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scarcely såve Aspasia from the fury of the people: wliose intimate friends, Anaxagoras the philosopher, and the immortal Phidias, were banished, only because they were his friends: and who himself was condemned to a fine. The comic poets, indeed, of his day, have given to the character of this great man such colouring as suited their object of exciting laughter or gratifying envy. But from their works, as from the paragraphs of our newspapers, history can receive no information, excepting of this undeniable truth, that the government, under which the poems and the paragraphs were published, was free, even to the borders of licentiousness.
But granting, against the evidence of facts through the whole history of his administration, and of the stronger evidence of his personal disposition and principles, that he was a tyrant, and that the works that embellish the scene of his ambition were the forced production of unlawful power, whence did Phidias, Mnesicles, Pancnus, and Parrhasius derive their talents: talents that have raised our ideas of the dignity and powers of the human species, infinitely above that standard, to which the victories of the most irresistible cona queror, or the laws of the most profound statesman of any age can exalt them. The tyranny of Pericles, though it might employ these talents, found them prepared and ready for use; and though they illustrated, they were not created by the energy of his administration. To enter into a disquisition on that form of
government, and on those manners, and laws, which nursed genius wherever it was found among the whole people;
which not only gave to the powers of the mind the utmost extent of culture, but to the body all the strength, beauty and grace of which human nature is capable; which held up to exertion every motive that could stimulate, and to excellence every honour that could gratify ambition; would be to compose a dissertation on the history of Greece from her earliest records, to the final loss of her liberties after the age of Philip of Macedon. But to explain the source of her eminence few words are sufficient: Greece was free: in Greece every citizen felt himself an important, and thought himself an essential, part of his republic. The only superiority which he was allowed to claim, was that which could be examined by his fellow-citizens, each of whom was his equal and his rival. The education of a Greek soon pointed out, among the various dispositions of his body and mind, that in which he was most likely to attain excellence. The path of glory was equally open to all: precept and example were every where at hand, and reward was as certain as success. The whole mass of energy excited by such a system, could not but produce such effects, as at this distance of time leave it doubtful whether in beholding the mutilated remains of Grecian art, astonishment, or admiration be the predominant sensation. The Apollo of Phidias, the Venus of Praxiteles, the
of Laocoon, are in fact monuments not more of the arts, than of the freedom of Greece; monuments which are not more perfect as examples to artists, than as lessons to statesmen, 'and as warnings to every republic to guard well the liberty that alone can produce such wonders.
The enthusiasm, which this subject excites, would carry me too far, were I to enter more fully into the proof that in Greece, perfection in the fine arts, freedom in government, and virtue in private life, were cotemporaneous. In the freedom of the Grecian states degenerating into anarchy--in their civil wars disgraced by cruelty and injustice—in their system of slavery-in their private lives, sometimes viciously voluptuous in their most popular leaders, some savagely coarse in their generals and philosophers--in their religion superstitious, intolerant and despotic, ample theme has been found for declamation against this wonderful people. But let those compare their public transactions of war and peace with the acts and system of any other nation, modern or ancient, free or monarchical, who from the comparison look for aid to the political system that they have undertaken to support:* all that I ask, and which cannot be denied, is, that Greece was free when the arts flourished, that they were dependent on that freedom, and that freedom derived from them much of her support and permanence.
Greece, indeed, at last, lost her freedom; she lost it when she lost her virtue; she lost it when she prostitu. ted the fine arts to the gratification of vice; when her music which, directed by the poet Tyrtæus, had con
* “ The history of Greece, by describing the incurable evils inherent in every form of republican policy, (polity) evinces the inestimable blessings resulting to liberty itself from the lawful dominion of hereditary kings, and the steady operation of well regulated monarchy." See Gillies's history of Greece, Dedication.
ducted the Lacedemonians to victory, sounded only to guide the steps of licentiousness; she lost it when her sculpture and painting, instead of immortalizing the forms of her heroes and philosophers, and rendering her gods adorable, became the sycophants of wealth and the slaves of sensuality: then, to use the language of Pliny, not less forcible than true, the arts ceased in Greece. For from the reign of Alexander to the extinction of taste in design, and excellence in execution, not a single name is recorded worthy of being placed at the side of those that graced the era of the Grecian republic.
In considering in the same point of view the arts which have decorated the freedom of Rome, or perpetuated the splendor of her monarchy, we have not the same information in detail which Pausanias, Plutarch, and Pliny, together with considerable remains of painting, sculpture, and architecture afford us on the arts of Greece. Unable, in the situation in which this discourse has been sketched, to refer to books, my memory does not supply me with the name of a single Roman artist, unless it be that of Fabius Pictor, the consul and general, whose taste and skill in painting appears not to have dishonoured his civic character. The names of several Grecian artists employed at Rome are on record. The book of Vitruvius, a Roman, is indeed the only one on architecture, which has survived the
of barbarians and the decay of time. But this work is of very inferior rank both in its literature, its taste, and its science, and is not now entirely intelligible. The only edifice which has been sometimes suspected to be of his
design, the amphitheatre of Verona, has no extraordi
We find scattered through the Roman writers notices of magnificent edifices erected prior to the age of Augustus, with which the capital abounded. Porticos ornamented with statues and erected purposely for the accommodation of the people, appear to have been those which contributed most to the splendor of
Of the erection of temples, however stupendous their size or their construction, I have said little. Their object, unless (as in the Roman basilicas) it is also municipal, is not necessarily connected with any form of government.
The freest and the most despotic systems have equally endeavoured to propitiate the deity by the splendor of their adoration. Even the magnificence of the Grecian teniples and the inimi. table art displayed in the statues of their gods, serves chiefly to preserve to this day the evidence of the perfection of the arts at the time of their erection. The fine arts did not in Greece, owe their advancement to their religion, in the sense in which that word is now used. All their gods appear to have been once men; heroes in the carnage of war, or benefactors of mankind in the arts of peace.
Those of the greatest antiquity were indeed obscured by time in a religious mist that magnified their appearance, and Jupiter had acquired powers and attributes in addition to his human weaknesses, passions, and vices, that raised him above the regions of the understanding, and surrounded him with the majesty of religious terror.