The Boys' and Girls' Plutarch Being Parts of The "Lives" of Plutarch Edited for Boys and Girls With Introductions

Part 1 out of 8

The Boys' and Girls' Plutarch
Being Parts of The "Lives" of Plutarch
Edited for Boys and Girls With Introductions
By John S. White, LL.D.
Head-Master Berkeley School

Table of Contents

Life of Theseus
Life of Romulus
Comparison of Theseus and Romulus
Life of Lycurgus
Life of Solon
Life of Themistocles
Life of Camillus
Life of Pericles
Life of Demosthenes
Life of Cicero
Comparison of Demosthenes and Cicero
Life of Alcibiades
Life of Coriolanus
Comparison of Alcibiades and Coriolanus
Life of Aristides
Life of Cimon
Life of Pompey
The Engines of Archimedes; from the Life of Marcellus
Description of Cleopatra; from the Life of Antony
Anecdotes from the Life of Agesilaus
The Brothers; from the Life of Timoleon
The Wound of Philopoemen
A Roman Triumph; from the Life of Paulus Aemilius
The Noble Character of Caius Fabricius; from the Life of Pyrrhus
From the Life of Quintus Fabius Maximus
The Cruelty of Lucius Cornelius Sylla
The Luxury of Lucullus
From the Life of Sertorius the Roman, who endeavored to establish
a separate Government for himself in Spain
The Scroll; from the Life of Lysander
The Character of Marcus Cato
The Sacred Theban Band; from the Life of Pelopidas
From the Life of Titus Flamininus, Conqueror of Philip
Life of Alexander the Great
The Death of Caesar


As geographers crowd into the edges of their maps parts of the
world which they do not know about, adding notes in the margin to
the effect that beyond this lies nothing but sandy deserts full of
wild beasts, unapproachable bogs, Seythian ice, or frozen sea, so,
in this great work of mine, in which I have compared the lives of
the greatest men with one another, after passing through those
periods which probable reasoning can reach to and real history
find a footing in, I might very well say of those that are farther
off, Beyond this there is nothing but prodigies and fictions; the
only inhabitants are the poets and inventors of fables; there is
no credit, or certainty any farther. Yet, after publishing an
account of Lycurgus the lawgiver and Numa the king, I thought I
might, not without reason, ascend as high as to Romulus, being
brought by my history so near to his time. Considering therefore
with myself

Whom shall I set so great a man face to face?
Or whom oppose? Who's equal to the place?

(as Aeschylus expresses it), I found none so fit as he who peopled
the beautiful and far-famed city of Athens, to be set in
opposition with the father of the invincible and renowned city of
Rome. Let us hope that Fable may, in what shall follow, so submit
to the purifying processes of Reason as to take the character of
exact history. We shall beg that we may meet with candid readers,
and such as will receive with indulgence the stories of antiquity.

Theseus seemed to me to resemble Romulus in many particulars. Both
of them had the repute of being sprung from the gods.

Both warriors; that by all the world's allowed.

Both of them united with strength of body an equal vigor of mind;
and of the two most famous cities of the world, the one built in
Rome, and the other made Athens be inhabited. Neither of them
could avoid domestic misfortunes nor jealousy at home; but toward
the close of their lives are both of them said to have incurred
great odium with their countrymen, if, that is, we may take the
stories least like poetry as our guide to truth.

Theseus was the son of Aegeus and Aethra. His lineage, by his
father's side, ascends as high as to Erechtheus and the first
inhabitants of Attica. By his mother's side, he was descended of
Pelops, who was the most powerful of all the kings of

When Aegeus went from the home of Aethra in Troezen to Athens, he
left a sword and a pair of shoes, hiding them under a great stone
that had a hollow in it exactly fitting them; and went away making
her only privy to it, and commanding her that, if, when their son
came to man's estate, he should be able to lift up the stone and
take away what he had left there, she should send him away to him
with those things with all secrecy, and with injunctions to him as
much as possible to conceal his journey from everyone; for he
greatly feared the Pallantidae, who were continually mutinying
against him, and despised him for his want of children, they
themselves being fifty brothers, all sons of Pallas, the brother
of Aegeus.

When Aethra's son was born, some say that he was immediately named
Theseus, from the tokens which his father had put under the stone;
others that he received his name afterwards at Athens, when Aegeus
acknowledged him for his son. He was brought up under his
grandfather Pittheus, and had a tutor and attendant set over him
named Connidas, to whom the Athenians, even to this time, the day
before the feast that is dedicated to Theseus, sacrifice a ram,
giving this honor to his memory upon much juster grounds than to
Silanio and Parrhasius, for making pictures and statues of
Theseus. There being then a custom for the Grecian youth, upon
their first coming to a man's estate, to go to Delphi and offer
firstfruits of their hair to the god, Theseus also went thither,
and a place there to this day is yet named Thesea, as it is said,
from him. He clipped only the fore part of his head, as Homer says
the Abantes did. And this sort of tonsure was from him named
Theseis. The Abantes first used it, not in imitation of the
Arabians, as some imagine, nor of the Mysians, but because they
were a warlike people, and used to close fighting, and above all
other nations, accustomed to engage hand to hand; as Archilochus
testifies in these verses:

Slings shall not whirl, nor many arrows fly,
When on the plain the battle joins; but swords,
Man against man, the deadly conflict try,
As is the practice of Euboea's lords
Skilled with the spear.-

Therefore, that they might not give their enemies a hold by their
hair, they cut it in this manner. They write also that this was
the reason why Alexander gave command to his captains that all the
beards of the Macedonians should be shaved, as being the readiest
hold for an enemy.

Aethra for some time concealed the true parentage of Theseus, and
a report was given out by Pittheus that he was the son of Neptune;
for the Troezenians pay Neptune the highest veneration. He is
their tutelar god, to him they offer all their firstfruits, and in
his honor stamp their money with a trident.

Theseus displaying not only great strength of body, but equal
bravery, and a quickness alike and force of understanding, his
mother Aethra, conducting him to the stone, and informing him who
was his true father, commanded him to take from thence the tokens
that Aegeus had left, and to sail to Athens. He without any
difficulty set himself to the stone and lifted it up; but refused
to take his journey by sea, though it was much the safer way, and
though his mother and grandfather begged him to do so. For it was
at that time very dangerous to go by land on the road to Athens,
no part of it being free from robbers and murderers. That age
produced a sort of men, in force of hand, and swiftness of foot,
and strength of body, excelling the ordinary rate, and wholly
incapable of fatigue; making use, however, of these gifts of
nature to no good or profitable purpose for mankind, but rejoicing
and priding themselves in insolence, and taking the benefit of
their superior strength in the exercise of inhumanity and cruelty,
and in seizing, forcing, and committing all manner of outrages
upon everything that fell into their hands; all respect for
others, all justice, they thought, all equity and humanity, though
naturally lauded by common people, either out of want of courage
to commit injuries or fear to receive them, yet no way concerned
those who were strong enough to win for themselves. Some of these
Hercules destroyed and cut off in his passage through these
countries, but some, escaping his notice, while he was passing by,
fled and hid themselves, or else were spared by him in contempt of
their abject submission; and after that Hercules fell into
misfortune, and, having slain Iphitus, retired to Lydia, and for a
long time was there slave to Omphale, a punishment which he had
imposed upon himself for the murder. Then, indeed, Lydia enjoyed
high peace and security, but in Greece and the countries about it
the like villainies again revived and broke out, there being none
to repress or chastise them. It was therefore a very hazardous
journey to travel by land from Athens to Peloponnesus; and
Pittheus, giving him an exact account of each of these robbers and
villains, their strength, and the cruelty they used to all
strangers, tried to persuade Theseus to go by sea. But he, it
seems, had long since been secretly fired by the glory of
Hercules, held him in the highest estimation, and was never more
satisfied than in listening to any that gave an account of him;
especially those that had seen him, or had been present at any
action or saying of his. So that he was altogether in the same
state of feeling as, in after ages, Themistocles was, when he said
that he could not sleep for the trophy of Miltiades; entertaining
such admiration for the virtues of Hercules that in his dreams
were all of that hero's actions, and in the day a continual
emulation stirred him up to perform the like. Besides, they were
related, being born of own cousins. For Aethra was daughter of
Pittheus, and Alcmena of Lysidice; and Lysidice and Pittheus were
brother and sister, children of Hippodamia and Pelpos. He thought
it therefore a dishonorable thing, and not to be endured, that
Hercules should go out everywhere, and purge both land and sea
from the wicked men, and he should fly from the like adventures
that actually came his way; not showing his true father as good
evidence of the greatness of his birth by noble and worthy
actions, as by the tokens that he brought with him, the shoes and
the sword.

With this mind and these thoughts, he set forward with a design to
do injury to nobody, but to repel and avenge himself of all those
that should offer any. And first of all, in a set combat he slew
Periphtes, in the neighborhood of Epidaurus, who used a club for
his arms, and from thence had the name of Corynetes, or the club-
bearer; who seized upon him, and forbade him to go forward in his
journey. Being pleased with the club, he took it, and made it his
weapon, continuing to use it as Hercules did the lion's skin, on
whose shoulders that served to prove how huge a beast he had
killed; and to the same end Theseus carried about him this club;
overcome indeed by him, but now, in his hands, invincible.

Passing on further towards the Isthmus of Peloponnesus, he slew
Sinnis, often surnamed the Bender of Pines, after the same manner
in which he himself had destroyed many others before. And this he
did without having either practiced or ever learnt the art of
bending these trees, to show that natural strength is above all
art. This Sinnis had a daughter of remarkable beauty and stature,
called Perigune, who, when her father was killed, fled, and was
sought after everywhere by Theseus; and coming into a place
overgrown with brushwood, shrubs, and asparagus-thorn, there, in a
childlike, innocent manner, prayed and begged them, as if they
understood her, to give shelter, with vows that if she escaped she
would never cut them down nor burn them. But Theseus calling upon
her, and giving her his promise that he would use her with
respect, and offer no injury, she came forth. Whence it is a
family usage amongst the people called Ioxids, from the name of
her grandson, Ioxus, both male and female, never to burn either
shrubs or asparagus-thorn, but to respect and honor them.

The Crommyonian sow, which they called Phaea, was a savage and
formidable wild beast, by no means an enemy to be despised.
Theseus killed her, going out of his way on purpose to meet and
engage her, so that he might not seem to perform all his great
exploits out of mere necessity; being also of opinion that it was
the part of a brave man to chastise villainous and wicked men when
attacked by them, but to seek out and overcome the more noble wild
beasts. Others relate that Phaea was a woman, a robber full of
cruelty, that lived in Crommyon, and had the name of Sow given her
from the foulness of her life and manners, and afterwards was
killed by Theseus. He slew also Sciron, upon the borders of
Megara, casting him down from the rocks, being, as most report, a
notorious robber of all passengers, and, as others add, accustomed
out of insolence and wantonness, to stretch forth his feet to
strangers, commanding them to wash them, and then while they did
it, with a kick to send them down the rock into the sea.

In Eleusis he killed Cercyon, the Arcadian, in a wrestling match.
And going on a little farther, in Erineus, he slew Damastes,
otherwise called Procrustes, forcing his body to the size of his
own bed, as he himself was used to do with all strangers; this he
did in imitation of Hercules, who always returned upon his
assailants the same sort of violence that they offered to him;
sacrificed Busiris, killed Antaeus in wrestling, and Cycnus in
single combat, and Termerus by breaking his skull in pieces
(whence, they say, comes the proverb of "a Termerian mischief"),
for it seems Termerus killed passengers that he met by running
with his head against them. And so also Theseus proceeded with the
same violence from which they had inflicted upon others, justly
suffering after the same manner of their own injustice.

As he went forward on his journey, and was come as far as the
River Cephisus, some of the race of the Phytalidae met him and
saluted him, and upon his desire to use the purifications, then in
custom, they performed them with all the usual ceremonies, and
having offered propitiatory sacrifices to the gods, invited him
and entertained him at their house, a kindness which, in all his
journey hitherto, he had not met.

On the eighth day of Cronius, now called Hecatombaeon, he arrived
at Athens, where he found the public affairs full of all
confusion, and divided into parties and factions. Aegeus also, and
his whole private family, laboring under the same distemper; for
Medea, having fled from Corinth, was living with him. She was
first aware of Theseus, whom as yet Aegeus did not know, and he
being in years, full of jealousies and suspicions, and fearing
everything by reason of the faction that was then in the city, she
easily persuaded him to kill him by poison at a banquet, to which
he was to be invited as a stranger. He, coming to the
entertainment, thought it not fit to discover himself at once,
but, willing to give his father the occasion of first finding him
out, the meat being on the table, he drew his sword as if he
designed to cut with it; Aegeus, at once recognizing the token,
threw down the cup of poison, and, questioning his son, embraced
him, and, having gathered together all his citizens, owned him
publicly before them, who, on their part, received him gladly for
the fame of his greatness and bravery.

The sons of Pallas, who were quiet, upon expectation of recovering
the kingdom after Aegeus's death, who was without issue, as soon
as Theseus appeared and was acknowledged the successor, highly
resenting that Aegeus first, as adopted son only of Pandion, and
not at all related to the family of Erechtheus, should be holding
the kingdom, and that after him, Theseus, a visitor and stranger,
should be destined to succeed to it, broke out into open war. And,
dividing themselves into two companies, one part of them marched
openly from Sphettus, with their father, against the city; the
other, hiding themselves in the village of Gargettus, lay in
ambush, with a design to set upon the enemy on both sides. They
had with them a crier of the township of Agnus, named Leos, who
discovered to Theseus all the designs of the Pallentidae. He
immediately fell upon those that lay in amuscade, and cut them all
off; upon tidings of which Pallas and his company fled and were

From hence they say is derived the custom among the people of the
township of Pallene to have no marriages or any alliance with the
people of Agnus, nor to suffer the criers to pronounce in their
proclamations the words used in all other parts of the country,
Acouete Leoi (Hear ye people), hating the very sound of Leo,
because of the treason of Leos.

Theseus, longing to be in action, and desirous also to make
himself popular, left Athens to fight with the bull of Marathon,
which did no small mischief to the inhabitants of Tetrapolis. And,
having overcome it, he brought it alive in triumph through the
city, and afterwards sacrificed it to the Delphian Apollo. The
story of Hecale, also, of her receiving and entertaining Theseus
in this expedition, seems to be not altogether void of truth; for
the townships round about, meeting upon a certain day, used to
offer a sacrifice, which they called Hecalesia, to Jupiter
Hecaleius, and to pay honor to Hecale, whom, by a diminutive name,
they called Hecalene, because she, while entertaining Theseus, who
was quite a youth, addressed him, as old people do, with similar
endearing diminutives; and having made a vow to Jupiter that he
was going to the fight, that, if he returned in safety, she would
offer sacrifices in thanks of it, and dying before he came back,
she had these honors given her by way of return for her
hospitality, by the command of Theseus, as Philochorus tells us.

Not long afterwards came the third time from Crete the collectors
of the tribute which the Athenians paid them upon the following
occasion. Androgeus having been treacherously murdered in the
confines of Attica, not only Minos, his father, put the Athenians
to extreme distress by a perpetual war, but the gods also laid
waste their country; both famine and pestilence lay heavy upon
them, and even their rivers were dried up. Being told by the
oracle that if they appeased and reconciled Minos, the anger of
the gods would cease and they should enjoy rest from the miseries
they labored under, they sent heralds, and with much supplication
were at last reconciled, entering into an agreement to send to
Crete every nine years a tribute of seven young men and as many
virgins, as most writers agree in stating; and the most poetical
story adds that the Minotaur destroyed them, or that, wandering in
the Labyrinth, and finding no possible means of getting out, they
miserably ended their lives there, and that this Minotaur was (as
Euripides hath it)

A mingled form, where two strange shapes combined,
And different natures, bull and man, were joined.

Now when the time of the third tribute was come, and the fathers
who had any young men for their sons were to proceed by lot to the
choice of those that were to be sent, there arose fresh
discontents and accusations against Aegeus among the people, who
were full of grief and indignation that he, who was the cause of
all their miseries, was the only person exempt from the
punishment; adopting and setting his kingdom upon a foreign son,
he took no thought, they said, of their destitution and loss of
their lawful children. These things sensibly affected Theseus,
who, thinking it but just not to disregard, but rather partake of,
the sufferings of his fellow citizens, offered himself for one
without any lot. All else were struck with admiration for the
nobleness, and with love for the goodness, of the act; and Aegeus,
after prayers and entreaties, finding him inflexible and not to be
persuaded, proceeded to the choosing of the rest by lot.
Hellanicus, however, tells us that the Athenians did not send the
young men and virgins by lot, but that Minos himself used to come
and make his own choice, and pitched upon Theseus before all
others; according to the conditions agreed upon between, namely,
that the Athenians should furnish them with a ship, and that the
young men who were to sail with him should carry no weapon of war;
but that if the Minotaur was destroyed the tribute should cease.

On the two former occasions of the payment of the tribute,
entertaining no hopes of safety or return, they sent out the ship
with a black sail, as to unavoidable destruction; but now, Theseus
encouraging his father and speaking greatly of himself, as
confident that he should kill the Minotaur, he gave the pilot
another sail, which was white, commanding him, as he returned, if
Theseus were safe, to make use of that; but if not, to sail with
the black one, and to hang out that sign of his misfortune.
Simonides says that the sail which Aegeus delivered to the pilot
was not white, but

Scarlet, in the juicy bloom
Of the living oak-tree steeped.

The lot being cast, and Theseus having received out of the
Prytaneum those upon whom it fell, he went to the Delphinium, and
made an offering for them to Apollo of his suppliant's badge,
which was a bough of a consecrated olive tree, with white wool
tied about it.

Having thus performed his devotion, he went to sea, the sixth day
of Munychion, on which day even to this time the Athenians send
their virgins to the same temple to make supplication to the gods.
It is farther reported that he was commanded by the oracle at
Delphi to make Venus his guide, and to invoke her as the companion
and conductress of his voyage, and that, as he was sacrificing a
she goat to her by the seaside, it was suddenly changed into a he,
and for this cause that goddess had the name of Epitragia.

When he arrived at Crete, as most of the ancient historians as
well as poets tell us, having a clue of thread given him by
Ariadne, who had fallen in love with him, and being instructed by
her now to use it so as to conduct him through the windings of the
Labyrinth, he escaped out of it and slew the Minotaur, and sailed
back, taking along with him Ariadne and the young Athenian
captives. Pherecydes adds that he bored holes in the bottom of the
Cretan ships to hinder their pursuit. Demon writes that Taurus,
the chief captain of Minos, was slain by Theseus at the mouth of
the port, in a naval combat, as he was sailing out for Athens. But
Philochorus gives us the story thus: That at the setting forth of
the yearly games by King Minos, Taurus was expected to carry away
the prize, as he had done before; and was much grudged the honor.
His character and manners made his power hateful, and he was
accused, moreover, of too near familiarity with Pasiphae, for
which reason, when Theseus desired the combat, Minos readily
complied. And as it was a custom in Crete that the women also
should be admitted to the sight of these games, Ariadne, being
present, was struck with admiration of the manly beauty of
Theseus, and the vigor and address which he showed in combat,
overcoming all that encountered with him. Minos, too, being
extremely pleased with him, especially because he had overthrown
and disgraced Taurus, voluntarily gave up the young captives to
Theseus, and remitted the tribute to the Athenians.

There are yet many traditions about these things, and as many
concerning Ariadne, all inconsistent with each other. Some relate
that she hung herself, being deserted by Theseus. Others that she
was carried away by his sailors to the isle of Naxos, and married
to Oenarus, priest of Bacchus; and that Theseus left her because
he fell in love with another,

"For Aegle's love was burning in his breast."

Now Theseus, in his return from Crete, put in at Delos, and,
having sacrificed to the god of the island, dedicated to the
temple the image of Venus which Ariadne had given him, and danced
with the young Athenians a dance that., in memory of him, they say
is still preserved among the inhabitants of Delos, consisting in
certain measured turnings and returnings, imitative of the
windings and twistings of the Labyrinth. And this dance, as
Dicaearchus writes, is called among the Delians, the Crane. This
he danced round the Ceratonian Altar, so called from its
consisting of horns taken from the left side of the head. They
also say that he instituted games in Delos, where he was the first
that began the of giving a palm to the victors.

When they were come near the coast of Attica, so great was the joy
for the happy success of their voyage, that neither Theseus
himself nor the pilot remembered to hang out the sail which should
have been the token of their safety to Aegeus, who, in despair at
the sight, threw himself headlong from a rock, and perished in the
sea. But Theseus, being arrived at the port of Phalerum, paid
there the sacrifices which he had vowed to the gods at his setting
out to sea, and sent a herald to the city to carry the news of his
safe return. At his entrance, the herald found the people for the
most part full of grief for the loss of their king, others, as may
well be believed, as full of joy for the tidings that he brought,
and eager to welcome him and crown him with garlands for his good
news, which he indeed accepted of, but hung them upon his herald's
staff; and thus returning to the seaside before Theseus had
finished his libation to the gods, he stayed apart for fear of
disturbing the holy rites, but, as soon as the libation was ended,
went up and related the king's death, upon the hearing of which,
with great lamentations and a confused tumult of grief, they ran
with all haste to the city. And from hence, they say, it comes
that at this day, in the feast of Oschoporia, the herald is not
crowned, but his staff, and all who are present at the libation
cry out "eleleu, iou, iou," the first of which confused sounds is
commonly used by men in haste, or at a triumph, the other is
proper to people in consternation or disorder of mind.

Theseus, after the funeral of his father, paid his vows to Apollo
the seventh day of Pyanepsion; for on that day the youth that
returned with him safe from Crete made their entry into the city.
They say, also, that the custom of boiling pulse at this feast is
derived from hence; because the young men that escaped put all
that was left of their provision together, and, boiling it in one
common pot, feasted themselves with it, and ate it all up
together. Hence, also, they carry in procession an olive branch
bound about with wool (such as they then made use of in their
supplications), which they call Eiresione, crowned with all sorts
of fruits, to signify that scarcity and barrenness was ceased,
singing in their procession this song:

Eiresione brings figs, and Eiresione brings loaves;
Bring us honey in pints, and oil to rub on our bodies,
And a strong flagon of wine, for all to go mellow to bed on.

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned had
thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the
time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as
they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place,
insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the
philosophers, for the logical question as to things that grow; one
side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other
contending that it was not the same.

Now, after the death of his father Aegeus, forming in his mind a
great and wonderful design, he gathered together all the
inhabitants of Attica into one town, and made them one people of
one city, whereas before they lived dispersed, and were not easy
to assemble upon any affair, for the common interest. Nay, the
differences and even wars often occurred between them, which he by
his persuasions appeased, going form township to township, and
from tribe to tribe. And those of a more private and mean
condition readily embracing such good advice, to those of greater
power he promised a commonwealth without monarchy, a democracy, or
people's government, in which he should only be continued as their
commander in war and the protector of their laws, all things else
being equally distributed among them;--and by this means brought
a part of them over to his proposal. The rest, fearing his power,
which was already grown very formidable, and knowing his courage
and resolution, chose rather to be persuaded than forced into a
compliance. He then dissolved all the distant state-houses,
council halls, and magistracies, and built one common state-house
(the Prytaneum) and council hall on the site of the present upper
town, and gave the name of Athens to the whole state, ordaining a
common feast and sacrifice, which he called Panathenaea, or the
sacrifice of all the united Athenians. He instituted also another
sacrifice, called Metoecia, or Feast of Migration, which is yet
celebrated on the sixteenth day of Hecatombaeon. Then, as he had
promised, he laid down his regal power and proceeded to order a
commonwealth, entering upon this great work not without advice
from the gods. For having sent to consult the oracle of Delphi
concerning the fortune of his new government and city, he received
this answer:

Son of the Pitthean maid,
To your town the terms and fates
My father gives of many states.
Be not anxious or afraid:
The bladder will not fail to swim
On the waves that compass him.

Which oracle, they say, one of the sibyls long after did in a
manner repeat to the Athenians, in this verse:

The bladder may be dipt, but not be drowned.

Farther yet designing to enlarge his city, he invited all
strangers to come and enjoy equal privileges with the natives, and
it is said that the common form, "Come hither all ye people," was
the words that Theseus proclaimed when he thus set up a
commonwealth, in a manner, for all nations. Yet he did not suffer
his state, by the promiscuous multitude that flowed in, to be
turned into confusion and be left without any order or degree, but
was the first that divided the commonwealth into three distinct
ranks, the noblemen, the husbandmen, and artificers. To the
nobility he committed the care of religion, the choice of
magistrates, the teaching and dispensing of the laws, and
interpretation and direction in all sacred matters; the whole city
being, as it were, reduced to an exact equality, the nobles
excelling the rest in honor, the husbandmen in profit, and the
artifices in number. And that Theseus was the first, who, as
Aristotle says, out of an inclination to popular government,
parted with the regal power, Homer also seems to testify, in his
catalogue of ships, where he gives the name of "People" to the
Athenians only.

He also coined money, and stamped it with the image of an ox,
either in memory of the Marathonian bull, or of Taurus, whom he
vanquished, or else to put his people in mind to follow husbandry;
and from this coin came the expression so frequent among the
Greeks, as a thing being worth ten or a hundred oxen. After this
he joined Megara to Attica, and erected that famous pillar on the
isthmus, which bears an inscription of two lines, showing the
bounds of the two countries that meet there. On the east side the
inscription is,-"Peloponnesus there, Ionia here," And on the west
side,-"Peloponnesus here, Ionia there."

He also instituted the games, in emulation of Hercules, being
ambitious that as the Greeks, by that hero's appointment,
celebrated the Olympian games to the honor of Jupiter, so, by his
institution, they should celebrate the Isthmian to the honor of
Neptune. At the same time he made an agreement with the
Corinthians, that they should allow those that came from Athens to
the celebration of the Isthmian games as much space of honor
before the rest to behold the spectacle in as the sail of the ship
that brought them thither, stretched to its full extent, could
cover; so Hellenicus and Andro of Halicarnassus have established.

Concerning his voyage into the Euxine Sea, Philochorus and some
others write that he made it with Hercules, offering him his
service in the war against the Amazons, and had Antiope given him
for the reward of his valor; but the greater number, of whom are
Pherecides, Hellanicus, and Herodorus, with a navy under his own
command, and took the Amazon prisoner,--the more probable story,
for we do not read that any other, of all those that accompanied
him in this action, took any Amazon prisoner. Bion adds, that, to
take her, he had to use deceit and fly away; for the Amazons, he
says, being naturally lovers of men, were so far from avoiding
Theseus when he touched upon their coasts, that they sent him
presents to his ship; but he, having invited Antiope, who brought
them, to come aboard, immediately set sail and carried her away.
An author named Menecrates, that wrote the History of Nicaea in
Bithynia, adds, that Theseus, having Antiope aboard his vessel,
cruised for some time about those coasts, and that there were in
the same ship three young men of Athens, that accompanied him in
his voyage, all brothers, whose names were Euneos, Thoas, and
Soloon. The last of these fell desperately in love with Antiope;
and escaping the notice of the rest, revealed the secret only to
one of his most intimate acquaintance, and employed him to
disclose his passion to Antiope. She rejected his pretences with a
very positive denial, yet treated the matter with much gentleness
and discretion, and made no complaint to Theseus of anything that
had happened; but Soloon, the thing being desperate, leaped into a
river near the seaside and drowned himself. As soon as Theseus was
aquainted with his death, and his unhappy love that was the cause
of it, he was extremely distressed, and, in the height of his
grief, an oracle which he had formerly received at Delphi came
into his mind; for he had been commanded by the priestess of
Apollo Pythius, that, wherever in a strange land he was most
sorrowful and under the greatest affliction, he should build a
city there, and leave some of his followers to be governors of the
place. For this cause he there founded a city, which he called,
from the name of Apollo, Pythopolis, and, in honor of the
unfortunate youth, he named the river that runs by it Soloon, and
left the two surviving brothers intrusted with the care of the
government and laws, joining with them Hermus, one of the nobility
of Athens, from whom a place in the city is called the House of
Hermus; though by an error in the accent it has been taken for the
House of Hermes, or Mercury, and the honor that was designed to
the hero, transferred to the god.

This was the origin and cause of the Amazonian invasion of Attica,
which would seem to have been no slight or womanish enterprise.
For it is impossible that they should have placed their camp in
the very city, and joined battle close by the Pnyx and the hill
called Museum, unless, having first conquered the country round
about, they had thus with impunity advanced to the city. That they
made so long a journey by land, and passed the Cimmerian Bosphorus
when frozen, as Hellanicus writes, is difficult to be believed.
That they encamped all but in the city is certain, and may be
sufficiently confirmed by the names that the places thereabout yet
retain, and the graves and the monuments of those that fell the
battle. Both armies being in sight, there was a long pause and
doubt on each side which should give the first onset; at last
Theseus, having sacrificed to Fear, in obedience to the command of
an oracle he had received, gave them battle, in which action a
great number of the Amazons were slain. At length, after four
months, a peace was concluded between them by the mediation of
Hippolyta (for so this historian calls the Amazon whom Theseus
married, and not Antiope), though others write that she was slain
with a dart by Molpadia, while fighting by Theseus's side, and
that the pillar which stands by the temple of Olympian Earth was
erected to her honor. Nor is it to be wondered at, that in events
of such antiquity, history should be in disorder. This is as much
as is worth telling concerning the Amazons.

The celebrated friendship between Theseus and Pirithous is said to
have been begun as follows: The fame of the strength and valor of
Theseus being spread through Greece, Pirithous was desirous to
make a trial and proof of it himself, and to this end seized a
herd of oxen which belonged to Theseus, and was driving them away
from Marathon, and, when news was brought that Theseus pursued him
in arms, he did not fly, but turned back and went to meet him. But
as soon as they had viewed one another, each so admired the
gracefulness and beauty, and was seized with such a respect for
the courage of the other, that they forgot all thoughts of
fighting; and Pirithous, first stretching out his hand to Theseus,
bade him be judge in this case himself, and promised to submit
willingly to any penalty he should impose. But Theseus not only
forgave him all, but entreated him to be his friend and brother in
arms; and they ratified their friendship by oaths. After this
Pirithous married Deidamia, and invited Theseus to the wedding,
entreating him to come and see his country, and make acquaintance
with the Lapithae; he had at the same time invited the Centaurs to
the feast, who, growing hot with wine and beginning to be insolent
and wild, the Lapithae took immediate revenge upon them, slaying
many of them upon the place, and afterwards, having overcome them
in battle, drove the whole race of them out of their country,
Theseus all along taking the part of the Lapithae, and fighting on
their side.

Theseus was now fifty years old, as Hellanicus states, when he
carried off Helen, who was yet too young to be married. Some
writers, to take away this accusation of one of the greatest
crimes laid to his charge, say that he did not steal away Helen
himself, but that Idas and Lynceus brought her to him, and
committed her to his charge, and that, therefore, he refused to
restore her at the demand of Castor and Pollux; or, indeed, they
say her own father, Tyndarus, had sent her to be kept by him, for
fear of Enarophorus, the son of Hippocoon, who would have carried
her away by force when she was yet a child. But the most probable
account, and that which has witnesses on its side, is this:
Theseus and Pirithous went both together to Sparta, and, having
seized the young lady as she was dancing in the temple of Diana
Orthia, fled away with her. There were presently men in arms sent
to pursue, but they followed no farther than to Tegea; and Theseus
and Pirithous being now out of danger, having passed through
Peloponnesus, made an agreement between themselves, that he to
whom the lot should fall should have Helen to his wife, but should
be obliged to assist in procuring another for his friend. The lot
fell upon Theseus, who conveyed her to Aphidnae, not being yet
marriageable, and delivered her to one of his allies, called
Aphidnus, and having sent his mother, Aethra, after to take care
of her, desired him to keep them so secretly that none might know
where they were; which done, to return the same service to his
friend Pirithous, he accompanied him in his journey to Epirus, in
order to steal away the king of the Molossians' daughter. The
king, his own name being Aidoneus, or Pluto, called his wife
Proserpina, and his daughter Cora, and a great dog which he kept
Cerberus, with whom he ordered all that came as suitors to his
daughter to fight, and promised her to him that should overcome
the beast. But having been informed that the design of Pirithous
and his companion was not to court his daughter, but to force her
away, he caused them both to be seized, and threw Pirithous to be
torn to pieces by the dog, and put Theseus into prison, and kept

About this time Menetheus, the son of Peteus, grandson of Orneus,
and great-grandson to Erechtheus, the first man that is recorded
to have affected popularity and ingratiated himself with the
multitude, stirred up and exasperated the most eminent men of the
city, who had long borne a secret grudge to Theseus, conceiving
that he had robbed them of their several little kingdoms and
lordships, and, having pent them all up in one city, was using
them as his subjects and slaves. He put also the meaner people
into commotion, telling them, that, deluded with a mere dream of
liberty, though indeed they were deprived both of that and their
proper homes and religious usages, instead of many good and
gracious kings of their own, they had given themselves up to be
lorded over by a newcomer and a stranger. Whilst he was thus
busied in infecting the minds of the citizens, the war that Castor
and Pollux brought against Athens came very opportunity to farther
the sedition he had been promoting, and some say that he by his
persuasions was wholly the cause of their invading the city. At
their first approach they committed no acts of hostility, but
peaceably demanded their sister Helen; but the Athenians returning
answer that they neither had her nor knew where she was disposed
of, they prepared to assault the city, when Academus, having, by
whatever means, found it out, disclosed to them that she was
secretly kept at Aphidnea. For which reason he was both highly
honored during his life by Castor and Pollux, and the
Lacedaemonians, when often in after times they made excursions
into Attica, and destroyed all the country round about, spared the
Academy for the sake of Academus.

Hercules, passing by the Molossians, was entertained in his way by
Aidoneus the king, who, in conversation, accidentally spoke of the
journey of Theseus and Pirithous into his country, of what they
had designed to do, and what they were forced to suffer. Hercules
was much grieved for the inglorious death of the one and the
miserable condition of the other. As for Pirithous, he thought it
useless to complain; but begged to have Theseus released for his
sake, and obtained that favor from the king. Theseus, being thus
set at liberty, returned to Athens, where his friends were not
wholly suppressed, and dedicated to Hercules all the sacred places
which the city had set apart for himself, changing their names
from Thesea to Herculea, four only excepted, as Philochorus
writes. And wishing immediately to resume the first place in the
commonwealth, and manage the state as before, he soon found
himself involved in factions and troubles; those who long had
hated him had now added to their hatred contempt; and the minds of
the people were so generally corrupted, that, instead of obeying
commands with silence, they expected to be flattered into their
duty. He had some thoughts to have reduced them by force, but was
overpowered by demagogues and factions. And at last, despairing of
any good success of his affairs in Athens, he sent away his
children privately to Euboea, commending them to the care of
Elephenor, the son of Chalcodon; and he himself, having solemnly
cursed the people of Athens in the village of Gargettus, in which
there yet remains the place called Araterion, or the place of
cursing, sailed to Scyros, where he had lands left him by his
father, and friendship, as he thought, with those of the island.
Lycomedes was then king of Scyros. Theseus, therefore, addressed
himself to him, and desired to have his lands put into his
possession, as designing to settle and dwell there, though others
say that he came to beg his assistance against the Athenians. But
Lycomedes, either jealous of the glory of so great a man, or to
gratify Menestheus, having led him up to the highest cliff of the
island, on pretense of showing him from thence the lands that he
desired, threw him headlong down from the rock and killed him.
Others say he fell down of himself by a slip of his foot, as he
was walking there, according to his custom, after supper. At that
time there was no notice taken, nor were any concerned for his
death, but Menestheus quietly possessed the kingdom of Athens. His
sons were brought up in a private condition, and accompanied
Elephenor to the Trojan war, but, after the decease of Menestheus
in that expedition, returned to Athens, and recovered the
government. But in succeeding ages, beside several other
circumstances that moved the Athenians to honor Theseus as a
demigod, in the battle which was fought at Marathon against the
Medes, many of the soldiers believed they saw an apparition of
Theseus in arms, rushing on at the head of them against the
barbarians. And after the Median war, Phaedo being archon of
Athens, the Athenians, consulting the oracle at Delphi, were
commanded to gather together the bones of Theseus, and, laying
them in some honorable place, keep them as sacred in the city. But
it was very difficult to recover these relics, or so much as to
find out the place where they lay, on account of the inhospitable
and savage temper of the barbarous people that inhabited the
island. Nevertheless, afterwards, when Cimon took the island (as
is related in his life), and had a great ambition to find the
place where Theseus was buried, he, by chance, spied an eagle upon
a rising ground pecking with her beak and tearing up the earth
with her talons, when on the sudden it came into his mind, as it
were by some divine inspiration, to dig there, and search for the
bones of Theseus. There were found in that place a coffin of a man
of more than ordinary size, and a brazen spear-head, and a sword
lying by it, all which he took aboard his galley and brought with
him to Athens. Upon which the Athenians, greatly delighted, went
out to meet and receive the relics with splendid procession and
with sacrifices, as if it were Theseus himself returning alive to
the city. He lies interred in the middle of the city, near the
present gymnasium. His tomb is a sanctuary and refuge for slaves,
and all those of mean condition that fly from the persecution of
men in power, in memory that Theseus while he lived was an
assister and protector of the distressed, and never refused the
petitions of the afflicted that fled to him. The chief and most
solemn sacrifice which they celebrate to him is kept on the eighth
day of Pyanepsion, on which he returned with the Athenian young
men from Crete. Besides which, they sacrifice to him on the eighth
day of every month, either because he returned from Troezen the
eighth day of Hecatombaeon, as Diodorus the geographer writes, or
else thinking that number to be proper to him, because he was
reputed to be born of Neptune, because they sacrifice to Neptune
on the eighth day of every month. The number eight being the first
cube of an even number, and the double of the first square, seemed
to be am emblem of the steadfast and immovable power of this god,
who from thence has the names of Asphalius and Gaeiochus, that is,
the establisher and stayer of the earth.


From whom, and for what reason, the city of Rome, a name so great
in glory, and famous in the mouths of all men, was so first
called, authors do not agree.

But the story which is most believed and has the greatest number
of vouchers in general outline runs thus: the kings of Alba
reigned in lineal descent from Aeneas, and the succession devolved
at length upon two brothers, Numitor and Amulius. Amulius proposed
to divide things into two equal shares, and set as equivalent to
the kingdom the treasure and gold that were brought from Troy.
Numitor chose the kingdom; but Amulius, having the money, and
being able to do more with that than Numitor, took his kingdom
from with great ease, and, fearing lest his daughter might have
children who would supplant him, made her a Vestal, bound in that
condition forever to live a single and maiden life. This lady some
call Ilia, others Rhea, and others Silvia; however, not long
after, contrary to the established laws of the Vestals, she had
two sons of more than human size and beauty, whom Amulius,
becoming yet more alarmed, commanded a servant to take and cast
away; this man some call Faustulus, others say Faustulus was the
man who brought them up. He put the children, however, in a small
trough, and went towards the river with a design to cast them in;
but seeing the waters much swollen and coming violently down, was
afraid to go nearer, and, dropping the children near the bank,
went away. The river overflowing, the flood at last bore up the
trough, and, gently wafting it, landed them on a smooth piece of
ground, which they now call Cermanus, formerly Germanus, perhaps
from "Germani," which signifies brothers.

While the infants lay here, history tells us, a she-wolf nursed
them, and a woodpecker constantly fed and watched them. These
creatures are esteemed holy to the god Mars; the woodpecker the
Latins still especially worship and honor. Which things, as much
as any, gave credit to what the mother of the children said, that
their father was the god Mars.

Meantime Faustulus, Amulius's swineherd, brought up the children
without any man's knowledge; or, as those say who wish to keep
closer to probabilities, with the knowledge and secret assistance
of Numitor; for it is said, they went to school at Gabii, and were
well instructed in letters, and other accomplishments befitting
their birth. And they were called Romulus and Remus (from "ruma",
the dug), because they were found suckling the wolf. In their very
infancy, the size and beauty of their bodies intimated their
natural superiority; and when they grew up, they both proved brave
and manly, attempting all enterprises that seemed hazardous, and
showing in them a courage altogether undaunted. But Romulus seemed
rather to act by counsel, and to show the sagacity of a statesman,
and in all his dealings with their neighbors, whether relating to
feeding of flocks or to hunting, gave the idea of being born
rather to rule than to obey. To their comrades and inferiors they
were therefore dear; but the king's servants, his bailiffs and
overseers, as being in nothing better men than themselves, they
despised and slighted, nor were the least concerned at their
commands and menaces. They used honest pastimes and liberal
studies, not esteeming sloth and idleness honest and liberal, but
rather such exercises as hunting and running, repelling robbers,
taking of thieves, and delivering the wronged and oppressed from
injury. For doing such things, they became famous.

A quarrel occurring betwixt Numitor's and Amulius's cowherds, the
latter, not enduring the driving away of their cattle by the
others, fell upon them and put them to flight, and rescued the
greatest part of the prey. At which Numitor being highly incensed,
they little regarded it, but collected and took into their company
a number of needy men and runaway slaves,--acts which looked like
the first stages of rebellion. It so happened, that when Romulus
was attending a sacrifice, being fond of sacred rites and
divination, Numitor's herdsmen, meeting with Remus on a journey
with few companions, fell upon him, and, after some fighting, took
him prisoner, carried him before Numitor, and there accused him.
Numitor would not punish him himself, fearing his brother's anger,
but went to Amulius and desired justice, as he was Amulius's
brother and was affronted by Amulius's servants. The men of Alba
likewise resenting the thing, and thinking he had been
dishonorably used, Amulius was induced to deliver Remus up into
Numitor's hands, to use him as he thought fit. He therefore took
and carried him home, and, being struck with admiration of the
youth's person, in stature and strength of body exceeding all men,
and perceiving in his very countenance the courage and force of
his mind, which stood unsubdued and unmoved by his present
circumstances, and hearing further that all the enterprises and
actions of his life were answerable to what he saw of him, but
chiefly, as it seemed, a divine influence aiding and directing the
first steps that were to lead to great results, out of the mere
thought of his mind, and casually, as it were, he put his hand
upon the fact, and, in gentler terms and with a kind aspect, to
inspire him with confidence and hope, asked him who he was, and
whence he was derived. He, taking heart, spoke thus: "I will hide
nothing from you, for you seem to be of a more princely temper
than Amulius, in that you give a hearing and examine before you
punish, while he condemns before the cause is heard. Formerly,
then, we (for we are twins) thought ourselves the sons of
Faustulus and Larentia, the king's servants; but since we have
been accused and aspersed with calumnies, and brought in peril of
our lives here before you, we hear great things of ourselves, the
truth of which my present danger is likely to bring to the test.
Our birth is said to have been secret, our fostering and nurture
in our infancy still more strange; by birds and beasts, to whom we
were cast out, we were fed--by the milk of a wolf, and the
morsels of a woodpecker, as we lay in a little trough by the side
of the river. The trough is still in being, and is preserved, with
brass plates round it, and an inscription in letters almost
effaced, which may prove hereafter unavailing tokens to our
parents when we are dead and gone." Numitor, upon these words, and
computing the dates by the young man's looks, slighted not the
hope that flattered him, but considered how to come at his
daughter privately (for she was still kept under restraint), to
talk with her concerning these matters.

Faustulus, hearing Remus was taken and delivered up, called on
Romulus to assist in his rescue, informing him then plainly of the
particulars of his birth--not but he had before given hints of it
- and told as much as an attentive man might make no small
conclusions from; he himself, full of concern and fear of not
coming in time, took the trough, and ran instantly to Numitor; but
giving a suspicion to some of the king's sentry at his gate, and
being gazed upon by them and perplexed with their questions, he
let it be seen that he was hiding the trough under his cloak. By
chance there was one among them who was at the exposing of the
children, and was one employed in the office; he, seeing the
trough and knowing it by its make and inscription, guessed at the
business, and, without further delay, telling the king of it,
brought in the man to be examined. Faustulus, hard beset, did not
show himself altogether proof against terror; nor yet was he
wholly forced out of all: confessed indeed the children were
alive, but lived, he said, as shepherds, a great way from Alba; he
himself was going to carry the trough to Ilia, who had often
greatly desired and handle it, for a confirmation of her hopes of
her children. As men generally do who are troubled in mind and act
either in fear or passion, it so fell out Amulius now did; for he
sent in haste as a messenger, a man, otherwise honest and friendly
to Numitor, with commands to learn from Numitor whether any
tidings were come to him of the children's being alive. He, coming
and seeing how little Remus wanted of being received into the arms
and embraces of Numitor, both gave him surer confidence in his
hope, and advised them, with all expedition, to proceed to action;
himself too joining and assisting them, and indeed, had they
wished it, the time would not have let them demur. For Romulus was
now come very near, and many of the citizens, out of fear and
hatred of Amulius, were running out to join him; besides, he
brought great forces with him, dividing into companies, each of an
hundred men, every captain carrying a small bundle of grass and
shrubs tied to a pole. The Latins call such bundles "manipuli,"
and from hence it is that in their armies still they call their
captains "manipulares." Remus rousing the citizens within to
revolt, and Romulus making attacks from without, the tyrant, not
knowing either what to do, or what expedient to think of for his
security, in this perplexity and confusion was taken and put to
death. This narrative, for the most part given by Fabius and
Diocles of Peparethos, who seem to be the earliest historians of
the foundation of Rome, is suspected by some because of its
dramatic and fictitious appearance; but it would not wholly be
disbelieved, if men would remember what a poet Fortune sometimes
shows herself, and consider that the Roman power would hardly have
reached so high a pitch without a divinely ordered origin,
attended with great and extraordinary circumstances.

Amulius now being dead and matters quietly disposed, the two
brothers would neither dwell in Alba without governing there, nor
take the government into their own hands during the life of their
grandfather. Having therefore delivered the dominion up into his
hands, and paid their mother befitting honor, they resolved to
live by themselves, and build a city in the same place where they
were in their infancy brought up. This seems the most honorable
reason for their departure; though perhaps it was necessary,
having such a body of slaves and fugitives collected about them,
either to come to nothing by dispersing them, or if not so, then
to live with them elsewhere. For that the inhabitants of Alba did
not think fugitives worthy of being received and incorporated as
citizens among them plainly appears from the matter of the women,
an attempt made not wantonly, but of necessity, because they could
not get wives by good-will. For they certainly paid unusual
respect and honor to those whom they thus forcibly seized.

Not long after the first foundation of the city, they opened a
sanctuary of refuge for all fugitives, which they called the
temple of the god Asylaeus, where they received and protected all,
delivering none back, neither the servant to his master, the
debtor to his creditor, nor the murderer into the hands of the
magistrate, saying it was a privileged place, and they could so
maintain it by an order of the holy oracle; insomuch that the city
grew presently very populous, for, they say, it consisted at first
of no more than a thousand houses. But of that hereafter.

Their minds being fully bent upon building, there arose presently
a difference about the place where. Romulus chose what was called
Roma Quadrata, or the Square Rome, and would have the city there.
Remus laid out a piece of ground on the Aventine Mount, well
fortified by nature, which was from him called Remonium, but now
Rignarium. Concluding at last to decide the contest by a
divination from a flight of birds, and placing themselves apart at
some distance, Remus, they say, saw six vultures, and Romulus
double the number; others say Remus did truly see his number, and
that Romulus feigned his, but, when Remus came to him, that then
he did, indeed, see twelve. Hence it is that the Romans, in their
divinations from birds, chiefly regard the vulture, though
Herodorus Ponticus relates that Hercules was always very joyful
when a vulture appeared to him upon any occasion. For it is a
creature the least hurtful of any, pernicious neither to corn,
fruit-tree, nor cattle; it preys only on carrion, and never kills
or hurts any living thing; and as for birds, it touches not them,
though they are dead, as being of its own species, whereas eagles,
owls, and hawks mangle and kill their own fellow-creatures; yet,
as Aeschylus says,--

What bird is clean that preys on fellow bird?

Besides, all other birds are, so to say, never out of our eyes;
they let themselves be seen of us continually; but a vulture is a
very rare sight, and you can seldom meet with a man that has seen
their young; their rarity and infrequency has raised a strange
opinion in some, that they come to us from some other world; as
soothsayers ascribe a divine origination to all things not
produced either of nature or of themselves.

When Remus knew the cheat, he was much displeased; and as Romulus
was casting up a ditch, where he designed the foundation of the
city wall, he turned some pieces of the work to ridicule, and
obstructed others: at last, as he was in contempt leaping over it,
some say Romulus himself struck him, others Celer, one of his
companions; he fell, however, and in the scuffle Faustulus also
was slain, and Plistinus, who, being Faustulus's brother, story
tells us, helped to bring up Romulus. Celer upon this fled
instantly into Tuscany, and from him the Romans call all men that
are swift of foot Celeres; and because Quintus Metellus, at his
father's funeral, in a few days' time gave the people a show of
gladiators, admiring his expedition in getting it ready, they gave
him the name of Celer.

Romulus, having buried his brother Remus, together with his two
foster-fathers, on the mount Remonia, set to building his city;
and sent for men out of Tuscany, who directed him by sacred usages
and written rules in all the ceremonies to be observed, as in a
religious rite. First, they dug a round trench about that which is
now the Comitium, or Court of Assembly and into it solemnly threw
the first-fruits of all things either good by custom or necessary
by nature; lastly, every man taking a small piece of earth of the
country from whence he came, they all threw them in promiscuously
together. This trench they call, as they do the heavens, Mundus;
making which their centre, they described the city in a circle
round it. Then the founder fitted to a plough, a bronze
ploughshare, and, yoking together a bull and a cow, drove himself
a deep line or furrow round the bounds; while the business of
those that followed after was to see that whatever earth was
thrown up should be turned all inwards towards the city, and not
to let any clod lie outside. With this line they described the
wall, and called it, by a contradiction, Pomoerium, that is, "post
murum," after or beside the wall; and where they designed to make
a gate, there they took out the share, carried the plough over,
and left a space; for which reason they consider the whole wall as
holy, except where the gates are; for had they adjudged them also
sacred, they could not, without offence to religion, have given
free ingress and egress for the necessaries of human life, some of
which are in themselves unclean.

As for the day they began to build the city, it is universally
agreed to have been the twenty-first of April, and that day the
Romans annually keep holy, calling it their country's birthday. At
first, they say, they sacrificed no living creatures on this day,
thinking it fit to preserve the feast of their country's birthday
pure and without stain of blood. Yet before ever the city was
built, there was a feast of herdsmen and shepherds kept on this
day, which went by the name of Palilia. The Roman and Greek months
have now little or no agreement; they say, however, the day on
which Romulus began to build was quite certainly the thirtieth of
the month, at which time there was an eclipse of the sun which
they conceive to be that seen by Antimachus, the Teian poet, in
the third year of the sixth Olympiad. In the times of Varro the
philosopher, a man deeply read in Roman history, lived one
Tarrutius, his familiar acquaintance, a good philosopher and
mathematician, and one, too, that out of curiosity had studied the
way of drawing schemes and tables, and was thought to be a
proficient in the art; to him Varro propounded to cast Romulus's
nativity, even to the first day and hour, making his deductions
from the several events of the man's life which he should be
informed of, exactly as in working back a geometrical problem; for
it belonged, he said, to the same science both to foretell a man's
life by knowing the time of his birth, and also to find out his
birth by the knowledge of his life. This task Tarrutius undertook,
and first looking into the actions and casualties of the man,
together with the time of his life and manner of his death, and
then comparing all these remarks together, he very confidently and
positively pronounced that Romulus was born the twenty-first day
of the month Thoth, about sun-rising; and that the first stone of
Rome was laid by him the ninth day of the month Pharmuthi, between
the second and third hour. For the fortunes of cities as well as
of men, they think, have their certain periods of time prefixed,
which may be collected and foreknown from the position of the
stars at their first foundation. But these and the like relations
may perhaps not so much take and delight the reader with their
novelty and curiosity as offend him by their extravagance.

The city now being built, Romulus enlisted all that were of age to
bear arms into military companies, each company consisting of
three thousand footmen and three hundred horse. These companies
were called legions, because they were the choicest and most
select of the people for fighting men. The rest of the multitude
he called the people; an hundred of the most eminent he chose for
counselors; these he styled patricians, and their assembly the
senate, which signifies a council of elders.

In the fourth month after the city was built, as Fabius writes,
the adventure of stealing the women was attempted. It would seem
that, observing his city to be filled by a confluence of
foreigners, few of whom had wives, and that the multitude in
general, consisting of a mixture of mean and obscure men, fell
under contempt, and seemed to be of no long continuance together,
and hoping farther, after the women were appeased, to make this
injury in some measure an occasion of confederacy and mutual
commerce with the Sabines, Romulus took in his hand this exploit
after this manner. First, he gave it out that he had found an
altar of a certain god hid under ground, perhaps the equestrian
Neptune, for the altar is kept covered in the Circus Maximus at
all other times, and only at horse-races is exposed to public
view. Upon discovery of this altar, Romulus, by proclamation,
appointed a day for a splendid sacrifice, and for public games and
shows, to entertain all sorts of people; many flocked thither, and
he himself sat in front, amidst his nobles, clad in purple. Now
the signal for their falling on was to be whenever he rose and
gathered up his robe and threw it over his body; his men stood all
ready armed, with their eyes intent upon him, and when the sign
was given, drawing their swords and falling on with a great shout,
they stole away the daughters of the Sabines, the men themselves
flying without any let or hindrance. Some say there were but
thirty taken, and from Curiae or Fraternities were named; but
Valerius Antias says five hundred and twenty seven, Juba, six
hundred and eighty-three.

It continues a custom at this very day for the bride not of
herself to pass her husband's threshold, but to be lifted over, in
memory that the Sabine virgins were carried in by violence, and
did not go in of their own free will. Some say, too, the custom of
parting the bride's hair with the head of a spear was in token
their marriages began at first by war and acts of hostility.

The Sabines were a numerous and martial people, but lived in
small, unfortified villages, as it befitted, they thought, a
colony of the Lacedaemonians to be bold and fearless;
nevertheless, seeing themselves bound by such hostages to their
good behavior, and being solicitous for their daughters, they sent
ambassadors to Romulus with fair and equitable requests, that he
would return their young women and recall that act of violence,
and afterwards, by persuasion and lawful means, seek friendly
correspondence between both nations. Romulus would not part with
the young women, yet proposed to the Sabines to enter into an
alliance with them; upon which point some consulted and demurred
long, but Acron, king of the Ceninenses, a man of high spirit and
a good warrior, who had all along a jealousy of Romulus's bold
attempts, and considering particularly from this exploit upon the
women that he was growing formidable to all people, and indeed
insufferable, were he not chastised, first rose up in arms, and
with a powerful army advanced against him. Romulus likewise
prepared to receive him; but when they came within sight and
viewed each other, they made a challenge to fight a single duel,
the armies standing by under arms, without participation. And
Romulus, making a vow to Jupiter, if he should conquer, to carry
himself, and dedicate his adversary's armor to his honor, overcame
him in combat, and, a battle ensuing, routed his army also, and
then took his city; but did those he found in it no injury, only
commanded them to demolish the place and attend him to Rome, there
to be admitted to all the privileges of citizens. And indeed there
was nothing did more advance the greatness of Rome, than that she
did always unite and incorporate those whom she conquered into
herself. Romulus, that he might perform his vow in the most
acceptable manner to Jupiter, and withal make the pomp of it
delightful to the eye of the city, cut down a tall oak which he
saw growing in the camp, which he trimmed to the shape of a
trophy, and fastened on it Acron's whole suit of armor disposed in
proper form; then he himself, girding his clothes about him, and
crowning his head with a laurel-garland, his hair gracefully
flowing, carried the trophy resting erect upon his right shoulder,
and so marched on, singing songs of triumph, and his whole army
following after, the citizens all receiving him with acclamations
of joy and wonder. The procession of this day was the origin and
model of all after triumphs. But the statues of Romulus in triumph
are, as may be seen in Rome, all on foot.

After the overthrow of the Ceninensians, the other Sabines still
protracting the time in preparations, the people of Fidenae,
Crustumerium, and Antemna, joined their forces against the Romans;
they in like manner were defeated in battle, and surrendered up to
Romulus their cities to be seized, their lands and territories to
be divided, and themselves to be transplanted to Rome. All the
lands which Romulus acquired he distributed among the citizens,
except only what the parents of the stolen virgins had; these he
suffered to possess their own. The rest of the Sabines, enraged
thereat, choosing Tatius their captain, marched straight against
Rome. The city was almost inaccessible, having for its fortress
that which is now the Capitol, where a strong guard was placed,
and Tarpeius their captain. But Tarpeia, daughter to the captain,
coveting the golden bracelets she saw them wear, betrayed the fort
into the Sabines' hands, and asked, in reward of her treachery,
the things they wore on their left arms. Tatius conditioning thus
with her, in the night she opened one of the gates and received
the Sabines in. And truly Antigonus, it would seem, was not
solitary in saying he loved betrayers, but hated those who had
betrayed; nor Caesar, who told Rhymitalces the Thracian that he
loved the treason, but hated the traitor; but it is the general
feeling of all who have occasion for wicked men's services, as
people have for the poison of venomous beasts; they are glad of
them while they are of use, and abhor their baseness when it is
over. And so did Tatius behave towards Tarpeia, for he commanded
the Sabines, in regard to their contract, not to refuse her the
least part of what they wore on their left arms; and he himself
first took his bracelet off his arm, and threw that, together with
his buckler, at her; and all the rest following, she, being borne
down and quite buried with the multitude of gold and their
shields, died under the weight and pressure of them; Tarpeius also
himself, being prosecuted by Romulus, was found guilty of treason,
and that part of the Capitol they still call the Tarpeian Rock,
from which they used to cast down malefactors.

The Sabines being possessed of the hill, Romulus, in great fury,
bade them battle, and Tatius was confident to accept it. There
were many brief conflicts, we may suppose, but the most memorable
was the last, in which Romulus having received a wound on his head
by a stone, and being almost felled to the ground by it, and
disabled, the Romans gave way, and, being driven out of the level
ground, fled towards the Palatium. Romulus, by this time
recovering from his wound a little, turned about to renew the
battle, and, facing the fliers, with a loud voice encouraged them
to stand and fight. But being overborne with numbers, and nobody
daring to face about, stretching out his hands to heaven, he
prayed to Jupiter to stop the army, and not to neglect but
maintain the Roman cause, now in extreme danger. The prayer was no
sooner made than shame and respect for their king checked many;
the fears of the fugitives changed suddenly into confidence. The
place they first stood at was where now is the temple of Jupiter
Stator (which may be translated the Stayer); there they rallied
again into ranks, and repulsed the Sabines to the place called now
Regia, and to the temple of Vesta; where both parties, preparing
to begin a second battle, were prevented by a spectacle, strange
to behold, and defying description. For the daughters of the
Sabines, who had been carried off, came running, in great
confusion, some on this side, some on that, with miserable cries
and lamentations, like creatures possessed, in the midst of the
army, and among the dead bodies, to come at their husbands and
their fathers, some with their young babes in their arms, others
their hair loose about their ears, but all calling, now upon the
Sabines, now upon the Romans, in the most tender and endearing
words. Hereupon both melted into compassion, and fell back, to
make room for them betwixt the armies. The sight of the women
carried sorrow and commiseration upon both sides into the hearts
of all, but still more their words, which began with expostulation
and upbraiding, and ended with entreaty and supplication.

"Wherein," say they, "have we injured or offended you, as to
deserve such sufferings, past and present? We were ravished away
unjustly and violently by those whose now we are; that being done,
we were so long neglected by our fathers, our brothers, and
countrymen, that time, having now by the strictest bonds united us
to those we once mortally hated, has made it impossible for us not
to tremble at the danger and weep at the death of the very men who
once used violence to us. You did not come to vindicate our honor,
while we were virgins, against our assailants; but do come now to
force away wives from their husbands and mothers from their
children, a succor more grievous to its wretched objects than the
former betrayal and neglect of them. Which shall we call the
worst, their love-making or your compassion? If you were making
war upon any other occasion, for our sakes you ought to withhold
your hands from those to whom we have made you fathers-in-law and
grandsires. If it be for our own cause, then take us, and with us
your sons-in-law and grandchildren. Restore to us our parents and
kindred, but do not rob us of our children and husbands. Make us
not, we entreat you, twice captives." Having spoken many such
words as these, and earnestly praying, a truce was made, and the
chief officers came to a parley; the women, in the meantime,
brought and presented their husbands and children to their fathers
and brothers; gave those that wanted, meat and drink, and carried
the wounded home to be cured, and showed also how much they
governed within doors, and how indulgent their husbands were to
them, in demeaning themselves towards them with all kindness and
respect imaginable. Upon this, conditions were agreed upon, that
what women pleased might stay where they were, exempt from all
drudgery and labor but spinning; that the Romans and Sabines
should inhabit the city together; that the city should be called
Rome, from Romulus; but the Romans, Quirites, from the country of
Tatius; and that they both should govern and command in common.
The place of the ratification is still called Comitium, from
"coire," to meet.

The city thus being doubled in number, an hundred of the Sabines
were elected senators, and the legions were increased to six
thousand foot and six hundred horse; then they divided the people
into three tribes: the first, from Romulus, named Ramnenses; the
second, from Tatius, Tatienses; the third, Luceres, from the
"lucus," or grove, where the Asylum stood, whither many fled for
sanctuary, and were received into the city. And that they were
just three, the very name of "tribe" and "tribune" seems to show.
Then they constituted many things in honor to the women, such as
to give them the way wherever they met them; to speak no ill word
in their presence; that their children should wear an ornament
about their necks called the "bulla" (because it was like a
bubble), and the "praetexta," a gown edged with purple.

The princes did not immediately join in council together, but at
first each met with his own hundred; afterwards all assembled
together. Tatius dwelt where now the temple of Moneta stands, and
Romulus, close by the steps, as they call them, of the Fair Shore,
near the descent from the Mount Palatine to the Circus Maximus.
There, they say, grew the holy cornel tree, of which they report
that Romulus once, to try his strength, threw a dart from the
Aventine Mount, the staff of which was made of cornel, which
struck so deep into the ground that no one of many that tried
could pluck it up; and the soil, being fertile, gave nourishment
to the wood, which sent forth branches, and produced a cornel-
stock of considerable bigness. This did posterity preserve and
worship as one of the most sacred things; and therefore, walled it
about; and if to any one it appeared not green nor flourishing,
but inclining to pine and wither, he immediately made outcry to
all he met, and they, like people hearing of a house on fire, with
one accord would cry for water, and run from all parts with
bucketfuls to the place. But when Gaius Caesar. they say, was
repairing the steps about it, some of the laborers digging too
close, the roots were destroyed, and the tree withered.

The Sabines adopted the Roman months, of which whatever is
remarkable is mentioned in the Life of Numa. Romulus, on the other
hand, adopted their long shields, and changed his own armor and
that of all the Romans, who before wore round targets of the
Argive pattern. Feasts and sacrifices they partook of in common,
not abolishing any which either nation observed before, and
instituting several new ones. This, too, is observable as a
singular thing in Romulus, that he appointed no punishment for
real parricide, but called all murder so, thinking the one an
accursed thing, but the other a thing impossible; and for a long
time, his judgement seemed to have been right; for in almost six
hundred years together, nobody committed the like in Rome; Lucius
Hostius, after the wars of Hannibal, is recorded to have been the
first parricide. Let thus much suffice concerning these matters.

In the fifth year of the reign of Tatius, some of his friends and
kinsmen, meeting ambassadors coming from Laurentum to Rome,
attempted on the road to take away their money by force, and, upon
their resistance, killed them. So great a villany having been
committed, Romulus thought the malefactors ought at once to be
punished, but Tatius shuffled off and deferred the execution of
it; and this one thing was the beginning of an open quarrel
betwixt them; in all other respects they were very careful of
their conduct, and administered affairs together with great
unanimity. The relations of the slain, being debarred of lawful
satisfaction by reason of Tatius, fell upon him as he was
sacrificing with Romulus at Lavinium, and slew him; but escorted
Romulus home, commending and extolling him for just a prince.
Romulus took the body of Tatius, and buried it very splendidly in
the Aventine Mount.

The Roman cause daily gathering strength, their weaker neighbors
shrunk away, and were thankful to be left untouched; but the
stronger, out of fear or envy, thought they ought not to give away
to Romulus, but to curb and put a stop to his growing greatness.
The first were the Veientes, a people of Tuscany, who had large
possessions, and dwelt in a spacious city; they took occasion to
commence a war, by claiming Fidenae as belonging to them. But
being scornfully retorted upon by Romulus in his answers, they
divided themselves into two bodies; with one they attacked the
garrison of Fidenae, the other marched against Romulus; that which
went against Fidenae got the victory, and slew two thousand
Romans; the other was worsted by Romulus, with the loss of eight
thousand men. A fresh battle was fought near Fidenae, and here all
men acknowledge the day's success to have been chiefly the work of
Romulus himself, who showed the highest skill as well as courage,
and seemed to manifest a strength and swiftness more than human.
But what some write, that, of fourteen thousand that fell that
day, above half were slain by Romulus's own hand, verges too near
to fable, and is, indeed, simply incredible: since even the
Messenians are thought to go too far in saying that Aristomenes
three times offered sacrifices for the death of a hundred enemies,
Lacedaemonians, slain by himself. The army being thus routed,
Romulus, suffering those that were left to make their escape, led
his forces against the city; they, having suffered such great
losses, did not venture to oppose, but, humbly suing him, made a
league and friendship for an hundred years; surrendering also a
large district of land called Septempagium, that is, the seven
parts, as also their salt-works upon the river, and fifty noblemen
for hostages. He made his triumph for this on the Ides of October,
leading, among the rest of his many captives, the general of the
Veientes, an elderly man, but who had not, it seemed, acted with
the prudence of age; whence even now, in sacrifices for victories,
they led an old man through the market-place to the Capitol,
appareled in purple, with a bulla, or child's toy, tied to it, and
the crier cries, "Sardians to be sold;" for the Tuscans are said
to be a colony of the Sardians, and the Veientes are a city of

This was the last battle Romulus ever fought; afterwards he, as
most, nay all men, very few excepted, do, who are raised by great
and miraculous good-haps of fortune to power and greatness, so, I
say, did he: relying upon his own great actions and growing of a
haughtier mind, he forsook his popular behavior for kingly
arrogance, odious to the people; to whom in particular the state
which he assumed was hateful. For he dressed in scarlet, with the
purple-bordered robe over it; he gave audience on a couch of
slate, having always about him some young men called "Celeres,"
from their swiftness in doing commissions. He suddenly disappeared
on the Nones of July, as they call the month which was then
Quintilis, leaving nothing of certainty to be related of his
death; the senators suffered the people not to search, or busy
themselves about the matter, but commanded them to honor and
worship Romulus as one taken up to the gods, and about to be to
them, in the place of a good prince, now a propitious god. The
multitude, hearing this, went away believing and rejoicing in
hopes of good things from him; but there were some, who,
canvassing the matter in a hostile temper, accused the patricians,
as men that persuaded the people to believe ridiculous tales, when
they were the murderers of the king.

Things being in this disorder, one, they say, of the patricians,
of noble family and approved good character, and a faithful and
familiar friend of Romulus himself, having come with him from
Alba, Julius Proculus by name, presented himself in the forum; and
taking a most sacred oath, protested before them all, that, as he
was travelling on the road, he had seen Romulus coming to meet
him, looking taller and comelier than ever, dressed in shining and
flaming armor; and he, being affrighted at the apparition, said,
"Why, O king, or for what purpose, have you abandoned us to unjust
and wicked surmises, and the whole city to bereavement and endless
sorrow?" and that he made answer, "It pleased the gods, O
Proculus, that we, who came from them, should remain so long a
time amongst men as we did; and, having built a city to be the
greatest in the world for empire and glory, should again return to
heaven. But farewell; and tell the Romans, that, by the exercise
of temperance and fortitude, they shall attain the height of human
power; we will be to you the propitious god Quirinus." This seemed
credible to the Romans, upon the honesty and oath of the relator,
and laying aside all jealousies and detractions, they prayed to
Quirinus and saluted him as a god.

This is like some of the Greek fables of Aristeas the
Proconnesian, and Cleomedes the Astypalaean; for they say Aristeas
died in a fuller's workshop, and his friends, coming to look for
him, found his body vanished; and that some presently after,
coming from abroad, said they met him travelling towards Croton.
And that Cleomedes, being an extraordinarily strong and gigantic
man, but also wild and mad, committed many desperate freaks; and
at last, in a schoolhouse, striking a pillar that sustained the
roof with his fist, broke it in the middle, so that the house fell
and destroyed the children in it; and being pursued, he fled into
a great chest, and, shutting to the lid, held it so fast that many
men, with their united strength, could not force it open;
afterwards, breaking the chest to pieces, they found no man in it
alive or dead.

And many such improbabilities do your fabulous writers relate,
deifying creatures naturally mortal; for though altogether to
disown a divine nature in human virtue were impious and base, so
again to mix heaven with earth is ridiculous. Let us believe with
Pindar, that

All human bodies yield to Death's decree:
The soul survives to all eternity.

For that alone is derived from the gods, thence comes, and thither

It was in the fifty-fourth year of his age and the thirty-eighth
of his reign that Romulus, they tell us, left the world.

Comparison of Theseus and Romulus

Both Theseus and Romulus were by nature meant for governors; yet
neither lived up to the true character of a king, but fell off,
and ran, the one into popularity, the other into tyranny, falling
both into the same fault out of different passions. For a ruler's
first end is to maintain his office, which is done no less by
avoiding what is unfit than by observing what is suitable. Whoever
is either too remiss or too strict is no more a king or a
governor, but either a demagogue or a despot, and so becomes
either odious or contemptible to his subjects. Though certainly
the one seems to be the fault of easiness and good-nature, the
other of pride and severity.

But Romulus has, first of all, one great plea, that his
performances proceeded from very small beginnings; for both the
brothers, being thought servants and the sons of swineherds,
before becoming freemen themselves gave liberty to almost all the
Latins, obtaining at once all the most honorable titles, as,
destroyers of their country's enemies, preservers of their friends
and kindred, princes of the people, founders of cities; not
removers, like Theseus, who raised and compiled only one house out
of many, demolishing many cities bearing the names of ancient
kings and heroes. Romulus, indeed, did the same afterwards,
forcing his enemies to deface and ruin their own dwellings, and to
sojourn with their conquerors; but at first, not by removal, or
increase of an existing city, but by foundation of a new one, he
obtained himself lands, a country, a kingdom, wives, children, and
relations. And, in so doing, he killed or destroyed nobody, but
benefited those that wanted houses and homes, and were willing to
be of a society and become citizens. Robbers and malefactors he
slew not; but he subdued nations, he overthrew cities, he
triumphed over kings and commanders. As to Remus, it is doubtful
by whose hand he fell; it is generally imputed to others. His
mother he clearly retrieved from death, and placed his
grandfather, who was brought under base and dishonorable
vassalage, on the ancient throne of Aeneas, to whom he did
voluntarily many good offices, but never did him harm even
inadvertently. But Theseus, in his forgetfulness and neglect of
the command concerning the flag, can scarcely, methinks, by any
excuses, or before the most indulgent judges, avoid the imputation
of parricide. And, indeed, one of the Attic writers, perceiving it
to be very hard to make an excuse for this, feigns that Aegeus, at
the approach of the ship, running hastily to the Acropolis to see
what news there was, slipped and fell down; as if he had no
servants, or none would attend him on his way to the shore.


Those authors who are most worthy of credit deduce the genealogy
of Lycurgus, the lawgiver of Sparta, as follows:

Polydectes by his first wife. Lycurgus by Dionassa his second.

Sous certainly was the most renowned of all his ancestors, under
whose conduct the Spartans made slaves of the Helots, and added to
their dominions, by conquest, a good part of Arcadia. There goes a
story of this king Sous, that, being besieged by the Clitorians in
a dry and stony place so that he could come at no water, he was at
last constrained to agree with them upon these terms, that he
would restore to them all his conquests, provided that himself and
all his men should drink of the nearest spring. After the usual
oaths and ratifications, he called his soldiers together, and
offered to him that would forbear drinking, his kingdom for a
reward; and when not a man of them was able to forbear, in short,
when they had all drunk their fill, at last comes king Sous
himself to the spring, and, having sprinkled his face only,
without swallowing one drop, marches off in the face of his
enemies, refusing to yield up his conquests, because himself and
all his men had not, according to the articles, drunk of their

Although he was justly had in admiration on this account, yet his
family was not surnamed from him, but from his son Eurypon (of
whom they were called Eurypontids); the reason of which was that
Eurypon relaxed the rigor of the monarchy, seeking favor and
popularity with the many. They, after this first step, grew
bolder; and the succeeding kings partly incurred hatred with their
people by trying to use force, or, for popularity's sake and
through weakness, gave way; and anarchy and confusion long
prevailed in Sparta, causing, moreover, the death of the father of
Lycurgus. For as he was endeavoring to quell a riot, he was
stabbed with a butcher's knife, and left the title of king to his
eldest son Polydectes.

He, too, dying soon after, the right of succession (as every one
thought) rested in Lycurgus; and reign he did for a time, but
declared that the kingdom belonged to the child of his sister-in-
law the queen, and that he himself should exercise the regal
jurisdiction only as his guardian; the Spartan name for which
office is prodicus. Soon after, an overture was made to him by the
queen, that she would herself in some way destroy the infant, upon
condition that he would marry her when he came to the crown.
Abhorring the woman's wickedness, he nevertheless did not reject
her proposal, but, making show of closing with her, despatched the
messenger with thanks and expressions of joy, with orders that
they should bring the boy baby to him, wheresoever he were, and
whatsoever doing. It so fell out that when he was at supper with
the principal magistrates, the queen's child was presented to him,
and he, taking him into his arms, said to those about him, "Men of
Sparta, here is a king born unto us;" this said, he laid him down
in the king's place, and named him Charilaus, that is, the joy of
the people; because that all were transported with joy and with
wonder at his noble and just spirit. His reign had lasted only
eight months, but he was honored on other accounts by the
citizens, and there were more who obeyed him because of his
eminent virtues, than because he was regent to the king and had
the royal power in his hands. Some, however, envied and sought to
impede his growing influence while he was still young; chiefly the
kindred and friends of the queen-mother, who pretended to have
been dealt with injuriously. Her brother Leonidas, in a warm
debate which fell out betwixt him and Lycurgus, went so far as to
tell him to his face that he was well assured that ere long he
should see him king; suggesting suspicions and preparing the way
for an accusation of him, as though he had made away with his
nephew, if the child should chance to fail, though by a natural
death. Words of the like import were designedly cast abroad by the
queen-mother and her adherents.

Troubled at this, and not knowing what it might come to, he
thought it his wisest course to avoid their envy by a voluntary
exile, and to travel from place to place until his nephew came to
marriageable years, and, by having a son, had secured the
succession. Setting sail, therefore, with this resolution, he
first arrived at Crete, where, having considered their several
forms of government, and got an acquaintance with the principal
men amongst them, some of their laws he very much approved of, and
resolved to make use of them in his own country; a good part he
rejected as useless. Amongst the persons there the most renowned
for their learning and their wisdom in state matters was one
Thales, whom Lycurgus, by importunities and assurances of
friendship, persuaded to go over to Lacedaemon; where, though by
his outward appearance and his own profession he seemed to be no
other than a lyric poet, in reality he performed the part of one
of the ablest lawgivers in the world. The very songs which he
composed were exhortations to obedience and concord, and the very
measure and cadence of the verse, conveying impressions of order
and tranquillity, had so great an influence on the minds of the
listeners that they were insensibly softened and civilized,
insomuch that they renounced their private feuds and animosities,
and were reunited in a common admiration of virtue. So that it may
truly be said that Thales prepared the way for the discipline
introduced by Lycurgus.

From Crete he sailed to Asia, with design, as is said, to examine
the difference betwixt the manners and rules of life of the
Cretans, which were very sober and temperate, and those of the
Ionians, a people of sumptuous and delicate habits, and so to form
a judgment; just as physicians do by comparing healthy and
diseased bodies. Here he had the first sight of Homer's works, in
the hands, we may suppose, of the posterity of Creophylus; and,
having observed that the few loose expressions and actions of ill
example which are to be found in his poems were much outweighed by
serious lessons of state and rules of morality, he set himself
eagerly to transcribe and digest them into order, as thinking they
would be of good use in his own country. They had, indeed, already
obtained some slight repute amongst the Greeks, and scattered
portions, as chance conveyed them, were in the hands of
individuals; but Lycurgus first made them really known.

The Egyptians say that he took a voyage into Egypt, and that,
being much taken with their way of separating the soldiery from
the rest of the nation, he transferred it from them to Sparta; a
removal from contact with those employed in low and mechanical
occupations giving high refinement and beauty to the state. Some
Greek writers also record this. But as for his voyages into Spain,
Africa, and the Indies, and his conferences there with the
Gymnosophists, the whole relation, as far as I can find, rests on
the single credit of the Spartan Aristocrates, the son of

Lycurgus was much missed at Sparta, and often sent for, "For kings
indeed we have," they said, "who wear the marks and assume the
titles of royalty, but as for the qualities of their minds, they
have nothing by which they are to be distinguished from their
subjects;" adding that in him alone was the true foundation of
sovereignty to be seen, a nature made to rule, and a genius to
gain obedience. Nor were the kings themselves averse to see him
back, for they looked upon his presence as a bulwark against the
insolencies of the people.

Things being in this posture at his return, he applied himself,
without loss of time, to a thorough reformation, and resolved to
change the whole face of the commonwealth; for what could a few
particular laws and a partial alteration avail? He must act as
wise physicians do, in the case of one who labors under a
complication of diseases,--by force of medicines reduce and
exhaust him, change his whole temperament, and then set him upon a
totally new regimen of diet. Having thus projected things, away he
goes to Delphi to consult Apollo there; which having done, and
offered his sacrifice, he returned with that renowned oracle, in
which he is called beloved of God, and rather God than man: that
his prayers were heard, that his laws should be the best, and the
commonwealth which observed them the most famous in the world.
Encouraged by these things, he set himself to bring over to his
side the leading men of Sparta, exhorting them to give him a
helping hand in his great undertaking: he broke it first to his
particular friends, and then by degrees gained others, and
animated them all to put his design in execution. When things were
ripe for action, he gave order to thirty of the principal men of
Sparta to be ready armed at the market-place at break of day, to
the end that he might strike a terror into the opposite party.
Hermippus hath set down the names of twenty of the most eminent of
them: but the name of him whom Lycurgus most confided in, and who
was of most use to him both in making his laws and putting them in
execution, was Arthmiadas. Things growing to a tumult, king
Charilaus, apprehending that it was a conspiracy against his
person, took sanctuary in the temple of Athena of the Brazen
House; but, being soon after undeceived, and having taken an oath
of them that they had no designs against him, he quitted his
refuge, and himself also entered into the confederacy with them;
of so gentle and flexible a disposition he was, to which
Archelaus, his brother-king, alluded, when, hearing him extolled
for his goodness, he said: "Who can say he is anything but good?
he is so even to the bad."

Amongst the many changes and alterations which Lycurgus made, the
first and of greatest importance was the establishment of the
senate, which, having a power equal to the kings' in matters of
great consequence, and, as Plato expresses it, allaying and
qualifying the fiery genius of the royal office, gave steadiness
and safety to the commonwealth. For the state, which before had no
firm basis to stand upon, but leaned one while towards an absolute
monarchy, when the kings had the upper hand, and another while
towards a pure democracy, when the people had the better, found in
this establishment of the senate a central weight, like ballast in
a ship, which always kept things in a just equilibrium; the
twenty-eight always adhering to the kings so far as to resist
democracy, and, on the other hand, supporting the people against
the establishment of absolute monarchy. As for the determinate
number of twenty-eight, Aristotle states that it so fell out
because two of the original associates, for want of courage, fell
off from the enterprise; but Sphaerus assures us that there were
but twenty-eight of the confederates at first; perhaps there is
some mystery in the number, which consists of seven multiplied by
four, and is the first of perfect numbers after six, being, as
that is, equal to all its parts. For my part, I believe Lycurgus
fixed upon the number of twenty-eight, that, the two kings being
reckoned amongst them, they might be thirty in all. So eagerly set
was he upon this establishment, that he took the trouble to obtain
an oracle about it from Delphi; and the Rhetra (or sacred
ordinance) runs thus: "After that you have built a temple to
Jupiter Hellanius, and to Minerva Hellania, and after that you
have phyle'd the people into phyles, and obe'd them into obes, you
shall establish a council of thirty elders, the leaders included,
and shall, from time to time, assemble the people betwixt Babyca
and Cnacion, there propound and put to the vote. The commons have
the final voice and decision." By phyles and obes are meant the
divisions of the people; by the leaders, the two kings; Aristotle
says Cnacion is a river, and Babyca a bridge. Betwixt this Babyca
and Cnacion, their assemblies were held, for they had no council-
house or building to meet in. Lycurgus was of opinion that
ornaments were so far from advantaging them in their councils,
that they were rather an hindrance, by diverting their attention
from the business before them to statues and pictures, and roofs
curiously fretted, the usual embellishments of such places amongst
the other Greeks. The people then being thus assembled in the open
air, it was not allowed to any one of their order to give his
advice, but only either to ratify or reject what should be
propounded to them by the king or senate.

After the creation of the thirty senators, his next task, and,
indeed, the most hazardous he ever undertook, was the making of a
new division of their lands. For there was an extreme inequality
amongst them, and their state was overloaded with a multitude of
indigent and necessitous persons, while its whole wealth had
centred upon a very few. To the end, therefore, that he might
expel from the state arrogance and envy, luxury and crime, and
those yet more inveterate diseases of want and superfluity, he
obtained of them to renounce their properties, and to consent to a
new division of the land, and that they should live all together
on an equal footing; merit to be their only road to eminence, and
the disgrace of evil, and credit of worthy acts, their one measure
of difference between man and man.

Upon their consent to these proposals, proceeding at once to put
them into execution, he divided the country of Laconia in general
into thirty thousand equal shares, and the part attached to the
city of Sparta into nine thousand; these he distributed among the
Spartans, as he did the others to the country citizens. A lot was
so much as to yield, one year with another, about seventy bushels
of grain for the master of the family, and twelve for his wife,
with a suitable proportion of oil and wine. And this he thought
sufficient to keep their bodies in good health and strength;
superfluities they were better without. It is reported, that, as
he returned from a journey shortly after the division of the
lands, in harvest time, the ground being newly reaped, seeing the
stacks all standing equal and alike, he smiled, and said to those
about him, "Methinks all Laconia looks like one family estate just
divided among a number of brothers."

Not contented with this, he resolved to make a division of their
movables too, that there might be no odious distinction or
inequality left amongst them; but finding that it would be very
dangerous to go about it openly, he took another course, and
defeated their avarice by the following stratagem: he commanded
that all gold and silver coin should be called in, and that only a
sort of money made of iron should be current, a great weight and
quantity of which was worth but very little; so that to lay up a
hundred or two dollars there was required a pretty large closet,
and, to remove it, nothing less than a yoke of oxen. With the
diffusion of this money, at once a number of vices were banished
from Lacedaemon; for who would rob another of such a coin? Who
would unjustly detain or take by force, or accept as a bribe, a
thing which it was not easy to hide, nor a credit to have, nor
indeed of any use to cut in pieces? For when it was just red-hot,
they quenched it in vinegar, and by that means spoilt it, and made
it almost incapable of being worked.

In the next place, he declared an outlawry of all needless and
superfluous arts; but here he might almost have spared his
proclamation; for they of themselves would have gone with the gold
and silver, the money which remained being not so proper payment
for curious work; for, being of iron, it was scarcely portable,
neither, if they should take the pains to export it, would it pass
amongst the other Greeks, who ridiculed it. so there was now no
more means of purchasing foreign goods and small wares; merchants
sent no shiploads into Laconian ports; no rhetoric-master, no
itinerant fortune-teller, or gold or silversmith, engraver, or
jeweler, set foot in a country which had no money; so that luxury,
deprived little by little of that which fed and fomented it,
wasted to nothing, and died away of itself. For the rich had no
advantage here over the poor, as their wealth and abundance had no
road to come abroad by, but were shut up at home doing nothing.
And in this way they became excellent artists in common necessary
things; bedsteads, chairs, and tables, and such like staple
utensils in a family, were admirably well made there; their cup,
particularly, was very much in fashion, and eagerly sought for by
soldiers, as Critias reports; for its color was such as to prevent
water, drunk upon necessity and disagreeable to look at, from
being noticed; and the shape of it was such that the mud stuck to
the sides, so that only the purer part came to the drinker's
mouth. For this, also, they had to thank their lawgiver, who, by
relieving the artisans of the trouble of making useless things,
set them to show their skill in giving beauty to those of daily
and indispensable use.

The third and most masterly stroke of this great lawgiver, by
which he struck a yet more effectual blow against luxury and the
desire of riches, was the ordinance he made that they should all
eat in common, of the same bread and same meat, and of kinds that
were specified, and should not spend their lives at home, laid on
costly couches at splendid tables, delivering themselves up into
the hands of their tradesmen and cooks, to fatten them in corners,
like greedy brutes, and to ruin not their minds only but their
very bodies, which, enfeebled by indulgence and excess, would
stand in need of long sleep, warm bathing, freedom from work, and,
in a word, of as much care and attendance as if they were
continually sick. It was certainly an extraordinary thing to have
brought about such a result as this, but a greater yet to have
taken away from wealth, as Theophrastus observes, not merely the
property of being coveted, but its very nature of being wealth.
For the rich, being obliged to go to the same table with the poor,
could not make use of or enjoy their abundance, nor so much as
please their vanity by looking at or displaying it. So that the
common proverb, that Plutus, the god of riches, is blind, was
nowhere in all the world literally verified but in Sparta. There,
indeed, he was not only blind, but, like a picture, without either
life or motion. Nor were they allowed to take food at home first,
and then attend the public tables, for everyone had an eye upon
those who did not eat and drink like the rest, and reproached them
with being dainty and effeminate.

This last ordinance in particular exasperated the wealthier men.
They collected in a body against Lycurgus, and from ill words came
to throwing stones, so that at length he was forced to run out of
the market-place, and make to sanctuary to save his life; by good-
hap he outran all excepting one Alcander, a young man otherwise
not ill accomplished, but hasty and violent, who came up so close
to him, that, when he turned to see who was near him, he struck
him upon the face with his stick, and put out one of his eyes.
Lycurgus, so far from being daunted and discouraged by this
accident, stopped short and showed his disfigured face and eye
beat out to his countrymen; they, dismayed and ashamed at the
sight, delivered Alcander into his hands to be punished, and
escorted him home, with expressions of great concern for his ill
usage. Lycurgus, having thanked them for their care of his person,
dismissed them all, excepting only Alcander; and, taking him with
him into his house, neither did nor said anything severe to him,
but dismissing those whose place it was, bade Alcander to wait
upon him at table. The young man, who was of an ingenuous temper,
did without murmuring as he was commanded; and, being thus
admitted to live with Lycurgus, he had an opportunity to observe
in him, beside his gentleness and calmness of temper, an
extraordinary sobriety and an indefatigable industry, and so, from
an enemy, became one of his most zealous admirers, and told his
friends and relations that Lycurgus was not that morose and ill-
natured man they had formerly taken him for, but the one mild and
gentle character of the world. And thus did Lycurgus, for
chastisement of his fault, make of a wild and passionate young man
one of the discreetest citizens of Sparta.

In memory of this accident, Lycurgus built a temple to Minerva.
Some authors, however, say that he was wounded, indeed, but did
not lose his eye from the blow; and that he built the temple in
gratitude for the cure. Be this as it will, certain it is, that,
after this misadventure, the Lacedaemonians made it a rule never
to carry so much as a staff into their public assemblies.

But to return to their public repasts. They met by companies of
fifteen, more or less, and each of them stood bound to bring in
monthly a bushel of meal, eight gallons of wine, five pounds of
cheese, two pounds and a half of figs, and some very small sum of
money to buy flesh or fish with. Besides this, when any of them
made sacrifice to the gods, they always sent a dole to the common
hall; and, likewise, when any of them had been a-hunting, he sent
thither a part of the venison he had killed; for these two
occasions were the only excuses allowed for supping at home. The
custom of eating together was observed strictly for a great while
afterwards; insomuch that king Agis himself, after having
vanquished the Athenians, sending for his commons at his return
home, because he desired to eat privately with his queen, was
refused them by the polemarchs; and when he resented this refusal
so much as to omit next day the sacrifice due for a war happily
ended, they made him pay a fine.

They used to send their children to these tables as to schools of
temperance; here they were instructed in state affairs by
listening to experienced statesmen; here they learnt to converse
with pleasantry, to make jests without scurrility, and take them
without ill humor. In this point of good breeding, the
Lacedaemonians excelled particularly, but if any man were uneasy
under it, upon the least hint given there was no more to be said
to him. It was customary also for the eldest man in the company to
say to each of them, as they came in, "Through this" (pointing to
the door), "no words go out." When any one had a desire to be
admitted into any of these little societies, he was to go through
the following probation: each man in the company took a little
ball of soft bread, which they were to throw into a deep basin,
that a waiter carried round upon his head; those that liked the
person to be chosen dropped their ball into the basin without
altering its figure, and those who disliked him pressed it betwixt
their fingers, and made it flat; and this signified as much as a
negative voice. And if there were but one of these flattened
pieces in the basin, the suitor was rejected, so desirous were
they that all the members of the company should be agreeable to
each other. The basin was called caddichus, and the rejected
candidate had a name thence derived. Their most famous dish was
the black broth, which was so much valued that the elderly men fed
only upon that, leaving what flesh there was to the younger.

They say that a certain king of Pontus, having heard much of this
black broth of theirs, sent for a Lacedaemonian cook on purpose to
make him some, but had no sooner tasted it than he found it
extremely bad, which the cook observing, told him, "Sir, to make
this broth relish, you should have bathed yourself first in the
river Eurotas."

After drinking moderately, every man went to his home without
lights, for the use of them was, on all occasions, forbid, to the
end that they might accustom themselves to march boldly in the
dark. Such was the common fashion of their meals.

Lycurgus would never reduce his laws into writing; nay, there is a
Rhetra expressly to forbid it. For he thought that the most
material points, and such as most directly tended to the public
welfare, being imprinted on the hearts of their youth by a good
discipline, would be sure to remain, and would find a stronger
security, than any compulsion would be, in the principles of
action formed in them by their best lawgiver, education.

One, then, of the Rhetras was, that their laws should not be
written; another is particularly leveled against luxury and
expensiveness, for by it it was ordained that the ceilings of
their houses should only be wrought by the axe, and their gates
and doors smoothed only the saw. Epaminondas's famous dictum about
his own table, that "Treason and a dinner like this do not keep
company together," may be said to have been anticipated by
Lycurgus. Luxury and a house of this kind could not well be
companions. For a man must have a less than ordinary share of
sense that would furnish such plain and common rooms with silver-
footed couches and purple coverlets and gold and silver plate.
Doubtless he had good reason to think that they would proportion
their beds to their houses, and their coverlets to their beds, and
the rest of their goods and furniture to these. It is reported
that King Leotychides, the first of that name, was so little used
to the sight of any other kind of work, that, being entertained at
Corinth in a stately room, he was much surprised to see the timber
and ceilings so finely carved and paneled, and asked his host
whether the trees grew so in his country.


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