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less in a great degree owing to this circumstance to the same great Pelasgic family. If this be the that they were divided and sub-divided into so many correct view, it will be much less important to depetty independent States, forever embroiled in dis- termine which was the more ancient location. putes with each other, and always jealous of the Whether when they came into Greece they supremacy of any : a feeling fostered by the tem- found a population then settled in the country, and per of the people, until it led to the final destruc- if so who they were, are questions that we have tion of the liberties of their common country. no means of solving. We know from another
Their rivers indeed are not on the same scale source that the human family began to spread from with those majestic streams that circle our west- the central and western parts of Asia. Greece ern continent. They belong altogether to another then, as well as the rest of Europe, must have been class. At one season almost entirely deprived of peopled by a tide of emigration from the east. their waters, and at another dashing furiously on- And it may be that it was a part of this tide ibat ward like a mountain torrent when swollen by the poured in under the name of the great Pelasgic rains of the winter, they may be taken as fit em- family. In this event they must have found the blems of the impetuous and ardent genius of the country uninhabited, and themselves have been the people that dwelt on their banks.
first settlers. If, however, the Pelasgians belong The bold and rugged mountains shooting up ab- not to so early a date as this, and there was alruptly from the plain, the beautiful vales, the ro- ready a population located there when they first mantic and picturesque glens, and the clear spark- made their appearance, we must be content to stop ling fountains of this favored land, if they had no our enquiries and rest satisfied in otter ignorance agency in giving tone to the character of the race, of the names and the history of these earlier tribes. afforded at least striking objects for their genius For not only is the presence of the Pelasgians the to play upon and to invest with all the glowing first fact in Greek history, but the first referred to tints of romance and poetry, that breathe through even in their traditions. the fables of their early mythology.
The language of these people is involved in alWho the first inhabitants of Greece were, and most as much obscurity as their origin. We only whence they came, are questions no less interest- know that to the ears of Herodotus it sounded like ing to us now, than they were to their own de- a barbarous jargon,t though he had but slender opscendants, when they first began to suspect the im- portunities of judging of it. Of their name also portance of their national history,--and the inter- two etymologies are given, both relating to the est with which they are intrinsically invested is habits of the people, and each plausible enough to enhanced still farther by the mist and obscurity in render it doubtful which is the irue one. Accordwhich they are involved.
ing to one, they were so called from the cultivaThe early history of any nation, whose existence tion of the plains, and according to the other from dates from a period anterior to the introduction of their wandering disposition. The latter is the letters, must ever remain a subject for speculation one more ordinarily adopted, and is also perhaps and conjecture rather than for sober criticism. We more appropriate to their habits of life. Whathave, however, some fragments of historic truth ever may have been the origin of this race, it is relating to the early settlers of Greece, which have more than probable that in their wanderings, they been carefully sifted by the enlightened and acute either fell in, and became incorporated with other criticism of the last half century, and developed, tribes and thus spread their name much more widely at least, into a consistent form.
than their real nation ever extended, or that the The first race of which we have any knowledge same name was bestowed, as Niebuhr supposes, in the early history of this country, is that of the
upon other tribes from similarity of customs, Pelasgians.* And it seems from the universal in reality possessing no national affinity. Among traditions concerning them, as well as from the the monuments still remaining of this once widely monuments which attest their presence, that they spread race, may be mentioned the Cyclopean towwere widely spread over many parts of Greece. ers in Greece, Italy and Asia Minor, monuments They were found in Thessaly, in Attica, and in that testify at once the extent of their migrations Peloponnesus, and much learning and time have and the bold genius of the people. been spent in attempting to determine in what part
After the introduction of this race into Greece, they first appeared, without, however, leading to or perhaps rather coeval with it, many other tribes any definite conclusions. The truth probably is also appear, of more or less affinity with them, and that they came into the different parts of Greece at different times, and at different points, and that the tribes found in Thessaly and in Peloponnesus,
* Thirl, Hist. Gr., vol. i, ch. ii, p. 48.
+ Herod., I. i, ch. lvii. did not stand in the relation of par
and colony 10 each other, but were only related as belonging i, ch. ii, p. 51.
1 (From Tehw to cultivate, and apyos a plain,) Thirl., vol.
(From Telapyos, a stork.) Lemp., art. Gre, on the au* Herod, 1. i, ch. Ivi.
thority of Niebuhr.
scattered to a considerable extent over the coun- divinity. These were but the early efforts of that try. They all appear to have partaken of the same same wonderful genius, that afterwards developed wandering disposition, and being bound by no ties itself in the immortal productions of Phidias, and of a local nature, to have easily given place to found others, more powerful or more restless than them
“A local habitation and a name" selves.
None, however, appear of sufficient importance for all time to come in the glowing pages of her to demand a separate notice, until the rise of the poets and her orators. Hellenic race, which took place some years later. This Hellenic race, whose bold, manly characThis tribe, which afterwards gave its name to the ter constitutes so large and important an element whole country, is distinctly located by all the au- of the Greek nation, seems to have been even thorities in the southern part of Thessaly.t But more restless than the other tribes of the same age, their origin is wrapt in almost as much obscurity and finally swallowed up in its name, if not in its as that of the Peslagians. According to the most race, all the inhabitants of the land, called after it probable account, they are generally considered as Hellas. The manner in which they were mingled having first migrated into Thessaly from the west, I with and engrafted upon the old Pelasgic stock though at what period is entirely uncertain. seems to be but imperfectly understood. Herodo
That they derived the name of Hellenes from lus is of the opinion* that the Hellenic race Hellen the son of Deucalion, is stated indeed, not was greatly enlarged by readily absorbing into itonly by the poets, but also by the gravest histori- self other barbarous tribes, but that the Pelasgians ans. It requires, however, only a slight acquaint- being always averse to this mode of increasing, ance with the traditionary history of the ancients, gradually diminished, until in his day they had particularly of the Greeks, to understand such fic- dwindled to one or two insignificant remnants. It titious genealogies. As Deucalion is probably is doubtful how far this opinion, for it is merely adbat a symbol of the flood itself, so when it is said vanced as such, is to be admitted, so far as it refers that the Hellenes sprang from his son, we are only to the Pelasgians. There is, at least, no evidencet to regard Hellen as the personification of the tribe, of their ever having been expelled in any considand intended by his relation to Deucalion, to indi- erable number from any part of Greece, and it is cate that the commencement of the race dated back highly probable that it afforded a considerable porto the repeopling of the earth.
tion of the basis upon which the Hellenic name This method of interpretation furnishes a key to and race were engrafted. It is at least equally much that is otherwise, not only mysterious, but certain that it was the Hellenic race that imabsurd in the fabulous genealogies of the ancient pressed upon the Greek character that peculiar Greeks and Romans. By the application of this stamp, that distinguished them from the rest of the beautifal principle, modern criticism has convert
world. ed into authentic history, or a least given a ra
The means by which this small tribe acquired tional explanation of many of those wonderful le- the ascendancy so universally over its neighbors, gends that are so intimately interwoven with the is also a matter of doubt. It may be inferred from early Grecian and Roman history, and implicitly the language of Thucydides, above referred to, believed by the learned world for so many centu- that these sons of Hellen, as he calls them, were ries. It is at once so simple and so satisfactory, before the others in the arts of civilization as well that it scarcely needs more than a bare statement as in those of warfare ; and it is quite likely that to be admitted as true. Its explanation must be such may have been the case to some extent. But looked for, not in any conventional system, adopted we should rather be inclined to look, for the reason by general consent, but in the poetic genius of the of their ascendancy, in that restless and indomitapeople by whom it was used, and in the character ble energy of character, that prompted them to inof the age. This tendency of the Greek charac- terfere at a very early day in the affairs of the surter to personify the indefinite and to embody the rounding tribes, and to lend their assistance whenevideal
, connected with an exquisite sense of symme- er it might be needed. In fact, the historian just retry and beauty, is strikingly exhibited in their whole ferred to distinctly statest that it was by this means system of traditionary legends and fabulous my- that iheir name became generally known and in the thology. Every tribe had its legendary hero of course of time came to be applied to all the inhabOlympian descent-every city its latelary deity, itants dwelling in Greece. From this period then every mountain and vale, every stream and foun- the term Hellenes was a general appellation for tain, was under the peculiar care of some presiding the Greeks, and in this sense we are to understand
that the ideal personage Hellen is called the father
of the Greek nation. • Thuc., 1 i, ch. ii. † Herod., I. i, ch. Ivı, and Thuc., I. i, ch. iii.
* Herod. 1. i. c. lviii. 1 Thirl., vol. i, ch. ix, p. 58.
+ Thirl. vol. i. c. ii, p. 49. “Thúc., ubi. Supro.
[ Thục. 1. 8.
According to the popular tradition, Hellen had its wildest mood, peopling every nook and cranny three sons, Æolus, Dorus and Xuthus. From of that romantic land with the bright creations of the former two sprang the Æolian and Dorian ra- fancy, and weaving its history into strange and ces, and from the latter through his two sons, Ion marvellous, but beautiful and expressive legends. and Achæus, the Ionian and Achæan. These ge. Then it was, too, that their language, just passing nealogies will be readily understood as referring to from that state termed rude and barbarous into a the general division of the nation into four leading form better suited to a civilized people, abounded in tribes. Of these, the first was by far the most those bold and striking epithets, so admirably adapwidely spread,—and this was well expressed by led to express poetic ideas with a simplicity and a that part of the tradition, which asserts that Æo-vividness to which the polished elocution of more relus was the eldest son, and inherited his father's fined ages can never possibly attain. It is needless possessions whilst his brothers, were sent forth to to specify any of the wonderful legends of this seek their fortunes. The Æolians occupied the period. The names of Hercules and Theseus, of greater portion of northern Greece and the west- Bellerophon and Jason, will at once suggest rich ern side of Peloponnesus. They seem generally and varied trains of fabulous lore. to have preferred maritime situations; a circum- We have already alluded to the siege of Troy as stance that accounts for the frequent appearance the event that marked the close of the Heroic age. of Neptune and the other divinities of the sea in The most remarkable and important circumstance their fabulous genealogies, as well as in their sa- that attended this expedition was the union, in one cred rites. The Achæans who, according to the common enterprise, of the different independent tradition would seem to be more closely connected tribes that had now established themselves permain some way with the Ionians than with the others, nently in Greece. attained to a considerable celebrity at a very early Upon the history of this interesting expedition period. They are more celebrated in the ancient we must refrain from entering, except as it is conpoetry than either of the other tribes, and their name nected with, and exerted an influence in producing (A xaroe) is oftener used by Homer as a general ap- that general change in the condition of the Greek pellation for the Greeks before Troy, than that of nation by which it was succeeded.
Before this event the different tribes had re. The Ionian and Dorian races did not rise into garded themselves as related to each other only so much notice until a later period, but they afterwards far as they could trace the ties of relationship and extended their fame and reputation much more affinity. They had never looked upon themselves widely than either of the others, and finally became as the inhabitants of one common country. And the two great leading divisions of the Greek na- even when they united under the lead of Agamemtion. These two races were ever actuated by a non to avenge his brother's wrong upon the devoted spirit of rivalry and jealousy, that often arrayed city and race of Priam, they met rather as distinct one half of Greece against the other in long and nations than as members of one confederacy, and bloody contests, in which the Athenians were al- the supremacy * of their leader was distinctly limways regarded as the head of the Ionian confeder-ited and restricted to this expedition alone. That acy, as the Lacedæmonians were of the Dorian. such was the case is clearly shown from the fact
The Ionians were probably located originally in that Homer never confines himself to any special Alica, to which, as we have just mentioned, they name as a general appellation for the Greeks. The seemed to have looked as the head of their con- terms Ayatoi, Aavaoi and Aoycıou are used indifferfederacy. The Dorians were at first seated* in the ently to represent the whole multitude † assembled Northern part of Greece, but, as we shall presently in the plains of Troy. see, migrated from thence to Peloponnesus.
It would naturally be expected, that finding themSuch is a slight and imperfect sketch of the lead-selves opposed as one body against the Trojan waring divisions of the Greek nation during that ob- riors, they would gradually begin to acquire a scure but interesting period denominated the He- stronger feeling of nationality amongst themselves. roic age. This period is usually considered as last- And this feeling was heightened to a much greater ing from the rise of the Hellenic nation to the re- degree by the unusually great length to which the turn of the Greeks from the siege of Troy; an siege was protracted. At last, however, when the age not only interesting in the national history of fated hour had arrived and the lofty walls of llium the country, but also as affording the materials for that had baffled every effort of the invading foe, some of the ablest productions of the Grecian mind. yielded to his subtile arts, the remnants of the
It was during this period, just verging as it were Grecian host again sought their native homes. But upon the dawn of civilization, that the national ge- the feelings and recollections which they carried nius first began to develop itself. And moving in back with them were of a far different character all the unrestrained freedom of nature, it sported in
* Iliad. 1, v. 278-81, where the independence of each • Herod. 4. s.
chiestain is clearly recognized. + Vid. Iliad passim.
from any they had ever experienced before. The character, it is this quality that chiefly renders achievements of their heroes were woven by their them valuable. It seems almost impossible then bards into national ballads that thrilled through the to believe, that if the use of letters had been fa. feelings of their descendants with a power which miliarly known, it would not have been distinctly we cannot even imagine. To them all those glow- spoken of. ing images were vivid realities. The deeds there There is, indeed, in the Iliad one passage, * and described were those of their own fathers, and the but one in the whole poem, in which even the most recollection of them served in after years as a distant allusion is made to any thing of the kind, common bond of onion between tribes that before and this in such a manner that so far from favoring had scarcely felt the existence of a national af- the supposition that it has reference to alphabetical finity.
writing, we think it is strong presumptive evidence Thus linked together by the ties and associa- to the contrary. For it certainly was an occasion tions of a common glory, the Greeks began to re- calling for some method of conveying intelligence, gard themselves as a separate and distinct race either by writing, or by means of symbolical charfrom the other nations around them—they began acters, and if the use of letters had been known, to feel that they possessed a different genius—that we should naturally expect to find it mentioned they were cast in a different mould.
upon such an occasion. As it was not so mentionIt is now that we first find the terms Hellenes ed, the inference seems fair that no such art was and Barbarians contrasted with each other in that known. From these considerations it is difficult clear and definite sense which they retained to the for us to resist the conviction that these poems are latest age of Greek history.
the works of a number of poets, collected and arIt is scarcely possible to pass over this interest- ranged in their present form, by other hands, after ing period without alluding to the Homeric ques- the art of writing had grown into common use. tion. It must not, however be expected that we This supposition, however, does not by any means should here enter upon the full discussion of a get rid of the entire difficulty of this question-for question, that after occupying the attention and it still remains to be explained how such poems scrotiny of the most learned critics of the modern could be composed at all, without the aid of writworld, is still left with all the doubts hanging over ten language, even by any number of bards. But il that were raised by the learning of Wolf. if the fact be so, that they were so composed, it
From the difference of style in the several parts certainly seems to us easier to conceive how it of which the Iliad is made up, and from the want could be done by a whole class of poets, than by of regularity in the narrative, it would be exceed- any one individual. Under either supposition, howingly hazardous to draw any general conclusion. ever, when they were first collected and committed
It would seem to us that the question, whether to writing by later hands, they must have been althe Iliad is the production of one poet or the col- tered in many places, interpolated, and welded tolected works of several, would turn mostly upon gether to form something like a consistent whole. one point—the introduction of the art of writing. With the question of the Iliad is connected, not The other internal evidences may be brought, with only that of the Odyssey, but also of all the poems almost equal facility, to bear upon either side. If usually attributed to Hesiod. And, according to it could be shown that this art was known and in the view we have taken of it, Homer and Hesiod ose amongst the Greeks before the period assigned will stand each as the personification of a whole to the Homeric poems, we would readily admit that class of Heroic bards. the poem in qoestion was probably the production During a period of about two hundred years, of one man. But if this art was not known at that after the close of the Homeric age, there were a period, we cannot conceive that it is even within great number of epic poets, who are usually known the limits of possibility, for so long and perfect a under the name of the cyclic poets, or poets of the composition to be made and transmitted throu cycle. Their works are now entirely lost, and successive generations by the mouths of the rhap- even their names have been swallowed up in the sodists. Unfortunately this question also is in- blaze of light that surrounds that of Homer; but volved in almost equal obscurity with the original the titles of a few of their poems, together with a
slight sketch of their contents, have been preserved There is one circumstance, however, that seems by the ancient critics. to us almost strong enough to turn the scale. It They were thought to be particularly valuable, is the entire absence of any direct allusion to the not so much for their poetic excellence as for the art of writing throughout the whole of these poems. regular connection of their contents one with The Homeric poems are universally regarded as another. And from this circumstance they probathe great reservoir from which is drawn nearly bly obtained their name. every thing that we know concerning the manners
They may, perhaps, be fairly regarded also as and costoms of the Heroic age. In fact, to so marking the earliest dawn of a historic spirit. great an extent is this true, that, after their poetic' liad. C. 6, v. 169.
They were succeeded, in their turn, by the event, fall within the scope of our present deLyric poets, as the latter again were by the Dra- 'sign. matic. To trace out the current of the early Æschylus is justly called the father of the Attic Greek literature, to watch its various changes, and tragedy. In what state he found it is very uncer. mark its different eras, would indeed be a delight- tain, but to him is due the honor of having moulded ful and a profitable task, but one requiring the full it nearly into its most perfect form. He first inspace of a volume to do justice to its importance. troduced the additional actor upon the stage and All, of course, that can be required in the present gave to the representation the form of the diainstance, is briefly to point out some of the more logue; and soon afterwards, by the addition of the prominent and striking changes, that successively third, completed the number, to which the tragedy took place in its character, as it gradually passed seems to have been mostly, if not entirely restricted. from the earliest lisping of the Epic muse, through His character as a poet was bold and lofty. He all its protean forms, to that chaste and elegant was not so successful in filling up the details, but style that distinguished the productions of the later the awful grandeur and majesty of his conceptions Athenian writers.
have, perhaps, never been equalled. We have mentioned that the school of Lyric
Next to him in point of time as of genius was poets succeeded to the Epic. There was, of course, Sophocles. He added the finishing touch to everyno abrupt transition, but as the one began to de- thing which the bolder hand of his great master cline from the gradual change of the national taste, had begun. He greatly improved the rich and rathe other arose to supply its place. The poets of ried scenery, and added to it much that served still this class have shared a fate similar to that of their farther to heighten the charm of scenic represenpredecessors. Their names, indeed, remain to us,
tation. Under him the histrionic art may be said to but of the large number who flourished through the have acquired its most complete excellence in all long space of three hundred years, the fragments its parts. His genius was of a lower order than of only a few have come down to the present day. that of Æschylus, but in his productions the want Of these the principle one is Pindar. And if we
of that terrible and majestic grandeur was commay be permitted to form an estimate from what pensated by the delicate and appropriate finish which remains of one, who lost the prize to a successful he gave to every character in the general filling rival more than once, they were worthy, indeed, of up, and by that perfect mastery over all the power the enthusiastic applause which they received from and all the charm of expression of the Greek lantheir cotemporaries, and the high estimate that has guage which he, above all others, possessed. The been placed upon them by the critics of antiquity. style of Æschylus is lofty and magniscent, but
often broken and abrupt, and his verse occasionally It is easier, perhaps, to trace the transition from falls upon the ear like strains of wild, uneartbly the Lyric to the Dramatic than that between any music floating through the air, whilst that of Sophoother classes of poetry. The Lyric odes were cles moves on in one unbroken stream of rich and most probably all composed for public recitation, flowing melody. * either before the great assemblage of the national Euripides, the competitor and successor to Sophgames, the celebration of which forms the subjec: ocles, completes the list of the great masters of for many of Pindar's finest odes, or before some Attic tragedy. His genius was of a much lower other public gathering. As the national taste be- order than either of the others, and his plays, came more refined and cultivated, various artifices though undoubtedly possessing a high degree of would be resorted to in order to heighten the effect merit, mark the rapid decline of the Greek Drama. of the recitation. Probably one of the first adopted Together with a philosophic spirit, he possessed was the use of some kind of a mask, both to give fine powers of description, and a chaste elocution, more power to the voice, and to bring more forci. but his principal forte lay in the deep and moving bly before the imaginations of the audience the pathos and passionate appeal in which he so much character intended to be represented. And from delighted to indulge. this hegioning, by the gradual addition of various In thus tracing out the various changes of the improvements, the transition was an easy and a early Greek literature, we have confined our attennatural one to the rude form of the early Attic tion so far altogether to the poetic branch. We Drama.
will now briefly follow the rise and development of It is much easier, however, to point out the gen- historic composition and close this part of the suberal changes that took place in this transition from ject. the Lyric to the Dramatic character, than it is to We first dwelt upon their poetry because it seems specify the particular steps of this change, the to have been, as it were, the natural language of times at which they were introduced, and the sev.
* Contrast Prometheus and Antigone. The English eral poets by whom they were first adopted. These
reader may, perhaps, find something of the same contrast are points which modern criticism has not yet set-between "The Tempest” and “ As You Like It," not so tled, but, fortunately, they would not, under any much indeed in style as in matter.