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preservation-already sufficiently great-down from such an age and society to the historical times.
The mode in which these poems—and indeed all poems, epic as well as lyric-down to the age (probably) of Pisistratus, were circulated and brought to bear upon the public, deserves particular attention. They were not read by individuals alone and apart, but sung or recited at festivals or to assembled companies. This seems to be one of the few undisputed facts with regard to the great poet ; for even those who maintain that the Iliad and Odyssey were preserved by means of writing, seldom contend that they were read.
Those who maintain the Homeric poems to have been written from the beginning, rest their case not upon positive proofs, nor yet upon the existing habits of society with regard to poetry, for they admit generally that the Iliad and Odyssey were not read but recited and heard—but upon the supposed necessity that there must have been manuscripts to insure the preservation of the poems—the unassisted memory of reciters being neither sufficient nor trustworthy. But here we escape a smaller difficulty by running into a greater ; for the existence of trained bards, gifted with extraordinary memory, is far less astonishing than that of long manuscripts in an age essentially non-reading and non-writing, and when even suitable instruments and materials for the process are not obvious. Moreover, there is a strong positive reason for believing that the bard was under no necessity of refreshing his memory by consulting a manuscript. For if such had been the fact, blindness would have been a disqualification for the profession, which we know that it was not; as well from the example of Demodokus in the Odyssey, as from that of the blind bard of Chios, in the Hymn to the Delian Apollo, whom Thucydides, as well as the general tenor of Grecian legend, identifies with Homer himself. The author of that hymn, be he who he may, could never have described a blind man as attaining the utmost perfection in his art, if he had been conscious that the memory of the bard was only maintained by constant reference to the manuscript in his chest.
But what guarantee have we for the exact transmission of the text for a space of two centuries by simply oral means? It may be replied that oral transmission would hand down the text as exactly as, in point of act, it was handed down. The great lines of each poem-the order of the parts, the vein of Homeric feeling, and the general style of locution, and, for the most part, the true words-would be maintained; for the professional training of the rhapsode, over and above the precision of his actual memory, would tend to Homerize his mind (if the expression may be permitted), and to restrain him within the magic circle. On the other hand, in respect to the details of the text, we should expect that there would be wide differences and numerous inaccuracies ; and so there really were, as the records contained in the Scholia, together with the passages cited in ancient authors, but not found in our Homeric text, abundantly show.-History of Greece, Part I., Chap. 21.
The First Part of the History of Greece, which treats of “ Legendary Greece," occupies about one-eighth of the work. The Second Part, which is devoted to “ Historical Greece," begins with the year 776 B.C., and extends to the end of the generation of Alexander of Macedon, about 277 B.C., a period of five centuries. At this period, says Mr. Grote, “an historian accustomed to the Grecian world as described by Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, feels that the life has departed from his subject, and with sadness and humiliation brings his narrative to a close.
THE CHARACTER OF SOLON. The archonship of the Eupatrid Solon dates in 594 B.C., thirty years after that of Drako. The lives of Solon by Plutarch and Diogenes (especially the former) are our principal sources of information respecting this remarkable man; and while we thank them for what
they have told us, it is impossible to avoid expressing disappointment that they have not told us more. For Plutarch had certainly before him both the original poems and the original laws of Solon, and the few transcripts which he gives from one or the other form the principal charm of his biography. But such valuable materials ought to have been made available to a more instructive result than that which he has brought out. There is hardly anything more to be deplored, amidst the lost treasures of the Grecian mind, than the poems of Solon; for we see by the remaining fragments that they contained notices of the public and social phenomena before him, which he was compelled attentively to study, blended with the touching expression of his own personal feelings, in the post alike honorable and difficult to which the confidence of his countrymen had exalted him.
Solon, the son of Exekestides, was a Eupatrid of middling fortune, but of the purest heroic blood, belonging to the gens, or family, of the Kodrids and Neleids, and tracing his origin to the god Poseidon. His father is said to have diminished his substance by prodigality, which compelled Solon in his early years to have recourse to trade; and in this pursuit he visited many parts of Greece and Asia. He was thus enabled to enlarge the sphere of his observation, and to provide material for thought as well as for composition. His poetical talents displayed themselves at a very early age, first on light, afterward on serious subjects. It will be recollected that there was at that time no Greek prose writing, and that the acquisitions as well as the effusions of an intellectual man, even in their simplest form, adjusted themselves not to the limitations of the period and the semicolon, but to those of the hexameter and the pentameter. Nor, in point of fact, do the verses of Solon aspire to any higher effect than we are accustomed to associate with an earnest, touching, and admonitory prose composition. The advice and appeals which he frequently addressed to his countrymen were delivered in the easy metre, doubtless far less difficult than the elaborate prose of subsequent writers or speakers, such as Thucydides, Isocrates, or Demos
thenes. His poetry and his reputation became known throughout many parts of Greece, so that he was classed along with Thales of Miletus, Bias of Priene, Pittakus of Mitylene, Periander of Corinth, Kleobulus of Lindus, Chelion of Lacedæmon-all together forming the constellation afterward renowned as the Seven Wise Men.
Of all grievances, the most urgent was the condition of the poorer class of debtors. To their relief Solon's first measure—the memorable Seisachtheia or “ Shaking off of burthens ”—was directed. The relief which it afforded was complete and immediate. It cancelled at once all those contracts in which the debtor had borrowed on the security either of his person or of his land ; it forbade all future loans or contracts in which the person of the debtor was pledged as security ; it deprived the creditor in future of all power to imprison, or enslave, or extort work from his debtor, and confined him to an effective judgment at law authorizing the seizure of the property of the latter. It swept all the numerous mortgage-pillars from the landed properties in Attica, leaving the land free from all past claims. It liberated and restored to their full rights all debtors actually in slavery under previous legal adjudication; and it even provided the means (we do not know how) of repurchasing in foreign lands, and bringing back to a renewed life of liberty in Attica, many insolvents who had been sold for exportation. And while Solon forbade every Athenian to pledge or sell his own person into slavery, he took a step farther in the same direction by forbidding him to sell his son, his daughter, or an unmarried sister under his tutelage-excepting only the case in which either of the latter might be detected in unchastity. Whether this last ordinance was contemporaneous with the Seisachtheia, or followed as one of his subsequent reforms, seems doubtful.
Lastly, Solon decreed that all those who had been condemned by the archons to Atimy (civil disfranchisement) should be restored to their full privilege of citizens—excepting, however, from this indulgence those who had been condemned by the Ephetæ, or by the Areopagus, or by the Phylo-Basileis (the four Kings of the Tribes), after trial in the Prytaneium, on charges
either of murder or treason. So wholesale a measure of amnesty affords strong grounds for believing that the previous judgments of the archons had been intolerably harsh ; and it is to be recollected that like Drako. nian ordinances were then in force.—History of Greece, Part II., Chap. 2.
AND CHARACTER OF
ALEXANDER THE GREAT.
Alexander was at the time of his death a little more than thirty-two years old-the age at which a citizen of Athens was growing into important commands ; ten years less than the age for a consul at Rome; two years younger than the age at which Timour first acquired the crown, and began his foreign conquests. His extraordinary bodily powers were unabated; he had acquired a large stock of military experience ; and, what was still more important, his appetite for further conquest was voracious, and his readiness to purchase it at the largest cost of toil or danger as complete as it had been when he first crossed the Hellespont. Great as his past career had been, his future achievements, with such increased means and experience, were likely to be yet greater. His ambition would have been satisfied with nothing less than the conquest of the whole habit. able world as then known; and if his life had been prolonged, he would probably have accomplished it. The patriotic feelings of Livy disposed him to maintain that Alexander, had he invaded Italy, would have failed, and perished like his relative, Alexander of Epirus. But this conclusion cannot be accepted. If we grant the courage and discipline of the Roman infantry to have been equal to the best infantry of Alexander's army, the same cannot be said of Roman cavalry as compared with the Macedonian Companions. Still less is it likely that a Roman consul, annually changed, would have been found a match for Alexander in military genius and combinations ; nor even, if personally equal, would he have possessed the same variety of troops and arms, each effective in its separate way, and all conspiring to one common purpose ; nor the same unbounded influence over their minds in stimulating them to full effort. I