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the possibility of that excellence which he has described. And, in fact, between the age of Theseus and Homer the names of many great artists are on record. But leaving the age of tradition, it appears very certain, that
, the first artists of Grecian origin, who obtained celebrity after the days of Homer, were citizens of the industrious and enterprizing colonies, established in Asia Minor, existing under a republican form of government, in the strictest sense of the word, and rivalling for many years, if not surpassing their mother states in activity and wealth. Harrassed by the kings of Lydia, and by the irruptions of the Scythian tribe of Cimmerians, many of the artists of the colonies established themselves in Greece, at Sicyon, Ægina, Corinth; and the first works in sculpture mentioned by Pliny, as executed in Greece, and which were of great celebrity and uncommon merit, were not to be found at Athens, but in the bosom of the rugged and ferocious republic of Sparta, where, by order of the magistrates, the Ionian Greek, Bathycles* filled the sacred enclosure of Amyclæ with the works of his chissel. The colossal statue of Apollo, sixty feet in hight was placed upon a throne ornamented with sculpture. The figures were incredibly numerous, and represented in groups, events relative to the history, the religion, and the achievements of the republic. To the execution of these works, the laws of Lycurgus, then in full force and vigour, offered no obstacle. It is
* Plin. 1. xxxv. Bularchus the painter, also an Ionian, was cotemporary with Bathycles, about 700 years before Christ; and Pausanias names three celebrated artists, Doriclides, Philocles, and Medon, all Spartans, whose works were in high repute in his day. They lived about 150 years after Bathycles.
not my design to trace the progress of the fine arts through all the republics and colonies of Greece. From the earliest dates, their progress, the public honour in which they were held, their important aid on all occasions of solemnity, municipal, national, and religious, pervades and forms a part of the history, not 'only of Greece, but of all the colonies, which in spite of her destructive wars, profuse in the waste of human life, she established in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Syracuse, and Agrigentum in Sicily, exhibit to this day ruins of temples of the most ancient Grecian character, and of such stupendous construction and magnificence as to exceed all that history leads us to expect of their wealth
The most splendid era, which the arts have ever witnessed, was perhaps the administration of Pericles at Athens. Pericles, indeed, has been called a tyrant; and it has been denied that the free genius of the Athenians had any share in inspiring those works which render at this day the Acropolis of that city the most interesting spot on the globe. He has been accused of masking his ambition under the exterior of public spirit, of debasing his fellow citizens into his subjects, while he amused their vanity by the works with which he decorated their city, and lulled their watchfulness by the theatrical entertainments to which they were admitted at the expense of the public treasury, and at last of having involved his country in the Peloponesian war, in order to secure himself from the investigation of his fiscal operations.-But can he be called a tyrant, whose influence aided by tears and entreaties could
scarcely save Aspasia from the fury of the people: whose intimate friends, Anaxagoras the philosopher, and the immortal Phidias, were banished, only because they were his friends: and who himself was condemned to a fine. The comic poets, indeed, of his day, have given to the character of this great man such colouring as suited their object of exciting laughter or gratifying envy. But from their works, as from the paragraphs of our newspapers, history can receive no information, excepting of this undeniable truth, that the government, under which the poems and the paragraphs were published, was free, even to the borders of licentiousness.
But granting, against the evidence of facts through the whole history of his administration, and of the stronger evidence of his personal disposition and principles, that he was a tyrant, and that the works that embellish the scene of his ambition were the forced production of unlawful power, whence did Phidias, Mnesicles, Panonus, and Parrhasius derive their talents: talents that have raised our ideas of the dignity and powers of the human species, infinitely above that standard, to which the victories of the most irresistible cona queror, or the laws of the most profound statesman of any age can exalt them. The tyranny of Pericles,
. though it might employ these talents, found them prepared and ready for use; and though they illustrated, they were not created by the energy of his administration.
To enter into a disquisition on that form of government, and on those manners, and laws, which nursed genius wherever it was found among the whole people;
which not only gave to the powers of the mind the utmost extent of culture, but to the body all the strength, beauty and grace of which human nature is capable; which held up to exertion every motive that could stimulate, and to excellence every honour that could gratify ambition; would be to compose a dissertation on the history of Greece from her earliest records, to the final loss of her liberties after the age of Philip of Macedon. But to explain the source of her eminence few words are sufficient: Greece was free: in Greece every citizen felt himself an important, and thought himself an essential, part of his republic. The only superiority which he was allowed to claim, was that which could be examined by his fellow-citizens, each of whom was his equal and his rival. The education of a Greek soon pointed out, among the various dispositions of his body and mind, that in which he was most likely to attain excellence. The path of glory was equally open to all: precept and example were every where at hand, and reward was as certain as success. The whole mass of energy excited by such a system, could not but produce such effects, as at this distance of time leave it doubtful whether in beholding the mutilated remains of Grecian art, astonishment, or admiration be the predominant sensation. The Apollo of Phidias, the Venus of Praxiteles, the group of Laocoon, are in fact monuments not more of the arts, than of the freedom of Greece; monuments which are not more perfect as examples to artists, than as lessons to statesmen, 'and as. warnings to every republic to guard well the liberty that alone can produce such wonders.
The enthusiasm, which this subject excites, would carry me too far, were I to enter more fully into the proof that in Greece, perfection in the fine arts, freedom in government, and virtue in private life, were cotempo
In the freedom of the Grecian states degea nerating into anarchy—in their civil wars disgraced by cruelty and injustice in their system of slavery-in their private lives, sometimes viciously voluptuous in their most popular leaders, some savagely coarse in their generals and philosophers—in their religion superstitious, intolerant and despotic, ample theme has been found for declamation against this wonderful people. But let those compare their public transactions of war and peace with the acts and system of any other nation, , modern or ancient, free or monarchical, who from the comparison look for aid to the political system that they have undertaken to support: * all that I ask, and which cannot be denied, is, that Greece was free when the arts flourished, that they were dependent on that freedom, and that freedom derived from them much of her support and permanence.
Greece, indeed, at last, lost her freedom; she lost it when she lost her virtue; she lost it when she prostituted the fine arts to the gratification of vice; when her music which, directed by the poet Tyrtæus, had con
* “ The history of Greece, by describing the incurable evils inherent in every form of republican policy, (polity) evinces the inestimable blessings resulting to liberty itself from the lawful dominion of hereditary kings, and the steady operation of well regulated monarchy." See Gillies's history of Greece, Dedication.