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III. EMULATION IN ARTS AND SCIENCES. Diodorus Siculus, in the preface to the twelfth book of his history, makes a very judicious reflection upon the times and events I have now been speaking of. He observes that Greece was never threatened with greater danger, than when Xerxes, after having subdued all the Asiatic Greeks, brought against it such a formidable army, as seemed to make the same fate an inevitable event. And yet it was never more glorious or triumphant than after the expedition of Xerxes, which, properly speaking, was the epocha from whence to date the prosperity of Greece, and was in particular the occasion and origin of that glory which made the name of Athens so famous. For the following fifty years produced in that city a multitude of men eminent in every kind of merit, in arts, sciences, war, government and politics.

To confine myself here only to arts and sciences, what carried them in so short a time to so high a degree of perfection, was the rewards and distinctions bestowed on such as excelled in them, which kindled an incredible emulation amongst the men of letters and excellent artists.

Cimon, returning from a glorious campaign, brought back with him to Athens the bones of Theseus, To preserve the memory of this event, the people proposed a prize to be contended for by the tragic poets, which became very famous. Judges chosen by lot were to determine the merit of the performances, and adjudge the crown to the conqueror amidst the commendations and applauses of the whole assembly. But thearchon observing there was great caballing and par. tiality among the spectators, nominated Cimon himself and nine other generals to be judges. Sophocles. who was then but young, presented his first piece, and gained the prize from Æschylus, who till then had been the honour of the theatre, and incontestibly the best writer. He was unable to survive his glory, left Athens, and retired into Sicily, where he soon after

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died of grief. As to Sophocles, his reputation continually increased, and never left him, not even in his extreme old age. His children soliciting for a judgment against him, as being superannuated, instead of a defence, he read before the judges a piece he had lately finished, entitled Oedipus Coloneus, and unanimiously gained his cause.

The glory of carrying the prize in these disputes, where all sorts of persons took pains to produce something extraordinary, was held so distinguished an honour, as to become the object of the ambition of princes, as we learn from the history of the two Dionysius of Syracuse.

[s] It was a glorious day and the most affecting delight to Herodotus, when all Greece assembled at the Olympic games declared, whilst they heard him read his history, that they thought they heard the Muses speaking by his mouth ; which occasioned the nine books of his work being called by the name of the nine Muses. And the case was the same with the orators and poets, who spoke their orations, and read their poems there in public. How great a spur to glory must the applauses have been, which were received before the eyes and with the acclamations of almost all the people of Greece ?

There was no less emulation amongst the artisans of merit; and this was the reason, that under Pericles all arts were carried in so short a time to the highest degree of perfection.

[t] It was he that built the Odeon, or theatre of music, and made the decree, by which it was ordained, that the games and disputes for prizes of music should be celebrated on the feast of the Panathenæa; and being chosen the judge and distributer of the prizes, he thought it no dishonour to regulate and assign the laws and conditions of this kind of disputes.

[u] Who has not heard of the name of Phidias, and the fame of his works? This celebrated sculptor, who

(s) Lucian. in Herodot. [1] Plut, in Vit. Pericl.

[x] Ibid.

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was more sensible to glory than interest, ventured, notwithstanding the extreme delicacy of the Athenians in this particular, to insert his name, or at least the resemblance of his countenance, on a famous statue; as judging he could have no better recompence for all his labour than to share an immortality with it, whereof he had been the author and cause.

We know with what ardour the painters entered the list against one another, and how eagerly they disputed for the prize. Their works were exposed in public, and judges that were alike excellent and uncorruptible adjuged the victory to the most deserving.

Parrhasius and Zeuxis contended in this manner with each other. The latter had drawn grapes so exactly alike, that the birds came and pecked at them. The other had drawn a curtain. Zeuxis, proud of the mighty suffrage of the birds, with an insulting air bid him draw aside his curtain, and shew what he had done. [2] He soon found his mistake, and yielded the palm to his rival, ingenuously confessing himself conquered, for he had only deceived the birds, whereas Parrhasius had deceived him, as great a master as he was in the art.

What I have observed of the passion, excited by a single man in Athens for arts and sciences, may shew us of what service emulation may be to a state, when applied to things useful to the public, and restrained and kept within just bounds. How great an honour has Greece derived from the great artists and learned men she produced in such abundance, whose works, superior to the injury of time and malignity of envy, are still looked upon, and ever will be, as the rule of a good taste and model of perfection ? Honours and rewards annexed to merit, rouze and awaken industry, animate the soul, and raise mankind as it were from stupefaction and lethargy, and in a short time fill a kingdom with illustrious persons of every

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se artificem. Plin. l. 35.

[x] Intellecto errore, concessit autem
palmam ingenuo pudore, quoniam
ipse volucres fefellisset, Parrhasius

C, 10.

Do

kind.

kind. The late M. Colbert, minister of state, set apart forty thousand crowns a year, to be distributed among such as excelled in any art or science; and he often told [y] soine that were admitted to an intimacy with him, upon whose intelligence and recominendation be relied in this particular, that if there was a man of merit in the kingdom that suffered, or was in want, it was to be charged upon their consciences, who would be answerable for it. Such expences as these never ruin a state ; and a minister, who has a sincere love for his prince and country, can scarce serve thein better, than by procuring them such ines. timable advantages, and so lasting a glory, at so small an expence. For as [2] Florace has said upon another occasion, when men of probity are under any necessity, friends may be purchased at a cheap rate;

Vilis amicorum est annona, bonis ubi quid deest. U] Mr. Perrault, & M. l'Abbé Gallois. (z) Hor. l. 1. Ep. 12.

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