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ΤΗΛΟΘΕΝ ΕΚ ΛΥΚΙΗΣ, ΞΑΝΘΟΥ ΑΠΟ ΔΙΝΗΕΝΤΟΣ,
THE NEREID MONUMENT.
N the course of a review of the relics and records of
ancient Lycia, the heterogeneousness of the elements that encountered within its boundaries is very striking;even more so, the compact nationality that was compatible with,—if it did not result from,-their mutual influences and reactions.
That this country should have rapidly become populous and highly civilized is not surprising; its natural fertility, advantageous position, and peculiarly defensible character coming in to the assistance of the energetic organism of ancient society: but much must still be ascribed to peculiar happiness in the original constitution of the people, to enable us to account for the unusual harmony with which parts so various, blended and combined into an operative whole. The depth can no more be mistaken than the diversity, of the influences that Lycia was subjected to, by early relations to Argos and Attica, Crete and Troy, not to insist on indications that suggest Etrurian analogies westward, and Persian, Assyrian, and Phoenician to the
east; yet every record that is recovered, every combination that is established, illustrates and confirms the independence,—the national personality of the country and its civilization.
Within no other equal space in Asia Minor, are the remains that indicate past wealth and populousness, more striking and abundant than in Lycia, and not elsewhere are preserved such types of peculiarity in character of Cyclopean works, forms of tomb and sarcophagus, and remains of language,-no where else occur in combination so close, and within such narrow limits, analogies so diverse and of date so ancient, to the mythology and manners of other countries. Lycia thus, which presents so much that is peculiarly its own, presents nothing more so than the extent of its original combination of materials, borrowed, and from all quarters; and the development of this assimilative characteristic here is the more interesting, as implying that it obtained to a considerable extent,—at a certain period at least, or under certain circumstances,with populations of first historical influence, Mede, Persian, and Greek, with whom the Lycians came early into relation.
Among these diversified combinations of the symbolism and antiquities of the country, Greek elements are still most salient, as well as chiefly attractive; and so far their predominance in such strange conjunctions, simply considered, might probably have led to the conclusion that Greek colonizers of Lycia had received from some Asian precursors or indigenæ, a stimulus and impression of unusual energy,-betrayed by traces too characteristic to be ascribed to a mere local development, even of the versatile
mind of the Greek. To argue more might, on the assumed grounds, have appeared hazardous; but the discovery and, to a certain extent, identification of the Lycian language, -a branch of Indo-Germanic indeed, but more remote from Greek than Zend, leads us confidently and far beyond.* This displays how alien was the race with which the Greek came into connection in Lycia; and the extent and circumstances of its occurrence, on coins, tombs, and public monuments, witness how wide and permanent was its diffusion, and vindicate the terms by which Herodotus indicates the distinctly non-Hellenic character and manners, of the Lycians of his own time.
We have thus before us, evidence of the reception of a deep and decided tinge of Hellenism, by a race entirely unallied; a phenomenon of the highest interest, that vindicates at once much that was otherwise most improbable, in the Homeric and mythic representations of the primitive intercourse of Greece and Asia; and that must render the archæology of Lycia a chief authority, a capital instance, in all future attempts to recover literal statements of facts, out of the legends preserved by the Greeks of their earliest foreign relations.
The traces of this combination in the Lycian remains are indeed, as compared with Homer, of late date; but Homer, as we shall have occasion to see, presents a picture of Lycia, that corresponds precisely in the association of Greek and Asian characteristics, with that exhibited in the monuments. The combination therefore existed in his age, and still farther, its origin was even then so remote as to
* V. Sharpe's Appendix to Fellows' Lycia.
be blended with legends that, in their obscurity and complex character, bear marks of the altering and modifying influences of long ages of tradition.
The elucidation of the composition of Homeric Lycia, throws light on that of Troy that has ever been an enigma. After every allowance made for Greek modes of representing foreign character, and for the unscrupulous liberties of the poetic sense of keeping, as explanatory of the great resemblance between the Greeks and Trojans of the Iliad, there still was felt to remain an unexplained phenomenon. Lycia solves the difficulty of reconciling the Greek characteristics of the Troad and Trojans, with their Asiatic and Thracian relationship, by exhibiting the possibility of a case, that seems to have appeared too hopeless even for statement as an hypothesis, the superinduction of Greek habits and worships on a people neither Hellenic nor Pelasgian,— purely barbarian.
Thucydides had long ago remarked, that the later distinction between Greek and Barbarian was not apparent in Homer's delineation of Achaian and Trojan, and cited illustrations of the progress of the separation. But these examples gave no information how great were still the differences, in defiance of which so much sympathy and communication were practicable, and went little way to characterize the period as it must now be conceived. A period is to be inferred when, within whatever limits,— attraction was as much the rule between Greek and Barbarian, as was repulsion afterwards; an age of mutual receptiveness and transfusion, in striking contrast to the antagonism that succeeded it.
The illustration of the fact of such an era, is here rather
our business, than speculation on the causes that induced it or brought it to an end. It is enough that there is no lack of causes, that in themselves would be adequate to the results. Such combinations have been easily brought about at an era of mutual harmony—a point, however transient, of coincident civil development between alien races, by the sympathies, alliances, and common interests of princes and aristocracies, or by the activity and enterprise of a race of unbounded plasticity, because of limitless adventurousness. The transfusion of German maxims and habits through the courts of Europe, may serve for some illustration of these indirect influences; a better may be found in the history of the Normans, and the changes they wrought, as well as those they were the subjects of, in France, England, Apulia, and Sicily,-only defective from the disappearance of the race from an original seat where, as in the case of the Greeks, the more pure race might be brought into comparison with the modified and blended instances. There is nothing in the wildest legend of that spirit of adventure, by which the Hellenic race was, according to Herodotus, distinguished from the Pelasgic, that does not find its historical parallel in the authentic story of the Norman aristocracy.*
But the age of Greek and Barbarian plasticity (failing a better word), thus evidenced and illustrated by the cha
* The just admiration of the qualities of the Anglo-Saxon race has latterly so nearly degenerated into cant, that it is difficult to pass over any opportunity of noticing that the history of that race, after the Norman conquest, exhibits the same change that occurs with an undisciplined and disorderly rabble on becoming organized and officered.