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- We likewise know that the kings of Attica, fo far from having sovereign authority, were often exposed to the caprices and violences of their people. It was not uncommon: to see them take up arms against their prince, and often to: declare war against him. The will of the kings was not their rule. They governed themselves according to their own wills, and often came to blows with each other k. They did not apply to the King but when the common danger obliged them to assemble : then indeed they submitted them. felves to his conduct !
What Homer tells us of the form of government of the kingdom of Ithaca, of that of the Pheacians in, and of some others, may serve as a rule to judge of the rest of the states of Greece. We ought only to look upon the first sovereigns of this country, as chiefs of a kind of republic, where all the affairs were decided by a plurality of voices. The ancient government of the Greeks was, properly speaking, a med. ley, a compound of monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy ", : The grandees had great authority, and enjoyed very extensive privileges. In Homer, Alcinous, King of the Pheacians, speaking to the great men of the state, says in plain terms, .“ There are twelve chiefs who command a people, 66 and I am the thirteenth ...” When Theseus would make Athens the centre of the authority of the whole government, and bring under its jurisdiction all the cities and towns of Attica, he found great opposition from the rich and most powerful of his kingdom, who were afraid of being stript of the best part of their authority P.
The people had likewise their rights. They held publie
k Plut. in Ther. p. 10.F, 1 Thucyd. 1. 2. p. 107. 108.
m Though, for reasons I thall give in another place, I think we ought to look upon the isle of the Pheacians as belonging to Asia, rather than Europe; yet finding great conformity between the government of these people and that of the Greeks, I thought I could strengthen the article I am at present treating of by examples drawn from the Pheacians.
n Arift. polit. I. 3. C. 14.; Pion. Halic. 1. 5. p. 337.
o Odyff. 1. 8. v. 393. These twelve chiefs, or princes were something like what the twelve peers of France were formerly. p Plut. in Thes. p. II.
assemblies to deliberate on affairs of state. The kings determined nothing of themselves. They had a council composed of the principal persons of the nation 9 : they there proposed what they judged proper. If their project was approved of, they put it in execution after having declared it to the afsembly of the people. This is what Aristotle explains very distinctly : “ It is easy to remark,” says he,“ by the an“ cient forms of government very exactly copied and written “ by Homer, that the kings proposed to the people what « had been resolved in council (.” We shall again have occasion to return to this subject, when we speak of the military discipline of these ancient times-e.
Besides, the people lived in very great liberty, and almost in independence, without any obligation of obeying the fovea reign, if he proposed what they thought was unjust or contrary to the laws of the state, to the received customs, or the interests of particulars. The constitution of government among the ancient inhabitants of Germany, was perfe&ly conformable to that of ancient Greece«, and consequently as defective.
It appears further that it was the people who disposed of dignities. In the Odyssee, Ulysses addressing his speech to the Queen of the Pheacians, says to her: “Great Queen, I “ come to embrace your knees, those of the King, and those “ of all those princes who are seated at your table. May the
gods grant them the favour of leaving to their children “ after them the riches and honours which the people have “ heaped upon them.” The power of the first kings of Greece was then extremely limited; their title amounted to
9 Odyr 1. 8. init,
+ Iliad. I. 2. v. 53.; Odys. 1. 3. V. 127. ; Eustath. ad Iliad. I. 1. V. 144. We must take care to distinguish assemblies from councils ; they were two very different things. Allemblies,' Ayopai, were general, all the people had a right to be there. Councils, Bérai, were particular assemblies composed of chosen persons. ! In moral. 1. 3. C.5. t. 2. p. 32. See also Dion. Halic. I. 2. p. 86.
Book 5. chap. 3. Our ancient feudal government is exactly like the government of Greece in the heroic times. They knew no more then in one country than the other : barbarism reigned equally.
Tacit. de mor. Gcrm. c. 11. * L. 7. V, 146. &c.
little more than a sort of pre-eminence over the other citizens
They had a right to assemble the people each in their own
The revenue of the kings was of the same nature as that of private persons. It consisted in lands, woods, and above all in flocks e. The only difference between kings and private persons was, that the kings had these things in larger quantities. The people even ihewed their gratitude in no other way but by making them presents of this kind d. The Athenians, to reward Thefeus for the services he had done them, gave him a certain quantity of land and inclosures e. Indeed it was the custom in those remote times, for the people to hew their esteem and gratitude for their princes by
y Arift. polit. 1. 3. C. 14. p. 357. B.; Ibid. c. 15. init,
2 Arift. ibid. ; Demosth. in Neaeram. p. 873. ; Strabo, 1. 1. p. 43. I. 14. p.
« Odyff. 1. 14. V. 98. &c.; Paus. 1. 4. C. 36. ; See Meziriac in ep. Ovid. t.
Plut. in Thef. p. 10. E. The people in this respect treated heroes like the
presents. For this reason it is, that the scripture often speaks of the presents which the princes received from their subjects f. It was also an ancient custom among the Romans, to give as a reward a certain quantity of lands s.
Independently of their particular demefns, these princes levied subsidies on their people h. On fome occasions they even imposed new taxes'. It was likewise usual to exact tri. butes from conquered people *. It appears that these last tributes were paid in kind ',
For the rest the riches of these first sovereigns could not be very considerable; it is fufficient, to be convinced of this, to consider, that Greece, in the heroic times, was without trade, without arts, without navigation, destitute, in a word, of all the resources which procure abundance and riches to a country".
It is true, history speaks of one Minyas, King of the Phle. gians, whose revenues were so considerable, that he furpassed all his predecessors in riches. They add, that he was the first King of Greece who built an edifice on purpose to deposite his treasures». This prince might reign about 1300 years before Christ; 50 before the expedition of the Argonauts,
They have likewise boasted of the riches of Athamas, King of Orchomene. Athamas was grandson of Deucalion, and son-in-law of Cadmus p. I will not dispute these facts, but shall only say, that we ought to understand them with proper restrictions. Minyas and Athamas might be looked upon as very rich, comparatively with the other kings of Greece their cotemporaries. But as these fovereigns were not then opulent, it follows that we ought not to apply to
1 Kings c. 10. V. 25. & Plin. 1. 18. sect. 3. init. See likewise Tacit. de mor. Germ. C. 15. h Iliad. I. 9. V. 156. i Odys. 1. 13. V. 14. 15. * Apollod. 1. 2. p. 85.; Diod. 1. 4. p. 255.; Paus. 1. 9. C. 37. init. " Plut. t. 2. p. 294. D.
in See Thucyd. 1. 1. n. 11.; Herod. 1. 8. n. 137. I shall have an opportupity of examining this more particularly when I come to speak of the state of arts and commerce of the Greeks, in the ages we are at present employed about. Book 4.
» Paus. I. 9. c. 36.
•* the riches of Minyas and Athamas the idea we at this time annex to these expressions.
I have taken care to remark in the first part of this work, that in Egypt and Asia the throne was hereditary 4. The fame maxim prevailed in Greece. The sceptre passed from father to fon", and commonly to the eldests. Superstition alone had fomçtimes the power to make them reject the presumptive heir. This appears by the discourse which Homer makes Telemachus hold with Nestor, who demands of that young prince, whether the people had taken an aversion to him in consequence of some answer of the oracles. If then we except some particular circumstances ", the order of the crowns palling from the father to the son, seems to have been constantly and generally followed. We need only cast our eyes on the Grecian history to be convinced of this truth.
I think I ought 110t to finish this article without speaking of oracles, and the influence which they had on the conduct of the people. The question of Nestor to Telemachus, which I have just now mentioned, brings us naturally to it.
We should never have done were we to cite all the ex, amples which ancient history affords of the power and effect of oracles. We may find traces sufficiently plain in the short account I have given of the principal events that happened in Greece, during the ages that we are at present running over. These facts shew us to what a degree the Greeks were then blinded with that superstition. It will suffice to say, that nothing was done without the advice of the oracles. They consulted them not only for great enterprises, but even in private affairs. Were they to make war or peace,
9 Book 1.
"Odyfi. l. 1. V. 387. 1. 16. V. 401.; Arift. polit. I. 3. C. 14. p. 357. A.; Thucyd. 1.1. p. 12. lin. 71. The genealogy which Homer makes of the sceptre of Agamemnon, Iliad. 1. 2. v. 46. & 101. is alone sufficient to prove that the crown was hereditary among the Greeks: but this fact is elsewhere established by à number of passages of the same poet.
i Apollod. 1. 3. p. 202.; Diod. 1. 5. p. 376. lin. 96. 1. 6. fragm. ; Apud. Syncell. p. 179. C.
? Odyff. 1. 3. V. 215. See also l. 16. V. 66. & Eustath. p. 1464. lin. 25.