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particular sorts of diet, particularly tame fowls, fish, beans, and certain sorts of apples.
When this was finished, the priests began to play off the whole machinery of the temple in all its terror; doleful
and lamentations broke out from the fane, thick and sudden darkness involved the temple, momentary gleams of light flashed forth every now and then with tremblings, as if an earthquake had shaken the edifice; sometimes these coruscations continued long enough to discover all the splendour of the shrines and images, accompanied, with voices in concert, dancings and music: at other times, during the darkness, severities were exercised
the initiated by persons unseen; they were dragged to the ground by the hair of their heads, and there beaten and lashed, without knowing from whom the blows proceeded, or why they were inflicted: lightnings and thunderings and dreadful apparitions were occasionally played off, with every invention to terrify and astonish ; at length, upon a voice crying out Conx! Ompax! the ceremony was concluded and the initiated dismissed. The garment worn upon this occasion was not to be laid aside, whilst it would hang together, and the shreds were then to be dedicated at some shrine, as a tattered trophy of the due performance of the mysteries of Ceres.
These initiations were conceived to lead to the enjoyment of a happier lot in this life, and to fit a man for a more dignified place amongst the blest hereafter; and they were in such general respect, that it afforded great cause of reproach against Socrates, for having neglected his initiation. The vows of secrecy, and the penalties to be inflicted on violation, were as binding as could possibly be devised.
Hitherto the rising state of Athens had not been
engaged in war; but no sooner was it involved in disputes with the Eleusynians, on account of some predatory incursions, than the idea took its rise of devoting human victims to appease the hostile divinities, and to purchase conquest by the oblation of what was dearest and most valuable in life.
As we are now approaching towards the time of Homer, who records instances of this sort, it may be curious to mark when that savage superstition had its origin. No example occurs to me in Grecian story antecedent to Erichthonius, who, in obedience to an oracle, sacrificed one of his daughters, and some say all, to purchase thereby success against the Eleusynians. " It is, however, a matter of less wonder than regret how this idea should obtain so generally ; when a people are in the habit of making animal sacrifices a part of their worship, and whose religion it is to believe that intercession can be made to the gods, and favours obtained by the blood of victims taken from the brute creation, the thought of ascending a step higher in the dignity of the oblation, naturally leads to the hope of purchasing a greater reward. With these ideas enthusiastic spirits, like Decius and Curtius among the Romans, rushed upon self-destruction, and Erichthonius, King of Athens, devoted his daughters; Codrus himself. If the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood,' &c. &c. &c. There is a wild magnanimity in the idea highly captivating: Cicero more than once alludes to this action of Erichthonius, and in his oration for Sextus ex. claimsShall I after so many illustrious deeds shrink from death, which even the daughters of Erichthonius, with all the weaknesses of their sex about them, resigned themselves to without regret?'
Let the mind be possessed with the persuasion of immortal happiness annexed to the act, and there will be no want of candidates to struggle for the glorious prerogative. Erichthonius and his daughters were associated to the deities after their death, altars were dedicated and a temple erected to them in the citadel of Athens, where divine honours were paid to their memories. The Eleusynians were defeated and despoiled of all they possessed, except the mysteries of Ceres above-mentioned; of these they were left in undisturbed enjoyment: their king Eumolpus was slain in battle, but Neptune, whose son he was, revenged his loss by striking his conqueror dead with his trident.
Thus perished Erichthonius by immortal hands, if we take the authority of Euripides the tragic. poet, after he had reigned fifty years in Athens : in his time the people of Attica, heretofore called Cecropians, took the name of Athenians: Ovid, whose metamorphoses mix much ancient truth with fable, says that this prince at his death left it doubtful with posterity, whether he excelled most in justice as a King, or in military glory as a General.
Ægeus, the reputed father of Theseus, was the eighth king of Athens, reckoning from Cecrops, and son of Pandion II. grandson of Erichthonius, the crown having descended regularly from father to son through several generations : after remaining childless for several years he consulted the oracle at Delphi upon the mode of obtaining an heir; to a very plain question he obtained a very obscure answer, and, not being able to solve the enigma himself, consulted several persons upon the interpretation of it, and amongst others his friend Pittheus, King of Træzene, from whose sagacity he promised himself a solution of the difficulty: this wise prince had a daughter named. Æthra, and she having admitted Ægeus to a secret consultation by night in the fane of Minerva, proved a more able interpreter of the Delphicoracle than her father, and put Ågeus in possession of his wishes, by bearing him a son: this son was the hero Theseus, but it cannot be disguised, that a doubt was started, whether Neptune had not a better claim to the child than Ægeus; for the princess Æthra is charged with admitting both visiters in the same evening, and when the controversy lies between a mortal and an immortal lover, the most that can be said for Ægeus is, that it leaves the case doubtful. The King of Athens put in his claim,
by leaving his sword and sandals in custody of Æthra, when he understood she was pregnant, enjoining her to let the child, if it proved a son, remain at Træzene, until he became adult, and had strength enough to remove a block of stone, under which he deposited his pledges; on the hilt of the sword which was ivory, he caused to be engraved his name and titles, and Ægeus declared he would acknowledge the bearer of those pledges, and adopt him as his heir ; this being done, he returned to Athens, and celebrated the Panathenæa with uncommon splendor.
This monarch filled the throne of Athens for the space of forty-eight years, and terminated his life by casting himself into the sea thence called Ægean, in despair upon discovering the vessel, that brought his son Theseus from his Čretan expedition against the Minotaur, approach the shores of Attica with black sails, when the signal of life and victory was to be the contrary display of white ones, which Theseus by a fatal neglect had failed to put out upon his coming in sight of the coast.
The impatient and despairing parent precipitated himself into the ocean, and the son succeeded to his throne. There is no hero in antiquity, who for his
magnanimity, his adventures, or the exquisite beauty and perfection of his person has been more celebrated than Theseus :' in some of the actions of his life he performed real and distinguished services to his country; in others he appears to have been governed merely by an extravagant and wild passion for adventure: no hero has furnished more themes to the poets, and few princes have at times deserved better of their subjects: by his valour in action and the terror of his name he cleared many regions of those lawless clans of robbers and plunderers, with which they were infested to the disgrace and danger of society: ambitious to emulate the fame of his contemporary Hercules, he seems sometimes to have forgotten that he had subjects under his care and command, and roved about in quest of adventures, the general champion of distress, and the sworn exterminator of monsters and tyrants, wherever they were to be found : preceded by his axe-bearers, in commemoration of his destruction of the robbers, and carrying on his shoulder the ponderous club of Corynætes, whom he vanquished, he marched in triumph to Delphi, like another Hercules after his labours : the bulls of Crete and Marathon, and the Cremmyonian boar, were trophies that might vie with the hydra; and Corcyon, whom he slew, was as formidable a champion as Antæus, and fixed the triumph of agility over strength: he killed Procrustes, whose couch was as fatal as the den of Cacus.
Theseus, upon his accession to the government of Attica, reformed the state of justice, and amended the condition of his subjects by many kingly regu lations ; before his time the people were dispersed about the country in small and separated clans, more like the settlements of savages than a regular community; the police of course was very imperfect ;