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sition, but earlier in reference than the other three. It ought to describe the state of manners in the times of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, for they are the principal guests at it, and the feast itself is given by a royal member of the literary Pleiades, Periander the king of Corinth. Solon, the great legislator of Athens, forming one of the most prominent figures in the group, this banquet is not altogether unconnected with our present subject. A convivial party was not quite so easily arranged in those days as it is now; but embassies, visits to oracles, and a peculiar taste in monarchs, which led them to apply to learned men for assistance in the subjects of their epistolary correspondence, often threw men of merit together in large numbers. By one or other of these means, Æsop the fabulist and Anacharsis the Scythian are added to the present society. A physician (Diocles), a poet (Chersias), and Neiloxenus, a stranger from Naucratium, with a royal packet, which will be better understood hereafter, are among the decent gentlemanly kind of men (ETIEIXEIS avdges) so necessary as foils to the greater luminaries at a well-arranged feast. An admirable opportunity, and such as would satisfy the most passionate readers of romance, offered for introducing the celebrated lyrist, Arion. The narrator has made use of the circumstance to bring forward, not the lyrist himself, but all the stories he could collect on the subject of dolphins, and certainly, after the character here given of those tenants of the deep, no blame can attach to the Saints of the Romish church for making them, as they commonly did, in after-times, their substitutes for post-horses and packets. It is to the worthy son of Esculapius, anxious that matters of fact should be described as they really occurred,' that we are indebted for the materials which the great biographer of Charonea professes to have afterwards thrown into this narrative.
There is an amenity about this little performance, which makes us regret that we are obliged to quit it hastily. The petty bustle of town preparation antecedent to the quiet serenity of a sea-side retirement-the politeness of Periander, who, to obviate the inconveniencies of dust and summer heats, sends a carriage to convey each of the guests to the scene of action-Thales, like a true philosopher, preferring the use of his legs to this piece of royal luxury, and making his way over the quiet fields to the place of rendezvous--the amusing conversation with which himself and his companions beguile the road, all these open the way for the Banquet with touches as delightful (and we can say nothing more)
In the Greek language of Plutarch's day (for it was otherwise in Aristotle's time) Bing held the middle place between Tux (ordinary, common-place,) and xaλeçxaya (a gentleman par excellence, xaта THY TEλEιav ageTny, as Aristotle, with his usual accuracy, expresses it.)
as are to be found in the Complete Angler of honest Walton. Anacharsis at his toilette, and his rude locks made decent by Periander's daughter running her princely fingers through them, (combs had not yet been invented,)—the grateful savage repaying her labours by copious and willing' details of the diet and the purgations which his countrymen were subjected to in illness-the indignation of Alexidemus (an illegitimate son of Thrasybulus) at finding himself placed at table with Æolians, islanders and what not?-the good kings of Egypt and Ethiopia interchanging a course of harmless conundrums, and staking whole villages and towns upon the success of their little problems, (literary ingenuity has never since borne quite so high a price,)-the wise men of Greece kindly clubbing their aid for a solution, when the royal heads were incompetent, these and other pictures of manners are what we should wish, if time permitted, to bring before the
If the Banquet of Plutarch does not leave upon the mind so strong an impression of genius, as the Symposia of his two great rivals, it reminds us more forcibly of that feast, of which the guests could say that the following day's remembrances were as agreeable as the first day's enjoyments. There are learned men in it, who speak sentences, (for it was the fashion of the times,) but not dissertations: the tone of conversation is lively without flippancy, and grave without austerity,-no one pushes forward, to shine at the expense of others, and no one hangs back, that he may watch who commits himself: there is a modesty and a frugality about the repast itself, though given in a court; and if the guests drink heartily, they do not get drunk. These are very imperfect symptoms of a Greek symposium, as they are traced in = the comic, and even in the prose writers of Greece: but two things must be taken into consideration; the scene is laid in a
Thus the old dicast in the Wasps, and no doubt he speaks from professional knowledge,
An you love me, son,
Beware of drink!-No wine;-from wine come blows,-
Epicharmus traces the progress of a Grecian entertainment still more methodically.
Is still the parent of a feast; a feast
To drinking leads: drinking breeds revelry,
period of Grecian history, when the demoralising influence of absolute democracy had not yet begun to be felt; and the description is furnished by a person, who had transacted business in courts, and on whom a paternal injunction had been laid at his outset in life, to say we, and not I, in all his transactions with the public-an injunction which necessarily made Plutarch the earliest of reviewers, as his admirable Lives sufficiently testify. There are even women at this banquet, (for we find we cannot dismiss this feast so hastily as we intended,) who are neither flute-performers, nor dancing women: they say nothing* at dinner, and they retire as soon as the large goblet begins to circulate. As the feast is entirely literary, the ladies (the wife and daughter of the royal host) appear in a becoming undress, without gold, without ornaments, without finery,-it was not, in truth, quite a matter of choice for Periander, apparently suspicious, that some previous injunctions might not have their due effect, had for complete security hidden these temptations to substitute exterior for interior ornament. (υ γαρ μονον των αλλων, αλλα και της γυναικος αφελών και αποκρυψας τον συνήθη κοσμον. κ. τ.λ.
The Aristophanic Banquet, though connecting us far more closely with our subject, will not detain us much longer than the preceding. This little imaginary feast, which, in point of substantiality, resembles the shadowy entertainment given to the tantalized Shacabac by the noble Barmecide, forms a sort of appendix to an attack upon Athenian jurisprudence, and arises out of the zealous and unwearied endeavours of a young Athenian to convert his father (an inveterate dicast, grown old in all his country's prejudices) into a gentleman. The democracy was, of course, put into danger by such an attempt, and the usual watch-word on such occasions resounds from the indignant
* When it is intimated that one of the two ladies present at this feast is the earliest specimen on record of a Bas Bleu, the reader will easily anticipate what might have been the consequence of admitting such a character into the Banquet; and perhaps he will still more congratulate himself when we add that the talent of Eumetis, the young lady in question, lay chiefly in the composition of conundrums and charades. For her skill in these she was much bruited (regißonroc); and her reputation had naturally reached the courts of Egypt and Ethiopia, where this small literature (we believe it is as well that Warburton is not in the way to hear us) was in high request. The Naucratian, with a taste obviously formed upon that of his royal master, and who was actually at that moment bearer of a sealed packet to Bias of Priene, containing, as he had every reason to believe, a new conundrum to be solved, catches eagerly at the first mention of Eumetis's name, and pronounces a warm panegyric on her. This rapturous admiration receives a polite rebuke from Thales, and the fair princess's merits are set upon a much higher ground: her wonderful wisdom, her political intellect, her benevolence and gentleness of manners, and the kindly dispositions which she inspired in her father towards his subjects, formed, according to Thales, the groundwork of her high reputation.
chorus: A tyranny! a tyranny! the Constitution is at an end! the liberties of Athens are no more!
'Yes, yes, believe we're on the eve of some great revolution!' The son, however, perseveres: having discarded, with much difficulty, the judicial wardrobe, and invested the paternal-footfingers, we believe we must call them,* with a pair of Spartan shoes, he proceeds to lecture him on a more important point -the tone of conversation to be used at good tables. Those whom it may concern will be happy to see that discourse upon boxing was reckoned very tasty conversation at Athens.
Son. But come-suppose now you frequent, with wits
I've a thousand, boy.
Trite, sir, trite!-the figments
I'm familiar with them.
"Once upon a time
Hold, in heav'n's name-
Incautious readers may probably conceive, that the substitution of the word feet' would save all the difficulty. By no means. A great injustice would thus be done to a dissentient toe in the dicast's right foot, (of truly Attic breed, as the honest possessor declares,) and which stoutly resisted these attempts to make it emigrate (the nearest relative word we can find) into a pair of Spartan shoes.
Literally, right-handed men. Of the superstitions of the Greeks, as directed by right and left, it is unnecessary to speak; the epithets right-handed man and left-handed man grew necessarily out of these ominous opinions as common terms of eulogy and reproach. Thus the comic poet, with that agreeable impudence and self-complacent tone of superiority, which sat as well upon the writers of the Old Comedy, as upon some modern Reviewers.
After much and deep reflexion | I this last conclusion draw;
VOL. XXIV. NO. XLVIII.
What would you then?
Then shift your tone: tell how Epheudion box'd,
"Dolt, blockhead, idiot, left-handed wretch,
On the alert-what have you that smacks richest
Father (eagerly.) There I am with you, boy! (pauses, then emphati
cally) the very prime,
And top of all my feats was when I stole
A plague upon your vine-props! vine-props, quotha!
There was not much to be hoped for on the side of conversa tion from a person of this cast. The filial tutor proceeds therefore to a less arduous task-the carriage of body necessary to be observed in good society at Athens. The lecture, besides infor
Cleisthenes and Androcles, it need scarcely be observed, were men of infamous lives, For an account of the sacred Athenian embassies, called Osagiat, see a delightful chapter
in the French Anacharsis.
A play of words upon the double meaning of the word Sapa. To a people of punning as the Athenians, the favourite exercise of the palæstra naturally furnished many, the humour of which can now be but faintly appreciated.