Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/500

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490
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

regarded as a most glorious and valor-inspiring proclamation, recounting that "the fathers of these youths, like brave and good men, had fallen in their country's battles, wherefore the nation had taken charge of their bringing-up, and now on the verge of manhood, having adorned them with an entire suit of armor, dismissed them under happy auspices to watch over their own affairs, granting them likewise most honorable seats in the theatre."

Though the services rendered by the old Greek volunteer were not only national, but even continental in their influence, their recognition by the most celebrated and artistic memorials of the day, and by pension legislation—which, even in the fragmentary laws and references preserved, suffers little, if at all, by comparison with the finished product of the twentieth century—shows a devotion and sacrifice on the part of the people, unique in their loyalty to the constitution of that first republic in the world, political prototype of the great American republic in nearly everything but size. The people of Athens knew no king but law, and early learned that the stability and very existence of a republic, more than any other form of government, depend on gratitude to the citizen-soldier who defends the constitution, and on the creation and cultivation of a spirit of loving allegiance to and loyal observance of the supremacy and sanctity of the law of the land; and the little republic insisted on that truth and taught her citizens that lesson—which all republics must learn sooner or later—but probably never with more striking or exemplary emphasis than in the oath the youth was required to take at the Temple of Aglauros, when, as citizen and soldier, he swore

That he would not disgrace his arms nor desert his comrade in battle but would fight for his country's shrines; and leave his fatherland not feebler than he found it but greater and mightier; that he would obey the orders of his commanders; that he would keep the laws, not stand idly by if any one violated or disregarded them, but do his best to maintain them; and that he would honor the shrines of his native land.[1]
  1. Lycurgus, "Leocrates," § 76.