« AnteriorContinuar »
stood fast, and in an instant, at the height of their fortune, they passed away from the scene, not of their fear, but of their glory.
Such was the end of these men; they were worthy of Athens, and the living need not desire to have a more heroic spirit, although they may pray for a less fatal issue. The value of such a spirit is not to be expressed in words. Any one can discourse to you for ever about the advantages of a brave defence which you know already. But instead of listening to him, I would have you, day by day, fix your eyes upon the greatness of Athens, until you become filled with the love of her ; and when you are impressed by the spectacle of her glory, reflect that this empire has been acquired by men who knew their duty or had the courage to do it, who in the hour of conflict had the fear of dishonour always present to them, and who, if ever they failed in an enterprise, would not allow their virtues to be lost to their country, but freely gave their lives to her as the fairest offering which they could present at her feast. The sacrifice which they collectively made was individually repaid to them; for they received again, each one for himself, a praise which grows not old, and the noblest of all sepulchres,- I speak not of that in which their remains are laid, but of that in which their glory survives, and is proclaimed always and on every fitting occasion both in word and deed. For the whole earth is the sepulchre of famous men; not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions in their country, but in foreign lands there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone, but in the hearts of men. Make them your examples, and, esteeming courage to be freedom and freedom to be happiness, do not weigh too nicely the perils of war. The unfortunate who has no hope of a change for the better has less reason to throw away his life than the prosperous who, if he survive, is always liable to a change for the worse, and to whom any accidental fall makes the most serious difference. To a man of spirit, cowardice and disaster coming together are far more bitter than death, striking him unperceived at a time when he is full of courage and animated by the general hope.
Wherefore I do not now commiserate the parents of the dead who stand here ; I would rather comfort them. You know that your life has been passed among manifold vicissitudes ; and that they may be deemed fortunate who have gained most honour, whether an honourable death like theirs, or an honourable sorrow like yours, and whose days have been so ordered that the term of their happiness is likewise the term of their life. I know how hard it is to make you feel this, when the good fortune of others will too often remind you of the gladness which once lightened your hearts. And sorrow is felt at the want of those blessings, not which a man never knew, but which were a part of his life before they were taken from him. Some of you are of an age at which they may hope to have other children, and they ought to bear their sorrow better; not only will the children who may hereafter be born make them forget their own lost ones, but the city will be doubly the gainer. She will not be left desolate, and she will be safer. For a man's counsel cannot have equal weight or worth when he alone has no children to risk in the general danger. To those of you who have passed their prime I say : 'Congratulate yourselves that you have been happy during the greater part of your days ; remember that your life of sorrow will not last long, and be comforted by the glory of those who are gone. For the love of honour alone is ever young; and not riches, as some say, but honour is the delight of men when they are old and useless.
To you who are the sons and brothers of the departed I see that the struggle to emulate them will be an arduous one. For all men praise the dead, and, however pre-eminent your virtues may be, hardly will you be thought, I do not say to
ual, but even to pproach them. The living have their rivals and detractors, but when a man is out of the way, the honour and goodwill which he receives is unalloyed. And, if I am to speak of womanly virtues to those of you who will henceforth be widows, let me sum them up in one short admonition : To a woman not to show more weakness than is natural to her sex is a great glory, and not to be talked about for good or for evil among men.
I have paid the required tribute, in obedience to the law, making use of such fitting words as I had. The tribute of deeds has been paid in part; for the dead have been honourably interred, and it remains only that their children should be maintained at the public charge until they are grown up: this is the solid prize with which, as with a garland, Athens crowns her sons, living and dead, after a struggle like theirs. · For where the rewards of virtue are greatest, there the noblest citizens are enlisted in the service of the State. And
you have duly lamented, every one his own dead, you may depart.
THUCYDIDES, Translated by B. JOWETT.
MOHAMMEDANISM: ITS BIRTHPLACE AND
The seventh century of Christianity was destined to behold a new religious revolution, only inferior in the extent of its religious and social influence to Christianity itself. Christianity might seem, notwithstanding her internal dissensions, while slowly subduing the whole of Europe, to be still making gradual encroachments in Asia, and at least to apprehend no formidable invasion within her own frontier. The conflict which had raged on the eastern boundaries of the Roman world, in which at one time the Persians had become masters of Syria and plundered the religious treasures of Jerusalem, was a war of the two empires of Rome and Persia, not of Christianity and Fire-worship. Though Persian conquest, had it spread over Asia Minor and Syria and into Europe, might have brought on a dangerous collision with the religion of the conquerors, yet the issue could not eventually have been fatal even to the dominance of Christianity. Zoroastrianism had failed to propagate itself with any great success in the parts of Christian Armenia which it had subjugated ; nor can we imagine that religion, even when advancing under the victorious banners of its believers, as likely to obtain any firm hold on the inhabitants of Western Asia or Europe, still less as tending to extirpate the deep-rooted Christianity of those regions.
In the meantime, in an obscure district of a country esteemed by the civilised world as beyond its boundaries, -a savage, desert, and almost inaccessible region,-suddenly arose an antagonist religion, which was to reduce the followers of Zoroaster to a few scattered communities, to invade India, and tread under foot the ancient Brahminism, as well as the more widespread Buddhism, even beyond the Ganges ; to wrest her most ancient and venerable provinces from Christianity ; to subjugate by degrees the whole of her eastern dominions, and Roman Africa from Egypt to the Straits of Gibraltar ; to assail Europe at its western extremity; to possess the greater part of Spain, and even to advance to the banks of the Loire ; more than once to make the elder Rome tremble for her security, and finally to establish itself in triumph within the new Rome of Constantine.
Arabia, the parent of this new religion, had been a world within itself; the habits and character of the people might seem both to secure them from the invasion of foreign conquerors, and to prohibit them from more than a desultory invasion of other countries. Divided into almost countless petty kingdoms, an aggregate of small, independent, and immemorially hostile tribes, they had no bond of union to blend them into a powerful confederacy. The great empires of the East, of Greece, and of Rome, had aspired to universal sovereignty, while these wandering tribes of the desert, and even the more settled and flourishing kingdoms of Southern Arabia, had pursued, unknown and undisturbed, their intestine warfare. A nominal and precarious sovereignty had been exercised by some of the Asiatic conquerors over the frontier tribes ; but the poverty and irreclaimable wandering habits of most of these, with the impracticable nature of the country, had protected from the ambition of the conquerors the southern regions, of which the wealth and fertility had been greatly exaggerated, and which were supposed to produce all those rich commodities, in fact, transmitted to them from India. Arabia formed no part of the great Eastern monarchies. Alexander passed on from Egypt and Syria to the remoter East. His successors in Egypt and in Syria were in general content with commercial relations carried on with Arabia, or through Arabia. The Romans, who might seem to scrutinize the world, that nothing might escape their ambition, had once or twice turned their arms towards the fabled wealth of Arabia. The unsuccessful, if not ignominious, result of the expedition of Ælius Gallus had taught how little was to be gained, how much hazarded in such a warfare.
If Arabia offered no great temptation to the foreign invader from the civilised world, the civilised world had as little dread of any dangerous irruption from those wild and disunited tribes. While the prolific North and East were periodically discharging their teeming hordes upon Asia and Europe, Arabia might seem either not gifted with this overflow of population, or to consume it within her own limits. The continual internal wars; polygamy, which became more unfavourable to the increase of the population from the general usage of destroying female infants ; the frugal, nomadic, and even the imaginative character of the race, which seemed to attach them to their own soil, and to suppress all desire of conquest in softer, less open, more settled regions, conspired to maintain the immutable character of Arabia and of the Arab people ; their national and tribal pride, their ancient traditions, their virtues, their polity, and