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Plutarch's Lives

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one in particular, whom he named Tacita, the Silent; which he did
perhaps in imitation and honor of the Pythagorean silence. His opinion,
also, of images is very agreeable to the doctrine of Pythagoras; who
conceived of the first principle of being as transcending sense and
passion, invisible and incorrupt, and only to be apprehended by abstract
intelligence. So Numa forbade the Romans to represent God in the form
of man or beast, nor was there any painted or graven image of a deity
admitted amongst them for the space of the first hundred and seventy
years, all which time their temples and chapels were kept free and pure
from images; to such baser objects they deemed it impious to liken the
highest, and all access to God impossible, except by the pure act of the
intellect. His sacrifices, also, had great similitude to the ceremonial
of Pythagoras, for they were not celebrated with effusion of blood, but
consisted of flour, wine, and the least costly offerings. Other
external proofs, too, are urged to show the connection Numa had with
Pythagoras. The comic writer Epicharmus, an ancient author, and of the
school of Pythagoras, in a book of his dedicated to Antenor, records
that Pythagoras was made a freeman of Rome. Again, Numa gave to one of
his four sons the name of Mamercus, which was the name of one of the
sons of Pythagoras; from whence, as they say sprang that ancient
patrician family of the Aemilii, for that the king gave him in sport the
surname of Aemilius, for his engaging and graceful manner in speaking.
I remember, too, that when I was at Rome, I heard many say, that, when
the oracle directed two statues to be raised, one to the wisest, and
another to the most valiant man of Greece, they erected two of brass,
one representing Alcibiades, and the other Pythagoras.

But to pass by these matters, which are full of uncertainty, and not so
important as to be worth our time to insist on them, the original
constitution of the priests, called Pontifices, is ascribed unto Numa,
and he himself was, it is said, the first of them; and that they have
the name of Pontifices from potens, powerful, because they attend the
service of the gods, who have power and command over all. Others make
the word refer to exceptions of impossible cases; the priests were to
perform all the duties possible to them; if any thing lay beyond their
power, the exception was not to be cavilled at. The most common opinion
is the most absurd, which derives this word from pons, and assigns the
priests the title of bridge-makers. The sacrifices performed on the
bridge were amongst the most sacred and ancient, and the keeping and
repairing of the bridge attached, like any other public sacred office,
to the priesthood. It was accounted not simply unlawful, but a positive
sacrilege, to pull down the wooden bridge; which moreover is said, in
obedience to an oracle, to have been built entirely of timber and
fastened with wooden pins, without nails or cramps of iron. The stone
bridge was built a very long time after, when Aemilius was quaestor, and
they do, indeed, say also that the wooden bridge was not so old as
Numa's time, but was finished by Ancus Marcius, when he was king, who
was the grandson of Numa by his daughter.

The office of Pontifex Maximus, or chief priest, was to declare and
interpret the divine law, or, rather, to preside over sacred rites; he
not only prescribed rules for public ceremony, but regulated the
sacrifices of private persons, not suffering them to vary from
established custom, and giving information to every one of what was
requisite for purposes of worship or supplication. He was also guardian
of the vestal virgins, the institution of whom, and of their perpetual
fire, was attributed to Numa, who, perhaps fancied the charge of pure
and uncorrupted flames would be fitly entrusted to chaste and unpolluted
persons, or that fire, which consumes, but produces nothing, bears all
analogy to the virgin estate. In Greece, wherever a perpetual holy fire
is kept, as at Delphi and Athens, the charge of it is committed, not to
virgins, but widows past the time of marriage. And in case by any
accident it should happen that this fire became extinct, as the holy
lamp was at Athens under the tyranny of Aristion, and at Delphi, when
that temple was burnt by the Medes, as also in the time of the
Mithridatic and Roman civil war, when not only the fire was
extinguished, but the altar demolished, then, afterwards, in kindling
this fire again, it was esteemed an impiety to light it from common
sparks or flame, or from any thing but the pure and unpolluted rays of
the sun, which they usually effect by concave mirrors, of a figure
formed by the revolution of an isoceles rectangular triangle, all the
lines from the circumference of which meeting in a center, by holding it
in the light of the sun they can collect and concentrate all its rays
at this one point of convergence; where the air will now become
rarefied, and any light, dry, combustible matter will kindle as soon as
applied, under the effect of the rays, which here acquire the substance
and active force of fire. Some are of opinion that these vestals had no
other business than the preservation of this fire; but others conceive
that they were keepers of other divine secrets, concealed from all but
themselves, of which we have told all that may lawfully be asked or
told, in the life of Camillus. Gegania and Verenia, it is recorded,
were the names of the first two virgins consecrated and ordained by
Numa; Canuleia and Tarpeia succeeded; Servius afterwards added two, and
the number of four has continued to the present time.

The statutes prescribed by Numa for the vestals were these: that they
should take a vow of virginity for the space of thirty years, the first
ten of which they were to spend in learning their duties, the second ten
in performing them, and the remaining ten in teaching and instructing
others. Thus the whole term being completed, it was lawful for them to
marry, and, leaving the sacred order, to choose any condition of life
that pleased them; but this permission few, as they say, made use of;
and in cases where they did so, it was observed that their change was
not a happy one, but accompanied ever after with regret and melancholy;
so that the greater number, from religious fears and scruples, forbore,
and continued to old age and death in the strict observance
of a single life.

For this condition he compensated by great privileges and prerogatives;
as that they had power to make a will in the lifetime of their father;
that they had a free administration of their own affairs without
guardian or tutor, which was the privilege of women who were the mothers
of three children; when they go abroad, they have the fasces carried
before them; and if in their walks they chance to meet a criminal on his
way to execution, it saves his life, upon oath made that the meeting was
an accidental one, and not concerted or of set purpose. Any one who
presses upon the chair on which they are carried, is put to death. If
these vestals commit any minor fault, they are punishable by the high-
priest only, who scourges the offender, sometimes with her clothes off,
in a dark place, with a curtain drawn between; but she that has broken
her vow is buried alive near the gate called Collina, where a little
mound of earth stands, inside the city, reaching some little distance,
called in Latin agger; under it a narrow room is constructed, to which a
descent is made by stairs; here they prepare a bed, and light a lamp,
and leave a small quantity of victuals, such as bread, water, a pail of
milk, and some oil; that so that body which had been consecrated and
devoted to the most sacred service of religion might not be said to
perish by such a death as famine. The culprit herself is put in a
litter, which they cover over, and tie her down with cords on it, so
that nothing she utters may be heard. They then take her to the forum;
all people silently go out of the way as she passes, and such as follow
accompany the bier with solemn and speechless sorrow; and, indeed, there
is not any spectacle more appalling, nor any day observed by the city
with greater appearance of gloom and sadness. When they come to the
place of execution, the officers loose the cords, and then the high-
priest, lifting his hands to heaven, pronounces certain prayers to
himself before the act; then he brings out the prisoner, being still
covered, and placing her upon the steps that lead down to the cell,
turns away his face with the rest of the priests; the stairs are drawn
up after she has gone down, and a quantity of earth is heaped up over
the entrance to the cell, so as to prevent it from being distinguished
from the rest of the mound. This is the punishment of those who break
their vow of virginity.

It is said, also, that Numa built the temple of Vesta, which was
intended for a repository of the holy fire, of a circular form, not to
represent the figure of the earth, as if that were the same as Vesta,
but that of the general universe, in the center of which the
Pythagoreans place the element of fire, and give it the name of Vesta
and the unit; and do not hold that the earth is immovable, or that it is
situated in the center of the globe, but that it keeps a circular motion
about the seat of fire, and is not in the number of the primary
elements; in this agreeing with the opinion of Plato, who, they say, in
his later life, conceived that the earth held a lateral position, and
that the central and sovereign space was reserved for some nobler body.

There was yet a farther use of the priests, and that was to give people
directions in the national usages at funeral rites. Numa taught them to
regard these offices, not as a pollution, but as a duty paid to the gods
below, into whose hands the better part of us is transmitted; especially
they were to worship the goddess Libitina, who presided over all the
ceremonies performed at burials; whether they meant hereby Proserpina,
or, as the most learned of the Romans conceive, Venus, not inaptly
attributing the beginning and end of man's life to the agency of one and
the same deity. Numa also prescribed rules for regulating the days of
mourning, according to certain times and ages. As, for example, a child
of three years was not to be mourned for at all; one older, up to ten
years, for as many months as it was years old; and the longest time of
mourning for any person whatsoever was not to exceed the term of ten
months; which was the time appointed for women that lost their husbands
to continue in widowhood. If any married again before that time, by the
laws of Numa she was to sacrifice a cow big with calf.

Numa, also, was founder of several other orders of priests, two of which
I shall mention, the Salii and the Feciales, which are among the
clearest proofs of the devoutness and sanctity of his character. These
Fecials, or guardians of peace, seem to have had their name from their
office, which was to put a stop to disputes by conference and speech;
for it was not allowable to take up arms until they had declared all
hopes of accommodation to be at an end, for in Greek, too, we call it
peace when disputes are settled by words, and not by force. The Romans
commonly dispatched the Fecials, or heralds, to those who had offered
them injury, requesting satisfaction; and, in case they refused, they
then called the gods to witness, and, with imprecations upon themselves
and their country should they be acting unjustly, so declared war;
against their will, or without their consent, it was lawful neither for
soldier nor king to take up arms; the war was begun with them, and, when
they had first handed it over to the commander as a just quarrel, then
his business was to deliberate of the manner and ways to carry it on.
It is believed that the slaughter and destruction which the Gauls made
of the Romans was a judgment on the city for neglect of this religious
proceeding; for that when these barbarians besieged the Clusinians,
Fabius Ambustus was dispatched to their camp to negotiate peace for the
besieged; and, on their returning a rude refusal, Fabius imagined that
his office of ambassador was at an end, and, rashly engaging on the side
of the Clusinians, challenged the bravest of the enemy to a single
combat. It was the fortune of Fabius to kill his adversary, and to take
his spoils; but when the Gauls discovered it, they sent a herald to Rome
to complain against him; since, before war was declared, he had, against
the law of nations, made a breach of the peace. The matter being
debated in the senate, the Fecials were of opinion that Fabius ought to
be consigned into the hands of the Gauls; but he, being forewarned of
their judgment, fled to the people, by whose protection and favor he
escaped the sentence. On this, the Gauls marched with their army to
Rome, where, having taken the Capitol, they sacked the city. The
particulars of all which are fully given in the history of Caminus.

The origin of the Salii is this. In the eighth year of the reign of
Numa, a terrible pestilence, which traversed all Italy, ravaged likewise
the city of Rome; and the citizens being in distress and despondent, a
brazen target, they say, fell from heaven into the hands of Numa who
gave them this marvelous account of it: that Egeria and the Muses had
assured him it was sent from heaven for the cure and safety of the city,
and that, to keep it secure, he was ordered by them to make eleven
others, so like in dimension and form to the original that no thief
should be able to distinguish the true from the counterfeit. He farther
declared, that he was commanded to consecrate to the Muses the place,
and the fields about it, where they had been chiefly wont to meet with
him, and that the spring which watered the field should be hallowed for
the use of the vestal virgins, who were to wash and cleanse the
penetralia of their sanctuary with those holy waters. The truth of all
which was speedily verified by the cessation of the pestilence. Numa
displayed the target to the artificers and bade them show their skill in
making others like it; all despaired, until at length one Mamurius
Veturius, an excellent workman, happily hit upon it, and made all so
exactly the same that Numa himself was at a loss, and could not
distinguish. The keeping of these targets was committed to the charge
of certain priests, called Salii, who did not receive their name, as
some tell the story, from Salius, a dancing-master born in Samothrace,
or at Mantinea, who taught the way of dancing in arms; but more truly
from that jumping dance which the Salii themselves use, when in the
month of March they carry the sacred targets through the city; at which
procession they are habited in short frocks of purple, girt with a broad
belt studded with brass; on their heads they wear a brass helmet, and
carry in their hands short daggers, which they clash every now and then
against the targets. But the chief thing is the dance itself. They
move with much grace, performing, in quick time and close order, various
intricate figures, with a great display of strength and agility. The
targets were called Ancilia from their form; for they are not made
round, nor like proper targets, of a complete circumference, but are cut
out into a wavy line, the ends of which are rounded off and turned in at
the thickest part towards each other; so that their shape is
curvilinear, or, in Greek, ancylon; or the name may come from ancon, the
elbow, on which they are carried. Thus Juba writes, who is eager to
make it Greek. But it might be, for that matter, from its having come
down anecathen, from above; or from its akesis, or cure of diseases; or
auchmon Iysis, because it put an end to a drought; or from its
anaschesis, or relief from calamities, which is the origin of the
Athenian name Anaces, given to Castor and Pollux; if we must, that is,
reduce it to Greek. The reward which Mamurius received for his art was
to be mentioned and commemorated in the verses which the Salii sang, as
they danced in their arms through the city; though some will have it
that they do not say Veturium Mamurium, but Veterem Memoriam, ancient

After Numa had in this manner instituted these several orders of
priests, he erected, near the temple of Vesta, what is called to this
day Regia, or king's house, where he spent the most part of his time,
performing divine service, instructing the priests, or conversing with
them on sacred subjects. He had another house upon the Mount
Quirinalis, the site of which they show to this day. In all public
processions and solemn prayers, criers were sent before to give notice
to the people that they should forbear their work, and rest. They say
that the Pythagoreans did not allow people to worship and pray to their
gods by the way, but would have them go out from their houses direct,
with their minds set upon the duty, and so Numa, in like manner, wished
that his citizens should neither see nor hear any religious service in a
perfunctory and inattentive manner, but, laying aside all other
occupations, should apply their minds to religion as to a most serious
business; and that the streets should be free from all noises and cries
that accompany manual labor, and clear for the sacred solemnity. Some
traces of this custom remain at Rome to this day, for, when the consul
begins to take auspices or do sacrifice, they call out to the people,
Hoc age, Attend to this, whereby the auditors then present are
admonished to compose and recollect themselves. Many other of his
precepts resemble those of the Pythagoreans. The Pythagoreans said, for
example, "Thou shalt not make a peck-measure thy seat to sit on. Thou
shalt not stir the fire with a sword. When thou goest out upon a
journey, look not behind thee. When thou sacrificest to the celestial
gods, let it be with an odd number, and when to the terrestrial, with
even." The significance of each of which precepts they would not
commonly disclose. So some of Numa's traditions have no obvious
meaning. "Thou shalt not make libation to the gods of wine from an
unpruned vine. No sacrifices shall be performed without meal. Turn
round to pay adoration to the gods; sit after you have worshipped." The
first two directions seem to denote the cultivation and subduing of the
earth as a part of religion; and as to the turning which the worshipers
are to use in divine adoration, it is said to represent the rotatory
motion of the world. But, in my opinion, the meaning rather is, that
the worshiper, since the temples front the east, enters with his back to
the rising sun; there, faces round to the east, and so turns back to the
god of the temple, by this circular movement referring the fulfillment
of his prayer to both divinities. Unless, indeed, this change of
posture may have a mystical meaning, like the Egyptian wheels, and
signify to us the instability of human fortune, and that, in whatever
way God changes and turns our lot and condition, we should rest
contented, and accept it as right and fitting. They say, also, that the
sitting after worship was to be by way of omen of their petitions being
granted, and the blessing they asked assured to them. Again, as
different courses of actions are divided by intervals of rest, they
might seat themselves after the completion of what they had done, to
seek favor of the gods for beginning something else. And this would
very well suit with what we had before; the lawgiver wants to habituate
us to make our petitions to the deity not by the way, and as it were, in
a hurry, when we have other things to do, but with time and leisure to
attend to it. By such discipline and schooling in religion, the city
passed insensibly into such a submissiveness of temper, and stood in
such awe and reverence of the virtue of Numa, that they received, with
an undoubted assurance, whatever he delivered, though never so fabulous,
and thought nothing incredible or impossible from him.

There goes a story that he once invited a great number of citizens to an
entertainment, at which the dishes in which the meat was served were
very homely and plain, and the repast itself poor and ordinary fare; the
guests seated, he began to tell them that the goddess that consulted
with him was then at that time come to him; when on a sudden the room
was furnished with all sorts of costly drinking-vessels, and the tables
loaded with rich meats, and a most sumptuous entertainment. But the
dialogue which is reported to have passed between him and Jupiter
surpasses all the fabulous legends that were ever invented. They say
that before Mount Aventine was inhabited or enclosed within the walls of
the city, two demi-gods, Picus and Faunus, frequented the Springs and
thick shades of that place; which might be two satyrs, or Pans, except
that they went about Italy playing the same sorts of tricks, by skill in
drugs and magic, as are ascribed by the Greeks to the Dactyli of Mount
Ida. Numa contrived one day to surprise these demi-gods, by mixing wine
and honey in the waters of the spring of which they usually drank. On
finding themselves ensnared, they changed themselves into various
shapes, dropping their own form and assuming every kind of unusual and
hideous appearance; but when they saw they were safely entrapped, and in
no possibility of getting free, they revealed to him many secrets and
future events; and particularly a charm for thunder and lightning, still
in use, performed with onions and hair and pilchards. Some say they did
not tell him the charm, but by their magic brought down Jupiter out of
heaven; and that he then, in an angry manner answering the inquiries,
told Numa, that, if he would charm the thunder and lightning, he must do
it with heads. "How," said Numa, "with the heads of onions?" "No,"
replied Jupiter, "of men." But Numa, willing to elude the cruelty of
this receipt, turned it another way, saying, "Your meaning is, the hairs
of men's heads." "No," replied Jupiter, "with living"--"pilchards,"
said Numa, interrupting him. These answers he had learnt from Egeria.
Jupiter returned again to heaven, pacified and ilcos, or propitious.
The place was, in remembrance of him, called Ilicium, from this Greek
word; and the spell in this manner effected.

These stories, laughable as they are, show us the feelings which people
then, by force of habit, entertained towards the deity. And Numa's own
thoughts are said to have been fixed to that degree on divine objects,
that he once, when a message was brought to him that "Enemies are
approaching," answered with a smile, "And I am sacrificing." It was he,
also, that built the temples of Faith and Terminus and taught the Romans
that the name of Faith was the most solemn oath that they could swear.
They still use it; and to the god Terminus, or Boundary, they offer to
this day both public and private sacrifices, upon the borders and stone-
marks of their land; living victims now, though anciently those
sacrifices were solemnized without blood; for Numa reasoned that the god
of boundaries, who watched over peace, and testified to fair dealing,
should have no concern with blood. It is very clear that it was this
king who first prescribed bounds to the territory of Rome; for Romulus
would but have openly betrayed how much he had encroached on his
neighbors' lands, had he ever set limits to his own; for boundaries are,
indeed, a defense to those who choose to observe them, but are only a
testimony against the dishonesty of those who break through them. The
truth is, the portion of lands which the Romans possessed at the
beginning was very narrow, until Romulus enlarged them by war; all whose
acquisitions Numa now divided amongst the indigent commonalty, wishing
to do away with that extreme want which is a compulsion to dishonesty,
and, by turning the people to husbandry, to bring them, as well as their
lands, into better order. For there is no employment that gives so keen
and quick a relish for peace as husbandry and a country life, which
leave in men all that kind of courage that makes them ready to fight in
defense of their own, while it destroys the license that breaks out into
acts of injustice and rapacity. Numa, therefore, hoping agriculture
would be a sort of charm to captivate the affections of his people to
peace, and viewing it rather as a means to moral than to economical
profit, divided all the lands into several parcels, to which he gave the
name of pagus, or parish, and over every one of them he ordained chief
overseers; and, taking a delight sometimes to inspect his colonies in
person, he formed his judgment of every man's habits by the results; of
which being witness himself, he preferred those to honors and
employments who had done well, and by rebukes and reproaches incited the
indolent and careless to improvement. But of all his measures the most
commended was his distribution of the people by their trades into
companies or guilds; for as the city consisted, or rather did not
consist of, but was divided into, two different tribes, the diversity
between which could not be effaced and in the mean time prevented all
unity and caused perpetual tumult and ill-blood, reflecting how hard
substances that do not readily mix when in the lump may, by being beaten
into powder, in that minute form be combined, he resolved to divide the
whole population into a number of small divisions, and thus hoped, by
introducing other distinctions, to obliterate the original and great
distinction, which would be lost among the smaller. So, distinguishing
the whole people by the several arts and trades, he formed the companies
of musicians, goldsmiths, carpenters, dyers, shoemakers, skinners,
braziers, and potters; and all other handicraftsmen he composed and
reduced into a single company, appointing every one their proper courts,
councils, and religious observances. In this manner all factious
distinctions began, for the first time, to pass out of use, no person
any longer being either thought of or spoken of under the notion of a
Sabine or a Roman, a Romulian or a Tatian; and the new division became a
source of general harmony and intermixture.

He is also much to be commended for the repeal, or rather amendment, of
that law which gives power to fathers to sell their children; he
exempted such as were married, conditionally that it had been with the
liking and consent of their parents; for it seemed a hard thing that a
woman who had given herself in marriage to a man whom she judged free
should afterwards find herself living with a slave.

He attempted, also, the formation of a calendar, not with absolute
exactness, yet not without some scientific knowledge. During the reign
of Romulus, they had let their months run on without any certain or
equal term; some of them contained twenty days, others thirty-five,
others more; they had no sort of knowledge of the inequality in the
motions of the sun and moon; they only kept to the one rule that the
whole course of the year contained three hundred and sixty days. Numa,
calculating the difference between the lunar and the solar' year at
eleven days, for that the moon completed her anniversary course in three
hundred and fifty-four days, and the sun in three hundred and sixty-
five, to remedy this incongruity doubled the eleven days, and every
other year added an intercalary month, to follow February, consisting of
twenty-two days, and called by the Romans the month Mercedinus. This
amendment, however, itself, in course of time, came to need other
amendments. He also altered the order of the months; for March, which
was reckoned the first, he put into the third place; and January, which
was the eleventh, he made the first; and February, which was the twelfth
and last, the second. Many will have it, that it was Numa, also, who
added the two months of January and February; for in the beginning they
had had a year of ten months; as there are barbarians who count only
three; the Arcadians, in Greece, had but four; the Acarnanians, six.
The Egyptian year at first, they say, was of one month; afterwards, of
four; and so, though they live in the newest of all countries, they have
the credit of being a more ancient nation than any; and reckon, in their
genealogies, a prodigious number of years, counting months, that is, as
years. That the Romans, at first, comprehended the whole year within
ten, and not twelve months, plainly appears by the name of the last,
December, meaning the tenth month; and that March was the first is
likewise evident, for the fifth month after it was called Quintilis, and
the sixth Sextilis, and so the rest; whereas, if January and February
had, in this account, preceded March, Quintilis would have been fifth in
name and seventh in reckoning. It was also natural, that March,
dedicated to Mars, should be Romulus's first, and April, named from
Venus, or Aphrodite, his second month; in it they sacrifice to Venus,
and the women bathe on the calends, or first day of it, with myrtle
garlands on their heads. But others, because of its being p and not ph,
will not allow of the derivation of this word from Aphrodite, but
say it is called April from aperio, Latin for to open, because that this
month is high spring, and opens and discloses the buds and flowers. The
next is called May, from Maia, the mother of Mercury, to whom it is
sacred; then June follows, so called from Juno; some, however, derive
them from the two ages, old and young, majores being their name for
older, and juniores for younger men. To the other months they gave
denominations according to their order; so the fifth was called
Quintilis, Sextilis the sixth, and the rest, September, October,
November, and December. Afterwards Quintilis received the name of
Julius, from Caesar who defeated Pompey; as also Sextilis that of
Augustus, from the second Caesar, who had that title. Domitian, also,
in imitation, gave the two other following months his own names, of
Germanicus and Domitianus; but, on his being slain, they recovered their
ancient denominations of September and October. The two last are the
only ones that have kept their names throughout without any alteration.
Of the months which were added or transposed in their order by Numa,
February comes from februa; and is as much as Purification month; in it
they make offerings to the dead, and celebrate the Lupercalia, which, in
most points, resembles a purification. January was so called from
Janus, and precedence given to it by Numa before March, which was
dedicated to the god Mars; because, as I conceive, he wished to take
every opportunity of intimating that the arts and studies of peace are
to be preferred before those of war. For this Janus, whether in remote
antiquity he were a demi-god or a king, was certainly a great lover of
civil and social unity, and one who reclaimed men from brutal and savage
living; for which reason they figure him with two faces, to represent
the two states and conditions out of the one of which he brought
mankind, to lead them into the other. His temple at Rome has two gates,
which they call the gates of war, because they stand open in the time of
war, and shut in the times of peace; of which latter there was very
seldom an example, for, as the Roman empire was enlarged and extended,
it was so encompassed with barbarous nations and enemies to be resisted,
that it was seldom or never at peace. Only in the time of Augustus
Caesar, after he had overcome Antony, this temple was shut; as likewise
once before, when Marcus Atilius and Titus Manlius were consuls; but
then it was not long before, wars breaking out, the gates were again
opened. But, during the reign of Numa, those gates were never seen open
a single day, but continued constantly shut for a space of forty-three
years together; such an entire and universal cessation of war existed.
For not only had the people of Rome itself been softened and charmed
into a peaceful temper by the just and mild rule of a pacific prince,
but even the neighboring cities, as if some salubrious and gentle air
had blown from Rome upon them, began to experience a change of feeling,
and partook in the general longing for the sweets of peace and order,
and for life employed in the quiet tillage of soil, bringing up of
children, and worship of the gods. Festival days and sports, and the
secure and peaceful interchange of friendly visits and hospitalities
prevailed all through the whole of Italy. The love of virtue and
justice flowed from Numa's wisdom as from a fountain, and the serenity
of his spirit diffused itself, like a calm, on all sides; so that the
hyperboles of poets were flat and tame to express what then existed;
as that

Over the iron shield the spiders hang their threads,

or that

Rust eats the pointed spear and double-edged sword.
No more is heard the trumpet's brazen roar,
Sweet sleep is banished from our eyes no more.

For, during the whole reign of Numa, there was neither war, nor
sedition, nor innovation in the state, nor any envy or ill-will to his
person, nor plot or conspiracy from views of ambition. Either fear of
the gods that were thought to watch over him, or reverence for his
virtue, or a divine felicity of fortune that in his days preserved human
innocence, made his reign, by whatever means, a living example and
verification of that saying which Plato, long afterwards, ventured to
pronounce, that the sole and only hope of respite or remedy for human
evils was in some happy conjunction of events, which should unite in a
single person the power of a king and the wisdom of a philosopher, so as
to elevate virtue to control and mastery over vice. The wise man is
blessed in himself, and blessed also are the auditors who can hear and
receive those words which flow from his mouth; and perhaps, too, there
is no need of compulsion or menaces to affect the multitude, for the
mere sight itself of a shining and conspicuous example of virtue in the
life of their prince will bring them spontaneously to virtue, and to a
conformity with that blameless and blessed life of good will and mutual
concord, supported by temperance and justice, which is the highest
benefit that human means can confer; and he is the truest ruler who can
best introduce it into the hearts and practice of his subjects. It is
the praise of Numa that no one seems ever to have discerned this so
clearly as he.

As to his children and wives, there is a diversity of reports by several
authors; some will have it that he never had any other wife than Tatia,
nor more children than one daughter called Pompilia; others will have it
that he left also four sons, namely, Pompo, Pinus, Calpus, and Mamercus,
every one of whom had issue, and from them descended the noble and
illustrious families of Pomponii, Pinarii, Calpurnii, and Mamerci, which
for this reason took also the surname of Rex, or King. But there is a
third set of writers who say that these pedigrees are but a piece of
flattery used by writers, who, to gain favor with these great
families, made them fictitious genealogies from the lineage of Numa; and
that Pompilia was not the daughter of Tatia, but Lucretia, another wife
whom he married after he came to his kingdom; however, all of them agree
in opinion that she was married to the son of that Marcius who persuaded
him to accept the government, and accompanied him to Rome where, as a
mark of honor, he was chosen into the senate, and, after the death of
Numa, standing in competition with Tullus Hostilius for the kingdom, and
being disappointed of the election, in discontent killed himself; his
son Marcius, however, who had married Pompilia, continuing at Rome, was
the father of Ancus Marcius, who succeeded Tullus Hostilius in the
kingdom, and was but five years of age when Numa died.

Numa lived something above eighty years, and then, as Piso writes, was
not taken out of the world by a sudden or acute disease, but died of old
age and by a gradual and gentle decline. At his funeral all the glories
of his life were consummated, when all the neighboring states in
alliance and amity with Rome met to honor and grace the rites of his
interment with garlands and public presents; the senators carried the
bier on which his corpse was laid, and the priests followed and
accompanied the solemn procession; while a general crowd, in which women
and children took part, followed with such cries and weeping as if they
had bewailed the death and loss of some most dear relation taken away in
the flower of age, and not of an old and worn-out king. It is said that
his body, by his particular command, was not burnt, but that they made,
in conformity with his order, two stone coffins, and buried both under
the hill Janiculum, in one of which his body was laid, and in the other
his sacred books, which, as the Greek legislators their tables, he had
written out for himself, but had so long inculcated the contents of
them, whilst he lived, into the minds and hearts of the priests, that
their understandings became fully possessed with the whole spirit and
purpose of them; and he, therefore, bade that they should be buried with
his body, as though such holy precepts could not without irreverence be
left to circulate in mere lifeless writings. For this very reason, they
say, the Pythagoreans bade that their precepts should not be committed
to paper, but rather preserved in the living memories of those who were
worthy to receive them; and when some of their out-of-the-way and
abstruse geometrical processes had been divulged to an unworthy person,
they said the gods threatened to punish this wickedness and profanity by
a signal and wide-spreading calamity. With these several instances,
concurring to show a similarity in the lives of Numa and Pythagoras, we
may easily pardon those who seek to establish the fact of a real
acquaintance between them.

Valerius Antias writes that the books which were buried in the aforesaid
chest or coffin of stone were twelve volumes of holy writ and twelve
others of Greek philosophy, and that about four hundred years
afterwards, when P. Cornelius and M. Baebius were consuls, in a time of
heavy rains, a violent torrent washed away the earth, and dislodged the
chests of stone; and, their covers falling off, one of them was found
wholly empty, without the least relic of any human body; in the other
were the books before mentioned, which the praetor Petilius having read
and perused, made oath in the senate, that, in his opinion, it was not
fit for their contents to be made public to the people; whereupon the
volumes were all carried to the Comitium, and there burnt.

It is the fortune of all good men that their virtue rises in glory after
their deaths, and that the envy which evil men conceive against them
never outlives them long; some have the happiness even to see it die
before them; but in Numa's case, also, the fortunes of the succeeding
kings served as foils to set off the brightness of his reputation. For
after him there were five kings, the last of whom ended his old age in
banishment, being deposed from his crown; of the other four, three were
assassinated and murdered by treason; the other, who was Tullus
Hostilius, that immediately succeeded Numa, derided his virtues, and
especially his devotion to religious worship, as a cowardly and mean-
spirited occupation, and diverted the minds of the people to war; but
was checked in these youthful insolences, and was himself driven by an
acute and tormenting disease into superstitions wholly different from
Numa's piety, and left others also to participate in these terrors when
he died by the stroke of a thunderbolt.


Having thus finished the lives of Lycurgus and Numa, we shall now,
though the work be difficult, put together their points of difference as
they lie here before our view. Their points of likeness are obvious;
their moderation, their religion, their capacity of government and
discipline, their both deriving their laws and constitutions from the
gods. Yet in their common glories there are circumstances of diversity;
for, first, Numa accepted and Lycurgus resigned a kingdom; Numa received
without desiring it, Lycurgus had it and gave it up; the one from a
private person and a stranger was raised by others to be their king, the
other from the condition of a prince voluntarily descended to the state
of privacy. It was glorious to acquire a throne by justice, yet more
glorious to prefer justice before a throne; the same virtue which made
the one appear worthy of regal power exalted the other to the disregard
of it. Lastly, as musicians tune their harps, so the one let down the
high-flown spirits of the people at Rome to a lower key, as the other
screwed them up at Sparta to a higher note, when they were sunken low by
dissoluteness and riot. The harder task was that of Lycurgus; for it
was not so much his business to persuade his citizens to put off their
armor or ungird their swords, as to cast away their gold or silver, and
abandon costly furniture and rich tables; nor was it necessary to preach
to them, that, laying aside their arms, they should observe the
festivals, and sacrifice to the gods, but rather, that, giving up
feasting and drinking, they should employ their time in laborious and
martial exercises; so that while the one effected all by persuasions and
his people's love for him, the other, with danger and hazard of his
person, scarcely in the end succeeded. Numa's muse was a gentle and
loving inspiration, fitting him well to turn and soothe his people into
peace and justice out of their violent and fiery tempers; whereas, if we
must admit the treatment of the Helots to be a part of Lycurgus's
legislations, a most cruel and iniquitous proceeding, we must own that
Numa was by a great deal the more humane and Greek-like legislator,
granting even to actual slaves a license to sit at meat with their
masters at the feast of Saturn, that they, also, might have some taste
and relish of the sweets of liberty. For this custom, too, is ascribed
to Numa, whose wish was, they conceive, to give a place in the enjoyment
of the yearly fruits of the soil to those who had helped to produce
them. Others will have it to be in remembrance of the age of Saturn,
when there was no distinction between master and slave, but all lived as
brothers and as equals in a condition of equality.

In general, it seems that both aimed at the same design and intent,
which was to bring their people to moderation and frugality; but, of
other virtues, the one set his affection most on fortitude, and the
other on justice; unless we will attribute their different ways to the
different habits and temperaments which they had to work upon by their
enactments; for Numa did not out of cowardice or fear affect peace, but
because he would not be guilty of injustice; nor did Lycurgus promote a
spirit of war in his people that they might do injustice to others, but
that they might protect themselves by it.

In bringing the habits they formed in their people to a just and happy
mean, mitigating them where they exceeded, and strengthening them where
they were deficient, both were compelled to make great innovations. The
frame of government which Numa formed was democratic and popular to the
last extreme, goldsmiths and flute-players and shoemakers constituting
his promiscuous, many-colored commonalty. Lycurgus was rigid and
aristocratical, banishing all the base and mechanic arts to the company
of servants and strangers, and allowing the true citizens no implements
but the spear and shield, the trade of war only, and the service of
Mars, and no other knowledge or study but that of obedience to their
commanding officers, and victory over their enemies. Every sort of
money-making was forbid them as freemen; and to make them thoroughly so
and to keep them so through their whole lives, every conceivable concern
with money was handed over, with the cooking and the waiting at table,
to slaves and helots. But Numa made none of these distinctions; he only
suppressed military rapacity, allowing free scope to every other means
of obtaining wealth; nor did he endeavor to do away with inequality in
this respect, but permitted riches to be amassed to any extent, and paid
no attention to the gradual and continual augmentation and influx of
poverty; which it was his business at the outset, whilst there was as
yet no great disparity in the estates of men, and whilst people still
lived much in one manner, to obviate, as Lycurgus did, and take measures
of precaution against the mischiefs of avarice, mischiefs not of small
importance, but the real seed and first beginning of all the great and
extensive evils of after times. The re-division of estates, Lycurgus is
not, it seems to me, to be blamed for making, nor Numa for omitting;
this equality was the basis and foundation of the one commonwealth; but
at Rome, where the lands had been lately divided, there was nothing to
urge any re-division or any disturbance of the first arrangement, which
was probably still in existence.

With respect to wives and children, and that community which both, with
a sound policy, appointed, to prevent all jealousy, their methods,
however, were different. For when a Roman thought himself to have a
sufficient number of children, in case his neighbor who had none should
come and request his wife of him, he had a lawful power to give her up
to him who desired her, either for a certain time, or for good. The
Lacedaemonian husband on the other hand, might allow the use of his wife
to any other that desired to have children by her, and yet still keep
her in his house, the original marriage obligation still subsisting as
at first. Nay, many husbands, as we have said, would invite men whom
they thought like]y to procure them fine and good-looking children into
their houses. What is the difference, then, between the two customs?
Shall we say that the Lacedaemonian system is one of an extreme and
entire unconcern about their wives, and would cause most people endless
disquiet and annoyance with pangs and jealousies? The Roman course
wears an air of a more delicate acquiescence, draws the veil of a new
contract over the change, and concedes the general insupportableness of
mere community? Numa's directions, too, for the care of young women are
better adapted to the female sex and to propriety; Lycurgus's are
altogether unreserved and unfeminine, and have given a great handle to
the poets, who call them (Ibycus, for example) Phaenomerides, bare-
thighed; and give them the character (as does Euripides) of being
wild after husbands;

These with the young men from the house go out,
With thighs that show, and robes that fly about.

For in fact the skirts of the frock worn by unmarried girls were not
sewn together at the lower part, but used to fly back and show the whole
thigh bare as they walked. The thing is most distinctly given
by Sophocles.

--She, also, the young maid,
Whose frock, no robe yet o'er it laid,
Folding back, leaves her bare thigh free,

And so their women, it is said, were bold and masculine, overbearing to
their husbands in the first place, absolute mistresses in their houses,
giving their opinions about public matters freely, and speaking openly
even on the most important subjects. But the matrons, under the
government of Numa, still indeed received from their husbands all that
high respect and honor which had been paid them under Romulus as a sort
of atonement for the violence done to them; nevertheless, great modesty
was enjoined upon them; all busy intermeddling forbidden, sobriety
insisted on, and silence made habitual. Wine they were not to touch at
all, nor to speak, except in their husband's company, even on the most
ordinary subjects. So that once when a woman had the confidence to
plead her own cause in a court of judicature, the senate, it is said,
sent to inquire of the oracle what the prodigy did portend; and, indeed,
their general good behavior and submissiveness is justly proved by the
record of those that were otherwise; for as the Greek historians record
in their annals the names of those who first unsheathed the sword of
civil war, or murdered their brothers, or were parricides, or killed
their mothers, so the Roman writers report it as the first example, that
Spurius Carvilius divorced his wife, being a case that never before
happened, in the space of two hundred and thirty years from the
foundation of the city; and that one Thalaea, the wife of Pinarius, had
a quarrel (the first instance of the kind) with her mother-in-law,
Gegania, in the reign of Tarquinius Superbus; so successful was the
legislator in securing order and good conduct in the marriage relation.
Their respective regulations for marrying the young women are in
accordance with those for their education. Lycurgus made them brides
when they were of full age and inclination for it. Intercourse, where
nature was thus consulted, would produce, he thought, love and
tenderness, instead of the dislike and fear attending an unnatural
compulsion; and their bodies, also, would be better able to bear the
trials of breeding and of bearing children, in his judgment
the one end of marriage.
Astolos chiton, the under garment, frock, or tunic, without anything,
either himation or peplus, over it.

The Romans, on the other hand, gave their daughters in marriage as early
as twelve years old, or even under; thus they thought their bodies alike
and minds would be delivered to the future husband pure and undefiled.
The way of Lycurgus seems the more natural with a view to the birth of
children; the other, looking to a life to be spent together, is more
moral. However, the rules which Lycurgus drew up for superintendence of
children, their collection into companies, their discipline and
association, as also his exact regulations for their meals, exercises,
and sports, argue Numa no more than an ordinary lawgiver. Numa left the
whole matter simply to be decided by the parent's wishes or necessities;
he might, if he pleased, make his son a husbandman or carpenter,
coppersmith or musician; as if it were of no importance for them to be
directed and trained up from the beginning to one and the same common
end, or as though it would do for them to be like passengers on
shipboard, brought thither each for his own ends and by his own choice,
uniting to act for the common good only in time of danger upon occasion
of their private fears, in general looking simply to their own interest.

We may forbear, indeed, to blame common legislators, who may be
deficient in power or knowledge. But when a wise man like Numa had
received the sovereignty over a new and docile people, was there any
thing that would better deserve his attention than the education of
children, and the training up of the young, not to contrariety and
discordance of character, but to the unity of the common model of
virtue, to which from their cradle they should have been formed and
molded? One benefit among many that Lycurgus obtained by his course was
the permanence which it secured to his laws. The obligation of oaths to
preserve them would have availed but little, if he had not, by
discipline and education, infused them into the children's characters,
and imbued their whole early life with a love of his government. The
result was that the main points and fundamentals of his legislation
continued for above five hundred years, like some deep and thoroughly
ingrained tincture, retaining their hold upon the nation. But Numa's
whole design and aim, the continuance of peace and good-will, on his
death vanished with him; no sooner did he expire his last breath than
the gates of Janus's temple flew wide open, and, as if war had, indeed,
been kept and caged up within those walls, it rushed forth to fill all
Italy with blood and slaughter; and thus that best and justest fabric of
things was of no long continuance, because it wanted that cement which
should have kept all together, education. What, then, some may say, has
not Rome been advanced and bettered by her wars? A question that will
need a long answer, if it is to be one to satisfy men who take the
better to consist in riches, luxury, and dominion, rather than in
security, gentleness, and that independence which is accompanied by
justice. However, it makes much for Lycurgus, that, after the Romans
deserted the doctrine and discipline of Numa, their empire grew and
their power increased so much; whereas so soon as the Lacedaemonians
fell from the institutions of Lycurgus, they sank from the highest to
the lowest state, and, after forfeiting their supremacy over the rest of
Greece, were themselves in danger of absolute extirpation. Thus much,
meantime, was peculiarly signal and almost divine in the circumstances
of Numa, that he was an alien, and yet courted to come and accept a
kingdom, the frame of which though he entirely altered, yet he performed
it by mere persuasion, and ruled a city that as yet had scarce become
one city, without recurring to arms or any violence (such as Lycurgus
used, supporting himself by the aid of the nobler citizens against the
commonalty), but, by mere force of wisdom and justice, established union
and harmony amongst all.


Didymus, the grammarian, in his answer to Asclepiades concerning Solon's
Tables of Law, mentions a passage of one Philocles, who states that
Solon's father's name was Euphorion, contrary to the opinion of all
others who have written concerning him; for they generally agree that he
was the son of Execestides, a man of moderate wealth and power in the
city, but of a most noble stock, being descended from Codrus; his mother,
as Heraclides Ponticus affirms, was cousin to Pisistratus's
mother, and the two at first were great friends, partly because they
were akin, and partly because of Pisistratus's noble qualities and
beauty. And they say Solon loved him; and that is the reason, I
suppose, that when afterwards they differed about the government, their
enmity never produced any hot and violent passion, they remembered their
old kindnesses, and retained--

Still in its embers living the strong fire

of their love and dear affection. For that Solon was not proof against
beauty, nor of courage to stand up to passion and meet it,

Hand to hand as in the ring--

we may conjecture by his poems, and one of his laws, in which there are
practices forbidden to slaves, which he would appear, therefore, to
recommend to freemen. Pisistratus, it is stated, was similarly attached
to one Charmus; he it was who dedicated the figure of Love in the
Academy, where the runners in the sacred torch-race light their torches.
Solon, as Hermippus writes, when his father had ruined his estate in
doing benefits and kindnesses to other men, though he had friends enough
that were willing to contribute to his relief, yet was ashamed to be
beholden to others, since he was descended from a family who were
accustomed to do kindnesses rather than receive them; and therefore
applied himself to merchandise in his youth; though others assure us
that he traveled rather to get learning and experience than to make
money. It is certain that he was a lover of knowledge, for when he was
old he would say, that he

Each day grew older, and learnt something new,

and yet no admirer of riches, esteeming as equally wealthy the man,--

Who hath both gold and silver in his hand,
Horses and mules, and acres of wheat-land,
And him whose all is decent food to eat,
Clothes to his back and shoes upon his feet,
And a young wife and child, since so 'twill be,
And no more years than will with that agree;--

and in another place,--

Wealth I would have, but wealth by wrong procure
I would not; justice, e'en if slow, is sure.

And it is perfectly possible for a good man and a statesman, without
being solicitous for superfluities, to show some concern for competent
necessaries. In his time, as Hesiod says, --"Work was a shame to none,"
nor was any distinction made with respect to trade, but merchandise was
a noble calling, which brought home the good things which the barbarous
nations enjoyed, was the occasion of friendship with their kings, and a
great source of experience. Some merchants have built great cities, as
Protis, the founder of Massilia, to whom the Gauls near the Rhine were
much attached. Some report also that Thales and Hippocrates the
mathematician traded; and that Plato defrayed the charges of his travels
by selling oil in Egypt. Solon's softness and profuseness, his popular
rather than philosophical tone about pleasure in his poems, have been
ascribed to his trading life; for, having suffered a thousand dangers,
it was natural they should be recompensed with some gratifications and
enjoyments; but that he accounted himself rather poor than rich is
evident from the lines,

Some wicked men are rich, some good are poor,
We will not change our virtue for their store;
Virtue's a thing that none call take away,
But money changes owners all the day.

At first he used his poetry only in trifles, not for any serious
purpose, but simply to pass away his idle hours; but afterwards he
introduced moral sentences and state matters, which he did, not to
record them merely as an historian, but to justify his own actions, and
sometimes to correct, chastise, and stir up the Athenians to noble
performances. Some report that he designed to put his laws into heroic
verse, and that they began thus,--

We humbly beg a blessing on our laws
From mighty Jove, and honor, and applause.

In philosophy, as most of the wise men then, he chiefly
esteemed the political part of morals; in physics, he was very plain and
antiquated, as appears by this,--

It is the clouds that make the snow and hail,
And thunder comes from lightning without fail;
The sea is stormy when the winds have blown,
But it deals fairly when 'tis left alone.

And, indeed, it is probable that at that time Thales alone had raised
philosophy above mere practice into speculation; and the rest of the
wise men were so called from prudence in political concerns. It is
said, that they had an interview at Delphi, and another at Corinth, by
the procurement of Periander, who made a meeting for them, and a supper.
But their reputation was chiefly raised by sending the tripod to them
all, by their modest refusal, and complaisant yielding to one another.
For, as the story goes, some of the Coans fishing with a net, some
strangers, Milesians, bought the draught at a venture; the net brought
up a golden tripod, which, they say, Helen, at her return from Troy,
upon the remembrance of an old prophecy, threw in there. Now, the
strangers at first contesting with the fishers about the tripod, and the
cities espousing the quarrel so far as to engage themselves in a war,
Apollo decided the controversy by commanding to present it to the wisest
man; and first it was sent to Miletus to Thales, the Coans freely
presenting him with that for which they fought against the whole body of
the Milesians; but, Thales declaring Bias the wiser person, it was sent
to him; from him to another; and so, going round them all, it came to
Thales a second time; and, at last, being carried from Miletus to
Thebes, was there dedicated to Apollo Ismenius. Theophrastus writes
that it was first presented to Bias at Priene; and next to Thales at
Miletus, and so through all it returned to Bias, and was afterwards sent
to Delphi. This is the general report, only some, instead of a tripod,
say this present was a cup sent by Croesus; others, a piece of plate
that one Bathycles had left. It is stated, that Anacharsis and Solon,
and Solon and Thales, were familiarly acquainted, and some have
delivered parts of their discourse; for, they say, Anacharsis, coming to
Athens, knocked at Solon's door, and told him, that he, being a
stranger, was come to be his guest, and contract a friendship with him;
and Solon replying, "It is better to make friends at home," Anacharsis
replied, "Then you that are at home make friendship with me." Solon,
somewhat surprised at the readiness of the repartee, received him
kindly, and kept him some time with him, being already engaged in public
business and the compilation of his laws; which when Anacharsis
understood, he laughed at him for imagining the dishonesty and
covetousness of his countrymen could be restrained by written laws,
which were like spiders' webs, and would catch, it is true, the weak and
poor, but easily be broken by the mighty and rich. To this Solon
rejoined that men keep their promises when neither side can get anything
by the breaking of them; and he would so fit his laws to the
citizens, that all should understand it was more eligible to be just
than to break the laws. But the event rather agreed with the conjecture
of Anacharsis than Solon's hope. Anacharsis, being once at the
assembly, expressed his wonder at the fact that in Greece wise men spoke
and fools decided.

Solon went, they say, to Thales at Miletus, and wondered that Thales
took no care to get him a wife and children. To this, Thales made no
answer for the present; but, a few days after, procured a stranger to
pretend that he had left Athens ten days ago; and Solon inquiring what
news there, the man, according to his instructions, replied, "None but a
young man's funeral, which the whole city attended; for he was the son,
they said, of an honorable man, the most virtuous of the citizens, who
was not then at home, but had been traveling a long time." Solon
replied, "What a miserable man is he! But what was his name?" "I have
heard it," says the man, "but have now forgotten it, only there was
great talk of his wisdom and his justice." Thus Solon was drawn on by
every answer, and his fears heightened, till at last, being extremely
concerned, he mentioned his own name, and asked the stranger if that
young man was called Solon's son; and the stranger assenting, he began
to beat his head, and to do and say all that is usual with men in
transports of grief. But Thales took his hand, and, with a smile, said,
"These things, Solon, keep me from marriage and rearing children, which
are too great for even your constancy to support; however, be not
concerned at the report, for it is a fiction." This Hermippus relates,
from Pataecus, who boasted that he had Aesop's soul.

However, it is irrational and poor-spirited not to seek conveniences for
fear of losing them, for upon the same account we should not allow
ourselves to like wealth, glory, or wisdom, since we may fear to be
deprived of all these; nay, even virtue itself, than which there is no
greater nor more desirable possession, is often suspended by sickness or
drugs. Now Thales, though unmarried, could not be free from solicitude,
unless he likewise felt no care for his friends, his kinsmen, or his
country; yet we are told he adopted Cybisthus, his sister's son. For
the soul, having a principle of kindness in itself, and being born to
love, as well as perceive, think, or remember, inclines and fixes upon
some stranger, when a man has none of his own to embrace. And alien or
illegitimate objects insinuate themselves into his affections, as into
some estate that lacks lawful heirs; and with affection come anxiety and
care; insomuch that you may see men that use the strongest language
against the marriage-bed and the fruit of it, when some servant's or
concubine's child is sick or dies, almost killed with grief, and
abjectly lamenting. Some have given way to shameful and desperate
sorrow at the loss of a dog or horse; others have borne the deaths of
virtuous children without any extravagant or unbecoming grief; have
passed the rest of their lives like men, and according to the principles
of reason. It is not affection, it is weakness, that brings men,
unarmed against fortune by reason, into these endless pains and terrors;
and they indeed have not even the present enjoyment of what they dote
upon, the possibility of the future loss causing them continual pangs,
tremors, and distresses. We must not provide against the loss of wealth
by poverty, or of friends by refusing all acquaintance, or of children
by having none, but by morality and reason. But of this too much.

Now, when the Athenians were tired with a tedious and difficult war that
they conducted against the Megarians for the island Salamis, and made a
law that it should be death for any man, by writing or speaking, to
assert that the city ought to endeavor to recover it, Solon, vexed at
the disgrace, and perceiving thousands of the youth wished for somebody
to begin, but did not dare to stir first for fear of the law,
counterfeited a distraction, and by his own family it was spread about
the city that he was mad. He then secretly composed some elegiac
verses, and getting them by heart, that it might seem extempore, ran out
into the place with a cap upon his head, and, the people gathering about
him, got upon the herald's stand, and sang that elegy which begins

I am a herald come from Salamis the fair,
My news from thence my verses shall declare.

The poem is called Salamis, it contains one hundred verses, very
elegantly written; when it had been sung, his friends commended it, and
especially Pisistratus exhorted the citizens to obey his directions;
insomuch that they recalled the law, and renewed the war under Solon's
conduct. The popular tale is, that with Pisistratus he sailed to
Colias, and, finding the women, according to the custom of the country
there, sacrificing to Ceres, he sent a trusty friend to Salamis, who
should pretend himself a renegade, and advise them, if they desired to
seize the chief Athenian women, to come with him at once to Colias; the
Megarians presently sent of men in the vessel with him; and Solon,
seeing it put off from the island, commanded the women to be gone, and
some beardless youths, dressed in their clothes, their shoes, and caps,
and privately armed with daggers, to dance and play near the shore till
the enemies had landed and the vessel was in their power. Things being
thus ordered, the Megarians were allured with the appearance, and,
coming to the shore, jumped out, eager who should first seize a prize,
so that not one of them escaped; and the Athenians set sail for the
island and took it.

Others say that it was not taken this way, but that he first received
this oracle from Delphi:

Those heroes that in fair Asopia rest,
All buried with their faces to the west,
Go and appease with offerings of the best;

and that Solon, sailing by night to the island, sacrificed to the heroes
Periphemus and Cychreus, and then, taking five hundred Athenian
volunteers (a law having passed that those that took the island should
be highest in the government), with a number of fisher-boats and one
thirty-oared ship, anchored in a bay of Salamis that looks towards
Nisaea; and the Megarians that were then in the island, hearing only an
uncertain report, hurried to their arms, and sent a ship to reconnoiter
the enemies. This ship Solon took, and, securing the Megarians, manned
it with Athenians, and gave them orders to sail to the island with as
much privacy as possible; meantime he, with the other soldiers, marched
against the Megarians by land, and whilst they were fighting, those from
the ship took the city. And this narrative is confirmed by the
following solemnity, that was afterwards observed: an Athenian ship used
to sail silently at first to the island, then, with noise and a great
shout, one leapt out armed, and with a loud cry ran to the promontory
Sciradium to meet those that approached upon the land. And just by
there stands a temple which Solon dedicated to Mars. For he beat the
Megarians, and as many as were not killed in the battle he sent away
upon conditions.

The Megarians, however, still contending, and both sides having received
considerable losses, they chose the Spartans for arbitrators. Now, many
affirm that Homer's authority did Solon a considerable kindness, and
that, introducing a line into the Catalog of Ships, when the matter was
to be determined, he read the passage as follows:

Twelve ships from Salamis stout Ajax brought,
And ranked his men where the Athenians fought.

The Athenians, however, call this but an idle story, and report, that
Solon made it appear to the judges, that Philaeus and Eurysaces, the
sons of Ajax, being made citizens of Athens, gave them the island, and
that one of them dwelt at Brauron in Attica, the other at Melite; and
they have a township of Philaidae, to which Pisistratus belonged,
deriving its name from this Philaeus. Solon took a farther argument
against the Megarians from the dead bodies, which, he said, were not
buried after their fashion but according to the Athenian; for the
Megarians turn the corpse to the east, the Athenians to the west. But
Hereas the Megarian denies this, and affirms that they likewise turn the
body to the west, and also that the Athenians have a separate tomb for
every body, but the Megarians put two or three into one. However, some
of Apollo's oracles, where he calls Salamis Ionian, made much for Solon.
This matter was determined by five Spartans, Critolaidas, Amompharetus,
Hypsechidas, Anaxilas, and Cleomenes.

For this, Solon grew famed and powerful; but his advice in favor of
defending the oracle at Delphi, to give aid, and not to suffer the
Cirrhaeans to profane it, but to maintain the honor of the god, got him
most repute among the Greeks: for upon his persuasion the Amphictyons
undertook the war, as, amongst others, Aristotle affirms, in his
enumeration of the victors at the Pythian games, where he makes Solon
the author of this counsel. Solon, however, was not general in that
expedition, as Hermippus states, out of Evanthes the Samian; for
Aeschines the orator says no such thing, and, in the Delphian register,
Alcmaeon, not Solon, is named as commander of the Athenians.

Now the Cylonian pollution had a long while disturbed the commonwealth,
ever since the time when Megacles the archon persuaded the conspirators
with Cylon that took sanctuary in Minerva's temple to come down and
stand to a fair trial. And they, tying a thread to the image, and
holding one end of it, went down to the tribunal; but when they came to
the temple of the Furies, the thread broke of its own accord, upon
which, as if the goddess had refused them protection, they were seized
by Megacles and the other magistrates; as many as were without the
temples were stoned, those that fled for sanctuary were butchered at the
altar, and only those escaped who made supplication to the wives of the
magistrates. But they from that time were considered under pollution,
and regarded with hatred. The remainder of the faction of Cylon grew
strong again, and had continual quarrels with the family of Megacles;
and now the quarrel being at its height, and the people divided, Solon,
being in reputation, interposed with the chiefest of the Athenians, and
by entreaty and admonition persuaded the polluted to submit to a trial
and the decision of three hundred noble citizens. And Myron of Phlya
being their accuser, they were found guilty, and as many as were then
alive were banished, and the bodies of the dead were dug up, and
scattered beyond the confines of the country. In the midst of these
distractions, the Megarians falling upon them, they lost Nisaea and
Salamis again; besides, the city was disturbed with superstitious fears
and strange appearances, and the priests declared that the sacrifices
intimated some villanies and pollutions that were to be expiated. Upon
this, they sent for Epimenides the Phaestian from Crete, who is counted
the seventh wise man by those that will not admit Periander into the
number. He seems to have been thought a favorite of heaven, possessed
of knowledge in all the supernatural and ritual parts of religion; and,
therefore, the men of his age called him a new Cures, and son of a
nymph named Balte. When he came to Athens, and grew acquainted with
Solon, he served him in many instances, and prepared the way for his
legislation. He made them moderate in their forms of worship, and
abated their mourning by ordering some sacrifices presently after the
funeral, and taking off those severe and barbarous ceremonies which the
women usually practiced; but the greatest benefit was his purifying and
sanctifying the city, by certain propitiatory and expiatory lustrations,
and foundation of sacred buildings; by that means making them more
submissive to justice, and more inclined to harmony. It is reported
that, looking upon Munychia, and considering a long while, he said to
those that stood by, "How blind is man in future things! for did the
Athenians foresee what mischief this would do their city, they would
even eat it with their own teeth to be rid of it." A similar
anticipation is ascribed to Thales; they say he commanded his friends to
bury him in an obscure and contemned quarter of the territory of
Miletus, saying that it should some day be the marketplace of the
Milesians. Epimenides, being much honored, and receiving from the city
rich offers of large gifts and privileges, requested but one branch of
the sacred olive, and, on that being granted, returned.

The Athenians, now the Cylonian sedition was over and the polluted gone
into banishment, fell into their old quarrels about the government,
there being as many different parties as there were diversities in the
country. The Hill quarter favored democracy, the Plain, oligarchy, and
those that lived by the Sea-side stood for a mixed sort of government,
and so hindered either of the other parties from prevailing. And the
disparity of fortune between the rich and the poor, at that time, also
reached its height; so that the city seemed to be in a truly dangerous
condition, and no other means for freeing it from disturbances and
settling it, to be possible but a despotic power. All the people were
indebted to the rich; and either they tilled their land for their
creditors, paying them a sixth part of the increase, and were,
therefore, called Hectemorii and Thetes, or else they engaged their body
for the debt, and might be seized, and either sent into slavery at home,
or sold to strangers; some (for no law forbade it) were forced to sell
their children, or fly their country to avoid the cruelty of their
creditors; but the most part and the bravest of them began to combine
together and encourage one another to stand to it, to choose a leader,
to liberate the condemned debtors, divide the land,
and change the government.

Then the wisest of the Athenians, perceiving Solon was of all men the
only one not implicated in the troubles, that he had not joined in the
exactions of the rich, and was not involved in the necessities of the
poor, pressed him to succor the commonwealth and compose the
differences. Though Phanias the Lesbian affirms, that Solon, to save
his country, put a trick upon both parties, and privately promised the
poor a division of the lands, and the rich, security for their debts.
Solon, however, himself, says that it was reluctantly at first that he
engaged in state affairs, being afraid of the pride of one party and the
greediness of the other; he was chosen archon, however, after
Philombrotus, and empowered to be an arbitrator and lawgiver; the rich
consenting because he was wealthy, the poor because he was honest.
There was a saying of his current before the election, that when things
are even there never can be war, and this pleased both parties, the
wealthy and the poor; the one conceiving him to mean, when all have
their fair proportion; the others, when all are absolutely equal. Thus,
there being great hopes on both sides, the chief men pressed Solon to
take the government into his own hands, and, when he was once settled,
manage the business freely and according to his pleasure; and many of
the commons, perceiving it would be a difficult change to be effected by
law and reason, were willing to have one wise and just man set over the
affairs; and some say that Solon had this oracle from Apollo--

Take the mid-seat, and be the vessel's guide;
Many in Athens are upon your side.

But chiefly his familiar friends chid him for disaffecting monarchy only
because of the name, as if the virtue of the ruler could not make it a
lawful form; Euboea had made this experiment when it chose Tynnondas,
and Mitylene, which had made Pittacus its prince; yet this could not
shake Solon's resolution; but, as they say, he replied to his friends,
that it was true a tyranny was a very fair spot, but it had no way down
from it; and in a copy of verses to Phocus he writes.--

--that I spared my land,
And withheld from usurpation and from violence my hand,
And forbore to fix a stain and a disgrace on my good name,
I regret not; I believe that it will be my chiefest fame.

From which it is manifest that he was a man of great reputation before
he gave his laws. The several mocks that were put upon him for refusing
the power, he records in these words,--

Solon surely was a dreamer, and a man of simple mind;
When the gods would give him fortune, he of his own will declined;
When the net was full of fishes, over-heavy thinking it,
He declined to haul it up, through want of heart and want of wit.
Had but I that chance of riches and of kingship, for one day,
I would give my skin for flaying, and my house to die away.

Thus he makes the many and the low people speak of him. Yet, though he
refused the government, he was not too mild in the affair; he did not
show himself mean and submissive to the powerful, nor make his laws to
pleasure those that chose him. For where it was well before, he applied
no remedy, nor altered anything, for fear lest,

Overthrowing altogether and disordering the state,

he should be too weak to new-model and recompose it to a tolerable
condition; but what he thought he could effect by persuasion upon the
pliable, and by force upon the stubborn, this he did,
as he himself says,

With force and justice working both one.

And, therefore, when he was afterwards asked if he had left the
Athenians the best laws that could be given, he replied, "The best they
could receive." The way which, the moderns say, the Athenians have of
softening the badness of a thing, by ingeniously giving it some pretty
and innocent appellation, calling harlots, for example, mistresses,
tributes customs, a garrison a guard, and the jail the chamber, seems
originally to have been Solon's contrivance, who called canceling debts
Seisacthea, a relief, or disencumbrance. For the first thing which he
settled was, that what debts remained should be forgiven, and no man,
for the future, should engage the body of his debtor for security.
Though some, as Androtion, affirm that the debts were not canceled, but
the interest only lessened, which sufficiently pleased the people; so
that they named this benefit the Seisacthea, together with the enlarging
their measures, and raising the value of their money; for he made a
pound, which before passed for seventy-three drachmas, go for a
hundred; so that, though the number of pieces in the payment was equal,
the value was less; which proved a considerable benefit to those that
were to discharge great debts, and no loss to the creditors. But most
agree that it was the taking off the debts that was called Seisacthea,
which is confirmed by some places in his poem, where he takes honor to
himself, that

The mortgage-stones that covered her, by me
Removed, --the land that was a slave is free;

that some who had been seized for their debts he had brought back from
other countries, where

--so far their lot to roam,
They had forgot the language of their home;

and some he had set at liberty,--

Who here in shameful servitude were held.

While he was designing this, a most vexatious thing happened; for when
he had resolved to take off the debts, and was considering the proper
form and fit beginning for it, he told some of his friends, Conon,
Clinias, and Hipponicus, in whom he had a great deal of confidence, that
he would not meddle with the lands, but only free the people from their
debts; upon which, they, using their advantage, made haste and borrowed
some considerable sums of money, and purchased some large farms; and
when the law was enacted, they kept the possessions, and would not
return the money; which brought Solon into great suspicion and dislike,
as if he himself had not been abused, but was concerned in the
contrivance. But he presently stopped this suspicion, by releasing his
debtors of five talents (for he had lent so much), according to the law;
others, as Polyzelus the Rhodian, say fifteen; his friends, however,
were ever afterward called Chreocopidae, repudiators.

In this he pleased neither party, for the rich were angry for their
money, and the poor that the land was not divided, and, as Lycurgus
ordered in his commonwealth, all men reduced to equality. He, it is
true, being the eleventh from Hercules, and having reigned many years in
Lacedaemon, had got a great reputation and friends and power, which he
could use in modeling his state; and, applying force more than
persuasion, insomuch that he lost his eye in the scuffle, was able to
employ the most effectual means for the safety and harmony of a state,
by not permitting any to be poor or rich in his commonwealth. Solon
could not rise to that in his polity, being but a citizen of the middle
classes; yet he acted fully up to the height of his power, having
nothing but the good-will and good opinion of his citizens to rely on;
and that he offended the most part, who looked for another result, he
declares in the words,

Formerly they boasted of me vainly; with averted eyes
Now they look askance upon me; friends no more, but enemies.

And yet had any other man, he says, received the same power,

He would not have forborne, nor let alone,
But made the fattest of the milk his own.

Soon, however, becoming sensible of the good that was done, they laid by
their grudges, made a public sacrifice, calling it Seisacthea, and chose
Solon to new-model and make laws for the commonwealth, giving him the
entire power over everything, their magistracies, their assemblies,
courts, and councils; that he should appoint the number, times of
meeting, and what estate they must have that could be capable of these,
and dissolve or continue any of the present constitutions,
according to his pleasure.

First, then, he repealed all Draco's laws, except those concerning
homicide, because they were too severe, and the punishments too great;
for death was appointed for almost all offenses, insomuch that those
that were convicted of idleness were to die, and those that stole a
cabbage or an apple to suffer even as villains that committed sacrilege
or murder. So that Demades, in after time, was thought to have said
very happily, that Draco's laws were written not with ink, but blood;
and he himself, being once asked why he made death the punishment of
most offenses, replied, "Small ones deserve that, and I have no higher
for the greater crimes."

Next, Solon, being willing to continue the magistracies in the hands of
the rich men, and yet receive the people into the other part of the
government, took an account of the citizens' estates, and those that
were worth five hundred measures of fruits, dry and liquid, he placed in
the first rank, calling them Pentacosiomedimni; those that could keep an
horse, or were worth three hundred measures, were named Hippada
Teluntes, and made the second class; the Zeugitae, that had two hundred
measures, were in the third; and all the others were called Thetes, who
were not admitted to any office, but could come to the assembly, and act
as jurors; which at first seemed nothing, but afterwards was found an
enormous privilege, as almost every matter of dispute came before them
in this latter capacity. Even in the cases which he assigned to the
archons' cognizance, he allowed an appeal to the courts. Besides, it is
said that he was obscure and ambiguous in the wording of his laws, on
purpose to increase the honor of his courts; for since their differences
could not be adjusted by the letter, they would have to bring all their
causes to the judges, who thus were in a manner masters of the laws. Of
this equalization he himself makes mention in this manner:

Such power I gave the people as might do,
Abridged not what they had, now lavished new.
Those that were great in wealth and high in place,
My counsel likewise kept from all disgrace.
Before them both I held my shield of might,
And let not either touch the other's right.

And for the greater security of the weak commons, he gave general
liberty of indicting for an act of injury; if any one was beaten,
maimed, or suffered any violence, any man that would and was able, might
prosecute the wrongdoer; intending by this to accustom the citizens,
like members of the same body, to resent and be sensible of one
another's injuries. And there is a saying of his agreeable to this law,
for, being asked what city was best modeled, "That," said he, "where
those that are not injured try and punish the unjust as much as those
that are."

When he had constituted the Areopagus of those who had been yearly
archons, of which he himself was a member therefore, observing that the
people, now free from their debts, were unsettled and imperious, he
formed another council of four hundred, a hundred out of each of the
four tribes, which was to inspect all matters before they were
propounded to the people, and to take care that nothing but what had
been first examined should be brought before the general assembly. The
upper council, or Areopagus, he made inspectors and keepers of the laws,
conceiving that the commonwealth, held by these two councils, like
anchors, would be less liable to be tossed by tumults, and the people be
more at quiet. Such is the general statement, that Solon instituted the
Areopagus; which seems to be confirmed, because Draco makes no mention
of the Areopagites, but in all causes of blood refers to the Ephetae;
yet Solon's thirteenth table contains the eighth law set down in these
very words: "Whoever before Solon's archonship were disfranchised, let
them be restored, except those that, being condemned by the Areopagus,
Ephetae, or in the Prytaneum by the kings, for homicide, murder, or
designs against the government, were in banishment when this law was
made;" and these words seem to show that the Areopagus existed before
Solon's laws, for who could be condemned by that council before his
time, if he was the first that instituted the court? unless, which is
probable, there is some ellipsis, or want of precision, in the language,
and it should run thus, -- "Those that are convicted of such offenses as
belong to the cognizance of the Areopagites, Ephetae, or the Prytanes,
when this law was made," shall remain still in disgrace, whilst others
are restored; of this the reader must judge.

Amongst his other laws, one is very peculiar and surprising, which
disfranchises all who stand neuter in a sedition; for it seems he would
not have any one remain insensible and regardless of the public good,
and, securing his private affairs, glory that he has no feeling of the
distempers of his country; but at once join with the good party and
those that have the right upon their side, assist and venture with them,
rather than keep out of harm's way and watch who would get the better.
It seems an absurd and foolish law which permits an heiress, if her
lawful husband fail her, to take his nearest kinsman; yet some say this
law was well contrived against those, who, conscious of their own
unfitness, yet, for the sake of the portion, would match with heiresses,
and make use of law to put a violence upon nature; for now, since she
can quit him for whom she pleases, they would either abstain from such
marriages, or continue them with disgrace, and suffer for their
covetousness and designed affront; it is well done, moreover, to confine
her to her husband's nearest kinsman, that the children may be of the
same family. Agreeable to this is the law that the bride and bridegroom
shall be shut into a chamber, and eat a quince together; and that the
husband of an heiress shall consort with her thrice a month; for though
there be no children, yet it is an honor and due affection which an
husband ought to pay to a virtuous, chaste wife; it takes off all petty
differences, and will not permit their little quarrels
to proceed to a rupture.

In all other marriages he forbade dowries to be given; the wife was to
have three suits of clothes, a little inconsiderable household stuff,
and that was all; for he would not have marriages contracted for gain or
an estate, but for pure love, kind affection, and birth of children.
When the mother of Dionysius desired him to marry her to one of his
citizens, "Indeed," said he, "by my tyranny I have broken my country's
laws, but cannot put a violence upon those of nature by an unseasonable
marriage." Such disorder is never to be suffered in a commonwealth, nor
such unseasonable and unloving and unperforming marriages, which attain
no due end or fruit; any provident governor or lawgiver might say to an
old man that takes a young wife what is said to Philoctetes
in the tragedy,--

Truly, in a fit state thou to marry!

and if he finds a young man, with a rich and elderly wife, growing fat
in his place, like the partridges, remove him to a young woman of proper
age. And of this enough.

Another commendable law of Solon's is that which forbids men to speak
evil of the dead; for it is pious to think the deceased sacred, and
just, not to meddle with those that are gone, and politic, to prevent
the perpetuity of discord. He likewise forbade them to speak evil of
the living in the temples, the courts of justice, the public offices, or
at the games, or else to pay three drachmas to the person, and two to
the public. For never to be able to control passion shows a weak nature
and ill-breeding; and always to moderate it is very hard, and to some
impossible. And laws must look to possibilities, if the maker designs
to punish few in order to their amendment, and not many to no purpose.

He is likewise much commended for his law concerning wills; for before
him none could be made, but all the wealth and estate of the deceased
belonged to his family; but he, by permitting them, if they had no
children, to bestow it on whom they pleased, showed that he esteemed
friendship a stronger tie than kindred, and affection than necessity;
and made every man's estate truly his own. Yet he allowed not all sorts
of legacies, but those only which were not extorted by the frenzy of a
disease, charms, imprisonment, force, or the persuasions of a wife; with
good reason thinking that being seduced into wrong was as bad as being
forced, and that between deceit and necessity, flattery and compulsion,
there was little difference, since both may equally suspend
the exercise of reason.

He regulated the walks, feasts, and mourning of the women, and took away
everything that was either unbecoming or immodest; when they walked
abroad, no more than three articles of dress were allowed them; an
obol's worth of meat and drink; and no basket above a cubit high; and at
night they were not to go about unless in a chariot with a torch before
them. Mourners tearing themselves to raise pity, and set wailings, and
at one man's funeral to lament for another, he forbade. To offer an ox
at the grave was not permitted, nor to bury above three pieces of dress
with the body, or visit the tombs of any besides their own family,
unless at the very funeral; most of which are likewise forbidden by our
laws,@ but this is further added in ours, that those that are convicted
of extravagance in their mournings, are to be punished as soft and
effeminate by the censors of women.

Observing the city to be filled with persons that flocked from all parts
into Attica for security of living, and that most of the country was
barren and unfruitful, and that traders at sea import nothing to those
that could give them nothing in exchange, he turned his citizens to
trade, and made a law that no son should be obliged to relieve a father
who had not bred him up to any calling. It is true, Lycurgus, having a
city free from all strangers, and land, according to Euripides,

Large for large hosts, for twice their number much,

and, above all, an abundance of laborers about Sparta, who should not be
left idle, but be kept down with continual toil and work, did well to
take off his citizens from laborious and mechanical occupations, and
keep them to their arms, and teach them only the art of war. But Solon,
fitting his laws to the state of things, and not making things to suit
his laws, and finding the ground scarce rich enough to maintain the
husbandmen, and altogether incapable of feeding an unoccupied and
leisurely multitude, brought trades into credit, and ordered the
Areopagites to examine how every man got his living, and chastise the
idle. But that law was yet more rigid which, as Heraclides Ponticus
delivers, declared the sons of unmarried mothers not obliged to relieve
their fathers; for he that avoids the honorable form of union shows that
he does not take a woman for children, but for pleasure, and thus gets
his just reward, and has taken away from himself every title to upbraid
his children, to whom he has made their very birth
a scandal and reproach.

Solon's laws in general about women are his strangest; for he permitted
any one to kill an adulterer that found him in the act; but if any one
forced a free woman, a hundred drachmas was the fine; if he enticed her,
twenty; except those that sell themselves openly, that is, harlots, who
go openly to those that hire them. He made it unlawful to sell a
daughter or a sister, unless, being yet unmarried, she was found wanton.
Now it is irrational to punish the same crime sometimes very severely
and without remorse, and sometimes very lightly, and, as it were, in
sport, with a trivial fine; unless, there being little money then in
Athens, scarcity made those mulcts the more grievous punishment. In the
valuation for sacrifices, a sheep and a bushel were both estimated at a
drachma; the victor in the Isthmian games was to have for reward a
hundred drachmas; the conqueror in the Olympian, five hundred; he that
brought a wolf, five drachmas; for a whelp, one; the former sum, as
Demetrius the Phalerian asserts, was the value of an ox, the latter, of
a sheep. The prices which Solon, in his sixteenth table, sets on choice
victims, were naturally far greater; yet they, too, are very low in
comparison of the present. The Athenians were, from the beginning, great
enemies to wolves, their fields being better for pasture than corn.
Some affirm their tribes did not take their names from the sons of Ion,
but from the different sorts of occupation that they followed; the
soldiers were called Hoplitae, the craftsmen Ergades, and, of the
remaining two, the farmers Gedeontes,
and the shepherds and graziers Aegicores.

Since the country has but few rivers, lakes, or large springs, and many
used wells which they had dug, there was a law made, that, where there
was a public well within a hippicon, that is, four furlongs, all should
draw at that; but, when it was farther off, they should try and procure
a well of their own; and, if they had dug ten fathom deep and could find
no water, they had liberty to fetch a pitcherful of four gallons and a
half in a day from their neighbors'; for he thought it prudent to make
provision against want, but not to supply laziness. He showed skill in
his orders about planting, for any one that would plant another tree was
not to set it within five feet of his neighbor's field; but if a fig or
an olive, not within nine; for their roots spread farther, nor can they
be planted near all sorts of trees without damage, for they draw away
the nourishment, and in some cases are noxious by their effluvia. He
that would dig a pit or a ditch was to dig it at the distance of its own
depth from his neighbor's ground; and he that would raise stocks of bees
was not to place them within three hundred feet of those which another
had already raised.

He permitted only oil to be exported, and those that exported any other
fruit, the archon was solemnly to curse, or else pay an hundred drachmas
himself; and this law was written in his first table, and, therefore,
let none think it incredible, as some affirm, that the exportation of
figs was once unlawful, and the informer against the delinquents called
a sycophant. He made a law, also, concerning hurts and injuries from
beasts, in which he commands the master of any dog that bit a man to
deliver him up with a log about his neck, four and a half feet long; a
happy device for men's security. The law concerning naturalizing
strangers is of doubtful character; he permitted only those to be made
free of Athens who were in perpetual exile from their own country, or
came with their whole family to trade there; this he did, not to
discourage strangers, but rather to invite them to a permanent
participation in the privileges of the government; and, besides, he
thought those would prove the more faithful citizens who had been forced
from their own country, or voluntarily forsook it. The law of public
entertainment (parasitein is his name for it) is, also, peculiarly
Solon's, for if any man came often, or if he that was invited refused,
they were punished, for he concluded that one was greedy, the other a
contemner of the state.

All his laws he established for an hundred years, and wrote them on
wooden tables or rollers, named axones, which might be turned round in
oblong cases; some of their relics were in my time still to be seen in
the Prytaneum, or common hall, at Athens. These, as Aristotle states,
were called cyrbes, and there is a passage of Cratinus the comedian,

By Solon, and by Draco, if you please,
Whose Cyrbes make the fires that parch our peas.

But some say those are properly cyrbes, which contain laws concerning
sacrifices and the rites of religion, and all the others axones. The
council all jointly swore to confirm the laws, and every one of the
Thesmothetae vowed for himself at the stone in the marketplace, that, if
he broke any of the statutes, he would dedicate a golden statue, as big
as himself, at Delphi.

Observing the irregularity of the months, and that the moon does not
always rise and set with the sun, but often in the same day overtakes
and gets before him, he ordered the day should be named the Old and
New, attributing that part of it which was before the conjunction to
the old moon, and the rest to the new, he being the first, it seems,
that understood that verse of Homer,

The end and the beginning of the month,

and the following day he called the new moon. After the twentieth he
did not count by addition, but, like the moon itself in its wane, by
subtraction; thus up to the thirtieth.

Now when these laws were enacted, and some came to Solon every day, to
commend or dispraise them, and to advise, if possible, to leave out, or
put in something, and many criticized, and desired him to explain, and
tell the meaning of such and such a passage, he, knowing that to do it
was useless, and not to do it would get him ill-will, and desirous to
bring himself out of all straits, and to escape all displeasure and
exceptions, it being a hard thing, as he himself says,

In great affairs to satisfy all sides,

as an excuse for traveling, bought a trading vessel, and, having
obtained leave for ten years' absence, departed, hoping that by that
time his laws would have become familiar.

His first voyage was for Egypt, and he lived, as he himself says,

Near Nilus' mouth, by fair Canopus' shore,

and spent some time in study with Psenophis of Heliopolis, and Sonchis
the Saite, the most learned of all the priests; from whom, as Plato
says, getting knowledge of the Atlantic story, he put it into a poem,
and proposed to bring it to the knowledge of the Greeks. From thence he
sailed to Cyprus, where he was made much of by Philocyprus, one of the
kings there, who had a small city built by Demophon, Theseus's son, near
the river Clarius, in a strong situation, but incommodious and uneasy of
access. Solon persuaded him, since there lay a fair plain below, to
remove, and build there a pleasanter and more spacious city. And he
stayed himself, and assisted in gathering inhabitants, and in fitting it
both for defense and convenience of living; insomuch that many flocked
to Philocyprus, and the other kings imitated the design; and, therefore,
to honor Solon, he called the city Soli, which was formerly named Aepea.
And Solon himself, in his Elegies, addressing Philocyprus, mentions this
foundation in these words--

Long may you live, and fill the Solian throne,
Succeeded still by children of your own;
And from your happy island while I sail,
Let Cyprus send for me a favoring gale;
May she advance, and bless your new command,
Prosper your town, and send me safe to land.

That Solon should discourse with Croesus, some think not agreeable with
chronology; but I cannot reject so famous and well-attested a narrative,
and, what is more, so agreeable to Solon's temper, and so worthy his
wisdom and greatness of mind, because, forsooth, it does not agree with
some chronological canons, which thousands have endeavored to regulate,
and yet, to this day, could never bring their differing opinions to any
agreement. They say, therefore, that Solon, coming to Croesus at his
request, was in the same condition as an inland man when first he goes
to see the sea; for as he fancies every river he meets with to be the
ocean, so Solon, as he passed through the court, and saw a great many
nobles richly dressed, and proudly attended with a multitude of guards
and footboys, thought every one had been the king, till he was brought
to Croesus, who was decked with every possible rarity and curiosity, in
ornaments of jewels, purple, and gold, that could make a grand and
gorgeous spectacle of him. Now when Solon came before him, and seemed
not at all surprised, nor gave Croesus those compliments he expected,
but showed himself to all discerning eyes to be a man that despised the
gaudiness and petty ostentation of it, he commanded them to open all his
treasure houses, and carry him to see his sumptuous furniture and
luxuries though he did not wish it; Solon could judge of him well enough
by the first sight of him; and, when he returned from viewing all,
Croesus asked him if ever he had known a happier man than he. And when
Solon answered that he had known one Tellus, a fellow-citizen of his
own, and told him that this Tellus had been an honest man, had had good
children, a competent estate, and died bravely in battle for his
country, Croesus took him for an ill-bred fellow and a fool, for not
measuring happiness by the abundance of gold and silver, and preferring
the life and death of a private and mean man before so much power and
empire. He asked him, however, again, if, besides Tellus, he knew any
other man more happy. And Solon replying, Yes, Cleobis and Biton, who
were loving brothers, and extremely dutiful sons to their mother, and,
when the oxen delayed her, harnessed themselves to the wagon, and drew
her to Juno's temple, her neighbors all calling her happy, and she
herself rejoicing; then, after sacrificing and feasting, they went to
rest, and never rose again, but died in the midst of their honor a
painless and tranquil death, "What," said Croesus, angrily, "and dost
not thou reckon us amongst the happy men at all?" Solon, unwilling
either to flatter or exasperate him more, replied, "The gods, O king,
have given the Greeks all other gifts in moderate degree; and so our
wisdom, too, is a cheerful and a homely, not a noble and kingly wisdom;
and this, observing the numerous misfortunes that attend all conditions,
forbids us to grow insolent upon our present enjoyments, or to admire
any man's happiness that may yet, in course of time, suffer change. For
the uncertain future has yet to come, with every possible variety of
fortune; and him only to whom the divinity has continued happiness unto
the end, we call happy; to salute as happy one that is still in the
midst of life and hazard, we think as little safe and conclusive as to
crown and proclaim as victorious the wrestler that is yet in the ring."
After this, he was dismissed, having given Croesus some pain,
but no instruction.

Aesop, who wrote the fables, being then at Sardis upon Croesus's
invitation, and very much esteemed, was concerned that Solon was so ill-
received, and gave him this advice: "Solon, let your converse with kings
be either short or seasonable." "Nay, rather," replied Solon, "either
short or reasonable." So at this time Croesus despised Solon; but when
he was overcome by Cyrus, had lost his city, was taken alive, condemned
to be burnt, and laid bound upon the pile before all the Persians and
Cyrus himself, he cried out as loud as possibly he could three times, "O
Solon!" and Cyrus being surprised, and sending some to inquire what man
or god this Solon was, whom alone he invoked in this extremity, Croesus
told him the whole story, saying, "He was one of the wise men of Greece,
whom I sent for, not to be instructed, or to learn any thing that I
wanted, but that he should see and be a witness of my happiness; the
loss of which was, it seems, to be a greater evil than the enjoyment was
a good; for when I had them they were goods only in opinion, but now the
loss of them has brought upon me intolerable and real evils. And he,
conjecturing from what then was, this that now is, bade me look to the
end of my life, and not rely and grow proud upon uncertainties." When
this was told Cyrus, who was a wiser man than Croesus, and saw in the
present example Solon's maxim confirmed, he not only freed Croesus from
punishment, but honored him as long as he lived; and Solon had the
glory, by the same saying, to save one king and instruct another.

When Solon was gone, the citizens began to quarrel; Lycurgus headed the
Plain; Megacles, the son of Alcmaeon, those to the Sea-side; and
Pisistratus the Hill-party, in which were the poorest people, the
Thetes, and greatest enemies to the rich; insomuch that, though the city
still used the new laws, yet all looked for and desired a change of
government, hoping severally that the change would be better for them,
and put them above the contrary faction. Affairs standing thus, Solon
returned, and was reverenced by all, and honored; but his old age would
not permit him to be as active, and to speak in public, as formerly;
yet, by privately conferring with the heads of the factions, he
endeavored to compose the differences, Pisistratus appearing the most
tractable; for he was extremely smooth and engaging in his language, a
great friend to the poor, and moderate in his resentments; and what
nature had not given him, he had the skill to imitate; so that he was
trusted more than the others, being accounted a prudent and orderly man,
one that loved equality, and would be an enemy to any that moved against
the present settlement. Thus he deceived the majority of people; but
Solon quickly discovered his character, and found out his design before
any one else; yet did not hate him upon this, but endeavored to humble
him, and bring him off from his ambition, and often told him and others,
that if any one could banish the passion for preeminence from his mind,
and cure him of his desire of absolute power, none would make a more
virtuous man or a more excellent citizen. Thespis, at this time,
beginning to act tragedies, and the thing, because it was new, taking
very much with the multitude, though it was not yet made a matter of
competition, Solon, being by nature fond of hearing and learning
something new, and now, in his old age, living idly, and enjoying
himself, indeed, with music and with wine, went to see Thespis himself,
as the ancient custom was, act; and after the play was done, he
addressed him, and asked him if he was not ashamed to tell so many lies
before such a number of people; and Thespis replying that it was no harm
to say or do so in play, Solon vehemently struck his staff against the
ground: "Ay," said he, "if we honor and commend such play as this, we
shall find it some day in our business."

Now when Pisistratus, having wounded himself, was brought into the
marketplace in a chariot, and stirred up the people, as if he had been
thus treated by his opponents because of his political conduct, and a
great many were enraged and cried out, Solon, coming close to him, said,
"This, O son of Hippocrates, is a bad copy of Homer's Ulysses; you do,
to trick your countrymen, what he did to deceive his enemies." After
this, the people were eager to protect Pisistratus, and met in an
assembly, where one Ariston making a motion that they should allow
Pisistratus fifty clubmen for a guard to his person, Solon opposed it,
and said, much to the same purport as what he has left us in his poems,

You dote upon his words and taking phrase;

and again,--

True, you are singly each a crafty soul,
But all together make one empty fool.

But observing the poor men bent to gratify Pisistratus, and tumultuous,
and the rich fearful and getting out of harm's way, he departed, saying
he was wiser than some and stouter than others; wiser than those that
did not understand the design, stouter than those that, though they
understood it, were afraid to oppose the tyranny. Now, the people,
having passed the law, were not nice with Pisistratus about the number
of his clubmen, but took no notice of it, though he enlisted and kept as
many as he would, until he seized the Acropolis. When that was done,
and the city in an uproar, Megacles, with all his family, at once fled;
but Solon, though he was now very old, and had none to back him, yet
came into the marketplace and made a speech to the citizens, partly
blaming their inadvertency and meanness of spirit, and in part urging
and exhorting them not thus tamely to lose their liberty; and likewise
then spoke that memorable saying, that, before, it was an easier task to
stop the rising tyranny, but now the greater and more glorious action to
destroy it, when it was begun already, and had gathered strength. But
all being afraid to side with him, he returned home, and, taking his
arms, he brought them out and laid them in the porch before his door,
with these words: "I have done my part to maintain my country and my
laws," and then he busied himself no more. His friends advising him to
fly, he refused; but wrote poems,
and thus reproached the Athenians in them,--

If now you suffer, do not blame the Powers,
For they are good, and all the fault was ours.
All the strongholds you put into his hands,
And now his slaves must do what he commands.

And many telling him that the tyrant would take his life for this, and
asking what he trusted to, that he ventured to speak so boldly, he
replied, "To my old age." But Pisistratus, having got the command, so
extremely courted Solon, so honored him, obliged him, and sent to see
him, that Solon gave him his advice, and approved many of his actions;
for he retained most of Solon's laws, observed them himself, and
compelled his friends to obey. And he himself, though already absolute
ruler, being accused of murder before the Areopagus, came quietly to
clear himself; but his accuser did not appear. And he added other laws,
one of which is that the maimed in the wars should be maintained at the
public charge; this Heraclides Ponticus records, and that Pisistratus
followed Solon's example in this, who had decreed it in the case of one
Thersippus, that was maimed; and Theophrastus asserts that it was
Pisistratus, not Solon, that made that law against laziness, which was
the reason that the country was more productive,
and the city tranquiller.

Now Solon, having begun the great work in verse, the history or fable of
the Atlantic Island, which he had learned from the wise men in Sais, and
thought convenient for the Athenians to know, abandoned it; not, as
Plato says, by reason of want of time, but because of his age, and being
discouraged at the greatness of the task; for that he had leisure
enough, such verses testify, as

Each day grow older, and learn something new

and again,--

But now the Powers of Beauty, Song, and Wine,
Which are most men's delights, are also mine.

Plato, willing to improve the story of the Atlantic Island, as if it
were a fair estate that wanted an heir and came with some title to him,
formed, indeed, stately entrances, noble enclosures, large courts, such
as never yet introduced any story, fable, or poetic fiction; but,
beginning it late, ended his life before his work; and the reader's
regret for the unfinished part is the greater, as the satisfaction he
takes in that which is complete is extraordinary. For as the city of
Athens left only the temple of Jupiter Olympius unfinished, so Plato,
amongst all his excellent works, left this only piece about the Atlantic
Island imperfect. Solon lived after Pisistratus seized the government,
as Heraclides Ponticus asserts, a long time; but Phanias the Eresian
says not two full years; for Pisistratus began his tyranny when Comias
was archon, and Phanias says Solon died under Hegestratus, who succeeded
Comias. The story that his ashes were scattered about the island
Salamis is too strange to be easily believed, or be thought anything
but a mere fable; and yet it is given, amongst other good authors, by
Aristotle, the philosopher.


Such was Solon. To him we compare Poplicola, who received this later
title from the Roman people for his merit, as a noble accession to his
former name, Publius Valerius. He descended from Valerius, a man
amongst the early citizens, reputed the principal reconciler of the
differences betwixt the Romans and Sabines, and one that was most
instrumental in persuading their kings to assent to peace and union.
Thus descended, Publius Valerius, as it is said, whilst Rome remained
under its kingly government, obtained as great a name from his eloquence
as from his riches, charitably employing the one in liberal aid to the
poor, the other with integrity and freedom in the service of justice;
thereby giving assurance, that, should the government fall into a
republic, he would become a chief man in the community. The illegal and
wicked accession of Tarquinius Superbus to the crown, with his making
it, instead of kingly rule, the instrument of insolence and tyranny,
having inspired the people with a hatred to his reign, upon the death of
Lucretia (she killing herself after violence had been done to her), they
took an occasion of revolt; and Lucius Brutus, engaging in the change,
came to Valerius before all others, and, with his zealous assistance,
deposed the kings. And whilst the people inclined towards the electing
one leader instead of their king, Valerius acquiesced, that to rule was
rather Brutus's due, as the author of the democracy. But when the name
of monarchy was odious to the people, and a divided power appeared more
grateful in the prospect, and two were chosen to hold it, Valerius,
entertaining hopes that he might be elected consul with Brutus, was
disappointed; for, instead of Valerius, notwithstanding the endeavors of
Brutus, Tarquinius Collatinus was chosen, the husband of Lucretia, a man
noways his superior in merit. But the nobles, dreading the return of
their kings, who still used all endeavors abroad and solicitations at
home, were resolved upon a chieftain of an intense hatred to them, and
noways likely to yield.

Now Valerius was troubled, that his desire to serve his country should
be doubted, because he had sustained no private injury from the
insolence of the tyrants. He withdrew from the senate and practice of
the bar, quitting all public concerns; which gave an occasion of
discourse, and fear, too, lest his anger should reconcile him to the
king's side, and he should prove the ruin of the state, tottering as yet
under the uncertainties of a change. But Brutus being doubtful of some
others, and determining to give the test to the senate upon the altars,
upon the day appointed Valerius came with cheerfulness into the forum,
and was the first man that took the oath, in no way to submit or yield
to Tarquin's propositions, but rigorously to maintain liberty; which
gave great satisfaction to the senate and assurance to the consuls, his
actions soon after showing the sincerity of his oath. For ambassadors
came from Tarquin, with popular and specious proposals, whereby they
thought to seduce the people, as though the king had cast off all
insolence, and made moderation the only measure of his desires. To this
embassy the consuls thought fit to give public audience, but Valerius
opposed it, and would not permit that the poorer people, who entertained
more fear of war than of tyranny, should have any occasion offered them,
or any temptations to new designs. Afterwards other ambassadors
arrived, who declared their king would recede from his crown, and lay
down his arms, only capitulating for a restitution to himself, his
friends, and allies, of their moneys and estates to support them in
their banishment. Now, several inclining to the request, and
Collatinus in particular favoring it, Brutus, a man of vehement and
unbending nature, rushed into the forum, there proclaiming his fellow-
consul to be a traitor, in granting subsidies to tyranny, and supplies
for a war to those to whom it was monstrous to allow so much as
subsistence in exile. This caused an assembly of the citizens, amongst
whom the first that spake was Caius Minucius, a private man, who advised
Brutus, and urged the Romans to keep the property, and employ it against
the tyrants, rather than to remit it to the tyrants, to be used against
themselves. The Romans, however, decided that whilst they enjoyed the
liberty they had fought for, they should not sacrifice peace for the
sake of money, but send out the tyrants' property after them. This
question, however, of his property, was the least part of Tarquin's
design; the demand sounded the feelings of the people, and was
preparatory to a conspiracy which the ambassadors endeavored to excite,
delaying their return, under pretense of selling some of the goods and
reserving others to be sent away, till, in fine, they corrupted two of
the most eminent families in Rome, the Aquillian, which had three, and
the Vitellian, which had two senators. These all were, by the mother's
side, nephews to Collatinus; besides which Brutus had a special alliance
to the Vitellii from his marriage with their sister, by whom he had
several children; two of whom, of their own age, their near relations
and daily companions, the Vitellii seduced to join in the plot, to ally
themselves to the great house and royal hopes of the Tarquins, and gain
emancipation from the violence and imbecility united of their father,
whose austerity to offenders they termed violence, while the imbecility
which he had long feigned, to protect himself from the tyrants, still,
it appears, was, in name at least, ascribed to him. When upon these
inducements the youths came to confer with the Aquillii, all thought it
convenient to bind themselves in a solemn and dreadful oath, by tasting
the blood of a murdered man, and touching his entrails. For which
design they met at the house of the Aquillii. The building chosen for
the transaction was, as was natural, dark and unfrequented, and a slave
named Vindicius had, as it chanced, concealed himself there, not out of
design or any intelligence of the affair, but, accidentally being
within, seeing with how much haste and concern they came in, he was
afraid to be discovered, and placed himself behind a chest, where he was
able to observe their actions and overhear their debates. Their
resolutions were to kill the consuls, and they wrote letters to Tarquin
to this effect, and gave them to the ambassadors, who were lodging upon
the spot with the Aquillii, and were present at the consultation.

Upon their departure, Vindicius secretly quitted the house, but was at a
loss what to do in the matter, for to arraign the sons before the father
Brutus, or the nephews before the uncle Collatinus, seemed equally (as
indeed it was) shocking; yet he knew no private Roman to whom he could
entrust secrets of such importance. Unable, however, to keep silence,
and burdened with his knowledge, he went and addressed himself to
Valerius, whose known freedom and kindness of temper were an inducement;
as he was a person to whom the needy had easy access, and who never shut
his gates against the petitions or indigences of humble people. But
when Vindicius came and made a complete discovery to him, his brother
Marcus and his own wife being present, Valerius was struck with
amazement, and by no means would dismiss the discoverer, but confined
him to the room, and placed his wife as a guard to the door, sending his
brother in the interim to beset the king's palace, and seize, if
possible, the writings there, and secure the domestics, whilst he, with
his constant attendance of clients and friends, and a great retinue of
attendants, repaired to the house of the Aquillii, who were, as it
chanced, absent from home; and so, forcing an entrance through the
gates, they lit upon the letters then lying in the lodgings of the
ambassadors. Meantime the Aquillii returned in all haste, and, coming to
blows about the gate, endeavored a recovery of the letters. The other
party made a resistance, and, throwing their gowns round their
opponents' necks, at last, after much struggling on both sides, made
their way with their prisoners through the streets into the forum. The
like engagement happened about the king's palace, where Marcus seized
some other letters which it was designed should be conveyed away in the
goods, and, laying hands on such of the king's people as he could find,
dragged them also into the forum. When the consuls had quieted the
tumult, Vindicius was brought out by the orders of Valerius, and the
accusation stated, and the letters were opened, to which the traitors
could make no plea. Most of the people standing mute and sorrowful,
some only, out of kindness to Brutus, mentioning banishment, the tears
of Collatinus, attended with Valerius's silence, gave some hopes of
mercy. But Brutus, calling his two sons by their names, "Canst not
thou," said he, "O Titus, or thou, Tiberius, make any defense against
the indictment?" The question being thrice proposed, and no reply made,
he turned himself to the lictors, and cried, "What remains is your
duty." They immediately seized the youths, and, stripping them of their
clothes, bound their hands behind them, and scourged their bodies with
their rods; too tragical a scene for others to look at; Brutus, however,
is said not to have turned aside his face, nor allowed the least glance
of pity to soften and smooth his aspect of rigor and austerity; but
sternly watched his children suffer, even till the lictors, extending
them on the ground, cut off their heads with an axe; then departed,
committing the rest to the judgment of his colleague. An action truly
open alike to the highest commendation and the strongest censure; for
either the greatness of his virtue raised him above the impressions of
sorrow, or the extravagance of his misery took away all sense of it; but
neither seemed common, or the result of humanity, but either divine or
brutish. Yet it is more reasonable that our judgment should yield to
his reputation, than that his merit should suffer detraction by the
weakness of our judgment; in the Romans' opinion, Brutus did a greater
work in the establishment of the government than Romulus in the
foundation of the city.

Upon Brutus's departure out of the forum, consternation, horror, and

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