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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsAthens: Its Rise And Fall - Vol 2 - Book 4 - Chapter 3
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Athens: Its Rise And Fall - Vol 2 - Book 4 - Chapter 3 Post by :bigincome Category :Nonfictions Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :2570

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Athens: Its Rise And Fall - Vol 2 - Book 4 - Chapter 3

VOL II BOOK IV CHAPTER III

Reduction of Naxos.--Actions off Cyprus.--Manners of Cimon.-- Improvements in Athens.--Colony at the Nine Ways.--Siege of Thasos.-- Earthquake in Sparta.--Revolt of Helots, Occupation of Ithome, and Third Messenian War.--Rise and Character of Pericles.--Prosecution and Acquittal of Cimon.--The Athenians assist the Spartans at Ithome.-- Thasos Surrenders.--Breach between the Athenians and Spartans.-- Constitutional Innovations at Athens.--Ostracism of Cimon.


I. At the time in which Naxos refused the stipulated subsidies, and was, in consequence, besieged by Cimon, that island was one of the most wealthy and populous of the confederate states. For some time the Naxians gallantly resisted the besiegers; but, at length reduced, they were subjected to heavier conditions than those previously imposed upon them. No conqueror contents himself with acquiring the objects, sometimes frivolous and often just, with which he commences hostilities. War inflames the passions, and success the ambition. Cimon, at first anxious to secure the Grecian, was now led on to desire the increase of the Athenian power. The Athenian fleet had subdued Naxos, and Naxos was rendered subject to Athens. This was the first of the free states which the growing republic submitted to her yoke (172). The precedent once set, as occasion tempted, the rest shared a similar fate.

II. The reduction of Naxos was but the commencement of the victories of Cimon. In Asia Minor there were many Grecian cities in which the Persian ascendency had never yet been shaken. Along the Carian coast Cimon conducted his armament, and the terror it inspired sufficed to engage all the cities, originally Greek, to revolt from Persia; those garrisoned by Persians he besieged and reduced. Victorious in Caria, he passed with equal success into Lycia (173), augmenting his fleet and forces as he swept along. But the Persians, not inactive, had now assembled a considerable force in Pamphylia, and lay encamped on the banks of the Eurymedon (B. C. 466), whose waters, sufficiently wide, received their fleet. The expected re-enforcement of eighty Phoenician vessels from Cyprus induced the Persians to delay (174) actual hostilities. But Cimon, resolved to forestall the anticipated junction, sailed up the river, and soon forced the barbarian fleet, already much more numerous than his own, into active engagement. The Persians but feebly supported the attack; driven up the river, the crews deserted the ships, and hastened to join the army arrayed along the coast. Of the ships thus deserted, some were destroyed; and two hundred triremes, taken by Cimon, yet more augmented his armament. But the Persians, now advanced to the verge of the shore, presented a long and formidable array, and Cimon, with some anxiety, saw the danger he incurred in landing troops already much harassed by the late action, while a considerable proportion of the hostile forces, far more numerous, were fresh and unfatigued. The spirit of the men, and their elation at the late victory, bore down the fears of the general; yet warm from the late action, he debarked his heavy-armed infantry, and with loud shouts the Athenians rushed upon the foe. The contest was fierce--the slaughter great. Many of the noblest Athenians fell in the action. Victory at length declared in favour of Cimon; the Persians were put to flight, and the Greeks remained masters of the battle and the booty--the last considerable. Thus, on the same day, the Athenians were victorious on both elements--an unprecedented glory, which led the rhetorical Plutarch to declare--that Plataea and Salamis were outshone. Posterity, more discerning, estimates glory not by the greatness of the victory alone, but the justice of the cause. And even a skirmish won by men struggling for liberty on their own shores is more honoured than the proudest battle in which the conquerors are actuated by the desire of vengeance or the lust of enterprise.

III. To the trophies of this double victory were soon added those of a third, obtained over the eighty vessels of the Phoenicians off the coast of Cyprus. These signal achievements spread the terror of the Athenian arms on remote as on Grecian shores. Without adopting the exaggerated accounts of injudicious authors as to the number of ships and prisoners (175), it seems certain, at least, that the amount of the booty was sufficient, in some degree, to create in Athens a moral revolution--swelling to a vast extent the fortunes of individuals, and augmenting the general taste for pomp, for luxury, and for splendour, which soon afterward rendered Athens the most magnificent of the Grecian states.

The navy of Persia thus broken, her armies routed, the scene of action transferred to her own dominions, all designs against Greece were laid aside. Retreating, as it were, more to the centre of her vast domains, she left the Asiatic outskirts to the solitude, rather of exhaustion than of peace. "No troops," boasted the later rhetoricians, "came within a day's journey, on horseback, of the Grecian seas." From the Chelidonian isles on the Pamphylian coast, to those (176) twin rocks at the entrance of the Euxine, between which the sea, chafed by their rugged base, roars unappeasably through its mists of foam, no Persian galley was descried. Whether this was the cause of defeat or of acknowledged articles of peace, has been disputed. But, as will be seen hereafter, of the latter all historical evidence is wanting.

In a subsequent expedition, Cimon, sailing from Athens with a small force, wrested the Thracian Chersonese from the Persians--an exploit which restored to him his own patrimony.

IV. Cimon was now at the height of his fame and popularity. His share of the booty, and the recovery of the Chersonese, rendered him by far the wealthiest citizen of Athens; and he continued to use his wealth to cement his power. His intercourse with other nations, his familiarity with the oriental polish and magnificence, served to elevate his manners from their early rudeness, and to give splendour to his tastes. If he had spent his youth among the wild soldiers of Miltiades, the leisure of his maturer years was cultivated by an intercourse with sages and poets. His passion for the sex, which even in its excesses tends to refine and to soften, made his only vice. He was the friend of every genius and every art; and, the link between the lavish ostentation of Themistocles and the intellectual grace of Pericles, he conducted, as it were, the insensible transition from the age of warlike glory to that of civil pre-eminence. He may be said to have contributed greatly to diffuse that atmosphere of poetry and of pleasure which even the meanest of the free Athenians afterward delighted to respire. He led the citizens more and more from the recesses of private life; and carried out that social policy commenced by Pisistratus, according to which all individual habits became merged into one animated, complex, and excited public. Thus, himself gay and convivial, addicted to company, wine, and women, he encouraged shows and spectacles, and invested them with new magnificence; he embellished the city with public buildings, and was the first to erect at Athens those long colonnades--beneath the shade of which, sheltered from the western suns, that graceful people were accustomed to assemble and converse. The Agora, that universal home of the citizens, was planted by him with the oriental planes; and the groves of Academe, the immortal haunt of Plato, were his work. That celebrated garden, associated with the grateful and bright remembrances of all which poetry can lend to wisdom, was, before the time of Cimon, a waste and uncultivated spot. It was his hand that intersected it with walks and alleys, and that poured through its green retreats the ornamental waters so refreshing in those climes, and not common in the dry Attic soil, which now meandered in living streams, and now sparkled into fountains. Besides these works to embellish, he formed others to fortify the city. He completed the citadel, hitherto unguarded on the south side; and it was from the barbarian spoils deposited in the treasury that the expenses of founding the Long Walls, afterward completed, were defrayed.

V. In his conduct towards the allies, the natural urbanity of Cimon served to conceal a policy deep-laid and grasping. The other Athenian generals were stern and punctilious in their demands on the confederates; they required the allotted number of men, and, in default of the supply, increased the rigour of their exactions. Not so Cimon--from those whom the ordinary avocations of a peaceful life rendered averse to active service, he willingly accepted a pecuniary substitute, equivalent to the value of those ships or soldiers they should have furnished. These sums, devoted indeed to the general service, were yet appropriated to the uses of the Athenian navy; thus the states, hitherto warlike, were artfully suffered to lapse into peaceful and luxurious pursuits; and the confederates became at once, under the most lenient pretexts, enfeebled and impoverished by the very means which strengthened the martial spirit and increased the fiscal resources of the Athenians. The tributaries found too late, when they ventured at revolt, that they had parted with the facilities of resistance. (177)

In the mean while it was the object of Cimon to sustain the naval ardour and discipline of the Athenians; while the oar and the sword fell into disuse with the confederates, he kept the greater part of the citizens in constant rotation at maritime exercise or enterprise-- until experience and increasing power with one, indolence and gradual subjection with the other, destroying the ancient equality in arms, made the Athenians masters and their confederates subjects. (178)

VI. According to the wise policy of the ancients, the Athenians never neglected a suitable opportunity to colonize; thus extending their dominion while they draughted off the excess of their population, as well as the more enterprising spirits whom adventure tempted or poverty aroused. The conquest of Eion had opened to the Athenians a new prospect of aggrandizement, of which they were now prepared to seize the advantages. Not far from Eion, and on the banks of the Strymon, was a place called the Nine Ways, afterward Amphipolis, and which, from its locality and maritime conveniences, seemed especially calculated for the site of a new city. Thither ten thousand persons, some confederates, some Athenians, had been sent to establish a colony. The views of the Athenians were not, however, in this enterprise, bounded to its mere legitimate advantages. About the same time they carried on a dispute with the Thasians relative to certain mines and places of trade on the opposite coasts of Thrace. The dispute was one of considerable nicety. The Athenians, having conquered Eion and the adjacent territory, claimed the possession by right of conquest. The Thasians, on the other hand, had anciently possessed some of the mines and the monopoly of the commerce; they had joined in the confederacy; and, asserting that the conquest had been made, if by Athenian arms, for the federal good, they demanded that the ancient privileges should revert to them. The Athenian government was not disposed to surrender a claim which proffered to avarice the temptation of mines of gold. The Thasians renounced the confederacy, and thus gave to the Athenians the very pretext for hostilities which the weaker state should never permit to the more strong. While the colony proceeded to its destination, part of the Athenian fleet, under Cimon, sailed to Thasos--gained a victory by sea--landed on the island--and besieged the city.

Meanwhile the new colonizers had become masters of the Nine Ways, having dislodged the Edonian Thracians, its previous habitants. But hostility following hostility, the colonists were eventually utterly routed and cut off in a pitched battle at Drabescus (B. C. 465), in Edonia, by the united forces of all the neighbouring Thracians.

VII. The siege of Thasos still continued, and the besieged took the precaution to send to Sparta for assistance. That sullen state had long viewed with indignation the power of Athens; her younger warriors clamoured against the inert indifference with which a city, for ages so inferior to Sparta, had been suffered to gain the ascendency over Greece. In vain had Themistocles been removed; the inexhaustible genius of the people had created a second Themistocles in Cimon. The Lacedaemonians, glad of a pretext for quarrel, courteously received the Thasian ambassadors, and promised to distract the Athenian forces by an irruption into Attica. They were actively prepared in concerting measures for this invasion, when sudden and complicated afflictions, now to be related, forced them to abandon their designs, and confine their attention to themselves.

VIII. An earthquake, unprecedented in its violence, occurred in Sparta. In many places throughout Laconia the rocky soil was rent asunder. From Mount Taygetus, which overhung the city, and on which the women of Lacedaemon were wont to hold their bacchanalian orgies, huge fragments rolled into the suburbs. The greater portion of the city was absolutely overthrown; and it is said, probably with exaggeration, that only five houses wholly escaped the shock. This terrible calamity did not cease suddenly as it came; its concussions were repeated; it buried alike men and treasure: could we credit Diodorus, no less than twenty thousand persons perished in the shock. Thus depopulated, empoverished, and distressed, the enemies whom the cruelty of Sparta nursed within her bosom resolved to seize the moment to execute their vengeance and consummate her destruction. Under Pausanias we have seen before that the helots were already ripe for revolt. The death of that fierce conspirator checked, but did not crush, their designs of freedom. Now was the moment, when Sparta lay in ruins--now was the moment to realize their dreams. From field to field, from village to village, the news of the earthquake became the watchword of revolt. Up rose the helots (B. C. 464)--they armed themselves, they poured on--a wild, and gathering, and relentless multitude, resolved to slay by the wrath of man all whom that of nature had yet spared. The earthquake that levelled Sparta rent her chains; nor did the shock create one chasm so dark and wide as that between the master and the slave.

It is one of the sublimest and most awful spectacles in history--that city in ruins--the earth still trembling--the grim and dauntless soldiery collected amid piles of death and ruin; and in such a time, and such a scene, the multitude sensible, not of danger, but of wrong, and rising, not to succour, but to revenge: all that should have disarmed a feebler enmity, giving fire to theirs; the dreadest calamity their blessing--dismay their hope it was as if the Great Mother herself had summoned her children to vindicate the long-abused, the all inalienable heritage derived from her; and the stir of the angry elements was but the announcement of an armed and solemn union between nature and the oppressed.

IX. Fortunately for Sparta, the danger was not altogether unforeseen. After the confusion and horror of the earthquake, and while the people, dispersed, were seeking to save their effects, Archidamus, who, four years before, had succeeded to the throne of Lacedaemon, ordered the trumpets to sound as to arms. That wonderful superiority of man over matter which habit and discipline can effect, and which was ever so visible among the Spartans, constituted their safety at that hour. Forsaking the care of their property, the Spartans seized their arms, flocked around their king, and drew up in disciplined array. In her most imminent crisis, Sparta was thus saved. The helots approached, wild, disorderly, and tumultuous; they came intent only to plunder and to slay; they expected to find scattered and affrighted foes--they found a formidable army; their tyrants were still their lords. They saw, paused, and fled, scattering themselves over the country--exciting all they met to rebellion, and soon, joined with the Messenians, kindred to them by blood and ancient reminiscences of heroic struggles, they seized that same Ithome which their hereditary Aristodemus had before occupied with unforgotten valour. This they fortified; and, occupying also the neighbouring lands, declared open war upon their lords. As the Messenians were the more worthy enemy, so the general insurrection is known by the name of the Third Messenian War.

X. While these events occurred in Sparta, Cimon, intrusting to others the continued siege of Thasos, had returned to Athens (179). He found his popularity already shaken, and his power endangered. The democratic party had of late regained the influence it had lost on the exile of Themistocles. Pericles, son of Xanthippus (the accuser of Miltiades), had, during the last six years, insensibly risen into reputation: the house of Miltiades was fated to bow before the race of Xanthippus, and hereditary opposition ended in the old hereditary results. Born of one of the loftiest families of Athens, distinguished by the fame as the fortunes of his father, who had been linked with Aristides in command of the Athenian fleet, and in whose name had been achieved the victory of Mycale, the young Pericles found betimes an easy opening to his brilliant genius and his high ambition. He had nothing to contend against but his own advantages. The beauty of his countenance, the sweetness of his voice, and the blandness of his address, reminded the oldest citizens of Pisistratus; and this resemblance is said to have excited against him a popular jealousy which he found it difficult to surmount. His youth was passed alternately in the camp and in the schools. He is the first of the great statesmen of his country who appears to have prepared himself for action by study; Anaxagoras, Pythoclides, and Damon were his tutors, and he was early eminent in all the lettered accomplishments of his time. By degrees, accustoming the people to his appearance in public life, he became remarkable for an elaborate and impassioned eloquence, hitherto unknown. With his intellectual and meditative temperament all was science; his ardour in action regulated by long forethought, his very words by deliberate preparation. Till his time, oratory, in its proper sense, as a study and an art, was uncultivated in Athens. Pisistratus is said to have been naturally eloquent, and the vigorous mind of Themistocles imparted at once persuasion and force to his counsels. But Pericles, aware of all the advantages to be gained by words, embellished words with every artifice that his imagination could suggest. His speeches were often written compositions, and the novel dazzle of their diction, and that consecutive logic which preparation alone can impart to language, became irresistible to a people that had itself become a Pericles. Universal civilization, universal poetry, had rendered the audience susceptible and fastidious; they could appreciate the ornate and philosophical harangues of Pericles; and, the first to mirror to themselves the intellectual improvements they had made, the first to represent the grace and enlightenment, as Themistocles had been the first to represent the daring and enterprise, of his time, the son of Xanthippus began already to eclipse that very Cimon whose qualities prepared the way for him.

XI. We must not suppose, that in the contests between the aristocratic and popular parties, the aristocracy were always on one side. Such a division is never to be seen in free constitutions. There is always a sufficient party of the nobles whom conviction, ambition, or hereditary predilections will place at the head of the popular movement; and it is by members of the privileged order that the order itself is weakened. Athens in this respect, therefore, resembled England, and as now in the latter state, so then at Athens, it was often the proudest, the wealthiest, the most high-born of the aristocrats that gave dignity and success to the progress of democratic opinion. There, too, the vehemence of party frequently rendered politics an hereditary heirloom; intermarriages kept together men of similar factions; and the memory of those who had been the martyrs or the heroes of a cause mingled with the creed of their descendants. Thus, it was as natural that one of the race of that Clisthenes who had expelled the Pisistratides, and popularized the constitution, should embrace the more liberal side, as that a Russell should follow out in one age the principles for which his ancestor perished in another. So do our forefathers become sponsors for ourselves. The mother of Pericles was the descendant of Clisthenes; and though Xanthippus himself was of the same party as Aristides, we may doubt, by his prosecution of Miltiades as well as by his connexion with the Alcmaeonids, whether he ever cordially co-operated with the views and the ambition of Cimon. However this be, his brilliant son cast himself at once into the arms of the more popular faction, and opposed with all his energy the aristocratic predilections of Cimon. Not yet, however, able to assume the lead to which he aspired (for it had now become a matter of time as well as intellect to rise), he ranged himself under Ephialtes, a personage of whom history gives us too scanty details, although he enjoyed considerable influence, increased by his avowed jealousy of the Spartans and his own unimpeachable integrity.

XII. It is noticeable, that men who become the leaders of the public, less by the spur of passion than by previous study and conscious talent--men whom thought and letters prepare for enterprise--are rarely eager to advance themselves too soon. Making politics a science, they are even fastidiously alive to the qualities and the experience demanded for great success; their very self-esteem renders them seemingly modest; they rely upon time and upon occasion; and, pushed forward rather by circumstance than their own exertions, it is long before their ambition and their resources are fully developed. Despite all his advantages, the rise of Pericles was gradual.

On the return of Cimon the popular party deemed itself sufficiently strong to manifest its opposition. The expedition to Thasos had not been attended with results so glorious as to satisfy a people pampered by a series of triumphs. Cimon was deemed culpable for not having taken advantage of the access into Macedonia, and added that country to the Athenian empire. He was even suspected and accused of receiving bribes from Alexander, the king of Macedon. Pericles (180) is said to have taken at first an active part in this prosecution; but when the cause came on, whether moved by the instances of Cimon's sister, or made aware of the injustice of the accusation, he conducted himself favourably towards the accused. Cimon himself treated the charges with a calm disdain; the result was worthy of Athens and himself. He was honourably acquitted.

XIII. Scarce was this impeachment over, when a Spartan ambassador arrived at Athens to implore her assistance against the helots; the request produced a vehement discussion.

Ephialtes strongly opposed the proposition to assist a city, sometimes openly, always heartily, inimical to Athens. "Much better," he contended, "to suffer her pride to be humbled, and her powers of mischief to be impaired." Ever supporting and supported by the Lacedaemonian party, whether at home or abroad, Cimon, on the other hand, maintained the necessity of marching to the relief of Sparta. "Do not," he said, almost sublimely--and his words are reported to have produced a considerable impression on that susceptible assembly-- "do not suffer Greece to be mutilated, nor deprive Athens of her companion!"

The more generous and magnanimous counsel prevailed with a generous and magnanimous people; and Cimon was sent to the aid of Sparta at the head of a sufficient force. It may be observed, as a sign of the political morality of the time, that the wrongs of the helots appear to have been forgotten. But such is the curse of slavery, that it unfits its victims to be free, except by preparations and degrees. And civilization, humanity, and social order are often enlisted on the wrong side, in behalf of the oppressors, from the license and barbarity natural to the victories of the oppressed. A conflict between the negroes and the planters in modern times may not be unanalogous to that of the helots and Spartans; and it is often a fatal necessity to extirpate the very men we have maddened, by our own cruelties, to the savageness of beasts.

It would appear that, during the revolt of the helots and Messenians, which lasted ten years, the Athenians, under Cimon, marched twice (181) to the aid of the Spartans. In the first (B. C. 464) they probably drove the scattered insurgents into the city of Ithome; in the second (B. C. 461) they besieged the city. In the interval Thasos surrendered (B. C. 463); the inhabitants were compelled to level their walls, to give up their shipping, to pay the arrear of tribute, to defray the impost punctually in future, and to resign all claims on the continent and the mines.

XIV. Thus did the Athenians establish their footing on the Thracian continent, and obtain the possession of the golden mines, which they mistook for wealth. In the second expedition of the Athenians, the long-cherished jealousy between themselves and the Spartans could no longer be smothered. The former were applied to especially from their skill in sieges, and their very science galled perhaps the pride of the martial Spartans. While, as the true art of war was still so little understood, that even the Athenians were unable to carry the town by assault, and compelled to submit to the tedious operations of a blockade, there was ample leisure for those feuds which the uncongenial habits and long rivalry of the nations necessarily produced. Proud of their Dorian name, the Spartans looked on the Ionic race of Athens as aliens. Severe in their oligarchic discipline, they regarded the Athenian Demus as innovators; and, in the valour itself of their allies, they detected a daring and restless energy which, if serviceable now, might easily be rendered dangerous hereafter. They even suspected the Athenians of tampering with the helots--led, it may be, to that distrust by the contrast, which they were likely to misinterpret, between their own severity and the Athenian mildness towards the servile part of their several populations, and also by the existence of a powerful party at Athens, which had opposed the assistance Cimon afforded. With their usual tranquil and wary policy, the Spartan government attempted to conceal their real fears, and simply alleging they had no further need of their assistance, dismissed the Athenians. But that people, constitutionally irritable, perceiving that, despite this hollow pretext, the other allies, including the obnoxious Aeginetans, were retained, received their dismissal as an insult. Thinking justly that they had merited a nobler confidence from the Spartans, they gave way to their first resentment, and disregarding the league existing yet between themselves and Sparta against the Mede--the form of which had survived the spirit--they entered into an alliance with the Argives, hereditary enemies of Sparta, and in that alliance the Aleuads of Thessaly were included.

XV. The obtaining of these decrees by the popular party was the prelude to the fall of Cimon. The talents of that great man were far more eminent in war than peace; and despite his real or affected liberality of demeanour, he wanted either the faculty to suit the time, or the art to conceal his deficiencies. Raised to eminence by Spartan favour, he had ever too boldly and too imprudently espoused the Spartan cause. At first, when the Athenians obtained their naval ascendency--and it was necessary to conciliate Sparta--the partiality with which Cimon was regarded by that state was his recommendation; now when, no longer to be conciliated, Sparta was to be dreaded and opposed, it became his ruin. It had long been his custom to laud the Spartans at the expense of the Athenians, and to hold out their manners as an example to the admiration of his countrymen. It was a favourite mode of reproof with him--"The Spartans would not have done this." It was even remembered against him that he had called his son Lacedaemonius. These predilections had of late rankled in the popular mind; and now, when the Athenian force had been contumeliously dismissed, it was impossible to forget that Cimon had obtained the decree of the relief, and that the mortification which resulted from it was the effect of his counsels.

Public spirit ran high against the Spartans, and at the head of the Spartan faction in Athens stood Cimon.

XVI. But at this time, other events, still more intimately connected with the Athenian politics, conspired to weaken the authority of this able general. Those constitutional reforms, which are in reality revolutions under a milder name, were now sweeping away the last wrecks of whatever of the old aristocratic system was still left to the Athenian commonwealth.

We have seen that the democratic party had increased in power by the decree of Aristides, which opened all offices to all ranks. This, as yet, was productive less of actual than of moral effects. The liberal opinions possessed by a part of the aristocracy, and the legitimate influence which in all countries belongs to property and high descent (greatest, indeed, where the countries are most free)--secured, as a general rule, the principal situations in the state to rank and wealth. But the moral effect of the decree was to elevate the lower classes with a sense of their own power and dignity, and every victory achieved over a foreign foe gave new authority to the people whose voices elected the leader--whose right arms won the battle.

The constitution previous to Solon was an oligarchy of birth. Solon rendered it an aristocracy of property. Clisthenes widened its basis from property to population; as we have already seen, it was, in all probability, Clisthenes also who weakened the more illicit and oppressive influences of wealth, by establishing the ballot or secret suffrage instead of the open voting, which was common in the time of Solon. It is the necessary constitution of society, that when one class obtains power, the ancient checks to that power require remodelling. The Areopagus was designed by Solon as the aristocratic balance to the popular assembly. But in all states in which the people and the aristocracy are represented, the great blow to the aristocratic senate is given, less by altering its own constitution than by infusing new elements of democracy into the popular assembly. The old boundaries are swept away, not by the levelling of the bank, but by the swelling of the torrent. The checks upon democracy ought to be so far concealed as to be placed in the representation of the democracy itself; for checks upon its progress from without are but as fortresses to be stormed; and what, when latent, was the influence of a friend, when apparent, is the resistance of a foe.

The Areopagus, the constitutional bulwark of the aristocratic party of Athens, became more and more invidious to the people. And now, when Cimon resisted every innovation on that assembly, he only ensured his own destruction, while he expedited the policy he denounced. Ephialtes directed all the force of the popular opinion against this venerable senate; and at length, though not openly assisted by Pericles (182), who took no prominent part in the contention, that influential statesman succeeded in crippling its functions and limiting its authority.

XVII. I do not propose to plunge the reader into the voluminous and unprofitable controversy on the exact nature of the innovations of Ephialtes which has agitated the students of Germany. It appears to me most probable that the Areopagus retained the right of adjudging cases of homicide (183), and little besides of its ancient constitutional authority, that it lost altogether its most dangerous power in the indefinite police it had formerly exercised over the habits and morals of the people, that any control of the finances was wisely transferred to the popular senate (184), that its irresponsible character was abolished, and it was henceforth rendered accountable to the people. Such alterations were not made without exciting the deep indignation of the aristocratic faction.

In all state reforms a great and comprehensive mind does not so much consider whether each reform is just, as what will be the ultimate ascendency given to particular principles. Cimon preferred to all constitutions a limited aristocracy, and his practical experience regarded every measure in its general tendency towards or against the system which he honestly advocated.

XVIII. The struggle between the contending parties and principles had commenced before Cimon's expedition to Ithome; the mortification connected with that event, in weakening Cimon, weakened the aristocracy itself. Still his fall was not immediate (185), nor did it take place as a single and isolated event, but as one of the necessary consequences of the great political change effected by Ephialtes. All circumstances, however, conspired to place the son of Miltiades in a situation which justified the suspicion and jealousy of the Athenians. Of all the enemies, how powerful soever, that Athens could provoke, none were so dangerous as Lacedaemon.

Dark, wily, and implacable, the rugged queen of the Peloponnesus reared her youth in no other accomplishments than those of stratagem and slaughter. Her enmity against Athens was no longer smothered. Athens had everything to fear, not less from her influence than her armies. It was not, indeed, so much from the unsheathed sword as from the secret councils of Sparta that danger was to be apprehended. It cannot be too often remembered, that among a great portion of the Athenian aristocracy, the Spartan government maintained a considerable and sympathetic intelligence. That government ever sought to adapt and mould all popular constitutions to her own oligarchic model; and where she could not openly invade, she secretly sought to undermine, the liberties of her neighbours. Thus, in addition to all fear from an enemy in the field, the Athenian democracy were constantly excited to suspicion against a spy within the city: always struggling with an aristocratic party, which aimed at regaining the power it had lost, there was just reason to apprehend that that party would seize any occasion to encroach upon the popular institutions; every feud with Sparta consequently seemed to the Athenian people, nor without cause, to subject to intrigue and conspiracy their civil freedom; and (as always happens with foreign interference, whether latent or avowed) exasperated whatever jealousies already existed against those for whose political interests the interference was exerted. Bearing this in mind, we shall see no cause to wonder at the vehement opposition to which Cimon was now subjected. We are driven ourselves to search deeply into the causes which led to his prosecution, as to that of other eminent men in Athens, from want of clear and precise historical details. Plutarch, to whom, in this instance, we are compelled chiefly to resort, is a most equivocal authority. Like most biographers, his care is to exalt his hero, though at the expense of that hero's countrymen; and though an amiable writer, nor without some semi-philosophical views in morals, his mind was singularly deficient in grasp and in comprehension. He never penetrates the subtle causes of effects. He surveys the past, sometimes as a scholar, sometimes as a taleteller, sometimes even as a poet, but never as a statesman. Thus, we learn from him little of the true reasons for the ostracism, either of Aristides, of Themistocles, or of Cimon--points now intricate, but which might then, alas! have been easily cleared up by a profound inquirer, to the acquittal alike of themselves and of their judges. To the natural deficiencies of Plutarch we must add his party predilections. He was opposed to democratic opinions--and that objection, slight in itself, or it might be urged against many of the best historians and the wisest thinkers, is rendered weighty in that he was unable to see, that in all human constitutions perfection is impossible, that we must take the evil with the good, and that what he imputes to one form of government is equally attributable to another. For in what monarchy, what oligarchy, have not great men been misunderstood, and great merits exposed to envy!

Thus, in the life of Cimon, Plutarch says that it was "on a slight pretext" (186) that that leader of the Spartan party in Athens was subjected to the ostracism. We have seen enough to convince us that, whatever the pretext, the reasons, at least, were grave and solid-- that they were nothing short of Cimon's unvarying ardour for, and constant association with, the principles and the government of that state most inimical to Athens, and the suspicious policy of which was, in all times--at that time especially--fraught with danger to her power, her peace, and her institutions. Could we penetrate farther into the politics of the period, we might justify the Athenians yet more. Without calling into question the integrity and the patriotism of Cimon, without supposing that he would have entered into any intrigue against the Athenian independence of foreign powers--a supposition his subsequent conduct effectually refutes--he might, as a sincere and warm partisan of the nobles, and a resolute opposer of the popular party, have sought to restore at home the aristocratic balance of power, by whatever means his great rank, and influence, and connexion with the Lacedaemonian party could afford him. We are told, at least, that he not only opposed all the advances of the more liberal party--that he not only stood resolutely by the interests and dignities of the Areopagus, which had ceased to harmonize with the more modern institutions, but that he expressly sought to restore certain prerogatives which that assembly had formally lost during his foreign expeditions, and that he earnestly endeavoured to bring back the whole constitution to the more aristocratic government established by Clisthenes. It is one thing to preserve, it is another to restore. A people may be deluded under popular pretexts out of the rights they have newly acquired, but they never submit to be openly despoiled of them. Nor can we call that ingratitude which is but the refusal to surrender to the merits of an individual the acquisitions of a nation.

All things considered, then, I believe, that if ever ostracism was justifiable, it was so in the case of Cimon--nay, it was perhaps absolutely essential to the preservation of the constitution. His very honesty made him resolute in his attempts against that constitution. His talents, his rank, his fame, his services, only rendered those attempts more dangerous.

XIX. Could the reader be induced to view, with an examination equally dispassionate, the several ostracisms of Aristides and Themistocles, he might see equal causes of justification, both in the motives and in the results. The first was absolutely necessary for the defeat of the aristocratic party, and the removal of restrictions on those energies which instantly found the most glorious vents for action; the second was justified by a similar necessity that produced similar effects. To impartial eyes a people may be vindicated without traducing those whom a people are driven to oppose. In such august and complicated trials the accuser and defendant may be both innocent.

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