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Deep blue like hers, and brimmed with tender dew,
She drew more closely to the Poet's side,
Fair once, and well beloved — Ah me! ah me!
Paul H. HAYNE.
ON THE STEPS OF THE BEMA.
WillS AND Won'ts, OR WHERE THERE'S A WILL THERE'S A
WAY - TO BREAK IT.
T is said that the Mendelssohn who linked the Platonic Men
musical fame, used to say: When I was young I was known as the son of the great Mendelssohn; now that I am old I am known as the father of the great Mendelssohn. Similar is the position of the orator Isaeus, or rather, I will say boldly — Isaios. In the preced
ing papers I have made a weak compromise with ordinary usage. In this I shall indulge myself in writing Greek proper names after the Greek fashion. It would save a world of hideous mispronunciation if people were to do it unisormly; and it is a pity that Grote, as he had courage enough for anything, had not been more consistent and gone the entire alphabet.' The customary refraction of the Greek through the Latin leads to all manner of jumbles, in which even scholars get their genders confused.*
The scholar of the great Isokrates and the teacher of the great Demosthenês, Isaios is little known outside of the narrow circle of scholars whose special studies take them to the Attic courts. The titles of his speeches are not alluring. All the eleven deal with cases of inheritance ; and although the circumstances of such cases are not always devoid of interest, and most of these eleven involve the good name of the litigants or of the deceased, ordinary readers would prefer the horrors of a murder-trial or the scandals of a suit for divorce to the dry genealogies of a question of succession. I remember well enough how those of my fellow-students who were delving in the Corpus Juris groaned over Puchta and Vangerow; and if any department of the law is especially abhorrent to the non-legal mind, it is the doleful concatenation of rounds and squares, or rounds and rhombs, which the lawyers use to represent the opposite sexes, as if to show the inherent incompatibility of man and wife. It is not then wholly the fault of Isaios if his speeches do not fascinate the ordinary reader. Even Demosthenês succeeds no better when his theme involves similar details of kindred, and the head swims with judicial impartiality over the speech on the inheritance of Hagnias, and the speech against Makartatos.
In the style of Isaios we notice a reaction against the adiposity of Isokratês, and a return to the terser and tenser diction of Lysias. “Both Lysias and Isaios are, it is true, clear, correct, brief; but Isaios lacks the native simplicity, the play of character, the surpassing grace of Lysias.” So an ancient critic. An unbiassed modern would probably be puzzled to tell which of these dry bones from the Greek Valley of Jehoshaphat is the drier, and would deem a cause lost in advance that had such advocates. But viewed as the teacher of Demosthenês, Isaios possesses a certain historical interest for all who profess to admire the great opponent of Philip ; and we can understand Demosthenes more readily from the Isaean than from the Isokratean point of view. There is a directness and force in the language of Isaios which contrasts favorably with the slower and more oily revolution of Isokratês.
The speech which I have chosen to illustrate the subject of this paper is the speech of Isaios on the inheritance of Philokiêmôn. The orator, or better, the lawyer, begins with a captatio benevolentiae, which must have been effective with an Athenian audience, and which justifies the statement of an ancient writer that Isaios always made a dead set at the jury. The advocate sets out by saying that
*So it is common to say Panegyricus, Trapeziticus, after tie Greek mavricuperàs, spareGetizòs (hópos) and the like, instead of the true form, Panegyrica, Trapezitica (oratio).
he had a right to plead the cause of Chairestratos, for he had shared with him the hardships of war. “I knew what awaited me, for I had gone on a like expedition before ; but such was my friendship for Chairestratos, that at his entreaty I went with him to Sicily. With him I suffered disaster, with him I fell into the hands of the enemy, and now I hope I may be allowed to stand by his side once more."
This is the story. Philoktêmôn, the son of a wealthy man of Athens, exposed to constant danger, now in the cavalry, now in the navy, now in the horse-marines, resolved to make a will so as to provide for the disposition of his property in case anything should happen to him. Both his brothers had died childless. One sister, who had been married many years, had no boys, the other had two sons. One of these was provisionally adopted by Philoktêmôn, and this Chairestratos was to inherit the property in case his uncle died childless. The will was perfectly valid ; for according to law, any Athenian might bequeath his property as he chose, provided he had no legitimate male heirs of his body, were not in his dotage, were not subjected to undue influence. The case seemed to be clear. But the sins of the fathers were to be visited upon the third generation ; and the life of the grandfather of Chairestratos, the father of Philoktêmôn, gave a handle to designing parties, who laid claim to the inheritance on the ground of direct descent from the ancestor of them all. In fact, we are brought face to face with Ten Thousand a Year and the Jumel case.
The grandfather and grandmother were comfortably lodged in Attic soil; their three sons were all dead, childless. Chairestratos might well have deemed himself secure in his inheritance, when up starts this scandal of an after-marriage on the part of the grandfather, and a worse than scandalous aftermath of offspring. The Athenian chancellor had to ask the old, old question, Qui est elle? The claimants said that she was from Lemnos :- a good device, for Lemnos was far away, and while they were sending for persons and papers they gained time to make up a story. The story made up, they came back and said that she was one Kallippe, the daughter of Pistoxenos. But who was Pistoxenos? Oh, he fell in Sicily at the time of the great Sicilian expedition. Sicily is a good name to conjure withal. Even at this distance of time we feel a certain throb of sympathy with the captured Athenians, who paid so heavy a price for their grand experiment. Who that has ever read can ever forget the marvellous narrative of Thukydidês: from the setting forth of that Invincible Armada to the final fight on the Assinaros; from the blare of the trumpet that hushed the hum of preparation into a religious silence, to the mad turmoil of the last ineffectual struggle ; from the tide of wine that poured in rich libations from golden and silver beakers into the Saronic Gulf, to the little Sicilian stream, defiled with mud and gore, which the Athenians quaffed as they died? Who can forget the out-door prison of the Quarries, the cruel glare of the sun, the suffocating heat of the day, the chill of the autumnal nights, the famine, the thirst, and that horror which moderns seldom approach with a sense of its sublimity, the horror of unutterable stench? We still listen breathless as the tidings are borne to Athens, to catch the
wail of the violet-crowned city; we still hear the Athenian captives chanting the Alkestis of Euripides. Such stories never die; and from the heart of the nineteenth century there grows up pomegranate-tree, whose branches are musical with Sicily and Alkéstis, and the name of the wild pomegranate-flower is Balaustion.
If, then, the mention of Sicily and the Sicilian expedition is so much to us, what must it have been to the Athenians themselves ? “Kallippe, daughter of Pistoxenos, who fell in Sicily”- what more could be said to commend the children to the affections of the Athenians ? So the French lorettes of the last generation were all daughters of officers who had fallen in the retreat from Moscow, if possible in the passage of the Beresina. The strain is not unfamiliar :
“Deprived of the care of the author of my days, destined to mourn the loss of a mother, whose soul, too tender, was smitten to death by the fatal frost that chilled the heroic blood of her consort, left to the instincts of an, alas ! too confiding heart, I have been the victim of misfortune, which demands your sympathy, if not your respect.
CHARLOTTE ANNÉ DE CHENILCHANTANT.”
But as orthography was the great stumbling-block of the French Charlotte Anne's, so chronology must have been no little annoyance to the Attic swindlers. Pistoxenos, who fell in Sicily, left his daughter as a ward in the house of Euktêmôn, the father of Philoktêmon; and by this Kallippê Euktêmôn is said to have become the father of the brace of impostors who claimed the inheritance. Unfortunately, fifty-two years had elapsed since the great Sicilian expedition, and the oldest son of the supposed Kallippê was not over twenty years of age ; so that Kallippê must have continued to be a ward of Euktêmôn's for thirty years an unheard-of durance. According to Greek views of things she ought to have been fairly on the road to the honors of grandmotherdom by that time. Xenophôn's Ischomachos took a wife of fifteen; and, if her daughter married at the age of her mother, a grandmother of thirty-two would not have been improbable. But the speaker does not press his advantage as a modern declaimer would have done. He only says that this imaginary Kallippê ought to have found a husband long and long before the țiine when she is said to have married Euktêmôn, whose ward she never was, whose wife she never was.
But after all there is some foundation for the scandal ; and the advocate proceeds in the most gingerly manner to reveal the private life of the patriarchal Euktêmón. He is painfully aware of the distress which he must inflict on his client. The crop of wild oats which had sprung up over the grave of the old man was not an agreeable harvest to gather ; but the truth was the truth, and justice was justice, and an inheritance an inheritance. If anybody is too good to read Vanity Fair, let him read no further. The life of an Euktêmôn is not the life we should crave for our grandfathers.
Euktêmôn reached the age of ninety-six years; and had it not been for the weaknesses at the close of his life he might well have been considered a lucky man. What more could he want? “He had wealth, he had a wife, he had children." The second of these three blessings the speaker puts last, but no rash inference must be drawn
from that. The Greeks said with philosophical indifference “ wife and children,” “children and wife.” They did not bind themselves to "wife and children,” or to “ham and eggs.” But in his old age Euktêmôn became what Mr. Carlyle calls an “unfortunate male," for the euphemism applied to both sexes in antiquity, and he fell into very bad company. He had a freed woman, who lived in one of his tenements in the Peiraieus or chief port of Athens, and kept what may as well be called a sailors' boarding house. One of the black-eyed Susans who lived with her was named Alkê; and as time went on Alkê resolved to "range herself,” and settied down as an honest woman in a separate establishment with one Diôn, a man of her own rank in life, who acknowledged her two sons as his. However, Diôn got into a scrape of some sort and thought it prudent to withdraw to Sikyon. At this juncture Euktêmôn stepped forward as the benefactor of Alkê, and whisked her — if the expression is not too youthful — from the Peiraieus to a tenement of his in the Kerameikos —"the house near the wicket,” says the orator, with a wink, “where wine is for sale.” I am sorry to say that the house is not down on any map to which I have access; no copy of the Athenian Attican — if such an organ of civilisation and high morality was then published — having come down to our time. Alkê, it appears, was to act as porter of the establishment; and the intimacy began, if indeed it began then, as so many intimacies have begun. Euktêmôn dropped in every now and then to collect his rents, and found Alkê an agreeable woman to chat with. Then he began to take his meals there, and finally, to the great chagrin of his wife and children, made his abode with those low people. In fact, this vile creature Alkê gained such an ascendancy over him that he undertook to register the elder of her two children as his own. But Philoktêmôn, his lawful son, set up a strenuous opposition, and the court refused to make the entry. This infuriated the old man, and he engaged himself to another woman, intending, I suppose, to get rid of his wife — a proceeding which was alınost as easy in Athens as it is in Chicago -- and to begin life over again. The age at which Euktêmôn had arrived might have made his family easy as to the prospect of natural heirs; but morally certain that he would find heirs in some way to thwart and vex them, they persuaded Philoktêmôn into yielding a reluctant consent that the youngster should be registered and have a farm settled on him.
After this Philoktêmôn fell in battle off Chios, and Euktêmôn wanted to make a written statement of the transaction. When he took this notion into his head, his two sons-in-law, Chaireas and Phanostratos, were at Munychia, the one about to go to sea, the other about to see him go. So he went down to the harbor — this perfervid old Attic – and made a will in which he confirmed his bequest to Alke's son, and deposited it with a kinsman; a proceeding which served as a proof that the claimant was not a legitimate son, as legitimate sons inherit without a will. This document lay for two years in the hand of the depository; but meanwhile one of the sons-in-law died, and the Kerameikos cormorants, marking their opportunity, urged the old man to annul the will. So long as the property consisted in real estate the daughters and their children would inherit,