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bodily pleasures, which extols self-denial and continence, to combine with these features an element of present enjoyment and indulgence? Thus the Christian feasts which have any real jollity about them are those where old heathen customs have survived, and have been allowed to foist themselves in upon the creed which proscribed and persecuted them. It is therefore rather in British sports than in religious feasts that we should look for an analogy to the Greek combination of wild pleasure and deep earnest.
I need not lay stress upon sundry smaller resemblances, which are likely to spring up anywhere from like circumstances, such for example as hereditary priesthoods coming to be considered comfortable sinecures?, or the transaction of love affairs under the guise of attending religious worship—a thing of everyday occurrence among strict people now-a-days, and of course equally so at Athens, where young women could not show themselves elsewhere, save in a stray peep through an open door. Human nature will assert itself in some way, despite of all restrictions, nor are religious meetings exempt from contributing opportunities for this great purpose.
1 Isocrates, vol. ii. p. 118, ed. Teubner. Hermann-Stark (Griech. Antiqq. i. p. 412,) quotes from Dionysius Halicarn. a passage implying the public sale, and even the letting by lease of such priesthoods, which were evidently comfortable posts, abounding in indirect perquisites, like the post of parish priest, or incumbent of a private chapel, among us. The prophet or seer (uavtis) was like his Hebrew parallel, not attached to any temple, and often, as in the case of Lampon the founder of Thurii, of great social importance. A passage in Demosthenes concerning the prize of trierarchy (Or. 51. p. 1234) compares the jealousy of the rhetors, who would allow no one to advise the assembly but themselves, to the jealousy of men holding a peculiar priesthood as a monopoly. This implies that it was generally a valuable monopoly.
I turn in preference to an isolated argument in a speech of Demosthenes' which touches a very important feature in the religion both of our day and of the Greeks. He is arguing that to deprive certain men of immunities once granted by the State is a breach of public morality and not to be tolerated. But,' says he, it may be urged that these immunities from State duties include in them immunities from doing honour to the gods, by spending money upon expensive public processions and contests, and it may be urged as impious and wrong that any man should be relieved from his duties to the gods.' In fact the heaviest public burdens at Athens were expensive religious celebrations. Such an argument,' says the orator, I consider full of danger (elvóv). For if, when they have no other way of proving it just that you should take away these privileges, they seek to do it by relying upon religious grounds (επί τω των θεών ονόματι), how can we acquit them of a most impious and dangerous proceeding? For in my opinion, whatever a man does, claiming the express countenance of the gods, should surely be such an action as will not appear base in the eyes of men.'
Here then we have an instance, where we should hardly have expected it, of the attempt to make religion override morals, and of defending a piece of common injustice under the plea of conferring honour upon the gods. How often this sort of argument was used in the Middle Ages, I need hardly recall to a reader of history; it has recurred whenever dogma has been made of primary importance, and where the belief in creeds has been more anxiously promoted than the doing of justice and loving of mercy. But this was not an usual fault in Greek religion, and I cannot but regard the passage as a very singular one, and not yet sufficiently considered.
1 Προς Λεπτινήν. 495.
I now conclude this brief chapter upon a very large subject. But the classical student will find no difficulty in illustrating for himself the general principles sketched out here in rough outline. The chief rule to be observed in this, as in all other branches of our social enquiry, is to go straight to the authorities themselves, to draw from the fountain-heads, and not be content with the speculations of learned modern thinkers. The trouble and tedium of this labour will be relieved by the consideration that where our conclusions must be formed from scattered hints and delicate inferences, no single writer can exhaust the subject, and every honest gleaner who comes after him may fairly expect to contribute materially to the result. The same text which has revealed nothing to one will suggest to others in a different frame of mind many interesting points; nay, even a reperusal discovers to the same mind many things at first overlooked or imperfectly understood. The subject of the present chapter, if fully treated by a man of English common sense, who read Greek literature through with a special attention to the allusions bearing upon it, would form the argument for a useful and instructive volume.
THE BUSINESS HABITS OF THE ATTIC GREEKS.
THERE still remains an important feature of Attic civilisation, demanding a special chapter. It is well known that one of the great features in Hellenic life was its extensive commerce. From Homer's days, when the Greeks first began timidly to creep after the Phoenician traders round the headlands which bounded their seas, down to Attic days, when they had long made the Mediterranean their own, and when Athens was like London, a centre for traffic extending from Pontus to Tartessus—during all this period there were few things in Greek life more important than trade. Thus the colonies were founded under solemn religious auspices, and at the advice of the Delphic oracle; their sites were specially chosen as suitable for intercourse between the sea and the interior; we may even fairly suppose that all the important wars which took place during the colonising epoch of Greek history were wars concerning commercial interests, and with a view to protect trade interests.
We are told, for example, that almost all Greece joined in a war between Chalcis and Eretria about the Lelantine plain-a war alluded to as contemporary
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by Theognis, and concerning which even Aristotle still preserved anecdotes. Historians have justly pointed out the inconceivability of all Greece being interested about some fields in Eubea, and that the rivalry of the two towns concerning settlements at the mouth of the Euxine was the real cause, while a local dispute was the occasion, of the war? The passage into the Black Sea was always of vast importance, as even in Attic days the toll levied for passing Byzantium formed a considerable item of revenue; and it appears that the Greek trading cities supported Chalcis or Eretria according as pre-existing treaties secured to them protection or immunity from either party. Thus the Lelantine war, a name unknown to our ordinary compendiums of Greek history, was a great war of traders, and in Thucydides' opinion (i. 15) the only general struggle throughout historical Greece previous to his own day.
These facts, as well as the innumerable speeches on commercial disputes left us by the orators, show that there was a strong trading instinct in the Greeks; that there were large portions of the community supported in this way; that it was, as now, the best avenue to wealth. No sketch, therefore, of social life among the Greeks would be complete without some notice of their business habits. Here, as elsewhere, we shall only note laws and customs as illustrative of manners and of sentiment. Innumerable books have already been written on Greek laws, on Greek notions of property and of inheritance, on Greek political economy
1 E. g. E. Curtius, in his History of Greece.