Page images

this to go on for months and years without a strong impression being produced, and men at last begin to believe the echo of their own lie.

Pheidias (according to the account followed by our author) was poisoned in prison by the machinations of his enemies; as Ephialtes, another intimate friend of Pericles, had been assassinated by them. They proceeded to impeach Pericles himself for the ten talents missing in the public accounts, with which he had bribed the Spartan general. He had exhibited it under the heading : Money well laid out;' and stiffly refused all explanation. But as Athenian acuteness perfectly understood what influences could alone have made a Spartan army so retire, the accusers wholly failed of their aim; and, as a last blow, they attacked Aspasia, for a double crime :-impiety, which could easily be fastened upon her, and, (what shows their confidence that some of the mud thrown by the comedians had stuck,) on the charge that she, like Pheidias, had made her house a receptacle of harlot free women as a convenience to Pericles! This was the crisis of Pericles's fortune. He determined to defend Aspasia himself, but was so unnerved by the full perception that her legal guilt (as regards impiety) was clear, that he could plead with nothing but tears : and his judges were so moved, as at once to decree that she was innocent, although (unawares) breaking their juror's oath by so doing. His enemies had now shot their last bolt: his leading opponent, Thucydides, son of Melesias, the most respectable man among them, was ostracized, or banished for ten years, and the rest shrunk into insignificance. Having divorced, by mutual agreement, a rich wife who had long been a torment to him, he married his beloved Aspasia, and lived with her in uninterrupted harmony and singular warmth of mutual affection to the day of his death; enjoying her counsels on all affairs of moment, abstaining from every kind of public or private festivity, and finding within the walls of his own happy home a relaxation and an enjoyment which nothing else could give. Thus a woman of Miletus, neither rich nor noble, whose fame had been aspersed by the foulest imputations,--and to whom, as not being an Athenian citizen, the Attic law refused the appellation of wife,-filled the soul of the great Pericles, and would have taught Athenian matrons, could they have understood, what a wife and mother ought to be. Such are the materials for the fascinating book now before us. The author has interwoven several fictitious characters with much skill : of whom the most interesting are,- the young pupils of Aspasia ; Glycera the beautiful luteplayer, who becomes miserable in a life of Athenian dissipation and is converted (to borrow a Chris

tian term) by a discourse from Anaxagoras ; Leostratos, a rough veteran of the school of Cimon; and Glaucon, a young nobleman, of much wit and good temper, who has sided with his own order, but refuses to be dragged through the mire by them and by Cleon. It is high time, however, to exhibit by quotations the author's style of description and dramatic method. We begin with a conversation of Socrates with a fuller, Philoxenos.

"And so thou hast shut up thy shop and put on the philosopher's gown, Socrates! I fear thou hast made but a bad exchange, though indeed I have been told that thou hast the charge of the noble Criton's young son, and if so, it might not be so bad a thing. But I cannot fancy tbat.'

"Why not?' asked the young sculptor.

"Because the child is a mere baby, and wants a nurse rather than a tutor.'

"But when thou wouldest train a dog, Philoxenos, dost thou not begin with him while he is a puppy ?'

7. Yes, but children are not puppies. Who ever thinks of worrying a baby with learning ? What can be taught to a child only just out of his nurse's arms ?'

"Truly, Philoxenos, I must think about what thou art saying; for if this be so, I ought not to let Criton deceive himself, and fancy that I can do anything towards the education of his son. Thou shouldest be a judge, too, in this matter, for thou also hast à son. How does he get on ?

1. Oh, bravely, bravely. Thou wouldest laugh to see how gravely be sets about to clean the spots out of his little tunic, and then goes to his mother to be paid for it: he knows the price. too. as well as I do ; and if she does not give him the money he asks, he threatens, and swears, and calls all the gods to witness, just as I should do myself if I got a bad customer. Ha! ha! ha! It was but yesterday that I heard him threaten to take her before the Thesmothetai for refusing him bis due.'

And where did he learn all this? "Oh, he has heard me say so : he is always about in the shop with me. I like him to see how things are managed, because, by and by, I hope he will be able to carry on the business, and take some of the weight off my shoulders when I grow old.

i.But why shouldest thou trouble thyself with bim? Why not leave him to the Carian yonder to be taught what is needful ?'

r. Wby! thou dost not surely imagine that yonder fellow, whom I bought only a year or two ago, à grown man, has learned already to understand my business! He is a good fellow enough, but stupid and untaught.'

i Tben thou thinkest that thy child will learn something of the business by being constantly with thee, and seeing thy mode of carrying it on ?'

"Certainly; that was the way that I learned it of my father; and he will do as I did, I doubt not.'

"I think then that I may set my mind at rest about Criton's plans.'

" Why so ? What has that to do with my business?

"Hast thou not told me that the way to make a child expert in any business is to bring him up among ihose who understand it well ?'

i. Yes, but what then?'

"Why, Criton's business is that of a statesman and a warrior, and he wishes his son to be brought up in habits which sball fit him for succeeding to his father in his employments. If a child learns to speak of a Phrygian slave, how can it be expected that he will express himself correctly ?!

1. Truly, I did not think of that.'

"And hast thou not generally perceived that those unfortunate people who have been reduced by fortune to but one degree above beasts of burthen, acquire ill-habits from their mode of life ? that fear makes them liars, and that hardships and the want of higher aims make them gluttonous and selfish ?

" "Yes, certainly.'

" Then if children are so quick in catching up all they hear and see, is there not danger that if they are placed in a nursery among persons whose language is barbarous, and whose manners are brutal and selfish, they will become assimilated to the people they live among ?

" I suppose there is, but yet every body does so.'

• And, perhaps, that is the reason why there are so few fine speakers among us, and so many, whose licentious m..nners are a reproach to the country. Criton probably thinks so, and wishes his child's first words to be pure Attic, and his first sentiments those of a generous and free spirit.'

Truly, Socrates, thou hast a clever way of putting things—now I had never thought of all this.'

"Nay, but thou hadst thought of it; for instead of setting thy slave to teach My son, thou hast taught him thyself. Thank the gods that they did not give thee wealth enough to ruin thy child by aping the bad customs of the rich.''- vol. i. pp. 70–73.

The outrageous insolence and wickedness of the young aristocracy* are painted by him in colours as dark-and, alas ! as true-as the ignorance, selfishness, and levity of the populace. An affecting story is ingeniously founded on a statement of a comic writer, that the rage of the Athenians against Megara was caused by the Megarensians having carried off two harlotgirls of Aspasia. He interprets it as follows. A young noble

• When he represents the more moderate of the nobles rallying round Pericles, in the attack made on Aspasia-a well-conceived and better execuled idea, we miss the name of Nicias, or of his father Niceratus, who must have been by far the most influential of this small party,

man, named Glycon, pulled off the veils of two of Aspasia's pupils, when they were walking with her in the street : upon which Aspasia ordered the slaves in attendance to beat Glycon; a result which was prevented only by the interference of Pheidias, who himself became entangled in quarrel with Glycon by the hanghty refusal of the latter to make any other apology than that of casting on the ladies epithets of ribaldry. Glycon, in revenge for the threat of beating him, incites a Megarian slavedealer to carry off the two young ladies and sell them for slaves in Asia; having laid a plot for enticing them to the coast to see some parrots, and authorized the slaver to carry off also Glycon's own slave—the go-between of the affair—on whose person a sum of money is to be found. The plot is accomplished, too successfully. Two Attic triremes are sent in pursuit, as soon as the discovery is made; but night comes on before they can overtake the slave ship, which then escapes by changing its course. The young girls, Lydè and Aretè, daughters of honourable Athenian families, on understanding their dreadful situation, choose to die rather than to live. The slave. dealer, wishing to keep them in good spirits, takes off their chains, and tells them that they are to become queens of Persian satraps ; so fancying that he has softened them, he at length leaves them to repose.

The first dawn was just beginning to colour the eastern sky when the cessation of the plash of the oars told the young girls that the moment they had been watching for had arrived. They looked round; the captain was lying wrapped in bis mantle on the deck in a profound sleep; even the helmsman was nodding at his post : all Fas yet dark, and they crept silently from their coverings towards the ship's side: with noiseless steps they glided towards the prow, and then pausing for an instant, Lydé pressed her lips on the forebead of the fair child, and bound her robes tightly round her, taking the same precaution herself. Now, Areté,' whispered she-'a firm step, and a spring without faltering, and we are free-free as Arbenian maidens should be: give me thy hand,' and she bound their two wrists together with the chain; then holding by a rope, they mounted the most projecting part. *Now, dearest, art thou ready ?'

Areté pressed her hand-it was her answer: the slumbering rowers heard a plash in the waves, which broke their rest for an instant, and the helmsman roused himself; but all was silent again, and they sank back into heavy sleep : the bark dristed on

That evening some fishermen cast their drag near the shore, beside the promontory of Sunium ; and when with difficulty they bad drawn it in, were astonished at finding the bodies of two young girls entangled in the net; their hands bound together by a golden chain; their fingers interclasped even in death. The dress and



ornaments spoke them to be Athenians of rank; and the poor men were yet in consultation what was to be done, when a galley, ap. parently of Athenian build, hove in sight. They immediately made signals as well as they were able, and two of them, jumping into another skiff, rowed off towards the vessel which had seen their signals, and was now making for the shore. It was one of those which had been sent from Peiræus the evening before, and was that in which Pyrilampes himself had embarked, and resolutely pursued his course even when his companion galley had returned homewards after their ineffectual inspection of the Megarean ports.

The fishermen's tale was soon told ; and Pyrilampes, almost convinced that he should there find the fatal termination of his quest, threw himself at once into the skiff, and bade them carry bim to the spot. There, on the shore, lay the two fair girls, so gently composed, that but for the ashy paleness of death they might have been thought asleep: the right arm of Lydé was still firmly clasped round the waist of Areté ; the arm of Areté was round the neck of Lydé : their decently-composed dress, their hair still braided and bound with the golden fillets which they had worn the evening before; the gold chain still twisted round their small wrists ; all told of a resolutely prepared and peaceful death; there had evidently not been one struggle for life. Pyrilampes bent over them :—the dress, the features, were not to be mistaken, and his quest was over. Many a time had he seen death in the field or on the waves- but thus bereft of all its proud circumstances, with only its sad silence-its marble beauty-he had not seen it; and the warrior of many a battle bowed his head, and wept over the fair flowers that lay cropped at his feet.' -ib, pp. 161–163.

We regret that it is impossible to do more than select partial extracts, which, however beautiful, do the author injustice when thus dislocated. In the episode from which we have quoted, it may be seen how much secondary information is imparted unostentatiously. The reader sees, without its being named, what cruel feuds, in that little world, might grow up between states, in consequence of acts committed by individual citizens, in which none but themselves were guilty: also, how dreadfully the slave-trade facilitated every species of crime, to the misery of the free population. On the state of slavery also the author has just and pointed remarks, for which we cannot make room; to the effect, that most slaves were glad to be engaged by their masters in a scandalous intrigue, because it generally secured good treatment to them, else the master might chance to be betrayed in a moment of passion. On the other hand, as slaves were never examined by the magistrate without torture, the master had not the least fear that bribes, or any calculations of interest, would lead his slaves to treachery.

Without any direct allusion to questions of modern contro

t fear magistrate otherance to

« PreviousContinue »