Athens: Its Rise and Fall, Book II.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Part 3 out of 3

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.

[121] Pausanias, lib. v.

[122] When Phidias was asked on what idea he should form his statue,
he answered by quoting the well-known verses of Homer, on the curls
and nod of the thunder god.

[123] I am of course aware that the popular story that Herodotus read
portions of his history at Olympia has been disputed--but I own I
think it has been disputed with very indifferent success against the
testimony of competent authorities, corroborated by the general
practice of the time.

[124] We find, indeed, that the Messenians continued to struggle
against their conquerors, and that about the time of the battle of
Marathon they broke out into a resistance sometimes called the third
war.--Plato, Leg. III.

[125] Suppose Vortigern to have been expelled by the Britons, and to
have implored the assistance of the Saxons to reinstate him in his
throne, the Return of Vortigern would have been a highly popular name
for the invasion of the Saxons. So, if the Russians, after Waterloo,
had parcelled out France, and fixed a Cossack settlement in her
"violet vales," the destruction of the French would have been still
urbanely entitled "The Return of the Bourbons."

[126] According to Herodotus, the Spartan tradition assigned the
throne to Aristodemus himself, and the regal power was not divided
till after his death.

[127] He wrote or transcribed them, is the expression of Plutarch,
which I do not literally translate, because this touches upon very
disputed ground.

[128] "Sometimes the states," says Plutarch, "veered to democracy--
sometimes to arbitrary power;" that is, at one time the nobles invoked
the people against the king; but if the people presumed too far, they
supported the king against the people. If we imagine a confederacy of
Highland chiefs even a century or two ago--give them a nominal king--
consider their pride and their jealousy--see them impatient of
authority in one above them, yet despotic to those below--quarrelling
with each other--united only by clanship, never by citizenship;--and
place them in a half-conquered country, surrounded by hostile
neighbours and mutinous slaves--we may then form, perhaps, some idea
of the state of Sparta previous to the legislation of Lycurgus.

[129] When we are told that the object of Lycurgus was to root out
the luxury and effeminacy existent in Sparta, a moment's reflection
tells us that effeminacy and luxury could not have existed. A tribe
of fierce warriors, in a city unfortified--shut in by rocks--harassed
by constant war--gaining city after city from foes more civilized,
stubborn to bear, and slow to yield--maintaining a perilous yoke over
the far more numerous races they had subdued--what leisure, what
occasion had such men to become effeminate and luxurious?

[130] See Mueller's Dorians, vol. ii., p. 12 (Translation).

[131] In the same passage Aristotle, with that wonderful sympathy in
opinion between himself and the political philosophers of our own day,
condemns the principle of seeking and canvassing for suffrages.

[132] In this was preserved the form of royalty in the heroic times.
Aristotle well remarks, that in the council Agamemnon bears reproach
and insult, but in the field he becomes armed with authority over life
itself--"Death is in his hand."

[133] Whereas the modern republics of Italy rank among the causes
which prevented their assuming a widely conquering character, their
extreme jealousy of their commanders, often wisely ridiculed by the
great Italian historians; so that a baggage-cart could scarcely move,
or a cannon be planted, without an order from the senate!

[134] Mueller rightly observes, that though the ephoralty was a
common Dorian magistrature, "yet, considered as an office, opposed to
the king and council, it is not for that reason less peculiar to the
Spartans; and in no Doric, nor even in any Grecian state is there any
thing which exactly corresponds with it."

[135] They rebuked Archidamus for having married too small a wife.
See Mueller's Dorians, vol. ii. (Translation), p. 124, and the
authorities he quotes.

[136] Aristot. Pol., lib. ii., c. 9.

[137] Idem.

[138] These remarks on the democratic and representative nature of
the ephoralty are only to be applied to it in connexion with the
Spartan people. It must be remembered that the ephors represented the
will of that dominant class, and not of the Laconians or Perioeci, who
made the bulk of the non-enslaved population; and the democracy of
their constitution was therefore but the democracy of an oligarchy.

[139] Machiavel (Discourses on the first Decade of Livy, b. i., c.
vi.), attributes the duration of the Spartan government to two main
causes--first, the fewness of the body to be governed, allowing
fewness in the governors; and secondly, the prevention of all the
changes and corruption which the admission of strangers would have
occasioned. He proceeds then to show that for the long duration of a
constitution the people should be few in number, and all popular
impulse and innovation checked; yet that, for the splendour and
greatness of a state, not only population should be encouraged, but
even political ferment and agitation be leniently regarded. Sparta is
his model for duration, republican Rome for progress and empire. "To
my judgment," the Florentine concludes, "I prefer the latter, and for
the strife and emulation between the nobles and the people, they are
to be regarded indeed as inconveniences, but necessary to a state that
would rise to the Roman grandeur."

[140] Plut. de Musica.

[141] At Corinth they were abolished by Periander as favourable to an
aristocracy, according to Aristotle; but a better reason might be that
they were dangerous to tyranny.

[142] "Yet, although goods were appropriated, their uses," says
Aristotle, "were freely communicated,--a Spartan could use the horses,
the slaves, the dogs, and carriages of another." If this were to be
taken literally, it is difficult to see how a Spartan could be poor.
We must either imagine that different times are confounded, or that
limitations with which we are unacquainted were made in this system of

[143] See, throughout the Grecian history, the Helots collecting the
plunder of the battle-field, hiding it from the gripe of their lords,
and selling gold at the price of brass!

[144] Aristotle, who is exceedingly severe on the Spartan ladies,
says very shrewdly, that the men were trained to submission to a civil
by a military system, while the women were left untamed. A Spartan
hero was thus made to be henpecked. Yet, with all the alleged
severity of the Dorian morals, these sturdy matrons rather discarded
the graces than avoided the frailties of their softer contemporaries.
Plato [Plat. de legibus, lib. i. and lib. vi.] and Aristotle [Aristot.
Repub., lib. ii.] give very unfavourable testimonials of their
chastity. Plutarch, the blind panegyrist of Sparta, observes with
amusing composure, that the Spartan husbands were permitted to lend
their wives to each other; and Polybius (in a fragment of the 12th
book) [Fragm. Vatican., tom. ii., p. 384.] informs us that it was an
old-fashioned and common custom in Sparta for three or four brothers
to share one wife. The poor husbands!--no doubt the lady was a match
for them all! So much for those gentle creatures whom that grave
German professor, M. Mueller, holds up to our admiration and despair.

[145] In Homer the condition of the slave seems, everywhere, tempered
by the kindness and indulgence of the master.

[146] Three of the equals always attended the king's person in war.

[147] The institution of the ephors has been, with probability,
referred to this epoch--chosen at first as the viceroys in the absence
of the kings.

[148] Pausanias, Messenics.

[149] See Mueller's Dorians, vol. i., p. 172, and Clinton's Fast.
Hell. vol. i., p. 183.

[150] For the dates here given of the second Messenian war see Fast.
Hell., vol. i., 190, and Appendix 2.

[151] Now called Messina.

[152] In Phocis were no less than twenty-two states (poleis); in
Boeotia, fourteen; in Achaia, ten. The ancient political theorists
held no community too small for independence, provided the numbers
sufficed for its defence. We find from Plato that a society of five
thousand freemen capable of bearing arms was deemed powerful enough to
constitute an independent state. One great cause of the ascendency of
Athens and Sparta was, that each of those cities had from an early
period swept away the petty independent states in their several
territories of Attica and Laconia.

[153] Machiavel (Discor., lib. i., c. ii.).

[154] Lib. iv., c. 13.

[155] Aristotle cites among the advantages of wealth, that of being
enabled to train horses. Wherever the nobility could establish among
themselves a cavalry, the constitution was oligarchical. Yet, even in
states which did not maintain a cavalry (as Athens previous to the
constitution of Solon), an oligarchy was the first form of government
that rose above the ruins of monarchy.

[156] One principal method of increasing the popular action was by
incorporating the neighbouring villages or wards in one municipality
with the capital. By this the people gained both in number and in

[157] Sometimes in ancient Greece there arose a species of lawful
tyrants, under the name of Aesymnetes. These were voluntarily chosen
by the people, sometimes for life, sometimes for a limited period, and
generally for the accomplishment of some particular object. Thus was
Pittacus of Mitylene elected to conduct the war against the exiles.
With the accomplishment of the object he abdicated his power. But the
appointment of Aesymnetes can hardly be called a regular form of
government. They soon became obsolete--the mere creatures of
occasion. While they lasted, they bore a strong resemblance to the
Roman dictators--a resemblance remarked by Dionysius, who quotes
Theophrastus as agreeing with Aristotle in his account of the

[158] For, as the great Florentine has well observed, "To found well
a government, one man is the best--once established, the care and
execution of the laws should be transferred to many."--(Machiavel.
Discor., lib. i., c. 9.) And thus a tyranny builds the edifice, which
the republic hastens to inhabit.

[159] That of Orthagoras and his sons in Sicyon. "Of all
governments," says Aristotle, "that of an oligarchy, or of a tyrant,
is the least permanent." A quotation that cannot be too often pressed
on the memory of those reasoners who insist so much on the brief
duration of the ancient republics.

[160] Besides the representation necessary to confederacies--such as
the Amphictyonic League, etc., a representative system was adopted at
Mantinea, where the officers were named by deputies chosen by the
people. "This form of democracy," says Aristotle, "existed among the
shepherds and husbandmen of Arcadia;" and was probably not uncommon
with the ancient Pelasgians. But the myrioi of Arcadia had not the
legislative power.

[161] "Then to the lute's soft voice prolong the night,
Music, the banquet's most refined delight."
Pope's Odyssey, book xxi., 473.

It is stronger in the original--

Moltae kai phormingi tu gar t'anathaemata daitos.

[162] Iliad, book ix., Pope's translation, line 250.

[163] Heyne, F. Clinton, etc.

[164] Pope's translation, b. iv., line 75, etc.

[165] At least this passage is sufficient to refute the arguments of
Mr. Mitford, and men more learned than that historian, who, in taking
for their premises as an indisputable fact the extraordinary
assumption, that Homer never once has alluded to the return of the
Heraclidae, arrive at a conclusion very illogical, even if the
premises were true, viz., that therefore Homer preceded the date of
that great revolution.

[166] I own that this seems to me the most probable way of accounting
for the singular and otherwise disproportioned importance attached by
the ancient poets to that episode in the Trojan war, which relates to
the feud of Achilles and Agamemnon. As the first recorded enmity
between the great Achaeans and the warriors of Phthiotis, it would
have a solemn and historical interest both to the conquering Dorians
and the defeated Achaeans, flattering to the national vanity of either

[167] I adopt the analysis of the anti-Homer arguments so clearly
given by Mr. Coleridge in his eloquent Introduction to the Study of
the Greek Poets. Homer, p. 39.

[168] en spanei biblon, are the words of Herodotus. Leaves and the
bark of trees were also used from a very remote period previous to the
common use of the papyrus, and when we are told that leaves would not
suffice for works of any length or duration, it must not be forgotten
that in a much later age it was upon leaves (and mutton bones) that
the Koran was transcribed. The rudest materials are sufficient for
the preservation of what men deem it their interest to preserve!

[169] See Clinton's F. H., vol. i., p. 145.

[170] Critics, indeed, discover some pretended gaps and
interpolations; but these, if conceded, are no proof against the unity
of Homer; the wonder is, that there should be so few of such
interpolations, considering the barbarous age which intervened between
their composition and the time in which they were first carefully
edited and collected. With more force it is urged against the
argument in favour of the unity of Homer, derived from the unity of
the style and character, that there are passages which modern critics
agree to be additions to the original poems, made centuries afterward,
and yet unsuspected by the ancients; and that in these additions--such
as the last books of the Iliad, with many others less important--the
Homeric unity of style and character is still sustained. We may
answer, however, that, in the first place, we have a right to be
skeptical as to these discoveries--many of them rest on very
insufficient critical grounds; in the second place, if we grant them,
it is one thing whether a forged addition be introduced into a poem,
and another thing whether the poem be all additions; in the third
place, we may observe, that successful imitations of the style and
characters of an author, however great, may be made many centuries
afterward with tolerable ease, and by a very inferior genius,
although, at the time he wrote or sung, it is not easy to suppose that
half a dozen or more poets shared his spirit or style. It is a very
common scholastic trick to imitate, nowadays, and with considerable
felicity, the style of the greatest writers, ancient and modern. But
the unity of Homer does not depend on the question whether imitative
forgeries were introduced into a great poem, but whether a multitude
of great poets combined in one school on one subject. An ingenious
student of Shakspeare, or the elder dramatists, might impose upon the
public credulity a new scene, or even a new play, as belonging to
Shakspeare, but would that be any proof that a company of Shakspeares
combined in the production of Macbeth? I own, by-the-way, that I am a
little doubtful as to our acumen in ascertaining what is Homeric and
what is not, seeing that Schlegel, after devoting half a life to
Shakspeare (whose works are composed in a living language, the
authenticity of each of which works a living nation can attest),
nevertheless attributes to that poet a catalogue of plays of which
Shakspeare is perfectly innocent!--but, to be sure, Steevens does the

[171] That Pisistratus or his son, assisted by the poets of his day,
did more than collect, arrange, and amend poems already in high
repute, we have not only no authority to suppose, but much evidence to
contradict. Of the true services of Pisistratus to Homer, more

[172] "The descent of Theseus with Pirithous into hell," etc.--Paus.,
ix., c. 31.

[173] Especially if with the Boeotians we are to consider the most
poetical passage (the introductory lines to the muses) a spurious

[174] A herdsman.

[175] I cannot omit a tradition recorded by Pausanias. A leaden
table near the fountain was shown by the Boeotians as that on which
the "Works and Days" was written. The poems of Hesiod certainly do
not appear so adapted to recital as perusal. Yet, by the most
plausible chronology, they were only composed about one hundred years
after those of Homer!

[176] The Aones, Hyantes, and other tribes, which I consider part of
the great Pelasgic family, were expelled from Boeotia by Thracian
hordes. [They afterward returned in the time of the Dorian
emigration.] Some of the population must, however, have remained--the
peasantry of the land; and in Hesiod we probably possess the national
poetry, and arrive at the national religion, of the old Pelasgi.

[177] Welcker.

[178] The deadly signs which are traced by Praetus on the tablets of
which Bellerophon was the bearer, and which are referred to in the
Iliad, are generally supposed by the learned to have been pictorial,
and, as it were, hieroglyphical figures; my own belief, and the
easiest interpretation of the passage, is, that they were alphabetical
characters--in a word, writing, not painting.

[179] Pausanias, lib. i., c. 27, speaks of a wooden statue in the
Temple of Pohas, in Athens, said to have been the gift of Cecrops;
and, with far more claim to belief, in the previous chapter he tells
us that the most holy of all the images was a statue of Minerva,
which, by the common consent of all the towns before incorporated in
one city, was dedicated in the citadel, or polis. Tradition,
therefore, carried the date of this statue beyond the time of Theseus.
Plutarch also informs us that Theseus himself, when he ordained divine
honours to be paid to Ariadne, ordered two little statues to be made
of her--one of silver and one of brass.

[180] All that Homer calls the work of Vulcan, such as the dogs in
the palace of Alcinous, etc., we may suppose to be the work of
foreigners. A poet could scarcely attribute to the gods a work that
his audience knew an artificer in their own city had made!

[181] See Odyssey, book vii.

[182] The effect of the arts, habits, and manners of a foreign
country is immeasurably more important upon us if we visit that
country, than if we merely receive visits from its natives. For
example, the number of French emigrants who crowded our shores at the
time of the French revolution very slightly influenced English
customs, etc. But the effect of the French upon us when, after the
peace, our own countrymen flocked to France, was immense.

[183] Herod., lib. ii., c. 178.

[184] Grecian architecture seems to have been more free from
obligation to any technical secrets of Egyptian art than Grecian
statuary or painting. For, in the first place, it is more than
doubtful whether the Doric order was not invented in European Greece
long prior to the reign of Psammetichus [The earliest known temple at
Corinth is supposed by Col. Leake to bear date B. C. 800, about one
hundred and thirty years before the reign of Psammetichus in Egypt.];
and, in the second place, it is evident that the first hints and
rudiments both of the Doric and the Ionic order were borrowed, not
from buildings of the massive and perennial materials of Egyptian
architecture, but from wooden edifices; growing into perfection as
stone and marble were introduced, and the greater difficulty and
expense of the workmanship insensibly imposed severer thought and more
elaborate rules upon the architect. But I cannot agree with Mueller
and others, that because the first hints of the Doric order were taken
from wooden buildings, therefore the first invention was necessarily
with the Dorians, since many of the Asiatic cities were built chiefly
of wood. It seems to me most probable that Asia gave the first
notions of these beautiful forms, and that the Greeks carried them to
perfection before the Asiatics, not only from their keen perception of
the graceful, but because they earlier made a general use of stone.
We learn from Herodotus that the gorgeous Sardis was built chiefly of
wood, at a time when the marble of Paros was a common material of the
Grecian temples.

[185] Thales was one of the seven wise men, B. C. 586, when
Pherecydes of Syrus, the first prose writer, was about fourteen years
old. Mr. Clinton fixes the acme of Pherecydes about B. C. 572.
Cadmus of Miletus flourished B. C. 530.

[186] To this solution of the question, why literature should
generally commence with attempts at philosophy, may he added another:
--When written first breaks upon oral communication, the reading
public must necessarily be extremely confined. In many early nations,
that reading public would be composed of the caste of priests; in this
case philosophy would be cramped by superstition. In Greece, there
being no caste of priests, philosophy embraced those studious minds
addicted to a species of inquiry which rejected the poetical form, as
well as the poetical spirit. It may be observed, that the more
limited the reading public, the more abstruse are generally prose
compositions; as readers increase, literature goes back to the fashion
of oral communication; for if the reciter addressed the multitude in
the earlier age, so the writer addresses a multitude in the later;
literature, therefore, commences with poetical fiction, and usually
terminates with prose fiction. It was so in the ancient world--it
will he so with England and France. The harvest of novels is, I fear,
a sign of the approaching exhaustion of the soil.

[187] See chapter i.

[188] Instead of Periander of Corinth, is (by Plato, and therefore)
more popularly, but less justly, ranked Myson of Chene.

[189] Attributed also to Thales; Stob. Serm.

[190] Aristotle relates (Pol., lib. i.) a singular anecdote of the
means whereby this philosopher acquired wealth. His skill in
meteorology made him foresee that there would be one season an
extraordinary crop of olives. He hired during the previous winter all
the oil-presses in Chios and Miletus, employing his scanty fortune in
advances to the several proprietors. When the approaching season
showed the ripening crops, every man wished to provide olive-presses
as quickly as possible; and Thales, having them all, let them at a
high price. His monopoly made his fortune, and he showed to his
friends, says Aristotle, that it was very easy for philosophers to be
rich if they desire it, though such is not their principal desire;--
philosophy does not find the same facilities nowadays.

[191] Thus Homer is cited in proof of the progenital humidity,

"'Okeanos hosper ginesis pantos tet ktai;"

The Bryant race of speculators would attack us at once with "the
spirit moving on the face of the waters." It was not an uncommon
opinion in Greece that chaos was first water settling into slime, and
then into earth; and there are good but not sufficient reasons to
attribute a similar, and of course earlier, notion to the Phoenicians,
and still more perhaps to the Indians.

[192] Plut. de Plac. Phil.

[193] Ap. Stob. Serm.

[194] Laert.

[195] According to Clinton's chronology, viz., one year after the
legislation of Draco. This emendation of dates formerly received
throws considerable light upon the causes of the conspiracy, which
perhaps took its strength from the unpopularity and failure of Draco's
laws. Following the very faulty chronology which pervades his whole
work, Mr. Mitford makes the attempt of Cylon precede the legislation
of Draco.

[196] A cap.

[197] The expedition against Salamis under Solon preceded the arrival
of Epimenides at Athens, which was in 596. The legislation of Solon
was B. C. 594--the first tyranny of Pisistratus B. C. 560: viz.,
thirty-four years after Solon's legislation, and at least thirty-seven
years after Solon's expedition to Salamis. But Pisistratus lived
thirty-three years after his first usurpation, so that, if he had
acted in the first expedition to Salamis, he would have lived to an
age little short of one hundred, and been considerably past eighty at
the time of his third most brilliant and most energetic government!
The most probable date for the birth of Pisistratus is that assigned
by Mr. Clinton, about B. C. 595, somewhat subsequent to Solon's
expedition to Salamis, and only about a year prior to Solon's
legislation. According to this date, Pisistratus would have been
about sixty-eight at the time of his death. The error of Plutarch
evidently arose from his confounding two wars with Megara for Salamis,
attended with similar results--the first led by Solon, the second by
Pisistratus. I am the more surprised that Mr. Thirlwall should have
fallen into the error of making Pisistratus contemporary with Solon in
this affair, because he would fix the date of the recovery of Salamis
at B. C. 604 (see note to Thirlwall's Greece, p. 25, vol. ii.), and
would suppose Solon to be about thirty-two at that time (viz., twenty-
six years old in 612 B. C.). (See Thirlwall, vol. ii., p. 23, note.)
Now, as Pisistratus could not have been well less than twenty-one, to
have taken so prominent a share as that ascribed to him by Plutarch and
his modern followers, in the expedition, he must, according to such
hypothesis, have been only eleven years younger than Solon, have
perpetrated his first tyranny just before Solon died of old age, and
married a second wife when he was near eighty! Had this been the
case, the relations of the lady could not reasonably have been angry
that the marriage was not consummated!

[198] We cannot suppose, as the careless and confused Plutarch would
imply, that the people, or popular assembly, reversed the decree; the
government was not then democratic, but popular assemblies existed,
which, in extraordinary cases--especially, perhaps, in the case of
war--it was necessary to propitiate, and customary to appeal to. I
make no doubt that it was with the countenance and consent of the
archons that Solon made his address to the people, preparing them to
receive the repeal of the decree, which, without their approbation, it
might be unsafe to propose.

[199] As the quotation from Homer is extremely equivocal, merely
stating that Ajax joined the ships that he led from Salamis with those
of the Athenians, one cannot but suppose, that if Solon had really
taken the trouble to forge a verse, he would have had the common sense
to forge one much more decidedly in favour of his argument.

[200] Fifty-seven, according to Pliny.

[201] Plut. in Vit. Sol.

[202] Arist. Pol., lib. ii., c. 8.

[203] This regulation is probably of later date than the time of
Solon. To Pisistratus is referred a law for disabled citizens, though
its suggestion is ascribed to Solon. It was, however, a law that
evidently grew out of the principles of Solon.

[204] A tribe contained three phratries, or fraternities--a phratry
contained three genes or clans--a genos or clan was composed of thirty
heads of families. As the population, both in the aggregate and in
these divisions, must have been exposed to constant fluctuations, the
aforesaid numbers were most probably what we may describe as a fiction
in law, as Boeckh (Pol. Econ. of Athens, vol. i., p. 47, English
translation) observes, "in the same manner that the Romans called the
captain a centurion, even if he commanded sixty men, so a family might
have been called a triakas (i.e., a thirtiad), although it contained
fifty or more persons." It has been conjectured indeed by some, that
from a class not included in these families, vacancies in the
phratries were filled up; but this seems to be a less probable
supposition than that which I have stated above. If the numbers in
Pollux were taken from a census in the time of Solon, the four tribes
at that time contained three hundred and sixty families, each family
consisting of thirty persons; this would give a total population of
ten thousand eight hundred free citizens. It was not long before that
population nearly doubled itself, but the titles of the subdivisions
remained the same. I reserve for an appendix a more detailed and
critical view of the vehement but tedious disputes of the learned on
the complicated subject of the Athenian tribes and families.

[205] Boeckh (Pub. Econ. of Athens, book iv., chap. v.) contends,
from a law preserved by Demosthenes, that the number of measures for
the zeugitae was only one hundred and fifty. But his argument,
derived from the analogy of the sum to be given to an heiress by her
nearest relation, if he refused to marry her, is by no means
convincing enough to induce us to reject the proportion of two hundred
measures, "preserved (as Boeckh confesses) by all writers," especially
as in the time of Demosthenes. Boeckh himself, in a subsequent
passage, rightly observes, that the names of zeugitae, etc., could
only apply to new classes introduced in the place of those instituted
by Solon.

[206] With respect to the value of "a measure" in that time, it was
estimated at a drachma, and a drachma was the price of a sheep.

[207] The law against idleness is attributable rather to Pisistratus
than Solon.

[208] Athenaeus, lib. xiv.

[209] Plutarch de Gloria Athen. I do not in this sketch entirely
confine myself to Solon's regulations respecting the areopagus.

[210] The number of the areopagites depending upon the number of the
archons, was necessarily fluctuating and uncertain. An archon was not
necessarily admitted to the areopagus. He previously underwent a
rigorous and severe examination of the manner in which he had
discharged the duties of his office, and was liable to expulsion upon
proofs of immorality or unworthiness.

[211] Some modern writers have contended that at the time of Solon
the members of the council were not chosen by lot; their arguments are
not to me very satisfactory. But if merely a delegation of the
Eupatrids, as such writers suppose, the council would be still more
vicious in its constitution.

[212] Pollux.

[213] Aeschines in Timarch.

[214] Each member was paid (as in England once, as in America at this
day) a moderate sum (one drachma) for his maintenance, and at the
termination of his trust, peculiar integrity was rewarded with money
from the public treasury.

[215] When there were ten tribes, each tribe presided thirty-five
days, or five weeks; when the number was afterward increased to
twelve, the period of the presidency was one month.

[216] Atimos means rather unhonoured than dishonoured. He to whom,
in its milder degree, the word was applied, was rather withdrawn (as
it were) from honour than branded with disgrace. By rapid degrees,
however, the word ceased to convey its original meaning; it was
applied to offences so ordinary and common, that it sunk into a mere
legal term.

[217] The more heinous of the triple offences, termed eisangelia.

[218] This was a subsequent law; an obolus, or one penny farthing,
was the first payment; it was afterward increased to three oboli, or
threepence three farthings.

[219] Sometimes, also, the assembly was held in the Pnyx, afterward
so celebrated: latterly, also (especially in bad weather), in the
temple of Bacchus;--on extraordinary occasions, in whatever place was
deemed most convenient or capacious.

[220] Plato de Legibus.

[221] Plutarch assures us that Solon issued a decree that his laws
were to remain in force a hundred years: an assertion which modern
writers have rejected as incompatible with their constant revision.
It was not, however, so contradictory a decree as it seems at first
glance--for one of the laws not to be altered was this power of
amending and revising the laws. And, therefore, the enactment in
dispute would only imply that the constitution was not to be altered
except through the constitutional channel which Solon had appointed.

[222] See Fast. Hell., vol. ii., 276.

[223] Including, as I before observed, that law which provided for
any constitutional change in a constitutional manner.

[224] "Et Croesum quem vox justi facunda Solonis
Respicere ad longae jussit spatia ultima vitae."
Juv., Sat. x., s. 273.

The story of the interview and conversation between Croesus and Solon
is supported by so many concurrent authorities, that we cannot but
feel grateful to the modern learning, which has removed the only
objection to it in an apparent contradiction of dates. If, as
contended for by Larcher, still more ably by Wesseling, and since by
Mr. Clinton, we agree that Croesus reigned jointly with his father
Alyattes, the difficulty vanishes at once.

[225] Plutarch gives two accounts of the recovery of Salamis by
Solon; one of them, which is also preferred by Aelian (var. c. xix.,
lib. vii.), I have adopted and described in my narrative of that
expedition: the second I now give, but refer to Pisistratus, not
Solon: in support of which opinion I am indebted to Mr. Clinton for
the suggestion of two authorities. Aeneas Tacticus, in his Treatise
on Sieges, chap. iv., and Frontinus de Stratagem., lib. iv., cap.
vii.--Justin also favours the claim of Pisistratus to this stratagem,
lib. xi., c. viii.

[226] The most sanguine hope indeed that Cicero seems to have formed
with respect to the conduct of Cesar, was that he might deserve the
title of the Pisistratus of Rome.

[227] If we may, in this anecdote, accord to Plutarch (de Vit. Sol.)
and Aelian (Var. lib. viii., c. xvi.) a belief which I see no reason
for withholding.

[228] His own verses, rather than the narrative of Plutarch, are the
evidence of Solon's conduct on the usurpation of Pisistratus.

[229] This historian fixes the date of Solon's visit to Croesus and
to Cyprus (on which island he asserts him to have died), not during
his absence of ten years, but during the final exile for which he

[230] Herod., l. i., c. 49.

[231] The procession of the goddess of Reason in the first French
revolution solves the difficulty that perplexed Herodotus.

[232] Mr. Mitford considers this story as below the credit of
history. He gives no sufficient reason against its reception, and
would doubtless have been less skeptical had he known more of the
social habits of that time, or possessed more intimate acquaintance
with human nature generally.

[233] Upon which points, of men and money, Mr. Mitford, who is
anxious to redeem the character of Pisistratus from the stain of
tyranny, is dishonestly prevaricating. Quoting Herodotus, who
especially insists upon these undue sources of aid, in the following
words--'Errixose taen tyrannida, epikouroisi te polloisi kai
chraematon synodoisi, ton men, autothen, ton de, apo Strumanos potamou
synionton: this candid historian merely says, "A particular interest
with the ruling parties in several neighbouring states, especially
Thebes and Argos, and a wise and liberal use of a very great private
property, were the resources in which besides he mostly relied." Why
he thus slurs over the fact of the auxiliary forces will easily be
perceived. He wishes us to understand that the third tyranny of
Pisistratus, being wholesome, was also acceptable to the Athenians,
and not, as it in a great measure was, supported by borrowed treasure
and foreign swords.

[234] Who, according to Plutarch, first appeared at the return of
Solon; but the proper date for his exhibitions is ascertained (Fast.
Hell., vol. ii., p. 11) several years after Solon's death.

[235] These two wars, divided by so great an interval of time,--the
one terminated by Periander of Corinth, the other undertaken by
Pisistratus,--are, with the usual blundering of Mr. Mitford, jumbled
together into the same event. He places Alcaeus in the war following
the conquest of Sigeum by Pisistratus. Poor Alcaeus! the poet
flourished Olym. 42 (611 B. C.); the third tyranny of Pisistratus may
date somewhere about 537 B. C., so that Alcaeus, had he been alive in
the time ascribed by Mr. Mitford to his warlike exhibitions, would
have been (supposing him to be born twenty-six years before the date
of his celebrity in 611) just a hundred years old--a fitting age to
commence the warrior! The fact is, Mr. Mitford adopted the rather
confused account of Herodotus, without taking the ordinary pains to
ascertain dates, which to every one else the very names of Periander
and Alcaeus would have suggested.

[236] For the reader will presently observe the share taken by
Croesus in the affairs of this Miltiades during his government in the
Chersonesus; now Croesus was conquered by Cyrus about B. C. 546--it
must, therefore, have been before that period. But the third tyranny
of Pisistratus appears to have commenced nine years afterward, viz.,
B. C. 537. The second tyranny probably commenced only two years
before the fall of the Lydian monarchy, and seems to have lasted only
a year, and during that period Croesus no longer exercised over the
cities of the coast the influence he exerted with the people of
Lampsacus on behalf of Miltiades; the departure of Miltiades, son of
Cypselus, must therefore have been in the first tyranny, in the
interval 560 B. C.--554 B. C., and probably at the very commencement
of the reign--viz., about 550 B. C.

[237] In the East, the master of the family still sits before the
door to receive visiters or transact business.

[238] Thucydides, b. vi., c. 54. The dialogue of Hipparchus,
ascribed to Plato, gives a different story, but much of the same
nature. In matters of history, we cannot doubt which is the best
authority, Thucydides or Plato,--especially an apocryphal Plato.

[239] Although it is probable that the patriotism of Aristogiton and
Harmodius "the beloved" has been elevated in after times beyond its
real standard, yet Mr. Mitford is not justified in saying that it was
private revenge, and not any political motive, that induced them to
conspire the death of Hippias and Hipparchus. Had it been so, why
strike at Hippias at all?--why attempt to make him the first and
principal victim?--why assail Hipparchus (against whom only they had a
private revenge) suddenly, by accident, and from the impulse of the
moment, after the failure of their design on the tyrant himself, with
whom they had no quarrel? It is most probable that, as in other
attempts at revolution, that of Masaniello--that of Rienzi--public
patriotism was not created--it was stimulated and made passion by
private resentment.

[240] Mr. Mitford has most curiously translated this passage thus:
"Aristogiton escaped the attending guards, but, being taken by the
people (!!!) was not mildly treated. So Thucydides has expressed
himself." Now Thucydides says quite the reverse: he says that, owing
to the crowd of the people, the guard could not at first seize him.
How did Mr. Mitford make this strange blunder? The most charitable
supposition is, that, not reading the Greek, he was misled by an error
of punctuation in the Latin version.

[241] "Qui cum per tormenta conscios caedis nominare cogeretur," etc.
(Justin., lib. ii., chap. ix.) This author differs from the elder
writers as to the precise cause of the conspiracy.

[242] Herodotus says they were both Gephyraeans by descent; a race,
according to him, originally Phoenician.--Herod. b. v., c. 57.

[243] Mr. Mitford too hastily and broadly asserts the whole story of
Leaena to be a fable: if, as we may gather from Pausanias, the statue
of the lioness existed in his time, we may pause before we deny all
authenticity to a tradition far from inconsonant with the manners of
the time or the heroism of the sex.

[244] Thucyd., b. vi., c. 59.

[245] Herodotus, b. vi., c. 103. In all probability, the same
jealousy that murdered the father dismissed the son. Hippias was far
too acute and too fearful not to perceive the rising talents and
daring temper of Miltiades. By-the-way, will it be believed that
Mitford, in is anxiety to prove Hippias and Hipparchus the most
admirable persons possible, not only veils the unnatural passions of
the last, but is utterly silent about the murder of Cimon, which is
ascribed to the sons of Pisistratus by Herodotus, in the strongest and
gravest terms.--Mr. Thirlwall (Hist. of Greece, vol. ii., p. 223)
erroneously attributes the assassination of Cimon to Pisistratus

[246] Suidas. Laertius iv., 13, etc. Others, as Ammonius and
Simplicius ad Aristotelem, derive the name of Cynics given to these
philosophers from the ridicule attached to their manners.

[247] Whose ardour appears to have been soon damped. They lost but
forty men, and then retired at once to Thessaly. This reminds us of
the wars between the Italian republics, in which the loss of a single
horseman was considered no trifling misfortune. The value of the
steed and the rank of the horseman (always above the vulgar) made the
cavalry of Greece easily discouraged by what appears to us an
inconsiderable slaughter.

[248] Aelian. V. Hist. xiii., 24.

[249] Wachsm, l. i., p. 273. Others contend for a later date to this
most important change; but, on the whole, it seems a necessary
consequence of the innovations of Clisthenes, which were all modelled
upon the one great system of breaking down the influence of the
aristocracy. In the speech of Otanes (Herod., lib. iii., c. 80), it
is curious to observe how much the vote by lot was identified with a
republican form of government.

[250] See Sharon Turner, vol. i., book i.

[251] Herod., b. i., c. xxvi.

[252] Ctesias. Mr. Thirlwall, in my judgment, very properly contents
himself with recording the ultimate destination of Croesus as we find
it in Ctesias, to the rejection of the beautiful romance of Herodotus.
Justin observes that Croesus was so beloved among the Grecian cities,
that, had Cyrus exercised any cruelty against him, the Persian hero
would have drawn upon himself a war with Greece.

[253] After his fall, Croesus is said by Herodotus to have reproached
the Pythian with those treacherous oracles that conduced to the loss
of his throne, and to have demanded if the gods of Greece were usually
delusive and ungrateful. True to that dark article of Grecian faith
which punished remote generations for ancestral crimes, the Pythian
replied, that Croesus had been fated to expiate in his own person the
crimes of Gyges, the murderer of his master;--that, for the rest, the
declarations of the oracle had been verified; the mighty empire,
denounced by the divine voice, had been destroyed, for it was his own,
and the mule, Cyrus, was presiding over the Lydian realm: a mule might
the Persian hero justly be entitled, since his parents were of
different ranks and nations. His father a low-born Persian--his
mother a Median princess. Herodotus assures us that Croesus was
content with the explanation--if so, the god of song was more
fortunate than the earthly poets he inspires, who have indeed often,
imitating his example, sacrificed their friends to a play upon words,
without being so easily able to satisfy their victims.

[254] Herod., l. v., c. 74.

[255] If colonists they can properly be called--they retained their
connexion with Athens, and all their rights of franchise.

[256] Herod., l. v., c. 78.

[257] Mr. Mitford, constantly endeavouring to pervert the simple
honesty of Herodotus to a sanction of despotic governments, carefully
slurs over this remarkable passage.

[258] Pausanias, b. iii., c. 5 and 6.

[259] Mr. Mitford, always unduly partial to the Spartan policy,
styles Cleomenes "a man violent in his temper, but of considerable
abilities." There is no evidence of his abilities. His restlessness
and ferocity made him assume a prominent part which he was never
adequate to fulfil: he was, at best, a cunning madman.

[260] Why, if discovered so long since by Cleomenes, were they
concealed till now? The Spartan prince, afterward detected in bribing
the oracle itself, perhaps forged these oracular predictions.

[261] Herod., b. v. c. 91.

[262] What is the language of Mr. Mitford at this treason? "We have
seen," says that historian, "the democracy of Athens itself setting
the example (among the states of old Greece) of soliciting Persian
protection. Will, then, the liberal spirit of patriotism and equal
government justify the prejudices of Athenian faction (!!!) and doom
Hippias to peculiar execration, because, at length, he also, with many
of his fellow-citizens, despairing of other means for ever returning
to their native country, applied to Artaphernes at Sardis?" It is
difficult to know which to admire most, the stupidity or dishonesty of
this passage. The Athenian democracy applied to Persia for relief
against the unjust invasion of their city and liberties by a foreign
force; Hippias applied to Persia, not only to interfere in the
domestic affairs of a free state, but to reduce that state, his native
city, to the subjection of the satrap. Is there any parallel between
these cases? If not, what dulness in instituting it! But the
dishonesty is equal to the dulness. Herodotus, the only author Mr.
Mitford here follows, expressly declares (I. v., c. 96) that Hippias
sought to induce Artaphernes to subject Athens to the sway of the
satrap and his master, Darius; yet Mr. Mitford says not a syllable of
this, leaving his reader to suppose that Hippias merely sought to be
restored to his country through the intercession of the satrap.

[263] Herod., l. v., c. 96.

[264] Aulus Gellius, who relates this anecdote with more detail than
Herodotus, asserts that the slave himself was ignorant of the
characters written on his scull, that Histiaeus selected a domestic
who had a disease in his eyes--shaved him, punctured the skin, and
sending him to Miletus when the hair was grown, assured the credulous
patient that Aristagoras would complete the cure by shaving him a
second time. According to this story we must rather admire the
simplicity of the slave than the ingenuity of Histiaeus.

[265] Rather a hyperbolical expression--the total number of free
Athenians did not exceed twenty thousand.

[266] The Paeonians.

[267] Hecataeus, the historian of Miletus, opposed the retreat to
Myrcinus, advising his countrymen rather to fortify themselves in the
Isle of Leros, and await the occasion to return to Miletus. This
early writer seems to have been one of those sagacious men who rarely
obtain their proper influence in public affairs, because they address
the reason in opposition to the passions of those they desire to lead.
Unsuccessful in this proposition, Hecataeus had equally failed on two
former occasions;--first, when he attempted to dissuade the Milesians
from the revolt of Aristagoras: secondly, when, finding them bent upon
it, he advised them to appropriate the sacred treasures in the temple
at Branchidae to the maintenance of a naval force. On each occasion
his advice failed precisely because given without prejudice or
passion. The successful adviser must appear to sympathize even with
the errors of his audience.

[268] The humane Darius--whose virtues were his own, his faults of
his station--treated the son of Miltiades with kindness and respect,
married him to a Persian woman, and endowed him with an estate. It
was the habitual policy of that great king to attach to his dominions
the valour and the intellect of the Greeks.

[269] Pausanias says, that Talthybius afterward razed the house of
Miltiades, because that chief instigated the Athenians to the
execution of the Persian envoys.

[270] Demaratus had not only prevented the marriage of Leotychides
with a maiden named Percalos, but, by a mixture of violence and
artifice, married her himself. Thus, even among the sober and
unloving Spartans, woman could still be the author of revolutions.

[271] The national pride of the Spartans would not, however, allow
that their king was the object of the anger of the gods, and
ascribing his excesses to his madness, accounted for the last
by a habit of excessive drinking which he had acquired from the

[272] Herod., l. 6, c. 94.

[273] Ibid., l. 6, c. 107.

[274] The sun and moon.

[275] In his attack upon Herodotus, Plutarch asserts that the
Spartans did make numerous military excursions at the beginning of the
month; if this be true, so far from excusing the Spartans, it only
corroborates the natural suspicion that they acted in accordance, not
with superstition, but with their usual calculating and selfish policy
--ever as slow to act in the defence of other states as prompt to
assert the independence of their own.

[276] Paus., l. 8, c. 5.

[277] The exact number of the Athenians is certainly doubtful.
Herodotus does not specify it. Justin estimates the number of
citizens at ten thousand, besides a thousand Plataeans: Nepos at ten
thousand in all; Pausanias at nine thousand. But this total,
furnished by authorities so equivocal, seems incredibly small. The
free population could have been little short of twenty thousand. We
must add the numbers, already great, of the resident aliens and the
slaves, who, as Pausanias tells us, were then for the first time
admitted to military service. On the other hand it is evident, from
the speech of Miltiades to Callimachus, and the supposed treachery of
the Alcmaeonidae, that some, nor an inconsiderable, force, was left in
reserve at Athens for the protection of the city. Let us suppose,
however, that two thirds of the Athenian citizens of military age,
viz., between the ages of twenty and sixty, marched to Marathon (and
this was but the common proportion on common occasions), the total
force, with the slaves, the settlers, and the Plataean auxiliaries,
could not amount to less than fifteen or sixteen thousand. But
whatever the precise number of the heroes of Marathon, we have ample
testimony for the general fact that it was so trifling when compared
with the Persian armament, as almost to justify the exaggeration of
later writers.

[278] Plut. in Vit. Aris. Aristid., pro Quatuor Vias, vol. ii., p.
222, edit. Dindorf.

[279] In his graceful work on Athens and Attica, Mr. Wordsworth has
well observed the peculiar propriety of this reference to the examples
of Harmodius and Aristogiton, as addressed to Callimachus. They were
from the same borough (aphidnae) as the polemarch himself.

[280] The goddess of Athens was supposed to have invented a peculiar
trumpet used by her favoured votaries.

[281] To raise the standard was the sign of battle.--Suidas, Thucyd.
Schol., c. 1. On the Athenian standard was depicted the owl of
Minerva.--Plut. in Vit. Lysand.

[282] Aeschyl. Persae.

[283] Ibid.

[284] Herod., l. 6., c. xii.

[285] Plut. in Vit. Aristid.

[286] Roos hespera. Aristoph., Vesp 1080.

[287] Justin, lib. ii., c. ix.

[288] According, however, to Suidas, he escaped and died at Lemnos.

[289] This incident confirms the expressed fear of Miltiades, that
delay in giving battle might produce division and treachery among some
of the Athenians. Doubtless his speech referred to some particular
faction or individuals.

[290] Plut. in Vit. Arist.

[291] These apparitions, recorded by Pausanias, l. i., c. 33, are
still believed in by the peasantry.


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