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rapture he mentions the other. “What (says he) shall I say of the beauteous Helen ; of her who brought together all Greece against Troy? Did she mitigate these immitigable, these ironhearted men? No, (says he,) nothing like it could even she affect, who had before enslaved so many spectators with her beauty."
After this he describes her dress, and then proceeds to her person; which description, as it is something singular, I have endeavoured to translate more strictly.
“ Her lips, (says he,) like opening flowers, were gently parted, as if she was going to speak : and as for that graceful smile, which instantly met the beholder, and filled him with delight; those elegant curvatures of her eye-brows, and the remaining harmony of her figure; they were what no words can describe, and deliver down to posterity."
He then breaks into an exclamation : “But, O! Helen, thou pure and genuine beauty; offspring of the loves; decorated by the care of Venus; most exquisite of nature's gifts; prize of contest between Trojans and Grecians; where was thy Nepenthes, that soothing draught which thou learnedst in Egypt? Where thy irresistible love-charms? Why didst thou not employ them now, as thou didst in days of yore? Alas! I fear it was destined by fate, that thou shouldst perish by flames; thou, who didst not cease even in thy statue to inflame beholders into love. I could almost say that these sons of Æneas had de. molished thee by fire, as a species of retaliation for the burning of their Troy, as those flames were kindled by thy unfortunate amours.
I have been thus particular in these relations, and have translated for the greater part the very words of the historian, not only because the facts are little known, but because they tend to prove, that even in those dark ages (as we have too many reasons to call them) there were Greeks still extant, who had a taste for the finer arts, and an enthusiastic feeling of their exquisite beauty. At the same time, we cannot without indignation reflect on these brutal crusaders, who, after many instances of sacrilegious avarice, related by Nicetas in consequence of their success, could destroy all these, and many other precious remains of antiquity, melting them down (for they were of brass) into money to pay their soldiers, and exchanging things of inestimable value for a poor pittance of contemptible coin."
* *Αρ' εμείλιξε τους δυσμειλίκτους ; άρ', αυτόθεν καλόν, Ερώτων μόσχευμα, 'Αφροδίεμάλθαξε τους σιδηρόφρονας ; ου μήν ούν της τημέλούχημα, πανάριστον φύσεως δώουδε όλως τοιούτον τι δεδύνηται και πάντα ρημα, Τρώων και Ελλήνων βράβευμα, που θεατήν τώ κάλλει δουλαγωγήσασα, καίπερ, σοι το Νηπενθές, κ. τ. λ. Ιbid. p. 413.
Fabric. ut supra, p. 412, 413. * Κεκόφασιν [αγάλματα] εις νομίσμα, "Ην δε και τα χείλη, καλύκων δίκην, ανταλασσόμενοι μικρών τα μεγάλα, και τα ηρέμα παρανοιγόμενα, ώς και δοκεϊν, κ. τ.λ. δαπάναις πονηθέντα μεγίσταις ούτιδανών Ibid. p. 413.
αντιδιδόντες κερμάτων. Ιbid. p. 408. Η 'Αλλ' Ω Τυνδαρίς Ελένη, κάλλος
They surely were what Nicetas well calls them, toû kalon åvépaotou Búpßapoi, “ barbarians devoid of taste for the beautiful and fair.'y
And yet it is remarkable, that these sad and savage events happened more than a century after these adventurers had first passed into the East, above four-score years of which time they had possessed the sovereignty of Palestine. But Cælum, non animum mutant, &c.
Hor. Though I have done with these events, I cannot quit the Greeks without adding a word upon Constantinople, as to literature and language, just before the fatal period when it was taken by the Turks. There is more stress to be laid upon my quotations, as they are transcribed from authors who lived at the time, or immediately after.
Hear what Philelphus says, who was himself at Constantinople in that part of the fifteenth century, while the Greek empire still subsisted. “Those Greeks (says he) whose language has not been depraved, and whom we ourselves both follow and imitate, speak even at this time, in their ordinary talk, as the comic Aristophanes did, or the tragic Euripides; as the orators would talk ; as the historians; as the philosophers themselves, even Plato and Aristotle.”a
Speaking afterwards of the corruption of the tongue in that city by the concourse of traders and strangers, he informs us, that the people belonging to the court still retained “ the ancient dignity and elegance of speech; and, above all, the women of quality, who, as they were wholly precluded from strangers, still preserved that genuine and pure speech of the ancient Greeks, uncorrupted."
y I have given the words of Nicetas Epist. in Hodii de Græcis illustribus, lib. i. himself, which precede the passage just p. 188. quoted. In another part of his narrative b The same Philelphus, in the same he styles them illiterate barbarians, who epistle, adds, Nam viri aulici veterem serabsolutely did not know their A B C.- monis dignitatem atque elegantiam retineπαρ' άγραμμάτοις βαρβάροις, και τέλεον bant ; in primisque ipse nobiles mulieres, αναλφαβήτοις, p. 414.
quibus cum nullum esset omnino cum viris * It ought to be observed, that though the peregrinis commercium, merus ille ac purus narrative of Nicetas, whence these extracts Græcorum sermo servabatur intactus. Hod. are taken, appear not in the printed editions, ut supra. (being probably either through fraud, or It is somewhat singular, that what Phishame, or both, designedly omitted,) yet lelphus relates concerning the women of bas it been published by that honest and rank at the court of Constantinople, should learned critic Fabricius, in the sixth volume be related by Cicero concerning the women of his Bibliotheca Græca here quoted, and of rank in the polished days of the Roman is still extant in a fair and ancient manu- commonwealth ; concerning Cornelia, mother script of the two last books of Nicetas, of the Gracchi; concerning Lælia, daughter preserved in the Bodleian library.
of the great Lælius ; concerning the Muciæ, & Græci, quibus lingua depravata non sit, the Liciniæ ; in short, the mothers, wives, et quos ipsi tum sequimur, tum imitamur, and daughters of the most illustrious Romans ita loquuntur vulgo hac etiam in tempestate, of that illustrious age. ut Aristophanes comicus, ut Euripides Cicero accounts for the purity of their tragicus, ut oratores omnes, ut philosophi language, and for its being untainted with etiam ipsi et Plato et Aristoteles. Philelph. vitious novelty, precisely as Philelphus does. Facilius enim mulieres incorruptam mosthenis, Xenophontis, Thucydidis, Basilii, antiquitatem conservant, quod, multorum Dionysii, Origenis et aliorum multa Latinis sermonis expertes, ea tenent semper, quæ opera diebus nostris manifestata sunt; prima didicerunt.
Æneas Sylvius, afterwards pope by the name of Pius the Second, was the scholar of this Philelphus. A long letter of his is extant upon the taking of Constantinople by Mahomet; a letter addressed to a cardinal, just after that fatal event. Speaking of the fortune of the city, he observes, that New Rome (for so they often called Constantinople) had subsisted, from its foundation to its capture, nearly the same number of years with Old Rome; that between Romulus, the founder of Old Rome, and the Goth, Alaric, who took it, was an interval of about eleven hundred years; and that there was nearly the same interval between Constantine and Mahomet the Great.
He observes, that though this last city had been taken before, it had never before suffered so total and so fatal a change. “ Till this period (says he) the remembrance of ancient wisdom remained at Constantinople; and, as if it were the mansion, the seat of letters, no one of the Latins could be deemed sufficiently learned, if he had not studied for some time at Constantinople. The same reputation for sciences, which Athens had in the times of ancient Rome, did Constantinople appear to possess in our times. It was thence that Plato was restored to us; it was thence that the works of Aristotle, Demosthenes, Xenophon, Thucydides, Basil, Dionysius, Origen, and others, were in our days made known; and many more in futurity we hoped would become so. But now, as the Turks have conquered," &c.
A little further in the same epistle, when he expresses his fears lest the Turks should destroy all books but their own, he subjoins, “Now therefore both Homer, and Pindar, and Menander, and all the more illustrious poets, will undergo a second death. Now will a final destruction find its way to the Greek philosophers. A little light will remain perhaps among the Latins, but that I apprehend will not be long, unless God from heaven will look upon us with a more favourable eye, and grant a better fortune either to the Roman empire, or to the apostolic see,” &c.
multa quoque in futurum manifestanda This passage is no small strengthening sperabamus. Nunc vero, vincentibus Turcis, of Philelphus's authority. See Cicer. de &c. Æneæ Sylv. Epist. p. 704, 705. edit. Oratore iii. 45. et de Claris Orator, s. 211. Basil. 1551.
c Itaque mansit in hunc diem vetustæ . Nunc ergo et Homero, et Pindaro, sapientiæ apud Constantinopolim monu- Menandro, et omnibus illustrioribus poetis mentum: ac, velut ibi domicilium literarum secunda mors erit; nunc Græcorum philoesset, et arx summæ philosophiæ, nemo sophorum ultima patebit interitus. Restabit Latinorum satis doctus videri poterat, nisi aliquid lucis apud Latinos ; at, fateor, neque Constantinopoli aliquandem studuisset ; id erit diuturnum, nisi mitiori nos oculo quodque florente Roma doctrinarum nomen Deus ex alto respexerit, fortunamque vel habuerunt Athenæ, id tempestate nostra imperio Romano, vel apostolicæ sedi præbuvidebatur Constantinopolis obtinere. Inde erit meliorem, &c. Ibid. p. 705, 706. nobis Plato redditus: inde Aristotelis, De- Those who have not the old edition of
It must be remarked, that, in this epistle, by Latins' he means the Western Europeans, as opposed to the Greeks, or Eastern; and that by the Roman empire, (just before mentioned,) he means the Germanic body.
The author's apprehensions for the fate of letters in the West was premature; for, upon the destruction of this imperial city, the number of learned Greeks, which this event drove into those Western parts of Europe; the favour of the popes and the Medici family, shewn at this period to literature; together with the then recent invention of printing, which, by multiplying copies of books, made them so easy to be purchased ; all this (I say) tended to promote the cause of knowledge and of taste, and to put things into that train in which we hope they may long continue.
Besides Philelphus, Æneas Sylvius, and many others, who were Italians, I might mention two Greeks of the same age, George Gemistus and cardinal Bessario, both of them deeply knowing in Grecian literature and philosophy.
But as some account of these last and of their writings has been already given,' I shall quit the Greeks, after I have related a short narrative; a narrative so far curious, as it helps to prove, that even among the present Greeks, in the day of servitude, the remembrance of their ancient glory is not yet totally extinct.
When the late Mr. Anson (lord Anson's brother) was upon his travels in the East, he hired a vessel to visit the isle of Tenedos. His pilot, an old Greek, as they were sailing along, said, with some satisfaction, “ There it was our fleet lay.” Mr. Anson demanded, “What fleet?” “What fleet?” replied the old man, (a little piqued at the question,)“ Why, our Grecian fleet, at the siege of Troy."
But we must now quit the Greeks, and, in consequence of our plan, pass to the Arabians, followers of Mahomet.
Æneas Sylvius, may find the above quota- See Philosoph. Arrangements, p. 319, tions in Mody de Græcis Illustribus, Lond. note. 1751. 8vo.
% This story was told the author by Mr. e Nicetas had before called them, sons of Anson himself. Æneas. See p. 474.
CONCERNING THE SECOND CLASS OF GENIUSES DURING THE MIDDLE
AGE, THE ARABIANS, OR SARACENS—AT FIRST, BARBAROUS-THEIR CHARACTER BEFORE THE TIME OF MAHOMET -THEIR GREATEST CALIPHS WERE FROM AMONG THE ABASSIDA-ALMANZUR ONE OF THE FIRST OF THAT RACE-ALMAMUN OF THE SAME RACE, A GREAT PATRON OF LEARNING AND LEARNED MEN-ARABIANS CULTIVATED LETTERS, AS THEIR EMPIRE GREW SETTLED AND ESTABLISHED TRANSLATED THE BEST GREEK AUTHORS INTO THEIR OWN LANGUAGE -HISTORIANS, ABULPHARAGIUS, ABULFEDA, BOHADIN -EXTRACTS FROM THE LAST CONCERNING SALADIN.
The Arabians began ill. The sentiment of their caliph Omar, when he commanded the Alexandrian library to be burnt, (a fact we have already related,') was natural to any bigot, when in the plenitude of despotism. But they grew more rational, as they grew less bigoted, and by degrees began to think that science was worth cultivating. They may be said, indeed, to have recurred to their ancient character; that character which they did not restupon brutal force alone, but which they boasted to imply three capital things—hospitality, valour, and eloquence.
When success in arms has defeated rivals, and empire becomes not only extended but established, then is it that nations begin to think of letters, and to cultivate philosophy and liberal speculation. This happened to the Athenians, after they had triumphed over the Persians; to the Romans, after they triumphed over Carthage; and to the Arabians, after the caliphate was established at Bagdad.'
And here, perhaps, it may not be improper to observe, that after the four first caliphs, came the race of the Ommiadæ. These, about thirty years after Mahomet, upon the destruction of Ali, usurped the sovereignty, and held it ninety years. They were considered by the Arabic historians as a race of tyrants, and were in number fourteen. Having made themselves, by their oppressions, to be much detested, the last of them, Merwin, was deposed by Al-Suffah, from whom began another race, the
h As many quotations are made in the in his preface the following passage from following chapters from Arabian writers, Saphadius, an Arabic author. Arabes anand more particularly from Abulpharagius, tiquitus non habebant, quo gloriarentur, Abulfeda, and Bohadin, a short account of quam gladio, hospite, et eloquentia. those three authors will be given in the 1 See before, p. 459. notes of this chapter, where their names m See Herbelot's Bibliothèque Orientale, come in course to be mentioned.
under the word Ommiades; also AbulpharaSee before, p. 458.
gius, p. 138, 160; and in particular Abulfeda, k Schultens, in his Monumenta vetustiora p. 138, &c. Arabiæ, (Lugdun. Batavor. 1740,) gives us