Imágenes de páginas

he might check the impatience and ardour of the Athenians, he was particularly careful not to assemble either the senate or the people; lest they should form some fatal resolution, in spite of all the opposition in his power. His friends used all the intreaties imaginable, to make him change his conduct. His enemies, on the other side, endeavoured to stagger him by their menaces, and slanderous discourses. They strove to sting him by songs and satires, in which they aspersed him as a man of a cowardly, unfeeling disposition, who basely gave up his country to the sword of the enemy. But no man showed so much rancour against Pericles as qCleon. He was the son of a currier, and also followed that trade himself. He had raised himself by faction, and probably by a species of merit which those must possess who would rise in popular governments. He had a thundering and overbearing voice; and possessed besides, in a wonderful manner, the art of gaining the people, and bringing them over to his interest. It was he who enacted a law, that three oboli (not two as before) should be given to each of the 6,000 judges. The characteristics which more immediately distinguished him were, an unbounded self-conceit, a ridiculous arrogance of his uncommon merit; and a boldness of speech, which he carried to the highest pitch of insolence and effrontery, and spared no man. But none of these things could move Pericles b. His invincible strength of mind raised him above low, vulgar clamours. Like a good pilot in a raging storm, who, after he has given out the proper orders,

and taken all the precautions necessary, is studious of nothing but how to make the best use of his art, without suffering himself to be moved by the tears or intreaties of those whom fear has distracted; Pericles, in like manner, after having put the city in a good posture of defence, and posted guards in all places to prevent surprise, followed those counsels which his prudence suggests : ed, entirely regardless of the complaints, the taunts and licentious discourses of the citizens; from a firm persuasion, that he knew much better than they in what manner they were to be governed. c It then appeared evidently, says Plutarch, that Pericles was absolute master of the minds of the Athenians, since he prevailed so far (at such a juncture as this) .as to keep them from sallying out of the city; as if he had kept the keys of the city, in his own possession, and fixed on their arms, the seal of his authority, to forbid their making use of them. Things happened exactly as a It is he wbom Aristophanes has inveighed so much against in several of

6 Spernendis rumoribus validus. Tacit. c Plut. An Seni ger. sit resp p. 784. « Διεκώλυσε, μονονά τα όπλα το δήμο και τας κλείς των πυλών αποσφραγι σάμεν@».

his comedies

Pericles had foretold; for the enemy, finding the Athenians were determined not to stir out of their city, and having advice that the enemy's fleet carried fire and sword into their territories, they raised their camp, and after making dread, ful havoc in the whole country through which they marched, they returned to Peloponnesus, and retired to their several homes.

It might here be asked, why Pericles acted, on this occasion, in a quite different manner from what Themistocles had done about 50 years before, when, at Xerxes's approach, he made the Athenians march out of their city, and abandon it to the enemy. But a little reflection will show, that the circumstances differed widely. Themistocles, being invaded by all the forces of the East, justly concluded that it would be impossible for him to withstand, in a single city, those millions of Barbarians who would have poured upon it like a deluge, and deprived him of all hopes of being succoured by his allies. This is the reason given by Cicero. “Fluctum enim, totius Barbariæ ferre urbs una non poterat.” It was therefore prudent in him to retire for some time, and to let the confused multitude of Barbarians consume and destroy one another. But Pericles was not engaged in so forniidable and oppressive a war. The odds were not very great, and he foresaw it would allow him intervals in which he might breathe. Thus, like a judicious man and an able politician, he kept close in Athens, and could not be moved either by the remonstrances or murmurs of the citizens. a Cicero, writing to his friend Atticus, condemns absolutely the resolution which Pompey formed and executed, of abandoning Rome to Cæsar; whereas he ought, in imitation of Pericles, to have shut himself up in it with the senate, the magistrates, and the flower of the citizens who had declared in his favour.

After the Lacedæmonians were retired, the Athenians put troops into all the important posts both by sea and land, pursuant to the plan they intended to follow as long as the war continued. They also came to a resolution to keep always $ 1000 talents in reserve, and 100 gallies; and never to use them, except the enemy should invade Attica by sea ; at the same time making it death for any man to propose: the employing them any other way.

The galljes which had been sent into Peloponnesus made dreadful havoc there, whịch consoled the Athenians, in some measure, for the losses they had sustained. One day as the forces were going on board, and Pericles was entering his own ship, a sudden and total eclipse of the sun ensued, and the earth was overspread with the deepest gloom. This a Lib. vii Epist. 11.

About h 140,000

[ocr errors]

phænomenon filled the minds of the Athenians with the utmost terror; who were wont, through superstition, and the ignorance of natural causes, to consider such events as fatal omens. Pericles seeing the pilot who was on board his ship astonished, and incapable of managing the helm, threw his cloak over his face, and asked him whether he saw: the pilot answering, that the cloak took away all objects from his sight; Pericles then gave him to understand, that a like cause, viz. the interposition of the vast body of the moon between his eyes and the sun, prevented his seeing its splendour

a The first year of the war of Peloponnesus being now elapsed, the Athenians, during the winter, solemnized public funerals, according to ancient custom, (a practice truly humane, and expressive of a just gratitude) in honour of those who had lost their lives in that campaign, a ceremony which they constantly observed during the whole course of that war. For this purpose they set up three days before, a tent, in which the bones of the deceased citizens were exposed, and every person strewed flowers, incense, perfumes, and other things of the same kind, upon those remains. They afterwards were put on a kind of chariots, in coffins made of cypress wood, every tribe having its particular coffin and chariot ; but in one of the latter a large empty b coffin was carried in honour of those whose bodies had not been found. The procession marched with a grave, majestic, and religious pomp; a great number of inhabitants, both citizens and foreigners, assisted at this mournful solemnity. The relations of the deceased officers and soldiers stood weeping at the sepulchre. These bones were carried to a public monument, in the finest suburb of the city, called the Ceramicus; where were buried in all ages, those who lost their lives in the field, except the warriors of Marathon, who, to immortalize their rare valour, were interred in the field of battle. Earth was afterwards laid over them, and then one of the citizens of the greatest distinction pronounced their funeral oration. Pericles was now appointed to exercise this honourable office. When the ceremony was ended, he went from the sepulchre to the tribunal, in order to be the better heard, and spoke the oration, the whole of which Thucydides has transmitted to us. Whether it was really composed by Pericles, or by the historian, we may affirm that it is truly worthy the reputation of both those great men, as well for the noble simplicity of the style, as for the just beauty of the thoughts, and the grandeur of the sentiments which shine in every part of it. After having

a Thucyd l.ii. p. 121-130. c Thucyd. 1. ii. p. 139.

These are called Cenotaphila.

paid, in so solemn a manner, this double tribute of tears and applauses, to the memory of those brave soldiers who had sacrificed their lives to defend the liberties of their country; the public, who did not confine their gratitude to empty ceremonies and tears, maintained their widows, and all their infant orphans. This was a powerful a incentive to animate the courage of the citizens; for great men are formed, where merit is best rewarded.

About the close of the same campaign, the Athenians concluded an alliance with Sitalces, king of the Odrysians in Thrace; and, in consequence of this treaty, his son was admitted a citizen of Athens. They also came to an accomdation with Perdiccas, king of Macedonia, by restoring to him the city of Thermæ ; after which they joined their forces, in order to carry on the war in Chalcis.

SECT. II. The Plague makes dreadful Havoc in Attica. Pericles is divested of the Command. The Lacedæmoniins have recourse to the Persians for Aid. Potidæa is taken by the Athenians. Pericles is restored to his Employment. His Death, and that of Anaxagoras.


In the beginning of the second campaign, the enemy made an incursion into the country as before, and laid it waste. But the plague made a much greater devastation in Athens; the like having never been known. It is related that it began in Ethiopia, whence it descended into Egypt, from thence spread over Libya, and a great part of Persia ; and at last broke at once, like a flood, upon Athens. Thucydides, who himself was seized with that distemper, has described very minutely the several circumstances and symptoms of it, in

prder, says he, that a faithful and exact relation of this caElamity may serve as an instruction to posterity, in case the e like should ever again happen. Hippocrates, who was em

ployed to visit the sick, has also described it as a physician,

and a Lucretius as a poet. This pestilence baffled the ute most efforts of art; the most robust constitutions were un

able to withstand its attacks; and the greatest care and skill of the physicians were a feeble help to those who were infected. The instant a person was seized, he was struck with despair, which quite disabled him from attempting a Cure. The assistance that was given them was ineffectual,

Αθλα γάρ οδε κείται αρετής μίγισα, τους δε και άνδρες άρις οι πολιτεύεσι. A. M. 3574 Ant. J. C. 430. Thucyd. 1. ii. p. 130--147. Diod. p. 101, 102. Epidem. I. v. § 3.

d Lib. vi.

Plut. in Periet. p. 171.

and proved mortal to all such of their relations as had the courage to approach them. The prodigious quantity of bag. gage, which had been removed out of the country into the city, proved very noxious. Most of the inhabitants, for want of lodging, lived in little cottages; in which they could scarcé breathe, during the raging heat of the summer, so that they were seen either piled one upon the other, (the dead, as well as those who were dying) or else crawling through the streets or lying along by the side of fountains, to which they had dragged themselves to quench the raging thirst which consumed them. The very temples were filled with dead bodies, and every part of the city exhibited a dreadful image of death ; without the least remedy for the present, or the least hopes with regard to futurity.

a The plague, before it spread into Attica, had made great ravages in Persia. Artaxerxes, who had been informed of the high reputation of Hippocrates of Cos, the greatest physician of that or any other age, caused his governors to write to him, to invite him into his dominions, in order that he might prescribe to those who were infected. The king made him the most advantageous offers ; setting no bounds to his rewards on the side of interest, and, with regard to honours, promising to make him equal with the most considerable persons in his court. The reader has already been told, the prodigious regard which was shown to the Grecian physicians in Persia ; and, indeed, can services of such importance be too well rewarded? However, all the glitter of the Persian riches and dignities were not able to tempt Hippocrates ; nor stifle the hatred and aversion which was become natural to the Greeks for the Persians, ever since the latter had invaded them. This great physician therefore sent no other answer than this, that he was free from either wants or desires: that all his cares were due to his fellowcitizens and countrymen ; and that he was under no obligation to Barbarians, the declared enemies of Greece. Kings are not used to denials. Artaxerxes, therefore, in the highest transports of rage, sent to the city of Cos, the native place of Hippocrates, and where he was at that time, commanding them to deliver up to him that insolent wretch, in order that he might be brought to condign punishment; and

threatening, in case they refused, to lay waste their city and island in such a manner, that not the least footsteps of it should remain. However, the inhabitants of Cos were not under the least terror. They made answer, that the menaces of Darius and Xerxes had not been able to prevail with them to give them earth and water, or to obey their orders ;


a Hippocrat in Episs,

« AnteriorContinuar »