopher, was merely, in their opinion, a fool. Whenever anything is to be gained he gets less than any man, and when anything is to be done for the community he does more. He is always ready with his purse whenever anything is to be paid; always out of the way when gain is afloat. The unjust man, on the contrary, knows what he is about. He pays and does as little as possible for the public, and takes from it all he can. The former renders himself disagreeable to his friends and domestics, by refusing to commit any unjust action on their behalf. The latter, on the other hand, unscrupulous in acquisition, is able to oblige many by his wealth if he happens to require their services. Thus even in private life and small matters injustice is to be preferred; but when it operates on a grand scale, plunders whole cities, and usurps over them supreme authority, it reaches the acme of felicity, is saluted by the name of prince, and becomes an object of envy to all mankind.

Nor did they pause even here. It was not enough to show the happiness of vice as vice; they undertook to prove that vice is virtue and virtue vice, which may be considered as their magnum opus. They went to work boldly, but, like the fox of Archilochos,[843] always kept something of their figure concealed, that, if any necessity arose, they might be able to retreat by treating their whole chain of argumentation as a mere rhetorical exercise. “You appear to be in earnest,” observed Socrates on one occasion. “What does it signify to you whether I am in earnest or not,” replied the sophist, “if you cannot refute what I advance?” With this prudent reserve, they taught that injustice is a powerful and beautiful principle, reckoning it among the virtues, and attributing to it all the characteristics usually attributed to justice.[844] Pascal, 261in developing the morals of the Jesuits, describes their principles exactly. They patronised even cutting purses, providing the operator had the ingenuity to conceal his performance. No doubt, in thus arguing, they did violence to their secret convictions, and might, by an able dialectician, be made to feel, though never to acknowledge, the deformity of their doctrines, as Thrasymachos, driven up in a corner by the logic of Socrates, blushes and is chap-fallen;[845] but as sophistry was their occupation, the misery and degradation was, that, convinced or not convinced, they must still sing the old song. It is evident, in fact, that, like many sophists of other days, they were bold with the lips while the heart within trembled. The light of conscience could not be wholly quenched. They conceived the gods to be armed with power and disposed to exert it, not only against evil doers but against evil speakers also. Pressed upon this point, whether the bad be not obnoxious and the good agreeable to the deities, Thrasymachos would not deny it. And why? Lest he should render himself hateful to them, ἴνα μὴ τοῖς δὲ ἀπέχθωμαι. So that in the worst times of paganism, religion, how corrupt soever, failed not to preserve some influence over men’s minds, to save them from the bestial recklessness into which they seemed desirous to plunge.[846]

Nevertheless, the sophists on many points did but methodise, condense and embody in florid language the maxims and modes of thinking current in corrupt ages among the vulgar. Their doctrines were but an echo of what was heard in the ecclesiæ, in the law courts, in the theatres, and in the camps. It would have been to little purpose, therefore, to have silenced them, unless, at the same time, the above schools could have been purified, wherein young and old, men and women, imbibed the opinions, maxims, prejudices, which constituted the 262system of the sophists.[847] And Plato, who observes this, supplies us, in doing so, with a fresh proof that women frequented the theatre. In one of these four places, he says, they were corrupted: but they were not soldiers, and, therefore, not in the camp; they were not dicasts, and, therefore, not in the law courts; they were neither orators nor voters, and, therefore, not in the ecclesiæ. The evil doctrines they imbibed, therefore, must have been imbibed at the theatre.[848] Here, too, the youth, disciplined and principled in better things by his philosophical teachers, received a new education which overthrew the former. Deeds and words, condemned by his teachers, he often found to be greeted here with rapturous applause, re-echoed by rocks and walls; while hisses, sneers, or vociferous vituperation would, perhaps, be showered on things he had been taught most to revere. In his feelings, therefore, and internal convictions a revolution was soon effected. He grew ashamed of the notions implanted in him at school. Every lingering sentiment of honour seemed to him an unfortunate prejudice despised by men of the world, and he hastened to shift his notions as a clown does his dress to prepare for admittance into fashionable company.

The sophists, skilled in the study of mankind, soon discovered, that to please and ultimately to rule the ignorant, it was necessary to humour their failings, and, in appearance at least, to adopt their opinions. In a commonwealth, governed by wholesome principles, great men obtain influence, not by resembling the majority but by differing from them. They are popular by the authority of their virtues. They are reverenced with the reverence due to a father from his child, who confides in him from long experience in his love and implicit faith in his honour, and will submit to be rebuked and chastised, and determined 263by him in his actions from the conviction that his superior wisdom and probity and affection entitle him to rule. But the sophists, and their political disciples, despaired of thus governing the people. In their manners there was none of the dignity, in their minds none of the wisdom, in their resolutions none of that inflexible firmness arising from consciousness of right, which neither threats nor clamour can subdue. They regarded the populace as a huge beast, whose ways and temper they must study, whose passions and desires they must know how to raise and how to satisfy; by what arts they might safely enter his den, stroke his terrible paws, or mount, if they thought proper, on his back and direct his irresistible might against their enemies. And this they esteemed as wisdom, and upon those who excelled in it they bestowed the name of statesmen and philosophers.[849] Among the arts by which this influence was acquired were flattery and boasting; by the former they disposed people to listen, by the latter they sought to justify them for listening, by dwelling on the wonders they could perform. If they might be believed, they could convert fools into wise men, which philosophers regarded in the light of a miracle. This disposition τὸ θρασὺ καὶ τὸ ἰταμὸν,[850] as Basilius expresses it, is admirably painted by Plato in the character of Thrasymachos. And the contrast afforded by Socrates makes good, as Muretus observes, the wise remark of Thucydides ὅτι ἀμαθία μὲν θάρσος, φρόνησις δ᾽ ὄκνον φέρει.

Such, however, as they were, the reputation of the sophists spread far and wide. Even among the barbarians of Asia a desire was felt to have the ear tickled by their eloquence, as we may gather from the letter of Amytocrates, an Indian king, to Antiochos, requesting him to ship off for India as soon as possible, some boiled wine, dried figs, and 264a sophist, observing that he would very willingly pay the price of him. But Antiochos, either loth to part with so useful a servant of the monarchy, or out of pity for the Indians, whom he suspected to be already sufficiently tormented, replied, that as for boiled wine and figs he might be supplied to his heart’s content, but that with respect to sophists the law prohibited their exportation.[851] He had all the while, however, without knowing it, abundant specimens of the race in his own realms, where the Brahmins have, time out of mind, cultivated and thriven by the same arts, and maintained the same opinions, as conferred celebrity on the followers of Gorgias and Protagoras. Their practices, indeed, as well as those of the Yoghis, are in India modified by the state of society and public opinion. The wonder which among the Greeks was excited by the advocacy of monstrous doctrines, on the banks of the Ganges, arises out of physical pranks. The Greek sophist tortured his mind, the Indian tortures his body for the edification of the public, but the result is the same; the practitioners thus contrive to subsist in idleness on the earnings of the industrious and credulous.

794. Cf. M. Ant. Muret. Orat. vii. p. 70. sqq.

795. Vid. Ant. Muret. Orat. iv. 43. sqq.

796. Plat. de Rep. ii. t. i. p. 112. sqq. Stallb. Cf. Hardion, Dissert. sur l’Eloquence, iii. Biblioth. Academ. t. iii. p. 194. p. 210. sqq.

797. See Schoel. Hist. de la Lit. Grecq. i. 288. Lowth. Poes. Sacr. Hebr. p. 12. Leipz.

798. Plat. de Rep. ii. t. i. p. 115. Stallb. On the ardent and noble temperament of Athenian youth, see the note of Valckennaer, ad Xenoph. Mem. iii. 3. 13. p. 286. Schneid. Cf. Plat. de Rep. v. t. i. p. 345.

799. Aristot. Polit. iii. 4.

800. Plat. de Rep. v. t. i. p. 393. seq. Stallb.

801. Plat. Gorg. t. iii. p. 27. De Rep. t. vi. p. 358. sqq. Bekk.

802. See on this part of the subject Destutt de Tracy. Com. sur l’Esprit des Loix, p. 25. sqq.

803. In an ill-constituted state, observes Muretus, a good man cannot be a good citizen, for he will desire to alter the government, which being bad he cannot respect.—In Aristot. Eth. p. 398.

804. The advantages of which were so much coveted by foreigners, that they sent their children in crowds to be educated at Athens.—Æsch. Epist. Orat. Att. xii. 214.

805. A commonwealth, says Plato, once well constituted will proceed like an ever rolling circle. For by persevering in good training and instruction, the minds and disposition of the people will be rendered good, and these again in their turn will improve the system of training and instruction, and even the race of man itself, as the breed of other animals, is rendered more excellent by care.—De Rep. t. vi. p. 173. Cf. Isocrates, Areop. § 14. seq.

806. Repub. i. t. vi. p. 42. seq. Bekk.

807. Vid. Athen. ii. 18.—That geography entered but very little into their studies may be inferred from Thucydides, vii. 1.

808. Vid. Herod. i. 29. And Cf. Schœll. Hist. de la Lit. Grecq. ii. 134. Isoc. de Perm. § 26. Muret. in Arist. Ethic. p. 477. Menag. ad Diog. Laert. p. 5. a. b. &c.

809. Hobbes, the great representative of this class of men in modern times, living under the despotism of the Stuarts, sought to turn the tables upon the philosophers, and accused them of corrupting the minds of youth. “As to rebellion, in particular against monarchy, one of the most frequent causes of it is the reading of the books of policy and histories of the ancient Greeks and Romans; from which young men, and all others that are unprovided of the antidote of solid reason, receiving a strong and delightful impression of the great exploits of war, achieved by the conductors of their armies, receive withal a pleasing idea of all they have done besides; and imagine their great prosperity not to have proceeded from the emulation of particular men, but from the virtue of their popular form of government.”—Leviathan, pt. ii. c. 29. vol. iii. p. 315.—Edition of Sir William Molesworth.

810. Poll. iv. 17.

811. Plat. de Rep. t. vi. p. 286. seq. Cf. Schol. Aristoph. Nub. 331.

812. That money was the sole object of the sophists is observed by Isocrates, Hel. Encom. § 4. Elsewhere, with a stroke of sly humour not usual with him, he says, they would sell anything short of immortality for three or four minæ.—Cont. Sophist. § 3, p. 576. See on the whole subject of the Sophists, Hard. Dissert. v. Bibl. Acad. t. iii. p. 240. sqq. Muret. in Arist. Ethic. p. 533. Cressol. Theat. Rhet. v. iii. p. 447.

813. Plat. Protag. t. i. p. 163. seq. Bekk.

814. At a late period, by a decree of Sophocles, the sophists were driven out of Attica.—Athen. xiii. 92. Cf. Cressol. Theat. Rhet. i. 12. p. 87.

815. Muretus considers the word sophist to be synonymous with a teacher of eloquence: “Sophista, id est, dicendi magister;” and, speaking of this same Thrasymachos, cites a passage from Cicero which attributes to him the invention of the rhetorical style. Orat. § 12. Suidas regards Thrasymachos as the first who made use of the period and the colon; and supposes him to have been pupil to Plato and Isocrates, whereas he preceded both.—Muret. Comm. p. 631. seq.

816. Hist. Sophist. p. 13.

817. Clinton, Fast. Hellen. ii. 28. 65. 67. Geel (Hist. Sophist. p. 14) assumes the seventieth Olympiad as the date of his birth; but as it seems to result from the text of Pausanias that he was still living in 380. B.C. this would extend the duration of his life beyond that assigned to it by any ancient writer.

818. Of whom, as Muretus (Comm. p. 631. seq.) observes, no mention occurs save in Plato de Repub. i. § 2. t. i. p. 8. Stallb.

819. Var. Hist. i. 23. Diog. Laert. viii. 58.—Mr. Clinton, however, adopts the opinion of Diogenes (Fast. Hell. ii. 365); and, to render it probable, supposes Empedocles to have been a few years older than his pupil.

820. Plat. Men. p. 14. g.

821. Cic. Brut. § 12. Geel, Hist. Sophist. p. 15. seq. Sext. Empir. p. 306. seq.

822. Diod. Sicul. xii. 53.

823. I cannot, therefore, see the reason of Geel’s doubt.—Hist. Sophist. p. 18. Cf. Clint. Fast. Hellen. ii. p. 68.

824. Plat. Hip. Maj. t. v. p. 416.

825. Cressol. Theat. Rhet. i. 8.

826. Geel, Hist. Sophist. p. 23.

827. They sometimes selected more humble subjects for their panegyric, for example, the bumble-bee, or salt.—Isocrat. Hel. Encom. § 4. p. 461. Plutarch, too, speaks of a learned work on salt, which he considered very edifying.—Sympos. § 5. A French author of the same class devoted twenty years of his life to a treatise on the nightingale. Another member of this confraternity is celebrated by Rousseau:—“On dit qu’un allemand a fait un livre sur un zeste de citron; j’en aurais fait un sur chaque gramen des prés, sur chaque mousse des bois, sur chaque lichen qui tapisse les rochers; enfin, je ne voulais pas laisser un poil d’herbe, pas un atome végétal qui ne fût amplement décrit.”—Réveries, t. iii. p. 106. On the verbal trifling of the sophists see Muret. in Aristot. Ethic. p. 79. By Le Conte, in his Commentary on the Anabasis, Gorgias is transformed into “a prudent and experienced officer,” because Proxenos is said to have studied under him.—t. i. p. 246.

828. Plut. Conj. Præcept. § 43. whom Geel follows.—Hist. Sophist. p. 25. But Isocrates, who had been himself a hearer of Gorgias in Thessaly (Cic. Orat. § 22), relates that he was never married, and had no children.—De Permut. § 26. 10. Another tradition however speaks of his son Philip as having been condemned by the Heliasts.—Schol. Aristoph. Av. 1700.

829. See Athen. xii. 71.

830. Addressing Socrates, among many others, he says in one place, ἀλλὰ πότερον ὑμῖν, ὡς πρεσβύτερος νεωτέροις, μῦθον λέγων ἐπιδείξω. κ. τ. λ.—Protag. i. 170. But this is nothing to what he elsewhere says: οὐδενὸς ὅτου οὐ πάντων ἂν ὑμῶν καθ᾽ ἡλικίαν πατὴρ εἴην.—Id. p. 165.—which without extreme absurdity a man could not say to a person exactly of his own age. Meiners. (Hist. des Arts et des Sciences, iii. 258), evidently refers to this passage; as does also Hardion. Dissert. vii. Bib. Acad. iii. 295. Yet it must have wholly escaped Geel, who (Hist. Sophist. p. 71) says: “Deinde nescimus quomodo efficiatur e Platonis Protagorâ, sophistam ejusdem nominis multo majorem fuisse Socrate.”

831. Diog. Laert. ix. 55. observes that, according to some writers, he died, at the age of 90, during a journey.—Geel, p. 81. It is sufficiently remarkable that most of the Sophists attained to a very great old age, and the same thing may be said generally of the philosophers of antiquity. Lord Bacon undertakes to account for the fact. Having given the palm of long life to hermits and anchorites, he says: “Next unto this is a life led in good letters, such as was that of Philosophers, Rhetoricians, Grammarians. This life is also led in leisure, and in those thoughts which, seeing they are severed from the affairs of the world, bite not, but rather delight through their vanity and impertinency: they live also at their pleasure, spending their time in such things as like them best, and for the most part in the company of young men, which is ever the most cheerful.”—History of Life and Death, p. 24.

832. Herault de Sechelles, who, had he lived, would have excelled Boswell in biography, describes with singular felicity the passion of that arch-sophist, Buffon, for the splendours of dress. Even among the peasants of Montbar, a race of primitive simplicity, the French Hippias would never appear but in an embroidered suit, curled and decorated as if at court. He had nicely calculated the effect of external appearances on the mind; and we must forgive him, since he shared the weakness with Lord Bacon and Aristotle.—See Voyage à Montbar, p. 42, seq.

833. Another example may be found in Athen. iii. 54.

834. Socrates has been confounded with the Sophists, because he frequented their company to refute them; but there was between them the same difference, as between a thief-taker and a thief.

835. Plat. Opp. iii. 444, seq.

836. Plat. Opp. t. iii. p. 245.—The amusing manner of teaching introduced by these sophists was sometimes imitated by the philosophers. Thus Theophrastus, who, before proceeding to his school, used to anoint himself with oil and perform his exercises, had recourse to extraordinary drollery for the purpose of charming his pupils, adapting all his gestures and movements to his discourses; so that when describing the manners and character of a glutton, he used, like a comic actor, to thrust out his tongue and lick his lips.—Athen. i. 38.

837. Cf. Dem. Lacrit. § 10. Sch. Aristoph. Nub. 113.

838. The modern Thrasymachos is as frank in his hatred of philosophers as the ancient. He compares their enthusiasm in favour of freedom to the virus imparted by the bite of a mad dog, imagining that nothing is so sedulously to be guarded against as liberty. He would, if possible, have the study of ancient statesmen and historians prohibited, or at least that care should be taken to counteract their maxims by the teaching of discreet sophists. “I cannot imagine,” he says, “how anything can be more prejudicial to a monarchy than the allowing of such books to be publicly read, without present applying such correctives of discreet masters, as are fit to take away their venom; which venom I will not doubt to compare to the biting of a mad dog, which is a disease the physicians call hydrophobia, or fear of water. For, as he that is so bitten has a continual torment of thirst, and yet abhorreth water, and is in such an estate, as if the poison endeavoured to convert him into a dog; so, when a monarchy is once bitten to the quick, by those democratical writers, that continually snarl at that estate, it wanteth nothing more than a strong monarch, which, nevertheless, out of a certain tyrannophobia or fear of being strongly governed, when they have him, they abhor.”—Leviathan, Pt. ii. c. 29. iii. 315. Count Capo D’Istrias, if he was ignorant of the language of ancient Greece, appears at least to have understood something of the spirit of ancient philosophy, for, designing to establish a tyranny, he prohibited the reading of Plato in the public schools. He may possibly have learned his maxims of government from Hobbes, as well as that the master of the academy deserved his hatred.—Thiersch. Etat. Act. de la Grèce, ii. 121.

839. Plat. Rep. i. § 11. t. i. p. 41. Stallb.

840. Ἔρανος. Cf. Sympos. t. iv. p. 379. Bekk.

841. Upon this point Father Paul observes:—"We must reduce under the title of justice everything that may contribute to the service of the state; for the prince has no greater justice than to preserve to himself the quality of prince, and, in order to this, to keep his subjects in a dutiful subjection to his authority."—Max. of the Gov. of Venice, chap. i. § 1.

842. Plat. Rep. t. vi. p. 34.

843. Plat. Rep. t. vi. p. 72. Bekk.

844. Id. i. t. vi. p. 44. seq.

845. Plat. de Rep. vi. 49. i. 76. Stallb. Cf. Vict. Var. Lect. iii. v.

846. Plat. Rep. t. vi. p. 52.

847. Id. vi. 290.

848. Plat. Rep. vi. t. vi. p. 289. Cf. Athen. ii. 54.

849. Plat. de Rep. vi. 293.

850. Plat. de Rep. vi. 333. Cf. Muret. Adnot. in Repub. p. 667, seq. 677, seq.

851. Athen. xiv. 67.



A different picture is presented to us by the education of the Spartans,[852] which, almost perfect in its kind, aimed chiefly at unfolding the powers of the body. Mental acquirements in the states of Doric origin were few, and the object even of these seems to have been rather connected with the developement of the animal than the spiritual nature of man, though they were not utterly destitute of all those arts and accomplishments which embellish a life of peace. Little stress, however, can be laid on the elaborate divisions of youth into numerous classes, the intention of which is not stated. There can, nevertheless, be no doubt that much art, reflection and wisdom was exhibited in the forming of the system whose object was the creation of a military character, and through this the enjoyment of the hegemonia or lead in the public affairs of Greece, an honour which Sparta attained to and held during many years.[853]

266A modern writer has correctly remarked that by permitting the state to decide on the lives of infants, the institutions of Lycurgus recognised the authority of the community to regulate, how it pleased, the education they were to receive. The authority of parents over their children was thus all but annihilated, for, although the recognition and feeling of relationship continued after the state had undertaken the training of youth, their influence was exceedingly weakened, a circumstance to which may be attributed the seeming heroism of the Spartan women, who could stoically bear the death of their sons because they had been in a great measure estranged from them.

As, however, the institutions of Lycurgus differed in all things else from those of other Grecian legislators, it is not surprising they should also differ on the subject of education. But it may greatly be doubted whether we altogether comprehend his system. The accounts transmitted to us are in many points contradictory, and it may in general be remarked that on no subject whatever do modern ideas differ so much from those prevalent in antiquity, as on the subject of education. Plutarch and Xenophon, or rather the sophist who assumed his name, two of the authors on whom in this discussion most reliance is usually placed, were prejudiced and credulous, and often, to speak frankly, extremely ignorant. Both were unwilling, even if they possessed the power, to criticise the system, and yet by modern writers their opinions have generally without scruple been adopted. Xenophon himself, as well as the sophist who here apes him, was in predilections a Spartan, and as strongly disposed to satirise and underrate the institutions of his own country as to exaggerate the merits of the Laconian. Even were the trifling essay on the Lacedæmonian republic proved to be his, we should yet lay little stress upon its testimony, unless when corroborated by the evidence of other and better writers.

Elsewhere in Greece,—observes the author of this 267tract,[854] whoever he was,—persons, the most solicitous respecting the education of their children, placed over them at the first dawn of intellectual developement, pædagogues, who at the outset undertook their instruction, and afterwards conducted them to the schools where letters, music, and gymnastics were taught. In this respect, however, as a modern writer has shown, the institutions of Sparta were in no degree superior, since Helots were there the instructors of young children; and, on this account, he rejects the story of Plutarch,[855] that they were compelled to intoxicate themselves, to exhibit to the youths a practical proof of the deformity of drunkenness.[856] It was contrary, he says, to common sense. But as common sense had very little to do with any part of the system, this is a poor argument, and will not weigh against positive testimony.

Another evil which the Pseudo-Xenophon discovers in the common Hellenic plan of training,[857] was that lads were indulged with the use of shoes, and rendered effeminate by frequent changes of clean linen, while their appetite, generally keen in boyhood,[858] was suffered to be the measure of what they ate. Lycurgus, he remarks, managed all these things differently. Instead of remaining under the superintendence of their parents, and frequenting what schools and masters they might judge proper, boys at Sparta passed under a sort of camp discipline regulated by the laws and intrusted to the guardianship of a particular magistrate, whom they 268denominated a Pædonomos. This part of the system Xenophon[859] prefers to the Athenian practice of intrusting youth to the care of servile pædagogues. The Pædonomos, however, resembled in many respects the Athenian Gymnasiarch, and, so far as I can perceive, possessed no superiority over him, except that his authority extended beyond school hours. He was, indeed, a kind of despot, vested with the power to call the boys together when he pleased, and inflict chastisement, at his own discretion, on any whom he detected exhibiting the least symptom of effeminacy. To enable him to carry his resolutions instantly into effect he marched about the town like an executioner, attended by men having whips, who at his nod seized the boy delinquent and subjected him at once to the torture. Thus possessing the power of enforcing obedience, a great show at least of reverence attended him.

The privilege of sharing the paternal cares of the Pædonomos was not rigidly confined to the sons of Spartans (πολιτικοὶ παῖδες);[860] the Mothaces also, Spartans of half blood, and even strangers might share it. Who the Mothaces were it is extremely difficult to determine. Some contend that they were slaves brought up in the family.[861] But Athenæus, and Phylarchos whom he quotes, state most distinctly that they were free, ἐλεύθεροι μέν εἰσί. In order to remove the unfavourable impression made on mankind by the accounts transmitted to us of Spartan slavery, it has been pretended that they, as well as the Neodamodes, were Helots. Of the Neodamodes, however, the very author on whom reliance is placed asserts the contrary. They were originally slaves indeed, he says, but different from the Helots, ἑτέρους ὄντας τῶν εἱλώτων. With respect to the Mothaces,[862] notwithstanding the testimony of Hesychius and other grammarians, it seems clear that they were the sons of free though poor Laconians, who, desirous 269of obtaining for them the rights of Spartans, sent them to be the companions of such youthful citizens as would consent to receive them. It is moreover added that the youth, according to their means, chose one, two, or more of these companions; which shows that although the right of controlling the studies of its children was vested in the state, the expenses, in whole or in part, devolved upon the parents.

The Mothaces, or Mothones as they are sometimes called, were identical with the σύντροφοι:[863] but the τρόφιμοι were such youthful strangers—for example, the sons of Xenophon[864] and Phocion—as, by submitting to the severities of Spartan discipline, acquired the freedom of the city, the privilege of aspiring to political distinction, and, according to some writers, even a share of the land. This, if true, would render credible the statement of the philosopher Teles,[865] who affirms that even Helots, by the means above described, could rise to the rank of Spartans; while they who in this point disobeyed the laws, were they even the children of kings, sank to the condition of Helots, and of course forfeited their estates, otherwise there would have been no land to bestow on the military neophytes. Three of the most remarkable men in Spartan story, Lysander, Gylippos, and Callicratidas were Mothaces, whose fathers were obscure.[866] It will be seen that we have here the original of that system of education sketched by Xenophon in his Persian Utopia, and designed to recommend monarchy to his countrymen, as that of Sir Thomas More was framed for the contrary purpose.

According to the laws of Lycurgus the heir-apparent 270to the throne was exempted from the necessity of mixing with his fellow-citizens in the public schools, though the younger members of the royal family occupied the same level with other boys.[867] That this was an unwise regulation, however, will be at once evident, since no man stands so much in need of severe discipline as a prince, who in spite of correction is too apt to be guided by his unbridled passions. Fact, too, bears out this view, for two of the noblest sovereigns of Sparta, Leonidas and Agesilaos, had been subjected, while boys,[868] to the correction of their teachers.

It has been already remarked that the spirit of Spartan education was severe. It was, in fact, precisely the same as that which, in the last generation, pervaded the discipline of the Seneka and Mohawk Indians, and produced those numerous examples of patience, fortitude, and magnanimity, together with that force, agility and suppleness of body so greatly admired and, perhaps, envied by civilised nations. It was this stern and martial system that constituted the secret model, according to which Locke fashioned his plan of youthful training, designed rather to produce a sound mind in a sound body than to shatter and enervate the latter by the piling up in the brain of miscellaneous and often useless knowledge. But in his attempts at hardening the frame and rendering it invulnerable to the stings of suffering, our countryman did not dare to go the lengths of the Spartan legislator, who in this, at least, exhibited superior wisdom, that he did not consider the chastisement of stripes to have any tendency towards creating a base and servile habit of mind.[869]

Consistently with the general aim of his institutions, Lycurgus, instead of ordaining, like Locke, that his alumni should wear leaky shoes, dispensed with the incumbrance altogether. And, certainly, 271in a soldier, the habit of trampling with the naked foot on ice and snow and the sharpest rocks, is worthy of acquisition.

Institutions are generally based on the actual circumstances of society. Lycurgus legislated for a people to whom it was important to be able easily to climb steeps, or descend them with a sure foot, to spring forward also, to run, to bend, and perform innumerable acts of personal dexterity. He, therefore, commenced with boyhood the inculcating of those habits and exercises which their manhood would imperatively require of them.

It has been seen that for change of linen an especial aversion was entertained at Sparta. Children were, therefore, taught to be content with one clean shirt per annum, at the termination of which period it was probably as well peopled as the Emperor Julian’s beard, particularly as, during all that time, it was considered low and unfashionable to bathe or make use of the ordinary ointments, an indulgence permitted to them but for a few days in the course of the year. All this time, however, they might more properly, perhaps, be said to be shirtless, since the himation only was left them, the chiton being taken away.[870] They were compelled also, as incipient soldiers, to lie hard on pallet beds, made with the tops of reeds collected, perfunctorily, without the help of the knife or dagger, from the banks of the Eurotas. To this, as an especial indulgence, they were in winter permitted to add a quantity of thistle-down, which material was supposed to contain much warmth.[871]

The initiation into these accomplishments commenced at the age of twelve. At the same time, acting upon the Galenian maxim, that “a fat stomach makes a lean wit,” the boys were reduced to short commons, the Bouagor, or leader of the juvenile troop, being instructed to pinch them as closely 272as possible on that score, in order that when the chances of war should reduce them to the necessity of subsisting on famine rations, they might be prepared without murmuring to submit to it. Persons so educated, moreover, would be little delicate in the choice of provisions. Anything, from a sea hedgehog to a snail, would suit their stomachs; and it would be hard indeed if war could ever place them in circumstances where such food as they were accustomed to might not be found. Health, too, and light spirits, as Lycurgus well understood, are the offspring of an abstemious diet. The spare warrior, clean-limbed and agile, would leap round the man puffed out and bloated with overfeeding, and, therefore, to be fat was at Sparta an offence punishable at law.[872] However, not to be too hard on the young gentlemen, it was always permitted, when hunger grew troublesome, to have recourse to what, for want of a fitter name, we must call stealing.[873]

In modern times it would be thought a poor compliment to any system of education to represent 273it as an admirable method for rendering a man an accomplished thief. But the Spartan sophists, whose wisdom Plato, in a jocular mood, so greatly extols, held a different theory. They did not undertake the teaching of morals, but such habits as became a soldier, among which thieving always maintains a distinguished place. Xenophon, however, is careful to guard us against the supposition that this habit of appropriation arose from want. The object of the legislator was, without the incurring of moral guilt, to nourish all the useful habits commonly found in a thief,—as, the power to watch by night, to wear the mask of honesty by day, craftily to lay snares, and even to set spies upon the individual to be plundered. To men designed to spend their lives in war such qualities are, doubtless, of the highest importance, since they enable them to procure provisions and overreach the enemy.[874] To this practice Xenophon alludes in the Anabasis, where the army is placed in circumstances of much difficulty. “I understand,” he says to Cheirisophos, “that among you Lacedæmonians the habit of stealing is carefully cultivated from childhood; and that, so far from being disgraceful, it is considered a necessary accomplishment, so long as you keep within the bounds prescribed by law. When detected, however, it is equally lawful to be scourged.”[875]

Were they scourged, then, for stealing? Not at all, but simply for being caught; and Xenophon is right in remarking, that, in all human arts, they who unskilfully perform what they undertake are punished, and so should a bungling thief.[876] The passage immediately following is mutilated or inextricably corrupt,[877] but, from an attentive examination, it would appear that the boys detected on these occasions were selected to be flogged[878] during the 274festival of Artemis Orthia, or Orthosia, whose altar was thus annually smeared with human blood. This impartial superstition extended its empire over all ranks and conditions of men, servile or free, from the beggar to the prince; for here, we are told, Helots had sometimes the honour to be scourged in company perhaps with a scion of the Eurypontid or Agid kings. At Alea, in Arcadia, women, by the command of an oracle, were subjected to the same discipline. “Here,” says Pausanias,[879] “during the festival of Dionysos women, by command of an oracle, were flogged like the youth of Sparta at the altar of Artemis Orthia.”

The above ordinance of Lycurgus led in the next instance to the hybernation of the youth upon the mountains:[880] to inure them still further to hardships, and, practically to teach them the art of providing for themselves, they were sent forth with a roving commission to prowl about the highlands and less frequented parts of Laconia, armed for self-protection, and that they might be able to bring down their game. At first, perhaps, they confined themselves within the limits prescribed by law. But almost of necessity they would become involved in quarrels with the Helots, by plundering whose farms and villages they chiefly subsisted. The Helots would sometimes resist and sometimes resent their incursions. 275Ill blood would be engendered. Hot and fiery youths, abandoned to their own guidance, would easily discover excuses for cruelty and revenge. From quarrels they would proceed to blows—from blows to assassination; and beaten, perhaps, by day, they would fall suddenly on the defenceless peasants in the dead of night, and butcher whole hamlets to avenge an affront offered to them perhaps by an individual. Thus, out of a custom blameless enough in its origin, grew the terrible institution of the Crypteia,[881] or annual massacre of the Helots, denied by some modern writers, but too well authenticated, and too much in keeping with the Spartan character and general policy, to allow of our indulging in any scepticism on the point.

But, in addition to the above, there were other branches of education taught at Sparta,—that is gymnastics and music. Writers, desirous of enhancing the mental acquisitions of the Dorians, adhere somewhat too strictly to the meaning often affixed by the Greeks to the word music, which they employed to signify literature. But Xenophon, in his treatise on the Lacedæmonian Commonwealth, appears invariably to use it in its limited and modern signification.

To gymnastics the Dorians, upon the whole an unintellectual people, were naturally much addicted,—far too much according to ancient writers; but here again their modern historian steps in to their defence. He will have it, that it was in later times that they became philogymnasts, and quotes Dion Chrysostom as if he was the principal witness. Plato, to be sure, is referred to as a parasitical authority, and so is Aristotle;[882] but then the latter only says, that their constant 276violent exercises rendered them brutal, in which the historian appears to discover no harm. “This want of moderation, however, though it occurred in later times, is never perceivable in the maxims and ideas of the Dorians, who in this, as in several other cases, know how to set bounds to youthful ardour, and check its pernicious effects.”[883] This, it appears to me, is the language of an apologist. If they had such knowledge, how culpable must they have been not to check it in the matter of the Crypteia?

It may be observed, however, that though they devoted to gymnastics too much of their leisure, the fault lay in them, not in the system of exercises, which was in itself one of extreme beauty and simplicity. Its object,—which it was excellently calculated to attain,—was not to create athletæ but soldiers, not gigantic strength, but an elastic, agile, beautiful frame, adapted for all the movements of war. Boxing, accordingly, and the pancration[884] were banished from their gymnasia, a regulation evincing at the same time their wisdom and their taste; the former being the most barbarous and useless, the latter the most unseemly portion of gymnastics, often exhibiting the antagonists rolling and struggling, like savages or animals devoid of reason, on the ground.

As the ancient idea of education included every thing employed to develope the powers of body or mind, we must regard in this light the military games peculiar to the Spartans and Cretans.[885] Among the former the youth, having sacrificed to Ares in a temple at Therapne, passed over into an island dyked round and called Platanistas, where, dividing off into separate parties, they engaged in a contest which 277wanted nothing but arms to render it a genuine battle. A learned historian, seldom sparing of words, avoids describing this interesting scene; and wherefore?—Because a faithful description of it must convey a striking idea of Spartan ferocity. “They exerted” says he, “every means in their power to obtain the victory.”—Exactly; but what were those means? “Adolescentium greges Lacedæmone vidimus ipsi indibili contentione certantes, pugnis, calcibus, unguibus, morsu denique; quum exanimarentur priusquam se victos faterentur.[886]” Yet were these battles carried on under the eyes of magistrates, the five Bidiæi[887] appointed to superintend these exercises as well as those performed elsewhere. The little island where they fought was a spot of great natural beauty, encircled by a sheet of clear water, and approached on all sides through thick and lofty groves of platane trees. A bridge thrown over the canal led to the island on both sides, and on the one stood a statue of Heracles, on the other of Lycurgus. This battle was reckoned among the institutions of the latter, and under the protection probably of the former. The preliminaries to the fight were as follow. They first sacrificed in the Phœbaion which stands without the city, not far from Therapne. Here each of the two divisions of the youth offered up a dog’s whelp to Ares, the bravest of domestic animals, sacred in their opinion to the bravest of the Gods. No other Grecian people sacrificed the dog excepting the Colophonians, who offered up a black bitch to Hecate. In both cities the sacrifice was performed by night. After the ceremony two tame boars were brought forward, one by each party, which they compelled to fight; and they whose brute champion proved superior, thence augured that victory awaited them in the Platanistas. On the following day, a little before noon, they entered by the bridges into the island, one party by one bridge, the other by the other. But the choice was not left to them, having been determined 278on the preceding night by lot. Being arrived, they faced each other, and commenced the battle, striking with the fist, kicking, leaping on each other, tearing one another with their teeth, and gouging after the most approved Kentucky fashion. Thus they struggled, man to man, urging forward together and thrusting each other into the water.[888] From these words, as well as from the testimony of Cicero cited above, it is clear the combat was conducted with no other arms than those furnished by nature, though Lucian, misemploying the verb ὁπλομάχειν,[889] would lead us to a different conclusion. But this kind of battle is always enumerated among the gymnastic exercises or contests; and what necessity would there have been to have recourse to fists, feet, teeth, and nails, had they been permitted the use of arms? Fatigued with this violent exertion they betook themselves for a short time to repose, refreshed by which they resumed their exercises, dancing in most intricate measures to the sound of the pipe.[890] Akin in spirit to the contests in the Platanistas were the ever-recurring battles fought by the young men with the three hundred followers of the Hippagretæ; three inferior magistrates appointed by the Ephori, who selected each one hundred followers from among the healthiest and bravest of the youthful population. Against this chosen band all the other young men of the city were bound by custom to make war; and, but that they could be parted by any citizen who might happen to be passing by, it is probable that these fierce boxing matches would often have terminated fatally.

Similar customs prevailed in Crete, where, as in most other parts of Greece, the business of education appears to have commenced at the age of seven years, when the cake called Promachos was given to the boys, because, as it has been conjectured, they were thenceforward to be trained for fighting. Up to the age of seventeen they were denominated Apageli, 279since they were not until then admitted into those Agelæ[891] or bands, in which they thenceforward performed their exercises. Here, as in Sparta, the greatest possible care was taken to extirpate from the character every germ of effeminacy. They ate whatever food was given them squatting on the ground, not being permitted to join their elders at the board, and went abroad in all weathers clad in a single garment, like the boys of Sparta during their hibernation. However, the youth of the several Agelæ, armed with stones, and iron weapons, marching to the sound of flutes, and assailing each other, converted their exercises into something very like real warfare. Our cudgel-playing, single-stick, &c. are pastimes of the same description; and boxing now nearly exploded, can plead classical precedent. They were habituated, says Ephoros, to labours and arms, and taught to despise both heat and cold, rough roads and cliffs, and the blows they received in the gymnasium and their mock battles. The use of the bow formed part of their education, as well as the armed dance, at first taught by the Curetes, and afterwards named the Pyrrhic; so that a warlike spirit breathed through the whole system of their education.[892]

With all these facts before him, though many of them he has suppressed, the historian of the Doric race, in direct contradiction to Plato and Aristotle, contends naïvely that it would be erroneous to conclude that the aim of bodily exercise among the Dorians was war, or that in their result they rendered the youth either brutal or ferocious. Their object, in his opinion, was to obtain something like ideal beauty of form, strength, and health, which, he says, they accordingly attained, being, about B. C. 540, the healthiest of the Greeks and most renowned for beautiful men and women. But Xenophon whom, on the subject of health he quotes, does not authorise his superlative:—"It 280would not be easy," are his words, “to find healthier or more active men.”[893] Again, the language of Herodotus by no means bears him out. He, indeed, affirms that Callicrates, a Spartan, was the handsomest man in the army at Platæa, but says nothing of the Spartans being handsomer than the other Greeks; but rather the contrary. He was not merely the handsomest man among his countrymen, but, which he evidently considered more remarkable, among all the other Greeks.[894]

Not, however, to insist on such points as these, let us proceed to examine the intellectual cultivation of the Dorians.[895] That the art of writing never flourished very generally at Sparta appears to be on all hands admitted, though we can by no means doubt that among them numerous individuals possessing this accomplishment might always be found. Thus, in the old story of the combat of the three hundred Spartans and Argives, it is related that Othryades, the sole survivor of the Laconian band, having remained last on the field of battle, erected a trophy and wrote upon it with his blood Λακεδαιμόνιοι κατ᾽ Ἀργείων, immediately after which he died of his wounds.[896] Generally, however, no great stress was laid on a knowledge of the art of writing, which, in the opinion of some authors, was of comparatively little value where the people were taught to chant their laws as well as their songs. Similar customs and regulations prevailed on this head in Crete, where, nevertheless, letters appear to have been viewed with a more favourable eye.[897] In addition 281to their body of legal poetry, which was probably less voluminous than a metrical version of the statutes at large, the youth were taught to sing hymns in honour of the gods and the praises of illustrious men.[898] In music, too, they were permitted to make some proficiency, though generally, we are told, it was their ambition to excel rather in the regularity of their manners than in the extent of their acquirements.

With respect to the Spartans it is probable, though the testimony of ancient writers be sufficiently contradictory, that no great stress was laid even on the ability to read; for, while Plutarch[899] conceives this art to have been among their ordinary acquirements, Isocrates, a grave and more competent authority, is decidedly of the opposite opinion.[900]

Ælian,[901] too, coming in the rear of Plutarch, observes that the Lacedæmonians were ignorant of mental culture (μουσικῆς) meaning evidently as Perizonius has already observed, not “music” as Kühn would translate it, (for in this they were learned,) but a knowledge of poetry and eloquence.[902]

That the Spartans were noted for their indifference to literature, is well known. Even Xenophon, their apologist, instituting a comparison between their system of education and that prevailing among the other Greeks, observes that the latter sent their boys to school that they might learn their letters, music, and the exercises of the palæstra, while the former placed them under the care of a grave man who might punish them if slothful and inactive, and 282inculcate great modesty and obedience in lieu of the usual accomplishments. Plato also, in the Greater Hippias,[903] having observed that their laws were averse from the reception of foreign learning, adds immediately after that the majority of them were even ignorant of arithmetic. In another place,[904] indeed, the philosopher appears to hold a different language, and is literally understood by Perizonius. But the reader who examines the passage attentively, will probably agree with me in considering it nothing more than one of those profoundly ironical strokes in which, above all writers, he abounds. He in fact remarks, what in another sense may have been very true, that no countries were more fertile in sophists than Crete and Lacedæmon, but that they dissembled their wisdom and feigned ignorance, lest they should appear to excel all their countrymen in sapience, of which in reality there was very little danger. He observes, however, no less ironically, that those rude and unrhetorical nations were of all men most philosophical and eloquent, and that it had long been understood by a great many that to laconise, or act the Spartan, was rather to be a philosopher than a diligent student of gymnastics. Perizonius,[905] indeed, conceives that all this is to be understood of natural sound sense, applied to morals and those brief and pithy sayings or λογοὶ, which constituted the science of laconics.

But, after all, there never was, as Cicero observes, a single orator among the Spartans; nor could it be otherwise, since all the arts which beget and foster eloquence, and, more important still, every political institution which favours it, were unknown in their state. Nay, so far did they push their aversion for the oratorical art, that if any citizen of Sparta acquired, in his experience abroad, the 283skill artificially to wield a syllogism or a trope, he was subjected to punishment,[906] while rhetoricians were expelled the city.[907] Ignorance, therefore, of whatever learned nations prize, was their chief boast. To them the sublime speculations of the Academy, and the logic, sharp and irresistible, of the Lyceum, were equally strangers; yet their discipline, and the habits of youth, imparted to them what in modern jargon is termed a kind of practical “philosophy.” They understood the great art, at least among them, how to command their passions; as Maximus Tyrius[908] relates of Agesilaos who, though educated in no school of philosophy, was nevertheless not a slave to love, which therefore the sophist infers could not be a matter of great difficulty. However there were limitations to their aversions for learning. They opened in their state an asylum for those antique teachers of mankind, the poets,[909] proscribed by Plato, and were in this respect so superior in good taste to that philosopher, that they at length, in imitation of the Great Preceptors of Greece, instituted public recitations of Homer. And this, Maximus Tyrius adduces as a proof that many well-constituted states had existed in which Homer was not publicly studied, for he could not mean that he was once entirely unknown at Sparta.[910]

Into the character of the Greeks, generally, there entered an element but faintly discernible in the moral composition of modern nations, I mean a most exquisite and exalted sensibility, which rendered them to the last degree susceptible, and liable to be swayed irresistibly for good or for evil by poetry and music. 284And this characteristic distinguished in some degree the Doric as well as the Ionic race. They could be excited, past belief, by the agency of sound. Music, therefore, with us at least a mere source of enjoyment, among them was invested with a moral character, and employed in education as a powerful means of harmonising, purifying, ennobling the principles and the affections of the heart. For this reason the government, which in Greece was in reality a Committee of Public Safety,[911] watched over the music no less sedulously than over the morals of the people, which it powerfully influenced. It must, nevertheless, be confessed that many ancient authors are little philosophical in relating or reasoning upon the effects of music. They often confound consequences with causes. Thus, in the example which certain authors undoubtingly adduce of the Sicilian Dorians,[912] whose morals we are told were corrupted by their fiddlesticks, they omit to inquire whether it was not rather the natural and necessary degeneracy of a wealthy people, which corrupted the music. This is my interpretation. For, in the history of the ancient Sicilians, I can discover causes enough of lax and imperfect morals, without calling in the aid of lyre or cithara. But some writers on this point have an easy faith. They suppose that the strict domestic discipline of Sparta “would hardly have been preserved”[913] without the old-fashioned music.

In whatever way we decide on the metaphysics of the matter, certain it is that in old times music was an universal accomplishment in most parts of Greece; but this was when it was little more than the chanting of savages, in which, however ignorant, 285any one may join. Exactly in proportion as it rose into an art its cultivators diminished in number, until, when a high degree of perfection had been attained, it was abandoned almost wholly to professional musicians. The Athenians had been commanded by the Pythian oracle to chant chorically in the streets, a divine service in honour of Bacchos.[914] At Sparta similar performances took place during the gymnopædia, when choruses of naked men and boys, with crowns of palm leaves on their heads, proceeded through the streets singing the songs of Thaletas and Alcman and the pæans of Dionysidotos.[915] Mr. Müller, who loves to complete or round off the accounts he finds in ancient authors, says that, doubtless, a large portion of the inhabitants of the city took part in these exhibitions. Perhaps they did, but we have no authority for such a supposition. The place in the agora which contained statues of Apollo, Artemis and Leto, was called Choros,[916] because there the Ephebi danced in choruses in honour of Apollo. On these occasions unwarlike persons were sometimes thrust into the least honourable places,[917] while bachelors were excluded; so that, as Schneider has well remarked, cowardice was less dishonourable than celibacy. But it does not at all appear that the Spartans themselves were ever good musicians, though they were not incapable of relishing good music;[918] and hence the foreign musicians who flocked thither found a welcome reception. The developement of the warlike constitution of the state threw the favourable side of their discipline into the shade.[919]

The Arcadians, likewise, made great use of music in their system of education, and, though otherwise a rude race, continued to practise it up to the age of thirty. Among them alone, in fact, were children 286accustomed from infancy to sing, in certain measures, hymns and poems, in which they celebrated the praises of the gods and heroes of their country. After this, observes Polybius,[920] they learned the nomoi of Timotheus and Philoxenos, and every year during the Dionysia formed choruses in the theatre, where they danced to the sound of the flute. Here boys contended with antagonists of their own age, and the young men with those more advanced towards their prime. During the whole of their lives they frequented these public assemblies, where they instructed each other by their songs, and not by means of foreign actors. With respect to other branches of education they considered it no disgrace to profess themselves ignorant; but not to know how to sing would, in Arcadia, have been a mark of extreme vulgarity. They habituated themselves to walk with gravity to the sound of the flute, and, having been thus instructed at the expense of the state, proceeded once a year in public procession to the theatre. Their ancestors introduced these customs, not with any view to pleasure, or that they might grow rich by the exercise of their talents, but in order to soften the austerity of character which their cold and murky atmosphere would otherwise have engendered. For the character of nations is invariably analogous to the air they breathe, and it is the geographical position of races which determines alone their temper of mind and the colour and configuration of their bodies.

Besides what has already been said of the Arcadians, it may be added, that it was customary among them for the men and women to unite in chanting certain odes, and to offer up sacrifices in common. There were also dances in which the youth of both sexes joined, and their object was to create and diffuse humane and gentle manners.

But the same habits were not prevalent throughout 287the whole country. The Kynæthes made no progress in these humanising arts, and as they dwelt in the rudest districts of Arcadia, and breathed the crudest air, their ferocity became proverbial; they addicted themselves to strife and contention, and degenerated into the fiercest and most untameable savages in Greece. In fact, obtaining possession of several cities, they shed so much blood that the whole nation was roused, and at length united in expelling them the land. Even after their departure the Mantinæans thought it necessary to purify the soil by sacrifices, expiations, and the leading of victims round the whole boundary line.

Dancing very naturally constituted a separate branch of education at Sparta as in Crete. In both places the execution of the Pyrrhic appears to have been regarded as a necessary accomplishment, the youths, from the age of fifteen or earlier, having been taught to perform it in arms.[921] It was or is—for the Pyrrhic still lingers in Greece,

“Ye have the Pyrrhic dance as yet—”

an exhibition purely military. The dancers, accoutred with spear and shield, went gracefully and vigorously through a number of movements, wheeling, advancing, giving blows or shunning them, as in real action.[922] In other parts of Greece, however, the Pyrrhic quickly degenerated in character, becoming little better than a wild dance of Bacchanals.[923] It has been rightly observed that at Sparta “the chief object of the Gymnopædia was to represent gymnastic exercises and dancing in intimate union, and, indeed, the latter only as the accomplishment and end of the former.”[924] One of the dances, resembling the Anapale, partook of a Bacchanalian character.”[925] 288The youth, also, when skilled in these exercises, danced in rows behind each other to the music of flutes, both military and choral dances, at the same time, repeating an invitation in verse to Aphrodite and Eros to join them, and an exhortation to each other.[926]

It will be seen from the above details that the object of education at Sparta was rather the formation of habits and the disciplining of the mind to act in exact conformity with the laws, than to develope to their fullest extent the intellectual powers of individuals. They desired to amalgamate the whole energies of the people into one mass, upon the supposition that being thus impelled in any particular direction they would prove irresistible. No account was made of private happiness. Everything seems to have been devised for the effecting of national purposes, though from the known laws of the human mind even the restraint and tyrannical interference of such a system would with time be reconciled to the feelings and contribute to individual content. But very much of what renders life sweet, was sacrificed. Letters and arts, that subordinate creation, that world within a world which the beneficence of Providence has permitted man to call into existence, were at Sparta unknown. They enjoyed little or nothing of that refined delight which arises from multiplying the almost conscious fruits of the soul, from sending winged thoughts abroad to move, enchant, electrify millions, from deifying truth and confounding error, from ascending to the greatest heights of mortality, and diffusing from thence a light and a glory to warm and illuminate and gladden the human race for ever. This greater felicity was reserved for the education of Athens, which must, therefore, in all enlightened times, bear away the palm of excellence and utility.



It behoves us now to quit the circle of studies, which, taken together, are commonly supposed to constitute the whole of education, and consider the influence exercised by other elements on the minds of the Hellenic youth. Even in these days we speak intelligibly and correctly of that experience which young men gain on their first entrance into life, from travel and fashionable society, as of a particular stage in their education, it being during that period that they learn to estimate the value of their school acquirements, how advantageously to conceal or display them according to circumstances, and to bend the neck, perchance, of their lofty theories and sublime speculations to the yoke of the world. But in Greece this was more palpably the case; for, though escaped from the formal rule of preceptors and pædagogues, the youth had still to master several departments of study, either by their own independent exertions or under the guidance of judicious friends: I mean those infinitely varied creations of art and literature, which, as they are in harmony with them or otherwise, confirm or subvert the principles and discipline of the schools.

Thoroughly to comprehend, therefore, the nature and extent of that sway which the state and its institutions directly or indirectly exerted over the minds of the citizens, it is necessary briefly to inquire into the character of the plastic and mimetic arts which found encouragement in the Grecian commonwealths, and afterwards to examine for a moment 290the stores of thought and sentiment and passion, and piety and virtue, which the literature and religion of Greece laid open to the contemplation of those who were entering upon the career of life. We shall begin with the arts, as they were the inculcators of the principle of the beautiful, advance next to literature, the teacher of wisdom and patriotism, concluding with religion, which opened up to their view a prospect, though dim, of heaven, and directed their footsteps thitherward.

It is certain that, to the generality, the vast superiority of the Greeks in the arts, which like an universal language need no translation, is more palpable and apparent than their superiority in literature; though Demosthenes be in reality as much above any orator, Thucydides above any historian, Plato above any philosopher, Homer above any epic poet, Milton perhaps excepted, who has since written, as Pheidias, or Polycletos, or Praxiteles rose above any sculptor of the north. Nor can we account for this any more than we can explain why Shakespeare was superior to Ford or Massinger. Nature infused more genius into their souls. They loved or rather worshiped the beautiful. It breathed within and around them: their minds were pregnant with it, and, when they brought forth, beauty was their offspring. Thus Aristophanes[927] insinuates, that even the gods borrowed much of their majesty and splendour from the human mind, when he says, that heaven-born peace derived her loveliness from some relationship to Pheidias.

Religion, in one sense, may be called the parent of the fine arts; but it would perhaps be more philosophical to consider religion and the arts as twin sisters, both sprung from that yearning after the ideal which constituted the most marked feature in the Hellenic mind. We must carry back our investigations very far, if we would discover them radiant with loveliness 291in their cradle; but when they issued thence it was to shed light over the earth, a light derived from the skies. For man does not originate his ideas of the beautiful, which fall like images from heaven on the speculum of his mind; he gives back but what he receives. The conception of beauty is an inspiration, a thing which does not come when called upon; or rather, shining on all, it is lost on the dull and opaque fancy, and is reflected only from the luminous and bright.

Man needs companionship always, and the creative and imaginative make to themselves companions of their own ideas, and clothe them in material forms to render the illusion more complete. There is an impassioned intercourse between the soul and its offspring. We love nothing like that which has sprung from ourselves, and in this we are truly the image of God, who saw all things that he had made, and, behold, they were very good. And he loved his creation; and from him we inherit, as his children, the love we bear to our creations. Hence the enthusiasm for art, hence the power and the inspiration of poetry. They are not things of earth. They are the seeds of immortality ripening prematurely here below; and therefore we should love them. They are the warrant, the proof that we are of God; that we are born to exercise an irresistible sway over the elements; that our thrones are building elsewhere; that in the passion for whatever is spiritual we exhibit instinctively indubitable tokens that spirits we are, and in a spiritual world only can find our home.

It does not belong to this work to attempt a history of Grecian art, which in a certain sense has been already written. My object, if I can accomplish it, is to describe the spirit by which that art was created and sustained, and this I should do triumphantly if love were synonymous with power; for never, since the fabled artist hung enamoured over the marble he had fashioned, did any man’s imagination cleave more earnestly to the spirit that presided over Grecian art, 292not the plastic merely but every form of it, from the epic in poetry and sculpture down to the signet ring and the drinking song. But the thing is an ample apology for the enthusiasm. There, if anywhere, we discover the culminating point of human intellect and human genius;—there

“The vision and the faculty divine”

meet us at every step. Even the fragments of her literature and her art are gathered up and treasured in all civilised countries, as if the fate of our race were mystically bound up in them. And so it is: for when we cease to love the beautiful, of which they are the most perfect realisation we know, our own race of glory and greatness will have been run: we shall be close on the verge, nay, within the pale of barbarism.

Socrates used to say, that whatever we know we can explain; but not so always with what we feel. There is in the ideal of beauty, which formed the vivifying principle of Greek art, a certain subtile and fugitive delicacy, a certain nameless grace, a certain volatile and fleeting essence, which defy definition, and, rejecting the aid of language, persist in presenting themselves naked to the mind. And by the mind only, and only, moreover, by the inspired mind, can they be discerned.

It was in the attempt, however, to chain this spirit, and to imprison it in durable forms, that all the poetry and arts of Greece consisted. They beheld within them a world of loveliness, of living forms which knocked at the golden door of fancy, and demanded their dismissal from the spiritual to the material universe. All their studies were but how to dress these celestial habitants in fitting habiliments to go abroad in; and their lives were often spent in the throes of creatures big with immortal beauty. It is a privilege to the world to converse with minds of such a nature. It is ennobling to approach them. Their energy, their vivifying power continues ever active, ever operating, and if high art 293be ever to flourish and command, not admiration, but love in England, it can only be by kindling here the lamp removed from Greece, but essentially Greek, that is, essentially beautiful.

The proof that religion issued with art from the same womb in Greece, and was not its parent, is supplied by every other country. There is religion elsewhere, while nowhere is there art like that of the Greeks. But religion had nevertheless much to do with the forms in which the creative faculty there developed itself, as it invariably has with whatever is great or beautiful among men. The persuasion arose in them that the inhabitants of Olympos could be represented by material forms, and as they found their own reverence for the divine being represented, augment in proportion to the beauty or grandeur of its image, the conclusion was natural that the deity himself would be pleased by the same rule, so that their piety was their first and most powerful incentive to excellence. They hoped to recommend themselves to the gods, as they did to their countrymen, by the greatness of their workmanship; and veneration from without, and piety from within, united in urging them forward. And this, with the poet equally as with the artist, inflamed the desire to excel.

There are, as has already been observed,[928] three periods in the history of art: 1st. that, in which the necessary is sought; 2ndly, that in which the study of the beautiful is pursued; and 3dly, the period of superfluity and extravagance. But in some countries men appear to pass from the first to the third, without traversing the second. Thus, in Egypt, Persia, Etruria, in Germany, Holland, France, England[929] the wild, the grotesque, the terrible have been 294aimed at, seldom the beautiful. Even in Italy, where in modern times art has taken firmest root and most luxuriantly flourished, the object sought to be attained has lain on a lower level. Among the northern nations the grotesque variously disguised or modified is the spirit of art; among the Italians it is voluptuousness, among the Greeks the beautiful. Hence no Greek statue of the flourishing period of art is indecent.[930] Naked it may be, but like the nakedness of infancy, it is chaste as a mother’s love. Our thoughts are instantly carried away by it to the regions of poetry; the soft influence of the ideal descends like dew upon our fancy; we are elevated above the region of the passions to heights where all is sunny and calm and pure. The beautiful is chaste as an icicle, yet warm as love. It breathes in Raffaelle’s virgins which we regard as some “bright particular star,” things to inspire a holy affection, a love not akin to earth. Yet this beauty is not distanced from us by its severity: no! but by its intense innocence, by its unsullied purity, by its inexpressible concentration and mingling up of maternity and girlhood. It was this beauty that Milton sought in his Comus to express, when he represents chastity as its own guard. And this is preëminently the spirit breathing 295through Grecian art. In the Artemis, in the Athena, nay, even in Aphrodite or Leda, or an orgiastic Bacchante, the overruling sense of beauty, after the first flutter of sensation, hurries the imagination far beyond all considerations of sex or passion. The root of all the pleasures we feel, seems to be hidden under the load of three thousand years, not because the things are old, but because they are the material representatives of a period when the foot of the beautiful rested on the earth.

No doubt we come prepared to regard them with eyes coloured, and a fancy haunted by the beauties of Grecian literature. Possibly, it is under the spell of Homeric verse that our eyes grow humid with delight at the aspect of Aphrodite, that we behold divinity in Zeus or Phœbos Apollo; but this only proves that the fragments of Hellenic civilisation throw a light upon each other, and are parts of one great whole. Perhaps, too, no man ever enjoyed the sculpture of Greece as he should, unless conversant with her poetry—the right hand of her art. In this we find the first seeds and increments of those ideas, which were afterwards transplanted and bore fruit in another field. We discover, therefore, but half the subject when we see only the sculpture. It is unknown to us whether the artist has fulfilled the conditions into which he entered, by undertaking to clothe in marble, thoughts already invested with the forms of language. Hence the little sympathy between Hellenic art and the people generally of modern nations. The figures they behold are dumb to them. To a Greek, on the contrary, or to a man with a Greek’s soul, a thousand sweet reminiscences, a thousand legends, a thousand dim but cherished associations appear clustering round them. Every time they flash upon him, he lives his youth over again. The briery nook, the dewy lanes, the dim religious forests, the pebbly or wave-fretted shore, where the poetry of Greece first opened its eyes upon him in boyhood, sweep in procession over his 296fancy. He starts to see the hamadryad or the faun or the mountain nymph, before him but one remove from life; to him art speaks not merely in an intelligible, but in an impassioned tongue. He comprehends all the mysteries she has to reveal, and loves her because in a land as it were of foreigners they can converse with each other, and speak of the past and the future.

It is scarcely philosophical to regard poetry, sculpture, and painting, as the offspring of pleasure, though pleasure in some sense be as necessary to man as food. Man possesses creative and imitative faculties, and must, at certain stages of society, employ them. The moment his merely animal wants are provided for, he begins to feel that he has others which demand no less imperiously their gratification. First, he desires to clothe with material forms the things he worships, and hence the first-born of art are gods. At the outset, indeed, (and this is a strong argument against their having borrowed their arts from the East,)[931] the Greeks were content with setting up rude stones, as symbols rather than representations of their divinities; then followed the head upon a rude pillar; then, the indications of the sex; next, the round thighs began to swell out of the stone; to these succeeded legs and feet; and, lastly, arms and hands completed the figure. Dædalos, a mythological personage, is supposed to have been the first who carried the art to this point of improvement. His figures were of wood, and already executed with considerable skill, though they would have been despised in the days of Socrates.[932]

For some ages, perhaps, a stiff, unanimated manner, not unlike the Egyptian, prevailed; but the impulse, once given, went on increasing in strength. 297One improvement imperceptibly followed another. Artists, together with their experience, acquired professional learning, the results of which soon became visible in their productions. Movement and variety of position succeeded. But though knowledge of art was enlarged and strict rules laid down, there still remained a hard, square massiveness in the style, resembling what we find in modern sculpture as improved by Michael Angelo. And this manner became the type of the Æginetan school, which expressed the character of the Doric mind, powerful but rude, harmonious but heavy, wanting in grace, wanting in elegance, and aiming rather at effect than beauty.[933]

Numerous causes, however, concurred in ripening the principle of art in Greece,—the climate, the form of government, the happy taste of the people, and, lastly, the high respect which was there paid to artists. Nor is it at all paradoxical to affirm, that moral causes concurred powerfully with physical, in begetting that radiant beauty of countenance which distinguished the nation. The consciousness of freedom and independence produces satisfaction in the mind; the serenity thus originated communicates itself to the features; thence arise harmony and dignity of aspect and mien; these are so many elements of beauty, and such feelings long indulged would operate powerfully on the countenance, and, seconded by the tranquillising influences of external nature, end by creating symmetry and proportion, which, joined with intellect, are beauty. Artists in such a country, besides that they must themselves involuntarily be impressed with a veneration for it, would soon discover the reverence paid to beauty and the value set upon accurate representations of it.

Of the high estimation in which beauty was held innumerable proofs exist in Greek literature. At Ægion in Achaia, the priest of Zeus was chosen 298for the splendour of his personal charms, to determine which a sort of contest was instituted. This office he held till his beard began to appear, when the honour passed to the youth then judged to excel[934] in the perfection of his form. So, also, at Tanagra, the youth selected to bear the lamb round the walls in honour of Hermes was supposed to be the first for beauty in the city.[935] Of the involuntary power of beauty history has recorded various instances. Phrynè, accused of impiety and on the point of being condemned, obtained her acquittal through the hardihood of her advocate, who bared her bosom before the judges. Another example is said to have been afforded by Corinna, sole poetess of Tanagra, who, contending with Pindar for the prize of verse, obtained the victory more by her beauty, (she being the loveliest woman of her time,) and the sweetness of the Æolic dialect in which she wrote, than by the greatness of her genius.[936]

In another instance heroic honours were paid to a man after death for the beauty of his person.[937] This happened at Egestum in Sicily, where Philippos, a native of Crotona, obtained this distinction, which Herodotus observes never fell to any other man’s lot before.[938]

It was to its artists that Greece delegated, at least in some instances, the privilege of deciding on the rival pretensions of the fair and beautiful. They were permitted to select from the loveliest women of the land models for their female divinities, and at other times made their mistresses the representatives 299of goddesses. Pains were taken, by filling their apartments with beautiful statues, to impress upon the imagination of pregnant women the perfect forms of gods and heroes, as of Nireus, Narcissos, Hyacinthos, Castor and Polydeukes, Bacchos and Apollo.[939] This was at Sparta. In other parts of the Peloponnesos a species of Olympic contest for the prize of beauty took place, instituted, it is said, by Cypselos, an ancient king of Arcadia. Having founded a city in the plain on the banks of the Alpheios, in which he fixed a colony of Parrhasians, he dedicated a temple and altar, and instituted a festival in honour of Eleusinian Demeter, during which the women of the neighbourhood disputed with each other the prize, and received from some circumstance connected with the contest the name of Chrysophoræ. The first woman who won was Herodice, wife of the founder Cypselos. This institution flourished upwards of fourteen hundred years, having been established in the time of the Heracleidæ, and still existing in the age of Athenæus.[940]

A similar practice prevailed in the islands of Tenedos and Lesbos, where likewise the ebullitions of vanity were concealed beneath the veil of religion. The exhibition took place in the temple of Hera, to whom, as the goddess of marriage, beauty should be dear. Priapos, however, was in some places supposed to be the deity who awarded the prize of loveliness in the Callisteia, on which account Niconoë, a Bacchante perhaps, dedicated to him her fawn-skin and golden ewer.[941] But the ladies were not singular in these displays. For among the Eleians, 300who had as favourable an opinion of themselves as Oliver Goldsmith, a similar show took place, and the pretensions of the male candidates were as carefully sifted as if they had been to take academical honours on their figures. And honours in fact they did take. They were presented with a complete suit of armour, which the winner consecrated with extraordinary pomp and rejoicing in the temple of Athena, whither he was led garlanded with fillets by his triumphant friends. According to Myrsilos, he was likewise decorated with a myrtle crown.[942]

In some places, not named by historians, a contest was instituted which, though unconnected with the arts, we will intreat the reader’s permission to introduce here, for its extraordinary nature. This was a contest in prudence and good housewifery, in which certain barbarian nations followed the example. And, to show that character and mental qualifications were properly esteemed by the Greeks, it is added by Theophrastos[943] that it is these that render beauty beautiful, and that without them it is apt to degenerate into wantonness. Winkelmann, who has noticed several of these facts, is betrayed into some errors. He speaks of an Apollo of Philesia[944] at whose festival a prize was bestowed on the youth who excelled in kissing. The contest took place under the inspection of a judge, he supposes, at Megara. Meursius, though under the name of Diocleia he notices the Megarean festival, overlooks the writer who gives the fullest account of it;—I mean the scholiast on Theocritus, who observes that Diocles was an Athenian exile who took refuge at Megara. In a battle in which he was engaged, he fought side by side with a friend, whose life he saved at the expense of 301his own. He was interred by the Megareans, who instituted an annual festival in his honour, where the youth who excelled his companions was crowned and led in triumph to the arms of his mother.[945]

The exercises, discipline, and moral notions of the Greeks had doubtless much effect on their form; for in the decline of their states, when despotism had succeeded to freedom, and vice to virtue, beauty became exceedingly rare. Cotta, in the De Naturâ Deorum, observes that he found few handsome youths at Athens, where in the age of Demosthenes the most beautiful in Greece flourished;[946] and Dion Chrysostom observes that in his time there were scarcely any that could be so considered.[947]

If we come now to the other causes which account for the progress of the arts in Greece, we shall find the principal of these to have been the high consideration and esteem[948] in which artists were held. Riches, no doubt, obtained credit there as elsewhere, but not to the exclusion of other recommendations as in modern Europe, or at least in England. Winkelmann scarcely comprehends the irony of Socrates, however, when he supposes him seriously to mean that artists alone were wise; though, since the sage had himself been a sculptor, he had some reason to think well of them. It is, nevertheless, perfectly true that men of this profession might become legislators or generals, or even behold a statue erected to them beside those of Miltiades and Themistocles, or among the gods themselves.[949] The historian of art observes with pride that Xenophilos and Straton were permitted at Argos to place their own statues, even in a sitting posture, near those of Asclepios and Hygeia.[950] Cheirisophos, who sculptured the Apollo at Tegea, dedicated in the same fane a statue of himself in marble, which was 302erected close to his great work.[951] The figure of Alcamenes occupied a place among the bassi-rilievi on the temple of Demeter at Eleusis. Parrhasios and Silanion shared the reverence paid to their picture of Theseus; and Pheidias affixed his name to his Olympian Zeus, the nearest approach perhaps which the arts have ever made to perfection.[952]

If the satisfaction of beholding a whole nation, I might say a whole world, smitten with delight and wonder at his performance, would repay an artist for years of toil and study, Pheidias had his reward. And not to the narrow circle of his life was this admiration confined; for six hundred years after his death pilgrims from all parts of the civilised world flocked to Olympia[953] to behold his matchless performance; for to die without having partaken of this enjoyment was considered a misfortune. But neither praise, nor encouragement, nor honour, nor gain will suffice to bring the arts to perfection. To ensure this, the nation to which the arts address themselves must comprehend their language. For, if the people be incapable of deciding when an artist has succeeded and when he has failed, it is very certain that he will seldom succeed at all. Men soon find the uselessness of producing what no one around them can appreciate. Even in the matter of virtue and vice, few will soar very high in countries where a low standard of morals prevails generally; and, in the arts, no one will devote himself to the creation of forms which he knows will be dumb to the public eye.

In Greece every condition required to ripen the genius of an artist existed. He knew that his reputation and fortune would depend on the caprice of no particular individual or class of individuals. He perceived among his countrymen at large the knowledge, 303the taste, and the enthusiasm which just decisions in art demand, and laboured fearlessly for them, not doubting that he should obtain the reward his genius merited. There were public exhibitions, as among us, both at Corinth and at Delphi;[954] but, instead of converting them into a sordid traffic, the whole world was invited to behold their performances, and judges were appointed to decide upon the merits of the exhibitors. Instances no doubt there were of artists showing their performances for money: at least the memory of one example has come down to us. Zeuxis of Heraclea, having finished his picture of Helen, opened an exhibition and fixed a certain admission price, by which he cleared a large sum of money; but to mark their disapprobation of such conduct, his contemporaries bestowed on his picture the name of the courtesan.[955]

In the public exhibitions they appear to have looked solely to merit, and not to have allowed themselves to be dazzled by great names; for when Panænos, brother of Pheidias, entered the lists, neither his own reputation, nor that of the illustrious sculptor, could obtain for him the preference over Timagoras, who was allowed to have excelled. A like spirit prevailed among the judges of Olympia, whither artists sometimes brought their pictures during the games to delight assembled nations, and reap a harvest of joy and glory in a day. Thus when Ætion appeared with his “Marriage of Alexander and Roxana,” before the Hellanodicos Proxenides,[956] he not only obtained the credit due to his genius, but that magistrate, more emphatically to express his admiration, bestowed on him the hand of his daughter. And Lucian, who had seen the picture in Italy, has left a description of it which justifies the enthusiasm of Proxenides.

I have already in a former chapter accounted in some measure for the diffusion of a correct taste among 304the great body of the people. It formed with them an indispensable branch of study. The arts of design were cultivated by the philosopher, the politician, in short, by every one who claimed to be considered a gentleman.[957] Nay, gentlewomen also enjoyed these advantages, and instances are recorded of their arriving at professional excellence and celebrity; for example, Timarete,[958] daughter of the younger Micon, an Athenian, and Helen an Alexandrian Greek, who painted the “Battle of the Issos,” afterwards consecrated in the temple of Peace.[959] It was in the nature of things, that artists moving in such a moral atmosphere should partake largely of the national grandeur of sentiment, and look rather to the perpetuation of their name than to any sordid considerations of gain, above which they were elevated by the form which the national gratitude assumed. For we may be sure that what is related of the great historian of Halicarnassos was, to a certain extent, true of great artists. Men pointed at him, we are told, as he moved through the public assemblies, exclaiming, “That is he! That is the man who has celebrated our victories over the Barbarians!”

Winkelmann, who understood human nature no less than the arts, enumerates similar facts among the causes why art flourished in Greece;[960] and though sometimes mistaken, as in so large a work was to be expected, his reasoning generally, and his illustrations, deserve that every lover of art should be familiar with his writings.

This distinguished historian, however, is not sufficiently guarded in his expressions, when he contends that the productions of art were consecrated solely to the deity or to public utility; for, though they were principally directed to these ends, many individuals possessed collections in their houses,[961] which were by no means the humble dwellings he supposes. However 305the public constituted the great patron of art, and uniting in itself natural aptitude, acquired knowledge, and an inherent leaning towards grandeur, communicated to those who laboured to gratify it corresponding taste and elevation. In many cases the whole population of a city identified its own glory with that of some celebrated picture or statue within its walls. Olympia, though peopled by works of art of surpassing excellence, still looked upon the Pheidian Zeus[962] as the apex of its glory; and even Athens, where probably more objects of art were crowded together than in any other city of the world, the colossal statue of Athena stood preëminently the ornament of the Acropolis. In one respect we have begun to imitate the Greeks, who often erected by general subscription the statue of a divinity, or of some Athletæ victorious in the sacred games. Some minor cities are solely remembered for the works of art they contained: for example, that of Aliphera which owed its celebrity entirely to its statue of Athena in bronze, the work of Hecatodoros and Sostratos.[963]

Winkelmann supposes that both sculpture and painting arrived earlier at a certain degree of perfection than architecture, and, assuming the fact, proceeds philosophically to account for it. But his theory itself, on this point, appears to be erroneous. In Egypt, at least, where the mind would necessarily be guided by the same laws as in Greece, it is certain that while sculpture and painting never escaped from the swaddling bands of infancy, architecture advanced to a very high degree of perfection. The force of necessity, which leads to the creation of architecture, communicates a far more lasting impulse than the instinct of imitation. Men must everywhere build to protect themselves from the fury of the elements; and the first step thus made, and leisure supervening, that sense of 306proportion and symmetry and arrangement, which is almost an instinct, would soon lead to the contemplation of the ideal and the creation of architecture as an art. Sculpture sprang later into existence, and still later painting; but like the children of one family,—of whom some are older, others younger,—all the arts flourish nearly together, and nearly together decay. Nevertheless we may subdivide this period into minuter cycles, when we shall find that architecture and sculpture reached almost like twins their acme together, while, like a younger sister, painting attained its greatest beauty when the former two had fallen something from their perfection. Thus, the Zeus of Pheidias and the Hera of Polycletos, two of the most celebrated statues of antiquity, already existed, while Hellenic painting exhibited no knowledge of chiaro-scuro and was wholly destitute of harmony.

Apollodoros and after him Zeuxis, master and disciple,[964] who flourished about the ninetieth Olympiad, were the first who rendered themselves remarkable for a knowledge of light and shade.[965] But, arrived at this pitch, the beauty of the art began to be felt, picture galleries were commenced in various temples,[966] and, a new world of forms and colours disclosing itself to the imagination, the versatile Greeks transferred to it a large share of the admiration hitherto monopolised by sculpture. Painting, in fact, speaks a more popular language. It tells a story, while sculpture can but embody a thought or fix an incident. Its accessories realise events more completely. The Apollo, in sculpture, has bent his bow and discharged his 307arrow—the remainder of the action the imagination must shape for itself. Painting gives us the whole scene teeming with life,—the writhing dragon, the rocks, the woods, the mountain, the sky, with all the illusions spread before the eye by many-coloured light. Sculpture furnishes the nucleus of glorious associations, but ’tis we that must group them into sublime beauty. It asks more knowledge, more fancy, more in short of every element of genius in its admirers than does painting. Hence the latter will always number, and justly, more partisans. In most persons a preference for sculpture would be mere affectation. It cannot equally please the many.

However, in proportion as the public became more enlightened, and, to justify its admiration and enthusiasm, imposed harder conditions on artists, the latter enlarged the circle of their studies, which gradually expanded until it embraced a certain portion of metaphysics, the science of form and colours, with that art of grouping and arrangement which constitutes a species of narrative in painting. A complete exposition of their studies would be the best manual which could be put into the hands of contemporary artists, and at the same time would furnish the best explanation of their seemingly inexplicable superiority. But such an exposition would be out of place here. My object is simply to hint at what may be done, not to attempt it myself; and to show, that if the Greek nation afforded encouragement to its artists, it was because those artists met their countrymen more than half way, and laboured to deserve encouragement.

There existed in Greece a philosophy of art, that is, a perfect theory of what its object is, and of all the means by which that object may be accomplished. Now the object of art is delight, a delight which aggrandises and ennobles the mind, and such delight is only to be obtained through the contemplation of the beautiful. This conviction established, the studies of the Greek artist were directed 308to the discovery of the elements of the beautiful, not such as it exists in the original types of the intellectual world (which he abandoned to the philosopher), but such as we find it in material developements of the ideal, and chiefly in the forms of our own species.

Their researches, conducted in a philosophical spirit, by degrees taught them that perfect beauty, like perfect happiness, consists in absolute serenity and repose. Thus, the heavens are beautiful when in the noon of a summer’s day their blue depths are unstained by a cloud, and not a breath is heard among the trees. Thus, the ocean is beautiful when the most perfect calm broods upon it, and has smoothed down every ripple and converted it into a mirror for reflecting the cerulean purity of the sky. And this is what the poets signify when they represent Aphrodite, the very soul of beauty and of love, springing up from the level and glittering surface of such a sea. In the same state the human countenance is most beautiful, when every feature in the most perfect equilibrium breathes of calm, joy, and serenity, and by the force of sympathy converts all who approach it into so many mirrors reflecting its absolute bliss. This is the secret of that beauty which exists in Grecian sculpture.

It was a maxim of Greek philosophy, that the magnanimous man is seldom, under any circumstances, disturbed. In action, therefore, he would exhibit the same tranquil countenance as when at rest. Thus, Socrates at Potidæa, at Delion, in the Prison of the Eleven about to quaff the hemlock, would in looks be much the same. And this self-command, observable in one great man, art attributed generally to the gods and heroes, who, in whatever actions they might be engaged, would still retain a self-possessed and serene aspect. Hence, even the battle-pieces of the Greeks are beautiful. Men fight and die, but under the guidance of duty. We behold none of those demoniacal passions, nothing 309of that animal ferocity, or of that succumbing to pain which convert so many modern pictures into slaughter-house representations. We feel that the actors contemplated death only as the distributor of imperishable glory,—that imagination had coloured everything around them with its rainbow tints,—that by anticipation they enjoyed the panegyric which would be pronounced over them in the hearing of all they loved,—the monument which would be raised over their ashes,—the deathless reward which would be bestowed on their patriotism and valour in the historic page. To men, so feeling and so thinking, where was the sting of death? They could compress eternity into a moment, and grasp all future time, and live through it by the irresistible force of imagination.

To be able to represent such forms and features, it was necessary to study simultaneously the conceptions of the poets, and the progressive developement of the human figure from infancy to age. From this study resulted a body of experience, the fruit of innumerable comparisons, out of which sprang that gradually corrected and improved and elevated conception of the human figure which is denominated the ideal. Instances, isolated from the great body of artistic study, have crept into ordinary books, and been thereby invested with an air of vulgarity. But this will not hinder the philosopher or the artist from including them in his scheme of study and converting them into germs of utility. In this part of their progress religion stepped in to the aid of the artist. The several goddesses represented each a style of women of whom they might be considered the original type. Aphrodite, for example, represented the impassioned and tender,[967] naturally parasites 310of man and too often frail; Hera, the chaste matron, dignified, authoritative, energetic, but inclined to violence and self-will; Artemis, reserved, modest, retiring, like a nun, was the prototype of unspotted maidenhood, revered for its own purity; Athena, perfect in intellect as in form, uniting the loveliness of Aphrodite, the majesty of Hera, the delicacy and chastity of Artemis with the wisdom of Zeus, constituted properly the ideal of womanhood, loftier than Eve before the fall and such as it can exist only in the imagination.

In search, however, of female forms to represent these ideal originals artists travelled through the whole of Greece, gathering up as they went those fragments of beauty which, when united, were to approach perfection. They resembled Isis in search of the limbs of Osiris. Sometimes, as at Crotona and Agrigentum, parents did not scruple to expose their daughters naked to their eyes, that from them they might fashion that loveliness which was to represent to their senses the divine being they worshiped. But this excess of superstition was rare. In general the Hetairæ, their mistresses and companions, served for the models after which the soft divinities of Greece were moulded:

“If Queensberry to strip there’s no compelling,
’Tis from a handmaid we must take a Helen.”

Thus Phryne, idealised by art, became Aphrodite, Anadyomene in the hands of Apelles, or Aphrodite of Cnidos in those of Praxiteles.

Childhood obtained its representative in Eros the god of love. Thus, from infancy upwards, even to old age, the human form in all its phases became the object of study to the Greek artist, not to be servilely copied, but to be idealised, to be clothed with poetry, to be divested of everything mean, gross, unspiritual, and embalmed in eternal beauty. And their success is proved by this, that, even with their works before them, modern artists have never 311been able satisfactorily to imitate their excellences. Of this Winkelmann[968] mentions some examples which have not come under my own notice. “Although the best modern artists,” he says, “have striven to imitate exactly the celebrated Medusa of the Strozzi cabinet at Rome, which, nevertheless, is not a countenance of the highest beauty, an experienced antiquary will always be able to distinguish the original from the copy.” The same thing is true, he says, with respect to the Pallas of Aspasios, engraved by Natter and others. But this is perfectly intelligible. The original artist, working after his own ideas and comprehending thoroughly his own object, would impart to his creations a flexibility, a grace, a freedom, not to be reached by one whose type existed out of his own mind. For even in literature it is thus—language, malleable, expansive, obedient to control in the hands of the original writer, who breathes into it his own ideas and requires it only to drape them, becomes a stiff unmanageable mass with the imitator like a corpse put in motion by galvanism.

To be conversant with the arts of Greece, is to move among a race of gods endued with eternal youth. In the goddesses the small neck, the undeveloped bosom convey the idea of virgin innocence. The nipple shrinking inward retreats from the eye. Over the visage a radiance indescribable appears to play; the form, whether draped or undraped, suggests the idea of divine unfleeting existence—of the poetry of life and love—such as youth dreams of in its purest aspirations. For the gods our feelings are in a slight degree different. Zeus, invested with the majesty of Olympos, in the fulness of manhood, powerful, beautiful, sublime, awakens in us a mingling of reverence and love, as towards a father. Apollo towers like an elder brother above our heads. Hades, Poseidon, Ares are powers whom 312we do not love. Mighty they were, but strangers whom our sympathies do not cling to. But Dionysos, with his vine garland and beautiful face of friendship, with Eros and Heracles and the heroic twins and Hephæstos and Seilenos, and the Fauns, with every haunter of grove, or spring, or mountain seem familiar all and formed to inspire and repay affection. They are spirits of joy every one of them. They have lived from boyhood in our dreams, they have constituted one principal link in binding us to the past, one principal argument in favour of Grecian genius: and who can do otherwise than love them? Nay, in some measure, when we consider their manifold escapes from time and barbarism, they appear to us as Othello to Desdemona—we “love them for the dangers they have passed,”—and it asks no faith in miracles to persuade us that they “love us that we do pity them.”

Winkelmann, who on so many questions connected with art has put forward opinions highly just and philosophical, appears to have fallen short of his wonted acumen in the theory he had formed of the beauty of the goddesses. His language in fact descends to puerility where he says:—"Since on the subject of female beauty there are few observations to be made, it may be concluded that the study of it is less complicated and far easier for the artist. Nature itself appears to experience less difficulty in the formation of women than of men, if it be true that there are born fewer boys than girls."[969] Since the direct contrary is true, this imaginary difficulty of Nature (not to hazard a more sacred word) may be dismissed with contempt; but the remark by which it is ushered in requires to be confuted. Artists are well aware, and Winkelmann himself admits, that the beau ideal of heroic beauty (that for example of Achilles or of Theseus) is merely the blending of feminine loveliness 313with masculine power, so as to leave it undetermined, from the countenance, to which sex it belongs. And still the beauty of the Grecian youth, where they are beautiful, consists in a near approach to that of the female, so near indeed that they might be easily mistaken for women. If, therefore, the beauty of men when highest and most perfect, consists chiefly in what it borrows from that of woman, the latter necessarily constitutes the apex of human beauty; and the artist whom this conviction guides in his creations, will be the first to rival the great masters of antiquity. Another observation which it is strange to find in the Historian of Art, is that artists draped their female figures because of the little difficulty there is in imitating the naked form. But was it the extreme facility of representing paternal grief that led Timanthes to veil the face of his Agamemnon? In draping their goddesses and heroines, artists were guided by other reasons, of which the principal was their desire to conform to the ideas of the poets and to popular belief.

852. See Müll. Dor. ii. 313, sqq. Cf. Pfeiff. Ant. ii. 57. p. 370.

853. To destroy the power of Sparta the Achæans could imagine no better means than to change their system of education.—Plut. Vit. Philop. § 16. Paus. vii. 8. 5. The Mityleneans, too, desirous of breaking the military spirit of certain of their allies, forbade them to give the least instruction to their children.—Ælian, V. H. vii. 15. With the same view the Emperor Julian closed the public schools against the Christians.—Gibbon, iv. 111. Among our ancestors, too, when a blow was meditated against Dissenters, no measure more severe could be devised than to deprive them of education.—Lord John Russell, Hist. of Eur. i. 273.

854. Rep. Lac. ii. 1. Cf. Pfeiff. Ant. p. 370.

855. Lycurg. 28. Müll. Dor. ii. 39. Commonly, also, the nurses of the kings were Helots.—Plut. Ages. § 3.

856. Plut. Inst. Lac. § 29.

857. De Rep. Laced. ii. 5. Cf. Plut. Lycurg. § 17.

858. And keen it must needs have been before they could have relished their black broth, with a dose of which Dionysios once made an experiment upon his stomach. Having put a spoonful of the compound into his mouth, he instantly spat it out again, declaring that he could not swallow it, for it was the filthiest stuff he had ever tasted; upon which his Spartan cook remarked, “You should have first bathed in the Eurotas.”—Plut. Inst. Lac. § 2.

859. De Rep. Lac. ii. 2. Lycurg. § 17. Cf. Hesych. v. Παιδονόμος.

860. Athen. vi. 102.

861. Müll. ii. 314.

862. Harpocrat. v. Μόθωνες.

863. De Rep. Lac. iii. 3. 3. Schneid.

864. Diog. Laert. ii. c. vi. § 10. Xen. Hellen. v. 3. 9. Plut. Ages. § 6.

865. Ap. Stob. Florileg. 40. 8. Gaisf. Cf. Plut. Inst. Lac. § 21, 22. Athen. vi. 103. Müll. Dor. ii. 315. note p.—In Xenophon’s Persian Utopia such citizens as were too poor to maintain their children at school lost the benefits of public training; but, according to law, the advantages of the Spartan system were open to all.—Arist. Polit. iv. 9.

866. Ælian, Var. Hist. xii. 43.

867. Plut. Ages. § i.

868. Müll. Dor. ii. 315.

869. On the democratic tendency of Spartan discipline see Bœckh. in Plat. Min. 181. sqq. Isocrat. Areop. § 14–16.

870. Plut. Lycurg. § 17. Inst. Lac. § 5. Xen. de Rep. Lac. ii. 4.

871. Plut. Inst. Lac. § 10.

872. Ælian. V. H. xiv. 7. Plut. Inst. Lac. § 13. Athen. xii. 74.—Apropos of this subject, the ancients have left us a very curious anecdote. Dionysios, son of Clearchos, the first tyrant of Heraclea, having succeeded to the government of his country, became insensibly so corpulent by his daily excess and extreme niceness in the choice of his viands, that he was nearly suffocated by the enormous mass of his fat. Every time he fell into a deep slumber it was feared he would never wake again; and, to rouse him from his lethargy, the physicians were often compelled to thrust long, sharp needles into his body until they reached the quick, upon which he would again exhibit signs of animation. Of this prodigious obesity his majesty was so much ashamed, however, that, when transacting business or giving audience to strangers, he would ensconce himself behind a large trunk, so that no part of him was visible but his face. Yet, in spite of this infirmity, he lived fifty-five years and reigned thirty-three; and, to the honour of corpulence be it remarked, that no tyrant ever before exhibited so much mildness and moderation.—Id. xii. 72.

873. Xen. Rep. Lac. ii. 6.—This writer observes, that what might be filched was determined by law.—Anab. iv. 6. 14. And Plutarch explains, that they might take as much food as they could.—Inst. Lac. § 12.

874. Xen. de Rep. Lac. ii. 7.

875. Anab. iv. vi. 14.

876. De Rep. Lac. ii. 8.

877. Schneid. in Xen. de Rep. Lac. ii. 9.

878. Sometimes to death.—Plut. Inst. Lac. § 39. Vit. Aristid. § 17. Pausan. iii. 16. 6. Sext. Empir. Pyrrh. Hypot. iii. 24. p. 153. c. Spanheim ad Callim. in Dian. 174. The Scholiast on Pindar derives this name of Artemis from Mount Orthion or Orthosion in Arcadia.—Olymp. iii. 54. Cf. Lycoph. 1330. with the Schol. of Tzetzes. Schol. Plat. de Legg. p. 224. Ruhnk.

879. Arcad. viii. 23. 1. Meurs. (Græc. Fer. p. 256,) understands sese flagellabant.

880. The Platonic Scholiast confounds this practice with the Crypteia, so called, he says, because the youth were compelled to conceal themselves while they subsisted on plunder. Ἀπολύοντες γὰρ ἕκαστον γυμνὸν, προσέταττον ἐνιαυτὸν ὅλον ἔξω ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσι πλανᾶσθαι, καὶ τρέφειν ἑαυτὸν διὰ κλοπῆς, καὶ τῶν τοιούτων, οὕτω δὲ ὥστε μηδενὶ κατάδηλον γενέσθαι· διὸ καὶ κρύπτεια ὠνόμασται· ἐκολάζοντο γὰρ οἱ ὅπου δήποτε ὀφθέντες.—Ad Legg. p. 225. Ruhnk.

881. For a fuller account of this institution see Book V. Chapter VIII.

882. Polit. viii. 3. 3.—To this may be added the testimony of Plato, who evidently, without naming them, means to describe the Spartans, where he speaks of a people wholly given up to the study of bodily exercises, and by that means becoming brutal and ferocious.—De Rep. t. vi. p. 154.

883. Dorians, ii. 319. seq.

884. Ταῦτα μόνα μὴ κωλύσαντος ἀγωνίζεσθαι τοὺς πολίτας, ἐν οἷς χεὶρ οὺκ ἀνατείνεται.—Plut. Lycurg. § 19. The exercises, in which the admission of being vanquished was made by holding up the hand, are elsewhere named:—Πυγμὴν δὲ καὶ παγκράτιον ἀγωνίζεσθαι ἐκώλυσεν, ἵνα μηδὲ παίζοντες ἀπαυδᾷν ἐθίζωνται.—Reg. Apophtheg. Lycurg. 4. Apophtheg. Lacon. Lycurg. 23.

885. Müll. ii. 26.

886. Cic. Tusc. Disput. v. 27.

887. Paus. iii. 11. 2.

888. Paus. iii. 14. 8. sqq.

889. Anachars. § 38.

890. Cf. Ubb. Emm. Antiq. Græc. iii. 89. sqq.

891. Ἀγέλη for the boys, συσσίτιον for the men.—Strab. x. 4. p. 379. Müll. (Dor. ii. 326.) uses both indiscriminately.

892. Strab. x. 4. p. 380. seq.—This agrees with what Plato relates of the Cretan polity.—De Legg. t. vii. p. 260. t. viii. p. 86.

893. De Rep. Lac. v. 9.—At a later period the reputation of being the handsomest men in Greece was enjoyed by certain young men of Athens.—Æschin. cont. Tim. § 31.

894. Herod. ix. 72.

895. Cf. Ælian. Var. Hist. xii. 50.

896. Stob. Florileg. vii. 67.

897. Plut. Inst. Lac. § 14. seq.—The Spartans sacrificed to the muses before going to battle in order that they might perform something worthy of notice by them.—Id. § 16. It is remarked of king Cleomenes that he studied philosophy under Sphæros the Borysthenite who was likewise permitted to impart his system to the other youth.—Id. Cleom. § 2.—Cf. Diog. Laert. vii. 6.

898. In later times learning grew to be more highly valued. Thus it was ordained by law that the youth should assemble annually in the Hall of the Ephori to hear the work of Dicæarchos on the constitution of their country read to them.—Suid. v. Δικαίαρχ. t. i. p. 730. d.

899. Inst. Lac. § 4. Lycurg. § 16.

900. Panathen. § 83. Τοσοῦτον ἀπολελειμμένοι τῆς κοινῆς παιδείας καὶ φιλοσοφίας εἰσιν ὥστ᾽ οὐδὲ γράμματα μανθάνουσιν.

901. Var. Hist. xii. 50.

902. So again in Ælian. Var. Hist. iv. 15. Gelo, king of Syracuse, an illiterate person is termed ἄμουσος.

903. T. v. p. 418.

904. Protag. t. i. p. 209.

905. Not. ad Ælian. xii. 50.—From an ironical passage of Plato we may likewise infer that they were able genealogists and story-tellers.—Hipp. Maj. t. v. p. 419.

906. The laws of Sparta were in this respect, as in many others, merely imitations of those of Crete.—Sext. Empir. adv. Mathemat. l. ii. p. 68. Plutarch having remarked that they did learn to read, adds—τῶν δὲ ἄλλων παιδευμάτων ξενηλασίαν ἐποιοῦτο, οὐ μᾶλλον ἀνθρώπων ἢ λόγων.—Instit. Lac. § 4.

907. Cressol. Theat. Rhet. i. 12. p. 88.

908. Dissert. ix. p. 118.

909. Cf. Athen. xiv. 33.

910. Dissert. vii. p. 91.

911. Plut. Inst. Lac. § 17.

912. Max. Tyr. iv. p. 54. Cic. de Legg. ii. 15.—Cicero, though apt in most cases to defer to the opinion of Plato, hangs back here. He does not, indeed, consider it a matter of indifference what songs are sung, or what airs prevail in a state; but neither does he credit the inferences drawn too subtilely by the great philosopher from his musical theory.

913. Dorians. ii. 340.

914. Demosth. in Mid. § 15.

915. Athen. xv. 22.

916. Paus. iii. 11. 9.—Müller, ii. 341., supposes the whole agora may have been thus denominated.

917. Xen. de Rep. Lac. ix. 5. Plut. Lycurg. § 15.

918. Aristot. Pol. viii. 5.

919. Cf. Müll. Dor. ii. 342.

920. iv. 20. 7. Athen. xiv. 21. seq.

921. Athen. xiv. 29.—The armed dance was in particular favour with Plato.—De Legg. vii. t. viii. p. 17. Boys danced in armour during the Panathenaia at Athens.—Sch. Aristoph. Nub. 935.

922. Plat. de Legg. vii. t. viii. p. 54.

923. Athen. xiv. 29.

924. Müll. Dor. ii. 351.

925. Creuz. Com. Herod. i. 230.

926. Lucian de Saltat. § 10. seq.

927. Pac. 614. seq.

928. By Winkelmann, Hist. de l’Art, i. 2.

929. It is remarked by Winkelmann that Rubens painted the figures of Flemings after many years’ residence in Italy.—i. 60. The Greek grew up from infancy in the presence of the beauty he afterwards represented: his mother, his sisters, his father, and all around him. What he saw constituted the basis of what he painted or sculptured. In most modern nations the school models of our youth are Greek; but their home models, and which are to them models from the cradle, are of a different style. Hence they are under two sets of influences, the one neutralising the other, and producing that coldness which the mock classical exhibits. This may, perhaps, be one cause of the slow progress of art among us.

930. Plato, jocularly perhaps, bestows the same praise on Egyptian art, and Muretus seriously adopts his notions: “Meritoque Ægyptios commendat Plato, apud quos et pictorum et musicorum licentia legibus coërcebatur, quod permagni interesse judicarent, ut adolescentes à teneris annis honestis picturis, et honestis cantibus assuefierent.”—In Aristot. Ethic. p. 249. But perhaps Plato had not looked very narrowly into the sacred sculptures of Egypt which in reality abound with images offensive to decency.

931. See Winkel. t. i. p. 7.—Pollux gives a list of the names under which the representations of the gods were classed.—i. 7.

932. Plat. de Repub. t. vi. p. 354. Cf. Hipp. Maj. t. v. p. 410.—Winkelmann slightly misinterprets the sense of Plato.—Hist. de l’Art, t. i. p. 12.

933. Cf. Winkelmann, t. i. p. 22.

934. Paus. vii. 24. 4.

935. Id. ix. 22. 1.

936. Id. ix. 22. 3.

937. Euripides, speaking of course as a poet, pronounces beauty to be worthy of supreme power. But many ancient nations were seriously of this mind, and chose the finest person among them to be their king: which was the practice of those Ethiopians called the Immortals.—Athen. xiii. 20. If by Ethiopians be meant the people now known under the name of Nubians, I am sure they had very good reason to encourage beauty, than which there is, at this day, nothing more rare in their country.

938. V. 47.

939. Opian. Cyneg. i. 357. sqq.

940. Deipnosoph. xiii. 90. Eustath. ad Il. τ. 282. relates briefly the same facts, concluding with the very words made use of by Athenæus. Palmerius, who, in his remarks on Diogenes Laertius quotes them, immediately adds: “quæ non dubito Eustathiun ab aliquo auctore antiquo accepisse.”—Exercit. in Auct. Græc. p. 448. In which conjecture he was right; and that ancient author was Nicias in his history of Arcadia.

941. Schol. ad Il. ι. 129. Cf. Meurs. Gr. Fer. p. 177. Hedyl. in Anth. Gr. vi. 292. Athen. xiii. 90.

942. Athen. xiii. 90.

943. Ap. Athen. xiii. 90.

944. Lutat. ad Stat. Theb. viii. 178. Cf. Barth. iii. 828. Hist. de l’Art, i. 319. Carlo Fea with a simplicity rare in an Italian, remarks upon this: “Il est question ici de baise-mains!” The Apollo intended is Apollo Philesias, whose statue was sculptured in Æginetic marble by Canachos.—Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxiv. 19. 14.

945. Sch. in Theocrit. xii. 28.

946. Æschin. cont. Tim. § 31.

947. Orat. 21. t. 1. p. 500. sqq. Reiske.

948. At the same time the earnings of inferior sculptors were small.—Luc. Somm. § 9.

949. Cf. Plut. Thes. § 4.

950. Pausan. ii. 23. 4.

951. Pausan. viii. 53. 8.

952. Id. v. 10. Wink. iv. 1. § 12. p. 332.

953. Εἰς Ὀλυμπίαν μὲν ἀποδημεῖτε ἵν᾽ εἰδῆτε τὸ ἔργον τοῦ Φειδίου· καὶ ἀτύχημα ἕκαστος ὕμων οἴεται, τὸ ἀνιστόρητον τούτον ἀποθανεῖν.—Arrian. Com. in Epict. l. i. p. 27.

954. Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxv. 35.

955. Ælian, Var. Hist. iv. 12. Cf. Meurs. ad Lycoph. Cassand. 131. p. 1189. and Val. Max. iii. 7.

956. Lucian. Herod. § 4.

957. Diog. Laert. iii. 5.—Aristot. Pol. viii. 3.

958. Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxv. 35.

959. Phot. Bib. p. 149.

960. Hist. de l’Art, l. iv. c. 1. § 13.

961. Galen, Protrept. § 8. t. i. p. 19.

962. On the interior of this statue inhabited by rats and mice. See Luc. Som. seu. Gall. § 24.

963. Polyb. iv. 340. d. Winkel. iv. 1. 15. The Eros of Thespiæ, also, and the Aphrodite of Cnidos, were famous. Luc. Amor. § 11. seq.

964. Winkel. iv. 1. 16.

965. Quintil. xii. 10. Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxv. 36.

966. In the Stoa of Dionysos, at Rhodes, there was a picture gallery filled with historical and mythic pieces.—Luc. Amor. § 8. Similar exhibitions appear to have existed at Cnidos, in the portico of Sostratos.—§ 11. Works of art, sacred to the gods, were likewise treasured up at home.—§ 16. In some temples, we learn, even pictures of immoral tendency, by Parrhasios and others, were admitted.—Lobeck, Aglaopham. p. 606. Aristotle takes from this circumstance occasion to sneer at the religion of paganism which patronised such excesses.—Polit. vii. 15. p. 255. Gœttl.

967. An ancient author has the following expression: οὐκοῦν τὸ θῆλυ, κᾄν λίθινον ᾖ, φιλεῖται· τί δ᾽ εἴ τις ἔμψυχον εἶδε τοιοῦτον κάλλος;—Luc. Amor. § 17.

Something very like which is found in Byron:

“There, too, the Goddess loves in stone, and fills
The air around with beauty.”

968. Hist. de l’Art, iv. 2. 23.

969. Hist. de l’Art, iv. 2. 67.



From the arts the transition is natural to the literature[970] of Greece, which in the historical period necessarily constituted the principal agent in ripening and stamping their peculiar character upon the fruits of education among the people. Literature is in fact the school-mistress of nations. In it so long as it remains entire, we may contemplate the whole character, intellectual and moral, of the race out of whose passions, yearnings, tastes, and energies it may be said to be fashioned. And this, true of all literature, is especially applicable to that of Greece, which more than any other bears the impress of nationality. Every idea, every image, every maxim, every reflection seems to emanate from one source. Nothing is foreign. Neither the inspiration, nor the spirit which regulated it and moulded it into beauty, borrowed a single impulse from anything existing beyond the circle of Hellenic thought. Greece supplied at once the matrix and the materials, the active power and that delicate sense of beauty and perfection which presided over its organisation and rendered it the delight of mankind.

In characterising this literature many singular notions have been broached. We have been told that 315its spirit is exclusively masculine, which means, of course, that while it abounds with strength and energy, with sublimity of speculation and impassioned and impetuous impulses, it is wanting in that sweetness, delicacy, grace, and tenderness which confer on the intellectual offspring of some modern nations a feminine aspect. Grecian literature, however, is neither masculine nor feminine, but androgynous like the son of Aphrodite and Hermes. There is no excellence of thought or language, of which, even in its present fragmentary state, it does not offer us some example. There is a predominance, doubtless, of stern grandeur and colossal elevation of thought; but, beside these, we discover frequently modifications of light and airy beauty, infantine purity of sentiment, ease, grace, felicitous negligence, and a dreamy luxury of speculation not to be outdone by the most subtile and fanciful literature existing. If there be a deficiency of any thing, it is of spirituality. The imagination of the Greeks confined itself too rigidly perhaps to this “bank and shoal of time.” Not being able to lift the veil which curtains the realms beyond the grave, it busied itself too little about those things with which the disembodied soul must converse for ever. In most Greek writers there is a visible reluctance to walk amid the forms of Hades. Their fancy will not be conducted beyond the limits of the visible universe, but shudders, rears and reverts its eyes towards the light where alone it finds firm footing for speculation. But on the other hand if it refuse to quit this earthly scene of existence, how glorious is the flood of sunshine and splendour which it pours over it! It is in these walks of literature that we discover truly the freshness and the loveliness of morning. The very clouds that hover over the landscape only add to its majesty, by diversifying the prospect and introducing those shadows and contrasts which the mind delights everywhere to discover.

316Poets,[971] it is constantly repeated, commence in every country the mental movement which evolves civilisation out of the chaos of barbarism; but it remains a mystery how and by what they themselves are moved. There may possibly be something more than a figure of speech in the old affirmation that they were inspired of heaven. Their imagination towered to so great a height that it was kindled by the lamps of the firmament, and may be regarded as that fabled Prometheus who applied the flame of science to the human clay. I do not therefore see what objection can be urged against our maintaining the old doctrine that poets partook and partake still, when their minds are pure, of a divine impulse—that to the infant nations of the earth they were teachers commissioned from on high.

The condition of the mind in those early ages when poets were the only oracles, it is difficult for men surfeited with the luxuries of a prolific literature to comprehend. Among the Arabs of the desert we may still perhaps discover something similar. Deprived of books, but enjoying much leisure, they eagerly treasure up in their memories the moral distich, the apologue, the tale which instructs while it delights, and thus mentally furnished with a few weapons they are often wiser in deliberation, more persuasive in discourse, more ready in action than persons of education in civilised countries, whose intellectual armoury is so full that in the moment of danger they know not what weapon to choose. Poets, among such a race and under such circumstances, feel that they have a high mission to fulfil; their endeavours are not by polished rhythmical trifles to amuse a few rich and noble persons, but to clothe in befitting language and marry to immortal verse those 317great central truths, upon which the whole system of the future world of civilisation must revolve. We find them always curiously adapting their revelations to the times. First, the great fundamental truths of religion, the basis of the social structure, are infused into the public mind. Next the rudiments of politics and legislation, the precepts of agriculture, the leading rules of the useful arts, the observances of civil life, and the first faint whispers of the passions and affections are treasured up in their lays. Then, growing bolder by degrees, they aim at subduing the whole empire of knowledge, and impetuously, with numerous charms and allurements, hurry mankind forward in a sort of orgiastic rapture to the very threshold of philosophy.

Among the earliest names in the literary traditions of Hellas are those of Olen, Pamphos, Musæos and Orpheus,[972] who, for their wisdom, are said to be sprung from the gods. They were sacred bards, whose genius obtained for them an ascendency over the minds of their countrymen. Yet all they attempted, perhaps, was to teach the doctrine of prayer, thanksgiving, sacrifice, which, being afterwards misunderstood, caused them to be confounded with those impostors and incantation-mongers, who, in more recent times, granted absolutions and sold indulgences both to individuals and states, with a hardihood worthy of Giovanni di Medici. Musæos, older probably than Orpheus, though sometimes regarded as his disciple, is said by certain traditions to have been a teacher of ethics, who delivered a body of moral precepts in four thousand verses. His country is unknown,—for he is now represented as an Athenian, now as a Thracian,—but his name and the name of Orpheus and Eumolpos are associated with the expiations, orgies, mysteries, celebrated during many 318ages in honour of Demeter and Dionysos.[973] We must rest content, however, with very imperfect notions of what they were, for, in looking back at these great men, whom we behold on the edge of the horizon, enlarged like the sun at its setting by misty exhalations, but by the same means rendered dim and obscure, we can form no just idea of their character.

These, however, and such as these, were the men who fabricated the first link in that chain of thought and beauty, which, stretching over the gulf of time and fastened to the skies, still holds up the nations of the earth from sinking into barbarism. Literature is degraded when contemplated as an art or as an amusement. It is a paradise, into which the best fruits of the soul, when arrived at their greatest maturity and beauty, are transplanted to bloom in immortal freshness and fragrance. It is the garner wherein the seeds of religion, virtue, morals, national greatness and individual happiness are preserved for the use of humanity. It is a gallery, where the likenesses of all the great and noble souls who have shed light and glory on the earth, are treasured up as the heirloom and palladium of the human race. It is impossible, therefore, for any but the most sordid minds to look back towards the venerable fathers of literature without a deep thrill of filial reverence and love, conjoined with the generous impulse and yearning desire to enlarge and add fresh brightness to the halo which encircles their names. They were not, what since too many have been, the instruments and panders to the pleasures of worldlings. Conscious of the holy mission wherewith, according to their creed, the father of gods and men had intrusted them, they stood forward as the apostles of truth, encircled by the majesty which a sense of divine inspiration must impart. They felt a harmony within 319their souls which, in manifesting itself, sought the aid of harmonious language; and hence the precepts of wisdom, distilling from their lips like honey from the honeycomb, moulded themselves naturally into verse, at whose sound the fountains of the great deep of knowledge were broken up, and the windows of heaven opened, and a deluge of philosophy and science and intellectual delight poured forth upon the amazed world.

In what age or province of Greece arose the first minister of this poetical revelation, it is not now possible to decide. The art of writing, however, which the Egyptian king regarded as the enemy of memory, had not passed the Ægæan. The songs men heard were wafted on the wings of music from tongue to tongue, and, by degrees, the professors of this marvellous art, by which the wisdom and the glory of the past were embalmed in the sweets of verse, embodied themselves into a distinct order called Aoidoi or Singers.[974] The life of these men in the remote ages of antiquity is little known to us. Wanderers, however, for the most part they were, in some respects not unlike the Jongleurs and Troubadours of the middle ages, though occupying a higher station and guided by a higher aim. Their first and ostensible object was, doubtless, to delight; but it is of great importance to inspire men with a delight in lofty and ennobling conceptions,—to withdraw them for a moment from pursuits sordid or brutalising or unmanly, to the contemplation of heroic acts,—of honour, of patriotism, of friendship,—of the great and solid advantages accruing from peace and commerce, and the experience of travel and adversity.

What were the rewards they obtained it is easy to conjecture. They consisted, principally, in the rays of joy reflected back upon them by a thousand happy countenances at once. Gain they neither would nor could regard. He who renders multitudes wise and 320happy must be happy and wise himself; and wisdom scorns to measure its gifts against gold. The truly wise and great man, therefore, if fortune have originally befriended him, will shower his benefactions, as God his rain, liberally and without distinction upon all; and if necessity compel him to receive some return, his moderation will content itself with the least possible amount. Embraced within the circle of refinement which they themselves had created, however, they gradually became secularised, though we must be careful to distinguish them from their successors of a later age. The prodigious admiration which they and their songs excited may be learned from those passages in Homer where Phemios and Demodocos are introduced, and from that animated dialogue of Plato, in which the rhapsodist Ion describes his office and his audience. It has been justly remarked, that if this man, a mere actor, could hurry into whatever channel he pleased the affections of a whole theatre, melt them into tears, fire them with indignation, or clothe their countenances with the smiles of joy, much more would the poets themselves work upon their passions by an art far nearer nature.

Care must, no doubt, be taken not to confound the Rhapsodists with the Aoidoi who preceded them, though it be certain that the manners and condition of the later race may serve to throw considerable light on those of the earlier. Both have recently much occupied the attention of the learned; and Wolff in particular deserves credit for his defence of the Rhapsodists, into which, however, he was chiefly led by the requirements of his celebrated theory. They were certainly, at first, a remarkable order of men, whom it would be injurious to confound with their frivolous representatives in the age of Plato and Xenophon. Nevertheless, the above distinguished scholar is perhaps inclined to exaggerate their merits, since to them, in his opinion, we owe it that the great Homeric poems have come down to us. But this is taking for granted the matter in dispute between him and his 321opponents, who maintain that the author of the Iliad and Odyssey possessed both the knowledge and the materials for writing. He, with reason however, assumes that both theatrical and oratorical action found a way opened for them by the rhapsodic art, though its professors were neither actors nor orators, but men exercising an office connected with a peculiar state of society, and no longer existing in modern times.

It has often been supposed, grounding the opinion on a false interpretation of the word rhapsodist, that the members of this fraternity were mere compilers or patchers up of poems from fragments pilfered out of various authors. And, to augment the absurdity, the practice of a recent age has been attributed to remote antiquity, when, as some imagine, the great rhapsodists like a modern lecturer, carried about with them pictures of the subject they were upon, and pointed out to the audience with a stick[975] the various characters or incidents they might be describing. Another error much insisted on by Wolff, is the supposition that the Homeric poems alone were chanted by the older Rhapsodists, which no doubt is contrary to the testimony of antiquity and to common sense. For, as might naturally be concluded, not only the songs of Hesiod[976] and the whole epic race were thus publicly sung, but those likewise of the lyric and iambic poets, and the very laws of the state when the legislator happened to have composed them in verse. It must nevertheless be remarked, (though of this Wolff takes no notice,) that so much did recitations of Homer’s works predominate over all others, that Rhapsodists and Homerists were often regarded as synonymous 322terms;[977] and even in later ages, when at any rate the art of writing was not unknown, Demetrius Phalereus introduced upon the stage a class of reciters, who, down to the days of Athenæus, enjoyed the name of Homerists. Still, as I have observed above, the works of other good poets were at times recited, as Hesiod, Archilochos, Mimnermos, and Phocylides. Nay, the Rhapsodist Mnasion, as Lysanias relates, used to recite the Iambics of Simonides; Cleomenes, the Purifications of Empedocles, and Hegesius the comedian, the Histories of Herodotus; that is, some portions of them I presume. Certain authors delivered their own productions in this way,[978] as Xenophanes, who composed both epics, elegies and iambics.[979]

It has with reason been observed that although the name of the rhapsodic art would seem to have been invented posterior to Homer, the thing itself existed long before, and was held in greater honour than at any subsequent period. In fact, the poets of those times were themselves Rhapsodists, and for many ages the only ones, if it be true that Hesiod[980] was the first who reduced the chanting of other men’s poems into an art. Afterwards, from the age of Terpander the Lesbian (Olymp. 34) down to Cynæthos of Chios (Olymp. 69) supposed to have been the author of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, and a man of distinguished genius, the Rhapsodists sometimes chanted the poems of others, sometimes their own, and occasionally perhaps interpolated new verses into the golden relics of the past, as our modern actors often foist their one-legged jokes into the stage text of Shakespeare. There appears, however, to be no foundation for the notion, that nearly every one of these chanters was likewise a clever poet, which no ancient writer, I believe, asserts, and which the assertions of fifty would not render 323credible, though the probability is, that of those numerous rhapsodists some were themselves poets, and others desirous, without the genius, of being thought such; so that it is quite as likely that their vanity frequently laid claim to the works of others, where detection could be escaped, as that others were suffered to rob them of their just fame.

They who contend for the flourishing of the system of castes in Greece, would probably maintain that the Rhapsodists constituted from the first a clan, as the Homeridæ are said to have been in Chios.[981] Among the few arts which commanded the undivided time and study of numerous professors in those ages, that of the Aoidos or Poet, was certainly one, and that, too, the most honoured and revered. Doubtless their characters were pure and noble, to overcome the envy which superior abilities usually inspire. For whether at home or abroad, in their native cities no less than in the public assemblies, and at the festive boards of kings, they were regarded as dear to gods and venerable to men. The Rhapsodists likewise enjoyed the same estimation and led the same kind of life until other studies and other manners, with that most debasing of all passions, the love of gain, brought contempt on their profession and pursuits.[982]

In the Homeric poems themselves we discover abundant proofs of the high honour in which the professors of the poetical art were held by their countrymen. They fulfilled in Greece[983] the office performed among the Hebrews by the Schools of the Prophets,[984] or the solitary possessors of the vaticinatory power who revealed to their countrymen the will of heaven, and taught by what practices it might be propitiated. Some institution of this kind probably existed, as I have already observed, from the very dawn 324of civilisation which it principally created. Most princes, like Agamemnon, Alcinoüs and Odysseus, retained in their palaces a man at once their chaplain and their laureate, who, when guests foreign or domestic assembled at their board, might administer instruction and delight, by chanting the praises of the gods, the exploits or greatness of their ancestors, or even by delivering precepts in morals or the useful arts. To a poet, also, as to the holiest of guardians, kings entrusted the care of their wives and families,[985] when departing on distant expeditions; and so great was the veneration paid to their character, that we find Clytemnæstra banishing the poet before she dares to become the paramour of Ægisthos.

But those men of great original genius whose fame spread rapidly, and who probably found superior enjoyment in the independence of a wandering life, not content with the patronage of a single prince, or the admiration of a single people, moved perpetually from land to land, enhancing at once their glory and experience. We in fact discover in Homer, Pindar, and other original poets proofs that the flowers from which they collected the honey of their melodies grew not all on one spot. Odysseus was a type of the bard who sang his adventures, and looking still further back we find the Thracian Thamyris, whom the Muses were said to have punished for his vanity, penetrating into the obscurest parts of Peloponnesos, 325protected by the sanctity of his character and the reverence due to his profession.[986]

With respect to Homer, both ancient tradition and the form and spirit of his poems, require us to consider him in this light, though there is no ground for supposing him with Payne Knight to have celebrated the different heroes of Greece for the purpose of ingratiating himself with their descendants.

Those writers who imagine the works of Homer to have been composed fortuitously by a club of poets, all actuated by a blind instinct to produce a number of parts which, when completed, should fit as well together as the several members of a statue, are necessarily desirous to establish two points: first, that the Aoidoi recited their works from memory, and that because, secondly, the art of writing was unknown. By far too much ingenuity has already been expended on this question to allow it to be any longer tempting from its novelty. Wolff and Heyne have obtained all the credit they sought by their visionary hypothesis, and the echoes of their scepticism are not yet silenced in the academies and universities. The argument, derived from the practice of the Rhapsodists, of repeating from memory, is attended by two inconveniences: first, it cannot be shown that the order arose before the art of writing was common; second, these recitations were equally made from memory, not only in the age of Pericles, but down to the latest period of their flourishing. It may, therefore, without the slightest risk to the argument, be granted the academic sceptics that the Rhapsodists recited from memory, even when we know with certainty that they learned the poems from written copies.

To render more credible the notion that the art of writing in the age of Homer was not yet known, great stress is laid on the powers of memory in certain individuals, though from these nothing can 326in reality be inferred, except, that when necessary, men can certainly remember a great deal. It matters little, however, for my present purpose, whether the Iliad and Odyssey were written by one man or by a hundred; the grandeur of the poetry remains, and to it as a great fountain-head may be traced several principal streams of Hellenic civilisation.

Plato, indeed, who laboured so assiduously in enlarging the empire and corroborating the powers of the human understanding, at times maintained the fancy that little benefit had been conferred on Greece by her bard. He observes, but in a manner so ironical that it is difficult to determine his meaning, that if Homer and Hesiod had possessed the gift of improving their contemporaries in virtue they would never have been suffered to wander about chanting their poems. People, he thinks, would have constrained them by benefits to remain with them, or, not succeeding in this, would have quitted their homes to attend their footsteps, as in his age many did in the case of the sophists.[987]

At the same time he admits the general opinion to have been that Homer was the great preceptor of Hellas, who taught the sciences of politics and ethics, together with the whole discipline and economy of human life.[988] Perhaps, notwithstanding his great wisdom and his genius, he looked upon the question from a wrong point of view, regarding poetry as the rival rather than the precursor of philosophy. The mission of the former had, however, in his time been in a great measure accomplished, as far, I mean, as concerned positive teaching; and he did not consider that as civilisation advances and materialises nations the curb of poetry is the more required to check their downward tendencies, and direct their head towards the skies. The object of poetry is to keep alive in the human 327breast the love of whatever is noble and beautiful, to dazzle the worldling from the worship of gold by showing him something more glorious than anything that gold can purchase, to accomplish the apotheosis of pure affection, of virtue, of disinterestedness, of great passions, of patriotism,—and in Homer all this is effected with a spontaneous energy, which like the ocean appears equal to bear the whole weight of humanity clothed with all its attributes upon its breast.

Greece has no poet worthy to be compared with our Shakespeare and our Milton but Homer, who possesses some advantages over them both. Shakespeare, buoyant and full of life as was his spirit, felt evidently the waves of his imagination lapse at times from about him and leave his mind stranded and bare on the shores of the immeasurable universe. Melancholy creeps over him, like a black vapour, concealing the Titanian head wont to tower above the region of the clouds. Even over Milton’s soul, serene in its fiery brightness as it usually is, I think I discover something which at times obscures his faith in himself and human nature, and produces a flagging of the fancy. But in Homer this never appears. Cheerfully and joyously he pursues his course with eternal sunshine on his brow, and a heart beating full and true, as if the life of all the world were within him. There is no end of his vitality. He seems as if he could never grow old. His strength is inexhaustible. Equal to whatever may happen, he nowhere seems to be hurried by his subject, or compelled to strain a nerve to accomplish what he desires. In himself he appears happy as a god, and only to sympathise in human suffering from the boundlessness of his charity. He comes forth as the sun in the morning, full of brightness, showing all the tears that sprinkle the earth and drying them too, but shedding none. We call him old, though in reality he is all youthfulness and love. Every function of life 328goes on harmoniously in his frame. He enjoys whatever nature brings within the circle of his experience. He drinks in with rapture the freshness of dawn,—basks smilingly in the blaze of noon,—welcomes the stillness of evening—the solemn grandeur of night. Sleep, too, has for him inexpressible charms, and on the pleasures we taste among its bowers he has bestowed every grateful, every endearing epithet. Milton is far more spiritual, and careers in a course nearer the stars. Shakespeare, in his metaphysical subtlety and yearning to pierce beyond the grave, suggests stranger thoughts, and calls up a wilder world of fancies. But Homer, as if admitted behind the veil, never doubts for a moment. Habitually, too, his thoughts are of action, of man as he is, of the virtue of the citizen, of the soldier, of the husband, of the father, of the son, of the wife. He loved the world and all that it contains. His eye could detect beauty where the atrabilious sceptic beholds nothing but deformity.

Hence the universal fame and admiration of his writings. For, wherever a well-spring of delight exists, the world will discover it and have recourse to it for ever. The tragic poets who took up his mantle differed widely from him both in temper and character. The experiment of civilisation had been tried, and been the cause of less happiness than at the outset it seemed to promise. A spirit of dissatisfaction had consequently grown up in society, which, shaken by convulsions within and assaulted from without by storms, appeared to be fast resolving into its original elements. Upon the minds of the tragic poets there accordingly fell a gloomy shadow. They looked backwards and around them, and were saddened by the view of terrible pictures which the dark pencil of Fate was constantly filling up. The inexplicable influence of events upon the inner organisation of man had caused them too, and their contemporaries equally, to delight in gloom, in slaughter, in revenge, in exhibitions of suffering, analogous 329in many cases to what they beheld their countrymen inflict upon each other.

Observe the creations of Æschylus:[989] in them, pregnant all with Miltonic haughtiness, energy, grandeur, we already discover symptoms of profound discontent with the character of actual existence and an invincible yearning towards the past. He seemed desirous to haunt the imaginations of his contemporaries with gigantic phantoms, quarried out of the wrecks of a vanished ethical system, in which such greatness found congeniality and sympathy. His ideas seemed to clothe themselves spontaneously in language of massive structure, like a Cyclopean wall, such as before or since no man ever used. He projected himself by the force of meditation into the heroic spheres, conversed there with mighty shades, acquired among them stern principles of action, of thought, of belief, of composition; and with these he sought to inspire the men of his own time. His object seems less to delight than to overawe, to persuade than to command. His ideas move along the highest arch of imagination which spans the universe from pole to pole, or rise out of a sea of darkness which they illuminate for a moment like lightning flashes in their passage.

All Æschylus’s more marked characters come before us invested with marvellous attributes, and their voices awake a thrilling mysterious echo in the depths of the soul. Prometheus, for example,—who or what in poetry is like him? Some features of resemblance he may have to the Satan of “Paradise Lost,” but only in his indomitable energy, in his unconquerable will; in all other respects he stands differenced from that “archangel ruined” by qualities the most remarkable. Towards mankind he appears 330in the relation of supreme love. For their sake alone he braves the anger of Zeus, who, in the tempest of vengeance which he pours upon the naked form of this beneficent god, is presented to the mind as a tyrannical oppressor. Again, in the Erinnyes, what mysterious phantoms does he conjure up! The whole scene, where black and blood-dripping they rise before the fancy in the shrine of Delphi, is, beyond imagination, awe-inspiring and sublime. Like Orestes himself, the fancy is haunted, as we read, by an uneasy consciousness of their presence. They appear like the summits of the infernal world, thrust up visibly into the world of reality. They are frightful dreams endued with form and vitality, and walking abroad to scare us even while waking. Never did faith in visionary beings equal in strength the faith which he constrains us to have in these his creations. The scent of blood fills the nostrils as we read. We pant,—we shudder,—we expect to hear their footsteps on the carpet behind us. Nevertheless the effect of Æschylus’ poetry is not, like Byron’s, to humiliate or depress. On the contrary, it imparts to us its energy as we read. It fills,—it expands,—it aggrandises,—it elevates the mind.

Sophocles presents us with a wholly different type of genius. His conceptions, without being gigantic, are still great, and have a richness and roundness something like the form of woman. To him, as to Raffaelle, the world appeared pregnant on all sides with beauty. Yet, there was a vein of pensiveness in his fancy which, running through all his works, imparts to them a witchery independent of the amount of intellect displayed. He never, like Æschylus, transports us into the dim twilight of mythology amidst the nodding ruins of systems and creeds. However antique may be the subject which he treats, his invention gives it completeness, and he brings it out fresh, glossy, distinct, and beautiful as the creations of to-day. Æschylus carries us back to the past, Sophocles brings the past forward to us. 331By a vigorous exertion of genius he breathes life into things dead; melts away from about them by his warm touch the hoar of antiquity; fills up the outline; freshens the colours; converts them into contemporary existencies. All his sympathies, healthy and true, cling to the things around him: the religion, the form of polity, the climate, the soil of Attica, invested with the beauty which they assumed in his plastic vision, satisfied his desires. What he found not in realities he bestowed upon them. He idealised his contemporaries. His poetry is sunny as the Ægæan in spring, and a breeze as healthful and refreshing breathes over it. Like the nightingale, whose music he loved, it comes to us full of forgotten harmonies, re-awakening all the associations, all the delights, all the hopes and aspirations of youth. Sweet and musical, and replete with tenderness, are his marvellous chorusses. They burst upon the heart like the first note of the cuckoo[990] in the depths of a forest, curling round the mossy trunks of the meditative old trees upon the ear.

And then his female characters, in which above all things he excels. Not Imogen herself, whose breath like violets perfumes the page of Shakespeare, rises before us a more exquisite vision than Antigone, in her maiden purity, her unfathomable tenderness, her holy affection, filial and fraternal. Even Œdipos, supported and led into the light by such a daughter, appears glorious as a god, his involuntary stains worked off by years of suffering, his reverend old age garlanded by calamity, wreathed with the tendrils and snowy blossoms of a daughter’s love. And Tecmessa, does she not seem to be Desdemona ripened into a mother? There is no poet who has pourtrayed a wife of more unmingled gentleness, or who has better sounded the depths of a mother’s heart. Her affection expands like an atmosphere round the 332boy Eurysaces, menaced at once by treacherous enemies and by his father’s madness, and casts a pure and bright ray over the sea of blood and stormy passion and guilt that floats around her. His Dejanira, likewise, is a character of great beauty; but in the Clytemnæstra and Electra, in the Chrysothemis and Ismene, he has been less successful. Among his male characters Œdipos is the masterpiece. Compounded of ungovernable passion, a powerful will, a resolution invincible by suffering, extreme in love or hate, he stands before us in heroic grandeur, and like the sun’s orb dilates as he descends beneath the horizon. Next to him in originality and beauty are Neoptolemos and Teucer, youths of the greatest nobleness of soul, who contrast strikingly with his fox-like Odysseus and the mean-souled imperial brothers.

To Sophocles succeeds Euripides,[991] whose genius inspired Milton with the deepest admiration, as it had before inspired Aristotle. Resembling Sophocles as little as the latter resembles Æschylus, he is more deeply imbued than either with the tragic spirit, interprets more unerringly the language of passion and the heart, and unlocks more surely the hidden springs of pity. In him, however, poetry is less an instinct than an art. His intellect, lofty, powerful, penetrating, ranged through the most untrodden paths of nature and philosophy, grasped at all learning, at all experience, enriched itself with prodigious stores of reflections, observations, imagery, over which it possessed the most perfect mastery, to render them subservient to the purposes of the drama. Other poets learned in effects, may exhibit action with no less truth and skill; Euripides dares to unveil causes, to give the wherefore and the why 333of actions, to descend into the abysses of the mind and lay bare the curious mechanism, and, so to say, central fires which produce and ripen our resolutions and our demeanour.

Without the stern grandeur or the rich physical imagery of his predecessors, he could more surely touch the feelings and create an intense interest in the story of his tragedies. No man, moreover, has given birth to nobler sentiments. A moral beauty broods over his scenes; he elevates,—he enlarges,—he purifies the affections. Truths of greatest importance make themselves wings of melody in his verse, and fly across the gulf of two thousand years from him to us. Above all things, he may almost be said to have discovered the inexhaustible mine of love, whence he drew the gold that fashioned the divine image of Alcestis, the noblest mixture of earth’s mould that ever bore the name of woman. It is true this image is but dimly beheld. Perhaps no genius, not even Shakespeare’s, could have filled up the outline of unearthly beauty which Euripides dared to draw. It embodies all the imagination ever conceived of love. Pure as the celestial Artemis, impassioned to perfect disinterestedness, all devotion as a wife, all tenderness as a mother,—content to die, yet jealous of posthumous love,—sacrificing everything for her husband’s life, yet haunted by the fear that death might snap the golden links of affection, she issues forth like a celestial vision to take her farewell of the sun. Euripides might well be proud of this creation. Not Andromache, not Nausicaa, not even the far-famed consort of Odysseus can exceed in truth and beauty his conception of Alcestis. Yet this is the poet whom Aristophanes had the bad taste to overwhelm with unceasing ridicule, and whom numerous critics, borrowing their canons from him, have rashly pronounced languid and insipid.

Moving on a level below this is the character of 334Electra in the Orestes. In the Alcestis we have rather the results than the developement of inexpressible love, which

“raised a mortal to the skies.”

But Electra’s affection unfolds itself before us. There she watches beside her brother’s bed, contending with the inexpiable guilt of matricide, sharing his remorse but comforting him, herself oppressed, yet courageously bearing up for his sake against the worst

“ills that flesh is heir to.”

With the most supreme delicacy is Polyxena conceived; and generally, whatever may be said of Euripides’ aversion for the sex, it may be affirmed that no poet has more ably or more nobly painted the female character.

Passing next to comedy, of which Aristophanes must be regarded as the representative, we have a department of literature peculiar to Greece, for its comedy resembles that of no other country. It has never, perhaps, been fairly characterised. They who take part with the poet against the philosopher exaggerate his merits: the admirers of Socrates, in revenge for the unjust death of that great man, generally undervalue them. Let us endeavour to be just. Aristophanes was a poet of vast genius, quick to perceive, and powerful to paint the imperfections, vices, follies, weaknesses, miseries of man in society. He was greedy, too, of reputation, in the acquisition of which he spared neither men nor institutions. The youthful, the gay, the thoughtless, reckoning laughter and amusement among the real wants of life, (as to the weak and frivolous perhaps they are,) he undertook to build his fame on easing the human character of those moral excrements which pass off in grinning and mirth. There is, in fact, a load of small malignity and mischief in most mental constitutions, which, if not expelled, might obstruct the healthful play of the faculties. Mirth is the form it assumes in its exit, 335and comedy is one of the means provided by Nature for promoting its discharge.

Aristophanes, who comprehended at least this part of philosophy, found an abundant harvest of follies in his fellow-citizens. He saw, too, that of all men they possessed the most inexhaustible good-nature,—to forgive if they could not profit by the satire which was directed against themselves. No one could complain of them on this score. Their risible muscles were at every man’s service who could coin a joke, or make faces, or draw a caricature or enact one. Athens was, in fact, the home of laughter: it was the weak side of the national character; and never, since merry-making was invented, did a more skilful manufacturer of this autochthonal production exist than Aristophanes. He could make round things square, or straight crooked; he could invest the noblest and most sacred things with burlesque and ridicule; he could convert patriotism into a laughable weakness, genius into puerility, virtue into a farce. He knew how to make the brave man (as Lamachos) seem a mere gasconader; the man of genius (as Euripides) a dealer in rhythmical jingles; the possessor of highest wisdom and most unsullied integrity a babbling impostor and a thief. Such were his prodigious powers. Another excellence he had, not unakin to the former; he could, when it suited his purpose, place the most nefarious vices on the same level with very harmless foibles, so that both should appear equally laughable or equally odious.

But the Athenians must have been a base people had these been the qualities which rendered him popular. They were not: on the contrary, they formed the great drawback on his reputation. His attack on Socrates caused the first cast of the Clouds to be hooted off the stage. But great and crying as were his delinquencies against morals and philosophy, his genius triumphed, and he became popular in spite of them; and in spite of them he has continued to be a favourite among scholars down to the present day. No mean amount of creative power could have achieved 336a triumph like this. He possessed, in fact, the quality, whatever it be, which confers vitality on the offspring of the mind. Each of his plays, however extravagant its conceptions, however improbable the plot or wild the scene or fantastic the characters, still developes a distinct cycle of existences into which the breath of everlasting life has been breathed. To every individual whom he brings upon the stage has been assigned a distinct type of character, a marked individuality, a moral and intellectual physiognomy as peculiar to himself as his mask. No man exhibits greater variety in a small compass. When he is working out a character every word tells, and his ease is infinite. Nothing appears to have proceeded from him in a hurry. Like the wind, which now rises in gusts, now sinks to a whisper, but never suggests the idea of weakness, Aristophanes may trifle, but always because he desires to trifle.

Moreover, however barren the subject may be, however rugged, bleak, intractable, he pours over it the dews of poetry, and clothes it magically with flowers and verdure. Look at the comedies of the Frogs and the Birds. By whom but Aristophanes could they have been rendered tolerable? And yet what marvellous effects grow out of them in his hands! How completely is the imagination detached from the common everyday world, and sent drifting down the dreamy intoxicating streams of poetry! Not in the island of Prospero or Philoctetes, not in the savage-encircled nest of Robinson Crusoe, not in the most visionary vale that opens before us its serene bosom in the Arabian Nights, do we breathe more at large, or more fresh and wholesome air, than among the fogs and fens of Acheron, or the eternal forests of the Hoopoo king.

With an art, in which Shakespeare was no mean proficient, he opens up a more culpable source of interest in the frequent satire of vices, condemned as commonly as they are practised. He unveils the mysteries of iniquity with a fearless and by no means 337an unreluctant hand. No abyss of wickedness was too dark for his daring muse. He ventured fearlessly upon themes which few since or before have touched on, despising contemporary envy and vindictiveness and the stern condemnation of posterity. To be plain, he evidently shared in the worst corruptions of his age, and, like many other satirists, availed himself joyfully of the mask of satire as an apology for entertaining his own imagination with the description of them. No one with the least clearsightedness or candour can fail to perceive and acknowledge the depraved moral character of this comic writer. Only less filthy than Rabelais, his fancy runs riot among the moral jakes and common sewers of the world, over which, by consummate art and the matchless magic of his style, he contrives unhappily to cast a kind of delusive halo, and to breathe a fragrance which should never be found but where virtue is.

Upon the subject of his attack on Socrates his defenders must grant one of two things—that he libelled him ignorantly, or that he exhibited a degree of wickedness capable, under other circumstances, of rising to the enormity of Judas Iscariot. Socrates, both for genius and for virtue, stands at the head of the pagan world. He whom Plato admired must have stood on a higher level than Plato,—that is, have occupied the apex of mere humanity: and in that position we find him in the Gorgias, the Republic, the Euthyphron, and the Phædon. Many charlatans, since the days of Aristophanes, have endeavoured to puff upward at him the smoke of their ignorance or their envy; and from those who tread the mire with them have for a moment hidden the all but divine serenity that smiles on humankind from that lofty and immovable basis where the homage of a world has placed him; but the next breeze has cleared away the stinking vapours, and left both him and them where they were,—the one on the highest, the others on the lowest step of the ladder which connects human nature with the skies.

338Upon the dramatic poets whose fragments only remain, it is in this place unnecessary to dwell. I therefore pass to the historians and orators, who, no less vividly than her poets, reflect the genius of Greece. The first age of prose composition, there as elsewhere, exhibited the natural characteristics of dawning art—indecisiveness and timidity. Herodotus, properly speaking, was her earliest historian, and even he still walks within the gigantic shadow of epic fable which stretched far over the civilised and cultivated ages of Greece, as doth that of Memnon at dawn over the Theban plains. His character as a writer is very remarkable. He narrates like a prophet. His language everywhere bears the impress and image of the supernatural world wrought into its very substance. He had formed to himself a poetical standard of human character and human action, which accordingly in his work develope themselves in poetical forms. Long and profound meditation had spread out the past before him like a map, on which he could trace every fluctuation in the stream of events with something like the skill of a diviner. Men, past or present, may be interpreted by meditation, if we comprehend the science of human nature. Herodotus understood much of this science. Indeed his chief greatness lies in his wisdom.

Ordinary readers, who are always wiser than their dead instructors, discovering him to be frankly superstitious, to have faith in oracles, in dreams, in prodigies, to chronicle many trivial actions, many trivial remarks, feel or affect for him a species of contempt. But they know very little of what is contained in that vast treasury of epic events. Little do they suspect with how many great statesmen, generals and heroic kings the eloquent Halicarnassian could render them familiar. In his pages alone, perhaps, do we view in his true proportions that man of men, Themistocles, who overtops by a head and shoulders all the other statesmen of the ancient world. There, 339too, may we best discover the character of his contemporaries, those extraordinary personages who connect the heroic with the historical period, and constitute the steps by which we descend from the heights of mythos and fable to the stern level of realities. Such an epoch required an historian of peculiar character. In him were to be united the power to comprehend poetical motives to action, and the solemn eloquence fittingly to describe deeds springing from such a source. Both were found in Herodotus. He beheld Providence leading man as it were into the light from the wilderness of mythological times, still invested with many of his heroic habits and his forehead beaming with visionary splendours, but prepared to doff them one by one, and in their stead to substitute the iron theory and practice of civilisation.

Thucydides, a few years only younger than Herodotus, found himself placed in the midst of events the most extraordinary, produced by a system of civilisation prematurely decaying. Greece had not been suffered to grow wise and great according to the laws which usually regulate the ripening of states. She had been scorched into fruit-bearing by the fiery conflicts of the Median war; and her strength thus brought into play, and found to be great beyond calculation, was immediately by ambitious statesmen seized upon, parcelled out into lots which were directed against each other, and thus exhausted in petty struggles. In Greece we have an example of a state whose energies, turned inwards, corroded themselves by concentration; affording a contrast with Rome whose energies, worked outward and were gradually weakened and lost by expansion. The genius of the people begot corresponding historians. Rome, had its perspicuous ornate, diffuse, haughty and sublime Livy; Athens her Thucydides full of poetry indeed, and haughtier and more sublime, but condensed as an oracle, and as an oracle obscure.

340Few have measured the greatness of this man. Ordinary critics missing the ostentatious display of what is termed philosophy, appear to imagine that Thucydides is not a philosophical historian, reserving this praise for Gibbon, Hume, or Voltaire. But each of these great writers would have contemned the praise of such persons. Thucydides in historical writing stands above rivalry or comparison. The political atmosphere in which he lived, dusky with thunderclouds and continual storms, his eye could penetrate through, and discover all the very extraordinary figures that moved beneath it. Calmly, from heights of speculation never trodden before, he contemplated the various groups of generals and statesmen dispersed over his horizon, pierced through every disguise into their characters, detected their motives, unravelled their plots, gave their secret maxims a tongue, weighed and described their actions with an impartial sagacity which among historians belongs to him alone. In this consists his philosophy. The society, whose developement he studied, was torn by two antagonist principles—aristocracy and democracy, whose struggles, undying in free states, were then more fierce than at any other period in the history of the world. To enable his countrymen and posterity to comprehend the whole chain of events, he opened up a long vista into the past, to the point at which those adversaries appeared upon the scene, and threw a broad light upon all their movements down to the time when Providence removed him from his post. His conception of an historian’s duty, somewhat different from that now entertained, was adopted by all antiquity, in which every succeeding writer bore testimony to his superiority by imitating him. He thought it not enough to narrate and describe, but, throwing open the council chamber and stilling the tumultuous agora, he brings the living statesman or demagogue upon the stage, developing in our hearing his views, his conceptions of surrounding 341circumstances and characters, his projects, his means for accomplishing them. That the speeches found in his history were actually in that form delivered, I will by no means affirm. He probably obtained but the substance from report, and himself clothed it in those vivid expressions which two thousand years have not stripped of their freshness. Nevertheless, the more trifling the amount of what he owed to the relations of others, the greater must appear his genius, his unerring sense of fitness, his dramatic power of projecting himself successively into a whole gallery of characters, and truly interpreting the opinions, maxims, feelings of each; for no one pretends that he has ever misrepresented a single individual. And if those speeches be examined on the score of eloquence, whether of thought or language, it will I think be found, that in almost every excellence they may rank with those of Demosthenes. In each a peculiar economy is observed in the management of the arguments, in the sentiments, in the opinions, in the logical tone, in the manifestations of individuality which diffuse themselves over the whole and give a colour to it.

The defects—for such there are—resolve themselves into a certain magisterial air, indicating a consciousness of superiority, sure, more or less, to offend in all cases, and a certain imperspicuity of style arising principally from the loose manner in which the drapery of language is flung over his ideas, which is chiefly observable in the orations, his narrative for the most part being free from this imperfection. Besides, whatever be the series of facts he relates, their importance appears to be enhanced by his manner of handling them. He casts aside, as unworthy both of himself and the reader, whatever is of inferior moment. These, in fact, the mere chaff of human affairs, only cling round the grain of action to conceal it, and must be blown aside by the reader if the historian neglect to do it.

The circumstances of the times conferred upon 342his subject all the interest and the gloom of tragedy. But it thus suited him the better. His genius delighted in terrible pictures: battles, plagues, earthquakes, general massacres, the storming of cities, the annihilation of great armies. His fancy vividly realised all,—the plague-tumbril rumbling, choked with dead, towards the sepulchral suburbs,—the streets of Corcyra streaming alternately with democratic and aristocratic blood,—the expected slaughter of Mitylene,—the reality at Melos,—two thousand Helots cut off by the perfidy of Sparta,—the butchery at Platæa,—at Skione,—in Sicily! Through all these scenes we are precipitated forward, shuddering, compassionating, detesting by turns. But we are neither overwhelmed nor inspired with disgust for human nature. Our sympathies cling closer and closer to the historian, who spares no villany, gratifies no malice, tramples on no noble principle, succumbs to no temptation of partiality. Faithful to his trust he deals forth truth to all, to none the slightest flattery. Not even for his country will he lie. It was she, in fact, with her heroic ethics and grandeur of sentiment, that had taught him his high principles, and he repaid her by recording all her errors, all her wrongs, all her imperfections: in which he acted like a great and a wise man. He would have sacrificed for her his life,—he would not sacrifice his conscience.

To him succeeds Xenophon, a writer whom it is difficult to characterise. There was in the temper of his mind something parasitical, which led him to lean on others for support,—on Socrates, on Cyrus, on Agesilaos. Incapable of acting in a republic the part of a good citizen, he would have been that rare thing—a virtuous courtier. From this the tone of his writings may be conjectured. Almost everywhere we discover a degree of gentleness, sweetness, modesty, which steals imperceptibly into the heart, and creates the impression that he was a man highly amiable and upright. His piety, likewise, causes 343itself to be felt. He never mentions the gods but with due reverence, exhibits a strong reliance upon Providence, and, according to his best apprehensions, justifies its ways to men with earnest solicitude. The style of his composition, necessarily harmonising with the qualities of his mind, is full of suavity, polished elegance, gentlemanliness, bonhomie, the very characteristics of a popular writer. Readers of moderate understanding can everywhere perceive his drift, can accompany him without feeling out of breath. He is communicative, sensible, rational, indulges in no cloudy flights, never dives out of sight in the ocean of speculation.

Xenophon, however, misunderstood himself when he conceived that it was for him to continue the history of Thucydides. It was as if Andrea del Sarto had undertaken to complete a picture left in parts unfinished by Michael Angelo. He had neither the penetrating sagacity necessary to comprehend the internal plan of the picture, the vivifying energy to preserve the intense tragedy of the action, nor the colours to harmonise with what he found painted. Still, considered by himself, he has great merits. Several scenes in his history, the trial, for example, of the generals, the death of Theramenes, the battles on the Hellespont, exhibit a force of conception and a scope and flexibility of style uncommon in any literature; and the Anabasis, without comparison his greatest work, reads like a chronicle of the most chivalrous knight-errantry. The attempt, however flagitious on the part of Cyrus, had the merit of extreme boldness. It was the model expedition which disclosed the secret of Asia to Alexander, and showed with how little danger its vast empires might be shattered to pieces. Xenophon who, young and adventurous, accompanied the Persian prince and the heroic mercenaries in his pay, contemplated with delight the physical aspect of the East, its luxurious population, its roving tribes, with the triumphs of his disciplined and warlike countrymen over innumerable 344barbarian hosts. This we discover from the interest and animation of his narrative, in which stern realities exceed in grandeur and wildness the creations of romance. But it is equally clear that he did not fully comprehend the moral of the scene. For, otherwise, he could never, with these facts before him, have endeavoured by his Cyropædia, to recommend to his countrymen those institutions which rendered Persia, with all its wealth, a constant prey to the small republics of Greece.

Of the other writings of Xenophon little need be said: they are the parsley and the rue of Greek literature, bordering and adorning its entrance, and therefore beheld of all. But most of these have their beauty. Even in the hunting treatise, amid the breeding of dogs, and nets, and knives, and boar-spears, and the slaughter of animals, we catch glimpses of better things,—of glades where the hare frolics by moonlight, and grassy uplands, dewy and fragrant, where does, poetical as she of Rylstone, lead forth their fawns at break of day. The treatises on the states of Athens and Sparta have, I trust, been falsely attributed to this able and accomplished writer. They are contemptible productions, conceived in the spirit of a servile flatterer of the Dorians, and of a satirist, equally servile and stupid, of the greater and infinitely more intellectual Ionic race.

I pass over the historians known to us only by a few scanty fragments, that I may at once come to the orators, the peculiar ornament and pride of Greece, whose greatest statesmen were equally great as speakers, more especially at Athens, where, as an art, eloquence was most assiduously cultivated, and achieved its greatest triumphs. Tradition attributes to Themistocles, to Pericles, to Alcibiades consummate skill in guiding the currents of human sympathy, and a sense of their glory lingered on the high places of society like sunshine on the Alps long after they had quitted the world. But as they did not augment the stores of their country’s 345literature, we can have nothing to speak of them here. The orators whose fragments time has been unable to destroy are however sufficient, if not to satiate our thirst of admiration, at least to show, by the grandeur of their proportions, how great and glorious Attic eloquence, when entire, must have been. More than any other department of literature it is the growth of patience and toil. A man may be born with the instincts of eloquence,—fancy, constitutional fire, vehemence,—but unless these instincts be broken in and trained by consummate art, nature will in vain have bestowed her gifts. These truths were early understood at Athens. It was perceived that without eloquence political distinction was unattainable, and therefore all who aspired to

“wield at will that fierce democracy,”

subjected themselves to a course of laborious study, to which our more phlegmatic natures would not submit.

The results we may, in part, still contemplate in that body of Athenian oratory, which to the author and the statesman is in itself a library. Every legitimate form of eloquence is there beheld. In Antiphon and Andocides it appears in rough simplicity, employing contrivance and art, but employing them awkwardly. Lysias makes considerable advances beyond them, clothes his style with grace, constructs his narrative with extraordinary skill, and moves the passions by considerable pathos. Isocrates it is common with the moderns, who echo one another, to underrate: their delicate ears, offended by his too nicely balanced periods, his antitheses, his monotonous cadences, refuse to relish that stately harmony, and majestic flow of language, which recommend the thoughts of this “old man eloquent,” whose greatest panegyric is pronounced by Plato[992] in the Phædros. 346In Isæos we have an argumentative, able pleader; in Deinarchos a vigorous accuser; in Demades the power of splendid improvisation; in Lycurgus noble sentiments clothed in poetical language, haughty patriotism, the rough virtues of a stoic; in Æschines an union of magnificent style, thoughts full of weight, admirable arrangement, warmth, vivacity, wit. Yet Demosthenes soars far above Æschines,—far above all. On him nature had bestowed every quality which constitutes an ingredient of eloquence,—originality, love of labour, a clear head, a warm heart, a judgment all but unerring, with an impetuous vehemence perfectly irresistible.

A very extraordinary impression is created by the study of this writer. He seems never to put forth all his strength. You see him, indeed, bear down every thing before him, overwhelming the arguments and the gold of Philip, crushing his rivals, annihilating his enemies; but the persuasion rests with you that he could have done more. You discover amid the waves and foam of his terrible eloquence indications that that vast ocean had never been stirred to the bottom, that occasion had never called forth all its latent powers of destruction. He measures himself with his antagonist, and is secure of victory. He presents a front bristling with the deadliest points of logic, like the spears of the Macedonian phalanx, and wherever he moves he is invincible. Nevertheless he appears to advance nothing for the sake of effect, to be in search of none of the beauties of style, but rather to avoid them. He is neither draped, nor painted, nor adorned; but a naked colossus whose sublimity springs from the perfection and greatness of its proportions.

Other orators persuade, Demosthenes enforces conviction. They who listen to him have no choice,—they must believe. Without offending the reader’s pride, he makes him ashamed to hesitate. He reminds one of the Nile at the cataracts, where, confined by rocks within too narrow limits, it pours 347resistlestly along, swelling, deep, with scattered whirlpools and foam scarcely visible on its vast surface, seemingly calm at a short distance, but, to those who look near, agitated, angry, full of unstemmable currents and boiling motion. He had profoundly studied human nature, chiefly, of course, as it developes itself in free states, and, better than any man, knew by what motives it may, in spite of corruption and degeneracy, be impelled to strenuous action, though but for a brief space. His language, flashing through the moral gloom around him, called forth bright reflections from whatever was brilliant or polished, and kindled the fragments of patriotic emotions into a flame. If genius could regenerate, could pour the blood of youth into the veins of age, could substitute loftiness of sentiment, heroic daring, disinterested love of country, religious faith, spirituality, for sensual self-indulgence, for sordid avarice, for a base distrust in Providence, Demosthenes had renewed the youth of Athens. The spirit of the old democratic constitution breathes through all his periods. He stands upon the last defence of the republican world, when all else had been carried, the representative of a noble but perished race, fighting gallantly, though in vain, to preserve that fragment sacred from the foot of the spoiler. The passion and the power of democracy seem concentrated in him. He unites in his character all the richest gifts of nature under the guidance of the most consummate art, and, doubtless, Hume was right when he said that, of all human productions, his works approach the nearest to perfection.

Beyond this point it is irksome to proceed in our view of Grecian literature, which, after the battle of Cheronæa, was overshadowed by despotism and dwindled gradually into insignificance. Not that genius wholly and suddenly disappeared. The soil of Hellenic intellect was not entirely exhausted, but the fruit it bore was comparatively insipid. A courtly 348stamp was set upon every thing. Men no longer obeyed their genuine impulses. It was dangerous generally, and always profitless to be frank and manly. Instead of addressing themselves to the healthy natural sympathies of the people, writers servilely laboured by conceit and flattery to wring reluctant patronage from princes. The spirit of affectation, accordingly, for the first time made its appearance. Men tortured their ingenuity to invent smart things. Enthusiasm and passion and earnestness, characteristics all of popular writers, are never fashionable among courtiers, who consider sincerity vulgar, and hypocrisy a virtue. In the later Greek writers, therefore, who all wrote for some court or other, we discover the usual frigidity and extravagance which invariably deform the literature of such states. Along with these faults, others also are found far more pernicious: the inculcation of selfishness, gross sensuality, base maxims, a depraved taste. Man in the savage state is a garden in which noxious weeds and the most beautiful flowers and useful plants grow together; civilised and free, he is the same garden cleared, as far as possible, of its weeds; but, when verging a second time into barbarism, the weeds again become luxuriant, and entirely choke or conceal the flowers. And thus too it is in literature. In the literatures of Greece, Rome, and modern Italy we can now contemplate the complete process; in our own, a part only, how great a part—it is not here my business to inquire.

970. Speaking of the influence of literature on education Plato remarks, that persons accustomed from their infancy to the loftier and purer inspirations of the muse will regard with contempt everything mean or illiberal; whereas they who have always been familiar with low and vulgar compositions will look upon all other literature as tame and insipid.—De Legg. vii. t. viii. p. 30.

971. Cf. Lil. Gyrald. Opp. t. ii. p. 2. “Nihil traditum videbis in religionibus et mysteriis, nihil in theologiâ et philosophiâ aliisque bonis artibus à principio fuisse sine poeticâ, ita ut hoc verè me tibi dicturum existimem, ex omnibus disciplinis unam hanc divinam extitisse, quasi totius vitæ magistram.”

972. Plato de Repub. t. ii. p. 113. seq. Stallb.—De Legg. t. vii. p. 243. Bek. Athen. i. 24. Paus. ix. 27. 2. Diog. Laert. Proœm. iv. 5.

973. Muret. in Plat. Rep. p. 699. seq. Cf. Lil. Gyrald. ii. 5. Wolf. Proleg. in Homer. p. 51.

974. Cf. Wolf. Proleg. in Hom. p. 73. 93. sqq.

975. Anim. ad Athen. xii. p. 371. Cf. Suid. v. Ῥαψῳδοί. t. ii. p. 678. Etym. Mag. 703. 32. Aristoph. Concionat. 674.

976. Ῥαψῳδὸν δὲ, καλῶς Ἰλίαδα καὶ Ὀδυσσεῖαν ἢ τι τῶν Ἡσωδείων διατιθέντα, τάχ᾽ ἂν ἡμεῖς οἱ γέροντες ἥδιστα ἀκούσαντες νικᾷν ἂν φαῖμεν πάμπολο.—Plat. de Legg. ii. t. vii. p. 243. Bekk. Again: Ἅμα δὲ ἀναγκαῖον εἶναι ἔν τε ἄλλοις ποιηταῖς διατρίβειν πολλοῖς κᾀγαθοῖς καὶ δὴ καὶ μάλιστα ἐν Ὁμήρῳ, κ. τ. λ. Ion. Plat. Opp. t. ii. p. 172.

977. Ὅτι δ᾽ ἐκαλοῦντο οἱ ῥαψῳδοὶ καὶ Ὁμηρισταὶ Ἀριστοκλῆς εἴρηκε, κ. τ. λ.—Athen. xiv. 12.

978. Athen. xiv. 12.

979. Diog. Laert. ix. 18.

980. Ῥαψωδῆσαι φησὶ πρῶτον τὸν Ἡσιοδὸν Νικοκλῆς.—Schol. Pind. Nem. ii. 1. Cf. Dissen. ad loc. Wolf. Proleg. p. 96. sqq.

981. Schol. Pind. Nem. ii. 1. Etym. Mag. 623. 50.

982. Payne Knight, Proleg. in Hom. § 13. 28.

983. Athen. i. 16.

984. Cf. Sigon. de Rep. Hebræorum v. 9. Godwin, Moses et Aaron, i. 6.

985. But the δόμων προφῆται in Æschylus (Agam. 377 Klausen,) were household prophets, who not only disclosed the secrets of the future and interpreted dreams, but acted also the part of counsellors in present emergencies, and treasured up the records of the past. Apollo is called the Prophet of Zeus, because he receives oracles from him.—Eum. 19. 618. So Amphiaraos is denominated a great prophet.—Sept. c. Theb. 611.

See the comment of Klausen, Agam. p. 143. seq.-Notice of the household interpreters of dreams δόμων ὀνειρόμαντες and again κριταὶ τῶν ὀνειράτων (Choep. 36. 39), is found in several parts of Æschylus, who loved to furnish traits of these old superstitions. In the Persians we find Atossa speaking of the τῶν ἐνυπνίων κριτὴς (226) as a person of supernatural powers.

986. Iliad β. 590. sqq. Payne Knight, Proleg. § 74.

987. De Rep. x. 4. t. ii. 318. Stallb.

988. De Rep. x. 7. t. ii. 336.

989. The plays of this poet, like those of Shakespeare, were, in succeeding ages, altered for the stage—Quint. Instit. Orat. x. 1. The orator, Lycurgus, procured a decree, ordering the tragedies of the three poets to be copied, and statues to be erected in their honour.—Plut. Vit. x. Orat.

990. In Greece heard early in the spring.—Sibthorp, in Walp. Mem. i. 75.

991. This writer, like most of his poetical contemporaries, used constantly to wear a tablet and stylus suspended to his dress.—Athen. xiii. 45. The use in fact of memorandum books was common.—Sch. Aristoph. Vesp. 529.

992. Opp. t. i. p. 105. seq.—He is said to have received a thousand drachmas for each of his pupils.—Dem. cont. Lacrit. § 11.



Whether the Greeks received their earliest system of philosophy from the East, as is commonly believed, or themselves invented it, as to me seems most probable, there can I think be little doubt that once engaged in philosophical speculations they exhibited in the pursuit a degree of boldness and originality, a patience of research, a power of combination rarely if ever equalled in succeeding times. For some ages, it is true, from the days of Thales down to those of Socrates (B. C. 600 to B. C. 450) physical investigations and researches chiefly occupied the philosophers of Greece. They conceived it to be within the power of man to discover the nature of the principal elements which compose the world, and the law’s that regulated its formation.[993] The origin 350likewise of the human race, of which nothing is yet known but that which has been revealed, naturally awakened their curiosity and led to many theories wild and fantastic in the extreme.

Into any consideration of these it is not my design to enter; but the Greeks had another philosophy, which, resting on the basis of theology, comprehended religion, morals, and politics, and may be regarded as the instrument, the soul, and the measure of their civilisation. It seems to be a truth frequently overlooked, that man is civilised exactly in proportion as he is religious; at least this was the case in Greece, where the highest developement of the national mind concurred in Socrates and Plato with the utmost developement of the religious instinct, and began immediately to decline in Aristotle and his successors, arriving at the lowest degradation among the grovelling sophists of the lower empire. This division of philosophy occupied among the Greeks the place, which in modern times is assigned to religion,[994] that is, it was their guide through this life, and their preparation for a better. It may, indeed, be regarded as the spiritual part of paganism, teaching man his duties, and explaining the grounds and motives which should lead to their performance.

There is one article of faith without which no religion can of course exist—the belief in God. Devoid of this, it may be doubted whether an individual or a nation ought not rather to be classed 351among the inferior animals than among men. It is superfluous, therefore, to say that the Greeks, preëminently endowed with the highest attributes of humanity, were a religious people, and held firmly all the doctrines which entitle a people to such an appellation. From their ancestors, the Pelasgi,[995] they inherited a pure and lofty theism, which seems to have always continued to be the religion of the more enlightened; while among the mass of the people, this central truth of religion was gradually surrounded by a constantly expanding atmosphere of fable, which obscured its brightness, and in a great measure concealed its form. Mr. Mitford, whose acute and philosophical mind clearly discerned this verity, also seems to have understood the cause. “A firm belief both in the existence of the Deity, and in the duty of communication with him, appears to have prevailed universally in the early ages. But religion was then the common care of all men, a sacerdotal order was unknown.”[996]

The institution of an order of priests, however effected, almost necessarily corrupted the simple truths of religion, but it is unphilosophical in the highest degree to consider those ancient priests as impostors on this account, or to speak of their propagation of error as craft. Meditating, in seclusion and solitude, on the few truths which had come down to them by tradition or been discovered by reason, they soon bewildered their own wits, and wandered into superstition.[997] As was too natural, they conceived that the Divinity must be desirous of giving them signs, marking what was to be done and what avoided. The mistake of concomitance for causation, often made in more learned and refined ages, would 352confirm them in this view. They would, for example, find that in the order of time the flight of certain birds over their heads, the appearance of a serpent in their path, the apparition of certain objects in a dream, was followed by certain misfortunes; while other apparitions were succeeded by contrary events. Out of these observations the science of augury, divination, &c. arose. Yet the inventors were not therefore impostors, but rather, in their intentions, benefactors of mankind; and to be respected accordingly.

The generation of polytheism is to be in like manner explained. It was an abuse of the inductive method of philosophy. Men perceived, as soon as they began to observe nature and draw inferences from what they beheld, that the sun and moon[998] exert extraordinary influence, beneficial or hurtful, upon mankind and the world they inhabit; and the supposition was neither unnatural nor absurd that those glorious bodies, by whose rising and setting, by whose approximation or retreat, they were in turn affected with gladness or melancholy, with comfort or discomfort, with good or evil, must be themselves possessed of intelligence as well as power, or at least be inhabited and directed by beings on whom they bestowed the name of gods. The air, too, “which bloweth where it listeth while thou canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth,” sweeping around them invisibly, and appearing only in its effects, soon obtained the rank of a deity,[999] as 353did the ocean which appears to be alive in all its extent, and the earth on whose inexhaustible bounty we subsist.

Out of these elements the sacerdotal families of Greece framed its religion, which, however, is by no means to be considered a system of materialism. They conceived every portion of nature to be animated by its particular soul, just as they believed the whole, as a whole, to have one universal soul, the source of all the others. Their mythology was based on unity. At every step backwards we find the number of gods diminish, till at length we arrive at the Great One, surrounded by the unfathomable splendours of eternity. This is the θεὸς ὁ θεῶν Ζεὺς, of whom Plato[1000] and Aristotle constantly speak when they employ the expression τὸ δαιμόνιον.[1001] Philosophy, indeed, considered it to be its chiefest task to deliver men from their multitudinous errors respecting the nature of God, and of our duties towards Him; so that, in their speculative notions, very little difference from our own can be detected. Above all men, Plato sought to elevate the sphere of philosophy. In his works, in truth, it moves frequently within the confines of theology, and seldom quits them except for the purpose of infusing spirituality into politics and morals.

This great man, whose profound veneration for the Deity equalled, perhaps, that of Newton himself, conceived that human happiness consists wholly in the knowledge of God, concerning whose character and attributes he was anxious that no unworthy ideas should be entertained. His doctrine was, “that we should ever describe God such as he is.” But, as Muretus has well observed, this was requiring too much of human nature, for, most assuredly, we should never speak of God if we waited to discover language befitting His majesty. “For the mind of man is incapable of comprehending the essence 354of God; the nature of God is known to God alone; he alone perfectly understands himself, and in himself all things. The mind of man waxes dim, beholding that stupendous light whose brightness excels all other lights; and, in proportion as it endeavours more daringly to soar, is it conscious of falling below its great aim.”[1002] The Egyptians expressed the same conviction in the celebrated epigraph on the base of the veiled statue of Neith at Saïs: “I am whatever has been, is, or shall be, and no mortal has drawn aside my veil.” To the same purpose was the saying of Simonides to Hiero, “that the more he contemplated the Divine Nature the less he appeared to comprehend it.” And Socrates, in the Philebos of Plato, observes that he shuddered as often as the Great Name was to be pronounced lest he should bestow upon it some unworthy epithet.

It would appear, indeed, that the idea which the theologians of Greece had formed of the Almighty was very nearly the same as our own; though, in compliance with popular prejudices, they often made use of the plural for the singular. Goodness, power, and knowledge were his characteristics, which in substance are the same as the types of the theologians of modern times—goodness, immutability, truth,—goodness leading the van in both cases, and the remaining conditions answering perfectly to each other. For in supreme power and supreme wisdom must be immutability and truth, since the Almighty can do all he wills and must ever will what is right.[1003] In accordance with these views, the spiritual philosophy of Greece maintained that the Deity is the source of no evil, though traces of a far different theory are here and there discoverable among the poets. Thus, speaking of the calamities arising from the anger of Achilles, Homer says

Διὸς δ᾽ ἐτελείετο βουλή.

355And, again—

Ζεὺς δ᾽ ἀρετὴν ἄνδρασιν ὀφέλλει τε, μινύθει τε
Ὅππως κεν ἐθέλησιν.[1004]

So, again, the two vases in the palace of Zeus, out of which he distributed good and evil to mankind.[1005] Hesiod also introduces Zeus, boasting that instead of fire he will give men a curse:—

Τοῖς δ᾽ ἐγὼ ἀντὶ πυρὸς δώσω κακόν

But in all ages men lay their misfortunes at the door of Providence. However, though the notions men entertain of God be ever so just, their conduct will not be thereby influenced, or a religion, properly speaking, created, unless several other truths be equally believed. It must be established not only that the maker of the universe still regards his workmanship, and will punish all those who seek to disorder the machine, by entailing remorse upon transgression, but that man is not a fugitive being, who can escape out of the hands of God by shrinking into annihilation, but a creature who, in accordance with his will, must run the vast circle of eternity, co-lasting with God himself.[1006] This is the great keystone of religion: without this, men will believe that even the Almighty can have no hold upon them; that they die, and their accountability ceases. The doctrine of immortality, however, has everywhere opened the skies to man, and set him upon the discovery of the steps leading thither, and, at the same time, has checked his daring, and poisoned his guilty pleasures.

From the remotest ages the immortality of the soul constituted a leading dogma in the religion of Greece, and was necessarily accompanied by the persuasion, that to the good that immortality would bring happiness, and to the evil the contrary.[1007] Homer is full of this, and the fables, wherein the enemies of God, parricides, 356murderers, the perpetrators of impiety and wrong, are, after death, banished to the depths of Tartarus, while various degrees of glory and happiness, not altogether unlike what is sublimely shadowed forth by St. Paul, are attributed to the good. That part, for example, of Heracles, which is divine, ascends to Heaven: Achilles enjoys the everlasting serenity of the Islands of the Blessed; and, generally, every virtuous man who rightly performed his duty ascended to the mansion prepared for him in the stars, there to live for ever in happiness.[1008] They taught, moreover, that the spirit of man is of heavenly birth: without this we had lived as so many animals. But God bestowed upon us an immortal soul, to watch as a guardian angel over the body, and placed it in the loftiest part of our frame, to teach us to look upward, and remember our birth,—that men are not creatures of clay but children of God and heirs of immortality.[1009]

It will not, however, surprise those who comprehend the constitution of human nature, to find that the Greeks, deprived as they were of revelation, were not content with the simple dogma of immortality, rendered happy or otherwise by rewards and punishments, but imagined a return of the soul to earth, and its passage through a long succession of bodies, until the stains,[1010] contracted during its first sojourn, had been obliterated: properly, therefore, their Hell was a kind of Purgatory, and, no doubt, suggested the original idea of that intermediate place to the Church of Rome. The religious part of the pagan world, those especially who went through the ceremonies of expiation and initiatory rites, firmly believed that bad men 357met in the realms of Hades with a just retribution for their crimes, and were again launched into the career of life, that they might receive from others that which they had done unto them.[1011] Though even in those days there were not wanting persons who affected to possess the power of absolution, nay, of granting for a moderate sum of money indulgences and licences to sin. These ragged impostors, of course, patronised only rich sinners, over whose heads vengeance might be hanging for crimes committed either by themselves or their ancestors, (since the Greeks also believed that the sins of the parents are visited upon the children to the third and fourth generations,[1012]) professing to be masters of arts and incantations by which the gods were compelled to grant their prayers.

But while the vulgar and the superstitious were thus deluded, they who possessed superior education and superior minds, united, with a belief in the future, a more cheerful faith in the justice and beneficence of the Deity. They discovered, even by the light of reason, that human nature has been perverted from its original perfection,—that an evil principle has been introduced into our inmost essence,—that in our sinful state we are at enmity with God and all goodness,—and must by prayers and sacrifices be purified and reconciled to him ere we can taste of happiness. On the subject of prayer the wiser Greeks entertained notions not wholly unbecoming a Christian.[1013] They well enough understood, that it is not to be considered as an importuning of God for wealth or fame or wisdom, or, as ignorant persons suppose, an impious desire that 358He would for our sakes depart from his eternal purposes; but merely the nourishing in our minds of a profound veneration for the Almighty, a trust in his Providence and wisdom, an habitual disclosure voluntarily made of our inmost thoughts and desires, which must be known to him whether we will or not. Hence the great philosopher of antiquity[1014] simply prayed for those things which it might please God to send, and that if he asked for anything wrong it might be denied him.

It is no doubt true, as Mr. Mitford[1015] has observed, that the Gods in Homer are sometimes introduced favouring the perpetrators of injustice. But this is in contradiction to the general tone of the Greek religion; according to the tenets of which, every injured person had his Erinnyes who avenged whatever wrongs or violence he might suffer. Nay, even animals were comprised within the protecting circle of this beneficent superstition; and the God Pan was intrusted with the punishment of excesses perpetrated against them,[1016]

“When vultures that, with grief exceeding measure,
Lament their heart’s lost treasure,
And o’er their empty nest, in torturing woe,
Pass to and fro,
Borne on their oarlike wings,
Missing the task that brings
Joy with it, send their piercing wail on high,
Apollo, Pan, or Zeus hearing the cry,
Charges th’ Erinnyes, though late,
The penalty decreed by Fate
To visit on the spoilers far or nigh.”

Another doctrine, which we might scarcely expect to discover in paganism, constituted, nevertheless, a part of the Greek religion,—I mean the power of penitence. 359In all cases, indeed, this would not avail. The laws of nature (πεπρωμένη, fate) would have their course whatever might be the conduct or disposition of man; but in all other cases, tears[1017] shed in secret, solemn acts of religion, and deep contrition were supposed to appease the anger of Heaven. Besides, when afflictions fell upon men, they were not necessarily regarded as evils; for by suffering, the soul, they thought, is purified, chastened, endued with wisdom,—

“Sweet are the uses of adversity;”

and, hence, of those trials which ignorance regards as evils, most, if not all, are but so many dispensations of mercy, designed to work off the dross of sin, and restore the spirit to its original brightness.[1018] By these means, likewise, transgressors were believed to make some atonement for their crimes. Remembrance haunted them even in sleep. Their miseries rose up before them, compassed them round, and urged them by invisible stripes into her track, “whose ways are ways of pleasantness, and all whose paths are peace.”

But over the impenitent wicked vengeance for ever impended; nor could wealth or rank purchase impunity, as the bare-footed friars and ass-mounters of the time were fain to persuade the credulous and weak-minded. Long withheld, the anger of the Gods descended at length in showers, utterly extirpating the evil-doers.[1019] Thus perished Paris, the violator of marriage and of hospitable rites; thus Clytemnæstra and Ægisthos, adulterers and murderers; thus the whole house of Œdipos, involved in an unutterable cycle of misery and crime. The interval, moreover, between the commission of guilt and its final punishment, was given up to the Erinnyes,[1020] those dire and 360mysterious powers of vengeance, whose breathless chace after crime is pourtrayed with so much sublimity by Sophocles. These divinities, starting into instant birth, whenever blood was unlawfully shed, walked perpetually beside the murderer to his grave,—to him alone visible, to him alone audible.

The gross and carnal-minded contrived, indeed, in the case of lesser transgressions, to remain blind to this deformity, while youth and health and prosperity cast their illusions over their path. But age in this matter sharpened their sight. On drawing near the brink of the grave, the vices, hitherto so blythe and comely, appeared to grow more shrivelled and hideous and unlovely than their own impure countenances, and they would then fain have parted company with them. But, no! Having been comrades of their own choosing, Zeus chained them to their side to the last, unless repentance severed the link; and their fearful howlings, night and day, broke their repose, harrowed up their feelings, augmented tenfold their terrors, while sweat and tears, and agonising shrieks burst from them even in their dreams. The wicked, therefore, in the deepest darkness of paganism, were not left wholly to the error of their ways. But God reserved himself a witness in their hearts, and set up a light by which they might rightly, if they chose, direct their footsteps. It is true that the cardinal verities of religion were then but very imperfectly perceived, that, to get at them at all, men had to break through the shells of many fables, and that, when found, they must be for the most part enjoyed in secret, far from the din of ambition. Not, indeed, that the people refused their sympathy to virtue,—public opinion is never so far corrupted,—but that in the world there has always existed a strong current bearing men far from the track of duty and holiness.

There was, no doubt, some degree of fanaticism mixed up with all this. The priesthood, an order of men much calumniated, but without whom society 361would be worse by far than it is, found it necessary to allure men into the bosom of their church by imposing ceremonies, by sacrifices, and by the mysterious disclosure of certain truths in the performance of certain rites. It will be seen that I allude to the mysteries. On the occasion of initiation, as if to intimate that men cannot be virtuous or religious by proxy, each individual became his own priest and sacrificed[1021] for himself. But in what initiation itself consisted, no man knows. Antiquity has revealed nothing, and nothing can we discover. The hypotheses of scholars are, therefore, so many dreams, and a mere waste of ingenuity; for, if they should by chance hit the mark, there exist no means of proving that they have done so. But of this we are sure, that a persuasion was widely spread that a blissful immortality awaited the initiated. A greater degree of holiness was supposed to attach to them,—there was a spell shed around their persons,—in situations of danger they experienced less of the fear of death. In storms, for example, at sea, when the ship seemed about to sink—"Have you been initiated?" was the question men asked each other. Still, among philosophers, the wisest and best sometimes neglected this popular consummation of a pious life. Socrates belonged not to this communion, a circumstance which rendered it more easy to fasten upon him the charge of impiety, in those days more atrocious than now, since, to be esteemed inimical to the gods, was the surest way to make enemies of men. Further than this, it is not necessary that I enter into the gentile faith, which only incidentally, as it affected morals, belongs to my subject.

But there exists in all countries a minor cycle of superstitions, which, more strongly perhaps than anything paints the peculiarities of the national character. In the north, as we know, this indigenous belief has survived all changes in the public creed, and will subsist 362to the last, lingering among our woods, our ruins, our moonlit meadows, our churchyards, by our firesides. Fairies, witches, ghosts, goblins can by no advances in civilisation be put to flight. They sail in our steamers on the ocean, ride at quickest speed along the railroads, go to bed with the first lady in the land, and even nestle beneath the statesman’s vest.[1022] With us these aërial beings, or spectres of crime, too commonly assume an aspect grotesque or devilish, but they nevertheless keep alive in the popular mind the spirit of romance and poetry, one of the never-failing handmaids of religion. Mythology rarely penetrates down to these primitive superstitions, which, however, constitute the basis of the whole science, and in Greece assumed, in many cases, forms of beauty analogous to its loftier and more poetic fables.

The place occupied in our own popular mythology by the “light-sandalled fays,” was in Greece filled by the Hamadryads and Nymphs.[1023] No wood or grove or solitary tree, no fountain or rill in moss-grown cell or rustic cavern, existed without its co-existent divinity, female generally, and instinct with beauty and beneficence. These creatures, the Jinn and Jinneh of the Arabs, extended their dominion over all minor streams, and sported, in the softness and stillness of night, athwart the billows silvered by the moon; but the deities of great rivers, as the Acheloös, the Peneios, and others, were male. Being only a few degrees raised above humanity, they were often enamoured of mortals, to whom they appeared arrayed in loveliness, amid the glimmering forests, 363at dawn or twilight, or when

“overhead the moon
Wheels her pale course.”

It was not always, however, that the love of a nymph proved a blessing. There were occasions when, having for a moment revealed their superhuman charms to some shepherd in his romantic solitude, or to some poet worshiping the muses alone, beside the inspiring mount or spring, they again capriciously withdrew, and left him vision-smitten to pine or, perchance, to die.

Nor were the Greeks wholly devoid of belief in evil spirits, for the demon Alastor,[1024] which was a deification of the principle that incites to crime and afterwards brings vengeance, can in no way be regarded as good. Typhon, too, with the Giants and Titans, had at least a predominance of evil in their character, but these are treated of at length by the mythologists. Several superstitions, commonly supposed to be wholly Oriental, were current in Greece, such as that men had the power by using certain spells to quit their mortal forms and roam disembodied through the earth. By magic rings, too, and helmets they might be rendered invisible, and, thus protected, enter into the secret chambers of kings, pollute their wives, and rifle their treasures.[1025] Means, moreover, they had, confounded in those ages with supernatural power, of charming poisonous serpents, as to this day is done by the subjects of our Eastern empire, and the snake-catchers of Egypt; and though it be now known that opium constitutes no small portion of this charm, the people 364generally, both in the East and West, conceive other influences to be employed than those of legitimate art.

There was not in later times, perhaps, that boundless faith in spells and transformations still subsisting in the East. But in the earlier ages, and in the gloomy mountain recesses of Arcadia, events equally strange were supposed to have happened. Thus Lycaon having sacrificed an infant to Zeus Lycæos, and sprinkled the blood upon the altar, immediately became a wolf;[1026] and it was reported that any one who performed this dreadful sacrifice, and afterwards by accident tasted of the human entrails, when mingled with those of other victims, forthwith underwent the same transformation.[1027] Thus we find the gloomy legend of the Breton forests existing in the heart of the Peloponnesos, where there can, I fear, be little doubt, that human victims were habitually offered up. Another ancient superstition, which found its way into Italy, was, that a person first seen by a wolf lost his voice, whereas if the man obtained the prior glimpse of the animal no evil ensued.[1028]

The belief in ghosts, coeval no doubt with man, flourished especially among the Greeks. Hesiod entertained peculiar notions on this subject, which some suppose to have been borrowed from the East, that is, he believed that the good men of former times became, at their decease, guardian spirits, and were entrusted[1029] with the care of future races. Plato adopts these ghosts, and gives them admission into his Republic, where they perform an important part and receive peculiar honours.[1030] When they appeared, 365as sometimes they would, by day, their visages were pale and their forms unsubstantial like the creations of a dream.[1031] But, as among us, they chiefly affected the night for their gambols, and in Arcadia particularly, would appear to honest people returning home late in cross-roads, and such places whence they were not to be dislodged but by being pelted apparently by pellets made from bread crumb, on which men had wiped their fingers, carefully preserved for this purpose by the good folks about Phigaleia.[1032]

The most remarkable prank played by any ancient ghosts, however, with whose history I am acquainted, did not take place in Greece, but in the Campagna di Roma, where, after a bloody battle between the Romans and the Huns, in which all but the generals and their staff bit the dust, two spectral armies, the ghosts of the fallen warriors, appeared upon the field to enact the contest over again. During three whole days did these valiant souls of heroes, as the Homeric phrase is, carry on the struggle; and the historian who relates the fact, is careful to observe that they did not fall short of living soldiers, either in fire or courage. People saw them distinctly charge each other, and heard the clash of their arms. Similar exhibitions were to be seen in different parts of the ancient world. In the great plain of Sogda,[1033] for example, spectral armies of mighty courage but voiceless, were in the constant habit of engaging in mortal combat at the break of day. Caria likewise possessed a favourite 366haunt of these warlike phantoms. But here the apparition was only occasional, and all its evolutions were performed in the air, which was the case in England, as we have been assured by very old people, before the breaking-out of the American war. Another fray of ghosts took place every summer in Sicily on the plain of the Four Towers, but in this case the whole business was carried on at noon, to the no small annoyance of Pan who usually takes his siesta at that hour,—that is, if they were as noisy in their battles as the Campanian spectres.[1034]

Like the Roman Catholics, the Greeks had great faith in miraculous images, holy wells, &c. and their descendants still maintain the same creed. Near the Church of Haghia Parthenoë in Crete, is a most copious fountain deriving its name from the same holy and miracle-working virgins to whom the church is dedicated, and who also preside over the waters. “The worship of the headless body of Molos has also its parallel in modern times.”[1035] As the Cretan Christians for many years reverenced the head of Titus, though deprived of its body, so their heathen ancestors used annually to honour by a religious festival the body of Molos, the well-known father of Meriones, though deprived of its head. The legend, told to explain the ancient ceremony in which the headless statue of a man thus exhibited, was that “after Molos got possession of a nymph’s person without having first obtained her consent, his body was found, but his head had disappeared.”[1036] An image of the Virgin travelled by water from Constantinople to Greece, where it was shortly after seen standing up in the waves near Mount Athos. Similar legends obtained of old. Near Biennos in Crete,[1037] “has been dug up the bones and skulls of giants, many of whom were eight or ten times the size of common men.”[1038]

367Of the various modes of penetrating into the future,[1039] prevalent among the people, I may mention some few. Prophetesses are frequently spoken of in Scripture, and in the Acts of the Apostles[1040] is given an account of a young female slave who brought her master large sums of money by this trade, which was that of a gipsy. Others there were who, like many among the Orientals, professed to understand the language of birds. A slave, said to possess this knowledge, is celebrated, by Porphyry, and was probably from the East.[1041] One sort of divination was practised by pouring drops of oil into a vessel and looking on it, when they pretended to behold a representation of what was to take place. This in Egypt is still practised, merely substituting ink for oil, and a great many travellers appear to believe in it. Soldiers going to war were especially liable to fall into this kind of foolery.[1042]

The use of holy water on entering temples is of great antiquity. This custom was called περίῤῥανσις, and the act was performed with the branch of the fortunate olive.[1043] There stood at the door of the temple a capacious lustral font, whose contents had been rendered holy by extinguishing[1044] therein a lighted brand from the altar; thence water was sprinkled on themselves, by worshipers or by the officiating priest. A similar apparatus stood at the entrance to the Agora, to purify the orators, &c. going to the public assembly. It was likewise placed at the door of private houses, wherein there was a corpse, that every one might purify himself on going out.[1045] Superstitious persons usually walked about 368with a laurel leaf in their mouth, or occasionally bearing a staff of laurel, there being a preserving power in that sacred shrub: hence arose the proverb δαφνίκην φορῶ βακτήριαν,—"I carry a laurel staff," when a man would say, I have no fear. Persons not thus protected it is to be presumed were terrified if a weasel or dog crossed their path; and the omen could only be averted by casting three stones at it, the number three being exceedingly agreeable to the gods. Certain fruits would not burst on the tree if three stones were cast into the same hole with the seed when the tree was planted. Two brothers walking on the way conceived it ominous of evil if they happened to be parted by a stone. On every trifling occasion altars and chapels were erected to the gods, particularly by women; no house or street was free from them. For example, if a snake crept into the house through the eaves, forthwith an altar was erected. At places where three roads met, stones were set up, to be worshiped by travellers, who anointed them with oil. If a mouse nibbled a hole in a corn-sack, they would fly to the portent interpreter, and inquire what they should do,—"Get it mended," was sometimes the honest reply. Horrid dreams[1046] might be expiated, and their evil effects be averted, by telling them to the rising sun. When the candles spit, it was a sign of rain.[1047] During thunder and lightning they made the noise called Poppysma,[1048] which it was hoped might avert the danger. On board ship sailors entertained the idea, that to carry a corpse would be the cause of shipwreck, as happened to the vessel which was bearing to Eubœa the bones of Pelops.[1049] The sailors of the Mediterranean, for this reason, will refuse to receive mummies on board.

993. Cf. Diog. Laert. Pr. iii. 4. Ἀρχαῖος μὲν οὖν τις λόγος καὶ πάτριος ἐστὶ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις, ὡς ἐκ θεοῦ τὰ πάντα, καὶ διὰ θεοῦ ἡμῖν συνέστηκεν.—Aristot. de Mund. c. 6. In c. 7. we have a curious list of the various epithets of Zeus, whose name the Pseudo-Aristotle conceives to signify the root of all existence: ὡς κᾄν εἰ λέγοιμεν, δἰ ὅν ζῶμεν. This thought St. Paul expresses by the well-known words—"in whom we live and move and have our being." The author of the Treatise De Mundo then quotes from the Orphic fragments a passage, the doctrine of which strongly resembles the Pantheism of Pope:

Ζεὺς πρῶτος γένετα, Ζεὺς ὕστατος ἀρχικέραυνος·
Ζεὺς κεφαλὴ, Ζεὺς μέσσα· Διὸς δ᾽ ἐκ πάντα τέτυκται·
Ζεὺς πυθμὴν γαίης τε καὶ οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος·
Ζεὺς ἄρσην γένετο, Ζεὺς ἄμβροτος ἔπλετο, νύμφη·
Ζεὺς πνοιὴ πάντων, Ζεὺς ἀκαμάτου πυρὸς ὁρμή·
Ζεὺς πόντου ῥίζα· Ζεὺς ἥλιος, ἠδὲ σελήνη·
Ζεὺς βασιλεὺς· Ζεὺς ἀρχὸς ἁπάντων ἀρχικέραυνος·
Πάντας γὰρ κρύψας αὖτις φάος ἐς πολυγηθὲς
Ἐξ ἱερῆς κραδίης ἀνενέγκατο μέρμερα ῥέζων.

Cf. Orphic. fragm. 6. p. 138.

994. “Do good to all,” an evangelical precept (Plat. Rep. i. § 9. p. 33. Stallb.), forming part of that philosophy which taught the Greeks what was honourable and what base, what just and what unjust, what was above all things to be desired and what avoided, how they were to demean themselves towards the gods, towards their parents, their elders, the laws, strangers, magistrates, friends, wives, children, slaves: to wit, that they were to reverence the gods, honour their parents, respect their elders, obey the laws, love their friends, be affectionate to their wives, solicitous for their children, compassionate towards their slaves.—Plut. de Educ. Puer. § 10.

995. Herod. ii. 52.

996. History of Greece, i. 97. Dioscorides in Athenæus observes that no sacrifice is so acceptable to the gods as that which is offered up by members of a family living in unison.—i. 15. In the earliest ages of the world the first-born of every family was esteemed a prophet.—Godwin, Moses et Aaron, i. 6. 2.

997. Plato, Crit. t. vii. 146.

998. Plat. de Legg. t. viii. p. 182.

999. The air was Zeus.—Lycoph. Cassand. 80. Meurs. Comm. p. 1179. To some particular state of which the ancients alluded when they spoke of Kronos seeking to devour his children and swallowing stones instead of them. For the teeth of time which produce no effect on the air appear to devour whatever is composed of the element of earth. Mythologists, however, have generally omitted to remark that the stones which Kronos mistook for his children were not ordinary blocks of basalt or granite but rather so many statues of children endued, pro tempore, with life.—Ἔτι δέ, φησὶν, ἐπενόησε θεὸς Οὐρανὸς βαιτύλια, λίθοις ἐμψύχοις μηχανησάμενος.—Sanchon. ap. Euseb. Præp. Evang. l. i. c. 10. p. 37.

1000. Crit. t. vii. p. 173.

1001. Poll. i. 5.

1002. Muret. ad Plat. Rep. p. 726.

1003. Muret. ad Plat. Rep. p. 727.

1004. Iliad, υ. 242. seq.

1005. Iliad, ω. 527. seq. Cf. Muret. p. 737.

1006. Sch. Aristoph. Nub. 95.

1007. Among the people of the East we even discover traces of the doctrine of the resurrection:—Καὶ ἀναβιώσεσθαι, κατὰ τοὺς Μάγους, φησὶ (Θεόπομποσ) τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, καὶ ἔσεσθαι ἀθανάτους.—Diog. Laert. Pr. vi. 9.

1008. Plato, Tim. Opp. vii. 45. Cf. p. 97.—Is there not some allusion in the following passage to the scriptural account of the creation of man before woman? Ὡς γάρ ποτε ἐξ ἀνδρῶν γυναῖκες καὶ τἄλλα θηρία γενήσοίντο ἠπίσταντο οἱ ξυνιστάντες ἡμᾶς.—Tim. Opp. t. vii. p. 111.

1009. Plato, Tim. Opp. t. vii. p. 137.

1010. Even among the ancient Christians this doctrine was not wholly exploded. Origen believed it:—Λέγει δὲ καὶ ἄλλα παραλογώτατα· καὶ δυσσεβείας πλήρη μετεμψυχώσείς τε γὰρ ληρωδεὶ καὶ ἐμψύχους τοὺς ἀστέρας καὶ ἑτέρα τούτοις παραπλησία.—Phot. Bib. p. 3. seq.

1011. Plato de Legg. ix. Opp. viii. 152. seq. Cf. 172. seq. 191. seq. De Rep. i. Opp. vi. 9. sqq.

1012. De Rep. ii. 7. t. i. p. 112. sqq. Stallb.—The belief that children suffered for the crimes of their parents, which widely pervaded the pagan world, is nowhere more clearly stated than by Plato:—Γὰρ ἐν Αἵδου δίκην δώσομεν ὧν ἂν ἐνθαδε ἀδικήσωμεν, ἢ αὐτσὶ ἢ παῖδες παῖδων.—Id. c. 8. p. 119.

1013. Cf. Mitford, Hist. of Greece, i. 115. 8vo.

1014. Xen. Mem. i. 3. 2. Cf. Plut. Inst. Lac. § 26.

1015. Hist. of Greece, i. 108.

1016. Æsch. Agam. 55. sqq. with the commentary of Klausen. p. 104.—There occurs in the Scriptures a like sentiment, “He who stilleth the young ravens, when they cry.” So also the Mahomedan tradition, that in the midst of a battle-field, where two mighty hosts were engaged, God preserved from the hoofs of the chargers, and from the feet of men, the lapwing’s nest.

1017. Πηγὴ δακρύων—Soph. Trach. 852. Antig. 802. A Scriptural expression, “O that mine eyes were a fountain of tears.” Æsch. Agam. 68. sqq. Eumen. 900. Suppl. 1040.

1018. Æsch. Agam. 160. sqq.—Klaus. Com. p. 120. Hence the proverb, παθήματα μαθήματα.—Blomfield.

1019. Pind. Pyth. iii. 11. Æsch. Agam. 342. sqq. Klausen. Com. p. 140.

1020. Cf. Æsch. Eum. 859. seq.—Schol. ad Æsch. Tim. Orat. Att. t. 12. p. 384.

1021. Schol. Aristoph. Acharn. 712.

1022. See, for example, Lord Castlereagh’s vision of the fire-devil in Mr. Lockhart’s Life of Sir Walter Scott.

1023. The same superstitions, a little modified, are still found in many parts of Greece. “The religious feelings of the Cretan, in the nineteenth century, differ very little, if at all, from those entertained for the Naïads by his heathen ancestors.”—Pashley, Trav. in Crete, i. 89.

1024. Cf. Poppo, Proleg. in Thucyd. i. 14. Xenarchos observes that the home perishes when conflicting fortunes attach to the master, and into which the Alastor creeps:

φθίνει δόμος
ἀσυντάτοισι δεσποτῶν κεχρημένος
τύχαις, ἀλάστωρ τ᾽ εἰσπέπαικε.

Ap. Athen. ii. 64. seq. See also Æsch. Choeph. 119. Eumen. 560. 802. with Klausen. Æsch. Theolog. i. 9. 56. seq. et ad Agam. p. 119. The Egyptians had their Babys or Typhon, a god of evil.—Athen. xv. 25.

1025. Plat. Rep. ii. § 3. Stallb.

1026. Paus. viii. 2, 3. Cf. Plat. Rep. viii. 16. Stallb.

1027. Plat. Rep. viii. 16. t. ii. p. 223. Stallb. Cf. Bœckh in Platon. Minoem. p. 55. seq.

1028. Muret. ad Plat. Rep. i. p. 670. where, with much ingenuity, he detects an allusion to this superstition in a hasty glance of the philosopher.—Plin. Hist. Nat. viii. 34. Schol. ad Theocr. xiv. 21. Virg. Ecl. ix. 53. Donat. in Ter. Adelph. iv. 1. 21. et Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. i. 37.

1029. Hes. Opp. et Dies, 121. seq. where see Goettling.

1030. De Rep. v. 15. t. i. 377. seq. The Magi, among whom supernatural sights and powers were most familiar, maintained that the Gods occasionally appeared to them, and that the atmosphere is filled with spectral shadows, which, floating about like mists or exhalations, are visible to the sharpsighted.—Diog. Laert. Pr. vi. 9. A similar belief prevailed among the early anchorites. “It was their firm persuasion, that the air which they breathed was peopled with invisible enemies; with innumerable dæmons who watched every occasion and assumed every form, to terrify, and, above all, to tempt, their unguarded virtue.”—Gibbon, vi. 263.

1031. Æsch. Agam. 68.—Klaus. Com. p. 108.

1032. Athen. iv. 31.

1033. Which had once been a lake.—Vit. Isidor. ap. Phot. Bib. p. 839.

1034. Phot. Bib. p. 339.

1035. Pashley, Travels in Crete, i. 88.

1036. Pashley, Travels in Crete, i. 177.—Plut. de Orac. Def.

1037. Herod. iv. 33.—Pashley, Travels in Crete, i. 192.

1038. Pashley, i. 278.

1039. See Max. Tyr. Diss. iii. p. 31–38.

1040. C. xvi. v. 16. sqq.

1041. De Abstinentiâ, iii. Cf. Cedren. Michael, Compotat. εἰσὶ γὰρ τίνες οἱ ἐν ἐλαίῳ ὁρίοντες μαντεύονται.—Schol. Aristoph. Acharn. 1093.

1042. Οἱ γὰρ ἐπὶ πόλεμον ἐξιόντες ἐπητήρουν τὰς διοσημείας.—Schol. Aristoph. Acharn. 1106.

1043. Ramo felicis olivæ.—Virgil. Æn. vi. 230.

1044. Athen. ix. 76.

1045. Casaub. ad Theophr. Char. p. 287. Eurip. Alcest. 99.

1046. Cf. Plut. Alcib. § 39.

1047. Casaub. ad Theophr. Char. p. 300.

1048. Sch. Aristoph. Vesp. 260. 262. 626.

1049. Pausan. v. 13. 4. Palm. Exerc. in Auct. Græc. d. 398.




There is no question connected with Grecian manners more difficult than that which concerns the character and condition of women.[1050] On so many points did they differ in this matter from us, that, unless we can conceive ourselves to be in the wrong, the condemnation of the whole Hellenic theory of female rights and interests and influence must, as a matter of course, ensue. I do not say that, after all, this is not the conclusion we should come to. Reason may possibly be on our side; but certainly it appears to me, that too little pains has hitherto been taken to arrive at the truth; and as it is a consideration by no means unimportant, I have bestowed on it more than ordinary attention in the hope of letting in additional light, however little, on this obscure and unheeded department of antiquities.

In form the Greek woman was so perfect as to be still taken as the type of her sex. Her beauty, from whatever cause, bordered closely upon the ideal, 370or rather was that which, because now only found in works of art, we denominate the ideal. But our conceptions of form never transcend what is found in Nature. She bounds our ideas by a circle over which we cannot step. The sculptors of Greece represented nothing but what they saw,[1051] and even when the cunning of their hand was most felicitous, even when loveliness and grace and all the poetry of womanhood appeared to breathe from their marbles, the inferiority of their imitations to the creations of God, in properties belonging to form, in mere contour, in the grouping and developement of features, must have sufficed to impress even upon Pheidias, that high priest of art, the conviction of how childish it were to dream of rising above nature. The beauty of Greece was, indeed, a creature of earth, but suggested aspirations beyond it. Every feature in the countenance uttered impassioned language, was rife with tenderness, instinct with love. The pulses of the heart, warm and rapid, seemed to possess ready interpreters in the eye. But, radiant over all, the imagination shed its poetic splendour, communicating a dignity, an elevation, a manifestation of soul, which lent to passion all the moral purity and enduring force that belong to love, when love is least tainted with unspiritual and ignoble selfishness.

I despair, however, of representing by words what 371neither Pheidias nor Polycletos could represent in marble or ivory. The women of Greece were neither large nor tall. The whole figure, graceful but not slender, left the imagination nothing to desire. It was satisfied with what was before it. Limbs exquisitely moulded,[1052] round, smooth, tapering, a torso undulating upwards in the richest curves to the neck, a bosom somewhat inclined to fulness, but in configuration perfect, features in which the utmost delicacy was blended with whatever is noblest and most dignified in expression. Both blue eyes and black[1053] were found in Greece, but the latter most commonly. Even Aphrodite, spite of her auburn hair, comes before us in the Iliad with large black eyes, beaming with humid fire. No goddess but the Attic virgin has the cold blue eye of the North, becoming her maidenly character, reserved, firm, affectionate, with a dash of shrewishness. The nose was straight and admirably proportioned, without anything of that breadth which in the works of inferior sculptors creates an idea of Amazonian fierceness. Beauty itself had shaped the mouth and chin, and basked and sported in them. In these, above all, the Grecian woman excelled the barbarians. Other features they might have resembling hers, but 372seldom that Attic mouth, that dimpled, oval, richly-rounded chin, which imprinted the crowning characteristic of womanhood upon her face, and stamped her mistress of man and of the world.

A creature thus fashioned and gifted with an intellect which, if less robust and comprehensive, is equally active with that of man and still more flexible, could scarcely be degraded into a domestic drudge and slave, and in Greece was not.[1054] Already, in the heroic ages, women occupied a commanding position in society, somewhat less honourable than is their due, but, in many respects, higher and more to be envied than was appropriated to them in the ignorant and corrupt times of chivalry which the Homeric period has been thought greatly to resemble. In those days, though fashion required more reserve in the female character than is consistent with the spirit of modern manners, persons of different sexes could meet and converse together without scandal. Gentlewomen of the highest rank went abroad under their own guidance. On the arrival of a foreign ship upon the shore we find an Argive princess descending without any male protector to cheapen articles of dress and trinkets, which however, as the event proved, was not without danger, for both she herself and a number of her maids were carried away captives by the perfidious strangers.[1055]

Homer abounds with proofs both of the liberty women enjoyed and the high estimation in which they were held. They were quite as much as is consistent with prudence and delicacy the companions of men.[1056] And in more than one particular, as in the bathing[1057] and perfuming of distinguished male 373guests, the manners of those times allowed of or rather enjoined familiarities greater than the customs of any civilised modern nations permit. Ladies lived at large with their husbands and families in the more frequented parts of the house, dined and drank wine with them, rode or walked out in their company, or, attended by a female servant, and were, in fact, in the modern sense of the word, mistresses of the house and everything it contained.

When the husband happened to be absent it was not, indeed, considered delicate, if the mansion was filled with youthful and petulant guests, for the wife to be seen much among them,[1058] though it still appears to have been incumbent upon married ladies to exercise the rites of hospitality, which sometimes, as in the case of Helen, opened the way to intrigue and elopement. A similar event, veiled in mythological obscurity, shipwrecked the virtue of Alcmena.[1059] Clytemnæstra, too, and Ægialeia the wife of Diomede, fell before the temptations afforded by the absence of their lords,[1060] while Penelope surrounded with youthful suitors, assailed by reports of her husband’s death, alternately soothed and menaced, remained true to her vows and became to all ages the pattern of conjugal fidelity.

The examples are many of the facility of their intercourse with strangers. Sthenobœa wife of Prœtos, king of Argos, must have enjoyed numerous occasions of being alone with Bellerophon before she could, like the wife of Potiphar, have tried his 374honour and forfeited her own.[1061] Helen after her return to Sparta, banquets and associates freely with strangers at the table of her husband, where, by her conversation and remarks, we discover how quick and penetrating the understanding of women was in those ages supposed to be. Nothing could be further from the mind of those heroic warriors than the idea of regarding woman merely as an object of desire, or as a household drudge.[1062] If she receives praise for her beauty, or industrious habits, still more is she celebrated for her mental endowments, for her wisdom, for her maternal love. Where in fiction or in life shall we find a lady more gentle, more graceful, more accomplished, more gifted with every charm of womanhood than Helen, who, nevertheless, falls a prey to seduction! Where more feminine tenderness, or truer love than in Andromache? Where more matronly sweetness and dignity than in the Phæacian Arete; more unblameable vivacity, blithe unreserve, greater sensibility, united with the noblest maiden modesty, self command and proud consciousness of virtue, than in that loveliest of poetical creations her daughter Nausicaa.

Homer himself felt all the charm of this exquisite creation and lingered over it with the fondness of a parent. She is the very flower of the heroic age. In the rapid glimpse afforded us of her life, we discover what the condition and occupations of a noble virgin were in those primitive times, a felicitous mixture of splendour and simplicity, approaching nature in the rough energy of the passions, with feelings healthy and vigorous and happy in the utter absence of sickly sentimentality. Though daughter to a king Nausicaa does not disdain to care for the family wardrobe. Her nuptial day is not far distant, and, agreeably to the nature of her sex in all 375ages, she is desirous that her dress should on that occasion appear to the best advantage, but to her father modestly feigns to think principally of her brothers.[1063] Alcinoos aware of the feint, smiles inwardly while he approves of her solicitude. With his ready permission she piles the garments on the royal car drawn by mules, and then, mounting the seat whip in hand, departs for the distant rivulet accompanied by her maids. Of these girls, the poet says, two, clothed by the graces with loveliness, used to sleep in the Princess’s chamber one on either side the door.

On reaching the secluded spot, the umbrageous embouchure of a mountain brook where they usually performed their lowly task, it was their first care to unharness the mules, which were turned loose to graze on the shore. Their labours occupy them but a portion of the morning, and these concluded, they dine sumptuously enough, in some shady nook overlooking the stream, on wine and viands brought along with them from the palace. To remove every idea of sordid toil and fatigue Homer is careful to represent them full of life and animal spirits, bounding sportively along the meadows, having first bathed and lubricated their limbs with fragrant oils. The game which engages them while their robes and veils are drying on the pebbly beach received in later ages the name of Phæninda,[1063] and consisted in throwing a ball unexpectedly from one individual to another of a large party scattered over a field. As it was uncertain to whom the person in possession of the ball would cast it, every one was on the watch, and much of the sport arose from the eagerness of each to catch it.

In this game the princess takes part, laughing and singing with the rest, and it is a clumsy throw of hers which sends the ball into the river that excites the loud exclamation from her maids which 376awakens Odysseus. Her conversation with the hero thereupon ensuing suggests a high notion of female education at the period. The maids of honour terrified at his strange and grotesque appearance, unclothed, and deformed with ooze and mud, take to flight, but Nausicaa relying on the respect due to her father maintains her ground. Odysseus reverencing her youth and beauty prefers his petition from a distance. She grants far more than he seeks, and with many indications of female gentleness mingles so much self-possession, forethought, compassion for misfortune, consideration of what is due to her own character, and confidence in the generosity and unsuspicious goodness of her parents, that we are constrained to suppose the existence of much instruction, mental training, and knowledge of the world. And if such qualifications had not at that time been found in women, Homer had much too keen a sense of propriety to have hazarded his reputation and his bread by supposing their prevalence in his poems.[1064]

How the women of the heroic times received their instruction it is not difficult to comprehend, though there has come down to us very little positive information on the subject. The poets, those prophetic teachers of the infancy of humanity, had already commenced their revelations of the good and beautiful. Wandering from town to town, under the immediate direction of Providence, they scattered far and near the seeds of civilisation. Their songs were in every mouth: both youths and maidens imbibed the wisdom they contained, and with their sprightly strains, as in the case of Nausicaa, enlivened their lighter moments when alone, or delighted the noble and numerous guests at their fathers’ board. Homer, indeed, nowhere introduces a lady singing at an entertainment, 377excepting in Olympos, where the Muses represent the sex; but Æschylus, a poet profoundly versed in antiquity, speaks of Iphigenia as performing this sweet office in her father’s hall.[1065] The daughter of Alcinoos, however, shares in the amusements and instruction supplied by the bard during the entertainment described by Homer, and converses freely with their illustrious guest.[1066]

We have above seen that women in those ages were not creatures of mere luxury or show. Possessing considerable physical power and energy, and much skill in the elegant and useful arts of life, they were deterred by no false pride or ignorant prejudices from converting their capacity to the use of their families. The magnificence of their attire, their costly ornaments, or the consciousness of the highest personal beauty, nowise interfered with their thrifty habits; and Lord Bacon[1067] tells a very good anecdote to show that the same in former days was the case in England. There was a lady of the West country, he says, who gave great entertainments at her house to most of the gallant gentlemen of her neighbourhood, among whom Sir Walter Raleigh was one. This lady, though otherwise a stately dame, was a notable good housewife, and in the morning betimes she called to one of her maids that looked to the swine, and asked, “Is the piggy served?” Sir Walter’s chamber being near the lady’s, he heard this homely inquiry. A little before dinner the lady came down in great state to the drawing-room, which was full of gentlemen, and as soon as Sir Walter Raleigh saw her, “Madam,” says he, “is the piggy served?” To which the lady replied, “You know best whether you have had your breakfast.”

An Homeric princess resembled this stately dame 378of the West, in thinking nothing beneath her which could contribute to the comfort or elegant adornment of those she loved. The employments of women in those ages, however, included some things which, in the present state of the useful arts, would seldom fall to their share, and among these were the labours of the loom, to excel in which was evidently considered one of their chiefest accomplishments and most necessary duties.[1068] In this occupation they took refuge from anxiety and sorrow; to this we find Hector with rough tenderness urging his beloved wife to have recourse, when her affection would withdraw him from his post;[1069] and Telemachus, in a tone somewhat too authoritative, recommends, in the Odyssey, the same course to his mother:[1070] and in the Eastern world the same tastes and habits continued to prevail down to a very late age. When Sisygambis, the captive Persian queen, was presented, however, by Alexander with purple and wool, she sank into an agony of grief and tears: they reminded her of happier days. But the conqueror, misunderstanding her feelings, and desirous to remove the notion that he was imposing any servile task, observed:—"This garment, mother, which you see me wear, is not merely the gift but the work also of my sisters."[1071] Similar presents passed between near relations in Persia; for in Herodotus we find Amestris, the queen of Xerxes, conferring upon her husband, as a gift of price, a richly variegated and ample pelisse, which the labours of her own fair hands had rendered valuable.[1072] Augustus, too, even when all simplicity of manners had expired with the republic, affected still to bring up the females of his family upon the antique model, and wore no garments but such as were manufactured in his own house.[1073]

To return: constant practice and the delight which familiar and voluntary labour inspires, had already in the heroic ages, enabled the Grecian ladies to throw 379much splendour and richness of invention into their fabrics. The desire also, perhaps, of excelling in works of this kind the ladies of Sidon, communicated an additional impulse to their industry. At all events, Homer makes it abundantly clear that they understood how to employ with singular felicity the arts of design, and to represent in colours brilliant and varied, cities, landscapes, human figures, and all the complicated movements of war.[1074] We must, no doubt, allow something for the poet’s own skill in painting; but, after every reasonable deduction, enough will remain still to prove that at the period of the Trojan war Greece had made remarkable progress in every art which tends to ameliorate and embellish human life.

Carding, also, and spinning entered into the list of their occupations. Even Helen though frail as fair, is laborious as a Penelope, plying her shuttle or her golden distaff, and surrounded habitually by a troop of she-manufacturers.[1075] Arete, queen of Phæacia, is likewise depicted sitting at the fire, distaff in hand, encircled by her maids;[1076] and the wife of Odysseus, famed for her household virtues, is seen in the Odyssey at her own door spinning the purple thread.[1077] The work-baskets of the ladies of that period, if we can rely on a poet’s word, were such as more modern dames might envy, formed of beaten gold and chased with figures richly wrought, and grouped with infinite taste and judgment.[1078] In these their balls of purple were deposited when spun, though probably reed baskets or osier work contented the ambition of ladies less aspiring than Europa.

380Women also, but chiefly slaves, performed in those primitive times all the operations of the kitchen. They even in the great establishment of Alcinoos work at the mill, as they do also in the palace of Odysseus, where guided perhaps by the nature of the climate we find the young women preferring for this operation the cool of the night.[1079] Even in later ages, when juster ideas of what is due to the sex prevailed, this severe toil sometimes devolved upon female slaves, though in general it was the males, and of these the most worthless, who worked the mills, regarded at length almost in the light of correctional establishments.[1080] But the making of bread was very properly appropriated to women almost throughout the East. The Egyptians, indeed, an effeminate and servile people, very early, as we learn from Genesis, confounded the offices of the sex; but among the Lydians, even in the palace of Crœsos, we meet with a female baker,[1081] and the Persian armies carried along with them women to bake their bread in their longest and most dangerous expeditions.[1082] In Greece to preside over the oven, was up to a very late period the prerogative of the fair. One hundred and ten women had the honour of being locked up with the handful of warriors who during three years baffled the whole force of the Peloponnesos from the glorious walls of Platæa,[1083] and in the primitive ages of Macedonia the queen herself prepared the bread distributed among the royal shepherds.[1084]

The Sacred Scriptures have rendered familiar and reconciled to us the simplicity of patriarchal manners. To behold the daughter of Bethuel or of Laban coming forth to draw water for her flock, does not strike us as at all out of keeping with the opulence or dignity of her father, or with her own feminine delicacy; and we know that at this present day the wealthiest Bedouin Sheikh of the desert, though lord of a thousand 381camels, discovers nothing in his daughter’s condition which should relieve her from this healthful employment. Similar notions prevailed among the Greeks of the Heroic Age. For though in many cases slave-maidens[1085] are found engaged in drawing water from the springs, virgins of noble birth, nay the daughters themselves of kings, descend to the fountain with their urns, mingling there with female captives and young women of inferior rank. Thus, for example, the princess of the Lestrygons in Homer goes forth with her water-jar[1086] to the well, and even among the Athenians, where refinement of manners first sprang up, and civilisation made most rapid strides, the daughters of the citizens in early times used to descend to the fountain of Callirrhoe to draw water.[1087] But the task was commonly allotted to female captives and other slaves. Euryclea, Odysseus’ house-keeper, sends a troop of girls on this errand with orders to be quick in their movements, and Hector, in his deep fear for Andromache, already in apprehension beholds her toiling at the fountains of Argos.[1088]

1050. Describing the approach to the temple of Aphrodite, Lucian says: εὐθὺς ἡμῖν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ τοῦ τεμένους Ἀφροδίσιοι προσέπνευσαν αὖραι.—Amor. § 12. These gentle airs should breathe into the style and language of the author who treats of the women of Greece; but, in my own case, research I fear and the effects of fifty-two degrees of north latitude will prevent this consummation so devoutly to be wished.

1051. On the beauty of the modern Greek women I can speak from my own observation; but most travellers are of the same opinion, and Mr. Douglas, in particular, gives the following testimony in their favour: “Though the delicacy of her form is not long able to sustain the heat of the climate and the immoderate use of the warm bath, I can scarcely trust myself to describe the beauty of a young Greek when arriving at the age which the ancients have so gracefully personified as the Χρυσοστέφανος Ἥβη. Were we to form our ideas of Grecian women from the wives of Albanian peasants we should be strangely deceived; but the islands of Andro, Tino, and, above all, that of Crete, contain forms upon which the chisel of Praxiteles would not have been misemployed.”—Essay, &c. p. 159.

1052. Cf. Winkelmann, iv. 4. 44.

1053. Plat. Repub. iv. t. vi. p. 167.—That black eyes were most common among the Greeks may be inferred from this, that, in describing the parts of the eye, they called the iris τὸ μέλαν, which is sometimes of one colour, and sometimes of another.—Arist. Hist. Anim. I. viii. 2. He observes, further on, that some persons had black eyes, others deep blue, others gray, others of the colour of goats.—§4. Other animals have eyes of one colour, except the horse, which has sometimes one blue eye. Eyes moderate in size and neither sunken nor projecting were esteemed the best.—§. 5. Large eyes, likewise, were greatly admired. Hence Hera is called βοῶπις by Homer. Aristœnetos, describing his Laïs, says: ὀφθαλμοὶ μεγάλοι τε καὶ διαυγεῖς καὶ καθαρῷ φωτὶ διαλάμποντες.—Scheffer ad Æl. Hist. Var. xii. 1. With respect to the colour of the hair see Winkelmann, iv. 4. 38. It was, of course, considered a great beauty to have it long, and, therefore, Helen, in honour of Clytemnæstra, cut off the points only.—Eurip. Orest. 128. seq.

1054. On the respect paid to women, see Demosth. in Ev. et Mnes. § 11.

1055. Herodot. i. 1.

1056. Athen. i. 18.

1057. Describing the beauty of Hippodameia, daughter of Anchises, Homer says, she excelled all the maidens of her age in beauty, skill in female accomplishments, and endowments of the mind, for which reason Alcathoos, the noblest man in Troy, chose her to be his wife.—Iliad, ε. 480. sqq. He must necessarily, therefore, have enjoyed opportunities of studying her character. Another illustration of the freedom of heroic female manners is furnished by the author of the Little Iliad, who relates that, when Aias and Odysseus were contending for the armour of Achilles, the Greeks, by the advice of Nestor, sent certain scouts to listen beneath the battlements of Troy to the conversation of the virgins who, in the cool of the evening, it may be presumed, were wont to walk upon the ramparts and converse frankly of the exploits of their illustrious enemies.—Sch. Aristoph. Equit. 1051. Cf. Il. ζ. 239.

1058. Hom. Odyss. α. 330. sqq.

1059. Apollod. ii. 4. 8.

1060. Ovid. Ibis. 349. seq. Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 384. 1093.

1061. Apollod. ii. 3. 7. Sch. Aristoph. Ran. 1041.

1062. Hesiod suggests a luxurious picture of female life in the heroic ages.—Opp. et Dies. 519. seq.

1063. See Book II. v2-Chapter III.

1064. Clytemnæstra, again, in Æschylus exhibits considerable knowledge of geography, which she could only have acquired from conversation with travellers or from the songs of the poets.—Agamemn. 287. sqq.

1065. And Theocritus enumerates among the accomplishments of Helen, that she could sing and play upon the cithara.—Eidyll. xviii. 35. sqq. et Kiesling ad Theocrit. Cf. Æneid. vi. 647.

1066. Odyss. θ. 457. sqq.

1067. Apophthegms, Old and New, § 278.

1068. Alexand. ab Alexand. iv. 8.

1069. Iliad, ζ. 491.

1070. Odyss. α. 357.

1071. Q. Curt. v. 2. 18.

1072. Herod. ix. 188.

1073. Suet. in Vit. § 64. Conf. Feith. Antiq. Homer. iv. 34.

1074. In northern Greece and Macedonia women could depict such scenes from the life, since they learned the use of arms, and engaged personally in war.—Athen. xiii. 10. Tradition relates that Queen Matilda and her maids wrought the tapestry of Bayeux, representing the conquest of England by her husband.

1075. Iliad, ζ. 491.—Odyss. δ. 131.—Theocrit. Eidyll. xviii. 32. sqq.

1076. Odyss. ζ. 491. 38.—Feith by mistake introduces the name of Nausicaa instead of that of her mother.—Ant. Hom. iv. 3. 2.

1077. Odyss. υ. 97.

1078. Mosch. Eidyll. ii. 37. seq.

1079. Odyss. η. 103. seq.—ο. 107.

1080. Theoph. Char. c. v.

1081. Herod. i. 51.

1082. Herod. vii. 187.

1083. Thucyd. ii. 78.

1084. Herod. viii. 139.

1085. Eurip. Electr. 107. 309. sqq.

1086. Odyss. κ. 105.

1087. Herod. vi. 137—The historian uses the name of Enneacrounos given to the fountain by the tyrants. A similar practice is noticed by Arrian.—Anab. Alexand. ii. 3

1088. Odyss. φ. 153. seq.—Iliad. ζ. 59. seq.



The women of Sparta were even in Greece remarkable for their personal beauty. Their education and exercises promoting their health and physical energies, aided, at the same time, the natural developement of the frame, with all its inherent symmetry and proportion. It is probable, however, that the charms of Helen may have led on this point to some misapprehension; but Helen belonged to the old heroic race, with which the Dorians of Sparta had nothing in common, that is, like so many other women celebrated by the poets of after times for their beauty, was an Achæan. Still, lovely they were, well-formed, brilliant of complexion, with features of much regularity, and eyes into which exuberant health infused a sparkling brightness irresistibly pleasing. But it would require to be peculiarly constituted to pronounce them the most beautiful women in all Greece.[1089] They were what in modern phrase would be termed fine women, but exceeding considerably what we deem true feminine proportions, being, in fact, a sort of female grenadiers, robust, vigorous, bull-stranglers, as Lysistrata[1090] somewhat ironically expresses it, their beauty was rather that of men, than of women. Some 383among the Greeks preferred, it is true, ladies of this large growth. Thus, we find Xenophon, in the Anabasis, expressing his apprehension that should his countrymen become acquainted with the fine tall women of Persia, they would, like the Lotos-eaters, forget the way to their country and their home.[1091] But this was a taste which never became general. The beauty which excited most admiration, where beauty constituted the noblest object of literature and art, was a kind totally different in character, exquisitely feminine, gentle, soft, retiring, modest, instinct with grace and delicacy, the parasite of the moral creation, clinging round man for support, but imparting more than it receives.

Such beauty, however, would have been inconsistent with the aim of Lycurgus. Like a well-known modern despot, this great legislator aimed solely at creating a nation of grenadiers, and to effect this, both the education, laws, and manners of Sparta received a military impress. Everything there breathed of the camp. The girls from their tenderest years, instead of being instructed as in other communities to entwine all their feelings round the domestic hearth, and expect their chiefest happiness at home, were systematically undomesticated, brought incessantly into contact with men, initiated in immoral habits, subversive of the female character,[1092] and taught to consider themselves designed to be the wives of the state rather than of individuals. Nature, the 384legislator was aware, has implanted the principles of love and modesty deep in the female heart; in general also, to eradicate one, is to root up the other; and both in the sense in which we contemplate them, being inimical to the purpose which his constitution was intended to promote, he sought to subvert the power of love by obliterating from the female mind every trace of maidenly modesty.

The power of political institutions over the feelings of the heart, over manners, over habits, over conscience, and opinions, was never so strikingly exemplified as at Sparta. Whatever the legislator determined to be good was good.[1093] Example, affection, nature pleaded in vain. An iron system, strong as fate, encircled the whole scope of life, repressing every aspiration tending above the point prescribed, guiding every wish into a given channel, curbing every passion inconsistent in its full developement with the views of the legislator. Aristotle, indeed, maintains that while the men of Sparta conformed to the design of the constitution, the women refused to bend their neck to the yoke, and persisted in the enjoyment of a freedom constantly degenerating into licentiousness.[1094] He probably, however, supposes the existence in Lycurgus of a moral purpose, far loftier than he really aimed at. The virtues of a camp—and Sparta was nothing else—are never too rigid, nor must we look among female camp-followers for much of that delicacy, reserve, self-control, or keen sense of what is just and upright, of which none judge 385more accurately than well educated women. Doubtless the Doric lawgiver cherished no other design than to promote the happiness of his countrymen. It would be unjust to suppose otherwise. But how far the regulations by which he sought to effect this purpose were calculated to ensure success, is what we have to inquire.

It may at once be observed that Lycurgus’s system of female education was the furthest possible removed from common place. He contemplated both the sexes in nearly the same point of view. Their form he saw; and in many points their character, their affections, their virtues, their vices, bear a close resemblance; and in his conception, perfection would be attained, if all such discriminating marks as nature has set up could be removed, and every quality of what he considered the superior sex transferred to the inferior. Much misapprehension appears to exist on this point. Writers pretend that among the Dorians the female character stood in high estimation, while the reverse they suppose to have been the case in Ionic States. But the Dorians betrayed their contempt for women as they came from the hands of nature, by endeavouring to convert them into men; their neighbours the reverse, by contenting themselves with their purely feminine qualities, which among people of Ionic race were cultivated and improved, perhaps, as far as was consistent with domestic happiness.

In the harems of the East the whip is of great service in maintaining order, and the same, it is evident, was the case at Sparta. Both youths and virgins from their tenderest years were subjected to a severe discipline; regular floggers, as at our own great schools, always attended the inspectors of public instruction; and in this the system was wise, that habits were more regarded than acquisitions.[1095] But of the habits cherished by the Spartan system we cannot always approve. Like the boys, the virgins frequented 386the gymnasia, where, naked as at their birth, they exercised themselves in wrestling, running, pitching the quoit, and throwing the javelin.[1096] To these accomplishments, others, according to a Roman poet, still less feminine were added. They contended, he says, in the ring with men, bound the cestus on their clenched fists, and boxed their future husbands like so many prize-fighters. No wonder that the partners of such women were henpecked. Horsemanship, the sword exercise, and the rough sports of the chase, affected by women of similar character in our own country, completed the circle of female studies,[1097] and rendered the Spartan maids something more than a match for their worse halves, whether after marriage or before.[1098]

Some pains have in our own days been taken to pare away the roughnesses, and obliterate the peculiar features of the Doric educational institutions, in order to bring them into greater uniformity with modern notions. There is no probability, we are told, that either youths or men were permitted to be present at the extraordinary exhibition of the female gymnasia.[1099] But whence is this inference derived? From the delicacy of Spartan manners in other respects? 387And are we in fact reduced on this curious point to depend on inferences and probabilities? On the contrary, we are informed by antiquity that besides the personal advantages of health and vigour, derived to the women themselves, the legislator contemplated others little less important, the promotion of marriage and the recreation of all the useful portion of the citizens. For while the married men and youths intent on connubial happiness, enjoyed the free entry to these gymnasia,[1100] those sullen egotists called bachelors were very properly excluded. The former had some property in the young ladies, who were their daughters, sisters, or future spouses, but persons avowedly indifferent to the seductive influence of female charms could have no business there.

Admitting, therefore, that when the Spartan virgins[1101] performed in the gymnasia, for we must consider their exercises partly in the light of scenic exhibitions, the whole city, bachelors excepted, could be present, it remains to be seen what other accomplishments they could display for the public entertainment. Singing and dancing it has been shown were practised publicly by ladies of rank in the heroic ages, and this feature of ancient manners was preserved at Sparta, where not youths and maidens only, but even the grave and aged joined, during several great festivals, in the dance and the song.[1102] But we must beware how we apply to these performances 388the ideas suggested by those of modern times, or the gay and graceful movements of Ionian women. To dance at Sparta required great physical force.[1103] The maidens, unencumbered by dress, bounded aloft like an Anatole or a Taglioni, but instead of twirling round with one foot on earth, and the other suspended at right angles in air, the supreme merit of her performance consisted in slapping the back part of the body with her heel for the greatest possible number of times in succession.[1104] In this feat, which resembles strongly a Caribbee or Iroquois accomplishment, whole troops of men and women often united; an exhibition which with the shouts of laughter arising from the bystanders, the grins of the girls, and the wilful mistakes of young men who might send their feet in the wrong direction, must convey a curious idea of Spartan gravity. Such, however, was the celebrated dance called Bibasis,[1105] upon the frequent execution of which a Laconian girl prided herself no less than a modern lady on her activity in the indecent waltz.

But the other dances in which the Spartan maidens excelled were numerous. Among them was the Dipodia[1106] of which the nature is not exactly known, but it was accompanied by music and song and apparently consisted of a series of orgiastic movements, like those of the Bacchantes when, inspired by wine, they bounded fawnlike with dishevelled hair along the mountains.[1107] On other occasions their movements were designed to express certain passions of the mind, sometimes, as in the Calabis,[1108] highly wanton and licentious, though the latitudinarian spirit of paganism contrived to admit them among the religious ceremonies, and that too in honour of 389Artemis. Another of these lewd dances performed in the worship of Apollo and his sister, and accompanied by songs, conceived no doubt in the same spirit, was the Bryallicha[1109], which the historian of the Doric race finds some difficulty to reconcile with the worship of Apollo, as if their deity had been himself free from the inherent vices of the Olympian dynasts. There was another dance called the Deicelistic[1110], a kind of rude pantomime intermingled with songs supposed to have been performed by unmarried women[1111].

To these dances may be added the Hyporchematic, which was executed by a chorus, while singing, for which reason Bacchylides says, “This is not the work of slowness or inactivity.” By Pindar it is described as a dance performed by Spartan girls; but in fact both young men and women united in the Hyporchema, and as this dance is said to have resembled or been identical with the Cordax[1112], it will assist us in forming a notion of female delicacy at Sparta, where young women could execute publicly in company with the other sex a dance scarcely less indelicate than the fandango or bolero[1113].

From such an education and such habits tastes essentially unfeminine would naturally spring. Accordingly we find Laconian ladies of the first rank,—Cynisca daughter of king Archidamos, for example,—attending to the breed of horses, and sending chariots to contend at the Olympic games. Nor was her masculine ambition condemned by the Greeks. A statue of the lady herself, together with her chariot, and charioteer, existed among other Olympian monuments in the age of Pausanias. Afterwards many other women, but chiefly among the half barbarous Macedonians, followed 390the example of Cynisca and Euryleonis another Spartan dame who had been honoured with a statue at Olympia for the success of her chariot at the games.[1114]

In strict keeping with the rough manners and masculine bearing of these ladies was the habit of swearing,[1115] to which in common with most other Greek women they were grievously addicted. At Athens, however, gentlewomen swore by Demeter, Persephone and Agraulos,[1116] an oath by divinities of their own sex[1117] being considered more suitable to female lips; but the viragos of Sparta spiced their conversation with oaths by Castor and Polydeukes. According, moreover, to the poet whose testimony is commonly adduced against the Athenian ladies, the women of Sparta drank[1118] as well as swore, and we know from authority altogether indisputable, that in the age of Socrates their licentiousness had already become universally notorious in Greece.[1119] A scholar, and a diligent inquirer, whose merits are too often overlooked, observes very justly that it was probably the austerity, or more properly the pedantry of Lycurgus’s institutions that gave rise to the notion that chastity was a common virtue at Sparta.[1120] It was supposed because occasionally subjected to violent exercise, that they must necessarily be temperate in their pleasures. But we might à priori have inferred the contrary, and the uniform testimony of antiquity proves it. Their wantonness and licentiousness knew no bounds. Even during the ages immediately succeeding the establishment of their constitution, that is at the time of the Messenian wars, to preserve for any length of time their chastity 391while their husbands were absent in the field was beyond their power, and substitutes were selected and sent home to become the husbands of the whole female population.[1121]

But for this ungovernable sway of temperament the institutions of the state were chiefly to blame.[1122] We have seen by the whole tenor of their education, modesty and virtue were sapped and undermined; no merit, it was visible, attached to them in the eye of the law; and shrewdly gifted as they were with good sense, they must quickly have discovered that marriage was a mere unmeaning ceremony, and that provided they gave good citizens to the state it would be of little consequence who might be their fathers.[1123] The ceremonies attending that lax union which for lack of a better term we must call marriage, resembled closely those which have been found to prevail among other savages in very distant parts of the world.

Having gone through the ceremony of betrothment,[1124] in which the bride’s interest was represented by her father or brother, the lover chose some fitting occasion to seize and carry her away from amongst her companions. She was then received into the house of the bridesmaid, where her hair was cut short and her dress exchanged for that of a young man, after which custom directed that she 392should be left reclining on a pallet bed, in a dark chamber, alone. Thither the bridegroom repaired by stealth, and, afterwards, with equal secresy, returned to his companions, among whom he continued for some time to live as if no change in his condition had taken place. During this period, therefore, their union must be regarded rather as a clandestine intercourse than a marriage, since the husband continued, as at first, to steal secretly into the company of his wife and to effect his escape with equal care, it being considered disreputable for them to be seen together. Even the children springing from this connexion have been supposed to have ranked as bastards; but of this there is no sufficient proof.

A different account is given by other authors of the marriage ceremony at Sparta, but, if properly examined, both relations may very well be reconciled. The above, in fact, appears to have been the ordinary mode when young women of property who had dowries[1125] to bestow upon their husbands, were to be disposed of. But the portionless girls, excepting, perhaps, the more beautiful, finding some difficulty in providing themselves with helpmates, a contrivance was hit upon by the legislator, calculated to give a fair chance to all. The unmarried damsels of the city, thus circumstanced, were shut up in the dark, in a spacious edifice,[1126] into which the young unmarried men were introduced to scramble for wives, the understanding being, that each was to remain content with the maiden he happened to seize upon. And it would appear that the awards of chance were, in most cases, satisfactory, since we 393read of no one but Lysander who abandoned the wife he had thus chosen. He, however, having been presented, by fortune, with a maiden of homely features, immediately deserted her for one more beautiful. The bad example thus set was not without its evil consequences, for the men who married his daughters put them away in like manner after his death.[1127] But, in both cases, fines for contumacy were exacted by the Ephori. According to the laws of Sparta, men were likewise fined for leading a life of celibacy,[1128] for marrying late, or for marrying unsuitably. Thus, king Archidamos was fined for selecting a little woman to be his queen, as if there was something regal in loftiness of stature.[1129]

On almost every point connected with Spartan marriages the accounts transmitted to us are contradictory. Thus, we are by some told, as has been seen above, that the union of the bride and bridegroom took place secretly, and remained for some time almost unknown. Nevertheless, there are not wanting those who speak of public ceremonies which took place on the occasion, as for example Sosibios,[1130] who informs us, that the cake, called cribanos, shaped like the female breast, was eaten at that repast which the Lacedæmonian women gave in honour of a betrothed maiden when her youthful companions assembled in chorus to chaunt her praises. At Argos, another Doric state, it was customary before the bride joined her husband for her to send him, as a present, the cake called creion, which his friends were invited to partake of with honey. It was 394baked upon the coals as cakes are still in the East.

When at Sparta the state had recognised the marriage, by permitting cohabitation, no man could call his wife his own. Any person might legally claim the favour of borrowing her for a certain time, in order, if he did not choose to be burdened with a wife, to have a family by her while she remained in the house of her lord. An elderly man was sure to have his connubial privileges invaded in this way, and the most able and philosophical advocates of Lycurgus’s institutions inform us that the Spartan ladies highly approved of all these arrangements. Yet, famous and learned authors undertake to break a lance for the chastity of the Spartan dames, and maintain with infinite complacency that adultery was unknown among them. The truth is that the Spartan laws recognised no such offence.[1131] It was legal, common, of every day occurrence, though, from many circumstances, it would appear, that such Lacedæmonians as travelled into other parts of Greece, and learned in what light manners and morals so lax were by them viewed, blushed for their country’s institutions, and, in defence of them, put in practice those arts of delusion and hypocrisy which constituted so distinguished a part of their education.

Much has been said of the stern virtue and patriotism of the Spartan women, and high praise has been bestowed on the callous indifference which they sometimes exhibited on learning the death of their sons;[1132] but English mothers, who have given birth to sons as brave as ever fought or bled for Sparta, will, I think, agree with me in rating very low their boasted stoicism, which, if properly analysed, might prove to be nothing more than a coarse and unnatural apathy. The reader of the Greek Anthologia will here remember her who meeting her son a fugitive among the flying from a victorious enemy, inflicted on him with 395her own hands the death he sought to shun. Had Nature, which is but the voice of God indistinctly heard, anything to do with virtue such as that? Supposing the youth to have been a coward, which the fact of his flying before the enemy by no means proves, was it for the hands that had nursed him to become his executioners? A mother, deserving of the name, would no doubt have sorrowed not to find her boy numbered among the brave, but her maternal heart would not the less have yearned towards the unhappy youth; she would have fled with him into obscurity, and uttered her mild reproaches and shed her tears there.

As often happens, however, these female stoics who were so lavish of the blood of their children, displayed no readiness to set them the example of making light of death when the fortunes of war afforded them an occasion of putting their heroic maxims in practice; for when the Theban army[1133] burst forth from the depths of the Menelaion, and swept down the valley of the Eurotas like a torrent, wasting everything before them with fire and sword, the women of Sparta, who had never before seen the smoke of an enemy’s camp, lost in a moment their presence of mind, and, instead of encouraging their sons and husbands calmly to rely upon their valour, ran to and fro through the streets, filling the air with their effeminate wailings, 396and distracting and impeding the movements of their natural protectors. Very different from this was the conduct of the female citizens of Argos. For when Cleomenes and Demaratos, after having defeated the Argive army, approached the city in the expectation of being able to take it by storm, the poetess Telesilla armed her countrywomen, who, hastening to the defence of the walls, repulsed the Lacedæmonian kings, and preserved the state. In commemoration of this event a festival was annually celebrated, in which the ladies appeared in male attire while the men concealed their heads beneath the female veil.[1134]

Again, when the Thebans broke into Platæa during the night, the women, instead of delivering themselves up pusillanimously to fear, joined the men in defence of the city, casting stones and tiles from the housetops upon the enemy. Yet when defeated and flying for their lives, it was one of these same women who, with the characteristic humanity of her sex, supplied them with a hatchet to cut their way through the gates.[1135]

But the most remarkable instance of self-devotion furnished by women in the whole history of Greece was, perhaps, that which is related of the Phocian ladies,[1136] who, when their countrymen, under the command of Diophantos, were about to engage with the Thessalians in a