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and destruction, possesses the power to embalm its own corruptions and delusions, and erect them into a beacon of imperishable reminiscences for the guidance and instruction of the latest posterity. The Olympic games, with their emblazoned glories and massive monuments, have passed away like a san-illumined vapour, which is exhaled into the air, and leaves no trace to tell us where it hovered ; but the odes of Pindar, in which he has recorded the names and exploits of the victors, are still as fresh and perfect as when they were first written. The passing stream of ages does but petrify and strengthen them against the waves of coming centuries, and they will doubtless
endure till the tide of time itself shall be lost in the ocean of eternity. This is the last, indeed the only trophy that the Olympic games have left behind them, and it is one of which all mankind may be justly proud, for it affords an additional assurance, if such were necessary, that the intellectual soul is a divinity which shall survive its perishable shrine, and enjoy in another world the immortality which it can confer in this.
That the unclassical reader may form some idea of the mode in which this illustrious poet celebrated the victors, we subjoin the shortest, though by no means the best, of his odes, as an appropriate termination to this brief account of the Olympic games.
It must be recollected that these poems were recited or sung by a chorus, to the accompaniment of musical instruments, dancing, and action. The first stanza, called strophe, was sung while they danced round the altars of the gods ; in the second, called antistrophe, the dance was inverted. The lesser stanza was named the epode, in which they sang standing still.
THE TWELFTH OLYMPIC ODE. Inscribed to Ergoteles, the son of Philanor of Himera, who, in the seventy-seventh Olympiad (472 years B. C.), gained the prize in the foot Tace called Dolichos, or the long coursé.
Daughter of Eleutherian Jove,
Protectress Fortune, hear!
in her wild course the rapid vessel guides
And in deliberating states presides.
Toss'd by thy uncertain gale,
surge of joy ;
Can wisdom pierce the cloud. on our most sanguine views th' event deceives,
And veils in sudden grief the smiling ray: Of, when with wo the mournful bosom heaves, Caught in a storm of anguish and dismay,
Pass some fleeting moments by-
Engaged in foul domestic jars,
And wasted with intestine wars,
Had not sedition's civil broils
And driv'n thee with more glorious toils
Games of the Ancient Romans.
“ Sacra recognosces Annalibus eruta priscis;
Et quo sit merito quæque notata dies.
Ovid. Fast. lib. I. v. 7.
During the republic it was the practice of the Roman magistrates and rulers to court the suffrages of the citizens by the frequent exhibition of shows ; it was the interest of the emperors to pacify and keep in subjection, by the same means, a people avowedly desiring nothing but bread and the public spectacles. The wealth of a conquered world enabled the imperial despots to gratify this propensity on the most magnificent scale ; and their subjects, therefore, had probably in exchange for their loss of liberty a greater share of festivals, exhibitions, and holydays than any nation that ever existed. Truly they had sold their birthright for a mess of pottage. They wanted, indeed, the regular Sabbath of the Hebrews, but that deficiency had been supplied even from the times of Numa, by the division of their year, as noted upon the calendar, into days termed fasti and nefasti, in which the destination of each, either to labour or to the performance of religious sacrifices and solemnities, was permanently appointed. Additions to this list were constantly made by the pontiffs, in whose custody was deposited the sacred calendar, and who derived an important authority from the power thus vested in them ; since by declaring a day to be lucky or unlucky they became, in some sort, the directors of public affairs and arbiters of the Roman destiny. Such was the superstition of the people, and so strictly was the observance of these pontifical decrees enjoined, that, besides a considerable fine, an expiatory sacrifice was imposed upon those who even through inattention had worked upon a holyday. To do so designedly and contumaciously was an irremissible offence.
It is worthy of remark, as illustrating the general nature of human beings in a social and civilized state, that so far from their evincing any tendency to idleness and inactivity, their inclinations, under the influence of covetousness, ambition, or the more laudable impulses of inherent industry, dispose them to such unremitting exertions, that all legislators and founders of religion have been forced to establish regular holydays, and to compel their observance, not only by the sanctions of devotion, but by visiting their infraction with severe pains and penalties. To adjust the fitting balance between the days of labour and repose is no easy matter, since it must depend not only on the nature and extent of the toil to which the people are habitually subjected, but on climate, degrees of civilization, and other collateral circumstances; so that the regulations fit for one country may be very improper for another. From the books that remain to us of Ovid's Fasti, as well as from other sources, we shall have no difficulty in deciding that the holydays prescribed in the Roman calendar were by far too numerous, and must have been detrimental to the best interests of the state. Their own religion was by no means deficient in festivals : in adopting the deities of the conquered nations they imported a new series of holydays. Reverence for their ancestors prompted them to observe many private commemorations, in which all pursuits of business were suspended : superstition prevented them from engaging in any undertaking on those days which, being marked black in the calendar, were deemed unlucky; in time of war a twelvemonth rarely elapsed without a public triumph, which was always a period of public idleness; and thus a considerable portion of every year was consumed in religious ceremonies, or general and domestic festivals—a suspension of the people's labours which was probably of little advantage to their morals, and must have been unquestionably injurious to their interests.
At a very early period we find the games of the Romans regulated with great order and method. Under the republic the consuls and pretors presided over the Circensian, Apoldinarian, and secular games; the plebeian ediles had the direction of the plebeian games; the curule ediles, or the pretor, superintended the festivals dedicated to Jupiter, Ceres, Apollo, Cybele, and the other chief gods. These
latter celebrations, which continued during three days, were originally termed Ludi Magni; but upon the term being extended to four days by a decree of the senate, they took the name of Ludi Maximi. Games were instituted by the Romans, not only in honour of the celestial deities of all nations, but even to propitiate those who presided over the infernal regions; while the feralia was a festival established in honour of deceased mortals. Thus were keaven, Tartarus, and the grave, all laid under contribution for holydays by a religion which may be literally termed jovial, whether in the ancient or modern acceptation of that word. The feralia continued for eleven days, during which time presents were carried to the graves of the dead, whose manes, it was universally believed, came and hovered over their tombs, and feasted upon the provisions which had been placed there by the hand of piety and affection. Jo was also believed that during this period they enjoyed rest and liberty, and a suspension from their punishment in the infernal regions.
The scenic games, adopted from those of Greece, consisted of tragedies, comedies, and satires, represented at the theatre in honour of Bacchus, Venus, and Apollo. To render these exhibitions more attractive to the common people, they were accompanied by rope-dancing, tumbling, and similar performances. Afterward were introduced the pantomimes and buffoons, to which the Romans, like the degenerate Greeks, became so passionately attached, when the public taste and manners had become equally corrupt, that they superseded the more regular drama. There was no fixed time for these exhibitions, any more than for those amphitheatrical shows which were given by the consuls and emperors to acquire popularity, and which consisted in the combats of men and animals. So numerous, however, were the games of stated occurrence, that we can do no more than briefly recapitulate the names of the most celebrated.
The Actian games, consecrated to Apollo in commemoration of the victory of Augustus over Mark Antony at Actium, were held every third or fifth year with great pomp in the Roman stadium, and consisted of gymnastic sports, musical competitions, and horse-racing. In the reign of Tiberius were established the Ludi Augustales, in honour