Produced by Robert J, Hall
MOSAICS OF GRECIAN HISTORY
BY MARCIUS WILLSON
AND ROBERT PIERPONT WILLSON
The leading object had in view in the preparation of the present volume has been to produce, within a moderate compass, a History of Greece that shall not only be trustworthy, but interesting to all classes of readers.
It must be acknowledged that our standard historical works, with all their worth, do not command a perusal by the people at large; and it is equally plain that our ordinary School Manuals–the abridgments and outlines of more voluminous works–do not meet with any greater favor. The mere outline system of historical study usually pursued in the schools is interesting to those only to whom it is suggestive of the details on which it is based; and we have long been satisfied that it is not the best for beginners and for popular use; that it inverts the natural order of acquisition; that for the young to master it is drudgery; that its statistical enumeration, if ever learned by them, is soon forgotten; that it tends to create a prejudice against the study of history; that it does not lay the proper foundation for future historical reading; and that, outside of the enforced study of the school-room, it is seldom made use of. The people in general–the masses–do not read such works, while they do read with avidity historical legends, historical romances, historical poems and dramas, and biographical sketches. And we do not hesitate to assert that from Shakspeare’s historical plays the reading public have acquired (together with much other valuable information) a hundred-fold more knowledge of certain portions of English history than from all the ponderous tomes of formal history that have ever been written. It may be said that people ought to read Hume, and Lingard, and Mackintosh, and Hallam, and Froude, and Freeman, instead of Shakspeare’s “King John,” and “Richard II.,” and “Henry IV.,” and “Henry VIII.,” etc. It is a sufficient reply to say they do not.
Historical works, therefore, to be read by the masses, must be adapted to the popular taste. It was an acknowledgment of this truth that led Macaulay, the most brilliant of historians, to remark, “We are not certain that the best histories are not those in which a little of the exaggeration of fictitious narrative is judiciously employed. Something is lost in accuracy, but much is gained in effect. The fainter lines are neglected, but the great characteristic features are imprinted on the mind forever.” If the result to which Macaulay refers be once attained by an introductory work so interesting that it shall come into general use, it will, we believe, naturally lead to the reading of some of the best standard works in the same historical field. In our attempt to make this a work of such a preparatory character, we have borne in mind the demand that has arisen for poetic illustration in the reading and teaching of history, and have given this delightful aid to historical study a prominent place–ofttimes making it the sole means of imparting information. And yet we have introduced nothing that is not strictly consistent with our ideal of what history should be; for although some of the poetic selections are avowedly wholly legendary, and others, still, in a greater or less degree fictitious in their minor details–like the by-plays in Shakspeare’s historic dramas–we believe they do no violence to historical verity, as they are faithful pictures of the times, scenes, incidents, principles, and beliefs which they are employed to illustrate. Aside, too, from their historic interest, they have a literary value. Many prose selections from the best historians are also introduced, giving to the narrative a pleasing variety of style that can be found in no one writer, even if he be a Grote, a Gibbon, or a Macaulay.
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THE PRINCIPAL HISTORIES OF GREECE.
Believing that it may be of some advantage to the general reader, we give herewith a brief sketch of the principal histories of Greece now before the public. We may mention, among those of a comprehensive character, the works of Goldsmith, Gillies, Mitford, Thirlwall, Grote, and Curtius:
OLIVER GOLDSMITH, “the popular poet, the charming novelist, the successful dramatist, and the witty essayist,” wrote a popular history of Greece, in two volumes, 8vo, 1774, embracing a period from the earliest date down to the death of Alexander the Great. It is an attractive work, elegantly written, but is superficial and inaccurate.
In 1786 was published a history of ancient Greece, in several volumes, by DR. JOHN GILLIES, who succeeded Dr. Robertson as historiographer of Scotland. This is a work of considerable merit but it is written in a spirit of decidedly monarchical tendencies, although the author evidently aimed at great fairness in his political views.
He says: “The history of Greece exposes the dangerous turbulence of democracy, and arraigns the despotism of tyrants. By describing the incurable evils inherent in every republican policy, it evinces the inestimable benefits resulting to liberty itself from the lawful dominion of hereditary kings, and the steady operation of well-regulated monarchy.”
In the year 1784 appeared the first volume of WILLIAM MITFORD’S “History of Greece”, subsequently extended to eight and ten volumes, 8vo. It is the first history of Greece that combines extensive research and profound philosophical reflection; but it is “a monarchical” history, by a writer of very strong anti-republican principles. “It was composed,” says Alison, the distinguished historian of modern Europe, “during, or shortly after, the French Revolution; and it was mainly intended to counteract the visionary ideas in regard to the blessings of Grecian democracy, which had spread so far in the world, from the magic of Athenian genius.” Says Chancellor Kent: “Mitford does not scruple to tell the truth, and the whole truth, and to paint the stormy democracies of Greece in all their grandeur and in all their wretchedness.” Lord Byron said of the author: “His great pleasure consists in praising tyrants, abusing Plutarch, spelling oddly, and writing quaintly; and–what is strange, after all–his is the best modern history of Greece in any language.” But this was penned before Thirlwall’s and Grote’s histories were published. Lord Macaulay says of Mitford: “Whenever this historian mentions Demosthenes he violates all the laws of candor and even of decency: he weighs no authorities, he makes no allowances, he forgets the best authenticated facts in the history of the times, and the most generally recognized principles of human nature.” The North British Review, after calling Mitford “a bad scholar, a bad historian, and a bad writer of English,” says, farther, that “he was the first writer of any note who found out that Grecian history was a living thing with a practical bearing.”
The next truly important and comprehensive Grecian history, published from 1835 to 1840, in eight volumes, 8vo, was written by CONNOP THIRLWALL, D. D., Bishop of St. David’s. It is a scholarly, elaborate, and philosophical work evincing a thorough knowledge of Greek literature and of the German commentators. The historian Grote said that, if it had appeared a few years earlier, he should probably never have undertaken his own history of Greece. “I should certainly,” he says, “not have been prompted to the task by any deficiencies such as those I felt and regretted in Mitford.”
In comparing Thirlwall’s history with Grote’s, the North British Review has the following judicious remarks: “Many persons, probably, who have no special devotion to Grecian history wish to study its main outlines in something higher than a mere school-book. To such readers we should certainly recommend Thirlwall rather than Grote. The comparative brevity, the greater clearness and terseness of the narrative, the freedom from diversions and digressions, all render it far better suited for such a purpose. But for the political thinker, who regards Grecian history chiefly in its practical bearing, Mr. Grote’s work is far better adapted. The one is the work of a scholar, an enlarged and practical scholar indeed, but still one in whom the character of the scholar is the primary one. The other is the work of a politician and man of business, a London banker, a Radical M. P., whose devotion to ancient history and literature forms the most illustrious confutation of the charges brought against such studies as being useless and impractical.”
“The style of Thirlwall,” says Dr. Samuel Warren of England, in his Introduction to Law Studies, “is dry, terse, and exact–not fitted, perhaps, for the historical tyro, but most acceptable to the advanced student who is in quest of things.”
GEORGE GROTE, Member of Parliament, and a London banker, who wrote a history of Greece in twelve volumes, published from 1846 to 1855, has been styled, by way of eminence, the historian of Greece, because his work is universally admitted by critics to be the best for the advanced student that has yet been written. The London Athenæum styles his history “a great literary undertaking, equally notable whether we regard it as an accession of standard value in our language, or as an honorable monument of what English scholarship can do.” The London Quarterly Review says: “Errors the most inveterate, that have been handed down without misgiving from generation to generation, have been for the first time corrected by Mr. Grote; facts the most familiar have been presented in new aspects and relations; things dimly seen, and only partially apprehended previously, have now assumed their true proportions and real significance; while numerous traits of Grecian character; and new veins of Grecian thought and feeling, have been revealed to the eyes of scholars by Mr. Grote’s searching criticism, like new forms of animated nature by the microscope.”
The general character of the work has been farther well summed up by Sir Archibald Alison. He says: “A decided liberal, perhaps even a republican, in politics, Mr. Grote has labored to counteract the influence of Mitford in Grecian history, and construct a history of Greece from authentic materials, which should illustrate the animating influence of democratic freedom upon the exertions of the human mind. In the prosecution of this attempt he has displayed an extent of learning, a variety of research, a power of combination, which are worthy of the very highest praise, and have secured for him a lasting place among the historians of modern Europe.”
We may also mention, in this connection, the valuable and scholarly work of the German professor, Ernst Curtius (1857-’67), in five volumes, translated by A. Ward (1871-’74). His sympathies are monarchical, and his views more nearly accord with those of Mitford and Thirlwall than with those of Grote.
The work by William Smith, in one volume, 1865, is an excellent summary of Grecian history, as is also that of George W. Cox, 1876. The former work, which to a considerable extent is an abridgment of Grote, has been brought down, in a Boston edition, from the Roman Conquest to the middle of the present century, by Dr. Felton, late President of Harvard College. President Felton has also published two volumes of scholarly lectures on Ancient and Modern Greece (1867).
The works devoted to limited periods of Grecian history and special departments of research are very numerous. Among the most valuable of the former is the History of the Peloponnesian War, by the Greek historian Thucydides, of which there are several English versions. He was born in Athens, about the year 471 B.C. His is one of the ablest histories ever written.
Herodotus, the earliest and best of the romantic historians, sometimes called the “Father of History,” was contemporary with Thucydides. He wrote, in a charming style, an elaborate work on the Persian and Grecian wars, most of the scenes of which he visited in person; and in numerous episodes and digressions he interweaves the most valuable history that we have of the early Asiatic nations and the Egyptians; but he indulges too much in the marvelous to be altogether reliable.”
Of the numerous works of Xenophon, an Athenian who is sometimes called the “Attic Muse,” from the simplicity and beauty of his style, the best known and the most pleasing are the Anab’asis, the Memorabil’ia of Socrates, and the Cyropedi’a, a political romance. He was born about 443 B.C. The best English translation of his works is by Watson, in Harper’s “New Classical Library.”
The work of the Greek historian, Polybius, originally in forty volumes, of which only five remain entire covered a period from the downfall of the Macedonian power to the subversion of Grecian liberty by the Romans, 146 B.C. It is a work of great accuracy, but of little rhetorical polish, and embraces much of Roman history from which Livy derived most of the materials for his account of the wars with Carthage.
In the first century of our era, Plutarch, a Greek biographer, wrote the “Parallel Lives” of forty-six distinguished Greeks and Romans–a charming and instructive work, translated by John and William Langhorne in 1771, and by Arthur Hugh Clough in 1858.
A history of Greece, in seven volumes, by George Finlay, a British historian, long resident at Athens, is noted for a thorough knowledge of Greek topography, art, and antiquity. The completed work embraces a period from the conquest of Greece by the Romans to the middle of the present century.
A History of Greek Literature, by J, P. Mahaffy, is the most polished descriptive work in the department which it embraces. It is happily supplemented by J. Addington Symonds’ Studies of the Greek Poets. Mr. Mahaffy, in common with many German scholars, is an unbeliever in the unity of the Iliad.
[The names of authors from whom selections are taken are in CAPITOLS.]
GENERAL VIEW OF THE GRECIAN STATES AND ISLANDS.
Introductory.–Olympus.–HEMANS.–Pi’e-rus.–POPE. 1. Thessaly.–Tem’pe.-HEMANS.
2. Epi’rus.–Cocy’tus, Ach’eron, Dodo’na.–MILTON: HAYGARTH: BYRON.
7. Pho’cis.–Parnassus.–BYRON.–Delphi.–HEMANS. 8. Boeo’tia.–Thebes.–SCHILLER.
10. Corinth.–BYRON: HAYGARTH.
17. The Isles of Greece.–BYRON.
Lemnos.–Euboe’a.–Cyc’la-des.–De’los.–Spor’a-des.– Crete.–Rhodes.–Sal’amis.–Ægi’na.–Cyth’-era.– “Venus Rising from the Sea.”–WOOLNER. Stroph’a-des.–VIRGIL.–Paxos.–Zacyn’thus.– Cephalo’nia.–Ith’aca.–Leu’cas or Leuca’dia.– Corcy’ra or Cor’fu.–“Gardens of Alcin’o-us.”
THE FABULOUS AND LEGENDARY PERIOD OF GRECIAN HISTORY.
I. Grecian Mythology.
Value of the Grecian Fables.–J. STUART BLACKIE. The Battle of the Giants.–HE’SIOD Hymn to Jupiter.–CLEAN’THES
The god Apollo.–OV’ID.
Fancies of the Greek Mind.–WORDSWORTH: LIDDELL: BLACKIE. The Poet’s Lament.–SCHILLER.
The Origin of Evil.–HESIOD.
What Prome’theus Personified.–BLACKIE. The Punishment of Prometheus.–ÆS’CHYLUS: SHELLEY Deluge of Deuca’lion.–OVID.
Moral Characteristics of the Gods, etc.–MAHAFFY: GLADSTONE: HOMER: ÆSCHYLUS: HESIOD. Oaths.–HOMER: ÆSCHYLUS: SOPH’OCLES: VIRGIL. The Future State.–HOMER.
1. Story of Tan’talus.–BLACKIE 2. The Descent of Or’pheus.–OVID: HOMER. 3. The Elys’ium.–HOMER: PINDAR.
Hindu and Greek Skepticism.–(Cornhill Magazine).
II. The Earnest Inhabitants of Greece. The Founding of Athens.–BLACKIE.
III. The Heroic Age.
Heroic Times foretold to Adam.–MILTON Twelve Labors of Hercules.–HOMER. Fable of Hercules and Antæ’us.–COLLINS. The Argonautic Expedition.–PINDAR. Legend of Hy’las.–BAYARD TAYLOR.
The Trojan War.
1. The Greek Armament.–EURIP’IDES. 2. The name Helen.–ÆSCHYLUS.
3. Ulysses and Thersi’tes.–HOMER. (POPE). 4. Combat of Menela’us and Paris.–HOMER. (POPE). 5. Parting of Hector and Androm’a-che.–HOMER. (POPE). 6. Hector’s Exploits and Death of Patro’clus.–HOMER. (POPE).
7. The Shield of Achilles.–HOMER. (SOTHEBY). 8. Address of Achilles to his Horses.–HOMER. (POPE). 9. The Death of Hector.–HOMER. (BRYANT). 10. Priam Begging for Hector’s Body.–HOMER. (COWPER). 11. Lamentations of Andromache and Helen.–HOMER. (POPE). The Fate of Troy.–VIRGIL: SCHILLER. Beacon Fires from Troy to Argos.–ÆSCHYLUS. Remarks on the Trojan War.–THIRLWALL: GROTE. Fate of the Actors in the Conflict.–ENNIUS: LANDOR: LANG.
IV. Arts and Civilization in the Heroic Age. Political Life of the Greeks.–MAHAFFY: HEEREN. Domestic Life and Character.–MAHAFFY: HOMER. The Raft of Ulysses.–HOMER.
V. The Conquest of Peloponnesus, and Colonies in Asia Minor. Return of the Heracli’dæ.–LUCAN.
EARLY GREEK LITERATURE, AND GREEK COMMUNITY OF INTERESTS.
Ionian Language and Culture.–FELTON.
I. Homer and his Poems.–ANTIP’ATER: FELTON: TALFOURD: POPE: COLERIDGE.
II. Some Causes of Greek Unity.
The Grecian Festivals.
1. Chariot Race and Death of Ores’tes.–SOPHOCLES. 2. Apollo’s Conflict with the Python.–OVID. 3. The Apollo Belvedere.–THOMSON. The National Councils.
SPARTA, AND THE LEGISLATION OF LYCURGUS.
Description of Sparta.–THOMSON.
I. The Constitution of Lycurgus.
Spartan Patriotic Virtue.–TYMNOE’US.
II. Spartan Poetry and Music.
Spartan March.–CAMPBELL.: HEMANS. Songs of the Spartans.–PLUTARCH: TERPAN’DER: PINDAR: ION.
III. Sparta’s Conquests.
FORMS OF GOVERNMENT, AND CHANGES IN GRECIAN POLITICS.
I. Changes from Aristocracies to Oligarchies.–HEEREN.
II. Changes from Oligarchies to Despotisms.–THIRLWALL: HEEREN: BULWER: TYRTOE’US.
THE EARLY HISTORY OF ATHENS.
I. The Legislation of Dra’co.
II. The Legislation of So’lon.–PLUTARCH: A’KENSIDE: SOLON: THOMSON: SOLON.
III. The Usurpation of Pisis’tratus. The Usurper and his Stratagem.–AKENSIDE. Solon’s Appeal to the Athenians.–AKENSIDE. Character of Pisistratus.–THIRLWALL. Conspiracy of Harmodius and Aristogi’ton.–CALLIS’TRATUS.
IV. Birth of Democracy.–THIRLWALL.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GREEK COLONIES.
The Cave of the Cumæ’an Sibyl.–VIRGIL: GROTE. The’ron of Agrigen’tum.–PINDAR.
Increase among the Sicilian Greeks.–GROTE.
PROGRESS OF LITERATURE AND THE ARTS.
I. The Poems of Hesiod.–“Winter.”–FELTON: MURE: THIRLWALL: MAHAFFY.
II. Lyric Poetry.
Calli’nus of Ephesus.–“War Elegy”. Archil’ochus of Pa’ros–SYMONDS: MAHAFFY. Alc’man.–“Sleep, or Night.”–MURE. Ari’on.–Stesich’orus.–MAHAFFY.
Alcæus.–“Spoils of War.”–AKENSIDE. Sappho.–“Defence of.”–SYMONDS: ANTIP’ATER. Anac’reon.–“The Grasshopper.”–AKENSIDE.
III. Early Grecian Philosophy.
The Seven Sages.–(Maxims).-GROTE. Tha’les, Anaxim’enes, Heracli’tus, Diog’enes, Anaximan’der, and Xenoph’anes.
Pythag’oras and his Doctrines.–BLACKIE: THOMSON: COLERIDGE: LOWELL.
The Eleusin’ian Mysteries.–VIRGIL.
The Cyclo’pean Walls.–LORD HOUGHTON. Dor’ic, Ion’ic, and Corinthian Orders.–THOMSON. Cher’siphron, and the Temple of Diana.–STORY. Temples at Pæs’tum.–CRANCH.
Glaucus, Rhoe’cus, Theodo’rus, Dipæ’nus, Scyllis. Cause of the Progress of Sculpture.–THIRLWALL.
THE PERSIAN WARS.
I. The Ionic Revolt.
II. The First Persian War.
The Battle of Marathon.
Legends of the Battle.–HEMANS: BLACKIE. The Death of Milti’ades: his Character.–GROTE: GILLIES. Aristi’des and Themis’tocles:–THOMSON: PLUTARCH: THIRLWALL.
III. The Second Persian Invasion.
Xerxes at Aby’dos.–HEROD’OTUS. Bridging of the Hellespont.–JUVENAL: MILTON. The Battle of Thermop’ylæ.
1. Invincibility of the Spartans.–HAYGARTH. 2. Description of the Contest.–HAYGARTH. 3. Epitaphs on those who fell.–SIMON’IDES. 4. The Tomb of Leon’idas.–ANON.
5. Eulogy on the Fallen.–BYRON Naval Conflict at Artemis’ium.–PLUTARCH: PINDAR. The Abandonment of Athens.
The Battle of Salamis.
1. Xerxes Views the Conflict.–BYRON. 2. Flight of Xerxes.–JUVENAL: ALAMANNI. 3. Celebrated Description of the Battle.–MITFORD: ÆSCHYLUS.
4. Another Account.–BLACKIE. The Battle of Platæ’a.
1. Description of the Battle.–BULWER. 2. Importance of the Victory.–SOUTHEY: BULWER. 3. Victory at Myc’a-le.–BULWER.
4. “The Wasps.”–ARISTOPHANES.
THE RISE AND GROWTH OF THE ATHENIAN EMPIRE.
I. The Disgrace and Death of Themistocles. Tributes to his Memory.–PLATO: GEMINUS: THIRLWALL. II. The Rise and Fall of Cimon.
Character of Cimon–THOMSON.
Battle of Eurym’edon.–SIMONIDES. Earthquake at Sparta, and Revolt of the Helots.–BULWER: ALISON.
III. The Accession of Pericles to Power. Changes in the Athenian Constitution.–BULWER. Tribute to Pericles.–CROLY.
Picture of Athens in Peace.–HAYGARTH.
THE PELOPONNESIAN WARS, AND THE FALL OF ATHENS.
Speech of Pericles for War.–THUCYD’IDES.
I. The First Peloponnesian War.
Funeral Oration of Pericles.–THUCYDIDES. Comments on the Oration.–CURTIUS. The Plague at Athens.–LUCRETIUS.
Death of Pericles.–CROLY: THIRLWALL: BULWER. Character of Pericles.–MITFORD.
II. The Athenian Demagogues.
Cleon, the Demagogue.–GILLIES: ARISTOPH’ANES. The Peace of Ni’cias.
III. The Sicilian Expedition.
Treatment of the Athenian Prisoners.–BYRON.
IV. The Second Peloponnesian War.
Humiliation of Athens.
Barbarities of the Contest.–MAHAFFY.
GRECIAN LITERATURE AND ART, FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE PERSIAN TO THE CLOSE OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WARS (B.C. 500-403).
The Era of Athenian Greatness.–SYMONDS.
I. Lyric Poetry.
Simonides.–“Lamentation of Dan’a-ë.”–MAHAFFY. Pindar.–“Threnos.”–THIRLWALL: PRIOR: SYMONDS: GRAY: POPE: HORACE.
II. The Drama.–BULWER.
1. Tragedy.–Melpom’ene.–AKENSIDE. Æschylus.–“Death of Agamemnon.”–PLUMPTRE: LAWRENCE: VAN SCHLEGEL: BYRON: MAHAFFY.
Sophocles.–OEd’ipus Tyran’nus.”–TALFOURD: PHRYN’ICHUS: SIM’MIAS.
Euripides.–“Alcestis Preparing for Death.”–SYMONDS: MILTON: MAHAFFY.
The Transitions of Tragedy.–GROTE. 2. Comedy.
Aristophanes.–Extracts from “The Cloud.” “Choral Song from The Birds.”–PLATO: GROTE: SEWELL: MILTON: RUSKIN.
Hecatæ’ns.–MAHAFFY: NIEBUHR. Herodotus.–“Introduction to History.”–LAWRENCE. Herodotus and his Writings.–MACAULAY. Thucyd’i-des.–MAHAFFY.
Thucydides and Herodotus.–BROWNE.
Anaxag’oras: his Death.–WILLIAM CANTON. The Sophists.–MAHAFFY.
Socrates.–“Defence of Socrates.”–“Socrates’ Views of a Future State.”–MAHAFFY: THOMSON: SMITH: TYLER: GROTE.
I. Sculpture and Painting.
Phid’ias.–LÜBKE: GILLIES: LÜBKE. Polygno’tus.–Apollodo’rus.–Zeux’is.–Parrha’sius. –Timan’thes.
Parrhasius and his Captive.–SENECA: WILLIS.
The Adornment of Athens.–BULWER. I. The Acrop’olis and its Splendors. The Parthenon.–HEMANS.
II. Other Architectural Monuments of Athens. The Temple of The’seus.–HAYGARTH. Athenian Enthusiasm for Art.–BULWER. The Glory of Athens.–TALFOURD.
THE SPARTAN AND THEBAN SUPREMACIES.
I. The Expedition of Cyrus, and the Retreat of the Ten Thousand.–THOMSON: CURTIUS.
II. The Supremacy of Sparta.
III. The Rise and Fall of Thebes.
Pelop’idas and Epaminon’das.–THOMSON: CURTIUS.
THE SICILIAN GREEKS.
The Founding of Ætna.–PINDAR.
Hi’ero’s Victory at Cu’mæ.–PINDAR. Admonitions to Hiero.–PINDAR.
Dionysius the Elder.–PLUTARCH. Damon and Pythias.–The Hostage.–SCHILLER. Archime’des.–SCHILLER
Visit of Cicero to the Grave of Archimedes.–WINTHROP.
THE MACEDONIAN SUPREMACY.
I. The Sacred War.–THIRLWALL.
II. Sketch of Macedonia.
III. Interference of Philip of Macedon. Demosthenes.–“The First Philippic.”–GROTE. Pho’cion.–His Influence at Athens.–GROTE.
IV. War with Macedon.
V. Accession of Alexander the Great.
VI. Alexander Invades Asia.
VII. The Battle of Arbe’la.–Flight and Death of Dari’us.– GROTE: ÆS’CHINES.
Alexander’s Feast at Persep’olis.–DRYDEN.
VI. The Death of Alexander.
His Career and his Character.–LU’CAN. Reflections on his Life, etc.–JUVENAL: BYRON.
FROM THE DEATH OF ALEXANDER TO THE CONQUEST OF GREECE BY THE ROMANS.
I. A Retrospective Glance at Greece. Oration of Æschines against Ctes’iphon. Oration of Demosthenes on the Crown.
II. The Wars that followed Alexander’s Death. Character of Ptolemy Philadelphus–THEOC’RITUS.
III. The Celtic Invasion, and the War with Pyrrhus. Queen Archidami’a.–ANON.
IV. The Achæ’an League.–Philip V. of Macedon. Epigrams on Philip and the Macedonians.–Alcoe’us.
V. Greece Conquered by Rome.
“The Liberty of Greece.”–WORDSWORTH. Desolation of Corinth.–ANTIPATER. Last Struggles of Greece.–THIRLWALL: HORACE.
LITERATURE AND ART AFTER THE CLOSE OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR.
I. The Drama.–MAHAFFY.
Phile’mon.–“Faith in God.”
Menander.–“Human Existence.”–SYMONDS: LAWRENCE.
II. Oratory.–MILTON: CICERO.
Æs’chines and Demosthenes.–LEGARÉ: BROUGHAM: HUME.
Plato.–HAYGARTH: BROUGHAM: KENDRICK: MITCHELL. Aristotle.–POPE: BROWNE: LAWRENCE: SMITH: MAHAFFY. Academe.–ARNOLD.
Epicu’rus and Ze’no.–LUCRETIUS.
I. Architecture and Sculpture.
Changes in Statuary.–WEYMAN. The Dying Gladiator.–LÜBKE: THOMSON. The La-oc’o-on.–THOMSON: HOLLAND.
Venus Rising from the Sea.–ANTIPATER. Apel’les and Protog’enes.–ANTHON. Protogenes’ Picture at Rhodes.–THOMSON.
The Image of Athens.–SHELLEY. Immortal Influence of Athens.–MACAULAY: HAYGARTH.
GREECE SUBSEQUENT TO THE ROMAN CONQUEST.
I. Greece under the Romans.
Christianity in Greece.–FELTON.
II. Changes down to the Fourteenth Century. Courts of the Crusading Chieftains.–EDINBURGH REVIEW. The Duchy of Athens.–FELTON.
The Turkish Invasion.–HEMANS.
III. Contests between the Turks and Venetians. Past and Present of the Acropolis of Athens. The Siege and Fall of Corinth.–BYRON.
IV. Final Conquest of Greece by Turkey. Turkish Oppressions.–TENNENT.
The Slavery of Greece.–CANNING: BYRON. First Steps to Secure Liberty.–The Klephts.–FELTON. Greek War-Songs.–RHIGAS: POLYZOIS.
V. The Greek Revolution.
A Prophetic Vision of the Struggle.–SHELLEY’S “Hellas”. Song of the Greeks.–CAMPBELL.
American Sympathy with Greece.–TUCKERMAN: WEBSTER. The Sortie at Missolon’ghi.–WARBURTON. A Visit to Missolonghi.–STEPHENS. Marco Bozzar’is.–HALLECK.
Battle of Navari’no.–CAMPBELL.
VI. Greece under a Constitutional Monarchy. Revolution against King Otho.–BENJAMIN. The Deposition of King Otho: Greece under his Rule. –TUCKERMAN: BRITISH QUARTERLY.
Accession of King George.–His Government.–TUCKERMAN. Progress in Modern Greece.–COOK.
GENERAL VIEW OF THE GRECIAN STATES AND ISLANDS.
The country called HELLAS by the Helle’nes, its native inhabitants, and known to us by the name of Greece, forms the southern part of the most easterly of the three great peninsulas of Southern Europe, extending into the Mediterranean between the Æge’an Sea, or Grecian Archipelago, on the east, and the Ionian Sea on the west. The whole area of this country, so renowned in history, is only about twenty thousand square miles; which is considerably less than that of Portugal, and less than half that of the State of Pennsylvania.
The mainland of ancient Greece was naturally divided into Northern Greece, which embraced Thessaly and Epi’rus; Central Greece, comprising the divisions of Acarna’nia, Æto’lia, Lo’cris, Do’ris, Pho’cis, Breo’tia, and At’tica (the latter forming the eastern extremity of the whole peninsula); and Southern Greece, which the ancients called Pel-o-pon-ne’sus, or the Island of Pe’lops, which would be an island were it not for the narrow Isthmus of Corinth, which connects it on the north with Central Greece. Its modern name, the Mo-re’a, was bestowed upon it from its resemblance to the leaf of the mulberry. The chief political divisions of Peloponnesus were Corinth and Acha’ia on the north, Ar’golis on the east, Laco’nia and Messe’nia at the southern extremity of the peninsula, E’lis on the west, and the central region of Arca’dia.
Greece proper is separated from Macedonia on the north by the Ceraunian and Cambunian chain of mountains, extending in irregular outline from the Ionian Sea on the west to the Therma’ic Gulf on the east, terminating, on the eastern coast, in the lofty summit of Mount Olympus, the fabled residence of the gods, where, in the early dawn of history, Jupiter (called “the father of gods and men”) was said to hold his court, and where he reigned supreme over heaven and earth. Olympus rises abruptly, in colossal magnificence, to a height of more than six thousand feet, lifting its snowy head far above the belt of clouds that nearly always hangs upon the sides of the mountain.
Wild and august in consecrated pride, There through the deep-blue heaven Olympus towers, Girdled with mists, light-floating as to hide The rock-built palace of immortal powers. –HEMANS.
In the Olympian range, also, was Mount Pie’rus, where was the Pierian fountain, one of the sacred resorts of the Muses, so often mentioned by the poets, and to which POPE, with gentle sarcasm, refers when he says,
A little learning is a dangerous thing: Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
1. Thessaly.–From the northern chain of mountains, the central Pindus range, running south, separates Thessaly on the east from Epi’rus on the west. The former region, enclosed by mountain ranges broken only on the east, and watered by the Pene’us and its numerous tributaries, embraced the largest and most fertile plain in all Greece. On the Thessalian coast, south of Olympus, were the celebrated mounts Ossa and Pe’lion, which the giants, in their wars against the gods, as the poets fable, piled upon Olympus in their daring attempt to scale the heavens and dethrone the gods. Between those mounts lay the celebrated vale of Tem’pe, through which the Pene’us flowed to the sea.
Romantic Tempe! thou art yet the same– Wild as when sung by bards of elder time: Years, that have changed thy river’s classic name, [Footnote: The modern name of the Pene’us is Selembria or Salamvria.]
Have left thee still in savage pomp sublime. –HEMANS.
Farther south, having the sea on one side and the lofty cliffs of Mount OE’ta on the other, was the celebrated narrow pass of Thermop’ylæ, leading from Thessaly into Central Greece.
2. Epi’rus.–The country of Epirus, on the west of Thessaly, was mostly a wild and mountainous region, but with fertile intervening valleys. Among the localities of Epirus celebrated in fable and in song was the river Cocy’tus, which the poets, on account of its nauseous waters, described as one of the rivers of the lower world–
Cocytus, named of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream.
The Ach’eron was another of the rivers–
Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep– –MILTON.
which was assigned by the poets to the lower world, and over which the souls of the dead were said to be first conveyed, before they were borne the Le’the, or “stream of oblivion,” beyond. The true Acheron of Epirus has been thus described:
Yonder rolls Acheron his dismal stream, Sunk in a narrow bed: cypress and fir
Wave their dim foliage on his rugged banks; And underneath their boughs the parched ground, Strewed o’er with juniper and withered leaves, Seems blasted by no mortal tread.
As the Acheron falls into the lake Acheru’sia, and after rising from it flows underground for some distance, this lake also has been connected by the poets with the gloomy legend of its fountain stream.
This is the place
Sung by the ancient masters of the lyre, Where disembodied spirits, ere they left Their earthly mansions, lingered for a time Upon the confines of eternal night,
Mourning their doom; and oft the astonished hind, As home he journeyed at the fall of eve, Viewed unknown forms flitting across his path, And in the breeze that waved the sighing boughs Heard shrieks of woe.
In Epirus was also situated the celebrated city of Dodo’na, with the temple of that name, where was the most ancient oracle in Greece, whose fame extended even to Asia. But in the wide waste of centuries even the site of this once famous oracle is forgotten.
Where, now, Dodona! is thine aged grove, Prophetic fount, and oracle divine?
What valley echoes the response of Jove? What trace remaineth of the Thunderer’s shrine? All, all forgotten!
3. Acarna’nia.–Coming now to Central Greece, lying northward of the Corinthian Gulf, we find Acarnania on the far west, for the most part a productive country with good harbors: but the Acarnanians, a rude and warlike people, were little inclined to Commercial pursuits; they remained far behind the rest of the Greeks in culture, and scarcely one city of importance was embraced within their territory.
4. Æto’lia, generally a rough and mountainous country, separated, on the west, from Acarnania by the river Ach-e-lo’us, the largest of the rivers of Greece, was inhabited, like Acarnania, by a hardy and warlike race, who long preserved the wild and uncivilized habits of a barbarous age. The river Achelous was intimately connected with the religion and mythology of the Greeks. The hero Hercules contended with the river-god for the hand of De-i-a-ni’ra, the most beautiful woman of his time; and so famous was the stream itself that the Oracle of Dodona gave frequent directions “to sacrifice to the Achelous,” whose very name was used, in the language of poetry, as an appellation for the element of water and for rivers.
5. Lo’cris, lying along the Corinthian Gulf east of Ætolia, was inhabited by a wild, uncivilized race, scarcely Hellen’ic in character, and said to have been addicted, from the earliest period, to theft and rapine. Their two principal towns were Amphis’sa and Naupac’tus, the latter now called Lepanto. There was another settlement of the Locri north of Pho’cis and Boeo’tia.
6. Do’ris, a small territory in the north-eastern angle of Ætolia proper–a rough but fertile country–was the early seat of the Dorians, the most enterprising and the most powerful of the Hellenic tribes, if we take into account their numerous migrations, colonies and conquests. Their colonies in Asia Minor founded six independent republics, which were confined within the bounds of as many cities. From this people the Doric order of architecture–a style typical of majesty and imposing grandeur, and the one the most employed by the Greeks in the construction of their temples–derived its origin.
7. Pho’cis.–On the east of Locris, Ætolia, and Doris was Phocis, a mountainous region, bordered on the south by the Corinthian Gulf. In the northern central part of its territory was the famed Mount Parnassus, covered the greater part of the year with snow, with its sacred cave, and its Castalian fount gushing forth between two of its lofty rocks. The waters were said to inspire those who drank of them with the gift of poetry. Hence both mountain and fount were sacred to the Muses, and their names have come down to our own times as synonymous with poetry and song. BYRON thus writes of Parnassus, in lines almost of veneration, as he first viewed it from Delphi, on the southern base of the mountain:
Oh, thou Parnassus! whom I now survey, Not in the frenzy of a dreamer’s eye,
Not in the fabled landscape of a lay, But soaring snow-clad through thy native sky In the wild pomp of mountain majesty!
Oft have I dreamed of thee! whose glorious name Who knows not, knows not man’s divinest lore: And now I view thee, ’tis, alas! with shame That I in feeblest accents must adore.
When I recount thy worshippers of yore I tremble, and can only bend the knee;
Nor raise my voice, nor vainly dare to soar, But gaze beneath thy cloudy canopy
In silent joy to think at last I look on thee!
The city of Delphi was the seat of the celebrated temple and oracle of that name. Here the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo, pronounced the prophetic responses, in extempore prose or verse; and here the Pythian Games were celebrated in honor of Apollo.
Here, thought-entranced, we wander, where of old From Delphi’s chasm the mystic vapor rose, And trembling nations heard their doom foretold By the dread spirit throned ‘midst rocks and snows. Though its rich fanes be blended with the dust, And silence now the hallowed haunt possess, Still is the scene of ancient rites august, Magnificent in mountain loneliness;
Still Inspiration hovers o’er the ground, Where Greece her councils held, her Pythian victors crowned. –MRS. HEMANS.
8. Boeo’tia.–Boeotia, lying to the east of Phocis, bordering on the Euri’pus, or “Euboe’an Sea,” a narrow strait which separates it from the Island of Euboe’a, and touching the Corinthian Gulf on the south-west, is mostly one large basin enclosed by mountain ranges, and having a soil exceedingly fertile. It was the most thickly settled part of Greece; it abounded in cities of historic interest, of which Thebes, the capital, was the chief–whose walls were built, according to the fable, to the sound of the Muses:
With their ninefold symphonies
There the chiming Muses throng;
Stone on stone the walls arise
To the choral Music-song.
Boeotia was the scene of many of the legends celebrated by the poets, and especially of those upon which were founded the plays of the Greek tragedians. Near a fountain on Mount Cithæ’ron, on its southern border, the hunter Actæ’on, having been changed into a stag by the goddess Diana, was hunted down and killed by his own hounds. Pen’theus, an early king of Thebes, having ascended Cithæron to witness the orgies of the Bacchanals, was torn in pieces by his own mother and aunts, to whom Bacchus made him appear as a wild beast. On this same mountain range also occurred the exposure of OEd’ipus, the hero of the most famous tragedy of Sophocles. Near the Corinthian Gulf was Mount Hel’icon, sacred to Apollo and the Muses. Its slopes and valleys were renowned for their fertility; it had its sacred grove, and near it was the famous fountain of Aganip’pe, which was believed to inspire with oracular powers those who drank of its waters. Nearer the summit was the fountain Hippocre’ne, which is said to have burst forth when the winged horse Peg’asus, the favorite of the Muses, struck the ground with his hoofs, and which Venus, accompanied by her constant attendants, the doves, delighted to visit. Here, we are told,
Her darling doves, light-hovering round their Queen, Dipped their red beaks in rills from Hippocrene. [Footnote: Always Hip-po-cre’ne in prose; but it is allowable to contract it into three syllables in poetry, as in the example above.]
It was here, also–
near this fresh fount,
On pleasant Helicon’s umbrageous mount–
that occurred the celebrated contest between the nine daughters of Pie’rus, king of E-ma’thi-a (the ancient name of Macedonia), and the nine Muses. It is said that “at the song of the daughters of Pierus the sky became dark, and all nature was put out of harmony; but at that of the Muses the heavens themselves, the stars, the sea, and the rivers stood motionless, and Helicon swelled up with delight, so that its summit reached the sky.” The Muses then, having turned the presumptuous maidens into chattering magpies, first took the name of Pi-er’i-des, from Pieria, their natal region.
9. Attica.–Bordering Boeotia on the south-east was the district of Attica, nearly in the form of a triangle, having two of its sides washed by the sea, and the other–the northern–shut off from the east of Central Greece by the mountain range of Cithæron on the north-west, and Par’nes on the east. Its other noted mountains were Pentel’icus (sometimes called Mende’li), so celebrated for its quarries of beautiful marble, and Hymet’tus, celebrated for its excellent honey, and the broad belt of flowers at its base, which scented the air with their delicious perfume. It could boast of its chief city, the favored seat of the goddess Minerva–
Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts And eloquence–
as surpassing all other cities in beauty and magnificence, and in the great number of its illustrious citizens. Yet the soil of Attica was, on the whole, exceedingly barren, with the exception of a few very fertile spots; but olive groves abounded, and the olive was the most valuable product.
The general sterility of Attica was the great safety of her people in their early history. “It drove them abroad; it filled them with a spirit of activity, which loved to grapple with danger and difficulty; it told them that, if they would maintain themselves in the dignity which became them, they must regard the resources of their own land as nothing, and those of other countries as their own.” Added to this, the situation of Attica marked it out in an eminent manner for a commercial country; and it became distinguished beyond all the other states of Greece for its extensive commercial relations, while its climate was deemed the most favorable of all the regions of the civilized world for the physical and intellectual development of man. It was called “a sunny land,” and, notwithstanding the infertility of its soil, it was full of picturesque beauty. The poet BYRON, in his apostrophe to Greece, makes many striking and beautiful allusions to the Attica of his own time:
Yet are thy skies as blue, thy crags as wild; Sweet are thy groves, and verdant are thy fields, Thine olive ripe as when Minerva smiled, And still its honeyed wealth Hymettus yields. There the blithe bee his fragrant fortress builds, The freeborn wanderer of thy mountain air; Apollo still thy long, long summer gilds, Still in his beam Mendeli’s marbles glare; Art, Glory, Freedom fail, but Nature still is fair.
10. Entering now upon the isthmus which leads into Southern Greece, we find the little state of Corinth, with its famous city of the same name, keeping guard over the narrow pass, with one foot on the Corinthian Gulf and the other on the Saron’ic, thereby commanding both the Ionian and Æge’an seas, controlling the commerce that passed between them, and holding the keys of Peloponnesus. It was a mountainous and barren region, with the exception of a small plain north-west of the city. Thus situated, Corinth early became the seat of opulence and the arts, which rendered her the ornament of Greece. On a lofty eminence overhanging the city, forming a conspicuous object at a great distance, was her famous citadel–so important as to be styled by Philip of Macedon “the fetters of Greece.” Rising abruptly nearly two thousand feet above the surrounding plain, the hill itself, in its natural defences, is the strongest mountain fortress in Europe.
The whirlwind’s wrath, the earthquake’s shock, Have left untouched her hoary rock,
The key-stone of a land which still, Though fallen, looks proudly on that hill, The landmark to the double tide
That purpling rolls on either side, As if their waters chafed to meet,
Yet pause and crouch beneath her feet. –BYRON.
The ascent to the citadel, in the days of Corinthian glory, was lined on both sides with temples and altars; but temples and altars are gone, and citadel and city alike are now in ruins. Antip’ater of Sidon describes the city as a scene of desolation after it had been conquered, plundered, and its walls thrown down by the Romans, 146 B.C. Although the city was partially rebuilt, the description is fully applicable to its present condition. A modern traveller thus describes the site of the ancient city:
The hoarse wind sighs around the mouldering walls Of the vast theatre, like the deep roar Of distant waves, or the tumultuous rush Of multitudes: the lichen creeps along
Each yawning crevice, and the wild-flower hangs Its long festoons around each crumbling stone. The window’s arch and massive buttress glow With time’s deep tints, whilst cypress shadows wave On high, and spread a melancholy gloom. Silent forever is the voice
Of Tragedy and Eloquence. In climes Far distant, and beneath a cloudy sky,
The echo of their harps is heard; but all The soul-subduing energy is fled.
11. Adjoining the Corinthian territory on the west, and extending about sixty-five miles along the southern coast of the Corinthian Gulf, was Acha’ia, mountainous in the interior; but its coast region for the most part was level, exposed to inundations, and without a single harbor of any size. Hence the Achæ’ans were never famous for maritime enterprise. Of the eleven Achæan cities that formed the celebrated Achæan league, Pal’træ (now Patras’) alone survives. Si’çy-on, on the eastern border of Achaia, was at times an independent state.
12. South of Achaia was the central region of Arcadia, surrounded by a ring of mountains, and completely encompassed by the other states of the Peloponnesus. Next to Laconia it was the largest of the ancient divisions of Greece, and the most picturesque and beautiful portion (not unlike Switzerland in its mountain character), and without either seaports or navigable rivers. It was inhabited by a people simple in their habits and manners, noted for their fondness for music and dancing, their hospitality, and pastoral customs. With the poets Arcadia was a land of peace, of simple pleasures, and untroubled quiet; and it was natural that the pipe-playing Pan should first appear here, where musical shepherds led their flocks along the woody vales of impetuous streams.
13. Ar’golis, east of Arcadia, was mostly a rocky peninsula lying between the Saron’ic and Argol’ic gulfs. It was in great part a barren region, with the exception of the plain adjoining its capital city, Argos, and in early times was divided into a number of small but independent kingdoms, that afterward became republics. The whole region is rich in historic associations of the Heroic Age. Here was Tir’yns, whose massive walls were built by the one-eyed Cy’clops, and whence Hercules departed at the commencement of his twelve labors. Here, also, was the Lernæ’an Lake, where the hero slew the many-headed hydra; Ne’mea, the haunt of the lion slain by Hercules, and the seat of the celebrated Ne’mean games; and Myce’næ, the royal city of Agamemnon, who commanded the Greeks in the Trojan War–now known, only by its ruins and its legends of by-gone ages.
And still have legends marked the lonely spot Where low the dust of Agamemnon lies;
And shades of kings and leaders unforgot, Hovering around, to fancy’s vision rise. –HEMANS.
14. At the south-eastern extremity of the Peloponnesus was Laconia, the fertile portions of which consisted mostly of a long, narrow valley, shut in on three sides by the mountain ranges of Ta-yg’etus on the west and Parnon on the north and east, and open only on the south to the sea. Through this valley flows the river Euro’tas, on whose banks, about twenty miles from the sea, stood the capital city, Lacedæ’mon, or Sparta, which was unwalled and unfortified during its most flourishing period, as the Spartans held that the real defence of a town consists solely in the valor of its citizens. The sea-coast of Laconia was lined with towns, and furnished with numerous ports and commodious harbors. While Sparta was equaled by few other Greek cities in the magnificence of its temples and statues, the private houses, and even the palace of the king, were always simple and unadorned.
15. West of Laconia was Messe’nia, the south-western division of Greece, a mountainous country, but with many fertile intervening valleys, the whole renowned for the mildness and salubrity of its climate. Its principal river, the Pami’sus, rising in the mountains of Arcadia, flows southward to the Messenian Gulf through a beautiful plain, the lower portion of which was so celebrated for its fertility that it was called Maca’ria, or “the blessed;” and even to this day it is covered with plantations of the vine, the fig, and the mulberry, and is “as rich in cultivation as can be well imagined.”
16. One district more–that of E’lis, north of Messenia and west of Arcadia, and embracing the western slopes of the Achaian and Arcadian mountains–makes up the complement of the ancient Peloponnesian states. Though hilly and mountainous, like Messenia, it had many valleys and hill-sides of great fertility. The river Alphe’us, which the poets have made the most celebrated of the rivers of Greece, flows westward through Elis to the Ionian Sea, and on its banks was Olympia, the renowned seat of the Olympian games. Here, also, was the sacred grove of olive and plane trees, within which were temples, monuments, and statues, erected in honor of gods, heroes, and conquerors. In the very midst stood the great temple of Jupiter, which contained the colossal gold and ivory statue of the god, the masterpiece of the sculptor Phidias. Hence, by the common law of Greece Elis was deemed a sacred territory, and its cities were unwalled, as they were thought to be sufficiently protected by the sanctity of the country; and it was only when the ancient faith began to give way that the sacred character of Elis was disregarded.
17. The Isles of Greece.–
The Isles of Greece! the Isles of Greece! Where burning Sappho loved and sung–
Where grew the arts of war and peace, Where Delos rose and Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all except their sun is set.
The main-land of Greece was deeply indented by gulfs and almost land-locked bays, and the shores were lined with numerous islands, which were occupied by the Grecian race. Beginning our survey of these in the northern Æge’an, we find, off the coast of Thessaly, the Island of Lemnos, which is fabled as the spot on which the fire-god Vulcan–the Lucifer of heathen mythology–fell, after being hurled down from Olympus. Under a volcano of the island be established his workshop, and there forged the thunder-bolts of Jupiter and the arms of the gods and of godlike heroes.
Of the Grecian islands proper, the largest is Euboe’a, a long and narrow island lying east of Central Greece, from which it is separated by the narrow channel of the Euri’pus, or Euboe’an Sea. South-east of Euboea are the Cyc’la-des, [Footnote: From the Greek word kuklos, a circle.] a large group that kept guard around the sacred Island of Delos, which is said to have risen unexpectedly out of the sea. The Spor’a-des [Footnote: From the Greek word speiro, to sow; scattered, like seed, so numerous were they. Hence our word spore.] were another group, scattered over the sea farther east, toward the coast of Asia Minor. The large islands of Crete and Rhodes were south-east of these groups. In the Saron’ic Gulf, between Attica and Ar’golis, were the islands of Sal’amis and Ægi’na, the former the scene of the great naval conflict between the Greeks on the one side and the Persians, under Xerxes, on the other, and the latter long the maritime rival of Athens.
Cyth’era, now Cer’igo, an island of great importance to the Spartans, was separated by a narrow channel from the southern extremity of Laconia. It was on the coast of this island that the goddess Venus is fabled to have first appeared to mortals as she arose out of the foam of the sea, having a beautifully enameled shell for her chariot, drawn by dolphins, as some paintings represent; but others picture her as borne on a shining seahorse. She was first called Cyth-er-e’a, from the name of the island. The nymphs of ocean, of the land, and the streams, the fishes and monsters of the deep, and the birds of heaven, with rapturous delight greeted her coming, and did homage to the beauty of the Queen of Love. The following fine description of the scene, truly Grecian in spirit, is by a modern poet:
Uprisen from the sea when Cytherea,
Shining in primal beauty, paled the day, The wondering waters hushed, They yearned in sighs That shook the world–tumultuously heaved To a great throne of azure laced with light And canopied in foam to grace their queen. Shrieking for joy came O-ce-an’i-des,
And swift Ner-e’i-des rushed from afar, Or clove the waters by. Came eager-eyed Even shy Na-i’a-des from inland streams, With wild cries headlong darting through the waves; And Dryads from the shore stretched their long arms, While, hoarsely sounding, heard was Triton’s shell; Shoutings uncouth, bewildered sounds,
And innumerable splashing feet
Of monsters gambolling around their god, Forth shining on a sea-horse, fierce and finned. Some bestrode fishes glinting dusky gold, Or angry crimson, or chill silver bright; Others jerked fast on their own scanty tails; And sea-birds, screaming upward either side, Wove a vast arch above the Queen of Love, Who, gazing on this multitudinous
Homaging to her beauty, laughed. She laughed The soft, delicious laughter that makes mad; Low warblings in the throat, that clinch man’s life Tighter than prison bars.
Off the coast of Elis were the two small islands called the Stroph’a-des, noted as the place of habitation of those fabled winged monsters, the Harpies. Here Æne’as landed in his flight from the ruins of Troy, but no pleasant greetings met him there.
“At length I land upon the Strophades, Safe from the dangers of the stormy seas. Those isles are compassed by th’ Ionian main, The dire abode where the foul Harpies reign: Monsters more fierce offended Heaven ne’er sent From hell’s abyss for human punishment. We spread the tables on the greensward ground; We feed with hunger, and the bowls go round; When from the mountain-tops, with hideous cry And clattering wings, the hungry Harpies fly: They snatch the meat, defiling all they find, And, parting, leave a loathsome stench behind.” –VIRGIL’S Æneid, B. III.
North of the Strophades, along the western coast of Greece, were the six Ionian islands known in Grecian history as Paxos, Zacyn’thus, Cephalo’nia, Ith’aca (the native island of Ulysses), Leu’cas (or Leuca’dia), and Corcy’ra (now Corfu), which latter island Homer calls Phæa’cia, and where he places the fabled gardens of Alcin’o-us. It was King Alcinous who kindly entertained Ulysses in his island home when the latter was shipwrecked on his coast. He is highly praised in Grecian legends for his love of agriculture; and his gardens, so beautifully described by Homer, have afforded a favorite theme for poets of succeeding ages. HOMER’S description is as follows:
Close to the gates a spacious garden lies, From storms defended and inclement skies; Four acres was the allotted space of ground, Fenced with a green enclosure all around; Tall thriving trees confessed the fruitful mould, And reddening apples ripen here to gold. Here the blue fig with luscious juice o’erflows; With deeper red the full pomegranate glows; The branch here bends beneath the weighty pear, And verdant olives flourish round the year. The balmy spirit of the western gale
Eternal breathes on fruits untaught to fail; Each dropping pear a following pear supplies; On apples apples, figs on figs arise:
The same mild season gives the blooms to blow, The buds to harden, and the fruits to grow.
Here ordered vines in equal ranks appear, With all the united labors of the year; Some to unload the fertile branches run, Some dry the blackening clusters in the sun, Others to tread the liquid harvest join, The groaning presses foam with floods of wine. Here are the vines in early flower descried, Here grapes discolored on the sunny side, And there in Autumn’s richest purple dyed. Beds of all various herbs, forever green, In beauteous order terminate the scene.
Two plenteous fountains the whole prospect crowned: This through the garden leads its streams around, Visits each plant, and waters all the ground; While that in pipes beneath the palace flows, And thence its current on the town bestows. To various use their various streams they bring; The people one, and one supplies the king. –Odyssey, B. VII. POPE’S Trans.
THE FABULOUS AND LEGENDARY PERIOD OF GRECIAN HISTORY.
I. GRECIAN MYTHOLOGY.
As the Greeks, in common with the Egyptians and other Eastern nations, placed the reign of the gods anterior to the race of mortals, Grecian mythology–which is a system of myths, or fabulous opinions and doctrines respecting the universe and the deities who were supposed to preside over it–forms the most natural and appropriate introduction to Grecian history.
Our principal knowledge of this system is derived from the works of Homer, He’si-od, and other ancient writers, who have gathered the floating legends of which it consists into tales and epic poems, many of them of great power and beauty. Some of these legends are exceedingly natural and pleasing, while others shock and disgust us by the gross impossibilities and hideous deformities which they reveal. Yet these legends are the spontaneous and the earliest growth of the Grecian mind, and were long accepted by the people as serious realities. They are, therefore, to be viewed as exponents of early Grecian philosophy,–of all that the early Greeks believed, and felt, and conjectured, respecting the universe and its government, and respecting the social relations, duties, and destiny of mankind,–and their influence upon national character was great. As a Scotch poet and scholar of our own day well remarks,
Old fables these, and fancies old!
But not with hasty pride
Let logic cold and reason bold
Cast these old dreams aside.
Dreams are not false in all their scope: Oft from the sleepy lair
Start giant shapes of fear and hope That, aptly read, declare
Our deepest nature. God in dreams
Hath spoken to the wise;
And in a people’s mythic themes
A people’s wisdom lies.
–J. STUART BLACKIE.
According to Grecian philosophy, first in the order of time came Cha’os, a heterogeneous mass, containing all the seeds of nature. This was formed by the hand of an unknown god, into “broad-breasted Earth” (the mother of the gods), who produced U’ranus, or Heaven. Then Earth married Uranus, or Heaven; and from this union came a numerous and powerful brood–the Ti’tans, and the Cyclo’pes, and the gods of the wintry season Kot’-tos, Bria’re-us, and Gy’ges, who had each a hundred hands), supposed to be personifications of the hail, the rain, and the snow.
The Titans made war upon their father, Uranus, who was wounded by Chro’nos, or Saturn, the youngest and bravest of his sons. From the drops of blood which flowed from the wound and fell upon the earth sprung the Furies, the Giants, and the Me’lian nymphs; and from those which fell into the sea sprang Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Uranus being dethroned, Saturn was permitted by his brethren to reign, on condition that he would destroy all his male children. But Rhe’a (his wife), unwilling to see her children perish, concealed from him the birth of Zeus’ (or Jupiter), Pos-ei’don (or Neptune), and Pluto.
THE BATTLE OF THE GIANTS.
The Titans, informed that Saturn had saved his children, made war upon him and dethroned him; but he was soon restored by his son Jupiter. Yet Jupiter soon afterward conspired against his father, and after a long war with him and his giant progeny, that lasted full ten years, he drove Saturn from the kingdom, which he held against the repeated assaults of all the gods, who were finally destroyed or imprisoned by his overmastering power. This contest is termed “the Battle of the Giants,” and is very celebrated in Grecian mythology. The description of it which HESIOD has given in his Theogony is considered “one of the most sublime passages in classical poetry, conceived with great boldness, and executed with a power and force which show a masterly though rugged genius. It will bear a favorable comparison with Milton’s ‘Battle of the Angels,’ in Paradise Lost.” We subjoin the following extracts from it:
The immeasurable sea tremendous dashed With roaring, earth resounded, the broad heaven Groaned, shattering; huge Olympus reeled throughout, Down to its rooted base, beneath the rush Of those immortals. The dark chasm of hell Was shaken with the trembling, with the tramp Of hollow footsteps and strong battle-strokes, And measureless uproar of wild pursuit. So they against each other through the air Hurled intermixed their weapons, scattering groans Where’er they fell.
The voice of armies rose
With rallying shout through the starred firmament, And with a mighty war-cry both the hosts Encountering closed. Nor longer then did Jove Curb down his force, but sudden in his soul There grew dilated strength, and it was filled With his omnipotence; his whole of might Broke from him, and the godhead rushed abroad. The vaulted sky, the Mount Olympus, flashed With his continual presence, for he passed Incessant forth, and lightened where he trod.
Thrown from his nervous grasp the lightnings flew, Reiterated swift; the whirling flash,
Cast sacred splendor, and the thunder-bolt Fell. Then on every side the foodful earth Roared in the burning flame, and far and near The trackless depth of forests crashed with fire; Yea, the broad earth burned red, the floods of Nile Glowed, and the desert waters of the sea.
Round and round the Titans’ earthy forms Rolled the hot vapor, and on fiery surge Streamed upward, swathing in one boundless blaze The purer air of heaven. Keen rushed the light In quivering splendor from the writhen flash; Strong though they were, intolerable smote Their orbs of sight, and with bedimming glare Scorched up their blasted vision. Through the gulf Of yawning chaos the supernal flame
Spread, mingling fire with darkness.
The whirlwinds were abroad, and hollow aroused A shaking and a gathering dark of dust, Crushing the thunders from the clouds of air, Hot thunder-bolts and flames, the fiery darts Of Jove; and in the midst of either host They bore upon their blast the cry confused Of battle, and the shouting. For the din Tumultuous of that sight-appalling strife Rose without bound. Stern strength of hardy proof Wreaked there its deeds, till weary sank the war. –Trans. by ELTON.
Thus Jupiter, or Jove, became the head of the universe; and to him is ascribed the creation of the subsequent gods, of man, and of all animal life, and the supreme control and government of all. His supremacy is beautifully sung in the following hymn by the Greek philosopher CLE-AN’THES, said to be the only one of his numerous writings that has been preserved. Like many others of the ancient hymns of adoration, it presents us with high spiritual conceptions of the unity and attributes of Deity; and had it been addressed to Jehovah it would have been deemed a grand tribute to his majesty and a noble specimen of deep devotional feeling.
Hymn to Jupiter.
Most glorious of th’ immortal powers above– O thou of many names–mysterious Jove!
For evermore almighty! Nature’s source, That govern’st all things in their ordered course, All hail to thee! Since, innocent of blame, E’en mortal creatures may address thy name– For all that breathe and creep the lowly earth Echo thy being with reflected birth–
Thee will I sing, thy strength for aye resound! The universe that rolls this globe around Moves wheresoe’er thy plastic influence guides, And, ductile, owns the god whose arm presides.
The lightnings are thy ministers of ire, The double-forked and ever-living fire; In thy unconquerable hand they glow,
And at the flash all nature quakes below. Thus, thunder-armed, thou dost creation draw To one immense, inevitable law;
And with the various mass of breathing souls Thy power is mingled and thy spirit rolls. Dread genius of creation! all things bow To thee! the universal monarch thou!
Nor aught is done without thy wise control On earth, or sea, or round the ethereal pole, Save when the wicked, in their frenzy blind, Act o’er the follies of a senseless mind.
Thou curb’st th’ excess; confusion to thy sight Moves regular; th’ unlovely scene is bright. Thy hand, educing good from evil, brings To one apt harmony the strife of things. One ever-during law still binds the whole, Though shunned, resisted, by the sinner’s soul. Wretches! while still they course the glittering prize, The law of God eludes their ears and eyes. Life then were virtue, did they this obey; But wide from life’s chief good they headlong stray.
Now glory’s arduous toils the breast inflame; Now avarice thirsts, insensible of shame; Now sloth unnerves them in voluptuous ease, And the sweet pleasures of the body please. With eager haste they rush the gulf within, And their whole souls are centred in their sin. But oh, great Jove! by whom all good is given– Dweller with lightnings and the clouds of heaven– Save from their dreadful error lost mankind! Father, disperse these shadows of the mind! Give them thy pure and righteous law to know, Wherewith thy justice governs all below. Thus honored by the knowledge of thy way, Shall men that honor to thyself repay,
And bid thy mighty works in praises ring, As well befits a mortal’s lips to sing; More blest nor men nor heavenly powers can be Than when their songs are of thy law and thee. –Trans, by ELTON.
Jupiter is said to have divided the dominion of the universe between himself and his two brothers, Neptune and Pluto, taking heaven as his own portion, and having his throne and holding his court on Mount Olympus, in Thessaly, while he assigned the dominion of the sea to Neptune, and to Pluto the lower regions–the abodes of the dead. Jupiter had several wives, both goddesses and mortals; but last of all he married his sister Juno, who maintained permanently the dignity of queen of the gods. The offspring of Jupiter were numerous, comprising both celestial and terrestrial divinities. The most noted of the former were Mars, the god of war; Vulcan, the god of fire (the Olympian artist who forged the thunder-bolts of Jupiter and the arms of all the gods); and Apollo, the god of archery, prophecy, music, and medicine.
“Mine is the invention of the charming lyre; Sweet notes, and heavenly numbers I inspire. Med’cine is mine: what herbs and simples grow In fields and forests, all their powers I know, And am the great physician called below.” –Apollo to Daphne, in OVID’S Metam. PRYDEN’S Trans.
Then come Mercury, the winged messenger, interpreter and ambassador of the gods; Diana, queen of the woods and goddess of hunting, and hence the counterpart of her brother Apollo; and finally, Minerva, the goddess of wisdom and skill, who is said to have Sprung full-armed from the brain of Jupiter.
Besides these divinities there were many others–as Ceres, the goddess of grain and harvests; and Vesta, the goddess of home joys and comforts, who presided over the sanctity of the domestic hearth. There were also inferior gods and goddesses innumerable–such as deities of the woods and the mountains, the meadows and the rivers–some terrestrial, others celestial, according to the places over which they were supposed to preside, and rising in importance in proportion to the powers they manifested. Even the Muses, the Fates, and the Graces were numbered among Grecian deities.
But while, undoubtedly, the great mass of the Grecian people believed that their divinities were real persons, who presided over the affairs of men, their philosophers, while encouraging this belief as the best adapted to the understanding of the people, took quite a different view of them, and explained the mythological legends as allegorical representations of general physical and moral truths. Thus, while Jupiter, to the vulgar mind, was the god or the upper regions, “who dwelt on the Summits of the highest mountains, gathered the clouds about him, shook the air with his thunder, and wielded the lightning as the instrument of his wrath,” yet in all this he was but the symbol of the ether or atmosphere which surrounds the earth; and hence, the numerous fables of this monarch of the gods may be considered merely as “allegories which typify the great generative power of the universe, displaying itself in a variety of ways, and under the greatest diversity of forms.” So, also, Apollo was, in all likelihood, originally the sun-god of the Asiatic nations; displaying all the attributes of that luminary; and because fire is “the great agent in reducing and working the metals, Vulcan, the fire-god, naturally became an artist, and is represented as working with hammer and tongs at his anvil. Thus the Greeks, instead of worshipping Nature, worshipped the Powers of Nature, as personified in the almost infinite number of their deities.
The process by which the beings of Grecian mythology came into existence, among an ardent and superstitious people, is beautifully described by the poet WORDSWORTH as very naturally arising out of the
Teeming Fancies of the Greek Mind.
The lively Grecian, in a land of hills, Rivers, and fertile plains, and sounding shores, Under a copse of variegated sky,
Could find commodious place for every god. In that fair clime the lonely herdsman, stretched On the soft grass through half a summer’s day, With music lulled his indolent repose;
And in some fit of weariness, if he, When his own breath was silent, chanced to hear A distant strain, far sweeter than the sounds Which his poor skill could make, his fancy fetch’d Even from the blazing chariot of the sun A beardless youth, who touched a golden lute, And filled the illumined groves with ravishment.
The night hunter, lifting a bright eye Up toward the crescent moon, with grateful heart Called on the lovely wanderer who bestow’d That timely light to share his joyous sport. And hence a beaming goddess, with her nymphs, Across the lawn, and through the darksome grove (Not unaccompanied with tuneful notes,
By echo multiplied from rock or cave), Swept in the storm of chase, as moon and stars Glance rapidly along the clouded heaven When winds are blowing strong. The traveller slacked His thirst from rill or gushing fount, and thank’d The Naiad. Sunbeams, upon distant hills Gliding apace, with shadows in their train, Might, with small help from fancy, be transformed Into fleet Oreads sporting visibly.
The Zephyrs fanning, as they passed, their wings, Lacked not for love fair objects, whom they wooed With gentle whisper. Withered boughs grotesque, Stripped of their leaves and twigs by hoary age, From depth of shaggy covert peeping forth In the low vale, or on steep mountain side– And sometimes intermixed with stirring horns Of the live deer, or goat’s depending beard– These were the lurking Satyrs, a wild brood Of gamesome deities; or Pan himself,
The simple shepherd’s awe-inspiring god.
Similar ideas are expressed in an article on the Nature of Early History, by a celebrated English scholar, [Footnote: Henry George Liddell, D. D., Dean of Christchurch College, Oxford.] who says: “The legends, or mythic fables, of the Greeks are chiefly connected with religious ideas, and may mostly be traced to that sort of awe or wonder with which simple and uneducated minds regard the changes and movements of the natural world. The direct and easy way in which the imagination of such persons accounts for marvelous phenomena, is to refer them to the operation of Persons. When the attention is excited by the regular movements of sun, and moon, and stars, by the alternations of day and night, by the recurrence of the seasons, by the rising and falling of the seas, by the ceaseless flow of rivers, by the gathering of clouds, the rolling of thunder, and the flashing of lightning, by the operations of life in the vegetable and animal worlds–in short, by any exhibition of an active and motive power–it is natural for uninstructed minds to consider such changes and movements as the work of divine Persons. In this manner the early Greek legends associate themselves with personifications of the powers of Nature. All attempts to account for the marvels which surround us are foregone; everything is referred to the immediate operation of a god. ‘Cloud-compelling Zeus’ is the author of the phenomenon of the air; ‘Earth-shaking Pos-ei’don,’ of all that happens in the water under the earth; Nymphs are attached to every spring or tree; De-me’ter, or Mother Earth, for six months rejoices in the presence of Proserpine, [Footnote: In some legends Proserpine is regarded as the daughter of Mother Earth, or Ceres, and a personification of the growing corn.] the green herb, her daughter, and for six months regrets her absence in dark abodes beneath the earth.
“This tendency to deify the powers of Nature is due partly to a clear atmosphere and sunny climate, which incline a people to live much in the open air in close communion with all that Nature offers to charm the senses and excite the imagination; partly to the character of the people, and partly to the poets who in early times wrought these legendary tales into works which are read with increased delight in ages when science and method have banished the simple faith which procured acceptance for these legends.
“Among the Greeks all these conditions were found existing. They lived, so to say, out-of-doors; their powers of observation were extremely quick, and their imagination singularly vivid; and their ancient poems are the most noble specimens of the old legendary tales that have been preserved in any country.”
This tendency of the Grecian mind is also very happily set forth in the following lines by PROFESSOR BLACKIE:
The old Greek men, the old Greek men– No blinking fools were they,
But with a free and broad-eyed ken Looked forth on glorious day.
They looked on the sun in their cloudless sky, And they saw that his light was fair;
And they said that the round, full-beaming eye Of a blazing GOD was there!
They looked on the vast spread Earth, and saw The various fashioned forms, with awe
Of green and creeping life,
And said, “In every moving form,
With buoyant breath and pulses warm, In flowery crowns and veined leaves,
A GODDESS dwells, whose bosom heaves With organizing strife.”
They looked and saw the billowy sea, With its boundless rush of water’s free, Belting the firm earth, far and wide,
With the flow of its deep, untainted tide; And wondering viewed, in its clear blue flood, A quick and scaly-glancing brood,
Sporting innumerous in the deep
With dart, and plunge, and airy leap; And said, “Full sure a GOD doth reign
King of this watery, wide domain,
And rides in a car of cerulean hue O’er bounding billows of green and blue; And in one hand a three-pronged spear
He holds, the sceptre of his fear, And with the other shakes the reins
Of his steeds, with foamy, flowing manes, And coures o’er the brine;
And when he lifts his trident mace, Broad Ocean crisps his darkling face,
And mutters wrath divine;
The big waves rush with hissing crest, And beat the shore with ample breast,
And shake the toppling cliff:
A wrathful god has roused the wave– Vain is all pilot’s skill to save,
And lo! a deep, black-throated grave Ingulfs the reeling skiff.”
Anon the flood less fiercely flows, The rifted cloud blue ether shows,
The windy buffets cease;
Poseidon chafes his heart no more, His voice constrains the billows’ roar, And men may sail in peace.
[Footnote: Pos-ei’don, another name for Neptune, the sea-god.]
In the old oak a Dryad dwelt;
The fingers of a nymph were felt
In the fine-rippled flood;
At drowsy noon, when all was still, Faunus lay sleeping on the hill,
And strange and bright-eyed gamesome creatures, With hairy limbs and goat-like features, Peered from the prickly wood.
[Footnote: The Sa’tyrs.]
Thus every power that zones the sphere With forms of beauty and of fear,
In starry sky, on grassy ground,
And in the fishy brine profound,
Were, to the hoar Pelasgic men
That peopled erst each Grecian glen, GODS–or the actions of a god:
Gods were in every sight and sound And every spot was hallowed ground
Where these far-wandering patriarchs trod.
But all this fairy world has passed away, to live only as shadows in the realms of fancy and of song. SCHILLER gives expression to the poet’s lament in the following lines:
Art thou, fair world, no more?
Return, thou virgin-bloom on Nature’s face! Ah, only on the minstrel’s magic shore
Can we the footsteps of sweet Fable trace! The meadows mourn for the old hallowing life; Vainly we search the earth, of gods bereft; Where once the warm and living shapes were rife Shadows alone are left.
The Latin poet OV’ID, who lived at the time of the Christian era, has collected from the fictions of the early Greeks and Oriental nations, and woven into one continuous history, the pagan accounts of the Creation, embracing a description of the primeval world, and the early changes it underwent, followed by a history of the four eras or ages of primitive mankind, the deluge of Deuca’lion, and then onward down to the time of Augustus Cæsar. This great work of the pagan poet, called The Metamorphoses, is not only the most curious and valuable record extant of ancient mythology, but some have thought they discovered, in every story it contains, a moral allegory; while others have attempted to trace in it the whole history of the Old Testament, and types of the miracles and sufferings of our Savior. But, however little of truth there may be in the last of these suppositions, the beautiful and impressive account of the Creation given by this poet, of the Four Ages of man’s history which followed, and of the Deluge, coincides in so many remarkable respects with the Bible narrative, and with geological and other records, that we give it here as a specimen of Grecian fable that contains some traces of true history. The translation is by Dryden:
Account of the Creation.
Before the seas, and this terrestrial ball, And heaven’s high canopy, that covers all, One was the face of Nature–if a face– Rather, a rude and indigested mass;
A lifeless lump, unfashioned and unframed, Of jarring elements, and CHAOS named.
No sun was lighted up the world to view, Nor moon did yet her blunted horns renew, Nor yet was earth suspended in the sky, Nor, poised, did on her own foundations lie, Nor seas about the shores their arms had thrown; But earth, and air, and water were in one. Thus air was void of light, and earth unstable, And water’s dark abyss unnavigable.
No certain form on any was impressed; All were confused, and each disturbed the rest.
Thus disembroiled they take their proper place; The next of kin contiguously embrace,
And foes are sundered by a larger space. The force of fire ascended first on high, And took its dwelling in the vaulted sky; Then air succeeds, in lightness next to fire, Whose atoms from inactive earth retire; Earth sinks beneath and draws a numerous throng Of ponderous, thick, unwieldy seeds along. About her coasts unruly waters roar,
And, rising on a ridge, insult the shore. Thus when the god–whatever god was he– Had formed the whole, and made the parts agree, That no unequal portions might be found, He moulded earth into a spacious round; Then, with a breath, he gave the winds to blow, And bade the congregated waters flow.
He adds the running springs and standing lakes, And bounding banks for winding rivers makes. Some parts in earth are swallowed up; the most, In ample oceans disembogued, are lost.
He shades the woods, the valleys he restrains With rocky mountains, and extends the plains.
Then, every void of nature to supply, With forms of gods Jove fills the vacant sky; New herds of beasts sends the plains to share; New colonies of birds to people air;
And to their cozy beds the finny fish repair. A creature of a more exalted kind
Was wanting yet, and then was Man designed; Conscious of thought, of more capacious breast, For empire formed and fit to rule the rest; Whether with particles of heavenly fire The God of nature did his soul inspire, Or earth, but new divided from the sky, And pliant, still retained the ethereal energy. Thus while the mute creation downward bend Their sight, and to their earthly mother tend, Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes
Beholds his own hereditary skies.
FOUR AGES OF MAN.
The poet now describes the Ages, or various epochs in the civilization of the human race. The first is the Golden Age, a period of patriarchal simplicity, when Earth yielded her fruits spontaneously, and spring was eternal.
The GOLDEN AGE was first, when man, yet new, No rule but uncorrupted reason knew,
And, with a native bent, did good pursue. Unforced by punishment, unawed by fear. His words were simple and his soul sincere; Needless were written laws where none oppressed; The law of man was written on his breast. No suppliant crowds before the judge appeared, No court erected yet, nor cause was heard, But all was safe, for conscience was their guard.
No walls were yet, nor fence, nor moat, nor mound; Nor drum was heard, nor trumpet’s angry sound; Nor swords were forged; but, void of care and crime, The soft creation slept away their time. The teeming earth, yet guiltless of the plough, And unprovoked, did fruitful stores allow; The flowers, unsown, in fields and meadows reigned, And western winds immortal spring maintained.
The next; or the Silver Age, was marked by the change of seasons, and the division and cultivation of lands.
Succeeding times a SILVER AGE behold, Excelling brass, but more excelled by gold. Then summer, autumn, winter did appear, And spring was but a season of the year; The sun his annual course obliquely made, Good days contracted, and enlarged the bad. Then air with sultry heats began to glow, The wings of wind were clogged with ice and snow; And shivering mortals, into houses driven, Sought shelter from the inclemency of heaven. Those houses then were caves or homely sheds, With twining osiers fenced, and moss their beds. Then ploughs for seed the fruitful furrows broke, And oxen labored first beneath the yoke.
Then followed the Brazen Age, which was an epoch of war and violence.
To this came next in course the BRAZEN AGE; A warlike offspring, prompt to bloody rage, Not impious yet.
According to He’siod, the next age is the Heroic, in which the world began to aspire toward better things; but OVID omits this altogether, and gives, as the fourth and last, the Iron Age, also called the Plutonian Age, full of all sorts of hardships and wickedness. His description of it is as follows:
Hard steel succeeded then,
And stubborn as the metal were the men. Truth, Modesty, and Shame the world forsook; Fraud, Avarice, and Force their places took. Then sails were spread to every wind that blew; Raw were the sailors, and the depths were new: Trees rudely hollowed did the waves sustain, Ere ships in triumph plough’d the watery plain. Then landmarks limited to each his right; For all before was common as the light. Nor was the ground alone required to bear Her annual income to the crooked share; But greedy mortals, rummaging her store, Digged from her entrails first the precious ore; (Which next to hell the prudent gods had laid), And that alluring ill to sight displayed: Thus cursed steel, and more accursed gold, Gave mischief birth, and made that mischief bold; And double death did wretched man invade, By steel assaulted, and by gold betrayed.