Athens: Its Rise and Fall Book 4 by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ambassador had the satisfaction indeed of wasting some of his money, but to no purpose; and he returned without success to Asia. Artaxerxes then saw the necessity of arousing himself to those active exertions which the feebleness of an exhausted despotism rendered the final, not the first resort. Under Megabyzus an immense army was collected; traversing Syria and Phoenicia, it arrived in Egypt, engaged the Egyptian forces in a pitched battle, and obtained a complete victory. Thence marching to Memphis, it drove the Greeks from their siege of the White Castle, till then continued, and shut them up in Prosopitis, an island in the Nile, around which their ships lay anchored. Megabyzus ordered the channel to be drained by dikes, and the vessels, the main force of the Athenians, were left stranded. Terrified by this dexterous manoeuvre, as well as by the success of the Persians, the Egyptians renounced all further resistance; and the Athenians were deprived at once of their vessels and their allies. [202]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

But this change was probably not apparent in the Athenian matrons themselves, who remained for the most part in primitive seclusion; and though, I think, it will be shown hereafter that modern writers have greatly exaggerated both the want of mental culture and the degree of domestic confinement to which the Athenian women [214] were subjected, yet it is certain, at least, that they did not share the social freedom or partake the intellectual accomplishments of their lords. It was the new class of “Female Friends” or “Hetaerae,” a phrase ill translated by the name of “courtesans” (from whom they were indubitably but not to our notions very intelligibly, distinguished), that exhibited the rarest union of female blandishment and masculine culture. “The wife for our house and honour,” implies Demosthenes, “the Hetaera for our solace and delight.” These extraordinary women, all foreigners, and mostly Ionian, made the main phenomenon of Athenian society. They were the only women with whom an enlightened Greek could converse as equal to himself in education. While the law denied them civil rights, usage lavished upon them at once admiration and respect. By stealth, as it were, and in defiance of legislation, they introduced into the ambitious and restless circles of Athens many of the effects, pernicious or beneficial, which result from the influence of educated women upon the manners and pursuits of men. [215]

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

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

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

As this most important measure occurred at the very period when the power of Cimon was weakened by the humiliating circumstances that attended his expedition to Ithome, and by the vigorous and popular measures of the opposition, so there seems every reason to believe that it was principally advised and effected by Pericles, who appears shortly afterward presiding over the administration of the finances. [220]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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