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Eurysthenes and Procles, the descendants of whom I to many thousands, of various degrees of dignity and
chief of the gods, and the ruler of heaven and earth, Greece had been all along divided into a number of was the son of Saturn, a god who had been compelled independent states, and after the abolition of kingly by a powerful and tyrannical brother, named Titan, to government, several of these were split up into as many promise that he would destroy all his male children. distinct republics as the state contained of towns. This promise Saturn for some time fulfilled by devouring These divisions of the country, and the obstacles which his sons as soon as they were born; but at last Rhea, the almost incessant wars interposed to a free commu- his wife, contrived to conceal the birth of Jupiter, nication between the inhabitants of the different dis- | Neptune, and Pluto, who thus escaped the fate of their tricts, necessarily prevented the advancement of the brethren. On discovering that Saturn had male offspring Greeks in knowledge and civilisation; but fortunately, alive in contravention of his engagement, Titan deposed a king of Elis, named Iphitus, at length devised an him from his authority, and cast him into prison. But institution by which the people of all the Grecian Jupiter, having grown up to manhood, overcame Titan states were enabled, notwithstanding their quarrels in turn, and restored Saturn to his throne. These and wars with one another, to meet periodically on vicissitudes, it is to be observed, and others that befell friendly terms, and communicate to each other such the early divinities, were the result of the decrees of information as might be useful for the improvement Fate; a power over which the heathen gods are repreand welfare of the whole.
sented as having had no control. This institution was the Olympic Festival. From a Notwithstanding this filial conduct of Jupiter, he very remote period, the Greeks had been accustomed to afterwards quarrelled with his father, whom he deengage in contests of strength and agility during their throned and chased into Italy, where Saturn is said to times of festivity, and also at the funerals of distin- have passed his time in a quiet and useful manner, guished personages. Iphitus conceived the idea of occupied solely in teaching the rude inhabitants to culestablishing a periodical festival in his own dominions tivate and improve the soil. He was afterwards known for the celebration of these ancient games, and of re- (under the name of Chronos) as the god of Time, and ligious rites in honour of Jupiter and Hercules; and was usually represented under the figure of an old having obtained the authority of the Delphian oracle man, holding in one hand a scythe, and in the other a for carrying his design into execution, he instituted serpent with its tail in its mouth, in allusion to the the festival, and appointed that it should be repeated destructive influence of time, and the endless succesevery fourth year at Olympia, a town of Elis.
sion of the seasons. The rule of Saturn in Italy was To this festival he invited all the people of Greece; productive of so much happiness, that the period ever and that none might be prevented from attending it afterwards was called the Golden Age. by the wars in which any of the states might be en- After Saturn had been driven into exile, his three gaged, the Delphic oracle commanded that a general sons divided his dominions amongst them. Jupiter armistice should take place for some time before and reserved to himself the sovereignty of the heavens and after each celebration. The date of the establishment the earth, Neptune obtained the empire of the sea, and of the Olympic Games (884 B.C.) was afterwards as- Pluto received as his share the sceptre of the infernal sumed by the Greeks as the epoch from which they regions. Jupiter did not, however, enjoy unmolested reckoned the progress of time, the four years inter- his supreme dignity, for the offspring of Titan, a race vening between each recurrence of the festival being of terrible giants, set the new deity at defiance, and styled an Olympiad.
by piling the mountains named Pelion and Ossa on the Three other institutions of a similar nature were top of one another, endeavoured to ascend into heaven, afterwards established-namely, the Isthmian Games, to pluck him from his throne. The gods, in great celebrated near Corinth; the Pythian, at Delphi; and alarm, fled from their divine abode on Mount Olympus the Neméan, in Argolis. These took place on the into Egypt, where they concealed their true character various years which intervened between the successive by assuming the forms of various animals; but Jupiter, festivals at Olympia; but although they acquired con- assisted by Hercules, at last succeeded in destroying siderable celebrity, none of them rose to the importance the giants, and reasserting his sovereign sway. Jupiter and splendour of that of Iphitus. The games which is always represented on a throne with thunderbolts in were celebrated at the festivals consisted of foot and his right hand, and an eagle by his side. chariot races, wrestling and boxing matches, and other Jupiter took in marriage his sister Juno, who is decontests requiring strength and agility, together with scribed as a beautiful but ill-tempered goddess, and competitions in poetry and music. The victors were is usually depicted as seated in a chariot drawn by two crowned with an olive wreath; an honour which it was peacocks. Neptune, the brother of Jupiter, and god of esteemed by the Greeks one of the highest objects of the ocean, is painted as a half-naked man, of majestic ambition to attain.
figure, with a crown on his head, and a trident or three
pronged fork in his hand, drawn in a car over the sea Mythology and Religious Rites.
by water horses. Pluto, the remaining brother of JuThe religious beliefs and observances of the Greeks, piter, and god of the infernal regions, was painted as constituting their mythology, are intimately connected seated on a throne, with his wife Proserpine by his side, with the fabulous and poetical portion of their history and the three-headed dog Cerberus before him. It has already been stated that Uranus, his son Saturn, Nine of the most important of the deities were conand his grandsons Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, appear sidered as the children of Jupiter. Apollo was the to have been the chiefs of a colony of Egyptians who god of music, poetry, painting, and medicine; he is settled in Greece at an exceedingly remote period, and represented as a young man, of great elegance of person, that after their death their ignorant posterity came in with a bow in his hand, and a quiver of arrows at his course of tiine to regard them as gods, and to pay them back. Mars, the god of war, is drawn ag an armed divine honours accordingly. Some, however, are dis- man in a car, with an inferior female deity, named posed to think that the Greeks borrowed their notions Bellona, by his side. Bacchus was the god of wine, and respecting these and several others of their deities from was usually represented as a young man with a cup Egypt and Phænicia, where they had been worshipped in one hand, and a spear called a thyrsus in the other. long before their introduction into Greece by the colo- His name has given rise to many phrases in our nies from these countries. But whether this was really language expressive of circumstances connected with the case or not, it is certain that the Greeks greatly drinking. Mercury was the messenger of Jupiter, and embellished the history, and augmented the number, of the god of oratory, of merchandise, and of thieving. their fabulous divinities, so that at last they amounted | He was represented as a youth flying along the air, with wings at his cap and heels, and a peculiar wand | dained that Proserpine should divide her time between alled a caduceus in his hand. Minerva, the goddess her mother and her husband, residing six months with of wisdom, was painted as a female of severe aspect, each alternately. amed on the head and breast, and bearing a spear Astræa was the goddess of justice, and during the and shield, while an owl sits by her side. Venus, the Golden Age, when men were virtuous and happy, she gnidess of beauty and love, was depicted as a handsome dwelt, like many other deities, on earth; but after the woman, in undress. Diana, the goddess of hunting and world became wicked, she bade it a sorrowful farewell, of chastity, appeared as a beautiful female, with bow and ascending to heaven, was transformed into the sign and arrow in her hands, buskins on her limbs, and a of the zodiac which is named Virgo, or the Virgin. crescent on her forehead. Hebé, the goddess of youth, Themis was the goddess of law, and after the departure took the form of a blooming young girl, and was said of Astræa, she had also to sustain, as well as she was to bear the cup of Jupiter.
able, the character of the goddess of justice. We see Another of the children of Jupiter was Vulcan, who in this, as in some other of these mythic fables, no employed himself as an artificer in iron, and hence small degree of meaning. he has been assumed as the patron of blacksmiths. Inexorable destiny, which governs all things, was Jupiter is said to have employed him in fabricating personified by three sisters called the Fates, who reprebis thunderbolts. The workshop of Vulcan was be- sented the Past, the Present, and the Future. They lieved to be underneath the burning mountain Etna, were poetically described as constantly employed in in Sicily; and the modern term volcano is derived from spinning the thread of human life. One held the that circumstance.
distaff, another span, and the third cut the thread when Besides the other attributes and avocations of Apollo, it had reached its appointed length, To the decrees of he was the deity of the sun, having the task confided these stern sisters even Jupiter himself was obliged to to him of guiding that luminary in its diurnal course bend, and his thunders, which affrighted all the other through the heavens. His sister Diana had a similar divinities, were heard by them undisturbed. charge orer the moon. Apollo, or Phoebus, as he was The Furies were also three in number, and to them also named, had a son called Phaethon, who, being, like belonged the task of punishing the guilty both on earth many other young people, self-confident and rash, took and in hell. Instead of hair, their heads were covered advantage of the indulgent disposition of his father to with twining serpents, and their looks were fierce and ektain from him the charge of the chariot of the sun for terrible. Each of the sister Furies waved a blazing ee day. But Phaethon had not travelled far on his torch in the one hand, while the other wielded a plaited jaumey up the heavens, when his fiery steeds became scourge. The latter instrument inflicted remorseless umanageable
, and running away with the sun, they punishment on those who had incurred the anger of descended so close to the earth, that that body was set the gods. Wars, famine, and pestilence the penalty on fre. Jupiter perceived what had happened, and of vice and crime-proceeded from these dread sisters, fearing that the universe might be consumed, he struck and Grief, Terror, and Madness were painted as their Phaethon dead with a thunderbolt; then, after a good inseparable followers. deal of trouble, he extinguished the conflagration, and These avengers of guilt form a striking contrast to bet the sun once more on its usual course.
another sisterly trio, to whom the ancients gave the None of the heathen deities is more frequently re- name of the Graces. The Graces were named Aglaia, ferred to than Cupid, the god of love. He was the son Thalia, and Euphrosyné, 'and their aspect and attrisi Venus, and bore the aspect of a beautiful boy. He butes corresponded with the common name they bore. had a pair of wings, and was furnished with a bow and They were the daughters of young Bacchus and Venus, & quirer of arrows, which he shot into the hearts of and were usually represented as unattired, and linked those whom he wished to inflame with the tender in each other's arms. pasion over which he had control.
The nine Muses were named Thalia, Melpomené, There was a number of divinities of minor impor- Calliopé, Clio, Erato, Euterpé, Polyhymnia, Terpsitance. Hymen was the god of marriage, and was re- choré, and Urania. They were the patronesses of presented with a crown of flowers on his head and a literature and the fine arts, and resided on Parnassus, lighted torch in his hand. Æolus was the god of the a lofty mountain in the district of Phocis. Thalia winds, which he kept confined in caverns, except at presided over comedy; Melpomene over tragedy; such times as he chose to let them loose upon the world. Erato over amatory poetry; Polyhymnia over lyric Pan was the god of the country. He was horned, and poetry; Calliope over heroic or epic poetry and elohad legs
, feet, and a tail resembling those of a goat. quence; Clio over history; Euterpe over music; TerpHis favourite haunt was the vales of Arcadia, where sichore over dancing; and Urania over the studies of Le attracted the shepherds around him in admiration astronomy and astrology. by the sweet sounds of his rustic pipe.
There was a class of demi-gods, who filled imaginary Ceres was the goddess of agriculture, and had a places in every corner both of earth and sea. The shady beautiful daughter named Proserpine, who was carried groves and flowery vales were peopled by Dryads or off by Pluto while she was gathering flowers on the wood-nymphs, and Satyrs, a species of rural deities, plains of Sicily, and installed as the queen of the infernal who, like Pan, had the horns, legs, and feet of a goat? tezions. Ceres
, in despair at the loss of her daughter, Mountains and streams possessed their guardian gods and uncertain as to her fate, lighted a torch at Mount and goddesses, and every fountain had its Naiad or Etna, and sought for her over the whole earth. In the water-nymph. In short, whatever sound or sight in course of her wanderings she arrived in Attica, and find nature charmed their fancy, the Greeks ascribed the ing its inhabitants ignorant of husbandry, furnished pleasure to the agency of unseen, but beautiful and them with grain, and taught them how to cultivate immortal beings. Physical beauty was, nevertheless, their fields. She at the same time instituted the secret much more prominent than moral in the divinities religious ceremonies at Eleusis, which were afterwards shaped out by the imagination of the Greeks. Their known by the name of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Ceres gods were represented as mingling in the affairs of then continued her search for her daughter, and at mortals, and frequently lending their superior power length obtained information of what had happened and intelligence to the promotion of schemes of vico to her. She immediately ascended to heaven and de- and villany. They were animated by envy, malice, manded redress from Jupiter, who promised to compel and all the evil passions to which men are subject, and Plato to restore Proserpine, provided she had eaten they did not hesitate to adopt any measures, however nothing since her descent into hell. On inquiry, it was base, to gratify their nefarious purposes. dscertained that she had eaten some pomegranates,
Yet, strange as it may seem, most of the Greeks so that her return to the upper world was, according to appear to have been impressed with sincere religious the laws of the infernal regions, impracticable. But feelings, and believed in a future state of rewards and Jupiter , compassionating her disconsolate parent, or- 1 punishments
. They imagined that, after death, the
souls of men descended to the shores of a dismal and of these, was that of Dodona in Epirus. Near that pestilential stream called the Styx, where Charon, a place there was a grove of oaks, which, according to the grim-looking personage, acted as ferryman, and rowed superstitious belief of the ancients, chanted the message the spirits of the dead across the melancholy river, the of Jupiter to devout inquirers. Black pigeons were boundary of the dominions of Pluto. To obtain a pas also said to frequent this grove, and to give oracular sage in Charon's boat, it was necessary that the de responses. The oracle at Dodona is believed to have ceased should have been buried. Those who were owed its origin to an artful woman, who had been drowned at sea, or who were in any other manner de stolen from a temple of Jupiter in Egypt, and sold as prived of the customary rites of sepulture, were com- a slave in
pirus. To escape from the evils of her depelled to wander about on the banks of the Styx for a graded condition, she resolved to work upon the ignohundred years before being permitted to cross it. rance and credulity of those among whom she had
After quitting the vessel of Charon, the trembling been brought; and stationing herself in the grove of shades advanced to the palace of Pluto, the gate of oaks, which afterwards became so famous, she gave out which was guarded by a monstrous dog, named Cer- that she was inspired by Jupiter, and could foretell berus, which had three heads, and a body covered with future events. The scheme succeeded, and she soon snakes instead of hair. They then appeared before acquired great repute for her skill in divination ; and Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Acanthus, the three judges after her death, other artful persons were not backward of the infernal regions, by whom the wicked were con- in embracing a profession which was rewarded both demned to torments, and the good rewarded with with profit and respect. heavenly pleasures.
But by far the most celebrated of the Grecian oracles Tartarus, the place of punishment, was the abode was that of Apollo at Delphi, a city built on the slopes of darkness and horror, There Tantalus, for a vile of Mount Parnassus, in Phocis. At a very remote crime done in life, remained perpetually surrounded period, it had been discovered that from a deep cavern with water, which fled from his lips whenever he at- in the side of that mountain an intoxicating vapour tempted to quench his burning thirst, while over his issued, the effect of which was so powerful as to throw head hung branches laden with the most inviting into convulsions both men and cattle. The rude inbafruits, which shrunk from his grasp as often as he bitants of the surrounding district, unable to account stretched out his hand to pluck them. There also was for this phenomenon, conceived that it must be proIxion, bound with serpents to the rim of a wheel, duced by supernatural agency, and regarded the inwhich, constantly revolving, allowed no cessation of his coherent ravings of those who had inhaled the noxious agonies. Another variety of punishment was allotted vapour as prophecies uttered under the inspiration of to Sisyphus, who was condemned to the endless task of some god. As the stupifying exhalation ascended out rolling a huge stone up the side of a steep mountain, of the ground, it was at first conjectured that the which he had no sooner accomplished, than it rolled newly-discovered oracle must be that of the very ancient down again to its former place. On on side criminals goddess Earth ; but Neptune was afterwards associated were writhing under the merciless lash of the avenging with this divinity, as an auxiliary agent in the mystery. Furies, and on another were to be seen wretches sur- Finally, the whole credit of the oracle was transferred rounded with unquenchable flames.
to Apollo. A temple was soon built on the hallowed Elysium, the abode of the blessed, was a region of spot, and a priestess, named the Pythoness, was apsurpassing loveliness and pleasure. Groves of the pointed, whose office it was to inhale, at stated interrichest verdure, and streams of silvery clearness, were vals, the prophetic vapour. To enable ber to do so to be met with on every side. The air was pure, serene, without the risk of falling into the cavern, as several and temperate, the birds continually warbled in the persons had previously done, a seat, called a tripod, woods, and a brighter light than that of the sun was from its having three feet, was erected for her accomdiffused throughout that happy land. No cares normodation directly over the mouth of the chasm. sorrow could disturb its inhabitants, who spent their Still, however, the Pythoness held an office which time in the untiring enjoyment of those pleasures they was neither safe nor agreeable. The convulsions into had loved on earth, or in admiring the wisdom and which she was thrown by the unwholesome vapours of power of the gods.
the cavern, were in some instances so violent as to The Greeks were pre-eminently an imaginative peo- cause immediate death, and were at all times so painple, and accordingly both their mythology and their ful, that force was often necessary to bring the official religious rites were calculated rather to amuse the fancy to the prophetic seat. The unconnected words which than to interest the feelings or improve the heart. Their the Pythoness screamed out in her madness were arpublic worship was altogether ceremonial. În magni- ranged into sentences by the attendant priests, who ficent temples they invoked and offered sacrifices to could easily place them in such an order, and fill up the gods, and the solemn festivals of their religion the breaks in such a way, as to make them express consisted of pompous processions, public games, dra- whatever was most suitable to the interests of the matic entertainments, feasting, and masquerading. To shrine, which was the main object. Lest the oracle these were added, in the worship of Bacchus, drunken- should be brought into discredit, care was in general ness, indecency, uproar, and every species of licentious- taken to couch the response in language so obscure and
It was no siness of the priests to inculcate enigmatical, that whatever course events should take lessons of instruction or morality; the only doctrine the prediction might not be falsified, or rather might taught by them was, that the gods demanded slavish appear to be verified. It may be observed that, in the adulation, and an outward show of reverence from course of time, some method of simulating convulsions their worshippers, who would be rewarded with the was most probably adopted by the chief agent in these divine favour in proportion to the abundance and cost- impositions. liness of their offerings.
The fame of the Delphic oracle soon became very Besides the public services of religion, there were extensive, and no enterprise of importance was undercertain secret rites, performed only by the initiated, in taken in any part of Greece, or of its numerous colonies nonour of particular divinities. The most remarkable in the islands and along the coasts of the Ægean and of these mystical observances were the feasts celebrated Mediterranean Seas, without a consultation of the at Eleusis in Attica, in honour of the goddess Ceres. Pythoness. The presents received from those who They were called, by way of eminence, the Mysteries ; resorted to it for counsel, not a few of whom were and all who were initiated in them were bound by the princes, or influential and wealthy leaders, formed a most solemn oaths never to reveal them.
source of great and permanent revenue to the institu. The gods were supposed to communicate with men, tion, and not only afforded the officiating priests a and to reveal the secrets of futurity by means of oracles, comfortable maintenance, but furnished also the means several of which existed in various parts of Greece. of erecting a splendid temple, instead of the rude One of the earliest, and for some time most celebrated | edifice which had been originally constructed.
The high reneration in which the Delphic oracle was during ten months previous at the gymnasium at Elis. held, gave its directors a large share of influence in During the last thirty days, the exercises were perpublic affairs; an influence which they sometimes formed with as much regularity as at the games themexerted in a most commendable manner, in sanction-selves. The festival began in the evening with solemn ing and furthering the schemes of the statesmen, legis- sacrifices, and the games were commenced the next lators, and warriors, who undertook to improve the day at daybreak. These consisted in races on horsepolitical systems, reform the laws and manners, or back and on foot, in leaping, throwing the discus or defend the liberties of Greece. Like the Olympian quoit, wrestling, and boxing ; musical and poetical Festival, it also formed a bond of union among the contests concluded the whole. The honour of having numerous independent communities of Greece, and gained a victory in the Olympic Games was very great; by lending the authority of the gods to measures of it extended from the victor to his country, which was general utility, often repressed petty jealousies and proud of owning him. However rude and boisterous quarrels among the different states, and excited all to were some of the sports of the Olympic Festival, it is study the common welfare.
acknowledged by the best authorities that they were Even when the rest of Greece was vexed by civil attended with manifold advantages to society. It is war, the chosen territory of Apollo was undisturbed sufficient barely to niention the suspension of hostilities, by the din of arms; and the security which it enjoyed which took place not only during the festival, but a on account of its sacred character, caused Delphi to considerable time both before and after it. Considered become a place of deposit for much of the wealth of as a kind of religious ceremony, at which the whole the states. Lest the fear of divine vengeance should Grecian citizens were invited, and even enjoined, to not prove a sufficiently strong consideration to deter assist, it was well adapted to facilitate intercourse, to the warlike communities by which Delphi was sur- promote knowledge, to soften prejudice, and to hasten rounded from plundering a temple in which so much the progress of civilisation and humanity. treasure was accumulated, the sanctuary was placed At the first institution of the Olympic Festival, and under the special protection of a Directory termed the for one or two centuries afterwards, the condition of Amphictyonic Council.
Grecian society was primitive, and almost patriarchal, This council consisted of two deputies from each of but marked by strong features of heroic dignity, and a the principal states of Greece, and its duties were to certain depth and refinement of thought. The attire of effect, by its recommendation and authority, a settle the men was very simple, consisting only of a shirt or ment of all political and religious disputes which close jacket to the body, with a loose robe hanging down might arise between the various communities, and to over the naked limbs, while performers in the public decide upon proposals of peace or war with foreign games were almost naked. The arts, including agricul. nations. The date of its establishment is uncertain, ture, were also little advanced; few persons seemed to but it is supposed to have been in existence as early as have thought of toiling to accumulate wealth; and each the fourteenth or fifteenth century before the Christian community presented, in time of peace, the picture of a era; that is to say, about 200 or 300 years before the large family. That portion of the people constituting war of Troy. Amphictyon, its founder, is asserted by the freemen lived much in public, or in the society of some to have been a king of Attica, and by others to their equals, enjoyed common pleasures and amusehave reigned over not only that district, but the whole ments, and had daily opportunities of displaying their of Greece to the south of Thessaly.
useful talents in the sight of their fellow-citizens. The In the course of the eleventh century before Christ, frequent disputes between individuals occasioned liti. the Greeks began to plant colonies in neighbouring gations and trials, which furnished employment for countries. The first colonists, as usually happens in the eloquence and ability of men in the necessary dethe present day, were dissatisfied citizens, who thought fence of their friends. The numerous games and public they could form happier communities elsewhere. The solemnities opened a continual source of entertainment, Eolians founded twelve cities in Asia Minor, the chief and habituated every man to active physical exercise, of which was Smyrna. The Dorians sent off colonies to and the performance of his duties as a soldier. These Italy and Sicily, founding, in the former, Tarentum were agreeable features in the condition of Grecian and Locri, and in the latter, Agrigentum and Syracuse. society; but there were also some of an opposite chaIn the new settlements, the political system was emi-racter. The people were of an unsettled disposition, nently democratic, and for a long time they enjoyed never satisfied long with any kind of government which great prosperity. This prosperity being ascribed at existed amongst them, and very much disposed to wage home to their popular institutions, had afterwards the war against neighbouring states on the most trifling effect of inciting many of the parent states to change pretences. their monarchical for a democratic form of government. The population of the various states was divided into
three classes-namely, the citizens, the enfranchised poSECOND OR AUTHENTIC PERIOD OF HISTORY.
pulace, and the slaves. All political power, even in the The second and authentic period of Greek history most democratical of the Grecian communities, was poscommences in the year 884 B.C., at the institution of sessed by the first of these classes, while in the oligarchithe Olympic Festival, when the people had begun to cal states, only that small portion of the citizens which emerge from their primitive barbarism. This festival, as constituted the nobility or aristocracy possessed any inalready stated, was instituted by direction of the Del-fluence in the management of public affairs. The mechaphic oracle, by Iphitus, Prince of Elis, for the patriotic nical and agricultural labours necessary for the support purpose of assembling together, in a peaceful manner, and comfort of the whole, were chiefly performed by the persons from all parts of Greece. The festival was inferior class of free inhabitants, who did not enjoy the ordained to take place once every four years, in the privilege of citizenship, and by the slaves, who formed month corresponding to our July, and to last five days, a considerable portion of the population of every state. during which there was to be complete truce, or cessa- These slaves were sprung from the same general or tion from war, throughout the Grecian states. Agree-parent stock, spoke the same language, and professed the ably to the ancient practice at public solemnities, the same religion, as their masters. They were in most festival was celebrated by games and various feats of cases the descendants of persons who had been conpersonal skill, and the whole order of procedure was quered in war, but were in some instances acquired by regulated with extraordinary care. All freemen of purchase. Society being thus based on vicious prinGrecian extraction were invited to contend, provided ciples, it is not wonderful that the Grecian states were they had been born in lawful wedlock, and had lived the scene of constant civil broils. untainted by any infamous moral stain. No women (the priestesses of Ceres excepted) were permitted to
Sparta–Lycurgus. be present. Females who violated this law were thrown At the beginning of this period of Grecian history, our from & rock. The competitors prepared themselvesattention is powerfully attracted by a very remarkable
series of proceedings which took place in Lacedæmon, or Laconia, a country of southern Greece, of which the chief city was Sparta. This city being in a state of in- We now turn to Athens, the capital of Attica, and testine disorder, it was agreed by many of the inhabi- long the principal seat of Grecian learning and refinetants to invite Lycurgus, the son of one of their late ment. Athens is said to have been founded by Cecrops, kings, to undertake the important task of preparing a 1550 B.C., and in the most ancient times was called new constitution for his country. Fortified with the Cecropia. It probably received the name of Athens sanction of the Delphic oracle, he commenced this dif- from the goddess Minerva, who was called also Athens ficult duty, not only settling the form of government, by the Greeks, and to whom an elegant temple had been but reforming the social institutions and manners of erected in the city. The old city spread from the mount the people. The government he established consisted of the Acropolis over a wide and pleasant vale or low of two joint kings, with a limited prerogative, and who peninsula, formed by the junction of the Cephesus and acted as presidents of a senate of twenty-eight aged llissus. Its distance from the sea-coast was about five men. The functions of the senate were deliberative as miles. In the course of time Athens became populous well as executive, but no law could be passed without and surpassingly elegant in its architecture, while its receiving the consent of the assembled citizens. The citizens contrived to take a lead in the affairs of the most remarkable of the arrangements of Lycurgus was communities around. At first they were governed by his attempt to abolish difference of rank, and even dif- kings, but, as in the case of the Spartan citizens, they ference of circumstances, among the people. He re- became dissatisfied with their existing constitution, and solved on the bold measure of an equal division of about the year 600 B.c. invited Solon, one of the wisest lands, and actually parcelled out the Laconian territory men in Greece, to reorganise their political constitution. into 39,000 lots, one of which was given to each citizen Solon obeyed the summons, and constituted the governof Sparta, or free inhabitant of Laconia. Each of these ment on a broad republican basis, with a council of lots was of such a size as barely sufficed to supply the state, forming a judicial court, consisting of 400 memwants of a single family-for Lycurgus was determined bers, and called the Areopagus. This court of Areothat no person should be placed in such circumstances pagus, besides its other duties, exercised a censorship as would permit of luxurious living.
over public morals, and was empowered to punish Lycurgus carried into effect a number of other vision- impiety, profligacy, and even idleness. To this court ary projects : he abolished the use of money, with the every citizen was bound to make an annual statement hope of preventing undue accumulation of wealth; pro- of his income, and the sources from which it was derived. hibited foreigners from entering the country, and the The court was long regarded with very great respect, natives from going abroad, in order to preserve simpli- and the right was accorded to it of not only revising the city of manners among the people; directed that all sentences pronounced by the other criminal tribunals, men, without distinction of rank or age, should eat daily but even of annulling the judicial decrees of the general together at public tables, which were furnished with assembly of the people. The regulations of Solon were the plainest food; and finally, ordained that all the not maintained for any great length of time, although children who were born, and seemed likely to be strong, the republican form of government, in one shape or should be reared by public nurses, under a rigid system other, continued as long as the country maintained its of privation and personal activity, while the weak in- independence. Clesthenes, the leader of a party, enfants should be thrown out to the fields to perish. The larged the democractic principle in the state; he introcitizens, when they had attained the age of manhood, duced the practice of ostracism, by which any person were engaged in martial exercises, all labour being left might be banished for ten years, without being accused to the slaves, or helots, as they were termed; and in of any crime, if the Athenians apprehended that he short, the whole nation was but a camp of soldiers, and had acquired too much influence, or harboured designs war was reckoned the only legitimate profession. These against the public liberty. Ostracism was so called, laws were in some measure suited to the rude condition because the citizens, in voting for its infliction, wrote of the Spartans, but, as being opposed to some of the the name of the obnoxious individual upon a sheil best and strongest principles in human nature, they (ostreon). It is said that Clesthenes was the could not possibly endure, and there is reason to be victim of his own law, as has happened in several other lieve that some of them were not strictly enforced. It remarkable cases, ancient and modern. is not unusual to see historians use the term Spartan For a period of about two centuries after the settlevirtue with a certain degree of admiration of its quality; ment of a republican constitution, there is little of but the Spartans had, in reality, no moral dignity, cer- importance to relate in Athenian history. Athens was tainly no benevolence, in their virtue, either public or gradually enlarged, the taste for refinement increased, private. They were a small confederacy of well-trained and various men of sagacious understanding, entitled soldiers; and merely as such, deserve no mark of our Philosophers, began to devote themselves to inquiries respect or esteem. The manner in which they used into the nature of the human mind and the character their helots was at once barbarous and cruel. The of the Deity. The principal Grecian philosopher who murder of a serf by a free citizen was not punishable by flourished in this era (550 B.c.) was Pythagoras, a man law; nay, it was even allowable for the young Spartans of pure and exalted ideas, and an able expounder of to lie in wait, as a kind of sport, for any good-looking the science of mind. or saucy-looking slave, and stab him to the heart on the highway. It is certain that at one time, when the helots had stood their masters in good stead in battle, The year 490 B.C. closes the gradually-improring they were desired, by way of reward, to choose out 2000 period in Grecian history, or second period, as it has of their best men, that they might receive their free- been termed; and now commenced an era marked by dom, and be enrolled as Spartans, and that these 2000 the important event of an invasion from a powerful men were all silently murdered soon after. At another Asiatic sovereign. time, when danger was apprehended from the growing nuinbers and petty wealth of the boors, the senate enacted the farce of declaring war against them, and Darius, king of Persia, having imagined the possi. coolly murdered many thousands, in order to thin their bility of conquering Greece, sent an immense army numbers and break their spirit. Had there been any against it in the year just mentioned. Greatly alarmed redeeming trait in the Spartan character to compensate at the approach of such an enemy, the Athenians for such barbarity, one would have wondered less at applied to the Spartans for aid ; but that people the respect which is sometimes paid them; but their had a superstition which prohibited their taking the military fame only adds another instance to the many field before the moon was at the full, and as at the already on record, that the most ignorant and savage time of the application it still wanted five days of tribes make the most dogged soldiers.
that period, they therefore delayed the march of their
TILIRD PERIOD OF HISTORY.