صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


A. C. too jealous of their liberty. They seceded to the A, R. Aventine mount: violent overtures proved fruitless; nothing could bring back the people, but the calm remonstrances of Menenius Agrippa: it was necessary, however, to find some lenitives, and to grant the people tribunes to defend them against the consuls. The law which instituted this new magistracy, was called the sacred law; and such was the rise of the tribunes of the people. Darius had at last openly broke with Greece. His son-in-law Mardonius, after overrunning Asia, thought to overpower the Grecians by his num490. bers; but Miltiades, with ten thousand Athenians, de- 264. feated that vast army in the plain of Marathon. Rome was beating all her enemies round about, and seemed to have nothing to fear but from herself. Coriolanus, a zealous patrician, and the greatest captain she had, being expelled notwithstanding his services, by the po489. pular faction, meditated the ruin of his country, led on 488. the Volci against it, reduced it to the last extremity, and 266. nothing but his mother could appease him. Greece enjoyed not long the tranquillity which the battle of Marathon had procured her. In order to revenge the affront of Persia and Darius, Xerxes his son and successor, and grandson of Cyrus by his mother Atossa, 480. attacked the Grecians with 1100,000 fighting men, 274. (some say 1700,000) without reckoning his naval force of 1200 ships. Leonidas, king of Sparta, with no more than three hundred men, killed him 20,000 of them at the streights of Thermoplyæ, and bravely died with all his followers. By the conduct of Themistocles the Athenian, Xerxes's naval armament is the same year defeated near Salamis. That prince repassed the Hellespont in consternation; and a year after, his land army, which Mardonius commanded, is cut to pieces nigh Platea, by Pausanias king of Lacedemon, and Aristides the Athenian, surnamed the just. The battle was fought in the morning, and in the evening of that famous day. The Ionian Greeks who had shaken off the yoke of the Persians, killed thirty thousand of them



A. c. in the battle of Mycale, under the conduct of Leoty- A. R chides. That general, to hearten his soldiers, told them, that Mardonius was just defeated in Greece. The news proved true, either by some unaccountable effect of fame, or rather by a lucky hit of conjecture; and all the Grecians of the lesser Asia set themselves at liberty. That nation was gaining every where considerable advantages; and, a little before, the Carthagenians, then powerful, were beat in Sicily, which they had invaded at the instigation of the Persians. Notwithstanding this ill success, they did not cease forming new designs upon an island, so commodious for securing the empire of the sea, which was the great aim of their republic. Greece enjoyed it then, but her attention was wholly turned upon the east and the 477. Persians. Pausanias had just freed the island of Cy- 277. prus from their yoke, when he conceived the design of enslaving his country. All his schemes proved abortive, notwithstanding the great promises of Xerxes: the traitor was betrayed by him he loved best, and his 474, infamous affection cost him his life. The same year 280. Xerxes was slain by Artabanus, captain of his guards: Arist either the perfidious wretch wanted to mount his mas- v. 10. ter's throne, or else he dreaded the severity of a prince, whose cruel orders he had not readily enough execut473 ed. Artaxerxes Longimanus his son began his reign, 281. and shortly after received a letter from Themistocles, who, being proscribed by his citizens, made him a proffer of his service against the Grecians. He, well knowing how to prize so renowned a captain, gave him a great appointment, in spite of the jealousy of the Sa47. traps. That magnanimous prince protected the Jews, 287. Ezr... and in his twentieth year, memorable for its conse454 quences, he permitted Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem 300. hemii. with her walls. This decree of Artaxerxes differs from



that of Cyrus, in that Cyrus's related to the temple, and this was made for the city. At this decree, foreDan seen by Daniel, and mentioned in his prophecy, the 25 490 years of his weeks commence. This important.



4. c. date has very solid foundations. The banishment of A. R. Themistocles is placed by Eusebius's chronicle, in the last year of the 76th Olympiad, which answers to the 280th of Rome. Other chronologists bring it a little farther down; the difference is inconsiderable, and the circumstances of time confirm Eusebius's date. They are taken from Thucydides, a most accurate historian; lib. 1. and this grave author, almost contemporary, as well as fellow-citizen, with Themistocles, makes him write his letter in the beginning of the reign of Artaxerxes. Cornelius Nepos, an ancient and judicious, as well as Corn elegant author, admits no doubt of this date after the The authority of Thucydides; an argument so much the mis. more solid, that another author, more ancient still than




Thucydides, entirely agrees with him. And that is Plut. in Charon of Lampsachus, quoted by Plutarch; and Plutarch himself adds, that the annals, meaning those of Persia, are conformable to these two authors. He does not, however, follow them, but gives us no reason for it; and the historians, who begin the reign of Artaxerxes eight or nine years later, are neither of that time, nor of so great authority. It appears therefore unquestionable, that its beginning is to be placed towards the end of the 76th Olympiad, and near the 208th year of Rome, whereby the twentieth year of that prince must fall towards the end of the 81st Olympiad, and about Rome's 300th year. In fine, those who cast the beginning of Artaxerxes' reign lower, to reconcile authors, are reduced to suppose, that his father had, at least, associated him in the kingdom, when Themistocles wrote his letter; and which way ever it is, our date is ascertained. This foundation being laid, the rest of the computation is easy, which the sequel will make evidently appear. After the decree of Artaxerxes, the Jews laboured hard in rebuilding their city and its walls, as Daniel had foretold. Nehemiah Dan. conducted the work with great prudence and resolution, amidst all the opposition made by the Samaritans, Arabians, and Ammonites. The people strenuously

ix. 25.

A. C. exerted themselves, and Eliashib the high priest ani- A. B mated them by his example. Meantime the new magistrates, that had been given to the Roman people, fomented the divisions of the city; and Rome, form ed under kings, wanted the laws necessary for the good constitution of a commonwealth. The reputation of Greece, still more celebrated for its government than for its victories, moved the Romans to take. from 452. thence their pattern. So they sent deputies to study 502. the laws of the cities of Greece, and especially those of Athens, which were the most agreeable to the state 451. of their republic. Upon this model, ten absolute ma- 30s. gistrates, who were created the year after under the 450. name of Decemvirs, digested the laws of the twelve 304. tables, which are the foundation of the Roman law. The people, charmed with the equity with which they composed them, suffered them to ingross the supreme 449. power, which they used in a tyrannical manner. Great 305 commotions were now occasioned by the incontinence of Appius Claudius, one of the Decemvirs, and by the murder of Virginia, whom her father chose rather to kill with his own hand, than suffer her to be prostituted to Appius's passion. The blood of this second Lucretia roused the Roman people, and the Decemvirs, were expelled. While the Roman laws were forming under the Decemvirs, Ezra, a doctor of the law, and Nehemiah, governor of God's people, newly re-established in Judea, were reforming abuses, and enforcing Neh. the observance of the law of Moses by their example Deut. as well as authority. One of the principal articles, of xxiii.3. their reformation was, to oblige all the people, and par


ticularly the priests, to put away the strange wives,
whom they had married contrary to the law. Ezra put
the sacred books in order, accurately revised them,
and collected the ancient memoirs of the people of
God, to compose the two books of the Paralipomena,
or Chronicles, whereto he added the history of his own
time, which was finished by Nehemiah. Their books
conclude that long history begun by Moses, and unin-


A. c. terruptedly continued by succeeding authors, down to A. R. the rebuilding of Jerusalem. The rest of sacred history is not written in the same order. While Ezra and Nehemiah were forming the last part of that great work, Herodote, by profane authors called the father of history, began to write. Thus the last authors of sacred history coincide with the first authors of the Grecian history; and when it begins, that of the people of God, to take it only from Abraham, included already.fifteen centuries. Herodote could not make any mention of the Jews in the history he has left us ; and the Grecians had no need to be informed of any people but such as war, commerce, or renown made known to them. Judea, which was beginning, with difficulty, to rise from its ruins, attracted no regard. It was in those unhappy times that the Hebrew tongue ceased to be common. During the captivity, and afterwards by the commerce the Jews were obliged to have with the Chaldeans, they learned the Chaldaic language, which was very near akin to their own, and had almost the same idiom. For this reason they changed the ancient figure of the Hebrew letters, and wrote the Hebrew with Chaldaic characters, which were more in use among them, and easier to be formed. This change was easy between two neighbouring languages, whose letters had the same power, and differed only in shape. From that time we find the holy scripture among the Jews, only in Chaldaic characters; but the Samaritans ever retained the ancient way of writing it. Their posterity have persevered in this practice down to our days, and have, by that means, preserved to us the Pentateuch, which is called Samaritan, in ancient Hebrew characters, such as we find on medals, and on all the monuments of ages past.

The Jews lived pretty comfortably under the authority of Artaxerxes. That prince, reduced by Cimon (son of Miltiades) general of the Athenians, to make a shameful peace, despaired of conquering the Greeks by force, and now considered only how to profit by their

« السابقةمتابعة »