Imatges de pÓgina

from Athens for accompanying Cyrus against his brother; and being now without a home, he retired to Scillus, a small town of the Lacedæmonians, in the neighborhood of Olympia.

He was accompanied in his retreat by his wife, and by his twin sons Gryllus and Diodorus; but whether this lady was the mother of the young men is not recorded.

It is probable, that in the course of his Asiatic campaigns Xenophon, though by nature expensive and generous, had amassed considerable wealth; and it will be recollected that he was one of the generals who were intrusted with the tenth dedicated to Apollo and the Ephesian Diana, on the division of the spoil among the Cyreian Greeks at Cerasus; a trust not only honorable, but the source also of an ample revenue. Xenophon remitted the portion designed for Apollo to the temple at Delphi; and, on leaving Asia to return with Agesilaus into Greece, he deposited the other portion with Megabyzus, the treasurer of the Ephesian temple, desiring that if he should fall in the approaching contest with the Thebans, Megabyzus himself should perform the solemn act of dedication in such manner as should be most pleasing to the goddess; but that if he should survive, the money should be returned

to him; for in the insecurity of all property in Greece, the safest depository for money and the precious metals was the treasury of a temple, where superstition generally effected what better principles failed to do elsewhere; and hence the Grecian temples, especially that at Delphi, were generally used both as public and private banks.

When Xenophon was securely settled at Scillus, Megabyzus took the opportunity afforded by the Olympian games to restore the deposit to him, with which he purchased an estate for the goddess, and built on it a temple and an altar; reserving a tenth of the produce of the sacred land as the rent due to her as proprietor, and leaving the residue to be enjoyed by the occupier of the soil, on condition of discharging his duties as manager of the festivals, and guardian of the temple; thus securing to himself and to his family a splendid demesne and handsome income, under the protection of reputed sanctity.

The situation of the estate was dictated by the oracle of Apollo, at the suggestion doubtless of Xenophon himself, and appears to have been studiously selected with a view to make it a counterpart of the sacred territory of Ephesus.

The yearly festival was celebrated with an en

tertainment to all the inhabitants of the town and neighborhood.

In this delightful retreat, under the protection o the temporal sovereignty of Lacedæmon, and thi spiritual tutelage of Diana, Xenopbon forgot thi toils of war, in a state of as much enjoyment a: can fall to the lot of a man whose happiness mus depend on sublunary circumstances. He seems to have been precisely what we should now call a literary country gentleman, diversifying the more refined pleasures of his studious hours with the active amusements of the field; breaking his dogs, training his horses, and attending to the breed of stock; and so much interest did the philosopher, historian, and commander take in these healthful pursuits, that they became the subject of more than one treatise from his immortal pen; an example to scholars in all ages that they should not disdain to refresh their vigor, and renew their animation, by allowing the unharnessed faculties to recreate themselves freely in country sports, and exercise themselves agreeably in country business.

From the period of his settlement at Scillus till after the destruction of the Lacedæmonian sovereignty, by the event of the battle at Leuctra, Xenophon appears to have enjoyed uninterrupted

quiet, and to have employed himself in composing those works which exalted him to be the rival of Plato in politics and biography, as well as of Thucydides in history. It is said that the emulation between the two disciples of Socrates occasioned a pitiable jealousy and alienation from each other; but Diogenes relates to the praise of Xenophon, that he gave to the world the history of Thucydides in the name of the author, when he might easily have made it his own. The list of his other works, given us by the same biographer, proves that we have been singularly fortunate in their preservation.

From this literary and rural enjoyment of peace and security, he was not to be tempted by the reversal of the decree against him, which passed on the change of Athenian politics some time after the battle of Leuctra. Athens was of all places the most dangerous for men in any way eminent, but especially for those who possessed property and talents; and in the continual changes of system which characterise the republics of Greece, the fickleness of the despotic mob, who had banished and recalled him, might at any moment confiscate his property and take


his life. When therefore the protection of Lacedæmon could no longer avail him, and the dissensions which agitated the surrounding states rendered even the sacred terri. tory insecure, he sent his family to Lepreum, and is related to have gone in person to Elis, to plead with the Eleians (now once more masters of Scillus) for immunity, on account of having accepted the fief from an hostile power. It appears that the prayer was readily granted, and that he returned in peace to the possession of his property ; but whether the commotions of the times rendered a country residence less desirable, or the decline of life brought with it a disinclination for bodily exertion, he appears, in his latter years, to have lived principally at Corinth, in which place he died about the second year of the hundred and fifth Olympiad, 359 years B.C.

The simplicity and the elegance of Xenophon's diction have procured him the name of Athenian Muse, and the Bee of Greece; and they have induced Quintilian to say that the Graces dictated his language, and that the Goddess of Persuasion dwelt on his lips. His sentiments, as to the Divinity and religion, were the same as those of the venerable Socrates. He supported the immortality of the soul, and exhorted his friends to cultivate those virtues which insure the happiness of mankind, with all the zeal and fervor of a Christian,

« AnteriorContinua »