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men, remembering his peaceful toils and benevolent deeds, declared he was the son of Apollo, the lord of light and life upon the earth. Still another degree of heroism is portrayed under the name of AEacus, the king of Ægina, who was designated by the oracle of Delphi, in a season of dreadful drought, as the only man whose supplications could avert the punishment which the crimes of his countrymen deserved.” AEacus prayed, and the drought was arrested. While the nation rejoiced over their relief, the king built a temple to the Grecian Jupiter on the mountain where it was said he had stood to pray;" and when he died, he was himself venerated as the son of the god to whom his temple had been reared.” Such was the piety of AEacus and of his times. The island of a hundred cities,” as Crete was called of old, was inhabited by various barbarian tribes. Warriors or pirates, according to their position on the coast or in the interior, they were so much divided, not only from one another, but amongst themselves, that violence and hostility were habitual with all. It was over one or several of these rude and severed races that Minos of Cnossus obtained rule by overthrowing his brother,” and then by conquests on sea and shore.” His renown as a hero, in after times, proceeded chiefly from his dominion over the Grecian seas,” and from the check he was thus enabled to put on the piracies and murderous expeditions that had become so frequent, not only from Crete, but from many other points, as to render it necessary to build towns far from the coasts,” on which there was no safety against marauding strangers. As a king, the fame of Minos was equally brilliant; he was the first to reform the wanton customs of the Cretans in their relations to one another; the first to encourage colonization and civilized commerce;” above all, the first to give his subjects some simple laws,” of which it would be vain to seek even the outlines. So much, however, was not supposed to be done by means of human authority alone; and they who regarded Minos as having been the hero of order amongst their ancestors, declared he must have been the son, or, at least, the friend of Jupiter.” Contemporary with Minos, his rival, indeed, and conqueror,” was Theseus of Athens. He was described, not as having had pretensions to divinity of race or knowledge, but as having trusted in himself and in the designs whose execution may safely be pronounced to have been the beginning of Athenian glory. We need not here recall him as the imitator of Hercules, the victor of the Amazons, or even as the deliverer of his country from shameful tribute to Crete, but simply mention the heroism, uncertainly as it is ascribed to him, of having founded the commonalty of Athens. It is with great doubt that any details of this “marvellous great enterprise,” as the wondering Plutarch described it, after an interval of thirteen centuries, are now to be accepted; but the account” we have, though it be ever so unreal in many particulars, is sufficiently trustworthy to illustrate the union which was, at some time or other, accomplished amongst the Athenians. Each town of Attica once had its Prytaneum, or tribunal where justice was administered, and the assemblies or festivals of the neighbouring inhabitants were held. It was the civil, just as the temple was the religious, sanctuary; and so long as one remained to every different settlement, the division of Attica was irremediable, in consequence, not only of independent, but of conflicting interests. It would have been more consonant with the old royalties of Greece, that a separate king should have ruled in every community, than that there should have been to each a body of warriors or of husbandmen in possession of authority. This, however, is past finding out; nor is it easier to gather whether Theseus went about, as is narrated, in the guise of a suppliant, or armed himself, as is probable, to bring his subjects to reason; these things are no more to be told than the hue of his hair or the tone of his voice can be described. One single tribunal was finally established in Athens, and the divisions of the Athenians were no longer local, but only those of individuals or classes in general: as Plutarch relates, they were nobles, husbandmen, and artisans.” All this, however, is but a dream” of the freedom for which Athens was afterwards illustrious, that Theseus had inspired his subjects to behold. One reason for believing Theseus to have been the hero of a great revolution consists in the multiplied traditions concerning the fate which befell him. The victory, it seems, was fatal to the victor, and Theseus, unable to resist the ingratitude and the force which were brought against him, went into exile, with many curses, it was said,” upon the Athenians. The heroism of his life was thus both requited with wrong and crowned with passion and despair; but when, long after, his bones, or some supposed to be his, were discovered in the island where he died, they 30 Plut., Thes, 25. The Greek be considered enfranchised. The names of the three classes are these: husbandmen may have been the Eëtarpiðat, Teoplápot, Amutovpyol, small landholders.
17 Diod. Sic, IV. 61. 20 Iliad, II. 649. 18 Mount Panhellenius, now Oros, 21 Herod., I. 173. Minos was of AEgina. Pausan., II. 30. of the third generation before the
19 He was made one of the three Trojan war. Ibid., VII. 171. judges in Hades.
“Judicantem widimus AEacum.”
22 Herod., I. 171.
23 Aristot., Pol., II. 7. 2. Herod., III. 122.
24 Thucyd., I. 7.
25 Ibid., I. 4.
26 Tacit., Ann., III. 26. So Ubbo Emmius, in his treatise “Respublicae Graecorum,” styles Minos the legislator rex. Cap. III.
Tacitus, born near the beginning of Nero's reign, about A. D. 60, is
generally considered as the greatest
following that of Minos, before the good old biographer; and in the
Trojan War. Clinton, Fast. Hell., history of Thucydides, II. 15. Pau
Wol. I. p. 64, note 7. sanias (I. 3. 2) confesses to the ex* In the Life of Theseus by the aggerations concerning the hero.
If the artisans mean the strangers or 3. Plut., Thes., 32. ' the slaves, they must not, of course, * Ibid., 35.
were brought back with great joy and buried beneath a tomb, which long continued to be a sanctuary to the oppressed,” in memory of the early hero. The spirit of a people, if it have any, is nearly the first and the last chapter in its history. As much the gift of Heaven, in the beginning, as the earth upon which the wall is laid, or the waters upon which the sail is given to the wind, it is the creator and the creature, the actor and the sufferer in all the after existence of the nation into whom it has been originally breathed. The spirit of the Greeks was first embodied in their heroes; and it is for the sake of the substance they contain rather than of the forms they wear, that the legends from Hercules to Theseus have been here repeated. It would be desirable to separate the true from the untruth in them, so much, at least, as to know what was done and what was believed by the minstrel or the story-teller to have been done; for we should then be sure how far our view was, so to speak, prospective of the nation, to which the heroes were but the pioneers. Greece, as we have now sufficiently observed, was full of different interests, for ever contending and for ever changing. The mountains were not impassable; but the people of one town were unable to behold the walls of another, unless they left the valley or the nook in which they nestled by themselves. Sometimes nearer neighbours would unite for the sake of
33 Plut., Thes, 36. WOL. I. 16