Five Stages of Greek Religion
by Gilbert Murray
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We do not know whether the old Hellenes had any general word to denote the surrounding peoples ('Pelasgians and divers other barbarous tribes'[42:1]) whom they conquered or accepted as allies.[42:2] In any case by the time of the Persian Wars (say 500 B. C.) all these tribes together considered themselves Hellenized, bore the name of 'Hellenes', and formed a kind of unity against hordes of 'barbaroi' surrounding them on every side and threatening them especially from the east.

Let us consider for a moment the dates. In political history this self-realization of the Greek tribes as Hellenes against barbarians seems to have been first felt in the Ionian settlements on the coast of Asia Minor, where the 'sons of Javan' (Yawan = Iaon) clashed as invaders against the native Hittite and Semite. It was emphasized by a similar clash in the further colonies in Pontus and in the West. If we wish for a central moment as representing this self-realization of Greece, I should be inclined to find it in the reign of Pisistratus (560-527 B. C.) when that monarch made, as it were, the first sketch of an Athenian empire based on alliances and took over to Athens the leadership of the Ionian race.

In literature the decisive moment is clear. It came when, in Mr. Mackail's phrase, 'Homer came to Hellas'.[42:3] The date is apparently the same, and the influences at work are the same. It seems to have been under Pisistratus that the Homeric Poems, in some form or other, came from Ionia to be recited in a fixed order at the Panathenaic Festival, and to find a canonical form and a central home in Athens till the end of the classical period. Athens is the centre from which Homeric influence radiates over the mainland of Greece. Its effect upon literature was of course enormous. It can be traced in various ways. By the content of the literature, which now begins to be filled with the heroic saga. By a change of style which emerges in, say, Pindar and Aeschylus when compared with what we know of Corinna or Thespis. More objectively and definitely it can be traced in a remarkable change of dialect. The old Attic poets, like Solon, were comparatively little affected by the epic influence; the later elegists, like Ion, Euenus, and Plato, were steeped in it.[43:1]

In religion the cardinal moment is the same. It consists in the coming of Homer's 'Olympian Gods', and that is to be the subject of the present essay. I am not, of course, going to describe the cults and characters of the various Olympians. For that inquiry the reader will naturally go to the five learned volumes of my colleague, Dr. Farnell. I wish merely to face certain difficult and, I think, hitherto unsolved problems affecting the meaning and origin and history of the Olympians as a whole.

Herodotus in a famous passage tells us that Homer and Hesiod 'made the generations of the Gods for the Greeks and gave them their names and distinguished their offices and crafts and portrayed their shapes' (2. 53). The date of this wholesale proceeding was, he thinks, perhaps as much as four hundred years before his own day (c. 430 B. C.) but not more. Before that time the Pelasgians—i. e. the primitive inhabitants of Greece as opposed to the Hellenes—were worshipping gods in indefinite numbers, with no particular names; many of them appear as figures carved emblematically with sex-emblems to represent the powers of fertility and generation, like the Athenian 'Herms'. The whole account bristles with points for discussion, but in general it suits very well with the picture drawn in the first of these essays, with its Earth Maidens and Mothers and its projected Kouroi. The background is the pre-Hellenic 'Urdummheit'; the new shape impressed upon it is the great anthropomorphic Olympian family, as defined in the Homeric epos and, more timidly, in Hesiod. But of Hesiod we must speak later.

* * * * *

Now who are these Olympian Gods and where do they come from? Homer did not 'make' them out of nothing. But the understanding of them is beset with problems.

In the first place why are they called 'Olympian'? Are they the Gods of Mount Olympus, the old sacred mountain of Homer's Achaioi, or do they belong to the great sanctuary of Olympia in which Zeus, the lord of the Olympians, had his greatest festival? The two are at opposite ends of Greece, Olympus in North Thessaly in the north-east, Olympia in Elis in the south-west. From which do the Olympians come? On the one hand it is clear in Homer that they dwell on Mount Olympus; they have 'Olympian houses' beyond human sight, on the top of the sacred mountain, which in the Odyssey is identified with heaven. On the other hand, when Pisistratus introduced the worship of Olympian Zeus on a great scale into Athens and built the Olympieum, he seems to have brought him straight from Olympia in Elis. For he introduced the special Elean complex of gods, Zeus, Rhea, Kronos, and Ge Olympia.[45:1]

Fortunately this puzzle can be solved. The Olympians belong to both places. It is merely a case of tribal migration. History, confirmed by the study of the Greek dialects, seems to show that these northern Achaioi came down across central Greece and the Gulf of Corinth and settled in Elis.[45:2] They brought with them their Zeus, who was already called 'Olympian', and established him as superior to the existing god, Kronos. The Games became Olympian and the sanctuary by which they were performed 'Olympia'.[45:3]

As soon as this point is clear, we understand also why there is more than one Mount Olympus. We can all think of two, one in Thessaly and one across the Aegean in Mysia. But there are many more; some twenty-odd, if I mistake not, in the whole Greek region. It is a pre-Greek word applied to mountains; and it seems clear that the 'Olympian' gods, wherever their worshippers moved, tended to dwell in the highest mountain in the neighbourhood, and the mountain thereby became Olympus.

The name, then, explains itself. The Olympians are the mountain gods of the old invading Northmen, the chieftains and princes, each with his comitatus or loose following of retainers and minor chieftains, who broke in upon the ordered splendours of the Aegean palaces and, still more important, on the ordered simplicity of tribal life in the pre-Hellenic villages of the mainland. Now, it is a canon of religious study that all gods reflect the social state, past or present, of their worshippers. From this point of view what appearance do the Olympians of Homer make? What are they there for? What do they do, and what are their relations one to another?

The gods of most nations claim to have created the world. The Olympians make no such claim. The most they ever did was to conquer it. Zeus and his comitatus conquered Cronos and his; conquered and expelled them—sent them migrating beyond the horizon, Heaven knows where. Zeus took the chief dominion and remained a permanent overlord, but he apportioned large kingdoms to his brothers Hades and Poseidon, and confirmed various of his children and followers in lesser fiefs. Apollo went off on his own adventure and conquered Delphi. Athena conquered the Giants. She gained Athens by a conquest over Poseidon, a point of which we will speak later.

And when they have conquered their kingdoms, what do they do? Do they attend to the government? Do they promote agriculture? Do they practise trades and industries? Not a bit of it. Why should they do any honest work? They find it easier to live on the revenues and blast with thunderbolts the people who do not pay. They are conquering chieftains, royal buccaneers. They fight, and feast, and play, and make music; they drink deep, and roar with laughter at the lame smith who waits on them. They are never afraid, except of their own king. They never tell lies, except in love and war.

A few deductions may be from this statement, but they do not affect its main significance. One god, you may say, Hephaistos, is definitely a craftsman. Yes: a smith, a maker of weapons. The one craftsman that a gang of warriors needed to have by them; and they preferred him lame, so that he should not run away. Again, Apollo herded for hire the cattle of Admetus; Apollo and Poseidon built the walls of Troy for Laomedon. Certainly in such stories we have an intrusion of other elements; but in any case the work done is not habitual work, it is a special punishment. Again, it is not denied that the Olympians have some effect on agriculture and on justice: they destroy the harvests of those who offend them, they punish oath-breakers and the like. Even in the Heroic Age itself—if we may adopt Mr. Chadwick's convenient title for the Age of the Migrations—chieftains and gods probably retained some vestiges of the functions they had exercised in more normal and settled times; and besides we must always realize that, in these inquiries, we never meet a simple and uniform figure. We must further remember that these gods are not real people with a real character. They never existed. They are only concepts, exceedingly confused cloudy and changing concepts, in the minds of thousands of diverse worshippers and non-worshippers. They change every time they are thought of, as a word changes every time it is pronounced. Even in the height of the Achaean wars the concept of any one god would be mixed up with traditions and associations drawn from the surrounding populations and their gods; and by the time they come down to us in Homer and our other early literature, they have passed through the minds of many different ages and places, especially Ionia and Athens.

The Olympians as described in our text of Homer, or as described in the Athenian recitations of the sixth century, are mutatis mutandis related to the Olympians of the Heroic Age much as the Hellenes of the sixth century are to the Hellenes of the Heroic Age. I say 'mutatis mutandis', because the historical development of a group of imaginary concepts shrined in tradition and romance can never be quite the same as that of the people who conceive them. The realm of fiction is apt both to leap in front and to lag in the rear of the march of real life. Romance will hug picturesque darknesses as well as invent perfections. But the gods of Homer, as we have them, certainly seem to show traces of the process through which they have passed: of an origin among the old conquering Achaioi, a development in the Ionian epic schools, and a final home in Athens.[49:1]

For example, what gods are chiefly prominent in Homer? In the Iliad certainly three, Zeus, Apollo, and Athena, and much the same would hold for the Odyssey. Next to them in importance will be Poseidon, Hera, and Hermes.

Zeus stands somewhat apart. He is one of the very few gods with recognizable and undoubted Indo-germanic names, Djeus, the well-attested sky- and rain-god of the Aryan race. He is Achaian; he is 'Hellanios', the god worshipped by all Hellenes. He is also, curiously enough, Pelasgian, and Mr. A. B. Cook[49:2] can explain to us the seeming contradiction. But the Northern elements in the conception of Zeus have on the whole triumphed over any Pelasgian or Aegean sky-god with which they may have mingled, and Zeus, in spite of his dark hair, may be mainly treated as the patriarchal god of the invading Northmen, passing from the Upper Danube down by his three great sanctuaries, Dodona, Olympus, and Olympia. He had an extraordinary power of ousting or absorbing the various objects of aboriginal worship which he found in his path. The story of Meilichios above (p. 14) is a common one. Of course, we must not suppose that the Zeus of the actual Achaioi was a figure quite like the Zeus of Pheidias or of Homer. There has been a good deal of expurgation in the Homeric Zeus,[50:1] as Mr. Cook clearly shows. The Counsellor and Cloud-compeller of classical Athens was the wizard and rainmaker of earlier times; and the All-Father surprises us in Thera and Crete by appearing both as a babe and as a Kouros in spring dances and initiation rituals.[50:2] It is a long way from these conceptions to the Zeus of Aeschylus, a figure as sublime as the Jehovah of Job; but the lineage seems clear.

Zeus is the Achaean Sky-god. His son Phoebus Apollo is of more complex make. On one side he is clearly a Northman. He has connexions with the Hyperboreans.[50:3] He has a 'sacred road' leading far into the North, along which offerings are sent back from shrine to shrine beyond the bounds of Greek knowledge. Such 'sacred roads' are normally the roads by which the God himself has travelled; the offerings are sent back from the new sanctuary to the old. On the other side Apollo reaches back to an Aegean matriarchal Kouros. His home is Delos, where he has a mother, Leto, but no very visible father. He leads the ships of his islanders, sometimes in the form of a dolphin. He is no 'Hellene'. In the fighting at Troy he is against the Achaioi: he destroys the Greek host, he champions Hector, he even slays Achilles. In the Homeric hymn to Apollo we read that when the great archer draws near to Olympus all the gods tremble and start from their seats; Leto alone, and of course Zeus, hold their ground.[51:1] What this god's original name was at Delos we cannot be sure: he has very many names and 'epithets'. But he early became identified with a similar god at Delphi and adopted his name, 'Apollon', or, in the Delphic and Dorian form, 'Apellon'—presumably the Kouros projected from the Dorian gatherings called 'apellae'.[51:2] As Phoibos he is a sun-god, and from classical times onward we often find him definitely identified with the Sun, a distinction which came easily to a Kouros.

In any case, and this is the important point, he is at Delos the chief god of the Ionians. The Ionians are defined by Herodotus as those tribes and cities who were sprung from Athens and kept the Apaturia. They recognized Delos as their holy place and worshipped Apollo Patroos as their ancestor.[51:3] The Ionian Homer has naturally brought us the Ionian god; and, significantly enough, though the tradition makes him an enemy of the Greeks, and the poets have to accept the tradition, there is no tendency to crab or belittle him. He is the most splendid and awful of Homer's Olympians.

The case of Pallas Athena is even simpler, though it leads to a somewhat surprising result. What Apollo is to Ionia that, and more, Athena is to Athens. There are doubtless foreign elements in Athena, some Cretan and Ionian, some Northern.[52:1] But her whole appearance in history and literature tells the same story as her name. Athens is her city and she is the goddess of Athens, the Athena or Athenaia Kore. In Athens she can be simply 'Parthenos', the Maiden; elsewhere she is the 'Attic' or 'Athenian Maiden'. As Glaucopis she is identified or associated with the Owl that was the sacred bird of Athens. As Pallas she seems to be a Thunder-maiden, a sort of Keraunia or bride of Keraunos. A Palladion consists of two thunder-shields, set one above the other like a figure 8, and we can trace in art-types the development of this 8 into a human figure. It seems clear that the old Achaioi cannot have called their warrior-maiden, daughter of Zeus, by the name Athena or Athenaia. The Athenian goddess must have come in from Athenian influence, and it is strange to find how deep into the heart of the poems that influence must have reached. If we try to conjecture whose place it is that Athena has taken, it is worth remarking that her regular epithet, 'daughter of Zeus', belongs in Sanskrit to the Dawn-goddess, Eos.[52:2] The transition might be helped by some touches of the Dawn-goddess that seem to linger about Athena in myth. The rising Sun stayed his horses while Athena was born from the head of Zeus. Also she was born amid a snowstorm of gold. And Eos, on the other hand, is, like Athena, sometimes the daughter of the Giant Pallas.[53:1]

Our three chief Olympians, then, explain themselves very easily. A body of poetry and tradition, in its origin dating from the Achaioi of the Migrations, growing for centuries in the hands of Ionian bards, and reaching its culminating form at Athens, has prominent in it the Achaian Zeus, the Ionian Apollo, the Athenian Kore—the same Kore who descended in person to restore the exiled Pisistratus to his throne.[53:2]

We need only throw a glance in passing at a few of the other Olympians. Why, for instance, should Poseidon be so prominent? In origin he is a puzzling figure. Besides the Achaean Earth-shaking brother of Zeus in Thessaly there seems to be some Pelasgian or Aegean god present in him. He is closely connected with Libya; he brings the horse from there.[54:1] At times he exists in order to be defeated; defeated in Athens by Athena, in Naxos by Dionysus, in Aegina by Zeus, in Argos by Hera, in Acrocorinth by Helios though he continues to hold the Isthmus. In Trozen he shares a temple on more or less equal terms with Athena.[54:2] Even in Troy he is defeated and cast out from the walls his own hands had built.[54:3] These problems we need not for the present face. By the time that concerns us most the Earth-Shaker is a sea-god, specially important to the sea-peoples of Athens and Ionia. He is the father of Neleus, the ancestor of the Ionian kings. His temple at Cape Mykale is the scene of the Panionia, and second only to Delos as a religious centre of the Ionian tribes. He has intimate relations with Attica too. Besides the ancient contest with Athena for the possession of the land, he appears as the father of Theseus, the chief Athenian hero. He is merged in other Attic heroes, like Aigeus and Erechtheus. He is the special patron of the Athenian knights. Thus his prominence in Homer is very natural.

What of Hermes? His history deserves a long monograph to itself; it is so exceptionally instructive. Originally, outside Homer, Hermes was simply an old upright stone, a pillar furnished with the regular Pelasgian sex-symbol of procreation. Set up over a tomb he is the power that generates new lives, or, in the ancient conception, brings the souls back to be born again. He is the Guide of the Dead, the Psychopompos, the divine Herald between the two worlds. If you have a message for the dead, you speak it to the Herm at the grave. This notion of Hermes as herald may have been helped by his use as a boundary-stone—the Latin Terminus. Your boundary-stone is your representative, the deliverer of your message, to the hostile neighbour or alien. If you wish to parley with him, you advance up to your boundary-stone. If you go, as a Herald, peacefully, into his territory, you place yourself under the protection of the same sacred stone, the last sign that remains of your own safe country. If you are killed or wronged, it is he, the immovable Watcher, who will avenge you.

Now this phallic stone post was quite unsuitable to Homer. It was not decent; it was not quite human; and every personage in Homer has to be both. In the Iliad Hermes is simply removed, and a beautiful creation or tradition, Iris, the rainbow-goddess, takes his place as the messenger from heaven to earth. In the Odyssey he is admitted, but so changed and castigated that no one would recognize the old Herm in the beautiful and gracious youth who performs the gods' messages. I can only detect in his language one possible trace of his old Pelasgian character.[56:1]

Pausanias knew who worked the transformation. In speaking of Hermes among the other 'Workers', who were 'pillars in square form', he says, 'As to Hermes, the poems of Homer have given currency to the report that he is a servant of Zeus and leads down the spirits of the departed to Hades'.[56:2] In the magic papyri Hermes returns to something of his old functions; he is scarcely to be distinguished from the Agathos Daimon. But thanks to Homer he is purified of his old phallicism.

Hera, too, the wife of Zeus, seems to have a curious past behind her. She has certainly ousted the original wife, Dione, whose worship continued unchallenged in far Dodona, from times before Zeus descended upon Greek lands. When he invaded Thessaly he seems to have left Dione behind and wedded the Queen of the conquered territory. Hera's permanent epithet is 'Argeia', 'Argive'. She is the Argive Kore or Year-Maiden, as Athena is the Attic, Cypris the Cyprian. But Argos in Homer denotes two different places, a watered plain in the Peloponnese and a watered plain in Thessaly. Hera was certainly the chief goddess of Peloponnesian Argos in historic times, and had brought her consort Herakles[56:3] along with her, but at one time she seems to have belonged to the Thessalian Argos.

She helped Thessalian Jason to launch the ship Argo, and they launched it from Thessalian Pagasae. In the Argonautica she is a beautiful figure, gracious and strong, the lovely patroness of the young hero. No element of strife is haunting her. But in the Iliad for some reason she is unpopular. She is a shrew, a scold, and a jealous wife. Why? Miss Harrison suggests that the quarrel with Zeus dates from the time of the invasion, when he was the conquering alien and she the native queen of the land.[57:1] It may be, too, that the Ionian poets who respected their own Apollo and Athena and Poseidon, regarded Hera as representing some race or tribe that they disliked. A goddess of Dorian Argos might be as disagreeable as a Dorian. It seems to be for some reason like this that Aphrodite, identified with Cyprus or some centre among Oriental barbarians, is handled with so much disrespect; that Ares, the Thracian Kouros, a Sun-god and War-god, is treated as a mere bully and coward and general pest.[57:2]

There is not much faith in these gods, as they appear to us in the Homeric Poems, and not much respect, except perhaps for Apollo and Athena and Poseidon. The buccaneer kings of the Heroic Age, cut loose from all local and tribal pieties, intent only on personal gain and glory, were not the people to build up a powerful religious faith. They left that, as they left agriculture and handiwork, to the nameless common folk.[57:3] And it was not likely that the bards of cultivated and scientific Ionia should waste much religious emotion on a system which was clearly meant more for romance than for the guiding of life.

Yet the power of romance is great. In the memory of Greece the kings and gods of the Heroic Age were transfigured. What had been really an age of buccaneering violence became in memory an age of chivalry and splendid adventure. The traits that were at all tolerable were idealized; those that were intolerable were either expurgated, or, if that was impossible, were mysticized and explained away. And the savage old Olympians became to Athens and the mainland of Greece from the sixth century onward emblems of high humanity and religious reform.

II. The Religious Value of the Olympians

Now to some people this statement may seem a wilful paradox, yet I believe it to be true. The Olympian religion, radiating from Homer at the Panathenaea, produced what I will venture to call exactly a religious reformation. Let us consider how, with all its flaws and falsehoods, it was fitted to attempt such a work.

In the first place the Poems represent an Achaian tradition, the tradition of a Northern conquering race, organized on a patriarchal monogamous system vehemently distinct from the matrilinear customs of the Aegean or Hittite races, with their polygamy and polyandry, their agricultural rites, their sex-emblems and fertility goddesses. Contrast for a moment the sort of sexless Valkyrie who appears in the Iliad under the name of Athena with the Kore of Ephesus, strangely called Artemis, a shapeless fertility figure, covered with innumerable breasts. That suggests the contrast that I mean.

Secondly, the poems are by tradition aristocratic; they are the literature of chieftains, alien to low popular superstition. True, the poems as we have them are not Court poems. That error ought not to be so often repeated. As we have them they are poems recited at a Panegyris, or public festival. But they go back in ultimate origin to something like lays sung in a royal hall. And the contrast between the Homeric gods and the gods found outside Homer is well compared by Mr. Chadwick[59:1] to the difference between the gods of the Edda and the historical traces of religion outside the Edda. The gods who feast with Odin in Asgard, forming an organized community or comitatus, seem to be the gods of the kings, distinct from the gods of the peasants, cleaner and more warlike and lordlier, though in actual religious quality much less vital.

Thirdly, the poems in their main stages are Ionian, and Ionia was for many reasons calculated to lead the forward movement against the 'Urdummheit'. For one thing, Ionia reinforced the old Heroic tradition, in having much the same inward freedom. The Ionians are the descendants of those who fled from the invaders across the sea, leaving their homes, tribes, and tribal traditions. Wilamowitz has well remarked how the imagination of the Greek mainland is dominated by the gigantic sepulchres of unknown kings, which the fugitives to Asia had left behind them and half forgotten.[59:2]

Again, when the Ionians settled on the Asiatic coasts they were no doubt to some extent influenced, but they were far more repelled by the barbaric tribes of the interior. They became conscious, as we have said, of something that was Hellenic, as distinct from something else that was barbaric, and the Hellenic part of them vehemently rejected what struck them as superstitious, cruel, or unclean. And lastly, we must remember that Ionia was, before the rise of Athens, not only the most imaginative and intellectual part of Greece, but by far the most advanced in knowledge and culture. The Homeric religion is a step in the self-realization of Greece, and such self-realization naturally took its rise in Ionia.

Granted, then, that Homer was calculated to produce a kind of religious reformation in Greece, what kind of reformation was it? We are again reminded of St. Paul. It was a move away from the 'beggarly elements' towards some imagined person behind them. The world was conceived as neither quite without external governance, nor as merely subject to the incursions of mana snakes and bulls and thunder-stones and monsters, but as governed by an organized body of personal and reasoning rulers, wise and bountiful fathers, like man in mind and shape, only unspeakably higher.

For a type of this Olympian spirit we may take a phenomenon that has perhaps sometimes wearied us: the reiterated insistence in the reliefs of the best period on the strife of men against centaurs or of gods against giants. Our modern sympathies are apt to side with the giants and centaurs. An age of order likes romantic violence, as landsmen safe in their houses like storms at sea. But to the Greek, this battle was full of symbolical meaning. It is the strife, the ultimate victory, of human intelligence, reason, and gentleness, against what seems at first the overwhelming power of passion and unguided strength. It is Hellas against the brute world.[61:1]

The victory of Hellenism over barbarism, of man over beast: that was the aim, but was it ever accomplished? The Olympian gods as we see them in art appear so calm, so perfect, so far removed from the atmosphere of acknowledged imperfection and spiritual striving, that what I am now about to say may again seem a deliberate paradox. It is nevertheless true that the Olympian Religion is only to the full intelligible and admirable if we realize it as a superb and baffled endeavour, not a telos or completion but a movement and effort of life.

We may analyse the movement into three main elements: a moral expurgation of the old rites, an attempt to bring order into the old chaos, and lastly an adaptation to new social needs. We will take the three in order.

In the first place, it gradually swept out of religion, or at least covered with a decent veil, that great mass of rites which was concerned with the Food-supply and the Tribe-supply and aimed at direct stimulation of generative processes.[62:1] It left only a few reverent and mystic rituals, a few licensed outbursts of riotous indecency in comedy and the agricultural festivals. It swept away what seems to us a thing less dangerous, a large part of the worship of the dead. Such worship, our evidence shows us, gave a loose rein to superstition. To the Olympian movement it was vulgar, it was semi-barbarous, it was often bloody. We find that it has almost disappeared from Homeric Athens at a time when the monuments show it still flourishing in un-Homeric Sparta. The Olympian movement swept away also, at least for two splendid centuries, the worship of the man-god, with its diseased atmosphere of megalomania and blood-lust.[62:2] These things return with the fall of Hellenism; but the great period, as it urges man to use all his powers of thought, of daring and endurance, of social organization, so it bids him remember that he is a man like other men, subject to the same laws and bound to reckon with the same death.

So much for the moral expurgation: next for the bringing of intellectual order. To parody the words of Anaxagoras, 'In the early religion all things were together, till the Homeric system came and arranged them'.

We constantly find in the Greek pantheon beings who can be described as pollon onomaton morphe mia, 'one form of many names'. Each tribe, each little community, sometimes one may almost say each caste—the Children of the Bards, the Children of the Potters—had its own special gods. Now as soon as there was any general 'Sunoikismos' or 'Settling-together', any effective surmounting of the narrowest local barriers, these innumerable gods tended to melt into one another. Under different historical circumstances this process might have been carried resolutely through and produced an intelligible pantheon in which each god had his proper function and there was no overlapping—one Kore, one Kouros, one Sun-God, and so on. But in Greece that was impossible. Imaginations had been too vivid, and local types had too often become clearly personified and differentiated. The Maiden of Athens, Athena, did no doubt absorb some other Korai, but she could not possibly combine with her of Cythera or Cyprus, or Ephesus, nor with the Argive Kore or the Delian or the Brauronian. What happened was that the infinite cloud of Maidens was greatly reduced and fell into four or five main types. The Korai of Cyprus, Cythera, Corinth, Eryx, and some other places were felt to be one, and became absorbed in the great figure of Aphrodite. Artemis absorbed a quantity more, including those of Delos and Brauron, of various parts of Arcadia and Sparta, and even, as we saw, the fertility Kore of Ephesus. Doubtless she and the Delian were originally much closer together, but the Delian differentiated towards ideal virginity, the Ephesian towards ideal fruitfulness. The Kouroi, or Youths, in the same way were absorbed into some half-dozen great mythological shapes, Apollo, Ares, Hermes, Dionysus, and the like.

As so often in Greek development, we are brought up against the immense formative power of fiction or romance. The simple Kore or Kouros was a figure of indistinct outline with no history or personality. Like the Roman functional gods, such beings were hardly persons; they melted easily one into another. But when the Greek imagination had once done its work upon them, a figure like Athena or Aphrodite had become, for all practical purposes, a definite person, almost as definite as Achilles or Odysseus, as Macbeth or Falstaff. They crystallize hard. They will no longer melt or blend, at least not at an ordinary temperature. In the fourth and third centuries we hear a great deal about the gods all being one, 'Zeus the same as Hades, Hades as Helios, Helios the same as Dionysus',[64:1] but the amalgamation only takes place in the white heat of ecstatic philosophy or the rites of religious mysticism.

The best document preserved to us of this attempt to bring order into Chaos is the poetry of Hesiod. There are three poems, all devoted to this object, composed perhaps under the influence of Delphi and certainly under that of Homer, and trying in a quasi-Homeric dialect and under a quasi-Olympian system to bring together vast masses of ancient theology and folk-lore and scattered tradition. The Theogony attempts to make a pedigree and hierarchy of the Gods; The Catalogue of Women and the Eoiai, preserved only in scanty fragments, attempt to fix in canonical form the cloudy mixture of dreams and boasts and legends and hypotheses by which most royal families in central Greece recorded their descent from a traditional ancestress and a conjectural God. The Works and Days form an attempt to collect and arrange the rules and tabus relating to agriculture. The work of Hesiod as a whole is one of the most valiant failures in literature. The confusion and absurdity of it are only equalled by its strange helpless beauty and its extraordinary historical interest. The Hesiodic system when compared with that of Homer is much more explicit, much less expurgated, infinitely less accomplished and tactful. At the back of Homer lay the lordly warrior-gods of the Heroic Age, at the back of Hesiod the crude and tangled superstitions of the peasantry of the mainland. Also the Hesiodic poets worked in a comparatively backward and unenlightened atmosphere, the Homeric were exposed to the full light of Athens.

The third element in this Homeric reformation is an attempt to make religion satisfy the needs of a new social order. The earliest Greek religion was clearly based on the tribe, a band of people, all in some sense kindred and normally living together, people with the same customs, ancestors, initiations, flocks and herds and fields. This tribal and agricultural religion can hardly have maintained itself unchanged at the great Aegean centres, like Cnossus and Mycenae.[65:1] It certainly did not maintain itself among the marauding chiefs of the heroic age. It bowed its head beneath the sceptre of its own divine kings and the armed heel of its northern invaders, only to appear again almost undamaged and unimproved when the kings were fallen and the invaders sunk into the soil like storms of destructive rain.

But it no longer suited its environment. In the age of the migrations the tribes had been broken, scattered, re-mixed. They had almost ceased to exist as important social entities. The social unit which had taken their place was the political community of men, of whatever tribe or tribes, who were held together in times of danger and constant war by means of a common circuit-wall, a Polis.[66:1] The idea of the tribe remained. In the earliest classical period we find every Greek city still nominally composed of tribes, but the tribes are fictitious. The early city-makers could still only conceive of society on a tribal basis. Every local or accidental congregation of people who wish to act together have to invent an imaginary common ancestor. The clash between the old tribal traditions that have lost their meaning, though not their sanctity, and the new duties imposed by the actual needs of the Polis, leads to many strange and interesting compromises. The famous constitution of Cleisthenes shows several. An old proverb expresses well the ordinary feeling on the subject:

hos ke polis rhexeie, nomos d' archaios haristos.

'Whatever the City may do; but the old custom is the best.'

Now in the contest between city and tribe, the Olympian gods had one great negative advantage. They were not tribal or local, and all other gods were. They were by this time international, with no strong roots anywhere except where one of them could be identified with some native god; they were full of fame and beauty and prestige. They were ready to be made 'Poliouchoi', 'City-holders', of any particular city, still more ready to be 'Hellanioi', patrons of all Hellas.

* * * * *

In the working out of these three aims the Olympian religion achieved much: in all three it failed. The moral expurgation failed owing to the mere force of inertia possessed by old religious traditions and local cults. We must remember how weak any central government was in ancient civilization. The power and influence of a highly civilized society were apt to end a few miles outside its city wall. All through the backward parts of Greece obscene and cruel rites lingered on, the darker and worse the further they were removed from the full light of Hellenism.

But in this respect the Olympian Religion did not merely fail: it did worse. To make the elements of a nature-religion human is inevitably to make them vicious. There is no great moral harm in worshipping a thunder-storm, even though the lightning strikes the good and evil quite recklessly. There is no need to pretend that the Lightning is exercising a wise and righteous choice. But when once you worship an imaginary quasi-human being who throws the lightning, you are in a dilemma. Either you have to admit that you are worshipping and flattering a being with no moral sense, because he happens to be dangerous, or else you have to invent reasons for his wrath against the people who happen to be struck. And they are pretty sure to be bad reasons. The god, if personal, becomes capricious and cruel.

When the Ark of Israel was being brought back from the Philistines, the cattle slipped by the threshing floor of Nachon, and the holy object was in danger of falling. A certain Uzzah, as we all know, sprang forward to save it and was struck dead for his pains. Now, if he was struck dead by the sheer holiness of the tabu object, the holiness stored inside it like so much electricity, his death was a misfortune, an interesting accident, and no more.[68:1] But when it is made into the deliberate act of an anthropomorphic god, who strikes a well-intentioned man dead in explosive rage for a very pardonable mistake, a dangerous element has been introduced into the ethics of that religion. A being who is the moral equal of man must not behave like a charge of dynamite.

Again, to worship emblems of fertility and generation, as was done in agricultural rites all through the Aegean area, is in itself an intelligible and not necessarily a degrading practice. But when those emblems are somehow humanized, and the result is an anthropomorphic god of enormous procreative power and innumerable amours, a religion so modified has received a death-blow. The step that was meant to soften its grossness has resulted in its moral degradation. This result was intensified by another well-meant effort at elevation. The leading tribes of central Greece were, as we have mentioned, apt to count their descent from some heroine-ancestress. Her consort was sometimes unknown and, in a matrilinear society, unimportant. Sometimes he was a local god or river. When the Olympians came to introduce some order and unity among these innumerable local gods, the original tribal ancestor tended, naturally enough, to be identified with Zeus, Apollo, or Poseidon. The unfortunate Olympians, whose system really aimed at purer morals and condemned polygamy and polyandry, are left with a crowd of consorts that would put Solomon to shame.

Thus a failure in the moral expurgation was deepened by a failure in the attempt to bring intellectual order into the welter of primitive gods. The only satisfactory end of that effort would have been monotheism. If Zeus had only gone further and become completely, once and for all, the father of all life, the scandalous stories would have lost their point and meaning. It is curious how near to monotheism, and to monotheism of a very profound and impersonal type, the real religion of Greece came in the sixth and fifth centuries. Many of the philosophers, Xenophanes, Parmenides, and others, asserted it clearly or assumed it without hesitation. Aeschylus, Euripides, Plato, in their deeper moments point the same road. Indeed a metaphysician might hold that their theology is far deeper than that to which we are accustomed, since they seem not to make any particular difference between hoi theoi and ho theos or to theion. They do not instinctively suppose that the human distinctions between 'he' and 'it', or between 'one' and 'many', apply to the divine. Certainly Greek monotheism, had it really carried the day, would have been a far more philosophic thing than the tribal and personal monotheism of the Hebrews. But unfortunately too many hard-caked superstitions, too many tender and sensitive associations, were linked with particular figures in the pantheon or particular rites which had brought the worshippers religious peace. If there had been some Hebrew prophets about, and a tyrant or two, progressive and bloody-minded, to agree with them, polytheism might perhaps actually have been stamped out in Greece at one time. But Greek thought, always sincere and daring, was seldom brutal, seldom ruthless or cruel. The thinkers of the great period felt their own way gently to the Holy of Holies, and did not try to compel others to take the same way. Greek theology, whether popular or philosophical, seldom denied any god, seldom forbade any worship. What it tried to do was to identify every new god with some aspect of one of the old ones, and the result was naturally confusion. Apart from the Epicurean school, which though powerful was always unpopular, the religious thought of later antiquity for the most part took refuge in a sort of apotheosis of good taste, in which the great care was not to hurt other people's feelings, or else it collapsed into helpless mysticism.

The attempt to make Olympianism a religion of the Polis failed also. The Olympians did not belong to any particular city: they were too universal; and no particular city had a very positive faith in them. The actual Polis was real and tangible, the Homeric gods a little alien and literary. The City herself was a most real power; and the true gods of the City, who had grown out of the soil and the wall, were simply the City herself in her eternal and personal aspect, as mother and guide and lawgiver, the worshipped and beloved being whom each citizen must defend even to the death. As the Kouros of his day emerged from the social group of Kouroi, or the Aphiktor from the band of suppliants, in like fashion he Polias or ho Polieus emerged as a personification or projection of the city. he Polias in Athens was of course Athena; ho Polieus might as well be called Zeus as anything else. In reality such beings fall into the same class as the hero Argos or 'Korinthos son of Zeus'. The City worship was narrow; yet to broaden it was, except in some rare minds, to sap its life. The ordinary man finds it impossible to love his next-door neighbours except by siding with them against the next-door-but-one.

It proved difficult even in a city like Athens to have gods that would appeal to the loyalty of all Attica. On the Acropolis at Athens there seem originally to have been Athena and some Kouros corresponding with her, some Waterer of the earth, like Erechtheus. Then as Attica was united and brought under the lead of its central city, the gods of the outlying districts began to claim places on the Acropolis. Pallas, the thunder-maid of Pallene in the south, came to form a joint personality with Athena. Oinoe, a town in the north-east, on the way from Delos to Delphi, had for its special god a 'Pythian Apollo'; when Oinoe became Attic a place for the Pythian Apollo had to be found on the Acropolis. Dionysus came from Eleutherae, Demeter and Kore from Eleusis, Theseus himself perhaps from Marathon or even from Trozen. They were all given official residences on Athena's rock, and Athens in return sent out Athena to new temples built for her in Prasiae and Sunion and various colonies.[72:1] This development came step by step and grew out of real worships. It was quite different from the wholesale adoption of a body of non-national, poetical gods: yet even this development was too artificial, too much stamped with the marks of expediency and courtesy and compromise. It could not live. The personalities of such gods vanish away; their prayers become prayers to 'all gods and goddesses of the City'—theois kai theesi pasi kai pasesi; those who remain, chiefly Athena and Theseus, only mean Athens.

What then, amid all this failure, did the Olympian religion really achieve? First, it debarbarized the worship of the leading states of Greece—not of all Greece, since antiquity had no means of spreading knowledge comparable to ours. It reduced the horrors of the 'Urdummheit', for the most part, to a romantic memory, and made religion no longer a mortal danger to humanity. Unlike many religious systems, it generally permitted progress; it encouraged not only the obedient virtues but the daring virtues as well. It had in it the spirit that saves from disaster, that knows itself fallible and thinks twice before it hates and curses and persecutes. It wrapped religion in Sophrosyne.

Again, it worked for concord and fellow-feeling throughout the Greek communities. It is, after all, a good deal to say, that in Greek history we find almost no warring of sects, no mutual tortures or even blasphemies. With many ragged edges, with many weaknesses, it built up something like a united Hellenic religion to stand against the 'beastly devices of the heathen'. And after all, if we are inclined on the purely religious side to judge the Olympian system harshly, we must not forget its sheer beauty. Truth, no doubt, is greater than beauty. But in many matters beauty can be attained and truth cannot. All we know is that when the best minds seek for truth the result is apt to be beautiful. It was a great thing that men should envisage the world as governed, not by Giants and Gorgons and dealers in eternal torture, but by some human and more than human Understanding (Xynesis),[73:1] by beings of quiet splendour like many a classical Zeus and Hermes and Demeter. If Olympianism was not a religious faith, it was at least a vital force in the shaping of cities and societies which remain after two thousand years a type to the world of beauty and freedom and high endeavour. Even the stirring of its ashes, when they seemed long cold, had power to produce something of the same result; for the classicism of the Italian Renaissance is a child, however fallen, of the Olympian spirit.

Of course, I recognize that beauty is not the same as faith. There is, in one sense, far more faith in some hideous miracle-working icon which sends out starving peasants to massacre Jews than in the Athena of Phidias. Yet, once we have rid our minds of trivial mythology, there is religion in Athena also. Athena is an ideal, an ideal and a mystery; the ideal of wisdom, of incessant labour, of almost terrifying purity, seen through the light of some mystic and spiritual devotion like, but transcending, the love of man for woman. Or, if the way of Athena is too hard for us common men, it is not hard to find a true religious ideal in such a figure as Persephone. In Persephone there is more of pathos and of mystery. She has more recently entered the calm ranks of Olympus; the old liturgy of the dying and re-risen Year-bride still clings to her. If Religion is that which brings us into relation with the great world-forces, there is the very heart of life in this home-coming Bride of the underworld, life with its broken hopes, its disaster, its new-found spiritual joy: life seen as Mother and Daughter, not a thing continuous and unchanging but shot through with parting and death, life as a great love or desire ever torn asunder and ever renewed.

'But stay,' a reader may object: 'is not this the Persephone, the Athena, of modern sentiment? Are these figures really the goddesses of the Iliad and of Sophocles?' The truth is, I think, that they are neither the one nor the other. They are the goddesses of ancient reflection and allegory; the goddesses, that is, of the best and most characteristic worship that these idealized creations awakened. What we have treated hitherto as the mortal weakness of the Olympians, the fact that they have no roots in any particular soil, little hold on any definite primeval cult, has turned out to be their peculiar strength. We must not think of allegory as a late post-classical phenomenon in Greece. It begins at least as early as Pythagoras and Heraclitus, perhaps as early as Hesiod; for Hesiod seems sometimes to be turning allegory back into myth. The Olympians, cut loose from the soil, enthroned only in men's free imagination, have two special regions which they have made their own: mythology and allegory. The mythology drops for the most part very early out of practical religion. Even in Homer we find it expurgated; in Pindar, Aeschylus, and Xenophanes it is expurgated, denied and allegorized. The myths survive chiefly as material for literature, the shapes of the gods themselves chiefly as material for art. They are both of them objects not of belief but of imagination. Yet when the religious imagination of Greece deepens it twines itself still around these gracious and ever-moving shapes; the Zeus of Aeschylus moves on into the Zeus of Plato or of Cleanthes or of Marcus Aurelius. Hermes, Athena, Apollo, all have their long spiritual history. They are but little impeded by the echoes of the old frivolous mythology; still less by any local roots or sectional prejudices or compulsory details of ritual. As the more highly educated mind of Greece emerged from a particular, local, tribal, conception of religion, the old denationalized Olympians were ready to receive her.

The real religion of the fifth century was, as we have said, a devotion to the City itself. It is expressed often in Aeschylus and Sophocles, again and again with more discord and more criticism in Euripides and Plato; for the indignant blasphemies of the Gorgias and the Troades bear the same message as the ideal patriotism of the Republic. It is expressed best perhaps, and that without mention of the name of a single god, in the great Funeral Speech of Pericles. It is higher than most modern patriotism because it is set upon higher ideals. It is more fervid because the men practising it lived habitually nearer to the danger-point, and, when they spoke of dying for the City, spoke of a thing they had faced last week and might face again to-morrow. It was more religious because of the unconscious mysticism in which it is clothed even by such hard heads as Pericles and Thucydides, the mysticism of men in the presence of some fact for which they have no words great enough. Yet for all its intensity it was condemned by its mere narrowness. By the fourth century the average Athenian must have recognized what philosophers had recognized long before, that a religion, to be true, must be universal and not the privilege of a particular people. As soon as the Stoics had proclaimed the world to be 'one great City of gods and men', the only Gods with which Greece could satisfactorily people that City were the idealized band of the old Olympians.

They are artists' dreams, ideals, allegories; they are symbols of something beyond themselves. They are Gods of half-rejected tradition, of unconscious make-believe, of aspiration. They are gods to whom doubtful philosophers can pray, with all a philosopher's due caution, as to so many radiant and heart-searching hypotheses. They are not gods in whom any one believes as a hard fact. Does this condemn them? Or is it just the other way? Is it perhaps that one difference between Religion and Superstition lies exactly in this, that Superstition degrades its worship by turning its beliefs into so many statements of brute fact, on which it must needs act without question, without striving, without any respect for others or any desire for higher or fuller truth? It is only an accident—though perhaps an invariable accident—that all the supposed facts are false. In Religion, however precious you may consider the truth you draw from it, you know that it is a truth seen dimly, and possibly seen by others better than by you. You know that all your creeds and definitions are merely metaphors, attempts to use human language for a purpose for which it was never made. Your concepts are, by the nature of things, inadequate; the truth is not in you but beyond you, a thing not conquered but still to be pursued. Something like this, I take it, was the character of the Olympian Religion in the higher minds of later Greece. Its gods could awaken man's worship and strengthen his higher aspirations; but at heart they knew themselves to be only metaphors. As the most beautiful image carved by man was not the god, but only a symbol, to help towards conceiving the god;[77:1] so the god himself, when conceived, was not the reality but only a symbol to help towards conceiving the reality. That was the work set before them. Meantime they issued no creeds that contradicted knowledge, no commands that made man sin against his own inner light.


[39:1] Hdt. i. 60 epei ge apekrithe ek palaiterou tou barbarou ethneos to Hellenikon eon kai dexioteron kai euethies elithiou apellagmenon mallon. As to the date here suggested for the definite dawn of Hellenism Mr. Edwyn Bevan writes to me: 'I have often wondered what the reason is that about that time a new age began all over the world that we know. In Nearer Asia the old Semitic monarchies gave place to the Zoroastrian Aryans; in India it was the time of Buddha, in China of Confucius.' Euethie elithios is almost 'Urdummheit'.

[40:1] See in general Ridgeway, Early Age of Greece, vol. i; Leaf, Companion to Homer, Introduction: R. G. E., chap. ii; Chadwick, The Heroic Age (last four chapters); and J. L. Myres, Dawn of History, chaps. viii and ix.

[40:2] Since writing the above I find in Vandal, L'Avenement de Bonaparte, p. 20, in Nelson's edition, a phrase about the Revolutionary soldiers: 'Ils se modelaient sur ces Romains . . . sur ces Spartiates . . . et ils creaient un type de haute vertu guerriere, quand ils croyaient seulement le reproduire.'

[41:1] Hdt. i. 56 f.; Th. i. 3 (Hellen son of Deucalion, in both).

[42:1] Hdt. i. 58. In viii. 44 the account is more detailed.

[42:2] The Homeric evidence is, as usual, inconclusive. The word barbaroi is absent from both poems, an absence which must be intentional on the part of the later reciters, but may well come from the original sources. The compound barbarophonoi occurs in B 867, but who knows the date of that particular line in that particular wording?

[42:3] Paper read to the Classical Association at Birmingham in 1908.

[43:1] For Korinna see Wilamowitz in Berliner Klassikertexte, V. xiv, especially p. 55. The Homeric epos drove out poetry like Corinna's. She had actually written: 'I sing the great deeds of heroes and heroines' (ionei d' heiroon aretas cheiroiadon aido, fr. 10, Bergk), so that presumably her style was sufficiently 'heroic' for an un-Homeric generation. For the change of dialect in elegy, &c., see Thumb, Handbuch d. gr. Dialekte, pp. 327-30, 368 ff., and the literature there cited. Fick and Hoffmann overstated the change, but Hoffmann's new statement in Die griechische Sprache, 1911, sections on Die Elegie, seems just. The question of Tyrtaeus is complicated by other problems.

[45:1] The facts are well known: see Paus. i. 18. 7. The inference was pointed out to me by Miss Harrison.

[45:2] I do not here raise the question how far the Achaioi have special affinities with the north-west group of tribes or dialects. See Thumb, Handbuch d. gr. Dialekte (1909), p. 166 f. The Achaioi must have passed through South Thessaly in any case.

[45:3] That Kronos was in possession of the Kronion and Olympia generally before Zeus came was recognized in antiquity; Paus. v. 7. 4 and 10. Also Mayer in Roscher's Lexicon, ii, p. 1508, 50 ff.; Rise of Greek Epic{3}, pp. 40-8; J. A. K. Thomson, Studies in the Odyssey (1914), chap. vii, viii; Chadwick, Heroic Age (1911), pp. 282, 289.

[49:1] I do not touch here on the subject of the gradual expurgation of the Poems to suit the feelings of a more civilized audience; see Rise of the Greek Epic,{3} pp. 120-4. Many scholars believe that the Poems did not exist as a written book till the public copy was made by Pisistratus; see Cauer, Grundfragen der Homerkritik{2}, (1909), pp. 113-45; R. G. E.,{3} pp. 304-16; Leaf, Iliad, vol. i, p. xvi. This view is tempting, though the evidence seems to be insufficient to justify a pronouncement either way. If it is true, then various passages which show a verbal use of earlier documents (like the Bellerophon passage, R. G. E.,{3} pp. 175 ff.) cannot have been put in before the Athenian period.

[49:2] In his Zeus, the Indo-European Sky-God (1914, 1924). See R. G. E.,{3} pp. 40 ff.

[50:1] A somewhat similar change occurred in Othin, though he always retains more of the crooked wizard.

[50:2] Themis, chap. i. On the Zeus of Aeschylus cf. R. G. E.,{3} pp. 277 ff.; Gomperz, Greek Thinkers, ii. 6-8.

[50:3] Farnell, Cults, iv. 100-4. See, however, Gruppe, p. 107 f.

[51:1] Hymn. Ap. init. Cf. Wilamowitz's Oxford Lecture on 'Apollo' (Oxford, 1907).

[51:2] Themis, p. 439 f. Cf. ho Agoraios. Other explanations of the name in Gruppe, p. 1224 f., notes.

[51:3] Hdt. i. 147; Plato, Euthyd. 302 c: Socrates. 'No Ionian recognizes a Zeus Patroos; Apollo is our Patroos, because he was father of Ion.'

[52:1] See Gruppe, p. 1206, on the development of his 'Philistine thunderstorm-goddess'.

[52:2] Hoffmann, Gesch. d. griechischen Sprache, Leipzig, 1911, p. 16. Cf. Pind. Ol. vii. 35; Ov. Metam. ix. 421; xv. 191, 700, &c.

[53:1] As to the name, Athenaia is of course simply 'Athenian'; the shorter and apparently original form Athana, Athene is not so clear, but it seems most likely to mean 'Attic'. Cf. Meister, Gr. Dial. ii. 290. He classes under the head of Oertliche Bestimmungen: ha theos ha Paphia (Collitz and Bechtel, Sammlung der griechischen Dialekt-Inschriften, 2, 3, 14{a}, {b}, 15, 16). 'In Paphos selbst hiess die Goettin nur ha theos oder ha wanassa;—ha thios ha Golgia (61)—ha thios ha Athana ha per Edalion (60, 27, 28), 'die Goettin, die Athenische, die ueber Edalion (waltet)'; 'Ath-ana ist, wie J. Baunack (Studia Nicolaitana, s. 27) gezeigt hat, das Adjectiv zu (*Ass-is 'Seeland'): Att-is; Atth-is; *Ath-is; also Ath-ana = Att-ike, Ath-enai urspruenglich Ath-enai komai.' Other derivations in Gruppe, p. 1194. Or again hai Athenai may be simply 'the place where the Athenas are', like hoi ichthyes, the fish-market; 'the Athenas' would be statues, like hoi Hermai—the famous 'Attic Maidens' on the Acropolis. This explanation would lead to some interesting results.

We need not here consider how, partly by identification with other Korae, like Pallas, Onka, &c., partly by a genuine spread of the cult, Athena became prominent in other cities. As to Homer, Athena is far more deeply imbedded in the Odyssey than in the Iliad. I am inclined to agree with those who believe that our Odyssey was very largely composed in Athens, so that in most of the poem Athena is original. (Cf. O. Seeck, Die Quellen der Odyssee (1887), pp. 366-420; Muelder, Die Ilias and ihre Quellen (1910), pp. 350-5.) In some parts of the Iliad the name Athena may well have been substituted for some Northern goddess whose name is now lost.

[53:2] It is worth noting also that this Homeric triad seems also to be recognized as the chief Athenian triad. Plato, Euthyd. 302 c, quoted above, continues: Socrates. 'We have Zeus with the names Herkeios and Phratrios, but not Patroos, and Athena Phratria.' Dionysodorus. 'Well that is enough. You have, apparently, Apollo and Zeus and Athena?' Socrates. 'Certainly.'—Apollo is put first because he has been accepted as Patroos. But see R. G. E.,{3} p. 49, n.

[54:1] Ridgeway, Origin and Influence of the Thoroughbred Horse, 1905, pp. 287-93; and Early Age of Greece, 1901, p. 223.

[54:2] Cf. Plut. Q. Conv. ix. 6; Paus. ii. 1. 6; 4. 6; 15. 5; 30. 6.

[54:3] So in the non-Homeric tradition, Eur. Troades init. In the Iliad he is made an enemy of Troy, like Athena, who is none the less the Guardian of the city.

[56:1] Od. th 339 ff.

[56:2] See Paus. viii. 32. 4. Themis, pp. 295, 296.

[56:3] For the connexion of Hera eros Herakles (Herykalos in Sophron, fr. 142 K) see especially A. B. Cook, Class. Review, 1906, pp. 365 and 416. The name Hera seems probably to be an 'ablaut' form of hora: cf. phrases like Hera teleia. Other literature in Gruppe, pp. 452, 1122.

[57:1] Prolegomena, p. 315, referring to H. D. Mueller, Mythologie d. gr. Staemme, pp. 249-55. Another view is suggested by Muelder, Die Ilias und ihre Quellen, p. 136. The jealous Hera comes from the Heracles-saga, in which the wife hated the bastard.

[57:2] P. Gardner, in Numismatic Chronicle, N.S. xx, 'Ares as a Sun-God'.

[57:3] Chadwick, Heroic Age, especially pp. 414, 459-63.

[59:1] Chap. xviii.

[59:2] Introduction to his edition of the Choephoroe, p. 9.

[61:1] The spirit appears very simply in Eur. Iph. Taur. 386 ff., where Iphigenia rejects the gods who demand human sacrifice:

These tales be false, false as those feastings wild Of Tantalus, and gods that tare a child. This land of murderers to its gods hath given Its own lust. Evil dwelleth not in heaven.

Yet just before she has accepted the loves of Zeus and Leto without objection. 'Leto, whom Zeus loved, could never have given birth to such a monster!' Cf. Plutarch, Vit. Pelop. xxi, where Pelopidas, in rejecting the idea of a human sacrifice, says: 'No high and more than human beings could be pleased with so barbarous and unlawful a sacrifice. It was not the fabled Titans and Giants who ruled the world, but one who was a Father of all gods and men.' Of course, criticism and expurgation of the legends is too common to need illustration. See especially Kaibel, Daktyloi Idaioi, 1902, p. 512.

[62:1] Aristophanes did much to reduce this element in comedy; see Clouds, 537 ff.: also Albany Review, 1907, p. 201.

[62:2] R. G. E.,{3} p. 139 f.

[64:1] Justin, Cohort. c. 15. But such pantheistic language is common in Orphic and other mystic literature. See the fragments of the Orphic Diathekai (pp. 144 ff. in Abel's Hymni).

[65:1] I have not attempted to consider the Cretan cults. They lie historically outside the range of these essays, and I am not competent to deal with evidence that is purely archaeological. But in general I imagine the Cretan religion to be a development from the religion described in my first essay, affected both by the change in social structure from village to sea-empire and by foreign, especially Egyptian, influences. No doubt the Achaean gods were influenced on their side by Cretan conceptions, though perhaps not so much as Ionia was. Cf. the Cretan influences in Ionian vase-painting, and e. g. A. B. Cook on 'Cretan Axe-cult outside Crete', Transactions of the Third International Congress for the History of Religion, ii. 184. See also Sir A. Evans's striking address on 'The Minoan and Mycenaean Element in Hellenic Life', J. H. S. xxxii. 277-97.

[66:1] See R. G. E.,{3} p. 58 f.

[68:1] 2 Sam. vi. 6. See S. Reinach, Orpheus, p. 5 (English Translation, p. 4).

[72:1] Cf. Sam Wide in Gercke and Norden's Handbuch, ii. 217-19.

[73:1] The Xynesis in which the Chorus finds it hard to believe, Hippolytus, 1105. Cf. Iph. Aul. 394, 1189; Herc. 655; also the ideas in Suppl. 203, Eur. Fr. 52, 9, where Xynesis is implanted in man by a special grace of God. The gods are xynetoi, but of course Euripides goes too far in actually praying to Xynesis, Ar. Frogs, 893.

[77:1] Cf. the beautiful defence of idols by Maximus of Tyre, Or. viii (in Wilamowitz's Lesebuch, ii. 338 ff.). I quote the last paragraph:

'God Himself, the father and fashioner of all that is, older than the Sun or the Sky, greater than time and eternity and all the flow of being, is unnameable by any lawgiver, unutterable by any voice, not to be seen by any eye. But we, being unable to apprehend His essence, use the help of sounds and names and pictures, of beaten gold and ivory and silver, of plants and rivers, mountain-peaks and torrents, yearning for the knowledge of Him, and in our weakness naming all that is beautiful in this world after His nature—just as happens to earthly lovers. To them the most beautiful sight will be the actual lineaments of the beloved, but for remembrance' sake they will be happy in the sight of a lyre, a little spear, a chair, perhaps, or a running-ground, or anything in the world that wakens the memory of the beloved. Why should I further examine and pass judgement about Images? Let men know what is divine (to theion genos), let them know: that is all. If a Greek is stirred to the remembrance of God by the art of Pheidias, an Egyptian by paying worship to animals, another man by a river, another by fire—I have no anger for their divergences; only let them know, let them love, let them remember.'



There is a passage in Xenophon describing how, one summer night, in 405 B. C., people in Athens heard a cry of wailing, an oimoge, making its way up between the long walls from the Piraeus, and coming nearer and nearer as they listened. It was the news of the final disaster of Kynoskephalai, brought at midnight to the Piraeus by the galley Paralos. 'And that night no one slept. They wept for the dead, but far more bitterly for themselves, when they reflected what things they had done to the people of Melos, when taken by siege, to the people of Histiaea, and Skione and Torone and Aegina, and many more of the Hellenes.'[79:1]

The echo of that lamentation seems to ring behind most of the literature of the fourth century, and not the Athenian literature alone. Defeat can on occasion leave men their self-respect or even their pride; as it did after Chaeronea in 338 and after the Chremonidean War in 262, not to speak of Thermopylae. But the defeat of 404 not only left Athens at the mercy of her enemies. It stripped her of those things of which she had been inwardly most proud; her 'wisdom', her high civilization, her leadership of all that was most Hellenic in Hellas. The 'Beloved City' of Pericles had become a tyrant, her nature poisoned by war, her government a by-word in Greece for brutality. And Greece as a whole felt the tragedy of it. It is curious how this defeat of Athens by Sparta seems to have been felt abroad as a defeat for Greece itself and for the hopes of the Greek city state. The fall of Athens mattered more than the victory of Lysander. Neither Sparta nor any other city ever attempted to take her place. And no writer after the year 400 speaks of any other city as Pericles used to speak of fifth-century Athens, not even Polybius 250 years later, when he stands amazed before the solidity and the 'fortune' of Rome.

The city state, the Polis, had concentrated upon itself almost all the loyalty and the aspirations of the Greek mind. It gave security to life. It gave meaning to religion. And in the fall of Athens it had failed. In the third century, when things begin to recover, we find on the one hand the great military monarchies of Alexander's successors, and on the other, a number of federations of tribes, which were generally strongest in the backward regions where the city state had been least developed. To koinon ton Aitolon or ton Achaion had become more important than Athens or Corinth, and Sparta was only strong by means of a League.[80:1] By that time the Polis was recognized as a comparatively weak social organism, capable of very high culture but not quite able, as the Covenant of the League of Nations expresses it, 'to hold its own under the strenuous conditions of modern life'. Besides, it was not now ruled by the best citizens. The best had turned away from politics.

This great discouragement did not take place at a blow. Among the practical statesmen probably most did not form any theory about the cause of the failure but went on, as practical statesmen must, doing as best they could from difficulty to difficulty. But many saw that the fatal danger to Greece was disunion, as many see it in Europe now. When Macedon proved indisputably stronger than Athens Isocrates urged Philip to accept the leadership of Greece against the barbarian and against barbarism. He might thus both unite the Greek cities and also evangelize the world. Lysias, the democratic and anti-Spartan orator, had been groping for a similar solution as early as 384 B. C., and was prepared to make an even sharper sacrifice for it. He appealed at Olympia for a crusade of all the free Greek cities against Dionysius of Syracuse, and begged Sparta herself to lead it. The Spartans are 'of right the leaders of Hellas by their natural nobleness and their skill in war. They alone live still in a city unsacked, unwalled, unconquered, uncorrupted by faction, and have followed always the same modes of life. They have been the saviours of Hellas in the past, and one may hope that their freedom will be everlasting.'[81:1] A great and generous change in one who had 'learned by suffering' in the Peloponnesian War. Others no doubt merely gave their submission to the stronger powers that were now rising. There were openings for counsellors, for mercenary soldiers, for court savants and philosophers and poets, and, of course, for agents in every free city who were prepared for one motive or another not to kick against the pricks. And there were always also those who had neither learned nor forgotten, the unrepentant idealists; too passionate or too heroic or, as some will say, too blind, to abandon their life-long devotion to 'Athens' or to 'Freedom' because the world considered such ideals out of date. They could look the ruined Athenians in the face, after the lost battle, and say with Demosthenes, 'Ouk estin, ouk estin hopos hemartete. It cannot be that you did wrong, it cannot be!'[82:1]

But in practical politics the currents of thought are inevitably limited. It is in philosophy and speculation that we find the richest and most varied reaction to the Great Failure. It takes different shapes in those writers, like Plato and Xenophon, who were educated in the fifth century and had once believed in the Great City, and those whose whole thinking life belonged to the time of disillusion.

Plato was disgusted with democracy and with Athens, but he retained his faith in the city, if only the city could be set on the right road. There can be little doubt that he attributes to the bad government of the Demos many evils which were really due to extraneous causes or to the mere fallibility of human nature. Still his analysis of democracy is one of the most brilliant things in the history of political theory. It is so acute, so humorous, so affectionate; and at many different ages of the world has seemed like a portrait of the actual contemporary society. Like a modern popular newspaper, Plato's democracy makes it its business to satisfy existing desires and give people a 'good time'. It does not distinguish between higher and lower. Any one man is as good as another, and so is any impulse or any idea. Consequently the commoner have the pull. Even the great democratic statesmen of the past, he now sees, have been ministers to mob desires; they have 'filled the city with harbours and docks and walls and revenues and such-like trash, without Sophrosyne and righteousness'. The sage or saint has no place in practical politics. He would be like a man in a den of wild beasts. Let him and his like seek shelter as best they can, standing up behind some wall while the storm of dust and sleet rages past. The world does not want truth, which is all that he could give it. It goes by appearances and judges its great men with their clothes on and their rich relations round them. After death, the judges will judge them naked, and alone; and then we shall see![83:1]

Yet, in spite of all this, the child of the fifth century cannot keep his mind from politics. The speculations which would be scouted by the mass in the marketplace can still be discussed with intimate friends and disciples, or written in books for the wise to read. Plato's two longest works are attempts to construct an ideal society; first, what may be called a City of Righteousness, in the Republic; and afterwards in his old age, in the Laws, something more like a City of Refuge, uncontaminated by the world; a little city on a hill-top away in Crete, remote from commerce and riches and the 'bitter and corrupting sea' which carries them; a city where life shall move in music and discipline and reverence for the things that are greater than man, and the songs men sing shall be not common songs but the preambles of the city's laws, showing their purpose and their principle; where no wall will be needed to keep out the possible enemy, because the courage and temperance of the citizens will be wall enough, and if war comes the women equally with the men 'will fight for their young, as birds do'.

This hope is very like despair; but, such as it is, Plato's thought is always directed towards the city. No other form of social life ever tempts him away, and he anticipates no insuperable difficulty in keeping the city in the right path if once he can get it started right. The first step, the necessary revolution, is what makes the difficulty. And he sees only one way. In real life he had supported the conspiracy of the extreme oligarchs in 404 which led to the rule of the 'Thirty Tyrants'; but the experience sickened him of such methods. There was no hope unless, by some lucky combination, a philosopher should become a king or some young king turn philosopher. 'Give me a city governed by a tyrant,' he says in the Laws,[84:1] 'and let the tyrant be young, with a good memory, quick at learning, of high courage, and a generous nature. . . . And besides, let him have a wise counsellor!' Ironical fortune granted him an opportunity to try the experiment himself at the court of Syracuse, first with the elder and then, twenty years later, with the younger Dionysius (387 and 367 B. C.). It is a story of disappointment, of course; bitter, humiliating and ludicrous disappointment, but with a touch of that sublimity which seems so often to hang about the errors of the wise. One can study them in Seneca at the court of Nero, or in Turgot with Louis; not so well perhaps in Voltaire with Frederick. Plato failed in his enterprise, but he did keep faith with the 'Righteous City'.

Another of the Socratic circle turned in a different direction. Xenophon, an exile from his country, a brilliant soldier and adventurer as well as a man of letters, is perhaps the first Greek on record who openly lost interest in the city. He thought less about cities and constitutions than about great men and nations, or generals and armies. To him it was idle to spin cobweb formations of ideal laws and communities. Society is right enough if you have a really fine man to lead it. It may be that his ideal was formed in childhood by stories of Pericles and the great age when Athens was 'in name a democracy but in truth an empire of one leading man'. He gave form to his dream in the Education of Cyrus, an imaginary account of the training which formed Cyrus the Great into an ideal king and soldier. The Cyropaedeia is said to have been intended as a counterblast to Plato's Republic, and it may have provoked Plato's casual remark in the Laws that 'Cyrus never so much as touched education'. No doubt the book suffered in persuasiveness from being so obviously fictitious.[85:1] For example, the Cyrus of Xenophon dies peacefully in his bed after much affectionate and edifying advice to his family, whereas all Athens knew from Herodotus how the real Cyrus had been killed in a war against the Massagetae, and his head, to slake its thirst for that liquid, plunged into a wineskin full of human blood. Perhaps also the monarchical rule of Cyrus was too absolute for Greek taste. At any rate, later on Xenophon adopted a more real hero, whom he had personally known and admired.

Agesilaus, king of Sparta, had been taken as a type of 'virtue' even by the bitter historian Theopompus. Agesilaus was not only a great general. He knew how to 'honour the gods, do his duty in the field, and to practise obedience'. He was true to friend and foe. On one memorable occasion he kept his word even to an enemy who had broken his. He enjoined kindness to enemy captives. When he found small children left behind by the barbarians in some town that he occupied—because either their parents or the slave-merchants had no room for them—he always took care of them or gave them to guardians of their own race: 'he never let the dogs and wolves get them'. On the other hand, when he sold his barbarian prisoners he sent them to market naked, regardless of their modesty, because it cheered his own soldiers to see how white and fat they were. He wept when he won a victory over Greeks; 'for he loved all Greeks and only hated barbarians'. When he returned home after his successful campaigns, he obeyed the orders of the ephors without question; his house and furniture were as simple as those of a common man, and his daughter the princess, when she went to and fro to Amyclae, went simply in the public omnibus. He reared chargers and hunting dogs; the rearing of chariot horses he thought effeminate. But he advised his sister Cynisca about hers, and she won the chariot race at Olympia. 'Have a king like that', says Xenophon, 'and all will be well. He will govern right; he will beat your enemies; and he will set an example of good life. If you want Virtue in the state look for it in a good man, not in a speculative tangle of laws. The Spartan constitution, as it stands, is good enough for any one.'

But it was another of the great Socratics who uttered first the characteristic message of the fourth century, and met the blows of Fortune with a direct challenge. Antisthenes was a man twenty years older than Plato. He had fought at Tanagra in 426 B. C. He had been friends with Gorgias and Prodicus, the great Sophists of the Periclean age. He seems to have been, at any rate till younger and more brilliant men cut him out, the recognized philosophic heir of Socrates.[87:1] And late in life, after the fall of Athens and the condemnation and death of his master, the man underwent a curious change of heart. He is taunted more than once with the lateness of his discovery of truth,[87:2] and with his childish subservience to the old jeux d'esprit of the Sceptics which professed to prove the impossibility of knowledge.[87:3] It seems that he had lost faith in speculation and dialectic and the elaborate superstructures which Plato and others had built upon them; and he felt, like many moralists after him, a sort of hostility to all knowledge that was not immediately convertible into conduct.

But this scepticism was only part of a general disbelief in the world. Greek philosophy had from the first been concerned with a fundamental question which we moderns seldom put clearly to ourselves. It asked 'What is the Good?' meaning thereby 'What is the element of value in life?' or 'What should be our chief aim in living?' A medieval Christian would have answered without hesitation 'To go to Heaven and not be damned', and would have been prepared with the necessary prescriptions for attaining that end. But the modern world is not intensely enough convinced of the reality of Sin and Judgement, Hell and Heaven, to accept this answer as an authoritative guide in life, and has not clearly thought out any other. The ancient Greek spent a great part of his philosophical activity in trying, without propounding supernatural rewards and punishments, or at least without laying stress on them, to think out what the Good of man really was.

The answers given by mankind to this question seem to fall under two main heads. Before a battle if both parties were asked what aim they were pursuing, both would say without hesitation 'Victory'. After the battle, the conqueror would probably say that his purpose was in some way to consolidate or extend his victory; but the beaten party, as soon as he had time to think, would perhaps explain that, after all, victory was not everything. It was better to have fought for the right, to have done your best and to have failed, than to revel in the prosperity of the unjust. And, since it is difficult to maintain, in the midst of the triumph of the enemy and your own obvious misery and humiliation, that all is well and you yourself thoroughly contented, this second answer easily develops a third: 'Wait a little, till God's judgement asserts itself; and see who has the best of it then!' There will be a rich reward hereafter for the suffering virtuous.

The typical Athenian of the Periclean age would have been in the first state of mind. His 'good' would be in the nature of success: to spread Justice and Freedom, to make Athens happy and strong and her laws wise and equal for rich and poor. Antisthenes had fallen violently into the second. He was defeated together with all that he most cared for, and he comforted himself with the thought that nothing matters except to have done your best. As he phrased it Arete is the good, Arete meaning 'virtue' or 'goodness', the quality of a good citizen, a good father, a good dog, a good sword.

The things of the world are vanity, and philosophy as vain as the rest. Nothing but goodness is good; and the first step towards attaining it is to repent.

There was in Athens a gymnasium built for those who were base-born and could not attend the gymnasia of true citizens. It was called Kynosarges and was dedicated to the great bastard, Heracles. Antisthenes, though he had moved hitherto in the somewhat patrician circle of the Socratics, remembered how that his mother was a Thracian slave, and set up his school in Kynosarges among the disinherited of the earth. He made friends with the 'bad,' who needed befriending. He dressed like the poorest workman. He would accept no disciples except those who could bear hardship, and was apt to drive new-comers away with his stick. Yet he also preached in the streets, both in Athens and Corinth. He preached rhetorically, with parables and vivid emotional phrases, compelling the attention of the crowd. His eloquence was held to be bad style, and it started the form of literature known to the Cynics as chreia, 'a help', or diatribe, 'a study', and by the Christians as homilia, a 'homily' or sermon.

This passionate and ascetic old man would have attracted the interest of the world even more, had it not been for one of his disciples. This was a young man from Sinope, on the Euxine, whom he did not take to at first sight; the son of a disreputable money-changer who had been sent to prison for defacing the coinage. Antisthenes ordered the lad away, but he paid no attention; he beat him with his stick, but he never moved. He wanted 'wisdom', and saw that Antisthenes had it to give. His aim in life was to do as his father had done, to 'deface the coinage', but on a much larger scale. He would deface all the coinage current in the world. Every conventional stamp was false. The men stamped as generals and kings; the things stamped as honour and wisdom and happiness and riches; all were base metal with lying superscriptions. All must have the stamp defaced.[90:1]

This young man was Diogenes, afterwards the most famous of all the Cynics. He started by rejecting all stamps and superscriptions and holding that nothing but Arete, 'worth' or 'goodness', was good. He rejected tradition. He rejected the current religion and the rules and customs of temple worship. True religion was a thing of the spirit, and needed no forms. He despised divination. He rejected civil life and marriage. He mocked at the general interest in the public games and the respect paid to birth, wealth, or reputation. Let man put aside these delusions and know himself. And for his defences let him arm himself 'against Fortune with courage, against Convention with Nature, against passion with Reason'. For Reason is 'the god within us'.

The salvation for man was to return to Nature, and Diogenes interpreted this return in the simplest and crudest way. He should live like the beasts, like primeval men, like barbarians. Were not the beasts blessed, rheia zoontes like the Gods in Homer? And so, though in less perfection, were primitive men, not vexing their hearts with imaginary sins and conventions. Travellers told of savages who married their sisters, or ate human flesh, or left their dead unburied. Why should they not, if they wished to? No wonder Zeus punished Prometheus the Fire-Bringer, who had brought all this progress upon us and left man civilized and more unhappy than any beast! He deserved his crag and his vulture!

Diogenes took his mission with great earnestness. He was leader in a 'great battle against Pleasures and Desires'. He was 'the servant, the message-bearer, sent by Zeus', 'the Setter-Free of mankind' and the 'Healer of passions'.

The life that he personally meant to live, and which he recommended to the wise, was what he called ton kynikon bion, 'a dog's life', and he himself wished to be a 'cynic' or 'canine'. A dog was brave and faithful; it had no bodily shame, no false theories, and few wants. A dog needed no clothes, no house, no city, no possessions, no titles; what he did need was 'virtue', Arete, to catch his prey, to fight wild beasts, and to defend his master; and that he could provide for himself. Diogenes found, of course, that he needed a little more than an ordinary dog; a blanket, a wallet or bowl to hold his food, and a staff a 'to beat off dogs and bad men'. It was the regular uniform of a beggar. He asked for no house. There was a huge earthen pitcher—not a tub—outside the Temple of the Great Mother; the sort of vessel that was used for burial in primitive Greece and which still had about it the associations of a coffin. Diogenes slept there when he wanted shelter, and it became the nearest approach to a home that he had. Like a dog he performed any bodily act without shame, when and where he chose. He obeyed no human laws because he recognized no city. He was Cosmopolites, Citizen of the Universe; all men, and all beasts too, were his brothers. He lived preaching in the streets and begging his bread; except that he did not 'beg', he 'commanded'. Other folk obeyed his commands because they were still slaves, while he 'had never been a slave again since Antisthenes set him free'. He had no fear, because there was nothing to take from him. Only slaves are afraid.

Greece rang with stories of his mordant wit, and every bitter saying became fathered on Diogenes. Every one knew how Alexander the Great had come to see the famous beggar and, standing before him where he sat in the open air, had asked if there was any boon he could confer on him. 'Yes, move from between me and the sun.' They knew the king's saying, 'If I were not Alexander I would be Diogenes', and the polite answer 'If I were not Diogenes I would be Alexander'. The Master of the World and the Rejector of the World met on an equality. People told too how the Cynic walked about with a lamp in the daytime searching, so he said, 'for a man'. They knew his scorn of the Mysteries with their doctrine of exclusive salvation; was a thief to be in bliss because he was initiated, while Agesilaus and Epaminondas were in outer darkness? A few of the stories are more whimsical. A workman carrying a pole accidentally hit Diogenes and cried 'Look out!' 'Why,' said he, 'are you going to hit me again?'

He had rejected patriotism as he rejected culture. Yet he suffered as he saw Greece under the Macedonians and Greek liberties disappearing. When his death was approaching some disciple asked his wishes about his burial; 'Let the dogs and wolves have me,' he said; 'I should like to be of some use to my brothers when I die.' When this request was refused his thoughts turned again to the Macedonian Wars; 'Bury me face downwards; everything is soon going to be turned the other way up.'

He remains the permanent and unsurpassed type of one way of grappling with the horror of life. Fear nothing, desire nothing, possess nothing: and then Life with all its ingenuity of malice cannot disappoint you. If man cannot enter into life nor yet depart from it save through agony and filth, let him learn to endure the one and be indifferent to the other. The watchdog of Zeus on earth has to fulfil his special duty, to warn mankind of the truth and to set slaves free. Nothing else matters.

The criticism of this solution is not that it is selfish. It is not. The Cynic lives for the salvation of his fellow creatures. And it is worth remembering that before the Roman gladiatorial games were eventually stopped by the self-immolation of the monk Telemachus, two Cynic philosophers had thrown themselves into the arena in the same spirit. Its weakness lies in a false psychology, common to all the world at that time, which imagined that salvation or freedom consists in living utterly without desire or fear, that such a life is biologically possible, and that Diogenes lived it. To a subtler critic it is obvious that Diogenes was a man of very strong and successful ambitions, though his ambitions were different from those of most men. He solved the problem of his own life by following with all the force and courage of his genius a line of conduct which made him, next to Alexander, the most famous man in Greece. To be really without fear or desire would mean death, and to die is not to solve the riddle of living.

The difference between the Cynic view of life and that of Plato's Republic is interesting. Plato also rejected the most fundamental conventions of existing society, the accepted methods of government, the laws of property and of marriage, the traditional religion and even the poetry which was a second religion to the Greeks. But he rejected the existing culture only because he wanted it to be better. He condemned the concrete existing city in order to build a more perfect city, to proceed in infinite searching and longing towards the Idea of Good, the Sun of the spiritual universe. Diogenes rejected the civilization which he saw, and admitted the reality of no other. His crude realistic attitude of mind had no use for Plato's 'Ideas'. 'I can see a table,' he said; 'I cannot see Tabularity' (trapezotes). 'I know Athens and Corinth and other cities, and can see that they are all bad. As for the Ideal Society, show it me and I will say what I think.'

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