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- Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book V. - 5/25 -


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 formerly acted upon in England, to which many political philosophers now incline, and which is yet adopted in the practice of a great and enlightened portion of the world, that the members of the legislative assembly should receive salaries. This principle was now applied in Athens [294]. But there the people themselves were the legislative assembly, and thus a principle, perhaps sound in itself, became vitiated to the absurdity of the people as sovereign paying the people as legislative. Yet even this might have been necessary to the preservation of the constitution, as meetings became numerous and business complicated; for if the people had not been tempted and even driven to assemble in large masses, the business of the state would have been jobbed away by active minorities, and the life of a democracy been lost [295]. The payment was first one obolus-- afterward increased to three. Nor must we suppose, as the ignorance or effrontery of certain modern historians has strangely asserted, that in the new system of payments the people were munificent only to themselves. The senate was paid--the public advocates and orators were paid--so were the ambassadors, the inspectors of the youths in the trading schools, the nomothetae or law-commissioners, the physicians, the singers, even the poets; all the servants of the different officers received salaries. And now, as is the inevitable consequence of that civilization in a commercial society which multiplies and strongly demarcates the divisions of labour, the safety of the state no longer rested solely upon the unpurchased arms and hearts of its citizens--but not only were the Athenians themselves who served as soldiers paid, but foreign mercenaries were engaged--a measure in consonance with the characteristic policy of Pericles, which was especially frugal of the lives of the citizens. But peculiar to the Athenians of all the Grecian states was the humane and beautiful provision for the poor, commenced under Solon or Pisistratus. At this happy and brilliant period few were in need of it--war and disaster, while they increased the number of the destitute, widened the charity of the state.

XVI. Thus, then, that general system of payment which grew up under Pericles, and produced many abuses under his successors, was, after all, but the necessary result of the increased civilization and opulence of the period. Nor can we wonder that the humbler or the middle orders, who, from their common stock, lavished generosity upon genius [296], and alone, of all contemporaneous states, gave relief to want--who maintained the children of all who died in war--who awarded remunerations for every service, should have deemed it no grasping exaction to require for their own attendance on offices forced on them by the constitution a compensation for the desertion of their private affairs, little exceeding that which was conferred upon the very paupers of the state. [297]

XVII. But there was another abuse which sprang out of the wealth of the people, and that love for spectacles and exhibitions which was natural to the lively Ionic imagination, and could not but increase as leisure and refinement became boons extended to the bulk of the population--an abuse trifling in itself--fatal in the precedent it set. While the theatre was of wood, free admissions were found to produce too vast a concourse for the stability of the building; and once, indeed, the seats gave way. It was, therefore, long before the present period, deemed advisable to limit the number of the audience by a small payment of two obols for each seat; and this continued after a stately edifice of stone replaced the wooden temple of the earlier drama.

But as riches flowed into the treasury, and as the drama became more and more the most splendid and popular of the national exhibitions, it seemed but just to return to the ancient mode of gratuitous admissions. It was found, however, convenient, partly, perhaps, for greater order and for the better allotment of the seats--partly, also, for the payment of several expenses which fell not on the state, but individuals--and partly, no doubt, to preserve the distinctions between the citizens and the strangers, to maintain the prices, but to allow to those whose names were enrolled in the book of the citizens the admittance money from the public treasury. This fund was called the THEORICON. But the example once set, Theorica were extended to other festivals besides those of the drama [298], and finally, under the plausible and popular pretext of admitting the poorer classes to those national or religious festivals, from which, as forming the bulk of the nation, it was against the theory of the constitution to exclude them, paved the way to lavish distributions of the public money, which at once tended to exhaust the wealth of the state, and to render effeminate and frivolous the spirit of the people. But these abuses were not yet visible: on the contrary, under Pericles, the results of the Theoricon were highly favourable to the manners and genius of the people. Art was thus rendered the universal right, and while refinement of taste became diffused, the patriotism of the citizens was increased by the consciousness that they were the common and legitimate arbiters of all which augmented the splendour and renown of Athens.

Thus, in fact, the after evils that resulted from the more popular part of the internal policy of Pericles, it was impossible to foresee; they originated not in a single statement, but in the very nature of civilization. And as in despotisms, a coarse and sensual luxury, once established, rots away the vigour and manhood of a conquering people, so in this intellectual republic it was the luxury of the intellect which gradually enervated the great spirit of the victor race of Marathon and Salamis, and called up generations of eloquent talkers and philosophical dreamers from the earlier age of active freemen, restless adventurers, and hardy warriors. The spirit of poetry, or the pampered indulgence of certain faculties to the prejudice of others, produced in a whole people what it never fails to produce in the individual: it unfitted them just as they grew up into a manhood exposed to severer struggles than their youth had undergone--for the stern and practical demands of life; and suffered the love of the beautiful to subjugate or soften away the common knowledge of the useful. Genius itself became a disease, and poetry assisted towards the euthanasia of the Athenians.

XVIII. As all the measures of Pericles were directed towards consolidating the Athenian empire, so under his administration was not omitted the politic expedient of colonization. Of late years, states having become confirmed and tribes settled, the Grecian migrations were far less frequent than of old; and one principal cause of colonization, in the violent feud of parties, and the expulsion of a considerable number of citizens, arose from the disasters of infant communities, and was no longer in force under the free but strong government of Athens. As with the liberties fell the commerce of Miletus and Ionia, so also another principal source of the old colonization became comparatively languid and inert. But now, under the name of Cleruchi [299], a new description of colonists arose-- colonists by whom the mother country not only draughted off a redundant population, or rid herself of restless adventurers, but struck the roots of her empire in the various places that came under her control. In the classic as in the feudal age, conquest gave the right to the lands of the conquered country. Thus had arisen, and thus still existed, upon the plundered lands of Laconia, the commonwealth of Sparta--thus were maintained the wealthy and luxurious nobles of Thessaly--and thus, in fine, were created all the ancient Dorian oligarchies. After the return of the Heraclidae, this mode of consummating conquest fell into disuse, not from any moral conviction of its injustice, but because the wars between the various states rarely terminated in victories so complete as to permit the seizure of the land and the subjugation of the inhabitants. And it must be ever remembered, that the old Grecian tribes made war to procure a settlement, and not to increase dominion. The smallness of their population rendered human life too valuable to risk its waste in the expeditions that characterized the ambition of the leaders of oriental hordes. But previous to the Persian wars, the fertile meadows of Euboea presented to the Athenians a temptation it could scarcely be expected that victorious neighbours would have the abstinence to forego; and we have seen that they bestowed the lands of the Hippobotae on Athenian settlers. These colonists evacuated their possessions during the Persian war: the Hippobotae returned, and seem to have held quiet, but probably tributary, possession of their ancient estates, until after the recent retreat of the Peloponnesians. Pericles defeated and displaced them; their lands fell once more to Athenian colonists; and the north of Euboea was protected and garrisoned by the erection of Oreus, a new town that supplanted the old Histiaea. Territories in Scyros, Lemnos, and Imbros had been also bestowed on Athenian settlers during the earlier successes of the Athenian arms--and the precedent thus set, examples became more numerous, under the profound and systematic policy of Pericles. This mode of colonization, besides the ordinary advantages of all colonization, proffered two peculiar to itself. In the first place, it supplied the deficiency of land, which was one of the main inconveniences of Attica, and rewarded the meritorious or appeased the avaricious citizens, with estates which it did not impoverish the mother country to grant. 2dly. It secured the conquests of the state by planting garrisons which it cost little to maintain [300]. Thus were despatched by Pericles a thousand men to the valuable possessions in the Chersonese, two hundred and fifty to Andros, five hundred to Naxos, a thousand to Thrace. At another period, the date of which is uncertain, but probably shortly subsequent to the truce with the Peloponnesians, a large fleet, commanded by Pericles, swept the Euxine, in order to awe and impress the various states and nations along the adjacent coasts, whether Greek or barbarian, with the display of the Athenian power; and the city of Sinope, being at that time divided with contentions for and against its tyrant Timesilaus, the republican party applied to the head of the Greek democracies for aid. Lamachus, a warrior to whose gallant name, afterward distinguished in the Peloponnesian war, Aristophanes has accorded the equal honour of his ridicule and his praise, was intrusted with thirteen galleys and a competent force for the expulsion of the tyrant and his adherents. The object effected, the new government of Sinope rewarded six hundred Athenians with the freedom of the city and the estates of the defeated faction.

While thus Athens fixed her footing on remoter lands, gradually her grasp extended over the more near and necessary demesnes of Euboea, until the lands of more than two thirds of that island were in the


Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book V. - 5/25

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