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the center of the vale flowed the Euro'tas, whose sources were in the steep recesses of Mount Tay'getus. Sparta, the capital, was the only important town. It lay on the Eurotas about twenty miles from the sea, inclosed by an amphitheater of mountains which shut out cooling winds and concen trated the sun's rays, so as to produce intense heat in summer.
6. Although the name of Greece is now strictly limited to the peninsula which we have described, it was often more generally applied by the ancients to all the homes and colonies of the Hellenic race. The south of Italy was long known as Mag'na Gracia; the eastern shores of the Ægean constituted Asiatic Greece, and the cities of Cyrene in Africa, Syracuse in Sicily, and Massilia in southern France, were all, to the Greeks, equally essential parts of Hellas. The description of the numerous and important colonies belongs to a later period. A few of the islands more immediately belonging to Greece will alone be mentioned here.
7. Chief of these was Euboea, the great breakwater of the eastern coast, which extended a distance of 100 miles in length and 15 in width. Nearly as important, though smaller, was Corcy'ra, on the western coast; and south of it lay Paxos, Leuca'dia, Ith'aca, Cephalle'nia, and Zacyn'thus. On the south were the Enus'sæ and the important island of Cythe'ra. On the east, among others were Hy'drea, Ægina, and Salamis. Besides these littoral, or coast, islands there were, in the northern Ægean, Lemnos, Imbros, Thasos, and Samothra'ce; in the central, the Cyclades; and, in the southern, the large island of Crete.
HISTORY OF GREECE.
I. Traditional and Fabulous History, from the earliest times to the Dorian Migrations, about B. C. 1100.
II. Authentic History, from the Dorian Migrations to the beginning of the Persian wars, B. C. 1100-500.
III. From the beginning of the Persian wars to the victory of Philip of Macedon at Charonea, B. C. 500–336.
8. FIRST PERIOD. The name of Greece was unknown to the Greeks, who called their country Hellas and themselves Hellenes. But the Romans, having probably made their first acquaintance with the people of that peninsula through the Grai'koi, a tribe who inhabited the coast nearest Italy, applied their name to the whole Hellenic race. A more ancient name, Pelasgia, was derived from the earliest known inhabitants of the country—a widely extended people, who may be traced by the remains of their massive architecture in various parts of Italy as well as Greece. The Pelasgi were among the first of the Indo-Germanic family to migrate from Asia to Europe.
9. By conquest or influence, the Hellenes very early acquired the control of their neighbors, and spread their name, language, and customs over the whole peninsula. They were then regarded as consisting of four tribes, the Dorians, Achæ ́ans, Æoʻlians, and Ionians; but the last two, if not all four, were probably members of the earlier race.
10. Though of the same family with the Medes, Persians, Bactrians, and the Brahmins of India, the Greeks had no tradition of a migration from Asia, but believed that their ancestors had sprung from the ground. They, however, acknowledged themselves indebted, for some important elements of their civilization, to immigrants from foreign lands. Ce crops, a native of Sais in Egypt, was said to have founded Athens, and to have established its religious rites. The citadel bore, from him, the name Cecro ́pia in later times. Better authorities make Cecrops a Pelasgian hero. Da'naus, another reputed Egyptian, was believed to have founded Argos, having fled to Greece with his fifty daughters. To him the tribe of the Da'nai traced their name, which Homer sometimes applied to all the Greeks; but the story is evidently a fable.
Pelops was said to have come from Phrygia, and by means of his great wealth to have gained the kingdom of Mycena. The whole peninsula south of the Corinthian Gulf bore his name, being called Peloponnesus. A fourth tradition which describes the settlement of the Phoenician Caďmus at Thebes, in Boeotia, rests upon better evidence. He is said to have introduced the use of letters, the art of mining, and the culture of the vine. It is certain that the Greek alphabet was derived from the Phoenician; and Cadmus may be regarded, in this elementary sense, as the founder of European literature. The fortress of Thebes was called, from him, Cadme ́a.
11. The earliest period of Grecian history is called the Heroic Age. In later times, poets and sculptors loved to celebrate its leaders as a nobler race than themselves, ranking between gods and men; differing from the former by being subject to death, but surpassing the latter both in strength of body and greatness of mind. The innumerable exploits of the Heroes must be read rather in Mythology than History. The three who had the strongest hold in the belief, and influence upon the character of the people, were Hercules, the great national hero; The ́seus, the hero of Attica; and Minos, king of Crete.
The “Twelve Labors of Hercules" represent the struggle of Man with Nature, both in the destruction of physical evil and the acquisition of wealth and power. To understand his reputed history, we must bear in mind that, in that early age, lions as well as other savage beasts were still numerous in southern Europe; that large tracts were covered by undrained marshes and impenetrable forests; and that a wild, aboriginal race of men, more dangerous than the beasts, haunted land and sea as robbers and pirates.
12. Theseus was the civilizer of Attica. He established a constitutional government, and instituted the two great festivals, the Panathenæa * and Synoikia, in honor of the patron goddess of Athens. The Isthmian Games, in honor of Neptune, were also traced to him.
13. Minos, king of Crete, was regarded by the Greeks as the first great law-giver, and thus a principal founder of civilization and social order. After his death he was believed to be one of the judges of souls in Hades. It is worth noticing that the traditional law-givers of many nations have borne similar names; and Menu in India, Menes in Egypt, Manis in Lydia, Minos in Crete, and Mannus in Germany may all be mythical names for Man the Thinker, as distinguished from the savage.
14. Of the many remarkable enterprises of the Grecian heroes, the last and greatest was the Siege of Troy. Zeus, † pitying the earth- -so says the fable for the swarming multitudes she was compelled to sustain, resolved to send discord among men that they might destroy each other. The occasion of war was found in the wrong inflicted upon Menelaus, king of Sparta, by Paris, son of Priam, king of Troy. All the Greek princes, resenting the injury, assembled their forces from the extremities of Hellas — from Mount Olympus to the islands of Ithaca, Crete, and Rhodes and crossing the Ægean under the command of Agamem ́non,
B. C. 1184.
spent ten years in the siege of Troy. The story of the tenth year must be read in the Iliad of Homer. ‡ It is impossible to separate the historical from the poetical part in his spirited narration. Some historians have assigned a definite period to the siege, while others have doubted whether Troy, as described by Homer, ever existed.
15. Though much doubt may be felt as to the character of their heroes and events, the poems of Homer give us a true picture of the government and manners of the Greeks at this early age. From them we learn that each of the petty states had its own king, who was the father, the judge, the general, and the priest of his people. He was supposed to be of divine descent and appointment. But unlike the blind believers in “divine right” in modern times, the Greeks demanded that their kings should prove themselves superior to common men in valor, wisdom, and greatness of soul. If thus shown to be sons of the gods, they received unquestioning obedi
*See note, p. 128. † See 23 23, 25. See note, p. 110.
B. C. 1194.
16. A council of nobles surrounded the king and aided him by their advice. The people were often assembled to witness the discussions in the council and the administration of justice, as well as to hear the intentions of the king; but in this early age they had no voice in the proceedings. The nobles, like the king, were descended from the gods, and were distinguished by their great estates, vast wealth, and numerous slaves.
17. The Greeks of the Heroic Age were distinguished by strong domestic attachments, generous hospitality, and a high sense of moral obligation. Every stranger was welcomed and supplied with the best cheer before he was asked his name or errand. If he came to seek protection, the family were under a still stronger obligation to receive him, even if he were an enemy; for Zeus had no mercy on him who turned away from the prayer of a suppliant.
18. The manners of the age were simple and homely. The sons of the gods cooked their own dinners, and were proud of their skill in so doing. Ulysses built his bed-chamber and constructed his raft, beside being an excellent plowman and reaper. The high-born ladies, in like manner, carded and spun the wool of their husbands' sheep, and wove it into clothing for themselves and their families; while their daughters brought water from the wells, or assisted the slaves to wash garments in the river.
19. Though simple, these people were not uncivilized. They lived in fortified towns, adorned by palaces and temples. The palaces of the nobles were ornamented with vases of gold, silver, and bronze, and hung with rich Tyrian draperies. The warriors were protected by highly wrought and richly embellished armor. Agriculture was highly honored. Wheat, flax, wine, and oil were the chief productions.
20. The arts of sculpture and design had already made some progress. Poetry was cultivated by minstrels, who wandered from place to place singing songs of their own composition, and were sure of an honorable welcome in every palace. In this way, doubtless, the blind Homer* related the brave deeds done before the walls of Troy, and praised the heroes of that epoch in the houses of their descendants.
21. The religion of the Greeks had some of its first elements in common with that of the Hindus. Zeus, the king of gods and men, who reigned upon the snowy summit of Olympus, was doubtless the same conception with Dyaus', the Bright Ether or Serene Heaven of the Brahmin worship. But as the forces of Nature were the objects of adoration, each system borrowed its distinctive features from those of the country in which it was developed, and that of the Greeks became incomparably the more delicate and refined. The Asiatic origin of their faith was recognized by the Greeks themselves, in the fable that Zeus had brought Europa, daughter of Age'nor (the same with Canaan), in her early youth, across the Hellespont and
* Homer was an Asiatic Greek who lived probably about B. C. 850. Seven cities claimed the honor of his birth, which ancient critics commonly accorded to Chios, and modern, to Smyrna. Many legends describe his sorrowful and changeful life, shadowed by poverty and blindness; but we can be sure of little except that he was the author of some of the earliest and yet greatest poems in the world's literature.
through Thrace. An old tradition said that the people of the ante-Hellenic age worshiped all the gods, but gave names to none; a mystical expression of the truth that the Greeks, like most other ancient people, had descended from the worship of One God to the belief in many.
Watching with keen eyes the various and apparently conflicting operations of Nature, the Greeks, unaided by revelation, were led to believe in many distinct and sometimes hostile gods; for their science, as imperfect as their religion, had not yet arrived at a perception of unity beneath the apparent variety, nor taught them that all forces may be resolved into one. Hence we read of conflicts and jealousies among the divine inhabitants of Olympus, of which the most ignorant child should be ashamed. In more enlightened ages, philosophers severely censured this ascription of unworthy passions to the gods, and taught that they should only be conceived as serene, beneficent, and superior to human excitements.
22. Much of the mythology of the Greeks belonged merely to poetry, and had no religious character whatever. Many stories of the gods may be explained by the familiar appearances of nature. E'os, the dawn, was the sister of Helios, the sun, and Sele'ne, the moon. She dwelt upon the banks of Ocean, in a golden-gated palace, whence she issued each morning to announce to gods and men the approach of her greater brother. She was the mother of the Winds and of the Morning Star. I'ris was the messenger of the gods. The many-colored rainbow was the road over which she traveled, and which vanished, when she no longer needed it, as suddenly as it had appeared.
23. The twelve who constituted the Olympian Council were Zeus, the supreme; Posi'don, the god of the sea; Apollo, the sun-god, and patron of music, poetry, and eloquence; A'res, the god of war; Hephas'tus, of fire and the useful arts; Her'mes, the herald of the gods, and promoter of commerce and wealth; Hera, the great goddess of Nature; Athe'na, the favorite daughter of Zeus, and patroness of all wisdom, civilization, and art; Ar′temis, the goddess of the moon or of hunting; Aphrodi'te, of beauty and love; Hestia, of domestic life; and Deme'ter, the bountiful mother of harvests, six gods and six goddesses.
24. Beside these, and in some cases equal in rank, were Hades, the god of the under-world; Helios and Hec ́ate; Diony'sus, the patron of the vine, whose rites bore some resemblance to the drunken So'ma worship of the Hindus; the nine Muses, daughters of Zeus and Memory, who presided over music, literature, and all the arts; the Oceanids and the Nereids, daughters of Posidon; and multitudes more, whom to enumerate would require a volume, instead of a few pages.
25. The religion of the Greeks, properly so called, consisted in reverence toward a moral Ruler of the world, ever present and actively concerned in human affairs; and in obedience to him by truthfulness in thought, word,