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- Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book I. - 2/29 -


Spartans Combine with the Alcmaeonidae against Hippias.--The fall of the Tyranny.--The Innovations of Clisthenes.--His Expulsion and Restoration.--Embassy to the Satrap of Sardis. --Retrospective View of the Lydian, Medean, and Persian Monarchies.--Result of the Athenian Embassy to Sardis.-- Conduct of Cleomenes.--Victory of the Athenians against the Boeotians and Chalcidians.--Hippias arrives at Sparta.--The Speech of Sosicles the Corinthian.--Hippias retires to Sardis.

IV Histiaeus, Tyrant of Miletus, removed to Persia.--The Government of that City deputed to Aristagoras, who invades Naxos with the aid of the Persians.--Ill Success of that Expedition.--Aristagoras resolves upon Revolting from the Persians.--Repairs to Sparta and to Athens.--The Athenians and Eretrians induced to assist the Ionians.--Burning of Sardis.--The Ionian War.--The Fate of Aristagoras.--Naval Battle of Lade.--Fall of Miletus.--Reduction of Ionia.-- Miltiades.--His Character.--Mardonius replaces Artaphernes in the Lydian Satrapy.--Hostilities between Aegina and Athens.--Conduct of Cleomenes.--Demaratus deposed.--Death Of Cleomenes.--New Persian Expedition.

V The Persian Generals enter Europe.--Invasion of Naxos, Carystus, Eretria.--The Athenians Demand the Aid of Sparta. --The Result of their Mission and the Adventure of their Messenger.--The Persians advance to Marathon.--The Plain Described.--Division of Opinion in the Athenian Camp.--The Advice of Miltiades prevails.--The Drear of Hippias.--The Battle of Marathon.

ATHENS: ITS RISE AND FALL

BOOK I.

CHAPTER I.

Situation and Soil of Attica.--The Pelasgians its earliest Inhabitants.--Their Race and Language akin to the Grecian.--Their varying Civilization and Architectural Remains.--Cecrops.--Were the earliest Civilizers of Greece foreigners or Greeks?--The Foundation of Athens.--The Improvements attributed to Cecrops.--The Religion of the Greeks cannot be reduced to a simple System.--Its Influence upon their Character and Morals, Arts and Poetry.--The Origin of Slavery and Aristocracy.

I. To vindicate the memory of the Athenian people, without disguising the errors of Athenian institutions;--and, in narrating alike the triumphs and the reverses--the grandeur and the decay--of the most eminent of ancient states, to record the causes of her imperishable influence on mankind, not alone in political change or the fortunes of fluctuating war, but in the arts, the letters, and the social habits, which are equal elements in the history of a people;--this is the object that I set before me;--not unreconciled to the toil of years, if, serving to divest of some party errors, and to diffuse through a wider circle such knowledge as is yet bequeathed to us of a time and land, fertile in august examples and in solemn warnings--consecrated by undying names and memorable deeds.

II. In that part of earth termed by the Greeks Hellas, and by the Romans Graecia [2], a small tract of land known by the name of Attica, extends into the Aegaean Sea--the southeast peninsula of Greece. In its greatest length it is about sixty, in its greatest breadth about twenty-four, geographical miles. In shape it is a rude triangle,--on two sides flows the sea--on the third, the mountain range of Parnes and Cithaeron divides the Attic from the Boeotian territory. It is intersected by frequent but not lofty hills, and, compared with the rest of Greece, its soil, though propitious to the growth of the olive, is not fertile or abundant. In spite of painful and elaborate culture, the traces of which are yet visible, it never produced a sufficiency of corn to supply its population; and this, the comparative sterility of the land, may be ranked among the causes which conduced to the greatness of the people. The principal mountains of Attica are, the Cape of Sunium, Hymettus, renowned for its honey, and Pentelicus for its marble; the principal streams which water the valleys are the capricious and uncertain rivulets of Cephisus and Ilissus [3],--streams breaking into lesser brooks, deliciously pure and clear. The air is serene--the climate healthful --the seasons temperate. Along the hills yet breathe the wild thyme, and the odorous plants which, everywhere prodigal in Greece, are more especially fragrant in that lucid sky;--and still the atmosphere colours with peculiar and various taints the marble of the existent temples and the face of the mountain landscapes.

III. I reject at once all attempt to penetrate an unfathomable obscurity for an idle object. I do not pause to inquire whether, after the destruction of Babel, Javan was the first settler in Attica, nor is it reserved for my labours to decide the solemn controversy whether Ogyges was the contemporary of Jacob or of Moses. Neither shall I suffer myself to be seduced into any lengthened consideration of those disputes, so curious and so inconclusive, relative to the origin of the Pelasgi (according to Herodotus the earliest inhabitants of Attica), which have vainly agitated the learned. It may amuse the antiquary to weigh gravely the several doubts as to the derivation of their name from Pelasgus or from Peleg--to connect the scattered fragments of tradition--and to interpret either into history or mythology the language of fabulous genealogies. But our subtlest hypotheses can erect only a fabric of doubt, which, while it is tempting to assault, it is useless to defend. All that it seems to me necessary to say of the Pelasgi is as follows:--They are the earliest race which appear to have exercised a dominant power in Greece. Their kings can be traced by tradition to a time long prior to the recorded genealogy of any other tribe, and Inachus, the father of the Pelasgian Phoroneus, is but another name for the remotest era to which Grecian chronology can ascend [4]. Whether the Pelasgi were anciently a foreign or a Grecian tribe, has been a subject of constant and celebrated discussion. Herodotus, speaking of some settlements held to be Pelaigic, and existing in his time, terms their language "barbarous;" but Mueller, nor with argument insufficient, considers that the expression of the historian would apply only to a peculiar dialect; and the hypothesis is sustained by another passage in Herodotus, in which he applies to certain Ionian dialects the same term as that with which he stigmatizes the language of the Pelasgic settlements. In corroboration of Mueller's opinion we may also observe, that the "barbarous-tongued" is an epithet applied by Homer to the Carians, and is rightly construed by the ancient critics as denoting a dialect mingled and unpolished, certainly not foreign. Nor when the Agamemnon of Sophocles upbraids Teucer with "his barbarous tongue," [6] would any scholar suppose that Teucer is upbraided with not speaking Greek; he is upbraided with speaking Greek inelegantly and rudely. It is clear that they who continued with the least adulteration a language in its earliest form, would seem to utter a strange and unfamiliar jargon to ears accustomed to its more modern construction. And, no doubt, could we meet with a tribe retaining the English of the thirteenth century, the language of our ancestors would be to most of us unintelligible, and seem to many of us foreign. But, however the phrase of Herodotus be interpreted, it would still be exceedingly doubtful whether the settlements he refers to were really and originally Pelasgic, and still more doubtful whether, if Pelasgia they had continued unalloyed and uncorrupted their ancestral language. I do not, therefore, attach any importance to the expression of Herodotus. I incline, on the contrary, to believe, with the more eminent of English scholars, that the language of the Pelasgi contained at least the elements of that which we acknowledge as the Greek;--and from many arguments I select the following:

1st. Because, in the states which we know to have been peopled by the Pelasgi (as Arcadia and Attica), and whence the population were not expelled by new tribes, the language appears no less Greek than that of those states from which the Pelasgi were the earliest driven. Had they spoken a totally different tongue from later settlers, I conceive that some unequivocal vestiges of the difference would have been visible even to the historical times.

2dly. Because the Hellenes are described as few at first--their progress is slow--they subdue, but they do not extirpate; in such conquests--the conquests of the few settled among the many--the language of the many continues to the last; that of the few would influence, enrich, or corrupt, but never destroy it.

3dly. Because, whatever of the Grecian language pervades the Latin [7], we can only ascribe to the Pelasgic colonizers of Italy. In this, all ancient writers, Greek and Latin, are agreed. The few words transmitted to us as Pelasgic betray the Grecian features, and the Lamina Borgiana (now in the Borgian collection of Naples, and discovered in 1783) has an inscription relative to the Siculi or Sicani, a people expelled from their Italian settlements before any received date of the Trojan war, of which the character is Pelasgic-- the language Greek.

IV. Of the moral state of the Pelasgi our accounts are imperfect and contradictory. They were not a petty horde, but a vast race, doubtless divided, like every migratory people, into numerous tribes, differing in rank, in civilization [8], and in many peculiarities of character. The Pelasgi in one country might appear as herdsmen or as savages; in another, in the same age, they might appear collected into cities and cultivating the arts. The history of the East informs us with what astonishing rapidity a wandering tribe, once settled, grew into fame and power; the camp of to-day--the city of to-morrow--and the "dwellers in the wilderness setting up the towers and the palaces thereof." [9] Thus, while in Greece this mysterious people are often represented as the aboriginal race, receiving from Phoenician and Egyptian settlers the primitive blessings of social life, in Italy we behold them the improvers in agriculture [10] and first teachers of letters. [11]

Even so early as the traditional appearance of Cecrops among the savages of Attica, the Pelasgians in Arcadia had probably advanced from the pastoral to the civil life; and this, indeed, is the date assigned by Pausanias to the foundation of that ancestral Lycosura, in whose rude remains (by the living fountain and the waving oaks of the modern Diaphorte) the antiquary yet traces the fortifications of "the first city which the sun beheld." [12] It is in their buildings that the Pelasgi have left the most indisputable record of their name. Their handwriting is yet upon their walls! A restless and various people--overrunning the whole of Greece, found northward in Dacia, Illyria, and the country of the Getae, colonizing the coasts of Ionia,


Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book I. - 2/29

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