Page images

occur are certainly felt to be excrescences. We may also allow that Thucydides had some special weakness, whether personal, political, or literary, for dealing with this special subject and with the popular errors relating to it. But Colonel Mure's particular objections to the matter and argument of this particular episode seem to us quite wanting in force. His remarks are as follows:

"In noticing the charge against Alcibiades, of being concerned in the mutilation of the Herma, Thucydides accounts in the following terms for the intense excitement which prevailed in Athens on that occasion: For the Athenians, knowing by tradition the harshness which had marked the tyranny of Pisistratus and his sons towards its close, and also that its abolition was not the act of the people or of Harmodius, but of the Lacedæmonians, had been ever since, on occasions of this kind, peculiarly open to suspicion and alarm.' Then follows, in closer illustration of the cause of this feeling, the episode in question, narrating the transactions preceding the extinction of the Pisistratian dynasty; and in particular, how the murder of Hipparchus by the hand of Harmodius had been committed during the Panathenaic festival, the ceremonies of which had been turned to account by the conspirators in disarming suspicion and effecting their purpose. After following out the results of their act of tyrannicide to the deposition of Hippias, the historian resumes his former narrative, by the subjoined application of the case of Harmodius and the Panathenaïca to that of Alcibiades and the Hermæ: The remembrance of which things having been deeply imprinted at the time, and constantly renewed by tradition in the minds of the Athenians, rendered them keenly alive to any tampering with their sacred ceremonial, and rigorous in calling to account those suspected of such practices, which were inseparably associated in their thoughts with plots to establish oligarchal or tyrannical governments ""(p. 131).

As usual- -we are sorry to say it, but truth will out-Colonel Mure cannot, or will not, translate his Greek. He here, as it seems to us, first misconceives the general bearing of the whole passage, and then mistranslates particular clauses into agreement with the general misconception. Colonel Mure supposes Thucydides to be talking of the special fear of the Athenians of any tampering with their religious ceremonial. What he is really speaking of is the general dread of tyranny which they felt or were said to feel, and which is keenly satirised by Aristophanes. With this feeling a strong sensitiveness about their religious ceremonial was united by a connection of ideas strange to us, but which Mr. Grote has fully explained. In the Attic mind any thing savouring of false doctrine, heresy, and schism, was held to be quite sufficient evidence of sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion. The blasphemer or profane person would alienate

the favour of the gods, and so jeopard the prosperity of the state. Hence the inference that men who overthrew Hermai and polluted mysteries were going about to establish oligarchy or despotism. But Thucydides is not commenting on this peculiar vein of combined religious and political sentiment; he assumes it, while enlarging on the general dread of tyranny. Hence Colonel Mure's question, "what analogy is there between the case of the tyrannicides and that of Alkibiades?" falls to the ground. Thucydides, or the Demos of whom he speaks, was not trying to set up any analogy between Alkibiades (if it was Alkibiades) and the tyrannicides, but between Alkibiades and the tyrants. And the reference to the fact that the tyrants were really expelled by the Lacedæmonians is very far from having, as Colonel Mure implies, nothing to do with the matter. The general line of argument in the popular mind is this: "These men commit sacrilege; therefore (by the process of reasoning explained above) they want to set up a tyranny. But we will have no tyranny. Tyrants are very terrible persons, and very hard to get rid of. The Peisistratidai were very oppressive, and we could not get rid of them without Lacedæmonian help. What will happen, if we have a tyranny now, when the Lacedæmonians are against us?" This is the general argument; only Thucydides confuses it by going out of his way to correct certain errors of detail in the popular conception of the event. A modern writer would have thrown such a digression into a note or an appendix. Thucydides was obliged either to leave it alone or to intrude it upon his text. In the text it is certainly very much out of its place; but it produces no such "palpable inconsistency" as Colonel Mure supposes. There is not even that previous inconsistency which he is half disposed to "allow to pass." "The popular Athenian public" supposed that Hipparchos was actually in possession of the tyranny, and that Harmodios and Aristogeiton were actuated by patriotic motives. "More critical inquirers" believed that Hipparchos was only brother to the reigning tyrant, and that his death was owing to private enmity. But Thucydides does not represent the "popular Athenian public" as ignorant of the fact that the tyranny was ultimately suppressed by Lacedæmonian agency. His argument is perfectly sound and consistent, only he has unluckily confused it by an irrelevant digression. If he is in any way blameworthy, it is for the palpably inconclusive argument by which he attempts to establish the seniority of Hippias over Hipparchos.* The probability is, that Thucydides, from family connection or some other cause, had preserved a more accurate tradition of these events than that generally current at

* vi. 55.

Athens. He thought, however, that his mere ipse dixit might not carry sufficient weight against popular belief. He therefore felt bound to strengthen his case by some sort of argument or other; but he could unluckily find none better than those which he has inserted, and which are among the few weak things in his history.

And now for a word on Colonel Mure's translation. That certainly favours his own view, that the point of connection is the "tampering of religious ceremonial" alike by the tyrannicides and by the Hermokopids. But not so the text of Thucydides. Colonel Mure says that the Athenians "had ever been, on occasions of this kind, peculiarly open to suspicion and alarm." "Occasions of this kind" doubtless means "occasions of tampering with religious ceremonial." But Thucydides, like Aristophanes, goes much farther, and accuses them, truly or falsely, of being open to suspicion and alarm, not only on occasions of this kind, but on all occasions: poßeîto ȧeì kai πάντα ὑπόπτως ἐλάμβανε.* Similarly the second passage given in inverted commas by Colonel Mure in no way represents the corresponding passage of Thucydides. It stands thus:

ὧν ἐνθυμούμενος ὁ δῆμος ὁ τῶν ̓Αθηναίων, καὶ μιμνησκόμενος ὅσα ἀκοῇ περὶ αὐτῶν ἠπίστατο, χαλεπὸς ἦν τότε καὶ ὑπόπτης ἐς τοὺς περὶ τῶν μυστικῶν τὴν αἰτίαν λαβόντας, καὶ πάντα αὐτοῖς ἐδόκει ἐπὶ ξυνωμοσίᾳ ολιγαρχικῇ καὶ τυραννικῇ πεπράχθαι.

How Colonel Mure can get his English out of the above piece of Greek, we are quite at a loss to conjecture.

Nor are these by any means the only, though they are perhaps the most important, instances in which Colonel Mure altogether fails to reproduce either the substance or the manner of Thucydides in the passages which he selects for translation. Thus, with regard to Peisistratus and his sons in this very episode, Thucydides says that the latter τὴν πόλιν αὐτῶν καλῶς διεκόσunoav, as Herodotus, in the parallel passage, § had spoken of their father as one who ἐπὶ τοῖς κατεστεῶσι ἔνεμε τὴν πόλιν, KоσμÉWV KAλWS TE Kai ev. Colonel Mure,|| in both places, translates Siekóσμnoav and Kooμéwv by" adorned the city beautifully.” Surely the verb has nothing to do with the unfinished temple of Olympian Zeus, but with the general character of the Peisistratid government. Surely it means, as Liddell and Scott support us in holding that it means, not that they adorned the city beautifully, but that they ruled the city well. And when he is not thus positively inaccurate, his translations never re† vi. 60. vi. 54. Si. 59.

* vi. 53.

v. 31.

produce in the least degree the style and spirit of the author. Yet it is more especially important that they should do so in a work like the present, in which they are cited directly as literary specimens, and not merely for the sake of the information which they contain. Colonel Mure is particularly careless about those little technicalities of the age, which it is every where desirable to retain. When a modern writer, dealing with a mediæval chronicler, translates "Rex Francorum" by "King of France," when he talks of an emperor of Germany, or converts the 'Pouaîoi of a Byzantine author into Greeks; he is destroying so many touches which express the diplomacy of the age. Colonel Mure is guilty of nearly the same fault when he translates* the Mndioμós of Thucydides by "traitorous intercourse with the Persian king." Herodotus and Xenophon, both of them oriental antiquaries, correctly call the dominant Asiatic tribe Persians; Thucydides retains the common phrase of the general Greek public, and speaks of the Medes. A little lower+ Thucydides speaks of Пúdvav τὴν ̓Αλεξάνδρου;-Colonel Mure obliterates this characteristic designation, by translating "the Macedonian port of Pydna." Probably the Athenians of the age of Themistokles talked of Alexander and his country much as we now talk of Scindiah and Holkar, or in the same way that "Baldwines land" is the common designation of Flanders in the Saxon Chronicle. Two chapters on, we find in Thucydides the phrase, Mayνnoia Th 'Aoiavy;-Colonel Mure renders it "Magnesia in Asia Minor." Now here is a twofold error. First of all, Asia Minor is a designation not in use for ages after the time of Thucydides; secondly, this rendering obliterates the accurate geographical precision of the historian. Colonel Mure can hardly need to be told that there are two cities equally answering to his description of

Magnesia in Asia Minor," only one of which answers to that of Thucydides, Μαγνησία ἡ ̓Ασιανή. Thucydides means Magnesia in Asia, in the very narrowest sense of that last word, the district near Ephesos. Colonel Mure's description would equally suit the more northern city of Magnesia by Sipylos, from which Thucydides wishes to distinguish it.

There are numerous other points in which Colonel Mure, as it seems to us, misunderstands or fails to appreciate either Thucydides or his subject. He is the first writer that we know of who has tried to disparage either the funeral oration of Perikles, or the narrative of the battles in the harbour of Syracuse. Colonel Mure makes himself quite merry over the latter, and patches up his case by translating Euvaπovevovтes§ by the undignified phrases of "bobbing" or "ducking"! As for the fune

v. 155.

† Thue. i. 137.

pp. 176, 177.

§ Thục. vii. 71.

ral oration, our sense of Nemesis receives some satisfaction when we find that Colonel Mure, after attacking the opposition between "deeds" and "words" in the oration as a mere vagary of Thucydides, is obliged, in his "Additions and Corrections" to confess that, after all, it is probably really Periklean.

We have dwelt so long upon Colonel Mure's treatment of Thucydides, that we have but little space to give to his criticisms on the historical works of Xenophon. But, if we had more, we could do little else than affix a strong stamp of our general approval. The thorough unfairness, and, if the suppressio veri constitutes falsehood, the thorough falsehood of the Xenophontean narrative have never been better set forth than by Colonel Mure. But we must confess that we do not perceive in his Hellenics that vein of Attic patriotism which Colonel Mure recognises, especially in the earlier books. The cold and heartless way in which he records the subjugation of his own country is a strange contrast to the hearty sympathy which he shows for Laconia invaded by Epaminondas. And though we cannot enter upon the question, we adhere to Mr. Grote's view as to the banishment of Xenophon. Colonel Mure makes him out to have been banished while in Asia, without any apparent cause. Mr. Grote holds, and the historian's own text to our mind best confirms his view, that he was not banished till he had been guilty of manifest treason, till he had returned with Agesilaos and fought against his country at Koroneia. But Colonel Mure has opened an important field for consideration with regard to the trustworthiness of the Anabasis. He pointedly asks whether, as Xenophon is universally condemned as unfair in the Hellenics, where he sacrifices truth to the exaltation of his friend, he may not equally in the Anabasis have sacrificed truth to the exaltation of himself? And it is certainly a singular fact that Diodorus, in his succinct narrative of the Return, mentions several other Greck captains by name, but never once mentions Xenophon. Now Diodorus, though extremely stupid, is thoroughly honest, and he had before him many authors whom we have not. If the general testimony of his authorities assigned to Xenophon that prominent place in the Return which he occupies in his own narrative, it seems utterly impossible that his name could have escaped insertion in the Universal History of the laborious Sicilian.

We differ from Colonel Mure on many points both critical and historical, and we think that in this particular volume he has undertaken a subject for which he is less qualified than for some others. In so vast a field as Hellenic literature, no one man can be equally at home in every corner. But even where we think Colonel Mure least successful, there is always much

« PreviousContinue »