George Grote.

A history of Greece: from the earliest period to the close of the generation contemporary with Alexander the Great online

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The reader will find the fullest in-
formation about these ceremonies in
the Bleuginia^ forming the first treatise
In the work of Lobeck called Aglao-
phamus ; and in the Dissertation called
matsinia, in K. O. MfUler's Kleine
Schriften, vol. ii. p. 242, «0oo.

» Diodftr. xiil. 6.

* We shall find theee sacred familiea

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And the enemies of Alkibiad^ personal as well as political^
found the opportunity favourable for reviving that chaiige
against him which they had artfully suffered to drop before
his departure to Sicily. The matter of fact alleged against
him — the mock-celebration of these holy ceremonies — was
not only in itself probable, but proved by reasonably good
testimony against him and some of his intimate companions^
Moreover, the overbearing insolence of demeanour habitual with
Alkibiadfis, so glaringly at variance with the equal restraints of
-democracy, enabled his enemies to impute to him not only
irreligious acts, but anti-constitutional purposes : an association
of ideas which was at this moment the more easily accredited,
since his divulgation and parody of the mysteries did not stand
alone, but was interpreted in conjunction with the recent
anutilation of the Hermos — as a manifestation of the same anti-
patriotic and irreligious feeling, if not part and parcel of the
same treasonable scheme. And the alarm on this subject was
now renewed by the appearance of a Lacedeemonian army at the
isthmus, professing to contemplate some enterprise in conjunction
-with the Boeotians— a purpose not easy to understand, and
presenting every appearance of being a cloak for hostile designs
against Athens. So fully was this believed among the Athenians,
that they took arms, and remained under arms one whole night in
the sacred precinct oi the Theseium. No enemy indeed appeared,
•either without or within j but the conspiracy had only been
prevented from breaking out (so they imagined) by the recent
inquiries and detection. Moreover the party in Argos connected
with Alkibiad^ were just at this time suspected of a plot for the
subversion of their own democracy, which still further aggra-
vated the presumptions against him, while it induced the
Athenians to give up to the Argeian democratical government
the oligarchical hostages taken from that town a few months
before,^ in order that it might put those hostages to death,
whenever it thought fit

Such incidents materially aided the enemies of Alkibiad^ in
their unremitting efforts to procure his recal and condemnation.
Among them were men very different in station and temper :

hereafter to be the most obstinate in banishment (Thacyd. Tiii. 68)i
opposing Uie return of Alkibiadte from i Thucyd. tL 53-^.

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Tbenftlns, ton of Eimdn, a man of the highest lineage and of
hereditarj oligarchical politics— as well as Androkles, a leading
demagogue or popular orator. It was the former who preferred
against him in the senate the memorable iuipeachment which^
fortunately for our information, is recorded verbatim.

**The88alus son of Kimdn, of the Deme Lakiadae, hath
impeached AlkibiadSs son of Eleinias, of the Deme indictment
Skambdnidte, as guilty of crime in regard to the Two P'^'^***
goddesses DSmStSr and PersephonS — in mimicking ■alus, mb

-: ^Ji *-v:u:*: «i *^ v: : of Kimdn.

the mysteries and exhibiting them to his companions gainst


m his own house — wearing the costume of the «Aikibiad«s.

Hierophant — applying to himself the name of Hierophant ; to

Polytidn, that of Daduch ; to Theod6ru8, that of Herald — and

addressing his remaining companions as Mysts and Epopts ; all

contrary to the sacred customs and canons, of old established by

the Eumolpids, the Kerykes, and the Eleusinian priests."^

Similar impeachments being at the same time presented against

other citizens now serving in Sicily along with Alki-

biad^ the accusers moved that he and the rest might

be sent for to come home and take their trial. We

may observe that the indictment against him is quite

distinct and special, making no allusion to any

supposed treasonable or anti-constitutional projects.

however these suspicions were pressed by his enemies in their

preliminary speeches, for the pui-pose of inducing the Athenians

to remove him from the command of the army forthwith, and

send for him home. For such a step it was indispensable that a

strong case should be made out ; but the public was at length

thoroughly brought round, and the Salaminian trireme was

despatched to Sicily to fetch him. Great care however was

taken, in sending this summons, to avoid all appearance of

prejudgment, or harshness, or menace. The tricrarch was

forbidden to seize his person, and had instructions to invite him

simply to accompany the Salaminian home in his own trireme ;

to send for
home from
icily to be


iphitaTCh. AlUb. e. SS. e^<r^«Ao«
Kfimroy AmKiihiit ' AXxifiiiiifv^ KKuvioy
Icait^rtAav •S^yyctA«y i6uctlv v«pt rm

patipM¥99 rk ittV9Ti|pia, K«t dtucvvorra
To«« «rr«« kniip^tv «r t^ oIkL^ rg iavrou.

ituanki rk itpk, koa hvofidCotrra ainhr
Ikkv tepo^ttFTi}!', tkokvrimva Si B^ioixoK,
lajfiVKa 6i 0<o5*»por ^rjy94a' rovf F
aAAovc rraipovf , fiv<rr«c wpovayoptvoirra
Koi iw6wra%^ wapk rk roftxiii^ <«4 rk
K*$9(miK6ra vn6 r* Evftokniimv kox in|pij-
mar ««i rwr Upimw riuf ii 'Ektwi^ot.

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BO as to avoid tbe hazard of offending the Argeian and Manti-
neian allies serving in Sicily, or the army itself.^

It was on the return of the Athenian army — from their nnsuc-
Alklbiadte cessful attempt at Kamarina, to their previous quarters
quits the at Eatana — that they found the Salaminian trireme
come home : newly arrived from Athens with this grave requisition
JJjJ^ ^ against the general We may be sure that Alkibiad^
Thurii, and received private intimation from his friends at Athens,
Peiopun- by the same trireme, communicating to him the temper
nteuB. ^|r ^g people; so that his resolution was spee«.lily

taken. Professing to obey, he departed in his own trireme on the
voyage homeward, along with the other jtersons accused, the
Salaminian trireme being in company. But as soon as they
arrived ..!; Thurii in coasting along Italy, he and his companions
quitted the vessel and disappeared. After a fruitless search on
the part of the Salaminian trierarch, the two triremes were obliged
to return to Athens without him. Both Alkibiadte and the rest
of the accused (one of whom' was his own cousin and namesake)
were tried, condemned to death on non-appearance, and theii
property confiscated ; while the £umolpid8e and the other
Eleusinian sacred families pronounced him to be accursed by the
gods, for his desecration of the mysteries,' and recorded the
condemnation on a plate of lead.

Probably his disappearance and exile were acceptable to his
enemies at Athens : at any rate, they thus made sure of getting
rid of him ; while, had he come back, his condemnation to death,
though pi ')able, could not be regarded as certain. In considering
the conduct of the Athenians towards Alkibiades, we have to
remark that the people were guilty of no act of injup^ice. He
had committed— at least there was fair reason for believing that
he had committed — an act criminal in the estimation of evtiy
Greek— the divulgation and prulanation of the mysteries. This
act— alleged against him in the indictment very distinctly,

1 Thucjrd. ▼{. 61. mntiny in the army at Katana had he

1 v^n/^nhAn tToii^kn 19 19 chosen to resfst the order for coming

« Xenophftn, Hellen. i 2. 18. ^^^^ 3^^ ^^^ j^ ^^^^^ improbabli

s Thucyd. ri. 61 ; Plntarch, Alkib. Considerinff what his oondacl became

c. %f~3S ; Lysias, Orat Ti. cont. Ando- immodiately afterwards, we shall see

kid. sect 42. good reason to believe that he would

Plutarch says that it wonld have nave taken this step had it been piac-

been easy for Alkibiadto to raise a ticable.

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4iTe9te(l of all supposed ulterior purpose, treasonable or otherwise
— was legally punishable at Athens, and was uniTeraallj accounted
guilty in public estimation, as an offence at once against the
religious sentiment of the people and against the public safety,
by offending the Two goddesses (DcmSter and PersephonS), and
driving them to withdraw their favour and protection. The same
demand for legal punishment would have been supposed to exist
in a Christian Catholic country, down to a very recent period of
history — if instead of the Eleusinian mysteries we suppone the
Sacrifice of the Mass to have been the ceremony ridiculed ; though
such a proceeding would involve no breach of obligation to secrecy.
Nor ought we to judge what would have been the measure of
penalty formerly awarded to a person convicted of such an offence,
by consulting the tendency of penal legislation during the last
sixty years. Even down to the last century it would have been
visited with something sharper than the draught of hemlock,
which is the worst that could possibly have befallen Alkibiadle
at Athens — as we may see by the condemnation and execution of
the Chevalier de la Barre at Abbeville in 1766. The uniform
tendency of Christian legislation,^ down to a recent period, leaves

iTo appredata fairlr tbe violent
emotion raised at Athens by the
mutilation of tbe Hemue and by the
profanation of the Mysteries, it is
■eoesBaiy to consider the wav in which
anolof ous acts of sacril^ have been
▼iewed in Christian and Catholic penal
legislation, eren down to the time of
toe first Fiench BaTolution.

I transcribe the following extract
from a work of authority on French
criminal jnrispnidence -Jousu. Traits
<k U Josdoe Criminelle, Paris, 1771,
part iT. tit. 27, roL ilL p. 672 :—

" Da Crime de Ltee-Majest^ Dirine.
— Les Crimes de Ldze-Majest^ Divine,
sent ceux qui attaqnent Dieu imm^-
diateioent, et qu'on doit regarder par
estte raison comme les plus atroces et
les plus ezterables.—!^ Majesty de
Dkm pent Atre offense de plnsieurs
maiB^ras.~l. En niant I'existence de
Dieo. 2. Parle crime deoeuzqaiatten-
tent directement contre la DiTinit^ :
comme qnand on profane on qn'on
foole SOX pieds les saiutes Hosties;
on qa'on/romx Ut Imagu de Dieu dans
)e deswin de linsuUer. (Test ce qu'on
appelle Crime de Um-MaJuU JHvint mu

Again In the same work, part It.
tit 46, n. 6, 8, 10, 11, vol. It. pp. 07—

** La profcauaUm de» Saeremeiu et du
MfUru de la JUligion «$t un •aeriliat
de* plu$ execrable*. Tel est le crime de
ceux qui emploient lea choees sacr^es
k des usages oommuns et mauvais, en
division M Mytteru: ceux qui »ro-
faiunt U tfoinU Bucharittie, on qui en
abusent en qnelque maniire one ce
soit : ceux qui, en m^pris de la Religion,
profanent les Fonts-fiantismaux ; qui
Jettent par terre les salntes Uosties,
on qui les emploient k des usages vils
et profanes ; ceux qui^ en d^neion de ho$
taerie Mffetiree, le* corUr^bnt daju leur*
debauchee ; ceux qui jYappent^ mutiUiU,
abalUnt, le* Image* contacrie* d Dieu, ou
d la SaifUe VitraCt <m aux Saint*, en
m^pris de la Religion ; et enfln. tous
ceux qui commettent de semblablea
impietcs. Tons ces crimes *ont de*
crime* de L^-Ma^ti divine au premier
cht,i\ parce qu'ils s'attaquent imme-
diatement k Dieu, et ne se font k
aocnn dessein que de I'offenser."

'* . . . La peine du Sacril^, par
rAncien Testament, ^toit ceUe du
feu, et d'dtre lapid^. — Par les Loix

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no room for reproaching the Athenianb with excessive cruelty in
their penal visitation of offences against the religions sentiment
On the contrary, the Athenians are distinguished for comparative
mildness and tolerance, as we shall find various opportunities for

Now in reviewing the conduct of the Athenians towards
Condnctof Alkibiades, we must consider that this violation of
the Athe. the mysteries, of which he was indicted in good legal
in reference form, was an action for which he really deserved
adte^^hdw punishment— il any one deserved it. Even his enemies
'•ji>iMQ©- did not fabricate this charge, or impute it to him
duct of his falsely; though they were guilty of insidious and
•nemies. unprincipled manoeuvres to exasperate the public
mind against him. Their machinations begin with the mutilatios
of the Hermse : an act of new and unpai-alleled wickedness, to-
which historians of Greece seldom do justice. It was not, like the
violations of the mysteries, a piece of indecent pastime committed
within four walls, and never intended to become known. It waa
an outrage essentially public, planned and executed by conspirators
for the deliberate purpose of lacerating the religious mind of
Athens, and turning the prevalent terror and distraction ta
political profit Thus much is certain ; though we cannot be
sure who the conspirators were, nor what was their exact or
special purpose. That the destruction of Alkibiadls was one of
the direct purposes of the conspirators is highly probable. But
his enemies, even if they were not among the original authors, at
least took upon themselves half the guilt of the proceeding, by
making it the basis of treacherous machinations against his person.
How their scheme, which was originally contrived to destroy him
before the expedition departed, at first failed, was then artfully

Bomaines, lee ooupables ^toient eon- et profanes, la peine est le fen, Famende^

damn^s an f er, au feu, et auz b^tes honomble, et le poing ooup^ U en est

faroQchee, soiTant les oirconstances.— de mdme de cenx qnl profanent les

En France, la peine du sacril^e est VoBtB'Ba,i)t\smaMx:etuzqui,endirui<m

arbitraire, et depend de la qaal!t6 et de noB id^tera, $'en moqueru ft U$

des circonstances du crime, du lieu, du emUr^ont dana leur$ dAaudua: ila

temps, et de la quality de I'aocus^.— doivent 6tre punis de peine capltale,

Dans U taeriligt au premier ehtf, qui parce que ces crimes attaquent imm^

aOaque la DiviniU. ta SawU Vierge, et dlatement la DiTlnit^."
les SaintM, ▼. g. k regard de ceux qui M. Jousse proceeds to dta several

fonlentanzpied8les8aintesHo6ties,on examples of persons condemned to

qui les Jettent k terre, ou en abusent, death for acts of sacrilege, of tha

et qui les emploient k des usages Tils nature above described.

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dropped, and at length effectually revived, after a long train of
calumny against the absent general, has been already recounted.
It is among the darkest chapters of Athenian political history,
indicating, on the part of the people, strong religious excitability,
without any injustice towards Alkibiadds ; but indicating, on
the part of his enemies, as well as of the Hermokopids generaUy,
a depth of wicked contrivance rarely paralleled in political war-
iare. Xt is to these men, not to the people, that Alkibiad^ owes
his expulsion, aided indeed by the effect of his own previous
character. In regard to the Hermie, the Athenians condemned
to death — after and by consequence of the deposition of Andokidds
—a small number of men who may perhaps have been innocent
victims, but whom they sincerely believed to be guilty ; and
whose death not only tranquillized comparatively the public
mind, but served as the only means of rescue to a far larger
nomber of prisoners confined on suspicion. In regard to Alki-
biadls, they came to no collective resolution, except that of
recalling him to take his trial * a resolution implying no wrong
in those who voted for it, whatever may be the guilt of those who
proposed and prepared it by perfidious means.^

* The proceedings in Bngland In same time, no one knew what these

IflTS and 1079, in oonsequence of the objects were, nor who the oonspirators

ptetended Popish Plot, hare been themselves were,
alluded to by varions authors, and If, before the mntilation of the

xeeentlT by Dr. Thirlwall, as affording Hemue, a man like Gates had pre-

an analogy to that which occurred at tended to reveal to the Athenian

Athens after the mntilation of the people a fabricated plot implicating

Herms. Bnt there are many material Alkibiadds and others, he would hare

differences, and all, so far as I can found no credence. It was not untU

peroeiTe. to the advantage of Athens, after, and bv reason of that terror-

The *^heUiKh and damnable plot of striking incident, that the Athenians
the Popish Remsants" (to adopt the began to give crodence to informers,
words of the Houses of Lords and And we are to recoUect that they did
Commons— see Dr. Lingard's History not put any one to death on the
of England, voL xUi. ch. ▼. p. 88— evidence of these informers. They
words the like of which were doubt- contented themselves with imprisoning
less employed at Athens in reference on suspicion until they s:ot the con-
to the Hermokopids) was baseless, fession and deposition of Andokidte.
Bendadotts, and incredible from the Those implicated in that deposition
beginning. It started from no real were condemned to death. Now
fact : the whole of it was a tissue of Andokidds, as a witness, deserves bul
^tefaoods and fabrications proceeding very qualified confidence; yet it is
from Gates, Bedloe, and a few other impossible to degrade him to the same
infomers of the worst character. level even as Teukrus or Diokleid^a—

At AUiens, there was unquestion- much less to that of Gates and Bedloe.

i^blv a plot: the Hermokopids were We cannot wonder that the people

leal coospiratoTS, not few in number, trusted him— and nnder the peculiar

No one could doubt that they con- circumstances of the case, it was the

*pirod for other objects besides the least evil that they should trust him.

aratUation of the HennsB. At the The witnesses upon whose testimony
. 6—4

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Past 1L

In order to appreciate the desperate hatred with which the
exile Alkibiad^ afterwards revenged himself on his country-
men, it has been necessary to explain to what extent he had jnst
ground of complaint against them. On being informed that they

oredaUty than the deliberate wicked-
neas of planning and assiiting in the
perpetration of legal mnrdur: yet tlw
proceedings on the Popish Plot mnal
always be considered as an indelible
ilisgntoe npon the English nation, in
which king, parliament, judges, jorles,
witnesses, prosecutors, nave all their
respective, though certainly not equal,
shares. Witnesses of such a character
as not to deserve credit in the most
trifling cause, upon the most immaterial
facts, gave evidence so incredible, or,

the prisoners under the Popish Plot
were condenmed were even inferior
to Teukrus and Diokleidte in presump-
tive credibility.

The Athenian people have been
censured for their folly in believing the
democratical oonstitntion in danger,
because the Hermn had been muti-
lated. I have endeavoured to show
that, looUns to their religious ideas,
the thread of connexion between these
two ideas is perfectly explicable. And
why are we to quarrel with the
Athenians because ther took arms
and put themselves on their guard when
a Lacedaemonian or a Boeotian armed
force was actually on their frontier?

As for the condemnation of Alki-
biadte and others for profaning and
divulging the Eleusinian mysteries,
these are not for a moment to be put
upon a level with the condemnations
in the Popish Plot. These were true
charges : at least there is strong pre-
sumptive reason for believing that
they were true. Persons were oou-
vioMd and punished for having done
acts which they reaUy had done, and
which thev knew to be legal crimes.
Whether it be right to oonstituta such
acts legal crimes or not ia another

Juestion. The enormity of the Popish
lot consisted in punishing persons for
acts which they had not done, and
upon depositions of the most lying and
worthless witnesses.

The state of mind into which the
Athenians were driven after the cutting
of the Hemue was indeed very analo-
gous to that of the English neople
during the circulation of the Popmh
Plot The suffering, terror, and dis-
traction I apprehend to have been
even greater at Athens ; but while the
cause of it was grarer and more real,
nevertheless the active injustice which
it produced was far less than in

Mr. Fox observes, in reference to
the Popish Plot— History of James IL,
ch. Ljp.88:—

"Although, upon a review of this
tml/ shocking transaction, we may be
fairfy Justified in adopting the milder
alternative, and in imputing to the
greater part of those concerned in it
rather an extnMndlnaiy degree of blind

to speak more properly, so impossible
to be true, that it ought not to have
been believed even if it had come from
the mouth of Cato: and upon such
evidence, from such witnesses, were
innocent men condemned to death
and executed. Prosecutors, whether
attorneys and solicitors - general, or
managers of impeachment, acted with
the fury which in such drcumstanoes
might be expected: juries partook
naturally enough of the niational
ferment: and ^dges, whose duty it
was to guard them against sodi
impressions, were scandalously active
in confirming them in their prc|)udices
and inflaming their passions?*

I have siuMtituted the preceding
Quotation from Mr. Fox. in place of
that from Dr. Lingard, which stood in
my first edition. On such a point, it
has been remarked that the latter
might seem a partial witness, thou^
in reali^ his judgment is novray more
severe than that of Hume, or BIr. Fox,
or Lord Macaulay.

It is to be noted that the House of
Lords, both acting as a legislative
body, and in their Judicial character
when the Catholic Lord Stafford was
tried before them (Lingard, Hist BngL
ch. vi. pp. 281—241), displayed a degree
of prejudice and injustice quite equal
to that of the Judges and juries in the

Both the English Judicature on this
occasion, and the Milanese judicature
on the occasion adverted to in a
previous note, were more corrupted
and driven to greater ix^ustice by the
reigning prejudice than the purely
popular Inkasteiy of Athens m the
afilair of the Hemue, and of the other

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had condemned him to death in his aheence, he is said to have
exclaimed — **! shall show them that I am alive''. He fally
redeemed his word.'

The lecal and consequent bamshment of Alkibiadte was mis-
chievons to Athens in several ways. It transferred uj^jj^^^
to the enemy's camp an angry exile, to make known Athoufroiu
her weak points, and to roose the sluggislinesR of mentof^^
Sparta. It offended a portion of the Sicilian arma- ^SlSd**'
ment — most of all probably the Argeians and Manti- MMrati<ms
neians — and slackened their zeal in the cause.' And S^miuma^
what was worst of all, it left the armament altogether SJ^S^'^*'
under the paralyzing command of Nikias. For
Lamachus, though still equal in nominal authority, and now
invested with the command of one-half instead of one-third of
the army, appears to have had no real influence except in the
field, or in the actual execution of that which his colleague had
already resolved.

The armament now proceeded — as Nikias had first suggested—
to sail round from Katana to Selinus and Egesta. It was his
purpose to investigate the quarrel between the two as well as the
financial means of the latter. Passing through the strait and
along the north coast of the island, he first touched at Himera,
wh^e admittance was refused to him ; he next captured a
Sikanian maritime town named Hykkara, together with many
prisoners: among them the celebrated courtezan LaYs, then a
very young girL* Having handed over this place to the
Egestssans, Nikias went in person to inspect their city and
condition ; but could obtain no more money than the thirty
talents which had been before announced on the second visit of
the commissioners. He then restored the prisoners from Hykkara
to their Sikanian countrymen, receiving a ransom of 120 talents,*

1 PiQtarch, Alkfb. e. 2S. the prisonera were handed over to their

»^Thocyd- ii. fl6. rdL tc ir r^ orpa- fellow-countrymen, thenatnral persona

Online LibraryGeorge GroteA history of Greece: from the earliest period to the close of the generation contemporary with Alexander the Great → online text (page 8 of 62)