« AnteriorContinuar »
His ertraction. Employments of his youth. He engages in the
study of politics. His rivalry with Aristides: his love of glory.
assigns him the revenue of three cities. Danger incurred in his travels. Artaxerxes prepares an armament against Athens : Themistocles, that he may not be constrained to serve against his country, destroys himself. His children, and magnificent sepulchre at Magnesia.
HE have contributed to his distinction. He was the son of Neocles, an inferior citizen of Athens, of the ward of Phrear', and the tribe of Leontis. By his mother's side, he is said to have been illegitimate", according to the following verses:
Though born in Thrace, Abrotonon my name,
The great Themistocles. Yet Phanias writes, that the mother of Themistocles was of Caria, not of Thrace, and that her name was not Abrotonon but Euterpe. Neanthes mentions Halicarnassus, as the city to which she belonged. Be that as it may, when all the illegiti. mate youth assembled at Cynosarges", in the
This ward was so named from it's situation on the sea. shore near the Piræus, where was a well (Gr. Opeap) by the side of which any one, who prior to his transportation for homicide was charged with a fresh crime, underwent a new trial. (Pausan. i. 28.)*
? It was a law at Athens, that every child of a foreign woman should be deemed a bastard, though born in wedlock, and should consequently be incapable of inheriting his father's estate. (L.) They were also occasionally (as we shall see in the Life of Pericles, vol. II. p. 62.) excluded from the distributions inade to the legitimate citizens. *
In this place, according to Pausan. i. 19., were altars consecrated to Hercules, his wife Hebe, his mother Alcmena, and the partner of most of his labours Iölaus. It's etymology is given by Suidas. The object of the separation, here mentioned, must have been to preserve the purity of manners and dialect of the genuine youth from contamination.*
wrestling-ring dedicated to Hercules, without the gates (which was appointed for that purpose, because Hercules himself was not altogether of divine extraction, but partly spurious, as having a mortal for his mother) Themistocles found means to persuade some of the young noblemen to go to Cynosarges, and take their exercise with him. This was an ingenious contrivance to destroy the distinction between the illegitimate or aliens, and the legitimate, whose parents were both Athenians. It is plain, however, that he was related to the house of the Lycomedæ *; for Simonides informs us, that when a chapel of that family in the ward of Phlya, where the mysteries of Ceres used to be celebrated, was burned down by the barbarians, Themistocles rebuilt it, and adorned it with pictures.
It appears that, when a boy, he was full of spirit and fire, quick of apprehension, naturally inclined to bold attempts, and likely to make a great states
His hours of leisure and vacation he spent, not like other boys in idleness and play, but in inventing and composing declamations, the subjects of which were either the impeachment or defence of some of his school-fellows: so that his master would often say, “Boy, you will be nothing “ common or indifferent; you will either be a “ blessing, or a curse to the community.” As for moral philosophy and the polite arts, he learned them but slowly, and with little satisfaction; but instructions in political knowledge, and the administration of public affairs, he received with an attention above his years, because they suited his genius. When therefore long afterward he was ridiculed in a party, where free scope was given to raillery, by persons who wese considered as more accomplished, he was obliged to answer them with some asperity: “ 'Tis true I never learned how to “tune a harp, or handle a lute, but I know how to “ raise a small and inconsiderable city to glory and
* The Lycomedæ (so named from Lycus, the son of Pandion) were a family in Athens who, according to Pausanias, had the care of the sacrifices offered to Ceres; and in that chapel, which Theseus rebuilt, initiations and other mysteries were celebrated. (i. 22., iv. 1.) The ward Phlya was in the tribe Cecropis,
Stesimbrotus indeed informs us, that Themistocles studied natural philosophy, both under Anaxagoras and Melissus. But in this he errs against chronology 5. For when Pericles, who was much younger than Themistocles, besieged Samos, Metissus defended it; and Anaxagoras lived with Pericles. Those seem to deserve more attention, that represent Themistocles as a follower of Mnesiphilus the Phrearian; who was neither orator, nor natural philosopher, but a professor of what was then called wisdom", which consisted in a knowledge of the arts of government, and the practical part of political prudence. This was a sect formed upon the principles of Solon", and descending in succession from him; but when the science of government came to be mixed with forensic arts, and passed from action to mere words, its professors instead of sages were
Anaxagoras was born Ol. Ixx. 1.; Themistocles won the battle of Salamis Ol. lxxv. 1.; and Melissus defended Samos against Pericles Ol. Ixxxiv. 4. Themistocles therefore could neither study under Anaxagoras, who was only twenty years old when that general gained the battle of Salamis, nor yet under Melissus, who did not begin to flourish till 35 years after that battle. (L.) Others, however, say that Anaxagoras flourished at the period, above assigned for his birth, which would obviate Plutarch's objection, as far as he is concerned.*
• The first sages were in reality great politicians, who gave rules and precepts for the government of communities. Thales was the first, who carried his speculations into physics.
During the space of about a hundred, or a hundred and twenty years.
called sophists. Themistocles, however, was conversant in public business, when he attended the lectures of Mnesiphilus.
In the first sallies of youth, he was irregular and unsteady; as he followed his own disposition, without any moral restraints. He lived in extremes, and those extremes were often of the worst kind This he afterward admitted, and excused by observing that the wildest colts make the best horses, when they come to be properly broken and managed. The stories however, which some tell us, of his father's disinheriting him, and his mother's laying violent hands upon herself because she could not bear the thoughts of her son's infamy, seem to be quite fictitious. Others, on the contrary, say that his father, to dissuade him from accepting any public employment, showed him some old galleys that lay worn out and neglected on the sea-shore, just as the populace neglect their leaders, when they have no farther service for them.
Themistocles had an early and violent inclination for public business, and was so strongly smitten with the love of glory, and a desire of the
8. The Sophists were rather rhetoricians, than philosophers ; skilled in words, but superficial in knowledge, as Diogenes Laertius informs us.
Protagoras, who flourished about Ol. Ixxxiv., a little before the birth of Plato, was the first who had the appellation of Sophist. (Vid. Plat. Protag., and Diog. Laert. ix. 52.) But Socrates, who was more conversant in morality than in politics, physics, or rhetoric, and who was desirous to improve the world rather in practice than in theory, modestly took the name of Philosophos, i. e. 'a lover of wisdom,' and not that of Sophos, i. e. a wise man.'
9 Idomeneus says, that one morning Themistocles harnessed four naked courtesans in a chariot, and made them draw him across the Ceramicus in the sight of all the people there assembled ; and that, at a time when the Athenians were perfect strangers to debauchery, both in wine and women. But, if that vice was then so little known in Athens, how could there be found four prostitutes impudent enough to be so exposed?