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introduction among his thirsty subjects. He raised an altar, at Athens, to the Upright Bacchus, and near it another, to the Nymphs. The fig too was not a very late introduction into Greece: an old mythical tale derived the Greek word expressing it from Sycæus, one of the Titans, for whose food it was declared to have been produced by Mother Earth, when he fled to her bosom for protection from the fury of Jupiter. Ælian, describing the earliest food of different nations, assigns acorns to the Arcadians, pears to the Argives and Tyrinthians, cresses to the Persians, and figs to the Athenians. Hercules, who no doubt understood the art of putting himself into what we call condition, and the Greeks veia, fed solely upon beef and green figs: the Indian king, therefore, who at a much later period, sent to a brother monarch of Syria for sweet wine, figs, and a sophist, might have had all three articles, in excellent condition, from Athens. To drink like a Greek, has become a proverb. The gods, it was understood, did not sit long at table; but the Greeks sat long, and drank deep. Long may you live,' was the congratulatory expression used to a person who drank off a large cup without taking breath; and that there might be no evasion, three public officers, we are assured, were elected in the free town of Athens, whose business it was to attend entertainments, and observe whether every person drank his portion.
The water-drinkers furnished the writers for the stage with some of their happiest attacks. When the Aristophanic Cleon vents his utmost indignation upon the great prototype of the modern
*This, translated into English, means, that symposiasts should mingle water with their wine, or join the ladies while their feet are steady.
+Readers, who value traits of national character, will hardly forgive us for omitting to mention here that evil which, under the name of Sycophancy, so peculiarly infested Athens. The term, as Mr. Mitford observes, originally signified information of the clandestine exportation of figs. Apparently to gratify the idle populace of the city, at the expense of the landholders, some demagogue had procured a law, forbidding the exportation of that plentiful production of the Attic soil. The absurdity of the probibition, however, making the information particularly invidious, the term Sycophant grew into use as a general appellation for all vexatious informers. Full as the Grecian writers are of invectives against this odious class of men, we know of none who have painted them with so much force and vivacity, as Lysias in his speeches, and Aristophanes in his Comedies. In Nicarchus, the sycophant of his Acharnians, the vice is mere instinct; like a staunch hound, he winds his game and runs close upon the scent. In his Birds, the sycophant, more bold than Chaucer's summoner,a whom he there resembles in vocation, announces his trade, and justifies it by reasoning: but sycophancy ran in the blood with him, and three generations, it seems, were necessary, in the poet's opinion, before so pleasurable an employment to an Athenian could be pursued upon something more than mere instinct. The informer in his Plutus is a solemn rogue, who annoys from motives of morality, and pillages and ruins people out of a pure spirit of patriotism.
a He dorste not, for veray filth and shame,
Say that he was a sonipnour for the name.-The Frere's Tale.
demagogues, among other reproaches, he calls him a waterdrinker; and that too, when this minister of the Athenian finance had no right to construe the abstemiousness into a premeditated injury of the excise.
Cleon. (fiercely.) Discuss-propound-your cause, your ground for these your words nefarious.
Sausage-Seller, (drawing himself up.) My powers of speech, my art to reach phrase seasoned high and various. Cleon. (a pause of astonishment; then with infinite contempt.) Your pow'rs of speech!' ill fare the cause beneath your hands e'er falling! Tatter'd and rent, 'twill soon present a sample of your calling. The same disease will fortune you, that meets our eyes not rarely:Hear-mark-reply, and own that I discuss the matter fairly. Some petty suit 'gainst strangers gain'd-anon you're set a-crowing; The mighty feat becomes forthwith a birth that's ever growing. By day, by night, on foot, on horse, when riding or when walking,Your life a mere soliloquy, still of this feat you're talking. You fall to drinking water next on generous wine you trample, While friends are sore, worn o'er and o'er with specimen and sample. And this attain'd, you think you've gain'd the height of oratóryHeav'n help you, silly wretch! you've yet to learn another story. This aversion to water was not confined to the men. At the holy feast of Ceres, where no male ever intruded, the poet just quoted represents his fair countrywomen as sitting in close committee upon the multiplied offences of Euripides against the sex. Their councils commence, like those of the General Assembly, with a series of imprecations. A curse is pronounced upon the person, who designs any evil against the female Demus; upon the culprit, who sends a herald to treat of peace with the Persians or Euripides; upon all, who are self-active, or abet others in promoting a tyranny; upon the male gallant, who forgets his promises, and the elderly female, who endeavours to make her years be forgotten in the splendour of her presents; but the final burst of indignation is reserved for those who in any way interfere with the ladies' potations.
-If there be, who malice-fraught,
Say they were-and they are not.'-Arist. in Thesm.
It is now time to quit the lower regions, and present' superior views of things,' shewing, as the excellent Whistlecraft observes, 'The higher orders of society Behaving with politeness and propriety."
The general mode of living among the citizens of Attica, is described with brevity and accuracy by Dr. Hill.
"There was very little variety,' says the learned professor, 'in the private life of the Athenians. All of them rose at daybreak, and spent a short time in the exercise of devotion. Soon after six in the morning, the judges (dicasts) took their seats on the tribunal, and those employed in agriculture, manufactures, or commerce, engaged in their different occupations. At mid-day, the more wealthy citizens, who by that time had commonly finished their serious business, refreshed themselves with a short sleep, and afterwards spent a few hours in hunting, or in the exercise of the palæstra, or in walking through the delightful groves on the banks of the Ilyssus and Cephisus; or still more frequently in discussing with each other, in the forum (agora), the interests of the state, the conduct of the magistrates, and the news of the day. It was also during the afternoon that the Athenians sometimes played at Xußeiα and TETTEIa; two games, the first of which resembled hazard, and the other either backgammon or chess.
During the day, the Athenians either took no food or only a slight repast in private. At sun-set they sat down to supper, and considering the business of the day as over, devoted the evening to society and amusement, and often continued to a late hour of the night.' Of these suppers or, more properly speaking, dinners, we propose to speak somewhat more at large hereafter.
The dîner d'ami'—that dinner which draws from an Englishman's cellar its oldest bottle of wine, and from his heart its oldest story-seems to have been as little agreeable to the Greeks, as to the nation from whose* language we have borrowed the term. 'Defend me,' says the lively + Menander with an evident feeling of horror,
from family repasts,
Nous mangerons ensemble un poulet sans façon;
+ In Athen. Schw. edit. v. ix. p. 277.
Les Dehors Trompeurs. Act. ii. sc. 10.
The grandsire last-a bass voice among trebles,
With "lack-a-day!” “ good sooth!" and " dearest dear!"
Nothing therefore remained for the Greeks but clubs or pic-nic parties, where each guest might send his own portion of the feast, or where one might provide, at a fixed price, an entertainment for all the rest. For parties of this kind the Athenians appear to have felt a passionate fondness. When Aristotle advocates the propriety of admitting that complex entity, the Public,' as he calls them, into a share of the government, he* more than once draws an argument from the pic-nic suppers, which he asserts were always better than those furnished by a single person. And Theophrastus, his great disciple, was so much persuaded of this truth, that among his legacies may be found one for the support of a picnic club. As some notices of this kind of entertainment have been given in another place, we shall not pursue the subject here, but shall clear the way for a more minute inquiry hereafter into the private entertainments of the Athenians, by observing, that, before the time of Menander, the law, to prevent too large a concourse of people at an entertainment, had limited the number of guests to thirty; that there were persons called Gynaeconomi, whose office it was to number the guests, and to see that this statute was not infringed; that it was an ancient practice to give a bill of fare to the master of the feasts, who communicated its contents, at proper intervals, to the guests—that the great man, whether host or guest, was generally attended by a †flatterer, whose office, from the epithets attached to him by Julius Pollux, (the most amusing of word-collectors,) was evidently no easy one-and that recreations for the sight and hearing (θεαματα, ακροαματα) made part of the entertainment. The supper-hunters, (TgEX EDITVO,) that class of persons upon whom is laid all the trouble of convivial conversation, and who are expected to perform the double task of never speaking with the mouth full, and yet never losing a mouthful, generally paid their quota in coin of the latter kind. They
* In Polit. lib. iii. c. 7. In the culinary Pleiades, to which we have before adverted, it is allowed that in broiling a fish no one excelled Agis of Rhodes; that Apthonetus shone above all the profession in a sausage or hog's-pudding, and that Nereus, the Chian, boiled a conger-cel in a manner which might have satisfied the gods. To Aristion was decreed the pre-eminent glory of laying out the contributions to a club-feast to superlative advantage.
The parasite was a later invention than the flatterer, properly so called. The latter was so much in request among the vain Athenians, as to furnish the philosophers with an axiom. piλoxcλaxeç o moλλo, says Aristotle, (in Ethicis, lib. viii. c. 8.) that is, on the score of toad-eating, man is more inclined to be the patient than the agent.'
who were present without contributing towards the entertainment, says Archbishop Potter, were termed acuμßoλo, in which condition, (continues the learned but plain-spoken archæologist,) ( were poets and singers, and others who made diversion for the company.' How little strict abstemiousne sness was observed at these entertainments will appear hereafter. It might also be inferred from the number of physicians, who, it is evident from the writings of Plato and Aristophanes, practised in Athens, and from the importance which Xenophon attaches to the fact that his great master could retire from a supper without overloading himself.*
The repasts of the common Athenians are much more easily decided. Herbs, pottage, salt fish, a barley cake not very nicely kneaded, these with a bottle of wine, and figs perhaps for a dessert, formed their usual diet, when a sacrifice or one of those feasts, which, on various pretences, were wrested from the rich, did not furnish a more substantial banquet. Thus the old dicast in the Wasps, who prefers the sparing modes of common life, when accompanied with the functions of the judicial office, to all the allurements which his wealthy son can offer him. We insert the whole of his speech, as it gives, we think, a very amusing view of domestic life at Athens.
'But the best of my lot I had nearly forgot-the court left and well loaded with honey,
Scarce in sight of my home, all the house, trooping, come, and embrace
me, such coz'nage hath money!
Next my girl, sprightly nymph! brings her napkin and lymph-feet
and ancles are quick in ablution;
Soft'ning oils o'er them spread, she stoops down her head, and drops kisses in utmost profusion.
"I'm her sweetest papa!-I'm the pride of the bar!"—her lips in mean time neatly playing,
As with rod and with line, the wench angles so fine, my day's pay is unconsciously straying.†
Seats her then by my side, Mrs. Dicast my pride,—feeling soul, she knows well what my calling,
And my labours to greet, brings refreshments most sweet, while speeches still sweeter are falling.
Deign this pottage to sip,-pass this cake o'er your lip―here's a soft and a soothing emulsion,
You cannot but chuse eat this pulse, nay, I'll use to my heart's dearest treasure compulsion.”
* There is a curious passage in one of the books of Plato's Republic, but to which we cannot refer at the moment, where Athens herself is considered as a sort of high-fed nervous patient-toujours dans les remèdes and only recovering a little strength, in order to plunge into the same excesses, which had previously deranged and shattered her system.
The young wheedler's mode of filching her father's obols, (not very delicate it must be confessed) arose out of a practice, common among the lower At of carrying their money in their mouths."