463 GREECE-THE PEOPLE.
world against the notion of the extinction of the human soul. While it is true that the
Athenians on an important state occasion gave as a formal reason for the breaking of a
treaty the statement that it was no longer to their advantage to keep it, and while in
multiplied instances the pages of Grecian history are stained with the record of deeds
perfidious, it is also true that the disks of Socrates and Plato shine above the fogs of
this depravity with an immortal brightness.
Nor should there be failure to mention the redemptive virtue of Greek patriotism. It may
be 'true, as has been urged by some philanthropists, that those local attachments of man
to his own hill, his own province, his own country, which in the aggregate pass by the
name of patriotism, are in the nature of a vice which will be extinguished in the higher
developments of civilization. But such a proposition can not be established out of the
history of the past, nor is it likely to be established in the immediate future. In
general, the progress of mankind, as well as the average happiness of the world, has been
fostered and sustained by the devotion of patriotism; and even in the present condition of
the world, patriotism remains a fact and internationality a dream.
The Greeks were patriotic. Their land was of such a character as to nurture and stimulate
local attachment. There seems to be more principle involved in fighting for a hill than
for a brickyard. The human race fits to inequality of surface. It is difficult to be moved
from such a situation. Beauty, sublimity, variety, every element which draws forth from
man an affectionate regard for nature fired the Greek with enthusiasm for his country, his
altars, his hearthstones, his gods. The masterful struggles at Marathon, Plataea, and
Salamis are but the attestation of the vigor and invincible force of the patriotism of the
They loved liberty. Freedom had her birth among the hills of Greece. Here it was that
political rights were first debated, and the duties of government limited by statute.
There was something in the Greek mind which could not tolerate the exactions of arbitrary
authority. What they could not consent to they resisted. They quaffed freedom as from a
cup. Their patriotic, impulses led to the acceptance of the doctrine that the man existed
for the state; but the spirit of liberty made it dangerous to be the state. Hellas was an
arena. Contention, party strife, the conflict of opinion, the counter currents of
interest, the inebriety of the demagogue, the factious outcry, the excited assembly, the
uproar, the ostracism-all these were but the concomitants of that wonderful agitation in
the painful throes of which were born the liberties of the people. With the growth of the
Grecian commonwealths popular consent became more and more the necessary antecedent of
action. The voice of the newborn fact called political freedom cried in the streets. There
was a clamor, not wise but loud. It: was as a sound in the treetops-the voice of
democracy-a voice never to be stilled unto the shores of time and the ends of the earth.
In thought and action the Greeks were the best individualized of all the peoples of
antiquity. The nations of the East were masses. Egypt was a mass. Babylon was a mass.
Assyria, Media, Persia, Lydia-what were they but vast aggregates of humanity
undistinguishable in member or part? But the Greek was differentiated. He passed out of
the nebulous condition and became stellar. He counted one. Every other Greek counted one.
The units stood apart. The nebulae of antiquity broke into stars in the sky of Greece. A
new force was' felt henceforth among the nations of the earth. The lessons of
individuality and freedom reflected from almost every page of Grecian literature were
caught here and there by the brighter intellects of antiquity. The far- reaching gleam
shot its arrow of light even