previous next


Plato conjectures that, after the deluges, three kinds of communities were established; the first on the heights of the mountains, consisting of a simple and savage race, who had taken refuge there through dread of the waters, which overflowed the plains; the second, at the toot of the mountains, who regained courage by degrees, as the plains began to dry; the third, in the plains. But a fourth, and perhaps a fifth, or more communities might be supposed to be formed, the last of which might be on the sea-coast, and in the islands, after all fear of deluge was dissipated. For as men approached the sea with a greater or less degree of courage, we should have greater variety in forms of government, diversity also in manners and habits, accord- ing as a simple and savage people assumed the milder cha- racter of the second kind of community. There is, however, a distinction to be observed even among these, as of rustic, half rustic, and of civilized people. Among these finally arose a gradual change, and an assumption of names, applied to polished and high character, the result of an improved moral condition produced by a change of situation and mode of life. Plato says that the poet describes these differences, alleging as an example of the first form of society the mode of life among the Cyclops, who subsisted on the fruits of the earth growing spontaneously, and who occupied certain caves in the heights of mountains; “‘all things grow there,’ he says, "without sowing seed, and without the plough. ‘But they have no assemblies for consulting together, nor administration of laws, but live on the heights of lofty mountains, in deep caves, and each gives laws to his wife and children.’1

As an example of the second form of society, he alleges the mode of life und er Dardanus; “‘he founded Dardania; for sacred Ilium was not yet a city in the plain with inhabitants, but they still dwelt at the foot of Ida abounding with streams.’2

An example of the third state of society is taken from that in the time of Ilus, when the people inhabited the plains. He is said to have been the founder of Ilium, from whom the city had its name. It is probable that for this reason he was buried in the middle of the plain, because he first ventured to make a settlement in it, “‘they rushed through the middle of the plain by the wild fig-tree near the tomb of ancient Ilus, the son of Dardanus.’3

He did not, however, place entire confidence in the situation, for he did not build the city where it stands at present, but nearly thirty stadia higher to the east, towards Ida, and Dardania, near the present village of the Ilienses. The present Ilienses are ambitious of having it supposed that theirs is the ancient city, and have furnished a subject of discussion to those who form their conjectures from the poetry of Homer; but it does not seem to be the city meant by the poet. Other writers also relate, that the city had frequently changed its place, but at last about the time of Cræsus it became station- ary. Such changes, which then took place, from higher to lower situations, mark the differences, I conceive, which followed in the forms of government and modes of life. But we must examine this subject elsewhere.

1 Od. ix 109, 112.

2 Il. xx. 216.

3 Il. xi. 166.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus English (1924)
load focus Greek (1877)
hide References (1 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: