Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

illiberal to deny to acts, in themselves so generous, all share of high and noble motive. As well might we explain the liberal charities of our own time as selfish bids for popular applause. The ancient Athenians were indeed far enough from any true comprehension of a Christian philanthropy; yet, in the service of the state and of their ancestral gods, they have furnished an exhibition of enlarged public spirit which may well command the admiration of the world.

Prof. Boeckh thinks that the various sources of revenue exclusive of gratuities, must have yielded annually in the best days of the Athenian republic some $1,800,000. On the basis of this estimate, it will be seen, that the government in time of peace not only supported itself without any direct tax upon its citizens, but often found itself at the close of the year in possession of a large surplus.

The heavy expenses of war were met by special provision. These were two-fold, a property tax assessed on most equitable principles, and extraordinary services from the rich. But into a discussion of these subjects our limits forbid us to enter.

The financial system of ancient Athens is a strange combination of rarest excellence and of puerile imperfection. "We admire the liberal public spirit which marks its provisions; we dwell with delight upon its kindly charities, but we are pained at its exhibitions of demoralizing indulgence and of unblushing corruption. The Athenian character itself was largely made up of contradictions and extremes. The ancient Athenian was enthusiastic in his devotion to country; yet he not unfrequently found his patriotism powerless to resist the temptations of gold; he was liberal to a fault in expending his treasures upon the works of the state; yet not for a moment could he be trusted with the public coffers. It is not strange, therefore, that these contradictions re-appear in the state; republican institutions must ever reflect the character of the people.

A careful study of the Athenian polity furnishes the American student with numerous topics of useful reflection. It is at once interesting and instructive to examine the con

Vol. XV. No. 57. 18

stitution of the ancient State, to observe the points of similarity and the points of contrast between this and our American republic. It is folly indeed to idolize antiquity; it is equal folly to disregard it. A nearer view of the inner workings of the Athenian commonwealth prepares us the better to appreciate and admire the purer spirit and the truer freedom of our own favored institutions.

ARTICLE IX.
SMITH'S DICTIONARY OF GEOGRAPHY. —SMTRNA.

BY PROF. OEOROE M. LANE, HARVARD UNIVERSITY.

Mr. Smith is an indefatigable writer of books. His last book for 1857 is a pamphlet of some 1380 pages, on Greek and Roman Geography.

The book contains more than the title implies. Besides the geography it aims at a chorographic and topographic description of countries and cities; with historical accounts of their origin, rise and decline, and sketches of the more important buildings of the cities.

The work abounds in the excellencies and defects which may be noticed in the whole series of Mr. Smith. He has done more than any other English scholar toward popularizing the results of continental scholars, and presenting the material side of antiquity in a convenient and accessible form. In general the due proportion in the length and prominence of the Articles has been preserved. They are written in neat English, printed in neat type, and illustrated by neat cuts and maps. On the other hand, even a casual

1 Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. Edited by William Smith, LL. D. In two volumes. Boston: Little. Brown and Company. Vol. I. 1854. pp. 1108. Vol. II. 1857. pp. 1383.

glance at the works of this series will detect many incongruities; the compilatory character is too evident. Citations are given which do not always warrant the assertions in the text, and citations are sometimes given which do not warrant anything at all. It is too often apparent that the contributors have not gone to the bottom of their subject; that they have transferred Articles, or fused them together, without going back to a careful study of authorities on which they should be founded. Neither can the effect of these works on the literary community be in all respects good. While they undoubtedly contribute to the culture of many persons who, but for these convenient English manuals, would hardly know where to apply for information on classical matters, it cannot be denied that they may lead young scholars astray. It is easier for them to turn to the Dictionaries, and find the whole story there, than to put in play their own powers of memory, comparison, and combination; and an unchecked use of illustrative books is apt to divert the attention too much to the realia, too much to things, greatly to the prejudice of the main object of classical study, intimacy with the authors themselves, a thorough acquaintance with the ancient idioms, and a genuine and searching appreciation of the unapproachable graces of classical style.

However, to speak of this estimable book in vague generalities is not our purpose. It is proposed in the following to consider with some care the history of one of the towns included in the second volume; one of the smaller towns, but to the biblical and classical scholar not the least interesting. The Article on Smyrna has been furnished by Mr. Leonhard Schmitz, of Edinburgh, favorably known from his educational works. This Article gives the main and familiar features in the history of Smyrna, with tolerable correctness. But it is very far from complete. The few chronological data given are those commonly adopted, not his own. It is thought that a somewhat more satisfactory determination of the principal epochs in the history of the city may be made than has hitherto been done. And to do this with any degree of thoroughness, it is easier to re-construct the whole history, as far as the ancient sources allow, than to keep up a running commentary on the somewhat meagre sketch of Mr. Schmitz.

The historical notices of the town are not many, and are often provokingly vague. The reason of this is apparent. From its early settlement down to a couple of hundred years after the beginning of authentic history, the city of Smyrna was one of the most flourishing cities of Asia Minor. Many years after, under the successors of Alexander the Great, it regained, though under a totally changed state of affairs, much of its ancient prominence, and under Augustus and Tiberius and subsequent emperors it is again spoken of as " the gem of Ionia," 1 and "the eye of Asia." 2 But between these two periods there is a great gulf fixed; Smyrna was razed to the ground, — as wc shall try to show below, at or after 580, B. C, — and lay in rains till it was restored in Alexander's time, or shortly after. During this long interval nothing remained but the temples, and a few scattered hamlets, occupied by the descendants of the ancient inhabitants. Hence, in the great historical game played between the people of the East and the people of the West, and afterwards in the feud between Sparta and Athens, Smyrna could take no part.3 The town lay consequently out of the range of the great historians, who probably looked on it as a place that had vanished forever from the face of the earth. Herodotus alludes to it only two or three times, and then incidentally. Thucydides never mentions the name. The most direct and authentic sources left us for the history of the old town are the scanty notices of epic and lyric poets. The deductions drawn from these notices by later Greek writers can only be used with great caution. Of the new town the notices of historians, perie

1 Boookh, C. I. 3191 of the period of Sept. Sevcrus, and often in inscriptions. 3 Arislid. Mo*. M 2>i. I. p. 428.

* It is nothing lmt a lilundcr when Korliim, Hellcnisehc Staatsrerfassnntren, p. 51, enumerates Smyrna among; the allies of Athens in the Teloponnes^an War.

gets and geographers enable us to give a somewhat more connected account. The rhetor Aelius Aristides of Smyrna, gives some incidental information. His ideas of the history are shallow and absurd, but for his own times he is a credible witness. The coins and inscriptions are all, unfortunately, of the new Smyrna.

Histories, indeed, of the town were not wanting. Those historians who treated of the Aeolic and Ionian confederations could hardly have failed to notice a town which was, in a measure, the connecting link between the two confederations; and Alexandrine industry must have occupied itself with the history of a place toward which so many unshaken evidences point as the birthplace of the Homeric songs. Of special histories of the town we have two titles, of whose existence Mr. Schmitz does not seem to be aware. The first is 'IajopiKa irepl Zpvpvijs, Historical Investigations on Smyrna. The second is nival; 'Pco/Mticov Koi Zp,vpva'uov hiahoyri Kara xpovovs, which seems to have been a chronological or annalistic catalogue of distinguished Romans and Smyrnaeans, probably public functionaries.' The loss of these works, which are known to us only through an inscription,2 cannot be sufficiently deplored, as the author, Hermogenes, the son of Charidemus, who lived seventy-seven years, and wrote seventy-seven books, treated many interesting things connected with our subject, such as the Wisdom and the Country of Homer, and the Foundation of Colonies in Europe and Asia. A third work, mentioned by Suetonius,8 a Commentarius Smyrnae, by L. Crassitius, a freedman of Tarentum, is understood by some commentators to be a history of Smyrna. But Weichert4 and others have shown conclusively that this was a commentary on the erudite poem of Cinna.

Among modern writers on Smyrna Mr. Schmitz quotes

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »