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The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol. 2 by Various

Part 3 out of 9

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"Tell this then to Evenus, Cebes, and bid him farewell, and, if he is
wise, to follow me as soon as he can. But I depart, as it seems, to-day;
for so the Athenians order."

To this Simmias said: "What is this, Socrates, which you exhort Evenus
to do? for I often meet with him; and from what I know of him, I am
pretty certain that he will not at all be willing to comply with your

"What then," said he, "is not Evenus a philosopher?"

"To me he seems to be so," said Simmias.

"Then he will be willing," rejoined Socrates, "and so will everyone who
worthily engages in this study; perhaps indeed he will not commit
violence on himself, for that they say is not allowable." And as he said
this he let down his leg from the bed on the ground, and in this posture
continued during the remainder of the discussion.

Cebes then asked him: "What do you mean, Socrates, by saying that it is
not lawful to commit violence on one's self, but that a philosopher
should be willing to follow one who is dying?"

"What, Cebes, have not you and Simmias, who have conversed familiarly
with Philolaus[40] on this subject, heard?"

[Footnote 40: A Pythagorean of Crotona.]

"Nothing very clearly, Socrates."

"I however speak only from hearsay; what then I have heard I have no
scruple in telling. And perhaps it is most becoming for one who is about
to travel there, to inquire and speculate about the journey thither,
what kind we think it is. What else can one do in the interval before

"Why, then, Socrates, do they say that it is not allowable to kill one's
self? for I, as you asked just now, have heard both Philolaus, when he
lived with us, and several others say that it was not right to do this;
but I never heard anything clear upon the subject from anyone."

"Then you should consider it attentively," said Socrates, "for perhaps
you may hear: probably, however, it will appear wonderful to you, if
this alone of all other things is an universal truth,[41] and it never
happens to a man, as is the case in all other things, that at some times
and to some persons only it is better to die than to live; yet that
these men for whom it is better to die--this probably will appear
wonderful to you--may not, without impiety, do this good to themselves,
but must await another benefactor."

[Footnote 41: Namely, "that it is better to die than live."]

Then Cebes, gently smiling, said, speaking in his own dialect, "Jove be

"And indeed," said Socrates, "it would appear to be unreasonable, yet
still perhaps it has some reason on its side. The maxim indeed given on
this subject in the mystical doctrines,[42] that we men are in a kind of
prison, and that we ought not to free ourselves from it and escape,
appears to me difficult to be understood, and not easy to penetrate.
This however appears to me, Cebes, to be well said, that the gods take
care of us, and that we men are one of their possessions. Does it not
seem so to you?"

[Footnote 42: Of Pythagoras.]

"It does," replied Cebes.

"Therefore," said he, "if one of your slaves were to kill himself,
without your having intimated that you wished him to die, should you not
be angry with him, and should you not punish him if you could?"

"Certainly," he replied.

"Perhaps then, in this point of view, it is not unreasonable to assert,
that a man ought not to kill himself before the deity lays him under a
necessity of doing so, such as that now laid on me."

"This, indeed," said Cebes, "appears to be probable. But what you said
just now, Socrates, that philosophers should be very willing to die,
appears to be an absurdity, if what we said just now is agreeable to
reason, that it is God who takes care of us, and that we are his
property. For that the wisest men should not be grieved at leaving that
service in which they govern them who are the best of all masters,
namely, the gods, is not consistent with reason. For surely he cannot
think that he will take better care of himself when he has become free:
but a foolish man might perhaps think thus, that he should fly from his
master, and would not reflect that he ought not to fly from a good one,
but should cling to him as much as possible, therefore he would fly
against all reason; but a man of sense would desire to be constantly
with one better than himself. Thus, Socrates, the contrary of what you
just now said is likely to be the case; for it becomes the wise to be
grieved at dying, but the foolish to rejoice."

Socrates, on hearing this, appeared to me to be pleased with the
pertinacity of Cebes, and looking toward us said: "Cebes, you see,
always searches out arguments, and is not at all willing to admit at
once anything one has said."

Whereupon Simmias replied: "But indeed, Socrates, Cebes appears to me,
now, to say something to the purpose; for with what design should men
really wise fly from masters who are better than themselves, and so
readily leave them? And Cebes appears to me to direct his argument
against you, because you so easily endure to abandon both us and those
good rulers--as you yourself confess--the gods."

"You speak justly," said Socrates, "for I think you mean that I ought to
make my defence to this charge, as if I were in a court of justice."

"Certainly," replied Simmias.

"Come then," said he, "I will endeavor to defend myself more
successfully before you than before the judges. For," he proceeded,
"Simmias and Cebes, if I did not think that I should go first of all
among other deities who are both wise and good, and next among men who
have departed this life better than any here, I should be wrong in not
grieving at death: but now be assured, I hope to go among good men,
though I would not positively assert it; that, however, I shall go among
gods who are perfectly good masters, be assured I can positively assert
this, if I can anything of the kind. So that, on this account, I am not
so much troubled, but I entertain a good hope that something awaits
those who die, and that, as was said long since, it will be far better
for the good than the evil."

"What then, Socrates," said Simmias, "would you go away keeping this
persuasion to yourself, or would you impart it to us? For this good
appears to me to be also common to us; and at the same time it will be
an apology for you, if you can persuade us to believe what you say."

"I will endeavor to do so," he said. "But first let us attend to Crito
here, and see what it is he seems to have for some time wished to say."

"What else, Socrates," said Crito, "but what he who is to give you the
poison told me some time ago, that I should tell you to speak as little
as possible? For he says that men become too much heated by speaking,
and that nothing of this kind ought to interfere with the poison, and
that, otherwise, those who did so were sometimes compelled to drink two
or three times."

To which Socrates replied: "Let him alone, and let him attend to his own
business, and prepare to give it me twice, or, if occasion requires,
even thrice."

"I was almost certain what you would say," answered Crito, "but he has
been some time pestering me."

"Never mind him," he rejoined.

"But now I wish to render an account to you, my judges, of the reason
why a man who has really devoted his life to philosophy, when he is
about to die appears to me, on good grounds, to have confidence, and to
entertain a firm hope that the greatest good will befall him in the
other world, when he has departed this life. How then this comes to
pass, Simmias and Cebes, I will endeavor to explain.

"For as many as rightly apply themselves to philosophy seem to have left
all others in ignorance, that they aim at nothing else than to die and
be dead. If this then is true, it would surely be absurd to be anxious
about nothing else than this during their whole life, but when it
arrives, to be grieved at what they have been long anxious about and
aimed at."

Upon this, Simmias, smiling, said: "By Jupiter, Socrates, though I am
not now at all inclined to smile, you have made me do so; for I think
that the multitude, if they heard this, would think it was very well
said in reference to philosophers, and that our countrymen particularly
would agree with you, that true philosophers do desire death, and that
they are by no means ignorant that they deserve to suffer it."

"And indeed, Simmias, they would speak the truth, except in asserting
that they are not ignorant; for they are ignorant of the sense in which
true philosophers desire to die, and in what sense they deserve death,
and what kind of death. But," he said, "let us take leave of them, and
speak to one another. Do we think that death is anything?"

"Certainly," replied Simmias.

"Is it anything else than the separation of the soul from the body? and
is not this to die, for the body to be apart by itself separated from
the soul, and for the soul to subsist apart by itself separated from the
body? Is death anything else than this?"

"No, but this," he replied.

"Consider then, my good friend, whether you are of the same opinion as
me; for thus I think we shall understand better the subject we are
considering. Does it appear to you to be becoming in a philosopher to be
anxious about pleasures, as they are called, such as meats and drinks?"

"By no means, Socrates," said Simmias.

"But what? about the pleasures of love?"

"Not at all"

"What then? does such a man appear to you to think other bodily
indulgences of value? for instance, does he seem to you to value or
despise the possession of magnificent garments and sandals, and other
ornaments of the body, except so far as necessity compels him to use

"The true philosopher," he answered, "appears to me to despise them."

"Does not, then," he continued, "the whole employment of such a man
appear to you to be, not about the body, but to separate himself from it
as much as possible, and be occupied about his soul?"

"It does."

"First of all, then, in such matters, does not the philosopher, above
all other men, evidently free his soul as much as he can from communion
with the body?"

"It appears so."

"And it appears, Simmias, to the generality of men, that he who takes no
pleasure in such things, and who does not use them, does not deserve to
live; but that he nearly approaches to death who cares nothing for the
pleasures that subsist through the body."

"You speak very truly."

"But what with respect to the acquisition of wisdom, is the body an
impediment or not, if anyone takes it with him as a partner in the
search? What I mean is this: Do sight and hearing convey any truth to
men, or are they such as the poets constantly sing, who say that we
neither hear nor see anything with accuracy? If, however, these bodily
senses are neither accurate nor clear, much less can the others be so:
for they are all far inferior to these. Do they not seem so to you?"

"Certainly," he replied.

"When, then," said he, "does the soul light on the truth? for, when it
attempts to consider anything in conjunction with the body, it is plain
that it is then led astray by it."

"You say truly."

"Must it not then be by reasoning, if at all, that any of the things
that really are become known to it?"


"And surely the soul then reasons best when none of these things
disturbs it, neither hearing, nor sight, nor pain, nor pleasure of any
kind, but it retires as much as possible within itself, taking leave of
the body, and, as far as it can, not communicating or being in contact
with it, it aims at the discovery of that which is."

"Such is the case."

"Does not then the soul of the philosopher, in these cases, despise the
body, and flee from it, and seek to retire within itself?"

"It appears so."

"But what as to such things as these, Simmias? Do we say that justice
itself is something or nothing?"

"We say it is something, by Jupiter."

"And that beauty and goodness are something?"

"How not?"

"Now, then, have you ever seen anything of this kind with your eyes?"

"By no means," he replied.

"Did you ever lay hold of them by any other bodily sense? but I speak
generally, as of magnitude, health, strength, and, in a word, of the
essence of everything, that is to say, what each is. Is then the exact
truth of these perceived by means of the body, or is it thus, whoever
among us habituates himself to reflect most deeply and accurately on
each several thing about which he is considering, he will make the
nearest approach to the knowledge of it?"


"Would not he, then, do this with the utmost purity, who should in the
highest degree approach each subject by means of the mere mental
faculties, neither employing the sight in conjunction with the
reflective faculty, nor introducing any other sense together with
reasoning; but who, using pure reflection by itself, should attempt to
search out each essence purely by itself, freed as much as possible from
the eyes and ears, and, in a word, from the whole body, as disturbing
the soul, and not suffering it to acquire truth and wisdom, when it is
in communion with it. Is not he the person, Simmias, if any one can, who
will arrive at the knowledge of that which is?"

"You speak with wonderful truth, Socrates," replied Simmias.

"Wherefore," he said, "it necessarily follows from all this, that some
such opinion as this should be entertained by genuine philosophers, so
that they should speak among themselves as follows: 'A by-path, as it
were, seems to lead us on in our researches undertaken by reason,'
because as long as we are encumbered with the body, and our soul is
contaminated with such an evil, we can never fully attain to what we
desire; and this, we say, is truth. For the body subjects us to
innumerable hinderances on account of its necessary support, and
moreover if any diseases befall us, they impede us in our search after
that which is; and it fills us with longings, desires, fears, all kinds
of fancies, and a multitude of absurdities, so that, as it is said in
real truth, by reason of the body it is never possible for us to make
any advances in wisdom.

"For nothing else but the body and its desires occasions wars,
seditions, and contests; for all wars among us arise on account of our
desire to acquire wealth; and we are compelled to acquire wealth on
account of the body, being enslaved to its service; and consequently on
all these accounts we are hindered in the pursuit of philosophy. But the
worst of all is, that if it leaves us any leisure, and we apply
ourselves to the consideration of any subject, it constantly obtrudes
itself in the midst of our researches, and occasions trouble and
disturbance, and confounds us so that we are not able by reason of it to
discern the truth. It has then in reality been demonstrated to us, that
if we are ever to know anything purely, we must be separated from the
body, and contemplate the things themselves by the mere soul. And then,
as it seems, we shall obtain that which we desire, and which we profess
ourselves to be lovers of, wisdom, when we are dead, as reason shows,
but not while we are alive. For if it is not possible to know anything
purely in conjunction with the body, one of these two things must
follow, either that we can never acquire knowledge, or only after we are
dead; for then the soul will subsist apart by itself, separate from the
body, but not before. And while we live, we shall thus, as it seems,
approach nearest to knowledge, if we hold no intercourse or communion at
all with the body, except what absolute necessity requires, nor suffer
ourselves to be polluted by its nature, but purify ourselves from it,
until God himself shall release us. And thus being pure, and freed from
the folly of body, we shall in all likelihood be with others like
ourselves, and shall of ourselves know the whole real essence, and that
probably is truth; for it is not allowable for the impure to attain to
the pure. Such things, I think, Simmias, all true lovers of wisdom must
both think and say to one another. Does it not seem so to you?"

"Most assuredly, Socrates."

"If this, then," said Socrates, "is true, my friend, there is great hope
for one who arrives where I am going, there, if anywhere, to acquire
that perfection for the sake of which we have taken so much pains during
our past life; so that the journey now appointed me is set out upon with
good hope, and will be so by any other man who thinks that his mind has
been as it were purified.

"This earth and the whole region here are decayed and corroded, as
things in the sea by the saltness; for nothing of any value grows in the
sea, nor, in a word, does it contain anything perfect, but there are
caverns, and sand, and mud in abundance, and filth in whatever parts of
the sea there is earth, nor are they at all worthy to be compared with
the beautiful things with us. But, on the other hand, those things in
the upper regions of the earth would appear far more to excel the things
with us. For, if we may tell a beautiful fable, it is well worth
hearing, Simmias, what kind the things are on the earth beneath the

"Indeed, Socrates," said Simmias, "we should be very glad to hear that

"First of all, then, my friend," he continued, "this earth, if anyone
should survey it from above, is said to have the appearance of balls
covered with twelve different pieces of leather, variegated and
distinguished with colors, of which the colors found here, and which
painters use, are as it were copies. But there the whole earth is
composed of such, and far more brilliant and pure than these; for one
part of it is purple, and of wonderful beauty, part of a golden color,
and part of white, more white than chalk or snow, and in like manner
composed of other colors, and those more in number and more beautiful
than any we have ever beheld. And those very hollow parts of the earth,
though filled with water and air, exhibit a certain species of color,
shining among the variety of other colors, so that one continually
variegated aspect presents itself to the view. In this earth, being
such, all things that grow grow in a manner proportioned to its
nature--trees, flowers, and fruits; and again, in like manner, its
mountains and stones possess, in the same proportion, smoothness and
transparency and more beautiful colors; of which the well-known stones
here that are so highly prized are but fragments, such as sardin-stones,
jaspers, and emeralds, and all of that kind. But there, there is nothing
subsists that is not of this character, and even more beautiful than

"But the reason of this is, because the stones there are pure, and not
eaten up and decayed, like those here, by rottenness and saltness, which
flow down hither together, and which produce deformity and disease in
the stones and the earth, and in other things, even animals and plants.
But that earth is adorned with all these, and moreover with gold and
silver, and other things of the kind: for they are naturally
conspicuous, being numerous and large, and in all parts of the earth; so
that to behold it is a sight for the blessed. There are also many other
animals and men upon it, some dwelling in mid-earth, others about the
air, as we do about the sea, and others in islands which the air flows
round, and which are near the continent: and in one word, what water and
the sea are to us for our necessities, the air is to them; and what air
is to us, that ether is to them.

"But their seasons are of such a temperament that they are free from
disease, and live for a much longer time than those here, and surpass us
in sight, hearing, and smelling, and everything of this kind, as much as
air excels water, and ether air, in purity. Moreover, they have abodes
and temples of the gods, in which gods really dwell, and voices and
oracles, and sensible visions of the gods, and such-like intercourse
with them; the sun, too, and moon, and stars, are seen by them such as
they really are, and their felicity in other respects is correspondent
with these things.

"And such, indeed, is the nature of the whole earth and the parts about
the earth; but there are many places all round it throughout its
cavities, some deeper and more open than that in which we dwell: but
others that are deeper have less chasm than in our region, and other are
shallower in depth than they are here, and broader.

"But all these are in many places perforated one into another under the
earth, some with narrower and some with wider channels, and have
passages through, by which a great quantity of water flows from one into
another, as into basins, and there are immense bulks of ever-flowing
rivers under the earth, both of hot and cold water, and a great quantity
of fire, and mighty rivers of fire, and many of liquid mire, some purer
and some more miry, as in Sicily there are rivers of mud that flow
before the lava, and the lava itself, and from these the several places
are filled, according as the overflow from time to time happens to come
to each of them. But all these move up and down as it were by a certain
oscillation existing in the earth. And this oscillation proceeds from
such natural cause as this: one of the chasms of the earth is
exceedingly large, and perforated through the entire earth, and is that
which Homer[43] speaks of, 'very far off, where is the most profound
abyss beneath the earth,' which elsewhere both he and many other poets
have called Tartarus. For into this chasm all rivers flow together, and
from it flow out again, but they severally derive their character from
the earth through which they flow."

[Footnote 43: _Iliad_, lib. viii., v. 14.]

"And the reason why all streams flow out from thence and flow into it is
because this liquid has neither bottom nor base. Therefore it oscillates
and fluctuates up and down, and the air and the wind around it do the
same; for they accompany it, both when it rushes to those parts of the
earth, and when to these. And as in respiration the flowing breath is
continually breathed out and drawn in, so there the wind, oscillating
with the liquid, causes certain vehement and irresistible winds both as
it enters and goes out. When, therefore, the water rushing in descends
to the place which we call the lower region, it flows through the earth
into the streams there and fills them, just as men pump up water. But
when again it leaves those regions and rushes hither, it again fills the
rivers here, and these, when filled, flow through channels and through
the earth, and having severally reached the several places to which they
are journeying, they make seas, lakes, rivers, and fountains.

"Then sinking again from thence beneath the earth, some of them having
gone round longer and more numerous places, and others round fewer and
shorter, they again discharge themselves into Tartarus, some much lower
than they were drawn up, others only a little so, but all of them flow
in again beneath the point at which they flowed out. And some issue out
directly opposite the place by which they flow in, others on the same
side: there are also some which having gone round altogether in a
circle, folding themselves once or several times round the earth, like
serpents, when they had descended as low as possible, discharge
themselves again; and it is possible for them to descend on either side
as far as the middle, but not beyond; for in each direction there is an
acclivity to the streams both ways.

"Now there are many other large and various streams, and among this
great number there are four certain streams, of which the largest, and
that which flows most outwardly round the earth, is called Ocean, but
directly opposite this, and flowing in a contrary direction, is Acheron,
which flows through other desert places, and moreover passing under the
earth, reaches the Acherusian lake, where the souls of most who die
arrive, and having remained there for certain destined periods, some
longer and some shorter, are again sent forth into the generations of
animals. A third river issues midway between these, and near its source
falls into a vast region, burning with abundance of fire, and forms a
lake larger than our sea, boiling with water and mud; from hence it
proceeds in a circle, turbulent and muddy, and folding itself round it
reaches both other places and the extremity of the Acherusian lake, but
does not mingle with its water; but folding itself oftentimes beneath
the earth, it discharges itself into the lower parts of Tartarus. And
this is the river which they call Pyriphlegethon, whose burning streams
emit dissevered fragments in whatever part of the earth they happen to
be. Opposite to this again the fourth river first falls into a place
dreadful and savage, as it is said, having its whole color like
_cyanus_: this they call Stygian, and the lake which the river forms by
its discharge, Styx. This river having fallen in here, and received
awful power in the water, sinking beneath the earth, proceeds, folding
itself round, in an opposite course to Pyriphlegethon, and meets it in
the Acherusian lake from a contrary direction. Neither does the water of
this river mingle with any other, but it, too, having gone round in a
circle, discharges itself into Tartarus opposite to Pyriphlegethon. Its
name, as the poets say, is Cocytus.

"These things being thus constituted, when the dead arrive at the place
to which their demon leads them severally, first of all they are judged,
as well those who have lived well and piously as those who have not. And
those who appear to have passed a middle kind of life, proceeding to
Acheron, and embarking in the vessels they have, on these arrive at the
lake, and there dwell, and when they are purified, and have suffered
punishment for the iniquities they may have committed, they are set
free, and each receives the reward of his good deeds, according to his
deserts: but those who appear to be incurable, through the magnitude of
their offences, either from having committed many and great sacrileges,
or many unjust and lawless murders, or other similar crimes, these a
suitable destiny hurls into Tartarus, whence they never come forth.

"But those who appear to have been guilty of curable yet great offences,
such as those who through anger have committed any violence against
father or mother, and have lived the remainder of their life in a state
of penitence, or they who have become homicides in a similar manner,
these must of necessity fall into Tartarus, but after they have fallen,
and have been there for a year, the wave casts them forth, the homicides
into Cocytus, but the parricides and matricides into Pyriphlegethon: but
when, being borne along, they arrive at the Acherusian lake, there they
cry out to and invoke, some those whom they slew, others those whom they
injured, and invoking them they entreat and implore them to suffer them
to go out into the lake, and to receive them, and if they persuade them
they go out and are freed from their sufferings; but if not, they are
borne back to Tartarus, and thence again to the rivers, and they do not
cease from suffering this until they have persuaded those whom they have
injured, for this sentence was imposed on them by the judges.

"But those who are found to have lived an eminently holy life, these are
they who, being freed and set at large from these regions in the earth,
as from a prison, arrive at the pure abode above, and dwell on the upper
parts of the earth. And among these, they who have sufficiently purified
themselves by philosophy shall live without bodies, throughout all
future time, and shall arrive at habitations yet more beautiful than
these, which it is neither easy to describe nor at present is there
sufficient time for the purpose.

"But for the sake of these things which we have described, we should use
every endeavor, Simmias, so as to acquire virtue and wisdom in this
life; for the reward is noble, and the hope great.

"To affirm positively, indeed, that these things are exactly as I have
described them does not become a man of sense; that however either this
or something of the kind takes place with respect to our souls and their
habitations--since our soul is certainly immortal--this appears to me
most fitting to be believed, and worthy the hazard for one who trusts in
its reality; for the hazard is noble, and it is right to allure
ourselves with such things, as with enchantments; for which reason I
have prolonged my story to such a length.

"On account of these things, then, a man ought to be confident about his
soul who during this life has disregarded all the pleasures and
ornaments of the body as foreign from his nature, and who, having
thought that they do more harm than good, has zealously applied himself
to the acquirement of knowledge, and who having adorned his soul not
with a foreign but its own proper ornament--temperance, justice,
fortitude, freedom, and truth--thus waits for his passage to Hades, as
one who is ready to depart whenever destiny shall summon him. You,
then," he continued, "Simmias and Cebes, and the rest, will each of you
depart at some future time; but now 'destiny summons me,' as a tragic
writer would say, and it is nearly time for me to betake myself to the
bath; for it appears to me to be better to drink the poison after I have
bathed myself, and not to trouble the women with washing my dead body."

When he had thus spoken, Crito said: "So be it, Socrates, but what
commands have you to give to these or to me, either respecting your
children or any other matter, in attending to which we can most oblige

"What I always say, Crito," he replied, "nothing new; that by taking
care of yourselves you will oblige both me and mine and yourselves,
whatever you do, though you should not now promise it; but if you
neglect yourselves, and will not live as it were in the footsteps of
what has been now and formerly said, even though you should promise much
at present, and that earnestly, you will do no good at all."

"We will endeavor then so to do," he said; "but how shall we bury you?"

"Just as you please," he said, "if only you can catch me, and I do not
escape from you." And at the same time smiling gently, and looking round
on us, he said: "I cannot persuade Crito, my friends, that I am that
Socrates who is now conversing with you, and who methodizes each part of
the discourse; but he thinks that I am he whom he will shortly behold
dead, and asks how he should bury me. But that which I some time since
argued at length, that when I have drunk the poison I shall no longer
remain with you, but shall depart to some happy state of the blessed,
this I seem to have urged to him in vain, though I meant at the same
time to console both you and myself. Be ye then my sureties to Crito,"
he said, "in an obligation contrary to that which he made to the judges;
for he undertook that I should remain; but do you be sureties that, when
I die, I shall not remain, but shall depart, that Crito may more easily
bear it, and when he sees my body either burnt or buried, may not be
afflicted for me, as if I suffered some dreadful thing, nor say at my
interment that Socrates is laid out, or is carried out, or is buried.

"For be well assured," he said, "most excellent Crito, that to speak
improperly is not only culpable as to the thing itself, but likewise
occasions some injury to our souls. You must have a good courage, then,
and say that you bury my body, and bury it in such a manner as is
pleasing to you, and as you think is most agreeable to our laws."

When he had said thus he rose and went into a chamber to bathe, and
Crito followed him, but he directed us to wait for him. We waited,
therefore, conversing among ourselves about what had been said, and
considering it again, and sometimes speaking about our calamity, how
severe it would be to us, sincerely thinking that, like those who are
deprived of a father, we should pass the rest of our life as orphans.
When he had bathed, and his children were brought to him, for he had two
little sons, and one grown up; and the women belonging to his family
were come, having conversed with them in the presence of Crito and given
them such injunctions as he wished, he directed the women and children
to go away, and then returned to us. And it was now near sunset; for he
spent a considerable time within.

But when he came from bathing he sat down, and did not speak much
afterward; then the officer of the Eleven came in, and standing near
him, said: "Socrates, I shall not have to find that fault with you that
I do with others, that they are angry with me and curse me, when, by
order of the archons, I bid them drink the poison. But you, on all other
occasions during the time you have been here, I have found to be the
most noble, meek, and excellent man of all that ever came into this
place; and therefore I am now well convinced that you will not be angry
with me (for you know who are to blame) but with them. Now, then, for
you know what I came to announce to you, farewell; and endeavor to bear
what is inevitable as easily as possible." And at the same time,
bursting into tears, he turned away and withdrew.

And Socrates, looking after him, said: "And thou too, farewell; we will
do as you direct." At the same time turning to us, he said: "How
courteous the man is; during the whole time I have been here he has
visited me, and conversed with me sometimes, and proved the worthiest of
men; and now how generously he weeps for me. But come, Crito, let us
obey him, and let some one bring the poison, if it is ready pounded, but
if not, let the man pound it."

Then Crito said: "But I think, Socrates, that the sun is still on the
mountains and has not yet set. Besides, I know that others have drunk
the poison very late, after it had been announced to them, and have
supped and drunk freely, and some even have enjoyed the objects of their
love. Do not hasten, then, for there is yet time."

Upon this Socrates replied: "These men whom you mention, Crito, do these
things with good reason, for they think they shall gain by so doing, and
I too with good reason shall not do so; for I think I shall gain nothing
by drinking a little later, except to become ridiculous to myself, in
being so fond of life, and sparing of it when none any longer remains.
Go, then," he said, "obey, and do not resist."

Crito having heard this, nodded to the boy that stood near. And the boy
having gone out, and stayed for some time, came, bringing with him the
man that was to administer the poison, who brought it ready pounded in a
cup. And Socrates, on seeing the man, said: "Well, my good friend, as
you are skilled in these matters, what must I do?"

"Nothing else," he replied, "than when you have drunk it walk about
until there is a heaviness in your legs, then lie down; thus it will do
its purpose." And at the same time he held out the cup to Socrates. And
he having received it very cheerfully, Echecrates, neither trembling nor
changing at all in color or countenance, but, as he was wont, looking
steadfastly at the man, said: "What say you of this potion, with respect
to making a libation to anyone, is it lawful or not?"

"We only pound so much, Socrates," he said, "as we think sufficient to

"I understand you," he said; "but it is certainly both lawful and right
to pray to the gods, that my departure hence thither may be happy; which
therefore I pray, and so may it be." And as he said this he drank it off
readily and calmly. Thus far, most of us were with difficulty able to
restrain ourselves from weeping, but when we saw him drinking, and
having finished the draught, we could do so no longer; but in spite of
myself the tears came in full torrent, so that, covering my face, I wept
for myself, for I did not weep for him, but for my own fortune, in being
deprived of such a friend. But Crito, even before me when he could not
restrain his tears, had risen up.

But Apollodorus, even before this, had not ceased weeping, and then
bursting into an agony of grief, weeping and lamenting, he pierced the
heart of everyone present except Socrates himself. But he said: "What
are you doing, my admirable friends? I indeed, for this reason chiefly,
sent away the women that they might not commit any folly of this kind.
For I have heard that it is right to die with good omens. Be quiet,
therefore, and bear up."

When we heard this we were ashamed and restrained our tears. But he,
having walked about, when he said that his legs were growing heavy, laid
down on his back; for the man so directed him. And at the same time he
who gave him the poison, taking hold of him, after a short interval
examined his feet and legs; and then having pressed his foot hard, he
asked if he felt it.

He said that he did not.

And after this he pressed his thighs; and thus going higher, he showed
us that he was growing cold and stiff.

Then Socrates touched himself, and said that when the poison reached his
heart he should then depart.

But now the parts around the lower belly were almost cold; when,
uncovering himself (for he had been covered over), he said, and they
were his last words: "Crito, we owe a cock to Aesculapius; pay it,
therefore, and do not neglect it!"

"It shall be done," said Crito; "but consider whether you have anything
else to say?"

To this question he gave no reply; but shortly after he gave a
convulsive movement, and the man covered him, and his eyes were fixed;
and Crito, perceiving it, closed his mouth and eyes.

This, Echecrates, was the end of our friend, a man, as we may say, the
best of all of his time that we have known, and, moreover, the most wise
and just.


B.C. 388


(Julius Caesar is the first writer who gives us an authentic and
enlightening account of the Gauls, whom he divided into three groups.
The Gauls were the chief branch of the great original stock of Celts.
They were a nomadic people, and from their home in Western Europe they
spread to Britain, invaded Spain, and swarmed over the Alps into Italy,
and it is from the latter event that this tall, fair, and fighting
nation first came into the region of history.

Before the Gauls had come within the borders of Italy, Camillus, the
Dictator, had dealt the death-blow to the Etruscan League through his
capture and destruction of its stronghold, Veii. But at the very summit
of his triumph he lost the grace of his countrymen by demanding a tenth
of their spoil taken at Veii, and which he claimed to have vowed to
Apollo. It was popularly considered a ruse to increase his private
fortune. Furthermore, a counter-claim was brought against him for
appropriating bronze gates, which in Rome at that time were nothing less
than actual money--bronze being the medium of currency. Camillus went
into exile in consequence of the accusation. His parting prayer was that
his country might feel his need and call him back. His desire was
fulfilled, for soon after "the Gaul was at the gates" under the
leadership of the haughty Brennus, who had come upon the Romans at a
most opportune moment. This event of the overthrow of the Romans on the
Alia has been the occasion for the well-known tale of the cackling of
the geese in the temple of Juno, which alarmed the garrison. The episode
also gave rise to the saying of the conqueror, Brennus, who, when
reproached by his antagonists with using false weights, cast his sword
into the scale, crying, "Woe to the conquered!")

At that time no Roman foresaw the calamity which was threatening the
empire. Rome had become great, because the country which she had
conquered was weak through its oligarchical institutions; the subjects
of the other states gladly joined the Romans, because under them their
lot was more favorable, and probably because they were kindred nations.
But matters went with the Romans as they did with Basilius, who subdued
the Armenians when they were threatened by the Turks, and who soon after
attacked the whole Greek empire and took away far more than had been
gained before.

The expedition of the Gauls into Italy must be regarded as a migration,
and not as an invasion for the purpose of conquest: as for the
historical account of it, we must adhere to Polybius and Diodorus, who
place it shortly before the taking of Rome by the Gauls. We can attach
no importance to the statement of Livy that they had come into Italy as
early as the time of Tarquinius Priscus, having been driven from their
country by a famine. It undoubtedly arose from the fact that some Greek
writer, perhaps Timaeus, connected this migration with the settlement of
the Phocians at Massilia. It is possible that Livy even here made use of
Dionysius; and that the latter followed Timaeus; for as Livy made use of
Dionysius in the eighth book, why not also in the fifth? He himself knew
very little of Greek history;[44] but Justin's account is here evidently
opposed to Livy.

[Footnote 44: Comp. _Hist. of Rome_, vol. iii. n. 485.]

Trogus Pompeius was born in the neighborhood of Massilia, and in writing
his forty-third book he obviously made use of native chronicles, for
from no other source could he derive the account of the _decreta
honorifica_ of the Romans to the Massilians for the friendship which the
latter had shown to the Romans during the Gallic war; and from the same
source must he have obtained his information about the maritime wars of
Massilia against Carthage. Trogus knows nothing of the story that the
Gauls assisted the Phocians on their arrival; but according to him, they
met with a kind reception among the Ligurians, who continued to inhabit
those parts for a long time after. Even the story of the _lucumo_ who is
said to have invited the Gauls is opposed to him, and if it were
referred to Clusium alone it would be absurd. Polybius places the
passage of the Gauls across the Alps about ten or twenty years before
the taking of Rome; and Diodorus describes them as advancing toward Rome
by an uninterrupted march. It is further stated that Melpum in the
country of the Insubrians was destroyed on the same day as Veii: without
admitting this coincidence, we have no reason to doubt that the
statement is substantially true; and it is made by Cornelius Nepos, who,
as a native of Gallia Transpadana, might possess accurate information,
and whose chronological accounts were highly esteemed by the Romans.

There was no other passage for the Gauls except either across the Little
St. Bernard or across the Simplon; it is not probable that they took the
former road, because their country extended only as far as the Ticinus,
and if they had come across the Little St. Bernard, they would naturally
have occupied also all the country between that mountain and the
Ticinus. The Salassi may indeed have been a Gallic people, but it is by
no means certain; moreover, between them and the Gauls who had come
across the Alps the Laevi also lived; and there can be no doubt that at
that time Ligurians still continued to dwell on the Ticinus.

Melpum must have been situated in the district of Milan. The latter
place has an uncommonly happy situation: often as it has been destroyed,
it has always been restored, so that it is not impossible that Melpum
may have been situated on the very spot afterward occupied by Milan. The
Gallic migration undoubtedly passed by like a torrent with irresistible
rapidity: how then is it possible to suppose that Melpum resisted them
for two centuries, or that they conquered it and yet did not disturb the
Etruscans for two hundred years? It would be absurd to believe it,
merely to save an uncritical expression of Livy. According to the common
chronology, the Triballi, who in the time of Herodotus inhabited the
plains, and were afterward expelled by the Gauls, appeared in Thrace
twelve years after the taking of Rome--according to a more correct
chronology it was only nine years after that event. It was the same
movement assuredly which led the Gauls to the countries through which
the middle course of the Danube extends, and to the Po; and could the
people who came in a few days from Clusium to Rome, and afterward
appeared in Apulia, have been sitting quiet in a corner of Italy for two
hundred years? If they had remained there because they had not the power
to advance, they would have been cut to pieces by the Etruscans. We must
therefore look upon it as an established fact, that the migration took
place at the late period mentioned by Polybius and Diodorus.

These Gauls were partly Celts, and partly (indeed principally) Belgae or
Cymri, as may be perceived from the circumstance that their king, as
well as the one who appeared before Delphi, is called Brennus. _Brenin_,
according to Adelung, in his _Mithridates_, signifies in the language of
Wales and Lower Brittany a _king_. But what caused this whole
emigration? The statement of Livy, that the Gauls were compelled by
famine to leave their country, is quite in keeping with the nature of
all traditions about migrations, such as we find them in Saxo
Grammaticus, in Paul Warnefried from the sagas of the Swedes, in the
Tyrrhenian traditions of Lydia, and others. However, in the case of a
people like the Celts, every specific statement of this kind, in which
even the names of their leaders are mentioned, is of no more value than
the traditions of other barbarous nations which were unacquainted with
the art of writing. It is indeed, well known that the Celts in writing
used the Greek alphabet, but they probably employed it only in the
transactions of daily life; for we know that they were not allowed to
commit their ancient songs to writing.

During the Gallic migration we are again made aware how little we know
of the history of Italy generally: our knowledge is limited to Rome, so
that we are in the same predicament there, as if of all the historical
authorities of the whole German empire we had nothing but the annals of
a single imperial city. According to Livy's account, it would seem as if
the only object of the Gauls had been to march to Rome; and yet this
immigration changed the whole aspect of Italy. After the Gauls had once
crossed the Apennines, there was no further obstacle to prevent their
marching to the south of Italy by any road they pleased; and it is in
fact mentioned that they did proceed farther south. The Umbrians still
inhabited the country on the lower Po, in the modern Romagna and Urbino,
parts of which were occupied by Liburnians. Polybius says that many
people there became tributary to the Gauls, and that this was the case
with the Umbrians is quite certain.

The first historical appearance of the Gauls is at Clusium, whither a
noble Clusine is said to have invited them for the purpose of taking
vengeance on his native city. Whether this account is true, however,
must remain undecided, and if there is any truth in it, it is more
probable that the offended Clusine went across the Apennines and fetched
his avengers. Clusium has not been mentioned since the time of Porsena;
the fact of the Clusines soliciting the aid of Rome is a proof how
little that northern city of Etruria was concerned about the fate of the
southern towns, and makes us even suspect that it was allied with Rome;
however, the danger was so great that all jealousy must have been
suppressed. The natural road for the Gauls would have been along the
Adriatic, then through the country of Umbrians who were tributary to
them and already quite broken down, and thence through the Romagna
across the Apennines.

But the Apennines which separate Tuscany from the Romagna are very
difficult to cross, especially for sumpter-horses; as therefore the
Gauls could not enter Etruria on that side--which the Etruscans had
intentionally allowed to grow wild--and as they had been convinced of
this in an unsuccessful attempt, they crossed the Apennines in the
neighborhood of Clusium, and appeared before that city. Clusium was the
great bulwark of the valley of the Tiber; and if it were taken, the
roads along the Tiber and the Arno would be open, and the Gauls might
reach Arezzo from the rear: the Romans therefore looked upon the fate of
Clusium as decisive of their own. The Clusines sued for a treaty with
the mighty city of Rome, and the Romans were wise enough readily to
accept the offer: they sent ambassadors to the Gauls, ordering them to
withdraw. According to a very probable account, the Gauls had demanded
of the Clusines a division of their territory as the condition of peace,
and not, as was customary with the Romans, as a tax upon a people
already subdued: if this is correct, the Romans sent the embassy
confiding in their own strength. But the Gauls scorned the ambassadors,
and the latter, allowing themselves to be carried away by their warlike
disposition, joined the Etruscans in a fight against the Gauls. This was
probably only an insignificant and isolated engagement. Such is the
account of Livy, who goes on to say that the Gauls, as soon as they
perceived this violation in the law of nations, gave the signal for a
retreat, and, having called upon the gods to avenge the wrong, marched
against Rome.

This is evidently a mere fiction, for a barbarous nation like the Gauls
cannot possibly have had such ideas, nor was there in reality any
violation of the law of nations, as the Romans stood in no kind of
connection with the Gauls. But it was a natural feeling with the Romans
to look upon the fall of their city as the consequence of a _nefas_
which no human power could resist. Roman vanity also is at work here,
inasmuch as the Roman ambassadors are said to have so distinguished
themselves that they were recognized by the barbarians among the hosts
of Etruscans. Now, according to another tradition directly opposed to
these statements, the Gauls sent to Rome to demand the surrender of
those ambassadors: as the senate was hesitating and left the decision to
the people, the latter not only rejected the demand, but appointed the
same ambassadors to the office of military tribunes, whereupon the Gauls
with all their forces at once marched toward Rome.

Livy here again speaks of the _populus_ as the people to whom the senate
left the decision: this must have been the patricians only, for they
alone had the right to decide upon the fate of the members of their own
order. It is not fair to accuse the Romans on that occasion of
dishonesty; but this account assuredly originated with later writers,
who transferred to barbarians the right belonging to a nation standing
in a legal relation to another. The statement that the three
ambassadors, all of whom were Fabii, were appointed military tribunes,
is not even the usual one, for there is another in Diodorus, who must
here have used Roman authorities written in Greek, that is, Fabius;
since he calls the Caerites [Greek: Kairioi] and not [Greek: Agullaioi].
He speaks of a single ambassador, who being a son of a military tribune
fought against the Gauls. This is at least a sign how uncertain history
yet is. The battle on the Alia was fought on the 16th of July; the
military tribunes entered upon their office on the first of that month;
and the distance between Clusium and Rome is only three good days'
marches. It is impossible to restore the true history, but we can
discern what is fabulous from what is really historical.

An innumerable host of Gauls now marched from Clusium toward Rome. For a
long time the Gauls were most formidable to the Romans, as well as to
all other nations with whom they came in contact, even as far east as
the Ukraine; as to Rome, we see this as late as the Cisalpine war of the
year A.U. 527. Polybius and Diodorus are our best guides in seeking for
information about the manners of the Gauls, for in the time of Caesar
they had already become changed. In the description of their persons we
partly recognize the modern Gael, or the inhabitants of the Highlands of
Scotland: huge bodies, blue eyes, bristly hair; even their dress and
armor are those of the Highlanders, for they wore the checked and
variegated tartans; their arms consisted of the broad, unpointed
battle-sword, the same weapon as the claymore among the Highlanders.
They had a vast number of horns, which were used in the Highlands for
many centuries after, and threw themselves upon the enemy in immense
irregular masses with terrible fury, those standing behind impelling
those stationed in front, whereby they became irresistible by the
tactics of those times.

The Romans ought to have used against them their phalanx and doubled it,
until they were accustomed to this enemy and were enabled by their
greater skill to repel them. If the Romans had been able to withstand
their first shock, the Gauls would have easily been thrown into
disorder, and put to flight. The Gauls who were subsequently conquered
by the Romans were the descendants of such as were born in Italy, and
had lost much of their courage and strength. The Goths under Vitiges,
not fifty years after the immigration of Theodoric into Italy, were
cowards, and unable to resist the twenty thousand men of Belisarius:
showing how easily barbarians degenerate in such climates.

The Gauls, moreover, were terrible on account of their inhuman cruelty,
for, wherever they settled, the original towns and their inhabitants
completely disappeared from the face of the earth. In their own country
they had the feudal system and a priestly government: the Druids were
their only rulers, who avenged the oppressed people on the lords, but in
their turn became tyrants: all the people were in the condition of
serfs, a proof that the Gauls, in their own country too, were the
conquerors who had subdued an earlier population. We always find mention
of the wealth of the Gauls in gold, and yet France has no rivers that
carry gold-sand, and the Pyrenees were then no longer in their
possession: the gold must therefore have been obtained by barter. Much
may be exaggeration; and the fact of some noble individuals wearing gold
chains was probably transferred by ancient poets to the whole nation,
since popular poetry takes great liberty, especially in such

Pliny states that previous to the Gallic calamity the census amounted to
one hundred and fifty thousand persons, which probably refers only to
men entitled to vote in the assemblies, and does not comprise women,
children, slaves, and strangers. If this be correct, the number of
citizens was enormous; but it must not be supposed to include the
inhabitants of the city only, the population of which was doubtless much
smaller. The statement of Diodorus that all men were called to arms to
resist the Gauls, and that the number amounted to forty thousand, is by
no means improbable: according to the testimony of Polybius, Latins and
Hernicans also were enlisted. Another account makes the Romans take the
field against the Gauls with twenty-four thousand men, that is, with
four field legions and four civic legions: the field legions were formed
only of plebeians, and served, according to the order of the classes,
probably in _maniples_; the civic legions contained all those who
belonged neither to the patricians nor to the plebeians, that is, all
the _aerarii, proletarii_, freedmen, and artisans who had never before
faced an enemy. They were certainly not armed with the _pilum_, nor
drawn up in _maniples_; but used pikes and were employed in phalanxes.

Now as for the field legions, each consisted half of Latins and half of
Romans, there being in each _maniple_ one century of Roman and one of
Latins. There were at that time four legions, and as a legion, including
the reserve troops, contained three thousand men, the total is twelve
thousand; now the account which mentions twenty-four thousand men must
have presumed that there were four field legions and four irregular
civic ones. There would accordingly have been no more than six thousand
plebeians, and, even if the legions were all made up of Romans, only
twelve thousand; if in addition to these we take twelve thousand
irregular troops and sixteen thousand allies, the number of forty
thousand would be completed. In this case, the population of Rome would
not have been as large as that of Athens in the Peloponnesian war, and
this is indeed very probable. The cavalry is not included in this
calculation: but forty thousand must be taken as the maximum of the
whole army. There seems to be no exaggeration in this statement, and the
battle on the Alia, speaking generally, is an historical event.

It is surprising that the Romans did not appoint a dictator to command
in the battle; it cannot be said indeed that they regarded this war as
an ordinary one, for in that case they would not have raised so great a
force, but they cannot have comprehended the danger in all its
greatness. New swarms continued to come across the Alps; the Senones
also now appeared to seek habitations for themselves; they, like the
Germans in after-times, demanded land, as they found the Insubrians,
Boians, and others already settled; the latter had taken up their abode
in Umbria, but only until they should find a more extensive and suitable

The Romans committed the great mistake of fighting with their hurriedly
collected troops a battle against an enemy who had hitherto been
invincible. The hills along which the right wing is said to have been
drawn up are no longer discernible, and they were probably nothing but
little mounds of earth: at any rate it was senseless to draw up a long
line against the immense mass of enemies. The Gauls, on the other hand,
were enabled without any difficulty to turn off to the left. They
proceeded to a higher part of the river, where it was more easily
fordable, and with great prudence threw themselves with all their force
upon the right wing, consisting of the civic legions. The latter at
first resisted, but not long; and when they fled, the whole remaining
line, which until then seems to have been useless and inactive, was
seized with a panic.

Terror preceded the Gauls as they laid waste everything on their way,
and this paralyzed the courage of the Romans, instead of rousing them to
a desperate resistance. The Romans therefore were defeated on the Alia
in the most inglorious manner. The Gauls had taken them in their rear,
and cut off their return to Rome. A portion fled toward the Tiber, where
some effected a retreat across the river, and others were drowned;
another part escaped into a forest. The loss of life must have been
prodigious, and it is inconceivable how Livy could have attached so much
importance to the mere disgrace. If the Roman army had not been almost
annihilated, it would not have been necessary to give up the defence of
the city, as was done, for the city was left undefended and deserted by
all. Many fled to Veii instead of returning to Rome: only a few, who had
escaped along the high road, entered the city by the Colline gate.

Rome was exhausted, her power shattered, her legions defenceless, and
her warlike allies had partly been beaten in the same battle, and were
partly awaiting the fearful enemy in their own countries. At Rome it was
believed that the whole army was destroyed, for nothing was known of
those who had reached Veii. In the city itself there were only old men,
women, and children, so that there was no possibility of defending it.
It is, however, inconceivable that the gates should have been left open,
and that the Gauls, from fear of a stratagem, should have encamped for
several days outside the gates. A more probable account is that the
gates were shut and barricaded. We may form a vivid conception of the
condition of Rome after this battle, by comparing it with that of Moscow
before the conflagration: the people were convinced that a long defence
was impossible, since there was probably a want of provisions.

Livy gives a false notion of the evacuation of the city, as if the
defenceless citizens had remained immovable in their consternation, and
only a few had been received into the Capitol. The determination, in
fact, was to defend the Capitol, and the tribune Sulpicius had taken
refuge there, with about one thousand men. There was on the Capitol an
ancient well which still exists, and without which the garrison would
soon have perished. This well remained unknown to all antiquaries, till
I discovered it by means of information gathered from the people who
live there. Its depth in the rock descends to the level of the Tiber,
but the water is now not fit to drink. The Capitol was a rock which had
been hewn steep, and thereby made inaccessible, but a _clivus_, closed
by gates both below and above, led up from the Forum and the Sacred Way.
The rock, indeed, was not so steep as in later times, as is clear from
the account of the attempt to storm it; but the Capitol was nevertheless
very strong. Whether some few remained in the city, as at Moscow, who in
their stupefaction did not consider what kind of enemy they had before
them, cannot be decided. The narrative is very beautiful, and reminds us
of the taking of the Acropolis of Athens by the Persians, where,
likewise, the old men allowed themselves to be cut down by the Persians.

Notwithstanding the improbability of the matter, I am inclined to
believe that a number of aged patricians--their number may not be
exactly historical--sat down in the Forum, in their official robes, on
their curule chairs, and that the chief pontiff devoted them to death.
Such devotions are a well-known Roman custom. It is certainly not
improbable that the Gauls were amazed when they found the city deserted,
and only these old men sitting immovable, that they took them for
statues or supernatural visions, and did nothing to them, until one of
them struck a Gaul who touched him, whereupon all were slaughtered. To
commit suicide was repugnant to the customs of the Romans, who were
guided in many things by feelings more correct and more resembling our
own, than many other ancient nations. The old men, indeed, had given up
the hope of their country being saved; but the Capitol might be
maintained, and the survivors preferred dying in the attempt of
self-defence to taking refuge at Veii, where after all they could not
have maintained themselves in the end.

The sacred treasures were removed to Caere, and the hope of the Romans
now was that the barbarians would be tired of the long siege. Provisions
for a time had been conveyed to the Capitol, where a couple of thousand
men may have been assembled, and where all buildings, temples, as well
as public and private houses, were used as habitations. The Gauls made
fearful havoc at Rome, even more fearful than the Spaniards and Germans
did in the year 1527. Soldiers plunder, and when they find no human
beings they engage in the work of destruction; and fires break out, as
at Moscow, without the existence of any intention to cause a
conflagration. The whole city was changed into a heap of ashes, with the
exception of a few houses on the Palatine, which were occupied by the
leaders of the Gauls. It is astonishing to find, nevertheless, that a
few monuments of the preceding period, such as statues, situated at some
distance from the Capitol, are mentioned as having been preserved; but
we must remember that _travertino_ is tolerably fireproof. That Rome was
burned down is certain; and when it was rebuilt, not even the ancient
streets were restored.

The Gauls were now encamped in the city. At first they attempted to
storm the _clivus_, but were repelled with great loss, which is
surprising, since we know that at an earlier time the Romans succeeded
in storming it against Appius Herdonius. Afterward they discovered the
footsteps of a messenger who had been sent from Veii, in order that the
State might be taken care of in due form; for the Romans in the Capitol
were patricians, and represented the _curies_ and the Government,
whereas those assembled at Veii represented the tribes, but had no
leaders. The latter had resolved to recall Camillus, and raise him to
the dictatorship. For this reason Pontius Cominius had been sent to Rome
to obtain the sanction of the senate and the curies. This was quite in
the spirit of the ancient times. If the curies had interdicted him _aqua
et igni_, they alone could recall him, if they previously obtained a
resolution of the senate authorizing them to do so; but if he had gone
into voluntary exile, and had given up his Roman franchise by becoming a
citizen of Ardea before a sentence had been passed upon him by the
centuries, it was again in the power of the curies alone, he being a
patrician, to recall him as a citizen; and otherwise he could not have
become dictator, nor could he have regarded himself as such.

It was the time of the dog-days when the Gauls came to Rome, and as the
summer at Rome is always pestilential, especially during the two months
and a half before the first of September, the unavoidable consequence
must have been, as Livy relates, that the barbarians, bivouacking on the
ruins of the city in the open air, were attacked by disease and carried
off, like the army of Frederick Barbarossa when encamped before the
castle of St. Angelo. The whole army of the Gauls, however, was not in
the city, but only as many as were necessary to blockade the garrison of
the Capitol; the rest were scattered far and wide over the face of the
country, and were ravaging all the unprotected places and isolated farms
in Latium; many an ancient town, which is no longer mentioned after this
time, may have been destroyed by the Gauls. None but fortified places
like Ostia, which could obtain supplies by sea, made a successful
resistance, for the Gauls were unacquainted with the art of besieging.

The Ardeatans, whose territory was likewise invaded by the Gauls,
opposed them, under the command of Camillus; the Etruscans would seem to
have endeavored to avail themselves of the opportunity of recovering
Veii, for we are told that the Romans at Veii, commanded by Caedicius,
gained a battle against them, and that, encouraged by this success, they
began to entertain a hope of regaining Rome, since by this victory they
got possession of arms.

A Roman of the name of Fabius Dorso is said to have offered up, in broad
daylight, a _gentilician_ sacrifice on the Quirinal; and the astonished
Gauls are said to have done him no harm--a tradition which is not

The provisions in the Capitol were exhausted, but the Gauls themselves
being seized with epidemic diseases became tired of their conquests, and
were not inclined to settle in a country so far away from their own
home. They once more attempted to take the Capitol by storm, having
observed that the messenger from Veii had ascended the rock, and come
down again near the Porta Carmentalis, below Araceli. The ancient rock
is now covered with rubbish, and no longer discernible. The besieged did
not think of a storm on that side; it may be that formerly there had in
that part been a wall, which had become decayed; and in southern
countries an abundant vegetation always springs up between the stones,
and if this had actually been neglected it cannot have been very
difficult to climb up. The Gauls had already gained a firm footing, as
there was no wall at the top--the rock which they stormed was not the
Tarpeian, but the Arx--when Manlius, who lived there, was roused by the
screaming of the geese: he came to the spot and thrust down those who
were climbing up.

This rendered the Gauls still more inclined to commence negotiations;
they were, moreover, called back by an inroad of some Alpine tribes into
Lombardy, where they had left their wives and children: they offered to
depart if the Romans would pay them a ransom of a thousand pounds of
gold, to be taken no doubt from the Capitoline treasury. Considering the
value of money at that time, the sum was enormous: in the time of
Theodosius, indeed, there were people at Rome who possessed several
hundredweight of gold, nay, one is said to have had an annual revenue of
two hundredweight. There can be no doubt that the Gauls received the sum
they demanded, and quitted Rome; that in weighing it they scornfully
imposed upon the Romans is very possible, and the _vae victis_ too may
be true: we ourselves have seen similar things before the year 1813.

But there can be no truth in the story told by Livy, that while they
were disputing Camillus appeared with an army and stopped the
proceedings, because the military tribunes had had no right to conclude
the treaty. He is there said to have driven the Gauls from the city, and
afterward in a twofold battle to have so completely defeated them that
not even a messenger escaped. Beaufort, inspired by Gallic patriotism,
has most excellently shown what a complete fable this story is. To
attempt to disguise the misfortunes of our forefathers by substituting
fables in their place is mere childishness. This charge does not affect
Livy, indeed, for he copied only what others had written before him; but
he did not allow his own conviction to appear as he generally does, for
he treats the whole of the early history with a sort of irony, half
believing, half disbelieving it.

According to another account in Diodorus, the Gauls besieged a town
allied with Rome--its name seems to be mis-written, but is probably
intended for Vulsinii--and the Romans relieved it and took back from the
Gauls the gold which they had paid them; but this siege of Vulsinii is
quite unknown to Livy. A third account in Strabo and also mentioned by
Diodorus does not allow this honor to the Romans, but states that the
Caerites pursued the Gauls, attacked them in the country of the Sabines,
and completely annihilated them. In like manner the Greeks endeavored to
disguise the fact that the Gauls took the money from the Delphic
treasury, and that in a quite historical period (Olymp. 120). The true
explanation is undoubtedly the one found in Polybius, that the Gauls
were induced to quit Rome by an insurrection of the Alpine tribes, after
it had experienced the extremity of humiliation.

Whatever the enemy had taken as booty was consumed; they had not made
any conquests, but only indulged in plunder and devastation; they had
been staying at Rome for seven or eight months, and could have gained
nothing further than the Capitol and the very money which they received
without taking that fortress. The account of Polybius throws light upon
many discrepant statements, and all of them, not even excepting Livy's
fairy-tale-like embellishment, may be explained by means of it. The
Romans attempted to prove that the Gauls had actually been defeated, by
relating that the gold afterward taken from the Gauls and buried in the
Capitol was double the sum paid to them as a ransom; but it is much more
probable that the Romans paid their ransom out of the treasury of the
temple of the Capitoline Jupiter and of other temples, and that
afterward double this sum was made up by a tax; which agrees with a
statement in the history of Manlius, that a tax was imposed for the
purpose of raising the Gallic ransom: surely this could not have been
done at the time of the siege, when the Romans were scattered in all
parts of the country, but must have taken place afterward for the
purpose of restoring the money that had been taken. Now if at a later
time there actually existed in the Capitol such a quantity of gold, it
is clear that it was believed to be a proof that the Gauls had not kept
the gold which was paid to them.

Even as late as the time of Cicero and Caesar, the spot was shown at
Rome in the Carinae, where the Gauls had heaped up and burned their
dead; it was called _busta Gallica_, which was corrupted in the Middle
Ages into Protogallo, whence the church which was built there was in
reality called _S. Andreas in bustis Gallicis_, or, according to the
later Latinity, _in busta Gallica--busta Gallica_ not being declined.

The Gauls departed with their gold, which the Romans had been compelled
to pay on account of the famine that prevailed in the Capitol, which was
so great that they pulled the leather from their shields and cooked it,
just as was done during the siege of Jerusalem. The Gauls were certainly
not destroyed. Justin has preserved the remarkable statement that the
same Gauls who sacked Rome went to Apulia, and there offered for money
their assistance to the elder Dionysius of Syracuse. From this important
statement it is at any rate clear that they traversed all Italy, and
then probably returned along the shore of the Adriatic: their
devastations extended over many parts of Italy, and there is no doubt
that the AEquians received their death-blow at that time, for henceforth
we hear no more of the hostilities of the AEquians against Rome.
Praeneste, on the other hand, which must formerly have been subject to
the AEquians, now appears as an independent town. The AEquians, who
inhabited small and easily destructible towns, must have been
annihilated during the progress of the Gauls.

There is nothing so strange in the history of Livy as his view of the
consequences of the Gallic calamity; he must have conceived it as a
transitory storm by which Rome was humbled but not broken. The army,
according to him, was only scattered, and the Romans appear afterward
just as they had been before, as if the preceding period had only been
an evil dream, and as if there had been nothing to do but to rebuild the
city. But assuredly the devastation must have been tremendous throughout
the Roman territory: for eight months the barbarians had been ravaging
the country, every trace of cultivation, every farmer's house, all the
temples and public buildings were destroyed; the walls of the city had
been purposely pulled down, a large number of its inhabitants were led
into slavery, the rest were living in great misery at Veii; and what
they had saved scarcely sufficed to buy their bread. In this condition
they returned to Rome. Camillus as dictator is called a second Romulus,
and to him is due the glory of not having despaired in those distressing


B.C. 341


(The first Chinese are supposed to have been a nomad tribe in the
provinces of Shensi, which lies in the northwest of China, and among
them at last appeared a ruler, Fohi, whose name at least has been
preserved. His deeds and his person are mythical, but he is credited
with having given his country its first regular institutions.

The annalists of the Chinese chronicles placed the date of the Creation
at a point of time two millions of years before Confucius; this interval
they filled up with lines of dynasties. Preceding the Chow dynasty the
chronicles give ten epochs--prior to the eighth of these there is no
authentic history. Yew-chow She [the "Nest-having"] taught the people to
build huts of the boughs of trees. Fire was discovered by Say-jin She
[the "Fire producer"]. Fuh-he [B.C. 2862] was the discoverer of iron.
With Yaou [B.C. 2356] is the period whence Confucius begins his story.
He says of that epoch: "The house door could safely be left open." Yaou
greatly extended and strengthened the empire and established fairs and
marts over the land.

One of China's most notable rulers was Tsin Chi Hwangti, who was
studious in providing for the security of his empire, and with this
object began the construction of a fortified wall across the northern
frontier to serve as a defence against the troublesome Hiongnou tribes,
who are identified with the Huns of Attila. This wall, which he began in
the first years of his reign--about the close of the third century
B.C.--was finished before his death. It still exists, known as the Great
Wall of China, and has long been considered one of the wonders of the
world. Every third man of the whole empire was employed on this work. It
is said that five hundred thousand of them died of starvation. The
contents of the Great Wall would be enough to build two walls six feet
high and two feet thick around the equator. It is the largest artificial
structure in the world; carried for fourteen hundred miles over height
and hollow, reaching in one place the level of five thousand
feet--nearly one mile--above the sea. Earth, gravel, brick, and stone
were used in its construction.

The weak successors of Hwangti finally gave way to the usurper, Kaotsou,
who had been originally the ruler of a small town, and had borne the
name of Lieou Pang.

The reign of Kaotsou was distinguished by the consolidation of the
empire; the connection of Western with Eastern China by high walls and
bridges, some of which are still in perfect condition, and the
institution of an elaborate code of court etiquette. His attention to
these things was, however, rudely interrupted by an irruption of the
Hiongnou Tartars.)

The death of Tsin Chi Hwangti proved the signal for the outbreak of
disturbances throughout the realm. Within a few months five princes had
founded as many kingdoms, each hoping, if not to become supreme, at
least to remain independent. Moungtien, beloved by the army, and at the
head, as he tells us in his own words, of three hundred thousand
soldiers, might have been the arbiter of the empire; but a weak feeling
of respect for the imperial authority induced him to obey an order, sent
by Eulchi, Hwangti's son and successor, commanding him "to drink the
waters of eternal life." Eulchi's brief reign of three years was a
succession of misfortunes. The reins of office were held by the eunuch
Chow-kow, who first murdered the minister Lissep and then Eulchi

Ing Wang, a grandson of Hwangti, was the next and last of the Tsin
emperors. On coming to power, he at once caused Chow-kow, whose crimes
had been discovered, to be arrested and executed. This vigorous
commencement proved very transitory, for when he had enjoyed nominal
authority during six weeks, Ing Wang's troops, after a reverse in the
field, went over in a body to Lieou Pang, the leader of a rebel force.
Ing Wang put an end to his existence, thus terminating, in a manner not
less ignominious than any of its predecessors, the dynasty of the Tsins,
which Hwangti had hoped to place permanently on the throne of China, and
to which his genius gave a lustre far surpassing that of many other
families who had enjoyed the same privilege during a much longer period.

The crisis in the history of the country had afforded one of those great
men who rise periodically from the ranks of the people to give law to
nations the opportunity for advancing his personal interests at the same
time that he made them appear to be identical with the public weal. Of
such geniuses, if the test applied be the work accomplished, there have
been few with higher claims to respectful and admiring consideration
than Lieou Pang, who after the fall of the Tsins became the founder of
the Han dynasty under the style of Kaotsou. Originally the governor of a
small town, he had, soon after the death of Hwangti, gathered round him
the nucleus of a formidable army, and while nominally serving under one
of the greater princes, he scarcely affected to conceal that he was
fighting for his own interest. On the other hand, he was no mere soldier
of fortune, and the moderation which he showed after victory enhanced
his reputation as a general. The path to the throne being thus cleared,
the successful general became emperor.

His first act was to proclaim an amnesty to all those who had borne arms
against him. In a public proclamation he expressed his regret at the
suffering of the people "from the evils which follow in the train of
war." During the earlier years of his reign he chose the city of Loyang
as his capital--now the flourishing and populous town of Honan--but at a
later period he removed it to Singanfoo, in the western province of
Shensi. His dynasty became known by the name of the small state where he
was born, and which had fallen early in his career into his hands.

Kaotsou sanctioned or personally undertook various important public
works, which in many places still exist to testify to the greatness of
his character. Prominent among those must be placed the bridges
constructed along the great roads of Western China. Some of them are
still believed to be in perfect condition. No act of Kaotsou's reign
places him higher in the scale of sovereigns than the improvement of the
roads and the construction of those remarkable bridges. Kaotsou loved
splendor and sought to make his receptions and banquets imposing by
their brilliance. He drew up a special ceremonial which must have proved
a trying ordeal for his courtiers, and dire was the offence if it were
infringed in the smallest particular. He kept up festivities at
Singanfoo for several weeks, and on one of these occasions he exclaimed:
"To-day I feel I am emperor and perceive all the difference between a
subject and his master."

Kaotsou's attention was rudely summoned away from these trivialities by
the outbreak of revolts against his authority and by inroads on the part
of the Tartars. The latter were the more serious. The disturbances that
followed Hwangti's death were a fresh inducement to these clans to again
gather round a common head and prey upon the weakness of China, for
Kaotsou's authority was not yet recognized in many of the tributary
states which had been fain to admit the supremacy of the great Tsin
emperor. About this time the Hiongnou[45] Tartars were governed by two
chiefs in particular, one named Tonghou, the other Meha or Mehe. Of
these the former appears to have been instigated by a reckless ambition
or an overweening arrogance, and at first it seemed that the forbearance
of Meha would allow his pretensions[46] to pass unchallenged.

[Footnote 45: Probably the same race as the Huns.]

[Footnote 46: Meha had become chief of his clan by murdering his father,
Teou-man, who was on the point of ordering his son's assassination when
thus forestalled in his intention. Tonghou sent to demand from him a
favorite horse, which Meha sent him. His kinsmen advised him to refuse
compliance; but he replied: "What! Would you quarrel with your neighbors
for a horse?" Shortly afterward Tonghou sent to ask for one of the wives
of the former chief. This also Meha granted, saying: "Why should we
undertake a war for the sake of a woman?" It was only when Tonghou
menaced his possessions that Meha took up arms.]

Meha's successes followed rapidly upon each other. Issuing from the
desert, and marching in the direction of China, he wrested many fertile
districts from the feeble hands of those who held them; and while
establishing his personal authority on the banks of the Hoangho, his
lieutenants returned laden with plunder from expeditions into the rich
provinces of Shensi and Szchuen. He won back all the territory lost by
his ancestors to Hwangti and Moungtien, and he paved the way to greater
success by the siege and capture of the city of Maye, thus obtaining
possession of the key of the road to Tsinyang. Several of the border
chiefs and of the Emperor's lieutenants, dreading the punishment
allotted in China to want of success, went over to the Tartars, and took
service under Meha.

The Emperor, fully aroused to the gravity of the danger, assembled his
army, and placing himself at its head marched against the Tartars.
Encouraged by the result of several preliminary encounters, the Emperor
was eager to engage Meha's main army, and after some weeks' searching
and manoeuvring, the two forces halted in front of each other. Kaotsou,
imagining that victory was within his grasp, and believing the stories
brought to him by spies of the weakness of the Tartar army, resolved on
an immediate attack. He turned a deaf ear to the cautious advice of one
of his generals, who warned him that "in war we should never despise an
enemy," and marched in person at the head of his advance guard to find
the Tartars. Meha, who had been at all these pains to throw dust in the
Emperor's eyes and to conceal his true strength, no sooner saw how well
his stratagem had succeeded, and that Kaotsou was rushing into the trap
so elaborately laid for him, than by a skilful movement he cut off his
communications with the main body of his army, and, surrounding him with
an overwhelming force, compelled him to take refuge in the city of
Pingching in Shensi.

With a very short supply of provisions, and hopelessly outnumbered, it
looked as if the Chinese Emperor could not possibly escape the grasp of
the desert chief. In this strait one of his officers suggested as a last
chance that the most beautiful virgin in the town should be discovered,
and sent as a present to mollify the conqueror. Kaotsou seized at this
suggestion, as the drowning man will catch at a straw, and the story is
preserved, though her name has passed into oblivion, of how the young
Chinese girl entered into the plan and devoted all her wits to charming
the Tartar conqueror. She succeeded as much as their fondest hopes could
have led them to believe; and Meha permitted Kaotsou, after signing an
ignominious treaty, to leave his place of confinement and rejoin his
army, glad to welcome the return of the Emperor, yet without him
helpless to stir a hand to effect his release. Meha retired to his own
territory, well satisfied with the material results of the war and the
rich booty which had been obtained in the sack of Chinese cities, while
Kaotsou, like the ordinary type of an oriental ruler, vented his
discomfiture on his subordinates.

The closing acts of the war were the lavishing of rewards on the head of
the general to whose warnings he had paid no heed, and the execution of
the scouts who had been misled by the wiles of Meha.

The success which had attended this incursion and the spoil of war were
potent inducements to the Tartars to repeat the invasion. While Kaotsou
was meditating over the possibility of revenge, and considering schemes
for the better protection of his frontier, the Tartars, disregarding the
truce that had been concluded, retraced their steps, and pillaged the
border districts with impunity. In this year (B.C. 199) they were
carrying everything before them, and the Emperor, either unnerved by
recent disaster or appalled at the apparently irresistible energy of the
followers of Meha, remained apathetic in his palace. The representations
of his ministers and generals failed to rouse him from his stupor, and
the weapon to which he resorted was the abuse of his opponent, and not
his prompt chastisement. Meha was "a wicked and faithless man, who had
risen to power by the murder of his father, and one with whom oaths and
treaties carried no weight." In the mean while the Tartars were
continuing their victorious career. The capital itself could not be
pronounced safe from their assaults, or from the insult of their

In this crisis counsels of craft and dissimulation alone found favor in
the Emperor's cabinet. No voice was raised in support of the bold and
only true course of going forth to meet the national enemy. The
capitulation of Pingching had for the time destroyed the manhood of the
race, and Kaotsou held in esteem the advice of men widely different to
those who had placed him on the throne. Kaotsou opened fresh
negotiations with Meha, who concluded a treaty on condition of the
Emperor's daughter being given to him in marriage, and on the assumption
that he was an independent ruler. With these terms Kaotsou felt obliged
to comply, and thus for the first time this never-ceasing collision
between the tribes of the desert and the agriculturists of the plains of
China closed with the admitted triumph of the former. The contest was
soon to be renewed with different results, but the triumph of Meha was
beyond question.[47]

[Footnote 47: One historian had the courage to declare that "Never was
so great a shame inflicted on the Middle Kingdom, which then lost its
dignity and honor."]

The weakness thus shown against a foreign foe brought its own punishment
in domestic troubles. The palace became the scene of broils, plots, and
counterplots, and so badly did Kaotsou manage his affairs at this epoch
that one of his favorite generals raised the standard of revolt against
him through apparently a mere misunderstanding. In this instance Kaotsou
easily put down the rising, but others followed which, if not pregnant
with danger, were at the least extremely troublesome. The murder of
Hansin, to whose aid Kaotsou owed his elevation to the throne as much as
to any other, by order of the empress, during a reception at the palace,
shook confidence still more in the ruler, and many of his followers were
forced into open rebellion through dread of personal danger. What wonder
that, as he has said, "the very name of revolt inspired Kaotsou with

In B.C. 195 we find Kaotsou going out of his way to visit the tomb of
Confucius. Shortly after this event it became evident that he was
approaching his end. His eldest son Hiaohoei was proclaimed heir
apparent. Kaotsou died in the fifty-third year of his age, having
reigned as emperor during eight years. The close of his reign did not
bear out all the promise of its commencement; and the extent of his
authority was greatly curtailed by the disastrous effects of the war
with the Tartars and the subsequent revolts among his generals.

Despite these reverses there remains much in favor of his character. He
had performed his part in the consolidation of the Hans; it remained for
those who came after him to complete what he left half finished.

Under Hoeiti, the Tartar King Meha sent an envoy to the capital, but
either the form or the substance of his message enraged the
empress-mother, who ordered his execution. The two peoples were thus
again brought to the brink of war, but eventually the difference was
sunk for the time, and the Chinese chroniclers have represented that the
satisfactory turn in the question was due to Meha seeing the error of
his ways.[48] Not long afterward the Tartar King died, and was succeeded
by his son Lao Chang.

[Footnote 48: Meha's letter of excuse is thus given: "In the barbarous
country which I govern both virtue and the decencies of life are
unknown. I have been unable to free myself from them, and, therefore, I
blush. China has her wise men; that is a happiness which I envy. They
would have prevented my being wanting in the respect due to your rank."]


B.C. 332


(The master spirit who could sigh for more worlds to conquer was at this
time high in his dazzling flight. Alexander has always been considered
one of the most striking and picturesque characters of history. His
personality was pleasing, his endurance remarkable, and courage
dauntless. Educated by Aristotle, his keen mind was well trained. He was
skilled in horsemanship, and his control over the fiery Bucephalus,
untamable by others, has become a household tale in all lands. There
never was a more kingly prince.

A king at twenty, his career has been an object of wonder to succeeding
generations. He shot like a meteor across the sky of ancient
civilization. His military achievements were remarkable for quickness of
conception and rapidity of execution; his life was a progress from
conquest to conquest. Alexander's army, with its solid phalanx, its
darting cavalry, and light troops, had become irresistible. He possessed
Napoleon's ability to select good generals and to make the most of his
talents. In battle Alexander was entirely devoid of fear. After a
victory his chief thoughts were for the wounded. Like Napoleon, he also
possessed that personal equation of absolute popularity with his
soldiers. Their devotion to him was simply complete.

After Thebes came the invasion of Asia. The invincible Macedonian had
fought and won the battle of the Granicus. In this battle nearly all of
the Persian leaders were slain, and its result spread terror throughout
Persia. Halicarnassus was next reduced. The march of Alexander was ever
onward. In the citadel of Gordium he cut the "Gordian knot," and
prophecy marked him for the lord of Asia.

And now Darius marched to meet him, making a fatally bad choice of
battle-ground. Darius was totally defeated at the celebrated battle of
Issus, although he had anticipated a victory. After the Persian rout and
the flight of Darius, whose numbers counted for nothing before the
Macedonian's skill, Lindon welcomed the invaders, and Alexander
determined to take Tyre. This was accomplished after a siege, which was
attended with much cruelty.

The siege of Gaza followed, in which nearly all of the citizens
perished. In B.C. 332 Alexander began his expedition to Egypt. He
conciliated the natives by paying honors to their gods. In his progress
he was struck by the advantages of a certain site for a city, and
founded there the town which is now called Alexandria.)

All Phoenicia was subdued except Tyre, the capital city. This city was
justly entitled the "Queen of the Sea," that element bringing to it the
tribute of all nations. She boasted of having first invented navigation
and taught mankind the art of braving the winds and waves by the
assistance of a frail bark. The happy situation of Tyre, at the upper
end of the Mediterranean; the conveniency of its ports, which were both
safe and capacious; and the character of its inhabitants, who were
industrious, laborious, patient, and extremely courteous to strangers,
invited thither merchants from all parts of the globe; so that it might
be considered, not so much a city belonging to any particular nation, as
the common city of all nations and the centre of their commerce.

Alexander thought it necessary, both for his glory and his interest, to
take this city. The spring was now coming on. Tyre was at that time
seated on an island of the sea, about a quarter of a league from the
continent. It was surrounded by a strong wall, a hundred and fifty feet
high, which the waves of the sea washed; and the Carthaginians, a colony
from Tyre, a mighty people, and sovereigns of the ocean, promised to
come to the assistance of their parent State. Encouraged, therefore, by
these favorable circumstances, the Tyrians determined not to surrender,
but to hold out the place to the last extremity. This resolution,
however imprudent, was certainly magnanimous, but it was soon after
followed by an act which was as blamable as the other was praiseworthy.

Alexander was desirous of gaining the place rather by treaty than by
force of arms, and with this in view sent heralds into the town with
offers of peace; but the inhabitants were so far from listening to his
proposals, or endeavoring to avert his resentment by any kind of
concession, that they actually killed his ambassadors and threw their
bodies from the top of the walls into the sea. It is easy to imagine
what effect so shocking an outrage must produce in a mind like
Alexander's. He instantly resolved to besiege the place, and not to
desist until he had made himself master of it and razed it to the

As Tyre was divided from the continent by an arm of the sea, there was
necessity for filling up the intermediate space with a bank or pier,
before the place could be closely invested. This work, accordingly, was
immediately undertaken and in a great measure completed; when all the
wood, of which it was principally composed, was unexpectedly burned by
means of a fire-ship sent in by the enemy. The damage, however, was very
soon repaired, and the mole rendered more perfect than formerly, and
carried nearer to the town, when all of a sudden a furious tempest
arose, which, undermining the stonework that supported the wood, laid
the whole at once in the bottom of the sea.

Two such disasters, following so closely on the heels of each other,
would have cooled the ardor of any man except Alexander, but nothing
could daunt his invincible spirit, or make him relinquish an enterprise
he had once undertaken. He, therefore, resolved to prosecute the siege;
and in order to encourage his men to second his views, he took care to
inspire them with the belief that heaven was on their side and would
soon crown their labors with the wished-for success. At one time he gave
out that Apollo was about to abandon the Tyrians to their doom, and
that, to prevent his flight, they had bound him to his pedestal with a
golden chain; at another, he pretended that Hercules, the tutelar deity
of Macedon, had appeared to him, and, having opened prospects of the
most glorious kind, had invited him to proceed to take possession of

These favorable circumstances were announced by the augurs as
intimations from above; and every heart was in consequence cheered. The
soldiers, as if that moment arrived before the city, forgetting all the
toils they had undergone and the disappointments they had suffered,
began to raise a new mole, at which they worked incessantly.

To protect them from being annoyed by the ships of the enemy, Alexander
fitted out a fleet, with which he not only secured his own men, but
offered the Tyrians battle, which, however, they thought proper to
decline, and withdrew all their galleys into the harbor.

The besiegers, now allowed to proceed unmolested, went on with the work
with the utmost vigor, and in a little time completed it and brought it
close to the walls. A general attack was therefore resolved on, both by
sea and land, and with this in view the King, having manned his galleys
and joined them together with strong cables, ordered them to approach
the walls about midnight and attack the city with resolution. But just
as the assault was going to begin, a dreadful storm arose, which not
only shook the ships asunder, but even shattered them in a terrible
manner, so that they were all obliged to be towed toward the shore,
without having made the least impression on the city.

The Tyrians were elated with this gleam of good fortune; but that joy
was of short duration, for in a little time they received intelligence
from Carthage that they must expect no assistance from that quarter, as
the Carthaginians themselves were then overawed by a powerful army of
Syracusans, who had invaded their country. Reduced, therefore, to the
hard necessity of depending entirely upon their own strength and their
own resources, the Tyrians sent all their women and children to
Carthage, and prepared to encounter the very last extremities. For now
the enemy was attacking the place with greater spirit and activity than
ever. And, to do the Tyrians justice, it must be acknowledged that they
employed a number of methods of defence which, considering the rude
state of the art of war at that early period, were really astonishing.
They warded off the darts discharged from the ballisters against them,
by the assistance of turning wheels, which either broke them to pieces
or carried them another way. They deadened the violence of the stones
that were hurled at them, by setting up sails and curtains made of a
soft substance which easily gave way.

To annoy the ships which advanced against their walls, they fixed
grappling irons and scythes to joists or beams; then, straining their
catapultas--an enormous kind of crossbow--they laid those great pieces
of timber upon them instead of arrows, and shot them off on a sudden at
the enemy. These crushed some of their ships by their great weight, and,
by means of the hooks or hanging scythes, tore others to pieces. They
also had brazen shields, which they drew red-hot out of the fire; and
filling these with burning sand, hurled them in an instant from the top
of the wall upon the enemy.

There was nothing the Macedonians dreaded so much as this fatal
instrument; for the moment the burning sand got to the flesh through the
crevices of the armor, it penetrated to the very bone, and stuck so
close that there was no pulling it off; so that the soldiers, throwing
down their arms, and tearing their clothes to pieces, were in this
manner exposed, naked and defenceless, to the shot of the enemy.

Alexander, finding the resources and even the courage of the Tyrians
increased in proportion as the siege continued, resolved to make a last
effort, and attack them at once both by sea and land, in order, if
possible, to overwhelm them with the multiplicity of dangers to which
they would be thus exposed. With this view, having manned his galleys
with some of the bravest of his troops, he commanded them to advance
against the enemy's fleet, while he himself took his post at the head of
his men on the mole.

And now the attack began on all sides with irresistible and unremitting
fury. Wherever the battering-rams had beat down any part of the wall,
and the bridges were thrown out, instantly the argyraspides mounted the
breach with the utmost valor, being led on by Admetus, one of the
bravest officers in the army, who was killed by the thrust of a spear as
he was encouraging his soldiers.

The presence of the King, and the example he set, fired his troops with
unusual bravery. He himself ascended one of the towers on the mole,
which was of a prodigious height, and there was exposed to the greatest
dangers he had ever yet encountered; for being immediately known by his
insignia and the richness of his armor, he served as a mark for all the
arrows of the enemy. On this occasion he performed wonders, killing with
javelins several of those who defended the wall; then, advancing nearer
to them, he forced some with his sword, and others with his shield,
either into the city or the sea, the tower on which he fought almost
touching the wall.

He soon ascended the wall, followed by his principal officers, and
possessed himself of two towers and the space between them. The
battering-rams had already made several breaches; the fleet had forced
its way into the harbor; and some of the Macedonians had possessed
themselves of the towers which were abandoned. The Tyrians, seeing the
enemy masters of their rampart, retired toward an open place, called
Agenor, and there stood their ground; but Alexander, marching up with
his regiment of bodyguards, killed part of them and obliged the rest to

At the same time, Tyre being taken on that side which lay toward the
harbor, a general carnage of the citizens ensued, and none was spared,
except the few that fell into the hands of the Siclonians in Alexander's
army, who--considering the Tyrians as countrymen--granted them
protection and carried them privately on board their ships.

The number that was slaughtered on this occasion is almost incredible;
even after conquest, the victor's resentment did not subside. He ordered
no less than five thousand men, who were taken in the storming, to be
nailed to crosses along the shore. The number of prisoners amounted to
thirty thousand and were all sold as slaves in different parts of the
world. Thus fell Tyre, that had been for many ages the most flourishing
city in the world, and had spread the arts and commerce into the
remotest regions.

While Alexander was employed in the siege of Tyre he received a second
letter from Darius, in which that monarch treated him with greater
respect than before. He now gave him the title of king; he offered him
ten thousand talents as a ransom for his captive mother and queen; and
he promised him his daughter Statira in marriage, with all the country
he had conquered, as far as the river Euphrates, provided he would agree
to a peace. These terms were so advantageous that, when the King debated
upon them in council, Parmenio, one of his generals, could not help
observing that he would certainly accept of them were he Alexander. "And
so would I," replied the King, "were I Parmenio!" But deeming it
inconsistent with his dignity to listen to any proposals from a man whom
he had so lately overcome, he haughtily rejected them, and scorned to
accept of that as a favor which he already considered his own by

From Tyre, Alexander marched to Jerusalem, fully determined to punish
that city for having refused to supply his army with provisions during
the siege; but his resentment was mollified by a deputation of the
citizens coming out to meet him, with their high priest, Taddua, before
them, dressed in white, and having a mitre on his head, on the front of
which the name of God was written. The moment the King perceived the
high priest, he advanced toward him with an air of the most profound
respect, bowed his body, adored the august name upon his front, and
saluted him who wore it with religious veneration.

And when some of his courtiers expressed their surprise that he, who was
adored by everyone, should adore the high priest of the Jews: "I do
not," said he, "adore the high priest, but the God whose minister he is;
for while I was at Dium in Macedonia, my mind wholly fixed on the great
design of the Persian war, as I was revolving the methods how to conquer
Asia, this very man, dressed in the same robes, appeared to me in a
dream, exhorted me to banish my fear, bade me cross the Hellespont
boldly, and assured me that God would march at the head of my army and
give me the victory over the Persians." This speech, delivered with an
air of sincerity, no doubt had its effect in encouraging the army and
establishing an opinion that his mission was from heaven.

From Jerusalem he went to Gaza, where, having met with a more obstinate
resistance than he expected, he cut to pieces the whole garrison,
consisting of ten thousand men. Not satisfied with this act of cruelty,
he caused holes to be bored through the heels of Boetis, the governor,
and tying him with cords to the back of his chariot dragged him in this
manner around the walls of the city. This he did in imitation of
Achilles, whom Homer describes as having dragged Hector around the walls
of Troy in the same manner. It was reading the past to very little, or
rather, indeed, to very bad purpose, to imitate this hero in the most
unworthy part of his character.

Alexander, having left a garrison in Gaza, turned his arms toward Egypt;
of which he made himself master without opposition. Here he formed the
design of visiting the temple of Jupiter, which was situated in the
sandy deserts of Lybia at the distance of twelve days' journey from
Memphis, the capital of Egypt. His chief object in going thither was to
get himself acknowledged the son of Jupiter, an honor he had long
aspired to. In this journey he founded the city of Alexandria, which
soon became one of the greatest towns in the world for commerce.

Nothing could be more dreary than the desert through which he passed,
nor anything more charming--according to the fabulous accounts of the
poets--than the particular spot where the temple was situated.

It was a perfect paradise in the midst of an immeasurable wilderness. At
last, having reached the place, and appeared before the altar of the
deity, the priest, who was no stranger to Alexander's wishes, declared
him to be the son of Jupiter.

The conqueror, elated with this high compliment, asked whether he should
have success in his expedition. The priest answered that he should be
monarch of the world. The conqueror inquired if his father's murderers
were punished. The priest replied that his father Jupiter was immortal,
but that the murderers of Philip had all been extirpated.


B.C. 331


(When Alexander, having returned from his campaign against the
barbarians of the North, had suppressed a revolt which meanwhile had
broken out in Greece, he found himself free for undertaking those great
foreign conquests which he had planned. When he left Greece to conquer
the world, he said farewell to his own country forever. Crossing the
Hellespont into Asia Minor with a small but well equipped and
disciplined army, he advanced unopposed until he reached the river
Granicus, where he found himself confronted with a Persian host. Upon
this army he inflicted a defeat so signal as to bring at once to
submission nearly the whole of Asia Minor. He next advanced into Syria
and met the Persian king, Darius III, who in person commanded an immense
body of soldiers, against which the young conqueror fought at Issus,
winning a decisive victory. He not only captured the Persian camp, but
also secured the King's treasures and took his family prisoners. From
this time Alexander held complete mastery of the western dominions of
Darius, whom the conqueror afterward dethroned.

After he had next invaded and subjugated Egypt and there founded the
city of Alexandria, he pursued King Darius, who had taken flight, into
the very heart of his empire, where the Persian monarch, on the plains
of Gaugamela, near the village of Arbela, made his last stand against
his invincible foe. Of the battle to which Arbela gave its name, and
which proved the death-blow of the Persian empire, Creasy's narrative
furnishes a realistic description.)

A long and not uninstructive list might be made out of illustrious men
whose characters have been vindicated during recent times from
aspersions which for centuries had been thrown on them. The spirit of
modern inquiry, and the tendency of modern scholarship, both of which
are often said to be solely negative and destructive, have, in truth,
restored to splendor, and almost created anew, far more than they have
assailed with censure or dismissed from consideration as unreal.

The truth of many a brilliant narrative of brilliant exploits has of
late years been triumphantly demonstrated, and the shallowness of the
sceptical scoffs with which little minds have carped at the great minds
of antiquity has been in many instances decisively exposed. The laws,
the politics, and the lines of action adopted or recommended by eminent
men and powerful nations have been examined with keener investigation
and considered with more comprehensive judgment than formerly were
brought to bear on these subjects. The result has been at least as often
favorable as unfavorable to the persons and the states so scrutinized,
and many an oft-repeated slander against both measures and men has thus
been silenced, we may hope forever.

The veracity of Herodotus, the pure patriotism of Pericles, of
Demosthenes, and of the Gracchi, the wisdom of Clisthenes and of
Licinius as constitutional reformers, may be mentioned as facts which
recent writers have cleared from unjust suspicion and censure. And it
might be easily shown that the defensive tendency which distinguishes
the present and recent great writers of Germany, France, and England has
been equally manifested in the spirit in which they have treated the
heroes of thought and heroes of action who lived during what we term the
Middle Ages, and whom it was so long the fashion to sneer at or neglect.

The name of the victor of Arbela has led to these reflections; for,
although the rapidity and extent of Alexander's conquests have through
all ages challenged admiration and amazement, the grandeur of genius
which he displayed in his schemes of commerce, civilization, and of
comprehensive union and unity among nations, has, until lately, been
comparatively unhonored. This long-continued depreciation was of early
date. The ancient rhetoricians--a class of babblers, a school for lies
and scandal, as Niebuhr justly termed them--chose, among the stock
themes for their commonplaces, the character and exploits of Alexander.

They had their followers in every age; and, until a very recent period,
all who wished to "point a moral or adorn a tale," about unreasoning
ambition, extravagant pride, and the formidable frenzies of free will
when leagued with free power, have never failed to blazon forth the
so-called madman of Macedonia as one of the most glaring examples.
Without doubt, many of these writers adopted with implicit credence
traditional ideas, and supposed, with uninquiring philanthropy, that in
blackening Alexander they were doing humanity good service. But also,
without doubt, many of his assailants, like those of other great men,
have been mainly instigated by "that strongest of all antipathies, the
antipathy of a second-rate mind to a first-rate one," and by the envy
which talent too often bears to genius.

Arrian, who wrote his history of Alexander when Hadrian was emperor of
the Roman world, and when the spirit of declamation and dogmatism was at
its full height, but who was himself, unlike the dreaming pedants of the
schools, a statesman and a soldier of practical and proved ability, well
rebuked the malevolent aspersions which he heard continually thrown upon
the memory of the great conqueror of the East.

He truly says: "Let the man who speaks evil of Alexander not merely
bring forward those passages of Alexander's life which were really evil,
but let him collect and review _all_ the actions of Alexander, and then
let him thoroughly consider first who and what manner of man he himself
is, and what has been his own career; and then let him consider who and
what manner of man Alexander was, and to what an eminence of human
grandeur _he_ arrived. Let him consider that Alexander was a king, and
the undisputed lord of the two continents, and that his name is renowned
throughout the whole earth.

"Let the evil-speaker against Alexander bear all this in mind, and then
let him reflect on his own insignificance, the pettiness of his own
circumstances and affairs, and the blunders that he makes about these,
paltry and trifling as they are. Let him then ask himself whether he is
a fit person to censure and revile such a man as Alexander. I believe
that there was in his time no nation of men, no city, nay, no single
individual with whom Alexander's name had not become a familiar word. I
therefore hold that such a man, who was like no ordinary mortal, was not
born into the world without some special providence."

And one of the most distinguished soldiers and writers, Sir Walter
Raleigh, though he failed to estimate justly the full merits of
Alexander, has expressed his sense of the grandeur of the part played in
the world by "the great Emathian conqueror" in language that well
deserves quotation:

"So much hath the spirit of some one man excelled as it hath undertaken
and effected the alteration of the greatest states and commonweals, the
erection of monarchies, the conquest of kingdoms and empires, guided
handfuls of men against multitudes of equal bodily strength, contrived
victories beyond all hope and discourse of reason, converted the fearful
passions of his own followers into magnanimity, and the valor of his
enemies into cowardice; such spirits have been stirred up in sundry ages
of the world, and in divers parts thereof, to erect and cast down again,
to establish and to destroy, and to bring all things, persons, and
states to the same certain ends which the infinite spirit of the
_Universal_, piercing, moving, and governing all things, hath ordained.
Certainly, the things that this King did were marvellous and would
hardly have been undertaken by anyone else; and though his father had
determined to have invaded the Lesser Asia, it is like enough that he
would have contented himself with some part thereof, and not have
discovered the river of Indus, as this man did."

A higher authority than either Arrian or Raleigh may now be referred to
by those who wish to know the real merit of Alexander as a general, and

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