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B. C., or the locus of Pericles, Herodotus (then forty years old) is universally supposed to have read, which for him was publishing, his history. In this work two insinuations of the same kind occur: during the invasion of Darius the Mede (about 490 B. C.) the Oracle was charged with Medizing; and in the previous period of Pisistratus (about 555 B. C.) the Oracle had been almost convicted of Alcmœonidizing. The Oracle concerned was the same, namely, the Delphic, in all three cases. In the case of Darius, fear was the ruling passion; in the earlier case, a near self-interest, but not in a base sense selfish. The Alcmoonidæ, an Athenian house hostile to Pisistratus, being exceedingly rich, had engaged to rebuild the ruined temple of the Oracle; and had fulfilled their promise with a munificence outrunning the letter of their professions, particularly with regard to the quality of marble used in facing or
veneering" the front elevation. Now, these sententious and rather witty expressions gave wings and buoyancy to the public suspicions, so as to make them fly from one end of Greece to the other; and they continued in lively remembrance for centuries. Our answer we reserve until we have illustrated the other heads.
In the second case, namely, that of sceptical slights shown to the Oracle, there are some memorable precedents on record. Everybody knows the ridiculous stratagem of Croesus, the Lydian king, for trying the powers of the Oracle, by a monstrous culinary arrangement of pots and pans, known (as he fancied) only to himself. Generally the course of the Delphic Oracle under similar insults was
warmly to resent them. But Croesus, as a king, a foreigner, and a suitor of unexampled munificence, was privileged, especially because the ministers of the Delphic temple had doubtless found it easy to extract the secret by bribery from some one of the royal mission. A case, however, much more interesting, because arising between two leading states of Greece, and in the century subsequent to the ruder age of Croesus (who was about coëval with Pisistratus, 555 B. C.), is reported by Xenophon of the Lacedæmonians and Thebans. They concluded a treaty of peace without any communication, not so much as a civil notification to the Oracle; to μɛv Θεῳ ουδεν εκοινώσαντο, ὅπως ἡ ειςπνπ γενοιτο. to the god (the Delphic god) they made no communication at all as to the terms of the peace ; αυτοι δε εβελευοντο, but they personally pursued their negotiations in private. That this was a very extraordinary reach of presumption, is evident from the care of Xenophon in bringing it before his readers; it is probable, indeed, that neither of the high contracting parties had really acted in a spirit of religious indifference, though it is remarkable of the Spartans, that of all Greek tribes they were the most facile and numerous delinquents under all varieties of foreign temptations to revolt from their hereditary allegiance-a fact which measures the degree of unnatural constraint and tension which the Spartan usages involved; but in this case we rather account for the public outrage to religion and universal usage, by a strong political jealousy lest the provisions of the treaty should transpire prematurely amongst states adjacent to Boeotia.
Whatever, meantime, were the secret motive to this policy, it did not fail to shock all Greece profoundly. And, in a slighter degree, the same effect upon public feeling followed the act of Agesipolis, who, after obtaining an answer from the Oracle of Delphi, carried forward his suit to the more awfully ancient Oracle of Dodona; by way of trying, as he alleged, "whether the child agreed with its papa." These open expressions of distrust were generally condemned; and the irresistible proof that they were, lies in the fact that they led to no imitations. Even in a case mentioned by Herodotus, when a man had the audacity to found a colony ⚫ without seeking an oracular sanction, no precedent was established; though the journey to Delphi must often have been peculiarly inconvenient to the founders of colonies moving westwards from Greece; and the expenses of such a journey, with the subsequent offerings, could not but prove unseasonable at the moment when every drachma was most urgently needed. Charity begins at home, was a thought quite as likely to press upon a Pagan conscience, in those circumstances, as upon our modern Christian consciences under heavy taxation; yet, for all that, such was the regard to a pious inauguration of all colonial enterprises, that no one provision or pledge of prosperity was held equally indispensable by all parties to such hazardous speculations. The merest worldly foresight, indeed, to the most irreligious leader, would suggest this sanction as a necessity, under the following reason: - colonies the most enviably prosperous upon the whole, have yet had many hardships to contend with in their noviciate of
the first five years; were it only from the summer failure of water under circumstances of local ignorance, or from the casual failure of crops under imperfect arrangements of culture. Now, the one great qualification for wrestling strenuously with such difficult contingencies in solitary situations, is the spirit of cheerful hope; but, when any room had been left for apprehending a supernatural curse resting upon their efforts - equally in the most thoughtfully pious man and the most crazily superstitious all spirit of hope would be blighted at once; and the religious neglect would, even in a common human way, become its own certain executor, through mere depression of spirits and misgiving of expectations. Well, therefore, might Cicero in a tone of defiance demand, Quam vero Græcia coloniam misit in Etoliam, Ioniam, Asiam, Siciliam, Italiam, sine Pythio (the Delphic), aut Dodonæo, aut Hammonis oraculo?" An oracular sanction must be had, and from a leading oracle -the three mentioned by Cicero were the greatest; * and, if a minor oracle could have satisfied the inaugurating necessities of a regular colony, we may be sure that the Dorian states of the Peloponnesus, who had twenty-five decent oracles at home (that is, within the peninsula), would not so constantly have carried their money to Delphi. Nay, it is certain that even where the colonial counsels of the greater oracles seemed extravagant, though a large discretion was allowed to remonstrance, and even to very homely expostulations,
* To which at one time must be added, as of equal rank, the Oracle of the Branchides, in Asia Minor. But this had been destroyed by the Persians, in retaliation of the Athenian outrages at Sardis.
still, in the last resort, no doubts were felt that the oracle must be right. Brouwer, the Belgic scholar, who has so recently and so temperately treated these subjects (Histoire de la Civilisation Morale et Religieuse chez les Grecs: 6 tomes: Groningue1840), alleges a case (which, however, we do not remember to have met) where the client ventured to object:-"Mon roi Apollon, je crois que tu es fou." But cases are obvious which look this way, though not going so far as to charge lunacy upon the lord of prophetic vision. Battus, who was destined to be the eldest father of Cyrene, so memorable as the first ground of Greek intercourse with the African shore of the Mediterranean, never consulted the Delphic Oracle in reference to his eyes, which happened to be diseased, but that he was admonished to prepare for colonizing Libya.—“Grant me patience," would Battus reply; "here am I getting into years, and never do I consult the Oracle about my precious sight, but you, King Phoebus, begin your old yarn about Cyrene. Confound Cyrene! Nobody knows where it is. But, if you are serious, speak to my son - he's a likely young man, and worth a hundred of old rotten hulks, like myself." Battus was provoked in good earnest; and it is well known that the whole scheme went to sleep for several years, until King Phoebus sent in a gentle refresher to Battus and his islanders, in the shape of failing crops, pestilence, and his ordinary chastisements. The people were roused — the colony was founded — and, after utter failure, was again re-founded, and the results justified the Oracle. But, in all such cases, and where the remonstrances were least respectful,