Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book V. by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Part 3 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book V. pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

[216] It was about five years after the death of Cimon that Pericles
obtained that supreme power which resembled a tyranny, but was only
the expression and concentration of the democratic will.

[217] Theophrast. ap. Plut. in vit. Per.

[218] Justin, lib. iii., c. 6.

[219] For the transfer itself there were excuses yet more plausible
than that assigned by Justin. First, in the year following the breach
between the Spartans and Athenians (B. C. 460), probably the same year
in which the transfer was effected, the Athenians were again at war
with the great king in Egypt; and there was therefore a show of
justice in the argument noticed by Boeckh (though in the source whence
he derives it the argument applies to the earlier time of Aristides),
that the transfer provided a place of greater security against the
barbarians. Secondly, Delos itself was already and had long been
under Athenian influence. Pisistratus had made a purification of the
island [Herod., lib. i., c. 64], Delian soothsayers had predicted to
Athens the sovereignty of the seas [Semius Delius, ap. Athen., viii.],
and the Athenians seem to have arrogated a right of interference with
the temple. The transfer was probably, therefore, in appearance,
little more than a transfer from a place under the power of Athens to
Athens itself. Thirdly, it seems that when the question was first
agitated, during the life of Aristides, it was at the desire of one of
the allies themselves (the Samians). [Plut. in vit. Aristid. Boeckh
(vol. i., 135, translation) has no warrant for supposing that Pericles
influenced the Samians in the expression of this wish, because
Plutarch refers the story to the time of Aristides, during whose life
Pericles possessed no influence in public affairs.]

[220] The assertion of Diodorus (lib. xii., 38), that to Pericles was
confided the superintendence and management of the treasure, is
corroborated by the anecdotes in Plutarch and elsewhere, which
represent Pericles as the principal administrator of the funds.

[221] The political nature and bias of the Heliaea is apparent in the
very oath, preserved in Demost. con. Tim., p. 746, ed. Reiske. In
this the heliast is sworn never to vote for the establishment of
tyranny or oligarchy in Athens, and never to listen to any proposition
tending to destroy the democratic constitution. That is, a man
entered upon a judicial tribunal by taking a political oath!

[222] These courts have been likened to modern juries; but they were
very little bound by the forms and precedents which shackled the
latter. What a jury, even nowadays, a jury of only twelve persons,
would be if left entirely to impulse and party feeling, any lawyer
will readily conceive. How much more capricious, uncertain, and
prejudiced a jury of five hundred, and, in some instances, of one
thousand or fifteen hundred! [By the junction of two or more
divisions, as in cases of Eisangelia. Poll. viii., 53 and 123; also

[223] "Designed by our ancestors," says Aristotle (Pol., lib. viii,
c. 3) not, as many now consider it, merely for delight, but for
discipline that so the mind might be taught not only how honourably to
pursue business, but how creditably to enjoy leisure; for such
enjoyment is, after all, the end of business and the boundary of
active life.

[224] See Aristot. (Pol., lib. viii., c. 6.)

[225] An anecdote in Gellius, lib. xv., c. 17, refers the date of the
disuse of this instrument to the age of Pericles and during the
boyhood of Alcibiades.

[226] Drawing was subsequently studied as a branch of education
essential to many of the common occupations of life.

[227] Suid.

[228] Hecataeus was also of Miletus.

[229] Pausan., ii., c. 3: Cic. de Orat., ii., c. 53; Aulus Gellius,
xv., c. 23.

[230] Fast. Hell., vol. i.

[231] A brilliant writer in the Edinburgh Review (Mr. Macauley) would
account for the use of dialogue in Herodotus by the childish
simplicity common to an early and artless age--as the boor always
unconsciously resorts to the dramatic form of narration, and relates
his story by a series of "says he's" and "says I's." But does not Mr.
Macauley, in common with many others, insist far too much on the
artlessness of the age and the unstudied simplicity of the writer?
Though history itself was young, art was already at its zenith. It
was the age of Sophocles, Phidias, and Pericles. It was from the
Athenians, in their most polished period, that Herodotus received the
most rapturous applause. Do not all accounts of Herodotus, as a
writer, assure us that he spent the greater part of a long life in
composing, polishing, and perfecting his history; and is it not more
in conformity with the characteristic spirit of the times, and the
masterly effects which Herodotus produces, to conclude, that what we
suppose to be artlessness was, in reality, the premeditated
elaboration of art?

[232] Esther iii., 12; viii., 9: Ezra vi., 1.

[233] Herod., vii., 100.

[234] About twenty-nine years younger.--Fast. Hell., vol. ii., p. 7.

[235] Cic. Acad. Quaest., 4, Abbe de Canaye, Mem. de l'Acad.
d'l* *crip., tom. x. etc. (*illegible letters)

[236] Diog. Laert., cap. 6._ Cic. Acad. Quaest. 4, etc.

[237] Arist. Metap. Diog. Laert. Cic. Quaest. 4. etc.

[238] It must ever remain a disputable matter how far the Ionian
Pythagoras was influenced by affection for Dorian policy and customs,
and how far he designed to create a state upon the old Dorian model.
On the one hand, it is certain that he paid especial attention to the
rites and institutions most connected with the Dorian deity, Apollo--
that, according to his followers, it was from that god that he derived
his birth, a fiction that might be interpreted into a Dorian origin;
he selected Croton as his residence, because it was under the
protection of "his household god;" his doctrines are said to have been
delivered in the Dorian dialect; and much of his educational
discipline, much of his political system, bear an evident affinity to
the old Cretan and Spartan institutions. But, on the other hand, it
is probable, that Pythagoras favoured the god of Delphi, partly from
the close connexion which many of his symbols bore to the metaphysical
speculations the philosopher had learned to cultivate in the schools
of oriental mysticism, and partly from the fact that Apollo was the
patron of the medical art, in which Pythagoras was an eminent
professor. And in studying the institutions of Crete and Sparta, he
might rather have designed to strengthen by examples the system he had
already adopted, than have taken from those Dorian cities the
primitive and guiding notions of the constitution he afterward
established. And in this Pythagoras might have resembled most
reformers, not only of his own, but of all ages, who desire to go back
to the earliest principles of the past as the sources of experience to
the future. In the Dorian institutions was preserved the original
character of the Hellenic nation; and Pythagoras, perhaps, valued or
consulted them less because they were Dorian than because they were
ancient. It seems, however, pretty clear, that in the character of
his laws he sought to conform to the spirit and mode of legislation
already familiar in Italy, since Charondas and Zaleucus, who
flourished before him, are ranked by Diodorus and others among his

[239] Livy dates it in the reign of Servius Tullus.

[240] Strabo.

[241] Iamblichus, c. viii., ix. See also Plato de Repub., lib. x.

[242] That the Achaean governments were democracies appears
sufficiently evident; nor is this at variance with the remark of
Xenophon, that timocracies were "according to the laws of the
Achaeans;" since timocracies were but modified democracies.

[243] The Pythagoreans assembled at the house of Milo, the wrestler,
who was an eminent general, and the most illustrious of the disciples
were stoned to death, the house being fired. Lapidation was
essentially the capital punishment of mobs--the mode of inflicting
death that invariably stamps the offender as an enemy to the populace.

[244] Arist. Metaph., i., 3.

[245] Diog. Laert., viii., 28.

[246] Plut. in vit. Them. The Sophists were not, therefore, as is
commonly asserted, the first who brought philosophy to bear upon

[247] See, for evidence of the great gifts and real philosophy of
Anaxagoras, Brucker de Sect. Ion., xix.

[248] Arist. Eth. Eu., i., 5.

[249] Archelaus began to teach during the interval between the first
and second visit of Anaxagoras. See Fast. Hell., vol. ii., B. C. 450.

[250] See the evidence of this in the Clouds of Aristophanes.

[251] Plut. in vit. Per.

[252] See Thucyd., lib. v., c. 18, in which the articles of peace
state that the temple and fane of Delphi should be independent, and
that the citizens should settle their own taxes, receive their own
revenues, and manage their own affairs as a sovereign nation
(autoteleis kai autodikois [consult on these words Arnold's
Thucydides, vol. ii., p. 256, note 4]), according to the ancient laws
of their country.

[253] Mueller's Dorians, vol. ii., p. 422. Athen., iv.

[254] A short change of administration, perhaps, accompanied the
defeat of Pericles in the debate on the Boeotian expedition. He was
evidently in power, since he had managed the public funds during the
opposition of Thucydides; but when beaten, as we should say, "on the
Boeotian question," the victorious party probably came into office.

[255] An ambush, according to Diodorus, lib. xii.

[256] Twenty talents, according to the scholiast of Aristophanes.
Suidas states the amount variously at fifteen and fifty.

[257] Who fled into Macedonia.--Theopomp. ap. Strab. The number of
Athenian colonists was one thousand, according to Diodorus--two
thousand, according to Theopompus.

[258] Aristoph. Nub., 213.

[259] Thucyd., i., 111.

[260] 1bid., i., 115.

[261] As is evident, among other proofs, from the story before
narrated, of his passing his accounts to the Athenians with the item
of ten talents employed as secret service money.

[262] The Propylaea alone (not then built) cost two thousand and
twelve talents (Harpocrat. in propylaia tauta), and some temples cost
a thousand talents each. [Plut. in vit. Per.] If the speech of
Pericles referred to such works as these, the offer to transfer the
account to his own charge was indeed but a figure of eloquence. But,
possibly, the accusation to which this offer was intended as a reply
was applicable only to some individual edifice or some of the minor
works, the cost of which his fortune might have defrayed. We can
scarcely indeed suppose, that if the affected generosity were but a
bombastic flourish, it could have excited any feeling but laughter
among an audience so acute.

[263] The testimony of Thucydides (lib. ii., c. 5) alone suffices to
destroy all the ridiculous imputations against the honesty of Pericles
which arose from the malice of contemporaries, and are yet perpetuated
only by such writers as cannot weigh authorities. Thucydides does not
only call him incorrupt, but "clearly or notoriously honest."
[Chraematon te diaphanos adorotatos.] Plutarch and Isocrates serve to
corroborate this testimony.

[264] Plut. in vit. Per.

[265] Thucyd., lib. ii., c. 65.

[266] "The model of this regulation, by which Athens obtained the
most extensive influence, and an almost absolute dominion over the
allies, was possibly found in other Grecian states which had subject
confederates, such as Thebes, Elis, and Argos. But on account of the
remoteness of many countries, it is impossible that every trifle could
have been brought before the court at Athens; we must therefore
suppose that each subject state had an inferior jurisdiction of its
own, and that the supreme jurisdiction alone belonged to Athens. Can
it, indeed, be supposed that persons would have travelled from Rhodes
or Byzantium, for the sake of a lawsuit of fifty or a hundred
drachmas? In private suits a sum of money was probably fixed, above
which the inferior court of the allies had no jurisdiction, while
cases relating to higher sums were referred to Athens. There can be
no doubt that public and penal causes were to a great extent decided
in Athens, and the few definite statements which are extant refer to
lawsuits of this nature."--Boeckh, Pol. Econ. of Athens, vol. ii., p.
142, 143, translation.

[267] In calculating the amount of the treasure when transferred to
Athens, Boeckh (Pol. Econ. of Athens, vol. i., p. 193, translation) is
greatly misled by an error of dates. He assumes that the fund had
only existed ten years when brought to Athens: whereas it had existed
about seventeen, viz., from B. C. 477 to B. C. 461, or rather B. C.
460. And this would give about the amount affirmed by Diodorus, xii.,
p. 38 (viz., nearly 8000 talents), though he afterward raises it to
10,000. But a large portion of it must have been consumed in war
before the transfer. Still Boeckh rates the total of the sum
transferred far too low, when he says it cannot have exceeded 1800
talents. It more probably doubled that sum.

[268] Such as Euboea, see p. 212.

[269] Vesp. Aristoph. 795.

[270] Knight's Prolegomena to Homer; see also Boeckh (translation),
vol. i., p. 25.

[271] Viz., B. C. 424; Ol. 89.

[272] Thucyd., iv., 57.

[273] See Chandler's Inscript.

[274] In the time of Alcibiades the tribute was raised to one
thousand three hundred talents, and even this must have been most
unequally assessed, if it were really the pecuniary hardship the
allies insisted upon and complained of. But the resistance made to
imposts upon matters of feeling or principle in our own country, as,
at this day, in the case of church-rates, may show the real nature of
the grievance. It was not the amount paid, but partly the degradation
of paying it, and partly, perhaps, resentment in many places at some
unfair assessment. Discontent exaggerates every burden, and a feather
is as heavy as a mountain when laid on unwilling shoulders. When the
new arrangement was made by Alcibiades or the later demagogues,
Andocides asserts that some of the allies left their native countries
and emigrated to Thurii. But how many Englishmen have emigrated to
America from objections to a peculiar law or a peculiar impost, which
state policy still vindicates, or state necessity still maintains!
The Irish Catholic peasant, in reality, would not, perhaps, be much
better off, in a pecuniary point of view, if the tithes were
transferred to the rental of the landlord, yet Irish Catholics have
emigrated in hundreds from the oppression, real or imaginary, of
Protestant tithe-owners. Whether in ancient times or modern, it is
not the amount of taxation that makes the grievance. People will pay
a pound for what they like, and grudge a farthing for what they hate.
I have myself known men quit England because of the stamp duty on

[275] Thucyd., lib. i., c. 75; Bloomfield's translation.

[276] A sentiment thus implied by the Athenian ambassadors: "We are
not the first who began the custom which has ever been an established
one, that the weaker should be kept under by the stronger." The
Athenians had, however, an excuse more powerful than that of the
ancient Rob Roys. It was the general opinion of the time that the
revolt of dependant allies might be fairly punished by one that could
punish them--(so the Corinthians take care to observe). And it does
not appear that the Athenian empire at this period was more harsh than
that of other states to their dependants. The Athenian ambassadors
(Thucyd., i., 78) not only quote the far more galling oppressions the
Ionians and the isles had undergone from the Mede, but hint that the
Spartans had been found much harder masters than the Athenians.

[277] Only twelve drachma each yearly: the total, therefore, is
calculated by the inestimable learning of Boeckh not to have exceeded
twenty-one talents.

[278] Total estimated at thirty-three talents.

[279] The state itself contributed largely to the plays, and the
lessee of the theatre was also bound to provide for several expenses,
in consideration of which he received the entrance money.

[280] On the authority of Pseud. Arist. Oecon., 2-4.

[281] In the expedition against Sicily the state supplied the vessel
and paid the crew. The trierarchs equipped the ship and gave
voluntary contributions besides.--Thucyd., vi., 31.

[282] Liturgies, with most of the Athenian laws that seemed to harass
the rich personally, enhanced their station and authority politically.
It is clear that wherever wealth is made most obviously available to
the state, there it will be most universally respected. Thus is it
ever in commercial countries. In Carthage of old, where, according to
Aristotle, wealth was considered virtue, and in England at this day,
where wealth, if not virtue, is certainly respectability,

[283] And so well aware of the uncertain and artificial tenure of the
Athenian power were the Greek statesmen, that we find it among the
arguments with which the Corinthian some time after supported the
Peloponnesian war, "that the Athenians, if they lost one sea-fight,
would be utterly subdued;"--nor, even without such a mischance, could
the flames of a war be kindled, but what the obvious expedient
[Thucyd., lib. i., c. 121. As the Corinthians indeed suggested,
Thucyd., lib. i., c. 122] of the enemy would be to excite the Athenian
allies to revolt, and the stoppage or diminution of the tribute would
be the necessary consequence.

[284] If the courts of law among the allies were not removed to
Athens till after the truce with Peloponnesus, and indeed till after
the ostracism of Thucydides, the rival of Pericles, the value of the
judicial fees did not, of course, make one of the considerations for
peace; but there would then have been the mightier consideration of
the design of that transfer which peace only could effect.

[285] Plut. in vit. Per.

[286] "As a vain woman decked out with jewels," was the sarcastic
reproach of the allies.--Plut. in vit. Per.

[287] The Propylaea was built under the direction of Mnesicles. It
was begun 437 B. C., in the archonship of Euthymenes, three years
after the Samian war, and completed in five years. Harpocrat. in
propylaia tauta.

[288] Plut. in vit. Per.

[289] See Arnold's Thucydides, ii., 13, note 12.

[290] "Their bodies, too, they employ for the state as if they were
any one's else but their own; but with minds completely their own,
they are ever ready to render it service."--Thucyd., i., 70,
Bloomfield's translation.

[291] With us, Juries as well as judges are paid, and, in ordinary
cases, at as low a rate as the Athenian dicasts (the different value
of money being considered), viz., common jurymen one shilling for each
trial, and, in the sheriffs' court, fourpence. What was so pernicious
in Athens is perfectly harmless in England; it was the large member of
the dicasts which made the mischief, and not the system of payment
itself, as unreflecting writers have so often asserted.

[292] See Book IV., Chapter V. VII. of this volume.

[293] At first the payment of the dicasts was one obolus.--(Aristoph.
Nubes, 861.) Afterward, under Cleon, it seems to have been increased
to three; it is doubtful whether it was in the interval ever two
obols. Constant mistakes are made between the pay, and even the
constitution, of the ecclesiasts and the dicasts. But the reader must
carefully remember that the former were the popular legislators, the
latter, the popular judges or jurors--their functions were a mixture
of both.

[294] Misthos ekklaesiastikos--the pay of the ecclesiasts, or popular

[295] We know not how far the paying of the ecclesiasts was the work
of Pericles: if it were, it must have been at, or after, the time we
now enter upon, as, according to Aristophanes (Eccles., 302), the
people were not paid during the power of Myronides, who flourished,
and must have fallen with Thucydides, the defeated rival of Pericles.

[296] The Athenians could extend their munificence even to
foreigners, as their splendid gift, said to have been conferred on
Herodotus, and the sum of ten thousand drachmas, which Isocrates
declares them to have bestowed on Pindar. [Isoc. de Antidosi.]

[297] The pay of the dicast and the ecclesiast was, as we have just
seen, first one, then three obols; and the money paid to the infirm
was never less than one, nor more than two obols a day. The common
sailors, in time of peace, received four obols a day. Neither an
ecclesiast nor a dicast was, therefore, paid so much as a common

[298] Such as the Panathenaea and Hieromeniae.

[299] From klaeroi, lots. The estates and settlements of a cleruchia
were divided among a certain number of citizens by lot.

[300] The state only provided the settlers with arms, and defrayed
the expenses of their journey. See Boeckh, Pol. Econ. of Athens, vol.
ii., p. 170 (translation).

[301] Andoc. Orat. de Pace.

[302] These institutions differed, therefore, from colonies
principally in this: the mother country retained a firm hold over the
cleruchi--could recall them or reclaim their possessions, as a penalty
of revolt: the cleruchi retained all the rights, and were subject to
most of the conditions, of citizens. [Except, for instance, the
liturgies.] Lands were given without the necessity of quitting
Athens--departure thence was voluntary, although it was the ordinary
choice. But whether the cleruchi remained at home or repaired to
their settlement, they were equally attached to Athenian interests.
From their small number, and the enforced and unpopular nature of
their tenure, their property, unlike that of ordinary colonists,
depended on the power and safety of the parent state: they were not so
much transplanted shoots as extended branches of one tree, taking
their very life from the same stem. In modern times, Ireland suggests
a parallel to the old cleruchiae--in the gift of lands to English
adventurers--in the long and intimate connexion which subsisted
between the manners, habits, and political feeling of the English
settlers and the parent state--in the separation between the settlers
and the natives; and in the temporary power and subsequent feebleness
which resulted to the home government from the adoption of a system
which garrisoned the land, but exasperated the inhabitants.

[303] Nor were even these composed solely of Athenians, but of mixed
and various races. The colony to Amphipolis (B. C. 465) is the first
recorded colony of the Athenians after the great Ionic migrations.

[304] In the year in which the colony of Thurium or Thurii was
founded, the age of Lysias was fifteen, that of Herodotus forty-one.

[305] Plut. in vit. Per. Schol. Aristoph. Av., 521.

[306] Viz., Callias, Lysippus, and Cratinus. See Athenaeus, lib.
viii., p. 344. The worthy man seems to have had the amiable
infirmities of a bon vivant.

[307] Plut. in vit. Them.

[308] Historians, following the received text in Plutarch, have
retailed the incredible story that the rejected claimants were sold
for slaves; but when we consider the extraordinary agitation it must
have caused to carry such a sentence against so many persons,
amounting to a fourth part of the free population--when we remember
the numerous connexions, extending throughout at least four times
their own number, which five thousand persons living long undisturbed
and unsuspected as free citizens must have formed, it is impossible to
conceive that such rigour could even have been attempted without
creating revolution, sedition, or formidable resistance. Yet this
measure, most important if attended with such results--most miraculous
if not--is passed over in total silence by Thucydides and by every
other competent authority. A luminous emendation by Mr. Clinton
(Fast. Hell., vol. ii., second edition, p. 52 and 390, note p)
restores the proper meaning. Instead of heprataesan, he proposes
apaelathaesan--the authorities from Lysias quoted by Mr. Clinton (p.
390) seem to decide the matter. "These five thousand disfranchised
citizens, in B. C. 544, partly supplied the colony to Thurium in the
following year, and partly contributed to augment the number of the

[309] Fourteen thousand two hundred and forty, according to
Philochorus. By the term "free citizens" is to be understood those
male Athenians above twenty--that is, those entitled to vote in the
public assembly. According to Mr. Clinton's computation, the women
and children being added, the fourteen thousand two hundred and forty
will amount to about fifty-eight thousand six hundred and forty, as
the total of the free population.

[310] Thucyd., i., c. 40.

[311] See the speech of the Corinthians.--Thucyd., lib. i., 70.

[312] Who was this Thucydides? The rival of Pericles had been exiled
less than ten years before [in fact, about four years ago; viz., B. C.
444]; and it is difficult to suppose that he could have been recalled
before the expiration of he sentence, and appointed to command, at the
very period when the power and influence of Pericles were at their
height. Thucydides, the historian, was about thirty-one, an age at
which so high a command would scarcely, at that period, have been
bestowed upon any citizen, even in Athens, where men mixed in public
affairs earlier than in other Hellenic states [Thucydides himself
(lib. v., 43) speaks of Alcibiades as a mere youth (at least one who
would have been so considered in any other state), at a time when he
could not have been much less, and was probably rather more than
thirty]; besides, had Thucydides been present, would he have given us
no more ample details of an event so important? There were several
who bore this name. The scholiast on Aristophanes (Acharn., v., 703)
says there were four, whom he distinguishes thus--1st, the historian;
2d, the Gargettian; 3d, the Thessalian; 4th, the son of Melesias. The
scholiast on the Vespae (v., 991) enumerates the same, and calls them
all Athenians. The son of Melesias is usually supposed the opponent
of Pericles--he is so called by Androtion. Theopompus, however, says
that it was the son of Pantanus. Marcellinus (in vit. Thucyd., p.
xi.) speaks of many of the name, and also selects four for special
notice. 1st, the historian; 2d, the son of Melesias; 3d, a
Pharsalian; 4th, a poet of the ward of Acherdus, mentioned by
Androtion, and called the son of Ariston. Two of this name, the
historian and the son of Melesias, are well known to us; but, for the
reasons I have mentioned, it is more probable that one of the others
was general in the Samian war. A third Thucydides (the Thessalian or
Pharsalian) is mentioned by the historian himself (viii., 92). I take
the Gargettian (perhaps the son of Pantanus named by Theopompus) to
have been the commander in the expedition.

[313] Plut. in vit. Per.

[314] Alexis ap. Ath., lib. xiii.

[315] At this period the Athenians made war with a forbearance not
common in later ages. When Timotheus besieged Samos, he maintained
his armament solely on the hostile country, while a siege of nine
months cost Athens so considerable a sum.

[316] Plut. in vit. Per.

The contribution levied on the Samians was two hundred talents,
proportioned, according to Diodorus, to the full cost of the
expedition. But as Boeckh (Pol. Econ. of Athens, vol. i., p. 386,
trans.) well observes, "This was a very lenient reckoning; a nine
months' siege by land and sea, in which one hundred and ninety-nine
triremes [Boeckh states the number of triremes at one hundred and
ninety-nine, but, in fact, there were two hundred and fifteen vessels
employed, since we ought not to omit the sixteen stationed on the
Carian coast, or despatched to Lesbos and Chios for supplies] were
employed, or, at any rate, a large part of this number, for a
considerable time, must evidently have caused a greater expense, and
the statement, therefore, of Isocrates and Nepos, that twelve hundred
talents were expended on it, appears to be by no means exaggerated."

[317] It was on Byzantium that they depended for the corn they
imported from the shores of the Euxine.

[318] The practice of funeral orations was probably of very ancient
origin among the Greeks: but the law which ordained them at Athens is
referred by the scholiast on Thucydides (lib. ii., 35) to Solon; while
Diodorus, on the other hand, informs us it was not passed till after
the battle of Plataea. It appears most probable that it was a usage
of the heroic times, which became obsolete while the little feuds
among the Greek states remained trivial and unimportant; but, after
the Persian invasion, it was solemnly revived, from the magnitude of
the wars which Greece had undergone, and the dignity and holiness of
the cause in which the defenders of their country had fallen.

[319] Ouk an muraisi graus eous aegeitheo.

This seems the only natural interpretation of the line, in which, from
not having the context, we lose whatever wit the sentence may have
possessed--and witty we must suppose it was, since Plutarch evidently
thinks it a capital joke. In corroboration of this interpretation of
an allusion which has a little perplexed the commentators, we may
observe, that ten years before, Pericles had judged a sarcasm upon the
age of Elpinice the best way to silence her importunities. The
anecdote is twice told by Plutarch, in vit. Cim., c. 14, and in vit.
Per., c. 10.

[320] Aristot., Poet. iv.

[321] "As he was removed from Cos in infancy, the name of his adopted
country prevailed over that of the country of his birth, and
Epicharmus is called of Syracuse, though born at Cos, as Apollonius is
called the Rhodian, though born at Alexandria."--Fast. Hell., vol.
ii., introduction.

[322] Moliere.

[323] Laertius, viii. For it is evident that Epicharmus the
philosopher was no other than Epicharmus the philosophical poet--the
delight of Plato, who was himself half a Pythagorean.--See Bentley,
Diss. Phal., p. 201; Laertius, viii., 78; Fynes Clinton, Fast. Hell.,
vol. ii., introduction, p. 36 (note g).

[324] A few of his plays were apparently not mythological, but they
were only exceptions from the general rule, and might have been
written after the less refining comedies of Magnes at Athens.

[325] A love of false antithesis.

[326] In Syracuse, however, the republic existed when Epicharmus
first exhibited his comedies. His genius was therefore formed by a
republic, though afterward fostered by a tyranny.

[327] For Crates acted in the plays of Cratinus before he turned
author. (See above.) Now the first play of Crates dates two years
before the first recorded play (the Archilochi) of Cratinus;
consequently Cratinus must have been celebrated long previous to the
exhibition of the Archilochi--indeed, his earlier plays appear,
according to Aristophanes, to have been the most successful, until the
old gentleman, by a last vigorous effort, beat the favourite play of
Aristophanes himself.

[328] That the magistrature did not at first authorize comedy seems a
proof that it was not at the commencement considered, like tragedy, of
a religious character. And, indeed, though modern critics constantly
urge upon us its connexion with religion, I doubt whether at any time
the populace thought more of its holier attributes and associations
than the Neapolitans of to-day are impressed with the sanctity of the
carnival when they are throwing sugarplums at each other.

[329] In the interval, however, the poets seem to have sought to
elude the law, since the names of two plays (the Satyroi and the
Koleophoroi) are recorded during this period--plays which probably
approached comedy without answering to its legal definition. It might
be that the difficulty rigidly to enforce the law against the spirit
of the times and the inclination of the people was one of the causes
that led to the repeal of the prohibition.

[330] Since that siege lasted nine months of the year in which the
decree was made.

[331] Aristophanes thus vigorously describes the applauses that
attended the earlier productions of Cratinus. I quote from the
masterly translation of Mr. Mitchell.

"Who Cratinus may forget, or the storm of whim and wit,
Which shook theatres under his guiding;
When Panegyric's song poured her flood of praise along,
Who but he on the top wave was riding?"

* * * * * * *

"His step was as the tread of a flood that leaves its bed,
And his march it was rude desolation," etc.
Mitchell's Aristoph., The Knights, p. 204.

The man who wrote thus must have felt betimes--when, as a boy, he
first heard the roar of the audience--what it is to rule the humours
of eighteen thousand spectators!

[332] De l'esprit, passim.

[333] De Poet., c. 26.

[334] The oracle that awarded to Socrates the superlative degree of
wisdom, gave to Sophocles the positive, and to Euripides the
comparative degree,

Sophos Sophoclaes; sophoteros d'Euripoeaes;
'Andron de panton Sokrataes sophotatos.

Sophocles is wise--Euripides wiser--but wisest of all men is Socrates.

[335] The Oresteia.

[336] For out of seventy plays by Aeschylus only thirteen were
successful; he had exhibited fifteen years before he obtained his
first prize; and the very law passed in honour of his memory, that a
chorus should be permitted to any poet who chose to re-exhibit his
dramas, seems to indicate that a little encouragement of such
exhibition was requisite. This is still more evident if we believe,
with Quintilian, that the poets who exhibited were permitted to
correct and polish up the dramas, to meet the modern taste, and play
the Cibber to the Athenian Shakspeare.

[337] Athenaeus, lib. xiii., p. 603, 604.

[338] He is reported, indeed, to have said that he rejoiced in the
old age which delivered him from a severe and importunate taskmaster.
--Athen., lib. 12, p. 510. But the poet, nevertheless, appears to
have retained his amorous propensities, at least, to the last.--See
Athenaeus, lib. 13, p. 523.

[339] He does indeed charge Sophocles with avarice, but he atones for
it very handsomely in the "Frogs."

[340] M. Schlegel is pleased to indulge in one of his most
declamatory rhapsodies upon the life, "so dear to the gods," of this
"pious and holy poet." But Sophocles, in private life, was a
profligate, and in public life a shuffler and a trimmer, if not
absolutely a renegade. It was, perhaps, the very laxity of his
principles which made him thought so agreeable a fellow. At least,
such is no uncommon cause of personal popularity nowadays. People
lose much of their anger and envy of genius when it throws them down a
bundle or two of human foibles by which they can climb up to its

[341] It is said, indeed, that the appointment was the reward of a
successful tragedy; it was more likely due to his birth, fortune, and
personal popularity.

[342] It seems, however, that Pericles thought very meanly of his
warlike capacities.--See Athenaeus, lib. 13, p. 604.

[343] Oedip. Tyr., 1429, etc.

[344] When Sophocles (Athenaeus, i., p. 22) said that Aeschylus
composed befittingly, but without knowing it, his saying evinced the
study his compositions had cost himself.

[345] "The chorus should be considered as one of the persons in the
drama, should be a part of the whole, and a sharer in the action, not
as in Euripides, but as in Sophocles."--Aristot. de Poet., Twining's
translation. But even in Sophocles, at least in such of his plays as
are left to us, the chorus rarely, if ever, is a sharer in the outward
and positive action of the piece; it rather carries on and expresses
the progress of the emotions that spring out of the action.

[346] --akno toi pros s' aposkopois' anax.--Oedip. Tyr., 711.

This line shows how much of emotion the actor could express in spite
of the mask.

[347] "Of all discoveries, the best is that which arises from the
action itself, and in which a striking effect is produced by probable
incidents. Such is that in the Oedipus of Sophocles."--Aristot. de
Poet., Twining's translation.

[348] But the spot consecrated to those deities which men "tremble to
name," presents all the features of outward loveliness that contrast
and refine, as it were, the metaphysical terror of the associations.
And the beautiful description of Coloneus itself, which is the passage
that Sophocles is said to have read to his judges, before whom he was
accused of dotage, seems to paint a home more fit for the graces than
the furies. The chorus inform the stranger that he has come to "the
white Coloneus;"

"Where ever and aye, through the greenest vale
Gush the wailing notes of the nightingale
From her home where the dark-hued ivy weaves
With the grove of the god a night of leaves;
And the vines blossom out from the lonely glade,
And the suns of the summer are dim in the shade,
And the storms of the winter have never a breeze,
That can shiver a leaf from the charmed trees;
For there, oh ever there,
With that fair mountain throng,
Who his sweet nurses were, [the nymphs of Nisa]
Wild Bacchus holds his court, the conscious woods among!
Daintily, ever there,
Crown of the mighty goddesses of old,
Clustering Narcissus with his glorious hues
Springs from his bath of heaven's delicious dews,
And the gay crocus sheds his rays of gold.
And wandering there for ever
The fountains are at play,
And Cephisus feeds his river
From their sweet urns, day by day.
The river knows no dearth;
Adown the vale the lapsing waters glide,
And the pure rain of that pellucid tide
Calls the rife beauty from the heart of earth.
While by the banks the muses' choral train
Are duly heard--and there, Love checks her golden rein."

[349] Geronta dorthoun, phlauron, os neos pesae.
Oedip. Col., 396.

Thus, though his daughter had only grown up from childhood to early
womanhood, Oedipus has passed from youth to age since the date of the
Oedipus Tyrannus.

[350] See his self-justification, 960-1000.

[351] As each poet had but three actors allowed him, the song of the
chorus probably gave time for the representative of Theseus to change
his dress, and reappear as Polynices.

[352] The imagery in the last two lines has been amplified from the
original in order to bring before the reader what the representation
would have brought before the spectator.

[353] Mercury.

[354] Proserpine.

[355] Autonamos.--Antig., 821.

[356] Ou toi synechthein, alla symphilein ephun.
Antig., 523.

[357] Ceres.

[358] Hyper dilophon petras--viz., Parnassus. The Bacchanalian light
on the double crest of Parnassus, which announced the god, is a
favourite allusion with the Greek poets.

[359] His mother, Semele.

[360] Aristotle finds fault with the incident of the son attempting
to strike his father, as being shocking, yet not tragic--that is, the
violent action is episodical, since it is not carried into effect;
yet, if we might connect the plot of the "Antigone" with the former
plays of either "Oedipus," there is something of retribution in the
attempted parricide when we remember the hypocritical and cruel
severity of Creon to the involuntary parricide of Oedipus. The whole
description of the son in that living tomb, glaring on his father with
his drawn sword, the dead form of his betrothed, with the subsequent
picture of the lovers joined in death, constitutes one of the most
masterly combinations of pathos and terror in ancient or modern

[361] This is not the only passage in which Sophocles expresses
feminine wo by silence. In the Trachiniae, Deianira vanishes in the
same dumb abruptness when she hears from her son the effect of the
centaur's gift upon her husband.

[362] According to that most profound maxim of Aristotle, that in
tragedy a very bad man should never be selected as the object of
chastisement, since his fate is not calculated to excite our

[363] Electra, I. 250-300.

[364] When (line 614) Clytemnestra reproaches Electra for using
insulting epithets to a mother--and "Electra, too, at such a time of
life"--I am surprised that some of the critics should deem it doubtful
whether Clytemnestra meant to allude to her being too young or too
mature for such unfilial vehemence. Not only does the age of Orestes,
so much the junior to Electra, prove the latter signification to be
the indisputable one, but the very words of Electra herself to her
younger sister, Chrysothemis, when she tells her that she is "growing
old, unwedded."

Estos'onde tou chronou
alektra gaearskousan anumegaia te.

Brunck has a judicious note on Electra's age, line 614.

[365] Macbeth, act i., scene 5.

[366] See Note [376].

[367] Sophocles skilfully avoids treading the ground consecrated to
Aeschylus. He does not bring the murder before us with the struggles
and resolve of Orestes.

[368] This is very characteristic of Sophocles; he is especially fond
of employing what may be called "a crisis in life" as a source of
immediate interest to the audience. So in the "Oedipus at Coloneus,"
Oedipus no sooner finds he is in the grove of the Furies than he knows
his hour is approaching; so, also, in the "Ajax," the Nuncius
announces from the soothsayer, that if Ajax can survive the one day
which makes the crisis of his life, the anger of the goddess will
cease. This characteristic of the peculiar style of Sophocles might
be considered as one of the proofs (were any wanting) of the
authenticity of the "Trachiniae."

[369] M. Schlegel rather wantonly accuses Deianira of "levity"--all
her motives, on the contrary, are pure and high, though tender and

[370] Observe the violation of the unity which Sophocles, the most
artistical of all the Greek tragedians, does not hesitate to commit
whenever he thinks it necessary. Hyllus, at the beginning of the
play, went to Cenaeum; he has been already there and back--viz., a
distance from Mount Oeta to a promontory in Euboea, during the time
about seven hundred and thirty lines have taken up in recital! Nor is
this all: just before the last chorus--only about one hundred lines
back--Lichas set out to Cenaeum; and yet sufficient time is supposed
to have elapsed for him to have arrived there--been present at a
sacrifice--been killed by Hercules--and after all this, for Hyllus,
who tells the tale, to have performed the journey back to Trachin.

[371] Even Ulysses, the successful rival of Ajax, exhibits a
reluctance to face the madman which is not without humour.

[372] Potter says, in common with some other authorities, that "we
may be assured that the political enmity of the Athenians to the
Spartans and Argives was the cause of this odious representation of
Menelaus and Agamemnon." But the Athenians had, at that time, no
political enmity with the Argives, who were notoriously jealous of the
Spartans; and as for the Spartans, Agamemnon and Menelaus were not
their heroes and countrymen. On the contrary, it was the thrones of
Menelaus and Agamemnon which the Spartans overthrew. The royal
brothers were probably sacrificed by the poet, not the patriot. The
dramatic effects required that they should be made the foils to the
manly fervour of Teucer and the calm magnanimity of Ulysses.

[373] That the catastrophe should be unhappy!
Aristot., Poet., xiii.

In the same chapter Aristotle properly places in the second rank of
fable those tragedies which attempt the trite and puerile moral of
punishing the bad and rewarding the good.

[374] When Aristophanes (in the character of Aeschylus) ridicules
Euripides for the vulgarity of deriving pathos from the rags, etc., of
his heroes, he ought not to have omitted all censure of the rags and
sores of the favourite hero of Sophocles. And if the Telephus of the
first is represented as a beggar, so also is the Oedipus at Coloneus
of the latter. Euripides has great faults, but he has been unfairly
treated both by ancient and modern hypercriticism.

[375] The single effects, not the plots.

[376] "Polus, celebrated," says Gellius, "throughout all Greece, a
scientific actor of the noblest tragedies." Gellius relates of him an
anecdote, that when acting the Electra of Sophocles, in that scene
where she is represented with the urn supposed to contain her
brother's remains, he brought on the stage the urn and the relics of
his own son, so that his lamentations were those of real emotion.
Poles acted the hero in the plays of Oedipus Tyrannus and Oedipus at
Coloneus.--Arrian. ap. Stob., xcvii., 28. The actors were no less
important personages on the ancient than they are on the modern stage.
Aristotle laments that good poets were betrayed into episodes, or
unnecessarily prolonging and adorning parts not wanted in the plot, so
as to suit the rival performers.--Arist. de Poet., ix. Precisely what
is complained of in the present day. The Attic performers were the
best in Greece--all the other states were anxious to engage them, but
they were liable to severe penalties if they were absent at the time
of the Athenian festivals. (Plut. in Alex.) They were very highly
remunerated. Polus could earn no less than a talent in two days
(Plut. in Rhet. vit.), a much larger sum (considering the relative
values of money) than any English actor could now obtain for a
proportionate period of service. Though in the time of Aristotle
actors as a body were not highly respectable, there was nothing highly
derogatory in the profession itself. The high birth of Sophocles and
Aeschylus did not prevent their performing in their own plays. Actors
often took a prominent part in public affairs; and Aristodemus, the
player, was sent ambassador to King Philip. So great, indeed, was the
importance attached to this actor, that the state took on itself to
send ambassadors in his behalf to all the cities in which he had
engagements.--Aeschin. de Fals. Legat., p. 30-203, ed. Reiske.

[377] The Minerva Promachus. Hae megalae Athaena.

[378] Zosimus, v., p. 294.

[379] Oedip. Colon., 671, etc.

[380] Oedip. Colon., 691.

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest