« ZurückWeiter »
of the family. To gymnastic exercises the greatest attention was paid by the Dorians. They are said to be the first who introduced crowns, in lieu of other prizes of victory. Another class of exercises was calculated to harden the frame by labour and fatigue. The youths were trained, by frequent hunting on the mountains, to undergo the extremes of heat and cold, hunger, thirst, and privations of every kind. They were, moreover, as they grew up, obliged to be their own servants, and even to obtain their daily food by stealing! The author justifies, or at least palliates this, to us extraordinary, usage, in the following ingenious argument:—
'According to the scattered fragments of our information, the state of the case was as follows: the boys at a certain period were generally banished from the town, and all communion with men, and obliged to lead a wandering life in the fields and forests. When thus excluded, they were obliged to obtain, by force or cunning, the means of subsistence from the houses and court-yards, all access to which was at this time forbidden them; frequently obliged to keep watch for whole nights, and always exposed to the danger of being beaten, if detected. To judge this custom with fairness, it should only be regarded in the connexion which we have explained above. The possession of property was made to furnish a means of sharpening the intellect, and strengthening the courage of the citizens, by forcing the one party to hold, and the other to obtain it by a sort of war. The loss of property which was thus occasioned, appeared of little importance to a state where personal rights were so little regarded; and the injurious consequences were in some measure avoided, by an exact definition of the goods permitted to be stolen, which were, in fact, those that any Spartan who required them for the chase, might take from the stock of another. Such was the idea upon which this usage was kept up; it might possibly, however, have originated in the ancient mountain-life of the Dorians, when they inhabited Mounts Eta and Olympus, cooped up within narrow boundaries, and engaged in perpetual contests with the more fortunate inhabitants of the plains. As a relic and memorial of those habits, it remained, contrasted with the independent and secure mode of life of the Spartans at a later period.'-vol. ii. pp. 324–326.
The gymnastic war-games constituted another characteristic feature of Doric education. Boys fought with boys in shambattle, marching against each other to the sound of flutes and lyres. The females also (the virgins) had their gymnasia, as we have already seen. Clad lightly, they exercised themselves in running, wrestling, or throwing the quoit and spear. The object of all these practices was to improve the form, and render it vigorous as well as beautiful, an object in which the Dorians completely succeeded, as they were by far the most perfect models of strength and gracefulness in the whole of ancient Greece. Writing was never generally taught amongst them, and all that related to the education of the mind was comprised under the name of music.
The science of sweet sound was so highly cultivated among the Dorians, that they originated what was called the Doric measure, to which the ancients attributed something solemn, firm, and
manly, calculated to inspire fortitude in supporting misfortunes and hardships, and to strengthen the mind against the attacks of passion.' It was from an early period taken under the care of the state, as it was supposed to express the general tone and morals of the people, with whom it was an almost universal amusement. In the choruses of festivals, the inhabitants of the cities generally took part, including women who sang and danced in public with men and by themselves. The practice of dancing was anciently connected with the palestra; it was calculated also, like our modern ballets, to give expression to certain ideas and feelings. Thus it was with the Pyrrhic dance, which was of a warlike nature, the time being quick and light. 'Plato says of this dance in general, that it imitated all the attitudes of defence, by avoiding a thrust or a cast, retreating, springing up, and crouching, as also the opposite movements of attack with arrows and lances, and every kind of thrust. So strong was the attachment to this dance at Sparta, that long after it had, in the other Greek states, degenerated into a Bacchanalian revel, it was still danced by the Spartans as a warlike exercise, and boys of fifteen were instructed in it.' Besides the Pyrrhic dance, there were several others, among which the Dipodia, a sort of pas de deux, we suppose, is mentioned, the origin of which is hidden in obscurity. It is introduced by Aristophanes into one of his comedies, where it is followed by a song, in which the chorus appears to describe the dance, while it implores the Laconian muse to descend from Mount Taygetus, and to celebrate the tutelar deities of Sparta.
""Come hither with a light motion to sing of Sparta. Where there are choruses in honour of the gods, and the noise of dancing, when, like young horses, the maidens on the banks of the Eurotas rapidly move their feet; while their hair floats, like revelling Bacchanals; and the daughter of Leda directs them, the sacred leader of the chorus. Now bind up the hair, and leap like fawns, now strike the measured tune which gladdens the chorus."' -vol. ii. p. 352.
In addition to these dances the author enumerates several others, some of which were of a licentious character. He next proceeds to treat of the comic, tragic, and lyric poetry of the Dorians, of their historical writings, their brevity of speech, and metaphorical mode of expression; their symbolical language and the connexion of the Pythagorean philosophy with their history. He concludes with a summary of all that had been said, in different parts of the work, on the peculiarities of the Doric race, of whom the following striking character is given.
The first feature in the character of the Dorians which we shall notice, is one that has been pointed out in several places, viz. their endeavour to produce uniformity and unity in a numerous body. Every individual was to remain within those limits which were prescribed by the regulation of the whole body; thus, in the Doric form of government, no individual was allowed to strive after personal independence, nor any class or order
to move from its appointed place. The privileges of the aristocracy, and the subjection of the inferior orders, were maintained with greater strictness than in other tribes, and greater importance was attached to obedience, in whatever form, than to the assertion of individual freedom. The government, the army, and the public education, were managed on a most complicated, but most regular succession and alternation of commanding and obeying. Every one was to obey in his own place. All the smaller associations were also regulated on the same principle: always we find gradation of power, and never independent equality. But it was not sufficient that this system should be complete and perfect within, it was to be fortified without. The Dorians had little inclination to admit the customs of others, and a strong desire to disconnect themselves with foreigners; hence, in later times, the blunt and harsh deportment of those Dorians, who most scrupulously adhered to their national habits. This independence and seclusion would, however, sometimes be turned into hospitality; and hence, the military turn of the Dorians, which may also be traced in the developement of the worship of Apollo. A calm and steady courage was the natural quality of the Dorian. As they were not ready to receive, neither were they to communicate outward impressions, and this, neither as individuals nor as a body; hence, both in their poetry and their prose, the narrative is often concealed by expressions of the feeling, and tinged with the colour of the mind: they endeavoured always to condense and concentrate their thoughts, which was the cause of the great brevity and obscurity of their language. Their desire of disconnecting themselves with the things and persons around them, naturally produced a love for past times; and hence, their great attachment to the usages and manners of their ancestors, and to existing institutions. The attention of the Doric race was turned to the past rather than to the future; and thus it came to pass that the Dorians preserved most rigidly, and represented most truly, the customs of the ancient Greeks. Their advances were constant, not sudden; and all their changes imperceptible. With the desire to obtain uniformity, their love for measure and proportion was also combined. Their works of art are distinguished by this attention to singleness of effect, and every thing discordant or useless was pruned off with an unsparing hand. Their moral system also prescribed the observance of the proper mean; and it was in this that the temperance, which so distinguished them, consisted. One great object in the worship of Apollo was to maintain the even balance of the mind, and to remove every thing that might disquiet the thoughts, rouse the mind to passion, or dim its purity and brightness. The Doric nature required an equal and regular harmony, and preserving that character in all its parts. Dissonances, even if they combined into harmony, were not suited to the taste of that nation. The national tunes were, doubtless, not of a soft or pleasing melody; the general accent of the language had the character of command, or of dictation, not of question or entreaty. The Dorians were contented with themselves, with the powers to whom they owed their existence and happiness; and, therefore, they never complained. They looked not to future, but to present existence; to preserve this, and to preserve it in enjoyment, was their highest object. Every thing beyond this boundary was mist and darkness, and every thing dark they supposed the Deity to hate. They lived in themselves, and for themselves; hence man was the chief and almost only
object which attracted their attention. The same feelings may also be perceived in their religion, which was always unconnected with the worship of any natural object, and originated from their own reflections and conceptions; and to the same source may perhaps be traced their aversion to mechanical and agricultural labour. In short, the whole race bears generally the stamp and character of the male sex; the desire of assistance and connexion, of novelty and of curiosity, the characteristics of the female sex, being directly opposed to the nature of the Dorians, which bears the mark of independence and subdued strength.
This description of the Doric character, to which many other features might be added, is sufficient for our present purpose; and will serve to prove that the worship of Apollo, the ancient constitution of Crete and that of Lycurgus, the manners, arts, and literature of the Dorians, were the productions of one and the same national individual. To what extent this character was influenced by external circumstances, cannot be ascertained; but though its features were impressed by nature, they might not, in all places, have been developed, and would have been lost without the fostering assistance of an inland and mountainous region. The country is to a nation what the body is to the soul: it may influence it partially, and assist its growth and increase, but it cannot give strength and impulse, or imprint that original mark of the Deity which is set upon our minds.'vol. ii. pp. 406–409.
The appendix contains dissertations upon the geography of the Peloponnese and Northern Greece, and upon the Doric dialect, which will be found useful to the scholar. We observe with satisfaction that, when treating the former subject, Muller speaks in terms of well deserved praise of the labours of our own countryman, Leake, in the same fruitful field of enquiry. Of the merits of the two gentlemen who have translated these volumes, the extracts which we have given will enable the reader to form a most favourable judgment. We must remark, however, that several sentences exhibit a stiffness as well as a vagueness of style, and frequently a repetition of the same word, which should be corrected in a second edition.
ART. II.—Journal of Travels in the seat of War, during the last two Campaigns of Russia and Turkey; intended as an Itinerary through the South of Russia, the Crimea, Georgia, and through Persia, Koordistan, and Asia Minor, to Constantinople. With Maps expressly drawn up, and illustrative of the Author's Tour. By T. B. Armstrong. 8vo. pp. 227. London: Seguin. 1831. MR. ARMSTRONG, in a very modest introduction to his work, deprecates the severity of criticism, which might, if exercised, certainly draw up a considerable catalogue of inaccuracies and errors in his style of writing. As he does not aspire, however, to the honours of professional authorship, we shall not think it necessary to visit with punishment his literary delinquencies. His object was to produce rather an itinerary, than a tour; to give an account of
roads, distances between post stations, halting places, and other matters highly useful to the traveller to know, rather than a picture of the countries which he traversed, with a series of observations upon the habits of the people by which they are inhabited. He has, with good reason, deemed such a work the more likely to be acceptable, inasmuch as he has been enabled to insert in it various routes over land to India,-routes which are becoming every year frequented to such a degree, that journies to Bombay already begin to be thought less of than a progress from Edinburgh to London in the days of our grandfathers.
But although Mr. Armstrong's ambition was limited to the execution of a Guide Book, we must do him the justice to say that he has done something more. His journal, though not written with much elegance, retains a natural character and animation, which, in any kind of composition, never fail to charm the attention. His sketches of scenery are free and bold, and we sometimes gather clearer notions from them, than from much more elaborate descriptions. He seems to have been employed in the capacity of a courier, by two English gentlemen, who, in the year 1828, contemplated a visit to Constantinople and Syria, had the war between the Russians and Turks allowed of their going by way of the Balcan. That route, however, circumstances prevented them from pursuing. Having reached Vienna in the autumn of that year, they proceeded, by way of Austerlitz and Freyberg, to Cracow. The filthiness of the inns of the latter city is proverbial, the explanation of which is that it is chiefly inhabited by Jews. Eight miles from Cracow are the salt mines, celebrated by so many travellers. These have generally, we believe, passed over an interesting circumstance, mentioned by Mr. Armstrong, indicative of the prodigions effect which weight and pressure have upon timber, At the corner of an old mine, exhausted many years ago, upwards of two hundred fir-trees, laid crossways, had been put under the excavation, to prop the roof. They probably originally occupied a solid square of twenty feet. 'The rock had given way, it appears, as age had decayed the timber, and now nothing is seen but the trunks of trees, crushed together, and compressed into a mass of about three or four feet thick'! No doubt the reduction is partly to be attributed to the rottenness of the timber; but he adds, and this is the most remarkable feature in the pile, that he could not distinguish one tree from another.' We mention the circumstance for the benefit of the geologists.
The country, a few stages from the mines, is chiefly tenanted by Jews, who are all agriculturists. Their villages are wretched in the extreme. The furniture of their inns consists only of a few wooden chairs, and bedsteads filled with hay. The party having learned that the provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia were in a very unhealthy state, changed their course towards Odessa, entering Russia by Radzovillow, where they underwent a strict search. In this part of Russia there are no roads. The traveller has to fight his VOL. II. (1831.) No. II.