網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

CHA P. phrastus*; the schools of rhetoric must have

been still more populous than those of philosophy; and a rapid succession of students diffused the fame of their teachers, as far as the utmost limits of the Grecian language and name. Those limits were enlarged by the victories of Alexander; the arts of Athens survived her freedom and dominion; and the Greek colonies which the Macedonians planted in Egypt, and scattered over Asia, undertook long and frequent pilgrimages to worship the Muses in their favourite temple on the banks of the Ilissus. The Latin conquerors respectfully listened to the instructions of their subjects and captives ; the names of Cicero and Horace were enrolled in the schools of Athens; and after the perfect settlement of the Roman empire, the natives of Italy, of Africa, and of Britain, conversed in the groves of the academy with their fellow, students of the East. The studies of philosophy and eloquence are congenial to a popular state, which encourages the freedom of inquiry, and submits only to the force of persuasion. In the republics of Greece and Rome, the art of speaking was the powerful engine of patriotism or ambition; and the schools of rhetoric poured forth a colony of statesmen and legislators. When the liberty of public debate was suppressed, the orator, in the honourable profession of an advocate, might plead the cause of innocence and justice; he might abuse his talents in the more profitable trade of panegyric; and the same pre

XL.

cepts

* Diogen. Laert. de Vit. Philosoph. 1. v. segm. 37. p. 289.

XL.

$

Lepts continued to dictate the fanciful declama- CHAP: tions of the sophist, and the chaster beauties of historical composition. The systems which professed to unfold the nature of God, of man, and of the universe, entertained the curiosity of the philosophic student; and according to the temper of his mind, he might doubt with the sceptics, or decide with the stoics, sublimely speculate with Plato, or severely argue with Aristotle. The pride of the adverse sects had fixed an unattainable term of moral happiness and perfection : but the race was glorious and salutary; the disciples of Zeno, and even those of Epicurus, were taught both to act and to suffer; and the death of Petronius was not less effectual than that of Seneca, to humble a tyrant by the discovery of his impotence. The light of science could not indeed be confined within the walls of Athens. Her incomparable writers address themselves to the human race; the living masters emigrated to Italy and Asia; Berytus, in later times, was devoted to the study of the law; astronomy and physic were cultivated in the musæum of Alexandria; but the Attic schools of rhetoric and philosophy maintained their superior reputation from the Peloponnesian war to the reign of Justinian. Athens, though situate in a barren soil, possessed a pure air, a free navigation, and the monuments of ancient art. That sacred retirement was seldom disturbed by the business of trade or government; and the last of the Athenians were distinguished by their lively wit, the purity of their taste and language, their social manners, and VOL. VII.

L

some

CHA P. some traces, at least in discourse, of the magna.

XL. nimity of their fathers. In the suburbs of the w city, the academy of the Platonists, the lycæum of

the Peripatetics, the portico of the Stoics, and the garden of the Epicureans, were planted with trees and decorated with statues ; and the philosophers, instead of being immured in a cloister, delivered their instructions in spacious and pleasant walks, which, at different hours, were conseerated to the exercises of the mind and body. The genius of the founders still lived in those venerable seats; the ambition of succeeding to the masters of human reason, excited a generous emu. lation; and the merit of the candidates was determined, on each vacancy, by the free voices of an enlightened people. The Athenian professors were paid by their disciples : according to their mutual wants and abilities, the price appears to have varied from a mina to a talent; and Isocrates himself, who derides the avarice of the sophists, required in his school of rhetoric, about thirty pounds from each of his hundred pupils. The wages of industry are just and honourable, yet the same Isocrates shed tears at the first receipt of a stipend; the Stoic might blush when he was hired to preach the contempt of money; and I should be sorry to discover, that Aristotle or Plato so far degenerated from the example of Socrates, as to exchange knowledge for gold. But some property of lands and houses was settled by the permission of the laws, and the legacies of deceased friends, on the philosophic chairs of Athens. Epicurus bequeathed to his disciples the gardens

XL.

which he had purchased for eighty mine or two CHAP. hundred and fifty pounds, with a fund sufficient for their frugal subsistence and monthly festivals *; and the patrimony of Plato afforded an annual rent, which, in eight centuries, was gradually increased from three to one thousand pieces of gold t. The schools of Athens were protected by the wisest and most virtuous of the Roman princes. The library which Hadrian founded, was placed in a portico adorned with pictures, statues, and a roof of alabaster, and sup ported by one hundred columns of Phrygian marble. The public salaries were assigned by the generous spirit of the Antonines; and each professor, of politics, of rhetoric, of the Platonic, the Peripatetic, the Stoic, and the Epicurean philosophy, received an annual stipend of ten thousand drachmæ, or more than three hundred pounds sterling ‡. After the death of Marcus, these liberal donations, and the privileges attached to the thrones of science, were abolished and revived, diminished and enlarged: but some vestige

[blocks in formation]

* See the testament of Epicurus in Diogen. Laert. 1. x. segm, 16-25. p. 611, 612. A single epistle (ad Familiares, xiii. 1.) displays the injustice of the Areopagus, the fidelity of the Epicureans, the dexterous politeness of Cicero, and the mixture of contempt and esteem with which the Roman senators considered the philosophy and philosophers of Greece.

+ Damascius, in Vit. Isidor. apud Photium, cod. ccxlii p. 1054.

See Lucian (in Eunech. tom. ii. p. 350-359. edit. Reitz), Philostratus (in Vit. Sophist. 1. ii. c. 2.), and Dion. Cassius, or Xiphilin (1. lxxi. p. 1195.), with their editors Du Soul, Olearius, and Reimar, and, above all, Salmasius (ad Hist. August. p. 72.). A judicious philosopher (Smith's Wealth of Nations, vol. ii. p. 340-374.) prefers the free contributions of the students to a fixed stipend for the professor.

[ocr errors]

XL.

[ocr errors]

CHA P. of royal bounty may be found under the suca

cessors of Constantine; and their arbitrary choice of an unworthy candidate might tempt the 'philosophers of Athens to regret the days of independence and poverty *. It is remarkable, that the impartial favour of the Antonines was bestowed on the four adverse sects of philosophy, which they considered as equally useful, or at least as equally innocent. Socrates had formerly been the glory and the reproach of his country; and the first lessons of Epicurus so strangely scandalized the pious ears of the Athenians, that by his exile, and that of his antagonists, they silenced all vain disputes concerning the nature of the gods. But in the ensuing year they recalled the hasty decree, restored the liberty of the schools, and were convinced, by the experience of ages, that the moral character of philophers is not affected by the diversity of their theological specu

lations t. They are The Gothic arms were less fatal to the schools suppressed by Justi.

of Athens than the establishment of a new religion, nian.

whose ministers superseded the exercise of reason, resolved every question by an article of faith, and condemned the infidel or sceptic to eternal flames.

In

• Brucker, Hist. Crit. Philosoph. tom. ii. p. 310, &c.

+ The birth of Epicurus is fixed to the year 342 before Christ (Bayle). Olympiad cix. 3.; and he opened his school at Athens, Olymp. cxviii. 3. 306 years before the same æra. This intolerant law (Athenæus, 1. xii. p. 610. Diogen. Laertius, 1. v. s. 38. p. 290. Julius Pollux, ix. 5.) was enacted in the same, or the succeeding year (Sigonius, Opp. tom. v. p. 62. Menagius, ad Diogen. Laert. p. 204.' Corsini Fasti Attici, tom. iv. p. 67, 68.). Theophrastus, chief of the Peripatetics, and disciple of Aristotle, was involved in the same exile.

S.

« 上一頁繼續 »