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Plato against him for his depravation of the Athenian character, * appear to have the substance of truth. It was no light matter to pay a petty stipend to a poor man for attendance in the courts; a measure which we think the strongest modern democrats would condemn. But the effect of assembling the inhabitants of an entire province within the walls of a single city, must be obviously so disastrous, that the statesman who could overlook it, would possess little discernment. That dreadful disease should occur, might have been anticipated as certain. The entire change of habits for all the country people; the loss of many articles of habitual diet, and the unwholesome substitutes to which they would resort; the want of houseroom, indeed of all houses soever, while so many thousands lived in booths and temple-porches; or, as the comic poet says,
• Eight years
these things must inevitably have occasioned an awful mortality. But the reality was worse than could have been foreseen. Pestilence proceeding from Egypt, touched on some other places, and alighted at Athens. As a bird of prey that has found the plumpest carcass, there it fixed, and gorged itself with carnage. The demoralizing influences of this scourge were worse than the loss of life it caused. Men felt all bonds to be loosed, which before had restrained them: hope and fear, law, custom, and religion, were all powerless to restrain debauchery and mad revelry: all shame of man and fear of God, says the historian, departed. If such a wound to Athenian morals could have been soon healed, the circumstances of the war continuing forbade it. The people, shut up within the city, had no honest mode of gaining a livelihood. 'They needed to live by plunder of the allies; by fees at the court; by iniquitous judgments, and by taxing the rich. The historian Mitford would ascribe to Pericles all the good, and to the Athenians themselves all that was bad in their character: to reverse the statement would be nearer the truth. It is childish to declaim against the cupidity, frivolity, love of news and of discussion, in a nation so situated : no other result could have been expected. It is on the contrary a high credit to Athens, that though she suffered cruelly from her oligarchal factions, her streets never streamed with civil contest, and the triumphs of her democracy were far milder than in any other city of Greece which had suffered the ordeal of this
• That lie made the Athenians lazy, cowardly, loquacious, and covetous.' - Müller, p. 284.
war; nay, the celebrated word amnesty was invented by her, for her own use, at the final expulsion of the Thirty.
But although her last war of freedom against these tyrants helped to restore her national spirit, it was impossible to replace Athenian habits, morals and feelings, as they had been before. Athens had learnt to love the claptrap of rhetoric, to delight in sophistical disputes or in the counter pleadings of advocates. The mysterious halo that once encircled the city of Pallas, was no longer powerful on the imagination: belief in the national religion had vanished from cultivated minds; mere moral strains could have little interest for those who now demanded proof and logical analysis. The few minds which solitude and a higher education might have set apart from the mass, were probably too often disaffected with the state, like Plato and Xenophon, and wholly void of enthusiastic feeling for anything which of old kindled Athenian hearts. On the whole, it is not wonderful that neither Attica, nor all Ionia, nor the Æolic provinces can after this era boast of a bard : and as for true Dorians, they were always deficient in literary genius.
It is clearly made out that Greece attained very nearly the summit of her intellect, without any material effect produced by prose literature. Assuredly the ample intercourse of mind with mind in public business and general society, was highly efficient in making up for the want of reading; but compared with the moderns, their knowledge was of necessity very superficial, and their vivacious intellects could easily be led astray. For our present task we propose to consider, as well as we can find out, what was the nature and amount * of the ethical nutriment afforded to a contemporary and fellow-citizen of Thucydides. In this inquiry we have no small materials laid before us,elaborately dissected, and expounded con amore,-in the excellent work of Professor Müller. His zealous devotion to the Greek literature and his intimate familiarity with all the fragmentary portions and notices of lost writers, are very apparent. Everything which a writer can do, he has done, for making an English reader take interest in details about Greek metre, music and actors; and if much of this sort is still tiresome, it must be imputed to the subject. Like most of his countrymen, he appears to consider the imaginative works of the Greeks as in themselves valuable; nor does he make their moral bearing quite so prominent as we could wish. We allow that intellectual development is a good in itself, since every part of human nature was intended by its Author to be perfected; but as the
* We take no notice of Heroclotus, because it is hard to say little of such a writer.
glory of Christianity is in the subordination of all besides to that which is moral, so we can neither help, nor desire to help, valuing the productions of the Greek chiefly as they indicate an approach towards Christian truth. We are the more disposed on this occasion to take a view principally ethical of the earlier Greek literature, because it is not long since we dwelt somewhat largely on Athenian Tragedy in other relations.
The first and most celebrated of Greek poets (following, it is to be supposed, the feeling of his contemporaries), placed religion within the sphere of mere imagination. A few, very few, moral notions mingle with it; but it has been often observed that the Homeric gods are more wicked than men. To study the progress of the Greeks in throwing off these scandalous conceptions, to trace the expansion of moral feeling, and the direction of it into the channel of religion; this is to us the highest contemplation of which the subject admits, and one to which mere questions of taste are infinitely subordinate. We do not mean to find fault with our professor for writing on literature and not on theology: nay, we gladly accept his many notices of the very kind which we desire. A classical student will also be thankful to find numerous technical details here expounded, which could else only be gleaned at the expense of much labor.
The professor's rapid sketch of the relation of the Greek language to other known tongues, and his racy notices of the earliest Greek religion and poetry will be read with much interest. Their earliest mythology was more oriental than the later, having very much in common with Asia Minor and Syria; yet the Grecians (observes he) ever held the just conception of one supreme deity, the god of the heavens, called Zeus; a word which beyond a doubt contains the two ideas of heaven and day. The queen of heaven, whom we name Juno* from the Latins, was originally a personification of the earth, as several of her names (Hera, Demeter) show. Various physiological speculations were at the bottom of the primitive mythology, which was to receive a singular distortion from the poetical genius of Homer, or from the fancy of the Achaian tribes to whom his verses were sung.
It is with his works that we suddenly enter the full stream of Grecian literature, and are carried into an ocean of discussion. In Germany the topics of controversy have been so perseveringly sifted, that our professor evidently thinks it needless to go into their details himself
. He gives, however, a summary of the reasons for believing that the epic poems were perpetuated by
Junoni for Διώνη or Ζηνώνη- the feminine of Δις Or Ζεύς.
memory alone, and by oral tradition ; a fact of which (he declares), after the researches of various scholars, especially of
Wood and Wolf, no one can doubt. He argues that the power of remembering poems so lengthy, would not be counted a marvel, had not the faculty of memory in modern civilized nations been so much weakened by the use of writing. The great superiority of Homer to all his predecessors, caused the gradual loss of their compositions; and this attests the vast influence which he exerted on the national intellect.
It surprises us that the learned author has assigned reasons so slight for a judgment, in which he reverts to antiquated views; viz., his belief that the Odyssey and Iliad are the work of the same poet. He allows that the Odyssey has a 'more complicated plan, and bears marks of a more artificial and developed state of the epos :' that it was written after the “Iliad ;' that many differences are apparent in the character
and manners of both men and gods, as well as in the manage'ment of the language.' We would venture to go further. The genius displayed is quite different. Very inferior in vigorous portraiture and harmonious versification, the Odyssey displays a love of the fabulous quite peculiar; while the diversity of its diction is certainly considerable. Professor Müller disposes of the whole question as follows: Granting that a different taste ' and feeling is shown in the choice of the subject and in the whole arrangement of the poem, yet there is not a greater difference than is often found in the inclinations of the same 'man in the prime of life and in old age. Such a ground of decision might be proper enough, if we had any trustworthy testimony that they both came from one man. But we have no such testimony; and the traditional report is treated as worthless by Müller himself, when he rejects as non-Homeric even the hymn to the Delian Apollo, against the authority of Thucydides. Nay, he does not think it worth while to assign a single reason for neglecting such authority. Now we contend, that all the internal evidence is against the supposition that the Odyssey was composed by the author of the Iliad. This evidence may be thought weak or strong, but it is all in that direction, It is impossible to prove in any case diversity of authorship, if it is allowable to introduce hypothetical reasons for a change in the poet's genius, powers, musical ear, dialect, and so on. Strange to add, our author, as if feeling after all some misgiving, concludes by hazarding the suggestion, that Homer, after having sung the Iliad in the vigor of his youthful years, in his old age communicated to some devoted disciple the
PLAN of the Odyssey, and left it to him for completion. Deus ex machinâ, in truth.
The religious scheme of the Odyssey presupposes that of the
Iliad; as does the whole texture of the poem: but there is a decided improvement in the inhabitants of Olympus, proportioned to the increase of comfort and luxury ascribed to the human race. Another step onwards is taken when we come to the poetry which passes under the name of Hesiod. The two principal compositions are, the Works and Days, and the Theogony: each shows a growth in thoughtfulness and wisdom. To poetry, in the high sense of the term, a great part of them lays no claim; but that is no injury to a work, when prose writing is as yet unknown. The composer does not aim at being poetical, but rises and falls with his subject; and this constitutes the difference of Hesiod or Theocritus from Virgil and Pope. The more recent poets studiously elevate by art and diction that which has no natural elevation: Hesiod, like Crabbe, is homely on a homely topic. Literature in which this spirit prevails is generally more healthy, thriving and productive in sound fruit; while the opposite order of things may, give one or two polished and exquisite compositions, but a rapid decay of taste and vigor follows. In the Works and Days, Hesiod undertakes to teach his brother Perses the honest ways of gaining a livelihood, and dissuades him from bribing the kings to give false judgment in his favor. It is striking to observe how large a part of his wisdom is enounced in short maxims, with the air of proverbs : and we know by the works of the later Greeks, that these were actually committed to memory in childhood, and became an efficient instrument of moral instruction. In this work, among numerous other shrewd sayings, are the following:
for her egg.')
'1. Foolish kings, who take bribes, know not that half is worth
more than the whole. [i. e., they kill the goose 2. He who plots evil for another, plots it for himself ;
Bad counsel is worst to the counseller of it. 3. The eye of Jupiter, seeing all things and understanding all,
Inspects this matter too, if he please.
Most of all invite thy nearest neighbor;
Nor anything more soul-consuming than a bad one. 6. No treasure so good as a tongue sparing of words
If thou speak evil, haply worse will be spoken of thee. 7. Vice may easily be caught in shoals ;