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-We likewife know that the kings of Attica, fo far from having fovereign authority, were often expofed 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 *. They did not apply to the King but when the common danger obliged them to affemble: then indeed they fubmitted themfelves to his conduct 1.
What Homer tells us of the form of government of the, kingdom of Ithaca, of that of the Pheacians ", and of fome 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 medley, a compound of monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy",
The grandees had great authority, and enjoyed very extenfive privileges. In Homer, Alcinous, King of the Phea cians, speaking to the great men of the ftate, fays in plain terms," There are twelve chiefs who command a people, " and I am the thirteenth ⚫. When Thefeus would make Athens the centre of the authority of the whole government, and bring under its jurifdiction all the cities and towns of Attica, he found great oppofition 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 likewife their rights. They held publie
* Plut. in Thef. p. 10. F,
1 Thucyd. 1. 2. p. 107. 108.
m Though, for reasons I fhall give in another place, I think we ought to look upon the isle of the Pheacians as belonging to Afia, rather than Europe; yet finding great conformity between the government of the fe 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.1. 3. c. 14.; Dion. Halic. 1. 5. p. 337.
• Odyff. 1. 8. v. 390. These twelve chiefs, or princes were something like what the twelve peers of France were formerly.
P Plut. in Thef. p. 11.
affemblies to deliberate, on affairs of ftate. The kings de- . termined nothing of themfelves. They had a council compofed of the principal perfons of the nation: they there propofed what they judged proper. If their project was approved of, they put it in execution after having declared it to the affembly of the people. This is what Aristotle explains very diftinctly: "It is eafy to remark," fays 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 refolved in council." We fhall again have occafion to return to this fubject, when we speak of the military difcipline of these ancient times t.
Befides, the people lived in very great liberty, and almost in independence, without any obligation of obeying the fovereign, if he proposed what they thought was unjust or contrary to the laws of the ftate, to the received customs, or the interefts of particulars. The conftitution of government among the ancient inhabitants of Germany, was perfectly conformable to that of ancient Greece", and confequently as defective.
It appears further that it was the people who difposed of dignities. In the Odyffee, Ulyffes addreffing 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 feated 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
Odv 1. 8. init.
Iliad. 1. 2. v. 53. ; Odyff. 1. 3. v. 127.; Euftath. ad Iliad. 1. r. v. 144. We must take care to diftinguish assemblies from councils; they were two very different things. Assemblies,' Ayopal, were general, all the people had a right to be there. Councils, Béxai, were particular affemblies composed of chofen perfons.
In moral. 1. 3. c. 5. t. 2. p. 32. See alfo Dion. Halic. 1. 2. p. 86.
t 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. Germ. c. II.
* L. 7. V, 146, &c,
little more than a fort of pre-eminence over the other citizens of the ftate. Here is the whole amount of their prerogatives.
They had a right to ffemble the people each in their own district. They voted firft, heard the complaints, and determined the differences which happened among their fubjects. But the principal office of thefe kings, and that in which truly confifted the prerogatives of their dignity, was the command of the troops in time of war, and the fuperintendance of religion. They prefided at facrifices, pu blic games, and holy combats. In Homer, the kings always did the office of facrificators. The Greeks were fo thoroughly convinced that the high priesthood could not be exercised but by their kings, that even in the cities that changed their monarchical government to republican, he who prefided over the myfteries and affairs of religion, had the title of king, and his wife that of queen. It was the fame thing among the Romans; in fpite of the averfion and contempt which these haughty republicans kept up for whatever bore the name of king, yet they had at Rome a king of the facrifices .
The revenue of the kings was of the fame nature as that of private persons. It confifted in lands, woods, and above all in flocks. The only difference between kings and private perfons was, that the kings had these things in larger quantities. The people even thewed their gratitude in no other way but by making them prefents of this kind. The Athenians, to reward Thefeus for the fervices he had done them, gave him a certain quantity of land and inclofures⚫. Indeed it was the cuftom in thofe remote times, for the people to fhew their efteem and gratitude for their princes by
y Arift. polit. 1. 3. c. 14. p. 357. B.; Ibid. c. 15. init,
z Arift. ibid.; Demofth. in Neaeram. p. 873.; Strabo, 1. 1. p. 43. 1. 14. p. 938.; Plut. t. 2. p. 279. C.
a Demofth. loco cit.; Pollux. 1.8. c. 9. fegm. 96.; Heraclid. in Polit.
b Cicero de divin. 1. 1. n. 40.; Dion. Halicarn. 1. 5. p. 278.
Odyff. 1. 14. v. 98. &c.; Pauf. 1. 4. c. 36.; See Meziriac in ep. Ovid. t. 2. p. 319.
Iliad. 1.6. v. 194. 1. 9. v.
* Plut. in Thef. p. 10. E. The people in this refpect treated heroes like the gods, for the gods had lands confecrated to them.
prefents. For this reafon it is, that the fcripture often fpeaks of the prefents which the princes received from their fubjects. It was alfo an ancient cuftom among the Romans, to give as a reward a certain quantity of lands.
Independently of their particular demefns, these princes levied fubfidies on their people. On fome occafions they even impofed new taxes. It was likewise usual to exact tributes from conquered people *. It appears that these last tributes were paid in kind 1.
For the reft the riches of these first fovereigns could not be very confiderable; it is fufficient, to be convinced of this, to confider, that Greece, in the heroic times, was without trade, without arts, without navigation, deftitute, in a word, of all the resources which procure abundance and riches to a country m.
It is true, history speaks of one Minyas, King of the Phlegians, whofe revenues were fo confiderable, that he furpassed all his predeceffors in riches. They add, that he was the first King of Greece who built an edifice on purpose to depofite his treafures". This prince might reign about 1300 years before Chrift; 50 before the expedition of the Argonauts ".
They have likewife boasted of the riches of Athamas, King of Orchomene. Athamas was grandfon of Deucalion, and fon-in-law of Cadmus P. I will not difpute thefe facts, but fhall only fay, 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
f I Kings c. 10. v. 25.
Plin. 1. 18. fect. 3. init. See likewise Tacit. de mor. Germ. c. 15.
Apollod. 1. 2. p. 85.; Diod. 1. 4. p. 255.; Pauf. 1. 9. c. 37. init.
in See Thucyd. 1. 1. n. 11.; Herod. 1. 8. n. 137. I fhall 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 prefent employed about. Book 4.
"Pauf. 1. 9. c. 36.
See Mezriac. in ep. Ovid. t. 2. p. 56. &c.
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 Afia the throne was hereditary 1. The fame maxim prevailed in Greece. The fceptre paffed from father to son, and commonly to the eldest. Superstition alone had fometimes the power to make them reject the prefumptive heir. This appears by the discourse which Homer makes Telemachus hold with Neftor, who demands of that young prince, whether the people had taken an averfion to him in confequence of some answer of the oracle. If then we except fome particular circumftances", the order of the crowns paffing from the father to the fon, feems to have been conftantly and generally followed. We need only caft our eyes on the Grecian hiftory to be convinced of this truth.
I think I ought not to finish this article without speaking of oracles, and the influence which they had on the conduct of the people. The question of Neftor to Telemachus, which I have just now mentioned, brings us naturally to it.
We should never have done were we to cite all the examples which ancient history affords of the power and effect of oracles. We may find traces fufficiently plain in the short account I have given of the principal events that happened in Greece, during the ages that we are at prefent running over. These facts fhew us to what a degree the Greeks were then blinded with that fuperftition. It will fuffice to fay, that nothing was done without the advice of the oracles. They confulted them not only for great enterprises, but even in private affairs. Were they to make war or peace,
9 Book I.
Odyff. 1.1. v. 387. 1. 16. v. 401.; Arift. polit. 1. 3. c. 14. p. 357. A.; Thucyd. 1. 1. p. 12. lin. 71. The genealogy which Homer makes of the fceptre of Agamemnon, Iliad. 1. 2. v. 46. & 101. is alone fufficient to prove that the crown was hereditary among the Greeks: but this fact is elsewhere established by a number of paffages of the fame poet.
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 alfo 1. 16. v. 96. & Euftath. p. 1464. lin. 25. "See art. 2. & 3.