John Henry Wright.

Masterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; online

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Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 27 of 29)
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likely, or rather a necessary inference from what has
preceded, — that neither the uneducated and unin-
formed of the truth, nor yet those who never make an
end of their education, will be able ministers of State ;
not the former, because they have no single aim of
duty which is the rule of all their actions, private
as well as public ; nor the latter, because they will
not act at all except upon compulsion, fancying that
they are already dwelling apart in the islands of the

Very true, he replied.

^ Plato means : " If the soul should be freed from the tendencies
to the world oi change (the world of becoming-') which have become
attached to the soul by the pleasures of eating and drinking, and
hold it down like leaden weights," etc.


Then, I said, the business of us who are the found-
ers of the State will be to compel the best minds to
attain that knowledge which we have already shown
to be the greatest of all — they must continue to as-
cend until they arrive at the good ; but when they
have ascended and seen enough we must not allow
them to do as they do now.

What do you mean ?

I mean that they remain in the upper world ; but
this must not be allowed ; they must be made to de-
scend again among the prisoners in the den, and par-
take of their labors and honors, whether they are
worth having or not.

But is not this unjust ? he said ; ought we to give
them a worse life, when they might have a better ?

You have again forgotten, my friend, I said, the in-
tention of the legislator, who did not aim at making
any one class in the State happy above the rest ; the
happiness was to be in the whole State, and he held
the citizens together by persuasion and necessity,
making them benefactors of the State, and therefore
benefactors of one another ; to this end he created
them, not to please themselves, but to be his instru-
ments in binding up the State.


Demosthenes, the world's greatest orator, was born near
Athens, 384 b. c, probably in the same year as the philoso-
pher Aristotle, and two years before the birth of Philip of
Macedon, against whom many of his most important politi-
cal measures were directed. He died in 322 b. c, within
a month or two of Aristotle and a little more than a year
after the death of Philip's son, Alexander the Great.
When he was seven years of age his father died, leaving
his son and a still younger daughter, with considerable pro-
perty, to the care of guardians, who were unfaithful and
seem not only to have neglected the children's interests, but
also to have taken wrongful possession of much of their pro-
perty. Since Athenian law required that each suitor at law
should plead his own cause before the court, the young De-
mosthenes was forced to study and practice rhetoric and
law, in order to secure his rights from his guardians. His
success as an orator in these suits seems to have turned the
current of his life, and he appeared as a statesman before
the great assembly of the Athenian people when he was
thirty years of age.

In the conflict between free Greece and the king of
Macedon, Demosthenes was on the losing side, the side
of the lighter battalions, and the Macedonians prevailed.
Greece had been exhausted by the civil wars, which had
continued for nearly a century, in which its best blood had
been spilt. The younger generation was thoroughly demor-
alized. Union against the Persian invaders, near the open-
ing of the fifth century, had been glorious, but difficult : now
effective union against the Macedonians was impossible.


The chief Athenian leader of the pro-Macedonian party,
Demosthenes' ablest rival and opponent, was Aeschines.
In the spring of 336 B. c, a certain Ctesiphon had pro-
posed that a golden crown be awarded to Demosthenes for
his public services, and that this crown be proclaimed in the
theatre, at the great Dionysiac festival. Aeschines attacked
this measure as unconstitutional, and prosecuted Ctesiphon, in
whose defence, as well as in behalf of his own fame, Demos-
thenes delivered his Oration on the Crown, from which
these extracts are taken, — reviewing his whole public life
and policy. The case came to trial six years after the ac-
cusation, in August 330 b. c, before a court of at least five
hundred citizens. Many other Athenians, and Greeks from
other cities, were present, and the orator often speaks as if
he were addressing the whole body of his fellow citizens.
Aeschines received less than one fifth of the votes of the
court, and withdrew from Athens in humiliation.

The translation here used is that of the English states-
man. Lord Brougham, — himself an orator of no mean
power, but not wholly successful as a translator.

§§ 42-53.

I NOW return to the proof that the corruption and
profligacy of these men was the cause of our present

When you were circumvented by Philip through
those hirelings of his whom you had sent as ambassa-
dors, and who never made you any true report, and
when the miserable Phocians were also circumvented,
and had their cities razed to the ground,^ what fol-
lowed ? The despicable Thessalians and the senseless

1 In 346 B. 0.


Thebans looked upon Philip as their friend, bene-
factor, savior ; he was all in all with them : if any one
thought of saying anything to the contrary, not a
word would they hear. You, on the other hand,
though these transactions awakened your suspicions,
and caused some impatience, still kept the peace
(nor indeed could you help it, standing single as you
did) ; and the other Greeks, as well as you, cheated
and deluded in their hopes, strictly observed the
peace, though already in some sort attacked by Philip.
For when he was striding all around, subduing the
Illyrians and Triballians,^ and even some of the Greek
states ; when he was acquiring large accessions to his
power ; and when some persons under cover of the
peace were proceeding from different- cities on a visit
to be corrupted by him, Aeschines among the rest, —
then I maintain that all the powers against whom
he was making such preparations were actually at-
tacked. If they did not themselves perceive it, that
is another thing, and no concern of mine, for I fore-
told it, and testified to it both here to you, and wher-
ever else I was sent as ambassador. But all the
states were infatuated, and while the ministers and
magistrates of some were corrupted and bought with
a price, in others neither individuals nor the people
showed any provident circumspection, but all were
taken with the ephemeral bait of indolence and ease,
and all the states became so stricken with infatuation
as to believe that nothing could befall themselves, but
that they could work out their own safety by other
people's perils. It thus came to pass, as I conceive,
that the people lost their independence through ex-
treme and inopportune sloth, while the leading men,

^ A Thracian people ; see page 276. In 345 b. c.


and they who designed to sell everything but them-
selves, were found to have sold themselves first of all.
Instead of friends and guests, names which they pro-
stituted for lucre of gain, they must now be content
to hear themselves called parasites, persons accursed,
and whatever else fits them best. And justly! For
no one, Athenians, when he bribes ever looks to the
benefit of the traitor ; nor, when once possessed of
the bribe-worthy service, do we ever after trust the
traitor. If we did, nothing could be more fortunate
than the traitor's position. But it is not so by any
means. How should it be ? It is quite the reverse.
No sooner has an ambitious usurper accomplished his
purpose than he becomes master of those who have sold
their country ; and, thoroughly acquainted with their
villainy, he detests them, and distrusts them, and loads
them with insults. For, observe — if the events them-
selves are past and gone by, yet the opportunity of re-
flecting upon them is ever present to the wise. Time
was that Philip called Lasthenes his friend, until he
had betrayed Olynthus ; time was that he thus termed
Timolaus, till he had overthrown Thebes ; and Eudi-
cus and Simus, of Larissa, until they had surrendered
Thessaly to his arms. Then, when they were chased
away, and covered with indignities, and there was no
maltreatment that they had not to endure, the whole
habitable world was filled with traitors. How" fared
Aristratus, in Sicyon? How Perilaus, at Megara?
Are they not doomed to utter execration? From
whence any one may clearly perceive that whoso most
stoutly defends his country, and most vehemently re-
sists such men as those, supplies to you traitors and
mercenaries, Aeschines, the means of being bribed ;
and it is because such patriots are numerous and op-


pose your councils that you can receive your hire in
safety ; for as far as depended on yourselves you must
long since have perished.

And now, although I have much more to say touch-
ing these transactions, yet I rather think I have dwelt
too long upon them. But he is to blame for it ; his
having poured out in our faces the crapulous remains
of his own profligacy and crimes made it indispensably
necessary that I should justify myself in the eyes of
persons who have been born since those transactions.
Perhaps, however, you are fatigued with the subject,
as before I had spoken a word you were aware of his
mercenary conduct. That, indeed, he terms friend-
ship and hospitality ; and in one part of his speech
he described me as having considered Alexander's
hospitality a shame. I speak of Alexander's hospi-
tality to you ! Whence did you derive it, or how earn
it ? Nor Philip's guest, nor Alexander's friend should
I ever think of calling you ; I am not so senseless ;
unless, indeed, we are to call reapers and others who
work for hire the friends and guests of those who~pay
them wages. But it is not so ; nothing of the kind !
Why should it be ? Quite the reverse. But I and
all here present call you the hireling, formerly of
Philip, now of Alexander. If you doubt it, ask them.
But I had rather do that for you. Men of Athens !
whether do you consider Aeschines as the hireling or
the guest of Alexander ? — Do you hear what they
say ? — I now then proceed to answer this charge
and to explain my conduct, in order that Aeschines,
though he is well aware of the whole, may also hear
my own statement of my just title, both to the honors
decreed, and to far greater than these.


§§ 168-179.

Having thus set the different states at variance
with each other by the agency of these men,^ Philip,
elated with those decrees and those answers, advanced
with his army and occupied Elatea, as if assured that,
come what might, you and the Thebans never would
agree. The consternation into which the city was
instantly thrown, you all know ; but it may be as
well you should hear the most important particulars.
It was evening. A messenger came to acquaint the
Prytanes that Elatea was taken ; whereupon some of
them, instantly starting from the table at which they
were sitting, cleared the booths in the Forum, and set
fire to their wicker coverings ; others summoned the
Generals of the State, and ordered the alarum to be
sounded. The city was filled with consternation.
When the next day broke, the Prytanes ^ convoked
the Senate in the Senate House ; you repaired to your
own assembly, and before they ^ could adopt any
measure, or even enter upon their deliberations, the
whole people had seated themselves upon the hill.
And now, when the Senators came forth, and the
Prytanes announced the intelligence, and presented
the bearer of it, and he had himself related it, the
herald made proclamation. If any one desired to be

1 The orator has told the story of the opening of this war. The
congress of the Amphictyonie Council, which met at Delphi, had been
persuaded by Aeschines to adopt measures which led to a conflict and
then to a war which Philip was invited to lead on behalf of the Am-
phietyons. But, entering Greece (in the autumn of 339 B. c), Philip
neglected the work to which he was summoned, and seized Elatea, a
Phocian town of great military importance.

^ The Prytanes were a sort of executive committee of the Senate,
serving for a month, and continually in session.

^ I. e. , the Senate, who had the right of initiative.


heard? No man stood forward. He repeated the
proclamation again and again. No person rose the
more, though all the Generals and all the Orators
were present, and though the cries of our common
country were heard, imploring some one to lift his
voice and save her. For the voice of the herald, in
the solemn form ordained by law, may well be deemed
the general voice of the country. And truly, if the
only qualification to come forward then had been an
anxiety for the public safety, all of you, and every
other Athenian too, would have risen and ascended
the Bema ; ^ for I am well aware that all were anx-
ious to save the State. If wealth had been the quali-
fication, we might have had the three hundred ; if
both wealth and patriotism, those who, in the sequel,
became such ample voluntary contributors. But that
was, manifestly, the crisis, — that the day not merely
for a wealthy and patriotic individual to bear a part,
but for one who had, from the very first, kept pace
with the progress of affairs, and happily penetrated
the motives of the conduct and the designs of Philip.
For a man unacquainted with these — one who had
not anxiously watched them from their first appear-
ance — might be ever so rich and ever so zealous,
and yet be none the more likely to descry the best
course, and to give you the soundest counsel. In that
day, then, such a man was I, — and standing up, I
spoke to you, what you must once more attentively
listen to, with two views : first, that you may perceive
how, alone, of all the Orators and Statesmen, I did
not abandon the post of Patriotism in the hour of
peril, but, both by my words and my actions, dis-
charged my duty to you in the last emergency ]

^ The tribune, the standiiig'-place of the speaker.


next, that, at the expense of a little time, you may
acquire a fuller insight into our whole polity for the

I conceived, then (I said), that those who were in so
great a consternation at the idea of the Thebans be-
ing friendly to Philip were unacquainted with the
real state of affairs ; for I knew full well that, were
this apprehension well founded, we should not now
hear of him being in Elatea, but upon our own fron-
tiers ; I knew for certain, however, that he was come
to get matters in Thebes ready for him. But how the
case stands, said I, hear now from me. All those
Thebans whom he has been able either to bribe by
gold or delude by craft, he has at his command ; but
those who, from the first, have resisted him, and are
now opposing him, he can in no way move. What,
then, does he now meditate, and with what view has
he seized on Elatea ? It is that, displaying his forces
in our neighborhood, and marching up his troops, he
may at once elevate and inspirit his friends, and strike
terror into his adversaries, and that they, being over-
awed, may be induced, or may be compelled, to make
concessions which they now refuse. If then, I said,
we are, in these circumstances, resolved to bear in
mind whatever wrongs the Thebans may have done us
aforetime, and to distrust them as taking part with
our enemies, we shall in the first place be doing the
very thing that Philip is praying for, and next, I fear
me lest they who now are his adversaries may join
him, and, all Philippizing after the same fashion^
both Thebans and Philip may invade Attica. But if
you will be advised by me, and consider well what I
am about to state instead of quarrelling with it, then
it may come to pass, I conceive, both that you should


approve of my councils, and that I should dispel the
dangers which surround the country. What, then, do
I recommend ? First of all, to dissipate the prevail-
ing alarm ; then to change its direction, and all be
alarmed about the Thebans, for they are far nearer
a catastrophe than we, and the peril is much closer
upon them than upon us ; and then, that the young
men and the cavalry marching upon Eleusis,^ should
prove to all Greece that you are in arms, and that your
partisans at Thebes may have an equal power to main-
tain their cause when they find you are as ready and
as willing to succor the asserters of liberty, if attacked,
as Philip was to aid with his forces in Elatea those
who were selling their country to him. Next, I re-
quire that the ten Ambassadors be chosen by vote, and
that they, with the Commanders, have authority to
determine the time both of their arrival and of their
setting out. But when the Ambassadors come to
Thebes, how do I recommend that they should conduct
the affair? Give me now your whole attention. Re-
quire nothing of the Thebans (for at this time it
would be shameful), but promise whatever succor
they demand, they being in the most extreme danger,
and we better able than they to foresee the result ; so
that, if they agree with us and take our advice, we
shall both carry our point and act upon a plan worthy
of the State ; but if we should happen to fail in this
object, then they will have themselves to blame for
their errors, and by us nothing base, nothing unwor-
thy, will have been done.

Having said thus much, and more to the like effect,
I sat down. All assenting, no one saying one word to

^ I. e., to Eleusis. Eleusis is about fifteen miles from Athens, on
the bay of Salamis, and on one of the better routes to Thebes.


the contrary, not only did I make this speech, but I
propounded a decree ; not only did I propound a de-
cree, but I went ambassador ; not only went ambassa-
dor, but I persuaded the Thebans ; and from the first,
throughout the whole transaction, down to the end,
I persevered, and gave myself up, in your service,
without any reserve, to confront the perils that sur-
rounded the country.

§§ 297-305

Then you ask what is my title to public honors ?
I will tell you. It is, that while the statesmen of
Greece, beginning with yourself, Aeschines, were all
corrupted — first by Philip and then by Alexander, —
over me neither opportunity, nor fair speeches, nor
lavish promises, nor hopes, nor fears, nor favors, nor
any other earthly consideration ever prevailed, sedu-
cing or driving me to betray in any one particular what
I deemed the rights and the interests of my country.
Never did I, like you, and such as you, incline my
councils as if weighed in a balance towards the side
that paid the best ; but my whole conduct was formed
by a righteous, and just, and incorruptible soul ; and
having borne the most forward part among the men
of my times in administering the mightiest affairs, my
whole policy has ever been sound and honest and
open. For these things I claim to be honored.

But this repair of the walls and the fosses which
you revile, I deem to merit favor and commendation :
wherefore should I not ? Yet I certainly place this
far below my administration of public affairs. For I
have not fortified Athens with stone walls and tiled


roofs : ^ no, not I ! Neither is it on deeds like these
that I plume myself. But would you justly estimate
my outworks, you will find armaments and cities, and
settlements, and harbors, and fleets, and cavalry, and
armies raised to defend us : — these are the defences
that I drew around Attica, as far as human prudence
could defend her, and with such outworks as these I
fortified the country at large, not the mere circuit of
the arsenal ^ and the city ! Nor was it I that suc-
cumbed to Philip's policy and his arms ; very far
otherwise ! but the captains and the forces of your allies
yielded to his fortune. What are the proofs of it?
They are manifest and plain, and you shall see them.
For what was the part of a patriotic citizen ? What
the part of him who would serve his country with all
earnestness, and zeal, and honesty of purpose ? Was it
not to cover Attica, on the seaboard with Euboea — in-
land with Boeotia — on Peloponnesus, with the adjoin-
ing territories ? Was it not to provide for making the
corn trade secure, that every coast our ships sailed
along till they reached the Piraeus might be friendly
to us ? Was it not to save some points of our do-
minion, such as Proconnesus, the Chersonese, Tene-
dos, by dispatching succors, and making the necessary
statements, and proposing the fit decrees? Was it
not to secure from the first the cooperation and alli-
ance of other states, Byzantium, Abydos, Euboea?
Was it not to wrest from the eneiny his principal
forces ? Was it not to supply what this country most
wanted ? Then all these things were effected by my

^ I. e., the defences which Demosthenes threw around Athens, and
for which he claims glory, were not mere walls of stone or brick, —
thoug-h as commissioner he had erected such walls for the city.

2 The Piraeus, the chief harbor of Athens, about five miles from
the City.


Decrees, and my measures. All these things, Athe-
nians, if any one chooses to examine the matter with-
out prejudice, he will find both correctly advised by
me, and executed with perfect integrity ; and that no
opportunity was lost by me, through carelessness, or
through ignorance, or through treachery, nor any-
thing neglected which it could fall within the power
and the wisdom of one man to do. But if the favor
of some Deity, or of Fortune, or the remissness of
commanders, or the wickedness of traitors like you,
Aeschines, in different states, or if all these causes to-
gether have embarrassed our whole affairs, and brought
them to ruin — wherein has Demosthenes been to
blame ? But if there had been found in any ^ Greek
State one man such as I have been in my sphere
among you, rather, if Thessaly had only possessed a
single man, and if Arcadia had possessed any one of
the same principles with me, none of all the Greeks,
whether within Thermopylae ^ or without, would have
been suffering their present miseries ; but all remain-
ing free, and independent, and secure from alarm,
would in perfect tranquillity and prosperity have
dwelt in their native land, rendering thanks to you
and the rest of the Athenian people for so many and
such signal blessings conferred on them through me.
That you may perceive how much smaller my words
are than my works, through fear of misconstruction,
read^ now and recite the account of the succors sent
in pursuance of my decrees.

^ Rather, in each.

2 This famous pass led from Thessaly into Locris. " Within Ther-
mopylae " thus means " south of Thessaly."

^ This direction is addressed to the clerk of the court.


Theocritus was the greatest of all pastoral or bucolic
poets, and was the real founder of this branch of literature,
though he lived in the midst of the formal conventional life
of courts and students. He was born about 315 b. c. in
^icily, the land of flocks and herds, but his early training
was under Philetas, a poet of the island Cos, near the south-
west corner of Asia Minor. Before 280 he returned to
Sicily, and sought the favor of Hiero the younger, the king
of Syracuse, by a poem which was imitated by Spenser in
his Shepherd'' s Ccdsndar, October, In this he asks, " Who
of all those who dwell under the bright Dawn will open his
doors and receive our Graces to his home ? " Failing to
secure Hiero as his patron, he turned to Ptolemy Philadel-
phus at Alexandria, the enlightened ruler of Egypt, who had
been a pupil of Philetas not long before him. Two of the
extant idyls are in honor of Ptolemy, and another clearly
was composed to please Ptolemy's queen and sister, Arsinoe.
Of the thirty poems which are extant under the name of
Theocritus, only one third are strictly bucolic. Two are
love songs. Three are TniTfies or little dramas, of whicli no
other specimens were known to the modern world until in
1891 some of the mimes of Herodas (or Herondas) were
published from a papyrus roll found in a tomb in Egypt.
Two of the idyls are encomia, one is a hymn to the Dios-
curi, another is a hymn to Dionysus, two are little epic
scenes, one is a picture of the life of fishermen, eight are
generally rejected or are at least of suspected authenticity.

Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 27 of 29)