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barely what possibly may have been, but that which gives a vivid picture of the times; being a more brilliant assemblage of countless rays under one focus, than can anywhere be hoped for in the dim and fragmentary records of past times. In no other way can deep impressions of reality be so effcctually given, unless by rare good fortune we possess some minute contemporary or personal biography: and even then, the writer is always apt to omit, as known, the very details which, to a foreign reader or after a long lapse of time, are needed to fill up the scene. History itself, as written by a contemporary, may even mislead one who is unaware of customs and manners assumed by the historian as familiar to his readers : hence to assist the knowledge of ancient time, special books on Antiquities are diligently compiled, in which everything of the kind is registered. We do not undervalue these aids to students; and used as books of reference, they are as needful in their way as dictionaries. But as no one will improve by reading his dictionary straight through, so, we fear, it is a hopeless thing to learn Antiquities by single study of the books which profess to treat of them. Unless the imagination or affections be stimulated, the memory cannot retain what is poured in so profusely upon it; or even if it could, it would be dry and barren. But when the information is interwoven with a pleasant tale, it can be imbibed with delight even by the young and previously unlearned.
Such considerations had pressed themselves on the mind of the Abbé Barthelemi in the last century, and issued in the production of his very elaborate work, entitled Anacharsis the Younger in Greece; on which he had been occupied thirty years. On the score of erudition, nothing is to be said against this arduous and able book; but we believe a sentence has long since past against it, that it is wanting in interest, as well as in dramatic and narrative skill. The qualities needed in a writer of such a work are very numerous. He should have the imagination and pictorial power of a poet, with the accuracy of a man of learning; the freedom of genius, with a power of curbing it at will. If, over and above, he selects for his leading characters names well known in history, he gains thereby some great advantages in the interest attached to his story, but involves himself in one more danger,—that of corrupting the truth of history for the sake of his tale: in fact,-unless the events themselves are so stirring or so remarkable as to give full interest to the narrative, independently of all doubtful questions, -he can scarcely hope to reconcile the conflicting demands of history and fiction.
In such difficulties, to a certain extent, the author before us has entangled himself, by his deliberate purpose to make his work at once, (what it is,) a beautiful and bewitching narrrative, and a historical justification of the great PERICLES. His notes, as well as preface, show him to be anxiously striving to introduce nothing with the air of history which is not at least probably true: for which reason, before concluding our notice, we shall add some remarks on the extent to which he seems to us to have succeeded or failed in his aim. At present we address ourselves to the tale as it stands.
In the year 445, before the Christian era, the Athenians had narrowly escaped from a dangerous combination of circumstances. They had extended their empire over a far greater surface of Greece than they were able to hold. Bæotia and Phocis had just thrown off the yoke, and defeated, with great loss, an Athenian army, which marched against them. Eubea revolted, and when Pericles crossed over thither with a large force, a Spartan army invaded Attica, and threatened Athens herself. From these pressing dangers Pericles extricated her, by a bribe of ten talents to the Spartan general Cleandridas, who commanded for the young king* Pleistoanax, then a mere boy; upon which, to the agreeable surprise of the Athenians, the Spartans withdrew after a few trivial and sham attacks. This left Pericles free to reconquer Eubea, and then conclude an honourable peace, called the thirty years truce. Such is the crisis of affairs with which the Tale of Athens, opens. At this time Pericles, as of high aristocratic birth, yet head of the democratic party, is the most influential individual in the state ; but he has to struggle against the jealousy of the older aristocrats, men of no talent, attached to old things because they are old, and against the enmity of the younger nobles, among whom a profligacy of the deepest dye is making fearful inroads. They receive aid from the wealth and impudence of newly-risen commoners, who have no other bond to the nobility than a common opposition to Pericles; of these men the most signal is Cleon, son of Cleænetus, a tanner, a man of ready eloquence, long purse, t and disgusting vices. This harmonious opposition select as a butt of attack peculiarly galling to Pericles, the professors of the new philosophy then rising in Athens, with whom Pericles has become united in most intimate friendship, and from whom he had imbibed much of the virtue and nobleness which still makes his name stand out in proud preeminence.
• The author has twice (by error of memory ?) written Leotychides for Pleistoanax.
† The author talks freely of 'purses of gold:' can this be correct ? Gold coins, we apprehend, were too scarce to be current for common purposes.
On this band of philosophers, shall we say, or saints and martyrs ? the whole interest of the tale turns. Their leader is the old Anaxagoras, the apostle of his age, and true founder of what. ever was holy and lovely, and of much that was scientifically true, in Athenian philosophy. Born at Clazomenæ, and heir to an ample patrimony, he felt himself called to higher service than that of administering wealth, and voluntarily abandoned it to his relations, directing his steps to Athens, as the centre of Grecian influence. Here he commenced lecturing publicly to all who would attend him, and, first among the Greeks, expounded the great doctrine, that the Gods were not (as the common mythology taught) the giant first-born children of nature, nor was this universe made by chance or self-causation; but that all was moulded under the direction of a single presiding* MIND, which alone is God, and that he is neither in shape nor in nature like ourselves. This doctrine, in connexion with expositions of natural philosophy and mathematics, had been taught so long and perseveringly, yet with little public notice, as already to have produced a sensible effect. The sage lived on voluntary gifts from his disciples, and though often in great penury (once, it is said, at the point of starvation), had made no change in his method; poor, therefore, as well as rich, were occasionally found among his hearers. One of them was a young man, who lived by the trade of stonecutter, Socrates, son of Sophroniscus, whom the discourses of Anaxagoras so fascinated, that he abandoned his workshop for philosophy, and, for a scanty remuneration, performed a dnty 'abandoned in Athens to slaves—that of tutor to a little boy. Another eminent disciple of the Clazomenian philosopher was Euripides, son of Mnesarchus, already at this time a man of middle age, who, after studying painting and rhetoric, finally chose, as the business of his long remaining life, the tragic drama, with the express object of inculcating the moral and spiritual views of Anaxagoras, and of undermining the popular mythology when it became dangerous to attack it directly. A more interesting pupil still was the beautiful, eloquent, and ardent Aspasia, a native of Miletus; who, scorning the trammels which Athenian customs had imposed on women, eagerly sought after truth in the lecture room of Anaxagoras; and becoming, in turn, herself a teacher, at the early age of five-and-twenty, discoursed of sublime truths not only to such young ladies as Athenian parents would entrust to her, but also before warriors, statesmen, and young men, if curiosity or interest induced them to
* The graceless wits of Athens, it appears from Plutarch, nicknamed Anaxagoras, vous.
seek opportunities of hearing her. Her youthful zeal overleapt the limits of discretion which the cautious age of Anaxagoras imposed on itself; and refrained not from direct and vehement expressions of disgust at the impure exhibitions and ceremonies which at Athens passed for religion ; in which, moreover, the young women were expected to walk with demure and downcast eyes, listening to the insults of wanton youths, who affected to be 'possessed by Bacchus.' The restraints put upon her sex she boldly assailed as ruinous to public morals; since, by degrading the female intellect, it disgusted the men with their wives (who were married to them without any other previous knowledge than a glimpse of their faces in some holy procession), and thus drew after it evils too dreadful for the female tongue to state. So great was the eloquence, and so bewitching were the powers of this extraordinary woman, that the universal opinion of antiquity ascribed to her tuition the refined perfection which the oratory of Pericles-a man her senior by fifteen or twenty years—finally attained.*
The poorer Athenians felt the loss of the open table, which the wealthy Cimon used to keep; for Cimon had been dead four years, and Pericles was too poor to rival him. It was easy, then, for the aristocratical faction to alarm them by reports that the philosophers were aiming to put down the sacrifices to the gods, from which the indigent obtained doles of meat, highly relished on a holyday. Pericles, moreover, through disgust at the impurity of the comedies—even before the comedians had begun to attack him with intolerable ribaldry-systematically it would seem) absented himself from such representations. It is further handed down, that his deportment, as that of Anaxagoras and Euripides, was habitually grave and serious ; and it was easy to represent the whole set as bent on abolishing the comedies, and every thing in which the jollity of life consisted. The comedians joined the coalition against the philosophers, and Hermippus in particular, though not alone, acted the part of slanderer against them, as effectually as Aristophanes a little later. When the public mind had been thus worked up, Diopeithes succeeded in carrying a law for the better observance of the national religion, and keeping up the sacrificest;' which, under
• The only credible interpretation of this, is, that Pericles had previously been a prosaic man of the world; but that the enthusiasm of Aspasia opened new sluices in his heart, developed his moral sentiments and imaginative powers, and thereby affected his very style of eloquence.
+ The words of the decree, as given by Plutarch (Pericles, ch. 32). are, • That whoever do not believe in the divinities, [or, things divine ? rà deiaj or who teach concerning sublime matters (uetapoiwv] shall be capitally inpeached.'
this pretence, brought under question of his life any one who should be found guilty of disbelief in the gods of the Pantheum. (This law, in the author's judgment, proved the ruin of philosophy in Athens, by forcing all moral teachers into hypocrisy, or silencing and expelling those who could not submit to it.) Anaxagoras was impeached by it, and, of necessity, condemned; for it could not be questioned that he had 'taught concerning sublime matters,' which was treasonable by the law; but after condemnation, his mild behaviour, and the influence of Pericles, easily gained a softening of the sentence into exile.*
Another blow was given against Pericles through his friend, the great sculptor Pheidias. There is nothing to show that he sympathized with the unbelief of the philosophers, farther than the fact that he (like Socrates) was a godbuilder; but it is by no means probable that the crowd discerned how hard it was for such a one to revere the works of his own hands. By suborning perjury of one of the workmen, Pheidias was accused of embezzling the gold placed on the statue of Minerva : and although he easily parried the attack by taking the gold off, and weighing it, he was condemned to imprisonment for the secondary charge of having placed on the shield of the goddess, figures resembling that of Pericles and his own: moreover, as a reward to the perjured informer, the people (says Plutarch) voted him exemption from taxes, and commended his person to the special care of the generals! Since at this very moment Pericles was highly popular, it is evident that such votes must have been carried by the coalition, through artful management and packing' of the assembly; and this was by far the worst point in the little democracies of antiquity, that they gave so large room for oligarchical intrigue, which accomplished atrocious crimes under the colours of wildest liberty. Pheidias, while in prison, had new slanders thrown on him, more directly affecting Pericles. It was alleged, that he had made his house a place of accommodation for gratifying the sensual appetites of Pericles, and received, by way of payment, the many good jobs' which Pericles found for him. The Athenians appear to have enjoyed the most unbridled and disgusting slander against great men, even when it was too absurd to believe : and, perhaps, because they counted it mere fun and nonsense, they felt no scruple in encouraging it without limit. But it is impossible for
* This would probably have been the case with Socrates many years later, had he not, by his harsh defiance of the jury, and proud demand that they would reward, not punish him, exasperated them into a conviction, that he was an incurable enemy of popular government, and that he had trained up Alcibiades, with Critias, and others of the aristocracy, to the despotic sentiments from which Athens had so bitterly suffered.