Aesthetic Papers/The Dorian Measure, with a Modern Application
Art. VI.—THE DORIAN MEASURE, WITH A MODERN APPLICATION.
At this moment when so many nations seem to be waking up to re-assert their individuality, and, more than all, when the idea is started, that the object of Providence in societies is to produce unities of life, to which the individuals that compose them shall each contribute something, even as every limb and fibre of the physical system contributes to the wholeness of the body of a man,—it is wise to cast the eye back over the records of history, and ask whether there be any thing in the past which predicts such consummation.
The assertion of the Hebrew nation to an individuality which has ever been believed to be an especial object of Divine Providence, and the fact that this faith, developed in the patriarchs of the nation, and guarded by the system of religious rites which has rendered the name of Moses immortal, have resulted in accomplishing what it predicted,—rises immediately before every one's mind. But the case of the Hebrews, as it is commonly viewed, rather obscures than illustrates the general truth; for the very brilliancy of the illustration so dazzles the eyes which gaze upon it, that they do not see anywhere else in history the same truth illustrated; and thus it is looked upon rather as an exception than as an expression of a general principle on which nations may act.
There is, however, in antiquity another nation, whose idea was also something more than a blind instinct, but which, from the earliest times we hear of it, knew itself to be a moral being, and did not live by accident. This nation was the Dorians, whose antiquities and whole life have been faithfully set forth to modern times by Karl Otfried Müller, but which has not yet been considered sufficiently with reference to general edification in social science.
In order to be intelligible, and because all persons have not access to Müller's books, it is necessary to begin with some historical sketches, which are derived from several sources, and which pertain to other Grecian tribes, as well as to the Dorians.
Greece, in the earliest times of which we have tradition, was a congeries of little nations, independent of each other, but which as a whole were remarkable for one thing; viz. the peculiar relations to each other of their religious and civil institutions. These relations were very loose.
It would seem, from the tradition which appears under the form of the fabulous war of the Titans and Olympic Gods, that at first a sacerdotal government obtained over this region, but that, through the ambition of some talented younger son,—who led that rebellion which always must be smouldering among the subjects of absolute sway, when there is still any human life left to dream of freedom,—this sacerdotal government was overthrown, and a reign of talent and political power began.
The Jupiter of the Olympic dynasty was some Napoleon Bonaparte, who began a new regime made brilliant with the spoils of a past which had been cultivated, and carried the arts of life to great perfection, but which had no elasticity to receive the new floods of life poured forth from the prodigality of a Creator who, in every generation of man, goes forth anew. One does not desire to be altogether pragmatical in the analysis of these old myths. Doubtless, we can interpret the relations of the Titanic and Olympic dynasties as an allegory of the relations of ideas to each other, without the intervention of their historic manifestation; and it is unquestionable that Æschylus, and some other Greeks, so used them. But it is nevertheless not impossible that they are, at the same time, the magnificent drapery of historic facts.
All the stationary nations of antiquity, when we first know of them, are under sacerdotal governments. These governments have a genesis and history, that can be discerned, but which we will, just now, pass by. Their deadening influence, combined with that of an enervating climate and other circumstances, succeeded in checking the progressive life of most nations altogether. But this was not the uniform experience; and in one location especially, circumstances combined favorably, and genius escaped the strait-jacket of custom, and asserted itself. It was genius cultivated; and it had all the advantages of its cultivation.
To its aid came the multitude. Let us be pardoned if we analyze, even like Euhemerus himself. Briareus, the hundred-handed giant, who comes to the assistance of Jupiter, is invoked (so we learn from Homer) by Thetis. Is it the genius of commerce that has made the people rich, and a strong helpmeet, to serve the purposes of the young autocrat, who overthrows the old system, because it is devouring all that it generates? It is remarkable that afterwards is another war, inevitable in like circumstances, and repeated in all subsequent history,—the war of the conquering Olympics, with their instruments the giants. The people has been made use of, and has thereby learned its force: now it asks for participation of power, or perhaps only for a recognized existence as a living part of the body politic. In the Grecian history, Jupiter here triumphs again. He stands at that happy point between the cultivated conservative, and the fresh strong children of earth, who are his foster-brethren, that he has the advantage of both. He rules by fulness of natural life. He rules no less by cultivated genius; for Prometheus assisted him. He has wedded custom, the oldest daughter of Saturn; and, though on occasion he hangs her up and whips her, on the whole he honors her more than all his wives; and she is Juno, queen of Olympus.
We would not try, even if we were able, to trace out the story into all its details, to join on the old mythology with the plain prose of annals. We only mean to show that it is indicated in Grecian traditions, that, in remote antiquity, an immense revolution took place, which broke asunder some great social unity; and that of its fragments were the Greek nations which we see in remotest historical narrations, nestled, in their independence, now among the hills of Arcady, now on the Eurotas, now on the Alpheus, now about the Cyclopic architecture of Argos, now in the Olympic vales of Thessaly, and again on every hill-side and by every stream of Middle Greece; all being alike only in this, that all are independent of each other, all free from sacerdotal rule.
But their antagonism to one another and to the sacerdotal rule is not brutal or furious. They respect each other; they respect the old traditions. The Titans are still served. Ceres has her Eleusis; Neptune, his Isthmus and Ægæan recess; Pluto, his Pheræ; the Furies are worshipped at Athens. The peculiarity of Grecian freedom is, that it respects every thing, consecrates every thing that lives. It worships life as divine, wherever manifested. The very word theos, which represents something out, proves manifestation to the apprehension of man, to have been inseparable, in their opinion, from the idea of God; and their own active character and plastic genius received its impulse from this religious intuition. "As a man's god, so is he." Certainly, as a nation's god, so is it.
Some things were gained by those Titanic and Giant wars, which distinguished Greece, in all future time, from all other nations. The religion, henceforth, was an enacted poetry, and not a sacerdotal rule, as in Asia, or a state pageant and formula, as in Rome. They had diviners, soothsayers, and priests, elected for the year; but never a priesthood, in the full sense of the word. In the heroic ages, and on public occasions, the kings, and, in all times, fathers of families, conducted religious rites. The various worships also dwelt, side by side, with mutual respect. Each tribe, each city, had its own divinities. They were mutually tolerated, mutually reverenced. Hence, the human instincts and divine ideas which each divinity represented were thrown into a common stock. Hence, Homer made of the gods of the several tribes a community acting together; and explained the variations of man's mortal life, by their antagonisms and harmonies. Hence, Hesiod conceived the idea of a Theogony, in which we see a vain attempt to make into one consistent whole, what was but the imperfect reflex of the spiritual life of many nations not harmonized. This high influence of toleration came from the Dorians, who were pre-eminently the genius of Greece.
To that large multitude, whose idea of Dorians is derived from Plutarch's life of Lycurgus (a personage whom the researches of Müller make to be rather shadowy, certainly mythological), it will be a new idea that they were not mainly a military race, nor at all of a conquering spirit, like the Romans. Yet their forcible occupation of Peloponnesus in the age after the Trojan war, and the military attitude of Sparta during the period of recorded history, seem to have given a natural basis to such a view. The truth is, we have looked at Greece too much with eyes and minds that the Romans have pre-occupied. It is necessary to understand distinctly, that Greece, at least Dorian Greece, was, in most important respects, very different from Rome. Both nations had organic genius, but the Greeks only the artistic-organic. The Romans organized brute force, together with the moral force of the Sabines, the cunning of the commercial colonies of Magna Græcia, and the formal stateliness of a sacerdotal Etruria; forming a compound whole, which expressed one element of human nature,—that which commands and obeys. On the other hand, the Greeks organized the harvest of their sensibilities into ideal forms. It was not strength merely or mainly which they sought as the highest good, but beauty, order, which might be expressed by a building, a statue, a painting, a procession, a festival, and, more fully still, by the body politic.
But what is order? It surely is not mere subjection. It means subordination according to a true, which is ever, if largely enough apprehended, a beautiful idea. It is an arrangement around a centre. It is a disposition of elements, such that the weak may borrow of the strong, and the strong be adorned. Thus their aim in politics was far other than to exhibit the right of the strongest. It was to have a society perfectly organized to express the beauty of the most beautiful.
The genesis of the Dorians is yet undiscovered. Like their god Apollo, they are the children of the creative wisdom and mystery. That festival of Apollo, which commemorates his return from the Hyperboræans, is possibly the mythic history of their origin,—too obscure, perhaps too fragmentary, to be clearly elucidated. Sometimes it seems as if they must have come from the foot of the Himmelaya mountains, and that Apollo and the Indian Heri are the same. Other researches, for instance those of Professor Henne, would lead us to believe that they were the emigrating life of the ancient nation, which he believes, and endeavors to prove, had its seat, before history began, in Europe. In favor of this, we may remark that the Hyperboræan procession came from the North-west, passing from the Scythians through a chain of nations on the coast of the Adriatic, by Dodona, through Thessaly, Eubœa, and the Island of Tenos, accompanied with flutes and pipes to Delos.
Another argument for the Dorians being of European origin is, that their character is in strong antagonism to the Asiatic.
But we leave these curious and interesting inquiries for the present, to record what Müller has ascertained. The Dorians, says this indefatigable antiquarian, are first known at the foot of Mount Olympus. The oldest known temple of Apollo was in the Vale of Tempe. Thence they spread in colonies by sea, along the eastern shores of the Archipelago, among the islands, into Crete especially, where they established themselves long before the Trojan war. Their whereabout is always traceable by temples of Apollo. These temples were their centres of artistic cultivation. Apollo is always the god of music, and of all elegant exercises, whether of mind or body, but especially of those of mind.
Within the borders of the mainland, we do not find that the Dorians advanced much, till after the Trojan war. To the early Ionian Greeks, Apollo was a stranger. Homer does not profess to understand his nature, or betray any insight into it. One sees occasionally the mythical origin of Homer's Jupiter. He is generally an autocratic principle, founding his action on natural, self-derived superiority: his will is law, because it has present ascendancy, and is an entity not to be disputed. On the other hand, he is sometimes obviously the ether, and Juno the atmosphere, as in the beautiful episode near the end of Book xiv. where the flowers of earth spring into being on their embrace. Homer's Mars, too, is the blind, uncultured instinct of violence; what the phrenologists call destructiveness. He makes him the war-god of the Trojans, whose instinctive courage he could not deny; reserving Minerva, the art and science of war, as the war-god of the Greeks. There is not a god or goddess, except Apollo, that Homer does not show he understood, and who is not therefore a plaything in his hands. But Apollo comes on the stage, "like night:" he is terrible; he deals mysterious death. Whatever success or movement of the Trojans Homer cannot account for on any natural principle or human instinct, Apollo brings about arbitrarily; and this prevails throughout the "Iliad." Homer was not a Dorian to worship Apollo intelligently; but he was an Ionian, and his candid, open nature did not refuse to see the magnificence and power which was manifested in his name, or to do a certain homage to his divinity which he pays to no other.
Apollo is sometimes confounded with Helius by later Grecian poets; and Homer, in making him the author of the Pestilence, may have had a suggestion of the kind. But nothing is proved more clearly by K. O. Müller, than that the Apollo of the Dorians was not the sun, although the sun's rays are an apt symbol of the genius that radiates beauty everywhere.
Homer's mode of treating Apollo is a testimony to the power of the Dorians of his day. His mode of representing the Cretans and Lycians is another proof of their acknowledged superiority in cultivation; for it was the Dorian colonies that civilized Crete and Lycia. Sarpedon, the golden-mailed son of Jupiter from Lycia, and Idomeneus, the son of the wise Minos, both testify to the same general fact.
The Dorians appear to us, from the first, as a highly cultivated race. Lycurgus did not create the cultivation of the Dorians. Indeed it is probable, that in Sparta the breadth and beauty of this cultivation were injured, in order to concentrate strength, and intensify the individuality of the race, which became more and more precious to the wise, as they compared themselves with other races.
After the Trojan war, the Dorians of Thessaly moved southward, and at last crossed the gulf at Naupactus, and spread over Peloponnesus. K. O. Müller thinks only about twenty thousand crossed at Naupactus, and that they never were in great numerical force. Yet they overturned Peloponnesus. Their mode of warfare was to fortify themselves in some place, and make excursions round. As soon as possible, they built temples to Apollo, and won the people by their superior cultivation. In the course of time, they won Laconia entirely: Messenia was a later conquest. The Ionians fled before them to Attica, and across the Archipelago; while the Achæans of Sparta and Argos retreated to the northern shores, just deserted by the Ionians. But it was by moral rather than physical force, that they took the precedence of all other races in Peloponnesus. Their conquering rule was like no other on historical record. They are the only conquering people who have benefited, by intention and in fact, the nations they conquered. They did give them such freedom as to incorporate them among themselves.
The Dorian rule was freedom by means of law. Their form of government was not at first sight democratical; but neither could it ever, like the Athenian democracy, become an unprincipled tyranny. The Dorians governed themselves, as well as others, by law and religion. Their king was an occasional officer. Hence the moral superiority of the Spartans was always allowed. Hence they were always appealed to by nations oppressed by external or internal tyrants. Let us therefore examine their religion.
The gods of this race were Apollo and Diana, with their parents, Jupiter and Latona. The parents, however, remain in the background: Hesiod, himself a Dorian, makes
"The azure-robed Latona, ever mild,
Gracious to man and to immortal gods,—
Gentlest of all within the Olympian courts,"
the third wife of Jove, next after Metis and Themis. But in all he says, there is nothing but her name which throws any light upon her nature. Leto (Latona) means mystery; and Apollo and Diana are the children of mystery, whether we consider the unexplained origin of the Dorians, or the nature of the principles, Genius and Chastity, which they embody.
It is noticeable, that the Dorian Diana, who must be discriminated from Diana of Ephesus,—a very different divinity—and also from Diana of Arcadia, though in later times they were confounded, is the feminine of Apollo, and nothing else. As he is the severity of intellect, she is the severity of morals. Here the Dorian respect for woman, which is brought out in strong relief by K. O. Müller in his history of Grecian literature, as well as in his account of the Dorian institutions, has its highest expression. Apollo and Diana are twins, and have equal dignity, united by sympathy of nature and sameness of birth; and the latter not at all displaying any subordination to the former. Again, we may remark that Apollo, with all his power and splendor and autocratic character, is never represented as the Supreme God. He tells the mind of his father, Jupiter. Do we not see here the shadow of God and the Word of God? The Dorian Jupiter is never at all the Ionian Jupiter described by Homer, but is absolute, un-manifest, except by the oracle and action of his son. This oracle and action betray the finiteness inseparable from manifestation; but, nevertheless, there is a sublimity about Apollo which we find nowhere else in the Greek heaven. He is no instinct, no power of external nature personified. He is nothing less than the moral and intellectual harmony of the universe. In his action we find the practical religion of the Dorians. He is beautiful: his recreation is music. He leads the Muses with his harp in hand, and even mingles in the dance. He is resplendent; where he is, darkness cannot be: his inevitable arrow destroys deformity. Excellence is his prerogative: whoever contends with him is worsted and dies. His first great oracle commands to man self-consciousness. It is man's prerogative and duty to act, not blindly, but in the light of the past and the future.
There is trace in Greece, as everywhere else in the ancient world, of a worship of nature, which grovelled in the material slime. This appears in the mythology as monsters, especially as serpents which some hero, personifying or concentrating in himself the genius of some Grecian tribe, destroys. Perhaps one hideous form of earth-worship had its seat, in very early times, at Delphusa and Delphi, and was expelled thence by a Dorian colony, who settled there, and built the temple of Apollo. But the most important part of the worship was not a commemoration of historical facts, but the expression of an idea; which, though it has not, in the Apollonic religion, the complete expression that it after wards found in the facts of the Christian history, was no less deep than the central idea of Christianity.
Apollo kills the Pythoness by the necessity of his nature. It is his virtue. But his virtue is a crime that must be expiated. No sooner is the deed done, than, by a necessity as irresistible as that by which he did it, he flies from the scene of the slaughter toward the old Vale of Tempe for purification. On the way occurs the expiation. For eight years, he serves Admetus; and Müller has demonstrated, that Admetus is but a title of Pluto, and that Pheræ was from the earliest times a spot where the infernal deities were worshipped. Having expiated, he goes on to Tempe, and breaks the bough of peace from the laurel groves that encompass the temple, and, returning to Delphi, lays it on the altar.
The interpretation of this fable is awful. Life, then, is sacred: even the all-divine Son of God, if he violate it in its lowest, most degraded manifestation, must expiate the deed afterwards by years of activity in the service of Death. The best life pays this tribute, and thus acknowledges a certain equality before God with its opposite; for even a bad life has divine right, inasmuch as it is. "To be is respectable." The expiation, indeed, is measured, and comes to an end; and Apollo is interpreter of God for evermore, and king, giving a death which does not wound or pain its recipient,—euthanasia, if not immortality. Here, indeed, the symbol falls, both in form and meaning, below the Christian symbol; which makes the Resurrection swallow up, and annihilate with its glory, the Crucifixion. Yet it is something, that the ancient story intimates the cheering truth. The whole thing is fainter in the Grecian form, because addressed to a nation, and not to humanity,—to a nation at a peculiar stage of culture, and not to humanity through countless ages. Apollo may be held as the Word of God to a tribe of ideal Greeks, whose life can be counted by centuries. Christ is the Word of God to humanity, thinking and Buffering all over the globe and through all time, and whose influences take hold of eternity.
But we should not omit to speak here of the fable of Apollo's rescuing Alcestis from Pluto, on his return from Tempe towards Delphi, after his purification. A later fable, which Euripides has immortalized (perhaps originated), makes Hercules the rescuer of Alcestis. This may have been one of the many interchanges of names which took place with respect to Hercules, and that tribe of the Dorians called Heracleides; and which led to the misapprehension, very early in Grecian history, that the children of Hercules were a component part of the Dorian nation, and that the Dorian invasion of Southern Greece was the return of these children to the land of their fathers. K. O. Müller has entirely cleared up this subject. But the point of interest for us is, that this rescue of Alcestis from death was, in either form, a Dorian fable. Müller says there is also trace of a fable of the death of Apollo.
That the fable of Apollo's killing the Pythoness, and expiating it, and becoming purified, was the heart and marrow of the religion of the Dorians, is evident from the fact, that a dramatic representation of it, on a theatre stretching from Delphi to the Vale of Tempe, was the grand mass of the worship. Once in a certain number of years, the death of the Pythoness was enacted in pantomime by a beautiful boy, representing Apollo. Having discharged his arrow, he fled away, along a road always kept in order by the Grecian nations for the express purpose; and, when he arrived at Pheræ, he went through certain pantomimes which represented servitude. This done, he proceeded on the road to Tempe, where he passed the night, and returned next morning with the sacred bough, to break his fast at Pherae. Thence he proceeded back to Delphi, and was met by processions from the sacred city, shouting Io Pæan; and a festival celebrated the laying of the bough upon the altar.
The importance of this great act of worship is apt to be overlooked, especially by England Old and New, who, on account of their Puritan pre-occupations, are not accustomed to look for important results from a form of worship whose festive air and entertaining character give it, in their eyes, the trifling tone of mere amusement. But these nations of the South of Europe are merely not sanctimonious. They live seriously, while they dress the festival of life. The symbolic language of their festivals harmonizes with the symbolic language of nature. They see God in the sunshine and the flowers, rather than in the storm and wilderness. It is utterly impossible for any persons to understand Greece, who persist in believing that Greek festivals and processions were mere amusements, and had not the higher aim and effect of awakening all human energies, by the expression of serious ideas. Every thing in Greece became artistic, and overflowed with beauty, precisely because the people were so intellectual, they caught, and were continually expressing symbolically, the grand ideas of order and harmony which pervade the universe. They neglected nothing, and trifled about nothing, because, by the wayside or the hearthstone, alone as well as in company, they recognized that "the gods were there." See Hesiod, in his "Works and Days," where he gives the minutest directions about the small moralities of paring nails, and other decencies, and sanctions his counsels by these very words.
The worship of Apollo was not the only worship of Greece, but it was the only national worship of the Dorians; and the predominance of the Dorians in Greece, and their influence over all the other tribes, direct or indirect, placed it in the forefront; and at last the shrine of Delphi seems to have concentrated all religious feeling into itself.
Let us compare this Dorian religion with the other Grecian religions.
Each tribe seems to have had its peculiar god. This god, when examined and analyzed, gives us the genius of the people. They are instincts, which characterized the different tribes, personified. The names only came from foreign lands. Thus Pan, in Egypt, signifies the Supreme God,—nature personified. In Arcadia, the Pelasgic genius worshipped the beauty and music of the surface of nature; and therefore their Pan, whose name they took from the Egyptians that early settled in Peloponnesus, together with the association of God of nature, became a perfect expression of Pelasgic genius,—
"Who, frisking it, ran
O'er woody cragg'd Pisa, in fun
And frolic and laughter,
With skipping nymphs after,
Shouting out, 'Pan, Pan.'
Pan, merry musical Pan,
Piping o'er mountain-tops,
Rough-headed, shaggy, and rusty like tan;
Dancing, where'er the goats crop,
The precipice round,
And his hoofs strike the ground
With their musical clop-clop.
Pan is the lord of the hills,
With their summits all covered with snow;
Pan is lord of the brooks, of the rivers, and rills,
That murmur in thickets below;
There he saunters along,
And listens their song,
And bends his shagg'd ears as they flow.
Where the goats seem to hang in the air,
And the cliffs touch the clouds with their jags,
How he hurries and leaps, now here and now there,
And skips o er the white shining crags;
And, quick to descry
With his keen-searching eye,
Bounds after the swift-footed stags!
Pan drives before him the flocks,
To shades of cool caverns he takes
And gathers them round him, and, under deep rocks,
Of the reeds a new instrument makes;
And with out-piping lips
Blows into their tips,
And the spirit of melody wakes."
The Earth was worshipped under the name of Diana at Ephesus and in Arcadia, although no trace of the Dorian goddess of chastity is to be found in the character or the worship of these divinities. They were, in fact, the manifestations, in personal form, of the fecundating principle. In Syria and other places, where their worship was fully developed, their festivals were the gala of licentious passion; and, if in Greece such excesses were checked, it can be ascribed to no cause but that of the restraining presence of the Dorian Apollo, and the superior character of his votaries. The darkness fled before the light, and "concious Law is King of kings."Again, the Egyptian Hermes, the expression of all severe and awful wisdom, becomes, among the mercenary, thrifty, shifty Arcadians, the Mercury, who is the messenger of the gods, the patron of thieves, the ready go-between, the "brain in the hand." There is not in Grecian literature or art any thing that suggests more to the historic investigator of such subjects than the Homeric hymn to Mercury, where Apollo is made to say, in a transport of gratitude, because Mercury has given to him the lyre,—
"Now, since thou hast, although so very small,
Science of arts so glorious, that I swear
(And let this cornel javelin, keen and tall,
Witness between us what I promise here)
That I will lead thee to the Olympian hall,
Honored and mighty, with thy mother dear;
And many glorious gifts in joy will give thee,
And even at the end will not deceive thee."
We might go through all the names of the mythology, and we shall still find that always the Grecian gods are some one elemental power of nature or of mind personified and worshipped by the people, in whom that power of mind, or around whom that power of nature, obtained. But Apollo was the manifestation of a Triune God. Apollo was never conceived, without a father to give him wisdom and the oracle, and without an object towards whom the activity of his love or hate is manifested.
This spiritual superiority of the Apollonic religion explains its predominance over all the other worships, which it finally swallowed up. Other oracles died out, even that of Dodonæan Jupiter; but Delphi ever became greater. This triumph of the religion of Apollo is a lesson to sectarian Christendom. It triumphed by tolerance; it conquered by accepting.
This fact is most remarkably displayed in its relations with the worship of Bacchus. Nothing could be more antipodal than the genius of these two worships. Bacchus concentrated the spirit of the earth-worships. His name and origin were Asiatic, and his worship had all the characteristics of Asiatic worship. It was the exciting, even to frenzy, of that elemental, mysterious, vital power, which is not idea, but seems its polar basis of life, the source of the substance that we are "without form, and void." The Asiatics always seem to regard this fury as divinity in its purest form. The Dorians opposed to Bacchus, Apollo, who, by the law which he is, arranges in order this blind force. Hence, the characteristic difference of Asiatic and Dorian worship. With the Asiatics, it consisted in a wild excitement of nervous energy, precluding all intellection and all reflection. The Bacchantes, as described by Euripides, could not see with their eyes what they were doing, much less understand with their mind. Agave tears her own son Pentheus limb from limb, while she is filled with the god, and wakes up afterwards to the horrid truth, but with no misgivings of conscience.
Moderation, balance, on the other hand, was the characteristic of the worshipper of Apollo. He was joyous, but calm; everything in balance. Self-possession was his beatification. He saw every thing around him in the pure light of truth and beauty. Hence the character of Dorian music. It was an old saying, that "Apollo hated the sound of the flute," and the lyre was his instrument. Their music must compose, clear the mind, soothe and calm the spirits; not touch and excite the passions.
From a passage in Homer, the speech of Diomede, in Book v. we have reason to infer, that, before his time, there had been an attempt in Thessaly to introduce the worship of Bacchus; and the fundamental antagonism of the two worships is indicated by Lycurgus's armed opposition to it. It is intimated, that the disorder of the worshippers disgusted him. But so reverent are the Greeks, that his subsequent blindness was referred to the anger of the insulted god. In Euripides tragedy, we see the difficulty of introducing the worship of Bacchus into Thebes, by Pentheus's opposition, which seems to be defended by reason and τὸ πρέπον, peculiar to the Greeks; but here the old and wise in experience, represented by Cadmus and Tiresias, are reverent of the new manifestation; and the self-respecting worshipper of the god who alone elevates the human mind to full self-consciousness, because he is the uncompromising opposer, becomes the victim of Bacchus.
The new worship was at last accepted, because it was seen to cover undeniable facts of nature. As in the Eumenides, the battle was admitted to be a drawn one. There is antagonism in life. Life indeed exists only by antagonism, being subjective-objective. So each party of the last-mentioned magnificent drama maintains its position. The intellectual power, which contemplates only the idea, is represented by Apollo; the unmeasured, immeasurable sensibility, in which inhere the passions, is represented by the Furies; and the man Orestes is justified by the free grace of Minerva, who represents the compromise of the Creator of man, in accepting into fellowship with himself the human being, whose very existence is a compromise between the finite and infinite.
Are we surprised to meet these great ideas in heathen Greece? But it cannot be denied that here they are; conceived, indeed, only by the highest mind of his time, of almost any time, and probably not realized very widely; yet they may have been understood more widely than we think. And why should we doubt? It is the Christian's formula, if not his faith, that "His goings forth were of old," and that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." Truth has no age; and the mind, at a certain point of elevation, must necessarily find itself in it. To that elevation, no condition is so indispensable as an atmosphere of tolerance.
It may be observed, that Æschylus was not a Dorian. In his time, however, the Dorian culture had spread over Greece; and Æschylus was a Pythagorean, and Pythagoreanism was the philosophic expression of the Dorian religion; for, though Pythagoras was a Samian by birth, he was a Dorian by culture, and lived in the Dorian cities of Magna Græcia, where he endeavored to realize in political institutions the Dorian idea, to which his plans did, in some respects, do more complete justice than the Spartan institutions ascribed to Lycurgus.
But to return: by accepting with reverence and liberality the worship of Bacchus, Apollo modified it. No stronger proof can be given of this than the very fact, that the feasts of Bacchus were celebrated in Athens by the tragic drama, which, with both Æschylus and Sophocles, was consecrated, as it were, to the worship of Apollo. Before that era, all the excesses of the Bacchic orgies had yielded to the superior genius of the Dorian worship. Apollo is the god of Œdipus and his ill-fated family, of Cassandra, of Orestes; and, if he does not appear by name in the "Prometheus," yet nowhere is that depth of idea which belonged to his worship more manifest.
Nor is this the only fraternization of Apollo with the older gods of Greece, which is on record.
In Arcadia there was, on one side of the hill of Cyllene, an old temple of Mercury; and, on the other side of the same hill, the Dorians afterwards erected a temple to Apollo. In the Homeric hymn to Mercury, mentioned above, we have a mythical story, whose meaning seems to be a commemoration of the reconciliation of the two worships. This hymn is a masterpiece of characterization and humor, and evidently of Dorian origin; for the Dorian god is represented altogether as the most divine. Apollo's majestic honesty and simplicity are finely contrasted with Mercury's subtlety and frisky cunning. It was just the contrast of the Dorian and the Arcadian character. But Mercury supplies the instrument by which the great Apollo may express himself; and this gift becomes the bond of union. So the Peloponnesians were the plastic material which supplied to the Dorian intellectual power the means of manifesting itself.
The Dorians may be considered the masculine principle of Greece, and the other Greeks the feminine. K. O. Müller demonstrates, that the germ of comedy, the germ of tragedy, the germ of architecture and of art generally, always came from the intellectual Dorians; but the seed was thrown into the rich soil of Ionian sensibility, Pelasgian liveliness of apprehension, Achæan subtlety of application; and hence the rich harvest of art in all its kinds. Either race, disconnected with the other, would have been comparatively sterile. In Sparta, where there was most isolation, most repugnance to social union with the other states, there was least flowering out. There, however, was most strength in the root, though the least luxuriance in the branches. In Sparta the race vies with the Hebrew, in that self-springing power which keeps a people individual, and makes it more forcible to give than to receive influences. Like the Hebrew race, it has never been lost. To use the eloquent words of John Müller, in the close of his chapter on Lacedemon, in his "Universal History," vol. i.:—"What an ascendency must that lawgiver have possessed who knew how to persuade the opulent of his country to an equal division of their lands, and to the abolition of money; who changed a whole republic into a single family, and gave to a corrupt populace a love for their country, capable of producing such wonderful effects; who infused into a multitude a degree of valor which never yielded even on the calamitous day of Leuctra, and such mutual forbearance that no civil war broke out among them during seven hundred years, even after the decline of manners; who formed an army which never inquired how strong the enemy was, but only where he was to be found; youth full of obedience and respect for their elders, and at the same time firmly resolved to conquer or die for the liberty of Sparta; old men who, after the field of Leuctra, with only one hundred young soldiers, arrested the victorious enemy in his impetuous career; women who never repined when their sons fell for their country, but bitterly wept when they were not ashamed to survive their leader and fellow-soldiers; and, lastly, a nation eloquent in short proverbs and often in silence, in whom two thousand five hundred years have not wholly extinguished the genius of liberty!
"For after the republic, after Lacedemon itself had perished, neither the Roman power nor the turbulent and degrading sway of the Byzantine monarchy, nor the arms of the Ottoman Turks, have been able wholly to subdue the citizens of Lycurgus. The bravest among them, as the son of Agesilaus long ago counselled them, left their falling country, and fled with their wives and children to the mountains. After they had lost, all, they still saved themselves; and often they descend from the heights of Taygetus, to reap the fields which their more timid countrymen have sown for the oppressor. They still dwell in freedom on the mountains of Maina, under two chiefs, fearless of the Janissaries. . . . . The Mainottes themselves are strong, warlike men, and rival their forefathers of Lacedemon."
Whence came the life of this wondrous people but from their deep theology of a Triune God, their justification by faith, and their sanctification by life? Even from the beginning, as we have seen, Apollo confesses that he is not the Absolute; for, when he touches the house of life, he suffers re-action. The sacredness of a life which neither evil nor deformity could quench, Apollo acknowledges by service of Pluto. His own superior divinity is manifested, in that he never ceases to act and assert himself, under whatever penalty.
Let the self-righteous of modern time, who may not learn of Christ, meditate this lesson promulgated in Greece, and which was one of the formative or creative principles of the Dorian culture and character. The Greeks dared to look the prime difficulty, the great mystery of life, in the face, and reverently to bow before it. It is good for man to shun evil and do good; nay, it is incumbent on him to resist evil. But he must pay the penalty of contact. The Greek was inspired by Apollo to go up man-like, and act, with eyes wide open to the expiation that was to follow; and which, in its turn, he also suffered man-like, without subterfuge or meaching. There are amongst us a people of sickly morality, who never do any thing—for fear of doing wrong.
"O God! forgive our crimes:
Forgive our virtues too, those lesser crimes,
Half converts to the right!"
Apollo may teach such, who will not listen to the same lesson given by Christ, in a form so sublime that its meaning is not dreamed of by thousands who pride themselves on the name of Christian, but do not understand as much of the doctrine as is expressed by the Dorian Apollo. Life is antagonism; action and re-action. Will you not act, for fear of the re-action? You can then choose but to die, or what is worse,—life in death. The Muses will never follow you.
But the Dorian religion was not a mere symbolic representation, an acknowledged theory of the difficulty of life. It was eminently practical. It enjoined on all its votaries personal culture. These people were pious. Their god was in all their thoughts. They lived upon the oracle. It was to them a living guidance, and wise were its utterances. Indeed, all wisdom was included prophetically in the motto on the temple of Delphi. A temple of Apollo, which was a school of arts and sciences, was the nucleus, the heart of every Dorian community. Did they found a colony? It was always at Apollo's command they went forth, and his temple was their first structure. The last myth was of the nymph Cyrene, carried off by Apollo into Africa. The life of the pious Dorian was like his god's,—the destruction of the ugly Pythoness, and a manly endurance; nay, a joyful expiation of all the inevitable consequences of this lofty action, amid the disturbing influences of time and circumstance. He was moderate and severe to himself, but never ascetic: that would not have been moderate. His recreation was music. Education itself was called by the Dorians, learning music. They did not confine this to learning accords of sound; but it was a study of the harmonies of man within himself, with the state, and with nature.
Hence the characteristics of the Dorian politics.
According to Müller, the Dorians did not consider the state merely or mainly "an institution for protecting the persons and property of the individuals contained in it;" but its essence was, that, "by a recognition of the same opinions and principles, and the direction of actions to the same ends, the whole body became as it were one moral agent." Again he says, "Whereas, in modern times, that which commonly receives the name of liberty consists in having the fewest possible claims from the community; or, in other words, in dissolving the social union to the greatest degree possible, as far as the individual is concerned; the greatest freedom of the Spartan, as well as of the Greeks in general, was to be a living member of the body of the state. What the Dorians endeavored to obtain, as a state, was good order (κόσμος), the regular combination of different elements. A fundamental principle of this race is found in the expression of king Archidamus, recorded by Thucydides, that it is most honorable, and at the same time most secure, for many persons to show themselves obedient to the same order (κόσμος). Thus this significant word expresses the spirit of the Dorian government, as well as of the Dorian music and philosophy, which was the Pythagorean system. Therefore, the supreme magistrate among the Cretans was called κόσμος; among the Epizephyrean Locrians, κόσμοπολις." Again, "In the genuine Doric form of government, there were certain predominant ideas which were peculiar to that race, and were also expressed in the worship of Apollo, viz. those of harmony and order, τὸ εὔκοσμον;of self-control and moderation, σωφροσύνη; and of manly virtue, ἀρετή. Accordingly, the constitution was formed for the education as well of the old as the young; and, in a Doric state, education was upon the whole a subject of greater importance than government. And this is the reason that all attempts to explain the legislation of Lycurgus, from partial views and considerations, have necessarily failed. It was soon perceived, that external happiness and enjoyment were not the aim of these institutions; but then it was thought, with Aristotle, that every thing could be traced to the desire of making the Spartans courageous warriors, and Sparta a dominant and conquering state; whereas the fact is, that Sparta was hardly ever known to seek occasion for a war, or to follow up a victory: and, during the whole of her flourishing period (i.e. from about the fiftieth Olympiad to the battle of Leuctra), she did not make a single conquest by which her territory was enlarged. In fine, the Doric state was a body of men acknowledging one strict principle of order, and one unalterable rule of manners; and so subjecting themselves to this system, that scarcely any thing was unfettered by it, but every action was influenced and regulated by the recognized principles."
Considering the prevalent ignorance, even misconception, of the whole political and social state of the Dorians, one is tempted to go into particulars, and copy out the large proportion of K. O. Müller's second volume, which shows so satisfactorily that the aristocracy of these states was not an aristocracy of persons, but of principles; that the people were the most moderate, gentle, humane, modest of the Greeks; the least overbearing, whether in the relations of governor with governed, master with servant, conquering with conquered race, or paramount state in the confederacy. Their principle was respect and justice to the inferior, protection to the weak, and true organization for life. With the rich humor and pure mirthfulness known only to the serious and chaste, they were severe without austerity; simple in private life, that they might be splendid in all that pertained to religious rites and public duties; with pure and dignified relations of friendship, realized on both sides, by husbands and wives, by the unmarried of both sexes, and by the old and the young. Virtue, in the strict sense of the word, seems never to have pervaded any society, ancient or modern, so completely as it did the Dorian. For, if friendship—and not philanthropy, or the charity which is founded on the Christian's faith and hope—was their highest social characteristic, yet, on the other hand, must be subtracted from their condition those depths of spiritual vice and social wrong, to which the eternities, unfolded by the same hope and faith, have opened the passions of Christendom.
But the question for us is, whether, on the new platform upon which Christendom finds itself, now that the spiritual future has descended as it were into human life, there may not be found a harmony corresponding to the Dorian measure;—whether there may not be a social organization which does as much justice to the Christian religion and philosophy, as the Dorian state did to Apollo. We have seen, that there is a correspondence, point by point, between Apollo and Christ. Christ attacked sin, as Apollo attacked the Pythoness; and, in the contest, the serpent bruised his heel. Christ "descended into hell," as Apollo served Admetus. The humiliation was temporary; the triumph proved the God. It is the only Pagan religion which can be brought into any comparison with Christianity, because it is the only one which involves the contemplation of man in an objective relation with Divinity; and its inferiority consists, not in its leaving out the antagonism,—rather the triplicity of life; for it did not do this,—but in its not estimating the infinite reach of passion. The Dorians do not represent, all of humanity: they were of an exceptional organization. Apollo was not "tempted in all points, like as we are." He was not all of God, and not all of man. He was only so much of God as the universe, exclusive of passion, manifests; and so much of man as may be comprehended in the esthetic element. But he was enough of God and of man, that his chosen people should exhibit a rounded organization in their political and social condition, and so become a type of that future harmony of Christendom, when "the lion shall lie down with the lamb, and a young child shall lead them."
With the Dorians, as we have seen, the political problem was for the whole body to become κόσμος, by a path which should make each individual κόσμος; for they had such faith in the divine order as to believe these ends were correlative. Hence, by necessity, "in a Doric state, education was a subject of greater importance than government;" and, in point of fact, as long as the education was uncorrupted, the government lasted. In every Doric state where, as in Corinth and Magna Græcia, intercourse with foreign nations, and opportunity for individual accumulation of wealth, relaxed the severity of personal culture, the state declined, and such luxury and corruption ensued as has made the name of Sybarite a by-word among nations.
We will first speak of the forms and objects of this education, and then of the spirit of it; and afterwards proceed to speak of an education of Christendom as true to Christ as this was to Apollo,—out of which, therefore, should grow political forms and activity worthy the name of kingdom of heaven upon earth.
The Dorians assumed, that in a company of men guided by Apollo, inhered a power which circumscribed the liberty of the individuals that composed it to the interests of the company as such; and that this social power must legitimate itself, by discharging a duty of which they had also the intuition, viz. that of unfolding each of its members into the harmonious exercise of his powers.
Perhaps they saw proof of this priority of the social to the individual right in the fact, that the human being is socially dependant, before he is individually conscious. His growth into bodily perfection is not self-directed. It cannot take place, unless it be subjected to laws, according to an ideal of which the individual is not conscious, and which he cannot discover without assistance from the society into which he is born.
The Dorian society, therefore, first judged of the body, and decided whether or not it was sufficiently well organized to be capable of its place in the social body, and then assumed, without hesitation, the direction of its development. For a certain number of years, indeed, the child was left with its parents, whose instincts, enlightened by the general tone of the state, were believed to be the most faithful guardians of its physical well-being; but, at seven years old in Sparta, and at a somewhat later date in some other Dorian states, the more public education began, and the child joined classes to be taught song and the choral dance, with other exercises of body, by which a complete physical development and action might take place. Here let us observe, that the Dorian gymnastic was always accompanied by music, as the intellectual exercises were called. Not a shade of brutality was ever allowed in the Spartan gymnasium. Boxing and violent wrestling were prohibited; also gladiators, i. e. combatants who used arms. The wrestling was never permitted to touch upon that violence which would injure the body, or give occasion for the combatants to cry for mercy. The foot-race was the exercise in which the Dorians oftenest bore away the crown of victory at the Olympic games. Their bodies were strengthened and hardened by hunting, and exposure to the extremes of heat and cold, hunger and fatigue, in the refreshing open air. The scourging at the temple of Diana Orthia, mentioned in history, was not Dorian. The Diana Orthia was not Apollo's sister, but the earth-goddess, spoken of above; and this gloomy and bloody superstition was the tenacity of the old religion upon the Doric ground. The custom of compelling or allowing the children to steal their food, in order to educate them in dexterity and self-dependence, seems an exception to the common probity of Dorian life; but, in judging of it, we must remember that food was in common, and thus no individual right seemed to be invaded. This custom, and that of the bridegroom's stealing his bride,—as the form of marriage,—seem to indicate an open and merry contest of the individual with the social power, in the one case; and of masculine with feminine force, in the other;—a gay admission of the fact, that the problem of adjustment, in either case, was not quite solved, and that it should be left to the right of the strongest, heroically exercised. The Doric organization of society, in these respects, bears the same relation to the ideal Christian organization, as the hero to the saint. But the law of property, and the physical advantage of the masculine sex, never descended with the Dorians to the brutality of the Roman rule, where the debtor, and woman from her birth to her death, were absolute chattel slaves.
The gymnastic exercises of youth were not confined to the male sex. The virgins also contended in classes. But there is no proof of Plutarch's assertion, that they contended naked before men. There is sufficient circumstantial evidence against this. Their bodily exercises were in private, although, in some religious festivals, they raced in public, as well as danced, but in the usual Dorian dress for virgins. This dress, it is true, only covered the bosom, and reached to the knee; and it is a noticeable fact, in connection with the known chastity of this race, where adultery was unknown before Alcibiades' visit to Sparta, and every approach to impurity was punished with death. The married women among the Dorians alone appeared veiled, or with long garments. The education of girls was so invigorating to mind and body, they could be safely trusted to the chaste instincts of true womanhood. But the Athenians, and other later Greeks, whom Asia had corrupted with its female license, and who were thrown upon the virtue of outward restraints, might have characterized the Dorian virgins as "naked;" not being able to appreciate the drapery of purity.
That to which we sequestrate the name of music stands in the forefront of Dorian education. The musical ear is that region which connects the bodily and spiritual life, and it occupies a large portion of the consciousness in the favored organizations of the people of the South of Europe. Its due proportion denotes physical perfection, and is one of the most obvious indications of the capacity of an individual or of a people for a high culture.
Since this is so, in the character of the music must be the deepest secret of the education of a people; and that the Dorians thought this, is evident from the rigidity and solemnity of all their regulations about music, and that the penalty of death was threatened against any one who violated the sanctity of the ancient music by new measures, or even new strings to the lyre.
The true Dorian music was that which entirely expressed the idea of the Dorian character. It was the sound of Apollo in the soul. The movement was just that which waked up the intellect to the perception of all law, and checked the passions from falling into deliquescence; making the whole human being a calm, clear-sighted, creative power. That they believed this music was in the universe, objective to the soul, is expressed by the Pythagorean symbol of the music of the spheres, apprehensible through the silence which was but another name for the perfect act of intellection. There was therefore ideal propriety in the Dorians making music their central activity. Not only did all bodily exercise thus become more or less of a dance, and an intellectual impress was made upon passion, but, what is more important, thus they formed, in the consciousness of each individual, a standard by which all their activity was measured.
The dances of the Dorians were intellectual in their character,—sometimes representative of historical events,—sometimes of foreign customs,—sometimes they were allegorical; in all instances, even when comic, they expressed thought, and stimulated intellectual activity; while the dances of other nations expressed the softer passions merely, and tended to immorality.
The dancing in chorus of young men, of virgins, and of old men, were parts of the public worship. The motions of the young men, says Müller, were vigorous, and often of a military character; those of the virgins were in measured steps, with feminine gestures; and the whole was solemn and grave for the participation of age.
It is impossible here to go into the history of Dorian music and dancing; but its early purity, as well as its subsequent corruption, its action upon the ceremonies of other worships than that of Apollo, and the re-action of other worships upon it,—all testify to the wisdom of the Dorians in making the music and dance an affair of legislation.
The power of music and the dance is exemplified especially in the fact, that with the Dorians they entered even into war, and elevated the exercise of destructiveness into an elegant art. It may be thought that this has been of no advantage to humanity, in the long run (a point of which we may not judge, perhaps, as the end is not yet); but there can be no doubt that, if war does exist, the subjection of it to the Dorian measure of music and motion has robbed it, as Burke would say, of half its ferociousness, by taking away all its brutality.
Song was the accompanying, or immediately consequent, step to the mimetic and allegoric dance; and perhaps here we may discover the origin of the multitude of measures in Greek poetry. Lyric poetry prevailed over every other among the Dorians, and was cultivated by both sexes. It originated with the Dorians, as epic poetry has originated in almost all the other tribes, and is to be referred to the predominance of religion. The ode is the natural address of the cultivated mind to the god whose very nature is proportion, and whose own sound is music. The later history of the drama is well known. The earlier history of comedy, as well as tragedy, leads us immediately to the Dorians, whose intellectual sharpness and power originated humorous expression, if not wit itself, to a remarkable degree. Humor is impossible with the intellectually effeminate. Bucolics were the accompaniment of rustic dances, and elegies of those dances which celebrated astronomical changes; and this opens out a new vista of thought as to the derivation of the very idea of dancing from the motions of the heavenly bodies. The poems of Homer were recited at first by Ionian rhapsodists; but Terpander the Dorian is said to have first set them to a regular tune. He is also said to have first mixed Greek and Asiatic music. Another consequence of the Dorian music and dance was the sculpture of Greece, which took its ideal character from the Dorians, who had Apollo for model, and the unveiled human form, beheld with a chaste delight in the gymnasium, for their school of art. Their love for proportion, harmony, and regularity, rather than for luxuriance of ornament and glitter, is also exemplified in their architecture, which betrays a certain relation to the sculpture of the nation and era. Thus the Dorian measure came to characterize their artistic eye, as well as ear and limb, and the body received its highest education; almost reminding one of the sublime image of Milton, who speaks of the time when, by the natural ascension of matter,—
———"bodies shall at last all turn to spirit,
Improved by tract of time, and, wing'd, ascend
But the music of the Dorians comprehended their moral and intellectual culture, which was very much the same in both sexes. We may infer a natural education of the affections, and that discipline which precludes selfishness in its grossest form, from the fact, that the family spirit was free and genial. The Dorian called his wife, mistress; and it was no unmeaning title; for women enjoyed a real influence in the management of their families, and as mothers. "Aristotle speaks," says Müller, "of their influence on the government, in the time of the ascendency of Sparta: it increased," he says, "still more when a large part of the landed property fell into the hands of women." He adds, that, "little as the Athenians esteemed their own women, they involuntarily revered the heroines of Sparta; and this feeling is sometimes apparent even in the coarse jests of Aristophanes." Again, "In general, it may be remarked, that, while among the Ionians women were merely considered in an inferior and sensual light, and though the Æolians allowed their feelings a more elevated tone, as is proved by the amatory poetesses of Lesbos,—the Dorians, as well at Sparta as in the South of Italy, were almost the only nation who esteemed the higher attributes of the female mind as capable of cultivation." The anecdote of the daughter of Cleomenes, who warned her father, though yet a child, of the Persian's gold, is still more in point than the pretty story of Agesilaus found playing horse with a stick to amuse his infant-boy. It proves rational relations and intercourse between parents and children.
The moral influence of the relation of friendship is to be considered in the Dorian education. Every well-educated man was bound to be the love of some youth, who was called his Listener, as he was called Inspirer; and these words express the pure and intellectual connection. Plutarch, who has much misrepresented this "friendship," admits, however, that for some faults the inspirer was punished, instead of the listener. The listener had also liberty by law to punish his inspirer for any insult or disgraceful treatment. The friends could represent each other in the public assembly, and stood side by side in war. Cicero testifies to the sanctity of the Dorian friendship.
It was only in Sparta and Crete that this institution was recognized by the state; but it was founded on feelings which, it is evident, belonged to the Dorian race; for, in their other cities, particular friends are spoken of by name. The relation was not merely of men. Noble women would have their female listeners; and sometimes a female inspirer had a small company of girls, who cultivated music and poetry. In his history of Grecian literature, K. O. Müller gives details respecting this. The moral and intellectual training implied in the existence and respect for the family, presided over by cultivated female intelligence, is an explanation of the long conservation of the Dorian virtue, and prevented the hardening effect of what seems to us living in public. The Dorian men eat in public in messes, and had λέσχαι, or little clubs, at which they conversed with a freedom guarded by a high sense of honor; and to these conversations the youths were gradually introduced by their inspirers. Instead of the gossip which destroys mind, the conversation, rational, brilliant with wit and humor, was of the sort which makes the man, by keeping him in relation with worthy objects. The sentences of this conversation, which have been handed down to us, are diamonds cut with diamonds; and the young Dorians were trained in concise, witty, and symbolic expression, to fit them for it. It was the object to learn, in the first place, to see the truth, and sharply define it in their thought, in order to express it exactly. This developed to their mind all the intellectual treasures of the Greek language, as the constant demands for the ode and choral song searched out all its melodies. Nor was this study of grammar, in the highest and etymological sense, including logic, their only purely intellectual training. In default of the comparative study of languages, which makes our severest discipline, they had geometry. The mystic numbers of Pythagoras probably covered an application of mathematics to nature, to trace which had a high intellectual effect; but they studied geometry with practical applications, such as we seldom enter into: witness the discoveries made of the generation of beautiful forms from simple ground forms and circles, as displayed in the architecture of the Parthenon and recent discoveries of symmetrical beauty in the antique vases.
The Dorians proper seemed to have nothing to do in time of peace, but to converse. But the Perioikoi, or that part of the nation descended from the conquered race, were included in all the education; and these were not only warriors, on apparently equal footing with the Dorians proper, but agriculturists, artisans, and traders; manufacturers, artists, and mariners. In some instances, the Perioikoi of Laconia were citizens of Sparta; for, as Müller says, "the Doric dominion did not discourage or stifle the intellectual growth of her dependant subjects, but allowed it full room for a vigorous development."
It might seem like dodging to speak of the Dorians, and say nothing of the Helots.
This subject is undoubtedly involved in some obscurity. But one thing is pretty evident. The Helots were not enslaved by the Dorians: they were slaves of the conquered people, and the Dorians did not destroy their relation to the Perioikoi, when they subjected the latter. This is "the height and front of their offending." As to Plutarch's story of the Spartans making the Helots drunk, in order to teach their children, by the disgusting association, to be temperate,—its foundation, in fact, is indicated by Müller, who, in speaking of the dances, mentions the dances of the Helots, indigenous with themselves; some of which represented riotous scenes, and in which drunken persons were probably represented. The Dorians were not responsible for these dances, which very probably it would have been a cruel oppression to suppress. Undoubtedly there were evils and injustices in separable from slavery, from which the Dorians did not deliver the Helots; but in Sparta there was a legal way for them to gain liberty and citizenship. Callicratidas, Lysander, and Gylippus were of the race of the Helots.
In speaking of the Dorian education, we must not omit to say, that the Pythagorean philosophy was its highest instrument. Pythagoras was the philosophic interpreter of Apollo; and the triumph and proof of the reality of the Dorian intellectual culture were given in the fact, that, in the Pythagorean league, "the philosophy of order, of unison, of κόσμος,—expressing, and consequently enlisting on its side, the combined endeavors of the better part of the people,—obtained the management of public affairs, and held possession of it for a considerable time; so that, the nature and destination of the political elements in existence being understood, and each having assigned to it its proper place, those who were qualified, both by their rank and talents, were placed at the head of the state; a strict personal education having, in the first place, been made one of their chief obligations, in order by this means to pave the way for the education of the other members of the community."
Other effects of this intellectual culture were to be seen in other parts of Greece, where the germs of comedy and tragedy, sculpture and architecture, fructified. The Dorian was the father of Greek literature, in its multifarious forms; but the mothers were Achæan, Ionian, Pelasgic. Does not the Dorian genius and character pervade the page of Thucydides? and, but for Spartan culture, would Pericles have given name to his era?
Without going any farther into minutiæ, we may finally speak of the spirit of the Dorian education. It was purely human. It began and ended in man. From the exercises of the gymnasium even to the possession and exercise of political power, there was nothing proposed for pursuit beyond the excellence attained, and the honor of that. We see in Homer's time, that prizes of real value were proposed to the Achæan victors, in contests of strength and skill. But with the Dorians, crowns of no intrinsic value were the prizes,—mere symbols of an excellence which was its own reward. The Dorian strength and beauty continued unimpaired just so long as they could thus symbolize the "superiority of man to his accidents." The son of the morning fell, as soon as his eye turned from the worship of objective truth to subjective indulgence: and his works did follow him; the grand style rapidly giving place to effeminacy, until, where Æschylus had been, was Seneca the Roman tragedian; and every thing in proportion. "The ancients described beauty," said Goethe; "the moderns describe beautifully."
But the Dorian culture was applied only to a fragment of the great race of humanity: it was the perfect form of one wave which has passed away on the tide of time. The question is, May the great flood itself take this perfect form? Can Christ govern mankind as completely as Apollo governed the Dorians?
In order to this, religion must enspirit political forms as truly with us as with them, and an adequate education conserve them. Being Americans, we can take leave to skip the difficult task of legitimating, upon the doctrine of Christianity, the states of modern Europe. We doubt whether any philosopher of history may do that. It is our privilege to live under political forms that it is not difficult to trace quite immediately to our religion. For the United States, in its germ, was a Christian colony; and the oracle which directed it was deeper in the breasts of the Pilgrims than they themselves knew, or could adequately unfold, either in doctrine or practice. But later times have read the writing; and the fathers of the Federal Constitution built the temple, whose foundations the Pilgrims had laid (we would reverently say it) after the model of one "not built with hands, eternal in the heavens." For the Federal Constitution corresponds to the spiritual constitution of man, and has elasticity to admit his growth. It is the unity of a triplicity. The universal suffrage expresses the Passion; the legislative and judicial departments, the Intelligence; and the executive, the Will, of the people. This political form was made out ideally by Sir Harry Vane, in his letter to Cromwell, when that remarkable person pretended to call his friends to counsel him as to what form he should give the government of England in the day of his power. Cromwell rejected it on the plea, that the sovereign grace of God, on which all progress depended, could be more readily found in an executive officer, whom a church recognized to be one of God's elect, than in the common sense of the electors of a . But this was but a new form of the old divine right, as the Protectorate proved; and Sir Harry Vane was farther justified by the growth of our government into an actual fact, a hundred and fifty years later.
It follows from such a political form, that the political action of the nation must reflect the character of the nation, point for point. The suffrage shows the prevalent character of its passion; the Congress and Supreme Court manifest its degree of intelligence, which necessarily will preserve a certain ratio to its passion, since it is elected by it; and the President expresses its will, on the penalty of being removed, if he does not execute its will, and also approve himself to the "sober second thought." It is an inevitable evil, that, like the principle of will in an individual, he will ever be more expressive of the passion than of the intelligence; for his interest depends more immediately upon it. He goes counter to the intelligence, to execute the impulses of the passion. Moreover, the intelligence of the people, as that of the individual is liable to be, is rounded in by its passion; and the too prevalent "doctrine of instructions" increases the danger of this.
In the last analysis, then, all is dependant upon the passion. "Out of the heart are the issues of life."
From this statement, the dangers to which our political system is exposed are obvious. It is the same as that to which every man is exposed,—the revolving in a vicious circle of unenlightened passion, unprogressive mind, and headlong will. The national safety, like man's individual salvation, depends upon the intelligence being informed by a Spirit above itself, so that it may mediate wisely between the passion and the will; elevating the character of the one, and directing the movements of the other. In short, a true spirit of culture must do for the national heart what the ever-incoming grace of God does for the individual soul. The chief danger to a nation and to a man is from within, that the passion and the will may be too strong for the uncultured intelligence. And the danger in our nation is in proportion to the breadth of the national life. All humanity is in it. Our geographical extent and position expose us to the access of all temptation. Not a pleasure, not a dominion, but is opened upon our desire. Every susceptibility of human nature to ambition, to avarice, and to sensual , is addressed. What an original affluence of intellect, what a training of mind, is necessary in order to grasp all this life, and legislate for it in such a manner that it may not prove suicidal! In truth, man seems to be placed under the United States' government, free of the universe, and, as in the case of Adam in his garden, amid such a luxuriance of all that is desirable, that the chances are entirely that he shall miss of the tree of life, which is not so obvious to the eyes, but requireth that they be "purged with euphrasie and rue."
Nevertheless, it is our only hope that we should eat of the tree of life, and the passion of this people be subjected to the κόσμος which breathes in a baptism of fire from the Rock of Joseph, whence rose man glorified as God. In other words, we must be educated by our religion, which comprehends in its scope the life that now is, no less than that which is to come;—a religion which honoreth the spirit in its regenerate human manifestation, even as it honoreth it absolute and unmanifest in the Father.
To explain:—The religion we profess teaches us, that men, in the first phase of their existence, become empassioned by any and all the objects in the universe with which they are in contact; and that they are, in fact, hurried hither and thither, perpetually losing themselves through the richness of their subjective nature, in objects which are at best but signs of an absolute good, of which they have the undying but undefined presentiment. For the various objects which entrance the eye of the natural man, and draw him to adventure his bark towards them, may be likened to light-houses on the rock-bound coast of a rich country, which are mistaken by savage discoverers for the riches that they indicate; and the ignorant mariner rushes towards them, and gets shipwrecked on the rocks upon which they are built.
To stop here: our religion would be gloomy, but it teaches us another thing. It teaches us, that the first phase of human life does not exhaust us, but that it is ours to see the futility of all feeling and activity, unenlightened by God's plan for making his finite creature live on an infinite principle. And to see this futility, and bravely acknowledge it, is to die to the life of mere passion, and to rise to the intellection of the secret of life eternal, which is no less than this: All human passion is to re-appear even upon earth, no longer as master, but as servant, to do the behests of that will, become by gratitude an infinite principle of love, and displaying the office of every faculty and every feeling of human nature, to manifest something of the divine life.
Never before the birth of our political constitution, which was not made by man, but grew up from the instincts of Christian men who had brooked no control of their relations with God, was there any nation on earth, within which the life eternal could unfold its proportions; and it is not wonderful, therefore, that we are slow to enter upon our inheritance, and have not yet unfolded a system of education correspondent to our large privileges.
Let us, however, briefly touch some outlines of such a system; and, in order to give form to our remarks, we will run a sort of parallel between the form of culture proper for us, and the Dorian form that we have just considered.
Men do not now, in sitting in judgment upon the physical system of the new-born, proceed so summarily as did the Dorians with the infirm of body. They accept this evil, when it comes; and the education of the blind, of the deaf, even of the idiot, is in proportion to that richness of resource, indicated, as the gift of God to man, by him who is said to have healed by his touch all the ills that flesh is heir to. A study and analysis of the physical constitution of man, and of the origin and law of its life, united with a sacred sense and practice of duty, shall, in some future on earth, ensure to all who are born, a fair physical constitution, and a subsequent preservation of the same—perhaps to euthanasia.
This part of culture rests so much with parents, that it can only be indirectly reached by a public system. Yet society should feel it a duty, as society, to provide for the study and diffusion of all knowledge on this subject. A partial apprehension of the Christian religion, in times past, has led to a general perversion of thought concerning every thing pertaining to the body. To die bodily with Christ has been that for which saints were canonized. Strange that even those who so clung to the letter which killeth, should have read so partially the letter, that they did not see, that, if Christ's body was tormented and buried, yet it rose again, not subject to decay, but capable of being assimilated to the glory which eye hath not seen; for God did not suffer his holy one to see corruption. The symbolic meaning of the death has been considered much more deeply than the symbolic meaning of the resurrection, which is the complement of the spiritual truth he died to express. Christendom has depreciated the physical system, so that the conscience, which should form and preserve the body in a perfect harmony with nature, has not been developed. Truly, as St. James saith, "he that sinneth in one thing sinneth in all." By this neglect, the mind and spirit have been warped, weakened, and injured, beyond our power to estimate.
A truly Christian system of culture would not neglect a proper gymnastic of the body. It appropriates all that the Dorian culture discovered. Not only the military drill, with running, fencing, and every exercise that developes without brutalizing, should be made a part of the exercises of the school; but boys and girls should be exercised, as of old, in every species of dance which expresses an idea. The musical ear should be early trained, and the body be taught to move in measure. Nothing but the artificial asceticism which arose from that one-sided view of religion which the too energetic Puritans had, could have crushed out of human nature, even so far as it has done in New England, the natural tendency to dance, and degraded the music of motion with associations of presumptuous sin. It is unquestionable that a corrupt people will dance in a manner to corrupt themselves still more; but "to them that hath shall be given." The system of dancing, natural to the innocent-minded and intellectually cultivated, will refine and elevate.
By an intellectual dancing, nothing is meant which is heavy or pedantic. There will undoubtedly be solemn dances; but so there will be fanciful ones,—the Mother Goose and fairy-tale for the very young, the innocent love-tale of later youth, enriched by the imagination, till the ballet is commensurate with the opera. Whatever can be expressed in music may be heightened in effect by an accompanying dance; and Sophocles and Æschylus have taught us (for they trained their own choruses, and Sophocles led his in person), that the highest and gravest genius may employ itself in idealizing the motions of the body.
But mere good-will cannot bring this art to high degrees of perfection. A peculiar genius, which must be born, and cannot be made, is needed here, not less than to compose for the harp or organ. The dancing of Christian Europe is still Pagan, and even the Dorian dances are mostly forgotten. Yet out of that Pagan material might be raised an art of dancing not unworthy of the name of Christian.
Dancing is an admirable initiation of the young into the love and practice of music; because the beauty of measure, first appreciated by measured motion, disciplines the mind to measure time. It is not necessary so elaborately to defend the introduction of music into general education, as of dancing; for only one small sect of Christendom has undertaken to exclude music absolutely from human expression. The largest sect of Christendom, the Roman Catholic church, has developed it so completely, that, on the wings of harmonies which essay to penetrate and reveal the heart of mysteries too generally hidden by "words without counsel which darken knowledge," the world did for a long period, and, in some degree, does in all time, rise above the narrowing influences of that creed which condemns to everlasting woe all who are out of the pale of the church, and even excludes from heaven those who, in involuntary unconsciousness of its existence, fail to pass under its baptizing waters.
But though music is made a part of almost all Christian worship, and though its great masters have proved by their compositions, that it expresses the highest ideas, and even the most varied thoughts, as well as sentiments, of humanity more adequately than words can do; yet it does not take its place in American education, even upon a par with reading. Somewhat of the practice of music in choral singing, it is true, begins to enter into our common-school education. But this hardly goes beyond the metropolis; and the theory of music is not taught in any school or college in our country, with the exception of the asylums for the blind, and a few private schools. There are multitudes of the fathers of our country who, as school-committee men, direct its education, who never have thought of music but as an amusement of the senses; who never have dreamed of its moral, far less of its intellectual, influences. And there are some who look upon it, when introduced into religious services, as a mere rest of the weak mind from the laborious act of worship.
But it is time that the importance of music, taught thoroughly, especially in its theory, should be recognized in education; and that the hideous screaming, without melody, measure, or harmony, which is heard in most places of Protestant worship, should be stilled, together with the scraping of violins and bass-viols, and the pounding of the keys of piano-fortes and organs, to the destruction of all musical ear, and the derangement of every standard of proportion which God has planted in the nervous organization of man, for the first discipline of the mind to order.
One objection that is made to the introduction of music into common education is the time that it would occupy, which, it is said, should be taken up with more useful exercises. But, waiving the circumstance, that this objection entirely begs the question respecting the comparative importance of music in education, we reply, that, were music and dancing a regular part of school exercises every day, as they should be, it would be no hardship to children to remain more hours at school. These exercises could profitably be so arranged that they would break the monotony of book-studies, and supersede the boisterous, and too often mischievous play-hours, which make the neighborhood of a school a thing to be eschewed by all decent society. The advantages to health of mind and body are no less to be esteemed than the elegance of carriage and general gracefulness which would inevitably take the place of the uncouth, romping manner, or awkward, stiff want of manner, not only of our country people, but even of the inhabitants of our cities.
In the small degree in which music now is introduced into schools, it is appropriated to the forms of religious worship. This is well, and might be much extended, when, by a thorough study of the theory of music, the vast treasury of religious strains which the genius of the Old World has accumulated, shall be put within the powers of execution of more learners. Music affords, indeed, the only means of persuading the soul of childhood into any thing that may bear the name of worship, at the early age before experience has revealed to the soul its necessities, and opened its eyes upon the great truth which solves the problem of evil, and gives the second birth. But music does do this. It awakens presentiments which may be said to be the wings which the condescending Deity occasionally fastens upon the child, to raise him into the empyrean where he shall by and by intelligently dwell. Music, as we have intimated above, is in a region above sectarianism, and affords a common ground upon which the divided in opinion may meet; and if all religious instruction (we do not mean all moral science) which is imparted to the young could be confined to that which can be conveyed in music, that perplexity of mind upon the subject, which is the generating cause of most of the speculative infidelity of modern times, might never take place, because the mind would not turn to the greater questions of life, before it was sufficiently enriched by experience, and matured in judgment, to cope with them. The Protestant education does not wholly err in exercising the understanding upon these themes. We are not arguing for what Fenelon calls, and means to commend it, "the profound darkness of the true faith." We would only have the æsthetic element developed, as nature meant it should be, before the mere understanding shall be sharpened to chop a logic which, at that stage of development, can make but "a series of empty boxes" for the soul to dwell in.
Having thus introduced the young mind to the science of order, by the music of motion and of sound, elements in which childhood will dwell in their χαος, if not in their κόσμος, we proceed to the training of the eye and hand, by imitative drawing and the arts of design.
If singing should take the lead of reading, so should drawing of writing. The eye should be accustomed to pictures from very babyhood; and it is marvellous to those who are inexperienced, to see how, very early, mere drawing, in the sketchy style, is perfectly understood by children. "Severe simple lines" are amongst the readiest means of developing the intellect. The mechanical difficulty, too, of using the chalk or lead may be very easily mastered. Quite little children will be amused to draw lines, and thus learn to steady the muscles of the hand to a purpose; and, as soon as the mind is a little developed, a rough imitation of forms begins. By and by, a little practical perspective can be taught by means of holding a thread, horizontally and vertically, over the points of a solid rectilinear figure, in order to see the bearing of its outlines upon the plane of the picture; and thus the discouraging disgust that children are apt to feel, as they learn to compare their attempts with the originals which they make their models, will be avoided. The idea of perspective drawing once taken, the career of improvement is entered upon at once.
Geometry, as well as arithmetic, may be begun at an earlier age with children than is generally believed, if it is taught disencumbered of the verbiage of demonstration that disgraces our text-books; and it will unite itself to drawing, by being carried out into descriptive geometry, and applied to the drawing of the antique architecture and vases. This application will recommend it to many minds which now are matured without any mathematical discipline, on the idea that this is only necessary for the mechanically scientific.
Before dismissing the subject of educating the eye to form, it is to be remembered, that modelling, as well as drawing, should be practised in all places of education.
After this preparation of body and mind, reading and writing should be taught at once, and in such a manner as to make our own language the "open Sesame" to all speech. At present, the American people—although a congeries, as it were, of all peoples—is comparatively dumb. In no country which is called civilized, are even the cultivated classes themselves so completely sequestrated to the use of one language. While its economical interests, as well as its intellectual necessities, cry out for a general facility in speaking foreign tongues, the system of language-teaching falls confessedly below that of other nations. In the schools of Holland, the children grow up, speaking with facility four languages,—English, German, French, and Dutch. But it begins to be seen, that there is a natural and intellectual philosophy of expression; and that a true philological art can be taught to every child who learns to read and write, that shall make the native tongue appreciated in all its deep significance, and prepare the mind for such a comparison of our own with other tongues, as shall immensely facilitate their acquisition; and this glossology, while it affords so great an incidental advantage, shall discipline the intellect, like the learning of any natural science; showing grammar and logic to be, not mere technics, but the forms of thought, and languages themselves to be nothing less than the monuments of the history of the human mind in its first intuitions and reflections. On the ethereal element upon which the spirit of man works with the ethereal instrument voice, is this history carved; or rather in this element has human thought vegetated, not to the eye, but to the ear.
And perhaps it may take no more years to gain a key to the expressed mind of man, than are devoted now to learn by rote a few books in Greek and Latin; and which, after all, are so learned that only the exceptions among the university-educated (as the frequenters of our partial colleges are, as if in mockery, called) can read Latin and Greek with pleasure to themselves. Still fewer can write these languages, and almost none can speak them. Philology should be studied as the most important of sciences, not only for the sake of knowing the works of art and science that the various languages contain, but because words themselves are growths of nature and works of art, capable of giving the highest delight as such; and because their analysis and history reveal the universe in its symbolic character. Moreover, no language, learned in the light of philology, could be forgotten. Indeed, it would seem as if no knowledge conveyed in words could be forgotten, if the words were understood as the living beings that they are when seen in their origin.
But it would take a volume to unfold this subject adequately. The value of language-learning to discipline the mind into power and refinement has been always blindly felt; but, not being understood as well as felt, it has not justified itself to the practical sense especially of this country; and nothing is more common than to hear all study of languages, except of those to be used in commercial and other present intercourse, condemned as at best a costly and unprofitable luxury. These languages are therefore learned by rote, more or less, on such a substratum of Latin and Greek as is thought necessary to facilitate their acquisition. In the best instances, there is some study of idiomatic construction, some investigation of the composition of sentences, as characteristic of a people; but the words themselves are used as counters, and there is no investigation of their composition, and their correspondent relation to the nature they echo on the one side, and the thought they symbolize on the other.
A certain preparation is required for children's entering upon the study of language in the right way, which would be involved in the training of ear, eye, and hand, mentioned above. By means of drawings and pictures, a great deal of information will be conveyed respecting objects of nature and art, and such processes as are capable of pictorial representation; and then, if the learning to read and write is delayed to the age even of six or seven, the mind has not been left uncultivated, but has learned to love order, and to use language; especially if exercised, as children should be at the first schools, to reproduce in their own words what their teachers tell them of the pictures and objects of nature which are put before them.
A true study of language not only involves a development of the relations of nature and mind, in the forming of an intellectual conscience, but leads to a study of nature of a fundamental character. Science, which has been defined "the universe in the abstract," when put into appropriate words thoroughly understood, would be breathed into the mind and assimilated, as the body breathes in and assimilates air and food. Thus the common student would, like Newton, read the propositions of the Euclids of every science, and be able to skip the labored demonstrations without loss. The clear mind, undarkened by "words without knowledge," would find it sport and recreation to apply science to the progress of mechanical art; and a vast amount of energy would be left to explore new worlds of nature, and manifest thought in new forms of beauty.
The mere enjoyment of an education, such as has been here hinted at, is the least of its advantages, though it is one not to be despised. Its use in preserving the race under the political forms which, as we showed above, are alone, of all yet discovered, elastic enough to admit the whole man to be unfolded, can be shown to be probable. The mass of mankind have no fancy for governing; and they would not be driven to meddle with what they know nothing of, if there was no social oppression to cast off, or they could so exercise their energies as to be in a state of enjoyment already. At present, everybody in this country is running to the helm of state, in order to see if they cannot succeed in steering the ship into some pleasanter waters; and, in the old countries, they are engaged in throwing overboard the cargo it is carrying, that they may save the ship perchance from sinking, old and leaky as it is. But, in a nation truly cultivated, life would prove so rich, that every man could afford to pursue his own vocation; and "nothing should hurt or destroy in all the holy mountain." Or, if it is fanciful to suppose that quite this millenium is to be attained in this sphere,—into which is born, in every generation, a fresh mass of chaotic life, to be trained and cultivated by truth and beauty,—yet more and more approximation is to be looked for, as the ages roll on. In the mean time, we need lose no opportunity that we have. There is no reason why we should not instantly begin to work on this plan. Our country is full of means. Europe is pouring out upon us her artists and scholars. We are rich, and can tax ourselves for conservative as well as for destructive purposes. Why not employ these artists and scholars to make a new revival of learning, which shall be, to times to come, what that, produced by the dislodged Greeks of the captured Eastern Empire, was to Europe in the fourteenth century? Why should not our merchants become, like the merchant-princes of Italy, the patrons of science and art, and give their children as well as their money to these pursuits? How many of the growing evils of our society would be crushed, as they are taking root, if, as fast as Americans became rich, they should leave the pursuit of riches to those who are poorer, and use the advantage of the leisure they have earned, to cultivate what the ancients expressively call "the humanities;" at least educate their children to live, rather than to accumulate superfluous means of living; to be living men, rather than instruments of living! "Is not the life more than raiment?"
It is plain, that, if we can spend a hundred millions of dollars in a year for so questionable a purpose as the late war of Mexico, we have resources on which we might draw for public education. And, were education organized and set to music, as the art of destruction is, and that which it is to gain made as definite an object to the imagination, can it be doubted that it could raise its corps of volunteers, ready to spend and be spent for the truth, beauty, and power over nature, which are offered as rewards to the striving?
Great institutions, large and combined efforts, are doubtless necessary; universities, properly so called, in which a universal culture should be made possible; and these should exist in all our great cities, sending forth their branches into the country towns, or at least their scholars, until the passion of all this people be inspired with truth and beauty. But, if this only adequate measure is still delayed, let every man and woman who see into the subject cultivate their own natures, and those of their children and immediate circle. No hour, redeemed from sordid or brutal degradation, but shall tell. Thy Father worketh hitherto; and do thou work, nothing doubting. It is thus that thou shalt enter spiritually into the legislature of thy country, and help redeem its heart to progress. For it is with thy country as with thyself: unless an ever-progressing truth inform that department which mediates between the passion and the will, it will revolve in a vicious circle, till all freedom, and all capacity for freedom, expire.
Only the Truth can make us free, and keep us free.
- "Prometheus" of Æschylus.
- "According to the tradition of Delphi," says Müller, "Apollo, at the expiration of the great period, visited the beloved nation of the Hyperboræans, and danced and played with them, from the vernal equinox to the early setting of the Pleiades; and, when the first corn was cut in Greece, he returned to Delphi with the full ripe ears, the offerings of the Hyperboræans."
- History of the Dorians.
- See Homeric Hymn to Apollo. But there is no proof that it was written by the author of the "Iliad," although it is called Homeric. It is doubtless very ancient, and probably consists of fragments of several Dorian hymns.
- See the whole of the Homeric Hymn to Pan.
- The Spartans called the son of Lycurgus Εὖκοσμος, in honor of his father, says Müller. Might not this son have been the state itself? If Lycurgus is mythological, his son must have been so.
- In Crete the education was directed by the parents till seventeen.
- See Dr. Arnold's "History of Rome," for proof of these facts.
- Vide K. O. Müller, passim.
- See Hay on "Symmetrical Beauty."
- A woman of talent of the present day, for mere economic purposes, has discovered to the world, and especially to the American world, which is peculiarly ignorant on the subject, what a power lies in dancing to inform the mind, while the eye is delighted. The Viennese children, by performing the various national dances of Europe, suggested a means of studying the characteristics of various races, without travelling for the purpose; and their ideal dances opened out the possibility of a still higher intellectual effect, suggesting to those who criticized their utility the words the poet puts into the mouth of the retired Rhodora:—
"Tell them dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then Beauty is its own excuse for being."
Of course, it is bad for any human beings to be exclusively dancers. "There is a time to dance," and a time for other things, said Solomon. But how easy it would be for all children to be trained to dance, among other things; and then for talent to idealize, in the ballet, the customs of nations, historical events, even the processes of many kinds of industry; while genius, "at its own sweet will," should rise into the region of the allegoric and mystic dance!
It is an encouraging circumstance, that some good-natured persons in Boston have turned their attention to the object of teaching the whole youthful population the practice of this art. The whole aim of these persons, however, is only to provide more gentle and elegant exercises, to supersede the rude and boisterous mirth which brutalizes the minds as well as manners of the laboring people, and to provide a harmless channel to lead off the overflowing animal life, that, left to prey on itself and others, turns into intemperance and ferocity. All this is well, but not enough. The Swedenborgians of Boston have done better, by combining, as a church, to have social dancing parties, disconnected with the dissipation of late hours. But even this is not enough. If dancing is not elevated by those who invent its mazes, to have something of an intellectual character, it will probably degenerate into an expression of mere blind passion, and really become to a community the evil which the Puritans believed it to be; and which in fact it is now, in the less favored classes of our own society, in no small degree.
- The Quakers.
- Schmid's "Perspective," in Part First of "Common School Drawing-book," and especially Frank Howard's "Sketcher's Manual," afford admirable hints a to a natural mode of learning to draw from nature.
- One lady, who kept an A B C school in Boston, did at one time introduce into her school-room a long trough, with lumps of clay and some well-shaped toys, together with the ground-forms,—the egg, the sphere, the cylinder, &c.; and it was made a privilege for her little pupils to go and model by turns, in the intervals of their lessons. It was found an admirable way of keeping quietness and order; and, although it was done but a short time, and not very long ago, one professional sculptor seems to have grown out of this very partial experiment. Such a department of the play-room at home, as well as a blackboard for drawing in the nursery, will always be found an aid to the home discipline of tempers as well as of minds.
- Mrs. Mayo's "Lessons on Objects" gives a hint upon this subject; but an infinitely richer book might be made.