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daughter, for having entrusted that office to another, in consequence of which the infant escapes. Of those persons, in whom the remains of natural instinct remonstrate against such barbarity, he speaks, as ignorant of what is right, and good, and just. These sentiments, in the play of a favorite author, were publicly uttered on the Roman theatre.
This horrid practice of exposing infants, says a learned author, was universal. This crime was so common among the Arabians, that Mahomet found it necessary to exact an oath of the Arabian women, not to destroy their children.
Nothing more clearly shows, the degree, to which the best and tenderest feelings of our nature may, by the influence of custom and vice, be subdued. In all these instances, the mother's assent to the sacrifice of her infant eiiher is obtained, or it is not. If it is obtained-if maternal affection can be so smothered or extinguished, it is then only, when moral depravity has cast its shadows of deepest horror. But if the sacrifice is made without this consent, the father in demanding it, is pre-eminently cruel. He triumphs at once over two objects, more calculated, than all others on carth, to excite compassion.
II. The feeling displayed in war, and, the treatment, which enemies and prisoners received, evince a very corrupt state of morals, in those countries, where revealed religion has not. been enjoyed. Homer has doubtless given to the heroes of the Iliad such characters, as were considered honorable and becoming to warriors, in those ages, when they are supposed to have flourished. In many of these, we find unmixed ferocity, and a thirst for revenge, which nothing can satiate.
Why so tender hearted ?” says Agamemnon to Menelaus seeing him hesitate, while a Trojan of high rank, who had the misfortune to be disabled by being thrown from his chariot, was begging his life. “Are you and your house so beholden to the Trojans ? Let not one of them escape destruction from your hands; no, not the child within his mother's womb. Let all perish unmourned ; let not a ves
tige of them be seen remaining.” It is added by Mitford, whose words I have used,“ that the poet gives the sanction of his own approbation, to this inhumanity in a prince, by no means generally characterized as in human."
Patroclus, the friend of Achilles, insults with vulgar wit and malignity, the dying charioteer of Hector. Yet this same friend of Achilles, is, on many occasions, denominated the mild Patroclus. The same spirit of revenge was afterwards exbibited by Hector. When he had killed Patroclus, and stripped him of his rich armour, he postponed the most pressing and most important concerns, equally his own and his country's, to the gratification of a weak revenge. “Losing sight of all the greater objects of the battle, while he struggled for the naked corse, with intention to complete its contumely, by giving it to be devoured by Trojan dogs; and to make his vegeance lasting, by depriving it of those funeral rites, which, in the opinion of the times, were necessary to the repose of souls after death."
Modern nations have set some bounds to the licentiousness of war. To take the life of a supplient enemy; especially to do this for the avowed purpose of satiating revenge, would be thought among modern christian nations, to be a flagrant violation of the laws of liberal warfare. But, Homer ascribes to his most illustrious characters a deport. ment, more criminal than this. The vengeance of Hector follows not a suppliant, but a slain enemy. It has for its object, not the body alone, which is incapable of suffering, but that immortal part, which survives the body.
The barbarous custom of denying burial to enemies, slain in battle, appears indeed to have been confined to the earlier Greeks. At a period so late, as the Peloponnesian war, such liberty, was not, I believe, ever denied. Though it is remark. ed by Mitford, whose opinion on any subject of Grecian his tory, is entitled to high regard, that morality was not better understood, in the days of Zenophon, Plato, and philosophy, than in the time of Homer.
The treatment, which captives received from their conquerers among the ancient Greeks, deserves our notice. These, (says one of the personages of the Iliad,) are the evils which follow the capture of a town. 6. The men are killed i the city is burnt to the ground; the women and children of all ranks, are carried off for slaves."
The parting of Hector and Andromache has always, I believe, been considered, as the most tender and affecting scene in the whole poem. In that interview, nothing occured by which the heart is more powerfully invaded, than the prospect of those sufferings and indignities, which Andromache was to incur, after her hero should be slain. This prospect was not represented to his mind by the spirit of prophecy, but by his knowledge of the treatment, which captives usually received. Nor did he expect any alleviation in her case, on account of her high connexions or noble descent; but looked forward to the time when she would be employ. ed in menial offices, the slave of a foreign mistress.
-Thy griefs I dread;
Pope. At a period so late as that of the Peloponnesian war, scarcely any thing could exceed the cruelty of the treatment, endured not only by captured cities, but by those, which surrendered. Of this the Melians afford us a remarkable instance. “ The Athenians, says Mitford, had no pretence for any command over this people, but that they were strong. er. Connected by blood, by habit, and by their form of government, with Lacedæmon, those islanders had been nevertheless cautiously inoffensive to Athens, till forced to become enemies. The punishment for this involuntary act, was to have their adult males put to death, and the women and children of all ranks sold for slaves." In the confer. ence, which previously occurred between the Melians and
ambassadors from Athens, the latter avowed that they were influenced by a consciousness of power, rather than by any regard to justice.“ In all human competitions," said they, “ equal wants alone produce equitable determinations.” It is remarkable, that this event occurred at a time, when those studies, and those arts, which are supposed to soften or subdue the rougher feelings of our nature, were cultivated with enthusiastic ardor, and unparalleled success. To use the words of an author recently quoted, “It was where Pericles had spoken and ruled; where Thucydides was then writing ; where Socrates was then teaching; where Xenophen and Plato, and Socrates were receiving their education : and where the paintings of Parrhasius and Zuexis ; the sculptnre of Phidias and Praxiteles; the architecture of Callurates and Tetinus; and the sublime dramas of Sophocles and Euripides, formed the delight of the people.”
After taking the view of the state of morals among the Greeks, we shall be less surprised at the remark of Kennet, that “the Romans became more corrupt, as they became imbrued in Grecian literature." But to enslave prisoners of war was a custom not confined to the Greeks. 66 In former times, it was a custom, almost universally established, says an excellent writer, on the principles of political law, than those, who were made prisoners in a just and solemn war, whether they had surrendered themselves, or were taken by main force, became slaves the moment they were conducted into some place, dependent on the conqueror. And this right was exercised on all persons whatever, even on those, who happened unfortunately to be in the enemy's country, at the time when the war suddenly broke out. Further, not only the prisoners themselves, but their posterity were reduced to the same condition. The effects of this slavery had no bounds. Every thing was permitted to a master, with respect to his slaves. He had the power over them of life and death."
Such treatment did the vanquished expect, even when Ro
mans were the victors, that, in not a few instances, self immolation was preferred to the horrors of captivity. victorious armies of the Romans, in entering a town by assault, or enforcing an encampment, have found the mother in the act of destroying her children that they might not be taken; and the dagger of the parent red with the blood of his family, ready to to be plunged at last into his own breast! When Trajan was engaged in his second war with the Da cians, in one of their cities, besieged by the Romans, the men despairing of its longer defence, having slain their wives and children, secretly withdrew to a large cavern in the mountains. (See ins. on Traj. pillar.) There, unable to sustain or defend themselves, they procured a large quantity of poison, and dissolved it in a caldron. When a few individuals were appointed to deal out the fatal potion to the crowds, that rushed eagerly round this fountain of death.
IU. Of the state of moral feelings, prevailing among the Romans, we may form some judgment, by considering their triumphs.
As these were decreed and regulated by the public au. thority, they indicate not private feelings merely, but those of the nation. To exult in prosperity, at the expense of an enemy, humbled and subdued, is usually considered, as peculiarly ungenerous, as well as immoral, How emphatically this was done in the Roman triumphs, will appear from the following account of them.
In this procession, after the musicians, who sung or played triumphal songs, went the victims to be sacrificed. To these succeeded the carriages bearing the triumphal spoils, which were taken from the enemy. Next came the captive leaders in chains, with their children and attendants. After the captives, came the lictors, having their fasces wreathed with laurels, followed by a great company of musicians and dancers, dressed like satyrs; in the midst of whom was a pantomime, clothed in a female garb, whose business it was, with his looks and gestures to insult the vanquished. Adams' Roman Antq. 338.