Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

long been lost, if they had ever been received; but it was not for man, even with the aid of God, to restore the dead to life, or to begin a new creation. Four centuries before the Saviour, when freedom seemed, perhaps, to have reached its highest development, the promise was made, as we read it, through Socrates, that there was to be a completer freedom granted when human powers should be increased and human virtues purified. He was slain, even though his message was but half delivered, and noways comprehended, when he died. Later in our history, we shall meet with his successors; but they scarcely belong to the liberty of Greece, except that they owed their intelligence to the energy and the achievements of preceding generations. The history of philosophy is important to the history of freedom, only so far as the theories of which the one is composed coincide with the actions of the other. We hear some fuller sounds, indeed, through the silence of the following centuries; but the ears that heard them in their time found little comfort in their tones. There was no other Socrates” to learn, much less to show, the truth, so far as it can be attained through liberty alone. His own scholars seemed to forget what he had taught them; Plato would not believe it fit to speak of the deity, towards whom he aspired, before common men;* and Aristotle denied the possibility of persuading the multitude to be virtuous.* Schools were still opened; but there were few, comparatively speaking, whom they received,” fewer still whom they actually informed. Doctrines of one class and another were still propounded; sciences of various kinds were still pursued; but, except in the exact, the mathematical or the physical branches,” there was

24l “We find but one Socrates 242 Plat., Timaeus, p. 114, ed. amongst them,” the Athenians. Stallbaum. Cf. Lactant., De Ira, Locke, Reasonableness of Christian- 11. ity, Vol. VII. Works, p. 136.

no sap to flow, no foliage to endue.

The earth was

waiting for knowledge from Heaven.” There remains now nothing that cannot be more rapidly related, within the half or three quarters of

a century succeeding to the death of Socrates.

It is

not necessary to raise our voices or multiply our epithets to describe the offences through which the laws and the liberties of Greece were brought to shame. One kind of evil might infest an oligarchy, as at Sparta, and another kind prey upon a democracy, as at Athens; but there are more general errors to be charged upon the characteristics of the whole nation, as long ago described. The ideality and the rivalry that had hurried state after state, through peace and

243 Arist., Eth. Nic., X. 10, ed. Bekker. Toys & troA\oys ačvvaretv mpos kaxokáyaëlav trporpéWraoréat.

944 See the account of Aristotle's work, and the remonstrance of Alexander against its being addressed to common people. Plut., Alex., 7.

245 In the mention of which there ought to be included an allusion, at least, to the scholars of Alexandria under the Ptolemies.

246 “I have a desire,” writes Hans Christian Andersen, in Greece, “to express the idea that the godlike was here on earth to maintain its contest, that it is thrust backwards, and yet advances again victoriously through all ages.” Story of My Life.

war, to the acme each was able to attain, still drove them down the other side to the effeminacy and the dissension in which they were sure to find their ruin. The Thirty Tyrants were driven out of Athens by the heroic enterprise of Thrasybulus, and the laws of Solon were, the same year, nominally restored, under Euclides, the Archon.” But Socrates was condemned within the next four years. The license of the multitude was at its height in the reaction ensuing upon the servitude and terror from which they had been delivered by leaders whose surrender of Socrates was so much a greater shame than any glory they could have won, that the government of the orator, the satirist, or the buffoon, who presently reigned on the stage or in the assembly, was but precipitated.* Aristophanes, with all his amazing genius, is only the mouthpiece of his contemporaries; sensitive as they to the love of country inborn in every Athenian, but, like them, insolent where he might have better been reverential, as he was ruthless where it became him to be anxious and compassionate.” ' Without the limits of Greece, the Ten Thousand retreated from Cunaxa, under Xenophon, whose 947 A. C. 403. Plut., Aris., 1. sage-seller, in the “Knights” (141 248. As for the assembly itself, et seq.), the abuse of Euripides in see Xen., Hell., I. 7. 12, referring the “Frogs,” and of Socrates in to a still earlier date. Its pay was the “Clouds.” Compare an essay increased by Agyrrhius in the time by Heyne, Op. Acad., Tom. IV. of Aristophanes. Schömann, As- 23, - “Libertatis et aequalitatis semb. Athen., Ch. W. civilis in Atheniensium republica simple narrative of that extraordinary enterprise wreathed for him bays that faded in the almost heartless atmosphere of the history he wrote concerning the sorrows of his country. Lysander, the conqueror of Athens, though worshipped for a time at altars as if divine,” was losing his renown before the rising energies of the king Agesilaus, in whose campaigns in Asia, against the Persians, the old simplicity and vigor of Sparta appeared to be renewed. He was recalled on account of the peril with which his state was threatened by the league formed against it between Athens, Boeotia, Corinth, Argos, and Thessaly;” and for several years, the strength of Greece was again wasted in unnatural contests, whose fatalness was comprehended by the same Agesilaus, when he lamented a Spartan victory as having deprived Greece of too many children.” The peace with Persia, of Antalcidas, as it was called, after its Spartan negotiator, was welcome to all the parties to it in Greece, although it left their brethren in Asia at the mercy of the Persian king; many a year having passed and many a generous impulse flown since the Athenians sent over succours, at exceeding hazard, to save the . Ionian cities from the necessity of submission. The symptoms of dissolution were stronger at this period in Sparta than in any other of the Grecian nations. Agesilaus, with all his excellence, had no 250 Plut., Lys., 18. It was said 251 A. C. 394. Diod. Sic., XIV. of him, that two Lysanders could 82. Xen., Hell., III. 5. 1. not be borne. Ibid., 19. The same * Plut., Ages, 16. Cf. Corn.

249 See the conversation between delineatio ex Aristophane.” Demosthenes, Nicias, and the sau

saying was current about Alcibiades. Nep., Ages., 5. Plut., Alc., 17.

WOL. I. 28

dignity to match the authority of the Ephors, upon whom the only possible check was violence or else pretended resignation on the part of the other magistrates or the kings. The few Spartans of unmixed blood who remained were in possession of all the power of the state; and in proportion as their numbers lessened, their severities and oppressions towards the inferior classes seem to have been embittered and multiplied. Lysander himself proposed some changes in the constitution, of which the account is not so clear as to furnish nearly all the information that might have been preserved; the most to be ascertained consisting in his resolution to make the royalty, in which he would then have gained a part, elective.” A much more alarming conspiracy was set on foot by Cinadon, to murder the Ephors and superior Spartans, in order that the conspirators might obtain the justice which was denied them so long as a single class monopolized the resources and honors of the government. The attempt was discovered and its authors punished before its execution could be begun;” but, like the project of Lysander and the policy of Agesilaus, the sedition of Cimadon betrayed the infirmity of institutions on the wane. The strife between state and state continued; and, at the very moment of increasing feebleness, Sparta involved herself in a contest which was, under the circumstances, the most dangerous she had yet sustained. Thebes, long the head of the separate cities of Boeotia, and often engaged in the wars which have

253 Plut., Lys., 24, 25, 31. * Xen., Hell., III. 3. 4 et seq.

« НазадПродовжити »