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GREECE Proper lies between the 36th and 40th parallels of north latitude, and between the 21st and 26th degrees of east longitude. Its greatest length, from Mount Olympus to Cape Taenarus, may be stated at 250 English miles; its greatest breadth, from the western coast of Acarnania to Marathon in Attica, at 180 miles; and the distance eastward from Ambracia across Pindus to the Magnesian mountain Homole and the mouth of the Peneus is about 120 miles. Altogether, its area is somewhat less than that of Portugal. In regard, however, to all attempts at determining the exact limits of Greece proper, we may remark, first, that these limits seem not to have been very precisely defined even among the Greeks themselves; and next, that so large a proportion of the Hellens were distributed among islands and colonies, and so much of their influence upon the world in general produced through their colonies, as to render the extent of their original domicile a matter of comparatively little moment to verify.

Thermaic, Ambratian Gulfs and Epirus

The chain called Olympus and the Cambunian mountains, ranging from east and west, and commencing with the Aegean sea or the gulf of Therma, near the 40th degree of north latitude, is prolonged under the name of Mount Lingon, until it touches the Adriatic at the Akrokeraunian promontory. The country south of this chain comprehended all that in ancient times was regarded as Greece, or Hellas proper, but it also comprehended something more. Hellas proper, (or continuous Hellas, to use the language of Skylax and Dikaearchus) was understood to begin with the town and gulf of Ambrakia: from thence, northward to the Akrokeraunian promontory, lay the land called by the Greeks Epirus,—occupied by the Chaonians, Molossians, and Thesprotians, who were termed Epirots, and were not esteemed to belong to the Hellenic aggregate. This at least was the general understanding, though Aetolians and Acarnanians, in their more distant sections, seem to have been not less widely removed from the full type of Hellenism than the Epirots were; while Herodotus is inclined to treat even Molossians and Thesprotians as Hellens.

At a point about midway between the Aegean and Ionian seas, Olympus and Lingon are traversed nearly at right angles by the still longer and vaster chain called Pindus, which stretches in a line rather west of north from the northern side of the range of Olympus : the system to which these mountains belong seems to begin with the lofty masses of greenstone comprised under the name of Mount Scardus, or Scardus, (Schardagh,) which is divided only by the narrow cleft, containing the river Drin, from the limestone of the Albanian Alps. From the southern face of Olympus, Pindus strikes off nearly southward, forming the boundary between Thessaly and Epirus, and sending forth about the 39th degree of latitude the lateral chain of Othrys,—which latter takes an easterly course, forming the southern boundary of Thessaly, and reaching the sea between Thessaly and the northern coast of Euboea. Southward of Othrys, the chain of Pindus, under the name of Tymphrestus, still continues, until another lateral chain, called Oeta, projects from it again towards the east,—forming the lofty coast immediately south of the Maliac gulf, with the narrow road of Thermopylae between the two,—and terminating at the Euboean strait. At the point of junction with Oeta, the chain of Pindus forks into two branches; one striking to the westward of south, and reaching across Aetolia, under the names of Arakynthus, Kurius, Korax, and Taphiassus, to the promontory called Antirrhion, situated on the northern side of the narrow entrance of the Corinthian gulf, over against the corresponding promontory of Rhion in Peloponnesus; the other tending south-east, and forming Parnassus, Helicon, and Cithaeron; indeed, Aegaleus and Hymettus, even down to the southernmost cape of Attica, Sunium (Sounion), may be treated as a continuance of this chain. From the eastern extremity of Oeta, also, a range of hills, inferior in height to the preceding, takes its departure in a south-easterly direction, under the various names of Knemis, Ptoon, and Teumessus. It is joined with Kithaeron by the lateral communication, ranging from west to east, called Parnes; while the celebrated Pentelikus (Pentelikon), abundant in marble quarries, constitutes its connecting link, to the south of Parnes with the chain from Cithaeron to Sunium.

From the promontory of Antirrhion, the line of mountains crosses into Peloponnesus, and stretches in a southerly direction down to the extremity of the peninsula called Taenarus, now Cape Matapan. Forming the boundary between Elis with Messenia on one side, and Arcadia with Laconia on the other, it bears the successive names of Olenus, Panachaikus, Pholoe, Erymanthus, Lykaeus, Parrbasius, and Taygetus. Another series of mountains strikes off from Cithaeron towards the south-west, constituting, under the names of Geraneia and Oneia, the rugged and lofty Isthmus of Corinth, and then spreading itself into Peloponnesus. On entering that peninsula, one of its branches tends westward along the north of Arcadia, comprising the Akrokorinthus, or citadel of Corinth, the high peak of Kyllene, the mountains of Aroanii and Lampeia, and ultimately joining Erymanthus and Pholoe,—while the other branch strikes southward towards the south-eastern cape of Peloponnesus, the formidable Cape Malea (map), or St. Angelo,—and exhibits itself under the successive names of Apesas, Artemisium, Parthenium, Parnon, Thornax, and Zarex.

From the eastern extremity of Olympus, in a direction rather to the eastward of south, stretches the range of mountains first called Ossa, and afterwards Pelion, down to the south-eastern corner of Thessaly. The long, lofty, and naked back-bone of the island of Euboea, may be viewed as a continuance both of this chain and of the chain of Othrys: the line is farther prolonged by a series of islands in the Archipelago, Andros, Tenos, Mykonos, and Naxos, belonging to the group called the Cyclades, or islands encircling the sacred centre of Delos. Of these Cyclades, others are in like manner a continuance of the chain which reaches to Cape Sunium,—Keos, Kythnos, Seriphos, and Siphnos join on to Attica, as Andros does to Euboea. And we might even consider the great island of Crete as a prolongation of the system of mountains which breasts the winds and waves at Cape Male, the island of Kythera forming the intermediate link between them. Skiathus, Skopelus, and Skyrus, to the north-east of Euboea, also mark themselves out as outlying peaks of the range comprehending Pelion and Euboea.

By this brief sketch, which the reader will naturally compare with one of the recent maps of the country, it will be seen that Greece proper is among the most mountainous territories in Europe. For although it is convenient, in giving a systematic view of the face of the country, to group the multiplicity of mountains into certain chains, or ranges, founded upon approximative uniformity of direction; yet, in point of fact, there are so many ramifications and dispersed peaks, so vast a number of hills and crags of different magnitude and elevation, that a comparatively small proportion of the surface is left for level ground. Not only few continuous plains, but even few continuous valleys, exist throughout all Greece proper. The largest spaces of level ground are seen in Thessaly, in Aetolia, in the western portion of Peloponnesus, and in Boeotia; but irregular mountains, valleys frequent but isolated, land-locked basins and declivities, which often occur, but seldom last long, form the character of the country.

The islands of the Cyclades, Euboea, Attica, and Laconia, consist for the most part of micaceous schist, combined with and often covered by crystalline granular limestone. The centre and west of Peloponnesus, as well as the country north of the Corinthian gulf from the gulf of Ambracia to the strait of Euboea, present a calcareous formation, varying in different localities as to color, consistency, and hardness, but, generally, belonging or approximating to the chalk : it is often very compact, but is distinguished in a marked manner from the crystalline limestone above mentioned. The two loftiest summits in Greece (both, however, lower than Olympus, estimated at nine thousand seven hundred feet) exhibit this formation,—Parnassus, which attains eight thousand feet, and the point of St. Elias in Taygetus, which is not less than seven thousand eight hundred feet. Clay-slate, and conglomerates of sand, lime, and clay, are found in many parts : a close and firm conglomerate of lime composes the Isthmus of Corinth : loose deposits of pebbles, and calcareous breccia occupy also some portions of the territory. But the most important and essential elements of the Grecian soil, consist of the diluvial and alluvial formations, with which the troughs and basins are filled up, resulting from the decomposition of the older adjoining rocks. In these reside the productive powers of the country, and upon these the grain and vegetables for the subsistence of the people depend. The mountain regions are to a great degree barren, destitute at present of wood or any useful vegetation, though there is reason to believe that they were better wooded in antiquity: in many parts, however, and especially in Aetolia and Acarnania, they afford plenty of timber, and in all parts, pasture for the cattle during summer, at a time when the plains are thoroughly burnt up. For other articles of food dependence must be had on the valleys, which are occasionally of singular fertility. The low ground of Thessaly, the valley of the Kephisus, and the borders of the lake Kopais, in Boeotia, the western portion of Elis, the plains of Stratus on the confines of Acarnania and Aetolia, and those near the river Pamisus in Messenia, both are now, and were in ancient times, remarkable for their abundant produce.


Besides the scarcity of wood for fuel, there is another serious inconvenience to which the low grounds of Greece are exposed, the want of a supply of water at once adequate and regular. Abundance of rain falls during the autumnal and winter months, little or none during the summer; while the naked limestone of the numerous hills, neither absorbs nor retains moisture, so that the rain runs off as rapidly as it falls, and springs are rare. Most of the rivers of Greece are torrents in early spring, and dry before the end of the summer : the copious combinations of the ancient language, designated the winter torrent by a special and separate word. The most considerable rivers in the country are, the Peneius, which carries off all the waters of Thessaly, finding an exit into the Aegean through the narrow defile which parts Ossa from Olympus,— and the Achelous, which flows from Pindus in a south-westerly direction, separating Aetolia from Akarnania, and emptying itself into the Ionian sea: the Euenus also takes its rise at a more southerly part of the same mountain chain, and falls into the same sea more to the eastward. The rivers more to the southward are unequal and inferior. Kephisus and Asopus, in Boeotia, Alpheius, in Elis and Arcadia, Pamisus in Messenia, maintain each a languid stream throughout the summer; while the Inachus near Argos, and the Kephisus and Ilissus near Athens, present a scanty reality which falls short still more of their great poetical celebrity. Of all those rivers which have been noticed, the Achelous is by far the most important. The quantity of mud which its turbid stream brought down and deposited, occasioned a sensible increase of the land at its embouchure, within the observation of Thucydides.

But the disposition and properties of the Grecian territory, though not maintaining permanent rivers, are favorable to the multiplication of lakes and marshes. There are numerous hollows and enclosed basins, out of which the water can find no superficial escape, and where, unless it makes for itself a subterranean passage through rifts in the mountains, it remains either as a marsh or a lake according to the time of year. In Thessaly, we find the lakes Nessonis and Boebeis; in Aetolia, between the Achelous and Euenus, Strabo mentions the lake of Trichonis, besides several other lakes, which it is difficult to identify individually, though the quantity of ground covered by lake and marsh is, as a whole, very considerable. In Boeotia, are situated the lakes Kopais, Hylike, and Harma; the first of the three formed chiefly by the river Kephisus, flowing from Parnassus on the north-west, and shaping for itself a sinuous course through the mountains of Phocis. On the north-east and east, the lake Kopais is bounded by the high land of Mount Ptoon, which intercepts its communication with the strait of Euboea. Through the limestone of this mountain, the water has either found or forced several subterraneous cavities, by which it obtains a partial progress on the other side of the rocky hill, and then flows into the strait. The Katabothra, as they were termed in antiquity, yet exist, but in an imperfect and half-obstructed condition. Even in antiquity, however, they never fully sufficed to carry off the surplus waters of the Kephisus; for the remains are still found of an artificial tunnel, pierced through the whole breadth of the rock, and with perpendicular apertures at proper intervals to let in the air from above. This tunnel — one of the most interesting remnants of antiquity, since it must date from the prosperous days of the old Orchomenus, anterior to its absorption into the Boeotian league, as well as to the preponderance of Thebes,— is now choked up and rendered useless. It may, perhaps, have been designedly obstructed by the hand of an enemy, and the scheme of Alexander the Great, who commissioned an engineer from Chalcis to reopen it, was defeated, first, by discontents in Boeotia, and ultimately by his early death.

The Katabothra of the lake Kopais, are a specimen of the phenomenon so frequent in Greece,—lakes and rivers finding for themselves subterranean passages through the cavities in the limestone rocks, and even pursuing their unseen course for a considerable distance before they emerge to the light of day. In Arcadia, especially, several remarkable examples of subterranean water communication occur; this central region of Peloponnesus presents a cluster of such completely enclosed valleys, or basins.

It will be seen from these circumstances, that Greece, considering its limited total extent, offers but little motive, and still less of convenient means, for internal communication among its various inhabitants. Each village, or township, occupying its plain with the enclosing mountains, supplied its own main wants whilst the transport of commodities by land was sufficiently difficult to discourage greatly any regular commerce with neighbors. In so far as the face of the interior country was concerned, it seemed as if nature had been disposed, from the beginning, to keep the population of Greece socially and politically disunited, —by providing so many hedges of separation, and so many boundaries, generally hard, sometimes impossible, to overleap. One special motive to intercourse, however, arose out of this very geographical constitution of the country, and its endless alternation of mountain and valley. The difference of climate and temperature between the high and low grounds is very great; the harvest is secured in one place before it is ripe in another, and the cattle find during the heat of summer shelter and pasture on the hills, at a time when the plains are burnt up. The practice of transferring them from the mountains to the plain according to the change of season, which subsists still as it did in ancient times, is intimately connected with the structure of the country, and must from the earliest period have brought about communication among the otherwise disunited villages.


Such difficulties, however, in the internal transit by land, were to a great extent counteracted by the large proportion of coast and the accessibility of the country by sea. The prominences and indentations in the line of Grecian coast, are hardly less remarkable than the multiplicity of elevations and depressions which everywhere mark the surface. The shape of Peloponnesus, with its three southern gulfs, (the Argolic, Laconian, and Messenian,) was compared by the ancient geographers to the leaf of a plane-tree: the Pagasaean gulf on the eastern side of Greece, and the Ambracian gulf on the western, with their narrow entrances and considerable area, are equivalent to internal lakes : Xenophon boasts of the double sea which embraces so large a proportion of Attica, Ephorus of the triple sea, by which Boeotia was accessible from west, north, and south, — the Euboean strait, opening a long line of country on both sides to coasting navigation. But the most important of all Grecian gulfs are the Corinthian and the Saronic, washing the northern and north-eastern shores of Peloponnesus, and separated by the narrow barrier of the Isthmus of Corinth. The former, especially, lays open Aetolia, Phocis, and Boeotia, as well as the whole northern coast of Peloponnesus, to water approach. Corinth, in ancient times, served as an entrepôt for the trade between Italy and Asia Minor, —goods being unshipped at Lechaeum, the port on the Corinthian gulf; and carried by land across to Cenchreae, the port on the Saronic: indeed, even the merchant vessels themselves, when not very large, were conveyed across by the same route. It was accounted a prodigious advantage to escape the necessity of sailing round Cape Malea : and the violent winds and currents which modern experience attests to prevail around that formidable promontory, are quite sufficient to justify the apprehensions of the ancient Greek merchant, with his imperfect apparatus for navigation.

It will thus appear that there was no part of Greece proper which could be considered as out of reach of the sea, while most parts of it were convenient and easy of access : in fact, the Arcadians were the only large section of the Hellenic name, (we may add the Doric, Tetrapolis, and the mountaineers along the chain of Pindus and Tymphrestus) who were altogether without a seaport. But Greece proper constituted only a fraction of the entire Hellenic world, during the historical age : there were the numerous islands, and still more numerous continental colonies, all located as independent intruders on distinct points of the coast, in the Euxine, the Aegean, the Mediterranean, and the Adriatic; and distant from each other by the space which separates Trebizond from Marseilles. All these various cities were comprised in the name Hellas, which implied no geographical continuity : all prided themselves on Hellenic blood, name, religion, and mythical ancestry. As the only communication between them was maritime, so the sea, important, even if we look to Greece proper exclusively, was the sole channel for transmitting ideas and improvements, as well as for maintaining sympathies—social, political, religious, and literary—throughout these outlying members of the Hellenic aggregate.

The ancient philosophers and legislators were deeply impressed with the contrast between an inland and a maritime city: in the former, simplicity and uniformity of life, tenacity of ancient habits, and dislike of what is new or foreign, great force of exclusive sympathy, and narrow range both of objects and ideas; in the latter, variety and novelty of sensations, expansive imagination, toleration, and occasional preference for extraneous customs, greater activity of the individual, and corresponding mutability of the state. This distinction stands prominent in the many comparisons instituted between the Athens of Pericles and the Athens of the earlier times down to Solon. Both Plato and Aristotle dwell upon it emphatically,—and the former especially, whose genius conceived the comprehensive scheme of prescribing beforehand and insuring in practice the whole course of individual thought and feeling in his imaginary community, treats maritime communication, if pushed beyond the narrowest limits, as fatal to the success and permanence of any wise scheme of education. Certain it is, that a great difference of character existed between those Greeks who mingled much in maritime affairs, and those who did not. The Arcadian may stand as a type of the pure Grecian landsman, with his rustic and illiterate habits, his diet of sweet chestnuts, barley-cakes, and pork (as contrasted with the fish which formed the chief seasoning for the bread of an Athenian,) his superior courage and endurance, his reverence for Lacedaemonian headship as an old and customary influence, his sterility of intellect and imagination, as well as his slackness in enterprise, his unchangeable rudeness of relations with the gods, which led him to scourge and prick Pan, if he came back empty-handed from the chase; while the inhabitant of Phocaea or Miletus exemplifies the Grecian mariner, eager in search of gain, active, skillful, and daring at sea, but inferior in steadfast bravery on land, more excitable in imagination as well as more mutable in character, full of pomp and expense in religious manifestations towards the Ephesian Artemis or the Apollo of Branchidae; with a mind more open to the varieties of Grecian energy and to the refining influences of Grecian civilization. The Peloponnesians generally, and the Lacedaemonians in particular, approached to the Arcadian type, while the Athenians of the fifth century BC stood foremost in the other; superadding to it, however, a delicacy of taste, and a predominance of intellectual sympathy and enjoyments, which seem to have been peculiar to themselves.

The configuration of the Grecian territory, so like in many respects to that of Switzerland, produced two effects of great moment upon the character and history of the people. In the first place, it materially strengthened their powers of defence : it shut up the country against those invasions from the interior, which successively subjugated all their continental colonies; and it at the same time rendered each fraction more difficult to be attacked by the rest, so as to exercise a certain conservative influence in assuring the tenure of actual possessors : for the pass of Thermopylae, between Thessaly and Phocis, that of Cithaeron, between Boeotia and Attica, or the mountainous range of Oneion and Geraneia along the Isthmus of Corinth, were positions which an inferior number of brave men could hold against a much greater force of assailants. But, in the next place, while it tended to protect each section of Greeks from being conquered, it also kept them politically disunited, and perpetuated their separate autonomy. It fostered that powerful principle of repulsion, which disposed even the smallest township to constitute itself a political unit apart from the rest, and to resist all idea of coalescence with others, either amicable or compulsory. To a modern reader, accustomed to large political aggregations, and securities for good government through the representative system, it requires a certain mental effort to transport himself back to a time when even the smallest town clung so tenaciously to its right of self-legislation. Nevertheless, such was the general habit and feeling of the ancient world, throughout Italy, Sicily, Spain, and Gaul. Among the Hellenes, it stands out more conspicuously, for several reasons, first, because they seem to have pushed the multiplication of autonomous units to an extreme point, seeing that even islands not larger than Peparethos and Amorgos had two or three separate city communities; secondly, because they produced, for the first time in the history of mankind, acute systematic thinkers on matters of government, amongst all of whom the idea of the autonomous city was accepted as the indispensable basis of political speculation; thirdly, because this incurable subdivision proved finally the cause of their ruin, in spite of pronounced intellectual superiority over their conquerors : and lastly, because incapacity of political coalescence did not preclude a powerful and extensive sympathy between the inhabitants of all the separate cities, with a constant tendency to fraternize for numerous purposes, social, religious, recreative, intellectual, and aesthetical. For these reasons, the indefinite multiplication of self-governing towns, though in truth a phenomenon common to ancient Europe, as contrasted with the large monarchies of Asia, appears more marked among the ancient Greek than elsewhere : and there cannot be any doubt that they owe it, in a considerable degree, to the multitude of insulating boundaries which the configuration of their country presented.

Nor, is it rash to suppose that the same causes may have tended to promote that unborrowed intellectual development for which they stand so conspicuous. General propositions respecting the working of climate and physical agencies upon character are, indeed, treacherous; for our knowledge of the globe is now sufficient to teach us that heat and cold, mountain and plain, sea and land, moist and dry atmosphere, are all consistent with the greatest diversities of resident men : moreover, the contrast between the population of Greece itself, for the seven centuries preceding the Christian era, and the Greeks of more modern times, is alone enough to inculcate reserve in such speculations. Nevertheless, we may venture to note certain improving influences, connected with their geographical position, at a time when they had no books to study, and no more advanced predecessors to imitate. We may remark, first, that their position made them at once mountaineers and mariners, thus supplying them with great variety of objects, sensations, and adventures; next, that each petty community, nestled apart amidst its own rocks, was sufficiently severed from the rest to possess an individual life and attributes of its own, yet not so far as to subtract it from the sympathies of the remainder; so that an observant Greek, commencing with a great diversity of half countrymen, whose language he understood, and whose idiosyncrasies he could appreciate, had access to a larger mass of social and political experience than any other man in so unadvanced an age could personally obtain. The Phoenician, superior to the Greek on ship-board, traversed wider distances, and saw a greater number of strangers, but had not the same means of intimate communion with a multiplicity of fellows in blood and language. His relations, confined to purchase and sale, did not comprise that mutuality of action and reaction which pervaded the crowd at a Grecian festival. The scene which hero presented itself, was a mixture of uniformity and variety highly stimulating to the observant faculties of a man of genius, who at the same time, if he sought to communicate his own impressions, or to act upon this mingled and diverse audience, was forced to shake off what was peculiar to his own town or community, and to put forth matter in harmony with the feelings of all. It is thus that we may explain, in part, that penetrating apprehension of human life and character, and that power of touching sympathies common to all ages and nations, which surprises us so much in the unlettered authors of the old epic. Such periodical intercommunion of brethren habitually isolated from each other, was the only means then open of procuring for the bard a diversified range of experience and a many-colored audience; and it was to a great degree the result of geographical causes. Perhaps among other nations such facilitating causes might have been found, yet without producing any result comparable to the Iliad and Odyssey. But Homer was, nevertheless, dependent upon the conditions of his age, and we can at least point out those peculiarities in early Grecian society, without which Homeric excellence would never have existed, — the geographical position is one, the language another.


In mineral and metallic wealth, Greece was not distinguished. Gold was obtained in considerable abundance in the island of Siphnos, which, throughout the sixth century BC, was among the richest communities of Greece, and possessed a treasure-chamber at Delphi, distinguished for the richness of its votive offerings. At that time, gold was so rare in Greece, that the Lacedaemonians were obliged to send to the Lydian Croesus, in order to provide enough of it for the gilding of a statue. It appears to have been more abundant in Asia Minor, and the quantity of it in Greece was much multiplied by the opening of mines in Thrace, Macedonia, Epirus, and even some parts of Thessaly. In the island of Thasos, too, some mines were reopened with profitable result, which had been originally begun, and subsequently abandoned, by Phoenician settlers of an earlier century. From these same districts, also, was procured a considerable amount of silver; while, about the beginning of the fifth century BC, the first effective commencement seems to have been made of turning to account the rich southern district of Attica, called Laureion. Copper was obtained in various parts of Greece, especially in Cyprus and Euboea, in which latter island was also found the earth called Cadmeia, employed for the purification of the ore. Bronze was used among the Greeks for many purposes in which iron is now employed: and even the arms of the Homeric heroes (different in this respect from the later historical Greeks) are composed of copper, tempered in such a way as to impart to it an astonishing hardness. Iron was found in Euboea, Boeotia, and Melos, but still more abundantly in the mountainous region of the Laconian Taygetus. There is, however no part of Greece where the remains of ancient metallurgy appear now so conspicuous, as the island of Seriphos. The excellence and varieties of marble, from Pentelikus, Hymettus, Paros, Karystus, etc., and other parts of the country, so essential for the purposes of sculpture and architecture, is well known.

Situated under the same parallels of latitude as the coast of Asia Minor, and the southernmost regions of Italy and Spain, Greece produced wheat, barley, flax, wine, and oil, in the earliest times of which we have any knowledge; though the currants, Indian corn, silk, and tobacco, which the country now exhibits, are an addition of more recent times. Theophrastus and other authors, amply attest the observant and industrious agriculture prevalent among the ancient Greeks, as well as the care with which its various natural productions, comprehending a great diversity of plants, herbs, and trees, were turned to account. The cultivation of the vine and the olive, the latter indispensable to ancient life, not merely for the purposes which it serves at present, but also from the constant habit then prevalent of anointing the body, appears to have been particularly elaborate; and the many different accidents of soil, level, and exposure, which were to be found, not only in Hellas proper, but also among the scattered Greek settlements, afforded to observant planters materials for study and comparison. The barley-cake seems to have been more generally eaten than the wheaten loaf; but one or other of them, together with vegetables and fish, (sometimes fresh, but more frequently salt,) was the common food of the population; the Arcadians fed much upon pork, and the Spartans also consumed animal food; but by the Greeks, generally, fresh meat seems to have been little eaten, except at festivals and sacrifices. The Athenians, the most commercial people in Greece proper, though their light, dry, and comparatively poor soil produced excellent barley, nevertheless, did not grow enough corn for their own consumption : they imported considerable supplies of corn from Sicily, from the coast of the Euxine, and the Tauric Chersonese, and salt-fish both from the Propontis and even from Gades : the distance from whence these supplies came, when we take into consideration the extent of fine corn-land in Boeotia and Thessaly, proves how little internal trade existed between the various regions of Greece proper. The exports of Athens consisted in her figs and other fruit, olives, oil, for all of which she was distinguished, together with pottery, ornamental manufactures, and the silver from her mines at Laureion. Salt-fish, doubtless, found its way more or less throughout all Greece; but the population of other states in Greece lived more exclusively upon their own produce than the Athenians, with less of purchase and sale,—a mode of life assisted by the simple domestic economy universally prevalent, in which the women no only carded and spun all the wool, but also wove out of it the clothing and bedding employed in the family. Weaving was then considered as much a woman's business as spinning, and the same feeling and habits still prevail to the present day in modem Greece, where the loom is constantly seen in the peasants' cottages, and always worked by women.

The climate of Greece appears to be generally described by modern travellers in more favorable terms than it was by the ancients, which is easily explicable from the classical interest, picturesque beauties, and transparent atmosphere, so vividly appreciated by an English or a German eye. Herodotus, Hippocrates, and Aristotle, treat the climate of Asia as far more genial and favorable both to animal and vegetable life, but at the same time more enervating than that of Greece : the latter, they speak of chiefly in reference to its changeful character and diversities of local temperature, which they consider as highly stimulant to the energies of the inhabitants. There is reason to conclude that ancient Greece was much more healthy than the same territory is at present, inasmuch as it was more industriously cultivated, and the towns both more carefully administered and better supplied with water. But the differences in respect of healthiness, between one portion of Greece and another, appear always to have been considerable, and this, as well as the diversities of climate, affected the local habits and character of the particular sections. Not merely were there great differences between the mountaineers and the inhabitants of the plains, between Locrians, Aetolians, Phocaeans, Dorians, Oetaeans, and Arcadians, on one hand, and the inhabitants of Attica, Boeotia, and Elis, on the other, but each of the various tribes which went to compose these categories, had its peculiarities; and the marked contrast between Athenians and Boeotians was supposed to be represented by the light and heavy atmosphere which they respectively breathed. Nor was this all : for, even among the Boeotian aggregate, every town had its own separate attributes, physical as well as moral and political : Oropus, Tanagra, Thespix, Thebes, Anthedon, Haliartus, Koroneia, Onchestus, and Plataea, were known to Boeotians each by its own characteristic epithet : and Dikaearchus even notices a marked distinction between the inhabitants of the city of Athens and those in the country of Attica. Sparta, Argos, Corinth, and Sicyon, though all called Doric, had each its own dialect and peculiarities. All these differences; depending in part upon climate, site, and other physical considerations, contributed to nourish antipathies, and to perpetuate that imperfect cohesion, which has already been noticed as an indelible feature in Hellas.

The Epirotic tribes, neighbors of the Aetolians and Acarnanians, filled the space between Pindus and the Ionian sea until they joined to the northward the territory inhabited by the powerful and barbarous Illyrians. Of these Illyrians, the native Macedonian tribes appear to have been an outlying section, dwelling northward of Thessaly and Mount Olympus, eastward of the chain by which Pindus is continued, and westward of the river Axius. The Epirots were comprehended under the various denominations of Chaonians, Molossians, Thesprotians, Kassopaeans, Amphilochians, Athamanes, the Aethikes, Tyraphaei, Orestae, Paroraei, and Atintanes,—most of the latter being small communities dispersed about the mountainous region of Pindus. There was, however, much confusion in the application of the comprehensive name Epirot, which was a title given altogether by the Greeks, and given purely upon geographical, not upon ethnical considerations. Epirus seems at first to have stood opposed to Peloponnesus, and to have signified the general region northward of the gulf of Corinth; and in this primitive sense it comprehended the Aetolians and Acarnanians, portions of whom spoke a dialect difficult to understand, and were not less widely removed than the Epirots from Hellenic habits. The oracle of Dodona forms the point of ancient union between Greeks and Epirots, which was superseded by Delphi, as the civilization of Hellas developed itself. Nor is it less difficult to distinguish Epirots from Macedonians on the one hand, than from Hellenes on the other; the language, the dress, and the fashion of wearing the hair being often analogous, while the boundaries, amidst rude men and untravelled tracts, were very inaccurately understood.

In describing the limits occupied by the Hellens in 776 BC, we cannot yet take account of the important colonies of Leukas and Ambracia, established by the Corinthians subsequently on the western coast of Epirus. The Greeks of that early time seem to comprise the islands of Cephalonia, Zakynthus, Ithaka, and Dulichium, but no settlement, either inland or insular, farther northward.

They include farther, confining ourselves to 776 BC, the great mass of islands between the coast of Greece and that of Asia Minor, from Tenedos on the north, to Rhodes, Crete, and Cythera southward; and the great islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, and Euboea, as well as the groups called the Sporades and the Cyclades. Respecting the four considerable islands nearer to the coasts of Macedonia and Thrace,—Lemnos, Imbros, Samothrace, and Thasos,— it may be doubted whether they were at that time Hellenized. The Catalogue of the Iliad includes, under Agamemnon, contingents from Aegina, Euboea, Crete, Karpathos, Kasus, Kos, and Rhodes : in the oldest epical testimony which we possess, these islands thus appear inhabited by Greeks; but the others do not occur in the Catalogue, and are never mentioned in such manner as to enable us to draw any inference. Euboea ought, perhaps, rather to be looked upon as a portion of Grecian mainland (from which it was only separated by a strait narrow enough to be bridged over) than as an island. But the last five islands named in the Catalogue are all either wholly or partially Doric: no Ionic or Aeolic island appears in it : these latter, though it was among them that the poet sung, appear to be represented by their ancestral heroes, who came from Greece proper.

The last element to be included, as going to make up the Greece of 776 BC, is the long string of Doric, Ionic, and Aeolic settlements on the coast of Asia Minor, — occupying a space bounded on the north by the Troad and the region of Ida, and extending southward as far as the peninsula of Cnidus. Twelve continental cities, over and above the islands of Lesbos and Tenedos, are reckoned by Herodotus as ancient Aeolic foundations,—Smyrna, Kyme, Larissa, Neon-Teichos, Temnos, Killa, Notium, Aegiroessa, Pitana, Aegae, Myrina, and Gryneia. Smyrna, having been at first Aeolic, was afterwards acquired through a stratagem by Ionic inhabitants, and remained permanently Ionic. Phokaea, the northernmost of the Ionic settlements, bordered upon Aeolis : Klazomenae, Erythrae, Tees, Lebedos, Kolophon, Priene, Myus, and Miletus, continued the Ionic name to the southward. These, together with Samos and Chios, formed the Panionic federation. To the south of Miletus, after a considerable interval, lay the Doric establishments of Myndus, Halicarnassus, and Cnidus : the two latter, together with the island of Kos and the three townships in Rhodes, constituted the Doric Hexapolis, or communion of six cities, concerted primarily with a view to religious purposes, but producing a secondary effect analogous to political federation.

Such, then, is the extent of Hellas, as it stood at the commencement of the recorded Olympiads. To draw a picture even. for this date, we possess no authentic materials, and are obliged to antedate statements which belong to a later age: and this consideration might alone suffice to show how uncertified are all delineations of the Greece of 1183 BC, the supposed epoch of the Trojan war, four centuries earlier.





THE territory indicated in the last chapter—south of Mount Olympus, and south of the line which connects the city of Ambracia with Mount Pindus—was occupied during the historical period by the central stock of the Hellens, or Greeks, from which their numerous outlying colonies were planted out.

Both metropolitans and colonists styled themselves Hellens, and were recognized as such by each other; all glorying in the name as the prominent symbol of fraternity; all describing non-Hellenic men, or cities, by a word which involved associations of repugnance. Our term barbarian, borrowed from this latter word, does not express the same idea; for the Greeks spoke thus indiscriminately of the extra-Hellenic world, with all its inhabitants; whatever might be the gentleness of their character, and whatever might be their degree of civilization. The rulers and people of Egyptian Thebes, with their ancient and gigantic monuments, the wealthy Tyrians and Carthaginians, the Phil-Hellene Arganthonius of Tartessus, and the well-disciplined patricians of Rome (to the indignation of old Cato) were all comprised in it. At first, it seemed to have expressed more of repugnance than of contempt, and repugnance especially towards the sound of a foreign language. Afterwards, a feeling of their own superior intelligence (in part well justified) arose among the Greeks, and their term barbarian was used so as to imply a low state of the temper and intelligence; in which sense it was retained by the semi-Hellenized Romans, as the proper antithesis to their state of civilization. The want of a suitable word, corresponding to barbarian, as the Greeks originally used it, is so inconvenient in the description of Grecian phenomena and sentiments, that I may be obliged occasionally to use the word in its primitive sense.

The Hellens were all of common blood and parentage, were all descendants of the common patriarch Helen. In treating of the historical Greeks, we have to accept this as a datum: it represents the sentiment under the influence of which they moved and acted. It is placed by Herodotus in the front rank, as the chief of those four ties which bound together the Hellenic aggregate: 1. Fellowship of blood; 2. Fellowship of language; 3. Fixed domiciles of gods, and sacrifices, common to all; 4. Like manners and dispositions.

These (say the Athenians, in their reply to the Spartan envoys, in the very crisis of the Persian invasion) "Athens will never disgrace herself by betraying". And Zeus Hellenius was recognized as the god watching over and enforcing the fraternity time constituted.

Hekataeus, Herodotus, and Thucydides, all believed that there had been an ante-Hellenic period, when different languages, mutually unintelligible, were spoken between Mount Olympus and Cape Malea. However this may be, during the historical times the Greek language was universal throughout these limits, branching out, however, into a great variety of dialects, which were roughly classified by later literary men into Ionic, Doric, Aeolic, and Attic. But the classification presents a semblance of regularity, which in point of fact does not seem to have been realized; each town, each smaller subdivision of the Hellenic name, having peculiarities of dialect belonging to itself. Now the lettered men who framed the quadruple division took notice chiefly, if not exclusively, of the written dialects, those which had been ennobled by poets or other authors; the mere spoken idioms were for the most part neglected. That there was no such thing as one Ionic dialect in the speech of the people called Ionic Greek, we know from the indisputable testimony of Herodotus, who tells us that there were four capital varieties of speech among the twelve Asiatic towns especially known as Ionic. Of course, the varieties would have been much more numerous if he had given us the impressions of his ear in Euboea, the Cyclades, Massalia, Rhegium, and Olbia, all numbered as Greeks and as Ionians. The Ionic dialect of the grammarians was an extract from Homer, Hekataeus, Herodotus, Hippocrates, etc.; to what living speech it made the nearest approach, amidst those divergences which the historian has made known to us, we cannot tell. Sappho and Alkaeus in Lesbos, Myrtis and Korinna in Boeotia, were the great sources of reference for the Lesbian and Boeotian varieties of the Aeolic dialect, of which there was a third variety, untouched by the poets, in Thessaly. The analogy between the different manifestations of Doric and Aeolic, as well as that between the Doric generally and the Aeolic generally, contrasted with the Attic, is only to be taken as rough and approximative.

But all these different dialects are nothing more than dialects, distinguished as modifications of one and the same language, and exhibiting evidence of certain laws and principles pervading them all. They seem capable of being traced back to a certain ideal mother-language, peculiar in itself and distinguishable from, though cognate with, the Latin; a substantive member of what has been called the Indo-European family of languages. This truth has been brought out, in recent times, by the comparative examination applied to the Sanscrit, Zend, Greek, Latin, German, and Lithuanian languages, as well as by the more accurate analysis of the Greek language itself to which such studies have given rise, in a manner much more clear than could have been imagined by the ancients themselves. It is needless to dwell upon the importance of this uniformity of language in holding together the race, and in rendering the genius of its most favored members available to the civilization of all. Except in the rarest cases, the divergences of dialect were not such as to prevent every Greek from understanding, and being understood by, every other Greek, a fact remarkable, when we consider how many of their outlying colonists, not having taken out women in their emigration, intermarried with non-Hellenic wives. And the perfection and popularity of their early epic poems, was here of inestimable value for the diffusion of a common type of language, and for thus keeping together the sympathies of the Hellenic world. The Homeric dialect became the standard followed by all Greek poets for the hexameter, as may be seen particularly from the example of Hesio,— who adheres to it in the main, though his father was a native of the Aeolic Kyme, and he himself resident at Askra, in the Aeolic Boeotia, and the early iambic and elegiac compositions are framed on the same model. Intellectual Greeks in all cities, even the most distant outcasts from the central hearth, became early accustomed to one type of literary speech, and possessors of a common stock of legends, maxims, and metaphors.


That community of religious sentiments, localities, and sacrifices, which Herodotus names as the third bond of union among the Greeks, was a phenomenon, not (like the race and the language) interwoven with their primitive constitution, but of gradual growth. In the time of Herodotus, and even a century earlier, it was at its full maturity : but there had been a period when no religious meetings common to the whole Hellenic body existed. What are called the Olympic, Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian games, (the four most conspicuous amidst many others analogous,) were, in reality, great religious festivals, for the gods then gave their special sanction, name, and presence, to recreative meetings, the closest association then prevailed between the feelings of common worship and the sympathy in common amusement.

Though this association is now no longer recognized, it is, nevertheless, essential that we should keep it fully before us, if we desire to understand the life and proceedings of the Greeks. To Herodotus and his contemporaries, these great festivals, then frequented by crowds from every part of Greece, were of overwhelming importance and interest; yet they had once been purely local, attracting no visitors except from a very narrow neighborhood. In the Homeric poems, much is said about the common gods, and about special places consecrated to and occupied by several of them: the chiefs celebrate funeral games in honor of a deceased father, which are visited by competitors from different parts of Greece, but nothing appears to manifest public or town festivals open to Grecian visitors generally. And, though the rocky Pytho, with its temple, stands out in the Iliad as a place both venerated and rich, the Pythian games, under the superintendence of the Amphiktyons, with continuous enrolment of victors, and a Pan-Hellenic reputation, do not begin until after the Sacred War, in the 48th Olympiad, or 586 BC.

The Olympic games, more conspicuous than the Pythian, as well as considerably older, are also remarkable on another ground, inasmuch as they supplied historical computers with the oldest backward record of continuous time. It was in the year 776 BC, that the Eleians inscribed the name of their countryman, Koroebus, as victor in the competition of runners, and that they began the practice of inscribing in like manner, in each Olympic, or fifth recurring year, the name of the runner who won the prize. Even for a long time after this, however, the Olympic games seem to have remained a local festival; the prize being uniformly carried off, at the first twelve Olympiads, by some competitor either of Elis or its immediate neighborhood. The Nemean and Isthmian games did not become notorious or frequented until later even than the Pythian. Solon, in his legislation, proclaimed the large reward of five hundred drachms for every Athenian who gained an Olympic prize, and the lower sum of one hundred drachms for an Isthmiac prize. He counts the former, as Pan-Hellenic rank and renown, an ornament even to the city of which the victor was a member, the latter, as partial, and confined to the neighborhood.

Of the beginnings of these great solemnities, we cannot presume to speak, except in mythical language: we know them only in their comparative maturity. But the habit of common sacrifice, on a small scale, and between near neighbors, is a part of the earliest habits of Greece. The sentiment of fraternity, between two tribes or villages, first manifested itself by sending a sacred legation, or Theoria, to offer sacrifice at each other's festivals, and to partake in the recreations which followed; thus establishing a truce with solemn guarantee, and bringing themselves into direct connection each with the god of the other under his appropriate local surname. The pacific communion so fostered, and the increased assurance of intercourse, as Greece gradually emerged from the turbulence and pugnacity of the heroic age, operated especially in extending the range of this ancient habit: the village festivals became town festivals, largely frequented by the citizens of other towns, and sometimes with special invitations sent round to attract Theors from every Hellenic community, and thus these once humble assemblages gradually swelled into the pomp and immense confluence of the Olympic and Pythian games. The city administering such holy ceremonies enjoyed inviolability of territory during the month of their occurrence, being itself under obligation at that time to refrain from all aggression, as well as to notify by heralds the commencement of the truce to all other cities not in avowed hostility with it. Elis imposed heavy fines upon other towns—even on the powerful Lacedaemon—for violation of the Olympic truce, on pain of exclusion from the festival in case of nonpayment.

Sometimes this tendency to religious fraternity took a form called an Amphiktyony, different from the common festival. A certain number of towns entered into an exclusive religious partnership, for the celebration of sacrifices periodically to the god of a particular temple, which was supposed to be the common property, and under the common protection of all, though one of the number was often named as permanent administrator; while all other Greeks were excluded. That there were many religious partnerships of this sort, which have never acquired a place in history, among the early Grecian villages, we may, perhaps, gather from the etymology of the word, (Amphiktyons designates residents around, or neighbors, considered in the point of view of fellow-religionists,) as well as from the indications preserved to us in reference to various parts of the country. Thus there was an Amphiktyony of seven cities at the holy island of Kalauria, close to the harbor of Troezen. Hermione, Epidaurus, Aegina, Athens, Prasiae, Nauplia, and Orchomenus, jointly maintained the temple and sanctuary of Poseidon in that island, (with which it would seem that the city of Treezen, though close at hand, had no connection,) meeting there at stated periods, to offer formal sacrifices. These seven cities, indeed, were not immediate neighbors, but the specialty and exclusiveness of their interest in the temple is seen from the fact, that when the Argeians took Nauplia, they adopted and fulfilled these religious obligations on behalf of the prior inhabitants : so, also, did the Lacedaemonians, when they had captured Prasiae. Again, in Triphylia, situated between the Pisatid and Messenia, in the western part of Peloponnesus, there was a similar religious meeting and partnership of the Triphylians on Cape Samikon, at the temple of the Samian Poseidon. Here, the inhabitants of Makiston were entrusted with the details of superintendence, as well as with the duty of notifying beforehand the exact time of meeting, (a precaution essential amidst the diversities and irregularities of the Greek calendar,) and also of proclaiming what was called the Samian truce,—a temporary abstinence from hostilities, which bound all Triphylians during the holy period. This latter custom discloses the salutary influence of such institutions in presenting to men's minds a common object of reverence, common duties, and common enjoyments; thus generating sympathies and feelings of mutual obligation amidst petty communities not less fierce than suspicious. So, too, the twelve chief Ionic cities in and near Asia Minor, had their Pan-Ionic Amphiktyony peculiar to themselves: the six Doric cities, in and near the southern corner of that peninsula, combined for the like purpose at the temple of the Triopian Apollo; and the feeling of special partnership is here particularly illustrated by the fact, that Halikarnassus, one of the six, was formally extruded by the remaining five, in consequence of a violation of the rules. There was also an Amphiktyonic union at Onchestus in Boeotia, in the venerated grove and temple of Poseidon : of whom it consisted, we are not informed. These are some specimens of the sort of special religious conventions and assemblies which seem to have been frequent throughout Greece. Nor ought we to omit those religious meetings and sacrifices which were common to all the members of one Hellenic subdivision, such as the Pam-Boeotia to all the Boeotians, celebrated at the temple of the Itonian Athena near Koroneia,—the common observances, rendered to the temple of Apollo Pythaeus at Argos, by all those neighboring towns which had once been attached by this religious thread to the Argeians,— the similar periodical ceremonies, frequented by all who bore the Achaean or Aetolian name, — and the splendid and exhilarating festivals, so favorable to the diffusion of the early Grecian poetry, which brought all Ionians at stated intervals to the sacred island of Delos. This latter class of Festivals agreed with the Amphiktyony, in being of a special and exclusive character, not open to all Greeks.


But there was one amongst these many Amphiktyonies, which, though starting from the smallest beginnings, gradually expanded into so comprehensive a character, and acquired so marked a predominance over the rest, as to be called The Amphiktyonic Assembly, and even to have been mistaken by some authors for a sort of federal Hellenic Diet. Twelve sub-races, out of the number which made up entire Hellas, belonged to this ancient Amphiktyony, the meetings of which were held twice in every year : in spring, at the temple of Apollo at Delphi; in autumn, at Thermopylae, in the sacred precinct of Demeter Amphiktyonis. Sacred deputies, including a chief called the Hieromnemon, and subordinates called the Pylagoraae, attended at these meetings from each of the twelve races : a crowd of volunteers seem to have accompanied them, for purposes of sacrifice, trade, or enjoyment. Their special, and most important function, consisted in watching over the Delphian temple, in which all the twelve sub-races had a joint interest; and it was the immense wealth and national ascendency of this temple, which enhanced to so great a pitch the dignity of its acknowledged administrators.

The twelve constituent members were as follows : Thessalians, Boeotians, Dorians, Ionians, Perrhaebians, Magnetes, Lokrians, Oetaeans, Achaeans, Phokians, Dolopes, and Malians. All are counted as races, (if we treat the Hellenes as a race, we must call these sub-races), no mention being made of cities : all count equally in respect to voting, two votes being given by the deputies from each of the twelve: moreover, we are told that, in determining the deputies to be sent, or the manner in which the votes of each race should be given, the powerful Athens, Sparta, and Thebes, had no more influence than the humblest Ionian, Dorian, or Boeotian city. This latter fact is distinctly stated by Aeschines, himself a pylagore sent to Delphi by Athens. And so, doubtless, the theory of the case stood : the votes of the Ionic races counted for neither more nor less than two, whether given by deputies from Athens, or from the small towns of Erythrae and Priene; and, in like manner the Dorian votes were as good in the division, when given by deputies from Boeon and Kytinion in the little territory of Doris, as if the men delivering them had been Spartans. But there can be as little question that, in practice, the little Ionic cities, and the little Doric cities, pretended to no share in the Amphiktyonic deliberations. As the Ionic vote came to be substantially the vote of Athens, so, if Sparta was ever obstructed in the management of the Doric vote, it must have been by powerful Doric cities like Argos or Corinth, not by the insignificant towns of Doris. But the theory of Amphiktyonic suffrage, as laid down by Aeschines, however little realized in practice during his day, is important, inasmuch as it shows in full evidence the primitive and original constitution. The first establishment of the Amphiktyonic convocation dates from a time when all the twelve members were on a footing of equal independence, and when there were no overwhelming cities (such as Sparta and Athens) to cast in the shade the bumbler members, — when Sparta was only one Doric city, and Athens only one Ionic city, among various others of consideration, not much inferior.

There are also other proofs which show the high antiquity of this Amphiktyonic convocation. Aeschines gives us an extract from the oath which had been taken by the sacred deputies, who attended on behalf of their respective races, ever since its first establishment, and which still apparently continued to be taken in his day. The antique simplicity of this oath, and of the conditions to which the members bind themselves, betrays the early age in which it originated, as well as the humble resources of those towns to which it was applied. "We will not destroy any Amphiktyonic town, we will not cut off any Amphiktyonic town from running water",— such are the two prominent obligations which Aeschines specifies out of the old oath. The second of the two carries us back to the simplest state of society, and to towns of the smallest size, when the maidens went out with their basins to fetch water from the spring, like the daughters of Keleos at Eleusis, or those of Athens from the fountain of Kallirrhoe. We may even conceive that the special mention of this detail, in the covenant between the twelve races, is borrowed literally from agreements still earlier, among the villages or little towns in which the members of each race were distributed. At any rate, it proves satisfactorily the very ancient date to which the commencement of the Amphiktyonic convocation must be referred. The belief of Aeschines (perhaps, also, the belief general in his time) was, that it commenced simultaneously with the first foundation of the Delphian temple,—an event of which we have no historical knowledge; but there seems reason to suppose that its original establishment is connected with Thermopylae and Demeter Amphiktyonis, rather than with Delphi and Apollo. The special surname by which Demeter and her temple at Thermopylae was known, — the temple of the hero Amphiktyon which stood at its side,— the word Pylae, which obtained footing in the language to designate the half-yearly meeting of the deputies both at Thermopylae and at these indications point to Thermopylae (the real central point for all the twelve) as the primary place of meeting, and to the Delphian half-year as something secondary and super-added. On such a matter, however, we cannot go beyond a conjecture.

The hero Amphiktyon, whose temple stood at Thermopylae, passed in mythical genealogy for the brother of Hellen. And it may be affirmed, with truth, that the habit of forming Amphiktyonic unions, and of frequenting each other's religious festivals was the great means of creating and fostering the primitive feeling of brotherhood among the children of Hellen, in those early times when rudeness, insecurity, and pugnacity did so much to isolate them. A certain number of salutary habits and sentiments, such as that which the Amphiktyonic oath embodies, in regard to abstinence from injury, as well as to mutual protection, gradually found their way into men's minds : the obligations thus brought into play, acquired a substantive efficacy of their own, and the religious feeling which always remained connected with them, came afterwards to be only one out of many complex agencies by which the later historical Greek was moved. Athens and Sparta in the days of their might, and the inferior cities in relation to them, played each their own political game, in which religious considerations will be found to bear only a subordinate part.


The special function of the Amphiktyonic council, so far as we know it, consisted in watching over the safety, the interests, and the treasures of the Delphian temple. "If any one shall plunder the property of the god, or shall be cognizant thereof, or shall take treacherous counsel against the things in the temple, we will punish him with foot, and hand, and voice, and by every means in our power." So ran the old Amphiktyonic oath, with an energetic imprecation attached to it. And there are some examples in which the council construes its functions so largely as to receive and adjudicate upon complaints against entire cities, for offences against the religious and patriotic sentiment of the Greeks generally. But for the most part its interference relates directly to the Delphian temple. The earliest case in which it is brought to our view, is the Sacred War against Kirrha, in the 46th Olympiad, or 595 BC, conducted by Eurylochus, the Thessalian, and Cleisthenes of Sikyon, and proposed by Solon of Athens : we find the Amphiktyons also, about half a century afterwards, undertaking the duty of collecting subscriptions throughout the Hellenic world, and making the contract with the Alkmaeonids for rebuilding the temple after a conflagration. But the influence of this council is essentially of a fluctuating and intermittent character. Sometimes it appears forward to decide, and its decisions command respect; but such occasions are rare, taking the general course of known Grecian history; while there are other occasions, and those too especially affecting the Delphian temple, on which we are surprised to find nothing said about it. In the long and perturbed period which Thucydides describes, he never once mentioned the Amphiktyons, though the temple and the safety of its treasures form the repeated subject as well of dispute as of express stipulation between Athens and Sparta; moreover, among the twelve constituent members of the council, we find three, the Perrhaebians, the Magnetes, and the Achaeans of Phthia, who were not even independent, but subject to the Thessalians, so that its meetings, when they were not matters of mere form, probably expressed only the feelings of the three or four leading members. When one or more of these great powers had a party purpose to accomplish against others,—when Philip of Macedon wished to extrude one of the members in order to procure admission for himself; — it became convenient to turn this ancient form into a serious reality, and we shall see the Athenian Aschines providing a pretext for Philip to meddle in favor of the minor Boeotian cities against Thebes, by alleging that these cities were under the protection of the old Amphiktyonic oath.

It is thus that we have to consider the council as an element in Grecian affairs,—an ancient institution, one amongst many instances of the primitive habit of religious fraternization, but wider and more comprehensive than the rest,—at first, purely religious, then religious and political at once; lastly, more the latter than the former,—highly valuable in the infancy, but unsuited to the maturity of Greece, and called into real working only on rare occasions, when its efficiency happened to fall in with the views of Athens, Thebes, or the king of Macedon. In such special moments it shines with a transient light which affords a partial pretense for the imposing title bestowed on it by Cicero, —“commune Graeciae concilium”, but we should completely misinterpret Grecian history if we regarded it as a federal council, habitually directing or habitually obeyed. Had there existed any such “commune concilium” of tolerable wisdom and patriotism, and had the tendencies of the Hellenic mind been capable of adapting themselves to it, the whole course of later Grecian history would probably have been altered; the Macedonian kings would have remained only as respectable neighbors, borrowing civilization from Greece, and expending their military energies upon Thracians and Illyrians; while united Hellas might even have maintained her own territory against the conquering legions of Rome.

The twelve constituent Amphiktyonic races remained unchanged until the Sacred War against the Phocaeans (BC 355), after which, though the number twelve was continued, the Phokians were disfranchised, and their votes transferred to Philip of Macedon. It has been already mentioned that these twelve did not exhaust the whole of Hellas. Arcadians, Eleans, Pisans, Minyae, Dryopes, Aetolians, all genuine Hellens, are not comprehended in it; but all of them had a right to make use of the temple of Delphi, and to contend in the Pythian and Olympic games. The Pythian games, celebrated near Delphi, were under the superintendence of the Amphiktyons, or of some acting magistrate chosen by and presumed to represent them : like the Olympic games, they came round every four years (the interval between one celebration and another being four complete years, which the Greeks called a Pentaeteris) : the Isthmian and Nemean games recurred every two years. In its first humble form, of a competition among bards to sing a hymn in praise of Apollo, this festival was doubtless of immemorial antiquity; but the first extension of it into Pan-Hellenic notoriety (as I have already remarked), the first multiplication of the subjects of competition, and the first introduction of a continuous record of the conquerors, date only from the time when it came under the presidency of the Amphiktyons, at the close of the Sacred War against Kirrha. What is called the first Pythian contest coincides with the third year of the 48th Olympiad, or 585 BC. From that period forward, the games become crowded and celebrated : but the date just named, nearly two centuries after the first Olympiad, is a proof that the habit of periodical frequentation of festivals, by numbers and from distant parts, grew up but slowly in the Grecian world.

The foundation of the temple of Delphi itself reaches far beyond all historical knowledge, forming one of the aboriginal institutions of Hellas. It is a sanctified and wealthy place, even in the Iliad : the legislation of Lykurgus at Sparta is introduced under its auspices, and the earliest Grecian colonies, those of Sicily and Italy in the eighth century BC, are established in consonance with its mandate. Delphi and Dodona appear, in the most ancient circumstances of Greece, as universally venerated oracles and sanctuaries : and Delphi not only receives honors and donations, but also answers questions, from Lydians, Phrygians, Etruscans, Romans, etc.: it is not exclusively Hellenic. One of the valuable services which a Greek looked for from this and other great religious establishments was, that it should resolve his doubts in cases of perplexity, — that it should advise him whether to begin a new, or to persist in an old project,— that it should foretell what would be his fate under given circumstances, and inform him, if suffering under distress, on what conditions the gods would grant him relief. The three priestesses of Dodona with their venerable oak, and the priestess of Delphi sitting on her tripod under the influence of a certain gas or vapor exhaling from the rock, were alike competent to determine these difficult points : and we shall have constant occasion to notice in this history, with what complete faith both the question was put and the answer treasured up,— what serious influence it often exercised both upon public and private proceeding. The hexameter verses, in which the Pythian priestess delivered herself, were, indeed, often so equivocal or unintelligible, that the most serious believer, with all anxiety to interpret and obey them, often found himself ruined by the result; yet the general faith in the oracle was no way shaken by such painful experience. For as the unfortunate issue always admitted of being explained upon two hypotheses,— either that the god had spoken falsely, or that his meaning had not been correctly understood, — no man of genuine piety ever hesitated to adopt the latter. There were many other oracles throughout Greece besides Delphi and Dodona: Apollo was open to the inquiries of the faithful at Ptoon in Boeotia, at Abae in Phocis, at Branchidae near Miletus, at Patara in Lycia, and other places : in like manner, Zeus gave answers at Olympia, Poseidon at Taenarus, Amphiaraus at Thebes, Amphilochus at Mallas, etc. And this habit of consulting the oracle formed part of the still more general tendency of the Greek mind to undertake no enterprise without having first ascertained how the gods viewed it, and what measures they were likely to take. Sacrifices were offered, and the interior of the victim carefully examined, with the same intent : omens, prodigies, unlooked-for coincidences, casual expressions, etc., were all construed as significant of the divine will. To sacrifice with a view to this or that undertaking, or to consult the oracle with the same view, are familiar expressions embodied in the language. Nor could any man set about a scheme with comfort, until he had satisfied himself in some manner or other that the gods were favorable to it.


The disposition here adverted to is one of those mental analogies pervading the whole Hellenic nation, which Herodotus indicates. And the common habit among all Greeks, of respectfully listening to the oracle of Delphi, will be found on many occasions useful in maintaining unanimity among men not accustomed to obey the same political superior. In the numerous colonies especially, founded by mixed multitudes from distant parts of Greece, the minds of the emigrants were greatly determined towards cordial cooperation by their knowledge that the expedition had been directed, the oekist indicated, and the spot either chosen or approved, by Apollo of Delphi. Such in most cases was the fact: that god, according to the conception of the Greeks, “takes delight always in the foundation of new cities, and himself in person lays the first stone”.

These are the elements of union—over and above the common territory, described in the last chapter—with which the historical Hellens take their start : community of blood, language, religious point of view, legends, sacrifices, festivals, and also (with certain allowances) of manners and character. The analogy of manners and character between the rude inhabitants of the Arcadian Kynaetha and the polite Athens, was indeed accompanied with wide differences: yet if we compare the two with foreign contemporaries, we shall find certain negative characteristics, of much importance, common to both. In no city of historical Greece did there prevail either human sacrifices, or deliberate mutilation, such as cutting off the nose, ears, hands, feet, etc., or castration, or selling of children into slavery, or polygamy, or the feeling of unlimited obedience towards one man : all customs which might be pointed out as existing among the contemporary Carthaginians, Egyptians, Persians, Thracians, etc. The habit of running, wrestling, boxing, etc., in gymnastic contests, with the body perfectly naked, was common to all Greeks, having been first adopted as a Lacedaemonian fashion in the fourteenth Olympiad : Thucydides and Herodotus remark, that it was not only not practiced, but even regarded as unseemly, among non-Hellens. Of such customs, indeed, at once common to all the Greeks, and peculiar to them as distinguished from others, we cannot specify a great number; but we may see enough to convince ourselves that there did really exist, in spite of local differences, a general Hellenic sentiment and character, which counted among the cementing causes of an union apparently so little assured.

For we must recollect that, in respect to political sovereignty, complete disunion was among their most cherished principles. The only source of supreme authority to which a Greek felt respect and attachment, was to be sought within the walls of his own city. Authority seated in another city might operate upon his fears, might procure for him increased security and advantages, as we shall have occasion hereafter to show with regard to Athens and her subject allies, might even be mildly exercised, and inspire no special aversion; but, still, the principle of it was repugnant to the rooted sentiment of his mind, and he is always found gravitating towards the distinct sovereignty of his own boulé or ekklesia. This is a disposition common both to democracies and oligarchies, and operative even among the different towns belonging to the same subdivision of the Hellenic name, Achaeans, Phocians, Boeotians, etc. The twelve Achaean cities are harmonious allies, with a periodical festival which partakes of the character of a congress, but equal and independent political communities; the Boeotian towns, under the presidency of Thebes, their reputed metropolis, recognize certain common obligations, and obey, on various particular matters, chosen officers named boeotarchs, but we shall see, in this, as in other cases, the centrifugal tendencies constantly manifesting themselves, and resisted chiefly by the interests and power of Thebes. That great, successful, and fortunate revolution, which merged the several independent political communities of Attica into the single unity of Athens, took place before the time of authentic history: it is connected with the name of the hero Theseus, but we know not how it was effected, while its comparatively large size and extent, render it a signal exception to Hellenic tendencies generally.

Political disunion—sovereign authority within the city walls—thus formed a settled maxim in the Greek mind. The relation between one city and another was an international relation, not a relation subsisting between members of a common political aggregate. Within a few miles from his own city-walls, an Athenian found himself in the territory of another city, wherein he was nothing more than an alien, where he could not acquire property in house or land, nor contract a legal marriage with any native woman, nor sue for legal protection against injury, except through the mediation of some friendly citizen. The right of intermarriage, and of acquiring landed property, was occasionally granted by a city to some individual non-freeman, as matter of special favor, and sometimes (though very rarely) reciprocated generally between two separate cities. But the obligations between one city and another, or between the citizen of the one and the citizen of the other, are all matters of special covenant, agreed to by the sovereign authority in each. Such coexistence of entire political severance with so much fellowship in other ways, is perplexing in modern ideas, and modern language, is not well furnished with expressions to describe Greek political phenomena. We may say that an Athenian citizen was an alien when he arrived as a visitor in Corinth, but we can hardly say that he was a foreigner; and though the relations between Corinth and Athens were in principle international, yet that word would be obviously unsuitable to the numerous petty autonomies of Hellas, besides that we require it for describing the relations of Hellenes generally with Persians or Carthaginians. We are compelled to use a word such as interpolitical, to describe the transactions between separate Greek cities, so numerous in the course of this history.


As, on the one hand, a Greek will not consent to look for sovereign authority beyond the limits of his own city, so, on the other hand, he must have a city to look to scattered villages will not satisfy in his mind the exigencies of social order, security, and dignity. Though the coalescence of smaller towns into a larger is repugnant to his feelings, that of villages into a town appears to him a manifest advance in the scale of civilization. Such, at least, is the governing sentiment of Greece throughout the historical period; for there was always a certain portion of the Hellenic aggregate—the rudest and least advanced among them—who dwelt in unfortified villages, and upon whom the citizen of Athens, Corinth, or Thebes, looked down as inferiors. Such village residence was the character of the Epirots universally, and prevailed throughout Hellas itself, in those very early and even ante-Homeric times upon which Thucydides looked back as deplorably barbarous; times of universal poverty and insecurity, absence of pacific intercourse, petty warfare and plunder, compelling every man to pass his life armed, endless migration without any local attachments. Many of the considerable cities of Greece are mentioned as aggregations of preexisting villages, some of them in times comparatively recent. Tegea and Mantinea in Arcadia, represent, in this way, the confluence of eight villages, and five villages respectively; Dyme in Achaia was brought together out of eight villages, and Elis in the same manner, at a period even later than the Persian invasion; the like seems to have happened with Megara and Tanagra. A large proportion of the Arcadians continued their village life down to the time of the battle of Leuctra, and it suited the purposes of Sparta to keep them thus disunited; a policy which we shall see hereafter illustrated by the dismemberment of Mantinea (into its primitive component villages), which Agesilaus carried into effect, but which was reversed as soon as the power of Sparta was no longer paramount, as well as by the foundation of Megalopolis out of a large number of petty Arcadian towns and villages, one of the capital measures of Epameinondas. As this measure was an elevation of Arcadian importance, so the reverse proceeding—the breaking up of a city into its elementary villages—was not only a sentence of privation and suffering, but also a complete extinction of Grecian rank and dignity.

The Ozolian Locrians, the Aetolians, and the Acarnanians maintained their separate village residence down to a still later period, preserving along with it their primitive rudeness and disorderly pugnacity. Their villages were unfortified, and defended only by comparative inaccessibility; in case of need, they fled for safety with their cattle into the woods and mountains. Amidst such inauspicious circumstances, there was no room for that expansion of the social and political feelings to which protected intramural residence and increased numbers gave birth; there was no consecrated acropolis or agora, no ornamented temples and porticos, exhibiting the continued offerings of successive generations, no theatre for music or recitation, no gymnasium for athletic exercises, none of those fixed arrangements, for transacting public business with regularity and decorum, which the Greek citizen, with his powerful sentiment of locality, deemed essential to a dignified existence. The village was nothing more than a fraction and a subordinate, appertaining as a limb to the organized body called the city. But the city and the state are in his mind, and in his language, one and the same. While no organization less than the city can satisfy the exigencies of an intelligent freeman, the city is itself a perfect and self-sufficient whole, admitting no incorporation into any higher political unity. It deserves notice that Sparta, even in the days of her greatest power, was not (properly speaking) a city, but a mere agglutination of five adjacent villages, retaining unchanged its old-fashioned trim: for the extreme defensibility of its frontier and the military prowess of its inhabitants, supplied the absence of walls, while the discipline imposed upon the Spartan, exceeded in rigor and minuteness anything known in Greece. And thus Sparta, though less than a city in respect to external appearance, was more than a city in respect to perfection of drilling and fixity of political routine. The contrast between the humble appearance and the mighty reality, is pointed out by Thucydides. The inhabitants of the small territory of Pisa, wherein Olympia is situated, had once enjoyed the honorable privilege of administering the Olympic festival. Having been robbed of it, and subjected by the more powerful Eleians, they took advantage of various movements and tendencies among the larger Grecian powers to try and regain it; and on one of these occasions, we find their claim repudiated because they were villagers, and unworthy of so great a distinction. There was nothing to be called a city in the Pisatid territory.

In going through historical Greece, we are compelled to accept the Hellenic aggregate with its constituent elements as a primary fact to start from, because the state of our information does not enable us to ascend any higher. By what circumstances, or out of what preexisting elements, this aggregate was brought together and modified, we find no evidence entitled to credit. There are, indeed, various names which are affirmed to designate ante-Hellenic inhabitants of many parts of Greece,— the Pelasgi, the Leleges, the Kuretes, the Kaukones, the Aones, the Temmikes, the Hyantes, the Telchines, the Boeotian Thracians, the Teleboae, the Ephyri, the Phlegyae, etc. These are names belonging to legendary, not to historical Greece, extracted out of a variety of conflicting legends, by the logographers and subsequent historians, who strung together out of them a supposed history of the past, at a time when the conditions of historical evidence were very little understood. That these names designated real nations, may be true, but here our knowledge ends. We have no well-informed witness to tell us their times, their limits of residence, their acts, or their character; nor do we know how far they are identical with or diverse from the historical Hellens, whom we are warranted in calling, not, indeed, the first inhabitants of the country, but the first known to us upon any tolerable evidence. If any man is inclined to call the unknown ante-Hellenic period of Greece by the name of Pelasgic, it is open to him to do so; but this is a name carrying with it no assured predicates, noway enlarging our insight into real history, nor enabling us to explain—what would be the real historical problem—how or from whom the Hellens acquired that stock of dispositions, aptitudes, arts, etc., with which they begin their career. Whoever has examined the many conflicting systems respecting the Pelasgi,—from the literal belief of Clavier, Larcher, and Raoul Rochette, (which appears to me, at least, the most consistent way of proceeding,) to the interpretative and half-incredulous processes applied by abler men, such as Niebuhr, or 0. Muller, or Dr. Thirlwall,— will not be displeased with my resolution to decline so insoluble a problem. No attested facts are now present to us —none were present to Herodotus and Thucydides, even in their age—on which to build trustworthy affirmations respecting the ante-Hellenic Pelasgians. And where such is the ease, we may without impropriety apply the remark of Herodotus, respecting one of the theories which he had heard for explaining the inundation of the Nile by a supposed connection with the circumfluous Ocean, —that "the man who carries up his story into the invisible world, passes out of the range of criticism."


As far as our knowledge extends, there were no towns or villages called Pelasgian, in Greece proper, since 776 BC. But there still existed in two different places, even in the age of Herodotus, people whom he believed to be Pelasgians. One portion of these occupied the towns of Plakia and Skylake near Kyzikus, on the Propontis; another dwelt in a town called Kreston, near the Thermaic gulf. There were, moreover, certain other Pelasgian townships which he does not specify, it seems, indeed, from Thucydides, that there were some little Pelasgian townships on the peninsula of Athos. Now, Herodotus acquaints us with the remarkable fact, that the people of Kreston, those of Plakia and Skylake, and those of the other unnamed Pelasgian townships, all spoke the same language, and each of them respectively a different language from their neighbors around them. He informs us, moreover, that their language was a barbarous (i.e. a non-Hellenic) language; and this fact he quotes as an evidence to prove that the ancient Pelasgian language was a barbarous language, or distinct from the Hellenic. He at the same time states expressly that he has no positive knowledge what language the ancient Pelasgians spoke, —one proof, among others, that no memorials nor means of distinct information concerning that people, could have been open to him.

This is the one single fact, amidst so many conjectures concerning the Pelasgians, which we can be said to know upon the testimony of a competent and contemporary witness : the few townships—scattered and inconsiderable, but all that Herodotus in his day knew as Pelasgian— spoke a barbarous language. And upon such a point, he must be regarded as an excellent judge. If, then, (infers the historian,) all the early Pelasgians spoke the same language as those of Kreston and Plakia, they must have changed their language at the time when they passed into the Hellenic aggregate, or became Hellens. Now, Herodotus conceives that aggregate to have been gradually enlarged to its great actual size by incorporating with itself not only the Pelasgians, but several other nations once barbarians; the Hellens having been originally an inconsiderable people. Among those other nations once barbarian, whom Herodotus supposes to have become Hellenized, we may probably number the Leleges; and with respect to them, as well as to the Pelasgians, we have contemporary testimony proving the existence of barbarian Leleges in later times. Philippus, the Carian historian, attested the present existence, and believed in the past existence, of Leleges in his country, as serfs or dependent cultivators under the Carians, analogous to the Helots in Laconia, or the Penestae in Thessaly. We may be very sure that there were no Hellens—no men speaking the Hellenic tongue—standing in such a relation to the Carians. Among those many barbaric-speaking nations whom Herodotus believed to have changed their language and passed into Hellens, we may, therefore, fairly consider the Leleges to have been included. For next to the Pelasgians and Pelasgus, the Leleges and Leleae figure most conspicuously in the legendary genealogies and both together cover the larger portion of the Hellenic soil.

Confining myself to historical evidence, and believing that no assured results can be derived from the attempt to transform legend into history, I accept the statement of Herodotus with confidence, as to the barbaric language spoken by the Pelasgians of his day; and I believe the same with regard to the historical Leleges, but without presuming to determine anything in regard to the legendary Pelasgians and Leleges, the supposed ante-Hellenic inhabitants of Greece. And I think this course more consonant to the laws of historical inquiry than that which comes recommended by the high authority of Dr. Thirlwall, who softens and explains away the statement of Herodotus, until it is made to mean only that the Pelasgians of Plakia and Kreston spoke a very bad Greek. The affirmation of Herodotus is distinct, and twice repeated, that the Pelasgians of these towns, and of his own time, spoke a barbaric language; and that word appears to me to admit of but one interpretation. To suppose that a man, who, like Herodotus, had heard almost every variety of Greek, in the course of his long travels, as well as Egyptian, Phoenician, Assyrian, Lydian, and other languages, did not know bow to distinguish bad Hellenic from non-Hellenic, is, in my judgment, inadmissible; at any rate, the supposition is not to be adopted without more cogent evidence than any which is here found.


As I do not presume to determine what were the antecedent internal elements out of which the Hellenic aggregate was formed, so I confess myself equally uninformed with regard to its external constituents. Cadmus, Danaus, Kekrops,—the eponyms of the Cadmeians, of the Danaans, and of the Attic Kekropia,—present themselves to my vision as creatures of legend, and in that character I have already adverted to them. That there may have been very early settlements in continental Greece, from Phoenicia and Egypt, is nowise impossible; but I see neither positive proof, nor ground for probable inference, that there were any such, though traces of Phoenician settlements in some of the islands may doubtless be pointed out. And if we examine the character and aptitudes of Greeks, as compared either with Egyptians or Phoenicians, it will appear that there is not only no analogy, but an obvious and fundamental contrast: the Greek may occasionally be found as a borrower from these ultramarine contemporaries, but he cannot be looked upon as their offspring or derivative. Nor can I bring myself to accept an hypothesis which implies (unless we are to regard the supposed foreign emigrants as very few in number, in which case the question loses most of its importance) that the Hellenic language—the noblest among the many varieties of human speech, and possessing within itself a pervading symmetry and organization—is a mere confluence of two foreign barbaric languages (Phoenician and Egyptian) with two or more internal barbaric languages,—Pelasgian, Lelegian, etc. In the mode of investigation pursued by different historians into this question of early foreign colonies, there is great difference (as in the case of the Pelasgi) between the different authors,—from the acquiescent Euemerism of Raoul Rochette to the refined distillation of Dr. Thirlwall, in the third chapter of his History. It will be found that the amount of positive knowledge which Dr. Thirlwall guarantees to his readers in that chapter is extremely inconsiderable; for though he proceeds upon the general theory (different from that which I hold) that historical matter may be distinguished and elicited from the legends, yet when the question arises respecting any definite historical result, his canon of credibility is too just to permit him to overlook the absence of positive evidence, even when all intrinsic incredibility is removed. That which I note as Terra Incognita, is in his view a land which may be known up to a certain point; but the map which he draws of it contains so few ascertained places as to differ very little from absolute vacuity.

The most ancient district called Hellas is affirmed by Aristotle to have been near Dodona and the river Achelous,—a description which would have been unintelligible (since the river does not flow near Dodona), if it had not been qualified by the remark, that the river had often in former times changed its course. He states, moreover, that the deluge of Deukalion took place chiefly in this district, which was in those early days inhabited by the Selli, and by the people then called Graeci, but now Hellenes. The Selli (called by Pindar, Helli) are mentioned in the Iliad as the ministers of the Dodonaean Zeus,—"men who slept on the ground, and never washed their feet"; and Hesiod, in one of the lost poems (the Eoiai), speaks of the fat land and rich pastures of the land called Hellopia, wherein Dodona was situated. On what authority Aristotle made his statement, we do not know; but the general feeling of the Greeks was different, — connecting Deukalion, Hellen, and the Hellenes, primarily and specially with the territory called Achaia Phthiotis, between Mount Othrys and Oeta. Nor can we either affirm or deny his assertion that the people in the neighborhood of Dodona were called Graeci before they were called Hellenes. There is no ascertained instance of the mention of a people called Graeci, in any author earlier than this Aristotelian treatise; for the allusions to Alkman and Sophokles prove nothing to the point. Nor can we explain how it came to pass that the Hellenes were known to the Romans only under the name of Graeci, or Graii. But the name by which a people is known to foreigners is often completely different from its own domestic name, and we are not less at a loss to assign the reason, how the Rasena of Etruria came to be known to the Romans by the name of Tuscans, or Etruscans.





HAVING in the preceding chapter touched upon the Greeks in their aggregate capacity, I now come to describe separately the portions of which this aggregate consisted, as they present themselves at the first discernible period of history.

It has already been mentioned that the twelve races or subdivisions, members of what is called the Amphiktyonic convocation, were as follows :

North of the pass of Thermopylae : Thessalians, Perrhaebians, Magnetes, Achaeans, Melians, Aenianes, Dolopes.

South of the pass of Thermopylae : Dorians, Ionians, Boeotians, Locrians, Phocaeans.

Other Hellenic races, not comprised among the Amphiktyons, were : The Aetolians and Acarnanians, north of the gulf of Corinth.

The Arcadians, Eleians, Pisatans, and Triphylians, in the central and western portion of Peloponnesus : I do not here name the Achaeans, who occupied the southern or Peloponnesian coast of the Corinthian gulf, because they may be presumed to have been originally of the same race as the Phthiot Achaeans, and therefore participant in the Amphiktyonic constituency, though their actual connection with it may have been disused.

The Dryopes, an inconsiderable, but seemingly peculiar subdivision, who occupied some scattered points on the sea-coast,—Hermione on the Argolic peninsula; Styrus and Karystus in Euboea; the island of Kythnus, etc.

Though it may be said, in a general way, that our historical discernment of the Hellenic aggregate, apart from the illusions of legend, commences with 776 BC, yet, with regard to the larger number of its subdivisions just enumerated, we can hardly be said to possess any specific facts anterior to the invasion of Xerxes in 480 BC. Until the year 560 BC, (the epoch of Croesus in Asia Minor, and of Peisistratus at Athens,) the history of the Greeks presents hardly anything of a collective character : the movements of each portion of the Hellenic world begin and end apart from the rest. The destruction of Kirrha by the Amphiktyons is the first historical incident which brings into play, in defense of the Delphian temple, a common Hellenic feeling of active obligation.

But about 560 BC, two important changes are seen to come into operation, which alter the character of Grecian history, extricating it out of its former chaos of detail, and centralizing its isolated phenomena : 1. The subjugation of the Asiatic Greeks by Lydia and by Persia, followed by their struggles for emancipation, wherein the European Greeks became implicated, first as accessories, and afterwards as principals. 2. The combined action of the large mass of Greeks under Sparta, as their most powerful state and acknowledged chief, succeeded by the rapid and extraordinary growth of Athens, the complete development of Grecian maritime power, and the struggle between Athens and Sparta for the headship. These two causes, though distinct in themselves, must, nevertheless, be regarded as working together to a certain degree, or rather, the second grew out of the first. For it was the Persian invasions of Greece which first gave birth to a widespread alarm and antipathy among the leading Greeks (we must not call it Pan-Hellenic, since more than half of the Amphiktyonic constituency gave earth and water to Xerxes) against the barbarians of the East, and impressed them with the necessity of joint active operations under a leader. The idea of a leadership or hegemony of collective Hellas, as a privilege necessarily vested in some one state for common security against the barbarians, thus became current, — an idea foreign to the mind of Solon, or any one of the same age. Next, came the miraculous development of Athens, and the violent contest between her and Sparta, which should be the leader; the larger portion of Hellas taking side with one or the other, and the common quarrel against the Persian being for the time put out of sight. Athens is put down, Sparta acquires the undisputed hegemony, and again the antibarbaric feeling manifests itself, though faintly, in the Asiatic expeditions of Agesilaus. But the Spartans, too incompetent either to deserve or maintain this exalted position, are overthrown by the Thebans, themselves not less incompetent, with the single exception of Epaminondas. The death of that single man extinguishes the pretensions of Thebes to the hegemony, and Hellas is left, like the deserted Penelope in the Odyssey, worried by the competition of several suitors, none of whom is strong enough to stretch the bow on which the prize depends. Such a manifestation of force, as well as the trampling down of the competing suitors, is reserved, not for any legitimate Hellenic arm, but for a semi-Hellenized Macedonian, “brought up at Pella”, and making good his encroachments gradually from the north of Olympus. The hegemony of Greece thus passes forever out of Grecian bands; but the conqueror finds his interest in rekindling the old sentiment under the influence of which it had first sprung up. He binds to him the discordant Greeks, by the force of their ancient and common antipathy against the Great King, until the desolation and sacrilege once committed by Xerxes at Athens is avenged by annihilation of the Persian empire. And this victorious consummation of Pan-Hellenic antipathy, the dream of Xenophon and the Ten Thousand Greeks after the battle of Kunaxa, the hope of Jason of Pherae, the exhortation of Isocrates, the project of Philip, and the achievement of Alexander, while it manifests the irresistible might of Hellenic ideas and organization in the then existing state of the world, is at the same time the closing scene of substantive Grecian life. The citizen-feelings of Greece become afterwards merely secondary forces, subordinate to the preponderance of Greek mercenaries under Macedonian order, and to the rudest of all native Hellens, the Aetolian mountaineers. Some few individuals are indeed found, even in the third century BC, worthy of the best times of Hellas, and the Achaean confederation of that century is an honorable attempt to contend against irresistible difficulties : but on the whole, that free, social, and political march, which gives so much interest to the earlier centuries, is irrevocably banished from Greece after the generation of Alexander the Great.

The foregoing brief sketch will show that, taking the period from Croesus and Peisistratus down to the generation of Alexander (560-300), the phenomena of Hellas generally, and her relations both foreign and interpolitical, admit of being grouped together in masses, with continued dependence on one or a few predominant circumstances. They may be said to constitute a sort of historical epopee, analogous to that which Herodotus has constructed out of the wars between Greeks and barbarians, from the legends of Io and Europa down to the repulse of Xerxes. But when we are called back to the period between 776 and 560 BC, the phenomena brought to our knowledge are scanty in number, exhibiting few common feelings of interests, and no tendency towards any one assignable purpose. To impart attraction to this first period, so obscure and unpromising, we shall be compelled to consider it in its relation with the second; partly as a preparation, partly as a contrast.

Of the extra-Peloponnesian Greeks north of Attica, during these two centuries, we know absolutely nothing; but it will be possible to furnish some information respecting the early condition and struggles of the great Dorian states in Peloponnesus, and respecting the rise of Sparta from the second to the first place in the comparative scale of Grecian powers. Athens becomes first known to us at the legislation of Drako and the attempt of Kylon (620 BC) to make himself despot; and we gather some facts concerning the Ionic cities in Euboea and Asia Minor, during the century of their chief prosperity, prior to the reign and conquests of Croesus. In this way, we shall form to ourselves some idea of the growth of Sparta and Athens, of the short-lived and energetic development of the Ionic Greeks, and of the slow working of those causes which tended to bring about increased Hellenic intercommunication, as contrasted with the enlarged range of ambition, the grand Pan-Hellenic ideas, the systematized party-antipathies, and the intensified action, both abroad and at home, which grew out of the contest with Persia.

There are also two or three remarkable manifestations which will require special notice during this first period of Grecian history : 1. The great multiplicity of colonies sent forth by individual cities, and the rise and progress of these several colonies; 2. The number of despots who arose in the various Grecian cities; 3. The lyric poetry; 4. The rudiments of that which afterwards ripened into moral philosophy, as manifested in gnomes, or aphorisms, or the age of the Seven Wise Men.

But before I proceed to relate those earliest proceedings (unfortunately too few) of the Dorians and Ionians during the historical period, together with the other matters just alluded to, it will be convenient to go over the names and positions of those other Grecian states respecting which we have no information during these first two centuries. Some idea will thus be formed of the less important members of the Hellenic aggregate, previous to the time when they will be called into action. We begin by the territory north of the pass of Thermopylae.


Of the different races who dwelt between this celebrated pass and the mouth of the river Peneius, by far the most powerful and important were the Thessalians. Sometimes, indeed, the whole of this area passes under the name of Thessaly, since nominally, though not always really, the power of the Thessalians extended over the whole. We know that the Trachinian Herakleia, founded by the Lacedaemonians in the early years of the Peloponnesian war, close at the pass of Thermopylae, was planted upon the territory of the Thessalians. But there were also within these limits other races, inferior and dependent on the Thessalians, yet said to be of more ancient date, and certainly not less genuine subdivisions of the Hellenic name. The Perrhaebi occupied the northern portion of the territory between the lower course of the river Peneius and Mount Olympus. The Magnetes dwelt along the eastern coast, between Mount Ossa and Pelion on one side and the Aegean on the other, comprising the south-eastern cape and the eastern coast of the gulf of Pagasae as far as Iolkos. The Achaeans occupied the territory called Phthiotis, extending from near Mount Pindus on the west to the gulf of Pagasae on the east, along the mountain chain of Othrys with its lateral projections northerly into the Thessalian plain, and southerly even to its junction with Oeta. The three tribes of the Malians dwelt between Achaea Phthiotis and Thermopylae, including both Trachin and Herakleia. Westward of Achaea Phthiotis, the lofty region of Pindus or Tymphrestus, with its declivities both westward and eastward, was occupied by the Dolopes.

All these five tribes, or subdivisions, Perrhaebians, Magnetes, Achaeans of Phthiotis, Malians, and Dolopes, together with certain Epirotic and Macedonian tribes besides, beyond the boundaries of Pindus and Olympus, were in a state of irregular dependence upon the Thessalians, who occupied the central plain or basin drained by the Peneius. That river receives the streams from Olympus, from Pindus, and from Othrys, flowing through a region which was supposed by its inhabitants to have been once a lake, until Poseidon cut open the defile of Tempe, through which the waters found an efflux. In travelling northward from Thermopylae, the commencement of this fertile region — the amplest space of land continuously productive which Hellas presents — is strikingly marked by the steep rock and ancient fortress of Thaumaki; from whence the traveller, passing over the mountains of Achaea Phthiotis and Othrys, sees before him the plains and low declivities which reach northward across Thessaly to Olympus. A narrow strip of coast—in the interior of the gulf of Pagasae, between the Magnetes and the Achaeans, and containing the towns of Amphanaeum and Pagasae belonged to this proper territory of Thessaly, but its great expansion inland: within it were situated the cities of Pherae, Pharsalus, Skotussa, Larissa, Krannon, Atrax, Pharkadon, Trikka, Metropolis, Pelinna, etc.

The abundance of corn and cattle from the neighboring plains sustained in these cities a numerous population, and above all a proud and disorderly noblesse, whose manners bore much resemblance to those of the heroic times. They were violent in their behavior, eager in armed feud, but unaccustomed to political discussion or compromise; faithless as to obligations, yet at the same time generous in their hospitalities, and much given to the enjoyments of the table. Breeding the finest horses in Greece, they were distinguished for their excellence as cavalry; but their infantry is little noticed, nor do the Thessalian cities seem to have possessed that congregation of free and tolerably equal citizens, each master of his own arms, out of whom the ranks of hoplites were constituted, —the warlike nobles, such as the Aleuadae at Larissa, or the Skopadae at Krannon, despising everything but equestrian servile for themselves, furnished, from their extensive herds on the plain, horses for the poorer soldiers. These Thessalian cities exhibit the extreme of turbulent oligarchy, occasionally trampled down by some one man of great vigor, but little tempered by that sense of political communion and reverence for established law, which was found among the better cities of Hellas. Both in Athens and Sparta, so different in many respects from each other, this feeling will be found, if not indeed constantly predominant, yet constantly present and operative. Both of them exhibit a contrast with Larissa or Pherae not unlike that between Rome and Capua, the former, with her endless civil disputes constitutionally conducted, admitting the joint action of parties against a common foe; the latter, with her abundant soil enriching a luxurious oligarchy, and impelled according to the feuds of her great proprietors, the Magii, Blossii, and Jubellii.

The Thessalians are, indeed, in their character and capacity as much Epirotic or Macedonian as Hellenic, forming a sort of link between the two. For the Macedonians, though trained in aftertimes upon Grecian principles by the genius of Philip and Alexander, so as to constitute the celebrated heavy-armed phalanx, were originally (even in the Peloponnesian war) distinguished chiefly for the excellence of their cavalry, like the Thessalians, while the broad-brimmed hat, or kausia, and the short spreading-mantle, or chlamys, were common to both.

We are told that the Thessalians were originally emigrants from Thesprotia in Epirus, and conquerors of the plain of the Peneius, which (according to Herodotus) was then called Aeolis, and which they found occupied by the Pelasgi. It may be doubted whether the great Thessalian families, such as the Aleuadae of Larissa, descendants from Heracles, and placed by Pindar on the same level as the Lacedaemonian kings, would have admitted this Thesprotian origin; nor does it coincide with the tenor of those legends which make the eponymous, Thessalus, son of Heracles. Moreover, it is to be remarked that the language of the Thessalians was Hellenic, a variety of the Aeolic dialect, the same (so far as we can make out) as that of the people whom they must have found settled in the country at their first conquest. If then it be true that, at some period anterior to the commencement of authentic history, a body of Thesprotian warriors crossed the passes of Pindus, and established themselves as conquerors in Thessaly, we must suppose them to have been more warlike than numerous, and to have gradually dropped their primitive language.

In other respects, the condition of the population of Thessaly, such as we find it during the historical period, favors the supposition of an original mixture of conquerors and conquered: for it seems that there was among the Thessalians and their dependents a triple gradation, somewhat analogous to that of Laconia. First, a class of rich proprietors distributed throughout the principal cities, possessing most of the soil, and constituting separate oligarchies, loosely hanging together. Next, the subject Achaeans, Magnetes, Perrhaebi, differing from the Laconian Perioeki in this point, that they retained their ancient tribe-name and separate Amphiktyonic franchise. Thirdly, a class of serfs, or dependent cultivators, corresponding to the Laconian Helots, who, tilling the lands of the wealthy oligarchs, paid over a proportion of its produce, furnished the retainers by which these great families were surrounded, served as their followers in the cavalry, and were in a condition of villenage, yet with the important reserve, that they could not be sold out of the country, that they had a permanent tenure in the soil, and that they maintained among one another the relations of family and village. This last mentioned order of men, in Thessaly called the Penestae, is assimilated by all ancient authors to the Helots of Laconia, and in both cases the danger attending such a social arrangement is noticed by Plato and Aristotle. For the Helots as well as the Penestae had their own common language and mutual sympathies, a separate residence, arms, and courage; to a certain extent, also, they possessed the means of acquiring property, since we are told that some of the Penestae were richer than their masters. So many means of action, combined with a degraded social position, gave rise to frequent revolt and incessant apprehensions. As a general rule, indeed, the cultivation of the soil by slaves, or dependents, for the benefit of proprietors in the cities, prevailed throughout most parts of Greece. The rich men of Thebes, Argos, Athens, or Elis, must have derived their incomes in the same manner; but it seems that there was often, in other places, a larger intermixture of bought foreign slaves, and also that the number, fellow-feeling, and courage of the degraded village population was nowhere so great as in Thessaly and Laconia. Now the origin of the Penestae, in Thessaly, is ascribed to the conquest of the territory by the Thesprotians, as that of the Helots in Laconia is traced to the Dorian conquest. The victors in both countries are said to have entered into a convention with the vanquished population, whereby the latter became serfs and tillers of the land for the benefit of the former, but were at the same time protected in their holdings, constituted subjects of the state, and secured against being sold away as slaves. Even in the Thessalian cities, though inhabited in common by Thessalian proprietors and their Penestae, the quarters assigned to each were to a great degree separated : what was called the Free Agora could not be trodden by any Penest, except when specially summoned.

Who the people were, whom the conquest of Thessaly by the Thesprotians reduced to this predial villenage, we find differently stated. According to Theopompus, they were Perrhaebians and Magnetes; according to others, Pelasgians; while Archemachus alleged them to have been Boeotians of the territory of Arne, some emigrating, to escape the conquerors, others remaining and accepting the condition of serfs. But the conquest, assuming it as a fact, occurred at far too early a day to allow of out making out either the manner in which it came to pass, or the state of things which preceded it. The Pelasgians whom Herodotus saw at Kreston are affirmed by him to have been the descendants of those who quitted Thessaly to escape the invading Thesprotians; though others held that the Boeotians, driven on this occasion from their habitations on the gulf of Pagasae near the Achaeans of Phthiotis, precipitated themselves on Orchomenus and Boeotia, and settled in it, expelling the Minyae and the Pelasgians.


Passing over the legends on this subject, and confining ourselves to historical time, we find an established quadruple division of Thessaly, said to have been introduced in the time of Aleuas, the ancestor (real or mythical) of the powerful Aleuadae,—Thessaliotis, Pelasgiotis, Histiaeotis, Phthiotis. In Phthiotis were comprehended the Achaeans, whose chief towns were Melitaea, Itonus, Thebae, Phthiotides, Alos, Larissa, Kremaste, and Pteleon, on or near the western coast of the gulf of Pagasae. Histiaeotis, to the north of the Peneius, comprised the Perrhaebians, with numerous towns strong in situation, but of no great size or importance; they occupied the passes of Olympus and are sometimes considered as extending westward across Pindus. Pelasgiotis included the Magnetes, together with that which was called the Pelasgic plain, bordering on the western side of Pelion and Ossa. Thessaliotis comprised the central plain of Thessaly and the upper course of the river Peneius. This was the political classification of the Thessalian power, framed to suit a time when the separate cities were maintained in harmonious action by favorable circumstances, or by some energetic individual ascendency; for their union was in general interrupted and disorderly, and we find certain cities standing aloof while the rest went to war. Though a certain political junction, and obligations of some kind towards a common authority, were recognized in theory by all, and a chief, or Tagus, was nominated to enforce obedience, yet it frequently happened that the disputes of the cities among themselves prevented the choice of a Tagus, or drove him out of the country; and left the alliance little more than nominal. Larissa, Pharsalus, and Pherae, each with its cluster of dependent towns as adjuncts, seem to have been nearly on a par in strength, and each torn by intestine faction, so that not only was the supremacy over common dependents relaxed, but even the means of repelling invaders greatly enfeebled. The dependence of the Perrhaebians, Magnetes, Achaeans, and Malians, might, under these circumstances, be often loose and easy. But the condition of the Penestae—who occupied the villages belonging to these great cities, in the central plain of Pelasgiotis and Thessaliotis, and from whom the Aleuadae and Skopadae derived their exuberance of landed produce—was noway mitigated, if it was not even aggravated, by such constant factions. Nor were there wanting cases in which the discontent of this subject-class was employed by members of the native oligarchy, or even by foreign states, for the purpose of bringing about political revolutions.

“When Thessaly is under her tagus, all the neighboring people pay tribute to her; she can send into the field six thousand cavalry and ten thousand hoplites, or heavy-armed infantry”, observed Jason, despot of Pherae, to Polydamas of Pharsalus, in endeavoring to prevail on the latter to second his pretensions to that dignity. The impost due from the tributaries, seemingly considerable, was then realized with arrears, and the duties upon imports at the harbors of the Pagasaean gulf, imposed for the benefit of the confederacy, were then enforced with strictness; but the observation shows that, while unanimous Thessaly was very powerful, her periods of unanimity were only occasional. Among the nations which thus paid tribute to the fullness of Thessalian power, we may number not merely the Perrhaebi, Magnetes, and Achaeans of Phthiotis, but also the Malians and Dolopes, and various tribes of Epirots extending to the westward of Pindus. We may remark that they were all (except the Malians) javelin-men, or light-armed troops, not serving in rank with the full panoply; a fact which, in Greece, counts as presumptive evidence of a lower civilization : the Magnetes, too, had a peculiar close-fitting mode of dress, probably suited to movements in a mountainous country. There was even a time when the Thessalian power threatened to extend southward of Thermopylae, subjugating the Phocaeans, Dorians, and Locrians. So much were the Phocaeans alarmed at this danger, that they had built a wall across the pass of Thermopylae, for the purpose of more easily defending it against Thessalian invaders, who are reported to have penetrated more than once into the Phocaean valleys, and to have sustained some severe defeats. At what precise time these events happened, we find no information; but it must have been considerably earlier than the invasion of Xerxes, since the defensive wall which had been built at Thermopylae, by the Phocaeans, was found by Leonidas in a state of ruin. But the Phocaeans, though they no longer felt the necessity of keeping up this wall, had not ceased to fear and hate the Thessalians, an antipathy which will be found to manifest itself palpably in connection with the Persian invasion. On the whole, the resistance of the Phocaeans was successful, for the power of the Thessalians never reached southward of the pass.

It will be recollected that these different ancient races: Perrhaebi, Magnetes, Achaeans, Malians, Dolopes, though tributaries of the Thessalians, still retained their Amphiktyonic franchise, and were considered as legitimate Hellenes: all except the Malians are, indeed, mentioned in the Iliad. We shall rarely nave occasion to speak much of them in the course of this history : they are found siding with Xerxes (chiefly by constraint) in his attack of Greece, and almost indifferent in the struggle between Sparta and Athens. That the Achaeans of Phthiotis are a portion of the same race as the Achaeans of Peloponnesus it seems reasonable to believe, though we trace no historical evidence to authenticate it. Achaea Phthiotis is the seat of Hellen, the patriarch of the entire race, of the primitive Hellas, by some treated as a town, by others as a district of some breadth, and of the great national hero, Achilles. Its connection with the Peloponnesian Achaeans is not unlike that of Doris with the Peloponnesian Dorians.

We have, also, to notice another ethnical kindred, the date and circumstances of which are given to us only in a mythical form, but which seems, nevertheless, to be in itself a reality, that of the Magnetes on Pelion and Ossa, with the two divisions of Asiatic Magnetes, or Magnesia, on Mount Sipylus and Magnesia on the river Meander. It is said that these two Asiatic homonymous towns were founded by migrations of the Thessalian Magnetes, a body of whom became consecrated to the Delphian god, and chose a new abode under his directions. According to one story, these emigrants were warriors, returning from the Siege of Troy; according to another, they sought fresh seats, to escape from the Thesprotian conquerors of Thessaly. There was a third story, according to which the Thessalian Magnetes themselves were represented as colonists from Delphi. Though we can elicit no distinct matter of fact from these legends, we may, nevertheless, admit the connection of race between the Thessalian and the Asiatic Magnetes, as well as the reverential dependence of both, manifested in this supposed filiation, on the temple of Delphi Of the Magnetes in Crete, noticed by Plato as long extinct in his time, we cannot absolutely verify even the existence.

Of the Malians, Thucydides notices three tribes as existing in his time: the Paralii, the Hieres (priests), and the Trachinii, or men of Trachin : it is possible that the second of the two may have been possessors of the sacred spot on which the Amphiktyonic meetings were held. The prevalence of the hoplites or heavy-armed, infantry among the Malians, indicates that we are stepping from Thessalian to more southerly Hellenic habits: the Malians recognized every man as a qualified citizen, who either had served, or was serving, in the ranks with his full panoply. Yet the panoply was probably not perfectly suitable to the mountainous regions by which they were surrounded; for, at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, the aggressive mountaineers of the neighboring region of Oeta, had so harassed and overwhelmed them in war, that they were forced to throw themselves on the protection of Sparta; and the establishment of the Spartan colony of Herakleia, near Trachin, was the result of their urgent application. Of these mountaineers, described under the general name of Oetaeans, the principal were the Aenianes, or Enienes, as they are termed in the Homeric Catalogue, as well as by Herodotus), an ancient Hellenic Amphiktyonic race, who are said to have passed through several successive migrations in Thessaly and Epirus, but who, in the historical times, had their settlement and their chief town, Hypata, in the upper valley of the Spercheius, on the northern declivity of Mount Oeta. But other tribes were probably also included in the name, such as those Aetolian tribes, the Bomians and Kallians, whose high and cold abodes approached near to the Maliac gulf. It is in this sense that we are to understand the name, as comprehending all the predatory tribes along this extensive mountain range, when we are told of the damage done by the Oetaeans, both to the Malians on the east, and to the Dorians on the south: but there are some eases in which the name Oetaeans seems to designate expressly the Aenianes, especially when they are mentioned as exercising the Amphiktyonie franchise.


The fine soil, abundant moisture, and genial exposure of the southern declivities of Othrys, especially the valley of the Spercheius, through which river all these waters pass away, and which annually gives forth a fertilizing inundation, present a marked contrast with the barren, craggy, and naked masses of Mount Oeta, which forms one side of the pass of Thermopylae. Southward of the pass, the Locrians, Phocaeans, and Dorians, occupied the mountains and passes between Thessaly and Boeotia. The coast opposite to the western side of Euboea, from the neighborhood of Thermopylae, as far as the Boeotian frontier at Anthedon, was possessed by the Locrians, whose northern frontier town, Alpeni, was conterminous with the Malians. There was, however, one narrow strip of Phocis—the town of Daphnus, where the Phocaeans also touched the Euboean sea—which broke this continuity, and divided the Locrians into two sections, Locrians of Mount Knemis, or Epiknemidian Locrians, and Locrians of Opus, or Opuntian Locrians. The mountain called Knemis, running southward parallel to the coast from the end of Oeta, divided the former section from the inland Phocaeans and the upper valley of the Kephisus : farther southward, joining continuously with Mount Ptoon by means of an intervening mountain which is now called Chlomo, it separated the Locrians of Opus from the territories of Orchomenus, Thebes, and Anthedon, the north-eastern portions of Boeotia. Besides these two sections of the Locrian name, there was also a third, completely separate, and said to have been colonized out from Opus, the Locrians surnamed Ozolae, who dwelt apart on the western side of Phocis, along the northern coast of the Corinthian gulf. They reached from Amphissa—which overhung the plain of Krissa, and stood within seven miles of Delphi—to Naupaktus, near the narrow entrance of the gulf; which latter town was taken from these Locrians by the Athenians, a little before the Peloponnesian war. Opus prided itself on being the mother-city of the Locrian name, and the legends of Deukalion and Pyrrha found a home there as well as in Phthiotis. Alpeni, Nikaea, Thronium, and Skarpheia, were towns, ancient but unimportant, of the Epiknemidian Lokrians; but the whole length of this Locrian coast is celebrated for its beauty and fertility, both by ancient and modern observers.

The Phocaeans were bounded on the north by the little territories called Doris and Dryopis, which separated them from the Malians, on the north-east, east, and south-west, by the different branches of Locrians, and on the south-east, by the Boeotians. They touched the Euboean sea, (as has been mentioned) at Daphnus, the point where it approaches nearest to their chief town, Elateia; their territory also comprised most part of the lofty and bleak range of Parnassus, as far as its southerly termination, where a lower portion of it, called Kirphis, projects into the Corinthian gulf, between the two bays of Antikyra and Krissa; the latter, with its once fertile plain, lay immediately under the sacred rock of the Delphian Apollo. Both Delphi and Krissa originally belonged to the Phocaean race, but the sanctity of the temple, together with Lacedaemonian aid, enabled the Delphians to set up for themselves, disavowing their connection with the Phocaean brotherhood. Territorially speaking, the most valuable part of Phocis consisted is the valley of the river Kephisus, which takes its rise from Parnassus, not far from the Phocaean town of Lilaea, passes between Oeta and Knemis on one side, and Parnassus on the other, and enters Boeotia near Chaeronea, discharging itself into the lake Kopais. It was on the projecting mountain ledges and rocks on each side of this river, that the numerous little Phocaean towns were situated. Twenty-two of them were destroyed and broken up into villages by the Amphiktyonic order, after the second Sacred War; Abae (one of the few, if not the only one, that was spared) being protected by the sanctity of its temple and oracle. Of these cities, the most important was Elateia, situated on the left bank of the Kephisus, and on the road from Locris into Phocis, in the natural march of an army from Thermopylae into Boeotia. The Phocaean towns were embodied in an ancient confederacy, which held its periodical meetings at a temple between Daulis and Delphi.

The little territory called Doris and Dryopis, occupied the southern declivity of Mount Oeta, dividing Phocis on the north and north-west, from the Aetolians, Aenianes, and Malians. That which was called Doris in the historical times, and which reached, in the time of Herodotus, nearly as far eastward as the Maliac gulf, is said to have formed a part of what had been once called Dryopis; a territory which had comprised the summit of Oeta as far as the Spercheius, northward, and which had been inhabited by an old Hellenic tribe called Dryopes. The Dorians acquired their settlement in Dryopis by gift from Heracles, who, along with the Malians (so ran the legend), had expelled the Dryopes, and compelled them to find for themselves new seats at Hermione, and Asine, in the Argolic peninsula of Peloponnesus, at Styra and Karystus in Euboea, and in the island of Kythnus; it is only in these five last-mentioned places, that history recognizes them. The territory of Doris was distributed into four little townships, Pindus, or Akyphas, Boeon, Kytinion, and Erineon, each of which seems to have occupied a separate valley belonging to one of the feeders of the river Kephisus, the only narrow spaces of cultivated ground which this “small and sad” region presented. In itself, this tetrapolis is so insignificant, that we shall rarely find occasion to mention it; but it acquired a factitious consequence by being regarded as the metropolis of the great Dorian cities in Peloponnesus, and receiving on that ground special protection from Sparta. I do not here touch upon that string of ante-historical migrations —stated by Herodotus, and illustrated by the ingenuity as well as decorated by the fancy of O. Müller — through which the Dorians are affiliated with the patriarch of the Hellenic race,—moving originally out of Phthiotis to Histiaeotis, then to Pindus, and lastly to Doris. The residence of Dorians in Doris, is a fact which meets us at the commencement of history, like that of the Phocaeans and Locrians in their respective territories.


We next pass to the Aetolians, whose extreme tribes covered the bleak heights of Oeta and Korax, reaching almost within sight of the Maliac gulf, where they bordered on the Dorians and Malians, while their central and western tribes stretched along the frontier of the Ozolian Lokrians to the flat plain, abundant in marsh and lake, near the mouth of the Euenus. In the time of Herodotus and Thucydides, they do not seem to have extended so far westward as the Achelous; but in later times, this latter river, throughout the greater part of its lower course, divided them from the Acarnanians : on the north, they touched upon the Dolopians, and upon a parallel of latitude nearly as far north as Ambracia. There were three great divisions of the Aetolian name,—the Apodoti, Ophioneis, and Eurytanes,—each of which was subdivided into several different village tribes. The northern and eastern portion of the territory consisted of very high mountain ranges, and even in the southern portion, the mountains Arakynthus, Kurion, Chalcis, Taphiassus, are found at no great distance from the sea; while the chief towns in Aetolia, Kalydon, Pleuron, Chalcis, seem to have been situated eastward of the Euenus, between the last-mentioned mountains and the sea. The first two towns have been greatly ennobled in legend, but are little named in history; while, on the contrary, Thermus, the chief town of the historical Aetolians, and the place where the aggregate meeting and festival of the Aetolian name, for the choice of a Pan-Aetolic general, was convoked, is not noticed by any one earlier than Ephorus. It was partly legendary renown, partly ethnical kindred (publicly acknowledged on both sides) with the Eleians in Peloponnesus, which authenticated the title of the Aetolians to rank as Hellens. But the great mass of the Apodoti, Eurytanes, and Ophioneis in the inland mountains, were so rude in their manners, and so unintelligible in their speech, (which, however, was not barbaric, but very bad Hellenic,) that this title might well seem disputable, — in point of fact it was disputed, in later times, when the Aetolian power and depredations had become obnoxious nearly to all Greece. And it is, probably, to this difference of manners between the Aetolians on the sea-coast and those in the interior, that we are to trace a geographical division mentioned by Strabo, into ancient Aetolia, and Aetolia Epiktetus, or acquired. When or by whom this division was introduced, we do not know. It cannot be founded upon any conquest, for the inland Aetolians were the most unconquerable of mankind : and the affirmation which Ephorus applied to the whole Aetolian race, — that it had never been reduced to subjection by any one, — is, most of all, beyond dispute concerning the inland portion of it.

Adjoining the Aetolians were the Acarnanians, the westernmost of extra-Peloponnesian Greeks. They extended to the Ionian sea, and seem, in the time of Thucydides, to have occupied both banks of the river Achelous, in the lower part of its course, though the left bank appears afterwards as belonging to the Aetolians, so that the river came to constitute the boundary, often disputed and decided by arms, between them. The principal Acarnanian towns, Stratus and Oeniadae, were both on the right bank; the latter on the marshy and overflowed land near its mouth. Near the Acarnanians, towards the gulf of Ambrakia, were found barbarian, or non-Hellenic nations, the Agraeans and the Amphilochians: in the midst of the latter, on the shores of the Ambracian gulf, the Greek colony, called Argos Amphilochicum, was established.

Of the five Hellenic subdivisions now enumerated, Locrians, Phocaeans, Dorians (of Doris), Aetolians, and Acarnanians (of whom Locrians, Phocaeans, and Aetolians are comprised in the Homeric catalogue), we have to say the same as of those north of Thermopylae: there is no information respecting them from the commencement of the historical period down to the Persian war. Even that important event brings into action only the Locrians of the Euboean sea, the Phocaeans, and the Dorians: we have to wait until near the Peloponnesian war, before we require information respecting the Ozolian Locrians, the Aetolians, and the Acarnanians. These last three were unquestionably the most backward members of the Hellenic aggregate. Though not absolutely without a central town, they lived dispersed in villages, retiring, when attacked, to inaccessible heights, perpetually armed and in readiness for aggression and plunder wherever they found an opportunity. Very different was the condition of the Locrians opposite Euboea, the Phocaeans, and the Dorians. These were all orderly town communities, small, indeed, and poor, but not less well administered than the average of Grecian townships, and perhaps exempt from those individual violences which so frequently troubled the Boeotian Thebes or the great cities of Thessaly. Timaeus affirmed (contrary, as it seems, to the supposition of Aristotle) that, in early times, there were no slaves either among the Locrians or Phocaeans, and that the work required to be done for proprietors was performed by poor freemen; a habit which is alleged to have been continued until the temporary prosperity of the second Sacred War, when the plunder of the Delphian temple so greatly enriched the Phocaean leaders. But this statement is too briefly given, and too imperfectly authenticated, to justify any inferences.

We find in the poet Alkman (about 610 BC), the Erysichaean, or Kalydonian shepherd, named as a type of rude rusticity,—the antithesis of Sardis, where the poet was born. And among the suitors who are represented as coming forward to claim the daughter of the Sicyonian Cleisthenes in marriage, there appears both the Thessalian Diaktorides from Krannon, a member of the Skopad family, — and the Aetolian Males, brother of that Titormus who in muscular strength surpassed all his contemporary Greeks, and who had seceded from mankind into the inmost recesses of Aetolia: this Aetolian seems to be set forth as a sort of antithesis to the delicate Smindyrides of Sybaris, the most luxurious of mankind. Herodotus introduces these characters into his dramatic picture of this memorable wedding.


Between Phocis and Locris on one side, and Attica (from which it is divided by the mountains Cithaeron and Parnes) on the other, we find the important territory called Boeotia, with its ten or twelve autonomous cities, forming a sort of confederacy under the presidency of Thebes, the most powerful among them. Even of this territory, destined during the second period of this history, to play a part so conspicuous and effective, we know nothing during the first two centuries after 776 BC. We first acquire some insight into it, on occasion of the disputes between Thebes and Plataea, about the year 520 BC. Orchomenus, on the north-west of the lake Kopais, forms throughout the historical times one of the cities of the Boeotian league, seemingly the second after Thebes. But I have already stated that the Orchomenian legends, the Catalogue, and other allusions in Homer, and the traces of past power and importance yet visible in the historical age, attest the early political existence of Orchomenus and its neighborhood apart from Boeotia. The Amphiktyony in which Orchomenus participated, at the holy island of Kalauria near the Argolic peninsula, seems to show that it must once have possessed a naval force and commerce, and that its territory must have touched the sea at Halae and the lower town of Larymna, near the southern frontier of Locris; this sea is separated by a very narrow space from the range of mountains which join Knemis and Ptoon, and which enclose on the east both the basin of Orchomenus, Aspleden, and Kopae, and the lake Kopais. The migration of the Boeotians out of Thessaly into Boeotia (which is represented as a consequence of the conquest of the former country by the Thesprotians) is commonly assigned as the compulsory force which Boeotized Orchomenus. By whatever cause, or at whatever time (whether before or after 776 BC) the transition may have been effected, we find Orchomenus completely Boeotian throughout the known historical age, yet still retaining its local Minyeian legends, and subject to the jealous rivalry of Thebes, as being the second city in the Boeotian league. The direct road from the passes of Phocis southward into Boeotia went through Chaeronea, leaving Lebadeia on the right, and Orchomenus on the left hand, and passed the south-western edge of the lake Kopais near the towns of Koroneia, Alalkomenae, Haliartus, all situated on the mountain Tilphossion, an outlying ridge connected with Helicon by the intervention of Mount Leibethrius. The Tilphossion was an important military post, commanding that narrow pass between the mountain and the lake which lay in the great road from Phokis to Thebes. The territory of this latter city occupied the greater part of central Boeotia, south of the lake Kopais; it comprehended Akraephia and Mount Ptoon, and probably touched the Euboean sea at the village of Salganeus south of Anthedon. South-west of Thebes, occupying the southern descent of lofty Helicon towards the inmost corner of the Corinthian gulf, and bordering on the southeastern extremity of Phocis with the Phocaean town of Bulis, stood the city of Thespiae. Southward of the Asopus, between that river and Mount Cithaeron, were Plataea and Tanagra; in the south-eastern corner of Boeotia stood Oropus, the frequent subject of contention between Thebes and Athens; and in the road between the Euboean Chalcis and Thebes, the town of Mykalessus.

From our first view of historical Boeotia downward, there appears a confederation which embraces the whole territory; and during the Peloponnesian war, the Thebans invoke “the ancient constitutional maxims of the Boeotians” as a justification of extreme rigor, as well as of treacherous breach of the peace, against the recusant Plataeans. Of this confederation, the greater cities were primary members, while the lesser were attached to one or other of them in a kind of dependent union. Neither the names nor the number of these primary members can be certainly known, there seem grounds for including Thebes, Orchomenus, Lebadeia, Koroneia, Haliartus, Kopae, Anthedem, Tanagra, Thesphe, and Plataea before its secession. Akraephia, with the neighboring Mount Ptoon and its oracle, Skolus, Glisas, and other places, were dependencies of Thebes: Chaeronea, Aspledon, Holmones, and Hyettus, of Orchomenus: Siphae, Leuctra, Keresus, and Thisbe, of Thespiae. Certain generals or magistrates, called Boeotarchs, were chosen annually to manage the common affairs of the confederation. At the time of the battle of Delium in the Peloponnesian war, they were eleven in number, two of them from Thebes; but whether this number was always maintained, or in what proportions the choice was made by the different cities, we find no distinct information. There were likewise, during the Peloponnesian war, four different senates, with whom the Boeotarchs consulted on matters of importance; a curious arrangement, of which we have no explanation. Lastly, there was the general concilium and religious festival, the Pamboeotia, held periodically at Kortineia. Such were the forms, as far as we can make them out, of the Boeotian confederacy; each of the separate cities possessing its own senate and constitution, and having its political consciousness as an autonomous unit, yet with a certain habitual deference to the federal obligations. Substantially, the affairs of the confederation will be found in the hands of Thebes, managed in the interests of Theban ascendency, which appears to have been sustained by no other feeling except respect for superior force and bravery. The discontents of the minor Boeotian towns, harshly repressed and punished, form an uninviting chapter in Grecian history.


One piece of information we find, respecting Thebes singly and apart from the other Boeotian towns anterior to the year 700 BC. Though brief and incompletely recorded, it is yet highly valuable, as one of the first incidents of solid and positive Grecian history. Diokles, the Corinthian, stands enrolled as Olympic victor in the 13th Olympiad, or 728 BC, at a time when the oligarchy called Bacchiadae possessed the government of Corinth. The beauty of his person attracted towards him the attachment of Philolaus, one of the members of this oligarchical body,—a sentiment which Grecian manners did not proscribe; but it also provoked an incestuous passion on the part of his own mother, Halcyone, from which Diokles shrunk with hatred and horror. He abandoned forever his native city and retired to Thebes, whither he was followed by Philolaus, and where both of them lived and died. Their tombs were yet shown in the time of Aristotle, close adjoining to each other, yet with an opposite frontage; that of Philolaus being so placed that the inmate could command a view of the lofty peak of his native city, while that of Diokles was so disposed as to block out all prospect of the hateful spot. That which preserves to us the memory of so remarkable an incident, is, the esteem entertained for Philolaus by the Thebans, a feeling so profound, that they invited him to make laws for them. We shall have occasion to point out one or two similar cases, in which Grecian cities invoked the aid of an intelligent stranger; and the practice became common, among the Italian republics in the Middle Ages, to nominate a person not belonging to their city either as podesta or as arbitrator in civil dissensions. It would have been highly interesting to know, at length, what laws Philolaus made for the Thebans; but Aristotle, with his usual conciseness, merely alludes to his regulations respecting the adoption of children and respecting the multiplication of offspring in each separate family. His laws were framed with the view to maintain the original number of lots of land, without either subdivision or consolidation; but by what means the purpose was to be fulfilled we are not informed. There existed a law at Thebes, which perhaps may have been part of the scheme of Philolaus, prohibiting exposure of children, and empowering a father, under the pressure of extreme poverty, to bring his newborn infant to the magistrates, who sold it for a price to any citizen-purchaser, taking from him the obligation to bring it up, but allowing him in return, to consider the adult as his slave. From these brief allusions, coming to us without accompanying illustration, we can draw no other inference, except that the great problem of population, the relation between the well-being of the citizens and their more or less rapid increase in numbers, had engaged the serious attention even of the earliest Grecian legislators. We may, however, observe that the old Corinthian legislator, Pheidon, (whose precise date cannot be fixed) is stated by Aristotle to have contemplated much the same object as that which is ascribed to Philolaus at Thebes; an unchangeable number both of citizens and of lots of land, without any attempt to alter the unequal ratio of the lots, one to the other.






WE now pass from the northern members to the heart and head of Greece, — Peloponnesus and Attica, taking the former first in order, and giving as much as can be ascertained respecting its early historical phenomena.

The traveller who entered Peloponnesus from Boeotia during the youthful days of Herodotus and Thucydides, found an array of powerful Doric cities conterminous to each other, and beginning at the isthmus of Corinth. First came Megara, stretching across the isthmus from sea to sea, and occupying the high and rugged mountain-ridge called Geraneia; next Corinth, with its strong and conspicuous acropolis, and its territory including Mount Oneion as well as the portion of the isthmus at once most level and narrowest, which divided its two harbors called Lechaeum and Kenchreae. Westward of Corinth, along the Corinthian gulf, stood Sicyon, with a plain of uncommon fertility, between the two towns: southward of Sicyon and Corinth were Phlius and Kleonae, both conterminous, as well as Corinth, with Argos and the Argolis peninsula. The inmost bend of the Argolic gulf, including a considerable space of flat and marshy ground adjoining to the sea, was possessed by Argos; the Argolis peninsula was divided by Argos with the Doric cities of Epidaurus and Troezen, and the Dryopian city of Hermione, the latter possessing the south-western corner. Proceeding southward along the Western coast of the gulf, and passing over the little river called Tanos, the traveller found himself in the dominion of Sparta, which comprised the entire southern region of the peninsula from its eastern to its western sea, where the river Neda flows into the latter. He first passed from Argos across the difficult mountain range called Parnon (which bounds to the west the southern portion of Argolis), until he found himself in the valley of the river Oenus, which he followed until it joined the Eurotas. In the larger valley of the Eurotas, far removed from the sea, and accessible only through the most impracticable mountain roads, lay the five unwalled, unadorned, adjoining villages, which bore collectively the formidable name of Sparta. The whole valley of the Eurotas, from Skiritis and Beleminatis at the border of Arcadia, to the Laconian gulf; — expanding in several parts into fertile plain, especially near to its mouth, where the towns of Gythium and Helos were found,— belonged to Sparta; together with the cold and high mountain range to the eastward, which projects into the promontory of Malea,—and the still loftier chain of Taygetus to the westward, which ends in the promontory of Taenarus. On the other side of Taygetus, on the banks of the river Pamisus, which there flows into the Messenian gulf, lay the plain of Messene, the richest land in the peninsula. This plain had once yielded its ample produce to the free Messenians Dorians, resident in the towns of Stenyklerus and Andania. But in the time of which we speak, the name of Messenians was borne only by a body of brave but homeless exiles, whose restoration to the land of their forefathers over passed even the exile's proverbially sanguine hope. Their land was confounded with the western portion of Laconia, which reached in a south-westerly direction down to the extreme point of Cape Akritas, and northward as far as the river Neda.

Throughout his whole journey to the point last mentioned, from the borders of Boeotia and Megaris, the traveller would only step from one Dorian state into another. But on crossing from the south to the north bank of the river Neda, at a point near to its mouth, he would find himself out of Doric land altogether : first, in the territory called Triphylia, —next, in that of Pisa, or the Pisatid,— thirdly, in the more spacious and powerful state called Elis; these three comprising the coast-land of Peloponnesus from the mouth of the Neda to that of the Larissus. The Triphylians, distributed into a number of small townships, the largest of which was Lepreon,—and the Pisatans, equally destitute of any centralizing city,—had both, at the period of which we are now speaking, been conquered by their more powerful northern neighbors of Elis, who enjoyed the advantage of a spacious territory united under one government; the middle portion, called the Hollow Elis, being for the most part fertile, though the tracts near the sea were more sandy and barren. The Eleians were a section of Aetolian emigrants into Peloponnesus, but the Pisatans and Triphylians had both been originally independent inhabitants of the peninsula,—the latter being affirmed to belong to the same race as the Minyae who had occupied the ante-Boeotian Orchomenus : both, too, bore the ascendency of Elis with perpetual murmur and occasional resistance.

Crossing the river Larissus, and pursuing the northern coast of Peloponnesus south of the Corinthian gulf, the traveller would pass into Achaia,— a name which designated the narrow strip of level land, and the projecting spurs and declivities, between that gulf and the northernmost mountains of the peninsula,—Skollis, Erymanthus, Aroania, Krathis, and the towering eminence called Kyllene. Achaean cities,—twelve in number at least, if not more,—divided this long strip of land amongst them, from the mouth of the Larissus and the north-western Cape Araxus on one side, to the western boundary of the Sicyonian territory on the other. According to the accounts of the ancient legends and the belief of Herodotus, this territory had once been occupied by Ionian inhabitants whom the Achaeans had expelled.

In making this journey, the traveller would have finished the circuit of Peloponnesus; but he would still have left untrodden the great central region, enclosed between the territories just enumerated,—approaching nearest to the sea on the borders of Triphylia, but never touching it anywhere. This region was Arcadia, possessed by inhabitants who are uniformly represented as all of one race, and all aboriginal. It was high and bleak, full of wild mountain, rock, and forest, and abounding, to a degree unusual even in Greece, with those land-locked basins from whence the water finds only a subterraneous issue. It was distributed among a large number of distinct villages and cities. Many of the village tribes,—the Maenalii, Parrhasii, Azanes, etc., occupying the central and the western regions, were numbered among the rudest of the Greeks : but along its eastern frontier there were several Arcadian cities which ranked deservedly among the more civilized Peloponnesians. Tegea, Mantineia, Orchomenus, Stymphalus, Pheneus, possessed the whole eastern frontier of Arcadia from the borders of Laconia to those of Sicyon and Pellene in Achaia: Phigaleia at the south western corner, near the borders of Triphylia, and Heraea, on the north bank of the Alpheius, near the place where that river quits Arcadia to enter the Pisatis, were also towns deserving of notice. Towards the north of this cold and thinly-peopled region, near Pheneos, was situated the small town of Nonakris, adjoining to which rose the hardly accessible crags where the rivulet of Styx flowed down : a point of common feeling for all Arcadians, from the terrific sanction which this water was understood to impart to their oaths.

The distribution of Peloponnesus here sketched, suitable to the Persian invasion and the succeeding half century, may also be said (with some allowances) to be adapted to the whole interval between about BC 550-370; from the time of the conquest of Thyreatis by Sparta to the battle of Leuctra. But it is not the earliest distribution which history presents to us. Not presuming to criticize the Homeric map of Peloponnesus, and going back only to 776 BC, we find this material difference, — that Sparta occupies only a very small fraction of the large territory above described as belonging to her. Westward of the summit of Mount Taygetus are found another section of Dorians, independent of Sparta: the Messenian Dorians, whose city is on the bill of Stenyklerus, near the south-western boundary of Arcadia, and whose possessions cover the fertile plain of Messene along the river Pamisus to its mouth in the Messenian gulf: it is to be noted that Messene was then the name of the plain generally, and that no town so called existed until after the battle of Leuctra. Again, eastward of the valley of the Eurotas, the mountainous region and the western shores of the Argolic gulf down to Cape Malea are also independent of Sparta; belonging to Argos, or rather to Dorian towns in unison with Argos. All the great Dorian towns, from the borders of the Megarid to the eastern frontier of Arcadia, as above enumerated, appear to have existed in 776 BC; Achaia was in the same condition, so far as we are able to judge, as well as Arcadia, except in regard to its southern frontier, conterminous with Sparta, of which more will hereafter be said. In respect to the western portion of Peloponnesus, Elis (properly so called) appears to have embraced the same territory in 776 BC as in 550 BC : but the Pisatid had been recently conquered, and was yet imperfectly subjected by the Eleians; while Triphylia seems to have been quite independent of them. Respecting the south-western promontory of Peloponnesus down to Cape Akritas, we are altogether without information : reasons will hereafter be given for believing that it did not at that time form part of the territory of the Messenian Dorians.

Of the different races or people whom Herodotus knew in Peloponnesus, he believed three to be aboriginal,—the Arcadians, the Achaeans, and the Kynurians. The Achaeans, though belonging indigenously to the peninsula, had yet removed from the southern portion of it to the northern, expelling the previous Ionian tenants : this is a part of the legend respecting the Dorian conquest, or Return of the Herakleids, and we can neither verify nor contradict it. But neither the Arcadians nor the Kynurians had ever changed their abodes. Of the latter, I have not before spoken, because they were never (so far as history knows them) an independent population. They occupied the larger portion of the territory of Argolis, from Orneae, near the northern or Phliasian border, to Thyrea and the Thyreatis, on the Laconian border : and though belonging originally (as Herodotus imagines rather than asserts) to the Ionic race — they had been so long subjects of Argos in his time, that almost all evidence of their ante-Dorian condition had vanished.

But the great Dorian states in Peloponnesus—the capital powers in the peninsula—were all originally emigrants, according to the belief not only of Herodotus, but of all the Grecian world : so also were the Aetolians of Elis, the Triphylians, and the Dryopes at Hermione and Asine. All these emigrations are so described as to give them a root in the Grecian legendary world : the Triphylians are traced back to Lemnos, as the offspring of the Argonautic heroes, and we are too uninformed about them to venture upon any historical guesses. But respecting the Dorians, it may perhaps be possible, by examining the first historical situation in which they are presented to us, to offer some conjectures as to the probable circumstances under which they arrived. The legendary narrative of it has already been given in the first chapter of this volume, — that great mythical event called the Return of the Children of Heracles, by which the first establishment of the Dorians in the promised land of Peloponnesus was explained to the full satisfaction of Grecian faith. One single armament and expedition, acting by the special direction of the Delphian god, and conducted by three brothers, lineal descendants of the principal Achaeo-Dorian heroes through Hyllus, (the eponymous of the principal tribe) — the national heroes of the preexisting population vanquished and expelled, and the greater part of the peninsula both acquired and partitioned at a stroke,— the circumstances of the partition adjusted to the historical relations of Laconia and Messenia, — the friendly power of Aetolian Elis, with its Olympic games as the bond of union in Peloponnesus, attached to this event as an appendage, in the person of Oxylus,—all these particulars compose a narrative well calculated to impress the retrospective imagination of a Greek. They exhibit an epical fitness and sufficiency which it would be unseasonable to impair by historical criticism.

The Alexandrine chronology sets down a period of 328 years from the Return of the Herakleids to the first Olympiad (1104 BC-776 BC), — a period measured by the lists of the kings of Sparta, on the trustworthiness of which some remarks have already been offered. Of these 328 years, the first 250, at the least, are altogether barren of facts; and even if we admitted them to be historical, we should have nothing to recount except a succession of royal names. Being unable either to guarantee the entire list, or to discover any valid test for discriminating the historical and the non-historical items, I here enumerate the Lacedaemonian kings as they appear in Mr. Clinton’s Fasti Hellenici. There were two joint kings at Sparta, throughout nearly all the historical time of independent Greece, deducing their descent from Heracles through Eurysthenes and Prokles, the twin sons of Aristodemus; the latter being one of those three Herakleid brothers to whom the conquest of the peninsula is ascribed : —



Line of Eurysthenes.
Line of Prokles
Eurysthenes reigned 42 years Prokles reigned 51 year
Agis 31 Sous
Echestratus 35 Eurypon
Labotas 37 Prytanis 49
Doryssus 29 Eunomus 45
Agesilaus 44 Charilaus 60
Archelaus 60 Nikander 38
Teleklus 40 Theopompus 10
Alkamenes 10


Both Theopompus and Alkamenes reigned considerably longer, but the chronologists affirm that the year 776 BC (or the first Olympiad) occurred in the tenth year of each of their reigns. It is necessary to add, with regard to this list, that there are some material discrepancies between different authors even as to the names of individual kings, and still more as to the duration of their reigns, as may be seen both in Mr. Clinton's chronology and in Müller's Appendix to the History of the Dorians. The alleged sum total cannot be made to agree with the items without great license of conjecture. O. Müller observes, in reference to this Alexandrine chronology, "that our materials only enable us to restore it to its original state, not to verify its correctness". In point of fact they are insufficient even for the former purpose, as the dissensions among learned critics attest.

We have a succession of names, still more barren of facts, in the case of the Dorian sovereigns of Corinth. This city had its own line of Herakleids, descended from Heracles, but not through Hyllus. Hippotes, the progenitor of the Corinthian Herakleids, was reported in the legend to have originally joined the Dorian invaders of the Peloponnesus, but to have quitted them in consequence of having slain the prophet Karnus. The three brothers, when they became masters of the peninsula, sent for Aletes, the son of Hippotes, and placed him in possession of Corinth, over which the chronologists make him begin to reign thirty years after the Herakleid conquest. His successors are thus given -

Aletes ..... reigned 38 years

Ixion .................... 38

Agelas.................. 37


Bacchis .............. 35

Agelas................. 30

Euclemus........... 25

Aristomedes ..... 35

Agemon ............ 16

Alexander ........ 25

Telestes ........... 12

Antomenes ...... 1


Total =............ 327

Such was the celebrity of Bacchis, we are told, that those who succeeded him took the name of Bacchiads in place of Aletiads or Herakleids. One year after the accession of Automenes, the family of the Bacchiads generally, amounting to 200 persons, determined to abolish royalty, to constitute themselves a standing oligarchy, and to elect out of their own number an annual Prytanis. Thus commenced the oligarchy of the Bacchiads, which lasted for ninety years, until it was subverted by Kypselus in 657 BC. Reckoning the thirty years previous to the beginning of the reign of Aletes, the chronologists thus provide an interval of 447 years between the Return of the Herakleids and the accession of Kypselus, and 357 years between the same period and the commencement of the Bacchiad oligarchy. The Bacchiad oligarchy is unquestionably historical; the conquest of the Herakleids belongs to the legendary world; while the interval between the two is filled up, as in so many other cases, by a mere barren genealogy.

When we jump this vacant space, and place ourselves at the first opening of history, we find that, although ultimately Sparta came to hold the first place, not only in Peloponnesus, but in all Hellas, this was not the case at the earliest moment of which we have historical cognizance. Argos, and the neighboring towns connected with her by a bond of semi-religious, semi-political union,—Sicyon, Phlius, Epidaurus, and Troezen,— were at first of greater power and consideration than Sparta; a fact which the legend of the Herakleids seems to recognize by making Temenus the eldest brother of the three. And Herodotus assures us that at one time all the eastern coast of Peloponnesus down to Cape Melea, including the island of Cythera, all which came afterwards to constitute a material part of Laconia, had belonged to Argos. Down to the time of the first Messenian war, the comparative importance of the Dorian establishments in Peloponnesus appears to have been in the order in which the legend placed them, — Argos first, Sparta second, Messene third. It will be seen hereafter that the Argeians never lost the recollection of this early preeminence, from which the growth of Sparta had extruded them; and the liberties of entire Hellas were more than once in danger from their disastrous jealousy of a more fortunate competitor.

At a short distance of about three miles from Argos, and at the exact point where that city approaches nearest to the sea, was situated the isolated hillock called Temenion, noticed both by Strabo and Pausanias. It was a small village, deriving both its name and its celebrity from the chapel and tomb of the hero Temenus, who was there worshipped by the Dorians; and the statement which Pausanias heard was, that Temenus, with his invading Dorians, had seized and fortified the spot, and employed it as an armed post to make war upon Tisamenus and the Achaeans. What renders this report deserving of the greater attention, is, that the same thing is affirmed with regard to the eminence called Solygeius, near Corinth : this too was believed to be the place which the Dorian assailants had occupied and fortified against the preexisting Corinthians in the city. Situated close upon the Saronic gulf, it was the spot which invaders landing from that gulf would naturally seize upon, and which Nikias with his powerful Athenian fleet did actually seize and occupy against Corinth in the Peloponnesian war. In early days, the only way of overpowering the inhabitants of a fortified town, generally also planted in a position itself very defensible, was, — that the invaders, entrenching themselves in the neighborhood, harassed the inhabitants and ruined their produce until they brought them to terms. Even during the Peloponnesian war, when the art of besieging had made some progress, we read of several instances in which this mode of aggressive warfare was adopted with efficient results. We may readily believe that the Dorians obtained admittance both into Argos and Corinth in this manner. And it is remarkable that, except Sicyon (which is affirmed to have been surprised by night), these were the only towns in the Argolic region which are said to have resisted them; the story being, that Phlius, Epidaurus, and Troezen had admitted the Dorian intruders without opposition, although a certain portion of the previous inhabitants seceded. We shall hereafter see that the non-Dorian population of Sicyon and Corinth still remained considerable.

The separate statements which we thus find, and the position of the Temenion and the Solygeius, lead to two conjectures, first, that the acquisitions of the Dorians in Peloponnesus were also isolated and gradual, not at all conformable to the rapid strides of the old Herakleid legend; next, that the Dorian invaders of Argos and Corinth made their attack from the Argolic and the Saronic gulfs, — by sea and not by land. It is, indeed, difficult to see how they can have got to the Temenion in any other way than by sea; and a glance at the map will show that the eminence Solygeius presents itself, with reference to Corinth, as the nearest and most convenient holding-ground for a maritime invader, conformably to the scheme of operations laid by Nikias. To illustrate the supposition of a Dorian attack by sea on Corinth, we may refer to a story quoted from Aristotle (which we find embodied in the explanation of an old adage), representing Hippotes the father of Aletes as having crossed the Maliac gulf (the sea immediately bordering on the ancient Maleans, Dryopians, and Dorians) in ships, for the purpose of colonizing. And if it be safe to trust the mention of Dorians in the Odyssey, as a part of the population of the island of Crete, we there have an example of Dorian settlements which must have been effected by sea, and that too at a very early period. “We must suppose (observes O. Müller, in reference to these Kretan Dorians) that the Dorians, pressed by want or restless from inactivity, constructed piratical canoes, manned these frail and narrow barks with soldiers who themselves worked at the oar, and thus being changed from mountaineers into seamen, — the Normans of Greece, — set sail for the distant island of Crete”. In the same manner, we may conceive the expeditions of the Dorians against Argos and Corinth to have been effected; and whatever difficulties may attach to this hypothesis, certain it is that the difficulties of a long land-march, along such a territory as Greece, are still more serious.

The supposition of Dorian emigrations by sea, from the Maliac gulf to the north-eastern promontory of Peloponnesus, is farther borne out by the analogy of the Dryopes, or Dryopians. During the historical times, this people occupied several detached settlements in various parts of Greece, all maritime, and some insular;— they were found at Hermione, Asine, and Eion, in the Argolic peninsula (very near to the important Dorian towns constituting the Amphiktyony of Argos)—at Styra and Karystus in the island of Euboea,—in the island of Kythnus, and even at Cyprus. These dispersed colonies can only have been planted by expeditions over the sea. Now we are told that the original Dryopis, the native country of this people, comprehended both the territory near the river Spercheius, and north of Oeta, afterwards occupied by the Malians, as well as the neighboring district south of Oeta, which was afterwards called Doris. From hence the Dryopians were expelled, — according to one story, by the Dorians,— according to another, by Heracles and the Malians : however this may be, it was from the Maliac gulf that they started on shipboard in quest of new homes, which some of them found on the headlands of the Argolic peninsula. And it was from this very country, according to Herodotus, that the Dorians also set forth, in order to reach Peloponnesus. Nor does it seem unreasonable to imagine, that the same means of conveyance, which bore the Dryopians from the Maliac gulf to Hermione and Asine, also carried the Dorians from the same place to the Temenion, and the hill Solygeius.

The legend represents Sikyon, Epidaurus, Troezen, Phlius, and Kleonae, as all occupied by Dorian colonists from Argos, under the different sons of Temenus : the first three are on the sea, and fit places for the occupation of maritime invaders. Argos and the Dorian towns in and near the Argolic peninsula are to be regarded as a cluster of settlements by themselves, completely distinct from Sparta and the Messenian Stenyklerus, which appear to have been formed under totally different conditions. First, both of them are very far inland, — Stenyklerus not easy, Sparta very difficult of access from the sea; next, we know that the conquests of Sparta were gradually made down the valley of the Eurotas seaward. Both these acquisitions present the appearance of having been made from the land-side, and perhaps in the direction which the Herakleid legend describes, by warriors entering Peloponnesus across the narrow mouth of the Corinthian gulf, through the aid or invitation of those Aetolian settlers who at the same time colonized Elis. The early and intimate connection (on which I shall touch presently) between Sparta and the Olympic games as administered by the Eleians, as well as the leading part ascribed to Lycurgus in the constitution of the solemn Olympic truce, tend to strengthen such a persuasion.

In considering the early affairs of the Dorians in Peloponnesus, we are apt to have our minds biased, first, by the Herakleid legend, which imparts to them an impressive, but deceitful, epical unity; next, by the aspect of the later and better-known history, which presents the Spartan power as unquestionably preponderant, and Argos only as second by a long interval. But the first view (as I have already remarked) which opens to us, of real Grecian history, a little before 776 BC, exhibits Argos with its alliance or confederacy of neighboring cities colonized from itself, as the great seat of Dorian power in the peninsula, and Sparta as an outlying state of inferior consequence. The recollection of this state of things lasted after it had ceased to be a reality, and kept alive pretensions on the part of Argos to the headship of the Greeks as a matter of right, which she became quite incapable of sustaining either by adequate power or by statesmanlike sagacity. The growth of Spartan power was a succession of encroachments upon Argos.

How Sparta came constantly to gain upon Argos will be matter for future explanation : at present, it is sufficient to remark, that the ascendency of Argos was derived not exclusively from her own territory, but came in part from her position as metropolis of an alliance of autonomous neighboring cities, all Dorian and all colonized from herself,—and this was an element of power essentially fluctuating. What Thebes was to the cities of Boeotia, of which she either was, or professed to have been, the founder, the same was Argos in reference to Kleonae, Phlius, Sikyon, Epidaurus, Troezen, and Aegina. These towns formed, in mythical language, “the lot of Temenus”,—in real matter of fact, the confederated allies or subordinates of Argos the first four of them were said to have been Dorized by the sons or immediate relatives of Temenus; and the kings of Argos, as acknowledged descendants of the latter, claimed and exercised a sort of suzeraineté over them. Hermione, Asine, and Nauplia seem also to have been under the supremacy of Argos, though not colonies. But this supremacy was not claimed directly and nakedly : agreeably to the ideas of the time, the ostensible purposes of the Argeian confederacy or Amphiktyony were religious, though its secondary and not less real effects, were political. The great patron-god of the league was Apollo Pythaeus, in whose name the obligations incumbent on the members of the league were imposed. While in each of the confederated cities there was a temple to this god, his most holy and central sanctuary was on the Larissa or acropolis of Argos. At this central Argeian sanctuary, solemn sacrifices were offered by Epidaurus as well as by other members of the confederacy, and, as it should seem, accompanied by moneypayments,—which the Argeians, as chief administrators on behalf of the common god, took upon them to enforce against defaulters, and actually tried to enforce during the Peloponnesian war against Epidaurus. On another occasion, during the 66th Olympiad (BC 514), they imposed the large fine of 500 talents upon each of the two states Sikyon and Aegina, for having lent ships to the Spartan king Kleomenes, wherewith he invaded the Argeian territory. The Aeginetans set the claim at defiance, but the Sicyonians acknowledged its justice, and only demurred to its amount, professing themselves ready to pay 100 talents. There can be no doubt that, at this later period, the ascendency of Argos over the members of her primitive confederacy had become practically inoperative; but the tenor of the cases mentioned shows that her claims were revivals of bygone privileges, which had once been effective and valuable.

How valuable the privileges of Argos were, before the great rise of the Spartan power, — how important an ascendency they conferred, in the hands of an energetic man, and how easily they admitted of being used in furtherance of ambitious views, is shown by the remarkable case of Pheidon, the Temenid. The few facts which we learn respecting this prince exhibit to us, for the first time, something like a real position of parties in the Peloponnesus, wherein the actual conflict of living historical men and cities, comes out in tolerable distinctness.

Pheidon was designated by Ephorus as the tenth, and by Theopompus as the sixth, in lineal descent from Temenus. Respecting the date of his existence, opinions the most discrepant and irreconcilable have been delivered; but there seems good reason for referring him to the period a little before and a little after the 8th Olympiad, — between 770 BC. and 730 BC. Of the preceding kings of Argos we hear little: one of them, Eratus, is said to have expelled the Dryopian inhabitants of Asine from their town on the Argolic peninsula, in consequence of their having cooperated with the Spartan king, Nikander, when he invaded the Argeian territory, seemingly during the generation preceding Pheidon; there is another, Damokratidas, whose date cannot be positively determined, but he appears rather as subsequent than as anterior to Pheidon. We are informed, however, that these anterior kings, even beginning with Medon, the grandson of Temenus, had been forced to submit to great abridgment of their power and privileges, and that a form of government substantially popular, though nominally regal, had been established.3Pheidon, breaking through the limits imposed, made himself despot of Argos. He then reestablished the power of Argos over all the cities of her confederacy, which had before been so nearly dissolved as to leave all the members practically independent. Next, he is said to have acquired dominion over Corinth, and to have endeavored to assure it, by treacherously entrapping a thousand of her warlike citizens; but his artifice was divulged and frustrated by Abron, one of his confidential friends. He is farther reported to have aimed at extending his sway over the greater part of Peloponnesus, — laying claim, as the descendant of Heracles, through the eldest son of Hyllus, to all the cities which that restless and irresistible hero had ever taken. According to Grecian ideas, this legendary title was always seriously construed, and often admitted as conclusive; though of course, where there were strong opposing interests, reasons would be found to elude it. Pheidon would have the same ground of right as that which, two hundred and fifty years afterwards, determined the Herakleid Dorieus, brother of Cleomenes king of Sparta, to acquire for himself the territory near Mount Eryx in Sicily, because his progenitor, Heracles, had conquered it before him. So numerous, however, were the legends respecting the conquests of Heracles, that the claim of Pheidon must have covered the greater part of Peloponnesus, except Sparta and the plain of Messene, which were already in the hands of Herakleids.

Nor was the ambition of Pheidon satisfied even with these large pretensions. He farther claimed the right of presiding at the celebration of those religious games, or Agones, which had been instituted by Herakles, —and among these was numbered the Olympic Agon, then, however, enjoying but a slender fraction of the lustre which afterwards came to attach to it. The presidency of any of the more celebrated festivals current throughout Greece, was a privilege immensely prized. It was at once dignified and lucrative, and the course of our history will present more than one example in which blood was shed to determine what state should enjoy it. Phedon marched to Olympia, at the epoch of the 8th recorded Olympiad, or 747 BC; on the occasion of which event we are made acquainted with the real state of parties in the peninsula.

The plain of Olympia,—now ennobled only by immortal recollections, but once crowded with all the decorations of religion and art, and forming for many centuries the brightest centre of attraction known in the ancient world,—was situated on the river Alpheius, in the territory called the Pisatid, hard by the borders of Arcadia. At what time its agonistic festival, recurring every fifth year, at the first full moon after the summer solstice, first began or first acquired its character of special sanctity, we have no means of determining. As with so many of the native waters of Greece, — we follow the stream upward to a certain point, but the fountain-head, and the earlier flow of history, is buried under mountains of unsearchable legend. The first celebration of the Olympic contests was ascribed by Grecian legendary faith to Heracles,— and the site of the place, in the middle of the Pisatid, with its eight small townships, is quite sufficient to prove that the inhabitants of that little territory were warranted in describing themselves as the original administrators of the ceremony. But this state of things seems to have been altered by the Aetolian settlement in Elis, which is represented as having been conducted by Oxylus and identified with the Return of the Herakleids. The Aetolo-Eleians, bordering upon the Pisatid to the north, employed their superior power in subduing their weaker neighbors, who thus lost their autonomy and became annexed to the territory of Elis. It was the general rule throughout Greece, that a victorious state undertook to performs the current services of the conquered people towards the gods, such services being conceived as attaching to the soil : hence, the celebration of the Olympic games became numbered among the incumbencies of Elis, just in the same way as the worship of the Eleusinian Demeter, when Eleusis lost its autonomy, was included among the religious obligations of Athens. The Pisatans, however, never willingly acquiesced in this absorption of what had once been their separate privilege; they long maintained their conviction, that the celebration of the games was their right, and strove on several occasions to regain it. On those occasions, the earliest, so far as we hear, was connected with the intervention of Pheidon. It was at their invitation that the king of Argos went to Olympia, and celebrated the games himself; in conjunction with the Pisatans, as the lineal successor of Heracles; while the Eleians, being thus forcibly dispossessed, refused to include the 8th Olympiad in their register of the victorious runners. But their humiliation did not last long, for the Spartans took their part, and the contest ended in the defeat of Pheidon. In the next Olympiad, the Eleian management and the regular enrolment appear as before, and the Spartans are even said to have confirmed Elis in her possession both of Pisatis and Triphylia.

Unfortunately, these scanty particulars are all which we learn respecting the armed conflict at the 8th Olympiad, in which the religious and the political grounds of quarrel are so intimately blended, —as we shall find to be often the case in Grecian history. But there is one act of Pheidon yet more memorable, of which also nothing beyond a meagre notice has come down to us. He first coined both copper and silver money in Aegina, and first established a scale of weights and measures, which, through his influence, became adopted throughout Peloponnesus, and acquired, ultimately, footing both in all the Dorian states, and in Boeotia, Thessaly, northern Hellas generally, and Macedonia, — under the name of the Aeginaean Scale. There arose subsequently another rival scale in Greece, called the Euboic, differing considerably from the Aeginaean. We do not know at what time it was introduced, but it was employed both at Athens and in the Ionic cities generally, as well as in Euboea, — being modified at Athens, so far as money was concerned, by Solon's debasement of the coinage.

The copious and valuable information contained in M. Boeckh’s recent publication on Metrology, has thrown new light upon these monetary and statical scales. He has shown that both the Aeginaean and the Euboic scales — the former standing to the latter in the proportion of 6 : 5 —had contemporaneous currency in different parts of the Persian empire; the divisions and denominations of the scale being the same in both, 100 drachma: to a mina, and 60 mime to a talent. The Babylonian talent, mina, and drachma are identical with the Aeginaean : the word mina is of Asiatic origin; and it has now been rendered highly probable, that the scale circulated by Pheidon was borrowed immediately from the Phoenicians, and by them originally from the Babylonians. The Babylonian, Hebraic, Phoenician, Egyptian, and Grecian scales of weight (which were subsequently followed wherever coined money was introduced) are found to be so nearly conformable, as to warrant a belief that they are all deduced from one common origin; and that origin the Chaldean priesthood of Babylon. It is to Pheidon, and to his position as chief of the Argeian confederacy, that the Greeks owe the first introduction of the Babylonian scale of weight, and the first employment of coined and stamped money.

If we maturely weigh the few, but striking acts of Pheidon which have been preserved to us, and which there is no reason to discredit, we shall find ourselves introduced to an early historical state of Peloponnesus very different from that to which another century will bring us. That Argos, with the federative cities attached to her, was at this early time decidedly the commanding power in that peninsula, is sufficiently shown by the establishment and reception of the Pheidonian weights, measures, and monetary system,—while the other incidents mentioned completely harmonize with the same idea. Against the oppressions of Elis, the Pisatans invoked Pheidon, —partly as exercising a primacy in Peloponnesus, just as the inhabitants of Lepreum in Triphylia, three centuries afterwards, called in the aid of Sparta for the same object, at a time when Sparta possessed the headship,—and partly as the lineal representative of Heracles, who had founded those games from the management of which they had been unjustly extruded. On the other hand, Sparta appears as a second-rate power. The Aeginaean scale of weight and measure was adopted there as elsewhere—the Messenian Dorians were still equal and independent, — and we find Sparta interfering to assist Elis by virtue of an obligation growing (so the legend represents it) out of the common Aetolo-Dorian emigration; not at all from any acknowledged primacy, such as we shall see her enjoying hereafter. The first coinage of copper and silver money is a capital event in Grecian history, and must be held to imply considerable commerce as well as those extensive views which belong only to a conspicuous and leading position. The ambition of Pheidon to resume all the acquisitions made by his ancestor Heracles, suggests the same large estimate of his actual power. He is characterized as a despot, and even as the most insolent of all despots : how far he deserved such a reputation, we have no means of judging. We may remark, however, that he lived before the age of despots or tyrants, properly so called, and before the Herakleid lineage had yet lost its primary, half-political, half-religious character. Moreover, the later historians have invested his actions with a color of exorbitant aggression, by applying them to a state of things which belonged to their time and not to his. Thus Ephorus represents him as having deprived the Lacedaemonians of the headship of Peloponnesus, which they never possessed until long after him, — and also as setting at naught the sworn inviolability of the territory of the Eleians, enjoyed by the latter as celebrators of the Olympic games; whereas the Agonothesia, or right of superintendence claimed by Elis, had not at that time acquired the sanction of prescription, —while the conquest of Pisa by the Eleians themselves had proved that this sacred function did not protect the territory of a weaker people.

How Pheidon fell, and how the Argeians lost that supremacy which they once evidently possessed, we have no positive details to inform us : with respect to the latter point, however, we can discern a sufficient explanation. The Argeians stood predominant as an entire and unanimous confederacy, which required a vigorous and able hand to render its internal organization effective or its ascendency respected without. No such leader afterwards appeared at Argos, the whole history of which city is destitute of eminent individuals : her line of kings continued at least down to the Persian war, but seemingly with only titular functions, for the government had long been decidedly popular. The statements, which represent the government as popular anterior to the time of Pheidon, appear unworthy of trust. That prince is rather to be taken as wielding the old, undiminished prerogatives of the Herakleid kings, but wielding them with unusual effect,—enforcing relaxed privileges, and appealing to the old heroic sentiment in reference to Heracles, rather than revolutionizing the existing relations either of Argos or of Peloponnesus. It was in fact the great and steady growth of Sparta, for three centuries after the Lycurgean institutions, which operated as a cause of subversion to the previous order of command and obedience in Greece.


The assertion made by Herodotus,— that, in earlier times, the whole eastern coast of Laconia as far as Cape Malea, including the island of Cythera and several other islands, had belonged to Argos,— is referred by O. Müller to about the 50th Olympiad, or 580 BC. Perhaps it had ceased to be true at that period; but that it was true in the age of Pheidon, there seem good grounds for believing. What is probably meant is, that the Dorian towns on this coast, Prasiae, Zarex, Epidaurus Limera, and Boeae, were once autonomous, and members of the Argeian confederacy,—a fact highly probable, on independent evidence, with respect to Epidaurus Limera, inasmuch as that town was a settlement from Epidaurus in the Argolic peninsula: and Boeae too had its own oekist and eponymous, the Herakleid Boeus, noway connected with Sparta,— perhaps derived from the same source as the name of the town Boeon in Doris. The Argeian confederated towns would thus comprehend the whole coast of the Argolic and Saronic gulfs, from Cythera as far as Aegina, besides other islands which we do not know : Aegina had received a colony of Dorians from Argos and Epidaurus, upon which latter town it continued for some time in a state of dependence. It will at once be seen that this extent of coast implies a considerable degree of commerce and maritime activity. We have besides to consider the range of Doric colonies in the southern islands of the Aegean and in the south-western corner of Asia Minor,—Crete, Kos, Rhodes (with its three distinct cities), Halicarnassus, Knidus, Myndus, Nisyrus, Syme, Karpathos, Kalydna, etc. Of the Doric establishments here named, several are connected (as has been before stated) with the great emigration of the Temenid Althaemenes from Argos : but what we particularly observe is, that they are often referred as colonies promiscuously to Argos, Troezen, Epidauras — more frequently however, as it seems, to Argos. All these settlements are doubtless older than Pheidon, and we may conceive them as proceeding conjointly from the allied Dorian towns in the Argolic peninsula, at a time when they were more in the habit of united action than they afterwards became : a captain of emigrants selected from the line of Heracles and Temenus was suitable to the feelings of all of them. We may thus look back to a period, at the very beginning of the Olympiads, when the maritime Dorians on the east of Peloponnesus maintained a considerable intercourse and commerce, not only among themselves, but also with their settlements on the Asiatic coast and islands. That the Argolic peninsula formed an early centre for maritime rendezvous, we may farther infer from the very ancient Amphiktyony of the seven cities (Hermione, Epidaurus, Aegina, Athens, Prasiae, Nauplia, and the Minyeian Orchomenus), on the holy island of Kalauria, off the harbor of Troezen.

The view here given of the early ascendency of Argos, as the head of the Peloponnesian Dorians and the metropolis of the Asiatic Dorians, enables us to understand the capital innovation of Pheidon, —the first coinage, and the first determinate scale of weight and measure, known in Greece. Of the value of such improvements, in the history of Grecian civilization, it is superfluous to speak, especially when we recollect that the Hellenic states, having no political unity, were only held together by the aggregate of spontaneous uniformities, in language, religion, sympathies, recreations, and general habits. We see both how Pheidon came to contract the wish, and how he acquired the power, to introduce throughout so much of the Grecian world an uniform scale; we also see that the Asiatic Dorians form the link between him and Phoenicia, from whence the scale was derived, just as the Euboic scale came, in all probability, through the Ionic cities in Asia, from Lydia. It is asserted by Ephorus, and admitted even by the ablest modern critics, that Pheidon first coined money "in Aegina"; other authors (erroneously believing that his scale was the Euboic scale) alleged that his coinage had been carried on “in a place of Argos called Euboea”. Now both these statements appear highly improbable, and both are traceable to the same mistake,—of supposing that the title, by which the scale had come to be commonly known, must necessarily be derived from the place in which the coinage had been struck. There is every reason to conclude, that what Pheidon did was done in Argos, and nowhere else : his coinage and scale were the earliest known in Greece, and seem to have been known by his own name, “the Pheidonian measures”, under which designation they were described by Aristotle, in his account of the constitution of Argos. They probably did not come to bear the specific epithet of Aeginaean until there was another scale in vogue, the Euboic, from which to distinguish the ; and both the epithets were probably derived, not from the place where the scale first originated, but from the people whose commercial activity tended to make them most generally known, — in the one case, the Aginetans; in the other case, the inhabitants of Chalcis and Eretria. I think, therefore, that we are to look upon the Pheidonian measures as emanating from Argos, and as having no greater connection, originally, with Aegina, than with any other city dependent upon Argos.

There is, moreover, another point which deserves notice. What was known by the name of the Aegimean scale, as contrasted with and standing in a definite ratio (6 : 5) with the Euboic scale, related only to weight and money, so far as our knowledge extends : we have no evidence to show that the same ratio extended either to measures of length or measures of capacity. But there seems ground for believing that the Pheidonian regulations, taken in their full comprehension, embraced measures of capacity as well as weights : Pheidon, at the same time when he determined the talent, mina, and drachm, seems also to have fixed the dry and liquid measures,—the medimnus and metretes, with their parts and multiples : and there existed Pheidonian measures of capacity, though not of length, so far as we know. The Aeginaean scale may thus have comprised only a portion of what was established by Pheidon, namely, that which related to weight and money.





It has already been stated that the territory properly called Elis, apart from the enlargement which it acquired by conquest, included the westernmost land in Peloponnesus, south of Achaia, and west of Mount Pholoe and Olenus in Arcadia—but not extending so far southward as the river Alpheius, the course of which lay along the southern portion of Pisatis and on the borders of Triphylia. This territory, which appears in the Odyssey as “the divine Elis, where the Epeians hold sway,” is in the historical times occupied by a population of Aetolian origin. The connection of race between the historical Eleians and the historical Aetolians was recognized by both parties, nor is there any ground for disputing it.

That Aetolian invaders or immigrants into Elis would cross from Naupaktus or some neighboring point in the Corinthian gulf, is in the natural course of things—and such is the course which Oxylus, the conductor of the invasion, is represented by the Herakleid legend as taking. That legend (as has been already recounted) introduces Oxylus as the guide of the three Herakleid brothers—Temenus, Kresphontes, and Aristodemus—and as stipulating with them that in the new distribution about to take place of Peloponnesus, he shall be allowed to possess the Eleian territory, coupled with many holy privileges as to the celebration of the Olympic games.

In the preceding chapter I have endeavored to show that the settlements of the Dorians in and near the Argolic peninsula, so far as the probabilities of the case enable us to judge, were not accom­plished by any inroad in this direction. But the localities occupied by the Dorians of Sparta, and by the Dorians of Stenyklerus in the territory called Messene, lead us to a different conclusion. The easiest and most natural road through which immigrants could reach either of these two spots is through the Eleian and the Pisatid country. Colonel Leake observes that the direct road from the Eleian territory to Sparta, ascending the valley of the Alpheius near Olympia to the sources of its branch the Theius, and from thence descending the Eurotas, affords the only easy march tow and that very inaccessible city and both ancients and moderns have remarked the vicinity of the source of the Alpheius to that of the Eurotas. The situation of Stenyklerus and Andania, the original settlements of the Messenian Dorians, adjoining closely the Arcadian Parrhasii, is only at a short distance from the course of the Alpheius; being thus reached most easily by the same route. Dismissing the idea of a great collective Dorian armament, powerful enough to grasp at once the entire peninsula—we may conceive two moderate detachments of hardy mountaineers from the cold regions in and near Doris, attach­ing themselves to the Aetolians their neighbors, who were proceeding to the invasion of Elis. After having aided the Aetolians both to occupy Elis and to subdue the Pisatid, these Dorians advanced up the valley of the Alpheius in quest of settlements for themselves. One of these bodies ripens into the stately, stubborn, and victorious Spartans; the other into the short-lived, trampled, and struggling Messenians.

Amid the darkness which overclouds these original settlements, we seem to discern something like special causes to determine both of them. With respect to the Spartan Dorians, we are told that a person named Philonomus betrayed Sparta to them, persuading the sovereign in possession to retire with his people into the habitations of the Ionians in the north of the peninsula—and that he received as a recompense for this acceptable service Amyklae with the district around it. It is farther stated—and this important fact there seems no reason to doubt—that Amyklae, though only twenty stadia, or two miles and a half, distant from Sparta, retained both its independence and its Achaean inhabitants long after the Dorian immigrants had acquired possession of the latter place, and was only taken by them under the reign of Teleklus, one generation before the first Olympiad. Without presuming to fill up by conjecture incurable gaps u the statements of our authorities, we may from hence reasonably presume that the Dorians were induced to invade, and enabled to Require, Sparta by the invitation and assistance of a party in the interior of the country. Again, with respect to the Messenian Dorians, a different, but not less effectual temptation was presented by the alliance of the Arcadians in the south-western portion of that central region of Peloponnesus. Kresphontes, the Herakleid leader, it is said, espoused the daughter of the Arcadian king Kypselus, which procured for him the support of a powerful section of Arcadia. His settlement at Stenyklerus was a considerable distance from the sea, at the north-east corner of Messenia, close to the Arcadian frontier; and it will be seen hereafter that this Arcadian alliance is a constant and material element in Ihe disputes of the Messenian Dorians with Sparta.

We may thus trace a reasonable sequence of events, showing how two bodies of Dorians, having first assisted the Aetolo-Eleians to conquer the Pisatid, and thus finding themselves on the banks of the Alpheius, followed the upward course of that river, the one to settle at Sparta, the other at Stenyklerus. The historian Ephorus, from whim our scanty fragments of information respecting these early settlements are derived—it is important to note that he lived in the age immediately succeeding the first foundation of Messene as a city, the restitution of the long-exiled Messenians, and the amputation of the fertile western half of Laconia for their benefit, by Epaminondas—imparts to these proceedings an immediate decisiveness of effect which does not properly belong to them; as if the Spartans had become at once possessed of all Laconia, and the Messenians of all Messenia; Pausanias, too, speaks as if the Arcadians collectively had assisted and allied themselves with Kresphontes. This is lie general spirit which pervades his account, though the particular facts, in so far as we find any such, do not always har­monize with it. Now we are ignorant of the pre-existing divisions of the country, either east or west of Mount Taygetus, at the time when Dorians invaded it. But to treat the one and the other as kingdoms, handed over at once to two Dorian leaders, is an illusion borrowed from the old legend, from the historicizing fancies of Ephorus, and from the fact that in the well-known times this whole territory came to be really united under the Spartan power.

At what date the Dorian settlements at Sparta and Stenyklerus were effected we have no means of determining. Yet that there existed between them in the earliest times a degree of fraternity which did not prevail between Lacedaemon and Argos, we may fairly presume from the common temple, with joint religious sacri­fices, of Artemis Limnatis (or Artemis on the Marsh) erected on the confines of Messenia and Laconia. Our first view of the two, at all approaching to distinctness, seems to date from a period about half a century earlier than the first Olympiad (776 b.c.)—about the reign of king Teleklus of the Eurystheneidor Agid line, and the introduction of the Lykurgean discipline. Teleklus stands in the list as the eighth king dating from Eurysthenes. But how many of the seven kings before him are to be considered as real persons—or how much, out of the brief warlike expeditions ascribed to them, is to be treated as authentic history—I pretend not to define.

The earliest determinable event in the internal history of Sparta is the introduction of the Lykurgean discipline; the earliest external events are the conquest of Amyklae, Pharis and Geronthrae. effected by king Teleklus, and the first quarrel with the Messenians, in which that prince was slain. When we come to see how deplorably great was the confusion and ignorance which reigned with reference to a matter so pre-eminently important as Lykurgus and his legislation, we shall not be inclined to think that facts much less important, and belonging to an earlier epoch, can have been handed down upon any good authority. And in like manner, when we learn that Amyklae, Pharis, and Geronthrae (all south of Sparta, and the first only two and a half miles distant from that city) were independent of the Spartans until the reign of Teleklus, we shall require some decisive testimony before we can believe that a community, so small and so hemmed in as Sparta must then have been, had in earlier times undertaken expeditions against Helos on the sea-coast, against Kleitor on the extreme northern side of Arcadia, against the Kynurians, or against the Argeians. If Helos and Kynuria were conquered by these early kings, it appears that they had to be conquered a second time by kings succeeding Teleklus. It would be more natural that we should hear when and how they conquered the places nearer to them—Sellasia, or Belemina, the valley of the Oenus or the upper valley of the Eurotas. But these seem to be assumed as matters of course; the proceedings ascribed to the early Spartan kings are such only as might beseem the palmy days when Sparta was undisputed mistress of all Laconia.

The succession of Messenian kings, beginning with Kresphontes, the Herakleid brother, and continuing from father to son—Aepytus, Glaukus, Isthmius, Dotadas, Subotas, Phintas, the last being con­temporary with Teleklus—is still less marked by incident than that of the early Spartan kings. It is said that the reign of Kresphontes was troubled, and himself ultimately slain, by mutinies among his subjects; Aepytus, then a youth, having escaped into Arcadia, was afterward restored to the throne by the Arcadian Spartans, and Argeians. From Aepytus the Messenian line of kings are stated to have been denominated Aepytids in preference to Herakleids—which affords another proof of their intimate connection with the Arcadians, since Aepytus was a very ancient name in Arcadian heroic antiquity.

There is considerable resemblance between the alleged behavior of Kresphontes on first settling at Stenyklerus, and that of Eurys­thenes and Prokles at Sparta—so far as we gather from statements, alike meager and uncertified, resting on the authority of Ephorus. Both are said to have tried to place the pre-existing inhabitants of the country on a level with their own Dorian bands; both provoked discontents and incurred obloquy, with their contemporaries as well as with posterity, by the attempt; nor did either permanently succeed. Kresphontes was forced to concentrate all his Dorians in Stenyklerus, while, after all the discontents ended in his violent death. And Agis, the son of Eurysthenes, is said to have reversed all the liberal tentatives of his father, so as to bring the whole of Laconia into subjection and dependence on the Dorians at Sparta, with the single exception of Amyklae. So odious to the Spartan Dorians was the conduct of Eurysthenes that they refused to acknowledge him as their oekist, and conferred that honor upon Agis; the two lines of kings being called Agiads and Eurypontids, instead of Enrystheneids and Prokleids. We see in these statements the same tone of mind as that which pervades the Panathenaic oration of Isokrates, the master of Ephorus—the facts of an unknown period so colored as to suit an ideal of haughty Dorian exclusiveness.

Again, as Eurysthenes and Prokles appear, in the picture of Epho­rus, to carry their authority at once over the whole of Laconia, so too does Kresphontes over the whole of Messenia—over the entire south-western region of Peloponnesus, westward of Mount Taygetus and Cape Taenarus, and southward of the river Neda. He sends an envoy to Pylus and Rhium, the western and southern portions of the south-western promontory of Peloponnesus, treating the entire terri­tory as if it were one sovereignty, and inviting the inhabitants to submit under equal laws. But it has already been observed that this supposed oneness and indivisibility is not less uncertified in regard to Messenia than in regard to Laconia. How large a proportion of the former territory these kings of Stenyklerus may have ruled, we have no means of determining, but there were certainly portions of it which they did not rule—not merely during the reign of Teleklus at Sparta, but still later, during the first Messenian war. For not only we are informed that Teleklus established three townships, Poieessa, Echeiae, and Tragium, near the Messenian gulf and on the course of the river Nedon, but we read also a farther matter of evi­dence in the roll of Olympic victors. Every competitor for the prize at one of these great festivals was always entered as member of some autonomous Hellenic community, which constituted his title to approach the lists: if successful, he was proclaimed with the name of the community to which he belonged. Now, during the first ten Olympiads seven winners are proclaimed as Messenians; in the eleventh Olympiad we find the name of Oxythemis, KoronaeusOxythemis, not of Koroneia in Boeotia, but of Korone in the western bend of the Messenian gulf, some miles on the right bank of the Pamisus, and a considerable distance to the north of the modern Coron. Now, if Korone had then been comprehended in Messenia, Oxythemis would have been proclaimed as a Messenian, like the seven winners who preceded him; and the fact of his being proclaimed as a Koronaean proves that Korone was then an independent com­munity, not under the dominion of the Dorians of Stenyklerus. It seems clear, therefore, that the latter did not reign over the whole territory commonly known as Messenia, though we are unable to assign the proportion of it which they actually possessed.

The Olympic festival, in its origin doubtless a privilege of the neighboring Pisatans, seems to have derived its great and gradually expanding importance from the Aetolo-Eleian settlement in Pelopon­nesus, combined with the Dorians of Laconia and Messenia. Lykurgus of Sparta and Iphitus of Elis are alleged to have joined their efforts for the purpose of establishing both the sanctity of the Olympic truce and the inviolability of the Eleian territory. Hence, though this tale is not to be construed as matter of fact, we may see that the Lacedaemonians regarded the Olympic games as a portion of their own antiquities. Moreover, it is certain both that the dignity of the festival increased simultaneously with their ascendency, and that their peculiar fashions were very early introduced into the practice of the Olympic competitors. Probably the three bands of co-operat­ing invaders, Aetolians and Spartan and Messenian Dorians, may have adopted this festival as a periodical renovation of mutual union and fraternity; from which cause the games became an attractive center for the western portion of Peloponnesus, before they were much frequented by people from the eastern, or still more from extra-­Peloponnesian Hellas. For it cannot be altogether accidental, when we read the names of the first twelve proclaimed Olympic victors (occupying nearly half a century from 776 b.c. downward), to find that seven of them are Messenians, three Eleians, one from Dyme in Achaia, and one from Korone; while after the twelfth Olympiad, Corinthians and Megarians and Epidaurians begin to occur, later still, extra-Peloponnesian victors. We may reasonably infer from hence that the Olympic ceremonies were at this early period chiefly frequented by visitors and competitors from the western regions of Peloponnesus, and that the affluence to them from the more distant parts of the Hellenic world did not become considerable until the first Messenian war had dosed.

Having thus set forth toe conjectures, to which our very scanty knowledge points, respecting the first establishment of the Aetolian and Dorian settlements in Elis, Laconia, and Messenia, connected as they are with the steadily-increasing dignity and frequentation of the Olympic festival, I proceed in the next chapter to that memorable circumstance which both determined the character and brought about the political ascendency, of the Spartans separately—I mean die laws and discipline of Lykurgus.

Of the pre-existing inhabitants of Laconia and Messenia, whom we are accustomed to call Achaeans and Pylians, so little is known, that we cannot at all measure the difference between them and their Dorian invaders, either in dialect, in habits, or in intelligence. There appear no traces of any difference of dialect among the various parts of the population of Laconia; the Messenian allies of Athens, in the Peloponnesian war, speak the same dialect as the Helots, and the same also as the Ambrakiotic colonists from Corinth—all Doric. Nor me we to suppose that the Doric dialect was at all peculiar to the people called Dorians. As far as can be made out by the evi­dence of inscriptions, it seems to have been Ike dialect of the Phokians, Delphians, Lokrians, Aetolians, and Achaeans of Phthiotis; with respect to the latter, the inscriptions of Thaumaki in Achaea Phthiotis afford a proof the more curious and the more cogent of native dialect, because the Phthiots were both immediate neighbors and subjects of the Thessalians, who spoke a variety of the Awolic. So too, within Peloponnesus, we find evidences of Doric dialect among the Achaeans in the north of Peloponnesus—the Dryopic inhabitants of Hermione—and the Eleuthero-Lacones, or Laconian townships (compounded of Perioeki and Helots), emancipated by the Romans in the second century me. Concerning the speech of that population whom the invading Dorians found in Laconia, we have no means of judging; the presumption would rather be that it did not differ materially from the Doric. Thucydides designates the Corinthians, whom the invading Dorians attacked from the hill Solygeius, as being Aeolians, and Strabo speaks both of the Achaeans as an Aeolic nation and of the Aeolic dialect as having been originally preponderant in Peloponnesus. But we do not readily see what means of information either of these authors possessed respecting the speech of a time which must have been four centuries anterior even to Thucydides.

Of that which is called the Aeolic dialect there are three marked and distinguishable varieties—the Lesbian, the Thessalian, and the Boeotian; the Thessalian forming a mean term between the other two. Ahrens has shown that the ancient grammatical critics are accustomed to affirm peculiarities, as belonging to the Aeolic dialect generally, which in truth belong only to the Lesbian variety of it, or critics attentively studied. Lesbian, Aeolic, Thessalian Aeolic, and Boeotian Aeolic, are all different; and if, abstracting from these differences, we confine our attention to that which is common to all three, we shall find little to distinguish this abstract Aeolic from the abstract Doric, or that which is common to the many varieties of the Doric dialect. These two are sisters, presenting both of them more or less the Latin side of the Greek language, while the relationship of either of them to the Attic and Ionic is more distant. Now it seems that (putting ­aside Attica) the speech of all Greece, from Perrhaebia and Mount Olympus to Cape Malea and Cape Akritas, consisted of different varieties either of the Doric or of the Aeolic dialect; this being true (as far as we are able to judge) not less of the aboriginal Arcadians than of the rest. The Laconian dialect contained more specialties of its own, and approached nearer to the Aeolic, and to the Eleian, than any other variety of the Dorian: it stands at the extreme of what has been classified as the strict Dorian—that is, the farthest removed from Ionic and Attic. The Kretan towns manifest also a strict Dorism; as well as the Lacedaemonian colony of Tarentum, and seem­ingly most of the italiotic Greeks, though some of them are called Achaean colonies. Most of the other varieties of the Doric dialect (Phokian, Lokrian, Delphian, Achaean of Phthiotis) exhibit a form departing less widely from the Ionic and Attic: Argos and the towns in the Argolic peninsula seem to form a stepping-stone between the two.

These positions represent all our scanty information respecting those varieties of Grecian speech which are not known to us by written works. The little presumption which can be raised upon them favors the belief that the Dorian invaders of Laconia and Messenia found there a dialect little different from that which they brought with them—a conclusion which it is the more necessary to state distinctly, since the work of O. Muller has caused an exaggerated estimate to be formed of the distinctive peculiarities whereby Dorism was parted off from the rest of Hellas.