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without a struggle that which our ancestors encountered
every danger to win, who would not have spit upon you?

With what eyes, I pray, should we have beheld stran-
gers visiting the city, if the result had been what it is, and
Philip had been chosen leader and lord of all, but other
people, without us, had made the struggle to prevent it;
especially when in former times our country had never
preferred an ignominious security to the battle for honor?
For what Grecian or what barbarian is ignorant, that by
the Thebans, or by the Lacedaemonians who were in
might before them,^ or by the Persian king, permission
would thankfully and gladly have been given to our Com-
monwealth, to take what she pleased and hold her own,
provided she would accept foreign law and let another
power command in Greece? But, as it seems, to the
Athenians of that day such conduct could not have been
national, or natural, or endurable: none could at any
period of time persuade the commonwealth to attach her-
self in secure subjection to the powerful and unjust:
through every age has she persevered in the perilous
struggle for precedency and honor and glory.

And this you esteem so noble, and congenial to your
principles, that among your ancestors you honor most
those who acted in such a spirit; and with reason. For
who would not admire the virtue of those men, who reso-
lutely embarked in their galleys, leaving country and home,
rather than receive foreign laws, choosing Themistocles
who gave such council for their general, and stoning
Kyrsilus to death who advised submission to the terms
imposed — nor him only, but your wives also stoning his
wife? Yes; the Athenians of that day looked not for an
orator or a general, who might help them to a pleasant

1 The Athenians considered themselves 'the leading state oi Greece from
the end of the war against Xerxes, 478 B. C, to their decisive defeat by Sparta
at the close of the Peloponnesian War. Then Sparta led until the great
Theban Epaminondas brought his city into the leadership. After his 'career
(371-362 B.C.) Thebes rapidly declined, and Philip's reign (360-336) saw Mace-
donia establish herself as complete master of Greece. The decisive victory of
Philip, very often alluded to by Demosthenes, was won at Chaeronea, against
the united Athenians and Thebans, in 338 B.C.



244 Ideals in Greek Literature

servitude: they scorned to live, if it could not be with
freedom. For each of them considered, that he was not
born to his father or mother only, but also to his country.
What is the difference.? He that thinks himself born for
his parents only, waits for his appointed or natural end:
he that thinks himself born for his country also will sooner
perish than behold her in slavery, and will regard the
insults and indignities which must be borne in a common-
wealth enslaved, as more terrible than death.

Had I attempted to say, that I instructed you in senti-
ments worthy of your ancestors, there is not a man who
would not justly rebuke me. What I declare is that such
principles are your own; I show that before my time such
was the spirit of the commonwealth; though certainly in
the execution of the particular measures I claim a share
also for myself. The prosecutor, arraigning the whole
proceedings, and embittering you against me as the cause
of our alarms and dangers, in his eagerness to deprive me
of honor for the moment, robs you of the eulogies that
should endure forever. For should you, under a disbelief
in the wisdom of my policy convict the defendant, you
will appear to have done wrong, not to have suffered what
befell you by the cruelty of fortune. But never, never
can you have done wrong, O Athenians, in undertaking
the battle for the freedom and safety of all ! I swear it
by your forefathers — those that met the peril at Marathon,
those that took the field at Plataea, those in the sea-fight
at Salamis, and those at Artemisium,* and many other
brave men who repose in the public monuments, all of
whom alike, as being worthy of the same honor, the coun-
try buried, ^schines, not only the successful or victorious I
Justly ! For the duty of brave men had been done by all :
their fortune has been such as the Deity assigned to each.

Many great and glorious enterprises has the common-
wealth, ^schines, undertaken and succeeded in through
me; and she did not forget them. Here is the proof.

1 Battles of the Persian wars



Demosthenes on the Crown 245

On the election of a person to speak the funeral oration
immediately after the event, you were proposed, but the
people would not have you, notwithstanding your fine
voice, nor any other of your party — but me. And when
you came forward in a brutal and shameful manner, and
urged the same accusations against me which you now do,
they elected me all the more. The reason— you are not
ignorant of it, yet I will tell you. The Athenians knew
as well the loyalty and zeal with which I conducted their
affairs, as the dishonesty of you and your party. They
thought it right also, that the person who was to speak in
honor of the fallen and celebrate their valor, should not
with his voice act the mourner of their fate, but that he
should lament over them with his heart.

Nor, while the people felt thus, did the fathers and
brothers of the deceased, who were chosen by the people
to perform their obsequies, feel differently. For, having
to order the funeral banquet, according to custom, at the
house of the nearest relative of the deceased, they ordered
it at mine. And with reason: because, though each to
his own was nearer of kin than I, none was so near to
them all collectively. He that had the deepest interest in
their safety and success, had upon their mournful disaster
the largest share of sorrow for them all.

It is pleasant to know that Demosthenes completely
overcame the timidity felt by his countrymen toward the
successful Macedonians, ^schines, failing to carry even
a fourth of the jury, incurred a heavy fine and lost the
right to bring a suit again. In his mortification he went
into voluntary exile.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Professor Butcher's "Demosthenes," in Classical Writers, is
of course a masterly little monograph. The translation of the
orations, five volumes, by Kennedy in the Bohn Classical Library,
is one of the best pieces of classical scholarship in the English
language.



CHAPTER XIV

SICILIAN IDYLLS OF THEOCRITUS
The Poetry oj Rustic Lije.

Perhaps the right of Theocritus to any place among
ideaHsts may be questioned. His gentle shepherds, and
other peasants, feel no such mystical bond of sympathy,
uniting man with outward nature, as a Wordsworth, or an
Emerson, is constantly striving to express. And yet, the
simple delight in rustic life, the music of woods and
streams, has never found happier expression. A genial
wit, a kindly humane feeling, a healthy love of life, all
contribute to his unique charm. More even than with
most poets, that charm vanishes when his ideas are uttered
in an alien and less melodious language. Yet his true
lovers can hardly desist from the attempt to echo his
strains, and certainly such a volume as this would be quite
incomplete, if the sweetest of Hellenic poets were wholly
absent. However, in his idylls or pastorals, the part is
often more than the whole, and he may perhaps be fairly
represented here by a handful of brief versions from vari-
ous hands.

Of Theocritus' life very little is accurately known, but
he lived and wrote during the fourth century B.C., in his
native Sicily, in the little isle of Cos, — and at the luxuri-
ous Alexandrian court of Ptolemy, king of Egypt. Like
Bums, he is most enjoyable in his simplest utterances, in
the broad Doric dialect of his island birthplace.

246



Sicilian Idylls of Theocritus 247

In the first idyll occurs the beautiful description of a
carven bowl offered as a reward for rustic song. It has
evidently three chief groups of figures embossed in low
relief on its outer sides.

IDYLL I

Thyrsis
Sweet are the whispers of yon pine that makes
Low music o'er the spring, and, Goatherd, sweet
Thy piping: second thou to Pan alone.

Goatherd
Shepherd, thy lay is as the noise of streams,
Falling and falling aye from yon tall crag.

Thyrsis
Pray, by the nymphs, pray. Goatherd, seat thee here
Against this hill-slope in the tamarisk shade.
And pipe me somewhat, while I guard thy goats.

Goatherd
There, where the oaks are, and the shepherd's seat,
Sing as thou sangst erewhile.

I'll give thee, first,
To milk, ay thrice, a goat — she suckles twins.
Yet ne'ertheless can fill two milk pails full; —
Next, a deep drinking-cup, with sweet wax scoured.
Two-handled, newly-carven, smacking yet
O' the chisel. Ivy reaches up and chmbs
About its lip, gilt here and there with sprays
Of woodbine, that enwreathed about it flaunts
Her saffron fruitage.

Framed therein appears
A damsel ('tis a miracle of art)
In robe and snood: and suitors at her side.
With locks fair-flowing, on her right and left
Battle with words that fail to reach her heart.



248 Ideals In Greek Literature

She, laughing, glances now on this, flings now
Her chance regards on that: they, all for love
Wearied and eye-swoln, find their labor lost.

Carven elsewhere an ancient fisher stands
On the rough rocks; thereto the old man with pains
Drags his great casting-net, as one that toils
Full stoutly: every fibre of his frame
Seems fishing; so about the greybeard's neck
(In might a youngster yet) the sinews swell.

Hard by that wave-beat sire a vineyard bends
Beneath its graceful load of burnished grapes;
A boy sits on the rude fence watching them.
Near him two foxes; down the rows of grapes
One ranging steals the ripest; one assails
With wiles the poor lad's scrip, to leave him soon
Stranded and supperless. He plaits meanwhile
With ears of com a right fine cricket trap,
And fits it on a rush : for vines, for scrip
Little he cares, enamoured of his toy.

The cup is hung all round with lissome briar.
A goat it cost me, and a great white cheese.
Ne'er yet my lips came near it, virgin still
It stands. And welcome to such boon art thou.
If for my sake thou'lt sing that lay of lays.
I jest not: up, lad, sing: no songs thou'lt own
In the dim land where all things are forgot.

— Calveriys translation.

In the tenth Idyll is inserted a reapers' chorus, which
may well have been, in part at least, a real folk-song,
older far than our poet. Like most of Theocritus' verse
it is in hexameters, but seems to demand in English the
more familiar ballad-metre. The division into couplets,
here indicated, is no less marked in the Greek.

Mowers' Chorus
Demeter, Giver of the fruit, Bestower of the grain.
Easy and rich the harvest make, our labor not in vain!



Sicilian Idylls of Theocritus 249

Now, binders, tightly bind the sheaves, lest they that pass

may say
" 'Twas men of straw that labored here, and wasted was

their pay."

Toward the North wind let the swath we cut, — or else the

West,—
Lie as it falls, for so, 'tis said, the grain will ripen best.

Ye mowers, when the lark awakes our labor is begun.
Nor ends until he hies to rest: but noontide, heat we shun.

The folk that tread the threshing-floor at noon may take

no rest:
For then it is the chaff from out the wheat is parted best.

The frog, lads, hath a merry life, for never need he care
If one shall come to fetch his dram: he still hath drink to
spare.

More carefully the lentils boil, thou steward full of greed,
And do not slit thy fingers while thou'rt splitting cummin
seed.

In the seventh Idyll we have a sketch of the poet him-
self, under the name of Simichidas (Snub-nose). Walk-
ing with two friends to the harvest festival of Demeter,
the Grain-giver, he meets a youth whose name Milton has
borrowed for the most famous of English elegies. The
whole poem seems an actual memory of youthful days in
Cos, whither Theocritus is said to have betaken himself
to become the pupil of the poet Philetas.

Poplar and elm
Showed aisles of pleasant splendor, greenly roofed
By tufted leaves. Scarce midway were we now.
When, thanks be to the Muses, there drew near
A wayfarer from Crete, young Lycidas.
The horn'd herd was his care; a glance might tell



250 Ideals in Greek Literature

So much: for every inch a herdsman he.
Slung o*er his shoulder was a ruddy hide
Torn from a he-goat, shaggy, tangle-haired,
That reeked of rennet yet : a broad belt clasped
The patched cloak round his breast, and for a staff
A gnarled wild olive bough his right hand bore.
Soon with a quiet smile he spake — his eye
Twinkled, and laughter sat upon his lip:

'*And whither ploddest thou thy weary way
Beneath the noontide sun, Simichidas?
For now the lizard sleeps upon the wall.
The crested lark folds now his wandering wing.
Dost speed, a bidden guest, to some reveller's board?
Or townward to the treading of the grape?
For lo! recoiling from thy hurrying feet
The pavement stones ring out right merrily.'*

Then I: ** Friend Lycidas, men say that none
Of haymakers or herdsmen is thy match
At piping; and my soul is glad thereat.
Yet to speak sooth, I think I rival thee.
Now look, this road holds holiday to-day:
For banded brethren solemnize a feast
To richly-dight Demeter, thanking her
For her good gifts : since with no grudging hand
Hath the boon goddess filled the wheaten floors.
So come. The way, the day, is thine as mine:
Try we our woodcraft — each may learn from each.
I am, as thou, a clarion- voice of song;
All hail me chief of minstrels. But I am not.
Heaven knows, o'er-credulous: no, I scarce can yet
(I think) out-vie Philetas, ....

— Calverly.

Last we may set the dramatic sketch in which the pair
of frivolous Syracusan ladies, and the thronging streets of
Ptolemy's splendid capital Alexandria, are most vividly
deHneated.



Sicilian Idylls of Theocritus 251

THE FEAST OF ADONIS

GoRGO {At her friend's door.)
Praxinoe within?

EUNOfi

Why, Gorgo, dear,
How late you are. Yes, she's within.

Praxinoe {Appearing.)
What, no!
And so you're come at last. A seat here, Eunoe;
And set a cushion.

EUNOE

There is one.

Praxinoe

Sit down.

Gorgo
Oh, what a thing's a spirit. Do you know,
I've scarcely got alive to you, Praxinoe,
There's such a crowd — such heaps of carriages.
And horses, and fine soldiers, all full dressed:
And then you live such an immense way off!

Praxinoe
Why, 'twas his shabby doing. He would take
This hole that he calls house, at the world's end.
'Twas all to spite me, and to part us two.

Gorgo. {Speaking lower.)
Don't talk so of your husband, there's a dear.
Before the little one. See how he looks at you.

Praxinoe. {To the little boy.)
There, don't look grave, child; cheer up, Zopy, sweet;
It isn't your papa we're talking of.



252 Ideals in Greek Literature

GoRGO (Aside.)
He thinks it is though.

Praxinoe
(To Gorgo.)

Oh, no — nice papa!
Well, this strange body once (let us say once
And then he won't know who we're telHng of),
Going to buy some washes and saltpetre.
Comes bringing salt! the great big simpleton!

Gorgo
And there's my precious ninny, Dioclede:
He gave for five old ragged fleeces, yesterday.
Ten drachmas! for mere dirt! trash upon trash!
But come; put on your things; button away.
Or we shall miss the show. It's the king's own:
And I am told the queen has made of it
A wonderful fine thing.

Praxinoe
Ay, luck has luck.
Well, tell us all about it; for we hear
Nothing in this vile place.

Gorgo

We haven't time.
Workers can't throw away their holidays.

Praxinoe
Some water, Eunoe and then, my fine one,
To take your rest again. Puss loves good lying.
Come; move, girl, move; some water, water first.
Look how she brings it! Now, then; — hold, hold, care-
less ;
Not quite so fast; you're wetting all my gown.
There; that'll do. Now, please the gods, I'm washed.
The key of the great chest — where 's that? Go fetch it.

(ExU Eunoe.)



Sicilian Idylls of Theocritus 253

GORGO

Praxinoe, that gown with the full skirts
Becomes you mightily. What did it cost you?

Praxinoe
Oh, don't remind me of it. More than one
Or two good pounds, besides the time and trouble.

GORGO

All of which you had forgotten.

Praxinoe

Ah, ha! True;
That's good. You're quite right.

{Reenter Eunoe.)
Come; my cloak; my cloak;
And parasol. There — help it on now, properly.

{To the little hoy.)
Child, child, you cannot go. The horse will bite it;
The Horrid Woman's coming. Well, well, simpleton,
Cry, if you will; but you must not get lamed.
Come, Gorgo. Phrygia, take the child ; and play with him ;
And call the dog indoors and lock the gate.

{They go out.)
Powers, what a crowd! How shall we get along?
Why, they're like ants! countless! innumerable!
Well, Ptolemy, you've done fine things, that's certain,
Since the gods took your father. No one nowadays
Does harm to travellers as they used to do,
After the Egyptian fashion, lying in wait, —
Masters of nothing but detestable tricks;
And all alike — a set of cheats and brawlers.
— Gorgo, sweet friend, what will become of us?
Here are the king's horse-guards! Pray, my good man,
Don't tread upon us so. See the bay horse!
Look how it rears! It's like a great mad dog.
How you stand, Eunoe! It will throw him! Certainly!
How lucky that I left the child at home.



254 Ideals in Greek Literature

GORGO

Courage, Praxinoe: they have passed us now;
They've gone into the courtyard.

Praxinoe

Good! I breathe again.
I never could abide in all my life
A horse and a cold snake.

GoRGO (Addressing an old woman.)
From court, mother?

Old Woman
Yes, child.

GORGO

Pray, is it easy to get in?

Old Woman
The Greeks got into Troy. Everything's done
By trying.

(Exit Old Woman.)

GORGO

Bless us! How she bustles off.
Why, the old woman's quite oracular.
But women must know everything; even what Juno
Wore on her wedding day. See now, Praxinoe,
How the gate's crowded

Praxinoe

Frightfully indeed.
Give me your hand, dear Gorgo; and do you
Hold fast of Eutychis's, Eunoe.
Don't let her go; don't stir an inch; and so
We'll all squeeze in together. Stick close now.
Oh me! oh mel My veil's torn right in two!
Do take care, my good man, and mind my cloak.



Sicilian Idylls of Theocritus 255

Man
*Twas not my fault, but I'll take care.

Praxinoe



They drive like pigs!



What heaps!

Man
Courage, old girl! All's safe.



Praxinoe
Blessings upon you, sir, now and forever,
For taking care of us. A good, kind soul.
How Eunoe squeezes us! Do, child, make way
For your own self. There; now, we've all got in.
As the man said when he was put in prison.

GORGO

Praxinoe, do look there! What lovely tapestry!

How fine and showy! One would think the gods did it.

Praxinoe
Holy Athene ! How these artists work !
How they do paint their pictures from the life !
The figures stand so like and move so like!
They're quite alive, not worked. Well, certainly,
Man's a wise creature.

Second Man
Do hold your tongue there ; Chatter, chatter, chatter.
The turtles stun one, with their yawning gabble.

GORGO

Hey-day! Whence comes the man? What is't to you
If we do chatter? Speak where you've a right.
You're not the master here. And as for that.
Our tongue's Peloponnesiac ; and we hope
It's lawful for the Dorians to speak Doric!



2^6 Ideals in Greek Literature

Praxinoe
We*ve but one master, by the Honey-sweet! »
And don't fear you, nor all your empty blows.

GORGO
Hush, hush, Praxinoe! There's the Grecian girl,
A most amazing creature, going to sing
About Adonis; she'll sing something fine,
I warrant. See how sweetly she prepares!

{The Song.)

GORGO

Well, if that's not a clever creature.

Trust me! Lord! What a quantity of things she knows!

And what a charming voice ! 'Tis time to go though, .

For there's my husband hasn't had his dinner.

And you'd best come across him when he wants it!

Good-bye, Adonis, darling, come again.

— Leigh Hunt.
This teeming world-city, where men of all nations
jostle each other, is more nearly akin to the Rome of the
empire than to the comparatively simple Greek life ex-
pressed in the best Hellenic literature and art. That Hfe
is already but a fading memory. Athens itself, in Theoc-
ritus' poetry, is as rarely mentioned, almost as remote, as
Homeric Troy. It is time to close the volume.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
There is a graceful poetical translation of Theocritus by
Calverly. The 'prose version of Lang includes the works of the
minor pastoral poets, Bion and Moschus, and also contains a
remarkably vivid and sympathetic introductory essay. B ion's
''Lament for Adonis" was translated by Leigh Hunt, Moschos*
"Dirge for Bion," by Mrs. Browning. Other versions from this
group of poets will be found in MiflBin's "Echoes of Greek Idyls,"
Sedgwick's "Sicilian Idyls," etc. See also Appleton's "Greek
Poets."

1 A name for FArSefrfione.




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Online LibraryWilliam Cranston LawtonIdeals in Greek literature → online text (page 15 of 15)