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A history of Greece from the earliest period to the close of the ..., Volume 1 online

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ward into Boeotia went through Chaeroneia, leaving Lebadeia on the
right and Orchomenus on the left hand, and passed the south-western
edge of the lake Kopais near the towns of Koroneia, Alalkomenie,
and Haliartus. Here stood, between Mount Helikon and the lake,
on the road from Phokis to Thebes, the important military post ^
called Tilphossion. The territory of this latter city occupied the
greater part of centtal Boeotia south of the lake Kopais; it compre-
hended Akraephia and Mount Ptoon, and probably touched the
Euboean Sea at the village of Salganeus south of Anthedon. South-
west of Thebes, bordering on the south-eastern extremity of Phokis
with the Phokian town of Bulis, stood the city of Thespiae. South-
ward of the Asopus, but northward of Kithseron and Pames, were
Plataea and Tanagra: in the south-eastern corner of Boeotia stood
Oropus, the frequent subject of contention between Thebes and
Athens; and in the road between the Euboean Chalkis and Thebes,
the town of Mykalessus.

From our first view of historical Boeotia downward, there appears
a confederation whick embraces the whole territory; and during the
Peloponnesian war the Thebans invoke ** the ancient constitutional
maxims of the Boeotians" as a justification of extreme rigor, as well
as of treacherous breach of the peace, against the recusant Plat-seans.
Of this confederation the greater cities were primary members, while
the lesser were attached to one or other of them in a kind of depend-

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ent union. Neither the names nor the number of these primary
members can be certainly known: there seem grounds for including
Thebes, Orcliomenus, Lebadeia, Koroneia, Haliartus, Kopae, Anthe-
don, Tanagra, Thespiae, and Plataea before its secession. Akrsephia
with the neighboring Mount Ptoon and its oracle, Skolus, Glisas and
other places, were dependencies of Thebes: Chaeronda, Aspledon,
Holmones, and Hyettus, of Orchomenus: Siphae, Leuktra, Keressua
and Thisbe, of 'Thespiae. Certain generals or magistrates called
Bceotarchs were chosen annually to manage the common affairs of
the confederation. At the time of the battle of Delium in the
Pelopounesian war, they were eleven in number, two of them from
Thebes; but whether this number was always maintained, or in what
proportions the choice was made by the different cities, we find no
distinct information. There were likewise during the Peloponnesian
war four different senates, with whom the Boeotarchs consulted on
matters of importance; a curious arrangement, of which we have no
explanation. Lastly, there was the general concilium ahd religious
festival— the Pamlxiotia — held periodically at Koroneia. Such were
the forms, as far as we can make them out, of the Boeotian confederacy ;
each of the separate cities possessing its own senate and constitution,
and having its political consciousness as an autonomous unit, yet with
a certain habitual deference to tlje federal obligations. Substantially,
the affairs of the confederation will be found in the hands of Thebes,
managed in the interests of Thebjm ascendency, which appears to
have been sustained liy no other feeling except respect for superior
force and bravery. The discontents of the minor Boeotian towns,
harshly repressed and punished, form an uninviting chapter in
Grecian history.

One piece of information we find respecting Thebes singly and
apart from the other Boeotian towns, anterioi'to the year 700 b.c.
Though brief and incompletely recorded, it is yet highly valuable as
one of the first incidents of solid and positive Grecian histor}'.
Diokles the Corinthian stands enrolled as Olympic victor in the 18th
Olympiad, or 728 B.C., at a time when the oligarchy called Bacchi-
iadae possessed the government of Corinth. The beauty of his person
attracted toward him the attachment of Philolau.;, one of the mem-
bers of this oligarchial body — a sentiment which Grecian manners
did not proscribe; but it also provo*ked an incen^tuous passion on the
part of his own mother Halkyone, from which Diokles shrunk with
hatred and horror. He abandoned forever his native city and retired
to Thebes, whither he was followed by Philolaus, and where both
of them lived and died. Their tombs were yet shown in the time of
Aristotle, close adjoining to each other, yet with an opposite front-
age; that of Philolaus being so placed that the inmate could com-
mand a view of the lofty peak of his native city, while that of
Diokles was so disposed as to block out all prospect of the hateful
spot. That which preserves to us the memory of so remarkable an

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incident is the esteem entertained for Pbilolaus by the Thebans — ^a
feeling so pronounced that the^ invited him to maKe laws for them.
We shall have occasion to pomt out one or two similar cases in
which Grecian cities invoked the aid of an intelligent stranger; and
the practice became common, among the Italian republics in the
middle ages, to nominate a person not belonging to their city either
as podesta or as arbitrator in civil dissensions. It would have been
highly interesting to know at length what laws Pbilolaus made for
the Thebans; but Aristotle, with his usual conciseness, merely
alludes to his regulations respecting the adoption of children and
respecting the multiplication of offspring in each separate family.
His laws were framed with a view to maintain the original number
of lots of land, without either subdivision or consolidation ; but by
what means the puipose was to be fulfilled we are not informea.
There existed a law at Thebes, which perhaps may have been part
of the scheme of Pbilolaus, prohibiting exposure of children,
and empowering a father under the pressure of extreme poverty to
bring his newborn infant to the magistrates, who sold it for a price
to any citizen -purchaser — taking from him the obligation to bring it
up, but allowing him in return to consider the adult as his slave.
From these brief allusions, coming to us without accompanying
illustration, we can draw no other inference except that the j^eat
problem of population—the relation between the well-being of the
citizens and their more or less rapid increase in numbers — had en-
gaged the serious attention even of the earliest Grecian legislators.
We may, however, observe that the old Corinthian legislator Pheidon
(whose precise date cannot be fixed) is stated by Aristotle to have
contemplated much the same object as that which is ascribed to
Pbilolaus at Thebes; an unchangeable number both of citizens and
of lots of land, without any attempt to alter the imequal ^tio of the
lots, one to the other.



We now pass from the northern members to the heart and head
of Greece — Peloponnesus and Attica, taking the former first in
order, and giving as much as can be ascertained respecting its early
historical phenomena.

The traveler who entered Peloponnesus from Boeotia during the
youthful days of Herodotus ana Thucydides, found an array of
powerful Doric cities conterminous to each other, and beginning at

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the Isthmus of Corinth. First came Megara, stretching across the
isthmus from sea to sea, and occupying the high and rugged moun«
tain-ridge called G^eraneia: next Corinth, with its strong and conspic-
uous acropolis, and its territory including Mount Oneion as well as
the portion of the isthmus at once most level and narrowest, which
divided its two harbors called Lechaeum and Kenchrese. Westward
of Corinth, along the Corinthian gulf, stood Sikyon, with a plain of
uncommon fertility between the two towns: southward of Sikyon
and Corinth were Fhhus aod Kleonse, both conterminous, as well as
Corinth, with Argos ^nd the Argolic peninsula. The inmoist bend
6i the Argolic gulf, including a considerable space of flat and marshy
ground adjoining to the sea, was possessed by Argos; the Argolic
peninsula was divided by Argos with the Doric cities of Epidaurus
and Troe^ien, and the Dryopian city of Hermione, the latter possess-
ing the south-western corner. Proceeding southward along the
western coast of the gulf, and passing over the little river called
Tanos the traveler found himself in the dominion of Sparta, which
comprised the entire southern region, of the peninsula from its east-
ern to its western sea, where the river Neda flows into the latter.
He first passed from Argos across the diflicult mountain range called
Pamon (which bounds to the west the southern portion of Argolis),
until he found himself in the valley of the river CEnus, which lie
followed until it joined the Eurotas. In the larger valley of the
Eurotas, far removed from the sea, and accessible only through the
most impracticable mountain roads, lay the five un walled, unadorned
adjoining villages, which bore collectively the formidable name of
Sparta. The whole valley of the Eurotas, from Skiritis and Bele-
minatis at the border of Arcadia, to the Laconian gulf— expanding
in several parts into fertile plain, especially near to its mouth, where"
the towns of G-ythium and Helos were found — belonged to Sparta;
together with the cold and high mountain range to the eastward
which projects into the promontory of Malea — and the still loftier
chain of Taygetus to the westward, which ends in the promontory of
Teenarus. On the other side of Taygetus, on the banks of the river
Pamisus, which there flows into the Messenian gulf, lay the plain of
Messene, the richest land in the peninsula. This plain had once
yielded its ample produce to the free Messenian Dorians, resident in
the towns of Stenyklerus and Andania. But in the time of which
we speak, the name of Messenians was borne only by a body of
brave but homeless exiles, whose restoration to the land of their
forefathers overpassed even the exile's proverbially sanguine hope.
Their land was confounded with the western portion of Laconia,
which reached in a south-westerly direction down to the extreme
point of Cape Akritas, and northward as far as the river Neda.

TlHxmghout his whole journey to the point last mentioned from
the borcfers of Bceotia and Megaris, the traveler would only step
from one Dorian state into another. But on crossing from the south

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to the north bank of the river Neda, at a point near to its mouth, he
would find himself out of Doric land altogether; first in the territory
called Triphylia — next in that of Pisa, or the Pisatid — thirdly in the
more spacious and powerful state called Elis; these three comprising
the coast-land of Peloponnesus from the mouth of the Neda to thnt
of the Larissus. The Triphylians, distributed into a number of smull
townships, the largest of which was Lepreon — and the Pisatans,
equally destitute of any centralizing city — had both at the period of
which we are now speaking, been conquered bv their more powerful
northern neigl\bors of Elis, who enjoyed the aayantage of a spacious
territory united under one government; the middle portion, called
the Hollow Elis, being for the most part fertile. The Eleians were a
section of uEtolian immigrants into Peloponnesus, but the Pisatans
and Triphylians had both been originally independent inhabitants of
the peninsula — the latter being aflSrmed to belong to the same race as
theMinyflB who had occupied the ante-Boeotian Orchomenus; both,
too, bore the ascendency of Elis with perpetual murmur and occa-
sional resistance.

Crossing the river Larissus, and pursuing the northern coast of
Peloponnesus south of the Corinthian gulf, the traveler would pass
into Achaia — a name which designated the narrow strip of level laad,
and the projecting spurs and declivities, between that gulf and the
northernmost mountains of the peninsula, Skollis, Erymanthus,
Aroania, Krathis, and the towering eminence called Kyllene.
Achaean cities—twelve in number at least, if not more — divided this
long strip of land among theni, from the mouth of the Larissus and
the north-western Cape Araxus on one side, to the western boundary
of the Sikyonian territory on the other. According to tlie accounts
of the ancient legends and the belief of Herodotus, this territory had
been once occupied by Ionian inhabitants, whom the Achaeans had

In making this journey the traveler would have finished the circuit
of Peloponnesus; but he would still have left untrodden the great
central region, inclosed between the territories just enumerated—
approaching nearest to the sea on the borders of Triphylia, but never
touching it anywhere. This region was Arcadia, possessed by inhalot-
ants who ai'e uniformly represented as all of one race, and all
aboriginal. It was high and bleak, full of wild mountain, rock,
and forest, and abounding, to a degree unusual even in Greece, with
those land-locked basins from whence the water finds only a subter-
raneous issue. It was distributed among a large number of distinct
villages and cities. Many of the village tribes, the Maenalii/ Pari^
hasii^ Azanes, etc., occupying the central and the western regions,
were numbered among the rudest of the Greeks; but along its eastern
frontier there were several Arcadian cities which ranked deservedly
among the more civilized Peloponnesians. Tegea, Mantineia, Orchot
menus, Stymphalus, Pheneus, possessed the whole eastern frontier of

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Arcadia from the borders of Laconia to those of Sykion and Pellene
in Achaia: Phigaleia at the south-westera corner, near the borders
of Triphylia» and Heraea on th^ north bank of the Alpheius, near the
place where that river quits Arcadia to enter ilie Pisatis, were also
towns deserving of notice. Toward the north of this cold and
tliinly-peopled region, near Pheneos, was situated the small town
of Nonakris, adjoining to wliich rose the hardly accessible crags
where therivulet of Styx flowed down — a point of common feeling for
all Arcadians, from the terrific sanction which this water was under-
stood to impart to their oaths.

The distribution of Peloponnesus here sketched, suitable to the
Persian invasion and the succeeding half century, may also be said
(with some allowances) to be adapted to the whole interval between
about B.c 560-370; from the time of the conquest of Thyreatis by
Sparta to the battle of Leuktra. But it is not the earliest distribution
which history presents to us. Not presuming to criticise the Homeric
map of Peloponnesus, and going back only to 776 B.C., we find this
material difference — that Sparta occupies only a very small fraction
of the large territory above described as belonging to her. Westward
of the summit of Mount Taygetus are found another section of
Dorians, independent of Sparta — the Messenian Dorians, whose city
is on the hill of Stenyklerus, near the south-western boundary of
Arcadia, and whose possessions cover the fertile plain of Messene
along the river Pamisus to its mouth in the Messenian gulf: it is to .
be noted that Messene was then the name of the plain generally, and
that no town so called existed until after the battle of Leuktra.
Again, eastward of the valley of the Eurotas, the mountainous
region and the western shores of the Argolic gulf down to Cape
Malea are also independent of Sparta; belonging to Argos, or ratber
to Dorian towns in union with Argos. All the great Dorian towns,
from the borders of the Megarid to the eastern frontier of Arcadia,
as above enumerated, appear to have existed in 776 B.C.; Achaia
was in the same condition, so far as we are able to judge, as well as
Arcadia, except in regard to its southern frontier conterminous with
Sparta, of which more will hereafter be said. In respect to the western
portion of Peloponnesus, Elis (properly so called) appears to have em-
braced the same ten-itory in 776 b.c. as in 550 B.C. : but the Pisatid had
been receudy conquered, and was yet imperfectly subjected by the
Eleians; while Triphvlia seems to have been quite independent of«
them. Respecting the south-western promontory of Peloponnesus!
down to Cape Akritas, we are altogether without positive informal
tion; reasons will hereafter be given for believing that it did not at
that time form part of the territory of Messenian Dorians.

Of the different races or people whom Herodotus knew in Pelopon-
nesus, he believe'd three to be original — the Arcadians, the Achseans,
and the Kjrnurians. The Achaeans, though belonging indigenously
to the peninsula, had yet removed from the southern portion of it to

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the northern, expelling the previous Ionian tenants: this is a part of
the legend respecting the Dorian conquest or return of the Herak-
leids, and we can neither verify nor contradict it. But neither the
Arcadians not the Kynurians had ever clianged their abodes. Of tlio
latter I have not before spoken, because tliey were never (so far as
history knows them) an independent population. They occupied
the larger portion of the territory of Argolis, from the Omese, near
the northern or Phliasian border, to Thyrea and the Thyreatis, on
the Laconian border; and though belonging originally (as 'Herodotns
imagines rather than asserts) to the Ionic race, they had been so
long subjects of Argos in his time that almost all evidence of their
ante-Dorian condition had vanished.

But the great Dorian states in Peloponnesus — ^the capital povrets
in the peninsula — were all originally immigrants according to the
belief not only of Herodotus, but of all the Grecian world; so also
were the .^tolians of Elis, the Triphylians, and the Dryopes at
Hermione and Asine. All these immigrations are so described as to
give them a root in the Grecian legendary world: the Triphylians
are traced back to Lemnos, as the offspring of the Argonautic heroes,
and we are too uniform about them to venture upon any historical
guesses. But respecting the Dorians, it may perhaps be possible, by
examining the first historical situation in which they are presented
to us, to offer some conjectures as to the probable circumstances
under which they arrived. The legendary narrative of it baa
already been given in the first chapter of this volume — that gi*eat
mythical event called the Return of the Children of Herakles, by
which the first establishment of the Dorians in the promised land of
Peloponnesus was explained to the full satisfaction of Grecian faith.
One single armament and expedition, acting by the special direction
of the Dephian god, and conducted by three brothers, lineal descend-
ants of the principal Achaeo-Dorian hero through Hyllus (the epony-
mus of the principal tribe); the national heroes of the pre-existing
population vanquished and expelled, and the greater part of the
peninsula both acquired and partitioned at a stroke; the circumstances
of the partition adjusted to the historical relations of Laconia and
Messenia; the friendly power of ^tolian Elis, with its Olympic
games as the bond of union in Peloponnesus, attached to this event
as an appendage in the person of Oxylus — all these particulars confi-
pose a narrative well calculated to impress the retrospective imagina-
tion of a Greek. They exhibit an epical fitness and sufficiency wiiich
it would be unseasonable to impair by historical criticism.

The Alexandrine chronology sets down a period of 828 years
from the return of the Herakleids to the first Olympiad (1104-776
B.C.), a period measured by the lists of the kings of Sparta, on the
trustworthiness of which some remarks have already been offered.
Of these S2S years, the first 250, at the least, are altogether barren of
facts; and even if we admitted them to be historical, we should have

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nothing to recount except a succession of royal names. Being unable
either to guarantee the entire list, or to discover any valid test for
discriminating the historical and the non-historioal items, I here
enumenue the Laceda>monian kings as they appear in Mr. Clinton's
Fasti Hellenici. There were two joint kings at Sparta, throughout
nearly all the historical time of independent Greece, deducing their
descent from Herakles through Eurysthenes and Prokles, the twin
sons of Aristodemus; the latter being one of those three Herakleid
brothers^ to whom the conquest of the peninsula is ascribed:


Line of Ewrysthenea. Line of Inkles.
XuiTS&enes reigned 43 years. Frokles reignedSl years.

,,„ 31 " Sous.

l^estratus " 35 " Eurypon

Labotas " 37 " Prytauis

Doryssug *• )&9 ** Eunomus

.^eailaus. " 44 " diftrilaus

Archelaiw " ao " Nlkander

Ilefeklus " 40 ** Theopompus.

AUouneneB. . . .^ ** 10 *'


Both Theopompus and Alkamenes reigned considerably longer,
but the chronolo^sts affirm that the year 776 b.c (or the flrst Olym-
piad) occurred in the tenth year of each of their reigns. It is
^lecessai-y to add, with regard to this list, that there are some material
discrepancies between different authors even as to the names of indi-
yidual kings,and still more as to the duration of their i*eigns, as may
be seen both in Mr. Clinton's chronology and in Mttller's Appendix to
the History of the Dorians. The alleged sum total cannot be made
to agree with the items without great license of conjecture. O.^
Mailer obsei*ves, in reference to this Alexandrine chronology, "that
our materials only enable us to restore it to its original state, not to
verify its correctness." In point of fact they are insufficient even
for the former purpose, as the dissensions among learned critics

We have a succession of names, still more barren of facts, in the
case of the Dorian sovereigns of Corinth. This city had its own line
of Herakleids, descended from Herakles, but not through Hyllus.
Hippotes, the progenitor of the Corinthian Herakleids, was reported
in the legend to have originally joined the Dorian invaders of the
Peloponnesus, but to have quitted them in consequence of having
slain the prophet Karnus. The three brothers, wlien they became
masters of the peninsula, sent for Aletes, the son of Hippotes, and
placed him in possession of Corinth, over which the chronologists
make him begin to reign thirty years after the Herakleid conquest.
His successors are thus giyeq;

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Aletep reigned 88 yeara.














Such was the celebrity of Bacchis, we are told, that those who
succeeded him took the name of Bacchiads in place of Aletla^
or Herakleids, One vear after the accession of Automenes, tlie
famiiy of the Bacchiads generally, amounting to 200 persons, det^-
mined to abolish royalty, to constitute themselves a standing o^
garchy, and to elect out of their own number an annual prytittuft
Thus commenced the oligarchy of the Bacchiads, which lasted for
ninety years, until it was subverted by Eypselus in 657 b.c. Reckoa-
ing the thirty years previous to the beginning of the reign of Aletes,
the chroDologists thus provide an interval of 447 years between the
return of the Herakleids and the accession of Kypselus, and 357 yc»rg
between the same period and the commencement of the Bacobiid
oligarchy. The Bacchind oligarchy is unquestionably historical ; the
conquest of the Herakleids belongs to the legendary world; while (lie
interval between the two is filled up, as in so many other cases, by a
mere barren genealogy.

When we jump this vacant space, and place ourselves at the fifSt
opening of history, we find that although ultimately Sparta came to
hold the first place, not only in Peloponnesus, but m all Hellas, this
was not the case at the earliest moment of which we have historical
cognizance. Argos, and the neighboring towns connected with her
by a bond of semi-religious, semi-political union — Sikyon, Phlius,
Epidaurus, and Troezen— were at first of greater power and consider-
ation than Sparta; a fact which the legend of the Herakleids seems
to recognize by making Temenus the eldest brother of the three.
And Herodotus assures us that at one time all the eastern coast of
Peloponnesus down to Cape Malea, including the island of Kythers,
all which came afterward to constitute a material part of Lacouia,

Online LibraryGeorge GroteA history of Greece from the earliest period to the close of the ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 54 of 98)