Page images
PDF
EPUB

II.

GRECIAN HISTORY,

FROM

THE EARLIEST STATE,

TO THE

ĐEATH OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT.

BY DR. GOLDSMITI.

TWO VOLUMES IN ONEVOL. 1.

HALLOWELL:
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY S. K. GILMAN,

No. 5, KENNEBEC Row.

1818.

+625312 KD 6470% PRVARO COLLEGE

( APR 25 1888

LIBRARY

John Mootorice Treat

jos,

THE HISTORY

OF
GREECE

CHAPTER I.

OF THE EARLIEST STATE OF GREECE,

I HE first notices we have of every country are fabulous and uncertain. Among an unenlightened people every imposture is likely to take place, for ignorance is the parent of credulity. Nothing therefore which the Greeks have. transmitted to us concerning their earliest state can be reli. ed on. Poets were the first who began to record the actions of their countrymen, and it is a part of their art to strike the imagination even at the expense of probability. For this reason, in the earliest accounts of Greece, we are presented with the machinations of gods and demi-gods, the adventures of heroes and giants, the ravages of monsters and dragons, and all the potency of charms and enchantments. Man, plain historical man, seems to have no share in the picture, and while the reader wanders through the most delightful scenes the imagination can offer, he is scarce once presented with the actions of such a being as himself..

It would be vain therefore, and beside the present purpose, to give an historical air to accounts which were never meant to be transmitted as true. Some writers indeed bare laboriously undertaken to separate the truth from the fable, and to give us an unbroken narrative from the first dawning of tradition to the display of undoubted history; they have levelled down all mythology to their own apprehensions : every fable is made to look with an air of probability. Instead of a golden fleece, Jason goes in pursuit of a great treasure; instead of destroying a chimera, Bellerophon reclaims a mountain ; instead of an bydra, Hercules overcoines a robber.

Thus the fanciful pictures of a strong imagination are taught to assume a serious severity, and tend to deceive the reader still more, by offering, in the garb of truth, what had been only meant to delight and allure him...

The fabulous age, therefore, of Greece must have no place in history. It is now too late to separate those parts which may have a real foundation in nature from those which owe their existence wholly to the imagination. There are no traces left, to guide us in that intricate pursuit. The dews of the morning are past, and it is in vain to attempt continwing the chase in meridian splendor. It will be sufficient, therefore, for us to observe, that Greece, like most other countries, of whose origin we have any notice, was at first divided into a number of petty states, each commanded by its own sovereign. Ancient Greece, which is now the south part of Turkey in Europe, is bounded on the east by the Egean sea, now called the Archipelago; on the south, by the Cretan or Candian sea; on the west by the Ionian sea, and on the north by Illyria and Thrace. Of sach very pafrow extent, and so very contemptible with regard to territory was that country which gave birth to all the arts of war and peace; which produced the greatest generals, philosophers, poets, painters, architects and statuaries that the world ever boast, ed; which overcame the most powerful monarchs, and dispersed the most numerous armies that ever were brought into the field, and at last became the instructor of all mankind. · It is said in Scripture that Javan, the son of Japheth, was the father of all these nations that went under the general denomination of Greeks. Of his four sons, Elisha, or Elias, is said to have given name to the Hellenes, a general name by which the Greeks were known. Tharsis, the second son, is thought to have settled in Achaia; Chittim settled in Mace. donia; and Dudanim, the fourth son, in Thessaly in Epirus, How they portioned out the country, what revolutions they experienced, or what wars they maintained, are utterly unkdown. And indeed the bistory of petty barbarous states, if known, would hardly recompense the trouble of inquiry. In those early times, kingdoms were but inconsiderable : a single city, with a few leagues of land, was often honored with that magnificient appellation ; it would therefore embarrass history to enter into the domestic privacy of every little state, as it would be rather a subject for the economist than the politician. It will suffice to observe, that Sicyon is said to have been the most ancient kingdom of Greece. The begianing of this petty sovereignty is placed by historians in

the year of the world one thousand nine hundred and fifteen; before Jesus Christ two thousand eighty-nine, and before the first Olympiad, one thousand three hundred and thirteen. The first king was Ægialeus. Its duration is said to have been a thousand years. 3.5 od 36

The kingdom of Argos, in Peloponnesus, began a m thousand and eighty years before the first Olympiad,

ind A. M. in the time of Abraham. The first king was Inachus. *130:

The kingdom of Mycænæ succeeded. The seat of gov. ernment was translated thither from Argos by Perseus, the grandson of Acrisius, the last king of that country, whom Perseus unfortunately slew. The kings who reigned at Mycænæ after Perseus, were Electryon, Sthenelus, and Eurystheus; the latter of whom was driven out by the Heraclidæ, or the descendants of Hercules, who made themselves masters of Peloponnesus.

F ollow The kingdom of Athens was first founded by Ce m crops, an Egyptian. This prince, having settled in Attica, divided the whole country subject to him into **40. twelve districts, and also established a court for judging causes, entitled the Areopagus. Amphyction, the third king of Athens, procured a confederacy among the twelve states of Greece, which assembled twice a year at Thermopylæ, there to offer up common sacrifices, and to consult for the common interests of the association. Theseus, one of the succeeding kings of this state, united the twelve boroughs of Cecrops into one city. Codrus was the last of this line : he devoted himself to death for his people. The Heraclidae having made an irruption as far as the gates of Athens, the oracle declared, that they should be conquerers whose king should fall in this contest. To take the earliest advantage, therefore, of this answer, Codrus disguised himself in the habit of a peasant, and provoking one of the enemy's soldiers, was killed by him. Whereupon, the Athenians sent a herald to demand the body of their king, which message struck such a damp into the enemy, that they departed without striking another blow. After Codrus, the title of king was extinguished among the Athenians. Medon, his son, was set at the head of the commonwealth, with the title of Archon, which signifies chief governor. The first of this de nomination had their places for life, but the Athenians growing weary of a government which represt their love of free

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »