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discourses. True it is, that Theseus did many great things in imitation of Hercules, whom he made his pattern, and was the first that gathered the Athenians from being dispersed in thin and ragged villages : in recompense whereof, and for devising them laws to live under, and in order, he was, by the beggarly, mutable, and ungrateful multitude, in the end banished: some say per ostracismum, by the law of lots, or names written on shells, which was a device of his own.
He stole Helen (as they say) when she was fifteen years old, from Aphidna, which city Castor and Pollux overturned, when they followed after Theseus to recover their sister. Erasistratus and Pausanias write, that Theseus begat her with child at Argos, where she erected a temple to Lucina; but her age makes that tale unlikely to be true; and so doth Ovid, Non tamen ex facto fructum tulit ille petitum, &c. The rape Eusebius finds in the first of m Jair, who governed Israel twenty-two years, to whom succeeded Jephta, or Jepte, six years, to whom Ibzan, who ruled seven years, and then Habdon eight years; in whose time was the fall of Troy. So as, if Theseus had a child by her in the first of Jair, (at which time we must count her no less than fifteen year old; for the women did not commonly begin so young as they do now,) she was then at least fiftytwo year old at the destruction of Troy; and when she was stolen by Paris, thirty-eight; but herein the chronologers do not agree. Yet n Eusebius and Bunting, with Halicarnasseus, do in effect consent that the city was entered and burnt in the first year of Demophoon, king of Athens, the successor of Mnestheus, the successor of Theseus, seventeen days before the summer tropic; and that about the 11th of September following the Trojans crossed the Hellespont into Thrace, and wintered there; and in the next spring, that they navigated into Sicilia, where wintering the second year, the next summer they arrived at Laurentum, and builded Lavinium. But •St. Augustine hath it otherwise, that when Polyphides governed Sicyon, Mnestheus Athens, Tautanes Assyria, Habdon Israel, then Æneas arrived in Italy, transporting with him in twenty ships the remainder of the Trojans; but the difference is not great: and hereof more at large in the story of Troy at hand.
n Bunt. Chron. Euseb. Chron. Hal.
k Strab. I. 9. Paus. in Con.
In Sicyonia, Phæstus, the two and twentieth king, reigned eight years, beginning by the common account in the time of Thola. His successors, Adrastus, who reigned four years, and Polyphides, who reigned thirteen, are accounted to the time of Jair; so is also Mnestheus, king of Athens, and Atreus, who held a great part of Peloponnesus. In Assyria, during the government of these two peaceable judges, Mitreus, and after him Tautanes, reigned. In Egypt, Amenophis, the son of Ramses, and afterwards Annemenes.
SECT. VIII. Of the war of Thebes, which was in this age. IN this age was the war of Thebes, the most ancient that ever Greek poet or historian wrote of. Wherefore the Roman poet Lucretius, affirming (as the Epicures in this point held truly against the Peripatetics) that the world had a beginning, urgeth them with this objection.
Si nulla fuit genitalis origo
Why did no poet sing some elder war? It is true, that in these times Greece was very savage, the inhabitants being often chased from place to place by the captains of greater tribes; and no man thinking the ground whereon he dwelt his own longer than he could hold it by strong hand. Wherefore merchandise and other intercourse
• Aug. de Civitate Dei, 1. 18. c. 19.
they used little, neither did they plant many trees, or sow more corn than was necessary for their sustenance. Money they had little or none; for it is thought that the name of money was not heard in Greece when Homer did write, who measures the value of gold and brass by the worth in cattle; saying, that the golden armour of Glaucus was worth 100 beeves, and the copper armour of Diomedes worth nine.
Robberies by land and sea were common, and without shame; and to steal horses or kine was the usual exercise of their great men. Their towns were not many, whereof those that were walled were very few, and not great. For Mycenæ, the principal city in Peloponnesus, was a very little thing, and it may well be thought that the rest were proportionable. Briefly, Greece was then in her infancy; and though in some small towns of that half isle of Peloponnesus, the inhabitants might have enjoyed quietness within their narrow bounds; as likewise did the Athenians, because their country was so barren that none did care to take it from them; yet that the land in general was very rude, it will easily appear to such as consider what Thucydides, the greatest of their historians, hath written to this effect, in the preface to his history. Wherefore, as in these latter times, idle chroniclers use, when they want good matter, to fill whole books with reports of great frosts or dry summers, and other such things which no man cares to read; so did they who spake of Greece in her beginnings remember only the great floods which were in the times of Ogyges and Deucalion, or else rehearse fables of men changed into birds, of strange monsters, of adultery committed by their gods, and the mighty men which they begat; without writing ought that savoured of humanity, before the time of the war of Thebes; the brief whereof is this.
Edipus, the son of Laius king of Thebes, having been . cast forth when he was an infant, because an oracle foretold what evil should come to pass by him, did afterwards, in a narrow passage contending for the way, slay his own father,
not knowing, either then or long after, who he was. Afterward he became king of Thebes, by marriage of the queen Jocasta, called by Homer, Od. 11. Epicaste; on whom, not knowing her to be his mother, he begat two sons, Eteocles and Polynices. But when in process of time, finding out by good circumstances who were his parents, he understood the grievous murder and incest he had committed, he tore out his own eyes for grief, and left the city. His wife and mother did hang herself. Some say that Edipus having his eyes pulled out, was expelled Thebes, bitterly cursing his sons, because they suffered their father to be cast out of the town, and aided him not. Howsoever it were, his two sons made this agreement, that the one of them should reign one year, and the other another year, and so by course rule interchangeably; but this appointment was ill observed. For when Polynices had, after a year's government, resigned the kingdom to his brother, or (according to others) when Eteocles had reigned the first year, he refused to give over the rule to Polynices. Hereupon Polynices filed unto Argos, where Adrastus, the son of Talaus, then reigned, unto whose palace coming by night, he was driven to seek lodging in an outhouse on the backside.
There he met with Tydeus, the son of Eneus, who was fled from Calydon; with whom, striving about their lodging, he fell to blows. Adrastus hearing the noise came forth, and took up the quarrel. At which time perceiving in the shield of Tydeus a boar, in that of Polynices a lion, he remembered an old oracle, by which he was advised to give his two daughters in marriage to a lion and a boar; and accordingly he did bestow his daughter Argia upon Tydeus, and Deipyle upon Polynices, promising to restore them both to their countries. To this purpose levying an army, and assembling as many valiant captains as he could draw to follow him, he was desirous, among others, to carry Amphiaraus, the son of Oicleus, a great soothsayer and a valiant man, along with him. But Amphiaraus, who is said to have foreseen all things, knowing well that none of the captains should escape, save only Adrastus, did both utterly refuse to be one in that expedition, and persuaded others to stay at home. Polynices therefore dealt with Eriphyle, the wife of Amphiaraus, offering unto her a very fair bracelet, upon condition that she should cause her husband to assist him. The soothsayer, knowing what should work his destiny, forbade his wife to take any gift of Polynices. But the bracelet was in her eyes so precious a jewel, that she could not refuse it. Therefore, whereas a great controversy between Amphiaraus and Adrastus was by way of compromise put unto the decision of Eryphile, either of them being bound by solemn oath to stand to her appointment: she ordered the matter so as a woman should, that loved a bracelet better than her husband. He now finding that it was more easy to foresee than avoid destiny, sought such comfort as revenge might afford; giving in charge to his sons, that when they came to full age they should kill their mother, and make strong war upon the Thebans.
Now had Adrastus assembled all his forces, of which the seven chief leaders were, himself, Amphiaraus, Capaneus, and Hippomedon, (instead of whom some name Mecisteus,) all Argives, with Polynices the Theban, Tydeus the Ætolian, and Parthenopæus the Arcadian, son of Meleager and Atalanta. When the army came to the Nemæan wood, they met a woman, whom they desired to help them to some water; she having a child in her arms, laid it down, and led the Argives to a spring; but ere she returned, a serpent had slain the child. This woman was Hypsipyle, the daughter of Thoas the Lemnian, whom she would have saved when the women of the isle slew all the males by conspiracy, intending to lead an Amazonian life. For such her piety, the Lemnian wives did sell her to pirates, and the pirates to Lycurgus, lord of the country about Nemæa, whose young son Opheltes, or Archemorus, she did nurse, and lost, as is shewed before. When upon the child's death she hid herself for fear of her master, Amphiaraus told her sons where they should find her; and the Argives did both kill the serpent which had slain the child, and in memory