Mosaics of Grecian History
Marcius Willson and Robert Pierpont Willson
Part 8 out of 11
to a good age "what Xenophon calls 'that good, not human, but
divine command over willing men, given manifestly to persons
of genuine and highly-trained temperance of character.'"
In 317, Agath'ocles, a bold adventurer of Syracuse, usurped its
authority by the murder of several thousand citizens, and for
twenty-eight years maintained his power, extending his dominion
over a large portion of Sicily, and even gaining successes in
Africa. After his death, in 289, successive tyrants ruled, until,
in 270, Hiero II., a descendant of Gelon, and commander of the
Syracusan army, obtained the supreme power. Meantime the
Carthaginians had gained a decided ascendancy in Sicily, and in
265 the Romans, alarmed by the movements of so powerful a neighbor,
and being invited to Sicily to assist a portion of the people
of Messa'na, commenced what is known in history as the first
Punic war. Hiero allied himself with the Carthaginians, and the
combined armies proceeded to lay siege to Messana; but they were
attacked and defeated by Ap'pius Clau'dius, the Roman consul,
and Hiero, panic-stricken, fled to Syracuse. Seeing his territory
laid waste by the Romans, he prudently made a treaty with them,
in 263. He remained their steadfast ally; and when the Romans
became sole masters of Sicily they gave him the government of
a large part of the island. His administration was mild, yet firm
and judicious, lasting in all fifty-four years. With him ended
the prosperity and independence of Syracuse.
It was during the reign of Hiero II. that Archimedes, a native
of Syracuse, and a supposed distant relation of the king, made
the scientific discoveries and inventions that have secured for
him the honor of being the most celebrated mathematician of
antiquity. He was equally skilled in astronomy, geometry, mechanics,
hydrostatics, and optics. His discovery of the principle of specific
gravity is related in the following well-known story: Hiero,
suspecting that his golden crown had been fraudulently alloyed
with silver, put it into the hands of Archimedes for examination.
The latter, entering a bath-tub one day, and noticing that he
displaced a quantity of water equal in bulk to that of his body,
saw that this discovery would give him a mode of determining
the bulk and specific gravity of King Hiero's crown. Leaping
out of the tub in his delight, he ran home, crying, "Eure'ka!
eureka!" I have found it! I have found it!
To show Hiero the wonderful effects of mechanical power, Archimedes
is said to have drawn some distance toward him, by the use of
ropes and pulleys, a large galley that lay on the shore; and
during the siege of his native city by the Romans, his great
mechanical skill was displayed in the invention and manufacture
of stupendous engines of defence. Later historians than Polybius,
Livy, and Plutarch say that on this occasion, also, he burnt
many Roman ships by concentrating upon them the sun's rays from
numerous mirrors. SCHILLER gives the following poetic account
of a visit, to Archimedes, by a young scholar who asked to be
taught the art that had won the great master's fame:
To Archimedes once a scholar came:
"Teach me;" he said, "the Art that won thy fame;
The godlike Art which gives such boons to toil,
And showers such fruit upon thy native soil;
The godlike Art that girt the town when all
Rome's vengeance burst in thunder on the wall!"
"Thou call'st Art godlike--it is so, in truth,
And was," replied the master to the youth,
"Ere yet its secrets were applied to use--
Ere yet it served beleaguered Syracuse.
Ask'st thou from Art but what the Art is worth?
The fruit? For fruit go cultivate the Earth.
He who the goddess would aspire unto
Must not the goddess as the woman woo!"
--Trans. by BULWER.
Among the discoveries of Archimedes was that of the ratio between
the cylinder and the inscribed sphere, and he requested his friends
to place the figures of a sphere and cylinder on his tomb. This
was done, and, one hundred and thirty-six years after, it enabled
Cicero, the Roman orator, to find the resting-place of the
illustrious inventor. The story of his visit to Syracuse, and his
search for the tomb of Archimedes, is told by the HON. R C. WINTHROP
in a lecture entitled Archimedes and Franklin, from which we quote
Visit of Cicero to the Grave of Archimedes.
"While Cicero was quæstor in Sicily--the first public office
which he ever held, and the only one to which he was then eligible,
being but just thirty years old--he paid a visit to Syracuse,
then among the greatest cities of the world. The magistrates
of the city of course waited on him at once, to offer their
services in showing him the lions of the place, and requested
him to specify anything which he would like particularly to see.
Doubtless they supposed that he would ask immediately to be
conducted to some one of their magnificent temples, that he might
behold and admire those splendid works of art with which
--notwithstanding that Marcellus had made it his glory to carry
not a few of them away with him for the decoration of the Imperial
City--Syracuse still abounded, and which soon after tempted the
cupidity, and fell a prey to the rapacity, of the infamous Verres.
"Or, haply, they may have thought that he would be curious to
see and examine the Ear of Dionysius, as it was called--a huge
cavern, cut out of the solid rock in the shape of a human ear,
two hundred and fifty feet long and eighty feet high, in which
that execrable tyrant confined all persons who came within the
range of his suspicion, and which was so ingeniously contrived
and constructed that Dionysius, by applying his ear to a small
hole, where the sounds were collected as upon a tympanum, could
catch every syllable that was uttered in the cavern below, and
could deal out his proscription and his vengeance accordingly
upon all who might dare to dispute his authority or to complain
of his cruelty. Or they may have imagined, perhaps, that he would
be impatient to visit at once the sacred fountain of Arethusa;
and the seat of those Sicilian Muses whom Virgil so soon after
invoked in commencing that most inspired of all uninspired
compositions, which Pope has so nobly paraphrased in his glowing
and glorious Eclogue--the 'Messiah.'
"To their great astonishment, however, Cicero's first request
was that they would take him to see the tomb of Archimedes. To
his own still greater astonishment, as we may well believe, they
told him in reply that they knew nothing about the tomb of
Archimedes, and had no idea where it was to be found, and they
even denied that any such tomb was still remaining among them.
But Cicero understood perfectly well what he was talking about.
He remembered the exact description of the tomb. He remembered
the very verses which had been inscribed on it. He remembered the
sphere and the cylinder which Archimedes had himself requested
to have wrought upon it, as the chosen emblems of his eventful
life. And the great orator forthwith resolved to make search
for it himself. Accordingly, he rambled out into the place of
their ancient sepulchres, and, after a careful investigation, he
came at last to a spot overgrown with shrubs and bushes, where
presently he descried the top of a small column just rising above
the branches. Upon this little column the sphere and the cylinder
were at length found carved, the inscription was painfully
deciphered, and the tomb of Archimedes stood revealed to the
reverent homage of the illustrious Roman quæstor.
"This was in the year 76 before the birth of our Savior. Archimedes
died about the year 212 before Christ. One hundred and thirty six
years only had thus elapsed since the death of this celebrated
person, before his tombstone was buried beneath briers and brambles;
and before the place and even the existence of it were forgotten
by the magistrates of the very city of which he was so long the
proudest ornament in peace, and the most effective defender in
war. What a lesson to human pride, what a commentary on human
gratitude was here! It is an incident almost precisely like that
which the admirable and venerable DR. WATTS imagined or imitated,
as the topic of one of his most striking and familiar Lyrics:
"'Theron, among his travels, found
A broken statue on the ground;
And searching onward as he went,
He traced a ruined monument.
Mould, moss, and shades had overgrown
The sculpture of the crumbling stone;
Yet ere he passed, with much ado,
He guessed and spelled out, Sci-pi-o.
"Enough," he cried; "I'll drudge no more
In turning the dull Stoics o'er;
* * * * *
For when I feel my virtue fail,
And my ambitious thoughts prevail,
I'll take a turn among the tombs,
And see whereto all glory comes."
I do not learn, however, that Cicero was cured of his eager vanity
and his insatiate love of fame by this "turn" among the Syracusan
tombs. He was then only just at the threshold of his proud career,
and he went back to pursue it to its bloody end with unabated
zeal, and with an ambition only extinguishable with his life.'"
THE MACEDONIAN SUPREMACY.
I. THE SACRED WAR.
Four years after the battle of Mantine'a the Grecian states again
became involved in domestic hostilities, known as the Sacred
War, the second in Grecian history to which that title was applied,
the first having been carried on against the inhabitants of Crissa,
on the northern shore of the Corinthian Gulf, in the time of
Solon. The causes of this second Sacred War were briefly these:
The Pho'cians, allies of Sparta against Thebes, had taken into
cultivation a portion of the plain of Delphos, sacred to Apollo;
and the Thebans caused them to be accused of sacrilege before
the Amphictyonic Council, which condemned them to pay a heavy
fine. The Phocians refused obedience, and, encouraged by the
Spartans, on whom a similar penalty had been imposed for their
wrongful occupation of the Theban capital, they took up arms
to resist the decree, and plundered the sacred Temple of Delphos
to obtain means for carrying on the war.
The Thebans, Thessa'lians, and nearly all the states of northern
Greece leagued against the Phocians, while Athens and Sparta
declared in their favor. After the war had continued five years
a new power was brought forward on the theatre of Grecian history,
in the person of Philip, who had recently established himself
on the throne of Maç'edon, and to whom some of the Thessalians
applied for aid against the Phocians. The interference of Philip
forms an important epoch in Grecian affairs. "The most desirable
of all conditions for Greece would have been," says THIRLWALL,
"to be united in a confederacy strong enough to prevent intestine
warfare among its members, and so constituted as to guard against
all unnecessary encroachment on their independence. But the time
had passed by when the supremacy of any state could either have
been willingly acknowledged by the rest, or imposed upon them
by force; and the hope of any favorable change in the general
condition of Greece was now become fainter than ever." Wasted
by her internal dissensions, Greece was now about to suffer their
natural results, and we interrupt our narrative to briefly trace
the growth of that foreign power which, unexpectedly to Greece,
became its master.
* * * * *
II. SKETCH OF MACEDONIA.
Maçedon--or Macedo'nia--whose boundaries varied greatly at different
times, had its south-eastern borders on the Ægean Sea, while
farther north it was bounded by the river Strymon, which separated
it from Thrace, and on the south by Thessaly and Epirus. On the
west Macedonia embraced, at times, many of the Illyrian tribes
which bordered on the Adriatic. On the north the natural boundary
was the mountain chain of Hæ'mus. The principal river of Macedonia
was the Ax'ius (now the Vardar), which fell into the Thermaic
Gulf, now called the Gulf of Salonica.
The history of Macedonia down to the time of Philip, the father
of Alexander the Great, is involved in much obscurity. The early
Macedonians appear to have been an Illyrian tribe, different
in race and language from the Hellenes or Greeks; but Herodotus
states that the Macedonian monarchy was founded by Greeks from
Argos; and, according to Greek writers, twelve or fifteen Grecian
princes reigned there before the accession of Philip, who took
charge of the government about the year 360 B.C., not as monarch,
but as guardian of the infant son of his elder brother.
Philip had previously passed several years at Thebes as a hostage,
where he eagerly availed himself of the excellent opportunities
which that city afforded for the acquisition of various kinds
of knowledge. He successfully cultivated the study of the Greek
language; and in the society of such generals and statesmen as
Epaminondas, Pelopidas, and their friends, became acquainted
with the details of the military tactics of the Greeks, and learned
the nature and working of their democratical institutions. Thus,
with the superior mental and physical endowments which nature
had given him, he became eminently fitted for the part which
he afterward bore in the intricate game of Grecian politics.
After Philip had successfully defended the throne of Maçedon
during several years, in behalf of his nephew, his military
successes enabled him to assume the kingly title, probably with
the unanimous consent of both the army and the nation. He annexed
several Thracian towns to his dominions, reduced the Illyrians
and other nations on his northern and western borders, and was
at times an ally, and at others an enemy, of Athens. At length,
during the Sacred War against the Phocians, the invitation which
he received from the Thessalian allies of Thebes, as already
noticed, afforded him a pretext, which he had long coveted, for
a more active interference in the affairs of his southern neighbors.
* * * * *
III. INTERFERENCE OF PHILIP OF MACEDON.
Of all the Grecian states, Athens alone had succeeded in regaining
some of her former power, and she now became the leader in the
struggle with Macedonia. In response to the invitation extended
to him, Philip entered Thessaly on his southern march, but was
at first repulsed by the Phocians and their allies, and obliged
to retire to his own territory. He soon returned, however, at
the head of a more numerous army, defeated the enemy in a decisive
engagement near the Gulf of Pag'asæ, and would have marched upon
Phocis at once to terminate the war, but he found the Pass of
Thermopylæ strongly guarded by the Athenians, and thought it
prudent to withdraw his forces.
The Sacred War still lingered, although the Phocians desired
peace; but the revengeful spirit of the Thebans was not allayed,
and Philip was again urged to crush the profaners of the national
religion. It was at this period that the great Athenian orator,
Demosthenes, came forward with the first of those orations against
Philip and his supposed policy, which, from their subject, received
the name of "the Philippics"--a title since commonly given to
any discourse or declamation abounding in acrimonious invective.
The penetration of Demosthenes enabled him easily to divine the
ambitious plans of Philip, and as he considered him the enemy
of the liberties of Athens and of Greece, he sought to rouse
his countrymen against him. His discourse was essentially practical.
As a writer has said, "He alarms, but encourages his countrymen;
Points out both their weakness and their strength; rouses them
to a sense of danger, and shows the way to meet it; recommends
not any extraordinary efforts, for which at this moment there
was no urgent necessity, but unfolds a scheme, simple and feasible,
suiting the occasion, and calculated to lay the foundation of
In the following language he censures the indolence and supineness
of the Athenians:
The First Philippic of Demosthenes.
"When, O my countrymen I will you exert your vigor? When roused
by some event? When forced by some necessity? What, then, are
we to think of our present condition? To freemen, the disgrace
attending our misconduct is, in my opinion, the most urgent
necessity. Or, say, is it your sole ambition to wander through
the public places, each inquiring of the other, 'What new advices?'
Can anything be more new than that a man of Maçedon should conquer
the Athenians and give law to Greece? 'Is Philip dead? No, but
he is sick.' [Footnote: Philip had received a severe wound, which
was followed by a fit of sickness; hence these rumors and inquiries
of the Athenians. "Longinus quotes this whole passage as a beautiful
instance of those pathetic figures which give life and force and
energy to an oration."] How are you concerned in these rumors?
Suppose he should meet some fatal stroke; you would soon raise
up another Philip, if your interests are thus regarded. For it
is not to his own strength that he so much owes his elevation
as to our supineness. And should some accident affect him--should
Fortune, who hath ever been more careful of the state than we
ourselves, now repeat her favors (and may she thus crown them!)
--be assured of this, that by being on the spot, ready to take
advantage of the confusion, you will everywhere be absolute
masters; but in your present disposition, even if a favorable
juncture should present you with Amphip'olis, [Footnote: Amphipolis,
a city of Thrace founded by the Athenians, had fallen into the
hands of Philip after a siege, and the Athenians had nothing
more at heart than its recovery.] you could not take possession
of it while this suspense prevails in your councils.
"Some of you wander about crying, 'Philip hath joined with the
Lacedæmonians, and they are concerting the destruction of Thebes,
and the dissolution of some free states.' Others assure us that
he has sent an embassy to the king; [Footnote: The King of Persia,
generally called "the king" by the Greeks.] others, that he is
fortifying places in Illyria. Thus we all go about framing our
several stories. I do believe, indeed, Athenians, that he is
intoxicated with his greatness, and does entertain his imagination
with many such visionary prospects, as he sees no power rising
to oppose him, and is elated with his success. But I cannot be
persuaded that he hath so taken his measures that the weakest
among us know what he is next to do--for the silliest are those
who spread these rumors. Let us dismiss such talk, and remember
only that Philip is our enemy--that he has spoiled us of our
dominions, that we have long been subject to his insolence, that
whatever we expected to be done for us by others has proved against
us, that all the resource left us is in ourselves, and that, if
we are not inclined to carry our arms abroad, we may be forced
to engage at home. Let us be persuaded of this, and then we shall
come to a proper determination; then we shall be freed from idle
conjectures. We need not be solicitous to know what particular
events will happen; we need but be convinced that nothing good
can happen unless you attend to your duty, and are willing to
act as becomes you.
"As for me, never have I courted favor by speaking what I am
not convinced is for your good; and now I have spoken my whole
mind frankly and unreservedly. I could have wished, knowing the
advantage of good counsel to you, that I were equally certain
of its advantage to the counselor; so should I have spoken with
more satisfaction. Now, with an uncertainty of the consequence
to myself, but with a conviction that you will benefit by following
my advice, I freely proffer it. And, of all those opinions which
are offered for your acceptance, may that be chosen which will
best advance the general weal."
The most prominent of the particular acts specified by Demosthenes
as indispensable to the Athenian welfare, were the fitting out of
a fleet of fifty vessels, to be kept ready to sail, at a moment's
notice, to any exposed portion of the Athenian sea-coast; and
the establishment of a permanent land force of twenty-two hundred
men, one-fourth to be citizens of Athens. The expense was to
be met by taxation, a system of which he also presented for
adoption. MR. GROTE says of the first Philippic of Demosthenes:
"It is not merely a splendid piece of oratory, emphatic and forcible
in its appeal to the emotions; bringing the audience, by many
different roads, to the main conviction which the orator seeks
to impress; profoundly animated with genuine Pan-hellenic
patriotism, and with the dignity of that pre-Grecian world now
threatened by a monarch from without. It has other merits besides,
not less important in themselves, and lying more immediately
within the scope of the historian. We find Demosthenes, yet only
thirty years old--young in political life--and thirteen years
before the battle of Chærone'a, taking accurate measure of the
political relations between Athens and Philip; examining those
relations during the past, pointing out how they had become every
year more unfavorable, and foretelling the dangerous contingencies
of the future, unless better precautions were taken; exposing
with courageous frankness not only the past mismanagement of
public men, but also those defective dispositions of the people
themselves wherein such mismanagement had its root; lastly, after
fault found, adventuring on his own responsibility to propose
specific measures of correction, and urging upon reluctant citizens
a painful imposition of personal hardship as well as of taxation."
Of course Demosthenes and his policy were opposed by a strong
party, and his warnings and exhortations produced but little
effect. The latter result was largely due to the position of
the Athenian general and statesman Pho'cion--the last Athenian
in whom these two functions were united--who generally acted
with the peace-party. Unlike many prominent members of that party,
however, Phocion was pure and patriotic in his motives, and a
man of the strictest integrity. It was his unquestioned probity
and his peculiar disinterestedness that gave him such influence
with the people. As an orator, too, he commanded attention by
his striking and pithy brevity. "He knew so well," says GROTE,
"on what points to strike, that his telling brevity, strengthened
by the weight of character and position, cut through the fine
oratory of Demosthenes more effectively than any counter oratory
from men like Æsehines." Demosthenes was once heard to remark,
on seeing Phocion rise to speak, "Here comes the pruner of my
As MR. GROTE elsewhere adds: "The influence of Phocion as a public
adviser was eminently mischievous to Athens. All depended upon
her will; upon the question whether her citizens were prepared
in their own minds to incur the expense and fatigue of a vigorous
foreign policy--whether they would handle their pikes, open their
purses, and forego the comforts of home, for the maintenance
of Grecian and Athenian liberty against a growing but not as
yet irresistible destroyer. Now, it was precisely at such a moment,
and when such a question was pending, that the influence of the
peace-loving Phocion was most ruinous. His anxiety that the
citizens should be buried at home in their own sepulchres--his
despair, mingled with contempt, of his countrymen and their refined
habits--his hatred of the orators who might profit by an increased
war expenditure--all contributed to make him discourage public
effort, and await passively the preponderance of the Macedonian
arms; thus playing the game of Philip, and siding, though himself
incorruptible, with the orators in Philip's pay." [Footnote:
"History of Greece," vol. xi., p. 278.]
As no measures of importance were taken to check the growing
power of Philip, in the year 349 he attacked the Olynthians,
who were in alliance with Athens. They sent embassies to Athens,
seeking aid, and Demosthenes supported their cause in the three
"Olynthiac Orations," which roused the Athenians to more vigorous
efforts. But the latter were divided in their counsels, and the
aid they gave the Olynthians was inefficient. In 347 Olynthus
fell into the hands of Philip, who, having somewhat lulled the
suspicions of the Athenians by proposals of an advantageous peace,
marched into Phocis in 346, and compelled the enemy to surrender
at discretion. The Amphictyonic Council, with the power of Philip
to enforce its decrees, doomed Phocis to lose her independence
forever, to have her cities leveled with the ground, her population
to be distributed in villages of not more than fifty dwellings,
and to pay a yearly tribute of sixty talents to the temple until
the full amount of the plundered treasure should be restored.
Finally, the two votes that the Phocians had possessed in the
council were transferred to the King of Maçedon and his successors.
* * * * *
IV. WAR WITH MAÇEDON.
From an early period of his career Philip had aspired to the
sovereignty of all Greece, as a secondary object that should
prepare the way for the conquest of Persia, the great aim and
end of all his ambitious projects. The accession of power he had
just acquired now induced him to exert himself, by negotiation
and conquest, to extend his influence on every side of his
dominions. Demosthenes had been sent by the Athenians into the
Peloponnesus to counteract the intrigues of Philip there, and had
openly accused him of perfidy. To repel this charge, as well as
to secure farther influence, if possible, Philip sent an embassy
to Athens, headed by the orator Py'thon. It was on this occasion
that Demosthenes delivered his second "Philippic" (344 B.C.),
addressing himself principally to the Athenian sympathizers with
Philip, of whom the orator Æsehines was the leader.
In his military operations Philip ravaged Illyria, reduced Thessaly
more nearly to a Macedonian province, conquered a part of the
Thracian territory, extended his power into Epi'rus and Acarna'nia,
and would have gained a footing in E'lis and Acha'ia, on the
western coast of Peloponnesus, had it not been for the watchful
jealousy of Athens which Demosthenes finally succeeded in arousing.
The first open rupture with the Athenians occurred while Philip
was subduing the Grecian cities on the Thracian coast of the
Hellespont, in what was called the Thracian Chersone'sus. As
yet Macedon and Athens were nominally at peace, and Philip
complained that the Athenians were attempting to precipitate
a conflict. He sent an embassy to Athens, which gave occasion
to the speech of Demosthenes, "On the Chersonese" (341 B.C.).
The rupture in the Chersonesus was followed by Athenian successes
in Euboe'a, whither Demosthenes had succeeded in having an
expedition sent, and, finally, by the expulsion of Philip's forces
from the Chersonesus. Soon after this (339 B.C.) the Amphictyonic
Council, through the influence of the orator Æsehines, appointed
Phillip to conduct a war against Amphis'sa, a Lo'crian town,
that had been convicted of a sacrilege similar to that of the
THE SUCCESSES AND DEATH OF PHILIP.
It was now that Philip first threw off the mask, and revealed
his designs against the liberties of Greece. Hastily passing
through Thrace at the head of a powerful army, he suddenly seized
and commenced fortifying Elate'a, the capital of Phocis, which
was conveniently situated for commanding the entrance into Boeotia.
Intelligence of this event reached Athens at night, and caused
great alarm. At daybreak on the following morning the Senate of
Five Hundred met, and the people assembled in the Pnyx. Suddenly
waking, at last, from their dream of security, from which all
the eloquent appeals of Demosthenes had hitherto been unable
fully to arouse them, the Athenians began to realize their danger.
At the instance of the great orator they formed a treaty with
the Thebans, and the two states prepared to defend themselves
from invasion; but most of the Peloponnesian states kept aloof
through indifference, rather than through fear.
When the Athenian and Theban forces marched forth to give Philip
battle, dissensions pervaded their ranks; for the spirit of Grecian
liberty had already been extinguished. They gained a minor
advantage, however, in two engagements that followed; but the
decisive battle was fought in August of the year 338, in the
plain of Chærone'a, in Boeotia. The hostile armies were nearly
equal in numbers; but there was no Pericles, or Epaminondas,
to match the warlike abilities of Philip and the young prince
Alexander, the latter of whom commanded a wing of the Macedonian
army. The Grecian army was completely routed, and the event broke
up the feeble combination against Philip, leaving each of the
allied states at his mercy. He treated the Thebans with much
severity, but he exercised a degree of leniency toward the
Athenians which excited general surprise--offering them terms
of peace which they would scarcely have ventured to propose to
him. Now virtually master of Greece, he assembled a Congress
of the Grecian states at Corinth, at which all his proposals
were adopted; war was declared against Persia, and Philip was
appointed commander-in-chief of the Grecian and Macedonian forces.
But while he was preparing for his great enterprise he was
assassinated, during the festivities attending the marriage of
his daughter, by a young Macedonian of noble birth, in revenge
for some private wrong.
* * * * *
V. ACCESSION OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT.
Alexander, the son of Philip, then at the age of twenty years,
succeeded his father on the throne of Macedon. At once the
Illyrians, Thracians, and other northern tribes took up arms to
recover their independence; but Alexander quelled the revolt in
a single campaign. On the death of Philip, Demosthenes, who had
been informed of the event by a special messenger, immediately
took steps to incite Athens to shake off the Macedonian yoke. In
the words of a modern historian, "He resolved to avail himself
of the superstition of his fellow-citizens, by a pious fraud.
He went to the senate-house and declared to the Five Hundred
that Jove and Athe'na had forewarned him in a dream of some great
blessing that was in store for the Commonwealth. Shortly afterward
public couriers arrived with the news of Philip's death.
Demosthenes, although in mourning for the recent loss of an only
daughter, now came abroad dressed in white, and crowned with a
chaplet, in which attire he was seen sacrificing at one of the
public altars." He made vigorous preparations for action, and
sent envoys to the principal Grecian states to excite them against
Macedon. Several of the states, headed by the Athenians and the
Thebans, rose against the dominant oligarchy; but Alexander,
whose marches were unparalleled for their rapidity, suddenly
appeared in their midst. Thebes was taken by assault; six thousand
of her warriors were slain; the city was leveled with the ground,
and thirty thousand prisoners were condemned to slavery. The
other Grecian states hastily renewed their submission; and Athens,
with servile homage, sent an embassy to congratulate the young
king on his recent successes. Alexander accepted the excuses of
all, and having intrusted the government of Greece and Macedon
to Antip'ater, one of his generals, he set out on his career
of Eastern conquest with only thirty-five thousand men, and a
treasury of only seventy talents of silver. He had distributed
nearly all the remaining property of his crown among his friends;
and when he was asked what he had reserved for himself, he answered,
* * * * *
VI. ALEXANDER INVADES ASIA.
Early in the spring of 334 Alexander crossed the Hellespont, and
a few days later defeated a large Persian army on the eastern bank
of the Grani'cus, with the loss on his part of only eighty-five
horsemen and thirty light infantry. The gates of Sardis and Ephesus
were next thrown open to him, and he was soon undisputed master
of all Asia Minor. Early in the following year he directed his
march farther eastward, and on the coast of Cili'cia, near Issus,
again met the Persian or barbarian army, numbering over seven
hundred thousand men, and commanded by Dari'us, the Persian king.
Alexander, as usual, led his army in person, and achieved a
splendid victory. The wife, daughters, and an infant son of Darius
fell into the hands of the conqueror, and were treated by him
with the greatest kindness and respect, Some time after, and
just before his death, when Darius heard of the generous treatment
of his wife, who was accounted the most beautiful woman in Asia
--of her death from sudden illness, and of the magnificent burial
she had received from the conqueror--he lifted up his hands to
heaven and prayed that if his kingdom were to pass from himself,
it might be transferred to Alexander.
The conqueror now directed his march southward through northern
Syria and Palestine, conquering Tyre after a vigorous siege of
seven months. This was perhaps the greatest of Alexander's military
achievements; but it was tarnished by his cruelty toward the
conquered. Exasperated by the long and desperate resistance of
the besieged, he gave them no quarter. Eight thousand of the
inhabitants are said to have been massacred, and thirty thousand
were sold into slavery. After the fall of Tyre Alexander proceeded
into Egypt, which he easily brought under subjection. After having
founded the present city of Alexandria, at the mouth of the Nile,
he returned to Palestine, crossed the Euphrates, and marched
into the very heart of the Persian empire, declaring, "The world
can no more admit two masters than two suns."
* * * * *
VII. BATTLE OF ARBE'LA.--FLIGHT AND DEATH OF DARIUS.
On a beautiful plain, twenty miles distant from the town of Arbela,
the Persian monarch, surrounded by all the pomp and luxury of
Eastern magnificence, had collected the remaining strength of
his empire, consisting of an army of more than a million of
infantry and forty thousand cavalry, besides two hundred scythed
chariots, and fifteen elephants brought from the west of India.
To oppose this immense force Alexander had only forty thousand
infantry and seven thousand cavalry. But his forces were well
armed and disciplined, and were led by an able general who had
never known defeat. Darius sustained the conflict with better
judgment and more courage than at Issus; but the cool intrepidity
of the Macedonians was irresistible, and the field of battle soon
became a scene of slaughter, in which some say forty thousand,
and others three hundred thousand, of the barbarians were slain,
while the loss of Alexander did not exceed five hundred men.
Although Darius escaped with a portion of his body-guard, the
whole of the royal baggage and treasure was captured at Arbela.
Now simply a fugitive, "with merely the title of king," Darius
crossed the mountains into Media, where he remained six or seven
months, and until the advance of Alexander in pursuit compelled
him to pass through the Caspian Gates into Parthia. Here, on
the near approach of the enemy, he was murdered by Bessus, satrap
of Bactria, because he refused to fly farther. "Within four years
and three months from the time Alexander crossed the Hellespont,"
says GROTE, "by one stupendous defeat after another Darius had
lost all his Western empire, and had become a fugitive eastward
of the Caspian Gates, escaping captivity at the hand of Alexander
only to perish by that of the satrap Bessus. All antecedent
historical parallels--the ruin and captivity of the Lydian
Croe'sus, the expulsion and mean life of the Syracusan Dionysius,
both of them impressive examples of the mutability of human
condition--sink into trifles compared with the overthrow of this
towering Persian colossus. The orator Æschines expressed the
genuine sentiment of a Grecian spectator when he exclaimed (in
a speech delivered at Athens shortly before the death of Darius):
"'What is there among the list of strange and unexpected events
which has not occurred in our time? Our lives have transcended
the limits of humanity; we are born to serve as a theme for
incredible tales to posterity. Is not the Persian king--who dug
through Athos and bridged the Hellespont, who demanded earth
and water from the Greeks, who dared to proclaim himself, in
public epistles, master of all mankind from the rising to the
setting sun--is not he now struggling to the last, not for dominion
over others, but for the safety of his own person?' [Footnote:
He speaks of both Xerxes and Darius as the Persian king.] Such
were the sentiments excited by Alexander's career even in the
middle of 330 B.C., more than seven years before his death."
Babylon and Susa, where the riches of the East lay accumulated,
had meanwhile opened their gates to Alexander, and thence he
directed his march to Persepolis, the capital of Persia, which
he entered in triumph. Here he celebrated his victories by a
magnificent feast, at which the great musician Timo'theus, of
Thebes, performed on the flute and the lyre, accompanied by a
chorus of singers. Such was the wonderful power of his music
that the whole company are said to have been swayed by it to
feelings of love, or hate, or revenge, as if by the wand of a
magician. The poet DRYDEN has given us a description of this feast
in a poem that has been called by some "the lyric masterpiece
of English poetry," and by others "an inspired ode." Though
designed especially to illustrate the power of music, it is based
on historic facts. Only partial extracts from it can here be
'Twas at the royal feast, for Persia won
By Philip's warlike son:
Aloft in awful state
The godlike hero sate
On his imperial throne:
His valiant peers were placed around,
Their brows with roses and with myrtles bound
(So should desert in arms be crowned).
The lovely Thais, by his side
Sat, like a blooming Eastern bride,
In flower of youth and beauty's pride.
Happy, happy, happy pair!
None but the brave,
None but the brave,
None but the brave deserve the fair.
In the second division of the poem Timo'theus is represented
as singing the praises of Jupiter, when the crowd, carried away
by the enthusiasm with which the music had inspired them, proclaim
Alexander a deity! The monarch accepts the adoration of his
subjects, and "assumes the god."
The list'ning crowd admire the lofty sound:
"A present deity!" they shout around:
"A present deity!" the vaulted roofs rebound.
With ravished ears
The monarch hears,
Assumes the god,
Affects to nod,
And seems to shake the spheres.
The praises of Bacchus and the joys of wine being next sung,
the effects upon the king are described; and when the strains
had fired his soul almost to madness, Timotheus adroitly changes
the spirit and measure of his song, and as successfully allays
the tempest of passion that his skill had raised. The effects
of this change are thus described:
Soothed with the sound, the king grew vain;
Fought all his battles o'er again;
And thrice he routed all his foes; and thrice he slew the slain.
The master saw the madness rise;
His glowing cheeks, his ardent eyes;
And, while he Heaven and Earth defied,
Changed his hand, and checked his pride.
He chose a mournful Muse,
Soft pity to infuse;
He sung Darius, great and good,
By too severe a fate,
Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen,
Fallen from his high estate,
And weltering in his blood;
Deserted at his utmost need,
By those his former bounty fed;
On the bare earth exposed he lies,
With not a friend to close his eyes.
With downcast looks the joyless victor sat,
Revolving in his altered soul
The various turns of chance below;
And, now and then a sigh he stole,
And tear's began to flow.
Under the soothing influence of the next theme, which is Love,
Alexander sinks into a slumber, from which, however, a change
in the music to discordant strains arouses him to feelings of
revenge, as the singer draws a picture of the Furies, and of the
Greeks "that in battle were slain." Then it was that Alexander,
instigated by Thais, a celebrated Athenian beauty who accompanied
him on his expedition, set fire to the palace of Persepolis,
intending to burn the whole city--"the wonder of the world."
The poet compares Thais to Helen, whose fatal beauty caused the
downfall of Troy, 852 years before.
Now strike the golden lyre again;
A louder yet, and yet a louder strain.
Break his bands of sleep asunder,
And rouse him, like a rattling peal of thunder.
Hark! hark! the horrid sound
Has raised up his head,
As awaked from the dead,
And, amazed, he stares around.
Revenge! revenge! Timotheus cries,
See the Furies arise!
See the snakes that they rear!
How they hiss in their hair,
And the sparkles that flash from their eyes!
Behold a ghastly band,
Each a torch in his hand!
These are the Grecian ghosts, that in battle were slain,
And unburied remain,
Inglorious on the plain:
Give the vengeance due
To the valiant crew,
Behold how they toss their torches on high!
How they point to the Persian abodes,
And glittering temples of their hostile gods!
The princes applaud with a furious joy;
And the king seized a flambeau with zeal to destroy;
Thais led the way,
To light him to his prey,
And, like another Helen, fired another Troy!
During four years Alexander remained in the heart of Persia,
reducing to subjection the chiefs who still struggled for
independence, and regulating the government of the conquered
provinces. Ambitious of farther conquests, he passed the Indus,
and invaded the country of the Indian king Po'rus, whom he defeated
in a sanguinary engagement, and took prisoner. Alexander continued
his march eastward until he reached the Hyph'asis, the most eastern
tributary of the Indus, when his troops, seeing no end of their
toils, refused to follow him farther, and he was reluctantly
forced to abandon the career of conquest, which he had marked
out for himself, to the Eastern ocean. He descended the Indus
to the sea, whence, after sending a fleet with a portion of his
forces around through the Persian Gulf to the Euphrates, he marched
with the remainder of his army through the barren wastes of
Gedro'sia, and after much suffering and loss once more reached
the fertile provinces of Persia.
* * * * *
VIII. THE DEATH OF ALEXANDER.
For some time after his return Alexander's attention was engrossed
with plans for organizing, on a permanent basis, the government
of the mighty empire that he had won. Aiming to unite the
conquerors and the conquered, so as to form out of both a nation
independent alike of Macedonian and Persian prejudices, he married
Stati'ra, the oldest daughter of Darius, and united his principal
officers with Persian and Median women of the noblest families,
while ten thousand of his soldiers were induced to follow the
example of their superiors. But while he was occupied with these
cares, and with dreams of future conquests, his career was suddenly
terminated by death. On setting out to visit Babylon, in the
spring of 324, soon after the decease of an intimate friend
--Hephæs'tion--whose loss caused a great depression of his spirits,
he was warned by the magicians that Babylon would be fatal to
him; but he proceeded to the city to conclude his preparations
for his next ambitious scheme--the subjugation of Arabia. Babylon
was now to witness the consummation of his triumphs and of his
life. "As in the last scene of some well-ordered drama," says
a modern historian, "all the results and tokens of his great
achievements seemed to be collected there to do honor to his
final exit." Although his mind was actively occupied in plans
of conquest, he was haunted by gloomy forebodings and superstitious
fancies, and endeavored to dispel his melancholy by indulging
freely in the pleasures of the table. Excessive drinking at last
brought to a crisis a fever which he had probably contracted
in the marshes of Assyria, and which suddenly terminated his
life in the thirty-third year of his age, and the thirteenth
of his reign (323 B.C.). He was buried in Babylon. From the Latin
poet LUCAN we take the following estimate of
His Career and His Character.
Here the vain youth, who made the world his prize,
That prosperous robber, Alexander, lies:
When pitying Death at length had freed mankind,
To sacred rest his bones were here consigned:
His bones, that better had been tossed and hurled,
With just contempt, around the injured world.
But fortune spared the dead; and partial fate,
For ages fixed his Pha'rian empire's date.
[Footnote: Pharian. An allusion to the famous light-house,
the Pharos of Alexandria, built by Ptolemy Philadelphus,
son of Ptolemy Soter, who succeeded Alexander in Egypt.]
If e'er our long-lost liberty return,
That carcass is reserved for public scorn;
Now it remains a monument confessed,
How one proud man could lord it o'er the rest.
To Maçedon, a corner of the earth,
The vast ambitious spoiler owed his birth:
There, soon, he scorned his father's humbler reign,
And viewed his vanquished Athens with disdain.
Driven headlong on, by fate's resistless force,
Through Asia's realms he took his dreadful course;
His ruthless sword laid human nature waste,
And desolation followed where he passed.
Red Ganges blushed, and famed Euphrates' flood,
With Persian this, and that with Indian blood.
Such is the bolt which angry Jove employs,
When, undistinguishing, his wrath destroys:
Such to mankind, portentous meteors rise,
Trouble the gazing earth, and blast the skies.
Nor flame nor flood his restless rage withstand,
Nor Syrts unfaithful, nor the Libyan sand:
[Footnote: Syrts. Two gulfs--Syrtis Minor and Syrtis
Major--on the northern coast of Africa, abounding in
quicksands, and dangerous to navigation.]
O'er waves unknown he meditates his way,
And seeks the boundless empire of the sea.
E'en to the utmost west he would have gone,
Where Te'thys' lap receives the setting sun;
[Footnote: Tethys, the fabled wife of Ocean, and
daughter of Heaven and Earth.]
Around each pole his circuit would have made,
And drunk from secret Nile's remotest head,
When Nature's hand his wild ambition stayed;
With him, that power his pride had loved so well,
His monstrous universal empire, fell;
No heir, no just successor left behind,
Eternal wars he to his friends assigned,
To tear the world, and scramble for mankind.
--LUCAN. Trans. by ROWE.
The poet JUVENAL, moralizing on the death of Alexander, tells
us that, notwithstanding his illimitable ambition, the narrow
tomb that be found in Babylon was sufficiently ample for the
small body that had contained his mighty soul.
One world sufficed not Alexander's mind;
Cooped up, he seemed in earth and seas confined,
And, struggling, stretched his restless limbs about
The narrow globe, to find a passage out!
Yet, entered in the brick-built town, he tried
The tomb, and found the straight dimensions wide.
Death only this mysterious truth unfolds:
The mighty soul, how small a body holds!
--Tenth Satire. Trans. by DRYDEN.
The body of Alexander was removed from Babylon to Alexandria
by Ptolemy Soter, one of his generals, subsequently King of Egypt,
and was interred in a golden coffin. The sarcophagus in which
the coffin was enclosed has been in the British Museum since
1802--a circumstance to which BYRON makes a happy allusion in
the closing lines of the following verse:
How vain, how worse than vain, at length appear
The madman's wish, the Macedonian's tear!
He wept for worlds to conquer; half the earth
Knows not his name, or but his death and birth,
And desolation; while his native Greece
Hath all of desolation, save its peace.
He "wept for worlds to conquer!" he who ne'er
Conceived the globe he panted not to spare!
With even the busy Northern Isle unknown,
Which holds his urn, and never knew his throne.
FROM THE DEATH OF ALEXANDER TO THE CONQUEST OF GREECE BY THE ROMANS.
I. A RETROSPECTIVE GLANCE AT GREECE.
PROSECUTION OF DEMOSTHENES.
Turning now to the affairs of Greece, we find that, three years
after Alexander entered Asia, the Spartans made a determined
effort to throw off the Macedonian yoke. They were joined by
most of the Peloponnesian states, but Athens took no part in the
revolt. Although meeting with some successes at first, the Spartans
were finally defeated with great slaughter by Antip'ater (331 B.C.),
who had been left by Alexander in command of Greece and Macedonia.
This victory, and Alexander's successes in the East, gave rise
to active measures by the Macedonian party in Athens against
Demosthenes, who was holding two public offices, and, by his
ability and patriotism, was still doing great service to the
state. The occasion of this prosecution was as follows:
Soon after the disastrous battle of Chærone'a, Ctes'iphon, an
Athenian citizen, proposed that a golden crown [Footnote: It was
customary with the Athenians, and some other Greeks also, to
honor their most meritorious citizens with a chaplet of olive
interwoven with gold, and this was called a "golden crown."]
should be bestowed upon Demosthenes, in the public theatre, on
the occasion of the Dionysiac festival, as a reward for his
patriotism and public services. The special service for which
the reward was proposed was the rebuilding of the walls of Athens
by Demosthenes, partially at his own expense. After the Athenian
Senate had acquiesced in the measure, Æschines, the rival of
Demosthenes, brought an accusation against Ctesiphon for a
violation of the law, in that, among other things charged, it
was illegal to crown an official intrusted with the public moneys
before he had rendered an account of his office--a proceeding
which prevented the carrying of Ctesiphon's proposal to the people
for a final decision. Thus the matter slumbered during a period
of six years, when it was revived by Æschines, who thought he
saw, in the success of the Macedonian arms--on which all his
personal and political hopes were staked--a grand opportunity
to crush his great rival. He now, therefore, brought the charges
against Ctesiphon to trial. Although the latter was the nominal
defendant in the case, and Demosthenes was only his counsel,
it was well understood that the real object of attack was
Demosthenes himself, his whole policy and administration; and
a vast concourse of people flocked to Athens to hear the two
most celebrated orators in the world. A jury of not less than
five hundred, chosen from the citizens at large, was impaneled
by the archon; and before a dense and breathless audience the
The Oration of Æschines against Ctesiphon.
Æschines introduces his oration with the following brief exordium:
"You see, Athenians, what forces are prepared, what numbers
gathered and arrayed, what soliciting through the assembly, by
a certain party--and all this to oppose the fair and ordinary
course of justice in the state. As to me, I stand here in firm
reliance, first on the immortal gods, next on the laws and you,
convinced that faction never can have greater weight with you
than law and justice."
After Æschines had dwelt at length, and with great ability, upon
the nature of the offence with which Ctesiphon is charged, the
laws applicable to it, and the supposed evasions of Demosthenes
in his reply, he reads the decree of the senate in favor of the
bestowment of the crown, in the following words:
"And the herald shall make proclamation in the theatre, in presence
of the Greeks, that the community of Athens hath crowned him,
on account of his virtue and magnanimity, and for his constant
and inviolable attachment to the interests of the state, through
the course of all his counsels and administration."
This gives the orator the opportunity to enter upon an extended
review of the public life and character of Demosthenes, in which
he boldly charges him with cowardice in the battle of Chæronea,
with bribery and fraud in his public administration, and declares
him to have been the prime cause of innumerable calamities that
had befallen his country. He says:
"It is my part, as the prosecutor, to satisfy you on this point,
that the praises bestowed on Demosthenes are false; that there
never was a time in which he even began as a faithful counselor,
far from persevering in any course of conduct advantageous to
"It remains that I produce some instances of his abandoned
flattery. For one whole year did Demosthenes enjoy the honor
of a senator; and yet in all that time it never appears that
he moved to grant precedency to any ministers; for the first
time--the only time--he conferred this distinction on the ministers
of Philip; he servilely attended, to accommodate them with his
cushions and his carpets; by the dawn of day he conducted them
to the theatre, and, by his indecent and abandoned adulation,
raised a universal uproar of derision. When they were on their
departure toward Thebes, he hired three teams of mules, and
conducted them in state into that city. Thus did he expose his
country to ridicule.
"And yet this abject, this enormous flatterer, when he had been
the first that received advice of Philip's death from the
emissaries of Charide'mus, pretended a divine vision, and, with
a shameless lie, declared that this intelligence had been conveyed
to him, not by Charidemus, but by Jupiter and Minerva. Thus he
dared to boast that these divinities, by whom he had sworn falsely
in the day, had descended to hold communication with him in the
night, and to inform him of futurity. Seven days had now scarcely
elapsed since the death of his daughter when this wretch, before
he had performed the usual rites of mourning--before he had duly
paid her funeral honors--crowned his head with a chaplet, put
on his white robe, made a solemn sacrifice in despite of law
and decency; and this when he had lost his child, the first,
the only child that had ever called him by the tender name of
father. I say not this to insult his misfortunes; I mean but
to display his real character. For he who hates his children,
he who is a bad parent, cannot possibly prove a good minister.
He who is insensible to that natural affection which should engage
his heart to those who are most intimate and near to him, can
never feel a greater regard to your welfare than to that of
strangers. He who acts wickedly in private life cannot prove
excellent in his public conduct; he who is base at home, can
never acquit himself with honor when sent to a strange country
in a public character. For it is not the man, but the scene that
"Is not this, our state, the common refuge of the Greeks, once
the great resort of all the ambassadors from the several cities
sent to implore our protection as their sure resource, now obliged
to contend, not for sovereign authority, but for our native land?
And to these circumstances have we been gradually reduced, from
that time when Demosthenes first assumed the administration. Well
doth the poet Hesiod refer to such men, in one part of his works,
where he points out the duty of citizens, and warns all societies
to guard effectually against evil ministers. I shall repeat his
words; for I presume we treasured up the sayings of poets in
our memory when young, that in our riper years we might apply
them to advantage.
"'When one man's crimes the wrath of Heaven provoke,
Oft hath a nation felt the fatal stroke.
Contagion's blast destroys at Jove's command,
And wasteful famine desolates the land.
Or, in the field of war, her boasted powers
Are lost, and earth receives her prostrate towers.
In vain in gorgeous state her navies ride,
Dashed, wrecked, and buried in the boist'rous tide.'
"Take away the measure of these verses, consider only the sentiment,
and you will fancy that you hear, not some part of Hesiod, but
a prophecy of the administration of Demosthenes; for true it
is, that both fleets and armies, and whole cities, have been
completely destroyed by his administration.
"Which, think ye, was the more worthy citizen--Themistocles,
who commanded your fleet when you defeated the Persian in the
sea-fight at Salamis, or this Demosthenes, who deserted from
his post? Miltiades, who conquered the barbarians at Marathon,
or this man? The chiefs who led back the people from Phy'le;
Aristides, surnamed the Just, or Demosthenes? No; by the powers
of heaven, I deem the names of these heroes too noble to be
mentioned in the same day with that of this savage! And let
Demosthenes show, when he comes to his reply, if ever decree
was made for granting a golden crown to them. Was then the state
ungrateful? No; but she thought highly of her own dignity. And
these citizens, who were not thus honored, appear to have been
truly worthy of such a state; for they imagined that they were
not to be honored by public records, but by the memories of those
they had obliged; and their honors have there remained, from
that time down to this day, in characters indelible and immortal.
There were citizens in those days who, being stationed at the
river Strymon, there patiently endured a long series of toils
and dangers, and at length gained a victory over the Medes. At
their return they petitioned the people for a reward; and a reward
was conferred upon them (then deemed of great importance) by
erecting three memorials of stone in the usual portico, on which,
however, their names were not inscribed, lest this might seem
a monument erected to the honor of the commanders, not to that
of the people. For the truth of this I appeal to the inscriptions.
That on the first statue was expressed thus:
"'Great souls! who fought near Strymon's rapid tide,
And braved the invader's arm, and quelled his pride,
Ei'on's high towers confess'd the glorious deed,
And saw dire famine waste the vanquished Mede.
Such was our vengeance on the barb'rous host,
And such the generous toils our heroes boast.'
"This was the inscription on the second:
"'This the reward which grateful Athens gives!
Here still the patriot and the hero lives!
Here let the rising age with rapture gaze,
And emulate the glorious deeds they praise.'
"On the third was the inscription:
"'Mnes'the-us hence led forth his chosen train,
And poured the war o'er hapless Ilion's plain.
'Twas his (so speaks the bard's immortal lay)
To form the embodied host in firm array.
Such were our sons! Nor yet shall Athens yield
The first bright honors of the sanguine field.
Still, nurse of heroes! still the praise is thine,
Of every glorious toil, of every art divine.'
"In these do we find the name of the general? No; but that of
the people. Fancy yourselves transported to the grand portico;
for, in this your place of assembling, the monuments of all great
actions are erected in full view. There we find a picture of
the battle of Marathon. Who was the general in this battle? To
this question you will all answer--Miltiades. And yet his name
is not inscribed. How? Did he not petition for such an honor?
He did petition; but the people refused to grant it. Instead
of inscribing his name, they consented that he should be drawn
in the foreground, encouraging his soldiers. In like manner,
in the temple of the great Mother adjoining the senate-house,
you may see the honors paid to those who brought our exiles back
from Phyle; nor were even these granted precipitately, but after
an exact previous examination by the senate into the numbers
of those who maintained their post there, when the Lacedæmonians
and the Thirty marched to attack them--not of those who fled
from their post at Chæronea on the first appearance of an enemy."
Æschines closes his very able and brilliant oration with the
"And now bear witness for me, thou Earth, thou Sun, O Virtue
and Intelligence, and thou, O Erudition, which teachest us the
just distinction between vice and goodness, that I have stood
up, that I have spoken in the cause of justice. If I have supported
my prosecution with a dignity befitting its importance, I have
spoken as my wishes dictated; if too deficiently, as my abilities
admitted. Let what hath now been offered, and what your own
thoughts must supply, be duly weighed, and pronounce such a
sentence as justice and the interests of the state demand."
--Trans. by THOMAS LELAND, D.D.
Æschines was immediately followed by Demosthenes in a reply which
has been considered "the greatest speech of the greatest orator
in the world." The historian GROTE speaks of "the encomiums which
have been pronounced upon it with one voice, both in ancient and
modern times, as the unapproachable masterpiece of Grecian
oratory." It has been styled, from the occasion on which it was
The Oration of Demosthenes on the Crown.
The orator opens his defence against the charges brought forward
by his adversary with the following exordium, which Quintil'ian
commends for its modesty:
"I begin, men of Athens, by praying to every god and goddess
that the same good-will which I have ever cherished toward the
Commonwealth, and all of you, may be requited to me on the present
trial. I pray likewise--and this specially concerns yourselves,
your religion, and your honor--that the gods may put it in your
minds, not to take counsel of my opponent touching the manner
in which I am to be heard [Footnote: Æschines had requested that
Demosthenes should be "confined to the same method in his defence"
which he, Æschines, had pursued in his charges against him.]--that
would indeed be cruel!--but of the laws and of your oath; wherein
(besides the other obligations) it is prescribed that you shall
hear both sides alike. This means, not only that you must pass
no pre-condemnation, not only that you must extend your good-will
equally to both, but also that you must allow the parties to
adopt such order and course of defence as they severally choose
"Many advantages hath Æschines over me on this trial; and two
especially, men of Athens. First, our risk in the contest is
not the same. It is assuredly not the same for me to forfeit
your regard as for my adversary not to succeed in his indictment.
To me--but I will say nothing untoward at the outset of my address.
The prosecution, however, is play to him. My second disadvantage
is the natural disposition of mankind to take pleasure in hearing
invective and accusation, and to be annoyed by them who praise
themselves. To Æschines is assigned the part which gives pleasure;
that which is (I may fairly say) offensive to all, is left for me.
And if, to escape from this, I make no mention of what I have
done, I shall appear to be without defence against his charges,
without proof of my claims to honor; whereas, if I proceed to
give an account of my conduct and measures, I shall be forced
to speak frequently of myself. I will endeavor, then, to do so
with becoming modesty. What I am driven to by the necessity of
the case will be fairly chargeable to my opponent, who has
instituted such a prosecution.
"I think, men of the jury, you will all agree that I, as well
as Ctesiphon, am a party to this proceeding, and that it is a
matter of no less concern to me than to him. It is painful and
grievous to be deprived of anything, especially by the act of
one's enemy; but your good-will and affection are the heaviest
loss precisely as they are the greatest prize to gain.
"Had Æschines confined his charge to the subject of the prosecution,
I too would have proceeded at once to my justification of the
decree. [Footnote: The decree of the senate procured by Ctesiphon
in favor of Demosthenes.] But since he has wasted no fewer words
in the discussion, in most of them calumniating me, I deem it
both necessary and just, men of Athens, to begin by shortly
adverting to these points, that none of you may be induced by
extraneous arguments to shut your ears against my defence to
"To all his scandalous abuse about my private life observe my
plain and obvious answer. If you know me to be such as he alleged
--for I have lived nowhere else but among you--let not my voice
be heard, however transcendent my statesmanship. Rise up this
instant and condemn me. But if, in your opinion and judgment,
I am far better and of better descent than my adversary; if (to
speak without offence) I am not inferior, I or mine, to any
respectable citizens, then give no credit to him for his other
statements; it is plain they were all equally fictions; but to
me let the same good-will which you have uniformly exhibited
upon many former trials be manifested now. With all your malice,
Æschines, it was very simple to suppose that I should turn from
the discussion of measures and policy to notice your scandal.
I will do no such thing. I am not so crazed. Your lies and
calumnies about my political life I will examine forthwith. For
that loose ribaldry I shall have a word hereafter, if the jury
desire to hear it.
"If the crimes which Æschines saw me committing against the state
were as heinous as he so tragically gave out, he ought to have
enforced the penalties of the law against them at the time; if
he saw me guilty of an impeachable offence, by impeaching and
so bringing me to trial before you; if moving illegal decrees,
by indicting me for them. For surely, if he can indict Ctesiphon
on my account, he would not have forborne to indict me myself
had he thought he could convict me. In short, whatever else he
saw me doing to your prejudice, whether mentioned or not mentioned
in his catalogue of slander, there are laws for such things,
and trials, and judgments, with sharp and severe penalties, all
of which he might have enforced against me; and, had he done
so--had he thus pursued the proper method with me--his charges
would have been consistent with his conduct. But now he has
declined the straightforward and just course, avoided all proofs
of guilt at the time, and after this long interval gets up to
play his part withal--a heap of accusation, ribaldry, and scandal.
Then he arraigns me, but prosecutes the defendant. His hatred
of me he makes the prominent part of the whole contest; yet, without
having ever met me upon that ground, he openly seeks to deprive
a third party of his privileges. Now, men of Athens, besides
all the other arguments that may be urged in Ctesiphon's behalf,
this, methinks, may very fairly be alleged--that we should try
our quarrel by ourselves; not leave our private dispute and look
what third party we can damage. That, surely, were the height
Demosthenes now enters upon an elaborate review of the history of
Athens from the beginning of the Phocian war, his own relations
thereto, and the charges of Æschines in connection therewith,
fortifying his defence with numerous citations from public
documents, and boldly arraigning the political principles and
policy of his opponent, whom he accuses of being in frequent
communication with the emissaries of Philip--"a spy by nature,
and an enemy to his country." In the following terms he speaks
of his own public services, and reminds Æschines that the people
do not forget them:
"Many great and glorious enterprises has the Commonwealth,
Æschines, undertaken and succeeded in through me; and she did
not forget them. Here is the proof. On the election of a person
to speak the funeral oration immediately after the event, you
were proposed; but the people would not have you, notwithstanding
your fine voice; nor Dema'des, though he had just made the peace;
nor He-ge'mon, nor any other of your party--but me. And when
you and Pyth'ocles came forward in a brutal and shameful manner
(oh, merciful Heaven!) and urged the same accusations against
me which you now do, and abused me, they elected me all the more.
The reason--you are not ignorant of it, yet I will tell you.
The Athenians knew as well the loyalty and zeal with which I
conducted their affairs as the dishonesty of you and your party;
for what you denied upon oath in our prosperity you confessed
in the misfortunes of the republic. They considered, therefore,
that men who got security for their politics by the public
disasters had been their enemies long before, and were then
avowedly such. They thought it right, also, that the person who
was to speak in honor of the fallen, and celebrate their valor,
should not have sat under the same roof or at the same table
with their antagonists; that he should not revel there and sing
a pæan over the calamities of Greece in company with their
murderers, and then come here and receive distinction; that he
should not with his voice act the mourner of their fate, but that
he should lament over them with his heart. And such sincerity
they found in themselves and me, but not in any of you: therefore
they elected me, and not you. Nor, while the people felt thus,
did the fathers and brothers of the deceased, who were chosen
by the people to perform their obsequies, feel differently. For
having to order the funeral (according to custom) at the house
of the nearest relative of the deceased, they ordered it at mine
--and with reason: because, though each to his own was nearer
of kin than I was, no one was so near to them all collectively.
He that had the deepest interest in their safety and success
must surely feel the deepest sorrow at their unhappy and unmerited
misfortune. Read the epitaph inscribed upon their monument by
public authority. In this, Æschines, you will find a proof of
your absurdity, your malice, your abandoned baseness. Read!
"'These are the patriot brave who, side by side,
Stood to their arms and dashed the foeman's pride:
Firm in their valor, prodigal of life,
Hades they chose the arbiter of strife;
That Greeks might ne'er to haughty victors bow,
Nor thraldom's yoke, nor dire oppression know,
They, fought, they bled, and on their country's breast
(Such was the doom of Heaven) these warriors rest:
Gods never lack success, nor strive in vain,
But man must suffer what the Fates ordain.'
"Do you hear, Æschines, in this very inscription, that 'the gods
never lack success, nor strive in vain?' Not to the statesman
does it ascribe the power of giving victory in battle, but to
the gods. But one thing, O Athenians, surprised me more than
all--that, when Æschines mentioned the late misfortunes of the
country, he felt not as became a well-disposed and upright citizen;
he shed no tear, experienced no such emotion: with a loud voice,
exulting and straining his throat, he imagined apparently that
he was accusing me, while he was giving proof against himself
that our distresses touched him not.
"Two things, men of Athens, are characteristic of a well-disposed
citizen; so may I speak of myself and give the least offence.
In authority his constant aim should be the dignity and
pre-eminence of the Commonwealth; in all times and circumstances
his spirit should be loyal. This depends upon nature; power and
might upon other things. Such a spirit, you will find, I have
ever sincerely cherished. Only see! When my person was
demanded--when they brought Amphictyonic suits against me--when
they menaced--when they promised--when they set these miscreants
like wild beasts upon me--never in any way have I abandoned my
affection for you. From the very beginning I chose an honest
and straightforward course in politics, to support the honor,
the power, the glory of my fatherland; these to exalt, in these
to have my being. I do not walk about the market-place gay and
cheerful because the stranger has prospered, holding out my right
hand and congratulating those who I think will report it yonder,
and on any news of our own success shudder and groan and stoop
to the earth like these impious men who rail at Athens, as if
in so doing they did not rail at themselves; who look abroad,
and if the foreigner thrives by the distresses of Greece, are
thankful for it, and say we should keep him so thriving to all
"Never, O ye gods, may those wishes be confirmed by you! If
possible, inspire even in these men a better sense and feeling!
But if they are indeed incurable, destroy them by themselves;
exterminate them on land and sea; and for the rest of us, grant
that we may speedily be released from our present fears, and
enjoy a lasting deliverance." [Footnote: Lord Brougham says that
"the music of this closing passage (in the original) is almost
as fine as the sense is impressive and grand, and the manner
dignified and calm," and he admits the difficulty of preserving
this in a translation. His own translation of the passage is as
follows: "Let not, O gracious God, let not such conduct receive
any measure of sanction from thee! Rather plant even in these
men a better spirit and better feelings! But if they are wholly
incurable, then pursue them, yea, themselves by themselves, to
utter and untimely perdition, by land and by sea; and to us who
are spared, vouchsafe to grant the speediest rescue from our
impending alarms, and an unshaken security."]
--Trans. by CHARLES RANN KENNEDY.
Æschines lost his case, and, not having obtained a fifth part
of the votes, became himself liable to a penalty, and soon left
the country in disgrace.
* * * * *
II. THE WARS THAT FOLLOWED ALEXANDER'S DEATH.
When the intelligence of Alexander's death reached Greece the
country was already on the eve of a revolution against Antip'ater.
Athens found little difficulty in uniting several of the states
with herself in a confederacy against him, and met with some
successes in what is known as the La'mian war. But the movement
was short-lived, as Antipater completely annihilated the
confederate army in the battle of Cran'non (322 B.C.). Athens
was directed to abolish her democratic form of government, pay
the expenses of the war, and surrender a number of her most famous
men, including Demosthenes. The latter, however, escaped from
Athens, and sought refuge in the Temple of Poseidon, in the island
of Calaure'a. Here he took poison, and expired as he was being
led from the temple by a satellite of Antipater.
The sudden death of Alexander left the government in a very
unsettled condition. As he had appointed no successor, immediately
following his death a council of his generals was held, and the
following division of his conquests was agreed upon: Ptolemy
Soter was to have Egypt and the adjacent countries; Macedonia
and Greece were divided between Antipater and Crat'erus; Antig'onus
was given Phrygia, Lycia, and Pamphyl'ia; Lysim'achus was granted
Thrace; and Eume'nes was given Cappadocia and Paphlagonia. Soon
after this division Perdic'cas, then the most powerful of the
generals who retained control in the East, and had the custody
of the infant Alexander, proclaimed himself regent, and at once
set out on a career of conquest. Antigonus, Antipater, Craterus,
and Ptolemy leagued against him, however, and in 321, after an
unsuccessful campaign in Egypt, Perdiccas was murdered by his
Antipater died in 318, and shortly after his death his son
Cassander made himself master of Greece and Macedon, and caused
the surviving members of Alexander's family to be put to death.
Antigonus had, before this time, conquered Eumenes, and overrun
Syria and Asia Minor; but his increasing power led Ptolemy,
Seleu'cus, Lysimachus, and Cassander to unite against him; and
they fought with him the famous battle of Ipsus, in Phrygia,
that ended in the death of Antigonus and the dissolution of his
empire (301 B.C.). A new partition of the country was now made
into four independent kingdoms: Ptolemy was given Egypt and Libya;
Seleucus received the countries embraced in the eastern conquests
of Alexander, and the whole region between the coast of Syria
and the river Euphrates; Lysimachus received the northern and
western portions of Asia Minor, and Cassander retained the
sovereignty of Greece and Macedon.
Of these kingdoms the most powerful were Syria and Egypt; the
former of which continued under the dynasty of the Seleucidæ,
and the latter under that of the Ptolemies, until both were
absorbed by the Roman empire. Of all the Ptolemies, Ptolemy
Philadelphus was the most eminent. He was not only a sovereign
of ability, but was also distinguished for his amiable qualities
of mind, for his encouragement of the arts and commerce, and he
was called the richest and most powerful monarch of his age. He
was born in 309 B.C. and died in 247. The Greek poet THEOCRITUS,
who lived much at his court, thus characterizes him:
What is his character? A royal spirit
To point out genius and encourage merit;
The poet's friend, humane and good and kind;
Of manners gentle, and of generous mind.
He marks his friend, but more he marks his foe;
His hand is ever ready to bestow:
Request with reason, and he'll grant the thing,
And what be gives, he gives it like a king.
The poet then sings the praises of the king, and describes the
strength, the wealth, and the magnificence of his kingdom, in
the following striking lines:
Here, too, O Ptolemy, beneath thy sway
What cities glitter to the beams of day!
Lo! with thy statelier pomp no kingdom vies,
While round thee thrice ten thousand cities rise.
Struck by the terror of thy flashing sword,
Syria bowed down, Arabia called thee Lord;
Phoenicia trembled, and the Libyan plain,
With the black Ethiop, owned thy wide domain:
E'en Lesser Asia and her isles grew pale
As o'er the billows passed thy crowd of sail.
Earth feels thy nod, and all the subject sea;
And each resounding river rolls for thee.
And while, around, thy thick battalions flash,
Thy proud steeds neighing for the warlike clash--
Through all thy marts the tide of commerce flows,
And wealth beyond a monarch's grandeur glows.
Such gold-haired Ptolemy! whose easy port
Speaks the soft polish of the mannered court;
And whose severer aspect, as he wields
The spear, dire-blazing, frowns in tented fields.
And though he guards, while other kingdoms own
His conquering arms, the hereditary throne,
Yet in vast heaps no useless treasure stored
Lies, like the riches of an emmet's hoard;
To mighty kings his bounty he extends,
To states confederate and illustrious friends.
No bard at Bacchus' festival appears,
Whose lyre has power to charm the ravished ears,
But he bright honors and rewards imparts,
Due to his merits, equal to his arts;
And poets hence, for deathless song renowned,
The generous fame of Ptolemy resound.
At what more glorious can the wealthy aim
Than thus to purchase fair and lasting fame?
-Trans. by FAWKES.
Cassander survived the establishment of his power in Greece only
four years, and as his sons quarreled over the succession;
Demetrius, son of Antigonus, seized the opportunity to interfere
in their disputes, cut off the brother who had invited his aid,
and made himself master of the throne of Macedon, which was held
by him and his posterity, except during a brief interruption
after his death, down to the time of the Roman Conquest. For
a number of years succeeding the death of Demetrius, Macedon,
Greece, and western Asia were harassed with the wars excited by
the various aspirants to power; and in this situation of affairs
a storm, unseen in the distance, but that had long been gathering,
suddenly burst upon Macedon, threatening to convert, by its ravages,
the whole Grecian peninsula into a scene of desolation.
* * * * *
III. THE CELTIC INVASION, AND THE WAR WITH PYRRHUS.
A vast horde of Celtic barbarians had for some time been collecting
around the head-waters of the Adriatic. Influenced by hopes of
plunder they now overran Macedon to the borders of Thessaly,
defeating Ptolemy Ceraunus, then King of Macedonia, in a great
battle. The walled towns alone held out until the storm had spent
its fury, when the Celts gradually withdrew from a country in
which there was but little left to tempt their cupidity. But in
the following year (279 B.C.) another band of them, estimated at
over two hundred thousand men, overran Macedonia, passed through
Thessaly, defeated the allied Grecians at Thermopylæ, and then
marched into Phocis, for the purpose of plundering the treasures
of Delphi. But their atrocities aroused against them the whole
population, and only a remnant of them gained their original
seats on the Adriatic.
The throne of Macedon now found an enemy in Pyrrhus, King of
Epirus, a connection of the royal family of Macedon, and of whose
exploits Roman history furnishes a full account. A desultory
contest was maintained for several years between Pyrrhus and
Antigonus II., the son of Demetrius, and then King of Macedon.
While Pyrrhus was engaged in this war, Cleon'ymus, of the blood
royal of Sparta, who had been excluded from the throne by the
Spartan people, to give place to A'reus, invited Pyrrhus to his
aid. Pyrrhus marched to Sparta, and, supposing that he should
not meet with any resistance, ordered his tents to be pitched,
and sat quietly down before the city. Night coming on, the Spartans
in consternation met in council, and resolved to send their women
to Crete for safety. Thereupon the women assembled and remonstrated
against it; and the queen, Archidami'a, being appointed to speak
for the rest, went into the council-hall with a sword in her
hand, and boldly upbraiding the men, told them they did their
wives great wrong if they thought them so faint-hearted as to
live after Sparta was destroyed. The women then rushed to the
defences of the city, and spent the night aiding the men in
digging trenches; and when Pyrrhus attacked on the morrow, he
was so severely repulsed that he soon abandoned the siege and
retired from Laconia. The patriotic spirit and heroism of the
Spartan women on this occasion are well characterized in the
The chiefs were met in the council-hall;
Their words were sad and few,
They were ready to fight, and ready to fall,
As the sons of heroes do.
And moored in the harbor of Gyth'e-um lay
The last of the Spartan fleet,
That should bear the Spartan women away
To the sunny shores of Crete.
Their hearts went back to the days of old;
They thought of the world-wide shock,
When the Persian hosts like an ocean rolled
To the foot of the Grecian rock;
And they turned their faces, eager and pale,
To the rising roar in the street,
As if the clank of the Spartan mail
Were the tramp of the conqueror's feet.
It was Archidamia, the Spartan queen,
Brave as her father's steel;
She stood like the silence that comes between
The flash and the thunder-peal.
She looked in the eyes of the startled crowd;
Calmly she gazed around;
Her voice was neither low nor loud,
But it rang like her sword on the ground.
"Spartans!" she said--and her woman's face
Flushed out both pride and shame--
"I ask, by the memory of your race,
Are ye worthy of the name?
"Ye have bidden us seek new hearths and graves,
Beyond the reach of the foe;
And now, by the dash of the blue sea-waves,
We swear that we will not go!
"Is the name of Pyrrhus to blanch your cheeks?
Shall he burn, and kill, and destroy?
Are ye not sons of the deathless Greeks
Who fired the gates of Troy?
"What though his feet have scathless stood
In the rush of the Punic foam?
Though his sword be red to its hilt with the blood
That has beat at the heart of Rome?
"Brothers and sons! we have reared you men:
Our walls are the ocean swell;
Our winds blew keen down the rocky glen
Where the staunch Three Hundred fell.
"Our hearts are drenched in the wild sea-flow,
In the light of the hills and the sky;
And the Spartan women, if need be so,
Will teach the men to die.
"We are brave men's mothers, and brave men's wives:
We are ready to do and dare;
We are ready to man your walls with our lives,
And string your bows with our hair.
"Let the young and brave lie down to-night,
And dream of the brave old dead,
Their broad shields bright for to-morrow's fight,
Their swords beneath their head.
"Our breasts are better than bolts and bars;
We neither wail nor weep;
We will light our torches at the stars,
And work while our warriors sleep.
"We hold not the iron in our blood
Viler than strangers' gold;
The memory of our motherhood
Is not to be bought and sold.
"Shame to the traitor heart that springs
To the faint soft arms of Peace,
If the Roman eagle shook his wings
At the very gates of Greece!
"Ask not the mothers who gave you birth
To bid you turn and flee;
When Sparta is trampled from the earth
Her women can die, and be free."
Soon after the repulse at Sparta, Pyrrhus again marched against
Antig'onus; but having attacked Argos on the way, and after having
entered within the walls, he was killed by a tile thrown by a
poor woman from a house-top. The death of Pyrrhus forms an
important epoch in Grecian history, as it put an end to the
struggle for power among Alexander's successors in the West, and
left the field clear for the final contest between the liberties
of Greece and the power of Macedon. Antigonus now made himself
master of the greater part of Peloponnesus, and then sought to
reduce Athens, the defence of which was aided by an Egyptian
fleet and a Spartan army. Athens was at length taken (262 B.C.),
and all Greece, with the exception of Sparta, seemed to lie
helpless at the feet of Antigonus, who little dreamed that the
league of a few Achæan cities was to become a formidable
adversary to him and his house.
* * * * *
IV. THE ACHÆ'AN LEAGUE.--PHILIP V, OF MACEDON.
The Achæan League at first comprised twelve towns of Acha'ia,
which were associated together for mutual safety, forming a little
federal republic. But about twenty years after the death of Pyrrhus
other cities gave in their adherence, until the confederacy
embraced nearly the whole of the Peloponnesus. Athens had been
reduced to great misery by Antigonus, and was in no condition to
aid the League, while Sparta vigorously opposed it, and finally
succeeded in inducing Corinth and Argos to withdraw from it.
Sparta subsequently made war against the Achæans, and by her
successes compelled them to call in the aid of the Macedonians,
their former enemies. Antigonus readily embraced this opportunity
to restore the influence of his family in southern Greece, and,
marching against the Lacedæmonians, he obtained a decisive victory
which placed Sparta at his mercy; but he used his victory
moderately, and granted the Spartans peace on liberal terms
(221 B.C.). Antigonus died soon after this success, and was
succeeded by his nephew and adopted son, Philip V., a youth of
only seventeen. The Æto'lians, a confederacy of rude Grecian
tribes, aided by the Spartans, now began a series of unprovoked
aggressions on some of the Peloponnesian states. The Messenians,
whose territory they had invaded by way of the western coast of
Peloponnesus, called upon the Achæans for assistance; and the
youthful Philip having been placed at the head of the Achæan
League, a general war began between the Macedonians and Achæans
on the one side, and the Ætolians and their allies on the other,
that continued with great severity and obstinacy for four years.
Philip was on the whole successful, but new and more ambitious
designs led him to put an end to the unprofitable contest. The
great struggle going on between Rome and Carthage attracted his
attention, and he thought that an alliance with the latter would
open to himself prospects of future conquest and glory. So a
treaty was concluded with the Ætolians, which left all the
parties to the war in the enjoyment of their respective
possessions (217 B.C.), and Philip prepared to enter the field
After the battle between Carthage and Rome at Can'næ (216 B.C.),
which seemed to have extinguished the last hopes of Rome, Philip
sent envoys to Hannibal, the Carthaginian general, and concluded
with him a treaty of strict alliance. He next sailed with a fleet
up the Adriatic, to assist Deme'trius of Pharos, who had been
driven from his Illyrian dominions by the Romans; but while
besieging Apollo'nia, a small town in Illyria, he was met and
defeated by the Roman prætor M. Vale'rius Lævi'nus, and was forced
to burn his ships and retreat overland to Macedon. Such was the
issue of his first encounter with the Romans. The latter now
turned their attention to Greece (211 B.C.), and contrived to
keep Philip busy at home by inciting a violation of the recent
treaty with the Ætolians, and by inducing Sparta and Elis to
unite in a war against Macedon. Philip was for a time supported
by the Achæans, under their renowned leader Philopoe'men; but
Athens, which Philip had besieged, called in the aid of a Roman
fleet (199 B.C.), and finally the Achæans themselves, being divided
into factions, accepted terms of peace with the Romans. Philip
continued to struggle against his increasing enemies until his
defeat in the great battle of Cynoceph'alæ (197 B.C.), by the
Roman consul Titus Flamin'ius, when he purchased peace by the
sacrifice of his navy, the payment of a tribute, and the
resignation of his supremacy over the Grecian states.
At this time there was a Grecian epigrammatic poet, ALCÆ'US,
of Messe'ne, who was an ardent partisan of the Roman consul
Flaminius, and who celebrated the defeat of Philip in some of
his epigrams. He wrote the following on the expedition of
Xerxes from Persia led his mighty host,
And Titus his from fair Italia's coast.
Both warred with Greece; but here the difference see:
That brought a yoke--this gives us liberty.
He also wrote the following sarcastic epigram on the Macedonians
of Philip's army who were slain at Cynocephalæ:
Unmourned, unburied, passenger, we lie,
Three myriad sons of fruitful Thessaly,
In this wide field of monumental clay.
Ætolian Mars had marked us for his prey;
Or he who, bursting from the Ausonian fold,
In Titus' form the waves of battle rolled;
And taught Æma'thia's boastful lord to run
So swift that swiftest stags were by his speed outdone.
Philip is said to have retorted this insult by the following
inscription on a tree, in which he pretty plainly states the
chastisement Alcæus would receive were he to fall into the hands
of his enemy:
Unbarked, and leafless, passenger, you see,
Fixed in this mound Alcæus' gallows-tree.
--Trans. by J. H. MERIVALE.
* * * * *
V. GREECE CONQUERED BY ROME.
At the Isthmian games, held at Corinth the year after the downfall
of Philip, the Roman consul Flaminius, a true friend of Greece,
under the authority of the Roman Senate caused proclamation to
be made, that Rome "took off all impositions and withdrew all
garrisons from Greece, and restored liberty, and their own laws
and privileges, to the several states" (196 B.C.). The deluded
Greeks received this announcement with exultation, and the highest
honors which a grateful people could bestow were showered upon
Flaminius. [Footnote: See a more full account of the events
connected with this proclamation, in Mosaics of Roman History.]
A Roman master stands on Grecian ground,
And to the concourse of the Isthmian games
He, by his herald's voice, aloud proclaims
"The liberty of Greece!" The words rebound
Until all voices in one voice are drowned;
Glad acclamation by which the air was rent!
And birds, high flying in the element,
Dropped to the earth, astonished at the sound!
A melancholy echo of that noise
Doth sometimes hang on musing Fancy's ear.
Ah! that a conqueror's words should be so dear;
Ah! that a boon should shed such rapturous joys!
A gift of that which is not to be given
By all the blended powers of earth and heaven.
The Greeks soon realized that the freedom which Rome affected
to bestow was tendered by a power that could withdraw it at
pleasure. First, the Ætolians were reduced to poverty and deprived
of their independence, for having espoused the cause of Anti'ochus
of Syria, the enemy of Rome. At a later period Perseus, the
successor of Philip on the throne of Macedon, being driven into
a war by Roman ambition, finally lost his kingdom in the battle
of Pydna (168 B.C.); and then the Achæans were charged with having
aided Macedon in her war with Rome, and, without a shadow of
proof against them, one thousand of their worthiest citizens
were seized and sent to Rome for trial (167 B.C.). Here they
were kept seventeen years without a hearing, when three hundred
of their number, all who survived, were restored to their country.
These and other acts of cruelty aroused a spirit of vengeance
against the Romans, that soon culminated in war. But the Achæans
and their allies were defeated by the consul Mum'mius, near
Corinth (146 B.C.), and that city, then the richest in Greece,
was plundered of its treasures and consigned to the flames.
Corinth was specially distinguished for its perfection in the
arts of painting and sculpture, and the poet ANTIP'ATER, of Sidon,
thus describes the desolation of the city after its destruction
by the Romans:
Where, Corinth, are thy glories now--
Thy ancient wealth, thy castled brow,
Thy solemn fanes, thy halls of state,
Thy high-born dames, thy crowded gate?
There's not a ruin left to tell
Where Corinth stood, how Corinth fell.
The Nereids of thy double sea
Alone remain to wail for thee.
--Trans. by GOLDWIN SMITH.
The last blow to the liberties of the Hellenic race had now been
struck, and all Greece, as far as Epi'rus and Macedonia, became
a Roman province under the name of Achaia. Says THIRLWALL, "The
end of the Achæan war was the last stage of the lingering process
by which Rome enclosed her victim in the coils of her insidious
diplomacy, covered it with the slime of her sycophants and
hirelings, crushed it when it began to struggle, and then calmly
preyed upon its vitals." But although Greece had lost her
independence, and many of her cities were desolate, or had sunk
into insignificance, she still retained her renown for philosophy
and the arts, and became the instructor of her conquerors. In
the well-known words of HORACE,
When conquered Greece brought in her captive arts,
She triumphed o'er her savage conquerors' hearts.
-Bk. II. Epistle 1.
As another has said, "She still retained a sovereignty which
the Romans could not take from her, and to which they were obliged
to pay homage." In whatever quarter Rome turned her victorious
arms she encountered Greek colonies speaking the Greek language,
and enjoying the arts of civilization. All these were absorbed
by her, but they were not lost. They diffused Greek customs,
thought, speech, and art over the Latin world, and Hellas survived
in the intellectual life of a new empire.
LITERATURE AND ART AFTER THE CLOSE OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR.
I. THE DRAMA.
As we have seen in a former chapter, Greek tragedy attained its
zenith with the three great masters--Æschylus, Sophocles, and
Euripides. As MAHAFFY well says, "Its later annals are but a
history of decay; and of the vast herd of latter tragedians two
only, and two of the earliest--Ion of Chi'os, and Ag'athon--can
be called living figures in a history of Greek literature." Even
these, it seems, wrote before Sophocles and Euripides had closed
their careers. But few fragments of their genius have come down
to us. Longi'nus said of Ion, that he was fluent and polished,
rather than bold or sublime; while Agathon has been characterized
as "the creator of a new tragic style, combining the verbal
elegancies and ethical niceties of the Sophists with artistic
claims of a luxurious kind."
While tragedy declined, with comedy the case was different, for
its changes were progressive. Most writers divide Greek comedy
into the Old, the Middle, and the New; and although the boundary
lines between the three orders are very indistinct, each has
certain well-defined characteristics. It is asserted, as we have
elsewhere noted, that the chief subjects of the first were the
politics of the day and the characters and deeds of leading persons;
that the chief peculiarity of the second, in which the action
of the chorus was much curtailed, was the exclusion of personal
and political criticism, and the adoption of parodies of the
gods and ridicule of certain types of character; and that the
New Comedy, in which the chorus disappeared, aimed to paint scenes
and characters of domestic life. The Middle Comedy, however,
still continued to be in some degree personal and political,
and even in the New Comedy these features of the Old are frequently
Aristoph'anes, the leader of the Old Comedy, toward the close
of his life produced The Frogs--a work that signalized the
transition from the Old to the Middle Comedy. The latter school,
however, took its rise in Sicily, and its most distinguished
authors were Antiph'anes, probably of Athens, born in 404, and
Alex'is of Thu'rii, born about 394. The New Comedy arose after
Athens had fallen under Macedonian supremacy, and as many as
sixty-four poets belong to this period, the later of whom composed
their plays in Alexandria, in the time of Alexander's successors.
The founder of this school was Phile'mon of Soli, in Cilicia,
born about 360 B.C. Of his ninety plays fragments of fifty-six
remain. The majority of these have been described as "elegant
but not profound reflections on the 'changes and chances of this
mortal life.'" A late critic chooses the following fragment as
illustrative of Philemon, and at the same time favorable to his
Have faith in God, and fear; seek not to know him;
For thou wilt gain naught else beyond thy search;
Whether he is or is not, shun to ask:
As one who is, and sees thee, always fear him.
--Trans. by J. A. SYMONDS.
The acknowledged master and representative of this period, however,
and the last of the classical poets of Greece, was Menan'der,
an Athenian, son of Diopi'thes, the general whom Demosthenes
defended in his speech "On the Chersonese," and a nephew of the
poet Alexis. Menander was born in 342 B.C.; and although only
fragments of his writings exist, he was so closely copied or
imitated by the Roman comic poets that his style and character
can be very clearly traced. MR. SYMONDS thus describes him: "His
personal beauty, the love of refined pleasure that distinguished
him in life, the serene and genial temper of his wisdom, the
polish of his verse, and the harmony of parts he observed in
composition, justify us in calling Menander the Sophocles of
comedy. If we were to judge by the fragments transmitted to us, we
should have to say that Menander's comedy was ethical philosophy
in verse; so mature is its wisdom, so weighty its language, so
grave its tone. The brightness of the beautiful Greek spirit
is sobered down in him almost to sadness. Yet the fact that
Stobæ'us found him a fruitful source of sententious quotations,
and that alphabetical anthologies were made of his proverbial
sayings, ought not to obscure his fame for drollery and humor.
If old men appreciated his genial or pungent worldly wisdom,
boys and girls read him, we are told, for his love-stories."
Menander was an intimate friend of Epicu'rus, the philosopher,
and is supposed to have adopted his teachings. On this point,
however, MR. SYMONDS thus remarks: "Speaking broadly, the
philosophy in vogue at Athens during the period of the New Comedy
was what in modern days is known as Epicureanism. Yet it would be
unjust to confound the grave and genial wisdom of Menander with
so trivial a philosophy as that which may be summed up in the
sentence 'eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.' A fragment from
an unknown play of his expresses the pathos of human existence
with a depth of feeling that is inconsistent with mere
"'When thou would'st know thyself, what man thou art,
Look at the tombstones as thou passest by:
Within those monuments lie bones and dust
Of monarchs, tyrants, sages, men whose pride
Rose high because of wealth, or noble blood,
Or haughty soul, or loveliness of limb;
Yet none of these things strove for them 'gainst time;
One common death hath ta'en all mortal men.
See thou to this, and know thee who thou art.'"
As EUGENE LAWRENCE says: "Most modern comedies are founded on
those of Menander. They revive their characters, repeat their
jokes, transplant their humor; and the wit of Molière, Shakspeare,
or Sheridan is often the same that once awoke shouts of laughter
on the Attic stage."
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