Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything

Bride.Ru

Books Menu

Home
Author Catalog
Title Catalog
Sectioned Catalog

 

- Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book IV. - 5/19 -


Aristides himself prudently forbore taking an active part against his ancient rival, he yet lent all the influence of his name and friendship to the now powerful and popular Cimon. The victories, the manners, the wealth, the birth of the son of Miltiades were supported by his talents and his ambition. It was obvious to himself and to his party that, were Themistocles removed, Cimon would become the first citizen of Athens.

XXIV. Such were the causes that long secretly undermined, that at length openly stormed, the authority of the hero of Salamis; and at this juncture we may conclude, that the vices of his character avenged themselves on the virtues. His duplicity and spirit of intrigue, exercised on behalf of his country, it might be supposed, would hereafter be excited against it. And the pride, the ambition, the craft that had saved the people might serve to create a despot.

Themistocles was summoned to the ordeal of the ostracism and condemned by the majority of suffrages (B. C. 471). Thus, like Aristides, not punished for offences, but paying the honourable penalty of rising by genius to that state of eminence which threatens danger to the equality of republics.

He departed from Athens, and chose his refuge at Argos, whose hatred to Sparta, his deadliest foe, promised him the securest protection.

XXV. Death soon afterward removed Aristides from all competitorship with Cimon; according to the most probable accounts, he died at Athens; and at the time of Plutarch his monument was still to be seen at Phalerum. His countrymen, who, despite all plausible charges, were never ungrateful except where their liberties appeared imperilled (whether rightly or erroneously our documents are too scanty to prove), erected his monument at the public charge, portioned his three daughters, and awarded to his son Lysimachus a grant of one hundred minae of silver, a plantation of one hundred plethra [150] of land, and a pension of four drachmae a day (double the allowance of an Athenian ambassador).

CHAPTER II.

Popularity and Policy of Cimon.--Naxos revolts from the Ionian League.--Is besieged by Cimon.--Conspiracy and Fate of Pausanias.-- Flight and Adventures of Themistocles.--His Death.

I. The military abilities and early habits of Cimon naturally conspired with past success to direct his ambition rather to warlike than to civil distinctions. But he was not inattentive to the arts which were necessary in a democratic state to secure and confirm his power. Succeeding to one, once so beloved and ever so affable as Themistocles, he sought carefully to prevent all disadvantageous contrast. From the spoils of Byzantium and Sestos he received a vast addition to his hereditary fortunes. And by the distribution of his treasures, he forestalled all envy at their amount. He threw open his gardens to the public, whether foreigners or citizens--he maintained a table to which men of every rank freely resorted, though probably those only of his own tribe [151]--he was attended by a numerous train, who were ordered to give mantles to what citizen soever--aged and ill-clad--they encountered; and to relieve the necessitous by aims delicately and secretly administered. By these artful devices he rendered himself beloved, and concealed the odium of his politics beneath the mask of his charities. For while he courted the favour, he advanced not the wishes, of the people. He sided with the aristocratic party, and did not conceal his attachment to the oligarchy of Sparta. He sought to content the people with himself, in order that he might the better prevent discontent with their position. But it may be doubted whether Cimon did not, far more than any of his predecessors, increase the dangers of a democracy by vulgarizing its spirit. The system of general alms and open tables had the effect that the abuses of the Poor Laws [152] have had with us. It accustomed the native poor to the habits of indolent paupers, and what at first was charity soon took the aspect of a right. Hence much of the lazy turbulence, and much of that licentious spirit of exaction from the wealthy, that in a succeeding age characterized the mobs of Athens. So does that servile generosity, common to an anti-popular party, when it affects kindness in order to prevent concession, ultimately operate against its own secret schemes. And so much less really dangerous is it to exalt, by constitutional enactments, the authority of a people, than to pamper, by the electioneering cajoleries of a selfish ambition, the prejudices which thus settle into vices, or the momentary exigences thus fixed into permanent demands.

II. While the arts or manners of Cimon conciliated the favour, his integrity won the esteem, of the people. In Aristides he found the example, not more of his aristocratic politics than of his lofty honour. A deserter from Persia, having arrived at Athens with great treasure, and being harassed by informers, sought the protection of Cimon by gifts of money.

"Would you have me," said the Athenian, smiling, "your mercenary or your friend?"

"My friend!" replied the barbarian.

"Then take back your gifts." [153]

III. In the mean while the new ascendency of Athens was already endangered. The Carystians in the neighbouring isle of Euboea openly defied her fleet, and many of the confederate states, seeing themselves delivered from all immediate dread of another invasion of the Medes, began to cease contributions both to the Athenian navy and the common treasury. For a danger not imminent, service became burdensome and taxation odious. And already some well-founded jealousy of the ambition of Athens increased the reluctance to augment her power. Naxos was the first island that revolted from the conditions of the league, and thither Cimon, having reduced the Carystians, led a fleet numerous and well equipped.

Whatever the secret views of Cimon for the aggrandizement of his country, he could not but feel himself impelled by his own genius and the popular expectation not lightly to forego that empire of the sea, rendered to Athens by the profound policy of Themistocles and the fortunate prudence of Aristides; and every motive of Grecian, as well as Athenian, policy justified the subjugation of the revolters--an evident truth in the science of state policy, but one somewhat hastily lost sight of by those historians who, in the subsequent and unlooked- for results, forgot the necessity of the earlier enterprise. Greece had voluntarily intrusted to Athens the maritime command of the confederate states. To her, Greece must consequently look for no diminution of the national resources committed to her charge; to her, that the conditions of the league were fulfilled, and the common safety of Greece ensured. Commander of the forces, she was answerable for the deserters. Nor, although Persia at present remained tranquil and inert, could the confederates be considered safe from her revenge. No compact of peace had been procured. The more than suspected intrigues of Xerxes with Pausanias were sufficient proofs that the great king did not yet despair of the conquest of Greece. And the peril previously incurred in the want of union among the several states was a solemn warning not to lose the advantages of that league, so tardily and so laboriously cemented. Without great dishonour and without great imprudence, Athens could not forego the control with which she had been invested; if it were hers to provide the means, it was hers to punish the defaulters; and her duty to Greece thus decorously and justly sustained her ambition for herself.

IV. And now it is necessary to return to the fortunes of Pausanias, involving in their fall the ruin of one of far loftier virtues and more unequivocal renown. The recall of Pausanias, the fine inflicted upon him, his narrow escape from a heavier sentence, did not suffice to draw him, intoxicated as he was with his hopes and passions, from his bold and perilous intrigues. It is not improbable that his mind was already tainted with a certain insanity [154]. And it is a curious physiological fact, that the unnatural constraints of Sparta, when acting on strong passions and fervent imaginations, seem, not unoften, to have produced a species of madness. An anecdote is recorded [155], which, though romantic, is not perhaps wholly fabulous, and which invests with an interest yet more dramatic the fate of the conqueror of Plataea.

At Byzantium, runs the story, he became passionately enamoured of a young virgin named Cleonice. Awed by his power and his sternness, the parents yielded her to his will. The modesty of the maiden made her stipulate that the room might be in total darkness when she stole to his embraces. But unhappily, on entering, she stumbled against the light, and the Spartan, asleep at the time, imagined, in the confusion of his sudden waking, that the noise was occasioned by one of his numerous enemies seeking his chamber with the intent to assassinate him. Seizing the Persian cimeter [156] that lay beside him, he plunged it in the breast of the intruder, and the object of his passion fell dead at his feet. "From that hour," says the biographer, "he could rest no more!" A spectre haunted his nights--the voice of the murdered girl proclaimed doom to his ear. It is added, and, if we extend our belief further, we must attribute the apparition to the skill of the priests, that, still tortured by the ghost of Cleonice, he applied to those celebrated necromancers who, at Heraclea [157], summoned by gloomy spells the manes of the dead, and by their aid invoked the spirit he sought to appease. The shade of Cleonice appeared and told him, "that soon after his return to Sparta he would be delivered from all his troubles." [158]

Such was the legend repeated, as Plutarch tells us, by many historians; the deed itself was probable, and conscience, even without necromancy, might supply the spectre.

V. Whether or not this story have any foundation in fact, the conduct of Pausanias seems at least to have partaken of that inconsiderate recklessness which, in the ancient superstition, preceded the vengeance of the gods. After his trial he had returned to Byzantium, without the consent of the Spartan government. Driven thence by the resentment of the Athenians [159], he repaired, not to Sparta, but to Colonae, in Asia Minor, and in the vicinity of the ancient Troy; and there he renewed his negotiations with the Persian king. Acquainted with his designs, the vigilant ephors despatched to him a herald with the famous scytale. This was an instrument peculiar to the Spartans. To every general or admiral, a long black staff was entrusted; the magistrates kept another exactly similar. When they had any communication to make, they wrote it on a roll of parchment, applied it to their own staff, fold upon fold--then cutting it off, dismissed it to the chief. The characters were so written that they were confused and unintelligible until fastened to the stick, and thus could only be construed by the person for whose eye they were intended, and to whose care the staff was confided.

The communication Pausanias now received was indeed stern and laconic. "Stay," it said, "behind the herald, and war is proclaimed against you by the Spartans."


Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book IV. - 5/19

Previous Page     Next Page

  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9   10   19 

Schulers Books Home



 Games Menu

Home
Balls
Battleship
Buzzy
Dice Poker
Memory
Mine
Peg
Poker
Tetris
Tic Tac Toe

Google
 
Web schulers.com
 

Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything