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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



FOOTNOTES.

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

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

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

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

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

[6] Sophoc. Ajax, 1251.

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

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

[9] See Isaiah xxiii.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[20] Hobhouse's Travels, Letter 23.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[28] Naith in the Doric dialect.

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

[30] De Mundo, c. 7.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[39] 2 Kings xvi., 4.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[52] Also Pelasgic, according to Strabo.

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

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

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

[55] Isaiah lxvi. I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[62] See note [54].

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[72] The Thessali were Pelasgic.

[73] Thucyd., lib. i.

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

[75] Strabo, viii.

[76] Pausan., viii.

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

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

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

[80] Strabo, lib. ix.

[81] Mueller's Dorians, vol. i.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[89] Plut. in Vit. Thes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[118] Plut. in Sympos.

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

[120] Plut. in vita Them.

[121] Pausanias, lib. v.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[137] Idem.

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

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

[140] Plut. de Musica.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[148] Pausanias, Messenics.

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

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

[151] Now called Messina.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is stronger in the original—

Moltae kai phormingi tu gar t'anathaemata daitos.

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

[163] Heyne, F. Clinton, etc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[172] "The descent of Theseus with Pirithous into hell," etc.—Paus., ix., c. 31.

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

[174] A herdsman.

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

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

[177] Welcker.

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

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

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

[181] See Odyssey, book vii.

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

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

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

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

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

[187] See chapter i.

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

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

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

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

"'Okeanos hosper ginesis pantos tet ktai;"

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

[192] Plut. de Plac. Phil.

[193] Ap. Stob. Serm.

[194] Laert.

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

[196] A cap.

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

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

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

[200] Fifty-seven, according to Pliny.

[201] Plut. in Vit. Sol.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[208] Athenaeus, lib. xiv.

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

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

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

[212] Pollux.

[213] Aeschines in Timarch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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