Imagens das páginas

indulge in. lavish expenditure, or to win for Athens the titles of "the eye of Greece" and "the violet Queen."

The period that elapsed between the first and second invasion by the Persians was fraught with too much anxiety to admit of beautifying the city: all that could be done was to supply at least one tenable outwork, and that some miles distant from Athens itself. It was the wisdom of Themistocles to discern that the very existence of his country, if it were not to become a Persian satrapy, depended on ships and not on walls. To insure the security and efficiency of the fleet, a fortified harbour was indispensable. The mud-built or wooden cottages, the narrow and crooked streets of the capital, must be abandoned to the Mede; and such treasure as was then available be employed on the port and docks of Peiraeus.

The victories that finally expelled the Persian from Hellenic ground were consummated in B.o. 466 by the battles at the Eurymedon, "when Cimon triumphed both by land and sea." Athens, after the retreat of Mardonius, was little better than a ruinous heap. The fire-worshippers had done their worst on her temples; had levelled her streets, torn down her feeble walls, and trampled under foot with their horsemen and archers the gardens and olive-yards that environed her. The first care of the Athenians was to restore the city, after a desolation more complete than even that with which Brennus visited Eome; for the banner of the Gauls never waved over the Capitol, whereas the wrath of Xerxes was poured especially on the Athenian Acropolis. Nor was it enough to rebuild the walls: it was necessary to protect the oity in future from. enemies near at hand; from the never-friendly Thebans; from the Dorians of Peloponnesus, whose fears and jealousy had been awakened by the prowess, so unlooked for by them, of their Ionian ally. The long walls had to be constructed—the harbours of Munychium and Phalerus connected with Peiraeus, and riveted by strong links to Athens itself. Before such works could be finished, there can have been neither means, motives, nor leisure for embellishing the capital of Attica. Earlier than 472 B.c, in which year the common treasury of the Allies was transferred from Delos to Athens, Polycletus, Phidias, Zeuxis, and their compeers can hardly have been employed on their immortal labours. The new Athens accordingly grew up under his eyes, and that at a period of life when curiosity is most alert, and memory most tenacious. It was his privilege to watch the growth of temple and hall, colonnade and theatre, gymnasium and court of law, which the people, now a sovereign one, demanded, and their leaders willingly supplied. The poet, most susceptible, as his plays often show him to have been, of the arts allied to his own, beheld in all the freshness of their youth the Painted Porch, adorned by Micon, Polygnetus, and Pantanus, with cartoons of Athenian triumphs and heroes—the ivory and gold statue of Pallas Athene, the tutelary goddess—the Virgin's House, the Parthenon —the Portico, a work of Mnesides—the Propylaea, leading up to "the roof and crown " of Athens—the Acropolis—and other sacred and secular monuments for which the spoils of the Persian or the tribute of the Allies furnished means. Nor were these unrivalled works, some of which he may have seen on the easel of Zeuxis or in the studio of Phidias, the only features of the time likely to nurture his imagination, or give it the bias towards an expanding future so apparent in his writings. For him the narrow and often gloomy region of legends, national or Achaean, faded before the bright and picturesque glories of the hour. In his time the boundaries of the Grecian world were enlarged. Strangers, attracted to the new centre of Hellas * by business or pleasure, now flocked to Athens from ^Egean islands, from the, coasts and cities of Western Asia and the Euxine, from the Greek colonies of Sicily, Cyrene, and southern Italy, from Massilia on the Celtic border, from Tartessus near the bourne of the habitable world, from the semi-barbarous Cyprus, and from the cradles of civilisation, Egypt and Phoenicia. For now was there room in Athens for all cunning workers in marble or metal, for those who dealt in Tyrian purple or unguents of Smyrna, or brought bars of silver and golden ingots from Iberian mines; room also for armourers and dockyard men in Athenian ports, where—


Through wintry months tenacious pitch to smear

* "Hellas," although a word unknown in the time of Euripides, and indeed of much later date, is used, here and elsewhere, in these pages, as a convenient and comprehensive term for Greece and its numerous offsets from the Euxine Sea to the Gulf of Marseilles.

Their unsound vessels; when the inclement time
Seafaring men restrains, and in that while
His bark one builds anew, another stops
The ribs of his that hath made many a voyage.
One hammers at the prow, one at the poop;
This shapeth oars, that other cables twirls,
The mizzen one repairs and mainsail rent." *

Artists, too, who wrought neither with brush nor chisel, were drawn. to Athens by the magnet of public or private demand—poets eager to celebrate her glories, and contend for lyric or dramatic prizes; philosophers no less eager to broach new theories in morals, or to teach new devices in rhetoric and logic. It was a new world in comparison with the severe and simple Marathonian time in which ^Eschylus was trained; and, like most new worlds, it was worse in some things, better in others—removed further from gods and godlike heroes, approaching nearer to man, his sorrows and joys; less awful and august, more humane and civilised. And the change is visible in the worst no less than in the best plays of Euripides, and one to be borne in mind by all who would judge of them fairly.

Pass over a few years of the poet's life, and we come to a period when this scene of political, artistic, and social activity is at first clouded over, and in the end rent and dislimned. Among other effects of the Peloponnesian war, one was, that a stop was put to public buildings and the costly arts by which they are adorned: while those that, like the Erectheium, were unfinished

* Dante, 'Divine Comedy,' Cant, xxi., Cary's translation. The poet is speaking of Venice, but his verses are applicable to the earlier Queen of the Seas.

at the outbreak of that war, were left incomplete. But the drama did not suffer with other branches of art. Sophocles, Euripides, and a numerous band of competitors, yearly strove for the crown, and the decorations of the stage were even costlier than ever. The suspension of public works, however, was a trifle in comparison with the corruption of morals at Athens—an effect of the war, and of the great plague especially, which there is the authority of Thucydides for stating. But our business now is not with the Athenian people so much as with the stage in the time of Euripides, particularly with a view to the character of the audience.

Attica was a land favorable to varieties of labour and cultivation. At the present moment its light and dry soil produces little corn; but want of capital and industry, not the soil, is to blame. Cereals, indeed, were never its principal produce, though small and well-tilled farms, such as are seen in Belgium and Lombardy, abounded. Bather was it a land of olives and figs, of vines and honey. Sheep and goats, particularly the latter, were kept in large flocks on the mountain slopes: even such delicacies as hams of bear and wild boar were not inaccessible to the hunter on Mount Parnes. The seas swarmed with fish, and inexhaustible were the marble quarries of Mount Pentelicus, while the silver mines of Laurium supplied the public treasury with the purest coinage in Greece. These various products of the soil furnished its occupiers with as varied occupations; and again we have the testimony of Thucydides, that Athenians in general were fond of country pursuits, and before the

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