Imatges de pÓgina


upon the Demos as their protector. The reality of the protection is exemplified by the case of Paches, the victorious general who had just before captured Mitylene. The resentment of the Athenians against that revolted city was such, that they were (as is well known) persuaded by Cleon to pass a decree for putting the whole military population to death, though they recalled the mandate before it had been executed. Yet, Paches having abused his victory by violating two women of Mitylene, having first put their husbands to death, was prosecuted by them before the Athenian dicastery, and the facts being proved, was so overwhelmed by the general burst of indignation that he slew himself in open court. This incident (which until its real circumstances had been hunted out by Niebuhr, was one of the stock examples of Athenian and popular ingratitude) is a striking illustration of the difference between the Athenian empire and the Lacedæmonian; for when Spartan citizens, in repeated instances, committed similar enormities, not against conquered enemies but friendly allies, no redress could be obtained. It required the field of Leuctra to avenge the daughters of Skedasus, or appease the manes of the victims of the harmost Aristodemus.

However unpopular the dominion of Athens may have been among her subjects, though it appears to have been so with the leading men rather than with the majority, they had reason enough to regret it after it was at an end; for not only was the little finger of Lacedæmon heavier than the whole body of Athens, but many of them only exchanged Greek dominion for that of the barbarians. Sparta was never able for more than a few years to protect the Asiatic Greeks even against Persia; and at the height of her power, as soon as the obligation of defending them became inconvenient, she, by the peace of Antalcidas, actually ceded the whole of that great division of Greece to the Persian king, to whom it remained subject until the invasion of Alexander. Several of the most prosperous of the islanders fared no better: Cos, Chios, and Rhodes, when by the Social War they succeeded in detaching themselves from the second Athenian empire, fell almost immediately into dependence on the Carian despot Mausolus, against whom the Rhodians had soon to appeal again

* Τούς τε καλοὺς κἀγαθοὺς ὀνομαζομένους οὐκ ἐλάσσω αὐτοὺς νομίζειν σφίσι πράγματα παρέξειν τοῦ δήμου, ποριστὰς ὄντας καὶ ἐσηγητὰς τῶν κακῶν τῷ δήμῳ, ἐξ ὧν τὰ πλείω αὐτοὺς ὠφελεῖσθαι· καὶ τὸ μὲν ἐπ' ἐκείνοις εἶναι, καὶ ἄκριτοι ἂν καὶ βιαιότερον ἀποθνήσκειν, τόν τε δῆμον σφῶν τε καταφυγὴν εἶναι καὶ ἐκείνων σωφρονιστήν. Καὶ ταῦτα παρ' αὐτῶν τῶν ἔργων ἐπισταμένας τὰς πόλεις σαφῶς αὐτὸς εἰδέναι, ὅτι OUTW voμilovoir. (Thuc. viii. 48.)

to their enemy, Athens, for assistance. So mere a name was that universal autonomy, which was used so successfully to stir up the feelings of the Hellenic world against its noblest member; so entirely did the independence of Greece turn on the maintenance of some cohesion among her multifarious particles, while the political instincts of her people obstinately rejected the merging of the single city-republic in any larger unity.

The intellectual and moral preeminence which made Athens the centre of good to Greece, and of the good to after generations of which Greece has been the medium, was wholly the fruit of Athenian institutions. It was the consequence, first of democracy, and secondly, of the wise and well-considered organisation by which the Athenian democracy was distinguished among the democratic constitutions of antiquity. The term democracy may perhaps be deemed inapplicable to any of the Grecian governments, on account of the existence of slavery; and it is inapplicable to them, in the purest and most honourable sense of the term. But in another sense, not altogether inappropriate, those governments, the first to which the word democracy was applied, must be considered entitled to the name, in the same manner as it is given to the northern States of America, although women are there excluded from the rights of citizenship; an exclusion which, equally with that of slaves, militates against the democratic principle. The Athenian constitution was so far a democracy, that it was government by a multitude, composed in majority of poor persons-small landed * proprietors and artisans. It had the additional democratic characteristic, far more practically important than even the political franchise; it was a government of boundless publicity and freedom of speech. It had the liberty of the bema, of the dicastery, the portico, the palæstra, and the stage; altogether a full equivalent for the liberty of the press. Further, it was the only government of antiquity which possessed this inestimable advantage in the same degree, or retained it as long. Enemies and friends alike testify that the appηcía of Athens was paralleled in no other place in the known world. Every office and honour was open to every citizen, not, as in the aristocratic Roman republic (or even the British monarchy), almost nominally, but really while the daily working of Athenian institutions (by means of which every citizen was accustomed to hear every sort of question, public and private, discussed by the ablest men of the time, with the earnestness of purpose and fulness of preparation belonging to actual business, deliberative or judicial) formed a course of political education, the equivalent of which modern nations have not known how to give even to

those whom they educate for statesmen. To their multitudinous judicial tribunals the Athenians were also indebted for that habitual love of fair play, and of hearing both sides of a case, which was more or less a quality of the Greeks generally, but had so firm a hold on the Athenians that it did not desert them under the most passionate excitement. The potency of Grecian democracy in making every individual in the multitude identify his feelings and interests with those of the state, and regard its freedom and greatness as the first and principal of his own personal concerns, cannot be better described than in the words of Mr. Grote. After quoting a remarkable passage from Herodotus descriptive of the unexpected outburst of patriotic energy at Athens after the expulsion of the Pisistratida and the establishment of the Cleisthenean constitution *, Mr. Grote proceeds as follows (vol. iv. pp. 237–9.): —

Democracy in Grecian antiquity possessed the privilege, not only of kindling an earnest and unanimous attachment to the constitution in the bosoms of the citizens, but also of creating an energy of public and private action such as could never be obtained under an oligarchy, where the utmost that could be hoped for was a passive acquiescence and obedience. Mr. Burke has remarked that the mass of the people are generally very indifferent about theories of government; but such indifference (although improvements in the practical working of all governments tend to foster it) is hardly to be expected among any people who exhibit decided mental activity and spirit on other matters; and the reverse was unquestionably true, in the year 500 B. C., among the communities of ancient Greece. Theories of government were there any thing but a dead letter; they were connected with emotions of the strongest as well as of the most opposite character. The theory of a permanent ruling One, for example, was universally odious; that of a ruling Few, though acquiesced in, was never positively attractive, unless either where it was associated with the maintenance of peculiar education and habits, as at Sparta, or where it presented itself as the only antithesis to democracy, the latter having by peculiar circumstances become an object of terror. But the theory of democracy was preeminently seductive; creating in the mass of the citizens an intense positive attachment, and disposing them to voluntary action and suffering on its behalf, such as no coercion on the part of other governments could entail. Herodotus, in his comparison of the three sorts of government, puts in the front rank of the advantages of democracy "its most splendid name and promise"

* Αθηναῖοι μέν νυν ἤυξηντο· δηλοῖ δὲ οὐ κατ' ἓν μόνον ἀλλὰ πανταχῆ, ἡ ἰσηγορίη ὡς ἔστι χρῆμα σπουδαῖον, εἰ καὶ ̓Αθηναῖοι τυραννευομένοι μὲν, οὐδαμῶν τῶν σφέας περιοικούντων ἔσαν τὰ πολέμια ἀμείνους, ἀπαλλαχθέντες δὲ τυράννων, μακρῷ πρῶτοι ἐγένοντο· δηλοῖ ὧν ταῦτα, ὅτι κατεχομένοι μὲν, ἐθελοκάκεον, ὡς δεσπότῃ ἐργαζομένοι, ἐλευθερωθέντων δὲ, αὐτὸς ἕκαστος ἑωυτῷ προθυμέετο κατεργάζεσθαι. (Herod. v. 78.)

its power of enlisting the hearts of the citizens in support of their constitution, and of providing for all a common bond of union and fraternity. This is what even democracy did not always do: but it was what no other government in Greece could do: a reason alone sufficient to stamp it as the best government, and presenting the greatest chance of beneficent results.... Among the Athenian citizens, certainly, it produced a strength and unanimity of positive political sentiment, such as has rarely been seen in the history of mankind, which excites our surprise and admiration the more when we compare it with the apathy which had preceded, and which is even implied as the natural state of the public mind in Solon's famous proclamation against neutrality in a sedition. Because democracy happens to be unpalatable to most modern readers, they have been accustomed to look upon the sentiment here described only in its least honourable manifestations-in the caricatures of Aristophanes, or in the empty commonplaces of rhetorical declaimers. But it is not in this way that the force, the earnestness, or the binding value of democratical sentiment at Athens is to be measured. We must listen to it as it comes from the lips of Perikles, while he is strenuously enforcing upon the people those active duties for which it both implanted the stimulus and supplied the courage; or from the oligarchical Nikias in the harbour of Syracuse, when he is endeavouring to revive the courage of his despairing troops for one last death-struggle, and when he appeals to their democratical patriotism as to the only flame yet alive and burning even in that moment of agony. From the time of Kleisthenes downward, the creation of this new mighty impulse makes an entire revolution in the Athenian character; and if the change still stood out in so prominent a manner before the eyes of Herodotus, much more must it have been felt by the contemporaries among whom

it occurred.'

The influences here spoken of were those of democracy generally. For the peculiar and excellent organisation of her own democracy, Athens was indebted to a succession of eminent men. The earliest was her great legislator, Solon; himself the first capital prize which Athens drew in the dispensations of the Destinies; a man whose personal virtue ennobled the city by which he was chosen to legislate, and the merit of whose institutions was a principal source of the deep-rooted respect for the laws, which distinguished Athens beyond any other of the ancient democracies. The salutary forms of business established by Solon, and calculated to secure as much caution and deliberation as was compatible with ultimate decision by a sovereign Ecclesia, lived through the successive changes by which the constitution was rendered more and more democratic. And though it is commonly supposed that popular passion in a democracy is peculiarly liable to trample on forms when they stand between it and its object-which is indeed, without question, one of the dangers of a democracy there is

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no point in the character of the Athenians more remarkable than their respect and attachment to the forms of their constitution. In the height of their anger against Pericles for not leading them out to defend their lands and houses from the ravages of the Peloponnesians because he, standing on his privilege as a magistrate, abstained from calling an assembly, no assembly met. There is indeed but one marked instance known to us, in Athenian history, of that violation of forms which was the daily practice of most of the oligarchical governments. That one was a case of great and just provocation, the cause celèbre' of the six generals who neglected to save their drowning countrymen after the sea fight of Arginusæ : and there was, as Mr. Grote has shown, no injustice in the fact of their condemnation by the people, though there was a blameable violation of the salutary rules of criminal procedure established for the protection of the innocent. It was in this case that the philosopher Socrates, accidentally that month a senator of the presiding tribe, as firm against the 'civium ardor prava 'jubentium ' as afterwards against the vultus instantis tyranni,' singly refused to join in putting the question to the assembly contrary to the laws; adding one to the proofs that the man of greatest intellect at that time in Athens was also its most virtuous citizen.

After Solon (omitting the intervening usurpation of Pisistratus), the first great constitutional change was the reformation of Cleisthenes, an eminent man, to whose character and historical importance no one before Mr. Grote had done justice. The next was that in which the immediate mover was Aristides, at the re-establishment of the city after the Persian war, when the poorest class of citizens was first admitted to share in public employments. The final measures which completed the democratic constitution were those of Pericles and Ephialtes; more particularly the latter, a statesman of whom, from the unfortunate absence of any cotemporary history of the period between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars except the brief introductory sketch of Thucydides, we have to lament that too little is known, but of whom the recorded anecdotes indicate a man worthy to have been the friend of Pericles.* Ephialtes perished by assassination, a victim to the rancorous hatred of the oligarchical party. Assassination afterwards disappears from Athenian public life, until reintroduced on a regular system by the same party, to effect the revolution of the Four Hundred. The Athenian Many, of whose democratic irritability and

* See particularly Elian, V. H. xi. 9. and xiii. 39.

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