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GROTE’S HISTORY OF GREECE [I] 1846 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XI - Essays on Philosophy and the Classics 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XI - Essays on Philosophy and the Classics, ed. John M. Robson, Introduction by F.E. Sparshott (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978).
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GROTE’S HISTORY OF GREECE [I]
Dissertations and Discussions, II (1867), 283-334, where under the title, “Early Grecian History and Legend,” appears “(A Review of the first Two Volumes of ‘Grote’s History of Greece.’*)” with the footnote reading “Edinburgh Review, October 1846.” Reprinted from ER, LXXXIV (Oct., 1846), 343-77, unsigned, where it is headed “Art. III.—A History of Greece.—I. Legendary Greece.—II. Grecian History to the Reign of Peisistratus of Athens. By George Grote, Esq. Two vols. 8vo. London: [Murray,] 1846”; running heads “Grote’s History of Greece.” Identified in JSM’s bibliography as “A review of the first two volumes of Grote’s History of Greece in the Edinburgh Review for October 1846.” (MacMinn, 60.) There are no corrections or alterations in the copy of the Edinburgh article in the Somerville College Library.
In the footnoted variants, “59” indicates D&D, II (1st ed.); “67” indicates D&D, II (2nd ed., the copy-text); “46” indicates Edinburgh Review. For comment on the composition of the essay and related matters, see the Introduction and the Textual Introduction, xxviii-xxxiii and lxxxv-lxxxvi above.
Grote’s History of Greece [I]
the interest of Grecian history is unexhausted and inexhaustible. As a mere story, hardly any other portion of authentic history can compete with it. Its characters, its situations, the very march of its incidents, are epic. It is an heroic poem, of which the personages are peoples. It is also, of all histories of which we know so much, the most abounding in consequences to us who now live. The true ancestors of the European nations (it has been well said) are not those from whose blood they are sprung, but those from whom they derive the richest portion of their inheritance. The battle of Marathon, even as an event in English history, is more important than the battle of Hastings. If the issue of that day had been different, the Britons and the Saxons might still have been wandering in the woods.
The Greeks are also the most remarkable people who have yet existed. Not, indeed, if by this be meant those who have approached nearest (if such an expression may be used where all are at so immeasurable a distance) to the perfection of social arrangements, or of human character. Their institutions, their way of life, even that which is their greatest distinction, the cast of their sentiments and development of their faculties, were radically inferior to the best (we wish it could be said to the collective) products of modern civilization. It is not the results achieved, but the powers and efforts required to make the achievement, that measure their greatness as a people. They were the beginners of nearly everything, Christianity excepted, of which the modern world makes its boast. If in several things they were but few removes from barbarism, they alone among nations, so far as is known to us, emerged from barbarism by their own efforts, not following in the track of any more advanced people. If with them, as in all antiquity, slavery existed as an institution, they were not the less the originators of political freedom, and the grand exemplars and sources of it to modern Europe. If their discords, jealousies, and wars between city and city, caused the ruin of their national independence, yet the arts of war and government evolved in those intestine contests made them the first who united great empires under civilized rule—the first who broke down those barriers of petty nationality, which had been so fatal to themselves—and by making Greek ideas and language common to large regions of the earth, commenced that general fusion of races and nations, which, followed up by the Romans, prepared the way for the cosmopolitism of modern times.
They were the first people who had an historical literature; as perfect of its kind (though not the highest kind) as their oratory, their poetry, their sculpture, and their architecture. They were the founders of mathematics; of physics; of the inductive study of politics, so early exemplified in Aristotle; of the philosophy of human nature and life. In each they made the indispensable first steps, which are the foundation of all the rest—steps such as could only have been made by minds intrinsically capable of everything which has since been accomplished. With a religious creed eminently unfavourable to speculation, because affording a ready supernatural solution of all natural phenomena, they yet originated freedom of thought. They, the first, questioned nature and the universe by their rational faculties, and brought forth answers not suggested by any established system of priestcraft; and their free and bold spirit of speculation it was, which, surviving in its results, broke the yoke of another enthralling system of popular religion, sixteen hundred years after they had ceased to exist as a people. These things were effected in two centuries of national existence: twenty and upwards have since elapsed, and it is sad to think how little comparatively has been accomplished.
To give a faithful and living portraiture of such a people; to show what they were and did, and as much as possible of the means by which they did it—by what causes so meteor-like a manifestation of human nature was produced or aided, and by what faults or necessities it was arrested; to deduce from the qualities which the Greeks displayed collectively or individually, and from the modes in which those qualities were unconsciously generated or intentionally cultivated, the appropriate lessons for the guidance of our own world—is an enterprise never yet attempted systematically, nor attempted successfully at all. Such is the declared object of the work of which the first two volumes lie before us. “First, to embody in his own mind, and next to lay out before his readers, the general picture of the Grecian world,” is Mr. Grote’s description of his task.
The historian, [he says,] will especially study to exhibit the spontaneous movement of Grecian intellect, sometimes aided but never borrowed from without, and lighting up a small portion of a world otherwise clouded and stationary; and to set forth the action of that social system, which, while ensuring to the mass of freemen a degree of protection elsewhere unknown, acted as a stimulus to the creative impulses of genius, and left the superior minds sufficiently unshackled to soar above religious and political routine, to overshoot their own age, and to become the teachers of posterity.*
In this undertaking there is work for a succession of thinkers; nor will it be brought to completeness by any one historian or philosopher. But the qualifications of Mr. Grote, and the contents of these two volumes, give assurance that he will be remembered not only as the first who has seriously undertaken the work, but as one who will have made great steps towards accomplishing it. In ascribing to him the first attempt at a philosophical history of Greece, we mean no disparagement to the very valuable labours of his predecessor and friend, Bishop Thirlwall.[*] That distinguished scholar has done much for the facts of Grecian history. Before him, no one had applied to those facts, considered as a whole, the most ordinary canons of historical credibility. The only modern historian of Greece who attempted or even affected criticism on evidence, Mr. Mitford, made almost no other use of it than to find reasons for rejecting all statements discreditable to any despot or usurper.[†] Dr. Thirlwall has effectually destroyed Mitford as an historical authority; by substituting (though so unostentatiously as to give no sufficient idea of the service rendered) a candid and impartial narrative, for the most prejudiced misrepresentation by which party passion has been known to pervert the history of a distant time and a foreign people. But Dr. Thirlwall’s, though highly and justly esteemed as a critical, does not attempt to be a philosophical history; nor was such an attempt to be expected from its original purpose. And though, in its progress, it has far outgrown in bulk, and still more in amplitude of scope and permanent value, its primitive design,a the plan has not been fundamentally altered; and the most important part of Mr. Grote’s undertaking has not been, in any respect, forestalled by it.
The portion which Mr. Grote has completed, and which is now published, appears at some disadvantage, from its not including even the beginning of the part of Grecian history which is of chief interest either to the common or to the philosophical reader. Mr. Grote, in his preface, laments that the religious and poetical attributes of the Greek mind appear thus far in disproportionate relief, as compared with its powers of acting, organizing, judging, and speculating.b He might have added, that the religion and the poetry are only those of the most primitive period, the time before which nothing is known. A volume and a half are devoted to the legendary age; and the remaining half volume does not carry us much beyond the first dawn of real history.
The Legends of Greece Mr. Grote relates at greater length than has been thought necessary by any of his predecessors. This is incident to the design, which no one before him had seriously entertained, of making the history of Greece a picture of the Greek mind. There is no more important element in the mind of Greece than the legends. They constituted the belief of the Greeks of the historical period, concerning their own past. They formed also the Grecian religion; and the religion of an early people is the groundwork of its primitive system of thought on all subjects. Mr. Grote makes no distinction between the legends of the Gods and those of the Heroes. He relates the one and the other literally, as they were told by the poets, and believed by the general public, down to the time of the Roman empire. He makes no attempt to discriminate historical matter in the stories of heroes, no more than in those of the gods. Not doubting that some of them do contain such matter—that many of the tales of the heroic times are partially grounded on incidents which really happened—he thinks it useless to attempt to conjecture what these were. The siege of Troy is to him no more an historical fact than the births and amours of the gods, as recorded in Hesiod. The only thing which he deems historical in either is, that the Greeks believed them, and the poets sung them. Whether they were believed from the first, as they were afterwards, on the authority of poets, or the poets grounded their narratives on stories already current, we have no means of ascertaining; in some cases the one thing may have happened, in some the other; in Mr. Grote’s view it is immaterial, since neither the poems nor the so-called traditions bear, in his eyes, the smallest character of historical evidence.
This is essentially the doctrine of Niebuhr; and, in the hands of that eminent investigator of antiquity, it has, by English scholars, generally been accepted as subversive of the previously received view of Roman history. But no one, not even the translator of Niebuhr, Dr. Thirlwall,[*] had applied this doctrine in the same unsparing manner to the Greek legends. Unqualified rejection has been confined to the stories of the gods. Between them and those of the heroes, a Greek would have been unable to see any difference. To his mind, both rested on the same identical testimony; both were alike part of his religious creed; supernatural agency, and supernatural motives and springs of action, are the pervading soul as much of the heroic as of the divine legends; the gods themselves appear in them quite as prominently, and even the heroes are real, though inferior, divinities. By moderns, however, the supernatural machinery (as it is called by critics profoundly ignorant of the spirit of antiquity) has been treated as a sort of scaffolding which could be taken down, instead of the main framework and support of the structure. The history of the Trojan war has been written on the authority of the Iliad, suppressing only the intervention of the gods, and whatever seemed romantic or improbable in the human motives and characters. As much credit is thus accorded to the poet, in all but the minute details of his narrative, as is given to the most veracious witness in a court of justice; since even with him we do no more than believe his statements where they are neither incredible in themselves, nor contradicted by more powerful testimony. With this mode of dealing with legendary narratives, Mr. Grote is altogether at war. His discussion of the credibility of what are called traditions is eminently original, evolving into distinctness principles and canons of evidence and belief, which, by Niebuhr, are rather implicitly assumed than directly stated.
The following passages will give a clear idea of Mr. Grote’s main position:
In applying the semi-historical theory to Grecian mythical narrative, it has been often forgotten that a certain strength of testimony, or positive ground of belief, must first be tendered before we can be called upon to discuss the antecedent probability or improbability of the incidents alleged. The belief of the Greeks themselves, without the smallest aid from special orccotemporaryc witnesses, has been tacitly assumed as sufficient to support the case, provided only sufficient deduction be made from the mythical narratives to remove all antecedent improbabilities. It has been assumed that the faith of the people must have rested originally upon some particular historical event, involving the identical persons, things, and places, which the original mythes exhibit, or at least the most prominent among them. But when we examine the psychagogic influences predominant in the society among whom this belief originally grew up, we shall see that their belief is of little or no evidentiary value, and that the growth and diffusion of it may be satisfactorily explained without supposing any special basis of matters of fact.
The general disposition to adopt the semi-historical theory as to the genesis of Grecian mythes, arises in part from reluctance in critics to impute to the mythopœic ages extreme credulity or fraud, and from the presumption that where much is believed, some portion of it must be true. There would be some weight in these grounds of reasoning, if the ages under discussion had been supplied with records, and accustomed to critical inquiry. But amongst a people unprovided with the former and strangers to the latter, credulity is necessarily at its maximum, as well in the narrator himself as in his hearers: the idea of deliberate fraud is moreover inapplicable, for if the hearers are disposed to accept what is related to them as a revelation from the muse, the œstrus of composition is quite sufficient to impart a similar persuasion to the poet whose mind is penetrated with it. The belief of that day can hardly be said to stand apart by itself as an act of reason: it becomes confounded with vivacious imagination and earnest emotion; and in every case where these mental excitabilities are powerfully acted upon, faith comes unconsciously and as a matter of course.
It is, besides, a presumption far too largely and indiscriminately applied, even in our own advanced age, that where much is believed, something must necessarily be true—that accredited fiction is always traceable to some basis of historical truth. The influence of imagination and feeling is not confined simply to the process of retouching, transforming, or magnifying narratives originally founded on fact; it will often create new narratives of its own, without any such preliminary basis. Where there is any general body of sentiment pervading men living in society, whether it be religious or political—love, admiration, or antipathy—all incidents tending to illustrate that sentiment are eagerly believed, rapidly circulated, and (as a general rule) easily accredited. If real incidents are not at hand, impressive fictions will be provided to satisfy the demand: the perfect harmony of such fictions with the prevalent feeling stands in the place of certifying testimony, and causes men to hear them, not merely with credence, but even with delight: to call them in question and require proof, is a task which cannot be undertaken without incurring obloquy. Of such tendencies in the human mind, abundant evidence is furnished by the innumerable religious legends which have acquired currency in various parts of the world—legends which derived their origin, not from special facts misreported and exaggerated, but from pious feelings pervading the society, and translated into narrative by forward and imaginative minds—legends in which not merely the incidents, but often even the personages are unreal, yet in which the generating sentiment is conspicuously discernible, providing its own matter as well as its own form. Other sentiments also, as well as the religious, provided they be fervent and widely diffused, will find expression in current narrative, and become portions of the general public belief: every celebrated and notorious character is the source of a thousand fictions exemplifying his peculiarities. And if it be true, as I think present observation may show us, that such creative agencies are even now visible and effective, when the materials of genuine history are copious and critically studied—much more are we warranted in concluding, that in ages destitute of records, strangers to historical testimony, and full of belief in divine inspiration, both as to the future and as to the past, narratives purely fictitious will acquire ready and uninquiring credence, provided only they be plausible, and in harmony with the preconceptions of the auditors.
(Vol. I, pp. 572-3, 576-9.)
The two points here insisted upon are, the large space which sheer and absolute fiction still occupies in human beliefs—a place naturally larger as we recede further into a remote and uncritical antiquity; and the tendency of any strong and widely diffused feeling to embody itself in fictitious narratives, which pass from mouth to mouth, and grow into traditions.
These points have been illustrated in a more quotable, because a more condensed form, in a fugitive publication, of which Mr. Grote here acknowledges the authorship.[*] From this we borrow an illustration, too apt to be dispensed with,—a modern mythe, caught in the act of formation. Among the “numerous fictions” which, in the words of Mr. Moore’s “Life of Byron,” have been “palmed upon the world” as his “romantic tours and wonderful adventures in places he never saw, and with persons that never existed,”[†] one is thus recounted, in a review of the poem of Manfred, by no less a person than Goethe.
He [Byron] has often enough confessed what it is that torments him. There are, properly speaking, two females whose phantoms for ever haunt him, and in this piece also perform principal parts—one under the name of Astarte; the other without form or presence, and merely a voice. Of the horrid occurrence which took place with the former, the following is related:—When a bold and enterprising young man, he won the affections of a Florentine lady. Her husband discovered the amour, and murdered his wife; but the murderer was the same night found dead in the street, and there was no one to whom suspicion could be attached. Lord Byron removed from Florence, and these spirits haunted him all his life after. This romantic incident is rendered highly probable by innumerable allusions to it in his poems.[‡]
On this Mr. Grote comments as follows:
The story which Goethe relates of the intrigue and double murder at Florence is not a misreported fact: it is a pure and absolute fiction. It is not a story of which one part is true and another part false, nor in which you can hope, by removing ever so much of superficial exaggeration, to reach at last a subsoil of reality. All is alike untrue, the basis as well as the details. In the mind of the original inventor, the legend derived its birth, not from any erroneous description which had reached his ears respecting adventures of the real Lord Byron, but from the profound and vehement impression which Lord Byron’s poetry had made, both upon him and upon all others around him. The poet appeared to be breathing out his own soul and sufferings in the character of his heroes—we ought rather to say, of his hero, πολλω̑ν ὀνομάτων μορϕὴ μία[*] —he seemed like one struck down as well as inspired, by some strange visitation of destiny. In what manner, and from what cause, had the Eumenides been induced thus to single him out as their victim? A large circle of deeply-moved readers, and amongst them the greatest of all German authors, cannot rest until this problem be solved: either a fact must be discovered, or a fiction invented for the solution. The minds of all being perplexed by the same mystery, and athirst for the same explanation, nothing is wanted except a prima vox. Some one, more forward and more felicitous than the rest, imagines and proclaims the tragical narrative of the Florentine married couple. So happily does the story fit in, that the inventor seems only to have given clear utterance to that which others were dimly shadowing out in their minds: the lacerated feelings of the poet are no longer an enigma—the die which has stamped upon his verses their peculiar impress, has been discovered and exhibited to view. If, indeed, we ask what is the authority for the tale—to speak in the Homeric language, it has been suggested by some god, or by the airy-tongued Ossa, the bearer of encouragement and intelligence from omniloquent Zeus—to express the same idea in homely and infantine English, it has been whispered by a little bird. But we may be pretty well assured, that few of the audience will raise questions about authority—the story drops into its place like the keystone of an arch, and exactly fills the painful vacancy in their minds—it seems to carry with it the same sort of evidence as the key which imparts meaning to a manuscript in cipher, and they are too well pleased with the acquisition to be very nice as to the title. Nay, we may go further and say, that the man who demonstrates its falsehood will be the most unwelcome of all instructors; so that we trust, for the comfort of Goethe’s last years, that he was spared the pain of seeing his interesting mythus about Lord Byron contemptuously blotted out by Mr. Moore.[†]
Suppose that there had never been any authentic biography of Byron, and that his own works and the various testimonies about his personality having all perished, his name were carried down to a remote age exclusively by this writing of Goethe. The case would then be parallel with that of the heroic age of Greece; and the following passage describes what would probably have happened.
In former days, the Florentine intrigue, and the other stories noticed by Mr. Moore, would have obtained undisputed currency as authentic materials for the life of Lord Byron; then would have succeeded rationalizing historians, who, treating the stories as true at the bottom, would have proceeded to discriminate the basis of truth from the accessories of fiction. One man would have disbelieved the supposed murder of the wife, another that of the husband; a third would have said that, the intrigue having been discovered, the husband and wife had both retired into convents, the one under feelings of deep distress, the other in bitter repentance, and that the fleshly lusts being thus killed, it was hence erroneously stated that the husband and wife had themselves been killed. If the reader be not familiar with the Greek scholiasts, we are compelled to assure him that the last explanation would have found much favour in their eyes, inasmuch as it saves the necessity of giving the direct lie to any one, or of saying that any portion of the narrative is absolutely unfounded. The misfortune is, that though the story would thus be divested of all its salient features, and softened down into something very sober and colourless, perhaps even edifying, yet it would not be one whit nearer the actual matter of fact. Something very like what we have been describing, however, would infallibly have taken place, had we not been protected by a well-informed biographer, and by the copious memoranda of a positive age.[*]
The feelings to which the early Grecian legends addressed themselves, and to which they owed not their currency only, but most of them probably their very existence, were sentiments most strong and pervading; the religious feelings of the people, and their ancestorial feelings. The two, indeed, may be reduced to one, for the ancestorial were also in the most literal sense religious feelings. The legendary ancestors of each family, tribe, or race, were the immediate descendants of deities—were immortal beings, with supernatural powers to destroy or save, and worshipped with the rites and honours paid to gods. The difference between them and the gods was chiefly this, that they had once been men, and had performed exploits on earth which were the pride and glory of other men still living, who honoured them as patrons and guardian divinities—a distinction in no way tending to abate the thirst for wonderful tales respecting the heroes.
If a story harmonized with the prevailing sentiment, to doubt its truth would never occur to any one, not even to the inventors themselves; since, in a rude age, the suggestions of vivid imagination and strong feeling are always deemed the promptings of a god. The inspiration of the muse was not then a figure of speech, but the sincere and artless belief of the people; the bard and the prophet were analogous characters; Demodocus, at the court of King Alcinous, could sing the Trojan war by revelation from Apollo or from a Muse;* and Hesiod, in the Theogony, could declare respecting himself that he knew, by the favour of the Muses, the past, the present, and the future.[†] Herodotus expressly says that Hesiod and Homer “were the authors of the Greek Theogony, gave titles to the gods, distinguished their attributes and functions, and described their forms;” that until taught by them, the Greeks were ignorant “whence each of the gods sprang, and whether all of them were always existing, and what were their shapes.”* Plato invariably assumes the same thing. The poems were a kind of sacred books, like the Ramayun and the Mahabharat.
It may perhaps be said, that the eager interest here supposed in the exploits of ancestors, implies the ancestors to be at least real persons, surviving in the memory of those to whom the tales were told; and that therefore most of the heroes of legend must have really existed, however much of the marvellous in their adventures may be due to the imagination of their descendants. This doctrine would not be without plausibility, were it not the known practice of the early Greeks to create not only imaginary adventures of ancestors, but imaginary ancestors. It was the universal theory of Greece that every name, common to an aggregation of persons, indicated a common progenitor. Whether it was the name of a race, as Dorians, Ionians, Achæans; of a people, as Thessalians, Dolopians, Arcadians, Ætolians; of any of the numerous political divisions of a people, or of those other divisions not made by laws, but held together by religious rites and a traditional tie, the γένη or gentes (representing probably the units by the aggregation of which the community had, at some early period, been formed); all these,das well as manyd names of towns and localities, were believed to be etymologically derived from a primeval founder and patriarch of the whole tribe. Even names of which the origin was obvious, did not escape the application of the theory. The names of the four tribes in the primitive Athenian constitution, Geleontes, Hopletes, Argades, and Aigikoreis, appellations so evidently derived from their occupations, were ascribed, according to custom, to four Eponymi, sons of Ion, the general ancestor of the race, whose names were Geleon, Hoples, Argades, and Aigikores. No one now makes any scruple of rejecting the whole class of Eponymi, or name-heroes, from the catalogue of historical personages. Among the Greeks, however, they were the most precious of any; they were as firmly believed in, and their existence and adventures as justly entitled to the name of tradition, as any Grecian legend whatever.
But grant that the personages of the heroic legends were real, as doubtless some warriors and rulers must have left behind them an enduring memory, to which legends would not fail to attach themselves;—could we distinguish among the names, those which belonged to actual persons, would it follow that the actions ascribed to them bore a resemblance to any real occurrences? We may judge from a parallel instance. In the earlier Middle Ages, the European mind had returned to something like the naïf unsuspecting faith of primitive times. It accordingly gave birth to a profusion of legends: those of saints, in the first place, almost a literature in themselves, of which, though very pertinent to our purpose, we say nothing here. But the same age produced the counterpart of the tales of Hercules and Theseus, of the wanderings of Ulysses and the Argonautic expedition, in the shape of romances of chivalry. Like the Homeric poems, the romances announced themselves as true narratives, and were, down to the fourteenth century, popularly believed as such. The majority relate to personages probably altogether fictitious; Amadis and Lancelot we are nowise called upon to believe in; and of King Arthur, as of King Agamemnon, we have no means of ascertaining if he ever really existed or not. But the uncertainty does not extend to all these romantic heroes. That age, unlike the Homeric, notwithstanding its barbarism, preserved written records; and we know consequently from other evidence than the romances themselves, that some of the names they contain are real. Charlemagne is not only an historical character, but one whose life is tolerably well known to us; and so genuine a hero, both in war and peace—his real actions so surprising and admirable—that fiction itself might have been content with ornamenting his true biography, instead of fitting him with another entirely fabulous. The age, however, required, to satisfy its ideal, a Charlemagne of a different complexion from the real monarch. The chronicle of Archbishop Turpin,[*] a compilation of poetic legends, supplied this want. Though containing hardly anything historical, except the name of Charlemagne and the fact of an expedition into Spain, it was declared genuine history by Pope Calixtus the Second; was received as such by Vincent de Beauvais, who, for his great erudition, was made preceptor to the sons of the wise King, Saint Louis of France; and from this, not from Eginhard or the monk of St. Gall, the poets who followed drew the materials of their narrative. Even, then, if Priam and Hector were real persons, the siege of Troy by the Greeks may be as fabulous as that of Paris by the Saracens, or Charlemagne’s conquest of Jerusalem. In the poem of Ariosto,[*] the principal hero and heroine are Ruggiero and Bradamante, the ancestors, real or imaginary, of the Dukes of Ferrara, at whose court he lived and wrote. Does any one, for this reason, believe a syllable of the adventures which he ascribes either to these or to his other characters? Another personage of legend, who is also a personage of history, is Virgil. If the author of the Æneid were only known to us by the traditions of the Middle Ages, in what character would he have been transmitted to us? In that of a mighty enchanter. Such is the worth of what is called tradition, even when the persons are real, and the age not destitute of records. What must it be in times anterior to the use of writing?
It is now almost forgotten, that England, too, had a mythic history, once received as genuine; and neither has this wanted the consecration of the highest poetical genius, in the instances at least of Lear and Cymbeline.
If we take the history of our own country, as it was conceived and written, from the twelfth to the seventeenth century, by Hardyng, Fabyan, Grafton, Hollinshed, and others, we shall find that it was supposed to begin with Brute the Trojan, and was carried down from thence, for many ages, and through a long succession of kings, to the times of Julius Cæsar. A similar belief of descent from Troy, arising seemingly from a reverential imitation of the Romans, and of their Trojan origin, was cherished in the fancy of other European nations. With regard to the English, the chief circulator of it was Geoffrey of Monmouth, and it passed with little resistance or dispute into the national faith. The kings, from Brute downwards, were enrolled in regular chronological series, with their respective dates annexed. In a dispute which took place during the reign of Edward I ( 1301), between England and Scotland, the descent of the Kings of England from Brute the Trojan was solemnly embodied in a document put forth to sustain the rights of the crown of England, as an argument bearing on the case then in discussion; and it passed without attack from the opposing party;* an incident which reminds us of the appeal made by Æschines, in the contention between the Athenians and Philip of Macedon respecting Amphipolis, to the primitive dotal rights of Akamas, son of Theseus;[†] and also of the defence urged by the Athenians, to sustain their conquest of Sigeium against the reclamations of the Mitylenæans, wherein the former alleged that they had as much right to the place as any of the other Greeks who had formed part of the victorious armament of Agamemnon.
The tenacity with which this early series of British kings was defended, is no less remarkable than the facility with which it was admitted. The chroniclers, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, warmly protested against the intrusive scepticism which would cashier so many venerable sovereigns, and deface so many noble deeds. They appealed to the patriotic feelings of their hearers, represented the enormity of their setting up a presumptuous criticism against the belief of ages, and insisted on the danger of the precedent, as regarded history generally. Yet, in spite of so large a body of authority and precedent, the historians of the nineteenth century begin the history of England with Julius Cæsar. They do not attempt either to settle the date of King Bladud’s accession, or to determine what may be the basis of truth in the affecting narrative of Lear.*
(Vol. I, pp. 639-40, 642.)
We will add, before taking our leave of this part of the subject, one argument more, which we conceive to be in itself almost decisive. Authentic history, as we ascend the stream of time, grows thinner and scantier, the incidents fewer, and the narratives less circumstantial;—shading off through every degree of twilight into the darkness of night. And such a gradual daybreak we find in Greek history, at and shortly before the first Olympiad ( 776), the point from which the historical Greeks commenced their computation of time. We cannot be far wrong in fixing this as the epoch at which written characters began to be regularly employed by public authority, for the recordation of periodical religious solemnities—always the first events systematically recorded, on account of the fearful religious consequences attaching to any mistake in the proper periodeofe their celebration.
But if, beyond the darkness which bounds this early morning of history, we come suddenly into the full glare of day—an island of light in the dark ocean of the unrecorded past, peopled with majestic forms, and glittering with splendid scenery—we may be well assured that the vision is as unreal as Plato’sfAtlantisf ,[*] and that the traditions and the poems which vouch for its past existence, are the offspring of fancy, not of memory. True history is not thus interrupted in its course; it does not, like the Arcadian rivers, sink into the ground, and, after a long disappearance, rise again at a remote point. Light first, and darkness afterwards, may be the order of invention, but it is seldom that of remembrance.
The elaborate chapter in which Mr. Grote traces the progress of opinion among instructed Greeks, respecting their own legends, is important, not only in reference to the question of credibility, but as a part of the history of the human mind. Originating in a rude age, by which they were naïvely and literally believed, the legends descended into a period of comparative knowledge and culture. With the tone of that later age, or at least of the instructed portion of it, they were no longer in harmony. Several things conspired to produce this divergence. As communications grew more frequent, and travelled men became acquainted with legends for which they had acquired no early reverence, the mutually contradictory character of the stories themselves tended to undermine their authority. The characters and actions ascribed to the gods and heroes, contained much that was repugnant to the altered moral feelings of a more civilized epoch: already Xenophanes, one of the earliest Grecian philosophical inquirers, composed poems to denounce, in the most vehement terms, the stories related of the gods by Hesiod and Homer, “the universal instructor,” as he terms him.[*] But, more than all, the commencement of physical science and intelligent observation of nature, introduced a conception of the universe, and a mode of interpreting its phenomena, in continual conflict with the simplicity of ancient faith: accustoming men to refer to physical causes and natural laws, what were conceived by their ancestors as voluntary interventions of supernatural beings, in wrath or favour to mortals.
This altered tone in the more cultivated part of the Grecian mind, did not, however, proceed to actual disbelief in the legendary religion of the people. Mankind do not pass abruptly from one connected system of thought to another: they first exhaust every contrivance for reconciling the two. To break entirely with the religion of their forefathers, would have been a disruption of old feelings, too painful and difficult for the average strength even of superior minds; and could not have been done openly, without incurring a certainty of the fate which, with all the precautions they adopted, overtook Anaxagoras and Socrates. But even of the philosophers, there were at first very few who carried the spirit of freethinking so far. In general, they were unable to emancipate themselves from the old religious traditions, but were just as little capable of believing them literally. “The result was a new impulse, partaking of both the discordant forces—one of those thousand unconscious compromises between the rational convictions of the mature man, and the indelible illusions of early faith, religious as well as patriotic, which human affairs are so often destined to exhibit.”[*] The legends, in their obvious sense, were no longer credible; but it was necessary to find for them a meaning in which they could be believed. And hence a series of efforts, continued with increasing energy from the first known prose historian, Hecatæus, to the Neoplatonic adversaries of Christianity in the school of Alexandria, to which the nearest parallel is the attempts of Paulus and the German rationalists to explain away the Hebrew Scriptures. Rejected in their obvious interpretation, the narratives were admitted in some other sense, which stripped them of the direct intervention of any deity. They were represented either as ordinary histories, coloured by poetic ornament, or allegories, in which moral instruction, physical knowledge, or esoteric religious doctrines, were designedly wrapt up. The succession of these rationalizing explanations is recounted at length, with great learning and philosophy, by Mr. Grote.
His opinion of the historical system of explanation has been seen in the preceding extracts. Without being more favourable, on the whole, to the allegorical theory, he yet makes a concession to it, with which, if we rightly understand his meaning, we are compelled to disagree. He says, “Though allegorical interpretation occasionally lands us in great absurdities, there are certain cases in which it presents intrinsic evidence of being genuine and correct—i.e. included in the original purport of the story;”* and he instances the tale of Ate and the Litæ, in the ninth book of the Iliad, which, he says, no one can doubt, carries with it an intentional moral. Now, it seems to us that this remark allows either too much to allegory, or not enough.
Every reader of the Iliad, even in translation, must be familiar with this fine passage; in which Ateg(by Mr. Grote translated “reckless impulse”)g[†] is represented as a gigantic figure, who stalks forth furiously, diffusing ruin; and Litæ, or Prayers, daughters of Zeus or Jupiter, as slowly limping after her to heal the wounds she has made. Now, if the poet did not believe the personal existence of Ate and the Litæ;—if he employed what he knew to be a mere figure of speech, as a means of giving greater impressiveness to a general remark respecting the course of human affairs,—the passage is then rightly termed allegorical. But if, as we conceive, such employment of the language of polytheism in a merely figurative sense, neither existed nor could exist until polytheism was virtually defunct; if the use of religious forms as a simple artifice of rhetoric, would have appeared to Homer (supposing the idea to have presented itself at all) an impious profanation; if the poet, in the full simplicity of his religious faith, accepted literally the personality and divinity of Ate and the Litæ, there is then no place for the word “allegory,” in its correct acceptation. That a moral meaning accompanied in his mind the religious doctrine, and even suggested it, we at once admit: but he personified and deified the moral agencies concerned; and the story, as Müller says of the legend of Prometheus and Epimetheus (Forethought and Afterthought), is not an allegory, but a mythe.[*] Otherwise, we must go much further, and affirm a substratum of allegory in the whole Greek religion; for the majority of its deities, including nearly all the more conspicuous of them, are undoubtedly personifications of either the physical or the moral powers of nature; and, this granted, the attributes ascribed to them would necessarily shadow forth those which observation pointed out in the phenomena over which they were supposed to preside.
The natural history of Polytheism is now well understood. Religion, though ex vi termini preternatural, is yet a theory for the explanation of nature; and generally runs parallel with the progress of human conceptions of that which it is intended to explain; each step made in the study of the phenomena determining a modification in the theory. The savage, drawing his idea of power from his own voluntary impulses, ascribes will and personality to every individual object in which he beholds a power beyond his control; and at once commences propitiating it by prayer and sacrifice. This original Fetishism, towards natural objects which combine great power with a well-marked individuality, was prolonged far into the period of Polytheism proper. The Gaia of Hesiod, mother of all the gods, was not a goddess of the earth, but the earth itself; and her physical are blended with her divine attributes in a singular medley. The sun and moon, not deities residing therein, were the objects of the ancient Grecian worship: their identification with Apollo and Artemishbelongsh to a much later age. The Hindoos worship as a goddess the river Nerbudda—not a deity of the river, but the river itself;* and, if they ascribe to it sex, and other attributes inconsistent with the physical characteristics of the natural object, it is from inability to conceive the idea of personality, except in conjunction with the ordinary human impulses and attributes. The Homeric Scamander is scarcely other than the animated river itself; and the god Alpheus, who pursues Arethusa through the ocean, is the actual river, flowing through the salt waves without mixing with them, and at length combining its waters in indissoluble union with those of the fountain it loves.
But where natural objects are not thus strikingly individualized—where the mind can at once recognise, in a multitude of things, one and the same power of affecting human interests—its tendency is not to deify the objects, but to place a deity over them, who,ihimselfi invisible, rules from a distance a whole class of phenomena. Bread and wine are great and beneficent powers, but the blindest fetish-worshipper never probably offered prayer or sacrifice to an individual loaf or wine-flask, but to an invisible Bacchus or Ceres, whose body, being unseen, is naturally assimilated to the human, and who is thenceforth handed over to the poets to exalt and dignify. Thus the first and most obvious step in the generalization of nature, by arranging objects in classes, is accompanied by a corresponding generalization of the gods. Fire, being a more mysterious as well as a more terrible agent, has, in some religions, been an object of direct worship; but in Homer we find the transition completely effected from the worship of fire to that of the fire-god,jHephæstosj . Thunder, the most awful of all, was universally received as the attribute of the most powerful of deities, the ruler of gods and men. As thought advanced, not only all physical agencies capable of ready generalization, as Night, Morning, Sleep, Death, together with the more obvious of the great emotional agencies, Beauty, Love, War, but by degrees also the ideal products of a higher abstraction, as Wisdom, Justice, and the like, were severally accounted the work and manifestation of as many special divinities.
It became, [as Müller expresses it,] a general habit to concentrate every form of spiritual existence, whose unity was recognised, into an apex, which necessarily appeared to the mind as a personal entity. Can it be imagined that Δίκη, θέμις, Μη̑τις, Μου̑σα, Χάρις, Ἥβη, Ἐριννύς, Ἔρις, could have attained a generally believed reality, and even in some measure divine worship, otherwise than through a necessity, grounded on the epoch of mental development, to contemplate in this manner as a unity, not only every aspect of nature, but also of human life? How were it possible to pray to Charis, if she were only viewed as a predicate of human or higher natures? It is even wrong to consider the worship paid by the Romans to Virtus, Felicitas, &c. as allegorical in the strict sense; for then it could be no worship at all.*
Assuredly, these objects of worship were not conceived as ideas, but as persons, whose fundamental attributes, however, necessarily ran in close analogy to those of the ideas which they embodied. Such is the primitive type of polytheism—a thing of no human invention, but, in the strictest sense of the word, natural and of spontaneous growth. Afterwards, indeed, poets and priests did invent stories concerning the gods, more or less connected or consistent with their original attributes, which stories became incorporated with religion; and the most popular deities were those concerning whom the most impressive stories had been feigned. But the legends did not make the religion; the basis of that was a bonâ fide personification and divinization of the occult causes of phenomena. In these views we have no reason to think that we at all differ from Mr. Grote; but if there is any point in which his expositions do not quite satisfy us, it is, that they do not bring out strongly enough this part of the case; that the Greek religion appears in them too much as a sort of accident, the arbitrary creation of poets and storytellers; its origin in the natural human faculties and the spontaneous tendencies of the uncultivated intellect, being indicated indeed, but not placed in a sufficiently strong light.
With this exception, we can hardly bestow too much praise on this portion of Mr. Grote’s performance. He has overcome the difficulty, so great to a modern imagination, of entering intelligently into the polytheistic frame of mind and conception of nature. In no treatise which we could mention, certainly in no work connected with Grecian history, do we find so thorough a comprehension of that state of the human intellect in which the directly religious interpretation of nature is paramount—in which every explanation of phenomena, that refers them to the personal agency of a hidden supernatural power, appears natural and probable, and every other mode of accounting for them incredible—where miracles are alone plausible, and explanation by natural causes is not only offensive to the reverential feelings of the hearer, but actually repugnant to his reason, so contrary is it to the habitual mode of interpreting phenomena. A state of mind made perfectly intelligible by our knowledge of the Hindoos; and nowhere better exhibited than in the pictures given by near observers of that curious people, who reproduce in so many respects the mental characteristics of the infancy of the human race.*
Though many topics discussed in Mr. Grote’s volumes are more important, there is none more interesting, than the authorship of the Homeric poems; regarded by all antiquity as the production of one great poet (or at most two, for the Iliad and Odyssey), but which the scepticism of a recent period has pronounced to be compilations made as late as the time of Pisistratus, from a multitudinous assemblage of popular ballads. Now, however, that the Wolfian hypothesis seems nearly abandoned in the country in which it arose, the notion that such productions could have been manufactured by piecing and dovetailing a number of short poems originally distinct, may be ranked along with many other conceits of learned ingenuity, in the class of psychological curiosities. We are aware of no argument on the Wolfian side of the controversy which really deserves any weight, except the difficulty of conceiving that such long poems could have been composed and handed down to posterity by memory alone; for that they were produced prior to the use of writing, is certain, from many considerations,* and especially from the absence of the smallest allusion to such an art in the whole eight-and-forty books; though so full of notices and descriptions of almost every useful or ornamental process which can be supposed to have been in existence in that early age, that they have been said to be a summary of all the knowledge of the time. The preservation of such works without help from writing, is no doubt, at the first aspect of the matter, surprising; but only because in this, as in so many other things, we antedate our modern experience, and apply to early ages the limited standard of our own. It is well said by Plato in the Phædrus, that the invention of letters was the great enfeebler of memory.[*] In our time, when the habit is formed of recording all things in permanent characters, and when every one relies, not on memory, but on the substitutes for it, we can scarcely form an idea of what its intrinsic powers must have been, when exercised and cultivated as a thing to be solely depended upon. Between the remembering faculties of the Homerids of Chios, and those of our degenerate days, there was doubtless as great a difference, as between the powers of eye and ear of a North American Indian and those of a London citizen. Nor was it, after all, more difficult to retain a single poem of twenty-four books, than twenty-four poems of one book each, which is much less than must have formed the stock in trade of any celebrated ἀοιδὸς. As for the poet himself, he doubtless, as he proceeded in the composition, wrote his poem, as it were, on the memory of the younger bards, by whom it is consonant to the manners of that age that he should have been surrounded.
Those who assert the essential unity of the Homeric poems, by no means deny that there may have been, and probably were, interpolations, and even additions of some length, made either by the same or by other poets, to the original plan. This is the ground taken by Mr. Grote. He rejects the Pisistratean hypothesis. He maintains, from internal evidence, the complete unity of plan and authorship in the Odyssey. He claims a like unity for the greater part of the Iliad; but argues for an amount of subsequent addition to the poem, greater than we can bring ourselves to consider probable. We shall give, in his own words, what is peculiar to his theory.
The first book, together with the eighth, and the books from the eleventh to the twenty-second inclusive, seem to form the primary organization of the poem, then properly an Achilleis: the twenty-third and twenty-fourth books are additions at the tail of this primitive poem, which still leave it nothing more than an enlarged Achilleis: but the books from the second to the seventh inclusive, together with the tenth, are of a wider and more comprehensive character, and convert the poem from an Achilleis into an Iliad. The primitive frontispiece, inscribed with the anger of Achilles and its direct consequences, yet remains, after it has ceased to be co-extensive with the poem. The parts added, however, are not necessarily inferior in merit to the original poem; so far is this from being the case, that amongst them are comprehended some of the noblest efforts of the Grecian epic. Nor are they more recent in date than the original; strictly speaking, they must be a little more recent, but they belong to the same generation and state of society as the primitive Achilleis.
Nothing can be more striking than the manner in which Homer concentrates our attention, in the first book, upon Achilles as the hero, his quarrel with Agamemnon, and the calamities of the Greeks, which are held out as about to ensue from it, through the intercession of Thetis with Zeus. But the incidents dwelt upon from the beginning of the second book down to the combat between Hector and Ajax in the seventh, animated and interesting as they are, do nothing to realize this promise; they are a splendid picture of the Trojan War generally, and eminently suitable to that larger title under which the poem has been immortalized; but the consequences of the anger of Achilles do not appear until the eighth book. The tenth book, or Doloneia, is also a portion of the Iliad, but not of the Achilleis; while the ninth book appears to be a subsequent addition (I venture to say, an unworthy addition), nowise harmonizing with that main stream of the Achilleis, which flows from the eleventh book to the twenty-second. The eighth book ought to be read in immediate connexion with the eleventh, in order to see the structure of what seems the primitive Achilleis; for there are several passages in the eleventh and the following books, which prove that the poet who composed them could not have had present to his mind the main event of the ninth book—the outpouring of profound humiliation by the Greeks, and from Agamemnon especially, before Achilles, coupled with formal offers to restore Briseïs, and pay the amplest compensation for past wrong. The words of Achilles (not less than those of Patroclus and Nestor) in the eleventh and following books, plainly imply that the humiliation of the Greeks before him, for which he thirsts, is as yet future and contingent; that no plenary apology has yet been tendered, nor any offer made of restoring Briseïs, while both Nestor and Patroclus, with all their wish to induce him to take arms, nevertheless view him as one whose ground of quarrel stands still the same as it did at the beginning. Moreover, if we look at the first book—the opening of the Achilleis—we shall see that this prostration of Agamemnon and the chief Grecian heroes before Achilles, would really be the termination of the whole poem; for Achilles asks nothing more from Thetis, nor Thetis anything more from Zeus, than that Agamemnon and the Greeks may be brought to know the wrong that they have done to their capital warrior, and humbled to the dust in expiation of it. We may add, that the abject terror in which Agamemnon appears in the ninth book, when he sends the supplicatory message to Achilles, as it is not adequately accounted for by the degree of calamity which the Greeks have experienced in the preceding (eighth) book, so it is inconsistent with the gallantry and high spirit with which he strives at the beginning of the eleventh. The situation of the Greeks only becomes desperate when the three great chiefs, Agamemnon, Odysseus, and Diomedes, are disabled by wounds; this is the irreparable calamity which works upon Patroclus, and through him upon Achilles. The ninth book, as it now stands, seems to me an addition by a different hand to the original Achilleis, framed so as both to forestal and spoil the nineteenth book, which is the real reconciliation of the two inimical heroes. I will venture to add, that it carries the ferocious pride and egotism of Achilles beyond all admissible limits, and is shocking to that sentiment of Nemesis which was so deeply seated in the Grecian mind. We forgive any excess and fury against the Trojans and Hector after the death of Patroclus, but that he should remain unmoved by restitution, by abject supplications, and by the richest atoning presents tendered from the Greeks, indicates an implacability more than human, and certainly such as neither the poet of the first book, nor the poet of the last twelve books, seeks to portray.
(Vol. II, pp. 235-6, 238-45.)
We are able to go so far with the distinction drawn by Mr. Grote, as to admit that he has discriminated well between those parts of the Iliad whichkcannotk have been additions to the original plan, and those which possibly may. If the poem does consist of an original basis and a subsequent enlargement, the books which he has pointed out, or some of them, must be the parts superadded. But that they, or even the ninth, to which he takes such vehement exception, really were such subsequent additionsl(powerful as are some of the considerations he has urged)l , he has not succeeded in convincing us.
It is true, the books from the second to the seventh inclusive, in no way forward the action of the poem, as dependent on the anger of Achilles: and it is remarkable that, during that interval, Zeus not only suspends the performance of his promise to Thetis in the first book, but seems absolutely to have forgotten it, and directs his conduct and counsels by totally different considerations. This last is a serious blemish in the construction of the story; but imperfection of workmanship does not prove plurality of workmen; and if the poet intended to make his poem an Ilias as well as an Achilleis, there would have been in any case a difficulty of this sort to surmount, which it is not necessary to suppose that he must have surmounted successfully. But, if not strictly belonging to the plan of the Achilleis, these books conduce in a remarkable degree to the effect of those parts of the poem which do belong to it. In no epic is the interest centred exclusively in one individual; even in the Achilleis, not Achilles only, but the Greeks generally, and even the Trojans, inspire a keen sympathy; and how much that sympathy is promoted by the preliminary books, needs hardly be pointed out. Not only does the success of the Greeks in the fourth and fifth books greatly deepen the sense of their subsequent disaster, by giving it the character of a turn of fortune; while the exploits of the principal heroes, especially Diomedes and Ulysses, augment the impression of their difficulties when those heroes are disabled; but, above all, it is in those books that we become acquainted with, and interested in, most of the leading characters of the subsequent epos. Hector especially, on whom the poet evidently intended that a strong personal interest should rest—what ground should we have had for sympathising with him, were it not for the beautiful scenes with Paris and Helen in the fourth book, Andromache and Hecuba in the sixth, and Ajax in the seventh? Without the books which Mr. Grote strikes from the original plan, there would be, if we except the amiable characters of Patroclus and Sarpedon, scarcely anything in the poem which excites a really personal interest.
With regard to the ninth book, we allow there are difficulties. The principal is the speech of Achilles to Patroclus in the eleventh book,* which certainly seems to imply that no atonement had yet been offered, or supplication made. Mr. Grote quotes several other passages, which apparently carry a similar implication; but none which, we think, it would be difficult to get over, if this were disposed of. On the other hand, there are difficulties in his own theory. He gets rid of three subsequent allusions to the transactions of the ninth book, by pronouncing them to be interpolations; but he has overlooked one of greater importance in the sixteenth, where Achilles says to Patroclus, that the time has come at which he had said that his revenge would cease, since the enemy has now reached the ships.† He had said this nowhere, as the text now stands, except in his answer to the embassy. If it be suggested that this passage may also be an interpolation,m we shall still urge that it is not consonant to the character of Achilles, to suppose that he would have so far renounced his anger as to send aid to the Greeks even in that extremity, if he had received no offer whatever of atonement or restitution;—if Agamemnon and the Greeks had not yet acknowledged their fault, and humbled themselves before him. With respect to the argument from the more than human ferocity manifested by Achilles, and its conflict with the Greek sentiment of Nemesis, we cannot see the matter in the same light. It is with great hesitation that we should question any opinion of Mr. Grote on a point of Greek erudition; but we know not what evidence he has that the peculiar Greek idea of Nemesis—manifested in the famous speech of Solon to Crœsus,[*] and which afterwards acted so leading a part in the Athenian drama—had already begun to exist in the Homeric age. We rather believe it to have been one of the points of difference between the more solemn and gloomy theology of the historic age of Greece, and the lively anthropomorphism of the Homeric Pantheon. We find no traces of it in Homer or Hesiod. We find, indeed, severe vengeance taken on mortals by the Homeric deities, not for pride or arrogance generally, but for some special affront to their own dignity; and particularly for any presumptuous attempt to dispute their pre-eminence. It is on such provocation that Thamyris is struck blind by the Muses, and the children of Niobe destroyed by the arrows of Apollo and Artemis.[†] But no such offence is offered by Achilles in the ninth book; nor any disobedience to the divine powers. No godnorn goddess had commanded him to lay aside his wrath, as Pallas, in the first book, restrains him from drawing his sword, and Zeus, in the twenty-fourth, enjoins him, through Thetis, to restore the body of Hector. To these intimations he is at once obedient, and is represented throughout as an eminently pious hero. Nor are we at all inclined to admit that his implacability exceeds what the sentiment of that age would allow of, in a character of vehement passion. He is not intended for a faultless hero; nor does he show any ferocity in the ninth book, at all comparable to that which he displays in the sixteenth; where, in the very act of sending forth Patroclus to aid the Greeks, he utters a fervent wish that not one Greek or Trojan might be left alive, but they two might alone survive to conquer Troy. Nor can we forget that several of the nobler characteristics of Achilles are nowhere so effectually manifested as in the ninth book; the princely courtesy, rivalling the best conceptions of chivalrous romance, in his reception of the embassy; and that abhorrence of disguise, also more resembling the knightly than theoHellenico model, but so necessary to the ideal of his character, which hep emphatically announces in the lines so often quoted:
With regard to the tenth book, we think there is weight in what the critics have urged, that the successful nocturnal enterprise of Diomed and Ulysses is skilfully interposed, not only to break the rapid succession of one battle upon another, but to reanimate the spirits and courage of the Greeks after the disasters of the eighth book. We cannot coincide in Mr. Grote’s unwillingness to believe “that the author of the fifth book (or Aristeia of Diomedes) would condescend to employ the hero whom he there so brightly glorifies—the victor even over Ares himself—in slaughtering newly-arrived Thracian sleepers, without any large purpose or necessity;”[†] since to kill men who were defenceless, provided they were enemies, and not ἱκέται or suppliants, had little that was repugnant to Greek feeling, even in a more advanced age; while an ambush is invariably spoken of in the Iliad as the most dangerous service, and the most decisive test of courage to which a warrior could be exposed. An Homeric audience would see, in this unchivalrous massacre, only the real intrepidity of the two heroes, in venturing alone, and for so perilous a purpose, into the camp of their sleeping enemies; and, in the Homeric point of view, it was doubtless an exploit worthy of the most distinguished warriors.
That Mr. Grote should think it possible for the two concluding books to be additions, we confess surprises us. We cannot imagine how, with the ideas of the Greeks, both in the Homeric age and subsequently, respecting the rites of sepulture, the action of a Greek epos could ever have been complete until the two heroes, whose successive deaths formed the catastrophe of the poem, had received the accustomed funeral honours. Nor would a Greek audience, we think, have tolerated that Hector, the beloved of Zeus, whose death he so unwillingly concedes to Destiny and the public opinion of Olympus, should have been abandoned by him when dead to the ignominious fate designed, and in part executed, by Achilles. We need not point out how much the character of Achilles himself would lose of its interest, without the exquisite manner in which its softer elements are called forth by the interview withqPriam. Andq though it may be true that “the Homeric man would enter fully into the thirst of revenge felt by Achilles,”[*] excessive and brutal as that revenge was, it is assuming too much to suppose that the Homeric man would have sympathized with Achilles exclusively. Such, certainly, was not Homer’s purpose, as there are evidences enough even in the Achilleis to prove.
The chapter on the “State of Society and Manners as exhibited in Grecian legend,”[†] is sound and judicious; but on this subject previous writers had not left so much to be performed. A point of originality in Mr. Grote’s treatment of it is the comparison kept up between the characteristics of the heroic and those of the historical period. Thus, for example, the sense of obligation in the Homeric period is exclusively of a personal kind: “Personal feelings, either towards the gods, the king, or some near and known individual, fill the whole of a man’s bosom; out of them arise all the motives to beneficence, and all the internal restraints upon violence, antipathy, and rapacity; and special communion, as well as special solemnities, are essential to their existence;” while, in the conceptions of the citizen of historical Athens, “the great impersonal authority called The Laws, stood out separately both as guide and sanction, distinct from religious duty or private sympathies.”[‡] In the Council of Chiefs, and the Agora or Popular Assembly, which, though with no definite function or authority, habitually accompany the Homeric kings, Mr. Grote sees the pre-existing elements of the subsequent republican governments. The following is an important remark:
There is yet another point of view in which it behoves us to take notice of the Council and the Agora as integral portions of the legendary government of the Grecian communities. We are thus enabled to trace the employment of public speaking as the standing engine of government and the proximate cause of obedience, to the social infancy of the nation. The power of speech in the direction of public affairs becomes more and more obvious, developed, and irresistible, as we advance towards the culminating period of Grecian history—the century preceding the battle of Chæroneia. That its development was greatest among the most enlightened sections of the Grecian name, and smallest among the more obtuse and stationary, is matter of notorious fact; and it is not less true, that the prevalence of this habit was one of the chief causes of the intellectual eminence of the nation generally. At a time when all the countries around were plunged comparatively in mental torpor, there was no motive sufficiently present and powerful to multiply so wonderfully the productive minds of Greece, except such as arose from the rewards of public speaking. The susceptibility of the multitude to this sort of guidance, their habit of requiring and enjoying the stimulus which it supplied, and the open discussion, combining regular forms with free opposition, of practical matters, political as well as judicial, are the creative causes which formed such conspicuous adepts in the art of persuasion. Nor was it only professed orators who were thus produced. Didactic aptitude was formed in the background, and the speculative tendencies were supplied with interesting phenomena for observation and combination, at a time when the truths of physical science were almost inaccessible. If the primary effect was to quicken the powers of expression, the secondary, but not less certain result, was to develope the habits of scientific thought. Not only the oratory of Demosthenes and Pericles, and the colloquial magic of Socrates, but also the philosophical speculations of Plato, and the systematic politics, rhetoric, and logic of Aristotle, are traceable to the same general tendencies in the minds of the Grecian people; and we find the germ of these expansive forces in the senate and agora of their legendary government.
(Vol. II, pp. 104-6.)
Incidental remarks of this nature, on the influence of circumstances in forming the peculiar Grecian character and civilization, occur largely in the first two chapters on historical Greece, viz. on its geography, and on “the Hellenic people generally in the early historical times.”[*] Mr. Grote does not give these speculations for more than they are worth. He does not affect to exhaust the subject, nor pretends that the causes he assigns account for the whole of the effect; butr points out the natural tendencies of each influential fact, as it successively passes under his review. The following is a favourable specimen:
The configuration of the Grecian territory, so like in many respects to that of Switzerland, produced two effects of great moment upon the character and history of the people. In the first place, it materially strengthened their powers of defence; it shut up the country against those invasions from the interior which successively subjugated all their continental colonies; and it at the same time rendered each fraction more difficult to be attacked by the rest, so as to exercise a certain conservative influence in assuring the tenure of actual possessors. But, in the next place, while it tended to protect each section of Greeks from being conquered, it also kept them politically disunited, and perpetuated their separate autonomy. It fostered that powerful principle of repulsion, which disposed even the smallest township to constitute itself a political unit apart from the rest, and to resist all idea of coalescence with others, either amicable or compulsory. To a modern reader, accustomed to large political aggregations, and securities for good government through the representative system, it requires a certain mental effort to transport himself back to a time when even the smallest town clung so tenaciously to its right of self-legislation. Nevertheless, such was the general habit and feeling of the ancient world, throughout Italy, Sicily, Spain, and Gaul: among the Hellenes it stands out more conspicuously, for several reasons—first, because they seem to have pushed the multiplication of autonomous units to an extreme point, seeing that even islands not larger than Peparethos and Amorgos had two or three separate city communities; secondly, because they produced, for the first time in the history of mankind, acute systematic thinkers on matters of government, amongst all of whom the idea of the autonomous city was accepted as the indispensable basis of political speculation; thirdly, because this incurable subdivision proved finally the cause of their ruin, in spite of pronounced intellectual superiority over their conquerors; and, lastly, because incapacity of political coalescence did not preclude a powerful and extensive sympathy between the inhabitants of all the separate cities, with a constant tendency to fraternise for numerous purposes, social, religious, recreative, intellectual, and æsthetical. . . .
Nor is it rash to suppose that the same [geographical] causes may have tended to promote that unborrowed intellectual development for which they stand so conspicuous. General propositions respecting the working of climate and physical agencies upon character are indeed treacherous; for our knowledge of the globe is now sufficient to teach us that heat and cold, mountain and plain, sea and land, moist and dry atmosphere, are all consistent with the greatest diversities of resident men. . . . Nevertheless, we may venture to note certain improving influences, connected with their geographical position, at a time when they had no books to study, and no more advanced predecessors to imitate. We may remark, first, that their position made them at once mountaineers and mariners, thus supplying them with great variety of objects, sensations, and adventures; next, that each petty community, nestled apart amidst its own rocks, was sufficiently severed from the rest to possess an individual life and attributes of its own, yet not so far as to subtract it from the sympathies of the remainder; so that an observant Greek, commercing with a great diversity of half-countrymen, whose language he understood, and whose idiosyncracies he could appreciate, had access to a larger mass of social and political experience than any other man in so unadvanced an age could personally obtain. The Phœnician, superior to the Greek on ship-board, traversed wider distances and saw a greater number of strangers, but he had not the same means of intimate communion with a multiplicity of fellows in blood and language: his relations, confined to purchase and sale, did not comprise that mutuality of action and reaction which pervaded the crowd at a Grecian festival. The scene which here presented itself was a mixture of uniformity and variety highly stimulating to the observant faculties of a man of genius,—who at the same time, if he sought to communicate his own impressions, or to act upon this mingled and diverse audience, was forced to shake off what was peculiar to his own town or community, and to put forth matter in harmony with the feelings of all.
(Vol. II, pp. 298-301.)
In the six concluding chapters of the second volume, Mr. Grote comprises the sum of what is known respecting the early condition of those Grecian States which have properly no history prior to the Persian invasion; and brings down the history ofsthe Peloponesian Greekss to the age of Crœsus and Pisistratus. The fragmentary nature of the information, and the conscientious integrity of the author, who scruples to supply the deficiency of certified facts by theory and conjecture, render these chapters, with one exception, somewhat meagre. The exception is the chapter which treats of the Legislation of Lycurgus, the earliest Grecian event of first-rate historical importance.
Although of the personality of Lycurgus scarcely anything can be said to be known, Mr. Grote entertains no doubt that such a person existed, and that the peculiar Spartan institutions were the work of a single legislator. Indeed, extraordinary as it may seem that one man, or even a combination of men, should have had power not merely to introduce, for that is little, but to give enduring vitality to so singular a system of manners and institutions, the system itself is so intensely artificial, that any more commonplace origin would be still more improbable; it bespeaks in every part systematic design.
The received view, however, of the Lycurgean reforms, and even of the Spartan institutions, Mr. Grote shows to be, in one important point, erroneous; the supposed equal division of landed property. He rejects this, not on the score of improbability, for it is not in itself so hard to believe as what Lycurgus really effected; but because no mention of it is to be found in any Greek author who lived while the Lycurgean institutions were still in force; and there is ample proof that neither Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Isocrates, Plato, nor Aristotle knew of any such equal division, either as connected with Lycurgus or with Sparta. It rests on the sole testimony of Plutarch;[*] and Mr. Grote believes it to have been an historic fancy, generated long after by the regrets and aspirations of the patriotic party of which the reforming kings, Agis and Cleomenes, were at the head.
Taking the condition of the city as it stood in the time of Agis III (say about 250 ), we know that its citizens had become few in number, the bulk of them miserably poor, and all the land in a small number of hands—the old discipline and the public mess (as far as the rich were concerned) degenerated into mere forms—a numerous body of strangers or non-citizens (the old xenêlasy, or prohibition of resident strangers, being long discontinued) domiciled in the town, and forming a powerful moneyed interest; and lastly, the dignity and ascendancy of the state amongst its neighbours altogether ruined. It was insupportable to a young enthusiast like king Agis, and to many ardent spirits among his contemporaries, to contrast this degradation with the previous glories of the country; and they saw no other way of reconstructing the old Sparta except by again admitting the disfranchised poor citizens, redividing the lands, cancelling all debts, and restoring the public mess and military training in all their strictness. Agis endeavoured to carry through these subversive measures, (such as no demagogue in the extreme democracy of Athens would ever have ventured to glance at,) with the consent of the senate and public assembly, and the acquiescence of the rich. His sincerity is attested by the fact, that his own property, and that of his female relatives, among the largest in the state, was cast as the first sacrifice into the common stock. But he became the dupe of unprincipled coadjutors, and perished in the unavailing attempt to realize his scheme by persuasion. His successor Kleomenês afterwards accomplished by violence a change substantially similar, though the intervention of foreign arms speedily overthrew both himself and his institutions.
Now it was under the state of public opinion which gave birth to these projects of Agis and Kleomenês at Sparta, that the historic fancy, unknown to Aristotle and his predecessors, first gained ground, of the absolute equality of property as a primitive institution of Lycurgus. How much such a belief would favour the schemes of innovation, is too obvious to require notice; and, without supposing any deliberate imposture, we cannot be astonished that the predispositions of enthusiastic patriots interpreted according to their own partialities an old unrecorded legislation from which they were separated by more than five centuries. The Lycurgean discipline tended forcibly to suggest to men’s minds the idea of equality among the citizens,—that is, the negation of inequality not founded on some personal attribute—inasmuch as it assimilated the habits, enjoyments, and capacities of the rich to those of the poor; and the equality thus existing in idea and tendency, which seemed to proclaim the wish of the founder, was strained by the later reformers into a positive institution which he had at first realized, but from which his degenerate followers had receded. . . . We shall readily believe that [this hypothesis] would find easy and sincere credence, when we recollect how many similar delusions have obtained vogue in modern times far more favourable to historical accuracy—how much false colouring has been attached by the political feeling of recent days to matters of ancient history, such as the Saxon Wittenagemote, the Great Charter, the rise and growth of the English House of Commons, or even the Poor-law of Elizabeth.[*]
(Vol. II, pp. 527-30.)
The peculiarity of Sparta was not equality of fortunes, but a consistent attempt to make rich and poor live exactly alike; and live not for themselves, but as the creatures and instruments of the ideal being called the State. The expedient used by the legislator to effect this, was to destroy, not private property itself, but the possibility of any separate enjoyment of it. By a stated contribution in kind from every citizen, public tables were maintained, at which all Spartans, from childhood to death, took regularly the same frugal meal. The Spartan citizen
lived habitually in public, always either himself under drill, gymnastic and military, or a critic and spectator of others—always under the fetters and observances of a rule partly military, partly monastic, estranged from the independence of a separate home, seeing his wife during the first years after marriage, only by stealth, and maintaining little peculiar relation with his children. The surveillance not only of his fellow citizens, but also of authorised censors or captains nominated by the state, was perpetually acting upon him; his day was passed in public exercises and meals, his night in the public barrack to which he belonged. . . .
The parallel of the Lycurgean institutions is to be found in the Republic of Plato, who approves the Spartan principle of select guardians, carefully trained and administering the community at discretion; with this momentous difference indeed, that the Spartan character formed by Lycurgus is of a low type, rendered savage and fierce by exclusive and overdone bodily discipline, destitute even of the elements of letters, immersed in their own narrowtspecialitiest , and taught to despise all that lay beyond, possessing all the qualities requisite to procure dominion, but none of those calculated to render dominion popular or salutary to the subject; while the habits and attributes of the guardians, as shadowed forth by Plato, are enlarged as well as philanthropic, qualifying them not simply to govern, but to govern for purposes protective, conciliatory, and exalted. Both Plato and Aristotle conceived as the perfection of society something of the Spartan type, a select body of equally privileged citizens, disengaged from industrious pursuits, and subjected to public and uniform training; both admit (with Lycurgus) that the citizen belongs neither to himself, nor to his family, but to his city; both at the same time note with regret, that the Spartan training was turned only to one portion of human virtue, that which is called forth in a state of war; the citizens were converted into a sort of garrison, always under drill, and always ready to be called forth either against Helots at home, or against enemies abroad. . . . When we contemplate the general insecurity of Grecian life in the ninth or eighth century before the Christian era, and especially the precarious condition of a small band of Dorian conquerors in Sparta and its district, with subdued Helots on their own lands, and Achæans unsubdued all around them . . . the exclusive aim which Lycurgus proposed to himself is easily understood; but what is truly surprising is the violence of his means, and the success of the result. He realised his project of creating in the 8000 or 9000 Spartan citizens unrivalled habits of obedience, hardihood, self-denial, and military aptitude—complete subjection on the part of each individual to the local public opinion, and preference of death to the abandonment of Spartan maxims—intense ambition on the part of every one to distinguish himself within the prescribed sphere of duties, with little ambition for anything else. In what manner so rigorous a system of individual training can have been first brought to bear upon any community, mastering the course of the thoughts and actions from boyhood to old age—a work far more difficult than any political revolution—we are not permitted to discover; nor does even the influence of an earnest and energetic Herakleid man, seconded by the still more powerful working of the Delphian god behind, upon the strong pious susceptibilities of the Spartan mind, sufficiently explain a phenomenon so remarkable in the history of mankind, unless we suppose them aided by some combination of co-operating circumstances which history has not transmitted to us, and preceded by disorders so exaggerated as to render the citizens glad to escape from them at any price.
(Vol. II, pp. 505, 516-19.)
There is indeed no such instance of the wonderful pliability, and amenability to artificial discipline, of the human mind, as is afforded by the complete success of the Lacedæmonian legislator, for many generations, in making the whole body of Spartan citizen at Sparta exactly what he had intended to make them. At Sparta, it must be said; for a Spartan out of Sparta, at least during his country’s ascendancy, was not only the most domineering and arrogant, but in spite of, or rather by a natural reaction from his ascetic training, the most rapacious and corrupt of all Greeks: no one fell so easy a victim to the temptations of luxury and splendour. Yet such habitual abnegation of ordinary personal interests, and merging of self in an idea, were not compatible with pettiness of mind. Most of the anecdotes and recorded sayings of individual Lacedæmonians breathe a certain magnanimity of spirit; although the Lacedæmonian State, which was the object of this worship, and was accustomed not to give but to receive sacrifices, was memorable for the peculiar pettiness of its political conduct—a selfishness so excessive, as, by the blindness and even the un-Spartan cowardice which it engendered, perpetually to frustrate its own ends.
Such were the Spartans; those hereditary Tories and Conservatives of Greece; objects of exaggerated admiration to the moralists and philosophers of the far nobler as well as greater and wiser Athens; because the second-rate superior minds of a cultivated age and nation are usually in exaggerated opposition against its spirit; and lean towards the faults contrary to those against which they are daily contending. To men who felt called upon to stand up for Law against Will, and for traditional wisdom against the subtleties of sophists and the arts of rhetoricians, Sparta was the standing model of reverence for law, and attachment to ancient maxims. The revolutions which incessantly menaced every other Grecian state, and from which even Athens was not wholly secure, never threatened Sparta. The steadiness of the Spartan polity, and the constancy of Spartan maxims, were to the Greeks highly imposing phenomena. “It was the only government in Greece which could trace an unbroken peaceable descent from a high antiquity, and from its real or supposed founder;” and this, we think with Mr. Grote, was one of the main causes
of the astonishing ascendancy which the Spartans acquired over the Hellenic mind, and which they will not be found at all to deserve by any superior ability in the conduct of affairs. The steadiness of their political sympathies—exhibited at one time by putting down the tyrants or despots, at another by overthrowing the democracies—stood in the place of ability; and even the recognised failings of their government were often covered by the sentiment of respect for its early commencement and uninterrupted continuance.
(Vol. II, p. 477.)
The reader who is conversant with the existing state of knowledge respecting the Grecian world, will gather from what has been laid before him, that as a contribution to that knowledge, the present work is of high performance and still higher promise. The author is not surpassed even by German scholarship, in intimate and accurate acquaintance with the whole field of Greek literature and antiquity; while none of his predecessors have approached to him in the amount of philosophy and general mental accomplishment which he has brought to bear upon the subject.u
It has been made an objection to the volumes now published, that they contain a greater amount of dissertation than of history.[*] To such objectors it may be replied, that for the times here treated of, a continuous stream of narrative is not possible; that those who desire nothing from history but an amusing story, may find such abundantly provided elsewhere; that it is as much an historian’s duty to judge as to narrate, to prove as to assert; and that the same critics would be the first to reproach a writer who should substitute for the commonly received view of the facts a view of his own, without showing by what evidence he was prepared to substantiate it. There is in this case, too, the further peculiarity, that what is brought forward as matter of evidence, is itself almost always part and parcel of the exposition of the Greek mind; and on this score alone, no one who wishes to understand what Greece was, would desire to see one page of Mr. Grote’s argumentative chapters expunged.v
In the present volumes the style is clear, unaffected, and often very apt and vigorous. If we have a complaint to make, it would be of the too frequent employment of words of Greek or Latin origin; some of them recognised English words, though not in common use, but others purely of his own invention, and unintelligible except to scholars. In some cases, doubtless, the words are needed, and carry their explanation along with them: such a word as “autonomous,” conveying a political idea not exactly expressed by any modern word or phrase, is its own sufficient justification; and the same may be said of “gens,” a word borrowed from Roman history, to express a combination of religious and political ideas familiar to antiquity, and the same, substantially, which Niebuhr has proved that the term denoted at Rome.[*] But many cases would be found in a careful revisal of these volumes, in which similar hard words are used to convey a meaning which might be perfectly expressed by phrases generally intelligible.w
[* ]Preface, pp. vii-viii.
[[*] ]Connop Thirlwall, The History of Greece, 8 vols. (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1845-52).
[[†] ]William Mitford, The History of Greece, 10 vols. (London: Cadell and Davies, 1818-20.
[a]46 [footnote:] *Its first appearance was as a contribution to The Cabinet Cyclopædia; and it is now passing through the Press in the form of eight handsome octavo volumes.
[b]46 [footnote:] †Mr. Grote gives to the first two of these contrasted attributes the epithet of “feminine,” and to the four latter that of “masculine.” [Vol. I, p. xvii.] We regret that he should have unguardedly countenanced a commonplace notion which we do not believe that he would intentionally recommend, on a subject on which just opinions are extremely important; and we reply to him in the words of the Rev. Sydney Smith, originally printed in this Journal:
[[*] ]See Barthold Georg Niebuhr, The History of Rome, trans. Connop Thirlwall et al., 3 vols. (London: Taylor, 1828-42).
[[*] ]George Grote, “Grecian Legends and Early History,” Westminster Review, XXXIX (May, 1843), 285-328. Grote acknowledges his authorship in his History, Vol. I, p. 577n.
[[†] ]Ibid., p. 289; Grote is quoting Thomas Moore, ed., George Gordon Byron, Works, 17 vols. (London: Murray, 1832-33), Vol. XI, p. 72n.
[[‡] ]Ibid.; the passage (which Grote takes from Moore) may be found in Wolfgang von Goethe, “Manfred,” Werke, 55 vols. (Stuttgart and Tübingen, 1828-33), Vol. XLVI, p. 217.
[[*] ]Æschylus, Prometheus Bound, in Æschylus (Greek and English), trans. Herbert Weir Smyth, 2 vols. (London: Heinemann; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1963), Vol. I, p. 234 (212).
[[†] ]“Grecian Legends and Early History,” pp. 290-2.
[[*] ]Ibid., pp. 293-4.
[* ]Odyssey, [trans. Murray, Vol. I, p. 292,] VIII, 487-91.
[[†] ]Hesiod, Theogony, in Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns and Homerica (Greek and English), trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White (London: Heinemann; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964), p. 80 (29-34).
[* ]We have used Dr. Thirlwall’s translation. [History of Greece, Vol. I, p. 211.] The original words are—Ἔνθεν δὲ ἐγένετο ἕκαστος τω̑ν θεω̑ν, εἴτε δ’ ἀεὶ ἠ̑σαν πάντες, ὁκοι̑οί τε τινὲς τὰ εἴδεα, οὐκ ἠπιστέατο [οἱ Ἕλληνες] μέχρι οὑ̑ πρώην τε καὶ χθὲς, ὡς εἰπει̑ν λόγῳ· Ἡσίοδον γὰρ καὶ Ὅμηρον ἡλικίην τετρακοσίοισι ἔτεσι δοκέω μευ πρεσβυτέρους γενέσθαι, καὶ οὐ πλέοσι· οὔτοι δὲ ἐισὶ οἱ ποιήσαντες θεογονίην Ἕλλησι, καὶ τοι̑σι θεοι̑σι τὰς ἐπωνυμίας δόντες, καὶ τιμάς τε καὶ τέχνας διελόντες, καὶ εἴδεα αὐτω̑ν σημήναντες. (Herodotus [(Greek and English), trans. A. D. Godley, 4 vols. (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam’s Sons, 1921), Vol. I, p. 340,] ii, 53.)
[d-d]46 and even the
[[*] ]This and the succeeding references to chronicles are, in order of appearance, to: History of Charles the Great and Orlando, ascribed to Archbishop Turpin; Vincent de Beauvais, Speculum Historiale; Eginhard and the Monk of St. Gall, Early Lives of Charlemagne by Eginhard and the Monk of St. Gall; John Hardyng, The Chronicle of John Hardyng; Robert Fabyan, The New Chronicles of England and France; Richard Grafton, Grafton’s Chronicle; or, History of England, from the Year 1189 to 1558 inclusive; Raphael Holinshed, Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland; and Geoffrey of Monmouth, The British History of Geoffrey of Monmouth.
[[*] ]Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, 3 vols. (Orleans: Couret de Villeneuve, 1785).
[* ]See [Thomas] Warton’s History of English Poetry [3 vols. (London: Dodsley et al., 1774-81), Vol. I,] §iii, p. 128n. “No man, before the sixteenth century, presumed to doubt that the Francs derived their origin from Francus, the son of Hector; that the Spaniards were descended from Japhet, the Britons from Brutus, and the Scotch from Fergus.” (Ibid., p. 137.)—(Author’s [i.e., Grote’s] Note.)
[[†] ]See Æschines, On the Embassy, in The Speeches of Æschines (Greek and English), trans. Charles Darwin Adams (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam’s Sons, 1919), p. 184 (30-3).
[* ]Even in 1754, Dr. Zachary Grey, in his notes on Shakspeare, commenting on the passage in King Lear, Nero is an angler in the lake of darkness [III, vi, 6-7], says, “This is one of Shakspeare’s most remarkable anachronisms. King Lear succeeded his father Bladud, anno mundi 3105; and Nero, anno mundi 4017, was sixteen years old, when he married Octavia, Cæsar’s daughter. See Funccii Chronologia [Johann Funck, Chronologia (Wittenberg: Hoffmann, 1601)], p. 94.” (Author’s Note.) [Up to the quotation marks, JSM paraphrases Grote: in his note, Grote quotes Grey, Critical, Historical and Explanatory Notes on Shakspeare, 2 vols. (London: Manby, 1754), Vol. II, p. 112.]
[[*] ]See Plato, Republic (Greek and English), trans. Paul Shorey, 2 vols. (London: Heinemann; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1946).
[[*] ]Xenophanes, Fragment 9, in Anthologia Lyrica Graeca, ed. Ernestus Diehl (Leipzig: Teubneri, 1954), Fasc. I, p. 68.
[[*] ]Grote, “Grecian Legends and Early History,” p. 305.
[* ]Vol. I, p. 570.
[g-g]46 , or Intentional-Mischief,
[[†] ]Ibid., p. 9.
[[*] ]See Karl Otfried Müller, Introduction to a Scientific System of Mythology, trans. John Leitch (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1844), pp. 57ff.
[* ]See, for interesting details, Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official, by Lieut.-Col. Sleeman. [2 vols. (London: Hatchard, 1844).] (Vol. I, Chap. iii.)
[* ]Introduction to a Scientific System of Mythology (p. 61), recently and very well translated by Mr. Leitch.
[* ]It is much to be regretted that so few such pictures are extant. We recommend, as one of the most instructive, the work already referred to, of Colonel Sleeman—a book which may be called, without exaggeration, “The Hindoos painted by themselves.”
[* ]These are fully set forth by Mr. Grote, pp. 191-7 of his second volume, and by [Karl Otfried] Müller, History of the Literature of Ancient Greece, [2 vols., trans. G. C. Lewis and J. W. Donaldson (London: Baldwin, 1840-42), Vol. I,] pp. 37-9.
[[*] ]See Plato, Phædrus, in Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phædo, Phædrus (Greek and English), trans. H. N. Fowler (London: Heinemann; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1947), p. 562 (274e-275a); cf. Mill’s trans., p. 90 above.
[m]46 (of which, however, we perceive no signs,)
[[*] ]See Herodotus (Greek and English), trans. Godley, Vol. I, pp. 32-40 (I, 30-3).
[[†] ]See Iliad, trans. Murray, Vol. I, p. 94 (II, 595-605), and Vol. II, pp. 606-8 (XXIV, 602-25).
[[*] ]Iliad, trans. Murray, Vol. I, p. 404 (IX, 312-13).
[[†] ]Grote, History, Vol. II, p. 268.
[q-q]46, 59 Priam; and
[[*] ]Ibid., p. 266.
[[†] ]Ibid., pp. 79-158 (Pt. I, Chap. xx).
[[‡] ]Ibid., pp. 107-8, 110.
[[*] ]The title of Pt. II, Chap. ii; Chap. i is entitled “General Geography and Limits of Greece.”
[s-s]46 all the others except Athens,
[[*] ]Plutarch, Lives (Greek and English), trans. Bernadotte Perrin, 11 vols. (London: Heinemann; New York: Macmillan, 1914), Vol. I, pp. 226-8 (VIII).
[[*] ]See 43 Elizabeth, c. 2 (1601).
[t-t]46, 59 specialties [printer’s error?]
[u]46 In his remaining volumes, the next two of which, he informs us, are far advanced towards completion, he will have an opportunity of manifesting the same qualities in a more attractive field. [See Vol. I, p. xvi.]
[[*] ]See Henry Hart Milman, “Grote’s History of Greece,” Quarterly Review, LXXVIII (June, 1846), 143-4.
[v]46 [paragraph] But another task lies before him, in those more eventful portions of the history, in which the graces of narrative are possible and to be expected. He will have the advantage, seldom possessed by historians, of finding in the writers whom he consults for the materials of his tale, the most finished examples of the mode of telling it. He has only to imitate their union of distinctness with condensation, of general unity with characteristic and picturesque detail; nay, he might almost content himself, in many of the most animated scenes, with a literal translation.
[[*] ]See Niebuhr, History of Rome, Vol. I, pp. 271ff.
[w]46 [paragraph] Mr. Grote has made considerable innovations in the English orthography of Greek names, on the principle of keeping nearer to the Greek; instead of following the foreign spelling of the Romans merely because we have adopted their alphabet. [See Vol. I, pp. xix-xx.] There would be more to be said for this principle if it could be carried out consistently; but Mr. Grote concedes so many exceptions to the shocked feelings of the reader, that in the end the disturbance of old associations is almost gratuitous. He justifies the restoration of the Greek K in place of the Roman C, by the injury which the sibilant letter does to the unrivalled harmony of the Greek language; yet he not only does not venture to write Korinth or Krete, but not even Phokis or Sikyon. At all events, we can see no reason for preserving K in words in which the sound of C is precisely similar, such words as Locris or Cleomenes. There are other cases, too, to which his principle would extend, but in which he retains the Latin orthography. He writes Meno, Polemo, instead of Menon, Polemon; and why should one of the lost poems of Hesiod continue to be designated by so unpronounceable a name as Eœæ? The real word is Eoiai, a name of genuine Greek sonorousness. We quite approve of retaining the diphthong ei (as Cleinias, Peisistratus,) if for no other reason than to mark the quantity: this example had been already set by Mr. Mitford. We are glad also that Mr. Grote, with the majority of recent scholars, preserves, when writing about Greece, the Grecian names of Divinities, and speaks of Ares and Demeter, not Mars and Ceres. The Roman deities mostly belonged to another mythology, had different legends, and to a great extent different attributes; and were only at a late period identified with the gods and goddesses of the Grecian Olympus. As well almost might we name these after Isis, Osiris, &c., with whom also Grecian ingenuity identified them; as it would undoubtedly have done with Thor, Odin, and Freya, if Scandinavia as well as Egypt had been known and frequented by Grecian travellers.