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Thus ended this noble library; and thus began, if it did not begin sooner, the age of barbarity and ignorance.
DIGRESSION TO A SHORT HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF ATHENS, FROM THE
TIME OF HER PERSIAN TRIUMPHS, TO THAT OF HER BECOMING SUBJECT TO THE TURKS. SKETCH, DURING THIS LONG INTERVAL, OF HER POLITICAL AND LITERARY STATE ; OF HER PHILOSOPHERS; OF HER GYMNASIA ; OF HER GOOD AND BAD FORTUNE, &c. &c. MANNERS OF THE PRESENT INHABITANTS. OLIVES AND HONEY.
Having mentioned Athens, I hope that celebrated city will justify a digression, and the more so, as that digression will terminate in events which belong to the very age of which we are now writing. But it is expedient to deduce matters from a much earlier period.
When the Athenians had delivered themselves from the tyranny of Pisistratus, and after this had defeated the vast efforts of the Persians, and that against two successive invaders, Darius and Xerxes, they may be considered as at the summit of their national glory. For more than half a century afterwards they maintained, without control, the sovereignty of Greece."
As their taste was naturally good, arts of every kind soon rose among them, and flourished. Valour had given them reputation ; reputation gave them an ascendant; and that ascendant produced a security, which left their minds at ease, and gave them leisure to cultivate every thing liberal or elegant."
It was then that Pericles adorned the city with temples, theatres, and other beautiful and public buildings. Phidias, the great sculptor, was employed as his architect, who, when he had erected edifices, adorned them himself, and added statues and basso-relievos, the admiration of every beholder. It was then that Polygnotus and Myro painted ; that Sophocles and Euripides wrote; and, not long after, that they saw the divine Socrates.
n For these historical facts, consult the See the note from a Greek manuscript ancient and modern authors of Grecian in the Treatise on Music, Painting, &c. history.
p. 25, where the progress of arts and • It was in a similar period of triumph, sciences, from their dawn to their meriafter a formidable adversary had been dian, is elegantly and philosophically excrushed, that the Romans began to culti- hibited. vate a more refined and polished literature. P See Plutarch's Life of Pericles, p. 350,
Post Punica bella quietus, quærere 351, 352, 353, 354, in the quarto Greek cæpit,
edition of Bryan, vol. i. and Stuart's AnQuid Sophocles, et Thespis, et Æschylus tiquities of Athens. utile ferrent.
Hor. Ep. ii. l. ii. 162.
Human affairs are by nature prone to change ; and states, as well as individuals, are born to decay. Jealousy and ambition insensibly fomented wars, and success in these wars, as in others, was often various. The military strength of the Athenians was first impaired by the Lacedæmonians; after that, it was again humiliated, under Epaminondas, by the Thebans; and last of all it was wholly crushed by the Macedonian, Philip.9
But though their political sovereignty was lost, yet, happily for mankind, their love of literature and arts did not sink along with it.
Just at the close of their golden days of empire flourished Xenophon and Plato, the disciples of Socrates ; and from Plato descended that race of philosophers called the Old Academy.'
Aristotle, who was Plato's disciple, may be said, not to have invented a new philosophy, but rather to have tempered the sublime and rapturous mysteries of his master with method, order, and a stricter mode of reasoning.'
Zeno, who was himself also educated in the principles of Platonism, only differed from Plato in the comparative estimate of things, allowing nothing to be intrinsically good but virtue, nothing intrinsically bad but vice, and considering all other things to be in themselves indifferent.
He, too, and Aristotle, accurately cultivated logic, but in different ways; for Aristotle chiefly dwelt upon the simple syllogism ; Zeno upon that which is derived out of it, the compound or hypothetic. Both, too, as well as other philosophers, cultivated rhetoric along with logic ; holding a knowledge in both to be requisite for those who think of addressing mankind with all the efficacy of persuasion. . Zeno elegantly illustrated the force of these two powers by a simile taken from the hand : the close power of logic he compared to the fist, or hand compressed; the diffuse power of rhetoric to the palm, or hand open."
I shall mention but two sects more, the New Academy, and the Epicurean.
9 See, as before, the several histories of illius similem eloquentiam esse dicebat. Greece.
Cicer. Orator. s. 113. " See Cic. de Fin. 1. v. and Academ. I. i. Both Peripatetics and Stoics wrote tracts 8. 5. p. 21. edit. Davisii.
of rhetoric as well as logic. The Rhetoric s See Hermes, p. 240.
of Aristotle is perhaps one of the most See Cicer. de Fin. I. iii. 6. 7, 8. 16. valuable remains of antiquity, and deThe beginning of the Enchiridion of Epic- servedly worth studying, be it for speculatetus, Των όντων τα μεν εφ' ημίν, κ. τ.λ. tion or practice. Diogen. Laert. in vita Zenon. 1. vii. s. 102. As for the rhetoric of the Stoics, there is
u Zeno quidem ille, a quo disciplina extant, among the Latin rhetoricians, pubStoicorum est, manu demonstrare solebat, lished in a thin quarto, by Plantin, at Paris, quid inter has artes [dialecticam scil. et an. 1599, a tract by Sulpitius Victor, called eloquentiam] interesset. Nam, cum com- Institutiones Oratoriæ, wherein he has this presserat digitos, pugnumque fecerat, dia- expression at the beginning : Zenonis prælecticam aiebat ejusmodi esse: cum autem cepta maxime persecutus. See p. 187 ; diduxerat, et manum dilataverat, palmæ also p. 288, 193, of the said treatise.
The New Academy, so called from the Old Academy, (the name given to the school of Plato,) was founded by Arcesilas, and ably maintained by Carneades. From a mistaken imitation of the great parent of philosophy, Socrates, (particularly as he appears in the Dialogues of Plato,) because Socrates doubted some things, therefore Arcesilas and Carneades doubted all.*
Epicurus drew from another source; Democritus bad taught him atoms and a void: by the fortuitous concourse of atoms, he fancied he could form a world ; while by a feigned veneration he complimented away his gods, and totally denied their providential care, lest the trouble of it should impair their uninterrupted state of bliss. Virtue he recommended, though not for the sake of virtue, but pleasure ; pleasure, according to him, being our chief and sovereign goed. It must be confessed, however, that, though his principles were erroneous, and even bad, never was a man more temperate and humane ; never was a man more beloved by his friends, or more cordially attached to them in affectionate esteem.
We have already mentioned the alliance between philosophy and rhetoric. This cannot be thought wonderful, if rhetoric be the art by which men are persuaded, and if men cannot be persuaded without a knowledge of human nature: for what, but philosophy, can procure us this knowledge ?
It was for this reason the ablest Greek philosophers not only taught, (as we hinted before,) but wrote also treatises upon rhetoric. They had a further inducement, and that was the intrinsic beauty of their language, as it was then spoken among the learned and polite. They would have been ashamed to have delivered philosophy, as it has been too often delivered since, in compositions as clumsy as the common dialect of the mere vulgar.
The same love of elegance which made them attend to their style, made them attend even to the places where their philosophy was taught.
Plato delivered his lectures in a place shaded with groves, on the banks of the river Ilissus ; and which, as it once belonged to a person called Academus, was called, after his name, the Academy. Aristotle chose another spot of a similar character, where there were trees and shade; a spot called the Lycæum.* Zeno taught in a portico or colonnade, distinguished from other buildings of that sort (of which the Athenians had many) by the name of the Variegated Portico, the walls being decorated with various paintings of Polygnotus and Myro, two capital masters of that transcendent period. Epicurus addressed his hearers in those well-known gardens, called, after his own name, the Gardens of Epicurus.
* Vid. Cic. Academ. 1. i. s. 13. p. 48. tending to establish his amiable character, edit. Dav. Itaque Arcesilas negabat esse however erroneous and blameable his docquicquam, &c.
See Diogen. Laert. 1. x. s. 9, &c. where 2 Vid. Diog. Laert. lib. iii. s. 7. Potter's an ample detail is given of Epicurus, his Arch. Græc, vol. i. p. 40. friends, his last will, and his death ; all a See Potter's Arch. Græc. vol. i. p. 40.
Some of these places gave names to the doctrines which were taught there. Plato's philosophy took its name of Academic from the Academy;c that of Zeno was called the Stoic, from a Greek word, signifying a portico."
The system indeed of Aristotle was not denominated from the place, but was called Peripatetic, from the manner in which he taught; from his walking about at the time when he disserted. The term, Epicurean philosophy, needs no explanation.
Open air, shade, water, and pleasant walks, seem above all things to favour that exercise, the best suited to contemplation, I mean gentle walking without inducing fatigue. The many agreeable walks in and about Oxford, may teach my own countrymen the truth of this assertion, and best explain how Horace lived, while a student at Athens, employed, (as he tells us)
Inter silvas academi quærere verum. These places of public institution were called among the Greeks by the name of Gymnasia, in which, whatever that word might have originally meant, were taught all those exercises, and all those arts, which tended to cultivate not only the body but the mind. As man was a being consisting of both, the Greeks could not consider that education as complete, in which both were not regarded, and both properly formed. Hence their Gymnasia, with reference to this double end, were adorned with two statues, those of Mercury and of Hercules; the corporeal accomplishments being patronised (as they supposed) by the god of strength, the mental accomplishments by the god of ingenuity.
b Of these two artists, it appears that to their ships ; Miltiades and the Greek Myro was paid, and that Polygnotus painted leaders being to be known by their porgratis, for which generosity he had the tes traits. timony of public honours. Plin. N. Hist. As the portico was large, and the pic 1. xxxv. cap. 9. s. 35.
tures were only four, these we may supWe learn from history, that the pictures pose must have been large likewise, for it which adorned this portico were four ; two is probable they occupied the whole space. on the back part of it, (open to the colon- Vid. Pausan. Attic. lib. i. c. 15. p. 36. edit. nade) and a picture at each end, upon the Lips. 1696. right and left.
From the painting of this portico to the We learn also the subjects : on one of time of Honorius, when it was defaced, the sides, a picture of the Athenian and stripped, and its pictures destroyed, (Synes. Lacedæmonian armies at Enoe (an Argive Epist. 135.) was an interval of about eight city) facing each other and ready to en- hundred years. gage: on the back ground, or middle part It may merit inquiry among the curious, of the portico, the battle between the upon what sort of surface, and with what Athenians under Theseus, and the Ama- sort of colours, pictures were painted, that zons: next to that, on the same middle, could endure so long. the Grecian chiefs, after the taking of Troy, © See the note, next after the following. deliberating upon the violence offered by « Στοά, Στωικοί. Ajax to Cassandra, Ajax himself being pre- e Qui erant cum Aristotele, Peripatetici sent, together with Cassandra and other dicti sunt, quia disputabant inambulantes in captive Trojan women : lastly, on the other Lyceo ; illi autem, qui Platonis instituto side of the portico opposite to the first, the in academia, quod est alterum gymnasium, triumphant victory at Marathon, the Bar- cætus erant et sermones habere soliti, e barians pushed into the morass, or demo- loci vocabulo nomen habuerunt. Cic. Acalished, while they endeavoured to escape dem. I. i. c. 4. p. 21. edit. Davis.
It is to be feared, that many places, now called academies, scarce deserve the name upon this extensive plan, if the professors teach no more than how to dance, fence, and ride upon horses.
It was for the cultivation of every liberal accomplishment that Athens was celebrated (as we have said) during many centuries, long after her political influence was lost and at an end.
When Alexander the Great died, many tyrants, like many hydras, immediately sprung up. Athens then, though she still maintained the form of her ancient government, was perpetually checked and humiliated by their insolence. Antipater destroyed her orators, and she was sacked by Demetrius. At length she became subject to the all-powerful Romans, and found the cruel Sylla her severest enemy.
His face (which perhaps indicated his manners) was of a purple red, intermixed with white. This circumstance could not escape the witty Athenians: they described him in a verse, and ridiculously said,
Sylla's face is a mulberry, sprinkled with meal.b The devastations and carnage which he caused soon after, gave them too much reason to repent their sarcasm.
The civil war between Cæsar and Pompey soon followed, and their natural love of liberty made them side with Pompey. Here again they were unfortunate, for Cæsar conquered. But Cæsar did not treat them like Sylla. With that clemency, which made so amiable a part of his character, he dismissed them by a fine allusion to their illustrious ancestors, saying, that he spared the living for the sake of the dead.
Another storm followed soon after this, the wars of Brutus and Cassius with Augustus and Antony. Their partiality for liberty did not here forsake them : they took part in the contest with the two patriot Romans, and erected their statues near their own ancient deliverers, Harmodius and Aristogiton, who had slain Hipparchus. But they were still unhappy, for their enemies triumphed.
f Vid. Athen. Deipnos. l. xiii. p. 561. edit. Bryan, quarto. edit. Lugduni, 1657, fol. Sometimes the For his devastations of the groves in the two gods were made into one statue. Such Academy and Lyceum, his demolition of compound statues were called épuépaklan their fine buildings, and, above all, his cruel See Cic. ad Atticum, 1. i. epist. 10.
massacre of the inhabitants, when he took 8 See the writers (ancient and modern) the city, see pages 61, 63, 64, 65, of the of Grecian history.
same work, in the same edition. The original verse is a Trochaïc: i Vid. Meursium de Fortuna Athenarum, Συκάμινον εσθ' ο Σύλλασ, άλφίτη πεπασ- in Gronov. Thesaur. Antiquitat. Græcar. μένον. .
vol. v. p. 1745, 1746. Plutarch. in vit. Syllæ, vol. iii. p. 44.