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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 4
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Pausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 4 Post by :cashgalore Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :3440

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Pausanias, The Spartan: An Unfinished Historical Romance - Book 4 - Chapter 4

BOOK IV CHAPTER IV

The group that attended Lysander continued to swell as he mounted the acclivity on which his parental home was placed. The houses of the Spartan proprietors were at that day not closely packed together as in the dense population of commercial towns. More like the villas of a suburb, they lay a little apart, on the unequal surface of the rugged ground, perfectly plain and unadorned, covering a large space with ample court-yards, closed in, in front of the narrow streets. And still was in force the primitive law which ordained that doorways should be shaped only by the saw, and the ceilings by the axe; but in contrast to the rudeness of the private houses, at every opening in the street were seen the Doric pillars or graceful stairs of a temple; and high over all dominated the Tower-hill, or Acropolis, with the antique fane of Pallas Chalcioecus.

And so, loud and joyous, the procession bore the young warrior to the threshold of his home. It was an act of public honour to his fair repute and his proven valour. And the Spartan felt as proud of that unceremonious attendance as ever did Roman chief sweeping under arches of triumph in the curule car.

At the threshold of the door stood his mother--for the tidings of his coming had preceded him--and his little brothers and sisters. His step quickened at the sight of these beloved faces.

"Bound forward, Lysander," said one of the train; "thou hast won the right to thy mother's kiss."

"But fail us not at the pheidition before sunset," cried another. "Every one of the obe will send his best contribution to the feast to welcome thee back. We shall have a rare banquet of it."

And so, as his mother drew him within the doors, his arm round her waist, and the children clung to his cloak, to his knees, or sprung up to claim his kiss, the procession set up a kind of chaunted shout, and left the warrior in his home.

"Oh, this is joy, joy!" said Lysander, with sweet tears in his eyes, as he sat in the women's apartment, his mother by his side, and the little ones round him. "Where, save in Sparta, does a man love a home?"

And this exclamation, which might have astonished an Ionian--seeing how much the Spartan civilians merged the individual in the state--was yet true, where the Spartan was wholly Spartan, where, by habit and association, he had learned to love the severities of the existence that surrounded him, and where the routine of duties which took him from his home, whether for exercises or the public tables, made yet more precious the hours of rest and intimate intercourse with his family. For the gay pleasures and lewd resorts of other Greek cities were not known to the Spartan. Not for him were the cook-shops and baths and revels of Ionian idlers. When the State ceased to claim him, he had nothing but his Home.

As Lysander thus exclaimed, the door of the room had opened noiselessly, and Agesilaus stood unperceived at the entrance, and overheard his son. His face brightened singularly at Lysander's words. He came forward and opened his arms.

"Embrace me now, my boy! my brave boy! embrace me now! The Ephors are not here."

Lysander turned, sprang up, and was in his father's arms.

"So thou art not changed. Byzantium has not spoiled thee. Thy name is uttered with praise unmixed with fear. All Persia's gold, all the great king's Satrapies could not medize my Lysander. Ah," continued the father, turning to his wife, "who could have predicted the happiness of this hour? Poor child! he was born sickly. Hera had already given us more sons than we could provide for, ere our lands were increased by the death of thy childless relatives. Wife, wife! when the family council ordained him to be exposed on Taÿgetus, when thou didst hide thyself lest thy tears should be seen, and my voice trembled as I said 'Be the laws obeyed,' who could have guessed that the gods would yet preserve him to be the pride of our house? Blessed be Zeus the saviour and Hercules the warrior!"

"And," said the mother, "blessed be Pausanias, the descendant of Hercules, who took the forlorn infant to his father's home, and who has reared him now to be the example of Spartan youths."

"Ah," said Lysander, looking up into his father's eyes, "if I can ever be worthy of your love, O my father, forget not, I pray thee, that it is to Pausanias I owe life, home, and a Spartan's glorious destiny."

"I forget it not," answered Agesilaus, with a mournful and serious expression of countenance. "And on this I would speak to thee. Thy mother must spare thee awhile to me. Come. I lean on thy shoulder instead of my staff."

Agesilaus led his son into the large hall, which was the main chamber of the house; and pacing up and down the wide and solitary floor, questioned him closely as to the truth of the stories respecting the Regent which had reached the Ephors.

"Thou must speak with naked heart to me," said Agesilaus; "for I tell thee that, if I am Spartan, I am also man and father; and I would serve him, who saved thy life and taught thee how to fight for thy country, in every way that may be lawful to a Spartan and a Greek."

Thus addressed, and convinced of his father's sincerity, Lysander replied with ingenuous and brief simplicity. He granted that Pausanias had exposed himself with a haughty imprudence, which it was difficult to account for, to the charges of the Ionians. "But," he added, with that shrewd observation which his affection for Pausanias rather than his experience of human nature had taught him--"But we must remember that in Pausanias we are dealing with no ordinary man. If he has faults of judgment, which a Spartan rarely commits, he has, O my father, a force of intellect and passion, which a Spartan as rarely knows. Shall I tell you the truth? Our State is too small for him. But would it not have been too small for Hercules? Would the laws of Aegimius have permitted Hercules to perform his labours and achieve his conquests? This vast and fiery nature suddenly released from the cramps of our customs, which Pausanias never in his youth regarded save as galling, expands itself, as an eagle long caged would outspread its wings."

"I comprehend," said Agesilaus thoughtfully, and somewhat sadly. "There have been moments in my own life when I regarded Sparta as a prison. In my early manhood I was sent on a mission to Corinth. Its pleasures, its wild tumult of gay licence dazzled and inebriated me. I said, 'This it is to live.' I came back to Sparta sullen and discontented. But then, happily, I saw thy mother at the festival of Diana--we loved each other, we married--and when I was permitted to take her to my home, I became sobered and was a Spartan again. I comprehend. Poor Pausanias! But luxury and pleasure, though they charm awhile, do not fill up the whole of a soul like that of our Heracleid. From these he may recover; but Ambition--that is the true liver of Tantalus, and grows larger under the beak that feeds on it. What is his ambition, if Sparta be too small for him?

"I think his ambition would be to make Sparta as big as himself."

Agesilaus stroked his chin musingly.

"And how?"

"I cannot tell, I can only guess. But the Persian war, if I may judge by what I hear and see, cannot roll away and leave the boundaries of each Greek State the same. Two States now stand forth prominent, Athens and Sparta. Themistocles and Cimon aim at making Athens the head of Hellas, Perhaps Pausanias aims to effect for Sparta what they would effect for Athens."

"And what thinkest thou of such a scheme?"

"Ask me not. I am too young, too inexperienced, and perhaps too Spartan to answer rightly."

"Too Spartan, because thou art too covetous of power for Sparta."

"Too Spartan, because I may be too anxious to keep Sparta what she is."

Agesilaus smiled. "We are of the same mind, my son. Think not that the rocky defiles which enclose us shut out from our minds all the ideas that new circumstance strikes from Time. I have meditated on what thou sayest Pausanias may scheme. It is true that the invasion of the Mede must tend to raise up one State in Greece to which the others will look for a head. I have asked myself, can Sparta be that State? and my reason tells me, No. Sparta is lost if she attempt it. She may become something else, but she cannot be Sparta. Such a State must become maritime, and depend on fleets. Our inland situation forbids this. True we have ports in which the Perioeci flourish; but did we use them for a permanent policy the Perioeci must become our masters. These five villages would be abandoned for a mart on the sea-shore. This mother of men would be no more. A State that so aspires must have ample wealth at its command. We have none. We might raise tribute from other Greek cities, but for that purpose we must have fleets again, to overawe and compel, for no tribute will be long voluntary. A state that would be the active governor of Hellas must have lives to spare in abundance. We have none, unless we always do hereafter as we did at Plataea, raise an army of Helots--seven Helots to one Spartan. How long, if we did so, would the Helots obey us, and meanwhile how would our lands be cultivated? A State that would be the centre of Greece, must cultivate all that can charm and allure strangers. We banish strangers, and what charms and allures them would womanize us. More than all, a State that would obtain the sympathies of the turbulent Hellenic populations, must have the most popular institutions. It must be governed by a Demus, We are an Oligarchic Aristocracy--a disciplined camp of warriors, not a licentious Agora. Therefore, Sparta cannot assume the head of a Greek Confederacy except in the rare seasons of actual war; and the attempt to make her the head of such a confederacy would cause changes so repugnant to our manners and habits, that it would be fraught with destruction to him who made the attempt, or to us if he succeeded. Wherefore, to sum up, the ambition of Pausanias is in this impracticable, and must be opposed."

"And Athens," cried Lysander, with a slight pang of natural and national jealousy, "Athens then must wrest from Pausanias the hegemony he now holds for Sparta, and Athens must be what the Athenian ambition covets."

"We cannot help it--she must; but can it last?--Impossible. And woe to her if she ever comes in contact with the bronze of Laconian shields. But in the meanwhile, what is to be done with this great and awful Heracleid? They accuse him of medising, of secret conspiracy with Persia itself. Can that be possible?

"If so, it is but to use Persia on behalf of Sparta. If he would subdue Greece, it is not for the king, it is for the race of Hercules."

"Ay, ay, ay," cried Agesilaus, shading his face with his hand. "All becomes clear to me now. Listen. Did I openly defend Pausanias before the Ephors, I should injure his cause. But when they talk of his betraying Hellas and Sparta, I place before them nakedly and broadly their duty if that charge be true. For if true, O my son, Pausanias must die as criminals die."

"Die--criminal--an Heracleid--king's blood--the victor of Plataea--my friend Pausanias!"

"Rather he than Sparta. What sayest thou?"

"Neither, neither," exclaimed Lysander, wringing his hands--"impossible both."

"Impossible both, be it so. I place before the Ephors the terrors of accrediting that charge, in order that they may repudiate it. For the lesser ones it matters not; he is in no danger there, save that of fine. And his gold," added Agesilaus with a curved lip of disdain, "will both condemn and save him. For the rest, I would spare him the dishonour of being publicly recalled, and to say truth, I would save Sparta the peril she might incur from his wrath, if she inflicted on him that slight. But mark me, he himself must resign his command, voluntarily, and return to Sparta. Better so for him and his pride, for he cannot keep the hegemony against the will of the Ionians, whose fleet is so much larger than ours, and it is to his gain if his successor lose it, not he. But better, not only for his pride, but for his glory and his name, that he should come from these scenes of fierce temptation, and, since birth made him a Spartan, learn here again to conform to what he cannot change. I have spoken thus plainly to thee. Use the words I have uttered as thou best may, after thy return to Pausanias, which I will strive to make speedy. But while we talk there goes on danger--danger still of his abrupt recall--for there are those who will seize every excuse for it. Enough of these grave matters: the sun is sinking towards the west, and thy companions await thee at thy feast; mine will be eager to greet me on thy return, and thy little brothers, who go with me to my pheidition, will hear thee so praised that they will long for the crypteia--long to be men, and find some future Plataea for themselves. May the gods forbid it! War is a terrible unsettler. Time saps States as a tide the cliff. War is an inundation, and when it ebbs, a landmark has vanished."

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BOOK IV CHAPTER VNothing so largely contributed to the peculiar character of Spartan society as the uniform custom of taking the principal meal at a public table. It conduced to four objects: the precise status of aristocracy, since each table was formed according to title and rank,--equality among aristocrats, since each at the same table was held the equal of the other--military union, for as they feasted so they fought, being formed into divisions in the field according as they messed together at home; and lastly, that sort of fellowship in public opinion which intimate association amongst those of the same
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BOOK IV CHAPTER IIIOn quitting the Hall of the Ephors, Lysander found himself at once on the Spartan Agora in that Hall was placed. This was situated on the highest of the five hills, over which the unwalled city spread its scattered population, and was popularly called the Tower. Before the eyes of the young Spartan rose the statues, rude and antique, of Latona, the Pythian Apollo, and his sister Artemis;--venerable images to Lysander's early associations. The place which they consecrated was called Chorus; for there, in honour of Apollo, and in the most pompous of all the Spartan festivals, the
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