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IT is in the lands of Thessaly and Epirus that we first dimly descry the Greeks busy at the task for which destiny had chosen them, of creating and shaping the thought and civilizations of Europe. The oakwood of Dodona in Epirus is the earliest sanctuary, whereof we have any knowledge, of their supreme god, Zeus, the dweller of the sky. Thessaly has associations which still appeal intimately to men of European birth. The first Greek settlers in Thessaly were the Achaeans; and in the plain of Argos, and in the mountains which gird it about, they fashioned legends which were to sink deeply into the imagination of Europe. Here they peopled Olympus, under whose shadow they dwelled, with divine inhabitants, so that it has become for ever the heavenly hill in the tongues of men. And here their bards must have sung hexameter lays; though that marvellous metre was not brought to perfection till folk and legends had passed eastward overseas to another land. The invention of the hexameter was one of the most brilliant strokes of Greek genius. Perhaps it was invented by the Achaeans; no other people at least has so good a claim. We may be sure that hexameter lays were sung in the halls of the lords of northern Argos, and it is from minstrels who sang at the banquets of their descendants in a new home that we gain our earliest picture of those ancient Aryan institutions which are common to the Greeks and ourselves.

The history of the Greeks should begin with a picture of the life of these first conquerors of northern Greece. We would fain see them at work as they forged the legends, and made the songs, which became the groundwork of the national religion and national literature of their race. We would fain go back still further and visit them in their older, unknown and forgotten home among the mountains of Illyria. But these chapters of the story are lost; we can only guess at them from the results. On the other hand, we know that when the Greek conquerors came down to the coasts of the Aegean the found a material civilizations more advanced than their own ; and it has so chanced that we know more of this civilizations than we know of the conquerors before they came under its influence.


Sect. 1. EARLY AEGEAN CIVILIZATION (3rd millennium B.C.)

In Greece, as in the other two great peninsulas of the Mediterranean, we find, before the invader of Aryan speech entered in and took possession, a white folk not speaking an Aryan tongue. Corresponding to the Iberians in Spain and Gaul, to the Ligurians in Italy, we find in Greece a race which was also spread over the islands of the Aegean and along the coast of Asia Minor. The men of this primeval race gave to many a hill and rock the name which was to abide with it for ever. Corinth and Tiryns, Parnassus and Olympus, Arne and Larisa, are names which the Greeks received from the peoples whom they dispossessed. But this Aegean race, as we may call it for want of a common name, had developed, before the coming of the Greek, a civilizations of which we have only very lately come to know. This civilizations went hand in hand with an active trade, which in the third millennium spread its influence far beyond the borders of the Aegean, as far at least as the Danube and the Nile, and received in return gifts from all quarters of the world. Ivory came from the south, copper from the east, silver and tin from the far west, amber from the regions of the north. The Aegean peoples therefore plied a busy trade by sea, and their maritime intercourse with the African continent can be traced back to even earlier times, since at the very beginning of Egyptian history we find in Egypt obsidian, which can have come only from the Aegean isles. The most notable remains of this civilizations have been found at Troy, in the little island of Amorgos, and in the great island of Crete.

At the time when the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty were reigning in Egypt, Crete was a land of flourishing communities and was about to become, if it had not already become, a considerable sea power. It was now fulfilling, more fully than it was to fulfill in future ages, the role which geography might seem to have imposed upon it, of forming a link between eastern Europe and the African continent. The intercourse of Crete with Libya was more than a mere interchange of wares, or the goings and comings of merchants. It would seem that men from Crete made settlements on the African coast, and that men from Libya took up their abode in the Aegean island. The Libyans and Cretans may have been bound together by a remote brotherhood of race, whereof neither could be conscious; at all events, wherever the Libyans settled they were soon amalgamated and became one race with the native Cretans.

But there seems to have been an inflow of settlers from the north as well as from the south. The Phrygians, a race of Aryan speech, which had planted itself in the south-eastern corner of Europe along with their brethren the Thracians, were already passing across the Hellespont into the north-western corner of Asia. And some of them seem to have ventured still farther south. They ventured to Crete; it is possible that they ventured to Greece, and perhaps to Africa. In Crete they left memorials of their settlement by such local names as Ida and Pergamon; but they too, like the Libyans, seem to have amalgamated with the natives. Thus by the beginning of the second millennium Crete was already an island of mixed population. Phrygian and Libyan elements were blended with the original Cretan stock; only in the eastern corner there was no mixture, and the pure-blooded natives of this region were distinguished in later times as the True Cretans.

The Cretans hold a distinct place in the history of civilizations by inventing the first method  of writing that was ever practiced in Europe. We find indeed that two modes of writing were used in the island in the third millennium. One of these was a system of picture-writing, in which every word was represented by a hieroglyph; and this system seems to have been used by the original inhabitants. The other was in use throughout the whole island, and it was not entirely of native origin. It consisted of linear signs, of which each probably denoted a syllable; and, although some of these signs may have been indigenous, the system was certainly improved and supplemented by symbols borrowed from Libya and Egypt. The influence of Egypt made itself felt in the ceremonies of religion as well as in the art of writing; and a table of drink-offerings, which was discovered in the Dictaean cave—afterwards associated with Zeus,—copied from similar Egyptian tables and inscribed with Cretan writing, is a striking proof at once of the intercourse of Crete with Egypt, and of the use of writing within the borders of Europe, in the third millennium.

In the same period, at the other extremity of the Aegean, near the southern shore of the Hellespont, a  great city flourished on the hill of Troy. It was not the first city that had been reared on that illustrious hill, which rises to the height of about 160 feet, not far from the banks of the Scamander. The earliest settlement, fortified by a rude wall of unwrought stone, can still be traced; and some of its primitive earthware and stone implements have been found. An axe-head of white nephrite seems to show that in those remote days there was a line of traffic, however slow and uncertain, between China and the Mediterranean; for this white jade has been found only in China. On the ruins of this primeval city arose a great fortress, girt with a wall of sun-baked brick, built on strong stone foundations. There were three gates, and the angles of the walls were protected by towers. The inhabitants of this city lived in the stone and copper age bronze was still a rarity. Their pottery was chiefly hand-made. The art of the goldsmith bad advanced far, if a treasure of golden ornaments really belongs is settlement, as would seem to be the case from the place of its discovery, and was native work. But the most important point to be noted is the outline of the palace in this ancient city. Here at the very outset of Aegean civilizations we find the general plan of the main part of the house exactly the same as that which is described, perhaps fifteen hundred years later, in the poems of Homer. From an outer gate we pass through a courtyard, in which an altar stood, into a square preliminary chamber; and from it we enter the great hall, in the centre of which was the hearth.

It is possible that the people of the oldest city, it is extremely probable that the people of the great city, were Phrygians, who had crossed over from Europe. We cannot tell how long this city flourished; but the absence of bronze implements makes it improbable that it endured much later than the beginning of the second millennium. An enemy's hand destroyed it by fire; and its fall may supply an explanation for early Phrygian settlements in Crete; the men who lost their homes in the Trojan land might have gone over the sea seeking new abodes.




Dynasties fell and rose in the land of the Nile; three cities were reared and perished on the ruins of the great brick city of Troy; tin came in larger abundance from the far-off west, and the folk of the Aegean islands were able to give up the old tools of stone, as bronze became plentiful and cheap; potters grew more skillful in mixing their clay, in using their wheel, in decorating their wares; and at the end of six or seven hundred years we find an advanced civilizations in possession of the Aegean. The shiftings and changes which may have taken place during that long period—invasions, or displacements in the centres of power and trade—are quite withdrawn from our vision  but about the middle of the second millennium we find this civilizations in full bloom on the eastern side of the Peloponnesus. Its records are, the monuments of stone which have remained for more than three thousand years above the face of the earth or have been brought to light by the spade; and the objects of daily use and luxury which were placed in the houses of the dead and have been unearthed, chiefly in our days, by the curiosity of Europeans seeking the origins of their own civilizations.

Nowhere have more abundant and significant records been found than in the plain of southern Argos,—at Mycenae, which keeps guard in the mountains at the northern end of the plain, and at Tiryns, its lowlier fellow close to the sea. The richest and strongest city on the coasts of the Aegean seems at this time to have been Mycenae; the memory of its wealth survived in the epithet “golden” which distinguishes it in the Homeric poems. For want of an exact term, the whole civilizations to which Mycenae’s greatness belongs has been called Mycenaean.

Tiryns was the older of the two fortresses, and had played its part in the earlier epoch before the Aegean peoples had yet emerged from the stone age. It stands on a long low rock about a mile and a half from the sea, and the land around it was once a marsh. From north to south the hill rises in height, and was shaped by man’s hand into three platforms, of which the southern and highest was occupied by the palace of the king. But the whole acropolis was strongly walled round by a structure of massive stones, laid in regular layers but rudely dressed, the crevices being filled with a mortar of clay. This fashion of building has been called Cyclopean from the legend that masons called Cyclopes were invited from Lycia to build the walls of Tiryns. The main gate of entrance, on the east side, was approached by a passage between the outer wall of the fortress and the wall of the palace; and the right, unshielded side of an enemy advancing to the gate was exposed to the defenders on the castle wall. On the west side there was a postern, from which a long flight of stone steps led up to the back part of the palace. But one curious feature in the castle of Tiryns sets it apart from all the other ancient fortresses of Greece. On the south side the wall deepens for the purpose of containing store-chambers, the doors of which open out upon covered galleries, also built inside the wall, and furnished with windows looking outward.

The stronghold of Mycenae, about twelve miles inland, at the north-eastern end of the Argive plain, was built on a hill which rises to 900 feet above the sea-level in a mountain glen. The shape of the citadel is a triangle, and the greater part of the wall is built in the same “Cyclopean” style as the wall of Tiryns, but of smaller stones. Another fashion of architecture, however, also occurs, and points to a later date than Tiryns. The gates and some of the towers are built of even layers of stones carefully hewn into rectangular shape. No store-rooms or galleries like those of Tiryns have been found at Mycenae; but on the north-east side a vaulted stone passage in the wall led by a downward subterranean path to the foot of the hill, where a cistern was supplied from a perennial spring outside the walls. Thus the garrison was furnished with water in case of a siege. Mycenae had two gates. The chief was on the west, ensconced in a corner of the wall which at this point running in south-eastward then turned outward due west, and thus enclosed and commanded the approach to the gate. The lintel of the doorway is formed by one huge square block of stone, and the weight of the wall resting on it is lightened by the device of leaving a triangular space. This opening is filled by a sculptured stone relief representing two lionesses standing opposite each other on either side of a pillar, on whose pedestal their forepaws rest. They are, as it were, watchers who ward the castle, and from them the gate is known as the Lion gate.

The ruins on the hill of Tiryns enable us to trace the plan of the palace of its kings. One chief principle of the construction of the palaces of this age seems to have been the separation of the dwelling-house of the women from that of the men—a principle which continued to prevail in Greek domestic architecture in historical times. But the striking characteristic of Tiryns is that, while the halls of the king and the halls of the queen are built side by Side in the centre of the palace, there is no direct communication between them, and they have different approaches. The halls of king and queen alike are built on the same general plan as the palace in the old brick city on the hill of Troy and the palaces which are described in the poems of Homer. An altar stood in the men's courtyard which was enclosed by pillared porticoes; the portico which faced the gate being the vestibule of the house. Double-leafed doors opened from the vestibule into a preliminary hall, from which one passed through a curtained doorway over a great stone threshold into the men's hall. In the midst of it was the round hearth—the centre of the house—encircled by four wooden pillars which supported the flat roof.

The palace of Mycenae crowned the highest part of the hill, and its plan, though it cannot be traced so clearly or fully, was in general conception, and in many details, alike. The hearth, of which part remains, was ornamented by spiral and triangular patterns in red, blue, and white. The floors of the covered rooms were made of fine cement; and in the open courts the cement was hardened by small pebbles. Sometimes the floors were brightened with coloured patterns. It was customary to embellish the walls by inlet sculptured friezes and by paintings. A brilliant alabaster frieze, inset with cyanus or paste of blue glass, decorated the vestibule of the hall at Tiryns, and the men's halls in both palaces were adorned with mural pictures.

Besides their castle and palace, the burying-places of the kings of Mycenae are their most striking memorials. The men with whom we are now dealing bestowed their dead in tombs; there is no trace of the practice of burning corpses. At one time the lords of the citadel and their families were buried on the castle hill. Close to the western wall, south of the Lion gate, the royal burial circle has been discovered, within which six tombs cut vertically into the rock had remained untouched by the hand of man since the last corpses were placed in them. Weapons were buried with the men, some of whose faces were covered with gold masks. The heads of the women were decked with gold diadems; rich ornaments and things of house­hold use were placed beside them. There was a stele or sepulchral stone over each tomb, and some of these slabs were sculptured.

But a day came when this simple kind of grave was no longer royal enough for the rich princes of Mycenae, and they sought more imposing resting-places; or else, as some believe, they were overthrown by lords of another race who brought with them a new fashion of sepulchre. Nine sepulchral domes, hewn in the opposite hillside, have been found not far from the Acropolis. The largest of them is generally known as the “Treasury of Atreus”, a name which arose from a false idea as to its purpose. These tombs, which are found, as we shall see, in other places in Greece, consist of three parts—the passage of approach, the portal, and the dome. A stone causeway leads up to the portal which admits into a round vaulted chamber built into the hollowed slope of a hill; and in some tombs (but this is exceptional) there is also a square side-chamber. The portal of the Treasury of Atreus had a striking facade, being clad with slabs of coloured marble and framed by dark grey alabaster pillars with zigzag and spiral patterns and carved capitals. The two massive lintel-stones were relieved by the same device which was adopted in the architecture of the Lion gate, and the triangle was filled by red porphyry. The vaulted room of beehive shape is formed by rings of well-joined and well-chiselled stones, which grow narrower as they rise, and a roof-stone. The walls were adorned with bronze rosettes arranged in some pattern. A door, similar to that of the portal and framed with pillars, admits to the side-chamber, which is hewn into the rock; its walls were decorated with sculptured alabaster plates. The doorway of another tomb was framed by two alabaster columns, fluted like the columns of a Doric temple.

But besides the stately burying-places of the kings, the humbler tombs of the people have been discovered. The town of Mycenae below the citadel consisted of a group of villages, each of which preserved its separate identity; each had its own burying-ground. Thus Mycenae, and probably other towns of the age, represented an intermediate stage between the village and the city—a number of little communities gathered together in one place, and dominated by a fortress. The tombs in these village burying-grounds resemble in plan the royal vaults. They are square chambers cut into the rock; they are approached by a passage which leads up to a doorway. The difference is that they are not round and have gabled roofs. Some of the things found in these sepulchers indicate that most of them are of later date than the royal tombs of the citadel and contem­porary with the vaulted tombs below.

We have seen how in the royal graves on the castle hill treasures of gold, long hidden from the light of day, revealed the wealth of the Mycenaean kingdom. Treasures would perhaps have been found also in some of the great vaulted tombs if they had not been rifled by plunderers in subsequent ages. But for us the works of the potter, and the implements of war and peace fashioned by the bronze-smith, are of more value than the golden ornaments for studying from these early civilizations; and things of daily use have been found in the lowlier rock-tombs as well as in the royal sepulchers of hill or plain. From the implements which the people used, and also from the representa­tions which artists wrought, we can win a rough picture of their dress, armor, and ornaments, and form an idea of their capacity in art.

Their civilizations belonged to the age of bronze and copper. Even in its later period iron was still so rare and costly that it was used only for ornaments—rings, for instance, and possibly for money. And in its earlier period, the stone age had not been quite forgotten; obsidian was still employed for the heads of arrows. But, in general, bronze was used in Greece for all implements throughout this age. The arms with which the men of Mycenae attacked their foes were sword, spear, and bow. Their defensive armor consisted of huge helmets, probably made of leather; shields of ox-hide reaching from the neck almost to the feet—complete towers of defense, but so clumsy that it was the chief part of a military education to manage them. The princes went forth to war in two-horsed war chariots, which consisted of a board to stand on and a breastwork of wicker. The fragment of a silver vessel (found in one of the rock-tombs of Mycenae) shows us a scene of battle in front of the walls of a mountain city, from whose battlements women, watching the fight, are waving their hands. Among the pottery discovered at Mycenae there is a large jar, on one side of which we see a woman looking after six warriors marching forth to battle armed from head to foot, and on the other, less clearly, men engaged in battle—black-brown figures on a yellow ground. On gems and seal-stones we also find representations of armed men. One of the most striking pictures of the warriors of this age is a group of five spearmen on a painted gravestone.

Men wore long hair, not, however, flowing freely, but tied or plaited in tresses. In old times they let the beard grow both on lip and chin; but the fashion changed, and in the later period, as we see from their pictures, they shaved the upper lip, and razors have been found in the tombs. Their garments were simple, a loin apron and a cloak fastened by a clasp-pin; in later times, a close-fitting tunic. High-born dames wore tight bodices and wide gown-skirts. Frontlets or bands round the brow were a distinction of their attire, and they wore their hair high coiled in rings, letting the ends fall behind. The ornaments which have been found in the royal tombs show that the queens of Mycenae appeared in glittering gold array. There is some reason to think that women tattooed their faces.

In the foregoing sketch it has been implied that some monuments are later in date than others. Thus the vaulted sepulchers of the plain have been spoken of as subsequent to the shaft sepulchers on the castle hill of Mycenae. The chief means of establishing a basis for this relative chronology is the development of the potter’s art, and the “Mycenaean” pottery therefore concerns us in so far as it has given a clue for fixing the earlier and later epochs of the civilizations which produced it.

The painted vessels of the second millennium fall into two general classes, unglazed and glazed. The unglazed, ornamented chiefly with lines and spirals, were older, and, when the glazed style attained its perfection, went almost entirely out of use. In the varnished jars, the development of the handicraft from the cruder work of the earlier potters can be traced through the best period into an age of decadence, when the Mycenaean comes into competition with other and newer styles. The colour of these vessels, in the best age, is warm, varying from yellow to dark brown, and sometimes burnt into a rich deep red. A new impulse of decoration has come upon the potters. The ornaments are no longer lines and spirals, but vegetables and animals, especially of the sea kingdom, fishes, polypods, seaweeds. On the other hand, sphinxes, griffins, lotus flowers, and other oriental and Egyptian subjects, though common elsewhere in Mycenaean ornament, are hardly ever copied by the workers in clay. The curious  false-necked jars which have no opening above the neck, but a spout at the side, are one of the most characteristic products of the potteries, which we call Mycenaean; though it is not known for certain that Mycenae was itself a centre of the trade.

Other marks for fixing the relative dates of “Mycenaean” troves are stone tools and iron. If, for example, we find in one tomb obsidian spear-heads and no trace of iron, and in another no stone implements but iron rings, it is a safe inference that the first is older than the second. The occurrence of iron is a mark of comparative lateness.

It is by such marks as these that we are able to say that the kings of the shaft graves reigned before the kings who were buried in the vaulted tombs, and that remains which have been found in the island of Thera belong to the beginning of the “Mycenaean age”

The remains at Mycenae and Tiryns are, taken in their entirety, the most impressive of the memorials of a widespread Aegean civilization. Nowhere else in the Peloponnesus have great fortresses or palaces been found; but some large vaulted hill-tombs, on the same plan as those of the Argive plain, mark the existence of ancient princi­palities. The lords of Amyclae, which was the queen of the Laconian vale before the rise of Greek Sparta, hollowed out for themselves a lordly tomb, which, unlike the Treasury of Atreus, was never invaded by robbers. In this vault, among other costly treasures, were found the most precious of all the works of Mycenaean art that have yet been drawn forth from the earth  two golden cups on which a metal-worker of matchless skill has wrought vivid scenes of the snaring and capturing of wild bulls.

In Attica there are many relics. On the Athenian Acropolis there are a few stones supposed to belong to a palace of great antiquity, but we can look with more certainty on some of the ancient foundations of the fortress wall. This wall was called Pelargic or Pelasgic by the Athenians; and it seems likely that the word preserves the name of the ancient inhabitants of the place, the Pelasgoi. But the Pelasgians of Athens were not the only people of the Athenian plain. Towards the northern end of this plain, a vaulted tomb seems to record ancient princes of Acharnae. The lords of Thoricus had tombs of the same fashion; and at Eleusis there is similar evidence. In many other places in Attica graves of this period have been found; at Prasiae a number of remarkable rock-tombs resembling those in the lower town of Mycenae.       

In Thessaly the only important relic yet discovered is a vaulted sepulcher near Pagasae. In Boeotia there are more striking memorials. On the western shores of the great Copaic marsh a people dwelled, whose wealth was proverbial; and their city Orchomenus shared with Mycenae the attribute of “golden” in the Homeric poems. One of their kings built a great sepulchral vault under the hill of the citadel, and later generations took it for a treasury. It approaches, though it does not quite attain to, the size of the Treasure-house of Atreus itself; and it had a second chamber covered by a stone ceiling which was adorned with a curious design in low relief, an arrangement of meandering spirals and fan-shaped leaves bordered by rosettes, producing the effect of a carpet. The same design which decked the burying-place of Orchomenus in stone, was used by the painters of some lord of Tiryns to adorn the walls of his palace; and one is tempted to see both in the ceiling and in the sepulcher itself signs of influence from Argolis. But in any case, the common design of ceiling and painting is borrowed from Egypt, for we find almost the same design on the ceilings of tombs at Egyptian Thebes. The lords of Orchomenus were probably the mightiest lords in Boeotia, but they had neighbours—were they rivals or friends?—in another fastness of the Copaic marsh. While Orchomenus was situated by the western shores, this primeval stronghold was built on a rock rising out of the waters. The ruins of the mighty fortress-walls which girded the edge of the rock are still there, and the foundations of the palace of these island princes; but the name of the place is unknown. To the lords of this nameless castle and to the princes of Orchomenus, the curious habits of their spacious lake were a matter of perpetual concern. The lake or morass which fertilized their land has no river to bear its water to the sea, and its only outlets are underground clefts piercing Mount Ptoon, which rises on its northern banks, a barrier between the lake and the sea. To help the water to reach these passages, men made canals through the lake, and guarded them by fortresses.

Crete shared in the later as in the earlier stages of Aegean civilizations; it too has its fortresses and palaces and beehive tombs, as well as the systems of writing which were its peculiar product. In the Cyclad islands off the Greek coast remains have been found chiefly of the earlier Mycenaean epoch; and their value consists in the light they let in upon the progress of its growth. In Thera, a volcanic upheaval buried and preserved a settlement, of which the excavated houses show us earlier stages of the culture whereof we have seen the bloom in the fortresses of Argolis. In north-eastern Melos a spacious citadel, fortified by a strong wall, has been dug out, on a site which was occupied during a great part of the third millennium, and exhibits the continuity of Aegean civilizations.

At the extreme south-west of the Aegean there was a Mycenaean community at the beginning of the fourteenth century—at   Ialysus in Rhodes. An old burying-place has been dug out, and revealed horizontal rock-graves with the arrangement of avenue, doorway, and four-sided chamber, resembling those of Mycenae. The vases found here belong to the best kind of Mycenaean glazed ware; and the absence of earlier pottery suggests that this stage of civilization had not been reached by a gradual development in the place, but that settlers had brought their civilizations with them.

But of all the cities which shared in the later bloom of Aegean culture, none was greater or destined to be more famous than that which arose on the southern side of the Hellespont, on that hill whereon five cities had already risen and fallen. The new Troy, through whose glory the name of the spot was to become a household word for ever throughout all European lands, was built on the levelled ruins of the older towns. The circuit of the new city was far wider, and within the great wall of well-wrought stone the citadel rose terrace upon terrace to a highest point. On that commanding summit, as at Mycenae, we must presume that the king's palace stood. The houses of which the foundations have been disclosed within the walls have the same simple plan that we saw in the older brick city and in the palaces of Mycenae and Tiryns. The wall was pierced by three or four gates, the chief gate being on the south-east side, guarded by a flanking tower. The builders were more skilful than the masons of the ruder walls of the fortresses of Argolis ; and it is a question whether we are to infer that the foundation of Troy belongs to a later age, or that from the beginning the art of building was more advanced among the Trojans. But if Troy shows superior excellence in military masonry, its civilizations in other ways seems to have been simpler than that of the Argive plain. It imported indeed the glazed Mycenaean wares and was in contact with Aegean civilizations. Its position marks it out as probably an intermediary between the Aegean and the regions of the Danube; just as at the other side Crete was the intermediary between the Aegean and the regions of the Nile. But Troy stands, in a measure, apart from the Mycenaean world; beside it, in contact with it, yet not quite of it, the Trojan civilizations seems the issue of a parallel local development, always in constant relations with the rest of the Aegean, yet pursuing its own path. This was natural; for in speech and race the Trojans stood apart. We know with full certainty who the people of Troy were; we know that they were a Phrygian folk and spoke a tongue akin to our own. The six cities of Troy perhaps correspond to successive waves of the Phrygian immigration from south-eastern Europe into north-western Asia Minor, an immigration which seems to have extended over the third, and early portion of the second, millennium.



Having taken a brief survey of the character and range of the Mycenaean civilizations, we come to inquire whether any evidence exists, amid these chronicles of stone and clay, of gold and bronze, for determining the periods of its rise, bloom, and fall. In the first place, it belongs to the age of bronze. Men had begun to obtain tin in ample quantities from the far west, from the tinfields of Spain and Britain, to mix it with the copper of Cyprus and make the implements which they required sufficiently cheap to be in general use. On the other hand, the iron age had not begun. Iron was still a rare and precious metal, in the later part of the period; it was used for rings, but not yet for weapons. The iron age can hardly have commenced in Greece long before the tenth century; and if we set the beginning of the bronze age at about 2000 B.C., we get the second millennium as a delimitation of the period within which Mycenaean culture flourished and declined.

The volcanic upheaval of the earth’s crust which overwhelmed the islands of Thera and Therasia ought to give us, if geology were an exacter science, a valuable date. We have seen that, when the inhabitants of Thera were surprised by the disaster, the Mycenaean earthware which they used was still in an early stage; and if we knew the time of the eruption we should have an important chronological landmark. The approximate date of 2000 B.C. has been assigned by an explorer, but geologists are not agreed, and they could not dispute the possibility that the eruption may have happened several centuries later.

The art of writing was known to the Cretans, but we can interpret neither their signs nor their language; and so far no written document has been discovered which would be likely, even if we could read it, to help our chronology. But in another land where men had already, for ages past, chronicled their history in a language which does not hide its tale, evidence has been discovered which teaches us in what centuries the potters of the Aegean made their wares and shipped them to distant shores. In the early part of the fifteenth century Mycenaean vases were represented on a wall-painting at Egyptian Thebes. At Gurob, a city which was built in the fifteenth century and destroyed two or three hundred years later, a number of “false-necked” jars imported from the Aegean have been found; and they belong not to the earlier but to the later period of Mycenaean pottery.

But Egyptian evidence is found not only on Egyptian soil, but on both sides of the Aegean. Three pieces of porcelain, one in­scribed with the name, the two others with the “cartouche”, of Amenhotep III of Egypt, and a scarab with the name of his wife, have been found in the chamber-tombs of Mycenae. It is a curious coincidence that a scarab of the same Amenhotep was discovered in the burying-place of Ialysus in Rhodes, while no cartouches or names of other Egyptian monarchs have been found in the regions of the Aegean. The single occurrence of such a scarab in one place might be an unsafe basis for an argu­ment; but the coincidence seems to point to some special epoch of active intercourse between the Aegean and Egypt in this king’s reign. It would follow that in the fifteenth century at latest the period of the chamber-tombs and the vaulted tombs began. Perhaps it was at this time that artists derived from Egypt the idea of the wonderful pattern which they wrought with the chisel at Orchomenus, with the brush at Tiryns. But there is a still earlier testimony to intercourse with Egypt. On an inlaid dagger-blade, found in one of the rock-tombs on the My­cenaean citadel, we see represented a scene from Egyptian life —ichneumons catching ducks in a river which can only be the Nile. The workmanship is Aegean, not Egyptian; but the Aegean artist knew Egypt.

Aegean pottery found its way, as we might expect, to Cyprus as well as to Egypt; and in a tomb found near Salamis imports from Egypt, to which approximate dates can be assigned, have been discovered along with clay vessels from the Aegean. A scarab of Queen Ti and some gold collars which belong to the age of Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV fix the fourteenth century as the date of the grave, and thus reinforce the chronological evidence which has come to light in other places. Another grave of the same burying-ground contains Egyptian ware of the thirteenth century along with Mycenaean jars.

The joint witness of all these independent pieces of evidence proves that the civilizations of which Mycenae was one of the principal centres was flourishing from the fifteenth to the thirteenth centuries.

Such was the world which the Greeks had come to share, and soon to transform, on the borders of the Aegean Sea. It was a world created by folks who belonged to the European race which had been from of old in possession of this corner of the earth.  Their civilizations, it is well to repeat, was simply a continuation and supreme development of that more primitive civilizations of which we caught glimpses before the bronze age began. There is no reason to suppose that these peoples were designated by any common name; there were doubtless many different peoples with different names, which are unknown to us. We know that there were Pelasgians in Thessaly and in Attica; tradition suggests that the Arcadians were Pelas­gians too. But it is probable that all these peoples, both on the mainland of Greece and in the Aegean islands, belonged to the same race—a dark-haired stock—which also included the Mysians, the Lydians, the Carians, perhaps the Leleges, on the coast of Asia Minor. Adventurous speculators in the field of ethnology are inclined to think that this same race was dispersed all over the Mediterranean shores, in Spain and Italy and on the coast of Africa, and that the original centre of dispersion was the region of the Upper Nile.

If we may judge from the ancient names of places, which the Greeks preserved, it would seem that languages closely akin were spoken on both sides of the Aegean and in the isles; the coast-men and highlanders of western Asia Minor called their capes and hills and streams by names which resemble in root and formation those which we find on the coast and in the highlands of Greece, and in islands of the intermediate sea. But the strange thing is that the diffusion of the civilizations which we have been examining stopped short at the margin of the Asiatic shore. It extended to Rhodes, and to the small islands north and south of Rhodes, but it did not, until the days of its decline, touch the opposite continent. It is a fact of importance that Lydia, Caria, and Lycia lay outside the Mycenaean world, notwithstanding the affinities of race which bound the inhabitants of those countries to the folks of the Aegean islands and Greece. South of Troy, which stood quite by itself, there are no palaces or fortresses of the Mycenaean age along the east Aegean coast, nor in the large islands of Lesbos, Chios, and Samos. None, at least, have as yet been found. The relics even of commerce with the western Aegean, though one would expect such commerce to have been brisk and constant, are few and rare. There was therefore an obstinate resistance on the part of the inhabitants of these regions to the reception of the Aegean civilizations. The people who held the whole seaboard from the Maeander to the borders of Lycia were the Leleges. At this period there was no maritime Caria; it was not till a later period that the Carians came down from the highlands and confined the Leleges to a small corner of their land.

There seems little doubt that this prehistoric Aegean world was composed of many small states. Of the relation of these states to one another, of the political events of the period, we know almost nothing, and we can guess little; for the records of stone and bronze and gold cannot be interpreted without some clue. A few facts which seem to emerge, partly from archaeological evidence, partly from tradition, partly from hints in a pictured chronicle of Egypt, furnish us with historical problems rather than with historical information.

The eminent position of “golden” Mycenae herself seems to be established. Her comparative wealth is indicated by the treasures of her tombs which exceed all treasures found elsewhere in the Aegean. But her lords were not only rich; their power stretched beyond their immediate territory. This fact may be inferred from the road system which connected Mycenae with Corinth and must have been constructed by one of her kings. Three narrow but stoutly built highways have been traced, the two western joining at Cleonae, the eastern going by Tenea. They rest on substructions of “Cyclopean” masonry; streams are bridged and rocks are hewn through; and as they were not wide enough for wagons, the wares of Mycenae were probably carried to the Isthmus on the backs of mules. If the glazed clay-ware, so abundantly found at Mycenae, was wrought there, and not, as some think, imported from the islands, then the industry of her potteries may have been a source of her wealth. It is not easy to determine whether Mycenae held sway over the whole Argive plain and especially what was her relation to Tiryns. A road leading southward as far as a small hill which was, in later times, famous for a great temple of Hera, shows that this site was under the domination of Mycenae; and it was a place of some importance, for three vaulted hill-tombs have been found hard by. Tiryns was an older place of habitation than Mycenae; and it has been suggested that it may have been Tirynthian kings who first selected the Mycenaean hill as a strong post at the head of the plain and a bulwark against invaders from the north. But the relations of Tiryns to Mycenae must be left un­determined; and the position of Larisa, the hill of Argos, at this period is hidden from our eyes. In Greek history Argos appears, from the beginning, as what it seems naturally marked out to be, the ruling city of the plain; and it would be rash to suppose that it was not a place of importance in an earlier age, for we cannot argue backward from the absence of prehistoric remains on a site like Argos which has been continuously inhabited.

There was an active sea-trade in the Aegean, a sea-trade which reached to the Troad and to Egypt; but there is no proof that Mycenae was a naval power. Everything points to Crete as the queen of the seas in this age, and to Cretan merchants as the carriers of the Aegean world. The roads of traffic are conservative, and we may be sure that the route to Egypt, which in later days Greek mariners always followed, was fixed in the prehistoric period—from the west of Crete to the opposite shore of Libya and along the Libyan coast to the mouths of the Nile. The predominance of Crete survived in the memories of Minos, whom tradition exalted as a mighty seaking who cleared the Aegean of pirates and founded a maritime power. The Greeks looked back to Minos as a son of Zeus, who “reigned”, as the poet of the Odyssey mysteriously tells us, “in nine yearly tides”, at Cnosus “the great city”, and held converse with his divine father in the cave of Ida. But Minos, as his name shows, was a figure of Cretan history or myth before the Greeks came; per­haps he was the greatest of the gods worshipped in the island; he was associated with “the bull of Minos”, who was possibly a horned man of primitive Egyptian art.

There were dealings of commerce between the Aegean world and northern Europe; Mycenaean influences travelled up the Hebrus and the Danube; amber from the shores of the Baltic was imported to Mycenae. Jars of Aegean manufacture have been found at Syracuse in vaulted tombs; but in Cyprus there were actually Mycenaean settlements. Of relations with Egypt we have already seen indications in the names of the Egyptian monarch Amenhotep and his wife found at Mycenae and Ialysus. This was toward the end of the fifteenth century. Still earlier, we see in a painting of Thebes men who can be recognized as of Aegean type, offering Mycenaean vessels to King Thothmes III; and they are described as “the kings of the country of the Keftu and the isles of the great sea”. It would seem then that in the fifteenth century the relations between Egypt and the Aegean were peaceful, and the small princes of the “islands” were ready to offer their homage to the great monarchs on the banks of the Nile.

It was possibly from Egypt that Aegean artists derived the spiral ornament; and it is probably to them that we owe its intro­duction into Europe. Moreover, through contact with Libya and Egypt, the Aegean civilizations had received some oriental ele­ments; and thus, through the Aegean peoples whom they subju­gated, the Greeks had their earliest glimpses of the Orient. It was perhaps from the peoples whom they conquered that Greek wood­cutters learned to use a new kind of axe, with a name which had come from Mesopotamia; for, by a strange chance, Assyria had the privilege of bestowing her word for axe on two far-sundered races of Aryan speech,—on the Greeks in the west and on the speakers of Sanskrit in the east.

Of the power and resources of the Aegean states, the monuments hardly enable us to form an absolute idea. They were small, as we saw; it was an age:


When men might cross a kingdom in a day.

The kings had slaves to toil for them; the fortresses and the large tombs were assuredly built by the hands of thralls. One fact shows in a striking way how small were these kingdoms, and how slender their means, compared with the powerful realms of Egypt and the Orient. If Babylonian or Egyptian monarchs, with their command of slave-labour, had ruled in Greece, they would assuredly have cut a canal across the Isthmus and promoted facilities for commerce by joining the eastern with the western sea. That was an undertaking which neither the small primitive states, nor the small Greek states which came after, ever had the means of carrying out.

Having examined the Aegean civilizations of the bronze age and drawn some conclusions which it suggests, we must now consider how far the Greeks may have shared in it.




The conquest of the Greek peninsula by the Greeks lies a long way behind recorded history, and the Greeks themselves, when they began to reflect on their own past, had completely forgotten what their remote ancestors had done ages and ages before. Their legends, their epic poems, their geographical names gave them material for attempting to reconstruct their history, and the outline of that recon­struction, which was a feat of genius, will demand our attention pre­sently. But such a reconstruction, the work of a poetical age before historical criticism was applied, must be put away, if we would seek to discover what actually happened. We have most of the facts on which the Greek account was based.

The meaning of the Greek conquest has been generally miscon­ceived. It has been supposed that it carried with it the extermina­tion or enthrallment of all the original inhabitants of the countries which the invaders conquered, and that a new Aryan population spread over the whole land. This view rests on two false conceptions. It mistakes the character of the Greek invaders, and it mistakes the nature of their relations to the peoples whom they found in Greece.

The invaders spoke an Aryan speech, but it does not follow that they all came of Aryan stock. There was, indeed, an Aryan element among them, and some of them were descendants of men of Aryan race who had originally taught them their language and brought them some Aryan institutions and Aryan deities. But the infusion of Aryan blood was probably small; and in describing the Greeks, as well as any other of the races who speak sister tongues, we must be careful to call them men of Aryan speech, and not men of Aryan stock. In historical Greece there were two marked types in the population, distinguished by light and dark hair, and there is no doubt that the men of light complexion came in with the invaders, though we cannot conclude that all the invaders were distinguished by the same feature.

But if it is certain that there was but little Aryan blood in ancient Greece, it is also certain that the Greeks of history were very far from being exclusively the descendants of the “Greek” invaders. The idea that the older inhabitants were entirely crushed out and a clear field left for the newcomers is due to exactly the same kind of false inference from language to race, which makes out Greeks and Romans, Celts and Germans, Slavs and Illyrians, Phrygians and Armenians, Persians and ancient Indians, to be the posterity of common Aryan ancestors, because they all spoke kindred tongues. The Greek language is vigorous and masterful, as its subsequent history has shown. It made a complete conquest of the languages of the older inhabitants; in whatever land the Greeks settled, it be­came exclusively the language of the land. But the extermination of the older tongues does not mean the extermination of the older races. The men among whom the Greeks settled, or whom they conquered, learned the new tongue and forgot their own.

The relations of the invaders to the elder lords of the soil varied, it need hardly be said, in various countries. In some places, the Greeks    became predominant, in number as well as in power; in others, they formed only a handful of settlers, who nevertheless Graecized the whole district. Thus in Arcadia and in Attica the tradition of the later Greeks did not forget that there had been no serious disturbance of the population. The Arcadians had lived in their country before the birth of the moon; the people of Attica were children of the earth. In other words, there had been no unsettling conquest in those countries. The folks who lived there before the Greeks came received Greek settlers in their midst, and gradually became Greeks themselves. And in many other lands, though greater changes befell than in Attica and Arcadia, the elder inhabitants probably remained as numerous as the newcomers. There was fusion nearly everywhere; and perhaps there is barely one case in which we can speak of pure Greek blood.

The old home of the Greek invaders, from which they gradually filtered into Greece, probably lay in the north-west regions of the Balkan peninsula. They were not a mere horde of roving shepherds; their wealth doubtless consisted in flocks and herds, but they understood tillage, and were a folk of settled habits. It is therefore to be presumed that there was some cause, other than mere restless­ness, for their southward migration; and this cause is to be sought in the pressure of the Illyrians, their neighbors on the north, another people of Aryan speech like their own. We shall hardly go too far back if we place the beginnings of the migration well into the third millennium. And we must keep in view the fact that a parallel movement was going on throughout the same period in the eastern half of the Balkan peninsula. While the Greeks were being pressed forward in the west, the Phrygians and Trojans, who originally had dwellings in western Macedonia and southern Thrace, were being pressed forward in the east and were filtering across the straits into Asia Minor. It is highly probable that the ultimate causes of all these movements in the peninsula were closely connected, but they lie wholly beyond our vision.

The first important thing to grasp about the coming of the Greeks into Greece is that it was not a single coming, but a series of successive comings. There is every reason to believe that this process of infiltration extended over centuries : each shock that they sustained from their northern neighbors caused a new movement southward. They did not sweep down in a great invading host; they crept in, tribe by tribe, seeking not political conquest but new lands and homesteads. Thus we may be sure that north-western Greece, the lands of Epirus, Acarnania, and Aetolia, were lands of Greek speech for many years before the conquest of the Peloponnesus began. But along with the directly southward movement into Epirus, there seems to have been also a south-easterly movement towards the north-west corner of the Aegean. The Macedonian Greeks, closely pressed by the Illyrians, settled on the lower waters of the river Axius, and perhaps it was this movement that drove the Phrygians eastward. The Achaeans and others found abodes in the country which was in after days to be known as Thessaly.

But on the other hand there is no reason to suppose that the Greeks had spread over all northern Greece or completely conquered it before they began to pass into the southern peninsula. The first Greeks who had settled in the Peloponnesus must have crossed by boat from the north-western shores of the Corinthian Gulf; and we may take it that the countries which were afterwards called Achaea, Elis, and Messenia, along with the Arcadian highlands, which form the centre of the peninsula, had begun to be hellenized at an earlier date than Laconia and Argolis. It was from the other side that Greeks first reached the coast of Argolis. From Thessaly and the north they found their way down the side of eastern Greece, to Euboea and the shores of Attica and the Cyclad islands and the Argolic coast. Among the settlements in Attica some seem to have been made by a people called the Iavones or Ionians; and they also settled in Argolis. The Dryopes and Phocians found habitations in the regions of Mount Oeta and Mount Parnassus. Other settlers penetrated from the north into the fertile mountain-girt country which was not yet Boeotia. Among these the Minyae, who inhabited Orchomenus in the heroic age, are generally and perhaps rightly included; though it is possible that “Minyae” represents the original name of the native people whom the Greek settlers hellenized.    

All this was a long and gradual process. It needed many years for the Greeks to blend with the older inhabitants and hellenize the countries in which they settled. In eastern Greece, where the Aegean civilizations flourished, the influence was reciprocal. While the Greeks gradually imposed their language on the native races, they learned from a civilizations which was more advanced than their own. Things shaped themselves differently in different places, according to the number of the Greek settlers and the power and culture of the native people. In some countries, as seemingly in Attica, a small number of Greek strangers leavened the whole population and spread the Greek tongue; thus Attica became Greek, but the greater part of its inhabitants were sprung, not from Greeks, but from the old people who lived there before the Greeks came. In other countries the invaders came in larger numbers, and the inhabitants were forced to make way for them. In Thessaly it would seem that the Greeks drove the Pelasgians back into one region of the country and spread over the rest themselves. We may say, at all events, that there was a time for most lands in Greece when the Greek strangers and the native people lived side by side, speaking each their own tongue and exercising a mutual in­fluence which was to end in the fusion of blood, out of which the Greeks of history sprang.

No reasonable system of chronology can avoid the conclusion that Greeks had already settled in the area of Aegean civilizations, when the Aegean civilization of the bronze age was at its height. Coming as they came, they necessarily fell under its influence in a way which could not have been the case if they had swept down in mighty hordes, conquered the land by a few swoops, and destroyed or enslaved its peoples. It is another question how far the process of assimilation had already advanced when the lords of Mycenae and Orchomenus and the other royal strongholds built their hill-tombs; and it is yet another whether any of these lords belonged to the race of the Greek strangers. To these questions we can give no positive answers; but this much we know : in the twelfth century, if not sooner, the Greeks began to expand in a new direction, eastward beyond the sea; and they bore with them to the coast of Asia the Aegean civilization. That civilization represents the environment of the heroic age of Greece.

There can be little doubt that the mixture of the Greeks with the native peoples had a decisive effect upon the differentiation of the Greek dialects. The dialects spoken by the first settlers in Thessaly, in Attica, in Arcadia, have some common characteristics which tempt us to mark them as a group, and distinguish them from another set of dialects spoken by Greek folks which were to appear somewhat later on the stage of history. We may conjecture that the first set of invaders spoke in their old home much the same idiom; that this was differently modified in Thessaly and Boeotia, in Attica and Argolis, and the various countries where they settled; and that many of the local peculiarities were developed in the mouths of the conquered learning the tongue of the conquerors.




The first Greeks who sailed across the Aegean were the Achaeans and their fellows from the hills and plains of Thessaly and the plain of the Spercheus. Their expeditions probably started from the land-locked bay of Pagasae, and tradition long afterwards associated the first sea-ventures of the Greeks with the port of Iavolkos.

Along with the Achaeans there sailed as comrades and allies the Aeolians. Some indeed believe that “Aeolian” was simply another name for “Achaean”; but it seems safer to regard the Aeolians as distinct from, though closely related to, the Achaeans. It is im­possible to determine whether those who crossed the Aegean were settlers in Thessaly, and not rather some of the Aeolians who lived beyond the mountains by another seaboard, on the northern shore of the Corinthian Gulf. We know that in early times these Aeolians were engaged in constant warfare with the Aetolians, who ultimately won the upper hand and gave their name to the whole country. And perhaps the pressure of these foes induced some of them to throw in their lot with the Achaeans who were sailing in search of new homes beyond the sea. It need not surprise us that men of Aetolia should be in touch with men of Thessaly. There has always been a route of communication through the mountains con­necting north-eastern Greece with the mouth of the Corinthian Gulf, and it was just as easy three thousand years ago to walk from Iolcus to Calydon as it is today from Volo to Mesolongi.

It was to the northern part of Asia Minor, the island of Lesbos and the opposite shores, that the Achaean and Aeolian adventurers steered their ships. Here they planted the first Hellenic settlements on Asiatic soil—the beginning of a movement which, before a thousand years had passed away, was to carry Greek conquerors to the Indian Ocean. The coast-lands of western Asia Minor are, like Greece itself, suitable for the habitations of a sea-faring people. A series of river-valleys are divided by mountain chains which run out into promontories so as to form deep bays; and the promontories are continued in islands. The valleys of the Hermus and the Caicus are bounded on the north by a chain of hills which run out into Lesbos; the valley of the Hermus is parted from that of the Cayster by mountains which are prolonged in Chios; and the valley of the Cayster is separated from the valley of the Maeander by a chain which terminates in Samos. South of the Maeander valley there are bays and islands, but the mountains of the mainland are broken by no rivers. The Greek occupation of the lower waters of the Hermus and Caicus is known to us only by its results. The invaders won the coast-lands from the Mysian natives and seized a number of strong places which they could defend—Pitane, Myrina, Cyme, Aegae, Old Smyrna. They pressed up the rivers, and on the Hermus they founded Magnesia under Mount Sipylus. All this, needless to say, was not done at once. It must have been a work of many years, and of successive expeditions from the mother-country. The only event which we can grasp, by a fragment of genuine tradition lurking in a legend, is the capture of the Lesbian town of Bresa. The story of the fair-cheeked maid of Bresa, of whom Agamemnon robbed Achilles, is the memorial of the Greek conquest of Lesbos.

The Greeks made no settlement in the Troad. But in occupying the country south of the Troad, they came into collision with the great Phrygian town of Troy, or Ilios, as it was called from King Ilos, who perhaps was its founder. We can easily understand that the lords of Troy—though we know not how far their power may have extended—would not look with favour on the arrival of the new settlers. There were weary wars. Then the mighty fortress fell; and we need not doubt the truth of the legend which records that it fell through Grecian craft or valour. The Phrygian power and the lofty stronghold of “sacred Ilios” made a deep impression on the souls of the Greek invaders; and the strife, on whatever scale it really was, blended by their imagination with the old legends of their gods, inspired the Achaean minstrels with new songs. Through their minstrelsy the struggle between the Phrygians and the Greek settlers assumed the proportion of a common expedition of all the peoples of Greece against the town of Troy; and the Trojan war established itself in the belief of the Greeks as the first great episode in the everlasting debate between east and west.

It is to be observed that the Greeks and Phrygians in that age do not seem to have felt that they were severed by any great con­trast of race or manners. They were conscious perhaps of an affinity in language; and they had the same kind of civilization. This fact comes out in the Homeric poems, where, though some especially Phrygian features are recognized, the Trojans might be a Greek folk and their heroes have Greek names; and it bears witness to the constant intercourse between the Achaean colonists and their Phrygian neighbors.

The Achaean wave of emigration was succeeded by another wave, flowing mainly from the coasts of Attica and Argolis, and new settle­ments were planted, south of the elder Achaean settlements. The two-pronged peninsula between the Hermus and Cayster rivers, with the off-lying isle of Chios, the valleys of the Cayster and Maeander, with Samos and the peninsula south of Mount Latmos, were studded with communities which came to form a group distinct from the older group in the north. Each group of settlements came to be called by a collective name. As the Achaeans were the most illustrious of the settlers in the north, one might expect to find the northern group known as Achaean. But it is not thus that names are given in primitive times. A number of cities or settlements, which have no political union and are merely associated together by belonging to the same race and speaking the same tongue, do not generally choose themselves a common name. It rather happens that when they get a common name it is given to them by strangers, who, looking from the outside, regard them as a group and do not think of the differ­ences of which they are themselves more vividly conscious. And it constantly happens that the name of one member of the group is, by some accident, picked out and applied to the whole. Thus it befell that the Aeolian and not the Achaean name was selected to designate the northern division of the Greek settlements in Asia; just as our own country came to be called not Saxony but England. The southern and larger group of colonies received the name of Iavones—or Iones, as they called themselves, when they lost the letter v. The Iavones were, as we saw, a people who had settled on the coasts of Argolis and Attica, but there the name fell out of use, and perhaps passed out of memory, until on Asiatic soil it attained celebrity and re-echoed with glory to their old homes.

But it would probably be a grave mistake to regard these two groups as well defined from the first. To begin with, it is possible that they overlapped chronologically. The latest of Aeolian settlements may have been founded subsequently to the earliest of the Ionian. In the second place, the original homes of the settlers overlapped. Though the Aeolian colonies mainly came from the lands north of Mount Oeta—apart from those who came from Aetolia—they included some settlers from the coasts of Boeotia and Euboea. Thus Cyme in Aeolis derived its name from Euboean Cyme. And on the other hand, though the Ionian colonies were chiefly derived from the coasts of Attica and Argolis—apart from some contingents from Crete and other places in the south—there were also some settlers from the north. Thirdly, the two groups ran into each other geographically. Phocaea, for example, which is geographically in Aeolis, standing on the promontory north of the Hermus river, was included in Ionia. Its name shows that some of the men who colonized it were Phocians. And some of the places in north Ionia—Teos, for instance—had received Achaean settle­ments first, and were then re-settled by Ionians. In Chios, which was afterwards fully in Ionia, a language of Aeolic complexion was once spoken.

Of the foundation of the famous colonies of Ionia, of the order in which they were founded, and of the relations of the settlers with the Lydian natives we know as little as of the settlements of the Achaeans. Clazomenae and Teos arose on the north and south sides of the neck of the peninsula which runs out to meet Chios; and Chios, on the east coast of her island, faces Erythrae on the mainland—Erythrae, “the crimson”, so called from its purple fisheries, the resort of Tyrian traders. Lebedus and Colophon lie on the coast as it retires east­ward from Teos to reach the mouth of the Cayster; and there was founded Ephesus, the city of Artemis. By the streams of the Cayster was a plain called “the Asian meadow”, which destiny in some odd way selected to bestow a name upon one of the continents of the earth. South of Ephesus and on the northern slope of Mount Mycale was the religious gathering-place of the Ionians, the temple of the Heliconian Poseidon, which, when once the Ionians became conscious of themselves as a sort of nation and learned to glory in their common name, served to foster a sense of unity among all their cities from Phocaea in the north to Miletus in the south. Samos faces Mount Mycale, and the worship of Hera, which was the religious feature of Samos, is thought to point to men of the southern Argos as participators in its original foundation. South of Mycale, the cities of Myus and Priene were planted on the Maeander. Then the coast retires to skirt Mount Latmos and breaks forward again to form the promontory, at the northern point of which was Miletus with its once splendid harbour. There was one great inland city, Magnesia on the Maeander, which must not be confused with the inland Aeolian city, Magnesia on the Hermus. Though counted to Ionia, it was not of Ionian origin, for it was founded by the Magnetes, who seem to have been among the earliest Greek settlers in Thessaly. While the greater part of Ionian territory was won from Lydia, the Maeandrian towns and Miletus were founded on Lelegian soil.

Settlers from Euboea and Boeotia took part in the colonization of Ionia, as well as the Ionians of Argolis and Attica. In the regions of the Maeander, and southward from that river, the Greeks were brought into association with another race. The Leleges were now exposed to foes on the land side as well as on the sea side, for Carian highlanders came down from the hills and began to occupy their lands. The Carians were of the same race as the Lydians, and in some places, at Miletus for example, they mixed with the Greek strangers.

Meanwhile the Greek colonization of the Aegean islands was going on at the same time. And it is just possible that some curious records which have been discovered in distant Egypt bear upon the occupation of the islands. We learn that the throne of Mernptah was shaken by a joint invasion of Libyans and the peoples of the north. A generation later another invasion is recorded in the reign of Ramses III; the peoples of the north threaten Egypt from the east. The Egyptian records mention the names of some of the northern peoples in both invasions, but the names teach us little. There is not much likelihood in the view that some of the invaders were Greeks. The day was to come when Greeks would fight in Egypt as mercenary soldiers; a day, more distant still, was to come when Egypt would be ruled by Grecian lords; but the twelfth century is too early an age to find Greek adventurers on the shores of Africa. But there are certain significant words in the record of the second invasion : “The islands were unquiet”. It is certainly not unnatural to refer this to islands of the Aegean. And if so, the Libyan invasion of Egypt is an echo of the Greek conquest of the islands. But it is not the Greek conquerors who sail to Libya; it is the islanders whom they conquer and dispossess. It would be unwise, however, to build any historical theory upon the Egyptian notices, even though we consider it tolerably certain that people from the regions of the Aegean are referred to. Perhaps the best commentary on the question is a passage in the Odyssey, which suggests that it was not an uncommon event for Cretan freebooters to make a descent on the Egyptian coast and carry off plunder.

The Greek settlers brought with them their poetry and their civilization to the shores of Asia. Their civilization is revealed to us in their poetry, and we find that it is identical in its main features, and in many minor respects, with the civilization which has been laid bare in the ruins of Mycenae and other places in elder Greece. The Homeric poems show us, in fact, a later stage of the civilization of the heroic age. The Homeric palace is built on the same general plan as the palaces that have been found at Mycenae and Tiryns, at Troy and in the Copaic lake. The equipment of the Homeric heroes and the man-screening Homeric shield receive their best illustration from Mycenaean gems and jars. The scene of the leaguered city on the silver beaker is an admirable illustration of the siege which was represented on the shield of Achilles; and that shield assumes the art of in­laying, of which some dagger-blades discovered at Mycenae show us brilliant examples. The blue inlaid frieze in the vestibule of the hall of Tiryns proves that the poet’s frieze of cyanus in the hall of Alcinous was not a fancy; and he describes as the cup of Nestor a gold cup with doves perched on the handles, such as one which was found in a royal tomb at Mycenae. There is indeed one striking difference in custom. The Mycenaean tombs reveal no trace of the habit of burning the dead, which the Homeric Greeks invari­ably practised; while, beyond what is implied in a single mention of em­balming, the poems completely ignore the practice of burial. In later times both customs existed in Greece side by side. It has been supposed that, in the period of migration to Asia, the Achaean and Ionian settlers, not having yet won their new homesteads, and wishing to preserve the ashes of their dead instead of leaving them in a strange place, adopted the usage of cremation; and, having once adopted it in this time of emergency, continued to practice it when the need had passed.

The circumstance that no remains of Aegean civilization have been found in Ionia or Aeolis like those which have been discovered in Greece and the islands, has been already observed; and the inference was drawn that this civilization did not gain a footing in these coast-lands before the time of the Greek settlements. But it must not be said that the argument from the absence of such remains applies equally to the Greek settlers, and proves that they cannot have brought a civilization of this kind to Asia Minor. For the sites on which the Greeks established themselves were continuously occupied throughout history, and therefore we cannot expect to find such archaeological remains as we find in sites which decayed or were deserted at the end of the heroic age. But one exceptional discovery confirms our inferences from the Homeric poems as to the nature of Ionian civilization. Under Mount Mycale, not far from the gathering-place of the Ionians, there has been found a graveyard, which archaeologists designate as “late Mycenaean”. It clearly belongs to the early period of the Greek settlements.

Two important conclusions follow. One is that by the twelfth century the Greeks had assimilated and were participators in the civilization of the Aegean; and it is to be presumed that among the settlers who carried that civilization to the Asian coast there were many who though they had learned Greek speech did not belong to the Greek race. The other conclusion which emerges is that, what­ever fate befell the Mycenaean civilization in the mother country, it cannot be said to have died either a sudden or a slow death; for it continued without a break in the new Greece beyond the seas, and developed into that luxurious Ionian civilization which meets us some centuries later, when we come into the clearer light of recorded history. New elements were added in the meantime; intercourse with Phrygia and Syria, for example, brought new influences to bear; but the permanent framework was the heritage from the ancient folks of the Aegean.

The question will be asked, whether the Greeks accepted anything beyond the outward forms of material civilization from the folks with whom they mingled in the Aegean lands. Did those folks contribute any­thing to the religion or the social organization of the Greek people which grew out of their own fusion with the invaders? We shall see presently that the political institutions of the invaders prevailed; and their great Aryan god, Zeus, the heavenly father, was exalted supreme in all the lands where they settled. But it is possible that some of the Greek gods were originally not the deities of the invaders, but of the old inhabitants of the land. The pre­historic tombs of Greece and the Aegean islands, both the tombs of the third millennium and those of the second, have preserved small idols in stone, in lead, in bronze, and in gold of a goddess, who was probably a goddess of nature, similar in character to the Babylonian Istar—the Phoenician Astarte—though there is no reason to suppose that she came from Babylonia. She was, we need not doubt, a native goddess of the Aegean peoples. The spirit of this divinity, associated with the fertility of nature, appears under many a name in Greece; in some places she is worshipped as Aphrodite, in some as Hera, elsewhere as Artemis. It should never be forgotten that originally these goddesses and many others had the same motherly functions; the division of labour in Olympus and the differentiation of the characters of the celestials were a comparatively late refinement. While Hera and Artemis appear to be genuine Greek names, Aphrodite has never been explained from the Greek language, and may possibly be the old Aegean name of the goddess of nature, recast in Grecian mouths. At all events it is not improbable that the worship of Aphrodite was an Aegean growth, afterwards pro­moted and influenced by the Phoenician cult of Astarte. The in­vaders may have often associated divinities of their own with the native cults; and traces of such fusion may sometimes be preserved in double names.

But there are clear enough memories of conflict and conciliation between the gods of the invaders and the older deities of the land. The legend of the war of the gods and the giants can hardly be anything else than a mythical embodiment of the conflict of religions; the giants, or earth-born beings, represent the older gods whom the gods of Greece overthrew. And we can hardly be wrong in regard­ing Cronos, whom Zeus dethroned, as one of those older gods. But Zeus, who dethroned him, became his son; that was the conciliation. In Crete it was somewhat otherwise. The god Minos had to make way for Zeus; he was reduced to the estate of a king; but he became the son and the speech-fellow of the god who displaced him.




The colonization of the Asiatic coasts and islands extended over some hundreds of years, and it was doubtless accelerated and pro­moted at certain stages of its progress by changes and dislocations which were happening in the mother country. The ultimate cause of these movements, which affected almost the whole of Greece from north to south, was probably the pressure of the Illyrians; but we have no means of determining how these movements were related to one another as cause and effect; so that, although we may suspect their interdependence, it is safer to treat them as separate and distinct.

The downward pressure of the Illyrians was fatal to Aetolia. In the Homeric poems we have a reflected glimpse of the prosperity of the Aetolian coast-land. We see that”Pleuron by the sea and rocky Calydon” and the other strong cities of that region were abreast of the civilization of the heroic age; and the Aetolian myth of Meleager and the hunting of the Calydonian boar became a part of the heritage of the national legend of Greece. Maritime Aetolia was then a land of wine; its pride in its vineyards is displayed in the name of its mythic kings. But in the later ages of Greek history all this is changed. We find Aetolia regarded as a half barbarous country, the abode of men who speak indeed a Greek tongue, but have lagged ages and ages behind the rest of Greece in science and civilization. And we find the neighboring countries in the same case. Epirus, or the greater part of it, had been hellenized when the wor­ship of Zeus was introduced at Dodona, to become famous and venerable throughout the Greek world. Suddenly it lapses into comparative barbarism, and the sanctuary of Dodona remains a lonely outpost. The explanation of this falling away is the irruption and conquest of Illyrian invaders. It was not through laziness or degeneracy, or through geographical disadvantages, that the Greeks of Epirus and Aetolia fell out of the race; it was because they were over­whelmed by a rude and barbarous people, who swamped their civilization instead of assimilating it. The Aetolians and Epirots of history are mainly of Illyrian stock.

This invasion naturally drove some of the Greek inhabitants to   seek new homes elsewhere. It was easy to cross the gulf, and Aetolian emigrants made their way to the river Peneus, where they settled and took to themselves the name of Eleans or “Dalesmen”. They won dominion over the Epeans, the first  Greek settlers and gradually extended their power to the Alpheus. Their land was a tract of downs with a harbourless coast, and they never became a maritime power. The people in this western plain of the peninsula were distinguished by their veneration of Pelops, a god who, though his name is Greek, perhaps represents a native deity. His worship had taken deep root at Pisa on the banks of the river Alpheus. It was a spot which in a later age, when the Greeks had spread over-seas into distant lands, was to become one of the holiest seats of Greek religion, where the greatest of the Aryan, the supremest of the Hellenic, gods was to draw to his sacred precinct men from all quarters of the Greek world, to do him honor with sacrifices and games. But even when Pisa had come to be illustrious as Olympia, even when the temple and altar of the Olympian Zeus had eclipsed all other associations of the place, Pelops still received his offering. He was degraded indeed to the rank of a hero—a fate which befell many other old deities to whom early legend had given no place in Olympus among the divine sons and daughters of Zeus. But though Pelops himself was remembered only as a legendary figure, except in one or two places like Olympia where his old worship survived, his name is living still in one of the most familiar geographical names of Greece. It is in the regions near the mouth of the Corinthian Gulf, where the existence of the bridge at Corinth may be easily unremembered, that men would be most tempted to call the great peninsula an island. And so, when Pelops was still widely worshipped, the most honored god on the western coast, the name “island of Pelops” originated on that side—not, probably, in the peninsula itself, but on the opposite shores, in Aetolia for example; and then it made its way into universal use and clung henceforward to southern Greece.

The pressure of the Illyrians in Epirus led to two movements of great consequence, the Thessalian and the Boeotian migration. There is nothing to show decisively that these two movements happened at the same time or were connected with each other. A folk named Petthaloi, but called by men of other dialects Thessaloi, crossed the bills and settled in the western corner of the land which is bounded by Pelion and Pindus. They gained the upper hand and spread their sway over northern Argos. They drove the Achaeans southwards into the mountains of Phthia, and henceforward these Achaeans play no part of any note in the history of Greece. The Thessalian name soon spread over the whole country, which is called Thessaly to the present day. Crannon, Pagasae, Larisa, and Pherae became the seats of lords who reared horses and governed the surround­ing districts. The conquered people were reduced to serfdom and were known as the Labourers  they cultivated the soil, at their own risk, paying a fixed amount to their lords; and they had certain privi­leges; they could not be sold abroad or arbitrarily put to death. But they gained one victory over their conquerors; the Achaean language prevailed. The Thessalians gave up their own idiom and learned, not indeed without modifying, the speech of their subjects, so that the dialect of historic Thessaly bears a close resemblance to the tongue which we find spoken by the Achaean settlers in Asia Minor. When they had established themselves in the lands of the Peneus, the Thessalians pressed northward against the Perrhaebi, eastward against the Magnetes, and southward against the Achaeans of Phthia, and reduced them all to tributary subjection. We know almost nothing of the history of the Thessalian kingdoms; in later times we find the whole country divided into four great divisions : Thessaliotis, in the south-west, the quarter which may have been the first settlement and home of the Thessalian invaders; Phthiotis of the Achaeans in the south; Pelasgiotis, a name which records the survival of the Pelasgians, one of the older peoples; and Histiaeotis, the land of the Histiaeans, who have no separate identity in history. All the lordships of the land were combined in a very loose political organization, which lay dormant in times of peace; but through which, to meet any emergency of war, they could elect a common captain, with the title of tagos.

But all the folk did not remain to fall under the thralldom imposed by the new lords. A portion of the Achaeans migrated southward to the Peloponnesus. The Achaean wanderers were probably accompanied by their neighbors the Hellenes, who lived on the upper waters of the river Spercheus. The Achaeans and Hellenes together founded settlements along the strip of coast which forms the northern side of the Corinthian Gulf; and the whole country was called Achaea. Thus there were two Achaean lands, the old Achaea in the north, now shrunk into the mountains of Phthia, and the new Achaea in the south; while in the land which ought to have been the greatest Achaea of all, the Asiatic land in which the poetry of Europe took shape, the Achaean name was merged in the less significant title of Aeolis. There was also apparently a movement to Euboea in consequence of the Thessalian invasion : according to tradition, Histiaea in the north of the island and Eretria in the centre owed their origin to settlers from Thessaly, and there is independent evidence that there was truth in this tradition.

The lands of Helicon and Cithaeron experienced a similar shock to that which unsettled and changed the lands of Olympus and Othrys; but the results were not the same. The old home of the Boeotians was in Mount Boeon in Epirus; the mountain gave them their name. Their dialect was probably closely akin to the original dialect of the Thessalians, being marked by certain characters which enable us to distinguish roughly a north-western group of dialects from those spoken by the earliest invaders of Greece. Coming from the west, or north, the Boeotians first occupied places in the west of the land which they were to make their own. From Chaeronea and Coronea, they won Thebes which was held by an old folk called the Cadmeans. Thence they sought to spread their power over the whole land. They spread their name over it, for it was called Boeotia, but they did not succeed in winning full domination as rapidly as the Thessalians succeeded in Thessaly. The rich lords of Orchomenus preserved their independence for hundreds of years, and it was not till the sixth century that anything like a Boeotian unity was established. The policy of the Boeotian conquerors, who were perhaps comparatively few in number, was unlike that of the Thessalians; the conquered communities were not reduced to serfdom. On the other hand they did not, like the Thessalians, adopt or adapt the speech of the older inhabitants; but the idioms of the conquerors and conquered coalesced and formed a new Boeotian dialect.

The Boeotian conquest, there can be little doubt, caused some of the older peoples to wander forth to other lands; and it may explain the participation of the Cadmeans and the men of Lebadea and others in some of the Ionian settlements. Moreover the coming of the Boeotians probably unsettled some of the neighbouring peoples, and drove them to change their abodes.

West of Boeotia, in the land of the Phocians amid the regions of Mount Parnassus, there were dislocations of a less simple kind. Hither came the Dorians, who, though we cannot set our finger on their original home, belonged to the same “north-western” group of the Greek race as the Thessalians and Boeotians. For a while, it would seem, a large space of mountainous country between Mount Oeta and the Corinthian Gulf, including a great part of Phocis, became Dorian land. But it is not certain that the Dorians, when they came, had any purpose of making an abiding home in these regions; they were perhaps only travelling to find a goodlier country in the south, and were unable to cross to the Peloponnesus, because the Achaeans barred the way. At all events the greater part of them soon went forth to seek fairer abodes in distant places. But a few remained behind in the small basin-like district between Mount Oeta and Mount Parnassus, where they preserved the illustrious Dorian name throughout the course of Grecian history in which they never played a part. It would seem that the Dorians also took possession of Delphi, the “rocky threshold” of Apollo, and planted some families there who devoted themselves to the service of the god. After the departure of the Dorian wanderers, the Phocians could breathe again; but Doris was lost to them, and Delphi, which, as we shall see, they often essayed to recover. And the Phocians had to reckon with other neighbors. In later times we find the Locrians split up into three divisions, and the Phocians wedged in between. One division, the Ozolian Locrians, are on the Corinthian Gulf, to the west of Phocis; the other two divisions are on the Euboean sea, to the north-east of Phocis. The Ozolians were one of the most backward peoples of Greece, and perhaps we may ascribe their retarded civilization to the same cause which ruined Aetolia—an influx of Illyrian barbarians. This would at the same time account for the Locrian dislocation. The Ozolian was the original Locris; and some of its inhabitants, when the danger came, sought new abodes on the northern sea. But they were unable to hold a continuous strip, as the Phocians wanted an outlet to the sea, and so they were severed into the Locrians of Thronion and the Locrians of Opus.

The departure of the Dorians from the regions of Parnassus was probably gradual, and it was accomplished by sea. They built ships —perhaps the name of Naupactus, “the place of the ship-building”, is a record of their ventures; and they sailed round the Peloponnesus to the south-eastern parts of Greece. The first band of adventurers brought a new element to Crete, the island of many races; others settled in Thera, and in Melos. Others sailed away eastward, beyond the limits of the Aegean, and found a home on the southern coast of Asia Minor, where, surrounded by barbarians and forgotten by the Greek world, they lived a life apart, taking no share in the history of Hellas. But they preserved their Hellenic speech, and their name, the Pamphylians, recorded their Dorian origin, being the name of one of the three tribes by which the Dorians were everywhere recognized.

The next conquests of the Dorians were in the Peloponnesus. They had found it impossible to attack on the north and west; they now essayed it on the south and east. There were three distinct conquests—the conquest of Laconia, the conquest of Argolis, the conquest of Corinth. The Dorians took possession of the rich vale of the Eurotas, overthrew the lords of Amyclae, and, keeping their own Dorian stock pure from the mixture of alien blood, reduced all the inhabitants to the condition of subjects. We cannot say how far the fusion between the Hellene and the preHellenic folk had progressed before the Dorian came ; but we may suppose that the princes of Amyclae were then of Greek stock. It seems probable that the Dorian invaders who subdued Laconia were more numerous than the Dorian invaders elsewhere. The eminent quality which distinguished the Dorians from other branches of the Greek race was that which we call “character”; and it was in Laconia that this quality most fully displayed and developed itself, for here the Dorian seems to have remained a pure Dorian. How far the Laconian dialect represents the original dialect of the Dorians we cannot decide. But the Dorians of Laconia are perhaps the only people in Greece who can be said to have preserved in any measure the purity of their Greek blood.

In Argolis the course of things ran otherwise. The invaders, who landed under a king named Temenos, had doubtless a hard fight; but their conquest took the shape not of subjection but of amalgamation. The Argive state was indeed organized on the Dorian system, with the three Dorian tribes—the Hylleis, Pamphyli, and Dymanes; but otherwise no traces of the conquest remained. It is to the time of this conquest that the overthrow of Mycenae is probably to be referred; and here, as in the case of Amyclae, it seems probable that the old native dynasty had already given place to Greek lords. Certain it is that both Mycenae and Tiryns were destroyed suddenly and set on fire. Henceforward Argos under her lofty citadel was to be queen of the Argive plain. Greater indeed was the feat which the Dorians wrought in their southern conquest, the feat of making lowly Sparta, without citadel or wall, the queen of the Laconian vale.

Dorian ships were also rowed up the Saronic Gulf. It was the adventure of a prince whom the legend calls Errant, the son of Rider. He landed in the Isthmus and seized the high hill of Acrocorinth, the key of the peninsula. This was the making of Corinth. Here, as in Argolis, there was no subjection, no distinction between the con­querors and the conquered. The geographical position of Corinth between her seas determined for her people a career of commerce, and her history shows that the Dorians had the qualities of bold and skillful traders. At first Corinth seems to have been dependent on Argos, whose power was predominant in the eastern Peloponnesus for more than three hundred years.

The Aegean civilization declined and seemed almost to die out in the Peloponnesus, in Thessaly, and in Boeotia. It would be rash to ascribe this entirely to the havoc of war brought upon these countries by the Dorian, Thessalian, and Boeotian conquests, or to the rude spirit of the conquerors. These causes were indeed operative, and it is probable that they were especially effective in Laconia; but it must be remembered that in Attica too, where no invaders came, there was a brake with the old civilisation. We are not in a position to attempt to explain the change; but we may believe that more causes than one were at work. We may suspect that the civilisation of the Peloponnesus and the western Aegean was already declining at the time of the Dorian conquest, and that the conquest was facilitated by the decline. And we may see one cause of the decline in the Achaean and Ionian movements from the western to the east­ern shores of the Aegean. This migration, beginning before, and continuing after, the Dorian conquest, must have taken some of the most quickening and vigorous elements from the older country. Moreover there was a decline of the Aegean sea-power about the time of the Dorian invasion; and trade was beginning to pass, not entirely but partially, into the hands of the merchants of Phoenicia. On the other hand the break in civilization might easily be exag­gerated; and it is well to bear in mind such a striking point of con­tinuity in art as the derivation of the entablature of the Doric temple, with its characteristic arrangement of metopes and triglyphs, from the frieze of the heroic age, like that which decorated the palace of Tiryns. The Doric column can also be derived from the column of the Mycenaean builders; and the plan of the Greek temple corresponds to the arrangement of hall and portico in the palaces of the heroic age.

From Argos the Dorians made two important settlements in the north, on the river Asopus—Sicyon on its lower, and Phlius on its upper, banks. And beyond Mount Geraneia, another Dorian city arose, we know not how, on the commanding hill which looks down upon the western shore of Salamis. Its name was Nisa. But the hill had been crowned by a royal palace in the heroic age, and so the place came to be called Megara, “the Palace”, and in historical times no other name was known, though the old name lurked in the name of the harbour Nisaea. In later days, Dorian Megara was associated politically with the Peloponnesus rather than with northern Greece, but in early days it was reckoned as part of Boeotia, separated though it was from that country by the western portion of the massive range of Cithaeron.

The island, whose conical mountain in the midst of the Saronic waters is visible to all the coasts around, was also destined to become a Dorian land. Aegina was conquered by Dorian settlers from Epidaurus, but the conquest was perhaps not effected for two hundred years or more after the subjugation of Argolis. In Aegina too there  was doubtless a fusion of the old inhabitants and the new settlers; and we may be sure that it had been before, as it was after, the change, an island of bold and adventurous sailors.

In Crete and Laconia we meet, as we shall see, some peculiar institutions, which seem to have been characteristically Dorian, but are not found in Argos or Corinth. Yet all the Dorian settlements remembered their common Dorian origin; and the conquerors of Laconia at least looked with emotions of filial piety towards the little obscure Doris in the highlands of Parnassus, as their mother-country. The evidence of the three Dorian tribes might help to maintain the consciousness of a Dorian section of Greece; but it was perhaps the rise of a new Doris, on the other side of the Aegean, that elevated the Dorian name into permanent national significance.

The conquest of the eastern Peloponnesus was followed by a second Dorian expansion beyond the seas and a colonization of the Asiatic coast, to the south of the Ionic settlements. We have already seen how these Lelegian lands were being occupied by a new people, the Carians, who spread down to the border of Lycia and pressed the older inhabitants into the promontory which faces the island of Calymna. Here the Leleges participated in the latest stages of the Aegean civilization, as we know by the pottery and other things which have been discovered at Termera in chamber-tombs. These round tombs, not hewn out of the earth, like the vaulted sepulchres of Mycenae, but built above ground, are found in many parts of the peninsula and remain as the most striking memorial of he Leleges.

The bold promontories below Miletus, the islands of Cos and Rhodes were occupied by colonists from Argolis, Laconia, Corinth, and Crete. On the mainland Halicarnassus was the most important Dorian settlement, but it was formed in concert with the Carian natives, and was half Carian. This new Doris eclipsed in fame, and shed a new lustre on, the old Doris under Mount Oeta; all the settlements were independent, but they kept alive their communion of interest and sentiment by the common worship of the Triopian Apollo. The Carians were a vigorous people. They impressed themselves upon their land, and soon men began to forget that it had not been always Caria. They took to the sea, and formed a maritime power of some strength, so that in later ages a tradition was abroad that there was once upon a time a Carian sea-supremacy, though no one could mention anything that it achieved. The Carians also claimed to have made contributions to the art of war by introducing shield-handles, and the crested helmet, and the emblazoning of shields—claims which we cannot test.

The Greek fringe of western Asia Minor was complete. It was impossible for Doris to creep round the corner and join hands with Pamphylia; for the Lycians presented an insuperable barrier. The Lycians were not a folk of Aryan speech, as a widely-spread error supposes them to have been; their language is related to the Carian. Their proper name was Trmmili; but the name Lycian seems to have been given them by others as well as by the Greeks who recognized in the chief Tremilian deity their own Apollo Lykios. But, though Lycia was not colonized, the Aegean was now entirely within the Greek sphere, excepting only its northern margin, where Greek enterprise in the future was to find a difficult field. It is im­portant to observe that the process by which Asiatic Greece was created differs in character from the Dorian invasion of the Peloponnesus. The settlements of Ionia and Doris are examples of colonization. Bands of settlers went forth from their homes to find new habitations for themselves, but they left a home-country behind them. The Dorian movements, on the other hand, partake of the character of a folk-wandering. The essential fact is that a whole people dispersed to seek new fields and pastures. For the paltry remnant which remained in the sequestered nook beyond Parnassus could not be called the parent-people except by courtesy; the people, as a whole, had gone elsewhere.

Before the completion of the Greek occupation of the western coast of Asia Minor, another migration left the shores of the Pelopon­nesus to seek a more distant home. Cyprus, an island whose geographical position marks it out to be contested between three continents, was now to receive European settlers. We have seen that throughout the bronze age it played an important part in supplying the Aegean countries with copper, but though it imported Aegean pottery it had lagged behind the Aegean civilization. It was destined, however, to play a greater part in the world’s debate as a wrestling-ground between the European and the Asiatic; and the first Europeans who went forth for the struggle were Peloponnesian Greeks whom, we may expect, the events of the Dorian invasion incited to wander. Much about the same time the Phoenicians also began to plant settlements in the island, mainly in the centreAmathusCition, Idalion, Tamassus, Lapathus—and some places seem to have been colonized jointly by Phoenicians and Greeks, just as on the coast of Asia Minor Greeks and Carians mingled. The Greeks brought their Aegean civilization, now in a decadent stage, with them, and abundant relics of it have been found. But a new Cypriot culture arose out of the intermingling of the two races; and the Greeks, under Phoenician influence, became so zealous in the worship of Aphrodite that she was universally known as the Cyprian goddess.

The settlers in Cyprus spoke the Arcadian dialect, but this does not prove that their old homes were in Arcadia. Before the Dorians came and developed new dialects, the Arcadian speech with but slight variations prevailed in the coast-lands as well as in the center of the peninsula; and some of the Cypriot Greeks went forth from Laconia and Argolis. Some sailed from Salamis in the Attic bay and gave their name to Salamis in Cyprus. The colonists in their distant island might pride themselves on taking a step in advance of the rest of the Greek world—but it was a step which they had better have left untaken. They found there a mode of writing, in which each syllable of a word was represented by a sign. This syllabic system, which had been borrowed from the Hittites, was ill-adapted to express the Greek language; but the colonists adapted it to their use, and were thus able to write many years sooner than their fellow Greeks. But nothing is clumsier than a Greek writing in the Cypriot character, and it would have been better if they had waited longer and learned with the rest of their race the use of a finer instrument.

As for the chronology of all these movements which went to the making of historical Greece, we must be content with approximate limits :—

XIII to X Century

Achaean colonization

Fall of Troy

Beginnings of Ionian colonization

Thessalian conquest Boeotian conquest

Dorian conquest of Crete and islands

Dorian conquest of eastern Peloponnesus


XI Century

                        Colonization of Cyprus

X Century

                        Continuation of Ionian colonization

                        Dorian colonization of Asia Minor




No Greek folk has laid Europe under a greater debt of gratitude than the Achaeans, for the Achaeans originated epic poetry, and the beginning of European literature goes back to them. But the supreme inspiration came to their minstrels on Asiatic soil. They went forth from their Thessalian homes, bearing in their souls poetical legends, and that most precious of possessions, the rhythm of their six-footed verse. Their toils and adventures in settling in a new land, and their struggles with the Phrygians, gave a fresh impulse to poetic creation, and the old tales of the gods of nature were transfigured into historical myths. Deities, in this transformation, took upon themselves the guise of heroes—men of divine parentage; and the eternal processes of nature with which the old tales dealt were changed into human conflicts, in which the original motive was dis­guised. It was thus that the myth of Achilles and Agamemnon at the siege of Troy grew up. Achilles was a sea-god, son of Thetis, goddess of the sea. Agamemnon was likewise a god; and the same deity appears, fighting on the Trojan side, as the sun-god Memnon, son of the Morning. In both cases the sea-god is his antagonist. Achilles slays Memnon : the historical motive is that they are ranged on opposite sides in the war. Again, he is wroth with Agamemnon, and will not serve him. Here an event of actual history is introduced as the motive of that high wrath. Agamemnon has taken away for himself the maiden whom Achilles had won at the capture of the Lesbian Bresa; and the capture of Bresa was an actual event. Thus were legend and history blended into poetical myth.

When once the first step was taken, the legend of the siege was developed and elaborated as a history, without any regard to the primitive motive, which was wholly forgotten. In the early lays the Trojan story seems to have ended with the death of Hector.  The original conception was not the tale of a siege which found its consummation in the fall of the fortress; the siege was rather the setting for the strife between Agamemnon and Achilles, between Achilles and Hector. The story of Troys fall and the wooden horse is a later invention. It almost looks as if the Achillean myth was created before the destruction of Troy; for if it had originated afterwards, the impression of the catastrophe could hardly have failed to produce an echo in the first lays.

It was, perhaps, in the eleventh century, at Smyrna or some other Aeolian town, that the nucleus of the Iliad was composed, on the basis of those older lays, by a poet whom we may call the first Homer, though it is not probable that he was the poet who truly bore that name. He sang in the Achaean, or as it came to be called the Aeolian, tongue. His poem was the Wrath of Achilles and the Death of Hector, and it forms only the smaller part of the Iliad. It was not till the ninth century that the Iliad really came into being. Then a poet of supreme genius arose, and it may be that he was the singer whose name was actually Homer. This famous name has the humble meaning of “hostage”, and we may fancy, if we care, that the poet was carried off in his youth as a hostage in some of the struggles between Aeolian and Ionian cities. He composed his poetry in rugged Chios, and he gives us a local touch when he describes the sun as rising over the sea. From him the Homerid family of the bards of Chios were sprung. He took in hand the older poem of the wrath of Achilles and expanded it into the shape and compass of the greater part of the Iliad. He is the poet who created one of the noblest episodes in the whole epic, Priam’s ran­soming of Hector. Tradition made Homer the author of both the great epics, the Odyssey as well as the Iliad. This is not probable. It can hardly have been before the eighth century that the old lays of the wandering of Odysseus and the slaying of the suitors were taken in hand and wrought into a large poem. Like Achilles, Odysseus was originally a god; his wife Penelope was a goddess; and here again the legend was shaped through the influence of his­torical circumstances. Stories of perils and marvels in the unexplored Euxine were wafted to the Greeks of Asia long before their own seamen ventured into those waters; and these tales had supplied the material for the old poem of the Return of Odysseus.

We may suppose, then, that Homer lived at Chios in the ninth century, and was the true author of the Iliad. He did not give it the exact shape in which it was ultimately transmitted; for it received from his successors in the art additions and extensions which were not entirely to its advantage. But it was he, to all seeming, who first conceived and wrought out the idea of a mighty epic. He was no mere stringer together of ancient lays. He took the motives, he caught the spirit, of the older poems; he wove them into the fabric of his own composition; but he was himself as divinely inspired as any of the elder minstrels, and he was the father of epic poetry, in the sense in which we distinguish an epic poem with a large argument from a short lay. His work was thoroughly artificial—conscious art, as the greatest poetry always is; and it is probable that he committed the Iliad to writing. As he and his successors sang in Ionia, at the courts of Ionian princes, either he or his successors dealt freely with the dialect of the old Achaean poems. The Iliad and Odyssey were arrayed in Ionic dress, and ultimately became so identified with Ionia that the Achaean origin of the older poems was forgotten. The transformation was not, indeed, perfect, for sometimes the Ionian forms did not suit the metre and the Aeolian forms had to remain. But the change was accomplished with wonderful skill, and the old Achaean bards speak to the world, and must speak for ever, in the Ionian tongue, but constantly bewrayed by an intractable Achaean word.

To the student of literature the Homeric poems would be a more satisfactory study, if they were simple compositions which belonged entirely to the same age. But for the historian their complex character should be a distinct gain. Leaving aside later additions, each poem forms has an earlier and a later part, which are separated by an interval of many generations; and so we have two sets of documents, affording us evidence of the social progress which was made in the meantime. Yet the gain is not so great as might be expected. The old Achaean poet, doubtless, reflected faithfully the form and feature of his time; and if the Ionian poet had done likewise, we should have an exact measure of the advance which civilization had achieved in the intervening centuries. But the Ionian poet wrought in a different fashion. He strove to live into the atmosphere of the past ages which enveloped the Achaean poems on which he worked. He did not, of his own will or purpose, reproduce the manners or environment or geography of his own day. He was, indeed, too good a poet, and not a good enough antiquarian, to trouble himself over much about discrepancies; but, so far as he knew, he sought to avoid them. Fortunately for us, however, anachronisms slipped in. Unwittingly the poet of the Odyssey allows it to escape that he lived in the iron age, for such a proverb as “the mere gleam of iron lures a man to strife” could not have arisen until iron weapons had been long in use. But though the occasional mention of iron betrays him, he is at pains to preserve the weapons and gear of the bronze age.

In one respect Homer was inevitably under the influence of the later conditions. Since the days when the Trojan legend first took shape, the political aspect of Greece had been transformed, and in an age when no historical records were kept it was impossible to avoid interpreting the geography of the older bards in relation to the geography of the ninth century. On the eastern shores of the Peloponnesus, in the plain where Mycenae had once been queen, Argos had risen to supreme power. In the north the land of the Achaeans had been conquered by the Thessalian invaders. To no one in Homer’s time could Argos and the Argives mean anything save the city and people of the Peloponnesus. The fame of the southern Argos had entirely overshadowed its northern namesake, of which the old Achaean minstrels had sung. No one spoke any longer of the Argives of Thessaly. And so, by a most natural process, the Achaeans and Argives of Agamemnon were translated to the Peloponnesus; and it was the southern Argos which was in the mind of Homer. But traces were left of the old conception. Achilles and his Achaeans are left in northern Greece; and the epithet “horse-feeding” betrays the true site of the Achaean Argos. One of the clearest signs of the transformation is this. If Agamemnon had originally belonged to the Peloponnesian Argos, Mycenae must have been his kingdom; and his kingship at golden Mycenae must have been a primary unsuppressed fact in the original woof of the legend. But he was not associated with Mycenae in the old poem; even in the expanded poem Mycenae is mentioned only incidentally. Mycenae and Orchomenus must have been well known by the fame of their wealth to the earliest minstrels; but they were names of distant places which had no more to do than Egyptian Thebes with the matter of the legend.

This geographical transformation involved consequences of the highest import for Greek history. When it came to be thought that the lords of the Peloponnesus had taken a leading part in the Trojan war, as well as the kings of northern Greece, the Trojan war began to assume the shape of a great national enterprise. All the Greeks looked back to it with pride; all desired to have some share in its glory. Consequently, a great many stories were invented in various communities for the purpose of bringing their ancestors into con­nection with the Trojan expedition. And the Iliad was regarded as something of far greater significance than an Ionian poem; it was accepted as a national epic, and was, from the first, a powerful engine in promoting among the Greeks community of feeling and tendencies towards national unity. For two hundred years after its birth the Iliad went on gathering additions; and the bards were not unready to make insertions in order to satisfy the pride of the princely and noble families at whose courts they sang. Finally, the Catalogue of the Greek host was composed, formulating explicitly the Panhellenic character of the expedition against Troy.

The Odyssey, affiliated as it was to the Trojan legend, became a national epic too. And the interest awakened in Greece by the idea of the Trojan war was displayed by the composition of a series of epic poems, dealing with those events of the siege which happened both before and after the events described in the Iliad, and with the subsequent history of some of the Greek heroes. These poems were anonymous, and passed under the name of Homer. Along with the Iliad and Odyssey, they formed a chronological series which came to be known as the Epic Cycle.




The Homeric poems give us our earliest glimpse of the working of those political institutions which were the common heritage of most of the children, whether children by adoption or by birth, of the Aryan stock,—of Greek, Roman, and German alike. They show us the King at the head. But he does not govern wholly of his own will; he is guided by a Council of the chief men of the community whom he consults; and the decisions of the council and king deliberating together are brought before the Assembly of the whole people. Out of these three elements, King, Council, and Assembly, the constitutions of Europe have grown; here are the germs of all the various forms of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy.

But in the most ancient times this political organization was weak and loose. The true power in primitive society was the family. When we first meet the Greeks they live together in family com­munities. Their villages are habitations of a genos, that is, of a clan, or family in a wide sense; all the members being descended from a common ancestor and bound together by the tie of blood. Origin­ally the chief of the family had the power of life and death over all who belonged to the family; and it was only as the authority of the state grew and asserted itself against the comparative independence of the family, that this power gradually passed away. But the village communities are not, as they were in the Asian foreworld, isolated and independent; they are part of a larger community which is called phyle or tribe. The tribe is the whole people of the kingdom, in the kingdom’s simplest form; and the territory which the tribe inhabited was called its deme. When a king became powerful and won sway over the demes of neighboring kings, a community consisting of more than one tribe would arise; and, while each tribe had to merge its separate political institutions in the common institutions of the whole state, it would retain its separate identity within the larger union.

It was usual for several families to group themselves together into a society called a phratra or brotherhood, which had certain common religious usages. The organization of clan and tribe, with the intermediate unit of the phratry, was a framework derived from Aryan forefathers, shared at least by other Aryan races. For we find the same institutions among the Romans and among the Germans. The clan is the foundation of Roman society; the Julian gens, for instance, has exactly the same social significance as the genos of the Alcmaeonids of Attica. The phyle is the Roman tribe; and the phratry corresponds to the Roman curia, and to our own English hundred. The importance of the brotherhood is illustrated by Homer’s description of an outcast, as one who has no “brothers” and no hearth.

The importance of the family is most vividly shown in the manner in which the Greeks possessed the lands which they conquered. The soil did not become the private property of individual freemen, nor yet the public property of the whole community. The king of the tribe or tribes marked out the whole territory into parcels, according to the number of families in the community; and the families cast lots for the estates. Each family then possessed its own estate; the head of the family administered it, but had no power of alienating it. The land belonged to the whole kin, but not to any particular member. The right of property in land seems to have been based, not on the right of conquest, but on a religious sentiment. Each family buried their dead within their own domain; and it was held that the dead possessed for ever and ever the soil where they lay, and that the land round about a sepulcher belonged right­fully to their living kinsfolk, one of whose highest duties was to protect and tend the tombs of their fathers.

The king was at once the chief priest, the chief judge, and the supreme leader of the tribe. He exercised a general control over religious ceremonies, except in cases where there were special priest­hoods; he pronounced judgment and dealt out justice to those who came to his judgment-seat to have their wrongs righted, and he led forth the host to war. He belonged to a family which claimed descent from the gods themselves. His relation to his people was conceived as that of a protecting deity; “he was revered as a god in the deme.” The kingship passed from sire to son, but it is probable that personal fitness was recognized as a condition of the kingly office, and the people might refuse to accept a degenerate son who was unequal to the tasks that his father had fulfilled. The sceptred king had various privileges—the seat of honor at feasts, a large and choice share of booty taken in war and of food offered at sacrifices. A special close of land was marked out and set apart for him as a royal domain, distinct from that which his family owned.

The royal functions were vague enough, and a king had no power to enforce his will, if it did not meet the approval of the heads of the people. He must always look for the consent and seek the opinion of the deliberative Council of the Elders. Strictly perhaps the members of the Council ought to have been the heads of all the clans, and they would thus have represented the whole tribe, or all the tribes if there were more than one. But we must take it for granted, as an ultimate fact, which we have not the means of explaining, that certain families had come to hold a privileged position above the others—had, in fact, been marked out as noble, and claimed descent from Zeus; and the Council was composed of this nobility. In the puissant authority of this Council of Elders lay the germ of future aristocracy.

More important than either King or Council for the future growth of Greece was the Gathering of the people, out of which democracy was to spring. All the freemen of the tribe—all the freemen of the nation, when more tribes had been united—met together, not at stated times, but whenever the king summoned them, to hear and acclaim what he and his councilors proposed. To hear and acclaim, but not to debate or propose themselves. As yet, the Gathering of the folk for purposes of policy had not been differentiated from the Gathering for the purpose of war. The host which the king led forth against the foe was the same as the folk which assented, by silence or applause, to the declarations of his will in the Agora. The Assembly was not yet distinguished as an institution from the army; and if Agamemnon summons his host to declare his resolutions in the plain of Troy, such a gathering is the Agora in no figurative sense, it is no mere military assembly formed on the model of a political assembly  it is in the fullest sense the Assembly of the people—the fellow institution of the Roman comitia, our own gemot, derived all three from the same old Aryan gatherings.

The king was surrounded by a body of Companions, or retainers, who were attached to him by personal ties of service, and seem often to have abode in his palace. The Companions are the same institution as the thanes of our own English kings. If monarchy had held its ground in Greece, the Companions might possibly, as in England, have developed into a new order of nobility, founded, not on birth, but on the king's own choice for his service.

Though the monarchy of this primitive form, as we find it reflected in the Homeric lays, generally passed away, and was already passing away when the latest lays were written, it survived in a few outlying regions which lagged behind the rest of the Hellenic world in political development. Thus the Macedonian Greeks in the lower valley of the Axius retained a constitution of the old Homeric type till the latest times—the royal power continually growing. At the close of the tale of Greek conquest and expansion, which began on the Cayster and ended on the Hyphasis, we shall come back by a strange revolution to the Homeric state. When all the divers forms of the rule of the few and the rule of the many, which grew out of the primitive monarchy, have had their day, we shall see the Macedonian warrior, who is to complete the work that was begun by the Achaean conqueror of Bresa, attended by his Com­panions like Agamemnon or Achilles, and ruling his people like an Achaean king of men.

The constitutional fabric of the Greek states was thus simple and loose in the days of Homer. Perhaps few large communities had come into Greece, but larger communities were constantly formed in the course of the conquest. In the later part of the royal period a new movement is setting in, which is to decide the future of Greek history. The city begins to emerge and take form and shape out of the loose aggregate of villages. The inhabitants of a plain or valley are induced to leave their scattered villages and make their dwellings side by side in one place, which would generally be under the shadow of the king's fortress. At first the motive would be to gain the pro­tection afforded by joint habitation in unsettled times; just as we find in an earlier age villages grouped under the citadel of Mycenae. Sometimes the group of villages would be girt by a wall; sometimes the protection of the castle above would be deemed enough. The change from village to city life was general, but not universal; many communities continued to live in villages, and did not form cities till long afterwards. The movement was promoted by the kings; and it is probable that strong kings often brought it about by compulsion. But in promoting it they were unwittingly undermining the monarchical constitution, and paving the way for their own abolition. A city-state naturally tends to be a republic.

In the heroic age, then, and even in the later days when the Homeric poems were composed, the state had not fully emerged from the society. No laws were enacted and maintained by the state. Those ordinances and usages which guided the individual man in his conduct, and which are necessary for the preservation of any society, were maintained by the sanction of religion. There were certain crimes which the gods punished. But it was for the family, not for the whole community, to deal with the shedder of blood. The justice which the king administered was really arbitration. A stranger had no right of protection, and might be slain in a foreign community, unless he was bound by the bond of guest friendship with a member of that community, and then he came under the pro­tection of Zeus the Hospitable. Wealth in these ages consisted of herds and flocks; for, though the Greeks were tillers of the soil and had settled in a country which was already agricultural, the land was not rich enough to bestow wealth. The value of a suit of armor, for instance, or a slave was expressed in oxen. Piracy was a common trade, as was inevitable in a period when there was no organized maritime power strong enough to put it down. So many practised this means of livelihood that it bore no reproach ; and when seamen landed on a strange strand, the natural question to ask them was : “Outlanders, whence come ye? are ye robbers that rove the seas?”




Under their kings the Greeks had conquered the coasts and islands of the Aegean, and had created the city-state. These were the two great contributions of monarchy to Grecian history. In forwarding the change from rural life in scattered thorps to life in cities, the kings were doubtless considering themselves as well as their people. They thought that the change would consolidate their own power by bringing the whole folk directly under their own eye. But it also brought the king more directly under the eye of his folk. The frailties, incapacities, and misconduct of a weak lord were more noticed in the small compass of a city; he was more generally criticized and judged. City-life too was less appropriate to the patriarchal character of the Homeric “shepherd of the people”. Moreover, in a city those who were ill-pleased with the king’s rule were more tempted to murmur together, and were able more easily to conspire. Considerations like these may help us to imagine how it came about that throughout the greater part of Greece in the eighth century the monarchies were declining and disappearing, and republics were taking their place. It is a transformation of which the actual process is hidden from us, and we can only guess at probable causes; but we may be sure that the deepest cause of all was the change to city-life. The revolution was general; the infec­tion caught and spread; but the change in different states must have had different occasions, just as it took different shapes. In some cases gross misrule may have led to the violent deposition of a king; in other cases, if the succession to the scepter devolved upon an infant or a paltry man, the nobles may have taken it upon them­selves to abolish the monarchy. In many places perhaps the change was slower. The kings who had already sought to strengthen their authority by the foundation of cities must have sought also to increase or define those vague powers which belonged to an Aryan ruler—sought, perhaps, to act of their own freewill without due regard to the Council's advice. When such attempts at magnifying the royal power went too far, the elders of the Council might rise and gainsay the king, and force him to enter into a contract with his people that he would govern constitutionally. Of the existence of such contracts we have evidence. The old monarchy lasted into late times in remote Molossia, and there the king was obliged to take a solemn oath to rule his people according to law. In other cases, the rights of the king might be strictly limited, in consequence of his seeking to usurp undue authority; and the imposition of limitations might go on until the office of king, although maintained in name, became in fact a mere magistracy in a state wherein the real power had passed elsewhere. Of the survival of monarchy in a limited form we have an example at Sparta; of its survival as a mere magistracy we have an example at Athens. And it should be observed that the functions of the monarch were already restricted by limits which could easily be restricted further. Though he was the supreme giver of dooms, there might be other heads of clans or tribes in the state who could give dooms and judgment as well as he. Though he was the chief priest, there were other families than his to which certain priesthoods were confined. He was therefore not the sole fountain of justice or religion.

There is a vivid scene in Homer which seems to have been painted when kings were seeking to draw tighter the reins of the royal power. The poet, who is in sympathy with the kings, draws a comic and odious caricature of the “bold” carle with the gift of fluent speech, who criticizes the conduct and policy of the kings. Such an episode could hardly have suggested itself in the old days before city-life had begun; Thersites is assuredly a product of the town. Odysseus, who rates and beats him, announces, in another part of the same scene, a maxim which has become as famous as Thersites himself: “the sovereignty of many is not good; let there be one sovereign, one king”. That is a maxim which would win applause for the minstrel in the banquet-halls of monarchs who were trying to carry through a policy of centralization at the expense of the chiefs of the tribes.

Where the monarchy was abolished, the government passed into the hands of those who had done away with it, the noble families of the state. The distinction of the nobles from the rest of the people is, as we have seen, an ultimate fact with which we have to start. When the nobles assume the government and become the rulers, an aristocratic republic arises. Sometimes the power is won, not by the whole body of the noble clans, but by the clan to which the king belonged. This was the case at Corinth, where the royal family of the Bacchiads became the rulers. In most cases the aristocracy and the whole nobility coincided; but in others, as at Corinth, the aristocracy was only a part of the nobility, and the constitution was an oligarchy of the narrowest form.

At this stage of society the men of the noble class were the nerve and sinew of the state. Birth was then the best general test of excellence that could be found, and the rule of the nobles was a true aristocracy, the government of the most excellent. They practiced the craft of ruling; they were trained in it, they handed it down from father to son; and though no great men arose—great men are dangerous in an aristocracy—the government was conducted with knowledge and skill. Close aristocracies, like the Corinthian, were apt to become oppressive; and, when the day approached for aristocracies in their turn to give way to new constitutions, there were signs of grievous degeneration. But on the whole the Greek republics flourished in the aristocratic stage, and were guided with eminent ability.

The rise of the republics is about to take us into a new epoch of history; but it is important to note the continuity of the work which was to be done by the aristocracies with that which was accomplished by the kings. The two great achievements of the aristocratic age are the planting of Greek cities in lands far beyond the limits of the Aegean sea, and the elaboration of political machinery. The first of these is simply the continuation of the expansion of the Greeks around the Aegean itself. But the new movement of expansion is distinguished, as we shall see, by certain peculiarities in its outward forms,—features which were chiefly due to the fact that city-life had been introduced before the colonization began. The beginning of colonization belonged to the age of transition from monarchy to republic; it was systematically promoted by the aristocracies, and it took a systematic shape. The creation of political machinery carried on the work of consolidation which the kings had begun when they gathered together into cities the loose elements of their states. When royalty was abolished or put, as we say, “into commission”, the ruling families of the republic had to substitute magistracies tenable for limited periods and had to determine how the magistrates were to be appointed, how their functions were to be circumscribed, how the provinces of authority were to be assigned. New machinery had to be created, to replace that one of the three parts of the con­stitution which had disappeared. It may be added that under the aristocracies the idea of law began to take a clearer shape in men’s minds, and the traditions which guided usage began to assume the form of laws. In the lays of Homer we hear only of the single dooms given by the kings or judges in particular cases. At the close of the aristocratic period comes the age of the lawgivers, and the aristocracies had prepared the material which the lawgivers improved, qualified, and embodied in codes.



The Greeks were destined to become a great sea-faring people. But sea-trade was a business which it took them many ages to learn, after they had reached the coasts of the Aegean; it was long before they could step into the place of the old sea-kings of Crete. Their Phoenician occupation of the islands was accompanied by a decline of the maritime supremacy which the Aegean islanders and especially the Cretans enjoyed; and there was a long interval during which the trade of the Aegean with the east was partly carried on by strangers. The men who took advantage of this opening were the traders of the city-states of Sidon and Tyre on the Syrian coast, men of that Semitic stock to which Jew, Arab, and Assyrian alike belonged. These coast-landers, born merchants like the Jews, seem to have migrated to the shores of the Mediterranean from an older home on the shores of the Red Sea, and it is possible that this older home was a region of the land known to the Egyptians as the land of Punt. This would explain the origin of their Punic name. But Greek fancy associated the name of the traders from the east with a like-sounding word of their own, phoenix, “bright-red”, a name or epithet of the sun-god; and so the men of Sidon and Sidon’s sister-cities were called Phoenicians—as it were, men from Phoenice, the sun-god’s red land. And various legends grew up, most famous of all the legend of Cadmus and Europa, connecting Phoenicia with Greece.

We have no warrant for speaking of a Phoenician sea-lordship in the Aegean. The evidence of the Homeric poems shows clearly that between the commercial enterprise of the heroic age and the commercial enterprise of the later Greeks there was an interval of per­haps two hundred years or thereabouts, during which no Greek state possessed a sea-power strong enough to exclude foreign merchants from Greek seas, and trade was consequently shared by Greek and Tyrian merchants. It was not only Phoenician carriers who came to Greece; the Greeks also sailed to Syria and Cyprus; and the Carians developed a considerable sea-power. We shall see in the next chapter how the men of Tyre and Sidon made a new Phoenicia in the western Mediterranean; but on the shores of the Aegean they seem to have made no serious attempts, or at least to have succeeded in no attempts, to plant permanent settlements, except at Camirus in Rhodes, and possibly in the island of Cythera. It may be that they had stations at the principal fisheries of Cos and Nisyros and Erythrae and elsewhere; it has been supposed that they were the first to tap the gold-mines of Siphnos and Thasos and even the silver-mines of Attica. It has been held that there were Phoenician settlements on the Isthmus of Corinth, under the Acropolis of Athens, and even at inland Thebes. There is no assurance or probability that such settlements were ever made. The Phoenicians doubtless had marts here and there on coast or island; but there is no reason to think that Canaanites made homes for themselves on Greek soil or introduced Semitic blood into the population of Greece. It was not here that the struggle was to be fought out between Baal and Zeus. Their ships were ever winding in and out of the Aegean isles from south to north, bearing fair naperies from Syria, fine-wrought bowls and cups from the workshops of Sidonian and Cypriot silversmiths, and all manner of luxuries and ornaments; and this constant commercial intercourse lasting for two centuries is amply sufficient to account for all the influence that Phoenicia exerted upon Greece. In the worship of Aphrodite and other Greek goddesses we see the influence of the cult of Syrian Astarte; and the Phoenician god Melkart was not only taken into Greek mythology under the name Melicertes, but was identified in many places with the Greek god Heracles. The briskest trade was perhaps driven with the thriving cities of Ionia, and the Phoenicians adopted the Ionian name, and diffused it in Syria, as the general designation of all the Greeks.

These things were of slight concern compared with one inestimable service which the Phoenicians rendered to Hellas and thereby to Europe. They gave the Greeks the most useful instrument of civilization, the art of writing. It was perhaps at the beginning of the ninth century, hardly later, that the Phoenician alphabet was moulded to the needs of the Greek language. In this adaptation the Greeks showed their genius. The alphabet of the Phoenicians and their Semitic brethren is an alphabet of consonants; the Greeks added the vowels. They took some of the consonantal symbols for which their own language had no corresponding sounds, and used these superfluous signs to represent the vowels. Several alphabets, differing in certain details, were diffused in various parts of the Hellenic world, but they all agree in the main points, and we may suppose that the original idea was worked out in Ionia. In Ionia, at all events, writing was introduced at an early period and was perhaps used by poets of the ninth century. Certain it is that the earliest reference to writing is in the Iliad, in the story of Bellerophon, who carries from Argos to Lycia “deadly symbols in a folded tablet”. It seems simpler to suppose that the poet had in his mind a letter written in the Greek alphabet, than that he was thinking of the old pictorial forms of writing which were employed in ancient times; and if this be so, the Greek alphabet must have been in use before the episode of Bellerophon was composed. Perhaps the earliest example of a Greek writing that we possess is on an Attic jar of the seventh century; it says the jar shall be the prize of the dancer who dances more gaily than all others. But the lack of early inscriptions is what we should expect. The new art was used for ordinary and literary purposes long before it was employed for official records. It was the great gift which the Semites, who themselves derived it from Egypt, gave to Europe.

The Phoenicians exerted little or insignificant influence upon Greek art; on the contrary, it was probably from Aegean art that they learned much of what they knew. They had no artistic genius; they were imitators, not creators. And though the Homeric poems show that the skill of Phoenician artists was highly prized, the Greeks of Ionia had not to send to Phoenicia for lack of cunning workmen at home. The subjects wrought on the shield which the master-smith made for Achilles may be illustrated by inlaid works in metal of Phoenician or Cypriot craftsmen, but there is not the smallest reason to think that the work which stimulated the poet’s imagination was made by foreign hands. It was rather wrought by some successor of the ancient craftsmen whose handi­work we see in those inlaid dagger-blades which were found in tombs at Mycenae. The work of the artist has been doubtless elaborated and beautified by the imagination of the poet, who has drawn vivid and beautiful scenes of life in Ionia in the ninth century. The shield, wrought in bronze, tin, silver, and gold, is round and has a ringed space in the centre, encompassed by three concentric girdles. In the middle is the earth, the sea, and the heaven, with “the unwearied sun and the moon at her full, and all the stars wherewith heaven is crowned”. The subject of the first circle is Peace and War. Here are scenes in a city at peace—banquets, brides borne through the streets by torchlight to their new homes, the elders dealing out justice; there is another city besieged, and scenes of battle. The second circle shows scenes from country-life at various seasons of the year: ploughing in spring, the ploughman drinking a draught of wine as he reaches the end of the black furrow; a king watching reapers reaping in his meadows, and the prepara­tions for a harvest festival; a bright vintage scene, “young men and maids tearing the sweet fruit in wicker baskets”, and dancing, while a boy plays a lyre and sings the song of Linus ; herdsmen with their dogs pursuing two lions which had carried off an ox from the banks of a sounding river; a pasture and shepherds’ huts in a mountain glen. The whole was girded by the third, outmost circle through which “the great might of the river Oceanus” flowed—rounding off, as it were, the life of mortals by its girdling stream.




We must now see what the Greeks thought of their own early history. Their construction of it, though founded on legendary tradition and framed without much historical sense, has considerable importance, since their ideas about the past affected their views of the present. Their belief in their legendary past was thoroughly practical; mythic events were often the basis of diplomatic transac­tions; claims to territory might be founded on the supposed conquests or dominions of ancient heroes of divine birth.

At first, before the growth of historical curiosity, the chief motive for investigating the past was the desire of noble families to derive their origin from a god. For this purpose they sought to connect their pedigrees with heroic ancestors, especially with Heracles or with the warriors who had fought at Troy. For just as the Trojan war came to be regarded as a national enterprise, so Heracles—who seems originally to have been specially associated with Argolis—was looked on as a national hero. The consequence was that the Greeks framed their history on genealogies and determined their chronology by generations, reckoning three generations to a hundred years. The later Homeric poets must have contributed a great deal to the fixing of the mutual relations of legendary events; but it the poets of the school of Hesiod in the seventh century who did most to reduce to a historical system the legends of the heroic age. Their poems are lost, but they were worked up into still more complete and elaborate schemes by the prose logographers or “story-writers” of the sixth and fifth centuries, of whom perhaps the most influential were Hecataeus of Miletus and Acusilaus of Argos. The original works of the logographers have also perished, but their teaching has come down to us fully enough in the works of later compilers and commentators.

In the first place, it had to be determined how the various branches of the Greek race were related. As soon as the Greeks came to be called by the common name of Hellenes, they derived their whole stock from an eponymous ancestor, Hellen, who lived in Thessaly. They had then to account for its distribution into a number of different branches. In Greece proper they might have searched long, among the various folks speaking various idioms, for some principle of classification which should determine the nearer and further degrees of kinship between the divisions of the race, and establish two or three original branches to which every community could trace itself back. But when they looked over to the eastern Greece on the farther side of the Aegean, they saw, as it were, a reflection of themselves, their own children divided into three homogeneous groups—Aeolians, Ionians, and Dorians. This gave a simple classification : three families sprung from Aeolus, Ion, and Dorus, who must evidently have been the sons of Hellen. But there was one difficulty. Homer’s Achaeans had still to be accounted for; they could not be affiliated to Aeolians, or Ionians, or Dorians, none of whom play a part in the Iliad. Accordingly it was arranged that Hellen had three sons, Aeolus, Dorus, and Xuthus; and Ion and Achaeus were the sons of Xuthus. It was easy enough then, by the help of tradition and language, to fit the ethnography of Greece under these labels; and the manifold dialects were forced under three  artificial divisions.

The two great events on which everything turned and to which all other events were related were the Trojan war and the Dorian conquest of the Peloponnesus. A most curious version of the Dorian conquest was invented in Argos and won its way into general belief; it is the supreme illustration of the motives and methods of the Greeks in reconstructing their past. The Temenids, the royal family of Argos, derived themselves from Aegimius, to whom the foundation of the Dorian institutions was ascribed. But as the fame and glory of Heracles waxed great, the Temenids desired to connect themselves with him. The problem was solved with wonderful skill. The eponymous ancestors of the three Dorian tribes, Hyllus, Pamphylus, and Dyman, were naturally regarded as the sons of Aegimius. According to the new story Hyllus was really the son of Heracles. It was said that Heracles fought against the Lapiths for Aegimius who was Dorian king in Thessaly, and that he received a third of the kingdom as a reward for his valiant service. On his death, his children were protected by Aegimius, who adopted Hyllus, and confirmed him in the possession of his father’s third. The sons of Hyllus failed in their attempts to recover the possessions of Heracles in the Peloponnesus; the achievement was reserved for his great-grandchildren, Temenus, Cresphontes, and Aristodemus. With a Dorian host, they crossed from Naupactus, under the guidance of a one-eyed Aetolian man named Oxylus, and conquered all the Peloponnesus except Arcadia. They gave Elis to Oxylus for his pains. Those of the Achaean inhabitants of the peninsula, who did not migrate beyond the sea, retreated to the northern coast-land— the historical Achaea. The other three parts of the Peloponnesus fell by lot to the three brothers, Messenia to Cresphontes, Laconia to Aristodemus, and Argos to Temenus. An explanation was added how there were two royal houses at Sparta. Aristodemus died prematurely, and Laconia was divided between his twin sons Eurysthenes and Procles.

Thus the Dorian invasion was justified as a recovery of usurped rights; and the royal houses of Argos and Sparta renounced their Dorian origin and connected themselves by blood with Heracles who was associated with the pre-Dorian lords of Argolis. In the conception of the Dorian conquest there were two serious mistakes. The explanation of the origin of Peloponnesian Achaea was due to the false idea, derived from Homer, that the older inhabitants of the peninsula were Achaeans; and there was no such thing as a Dorian conquest of Messenia till a far later epoch.

The significance of Heracles and the mythopoeic methods of the Greeks are also illustrated by the manner of his association with Troy. The framework of legendary chronology forbade his taking part in the Trojan war; he belonged to an older generation than Agamemnon and Achilles. But Greece—or at least Argos—was determined that the great hero, whose life was spent in clearing the world of monsters and wicked men, should also appear as a champion of Hellas against Asia. To Troy he must somehow be brought. Accordingly an older Trojan expedition was manufactured specially for him, and Troy was said to have been twice sacked.

Every place in Greece had its own local legends, which grew up quite independently. Sometimes they were adapted and modified to suit the legendary scheme of the poets and “story-writers”; but often they lived on, unscrupulously accepted notwithstanding all incompatibilities. In several cases we find in the poems of Homer and Hesiod legends which are inconsistent with those which became currently accepted. Thus Cadmus was the founder of Thebes according to the current legend; but in the Odyssey, Thebes is built by Amphion and Zethus. The origin of Corinth was traced on one hand to Ephyre, daughter of Ocean; on the other to Sisyphus, the son of Aeolus. The received genealogy of pre-Dorian Argos had no connection with Hellen and his sons. Argos derived its origin from Inachus—a personification of the stream of Inachus which flows by the town—who, like most rivers, was regarded as a son of Ocean; Argos was his great-grandson; Io, from whom the Danaoi were descended, was his daughter. Thus it emerges that the pre-Dorian Argives were not Hellenes, for they were not derived from Hellen. If the legend had been true to history they should have been traced from Ion, as there was probably a large Ionian element in Argolis. The Arcadians derived themselves from Pelasgus—the eponymous ancestor of the Pelasgian race—and this belief reflects what was doubtless an historical fact, that the bulk of the population of Arcadia belonged to the old pre-Hellenic race of the land. But the manipulators of legend did not keep their hand from Pelasgus. While Hesiod regarded him as an earth-born man, an Argive logographer made him out to be a brother of Argos and descended from Inachus.

But for most of the Greeks connections with Hellen and his sons were manufactured. It was to Aeolus that most descents were traced. He had seven sons and five daughters, and it was not difficult to work out more or less plausible connections. Aetolian legends fastened themselves on to his daughter Calyce. His son Sisyphus founded Corinth. The Thessalian heroes, Admetus and Jason, were derived from another son, Cretheus. Perhaps the most interesting instance is the genealogy which was established for the Codrid families of Miletus and other cities of Ionia. They traced up their lineage to Poseidon and at the same time derived themselves from Hellen. The story was that Salmoneus, son of Aeolus, had a daughter who bore to Poseidon twin sons, Pelias and Neleus. As Pelias won the Thessalian kingdom of Iolcos, Neleus went forth from the land and founded a kingdom for himself at Pylos in the south­west of the Peloponnesus. He was succeeded by Nestor, who in his old age bore a part in the Trojan war. Nestor's fourth successor Melanthus was ruler of Pylos when the Dorians came down into the Peloponnesus, and he retreated before their attack to Athens, where he became king and was the father of Codrus. Then Neleus, a son of Codrus, led the Ionian migration to Asia Minor. Thus a number of different traditions were wrought into a narrative, which, originating in Ionia, was accepted in Attica and influenced the ideas of the Athenians about a part of their own early history.

The Greeks were not content that their legends should be confined to the range of their own country and their own race; and, in curious contrast with that exclusive pride which drew a hard and fast line between Greek and barbarian, they brought their ancestors and their myths into connection with foreign lands. Thus the myth of Io made the Danaoi of Argos cousins of the Egyptians. By her amour with Zeus, Io became the grandmother of Danaus and Aegyptus, the eponymous ancestors of the two peoples. Cadmus, the name-sire of the Cadmeians of Thebes, was represented as a Phoenician, who went forth from his own land in quest of his sister Europa and settled in Boeotia. The Aeolian colonists found a new origin for Pelops in Lesbos or in Lydia; and the tale which gained widest belief made him son of Tantalus, king of Sipylus, whence he migrated to the Peloponnesus and founded the royal line of Argos, from which Agamemnon was sprung. A Corinthian legend brought the early history of Corinth into connection with Colchis, representing Aeetes, offspring of the Sun, as the first Corinthian king, and his daughter Medea as heiress to the land. The true home of the Greeks before they won dominion in Greece had passed clean out of their remembrance, and they looked to the east, not to the north, as the quarter from which some of their ancestors had migrated.

Of the legends which won sincere credence among the Greeks, and assumed as we may say a national significance, none is more curious or more obscure in its origin than that of the Amazons. A folk of warrior women, strong and brave, living apart from men, were conceived to have dwelt in Asia in the heroic age, and proved themselves worthy foes of the Greek heroes. An obvious etymology of their name, “breastless”, suggested the belief that they used to burn off the right breast that they might the better draw the bow. In the Iliad Priam tells how he fought against their army in Phrygia; and one of the perilous tasks which are set to Bellerophon is to march against the Amazons. In a later Homeric poem, the Amazon Penthesilea appears as a dreaded adversary of the Greeks at Troy. To win the girdle of the Amazon queen was one of the labours of Heracles. All these adventures happened in Asia Minor; and, though this female folk was located in various places, its original and proper home was ultimately placed on the river Thermodon near the Greek colony of Amisus. But the Amazons attacked Greece itself. It was told that Theseus carried off their queen Antiope, and so they came and invaded Attica. There was a terrible battle in the town of Athens, and the invaders were defeated after a long struggle. At the feast of Theseus the Athenians used to sacrifice to the Amazons; there was a building called the Amazoneion in the western quarter of the city; and the episode was believed by such men as Isocrates and Plato to be as truly an historical fact as the Trojan war itself. The battles of Greeks with Amazons were a favorite subject of Grecian sculptors; and, like the Trojan war and the adventure of the golden fleece, the Amazon story fitted into the conception of an ancient and long strife between Greece and Asia.

The details of the famous legends—the labours of Heracles, the Trojan war, the voyage of the Argonauts, the tale of Cadmus, the life of Oedipus, the two sieges of Thebes by the Argive Adrastus, and all the other familiar stories—belong to mythology and lie beyond our present scope. But we have to realize that the later Greeks believed them and discussed them as sober history. Two powerful generating forces of these historic myths had been the custom of families and cities to trace their origin to a god, and the instinct of the Greeks to personify places, especially towns, rivers, and springs. Then, when men began both to become keenly conscious of a com­munity of race and language, and to speculate upon the past, attempts were naturally made to bring the various myths of Greece into harmony; since they were true, they must be reconciled. Ultimately they were reduced into chronological systems, which were based upon genealogical reckonings by generations. Hecataeus of Miletus counted a generation as forty years; but it was more usual to reckon three generations to a hundred years. According to the scheme which finally won the widest acceptance, Troy was taken in 1184 B.C., and the Dorians invaded the Peloponnesus under the leadership of the Heraclids in 1104 B.C., and both these dates accord more closely than one might expect, considering the method by which they were obtained, with the general probabilities of the case.