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Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book IV. by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

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War between Megara and Corinth.--Megara and Pegae garrisoned by
Athenians.--Review of Affairs at the Persian Court.--Accession of
Artaxerxes.--Revolt of Egypt under Inarus.--Athenian Expedition to
assist Inarus.--Aegina besieged.--The Corinthians defeated.--Spartan
Conspiracy with the Athenian Oligarchy.--Battle of Tanagra.--Campaign
and Successes of Myronides.--Plot of the Oligarchy against the
Republic.--Recall of Cimon.--Long Walls completed.--Aegina reduced.--
Expedition under Tolmides.--Ithome surrenders.--The Insurgents are
settled at Naupactus.--Disastrous Termination of the Egyptian
Expedition.--The Athenians march into Thessaly to restore Orestes the
Tagus.--Campaign under Pericles.--Truce of five Years with the
Peloponnesians.--Cimon sets sail for Cyprus.--Pretended Treaty of
Peace with Persia.--Death of Cimon.

I. Cimon, summoned to the ostracism, was sentenced to its appointed
term of banishment--ten years. By his removal, the situation of
Pericles became suddenly more prominent and marked, and he mingled
with greater confidence and boldness in public affairs. The vigour of
the new administration was soon manifest. Megara had hitherto been
faithful to the Lacedaemonian alliance--a dispute relative to the
settlement of frontiers broke out between that state and Corinth.
Although the Corinthian government, liberal and enlightened, was often
opposed to the Spartan oligarchy, it was still essential to the
interest of both those Peloponnesian states to maintain a firm general
alliance, and to keep the Peloponnesian confederacy as a
counterbalance to the restless ambition of the new head of the Ionian
league. Sparta could not, therefore, have been slow in preferring the
alliance of Corinth to that of Megara. On the other hand, Megara, now
possessed of a democratic constitution, had long since abandoned the
Dorian character and habits. The situation of its territories, the
nature of its institutions, alike pointed to Athens as its legitimate
ally. Thus, when the war broke out between Megara and Corinth, on the
side of the latter appeared Sparta, while Megara naturally sought the
assistance of Athens. The Athenian government eagerly availed itself
of the occasion to increase the power which Athens was now rapidly
extending over Greece. If we cast our eyes along the map of Greece,
we shall perceive that the occupation of Megara proffered peculiar
advantages. It became at once a strong and formidable fortress
against any incursions from the Peloponnesus, while its seaports of
Nisaea and Pegae opened new fields, both of ambition and of commerce,
alike on the Saronic and the Gulf of Corinth. The Athenians seized
willingly on the alliance thus offered to them, and the Megarians had
the weakness to yield both Megara and Pegae to Athenian garrisons,
while the Athenians fortified their position by long walls that united
Megara with its harbour at Nisaea.

II. A new and more vast enterprise contributed towards the stability
of the government by draining off its bolder spirits, and diverting
the popular attention from domestic to foreign affairs.

It is necessary to pass before us, in brief review, the vicissitudes
of the Persian court. In republican Greece, the history of the people
marches side by side with the biography of great men. In despotic
Persia, all history dies away in the dark recesses and sanguinary
murthers of a palace governed by eunuchs and defended but by slaves.

In the year 465 B. C. the reign of the unfortunate Xerxes drew to its
close. On his return to Susa, after the disastrous results of the
Persian invasion, he had surrendered himself to the indolent luxury of
a palace. An able and daring traitor, named Artabanus [187], but who
seems to have been a different personage from that Artabanus whose
sagacity had vainly sought to save the armies of Xerxes from the
expedition to Greece, entered into a conspiracy against the feeble
monarch. By the connivance of a eunuch, he penetrated at night the
chamber of the king--and the gloomy destinies of Xerxes were
consummated by assassination. Artabanus sought to throw the guilt
upon Darius, the eldest son of the murdered king; and Artaxerxes, the
younger brother, seems to have connived at a charge which might render
himself the lawful heir to the throne. Darius accordingly perished by
the same fate as his father. The extreme youth of Artaxerxes had
induced Artabanus to believe that but a slender and insecure life now
stood between himself and the throne; but the young prince was already
master of the royal art of dissimulation: he watched his opportunity--
and by a counter-revolution Artabanus was sacrificed to the manes of
his victims. [188]

Thus Artaxerxes obtained the undisturbed possession of the Persian
throne (B. C. 464). The new monarch appears to have derived from
nature a stronger intellect than his father. But the abuses, so rapid
and rank of growth in Eastern despotisms, which now ate away the
strength of the Persian monarchy, were already, perhaps, past the
possibility of reform. The enormous extent of the ill-regulated
empire tempted the ambition of chiefs who might have plausibly hoped,
that as the Persian masters had now degenerated to the effeminacy of
the Assyrians they had supplanted, so the enterprise of a second Cyrus
might be crowned by a similar success.

Egypt had been rather overrun by Xerxes than subdued--and the spirit
of its ancient people waited only the occasion of revolt. A Libyan
prince, of the name of Inarus, whose territories bordered Egypt,
entered that country (B. C. 460), and was hailed by the greater part
of the population as a deliverer. The recent murder of Xerxes--the
weakness of a new reign, commenced in so sanguinary a manner, appeared
to favour their desire of independence; and the African adventurer
beheld himself at the head of a considerable force. Having already
secured foreign subsidiaries, Inarus was anxious yet more to
strengthen himself abroad; and more than one ambassador was despatched
to Athens, soliciting her assistance, and proffering, in return, a
share in the government for whose establishment her arms were
solicited: a singular fatality, that the petty colony which, if we
believe tradition, had so many centuries ago settled in the then
obscure corners of Attica, should now be chosen the main auxiliary of
the parent state in her vital struggles for national independence.

III. In acceding to the propositions of Inarus, Pericles yielded to
considerations wholly contrary to his after policy, which made it a
principal object to confine the energies of Athens within the limits
of Greece. It is probable that that penetrating and scientific
statesman (if indeed he had yet attained to a position which enabled
him to follow out his own conceptions) saw that every new government
must dazzle either by great enterprises abroad or great changes at
home--and that he preferred the former. There are few sacrifices that
a wary minister, newly-established, from whom high hopes are
entertained, and who can justify the destruction of a rival party only
by the splendour of its successor--will not hazard rather than incur
the contempt which follows disappointment. He will do something that
is dangerous rather than do nothing that is brilliant.

Neither the hatred nor the fear of Persia was at an end in Athens; and
to carry war into the heart of her empire was a proposition eagerly
hailed. The more democratic and turbulent portion of the populace,
viz., the seamen, had already been disposed of in an expedition of two
hundred triremes against Cyprus. But the distant and magnificent
enterprise of Egypt--the hope of new empire--the lust of undiscovered
treasures--were more alluring than the reduction of Cyprus. That
island was abandoned, and the fleet, composed both of Athenian and
confederate ships, sailed up the Nile. Masters of that river, the
Athenians advanced to Memphis, the capital of Lower Egypt. They
stormed and took two of the divisions of that city; the third, called
the White Castle (occupied by the Medes, the Persians, and such of the
Egyptians as had not joined the revolt), resisted their assault.

IV. While thus occupied in Egypt, the Athenian arms were equally
employed in Greece. The whole forces of the commonwealth were in
demand--war on every side. The alliance with Megara not only created
an enemy in Corinth, but the Peloponnesian confederacy became involved
with the Attic: Lacedaemon herself, yet inert, but menacing; while the
neighbouring Aegina, intent and jealous, prepared for hostilities soon

The Athenians forestalled the attack--made a descent on Haliae, in
Argolis--were met by the Corinthians and Epidaurians, and the result
of battle was the victory of the latter. This defeat the Athenians
speedily retrieved at sea. Off Cecryphalea, in the Saronic gulf, they
attacked and utterly routed the Peloponnesian fleet. And now Aegina
openly declared war and joined the hostile league. An important
battle was fought by these two maritime powers with the confederates
of either side. The Athenians were victorious--took seventy ships--
and, pushing the advantage they had obtained, landed in Aegina and
besieged her city. Three hundred heavy-armed Peloponnesians were
despatched to the relief of Aegina; while the Corinthians invaded the
Megarian territory, seized the passes of Geranea, and advanced to
Megara with their allies. Never was occasion more propitious. So
large a force in Egypt, so large a force at Aegina--how was it
possible for the Athenians to march to the aid of Megara? They
appeared limited to the choice either to abandon Megara or to raise
the siege of Aegina: so reasoned the Peloponnesians. But the
advantage of a constitution widely popular is, that the whole
community become soldiers in time of need. Myronides, an Athenian of
great military genius, not unassisted by Pericles, whose splendid
qualities now daily developed themselves, was well adapted to give
direction to the enthusiasm of the people. Not a man was called from
Aegina. The whole regular force disposed of, there yet remained at
Athens those too aged and those too young for the ordinary service.
Under Myronides, boys and old men marched at once to the assistance of
their Megarian ally. A battle ensued; both sides retiring, neither
considered itself defeated. But the Corinthians retreating to
Corinth, the Athenians erected a trophy on the field. The Corinthian
government received its troops with reproaches, and, after an interval
of twelve days, the latter returned to the scene of contest, and
asserting their claim to the victory, erected a trophy of their own.
During the work the Athenians sallied from Megara, where they had
ensconced themselves, attacked and put to flight the Corinthians; and
a considerable portion of the enemy turning into ground belonging to a
private individual, became entangled in a large pit or ditch, from
which was but one outlet, viz., that by which they had entered. At
this passage the Athenians stationed their heavy-armed troops, while
the light-armed soldiers surrounded the ditch, and with the missiles
of darts and stones put the enemy to death. The rest (being the
greater part) of the Corinthian forces effected a safe but
dishonourable retreat.

V. This victory effected and Megara secured--although Aegina still
held out, and although the fate of the Egyptian expedition was still
unknown--the wonderful activity of the government commenced what even
in times of tranquillity would have been a great and arduous
achievement. To unite their city with its seaports, they set to work
at the erection of the long walls, which extended from Athens both to
Phalerus and Piraeus. Under Cimon, preparations already had been made
for the undertaking, and the spoils of Persia now provided the means
for the defence of Athens.

Meanwhile, the Spartans still continued at the siege of Ithome. We
must not imagine that all the helots had joined in the revolt. This,
indeed, would be almost to suppose the utter disorganization of the
Spartan state. The most luxurious subjects of a despotism were never
more utterly impotent in procuring for themselves the necessaries of
life, than were the hardy and abstemious freemen of the Dorian Sparta.
It was dishonour for a Spartan to till the land--to exercise a trade.
He had all the prejudices against any calling but that of arms which
characterized a noble of the middle ages.

As is ever the case in the rebellion of slaves, the rise was not
universal; a sufficient number of these wretched dependants remained
passive and inert to satisfy the ordinary wants of their masters, and
to assist in the rebuilding of the town. Still the Spartans were
greatly enfeebled, crippled, and embarrassed by the loss of the rest:
and the siege of Ithome sufficed to absorb their attention, and to
make them regard without open hostilities, if with secret enmity, the
operations of the Athenians. The Spartan alliance formally dissolved
--Megara, with its command of the Peloponnesus seized--the Doric city
of Corinth humbled and defeated--Aegina blockaded; all these--the
Athenian proceedings--the Spartans bore without any formal declaration
of war.

VI. And now, in the eighth year of the Messenian war, piety succeeded
where pride and revenge had failed, and the Spartans permitted other
objects to divide their attention with the siege of Ithome. It was
one of the finest characteristics of that singular people, their
veneration for antiquity. For the little, rocky, and obscure
territory of Doris, whence tradition derived their origin, they felt
the affection and reverence of sons. A quarrel arising between the
people of this state and the neighbouring Phocians, the latter invaded
Doris, and captured one of its three towns [189]. The Lacedaemonians
marched at once to the assistance of their reputed father-land, with
an army of no less than fifteen hundred heavy-armed Spartans and ten
thousand of their Peloponnesian allies [190], under the command of
Nicomedes, son of Cleombrotus, and guardian of their king Pleistoanax,
still a minor. They forced the Phocians to abandon the town they had
taken; and having effectually protected Doris by a treaty of peace
between the two nations, prepared to return home. But in this they
were much perplexed; the pass of Geranea was now occupied by the
Athenians: Megara, too, and Pegae were in their hands. Should they
pass by sea through the Gulf of Crissa, an Athenian squadron already
occupied that passage. Either way they were intercepted [191]. Under
all circumstances, they resolved to halt a while in Boeotia, and watch
an opportunity to effect their return. But with these ostensible
motives for that sojourn assigned by Thucydides, there was another
more deep and latent. We have had constant occasion to remark how
singularly it was the Spartan policy to plot against the constitution
of free states, and how well-founded was the Athenian jealousy of the
secret interference of the Grecian Venice.

Halting now in Boeotia, Nicomedes entered into a clandestine
communication with certain of the oligarchic party in Athens, the
object of the latter being the overthrow of the existent popular
constitution. With this object was certainly linked the recall of
Cimon, though there is no reason to believe that great general a party
in the treason. This conspiracy was one main reason of the halt in
Boeotia. Another was, probably, the conception of a great and politic
design, glanced at only by historians, but which, if successful, would
have ranked among the masterpieces of Spartan statesmanship. This
design was--while Athens was to be weakened by internal divisions, and
her national spirit effectually curbed by the creation of an
oligarchy, the tool of Sparta--to erect a new rival to Athens in the
Boeotian Thebes. It is true that this project was not, according to
Diodorus, openly apparent until after the battle of Tanagra. But such
a scheme required preparation; and the sojourn of Nicomedes in Boeotia
afforded him the occasion to foresee its possibility and prepare his
plans. Since the Persian invasion, Thebes had lost her importance,
not only throughout Greece, but throughout Boeotia, her dependant
territory. Many of the states refused to regard her as their capital,
and the Theban government desired to regain its power. Promises to
make war upon Athens rendered the Theban power auxiliary to Sparta:
the more Thebes was strengthened, the more Athens was endangered: and
Sparta, ever averse to quitting the Peloponnesus, would thus erect a
barrier to the Athenian arms on the very frontiers of Attica.

VII. While such were the designs and schemes of Nicomedes, the
conspiracy of the aristocratic party could not be so secret in Athens
but what some rumour, some suspicion, broke abroad. The people became
alarmed and incensed. They resolved to anticipate the war; and,
judging Nicomedes cut off from retreat, and embarrassed and confined
in his position, they marched against him with a thousand Argives,
with a band of Thessalian horse, and some other allied troops drawn
principally from Ionia, which, united to the whole force of the armed
population within their walls, amounted, in all, to fourteen thousand

VIII. It is recorded by Plutarch, that during their march Cimon
appeared, and sought permission to join the army. This was refused by
the senate of Five Hundred, to whom the petition was referred, not
from any injurious suspicion of Cimon, but from a natural fear that
his presence, instead of inspiring confidence, would create confusion;
and that it might be plausibly represented that he sought less to
resist the Spartans than to introduce them into Athens--a proof how
strong was the impression against him, and how extensive had been the
Spartan intrigues. Cimon retired, beseeching his friends to vindicate
themselves from the aspersions cast upon them. Placing the armour of
Cimon--a species of holy standard--in their ranks, a hundred of the
warmest supporters among his tribe advanced to battle conscious of the
trust committed to their charge.

IX. In the territory of Tanagra a severe engagement took place. On
that day Pericles himself fought in the thickest part of the battle
(B. C. 457); exposing himself to every danger, as if anxious that the
loss of Cimon should not be missed. The battle was long, obstinate,
and even: when in the midst of it, the Thessalian cavalry suddenly
deserted to the Spartans. Despite this treachery, the Athenians, well
supported by the Argives, long maintained their ground with advantage.
But when night separated the armies [192], victory remained with the
Spartans and their allies. [193]

The Athenians were not, however, much disheartened by defeat, nor did
the Spartans profit by their advantage. Anxious only for escape,
Nicomedes conducted his forces homeward, passed through Megara,
destroying the fruit-trees on his march; and, gaining the pass of
Geranea, which the Athenians had deserted to join the camp at Tanagra,
arrived at Lacedaemon.

Meanwhile the Thebans took advantage of the victory to extend their
authority, agreeably to the project conceived with Sparta. Thebes now
attempted the reduction of all the cities of Boeotia. Some submitted,
others opposed.

X. Aware of the necessity of immediate measures against a neighbour,
brave, persevering, and ambitious, the Athenian government lost no
time in recruiting its broken forces. Under Myronides, an army,
collected from the allies and dependant states, was convened to
assemble upon a certain day. Many failed the appointment, and the
general was urged to delay his march till their arrival. "It is not
the part of a general," said Myronides, sternly, "to await the
pleasure of his soldiers! By delay I read an omen of the desire of
the loiterers to avoid the enemy. Better rely upon a few faithful
than on many disaffected."

With a force comparatively small, Myronides commenced his march,
entered Boeotia sixty-two days only after the battle of Tanagra, and,
engaging the Boeotians at Oenophyta, obtained a complete and splendid
victory (B. C. 456). This battle, though Diodorus could find no
details of the action, was reckoned by Athens among the most glorious
she had ever achieved; preferred by the vain Greeks even to those of
Marathon and Plataea, inasmuch as Greek was opposed to Greek, and not
to the barbarians. Those who fell on the Athenian side were first
honoured by public burial in the Ceramichus--"As men," says Plato,
"who fought against Grecians for the liberties of Greece." Myronides
followed up his victory by levelling the walls of Tanagra. All
Boeotia, except Thebes herself, was brought into the Athenian
alliance--as democracies in the different towns, replacing the
oligarchical governments, gave the moral blow to the Spartan
ascendency. Thus, in effect, the consequences of the battle almost
deserved the eulogies bestowed upon the victory. Those consequences
were to revolutionize nearly all the states in Boeotia; and, by
calling up a democracy in each state, Athens at once changed enemies
into allies.

From Boeotia, Myronides marched to Phocis, and, pursuing the same
policy, rooted out the oligarchies, and established popular
governments. The Locrians of Opus gave a hundred of their wealthiest
citizens as hostages. Returned to Athens, Myronides was received with
public rejoicings [194], and thus closed a short but brilliant
campaign, which had not only conquered enemies, but had established
everywhere garrisons of friends.

XI. Although the banishment of Cimon had appeared to complete the
triumph of the popular party in Athens, his opinions were not banished
also. Athens, like all free states, was ever agitated by the feud of
parties, at once its danger and its strength. Parties in Athens were,
however, utterly unlike many of those that rent the peace of the
Italian republics; nor are they rightly understood in the vague
declamations of Barthelemi or Mitford; they were not only parties of
names and men--they were also parties of principles--the parties of
restriction and of advance. And thus the triumph of either was
invariably followed by the triumph of the principle it espoused.
Nobler than the bloody contests of mere faction, we do not see in
Athens the long and sweeping proscriptions, the atrocious massacres
that attended the party-strifes of ancient Rome or of modern Italy.
The ostracism, or the fine, of some obnoxious and eminent partisans,
usually contented the wrath of the victorious politicians. And in the
advance of a cause the people found the main vent for their passions.
I trust, however, that I shall not be accused of prejudice when I
state as a fact, that the popular party in Athens seems to have been
much more moderate and less unprincipled even in its excesses than its
antagonists. We never see it, like the Pisistratidae, leagued with
the Persian, nor with Isagoras, betraying Athens to the Spartan. What
the oligarchic faction did when triumphant, we see hereafter in the
establishment of the Thirty Tyrants. And compared with their
offences, the ostracism of Aristides, or the fine and banishment of
Cimon, lose all their colours of wrong.

XII. The discontented advocates for an oligarchy, who had intrigued
with Nicomedes, had been foiled in their object, partly by the conduct
of Cimon in disavowing all connexion with them, partly by the retreat
of Nicomedes himself. Still their spirit was too fierce to suffer
them to forego their schemes without a struggle, and after the battle
of Tanagra they broke out into open conspiracy against the republic.

The details of this treason are lost to us; it is one of the darkest
passages of Athenian history. From scattered and solitary references
we can learn, however, that for a time it threatened the democracy
with ruin. [195]

The victory of the Spartans at Tanagra gave strength to the Spartan
party in Athens; it also inspired with fear many of the people; it was
evidently desirable rather to effect a peace with Sparta than to
hazard a war. Who so likely to effect that peace as the banished
Cimon? Now was the time to press for his recall. Either at this
period, or shortly afterward, Ephialtes, his most vehement enemy, was
barbarously murdered--according to Aristotle, a victim to the hatred
of the nobles.

XIII. Pericles had always conducted his opposition to Cimon with
great dexterity and art; and indeed the aristocratic leaders of
contending parties are rarely so hostile to each other as their
subordinate followers suppose. In the present strife for the recall
of his rival, amid all the intrigues and conspiracies, the open
violence and the secret machination, which threatened not only the
duration of the government, but the very existence of the republic,
Pericles met the danger by proposing himself the repeal of Cimon's

Plutarch, with a childish sentimentality common to him when he means
to be singularly effective, bursts into an exclamation upon the
generosity of this step, and the candour and moderation of those
times, when resentments could be so easily laid aside. But the
profound and passionless mind of Pericles was above all the weakness
of a melodramatic generosity. And it cannot be doubted that this
measure was a compromise between the government and the more moderate
and virtuous of the aristocratic party. Perhaps it was the most
advantageous compromise Pericles was enabled to effect; for by
concession with respect to individuals, we can often prevent
concession as to things. The recall [196] of the great leader of the
anti-popular faction may have been deemed equivalent to the surrender
of many popular rights. And had we a deeper insight into the
intrigues of that day and the details of the oligarchic conspiracy, I
suspect we should find that, by recalling Cimon, Pericles saved the
constitution. [197]

XIV. The first and most popular benefit anticipated from the recall
of the son of Miltiades in a reconciliation between Sparta and Athens,
was not immediately realized further than by an armistice of four
months. [198]

About this time the long walls of the Piraeus were completed (B. C.
455), and shortly afterward Aegina yielded to the arms of the
Athenians (B. C. 455), upon terms which subjected the citizens of that
gallant and adventurous isle (whose achievements and commerce seem no
less a miracle than the greatness of Athens when we survey the limits
of their narrow and rocky domain) to the rival they had long so
fearlessly, nor fruitlessly braved. The Aeginetans surrendered their
shipping, demolished their walls, and consented to the payment of an
annual tribute. And so was fulfilled the proverbial command of
Pericles, that Aegina ought not to remain the eyesore of Athens.

XV. Aegina reduced, the Athenian fleet of fifty galleys, manned by
four thousand men [199], under the command of Tolmides,
circumnavigated the Peloponnesus--the armistice of four months had
expired--and, landing in Laconia, Tolmides burnt Gythium, a dock of
the Lacedaemonians; took Chalcis, a town belonging to Corinth, and,
debarking at Sicyon, engaged and defeated the Sicyonians. Thence
proceeding to Cephallenia, he mastered the cities of that isle; and
descending at Naupactus, on the Corinthian gulf, wrested it from the
Ozolian Locrians.

In the same year with this expedition, and in the tenth year of the
siege (B. C. 455), Ithome surrendered to Lacedaemon. The long and
gallant resistance of that town, the precipitous site of which nature
herself had fortified, is one of the most memorable and glorious
events in the Grecian history; and we cannot but regret that the
imperfect morality of those days, which saw glory in the valour of
freemen, rebellion only in that of slaves, should have left us but
frigid and scanty accounts of so obstinate a siege. To posterity
neither the cause nor the achievements of Marathon or Plataea, seem
the one more holy, the other more heroic, than this long defiance of
Messenians and helots against the prowess of Sparta and the aid of her
allies. The reader will rejoice to learn that it was on no
dishonourable terms that the city at last surrendered. Life and free
permission to depart was granted to the besieged, and recorded by a
pillar erected on the banks of the Alpheus [200]. But such of the
helots as had been taken in battle or in the neighbouring territory
were again reduced to slavery--the ringleaders so apprehended alone
executed. [201]

The gallant defenders of Ithome having conditioned to quit for ever
the Peloponnesus, Tolmides invested them with the possession of his
new conquest of Naupactus. There, under a democratic government,
protected by the power of Athens, they regained their ancient freedom,
and preserved their hereditary name of Messenians--long distinguished
from their neighbours by their peculiar dialect.

XVI. While thus, near at home, the Athenians had extended their
conquests and cemented their power, the adventurers they had
despatched to the Nile were maintaining their strange settlement with
more obstinacy than success. At first, the Athenians and their ally,
the Libyan Inarus, had indeed, as we have seen, obtained no
inconsiderable advantage.

Anxious to detach the Athenians from the Egyptian revolt, Artaxerxes
had despatched an ambassador to Sparta, in order to prevail upon that
state to make an excursion into Attica, and so compel the Athenians to
withdraw their troops from Egypt. The liability of the Spartan
government to corrupt temptation was not unknown to a court which had
received the Spartan fugitives; and the ambassador was charged with
large treasures to bribe those whom he could not otherwise convince.
Nevertheless, the negotiation failed; the government could not be
induced to the alliance with the Persian king. There was indeed a
certain spirit of honour inherent in that haughty nation which, if not
incompatible with cunning and intrigue, held at least in profound
disdain an alliance with the barbarian, for whatsoever ends. But, in
fact, the Spartans were then entirely absorbed in the reduction of
Ithome, and the war in Arcady; and it would, further, have been the
height of impolicy in that state, if meditating any designs against
Athens, to assist in the recall of an army which it was its very
interest to maintain employed in distant and perilous expeditions.

The ambassador had the satisfaction indeed of wasting some of his
money, but to no purpose; and he returned without success to Asia.
Artaxerxes then saw the necessity of arousing himself to those active
exertions which the feebleness of an exhausted despotism rendered the
final, not the first resort. Under Megabyzus an immense army was
collected; traversing Syria and Phoenicia, it arrived in Egypt,
engaged the Egyptian forces in a pitched battle, and obtained a
complete victory. Thence marching to Memphis, it drove the Greeks
from their siege of the White Castle, till then continued, and shut
them up in Prosopitis, an island in the Nile, around which their ships
lay anchored. Megabyzus ordered the channel to be drained by dikes,
and the vessels, the main force of the Athenians, were left stranded.
Terrified by this dexterous manoeuvre, as well as by the success of
the Persians, the Egyptians renounced all further resistance; and the
Athenians were deprived at once of their vessels and their allies.

XVII. Nothing daunted, and inspired by their disdain no less than by
their valour, the Athenians were yet to the barbarian what the Norman
knights were afterward to the Greeks. They burnt their vessels that
they might be as useless to the enemy as to themselves, and, exhorting
each other not to dim the glory of their past exploits, shut up still
in the small town of Byblus situated in the isle of Prosopitis,
resolved to defend themselves to the last.

The blockade endured a year and a half, such was the singular
ignorance of the art of sieges in that time. At length, when the
channel was drained, as I have related, the Persians marched across
the dry bed, and carried the place by a land assault. So ended this
wild and romantic expedition. The greater part of the Athenians
perished; a few, however, either forced their way by arms, or, as
Diodorus more probably relates, were permitted by treaty to retire,
out of the Egyptian territory. Taking the route of Libya, they
arrived at Cyrene, and finally reached Athens.

Inarus, the author of the revolt, was betrayed, and perished on the
cross, and the whole of Egypt once more succumbed to the Persian yoke,
save only that portion called the marshy or fenny parts (under the
dominion of a prince named Amyrtaeus), protected by the nature of the
soil and the proverbial valour of the inhabitants. Meanwhile a
squadron of fifty vessels, despatched by Athens to the aid of their
countrymen, entered the Mendesian mouth of the Nile too late to
prevent the taking of Byblus. Here they were surprised and defeated
by the Persian troops and a Phoenician fleet (B. C. 455), and few
survived a slaughter which put the last seal on the disastrous results
of the Egyptian expedition.

At home the Athenians continued, however, their military operations.
Thessaly, like the rest of Greece, had long shaken off the forms of
kingly government, but the spirit of monarchy still survived in a
country where the few were opulent and the multitude enslaved. The
Thessalian republics, united by an assembly of deputies from the
various towns, elected for their head a species of protector--who
appears to have possessed many of the characteristics of the podesta
of the Italian states. His nominal station was that of military
command--a station which, in all save the most perfect constitutions,
comprehends also civil authority. The name of Tagus was given to this
dangerous chief, and his power and attributes so nearly resembled
those of a monarch, that even Thucydides confers on a Tagus the title
of king. Orestes, one of these princes, had been driven from his
country by a civil revolution. He fled to Athens, and besought her
assistance to effect his restoration. That the Athenians should exert
themselves in favour of a man whose rank so nearly resembled the
odious dignity of a monarch, appears a little extraordinary. But as
the Tagus was often the favourite of the commonalty and the foe of the
aristocratic party, it is possible that, in restoring Orestes, the
Athenians might have seen a new occasion to further the policy so
triumphantly adopted in Boeotia and Phocis--to expel a hostile
oligarchy and establish a friendly democracy [203]. Whatever their
views, they decided to yield to the exile the assistance he demanded,
and under Myronides an army in the following year accompanied Orestes
into Thessaly. They were aided by the Boeotians and Phocians.
Myronides marched to Pharsalus, a Thessalian city, and mastered the
surrounding country; but the obstinate resistance of the city
promising a more protracted blockade than it was deemed advisable to
await, the Athenians raised the siege without effecting the object of
the expedition.

XVIII. The possession of Pegae and the new colony of Naupactus [204]
induced the desire of extending the Athenian conquests on the
neighbouring coasts, and the government were naturally anxious to
repair the military honours of Athens--lessened in Egypt, and
certainly not increased in Thessaly. With a thousand Athenian
soldiers, Pericles himself set out for Pegae. Thence the fleet, there
anchored, made a descent on Sicyon; Pericles defeated the Sicyonians
in a pitched battle, and besieged the city; but, after some fruitless
assaults, learning that the Spartans were coming to the relief of the
besieged, he quitted the city, and, re-enforced by some Achaeans,
sailed to the opposite side of the continent, crossed over the
Corinthian Bay, besieged the town of Oeniadae in Acarnania (B. C. 454)
(the inhabitants of which Pausanias [205] styles the hereditary
enemies of the Athenians), ravaged the neighbouring country, and bore
away no inconsiderable spoils. Although he reduced no city, the
successes of Pericles were signal enough to render the campaign
triumphant [206]; and it gratified the national pride and resentment
to have insulted the cities and wasted the lands of the Peloponnesus.

These successes were sufficient to render a peace with Sparta and her
allies advisable for the latter, while they were not sufficiently
decided to tempt the Athenians to prolong irregular and fruitless
hostilities. Three years were consumed without further aggressions on
either side, and probably in negotiations for peace. At the end of
that time, the influence and intervention of Cimon obtained a truce of
five years between the Athenians and the Peloponnesians.

XIX. The truce with the Peloponnesians (B. C. 450) removed the main
obstacle to those more bright and extensive prospects of enterprise
and ambition which the defeat of the Persians had opened to the
Athenians. In that restless and unpausing energy, which is the
characteristic of an intellectual republic, there seems, as it were, a
kind of destiny: a power impossible to resist urges the state from
action to action, from progress to progress, with a rapidity dangerous
while it dazzles; resembling in this the career of individuals
impelled onward, first to obtain, and thence to preserve, power, and
who cannot struggle against the fate which necessitates them to soar,
until, by the moral gravitation of human things, the point which has
no beyond is attained; and the next effort to rise is but the prelude
of their fall. In such states Time indeed moves with gigantic
strides; years concentrate what would be the epochs of centuries in
the march of less popular institutions. The planet of their fortunes
rolls with an equal speed through the cycle of internal civilization
as of foreign glory. The condition of their brilliant life is the
absence of repose. The accelerated circulation of the blood
beautifies but consumes, and action itself, exhausting the stores of
youth by its very vigour, becomes a mortal but divine disease.

XX. When Athens rose to the ascendency of Greece, it was necessary to
the preservation of that sudden and splendid dignity that she should
sustain the naval renown by which it had been mainly acquired. There
is but one way to sustain reputation, viz., to increase it and the
memory of past glories becomes dim unless it be constantly refreshed
by new. It must also be borne in mind that the maritime habits of the
people had called a new class into existence in the councils of the
state. The seamen, the most democratic part of the population, were
now to be conciliated and consulted: it was requisite to keep them in
action, for they were turbulent--in employment, for they were poor:
and thus the domestic policy and the foreign interests of Athens alike
conspired to necessitate the prosecution of maritime enterprise.

XXI. No longer harassed and impeded by fears of an enemy in the
Peloponnesus, the lively imagination of the people readily turned to
more dazzling and profitable warfare. The Island of Cyprus had (we
have seen) before attracted the ambition of the mistress of the
Aegaean. Its possession was highly advantageous, whether for military
or commercial designs, and once subjected, the fleet of the Athenians
might readily retain the dominion. Divided into nine petty states,
governed, not by republican, but by monarchical institutions, the
forces of the island were distracted, and the whole proffered an easy
as well as glorious conquest; while the attempt took the plausible
shape of deliverance, inasmuch as Persia, despite the former successes
of Cimon, still arrogated the supremacy over the island, and the war
was, in fact, less against Cyprus than against Persia. Cimon, who
ever affected great and brilliant enterprises, and whose main policy
it was to keep the Athenians from the dangerous borders of the
Peloponnesus, hastened to cement the truce he had formed with the
states of that district, by directing the spirit of enterprise to the
conquest of Cyprus.

Invested with the command of two hundred galleys, he set sail for that
island (B. C. 450) [207]. But designs more vast were associated with
this enterprise. The objects of the late Egyptian expedition still
tempted, and sixty vessels of the fleet were despatched to Egypt to
the assistance of Amyrtaeus, who, yet unconquered, in the marshy
regions, sustained the revolt against the Persian king.

Artabazus commanded the Persian forces, and with a fleet of three
hundred vessels he ranged himself in sight of Cyprus. Cimon, however,
landing on the island, succeeded in capturing many of its principal
towns. Humbled and defeated, it was not the policy of Persia to
continue hostilities with an enemy from whom it had so much to fear
and so little to gain. It is not, therefore, altogether an improbable
account of the later authorities, that ambassadors with proposals of
peace were formally despatched to Athens. But we must reject as a
pure fable the assertions that a treaty was finally agreed upon, by
which it was decreed, on the one hand, that the independence of the
Asiatic Greek towns should be acknowledged, and that the Persian
generals should not advance within three days' march of the Grecian
seas; nor should a Persian vessel sail within the limit of Phaselis
and the Cyanean rocks; while, on the other hand, the Athenians were
bound not to enter the territories of Artaxerxes [208]. No such
arrangement was known to Thucydides; no reference is ever made to such
a treaty in subsequent transactions with Persia. A document,
professing to be a copy of this treaty, was long extant; but it was
undoubtedly the offspring of a weak credulity or an ingenious
invention. But while negotiations, if ever actually commenced, were
yet pending, Cimon was occupied in the siege of Citium, where famine
conspired with the obstinacy of the besieged to protract the success
of his arms. It is recorded among the popular legends of the day that
Cimon [209] sent a secret mission to the oracle of Jupiter Ammon.
"Return," was the response to the messengers; "Cimon is with me!" The
messengers did return to find the son of Miltiades was no more. He
expired during the blockade of Citium (B. C. 449). By his orders his
death was concealed, the siege raised, and, still under the magic of
Cimon's name, the Athenians engaging the Phoenicians and Cilicians off
the Cyprian Salamis, obtained signal victories both by land and sea.
Thence, joined by the squadron despatched to Egypt, which, if it did
not share, did not retrieve, the misfortunes of the previous
expedition, they returned home.

The remains of Cimon were interred in Athens, and the splendid
monument consecrated to his name was visible in the time of Plutarch.


Change of Manners in Athens.--Begun under the Pisistratidae.--Effects
of the Persian War, and the intimate Connexion with Ionia.--The
Hetaerae.--The Political Eminence lately acquired by Athens.--The
Transfer of the Treasury from Delos to Athens.--Latent Dangers and
Evils.--First, the Artificial Greatness of Athens not supported by
Natural Strength.--Secondly, her pernicious Reliance on Tribute.--
Thirdly, Deterioration of National Spirit commenced by Cimon in the
Use of Bribes and Public Tables.--Fourthly, Defects in Popular Courts
of Law.--Progress of General Education.--History.--Its Ionian Origin.
--Early Historians.--Acusilaus.--Cadmus.--Eugeon.--Hellanicus.--
Pherecides.--Xanthus.--View of the Life and Writings of Herodotus.--
Progress of Philosophy since Thales.--Philosophers of the Ionian and
Eleatic Schools.--Pythagoras.--His Philosophical Tenets and Political
Influence.--Effect of these Philosophers on Athens.--School of
Political Philosophy continued in Athens from the Time of Solon.--
Anaxagoras.--Archelaus.--Philosophy not a thing apart from the
ordinary Life of the Athenians.

I. Before we pass to the administration of Pericles--a period so
brilliant in the history not more of Athens than of art--it may not be
unseasonable to take a brief survey of the progress which the
Athenians had already made in civilization and power (B. C. 449).

The comedians and the rhetoricians, when at a later period they boldly
represented to the democracy, in a mixture of satire and of truth, the
more displeasing features of the popular character, delighted to draw
a contrast between the new times and the old. The generation of men
whom Marathon and Salamis had immortalized were, according to these
praisers of the past, of nobler manners and more majestic virtues than
their degenerate descendants. "Then," exclaimed Isocrates, "our young
men did not waste their days in the gambling-house, nor with music-
girls, nor in the assemblies, in which whole days are now consumed
then did they shun the Agora, or, if they passed through its haunts,
it was with modest and timorous forbearance--then, to contradict an
elder was a greater offence than nowadays to offend a parent--then,
not even a servant of honest repute would have been seen to eat or
drink within a tavern!" "In the good old times," says the citizen of
Aristophanes [210], "our youths breasted the snow without a mantle--
their music was masculine and martial--their gymnastic exercises
decorous and chaste. Thus were trained the heroes of Marathon!"

In such happy days we are informed that mendicancy and even want were
unknown. [211]

It is scarcely necessary to observe, that we must accept these
comparisons between one age and another with considerable caution and
qualification. We are too much accustomed to such declamations in our
own time not to recognise an ordinary trick of satirists and
declaimers. As long as a people can bear patiently to hear their own
errors and follies scornfully proclaimed, they have not become
altogether degenerate or corrupt. Yet still, making every allowance
for rhetorical or poetic exaggeration, it is not more evident than
natural that the luxury of civilization--the fervour of unbridled
competition, in pleasure as in toil--were attended with many changes
of manners and life favourable to art and intellect, but hostile to
the stern hardihood of a former age.

II. But the change was commenced, not under a democracy, but under a
tyranny--it was consummated, not by the vices, but the virtues of the
nation. It began with the Pisistratidae [212], who first introduced
into Athens the desire of pleasure and the habits of ostentation, that
refine before they enervate; and that luxury which, as in Athenaeus it
is well and profoundly said, is often the concomitant of freedom, "as
soft couches took their name from Hercules"--made its rapid progress
with the result of the Persian war. The plunder of Plataea, the
luxuries of Byzantium, were not limited in their effect to the wild
Pausanias. The decay of old and the rise of new families tended to
give a stimulus to the emulation of wealth--since it is by wealth that
new families seek to eclipse the old. And even the destruction of
private houses, in the ravages of Mardonius, served to quicken the
career of art. In rebuilding their mansions, the nobles naturally
availed themselves of the treasures and the appliances of the gorgeous
enemy they had vanquished and despoiled. Few ever rebuild their
houses on as plain a scale as the old ones. In the city itself the
residences of the great remained plain and simple; they were mostly
built of plaster and unburnt brick, and we are told that the houses of
Cimon and Pericles were scarcely distinguishable from those of the
other citizens. But in their villas in Attica, in which the Athenians
took a passionate delight, they exhibited their taste and displayed
their wealth [213]. And the lucrative victories of Cimon, backed by
his own example of ostentation, gave to a vast number of families,
hitherto obscure, at once the power to gratify luxury and the desire
to parade refinement. Nor was the Eastern example more productive of
emulation than the Ionian. The Persian war, and the league which
followed it, brought Athens into the closest intercourse with her
graceful but voluptuous colonies. Miletus fell, but the manners of
Miletus survived her liberties. That city was renowned for the
peculiar grace and intellectual influence of its women; and it is
evident that there must have been a gradual change of domestic habits
and the formation of a new class of female society in Athens before
Aspasia could have summoned around her the power, and the wisdom, and
the wit of Athens--before an accomplished mistress could have been
even suspected of urging the politic Pericles into war--and, above
all, before an Athenian audience could have assented in delight to
that mighty innovation on their masculine drama--which is visible in
the passionate heroines and the sentimental pathos of Euripides.

But this change was probably not apparent in the Athenian matrons
themselves, who remained for the most part in primitive seclusion; and
though, I think, it will be shown hereafter that modern writers have
greatly exaggerated both the want of mental culture and the degree of
domestic confinement to which the Athenian women [214] were subjected,
yet it is certain, at least, that they did not share the social
freedom or partake the intellectual accomplishments of their lords.
It was the new class of "Female Friends" or "Hetaerae," a phrase ill
translated by the name of "courtesans" (from whom they were
indubitably but not to our notions very intelligibly, distinguished),
that exhibited the rarest union of female blandishment and masculine
culture. "The wife for our house and honour," implies Demosthenes,
"the Hetaera for our solace and delight." These extraordinary women,
all foreigners, and mostly Ionian, made the main phenomenon of
Athenian society. They were the only women with whom an enlightened
Greek could converse as equal to himself in education. While the law
denied them civil rights, usage lavished upon them at once admiration
and respect. By stealth, as it were, and in defiance of legislation,
they introduced into the ambitious and restless circles of Athens many
of the effects, pernicious or beneficial, which result from the
influence of educated women upon the manners and pursuits of men.

III. The alteration of social habits was not then sudden and
startling (such is never the case in the progress of national
manners), but, commencing with the graces of a polished tyranny,
ripened with the results of glorious but too profitable victories.
Perhaps the time in which the state of transition was most favourably
visible was just prior to the death of Cimon. It was not then so much
the over-refinement of a new and feebler generation, as the polish and
elegance which wealth, art, and emulation necessarily imparted to the
same brave warriors who exchanged posts with the Spartans at Plataea,
and sent out their children and old men to fight and conquer with

IV. A rapid glance over the events of the few years commemorated in
the last book of this history will suffice to show the eminence which
Athens had attained over the other states of Greece. She was the head
of the Ionian League--the mistress of the Grecian seas; with Sparta,
the sole rival that could cope with her armies and arrest her
ambition, she had obtained a peace; Corinth was humbled, Aegina
ruined, Megara had shrunk into her dependency and garrison. The
states of Boeotia had received their very constitution from the hands
of an Athenian general--the democracies planted by Athens served to
make liberty itself subservient to her will, and involved in her
safety. She had remedied the sterility of her own soil by securing
the rich pastures of the neighbouring Euboea. She had added the gold
of Thasos to the silver of Laurion, and established a footing in
Thessaly which was at once a fortress against the Asiatic arms and a
mart for Asiatic commerce. The fairest lands of the opposite coast--
the most powerful islands of the Grecian seas--contributed to her
treasury, or were almost legally subjected to her revenge. Her navy
was rapidly increasing in skill, in number, and renown; at home, the
recall of Cimon had conciliated domestic contentions, and the death of
Cimon dispirited for a while the foes to the established constitution.
In all Greece, Myronides was perhaps the ablest general--Pericles (now
rapidly rising to the sole administration of affairs [216]) was
undoubtedly the most highly educated, cautious, and commanding

But a single act of successful daring had, more than all else,
contributed to the Athenian power. Even in the lifetime of Aristides
it had been proposed to transfer the common treasury from Delos to
Athens [217]. The motion failed--perhaps through the virtuous
opposition of Aristides himself. But when at the siege of Ithome the
feud between the Athenians and Spartans broke out, the fairest pretext
and the most favourable occasion conspired in favour of a measure so
seductive to the national ambition. Under pretence of saving the
treasury from the hazard of falling a prey to the Spartan rapacity or
need,--it was at once removed to Athens (B. C. 461 or 460) [218]; and
while the enfeebled power of Sparta, fully engrossed by the Messenian
war, forbade all resistance to the transfer from that the most
formidable quarter, the conquests of Naxos and the recent reduction of
Thasos seem to have intimidated the spirit, and for a time even to
have silenced the reproaches, of the tributary states themselves.
Thus, in actual possession of the tribute of her allies, Athens
acquired a new right to its collection and its management; and while
she devoted some of the treasures to the maintenance of her strength,
she began early to uphold the prerogative of appropriating a part to
the enhancement of her splendour. [219]

As this most important measure occurred at the very period when the
power of Cimon was weakened by the humiliating circumstances that
attended his expedition to Ithome, and by the vigorous and popular
measures of the opposition, so there seems every reason to believe
that it was principally advised and effected by Pericles, who appears
shortly afterward presiding over the administration of the finances.

Though the Athenian commerce had greatly increased, it was still
principally confined to the Thracian coasts and the Black Sea. The
desire of enterprises, too vast for a state whose power reverses might
suddenly destroy, was not yet indulged to excess; nor had the
turbulent spirits of the Piraeus yet poured in upon the various
barriers of the social state and the political constitution, the
rashness of sailors and the avarice of merchants. Agriculture, to
which all classes in Athens were addicted, raised a healthful
counteraction to the impetus given to trade. Nor was it till some
years afterward, when Pericles gathered all the citizens into the
town, and left no safety-valve to the ferment and vices of the Agora,
that the Athenian aristocracy gradually lost all patriotism and
manhood, and an energetic democracy was corrupted into a vehement
though educated mob. The spirit of faction, it is true, ran high, but
a third party, headed by Myronides and Tolmides, checked the excesses
of either extreme.

V. Thus, at home and abroad, time and fortune, the concurrence of
events, and the happy accident of great men, not only maintained the
present eminence of Athens, but promised, to ordinary foresight, a
long duration of her glory and her power. To deeper observers, the
picture might have presented dim but prophetic shadows. It was clear
that the command Athens had obtained was utterly disproportioned to
her natural resources--that her greatness was altogether artificial,
and rested partly upon moral rather than physical causes, and partly
upon the fears and the weakness of her neighbours. A steril soil, a
limited territory, a scanty population--all these--the drawbacks and
disadvantages of nature--the wonderful energy and confident daring of
a free state might conceal in prosperity; but the first calamity could
not fail to expose them to jealous and hostile eyes. The empire
delegated to the Athenians they must naturally desire to retain and to
increase; and there was every reason to forbode that their ambition
would soon exceed their capacities to sustain it. As the state became
accustomed to its power, it would learn to abuse it. Increasing
civilization, luxury, and art, brought with them new expenses, and
Athens had already been permitted to indulge with impunity the
dangerous passion of exacting tribute from her neighbours. Dependance
upon other resources than those of the native population has ever been
a main cause of the destruction of despotisms, and it cannot fail,
sooner or later, to be equally pernicious to the republics that trust
to it. The resources of taxation, confined to freemen and natives,
are almost incalculable; the resources of tribute, wrung from
foreigners and dependants, are sternly limited and terribly
precarious--they rot away the true spirit of industry in the people
that demand the impost--they implant ineradicable hatred in the states
that concede it.

VI. Two other causes of great deterioration to the national spirit
were also at work in Athens. One, as I have before hinted, was the
policy commenced by Cimon, of winning the populace by the bribes and
exhibitions of individual wealth. The wise Pisistratus had invented
penalties--Cimon offered encouragement--to idleness. When the poor
are once accustomed to believe they have a right to the generosity of
the rich, the first deadly inroad is made upon the energies of
independence and the sanctity of property. A yet more pernicious evil
in the social state of the Athenians was radical in their
constitution--it was their courts of justice. Proceeding upon a
theory that must have seemed specious and plausible to an
inexperienced and infant republic, Solon had laid it down as a
principle of his code, that as all men were interested in the
preservation of law, so all men might exert the privilege of the
plaintiff and accuser. As society grew more complicated, the door was
thus opened to every species of vexatious charge and frivolous
litigation. The common informer became a most harassing and powerful
personage, and made one of a fruitful and crowded profession; and in
the very capital of liberty there existed the worst species of
espionage. But justice was not thereby facilitated. The informer was
regarded with universal hatred and contempt; and it is easy to
perceive, from the writings of the great comic poet, that the
sympathies of the Athenian audience were as those of the English
public at this day, enlisted against the man who brought the
inquisition of the law to the hearth of his neighbour.

VII. Solon committed a yet more fatal and incurable error when he
carried the democratic principle into judicial tribunals. He
evidently considered that the very strength and life of his
constitution rested in the Heliaea--a court the numbers and nature of
which have been already described. Perhaps, at a time when the old
oligarchy was yet so formidable, it might have been difficult to
secure justice to the poorer classes while the judges were selected
from the wealthier. But justice to all classes became a yet more
capricious uncertainty when a court of law resembled a popular
hustings. [221]

If we intrust a wide political suffrage to the people, the people at
least hold no trust for others than themselves and their posterity--
they are not responsible to the public, for they are the public. But
in law, where there are two parties concerned, the plaintiff and
defendant, the judge should not only be incorruptible, but strictly
responsible. In Athens the people became the judge; and, in offences
punishable by fine, were the very party interested in procuring
condemnation; the numbers of the jury prevented all responsibility,
excused all abuses, and made them susceptible of the same shameless
excesses that characterize self-elected corporations--from which
appeal is idle, and over which public opinion exercises no control.
These numerous, ignorant, and passionate assemblies were liable at all
times to the heats of party, to the eloquence of individuals--to the
whims and caprices, the prejudices, the impatience, and the turbulence
which must ever be the characteristics of a multitude orally
addressed. It was evident, also, that from service in such a court,
the wealthy, the eminent, and the learned, with other occupation or
amusement, would soon seek to absent themselves. And the final blow
to the integrity and respectability of the popular judicature was
given at a later period by Pericles, when he instituted a salary, just
sufficient to tempt the poor and to be disdained by the affluent, to
every dicast or juryman in the ten ordinary courts [222]. Legal
science became not the profession of the erudite and the laborious
few, but the livelihood of the ignorant and idle multitude. The
canvassing--the cajoling--the bribery--that resulted from this, the
most vicious institution of the Athenian democracy--are but too
evident and melancholy tokens of the imperfection of human wisdom.
Life, property, and character were at the hazard of a popular
election. These evils must have been long in progressive operation;
but perhaps they were scarcely visible till the fatal innovation of
Pericles, and the flagrant excesses that ensued allowed the people
themselves to listen to the branding and terrible satire upon the
popular judicature, which is still preserved to us in the comedy of

At the same time, certain critics and historians have widely and
grossly erred in supposing that these courts of "the sovereign
multitude" were partial to the poor and hostile to the rich. All
testimony proves that the fact was lamentably the reverse. The
defendant was accustomed to engage the persons of rank or influence
whom he might number as his friends, to appear in court on his behalf.
And property was employed to procure at the bar of justice the
suffrages it could command at a political election. The greatest vice
of the democratic Heliaea was, that by a fine the wealthy could
purchase pardon--by interest the great could soften law. But the
chances were against the poor man. To him litigation was indeed
cheap, but justice dear. He had much the same inequality to struggle
against in a suit with a powerful antagonist, that he would have had
in contesting with him for an office in the administration. In all
trials resting on the voice of popular assemblies, it ever has been
and ever will be found, that, caeteris paribus, the aristocrat will
defeat the plebeian.

VIII. Meanwhile the progress of general education had been great and
remarkable. Music [223], from the earliest time, was an essential
part of instruction; and it had now become so common an acquirement,
that Aristotle [224] observes, that at the close of the Persian war
there was scarcely a single freeborn Athenian unacquainted with the
flute. The use of this instrument was afterward discontinued, and
indeed proscribed in the education of freemen, from the notion that it
was not an instrument capable of music sufficiently elevated and
intellectual [225]; yet it was only succeeded by melodies more
effeminate and luxurious. And Aristophanes enumerates the change from
the old national airs and measures among the worst symptoms of
Athenian degeneracy. Besides the musician, the tutor of the gymnasium
and the grammarian still made the nominal limit of scholastic
instruction. [226] But life itself had now become a school. The
passion for public intercourse and disputation, which the gardens and
the Agora, and exciting events, and free institutions, and the rise of
philosophy, and a serene and lovely climate, made the prevalent
characteristic of the matured Athenian, began to stir within the
young. And in the mean while the tardy invention of prose literature
worked its natural revolution in intellectual pursuits.

IX. It has been before observed, that in Greece, as elsewhere, the
first successor of the poet was the philosopher, and that the oral
lecturer preceded the prose writer. With written prose HISTORY
commenced. Having found a mode of transmitting that species of
knowledge which could not, like rhythmical tales or sententious
problems, be accurately preserved by the memory alone, it was natural
that a present age should desire to record and transmit the past--
chtaema es aei--an everlasting heirloom to the future.

To a semi-barbarous nation history is little more than poetry. The
subjects to which it would be naturally devoted are the legends of
religion--the deeds of ancestral demigods--the triumphs of successful
war. In recording these themes of national interest, the poet is the
first historian. As philosophy--or rather the spirit of conjecture,
which is the primitive and creative breath of philosophy--becomes
prevalent, the old credulity directs the new research to the
investigation of subjects which the poets have not sufficiently
explained, but which, from their remote and religious antiquity, are
mysteriously attractive to a reverent and inquisitive population, with
whom long descent is yet the most flattering proof of superiority.
Thus genealogies, and accounts of the origin of states and deities,
made the first subjects of history, and inspired the Argive Acusilaus
[227], and, as far as we can plausibly conjecture, the Milesian

X. The Dorians--a people who never desired to disturb tradition,
unwilling carefully to investigate, precisely because they
superstitiously venerated, the past, little inquisitive as to the
manners or the chronicles of alien tribes, satisfied, in a word, with
themselves, and incurious as to others--were not a race to whom
history became a want. Ionia--the subtle, the innovating, the
anxious, and the restless--nurse of the arts, which the mother country
ultimately reared, boasts in Cadmus the Milesian the first writer of
history and of prose [228]; Samos, the birthplace of Pythagoras,
produced Eugeon, placed by Dionysius at the head of the early
historians; and Mitylene claimed Hellanicus, who seems to have formed
a more ambitious design than his predecessors. He wrote a history of
the ancient kings of the earth, and an account of the founders of the
most celebrated cities in each kingdom [229]. During the early and
crude attempts of these and other writers, stern events contributed to
rear from tedious research and fruitless conjecture the true genius of
history; for it is as a people begin to struggle for rights, to
comprehend political relations, to contend with neighbours abroad, and
to wrestle with obnoxious institutions at home, that they desire to
secure the sanction of antiquity, to trace back to some illustrious
origin the rights they demand, and to stimulate hourly exertions by a
reference to departed fame. Then do mythologies, and genealogies, and
geographical definitions, and the traditions that concern kings and
heroes, ripen into chronicles that commemorate the convulsions or the
progress of a nation.

During the stormy period which saw the invasion of Xerxes (B. C. 480),
when everything that could shed lustre upon the past incited to
present struggles, flourished Pherecydes. He is sometimes called of
Leria, which seems his birthplace--sometimes of Athens, where he
resided thirty years, and to which state his history refers. Although
his work was principally mythological, it opened the way to sound
historical composition, inasmuch as it included references to later
times--to existent struggles--the descent of Miltiades--the Scythian
expedition of Darius. Subsequently, Xanthus, a Lydian, composed a
work on his own country (B. C. 463), of which some extracts remain,
and from which Herodotus did not disdain to borrow.

XI. It was nearly a century after the invention of prose and of
historical composition, and with the guides and examples of, many
writers not uncelebrated in their day before his emulation, that
Herodotus first made known to the Grecian public, and, according to
all probable evidence, at the Olympic Games, a portion of that work
which drew forth the tears of Thucydides, and furnishes the
imperishable model of picturesque and faithful narrative. This
happened in a brilliant period of Athenian history; it was in the same
year as the battle of Oenophyta, when Athens gave laws and
constitutions to Boeotia, and the recall of Cimon established for
herself both liberty and order. The youth of Herodotus was passed
while the glory of the Persian war yet lingered over Greece, and while
with the ascendency of Athens commenced a new era of civilization.
His genius drew the vital breath from an atmosphere of poetry. The
desire of wild adventure still existed, and the romantic expedition of
the Athenians into Egypt had served to strengthen the connexion
between the Greeks and that imposing and interesting land. The rise
of the Greek drama with Aeschylus probably contributed to give effect,
colour, and vigour to the style of Herodotus. And something almost of
the art of the contemporaneous Sophocles may be traced in the easy
skill of his narratives, and the magic yet tranquil energy of his

XII. Though Dorian by ancient descent, it was at Halicarnassus, in
Caria, a city of Asia Minor, that Herodotus was born; nor does his
style, nor do his views, indicate that he derived from the origin of
his family any of the Dorian peculiarities. His parents were
distinguished alike by birth and fortune. Early in life those
internal commotions, to which all the Grecian towns were subjected,
and which crushed for a time the liberties of his native city, drove
him from Halicarnassus: and, suffering from tyranny, he became
inspired by that enthusiasm for freedom which burns throughout his
immortal work. During his exile he travelled through Greece, Thrace,
and Macedonia--through Scythia, Asia, and Egypt. Thus he collected
the materials of his work, which is, in fact, a book of travels
narrated historically. If we do not reject the story that he read a
portion of his work at the Olympian Games, when Thucydides, one of his
listeners, was yet a boy, and if we suppose the latter to have been
about fifteen, this anecdote is calculated [230] to bear the date of
Olym. 81, B. C. 456, when Herodotus was twenty-eight.

The chief residence of Herodotus was at Samos, until a revolution
broke out in Halicarnassus. The people conspired against their tyrant
Lygdamis. Herodotus repaired to his native city, took a prominent
part in the conspiracy, and finally succeeded in restoring the popular
government. He was not, however, long left to enjoy the liberties he
had assisted to acquire for his fellow-citizens: some intrigue of the
counter-party drove him a second time into exile. Repairing to
Athens, he read the continuation of his history at the festival of the
Panathenaea (B. C. 446). It was received with the most rapturous
applause; and we are told that the people solemnly conferred upon the
man who had immortalized their achievements against the Mede the gift
of ten talents. The disposition of this remarkable man, like that of
all travellers, inclined to enterprise and adventure. His early
wanderings, his later vicissitudes, seem to have confirmed a
temperament originally restless and inquisitive. Accordingly, in his
forty-first year, he joined the Athenian emigrators that in the south
of Italy established a colony at Thurium (B. C. 443).

VIII. At Thurium Herodotus apparently passed the remainder of his
life, though whether his tomb was built there or in Athens is a matter
of dispute. These particulars of his life, not uninteresting in
themselves, tend greatly to illustrate the character of his writings.
Their charm consists in the earnestness of a man who describes
countries as an eyewitness, and events as one accustomed to
participate in them. The life, the raciness, the vigour of an
adventurer and a wanderer glow in every page. He has none of the
refining disquisitions that are born of the closet. He paints history
rather than descants on it; he throws the colourings of a mind,
unconsciously poetic, over all he describes. Now a soldier--now a
priest--now a patriot--he is always a poet, if rarely a philosopher.
He narrates like a witness, unlike Thucydides, who sums up like a
judge. No writer ever made so beautiful an application of
superstitions to truths. His very credulities have a philosophy of
their own; and modern historians have acted unwisely in disdaining the
occasional repetition even of his fables. For if his truths record
the events, his fables paint the manners and the opinions of the time;
and the last fill up the history, of which events are only the

To account for his frequent use of dialogue and his dramatic effects
of narrative, we must remember the tribunal to which the work of
Herodotus was subjected. Every author, unconsciously to himself,
consults the tastes of those he addresses. No small coterie of
scholars, no scrupulous and critical inquirers, made the ordeal
Herodotus underwent. His chronicles were not dissertations to be
coldly pondered over and skeptically conned: they were read aloud at
solemn festivals to listening thousands; they were to arrest the
curiosity--to amuse the impatience--to stir the wonder of a lively and
motley crowd. Thus the historian imbibed naturally the spirit of the
taleteller. And he was driven to embellish his history with the
romantic legend--the awful superstition--the gossip anecdote--which
yet characterize the stories of the popular and oral fictionist, in
the bazars of the Mussulman, or on the seasands of Sicily. Still it
has been rightly said that a judicious reader is not easily led astray
by Herodotus in important particulars. His descriptions of
localities, of manners and customs, are singularly correct; and modern
travellers can yet trace the vestiges of his fidelity. As the
historian, therefore, was in some measure an orator, so his skill was
to be manifest in the arts which keep alive the attention of an
audience. Hence Herodotus continually aims at the picturesque; he
gives us the very words of his actors, and narrates the secrets of
impenetrable palaces with as much simplicity and earnestness as if he
had been placed behind the arras. [231]

That it was impossible for the wandering Halicarnassian to know what
Gyges said to Candaules, or Artabanus to Xerxes, has, perhaps, been
too confidently asserted. Heeren reminds us, that both by Jewish and
Grecian writers there is frequent mention of the scribes or
secretaries who constantly attended the person of the Persian monarch
--on occasion of festivals [232], of public reviews [233], and even in
the tumult of battle; and, with the idolatrous respect in which
despotism was held, noted down the words that fell from the royal lip.
The ingenious German then proceeds to show that this custom was common
to all the Asiatic nations. Thus were formed the chronicles or
archives of the Persians; and by reference to these minute and
detailed documents, Herodotus was enabled to record conversations and
anecdotes, and preserve to us the memoirs of a court. And though this
conjecture must be received with caution, and, to many passages
unconnected with Persia or the East, cannot be applied, it is
sufficiently plausible, in some very important parts of the history,
not to be altogether dismissed with contempt.

But it is for another reason that I have occasionally admitted the
dialogues of Herodotus, as well as the superstitious anecdotes current
at the day. The truth of history consists not only in the relation of
events, but in preserving the character of the people, and depicting
the manners of the time. Facts, if too nakedly told, may be very
different from truths, in the impression they convey; and the spirit
of Grecian history is lost if we do not feel the Greeks themselves
constantly before us. Thus when, as in Herodotus, the agents of
events converse, every word reported may not have been spoken; but
what we lose in accuracy of details we more than gain by the fidelity
of the whole. We acquire a lively and accurate impression of the
general character--of the thoughts, and the manners, and the men of
the age and the land. It is so also with legends, sparingly used, and
of which the nature is discernible from fact by the most superficial
gaze; we more sensibly feel that it was the Greeks who were engaged at
Marathon when we read of the dream of Hippias or the apparition of
Theseus. Finally, an historian of Greece will, almost without an
effort, convey to the reader a sense of the mighty change, from an age
of poetical heroes to an age of practical statesmen, if we suffer
Herodotus to be his model in the narrative of the Persian war, and
allow the more profound and less imaginative Thucydides to colour the
pictures of the Peloponnesian.

XIV. The period now entered upon is also remarkable for the fertile
and rapid development of one branch of intellectual cultivation in
which the Greeks were pre-eminently illustrious. In history, Rome was
the rival of Greece; in philosophy, Rome was never more than her
credulous and reverend scholar.

We have seen the dawn of philosophy with Thales; Miletus, his
birthplace, bore his immediate successors. Anaximander, his younger
contemporary [234], is said, with Pherecydes, to have been the first
philosopher who availed himself of the invention of writing. His
services have not been sufficiently appreciated--like those of most
men who form the first steps in the progress between the originator
and the perfector. He seems boldly to have differed from his master,
Thales, in the very root of his system. He rejected the original
element of water or humidity, and supposed the great primary essence
and origin of creation to be in that EVERYTHING or NOTHING which he
called THE INFINITE, and which we might perhaps render as "The Chaos;"
[235] that of this vast element, the parts are changed--the whole
immutable, and all things arise from and return unto that universal
source [236]. He pursued his researches into physics, and attempted
to account for the thunder, the lightning, and the winds. His
conjectures are usually shrewd and keen; and sometimes, as in his
assertion, "that the moon shone in light borrowed from the sun," may
deserve a higher praise. Both Anaximander and Pherecydes concurred in
the principles of their doctrines, but the latter seems to have more
distinctly asserted the immortality of the soul. [237]

Anaximenes, also of Miletus, was the friend and follower of
Anaximander (B. C. 548). He seems, however, to have deserted the
abstract philosophical dogmas of his tutor, and to have resumed the
analogical system commenced by Thales--like that philosopher, he
founded axioms upon observations, bold and acute, but partial and
contracted. He maintained that air was the primitive element. In
this theory he united the Zeus, or ether, of Pherecydes, and the
Infinite of Anaximander, for he held the air to be God in itself, and
infinite in its nature.

XV. While these wild but ingenious speculators conducted the career
of that philosophy called the Ionian, to the later time of the serene
and lofty spiritualism of Anaxagoras, two new schools arose, both
founded by Ionians, but distinguished by separate names--the Eleatic
and the Italic. The first was founded by Xenophanes of Colophon, in
Elea, a town in western Italy. Migrating to an alien shore,
colonization seems to have produced in philosophy the same results
which it produced in politics: it emancipated the reason from all
previous prejudice and prescriptive shackles. Xenophanes was the
first thinker who openly assailed the popular faith (B. C. 538). He
divested the Great Deity of the human attributes which human vanity,
assimilating God to man, had bestowed upon him. The divinity of
Xenophanes is that of modern philosophy--eternal, unalterable, and
alone: graven images cannot represent his form. His attributes are--

To the Eleatic school, founded by Xenophanes, belong Parmenides,
Melissus the Samian, Zeno, and Heraclitus of Ephesus. All these were
thinkers remarkable for courage and subtlety. The main metaphysical
doctrines of this school approach, in many respects, to those that
have been familiar to modern speculators. Their predecessors argued,
as the basis of their system, from experience of the outward world,
and the evidence of the senses; the Eleatic school, on the contrary,
commenced their system from the reality of ideas, and thence argued on
the reality of external objects; experience with them was but a show
and an appearance; knowledge was not in things without, but in the
mind; they were the founders of idealism. With respect to the Deity,
they imagined the whole universe filled with it--God was ALL IN ALL.
Such, though each philosopher varied the system in detail, were the
main metaphysical dogmas of the Eleatic school. Its masters were
high-wrought, subtle, and religious thinkers; but their doctrines were
based upon a theory that necessarily led to parodox and mysticism; and
finally conduced to the most dangerous of all the ancient sects--that
of the sophists.

We may here observe, that the spirit of poetry long continued to
breathe in the forms of philosophy. Even Anaximander, and his
immediate followers in the Ionic school, while writing in prose,
appear, from a few fragments left to us, to have had much recourse to
poetical expression, and often convey a dogma by an image; while, in
the Eleatic school, Xenophanes and Parmenides adopted the form itself
of verse, as the medium for communicating their theories; and Zeno,
perhaps from the new example of the drama, first introduced into
philosophical dispute that fashion of dialogue which afterward gave to
the sternest and loftiest thought the animation and life of dramatic

XVI. But even before the Eleatic school arose, the most remarkable
and ambitious of all the earlier reasoners, the arch uniter of actual
politics with enthusiastic reveries--the hero of a thousand legends--a
demigod in his ends and an impostor in his means--Pythagoras of Samos
--conceived and partially executed the vast design of establishing a
speculative wisdom and an occult religion as the keystone of political

So mysterious is everything relating to Pythagoras, so mingled with
the grossest fables and the wildest superstitions, that he seems
scarcely to belong to the age of history, or to the advanced and
practical Ionia. The date of his birth--his very parentage, are
matters of dispute and doubt. Accounts concur in considering his
father not a native of Samos; and it seems a probable supposition that
he was of Lemnian or Pelasgic origin. Pythagoras travelled early into
Egypt and the East, and the system most plausibly ascribed to him
betrays something of oriental mystery and priestcraft in its peculiar
doctrines, and much more of those alien elements in its pervading and
general spirit. The notion of uniting a state with religion is
especially Eastern, and essentially anti-Hellenic. Returning to
Samos, he is said to have found the able Polycrates in the tyranny of
the government, and to have quitted his birthplace in disgust. If,
then, he had already conceived his political designs, it is clear that
they could never have been executed under a jealous and acute tyrant;
for, in the first place, radical innovations are never so effectually
opposed as in governments concentrated in the hands of a single man;
and, secondly, the very pith and core of the system of Pythagoras
consisted in the establishment of an oligarchic aristocracy--a
constitution most hated and most persecuted by the Grecian tyrants.
The philosopher migrated into Italy. He had already, in all
probability, made himself renowned in Greece. For it was then a
distinction to have travelled into Egypt, the seat of mysterious and
venerated learning; and philosophy, like other novelties, appears to
have passed into fashion even with the multitude. Not only all the
traditions respecting this extraordinary man, but the certain fact of
the mighty effect that, in his single person, he afterward wrought in
Italy, prove him also to have possessed that nameless art of making a
personal impression upon mankind, and creating individual enthusiasm,
which is necessary to those who obtain a moral command, and are the
founders of sects and institutions. It is so much in conformity with
the manners of the time and the objects of Pythagoras to believe that
he diligently explored the ancient, religions and political systems of
Greece, from which he had long been a stranger, that we cannot reject
the traditions (however disfigured with fable) that he visited Delos,
and affected to receive instructions from the pious ministrants of
Delphi. [238]

At Olympia, where he could not fail to be received with curiosity and
distinction, the future lawgiver is said to have assumed the title of
philosopher, the first who claimed the name. For the rest, we must
yield our faith to all probable accounts, both of his own earnest
preparations for his design, and of the high repute he acquired in
Greece, that may tend to lessen the miracle of the success that
awaited him in the cities of the west.

XVII. Pythagoras (B. C. 540-510) arrived in Italy during the reign of
Tarquinius Superbus, according to the testimony of Cicero and Aulus
Gellius [239], and fixed his residence in Croton, a city in the Bay of
Tarentum, colonized by Greeks of the Achaean tribe [240]. If we may
lend a partial credit to the extravagant fables of later disciples,
endeavouring to extract from florid superaddition some original germe
of simple truth, it would seem that he first appeared in the character
of a teacher of youth [241]; and, as was not unusual in those times,
soon rose from the preceptor to the legislator. Dissensions in the
city favoured his objects. The senate (consisting of a thousand
members, doubtless of a different race from the body of the people;
the first the posterity of the settlers, the last the native
population) availed itself of the arrival and influence of an eloquent
and renowned philosopher. He lent himself to the consolidation of
aristocracies, and was equally inimical to democracy and tyranny. But
his policy was that of no vulgar ambition; he refused, at least for a
time, ostensible power and office, and was contented with instituting
an organized and formidable society--not wholly dissimilar to that
mighty order founded by Loyola in times comparatively recent. The
disciples admitted into this society underwent examination and
probation; it was through degrees that they passed into its higher
honours, and were admitted into its deepest secrets. Religion made
the basis of the fraternity--but religion connected with human ends of
advancement and power. He selected the three hundred who, at Croton,
formed his order, from the noblest families, and they were professedly
reared to know themselves, that so they might be fitted to command the
world. It was not long before this society, of which Pythagoras was
the head, appears to have supplanted the ancient senate and obtained
the legislative administration. In this institution, Pythagoras
stands alone--no other founder of Greek philosophy resembles him. By
all accounts, he also differed from the other sages of his time in his
estimate of the importance of women. He is said to have lectured to
and taught them. His wife was herself a philosopher, and fifteen
disciples of the softer sex rank among the prominent ornaments of his
school. An order based upon so profound a knowledge of all that can
fascinate or cheat mankind, could not fail to secure a temporary
power. His influence was unbounded in Croton--it extended to other
Italian cities--it amended or overturned political constitutions; and
had Pythagoras possessed a more coarse and personal ambition, he
might, perhaps, have founded a mighty dynasty, and enriched our social
annals with the results of a new experiment. But his was the
ambition, not of a hero, but a sage. He wished rather to establish a
system than to exalt himself; his immediate followers saw not all the
consequences that might be derived from the fraternity he founded: and
the political designs of his gorgeous and august philosophy, only for
a while successful, left behind them but the mummeries of an impotent
freemasonry and the enthusiastic ceremonies of half-witted ascetics.

XVIII. It was when this power, so mystic and so revolutionary, had,
by the means of branch societies, established itself throughout a
considerable portion of Italy, that a general feeling of alarm and
suspicion broke out against the sage and his sectarians. The anti-
Pythagorean risings, according to Porphyry, were sufficiently numerous
and active to be remembered for long generations afterward. Many of
the sage's friends are said to have perished, and it is doubtful
whether Pythagoras himself fell a victim to the rage of his enemies,
or died a fugitive among his disciples at Metapontum. Nor was it
until nearly the whole of Lower Italy was torn by convulsions, and
Greece herself drawn into the contest, as pacificator and arbiter,
that the ferment was allayed--the Pythagorean institutions were
abolished, and the timocratic democracies [242] of the Achaeans rose
upon the ruins of those intellectual but ungenial oligarchies.

XIX. Pythagoras committed a fatal error when, in his attempt to
revolutionize society, he had recourse to aristocracies for his
agents. Revolutions, especially those influenced by religion, can
never be worked out but by popular emotions. It was from this error
of judgment that he enlisted the people against him--for, by the
account of Neanthes, related by Porphyry [243], and, indeed, from all
other testimony, it is clearly evident that to popular, not party
commotion, his fall must be ascribed. It is no less clear that, after
his death, while his philosophical sect remained, his political code
crumbled away. The only seeds sown by philosophers, which spring up
into great states, are those that, whether for good or evil, are
planted in the hearts of the many.

XX. The purely intellectual additions made by Pythagoras to human
wisdom seem to have been vast and permanent. By probable testimony,
he added largely to mathematical science; and his discoveries in
arithmetic, astronomy, music, and geometry, constitute an era in the
history of the mind. His metaphysical and moral speculations are not
to be separated from the additions or corruptions of his disciples.
But we must at least suppose that Pythagoras established the main
proposition of the occult properties of NUMBERS, which were held to be
the principles of all things. According to this theory, unity is the
abstract principle of all perfection, and the ten elementary numbers
contain the elements of the perfect system of nature. By numbers the
origin and the substance of all things could he explained [244].
Numbers make the mystery of earth and heaven--of the gods themselves.
And this part of his system, which long continued to fool mankind, was
a sort of monstrous junction between arithmetic and magic--the most
certain of sciences with the most fantastic of chimeras. The
Pythagoreans supposed the sun, or central fire, to be the seat of
Jupiter and the principle of life. The stars were divine. Men, and
even animals, were held to have within them a portion of the celestial
nature. The soul, emanating from the celestial fire [245]--can
combine with any form of matter, and is compelled to pass through
various bodies. Adopting the Egyptian doctrine of transmigration, the
Pythagoreans coupled it with the notion of future punishment or

Much of the doctrinal morality of Pythagoras is admirable; but it is
vitiated by the ceremonial quackery connected with it. Humanity to
all things--gentleness--friendship--love--and, above all the rest,
SELF-COMMAND--form the principal recommendations of his mild and
patriarchal ethics. But, perhaps, from his desire to establish a
political fraternity--perhaps from his doubt of the capacity of
mankind to embrace Truth unadorned, enamoured only of her own beauty--
these doctrines were united with an austere and frivolous ascetism.
And virtue was but to be attained by graduating through the secret and
rigid ceremonies of academical imposture. His disciples soon pushed
the dogmas of their master into an extravagance at once dangerous and
grotesque; and what the sage designed but for symbols of a truth were
cultivated to the prejudice of the truth itself. The influence of
Pythagoras became corrupt and pernicious in proportion as the original
tenets became more and more adulterated or obscure, and served, in
succeeding ages, to invest with the sanctity of a great name the most
visionary chimeras and the most mischievous wanderings of perverted
speculation. But, looking to the man himself--his discoveries--his
designs--his genius--his marvellous accomplishments--we cannot but
consider him as one of the most astonishing persons the world ever
produced; and, if in part a mountebank and an impostor, no one,
perhaps, ever deluded others with motives more pure--from an ambition
more disinterested and benevolent.

XXI. Upon the Athenians the effect of these various philosophers was
already marked and influential. From the time of Solon there had
existed in Athens a kind of school of political philosophy [246]. But
it was not a school of refining dogmas or systematic ethics; it was
too much connected with daily and practical life to foster to any
great extent the abstract contemplations and recondite theories of
metaphysical discoveries. Mnesiphilus, the most eminent of these
immediate successors of Solon, was the instructer of Themistocles, the
very antipodes of rhetoricians and refiners. But now a new age of
philosophy was at hand. Already the Eleatic sages, Zeno and
Parmenides, had travelled to Athens, and there proclaimed their
doctrines, and Zeno numbered among his listeners and disciples the
youthful Pericles. But a far more sensible influence was exercised by
Anaxagoras of the Ionian school. For thirty years, viz., from B. C.
480 to B. C. 450, during that eventful and stirring period intervening
between the battle of Thermopylae and the commencement of the five
years' truce with Sparta, followed by the death of Cimon (B. C. 449),
this eminent and most accomplished reasoner resided in Athens [247].
His doctrines were those most cherished by Pericles, who ranked the
philosopher among his intimate friends. After an absence of some
years, he again returned to Athens; and we shall then find him
subjected to a prosecution in which religious prejudice was stimulated
by party feud. More addicted to physics than to metaphysical
research, he alarmed the national superstition by explaining on
physical principles the formation even of the celestial bodies.
According to him, the sun itself--that centre of divine perfection
with the Pythagoreans--was ejected from the earth and heated into fire
by rapid motion. He maintained that the proper study of man was the
contemplation of nature and the heavens [248]: and he refined the
Author of the universe into an intellectual principle (Nous), which
went to the root of the material causes mostly favoured by his
predecessors and contemporaries. He admitted the existence of matter,
but INTELLIGENCE was the animating and prevailing principle, creating
symmetry from chaos, imposing limit and law on all things, and
inspiring life, and sensation, and perception. His predecessors in
the Ionian school, who left the universe full of gods, had not openly
attacked the popular mythology. But the assertion of One
Intelligence, and the reduction of all else to material and physical
causes, could not but have breathed a spirit wholly inimical to the
numerous and active deities of Hellenic worship. Party feeling
against his friend and patron Pericles ultimately drew the general
suspicion into a focus; and Anaxagoras was compelled to quit Athens,
and passed the remainder of his days at Lampsacus. But his influence
survived his exile. His pupil Archelaus was the first _native
Athenian_ who taught philosophy at Athens (B. C. 450), and from him we
date the foundation of those brilliant and imperishable schools which
secured to Athens an intellectual empire long after her political
independence had died away [249]. Archelaus himself (as was the usual
custom of the earlier sages) departed widely from the tenets of his
master. He supposed that two discordant principles, fire and water,
had, by their operation, drawn all things from chaos into order, and
his metaphysics were those of unalloyed materialism. At this period,
too, or a little later, began slowly to arise in Athens the sect of
the Sophists, concerning whom so much has been written and so little
is known. But as the effects of their lessons were not for some time
widely apparent, it will be more in the order of this history to defer
to a later era an examination of the doctrines of that perverted but
not wholly pernicious school.

XXII. Enough has been now said to convey to the reader a general
notion of the prodigious rise which, in the most serene of
intellectual departments, had been made in Greece, from the appearance
of Solon to the lectures of Archelaus, who was the master of Socrates.
With the Athenians philosophy was not a thing apart from the
occupations of life and the events of history--it was not the monopoly
of a few studious minds, but was cultivated as a fashion by the young
and the well-born, the statesman, the poet, the man of pleasure, the
votary of ambition [250]. It was inseparably interwoven with their
manners, their pursuits, their glory, their decay. The history of
Athens includes in itself the history of the human mind. Science and
art--erudition and genius--all conspired--no less than the trophies of
Miltiades, the ambition of Alcibiades--the jealousy of Sparta--to the
causes of the rise and fall of Athens. And even that satire on
themselves, to which, in the immortal lampoons of Aristophanes, the
Athenian populace listened, exhibits a people whom, whatever their
errors, the world never can see again--with whom philosophy was a
pastime--with whom the Agora itself was an academe--whose coarsest
exhibitions of buffoonery and caricature sparkle with a wit, or expand
into a poetry, which attest the cultivation of the audience no less
than the genius of the author; a people, in a word, whom the stagirite
unconsciously individualized when he laid down a general proposition,
which nowhere else can be received as a truism--that the common people
are the most exquisite judges of whatever in art is graceful,
harmonious, or sublime.

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