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Sardis. He was received on his arrival with the kindest hospitality, and entertained in the palace of Creesus. In a few days, the king directed his servants to attend Solon to the different repositories of his wealth, and to shew him their splendid and valuable contents. When he had observed them all, Creesus thus addressed him:—“My Athenian guest, the voice of fame speaks loudly of your wisdom. I have heard much of your travels; that you have been led by a truly philosophic spirit, to visit a considerable portion of the globe. I am hence induced to enquire of you, what man, of all whom you have beheld, seemed to you most happy?” The expectation of being himself
See Juvenal, Sat. x. verse 273*. See Ausonius also, and Ovidt. The dying speech of Julian, as given by Mr. Gibbon, from Libanius, (vol, iv. p. 200, octavo edition) contains many sentiments similar to these of Solon. “I have learned," says Julian, “ from religion, that an early death has often been the reward of piety." Upon which, after commending this story of Cleobis and Bito, in Herodotus, our English historian adds, “ Yet the Jupiter (in the 16th Book of the Iliad) who laments with tears of blood the death of Sarpedon his son, had a very imperfect notion of happiness or glory beyond the grave.” Pausanias relates, that this history is represented in a marble monument at Argos.-T. ..
- - - - - I pass in silence by
Or take the name of HAPPY, till he died.—GIFFORD. +- - - - - - Ultima semper
Expectanda dies homini, dicique beatus :
esteemed the happiest of mankind, prompted his enquiry. Solon proved by his reply, his attachment to truth, and abhorrence of flattery* “I think,” said he, “ ( king, that Tellus the Athenian best deserved the appellation of happy." Croesus was astonished; “ On what,” he asked, “ were the claims of Tellus, to this distinction, founded?” “Because," answered Solon, “ under the protection of a most excellent form of government, Tellus had many virtuous and amiable children; he saw their offspring, and they all survived him: at the close of a prosperous life, we celebrated his funeral, with every circumstance of honour. In a contest with some of their neighbours, at Eleusis, he flew to the assistance of his countrymen: he contributed to the defeat of the enemy, and met death in the field of glory. The Athenians publicly buried him in the place where
* There is an admirable paper in the Spectator upon this subject, which thus concludes:
“We should not be led away by the censures and applauses of men, but consider the figure that every person will make at that time when wisdom shall be justified of her children, and nothing pass for great or illustrious, which is not an ornament and perfection to human nature.
The story of Gyges, the rich Lydian monarch, is a me. morable instance to our present purpose. The oracle being asked by Gyges, who was the happiest man, replied Aglaus. Gyges, who expected to have heard himself named on this occasion, was much surprised, and very curious to know who this Aglaus should be. After much enquiry, he was found to be an obscure countryman, who employed all his time in cultivating a garden and a few acres of land about his house, --Spectator, No.610.
he fell; and his funeral pomp was magnificently.. attended.”
XXXI. Solon was continuing to make respectful mention of Tellus, when Crosus anxiously interrupted him, and desired to know, whom, next to Tellus, he esteemed most happy; not doubting but the answer would now be favourable to himself. “Cleobis and Bito," replied Solon: “ they were Argives by birth, fortunate in their circumstances, and so remarkable for their bodily prowess, that they had both of them been crowned as conquerors in their public games. It is further related of them, that on a certain festival of Juno, their mother was to have been carried to the temple in a chariot drawn by oxen. The beasts were not ready 49 for the purpose; but the young men instantly took the yokes upon themselves, and drew their mother in the carriage to the temple, through a space of forty-five furlongs. Having performed this in the presence of innumerable spectators, they terminated their lives in a manner which was singularly fortunate. In this event, the deity made it appear, that death is a greater blessing to mankind, than life. The surrounding
49 The beasts were not ready.]-Servius, in his commentaries.on Virgil, says, that the want of oxen, on this occasion, was on account of a pestilential malady, which had destroyed all the cattle belonging to Argos.-Servius ad Virgil. Georg. lib. iii. 522.
multitude proclaimed their praise : the men commended their prowess: the women envied their mother; who was delighted with the deed itself, and the glory which attended it. Standing before the shrine, she implored the divinity, in whose honour her sons' exertions had been made, to grant them the greatest blessing man could receive. After her prayers, and when the succeeding sacrifice and festival was ended, the young men retired to rest within the temple; but they rose no more. The Argives have preserved at Delphi, the figures of Cleobis and Bito, as of men deserving superior distinction. This, according to Solon's estimate, was happiness in the second degree.
XXXII. Cróesus was still dissatisfied : “ Man of Athens,” he resumed, “think you so meanly of my prosperity, as to place me even beneath men of private and obscure condition?” “ Creesus,” he replied, “you enquire of me my sentiments of human nature; of me, who consider the divine beings as viewing men with invidious and malignant aspects so. In the space of a protracted life, how many things occur, which we see with reluc
50 With invidious and malignant aspects.—This is one of the passages in which the malignity of Herodotus, according to Plutarch, is most conspicuous. Thus, says Plutarch, attributing to Solon what he himself thinks of the gods, he adds malice to blasphemy.-T.
tance and support with anguish*. I will suppose the term of human life to extend to seventy yearss"; this period, if we except the intercalatory months, will amount to twenty-five thousand two hundred days : to make our computation regular and exact, suppose we add this month to each alternate year, we shall then have thirty-five additional months, or one thousand two hundred and fifty days. The whole seventy years will therefore consist of twenty-six thousand two hundred and
* Alas! regardless of their doom
The little victims play;
Nor care beyond to-day.
And black misfortune's baleful train;
To seize their prey, the murderous band :
. Gray. 51 The term of human life to extend to seventy years,&c.]—This passage is confessedly one of the most difficult in Herodotus. Larcher has a long and ingenious note upon the subject, which I have omitted; as well from its extreme length, as from its not being intirely consistent with my plan. It is not unworthy observation, that Stobæus, who has given this discourse of Soloi, omits altogether the passage in question; and, indeed, Larcher himself is of opinion, that the original text of Herodotus has been here altered.-T.*
* To seventy years.]See Psalm xc. verse 10.
“ The days of our age are threescore years and ten; and though men be so strong that they come to fourscore years, yet is their strength then but labour and sorrow; so soon passeth it away, and we are gone."