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       Callias: A Tale of the Fall of Athens, p.1

           Alfred John Church
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Callias: A Tale of the Fall of Athens


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  CALLIAS

  SOCRATES AND ALCIBIADES.]

  CALLIAS

  A Tale of the Fall of Athens

  "_Athenae Lysandro superfuerunt: occiso Socrate tum demum civitas eversa est._"

  BY

  REV. ALFRED J. CHURCH, M. A.

  _Professor of Latin in University College, London_

 

  MEADVILLE PENNA FLOOD AND VINCENT The Chautauqua-Century Press 1891

  Copyright, 1891, By FLOOD & VINCENT.

  _The Chautauqua-Century Press, Meadville, Pa., U. S. A._ Electrotyped, Printed and Bound by Flood & Vincent.

  CONTENTS

  CHAPTER PAGE I. A NEW PLAY 1 II. NEWS FROM THE FLEET 14 III. HIPPOCLES THE ALIEN 21 IV. A COUNCIL 30 V. RUNNING THE BLOCKADE 41 VI. ARGINUSAE 51 VII. AFTER THE FIGHT 58 VIII. THE NEWS AT ATHENS 65 IX. SOCRATES 79 X. THE MURDER OF THE GENERALS 87 XI. RESCUED 104 XII. THE VOYAGE OF THE SKYLARK 113 XIII. ALCIBIADES 121 XIV. BISANTHE 132 XV. AEGOS POTAMI 141 XVI. TO PHARNABAZUS 151 XVII. ATHENS IN THE DUST 159 XVIII. "NOBLESSE OBLIGE" 172 XIX. THE END OF ALCIBIADES 184 XX. DIONYSIUS 195 XXI. CYRUS THE YOUNGER 207 XXII. THE RETREAT 212 XXIII. THE DIARY 223 XXIV. A THANKSGIVING 238 XXV. BUSINESS AND PLEASURE 252 XXVI. INVALIDED 263 XXVII. BACK TO ATHENS 274 XXVIII. THE STORY OF THE TRIAL 287 XXIX. THE LAST CONVERSATION 304 XXX. THE CONDITION OF EXILE 321 AUTHOR'S POSTSCRIPT 328 INDEX 331

  CALLIAS

  A Tale of the Fall of Athens.

  CHAPTER I.

  A NEW PLAY.

  It is the second year of the ninety-third Olympiad[1] and the Theatre atAthens is full, for the great dramatic season is at its height, andto-day there is to be performed a new play by Aristophanes, the specialfavorite of the Athenian public. It is a brilliant scene, but a keenobserver, who happened to see the same gathering some five and twentyyears ago, must now notice a certain falling off in its splendor. Forthese five and twenty years have been years of war, and latterly, yearsof disaster. Eleven years ago, the City wild with the pride of power andwealth, embarked on the mad scheme of conquering Sicily, and lost thefinest fleet and army that it ever possessed. Since then it has been astruggle for life with it, and year by year it has been growing weakerand weaker. This has told sadly on the glories of its great festivals.The furnishing of the stage, indeed, is as perfect as ever, and thebuilding itself has been pushed on several stages towards completion.[2]However scarce money may be in the public treasury, the theatre must notbe starved. But elsewhere there are manifest signs of falling off. Thestrangers' gallery is almost empty. All the Greek world from Massilia inGaul to Cyrene among the sands of Africa used to throng it in happierdays. Now more than half that world is hostile, and the rest has littleto hope or fear from the dispossessed mistress of the seas. Dionysius ofSyracuse, has sent an embassy, and the democracy, which once would havetreated with scant courtesy the representatives of a tyrant, is fain toflatter so powerful a prince. There are some Persian Envoys too, for thePersians are still following their old game of playing off one greatstate against another. A few Greeks from Sinope and from one of theItalian cities, persons of no importance, who would hardly have found aplace in the gallery during the palmy times of Athens, make up thecompany of visitors. Look at the body of the theatre, where the citizenssit, and the spectacle is deplorable indeed. The flower of Athens' sonshas perished, and their successors are puny and degenerate. Examine toothe crowd that throngs the benches, and you will see that the slaves,distinguished by their unsleeved tunics, fill up no small portion ofspace. And boys form an unusually large proportion of the audience.Altogether the theatre is a dispiriting sight to a patriotic Athenian.

  To-day, however, all is gaiety, for, as has been said, there is a newplay to be brought out, and an Athenian must be in desperate straitsindeed, if he cannot forget his sorrows at a new play.

  When the curtain rises, or rather, is withdrawn, as the Greekarrangement was, into an opening in the floor of the stage, a murmur ofrecognition runs through the audience. The scene is the market place ofThebes, and a familiar figure occupies the foreground.

  The portly figure, the ruddy face, the vine-leaf crown, and the buskinsshow him to be Bacchus, the patron-god, it will be remembered, of theDrama. But why this lion's skin and club? The god gives a lordly kick atthe door of the house which was one of the familiar stage-properties,and Hercules appears. He roars with laughter to see his own emblems insuch strange company. Bacchus explains. "The tragic poets grow worse andworse. There is not one who can write a decent line. I am going down tothe regions of the dead to fetch Euripides,[3] and thought that I hadbetter dress myself up in your fashion, for you, I know, made this samejourney very successfully. Perhaps you will tell me something about theway, and what inns you can recommend, where they are free from fleas,you know."

  "Are you really going?"

  "Yes, yes. Don't try to dissuade me; but tell me the way, which must notbe either too hot or too cold."

  "Well there is the Hanging way, by the sign of the Rope and Noose."

  "Too stifling."

  "There is a very short cut by the Mortar and Pestle."

  "The Hemlock road,[4] you mean?"

  "Exactly so."

  "Too cold and wintry for me."

  "Well; I'll tell you of a quick road and all downhill."

  "Excellent! for I am not a good walker."

  "You know the tower in the Cemetery? Well; climb up to the top when theTorch race is going to begin; and when the people cry out 'start,' startyourself."

  "How do you mean 'start'? Start from where?"

  "Why, start down from the top."

  "What, and dash my brains out? No, not for me, thank you."

  So it is settled that Bacchus and his slave, for he has a slave with himto carry his baggage, shall take the usual route by the Styx.

  To the Styx, accordingly, they make their way. Charon the ferryman isplying for hire, "Any one for Rest-from-toil-and-labor Land? ForNo-Mansland? For the Isle of Dogs?[5]"

  Bacchus steps in, and by Charon's order, takes an oar which he handlesvery helplessly. The slave has to go round: Charon does not carryslaves, he says. As they slowly make their way across, the frogs fromthe marsh raise the song of their kind, ending with the burden which issupposed to represent their note, _Brekekekex, coax, coax_.

  It is pitch dark on the further side. When the slave turns up, headvises his master to go on at once. "'Tis the very spot," he says,"where Hercules told us those terrible wild beasts were." Bacchus isvery valiant.

  "A curse upon him! 'twas an idle tale, He feigned to frighten me, for well he knew, How brave I am, the envious braggart soul! Grant, fortune, I may meet some perilous chance Meet
for so bold a journey."

  "O Master, I hear a noise."

  "Where, where?"

  "It is behind us."

  "Get behind then."

  "No--it is in front."

  "Why don't you go in front?"

  "O Master, I see such a Monster."

  "What is it like?"

  "Why! it keeps on changing--now it's a bull, now it's a stag, and nowit's a woman; and its face is all fire. What shall we do? O Hercules,Hercules help."

  "Hold your tongue. Don't call me Hercules."

  "Bacchus, then."

  "No, no; Bacchus is worse than Hercules."

  The travellers pass these dangers, and reach the palace of Pluto.Bacchus knocks at the door. "Who's there?" cries AEacus the porter. "Thevaliant Hercules," says Bacchus. The name calls forth a torrent ofreproaches, and threats. Hercules was only too well remembered there.

  "O villain, villain, doubly, trebly dyed! 'Twas thou didst take our dog, our guardian dog, Sweet Cerberus, my charge. But, villain, now We have thee on the hip. For thee the rocks Of Styx, and Acheron's dripping well of blood, And Hell's swift hounds encompass."

  "Did you hear that dreadful voice?" says Bacchus to the slave. "Didn'tit frighten you?"

  "Frighten me? No, I didn't give it a thought."

  "Well, you are a bold fellow. I say; suppose you become me, and I becomeyou. Take the club and the lion skin, and I'll carry the baggage."

  "As you please."

  They change parts accordingly. No sooner is this done, than a waitingmaid of Queen Proserpine appears. "My dear Hercules," she says, "comewith me. As soon as my mistress heard of your being here she had a grandbaking, made four or five gallons of soup, and roasted an ox whole."

  "Excellent," cries the false Hercules.

  "She won't take a refusal. And, hark you! there's _such_ wine!"

  "I shall be delighted. Boy, bring along the baggage with you."

  "Hold," cries the "boy." "Don't you see it was a joke of mine, dressingyou up as Hercules? Come, hand over the club and the skin."

  "You are not going to take the things away when you gave me themyourself."

  "Yes, but I am: a pretty Hercules you would be. Come, hand them over."

  "Well; if I must, I must. But I shouldn't wonder if you were sorry forit sooner or later."

  It turns out to be sooner rather than later. As soon as the exchange ismade, two landladies appear on the scene. Hercules had committed othermisdemeanors besides stealing the dog.

  _First Landlady._ "This is the villain. He came to my house, and atesixteen loaves."

  _The Slave_ (aside). "Some one is getting into trouble."

  _First Landlady._ "Yes, and twenty fried cutlets at three-half-penceapiece."

  _The Slave_ (aside). "Some one will suffer for this."

  _First Landlady._ "Yes, and any quantity of garlic."

  _Bacchus._ "Woman this is all rubbish. I don't know what you are talkingabout."

  _First Landlady._ "Ah! you villain, because you have buskins on, youthought I should not know you--and then there was the salt-fish."

  _Second Landlady._ "Yes, and the fresh cheeses which he ate, baskets andall; and when I asked him for the money he drew his sword, and we ranup, you remember, into the attic."

  _The Slave._ "That is just the man. That's how he goes on everywhere."

  The angry women run off to fetch their lawyers; and Bacchus beginsagain.

  "My dear boy, I am very fond of you."

  "I know what you are after. Say no more; I'm not going to be Hercules;'A pretty Hercules I should make,' you say."

  "I don't wonder that you're angry. But do take the things again. Thegods destroy me and mine, root and branch, if I rob you of them again."

  "Very well; I'll take them, but mind, you have sworn."

  So the exchange is made again.

  Then AEacus with his infernal policemen appears on the scene.

  "That's the fellow who stole the dog," he cries to his men, "seize him,"while the false slave murmurs aside, "Some one is getting into trouble."

  "I steal your dog!" says the false Hercules. "I have never been here,much less stolen the worth of a cent. But come. I'll make you a fairoffer. Here's my slave. Take him, and put him to the torture, and if youget anything out of him against me, then cut my head off."

  "Very fair," says AEacus; "and of course, if I do him any damage, I shallpay for it."

  "Never mind about the damage; torture away."

  "Hold," shouts Bacchus, as the policemen lay hold of him, "I warn younot to torture me, I'm a god."

  _AEacus._ "What do you say?"

  _Bacchus._ "I am Bacchus, son of Zeus, and that fellow there is myslave."

  _AEacus_ (to the false Bacchus) "What do you say to that?"

  _The false Bacchus._ "Say? Lay on the lash; if he's a god, of course hecan't feel."

  _Bacchus._ "And you're a god too, you say. So you won't mind taking blowfor blow with me."

  _The false Bacchus._ "Quite right." (To AEacus) "Lay on, and the firstthat cries out, you may be sure he's not the real god."

  So the trial takes place. Both bear it bravely, till at last AEacus criesin perplexity. "I can't make it out. I don't know which is which. Well,you shall both come to my master and Queen Proserpine. They're gods, andthey ought to know their own kind."

  _Bacchus._ "An excellent idea; I only wish that you had thought of itbefore you gave me that beating."

  Things are now supposed to be set right. Bacchus goes to dine with Plutoand Proserpine; the slave is entertained by AEacus in the servants' hall.While they are talking a tremendous uproar is heard outside; and AEacusexplains to his guest that it is a rule in their country that the bestpoet or writer or artist should have a seat at the King's table and aplace at the King's right hand. This honor AEschylus had held as thefirst of the tragic poets, but when Euripides came, all the crowd ofpick-pockets and burglars and murderers, who were pretty numerous inthese parts, had been so delighted with his twists and turns, that theywere for giving him the first place; and on the strength of theirsupport he had claimed the tragic throne.

  "But had not AEschylus any friends?"

  "O yes, among the respectable people; but respectable people are scarcedown here, as they are up above."

  "What about Sophocles?"

  "Oh! as soon as he came, he went up to AEschylus and kissed him on thecheek, and took him by the hand. He yielded the throne, he said, toAEschylus; but if Euripides came off best, he should contest it withhim."

  "Well, what is going to be done?"

  "There will be a trial."

  "Who is to be judge?"

  "Ah! there's the difficulty. Wise men, you see, are not so plenty. Evenwith the Athenians AEschylus didn't get on very well. However they havemade your master judge. He is supposed to know all about it."

  I have tried to give some idea of the first, the farcical half of theplay. It is possible to appreciate the fun, though much of its flavorhas evaporated, and there are many strokes of humor which, for onereason or another, it has not been possible to reproduce. The secondhalf is a series of subtle literary criticisms on the language, style,dramatic construction, and ruling sentiment of the two poets. No one canappreciate it who is not familiar with their works; no version ispossible that would give any that idea of it. One specimen I shallattempt. AEschylus finds fault with the prosaic matter-of-fact characterof his rival's opening scenes. "I'll spoil them all with a flask," hesays. "Go on and repeat whichever you please." Euripides begins with theopening lines of the Danaides (a play now lost).

  "Aegyptus--so the common story runs-- Crossed with his fifty sons the ocean plains, And reaching Argos--"

  "Lost a little flask."

  puts in AEschylus.

  He begins again with the opening lines of another

  "Cadmus, Agenor's offspring, setting sail From Sidon's city--"

  "Lost a little flask."

  Then he tries with the first lines
of a third

  "Great Bacchus, who with wand and fawn-skin decked, In pine-groves of Parnassus, plies the dance, And leads the revel--"

  "Lost a little flask."

  The reader may have had enough. It will suffice to give the result ofthe contest. All the tests have been applied. Euripides, as a lastresource, reminds the judge that he has sworn to take him back withhim.

  Bacchus replies:

  "My tongue hath sworn; yet AEschylus I choose."

  A cruel cut, for it is an adaptation of one of the poet's own lines(from the Hippolytus) when the hero, taunted with the oath that he hadtaken and is about to violate, replies:

  "My tongue hath sworn it, but my mind's unsworn."

  When the curtain rose from the floor and hid the last scene, it wasmanifest that the "Frogs" of Aristophanes, son of Philippus, of thetribe Pandionis, and the township Cydathenaea, was a success. Of coursethere were malcontents among the audience. Euripides had a good manypartisans in young Athens. They admired his ingenuity, his rhetoric, andthe artistic quality of his verse, in which beauty for beauty's sake,quite apart from any moral purpose, seemed to be aimed at. They werecaptivated by the boldness and novelty of his treatment of things moraland religious. AEschylus they considered to be old-fashioned and bigoted.Hence among the seats allotted to the young men there had been somemurmurs of dissent while the performance was going on, and now there wasa good deal of adverse criticism. And there were some among the oldermen who were scarcely satisfied. The fact was that Comedy was undergoinga change, the change which before twenty more years had passed was toturn the Old Comedy into the Middle and the New, or to put the matterbriefly, to change the Comedy of Politics into the Comedy of Manners.

  "This is poor stuff," said an old aristocrat of this school, "poor stuffindeed, after what I remember in my younger days. Why can't the manleave Euripides alone, especially now he is dead, and won't bother uswith any more of his plays? There are plenty of scoundrel politicianswho might to much more purpose come in for a few strokes of the lash.But he daren't touch the fellows. Ah! it was not always so. I rememberthe play he brought out eighteen years ago. The 'Knights' he called it.That was something like a Comedy! Cleon was at the very height of hispower, for he had just made that lucky stroke at Pylos[6]. ButAristophanes did not spare him one bit for that. He could not get anyone to take the part; he could not even get a mask made to imitate thegreat man's face. So he took the part himself, and smeared his face withthe lees of wine. Cleon was there in the Magistrates' seats. I think weall looked at him as much as we looked at the stage. Whenever there wasa hard hit--and, by Bacchus, how hard the hits were!--all the theatreturned to see how he bore it. He laughed at first. Then we saw him turnred and pale--I was close by him and I heard him grind his teeth. Goodheavens! what a rage he was in! Well, that is the sort of a play I liketo see, not this splitting words, and picking verses to pieces, just assome schoolmaster might do."

  But, in spite of these criticisms, the greater part of the audience werehighly delighted with what they had seen and heard. The comic business,with its broad and laughable effects, pleased them, and they wereflattered by being treated as judges of literary questions. And thecurious thing was that they were not unfit to be judges of such matters.There never was such a well-educated and keen-witted audience in theworld. They knew it, and they dearly liked to be treated accordingly.The judges only echoed the popular voice when at the end of the festivalthey bestowed the first prize upon Aristophanes.

  One criticism, strange to say, no one ever thought of making--and yet,to us, it seems the first, the most obvious of all criticisms, and thatis that the play was horribly profane. This cowardly, drunken, sensualBacchus--and he is ten times worse in the original than I have venturedto make him here--this despicable wretch was one of the gods whom everyone in the audience was supposed to worship. The festival which was theoccasion of the theatrical exhibition was held in his honor, his altarwas the centre round which the whole action of every piece revolved. Andyet he was caricatured in this audacious manner, and it did not occur toanyone to object! Verily the religion of the Greeks sat very lightly ontheir consciences, and we cannot wonder if it had but small effect ontheir lives.

  FOOTNOTES:

  [1] According to our reckoning B. C. 406.

  [2] It was not actually finished till twenty-three years later.

  [3] Euripides had died a few months before.

  [4] The Athenians used to inflict the penalty of death by a draught ofhemlock.

  [5] For the "Crows" in the original. "Going to the crows" was the firstequivalent for our "Going to the dogs." The "Isle of Dogs" is awellknown spot near London.

  [6] When he captured the Spartan garrison of the Island of Sphacteria,B. C. 425.

 

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