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adopted sons and daughters of the state. At her hands they received their support; by her they were educated, and with her benediction they went forth to the duties of life. Happy lot for the orphan! Many an Athenian youth might envy him, when at the age of eighteen in the great Dionysiac Theatre amidst approving thousands, he received in the name of the state his full suit of armor, and heard the voice of the herald proclaiming aloud his father's glorious deeds, and bidding him, thus panoplied for service, go forth in the light of that bright example.
Athens kept no standing army, yet her military establishment, even in time of peace, involved no trifling expense.
The navy numbered some three or four hundred gallies of war, and the cavalry was a thousand strong. Xenophon estimates the annual expense of the latter at $40,000.
The liberality of the ancient Athenians in lavishing their treasures upon great public works, is well nigh proverbial. Amidst all the changing fortunes of the republic, it was their unvarying policy to foster architecture and art as the special handmaids of religion and the state. Through a long line of statesmen — with the illustrious names of Pisistratus, Themistocles, Cimon, Pericles, Conon, and Lycurgus, we behold the public revenues lavished with an unsparing hand upon the imposing edifices of the state and the magnificent temples of religion. Athens became the pride of her own citizens, and the admiration of Greece and the world ; her master works of art still remain unrivalled amidst the accumulated labors of all ages and nations. Roman genius bowed before the great Athenian models; modern art can do little more than study, admire, and imitate; even Michael Angelo acknowledged himself a child in the presence of the great Grecian master.
The fortifications of Athens were massive and gigantic. One continuous wall of solid masonry, sixty feet in height, and some twelve or fifteen in thickness, encompassed both the city and its harbors. The dockyards were constructed at an expense of $1,000,000, and the Propylaea, we are told, cost upwards of $2,000,000. What expenditure then could have reared the stately temples, and fashioned the exquisite works of art which crowned the Citadel and filled the sacred enclosure, to which the famed Propylaea, with all its massive grandeur, was but a fit and unpretending portal ? What untold treasures were requisite to rear the Parthenon, with all its matchless sculpture and rich adorning? Half a million of dollars was barely sufficient to drape the statue of the virgin goddess, which stood within it. What countless sums must have been expended upon the Theseum, the Erechtheum, and upon the temples of the Olympian Zeus, and of Nike! Estimate, too, the cost of the Odeum, the Prytaneum, the Tholus, the Dionysiac Theatre, the Painted Stoa; count up the aqueducts, the fountains, the gymnasia, the hippodromes; call to mind the countless works of art which adorned all the great temples, and even lined the streets and the Agora; in all this you behold an exhibition of enlarged public spirit almost as rare and wonderful as the matchless creations of genius to which it gave birth.
The annual expenditure upon public works must, of course, have varied with the circumstances of the times, and with the condition of the treasury. It was heaviest under the administration of Pericles. That great patron of art probably expended several millions of dollars in beautifying the city.
Prof. Boeckh, in his general estimate, places the regular annual expenses of the state at $400,000. He adds, however, the obvious remark, that the construction of great public works and special extravagance in the celebration of festivals not unfrequently swelled the expenditure far beyond this amount.
Much has been written on the demoralizing extravagance of the Athenian government, and there certainly were many items in the annual appropriations which must have been at best but an inexcusable waste of treasure; yet it must be admitted that $400,000 is not an extravagantly large expenditure for a state of half a million of souls. Perhaps few governments of modern times are more economically administered. The police for the year 1857 cost the city of London upwards of $220,000 : the budget of Paris recently appropriated for the current year exceeds $14,000,000.
But we pass, finally, to examine the sources of revenue at the command of the Athenian government. The statesmen of ancient Athens had the wisdom to perceive that a revenue raised by indirect taxation would be the most acceptable to the people. To an Athenian it would have been an act of intolerable oppression to impose a direct tax upon the person or the occupation of the citizen; indeed, no direct taxes whatever were levied, except in cases of emergency, and then only upon property, never upon the man himself. Tertullian, in denouncing the direct taxation of the person, did but echo a sentiment which centuries before commanded the general assent of Greece. “ As the field,” says he, " is of less value when subject to taxation, so are the persons of men more despised when they pay a poll-tax, for this is an indication of captivity."
The ordinary sources of revenue were rents, duties, fines, tributes, and the gratuitous services of citizens.
A very considerable income accrued to the state from the rents of the public lands and the mines. Many of the public buildings are also supposed to have been rented; and, however little it may comport with our ideas of state dignity, it is an undeniable fact that the Athenian republic kept tenements to lease.
A trifling duty of two per cent., levied on all imports and exports, probably yielded the state an income of some $35,000. The tax on slaves netted almost $30,000; and the protection extended to resident aliens, $20,000.
The courts of justice also opened an important source of revenue. Law-suits, in ancient as in modern times, furnished an easy method of sinking private fortunes. Whichever party lost, the lawyer and the state were sure to gain. The regular fees were by no means inconsiderable; and the fines imposed as the punishment of crime, were often extremely heavy. The penalty for accepting a bribe was either death or a fine of four-fold the amount received; any
i Quoted by Boeckh.
woman who was found guilty of the shocking crime of riding to Eleusis in a carriage, was fined $1000; any person who presumed to bring a foreign dancer upon the stage of the Dionysiac Theatre, was required to pay the State $170 for the insult. Demades, however, did not hesitate to exhibit a hundred such dancers, but even he could not escape the heavy forfeit. As the penalty of his arrogant folly, he was compelled to pay into the public treasury the full sum of $17,000. Heavy fines of some thousands of dollars were at times imposed upon statesmen for proposing unconstitutional laws. Aeschines, in his indictment of Ctesiphon, lays the damages at $50,000. In special cases, indeed, still higher pecuniary penalties were imposed; a fine of no less than $100,000 was assessed upon Timotheus in an action for treason.
Confiscation of property was by no means uncommon at Athens. This form of punishment, ever indeed most unwise and perilous, became, in the hands of a corrupt and heartless populace, a powerful weapon of injustice and cruelty. The innocent were accused, that their property might become the public spoil. The treasury profited but little by the ill-gotten gain; by far the greater share fell into the grasping hands of the multitude. Indeed the entire wealth of Diphilus, amounting to some $160,000, was no sooner confiscated than it was distributed among the people.
But no branch of the public revenue was more productive than the tributes of the allies; and none contributed more directly to the corruption of the public morals and to the ruin of the state. The famed confederacy of Delos was at length so perverted from its specific purpose as to be made the means of filling the Athenian treasury. Voluntary contributions soon became forced tributes; and Athens found herself in the time of Pericles in the annual receipt of $600,000 from this source alone. But not content even with this, she not long after doubled the assessment, and actually collected the enormous sum of $1,200,000 from those who had voluntarily associated themselves with her for purposes of mutual defence. We here behold one of those remarkable paradoxes in human nature which the Athenian character unfortunately too often displays. The very people, we might almost say the very men, who repeatedly put forth the most heroic and self-sacrificing efforts in behalf of the liberties of Greece; who in their dealings alike with friend and foe so often show themselves models of rarest magnanimity, — this very people, now recreant to the plainest obligations of right, become guilty of the revolting crime of oppressing and robbing their own allies.
But any view of the Athenian revenue would be exceedingly incomplete if it should fail to take account of those expensive services which the Athenian constitution required the wealthy to perform in the name of the state. These were nominally gratuities; but, like many gratuities with which governments have since honored the people, they were such as must be paid. In theory these gratuitous services were not burdens, but only expensive honors conferred by the state upon such as were able to accept them, and, indeed, in practice they were not unfrequently eagerly sought. In the Athenian code, to serve the gods and the state was the highest privilege of man. The law prescribed the nature and extent of the service to be rendered ; but the wealthy in most cases not only far exceeded these requirements, but actually vied with each other in the richness and magnificence which they displayed in the public services. Whatever may be thought of the wisdom of this prodigal expenditure of private treasure, few will be disposed to criticise such an exhibition of rare public spirit. It must be admitted, however, that the system is open to grave censure. It provided, as Prof. Boeckh remarks, no equal distribution of the public burdens; it enabled the poor actually to oppress the rich, while it also tempted the ambitious to excessive expenditure to secure the favor of the people. Still we have but little sympathy with those who would resolve all their noble sacrifices into mere displays of selfish pride, or costly baits thrown out by ambition to appease the rapacity of a mad populace. While we freely admit that the system was liable to shocking abuse, we cannot but deem it