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- Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book II. - 20/26 -


cares) must have been as a class very inferior in ability to the pylagorae; for the first were chosen by lot, the last by careful selection. And thus we learn, in effect, that while the hieromnemon had the higher grade of dignity, the pylagoras did the greater share of business.

[84] Milton, Hist. of Eng., book i.

[85] No man of rank among the old northern pirates was deemed honourable if not a pirate, gloriam sibi acquirens, as the Vatzdaela hath it.

[86] Most probably more than one prince. Greece has three well accredited pretenders to the name and attributes even of the Grecian Hercules.

[87] Herodotus marks the difference between the Egyptian and Grecian deity, and speaks of a temple erected by the Phoenicians to Hercules, when they built Thasus, five hundred years before the son of Amphitryon was known to the Greeks. The historian commends such of the Greeks as erected two temples to the divinity of that name, worshipping in the one as to a god, but in the other observing only the rites as to a hero.-B. ii., c. 13, 14.

[88] Plot. in Vit. Thes.--Apollod., l. 3. This story is often borrowed by the Spanish romance-writers, to whom Plutarch was a copious fountain of legendary fable.

[89] Plut. in Vit. Thes.

[90] Mr. Mueller's ingenious supposition, that the tribute was in fact a religious ceremony, and that the voyage of Theseus had originally no other meaning than the landings at Naxos and Delos, is certainly credible, but not a whit more so than, and certainly not so simple as, the ancient accounts in Plutarch; as with mythological, so with historical legends, it is better to take the plain and popular interpretation whenever it seems conformable to the manners of the times, than to construe the story by newly-invented allegories. It is very singular that that is the plan which every writer on the early chronicles of France and England would adopt,--and yet which so few writers agree to*****[three illegible words in the print copy]***** the obscure records of the Greeks.

[91] Plutarch cites Clidemus in support of another version of the tale, somewhat less probable, viz., that, by the death of Minos and his son Deucalion, Ariadne became possessed of the throne, and that she remitted the tribute.

[92] Thucydides, b. ii., c. 15.

[93] But many Athenians preferred to a much later age the custom of living without the walls--scattered over the country.--(Thucyd., lib. ii., 15.) We must suppose it was with them as with the moderns--the rich and the great generally preferred the capital, but there were many exceptions.

[94] For other instances in which the same word is employed by Homer, see Clinton's Fast Hell., vol. i., introduction, ix.

[95] Paus., l. i., c. 19; l. ii., c. 18.

[96] Paus., l. vii., c. 25. An oracle of Dodona had forewarned the Athenians of the necessity of sparing the suppliants.

[97] Herod. (lib. v., 76) cites this expedition of the Dorians for the establishment of a colony at Megara as that of their first incursion into Attica,

[98] Suidas. One cannot but be curious as to the motives and policy of a person, virtuous as a man, but so relentless as a lawgiver. Although Draco was himself a noble, it is difficult to suppose that laws so stern and impartial would not operate rather against the more insolent and encroaching class than against the more subordinate ones. The attempt shows a very unwholesome state of society, and went far to produce the democratic action which Solon represented rather than created.

[99] Hume utters a sentiment exactly the reverse: "To expect," says he, in his Essay on the rise of Arts and Sciences, "that the arts and sciences should take their first rise in a monarchy, is to expect a contradiction;" and he holds, in a subsequent part of the same essay, that though republics originate the arts and sciences, they may be transferred to a monarchy. Yet this sentiment is utterly at variance with the fact; in the despotic monarchies of the East were the elements of the arts and sciences; it was to republics they were transferred, and republics perfected them. Hume, indeed, is often the most incautious and uncritical of all writers. What can we think of an author who asserts that a refined taste succeeds best in monarchies, and then refers to the indecencies of Horace and Ovid as an example of the reverse in a republic--as if Ovid and Horace had not lived under a monarchy! and throughout the whole of this theory he is as thoroughly in the wrong. By refined taste he signifies an avoidance of immodesty of style. Beaumont and Fletcher, Rochester, Dean Swift, wrote under monarchies--their pruriencies are not excelled by any republican authors of ancient times. What ancient authors equal in indelicacy the French romances from the time of the Regent of Orleans to Louis XVI.? By all accounts, the despotism of China is the very sink of indecencies, whether in pictures or books. Still more, what can we think of a writer who says, that "the ancients have not left us one piece of pleasantry that is excellent, unless one may except the Banquet of Xenophon and the Dialogues of Lucian?" What! has he forgotten Aristophanes? Has he forgotten Plautus! No--but their pleasantry is not excellent to his taste; and he tacitly agrees with Horace in censuring the "coarse railleries and cold jests" of the Great Original of Moliere!

[100] Which forbade the concentration of power necessary to great conquests. Phoenicia was not one state, it was a confederacy of states; so, for the same reason, Greece, admirably calculated to resist, was ill fitted to invade.

[101] For the dates of these migrations, see Fast. Hell., vol. i.

[102] To a much later period in the progress of this work I reserve a somewhat elaborate view of the history of Sicily.

[103] Pausanias, in corroboration of this fact, observes, that Periboea, the daughter of Alcathous, was sent with Theseus with tribute into Crete.

[104] When, according to Pausanias, it changed its manners and its language.

[105] In length fifty-two geographical miles, and about twenty-eight to thirty-two broad.

[106] A council of five presided over the business of the oracle, composed of families who traced their descent from Deucalion.

[107] Great grandson to Antiochus, son of Hercules.--Pausanias, l. 2, c. 4.

[108] But at Argos, at least, the name, though not the substance, of the kingly government was extant as late as the Persian war.

[109] Those who meant to take part in the athletic exercises were required to attend at Olympia thirty days previous to the games, for preparation and practice.

[110] It would appear by some Etruscan vases found at Veii, that the Etruscans practised all the Greek games--leaping, running, cudgel- playing, etc., and were not restricted, as Niebuhr supposes, to boxing and chariot-races.

[111] It however diminishes the real honour of the chariot-race, that the owner of horses usually won by proxy.

[112] The indecorum of attending contests where the combatants were unclothed, was a sufficient reason for the exclusion of females. The priestess of Ceres, the mighty mother, was accustomed to regard all such indecorums as symbolical, and had therefore refined away any remarkable indelicacy.

[113] Plut. in Alex. When one of the combatants with the cestus killed his antagonist by running the ends of his fingers through his ribs, he was ignominiously expelled the stadium. The cestus itself made of thongs of leather, was evidently meant not to increase the severity of the blow, but for the prevention of foul play by the antagonists laying hold of each other, or using the open hand. I believe that the iron bands and leaden plummets were Roman inventions, and unknown at least till the later Olympic games. Even in the pancratium, the fiercest of all the contests--for it seems to have united wrestling with boxing (a struggle of physical strength, without the precise and formal laws of the boxing and wrestling matches), it was forbidden to kill an enemy, to injure his eyes, or to use the teeth.

[114] Even to the foot-race, in which many of the competitors were of the lowest rank, the son of Amyntas, king of Macedon, was not admitted till he had proved an Argive descent. He was an unsuccessful competitor.

[115] Herodotus relates an anecdote, that the Eleans sent deputies to Egypt, vaunting the glories of the Olympic games, and inquiring if the Egyptians could suggest any improvement. The Egyptians asked if the citizens of Elis were allowed to contend, and, on hearing that they were, declared it was impossible they should not favour their own countrymen, and consequently that the games must lead to injustice--a suspicion not verified.

[116] Cic. Quaest. Tusc., II, 17.

[117] Nero (when the glory had left the spot) drove a chariot of ten horses in Olympia, out of which he had the misfortune to tumble. He obtained other prizes in other Grecian games, and even contended with the heralds as a crier. The vanity of Nero was astonishing, but so was that of most of his successors. The Roman emperors were the sublimest coxcombs in history. In men born to stations which are beyond ambition, all aspirations run to seed.

[118] Plut. in Sympos.

[119] It does not appear that at Elis there were any of the actual contests in music and song which made the character of the Pythian games. But still it was a common exhibition for the cultivation of every art. Sophist, and historian, and orator, poet and painter found their mart in the Olympic fair.

[120] Plut. in vita Them.


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