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Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences

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Georges Cuvier

2. The greek world / Le monde grec

4. The Greeks

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  • 1 [Cadmus, in Greek mythology, the son of Phoenix or Agenor (king of Phoenicia) and brother of Europ (...)

1The Greeks did not imbibe their enlightenment and their science from Egypt alone: they are thought to have had contact with the Phoenicians and the Chaldeans; over the Caucasus they communicated with the peoples of the north of Europe and of Asia; and it is from these peoples, native to India, that the Greeks received religious rites and symbols different from those of Egypt. But actually, what we know about this is scarcely more than the result of conjecture and interpretation. Our certain knowledge about Greece does not go back beyond the time when Cadmus1 made known the Phoenician alphabet. It was only then that the chain of our knowledge had its beginning, not to be broken again, and that the history of the sciences, instead of being founded as in India and Egypt upon likelihood and supposition, acquired monuments and a continuous series of written documents for its foundation.

2As soon as the sciences were introduced in Greece, they became developed there with much greater speed than among the peoples we have been discussing. There are two reasons for this accelerated development: the geographic location and physical characteristics of the country, and the absence of a dominating sacerdotal caste.

3India, Egypt, and Babylon are composed of plains or long valleys where the undulations of the ground afford no means of natural defense; thus, we have seen that these countries were often invaded, ravaged, and entirely subjugated by nomadic tribes. The physical characteristics of Greece are, on the other hand, completely favorable to the defense of its territory: the central part is almost completely mountainous; there, each population was separated from the others by deep gorges, the rocky sides of which served as ramparts. A conqueror could not get beyond these obstacles except over piles of dead bodies, and no sooner might he succeed in doing so at a few circumscribed points than the conquered would throw off the yoke of his victory. The small islands were equally defended by their geographical position. Moreover, this varied topography, so cut up by islands, mountains, and seas, nourished the spirit of independence in the different parts of Greece, and always forbade that they remain united for very long under the same laws. Perhaps this physical arrangement impedes yet today the establishment of a central government.

4The colonies established by the Greeks in Asia Minor and Italy were not, in respect to defending them against foreign invasion, so favorably situated as central Greece: it was rather easy to conquer them. But when they were invaded, civilization in Greece received no harm; far from that, such an invasion was a new cause for progress in Greece, for then the scholars in the colonies, who had been born there or had moved there, took refuge in the mother-country, which they enriched with their learning.

  • 2 The leaders of the colonies were not Egyptian priests. The latter nursed a great horror of the sea (...)
  • 3 There were some exceptions; some names were taken from the Pelasgian language [see note 4, below], (...)

5In the Orient, mythological forms were the symbolic expression of a general system of philosophy, and so the priests held a monopoly over both religion and the sciences. The leaders of the colonies that were established in Greece did not know the meaning of the symbols they were using: in that regard they were as ignorant as the multitude2. Thus they lacked the ascendancy that comes with superiority of learning, and so it was impossible for them to form a religious caste having political power anywhere else but within the limits of the colony. They merely practiced their cult alongside that of the country, and the Greeks after a time came to admire some of those deities; however, the Greeks did not preserve their form, but only the names3 and the mode of worship. The Egyptian and Indian gods lost their hideous attributes and became for the Greeks mere mortals superior to human beings in power and beauty.

6The sciences at the time of their rebirth in Greece were therefore completely isolated from religion and met with no obstacle in their development; whereas, among peoples whose science was joined with religion, and thus believed to have a divine origin, it could make no progress, since the essence of divine notions is unchangeableness.

7In looking over the whole history of the sciences in ancient Greece, one observes four distinct epochs.

  • 4 [Pelasgi, also called Pelasgians, the people who occupied Greece before the 12th century B.C. The (...)

8The first begins with the settling of the Pelasgi4 on Greek soil and ends with the arrival of Egyptian emigrants, which took place 1,400 or 1,500 years B.C.

9The second extends from the arrival of the Egyptian emigrants up to about 1100 B.C., when the Greek colonies were founded on the coasts of Asia Minor.

  • 5 [Psammetichus, see Lesson 3, note 3, above.]

10The third epoch covers the time after the establishment of these colonies, and those set up later in Italy, until the renewing of communications between Greece and Egypt under Psammetichus5 about the year 600 B.C.

  • 6 [Thales of Miletus, see Lesson 1, note 6, above.]

11And the fourth, which begins with the travels of Thales6 in Egypt, is the most brilliant of all; it was especially remarkable for the great number of philosophical schools succeeding each other up to the time of Socrates and Aristotle.

  • 7 [In ancient Greek myths, the Black Sea –then on the fringe of the Mediterranean world– was named P (...)

12If one were to accept as true the accounts of the writers in the school at Alexandria, the history of Greece during the last of these four epochs would be perfectly known to us. Those writers claim to give the genealogy of the kings who ruled in the time of the Pelasgi, with all the scope and detail that modern history gives for the royal families of Europe whose origin and affiliation are the best known to us. But it is impossible to trust such royal successions as the Alexandrine explicitly; it is clear that genealogies beginning with mythological characters such as Jupiter or Neptune were fabricated long after the beginning date that they claim. The history of Greece before the time that Cadmus brought alphabetical writing relies on scarcely more than conjecture. We know only that the Pelasgi originated in India; the abundance of Sanskrit roots in their language permits no doubt of this. It is likely that these people penetrated through Persia up to the Caucasus, and instead of continuing their way over land they embarked upon the Pontus Euxinus, or Black Sea7, and came down to the shores of Greece.

  • 8 [Mycenae and Tiryns, prehistoric cities in the Peloponnese: Mycenae, celebrated by Homer, and acco (...)
  • 9 [Cyclopean masonry, wall constructed without mortar, using enormous blocks of uncut stone. This te (...)
  • 10 [Pausanias (died probably between 470 and 465 B.C., at Sparta, Greece), Spartan commander during t (...)
  • 11 [The Treasures of Minias, may be a reference to the Treasury of Atreus, also called the Tomb of Ag (...)
  • 12 [Mount Ptous, a mountain in Boeotia (see note 14, below).]
  • 13 [Lake Kopaïs, in the modern department of Boeotia, once the largest lake in Greece, it was drained (...)
  • 14 Monsieur [Louis Charles François] Petit-Radel [born 22 July 1740, Paris; died 7 November 1818, Par (...)

13Their civilization was not at all advanced; however, they already knew some of the arts and they built towns in their new land. At Mycenae, Tiryns, etc.8, some ruins of their buildings, known as the Cyclopean walls9, have been discovered. Pausanias10 mentions these walls, which, even in his time, were considered as belonging to earliest antiquity. Tradition had it that they had been constructed by the Pelasgi, before the establishment of the Egyptian colonies. Several other gigantic works were also attributed to them, such as, for example, the treasures of Minias11, and the canals excavated through Mount Ptous12 as an outlet for the waters of Lake Kopaïs13 so as to prevent flooding, which was much feared in Boeotia14.

14The religion of the Pelasgi was probably more primitive, more unrefined than the religion of Greece was, later on. Divinities were likely to be personifications of the forces of nature, as in India and as in Egypt.

15About the fourteenth or 15th century before Christ, disturbances in Egypt caused several successive emigrations. Most of them went to Greece.

16The most remarkable ones were those of Cecrops, Danaus, and Cadmus.

  • 15 According to the Abbé [Jean-Jacques] Barthélemy [born 20 January 1716, Cassis, France; died 30 Apr (...)

17Cecrops brought to Attica in 1556 B.C.15 the mysteries of Isis or Ceres.

  • 16 According to Barthélemy [see note 15, above], in 1586. [M. de St.-Agy.] [For Danaus, see Lesson 2, (...)
  • 17 [Argolís, nomós (department), northeastern Peloponnese, southern Greece, a narrow, mountainous pen (...)

18Danaus, in 148516, brought to Argolis the Thesmophoria17.

  • 18 According to the same author [Barthélemy, see note 15, above], in 1594. [M. de St.-Agy.]
  • 19 There is much dispute about this question. Herodotus attributes alphabetic writing to Cadmus [see (...)

19In 149318, that is, in the interval between the two preceding emigrations, Cadmus communicated the Phoenician alphabet19, the Sanskrit origin of which is clear from the shape of the letters and the name they have kept; thus, again, we are brought back to India, which several other indications already have caused us to consider the cradle of the human species and civilization.

  • 20 [Asclepius or Aesculapius, Greco-Roman god of medicine, son of Apollo (god of healing, truth, and (...)
  • 21 [Eleusis, ancient Greek city famous as the site of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Situated in the ferti (...)

20The leaders of these Egyptian colonies exerted great influence over the Pelasgi, whom they surpassed in skill; but since they were untaught generally and ignorant of the metaphysical meaning of Egyptian rites and symbols, they formed no caste –if we make an exception of the family of the Asclepiades20, whose members were hereditary grand-priests of Eleusis21– and therefore Greece received from the Egyptians only the visible forms of their divinities. Only the least repulsive of these forms must have been adopted, and from then on, the divinities appeared in human shape only. In the graphic arts, this anthropomorphism resulted in a singularly remarkable perfection. One cannot be too grateful for the service the Greeks have rendered to the arts, for what would have happened to sculpture and painting if they had been confined to representing the hideous shapes of the symbolic beings by which the Egyptian priests depicted the attributes of divinity; if it had been necessary, for example, for them to reproduce forevermore a god with four heads and a hundred arms, as in India, or a god with the head of a wolf or a sparrow hawk, as in ancient Egypt?

  • 22 [Hellen, in Greek mythology, king of Phthia (at the northern end of the Gulf of Euboea) and grands (...)
  • 23 [Deucalion, in Greek legend, the son of Prometheus (the creator of mankind), king of Phthia in The (...)
  • 24 [Prometheus, in Greek religion, one of the Titans, the supreme trickster, and a god of fire. His i (...)
  • 25 [Colchis, ancient region at the eastern end of the Black Sea south of the Caucasus, in the western (...)
  • 26 The identity of Apollo with Krishna is evident (see Asiatic Researches, vol. 8, p. 65). [M. de St. (...)

21Taste in art and the sciences is especially remarkable in the tribe of the Hellenes22, which ruled over the Pelasgi and the Egyptian colonies, and which ended up giving its name to the country of Homer. This tribe, led by Deucalion23, settled in the environs of Parnassus and established the cult of Apollo there. It probably came from the Caucasus, since the poets claim that Prometheus24, Deucalion’s father, was chained upon this mountain. Doubtless these people from the Caucasus knew Indian doctrines, since they had frequent contact with Colchis25, which for a long time was like a counting-house for the great trade the Indians carried out in the seas of Europe26.

  • 27 [Orpheus, ancient Greek legendary hero endowed with superhuman musical skills. He became the patro (...)
  • 28 [Chiron, in Greek mythology, one of the Centaurs, the son of the god Cronus and Philyra, a sea nym (...)

22The Greek religion had undergone the influence of Egyptian religion; it was also modified by Indian religion. Orpheus27, for example, instituted on the island of Samothrace certain religious forms that differed little from those of the Orient. But, as I have said, anthropomorphism prevailed and was generally established. Attributed to Orpheus, who was both priest and poet, are a collection of hymns and some other works in which plants and objects of another kingdom are dealt with in their role in theurgy. Chiron28 is thought to have known, at about the same time, the use of plants in medicine.

  • 29 [Aesculapius or Asclepius, see note 20, above.]
  • 30 [Hippocrates, see Lesson 5, note 36.]

23These two men, Orpheus and Chiron, are placed among the heroes who went to Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece. But that expedition seems to me to be nothing more than a fable. I believe that one ought to consider it the poetic expression of the commerce that was established at the time on the Black Sea between Greece, the peoples of the Caucasus, and the tribes from the interior of Asia. Chiron, too, might well be just the personification of the first success in medicine by the family of Aesculapius or the Asclepiades29, who date back to about 1300 B.C., and whose works furnished the material for the admirable writings of Hippocrates30, 900 years later.

  • 31 [Ajax, in Greek legend, son of Oileus, king of Locris. In spite of his small stature, he held his (...)
  • 32 It appears that even anatomy at the time was not completely unknown, for Homer indicates with some (...)

24About the 12th century before our era, the famous Trojan War broke out, in which Europe and Asia took part, and which, 200 years later, Homer celebrated in immortal verses. We see by the poems of this sort in the West that by then the arts and sciences had already made great progress. Trade in Colchis had procured for the Greeks various riches, metals, materials for dyeing, procedures of various sorts: they knew how to forge and temper metals, to emboss and gild their arms, fabricate textiles and dye them with vivid colors. Sculpture, architecture, and painting had also been invented. Natural history was not totally unknown, and what was known was apparently rather extensive, for one encounters in Homer’s poetry a rather large number of ideas on the medicinal properties of plants, and quite accurate observations on the customs and habits of animals. For example, the comparison Homer makes between Ajax31 pursued by brutish warriors and a lion harassed by jackals is perfectly conformable to what we know now about the nature of these animals32.

  • 33 In the poetry of Homer, one finds no definite system of religion, no fixed rules; no connection jo (...)
  • 34 In many respects, the Homeric gods are inferior to men. For example, compare the domestic life of (...)

25The Iliad and the Odyssey contain generalizations on morals; but no trace can be found of a philosophical doctrine, nor even of a religious doctrine, properly speaking33. In these poems, the gods are but humans who are more beautiful and gifted with more powerful abilities than other mortals; for, although they can disappear and can fly through the air, they are vulnerable like mortals34.

  • 35 Perhaps he [Hesiod] comes after Homer, for in his work we find many moral ideas, more than in Home (...)
  • 36 Works and Days is a work on agronomy that embraces the entire social condition and in which religio (...)

26Hesiod can be considered a contemporary of Homer35. In his Theogony, one sees mythological anthropomorphism in all his characters: a few traits of pantheism in the history of the Giants and Titans can be discerned, but only with difficulty. In his Works and Days36, a Georgics style of poem, Hesiod writes of agricultural tasks and teaches the recognition of the proper time for each of them by the heliacal rise of the stars, which proves that, if the lunar year was established in Greece, it was very little observed in domestic use, by reason of the inconvenience of its mode of division. Hesiod names elsewhere in his book a certain number of planets with their characteristics.

27Such, then, in the 9th century before the Christian era, was the state of the sciences and the arts in Greece.

28But in the interval between the Trojan War and the birth of Homer and Hesiod, there were events that would later especially favor the progress of civilization.

  • 37 [Heraclides, family originating with Hercules or Heracles, most famous Greco-Roman legendary hero. (...)

29The princes of Hercules’s family, the Heraclides37, were claiming to have exclusive rights to the governing of the Peloponnesus; they conquered it, and the Ionians, Dorians, and Aeolians emigrated to the coasts of Asia Minor. These peoples founded many towns there, some of which acquired great importance, such as Miletus, Smyrna, and Ephesus.

30The presence of these towns on the Asiatic shores of the Aegean Sea, the close communications that were established between one side of that sea and the other, marked Greek trade with a new impetus that caused all the riches of the East to flow in with abundance. In turn, the towns of Asia Minor were enabled to found their own colonies, and several populations from their midst became established on the shores of the Black Sea.

31A little over two centuries after the conquest of the Peloponnesus by the Heraclides, Greece became the theater of new troubles. Almost everywhere there occurred the substitution of republican government for royalty. These violent changes brought about more emigrations, which ended up in places different from those chosen or accepted by the first Greek fugitives; it was in Italy, where Syracuse, Crotona, Locri, etc., were founded, that these new colonies became established. The area became known as Magna Graecia. The Italian colonies soon became the equal of their Asian sisters; they were extremely rich and refined, and the mother country found in them additional powerful means of civilization and wealth.

32Now we have come to the last and most important of the four epochs in the history of the sciences in Greece. There were several events at the time that brought together in this country the knowledge that was scattered about in different parts of the civilized world.

  • 38 [Cambyses II, see Lesson 2, note 6.]

33About 600 years before our era, Cyrus conquered Media. His son Cambyses38 took the army to Egypt, subdued the whole country, and crushed and persecuted its priests with such violence that some of them took refuge in the Greek colonies of Asia Minor, which became enriched with their knowledge. Ordinarily, conquest has a less rigorous effect; the conquerors, either in order to obtain more easily the moral submission of their disarmed enemies, or because their civilization is less advanced than that of the conquered, adopt a portion of their customs and habits, or at least let them enjoy their customs and habits in tranquility.

34In Egypt, such conciliation was not practicable. The religion of the Persians, which was based on the doctrine of the two principles, was superior to the Egyptian religion. In addition, the Persians had a horror of the cult of images found in the latter religion, and since the customs and institutions of a people are always subordinate to its religious principles, the Persians rejected all Egyptian ways.

  • 39 [Darius I, called Darius the Great (born 550 B.C., died 486), king of Persia in 522-486 B.C., one (...)
  • 40 [Pythagoras, see Lesson 3, note 5, above.]
  • 41 [Psammetichus II, see Lesson 3, note 3, above.]

35The same ideas ruled their conduct when, under Darius39, successor to Cambyses, they conquered the Greek colonies of Asia Minor. Their oppressive rule arrested the rise of art and poetry there, as in Egypt it had annihilated religious and philosophical doctrines. But a multitude of emigrants, noted for their learning, proceeded towards central Greece and enriched it with knowledge gained in Egypt; for Thales, Pythagoras40, and many other wisemen or philosophers had flocked to visit the sacerdotal colleges of Egypt, as soon as Psammetichus41 had allowed entry to foreigners. Thus, if Persian victories in Asia alarmed the Greeks and hindered for some time their material interests, at least their intellectual progress was not stopped; indeed, to the contrary, perhaps the development of art and of learning of all sorts was accelerated.

  • 42 [Xerxes I, called Xerxes the Great (born c. 519 B.C.; died 465, at Persepolis), Persian king (486- (...)

36After Darius, his successor Xerxes42 tried to capture central Greece; but, defeated first at Salamis, then at Plataea, and even in a sense at Thermopylae where the courage of the Spartans intimidated his soldiers, he ended up being driven out of Greece entirely, and it was then that human intellectual faculties were developed with the greatest brilliance. Until then, philosophy had been dispersed in the colonies of Asia Minor and Italy; soon it became concentrated in Athens and rapidly attained a high degree of perfection there.

  • 43 In addition, the Egyptian priests would give initiates and foreigners explications that varied acc (...)

37Greek philosophy, the mother of our sciences, was not born all at once, nor did it have uniformity. However, it was derived entirely from Egyptian philosophy; but borrowings from this source were modified by each philosopher, according to his opinions and personal studies43; hence resulted the various schools, different from, and even completely opposite to, each other.

  • 44 [Anaxagoras (born c. 500 B.C., at Clazomenae, Anatolia [now in Turkey]; died c. 428, Lampsacus), G (...)

38The most ancient was the Ionian school, which was founded in Ionia by Thales about 600 B.C. Thales had a great number of followers living in the larger cities of Asia Minor, such as Miletus and Ephesus. Anaxagoras44, his most famous disciple, was forced by the Persian victory to leave his country; he took refuge in Athens about the year 500 and taught his master’s principles there, after having modified them.

39There is some debate about his philosophy that goes back to very ancient times. He is credited with the sentence: Know thyself [italics translated from the Greek].

40The second school is that of Pythagoras, who flourished about the year 550 B.C. He established himself first at Samos; from there he went to Crotona in Italy, whence the name Italic given to his school. He remained more loyal than Thales did to the doctrines of Egypt; he even tried to re-establish them, setting up secret societies in Crotona that caused trouble for the majority of his followers.

  • 45 [Xenophanes, see Lesson 5, note 26.]
  • 46 [Benedict (Baruch) Spinoza or Benedictus de Spinoza (born 24 November 1632, at Amsterdam; died 21 (...)
  • 47 [Johann Gottlieb Fichte (born 19 May 1762, at Rammenau, Upper Lusatia, Saxony [now in Germany]; di (...)

41The third sect or school was the Eleans or Eleatics, and takes its name from the town of Elea in Magna Graecia where it was first established. Its founder was Xenophanes of Colophon45, a contemporary of Pythagoras. Xenophanes does not seem to have derived his philosophy from the Egyptians. It is very similar to the Indians’ doctrines, being characterized by a pure idealism. In our day, Spinoza46 and Fichte47 have to some degree revived his system.

  • 48 [Leucippus (fl. 5th century B.C., probably at Miletus, on the west coast of Asia Minor), Greek phi (...)

42The fourth school was called the atomist and was founded by Leucippus48 whose country of origin is unknown. His system is totally opposite to that of the Eleatics. The atomist school recognized only corporeal objects in the universe. Despite the falsity of its principle, the school, always brought back to the observation of nature, made progress in the sciences that are the object of our research.

43Beside these four schools, which were purely speculative, the latter being no exception, stood the family of Aesculapius, or the Asclepiades, which was never connected with the schools. It cultivated the sciences for a practical purpose only, and was interested particularly in facts. Its method, which was used later, obtained great progress for the sciences.

44Up to the time of Socrates, the four schools –Ionian, Pythagorean, Eleatic, and Atomist– existed separately. Socrates united them eclectically and formed from their fusion a new school, which, spread abroad by Plato and being soon divided into several branches, gave birth to all the sciences that have since then been cultivated in the West.

45Before considering the history of the school, or rather of the Socratic method, we shall examine in detail in our next meeting the works of the four schools that I have just characterized in a general way.

Notes

1 [Cadmus, in Greek mythology, the son of Phoenix or Agenor (king of Phoenicia) and brother of Europa. Europa was carried off by Zeus, king of the gods, and Cadmus was sent out to find her. Unsuccessful, he consulted the Delphic oracle, which ordered him to give up his quest, follow a cow, and build a town on the spot where she lay down. The cow guided him to Boeotia (Cow Land), where he founded the city of Thebes (in Greece). Later, Cadmus sowed in the ground the teeth of a dragon he had killed. From these sprang a race of fierce, armed men, called Sparti (meaning Sown). Five of them assisted him to build the Cadmea, or citadel, of Thebes and became the founders of the noblest families of that city. Cadmus later took as his wife Harmonia, daughter of the divinities Ares and Aphrodite, by whom he had a son, Polydorus, and four daughters, Ino, Autonoë, Agave, and Semele. Cadmus and Harmonia finally retired to Illyria. But when the Illyrians later angered the gods and were punished, Cadmus and Harmonia were saved, being changed into black serpents and sent by Zeus to the Islands of the Blessed. According to tradition Cadmus brought the alphabet to Greece.]

2 The leaders of the colonies were not Egyptian priests. The latter nursed a great horror of the sea; the sea was for them the evil principle (Plutarch, Isis and Osiris [Plutarchi De Iside et Osiride liber; graece et anglice. Graeca recensuit, emendavit, commentario auxit, versionem novam anglicanam adjecit Samuel Squire... Accesserunt Xylandri, Baxteri, Bentleii, Marklandi conjecturae et emendationes, Cambridge: typis Academicis, 1744]). No member of the superior castes would trust to navigation. Any maritime voyage was formally forbidden to priests. It is still the same in India. Traces of this interdiction are found in Diodorus [see Lesson 12, note 26], and we know of two Brahmans degraded for crossing the Indus (Asiatic Researches, vol. 6, pp. 535-539). [M. de St.-Agy.]

3 There were some exceptions; some names were taken from the Pelasgian language [see note 4, below], for example the Charides and the Nereids (see [Christian Gottlob] Heyne, [de] Theog[onia] Hes[iodea. Textu subinde reficto in usum praelectionum seorsum edita a Frid. Aug. Wolf. Halle: J. J. Gebauer, 1783, 166 p.]) [M. de St.-Agy.]

4 [Pelasgi, also called Pelasgians, the people who occupied Greece before the 12th century B.C. The name was used only by ancient Greeks. The Pelasgi were mentioned as a specific people by several Greek authors, including Homer, Herodotus, and Thucydides, and were said to have inhabited various areas, such as Thrace, Argos, Crete, and Chalcidice. In the 5th century B.C. the surviving villages apparently preserved a common non-Greek language. It is uncertain whether any ancient people actually called themselves Pelasgi. In later Greek usage their name was applied to all “aboriginal” Aegean populations.]

5 [Psammetichus, see Lesson 3, note 3, above.]

6 [Thales of Miletus, see Lesson 1, note 6, above.]

7 [In ancient Greek myths, the Black Sea –then on the fringe of the Mediterranean world– was named Pontus Axeinus, meaning “Inhospitable Sea”. Later explorations made the region more familiar, and, as colonies were established along the shores of a sea the Greeks came to know as more hospitable and friendly, its name was changed to Pontus Euxinus, the opposite of the earlier designation. It was across its waters that Jason and the Argonauts set out, according to legend, to find the Golden Fleece in the land of Colchis, a kingdom at the sea’s eastern tip (now Georgia).]

8 [Mycenae and Tiryns, prehistoric cities in the Peloponnese: Mycenae, celebrated by Homer, and according to legend, the home of Agamemnon, the Achaean king who sacked the city of Troy; Tiryns on the Greek island of Crete, noted for its architectural remains of the Homeric period – from the huge stones of the walls of its citadel, supposedly built by the Cyclopes for the legendary king Proteus, the expression Cyclopean masonry is derived (see note 9, below).]

9 [Cyclopean masonry, wall constructed without mortar, using enormous blocks of uncut stone. This technique was employed in fortifications where use of large stones reduced the number of joints and thus reduced the walls’ potential weakness. Such walls are found on Crete, and in Italy and Greece. Ancient fable attributed them to a Thracian race of giants, the Cyclopes, named after their one-eyed king, Cyclops. Similar walls, though not called cyclopean, are found at Machu Picchu, Peru, and at several other pre-Columbian sites in the New World. The citadel of Tiryns (c. 1300 B.C.) on Crete features such walls. They range in thickness from approximately 24 feet (7 meters) to as much as 57 feet (17 meters) where chambers are incorporated within them. Though formed without mortar, clay may have been used for bedding.]

10 [Pausanias (died probably between 470 and 465 B.C., at Sparta, Greece), Spartan commander during the Greco-Persian Wars who was accused of treasonous dealings with the enemy. The Cyclopean walls are mentioned in his Description of Greece [with an English translation by Jones William Henry Samuel & Ormerod Henry Arderne], London: W. Heinemann; New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1926, vol. 2. On the life and works of Pausanias, see Description of Greece [with an English translation by Jones William Henry Samuel], London: W. Heinemann; New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1918, vol. 1.]

11 [The Treasures of Minias, may be a reference to the Treasury of Atreus, also called the Tomb of Agamemnon, Beehive Tomb, or Tholos, a tomb built c. 1300 to 1250 B.C. at Mycenae, Greece. This surviving architectural structure of the Mycenaean civilization is a pointed dome built up of overhanging (i.e., corbeled) blocks of conglomerate masonry cut and polished to give the impression of a true vault. The diameter of the tomb is almost 50 feet (15 meters); its height is slightly less. The enormous monolithic lintel of the doorway weighs 120 tons and is 29 1/2 ft long, 16 1/2 ft deep, and 3 ft high. It is surmounted by a relieving triangle decorated with relief plaques. A small side chamber hewn out of the rock contained the burials, whereas the main chamber was probably reserved for ritual use. Two engaged columns of Minoan type (now in the British Museum, London) were secured to the facade, which was approached by a dromos, or ceremonial passageway, riveted with cyclopean blocks of masonry and open to the sky.]

12 [Mount Ptous, a mountain in Boeotia (see note 14, below).]

13 [Lake Kopaïs, in the modern department of Boeotia, once the largest lake in Greece, it was drained in the late 19th century and is now a fertile plain growing cereals and cotton and supporting pedigreed cattle.]

14 Monsieur [Louis Charles François] Petit-Radel [born 22 July 1740, Paris; died 7 November 1818, Paris; French architect] has recently discovered in Italy some cyclopean constructions that could prove that this country was inhabited early on by people who had the same origin as the Pelasgi [see Petit-Radel (Louis-Charles François), Recherches sur les monuments Cyclopéens et description de la collection des modeÌles en relief composant la galerie pélasgique de la bibliotheÌque Mazarine, Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1841, xxxviii + 352 p.; see also, note 4, above] [M. de St.-Agy]. [Boeotia, modern Greek Voiotía, district of ancient Greece with a distinctive military, artistic, and political history. In classical times the muchreorganized Boeotian defensive league figured prominently in the rivalry between Athens and Sparta. The league led an uprising against Sparta during the Corinthian War (395-387 B.C.) and in the Battle of Chaeronea (338) was thoroughly decimated in the struggle to preserve Greek independence from Macedonia. When Boeotia rose again (335) against Alexander III the Great, it was destroyed and thereafter was of little consequence.]

15 According to the Abbé [Jean-Jacques] Barthélemy [born 20 January 1716, Cassis, France; died 30 April 1795, Paris; archaeologist and author whose novel about ancient Greece was one of the most widely read books in 19th-century France (see Barthélemy (Jean-Jacques), Charité and Polydorus, a romance. Translated from the French of the Abbé Barthélemy... With an abridgement of the life of the author, by the late Duke of Nivernois, London: Charles Dilly, 1799, lxiv + 189 p.)], in 1657. [M. de St.-Agy.] [For Cecrops, see Lesson 1, note 49.]

16 According to Barthélemy [see note 15, above], in 1586. [M. de St.-Agy.] [For Danaus, see Lesson 2, note 34.]

17 [Argolís, nomós (department), northeastern Peloponnese, southern Greece, a narrow, mountainous peninsula projecting eastward into the Aegean Sea between the Saronic Gulf (to the northeast) and the Gulf of Argolis (to the southwest). Thesmophoria is Greek for “laying down the law”: an ancient Greek festival with mysteries, celebrated by married women in honor of Demeter (Ceres) as the “mother of beautiful offspring”. It was especially observed at Athens and Eleusis.]

18 According to the same author [Barthélemy, see note 15, above], in 1594. [M. de St.-Agy.]

19 There is much dispute about this question. Herodotus attributes alphabetic writing to Cadmus [see note 1, above]; but Herodotus believed everything he was told, without proof [Godolphin (Francis Richard Borroum) (ed.), The Greek historians [The complete and unabridged historical works of Herodotus, translated by Rawlinson George; Thucydides, translated by Jowett Benjamin; Xenophon, translated by Dakyns Henry G. [and] Arrian, translated by Chinnock Edward J.; edited, with an introduction, revisions and additional notes, by Godolphin Francis R. B.], New York: Random house, [1942], 2 vols]; besides, he says this is only a rumor for which he in no way vouches, so they tell me [italics translated from the Greek]. Aeschylus [born in 525 B.C., the first of classical Athens’ three great writers of tragedy] names Prometheus [in Greek religion, one of the Titans, the supreme trickster, and a god of fire] as the inventor of writing; others go back as far as Orpheus [ancient Greek legendary hero endowed with superhuman musical skills; he became the patron of a religious movement based on sacred writings said to be his own], Cecrops, or Linus [in Greek mythology, the personification of lamentation]. The Greeks liked to place the origin of the arts in the very earliest centuries and did not take notice of their subsequent progress. Euripides [probably born in 484 B.C., the youngest of classical Athens’ three great tragedians], in a fragment preserved by Stobaeus [Greek anthologist of the 5th century A.D.], calls Palamedes [in Greek legend, the son of Nauplius, king of Euboea, and a prominent figure in post-Homeric legends about the siege of Troy] the creator of the alphabet, which would make this discovery contemporaneous with the Trojan War. It is not likely that Euripides would have substituted Palamedes for Cadmus in his plays before his spectators if this hypothesis were generally contrary to received opinion. The Greeks were so little advanced in Cadmus’s time that the fable of Amphion building the walls of Thebes with the sound of his lute came later by a century. [Amphion and his brother Zethus, in Greek mythology, were the twin sons of Zeus by Antiope. When children, they were left to die on Mount Cithaeron but were found and brought up by a shepherd. Amphion became a great singer and musician, Zethus a hunter and herdsman. After rejoining their mother, they built and fortified Thebes, huge blocks of stone forming themselves into walls at the sound of Amphion’s lyre.] This fable is clearly symbolic of the first efforts of civilized society to call together the uncivilized. In Homer are several details that seem to indicate that writing did not yet exist: all treaties are concluded orally; remembrance of them and their conditions is through signs; and in the two passages that imply the use of letters, the first may refer to hieroglyphics carved in wood and the second may be used as contrary evidence. [To Lycia the devoted youth he sent,/With tablets seal’d, that told his dire intent. / Now bless’d by every power who guards the good, / The chief arrived at Xanthus’silver flood:/There Lycia’s monarch paid him honors due,/Nine days he feasted, and nine bulls he slew. / But when the tenth bright morning orient glow’d, / The faithful youth his monarch’s mandate show’d:/The fatal tablets, till that instant seal’d, / The deathful secret to the king reveal’d] (Iliad, 6: 167, 168). About this passage, see [Christian Gottlob] Heyne’s [born 25 September 1729, died 14 July 1812] notes [De antiquis Virgilii interpretibus. Publius Virgilius Mario varietate lectionis et perpetua adnotatione illustratus a Christ. Gottl. Heyne [edited by Heyne Christian Gotlob, 4th ed., revised by Wagner Georg P. E.], Leipzig: Libraria Hahniana; London: Black, Young andYoung, 1830-1841, 5 vols.], and the Prolegomena [ad Homerum sive de operum Homericorum prisca et genuina forma variisque mutationibus et probabili ratione emendandi, 1st edition, Halis Saxonum: Orphanotr, 1795, vol. 1] by [Friedrich August] Wolf [born 15 February 1759; died 8 August 1824], page 76. Apollodorus [of Athens (fl. 140 B.C.), Greek scholar of wide interests who is best known for his Chronicle of Greek history written in verse (Hornblower (Simon) & Spawforth (Antony) (eds), «Apollodorus of Athens», The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed., Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 124)], in telling the anecdote of Bellerophon [one of the greatest of the Greek heroes (Iliad, 6: 144-221 ff)], uses the word επιςολη, mandatum [Latin for commission, charge, or order], and επιγνωγαι, which is never used in Greek for to read. The word επιγραφας, found in this passage, proves absolutely nothing. The meaning of words changes with progress in the arts. The word γραφειν [the Greek word for “to write”] in Homer’s time meant to sculpt: not at all unexpected. Since the warriors who put a token in Agamemnon’s helmet –so that lots could be drawn to decide who would fight Hector– did not recognize the token that the herald held up to them, it stands to reason that the token was not a written name, for each one would have been able to read the name of his competitor as readily as his own, but rather it was an arbitrary token recognizable only to him who had placed it. Eustathius [of Thessalonica (born early 12th century, at Constantinople; died c. 1194, in Thessalonica, Greece), metropolitan (archbishop) of Thessalonica (c. 1175-1194), humanist scholar, author, and Greek Orthodox reformer whose chronicles, oratory, and pedagogy show him to be one of medieval Byzantium’s foremost men of learning] asserts that, in Homer’s time, the discovery of letters was quite recent. Moreover, there is among all early peoples, as the celebrated scholar [Friedrich August] Wolf [1759-1824] remarks in his Prolegomena [ ad Homerum], p. 69 [see Wolf (Friedrich August), Prolegomena ad Homerum sive De operum Homericorum prisca et genuina forma variisque mutationibus et probabili ratione emandandi [scripsit Frid. Aug. Wolfius; ed. noca cum notis ineditis Immanuelle Bekkeri], Berlin: S. Calvary & soc, 1872, in-8 [not paginated]; Wolf (Friedrich August), Prolegomena to Homer [translation with introduction and notes by Grafton Anthony, Most Glenn W. & Zetzel James E. G.], Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1985, XIV + 265 p.], one proof that fixes the epoch in which the use of writing becomes general: it is the composition of works in prose; as long as these do not exist, it is proof that writing is still little used. In the absence of materials for writing, verse is easier to remember than prose, and easier to carve. Prose is born straightway after men have acquired the possibility of trusting, for the continuance of their compositions, an instrument other than their memory; the first authors in prose –Pherecydes [of Syros (fl. 6th century B.C.), a Greek philosopher, sometimes reckoned among the seven wise men; fragments of his work on cosmogony and theogony are extant], Cadmus of Miletus, Hellanicus [eminent Greek logographer, a native of Mytilene, Lesbos, who lived about 450 B.C.; a prolific writer, held in high esteem by the ancients]– came well after Homer, since they are of the century of Pisistratus. [M. de St.-Agy.]

20 [Asclepius or Aesculapius, Greco-Roman god of medicine, son of Apollo (god of healing, truth, and prophecy) and the nymph Coronis. The Centaur Chiron taught him the art of healing. At length Zeus (the king of the gods), afraid that Asclepius might render all men immortal, slew him with a thunderbolt. Homer, in the Iliad, mentions him only as a skillful physician; in later times, however, he was honored as a hero and eventually worshiped as a god. The cult began in Thessaly but spread to many parts of Greece. Because it was supposed that Asclepius effected cures of the sick in dreams, the practice of sleeping in his temples became common.]

21 [Eleusis, ancient Greek city famous as the site of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Situated in the fertile plain of Thria about 14 miles (23 km) west of Athens, opposite the island of Salamis, Eleusis was independent until the 7th century B.C., when Athens annexed the city and made the Eleusinian Mysteries a major Athenian religious festival.]

22 [Hellen, in Greek mythology, king of Phthia (at the northern end of the Gulf of Euboea) and grandson of the god Prometheus; he was the eponymous ancestor of all true Greeks, called Hellenes in his honor. The Hellenes consisted of the Aeolians, Dorians, Ionians, and Achaeans, traditionally descended from and named for Hellen’s sons, Aeolus and Dorus, and grandsons, Ion and Achaeus.]

23 [Deucalion, in Greek legend, the son of Prometheus (the creator of mankind), king of Phthia in Thessaly, and husband of Pyrrha; he was also the father of Hellen, the mythical ancestor of the Hellenic race (see note 22, above).]

24 [Prometheus, in Greek religion, one of the Titans, the supreme trickster, and a god of fire. His intellectual side was emphasized by the apparent meaning of his name, Forethinker. In common belief he developed into a master craftsman, and in this connection he was associated with fire and the creation of man.]

25 [Colchis, ancient region at the eastern end of the Black Sea south of the Caucasus, in the western part of modern Georgia. It consisted of the valley of the Phasis (modern Riuni) River. In Greek mythology Colchis was the home of Medea and the destination of the Argonauts, a land of fabulous wealth and the domain of sorcery. Historically, Colchis was colonized by Milesian Greeks to whom the native Colchians supplied gold, slaves, hides, linen cloth, agricultural produce, and such shipbuilding materials as timber, flax, pitch, and wax. The ethnic composition of the Colchians, who were described by Herodotus as black Egyptians, is unclear. After the 6th century B.C. they lived under the nominal suzerainty of Achaemenidian Persia and passed into the kingdom of Mithradates VI (1st century B.C.) and, then, under the rule of Rome.]

26 The identity of Apollo with Krishna is evident (see Asiatic Researches, vol. 8, p. 65). [M. de St.-Agy.]

27 [Orpheus, ancient Greek legendary hero endowed with superhuman musical skills. He became the patron of a religious movement based on sacred writings said to be his own. Orpheus joined the expedition of the Argonauts, saving them from the music of the Sirens by playing his own, more powerful music.]

28 [Chiron, in Greek mythology, one of the Centaurs, the son of the god Cronus and Philyra, a sea nymph. Chiron lived at the foot of Mount Pelion in Thessaly and was famous for his wisdom and knowledge of medicine. Many Greek heroes, including Heracles, Achilles, Jason, and Asclepius, were instructed by him. Accidentally pierced by a poisoned arrow shot by Heracles, he renounced his immortality in favor of Prometheus and was placed among the stars as the constellation Sagittarius.]

29 [Aesculapius or Asclepius, see note 20, above.]

30 [Hippocrates, see Lesson 5, note 36.]

31 [Ajax, in Greek legend, son of Oileus, king of Locris. In spite of his small stature, he held his own among the other heroes before Troy; but he was also boastful, arrogant, and quarrelsome. For his crime of dragging King Priam’s daughter Cassandra from the statue of the goddess Athena and violating her, he barely escaped being stoned to death by his Greek allies. Voyaging homeward, his ship was wrecked, but Ajax was saved. Then, boasting of his escape, he was cast by Poseidon into the sea and drowned.]

32 It appears that even anatomy at the time was not completely unknown, for Homer indicates with some precision the effects of the wounds received by the heroes in his poem. [M. de St.-Agy.]

33 In the poetry of Homer, one finds no definite system of religion, no fixed rules; no connection joins this world and the next. In general, heaven’s protection is acquired through the sacrifices, independently of virtue and vice. If the gods punish the perjurer, it is because of the outrage against them, not because of the crime against men. Left to themselves, men find in their own heart all motives for actions that regard other mortals. The gods sometimes persecute humanity with no motives other than their passions, and these same passions keep them divided among themselves: They deceive one another and spend their days in rivalries and quarrels. In the poetry of Homer, priests occupy a very subordinate place; the leaders of the nations, the armies’ generals, preside over religious rites; and in private life with their families, the same functions are carried out and the same privileges claimed by the fathers and elders. Agamemnon always carries along with his sword the blade used for sacrifices (Iliad, 3: 271-272; 19: 251-252). He immolates the victims with his own hand (Iliad, 2: 293). Nestor and Peleus do the same, and the poet adds that all this happens according to custom (Odyssey, 3: 436-463; Iliad, 11: 771-774). Alcinoüs presides over religious ceremonies among the Phoenicians (Odyssey, 12: 24-25). In any description of religious rites, the name of the priest is not even given, but rather that of the people’s leader. It is heralds, before priests, who sprinkle holy water on the hands of suppliants (Iliad, 9: 174). No priest intervenes in the purification of the Greek army (Iliad, 1: 314-317). After victory, it is the army that decides whether sacrifices will be offered. The opinion of the leaders is divided. Some perform this religious duty, others dispense with it. Each man consults only his own feelings and wishes. Three verses in the Odyssey indicate in a very remarkable way the priests’ inferior rank. They are represented as men in public service and are placed on a equal footing with physicians, architects, and singers, to whom one offers hospitality and who live on the charity of those who employ them. The poet includes cooks (Odyssey, 17: 384-386). Eminent men among the people and in the army frequently read the future. The gods appear to these mortals surrounded in glory (Iliad, 2, 12, 16, 17, 18). Each individual, on his own authority, can declare himself in communication with heaven. Actually, there existed in Greece numerous sacerdotal families, and the ideas the Greeks had about the gift of prophecy appear to have been somewhat similar to the ridiculous prejudices of modern people about the nobility; they thought that the favor of the gods could be transmitted only from father to son. Calchas [in Greek mythology, the son of Thestor (a priest of Apollo) and the most famous soothsayer among the Greeks at the time of the Trojan War] was descended from a family that had enjoyed this favor for three generations (Apollonius of Rhodes, Scholia in Apollonium Rhodium vetera. Recensuit Carolus Wendel [editio altera ex edition anni MCMXXXV lucis ope expressa], Berlin: apud Weidmannos, 1958, p. 139; see also Jackson (Steven B.), Mainly Apollonius: collected studies/Steven Jackson, Amsterdam: Hakkert, 2004, 141 p.) Mopsus [in Greek legend, an emigrant from Ionia and founder of nearby Cilician Mopsuestia (modern Misis)] owed his light to Manto, daughter of Tiresias [in Greek mythology, a blind Theban seer; in the Odyssey he retained his prophetic gifts even in the underworld, where the hero Odysseus was sent to consult him] (Strabo, book 14; see The geography of Strabo [with an English translation by Jones Horace Leonard. Based in part upon the unfinished version of Sterrett John Robert Sitlington], New York: Putnam’s Sons, 1917, 8 vols). Amphilochus [in Greek legend, a famous seer, son of Amphiaraus and Eriphyle and brother of Alcmaeon, said to have been killed by Apollo] was a prophet, as was his father Amphiaraus [in Greek mythology, a celebrated seer and prince of Argos, son of Olcles (or Apollo) and Hypermestra, and through his father descended from the prophet Melampus]. But all these families were of foreign origin and they never formed a legal establishment; theirs was not the public religion; their monopoly was in the mysteries, and mysteries were separate from the public religion. (See Kreutzer [i.e., Creuzer (Georg Friedrich), Symbolik und Mythologie der alten Völker, besonders der Griechen, von Dr. Friedrich Creuzer, 2nd ed., Leipzig und Darmstadt: Heyer & Leske, 1819-1828, 6 vols]). If priests had an influence of their own in Greece, if they ever governed the country, as the priests in India, in Egypt, and in Persia dominated their respective countries, it was before the brilliant fictions of Homer. One finds, in fact, in the traditions that have come down to us about the customs of the first Pelasgi, certain dogmas and rites that are characteristic of sacerdotal cults. Herodotus speaks of a Hermes with phallus, not Egyptian but Pelasgian. Several authors testify that phalluses were seen in bas-reliefs on the walls of Mycenae, Tiryns, and other Greek cities, as at Bubastis in Egypt (Herodotus 2 [see Godolphin (Francis Richard Borroum) (ed.), The Greek historians..., op cit.]). The Pelasgi offered human sacrifices (Sainte-Croix, des MysteÌres [Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire de la religion secreÌte des anciens peuples, ou recherches historiques et critiques sur les mysteÌres du paganisme, Paris: Nyon l’aîné, 1784, XVI + 584 p.; Sainte-Croix (1746-1809), alias le baron Guilherm de Clermont-Lodève]). Vestiges of cults of the elements and the stars are seen in certain ancient temples in Greece: A sacred fire burned perpetually in the Prytaneum [town hall of a Greek city-state, normally housing the chief magistrate and the common altar or hearth of the community] at Athens; also at Athens an altar was raised dedicated to the Earth (Thucydides, 2: 16 [see Godolphin (Francis Richard Borroum) (ed.), The Greek historians..., op cit.]). Elsewhere, the sea was worshiped as a divinity distinct from Neptune; Cleomenes [Cleomenes I, king of Sparta, died c. 489 B.C.] sacrificed a bull to him by having it thrown into the sea (Herodotus 6: 76). The people of Argos drove horses into a lake in Argolis in honor of the Hours [goddesses of the seasons, hence of orderliness] (Pausanias, Arcad. [Description of Greece, op. cit., Book 8]); and Titania, worshiper of the winds, was long famous for her quadruple holocausts and her magic invocations that dated back to Medea (Pausanias, Corinth., 55 [Description of Greece, op. cit., Book 2]). The Arcadians’cult was especially marked by astronomical notions (Creuzer 4: 90-91 [i.e., Creuzer (Georg Friedrich), Symbolik und Mythologie der alten Völker, op. cit.]). The hideous shapes of some divinities in very ancient times differed greatly from the elegance of the deities gracing the temples and celebrated by the poets of Greece. But how did the Greeks, formerly the slaves of priests, become independent of them? How did this revolution, which was so favorable to the arts and sciences, come about? How did the priests, elsewhere triumphant, become completely subdued in Greece? We do not know. Till now, erudition and the shrewdest criticism have offered only conjectures on this question. Some writers think that the priestly caste was massacred or driven out by the warrior caste; others, that it was done away with by the people, tired of its crushing oppression; still others, that it was destroyed by internal strife. One tradition, likely enough despite its obscurity, tells of struggles at Argos between the priests of Apollo and of Bacchus. Very often, it is through internal dissension between those holding power that power comes to an end. This hypothesis about the destruction of the sacerdotal caste in Greece would explain the incongruity between the language of Homer and the state of society depicted in the Iliad. We would be less surprised to see a dialect that can be regarded as the masterpiece of civilization being used to depict the ways of a half-savage people. We would go back to the origin of these unusual stories of mythology, which are in contrast with the usual mythology of the early Greek poets, where we can unmistakably see similarities with the dogmas and fables of all countries subjected to priestly rule. These scattered stories would then be seen as fragments of a lost whole, unconnected fragments, preserved by men surviving the whole that was lost. Peculiarities that strike us in some of the priestly institutions of Greece, and especially in the most ancient, which are the most foreign to popular religion, would become easy to explain. Finally, the savage condition of the Greeks, made clear by historical researches, would be explained by the same hypothesis about the destruction of the priestly caste; for the tendency of this class has always been to keep the people in ignorance, and the annihilation of the priesthood, in a country where it had reigned without rivals, must have brought about the loss of all earlier civilization. This effect is seen among all peoples subjected to priests – among the Hebrews, in Egypt, in Phoenicia. There, the sciences always followed the fate of the priestly order. The Greeks, free and ignorant, after the suppression of their priests, fell back upon f etichism, the secret dogmas of religion being unknown to them. But results prove that this retrograde movement must not be deplored, and that freedom in poverty is worth more, a thousand times more, than monopoly. [M. de St.-Agy.]

34 In many respects, the Homeric gods are inferior to men. For example, compare the domestic life of Jupiter and Juno with the mortal home life of Penelope and Ulysses; or the conjugal quarrels of Venus and Vulcan with the touching and pure affection of Hector and Andromache. The mortals surpassed their idols in perfection; but soon, thanks to the nature of mortals, the idols took their revenge, and, gaining on their worshipers, they left them far behind. [M. de St.-Agy.]

35 Perhaps he [Hesiod] comes after Homer, for in his work we find many moral ideas, more than in Homer. In Hesiod’s time, philosophy or reason began to enter into religion [Hesiod (fl. c. 700 B.C.) was one of the earliest Greek poets, often called the “father of Greek didactic poetry.” Two of his complete epics have survived, the Theogony, relating the myths of the gods, and the Works and Days, describing peasant life (see Hesiod [translation by Way A. S.], London: Macmillan and Co., 1934, 68 p.)]

36 Works and Days is a work on agronomy that embraces the entire social condition and in which religion is more applicable to human life than in his Theogony [see Hesiod, op. cit.] Both poems were composed of more or less long rhapsodies, each one forming a whole. This is a precious monument of earliest civilization. One finds in it the human spirit in its infancy, so to speak, developing with peaceable and increasing activity within the narrow limits assigned to it by labors that were still new and property that was precarious, at home and hearth only recently constructed. [M. de St.-Agy.]

37 [Heraclides, family originating with Hercules or Heracles, most famous Greco-Roman legendary hero. Behind his very complicated mythology there was probably a real man, perhaps a chieftain-vassal of the kingdom of Argos. Traditionally, however, Heracles was the son of Zeus and Alcmene, granddaughter of Perseus. Zeus swore that the next son born of the Perseid house should become ruler of Greece, but by a trick of Zeus’s jealous wife, Hera, another child, the sickly Eurystheus, was born first and became king; when Heracles grew up, he had to serve him and also suffer the vengeful persecution of Hera.]

38 [Cambyses II, see Lesson 2, note 6.]

39 [Darius I, called Darius the Great (born 550 B.C., died 486), king of Persia in 522-486 B.C., one of the greatest rulers of the Achaemenid dynasty, who was noted for his administrative genius and for his great building projects. Darius attempted several times to conquer Greece; his fleet was destroyed by a storm in 492, and the Athenians defeated his army at Marathon in 490.]

40 [Pythagoras, see Lesson 3, note 5, above.]

41 [Psammetichus II, see Lesson 3, note 3, above.]

42 [Xerxes I, called Xerxes the Great (born c. 519 B.C.; died 465, at Persepolis), Persian king (486-465 B.C.), the son and successor of Darius I (see note 39, above). He is best known for his massive invasion of Greece from across the Hellespont (480 B.C.), a campaign marked by the battles of Thermopylae, Salamis, and Plataea. His ultimate defeat spelled the beginning of the decline of the Achaemenid Empire.]

43 In addition, the Egyptian priests would give initiates and foreigners explications that varied according to their knowledge or their disposition. Thus, they satisfied the credulity of Herodotus by pointing out the similarity between Egyptian and Greek fables; they catered to Plato’s inclination by presenting to him, as if it were their own thinking, the ideas of a most subtle metaphysics; with Diodorus [see Lesson 12, note 26] they descended to completely human interpretations, and according to them, historical events, traced back under symbolic forms, had served as the basis for religion, which the people revered without comprehending it. Thus, each cherished his favorite ideas, according to his attachment to such ideas or his ability to change them. And thus, completely opposite hypotheses coexisted under the same veil, designated by the same name, within the sacerdotal corporations. Alongside the atheistic or pantheistic systems, theism, dualism, emanation, perhaps even skepticism, are given a place and each of these systems is divided into several branches. It was the same in India. Actually, the priests in these countries, although darkly monopolistic and pitilessly privileged, were nonetheless men for all that, and nature forced its way through in the shackles they imposed upon the disinherited class and which they tried to impose upon themselves. Thus they wondered what beings had presided at creation, at the ordering of the universe; why did these beings have the will, how were they invested with creative force, what was their substance? Whence did they obtain life? Are they one, or several? Dependent on each other, or independent? Movers of themselves, or agents at the behest of necessary laws? In this way, priests, without leaving the priestly role, took on that of the metaphysician and the philosopher; and now, on one hand, although they would not give up the immutable public religion, on the other, neither would they give up the personal satisfaction of making abstract and bold speculations. In France, in the religious communities, the same phenomena have taken place: some members of these communities have created philosophical systems, and even religious systems, varying from those that were professed by their order. So true is it that thought cannot be kept a slave and everywhere reacts against the agent that suppresses it [M. de St.-Agy].

44 [Anaxagoras (born c. 500 B.C., at Clazomenae, Anatolia [now in Turkey]; died c. 428, Lampsacus), Greek philosopher of nature remembered for his cosmology and for his discovery of the true cause of eclipses. He was associated with the Athenian statesman Pericles.]

45 [Xenophanes, see Lesson 5, note 26.]

46 [Benedict (Baruch) Spinoza or Benedictus de Spinoza (born 24 November 1632, at Amsterdam; died 21 February 1677, The Hague), Dutch philosopher, best known for The Ethics (Ethica ordine geometrico demonstrata) published posthumously in 1677; cf. Ethics [translated by Boyle Andrew, and revised by Parkinson G. H. R.; with an introduction and notes by Parkinson G. H. R.], London: J. M. Dent, 1989, xxv + 259 p.]

47 [Johann Gottlieb Fichte (born 19 May 1762, at Rammenau, Upper Lusatia, Saxony [now in Germany]; died 27 January 1814, Berlin), German philosopher and patriot, one of the great transcendental idealists.]

48 [Leucippus (fl. 5th century B.C., probably at Miletus, on the west coast of Asia Minor), Greek philosopher credited by Aristotle and by Theophrastus with having originated the theory of atomism. It has been difficult to distinguish his contribution from that of his most famous pupil, Democritus. Only fragments of Leucippus’s writings remain, but two works believed to have been written by him are The Great World System and On the Mind (see Leucippus, The atomists: Leucippus and Democritus. Fragments [a text and translation, with a commentary by Taylor Christopher Charles Whiston], Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999, 308 p.) His theory stated that matter is homogeneous but consists of an infinity of small indivisible particles. These atoms are constantly in motion, and through their collisions and regroupings form various compounds. A cosmos is formed by the collision of atoms that gather together into a “whirl,” and the drumshaped Earth is located in the center of man’s cosmos.]

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