صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Let us now turn to what appears to have more of the peculiarities of the ordeal, as it existed among our own ancestors; and in so doing we shall look first at the trial by single combat, as that mode of obtaining a decision of God, which seems to be most suited to warlike character.

The issue of every battle may be regarded as a divine decision, and in this sense Chaereas is right, when he says: "X psy §pe)0s; thy domy xpivey, #3 & #3m veyixip.a tapå to 3ozalovácsp &xaatj táNeuo; 7&p &ptoto; xpità: too xpesttowó; te xai Yespous. In some contests, however, this is more the case than in others.

Strabo" calls it an “$90; ta\ay tsy ‘EX).svoy,” to seek a decision by single combat. Wachsmuth” considers the principle which originated the settlement of national quarrels by single combat, according to a public agreement, to have been the idea of a representation of the two states. This idea appears to us too abstract for that age; our opinion is that these single combats were fought, in order that the lives of the soldiers, who were less interested in the contest, might be spared. Schömann, in his Antiquitates juris publici Graecorum, expresses an opinion similar to ours. This view is confirmed by the words of Menelaus, Iliad III. 98:

[ocr errors]

Our opinion is strengthened also by the words of the Alban leader to the king of Rome, in the case of the combat between the Horatii and Curiatii:* “ineamus aliquam viam, qua, utri utris imperent, sine magna clade, sine multo sanguine utriusque populi decerni possit.” We may compare also the words of Hyllus in Herodotus:” 6: xpéow in toy psy atpatów to otpatū ol āyaxvöovečew oup33}\ovta. The motive then seems clear. The character of the ordeal becomes apparent, when all the other soldiers retire, and those who are most interested, that is, the leaders of the hostile armies, alone undertake the decisive contest. Thus in Homer, Menelaus and Paris. The solemn sacrifices which precede the battle do not refer directly to the combat itself, but to its consequences. They serve to place whatever advantages may result from victory to either party, under the protection of heaven, and to secure them by an appeal to the gods. For this purpose also Menelaus demands the presence of Priam, as a prudent, pious, old man. Thus these sacrifices are important, although they do not of themselves constitute the battle an ordeal. The idea of an ordeal, of an appeal to heaven to decide the quarrel and defend the just cause, is seen in the words of Menelaus:

* Chariton, viii. 4. * Livy I. 23. * viii. p. 357. 1* Ix. 26. ** Hellen. Alterthumskunde, 1. p. 140,

comp. p. 184.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Conscious of the justice of his cause, he has expected the assistance of the gods. And when his sword is broken, and he has thrown his lance at his opponent without effect, he thus expresses his anger at the conduct of Zeus:

[ocr errors]

* The petition contained in these side, distinguishes them from such as prayers, namely, that Zeus would grant those in Iliad vi. 305, vii. 202, xvi. victory to him who had justice on his 233.

The declaration of Eteocles, in the Phoenissae of Euripides,” that he wished to decide by single combat his quarrel with his brother, and the prayer of the two, as well as the description in the twelfth book of the Æneid, of the fight between Turnus and AEneas, are evidently modelled after Homer. We may compare, further, the challenge given by Hyllus, the leader of the Heraclidae, to the bravest in the hostile army, in order that the claims of himself and his companions to their ancestral possessions might be decided;” also the fight between Phrynon, as champion of Athens, and Pittacus, as champion of Mitylene, about the possession of Sigeum.” The case is similar to these, when out of each of the hostile armies a single combatant is chosen. In some instances, several individuals were selected from each host, men equal in strength. In such a case, physical power could not decide the victory for either party, unless consciousness of a good cause inspired trust in the protection of heaven; or rather, unless the gods themselves, by giving victory, defended the right. The fight between three hundred chosen Spartans and Argives about Thyrea,” and the choice of trigemini in the war between Tegea and Pheneos,” are examples. Every one will, in connection with the last instance, immediately think of the combat between the Horatii and Curiatii, (trigemini fratres, nec aetate nec viribus dispares,)” which is likewise compared by J. Grimm. There are other two well known duels somewhat similar, viz., that between the Gallic giant and T. Manlius,” and that between a Gaul, likewise of gigantic proportions, and M. Valerius.” In these cases, there is indeed no evidence that the champions were chosen by their respective armies, or that there was any public agreement to accept the issue of the duel as a settlement of the quarrel. But in the first case, the similarity to an ordeal consists in this, that the Gaul, in giving his challenge, says: “quem nunc Roma virum fortissimum habet, procedat agedum ad pugnam, ut noster duorum eventus ostendat, utra gens bello sit melior;” in the circumstance that the Roman dictator dismisses Manlius with the words: “perge, et nomen Romanum invictum, juvantibus diis, praesta;” and finally, in the consequence of the fight, namely, the hasty retreat of the Gauls on the night after the fall of their champion. As to the battle of M. Valerius, it is represented by Livy as having been completely under the sanction of the gods.” The raven, which assists the Roman, is in this case not without importance. Of the particular usages of the Greeks and Romans at such duels, nothing is stated, except what is mentioned by Homer respecting the necessary preparations for the combat:”

17 Vers. 1230, foll. * Plutarch, Parallel. Graec. et Ro* Herodot. Ix. 26; Pausan. VIII.45. man. III. p.380; Stobaeus ap. Schömann, 1° Strabo, xiii. p. 600; Diog. Laert. 1. c. p. 369.

in Pittac. 1. p. 50, ed. Hübner; Hero- * Livy, 1.24.
dot. v. 95. Livy, vii. 9. foll.
* Herodot. 1.82; Pausan. 11. 38. ed. * Livy, vii. 26. foll.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

* We refer chiefly to the words: * P. 931. “minus insigne certamen humanum nu- * Aristoph. Equit. 83; Plutarch, mine interposito deorum factum;” fur- Themist. c. 31; Plin. Nat. Hist. xi. 90, ther: “Camillus laetum militem victoria and xxviii. 41 ; Compare Niebuhr's tribuni,letum tampraesentibus acsecun- Vorträge über alte Geschichte, vol. i. p. dis diis ire in proclium jubet ;” lastly : 434. “dii hominesque illi affuere pugnae.” * Herodot. 111.15.

* Iliad, 111. 314. foll. 39 v1.1. c. 25.

Regarding the “eagle stone,” (ästitmo,) we can only repeat what Grimm brings forward, since Dioscorides” is not at our command, and neither Pauly's, nor Ersch and Gruber's Encyclopädie furnishes any information on the subject. Whether, however, in the fact stated by Grimm, that this stone, baked up in food, was sometimes given to one suspected of a theft, we find the proof of a wide spread or ancient belief among the Greeks, the evidence adduced is insufficient to enable us to decide. The Scholium of Acron on Horace's Epist. I. 10, 9, viz. “cum in servis suspicio furti habetur, ducunt ad sacerdotem, qui crustum panis carmine infectum dat singulis, quod cum ederint, manifestum furti reum asserit,” is very indefinite. The words of the poet, however, on which the Scholium is founded, are not at all to be explained in this manner. These words are:

[merged small][ocr errors]

* reto oxns arexos, 5, 161. Comp. Henr. Stephan. Thesaur. * Iv. 5.

« السابقةمتابعة »