BOOK V.

FROM THE DEATH OF CIMON, B. C. 449, TO THE DEATH OF PERICLES, IN THE
THIRD YEAR OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR, B. C. 429.

CHAPTER I.

Thucydides chosen by the Aristocratic Party to oppose Pericles.--His
Policy.--Munificence of Pericles.--Sacred War.--Battle of Coronea.--
Revolt of Euboea and Megara.--Invasion and Retreat of the
Peloponnesians.--Reduction of Euboea.--Punishment of Histiaea--A
Thirty Years' Truce concluded with the Peloponnesians.--Ostracism of
Thucydides.

I. On the death of Cimon (B. C. 449) the aristocratic party in Athens
felt that the position of their antagonists and the temper of the
times required a leader of abilities widely distinct from those which
had characterized the son of Miltiades. Instead of a skilful and
enterprising general, often absent from the city on dazzling but
distant expeditions, it was necessary to raise up a chief who could
contend for their enfeebled and disputed privileges at home, and meet
the formidable Pericles, with no unequal advantages of civil
experience and oratorical talent, in the lists of the popular
assembly, or in the stratagems of political intrigue. Accordingly
their choice fell neither on Myronides nor Tolmides, but on one who,
though not highly celebrated for military exploits, was deemed
superior to Cimon, whether as a practical statesman or a popular
orator. Thucydides, their new champion, united with natural gifts
whatever advantage might result from the memory of Cimon; and his
connexion with that distinguished warrior, to whom he was brother-in-
law, served to keep together the various partisans of the faction, and
retain to the eupatrids something of the respect and enthusiasm which
the services of Cimon could not fail to command, even among the
democracy. The policy embraced by Thucydides was perhaps the best
which the state of affairs would permit; but it was one which was
fraught with much danger. Hitherto the eupatrids and the people,
though ever in dispute, had not been absolutely and totally divided;
the struggles of either faction being headed by nobles, scarcely
permitted to the democracy the perilous advantage of the cry--that the
people were on one side, and the nobles on the other. But Thucydides,
seeking to render his party as strong, as compact, and as united as
possible, brought the main bulk of the eupatrids to act together in
one body. The means by which he pursued and attained this object are
not very clearly narrated; but it was probably by the formation of a
political club--a species of social combination, which afterward
became very common to all classes in Athens. The first effect of this
policy favoured the aristocracy, and the energy and union they
displayed restored for a while the equilibrium of parties; but the
aristocratic influence, thus made clear and open, and brought into
avowed hostility with the popular cause, the city was rent in two, and
the community were plainly invited to regard the nobles as their foes
[251]. Pericles, thus more and more thrown upon the democracy, became
identified with their interests, and he sought, no less by taste than
policy, to prove to the populace that they had grown up into a wealthy
and splendid nation, that could dispense with the bounty, the shows,
and the exhibitions of individual nobles. He lavished the superfluous
treasures of the state upon public festivals, stately processions, and
theatrical pageants. As if desirous of elevating the commons to be
themselves a nobility, all by which he appealed to their favour served
to refine their taste and to inspire the meanest Athenian with a sense
of the Athenian grandeur. It was said by his enemies, and the old
tale has been credulously repeated, that his own private fortune not
allowing him to vie with the wealthy nobles whom he opposed, it was to
supply his deficiencies from the public stock that he directed some
part of the national wealth to the encouragement of the national arts
and the display of the national magnificence. But it is more than
probable that it was rather from principle than personal ambition that
Pericles desired to discountenance and eclipse the interested bribes
to public favour with which Cimon and others had sought to corrupt the
populace. Nor was Pericles without the means or the spirit to devote
his private fortune to proper objects of generosity. "It was his
wealth and his prudence," says Plutarch, when, blaming the
improvidence of Anaxagoras, "that enabled him to relieve the
distressed." What he spent in charity he might perhaps have spent
more profitably in display, had he not conceived that charity was the
province of the citizen, magnificence the privilege of the state. It
was in perfect consonance with the philosophy that now began to spread
throughout Greece, and with which the mind of this great political
artist was so deeply imbued, to consider that the graces ennobled the
city they adorned, and that the glory of a state was intimately
connected with the polish of the people.

II. While, at home, the divisions of the state were progressing to
that point in which the struggle between the opposing leaders must
finally terminate in the ordeal of the ostracism--abroad, new causes
of hostility broke out between the Athenians and the Spartans. The
sacred city of Delphi formed a part of the Phocian station; but, from
a remote period, its citizens appear to have exercised the independent
right of managing to affairs of the temple [252], and to have elected
their own superintendents of the oracle and the treasures. In Delphi
yet lingered the trace of the Dorian institutions and the Dorian
blood, but the primitive valour and hardy virtues of the ancestral
tribe had long since mouldered away. The promiscuous intercourse of
strangers, the contaminating influence of unrelaxing imposture and
priestcraft--above all, the wealth of the city, from which the natives
drew subsistence, and even luxury, without labour [253], contributed
to enfeeble and corrupt the national character. Unable to defend
themselves by their own exertions against any enemy, the Delphians
relied on the passive protection afforded by the superstitious
reverence of their neighbours, or on the firm alliance that existed
between themselves and the great Spartan representatives of their
common Dorian race. The Athenian government could not but deem it
desirable to wrest from the Delphians the charge over the oracle and
the temple, since that charge might at any time be rendered
subservient to the Spartan cause; and accordingly they appear to have
connived at a bold attempt of the Phocians, who were now their allies.
These hardier neighbours of the sacred city claimed and forcibly
seized the right of superintendence of the temple. The Spartans,
alarmed and aroused, despatched an armed force to Delphi, and restored
their former privileges to the citizens. They piously gave to their
excursion the name of the Sacred War. Delphi formally renounced the
Phocian league, declared itself an independent state, and even defined
the boundaries between its own and the Phocian domains. Sparta was
rewarded for its aid by the privilege of precedence in consulting the
oracle, and this decree the Spartans inscribed on a brazen wolf in the
sacred city. The Athenians no longer now acted through others--they
recognised all the advantage of securing to their friends and wresting
from their foes the management of an oracle, on whose voice depended
fortune in war and prosperity in peace. Scarce had the Spartans
withdrawn, than an Athenian force, headed by Pericles, who is said to
have been freed by Anaxagoras from superstitious prejudices, entered
the city, and restored the temple to the Phocians. The same image
which had recorded the privilege of the Spartans now bore an
inscription which awarded the right of precedence to the Athenians.
The good fortune of this expedition was soon reversed.

III. When the Athenians, after the battle of Oenophyta, had
established in the Boeotian cities democratic forms of government, the
principal members of the defeated oligarchy, either from choice or by
compulsion, betook themselves to exile. These malecontents, aided, no
doubt, by partisans who did not share their banishment, now seized
upon Chaeronea, Orchomenus, and some other Boeotian towns. The
Athenians, who had valued themselves on restoring liberty to Boeotia,
and, for the first time since the Persian war, had honoured with
burial at the public expense those who fell under Myronides, could not
regard this attempt at counterrevolution with indifference. Policy
aided their love of liberty; for it must never be forgotten that the
change from democratic to oligarchic government in the Grecian states
was the formal exchange of the Athenian for the Spartan alliance. Yet
Pericles, who ever unwillingly resorted to war, and the most
remarkable attribute of whose character was a profound and calculating
caution, opposed the proposition of sending an armed force into
Boeotia. His objections were twofold--he considered the time
unseasonable, and he was averse to hazard upon an issue not
immediately important to Athens the flower of her Hoplites, or heavy-
armed soldiery, of whom a thousand had offered their services in the
enterprise. Nevertheless, the counsel of Tolmides, who was eager for
the war, and flushed with past successes, prevailed. "If," said
Pericles, "you regard not my experience, wait, at least, for the
advice of TIME, that best of counsellors." The saying was forgotten
in the popular enthusiasm it opposed--it afterward attained the
veneration of a prophecy. [254]

IV. Aided by some allied troops, and especially by his thousand
volunteers, Tolmides swept into Boeotia--reduced Chaeronea--garrisoned
the captured town, and was returning homeward, when, in the territory
of Coronea, he suddenly fell in with a hostile ambush [255], composed
of the exiled bands of Orchomenus, of Opuntian Locrians, and the
partisans of the oligarchies of Euboea. Battle ensued--the Athenians
received a signal and memorable defeat (B. C. 447); many were made
prisoners, many slaughtered: the pride and youth of the Athenian
Hoplites were left on the field; the brave and wealthy Clinias (father
to the yet more renowned Alcibiades), and Tolmides himself, were
slain. But the disaster of defeat was nothing in comparison with its
consequences. To recover their prisoners, the Athenian government
were compelled to enter into a treaty with the hostile oligarchies and
withdraw their forces from Boeotia. On their departure, the old
oligarchies everywhere replaced the friendly democracies, and the
nearest neighbours of Athens were again her foes. Nor was this change
confined to Boeotia. In Locris and Phocis the popular party fell with
the fortunes of Coronea--the exiled oligarchies were re-established--
and when we next read of these states, they are the allies of Sparta.
At home, the results of the day of Coronea were yet more important.
By the slaughter of so many of the Hoplites, the aristocratic party in
Athens were greatly weakened, while the neglected remonstrances and
fears of Pericles, now remembered, secured to him a respect and
confidence which soon served to turn the balance against his
competitor Thucydides.

V. The first defeat of the proud mistress of the Grecian sea was a
signal for the revolt of disaffected dependants. The Isle of Euboea,
the pasturages of which were now necessary to the Athenians,
encouraged by the success that at Coronea had attended the arms of the
Euboean exiles, shook off the Athenian yoke (B. C. 445). In the same
year expired the five years truce with Sparta, and that state
forthwith prepared to avenge its humiliation at Delphi. Pericles
seems once more to have been called into official power--he was not
now supine in action. At the head of a sufficient force he crossed
the channel, and landed in Euboea. Scarce had he gained the island,
when he heard that Megara had revolted--that the Megarians, joined by
partisans from Sicyon, Epidaurus, and Corinth, had put to the sword
the Athenian garrison, save a few who had ensconced themselves in
Nisaea, and that an army of the Peloponnesian confederates was
preparing to march to Attica. On receiving these tidings, Pericles
re-embarked his forces and returned home. Soon appeared the
Peloponnesian forces, commanded by the young Pleistoanax, king of
Sparta, who, being yet a minor, was placed under the guardianship of
Cleandridas; the lands by the western frontier of Attica, some of the
most fertile of that territory, were devastated, and the enemy
penetrated to Eleusis and Thria. But not a blow was struck--they
committed the aggression and departed. On their return to Sparta,
Pleistoanax and Cleandridas were accused of having been bribed to
betray the honour or abandon the revenge of Sparta. Cleandridas fled
the prosecution, and was condemned to death in his exile. Pleistoanax
also quitted the country, and took refuge in Arcadia, in the sanctuary
of Mount Lycaeum. The suspicions of the Spartans appear to have been
too well founded, and Pericles, on passing his accounts that year, is
stated to have put down ten talents [256] as devoted to a certain use
--an item which the assembly assented to in conscious and sagacious
silence. This formidable enemy retired, Pericles once more entered
Euboea, and reduced the isle (B. C. 445). In Chalcis he is said by
Plutarch to have expelled the opulent landowners, who, no doubt,
formed the oligarchic chiefs of the revolt, and colonized Histiaea
with Athenians, driving out at least the greater part of the native
population [257]. For the latter severity was given one of the
strongest apologies that the stern justice of war can plead for its
harshest sentences--the Histiaeans had captured an Athenian vessel and
murdered the crew. The rest of the island was admitted to conditions,
by which the amount of tribute was somewhat oppressively increased.
[258]

VI. The inglorious result of the Peloponnesian expedition into Attica
naturally tended to make the Spartans desirous of peace upon
honourable terms, while the remembrance of dangers, eluded rather than
crushed, could not fail to dispose the Athenian government to
conciliate a foe from whom much was to be apprehended and little
gained. Negotiations were commenced and completed (B. C. 445). The
Athenians surrendered some of the most valuable fruits of their
victories in their hold on the Peloponnesus. They gave up their claim
on Nisaea and Pegae--they renounced the footing they had established
in Troezene--they abandoned alliance or interference with Achaia, over
which their influence had extended to a degree that might reasonably
alarm the Spartans, since they had obtained the power to raise troops
in that province, and Achaean auxiliaries had served under Pericles at
the siege of Oeniadae [259]. Such were the conditions upon which a
truce of thirty years was based [260]. The articles were ostensibly
unfavourable to Athens. Boeotia was gone--Locris, Phocis, an internal
revolution (the result of Coronea) had torn from their alliance. The
citizens of Delphi must have regained the command of their oracle,
since henceforth its sacred voice was in favour of the Spartans.
Megara was lost--and now all the holds on the Peloponnesus were
surrendered. These reverses, rapid and signal, might have taught the
Athenians how precarious is ever the military eminence of small
states. But the treaty with Sparta, if disadvantageous, was not
dishonourable. It was founded upon one broad principle, without
which, indeed, all peace would have been a mockery--viz., that the
Athenians should not interfere with the affairs of the Peloponnesus.
This principle acknowledged, the surrender of advantages or conquests
that were incompatible with it was but a necessary detail. As
Pericles was at this time in office [261], and as he had struggled
against an armed interference with the Boeotian towns, so it is
probable that he followed out his own policy in surrendering all right
to interfere with the Peloponnesian states. Only by peace with Sparta
could he accomplish his vast designs for the greatness of Athens--
designs which rested not upon her land forces, but upon her confirming
and consolidating her empire of the sea; and we shall shortly find, in
our consideration of her revenues, additional reasons for approving a
peace essential to her stability.

VII. Scarce was the truce effected ere the struggle between
Thucydides and Pericles approached its crisis. The friends of the
former never omitted an occasion to charge Pericles with having too
lavishly squandered the public funds upon the new buildings which
adorned the city. This charge of extravagance, ever an accusation
sure to be attentively received by a popular assembly, made a sensible
impression. "If you think," said Pericles to the great tribunal
before which he urged his defence, "that I have expended too much,
charge the sums to my account, not yours--but on this condition, let
the edifices be inscribed with my name, not that of the Athenian
people." This mode of defence, though perhaps but an oratorical
hyperbole [262], conveyed a rebuke which the Athenians were an
audience calculated to answer but in one way--they dismissed the
accusation, and applauded the extravagance.

VIII. Accusations against public men, when unsuccessful, are the
fairest stepping-stones in their career. Thucydides failed against
Pericles. The death of Tolmides--the defeat of Coronea--the slaughter
of the Hoplites--weakened the aristocratic party; the democracy and
the democratic administration seized the occasion for a decisive
effort. Thucydides was summoned to the ostracism, and his banishment
freed Pericles from his only rival for the supreme administration of
the Athenian empire.

CHAPTER II.

Causes of the Power of Pericles.--Judicial Courts of the dependant
Allies transferred to Athens.--Sketch of the Athenian Revenues.--
Public Buildings the Work of the People rather than of Pericles.--
Vices and Greatness of Athens had the same Sources.--Principle of
Payment characterizes the Policy of the Period.--It is the Policy of
Civilization.--Colonization, Cleruchia.

I. In the age of Pericles (B. C. 444) there is that which seems to
excite, in order to disappoint, curiosity. We are fully impressed
with the brilliant variety of his gifts--with the influence he
exercised over his times. He stands in the midst of great and
immortal names, at the close of a heroic, and yet in the sudden
meridian of a civilized age. And scarcely does he recede from our
gaze, ere all the evils which only his genius could keep aloof, gather
and close around the city which it was the object of his life not less
to adorn as for festival than to crown as for command. It is almost
as if, with Pericles, her very youth departed from Athens. Yet so
scanty are our details and historical materials, that the life of this
surprising man is rather illustrated by the general light of the times
than by the blaze of his own genius. His military achievements are
not dazzling. No relics, save a few bold expressions, remain of the
eloquence which awed or soothed, excited or restrained, the most
difficult audience in the world. It is partly by analyzing the works
of his contemporaries--partly by noting the rise of the whole people--
and partly by bringing together and moulding into a whole the
scattered masses of his ambitious and thoughtful policy, that we alone
can gauge and measure the proportions of the master-spirit of the
time. The age of Pericles is the sole historian of Pericles.

This statesman was now at that period of life when public men are
usually most esteemed--when, still in the vigour of manhood, they have
acquired the dignity and experience of years, outlived the earlier
prejudices and jealousies they excited, and see themselves surrounded
by a new generation, among whom rivals must be less common than
disciples and admirers. Step by step, through a long and consistent
career, he had ascended to his present eminence, so that his rise did
not startle from its suddenness; while his birth, his services, and
his genius presented a combination of claims to power that his enemies
could not despise, and that justified the enthusiasm of his friends.
His public character was unsullied; of the general belief in his
integrity there is the highest evidence [263]; and even the few
slanders afterward raised against him--such as that of entering into
one war to gratify the resentment of Aspasia, and into another to
divert attention from his financial accounts, are libels so
unsupported by any credible authority, and so absurd in themselves,
that they are but a proof how few were the points on which calumny
could assail him.

II. The obvious mode to account for the moral power of a man in any
particular time, is to consider his own character, and to ascertain
how far it is suited to command the age in which he lived and the
people whom he ruled. No Athenian, perhaps, ever possessed so many
qualities as Pericles for obtaining wide and lasting influence over
the various classes of his countrymen. By his attention to maritime
affairs, he won the sailors, now the most difficult part of the
population to humour or control; his encouragement to commerce secured
the merchants and conciliated the alien settlers; while the stupendous
works of art, everywhere carried on, necessarily obtained the favour
of the mighty crowd of artificers and mechanics whom they served to
employ. Nor was it only to the practical interests, but to all the
more refined, yet scarce less powerful sympathies of his countrymen,
that his character appealed for support. Philosophy, with all
parties, all factions, was becoming an appetite and passion. Pericles
was rather the friend than the patron of philosophers. The increasing
refinement of the Athenians--the vast influx of wealth that poured
into the treasury from the spoils of Persia and the tributes of
dependant cities, awoke the desire of art; and the graceful intellect
of Pericles at once indulged and directed the desire, by advancing
every species of art to its perfection. The freedom of democracy--the
cultivation of the drama (which is the oratory of poetry)--the rise of
prose literature--created the necessity of popular eloquence--and with
Pericles the Athenian eloquence was born. Thus his power was derived
from a hundred sources: whether from the grosser interests--the mental
sympathies--the vanity--ambition--reason--or imagination of the
people. And in examining the character of Pericles, and noting its
harmony with his age, the admiration we bestow on himself must be
shared by his countrymen. He obtained a greater influence than
Pisistratus, but it rested solely on the free-will of the Athenians--
it was unsupported by armed force--it was subject to the laws--it
might any day be dissolved; and influence of this description is only
obtained, in free states, by men who are in themselves the likeness
and representative of the vast majority of the democracy they wield.
Even the aristocratic party that had so long opposed him appear, with
the fall of Thucydides, to have relaxed their hostilities. In fact,
they had less to resent in Pericles than in any previous leader of the
democracy. He was not, like Themistocles, a daring upstart, vying
with, and eclipsing their pretensions. He was of their own order.
His name was not rendered odious to them by party proscriptions or the
memory of actual sufferings. He himself had recalled their idol
Cimon--and in the measures that had humbled the Areopagus, so
discreetly had he played his part, or so fortunately subordinate had
been his co-operation, that the wrath of the aristocrats had fallen
only on Ephialtes. After the ostracism of Thucydides, "he became,"
says Plutarch [264], "a new man--no longer so subservient to the
multitude--and the government assumed an aristocratical, or rather
monarchical, form." But these expressions in Plutarch are not to be
literally received. The laws remained equally democratic--the agora
equally strong--Pericles was equally subjected to the popular control;
but having now acquired the confidence of the people, he was enabled
more easily to direct them, or, as Thucydides luminously observes,
"Not having obtained his authority unworthily, he was not compelled to
flatter or to sooth the popular humours, but, when occasion required,
he could even venture vehemently to contradict them." [265] The cause
which the historian assigns to the effect is one that deserves to be
carefully noted by ambitious statesmen--because the authority of
Pericles was worthily acquired, the people often suffered it to be
even unpopularly exercised. On the other hand, this far-seeing and
prudent statesman was, no doubt, sufficiently aware of the dangers to
which the commonwealth was exposed, if the discontents of the great
aristocratic faction were not in some degree conciliated, to induce
his wise and sober patriotism, if not actually to seek the favour of
his opponents, at least cautiously to shun all idle attempts to
revenge past hostilities or feed the sources of future irritation. He
owed much to the singular moderation and evenness of his temper; and
his debt to Anaxagoras must have been indeed great, if the lessons of
that preacher of those cardinal virtues of the intellect, serenity and
order, had assisted to form the rarest of all unions--a genius the
most fervid, with passions the best regulated.

III. It was about this time, too, in all probability, that Pericles
was enabled to consummate the policy he had always adopted with
respect to the tributary allies. We have seen that the treasury had
been removed from Delos to Athens; it was now resolved to make Athens
also the seat and centre of the judicial authority. The subject
allies were compelled, if not on minor, at least on all important
cases, to resort to Athenian courts of law for justice [266]. And
thus Athens became, as it were, the metropolis of the allies. A more
profound and sagacious mode of quickly establishing her empire it was
impossible for ingenuity to conceive; but as it was based upon an
oppression that must have been daily and intolerably felt--that every
affair of life must have called into irritating action, so, with the
establishment of the empire was simultaneously planted an inevitable
cause of its decay. For though power is rarely attained without
injustice, the injustice, if continued, is the never-failing principle
of its corruption. And, in order to endure, authority must hasten to
divest itself of all the more odious attributes of conquest.

IV. As a practical statesman, one principal point of view in which we
must regard Pericles is in his capacity of a financier. By English
historians his policy and pretensions in this department have not been
sufficiently considered; yet, undoubtedly, they made one of the most
prominent features of his public character in the eyes of his
countrymen. He is the first minister in Athens who undertook the
scientific management of the national revenues, and partly from his
scrupulous integrity, partly from his careful wisdom, and partly from
a fortunate concurrence of circumstances, the Athenian revenues, even
when the tribute was doubled, were never more prosperously
administered. The first great source of the revenue was from the
tributes of the confederate cities [267]. These, rated at four
hundred and sixty talents in the time of Aristides, had increased to
six hundred in the time of Pericles; but there is no evidence to prove
that the increased sum was unfairly raised, or that fresh exactions
were levied, save in rare cases [268], on the original subscribers to
the league. The increase of a hundred and forty talents is to be
accounted for partly by the quota of different confederacies acquired
since the time of Aristides, partly by the exemption from military or
maritime service, voluntarily if unwisely purchased, during the
administration of Cimon, by the states themselves. So far as tribute
was a sign of dependance and inferiority, the impost was a hardship;
but for this they who paid it are to be blamed rather than those who
received. Its practical burden on each state, at this period,
appears, in most cases, to have been incredibly light; and a very
trifling degree of research will prove how absurdly exaggerated have
been the invectives of ignorant or inconsiderate men, whether in
ancient or modern times, on the extortions of the Athenians, and the
impoverishment of their allies. Aristophanes [269] attributes to the
empire of Athens a thousand tributary cities: the number is doubtless
a poetical license; yet, when we remember the extent of territory
which the league comprehended, and how crowded with cities were all
the coasts and islands of Greece, we should probably fall short of the
number of tributary cities if we estimated it at six hundred; so that
the tribute would not in the time of Pericles average above a talent,
or 241l. 13s. 4d. [270] English money, for each city! Even when in a
time of urgent demand on the resources of the state [271], Cythera
fell into the hands of the Athenians [272], the tribute of that island
was assessed but at four talents. And we find, by inscriptions still
extant, that some places were rated only at two thousand, and even one
thousand drachmas. [273]

Finally, if the assessment by Aristides, of four hundred and sixty
talents, was such as to give universal satisfaction from its equity
and moderation, the additional hundred and forty talents in the time
of Pericles could not have been an excessive increase, when we
consider how much the league had extended, how many states had
exchanged the service for the tribute, and how considerable was the
large diffusion of wealth throughout the greater part of Greece, the
continued influx of gold [274], and the consequent fall in value of
the precious metals.

V. It was not, then, the amount of the tribute which made its
hardship, nor can the Athenian government be blamed for having
continued, a claim voluntarily conceded to them. The original object
of the tribute was the maintenance of a league against the barbarians
--the Athenians were constituted the heads of the league and the
guardians of the tribute; some states refused service and offered
money--their own offers were accepted; other states refused both--it
was not more the interest than the duty of Athens to maintain, even by
arms, the condition of the league--so far is her policy justifiable.
But she erred when she reduced allies to dependants--she erred when
she transferred the treasury from the central Delos to her own state--
she erred yet more when she appropriated a portion of these treasures
to her own purposes. But these vices of Athens are the vices of all
eminent states, monarchic or republican--for they are the vices of the
powerful. "It was," say the Athenian ambassadors in Thucydides, with
honest candour and profound truth--"it was from the nature of the
thing itself that we were at first compelled to advance our empire to
what it is--chiefly through fear--next for honour--and, lastly, for
interest; and then it seemed no longer safe for us to venture to let
go the reins of government, for the revolters would have gone over to
you" (viz., to the Spartans) [275]. Thus does the universal lesson of
history teach us that it is the tendency of power, in what hands
soever it be placed, to widen its limits, to increase its vigour, in
proportion as the counteracting force resigns the security for its
administration, or the remedy for its abuse.

VI. Pericles had not scrupled, from the date of the transfer of the
treasury to Athens, to devote a considerable proportion of the general
tribute to public buildings and sacred exhibitions--purposes purely
Athenian. But he did so openly--he sought no evasion or disguise--he
maintained in the face of Greece that the Athenians were not
responsible to the allies for these contributions; that it was the
Athenians who had resisted and defended the barbarians, while many of
the confederate states had supplied neither ships nor soldiers; that
Athens was now the head of a mighty league; and that, to increase her
glory, to cement her power, was a duty she owed no less to the allies
than to herself. Arguments to which armies, and not orators, could
alone reply. [276]

The principal other sources whence the Athenian revenue was derived,
it may be desirable here to state as briefly and as clearly as the
nature of the subject will allow. By those who would search more
deeply, the long and elaborate statistics of Boeckh must be carefully
explored. Those sources of revenue were--

1st. Rents from corporate estates--such as pastures, forests, rivers,
salt-works, houses, theatres, etc., and mines, let for terms of years,
or on heritable leases.

2dly. Tolls, export and import duties, probably paid only by
strangers, and amounting to two per cent., a market excise, and the
twentieth part of all exports and imports levied in the dependant
allied cities--the last a considerable item.

3dly. Tithes, levied only on lands held in usufruct, as estates
belonging to temples.

4thly. A protection tax [277], paid by the settlers, or Metoeci,
common to most of the Greek states, but peculiarly productive in
Athens from the number of strangers that her trade, her festivals, and
her renown attracted. The policy of Pericles could not fail to
increase this source of revenue.

5thly. A slave tax of three obols per head. [278]

Most of these taxes appear to have been farmed out.

6thly. Judicial fees and fines. As we have seen that the allies in
most important trials were compelled to seek justice in Athens, this,
in the time of Pericles, was a profitable source of income. But it
was one, the extent of which necessarily depended upon peace.

Fines were of many classes, but not, at least in this period, of very
great value to the state. Sometimes (as in all private accusations)
the fine fell to the plaintiff, sometimes a considerable proportion
enriched the treasury of the tutelary goddess. The task of assessing
the fines was odious, and negligently performed by the authorities,
while it was easy for those interested to render a false account of
their property.

Lastly. The state received the aid of annual contributions, or what
were termed liturgies, from individuals for particular services.

The ordinary liturgies were, 1st. The Choregia, or duty of furnishing
the chorus for the plays--tragic, comic, and satirical--of
remunerating the leader of the singers and musicians--of maintaining
the latter while trained--of supplying the dresses, the golden crowns
and masks, and, indeed, the general decorations and equipments of the
theatre. He on whom this burdensome honour fell was called Choregus;
his name, and that of his tribe, was recorded on the tripod which
commemorated the victory of the successful poet, whose performances
were exhibited. [279]

2dly. The Gymnasiarchy, or charge of providing for the expense of the
torch-race, celebrated in honour of the gods of fire, and some other
sacred games. In later times the gymnasiarchy comprised the
superintendence of the training schools, and the cost of ornamenting
the arena.

3dly. The Architheoria, or task of maintaining the embassy to sacred
games and festivals.

And, 4thly, the Hestiasis, or feasting of the tribes, a costly
obligation incurred by some wealthy member of each tribe for
entertaining the whole of the tribe at public, but not very luxurious,
banquets. This last expense did not often occur. The hestiasis was
intended for sacred objects, connected with the rites of hospitality,
and served to confirm the friendly intercourse between the members of
the tribe.

These three ordinary liturgies had all a religious character; they
were compulsory on those possessed of property not less than three
talents--they were discharged in turn by the tribes, except when
volunteered by individuals.

VII. The expenses incurred for the defence or wants of the state were
not regular, but extraordinary liturgies--such as the TRIERARCHY, or
equipment of ships, which entailed also the obligation of personal
service on those by whom the triremes were fitted out. Personal
service was indeed the characteristic of all liturgies, a property-
tax, which was not yet invented, alone excepted; and this, though
bearing the name, has not the features, of a liturgy. Of the
extraordinary liturgies, the trierarchy was the most important. It
was of very early origin. Boeckh observes [280] that it was mentioned
in the time of Hippias. At the period of which we treat each vessel
had one trierarch. The vessel was given to the trierarch, sometimes
ready equipped; he also received the public money for certain
expenses; others fell on himself [281]. Occasionally, but rarely, an
ambitious or patriotic trierarch defrayed the whole cost; but in any
case he rendered strict account of the expenses incurred. The cost of
a whole trierarchy was not less than forty minas, nor more than a
talent.

VIII. Two liturgies could not be demanded simultaneously from any
individual, nor was he liable to any one more often than every other
year. He who served the trierarchies was exempted from all other
contributions. Orphans were exempted till the year after they had
obtained their majority, and a similar exemption was, in a very few
instances, the reward of eminent public services. The nine archons
were also exempted from the trierarchies.

IX. The moral defects of liturgies were the defects of a noble
theory, which almost always terminates in practical abuses. Their
principle was that of making it an honour to contribute to the public
splendour or the national wants. Hence, in the earlier times, an
emulation among the rich to purchase favour by a liberal, but often
calculating and interested ostentation; hence, among the poor,
actuated by an equal ambition, was created so great a necessity for
riches as the means to power [282], that the mode by which they were
to be acquired was often overlooked. What the theory designed as the
munificence of patriotism, became in practice but a showy engine of
corruption; and men vied with each other in the choregia or the
trierarchy, not so much for the sake of service done to the state, as
in the hope of influence acquired over the people. I may also
observe, that in a merely fiscal point of view, the principle of
liturgies was radically wrong; that principle went to tax the few
instead of the many; its operation was therefore not more unequal in
its assessments than it was unproductive to the state in proportion to
its burden on individuals.

X. The various duties were farmed--a pernicious plan of finance
common to most of the Greek states. The farmers gave sureties, and
punctuality was rigorously exacted from them, on penalty of
imprisonment, the doubling of the debt, the confiscation of their
properties, the compulsory hold upon their sureties.

XI. Such were the main sources of the Athenian revenue.
Opportunities will occur to fill up the brief outline and amplify each
detail. This sketch is now presented to the reader as comprising a
knowledge necessary to a clear insight into the policy of Pericles. A
rapid glance over the preceding pages will suffice to show that it was
on a rigid avoidance of all unnecessary war--above all, of distant and
perilous enterprises, that the revenue of Athens rested. Her
commercial duties--her tax on settlers--the harvest of judicial fees,
obtained from the dependant allies--the chief profits from the mines--
all rested upon the maintenance of peace: even the foreign tribute,
the most productive of the Athenian resources, might fail at once, if
the Athenian arms should sustain a single reverse, as indeed it did
after the fatal battle of Aegospotamos [283]. This it was which might
have shown to the great finance minister that peace with the
Peloponnesus could scarce be too dearly purchased [284]. The
surrender of a few towns and fortresses was nothing in comparison with
the arrest and paralysis of all the springs of her wealth, which would
be the necessary result of a long war upon her own soil. For this
reason Pericles strenuously checked all the wild schemes of the
Athenians for extended empire. Yet dazzled with the glories of Cimon,
some entertained the hopes of recovering Egypt, some agitated the
invasion of the Persian coasts; the fair and fatal Sicily already
aroused the cupidity and ambition of others; and the vain enthusiasts
of the Agora even dreamed of making that island the base and centre of
a new and vast dominion, including Carthage on one hand and Etruria on
the other [285]. Such schemes it was the great object of Pericles to
oppose. He was not less ambitious for the greatness of Athens than
the most daring of these visionaries; but he better understood on what
foundations it should be built. His objects were to strengthen the
possessions already acquired, to confine the Athenian energies within
the frontiers of Greece, and to curb, as might better be done by peace
than war, the Peloponnesian forces to their own rocky barriers. The
means by which he sought to attain these objects were, 1st, by a
maritime force; 2dly, by that inert and silent power which springs as
it were from the moral dignity and renown of a nation; whatever, in
this latter respect, could make Athens illustrious, made Athens
formidable.

XII. Then rapidly progressed those glorious fabrics which seemed, as
Plutarch gracefully expresses it, endowed with the bloom of a
perennial youth. Still the houses of private citizens remained simple
and unadorned; still were the streets narrow and irregular; and even
centuries afterward, a stranger entering Athens would not at first
have recognised the claims of the mistress of Grecian art. But to the
homeliness of her common thoroughfares and private mansions, the
magnificence of her public edifices now made a dazzling contrast. The
Acropolis, that towered above the homes and thoroughfares of men--a
spot too sacred for human habitation--became, to use a proverbial
phrase, "a city of the gods." The citizen was everywhere to be
reminded of the majesty of the STATE--his patriotism was to be
increased by the pride in her beauty--his taste to be elevated by the
spectacle of her splendour. Thus flocked to Athens all who throughout
Greece were eminent in art. Sculptors and architects vied with each
other in adorning the young empress of the seas [286]; then rose the
masterpieces of Phidias, of Callicrates, of Mnesicles [287], which
even, either in their broken remains, or in the feeble copies of
imitators less inspired, still command so intense a wonder, and
furnish models so immortal. And if, so to speak, their bones and
relics excite our awe and envy, as testifying of a lovelier and
grander race, which the deluge of time has swept away, what, in that
day, must have been their brilliant effect--unmutilated in their fair
proportions--fresh in all their lineaments and hues? For their beauty
was not limited to the symmetry of arch and column, nor their
materials confined to the marbles of Pentelicus and Paros. Even the
exterior of the temples glowed with the richest harmony of colours,
and was decorated with the purest gold; an atmosphere peculiarly
favourable both to the display and the preservation of art, permitted
to external pediments and friezes all the minuteness of ornament--all
the brilliancy of colours; such as in the interior of Italian churches
may yet be seen--vitiated, in the last, by a gaudy and barbarous
taste. Nor did the Athenians spare any cost upon the works that were,
like the tombs and tripods of their heroes, to be the monuments of a
nation to distant ages, and to transmit the most irrefragable proof
"that the power of ancient Greece was not an idle legend." [288] The
whole democracy were animated with the passion of Pericles; and when
Phidias recommended marble as a cheaper material than ivory for the
great statue of Minerva, it was for that reason that ivory was
preferred by the unanimous voice of the assembly. Thus, whether it
were extravagance or magnificence, the blame in one case, the
admiration in another, rests not more with the minister than the
populace. It was, indeed, the great characteristic of those works,
that they were entirely the creations of the people: without the
people, Pericles could not have built a temple or engaged a sculptor.
The miracles of that day resulted from the enthusiasm of a population
yet young--full of the first ardour for the beautiful--dedicating to
the state, as to a mistress, the trophies, honourably won or the
treasures injuriously extorted--and uniting the resources of a nation
with the energy of an individual, because the toil, the cost, were
borne by those who succeeded to the enjoyment and arrogated the glory.

XIII. It was from two sources that Athens derived her chief political
vices; 1st, Her empire of the seas and her exactions from her allies;
2dly, an unchecked, unmitigated democratic action, void of the two
vents known in all modern commonwealths--the press, and a
representative, instead of a popular, assembly. But from these
sources she now drew all her greatness also, moral and intellectual.
Before the Persian war, and even scarcely before the time of Cimon,
Athens cannot be said to have eclipsed her neighbours in the arts and
sciences. She became the centre and capital of the most polished
communities of Greece, and she drew into a focus all the Grecian
intellect; she obtained from her dependants the wealth to administer
the arts, which universal traffic and intercourse taught her to
appreciate; and thus the Odeon, and the Parthenon, and the Propylaea
arose! During the same administration, the fortifications were
completed, and a third wall, parallel [289] and near to that uniting
Piraeus with Athens, consummated the works of Themistocles and Cimon,
and preserved the communication between the twofold city, even should
the outer walls fall into the hands of an enemy.

But honour and wealth alone would not have sufficed for the universal
emulation, the universal devotion to all that could adorn or exalt the
nation. It was the innovations of Aristides and Ephialtes that
breathed into that abstract and cold formality, THE STATE, the breath
and vigour of a pervading people, and made the meanest citizen
struggle for Athens with that zeal with which an ambitious statesman
struggles for himself [290]. These two causes united reveal to us the
true secret why Athens obtained a pre-eminence in intellectual
grandeur over the rest of Greece. Had Corinth obtained the command of
the seas and the treasury of Delos--had Corinth established abroad a
power equally arbitrary and extensive, and at home a democracy equally
broad and pure--Corinth might have had her Pericles and Demosthenes,
her Phidias, her Sophocles, her Aristophanes, her Plato--and posterity
might not have allowed the claim of Athens to be the Hellas Hellados,
"the Greece of Greece."

XIV. But the increase of wealth bounded not its effects to these
magnificent works of art--they poured into and pervaded the whole
domestic policy of Athens. We must recollect, that as the greatness
of the state was that of the democracy, so its treasures were the
property of the free population. It was the people who were rich; and
according to all the notions of political economy in that day, the
people desired practically to enjoy their own opulence. Thus was
introduced the principal of payment for service, and thus was
sanctioned and legalized the right of a common admission to
spectacles, the principal cost of which was defrayed from common
property. That such innovations would he the necessary and
unavoidable result of an overflowing treasury in a state thus
democratic is so obvious, that nothing can be more absurd than to lay
the blame of the change upon Pericles. He only yielded to, and
regulated the irresistible current of the general wish. And we may
also observe, that most of those innovations, which were ultimately
injurious to Athens, rested upon the acknowledged maxims of modern
civilization; some were rather erroneous from details than principles;
others, from the want of harmony between the new principles and the
old constitution to which then were applied. Each of the elements
might be healthful--amalgamated, they produced a poison.

XV. It is, for instance, an axiom in modern politics that judges
should receive a salary [291]. During the administration of Pericles,
this principle was applied to the dicasts in the popular courts of
judicature. It seems probable that the vast accession of law business
which ensued from the transfer of the courts in the allied states to
the Athenian tribunal was the cause of this enactment. Lawsuits
became so common, that it was impossible, without salaries, that the
citizens could abandon their own business for that of others. Payment
was, therefore, both equitable and unavoidable, and, doubtless, it
would have seemed to the Athenians, as now to us, the best means, not
only of securing the attention, but of strengthening the integrity, of
the judges or the jurors. The principle of salaries was, therefore,
right, but its results were evil, when applied to the peculiar
constitution of the courts. The salary was small--the judges
numerous, and mostly of the humblest class--the consequences I have
before shown [292]. Had the salaries been high and the number of the
judges small, the means of a good judicature would have been attained.
But, then, according to the notions, not only of the Athenians, but of
all the Hellenic democracies, the democracy itself, of which the
popular courts were deemed the constitutional bulwark and the vital
essence, would have been at an end. In this error, therefore, however
fatal it might be, neither Pericles nor the Athenians, but the
theories of the age, are to be blamed [293]. It is also a maxim
formerly acted upon in England, to which many political philosophers
now incline, and which is yet adopted in the practice of a great and
enlightened portion of the world, that the members of the legislative
assembly should receive salaries. This principle was now applied in
Athens [294]. But there the people themselves were the legislative
assembly, and thus a principle, perhaps sound in itself, became
vitiated to the absurdity of the people as sovereign paying the people
as legislative. Yet even this might have been necessary to the
preservation of the constitution, as meetings became numerous and
business complicated; for if the people had not been tempted and even
driven to assemble in large masses, the business of the state would
have been jobbed away by active minorities, and the life of a
democracy been lost [295]. The payment was first one obolus--
afterward increased to three. Nor must we suppose, as the ignorance
or effrontery of certain modern historians has strangely asserted,
that in the new system of payments the people were munificent only to
themselves. The senate was paid--the public advocates and orators
were paid--so were the ambassadors, the inspectors of the youths in
the trading schools, the nomothetae or law-commissioners, the
physicians, the singers, even the poets; all the servants of the
different officers received salaries. And now, as is the inevitable
consequence of that civilization in a commercial society which
multiplies and strongly demarcates the divisions of labour, the safety
of the state no longer rested solely upon the unpurchased arms and
hearts of its citizens--but not only were the Athenians themselves who
served as soldiers paid, but foreign mercenaries were engaged--a
measure in consonance with the characteristic policy of Pericles,
which was especially frugal of the lives of the citizens. But
peculiar to the Athenians of all the Grecian states was the humane and
beautiful provision for the poor, commenced under Solon or
Pisistratus. At this happy and brilliant period few were in need of
it--war and disaster, while they increased the number of the
destitute, widened the charity of the state.

XVI. Thus, then, that general system of payment which grew up under
Pericles, and produced many abuses under his successors, was, after
all, but the necessary result of the increased civilization and
opulence of the period. Nor can we wonder that the humbler or the
middle orders, who, from their common stock, lavished generosity upon
genius [296], and alone, of all contemporaneous states, gave relief to
want--who maintained the children of all who died in war--who awarded
remunerations for every service, should have deemed it no grasping
exaction to require for their own attendance on offices forced on them
by the constitution a compensation for the desertion of their private
affairs, little exceeding that which was conferred upon the very
paupers of the state. [297]

XVII. But there was another abuse which sprang out of the wealth of
the people, and that love for spectacles and exhibitions which was
natural to the lively Ionic imagination, and could not but increase as
leisure and refinement became boons extended to the bulk of the
population--an abuse trifling in itself--fatal in the precedent it
set. While the theatre was of wood, free admissions were found to
produce too vast a concourse for the stability of the building; and
once, indeed, the seats gave way. It was, therefore, long before the
present period, deemed advisable to limit the number of the audience
by a small payment of two obols for each seat; and this continued
after a stately edifice of stone replaced the wooden temple of the
earlier drama.

But as riches flowed into the treasury, and as the drama became more
and more the most splendid and popular of the national exhibitions, it
seemed but just to return to the ancient mode of gratuitous
admissions. It was found, however, convenient, partly, perhaps, for
greater order and for the better allotment of the seats--partly, also,
for the payment of several expenses which fell not on the state, but
individuals--and partly, no doubt, to preserve the distinctions
between the citizens and the strangers, to maintain the prices, but to
allow to those whose names were enrolled in the book of the citizens
the admittance money from the public treasury. This fund was called
the THEORICON. But the example once set, Theorica were extended to
other festivals besides those of the drama [298], and finally, under
the plausible and popular pretext of admitting the poorer classes to
those national or religious festivals, from which, as forming the bulk
of the nation, it was against the theory of the constitution to
exclude them, paved the way to lavish distributions of the public
money, which at once tended to exhaust the wealth of the state, and to
render effeminate and frivolous the spirit of the people. But these
abuses were not yet visible: on the contrary, under Pericles, the
results of the Theoricon were highly favourable to the manners and
genius of the people. Art was thus rendered the universal right, and
while refinement of taste became diffused, the patriotism of the
citizens was increased by the consciousness that they were the common
and legitimate arbiters of all which augmented the splendour and
renown of Athens.

Thus, in fact, the after evils that resulted from the more popular
part of the internal policy of Pericles, it was impossible to foresee;
they originated not in a single statement, but in the very nature of
civilization. And as in despotisms, a coarse and sensual luxury, once
established, rots away the vigour and manhood of a conquering people,
so in this intellectual republic it was the luxury of the intellect
which gradually enervated the great spirit of the victor race of
Marathon and Salamis, and called up generations of eloquent talkers
and philosophical dreamers from the earlier age of active freemen,
restless adventurers, and hardy warriors. The spirit of poetry, or
the pampered indulgence of certain faculties to the prejudice of
others, produced in a whole people what it never fails to produce in
the individual: it unfitted them just as they grew up into a manhood
exposed to severer struggles than their youth had undergone--for the
stern and practical demands of life; and suffered the love of the
beautiful to subjugate or soften away the common knowledge of the
useful. Genius itself became a disease, and poetry assisted towards
the euthanasia of the Athenians.

XVIII. As all the measures of Pericles were directed towards
consolidating the Athenian empire, so under his administration was not
omitted the politic expedient of colonization. Of late years, states
having become confirmed and tribes settled, the Grecian migrations
were far less frequent than of old; and one principal cause of
colonization, in the violent feud of parties, and the expulsion of a
considerable number of citizens, arose from the disasters of infant
communities, and was no longer in force under the free but strong
government of Athens. As with the liberties fell the commerce of
Miletus and Ionia, so also another principal source of the old
colonization became comparatively languid and inert. But now, under
the name of Cleruchi [299], a new description of colonists arose--
colonists by whom the mother country not only draughted off a
redundant population, or rid herself of restless adventurers, but
struck the roots of her empire in the various places that came under
her control. In the classic as in the feudal age, conquest gave the
right to the lands of the conquered country. Thus had arisen, and
thus still existed, upon the plundered lands of Laconia, the
commonwealth of Sparta--thus were maintained the wealthy and luxurious
nobles of Thessaly--and thus, in fine, were created all the ancient
Dorian oligarchies. After the return of the Heraclidae, this mode of
consummating conquest fell into disuse, not from any moral conviction
of its injustice, but because the wars between the various states
rarely terminated in victories so complete as to permit the seizure of
the land and the subjugation of the inhabitants. And it must be ever
remembered, that the old Grecian tribes made war to procure a
settlement, and not to increase dominion. The smallness of their
population rendered human life too valuable to risk its waste in the
expeditions that characterized the ambition of the leaders of oriental
hordes. But previous to the Persian wars, the fertile meadows of
Euboea presented to the Athenians a temptation it could scarcely be
expected that victorious neighbours would have the abstinence to
forego; and we have seen that they bestowed the lands of the
Hippobotae on Athenian settlers. These colonists evacuated their
possessions during the Persian war: the Hippobotae returned, and seem
to have held quiet, but probably tributary, possession of their
ancient estates, until after the recent retreat of the Peloponnesians.
Pericles defeated and displaced them; their lands fell once more to
Athenian colonists; and the north of Euboea was protected and
garrisoned by the erection of Oreus, a new town that supplanted the
old Histiaea. Territories in Scyros, Lemnos, and Imbros had been also
bestowed on Athenian settlers during the earlier successes of the
Athenian arms--and the precedent thus set, examples became more
numerous, under the profound and systematic policy of Pericles. This
mode of colonization, besides the ordinary advantages of all
colonization, proffered two peculiar to itself. In the first place,
it supplied the deficiency of land, which was one of the main
inconveniences of Attica, and rewarded the meritorious or appeased the
avaricious citizens, with estates which it did not impoverish the
mother country to grant. 2dly. It secured the conquests of the state
by planting garrisons which it cost little to maintain [300]. Thus
were despatched by Pericles a thousand men to the valuable possessions
in the Chersonese, two hundred and fifty to Andros, five hundred to
Naxos, a thousand to Thrace. At another period, the date of which is
uncertain, but probably shortly subsequent to the truce with the
Peloponnesians, a large fleet, commanded by Pericles, swept the
Euxine, in order to awe and impress the various states and nations
along the adjacent coasts, whether Greek or barbarian, with the
display of the Athenian power; and the city of Sinope, being at that
time divided with contentions for and against its tyrant Timesilaus,
the republican party applied to the head of the Greek democracies for
aid. Lamachus, a warrior to whose gallant name, afterward
distinguished in the Peloponnesian war, Aristophanes has accorded the
equal honour of his ridicule and his praise, was intrusted with
thirteen galleys and a competent force for the expulsion of the tyrant
and his adherents. The object effected, the new government of Sinope
rewarded six hundred Athenians with the freedom of the city and the
estates of the defeated faction.

While thus Athens fixed her footing on remoter lands, gradually her
grasp extended over the more near and necessary demesnes of Euboea,
until the lands of more than two thirds of that island were in the
possession of Athenians [301]. At a later period, new opportunities
gave rise to new cleruchiae. [302]

XIX. Besides these cleruchiae, in the second year of the supreme
administration of Pericles a colony, properly so called, was
established in Western Italy--interesting alike from the great names
of its early adventurers, the beauty of its site, and from the
circumstance of its being, besides that at Amphipolis, the only pure
and legitimate colony [303], in contradistinction to the cleruchiae,
founded by Athens, since her ancient migrations to Ionia and the
Cyclades. Two centuries before, some Achaeans, mingled with
Troezenians, had established, in the fertile garden of Magna Graecia,
the state of Sybaris. Placed between two rivers, the Crathis and the
Sybaris--possessing extraordinary advantages of site and climate, this
celebrated colony rose with unparalleled rapidity to eminence in war
and luxury in peace. So great were its population and resources, that
it is said by Diodorus to have brought at one time three hundred
thousand men into the field--an army which doubled that which all
Greece could assemble at Plataea! The exaggeration is evident; but it
still attests the belief of a populousness and power which must have
rested upon no fabulous foundation. The state of Sybaris had
prospered for a time by the adoption of a principle which is ever apt
to force civilization to premature development, and not unfrequently
to end in the destruction of national character and internal
stability--viz., it opened its arms to strangers of every tribe and
class. Thronged by mercantile adventurers, its trade, like that of
Agrigentum, doubtless derived its sources from the oil and wine which
it poured into the harbours of Africa and Gaul. As with individuals,
so with states, wealth easily obtained is prodigally spent, and the
effeminate and voluptuous ostentation of Sybaris passed into a proverb
more enduring than her prosperity. Her greatness, acquired by a
tempered and active democracy, received a mortal blow by the
usurpation of a tyrant named Telys, who, in 510 B. C., expelled five
hundred of the principal citizens. Croton received the exiles, a war
broke out, and in the same year, or shortly afterward, the
Crotoniates, under Milo, defeated the Sybarites with prodigious
slaughter, and the city was abandoned to pillage, and left desolate
and ruined. Those who survived fled to Laos and Scidrus. Fifty-eight
years afterward, aided by some Thessalians, the exiled Sybarites again
sought possession of their former settlement, but were speedily
expelled by the Crotoniates. It was now that they applied to Sparta
and Athens for assistance. The former state had neither population to
spare, nor commerce to strengthen, nor ambition to gratify, and
rejected the overtures of the Sybarite envoys. But a different
success awaited the exiles at Athens. Their proposition, timed in a
period when it was acceptable to the Athenian policy (B. C. 443), was
enforced by Pericles. Adventurers from all parts of Greece, but
invited especially from the Peloponnesus, swelled the miscellaneous
band: eminent among the rest were Lysias, afterward so celebrated as a
rhetorician [304], and Herodotus, the historian.

As in the political code of Greece the religious character of the
people made a prevailing principle, so in colonization the deity of
the parent state transplanted his worship with his votaries, and the
relation between the new and the old country was expressed and
perpetuated by the touching symbol of taking fire from the Prytaneum
of the native city. A renowned diviner, named Lampon [305], whose
sacred pretensions did not preserve him from the ridicule of the comic
poets [306], accompanied the emigrants (B. C. 440), and an oracle
dictated the site of the new colony near the ancient city, and by the
fountain of Thurium. The Sybarites, with the common vanity of men
whose ancestors have been greater than themselves, increased their
pretensions in proportion as they lost their power; they affected
superiority over their companions, by whose swords alone they again
existed as a people; claimed the exclusive monopoly of the principal
offices of government, and the first choice of lands; and were finally
cut off by the very allies whose aid they had sought, and whose
resentment they provoked. New adventurers from Greece replaced the
Sybarites, and the colonists of Thurium, divided into ten tribes
(four, the representatives of the united Ionians, Euboeans, Islanders,
and Athenians; three of the Peloponnesians; and three of the settlers
from Northern Greece)--retained peaceable possession of their
delightful territory, and harmonized their motley numbers by the
adoption of the enlightened laws and tranquil institutions of
Charondas. Such was the home of Herodotus, the historian.

CHAPTER III.

Revision of the Census.--Samian War.--Sketch of the Rise and Progress
of the Athenian Comedy to the Time of Aristophanes.

I. In proportion as it had become matter of honourable pride and
lucrative advantage to be a citizen of Athens, it was natural that the
laws defining and limiting the freedom of the city should increase in
strictness. Even before the time of Themistocles, those only were
considered legitimate [307] who, on either side, derived parentage
from Athenian citizens. But though illegitimate, they were not
therefore deprived of the rights of citizenship; nor had the stain
upon his birth been a serious obstacle to the career of Themistocles
himself. Under Pericles, the law became more severe, and a decree was
passed (apparently in the earlier period of his rising power), which
excluded from the freedom of the city those whose parents were not
both Athenian. In the very year in which he attained the supreme
administration of affairs, occasion for enforcing the law occurred:
Psammetichus, the pretender to the Egyptian throne, sent a present of
corn to the Athenian people (B. C. 444); the claimants for a share in
the gift underwent the ordeal of scrutiny as to their titles to
citizenship, and no less than five thousand persons were convicted of
having fraudulently foisted themselves into rights which were now
tantamount to property; they were disfranchised [308]; and the whole
list of the free citizens was reduced to little more than fourteen
thousand. [309]

II. While under this brilliant and energetic administration Athens
was daily more and more concentrating on herself the reluctant
admiration and the growing fears of Greece, her policy towards her
dependant allies involved her in a war which ultimately gave, if not a
legal, at least an acknowledged, title to the pretensions she assumed.
Hostilities between the new population of Miletus and the oligarchic
government of Samos had been for some time carried on; the object of
contention was the city of Priene--united, apparently, with rival
claims upon Anaea, a town on the coast opposite Samos. The Milesians,
unsuccessful in the war, applied to Athens for assistance. As the
Samians were among the dependant allies, Pericles, in the name of the
Athenian people, ordered them to refer to Athens the decision of the
dispute; on their refusal an expedition of forty galleys was conducted
against them by Pericles in person. A still more plausible colour
than that of the right of dictation was given to this interference;
for the prayer of the Milesians was backed and sanctioned by many of
the Samians themselves, oppressed by the oligarchic government which
presided over them. A ridiculous assertion was made by the libellers
of the comic drama and the enemies of Pericles, that the war was
undertaken at the instigation of Aspasia, with whom that minister had
formed the closest connexion; but the expedition was the necessary and
unavoidable result of the twofold policy by which the Athenian
government invariably directed its actions; 1st, to enforce the right
of ascendency over its allies; 2dly, to replace oligarchic by
democratic institutions. Nor, on this occasion, could Athens have
remained neutral or supine without materially weakening her hold upon
all the states she aspired at once to democratize and to govern.

III. The fleet arrived at Samos--the oligarchic government was
deposed--one hundred hostages (fifty men--fifty boys) from its
partisans were taken and placed at Lemnos, and a garrison was left to
secure the new constitution of the island. Some of the defeated
faction took refuge on the Asiatic continent--entered into an intrigue
with the Persian Pissuthnes, satrap of Sardis; and having, by
continued correspondence with their friends at Samos, secured
connivance at their attempt, they landed by night at Samos with a
hired force of seven hundred soldiers, and succeeded in mastering the
Athenian garrison, and securing the greater part of the chiefs of the
new administration; while, by a secret and well-contrived plot, they
regained their hostages left at Lemnos. They then openly proclaimed
their independence--restored the oligarchy--and, as a formal proof of
defiance, surrendered to Pissuthnes the Athenians they had captured.
Byzantium hastened to join the revolt. Their alliance with Pissuthnes
procured the Samians the promised aid of a Phoenician fleet, and they
now deemed themselves sufficiently strong to renew their hostilities
with Miletus. Their plans were well laid, and their boldness made a
considerable impression on the states hostile to Athens. Among the
Peloponnesian allies it was debated whether or not, despite the
treaty, the Samians should be assisted: opinions were divided, but
Corinth [310], perhaps, turned the scale, by insisting on the right of
every state to deal with its dependants. Corinth had herself colonies
over which she desired to preserve a dictatorial sway; and she was
disposed to regard the Samian revolution less as the gallantry of
freemen than the enterprise of rebels. It was fortunate, too,
perhaps, for Athens, that the Samian insurgents had sought their ally
in the Persian satrap; nor could the Peloponnesian states at that time
have decorously assisted the Persian against the Athenian arms. But
short time for deliberation was left by a government which procured
for the Athenians the character to be not more quick to contrive than
to execute--to be the only people who could simultaneously project and
acquire--and who even considered a festival but as a day on which some
necessary business could be accomplished [311]. With a fleet of sixty
sail, Pericles made for Samos; some of the vessels were stationed on
the Carian coast to watch the movements of the anticipated Phoenician
re-enforcement; others were despatched to collect aid from Chios and
Lesbos. Meanwhile, though thus reduced to forty-four sail, Pericles,
near a small island called Tragia, engaged the Samian fleet returning
from Miletus, consisting of seventy vessels, and gained a victory.
Then, re-enforced by forty galleys from Athens, and twenty-five from
Lesbos and Chios, he landed on the island, defeated the Samians in a
pitched battle, drove them into their city, invested it with a triple
line of ramparts, and simultaneously blockaded the city by sea. The
besieged were not, however, too discouraged to sally out; and, under
Melissus, who was at once a philosopher and a hero, they even obtained
advantage in a seafight. But these efforts were sufficiently
unimportant to permit Pericles to draw off sixty of his vessels, and
steer along the Carian coast to meet the expected fleet of the
Phoenicians. The besieged did not suffer the opportunity thus
afforded them to escape--they surprised the naval blockading force,
destroyed the guard-ships, and joining battle with the rest of the
fleet, obtained a decisive victory (B. C. 440), which for fourteen
days left them the mastery of the open sea, and enabled them to
introduce supplies.

IV. While lying in wait for the Phoenician squadron, which did not,
however, make its appearance, tidings of the Samian success were
brought to Pericles. He hastened back and renewed the blockade--fresh
forces were sent to his aid--from Athens, forty-eight ships, under
three generals, Thucydides [312], Agnon, and Phormio; followed by
twenty more under Tlepolemus and Anticles, while Chios and Lesbos
supplied an additional squadron of thirty. Still the besieged were
not disheartened; they ventured another engagement, which was but an
ineffectual struggle, and then, shut up within their city, stood a
siege of nine months.

With all the small Greek states it had ever been the policy of
necessity to shun even victories attended with great loss. This
policy was refined by Pericles into a scientific system. In the
present instance, he avoided all assaults which might weaken his
forces, and preferred the loss of time to the loss of life. The
tedious length of the blockade occasioned some murmurs among the
lively and impatient forces he commanded; but he is said to have
diverted the time by the holyday devices, which in the middle ages
often so graced and softened the rugged aspect of war. The army was
divided into eight parts, and by lot it was decided which one of the
eight divisions should, for the time, encounter the fatigues of actual
service; the remaining seven passed the day in sports and feasting
[313]. A concourse of women appear to have found their way to the
encampment [314], and a Samian writer ascribes to their piety or their
gratitude the subsequent erection of a temple to Venus. The siege,
too, gave occasion to Pericles to make experiment of military engines,
which, if invented before, probably now received mechanical
improvement. Although, in the earlier contest, mutual animosities had
been so keen that the prisoners on either side had been contumeliously
branded [315], it was, perhaps, the festive and easy manner in which
the siege was afterward carried on, that, mitigating the bitterness of
prolonged hostilities, served to procure, at last, for the Samians
articles of capitulation more than usually mild. They embraced the
conditions of demolishing their fortifications, delivering up their
ships, and paying by instalments a portion towards the cost of the
siege [316]. Byzantium, which, commanding the entrance of the Euxine,
was a most important possession to the Athenians [317], whether for
ambition or for commerce, at the same time accepted, without
resistance, the terms held out to it, and became once more subject to
the Athenian empire.

V. On his return, Pericles was received with an enthusiasm which
attested the sense entertained of the value of his conquest. He
pronounced upon those who had fallen in the war a funeral oration.
[318] When he descended from the rostrum, the women crowded round and
showered fillets and chaplets on the eloquent victor. Elpinice, the
sister of Cimon, alone shared not the general enthusiasm. "Are these
actions," she said to Pericles, "worthy of chaplets and garlands?
actions purchased by the loss of many gallant citizens--not won
against the Phoenician and the Mede, like those of Cimon, but by the
ruin of a city united with ourselves in amity and origin." The ready
minister replied to the invective of Elpinice by a line from
Archilochus, which, in alluding to the age and coquetry of the lady,
probably answered the oratorical purpose of securing the laugh on his
own side. [319]

While these events confirmed the authority of Athens and the Athenian
government, a power had grown up within the city that assumed a right,
the grave assertion of which without the walls would have been deeply
felt and bitterly resented--a power that sat in severe and derisive
judgment upon Athens herself, her laws, her liberties, her mighty
generals, her learned statesmen, her poets, her sages, and her
arrogant democracy--a power that has come down to foreign nations and
distant ages as armed with irresistible weapons--which now is
permitted to give testimony, not only against individuals, but nations
themselves, but which, in that time, was not more effective in
practical results than at this day a caricature in St. James's-street,
or a squib in a weekly newspaper--a power which exposed to relentless
ridicule, before the most susceptible and numerous tribunal, the
loftiest names in rank, in wisdom, and in genius--and which could not
have deprived a beggar of his obol or a scavenger of his office: THE
POWER OF THE COMIC MUSE.

VI. We have seen that in the early village festivals, out of which
grew the tragedy of Phrynichus and Aeschylus, there were, besides the
Dithyramb and the Satyrs, the Phallic processions, which diversified
the ceremony by the lowest jests mingled with the wildest satire. As
her tragedy had its origin in the Dithyramb--as her satyric after-
piece had its origin in the satyric buffooneries--so out of the
Phallic processions rose the Comedy of Greece (B. C. 562) [320].
Susarion is asserted by some to have been a Megarian by origin; and
while the democracy of Megara was yet in force, he appears to have
roughly shaped the disorderly merriment of the procession into a rude
farce, interspersed with the old choral songs. The close connexion
between Megara and Athens soon served to communicate to the latter the
improvements of Susarion; and these improvements obtained for the
Megarian the title of inventer of comedy, with about the same justice
as a similar degree of art conferred upon the later Thespis the
distinction of the origin of tragedy. The study of Homer's epics had
suggested its true province to tragedy; the study of the Margites,
attributed also to Homer, seems to have defined and enlarged the
domain of comedy. Eleven years after Phrynichus appeared, and just
previous to the first effort of Aeschylus (B. C. 500), Epicharmus, who
appears to have been a native of Cos [321], produced at Syracuse the
earliest symmetrical and systematic form of comic dialogue and fable.
All accounts prove him to have been a man of extraordinary genius, and
of very thoughtful and accomplished mind. Perhaps the loss of his
works is not the least to be lamented of those priceless treasures
which time has destroyed. So uncertain, after all, is the great
tribunal of posterity, which is often as little to be relied upon as
the caprice of the passing day! We have the worthless Electra of
Euripides--we have lost all, save the titles and a few sententious
fragments, of thirty-five comedies of Epicharmus! Yet if Horace
inform us rightly, that the poet of Syracuse was the model of Plautus,
perhaps in the Amphitryon we can trace the vein and genius of the
father of true comedy; and the thoughts and the plot of the lost
Epicharmus may still exist, mutilated and disguised, in the humours of
the greatest comic poet [322] of modern Europe.

VII. It was chiefly from the rich stores of mythology that Epicharmus
drew his fables; but what was sublimity with the tragic poet, was
burlesque with the comic. He parodied the august personages and
venerable adventures of the gods of the Greek Pantheon. By a singular
coincidence, like his contemporary Aeschylus [323], he was a
Pythagorean, and it is wonderful to observe how rapidly and how
powerfully the influence of the mysterious Samian operated on the most
original intellects of the age. The familiar nature of the Hellenic
religion sanctioned, even in the unphilosophical age of Homer, a
treatment of celestial persons that to our modern notions would, at
first glance, evince a disrespect for the religion itself. But
wherever homage to "dead men" be admitted, we may, even in our own
times, find that the most jocular legends are attached to names held
in the most reverential awe. And he who has listened to an Irish or
an Italian Catholic's familiar stories of some favourite saint, may
form an adequate notion of the manner in which a pious Greek could
jest upon Bacchus to-day and sacrifice to Bacchus to-morrow. With his
mythological travesties the Pythagorean mingled, apparently, many
earnest maxims of morality [324], and though not free, in the judgment
of Aristotle, from a vice of style usually common only to ages the
most refined [325]; he was yet proverbial, even in the most polished
period of Grecian letters, for the graces of his diction and the happy
choice of his expressions.

Phormis, a contemporary of Epicharmus, flourished also at Syracuse,
and though sometimes classed with Epicharmus, and selecting his
materials from the same source, his claims to reputation are
immeasurably more equivocal. Dinolochus continued the Sicilian
school, and was a contemporary of the first Athenian comic writer.

VIII. Hence it will be seen that the origin of comedy does not rest
with the Athenians; that Megara, if the birthplace of Susarion, may
fairly claim whatever merit belongs to the first rude improvement, and
that Syracuse is entitled to the higher distinction of raising humour
into art. So far is comedy the offspring of the Dorians--not the
Dorians of a sullen oligarchy, with whom to vary an air of music was a
crime--not the Dorians of Lacedaemon--but of Megara and Syracuse--of
an energetic, though irregular democracy--of a splendid, though
illegitimate monarchy. [326]

But the comedy of Epicharmus was not altogether the old comedy of
Athens. The last, as bequeathed to us by Aristophanes, has features
which bear little family resemblance to the philosophical parodies of
the Pythagorean poet. It does not confine itself to mythological
subjects--it avoids the sententious style--it does not preach, but
ridicule philosophy--it plunges amid the great practical business of
men--it breathes of the Agora and the Piraeus--it is not a laughing
sage, but a bold, boisterous, gigantic demagogue, ever in the thickest
mob of human interests, and wielding all the various humours of a
democracy with a brilliant audacity, and that reckless ease which is
the proof of its astonishing power.

IX. Chionides was the first Athenian comic writer. We find him
before the public three years after the battle of Marathon (B. C.
487), when the final defeat of Hippias confirmed the stability of the
republic; and when the improvements of Aeschylus in tragedy served to
communicate new attractions to the comic stage. Magnes, a writer of
great wit, and long popular, closely followed, and the titles of some
of the plays of these writers confirm the belief that Attic comedy,
from its commencement, took other ground than that occupied by the
mythological burlesques of Epicharmus. So great was the impetus given
to the new art, that a crowd of writers followed simultaneously, whose
very names it is wearisome to mention. Of these the most eminent were
Cratinus and Crates. The earliest _recorded_ play of Cratinus, though
he must have exhibited many before [327], appeared the year prior to
the death of Cimon (the Archilochi, B. C. 448). Plutarch quotes some
lines from this author, which allude to the liberality of Cimon with
something of that patron-loving spirit which was rather the
characteristic of a Roman than an Athenian poet. Though he himself,
despite his age, was proverbially of no very abstemious or decorous
habits, Cratinus was unsparing in his attacks upon others, and
wherever he found or suspected vice, he saw a subject worthy of his
genius. He was admired to late posterity, and by Roman critics, for
the grace and even for the grandeur of his hardy verses; and
Quintilian couples him with Eupolis and Aristophanes as models for the
formation of orators. Crates appeared (B. C. 451) two years before
the first _recorded_ play of Cratinus. He had previously been an
actor, and performed the principal characters in the plays of
Cratinus. Aristophanes bestows on him the rare honour of his praise,
while he sarcastically reminds the Athenian audience of the ill
reception that so ingenious a poet often received at their hands.
Yet, despite the excellence of the earlier comic writers, they had
hitherto at Athens very sparingly adopted the artistical graces of
Epicharmus. Crates, who did not write before the five years' truce
with Sparta, is said by Aristotle not only to have been the first who
abandoned the Iambic form of comedy, but the first Athenian who
invented systematic fable or plot--a strong argument to show how
little the Athenian borrowed from the Sicilian comedy, since, if the
last had been its source of inspiration, the invented stories of
Epicharmus (by half a century the predecessor of Crates) would
naturally have been the most striking improvement to be imitated. The
Athenian comedy did not receive the same distinctions conferred upon
tragedy. So obscure was its rise to its later eminence, that even
Aristotle could not determine when or by whom the various progressive
improvements were made: and, regarded with jealous or indifferent eyes
by the magistrature as an exhibition given by private competitors, nor
calling for the protection of the state, which it often defied, it was
long before its chorus was defrayed at the public cost.

Under Cratinus and Crates [328], however, in the year of the Samian
war, the comic drama assumed a character either so personally
scurrilous, or so politically dangerous, that a decree was passed
interdicting its exhibitions (B. C. 440). The law was repealed
three years afterward (B. C. 437) [329]. Viewing its temporary
enforcement, and the date in which it was passed, it appears highly
probable that the critical events of the Samian expedition may have
been the cause of the decree. At such a time the opposition of the
comic writers might have been considered dangerous. With the
increased stability of the state, the law was, perhaps, deemed no
longer necessary. And from the recommencement of the comic drama, we
may probably date both the improvements of Crates and the special
protection of the state; for when, for the first time, Comedy was
formally authorized by the law, it was natural that the law should
recognise the privileges it claimed in common with its sister Tragedy.
There is no authority for supposing that Pericles, whose calm temper
and long novitiate in the stormy career of public life seem to have
rendered him callous to public abuse, was the author of this decree.
It is highly probable, indeed, that he was absent at the siege of
Samos [330] when it was passed; but he was the object of such virulent
attacks by the comic poets that we might consider them actuated by
some personal feeling of revenge and spleen, were it not evident that
Cratinus at least (and probably Crates, his disciple) was attached to
the memory of Cimon, and could not fail to be hostile to the
principles and government of Cimon's successor. So far at this period
had comedy advanced; but, in the background, obscure and undreamed of,
was one, yet in childhood, destined to raise the comic to the rank of
the tragic muse; one who, perhaps, from his earliest youth, was
incited by the noisy fame of his predecessors, and the desire of that
glorious, but often perverted power, so palpable and so exultant,
which rides the stormy waves of popular applause [331]. About
thirteen years after the brief prohibition of comedy appeared that
wonderful genius, the elements and attributes of whose works it will
be a pleasing, if arduous task, in due season, to analyze and define;
matchless alike in delicacy and strength, in powers the most gigantic,
in purpose the most daring--with the invention of Shakspeare--the
playfulness of Rabelais--the malignity of Swift--need I add the name
of Aristophanes?

X. But while comedy had thus progressed to its first invidious
dignity, that of proscription, far different was the reward that
awaited the present representative and master of the tragic school.
In the year that the muse of Cratinus was silenced, Sophocles was
appointed one of the colleagues with Pericles in the Samian war.

CHAPTER IV.

The Tragedies of Sophocles.

I. It was in the very nature of the Athenian drama, that, when once
established, it should concentrate and absorb almost every variety of
the poetical genius. The old lyrical poetry, never much cultivated in
Athens, ceased in a great measure when tragedy arose, or rather
tragedy was the complete development, the new and perfected
consummation of the Dithyrambic ode. Lyrical poetry transmigrated
into the choral song, as the epic merged into the dialogue and plot,
of the drama. Thus, when we speak of Athenian poetry, we speak of
dramatic poetry--they were one and the same. As Helvetius has so
luminously shown [332], genius ever turns towards that quarter in
which fame shines brightest, and hence, in every age, there will be a
sympathetic connexion between the taste of the public and the
direction of the talent.

Now in Athens, where audiences were numerous and readers few, every
man who felt within himself the inspiration of the poet would
necessarily desire to see his poetry put into action--assisted with
all the pomp of spectacle and music, hallowed by the solemnity of a
religious festival, and breathed by artists elaborately trained to
heighten the eloquence of words into the reverent ear of assembled
Greece.

Hence the multitude of dramatic poets, hence the mighty fertility of
each; hence the life and activity of this--the comparative torpor and
barrenness of every other--species of poetry. To add to the pre-
eminence of the art, the applauses of the many were sanctioned by the
critical canons of the few. The drama was not only the most alluring
form which the Divine Spirit could assume--but it was also deemed the
loftiest and the purest; and when Aristotle ranked [333] the tragic
higher than even the epic muse, he probably did but explain the
reasons for a preference which the generality of critics were disposed
to accord to her. [334]

II. The career of the most majestic of the Greek poets was eminently
felicitous. His birth was noble, his fortune affluent; his natural
gifts were the rarest which nature bestows on man, genius and beauty.
All the care which the age permitted was lavished on his education.
For his feet even the ordinary obstacles in the path of distinction
were smoothed away. He entered life under auspices the most
propitious and poetical. At the age of sixteen he headed the youths
who performed the triumphant paean round the trophy of Salamis. At
twenty-five, when the bones of Theseus were borne back to Athens in
the galley of the victorious Cimon, he exhibited his first play, and
won the prize from Aeschylus. That haughty genius, whether indignant
at the success of a younger rival, or at a trial for impiety before
the Areopagus, to which (though acquitted) he was subjected, or at the
rapid ascendency of a popular party, that he seems to have scorned
with the disdain at once of an eupatrid and a Pythagorean, soon after
retired from Athens to the Syracusan court; and though he thence sent
some of his dramas to the Athenian stage [335], the absent veteran
could not but excite less enthusiasm than the young aspirant, whose
artful and polished genius was more in harmony with the reigning taste
than the vast but rugged grandeur of Aeschylus, who, perhaps from the
impossibility tangibly and visibly to body forth his shadowy Titans
and obscure sublimity of design, does not appear to have obtained a
popularity on the stage equal to his celebrity as a poet [336]. For
three-and-sixty years did Sophocles continue to exhibit; twenty times
he obtained the first prize, and he is said never to have been
degraded to the third. The ordinary persecutions of envy itself seem
to have spared this fortunate poet. Although his moral character was
far from pure [337], and even in extreme old age he sought after the
pleasures of his youth [339], yet his excesses apparently met with a
remarkable indulgence from his contemporaries. To him were known
neither the mortifications of Aeschylus nor the relentless mockery
heaped upon Euripides. On his fair name the terrible Aristophanes
himself affixes no brand [339]. The sweetness of his genius extended
indeed to his temper, and personal popularity assisted his public
triumphs. Nor does he appear to have keenly shared the party
animosities of his day; his serenity, like that of Goethe, has in it
something of enviable rather than honourable indifference. He owed
his first distinction to Cimon, and he served afterward under
Pericles; on his entrance into life, he led the youths that circled
the trophy of Grecian freedom--and on the verge of death, we shall
hereafter see him calmly assent to the surrender of Athenian
liberties. In short, Aristophanes perhaps mingled more truth than
usual with his wit, when even in the shades below he says of
Sophocles, "He was contented here--he's contented there." A
disposition thus facile, united with an admirable genius, will, not
unoften, effect a miracle, and reconcile prosperity with fame. [340]

At the age of fifty-seven, Sophocles was appointed, as I before said
[341], to a command, as one of the ten generals in the Samian war; but
history is silent as to his military genius [342]. In later life we
shall again have occasion to refer to him, condemned as he was to
illustrate (after a career of unprecedented brilliancy--nor ever
subjected to the caprice of the common public) the melancholy moral
inculcated by himself [343], and so often obtruded upon us by the
dramatists of his country, "never to deem a man happy till death
itself denies the hazard of reverses." Out of the vast, though not
accurately known, number of the dramas of Sophocles, seven remain.

III. A great error has been committed by those who class Aeschylus
and Sophocles together as belonging to the same era, and refer both to
the age of Pericles, because each was living while Pericles was in
power. We may as well class Dr. Johnson and Lord Byron in the same
age, because both lived in the reign of George III. The Athenian
rivals were formed under the influences of very different generations;
and if Aeschylus lived through a considerable portion of the career of
the younger Sophocles, the accident of longevity by no means warrants
us to consider then the children of the same age--the creatures of the
same influences. Aeschylus belonged to the race and the period from
which emerged Themistocles and Aristides--Sophocles to those which
produced Phidias and Pericles. Sophocles indeed, in the calmness of
his disposition, and the symmetry and stateliness of his genius, might
almost be entitled the Pericles of poetry. And as the statesman was
called the Olympian, not from the headlong vehemence, but the serene
majesty of his strength; so of Sophocles also it may be said, that his
power is visible in his repose, and his thunders roll from the depth
of a clear sky.

IV. The age of Pericles is the age of art [344]. It was not
Sophocles alone that was an artist in that time; he was but one of the
many who, in every department, sought, in study and in science, the
secrets of the wise or the beautiful. Pericles and Phidias were in
their several paths of fame what Sophocles was in his. But it was not
the art of an emasculate or effeminate period--it grew out of the
example of a previous generation of men astonishingly great. It was
art still fresh from the wells of nature. Art with a vast field yet
unexplored, and in all its youthful vigour and maiden enthusiasm.
There was, it is true, at a period a little later than that in which
the genius of Sophocles was formed, one class of students among whom a
false taste and a spurious refinement were already visible--the class
of rhetoricians and philosophical speculators. For, in fact, the art
which belongs to the imagination is often purest in an early age; but
that which appertains to the reason and intellect is slow before it
attains mature strength and manly judgment, Among these students was
early trained and tutored the thoughtful mind of Euripides; and hence
that art which in Sophocles was learned in more miscellaneous and
active circles, and moulded by a more powerful imagination, in
Euripides often sickens us with the tricks of a pleader, the quibbles
of a schoolman, or the dullness of a moralizing declaimer. But as, in
the peculiar attributes and character of his writings, Euripides
somewhat forestalled his age--as his example had a very important
influence upon his successors--as he did not exhibit till the fame of
Sophocles was already confirmed--and as his name is intimately
associated with the later age of Aristophanes and Socrates--it may be
more convenient to confine our critical examination at present to the
tragedies of Sophocles.

Although the three plays of the "Oedipus Tyrannus," the "Oedipus at
Coloneus," and the "Antigone," were composed and exhibited at very
wide intervals of time, yet, from their connexion with each other,
they may almost be said to form one poem. The "Antigone," which
concludes the story, was the one earliest written; and there are
passages in either "Oedipus" which seem composed to lead up, as it
were, to the catastrophe of the "Antigone," and form a harmonious link
between the several dramas. These three plays constitute, on the
whole, the greatest performance of Sophocles, though in detached parts
they are equalled by passages in the "Ajax" and the "Philoctetes."

V. The "Oedipus Tyrannus" opens thus. An awful pestilence devastates
Thebes. Oedipus, the king, is introduced to us, powerful and beloved;
to him whose wisdom had placed him on the throne, look up the priest
and the suppliants for a remedy even amid the terrors of the plague.
Oedipus informs them that he has despatched Creon (the brother of his
wife Jocasta) to the Pythian god to know by what expiatory deed the
city might be delivered from its curse. Scarce has he concluded, when
Creon himself enters, and announces "glad tidings" in the explicit
answer of the oracle. The god has declared--that a pollution had been
bred in the land, and must be expelled the city--that Laius, the
former king, had been murdered--and that his blood must be avenged.
Laius had left the city never to return; of his train but one man
escaped to announce his death by assassins. Oedipus instantly
resolves to prosecute the inquiry into the murder, and orders the
people to be summoned. The suppliants arise from the altar, and a
solemn chorus of the senators of Thebes (in one of the most splendid
lyrics of Sophocles) chant the terrors of the plague--"that unarmed
Mars"--and implore the protection of the divine averters of
destruction. Oedipus then, addressing the chorus, demands their aid
to discover the murderer, whom he solemnly excommunicates, and dooms,
deprived of aid and intercourse, to waste slowly out a miserable
existence; nay, if the assassin should have sought refuge in the royal
halls, there too shall the vengeance be wreaked and the curse fall.

"For I," continued Oedipus,

"I, who the sceptre which he wielded wield;
I, who have mounted to his marriage bed;
I, in whose children (had he issue known)
His would have claimed a common brotherhood;
Now that the evil fate bath fallen o'er him--
I am the heir of that dead king's revenge,
Not less than if these lips had hailed him 'father!'"

A few more sentences introduce to us the old soothsayer Tiresias--for
whom, at the instigation of Creon, Oedipus had sent. The seer answers
the adjuration of the king with a thrilling and ominous burst--

"Wo--wo!--how fearful is the gift of wisdom,
When to the wise it bears no blessing!--wo!"

The haughty spirit of Oedipus breaks forth at the gloomy and obscure
warnings of the prophet. His remonstrances grow into threats. In his
blindness he even accuses Tiresias himself of the murder of Laius--and
out speaks the terrible diviner:

"Ay--is it so? Abide then by thy curse
And solemn edict--never from this day
Hold human commune with these men or me;
Lo, where thou standest--lo, the land's polluter!"

A dialogue of great dramatic power ensues. Oedipus accuses Tiresias
of abetting his kinsman, Creon, by whom he had been persuaded to send
for the soothsayer, in a plot against his throne--and the seer, who
explains nothing and threatens all things, departs with a dim and
fearful prophecy.

After a song from the chorus, in which are imbodied the doubt, the
trouble, the terror which the audience may begin to feel--and here it
may be observed, that with Sophocles the chorus always carries on, not
the physical, but the moral, progress of the drama [345]--Creon
enters, informed of the suspicion against himself which Oedipus had
expressed. Oedipus, whose whole spirit is disturbed by the weird and
dark threats of Tiresias, repeats the accusation, but wildly and
feebly. His vain worldly wisdom suggests to him that Creon would
scarcely have asked him to consult Tiresias, nor Tiresias have
ventured on denunciations so tremendous, had not the two conspired
against him: yet a mysterious awe invades him--he presses questions on
Creon relative to the murder of Laius, and seems more anxious to
acquit himself than accuse another.

While the princes contend, the queen, Jocasta, enters. She chides
their quarrel, learns from Oedipus that Tiresias had accused him of
the murder of the deceased king, and, to convince him of the falseness
of prophetic lore, reveals to him, that long since it was predicted
that Laius should be murdered by his son joint offspring of Jocasta
and himself. Yet, in order to frustrate the prophecy, the only son of
Laius had been exposed to perish upon solitary and untrodden
mountains, while, in after years, Laius himself had fallen, in a spot
where three roads met, by the hand of a stranger; so that the prophecy
had not come to pass.

At this declaration terror seizes upon Oedipus. He questions Jocasta
eagerly and rapidly--the place where the murder happened, the time in
which it occurred, the age and personal appearance of Laius--and when
he learns all, his previous arrogant conviction of innocence deserts
him; and as he utters a horrid exclamation, Jocasta fixes her eyes
upon him, and "shudders as she gazes." [346] He inquires what train
accompanied Laius--learns that there were five persons; that but one
escaped; that on his return to Thebes, seeing Oedipus on the throne,
the surviver had besought the favour to retire from the city. Oedipus
orders this witness of the murder to be sent for, and then proceeds to
relate his own history. He has been taught to believe that Polybus of
Corinth and Merope of Doris were his parents. But once at a banquet
he was charged with being a supposititious child; the insult galled
him, and he went to Delphi to consult the oracle. It was predicted to
him that he should commit incest with his mother, and that his father
should fall by his hand. Appalled and horror-stricken, he resolves to
fly the possible fulfilment of the prophecy, and return no more to
Corinth. In his flight by the triple road described by Jocasta he
meets an old man in a chariot, with a guide or herald, and other
servitors. They attempt to thrust him from the road--a contest
ensues--he slays the old man and his train. Could this be Laius? Can
it be to the marriage couch of the man he slew that he has ascended?
No, his fears are too credulous! he clings to a straw; the herdsman
who had escaped the slaughter of Laius and his attendants may prove
that it was _not_ the king whom he encountered. Jocasta sustains this
hope--she cannot believe a prophecy--for it had been foretold that
Laius should fall by the hand of his son, and that son had long since
perished on the mountains. The queen and Oedipus retire within their
palace; the chorus resume their strains; after which, Jocasta
reappears on her way to the temple of Apollo, to offer sacrifice and
prayer. At this time a messenger arrives to announce to Oedipus the
death of Polybus, and the wish of the Corinthians to elect Oedipus to
the throne! At these tidings Jocasta is overjoyed.

"Predictions of the gods, where are ye now?
Lest by the son's doomed hand the sire should fall,
The son became a wanderer on the earth,
Lo, not the son, but Nature, gives the blow!"

Oedipus, summoned to the messenger, learns the news of his supposed
father's death! It is a dread and tragic thought, but the pious
Oedipus is glad that his father is no more, since he himself is thus
saved from parricide; yet the other part of the prediction haunts him.
His mother!--she yet lives. He reveals to the messenger the prophecy
and his terror. To cheer him, the messenger now informs him that he
is not the son of Merope and Polybus. A babe had been found in the
entangled forest-dells of Cithaeron by a herdsman and slave of Laius
--he had given the infant to another--that other, the messenger who
now tells the tale. Transferred to the care of Polybus and Merope,
the babe became to them as a son, for they were childless. Jocasta
hears--stunned and speechless--till Oedipus, yet unconscious of the
horrors still to come, turns to demand of her if she knew the herdsman
who had found the child. Then she gasps wildly out--

"Whom speaks he of? Be silent--heed it not--
Blot it out from thy memory!--it is evil!
Oedipus. It cannot be--the clew is here; and I
Will trace it through that labyrinth--my birth.
Jocasta. By all the gods I warn thee; for the sake
Of thine own life beware; it is enough
For me to hear and madden!"

Oedipus (suspecting only that the pride of his queen revolts from the
thought of her husband's birth being proved base and servile) replies,

"Nay, nay, cheer thee!
Were I through three descents threefold a slave,
My shame would not touch thee.
Jocasta. I do implore thee,
This once obey me--this once.
Oedipus I will not!
To truth I grope my way.
Jocasta. And yet what love
Speaks in my voice! Thine ignorance is thy bliss.
Oedipus. A bliss that tortures!
Jocasta. Miserable man!
Oh couldst thou never learn the thing thou art!
Oedipus. Will no one quicken this slow herdsman's steps
The unquestioned birthright of a royal name
Let this proud queen possess!
Jocasta. Wo! wo! thou wretch!
Wo! my last word!--words are no more for me!"

With this Jocasta rushes from the scene. Still Oedipus misconstrues
her warning; he ascribes her fears to the royalty of her spirit. For
himself, Fortune was his mother, and had blessed him; nor could the
accident of birth destroy his inheritance from nature. The chorus
give way to their hopes! their wise, their glorious Oedipus might have
been born a Theban! The herdsman enters: like Tiresias, he is loath
to speak. The fiery king extorts his secret. Oedipus is the son of
Laius and Jocasta--at his birth the terrible prophecies of the Pythian
induced his own mother to expose him on the mountains--the compassion
of the herdsman saved him--saved him to become the bridegroom of his
mother, the assassin of his sire. The astonishing art with which,
from step to step, the audience and the victim are led to the climax
of the discovery, is productive of an interest of pathos and of terror
which is not equalled by the greatest masterpieces of the modern stage
[347], and possesses that species of anxious excitement which is
wholly unparalleled in the ancient. The discovery is a true
catastrophe--the physical denouement is but an adjunct to the moral
one. Jocasta, on quitting the scene, had passed straight to the
bridal-chamber, and there, by the couch from which had sprung a double
and accursed progeny, perished by her own hands. Meanwhile, the
predestined parricide, bursting into the chamber, beheld, as the last
object on earth, the corpse of his wife and mother! Once more Oedipus
reappears, barred for ever from the light of day. In the fury of his
remorse, he "had smote the balls of his own eyes," and the wise
baffler of the sphinx, Oedipus, the haughty, the insolent, the
illustrious, is a forlorn and despairing outcast. But amid all the
horror of the concluding scene, a beautiful and softening light breaks
forth. Blind, powerless, excommunicated, Creon, whom Oedipus accused
of murder, has now become his judge and his master. The great spirit,
crushed beneath its intolerable woes, is humbled to the dust; and the
"wisest of mankind" implores but two favours--to be thrust from the
land an exile, and once more to embrace his children. Even in
translation the exquisite tenderness of this passage cannot altogether
fail of its effect.

"For my fate, let it pass! My children, Creon!
My sons--nay, they the bitter wants of life
May master--they are MEN?--my girls--my darlings--
Why, never sat I at my household board
Without their blessed looks--our very bread
We brake together; thou'lt be kind to them
For my sake, Creon--and (oh, latest prayer!)
Let me but touch them--feel them with these hands,
And pour such sorrow as may speak farewell
O'er ills that must be theirs! By thy pure line--
For thin is pure--do this, sweet prince. Methinks
I should not miss these eyes, could I but touch them.
What shall I say to move thee?
Sobs! And do I,
Oh do I hear my sweet ones? Hast thou sent,
In mercy sent, my children to my arms?
Speak--speak--I do not dream!
Creon. They are thy children;
I would not shut thee from the dear delight
In the old time they gave thee.
Oedipus. Blessings on thee
For this one mercy mayst thou find above
A kinder God than I have. Ye--where are ye?
My children--come!--nearer and nearer yet," etc.

The pathos of this scene is continued to the end; and the very last
words Oedipus utters as his children cling to him, implore that they
at least may not be torn away.

It is in this concluding scene that the art of the play is
consummated; the horrors of the catastrophe, which, if a last
impression, would have left behind a too painful and gloomy feeling,
are softened down by this beautiful resort to the tenderest and
holiest sources of emotion. And the pathos is rendered doubly
effective, not only from the immediate contrast of the terror that
preceded it, but from the masterly skill with which all display of the
softer features in the character of Oedipus is reserved to the close.
In the breaking up of the strong mind and the daring spirit, when
empire, honour, name, are all annihilated, the heart is seen, as it
were, surviving the wrecks around it, and clinging for support to the
affections.

VII. In the "Oedipus at Coloneus," the blind king is presented to us,
after the lapse of years, a wanderer over the earth, unconsciously
taking his refuge in the grove of the furies [348]--"the awful
goddesses, daughters of Earth and Darkness." His young daughter,
Antigone, one of the most lovely creations of poetry, is his companion
and guide; he is afterward joined by his other daughter, Ismene, whose
weak and selfish character is drawn in strong contrast to the heroism
and devotion of Antigone. The ancient prophecies that foretold his
woes had foretold also his release. His last shelter and resting-
place were to be obtained from the dread deities, and a sign of
thunder, or earthquake, or lightning was to announce his parting hour.
Learning the spot to which his steps had been guided, Oedipus solemnly
feels that his doom approaches: thus, at the very opening of the poem,
he stands before us on the verge of a mysterious grave.

The sufferings which have bowed the parricide to a premature old age
[349] have not crushed his spirit; the softness and self-humiliation
which were the first results of his awful affliction are passed away.
He is grown once more vehement and passionate, from the sense of
wrong; remorse still visits him, but is alternated with the yet more
human feeling of resentment at the unjust severity of his doom [350].
His sons, who, "by a word," might have saved him from the expulsion,
penury, and wanderings he has undergone, had deserted his cause--had
looked with indifferent eyes on his awful woes--had joined with Creon
to expel him from the Theban land. They are the Goneril and Regan of
the classic Lear, as Antigone is the Cordelia on whom he leans--a
Cordelia he has never thrust from him. "When," says Oedipus, in stern
bitterness of soul,

"When my soul boiled within me--when 'to die'
Was all my prayer--and death was sweetness, yea,
Had they but stoned me like a dog, I'd blessed them;
Then no man rose against me--but when time
Brought its slow comfort--when my wounds were scarred--
All my griefs mellow'd, and remorse itself
Judged my self-penance mightier than my sins,
Thebes thrust me from her breast, and they, my sons,
My blood, mine offspring, from their father shrunk:
A word of theirs had saved me--one small word--
They said it not--and lo! the wandering beggar!"

In the mean while, during the exile of Oedipus, strife had broken out
between the brothers: Eteocles, here represented as the younger, drove
out Polynices, and seized the throne; Polynices takes refuge at Argos,
where he prepares war against the usurper: an oracle declares that
success shall be with that party which Oedipus joins, and a mysterious
blessing is pronounced on the land which contains his bones. Thus,
the possession of this wild tool of fate--raised up in age to a dread
and ghastly consequence--becomes the argument of the play, as his
death must become the catastrophe. It is the deep and fierce revenge
of Oedipus that makes the passion of the whole. According to a
sublime conception, we see before us the physical Oedipus in the
lowest state of destitution and misery--in rags, blindness, beggary,
utter and abject impotence. But in the moral, Oedipus is all the
majesty of a power still royal. The oracle has invested one, so
fallen and so wretched in himself, with the power of a god--the power
to confer victory on the cause he adopts, prosperity on the land that
becomes his tomb. With all the revenge of age, all the grand
malignity of hatred, he clings to this shadow and relic of a sceptre.
Creon, aware of the oracle, comes to recall him to Thebes. The
treacherous kinsman humbles himself before his victim--he is the
suppliant of the beggar, who defies and spurns him. Creon avenges
himself by seizing on Antigone and Ismene. Nothing can be more
dramatically effective than the scene in which these last props of his
age are torn from the desolate old man. They are ultimately restored
to him by Theseus, whose amiable and lofty character is painted with
all the partial glow of colouring which an Athenian poet would
naturally lavish on the Athenian Alfred. We are next introduced to
Polynices. He, like Creon, has sought Oedipus with the selfish motive
of recovering his throne by means of an ally to whom the oracle
promises victory. But there is in Polynices the appearance of a true
penitence, and a mingled gentleness and majesty in his bearing which
interests us in his fate despite his faults, and which were possibly
intended by Sophocles to give a new interest to the plot of the
"Antigone," composed and exhibited long before. Oedipus is persuaded
by the benevolence of Theseus, and the sweet intercession of Antigone,
to admit his son. After a chant from the chorus on the ills of old
age [351], Polynices enters. He is struck with the wasted and
miserable appearance of the old man, and bitterly reproaches his own
desertion.

"But since," he says, with almost a Christian sentiment--

"Since o'er each deed, upon the Olympian throne,
Mercy sits joint presider with great Jove,
Let her, oh father, also take her stand
Within thy soul--and judge me! The past sins
Yet have their cure--ah, would they had recall!
Why are you voiceless? Speak to me, my father?
Turn not away--will you not answer me?" etc.

Oedipus retains his silence in spite of the prayers of his beloved
Antigone, and Polynices proceeds to narrate the wrongs he has
undergone from Eteocles, and, warming with a young warrior's ardour,
paints the array that he has mustered on his behalf--promises to
restore Oedipus to his palace--and, alluding to the oracle, throws
himself on his father's pardon.

Then, at last, outspeaks Oedipus, and from reproach bursts into
curses.

"And now you weep; you wept not at these woes
Until you wept your own. But I--I weep not.
These things are not for tears, but for Endurance.
My son is like his sire--a parricide!
Toil, exile, beggary--daily bread doled out
From stranger hands--these are your gifts, my son!
My nurses, guardians--they who share the want,
Or earn the bread, are daughters; call them not
Women, for they to me are men. Go to!
Thou art not mine--I do disclaim such issue.
Behold, the eyes of the avenging God
Are o'er thee! but their ominous light delays
To blast thee yet. March on--march on--to Thebes!
Not--not for thee, the city and the throne;
The earth shall first be reddened with thy blood--
Thy blood and his, thy foe--thy brother! Curses!
Not for the first time summoned to my wrongs--
Curses! I call ye back, and make ye now
Allies with this old man!

* * * * * *

Yea, curses shall possess thy seat and throne,
If antique Justice o'er the laws of earth
Reign with the thunder-god. March on to ruin!
Spurned and disowned--the basest of the base--
And with thee bear this burden: o'er thine head
I pour a prophet's doom; nor throne nor home
Waits on the sharpness of the levelled spear:
Thy very land of refuge hath no welcome;
Thine eyes have looked their last on hollow Argos.
Death by a brother's hand--dark fratricide,
Murdering thyself a brother--shall be thine.
Yea, while I curse thee, on the murky deep
Of the primeval hell I call! Prepare
These men their home, dread Tartarus! Goddesses,
Whose shrines are round me--ye avenging Furies!
And thou, oh Lord of Battle, who hast stirred
Hate in the souls of brethren, hear me--hear me!--
And now, 'tis past!--enough!--depart and tell
The Theban people, and thy fond allies,
What blessings, from his refuge with the Furies,
The blind old Oedipus awards his sons!" [352]

As is usual with Sophocles, the terrific strength of these execrations
is immediately followed by a soft and pathetic scene between Antigone
and her brother. Though crushed at first by the paternal curse, the
spirit of Polynices so far recovers its native courage that he will

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