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The comedy, * in its origin, partook of the freedom of prose, and was formed in contrast to tragedy. The comedy breathed the lyric spirit of republicanism, sometimes inclining to the wanton licentiousness of democracy, and pronouncing, freely, opinions on persons and events, while the tragedy lived in the epic, aristocratic spirit of past times. The ancient comedy, with a chorus of a decided political tendency, terminated with the independence of Athens, (404); the middle, although it retained the political character, concealed personalities under borrowed names, moderated its censure and attacks, and approached more to the common characteristic; from it originated (after 328) the modern, which had no chorus, represented invented scenes of domestic life, and distinguished itself by a regular arrangement of plot in the developement of the dramatical events. Of the numerous works of the Attic comic writers, a few only of the most distinguished poets liave come to posterity; the “Attic Citizen” of Aristophanes,t stands preeminent by its rich genius, inexhaustible humour, and perfectly beautiful language: it is true that his satire was not exclusively directed towards, sinners and rascals; his extravagant gaiety often degenerated into buffoonery, and his wit often wounded moral decency ; but all these defects may be justified by the peculiarities of the age and the spirit of the people. Of fifty-four comedies, eleven have been preserved; all of them are masterpieces in their kind, and pictures of manners and customs, of high political, historical and statistical interest; they all belong to the ancient comedy.
The transition from the epopee to Grecian history, was through the Cylic poets. The play of religious figures and images, gave way to various and cheerful scenes of real life; the activity of a childish and rich fancy was restrained by the ncreasinig knowledge of the value of reason, reflection and experience; the present filled every breast with its events, hopes and cares; civil sympathy and a thirst for knowledge were aroused; in short, the poetry of life was associated with prose. Hence, the necessity of writing history, which received a powerful support from the publicity of all writing among the Greeks. The efforts of the Cyclics to render their representation of a certain kind of mythology complete and perfect, as well as to observe in them chronologicalorder, prepared the formation of history, which had been chiefly cultivated (since Ol. 60. 70) in the colonies of Asia Minor, where liberty and wealth first flourished, and manifold experience induced the mind to compare and reflect. The first compilers of ancient tales, logographers and mythographers, seem often, in the choice of their subjeots, to have exactly followed the Epics and Cyclics ; thus, Aristæus of Proconnesus, and Acusilaus of Argos, whose chief sources are supposed to have been the Hesiodic genealogies ; thus also, the Milesian Cadmus and Dionysius; the latter writers were, however, more independent of the Epic and Cyclic, but deviated still more from the lyric and tragic poets.
* In the Alexandrian canon are comprised among the ancient comic writers, Epicharmns of Syracuse, Cratinus, Plato the com. Aristophanes, Pherecrates and
Eupolis; among those of the middle ages, Antiphanes and Alexis; and among the · modern, Philippides, Menander, Philemon, Apollodorus and Dipbilos, comp. Fabr. v. ii. p. 405 H. Stephani comicorum gr. latinorumque sententiæ. + Fab. ibid. p. 356. Heyne Opusc. acad. vol. iv. p. 392. Vossii de historiis, gr.
The perception of many contradictions in mythological tales and traditions, produced the first attempts at examination and inspection of local topics. Thus it became fasbionable to describe the foundation of cities, not only after traditional ta les, but also by consulting existing monuments, sacred gifts, inscriptions and festivals. By commercial intercourse and political combinations, the circumference of historical activity was extended; neighbouring and remote cities and nations were taken in view, and geography was combined with history; the Milesian Dionysius was one of the first by whom the more universal and more modern history was cultivated. Much now depended on the proper views of the writers, on their gathered information, on their examination and inquiries; many a thing was doubted and disputed; often different opinions were formed on one subject. These historical narrations were, like their songs, exhibited publicly at religious festivals, and they advanced, by public contentions, in artful perfection. After such preparations, Herodotus, the father of true history, appeared, with whom the series of classical historians of Greece commenced.*
The works of the logographers,t before the time of Herodotus, are all lost with the exception of a few fragments which have been preserved by the scholiasts; the more important are the following: Cadmus of Miletus, (521) wrote the history of his native place, and that of Ionia; Dionysius of Miletus, (513) first sketched the stories of Dionysos, Hercules and Theseus, and composed the more modern history, with especial regard to Persia ; Diodorus of Sicily, made use of these pre
* In the Alexandrian canon, Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Theopompus, Ephorus, Anaximenes of Lampsacus, and Callisthenes of Olynthus. D. Wyttenbach selec. princip. historicorum.
+ Fabr. b. g. vol. ii. p. 348. Mem. de l'Acad. des inscrip. vol. sxix. p. 69.
paratory works. Hecatæus of Miletus, (509) sometimes critically mistrusting the national stories, gave, in a geographic, genealogic, universal chronicle, information of foreign countries; Charon of Lampsacus, (409) wrote on the Persians, Æthiopians and Hellenes, and was the first who gave a full account of the West of Europe; Xanthus of Lydia, (509) related the history of his country; the Athenian Pherecydes of Leros, (509) collected the ancient sayings of Athens and the other Greek states; the copious Hellanicus of Mytilene, (450) wrote on most of the countries known at that time, in which task he made use of the preparatory works of Hecatæus and Hippys of Rhegium, (513.)
Herodotus, a Dorian from Halicarnassus, (b. 484? d. 407 ?) who lived from his earliest youth at Samos, chose for himself the great historical task of representing the efforts of Hellenic liberty in the struggle with Persia ; he went back to the past in order to explain more fully the present, without losing sight of his principal object. The materials which he had carefully collected on his travels in the north of Greece, in a considerable part of Asia, Egypt and Upper Africa, and which are often verified by monuments or recorded documents, have been arranged by him epically, in a series of connected sketches, with constant regard to geography and national history. His bistory, divided into nine books, (which the grammarians styled after the Muses,) embraces two hundred and twenty years, beginning with the Lydian King Gyges, and finishing with the victory of the Greeks over the Persians, near Mycale; it is written in the Ionic dialect, charmingly artless and pleasing, and is distinguished by love of truth, research and completeness, as well as by its vivacity and constant expression of noble, pious and patriotic sentiments. The Greek people became acquainted with this prosaic composition as a counter-part to the Homeric epopee, at the Olympic Games, (01. 31, 1; 456 B.C.); afterwards it was exhibited at Corinth, (O). 83, 1,) and still later in Athens at the Panathenea; at Therion, where Herodotus had gone with a colony, it received its completeness. His other writings are lost; the life of Homer, which is attributed to him, is of a later age.*
The Athenian Thucydides,t son of Olorus of Cimon's family, (b. 470, d. 404!) disciple of Anaxagoras and Antiphon, and a profound statesman and general, gave to history another direction, by viewing it like a statesman, and subjecting to it the epic peculiarities. After he was dismissed from the army,(424)
* F. Schweighaeuser.
+ Fabr. b. g. ii. 721.
he devoted the remainder of his life to the composition of the History of the Peloponnesian War, which had a decided influence upon the future state of Greece. The materials he collected with great care and examination; in his work, in eight books, (as it seems, not quite finished) he relates the events of the first twenty-one years of war, (from Ol. 87, 1); it is uncommonly rich in ingenious notions and profound observations, and contains many masterly representations, as e. g. 2, 47; 3, 81; 4,9; 5,8; and 7, 69; his uncommon style, full of sense and profound ideas, and compressed even to obscurity, resembles much that of the sophists. The continuation of his work, by his contemporary Cratippus, is lost.
* Xenophont of Athens, (b. 450, d. 360) a favourite disciple of Socrates, rich in various branches of knowledge, and practised in the art to represent them in a pleasing and tasteful simplicity, composed, in happy and peaceful independence at his countryseat at Scillus, many works, partly of a historical, and partly of a philosophical and economical tenor. In all of them, sage tranquillity and respect for noble human nature, are predominant ; his practical, ethical spirit is chiefly conspicuous in bis bistorical representations, which gives him a distinct peculiarity. Among these, the “Cyropædia,” in eight books, claims the first place, although it can be considered only as an historical, political romance. In the “Anabasis,” or history of the campaign of the younger Cyrus, and the retreat of the ten thousand Grecians, in seven books, the most memorable event of Xenophon's commandership, embracing a space of a year and a half, (Ol. 94, 4) is described. The suspicion that the Syracusan Themistagenes composed this work after his style from the collections of Xenophon, is not sufficiently founded. The Greek History, in seven books, embraces forty-eight years of events important to the whole of Greece; it commences where Thucydides stopped, (Ol. 92, 2, to 104, 3) in some parts of which he is not quite satisfactory, and in others, he is too moralizing. Of his philosophical writings, the Memoirs of Socrates, in four books, are esteemed as the true accounts of a disciple who was wholly addicted to the principles of his master. Of his less important compositions, the Apology of Socrates and Agesilaus, have been considered as forgeries without sufficient ground. The authenticity of the compositions on the Attic and Spartan constitution, and on the finances of Athens is doubtful: besides these, we possess his treatises on cavalry, and the duties of their commander, also a treatise on hunting.
* Fabr. B. O. vol. iii. 1. + Mem. de l'Acad. des Incrip, yol, ii. p. 63 ; v. vi. p. 1; v. x. p. 678.
Ctesias of Cnidus, (400) physician at the Persian court, wrote the history of Persia and India in the oriental spirit, but as he made use of the fables and tales of his country, he does not always agree with the western writers; his extracts of Phatios, and some fragments have been preserved.
Philistus of Syracuse, (b. 431, d. 358) first introduced a rhetorical style into historical representation; his History of Sicily, in eleven books, are lost. Theopompus of Chios, (355) continued in bis Hellenica, (10 b.) the history of Thucydides, (01. 92, 2, to 96, 3) with many additions; wrote the history of Philip of Macedonia, (in 58 b.) and some fragments. Ephorus of Cumæ, (355) composed an universal history in thirty books, which was methodically arranged, was used by Diodor. Sic. and embraced the events from the return of the Heracleides to his time; some fragments of it have been preserved.
Geography retained for a long time among the Greeks a mythological appearance, and depended on hereditary views and epic traditions. In the philosophical schools of Anaximander and Pythagoras, (600 B. C.) a part of mathematical geography seems to have been cultivated hypothetically. With Hecatæus, Charon, Hellanicus and Damastes, we may suppose a pretty cultivated, but by no means a sufficiently verified national history. Herodotus inay be considered asthe father of geography and acquaintance with foreign nations, even with regard to their application to history; without any scientific, mathematical and astronomical culture, he communicated experience and observation, the conscientious truth and exactness of which are confirmed by all modern examinations, and justified against over-hasty doubts.
Scylax* of Caryanda, in Upper Asia, (456 or 390 ?) described a sea voyage in the Mediterranean to the Island Cerne. It is highly probable that many interpolations have been made by modern copyists.† We are acquainted with the geography of the renowned mathematician, Eudoxus of Cnidus, (379) from its quotations by latter writers. The Apologuef may be considered as the transition from the gnomic epopee to state eloquence. This symbolical language of general instruction, was formed in the debating and social circles, and the emblems of moral and philosophical truths to be discussed, were borrowed from nature, and especially from the animal empire, as being more familiar to men of low culture. The Apologue seems to have originated in India, § from whence it was derived to the
* Renell. Geog.
Fabr. B. G. vol. i. p. 618.