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according to Theophrastus (Plut. Lys. 13) submits with dignified resignation to a fate which he confesses would have attended the Lacedæmonians had they been vanquished.
For the Athenians with their boasted clemency and culture, were very nearly as cruel as their enemies. In the celebrated affair of the Mitylenæans, which Thucydides tells at length in his third book, the first decree of the Athenians was to massacre the whole male population of the captured city. They repented of this decree, because Diodotus proved to them, not that it was inhuman, but that it was inexpedient1. The historians, especially Mr. Grote, contrast the conduct of the Athenians with its bloody impulses but quick repentance, with the colder and more heartless cruelty of the Spartans at Platæa, and even speak of the feeling of pain which was felt when they came to reflect on the details of such a scene as the massacre of 6000 unarmed men. I believe this account of the Athenian feelings to be false. They pardoned the population of Mitylene, from no feelings of humanity, but from feelings of expediency, which Diodotus explains, and from feelings of justice. For these people, as soon as they had obtained arms, rose against the revolting aristocracy, and gave themselves and their city up to the Athenians. But I argue, in opposition to Mr. Grote, how could the imagined details of the massacre of 6000 men in Lesbos have been a motive, when the Athenians did at the same time
Cp. Mr. Grote's excellent discussion in his History, vi. 343 &c.
have the ringleaders executed at Athens, and they were more than one thousand men1! Such is Thucydides' cold remark (iii. 50), which the historians pass by without comment, but which again reminds us of Coomassie: we have here, not on the coast of Thrace, not in distant islands, but in Athens, the centre of refinement and of humanity, more than one thousand men executed together by the hands of Athenians, not with fire-arms, but with swords and knives. A few years after, the inhabitants of Melos, many hundreds in number, were put to the sword, when conquered after a brave resistance (Thuc. v. 116), and here I fear merely for the purpose of making way for a colony of Athenian citizens, who went out to occupy the houses and lands of their victims!
Such are the facts, admitted by all, and so far as I know, never protested against save in a single passage of Euripides2. I know that in the Middle Ages refined and cultivated men sanctioned great atrocities, and even witnessed voluntarily hideous tortures as well as executions. I know that Roman Popes ordered wholesale massacres. But they did it not through defect in the love of men, but through excess in the love of God, and perhaps of human souls. Theology had expelled ordinary humanity from their hearts, in order to install in its place theological
1 τοὺς δ ̓ ἄλλους ἄνδρας οὓς ὁ Πάχης ἀπέπεμψεν κ.τ.λ. διέφθειραν οἱ ̓Αθηναῖοι. ἦσαν δὲ ὀλίγῳ πλείους χιλίων.
2 Electra, 961, sqq. The poet speaks as if it were against the habit of the Greeks to slay a captive taken alive in battle, and Alcmene, who persists in doing it, is threatened with the vengeance of the Gods.
humanity—a love of men's souls at the expense of their bodies and their feelings. These cases are therefore not parallel to the inhumanity of the Greeks. There is no excuse for their barbarity. It is but one evidence out of a thousand that, hitherto in the world's history, no culture, no education, no political training has been able to rival the mature and ultimate effects of Christianity in humanising society.
There appears however to have been one limit to these horrors. Women and children were never massacred, nor even I think treated with outrage or insult beyond that of being sold into slavery. On the very occasion of which I have just now spoken, the same Athenians who voted the actual massacre of 1,000 prisoners at Athens received the complaint of two respectable married women against the Athenian General Paches with such an outburst of indignation, that he committed suicide in open court to avoid their sentence. We have here a strange inconsistency. The honour of two women, who were condemned to be sold as slaves, and who were in any case prisoners of war, stands at Athens on the modern. basis, and is even treated there with far more severity than it would be now-a-days, while a wholesale massacre of men excites not one word of pity. We know also that the massacre of a school of children by Thracian savages is really regarded as a horrible atrocity by Thucydides, and, he tells us, by the Greek world. These then were the limits of cruelty in Greek war at this epoch-limits, I fear, often exceeded in more modern times.
But it will perhaps be more interesting to examine what evidences there are of this feature in the peaceful and home life of the Greeks. War is no doubt a stern taskmaster, and it may seem unfair to estimate a people from the excesses instigated by the fear and the fury of a protracted civil strife. Are there any parallel cases in the course of ordinary Athenian life?
It is well known that at the beginning of the epoch under discussion human sacrifices had hardly disappeared from Greece. Plutarch tells us that Themistocles was forced by the acclamations of the army to sacrifice three Persian prisoners of distinction, brought in just before the battle of Salamis, though he was greatly affected at the terrible nature of the sacrifice 1, so that it appears to have been then unusual. But Aristophanes, long after, makes allusions to what he calls pápμakoi, as still remembered at Athens, if not still in use, and which the scholiasts explain, chiefly from Hipponax, as a sort of human scapegoat, chosen for ugliness or deformity (a very Greek standpoint) and sacrificed for the expiation of the state (ká@apμa) in days of famine, of pestilence, or of other public disaster. I think that Aristophanes alludes to this custom as by-gone, though the scholiasts do not think so3, but its very
· ἐκπλαγέντος δὲ τοῦ Θ. ὡς μέγα τὸ μάντευμα καὶ δεινὸν. Plut. Them. 13.
2 Ran. 732, (πονηροὶ) οἷσιν ἡ πόλις πρὸ τοῦ
οὐδὲ φαρμακοῖσιν εἰκῆ ῥαδίως ἐχρήσατ ̓ ἄν.
* Besides the fragments of Hipponax (fr. 4-9 ed. Bergk) which belong to an earlier age, the Schol. seem to rely on the antiquarian Ister, who writing at Alexandria in Callimachus' days, mentioned among his collection of the ancient customs and feasts of Attica, the habit of
familiarity to his audience shows a disregard of human life strange enough in so advanced a legal system as that of democratic Athens.
But however this may be, we have full and clear evidence in the common practice of torture in the Athenian law-courts, and possibly even in the assembly, which has not been recognised by the panegyrists of Periclean Athens. Our best authorities on this question are of course the early orators, especially Antiphon, in whose speeches on cases of homicide this feature constantly recurs. It is well known that in such cases the accused might offer his own slaves to be tortured, in order to challenge evidence against himself; and it was thought a weak point in his case, if he refused to do so when challenged. It is also well known that the accusers were bound to make good any permanent injury, such as maiming, done to these slaves.
But there were both restrictions and extensions of this practice as yet but little noticed. It was not the custom to torture slaves who gave evidence to a fact, but only if they denied any knowledge, or appeared to suppress it in the interest of their master (Antiphon Tetral. A, y). On the other hand, it was common enough to torture female slaves, and also free men. There is a remarkable case in Antiphon's sacrificing two páрμakoι yearly at the Thargelia (Cp.fr. 33. ed. Müller). But there is no evidence that this lasted into Periclean times, and Plutarch's mention of Themistocles' horror at the proposal of a human sacrifice seems to me inconsistent with it. The once equivalent word Kάeaρμa is known to have been used in later Greek (from Lysias onward) in the general sense of 'miserable wretch,' with an implication of depravity.