Wallace Everett Caldwell.

Hellenic conceptions of peace online

. (page 1 of 12)
Online LibraryWallace Everett CaldwellHellenic conceptions of peace → online text (page 1 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook




Volume LXXXIV] [Number 2

Whole Number 195



Sometime Assistant in Ancient History, Cornell University

University Fellow in Ancient History

Instructor in History, Columbia University

Ntw Work


London : P. S. King & Son, Ltd.


Copyright, 1919











Ancient Hellas was a land of small city-states, each
with its own political systems, its own economic interests,
its own social customs, and often its own dialect. The high-
est aim of the citizen was to possess that patriotism which
subordinated all to the service of the state, which used every
talent for its glorification and which handed down the
fatherland greater and better than it had been handed down
to him. Out of such ideals came that keen rivalry which
produced the finest works of Hellenic culture. But from it
also came devastating wars and the downfall of its very
products, Hellenic freedom and civilization.

In the early period of Greek history wars were of fre-
quent, almost annual, occurrence ; and warfare became a nat-
ural part of the citizen's existence with careful rules and reg-
ulations — almost a sport. The great Persian war in the first
half of the fifth century B. C, however, brought home to the
Greeks most clearly the advantages and the disadvantages
of war. With the wars between Athens and Sparta and the
long and wearisome series of struggles for supremacy which
followed in the fourth century, there came a realization of
the ruinous effects of strife, which led in turn to the growth
of a strong peace movement and to a variety of attempts to
solve the problem of inter-Hellenic relations. The develop-
ment of a desire for peace, with an appreciation of its bene-
fits, along with suggestions for its perpetuation, found ex-
pression in the productions of the writers of Hellas. In the
history of their age lay the background on which their ideas
were founded and the methods which were developed to
carry them into execution.

399] 5

6 PREFACE [ 4 qo

Much has been done in the study of the international law
and practice of the Greeks from the institutional point of
view. For this the reader is referred to Phillipson, Inter-
national Law and Customs of Ancient Greece and Rome
(London, 191 1); Raeder, L' Arbitrage International chez
les Hellenes (New York, 191 2) ; Tod, Greek International
Arbitration (Oxford, 1913). On their conclusions that part
of this study which deals with those topics is based. The
purpose of this work, however, is to study rather the ideas
than the institutions of the Greeks and to examine the re-
sults of their efforts to secure peace among themselves. For
this it is necessary to review the historical background and
to examine the attitude of the writers toward the general
topic of war and peace. This study terminates with the
end of the classic period. Consideration of the conceptions
of peace in the Hellenistic Age is reserved for a future



Preface 5


The Epic Age

i. Minoan Civilization 9

2. The Mycenaean Period I:

3. The Invasions 14

4. The World of Homer 15

The Homeric Attitude toward Peace and War __20_

6. Peace and War in the Epic Cycle 35

7. The Views of Hesiod 36

The Early Period of the City-State

^ The Growth of the City-state 38

„ Causes of Disunion 3«

^*3V Elements of Union 39

4. Life and Literature in the Asiatic Cities 51

5. The Asiatic Cities at War with Lydia and Persia 57

^6_^_Cultural Conditions in Sparta 59

j^-The Significance of Theognis of Megara 62

JL-The Development of Athens 63

9. The Greeks of Sicily and Italy 65

I. The Persian Wars and Hellenic Peace

1. Historical Survey of the Period 490-461 B. C 67

2> Peace and War in Literature 70

a 1 . Aeschylus 7 1

b. Bacchylides 76

c. Pindar 77

d. Heraclitus 79

401] 7



II. The Age of Pericles

1. Athens and Sparta, 461-431 B.C 80

^ft The Attitude of Sophocles 84

•3?) The Views of Herodotus 85

The Peloponnesian War

{j^/The Causes of the War and the Failure of Arbitration 87

^5) The Events of the War and their Effects 91

§ Aristophanes and the Peace Party 99

Thucydides and the War 100

The Attitude of Euripides 103

The Fourth Century

1. Wars and Peace, 404-338 B. C 108

2. War and Peace in Fourth-Century Literature 125

a. Xenophon 125

b. Demosthenes 127

c. Socrates 127

d. Plato 127

e. Aristotle 130

f. Isocrates 131

3. Conclusion 138

The Epic Age

The earliest expression of thought known to us from
the ancient Hellenes is to be found in the epic poets of the
Middle Age : Homer, the writers of the Epic Cycle, and
Hesiod. Many diverse elements, however, go to make up
the ideas and pictures of the poems, the traditions of earlier
days, the character of the incoming northerner, the society
in which the poets lived, and above all the depth of their
understanding of life and its emotions. One may single
out material things and claim from archaeological evi-
dence that they belonged to earlier days; one may place
political and social institutions in the time of the poets with
some security. It is a much more difficult, in many respects
an impossible, task to treat the expression of ideas in this
fashion. One may only endeavor to point out something of
that which preceded the poets and venture to draw conclu-
sions with reserve.

Far in the background of the poems lay the civilization
known as the iEgean, and divided usually into the Minoan
and Mycenean periods. The .^Egean basin was inhabited
from neolithic times, probably by members of the Mediter-
ranean race. With the introduction of bronze, civilization
developed among them rapidly until it reached its culmina-
tion in the splendor of the Minoan Age, the center of which
was the city of Cnossus on the island of Crete, where Minos
traditionally held sway and whence he extended his con-
quests and spread his culture. Legend records that he was
the first to drive pirates from the sea and to establish peace
403] 9


in the yEgean. 1 With this came a wide development of
trade and great prosperity. Everywhere around the Medi-
terranean the Minoan merchant found markets for his
wares while the closest relations prevailed with the wealthy
and powerful kingdom of Egypt. Under such influences
there appeared in Cnossus one of the most brilliant of mate-
rial civilizations replete with splendor and luxury and all
that wealth might bring. At the height of its power no
fear or disaster of war could interfere to check its pleasures
so long as the fleet ruled the sea and kept the strife of the
continent from its shores. Save for bastions to guard the
wealth of the palace against a raid of stray marauders,
no fortifications were necessary and no wall was built. A
professional archery, supported and supplied by the palace,
took care of ordinary defense. When called upon, how-
ever, the noble took his heavy shield, shaped like a figure
eight, and rode to the combat in his chariot. But war and
its deeds had little share in his thoughts. In comparative
security the noble gave himself over to the merry life of
the court, and the commoner plied his tasks in peace and
comfort. Memories of more warlike times survived in the
court dress when youths in the dance wore " daggers of
geld, hanging from silver baldrics, inlaid with marvelous
workmanship," - ornaments rather than weapons. In the
reproductions of the decorations of the palaces of Crete no
pictures of the combat are to be found. The life of the
court with its pomp and grandeur, its throngs of people, its
dances on the choros and its games, is reflected in the many
frescoes on the palace walls. Plants and flowers, familiar
animals and the fish of the sea take the place of scenes of
battle in the art of the time. 3

1 Thucydides, ed. Jones, H. S. (Oxford, 1902), i, 8.
^ Iliad, ed. Monro, D. B. and Allen, T. W. (Oxford, 1902), xvii, 597, 8.
3 Cf. publications in the Annual of the British School at Athens,
the Journal of Hellenic Studies, and elsewhere.


The carvings on gems, in which the Minoans excelled,
deal mostly with religion, and here too nature is the domi-
nating factor. The figure-eight shield, token apparently of
the youthful war-god, appears but seldom, and then usually
in conjunction with the omnipresent nature-goddess. This
great mother divinity appears on the mountain-tops with
her attendant animals, or she sits under a tree with her
doves, or she rules the underworld with its symbolic snakes.
The prevalent religion was chthonic. Symbols of various
kinds were worshipped. The dead were feared and courted,
and in their tombs were placed all kinds of objects needed
for a future life. That the spirit of the departed might
have company and service, animals and apparently human
beings were sacrificed. Jewelry and treasures in great
abundance were placed beside the corpse, to the ultimate
impoverishment of the realm.

With all the refinement and art there was a strong cur-
rent of brutality. Boxing with the heavy cestus was a
favorite sport. But most popular of all was bull-leaping,
with its opportunity for the display of skill and agility and
its concomitant danger of bloodshed and death of a most
horrible kind. The legend of the tribute of human sacri-
fice of the Athenians to the Minotaur suggests the means
by which the athletes were secured, and indicates at the
same time great cruelty in the treatment of subject peoples. 1

When the Minoan crossed to the mainland he found there
a different race of people. In the middle of the third mil-
lennium B. C, northerners had begun to move down from
the Danube valley across the passes of the Balkans into the
peninsula to the south. They occupied Macedonia and

1 This resume of Minoan culture is based on a study of the pub-
lished archaeological material in the Annual of the British School at
Athens, the Journal of Hellenic Studies, and on the writings of Burrows,
Hawes, and Mosso. The character of the sources makes the picture
largely conjectural.


pushed down into Thessaly on the one side, and entered
Thrace and crossed the Hellespont into the Troad and
Phrygia on the other. In the course of the first half of
the second millennium they penetrated farther south into
Greece, blending doubtless with the earlier inhabitants
whom they found there. Among these people Minoan cul-
ture began to develop afresh. The gradual nature of the
infiltration and the blending of the peoples facilitated the
process. Thessaly, in a continuous turmoil from fresh in-
vasions, and backward in civilization, acted as a buffer, and
protected and made possible the southern development. 1

At strategic points which controlled trade routes or in
fertile valleys were built the fortress cities of the new-
comer, possibly under Minoan control, as the Attic legend
indicates, but surely under Minoan influence. The plain of
Messene, the valley of the Eurotas, the Argive plain with its
roads to the isthmus, the isthmus of Corinth itself, the val-
leys of Attica and the fertile land of Boeotia were the cen-
ters of these new people. Possibly some of the cities were
earlier Minoan foundations into which the invader came
through invitation to aid in defense or through marriage
into the ruling family. In any case commerce with Crete,
and doubtless also the presence of Minoan artist and archi-
tect, brought the influence of the older civilization strongly
to bear and produced the legendary Heroic Age of Greece.
The northerner took over the material civilization of the
southerner, his pictures, furniture, jewelry, and personal
adornments, his gold and silver work, but preserved his own
northern type of dwelling with its central hearth. Neces-
sity here compelled the erection of huge fortresses, and
there arose the mighty walls and elaborate defenses so

1 For the invasions cf. Beloch, Griechische Geschichte (2nd ed.
Strassburg, 1912), vol. i, pp. 67, et seq. On the condition of Thessaly, cf.
Wace and Thompson, Prehistoric Thessaly (Cambridge, 1912).

4 07] THE EPIC AGE 13

familiar at Mycenae and Tiryns. War was a natural part
of life, and hence played a larger part in art than among
the Cretans. Warriors and the siege of cities appear on
vases, and the shield symbol of the war god was a favorite
mural decoration. The warrior adopted Minoan methods
of warfare, the chariot and the huge shield, and to his own
barbaric character he added the refinements of Minoan
brutality. The use of the poisoned arrow, the heartless
treatment of the conquered foe, the maltreatment of the
enemy's corpse, the human sacrifice to appease the dead, are
features which are characteristic of most peoples in the
stage of civilization known as the Heroic Age. 1

With new conditions all ties of kindred and tribe were
broken and strong monarchies were developed. Bound by
bonds of equal rank and common military necessity, royal
families kept closely in touch with one another. Visits were
frequent between them, and marriages bound them together.
Traditions recorded these things and indicated that the
ruler of Mycenae was overlord of all, strong enough to call
on all for their services and to obtain them. A more gen-
eral feeling of unity and good-will appears to have pre-
vailed then than at any later period in the history of Hellas,
the indications of which appear in the later legends of the
Trojan and Theban wars. Under such conditions of life
there developed the art of epic poetry, when court poets
recited the glorious deeds of the warriors and the splendors
of life in the court. 2

1 Cf. Chadwick, H. M., The Heroic Age (Cambridge, 1912), p. 462.

2 This description of the Heroic Age is based in general on Chad-
wick, op. £it., and on Leaf, Homer and History (London, 1915)- On
the Mycenean origins of the epics cf. Evans, A. J., " The Minoan and
Mycenaean Elements in Hellenic Life " in the Journal of Hellenic Studies,
32 (1912); Meillet, Apercu d'une histoire de la langue grecque (Paris,
I9I3),PP- 193-4-


With strength came expansion. Marauding bands occu-
pied the islands of the ^Egean. The Cretans, excluded
from those waters, turned to other regions and appeared in
Spain, in Sicily, in Cyprus and in Palestine. Internal dis-
ease of convention and caste had prepared the way, and
when plunderers brought catastrophe the end was swift.
Minos became a name and the power of Cnossus a tradi-
tion embodied in the court poetry to be handed down to
future ages. The pirates reached even to the shores of
the Nile delta in their wanderings, while on the north a
wealthy settlement on the hill of Hissarlik in the Troad was
destroyed. Egyptian inscriptions record that the isles of the
sea were in confusion.

In the twelfth century new elements appeared in fresh
invasions from the northwest. The old cities on the main-
land fell a prey to the invader and the older settlers
were pushed out to seek homes beyond the sea. Save in
mountainous Arcadia and barren Attica, all was confusion.
The people were migratory, either looking for better lands
for themselves or pushed out by new tribes seeking their
lands. Maintenance was all they sought from the soil.
Fortifications were either unnecessary or impossible. The
tribes were war-loving and sought subsistence rather by
plunder than by work. Robbery on land and piracy by sea
were freely practised, and regarded as no disgrace. All
men went armed and were quick to resent the least slight
with combat. 1 Thucydides' description of the early days
of Hellas has been accepted as a picture of the conditions
which put an end to Mycenean culture and plunged Greece
into its Middle Age. Early and late comers mingled and
pushed on. Crete became a land of many cities and men,
with confusion of tongues. Cyprus received a colony of
the earlier peoples. The islands of the ^Egean were popu-

1 Thucydides, i, I, 2.

409 ] THE EPIC AGE 1 5

lated, old foundations on the Anatolian coast were increased
in size and new ones were founded. In general the move-
ments took parallel lines, the Thessalians occupying the
northern islands and the region called iEolis, the Ionians,
the central position, with the Dorians to the south. A large
amount of fusion followed, both among themselves and
with the old inhabitants of their new homes.

As the movements gradually died down and times of
comparative peace returned, civilization began to build
afresh. In the south where the centers of Mycenean or
Minoan influence had been, culture appeared first in a nucleus
of Minoan ideas, while to the north the civilization of the
newcomer was predominant. One thing all treasured in
common — the epic poetry which told of the traditions of for-
mer glory. These, reflecting sometimes the language, more
often the material customs and glories of Mycenean courts,
were sung by bards throughout the new settlements on the
mainland of Greece and in /Eolis and Ionia alike. In the
old songs the bards found their material, and into that
material as warp they wove the ideas and customs of their
own times and conditions.

The Iliad and the Odyssey were the products of the
greatest of these bards. Homer took the old Achaean
songs and traditions and with the fire of his genius forged
them afresh into the finest of epic poems. 1 The traditional
stories contained many things foreign to the spirit of the
poet. In them the poisoned arrow was deadly, the slaughter

1 The Homeric question has been a subject so widely discussed and with
such varying views that the writer has felt it best to adhere to the
opinion upheld by Botsford in his Hellenic History (in manuscript)
without entering into a discussion of the question. In accordance with
that opinion the changes in the matter and spirit of the tradition noted by
Gilbert Murray in his Rise of the Greek Epic (2nd ed. Oxford, 1911).
have been treated as a part of Homer's work in his handling of the old


of foemen knew no mercy. The dead was despoiled of his
armor, his head placed upon the stakes of the wall and his
body defiled and left as a prey to the dogs and vultures.
When a city was captured it was wasted by fire, the war-
riors were slain in the presence of their wives, and their
bodies left to be torn to pieces by the very dogs they had
raised ; while the women were driven with blows from the
corpses of their husbands and led into a far-off land as
slaves, and " in Argos ply another's loom and bring water
of Messeis or Hypereia, though unwilling stern compulsion
presses on." * The infant children not worth carrying off
were dashed to the ground and not even the man-child in
the mother's womb was spared. 2 At the bier of the fallen
hero captured warriors were slain as a sacrifice to appease
the dead. The gods, too, demanded human sacrifice and
purificatory rites for blood guilt. 3

The strength of tradition prevented the omission of many
of these things, though they were contrary to the spirit of
the poet. So many as he could, he omitted; others he ex-
cused or palliated on other grounds. He declared that the
gods themselves forbade the use of deadly drugs on arrows.*
In his treatment of the stories, the captured were not slain,
except in the heat of fiercest battle, but held for ransom. 5
The suppliant, though he were one's dearest enemy, was al-
ways spared, for Zeus was his protector. 6 Despoliation and
defilement were often threatened but, save for the taking of
armor, never performed. The word which meant defile-

1 //. vi, 456-8.

2 Il. vi, 410-465; xvii, 125-7, 238-45; xviii, 176-7, 334-5 ; xix, 291-4;
xxii, 59-76; ix, 590-4; vi, 55-60; xxiv, 730-1 ; Od. viii, 522 et seq.

3 Vide infra, p. 35.

4 Od. i, 260-3.

5 //. ii, 229-30; xi, 131-5, 104-106.
*//. xxiv, 185-7.

41 1 ] THE EPIC AGE I7

ment was changed to mean decent covering. 1 In addition,
truces were arranged to provide for the burial of the dead."
The maltreatment of Hector's corpse, a grievous deed in
the mind of the poet, was excused because of the excessive
grief of Achilles. Nay more, the gods intervened to pre-
serve the body unharmed and to save him from a terrible
sin. 3 The gods forbade loud thanksgiving over slaughtered
men. The fate of conquered and captured is predicted,
feared, and made a subject for lamentation in general,
though the lot of Briseis was certainly not entirely unhappy.
The stories of human sacrifice and purificatory rites were
omitted, and the slaughter of the twelve noble youths at the
funeral pyre of Patroclus was laid rather to grief and wrath
than to any desire to appease the dead. 4

The stage of society which Homer represents was natural
to an age which had seen the end of wanderings and the
first suggestions of settled life. Cities, governments and
customs were just beginning to assume stable forms. The
days of the mighty warriors of the epic when men were
greater and stronger and more warlike "than men are now,"
were past. Between the tribes there still existed a relation-
ship of neither war nor peace. Communities and individ-
uals preyed on each other or kept peace as necessity or greed
dictated, without formalities of declarations or treaties.
Piracy was a recognized profession grouped with legiti-
mate trade and adventure and carried no disgrace. Raiding
parties seized the cattle on the hillsides and sold the herds-
man into slavery, or wasted the harvest and carried off the
oxen and the horses. The only recourse for the injured,

1 Murray, Rise of the Greek Epic, p. 147.
*//. vii, 375-8.

9 II. xxiii, 24 et seq.; xxiv, 15-21.

*On the subject of these changes cf. Murray, op. cit., ch. v. As will
be seen, they are thoroughly in consonance with the spirit of the poem.


whether tribe or individual, was retaliation and open war-
fare. 1 Personal or family quarrels between princes led to
strife between tribes. 2 The poet considered the violation of
hospitality and the invasion of the family circle in the theft
of Helen a cause entirely sufficient for the ten years' war
and the destruction of Troy. But back of it he saw the final
cause in the guiding power of Zeus, swaying the destiny of
nations. Helen was but a pawn in his hands for the de-
struction of Troy. He was the final arbiter and " hath
brought down the head of many cities." 3

Yet the seeds of future interstate law existed and played
their part in the alleviation of strife. The privilege of em-
bassy was considered inviolate under the protection of Zeus,
as when Menelaus and Odysseus visited Troy in their vain
effort to avoid the war. The act of those Trojans who pro-
posed in the assembly that they be slain forthwith was held
to be a foul shame. 4 Truces were frequently made, sur-
rounded with religious ceremonies, and their binding force
was recognized, that the dead might be buried, that Hector
might address the warriors, or that champions might fight
to decide the issue and save the host from further grievous
strife. The violation of the truce was considered a craven
and irreligious act and brought renewal of the combat. 5
The institution of guest-friendship existed and formed a
bond sufficient to cause foemen to spare each other in the
fight and to reconcile them. 6 The respect which the strong
and generous man felt for a worthy foeman led to brief
reconciliation and exchange of gifts. Later they might re-

1 Jl. i, 152-6; Od. iii, 103-6; ix, 252; //. i, 124, 5; xxiii, 341, 2; xi, 104-6.

2 Chadwick, Heroic Age, pp. 331, et seq.

»//. ii, 117, 177, 8; iii, 164, 5; ix, 337-41 ; H, 38-40.

*Il. xi, 138-42.

5 77. iii, 250-311; vii, 375-8; iv, 86-222; iv, 220-239; ix, 338-41.

*//. vi, 215-31; Od. xv, 196, 7.


new the fight, but for the time men might say, " these twain
fought for the sake of strife that tears the heart, then in
friendship joined together they parted." 1 Age with honor
received its due respect and gained for Eetion all the honors
of a warrior's burial from Achilles when high-gated Thebes

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryWallace Everett CaldwellHellenic conceptions of peace → online text (page 1 of 12)