Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

these three were the only divisions known in the time of Ulysses, it appears that the boundaries of birth and of employment were not so rigorously defined as to be oppressive. The truth is, that the heroes were as little cultivated in intellectual tastes, though generally freed from manual occupations, as most of the men by whom they were admired or obeyed; and if they employed themselves in the same labors that their inferiors habitually pursued, on the other hand, the common classes would sometimes engage in the adventures and the exploits by which the renown of the heroes was acquired. In this respect, the narrowness of the ancient states in territory and population would very greatly contribute to the increase of individual energy and general union. Each man was important to the whole body, while there were but few in all; and between fellowtownsmen or near neighbours a spirit of kindliness and concord would gradually be formed, in preparation for the law and the freedom not yet appeared. The concentration of a people, like that of Attica,” into a single city was followed by more important consequences than Theseus or any hero could have foreseen. The country and the town folk would be instantly benefited by the change which opened larger markets and established wider festivals; but as year succeeded to year, the collected and the strengthened people would be continually fitter" for the laws that were yet to be brought them by Lycurgus and Solon. The religion of the heroes was in all important points the religion of their posterity. More cheerful and more social, as it is commonly described, than almost any other forms which heathenism assumed, it was too much the creation of men according to their own image to be in any wise spiritual. The race of gods and of men was everywhere believed to be but one.” The same clouds which covered men with shade or rain were believed to encompass the immortals of Olympus; the same sensations, the same delights, and the same sufferings which belonged to the human were attributed to the divine nature; and the will of Jupiter was nearly as much exposed to be thwarted or controlled as the desires of the humblest mortal who knelt before his altars upon earth. If the character of gods like these were unable to fill their worshippers with terror, it was equally unsuited to the purposes of hope and of consolation. In the manner of worship there was more to satisfy the souls that had not yet dreamed of Heaven in its joy. The priest was one of the people; always, indeed, of the higher class, but still as much a mortal as any of those who joined his ceremonies or celebra47 The distinction between town 48 “Ev dvěpáv, tv 6eóv yivos. and country, so far as political im- Pind., Nem., VI. So Hesiod, provement was concerned, is drawn Works and Days, 108 et seq.

40 “On trouve les traces d'une avoir été générale parmi les anciens semblable révolution chez les Arca- Grecs.” Ste. Croix, Gouv. Fédéradiens [Paus., Cor., 15] et les Argiens tifs, p. 11. [Id., Attic., I. 2). Elle parait méme

in Müller's Dorians, Vol. II. pp. 70 –74, Eng. trans.

WOL. I. 17

tions. These were all magnificent and tumultuous, exhilarating the eye and the ear, at least, with sounds of poesy and music, and scenes of splendor and applause.” Even the mysteries, so called, though sometimes regarded as impositions, and sometimes as merely traditional ceremonies, seem to have been introduced in order to lighten the gloom yet fearful to those of more anxious thoughts or more desponding prospects. This withdrawal of the veil from the services, if not from the truths, of religion was ordered in mercy, such as the Greek, however, of early or of later times, was not permitted to comprehend. The forms which were seen to people his heaven did not immediately dissuade him from his devotions. But in proportion as his love of beauty was deepened and his search for truth extended, the wants which he of the true heart would feel to be unsatisfied from on high were the incentives, at first, to greater courage” and then to wider skepticism in inquiry." With courage, he would be borne on, like Socrates, to powers exceeding the limits of all ancient liberty; with skepticism, he would be reduced, like the contemporaries of Cicero, to the weakness and the humility which were required of mankind before the star arose over Bethlehem.

49 See the account which Xeno- 51 See the sketch which Warburphon gives of the sacrifices. Ath. ton gives of the “attacks of curious Resp., II. 9. 10. and inquisitive men’’ to which re50 Of which there is a remarka- ligion was exposed. Div. Leg. of ble instance in the story which He- Moses, Book III. sect. 6. rodotus relates concerning Aristodicus and the oracle at Branchidae. I. 159.

SECTION III.

THE AGE OF LAWS.

THE union of the heroes before Troy, too fragile to outlast the city for whose destruction alone they were combined, was followed by wanderings, changes, and conflicts. The time of nationality in Greece had not yet arrived; and the confusion, in which the age of the heroes began, recurred at its termination, as if to conceal the earlier before the later forms of history were disclosed. Some definite motives for future progress begin, however, to be slowly evolved. The cities increase in size and in resources; they have their traders as well as their laborers, their minstrels as well as their warriors; and the festivities of one town around the newly built temple, or on the ground hallowed of ancient days, are joined by crowds from other towns, whom the same games interest, or to whom the same sacrifices are sacred duties. Beyond the shores the sea stretches wider than of yore; it tempts the weary to migration and the restless to adventure, until its waves are spread with people rather than with single mariners. This growing enterprise abroad, and this larger life at home, were the preparations for the laws with which the Greece of old was allowed to put on its earthly immortality.

The chief interest of any history or any account of Greece will always centre in Sparta and Athens. It is vain to say that there were many other important cities from which the cultivation and the energy of the nation, in some part, issued; the two are still prečminent in the elements described at the beginning of this chapter, as composing the character of the people and of the land. Both were continually at war; but Sparta is more distinctly marked by separation and contention, as the principles it was appointed to sustain. Both were long susceptible of desires, apparently sincere, to pursue the duties they acknowledged; but Athens is far the more distinguished for the love of beauty in its highest physical or merely intellectual forms. It is not necessary to insist upon the common distinction between the Ionic and the Doric races; for Sparta was not altogether the Doric, nor was Athens decidedly the Ionic city of Greece;” but the solemnity and the obstinacy of the Dorians reigned in Sparta, as much as the impatience and the mirthfulness of the Ionians prevailed in Athens. They may rather be regarded here as the countries of Lycurgus and Solon, through whose laws the liberty of the people was promoted, and in whose laws the character of the people is to be here described.

In a hollow valley and on the banks of a stream

52 “The old Attic was not so widely removed from the Doric as

Engl. transl., p. 115.
Athens.
143.

So much for
Cf., moreover, Herod., I.

is generally represented by those who adopt the usual formula of Ionism. And by the time the Athenian character had become Ionic, the Doric had lost its pristine virtues, and had approached half way to meet it ’’ Hase's Ancient Greeks,

As for the Spartans, Mr. Grote remarks, that “the Lycurgean constitution impressed upon them a peculiar tendency which took them out of the general march” of the Dorians. Hist. Greece, Part II. ch. 6.

« НазадПродовжити »