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The Greek View of Life By G. Lowes Dickinson Characters: 103117

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Section 1. The Greek State a "City."

The present kingdom of Greece is among the smallest of European states; but to the Greeks it would have appeared too large to be a state at all. Within that little peninsular whose whole population and wealth are so insignificant according to modern ideas, were comprised in classical times not one but many flourishing polities. And the conception of an amalgamation of these under a single government was so foreign to the Greek idea, that even to Aristotle, the clearest and most comprehensive thinker of his age, it did not present itself even as a dream. To him, as to every ancient Greek, the state meant the City-meant, that is to say, an area about the size of an English county, with a population, perhaps, of some hundred thousand, self-governing and independent of any larger political whole.

If we can imagine the various County Councils of England emancipated from the control of Parliament and set free to make their own laws, manage their own finance and justice, raise troops and form with one another alliances, offensive and defensive, we may form thus some general idea of the political institutions of the Greeks and some measure of their difference from our own.

Nor must it be supposed that the size of the Greek state was a mere accident in its constitution, that it might have been indefinitely enlarged and yet regained its essential character. On the contrary, the limitation of size belonged to its very notion. The greatest state, says Aristotle, is not the one whose population is most numerous; on the contrary, after a certain limit of increase has been passed, the state ceases to be a state at all. "Ten men are too few for a city; a hundred thousand are too many." Not only London, it seems, but every one of our larger towns, would have been too big for the Greek idea of a state; and as for the British empire, the very conception of it would have been impossible to the Greeks.

Clearly, their view on this point is fundamentally different from our own. Their civilisation was one of "city-states", not of kingdoms and empires; and their whole political outlook was necessarily determined by this condition. Generalising from their own experience, they had formed for themselves a conception of the state not the less interesting to us that it is unfamiliar; and this conception it will be the business of the present chapter to illustrate and explain.

Section 2. The Relation of the State to the Citizen.

First, let us consider the relation of the state to the citizens-that is to say, to that portion of the community, usually a minority, which was possessed of full political rights. It is here that we have the key to that limitation of size which we have seen to be essential to the idea of the city-state. For, in the Greek view, to be a citizen of a state did not merely imply the payment of taxes, and the possession of a vote; it implied a direct and active co-operation in all the functions of civil and military life. A citizen was normally a soldier, a judge, and a member of the governing assembly; and all his public duties he performed not by deputy, but in person. He must be able frequently to attend the centre of government; hence the limitation of territory. He must be able to speak and vote in person in the assembly; hence the limitation of numbers. The idea of representative government never occurred to the Greeks; but if it had occurred to them, and if they had adopted it, it would have involved a revolution in their whole conception of the citizen. Of that conception, direct personal service was the cardinal point-service in the field as well as in the council; and to substitute for personal service the mere right to a vote would have been to destroy the form of the Greek state. Such being the idea the Greeks had formed, based on their own experience, of the relation of the citizen to the state, it follows that to them a society so complex as our own would hardly have answered to the definition of a state at all. Rather they would have regarded it as a mere congeries of unsatisfactory human beings, held together, partly by political, partly by economic compulsion, but lacking that conscious identity of interest with the community to which they belong which alone constitutes the citizen. A man whose main pre-occupation should be with his trade or his profession, and who should only become aware of his corporate relations when called upon for his rates and taxes-a man, that is to say, in the position of an ordinary Englishman-would not have seemed to the Greeks to be a full and proper member of a state. For the state, to them, was more than a machinery, it was a spiritual bond; and "public life", as we call it, was not a thing to be taken up and laid aside at pleasure, but a necessary and essential phase of the existence of a complete man.

This relation of the citizen to the state, as it was conceived by the Greeks, is sometimes described as though it involved the sacrifice of the individual to the whole. And in a certain sense, perhaps, this is true. Aristotle, for instance, declares that no one must suppose he belongs to himself, but rather that all alike belong to the state; and Plato, in the construction of his ideal republic, is thinking much less of the happiness of the individual citizens, than of the symmetry and beauty of the whole as it might appear to a disinterested observer from without. Certainly it would have been tedious and irksome to any but his own ideal philosopher to live under the rule of that perfect polity. Individual enterprise, bent, and choice is rigorously excluded. Nothing escapes the net of legislation, from the production of children to the fashion of houses, clothes, and food. It is absurd, says the ruthless logic of this mathematician among the poets, for one who would regulate public life to leave private relations uncontrolled; if there is to be order at all, it must extend through and through; no moment, no detail must be withdrawn from the grasp of law. And though in this, Plato, no doubt, goes far beyond the common sense of the Greeks, yet he is not building altogether in the air. The republic which he desiderates was realised, as we shall see, partially at least, in Sparta. So that his insistence on the all-pervading domination of the state, exaggerated though it be, is exaggerated on the actual lines of Greek practice, and may be taken as indicative of a real distinction and even antithesis between their point of view and that which prevails at present in most modern states.

But on the other hand such a phrase as the "sacrifice of the individual to the whole", to this extent at least is misleading, that it presupposes an opposition between the end of the individual and that of the State, such as was entirely foreign to the Greek conception. The best individual, in their view, was also the best citizen; the two ideals not only were not incompatible, they were almost indistinguishable. When Aristotle defines a state as "an association of similar persons for the attainment of the best life possible", he implies not only that society is the means whereby the individual attains his ideal, but also that that ideal includes the functions of public life. The state in his view is not merely the convenient machinery that raises a man above his animal wants and sets him free to follow his own devices; it is itself his end, or at least a part of it. And from this it follows that the regulations of the state were not regarded by the Greeks-as they are apt to be by modern men-as so many vexatious, if necessary, restraints on individual liberty; but rather as the expression of the best and highest nature of the citizen, as the formula of the conduct which the good man would naturally prescribe to himself. So that, to get a clear conception of what was at least the Greek ideal, however imperfectly it may have been attained in practice, we ought to regard the individual not as sacrificed to, but rather as realising himself in the whole. We shall thus come nearer to what seems to have been the point of view not only of Aristotle and of Plato, but also of the average Greek man.

Section 3. The Greek View of Law.

For nothing is more remarkable in the political theory of the Greeks than the respect they habitually express for law. Early legislators were believed to have been specially inspired by the divine power-Lycurgus, for instance, by Apollo, and Minos by Zeus; and Plato regards it as a fundamental condition of the well-being of any state that this view should prevail among its citizens. Nor was this conception of the divine origin of law confined to legend and to philosophy; we find it expressed in the following passage of Demosthenes, addressed to a jury of average Athenians, and representing at any rate the conventional and orthodox, if not the critical view of the Greek public:

"The whole life of men, O Athenians, whether they inhabit a great city or a small one, is governed by nature and by laws. Of these, nature is a thing irregular, unequal, and peculiar to the individual possessor; laws are regular, common, and the same for all. Nature, if it be depraved, has often vicious desires; therefore you will find people of that sort falling into error. Laws desire what is just and honourable and useful; they seek for this, and, when it is found, it is set forth as a general ordinance, the same and alike for all; and that is law, which all men ought to obey for many reasons, and especially because every law is an invention and gift of the Gods, a resolution of wise men, a corrective of errors intentional and unintentional, a compact of the whole state, according to which all who belong to the state ought to live." [Footnote: Demosth. in Aristogeit. Section 17.-Translation by C. R. Kennedy.]

In this opposition of Law, as the universal principle, to Nature, as individual caprice, is implied a tacit identification of Law and Justice. The identification, of course, is never complete in any state, and frequently enough is not even approximate. No people were more conscious of this than the Greeks, none, as we shall see later, pushed it more vigorously home. But still, the positive conception which lay at the root of their society was that which finds expression in the passage we have quoted, and which is stated still more explicitly in the "Memorabilia" of Xenophon, where that admirable example of the good and efficient citizen represents his hero Socrates as maintaining, without hesitation or reserve, that "that which is in accordance with law is just." The implication, of course, is not that laws cannot be improved, that they do at any point adequately correspond to justice; but that justice has an objective and binding validity, and that Law is a serious and on the whole a successful attempt to embody it in practice. This was the conviction predominant in the best period of Greece; the conviction under which her institutions were formed and flourished, and whose overthrow by the philosophy of a critical age was coincident with, if it was not the cause of, her decline.

Section 4. Artisans and Slaves.

We have now arrived at a general idea of the nature of the Greek state, and of its relations to the individual citizen. But there were also members of the state who were not citizens at all; there was the class of labourers and traders, who, in some states at least, had no political rights; and the class of slaves who had nowhere any rights at all. For in the Greek conception the citizen was an aristocrat. His excellence was thought to consist in public activity; and to the performance of public duties he ought therefore to be able to devote the greater part of his time and energy. But the existence of such a privileged class involved the existence of a class of producers to support them; and the producers, by the nature of their calling, be they slave or free, were excluded from the life of the perfect citizen. They had not the necessary leisure to devote to public business; neither had they the opportunity to acquire the mental and physical qualities which would enable them to transact it worthily. They were therefore regarded by the Greeks as an inferior class; in some states, in Sparta, for example, and in Thebes, they were excluded from political rights; and even in Athens, the most democratic of all the Greek communities, though they were admitted to the citizenship and enjoyed considerable political influence, they never appear to have lost the stigma of social inferiority. And the distinction which was thus more or less definitely drawn in practice between the citizens proper and the productive class, was even more emphatically affirmed in theory. Aristotle, the most balanced of all the Greek thinkers and the best exponent of the normal trend of their ideas, excludes the class of artisans from the citizenship of his ideal state on the ground that they are debarred by their occupation from the characteristic excellence of man. And Plato, though here as elsewhere he pushes the normal view to excess, yet, in his insistence on the gulf that separates the citizen from the mechanic and the trader, is in sympathy with the general current of Greek ideas. His ideal state is one which depends mainly on agriculture; in which commerce and exchange are reduced to the smallest possible dimensions; in which every citizen is a landowner, forbidden to engage in trade; and in which the productive class is excluded from all political rights. The obverse then, of the Greek citizen, who realised in the state his highest life, was an inferior class of producers who realised only the means of subsistence. But within this class again was a distinction yet more fundamental-the distinction between free men and slaves. In the majority of the Greek states the slaves were the greater part of the population; in Athens, to take an extreme case, at the close of the fourth century, they are estimated at 400,000, to 100,000 citizens. They were employed not only in domestic service, but on the fields, in factories and in mines, and performed, in short, a considerable part of the productive labour in the state. A whole large section, then, of the producers in ancient Greece had no social or political rights at all. They existed simply to maintain the aristocracy of citizens, for whom and in whom the state had its being. Nor was this state of things in the least repugnant to the average Greek mind. Nothing is more curious to the modern man than the temper in which Aristotle approaches this theme. Without surprise or indignation, but in the tone of an impartial, scientific inquirer, he asks himself the question whether slavery is natural, and answers it in the affirmative. For, he argues, though in any particular case, owing to the uncertain chances of fortune and war, the wrong person may happen to be enslaved, yet, broadly speaking, the general truth remains, that there are some men so inferior to others that they ought to be despotically governed, by the same right and for the same good end that the body ought to be governed by the soul. Such men, he maintains, are slaves by nature; and it is as much to their interest to be ruled as it is to their masters' interest to rule them. To this class belong, for example, all who are naturally incapable of any but physical activity. These should be regarded as detachable limbs, so to speak, of the man who owns them, instruments of his will, like hands and feet; or, to use Aristotle's own phrase, "the slave is a tool with life in it, and the tool a lifeless slave."

The relation between master and slave thus frankly conceived by the Greeks, did not necessarily imply, though it was quite compatible with, brutality of treatment. The slave might be badly treated, no doubt, and very frequently was, for his master had almost absolute control over him, life and limb; but, as we should expect, it was clearly recognised by the best Greeks that the treatment should be genial and humane. "There is a certain mutual profit and kindness," says Aristotle, "between master and slave, in all cases where the relation is natural, not merely imposed from without by convention or force." [Footnote: Arist. Pol. I. 7. 1255 b 12] And Plato insists on the duty of neither insulting nor outraging a slave, but treating him rather with even greater fairness than if he were in a position of equality.

Still, there can be no doubt that the Greek conception of slavery is one of the points in which their view of life runs most counter to our own. Centuries of Christianity have engendered in us the conviction, or rather, the instinct, that men are equal at least to this extent, that no one has a right explicitly to make of another a mere passive instrument of his will-that every man, in short, must be regarded as an end in himself. Yet even here the divergence between the Greek and the modern view is less extreme than it appears at first sight. For the modern man, in spite of his perfectly genuine belief in equality (in the sense in which we have just defined the word), does nevertheless, when he is confronted with racial differences, recognise degrees of inferiority so extreme, that he is practically driven into the Aristotelian position that some men are naturally slaves. The American, for example, will hardly deny that such is his attitude towards the negro. The negro, in theory, is the equal, politically and socially, of the white man; in practice, he is excluded from the vote, from the professions, from the amenities of social intercourse, and even, as we have recently learnt, from the most elementary forms of justice. The general and a priori doctrine of equality is shattering itself against the actual facts; and the old Greek conception, "the slave by nature", may be detected behind the mask of the Christian ideal. And while thus, even in spite of itself, the modern view is approximating to that of the Greeks, on the other hand the Greek view by its own evolution was already beginning to anticipate our own. Even Aristotle, in formulating his own conception of slavery, finds it necessary to observe that though it be true that some men are naturally slaves, yet in practice, under conditions which give the victory to force, it may happen that the "natural" slave becomes the master, and the "natural" master is degraded to a slave. This is already a serious modification of his doctrine. And other writers, pushing the contention further, deny altogether the theory of natural slavery. "No man," says the poet Philemon, "was ever born a slave by nature. Fortune only has put men in that position." And Euripides, the most modern of the Greeks, writes in the same strain: "One thing only disgraces a slave, and that is the name. In all other respects a slave, if he be good, is no worse than a freeman." [Footnote: Euripides, Ion. 854]

It seems then that the distinction between the Greek and the modern point of view is not so profound or so final as it appears at first sight. Still, the distinction, broadly speaking, is there. The Greeks, on the whole, were quite content to sacrifice the majority to the minority. Their position, as we said at the outset, was fundamentally aristocratic; they exaggerated rather than minimised the distinctions between men-between the Greek and the barbarian, the freeman and the slave, the gentleman and the artisan-regarding them as natural and fundamental, not as the casual product of circumstances. The "equality" which they sought in a well-ordered state was proportional not arithmetical-the attribution to each of his peculiar right, not of equal rights to all. Some were born to rule, others to serve; some to be ends, others to be means; and the problem to be solved was not how to obliterate these varieties of tone, but how to compose them into an ordered harmony.

In a modern state, on the other hand, though class distinctions are clearly enough marked, yet the point of view from which they are regarded is fundamentally different. They are attributed rather to accidents of fortune than to varieties of nature. The artisan, for example, ranks no doubt lower than the professional man; but no one maintains that he is a different kind of being, incapable by nature, as Aristotle asserts, of the characteristic excellence of man. The distinction admitted is rather one of wealth than of natural calling, and may be obliterated by ability and good luck. Neither in theory nor in practice does the modern state recognise any such gulf as that which, in ancient Greece, separated the freeman from the slave, or the citizen from the non-citizen.

Section 5. The Greek State Primarily Military, not Industrial.

The source of this divergence of view must be sought in the whole circumstances and character of the Greek states. Founded in the beginning by conquest, many of them still retained, in their internal structure, the marks of their violent origin. The citizens, for example, of Sparta and of Crete, were practically military garrisons, settled in the midst of a hostile population. These were extreme cases; and elsewhere, no doubt, the distinction between the conquerors and the conquered had disappeared. Still, it had sufficed to mould the conception and ideal of the citizen as a member of a privileged and superior class, whose whole energies were devoted to maintaining, by council and war, not only the prosperity, but the very existence of the state. The original citizen, moreover, would be an owner of land, which would be tilled for him by a subject class. Productive labour would be stamped, from the outset, with the stigma of inferiority; commerce would grow up, if at all, outside the limits of the landed aristocracy, and would have a struggle to win for itself any degree of social and political recognition. Such were the conditions that produced the Greek conception of the citizen. In some states, such as Sparta, they continued practically unchanged throughout the best period of Greek history; in others, such as Athens, they were modified by the growth of a commercial population, and where that was the case the conception of the citizen was modified too, and the whole polity assumed a democratic character. Yet never, as we have seen, even in the most democratic states, was the modern conception of equality admitted. For, in the first place, the institution of slavery persisted, to stamp the mass of producers as an inferior caste; and in the second place, trade, even in the states where it was most developed, hardly attained a preponderating influence. The ancient state was and remained primarily military. The great industrial questions which agitate modern states either did not exist at all in Greece, or assumed so simple a form that they did not rise to the surface of political life. [Footnote: There was, of course, the general opposition between rich and poor (see below). But not those infinitely complex relations which are the problems of modern statesmanship.] How curious it is, for example, from the modern point of view, to find Plato, a citizen of the most important trading centre of Greece, dismissing in the following brief sentence the whole commercial legislation of his ideal state:

"As to those common business transactions between private individuals in the market, including, if you please, the contracts of artisans, libels, assaults, law-proceedings, and the impanelling of juries, or again questions relating to tariffs, and the collection of such customs as may be necessary in the market or in the harbours, and generally all regulations of the market, the police, the custom-house, and the like; shall we condescend to legislate at all on such matters?

"No, it is not worth while to give directions on these points to good and cultivated men: for in most cases they will have little difficulty in discovering all the legislation required." [Footnote: Plato, Rep. IV. 425.-Translated by Davies and Vaughan.]

In fact, throughout his treatise it is the non-commercial or military class with which Plato is almost exclusively concerned; and in taking that line he is so far at least in touch with reality that that class was the one which did in fact predominate in the Greek state; and that even where, as in Athens, the productive class became an important factor in political life, it was never able altogether to overthrow the aristocratic conception of the citizen.

And with that conception, we must add, was bound up the whole Greek view of individual excellence. The inferiority of the artisan and the trader, historically established in the manner we have indicated, was further emphasised by the fact that they were excluded by their calling from the cultivation of the higher personal qualities-from the training of the body by gymnastics and of the mind by philosophy; from habitual conversance with public affairs; from that perfect balance, in a word, of the physical, intellectual, and moral powers, which was only to be attained by a process of self-culture, incompatible with the pursuance of a trade for bread. Such, at any rate, was the opinion of the Greeks. We shall have occasion to return to it later. Meantime, let us sum up the course of our investigation up to the present point.

We have seen that the state, in the Greek view, must be so limited, both in territory and population, that all its citizens might be able to participate in person in its government and defence; that it was based on fundamental class distinctions separating sharply the citizen from the non-citizen, and the slave from the free; that its end and purpose was that all-absorbing corporate activity in which the citizen found the highest expression of himself; and that to that end the inferior classes were regarded as mere means-a point of view which finds its completest expression in the institution of slavery.

Section 6. Forms of Government in the Greek State.

While, however, this was the general idea of the Greek state, it would be a mistake to suppose that it was everywhere embodied in a single permanent form of polity. On the contrary, the majority of the states in Greece were in a constant state of flux; revolution succeeded revolution with startling rapidity; and in place of a single fixed type what we really get is a constant transition from one variety to another. The general account we have given ought therefore to be regarded only as a kind of limiting formula, embracing within its range a number of polities distinct and even opposed in character. Of these polities Aristotle, whose work is based on an examination of all the existing states of Greece, recognises three main varieties: government by the one, government by the few, and government by the many; and each of these is subdivided into two forms, one good, where the government has regard to the well-being of the whole, the other bad, where it has regard only to the well-being of those who govern. The result is six forms, of which three are good, monarchy, aristocracy, and what he calls a "polity" par excellence; three bad, tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy. Of all these forms we have examples in Greek history, and indeed can roughly trace a tendency of the state to evolve through the series of them. But by far the most important, in the historical period, are the two forms known as Oligarchy and Democracy; and the reason of their importance is that they corresponded roughly to government by the rich and government by the poor. "Rich and poor," says Aristotle, "are the really antagonistic members of a state. The result is that the character of all existing polities is determined by the predominance of one or other of these classes, and it is the common opinion that there are two polities and two only, viz., Democracy and Oligarchy." [Footnote: Arist. Pol. VI. (IV) 1291 b8.-Translation by Welldon.] In other words, the social distinction between rich and poor was exaggerated in Greece into political antagonism. In every state there was an oligarchic and a democratic faction; and so fierce was the opposition between them, that we may almost say that every Greek city was in a chronic state of civil war, having become, as Plato puts it, not one city but two, "one comprising the rich and the other the poor, who reside together on the same ground, and are always plotting against one another." [Footnote: Plat. Rep. viii. 551-Translation by Davies and Vaughan]

Section 7. Faction and Anarchy.

This internal schism which ran through almost every state, came to a head in the great Peloponnesian war which divided Greece at the close of the fifth century, and in which Athens and Sparta, the two chief combatants, represented respectively the democratic and the oligarchic principles. Each appealed to the kindred faction in the states that were opposed to them; and every city was divided against itself, the party that was "out" for the moment plotting with the foreign foe to overthrow the party that was "in." Thus the general Greek conception of the ordered state was so far from being realised in practice that probably at no time in the history of the civilised world has anarchy more complete and cynical prevailed.

To appreciate the gulf that existed between the ideal and the fact, we have only to contrast such a scheme as that set forth in the "Republic" of Plato with the following description by Thucydides of the state of Greece during the Peloponnesian war:

"Not long afterwards the whole Hellenic world was in commotion; in every city the chiefs of the democracy and of the oligarchy were struggling, the one to bring in the Athenians, the other the Lacedaemonians. Now in time of peace, men would have had no excuse for introducing either, and no desire to do so; but when they were at war and both sides could easily obtain allies to the hurt of their enemies and the advantage of themselves, the dissatisfied party were only too ready to invoke foreign aid. And revolution brought upon the cities of Hellas many terrible calamities, such as have been and always will be while human nature remains the same, but which are more or less aggravated and differ in character with every new combination of circumstances. In peace and prosperity both states and individuals are actuated by higher motives, because they do not fall under the dominion of imperious necessities; but war which takes away the comfortable provision of daily life is a hard master, and tends to assimilate men's characters to their conditions.

"When troubles had once begun in the cities, those who followed carried the revolutionary spirit further and further, and determined to outdo the report of all who had preceded them by the ingenuity of their enterprises and the atrocity of their revenges. The meaning of words had no longer the same relation to things, but was changed by them as they thought proper. Reckless daring was held to be loyal courage; prudent delay was the excuse of a coward; moderation was the disguise of unmanly weakness; to know everything was to do nothing. Frantic energy was the true quality of a man. A conspirator who wanted to be safe was a recreant in disguise. The lover of violence was always trusted, and his opponent suspected. He who succeeded in a plot was deemed knowing, but a still greater master in craft was he who detected one. On the other hand, he who plotted from the first to have nothing to do with plots was a breaker-up of parties and a poltroon who was afraid of the enemy. In a word, he who could outstrip another in a bad action was applauded, and so was he who encouraged to evil one who had no idea of it. The tie of party was stronger than the tie of blood, because a partisan was more ready to dare without asking why (for party associations are not based upon any established law, nor do they seek the public good; they are formed in defiance of the laws and from self-interest). The seal of good faith was not divine law, but fellowship in crime. If an enemy when he was in the ascendant offered fair words, the opposite party received them, not in a generous spirit, but by a jealous watchfulness of his actions. Revenge was dearer than self-preservation. Any agreements sworn to by either party, when they could do nothing else, were binding as long as both were powerless. But he who on a favourable opportunity first took courage and struck at his enemy when he saw him off his guard, had greater pleasure in a perfidious than he would have had in an open act of revenge; he congratulated himself that he had taken the safer course, and also that he had overreached his enemy and gained the prize of superior ability. In general the dishonest more easily gain credit for cleverness than the simple for goodness; men take a pride in the one, but are ashamed of the other.

"The cause of all these evils was the love of power originating in avarice and ambition, and the party-spirit which is engendered by them when men are fairly embarked in a contest. For the leaders on either side used specious names, the one party professing to uphold the constitutional equality of the many, the other the wisdom of an aristocracy, while they made the public interests, to which in name they were devoted, in reality their prize. Striving in every way to overcome each other, they committed the most monstrous crimes; yet even these were surpassed by the magnitude of their revenges which they pursued to the very utmost, neither party observing any definite limits either of justice or public expediency, but both alike making the caprice of the moment their law. Either by the help of an unrighteous sentence, or grasping power with the strong hand, they were eager to satiate the impatience of party spirit. Neither faction cared for religion; but any fair pretence which succeeded in effecting some odious purpose was greatly lauded. And the citizens who were of neither party fell a prey to both; either they were disliked because they held aloof, or men were jealous of their surviving.

"Thus revolution gave birth to every form of wickedness in Hellas. The simplicity which is so large an element in a noble nature was laughed to scorn and disappeared. An attitude of perfidious antagonism everywhere prevailed; for there was no word binding enough, nor oath terrible enough to reconcile enemies. Each man was strong only in the conviction that nothing was secure; he must look to his own safety, and could not afford to trust others. Inferior intellects generally succeeded best. For aware of their own deficiencies, and fearing the capacities of their opponents, for whom they were no match in powers of speech, and whose subtle wits were likely to anticipate them in contriving evil, they struck boldly and at once. But the cleverer sort, presuming in their arrogance that they would be aware in time, and disdaining to act when they could think, were taken off their guard and easily destroyed." [Footnote: Thuc. iii. 82.-Translated by Jowett.]

The general indictment thus drawn up by Thucydides is amply illustrated by the events of war which he describes. On one occasion, for example, the Athenians were blockading Mitylene; the government, an oligarchy, was driven to arm the people for the defence; the people, having obtained arms, immediately demanded political rights, under threat of surrendering the city to the foreign foe; and the government, rather than concede their claims, surrendered it themselves. Again, Megara, we learn, was twice betrayed, once by the democrats to the Athenians, and again by the oligarchs to the Lacedaemonians. At Leontini the Syracusans were called in to drive out the popular party. And at Corcyra the people, having got the better of their aristocratic opponents, proceeded to a general massacre which extended over seven days, with every variety of moral and physical atrocity.

Such is the view of the political condition of Greece given to us by a contemporary observer towards the close of the fifth century, and it is a curious comment on the Greek idea of the state. That idea, as we saw, was an ordered inequality, political as well as social; and in certain states, and notably in Sparta, it was successfully embodied in a stable form. But in the majority of the Greek states it never attained to more than a fluctuating and temporary realisation. The inherent contradiction was too extreme for the attempted reconciliation; the inequalities refused to blend in a harmony of divergent tones but asserted themselves in the dissonance of civil war.

Section 8. Property and the Communistic Ideal.

And, as we have seen, this internal schism of the Greek state was as much social as political. The "many" and the "few" were identified respectively with the poor and the rich; and the struggle was thus at bottom as much economic as political. Government by an oligarchy was understood to mean the exploitation of the masses by the classes. "An oligarchy," says a democrat, as reported by Thucydides, "while giving the people the full share of danger, not merely takes too much of the good things, but absolutely monopolises them." [Footnote: Thuc. vi. 39.- Translated by Jowett.] And, similarly, the advent of democracy was held to imply the spoliation of the classes in the interest of the masses, either by excessive taxation, by an abuse of the judicial power to fine, or by any other of the semi-legal devices of oppression which the majority in power have always at their command. This substantial identity of rich and poor, respectively, with oligarch and democrat may be further illustrated by the following passage from Aristotle:

"In consequence of the political disturbances and contentions between the commons on the one hand and the rich on the other, whichever party happens to get the better of its opponents, instead of establishing a polity of a broad and equal kind, assumes political supremacy as a prize of the victory, and sets up either a Democracy or an Oligarchy." [Footnote: Arist. Pol. VI. (IV) 1296 a 27.-Translation by Welldon.]

We see then that it was the underlying question of property that infused so strong a rancour into the party struggles of Greece. From the very earliest period, in fact, we find it to have been the case that political revolution was prompted by economic causes. Debt was the main factor of the crisis which led to the legislation of Solon; and a re- division of the land was one of the measures attributed to Lycurgus. [Footnote: I have not thought it necessary for my purpose, here or elsewhere, to discuss the authenticity of the statements made by Greek authors about Lycurgus.] As population increased, and, in the maritime states, commerce and trade developed, the problem of poverty became increasingly acute; and though it was partially met by the emigration of the surplus population to colonies, yet in the fifth and fourth centuries we find it prominent and pressing both in practical politics and in speculation. Nothing can illustrate better how familiar the topic was, and to what free theorising it had led, than the passages in which it is treated in the comedies of Aristophanes. Here for example, is an extract from the "Ecclesiazusae" which it may be worth while to insert as a contribution to an argument that belongs to every age.

PRAXAGORA. I tell you that we are all to share alike and have everything in common, instead of one being rich and another poor, and one having hundreds of acres and another not enough to make him a grave, and one a houseful of servants and another not even a paltry foot-boy. I am going to introduce communism and universal equality.

BLEPSYRUS. How communism?

PRAX. That's just what I was going to tell you. First of all, everybody's money and land and anything else he may possess will be made common property. Then we shall maintain you all out of the common stock, with due regard to economy and thrift.

BLEPS. But how about those who have no land, but only money that they can hide?

PRAX. It will all go to the public purse. To keep anything back will be perjury.

BLEPS. Perjury! Well, if you come to that, it was by perjury it was all acquired.

PRAX. And then, money won't be the least use to any one.

BLEPS. Why not?

PRAX. Because nobody will be poor. Everybody will have everything he wants, bread, salt-fish, barley-cake, clothes, wine, garlands, chickpeas. So what will be the good of keeping anything back? Answer that if you can!

BLEPS. Isn't it just the people who have all these things that are the greatest thieves?

PRAX. No doubt, under the old laws. But now, when everything will be in common what will be the good of keeping anything back?

BLEPS. Who will do the field work?

PRAX. The slaves; all you will have to do is to dress and go out to dinner in the evening.

BLEPS. But what about the clothes? How are they to be provided?

PRAX. What you have now will do to begin with, and afterwards we shall make them for you ourselves.

BLEPS. Just one thing more! Supposing a man were to lose his suit in the courts, where are the damages to come from? It would not be fair to take the public funds.

PRAX. But there won't be any lawsuits at all!

BLEPS. That will mean ruin to a good many people!

BYSTANDER. Just my idea!

PRAX. Why should there be any?

BLEPS. Why! for reasons enough, heaven knows! For instance, a man might repudiate his debts.

PRAX. In that case, where did the man who lent the money get it from?

Clearly, since everything is in common, he must have stolen it!

BLEPS. So he must! An excellent idea! But now tell me this. When fellows come to blows over their cups, where are the damages to come from?

PRAX. From the rations! A man won't be in such a hurry to make a row when his belly has to pay for it.

BLEPS. One thing more! Will there be no more thieves?

PRAX. Why should any one steal what is his own?

BLEPS. And won't one be robbed of one's cloak at night?

PRAX. Not if you sleep at home!

BLEPS. Nor yet, if one sleeps out, as one used to do?

PRAX. No, for there will be enough and to spare for all. And even if a thief does try to strip a man, he will give up his cloak of his own accord. What would be the good of fighting? He has only to go and get another, and a better, from the public stores.

BLEPS. And will there be no more gambling?

PRAX. What will there be to play for?

BLEPS. And how about house accommodation?

PRAX. That will be the same for all. I tell you I am going to turn the whole city into one huge house, and break down all the partitions, so that every one may have free access to every one else. [Footnote: Aristoph. Eccles. 590.]

The "social problem," then, had clearly arisen in ancient Greece, though no doubt in an infinitely simpler form than that in which it is presented to ourselves; and it might perhaps have been expected that the Greeks, with their notion of the supremacy of the state, would have adopted some drastic public measure to meet it. And, in fact, in the earlier period of their history, as has been indicated above, we do find sweeping revolutions effected in the distribution of property. In Athens, Solon abolished debt, either in whole or part, by reducing the rate of interest and depreciating the currency; and in Sparta Lycurgus is said to have resumed the whole of the land for the state, and redivided it equally among the citizens. We have also traces of laws existing in other states to regulate in the interests of equality the possession and transfer of land. But it does not appear that any attempt was made in any state permanently to control by public authority the production and distribution of wealth. Meantime, however, the problem of social inequality was exercising the minds of political theorists; and we have notice of various schemes for an ideal polity framed upon communistic principles. Of these the most important, and the only one preserved to us, is the celebrated "Republic" of Plato; and never, it may be safely asserted, was a plan of society framed so consistent, harmonious and beautiful in itself, or so indifferent to the actual capacities of mankind. Following out what we have already indicated as the natural drift of Greek ideas, the philosopher separates off on the one hand the productive class, who are to have no political rights; and on the other the class of soldiers and governors. It is the latter alone with whom he seriously concerns himself; and the scheme he draws up for them is uncompromisingly communistic. After being purged, by an elaborate education, of all the egoistic passions, they are to live together, having all things in common, devoted heart and soul to the public good, and guiltless even of a desire for any private possession or advantage of their own. "In the first place, no one," says Plato, "should possess any private property, if it can possibly be avoided; secondly, no one should have a dwelling or store house into which all who please may not enter; whatever necessaries are required by temperate and courageous men, who are trained to war, they should receive by regular appointment from their fellow-citizens, as wages for their services, and the amount should be such as to leave neither a surplus on the year's consumption nor a deficit; and they should attend common messes and live together as men do in a camp: as for gold and silver, we must tell them that they are in perpetual possession of a divine species of the precious metals placed in their souls by the gods themselves, and therefore have no need of the earthly one; that in fact it would be profanation to pollute their spiritual riches by mixing them with the possession of mortal gold, because the world's coinage has been the cause of countless impieties, whereas theirs is undefiled: therefore to them, as distinguished from the rest of the people, it is forbidden to handle or touch gold and silver, or enter under the same roof with them, or to wear them in their dresses, or to drink out of the precious metals. If they follow these rules, they will be safe themselves and the saviours of the city: but whenever they come to possess lands, and houses, and money of their own, they will be householders and cultivators instead of guardians, and will become hostile masters of their fellow-citizens rather than their allies; and so they will spend their whole lives, hating and hated, plotting and plotted against, standing in more frequent and intense alarm of their enemies at home than of their enemies abroad; by which time they and the rest of the city will be running on the very brink of ruin." [Footnote: Plato, Rep. III. 416.-Translation by Davies and Vaughan.]

The passage is interesting, if only as an illustration of the way in which Plato had been impressed by the evil results of the institution of private property. But as a contribution to political theory it was open to severe attack from the representatives of experience and common sense. Of these, the chief was Aristotle, whose criticism has been preserved to us, and who, while admitting that Plato's scheme has a plausible appearance of philanthropy, maintains that it is inapplicable to the facts of human nature. To this conclusion, indeed, even Plato himself was driven in the end; for in his later work, the "Laws," although he still asserts that community of goods would be the ideal institution, he reluctantly abandons it as a basis for a possible state. On the other hand, he endeavours by the most stringent regulations, to prevent the growth of inequalities of wealth. He distributes the land in equal lots among his citizens, prohibiting either purchase or sub- division; limits the possession of money to the amount required for daily exchange; and forbids lending on interest. The object of a legislator, he declares, is to make not a great but a happy city. But only the good are happy, and goodness and wealth are incompatible. The legislator, therefore, will not allow his citizens to be wealthy, any more than he will allow them to be poor. He will seek to establish by law the happy mean; and to this end, if he despair of the possibility of a thorough-going communism, will legislate at least as indicated above. The uncompromising idealism of Plato's scheme, with its assumption of the indefinite plasticity of human nature, is of course peculiar to himself, not typical of Greek ideas. But it is noticeable that Aristotle, who is a far better representative of the average Greek mind, exhibits the same mistrust of the accumulation of private property. In the beginning of his "Politics" he distinguishes two kinds of money- making, one natural, that which is pursued for the sake of a livelihood, the other unnatural, that which is pursued for the sake of accumulation. "The motive of this latter," he says, "is a desire for life instead of for good life"; and its most hateful method is that of usury, the unnatural breeding of money out of money. And though he rejects as impracticable the compulsory communism of Plato's "Republic", yet he urges as the ideal solution that property, while owned by individuals, should be held as in trust for the common good; and puts before the legislator the problem: "so to dispose the higher natures that they are unwilling, and the lower that they are unable to aggrandise themselves." [Footnote: Aristotle, Pol. ii. 7. 1267 b 6.-Translation by Welldon.]

Such views as these, it may be noted, interesting though they be, as illustrating how keenly the thinkers of ancient Greece had realised the drawbacks of private property, have but the slightest bearing on the conditions of our own time. The complexity and extent of modern industry have given rise to quite new problems, and quite new schemes for their solution; and especially have forced into prominence the point of view of the producers themselves. To Greek thinkers it was natural to approach the question of property from the side of the governing class or of the state as a whole. The communism of Plato, for example, applied only to the "guardians" and soldiers, and not to the productive class on whom they depended; and so completely was he pre-occupied with the former to the exclusion of the latter, that he dismisses in a single sentence, as unworthy the legislator's detailed attention, the whole apparatus of labour and exchange. To regard the "working-class" as the most important section of the community, to substitute for the moral or political the economic standpoint, and to conceive society merely as a machine for the production and distribution of wealth, would have been impossible to an ancient Greek. Partly by the simplicity of the economic side of the society with which he was acquainted, partly by the habit of regarding the labouring class as a mere means to the maintenance of the rest, he was led, even when he had to deal with the problem of poverty and wealth, to regard it rather from the point of view of the stability and efficiency of the state, than from that of the welfare of the producers themselves. The modern attitude is radically different; a revolution has been effected both in the conditions of industry and in the way in which they are regarded; and the practice and the speculation of the Greek city-states have for us an interest which, great as it is, is philosophic rather than practical.

Section 9. Sparta.

The prece

ding attempt at a general sketch of the nature of the Greek state is inevitably loose and misleading to this extent, that it endeavours to comprehend in a single view polities of the most varied and discrepant character. To remedy, so far as may be, this defect, to give an impression, more definite and more complete, of the variety and scope of the political experience of the Greeks, let us examine a little more in detail the character of the two states which were at once the most prominent and the most opposed in their achievement and their aim- the state of Sparta on the one hand, and that of Athens on the other. It was these two cities that divided the hegemony of Greece; they represent the extremes of the two forms-oligarchy and democracy-under which, as we saw, the Greek polities fall; and from a sufficient acquaintance with them we may gather a fairly complete idea of the whole range of Greek political life.

In Sparta we see one extreme of the political development of Greece, and the one which approaches nearest, perhaps, to the characteristic Greek type. Of that type, it is true, it was an exaggeration, and was recognised as such by the best thinkers of Greece; but just for that reason it is the more interesting and instructive as an exhibition of a distinctive aspect of Greek civilisation.

The Spartan state was composed of a small body of citizens-the Spartiatae or Spartans proper-encamped in the midst of a hostile population to whom they allowed no political rights and by whose labour they were supplied with the necessaries of life. The distinction between the citizen class on the one hand and the productive class on the other was thus as clearly and sharply drawn as possible. It was even exaggerated; for the citizens were a band of conquerors, the productive class a subject race, perpetually on the verge of insurrection and only kept in restraint by such measures as secret assassination. The result was to draw together the small band of Spartiatae into a discipline so rigorous and close that under it everything was sacrificed to the necessity of self-preservation; and the bare maintenance of the state became the end for which every individual was born, and lived, and died. This discipline, according to tradition, had been devised by a single legislator, Lycurgus, and it was maintained intact for several centuries. Its main features may be summarised as follows.

The production and rearing of children, to begin at the beginning, instead of being left to the caprice of individuals, was controlled and regulated by the state. The women, in the first place, were trained by physical exercise for the healthy performance of the duties of motherhood; they were taught to run and wrestle naked, like the youths, to dance and sing in public, and to associate freely with men. Marriage was permitted only in the prime of life; and a free intercourse, outside its limits, between healthy men and women, was encouraged and approved by public opinion. Men who did not marry were subject to social and civic disabilities. The children, as soon as they were born, were submitted to the inspection of the elders of their tribe; if strong and well-formed, they were reared; if not, they were allowed to die.

A healthy stock having been thus provided as a basis, every attention was devoted to its appropriate training. The infants were encouraged from the beginning in the free use of their limbs, unhampered by swaddling-clothes, and were accustomed to endure without fear darkness and solitude, and to cure themselves of peevishness and crying. At the age of seven the boys were taken away from the charge of their parents, and put under the superintendence of a public official. Their education, on the intellectual side, was slight enough, comprising only such rudiments as reading and writing; but on the moral side it was stringent and severe. Gathered into groups under the direction of elder youths- "monitors" we might call them-they were trained to a discipline of iron endurance. One garment served them for the whole year; they went without shoes, and slept on beds of rushes plucked with their own hands. Their food was simple, and often enough they had to go without it. Every moment of the day they were under inspection and supervision, for it was the privilege and the duty of every citizen to admonish and punish not only his own but other people's children. At supper they waited at table on their elders, answered their questions and endured their jests. In the streets they were taught to walk in silence, their hands folded in their cloaks, their eyes cast down, their heads never turning to right or left. Their gymnastic and military training was incessant; wherever they met, we are told, they began to box; under the condition, however, that they were bound to separate at the command of any bystander. To accustom them early to the hardships of a campaign, they were taught to steal their food from the mess-tables of their elders; if they were detected they were beaten for their clumsiness, and went without their dinner. Nothing was omitted, on the moral or physical side, to make them efficient members of a military state. Nor was the discipline relaxed when they reached years of maturity. For, in fact, the whole city was a camp. Family life was obliterated by public activity. The men dined together in messes, rich and poor alike, sharing the same coarse and simple food. Servants, dogs, and horses, were regarded as common property. Luxury was strictly forbidden. The only currency in circulation was of iron, so cumbrous that it was impossible to accumulate or conceal it. The houses were as simple as possible, the roofs shaped only with the axe, and the doors with the saw; the furniture and fittings corresponded, plain but perfectly made. The nature of the currency practically prohibited commerce, and no citizen was allowed to be engaged in any mechanical trade. Agriculture was the main industry, and every Spartan had, or was supposed to have, a landed estate, cultivated by serfs who paid him a yearly rent. In complete accordance with the Greek ideal, it was a society of soldier-citizens, supported by an inferior productive class. In illustration of this point the following curious anecdote may be quoted from Plutarch. During one of the wars in which Sparta and her allies were engaged, the allies complained that they, who were the majority of the army, had been forced into a quarrel which concerned nobody but the Spartans. Whereupon Agesilaus, the Spartan king, "devised this expedient to show the allies were not the greater number. He gave orders that all the allies, of whatever country, should sit down promiscuously on one side, and all the Lacedaemonians on the other: which being done, he commanded a herald to proclaim, that all the potters of both divisions should stand out; then all the blacksmiths; then all the masons; next the carpenters; and so he went through all the handicrafts. By this time almost all the allies were risen, but of the Lacedaemonians not a man, they being by law forbidden to learn any mechanical business; and now Agesilaus laughed and said, "You see, my friends, how many more soldiers we send out than you do." [Footnote: Plut. Agesilaus.-Translation by Clough.]

And certainly, so far as its immediate ends were concerned, this society of soldier-citizens was singularly successful. The courage and efficiency of Spartan troops were notorious, and were maintained indeed not only by the training we have described, but by social penalties attached to cowardice. A man who had disgraced himself in battle was a pariah in his native land. No one would eat with him, no one would wrestle with him; in the dance he must take the lowest place; he must give the wall at meetings in the street, and resign his seat even to younger men; he must dress and bear himself humbly, under penalty of blows, and suffer the reproaches of women and of boys. Death plainly would be preferable to such a life; and we are not surprised to hear that the discipline and valour of Spartan troops was celebrated far and wide. Here is a description of them, given by one of themselves to the Persian king when he was projecting the invasion of Greece:

"Brave are all the Greeks who dwell in any Dorian land; but what I am about to say does not concern all, but only the Lacedaemonians. First, then, come what may, they will never accept thy terms, which would reduce Greece to slavery; and further, they are sure to join battle with thee, though all the rest of Greece should submit to thy will. As for their numbers, do not ask how many they are, that their resistance should be a possible thing; for if a thousand of them should take the field, they will meet thee in battle, and so will any number, be it less than this, or be it more.

"When they fight singly, they are as good men as any in the world, and when they fight in a body, they are the bravest of all. For though they be freemen, they are not in all respects free; Law is the master whom they own; and this master they fear more than thy subjects fear thee. Whatever he commands they do; and his commandment is always the same: it forbids them to flee in battle, whatever the number of their foes, and requires them to stand firm, and either to conquer or die." [Footnote: Herodotus vii. 102, 4.-Translation by Rawlinson.]

The practical illustration of this speech is the battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans kept at bay the whole Persian host, till they were betrayed from the rear and killed fighting to a man.

The Spartan state, then, justified itself according to its own ideal; but how limited that ideal was will be clear from our sketch. The individual, if it cannot be said that he was sacrificed to the state- for he recognised the life of the state as his own-was at any rate starved upon one side of his nature as much as he was hypertrophied upon the other. Courage, obedience, and endurance were developed in excess; but the free play of passion and thought, the graces and arts of life, all that springs from the spontaneity of nature, were crushed out of existence under this stern and rigid rule. "None of them," says Plutarch, an enthusiastic admirer of the Spartan polity "none of them was left alone to live as he chose; but passing their time in the city as though it were a camp, their manner of life and their avocations ordered with a view to the public good, they regarded themselves as belonging, not to themselves, but to their country." [Footnote: Plut. Lycurgus, ch. 24.] And Plato, whose ideal republic was based so largely upon the Spartan model, has marked nevertheless as the essential defect of their polity its insistence on military virtue to the exclusion of everything else, and its excessive accentuation of the corporate aspect of life. "Your military way of life," he says, "is modelled after the camp, and is not like that of dwellers in cities; and you have your young men herding and feeding together like young colts. No one takes his own individual colt and drags him away from his fellows against his will, raging and foaming, and gives him a groom for him alone, and trains and rubs him down privately, and gives him the qualities in education which will make him not only a good soldier, but also a governor of a state and of cities. Such a one would be a greater warrior than he of whom Tyrtaeus sings; and he would honour courage everywhere, but always as the fourth, and not as the first part of virtue, either in individuals or states." [Footnote: Plato Laws, II. 666 e.-Translation by Jowett].

The Spartan state, in fact, by virtue of that excellence which was also its defect-the specialising of the individual on the side of discipline and rule-carried within it the seeds of its own destruction. The tendencies which Lycurgus had endeavoured to repress by external regulation reasserted themselves in his despite. He had intended once for all both to limit and to equalise private property; but already as early as the fifth century Spartans had accumulated gold which they deposited in temples in foreign states; the land fell, by inheritance and gift, into the hands of a small minority; the number of the citizens was reduced, not only by war, but by the disfranchisement attending inability to contribute to the common mess-tables; till at last we find no more than 700 Spartan families, and of these no more than 100 possessing estates in land.

And this decline from within was hastened by external events. The constitution devised for a small state encamped amidst a hostile population, broke down under the weight of imperial power. The conquest of Athens by Sparta was the signal of her own collapse. The power and wealth she had won at a stroke alienated her sons from her discipline. Generals and statesmen who had governed like kings the wealthy cities of the east were unable to adapt themselves again to the stern and narrow rules of Lycurgus. They rushed into freedom and enjoyment, into the unfettered use of their powers, with an energy proportional to the previous restraint. The features of the human face broke through the fair but lifeless mask of ancient law; and the Spartan, ceasing to be a Spartan, both rose and fell to the level of a man.

Section 10. Athens.

In the institutions of Sparta we see, carried to its furthest point, one side of the complex Greek nature-their capacity for discipline and law. Athens, the home of a different stock, gives us the other extreme-their capacity for rich and spontaneous individual development. To pass from Sparta to Athens, is to pass from a barracks to a playing-field. All the beauty, all the grace, all the joy of Greece; all that chains the desire of mankind, with a yearning that is never stilled, to that one golden moment in the past, whose fair and balanced interplay of perfect flesh and soul no later gains of thought can compensate, centres about that bright and stately city of romance, the home of Pericles and all the arts, whence from generation to generation has streamed upon ages less illustrious an influence at once the sanest and the most inspired of all that have shaped the secular history of the world. Girt by mountain and sea, by haunted fountain and sacred grove, shaped and adorned by the master hands of Pheidias and Polygnotus and filled with the breath of passion and song by Euripides and Plato, Athens, famed alike for the legended deeds of heroes and gods and for the feats of her human sons in council, art, and war, is a name, to those who have felt her spell, more familiar and more dear than any of the few that mark with gold the sombre scroll of history. And still across the years we feel the throb of the glorious verse that broke in praise of his native land from the lips of Euripides:

"Happy of yore were the children of race divine

Happy the sons of old Erechtheus' line

Who in their holy state

With hands inviolate

Gather the flower of wisdom far-renowned,

Lightly lifting their feet in the lucid air

Where the sacred nine, the Pierid Muses, bare

Harmonia golden-crowned.

There in the wave from fair Kephisus flowing

Kupris sweetens the winds and sets them blowing

Over the delicate land;

And ever with joyous hand

Braiding her fragrant hair with the blossom of roses,

She sendeth the Love that dwelleth in Wisdom's place

That every virtue may quicken and every grace

In the hearts where she reposes."

[Footnote: Eurip. Medea, 825.]

And this, the Athens of poetry and art, is but another aspect of the Athens of political history. The same individuality, the same free and passionate energy that worked in the hearts of her sculptors and her poets, moulded also and inspired her city life. In contradistinction to the stern and rigid discipline of Sparta, the Athenian citizen displayed the resource, the versatility and the zeal that only freedom and self- reliance can teach. The contrast is patent at every stage of the history of the two states, and has been acutely set forth by Thucydides in the speech which he puts into the mouths of the Corinthian allies of Sparta:

"You have never considered," they say to the Lacedaemonians, "what manner of men are these Athenians with whom you will have to fight, and how utterly unlike yourselves. They are revolutionary, equally quick in the conception and in the execution of every new plan; while you are conservative-careful only to keep what you have, originating nothing, and not acting even when action is most necessary. They are bold beyond their strength; they run risks which prudence would condemn; and in the midst of misfortunes they are full of hope. Whereas it is your nature, though strong, to act feebly; when your plans are most prudent, to distrust them; and when calamities come upon you, to think that you will never be delivered from them. They are impetuous, and you are dilatory; they are always abroad, and you are always at home. For they hope to gain something by leaving their homes; but you are afraid that any new enterprise may imperil what you have already. When conquerors, they pursue their victory to the utmost; when defeated, they fall back the least. Their bodies they devote to their country as though they belonged to other men; their true self is their mind, which is most truly their own when employed in her service. When they do not carry out an intention which they have formed, they seem to have sustained a personal bereavement; when an enterprise succeeds, they have gained a mere instalment of what is to come; but if they fail, they at once conceive new hopes and so fill up the void.

"With them alone to hope is to have, for they lose not a moment in the execution of an idea. This is the lifelong task, full of danger and toil, which they are always imposing upon themselves. None enjoy their good things less, because they are always seeking for more. To do their duty is their only holiday, and they deem the quiet of inaction to be as disagreeable as the most tiresome business. If a man should say of them, in a word, that they were born neither to have peace themselves nor to allow peace to other men, he would simply speak the truth." [Footnote: Thuc. i. 70.-Translated by Jowett.]

The qualities here set forth by Thucydides as characteristic of the Athenians, were partly the cause and partly the effect of their political constitution. The history of Athens, indeed, is the very antithesis to that of Sparta. In place of a type fixed at a stroke and enduring for centuries, she presents a series of transitions through the whole range of polities, to end at last in a democracy so extreme that it refuses to be included within the limits of the general formula of the Greek state.

Seldom, indeed, has "equality" been pushed to so extreme a point as it was, politically at least, in ancient Athens. The class of slaves, it is true, existed there as in every other state; but among the free citizens, who included persons of every rank, no political distinction at all was drawn. All of them, from the lowest to the highest, had the right to speak and vote in the great assembly of the people which was the ultimate authority; all were eligible to every administrative post; all sat in turn as jurors in the law-courts. The disabilities of poverty were minimised by payment for attendance in the assembly and the courts. And, what is more extraordinary, even distinctions of ability were levelled by the practice of filling all offices, except the highest, by lot.

Had the citizens been a class apart, as was the case in Sparta, had they been subjected from the cradle to a similar discipline and training, forbidden to engage in any trade or business, and consecrated to the service of the state, there would have been nothing surprising in this uncompromising assertion of equality. But in Athens the citizenship was extended to every rank and calling; the poor man jostled the rich, the shopman the aristocrat, in the Assembly; cobblers, carpenters, smiths, farmers, merchants, and retail traders met together with the ancient landed gentry, to debate and conclude on national affairs; and it was from such varied elements as these that the lot impartially chose the officials of the law, the revenue, the police, the highways, the markets, and the ports, as well as the jurors at whose mercy stood reputation, fortune, and life. The consequence was that in Athens, at least in the later period of her history, the middle and lower classes tended to monopolise political power. Of the popular leaders, Cleon, the most notorious, was a tanner; another was a baker, another a cattle- dealer. Influence belonged to those who had the gift of leading the mass; and in that competition the man of tongue, of energy, and of resource, was more than a match for the aristocrat of birth and intellect.

The constitution of Athens, then, was one of political equality imposed upon social inequality. To illustrate the point we may quote a passage from Aristophanes which shows at once the influence exercised by the trading class and the disgust with which that influence was regarded by the aristocracy whom the poet represents. The passage is taken from the "Knights," a comedy written to discredit Cleon, and turning upon the expulsion of the notorious tanner from the good graces of Demos, by the superior impudence and address of a sausage-seller. Demosthenes, a general of the aristocratic party, is communicating to the latter the destiny that awaits him.


Set these poor wares aside; and now-bow down

To the ground; and adore the powers of earth and heaven.

S.-S. Heigh-day! Why, what do you mean?

DEM. O happy man!

Unconscious of your glorious destiny,

Now mean and unregarded; but to-morrow,

The mightiest of the mighty, Lord of Athens.

S.-S. Come, master, what's the use of making game?

Why can't ye let me wash my guts and tripe,

And sell my sausages in peace and quiet?

DEM. O simple mortal, cast those thoughts aside!

Bid guts and tripe farewell! Look here! Behold!

(pointing to the audience)

The mighty assembled multitude before ye!

S.-S. (with a grumble of indifference).

I see 'em.

DEM. You shall be their lord and master,

The sovereign and the ruler of them all,

Of the assemblies and tribunals, fleets and armies;

You shall trample down the Senate under foot,

Confound and crush the generals and commanders,

Arrest, imprison, and confine in irons,

And feast and fornicate in the Council House.

S.-S. Are there any means of making a great man

Of a sausage-selling fellow such as I?

DEM. The very means you have, must make ye so,

Low breeding, vulgar birth, and impudence,

These, these must make ye, what you're meant to be.

S.-S. I can't imagine that I'm good for much.

DEM. Alas! But why do ye say so? What's the meaning

Of these misgivings? I discern within ye

A promise and an inward consciousness

Of greatness. Tell me truly: are ye allied

To the families of gentry?

S.-S. Naugh, not I;

I'm come from a common ordinary kindred,

Of the lower order.

DEM. What a happiness!

What a footing will it give ye! What a groundwork

For confidence and favour at your outset!

S.-S. But bless ye! only consider my education!

I can but barely read…. in a kind of way.

DEM. That makes against ye!-the only thing against ye-

The being able to read, in any way:

For now no lead nor influence is allowed

To liberal arts or learned education,

But to the brutal, base, and underbred.

Embrace then and hold fast the promises

Which the oracles of the gods announce to you.

[Footnote: Aristoph. Knights. 155.-Translation by Frere.]

We have here an illustration, one among many that might be given, of the political equality that prevailed in Athens. It shows us how completely that distinction between the military or governing, and the productive class, which belonged to the normal Greek conception of the state, had been broken down, on the side at least of privilege and right, though not on that of social estimation, in this most democratic of the ancient states. Politically, the Athenian trader and the Athenian artisan was the equal of the aristocrat of purest blood; and so far the government of Athens was a genuine democracy.

But so far only. For in Athens, as in every Greek state, the greater part of the population was unfree; and the government which was a democracy from the point of view of the freeman, was an oligarchy from the point of view of the slave. For the slaves, by the nature of their position, had no political rights; and they were more than half of the population. It is noticeable, however, that the freedom and individuality which was characteristic of the Athenian citizen, appears to have reacted favourably on the position of the slaves. Not only had they, to a certain extent, the protection of the law against the worst excesses of their masters, but they were allowed a license of bearing and costume which would not have been tolerated in any other state. A contemporary writer notes that in dress and general appearance Athenian slaves were not to be distinguished from citizens; that they were permitted perfect freedom of speech; and that it was open to them to acquire a fortune and to live in ease and luxury. In Sparta, he says, the slave stands in fear of the freeman, but in Athens this is not the case; and certainly the bearing of the slaves introduced into the Athenian comedy does not indicate any undue subservience. Slavery at the best is an undemocratic institution; but in Athens it appears to have been made as democratic as its nature would admit.

We find then, in the Athenian state, the conception of equality pushed to the farthest extreme at all compatible with Greek ideas; pushed, we may fairly say, at last to an undue excess; for the great days of Athens were those when she was still under the influence of her aristocracy, and when the popular zeal evoked by her free institutions was directed by members of the leisured and cultivated class. The most glorious age of Athenian history closes with the death of Pericles; and Pericles was a man of noble family, freely chosen, year after year, by virtue of his personal qualities, to exercise over this democratic nation a dictatorship of character and brain. It is into his mouth that Thucydides has put that great panegyric of Athens, which sets forth to all time the type of an ideal state and the record of what was at least partially achieved in the greatest of the Greek cities:

"Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. We do not copy our neighbours, but are an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while the law secures equal justice to all alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognised; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty a bar, but a man may benefit his country whatever be the obscurity of his condition. There is no exclusiveness in our public life, and in our private intercourse we are not suspicious of one another, nor angry with our neighbour if he does what he likes; we do not put on sour looks at him, which, though harmless, are not pleasant. While we are thus unconstrained in our private intercourse, a spirit of reverence pervades our public acts; we are prevented from doing wrong by respect for authority and for the laws, having an especial regard for those which are ordained for the protection of the injured, as well as for those unwritten laws which bring upon the transgressor of them the reprobation of the general sentiment.

"And we have not forgotten to provide for our weary spirits many relaxations from toil; we have regular games and sacrifices throughout the year; at home the style of our life is refined; and the delight which we daily feel in all these things helps to banish melancholy. Because of the greatness of our city the fruits of the whole earth flow in upon us, so that we enjoy the goods of other countries as freely as of our own.

"Then again, our military training is in many respects superior to that of our adversaries. Our city is thrown open to the world, and we never expel a foreigner or prevent him from seeing or learning anything of which the secret if revealed to an enemy might profit him. We rely not upon management and trickery, but upon our own hearts and hands. And in the matter of education, whereas they from early youth are always undergoing laborious exercises which are to make them brave, we live at ease, and yet are ready to face the perils which they face.

"If then we prefer to meet danger with a light heart but without laborious training, and with a courage which is gained by habit and not enforced by law, are we not greatly the gainers? Since we do not anticipate the pain, although when the hour comes, we can be as brave as those who never allow themselves to rest; and thus too our city is equally admirable in peace and in war. For we are lovers of the beautiful, yet simple in our tastes, and we cultivate the mind without loss of manliness.

"Wealth we employ, not for talk and ostentation, but when there is a real use for it. To avow poverty with us is no disgrace; the true disgrace is in doing nothing to avoid it. An Athenian citizen does not neglect the state because he takes care of his own household; and even those of us who are engaged in business have a very fair idea of politics. We alone regard a man who takes no interest in public affairs, not as a harmless, but as a useless character; and if few of us are originators, we are all sound judges of a policy. The great impediment to action is, in our opinion, not discussion but the want of that knowledge which is gained by discussion preparatory to action. For we have a peculiar power of thinking before we act, and of acting too, whereas other men are courageous from ignorance but hesitate upon reflection. And they are surely to be esteemed the bravest spirits who have the clearest sense both of the pains and pleasures of life, but do not on that account shrink from danger.

"To sum up, I say that Athens is the school of Hellas, and that the individual Athenian in his own person seems to have the power of adapting himself to the most varied forms of action with the utmost versatility and grace. This is no passing and idle word, but truth and fact; and the assertion is verified by the position to which these qualities have raised the state. For in the hour of trial Athens alone among her contemporaries is superior to the report of her. No enemy who comes against her is indignant at the reverses which he sustains at the hands of such a city; no subject complains that his masters are unworthy of him. And we shall assuredly not be without witnesses; there are mighty monuments of our power which will make us the wonder of this and of succeeding ages: we shall not need the praises of Homer or of any other panegyrist, whose poetry may please for the moment, although his representation of the facts will not bear the light of day. For we have compelled every land, every sea, to open a path for our valour, and have everywhere planted eternal memorials of our friendship and of our enmity." [Footnote: Thuc. ii. 37.-Translated by Jowett.]

An impression so superb as this it is almost a pity to mar with the inevitable complement of disaster and decay. But our account of the Athenian polity would be misleading and incomplete if we did not indicate how the idea of equality, on which it turned, defeated itself, as did, in Sparta, the complementary idea of order, by the excesses of its own development. Already before the close of the fifth century, and with reiterated emphasis in the earlier decades of the fourth, we hear from poets and orators praise of a glorious past that is dead, and denunciations of a decadent present. The ancient training in gymnastics, we are told, the ancient and generous culture of mind and soul, is neglected and despised by a generation of traders; reverence for age and authority, even for law, has disappeared; and in the train of these have gone the virtues they engendered and nurtured. Cowardice has succeeded to courage, disorder to discipline; the place of the statesman is usurped by the demagogue; and instead of a nation of heroes, marshalled under the supremacy of the wise and good, modern Athens presents to view a disordered and competitive mob, bent only on turning each to his own personal advantage the now corrupt machinery of administration and law.

And however much exaggeration there may be in these denunciations and regrets, we know enough of the interior working of the institutions of Athens to see that she had to pay in licence and in fraud the bitter price of equality and freedom. That to the influence of disinterested statesmen succeeded, as the democracy accentuated itself, the tyranny of unscrupulous demagogues, is evidenced by the testimony, not only of the enemies of popular government, but by that of a democrat so convinced as Demosthenes. "Since these orators have appeared," he says, "who ask, What is your pleasure? what shall I move? how can I oblige you? the public welfare is complimented away for a moment's popularity, and these are the results; the orators thrive, you are disgraced…. Anciently the people, having the courage to be soldiers, controlled the statesmen, and disposed of all emoluments; any of the rest were happy to receive from the people his share of honour, office, or advantage. Now, contrariwise, the statesmen dispose of emoluments; through them everything is done; you, the people, enervated, stripped of treasure and allies, are become as underlings and hangers-on, happy if these persons dole you out show- money or send you paltry beeves; and, the unmanliest part of all, you are grateful for receiving your own." [Footnote: Dem. 01. iii.- Translation by Kennedy.]

And this indictment is amply confirmed from other sources. We know that the populace was demoralised by payments from the public purse; that the fee for attendance in the Assembly attracted thither, as ready instruments in the hands of ambitious men, the poorest and most degraded of the citizens; that the fees of jurors were the chief means of subsistence for an indigent class, who had thus a direct interest in the multiplication of suits; and that the city was infested by a race of "sycophants", whose profession was to manufacture frivolous and vexatious indictments. Of one of these men Demosthenes speaks as follows:

"He cannot show any respectable or honest employment in which his life is engaged. His mind is not occupied in promoting any political good; he attends not to any trade, or husbandry, or other business; he is connected with no one by ties of humanity or social union: but he walks through the market-place like a viper or a scorpion, with his sting up- lifted, hastening here and there, and looking out for someone whom he may bring into a scrape, or fasten some calumny or mischief upon, and put in alarm in order to extort money." [Footnote: Demosth. in Aristogeit. A. 62.-Translated by C. R. Kennedy.]

From all this we may gather an idea of the way in which the Athenian democracy by its own development destroyed itself. Beginning, on its first emergence from an earlier aristocratic phase, with an energy that inspired without shattering the forms of discipline and law, it dissolved by degrees this coherent whole into an anarchy of individual wills, drawn deeper and deeper, in pursuit of mean and egoistic ends, into political fraud and commercial chicanery, till the tradition of the gentleman and the soldier was choked by the dust of adventurers and swindlers, and the people, whose fathers had fought and prevailed at Marathon and Salamis, fell as they deserved, by treachery from within as much as by force from without, into the grasp of the Macedonian conqueror.

Section 11. Sceptical Criticism of the Basis of the State.

Having thus supplemented our general account of the Greek conception of the state by a description of their two most prominent polities, it remains for us in conclusion briefly to trace the negative criticism under whose attack that conception threatened to dissolve.

We have quoted, in an earlier part of this chapter, a striking passage from Demosthenes, embodying that view of the objective validity of law under which alone political institutions can be secure. "That is law," said the orator, "which all men ought to obey for many reasons, and especially because every law is an invention and gift of the gods, a resolution of wise men, a correction of errors intentional and unintentional, a compact of the whole state, according to which all who belong to the state ought to live." That is the conception of law which the citizens of any stable state must be prepared substantially to accept, for it is the condition of that fundamental belief in established institutions which alone can make it worth while to adapt and to improve them. It was, accordingly, the conception tacitly, at least, accepted in Greece, during the period of her constructive vigour. But it is a conception constantly open to attack. For law, at any given moment, even under the most favourable conditions, cannot do more than approximate to its own ideal. It is, at best, but a rough attempt at that reconciliation of conflicting interests towards which the reason of mankind is always seeking; and even in well-ordered states there must always be individuals and classes who resent, and rightly resent it, as unjust. But the Greek states, as we have seen, were not well-ordered; on the contrary, they were always on the verge, or in the act, of civil war; and the conception of law, as "a compact of the whole state, according to which all who belong to the state ought to live," must have been, at the least, severely tried, in cities permanently divided into two factions, each intent not merely on defeating the other, but on excluding it altogether from political rights. Such conditions, in fact, must have irresistibly suggested the criticism, which always dogs the idea of the state, and against which its only defence is in a perpetual perfection of itself-the criticism that law, after all, is only the rule of the strong, and justice the name under which they gloze their usurpation. That is a point of view which, even apart from their political dissensions, would hardly have escaped the subtle intellect of the Greeks; and in fact, from the close of the fifth century onwards, we find it constantly canvassed and discussed.

The mind of Plato, in particular, was exercised by this contention; and it was, one may say, a main object of his teaching to rescue the idea of justice from identification with the special interest of the strong, and re-affirm it as the general interest of all. For this end, he takes occasion to state, with the utmost frankness and lucidity, the view which it is his intention to refute; and consequently it is in his works that we find the fullest exposition of the destructive argument he seeks to answer.

Briefly, that argument runs as follows:-It is the law of nature that the strong shall rule; a law which every one recognises in fact, though every one repudiates it in theory. Government therefore simply means the rule of the strong, and exists, no matter what its form, whether tyranny, oligarchy, or democracy, in the interests not of its subjects but of itself. "Justice" and "Law" are the specious names it employs to cloak its own arbitrary will; they have no objective validity, no reference to the well-being of all; and it is only the weak and the foolish on whom they impose. Strong and original natures sweep away this tangle of words, assert themselves in defiance of false shame, and claim the right divine that is theirs by nature, to rule at their will by virtue of their strength. "Each government," says Thrasymachus in the Republic, "has its laws framed to suit its own interests; a democracy making democratic laws; an autocrat despotic laws, and so on. Now by this procedure these governments have pronounced that what is for the interest of themselves is just for their subjects; and whoever deviates from this, is chastised by them as guilty of illegality and injustice. Therefore, my good sir, my meaning is, that in all cities the same thing, namely, the interest of the established government is just. And superior strength, I presume, is to be found on the side of government. So that the conclusion of right reasoning is, that the same thing, namely, the interest of the stronger, is everywhere just." [Footnote: Plato, Rep. 338.-Translated by Davies and Vaughan.]

Here is an argument which strikes at the root of all subordination to the state, setting the subject against the ruler, the minority against the majority, with an emphasis of opposition that admits of no conceivable reconciliation. And, as we have noticed, it was an argument to which the actual political conditions of Greece gave a strong show of plausibility.

How then did the constructive thinkers of Greece attempt to meet it?

The procedure adopted by Plato is curiously opposed to that which might seem natural to a modern thinker on politics. The scepticism which was to be met, having sprung from the extremity of class-antagonism, it might be supposed that the cure would be sought in some sort of system of equality. Plato's idea is precisely the contrary. The distinction between classes he exaggerates to its highest point; only he would have it depend on degrees, not of wealth, but of excellence. In the ideal republic which he constructs as a type of a state where justice should really rule, he sets an impassable gulf between the governing class and the governed; each is specially trained and specially bred for its appropriate function; and the harmony between them is ensured by the recognition, on either part, that each is in occupation of the place for which it is naturally fitted in that whole to which both alike are subordinate. Such a state, no doubt, if ever it had been realised in practice, would have been a complete reply to the sceptical argument; for it would have established a "justice" which was the expression not of the caprice of the governing class, but of the objective will of the whole community. But in practice such a state was not realised in Greece; and the experience of the Greek world does not lead us to suppose that it was capable of realisation. The system of stereotyping classes-in a word, of caste-which has played so great a part in the history of the world, does no doubt embody a great truth, that of natural inequality; and this truth, as we saw, was at the bottom of that Greek conception of the state, of which the "Republic" of Plato is an idealising caricature. But the problem is to make the inequality of nature really correspond to the inequality imposed by institutions. This problem Plato hoped to solve by a strict public control of the marriage relation, so that none should be born into any class who were not naturally fitted to be members of it; but as a matter of fact the difficulty has never been met; and the system of caste remains open to the reproach that its "justice" is conventional and arbitrary, not the expression of the objective nature and will of all classes and members of the community.

The attempt of Aristotle to construct a state that should be the embodiment of justice is similar to Plato's so far as the relation of classes is concerned. He, too, postulates a governing class of soldiers and councillors, and a subject class of productive labourers. When, however, he turns from the ideal to practical politics, and considers merely how to avoid the worst extremes of party antagonism, his solution is the simple and familiar one of the preponderance of the middle class. The same view was dominant both in French and English politics from the year 1830 onwards, and is only now being thrust aside by the democratic ideal. In Greece it was never realised except as a passing phase in the perpetual flux of polities. And in fine it may be said that the problem of establishing a state which should be a concrete refutation of the sceptical criticism that "justice" is merely another name for force, was one that was never solved in ancient Greece. The dissolution of the idea of the state was more a symptom than a cause of its failure in practice to harmonise its warring elements. And Greece, divided into conflicting polities, each of which again was divided within itself, passed on to Macedon and thence to Rome that task of reconciling the individual and the class with the whole, about which the political history of the world turns.

Section 12. Summary.

We have now given some account of the general character of the Greek state, the ideas that underlay it, and the criticism of those ideas suggested by the course of history and formulated by speculative thought. It remains to offer certain reflections on the political achievement of the Greeks, and its relation to our own ideas.

The fruitful and positive aspect of the Greek state, that which fastens upon it the eyes of later generations as upon a model, if not to be copied, as least to be praised and admired, is that identification of the individual citizen with the corporate life, which delivered him from the narrow circle of personal interests into a sphere of wider views and higher aims. The Greek citizen, as we have seen, in the best days of the best states, in Athens for example in the age of Pericles, was at once a soldier and a politician; body and mind alike were at his country's service; and his whole ideal of conduct was inextricably bound up with his intimate and personal participation in public affairs. If now with this ideal we contrast the life of an average citizen in a modern state, the absorption in private business and family concerns, the "greasy domesticity" (to use a phrase of Byron's), that limits and clouds his vision of the world, we may well feel that the Greeks had achieved something which we have lost, and may even desire to return, so far as we may, upon our steps, and to re-establish that interpenetration of private and public life by which the individual citizen was at once depressed and glorified.

It may be doubted, however, whether such a procedure would be in any way possible or desirable. For in the first place, the existence of the Greek citizen depended upon that of an inferior class who were regarded not as ends in themselves, but as means to his perfection. And that is an arrangement which runs directly counter to the modern ideal. All modern societies aim, to this extent at least, at equality, that their tendency, so far as it is conscious and avowed, is not to separate off a privileged class of citizens, set free by the labour of others to live the perfect life, but rather to distribute impartially to all the burdens and advantages of the state, so that every one shall be at once a labourer for himself and a citizen of the state. But this ideal is clearly incompatible with the Greek conception of the citizen. It implies that the greater portion of every man's life must be devoted to some kind of mechanical labour, whose immediate connection with the public good, though certain, is remote and obscure; and that in consequence a deliberate and unceasing preoccupation with the end of the state becomes as a general rule impossible.

And, in the second place, the mere complexity and size of a modern state is against the identification of the man with the citizen. For, on the one hand, public issues are so large and so involved that it is only a few who can hope to have any adequate comprehension of them; and on the other, the subdivision of functions is so minute that even when a man is directly employed in the service of the state his activity is confined to some highly specialised department. He must choose, for example, whether he will be a clerk in the treasury or a soldier; but he cannot certainly be both. In the Greek state any citizen could undertake, simultaneously or in succession, and with complete comprehension and mastery, every one of the comparatively few and simple public offices; in a modern state such an arrangement has become impossible. The mere mechanical and physical conditions of our life preclude the ideal of the ancient citizen.

But, it may be said, the activity of the citizen of a modern state should be and increasingly will be concerned not with the whole but with the part. By the development of local institutions he will come, more and more, to identify himself with the public life of his district and his town; and will bear to that much the same relation as was borne by the ancient Greek to his city state. Certainly so far as the limitation of area, and the simplicity and intelligibility of issues is concerned, such an analogy might be fairly pressed; and it is probably in connection with such local areas that the average citizen does and increasingly will become aware of his corporate relations. But, on the other hand, it can hardly be maintained that public business in this restricted sense either could or should play the part in the life of the modern man that it played in that of the ancient Greek. For local business after all is a matter of sewers and parks; and however great the importance of such matters may be, and however great their claim upon the attention of competent men, yet the kind of interest they awaken and the kind of faculties they employ can hardly be such as to lead to the identification of the individual ideal with that of public activity. The life of the Greek citizen involved an exercise, the finest and most complete, of all his powers of body, soul, and mind; the same can hardly be said of the life of a county councillor, even of the best and most conscientious of them. And the conclusion appears to be, that that fusion of public and private life which was involved in the ideal of the Greek citizen, was a passing phase in the history of the world; that the state can never occupy again the place in relation to the individual which it held in the cities of the ancient world; and that an attempt to identify in a modern state the ideal of the man with that of the citizen, would be an historical anachronism.

Nor is this a conclusion which need be regretted. For as the sphere of the state shrinks, it is possible that that of the individual may be enlarged. The public side of human life, it may be supposed, will become more and more mechanical, as our understanding and control of social forces grow. But every reduction to habit and rule of what were once spiritual functions, implies the liberation of the higher powers for a possible activity in other regions. And if advantage were taken of this opportunity, the inestimable compensation for the contraction to routine of the life of the citizen would be the expansion into new spheres of speculation and passion of the freer and more individual life of the man.

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