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Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Complete by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

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fearlessly, nor fruitlessly braved. The Aeginetans surrendered their
shipping, demolished their walls, and consented to the payment of an
annual tribute. And so was fulfilled the proverbial command of
Pericles, that Aegina ought not to remain the eyesore of Athens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Thucydides chosen by the Aristocratic Party to oppose Pericles.--His
Policy.--Munificence of Pericles.--Sacred War.--Battle of Coronea.--
Revolt of Euboea and Megara.--Invasion and Retreat of the
Peloponnesians.--Reduction of Euboea.--Punishment of Histiaea--A
Thirty Years' Truce concluded with the Peloponnesians.--Ostracism of

I. On the death of Cimon (B. C. 449) the aristocratic party in Athens
felt that the position of their antagonists and the temper of the
times required a leader of abilities widely distinct from those which
had characterized the son of Miltiades. Instead of a skilful and
enterprising general, often absent from the city on dazzling but
distant expeditions, it was necessary to raise up a chief who could
contend for their enfeebled and disputed privileges at home, and meet
the formidable Pericles, with no unequal advantages of civil
experience and oratorical talent, in the lists of the popular
assembly, or in the stratagems of political intrigue. Accordingly
their choice fell neither on Myronides nor Tolmides, but on one who,
though not highly celebrated for military exploits, was deemed
superior to Cimon, whether as a practical statesman or a popular
orator. Thucydides, their new champion, united with natural gifts
whatever advantage might result from the memory of Cimon; and his
connexion with that distinguished warrior, to whom he was brother-in-
law, served to keep together the various partisans of the faction, and
retain to the eupatrids something of the respect and enthusiasm which
the services of Cimon could not fail to command, even among the
democracy. The policy embraced by Thucydides was perhaps the best
which the state of affairs would permit; but it was one which was
fraught with much danger. Hitherto the eupatrids and the people,
though ever in dispute, had not been absolutely and totally divided;
the struggles of either faction being headed by nobles, scarcely
permitted to the democracy the perilous advantage of the cry--that the
people were on one side, and the nobles on the other. But Thucydides,
seeking to render his party as strong, as compact, and as united as
possible, brought the main bulk of the eupatrids to act together in
one body. The means by which he pursued and attained this object are
not very clearly narrated; but it was probably by the formation of a
political club--a species of social combination, which afterward
became very common to all classes in Athens. The first effect of this
policy favoured the aristocracy, and the energy and union they
displayed restored for a while the equilibrium of parties; but the
aristocratic influence, thus made clear and open, and brought into
avowed hostility with the popular cause, the city was rent in two, and
the community were plainly invited to regard the nobles as their foes
[251]. Pericles, thus more and more thrown upon the democracy, became
identified with their interests, and he sought, no less by taste than
policy, to prove to the populace that they had grown up into a wealthy
and splendid nation, that could dispense with the bounty, the shows,
and the exhibitions of individual nobles. He lavished the superfluous
treasures of the state upon public festivals, stately processions, and
theatrical pageants. As if desirous of elevating the commons to be
themselves a nobility, all by which he appealed to their favour served
to refine their taste and to inspire the meanest Athenian with a sense
of the Athenian grandeur. It was said by his enemies, and the old
tale has been credulously repeated, that his own private fortune not
allowing him to vie with the wealthy nobles whom he opposed, it was to
supply his deficiencies from the public stock that he directed some
part of the national wealth to the encouragement of the national arts
and the display of the national magnificence. But it is more than
probable that it was rather from principle than personal ambition that
Pericles desired to discountenance and eclipse the interested bribes
to public favour with which Cimon and others had sought to corrupt the
populace. Nor was Pericles without the means or the spirit to devote
his private fortune to proper objects of generosity. "It was his
wealth and his prudence," says Plutarch, when, blaming the
improvidence of Anaxagoras, "that enabled him to relieve the
distressed." What he spent in charity he might perhaps have spent
more profitably in display, had he not conceived that charity was the
province of the citizen, magnificence the privilege of the state. It
was in perfect consonance with the philosophy that now began to spread
throughout Greece, and with which the mind of this great political
artist was so deeply imbued, to consider that the graces ennobled the
city they adorned, and that the glory of a state was intimately
connected with the polish of the people.

II. While, at home, the divisions of the state were progressing to
that point in which the struggle between the opposing leaders must
finally terminate in the ordeal of the ostracism--abroad, new causes
of hostility broke out between the Athenians and the Spartans. The
sacred city of Delphi formed a part of the Phocian station; but, from
a remote period, its citizens appear to have exercised the independent
right of managing to affairs of the temple [252], and to have elected
their own superintendents of the oracle and the treasures. In Delphi
yet lingered the trace of the Dorian institutions and the Dorian
blood, but the primitive valour and hardy virtues of the ancestral
tribe had long since mouldered away. The promiscuous intercourse of
strangers, the contaminating influence of unrelaxing imposture and
priestcraft--above all, the wealth of the city, from which the natives
drew subsistence, and even luxury, without labour [253], contributed
to enfeeble and corrupt the national character. Unable to defend
themselves by their own exertions against any enemy, the Delphians
relied on the passive protection afforded by the superstitious
reverence of their neighbours, or on the firm alliance that existed
between themselves and the great Spartan representatives of their
common Dorian race. The Athenian government could not but deem it
desirable to wrest from the Delphians the charge over the oracle and
the temple, since that charge might at any time be rendered
subservient to the Spartan cause; and accordingly they appear to have
connived at a bold attempt of the Phocians, who were now their allies.
These hardier neighbours of the sacred city claimed and forcibly
seized the right of superintendence of the temple. The Spartans,
alarmed and aroused, despatched an armed force to Delphi, and restored
their former privileges to the citizens. They piously gave to their
excursion the name of the Sacred War. Delphi formally renounced the
Phocian league, declared itself an independent state, and even defined
the boundaries between its own and the Phocian domains. Sparta was
rewarded for its aid by the privilege of precedence in consulting the
oracle, and this decree the Spartans inscribed on a brazen wolf in the
sacred city. The Athenians no longer now acted through others--they
recognised all the advantage of securing to their friends and wresting
from their foes the management of an oracle, on whose voice depended
fortune in war and prosperity in peace. Scarce had the Spartans
withdrawn, than an Athenian force, headed by Pericles, who is said to
have been freed by Anaxagoras from superstitious prejudices, entered
the city, and restored the temple to the Phocians. The same image
which had recorded the privilege of the Spartans now bore an
inscription which awarded the right of precedence to the Athenians.
The good fortune of this expedition was soon reversed.

III. When the Athenians, after the battle of Oenophyta, had
established in the Boeotian cities democratic forms of government, the
principal members of the defeated oligarchy, either from choice or by
compulsion, betook themselves to exile. These malecontents, aided, no
doubt, by partisans who did not share their banishment, now seized
upon Chaeronea, Orchomenus, and some other Boeotian towns. The
Athenians, who had valued themselves on restoring liberty to Boeotia,
and, for the first time since the Persian war, had honoured with
burial at the public expense those who fell under Myronides, could not
regard this attempt at counterrevolution with indifference. Policy
aided their love of liberty; for it must never be forgotten that the
change from democratic to oligarchic government in the Grecian states
was the formal exchange of the Athenian for the Spartan alliance. Yet
Pericles, who ever unwillingly resorted to war, and the most
remarkable attribute of whose character was a profound and calculating
caution, opposed the proposition of sending an armed force into
Boeotia. His objections were twofold--he considered the time
unseasonable, and he was averse to hazard upon an issue not
immediately important to Athens the flower of her Hoplites, or heavy-
armed soldiery, of whom a thousand had offered their services in the
enterprise. Nevertheless, the counsel of Tolmides, who was eager for
the war, and flushed with past successes, prevailed. "If," said
Pericles, "you regard not my experience, wait, at least, for the
advice of TIME, that best of counsellors." The saying was forgotten
in the popular enthusiasm it opposed--it afterward attained the
veneration of a prophecy. [254]

IV. Aided by some allied troops, and especially by his thousand
volunteers, Tolmides swept into Boeotia--reduced Chaeronea--garrisoned
the captured town, and was returning homeward, when, in the territory
of Coronea, he suddenly fell in with a hostile ambush [255], composed
of the exiled bands of Orchomenus, of Opuntian Locrians, and the
partisans of the oligarchies of Euboea. Battle ensued--the Athenians
received a signal and memorable defeat (B. C. 447); many were made
prisoners, many slaughtered: the pride and youth of the Athenian
Hoplites were left on the field; the brave and wealthy Clinias (father
to the yet more renowned Alcibiades), and Tolmides himself, were
slain. But the disaster of defeat was nothing in comparison with its
consequences. To recover their prisoners, the Athenian government
were compelled to enter into a treaty with the hostile oligarchies and
withdraw their forces from Boeotia. On their departure, the old
oligarchies everywhere replaced the friendly democracies, and the
nearest neighbours of Athens were again her foes. Nor was this change
confined to Boeotia. In Locris and Phocis the popular party fell with
the fortunes of Coronea--the exiled oligarchies were re-established--
and when we next read of these states, they are the allies of Sparta.
At home, the results of the day of Coronea were yet more important.
By the slaughter of so many of the Hoplites, the aristocratic party in
Athens were greatly weakened, while the neglected remonstrances and
fears of Pericles, now remembered, secured to him a respect and
confidence which soon served to turn the balance against his
competitor Thucydides.

V. The first defeat of the proud mistress of the Grecian sea was a
signal for the revolt of disaffected dependants. The Isle of Euboea,
the pasturages of which were now necessary to the Athenians,
encouraged by the success that at Coronea had attended the arms of the
Euboean exiles, shook off the Athenian yoke (B. C. 445). In the same
year expired the five years truce with Sparta, and that state
forthwith prepared to avenge its humiliation at Delphi. Pericles
seems once more to have been called into official power--he was not
now supine in action. At the head of a sufficient force he crossed
the channel, and landed in Euboea. Scarce had he gained the island,
when he heard that Megara had revolted--that the Megarians, joined by
partisans from Sicyon, Epidaurus, and Corinth, had put to the sword
the Athenian garrison, save a few who had ensconced themselves in
Nisaea, and that an army of the Peloponnesian confederates was
preparing to march to Attica. On receiving these tidings, Pericles
re-embarked his forces and returned home. Soon appeared the
Peloponnesian forces, commanded by the young Pleistoanax, king of
Sparta, who, being yet a minor, was placed under the guardianship of
Cleandridas; the lands by the western frontier of Attica, some of the
most fertile of that territory, were devastated, and the enemy
penetrated to Eleusis and Thria. But not a blow was struck--they
committed the aggression and departed. On their return to Sparta,
Pleistoanax and Cleandridas were accused of having been bribed to
betray the honour or abandon the revenge of Sparta. Cleandridas fled
the prosecution, and was condemned to death in his exile. Pleistoanax
also quitted the country, and took refuge in Arcadia, in the sanctuary
of Mount Lycaeum. The suspicions of the Spartans appear to have been
too well founded, and Pericles, on passing his accounts that year, is
stated to have put down ten talents [256] as devoted to a certain use
--an item which the assembly assented to in conscious and sagacious
silence. This formidable enemy retired, Pericles once more entered
Euboea, and reduced the isle (B. C. 445). In Chalcis he is said by
Plutarch to have expelled the opulent landowners, who, no doubt,
formed the oligarchic chiefs of the revolt, and colonized Histiaea
with Athenians, driving out at least the greater part of the native
population [257]. For the latter severity was given one of the
strongest apologies that the stern justice of war can plead for its
harshest sentences--the Histiaeans had captured an Athenian vessel and
murdered the crew. The rest of the island was admitted to conditions,
by which the amount of tribute was somewhat oppressively increased.

VI. The inglorious result of the Peloponnesian expedition into Attica
naturally tended to make the Spartans desirous of peace upon
honourable terms, while the remembrance of dangers, eluded rather than
crushed, could not fail to dispose the Athenian government to
conciliate a foe from whom much was to be apprehended and little
gained. Negotiations were commenced and completed (B. C. 445). The
Athenians surrendered some of the most valuable fruits of their
victories in their hold on the Peloponnesus. They gave up their claim
on Nisaea and Pegae--they renounced the footing they had established
in Troezene--they abandoned alliance or interference with Achaia, over
which their influence had extended to a degree that might reasonably
alarm the Spartans, since they had obtained the power to raise troops
in that province, and Achaean auxiliaries had served under Pericles at
the siege of Oeniadae [259]. Such were the conditions upon which a
truce of thirty years was based [260]. The articles were ostensibly
unfavourable to Athens. Boeotia was gone--Locris, Phocis, an internal
revolution (the result of Coronea) had torn from their alliance. The
citizens of Delphi must have regained the command of their oracle,
since henceforth its sacred voice was in favour of the Spartans.
Megara was lost--and now all the holds on the Peloponnesus were
surrendered. These reverses, rapid and signal, might have taught the
Athenians how precarious is ever the military eminence of small
states. But the treaty with Sparta, if disadvantageous, was not
dishonourable. It was founded upon one broad principle, without
which, indeed, all peace would have been a mockery--viz., that the
Athenians should not interfere with the affairs of the Peloponnesus.
This principle acknowledged, the surrender of advantages or conquests
that were incompatible with it was but a necessary detail. As
Pericles was at this time in office [261], and as he had struggled
against an armed interference with the Boeotian towns, so it is
probable that he followed out his own policy in surrendering all right
to interfere with the Peloponnesian states. Only by peace with Sparta
could he accomplish his vast designs for the greatness of Athens--
designs which rested not upon her land forces, but upon her confirming
and consolidating her empire of the sea; and we shall shortly find, in
our consideration of her revenues, additional reasons for approving a
peace essential to her stability.

VII. Scarce was the truce effected ere the struggle between
Thucydides and Pericles approached its crisis. The friends of the
former never omitted an occasion to charge Pericles with having too
lavishly squandered the public funds upon the new buildings which
adorned the city. This charge of extravagance, ever an accusation
sure to be attentively received by a popular assembly, made a sensible
impression. "If you think," said Pericles to the great tribunal
before which he urged his defence, "that I have expended too much,
charge the sums to my account, not yours--but on this condition, let
the edifices be inscribed with my name, not that of the Athenian
people." This mode of defence, though perhaps but an oratorical
hyperbole [262], conveyed a rebuke which the Athenians were an
audience calculated to answer but in one way--they dismissed the
accusation, and applauded the extravagance.

VIII. Accusations against public men, when unsuccessful, are the
fairest stepping-stones in their career. Thucydides failed against
Pericles. The death of Tolmides--the defeat of Coronea--the slaughter
of the Hoplites--weakened the aristocratic party; the democracy and
the democratic administration seized the occasion for a decisive
effort. Thucydides was summoned to the ostracism, and his banishment
freed Pericles from his only rival for the supreme administration of
the Athenian empire.


Causes of the Power of Pericles.--Judicial Courts of the dependant
Allies transferred to Athens.--Sketch of the Athenian Revenues.--
Public Buildings the Work of the People rather than of Pericles.--
Vices and Greatness of Athens had the same Sources.--Principle of
Payment characterizes the Policy of the Period.--It is the Policy of
Civilization.--Colonization, Cleruchia.

I. In the age of Pericles (B. C. 444) there is that which seems to
excite, in order to disappoint, curiosity. We are fully impressed
with the brilliant variety of his gifts--with the influence he
exercised over his times. He stands in the midst of great and
immortal names, at the close of a heroic, and yet in the sudden
meridian of a civilized age. And scarcely does he recede from our
gaze, ere all the evils which only his genius could keep aloof, gather
and close around the city which it was the object of his life not less
to adorn as for festival than to crown as for command. It is almost
as if, with Pericles, her very youth departed from Athens. Yet so
scanty are our details and historical materials, that the life of this
surprising man is rather illustrated by the general light of the times
than by the blaze of his own genius. His military achievements are
not dazzling. No relics, save a few bold expressions, remain of the
eloquence which awed or soothed, excited or restrained, the most
difficult audience in the world. It is partly by analyzing the works
of his contemporaries--partly by noting the rise of the whole people--
and partly by bringing together and moulding into a whole the
scattered masses of his ambitious and thoughtful policy, that we alone
can gauge and measure the proportions of the master-spirit of the
time. The age of Pericles is the sole historian of Pericles.

This statesman was now at that period of life when public men are
usually most esteemed--when, still in the vigour of manhood, they have
acquired the dignity and experience of years, outlived the earlier
prejudices and jealousies they excited, and see themselves surrounded
by a new generation, among whom rivals must be less common than
disciples and admirers. Step by step, through a long and consistent
career, he had ascended to his present eminence, so that his rise did
not startle from its suddenness; while his birth, his services, and
his genius presented a combination of claims to power that his enemies
could not despise, and that justified the enthusiasm of his friends.
His public character was unsullied; of the general belief in his
integrity there is the highest evidence [263]; and even the few
slanders afterward raised against him--such as that of entering into
one war to gratify the resentment of Aspasia, and into another to
divert attention from his financial accounts, are libels so
unsupported by any credible authority, and so absurd in themselves,
that they are but a proof how few were the points on which calumny
could assail him.

II. The obvious mode to account for the moral power of a man in any
particular time, is to consider his own character, and to ascertain
how far it is suited to command the age in which he lived and the
people whom he ruled. No Athenian, perhaps, ever possessed so many
qualities as Pericles for obtaining wide and lasting influence over
the various classes of his countrymen. By his attention to maritime
affairs, he won the sailors, now the most difficult part of the
population to humour or control; his encouragement to commerce secured
the merchants and conciliated the alien settlers; while the stupendous
works of art, everywhere carried on, necessarily obtained the favour
of the mighty crowd of artificers and mechanics whom they served to
employ. Nor was it only to the practical interests, but to all the
more refined, yet scarce less powerful sympathies of his countrymen,
that his character appealed for support. Philosophy, with all
parties, all factions, was becoming an appetite and passion. Pericles
was rather the friend than the patron of philosophers. The increasing
refinement of the Athenians--the vast influx of wealth that poured
into the treasury from the spoils of Persia and the tributes of
dependant cities, awoke the desire of art; and the graceful intellect
of Pericles at once indulged and directed the desire, by advancing
every species of art to its perfection. The freedom of democracy--the
cultivation of the drama (which is the oratory of poetry)--the rise of
prose literature--created the necessity of popular eloquence--and with
Pericles the Athenian eloquence was born. Thus his power was derived
from a hundred sources: whether from the grosser interests--the mental
sympathies--the vanity--ambition--reason--or imagination of the
people. And in examining the character of Pericles, and noting its
harmony with his age, the admiration we bestow on himself must be
shared by his countrymen. He obtained a greater influence than
Pisistratus, but it rested solely on the free-will of the Athenians--
it was unsupported by armed force--it was subject to the laws--it
might any day be dissolved; and influence of this description is only
obtained, in free states, by men who are in themselves the likeness
and representative of the vast majority of the democracy they wield.
Even the aristocratic party that had so long opposed him appear, with
the fall of Thucydides, to have relaxed their hostilities. In fact,
they had less to resent in Pericles than in any previous leader of the
democracy. He was not, like Themistocles, a daring upstart, vying
with, and eclipsing their pretensions. He was of their own order.
His name was not rendered odious to them by party proscriptions or the
memory of actual sufferings. He himself had recalled their idol
Cimon--and in the measures that had humbled the Areopagus, so
discreetly had he played his part, or so fortunately subordinate had
been his co-operation, that the wrath of the aristocrats had fallen
only on Ephialtes. After the ostracism of Thucydides, "he became,"
says Plutarch [264], "a new man--no longer so subservient to the
multitude--and the government assumed an aristocratical, or rather
monarchical, form." But these expressions in Plutarch are not to be
literally received. The laws remained equally democratic--the agora
equally strong--Pericles was equally subjected to the popular control;
but having now acquired the confidence of the people, he was enabled
more easily to direct them, or, as Thucydides luminously observes,
"Not having obtained his authority unworthily, he was not compelled to
flatter or to sooth the popular humours, but, when occasion required,
he could even venture vehemently to contradict them." [265] The cause
which the historian assigns to the effect is one that deserves to be
carefully noted by ambitious statesmen--because the authority of
Pericles was worthily acquired, the people often suffered it to be
even unpopularly exercised. On the other hand, this far-seeing and
prudent statesman was, no doubt, sufficiently aware of the dangers to
which the commonwealth was exposed, if the discontents of the great
aristocratic faction were not in some degree conciliated, to induce
his wise and sober patriotism, if not actually to seek the favour of
his opponents, at least cautiously to shun all idle attempts to
revenge past hostilities or feed the sources of future irritation. He
owed much to the singular moderation and evenness of his temper; and
his debt to Anaxagoras must have been indeed great, if the lessons of
that preacher of those cardinal virtues of the intellect, serenity and
order, had assisted to form the rarest of all unions--a genius the
most fervid, with passions the best regulated.

III. It was about this time, too, in all probability, that Pericles
was enabled to consummate the policy he had always adopted with
respect to the tributary allies. We have seen that the treasury had
been removed from Delos to Athens; it was now resolved to make Athens
also the seat and centre of the judicial authority. The subject
allies were compelled, if not on minor, at least on all important
cases, to resort to Athenian courts of law for justice [266]. And
thus Athens became, as it were, the metropolis of the allies. A more
profound and sagacious mode of quickly establishing her empire it was
impossible for ingenuity to conceive; but as it was based upon an
oppression that must have been daily and intolerably felt--that every
affair of life must have called into irritating action, so, with the
establishment of the empire was simultaneously planted an inevitable
cause of its decay. For though power is rarely attained without
injustice, the injustice, if continued, is the never-failing principle
of its corruption. And, in order to endure, authority must hasten to
divest itself of all the more odious attributes of conquest.

IV. As a practical statesman, one principal point of view in which we
must regard Pericles is in his capacity of a financier. By English
historians his policy and pretensions in this department have not been
sufficiently considered; yet, undoubtedly, they made one of the most
prominent features of his public character in the eyes of his
countrymen. He is the first minister in Athens who undertook the
scientific management of the national revenues, and partly from his
scrupulous integrity, partly from his careful wisdom, and partly from
a fortunate concurrence of circumstances, the Athenian revenues, even
when the tribute was doubled, were never more prosperously
administered. The first great source of the revenue was from the
tributes of the confederate cities [267]. These, rated at four
hundred and sixty talents in the time of Aristides, had increased to
six hundred in the time of Pericles; but there is no evidence to prove
that the increased sum was unfairly raised, or that fresh exactions
were levied, save in rare cases [268], on the original subscribers to
the league. The increase of a hundred and forty talents is to be
accounted for partly by the quota of different confederacies acquired
since the time of Aristides, partly by the exemption from military or
maritime service, voluntarily if unwisely purchased, during the
administration of Cimon, by the states themselves. So far as tribute
was a sign of dependance and inferiority, the impost was a hardship;
but for this they who paid it are to be blamed rather than those who
received. Its practical burden on each state, at this period,
appears, in most cases, to have been incredibly light; and a very
trifling degree of research will prove how absurdly exaggerated have
been the invectives of ignorant or inconsiderate men, whether in
ancient or modern times, on the extortions of the Athenians, and the
impoverishment of their allies. Aristophanes [269] attributes to the
empire of Athens a thousand tributary cities: the number is doubtless
a poetical license; yet, when we remember the extent of territory
which the league comprehended, and how crowded with cities were all
the coasts and islands of Greece, we should probably fall short of the
number of tributary cities if we estimated it at six hundred; so that
the tribute would not in the time of Pericles average above a talent,
or 241l. 13s. 4d. [270] English money, for each city! Even when in a
time of urgent demand on the resources of the state [271], Cythera
fell into the hands of the Athenians [272], the tribute of that island
was assessed but at four talents. And we find, by inscriptions still
extant, that some places were rated only at two thousand, and even one
thousand drachmas. [273]

Finally, if the assessment by Aristides, of four hundred and sixty
talents, was such as to give universal satisfaction from its equity
and moderation, the additional hundred and forty talents in the time
of Pericles could not have been an excessive increase, when we
consider how much the league had extended, how many states had
exchanged the service for the tribute, and how considerable was the
large diffusion of wealth throughout the greater part of Greece, the
continued influx of gold [274], and the consequent fall in value of
the precious metals.

V. It was not, then, the amount of the tribute which made its
hardship, nor can the Athenian government be blamed for having
continued, a claim voluntarily conceded to them. The original object
of the tribute was the maintenance of a league against the barbarians
--the Athenians were constituted the heads of the league and the
guardians of the tribute; some states refused service and offered
money--their own offers were accepted; other states refused both--it
was not more the interest than the duty of Athens to maintain, even by
arms, the condition of the league--so far is her policy justifiable.
But she erred when she reduced allies to dependants--she erred when
she transferred the treasury from the central Delos to her own state--
she erred yet more when she appropriated a portion of these treasures
to her own purposes. But these vices of Athens are the vices of all
eminent states, monarchic or republican--for they are the vices of the
powerful. "It was," say the Athenian ambassadors in Thucydides, with
honest candour and profound truth--"it was from the nature of the
thing itself that we were at first compelled to advance our empire to
what it is--chiefly through fear--next for honour--and, lastly, for
interest; and then it seemed no longer safe for us to venture to let
go the reins of government, for the revolters would have gone over to
you" (viz., to the Spartans) [275]. Thus does the universal lesson of
history teach us that it is the tendency of power, in what hands
soever it be placed, to widen its limits, to increase its vigour, in
proportion as the counteracting force resigns the security for its
administration, or the remedy for its abuse.

VI. Pericles had not scrupled, from the date of the transfer of the
treasury to Athens, to devote a considerable proportion of the general
tribute to public buildings and sacred exhibitions--purposes purely
Athenian. But he did so openly--he sought no evasion or disguise--he
maintained in the face of Greece that the Athenians were not
responsible to the allies for these contributions; that it was the
Athenians who had resisted and defended the barbarians, while many of
the confederate states had supplied neither ships nor soldiers; that
Athens was now the head of a mighty league; and that, to increase her
glory, to cement her power, was a duty she owed no less to the allies
than to herself. Arguments to which armies, and not orators, could
alone reply. [276]

The principal other sources whence the Athenian revenue was derived,
it may be desirable here to state as briefly and as clearly as the
nature of the subject will allow. By those who would search more
deeply, the long and elaborate statistics of Boeckh must be carefully
explored. Those sources of revenue were--

1st. Rents from corporate estates--such as pastures, forests, rivers,
salt-works, houses, theatres, etc., and mines, let for terms of years,
or on heritable leases.

2dly. Tolls, export and import duties, probably paid only by
strangers, and amounting to two per cent., a market excise, and the
twentieth part of all exports and imports levied in the dependant
allied cities--the last a considerable item.

3dly. Tithes, levied only on lands held in usufruct, as estates
belonging to temples.

4thly. A protection tax [277], paid by the settlers, or Metoeci,
common to most of the Greek states, but peculiarly productive in
Athens from the number of strangers that her trade, her festivals, and
her renown attracted. The policy of Pericles could not fail to
increase this source of revenue.

5thly. A slave tax of three obols per head. [278]

Most of these taxes appear to have been farmed out.

6thly. Judicial fees and fines. As we have seen that the allies in
most important trials were compelled to seek justice in Athens, this,
in the time of Pericles, was a profitable source of income. But it
was one, the extent of which necessarily depended upon peace.

Fines were of many classes, but not, at least in this period, of very
great value to the state. Sometimes (as in all private accusations)
the fine fell to the plaintiff, sometimes a considerable proportion
enriched the treasury of the tutelary goddess. The task of assessing
the fines was odious, and negligently performed by the authorities,
while it was easy for those interested to render a false account of
their property.

Lastly. The state received the aid of annual contributions, or what
were termed liturgies, from individuals for particular services.

The ordinary liturgies were, 1st. The Choregia, or duty of furnishing
the chorus for the plays--tragic, comic, and satirical--of
remunerating the leader of the singers and musicians--of maintaining
the latter while trained--of supplying the dresses, the golden crowns
and masks, and, indeed, the general decorations and equipments of the
theatre. He on whom this burdensome honour fell was called Choregus;
his name, and that of his tribe, was recorded on the tripod which
commemorated the victory of the successful poet, whose performances
were exhibited. [279]

2dly. The Gymnasiarchy, or charge of providing for the expense of the
torch-race, celebrated in honour of the gods of fire, and some other
sacred games. In later times the gymnasiarchy comprised the
superintendence of the training schools, and the cost of ornamenting
the arena.

3dly. The Architheoria, or task of maintaining the embassy to sacred
games and festivals.

And, 4thly, the Hestiasis, or feasting of the tribes, a costly
obligation incurred by some wealthy member of each tribe for
entertaining the whole of the tribe at public, but not very luxurious,
banquets. This last expense did not often occur. The hestiasis was
intended for sacred objects, connected with the rites of hospitality,
and served to confirm the friendly intercourse between the members of
the tribe.

These three ordinary liturgies had all a religious character; they
were compulsory on those possessed of property not less than three
talents--they were discharged in turn by the tribes, except when
volunteered by individuals.

VII. The expenses incurred for the defence or wants of the state were
not regular, but extraordinary liturgies--such as the TRIERARCHY, or
equipment of ships, which entailed also the obligation of personal
service on those by whom the triremes were fitted out. Personal
service was indeed the characteristic of all liturgies, a property-
tax, which was not yet invented, alone excepted; and this, though
bearing the name, has not the features, of a liturgy. Of the
extraordinary liturgies, the trierarchy was the most important. It
was of very early origin. Boeckh observes [280] that it was mentioned
in the time of Hippias. At the period of which we treat each vessel
had one trierarch. The vessel was given to the trierarch, sometimes
ready equipped; he also received the public money for certain
expenses; others fell on himself [281]. Occasionally, but rarely, an
ambitious or patriotic trierarch defrayed the whole cost; but in any
case he rendered strict account of the expenses incurred. The cost of
a whole trierarchy was not less than forty minas, nor more than a

VIII. Two liturgies could not be demanded simultaneously from any
individual, nor was he liable to any one more often than every other
year. He who served the trierarchies was exempted from all other
contributions. Orphans were exempted till the year after they had
obtained their majority, and a similar exemption was, in a very few
instances, the reward of eminent public services. The nine archons
were also exempted from the trierarchies.

IX. The moral defects of liturgies were the defects of a noble
theory, which almost always terminates in practical abuses. Their
principle was that of making it an honour to contribute to the public
splendour or the national wants. Hence, in the earlier times, an
emulation among the rich to purchase favour by a liberal, but often
calculating and interested ostentation; hence, among the poor,
actuated by an equal ambition, was created so great a necessity for
riches as the means to power [282], that the mode by which they were
to be acquired was often overlooked. What the theory designed as the
munificence of patriotism, became in practice but a showy engine of
corruption; and men vied with each other in the choregia or the
trierarchy, not so much for the sake of service done to the state, as
in the hope of influence acquired over the people. I may also
observe, that in a merely fiscal point of view, the principle of
liturgies was radically wrong; that principle went to tax the few
instead of the many; its operation was therefore not more unequal in
its assessments than it was unproductive to the state in proportion to
its burden on individuals.

X. The various duties were farmed--a pernicious plan of finance
common to most of the Greek states. The farmers gave sureties, and
punctuality was rigorously exacted from them, on penalty of
imprisonment, the doubling of the debt, the confiscation of their
properties, the compulsory hold upon their sureties.

XI. Such were the main sources of the Athenian revenue.
Opportunities will occur to fill up the brief outline and amplify each
detail. This sketch is now presented to the reader as comprising a
knowledge necessary to a clear insight into the policy of Pericles. A
rapid glance over the preceding pages will suffice to show that it was
on a rigid avoidance of all unnecessary war--above all, of distant and
perilous enterprises, that the revenue of Athens rested. Her
commercial duties--her tax on settlers--the harvest of judicial fees,
obtained from the dependant allies--the chief profits from the mines--
all rested upon the maintenance of peace: even the foreign tribute,
the most productive of the Athenian resources, might fail at once, if
the Athenian arms should sustain a single reverse, as indeed it did
after the fatal battle of Aegospotamos [283]. This it was which might
have shown to the great finance minister that peace with the
Peloponnesus could scarce be too dearly purchased [284]. The
surrender of a few towns and fortresses was nothing in comparison with
the arrest and paralysis of all the springs of her wealth, which would
be the necessary result of a long war upon her own soil. For this
reason Pericles strenuously checked all the wild schemes of the
Athenians for extended empire. Yet dazzled with the glories of Cimon,
some entertained the hopes of recovering Egypt, some agitated the
invasion of the Persian coasts; the fair and fatal Sicily already
aroused the cupidity and ambition of others; and the vain enthusiasts
of the Agora even dreamed of making that island the base and centre of
a new and vast dominion, including Carthage on one hand and Etruria on
the other [285]. Such schemes it was the great object of Pericles to
oppose. He was not less ambitious for the greatness of Athens than
the most daring of these visionaries; but he better understood on what
foundations it should be built. His objects were to strengthen the
possessions already acquired, to confine the Athenian energies within
the frontiers of Greece, and to curb, as might better be done by peace
than war, the Peloponnesian forces to their own rocky barriers. The
means by which he sought to attain these objects were, 1st, by a
maritime force; 2dly, by that inert and silent power which springs as
it were from the moral dignity and renown of a nation; whatever, in
this latter respect, could make Athens illustrious, made Athens

XII. Then rapidly progressed those glorious fabrics which seemed, as
Plutarch gracefully expresses it, endowed with the bloom of a
perennial youth. Still the houses of private citizens remained simple
and unadorned; still were the streets narrow and irregular; and even
centuries afterward, a stranger entering Athens would not at first
have recognised the claims of the mistress of Grecian art. But to the
homeliness of her common thoroughfares and private mansions, the
magnificence of her public edifices now made a dazzling contrast. The
Acropolis, that towered above the homes and thoroughfares of men--a
spot too sacred for human habitation--became, to use a proverbial
phrase, "a city of the gods." The citizen was everywhere to be
reminded of the majesty of the STATE--his patriotism was to be
increased by the pride in her beauty--his taste to be elevated by the
spectacle of her splendour. Thus flocked to Athens all who throughout
Greece were eminent in art. Sculptors and architects vied with each
other in adorning the young empress of the seas [286]; then rose the
masterpieces of Phidias, of Callicrates, of Mnesicles [287], which
even, either in their broken remains, or in the feeble copies of
imitators less inspired, still command so intense a wonder, and
furnish models so immortal. And if, so to speak, their bones and
relics excite our awe and envy, as testifying of a lovelier and
grander race, which the deluge of time has swept away, what, in that
day, must have been their brilliant effect--unmutilated in their fair
proportions--fresh in all their lineaments and hues? For their beauty
was not limited to the symmetry of arch and column, nor their
materials confined to the marbles of Pentelicus and Paros. Even the
exterior of the temples glowed with the richest harmony of colours,
and was decorated with the purest gold; an atmosphere peculiarly
favourable both to the display and the preservation of art, permitted
to external pediments and friezes all the minuteness of ornament--all
the brilliancy of colours; such as in the interior of Italian churches
may yet be seen--vitiated, in the last, by a gaudy and barbarous
taste. Nor did the Athenians spare any cost upon the works that were,
like the tombs and tripods of their heroes, to be the monuments of a
nation to distant ages, and to transmit the most irrefragable proof
"that the power of ancient Greece was not an idle legend." [288] The
whole democracy were animated with the passion of Pericles; and when
Phidias recommended marble as a cheaper material than ivory for the
great statue of Minerva, it was for that reason that ivory was
preferred by the unanimous voice of the assembly. Thus, whether it
were extravagance or magnificence, the blame in one case, the
admiration in another, rests not more with the minister than the
populace. It was, indeed, the great characteristic of those works,
that they were entirely the creations of the people: without the
people, Pericles could not have built a temple or engaged a sculptor.
The miracles of that day resulted from the enthusiasm of a population
yet young--full of the first ardour for the beautiful--dedicating to
the state, as to a mistress, the trophies, honourably won or the
treasures injuriously extorted--and uniting the resources of a nation
with the energy of an individual, because the toil, the cost, were
borne by those who succeeded to the enjoyment and arrogated the glory.

XIII. It was from two sources that Athens derived her chief political
vices; 1st, Her empire of the seas and her exactions from her allies;
2dly, an unchecked, unmitigated democratic action, void of the two
vents known in all modern commonwealths--the press, and a
representative, instead of a popular, assembly. But from these
sources she now drew all her greatness also, moral and intellectual.
Before the Persian war, and even scarcely before the time of Cimon,
Athens cannot be said to have eclipsed her neighbours in the arts and
sciences. She became the centre and capital of the most polished
communities of Greece, and she drew into a focus all the Grecian
intellect; she obtained from her dependants the wealth to administer
the arts, which universal traffic and intercourse taught her to
appreciate; and thus the Odeon, and the Parthenon, and the Propylaea
arose! During the same administration, the fortifications were
completed, and a third wall, parallel [289] and near to that uniting
Piraeus with Athens, consummated the works of Themistocles and Cimon,
and preserved the communication between the twofold city, even should
the outer walls fall into the hands of an enemy.

But honour and wealth alone would not have sufficed for the universal
emulation, the universal devotion to all that could adorn or exalt the
nation. It was the innovations of Aristides and Ephialtes that
breathed into that abstract and cold formality, THE STATE, the breath
and vigour of a pervading people, and made the meanest citizen
struggle for Athens with that zeal with which an ambitious statesman
struggles for himself [290]. These two causes united reveal to us the
true secret why Athens obtained a pre-eminence in intellectual
grandeur over the rest of Greece. Had Corinth obtained the command of
the seas and the treasury of Delos--had Corinth established abroad a
power equally arbitrary and extensive, and at home a democracy equally
broad and pure--Corinth might have had her Pericles and Demosthenes,
her Phidias, her Sophocles, her Aristophanes, her Plato--and posterity
might not have allowed the claim of Athens to be the Hellas Hellados,
"the Greece of Greece."

XIV. But the increase of wealth bounded not its effects to these
magnificent works of art--they poured into and pervaded the whole
domestic policy of Athens. We must recollect, that as the greatness
of the state was that of the democracy, so its treasures were the
property of the free population. It was the people who were rich; and
according to all the notions of political economy in that day, the
people desired practically to enjoy their own opulence. Thus was
introduced the principal of payment for service, and thus was
sanctioned and legalized the right of a common admission to
spectacles, the principal cost of which was defrayed from common
property. That such innovations would he the necessary and
unavoidable result of an overflowing treasury in a state thus
democratic is so obvious, that nothing can be more absurd than to lay
the blame of the change upon Pericles. He only yielded to, and
regulated the irresistible current of the general wish. And we may
also observe, that most of those innovations, which were ultimately
injurious to Athens, rested upon the acknowledged maxims of modern
civilization; some were rather erroneous from details than principles;
others, from the want of harmony between the new principles and the
old constitution to which then were applied. Each of the elements
might be healthful--amalgamated, they produced a poison.

XV. It is, for instance, an axiom in modern politics that judges
should receive a salary [291]. During the administration of Pericles,
this principle was applied to the dicasts in the popular courts of
judicature. It seems probable that the vast accession of law business
which ensued from the transfer of the courts in the allied states to
the Athenian tribunal was the cause of this enactment. Lawsuits
became so common, that it was impossible, without salaries, that the
citizens could abandon their own business for that of others. Payment
was, therefore, both equitable and unavoidable, and, doubtless, it
would have seemed to the Athenians, as now to us, the best means, not
only of securing the attention, but of strengthening the integrity, of
the judges or the jurors. The principle of salaries was, therefore,
right, but its results were evil, when applied to the peculiar
constitution of the courts. The salary was small--the judges
numerous, and mostly of the humblest class--the consequences I have
before shown [292]. Had the salaries been high and the number of the
judges small, the means of a good judicature would have been attained.
But, then, according to the notions, not only of the Athenians, but of
all the Hellenic democracies, the democracy itself, of which the
popular courts were deemed the constitutional bulwark and the vital
essence, would have been at an end. In this error, therefore, however
fatal it might be, neither Pericles nor the Athenians, but the
theories of the age, are to be blamed [293]. It is also a maxim

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