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you go out into society in the evening among strangers (παρ' ἀνδράσι ξένοις πίνων), what manly act of your youth can you relate?' 'Oh! that was the bravest of my acts when I stole Ergasion's vine-stakes.' 'Will you kill me with your vine-stakes? I want you to tell how you chased a boar or a hare, or won a torch race by some bold device.' 'I know, then, my greatest act of youthful boldness, when I won a suit for abusive language from the runner Phayllus.' Stop, but come
and lie down here and let me teach you to be convivial and pleasant over your cups.' "Show me how to lie down, will this do?' Not at all. Straighten your knees, and throw yourself in a graceful and easy way on the couch. Then make some observations on the beauty of the appointments, look up at the ceiling, praise the tapestry of the room.' He then proceeds to instruct the old gentleman how to take his part in the scolia, or catches, in which one guest started a line, and challenged some other to go on in the same metre and construction, giving, of course, the most amusing turn he could to the sense. The old man makes such good political cuts in this game that the son is satisfied, and proposes to bring him out to dinner, where they can have a good carouse. 'Oh, no,' says the old man, 'for from wine drinking come assault and battery, and then having to pay money next day after your drinking bout.' 'No,' says the son, 'at least not if you mix in good society (ἣν ξυνῇς γ ̓ ἀνδράσι καλοῖς τε κἀγαθοῖς), for either they pacify the offended man, or you say something clever to him yourself, some good thing of Æsop's, or from Sybaris, which you have learned at
the feast, and then you turn the affair into a joke, so that he lets you off and goes his way.'
This passage, agreeing so well with the anecdote about Cimon, is full of interest. It shows the highclass Athenian not ashamed of showing off consciously before strangers, and how highly cleverness in conversation was prized. The allusion to the disorderly conduct of the guests in the later part of evening reminds us of the appearance of Alcibiades in Plato's Symposium, which is quite a scene of the same kind, except that Plato makes Socrates so influence the conversation as to give it a deep and solid value. But there can be no doubt that such men as Alcibiades and Callias were often guilty of gross violence in their drinking bouts, and that they escaped punishment partly by the means above suggested, partly also by intimidation. The portrait we have of Alcibiades in Plutarch and elsewhere is hardly of any use as a specimen of manners, for we are told that he was in every way exceptional, though in immorality and in home scandal Callias was perhaps his solitary equal.
But in one respect I do think the excesses of Alcibiades instructive, in showing how far the most aristocratic, handsome, fascinating man at Athens, the idol of the mob, the autocrat of society-how far this man was removed from the modern English gentleman. He is accused of having brought women of the lowest character so constantly into his house that his wife, an excellent young lady of high family, was obliged to fly from home and take refuge with the Archon, who was by law the protector of married women. But
when she was obliged to come forward in person to prove her case for a divorce, Alcibiades appeared with a band of friends and carried her off (we are told) by force, nor did the unhappy woman ever again appear against him. This violence is characterised with the strongest epithets by the orator who has left us the speech against Alcibiades among the remains of Andocides. Again, he seized a painter, who refused to decorate his house owing to previous engagements, and kept him a prisoner till he had no longer need of him. Worse than all, after having supported in the assembly the ruthless massacre of the men of Melos, he bought one of the captive women and had a child by her, thus imitating one of the worst and lowest features to be found in the Homeric age1.
The case of Callias, told by Andocides (Tepì MUσт. p. 46), is, if possible, worse. Having married a respectable and blameless girl, he within a year took her mother into his house as a second wife. The poor daughter attempted suicide, but was prevented, and fled from the house, being turned out by her mother. Of course
1 ÈK TAÚTηS Yàp (says the orator, Andocides p. 88. ed. Blass) #aidooiείται τῆς γυναικός, ἣν ἀντ ̓ ἐλευθέρας δούλην κατέστησε, καὶ ἧς τὸν πατέρα καὶ τοὺς προσήκοντας ἀπέκτεινε, καὶ ἧς τὴν πόλιν ἀνάστατον πεποίηκεν. Ι fear such acts were not, as the orator implies, extraordinary. The affecting story about Pausanias' murder of a girl at Byzantium implies in the Spartan an equal recklessness and villainy. When there, as generalissimo of the Greek forces, after the retreat of Xerxes, he demanded from her parents that this young girl should visit him by night; they were afraid to refuse, and sent her in the dead of the night. When she came in, Pausanias, who was asleep, started up, and thinking some assassin was upon him, struck her with his dagger, and killed her. Her ghost was said to have haunted him ever after. Cp. Plutarch, Cimon, cap. vi.
Callias soon got tired of her too, but took her back after she had borne him a son, 'being again in love with this most daring old woman” (ὑστέρῳ πάλιν χρόνῳ τῆς γραὸς τολμηροτάτης γυναικὸς ἀνηράσθη). This deed too is spoken of as extraordinary; but is it not an index of the manners of Athenian aristocrats?
The anecdote about Alcibiades' dog points in the same direction, and proves the man, to my mind, to have been a thorough snob. The Periclean Greeks, with all their faults, were very fond of dogs. The dog of Eupolis is said to have died of grief on its master's tomb1. In Plutarch's Themistocles there is a remarkable passage, in which he describes the tame animals, of course chiefly dogs, crowding to the shore and howling when their masters were leaving for Salamis on the approach of the Persians. The dog of Xanthippus, Pericles' father, not able to endure the separation (οὐκ ἀνασχόμενος τὴν ἀπ' αὐτοῦ μόνωσιν), leaped into the water, and swam alongside the ship to Salamis, where it is said to have died of exhaustion. These legends show the deep sympathy of the Athenians for dogs2. It was an old custom, says an Attic antiquarian, that no dog should go up into the Acropolis, a prohibition which shows how constantly they accompanied their masters. So, then, this dog of Alcibiades, for which
1 λύπῃ καὶ λιμῷ ἑαυτὸν ἐκτήξας ἀπέθανεν ἐπὶ τῷ τροφεῖ καὶ δεσπότῃ λοιπὸν μισήσας τὸν βίον ὁ κύων. Aelian x. 41.
2 In the picturesque account of Aratus' attack on Sicyon, dogs play a great part. The chief difficulty in surprising the city are the dogs of a market gardener, which were small, but very pugnacious and uncompromising” (μικρῶν μὲν, ἐκτόπως δὲ μαχίμων καὶ ἀπαρηγορήτων). They accordingly give tongue, and challenge a great sporting dog, kept in the
he is said to have paid the incredible sum of 70 minæ (about £284), was remarkable for size and beauty, and generally admired for its tail. Alcibiades cut the tail off, and when his friends scolded him, and said that everybody was vexed about the dog and was abusing him, he answered with a laugh: 'That is what I want; I wish them to talk about this, that they may say nothing worse of me.'
I fear this set of men, despite of the graceful conversation attributed to them by Plato, were reckless and unfeeling to all around them, nor do I see that it made much difference to Alcibiades or Callias who or what was ill-treated-dog, wife, or neighbour. But as to the wife, he belonged to that set against whom I believe Euripides to have written, that society of men who upheld with Thucydides the complete seclusion and insignificance of women, and that she was best who was least spoken of among men, whether for good or for evil. Yet, when these very men got into trouble, the despised women were their comforters. 'When,' says the aristocrat Andocides (TEpì Muσr. p. 20), we had all been bound in the same chamber (on the capital charge of impiety), and it was night, and the prison had been closed (apparently to visitors or legal advisers), tower on the wall, which had not perceived the noise, 'whether from natural sluggishness, or from being fatigued during the day.' It answers with a vague and uncertain sound (ὑπεφθέγγετο τυφλὸν καὶ ἄσημον τὸ Прштоν). Ср. Plut. Aratus, capp. v., viii.
1 It is probably for this reason that Thucydides is silent on the outrage committed by Paches at Mitylene, on his accusation by the women, and his death in court. He probably thought it a scandalous ill-treatment of a general, for the sake of such a trifle.