Johann Joachim Eschenburg.

Manual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions online

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§ 29. In addition to the worship rendered the gods, there was a worship of
the heroes as demigods (§ 16), which however was neither so general nor
attended with so much ceremony. These had no festivals, properly speaking,
but an annual funeral solemnity (i ra'ycrr^ua), and were viewed as tutelary guar-
dians of fheir country, tribe, or family. On these solemnities, the drink offer-
ings (;to«'') were in common practice; not only wine was used for the purpose,
but often milk, and even blood. Sometimes victims w^ere slain, and various
offerings presented, and from these a trophy (tpoTtatov) or. a funeral pile, was
constructed. In some cases, the first fruits of the season were offered. The
usual place of such solemnities was the tomb of the hero, in whose memory
they were held, near which it was customary to erect an altar; often also to
make a pit or hole (3o^poj, "kdxxoi), which had reference to their dwelling in
the under world. (Cf. P. II. § 32.)

§ 30. Funeral solemnities were generally a part of the religious usages of the
more ancient Greeks. These commenced immediately on the death of an indi-
vidual, in the formal closing of his eyes {nvyx^.iUiv •tov^ 6^'^a%[xov<;), a ceremony
usually performed by the nearest kinsman. The corpse was then washed and
anointed, clothed in a white linen pall and placed on a sort of bier (?.£xrpoj/,
fjEpf-rpoi'). Around this the kindred and friends of the deceased raised the
funeral lament, which was often expressed in song by persons employed for
the occasion, and accompaniea by mournful notes of the flute. The mourners
also testified their sorrow by plucking off their hair, and casting it upon the
corpse. These ceremonies were continued, not always the same length of
time, sometimes three, sometimes seven days, and often a greater number.

§ 31. The burning of the corpse was a custom peculiar to the Greeks, as
the Eo-yptians and the Persians used to inter their dead. In the earliest times
interring was practiced by the Greeks, although Homer speaks only of

1 u. After the completion of the bewailings just described, the corpse was borne on
a bed or bier to the appointed place, where a funeral pile (jrvpa) was erected. Near
this, funeral sacrifices were slain. Upon the pile were placed various objects, which
had been particularly valued by the deceased, even animals, and sometimes human
beings previously put to death. During the burning, the attendants uttered their wait-
ings and funeral chants. The flame was finally extinguished by pouring on some
liquid, and the ashes or remaining bones were collected by the nearest relative, and
deposited in an urn, which was buried in the earth. The place of interment was
marked by stones and a mound (\w^a), on which was commonly raised a pillar (oriiA?/),
or other monument, with an inscription. The ceremonies were ended with a funeral
repast {veKpokiTvov , Tcspikmvoi^). Sometimes games were celebrated in honor of the

2. It is stated, that among the Thracians wives were burned on the funeral piles of
their husbands ; a custom which is still prevalent in India, although the influence of
Christianity is breaking it up in the portions of the country subject to England.

§ 32. In speaking of the religious customs of the Greeks, we should notice
their regard to oracles and to divinations. The most ancient of the oracles was
that of Dodona ; that of Delphi was still more celebrated, and also of early
origin. The practice of divination and the interpreting of signs was a business
of the priests in particular. It was done partly by observing accidental
occurrences, as the flight of birds, or the breaking of thunder, in both of which
the right side indicated good fortune, the observer having his face directed to the
north ; and partly by consulting the entrails of victims. Sneezing was re-




garded as a favorable prognostic. We may mention also the prophetic inter-
pretation of dreams, and the belief of the multitude in magic, and in bodily
metamorphoses, which they supposed to afford various means of aid and pro-

The religious festivals were numerous and attended with various ceremonies.
— But on each of the topics mentioned in this section, we shall speak more
particularly again. (Cf. §§ 70-77.)


§ 33. It has been already remarked (§ 5), that the first inhabitants of Greece
lived in a dispersed state, without civil culture or any social compact. The
family relations, the authority of the parent over the child, of the husband over
the wife, exhibited the only traces of government. Phoroneus, a son of Inachus,
is mentioned as the first author of association for civil purposes. Gradually
the Greek tribes began to select leaders, who v.^ere called kings (aacrans),
however limited might be the extent of their dominion or authority. The choice
most generally fell upon such as had rendered to their tribe or country some
distinguished and meritorious service; and then the dignity became hereditary,
a thing rather rare, however, in the earlier ages. Sometimes the choice was
determined by consulting an oracle, and in such case the authority was viewed
as the more rightful, and as sanctioned by the gods.

On the subject of the civil affairs of the early Greeks, we may refer to F. IV. Tittmann's Darstellung der griechisch. Staatsverfas-
sungen. Leipz. 1822. S.—Mitford, ch. ii. sect. 2 ; ch. iv. sect. 4.— See § 92.

§ 34. The kingly power, in the first ages, was far from being despotic, or
unlimited ; the leaders and princes being bound by certain laws and usages.
The principal duties of these chiefs were to command in war, to settle disputes
between the people, and to take care of the worship of the gods. Valor, love
of justice, and zeal for religion, were therefore reckoned among their most im-
portant excellences. For their honor and support, a portion of the lands was
assigned, the cultivation of which they superintended themselves. Certain
taxes or imposts were also paid to them, which were increased in time of war.
The signs of their oflice were the scepter and diadem. The former {oxr^nrpov)
was usually of wood, and in length not unlike the lance; the latter {bcaSr^ixa)
was a sort of bandeau or head-band, rather than a proper crown. The general
costume of these kings was distinguished by its richness, and was commonly of
a purple color.

In ancient times, one of the tokens of office and rank always was something attached
to the head ; a wreath, cap, crown, or the like. A metallic crown was common.
David is said to have had a crown of gold with precious stones, of the weight (meaning
probably of the value) of a talent (1 Sam. xii. 30). Athenasus mentions a crown, made
of 10,000 pieces of gold, placed on the throne of king Ptolemy.

In our Plate XVI. fig. C, we have a curious golden crown, which is said to have been found
111 some part of Ireland, in 1692, about ten feet under ground. Near it in tlie Plate, fig. a, is an an-
cient Abyssinian crown ; on the other side, fig. b, is the covering seen on tlie head ofa conquered
prince or general upon Egyptian monuments.— In Plate XXIV. fig. 6, we have the fillet and Iiom
worn by governors of provinces in Abyssinia. " A large broad fillet," savs Bruce, " was bound
upon their forehead and tied behind their head. In the middle of this was a conical piece of silver
about four inches long. It is called Air?? or horn, and is worn especially in parades after victo-
ries."— £r«ce. Travels, &c. as cited P. IV. § 118. 1.

§ 35. The court and retinue of the first kings was very simple and unimpos-
ing. In war, they usually had by their side a friend, who served as a kind of
armor-bearer. Both in war and peace, they employed heralds (xrpvx^i) in the
publication and execution of their orders. The heralds also imposed silence,
when the chiefs wished to come forward and speak in an assembly. The same
officers assisted in religious ceremonies, and were present in the forming of
treaties. — The kings also selected councillors, of the most distinguished, ex-
perienced, and brave of the people; and in cases of doubt or difficulty, held
with them consultations and formal assemblies, in which the speaker was
accustomed to stand and the rest to sit. Both public and private affairs were
discussed in these assemblies.

§ 36. The courts of justice were in public places; and the whole assembly


usually presented the form of a circle. The judg^es sat upon seats or benches
of stone ; the men selected for the office were such as were much respected on
account of age and experience. They bore in their hand a scepter or staff.
The cause was stated orally by the contending parties themselves, and by them
the witnesses were brought forward. The kings or chiefs presided in these
judicial assemblies, sitting on an elevated seat or throne. For a period, equity
and precedent or usage formed the basis of all decisions ; but afterwards, the
courts had for their guide particular laws and statutes, which were first intro-
duced by Phoroneus, and more extensively by Cecrops.

§ 37. As the laws in the more ancient times were few and simple, so were
the punishments. But few crimes were made capital. Murder was commonly
punished by banishment, either voluntarily sought by the murderer, or expressly
decreed by public sentence; its duration, however, was but a year, and even
this could sometimes be commuted for a fine. The privileges of asylum be-
longed only to the author of accidental, unintentional homicide. Adultery was
punished severely, commonly with death. Robbery and theft were very fre-
quent in the early times of Greece, and originally were not considered as cri-
minal, while the right of the stronger was admitted, especially if shrewdness
and cunning w^ere united with the theft. Nothing therefore was aimed at but
to recover what had been taken, or to inflict vengeance by a corresponding in-
jury. Afterwards, however, particular punishments were imposed for these

§ 38. In as much as the inhabitants of Crete were connected with the Greeks
by their having a common language, it is important to mention the Cretan laws,
which were introduced by Minos. They are said to have been the most ancient
written code, and were afterwards taken by Lycurgus as models, JNIilitary
valor and union among the people seems to have been their great aim ; every
ordinance of Minos was directed to promote strength of body, and to cultivate
social attachment between the members of the state. In order to impart greater
dignity and authority to his laws, he brought them forward as having been re-
vealed to him by Jupiter. But the moral culture was not greatly advanced by
institutions having their primary and chief reference to a state of war.

§ 39. In the progress of time, the form of government among the Greeks
underwent many changes, and at length became wholly democratic. The most
celebrated of the states were Athens and Sparta. Of these in particular a few
important circumstances respecting their government in the more early ages are
here to be mentioned.

Athens was originally governed by kings. The power of these kings was
more unrestrained in war than in peace. Af"ter the death of Codrus (1068 B.C.),
it became a free state. The chief authoiity was given to officers styled
Jirchons, who ruled for life. Thirteen archons of this description succeeded
each other, all descended from the family of Codrus. After the time of these
(752 B. C), the office of Archon ceased to be for life, and was limited to ten
years, and was held by a single person at a time. After a succession of seven
Archons of this kind, the office was made annual (684 B. C), and nine Archons
were appointed to rule jointly, not all, however, of the same rank. — The civil
government experienced changes under Draco, and others still greater under
the distinguished legislator Solon, and in after times.

§ 40. Sparta was also originally governed by kings. Euristhenes and Pro-
cles, the two sons of Aristodemus (one of the Heraclida? that invaded Pelo-
ponnesus), reigned jointly, but not harmoniously. Under their descendants the
kingly office lost much of its authority. Lycurgus, the famous Spartan law-
giver, changed greatly the form of government; it did not become democratical,
neither was it, properly speaking, aristocratical. Two kings remained at the
head, and a senate was established consisting of twenty-eight men, who were
above sixty years of age. There was also the body of five Ephori, appointed
annually. The people themselves likewise had some share in the administra-
tion of the state. Notwithstanding many internal divisions and disturbances,
this 3tate enjoyed a long period of comparative rest and liberty. This it owf d


very much to the wise regulations of Lycurgus, the salutary influence of which
was aided by the limited territory and moderate population of Lacedaemon.

§ 41. One of the most effectual means of advancinnr the Greeks was their
commerce and the navigation connected with it. In the earliest times, com-
merce consisted chiefly in barter and reciprocal exchanges of native products,
the use of gold not being introduced. Afterwards pieces of metal of different
values were employed. (Cf. P. IV. § 94.) Navigation became more common
after the Trojan war, and jEgina first turned it to the advantage of commerce.
Corinth and Rhodes became most distinguished in this respect. The commerce
of Atliens finally became something considerable; that of Lacedaemon on the
other hand always remained comparatively unimportant. — On the whole, it is
worthy of remark, that the extension of commerce and maritime intercourse
had an important influence upon the civil and moral culture of the Grecian
states. (Cf. P. IV. § 40.)

,^. Anderson, Historical and Chronological Deduction of the Origin of Commerce, from the earliest accounts ; with Appendix by
Cooiiibt. Dubl. 1790. 6 vols. 8.

" Commerce, in the Homeric age, appears to have been principally in the hands of
the Phenicians. The carrying-trade of the Mediterranean was early theirs, and Sidon
was the great seat of manufacture. The Greeks were not without traffic carried on
by sea among themselves ; but the profession of merchant had evidently not in Homer's
time that honorable estimation which yet, according to Plutarch, it acquired at an early
period in Greece. While it was thought not unbecoming a prince to be a carpenter to
supply his own wants or luxuries, to be a merchant for gain was held but as a mean
employment ; a pirate was a more respected character.

Navigation had been much practiced, long before Homer, in small open vessels?,
nearly such as are still common in the Mediterranean ; and the poet gives no hint of
any late advancement of the art. The seas, indeed, which nearly surrounded Greece,
are singularly adverse to improvements upon that vast scale which oceans require, and
which modern times have produced. Broken by innumerable headlands and islands,
with coasts mostly mountainous, and in some parts of extraordinary height, the Gre-
cian seas are beyond others subject to sudden and violent storms. These united cir-
cumstances, which have made the Greeks of all ages excellent boatmen, have contri-
buted much to prevent them from becoming seamen. The skill and experience of the
pilot, in the modern sense of the term, are constantly wanted ; the science of the
navigator is of little avail ; even the compass is comparatively useless in the jEgean.
The Mediterranean vessels now, not excepting the French, which are mostly navigated
by Mediterranean sailors, never keep the sea there but with a fair wind. The English
alone, accustomed in all their surrounding waters to a bolder navigation, commonly
venture in the Archipelago to work to windward. Sails were used in fair winds in
Homer's time ; but the art of sailing was extremely imperfect. The mariner's de-
pendence was his oars, which no vessel was without. For in seas so land-locked, yet
so tempestuous, the greatest danger was to the stoutest ship. Light vessels, which
with their oars could creep along the coast, watch the weather, make way in calms,
and, on any threatening appearance, find shelter in shoal water or upon an open beach,
were what Grecian navigation peculiarly required. The Phenicians, for their com-
merce, used deeper ships, accommodated to their more open seas and longer voyages."


§ 42. Military prowess was esteemed by the early Greeks as of the greatest
merit, and was therefore an object of universal ambition. The first inhabitants
were distinguished for their warlike inclinations and habits of life, although
their wars were conducted wnthout much method or discipline. They were
constantly in arms, not only to defend themselves and their property, but to
attack and plunder others. Thus they perpetrated violence, murder, and de-
vastation in the extreme. It needed but a trifling occasion to excite a general,
long, and bloody w^ar; the siege of Troy furnishes a striking example. In
such cases, several chiefs and people, sometimes of very distant provinces,
anited as in a common cause.

On Grecian military affair?, see I T. H Kast, Einleitung in die griechischen KriegsalterthQmer. Stuttg. 17?0. 8. a valuabU
Bork on the general subject.— Also, G. G S. Kdphe, Qber das Kriegsweisen der Griechen im heroischen Zeitalter, &c. Berl. 1807. 8.
cf. Cla^s. Jonm. ix. II.— C. Guiscard, Memoires militaires sur les Grecs et sur les Remains. La Haye, 1758. 4. It contains a
translation of Onosa->ider (cf. P. V. § 221), and plans of some ancient battles, &c Cf. § 215.— Gamier, as cited § 136.— Mitfard'*
<}ist. ch. ii. sect. 3, 4.


§ 43. The Grecian armies consisted partly of foot-soldiers and in later times
of horsemen, partly of such as were borne in chariots. The foot-soldiers were
distinguished as light armed {^Oml) and heavy armed {uTtntac). The Thessa-
lians were early and especially celebrated for their cavalry (irtTisii). Still more
ancient was the use of war-chariots, which were employed by the heroes of
Homer. Two horses, sometimes three, were attached to these chariots ; each
contained two warriors, one of whom g^uided the horses {rjvLoxoi), while the
other pointed out the direction (7tapat;i3a?>;j), discharged arrows, hurled missiles
from a sling, or fought with short arms, and when the action was close spranor
from the chariot (Strppos). Notwithstanding the inconvenience of these vehicles
in battle, they were in use for a long time, before cavalry came to be generally
substituted in their place.

In the Sup. Plate 10 is seen a war chariot with three horses and two persons; Bellona acting
as charioteer, while Mars is hurling the javelin.

§ 44. The weapons of the Greek warriors were of two kinds, defensive and
offensive. Among the former (aXfliyrj^pta, 7tpo,3x?;,aara) was the helntet {xvvir^^
xpavof, Ttfpixfpa^-ai'a, xopvj) made of hide or leather and adorned with a crest
of hair or tufts of feathers {^u^oq, -ko^oO, and attached to the neck by a strap
{.oxfvi) ; the hreasiplate (S>u<pa|), commonly made of brass, sometimes of
leather or linen; the girdle (Cwi't^), mostly of brass and encircling the lower
part of the body ; the greaves {xvrijxlbiq), of brass or some more precious metal ;
and the skie/d (d(T7tJj), usually round, made of bullock's hide, and used for the
protection of the whole body (cf. § 139).

1 u. The shield was often adorned with figures, but not as much so as Hesiod repre-
sents the shield of Hercules to have been, and Hoiner that of Achilles.

2. Homer's description of the shield of Achilles (II. xviii.478) is considered as one of the finest
passages in the Iliad. A delineation and niodel of the shield was formed by the celebrated artist
Flaxman, and several casts were made in silver gilt, bronze, and plaster. lie bronglu the whole
work within a circle of three feet in diameter. It contains upwards of a hundred human figures
e.vhibited in relief.

Cf. Fell07i's Iliad, Notes.— See Quatr. de Qimicy, Sur la description du bouclier d'Achille, &c. in Ihe Mem. I'Inst. di France.
01 asse d'Hist. tt Lit. Anc. vol. iv. p. 102, with a colored plate.— £ld Caylus, Boucliers d'Achille, d'Hercule, et d'Euee, &c. in
the Mem. Acad, [riser, xxvii. 21. — Class. Juuiii. vi. 6; viii. 409.

§ 45. The offensive weapons were, the spear (Sdpu), commonly made of the
ash-tree (^tj^.Jjy), and of different lengths and forra<5 according as it was designed
for combat more or less close; the sword (|t<j)05), the belt of which hung from
the shoulders; the bow (roloj^), usually of wood, with a string Cv^vpov) of
twisted horse-hair or of hide; the arrows {^aXrj, 6t.ata), of light-wood, pointed
with iron, and winged (rtrfpostj 16^) with feathers ; the Javelin (axov, dxoj^rto^),
of various lengths and forms; and the sli7ig (cepfi-Sorj^), of an oval shape, with
two leathern strings attached to its ends, by means of which arrows, stones,
and leaden balls (y-oXv^Bwai,) were hurled against the foe.

The spear used for close combat was called 66pv dpeicrdv; that for a distance, ira\Tdi>;
.he point, termed dixpiri and dKcoKri, was always of metal. AovpoSoKri was the name given to
the box or case, in which the spears were deposited when not in use. — The term l*Vjalso
designates the spear; the epithet brazen (xaXKcov) is usually applied to it. Cf. Horn. II.

iii. 3S0. The arrows were kept in a quiver {(haperpa), which, with the bow, was usually

carried on the back of the shoulders (ot ujxoicnu). The quiver had a lid or cover (tc?mo).
Cf. Ho7n. II. iv. 116-120.

Various articles of ancient armor are seen in our Plates XVII. and XXII. The bow and quiver
are given in fig. T, and L, of Plate XVII. In this Plate also, fig. Y, Y, we have forms of the
Grecmn javelin ; in O, O, spear-heads ; in the figs, a, a, the long spear; in H, a form of the cluba
(cf. $ 139) which in various forms were used in early periods; in fig. A, A, are given forms of
the dub or battle-mallet used by the Egyptians, which sometimes had leaden heads with handles
four or five feet long; in fig. I, I, we have tlie Grecian buttle ax ; in fig. S, and in the several
fiss. marked C, and those marked D, are forms of the Grecian and Ronian sword ; in E, a Dacian
word ; in those marked B, Persian swords.— In Plate XXH fig. a, b, c, d, and e, are varieties
jf helmets found in Egyptian remains: /, g-, h, and i, are Persian and Syrian helmets; the
kings are sometimes represented with crowns of a sirtiilar appearance: v, and o, are given as
Phrygian : I, w, are Grecian, and may represent also the Roman : p, and q, are Uacian : k. is a
form quite similar to the latter, said to be used also by the Syrians. In fig. r, and on the Gre-
cian warriors, fig. 1, and fig. 7, the thorax is seen, and the girdle: s, represents a figure found
(cf. C^tone's Life of Brant, vol. ii. p. 55, Appendi.x) buried in a sitting posture, near the celebrated
Dighton Rock, in Massachusetts, with a concave breastplate thirteen inches Ions, supposed to
be of cast brass, and a belt of the same material four and a half inches wide, having a reed-like
appearance ; a brazen arrow-head, t, was found with it. In fig. u, and on the ivarrior, fig. 7, we


see i\\e greaves ; the shield, in fig. 1, 3, 7; the spear in the hands of the Grecian warriors, in fig.
1, 2; and of the Persian, fig. 3 : the bow, &c. in fig. 6, which represents an Egyptian archer.

§ 46. Most of the weapons of the ancient Greeks were made of brass or
copper, which seems to have been used earlier than iron (cf. P. IV. § 10), and
was often used after the introduction of iron. For defensive armor, iron was
afterwards generally preferred. For the cuirass or breastplate, the greaves and
the shield, tin or lead was sometimes used. To adorn the weapons with gold
was considered as too extravagant and ostentatious. Yet they endeavored to
give their armor the highest degree of brightness, not only for the sake of
beauty, but to inspire fear in the enemy. On the shield they had a sort of
field-badge, or military emblem, usually in bas-relief, the image of some god,
or animal, especially the lion. The horses also were ornamented with much

Respecting the military apparel little is ascertained. Lycurgus directed the Lacedag-
nionians to clothe their soldiers in scarlet. — The Greek soldiers usually carried their

Online LibraryJohann Joachim EschenburgManual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions → online text (page 33 of 153)