THE THORNY ROAD OF HONOUR 521
From all periods, and from every country, these shining pictures display themselves to us : eachr*only appears for a few moments, but each represents a whole life, sometimes a whole age, with its conflicts and victories. Let us contemplate here and there one of the company of martyrs —the company which will receive new members until the world itself shall pass away.
We look down upon a crowded amphitheatre. Out of the ' Clouds ' of Aristophanes, satire and humour are pouring down in streams upon the audience ; on the stage Socrates, the most remarkable man in Athens, he who had been the shield and defence of the people against the thirty tyrants, is held up mentally and bodily to ridicule— Socrates, who saved Alcibiades and Xenophon in the turmoil of battle, and whose genius soared far above the gods of the ancients. He himself is present; he has risen from the spectators' bench, and has stepped forward, that the laughing Athenians might see what likeness there was between himself and the caricature on the stage : there he stands before them, towering high above them all.
Thou juicy, green, poisonous hemlock, throw thy shadow over Athens and not the olive tree !
Seven cities contended for the honour of giving birth to Homer—that is to say, after his death ! Let us look at him as he was in his lifetime. He wanders on foot through the cities, and recites his verses for a livelihood ; the thought for the morrow turns his hair grey ! He, the great seer, is blind and lonely—the sharp thorn tears the mantle of the king of poets. His songs yet live, and through them alone live all the heroes and gods of antiquity.
One picture after another springs up from the east, from the west, far removed from each other in time and place, and yet each one forming a portion of the thorny road of honour, on which the thistle indeed displays a flower, but only to adorn the grave.
The camels pass along under the palm trees ; they are richly laden with indigo and other treasures of price, sent by the ruler of the land to him whose songs are the delight of the people, the fame of the country : he whom envy and falsehood have driven into exile has been found, and the caravan approaches the little town in which he has