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indulges in language to his daughter as jocose as, and even a little coarser than, the humour of Squire Western to his daughter Sophia in Fielding's Tom Fones. But the resemblance is striking enough, especially when we remember that in the Plutus (971, sqq.) there is a young gentleman who makes his livelihood by the very same infamy which Fielding attributes to his hero, apparently without censure. This coarseness is testified by the very comedy itself, religious though it may have been in origin, by the Phallic processions, such as that just alluded to in the Acharnians, and by the Hermæ that stood in every
We can find many other points, where the Athenians showed a rudeness very striking in the midst of so great artistic and literary refinement. Thus for example, though they had attained to a notion of an absolute umpire (τάτηs) in the palæstra, as we can see from Antiphon, they had not in their public assemblies arrived at that remarkable invention in our public life, the fictitious omnipotence of the speaker or chairman, who by his ruling commands more absolutely than a judge in a court of law. At Athens, if any speaker was troublesome, the puráveis or presidents ordered the police to drag him off the bema. We hear too of impertinence on the part of Cleon to the assembly, which could hardly be received with laughter among us, as it was by the Athenians (Plut. Nic. c. 11). It was a very different thing when the handsome and fascinating Alcibiades was passing by, and heard the clamour of the assembly, and on enquiry was told
that voluntary contributions were being asked for the state. He forthwith,' says Plutarch (Alcib. c. 10), 'came forward and contributed, but when the people loudly applauded, he was so pleased that he forgot a (fighting) quail, which he was carrying under his cloak.' When it fluttered out and escaped from him, the Athenians applauded still louder, and a general chase ensued (πολλοὺς δὲ συνθηρᾶν ἀναστάντας), the man who caught it for him earning his lasting friendship.
Here we have a genuine spirit of fun. But as to rudeness of manners, what shall we say of a man of position strewing before his door the feathers of expensive birds used at his feast in order to display his wealth 1? They had another habit, now found in lanes and alleys of towns, among the lower classes, of throwing out their dirty water into the street, but crying ¿¿íσr (out of the way!) to warn passengers of their danger. I fear even their town life may have been, as Aristophanes says of their country life, ερωτιῶν ἀκόρητος εἰκῆ κείμενος. The whole opening of Aristophanes' Clouds shows how strongly this contrast of town and country was
Aristoph. Ach. 989, τοῦ βίου δ ̓ ἐξέβαλλε δεῖγμα τάδε τὰ πρὸ τῶν θυρῶν. 2 Aristoph. Ach. 616 and Schol. According to Plutarch's anecdotes, even noble boys played in the streets. Thus Alcibiades was once playing at dice (I suppose our pitch and toss) in a lane, with some other boys, and his turn was just come, when a man came up with a cart. Alcibiades called to him to stop till he had done throwing; but the fellow was rude enough not to mind him' (a curious view of things). Thereupon the other boys gave way, but Alcibiades threw himself on his face before the cart, and dared the man to pass; so that he backed his cart in fear; and the bystanders were terrified, and rushed up screaming to save him.
felt, and the contempt of Socrates for the old country gentleman was no doubt the expression of a general feeling'. But nevertheless, in their daily life, and in some of the arrangements which we consider most essential to decency and comfort, the Greeks were, like many otherwise cultivated European nations, very much behind their own level. I say this, despite of the many evidences of refined tact and politeness which they show in other respects. Take, for example, the ordinary forms of courteous refusal which they used. I praise your remark,' (but don't agree with it). "Tis well' (but I do not need it), and 'what a busybody I am'! (I beg your pardon)—these are the forms used by Aristophanes and the tragedians. Probably the Spartans, whom Herodotus takes care to paint as very rude and coarse in everyday intercourse, would despise these amenities, but at Athens, notwithstanding the hurry and hardness of the times, the features already exist which make the society of Plato and the new comedy so charming. How much conversation was already prized appears both from Herodotus' account of the marriage of Agariste, and from the remark of Plutarch about Phæax, a leading rival of Alcibiades. He says (Alcib. c. 13) that he was persuasive and powerful in private, but unsuited to public haranguing, and he quotes a
1 So Euripides says of Hippomedon (Supp. 882, sqq.)
Μουσῶν τραπέσθαι, καὶ τὸ μαλθακὸν βίου,
2 ἐπηνέσα, καλῶς, and τῆς πολυπραγμοσύνης.
remarkable line of Eupolis about him1. He was, I conceive, the exact opposite of Demosthenes in talent.
On the whole, an accurate and calm review of the old comic fragments, and of Aristophanes, of the orators Antiphon and Andocides, of the striking sketches left us by Plutarch of the six prominent Athenians of this epoch-these varied documents, socially considered, may bring us somewhat to lower the estimate usually formed of Periclean Athens, and to consider that both the incomparable literature and the incomparable art then produced were to some extent the work of a select few, who stood apart from the crowd, as they have done in other golden periods, and who in many respects owed their success to the patronage, first of the tyrants, and then of the tyrants' successor, Pericles.
I have spoken before, in connection with Thucydides, of the cruelty prevalent through Greece during the Peloponnesian war. It was not merely among Corcyræans, or among Thracian mercenaries, but among the leaders of Greece that we find this disgusting feature. The Spartans put to death in cold blood two hundred and twenty-five prisoners (Thuc. iii. 68), whom they took in Platea after a long and heroic defence—in this very different from the so-called barbarian Persians, who years before had done all they could to save alive a brave man, Pytheas, (Herod. vii. 181), who fought against them. But this is a mere trifle, when we hear from Plutarch that Lysander, after the battle of Egospotami put to death 3000
1 λαλεῖν ἄριστος, ἀδυνατώτατος λέγειν.
prisoners! Greek historians are too much in the habit of passing carelessly over such scenes as this. The appearance of Coomassie struck with horror all our troops who entered it, and afforded to the papers a subject, which even the Daily Telegraph failed to exaggerate. What can Coomassie have been compared to Ægospotami, where 3000 men, not savages, not negroes, but Athenians, men of education and of culture, were butchered with swords and spears?? What are we to think of the men who ordered this massacre, of those who executed it, of those who looked on? I do not believe that there is now a sovereign in the world, even the King of Dahomey or King Koffee, who would execute such a horrible and bloodthirsty deed. If our soldiers found the smell of blood and of decay horrible among the Ashantees, what would they have found it on the shore of Thrace, where Lysander celebrated his victory in rivers of human blood? And yet I believe this atrocity, seldom paralleled in human history, called forth no cry of horror in Greece. The unfortunate Athenian general,
1 τῶν δ ̓ ἀνθρώπων τρισχιλίους ἑλὼν ζῶντας ἀπέσφαξεν ὁ Λύσανδρος, Alcib. c. 37, cp. the details in his Lysander c. 13.
2 We are told, and this was a point which did strike the Greeks with horror, that on this occasion the bodies were even left unburied, so that the resemblance to Coomassie is quite complete. When the habits of the Ashantee people became known, we were all filled with horror, and there were loud appeals made by the public to put down such depraved and abominable barbarism. Good people in Europe seem to think that a nation which is cruel and executes large numbers of people must be savage and degraded. Let me point out the striking example of Greece in its palmiest days in disproof of such hasty generalisations.