Page images

Solon says in his poems,

" I long for wealth, but not procured

By meanis unholy." Now Poplicola not only possessed wealth honourably acquired, but also was ablo to spend it, much to his credit. In relieving the needy. Thus if Solon was the wisest, Poplicola was certainly the most fortunato of inen; for what Solon prayed for as the greatest blessing, Poplicola possessed and enjoyed to the end of his days.

II. Thus has Solon done honour to Poplicola; and ho again honoured Soion by regarding him as the best model a man could follow in establishing a free constitution : fur he took away tho excessivo power and dignity of tho consuls and made them inoffensive to the people, and indeed made use of many of solon's own laws; as he ein. powered the people to clect their own consuls, and gavo defendants a right of appeal to the peoplo from other courts, just as Solon had done. llo did not, like Solon, make two senates, but he increased tho cxisting ono to nearly doublo its number. llis grounds for tho appointment of quæstors was to give the consul leisure for moro important matters, if he was an honest man; and if ho was a bad man, to remove the opportunity of fraud which he would have had if he were supreme over the state and the treasury at once. In hatred of tyrants Poplicola exceeded Solon, for he fixed tho penalty for a man who inight bo proved to be attempting to make himself king, whereas the Roman allowed any ono to kill him without trial. And whilo Solon justly priled himself upon his having been offered the opportunity to make himself despot, with the full consent of his follow-countrymen, and yet having refused it, Poplicola deserves even greater credit for having been placed in an office of almost despotic power, and having made it more popular, not using the privileges with which he was entrusted. Indeed Solon seems to have been the first to perceive that a people

“Obeys its rulers bret, When not the froe, yet not too much opprest." III. The relief of debtors was a device peculiar to Solon,

which more than anything else confirmed the liberty of the citizens. For laws to establish equality aro of no use if poor men aro prevented from enjoying it because of their debts; and in the states which appear to be the most free, men become mere slaves to the rich, and conduct the whole business of the stato at their dictation. It should be especially noted that although an abolition of debt would naturally produce a civil war, yet this measure of Solon's, liko an unusual but powerful doso of medicino, actually put an end to tho existing condition of internal strife; for tho well-known probity of Solon's character outweighed the discredit of tho means to which ho resorted. In fact Solon began his public life with greater glory than Poplicola, for he was the leading spirit, and followed do man, but entirely single handed offccted the most important reforms; while Poplicola was more enviable and fortunato at the close of his career.

Solon himself saw his own constitution overthrown, while that of Poplicola preserved order in the city down to tho timo of the civil wars; and the reason was that Solon, as soon as ho had enacted his laws, went on his travels, leaving them written on wooden tablets, defencolegs against all assailants; whereas Poplicola remained at humo, acted as consul, and by his statesmanship ensured the success and permanence of the new constitution. Moreover, Solon could not stop Peisistratus, although he perccived his designs, but was forced to sce a despotism established; while Poplicola destroyed a monarchy which had existed for many years, showing equal virtue with Solon, but greater good fortune and power to enable hiin to carry out his intentions.

IV. With regard to warlike achievements, Daimachus of Platica will not even admit that Solon made the campaign against the Megarians, which we have related; but Poplicola both by strategy and personal valour won many great battles. As a statesman, Solon seems to have acted somewhat childishly in pretending that he was mad, in order to make his speech about Salamis, while Poplicola ran the very greatest risks in driving out the tyrant and crushing the conspiracy. He was especially responsible for the chief criminals being put to death, and thus not only drove the Tarquins out of the city, but cut off and destroyed their hopes of return. And while he showed such vigour in enterprises that required spirit and courago, he was equally admirable in peaceful negotiations and the arts of persuasion ; for he skilfully won over the formidable Porsena to be the friend instead of tho enemy of Romo.

Still we may be reminded that Solon stirred up the Athenians to capture Salamis, which they had given up to the Megarians, while Poplicola withdrew the Romans from a country which they had conquered. We must, however, consider the circumstances undor which these events took place. A subtle politician deals with every thing so as to turn it to the greatest advantage, and will often lose a part in order to save the whole, and by sacrificing somo small advantage gain another more important ono, as did Poplicola on that occasion; for he, by withdrawing from a foreign country, preserved his own, gained the enemy's camp for the Romans, who before were only too glad to save their city from ruin, and at last, by converting his enemy into an arbitrator and winning his causo, obtainca all the fruits of victory: for Porsena put an end to tho war, and left behind him all his war material to show his respeot for the poble character of the consul.


I. THEMISTOKLES came of a family too obscure to entitle him to distinction. His father, Neokles, was a middle-class Athenian citizen, of the township of l’hrcarri and the tribe Leontis. Hlo was baso born on his mother's sido, as the epigram tells us :

“My namo's Abrotonon from Thrace,
I boast not old Atheninn race;
Yet, humble though my lineazo bo,

Thomistokles was born of mo.' Phanias, however, says that the mother of Themistokles was a Carian, not a Thracian, and that her name was not Abrotonon but Euterpo. Manthes even tells us that she came from tho city of Halikarnassus in Caria. All baseborn Athenians were made to assemblo at Kynosarges, a gynunasium outside the walls sacred to Herakles, who was regarded as baso born among the gods because his mother was a mortal; and Themistokles induced soveral youths of noble birth to come to Kynosarges with him and join in the wrestling there, an ingenious device for destroying the exclusive privileges of birth. But, for all that, he evidently was of the blood of Lykomedes; for when the barbarians burned down the temple of tho Initiation at Phlya, which belonged to the whole race of tho descendants of Lykomodes, it was restored by The mistokles, as wo aro told by Simonides.

II. Ilo is agreed by all to havo boon a child of vigorous impulscs, naturally clovor, and inclinod to tako an intorost in important affairs and questions of statesmanship. During his holidays and times of leisuro he did not play and trifle as other children do, but was always found arranging somo speech by himself and thinking it over. The speech was always an attuck on, or a defence of, some one of his playfellows. His schoolmastor was wont to say, " You will be nothing petty, my boy; you will be either a very good or a very bad man.

In his learning, he cared nothing for the exercises intended to form the character, and more showy accomplishments and graces, but eagerly applied himself to all rcal knowledge, trusting to his natural gifts to enable him to master what was thought to be too abstruse for his time of life. In consequence of this, when in society he was ridiculed by those who thought themselves well mannered and well educated, he was obliged to make the somewhat vulgar retort that he could not tune a luto or play upon the harp, but he could make a small and obscuro stato great and glorious.

In spite of all this, Stesimbrotnis says that Themistoklce was a pupil of Anaxagoras, and attended the lectures of Melissus the physicist; but here he is wrong 8 to dates. Melissus was tho general who was opposed to Perikles, a much younger man than Themistokles, when ho was besieging Samos, and Anaxagoras was one of Perikles's friends. One is more inclined to believe those who tell us that Themistokles was a follower and admirer of Mnesi. philus of Phrcarri, who was neither an orator nor a natural philosopher, but a man who hail deeply studied what went by the name of wisdom, but was really political sharp practice and expedients of statesmanship, which he had, as it wäre, inherited as a legacy from Solon. Thoso who in later times mixed up this scienco with forensio devices, and used it, not to deal with the facts of politics, but the abstract ideas of speculative philosophy, were named Sophists. Themistokles used to converse with this man when he had already begun his political career. In his childhood he was capricious and unsteady, his genius, as yet untempered by reason and experience, showing great capacities both for good and evil, and after breaking out into vice, as he himself used afterwards to admit, saying that the colts which are the hardest to break in usually make the most valuablo horscs when properly taught. But as for the stories which suine have fabricated out of this, about his being disinherited by his father, and about his mother oummitting suicido through grief at hør

« PreviousContinue »