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Here is a doctrine absolutely foreign to the gods of Homer, foreign to the gloomy justice of Providence in Hesiod; and yet in Pindar it makes the poet soar above his ordinary course into a higher and purer air : :
• To them the sun, in radiant might,
(Milman's transl.) So too we find him compelled to assert the moral side of the old religion. He must select those instances, exceptional as they are, which show the ruling of Providence over men, which show the punishment of guilt, which show the difficulties and trials of virtue rewarded in the world. It is indeed true that the poet was able to say but little upon morals which was not the tritest commonplace. Divest his maxims of their stilted diction, and you will find the saws of Hesiod, of Theognis, and of Solon, neither deepened nor enlarged. It is all mere children's prattle beside the deep speculations of Æschylus, his younger contemporary. But Pindar and Æschylus may be contrasted as Herodotus and Thucydides, the former perhaps more antique and childlike than his age, the latter so advanced as to outrun even his successors, and stand out a monument of genius apart from or beyond the natural development of things.
Here then I pause, at the threshold of a new epoch, in which our materials are no longer too scanty, but too full, and where our difficulties do not arise from doubtful inferences and uncertain hints, but rather from the great multiplicity and variety of the materials before us.
THE GREEKS OF THE ATTIC AGE.
THE epoch of which we are now to treat is that in which Athens took such a lead as to be presently considered the head of Greece, if not from a military, yet at least from a social and literary point of view. It may indeed be said, that her empire in this latter sense was not accomplished until she had been compelled to abandon her claims to rule Greece by her arms as well as by her arts. For though, during her first and most brilliant career as a conquering state, she had produced literary men who were never equalled, and works of art which were never rivalled, yet it seems to me that her real empire over the manners and minds of the other Greeks dates rather from the days of Plato and Menander than from those of Thucydides and Sophocles. Euripides lived, indeed, in the former epoch, but his works had hardly attained their full popularity. until its very close, and until, after the disastrous close of the Peloponnesian War, culture, rather than her naval and military power, became her pride. I am disposed, therefore, to separate this Attic epoch for my purpose into three subdivisions: the first, extending from the repulse of the Persians to the end of the great civil war and the capture of Athens (in 403 B. C.); the second, from her liberation to the battle of Chæronea (in 338 B. C.); the third, the close of her greatness, comprising the age of the New Comedy, the days of Epicurus and Menander, and extending till the days when Alexandria and Rome supplanted her as the centres of the world's thought. To the first two epochs I shall adhere proximately, claiming however that freedom which is due to a mere social sketch as opposed to strict history. Nor do I think the distinction between the second and third epochs very vital or deeply marked in Greek life.
But to any one intimate with Attic literature, the general contrasts of these epochs will at once be felt, and perhaps more easily felt than demonstrated by special citations. Thus the remains of the first epoch are the tragedies of Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the earlier Comedy down to Aristophanes’ old age, the histories of Herodotus and of Thucydides, and the fragments of the earlier orators (Antiphon and Andocides). If we add the fragments of Greek historians, chiefly preserved in the anecdotes of Athenæus, Plutarch, and other such later compilers, we have before us a considerable body of various literature, marked by several distinct features, and by certain contrasts to succeeding ages. It was an age of great hurry and prodigious development, when event after event so came crowding upon the people,
that they were under the perpetual excitement of some new acquisition or some unexpected danger. A great public enthusiasm laid such hold of every Athenian, that private life was despised, and private comforts set aside, while every man devoted himself with all his might to advance his city, and to sacrifice all to the calls of state service. I need but refer to the remarkable picture attributed to the Corinthians, or to Pericles himself, in Thucydides (i. 70, and ii. 66), and fully borne out by the historical facts of the previous generation.
It is perhaps a mistake to look upon this apparent self-sacrifice as patriotism in our modern sense—as the feeling which prompts noble natures to postpone their private comforts to great public ends. estimate of Greek character hitherto be just, this will seem highly improbable. I am rather disposed to look upon the undeniable public spirit of the Athenians as that of men who, seeing a great future before their country, rise from a paltry ambition after private wealth and comfort to a higher—though still selfish—ambition after public fame, and the glory of leading the course of public affairs. So they became a city full of public men, if I may so say, engrossed with state service, and with politics, men of little leisure, and of small curiosity in speculating upon the reasons of things, in fact no theorists, but stern men of action, full of earnestness in their lives, and allowing themselves little relaxation. I am here speaking of the general tone of Periclean society, for I know well that Pericles himself, and some of his familiar friends, such as