Imágenes de páginas

remarkable equality of condition, though the kings were allowed much larger possessions than the rest. The Spartans extended their power in the Peloponnesus at an early time, but did not follow a policy of conquest. The purpose of their military system was defensive rather than offensive. Not till after their people had become corrupted, during the Persian wars, did they rule over subjugated communities by means of Spartan governors and garrisons. This was soon followed by the rise of the Macedonian power under Philip, which terminated the independence of Sparta as well as the other Greek states. For more than 500 years this state maintained its unique character and the integrity of its institutions.

Its long continuance is clearly attributable to the intense devotion of the citizens to the preservation of the state. Patriotism here was in fullest bloom. Each individual deemed the state entitled to all his efforts while living and to the sacrifice of his life when necessary. Nowhere else has the spirit of self-sacrifice been so constantly maintained or at so high a pitch, yet this devotion was not prompted by love of man nor of all the people composing the state, nor of the Spartan citizens as individuals. It was devotion to that body of men of which the individual was a part. To foster this spirit parents rejoiced in the death of sons who fell bravely fighting, and mourned over and reviled those who fled in safety. The spirit constantly cultivated was one of hardness, but long singularly free from avarice and selfishness. The Helots were cruelly treated, even to systematic assassination. The natural affections were stifled to permit the destruction of weak offspring. The system was rigid. It admitted of no great expansion and aimed at no intellectual elevation, no development of science or philosophy. Its one sublime ideal of devotion to the public was confined to the narrow limits of Sparta and not only wanting in love for others, but its highest purpose was the overthrow of enemies in battle.

In order to preserve the integrity of his system, Lycurgus, Sparta's great law-giver, prohibited foreign travel, except in the interest of the state, and excluded all foreigners, and foreign commerce as well, from the city. To maintain equality he perpetuated poverty. Children were regarded as children of the state, and the boys were raised together under a training which inculcated craft and courage. Their clothing was scanty, and at the age of twelve they were deprived of all but a single upper garment a year. For beds they were allowed to gather reeds, and slept together in companies. The command of the companies was given to a youth who had been two years out of his class, chosen by an inspector. A principal business of the elders was watching the conduct of the boys and giving them instruction. Modesty in the modern sense was not esteemed a virtue. At certain festivals and games the young of both sexes appeared in scanty costume in the presence of each other and of the elders, but all were required to conduct themselves with strict decency and decorum in all respects. The marriage custom was a forcible carrying off of the bride, and the newly married pair were not allowed to remain together, but only to meet each other by stealth. It was deemed honorable for a feeble husband to allow his wife to have children by a man of superior qualities. It was believed that this tended to the production of better offspring. Marriage was so far compulsory that an old bachelor was in disgrace, while the father of children was honored.

Three fundamental laws declared by Lycurgus are mentioned. 1. Not to resort to written laws. 2. Not to employ in housebuilding any other tools than the axe and saw. 3. Not to undertake military expeditions often against the same enemy.

Capital offenses were tried before the senate, others by the ephors separately or all together. There being no written laws, judgment was given in accordance with the sentiments of the judge as to the merits of the particular case. The simplicity of the Spartan society and the absence of all commerce with the outside world afforded no basis for an elaborate system of laws.

As to the land tenure, although Plutarch states that Lycurgus divided the land into 9,000 shares for Spartan citizens and 30,000 shares throughout Laconia for the other inhabitants, modern critics discredit the statement.

Nor can any very definite statement of the law of inheritance be made. There were inequalities of possessions among the people and recognized titles to land. It was from the produce of their estates alone that the Spartan citizens furnished their quotas to the public tables. Whenever one became too poor to contribute his share, he lost his citizenship.

The military organization started with the enomoty, consisting of from twenty-five to thirty-six men of about the same age under a leader. Two to four of these were combined into a Pentecosty, of which two to four formed a Lochus and the Mora contained 400 to goo men. The military superiority acquired by the Spartans through their system not only secured their independence, but gained for them a predominating influence among all the petty Greek states, which they retained until the Persian war. There was a constant tendency however, for the number of citizens to diminish, so that in the time of Aristotle there were only about 1000. This is attributed to the gradual concentration of the title to the land in a few hands. No other Greek state maintained the integrity of its social organization so long, but, like every other rigid system which contained no provision for changing conditions, in time it lost its early spirit and at the same time shut out the invigorating influences of contact with the outer world and that spontaneous growth, which can only come rapidly under conditions which invite new inspirations. Advancement comes with new ideals, and to continue the ideals must advance as the people move up. Mere permanency of institutions or conditions evidences stagnation, rather than a full and glorious life of progress.

Athens The history of Athens appears mythical and uncertain till a later date than that ascribed to the establishment of the Spartan system. The early Ionian people of Attica were divided into four tribes and these again into Phratries and Gentes. Each gens was composed of a number of households not, it is said, necessarily all related to each other by blood, but


bound together by religious ties, proximity of possessions and mutual dependence in protecting common interests. These divisions were mainly religious and social. Besides these each tribe was divided politically into three Trettys, and each Tretty included four Naukraries. Prior to the time of Theseus there was no central authority in Attica, each small town maintaining its independence. Theseus, who has been invested by Greek imagination with heroic virtues and mythical adventures, appears to be a genuine historic character and to have first established the ascendency of Athens over Attica and, if any credit can be given to the tale of his adventures in Crete, he relieved the people from the payment of tribute to King Minos. There is so little reliable history of Athens prior to about 750 B.C. that nothing can be safely built on it. Codrus is said to have been the last who was permitted to be called king, his successors being styled archons and holding office for life till Alkmaeon, when the term of office was reduced to two years.

This continued for seventy years, when the office was made annual, with nine archons among whom the powers were distributed. Down to 714 B.C. the archons were all descendants of Medon and Codrus, but after that date any of the eupatrids or nobles became eligible. At the expiration of his term of office the archon whose administration was approved became a life member of the senate of the Areopagus. The functions of this body were both judicial and political. The archons were not of equal authority. At the head was the Archon Eponymous, who determined all disputes relative to the family and relations in the gens and phratry, and was guardian of widows and orphans. He was styled the Archon, and from his name the year was designated in their chronology. The Archon Basileus heard complaints respecting offenses against religion and also of homicides. The Polemarch was the general and judge of disputes between citizens and non-citizens. Each of these conducted certain religious festivals. The remaining six, styled Thesmothetae, had general jurisdiction of other matters of dispute. In 624 B.C., Draco, then one of the archons, was directed to put the laws in writing, so that they might be

shown and known beforehand. The famed Draconian code was not new laws made by him, but old ones reduced to writing. Its severity has often been remarked, but so little of it has been preserved that its contents cannot be given or even summarized. It was in his time that the judges, called Ephetae, made up of fifty-one elders of leading gentes, were established with power to judge in certain cases of homicide. They sat in three different places, according to the nature of the charge and defense, and were permitted to pass a sentence less than death according to the justification or excuse, whereas it is said that the Areopagus could only condemn to death. Peculiar religious ideas connected with the different places seem to have produced this system. The constitution of such a variety of courts for trial of homicides would seem to indicate a great number of such offenses. About 612 B.C. Cylon seized the Acropolis and attempted to establish himself as tyrant, but failed miserably and many of his followers were slain, some at the sanctuaries.

At the time of Solon the record becomes more clear, and we have a more satisfactory account of the Athenian state. Plutarch tells us that in Solon's time there were great disorders in the state. Cylon's attempted usurpation and the slaughter of his followers in the sanctuaries left bitter factions and aroused superstitious fears. But more deep-seated were the troubles arising from the conditions of the people and their different views of government. He says, “The inhabitants of the mountainous part were, it seems, for a democracy; those of the plain for an oligarchy; and those of the sea coasts contending for a mixed kind of government, hindered the other two from gaining their point. At the same time the inequality between the poor and the rich occasioned the greatest discord, and the state was in so dangerous a situation that there seemed to be no way to quell the seditions or to save it from ruin but changing it to a monarchy.” Of the poor debtors some were made slaves, some sold to foreigners, others sold their children. The greater number determined to resist this oppression. Solon was of the eupatrid order and had gained great reputation and the confidence of all classes

« AnteriorContinuar »