The unimportant consequences to be deduced from the admission that Cecrops might be Egyptian. - Attic Kings before Theseus. - The Hellenes. - Their Genealogy. - Ionians and Achaeans Pelasgic. - Contrast between Dorians and Ionians. - Amphictyonic League.

I. In allowing that there does not appear sufficient evidence to induce us to reject the tale of the Egyptian origin of Cecrops, it will be already observed, that I attach no great importance to the dispute: and I am not inclined reverently to regard the innumerable theories that have been built on so uncertain a foundation. An Egyptian may have migrated to Attica, but Egyptian influence in Attica was faint and evanescent; - arrived at the first dawn of historical fact, it is with difficulty that we discover the most dubious and shadowy vestiges of its existence. Neither Cecrops nor any other Egyptian in those ages is recorded to have founded a dynasty in Attica - it is clear that none established a different language - and all the boasted analogies of religion fade, on a close examination, into an occasional resemblance between the symbols and attributes of Egyptian and Grecian deities, or a similarity in mystic ceremonies and solemn institutions, which, for the most part, was almost indisputably formed by intercourse between Greece and Egypt in a far later age. Taking the earliest epoch at which history opens, and comparing the whole character of the Athenian people - moral, social, religious, and political - with that of any Egyptian population, it is not possible to select a more startling contrast, or one in which national character seems more indelibly formed by the early and habitual adoption of utterly opposite principles of thought and action. [71]

I said that Cecrops founded no dynasty: the same traditions that bring him from Egypt give him Cranaus, a native, for his successor. The darkness of fable closes over the interval between the reign of Cranaus and the time of Theseus: if tradition be any guide whatsoever, the history of that period was the history of the human race - it was the gradual passage of men from a barbarous state to the dawn of civilization - and the national mythi only gather in wild and beautiful fictions round every landmark in their slow and encumbered progress.

It would he very possible, by a little ingenious application of the various fables transmitted to us, to construct a history of imagined conquests and invented revolutions; and thus to win the unmerited praise of throwing a new light upon those remote ages. But when fable is our only basis - no fabric we erect, however imposing in itself, can be rightly entitled to the name of history. And, as in certain ancient chronicles it is recorded merely of undistinguished monarchs that they "lived and died," so such an assertion is precisely that which it would be the most presumptuous to make respecting the shadowy kings who, whether in Eusebius or the Parian marble, give dates and chronicles to the legendary gloom which preceded the heroic age.

The principal event recorded in these early times, for which there seems some foundation, is a war between Erechtheus of Athens and the Eleusinians; - the last assisted or headed by the Thracian Eumolpus. Erechtheus is said to have fallen a victim in this contest. But a treaty afterward concluded with the Eleusinians confirmed the ascendency of Athens, and, possibly, by a religious ceremonial, laid the foundation of the Eleusinian mysteries. In this contest is introduced a very doubtful personage, under the appellation of Ion (to whom I shall afterward recur), who appears on the side of the Athenians, and who may be allowed to have exercised a certain influence over them, whether in religious rites or political institutions, though he neither attained to the throne, nor seems to have exceeded the peaceful authority of an ally. Upon the dim and confused traditions relative to Ion, the wildest and most luxuriant speculations have been grafted - prolix to notice, unnecessary to contradict.

II. During this period there occurred - not rapidly, but slowly - the most important revolution of early Greece, viz., the spread of that tribe termed the Hellenes, who gradually established their predominance throughout the land, impressed indelible traces on the national character, and finally converted their own into the national name.

I have already expressed my belief that the Pelasgi were not a barbarous race, speaking a barbarous tongue, but that they were akin to the Hellenes, who spoke the Grecian language, and are considered the proper Grecian family. Even the dubious record of genealogy (which, if fabulous in itself, often under the names of individuals typifies the affinity of tribes) makes the Hellenes kindred to the Pelasgi. Deucalion, the founder of the Hellenes, was of Pelasgic origin - son of Prometheus, and nephew of Atlas, king of the Pelasgic Arcadia.

However this may be, we find the Hellenes driven from Phocis, their earliest recorded seat, by a flood in the time of Deucalion. Migrating into Thessaly, they expelled the Pelasgi; and afterward spreading themselves through Greece, they attained a general ascendency over the earlier habitants, enslaving, doubtless, the bulk of the population among which they formed a settlement, but ejecting numbers of the more resolute or the more noble families, and causing those celebrated migrations by which the Pelasgi carried their name and arts into Italy, as well as into Crete and various other isles. On the continent of Greece, when the revolution became complete, the Pelasgi appear to have retained only Arcadia, the greater part of Thessaly [72], the land of Dodona, and Attica.

There is no reason to suppose the Hellenes more enlightened and civilized than the Pelasgi; but they seem, if only by the record of their conquests, to have been a more stern, warlike, and adventurous branch of the Grecian family. I conclude them, in fact, to have been that part of the Pelasgic race who the longest retained the fierce and vigorous character of a mountain tribe, and who found the nations they invaded in that imperfect period of civilization which is so favourable to the designs of a conqueror - when the first warlike nature of a predatory tribe is indeed abandoned - but before the discipline, order, and providence of a social community are acquired. Like the Saxons into Britain, the Hellenes were invited [73] by the different Pelasgic chiefs as auxiliaries, and remained as conquerors. But in other respects they rather resembled the more knightly and energetic race by whom in Britain the Saxon dynasty was overturned: - the Hellenes were the Normans of antiquity. It is impossible to decide the exact date when the Hellenes obtained the general ascendency or when the Greeks received from that Thessalian tribe their common appellation. The Greeks were not termed Hellenes in the time in which the Iliad was composed - they were so termed in the time of Hesiod. But even in the Iliad, the word Panhellenes, applied to the Greeks, testifies the progress of the revolution [74], and in the Odyssey, the Hellenic name is no longer limited to the dominion of Achilles.

III. The Hellenic nation became popularly subdivided into four principal families, viz., the Dorians, the Aeolians, the Ionians, and Achaeans, of which I consider the former two alone genuinely Hellenic. The fable which makes Dorus, Aeolus, and Xuthus, the sons of Helen, declares that while Dorus was sent forth to conquer other lands, Aeolus succeeded to the domain of Phthiotis, and records no conquests of his own; but attributes to his sons the origin of most of the principal families of Greece. If rightly construed, this account would denote that the Aeolians remained for a generation at least subsequent to the first migration of the Dorians, in their Thessalian territories; and thence splitting into various hordes, descended as warriors and invaders upon the different states of Greece. They appear to have attached themselves to maritime situations, and the wealth of their early settlements is the theme of many a legend. The opulence of Orchomenus is compared by Homer to that of Egyptian Thebes. And in the time of the Trojan war, Corinth was already termed "the wealthy." By degrees the Aeolians became in a great measure blended and intermingled with the Dorians. Yet so intimately connected are the Hellenes and Pelasgi, that even these, the lineal descendants of Helen through the eldest branch, are no less confounded with the Pelasgic than the Dorian race. Strabo and Pausanias alike affirm the Aeolians to be Pelasgic, and in the Aeolic dialect we approach to the Pelasgic tongue.

The Dorians, first appearing in Phthiotis, are found two generations afterward in the mountainous district of Histiaeotis, comprising within their territory, according to Herodotus, the immemorial Vale of Tempe. Neighboured by warlike hordes, more especially the heroic Lapithae, with whom their earliest legends record fierce and continued war, this mountain tribe took from nature and from circumstance their hardy and martial character. Unable to establish secure settlements in the fertile Thessalian plains, and ranging to the defiles through which the romantic Peneus winds into the sea, several of the tribe migrated early into Crete, where, though forming only a part of the population of the isle, they are supposed by some to have established the Doric constitution and customs, which in their later settlements served them for a model. Other migrations marked their progress to the foot of Mount Pindus; thence to Dryopis, afterward called Doris; and from Dryopis to the Peloponnesus; which celebrated migration, under the name of the "Return of the Heraclidae," I shall hereafter more especially describe. I have said that genealogy attributes the origin of the Dorians and that of the Aeolians to Dorus and Aeolus, sons of Helen. This connects them with the Hellenes and with each other. The adventures of Xuthus, the third son of Helen, are not recorded by the legends of Thessaly, and he seems merely a fictitious creation, invented to bring into affinity with the Hellenes the families, properly Pelasgic, of the Achaeans and Ionians. It is by writers comparatively recent that we are told that Xuthus was driven from Thessaly by his brothers - that he took refuge in Attica, and on the plains of Marathon built four towns - Oenoe, Marathon, Probalinthus, and Tricorythus [75], and that he wedded Creusa, daughter of Erechtheus, king of Attica, and that by her he had two sons, Achaeus and Ion. By some we are told that Achaeus, entering the eastern side of Peloponnesus, founded a dominion in Laconia and Argolis; by others, on the contrary, that he conducted a band, partly Athenian, into Thessaly, and recovered the domains of which his father had been despoiled [76]. Both these accounts of Achaeus, as the representative of the Achaeans, are correct in this, that the Achaeans, had two settlements from remote periods - the one in the south of Thessaly - the other in the Peloponnesus.

The Achaeans were long the most eminent of the Grecian tribes. Possessed of nearly the whole of the Peloponnesus, except, by a singular chance, that part which afterward bore their name, they boasted the warlike fame of the opulent Menelaus and the haughty Agamemnon, the king of men. The dominant tribe of the heroic age, the Achaeans form the kindred link between the several epochs of the Pelasgic and Hellenic sway - their character indeed Hellenic, but their descent apparently Pelasgic. Dionysius of Halicarnassus derives them from Pelasgus himself, and they existed as Achaeans before the Hellenic Xuthus was even born. The legend which makes Achaeus the brother of Ion, tends likewise to prove, that if the Ionians were originally Pelasgic, so also were the Achaeans. Let us then come to Ion.

Although Ion is said to have given the name of Ionians to the Atticans, yet long before his time the Iaones were among the ancient inhabitants of the country; and Herodotus (the best authority on the subject) declares that the Ionians were Pelasgic and indigenous. There is not sufficient reason to suppose, therefore, that they were Hellenic conquerors or Hellenic settlers. They appear, on the contrary, to have been one of the aboriginal tribes of Attica: - a part of them proceeded into the Peloponnesus (typified under the migration thither of Xuthus), and these again returning (as typified by the arrival of Ion at Athens), in conjunction with such of their fraternity as had remained in their native settlement, became the most powerful and renowned of the several divisions of the Attic population. Their intercourse with the Peloponnesians would lead the Ionians to establish some of the political institutions and religious rites they had become acquainted with in their migration; and thus may we most probably account for the introduction of the worship of Apollo into Attica, and for that peaceful political influence which the mythical Ion is said to have exercised over his countrymen.

At all events, we cannot trace, any distinct and satisfactory connexion between this, the most intellectual and brilliant tribe of the Grecian family, and that roving and fortunate Thessalian horde to which the Hellenes gave the general name, and of which the Dorians were the fittest representative and the most powerful section. Nor, despite the bold assumptions of Mueller, is there any evidence of a Hellenic conquest in Attica. [77]

And that land which, according to tradition and to history, was the early refuge of exiles, derived from the admission and intercourse of strangers and immigrants those social and political improvements which in other states have been wrought by conquest.

IV. After the Dorians obtained possession of the Peloponnesus, the whole face of Greece was gradually changed. The return of the Heraclidae was the true consummation of the Hellenic revolution. The tribes hitherto migratory became fixed in the settlements they acquired. The Dorians rose to the rank of the most powerful race of Greece: and the Ionians, their sole rivals, possessed only on the continent the narrow soil of Attica, though their colonies covered the fertile coast of Asia Minor. Greece thus reduced to two main tribes, the Doric and the Ionian, historians have justly and generally concurred in noticing between them the strongest and most marked distinctions, - the Dorians grave, inflexible, austere, - the Ionians lively, versatile, prone to change. The very dialect of the one was more harsh and masculine than that of the other; and the music, the dances of the Dorians, bore the impress of their severe simplicity. The sentiment of veneration which pervaded their national character taught the Dorians not only, on the one hand, the firmest allegiance to the rites of religion - and a patriarchal respect for age - but, on the other hand, a blind and superstitious attachment to institutions merely on account of their antiquity - and an almost servile regard for birth, producing rather the feelings of clanship than the sympathy of citizens. We shall see hereafter, that while Athens established republics, Sparta planted oligarchies. The Dorians were proud of independence, but it was the independence of nobles rather than of a people. Their severity preserved them long from innovation - no less by what was vicious in its excess than by what was wise in its principle. With many great and heroic qualities, they were yet harsh to enemies - cruel to dependants - selfish to allies. Their whole policy was to preserve themselves as they were; if they knew not the rash excesses, neither were they impelled by the generous emotions, which belong to men whose constant aspirations are to be better and to be greater; - they did not desire to be better or to be greater; their only wish was not to be different. They sought in the future nothing but the continuance of the past; and to that past they bound themselves with customs and laws of iron. The respect in which they held their women, as well as their disdain of pleasure, preserved them in some measure from the licentiousness common to states in which women are despised; but the respect had little of the delicacy and sentiment of individual attachment - attachment was chiefly for their own sex [78]. The Ionians, on the contrary, were susceptible, flexile, and more characterized by the generosity of modern knighthood than the sternness of ancient heroism. Them, not the past, but the future, charmed. Ever eager to advance, they were impatient even of the good, from desire of the better. Once urged to democracy - democracy fixed their character, as oligarchy fixed the Spartan. For, to change is the ambition of a democracy - to conserve of an oligarchy. The taste, love, and intuition of the beautiful stamped the Greeks above all nations, and the Ionians above all the Greeks. It was not only that the Ionians were more inventive than their neighbours, but that whatever was beautiful in invention they at once seized and appropriated. Restless, inquisitive, ardent, they attempted all things, and perfected art - searched into all things, and consummated philosophy.

The Ionic character existed everywhere among Ionians, but the Doric was not equally preserved among the Dorians. The reason is evident. The essence of the Ionian character consisted in the spirit of change - that of the Dorian in resistance to innovation. When any Doric state abandoned its hereditary customs and institutions, it soon lost the Doric character - became lax, effeminate, luxurious - a corruption of the character of the Ionians; but no change could assimilate the Ionian to the Doric; for they belonged to different eras of civilization - the Doric to the elder, the Ionian to the more advanced. The two races of Scotland have become more alike than heretofore; but it is by making the highlander resemble the lowlander - and not by converting the lowland citizen into the mountain Gael. The habits of commerce, the substitution of democratic for oligarchic institutions, were sufficient to alter the whole character of the Dorians. The voluptuous Corinth - the trading Aegina (Doric states) - infinitely more resembled Athens than Sparta.

It is, then, to Sparta, that in the historical times we must look chiefly for the representative of the Doric tribe, in its proper and elementary features; and there, pure, vigorous, and concentrated, the Doric character presents a perpetual contrast to the Athenian. This contrast continued so long as either nation retained a character to itself; - and (no matter what the pretences of hostility) was the real and inevitable cause of that enmity between Athens and Sparta, the results of which fixed the destiny of Greece.

Yet were the contests of that enmity less the contests between opposing tribes than between those opposing principles which every nation may be said to nurse within itself; viz., the principle to change, and the principle to preserve; the principle to popularize, and the principle to limit the governing power; here the genius of an oligarchy, there of a people; here adherence to the past, there desire of the future. Each principle produced its excesses, and furnishes a salutary warning. The feuds of Sparta and Athens may be regarded as historical allegories, clothing the moral struggles, which, with all their perils and all their fluctuations, will last to the end of time.

V. This period is also celebrated for the supposed foundation of that assembly of the Grecian states, called the Amphictyonic Confederacy. Genealogy attributes its origin to a son of Deucalion, called Amphictyon. [79]

This fable would intimate a Hellenic origin, since Deucalion is the fabled founder of the Hellenes; but out of twelve tribes which composed the confederacy, only three were Hellenic, and the rest Pelasgic. But with the increasing influence of the Dorian oracle of Delphi, with which it was connected, it became gradually considered a Hellenic institution. It is not possible to decipher the first intention of this league. The meeting was held at two places, near Anthela, in the pass of Thermopylae, and Delphi; at the latter place in the spring, at the former in the autumn. If tradition imputed to Amphictyon the origin of the council, it ascribed to Acrisius, king of Argos [80], the formation of its proper power and laws. He is said to have founded one of the assemblies, either that in Delphi or Thermopylae (accounts vary), and to have combined the two, increased the number of the members, and extended the privileges of the body. We can only interpret this legend by the probable supposition, that the date of holding the same assembly at two different places, at different seasons of the year, marks the epoch of some important conjunction of various tribes, and, it may be, of deities hitherto distinct. It might be an attempt to associate the Hellenes with the Pelasgi, in the early and unsettled power of the former race: and this supposition is rendered the more plausible by the evident union of the worship of the Dorian Apollo at Delphi with that of the Pelasgian Ceres at Thermopylae [81]. The constitution of the league was this - each city belonging to an Amphictyonic state sent usually two deputies - the one called Pylagoras, the other Hieromnemon. The functions of the two deputies seem to have differed, and those of the latter to have related more particularly to whatsoever appertained to religion. On extraordinary occasions more than one pylagoras was deputed - Athens at one time sent no less than three. But the number of deputies sent did not alter the number of votes in the council. Each city had two votes and no more, no matter how many delegates it employed.

All the deputies assembled, - solemn sacrifices were offered at Delphi to Apollo, Diana, Latona, and Minerva; at Thermopylae to Ceres. An oath was then administered, the form of which is preserved to us by Aeschines.

"I swear," runs the oath, "never to subvert any Amphictyonic city - never to stop the courses of its waters in peace or in war. Those who attempt such outrages I will oppose by arms; and the cities that so offend I will destroy. If any ravages be committed in the territory of the god, if any connive at such a crime, if any conceive a design hostile to the temple, against them will I use my hands, my feet, my whole power and strength, so that the offenders may be brought to punishment."

Fearful and solemn imprecations on any violation of this engagement followed the oath.

These ceremonies performed, one of the hieromnemons [82] presided over the council; to him were intrusted the collecting the votes, the reporting the resolutions, and the power of summoning the general assembly, which was a convention separate from the council, held only on extraordinary occasions, and composed of residents and strangers, whom the solemnity of the meeting congregated in the neighbourhood.

VI. Throughout the historical times we can trace in this league no attempt to combine against the aggression of foreign states, except for the purposes of preserving the sanctity of the temple. The functions of the league were limited to the Amphictyonic tribes and whether or not its early, and undefined, and obscure purpose, was to check wars among the confederate tribes, it could not attain even that object. Its offices were almost wholly confined to religion. The league never interfered when one Amphictyonic state exercised the worst severities against the other, curbing neither the ambition of the Athenian fleet nor the cruelties of the Spartan sword. But, upon all matters relative to religion, especially to the worship of Apollo, the assembly maintained an authority in theory supreme - in practice, equivocal and capricious.

As a political institution, the league contained one vice which could not fail to destroy its power. Each city in the twelve Amphictyonic tribes, the most unimportant as the most powerful, had the same number of votes. This rendered it against the interest of the greater states (on whom its consideration necessarily depended) to cement or increase its political influence and thus it was quietly left to its natural tendency to sacred purposes. Like all institutions which bestow upon man the proper prerogative of God, and affect authority over religious and not civil opinions, the Amphictyonic council was not very efficient in good: even in its punishment of sacrilege, it was only dignified and powerful whenever the interests of the Delphic temple were at stake. Its most celebrated interference was with the town of Crissa, against which the Amphictyons decreed war B. C. 505; the territory of Crissa was then dedicated to the god of the temple.

VII. But if not efficient in good, the Amphictyonic council was not active in evil. Many causes conspired to prevent the worst excesses to which religious domination is prone, - and this cause in particular. It was not composed of a separate, interested, and permanent class, but of citizens annually chosen from every state, who had a much greater interest in the welfare of their own state than in the increased authority of the Amphictyonic council [83]. They were priests but for an occasion - they were citizens by profession. The jealousies of the various states, the constant change in the delegates, prevented that energy and oneness necessary to any settled design of ecclesiastical ambition. Hence, the real influence of the Amphictyonic council was by no means commensurate with its grave renown; and when, in the time of Philip, it became an important political agent, it was only as the corrupt and servile tool of that able monarch. Still it long continued, under the panoply of a great religious name, to preserve the aspect of dignity and power, until, at the time of Constantine, it fell amid the ruins of the faith it had aspired to protect. The creed that became the successor of the religion of Delphi found a mightier Amphictyonic assembly in the conclaves of Rome. The papal institution possessed precisely those qualities for directing the energies of states, for dictating to the ambition of kings, for obtaining temporal authority under spiritual pretexts - which were wanting to the pagan.