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Paul, Galat. i. 20.) It is obvious that such an appeal implies a belief, not only in the existence of the being so called upon, but also in his power and inclination to punish the false swearer ; and the force of an oath is founded on this belief. Hence an oath is called &ewv opuos. (Horn. Hym. ad Merc. 272. 515 ; Find. Ol. vii. 119.) Zeus opKios (Soph. Pkiloct. 1324) is the god who has regard to oaths, and punishes their violation. TJr\v exuv eirdfjLOToi' (Soph. Track, 1190) means (according to Suidas) 'opttov eyyvrjriiif.
We find early mention in the Greek writers of oaths being taken on solemn and important occasions, as treaties, alliances, vows, compacts, and agreements, both between nations and individuals. Thus, when the Greeks and Trojans agree to decide the fate of the war by a single combat between Menelaus and Paris, they ratify their agreement by an oath. (II. iii. 276.) The alliance between Croesus and the Lacedaemonians is confirmed by oath. (Herod, i. 69.) So is the treaty between the Medes and Lydians, whose > rites in swearing (as Herodotus tells us, i. 74) were the same as those of the Greeks, with this addition, that they made an incision in their arms and tasted each other's blood. We may further notice the treaty of peace between the Athenians and Pelo-ponnesians, upon which every state was to swear eiTLx&piov ftpnov riv jueytcrTW (Thucyd. v. 47), the vow of the Ionian women (Herod, i. 146), that of the Phocaeans (Id. 165), and the promise of Circe to Ulysses (Qd. x. 345). The reliance placed in an oath is specially shown in the dialogue between Aegeus and Medea in Eurip. Med. 736 — 760 ; and the speech of Athena in Eurip. Suppl. 1196. For other examples we refer the reader to Soph. Oed. Tyr. 647, Oed. Col 1637, Tracldn. 1183 ; Plerod. vi. 74 ; Horn. 11. ix. 132.
That the Greeks (as a nation) were deeply imbued with religious feeling, and paid high regard to the sanctity of oaths, may be gathered from the whole tenor of their early history, and especially from the writings of the poets, Homer, Aeschylus, and Pindar. (See Thirl wall, Hist, of Greece^ vol. i. c. vi. § 3.) They prided themselves on being superior in this respect to the barbarians. ( Aelian. xiv. 2.) The treacherous equivocation practised by the Persians at the siege of Barca (Herod, iv. 201) would have been repugnant to the feelings of a people, whose greatest hero declared that he hated like hell one
II. ix. 313.
The poets frequently allude to the punishment of perjury after death, which they assign to the infernal gods or furies (Horn.//, iv. 157, xix. 260; Pind. Olymp. ii. 118; Aristoph. Ran. 274), and we find many proofs of a persuasion that perjurers would not prosper in this world. (Horn. II. iv. 67, 270, vii. 351 ; Hesiod. Op. et Dies, 280 ; Thuc. vii. 18.) One of the most striking is the story told by Leutychides to the Athenians, of Glaucus the Spartan, who consulted the Pythian oracle whether he should restore a deposit, or deny on oath that he had ever received it ; and who, for merely deliberating upon such a question, was cut off with his whole family. (Herod, vi. 86; Pausan. ii. 18, viii. 7 ; Juv. Sat. xiii. 202.)
Anciently the person who took an oath stood lip, and lifted his hands to heaven, as he would in
prayer ; for an .oath was a species of prayer, and required the same sort of ceremony. (Horn. 1L xix. 175, 254 ; Pind. Ol. vii. 119.) Oaths were frequently accompanied with sacrifice or libation. (Horn. //. iv. 158 ; Aristoph. AcJmrn. 148, Vesp. ] 048.) Both sacrifice and libation are used in the compact of the Greeks and Trojans in II. iii. 276. The victims on such occasions were not eaten; but, if sacrificed by the people of the country, were buried in the ground; if by strangers, were thrown into the sea or river. (77. iii. 310, xix. 267.)
The parties used also to lay their hands upon the victims, or on the altar or some other sacred thing, as if by so doing they brought before them the deity by whom the oath was sworn, and made him witness of the ceremony. Hence the expressions Trpbs Tbz/ jSco/xby e£op/a£e»>, b^vvvai icatf iep&v. (See Reiske, Index ad Dem. s. v. 'O/to/iWi: Harpocr. s. v. A.iQos ; Thuc. v. 47; Goeller, ad loo.; Juv. Sat. xiv. 219 ; Ovid. Epist. Dido ad Aen. 129.) In Homer (//. xiv. 270), Juno, making a solemn promise to Sleep, takes the Earth in one hand and Heaven in the other, and swears by Styx and the subterranean gods. To touch the head, hand, or other part of the body, of the person to whom the promise was made, was a common custom. The hand especially was regarded as a pledge of fidelity, and the allusions to the junction of hands in making contracts and agreements abound in the ancient writers. (Eurip. Medea, 496 ; Soph. PUloct. 812, Track. 1183 ; Ovid. Ep. Phyllisad Demopli. 21, Briseis ad Ach. 107; Horn. Hym. ad Ven. 26.) Other superstitious rites were often superadded, to give greater solemnity to the ceremony (Aesch. Sept. c. Theb. 42 ; Soph. Antig. 264 ; Demosth. c. Con. 1269), which appear to be ridiculed by Aristophanes (Lysist. 188).
The different nations of Greece swore by their own peculiar gods and heroes ; as the Thebansby Hercules, lolaus, &c., the Lacedaemonians by Castor and Pollux, the Corinthians by Poseidon (Aristoph. Acliarn. 774, 860, 867, Equity 609, Lysist. 81, 148) ; the Athenians swore principally by Zeus, Athena, Apollo (their irarpwos r^eta), Demeter, and Dionysus.
The office or character of the party, or the place, or the occasion often suggested the oath to be taken. Thus, Iphigeneia the priestess swears by Artemis in Eurip. Ipli. in Tcmris. Menelaus bids Antilochus swear by Poseidon (the equestrian god), the subject being on horses. (//. xxiii. 58,5.) So Philippides, in Arist. Nub. 83, is made ridiculously to swear vi] r^v Hocreidctj rbv 'iinrio^. Achilles swears by his sceptre (//. i. 234), Tele-machus by the sorrows of his father (Od. xx. 339). Hence the propriety of the famous oath in Demosthenes, by the warriors who fought at Marathon, &c. Here we may observe, that as swearing became a common practice with men upon trivial occasions, and in ordinary conversation, they used to take oaths by any god, person, or thing, as their peculiar habits or predilections, or the fancy of the moment, dictated. Pythagoras on this account swore by the number Four. (Lucian, Pyilmg. 4 ; Plut. de Plac. Phil. i. 3. 1616.) Socrates used to swear 1/77 rbv Kvva, in which he was absurdly imitated by others. (Athen. ix. p. 370.) Aristophanes, so keenly alive to all the foibles of his countrymen, takes notice of this custom, and turns it into ridicule. Hence he makes the sausage-dealer swear vi] top '£0/071; riv ayopcuov (Equit,