« PreviousContinue »
and discipline, the spirit and self-estimation of their conquerors ; .
• Nam rex Seleucus me opere oravit maximo,
A& 1. Sc. I. In the plays, indeed, of that writer, and of Terence, the mirtors of the later Greek comedy, we find the stage character of the partisan, who has served in the wars of Asia, as much established as those of the slave and the parasite. It occurs three or four times in Plautus, and once in the well known Thraso of Terence: and although the sameness which pervades them, may lead us to think that these authors rather copied each other than real life, there must have been a prototype in the received notion of the character, which the public were able to recognize. In every instance, they are represented as having acquired inordinate riches, and as spending it a good deal in the same manner as an English sailor is supposed to get rid of his prize money. But the parallel will hold no further. The most ridiculous vanity, stupidity and cowardice, are the constant attributes of the soldier in those comedies. A nation, one would think, must be sunk very low, in which the military character was never exhibited but as odious and contemptible. But, to judge from history, the picture must be somewhat overcharged. The Greeks of that age, though unable to cope with Rome or Macedon, displayed occasionally both skill and prowess. Perhaps it was unpopular thus to waste the blood of Greece in wars in which it had no concern; and public
indignation refused to the mercenaries of the Seleucidze that admiration and sympathy which are the usual reward of a military life. The third class of troops in the armies of these princes, were their native subjects. Though the inhabitants of the finest climates of Asia were generally unwarlike, other parts, especially the mountainous districts, contained a hardy race of men. The skill which barbarians frequently acquire in missile weapons, is forinidable to any army not possessed of artillery, and consequently obliged to fight near at hand. Media, the finest province of Asia, produced an incomparable breed of horses ; and the kings of Syria, at one time, were able to reinforce their armies from the savage hardihood of the Isaurian mountaineers, the obstinate bravery of the Jews, and the dexterity of the Parthian cavalry. The kingdom of Egypt seems to supply less military resources from itself. Yet, if 200,000 infantry and 40,000 horse obeyed the mandate of Philadelphus, so prodigious an army could hardly have been collected without great draughts upon the native population.
II. It would be a more difficult task to attempt the satisfactory delineation of the internal state of society. If we were to judge from the personal character of the sovereigns, upon which, in a mere despotism, so much seems to depend, the condition of the Eastern Greeks would generally appear deplorable. After the first or second generation, the successors of Seleucus and Ptole vy degenerated into effeminate luxury or portentous guilt; and the annals of Constantinople itself hardly contain a greater series of crimes, than sullied the royal families of Antioch and Alexan- . dria. But this was compensated to their subjects by the peculiar advantages of their situation. They enjoyed the inexhaustible fertility of Syria, Babylonia and Egypt. The ports of the Mediterranean were crowded with vessels, secure from maritime hostility; and the creation of almost numberless cities, bearing the wames of Seleucus and his family, is the noblest evidence of the riches and magnificence of that dynasty. Athenæus speaks of the Syrians, as a people who, from the fertility of their country, had little need to labour, and consumed their leisure in banqueting and diversions. Antioch, the capital, was most distinguished for this character. The beautiful grove of Daphne, situated about five miles from that city, was the scene where its luxurious inhabitants abused the prodigality of nature in every enjoyment of voluptuous ease. It was the more honourable characteristic of Alexandria, to be the seat of literature; and the praise of her sovereigns to have bestowed patronage upon men who, however inferior to those nursed in the bosom of Grecian liberty, surpassed them in erudition, and have formed a sort of epoch in the his
tory of letters. Less regard seems to have been paid to science by the Seleucidæ ; but they cultivated the favourite and almost peculiar art of the Greeks, that of stamping metals with consume mate beauty and ingenuity; and by their coins and medals, the imperfect remains of their history have often been illustrated. The condition of the native Orientals is not easily to be distinguished. The remote and barbarous provinces, wherein but few Greeks were settled, probably felt little more than a nominal subjection, and retained such laws and customs as they might have of their own. Even in the city of Seleucia, Polybius seems to speak of magistrates or judges belonging to the native inhabitants. Their condition, however, where the Greeks were numerous, as in Syria or Cilicia, was probably little better than servile; at least those countries seem to have supplied slaves to the markets of Greece and Italy.
III. If we were to appreciate political vigour merely by extent of dominion, the kingdom of Syria would appear incomparably the most powerful of those that were shared amongst the conquerors of Ipsus. But it was weakened by its own size, and by the difficulty of retaining in subjection nations distinct in their race, manners, and language. The distant provinces were necessarily entrusted to the care of viceroys, who sometimes became too powerful to continue subjects. Two successive revolts of Molo in the Upper, and of Achæus in the Lesser Asia, threatened the throne of Antiochus the Great; and although his victories for a time reestablished the Syrian power throughout Asia, yet after his death, or rather after the inglorious events of the latter part of his reign, it soon fell to pieces, and, in less than half a century, was reduced to insignificance. Even in its best days, we must not conceive, that the successors of Selcucus possessed that firm and well compacted sovereignty over all parts of their dominions, which notions borrowed from modern Europe would lead us to expect. They received assistance in 'war, and tribute in peace, from many barbarous nations, who maintained in their own precincts a virtual independence. The writ of the king of Syria, we suspect, did not run into the inountains of the Mardi or the Carduchi. But decisive proofs of their weakness appear in the countries which were successively dismembered from their dominions. In Asia Minor, the northern parts were occupied by the three petty kingdoms of Pergamos, Bithynia, and Paphlagonia, and the more powerful one of Pontus ; a horde of Gauis and the kings of Cappadocia shared part of the midland district ; and latterly, a nest of pirates fastened upon the southern coast of Pamphilia and Cilici... In the east, their possesions were equally dilapidated. Immediately after the death of Alexander, an Indian chief, by name Sandrocottus, drove the Macedonians from the Panjab; and Seleucus prudently sold his claim to those distant conquests for 500 elephants. So little is heard afterwards of the provinces lying on the hither side of the Indus, about Candahar, that we may suspect them to have followed the example. Theodotus, a Greek, soon afterwards revolted in Bactria, and established a dynasty which lasted for near a century and a half, till it was swept away by an invasion of Tartars; which is attested at once by the historians of Greece and of China. This little kingdom, stationed as it were upon the outDost of civilized life, has excited some interest in modern times : and Mr Gibbon has thought fit to give them credit for being the instructors of the Tartars, and even the Hindoos, in science. It W23 not, however, as has sometimes been imagined, insulated, till within a few years of its downfal; the kings of Syria retaining the adjacent province of Ariana, part of the present Khorasan and Sigistan. A far more important people occupied the western parts of Khorasan, the Parthians, who are thought with much probability to have been a Scythian clan, which at an early period had fixed itself in that region. Antiochus the Great kept them within bounds; but after his death they encroached upon Media, and finally usurped all the provinces to the east of the Euphrates.
The kingdom of Egypt, though necessarily more circumscribert 'han that of Syria, was less liable to dismemberment. Its limits were however various. Cyrene was its permanent apperdage. It contained also generally Cyprus, and sometines Crio-Syria, which was its debateable frontier on the side of Asia. Two only of its monarchs seem to have achieved more ex*prite conquests. In the golden age of Ptolemy Philadelphus, Coote, Caria, and Lycia, were subject to Egypt. At a later periori, Ptolemy Euergetes gained more unprofitable trophies, from an expedition into Nubia, the memory of which is preserved by an inscription discovered in that country about the 6th century. But when the Romans came to meddle with the affairs of the Past, the kings of Egypt felt their inadequacy to contend; obeyed the mandates of the republic with humiliating obsequiousnesss, and were rewarded by that great Polypheme, with the privilege of being devoured the last
In extent and opulence, the kingdom of Macedon was the least considerable of the three. In rating its effective power, we should perhaps make a different estimate. Though not very commercial, it contained mines of the precious, as well as the ruder, metals. Its natives formed excellent soldiers, brave, faithful, steady and patient. It was embraced, except on the side of the sea, by a strong mountainous barrier ; beyond which, to the north and
east, dwelt fierce and warlike barbarians, which, though not always in very thorough submission, were commonly its auxiliaries in the field. By the resistance which it made to the Roman arms, we may judge of the intrinsic strength of Macedon. The contest was quite unequal. Rome had ceased to fight up hill, and had come to wield forces of every kind, far superior to those of any competitor. Yet even under these disadvantages, the unpopular and spiritless Perseus was able to foil three successive Roman consuls in the defence of his country. The harsh measures to which the Romans resorted, prove the sense they entertained of the compatriots of Alexander. Macedon was divided into four districts, perfectly distinct in police, and government; and, to render the separation more perfect, intermarriages among their exclusive inhabitants were prohibited. There is one peculiarity which applies equally to the Macedonians and Greeks of Syria and Egypt. Though each of their royal families was placed upon the throne by no right but conquest, though they had supplanted and extinguished the ancient stock, though their own elevation was recent in the memory of man, their sub. jects appear to have felt, for them, all that blindness of loyalty, which is commonly supposed to follow only long established and illustrious dynasties. No impostor, who made pretensions to royal descent, failed of temporary success; even though he claimed to draw his breath from the contemptible Perseus, or the frantic Antiochus Epiphanes. So irregular is the attachment of nations to their rulers, and so fallacious the reasoning of those who suppose that such sentiments cannot be felt for those whose possesion is but of yesterday, and whose title is the sword.
ART. IV. Outlines of a Plan for educating Ten Thousand Poor
Children, by establishing Schools in Country Towns and Villages; and for uniting Works of Industry with useful Knowledge. By Joseph Lancaster. 8vo. London. 1806.
Though it fell to our lot to defend Mr Lancaster against the
cruel and unfounded clamour to which he was exposed, partly because he had the misfortune not to be a member of the church of England, principally on account of his great merit,-our observations, at that period, were more calculated to repel the aggressions of his enemies, than to explain the nature, and to enforce the importance of his improvements in education.
We premise that we are going to say a great deal about slate pencils, primmers, and spelling-books. We are aware such de