網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

They were so weak as to think that the city Canobus had its name from a pilot of Menelaus, and that even Memphis was built by Epaphos of » Argos. There surely was never any nation so incurious and indifferent about truth. : Hence have arisen those contradictions and inconsistences with which their history is 24 embarrassed...

It may appear ungracious, and I am sure it is far from a pleasing task to point out blemishes in a people of so refined a turn as the Grecians, whose ingenuity and elegance have been admired for ages. Nor would I engage in a display of this kind, were it not necessary to shew their prejudices and mistakes, in order to remedy their failures. On our part we have been too much accustomed to take in the gross with little or no examination, whatever they have been pleased to transmit: and there is no method of discovering the truth but by shewing wherein they failed, and pointing out the mode of error, the line of deviation. By unravelling the clue, we may be at last led to see things in their original state, and to reduce their mythology to order. That

* 23 Apollodorus. 1. 2. p. 62. - Clemens. 1. 1. Strom. p. 383: from Aristippus. .. 34 See Josephus contra Apion. 1. 1. c. 3. p. 439.

my censures are not groundless, nor carried to an undue degree of severity, may be proved from the like accusations from some of their best writers; who accuse them both of ignorance and forgery: 25 Hecatæus, of Miletus, acknowledges, that the traditions of the Greeks were as ridicu. lous as 'they were numerous : 26 and Philo confesses that he could obtain little intelligence from that quarter : that the Grecians had brought a mist upon learning, so that it was impossible to discover the truth: he therefore applied to people of other countries for information, from whom only it could be obtained. Plato 27 owned that the most genuine

[ocr errors][merged small][subsumed]

helps to philosophy were borrowed from those who by the Greeks were styled burbarous: and 28 Jamblichus gives the true reason for the preference, The Helladians, says this writer, are eve ing and unsettled in their principles, and are. carried about by the least impulse: They want ; steadiness ; and if they obtain any salutary known ledge, they cannot retain it ; nay, they yait it with : a kind of eagerness ; and, whatever they do admit; they new mould and fashion, according to some novel and uncertain mode of reasoning. But... people of other countries are more determinate in .. their principles, and abide more uniformly by the . very terms which they have traditionally received They are represented in the same tight by Theo philus : 29 he says that i they wrote merely for empty praise, and were so blinded withi tvånity, that they neither discovered the truth theirsebves, i. nor encouraged others to pursue it. Hence Tati

[ocr errors]

anus says, with great truth, so that the writers of other countries were strangers to that vanity with which the Grecians were infected : that they were more simple and uniform, and did not encourage themselves in an affected variety of notions. . · In respect to foreign history, and geographical knowledge, the Greeks, in general, were very ignorant: and the writers, who, in the time of the Roman Empire, began to make more accurate inquiries, met with insuperable difficulties from the mistakes of those who had preceded. I know, no censure more severe and just than that which Strabo has passed upon the historians and geographers of Greece, and of its writers in general. In speaking of the Asiatic nations, he assures us, that there, never had been any acçount transmitted of them upon which we can depend. "Some of these nations, says this judi

[ocr errors]

cious writer, the Grecians have called Saca, and others Massagete, without having the least light to determine them. And though they have pretended to give a history of Cyrus, and his parti. cular wars with those who were called Massagetæ, yet nothing precise and satisfactory could ever be obtained; not even in respect to the war. There is the same uncertainty in respect to the antient history of the Persians, as well as to that of the Medes and Syrians. We can meet with little

that can be deemed authentic, on account of * the weakness of those who wrote, and their uniform love of fable. For, finding that wrio

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »