over a steady and prudent prince, and knew how to conquer moft of the people of Peloponnefus. He was even fo far honoured and refpected, that they gave his name to all that peninfula. I fhall have occafion in the fequel to speak of the posterity of Pelops. Let us return to Acrifius.

No one is ignorant that the end of this prince was most unlucky. He loft his life by the hand of Perfeus his grandfon. By his death, Perfeus found himself King of Argos. But the manner by which he afcended the throne, gave him a diftafte to his kingdom. He condemned himself to quit his country, and engaged Megapentes king of Tyrinthus, his coufin, to change his kingdom with him ".

The kingdom of Argos loft by the death of Acrifius almost all its glory. From Megapentes, who left his crown to Anaxagoras his fon, there is nothing certain in the fucceffion of the kings of Argos. All that we know, is, that Cylarabis was the laft of them. In the reign of this prince, Oreftes, son of Agamemnon, feized on the kingdom of Argos, and united it to that of Mycena,



Though the kingdom of Mycena be the least ancient and the leaft confiderable in Greece; yet to leave'nothing to be wished for relative to the ancient state of that part of Europe, I fhall examine its hiftory, but that very briefly. What we have read of the exchange made between Perfeus and Megapentes, made me place here what I have to fay on this fubject.

The kingdom of Mycena owes its foundation to Perfeus. Tyrinthes was the capital of that new kingdom which that prince had juft acquired; but, for reafons at prefent unknown, he refolved to change his refidence. As he

m Apollod. 2. p. 77.; Pauf. 1. 2. c. 16. Pauf. ibid. c. 18. Strabo, 1. 8. p. 579.


looked for a proper place to build a new city, the hilt of his fword fell off. This accident appeared to him an happy prefage. He thought he there faw the will of the gods in a sensible manner, and because púns in Greek fignified the hilt of a fword, he built a city there, and called it Mycenæ P. Such were the motives by which they were commonly determined in these remote ages.

Perfeus, a prince equally famous by his exploits and by his travels, is one of the most celebrated heroes of antiquity. But I believe I fhall be difpenfed with from entering into any detail of his actions. What hiftory has tranfmitted to to us is fo disfigured by, fabulous and contradictory relations, that one cannot tell what to make of them. I shall there. fore content myself with just taking notice of his voyages in the article of navigation.

The fucceffors of Perfeus were Maftor, Electrion, Sthe nelus, and Euryftheus. This laft was grandson of Pelops by his mother Nicipper, whom Sthenelus had married. No one is ignorant of the labours with which he loaded Hercules his coulin. The family of Perfeus ended in the person of Euryftheus. Having made war in Attica, he perished there with all his children .

[ocr errors]

At his death the crown of Mycenæ paffed into the family of Pelops. Upon going on his expedition against the Athenians, Eurytheus had intrufted the government of his dominions to his uncle Atreus, fon of Pelops. Atreus was, no fooner apprised of the death of his nephew, and the defeat of his army, than availing himself of the confternation which that event had thrown his countries into, he feized on the throne of Myceng. This prince is but too well known by the horrible confequences of his implacable hatred of Thyeftes his elder brother. We know the caufe of it. To revenge himself of the difhonour he believed he had received,

P Pauf. 1. 2. c. 16.

Herod. 1. 2. n. 91.4. 7. n. 61. et 150.; Apollod. 1. 2.; Hygin. fab. 64. ; Ovid. Met. 1. 4.

Apollod. 1. 2. p. 78. 79.

Thucyd. 1. 1. p. 8.; Apollod. 1. 2. p. 122. : Diod. 1.4 p. 301. 302.
Thucyd. 1. 1. p. 89.; Diod. 1. 4. p. ZZZ.


Atreus made Thyeftes eat his own children. This unhappy father had been intimate with his own daughter Pelopia *. From this incest he had a fon whom he called Egythus. Egyfthus revenged his father by flaying Atreus. This death placed Thyeftes on the throne of Mycenæv. Agamemnon his nephew drove him out : but by the intrigues of his wife Clytemneftra, he himself fome time afterward fell beneath the strokes of Egyfthus, who seized on the crown. This ufurper in his turn perished by the hand of Oreftes, who did not even spare his own mother •.

The crime of Oreftes did not go unpunished. Without speaking of the remorfe of confcience, meant by the revenging furies with which the ancient tragedies have represented him tormented, he was accused before the people by Perilas, who, as coufin-german of Clytemnestra, demanded vengeance for her death. for her death. Oreftes was obliged to go to Athens to fubmit himself to the judgment of the Areopagus. 'Tis one of the most famous that this tribunal is faid to have given. Though fable has ftrangely disfigured the circumstances, it is certain that this judgment was the epocha of a change of the utmost confequence in the criminal proceedings of the Athenians. For this reafon I will lay the facts before the reader. I leave to his own difcernment the care of difentangling the truth, from what has been added to it by the taste of an age too fond of the marvelous.


The Areopagus difcuffed the affair of Oreftes with great attention. They were divided in opinion at the beginning; but in the end the number of the judges who were for condemning Oreftes, carried it by one vote over those who would have him acquitted. This unfortunate prince was going to be condemned; when Minerva joined herself, fay they, to the judges who were for pardoning, and by

Pauf. 1. 2. c. 18.; Hygin. fab. 87.88. * Idem, ibid.
Ibid.; Iliad. 1. 2. v. 100. z Euripid. Iphig. a&t. 5.1
Odyff. 1. 4. v. 91. 92. 1. 11. v. 408. &c.;
268.; Hygin. fab. 117.; Vell. Pater. 1. 1. p. 2.
Marm. Arund. ep. 24.; Hygin. fab. 119.
Id. l. 1. c. 28.; Marm. Arund. ep. 24.

Virgil. Æneid. 1. 11. v. 226. &.

• Pauf. 1. 8. c. 34.


that means made the votes equal. In confequence, Oreftes was acquitted of the accufation. From that time, whenever there was an equality of voices, they decided in favour of the accufed, by giving him what they call the fuffrage of Minerva ɛ.

The reign of Oreftes was glorious and flourishing. By his marriage with Hermione, daughter of Menelaus, he inherited the kingdom of Sparta. I have already observed, that he united the crown of Mycena to the kingdom of Argosi.

Tifamenes his fon fucceeded him *, and only wore the crown three years. It was in his reign that the kingdom of Mycena ended by the invafion of the Heraclide, who threw themselves into Peloponnefus, made themselves mafters of it, and changed the form of government 1.




BEOTIA EOTIA was the first country of Greece faid to be inhabited; these people formerly called themselves Ecenes, and reckoned Ogyges for their first sovereign . A violent plague having destroyed almost all the firft colony, the Hyanthes and the Aonians entered Beotia, and fettled there. We are entirely ignorant of the events that happened till the time that Cadmus feized on it.

e Æfchil. in Eumen. v. 743. & 749.

Arift. problem. fect. 29. prob. 13.; Hefychius voce "oas Lupor. See alfo Meziriac, in ep. Ovid. t. 2. p. 271.; Bianchiani. ist. univ. p. 318.and the note on Marm. Oxon. p. 353.

According to Varro, this custom should be yet more ancient than Oreftes; he fays it took place in the judgment which the Areopagus gave between Mars and Neptune, on account of the murder of Halirothius. Apud. Auguft. de civit. Dei, 1. 8. c. 10.

In France the accufed are treated yet more favourably. There must always be two voices majority for the most rigorous fentence. So among eleven, for example, if there are fix for an heavy punishment, and five for a lighter, the five carry it against the fix, and the court paffes the milder sentence.

i Art. 2.

m Pauf. 1. 9. c. 5°

Hygin. fab. 121.; Pauf. 1. 3. c. I. k Pauf. 1. 2. c. 18. 1 See art. 6. Ibid. See alfo Strab. 1. 9. p. 615,


The arrival of this prince is one of the most celebrated epochas of the Grecian hiftory. It happened in the reign of Amphyction fecond king of Athens, 1519 years before Chrift. It is of very little confequence to know whether Cadmus was originally an Egyptian or Phenician; that is a point I fhall not examine. It is fufficient to know that he came from Phenicia into Greece. All authors agree in this. The motive of his voyage, according to fome, was an order he received from the King his father, to go in search of his fifter Europa whom the Greeks had stolen away P. After having been stopped by a tempeft a long time, he came into Beotia. His first care was to go and confult the oracle of Delphos, to know in what country he might find Europa. The god, without anfwering his question, bid him fix his abode at a place that fhould be fhewn to him by an ox of a particular colour 9. On going out of the temple, Cadmus met one, which, after having led him a great way, laid down through wearinefs. Cadmus fixed himself in the very spot, and called it Beotia .

It was not without meeting with great refiftance from the inhabitants, that Cadmus was able to form his new eftablishment. The Hyantes in particular oppofed hem greatly. But a decifive battle obliged them to abandon their country, and to look for a retreat fomewhere else. The Aonians, become wife by the example of their neighbours, voluntarily fubmitted themfelves to the conqueror, who, on their becoming fubjects, permitted them to stay in their own country. From that time they were one and the fame people with the Phenicians'. This is the abridg.

• Marm. Oxon. ep. 7.

P Eufeb. Chron. 1. 2. p. 79.

According to an ancient tradition related by Athenaeus, 1.14. p. 658. Cadmus was only one of the principal officers of the King of Sidon. Seduced by the charms of Hermione or Harmione, a musician in the court of that prince, he carried her off, and conducted her into Boeotia. See upon this whole anecdote, Je comment. du P. Calmet. ad Gen c. 37. v. 36. Athenaeus took this from the third book of Euhemeres, a famous author, but much cried down by antiquity, and I believe very unjustly, as I will fully fhew hereafter. Apollod.1 3. p. 136.; Hygin. fab. 178.; Pauf. 1. 9. c. 12. Paul 1. 9. c. 12. Pauf. 1. 9. c. 5.




« ElőzőTovább »