The History of Greece - Vol. 5

By Ernst Curtius; Adolphus William Ward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II. .
THE POLICY AND INTELLECTUAL LIFE OF ATHENS UP TO THE BEGINNING OF THE PUBLIC CAREER OF DEMOSTHENES

SINCE Athens had freed herself from the Thirty Tyrants, she involuntarily again and again returned to the courses of her ancient policy, endeavoring to extend her dominion, and to acquire influence over the general affairs of Greece. She was unable to forget her past, while at the same time the interests of her trade demanded that she should recover maritime power and confederates. But the great difference between the new and the old Athens lay in this: that it was now no longer the entire civic community, which of one accord desired progress, and that its efforts had no endurance. Athens betrayed her exhaustion; and when she had made a vigorous advance, she soon sank back into an attitude of fatigue, and craved for nothing but a tranquil enjoyment of life, and undisturbed comfort within the limited sphere of her civic life. The other difference lies in the circumstance, that the policy of old Athens had always developed itself out of itself by virtue of a certain necessity, while now impulses to a more vigorous course of action invariably came from without, so that the policy of the Athenians was determined by special opportunities, and depended upon outward accidents.

History of Attic policy.

It was thus that Athens, her action being impelled by foreign states, had become involved in the Corinthian War; and after she had, exhausted and discouraged by

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