Imatges de pÓgina

their sense of what was due to the dignity and fame of their city, were ever ready to be evoked for any noble cause. Even at the last, when their energies, too late aroused, had been insufficient to save them, and they lay crushed at the feet of a conqueror, they earned the admiration of posterity by bestowing, instead of displeasure, additional distinctions on the author and adviser of the struggle which had preserved their honour, though not their safety or their freedom.

In every respect Athens deserved the high commendation given her by Pericles in his funeral oration, of being the educator of Greece. * And we cannot better set forth the characteristics of this great commonwealth at its greatest period, than by following Mr. Grote in quoting some passages from that celebrated discourse. +

• We live under a constitution such as noway to envy the laws of our neighbours-ourselves an example to others rather than imitators. It is called a democracy, since its aim tends towards the Many, and not towards the Few; in regard to private matters and disputes the laws deal equally with every one; while in respect to public dig. nity and importance, the position of each is determined, not by class influence, but by worth, according as his reputation stands in his particular department; nor does poverty or obscure station keep him back, if he has any capacity of benefiting the state. And our social march is free, not merely in regard to public affairs, but also in regard to tolerance of each other's diversity of tastes and pursuits. For we are not angry with our neighbour for what he does to please himself, nor do we put on those sour looks, which are offensive, though they do no positive damage. Thus conducting our private social intercourse with reciprocal indulgence, we are restrained from misconduct in public matters by fear and reverence of our magistrates for the time being, and of our laws, especially such laws as are instituted for the protection of the wronged, and such as, though unwritten, are enforced by a common sense of shame. Besides this, we have provided for our minds numerous recreations from toil, partly by our customary solemnities of sacrifice and festival throughout the year, partly by the elegance of our private arrangements, the daily charm of which banishes pain and annoyance. From the magnitude of our city, the products of the whole earth are brought to us, so that our enjoyment of foreign luxuries is as much our own and assured, as of those which we produce at home. In respect to training for war, we differ from our opponents (the Lacedæmonians) on several material points. First, we lay open our city as a common resort ; we apply no xenelasy to exclude any one from any lesson or spectacle,

Την πάσαν πόλιν της Ελλάδος παίδευσιν είναι. (Τhuc. ii. 41.) † Vol. vi. pp. 193–196. We have ventured to change a few expressions in Mr. Grote's translation, in order, though at the expense of smoothness, to bring it closer to the literal meaning of the original. VOL. XCVIII. NO. CC.


for fear lest an enemy should see and profit by it: for we trust less to maneuvres and artifices than to native boldness of spirit for warlike efficiency. Next, in regard to education, while the Lacedæmonians even from their earliest youth subject themselves to an irksome exercise for the attainment of courage, we, with our easy habits of life, are not less prepared than they to encounter all perils within the measure of our strength.

“We combine taste for the beautiful with frugality of life, and cultivate intellectual speculation without being enervated : we employ wealth for the service of our occasions, not for the ostentation of talk; nor is it disgraceful to any one who is poor to confess himself so, though he may be blamed for not actively bestirring himself to get rid of his poverty. Our politicians are not exempted from attending to their private affairs, and our private citizens have a competent knowledge of public matters; for we stand alone in regarding the man who keeps aloof from politics, not as a blameless person, but as a useless one. Far from accounting discussion an impediment to action, we think it an evil not to have been instructed by deliberation before the time for execution arrives. For, in truth, we combine in a remarkable manner boldness in action with full debate beforehand on that which we are going about: whereas with others ignorance alone imparts daring, debate induces hesitation. Assuredly those ought to be regarded as the stoutest of heart, who, knowing most accurately both the terrors of war and the sweets of peace, are still not the less willing to encounter peril.'

This picture, drawn by Pericles and transmitted by Thucydides, of ease of living and freedom from social intolerance, combined with the pleasures of cultivated taste, and a lively interest and energetic participation in public affairs, is one of the most interesting passages in Greek history: placed, as it is, in the speech in which the first of Athenian statesmen professed to show by what practices and by what institutions and manners • the city had become great.' This remarkable testimony, as Mr. Grote has not failed to point out, wholly conflicts, so far as Athens is concerned, with what we are so often told about the entire sacrifice, in the ancient republics, of the liberty of the individual to an imaginary good of the state. In the greatest Greek commonwealth, as described by its most distinguished citizen, the public interest was held of paramount obligation in all things which concerned it; but, with that part of the conduct of individuals which concerned only themselves, public opinion did not interfere: while in the ethical practice of the moderns, this is exactly reversed, and no one is required by opinion to pay any regard to the public, except by conducting his own private concerns in conformity to its expectations. On this vital question of social morals, Mr. Grote's remarks, though belonging to an earlier volume than those which we are review


ing, are too valuable, as well as too much to the purpose, to require any apology for quoting them. (Vol. vi. pp. 200-2.)

• The stress which he (Pericles) lays upon the liberty of thought and action at Athens, not merely from excessive restraint of law, but also from practical intolerance between man and man, and tyranny of the majority over individual dissenters in taste and pursuits, deserves serious notice, and brings out one of those points in the national character upon which the intellectual development of the time mainly depended. The national temper was indulgent in a high degree to all the varieties of positive impulses: the peculiar promptings in every individual bosom were allowed to manifest themselves and bear fruit, without being suppressed by external opinion, or trained into forced conformity with some assumed standard : antipathies against any of them formed no part of the habitual morality of the citizen. While much of the generating causes of human hatred was thus rendered inoperative, and while society was rendered more comfortable, more instructive, and more stimulating, all its germs of productive fruitful genius, so rare everywhere, found in such an atmosphere the maximum of encouragement. Within the limits of the law, assuredly as faithfully observed at Athens as any where in Greece, individual impulse, taste, and even eccentricity, were accepted with indulgence, instead of being a mark as elsewhere for the intolerance of neighbours or of the public. This remarkable feature in Athenian life will help us in a future chapter to explain the striking career of Sokrates; and it farther presents to us, under another face, a great part of that which the censors of Athens denounced under the name of “democratical license.” The liberty and diversity of individual life in that city were offensive to Xenophon, Plato, and Aristotleattached either to the monotonous drill of Sparta, or to some other ideal standard, which, though much better than the Spartan in itself, they were disposed to impress upon society with a heavy-handed uniformity. That liberty of individual action, not merely from the over-restraints of law, but from the tyranny of jealous opinion, such as Perikles depicts in Athens, belongs more naturally to a democracy, where there is no select One or Few to receive worship and set the fashion, than to any other form of government. But it is very rare even in democracies: nor can we dissemble the fact, that none of the governments of modern times, democratical, aristocratical, or monarchical, presents any thing like the picture of generous tolerance towards social dissents, and spontaneity of individual taste, which we read in the speech of the Athenian statesman. In all of them, the intolerance of the national opinion cuts down individual character to one out of a few set types, to which every person, or every family, is constrained to adjust itself, and beyond which all exceptions meet either with hatred or with derision. To impose upon men such restraints, either of law or of opinion, as are requisite for the security and comfort of society, but to encourage rather than repress the free play of individual impulse subject to those limits, is an ideal which, if it was ever approached at Athens, has certainly never been

attained, and has indeed comparatively been little studied or cared for in any modern society.'

The ambitious external policy of Athens is one of the points in Greek history which have been most perversely misjudged and misunderstood. Modern historians seem to have succeeded to the jealous animosity of the Corinthians and other members of the Spartan alliance at the opening of the Peloponnesian war, though by no means at one with them in the reasons they are able to assign for it. The Athenians certainly were not exempt from the passion universal in the ancient world for conquest and dominion. It was a blemish, when judged by the universal standard of right; but as a fact, it was most beneficial to the world, and could not have been other than it was without crippling them in their vocation as the organ of progress. There was scarcely a possibility of permanent improvement for mankind until intellect had first asserted its superiority, even in a military sense, over brute force. With the barbarous part of the species pressing in all round, to crush every early germ of improvement, all would have been lost if there had not also been an instinct in the better and more gifted portions of mankind to push for dominion over the duller and coarser. Besides, in a small but flourishing free community like Athens, ambition was the simple dictate of prudence. No such community could have had any safety for its own freedom but by acquiring power. Instead of reprobating the Athenian maritime empire, the whole of mankind, beginning with the subject states themselves, had cause to lament that it was not much longer continued; for, that the fate of Greek civilisation was bound up with it, is proved by the whole course of this history. When the jealousies of the other Greek states stripped Athens of her empire, and nominally restored the subject allies to an independence which they were wholly incapable of maintaining, Greece lost her sole chance of making successful head against Macedonia or Rome. And considering what the short period of Athenian greatness has done for the world, it is painful to think in how much more advanced a stage human improvement might now have been, if the Athens of Pericles could have lived on in undiminished spirit and energy for but one century more.

The Athenian empire was the purest in its origin of all the empires of antiquity. It was at first a free and cqual confederacy for defence against the Persians, organised by Aristides with a justice worthy of his name. It never would have become anything else, but that the majority of the allies, consisting of the comparatively unwarlike and unenergetic Ionian Greeks,


chose to make their contribution in money instead of personal service, preferring to pay Athens for protecting them, rather than protect themselves. Even the removal of the treasury of the confederacy from Delos to Athens was no act of the Athenians, but of the synod of the confederacy, on the proposition of Samos. When, at a later date, some of the states attempted to secede from the alliance, and enjoy the peace and security which it afforded without sharing in the cost, the general sentiment of the confederates at first went along with Athens in bringing back the recusants by force of arms. But, with these small town communities, to be defeated was to be conquered, and the conquered, by the universal custom of antiquity, received the law from the conqueror. That law, in the case of Athens, was only occasionally either harsh or onerous; yet thus, by degrees, the once equal allies sunk into tributaries. The few who had neither revolted, nor commuted personal service for pecuniary payment, retained their naval and military force and their immunity from tribute, and had nothing to complain of, but that, like the dependencies of England or of any modern nation, they were compelled to join in the wars of the dominant state, without having any voice in deciding them. They do not seem to have alleged any other practical grievances against the Athenian community: their complaints, recorded by Thucydides, turn almost solely upon offence to the Grecian sentiment of city independence and dignity. Under the protection of the powerful Athenian navy, the allied states enjoyed a security never before known in Greece, and which no one of them could possibly have acquired by its own efforts. Many of them grew rich and prosperous. With their internal government Athens, as a general rule, did not interfere ; in Mr. Grote's opinion, not even to make it democratical, when it did not happen to be so already. Like all the weak states of antiquity, whether called independent or not, they were liable to extortion and oppression; not, however, from the Athenian people, but from rich and powerful Athenians in command of expeditions, against whom the Demos, when judicially appealed to, was ready to give redress. The most express testimony is borne to this general fact by the able oligarchical conspirator Phrynichus, as reported by the oligarchically inclined Thucydides, in his account of that remarkable incident in Athenian history, the revolution of the Four Hundred. The historian represents Phrynichus as reminding his fellow-conspirators that they could expect neither assistance nor good-will from the allies, since these well knew that it was from the oligarchical Athenians they were liable to injury, and looked

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