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the old and conservative court became stricter, and more
oppressive, instead of more popular and conciliatory.

But beside this great change in the constitution, Pericles
other poiiti- effected others also. Under his influence, a gene-
effecte(i !1 by S ra l power of supervision, over the magistrates and
Pencies. ^ Q assem bly, was intrusted to seven men called
Nomophy lakes, or Law Guardians, changed every year, who
sat with the president in the senate and assembly, and inter-
posed when any step was taken contrary to existing laws.
Other changes were also effected with a view to the enforce-
ment of laws, upon which we can not enter. It is enough to
say that it was by means of Pericles that the magistrates
were stripped of judicial power, and the Areopagus of all its
jurisdiction, except in cases of homicide, and numerous and
paid and popular dikasts were substituted to decide judicial
cases, and repeal and enact laws ; this, says Grote, was the
consummation of the Athenian democracy. And thus it
remained until the time of Demosthenes.

But the influence of Pericles is still more memorable from
improve- the impulse he gave to the improvements of Athens

ments of , , . „ , , TT

Athena. and his patronage of art and letters. He con-
ceived the idea of investing his city with intellectual glory,
which is more permanent than any conquests of territory.
And since he could not make Athens the centre of political
power, owing to the jealousies of other States, he resolved
to make her the great attraction to all scholars, artists, and
strangers. And his countrymen were prepared to second
his glorious objects, and were in a condition to do so, en-
riched by commerce, rendered independent by successes over
the Persians, and jealous Grecian rivals, and stimulated by



Chap, xviii.] Public Buildings of Athens. 245

the poets and philosophers who flourished in that glorious
age. The age of Pericles is justly regarded as the epoch of
tlve highest creation genius ever exhibited, and gave to
Athens an. intellectual supremacy which no military genius
could have secured.

The Persian war despoiled and depopulated Athens. The
city was rebuilt on a more extensive plan, and the streets
were made more regular. The long walls to the Peireeus
were completed — a double wall, as it were, with a space
between them large enough to secure the communication
between the city and the port, in case an enemy should gain
a footing in the wide space between the Peiraean and Thaleric
walls. The port itself was ornamented with beautiful public
buildings, of which the Agora was the most con- The b]io
siderable. The theatre, called the Odeon, was t>« ildin ? 8 -
erected in Athens for musical and poetical contests. The
Acropolis, with its temples, was rebuilt, and the splendid
Propylsea, of Doric architecture, formed a magnificent ap-
proach to them. The temple of Athene — the famous Par-
thenon—was built of white marble, and adorned with sculp-
tures in the pediments and frieze by the greatest artists of
antiquity, while Phidias constructed the statue of the god-
dess of ivory and gold. ISTo Doric temple ever equaled the
severe proportions and chaste beauty of the Parthenon, and
its ruins still are one of the wonders of the world. The
Odeon and Parthenon were finished during the first seven
years of the administration of Pericles, and many other
temples were constructed in various parts of Attica. The
genius of Phidias is seen in the numerous sculptures which
ornamented the city, and the general impulse he gave to art.
Other great artists labored in generous competition, — sculp-
tors, painters, and architects, — to make Athens the most
beautiful city in the world.

" It was under the administration of Pericles that Greek
literature reached its culminating height in the Attic drama,
a form of poetrv wdiich Aristotle iustlv considers impulse

. given to

as the most perfect ; and it shone with undiminished literature.



246 The Age of Pericles. [Chap. XVIII.

splendor to the close of the century. It was this branch of
literature which peculiarly marked the age of Pericles — the
period between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars. The
first regular comedies wei-e produced by Epicharmus, who
was born in Cos, b. c. 540, and exhibited at Syracuse.
Comedy arose before ti'agedy, and was at first at the celebra-
tion of Dionysus by rustic revelers in the season of the
vintage, in the form of songs and dances. But these were
not so appropriate in cities, and the songs of the revelers
were gradually molded into the regular choral dithyramb,
while the performers still preserved the wild dress and ges-
tures of the satyrs — half goat and half man — who accom-
panied Dionysus." The prevalence of tales of crime and
fate and suffering naturally impressed spectators with tragic
sentiments, and tragedy was thus born and sepa-

The drama. , „ , ° V, , „ • -. i •

rated from comedy. Both forms received their
earliest development in the Dorian States, and were particu-
larly cultivated by the Megarians. " Thespis, a native of
Iearia, first gave to tragedy its dramatic character, in the
time of Pisistratus, b. c. 535. He introduced the dialogue,
relieved by choral performances, and the recitation of mytho-
logical and heroic adventures. He traveled about Attica in
a wagon, which served him for a stage; but the art soon
found its way to Athens, where dramatic contests for prizes
were established in connection with the festivals of Dionysus.
These became State institutions. Chcerilus, B.C. 523, and
Phrynichus followed Thespis, and these ventured from the
regions of mythology to contemporaneous history."

It was at this time that JGschylus, the father of tragedy,
exhibited his dramas at Athens, b. c. 500. He added a sec-
ond actor, and made the choral odes subordinate
to the action. Ihe actors now made use ol masks,
and wore lofty head-dresses and magnificent robes. Scenes
were painted according to the rules of perspective, and an
elaborate mechanism was introduced upon the stage. New
figures were invented for the dancers of the cho-
rus. Sophocles still further improved tragedy by



Chap. XVIII.] The Grecian Drama. 24:7

adding the third actor, and snatched from JEschylus the
tragic prize. He was not equal to JEschylus in the bold-
ness and originality of his characters, or the loftiness of his
sentiments, or the colossal grandeur of his figures ; but in
the harmony of his composition, and the grace and vigor
displayed in all the parts — the severe unity, the classic ele-
gance of his style, and the charm of his expressions he is his
superior. These two men carried tragedy to a degree of
perfection never afterward attained in Greece. It was not
merely a spectacle to the people, but was applied to moral
and religious purposes. The heroes of ^Eschylus are raised
above the sphere of real life, and ofteu they are the sport
of destiny, or victims of a struggle between superior beings.
The characters of Sophocles are rarely removed beyond the
sphere of mortal sympathy, and they are made to rebuke
injustice and give impressive warnings.

Comedy also made a great stride during the administration
of Pericles ; but it was not till his great ascendency
was at its height that Aristophanes was born, me 7 '
b. c. 444. The comedians of the time were allowed great
license, which they carried even into £>olitics, and which was
directed against Pericles himself.

The Athenian stage at this epoch was the chief means by
which national life and liberty were sustained. It p oweroft]ie
answered the functions of the press and the pulpit 6ta s e -
in our day, and quickened the perceptions of the people.
The great audiences which assembled at the theatres were
kindled into patriotic glow, and were moved by the noble
thoughts, and withering sarcasm, and inexhaustible wit of
the poets. " The gods and goddesses who swept majestically
over the tragic stage were the objects of religious and na-
tional faith, real beings, whose actions and sufferings claimed
their deepest sympathy, and whose heroic fortitude served
for an example, or their terrific fate for a warning. So, too,
in the old comedy, the persons, habits, manners, principles held
up to ridicule were all familiar to the audience in their daily
lives ; and the poet might exhibit in a humorous light ob-



248 The Age of Pericles. [Chap. xvni.

jeets which to attack seriously would have "been a treason
or a sacrilege, and might recommend measures which he
could only have proposed in the popular assembly with a
halter round his neck." This susceptibility of the people to
grand impressions, and the toleration of rulers, alike show a
great degree of popular intelligence and a great practical
liberty in social life.

The age of Pericles was also adorned by great historians
The Wsto- and philosophers. Herodotus and Thucyclides have

Hans and x , . . * •

philosophers, never been surpassed as historians, while the
Sophists who succeeded the more earnest philosophers of a
previous age, gave to Athenian youth a severe intellectual
training. Rhetoric, mathematics and natural history sup-
planted speculation, led to the practice of eloquence as an
art, and gave to society polish and culture. The Sophists
can not indeed be compared with those great men who pre-
ceded or succeeded them in philosophical wisdom, but their
influence in educating the Grecian mind, and creating polished
men of society, can not be disproved. Politics became a pro-
fession in the democratic State, which demanded the highest
culture, and an extensive acquaintance with the principles of
moral and political science. This was the age of lectures,
when students voluntarily assembled to learn from the great
masters of thought that knowledge which would enable them
to rise in a State where the common mind was well
instructed.

But it must also be admitted that while the age of Pericles
furnished an extraordinary stimulus to the people, in art, in
literature, in political science, and in popular institutions, the
great teachers of the clay inculcated a selfish morality, and
sought an aesthetic enjoyment irrespective of high moral im-
provement, and the inevitable result was the rapid degeneracy
of Athens, and the decline even in political influence, and
Athens de- strength, as was seen in the superior power of Sparta

clinesinmo- . . . '

rai power. in the great contest to which the two leading States
of Greece were hurried by their jealousies and animosities.
The prosperity was delusive and outside ; for no intellectual



Chap. XVIII.] Astasia. 249

triumph, no glories of art, no fascinations of literature, can
balance the moral forces which are generated in self-denial
and lofty public virtue.

It was while the power and glory of Pericles were at their
height that he formed that memorable attachment

• -n r • • Aspasia.

to Aspasia, a Milesian woman, which furnished a
fruitful subject for the attacks of the comic poets. She
was the most brilliant and intellectual woman of the age, and
her house was the resort of the literary men and philoso-
phers and artists of Athens until the death of Pericles. He
formed as close a union with her as the law allowed, and her
influence in creating a sympathy with intellectual excellence
can not be questioned. But she was charged with pandering to
the vices of Pericles, and corrupting society by her example
and influence.

The latter years of Pericles were marked by the outbreak of
that great war with Sparta, which crippled the pow- Latter days
er of Athens and tarnished her glories. He also was
afflicted by the death of his children by the plague which
devastated Athens in the early part of the Peloponnesian
war, to which attention is now directed. The probity of
Pericles is attested by the fact that during his long p ii C y of
administration he added nothing to his patrimonial Pencles -
estate. His policy was ambitious, and if it could have been
carried out, it would have been wise. He sought first to
develop the resources of his country — the true aim of all en-
lightened statesmen — and then to make Athens the centre of
Grecian civilization and political power, to which all other
States would be secondary and subservient. But the rival-
ries of the Grecian States and inextinguishable jealousies
would not allow this. He made Athens, indeed, the centre
of cultivated life ; he could not make it the centre of national
unity. In attempting this he failed, and a disastrous war
was the consequence.

Pericles lived long enough to see the commencement of
the contest which ultimately resulted in the political ruin of
Athens, and which we now present.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE PEL0P0NNESIA2T WAK.

The great and disastrous war between the two leading
Causes of States of Greece broke out about two years and a
the war. ]j a ]f De f ore the death of Pericles, but the causes of
the war can be traced to a period shortly after the Persians
were driven out of the Ionian cities. It arose primarily from
the rapid growth and power of Athens, when, as the leader
of the maritime States, it excited the envy of Sparta and other
republics. A thirty years' truce was made between Athens
and Sparta, b. c. 445, after the revolution in Boeotia, when
the ascendency of Pericles was undisputed, which forced his
rival, Thucydides, a kinsman of Cimon, to go into temporary
exile. The continuance of the truce is identical with the
palmy days of Athens, and the glory of Pericles, during
Avhich the vast improvements to the city were made, and art
and literature nourished to a degree unprecedented in the
history of the ancient world.

After the conquest of Samos the jealousy of Sparta reached
a point which made it obvious that the truce could not much
longer be maintained, though both powers shrunk from open
hostilities, foreseeing the calamities which would result.
The storm burst out in an unexpected quarter. The city of
Epidamnus had been founded by colonists from Corcyra, on the
eastern side of the Adriatic. It was, however, the prey of
domestic factions, and in a domestic revolution a part of the
inhabitants became exiles. These appealed to the neighbor-
ing barbarians, who invested the city by sea and land. The
city, in distress, invoked the aid of Corcyra, the parent State,
which aid being disregarded, the city transferred its alle-
giance to Corinth. The Corinthians, indulging a hatred of



Chap. XIX.] Corcyra and Corinth. 251

Corcyra, took the distressed city under their protection.
This led to a war between Corcyra and Corinth, in which
the Corinthians were defeated. But Corinth, burning to re-
venge the disaster, fitted out a still larger force against Cor-
cyra. The Corcyraeans, in alarm, then sent envoys w

to Athens to come to their assistance. The Corin- tween Cor-
ey ra and

thians also sent embassadors to frustrate their pro- Corinth,
posal. Two assemblies were held in Athens in reference to
the subject. The delegates of Corcyra argued that peace
could not long be maintained with Sparta, and that Both parties

, . ' appealed to

in the coming contest the Corcyrseans would prove Athens.
useful allies. The envoys of Corinth, on the other hand,
maintained that Athens could not lend aid to Corcyra without
violating the treaty with Corinth. The Athenians Athens de-
decided to assist Corcyra, and ten ships were sent, of Corcyra.
under the command of Lacedsemonicus, the son of Cimon.
This was considered a breach of faith by the Corinthians, and a
war resulted between Corinth and Athens. The Corinthians
then invited the Lacedaemonians to join them and make com-
mon cause against an aggressive and powerful enemy, that
aimed at the supremacy of Greece. In spite of the influence
of Athenian envoys in Sparta, who attempted to justify the
course their countrymen had taken, the feeling against
Athens was bitter and universally hostile. Instant hostilities
were demanded in defense of the allies of Sparta, and war
was decided upon.

Thus commenced the Peloponnesian war, which led to such
disastrous consequences, and which was thus brought about
by the Corinthians, b. c. 433, sixteen years before the con-
clusion of the truce.

To Athens the coming war was any thing but agreeable.
It had no hopes of gain, and the certainty of prodigious loss.
But the Spartans were not then prepared for the contest,
and hostilities did not immediately commence. They con-
tented themselves, at first, with sending envoys to Athens
to multiply demands and enlarge the grounds of quarrel.
The offensive was plainly with Sparta. The first requisition



252 The Peloponnesian War. [Chap. XIX.

which Sparta made was the expulsion of the Alcmseonidre
intrigues of froni Athens, to which family Pericles belonged

Sparta. .... . , „

— a mere political manoeuvre to get rid of so
commanding a statesman. The enemies of Pericles, espe-
cially the comic actors at Athens, seized this occasion to
make public attacks upon him, and it was then that the per-
secution of Aspasia took place, as well as that against
Anaxagoras, the philosopher, the teacher, and friend of Peri-
cles. He was also accused of peculation in complicity with
Phidias. But he was acquitted of the various charges made
by his enemies. Nor could his services be well dispensed
with in the great crisis of public affairs, even had he been
guilty, as was exceedingly doubtful.

The reluctance on the part of the Athenians to go to war
Pericles was very great, but Pericles strenuously urged

urges the J & ' . "L ° ..

Athenians to his countrymen to resent the outrageous demands

support a „ _ !•! 1-11 i ' •

war. oi Sparta, which were nothing less than the vir-

tual extinction of the Athenian empire. He showed that
the Spartans, though all-powerful on the Peloponnesus, had
no means of carrying on an aggressive war at a distance,
neither leaders nor money, nor habits of concert with allies ;
while Athens was mistress of the sea, and was impregnable
in defense ; that great calamities would indeed happen in
Attica, but even if overrun by Spartan armies, there were
other territories and islands from which a support could be
derived. " Mourn not for the loss of land," said the orator,
"but reserve your mourning for the men that acquire land."
His eloquence and patriotism prevailed with a majority of
the assembly, and answer was made to Sparta that the
Athenians were prepared to discuss all grounds of complain};
pursuant to the truce, by arbitration, but that they would
yield nothing to authoritative command. This closed the ne-
gotiations, which Pericles foresaw would be vain and useless,
since the Spartans were obstinately bent on war. The first
imperious blow was struck by the Thebans — allies of Sparta.

demands of . * . mi

Sparta. They surprised Plata?a in the night, lne gates

were opened by the oligarchial party ; a party of Thebans



Chap, six.] Wealth of Athens. 253

were admitted into the agora ; but the people rallied, and
the party was overwhelmed. Meanwhile another detachment
of Thebans arrived in the morning, and, discovering what had
happened, they laid waste the Plataean territory without the
Avails. The Plataeans retaliated by slaughtering their prisoners.
Messengers left the city, on the entrance of the Thebans, to
carry the news to Athens, and the Athenians preparations
issued orders to seize all the Boeotians who could be for war '
found in Attica, and sent re-enforcements to Platsea. This
aggression of the Thebans silenced the opponents of Peri-
cles, who now saw that the war had actually begun, and that
active preparations should be made. Athens immediately
sent messengers to her allies, tributary as well as free, and
contributions flowed in from all parts of the Athenian empire.
Athens had soon three hundred triremes fit for service,
twelve hundred horsemen, sixteen hundred bowmen, and
twenty-nine thousand hoplites. The Acropolis was filled
with the treasure which had long been accumulating, not
less than six thousand talents — about $7,000,000 wealth of
of our money — an immense sum at that time,
when gold and silver were worth twenty or thirty
times as much as at present. Moreover, the various temples
were rich in votive offerings, in deposits, plate, and sacred
vessels, while the great statue of the goddess, lately set up
in the Parthenon by Phidias, composed of gold and ivory,
was itself valued at four hundred talents. The contributions
of allies swelled the resources of Athens to one thousand
talents, or over $11,000,000.

Sparta, on the other hand, had but few ships, no funds, and
no powers of combination, and it would seem that success
would be on the side of Athens, with her unrivaled mari-
time skill, and the unanimity of the citizens. Pericles did not
promise successful engagements on the land, but a successful
resistance, and the maintenance of the empire. His policy
was purely defensive. But if Sparta was weak in money
and ships, she was rich in allies. The entire strength of the
Peloponnesus was brought out, assisted by Megarians, Bceo-



254: The Pelojponnesian War. [Chap. xix.

tians, Phocians, Locrians, and other States. Corinth, Megara,
immense ar- Sicyon, Elis, and other maritime cities furnished
ag*inst f ° rCea ships, while Boaotians, Phocians,- and Locrians
Athens. furnished cavalry. Not even to resist the Persian
hosts was so large a land force collected, as was now assem-
bled to destroy the supremacy of Athens. And this great
force was animated with savage hopes, while the Athenians
were not without desponding anticipations, for there was
little hope of resisting the Spartans and their allies on the
field. The Spartans, moreover, resolved, by means of their
allies, to send a fleet able to cope with that of .Athens, and
even were so transported with enmity and jealousy as to lay
schemes for invoking the aid of Persia.

The invasion of Attica was the primary object of Sparta
invasion of an( I her allies ; and at the appointed time the
Attica. Lacedaemonian forces were mustered on the Isth-

mus of Corinth, under the command of Archidamus. Envoys
were sent to Athens to summon a surrender, but Pericles
would not receive them, nor allow them to enter the city,
upon which the Lacedaemonian army commenced its march
to Attica. It required all the eloquence and tact of Pericles
to induce the proprietors of Attica to submit to the devasta-
Defensive tion of their cultivated territory, and fly with

policy of a

Pericles. their families and movable property to Athens

or the neighboring islands, without making an effort to resist
the invaders. But this was the policy of Pericles. He knew
he could not contend with superior forces on the land. It
was hard for the people to submit to the cruel necessity of
seeing their farms devastated without opposition. But they
made the sacrifice, and intrenched themselves behind the
fortifications of Athens. Then was seen the wisdom of the
long walls which connected Athens with the Piraeus.

Meanwhile the Spartan forces — sixty thousand hoplites,
advanced through Attica, burning and plundering every
thing on their way, and reached Acharnae, within seven
miles of Athens. The Athenians, pent up behind their walls,
and seeing the destruction of their property, were eager to



Chap. XIX] Megara Devastated. 255

go forth, and fight, but were dissuaded by Pericles. Then
came to him the trying hour. He was denounced as the
cause of the existing sufferings, and was reviled as a coward.
But nothing disturbed his equanimity, and he refused even
to convene the assembly. As one of the ten generals he
had this power ; but it was a remarkable thing that the peo-
ple should have respected the democratic constitution so far
as to submit, when their assembly would have been justified
by the exigency of the crisis. But while the Athenians
remained inactive behind their walls, the cavalry was sent out
on skirmishing expeditions, and a large fleet was sent to the
Peloponnesus with orders to devastate the country in retali-
ation. The Spartans, after having spent thirty or forty days
in Attica, retired for want of provisions. JEgina Retreat of
was also invaded, and the inhabitants were expelled momans.
and sent to the Peloponnesus. Megara was soon after invaded
by an army under Pericles himself, and its territory was
devastated — a retribution well deserved, for both Megara
and JEgina had been zealous in kindling the war.

Expecting a prolonged struggle, the Athenians now made
arrangements for putting Attica in permanent Athens sets



Online LibraryJohn LordAnceint states and empires → online text (page 21 of 55)