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friends and carping critics. In spite, therefore, of the abundance of materials at hand, and the abundance of theories based upon them, there is still room for attempts to select salient features, and to bring before the modern public an accurate picture of Greek life, not in its trivial details, but in its large and enduring features. A more than incidental notice of the peculiarities of food and dress, and of the plan and arrangement of houses, is but weariness and idle labour. We want to know how they reasoned, and felt, and loved; why they laughed and why they wept; how they taught and what they learned.
But alas! to these questions we can only find full answers from one city, and from one brief epoch. Athenian culture under the Athenian democracy may indeed be regarded as the highest type and outcome of the Greek mind. But there, and there only, can we find sufficient materials to discuss the principal social questions in separate essays. The earlier ages are only known to us through the scanty remains of epic and lyric poetry, which afford many hints and suggestions, and in the case of the simpler epic age even allow us to draw a general sketch of life and manners, but which in the far more interesting lyric age—the transition from the old to the new life-fail us utterly, and allow little more than scattered reflections, often inconsistent, and scanty inferences, always uncertain. The essays therefore on the Greeks of the epic and lyric ages may be regarded as introductory to those in which Athenian life is more amply described. However unsatisfactory, these earlier chapters seem neces
sary in an historical work, where the later stages cannot be regarded as born in full armour, like the goddess Athene, but as growing insensibly from long sown seed and in long prepared soil.
In connection more particularly with such theories as those of Mr. Froude, which endeavour to get rid of the refinements of philosophers and politicians, and to reduce the motives of society to rude violence and successful force-in relation to such theories I cannot but think that the best possible antidote is to study the various phases through which the society and the morals of such a people as the Greeks passed. It will be seen how they began with rude notions, how in the Homeric days the now fashionable theory that 'Might is Right' was practically carried out-of this the present essay will give ample proofs. Even delicacy of feeling and chivalry of sentiment will be very inadequate, if the check of sound laws, based upon sound moral feeling diffused throughout a society, be not ever there to repress and to educate. We may then see, in succeeding ages, this social and moral force contending, and in the end contending successfully, against the disintegrating and barbarising forces. opposed to it-the party struggles and social hatreds. so prominent in Greece. And so we shall arrive at the Attic period, in which the free citizen could boast that the state protected him both from violence and injustice, so that men learned to postpone wounded feelings and outraged honour to the majesty of the law, that forbad all violence, even in the vindication of personal injury. And so the refinement of Greek
manners culminated in the gentle Menander, who brings his philosophy to aid the dictates of the law, and warns us that controversy and disputes are disagreeable and inconsistent with true comfort, and that a true gentleman would rather loose advantages and even submit to annoyance than ruffle his temper, and agitate himself with either wrangling or retaliation1. Unfortunately these developments within single states were not accompanied by similar improvements in their external relations. The Greeks never attained the higher condition of subjecting their public disputes to a system of international law or public arbitration. But we may well excuse it in them, seeing that in our nineteenth century this large and civilised method of avoiding war is but seldom invoked, and only submitted to with discontent and with grumbling. I think it will farther be shown that the general public of ancient Greece did not approach so nearly to the enlightenment of its intellectual leaders, as our modern public does. We find, for example, in the ordinary life of Athens, cruelties and barbarities so violently in conflict with the humanity of a Socrates, a Euripides,
See his Teapyós, frag. 3 (Meineke), 'This is the best man, Gorgias, who knows best how to control himself when injured (ὅστις ἀδικεῖσθαι πλεῖστ ̓ ἐπίστατ ̓ ἐγκρατῶς), for this hot temper and extreme bitterness is clear evidence to all of smallness of mind.' This sentiment, so different from those of Euripides, is repeated in other fragments; see frag. incert. 25, and yváμai 47. The latter passage is almost Christian in tone: Prefer to be injured rather than to injure, for (in so doing) you will blame others, and you will escape censure.' If he had not promised us the luxury of blaming others, the sentiment would be thoroughly Christian.
or a Plato, as to astonish us, and make us doubt our estimate of Attic culture. These harsh contrasts would, I think, exist now among us, but for two great differences in our society-one of them the direct result of Christianity. They are the invention of printing, and the abolition of slavery. The former has brought the leaders of public opinion into a close contact with the masses, quite unattainable in ancient days. In its modern development, the newspaper press, with all its faults, certainly brings home to the public mind all cases of cruelty and injustice with a promptness impossible even in busy and gossiping Athens, and so the public conscience is not only made sensitive, but has obtained a powerful organ for uttering its immediate
The latter has weaned the dominant classes from that contempt of human rights and human emotions which, even in our own day, is manifest in those who live as masters or rulers over degraded populations. Nothing, for example, is more striking in the Indian Official of even ten years standing, and still more in his wife, than their impatience of the rights and feelings of the lower classes at home, which they are obliged to respect, after their habit of lording it over the natives of Hindustan. I suppose the planters of the slave states in America would exhibit similar feelings. If these things be true, it will appear that the points of superiority in our condition to that of the Greeks were partly due to an accident in our civilisation-the discovery of a rapid means of multiplying books, but partly to a higher and better religion. This latter
is of course the great contrast, and the great advantage which we have gained. But I confess that when I compare the religion of Christ with that of Zeus, and Apollo, and Aphrodite, and consider the enormous, the unspeakable contrasts, I wonder not at the greatness, but at the smallness of the advance in public morality which has been attained. It is accordingly here, where the difference ought to be greatest, that we are led to wonder most at the superiority of Greek genius which, in spite of an immoral and worthless theology, worked out in its higher manifestations a morality equal to the best type of modern Christianity. Socrates and Plato are far superior to the Jewish moralist, they are far superior to the average Christian moralist; it is only in the matchless teaching of Christ himself that we find them surpassed. So then the social life of the Greeks is more than a matter of antiquarian curiosity, it is of practical value and interest to us all.