Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

For Ceres, who the veil undrew,
That screen'd her mysteries from his view,
Propitious this kind truth reveald,
That woman close besieg'd will yield.

Old Hesiod too his native shade Made vocal to th' Ascrean maid, The bard his heav'n-directed lore Forsook, and hymn'd the gods no more : Soft love-sick ditties now he sung, Love touch'd his harp, love tun'd his tongue, Silent his Heliconian lyre, And love's put out religion's fire.

Homer, of all past bards the prime, And wonder of all future time, Whom Jove with wit sublimely blest, And touch'd with purest fire his breast, From gods and heroes turu'd away To warble the domestic lay, And wand'ring to the desart isle, On whose parch'd sands no seasons smile, In distant Ithaca was seen Chaunting the suit-repelling Queen.

Mimnermus tun'd his am'rous lay,
When time had turn’d his temples grey;
Love revell'd in his aged veins,
Soft was his lyre, and sweet his strains ;
Frequenter of the wanton feast,
Nanno his theme, and youth his guest.

Antimachus with tender art
Pour'd forth the sorrows of his lieart;
In her Dardanian grave he laid
Chryseis his beloved maid ;
And thence returning sad beside
Pactolas' melancholy tide,
To Colophon the minstrel came,
Still sighing forth the mournful name,
Till lenient time his grief appeas'd,
And tears by long indulgence ceas d.

Alcæus strung his sounding lyre,
And smote it with a hand of fire,

To Sappho, fondest of the fair,
Chaunting the loud and lofty air.

Whilst old Anacreon, wet with wine, And crown'd with wreaths of Lesbian vine, To his unnatural minion sung Ditties that put to blush the young.

Ev'n Sophocles, whose honey'd lore Rivals the bee's delicious store, Chorus'd the praise of wine and love, Choicest of all the gifts of Jove.

Euripides, whose tragic breast
No yielding fair one ever prest,
At length in his obdurate heart
Felt love's revengeful rankling dart,
Thro’ Macedon with furious joy
Panting he chas'd the pathic boy;
Till vengeance met him in the way,
And blood-hounds made the bard their prey.

Philoxenus, by wood-nymphs bred
On fam'd Cithæron's sacred head,
And train'd to music, wine and song,
'Midst orgies of the frantic throng,
When beauteous Galatea died,
His flute and thyrsus cast aside;
And wand'ring to thy pensive coast,
Sad Melos, where his love was lost,
Each night 'thro’ the responsive air
Thy echoes witness'd his despair :
Still, still bis plaintive harp was heard,
Soft as the nightly-singing bird.

Philotas too Battis' praise
Sung his long-winded roundelays ;
His statue in the Coan grove
Now breathes in brass perpetual love.

The mortified abstemious sage,
Deep read in learning's crabbed page,
Pythagoras, whose boundless soul
Scald the wide globe ti'om pole to pole,

Earth, planets, seas and heav'n above,
Yet found no spot secure from love;
With love declines unequal war,
And trembling drags his conqueror's car,
Theano clasp'd him in her arms,
And wisdom stoop'd tu beauty's charms.

Ev'n Socrates, whose moral mind
With truth enlighten'd all mankind,
When at Aspasia's side he sate,
Still found no end to love's debate,
For strong indeed must be that heart
Where love finds no unguarded part.

Sage Aristippus by right rule
Of logic purg'd the Sophist's school,
Check'd folly in its headlong course,
And swept it down by reason's force;
'Till Venus aim'd the heart-felt blow
And laid the mighty victor low.

A little before the time that Pisistratus established his tyranny at Athens, the people of Greece had distinguished certain of their most eminent sages by the denomination of the Seven Wise Men. This flattering pre-eminence seems to have been distributed with more attention to the separate claims of the different states, than to the particular pretensions of the persons, who composed this celebrated junto : if any one community had affected to monopolize the prerogative of wisdom, others would hardly have subscribed their assent to so partial a distribution ; and yet when such distinguished characters as Pythagoras, Anacharsis the Scythian, Mison, Pherecydes, Epimenides, and Pisistratus himself, were excluded, or at best rated only as wiseinen-extraordinary, many of their admirers complained of the exclusion, and insisted on their being rated in the list; hence arises a difficulty in detere mining the precise number of the principals: the common account however is as follows, viz. Solo o of Athens, Thales of Miletus, Periander of Corinth, Cleobulus the Rhodian, Chilon the Lacedæmonian, Bias of Priene, and Pittacus of Mitylene.

This distribution was well calculated to inspire emulation amongst rival states, and to that emulation Greece was indebted for the conspicuous figure she made in the world of letters. The Ionic and Italian schools of philosophy were established under Thales and Pythagoras; the first was supported by Anaximander the successor of Thales, by Socrates, Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle, Diogenes, Zeno and other illustrious men ; Pythagoras's school devolved upon Empedocles, Heraclitas, Zenophanes, Democritus, Pyrrho and Epicurus. The original tenets of the first masters were by no means adhered to by their descendants ; the wanderings of error are not to be restrained by system ; hypothesis was built upon hypothesis, and the labyrinth at length became too intricate to be unravelled : sparks of light were in the mean time struck out by the active collision of wit; noble truths occasionally broke forth, and sayings, worthy to be registered amongst the doc. trines of Christian revelation, fell from heathen lips : in the lofty spirit of philosophy they insulted pain, resisted pleasure, and set at defiance death itself. Respect is due to so much dignity of character; the meek forgiving tenets, which Christianity inculcates, were touched upon but lightly and by few; some however by the force of intellect fol. lowed the light of reason into a future state of immortality; they appear to have contempla ted' the Divine Essence, as he is, simple and supreme, and not filtered into attributes corruptly personified by a synod of divinities. Of such men we must think and speak with admiration and affection.

Thalas, the founder of the Ionic school, was à great man and a good citizen; he studied geoinetry under Egyptian masters, and introduced some new discoveries in astronomy and the celestial sphere, regulating and correcting the Greek Calendar, which Solon, about the same time, made some attempts to reform at Athens. This he did by bringing it to a conformity with the Hebrew calendar, except that his year began with the summer solstice, and that of the Hebrews with the vernal. Now the Her brew calendari comprised twelve months, and each month severally comprised the same, or nearly the same number of days as ours. This appears by an examination of Moses's account of the deluge in the seventh chapter of Genesis.

Amongst other nations the calendar was exceedingly vague and unsettled : the Egyptians measured their year by four months; the Arcadians by three; the Carians and Acarnaniaos by six; and the people of Alba by ten ; at the same time all these nations were in the practice of making up the year to its natural completion by intercalendary months or days. In the time of Romulus the Romans follow: ed the calendar of the Albanians ; and of the ten months, which their year consisted of, four.com prized thirty-one days cach, viz. Martins, Maius, Quintilis, October; the six other consisted of thirty days, and were named Aprilis, Junius, Sextilis, September, November, December. By this calendar Romulus's year regularly consisted of only 304 days, and to complete the natural period he was obliged to resort to the expedient of intercalendary days.

Numa was too much of a philosopher not to seek a remedy for these deficiencies, and added two months to his year: the former of these he named

« ZurückWeiter »