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Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Complete
by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
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Oh now with healing steps along the slope Of loved Parnassus, or in gliding motion, O'er the far-sounding deep Euboean ocean— Come! for we perish—come!—our Lord and hope! Leader of the stately choir Of the great stars, whose very breath is light, Who dost with hymns inspire Voices, oh youngest god, that sound by night; Come, with thy Maenad throng, Come with the maidens of thy Naxian isle, Who chant their Lord Bacchus—all the while Maddening, with mystic dance, the solemn midnight long!"

At the close of the chorus the Nuntius enters to announce the catastrophe, and Eurydice, the wife of Creon, disturbed by rumours within her palace, is made an auditor of the narration. Creon and his train, after burying Polynices, repair to the cavern in which Antigone had been immured. They hear loud wailings within "that unconsecrated chamber"—it is the voice of Haemon. Creon recoils—the attendants enter—within the cavern they behold Antigone, who, in the horror of that deathlike solitude, had strangled herself with the zone of her robe; and there was her lover lying beside, his arms clasped around her waist. Creon at length advances, perceives his son, and conjures him to come forth.

"Then, glaring on his father with wild eyes, The son stood dumb, and spat upon his face, And clutched the unnatural sword—the father fled, And, wroth, as with the arm that missed a parent, The wretched man drove home unto his breast The abhorrent steel; yet ever, while dim sense Struggled within the fast-expiring soul— Feebler, and feebler still, his stiffening arms Clung to that virgin form—and every gasp Of his last breath with bloody dews distained The cold white cheek that was his pillow. So Lies death embracing death!" [360]

In the midst of this description, by a fine stroke of art, Euridice, the mother of Haemon, abruptly and silently quits the stage [361]. When next we hear of her, she has destroyed herself, with her last breath cursing her husband as the murderer of her child. The end of the play leaves Creon the surviver. He himself does not perish, for he himself has never excited our sympathies [362]. He is punished through his son and wife—they dead, our interest ceases in him, and to add his death to theirs and to that of Antigone would be bathos.

VIII. In the tragedy of "Electra," the character of the heroine stands out in the boldest contrast to the creation of the Antigone; both are endowed with surpassing majesty and strength of nature—they are loftier than the daughters of men, their very loveliness is of an age when gods were no distant ancestors of kings—when, as in the early sculptors of Pallas, or even of Aphrodite, something of the severe and stern was deemed necessary to the realization of the divine; and the beautiful had not lost the colossal proportions of the sublime. But the strength and heroism of Antigone is derived from love—love, sober, serene, august—but still love. Electra, on the contrary, is supported and exalted above her sex by the might of her hatred. Her father, "the king of men," foully murdered in his palace —herself compelled to consort with his assassins—to receive from their hands both charity and insult—the adulterous murderer on her father's throne, and lord of her father's marriage bed [363]—her brother a wanderer and an outcast. Such are the thoughts unceasingly before her!—her heart and soul have for years fed upon the bitterness of a resentment, at once impotent and intense, and nature itself has turned to gall. She sees not in Clytemnestra a mother, but the murderess of a father. The doubt and the compunction of the modern Hamlet are unknown to her more masculine spirit. She lives on but in the hope of her brother's return and of revenge. The play opens with the appearance of Orestes, Pylades, and an old attendant—arrived at break of day at the habitation of the Pelopidae—"reeking with blood" —the seats of Agamemnon. Orestes, who had been saved in childhood by his sister from the designs of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, has now returned in manhood. It is agreed that, in order to lull all suspicion in the royal adulterers, a false account of the death of Orestes by an accident in the Pythian Games shall be given to Clytemnestra; and Orestes and Pylades themselves are afterward to be introduced in the character of Phocians, bearing the ashes of the supposed dead. Meanwhile the two friends repair to the sepulchre of Agamemnon to offer libations, etc. Electra then appears, indulges her indignant lamentations at her lot, and consoles herself with the hope of her brother's speedy return.

She is joined by her sister Chrysothemis, who is bearing sepulchral offerings to the tomb of Agamemnon; and in this interview Sophocles, with extraordinary skill and deep knowledge of human nature, contrives to excite our admiration and sympathy for the vehement Electra by contrasting her with the weak and selfish Chrysothemis. Her very bitterness against her mother is made to assume the guise of a solemn duty to her father. Her unfeminine qualities rise into courage and magnanimity—she glories in the unkindness and persecution she meets with from Clytemnestra and Aegisthus—they are proofs of her reverence to the dead. Woman as she is, she is yet the daughter of a king—she cannot submit to a usurper—"she will not, add cowardice to misery." Chrysothemis informs Electra that on the return of Aegisthus it is resolved to consign her to a vault "where she may chant her woes unheard." Electra learns the meditated sentence undismayed—she will not moderate her unwelcome wo—"she will not be a traitoress to those she loves." But a dream has appalled Clytemnestra—Agamemnon has appeared to her as in life. In the vision he seemed to her to fix his sceptre on the soil, whence it sprouted up into a tree that overshadowed the whole land. Disquieted and conscience-stricken, she now sends Chrysothemis with libations to appease the manes of the dead. Electra adjures Chrysothemis not to render such expiations to scatter them to the winds or on the dust—to let them not approach the resting-place of the murdered king. Chrysothemis promises to obey the injunction, and departs. A violent and powerful scene between Clytemnestra and Electra ensues, when the attendant enters (as was agreed on) to announce the death of Orestes. In this recital he portrays the ceremony of the Pythian races in lines justly celebrated, and which, as an animated and faithful picture of an exhibition so renowned, the reader may be pleased to see, even in a feeble and cold translation. Orestes had obtained five victories in the first day—in the second he starts with nine competitors in the chariot-race—an Achaean, a Spartan, two Libyans—he himself with Thessalian steeds—a sixth from Aetolia, a Magnesian, an Enian, an Athenian, and a Boeotian complete the number.

"They took their stand where the appointed judges Had cast their lots, and ranged the rival cars; Rang out the brazen trump! Away they bound, Cheer the hot steeds and shake the slackened reins As with a body the large space is filled With the huge clangour of the rattling cars: High whirl aloft the dust-clouds; blent together Each presses each—and the lash rings—and loud Snort the wild steeds, and from their fiery breath, Along their manes and down the circling wheels, Scatter the flaking foam. Orestes still, Ay, as he swept around the perilous pillar Last in the course, wheel'd in the rushing axle, The left rein curbed—that on the dexter hand Flung loose. So on erect the chariots rolled! Sudden the Aenian's fierce and headlong steeds Broke from the bit—and, as the seventh time now The course was circled, on the Libyan car Dash'd their wild fronts: then order changed to ruin: Car crashed on car—the wide Crissaean plain Was, sealike, strewn with wrecks: the Athenian saw, Slackened his speed, and, wheeling round the marge, Unscathed and skilful, in the midmost space, Left the wild tumult of that tossing storm. Behind, Orestes, hitherto the last, Had yet kept back his coursers for the close; Now one sole rival left—on, on he flew, And the sharp sound of the impelling scourge Rang in the keen ears of the flying steeds. He nears—he reaches—they are side by side Now one—the other—by a length the victor. The courses all are past—the wheels erect All safe—when as the hurrying coursers round The fatal pillar dash'd, the wretched boy Slackened the left rein; on the column's edge Crash'd the frail axle—headlong from the car, Caught and all meshed within the reins he fell; And masterless, the mad steeds raged along!

Loud from that mighty multitude arose A shriek—a shout! But yesterday such deeds To-day such doom! Now whirled upon the earth, Now his limbs dash'd aloft, they dragged him—those Wild horses—till all gory from the wheels Released—and no man, not his nearest friends, Could in that mangled corpse have traced Orestes. They laid the body on the funeral pyre, And while we speak, the Phocian strangers bear, In a small, brazen, melancholy urn, That handful of cold ashes to which all The grandeur of the beautiful hath shrunk. Hither they bear him—in his father's land To find that heritage—a tomb!"

It is much to be regretted that this passage, so fine in the original, is liable to one great objection—it has no interest as connected with the play, because the audience know that Orestes is not dead; and though the description of the race retains its animation, the report of the catastrophe loses the terror of reality, and appears but a highly-coloured and elaborate falsehood.

The reader will conceive the lamentations of Electra and the fearful joy of Clytemnestra at a narrative by which the one appears to lose a brother and a friend—the other a son and an avenging foe.

Chrysothemis joyfully returns to announce, that by the tomb of Agamemnon she discovers a lock of hair; libations yet moisten the summit of the mound, and flowers of every hue are scattered over the grave. "These," she thinks, "are signs that Orestes is returned." Electra, informing her of the fatal news, proposes that they, women as they are, shall attempt the terrible revenge which their brother can no longer execute. When Chrysothemis recoils and refuses, Electra still nurses the fell design. The poet has more than once, and now again with judgment, made us sensible of the mature years of Electra [364]; she is no passionate, wavering, and inexperienced girl, but the eldest born of the house; the guardian of the childhood of its male heir; unwedded and unloving, no soft matron cares, no tender maiden affections, have unbent the nerves of her stern, fiery, and concentrated soul. Year after year has rolled on to sharpen her hatred—to disgust her with the present—to root her to one bloody memory of the past—to sour and freeze up the gentle thoughts of womanhood—to unsex

"And fill her from the crown to the toe, topful Of direst cruelty—make thick her blood Stop up the access and passage to remorse," [365]

and fit her for one crowning deed, for which alone the daughter of the king of men lives on.

At length the pretended Phocians enter, bearing the supposed ashes of Orestes; the chief of the train addresses himself to Electra, and this is the most dramatic and touching scene in the whole tragedy. When the urn containing, as she believes, the dust of her brother, is placed in the hands of Electra, we can well overleap time and space, and see before us the great actor who brought the relics of his own son upon the stage, and shed no mimic sorrows [366]—we can well picture the emotions that circle round the vast audience—pity itself being mingled with the consciousness to which the audience alone are admitted, that lamentation will soon be replaced by joy, and that the living Orestes is before his sister. It is by a most subtle and delicate art that Sophocles permits this struggle between present pain and anticipated pleasure, and carries on the passion of the spectators to wait breathlessly the moment when Orestes shall be discovered. We now perceive why the poet at once, in the opening of the play, announced to us the existence and return of Orestes—why he disdained the vulgar source of interest, the gross suspense we should have felt, if we had shared the ignorance of Electra, and not been admitted to the secret we impatiently long to be communicated to her. In this scene, our superiority to Electra, in the knowledge we possess, refines and softens our compassion, blending it with hope. And most beautifully here does Sophocles remove far from us the thought of the hard hatred that hitherto animates the mourner—the strong, proud spirit is melted away—the woman and the sister alone appear. He whom she had loved more dearly than a mother—whom she had nursed, and saved, and prayed for, is "a nothing" in her hands; and the last rites it had not been hers to pay. He had been

"By strangers honoured and by strangers mourned."

All things had vanished with him—"vanished in a day"—"vanished as by a hurricane"—she is left with her foes alone. "Admit me" (she cries), "to thy refuge—make room for me in thy home."

In these lamentations, the cold, classic drama seems to warm into actual life. Art, exquisite because invisible, unites us at once with imperishable nature—we are no longer delighted with Poetry—we are weeping with Truth.

At length Orestes reveals himself, and now the plot draws to its catastrophe. Clytemnestra is alone in her house, preparing a caldron for the burial; Electra and the chorus are on the stage; the son—the avenger, is within; suddenly the cries of Clytemnestra are heard. Again—again! Orestes re-enters a parricide! [367] He retires as Aegisthus is seen approaching; and the adulterous usurper is now presented to us for the first and last time—the crowning victim of the sacrifice. He comes flushed with joy and triumph. He has heard that the dreaded Orestes is no more. Electra entertains him a few moments with words darkly and exultingly ambiguous. He orders the doors to be thrown open, that all Argos and Mycenae may see the remains of his sole rival for the throne. The scene opens. On the threshold (where, with the Greeks, the corpse of the dead was usually set out to view) lies a body covered with a veil or pall. Orestes (the supposed Phocian) stands beside.

"Aegisthus. Great Jove! a grateful spectacle!—if thus May it be said unsinning; yet if she, The awful Nemesis, be nigh and hear, I do recall the sentence! Raise the pall. The dead was kindred to me, and shall know A kinsman's sorrow. Orestes. Lift thyself the pall; Not mine, but thine, the office to survey That which lies mute beneath, and to salute, Lovingly sad, the dead one. Aegisthus. Be it so— It is well said. Go thou and call the queen: Is she within? Orestes. Look not around for her— She is beside thee!"

Aegisthus lifts the pall, and beholds the body of Clytemnestra! He knows his fate at once. He knows that Orestes is before him. He attempts to speak. The fierce Electra cuts him short, and Orestes, with stern solemnity, conducts him from the stage to the spot on which Aegisthus had slain Agamemnon, so that the murderer might die by the son's hand in the place where the father fell. Thus artistically is the catastrophe not lessened in effect, but heightened, by removing the deed of death from the scene—the poetical justice, in the calm and premeditated selection of the place of slaughter, elevates what on the modern stage would be but a spectacle of physical horror into the deeper terror and sublimer gloom of a moral awe; and vindictive murder, losing its aspect, is idealized and hallowed into religious sacrifice.

IX. Of the seven plays left to us, "The Trachiniae" is usually considered the least imbued with the genius of Sophocles; and Schlegel has even ventured on the conjecture, singularly destitute of even plausible testimony, that Sophocles himself may not be the author. The plot is soon told. The play is opened by Deianira, the wife of Hercules, who indulges in melancholy reflections on the misfortunes of her youth, and the continual absence of her husband, of whom no tidings have been heard for months. She soon learns from her son, Hyllus, that Hercules is said to be leading an expedition into Euboea; and our interest is immediately excited by Deianira's reply, which informs us that oracles had foretold that this was to be the crisis [368] in the life of Hercules—that he was now to enjoy rest from his labours, either in a peaceful home or in the grave; and she sends Hyllus to join his father, share his enterprise and fate. The chorus touchingly paint the anxious love of Deianira in the following lines:

"Thou, whom the starry-spangled Night did lull Into the sleep from which—her journey done Her parting steps awake thee—beautiful Fountain of flame, oh Sun! Say, on what seagirt strand, or inland shore (For earth is bared before thy solemn gaze), In orient Asia, or where milder rays Tremble on western waters, wandereth he Whom bright Alcmena bore? Ah! as some bird within a lonely nest The desolate wife puts sleep away with tears; And ever ills to be Haunting the absence with dim hosts of fears, Fond fancy shapes from air dark prophets of the breast."

In her answer to the virgin chorus, Deianira weaves a beautiful picture of maiden youth as a contrast to the cares and anxieties of wedded life:

"Youth pastures in a valley of its own; The scorching sun, the rains and winds of Heaven, Mar not the calm—yet virgin of all care; But ever with sweet joys it buildeth up The airy halls of life."

Deianira afterward receives fresh news of Hercules. She gives way to her joy. Lichas, the herald, enters, and confides to her charge some maidens whom the hero had captured. Deianira is struck with compassion for their lot, and with admiration of the noble bearing of one of them, Iole. She is about to busy herself in preparation for their comfort, when she learns that Iole is her rival—the beloved mistress of Hercules. The jealousy evinced by Deianira is beautifully soft and womanly [369]. Even in uttering a reproach on Hercules, she says she cannot feel anger with him, yet how can she dwell in the same house with a younger and fairer rival;

"She in whose years the flower that fades in mine Opens the leaves of beauty."

Her affection, her desire to retain the love of the hero, suggests to her remembrance a gift she had once received from a centaur who had fallen by the shaft of Hercules. The centaur had assured her that the blood from his wound, if preserved, would exercise the charm of a filter over the heart of Hercules, and would ever recall and fix upon her his affection. She had preserved the supposed charm—she steeps with it a robe that she purposes to send to Hercules as a gift; but Deianira, in this fatal resolve, shows all the timidity and sweetness of her nature; she even questions if it be a crime to regain the heart of her husband; she consults the chorus, who advise the experiment (and here, it may be observed, that this is skilfully done, for it conveys the excuse of Deianira, the chorus being, as it were, the representative of the audience). Accordingly, she sends the garment by Lichas. Scarce has the herald gone, ere Deianira is terrified by a strange phenomenon: a part of the wool with which the supposed filter had been applied to the garment was thrown into the sunlight, upon which it withered away—"crumbling like sawdust"—while on the spot where it fell a sort of venomous foam froths up. While relating this phenomenon to the chorus, her son, Hyllus, returns [370], and relates the agonies of his father under the poisoned garment: he had indued the robe on the occasion of solemn sacrifice, and all was rejoicing, when,

"As from the sacred offering and the pile The flame broke forth,"

the poison began to work, the tunic clung to the limbs of the hero, glued as if by the artificer, and, in his agony and madness, Hercules dashes Lichas, who brought him the fatal gift, down the rock, and is now on his way home. On hearing these news and the reproaches of her son, Deianira steals silently away, and destroys herself upon the bridal-bed. The remainder of the play is very feeble. Hercules is represented in his anguish, which is but the mere raving of physical pain; and after enjoining his son to marry Iole (the innocent cause of his own sufferings), and to place him yet living upon his funeral pyre, the play ends.

The beauty of the "Trachiniae" is in detached passages, in some exquisite bursts by the chorus, and in the character of Deianira, whose artifice to regain the love of her consort, unhappily as it terminates, is redeemed by a meekness of nature, a delicacy of sentiment, and an anxious, earnest, unreproachful devotion of conjugal love, which might alone suffice to show the absurdity of modern declamations on the debasement of women, and the absence of pure and true love in that land from which Sophocles drew his experience.

X. The "Ajax" is far superior to the "Trachiniae." The subject is one that none but a Greek poet could have thought of or a Greek audience have admired. The master-passion of a Greek was emulation— the subject of the "Ajax" is emulation defeated. He has lost to Ulysses the prize of the arms of Achilles, and the shame of being vanquished has deprived him of his senses.

In the fury of madness he sallies from his tent at night—slaughters the flocks, in which his insanity sees the Greeks, whose award has galled and humbled him—and supposes he has slain the Atridae and captured Ulysses. It is in this play that Sophocles has, to a certain extent, attempted that most effective of all combinations in the hands of a master—the combination of the ludicrous and the terrible [371]: as the chorus implies, "it is to laugh and to weep." But when the scene, opening, discovers Ajax sitting amid the slaughtered victims— when that haughty hero awakens from his delirium—when he is aware that he has exposed himself to the mockery and derision of his foes— the effect is almost too painful even for tragedy. In contrast to Ajax is the soothing and tender Tecmessa. The women of Sophocles are, indeed, gifted with an astonishing mixture of majesty and sweetness. After a very pathetic farewell with his young son, Ajax affects to be reconciled to his lot, disguises the resolution he has formed, and by one of those artful transitions of emotion which at once vary and heighten interest on the stage, the chorus, before lamenting, bursts into a strain of congratulation and joy. The heavy affliction has passed away—Ajax is restored. The Nuntius arrives from the camp. Calchas, the soothsayer, has besought Teucer, the hero's brother, not to permit Ajax to quit his tent that day, for on that day only Minerva persecutes him; and if he survive it, he may yet be preserved and prosper. But Ajax has already wandered away, none know whither. Tecmessa hastens in search of him, and, by a very rare departure from the customs of the Greek stage, the chorus follow.

Ajax appears again. His passions are now calm and concentrated, but they lead him on to death. He has been shamed, dishonoured—he has made himself a mockery to his foes. Nobly to live or nobly to die is the sole choice of a brave man. It is characteristic of the Greek temperament, that the personages of the Greek poetry ever bid a last lingering and half-reluctant farewell to the sun. There is a magnificent fulness of life in those children of the beautiful West; the sun is to them as a familiar friend—the affliction or the terror of Hades is in the thought that its fields are sunless. The orb which animated their temperate heaven, which ripened their fertile earth, in which they saw the type of eternal youth, of surpassing beauty, of incarnate poetry—human in its associations, and yet divine in its nature—is equally beloved and equally to be mourned by the maiden tenderness of Antigone or the sullen majesty of Ajax. In a Chaldaean poem the hero would have bid farewell to the stars!

It is thus that Ajax concludes his celebrated soliloquy.

"And thou that mak'st high heaven thy chariot-course, Oh sun—when gazing on my father-land, Draw back thy golden rein, and tell my woes To the old man, my father—and to her Who nursed me at her bosom—my poor mother! There will be wailing through the echoing walls When—but away with thoughts like these!—the hour Brings on the ripening deed. Death, death, look on me! Did I say death?—it was a waste of words; We shall be friends hereafter. 'Tis the DAY, Present and breathing round me, and the car Of the sweet sun, that never shall again Receive my greeting!—henceforth time is sunless, And day a thing that is not! Beautiful light, My Salamis—my country—and the floor Of my dear household hearth—and thou, bright Athens, Thou—for thy sons and I were boys together— Fountains and rivers, and ye Trojan plains, I loved ye as my fosterers—fare ye well! Take in these words, the last earth hears from Ajax— All else unspoken, in a spectre land I'll whisper to the dead!"

Ajax perishes on his sword—but the interest of the play survives him. For with the Greeks, burial rather than death made the great close of life. Teucer is introduced to us; the protector of the hero's remains and his character, at once fierce and tender, is a sketch of extraordinary power. Agamemnon, on the contrary—also not presented to us till after the death of Ajax—is but a boisterous tyrant [372]. Finally, by the generous intercession of Ulysses, who redeems his character from the unfavourable conception we formed of him at the commencement of the play, the funeral rites are accorded, and a didactic and solemn moral from the chorus concludes the whole.

XI. The "Philoctetes" has always been ranked by critics among the most elaborate and polished of the tragedies of Sophocles. In some respects it deserves the eulogies bestowed on it. But one great fault in the conception will, I think, be apparent on the simple statement of the plot.

Philoctetes, the friend and armour-bearer of Hercules, and the heir of that hero's unerring shafts and bow, had, while the Grecian fleet anchored at Chryse (a small isle in the Aegaean), been bitten in the foot by a serpent; the pain of the wound was insufferable—the shrieks and groans of Philoctetes disturbed the libations and sacrifices of the Greeks. And Ulysses and Diomed, when the fleet proceeded, left him, while asleep, on the wild and rocky solitudes of Lemnos. There, till the tenth year of the Trojan siege, he dragged out an agonizing life. The soothsayer, Helenus, then declared that Troy could not fall till Philoctetes appeared in the Grecian camp with the arrows and bow of Hercules. Ulysses undertakes to effect this object, and, with Neoptolemus (son of Achilles), departs for Lemnos. Here the play opens. A wild and desolate shore—a cavern with two mouths (so that in winter there might be a double place to catch the sunshine, and in summer a twofold entrance for the breeze), and a little fountain of pure water, designate the abode of Philoctetes.

Agreeably to his character, it is by deceit and stratagem that Ulysses is to gain his object. Neoptolemus is to dupe him whom he has never seen with professions of friendship and offers of services, and to snare away the consecrated weapons. Neoptolemus—whose character is a sketch which Shakspeare alone could have bodied out—has all the generous ardour and honesty of youth, but he has also its timid irresolution—its docile submission to the great—its fear of the censure of the world. He recoils from the base task proposed to him; he would prefer violence to fraud; yet he dreads lest, having undertaken the enterprise, his refusal to act should be considered treachery to his coadjutor. It is with a deep and melancholy wisdom that Ulysses, who seems to comtemplate his struggles with compassionate and not displeased superiority, thus attempts to reconcile the young man:

"Son of a noble sire! I too, in youth, Had thy plain speech and thine impatient arm: But a stern test is time! I have lived to see That among men the tools of power and empire Are subtle words—not deeds."

Neoptolemus is overruled. Ulysses withdraws, Philoctetes appears. The delight of the lonely wretch on hearing his native language; on seeing the son of Achilles—his description of his feelings when he first found himself abandoned in the desert—his relation of the hardships he has since undergone, are highly pathetic. He implores Neoptolemus to bear him away, and when the youth consents, he bursts into an exclamation of joy, which, to the audience, in the secret of the perfidy to be practised on him, must have excited the most lively emotions. The characteristic excellence of Sophocles is, that in his most majestic creations he always contrives to introduce the sweetest touches of humanity.—Philoctetes will not even quit his miserable desert until he has returned to his cave to bid it farewell—to kiss the only shelter that did not deny a refuge to his woes. In the joy of his heart he thinks, poor dupe, that he has found faith in man—in youth. He trusts the arrows and the bow to the hand of Neoptolemus. Then, as he attempts to crawl along, the sharp agony of his wound completely overmasters him. He endeavours in vain to stifle his groans; the body conquers the mind. This seems to me, as I shall presently again observe, the blot of the play; it is a mere exhibition of physical pain. The torture exhausts, till insensibility or sleep comes over him. He lies down to rest, and the young man watches over him. The picture is striking. Neoptolemus, at war with himself, does not seize the occasion. Philoctetes wakes. He is ready to go on board; he implores and urges instant departure. Neoptolemus recoils— the suspicions of Philoctetes are awakened; he thinks that this stranger, too, will abandon him. At length the young man, by a violent effort, speaks abruptly out, "Thou must sail to Troy—to the Greeks—the Atridae."

"The Greeks—the Atridae!" the betrayers of Philoctetes—those beyond pardon—those whom for ten years he has pursued with the curses of a wronged, and deserted, and solitary spirit. "Give me back," he cries, "my bow and arrows." And when Neoptolemus refuses, he pours forth a torrent of reproach. The son of the truth—telling Achilles can withstand no longer. He is about to restore the weapons, when Ulysses rushes on the stage and prevents him.

At length, the sufferer is to be left—left once more alone in the desert. He cannot go with his betrayers—he cannot give glory and conquest to his inhuman foes; in the wrath of his indignant heart even the desert is sweeter than the Grecian camp. And how is he to sustain himself without his shafts! Famine adds a new horror to his dreary solitude, and the wild beasts may now pierce into his cavern: but their cruelty would be mercy! His contradictory and tempestuous emotions, as the sailors that compose the chorus are about to depart, are thus told.

The chorus entreat him to accompany them.

Phil. Begone. Chor. It is a friendly bidding—we obey— Come, let us go. To ship, my comrades. Phil. No— No, do not go—by the great Jove, who hears Men's curses—do not go. Chor. Be calm. Phil. Sweet strangers! In mercy, leave me not.

* * * * * *

Chor. But now you bade us! Phil. Ay—meet cause for chiding, That a poor desperate wretch, maddened with pain, Should talk as madmen do! Chor. Come, then, with us. Phil. Never! oh—never! Hear me—not if all The lightnings of the thunder-god were made Allies with you, to blast me! Perish Troy, And all beleaguered round its walls—yea; all Who had the heart to spurn a wounded wretch; But, but—nay—yes—one prayer, one boon accord me. Chor. What wouldst thou have? Phil. A sword, an axe, a something; So it can strike, no matter! Chor. Nay—for what? Phil. What! for this hand to hew me off this head— These limbs! To death, to solemn death, at last My spirit calls me. Chor. Why? Phil. To seek my father. Chor. On earth? Phil. In Hades.

Having thus worked us up to the utmost point of sympathy with the abandoned Philoctetes, the poet now gradually sheds a gentler and holier light over the intense gloom to which we had been led. Neoptolemus, touched with generous remorse, steals back to give the betrayed warrior his weapons—he is watched by the vigilant Ulysses— an angry altercation takes place between them. Ulysses, finding he cannot intimidate, prudently avoids personal encounter with the son of Achilles, and departs to apprize the host of the backsliding of his comrade.—A most beautiful scene, in which Neoptolemus restores the weapons to Philoctetes—a scene which must have commanded the most exquisite tears and the most rapturous applauses of the audience, ensues; and, finally, the god so useful to the ancient poets brings all things, contrary to the general rule of Aristotle [373], to a happy close. Hercules appears and induces his former friend to accompany Neoptolemus to the Grecian camp, where his wound shall be healed.. The farewell of Philoctetes to his cavern—to the nymphs of the meadows—to the roar of the ocean, whose spray the south wind dashed through his rude abode—to the Lycian stream and the plain of Lemnos—is left to linger on the ear like a solemn hymn, in which the little that is mournful only heightens the majestic sweetness of all that is musical. The dramatic art in the several scenes of this play Sophocles has never excelled, and scarcely equalled. The contrast of character in Ulysses and Neoptolemus has in it a reality, a human strength and truth, that is more common to the modern than the ancient drama. But still the fault of the story is partly that the plot rests upon a base and ignoble fraud, and principally that our pity is appealed to by the coarse sympathy with physical pain: the rags that covered the sores, the tainted corruption of the ulcers, are brought to bear, not so much on the mind as on the nerves; and when the hero is represented as shrinking with corporeal agony—the blood oozing from his foot, the livid sweat rolling down the brow—we sicken and turn away from the spectacle; we have no longer that pleasure in our own pain which ought to be the characteristic of true tragedy. It is idle to vindicate this error by any dissimilarity between ancient and modern dramatic art. As nature, so art, always has some universal and permanent laws. Longinus rightly considers pathos a part of the sublime, for pity ought to elevate us; but there is nothing to elevate us in the noisome wounds, even of a mythical hero; our human nature is too much forced back into itself—and a proof that in this the ancient art did not differ from the modern, is in the exceeding rarity with which bodily pain is made the instrument of compassion with the Greek tragedians. The Philoctetes and the Hercules are among the exceptions that prove the rule. [374]

XII. Another drawback to our admiration of the Philoctetes is in the comparison it involuntarily courts with the Prometheus of Aeschylus. Both are examples of fortitude under suffering—of the mind's conflict with its fate. In either play a dreary waste, a savage solitude, constitute the scene. But the towering sublimity of the Prometheus dwarfs into littleness every image of hero or demigod with which we contrast it. What are the chorus of mariners, and the astute Ulysses, and the boyish generosity of Neoptolemus—what is the lonely cave on the shores of Lemnos—what the high-hearted old warrior, with his torturing wound and his sacred bow—what are all these to the vast Titan, whom the fiends chain to the rock beneath which roll the rivers of hell, for whom the daughters of Ocean are ministers, to whose primeval birth the gods of Olympus are the upstarts of a day, whose soul is the treasure-house of a secret which threatens the realm of heaven, and for whose unimaginable doom earth reels to its base, all the might of divinity is put forth, and Hades itself trembles as it receives its indomitable and awful guest! Yet, as I have before intimated, it is the very grandeur of Aeschylus that must have made his poems less attractive on the stage than those of the humane and flexible Sophocles. No visible representation can body forth his thoughts—they overpower the imagination, but they do not come home to our household and familiar feelings. In the contrast between the "Philoctetes" and the "Prometheus" is condensed the contrast between Aeschylus and Sophocles. They are both poets of the highest conceivable order; but the one seems almost above appeal to our affections—his tempestuous gloom appals the imagination, the vivid glare of his thoughts pierces the innermost recesses of the intellect, but it is only by accident that he strikes upon the heart. The other, in his grandest flights, remembers that men make his audience, and seems to feel as if art lost the breath of its life when aspiring beyond the atmosphere of human intellect and human passions. The difference between the creations of Aeschylus and Sophocles is like the difference between the Satan of Milton and the Macbeth of Shakspeare. Aeschylus is equally artful with Sophocles—it is the criticism of ignorance that has said otherwise. But there is this wide distinction—Aeschylus is artful as a dramatist to be read, Sophocles as a dramatist to be acted. If we get rid of actors, and stage, and audience, Aeschylus will thrill and move us no less than Sophocles, through a more intellectual if less passionate medium. A poem may be dramatic, yet not theatrical—may have all the effects of the drama in perusal, but by not sufficiently enlisting the skill of the actor—nay, by soaring beyond the highest reach of histrionic capacities, may lose those effects in representation. The storm in "Lear" is a highly dramatic agency when our imagination is left free to conjure up the angry elements,

"Bid the winds blow the earth into the sea, Or swell the curled waters."

But a storm on the stage, instead of exceeding, so poorly mimics the reality, that it can never realize the effect which the poet designs, and with which the reader is impressed. So is it with supernatural and fanciful creations, especially of the more delicate and subtle kind. The Ariel of the "Tempest," the fairies of the "Midsummer Night's Dream," and the Oceanides of the "Prometheus," are not to be represented by human shapes. We cannot say that they are not dramatic, but they are not theatrical. We can sympathize with the poet, but not with the actor. For the same reason, in a lesser degree, all creations, even of human character, that very highly task the imagination, that lift the reader wholly out of actual experience, and above the common earth, are comparatively feeble when reduced to visible forms. The most metaphysical plays of Shakspeare are the least popular in representation. Thus the very genius of Aeschylus, that kindles us in the closet, must often have militated against him on the stage. But in Sophocles all—even the divinities themselves— are touched with humanity; they are not too subtle or too lofty to be submitted to mortal gaze. We feel at once that on the stage Sophocles ought to have won the prize from Aeschylus; and, as a proof of this, if we look at the plays of each, we see that scarcely any of the great characters of Aeschylus could have called into sufficient exercise the powers of an actor. Prometheus on his rock, never changing even his position, never absent from the scene, is denied all the relief, the play and mobility, that an actor needs. His earthly representative could be but a grand reciter. In the "Persians," not only the theatrical, but the dramatic effect is wanting—it is splendid poetry put into various mouths, but there is no collision of passions, no surprise, no incident, no plot, no rapid dialogue in which words are but the types of emotions. In the "Suppliants" Garrick could have made nothing of Pelasgus. In the "Seven before Thebes" there are not above twenty or thirty lines in the part of Eteocles in which the art of the actor could greatly assist the genius of the poet. In the' trilogy of the "Agamemnon," the "Choephori," and the "Orestes," written in advanced years, we may trace the contagious innovation of Sophocles; but still, even in these tragedies, there is no part so effective in representation as those afforded by the great characters of Sophocles. In the first play the hypocrisy and power of Clytemnestra would, it is true, have partially required and elicited the talents of the player; but Agamemnon himself is but a thing of pageant, and the splendid bursts of Cassandra might have been effectively uttered by a very inferior histrionic artist. In the second play, in the scene between Orestes and his mother, and in the gathering madness of Orestes, the art of the poet would unquestionably task to the uttermost the skill of the performer. But in the last play (the Furies), perhaps the sublimest poem of the three, which opens so grandly with the parricide at the sanctuary, and the Furies sleeping around him, there is not one scene from the beginning to the end in which an eminent actor could exhibit his genius.

But when we come to the plays of Sophocles, we feel that a new era in the drama is created; we feel that the artist poet has called into full existence the artist actor. His theatrical effects [375] are tangible, actual—could be represented to-morrow in Paris—in London— everywhere. We find, therefore, that with Sophocles has passed down to posterity the name of the great actor [376] in his principal plays. And I think the English reader, even in the general analysis and occasional translations with which I have ventured to fill so many pages, will perceive that all the exertions of subtle, delicate, and passionate power, even in a modern actor, would be absolutely requisite to do justice to the characters of Oedipus at Coloneus, Antigone, Electra, and Philoctetes.

This, then, was the distinction between Aeschylus and Sophocles—both were artists, as genius always must be, but the art of the latter adapts itself better to representation. And this distinction in art was not caused merely by precedence in time. Had Aeschylus followed Sophocles, it would equally have existed—it was the natural consequence of the distinctions in their genius—the one more sublime, the other more impassioned—the one exalting the imagination, the other appealing to the heart. Aeschylus is the Michael Angelo of the drama, Sophocles the Raffaele.

XIII. Thus have I presented to the general reader the outline of all the tragedies of Sophocles. In the great length at which I have entered in this, not the least difficult, part of my general task, I have widely innovated on the plan pursued by the writers of Grecian history. For this innovation I offer no excuse. It is her poetry at the period we now examine, as her philosophy in a later time, that makes the individuality of Athens. In Sophocles we behold the age of Pericles. The wars of that brilliant day were as pastimes to the mighty carnage of oriental or northern battle. The reduction of a single town, which, in our time, that has no Sophocles and no Pericles, a captain of artillery would demolish in a week, was the proudest exploit of the Olympian of the Agora; a little while, and one defeat wrests the diadem of the seas from the brows of "The Violet Queen;" scanty indeed the ruins that attest the glories of "The Propylaea, the Parthenon, the Porticoes, and the Docks," to which the eloquent orator appealed as the "indestructible possessions" of Athens; along the desolate site of the once tumultuous Agora the peasant drives his oxen—the champion deity [377] of Phidias, whose spectral apparition daunted the barbarian Alaric [378], and the gleam of whose spear gladdened the mariner beneath the heights of Sunium, has vanished from the Acropolis; but, happily, the age of Pericles has its stamp and effigy in an art more imperishable than that of war—in materials more durable than those of bronze and marble, of ivory and gold. In the majestic harmony, the symmetrical grace of Sophocles, we survey the true portraiture of the genius of the times, and the old man of Coloneus still celebrates the name of Athens in a sweeter song than that of the nightingale [379], and melodies that have survived the muses of Cephisus [380]. Sophocles was allegorically the prophet when he declared that in the grave of Oedipus was to be found the sacred guardian and the everlasting defence of the city of Theseus.



FOOTNOTES.

[1] "Cum consuetudine ad imperii cupiditatem trahi videretur."—Nepos in Vit. Milt., cap. 8.

[2] Corn. Nepos in Vit. Milt., cap. 7.

[3] Nepos. in Vit. Milt., cap. 7.

[4] Herod., lib. vi., cap. cxxxvi.

[5] Nepos says the fine was estimated at the cost of the navy he had conducted to Paros; but Boeckh rightly observes, that it is an ignorant assertion of that author that the fine was intended for a compensation, being the usual mode of assessing the offence.

The case is simply this—Miltiades was accused—whether justly or unjustly no matter—it was clearly as impossible not to receive the accusation and to try the cause, as it would be for an English court of justice to refuse to admit a criminal action against Lord Grey or the Duke of Wellington. Was Miltiades guilty or not? This we cannot tell. We know that he was tried according to the law, and that the Athenians thought him guilty, for they condemned him. So far this is not ingratitude—it is the course of law. A man is tried and found guilty—if past services and renown were to save the great from punishment when convicted of a state offence, society would perhaps be disorganized, and certainly a free state would cease to exist. The question therefore shrinks to this—was it or was it not ungrateful in the people to relax the penalty of death, legally incurred, and commute it to a heavy fine? I fear we shall find few instances of greater clemency in monarchies, however mild. Miltiades unhappily died. But nature slew him, not the Athenian people. And it cannot be said with greater justice of the Athenians, than of a people no less illustrious, and who are now their judges, that it was their custom "de tuer en amiral pour encourager les autres."

[6] The taste of a people, which is to art what public opinion is to legislation, is formed, like public opinion, by habitual social intercourse and collision. The more men are brought together to converse and discuss, the more the principles of a general national taste will become both diffused and refined. Less to their climate, to their scenery, to their own beauty of form, than to their social habits and preference of the public to the domestic life, did the Athenians, and the Grecian republics generally, owe that wonderful susceptibility to the beautiful and harmonious, which distinguishes them above all nations ancient or modern. Solitude may exalt the genius of a man, but communion alone can refine the taste of a people.

[7] It seems probable that the principal Bacchic festival was originally held at the time of the vintage—condita post frumenta. But from the earliest known period in Attica, all the triple Dionysia were celebrated during the winter and the spring.

[8] Egyptian, according to Herodotus, who asserts, that Melampus first introduced the Phallic symbol among the Greeks, though he never sufficiently explained its mysterious significations, which various sages since his time had, however, satisfactorily interpreted. It is just to the Greeks to add, that this importation, with the other rites of Bacchus, was considered at utter variance with their usual habits and manners.

[9] Herodotus asserts that Arion first named, invented, and taught the dithyramb at Corinth; but, as Bentley triumphantly observes, Athenaeus has preserved to us the very verses of Archilochus, his predecessor by a century, in which the song of the dithyramb is named.

[10] In these remarks upon the origin of the drama, it would belong less to history than to scholastic dissertation, to enter into all the disputed and disputable points. I do not, therefore, pause with every step to discuss the questions contested by antiquarians—such as, whether the word "tragedy," in its primitive and homely sense, together with the prize of the goat, was or was not known in Attica prior to Thespis (it seems to me that the least successful part of Bentley's immortal work is that which attempts to enforce the latter proposition); still less do I think a grave answer due to those who, in direct opposition to authorities headed by the grave and searching Aristotle, contend that the exhibitions of Thespis were of a serious and elevated character. The historian must himself weigh the evidences on which he builds his conclusions; and come to those conclusions, especially in disputes which bring to unimportant and detached inquiries the most costly expenditure of learning, without fatiguing the reader with a repetition of all the arguments which he accepts or rejects. For those who incline to go more deeply into subjects connected with the early Athenian drama, works by English and German authors, too celebrated to enumerate, will be found in abundance. But even the most careless general reader will do well to delight himself with that dissertation of Bentley on Phalaris, so familiar to students, and which, despite some few intemperate and bold assumptions, will always remain one of the most colossal monuments of argument and erudition.

[11] Aeschylus was a Pythagorean. "Veniat Aeschylus, sed etiam Pythagoreus."—Cic. Tusc. Dis., b. ii., 9.

[12] Out of fifty plays, thirty-two were satyrical.—Suidas in Prat.

[13] The Tetralogy was the name given to the fourfold exhibition of the three tragedies, or trilogy, and the Satyric Drama.

[14] Yet in Aeschylus there are sometimes more than two speaking actors on the stage,—as at one time in the Choephori, Clytemnestra, Orestes, Electra (to say nothing of Pylades, who is silent), and again in the same play, Orestes, Pylades, and Clytemnestra, also in the Eumenides, Apollo, Minerva, Orestes. It is truly observed, however, that these plays were written after Sophocles had introduced the third actor. [The Orestean tetralogy was exhibited B. C. 455, only two years before the death of Aeschylus, and ten years after Sophocles had gained his first prize.] Any number of mutes might be admitted, not only as guards, etc., but even as more important personages. Thus, in the Prometheus, the very opening of the play exhibits to us the demons of Strength and Force, the god Vulcan, and Prometheus himself; but the dialogue is confined to Strength and Vulcan.

[15] The celebrated temple of Bacchus; built after the wooden theatre had given way beneath the multitude assembled to witness a contest between Pratinas and Aeschylus.

[16] 1st. The rural Dionysia, held in the country districts throughout Attica about the beginning of January. 2d. The Lenaean, or Anthesterial, Dionysia, in the end of February and beginning of March, in which principally occurred the comic contests; and the grand Dionysis of the city, referred to in the text. Afterward dramatic performances were exhibited also, in August, during the Panathenaea.

[17] That is, when three actors became admitted on the stage.

[18] For it is sufficiently clear that women were admitted to the tragic performances, though the arguments against their presence in comic plays preponderate. This admitted, the manners of the Greeks may be sufficient to prove that, as in the arena of the Roman games, they were divided from the men; as, indeed, is indirectly intimated in a passage of the Gorgias of Plato.

[19] Schlegel says truly and eloquently of the chorus—"that it was the idealized spectator"—"reverberating to the actual spectator a musical and lyrical expression of his own emotions."

[20] In this speech he enumerates, among other benefits, that of Numbers, "the prince of wise inventions"—one of the passages in which Aeschylus is supposed to betray his Pythagorean doctrines.

[21] It is greatly disputed whether Io was represented on the stage as transformed into the actual shape of a heifer, or merely accursed with a visionary phrensy, in which she believes in the transformation. It is with great reluctance that I own it seems to me not possible to explain away certain expressions without supposing that Io appeared on the stage at least partially transformed.

[22] Vit. Aesch.

[23] It is the orthodox custom of translators to render the dialogue of the Greek plays in blank verse; but in this instance the whole animation and rapidity of the original would be utterly lost in the stiff construction and protracted rhythm of that metre.

[24] Viz., the meadows around Asopus.

[25] To make the sense of this detached passage more complete, and conclude the intelligence which the queen means to convey, the concluding line in the text is borrowed from the next speech of Clytemnestra—following immediately after a brief and exclamatory interruption of the chorus.

[26] i. e. Menelaus, made by grief like the ghost of his former self.

[27] The words in italics attempt to convey paraphrastically a new construction of a sentence which has puzzled the commentators, and met with many and contradictory interpretations. The original literally is—"I pity the last the most." Now, at first it is difficult to conjecture why those whose adversity is over, "blotted out with the moistened sponge," should be the most deserving of compassion. But it seems to me that Cassandra applies the sentiments to herself—she pities those whose career of grief is over, because it is her own lot which she commiserates, and by reference to which she individualizes a general reflection.

[28] Perhaps his mere diction would find a less feeble resemblance in passages of Shelley, especially in the Prometheus of that poet, than in any other poetry existent. But his diction alone. His power is in concentration—the quality of Shelley is diffuseness. The interest excited by Aeschylus, even to those who can no longer sympathize with the ancient associations, is startling, terrible, and intense—that excited by Shelley is lukewarm and tedious. The intellectuality of Shelley destroyed, that of Aeschylus only increased, his command over the passions.

[29] In the comedy of "The Frogs," Aristophanes makes it the boast of Aeschylus, that he never drew a single woman influenced by love. Spanheim is surprised that Aristophanes should ascribe such a boast to the author of the "Agamemnon." But the love of Clytemnestra for Aegisthus is never drawn—never delineated. It is merely suggested and hinted at—a sentiment lying dark and concealed behind the motives to the murder of Agamemnon ostensibly brought forward, viz., revenge for the sacrifice of Iphigenia, and jealousy of Cassandra.

[30] In plays lost to us.

[31] I reject the traditions which make Aristides and Themistocles rivals as boys, because chronology itself refutes them. Aristides must have been of mature age at the battle of Marathon, if he was the friend and follower of Clisthenes, one of the ten generals in the action, and archon in the following year. But both Plutarch and Justin assure us that Themistocles was very young at the battle of Marathon, and this assurance is corroborated by other facts connected with his biography. He died at the age of sixty-five, but he lived to see the siege of Cyprus by Cimon. This happened B. C. 449. If, then, we refer his death to that year, he was born 514 B. C., and therefore was about twenty-four at the battle of Marathon.

[32] Plut. in Vit. Them. Heraclides et Idomeneus ap. Athen., lib. 12.

[33] See Dodwell's "Tour through Greece," Gell's "Itinerary."

[34] "Called by some Laurion Oros, or Mount Laurion." Gell's Itinerary.

[35] Boeckh's Dissert. on the Silver Mines of Laurium.

[36] Boeckh's Dissert. on the Silver Mines of Laurium.

[37] On this point, see Boeckh. Dissert. on the Silver Mines of Laurion, in reference to the account of Diodorus.

[38] If we except the death of his brother, in the Cambyses of Ctesias, we find none of the crimes of the Cambyses of Herodotus—and even that fratricide loses its harsher aspect in the account of Ctesias, and Cambyses is represented as betrayed into the crime by a sincere belief in his brother's treason.

[39] The account of this conspiracy in Ctesias seems more improbable than that afforded to us by Herodotus. But in both the most extraordinary features of the plot are the same, viz., the striking likeness between the impostor and the dead prince, and the complete success which, for a time, attended the fraud. In both narrations, too, we can perceive, behind the main personages ostensibly brought forward, the outline of a profound device of the magi to win back from the Persian conquerors, and to secure to a Mede, the empire of the East.

[40] Herodotus says it was resolved that the king could only marry into the family of one of the conspirators; but Darius married two daughters and one grand-daughter of Cyrus. It is more consonant with eastern manners to suppose that it was arranged that the king should give his own daughters in marriage to members of these six houses. It would have been scarcely possible to claim the monopoly of the royal seraglio, whether its tenants were wives or concubines, and in all probability the king's choice was only limited (nor that very rigidly) to the family of Cyrus, and the numerous and privileged race of the Achaemenids.

[41] Besides the regular subsidies, we gather from Herodotus, I. c. 92, that the general population was obliged to find subsistence for the king and his armies. Babylon raised a supply for four months, the resources of that satrapy being adequate to a third part of Asia.

[42] That comparatively small and frontier part of India known to Darius.

[43] Forming a revenue of more than 100,000l. sterling.—Heeren's Persians, chap. ii.

[44] Such are the expressions of Herodotus. His testimony is corroborated by the anecdotes in his own history, and, indeed, by all other ancient authorities.

[45] Dinon. (Apud Athen., lib. xiii.) observes, that the Persian queen tolerated the multitude of concubines common to the royal seraglio, because they worshipped her, like a divinity.

[46] See, in addition to more familiar authorities, the curious remarks and anecdotes relative to the luxury of the Persian kings, in the citations from Dinon, Heraclides, Agathocles, and Chares of Mitylene, scattered throughout Athenaeus, lib. xii., xiii., xiv.; but especially lib. xii.

[47] Strabo, lib. xv, Herod., lib. i., c. cxxxi., etc.

[48] Among innumerable instances of the disdain of human life contracted after their conquest by those very Persians who, in their mountain obscurity, would neither permit their sovereign to put any one to death for a single offence, nor the master of a household to exercise undue severity to a member of his family (Herod., lib. i., c. cxxxvii.), is one recorded by Herodotus, and in the main corroborated by Justin. Darius is at the siege of Babylon; Zopyrus, one of the seven conspirators against the magian, maims himself and enters Babylon as a deserter, having previously concerted with Darius that a thousand men, whose loss he could best spare, should be sent one day to the gate of Semiramis, and two thousand, another day, to the gates of Ninus, and four thousand, a third day, to the Chaldaean gates. All these detachments Zopyrus, at the head of the Babylonians, deliberately butchered. The confidence of the Babylonians thus obtained, Zopyrus was enabled to betray the city to the king. This cold-blooded and treacherous immolation of seven thousand subjects was considered by the humane Darius and the Persians generally a proof of the most illustrious virtue in Zopyrus, who received for it the reward of the satrapy of Babylon. The narrative is so circumstantial as to bear internal evidence of its general truth. In fact, a Persian would care no more for the lives of seven thousand Medes than a Spartan would care for the lives of suspected Helots.

[49] Herodot., lib. i., c. cxxxiv. The Pasargadae, whom the ancient writers evidently and often confound with the whole Persian population, retained the old education and severe discipline for their youth, long after the old virtues had died away. (See Strabo, xv., Herod., lib. i., and the rhetorical romance of Xenophon.) But laws and customs, from which the animating spirit of national opinion and sentiment has passed, are but the cenotaphs of dead forms embalmed in vain.

[50] Ctesias, 20.

[51] Herod., lib vii., c. xi.

[52] Juvenal, Richardson, etc. The preparations at Mount Athos commenced three years before Xerxes arrived at Sardis. (Compare Herod., l. vii. 21, with 33, 37.)

[53] Differently computed; according to Montfaucon, the sum total may be estimated at thirty-two millions of Louis d'ors.

[54] It must be confessed that the tears of Xerxes were a little misplaced. He wept that men could not live a hundred years, at the very moment when he meditated destroying a tolerable portion of them as soon as he possibly could.—Senec. de Brev. Vit., c. 17.

[55] Common also to the ancient Germans.

[56] For this reason—whoever died, whether by disease or battle, had his place immediately supplied. Thus their number was invariably the same.

[57] Diod. Sic.

[58] See note [48].

[59] Her., lib. vii., c. 138.

[60] Mueller on the Greek Congress.

[61] Mueller on the Greek Congress.

[62] Anaxandrides, king of Sparta, and father of Cleomenes and Leonidas, had married his niece: she was barren. The Ephors persuaded him to take another wife; he did so, and by the second wife. Cleomenes was born. Almost at the same time, the first wife, hitherto barren, proved with child. And as she continued the conjugal connexion, in process of time three sons were born; of these Leonidas was the second. But Cleomenes, though the offspring of the second wife, came into the world before the children by the first wife and therefore had the prior right to the throne.

[63] It is impossible by any calculations to render this amount more credible to modern skepticism. It is extremely likely that Herodotus is mistaken in his calculation; but who shall correct him?

[64] The Cissii, or Cissians, inhabited the then fertile province of Susiana, in which was situated the capital of Susa. They resembled the Persians in dress and manners.

[65] So Herodotus (lib. vii., c. 218); but, as it was summer, the noise was probably made rather by the boughs that obstructed the path of the barbarians, than by leaves on the ground.

[66] Diod. Sic., xi., viii.

[67] Justin, ii., ix.

[68] Another Spartan, who had been sent into Thessaly, and was therefore absent from the slaughter of Thermopylae, destroyed himself.

[69] The cross was the usual punishment in Persia for offences against the king's majesty or rights. Perhaps, therefore, Xerxes, by the outrage, only desired to signify that he considered the Spartan as a rebel.

[70] "Thus fought the Greeks at Thermopylae," are the simple expressions of Herodotus, lib. vii., c. 234.

[71] Thus the command of the Athenian forces was at one time likely to fall upon Epicydes, a man whose superior eloquence had gained an ascendency with the people, which was neither due to his integrity nor to his military skill. Themistocles is said to have bribed him to forego his pretensions. Themistocles could be as severe as crafty when occasion demanded: he put to death an interpreter who accompanied the Persian envoys, probably to the congress at the Isthmus [Plutarch implies that these envoys came to Athens, but Xerxes sent none to that city.], for debasing the language of free Greeks to express the demands of the barbarian enemy.

[72] Plutarch rejects this story, very circumstantially told by Herodotus, without adducing a single satisfactory argument for the rejection. The skepticism of Plutarch is more frivolous even than his credulity.

[73] Demost., Philip. 3. See also Aeschines contra Ctesiphon.

[74] I have said that it might be doubted whether the death of Leonidas was as serviceable to Greece as his life might have been; its immediate consequences were certainly discouraging. If his valour was an example, his defeat was a warning.

[75] There were [three hundred, for the sake of round numbers—but one of the three hundred—perhaps two—survived the general massacre.] three hundred Spartans and four hundred Thespians; supposing that (as it has been asserted) the eighty warriors of Mycenae also remained with Leonidas, and that one hundred, or a fourth of the Thebans fell ere their submission was received, this makes a total of eight hundred and eighty. If we take now what at Plataea was the actual ratio of the helots as compared with the Spartans, i. e, seven to one, we shall add two thousand one hundred helots, which make two thousand nine hundred and ninety; to which must be added such of the Greeks as fell in the attacks prior to the slaughter of Thermopylae; so that, in order to make out the total of the slain given by Herodotus, more than eleven hundred must have perished before the last action, in which Leonidas fell.

[76] Plut. in vit. Them.

[77] Ibid.

[78] It is differently stated; by Aeschylus and Nepos at three hundred, by Thucydides at four hundred.

[79] Plut. in vit. Them.

[80] Here we see additional reason for admiring the sagacity of Themistocles.

[81] Her., lib. viii., c. 74.

[82] The tutor of his children, Sicinnus, who had experience of the Eastern manners, and spoke the Persian language.

[83] The number of the Persian galleys, at the lowest computation, was a thousand [Nepos, Herodotus, and Isocrates compute the total at about twelve hundred; the estimate of one thousand is taken from a dubious and disputed passage in Aeschylus, which may be so construed as to signify one thousand, including two hundred and seven vessels, or besides two hundred and seven vessels; viz., twelve hundred and seven in all, which is the precise number given by Herodotus. Ctesias says there were more than one thousand.]; that of the Greeks, as we have seen, three hundred and eighty. But the Persians were infinitely more numerously manned, having on board of each vessel thirty men-at-arms, in addition to the usual number of two hundred. Plutarch seems to state the whole number in each Athenian vessel to be fourteen heavy armed and four bowmen. But this would make the whole Athenian force only three thousand two hundred and forty men, including the bowmen, who were probably not Athenian citizens. It must therefore be supposed, with Mr. Thirlwall, that the eighteen men thus specified were an addition to the ordinary company.

[84] Aeschylus. Persae. 397.

[85] The Persian admiral at Salamis is asserted by Ctesias to have been Onaphas, father-in-law to Xerxes. According to Herodotus, it was Ariabignes, the king's brother, who seems the same as Artabazanes, with whom he had disputed the throne.—Comp. Herod., lib. vii., c. 2, and lib. viii., c. 89.

[86] Plut in vit. Them.

[87] Plut. in vit. Them. The Ariamenes of Plutarch is the Ariabignes of Herodotus.

[88] Mr. Mitford, neglecting to observe this error of Xerxes, especially noted by Herodotus, merely observes—"According to Herodotus, though in this instance we may have difficulty to give him entire credit, Xerxes, from the shore where he sat, saw, admired, and applauded the exploit." From this passage one would suppose that Xerxes knew it was a friend who had been attacked, and then, indeed, we could not have credited the account; but if he and those about him supposed it, as Herodotus states, a foe, what is there incredible? This is one instance in ten thousand more important ones, of Mr. Mitford's habit of arguing upon one sentence by omitting those that follow and precede it.

[89] Diod., lib xi., c. 5. Herod., lib. viii., c. 110. Nepos, et Plut, in vit. Them.

[90] Plut. in vit. Them.

[91] Ibid. These anecdotes have the stamp of authenticity.

[92] Herod., lib. viii., c. 125. See Wesseling's Comment on Timodemus. Plutarch tells the same anecdote, but makes the baffled rebuker of Themistocles a citizen of Seriphus, an island in which, according to Aelian, the frogs never croaked; the men seem to have made up for the silence of the frogs!

[93] See Fast. Hell., vol. ii., page 26.

[94] Plut. in vit. Arist.

[95] Ibid.

[96] The custom of lapidation was common to the earlier ages; it had a kind of sanction, too, in particular offences; and no crime could be considered by a brave and inflamed people equal to that of advice against their honour and their liberties.

[97] See Herod., lib. ix., c. 10. Also Mr. Clinton on the Kings of Sparta. Fast. Hell., vol. ii., p. 187.

[98] See Herod., lib, vi., c. 58. After the burial of a Spartan king, ten days were devoted to mourning; nor was any public business transacted in that interval.

[99] "According to Aristides' decree," says Plutarch, "the Athenian envoys were Aristides, Xanthippus, Myronides, and Cimon."

[100] Herodotus speaks of the devastation and ruin as complete. But how many ages did the monuments of Pisistratus survive the ravage of the Persian sword!

[101] Plut. in vit. Arist.

[102] This, among a thousand anecdotes, proves how salutary and inevitable was the popular distrust of the aristocracy. When we read of the process of bribing the principal men, and of the conspiracy entered into by others, we must treat with contempt those accusations of the jealousy of the Grecian people towards their superiors which form the staple declamations of commonplace historians.

[103] Gargaphia is one mile and a half from the town of Plataea. Gell's Itin. 112.

[104] Plut. in vit. Arist.

[105] A strange fall from the ancient splendour of Mycenae, to furnish only four hundred men, conjointly with Tiryns, to the cause of Greece!

[106] Her., lib. ix., c. 45.

[107] Plutarch in vit. Arist.

[108] This account, by Herodotus, of the contrast between the Spartan and the Athenian leaders, which is amply supported elsewhere, is, as I have before hinted, a proof of the little effect upon Spartan emulation produced by the martyrdom of Leonidas. Undoubtedly the Spartans were more terrified by the slaughter of Thermopylae than fired by the desire of revenge.

[109] "Here seem to be several islands, formed by a sluggish stream in a flat meadow. (Oeroe?) must have been of that description.— "Gell's Itin, 109.

[110] Herod., lib. ix., c. 54.

[111] Plut. in vit. Arist.

[112] Sir W. Gell's Itin. of Greece.

[113] Herod. lib. ix., c. 62.

[114] The Tegeans had already seized the tent of Mardonius, possessing themselves especially of a curious brazen manger, from which the Persian's horse was fed, and afterward dedicated to the Alean Minerva.

[115] I adopt the reading of Valcknaer, "tous hippeas." The Spartan knights, in number three hundred, had nothing to do with the cavalry, but fought on foot or on horseback, as required. (Dionys. Hal., xi., 13.) They formed the royal bodyguard.

[116] Mr. Mitford attributes his absence from the scene to some jealousy of the honours he received at Sparta, and the vain glory with which he bore them. But the vague observations in the authors he refers to by no means bear out this conjecture, nor does it seem probable that the jealousy was either general or keen enough to effect so severe a loss to the public cause. Menaced with grave and imminent peril, it was not while the Athenians were still in the camp that they would have conceived all the petty envies of the forum. The jealousies Themistocles excited were of much later date. It is probable that at this period he was intrusted with the very important charge of watching over and keeping together that considerable but scattered part of the Athenian population which was not engaged either at Mycale or Plataea.

[117] Thucyd., lib. i., c. 89.

[118] Ibid., lib. i., c. 90.

[119] Diod. Sic., lib. xi.; Thucyd., lib. i., c. 90.

[120] Ap. Plut. in vit. Them.

[121] Diodorus (lib. xi.) tells us that the Spartan ambassadors, indulging in threatening and violent language at perceiving the walls so far advanced, were arrested by the Athenians, who declared they would only release them on receiving hack safe and uninjured their own ambassadors.

[122] Thucyd., lib. i., c. 91.

[123] Ibid., lib. i., c. 92.

[124] Schol. ad Thucyd., lib. i., c. 93. See Clinton, Fasti Hell., vol. i., Introduction, p. 13 and 14. Mr. Thirlwall, vol. ii., p. 401, disputes the date for the archonship of Themistocles given by Mr. Clinton and confirmed by the scholiast on Thucydides. He adopts (page 366) the date which M. Boeckh founds upon Philochorus, viz., B. C. 493. But the Themistocles who was archon in that year is evidently another person from the Themistocles of Salamis; for in 493 that hero was about twenty-one, an age at which the bastard of Neocles might be driving courtesans in a chariot (as is recorded in Athenaeus), but was certainly not archon of Athens. As for M. Boeckh's proposed emendation, quoted so respectfully by Mr. Thirlwall, by which we are to read Hybrilidon for Kebridos, it is an assumption so purely fanciful as to require no argument for refusing it belief. Mr. Clinton's date for the archonship of the great Themistocles is the one most supported by internal evidence—1st, by the blanks of the years 481-482 in the list of archons; 2dly, by the age, the position, and repute of Themistocles in B. C. 481, two years after the ostracism of his rival Aristides. If it were reduced to a mere contest of probabilities between Mr. Clinton on one side and Mr. Boeckh and Mr. Thirlwall on the other, which is the more likely, that Themistocles should have been chief archon of Athens at twenty-one or at thirty-three—before the battle of Marathon or after his triumph over Aristides? In fact, a schoolboy knows that at twenty-one (and Themistocles was certainly not older in 493) no Athenian could have been archon. In all probability Kebridos is the right reading in Philochorus, and furnishes us with the name of the archon in B. C. 487 or 486, which years have hitherto been chronological blanks, so far as the Athenian archons are concerned.

[125] Pausan., lib. i., c. 1.

[126] Diod., lib. xi.

[127] Diod., lib. xi.

[128] Diod., lib. xi. The reader will perceive that I do not agree with Mr. Thirlwall and some other scholars, for whose general opinion I have the highest respect, in rejecting altogether, and with contempt, the account of Diodorus as to the precautions of Themistocles. It seems to me highly probable that the main features of the story are presented to us faithfully; 1st, that it was not deemed expedient to detail to the popular assembly all the objects and motives of the proposed construction of the new port; and, 2dly, that Themistocles did not neglect to send ambassadors to Sparta, though certainly not with the intention of dealing more frankly with the Spartans than he had done with the Athenians.

[129] Thucyd., lib. i.

[130] Aristot. Pol., lib. ii. Aristotle deems the speculations of the philosophical architect worthy of a severe and searching criticism.

[131] Of all the temples, those of Minerva and Jupiter were the most remarkable in the time of Pausanias. There were then two market-places. See Pausanias, lib. i., c. i.

[132] Yet at this time the Amphictyonic Council was so feeble that, had the Spartans succeeded, they would have made but a hollow acquisition of authority; unless, indeed, with the project of gaining a majority of votes, they united another for reforming or reinvigorating the institution.

[133] Thucyd., lib. i., c. 96.

[134] Heeren, Pol. Hist. of Greece.

[135] Corn. Nep. in vit. Paus.

[136] Thucyd., lib. i., c. 129.

[137] Plut. in vit. Arist.

[138] Ibid.

[139] Thucyd., lib. i.

[140] Plut. in vit. Cimon. Before this period, Cimon, though rising into celebrity, could scarcely have been an adequate rival to Themistocles.

[141] Corn. Nep. in vit. Cim.

[142] According to Diodorus, Cimon early in life made a very wealthy marriage; Themistocles recommended him to a rich father-in-law, in a witticism, which, with a slight variation, Plutarch has also recorded, though he does not give its application to Cimon.

[143] Corn. Nep. in vit. Cim.

[144] Thucyd., lib. i.

[145] Ibid., lib. i. Plut. in vit. Cim. Diod. Sic., lib. xi.

[146] See Clinton, Fast. Hell., vol. ii., p. 34, in comment upon Bentley.

[147] Athenaeus, lib. xii.

[148] Plut. in vit. Them.

[149] Plut. in vit. Aristid.

[150] About twenty-three English acres. This was by no means a despicable estate in the confined soil of Attica.

[151] Aristot. apud Plat. vit. Cim.

[152] Produced equally by the anti-popular party on popular pretexts. It was under the sanction of Mr. Pitt that the prostitution of charity to the able-bodied was effected in England.

[153] Plut. in vit. Cim.

[154] His father's brother, Cleomenes, died raving mad, as we have already seen. There was therefore insanity in the family.

[155] Plut. in vit. Cim. Pausanias, lib. iii., c. 17.

[156] Pausarias, lib. iii., c. 17.

[157] Phigalea, according to Pausanias.

[158] Plut. in vit. Cim.

[159] Thucyd., lib. i.

[160] Plato, leg. vi.

[161] Nep. in vit. Paus.

[162] Pausanias observes that his renowned namesake was the only suppliant taking refuge at the sanctuary of Minerva Chalcioecus who did not obtain the divine protection, and this because he could never purify himself of the murder of Cleonice.

[163] Thucyd., lib. i., 136.

[164] Plut. in vit. Them.

[165] Thucyd., lib. i., 137.

[166] Mr. Mitford, while doubting the fact, attempts, with his usual disingenuousness, to raise upon the very fact that he doubts, reproaches against the horrors of democratical despotism. A strange practice for an historian to allow the premises to be false, and then to argue upon them as true!

[167] The brief letter to Artaxerxes, given by Thucydides (lib i., 137), is as evidently the composition of Thucydides himself as is the celebrated oration which he puts into the mouth of Pericles. Each has the hard, rigid, and grasping style so peculiar to the historian, and to which no other Greek writer bears the slightest resemblance. But the matter may be more genuine than the diction.

[168] At the time of his arrival in Asia, Xerxes seems to have been still living. But he appeared at Susa during the short interval between the death of Xerxes and the formal accession of his son, when, by a sanguinary revolution, yet to be narrated, Artabanus was raised to the head of the Persian empire: ere the year expired Artaxerxes was on the throne.

[169] I relate this latter account of the death of Themistocles, not only because Thucydides (though preferring the former) does not disdain to cite it, but also because it is evident, from the speech of Nicias, in the Knights of Aristophanes, i. 83, 84, that in the time of Pericles it was popularly believed by the Athenians that Themistocles died by poison; and from motives that rendered allusion to his death a popular claptrap. It is also clear that the death of Themistocles appears to have reconciled him at once to the Athenians. The previous suspicions of his fidelity to Greece do not seem to have been kept alive even by the virulence of party; and it is natural to suppose that it must have been some act of his own, real or imagined, which tended to disprove the plausible accusations against him, and revive the general enthusiasm in his favour. What could that act have been but the last of his life, which, in the lines of Aristophanes referred to above, is cited as the ideal of a glorious death! But if he died by poison, the draught was not bullock's blood—the deadly nature of which was one of the vulgar fables of the ancients. In some parts of the continent it is, in this day, even used as medicine.

[170] Plut. in vit. Them.

[171] Plut. in vit. Them.

[172] Thucyd., lib. i.

[173] Diod., lib. xi.

[174] Plut. in vit. Cim.

[175] Diod. (lib. xi.) reckons the number of prisoners at twenty thousand! These exaggerations sink glory into burlesque.

[176] The Cyaneae. Plin. vi., c. 12. Herod. iv., c. 85, etc. etc.

[177] Thucyd., lib.., 99.

[178] Plut. in vit. Cim.

[179] For the siege of Thasos lasted three years; in the second year we find Cimon marching to the relief of the Spartans; in fact, the siege of Thasos was not of sufficient importance to justify Cimon in a very prolonged absence from Athens.

[180] Plut. in vit. Cim.

[181] Plut. in vit. Cim.

[182] Those historians who presume upon the slovenly sentences of Plutarch, that Pericles made "an instrument" of Ephialtes in assaults on the Areopagus, seem strangely to mistake both the character of Pericles, which was dictatorial, not crafty, and the position of Ephialtes, who at that time was the leader of his party, and far more influential than Pericles himself. Plato (ap. Plut. in vit. Peric.) rightly considers Ephialtes the true overthrower of the Areopagus; and although Pericles assisted him (Aristot., l. ii., c. 9), it was against Ephialtes as the chief, not "the instrument," that the wrath of the aristocracy was directed.

[183] See Demosth. adv. Aristocr., p. 642. ed. Reisk. Herman ap. Heidelb. Jahrb., 1830, No. 44. Forckhammer de Areopago, etc. against Boeckh. I cannot agree with those who attach so much importance to Aeschylus, in the tragedy of "The Furies," as an authority in favour of the opinion that the innovations of Ephialtes deprived the Areopagus of jurisdiction in cases of homicide. It is true that the play turns upon the origin of the tribunal—it is true that it celebrates its immemorial right of adjudication of murder, and that Minerva declares this court of judges shall remain for ever. But would this prophecy be risked at the very time when this court was about to be abolished? In the same speech of Minerva, far more direct allusion is made to the police of the court in the fear and reverence due to it; and strong exhortations follow, not to venerate anarchy or tyranny, or banish "all fear from the city," which apply much more forcibly to the council than to the court of the Areopagus.

[184] That the Areopagus did, prior to the decree of Ephialtes, possess a power over the finances, appears from a passage in Aristotle (ap. Plut. in vit. Them.), in which it is said that, in the expedition to Salamis, the Areopagus awarded to each man eight drachmae.

[185] Plutarch attributes his ostracism to the resentment of the Athenians on his return from Ithome; but this is erroneous. He was not ostracised till two years after his return.

[186] Mikaeas epilabomenoi prophaseos.—Plut. in vit. Cim. 17.

[187] Neither Aristotle (Polit., lib. v., c. 10), nor Justin, nor Ctesias nor Moderns speak of the assassin as kinsman to Xerxes. In Plutarch (Vit. Them.) he is Artabanus the Chiliarch.

[188] Ctesias, 30; Diod, 11; Justin, lib. iii., c. 1. According to Aristotle, Artabanus, as captain of the king's guard, received an order to make away with Darius, neglected the command, and murdered Xerxes from fears for his own safety.

[189] Thucyd., lib. i., 107. The three towns of Doris were, according to Thucydides, Baeum, Cytenium, and Erineus. The scholiast on Pindar (Pyth. i., 121) speaks of six towns.

[190] Thucyd., lib. i.

[191] Thucydides, in mentioning these operations of the Athenians, and the consequent fears of the Spartans, proves to what a length hostilities had gone, though war was not openly declared.

[192] Diod. Sic.. lib. xi.

[193] Thucyd., lib, i.

[194] Diod., lib. xi.

[195] Certain German historians, Mueller among others, have built enormous conclusions upon the smallest data, when they suppose Cimon was implicated in this conspiracy. Meirs (Historia Juris de bonis Damnatis, p. 4, note 11) is singularly unsuccessful in connecting the supposed fine of fifty talents incurred by Cimon with the civil commotions of this period. In fact, that Cimon was ever fined at all is very improbable; the supposition rests upon most equivocal ground: if adopted, it is more likely, perhaps, that the fine was inflicted after his return from Thasos, when he was accused of neglecting the honour of the Athenian arms, and being seduced by Macedonian gold (a charge precisely of a nature for which a fine would have been incurred). But the whole tale of this imaginary fine, founded upon a sentence in Demosthenes, who, like many orators, was by no means minutely accurate in historical facts, is possibly nothing more than a confused repetition of the old story of the fine of fifty talents (the same amount) imposed upon Miltiades, and really paid by Cimon. This is doubly, and, indeed, indisputably clear, if we accept Becker's reading of Parion for patrion in the sentence of Demosthenes referred to.

[196] If we can attach any credit to the Oration on Peace ascribed to Andocides, Cimon was residing on his patrimonial estates in the Chersonese at the time of his recall. As Athens retained its right to the sovereignty of this colony, and as it was a most important position as respected the recent Athenian conquests under Cimon himself, the assertion, if true, will show that Cimon's ostracism was attended with no undue persecution. Had the government seriously suspected him of any guilty connivance with the oligarchic conspirators, it could scarcely have permitted him to remain in a colony, the localities of which were peculiarly favourable to any treasonable designs he might have formed.

[197] In the recall of Cimon, Plutarch tells us, some historians asserted that it was arranged between the two parties that the administration of the state should be divided; that Cimon should be invested with the foreign command of Cyprus, and Pericles remain the head of the domestic government. But it was not until the sixth year after his recall (viz., in the archonship of Euthydemus, see Diodorus xii.) that Cimon went to Cyprus; and before that event Pericles himself was absent on foreign expeditions.

[198] Plutarch, by a confusion of dates, blends this short armistice with the five years' truce some time afterward concluded. Mitford and others have followed him in his error. That the recall of Cimon was followed by no peace, not only with the Spartans, but the Peloponnesians generally, is evident from the incursions of Tolmides presently to be related.

[199] Diod lib. xi.

[200] See Mueller's Dorians, and the authorities he quotes. Vol. i., b. I.

[201] For so I interpret Diodorus.

[202] Diod. Sic., lib. xi.

[203] There was a democratic party in Thessaly always favourable to Athens. See Thucyd., iv., c. 88.

[204] Now Lepanto.

[205] Paus., lib. ii., c. 25.

[206] Plut. in vit. Peric.

[207] Thucyd., lib. i., 112.

[208] Diod., lib. xi. Plut. in vit. Cim. Heeren, Manual of Ancient History; but Mr. Mitford and Mr. Thirlwall properly reject this spurious treaty.

[209] Plut. in Cim.

[210] The Clouds.

[211] Isoc. Areop., 38.

[212] Idomen. ap. Athen., lib. xii.

[213] Thucyd., lib. ii., 16; Isoc. Areopag., e. xx., p. 234.

[214] If we believe with Plutarch that wives accompanied their husbands to the house of Aspasia (and it was certainly a popular charge against Pericles that Aspasia served to corrupt the Athenian matrons), they could not have been so jealously confined as writers, judging from passages in the Greek writers that describe not what women were, but what women ought to be, desire us to imagine. And it may be also observed, that the popular anecdotes represent Elpinice as a female intriguante, busying herself in politics, and mediating between Cimon and Pericles; anecdotes, whether or not they be strictly faithful, that at least tend to illustrate the state of society.

[215] As I propose, in a subsequent part of this work, to enter at considerable length into the social life and habits of the Athenians, I shall have full opportunity for a more detailed account of these singular heroines of Alciphron and the later comedians.

[216] It was about five years after the death of Cimon that Pericles obtained that supreme power which resembled a tyranny, but was only the expression and concentration of the democratic will.

[217] Theophrast. ap. Plut. in vit. Per.

[218] Justin, lib. iii., c. 6.

[219] For the transfer itself there were excuses yet more plausible than that assigned by Justin. First, in the year following the breach between the Spartans and Athenians (B. C. 460), probably the same year in which the transfer was effected, the Athenians were again at war with the great king in Egypt; and there was therefore a show of justice in the argument noticed by Boeckh (though in the source whence he derives it the argument applies to the earlier time of Aristides), that the transfer provided a place of greater security against the barbarians. Secondly, Delos itself was already and had long been under Athenian influence. Pisistratus had made a purification of the island [Herod., lib. i., c. 64], Delian soothsayers had predicted to Athens the sovereignty of the seas [Semius Delius, ap. Athen., viii.], and the Athenians seem to have arrogated a right of interference with the temple. The transfer was probably, therefore, in appearance, little more than a transfer from a place under the power of Athens to Athens itself. Thirdly, it seems that when the question was first agitated, during the life of Aristides, it was at the desire of one of the allies themselves (the Samians). [Plut. in vit. Aristid. Boeckh (vol. i., 135, translation) has no warrant for supposing that Pericles influenced the Samians in the expression of this wish, because Plutarch refers the story to the time of Aristides, during whose life Pericles possessed no influence in public affairs.]

[220] The assertion of Diodorus (lib. xii., 38), that to Pericles was confided the superintendence and management of the treasure, is corroborated by the anecdotes in Plutarch and elsewhere, which represent Pericles as the principal administrator of the funds.

[221] The political nature and bias of the Heliaea is apparent in the very oath, preserved in Demost. con. Tim., p. 746, ed. Reiske. In this the heliast is sworn never to vote for the establishment of tyranny or oligarchy in Athens, and never to listen to any proposition tending to destroy the democratic constitution. That is, a man entered upon a judicial tribunal by taking a political oath!

[222] These courts have been likened to modern juries; but they were very little bound by the forms and precedents which shackled the latter. What a jury, even nowadays, a jury of only twelve persons, would be if left entirely to impulse and party feeling, any lawyer will readily conceive. How much more capricious, uncertain, and prejudiced a jury of five hundred, and, in some instances, of one thousand or fifteen hundred! [By the junction of two or more divisions, as in cases of Eisangelia. Poll. viii., 53 and 123; also Tittman.]

[223] "Designed by our ancestors," says Aristotle (Pol., lib. viii, c. 3) not, as many now consider it, merely for delight, but for discipline that so the mind might be taught not only how honourably to pursue business, but how creditably to enjoy leisure; for such enjoyment is, after all, the end of business and the boundary of active life.

[224] See Aristot. (Pol., lib. viii., c. 6.)

[225] An anecdote in Gellius, lib. xv., c. 17, refers the date of the disuse of this instrument to the age of Pericles and during the boyhood of Alcibiades.

[226] Drawing was subsequently studied as a branch of education essential to many of the common occupations of life.

[227] Suid.

[228] Hecataeus was also of Miletus.

[229] Pausan., ii., c. 3: Cic. de Orat., ii., c. 53; Aulus Gellius, xv., c. 23.

[230] Fast. Hell., vol. i.

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