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1198

TYRTAEUS.

pressly stated by Plato (7. c.), and its probability is confirmed by the statement of Aristotle (Pol. ii. 6. § 12) that, in the times of the early kings, the Spartans sometimes conferred the citizenship upon foreigners. Plutarch ascribes a saying to Pausa-nias, the son of Cleombrotus, that, when asked why they had made Tyrtaeus a citizen, he replied, " that a foreigner might never appear to be our leader " (Apoplith. Lacon. p. 230, d.). Of course, a mere floating apophthegm like this can have little weight; it may be a genuine tradition, or it may be the invention of some writer who wished to reconcile the common story about Tyrtaeus with the well-known repugnance of the Lacedaemonians to confer their franchise upon foreigners. The statement of Suidas, that Tyrtaeus was a Lacedae­monian, according to some, furnishes no additional evidence, but must be interpreted according to the conclusion which may be arrived at respecting the whole question. It should not be forgotten, in estimating the value of Strabo's opinion, that he may have found other passages in the writings of Tyrtaeus, which seemed to imply that he was a Lacedaemonian, besides those which he quotes; but of course this possibility cannot be adduced as a positive argument, unless it were confirmed by the actual occurrence of such passages in the ex­tant fragments of Tyrtaeus.

In the opinion of those modern critics, who reject the account of the Attic origin of Tyrtaeus, the extant fragments do actually furnish evidence of his being a Lacedaemonian. The spirit displayed in them is said to be thoroughly Dorian ; and the patriotic energy, with which the poet praises those who face danger for their native land, is certainly extraordinary for a foreigner, especially when it is remembered that Tyrtaeus is not only said to have shown his influence over the Spartans by leading them in war, but also by appeasing their civil dis­cords at home ; and all this becomes the more ex­traordinary, if we reflect that this patriotic ardour was excited, and this influence was exerted, by an Ionian over and on behalf of Dorians. Neither does it seem probable that, whatever aid the Lace­daemonians might be willing to accept from a foreigner, they would entrust to him the command of their armies.

On the other hand, it is urged by Mliller with some force, that " If Tyrtaeus came from Attica, it is easy to understand how the elegiac metre, which had its origin in Ionia, should have been used by him, and that in the very style of Cal-linus. Athens was so closely connected with her Ionic colonies, that this new kind of poetry must have been soon known in the mother city. This circumstance would be far more inexplicable if Tyrtaeus had been a Lacedaemonian by birth, as was stated vaguely * by some ancient authors. For although Sparta was not at this period a stranger to the efforts of the other Greeks in poetry and music, yet the Spartans, with their peculiar modes of thinking, would not have been very ready to appropriate the new invention of the lonians/'f (Hist, of Lit. of Greece, vol. i. p. 111.)

Discussions of this sort are extremely unsatis-

* This mode of disposing of positive evidence is worth notice.

i1 How was it, then (one may ask), that they were so " very ready to appropriate" Tyrtaeus and the invention together ?

TYRTAEUS.

factory, in respect of the establishment of any po­sitive conclusions ; but for that very reason they are extremely important, in order to mark the limits of our knowledge of the early history of Greek lyric poetry, and to show the danger of ac­cepting the positive statements of writers who lived long after the period with reference to which their evidence is brought forward, as if their being po­sitive statements were alone sufficient to au­thenticate them. In the present case, the question of the country of Tyrtaeus appears to us still un­decided, and likely to remain so.

The other points of the popular story, namely, that Tyrtaeus was a lame schoolmaster, are rejected by all modern writers. It would lead us too far to discuss their probable origin: we will only observe that the statement of his being a schoolmaster may simply mean that he was, like the other early musicians and poets, a teacher of his own art; and his alleged lameness may possibly be connected with some misunderstanding of expressions used by the earlier writers to describe his metres. These suggestions, however, are by no means put forward as altogether satisfactory explanations of the tradition.

Turning now to the more certain facts of the poet's history, we find him presented to us in the double light of a statesman arid a military leader, composing the dissensions of the Spartans at home, and animating their courage in the field. And this representation is quite consistent with the position occupied by a poet in those early times, as the teacher and prime mover both in knowledge and in virtue ; a position attested by abundant evidence, and recognised by the very phrase which is several times used to describe those early poets, 6 cro^bs Troirjrri?. It is remarkable that the power of the poet to teach political wisdom, and to appease civil discords, is not only recognised in the tradi­tions about the early history of Greece, from the legends respecting Orpheus downwards, but also that, in the semi-historical period now under consideration, and with specific reference to the Lacedaemonian state, we are told of civil tumults being appeased, not only by Tyrtaeus, but also by Terpander and Thaletas, who, according to the re­ceived chronology, were his contemporaries [ter­pander ; thales]. The nature of these dissen­sions it is the province of the political historian to investigate: the form which the tradition assumes in the case of Tyrtaeus is the following. Among the calamities, which the revolt of the Messenians brought upon the Spartan state, and which, ac­cording to the common story, Tyrtaeus was the divinely-appointed minister to remedy, not the least was the discontent of those citizens, who, having possessed lands in Messenia, or on the bor­ders, had either been expelled from their estates, or had been forced to leave them uncultivated for fear of the enemy, and, being thus deprived of their means of subsistence, demanded compensation by a new division of landed property. To convince these sufferers of their error in disturbing public order, Tyrtaeus composed his elegy entitled " Legal Order" (Ewo/xia), which Suidas calls also Tlo\i-T€ia. (Aristot. Polit. v. 7. § 1; Paus. iv. 18. § 2.) Of this work M'uller gives the following excellent description: — "It is not difficult, on considering attentively the character of the early Greek elegy, to form an idea of the manner in which Tyrtaeus probably handled this subject. He

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