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Title: Rambles and Studies in Greece
Author: Mahaffy, J. P.
Language: English
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                              [Cover image]

                            RAMBLES IN GREECE

  [Illustration: The Acropolis, Athens]

                           RAMBLES AND STUDIES



                             J. P. MAHAFFY



                               HUNC LIBRUM
                         *Edmundo Wyatt Edgell*
                               OB INSIGNEM
                             OLIM DEDICATUM
                             CONSECRAT AUCTOR


Few men there are who having once visited Greece do not contrive to visit
it again. And yet when the returned traveller meets the ordinary friend
who asks him where he has been, the next remark is generally, “Dear me!
have you not been there before? How is it you are so fond of going to
Greece?” There are even people who imagine a trip to America far more
interesting, and who at all events look upon a trip to Spain as the same
kind of thing—southern climate, bad food, dirty inns, and general
discomfort, odious to bear, though pleasant to describe afterward in a
comfortable English home.

This is a very ignorant way of looking at the matter, for excepting
Southern Italy, there is no country which can compare with Greece in
beauty and interest to the intelligent traveller. It is not a land for
creature comforts, though the climate is splendid, and though the hotels
in Athens are as good as those in most European towns. It is not a land
for society, though the society at Athens is excellent, and far easier of
access than that of most European capitals. But if a man is fond of the
large effects of natural scenery, he will find in the Southern Alps and
fiords of Greece a variety and a richness of color which no other part of
Europe affords. If he is fond of the details of natural scenery, flowers,
shrubs, and trees, he will find the wild-flowers and flowering-trees of
Greece more varied than anything he has yet seen. If he desires to study
national character, and peculiar manners and customs, he will find in the
hardy mountaineers of Greece one of the most unreformed societies, hardly
yet affected by the great tide of sameness which is invading all Europe in
dress, fabrics, and usages. And yet, in spite of the folly still talked in
England about brigands, he will find that without troops, or police, or
patrols, or any of those melancholy safeguards which are now so obtrusive
in England and Ireland, life and property are as secure as they ever were
in our most civilized homes. Let him not know a word of history, or of
art, and he will yet be rewarded by all this natural enjoyment; perhaps
also, if he be a politician, he may study the unsatisfactory results of a
constitution made to order, and of a system of free education planted in a
nation of no political training, but of high intelligence.

Need I add that as to Cicero the whole land was one vast shrine of
hallowed memories—_quocunque incedis, historia est_—so to the man of
culture this splendor of associations has only increased with the lapse of
time and the greater appreciation of human perfection. Even were such a
land dead to all further change, and a mere record in its ruins of the
past, I know not that any man of reflection could satisfy himself with
contemplating it. Were he to revisit the Parthenon, as it stands, every
year of his life, it would always be fresh, it would always be
astonishing. But Greece is a growing country, both in its youth and in its
age. The rapid development of the nation is altering the face of the
country, establishing new roads and better communications, improving
knowledge among the people, and making many places accessible which were
before beyond the reach of brief holiday visits. The insecurity which
haunted the Turkish frontier has been pushed back to the north; new Alps
and new monasteries are brought within the range of Greece. And this is
nothing to what has been done in recovering the past. Every year there are
new excavations made, new treasures found, new problems in archæology
raised, old ones solved; and so at every visit there is a whole mass of
new matter for the student who feels he had not yet grasped what was
already there.

The traveller who revisits the country now after a lapse of four or five
years will find at Athens the Schliemann museum set up and in order, where
the unmatched treasures of Mycenæ are now displayed before his astonished
eyes. He will find an Egyptian museum of extraordinary merit—the gift of a
patriotic merchant of Alexandria—in which there are two figures—that of a
queen, in bronze and silver, and that of a slave kneading bread, in
wood—which alone would make the reputation of any collection throughout
Europe. In the Parthenon museum he will find the famous statuette, copied
from Phidias’s Athene, and the recent wonder, archaic statues on which the
brightness of the colors is not more astonishing than the moulding of the

And these are only the most salient novelties. It is indeed plain that
were not the new city covering the site of the old, discoveries at Athens
might be made perhaps every year, which would reform and enlarge our
knowledge of Greek life and history.

But Athens is rapidly becoming a great and rich city. It already numbers
110,000, without counting the Peiræus; accordingly, except in digging
foundations for new houses, it is not possible to find room for any
serious excavations. House rent is enormously high, and building is so
urgent that the ordinary mason receives eight to ten francs per day. This
rapid increase ought to be followed by an equal increase in the wealth of
the surrounding country, where all the little proprietors ought to turn
their land into market-gardens. I found that either they could not, or (as
I was told) they would not, keep pace with the increased wants of the
city. They are content with a little, and allow the city to be
supplied—badly and at great cost—from Salonica, Syra, Constantinople, and
the islands, while meat comes in tons from America. How different is the
country round Paris and London!

But this is a digression into vulgar matters, when I had merely intended
to inform the reader what intellectual novelties he would find in
revisiting Athens. For nothing is more slavish in modern travel than the
inability the student feels, for want of time in long journeys, or want of
control over his conveyance, to stop and examine something which strikes
him beside his path. And that is the main reason why Oriental—and as yet
Greek—travelling is the best and most instructive of all.

You can stop your pony or mule, you can turn aside from the track which is
called your road, you are not compelled to catch a train or a steamer at a
fixed moment. When roads and rails have been brought into Greece, hundreds
of people will go to see its beauty and its monuments, and will
congratulate themselves that the country is at last accessible. But the
real charm will be gone. There will be no more riding at dawn through
orchards of oranges and lemons, with the rich fruit lying on the ground,
and the nightingales, that will not end their exuberant melody, still
outsinging from the deep-green gloom the sounds of opening day. There will
be no more watching the glowing east cross the silver-gray glitter of dewy
meadows; no more wandering along grassy slopes, where the scarlet
anemones, all drenched with the dews of night, are striving to raise their
drooping heads and open their splendid eyes to meet the rising sun. There
will be no more watching the serpent and the tortoise, the eagle and the
vulture, and all the living things whose ways and habits animate the sunny
solitudes of the south. The Greek people now talk of going to Europe, and
coming from Europe, justly too, for Greece is still, as it always was,
part of the East. But the day is coming when enlightened politicians, like
Mr. Tricoupi, will insist on introducing through all the remotest glens
the civilization of Europe, with all its benefits forsooth, but with all
its shocking ugliness, its stupid hurry, and its slavish uniformity.

I will conclude with a warning to the archæologist, and one which applies
to all amateurs who go to visit excavations, and cannot see what has been
reported by the actual excavators. As no one is able to see what the
evidences of digging are, except the trained man, who knows not only
archæology, but architecture, and who has studied the accumulation of soil
in various places and forms, so the observer who comes to the spot after
some years, and expects to find all the evidences unchanged, commits a
blunder of the gravest kind. As Dr. Dörpfeld, now one of the highest
living authorities on such matters, observed to me, if you went to
Hissarlik expecting to find there clearly marked the various strata of
successive occupations, you would show that you were ignorant of the first
elements of practical knowledge. For in any climate, but especially in
these southern lands, Nature covers up promptly what has been exposed by
man; all sorts of plants spring up along and across the lines which in the
cutting when freshly made were clear and precise. In a few years the whole
place turns back again into a brake, or a grassy slope, and the report of
the actual diggers remains the only evidence till the soil is cut open
again in the same way. I saw myself, at Olympia, important lines
disappearing in this way. Dr. Purgold showed me where the line marking the
embankment of the stadium—it was never surrounded with any stone seats—was
rapidly becoming effaced, and where the plan of the foundations was being
covered with shrubs and grass. The day for visiting and verifying the
Trojan excavations is almost gone by. That of all the excavations will
pass away, if they are not carefully kept clear by some permanent
superintendence; and to expect this of the Greek nation, who know they
have endless more treasures to find in new places, is more than could
reasonably be expected. The proper safeguard is to do what Dr. Schliemann
does, to have with him not only the Greek ephoros or
superintendent—generally a very competent scholar, and sometimes not a
very friendly witness of foreign triumphs—but also a first-rate architect,
whose joint observation will correct any hastiness or misprision, and so
in the mouth of two or more witnesses every word will be confirmed.

In passing on I cannot but remark how strange it is that among the many
rich men in the world who profess an interest in archæology, not one can
be found to take up the work as Dr. Schliemann did, to enrich science with
splendid fields of new evidence, and illustrate art, not only with the
naïve efforts of its infancy, but with forgotten models of perfect and
peerless form.

This New Edition is framed with a view of still satisfying the demand for
the book as a traveller’s handbook, somewhat less didactic than the
official guide-books, somewhat also, I hope, more picturesque. For that
purpose I have added a new chapter on mediæval Greece, as well as many
paragraphs with new information, especially the ride over Mount
Erymanthus, pp. 343, _sqq._ I have corrected many statements which are now
antiquated by recent discoveries, and I have obliterated the traces of
controversy borne by the Second Edition. For the criticisms on the book
are dead, while the book survives. To me it is very pleasant to know that
many visitors to Greece have found it an agreeable companion.

_February, 1892_.


CHAP.                                                             PAGE
 III.   ATHENS—THE MUSEUMS—THE TOMBS                                55
  IV.   THE ACROPOLIS OF ATHENS                                     89
   X.   ARACHOVA—DELPHI—THE BAY OF KIRRHA                          274
 XIV.   KYNURIA—SPARTA—MESSENE                                     435
  XV.   MYCENÆ AND TIRYNS                                          456
 XVI.   MEDIÆVAL GREECE                                            492

        INDEX                                                      531

                          LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

                    Photogravures by A. W. ELSON & CO.

THE ACROPOLIS, ATHENS                                _Frontispiece_
THE ERECHTHEUM FROM THE WEST, ATHENS                             36
A TOMB FROM THE VIA SACRA, ATHENS                                78
THEATRE OF DIONYSUS, ATHENS                                     122
MARS’ HILL, ATHENS                                              140
THE PEIRÆUS                                                     160
LAURIUM                                                         168
MOUNT LYCABETTUS, ATHENS                                        188
SALAMIS, FROM ACROSS THE BAY                                    206
TEMPLE OF MYSTERIES, ELEUSIS                                    212
A GREEK SHEPHERD, OLYMPIA                                       274
THE TEMPLE OF APOLLO, DELPHI                                    284
THE BANKS OF THE KLADEUS                                        302
STATUE OF NIKÉ, BY PÆONIUS                                      306
KRONION HILL, OLYMPIA                                           318
ENTRANCE TO THE STADIUM, OLYMPIA                                330
THE VALLEY OF THE ALPHEUS                                       342
A GREEK PEASANT IN NATIONAL COSTUME                             380
TEMPLE OF CORINTH                                               392
GALLERY AT TIRYNS                                               406
THE PALAMEDI, NAUPLIA                                           424
SCULPTURED LION, NAUPLIA                                        428
LANGADA PASS                                                    446
ARCADIAN GATEWAY, MESSENE                                       452
THE ARGIVE PLAIN                                                458
LION GATE, MYCENÆ                                               472


                                CHAPTER I.


A voyage to Greece does not at first sight seem a great undertaking. We
all go to and fro to Italy as we used to go to France. A trip to Rome, or
even to Naples, is now an Easter holiday affair. And is not Greece very
close to Italy on the map? What signifies the narrow sea that divides
them? This is what a man might say who only considered geography, and did
not regard the teaching of history. For the student of history cannot look
upon these two peninsulas without being struck with the fact that they
are, historically speaking, turned back to back; that while the face of
Italy is turned westward, and looks towards France and Spain, and across
to us, the face of Greece looks eastward, towards Asia Minor and towards
Egypt. Every great city in Italy, except Venice, approaches or borders the
Western Sea—Genoa, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Naples. All the older history of
Rome, its development, its glories, lie on the west of the Apennines. When
you cross them you come to what is called the back of Italy; and you feel
that in that flat country, and that straight coast-line, you are separated
from its true beauty and charm.(1) Contrariwise, in Greece, the whole
weight and dignity of its history gravitate towards the eastern coast. All
its great cities—Athens, Thebes, Corinth, Argos, Sparta—are on that side.
Their nearest neighbors were the coast cities of Asia Minor and of the
Cyclades, but the western coasts were to them harborless and strange. If
you pass Cape Malea, they said, then forget your home.

So it happens that the coasts of Italy and Greece, which look so near, are
outlying and out-of-the way parts of the countries to which they belong;
and if you want to go straight from real Italy to real Greece, the longest
way is that from Brindisi to Corfu, for you must still journey across
Italy to Brindisi, and from Corfu to Athens. The shortest way is to take
ship at Naples, and to be carried round Italy and round Greece, from the
centres of culture on the west of Italy to the centres of culture (such as
they are) on the east of Greece. But this is no trifling passage. When the
ship has left the coasts of Calabria, and steers into the open sea, you
feel that you have at last left the west of Europe, and are setting sail
for the Eastern Seas. You are, moreover, in an open sea—the furious
Adriatic—in which I have seen storms which would be creditable to the
Atlantic Ocean, and which at times forbid even steam navigation.

I may anticipate for a moment here, and say that even now the face of
Athens is turned, as of old, to the East. Her trade and her communications
are through the Levant. Her chief intercourse is with Constantinople, and
Smyrna, and Syra, and Alexandria.

This curious parallel between ancient and modern geographical attitudes in
Greece is, no doubt, greatly due to the now bygone Turkish rule. In
addition to other contrasts, Mohammedan rule and Eastern jealousy—long
unknown in Western Europe—first jarred upon the traveller when he touched
the coasts of Greece; and this dependency was once really part of a great
Asiatic Empire, where all the interests and communications gravitated
eastward, and away from the Christian and better civilized West. The
revolution which expelled the Turks was unable to root out the ideas which
their subjects had learned; and so, in spite of Greek hatred of the Turk,
his influence still lives through Greece in a thousand ways.

For many hours after the coasts of Calabria had faded into the night, and
even after the snowy dome of Etna was lost to view, our ship steamed
through the open sea, with no land in sight; but we were told that early
in the morning, at the very break of dawn, the coasts of Greece would be
visible. So, while others slept, I started up at half-past three, eager to
get the earliest possible sight of the land which still occupies so large
a place in our thoughts. It was a soft gray morning; the sky was covered
with light, broken clouds; the deck was wet with a passing shower, of
which the last drops were still flying in the air; and before us, some ten
miles away, the coasts and promontories of the Peloponnesus were reaching
southward into the quiet sea. These long serrated ridges did not look
lofty, in spite of their snow-clad peaks, nor did they look inhospitable,
in spite of their rough outline, but were all toned in harmonious color—a
deep purple blue, with here and there, on the far Arcadian peaks, and on
the ridge of Mount Taygetus, patches of pure snow. In contrast to the
large sweeps of the Italian coast, its open seas, its long waves of
mountain, all was here broken, and rugged, and varied. The sea was studded
with rocky islands, and the land indented with deep, narrow bays. I can
never forget the strong and peculiar impression of that first sight of
Greece; nor can I cease to wonder at the strange likeness which rose in my
mind, and which made me think of the bays and rocky coasts of the west and
south-west of Ireland. There was the same cloudy, showery sky, which is so
common there; there was the same serrated outline of hills, the same
richness in promontories, and rocky islands, and land-locked bays. Nowhere
have I seen a light purple color, except in the wilds of Kerry and
Connemara; and though the general height of the Greek mountains, as the
snow in May testified, was far greater than that of the Irish hills, yet
on that morning, and in that light, they looked low and homely, not
displaying their grandeur, or commanding awe and wonder, but rather
attracting the sight by their wonderful grace, and by their variety and
richness of outline and color.

I stood there, I know not how long—without guide or map—telling myself the
name of each mountain and promontory, and so filling out the idle names
and outlines of many books with the fresh reality itself. There was the
west coast of Elis, as far north as the eye could reach—the least
interesting part of the view, as it was of the history, of Greece; then
the richer and more varied outline of Messene, with its bay, thrice famous
at great intervals, and yet for long ages feeding idly on that fame;
Pylos, Sphacteria, Navarino—each a foremost name in Hellenic history.
Above the bay could be seen those rich slopes which the Spartans coveted
of old, and which, as I saw them, were covered with golden corn. The three
headlands which give to the Peloponnesus “its plane-leaf form,”(2) were as
yet lying parallel before us, and their outline confused; but the great
crowd of heights and intersecting chains, which told at once the Alpine
character of the peninsula, called to mind the other remark of the
geographer, in which he calls it the Acropolis of Greece. The words of old
Herodotus, too, rise in the mind with new reality, when he talks of the
poor and stony soil of the country as a “rugged nurse of liberty.”

For the nearer the ship approaches, the more this feature comes out;
increased, no doubt, greatly in later days by depopulation and general
decay, when many arable tracts have lain desolate, but still at all times
necessary, when a large proportion of the country consists of rocky peaks
and precipices, where a goat may graze, but where the eagle builds secure
from the hand of man. The coast, once teeming with traffic, is now lonely
and deserted. A single sail in the large gulf of Koron, and a few
miserable huts, discernible with a telescope, only added to the feeling of
solitude. It was, indeed, “Greece, but living Greece no more.” Even the
pirates, who sheltered in these creeks and mountains, have abandoned this
region, in which there is nothing now to plunder.(3)

But as we crossed the mouth of the gulf, the eye fastened with delight on
distant white houses along the high ground of the eastern side—in other
words, along the mountain slopes which run out into the promontory of
Tainaron; and a telescope soon brought them into distinctness, and gave us
the first opportunity of discussing modern Greek life. We stood off the
coast of Maina—the home of those Mainotes whom Byron has made so famous as
pirates, as heroes, as lovers, as murderers; and even now, when the
stirring days of war and of piracy have passed away, the whole district
retains the aspect of a country in a state of siege or of perpetual
danger. Instead of villages surrounded by peaceful homesteads, each
Mainote house, though standing alone, was walled in, and in the centre was
a high square tower, in which, according to trustworthy travellers, the
Mainote men used to spend their day watching their enemies, while only the
women and children ventured out to till the fields. For these fierce
mountaineers were not only perpetually defying the Turkish power, which
was never able to subdue them thoroughly, but they were all engaged at
home with internecine feuds, of which the origin was often forgotten, but
of which the consequences remained in the form of vengeance due for the
life of a kinsman. When this was exacted on one side, the obligation
changed to the other; and so for generation after generation they spent
their lives in either seeking or avoiding vengeance. This more than
Corsican _vendetta_(4) was, by a sort of mediæval chivalry, prohibited to
the women and children, who were thus in perfect safety, while their
husbands and fathers were in daily and deadly danger.

They are considered the purest in blood of all the Greeks, though it does
not appear that their dialect approaches old Greek nearer than those of
their neighbors; but for beauty of person, and independence of spirit,
they rank first among the inhabitants of the Peloponnesus, and most
certainly they must have among them a good deal of the old Messenian
blood. Most of the country is barren, but there are orange woods, which
yield the most delicious fruit—a fruit so large and rich that it makes all
other oranges appear small and tasteless. The country is now perfectly
safe for visitors, and the people extremely hospitable, though the diet is
not very palatable to the northern traveller.

So with talk and anecdote about the Mainotes—for every one was now upon
deck and sight-seeing—we neared the classic headland of Tainaron, almost
the southern point of Europe, once the site of a great temple of
Poseidon—not preserved to us, like its sister monument on Sunium—and once,
too, the entry to the regions of the dead. And, as if to remind us of its
most beautiful legend, the dolphins, which had befriended Arion of old,
and carried him here to land, rose in the calm summer sea, and came
playing round the ship, showing their quaint forms above the water, and
keeping with our course, as it were an escort into the homely seas and
islands of truer Greece. Strangely enough, in many other journeys through
Greek waters, once again only did we see these dolphins; and here as
elsewhere, the old legend, I suppose, based itself upon the fact that
this, of all their wide domain, was the favorite resort of these
creatures, with which the poets of old felt so strong a sympathy.

But, while the dolphins have been occupying our attention, we have cleared
Cape Matapan, and the deep Gulf of Asine and Gythium—in fact, the Gulf of
Sparta is open to our view. We strained our eyes to discover the features
of “hollow Lacedæmon,” and to take in all the outline of this famous bay,
through which so many Spartans had held their course in the days of their
greatness. The site of Sparta is far from the sea, probably twelve or
fifteen miles; but the place is marked for every spectator, throughout all
the Peloponnesus and its coasts, by the jagged top of Mount Taygetus, even
in June covered with snow. Through the forests upon its slopes the young
Spartans would hunt all day with their famous Laconian hounds, and after a
rude supper beguile the evening with stories of their dangers and their
success. But, as might be expected, of the five villages which made up the
famous city, few vestiges remain. The old port of Gythium is still a port;
but here, too, the “wet ways,” and that sea once covered with boats, which
a Greek comic poet has called the “ants of the sea,” have been deserted.

We were a motley company on board—Russians, Greeks, Turks, French,
English; and it was not hard to find pleasant companions and diverting
conversation among them all. I turned to a Turkish gentleman, who spoke
French indifferently. “Is it not,” said I, “a great pity to see this fair
coast so desolate?” “A great pity, indeed,” said he; “but what can you
expect from these Greeks? They are all pirates and robbers; they are all
liars and knaves. Had the Turks been allowed to hold possession of the
country they would have improved it and developed its resources; but since
the Greeks became independent everything has gone to ruin. Roads are
broken up, communications abandoned; the people emigrate and disappear—in
fact, nothing prospers.”

Presently, I got beside a Greek gentleman, from whom I was anxiously
picking up the first necessary phrases and politenesses of modern Greek,
and, by way of amusement, put to him the same question. I got the answer I
expected. “Ah!” said he, “the Turks, the Turks! When I think how these
miscreants have ruined our beautiful country! How could a land thrive or
prosper under such odious tyranny?” I ventured to suggest that the Turks
were now gone five and forty years, and that it was high time to see the
fruits of recovered liberty in the Greeks. No, it was still too soon. The
Turks had cut down all the woods, and so ruined the climate; they had
destroyed the cities, broken up the roads, encouraged the bandits—in fact,
they had left the country in such a state that centuries would not cure

The verdict of Europe is in favor of the Greek gentleman; but it might
have been suggested, had we been so disposed, that the greatest and the
most hopeless of all these sorrows—the utter depopulation of the
country—is not due to either modern Greeks or Turks, nor even to the Slav
hordes of the Middle Ages. It was a calamity which came upon Greece almost
suddenly, immediately after the loss of her independence, and which
historians and physiologists have as yet been only partially able to

Of this very coast upon which we were then gazing, the geographer Strabo,
about the time of Christ, says, “that of old, Lacedæmon had numbered one
hundred cities; in his day there were but ten remaining.” So, then, the
sum of the crimes of both Greeks and Turks may be diminished by one. But
I, perceiving that each of them would have been extremely indignant at
this historical palliation of the other’s guilt, “kept silence, even from
good words.”

These dialogues beguiled us till we found ourselves, almost suddenly,
facing the promontory of Malea, with the island of Cythera (Cerigo) on our
right. The island is little celebrated in history. The Phœnicians seem, in
very old times, to have had a settlement there for the working of their
purple shell-fishery, for which the coasts of Laconia were celebrated; and
they doubtless founded there the worship of the Sidonian goddess, who was
transformed by the Greeks into Aphrodite (Venus). During the Peloponnesian
War we hear of the Athenians using it as a station for their fleet, when
they were ravaging the adjacent coasts. It was, in fact, used by their
naval power as the same sort of blister (_ἐπιτείχισις_) on Sparta that
Dekelea was when occupied by the Spartans in Attica.

Cape Malea is more famous. It was in olden days the limit of the homely
Greek waters, the bar to all fair weather and regular winds—a place of
storms and wrecks, and the portal to an inhospitable open sea; and we can
well imagine the delight of the adventurous trader who had dared to cross
the Western Seas, to gather silver and lead in the mines of Spain, when he
rounded the dreaded Cape, homeward bound in his heavy-laden ship, and
looked back from the quiet Ægean. The barren and rocky Cape has its new
feature now. On the very extremity there is a little platform, at some
elevation over the water, and only accessible with great difficulty from
the land by a steep goat-path. Here a hermit built himself a tiny hut,
cultivated his little plot of corn, and lived out in the lone seas, with
no society but stray passing ships.(6) When Greece was thickly peopled he
might well have been compelled to seek loneliness here; but now, when in
almost any mountain chain he could find solitude and desolation enough, it
seems as if that poetic instinct which so often guides the ignorant and
unconscious anchorite had sent him to this spot, which combines, in a
strange way, solitude and publicity, and which excites the curiosity, but
forbids the intrusion, of every careless passenger to the East.

So we passed into the Ægean, the real thoroughfare of the Greeks, the
mainstay of their communication—a sea, and yet not a sea, but the frame of
countless headlands and islands, which are ever in view to give confidence
to the sailor in the smallest boat. The most striking feature in our view
was the serrated outline of the mountains of Crete, far away to the S. E.
Though the day was gray and cloudy, the atmosphere was perfectly clear,
and allowed us to see these very distant Alps, on which the snow still lay
in great fields. The chain of Ida brought back to us the old legends of
Minos and his island kingdom, nor could any safer seat of empire be
imagined for a power coming from the south than this great long bar of
mountains, to which half the islands of the Ægean could pass a fire signal
in times of war or piracy.(7) The legends preserved to us of Minos—the
human sacrifices to the Minotaur—the hostility to Theseus—the
identification of Ariadne with the legends of Bacchus, so eastern and
orgiastic in character—make us feel, with a sort of instinctive certainty,
that the power of Minos was no Hellenic empire, but one of Phœnicians,
from which, as afterwards from Carthage, they commanded distant coasts and
islands, for the purposes of trade. They settled, as we know, at Corinth,
at Thebes, and probably at Athens, in the days of their greatness, but
they seem always to have been strangers and sojourners there, while in
Crete they kept the stronghold of their power. Thucydides thinks that
Minos’s main object was to put down piracy, and protect commerce; and this
is probably the case, though we are without evidence on the point. The
historian evidently regards this old Cretan empire as the older model of
the Athenian, but settled in a far more advantageous place, and not liable
to the dangers which proved the ruin of Athens.

The nearer islands were small, and of no reputation, but each like a
mountain top reaching out of a submerged valley, stony and bare. Melos was
farther off, but quite distinct—the old scene of Athenian violence and
cruelty, to Thucydides so impressive, that he dramatizes the incidents,
and passes from cold narrative and set oration to a dialogue between the
oppressors and the oppressed. Melian starvation was long proverbial among
the Greeks, and there the fashionable and aristocratic Alcibiades applied
the arguments and carried out the very policy which the tanner Cleon could
not propose without being pilloried by the great historian whom he made
his foe. This and other islands, which were always looked upon by the
mainland Greeks with some contempt, have of late days received special
attention from archæologists. It is said that the present remains of the
old Greek type are now to be found among the islanders—an observation
which I found fully justified by a short sojourn at Ægina, where the very
types of the Parthenon frieze can be found among the inhabitants, if the
traveller will look for them diligently. The noblest and most perfect type
of Greek beauty has, indeed, come to us from Melos, but not in real life.
It is the celebrated Venus of Melos—the most pure and perfect image we
know of that goddess, and one which puts to shame the lower ideals so much
admired in the museums of Italy.(8)

Another remark should be made in justice to the islands, that the groups
of Therasia and Santorin, which lie round the crater of a great active
volcano, have supplied us not only with the oldest forms of the Greek
alphabet in their inscriptions, but with far the oldest vestiges of
inhabitants in any part of Greece. In these, beneath the lava slopes
formed by a great eruption—an eruption earlier than any history, except,
perhaps, Egyptian—have been found the dwellings, the implements, and the
bones of men who cannot have lived there much later than 2000 B. C. The
arts, as well as the implements, of these old dwellers in their Stone Age,
have shown us how very ancient Greek forms, and even Greek decorations,
are in the world’s history: and we may yet from them and from further
researches, such as Schliemann’s, be able to reconstruct the state of
things in Greece before the Greeks came from their Eastern homes. The
special reason why these inquiries seem to me likely to lead to good
result is this, that what is called neo-barbarism is less likely to
mislead us here than elsewhere. Neo-barbarism means the occurrence in
later times of the manners and customs which generally mark very old and
primitive times. Some few things of this kind survive everywhere; thus, in
the Irish Island of Arran, a group of famous _savants_ mistook a stone
donkey-shed of two years’ standing for the building of an extinct race in
gray antiquity: as a matter of fact, the construction had not changed from
the oldest type. But the spread of culture, and the fulness of population
in the good days of Greece, make it certain that every spot about the
thoroughfares was improved and civilized; and so, as I have said, there is
less chance here than anywhere of our being deceived into mistaking
rudeness for oldness, and raising a modern savage to the dignity of a
primæval man.

But we must not allow speculations to spoil our observations, nor waste
the precious moments given us to take in once for all the general outline
of the Greek coasts. While the long string of islands, from Melos up to
the point of Attica, framed in our view to the right, to the left the
great bay of Argolis opened far into the land, making a sort of vista into
the Peloponnesus, so that the mountains of Arcadia could be seen far to
the west standing out against the setting sun; for the day was now
clearer—the clouds began to break, and let us feel touches of the sun’s
heat towards evening. As we passed Hydra, the night began to close about
us, and we were obliged to make out the rest of our geography with the aid
of a rich full moon.

But these Attic waters, if I may so call them, will be mentioned again and
again in the course of our voyage, and need not now be described in
detail. The reader will, I think, get the clearest notion of the size of
Greece by reflecting upon the time required to sail round the Peloponnesus
in a good steamer. The ship in which we made the journey—the _Donnai_, of
the French Messagerie Company,—made about eight miles an hour. Coming
within close range of the coast of Messene, about five o’clock in the
morning, we rounded all the headlands, and arrived at the Peiræus about
eleven o’clock the same night. So, then, the Peloponnesus is a small
peninsula, but even to an outside view “very large for its size;” for the
actual climbing up and down of constant mountains, in any land journey
from place to place, makes the distance in miles very much greater than
the line as the crow flies. If I said that every ordinary distance, as
measured on the map, is doubled in the journey, I believe I should be
under the mark.

It may be well to add a word here upon the other route into Greece, that
by Brindisi and the Ionian Islands. It is fully as picturesque, in some
respects more so, for there is no more beautiful bay than the long fiord
leading up to Corinth, which passes Patras, Vostitza, and Itea, the port
of Delphi. The Akrokeraunian mountains, which are the first point of the
Albanian coast seen by the traveller, are also very striking, and no one
can forget the charms and beauties of Corfu. I think a market-day in
Corfu, with those royal-looking peasant lads, who come clothed in
sheepskins from the coast, and spend their day handling knives and
revolvers with peculiar interest at the stalls, is among the most
picturesque sights to be seen in Europe. The lofty mountains of Ithaca and
its greater sister, and then the rich belt of verdure along the east side
of Zante—all these features make this journey one of surpassing beauty and
interest. Yet notwithstanding all these advantages, there is not the same
excitement in first approaching semi-Greek or outlying Greek settlements,
and only gradually arriving at the real centres of historic interest. Such
at least was the feeling (shared by other observers) which I had in
approaching Greece by this more varied route. No traveller, however, is
likely to miss either, as it is obviously best to enter by one route and
depart by the other, in a voyage not intended to reach beyond Greece. But
from what I have said, it may be seen that I prefer to enter by the direct
route from Naples, and to leave by the Gulf of Corinth and the Ionian
Islands. I trust that ere long arrangements may be made for permitting
travellers who cross the isthmus to make an excursion to the
Akrokorinthus—the great citadel of Corinth—which they are now compelled to
hurry past, in order to catch the boat for Athens.

The modern Patras, still a thriving port, is now the main point of contact
between Greece and the rest of Europe. For, as a railway has now been
opened from Patras to Athens, all the steamers from Brindisi, Venice, and
Trieste put in there, and from thence the stream of travellers proceeds by
the new line to the capital. The old plan of steaming up the long fiord to
Corinth is abandoned; still more the once popular route round the Morea,
which, if somewhat slower, at least saved the unshipping at Lechæum, the
drive in omnibuses across the isthmus, and reshipment at Cenchreæ—all done
with much confusion, and with loss and damage to luggage and temper. Not
that there is no longer confusion. The railway station at Patras, and that
at Athens, are the most curious bear-gardens in which business ever was
done. The traveller (I speak of the year of our Lord 1889) is informed
that unless he is there an hour before the time he will not get his
luggage weighed and despatched. And when he comes down from his
comfortable hotel to find out what it all means, he meets the whole
population of the town in possession of the station. Everybody who has
nothing to do gets in the way of those who have; everything is full of
noise and confusion.

At last the train steams out of the station, and takes its deliberate way
along the coast, through woods of fir trees, bushes of arbutus and mastic,
and the many flowers which stud the earth. And here already the traveller,
looking out of the window, can form an idea of the delights of real Greek
travel, by which he must understand mounting a mule or pony, and making
his way along woody paths, or beside the quiet sea, or up the steep side
of a rocky defile. Every half-hour the train crosses torrents coming from
the mountains, which in flood times color the sea for some distance with
the brilliant brick-red of the clay they carry with them from their banks.
The peacock blue of the open sea bounds this red water with a definite
line, and the contrast in the bright sun is something very startling.
Shallow banks of sand also reflect their pale yellow in many places, so
that the brilliancy of this gulf exceeds anything I had ever seen in sea
or lake. We pass the sites of Ægion, now Vostitza, once famous as the
capital or centre (politically) of the Achæan League. We pass Sicyon, the
home of Aratus, the great regenerator, the mean destroyer of that League,
as you can still read in Plutarch’s fascinating life of the man. But these
places, like so many others in Greece, once famous, have now no trace of
their greatness left above ground. The day may, however, still come when
another Schliemann will unearth the records and fragments of a
civilization distinguished even in Greece for refinement. Sicyon was a
famous school of art. Painting and sculpture flourished there, and there
was a special school of Sicyon, whose features we can still recognize in
extant copies of the famous statues they produced. There is a statue known
as the Canon Statue, a model of human proportions, which was the work of
the famous Polycleitus of Sicyon, and which we know from various
imitations preserved at Rome and elsewhere. But we shall return in due
time to Greek sculpture as a whole, and shall not interrupt our journey at
this moment.

All that we have passed through hitherto may be classed under the title of
“first impressions.” The wild northern coast shows us but one inlet, of
the Gulf of Salona, with a little port of Itea at its mouth. This was the
old highway to ascend to the oracle of Delphi on the snowy Parnassus,
which we shall approach better from the Bœotian side. But now we strain
our eyes to behold the great rock of Corinth, and to invade this, the
first great centre of Greek life, which closes the long bay at its
westernmost end.

I will add a word upon the form and scope of the following work. My aim is
to bring the living features of Greece home to the student, by connecting
them, as far as possible, with the facts of older history, which are so
familiar to most of us. I shall also have a good deal to say about the
modern politics of Greece, and the character of the modern population. A
long and careful survey of the extant literature of ancient Greece has
convinced me that the pictures usually drawn of the old Greeks are
idealized, and that the real people were of a very different—if you
please, of a much lower—type. I may mention, as a very remarkable
confirmation of my judgment, that intelligent people at Athens, who had
read my opinions elsewhere set forth upon the subject,(9) were so much
struck with the close resemblance of my pictures of the old Greeks to the
present inhabitants, that they concluded that I must have visited the
country before writing these opinions, and that I was, in fact, drawing my
classical people from the life of the moderns. If this is not a proof of
the justice of these views, it at least strongly suggests that they may be
true, and is a powerful support in arguing the matter on the perfectly
independent ground of the inferences from old literature. After all,
national characteristics are very permanent, and very hard to shake off,
and it would seem strange, indeed, if both these and the Greek language
should have remained almost intact, and yet the race have either changed,
or been saturated with foreign blood. Foreign invasions and foreign
conquests of Greece were common enough; but here, as elsewhere, the
climate and circumstances which have formed a race seem to conspire to
preserve it, and to absorb foreign types and features, rather than to
permit the extinction or total change of the older race.

I feel much fortified in my judgment of Greek character by finding that a
very smart, though too sarcastic, observer, M. E. About, in his well-known
_Grèce contemporaine_, estimates the people very nearly as I am disposed
to estimate the common people of ancient Greece. He notices, in the second
and succeeding chapters of his book, a series of features which make this
nationality a very distinct one in Europe. Starting from the question of
national beauty, and holding rightly that the beauty of the men is greater
than that of the women, he touches on a point which told very deeply upon
all the history of Greek art. At the present day, the Greek men are much
more particular about their appearance, and more vain of it, than the
women. The most striking beauty among them is that of young men; and as to
the care of figure, as About well observes, in Greece it is the men who
pinch their waists—a fashion unknown among Greek women. Along with this
handsome appearance, the people are, without doubt, a very temperate
people; although they make a great deal of strong wine, they seldom drink
much, and are far more critical about good water than wine. Indeed, in so
warm a climate, wine is disagreeable even to the northern traveller; and,
as Herodotus remarked long ago, very likely to produce insanity, the
rarest form of disease among the Greeks. In fact, they are not a
passionate race—having at all ages been gifted with a very bright
intellect, and a great reasonableness; they have an intellectual insight
into things, which is inconsistent with the storms of wilder passion.

They are, probably, as clever a people as can be found in the world, and
fit for any mental work whatever. This they have proved, not only by
getting into their hands all the trade of the Eastern Mediterranean, but
by holding their own perfectly among English merchants in England. As yet
they have not found any encouragement in other directions; but there can
be no doubt that, if settled among a great people, and weaned from the
follies and jealousies of Greek politics, they would (like the Jews)
outrun many of us, both in politics and in science. However that may
be—and perhaps such a development requires moral qualities in which they
seem deficient—it is certain that their workmen learn trades with
extraordinary quickness; while their young commercial or professional men
acquire languages, and the amount of knowledge necessary for making money,
with the most singular aptness. But as yet they are stimulated chiefly by
the love of gain.

Besides this, they have great national pride, and, as M. About remarks, we
need never despair of a people who are at the same time intelligent and
proud. They are very fond of displaying their knowledge on all points—I
noted especially their pride in exhibiting their acquaintance with old
Greek history and legend. When I asked them whether they believed the old
mythical stories which they repeated, they seemed afraid of being thought
simple if they confessed that they did, and of injuring the reputation of
their ancestors if they declared they did not. So they used to preserve a
discreet neutrality.

The instinct of liberty appears to me as strong in the nation now as it
ever was. In fact, the people have never been really enslaved. The eternal
refuge for liberty afforded by the sea and the mountains has saved them
from this fate; and, even beneath the heavy yoke of the Turks, a large
part of the nation was not subdued, but, in the guise of bandits and
pirates, enjoyed the great privilege for which their ancestors had
contended so earnestly. The Mainotes, for example, of whom I have just
spoken as occupying the coast of Messene, never tolerated any resident
Turkish magistrate among them, but “handed to a trembling tax-collector a
little purse of gold pieces, hung on the end of a naked sword.”(10) Now,
the whole nation is more intensely and thoroughly democratic than any
other in Europe. They acknowledge no nobility save that of descent from
the chiefs who fought in the war of liberation; they will allow no
distinction of classes; every common mule-boy is a gentleman (_κύριος_),
and fully your equal. He sits in the room at meals, and joins in the
conversation at dinner. They only tolerate a king because they cannot
endure one of themselves as their superior. This jealousy is,
unfortunately, a mainspring of Greek politics, and when combined with a
dislike of agriculture, as a stupid and unintellectual occupation, fills
all the country with politicians, merchants, and journalists. Moreover,
they want the spirit of subordination of their great ancestors, and are
often accused of lack of honesty—a very grave feature, and the greatest
obstacle to progress in all ages. It is better, however, to let points of
character come out gradually in the course of our studies than to bring
them together into an official portrait. It is impossible to wander
through the country without seeing and understanding the inhabitants; for
the traveller is in constant contact with them, and they have no scruple
in displaying all their character.

M. About has earned the profound hatred and contempt of the nation by his
picture, and I do not wonder at it, seeing that the tone in which he
writes is flippant and ill-natured, and seems to betoken certain private
animosities, of which the Greeks tell numerous anecdotes.

I have no such excuse for being severe or ill-natured, as I found nothing
but kindness and hospitality everywhere, and sincerely hope that my free
judgments may not hurt any sensitive Greek who may chance to see them.
Even the great Finlay—one of their best friends—is constantly censured by
them for his writings about Modern Greece.

But, surely, any real lover of Greece must feel that plain speaking about
the faults of the nation is much wanted. The worship lavished upon them by
Byron and his school has done its good, and can now only do harm. On the
other hand, I must confess that a longer and more intimate intercourse
with the Greeks of the interior and of the mountains leads a fair observer
to change his earlier estimate, and think more highly of the nation than
at first acquaintance. Unfortunately, the Greeks known to most of us are
sailors—mongrel villains from the ports of the Levant, having very little
in common with the bold, honest, independent peasant who lives under his
vine and his fig-tree in the valleys of Arcadia or of Phocis. It was, no
doubt, an intimate knowledge of the sound core of the nation which
inspired Byron with that enthusiasm which many now think extravagant and
misplaced. But here, as elsewhere, the folly of a great genius has more
truth in it than the wisdom of his feebler critics.

                               CHAPTER II.


There is probably no more exciting voyage, to any educated man, than the
approach to Athens from the sea. Every promontory, every island, every
bay, has its history. If he knows the map of Greece, he needs no
guide-book or guide to distract him; if he does not, he needs little Greek
to ask of any one near him the name of this or that object; and the mere
names are sufficient to stir up all his classical recollections. But he
must make up his mind not to be shocked at _Ægina_ or _Phalerum_, and even
to be told that he is utterly wrong in his way of pronouncing them.

It was our fortune to come into Greece by night, with a splendid moon
shining upon the summer sea. The varied outlines of Sunium on the one
side, and Ægina on the other, were very clear, but in the deep shadows
there was mystery enough to feed the burning impatience to see it all in
the light of common day; and though we had passed Ægina, and had come over
against the rocky Salamis, as yet there was no sign of Peiræus. Then came
the light on Psyttalea, and they told us that the harbor was right
opposite. Yet we came nearer and nearer, and no harbor could be seen. The
barren rocks of the coast seemed to form one unbroken line, and nowhere
was there a sign of indentation or of break in the land. But, suddenly, as
we turned from gazing on Psyttalea, where the flower of the Persian nobles
had once stood in despair, looking upon their fate gathering about them,
the vessel had turned eastward, and discovered to us the crowded lights
and thronging ships of the famous harbor. Small it looked, very small, but
evidently deep to the water’s edge, for great ships seemed touching the
shore; and so narrow is the mouth that we almost wondered how they had
made their entrance in safety. But we saw it some weeks later, with nine
men-of-war towering above all its merchant shipping and its steamers, and
among them crowds of ferry-boats skimming about in the breeze with their
wing-like sails. Then we found out that, like the rest of Greece, the
Peiræus was far larger than it looked.

  [Illustration: Along the Coast from the Throne of Xerxes]

It differed little, alas! from more vulgar harbors in the noise and
confusion of disembarking; in the delays of its custom house; in the
extortion and insolence of its boatmen. It is still, as in Plato’s day,
“the haunt of sailors, where good manners are unknown.” But when we had
escaped the turmoil, and were seated silently on the way to Athens, almost
along the very road of classical days, all our classical notions, which
had been scared away by vulgar bargaining and protesting, regained their
sway. We had sailed in through the narrow passage where almost every great
Greek that ever lived had sometime passed; now we went along the line,
hardly less certain, which had seen all these great ones going to and fro
between the city and the port. The present road is shaded with great
silver poplars and plane trees, and the moon had set, so that our approach
to Athens was even more mysterious than our approach to the Peiræus. We
were, moreover, perplexed at our carriage stopping under some large plane
trees, though we had driven but two miles, and the night was far spent.
Our coachman would listen to no advice or persuasion. We learned
afterwards that every carriage going to and from the Peiræus stops at this
half-way house, that the horses may drink, and the coachman take “Turkish
delight” and water. There is no exception made to this custom, and the
traveller is bound to submit. At last we entered the unpretending
ill-built streets at the west of Athens.

The stillness of the night is a phenomenon hardly known in that city. No
sooner have men and horses gone to rest than all the dogs and cats of the
town come out to bark and yell about the thoroughfares. Athens, like all
parts of modern Greece, abounds in dogs. You cannot pass a sailing boat in
the Levant without seeing a dog looking angrily over the taffrail, and
barking at you as you pass. Every ship in the Peiræus has at least one,
often a great many, on board. I suppose every house in Athens is provided
with one. These creatures seem to make it their business to prevent
silence and rest all the night long. They were ably seconded by cats and
crowing cocks, as well as by an occasional wakeful donkey; and both cats
and donkeys seemed to have voices of almost tropical violence.

So the night wore away under rapidly growing adverse impressions. How is a
man to admire art and revere antiquity if he is robbed of his repose? The
Greeks sleep so much in the day that they seem indifferent about nightly
disturbances; and, perhaps, after many years’ habit, even Athenian
caterwauling may fail to rouse the sleeper. But what chance has the
passing traveller? Even the strongest ejaculations are but a narrow outlet
for his feelings.

In this state of mind, then, I rose at the break of dawn to see whether
the window would afford any prospect to serve as a requital for angry
sleeplessness. And there, right opposite, stood the rock which of all
rocks in the world’s history has done most for literature and art—the rock
which poets, and orators, and architects, and historians have ever
glorified, and cannot stay their praise—which is ever new and ever old,
ever fresh in its decay, ever perfect in its ruin, ever living in its
death—the Acropolis of Athens.

When I saw my dream and longing of many years fulfilled, the first rays of
the rising sun had just touched the heights, while the town below was
still hid in gloom. Rock, and rampart, and ruined fanes—all were colored
in uniform tints; the lights were of a deep rich orange, and the shadows
of dark crimson, with the deeper lines of purple. There was no variety in
color between what nature and what man had set there. No whiteness shone
from the marble, no smoothness showed upon the hewn and polished blocks;
but the whole mass of orange and crimson stood out together into the pale,
pure Attic air. There it stood, surrounded by lanes and hovels, still
perpetuating the great old contrast in Greek history, of magnificence and
meanness—of loftiness and lowness—as well in outer life as in inward
motive. And, as it were in illustration of that art of which it was the
most perfect bloom, and which lasted in perfection but a day of history, I
saw it again and again, in sunlight and in shade, in daylight and at
night, but never again in this perfect and singular beauty.

If we except the Acropolis, there are only two striking buildings of
classical antiquity within the modern town of Athens—the Temple of Theseus
and the few standing columns of Hadrian’s great temple to Zeus. The latter
is, indeed, very remarkable. The pillars stand on a vacant platform, once
the site of the gigantic temple; the Acropolis forms a noble background;
away towards Phalerum stretch undulating hills which hide the sea; to the
left (if we look from the town), Mount Hymettus raises its barren slopes;
and in the valley, immediately below the pillars, flows the famous little
Ilisus,(11) glorified for ever by the poetry of Plato, and in its
summer-dry bed the fountain Callirrhoe, from which the Athenian maidens
still draw water as of old—water the purest and best in the city. It wells
out from under a great limestone rock, all plumed with the rich _Capillus
Veneris_, which seems to find out and frame with its delicate green every
natural spring in Greece.

But the pillars of the Temple of Zeus, though very stately and massive,
and with their summits bridged together by huge blocks of architrave, are
still not Athenian, not Attic, not (if I may say so) genuine Greek work;
for the Corinthian capitals, which are here seen perhaps in their greatest
perfection, cannot be called pure Greek taste. As is well known, they were
hardly ever used, and never used prominently, till the Græco-Roman stage
of art. The older Greeks seem to have had a fixed objection to intricate
ornamentation in their larger temples. All the greater temples of Greece
and Greek Italy are of the Doric Order, with its perfectly plain capital.
Groups of figures were admitted upon the pediments and metopes, because
these groups formed clear and massive designs visible from a distance. But
such intricacies as those of the Corinthian capital were not approved,
except in small monuments, which were merely intended for close
inspection, and where delicate ornament gave grace to a building which
could not lay claim to grandeur. Such is clearly the case with the only
purely Greek (as opposed to Græco-Roman) monument of the Corinthian Order,
which is still standing—the Choragic monument of Lysicrates at Athens.(12)
It was also the case with that beautiful little temple, or group of
temples, known as the Erechtheum, which, standing beside the great massive
Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens, presents the very contrasts upon
which I am insisting. It is small and essentially graceful, being built in
the Ionic style, with rich ornamentation; while the Parthenon is massive,
and, in spite of much ornamentation, very severe in its plainer Doric

  [Illustration: The Erechtheum from the West, Athens]

But to return to the pillars of Hadrian’s Temple. They are about
fifty-five feet high, by six and a half feet in diameter, and no
Corinthian pillar of this colossal size would ever have been set up by the
Greeks in their better days. So, then, in spite of the grandeur of these
isolated remains—a grandeur not destroyed, perhaps even not diminished, by
coffee tables, and inquiring waiters, and military bands, and a vulgar
crowd about their base—to the student of really Greek art they are not of
the highest interest; nay, they even suggest to him what the Periclean
Greeks would have done had they, with such resources, completed the great
temple due to the munificence of the Roman Emperor.

Let us turn, in preference, to the Temple of Theseus, at the opposite
extremity of the town, it too standing upon a clear platform, and striking
the traveller with its symmetry and its completeness, as he approaches
from the Peiræus. It is in every way a contrast to the temple of which we
have just spoken. It is very small—in fact so small in comparison with the
Parthenon, or the great temple at Pæstum, that we are disappointed with
it; and yet it is built, not in the richly-decorated Ionic style of the
Erechtheum, but in severe Doric; and though small and plain, it is very
perfect—as perfect as any such relic that we have. It is many centuries
older than Hadrian’s great temple. It could have been destroyed with
one-tenth of the trouble, and yet it still stands almost in its
perfection. The reason is simply this. Few of the great classical temples
suffered much from wanton destruction till the Middle Ages. Now, in the
Middle Ages this temple, as well as the Parthenon, was usurped by the
Greek Church, and turned into a place of Christian worship. So, then, the
little Temple of Theseus has escaped the ravages which the last few
centuries—worse than all that went before—have made in the remains of a
noble antiquity. To those who desire to study the effect of the Doric
Order this temple appears to me an admirable specimen. From its small size
and clear position, all its points are very easily taken in. “Such,” says
Bishop Wordsworth, “is the integrity of its structure, and the
distinctness of its details, that it requires no description beyond that
which a few glances might supply. Its beauty defies all: its solid yet
graceful form is, indeed, admirable; and the loveliness of its coloring is
such that, from the rich mellow hue which the marble has now assumed, it
looks as if it had been quarried, not from the bed of a rocky mountain,
but from the golden light of an Athenian sunset.” And in like terms many
others have spoken.

I have only one reservation to make. The Doric Order being essentially
massive, it seems to me that this beautiful temple lacks one essential
feature of that order, and therefore, after the first survey, after a
single walk about it, it loses to the traveller who has seen Pæstum, and
who presently cannot fail to see the Parthenon, that peculiar effect of
massiveness—of almost Egyptian solidity—which is ever present, and ever
imposing, in these huger Doric temples. It seems as if the Athenians
themselves felt this—that the plain simplicity of its style was not
effective without size—and accordingly decorated this structure with
colors more richly than their other temples. All the reliefs and raised
ornaments seem to have been painted; other decorations were added in color
on the flat surfaces, so that the whole temple must have been a mass of
rich variegated hues, of which blue, green, and red are still
distinguishable—or were in Stuart’s time—and in which bronze and gilding
certainly played an important part.

We are thus brought naturally face to face with one of the peculiarities
of old Greek art most difficult to realize, and still more to
appreciate.(13) We can recognize in Egyptian and in Assyrian art the
richness and appropriateness of much coloring. Modern painters are
becoming so alive to this, that among the most striking pictures in our
Royal Academy in London have been seen, for some years back, scenes from
old Egyptian and Assyrian life, in which the rich coloring of the
architecture has been quite a prominent feature.

But in Greek art—in the perfect symmetry of the Greek temple, in the
perfect grace of the Greek statue—we come to think form of such paramount
importance, that we look on the beautiful Parian and Pentelic marbles as
specially suited for the expression of form apart from color. There is
even something in unity of tone that delights the modern eye. Thus, though
we feel that the old Greek temples have lost all their original
brightness, yet, as I have myself said, and as I have quoted from Bishop
Wordsworth, the rich mellow hue which tones all these ruins has to us its
peculiar charm. The same rich yellow brown, almost the color of the Roman
travertine, is one of the most striking features in the splendid remains
which have made Pæstum unique in all Italy. This color contrasts
beautifully with the blue sky of southern Europe; it lights up with
extraordinary richness in the rising or setting sun. We can easily
conceive that were it proposed to restore the Attic temples to their
pristine whiteness, we should feel a severe shock, and beg to have these
venerable buildings left in the soberness of their acquired color. Still
more does it shock us to be told that great sculptors, with Parian marble
at hand, preferred to set up images of the gods in gold and ivory, or,
still worse, with parts of gold and ivory; and that they thought it right
to fill out the eyes with precious stones, and set gilded wreaths upon
colored hair.

When we first come to realize these things, we are likely to exclaim
against such a jumble, as we should call it, of painting and
architecture—still worse, of painting and sculpture. Nor is it possible or
reasonable that we should at once submit to such a revolution in our
artistic ideas, and bow without criticism to these shocking features in
Greek art. But if blind obedience to these our great masters in the laws
of beauty is not to be commended, neither is an absolute resistance to all
argument on the question to be respected; nor do I acknowledge the good
sense or the good taste of that critic who insists that nothing can
possibly equal the color and texture of white marble, and that all
coloring of such a substance is the mere remains of barbarism. For, say
what we will, the Greeks were certainly, as a nation, the best judges of
beauty the world has yet seen. And this is not all. The beauty of which
they were evidently the most fond was beauty of form—harmony of
proportions, symmetry of design. They always hated the tawdry and the
extravagant. As to their literature, there is no poetry, no oratory, no
history, which is less decorated with the flowers of rhetoric: it is all
pure in design, chaste in detail. So with their dress; so with their
dwellings. We cannot but feel that, had the effect of painted temples and
statues been tawdry, there is no people on earth who would have felt it so
keenly, and disliked it so much. There must, then, have been strong
reasons why this bright coloring did not strike their eye as it would the
eye of sober moderns.

To any one who has seen the country, and thought about the question there,
many such reasons present themselves. In the first place, all through
southern Europe, and more especially in Greece, there is an amount of
bright color in nature, which prevents almost any artificial coloring from
producing a startling effect. Where all the landscape, the sea, and the
air are exceedingly bright, we find the inhabitants increasing the
brightness of their dress and houses, as it were to correspond with
nature. Thus, in Italy, they paint their houses green, and pink, and
yellow, and so give to their towns and villas that rich and warm effect
which we miss so keenly among the gray and sooty streets of northern
Europe. So also in their dress, these people wear scarlet, and white, and
rich blue, not so much in patterns as in large patches, and a festival in
Sicily or Greece fills the streets with intense color. We know that the
coloring of the old Greek dress was quite of the same character as that of
the modern, though in design it has completely changed. We must,
therefore, imagine the old Greek crowd before their temples, or in their
market-places, a very white crowd, with patches of scarlet and various
blue; perhaps altogether white in processions, if we except scarlet
shoe-straps and other such slight relief. One cannot but feel that a
richly colored temple—that pillars of blue and red—that friezes of
gilding, and other ornament, upon a white marble ground, and in white
marble framing, must have been a splendid and appropriate background, a
genial feature, in such a sky and with such costume. We must get
accustomed to such combinations—we must dwell upon them in imagination, or
ask our good painters to restore them for us, and let us look upon them
constantly and calmly.

But I will not seek to persuade; let us merely state the case fairly, and
put the reader in a position to judge for himself. So much for the painted
architecture. I will but add, the most remarkable specimen of a richly
painted front to which we can now appeal is also really one of the most
beautiful in Europe—the front of S. Mark’s at Venice. The rich frescoes
and profuse gilding on this splendid front, of which photographs give a
very false idea, should be studied by all who desire to judge fairly of
this side of Greek taste.

But I must say a word, before passing on, concerning the statues. No
doubt, the painting of statues, and the use of gold and ivory upon them,
were derived from a rude age, when no images existed but rude wooden
work—at first a mere block, then roughly altered and reduced to shape,
probably requiring some coloring to produce any effect whatever. To a
public accustomed from childhood to such painted, and often richly dressed
images, a pure white marble statue must appear utterly cold and lifeless.
So it does to us, when we have become accustomed to the mellow tints of
old and even weather-stained Greek statues; and it should be here noticed
that this mellow skin-surface on antique statues is not the mere result of
age, but of an artificial process, whereby they burnt into the surface a
composition of wax and oil, which gave a yellowish tone to the marble, as
well as also that peculiar surface which so accurately represents the
texture of the human skin. But if we imagine all the marble surfaces and
reliefs in the temple colored for architectural richness’ sake, we can
feel even more strongly how cold and out-of-place would be a perfectly
colorless statue in the centre of all this pattern.

I will go further, and say we can point out cases where coloring greatly
heightens the effect and beauty of sculpture. The first is from the
bronzes found at Herculaneum, now in the museum at Naples. Though they are
not marble, they are suitable for our purpose, being naturally of a single
dark brown hue, which is indeed even more unfavorable (we should think)
for such treatment. In some of the finest of these bronzes—especially in
the two young men starting for a race—the eyeballs are inserted in white,
with iris and pupil colored. Nothing can be conceived more striking and
lifelike than the effect produced. There is in the Varvakion at Athens a
marble mask, found in the Temple of Æsculapius under the south side of the
Acropolis, probably an _ex voto_ offered for a recovery from some disease
of the eyes. This marble face also has its eyes colored in the most
striking and lifelike way, and is one of the most curious objects found in
the late excavations.

I will add one remarkable modern example—the monument at Florence to a
young Indian prince, who visited England and this country some years ago,
and died of fever during his homeward voyage. They have set up to him a
richly colored and gilded baldachin, in the open air, and in a quiet,
wooded park. Under this covering is a life-sized bust of the prince, in
his richest state dress. The whole bust—the turban, the face, the
drapery—all is colored to the life, and the dress, of course, of the most
gorgeous variety. The turban is chiefly white, striped with gold, in
strong contrast to the mahogany complexion and raven hair of the actual
head; the robe is gold and green, and covered with ornament. The general
effect is, from the very first moment, striking and beautiful. The longer
it is studied, the better it appears; and there is hardly a reasonable
spectator who will not confess that, were we to replace the present bust
with a copy of it in white marble, the beauty and harmony of the monument
would be utterly marred. To those who have the opportunity of visiting
Greece or Italy, I strongly commend these specimens of colored buildings
and sculpture. When they have seen them, they will hesitate to condemn
what we still hear called the curiously bad taste of the old Greeks in
their use of color in the plastic arts.

But these archæological discussions are truly _ἐκβολαὶ λόγου_,
digressions—in themselves necessary, yet only tolerable if they are not
too long. I revert to the general state of the antiquities at Athens,
always reserving the Acropolis for a special chapter. As I said, the
isolated pillars of Hadrian’s Temple of Zeus, and the so-called Temple of
Theseus, are the only very striking objects.(14) There are, of course,
many other buildings, or remains of buildings. There is the monument of
Lysicrates—a small and very graceful round chamber, adorned with
Corinthian engaged pillars, and with friezes of the school of Scopas, and
intended to carry on its summit the tripod Lysicrates had gained in a
musical and dramatic contest (334 B. C.) at Athens. There is the later
Temple of the Winds, as it is called—a sort of public clock, with sundials
and fine reliefs of the Wind-gods on its outward surfaces, and
arrangements for a water-clock within. There are two portals, or
gateways—one leading into the old agora, or market-place, the other
leading from old Athens into the Athens of Hadrian.

But all these buildings are either miserably defaced, or of such late date
and decayed taste as to make them unworthy specimens of pure Greek art. A
single century ago there was much to be seen and admired which has since
disappeared; and even to-day the majority of the population are careless
as to the treatment of ancient monuments, and sometimes even mischievous
in wantonly defacing them. Thus, I saw the marble tombs of Ottfried Müller
and Charles Lenormant—tombs which, though modern, were yet erected at the
cost of the nation to men who were eminent lovers and students of Greek
art—I saw these tombs used as common targets by the neighborhood, and all
peppered with marks of shot and of bullets. I saw them, too, all but blown
up by workmen blasting for building-stones close beside them.(15) I saw,
also, from the Acropolis, a young gentleman practising with a pistol at a
piece of old carved marble work in the Theatre of Dionysus. His object
seemed to be to chip off a piece from the edge at every shot. Happily, on
this occasion, our vantage ground enabled us to take the law into our own
hands; and after in vain appealing to a custodian to interfere, we adopted
the tactics of Apollo at Delphi, and by detaching stones from the top of
our precipice, we put to flight the wretched barbarian who had come to
ravage the treasures of that most sacred place.

These unhappy examples of the defacing of architectural monuments,(16)
which can hardly be removed, naturally suggest to the traveller in Greece
the kindred question how all the smaller and movable antiquities that are
found should be distributed so as best to promote the love and knowledge
of art.

On this point it seems to me that we have gone to one extreme, and the
Greeks to the other, and that neither of us have done our best to make
known what we acknowledge ought to be known as widely as possible. The
tendency in England, at least of later years, has been to swallow up all
lesser and all private collections in the great national Museum in London,
which has accordingly become so enormous and so bewildering that no one
can profit by it except the trained specialist, who goes in with his eyes
shut, and will not open them till he has arrived at the special class of
objects he intends to examine. But to the ordinary public, and even the
generally enlightened public (if such an expression be not a contradiction
in terms), there is nothing so utterly bewildering, and therefore so
unprofitable, as a visit to the myriad treasures of that great world of

In the last century many private persons—many noblemen of wealth and
culture—possessed remarkable collections of antiquities. These have mostly
been swallowed up by what is called “the nation,” and new private
collections are very rare indeed.

In Greece the very opposite course is being now pursued. By a special law
it is forbidden to sell out of the country, or even to remove from a
district, any antiquities whatever; and in consequence little museums have
been established in every village in Greece—nay, sometimes even in places
where there is no village, in order that every district may possess its
own riches, and become worth a visit from the traveller and the antiquary.
I have seen such museums at Eleusis, some fifteen miles from Athens, at
Thebes, now an unimportant town, at Livadia, at Chæronea, at Argos, at
Olympia, and even in the wild plains of Orchomenus, in a little chapel,
with no town within miles.(17) If I add to this that most of these museums
were mere dark outhouses, only lighted through the door, the reader will
have some notion what a task it would be to visit and criticise, with any
attempt at completeness, the ever-increasing remnants of classical Greece.

The traveller is at first disposed to complain that even the portable
antiquities found in various parts of Greece are not brought to Athens,
and gathered into one vast national museum. Further reflection shows such
a proceeding to be not only impossible, but highly inexpedient. I will not
speak of the great waste of objects of interest when they are brought
together in such vast masses that the visitor is rather oppressed than
enlightened. Any one who has gone to the British Museum will know what I
mean. Nor will I give the smallest weight to the selfish local argument,
that compelling visitors to wander from place to place brings traffic and
money into the country. Until proper roads and clean inns are established,
such an argument is both unfair and unlikely to produce results worth
considering. But fortunately most of the famous things in Greece are
sites, ruined buildings, forts which cannot be removed from their place,
if at all, without destruction, and of which the very details cannot be
understood without seeing the place for which they were intended. Even the
Parthenon sculptures in London would have lost most of their interest, if
the building itself at Athens did not show us their application, and
glorify them with its splendor. He who sees the gold of Mycenæ at Athens,
knows little of its meaning, if he has not visited the giant forts where
its owners once dwelt and exercised their sway; and if, as has been done
at Olympia, some patriotic Greek had built a safe museum at Mycenæ to
contain them, they would be more deeply interesting and instructive than
they now are.

In such a town as Athens, on the contrary, it seems to me that the true
solution of the problem has been attained, though it will probably be
shortly abandoned for a central museum. There are (or were) at Athens at
least six separate museums of antiquities—one at the University, one
called the Varvakion, one in the Theseum, one, or rather two, on the
Acropolis, one in the Ministry of Public Instruction, and lastly, the new
National Museum, as it is called, in Patissia Street—devoted to its
special treasures. If these several storehouses were thoroughly kept,—if
the objects were carefully numbered and catalogued,—I can conceive no
better arrangement for studying separately and in detail the various
monuments, which must always bewilder and fatigue when crowded together in
one vast exhibition. If the British Museum were in this way severed into
many branches, and the different classes of objects it contains were
placed in separate buildings, and in different parts of London, I believe
most of us would acquire a far greater knowledge of what it contains, and
hence it would attain a greater usefulness in educating the nation. To
visit any one of the Athenian museums is a comparatively short and easy
task, where a man can see the end of his labor before him, and hence will
not hesitate to delay long over such things as are worth a careful study.

It may be said that all this digression about the mere placing of
monuments is delaying the reader too long from what he desires to
know—something about the monuments themselves. But this little book, to
copy an expression of Herodotus, particularly affects digressions. I
desire to wander through the subject exactly in the way which naturally
suggests itself to me. After all, the reflections on a journey ought to be
more valuable than its mere description.

Before passing into Attica and leaving Athens, something more must, of
course, be said of the museums, then of the newer diggings, and especially
of the splendid tombs found in the Kerameikus. We will then mount the
Acropolis, and wander leisurely about its marvellous ruins. From it we can
look out upon the general shape and disposition of Attica, and plan our
shorter excursions.

As some of the suggestions in my first edition have found favor at Athens,
I venture to point out here the great benefit which the Greek
archæologists would confer on all Europe if they would publish an official
guide to Athens, with some moderately complete account of the immense
riches of its museums. Such a book, which might appear under the sanction
of M. Rousopoulos, or Professor Koumanoudis, might be promoted either by
the Greek Parliament or the University of Athens. Were it even published
in modern Greek, its sale must be large and certain; and, by appendices,
or new editions, it could be kept up to the level of the new discoveries.
The catalogues of Kekulé and of Heydemann are already wholly inadequate,
and unless one has the privilege of knowing personally one of the
gentlemen above named, it is very difficult indeed to obtain any proper
notion of the history, or of the original sites, of the various objects
which excite curiosity or admiration at every step. Such a book as I
suggest would be hailed by every Hellenist in Europe as an inestimable
boon. But in a land where the able men are perpetually engaged in making
or observing new discoveries, they will naturally despise the task of
cataloguing what they know. Hence, I suggest that some promising young
scholar might undertake the book, and have his work revised by his masters
in the sober and practical school of Athens.(18)

                               CHAPTER III.

                      ATHENS—THE MUSEUMS—THE TOMBS.

Nothing is more melancholy and more disappointing than the first view of
the Athenian museums. Almost every traveller sees them after passing
through Italy, where everything—indeed far too much—has been done to make
the relics of antiquity perfect and complete. Missing noses, and arms, and
feet have been restored; probable or possible names have been assigned to
every statue; they are set up, generally, in handsome galleries, with
suitable decoration; the visitor is provided with full descriptive
catalogues. Nothing of all this is found in Greece. The fragments are
merely sorted: many of the mutilated statues are lying prostrate, and, of
course, in no way restored. Everything is, however, in process of being
arranged. But there is room to apprehend that in fifty years things will
still be found changing their places, and still in process of being
arranged. It is not fair to complain of these things in a nation which is
fully occupied with its political and commercial development, and where
new classical remains are constantly added to the museums. Every nerve is
being strained by the Greeks to obtain their proper rights in the possible
break-up of the Ottoman Empire. Great efforts are, besides, being made to
develop not only the ports, but the manufactures of the country. The
building of new roads is more vital to the nation than the saving and
ordering of artistic remains. Thus we must trust to private enterprise and
generosity to settle these things; and these have hitherto not been
wanting among the Greeks. But their resources are small, and they require
help both in money and in sympathy. So, then, unless foreign influences be
continuously brought to bear,—all the foreign schools act unselfishly at
their own expense,—I fear that all of us who visit Athens will be doomed
to that first feeling of disappointment.

But I am bound to add that every patient observer who sets to work in
spite of his disappointment, and examines with honest care these “disjecta
membra” of Attic art—any one who will replace in imagination the tips of
noses—any one who will stoop over lying statues, and guess at the context
of broken limbs—such an observer will find his vexation gradually changing
into wonder, and will at last come to see that all the smoothly-restored
Greek work in Italian museums is not worth a tithe of the shattered
fragments in the real home and citadel of pure art. This is especially
true of the museum on the Acropolis. It is, however, also true of the
other museums, and more obviously true of the reliefs upon the tombs. The
assistance of an experienced Athenian antiquary is also required, who
knows his way among the fragments, and who can tell the history of the
discovery, and the theories of the purport of each. There are a good many
men of ability and learning connected with the University of Athens, who
describe each object in the antiquarian papers as it is discovered. But
when I asked whether I could buy or subscribe to any recognized organ for
such information, I was told (as I might have expected) that no single
paper or periodical was so recognized. Clashing interests and personal
friendships determine _where_ each discovery is to be announced; so that
often the professedly archæological journals contain no mention of such
things, while the common daily papers secure the information.

Here, again, we feel the want of some stronger government—some despotic
assertion of a law of gravitation to a common centre—to counteract the
strong centrifugal forces acting all through Greek society. The old
_autonomy_ of the Greeks—that old assertion of local independence which
was at once their greatness and their ruin—this strong instinct has lasted
undiminished to the present day. They seem even now to hate pulling
together, as we say. They seem always ready to assert their individual
rights and claims against those of the community or the public. The old
Greeks had as a safeguard their divisions into little cities and
territories; so that their passion for autonomy was expended on their city
interests, in which the individual could forget himself. But as the old
Greeks were often too selfish for this, and asserted their personal
autonomy against their own city, so the modern Greek, who has not this
safety-valve, finds it difficult to rise to the height of acting in the
interests of the nation at large; and though he converses much and
brilliantly about Hellenic unity, he generally allows smaller interests to
outweigh this splendid general conception. I will here add a most annoying
example of this particularist feeling, which obtrudes itself upon every
visitor to Athens. The most trying thing in the streets is the want of
shade, and the consequent glare of the houses and roadway. Yet along every
street there are planted pepper-trees of graceful growth and of delicious
scent. But why are they all so wretchedly small and bare? Because each
inhabitant chooses to hack away the growing branches in front of his own
door. The Prime Minister, who deplored this curious Vandalism, said he was
powerless to check it. Until, however, the Athenians learn to control
themselves, and let their trees grow, Athens will be an ugly and
disagreeable city.

So, then, the Greeks will not even agree to tell us where we may find a
complete list of newly-discovered antiquities. Nor, indeed, does the
Athenian public care very much, beyond a certain vague pride, for such
things, if we except one peculiar kind, which has taken among them
somewhat the place of old china among us. There have been found in many
Greek cemeteries—in Megara, in Cyrene, and of late in great abundance and
excellence at Tanagra, in Bœotia—little figures of terra cotta, often
delicately modelled and richly colored both in dress and limbs. These
figures are ordinarily from eight to twelve inches high, and represent
ladies both sitting and standing in graceful attitudes, young men in
pastoral life, and other such subjects. I was informed that some had been
found in various places through Greece, but the main source of them—and a
very rich source—is the Necropolis at Tanagra. There are several
collections of these figures on cup-boards and in cabinets in private
houses at Athens, all remarkable for the marvellous modernness of their
appearance. The graceful drapery of the ladies especially is very like
modern dress, and many have on their heads flat round hats, quite similar
in design to the gipsy hats much worn among ladies of late years. But
above all, the hair was drawn back from the forehead, not at all in what
is considered Greek style, but rather_ à __l’__ Eugénie_, as we used to
say when we were young. Many hold in their hands large fans, like those
which we make of peacocks’ feathers. No conclusive theory has yet been
started, so far as I know, concerning the object or intention of these
figures. So many of them are female figures, that it seems unlikely they
were portraits of the deceased; and the frequent occurrence of two figures
together, especially one woman being carried by another, seems almost to
dissuade us from such a theory. They seem to be the figures called _Κόραι_
by many old Greeks, which were used as toys by children, and, perhaps, as
ornaments. The large class of tradesmen who made them were called
_Κορόπλαθοι_, and were held in contempt by real sculptors. Most of them
are, indeed, badly modelled, and evidently the work of ignorant tradesmen.
If it could be shown that they were only found in the graves of children,
it would be a touching sign of that world-wide feeling among the human
race, to bury with the dead friend whatever he loved and enjoyed in his
life on earth, that he might not feel lonely in his cold and gloomy
grave.(19) But it seems unlikely that this limitation can ever be proved.

There is an equal difficulty as to their age. The Greeks say that the
tombs in which they are found are not later than the second century B. C.,
and it is, indeed, hard to conceive at what later period there was enough
wealth and art to produce such often elegant, and often costly, results.
Tanagra and Thespiæ were, indeed, in Strabo’s day (lib. ix. 2) the only
remaining cities of Bœotia; the rest, he says, were but ruins and names.
But we may be certain that in that time of universal decay the remaining
towns must have been as poor and insignificant as they now are. Thus, we
seem thrown back into classical or Alexandrian days for the origin of
these figures, which in their bright coloring—pink and blue dresses, often
gilded fringes, the hair always fair, so far as I could find—are, indeed,
like what we know of old Greek statuary, but in other respects
surprisingly modern.(20) If their antiquity can be strictly demonstrated,
it will but show another case of the versatility of the Greeks in all
things relating to art: how, with the simplest material, and at a long
distance from the great art centres, they produced a type of exceeding
grace and refinement totally foreign to their great old models, varying in
dress, attitude—in every point of style—from ordinary Greek sculpture, and
anticipating much of the modern ideals of beauty and elegance.

But it is necessary to suspend our judgment, and wait for further and
closer investigation. The workmen at Tanagra are now forbidden to sell
these objects to private fanciers; and in consequence, their price has
risen so enormously, that those in the market, if of real elegance and
artistic merit, cannot be obtained for less than from £40 to £60. As much
as 2000 francs has been paid for one, when they were less common. From
this price downward they can still be bought in Athens, the rude and badly
finished specimens being cheap enough. The only other method of procuring
them, or of procuring them more cheaply, is to make diligent inquiries
when travelling in the interior, where they may often be bought from poor
people, either at Megara, Tanagra, or elsewhere, who have chanced to find
them, and are willing enough to part with them after a certain amount of

It is convenient to dispose of this peculiar and distinct kind of Greek
antiquities, because they seem foreign to the rest, and cannot be brought
under any other head. These figurines have now found their way into most
European museums.(21)

I pass to the public collections at Athens, in which we find few of these
figures, and which rather contain the usual products of Greek plastic
art—statues, reliefs, as well as pottery, and inscriptions. As I have
said, the statues are in the most lamentable condition, shattered into
fragments, without any attempt at restoring even such losses as can be
supplied with certainty. What mischief might be done by such wholesale
restoration as was practised in Italy some fifty years ago, it is hard to
say. But perhaps the reaction against that error has driven us to an
opposite extreme.

There is, indeed, one—a naked athlete, with his cloak hanging over the
left shoulder, and coiled round the left forearm—which seems almost as
good as any strong male figure which we now possess. While it has almost
exactly the same treatment of the cloak on the left arm which we see in
the celebrated Hermes of the Vatican,(22) the proportions of the figure
are nearer the celebrated _Discobolus_ (numbered 126, Braccio Nuovo).
There are two other copies at Florence, and one at Naples. These
repetitions point to some very celebrated original, which the critics
consider to be of the older school of Polycletus, and even imagine may
possibly be a copy of his _Doryphorus_, which was called the _Canon_
statue, or model of the perfect manly form. The Hermes has too strong a
likeness to Lysippus’s _Apoxyomenos_ not to be recognized as of the newer
school. What we have, then, in this Attic statue seems an intermediate
type between the earlier and stronger school of Polycletus and the more
elegant and newer school of Lysippus in Alexander’s day.

There can, however, be no doubt that it does not date from the older and
severer age of sculpture, of which Phidias and Polycletus were the highest
representatives. Any one who studies Greek art perceives how remarkably
not only the style of dress and ornament, but even the proportions of the
figure change, as we come down from generation to generation in the long
line of Greek sculptors. The friezes of Selinus (now at Palermo), and
those of Ægina (now in Munich), which are among our earliest classical
specimens, are remarkable for short, thick-set forms. The men are men five
feet seven, or, at most, eight inches high, and their figures are squat
even for that height. In the specimens we have of the days of Phidias and
Polycletus these proportions are altered. The head of the _Doryphorus_, if
we can depend upon our supposed copies, is still heavy, and the figure
bulky, though taller in proportion. He looks a man of five feet ten inches
at least. The statue we are just considering is even taller, and is like
the copies we have of Lysippus’s work, the figure apparently of a man of
six feet high; but his head is not so small, nor is he so slender and
light as this type is usually found.

It is not very easy to give a full account of this change. There is, of
course, one general reason well known—the art of the Greeks, like almost
all such developments, went through stiffness and clumsiness into dignity
and strength, to which it presently added that grace which raises strength
into majesty. But in time the seeking after grace becomes too prominent,
and so strength, and with it, of course, the majesty which requires
strength as well as grace, is gradually lost. Thus we arrive at a period
when the forms are merely elegant or voluptuous, without any assertion of
power. I will speak of a similar development among female figures in
connection with another subject which will naturally suggest it.

This can only be made plain by a series of illustrations. Of course, the
difficulty of obtaining really archaic statues was very great.(23) They
were mostly sacred images of the gods, esteemed venerable and interesting
by the Greeks, but seldom copied. Happily, the Romans, when they set
themselves to admire and procure Greek statues, had fits of what we now
call pre-Raphaelitism—fits of admiration for the archaic and devout, even
if ungraceful, in preference to the more perfect forms of later art.
Hence, we find in Italy a number of statues which, if not really archaic,
are at least _archaistic_, as the critics call it—imitations or copies of
archaic statues. With these we need now no longer be content. And we may
pause a moment on the question of archaic Greek art, because, apart from
the imitations of the time of Augustus and Hadrian, we had already some
really genuine fragments in the little museum in the Acropolis—fragments
saved, not from the present Parthenon, but rather from about the ruins of
the older Parthenon. This temple was destroyed by the Persians, and the
materials were built into the surrounding wall of the Acropolis by the
Athenians, when they began to strengthen and beautify it at the opening of
their career of dominion and wealth. The stains of fire are said to be
still visible on these drums of pillars now built into the fortification,
and there can be no doubt of their belonging to the old temple, as it is
well attested.(24) But I do not agree with the statement that these older
materials were so used in order to nurse a perpetual hatred against the
Persians in the minds of the people, who saw daily before them the
evidence of the ancient wrong done to their temples.(25) I believe this
sentimental twaddle to be quite foreign to all Greek feeling. The
materials were used in the wall because they were unsuitable for the newer
temples, and because they must otherwise be greatly in the way on the
limited surface of the Acropolis.

A fair specimen of the old sculptures first found is a very stiff, and, to
us, comical figure, which has lost its legs, but is otherwise fairly
preserved, and which depicts a male figure with curious conventional hair,
and still more conventional beard, holding by its four legs a bull or
calf, which he is carrying on his shoulders. The eyes are now hollow, and
were evidently once filled with something different from the marble of
which the statue is made. The whole pose and style of the work is stiff
and expressionless, and it is one of the most characteristic remains of
the older Attic art still in existence.

Happily there is little doubt what the statue means. It is the votive
offering of the Marathonians, which Pausanias saw in the Acropolis, and
which commemorated the legend of Theseus having driven the wild bull, sent
against them by Minos, from Marathon to the Acropolis, where he sacrificed
it. Pausanias does not say how Theseus was represented with the bull; but
it certainly was not a group—such a thing is clearly beyond the narrow and
timid conceptions of the artists of that day. It being difficult to
represent this hero and bull together except by representing the man
carrying the bull, the artist has made the animal full grown in type, but
as small as a calf, and has, of course, not attempted any expression of
hostility between the two. The peaceful look, which merely arises from the
inability of the artist to render expression, has led many good art
critics to call it not a Theseus but a Hermes. Such being the obscure
history of the statue, it is not difficult to note its characteristics. We
see the conventional treatment of the hair, the curious transparent
garments lying close to the skin, and the very heavy muscular forms of the
arms and body. The whole figure is stiff and expressionless, and strictly
in what is called the hieratic or old religious style, as opposed to an
ideal or artistic conception.

There are two full-length reliefs—one which I first saw in a little church
near Orchomenus, and a couple more at Athens in the Theseon—which are
plainly of the same epoch and style of art. The most complete Athenian one
is ascribed as the stele of Aristion, and as the work of Aristocles,(26)
doubtless an artist known as contemporary with those who fought at the
battle of Marathon. Thus we obtain a very good clue to the date at which
this art flourished. There is also the head of a similar figure, with the
hair long and fastened in a knot behind, and with a discus raised above
the shoulder, so as to look like a nimbus round the head, which is one of
the most interesting objects in the Varvakion. But of the rest the
pedestal only is preserved. Any impartial observer will see in these
figures strong traces of the influence of Asiatic style. This influence
seems about as certain, and almost as much disputed, as the Egyptian
influences on the Doric style of architecture. To an unbiassed observer
these influences speak so plainly, that, in the absence of strict
demonstration to the contrary, one feels bound to admit them—the more so,
as we know that the Greeks, like all other people of genius, were ever
ready and anxious to borrow from others. It should be often repeated,
because it is usually ignored, that it is a most original gift to know how
to borrow; and that those only who feel wanting in originality are anxious
to assert it. Thus the Romans, who borrowed without assimilating, are
always asserting their originality; the Greeks, who borrowed more and
better, because they made what they borrowed their own, never care to do
so. The hackneyed parallel of Shakespeare will occur to all.

Unfortunately, the museums of Athens show us but few examples of the
transition state of art between this and the perfect work of Phidias’s
school. The Æginetan marbles are less developed than Phidias’s work; but
from the relief of Aristion, and the Theseus of the Acropolis, to these,
is a wide gulf in artistic feeling. The former is the work of children
shackled by their material, still more by conventional rules; the latter
the work of men. There is also the well-known Apollo of Thera; a similar
Apollo found at Athens, with very conventional curls, and now in the
National Museum; and two or three small sitting statues of Athene which,
though very archaic, begin to approach the grace of artistic sculpture.
But Italy is sufficiently rich in imitations of this very period. There
are four very remarkable statues in a small room of the Villa Albani, near
Rome, which are not photographed, because the public would, doubtless,
think them bad art, but which, could I procure copies and reproduce them,
would illustrate clearly what I desire. We have also among the bronzes
found at Pompeii statues precisely of this style, evidently copies from
old Greek originals, and made to satisfy the pre-Raphaelitism (as I have
already called it) of Italian amateurs. I select a bronze Artemis as an
interesting example of this antiquarian taste in a later age. The
statuette maintains in the face the very features which we think so
comical when looking at the relief of Aristion, or the women of the
Acropolis. They are, no doubt, softened and less exaggerated, but still
they are there. The so-called Greek profile is not yet attained. The
general features of the old Greek face in monuments were a retreating
forehead, a peaked nose, slightly turned up at the end, the mouth drawn
in, and the corners turned up, flat elongated eyes (especially full in the
profiles of reliefs), a prominent angular chin, lank cheeks, and high
ears. These lovely features can be found on hundreds of vases, because,
vase-making being rather a trade than an art, men kept close to the old
models long after great sculptors and painters had, like Polygnotus, begun
to depart from the antique stiffness of the countenance.(27) The Artemis
in question has, however, these very features, which are very clear when
we can see her in profile. But the head-dress and draping are elaborate,
and though formal and somewhat rigid, not wanting in grace. The pose of
the arms is stiff, and the attitude that of a woman stepping forward,
which is very usual in archaic figures—I suppose because it enlarged the
base of the statue, and made it stand more firmly in its place. The
absence of any girdle or delaying fold in the garments is one of the most
marked contrasts with the later draping of such figures.

But now at last we can show the reader how far the antiquarians of later
days were able to imitate archaic sculpture. Another characteristic
archaic statue was one of the seventeen found in 1885–86 on the
Acropolis,(28) where they had been piled together with portions of pillars
and other stones to extend the platform for new buildings. The style and
the mutilation of all these statues, which, from their uniform type, are
more probably votive offerings than sacred images, point to their being
the actual statues which the Persians overthrew when ravaging the
Acropolis (480 B. C.). They were so broken and spoiled that the Athenians,
when restoring and rebuilding their temples, determined to use them for
rubbish. Thus we have now a perfectly authentic group of works showing us
the art of the older Athens before the Persian Wars. They are each made of
several pieces of marble, apparently Parian, dowelled together like wooden
work, and the figure here reproduced has a bronze pin protruding from the
head, apparently to hold a nimbus or covering of metal. They were all
richly colored, as many traces upon them still show.(29)

Let us now leave this archaic art and go to the street of tombs, where we
can find such specimens as the world can hardly equal, and in such
condition as to be easily intelligible. A good many of these tombs, and
some of them very fine, have lately been removed to the National Museum,
where they are no doubt safer, and more easily studied and compared,
though there is something lost in not having them upon their original
site, with some at least of their original surroundings. What I have said
of the museums is, even so, disappointing, as indeed it should be, if the
feelings of the visitor are to be faithfully reproduced. But I must not
fail to add, before turning to other places, that in inscriptions these
museums are very rich, as well as also in Attic vases, and lamps, and
other articles of great importance in our estimate of old Greek life. The
professors of the University have been particularly diligent in
deciphering and explaining the inscriptions, and with the aid of the
Germans, who have collected, and are still collecting, these scattered
documents in a complete publication, we are daily having new light thrown
upon Greek history. Thus Kohler has been able from the recovered Attic
tribute-lists to construct a map of the Athenian maritime empire with its
dependencies, which tells the student more in five minutes than hours of
laborious reading. The study of vases and lamps is beyond my present
scope; and the former so wide and complicated a subject, that it cannot be
mastered without long study and trouble.(30)

I pass, therefore, from the museums to the street of tombs, which
Thucydides tells us to find in the fairest suburb of the city, as we go
out westward towards the groves of Academe, and before we turn slightly to
the south on our way to the Peiræus. Thucydides has described with some
care the funeral ceremonies held in this famous place, and has composed
for us a very noble funeral oration, which he has put in the mouth of
Pericles.(31) It is with this oration, probably the finest passage in
Thucydides’s great history, in our minds, that we approach the avenue
where the Athenians laid their dead. We have to pass through the poorest
portion of modern Athens, through wretched _bazaars_ and dirty markets,
which abut upon the main street. Amid all this squalor and poverty, all
this complete denial of art and leisure, there are still features which
faintly echo old Greek life. There is the bright color of the dresses—the
predominance of white, and red, and blue, of which the old Athenians were
so fond; and there is among the lowest classes a great deal of that
striking beauty which recalls to us the old statues. More especially in
the form of the head, and in the expression, of the children, we see types
not to be found elsewhere in Europe, and which, if not derived from
classical Greece, are at all events very beautiful.

We then come on to the railway station, which is, indeed, in this place,
as elsewhere, very offensive. With its grimy smoke, its shrill sounds, and
all its other hard unloveliness, it is not a meet neighbor for the tombs
of the old Greeks, which are close to it on all sides.

They lie—as almost all old ruins do—far below the present level of the
ground, and have, therefore, to be exhumed by careful digging. When this
has been done they are covered with a rude door, to protect their
sculptured face; and when I first saw them were standing about, without
any order or regularity, close to the spots where they had been found.

A proper estimate of these tombs cannot be attained without appreciating
the feelings with which the survivors set them up. And we must consider
not only the general attitude of Greek literature on the all-important
question of the state of man after death, but also the thousands of
inscriptions upon tombs, both with and without sculptured reliefs, if we
will form a sure opinion about the feelings of the bereaved in these
bygone days.

We know from Homer and from Mimnermus that in the earlier periods, though
the Greeks were unable to shake off a belief in life after death, they
could not conceive that state as anything but a shadowy and wretched echo
of the real life upon earth. It was a gloomy existence, burdened with the
memory of lost happiness and the longing for lost enjoyment. To the
Homeric Greeks death was a dark unavoidable fate, without hope and without
reward. It is, indeed, true that we find in Pindar thoughts and
aspirations of a very different kind. We have in the fragments of his
poetry more than one passage asserting the rewards of the just, and the
splendors of a future life far happier than that which we now enjoy. But,
notwithstanding these noble visions, such high expectation laid no hold
upon the imagination of the Greek world. The poems of Pindar, we are told,
soon ceased to be popular, and his visions are but a streak of light amid
general gloom. The kingdom of the dead in Æschylus is evidently, as in
Homer, but a weary echo of this life, where honor can only be attained by
the pious service of loving kinsfolk, whose duty paid to the dead affects
him in his gloomier state, and raises him in the esteem of his
less-remembered fellows. Sophocles says nothing to clear away the night;
nay rather his deepest and maturest contemplation regards death as the
worst of ills to the happy man—a sorry refuge to the miserable. Euripides
longs that there may be no future state; and Plato only secures the
immortality of the soul by severing it from the person—the man, and all
his interests.

It is plain, from this evidence, that the Greeks must have looked upon the
death of those they loved with unmixed sorrow. It was the final parting,
when all the good and pleasant things are remembered; when men seek, as it
were, to increase the pang, by clothing the dead in all his sweetest and
dearest presence. But this was not done by pompous inscriptions, or by a
vain enumeration of all the deceased had performed—inscriptions which,
among us, tell more of the vanity than of the grief of the survivors. The
commonest epitaph was a simple _χαῖρε_, or farewell; and it is this single
word, so full and deep in its meaning to those who love, which is pictured
in the tomb reliefs. They are simple parting scenes, expressing the grief
of the survivors, and the great sadness of the sufferer, who is going to
his long home.

Nevertheless, what strikes us forcibly in these remarkable monuments is
the chastened modest expression of sorrow which they display. There is no
violence, no despair, no extravagance—all is simple and noble; thus
combining purity of art with a far deeper pathos—a far nobler grief—than
that of the exaggerated paintings and sculptures which seek to express
mourning in later and less cultivated ages.(32) We may defy any art to
produce truer or more poignant pictures of real sorrow—a sorrow, as I have
explained, far deeper and more hopeless than any Christian sorrow; and yet
there is no wringing of hands, no swooning, no defacing with sackcloth and
ashes.(33) Sometimes, indeed, as in the celebrated tomb of Dexileos, a
mere portrait of the dead in active life was put upon his tomb, and
private grief would not assert itself in presence of the record of his
public services.

  [Illustration: A Tomb from the Via Sacra, Athens]

I know not that any other remnants of Greek art bring home to us more
plainly one of its eternal and divine features—or shall I rather say, one
of its eternal and human features?—the greatest, if not the main feature,
which has made it the ever new and ever lasting lawgiver to men in their
efforts to represent the ideal.

If I am to permit myself any digression whatever, we cannot do better than
conclude this chapter with some reflections on this subject, and we may
therefore turn, by suggestion of the Athenian tombs, to a few general
remarks on the _reserve_ of Greek art—I mean the reserve in the displaying
emotion, in the portraying of the fierce outbursts of joy or grief; and
again, more generally, the reserve in the exhibiting of peculiar or
personal features, passing interests, or momentary emotions.

In a philosophy now rather forgotten than extinct, and which once
commanded no small attention, Adam Smith was led to analyze the indirect
effects of _sympathy_, from which, as a single principle, he desired to
deduce all the rules of ethics. While straining many points unduly, he
must be confessed to have explained with great justice the origin of good
taste or tact in ordinary life, which he saw to be the careful watching of
the interest of others in our own affairs, and the feeling that we must
not force upon them what concerns ourselves, except we are sure to carry
with us their active sympathy. Good breeding, he says, consists in a
delicate perception how far this will go, and in suppressing those of our
feelings which, though they affect _us_ strongly, cannot be expected to
affect in like manner our neighbor, whose sympathy should be the measure
and limit of our outspokenness. There can be no doubt that whatever other
elements come in, this analysis is true, so far as it goes, and recommends
itself at once to the convictions of any educated man. The very same
principle applies still more strongly and universally in art. As tragedy
is bound to treat ideal griefs and joys of so large and broad a kind that
every spectator may merge in them his petty troubles, so ideal sculpture
and painting are only ideal so far as they represent those large and
eternal features in human nature which must always command the sympathy of
every pure human heart.

Let us dispose at once of an apparent exception—the mediæval pictures of
the Passion of Christ, and the sorrows of the Virgin Mary. Here the artist
allowed himself the most extreme treatment, because the objects were
necessarily the centre of the very highest sympathy. No expression of the
grief of Christ could be thought exaggerated in the Middle Ages, because
in this very exaggeration lay the centre point of men’s religion. But when
no such object of universal and all-absorbing sympathy can be found (and
there was none such in pagan life), then the Greek artist must attain by
his treatment of the object what the Christian artist obtained by the
object itself. Assuming, then, a mastery over his material, and sufficient
power of execution, the next feature to be looked for in Greek art, and
especially in Greek sculpture, is a certain modesty and reserve in
expression, which will not portray slight defects in picturing a man, but
represent that eternal or ideal character in him which remains in our
memory when he is gone. Such, for example, is the famous portrait-statue
of Sophocles.

Such are also all that great series of ideal figures which meet us in the
galleries of ancient art. They seldom show us any violent emotion; they
are seldom even in so special an attitude that critics cannot interpret it
in several different ways, or as suitable to several myths. It is not
passing states of feeling, but the eternal and ideal beauty of human
nature, which Greek sculpture seeks to represent; and for this reason it
has held its sway through all the centuries which have since gone by. This
was the calm art of Phidias, and Polycletus, and Polygnotus, in sentiment
not differing from the rigid awkwardness of their predecessors, but in
mastery of proportions and of difficulties attaining the grace in which
the others had failed. To this general law there are, no doubt,
exceptions, and perhaps very brilliant ones; yet they are exceptions, and
even in them, if we consider them attentively, we can see the universal
features and the points of sympathy for all mankind. But if the appeal for
sympathy is indeed overstrained, then, however successful in its own
society and its own social atmosphere, the work of art loses power when
offered to another generation. Thus Euripides, though justly considered in
his own society the most tragic of poets, has for this very reason ceased
to appeal to us as Æschylus still appeals. For Æschylus kept within the
proper bounds dictated by the reserve of art; Euripides often did not, and
his work, though great and full of genius, suffered accordingly.

It seems to me that the tombs before us are remarkable as exemplifying,
with the tact of genius, this true and perfect reserve. They are simple
pictures of the grief of parting—of the recollection of pleasant days of
love and friendship—of the gloom of the unknown future. But there is no
exaggeration, nor speciality—no individuality, I had almost said—in the
picture. I feel no curiosity to inquire who these people are—what were
their names—even what was the relationship of the deceased.(34) For I am
perfectly satisfied with an ideal portrait of the grief of parting—a grief
that comes to us all, and lays bitter hold of us at some season of life;
and it is this universal sorrow—this great common flaw in our lives—which
the Greek artist has brought before us, and which calls forth our deepest
sympathy. There will be future occasion to come back upon this
all-important feature in connection with the _action_ in Greek sculpture,
and even with the draping of their statues—in all of which the calm and
chaste reserve of the better Greek art contrasts strangely with the
Michael Angelos, and Berninis, and Canovas, of other days; nay, even with
the Greek sculpture of a no less brilliant but less refined age.

But, in concluding this digression, I will call attention to a modern
parallel in the portraiture of grief, and of grief at final parting. This
parallel is not a piece of sculpture, but a poem, perhaps the most
remarkable poem of our generation—the _In Memoriam_ of Lord Tennyson.
Though written from personal feeling, and to commemorate a special
person—Arthur Hallam—whom some of us even knew, has this poem laid hold of
the imagination of men strongly and lastingly owing to the poet’s special
loss? Certainly not. I do not even think that this great dirge—this
magnificent funeral poem—has excited in most of us any strong interest in
Arthur Hallam. In fact, any other friend of the poet’s would have suited
the general reader equally well as the exciting cause of a poem, which we
delight in because it puts into great words the ever-recurring and
permanent features in such grief—those dark longings about the future;
those suggestions of despair, of discontent with the providence of the
world, of wild speculation about its laws; those struggles to reconcile
our own loss, and that of the human race, with some larger law of wisdom
and of benevolence. To the poet, of course, his own particular friend was
the great centre point of the whole. But to us, in reading it, there is a
wide distinction between the personal passages—I mean those which give
family details, and special circumstances in Hallam’s life, or his
intimacy with the poet—and the purely poetical or artistic passages, which
soar away into a region far above all special detail, and sing of the
great gloom which hangs over the future, and of the vehement beating of
the human soul against the bars of its prison house, when one is taken,
and another left, not merely at apparent random, but with apparent
injustice and damage to mankind. Hence, every man in grief for a lost
friend will read the poem to his great comfort, and will then only see
clearly what it means; and he will find it speak to him specially and
particularly, not in its personal passages, but in its general features;
in its hard metaphysics; in its mystical theology; in its angry and
uncertain ethics. For even the commonest mind is forced by grief out of
its commonness, and attacks the world-problems, which at other times it
has no power or taste to approach.

By this illustration, then, the distinction between the universal and the
personal features of grief can be clearly seen; and the reader will admit
that, though it would be most unreasonable to dictate to the poet, or to
imagine that he should have omitted the stanzas which refer specially to
his friend, and which were to him of vital importance, yet to us it is no
loss to forget that name and those circumstances, and hold fast to the
really eternal (and because eternal, really artistic) features, in that
very noble symphony—shall I say of half-resolved discords, or of suspended
harmonies, which faith may reconcile, but which reason can hardly analyze
or understand?(35)

Within a few minutes’ walk of these splendid records of the dead, the
traveller who returns to the town across the Observatory Hill will find a
very different cemetery. For here he suddenly comes up to a long cleft in
the rock, running parallel with the road below, and therefore quite
invisible from it. The rising ground towards the city hides it equally
from the Acropolis, and accordingly from all Athens. This gorge, some two
hundred yards long, sixty wide, and over thirty feet deep, is the
notorious _Barathrum_, the place of execution in old days; the place where
criminals were cast out, and where the public executioner resided. It has
been falsely inferred by the old scholiasts that the Athenians cast men
alive into the pit. It is not nearly deep enough now to cause death in
this way, and there seems no reason why its original depth should have
been diminished by any accumulation of rubbish, such as is common on
inhabited sites. “Casting into the Barathrum” referred rather to the
refusing the rights of burial to executed criminals—an additional
disgrace, and to the Greeks a grave additional penalty. Honor among the
dead was held to follow in exact proportion to the continued honors paid
by surviving friends.

Here, then, out of view of all the temples and hallowed sites of the city,
dwelt the public slave, with his instruments of death, perhaps in a cave
or grotto, still to be seen in the higher wall of the gorge, and situated
close to the point where an old path leads over the hill towards the city.
Plato speaks of young men turning aside, as they came from Peiræus, to see
the dead lying in charge of this official; and there must have been times
in the older history of Athens when this cleft in the rock was a place of
carnage and of horror. The gentler law of later days seems to have felt
this outrage on human feeling, and instead of casting the dead into the
Barathrum, it was merely added to the sentence that the body should not be
buried within the boundaries of Attica. Yet, though the _Barathrum_ may
have been no longer used, the accursed gate (_ἱερὰ πύλη_) still led to it
from the city, and the old associations clung about its gloomy seclusion.
Even in the last century, the Turks, whether acting from instinct, or led
by old tradition, still used it as a place of execution.

In the present day, all traces of this hideous history have long passed
away, and I found a little field of corn waving upon the level ground
beneath, which had once been the _Aceldama_ of Athens. But even now there
seemed a certain loneliness and weirdness about the place—silent and
deserted in the midst of thoroughfares, hidden from the haunts of men, and
hiding them from view by its massive walls. Nay, as if to bring back the
dark memories of the past, great scarlet poppies stained the ground in
patches as it were with slaughter, and hawks and ravens were still
circling about overhead, as their ancestors did in the days of blood;
attached, I suppose, by hereditary instinct to this fatal place, “for
where the carcase is, there shall the eagles be gathered together.”

                               CHAPTER IV.

                         THE ACROPOLIS OF ATHENS.

I suppose there can be no doubt whatever that the ruins on the Acropolis
of Athens are the most remarkable in the world. There are ruins far
larger, such as the pyramids, and the remains of Karnak. There are ruins
far more perfectly preserved, such as the great Temple at Pæstum. There
are ruins more picturesque, such as the ivy-clad walls of mediæval abbeys
beside the rivers in the rich valleys of England. But there is no ruin,
all the world over, which combines so much striking beauty, so distinct a
type, so vast a volume of history, so great a pageant of immortal
memories. There is, in fact, no building on earth which can sustain the
burden of such greatness, and so the first visit to the Acropolis is and
must be disappointing. When the traveller reflects how all the Old World’s
culture culminated in Greece—all Greece in Athens—all Athens in its
Acropolis—all the Acropolis in the Parthenon—so much crowds upon the mind
confusedly that we look for some enduring monument whereupon we can fasten
our thoughts, and from which we can pass as from a visible starting-point
into all this history and all this greatness. And at first we look in
vain. The shattered pillars and the torn pediments will not bear so great
a strain: and the traveller feels forced to admit a sense of
disappointment, sore against his will. He has come a long journey into the
remoter parts of Europe; he has reached at last what his soul had longed
for many years in vain: and as is wont to be the case with all great human
longings, the truth does not fulfil his desire. The pang of disappointment
is all the greater when he sees that the tooth of time and the shock of
earthquake have done but little harm. It is the hand of man—of reckless
foe and ruthless lover—which has robbed him of his hope. This is the
feeling, I am sure, of more than have confessed it, when they first wound
their way through the fields of great blue aloes, and passed up through
the Propylæa into the presence of the Parthenon. But to those who have not
given way to these feelings—who have gone again and again and sat upon the
rock, and watched the ruins at every hour of the day, and in the
brightness of a moonlight night—to those who have dwelt among them, and
meditated upon them with love and awe—there first come back the remembered
glories of Athens’s greatness, when Olympian Pericles stood upon this rock
with careworn Phidias, and reckless Alcibiades with Pious Nicias and
fervent Demosthenes with caustic Phocion—when such men peopled the temples
in their worship, and all the fluted pillars and sculptured friezes were
bright with scarlet, and blue, and gold. And then the glory of remembered
history casts its hue over the war-stained remnants. Every touch of human
hand, every fluting, and drop, and triglyph, and cornice recalls the
master minds which produced this splendor; and so at last we tear
ourselves from it as from a thing of beauty, which even now we can never
know, and love, and meditate upon to our hearts’ content.

Nothing is more vexatious than the reflection, how lately these splendid
remains have been reduced to their present state. The Parthenon, being
used as a Greek church, remained untouched and perfect all through the
Middle Ages. Then it became a mosque, and the Erechtheum a seraglio, and
in this way survived with little damage till 1687, when, in the
bombardment by the Venetians under Morosini, a shell dropped into the
Parthenon, where the Turks had their powder stored, and blew out the whole
centre of the building. Eight or nine pillars at each side have been
thrown down, and have left a large gap, which so severs the front and rear
of the temple, that from the city below they look like the remains of two
different buildings. The great drums of these pillars are yet lying there,
in their order, just as they fell, and some money and care might set them
all up again in their places; yet there is not in Greece the patriotism or
even the common sense to enrich the country by this restoration, matchless
in its certainty as well as in its splendor.

But the Venetians were not content with their exploit. They were, about
this time, when they held possession of most of Greece, emulating the
Pisan taste for Greek sculptures; and the four fine lions standing at the
gate of the arsenal at Venice still testify to their zeal in carrying home
Greek trophies to adorn their capital. Morosini wished to take down the
sculptures of Phidias from the eastern pediment, but his workmen attempted
it so clumsily that the figures fell from their place, and were dashed to
pieces on the ground. The Italians also left their lasting mark on the
place by building a high square tower of wretched patched masonry at the
right side of the entrance gate, which had of late years become such an
eyesore to the better educated public, that when I was first at Athens
there was a subscription on foot to have it taken down—not only in order
to remove an obtrusive reminiscence of the invaders, but in the hope of
bringing to light some pillars of the Propylæa built into it, as well as
many inscribed stones, broken off and carried away from their places as
building material. This expectation has not been verified by the results.
The tower was taken down by the liberality of M. Schliemann, and there
were hardly any inscriptions or sculptures discovered.

A writer in the _Saturday Review_ (No. 1134) attacks this removal of the
Venetian tower, and my approval of it, as a piece of ignorant and
barbarous pedantry, which from love of the old Greek work, and its
sanctity, desires to destroy the later history of the place, and efface
the monuments of its fortunes in after ages.(36) This writer, whose
personality is unmistakable, thinks that even the Turkish additions to the
Parthenon should have been left untouched, so that the student of to-day
could meditate upon all these incongruities, and draw from them historical
lessons. And, assuredly, of all lessons conveyed, that of a victory over
the Turks would be to this writer the most important and the most

If this great man will not silence us with his authority, but let us argue
with him, we might suggest that there are, no doubt, cases where the
interests of art and of history are conflicting, and where a restoration
of pristine beauty must take away from the evidences of later history. The
real question is then, whether the gain in art is greater than the loss in
history. In the case of the Parthenon I think it is, now especially, when
records and drawings of the inferior additions can be secured. It may be
historically important to note the special work and character of every
generation of men; but surely for the education of the human race in the
laws of beauty, and in general culture, some ages are worth nothing, and
others worth everything; and I will not admit that this sort of education
is one whit less important than education in the facts of history.

Of course, artistic restorations are often carried too far; a certain age
may be arbitrarily assumed as the canon of perfection, and everything else
destroyed to make way for it. There are few ages which can lay claim to
such pre-eminence as the age of Pericles; yet even in this case, were the
mediæval additions really beautiful, we should, of course, hesitate to
disturb them. But the Venetian tower, though a picturesque addition to the
rock when seen from a distance, so much so, that I felt its loss when I
saw the Acropolis again, had no claim to architectural beauty; it was set
up in a place sacred to greater associations, and besides there was every
reasonable prospect that its removal would subserve historical ends of far
more importance than the Venetian occupation of the Acropolis. A few
inscriptions of the date of Pericles, containing treaties or other such
public matter, would, in my opinion, have perfectly justified its removal,
even though it did signify a victory of Christians over Turks.

In any case, it seems to me unfair that if every generation is to express
its knowledge by material results, we should not be permitted to record
our conviction that old Greek art or old Greek history is far greater and
nobler than either Turkish or Venetian history, and to testify this
opinion by making their monuments give way to it. This is the mark of
_our_ generation on the earth. Thus the eighteenth century was, no doubt,
a most important time in the history even of art, but where noble
thirteenth century churches have been dressed up and loaded with
eighteenth century additions, I cannot think the historical value of these
additions, as evidence of the taste or the history of their age,
counterbalances their artistic mischievousness, and I sympathize with the
nations who take them away. Of course, this principle may be overdriven,
and has been often abused. Against such abuses the remarks of the great
critic to whom I refer are a very salutary protest. But that any barbarous
or unsightly deforming of great artistic monuments is to be protected on
historical grounds—this is a principle of which neither his genius nor his
sneers will convince me. As for the charge of pedantry, no charge is more
easily made, but no charge is more easily retorted.

Strangely enough, his theory of the absolute sanctity of old brick and
mortar nearly agrees in results with the absolute carelessness about such
things, which is the peculiarity of his special enemies, the Turks. The
Turks, according to Dodwell, who is a most trustworthy witness, never
destroyed the old buildings unless they wanted them for masonry. He tells
us not to believe that the figures of the remaining pediment were used as
targets by the Turkish soldiers—a statement often made in his day. However
that may be, I have little doubt, from what I saw myself, that Greek
soldiers in the present day might so use them. But the Turks did take down
some pillars of the Propylæa while Dodwell was there, for building
purposes, an occurrence which gave that excellent observer the opportunity
of noting the old Greek way of fitting the drums of the pillars together.
He even got into his possession one of the pieces of cypress wood used as
plugs between the stone masses, and has given a drawing of it, and
explained the method of its use, in his admirable book.(37)

But the same traveller was also present when a far more determined and
systematic attack was made upon the remaining ruins of the Parthenon.
While he was travelling in the interior, Lord Elgin had obtained his
famous firman from the Sultan to take down and remove any antiquities or
sculptured stones he might require, and the infuriated Dodwell saw a set
of ignorant workmen, under equally ignorant overseers, let loose upon the
splendid ruins of the age of Pericles. He speaks with much good sense and
feeling of this proceeding. He is fully aware that the world would derive
inestimable benefit from the transplanting of these splendid fragments to
a more accessible place, but he cannot find language strong enough to
express his disgust at the way in which the thing was done. Incredible as
it may appear, Lord Elgin himself seems not to have superintended the
work, but to have left it to paid contractors, who undertook the job for a
fixed sum. Little as either Turks or Greeks cared for the ruins, Dodwell
says that a pang of grief was felt through all Athens at the desecration,
and that the contractors were obliged to bribe workmen with additional
wages to undertake the ungrateful task. He will not even mention Lord
Elgin by name, but speaks of him with disgust as “the person” who defaced
the Parthenon. He believes that had this person been at Athens himself,
his underlings could hardly have behaved in the reckless way they did,
pulling down more than they wanted, and taking no care to prop up and save
the work from which they had taken the supports.

He especially notices their scandalous proceeding upon taking up one of
the great white marble blocks which form the floor or stylobate of the
temple. They wanted to see what was underneath, and Dodwell, who was
there, saw the foundation—a substructure of Peiræic sandstone. But when
they had finished their inspection they actually left the block they had
removed, without putting it back into its place. So this beautiful
pavement, made merely of closely-fitting blocks, without any artificial or
foreign joinings, was ripped up, and the work of its destruction begun. I
am happy to add that, though a considerable rent was then made, most of it
is still intact, and the traveller of to-day may still walk on the very
stones which bore the tread of every great Athenian.

The question has often been discussed, whether Lord Elgin was justified in
carrying off this pediment, the metopes, and the friezes, from their
place; and the Greeks of to-day hope confidently that the day will come
when England will restore these treasures to their place. This is, of
course, absurd, and it may fairly be argued that people who would bombard
their antiquities in a revolution are not fit custodians of them in the
intervals of domestic quiet. This was my reply to an old Greek gentleman
who assailed the memory of Lord Elgin with reproaches. I told him that I
was credibly informed the Greeks had themselves bombarded the Turks in the
Acropolis during the war of liberation, as several great pieces knocked
out and starred on the western front testify. He confessed, to my
amusement, that he had himself been one of the assailants, and excused the
act by the necessities of war. I replied that, as the country seemed then
(1875) on the verge of a revolution, the sculptures might at least remain
in the British Museum until a secure government was established. And this
is the general verdict of learned men on the matter. They are agreed that
it was on the whole a gain to science to remove the figures, but all
stigmatize as barbarous and shameful the reckless way in which the work
was carried out.

I confess I approved of this removal until I came home from Greece, and
went again to see the spoil in its place in our great Museum. Though there
treated with every care—though shown to the best advantage, and explained
by excellent models of the whole building, and clear descriptions of their
place on it—notwithstanding all this, the loss that these wonderful
fragments had sustained by being separated from their place was so
terribly manifest—they looked so unmeaning in an English room, away from
their temple, their country, and their lovely atmosphere,—that one
earnestly wished they had never been taken from their place, even at the
risk of being made a target by the Greeks or the Turks. I am convinced,
too, that the few who would have seen them, as intelligent travellers, on
their famous rock, would have gained in quality the advantage now diffused
among many, but weakened and almost destroyed by the wrench in
associations, when the ornament is severed from its surface, and the
decoration of a temple exhibited apart from the temple itself. We may
admit, then, that it had been better if Lord Elgin had never taken away
these marbles. Nevertheless, it would be absurd to send them back, as has
recently been advocated (in 1890) by some ignorant English
sentimentalists. But I do think that the museum on the Acropolis should be
provided with a better set of casts of the figures than those which are
now to be seen there. They look very wretched, and carelessly prepared.

There are, indeed, preserved in the little museum on the Acropolis the
broken remains of the figures of the eastern pediment, which Morosini and
his Venetians endeavored to take down, as I have already told. They are
little more than pieces of drapery, of some use in reconstructing the
composition, but of none in judging the effect of that famous group.

But we must not yet enter into this little museum, which is most properly
put out of sight, at the lowest or east corner of the rock, and which we
do not reach till we have passed through all the ruins. As the traveller
stands at the inner gate of the Propylæa, he notices at once all the
perfect features of the buildings. Over his head are the enormous
architrave-stones of the Propylæa—blocks of white marble over twenty-two
feet long, which span the gateway from pillar to pillar. Opposite, above
him and a little to the right, is the mighty Parthenon, not identical in
orientation, as the architects have observed, with the gateway, but
varying from it slightly, so that sun and shade would play upon it at
moments differing from the rest, and thus produce a perpetual variety of
lights. This principle is observed in the setting of the Erechtheum also.
To the left, and directly over the town, stands that beautifully decorated
little Ionic temple, or combination of temples, with the stately Caryatids
looking inwards and towards the Parthenon. These two buildings are the
most perfect examples we have of their respective styles. We see at first
sight the object of the artists who built them. The one is the embodiment
of majesty, the other of grace. The very ornaments of the Parthenon are
large and massive; those of the Erechtheum for the most part intricate and
delicate. Accordingly, the Parthenon is in the Doric style, or rather in
the Doric style so refined and adorned as to be properly called the Attic

For the more we study old Athenian art—nay, even old Athenian character
generally—the more are we convinced that its greatness consists in the
combination of Doric sternness and Ionic grace. It is hardly a mediation
between them; it is the adoption of the finer elements of both, and the
union of them into a higher harmony. The most obvious illustration of this
is the drama, where the Ionic element of recitation and the Doric choral
hymn were combined—and let me observe that the Ionic element was more
modified than the Doric. In the same way Attic architecture used the
strength and majesty of the older style which we see at Corinth and
Pæstum; but relieved it, partly by lighter proportions, partly by rich
decorations, which gave the nearer observer an additional and different
delight, while from afar the large features were of the old Doric majesty.
Even in the separate decorations, such as the metopes and friezes, the
graceful women and the long-flowing draperies of the Ionic school were
combined with the muscular nakedness of the Doric athlete, as represented
by Doric masters. Individual Attic masters worked out these contrasted
types completely, as we may see by the _Discobolus_ of Myron, a
contemporary of Phidias, and the _Apollo Musagetes_ of Scopas, who lived
somewhat later.(38)

In fact, all Athenian character, in its best days, combined the
versatility, and luxury, and fondness of pleasure, which marked the
Ionian, with the energy, the public spirit, and the simplicity which was
said to mark the better Doric states. The Parthenon and Erechtheum express
all this in visible clearness. The Athenians felt that the Ionic elegance
and luxury of style was best suited to a small building; and so they
lavished ornament and color upon this beautiful little house, but made the
Doric temple the main object of all the sacred height.

It is worth while to consult the professional architects, like Revett,(39)
who have examined these buildings with a critical eye. Not only were the
old Athenian architects perfect masters of their materials, of accurate
measurement, of precise correspondence, of all calculations as to strain
and pressure—they even for artistic, as well as for practical purposes,
deviated systematically from accuracy, in order that the harmony of the
building might profit by this imperceptible discord. They gave and took,
like a tuner tempering the chords of a musical instrument. The stylobate
is not exactly level, but curved so as to rise four inches in the centre;
the pillars, which themselves swell slightly in the middle, are not set
perpendicularly, but with a slight incline inwards: and this effect is
given in the Caryatids by making them rest their weight on the outer foot
at each corner, as Viollet-le-duc has admirably explained. Again, the
separation of the pillars is less at the corners, and gradually increases
as you approach the centre of the building. The base of the pediment is
not a right line, but is curved downward. It is not my province to go into
minute details on such points, which can only be adequately discussed by
architects. What I have here to note is, that the old Greek builders had
gone beyond mere mathematical accuracy and regularity. They knew a higher
law than the slavish repetition of accurate distances or intervals; they
had learned to calculate effects, to allow for optical illusions; they
knew how to sacrifice real for ideal symmetry.

The sculptures of the Parthenon have given rise to a very considerable
literature—so considerable that the books and treatises upon them now
amount to a respectable library. The example was set by the architect of
the building itself, Ictinus, who wrote a special treatise on his
masterpiece. As is well known, it was sketched in chalk by the French
painter, Jacques Carrey, a few years before the explosion of 1687; and
though he had but very imperfect notions of Greek art, and introduced a
good deal of seventeenth century style into the chaste designs of Phidias,
still these drawings, of which there are copies in the British Museum, are
of great value in helping us to put together the broken and imperfect
fragments which remain.(40)

The sculptured decorations of the building are of three kinds, or applied
in three distinct places. In the first place, the two triangular
_pediments_ over the east and west front were each filled with a group of
statues more than life-size—the one representing the birth of Athene, and
the other her contest with Poseidon for the patronage of Athens. Some of
the figures from one of these are the great draped headless women in the
centre of the Parthenon room of the British Museum: other fragments of
those broken by the Venetians are preserved at Athens. There are,
secondly, the _metopes_, or plaques of stone inserted into the frieze
between the triglyphs, and carved in relief with a single small group on
each. The height of these surfaces does not exceed four feet. There was,
thirdly, a band of reliefs running all around the external wall at the top
of the cella, inside the surrounding pillars, and opposite to them, and
this is known as the _frieze of the cella_. It consists of a great
Panathenaic procession, starting from the western front, and proceeding in
two divisions along the parallel north and south walls, till they meet on
the eastern front, which was the proper front of the temple. Among the
Elgin marbles there are a good many of the metopes, and also of the pieces
of the cella frieze preserved. Several other pieces of the frieze are
preserved at Athens, and altogether we can reconstruct fully three-fourths
of this magnificent composition.

There seems to me the greatest possible difference in merit between the
metopes and the other two parts of the ornament. The majority of the
metopes which I have seen represent either a Greek and an Amazon or a
Centaur and Lapith, in violent conflict. It appeared plainly to me that
the main object of these contorted groups was to break in upon the
squareness and straightness of all the other members of the Doric frieze
and architrave. This is admirably done, as there is no conceivable design
which more completely breaks the stiff rectangles of the entablature than
the various and violent curves of wrestling figures. But, otherwise, these
groups do not appear to me very interesting, except so far as everything
in such a place, and the work of such hands, must be interesting.

It is very different with the others. Of these the pediment
sculptures—which were, of course, the most important, and which were
probably the finest groups ever designed—are so much destroyed or
mutilated that the effect of the composition is entirely lost, and we can
only admire the matchless power and grace of the torsos which remain. The
grouping of the figures was limited, and indicated by the triangular shape
of the surface to be decorated—standing figures occupying the centre,
while recumbent or stooping figures occupied the ends. But, as in poetry,
where the shackles of rhyme and metre, which encumber the thoughts of
ordinary writers, are the very source which produces in the true poet the
highest and most precious beauties of expression; so in sculpture and
painting, fixed conditions seem not to injure, but to enhance and perfect,
the beauty and symmetry attainable in the highest art. We have apparently
in the famous Niobe group, preserved in Florence, the elements of a
similar composition, perhaps intended to fill the triangular tympanum of a
temple; and even in these weak Roman copies of a Greek masterpiece we can
see how beautifully the limited space given to the sculpture determined
the beauty and variety of the figures, and their attitudes. It was in this
genius of grouping that I fancy Phidias chiefly excelled all his
contemporaries: single statues of Polycletus are said to have been
preferred in competitions. To us the art of the _Discobolus_ of Myron
seems fully as great as that of any of the figures of the Parthenon; but
no other artist seems to have possessed the same architectonic power of
adapting large subjects and processions of figures to their places as
Phidias.(41) How far he was helped or advised by Ictinus, or even by
Pericles, it is not easy to say. But I do not fancy that Greek statesmen
in those days studied everything else in the world besides statecraft, and
were known as antiquaries, and linguists, and _connoisseurs_ of china and
paintings, and theologians, and novelists—in fact, everything under the
sun. This many-sidedness, as they now call it, which the Greeks called
_πολυπραγμοσύνη_ and thought to be meddlesomeness, was not likely to
infect Pericles. He was very intimate with Phidias, and is said to have
constantly watched his work—hardly, I fancy, as an adviser, but rather as
an humble and enthusiastic admirer of an art which did realize its ideal,
while he himself was striving in vain with rebel forces to attain his
object in politics.

The extraordinary power of grouping in the designs of Phidias is, however,
very completely shown us in the better preserved band of the cella frieze,
along which the splendid Panathenaic procession winds its triumphal way.
Over the eastern doorway were twelve noble sitting figures on either side
of the officiating priest, presenting the state robe, or _peplos_, for the
vestment of Athene. These figures are explained as gods by the critics;
but they do not in either beauty or dignity, excel those of many of the
Athenians forming the procession. A very fine slab, containing three of
these figures, is now to be seen in the little museum in the Acropolis.
This group over the main entrance is the end and summary of all the
procession, and corresponds with the yearly ceremony in this way, that, as
the state entrance, or Propylæa, led into the Acropolis at the west end,
or rear of the Parthenon, the procession in all probability separated into
two, which went along both sides of the colonnade, and met again at the
eastern door. Accordingly, over the western end, or rear, the first
preparations of the procession are being made, which then starts along the
north and south walls; the southern being chiefly occupied with the
cavalcade of the Athenian knights, the northern with the carrying of
sacred vessels and leading of victims for the sacrifice. The frieze over
the western door is still in its place; but, having lost its bright
coloring, and being in any case at a great height, and only visible from
close underneath, on account of the pillars and architrave in front, it
produces no effect, and is hardly discernible. Indeed it evidently was
never more than an architectural ornament, in spite of all its artistic

The greater number of the pieces carried away by Lord Elgin seem taken
from the equestrian portion, in which groups of cantering and curveting
horses, and men in the act of mounting, and striving to curb restive
steeds, are brought together with extraordinary effect. We can see plainly
how important a part of Athenian splendor depended upon their knights, and
how true are the hints of Aristophanes about their social standing and
aristocratic tone. The reins and armor, or at least portions of it, were
laid on in metal, and have accordingly been long since plundered; nor has
any obvious trace remained of the rich colors with which the whole was
painted. There appears no systematic uniform, some of the riders being
dressed in helmets and cuirasses, some in felt wide-awakes, and short
flying cloaks. It must remain uncertain whether the artist did not seek to
obtain variety by this deviation from a fixed dress. There can be no doubt
that Greek art was very bold and free in such matters. On the other hand,
the type of the faces does not exhibit much variety. At the elevation
above the spectator which this frieze occupied, individual expression
would have been thrown away on figures of three feet in height: the
general dress, and the attitudes, may have been, when colored, easily

But I confess that this equestrian procession does not appear to me so
beautiful as the rows of figures on foot (carrying pitchers and other
implements, leading victims, and playing pipes), which seem to come from
the north wall, and of which the most beautiful slabs are preserved at
Athens. Here we can see best of all that peculiar stamp which shows the
age of Phidias to have been the most perfect in the whole of Greek
sculpture. This statement will not be accepted readily by the general
public. The Apollo Belvedere, the Capitoline Venus, the Dying
Gladiator—these are what we have been usually taught to regard as the
greatest wonders of Greek plastic art; and those who have accustomed
themselves to this realistic and sensuous beauty will not easily see the
greatness and the perfection of the solemn and chaste art of Phidias.

  [Illustration: Part of the West Frieze of the Parthenon, Athens]

Nevertheless, it will always be held by men who have thought long enough
on the subject, that the epoch when Myron and Phidias, Polycletus and
Polygnotus, broke loose from archaic stiffness into flowing grace was,
indeed, the climax of the arts. There seems a sort of natural law—of slow
and painful origin—of growing development—of sudden bloom into
perfection—of luxury and effeminacy—of gradual debasement and decay—which
affects almost all the arts as well as most of the growths of nature. In
Greek art particularly this phenomenon perpetually reappears. There can be
little doubt that the Iliad of Homer was the first and earliest long
creation in poetry, the first attempt, possibly with the aid of writing,
to rise from short disconnected lays to the greatness of a formal epic.
And despite all its defects of plan, its want of firm consistency, and its
obvious incongruities, this greatest of all poems has held its place
against the more finished and interesting Odyssey, the more elaborated
Cyclic poems, the more learned Alexandrian epics—in fact, the first full
bloom of the art was by far the most perfect. It is the same thing with
Greek tragedy. No sooner had the art escaped from the rude wagon, or
stage, or whatever it was, of Thespis, than we find Æschylus, with
imperfect appliances, with want of experience, with many crudenesses and
defects, a tragic poet never equalled again in Greek history. Of course
the modern critics of his own country preferred, first Sophocles, and then
Euripides—great poets, as Praxiteles and Lysippus were great sculptors,
and like them, perhaps, greater masters of human passion and of
soul-stirring pathos. But for all that, Æschylus is _the_ tragic poet of
the Greeks—the poet who has reached beyond his age and nation, and
fascinated the greatest men even of our century, who seek not to turn back
upon his great but not equal rivals. Shelley and Mr. Swinburne have both
made Æschylus their master, and to his inspiration owe the most splendid
of their works.

I will not prosecute these considerations further, though there may be
other examples in the history of art. But I will say this much concerning
the psychological reasons of so strange a phenomenon. It may, of course,
be assumed that the man who breaks through the old, stiff conventional
style which has bound his predecessors with its shackles is necessarily a
man of strong and original genius. Thus, when we are distinctly told of
Polygnotus that he first began to vary the features of the human face from
their archaic stiffness, we have before us a man of bold originality, who
quarrelled with the tradition of centuries, and probably set against him
all the prejudices and the consciences of the graver public. But to us,
far different features seem prominent. For in spite of all his boldness,
when we compare him with his forerunners, we are struck with his modesty
and devoutness, as compared with his successors. There is in him, first, a
devoutness toward his work, an old-fashioned piety, which they had not;
and as art in this shape is almost always a handmaid of religion, this
devoutness is a prominent feature. Next, there is a certain reticence and
modesty in such a man, which arises partly from the former feeling, but
still more from a conservative fear of violent change, and a healthy
desire to make his work not merely a contrast to, but a development of,
the older traditions. Then the old draped goddess of religious days, such
as the _Venus Genitrix_ in Florence, made way for the splendid but yet
more human handling which we may see in the Venus of Melos, now in the
Louvre. This half-draped but yet thoroughly new and chaste conception
leads naturally to the type said to have been first dared by Praxiteles,
who did not disguise the use of very unworthy human models to produce his
famous, or perhaps infamous ideal, which is best known in the _Venus de
Medici_, but perhaps more perfectly represented in the Venus of the
Capitol. There is, too, in the earlier artist that limited mastery over
materials, which, like the laws of the poet’s language, only condenses and
intensifies the beauty of his work.

Such reserve, as compared with the later phases of the art, is nowhere so
strongly shown as in the matter of _expression_. This is, indeed, the rock
on which most arts have ultimately made shipwreck. When the power over
materials and effects becomes complete, so that the artist can as it were
perform feats of conquest; when at the same time the feeling has died out
that he is treading upon holy ground, we have splendid achievements in the
way of intense expression, whether physical or mental, of force, of
momentary action, of grief or joy, which are good and great, but which
lead imitators into a false track, and so ruin the art which they were
thought to perfect. Thus over-reaching itself, art becomes an anxious
striving after display, and, like an affected and meretricious woman,
repels the sounder natures which had else been attracted by her beauty. In
Greek art especially, as I have already noticed in discussing the Attic
tomb reliefs, this excess of expression was long and well avoided, and
there is no stronger and more marked feature in its good epochs than the
reserve of which I have spoken. It is the chief quality which makes the
school of Phidias matchless. There is in it beauty of form, there is a
good deal of action, there is in the frieze an almost endless variety; but
withal there is the strictest symmetry, the closest adherence to fixed
types, the absence of all attempt at expressing passing emotion. There is
still the flavor of the old stiff simplicity about the faces, about the
folds of the robes, about the type of the horses; but the feeling of the
artist shines through the archaic simplicity with much clearer light than
it does in the more ambitious attempts of the later school. The greatest
works of Phidias—his statue of Zeus at Elis, and his Athene in the
Parthenon—are lost to us; but the ancients are unanimous that for simple
and sustained majesty no succeeding sculptor, however brilliant, had
approached his ideal.(42)

We may say almost the same of the great temple which he adorned with his
genius. It is just that perfection of the Doric temple which has escaped
from the somewhat ponderous massiveness and simplicity of the older
architecture, while it sacrificed no element of majesty to that grace and
delicacy which marks, later and more developed Greek architecture. On this
Acropolis the Athenians determined to show what architecture could reach
in majesty and what in delicacy. So they set up the Parthenon in that
absolute perfection where strength and solidity come out enhanced, but in
no way overlaid, with ornament. They also built the Erechtheum, where they
adopted the Ionic Order, and covered their entablature with bands of small
and delicate tracing, which, with its gilding and coloring, was a thing to
be studied minutely and from the nearest distance. Though the inner
columns of the Propylæa were Ionic (and they were very large), it appears
that large temples in that Order were not known in Attica. But for small
and graceful buildings it was commonly used, and of these the Erechtheum
was the most perfect.

In its great days, and even as Pausanias saw it, the Acropolis was covered
with statues, as well as with shrines. It was not merely an Holy of Holies
in religion; it was also a palace and museum of art. At every step and
turn the traveller met new objects of interest. There were archaic
specimens, chiefly interesting to the antiquarian and the devotee; there
were the great masterpieces which were the joint admiration of the artist
and the vulgar. Even all the sides and slopes of the great rock were
honeycombed into sacred grottos, with their altars and their gods, or
studded with votive monuments. All these lesser things are fallen away and
gone; the sacred caves are filled with rubbish and desecrated with worse
than neglect. The grotto of Pan and Apollo is difficult of access, and
was, when I first saw it, an object of disgust rather than of interest.
There are left but the remnants of the surrounding wall, and the ruins of
the three principal buildings, which were the envy and wonder of all the
civilized world.

The walls are particularly well worth studying, as there are to be found
in them specimens of all kinds of building, beginning from prehistoric
times. There is even plain evidence that the builders of the age of
Pericles were not by any means the best wall builders; for the masonry of
the wall called the Wall of Themistocles, which is well preserved in the
lowest part of the course along the north slope, is by far the most
beautifully finished work of the kind which can anywhere be seen: and it
seems to correspond accurately to the lower strata of the foundations on
which the Parthenon was built. The builders of Pericles’s time added a
couple of layers of stone to raise the site of the temple, and their work
contrasts curiously in its roughness with the older platform. Any one who
will note the evident admiration of Thucydides for the walls built round
the Peiræus by the men of an earlier generation will see good reason for
this feeling when they examine these details.

The beautiful little temple of Athena Nike, though outside the
Propylæa—thrust out as it were on a sort of great bastion high on the
right as you enter—must still be called a part, and a very striking part,
of the Acropolis. It is only of late years that the site has been cleared
of rubbish and modern stonework, and the temple rebuilt from the original
materials, thus destroying, no doubt, some precious traces of Turkish
occupation which the fastidious historian may regret, but realizing to us
a beautiful Greek temple of the Ionic Order in some completeness. The
peculiarity of this building, which is perched upon a platform of stone
and commands a splendid prospect, is, that its tiny peribolus, or sacred
enclosure, was surrounded by a parapet of stone slabs covered with
exquisite reliefs of winged Victories, in various attitudes. Some of these
slabs are now in the Museum of the Acropolis, and are of great
interest—apparently less severe than the school of Phidias, and therefore
later in date, but still of the best epoch and of marvellous grace. The
position of this temple also is not parallel with the Propylæa, but turned
slightly outward, so that the light strikes it at moments when the other
building is not illuminated. At the opposite side is a very well preserved
chamber, and a fine colonnade at right angles with the gate, which looks
like a guard-room. This is the chamber commonly called the Pinacotheca,
where Pausanias saw pictures of frescoes by Polygnotus.

Of the two museums on the Acropolis, the principal one requires little
comment and is very easily seen and appreciated. In an ante-room are the
archaic figures of which I have already spoken, with the remains taken
from about the Parthenon, together with casts of the Elgin marbles, and
many small and beautiful reliefs, apparently belonging to votive
monuments. There are also two figures of young men, with the heads and
feet lost, which are of peculiarly beautiful Parian marble, and of very
fine workmanship. But the visitor is very likely to pass by the little
Turkish house, which is well worth a visit, for here are the cypress plugs
from the pillars of the Parthenon or Propylæa; here are also splendid
specimens of archaic vases, such as are very hard indeed to find in any
other collection. The large jars from Melos which are here to be seen have
the most striking resemblance in their decoration to the fragment of a
similar vessel, with a row of armed figures round it, which was found at
Mycenæ, and is now in the Ministry of Public Instruction. Lastly, there
stands in the window a very delicately worked little Satyr, as the pointed
ears and tail show, but of voluptuous form—rather of the hermaphrodite
type: there is hardly a better preserved statuette than this anywhere at
Athens. It seemed a pity that such a gem should be hidden away in so
obscure a place; and I hope that by this time it has been brought into the
larger and official museum.

I will venture to conclude this chapter with a curious comparison. It was
my good fortune, a few months after I had seen the Acropolis, to visit a
rock in Ireland, which, to my great surprise, bore many curious analogies
to it—I mean the rock of Cashel. Both were strongholds of religion—honored
and hallowed above all other places in their respective countries—both
were covered with buildings of various dates, each representing peculiar
ages and styles in art. And as the Greeks, I suppose for effect’s sake,
have varied the posture of their temples, so that the sun illumines them
at different moments, the old Irish have varied the orientation of their
churches that the sun might rise directly over against the east window on
the anniversary of the patron saint. There is at Cashel the great
Cathedral—in loftiness and grandeur the Parthenon of the place; there is
the smaller and more beautiful Cormac’s Chapel, the holiest of all, like
the Erechtheum at Athens. Again, the great sanctuary upon the Rock of
Cashel was surrounded by a cluster of abbeys about its base, which were
founded there by pious men on account of the greatness and holiness of the
archiepiscopal seat. Of these, one remains, like the Theseum at Athens,
eclipsed by the splendor of the Acropolis.

The prospect from the Irish sanctuary has, indeed, endless contrasts to
that from the pagan stronghold, but they are suggestive contrasts, and
such as are not without a certain harmony. The plains around both are
framed by mountains, of which the Irish are probably the more picturesque;
and if the light upon the Greek hills is the fairest, the native color of
the Irish is infinitely more rich. So, again, the soil of Attica is light
and dusty, whereas the Golden Vale of Tipperary is among the richest and
greenest in the world. Still, both places were the noblest homes, each in
their own country, of religions which civilized, humanized, and exalted
the human race; and if the Irish Acropolis is left in dim obscurity by the
historical splendor of the Parthenon, on the other hand, the gods of the
Athenian stronghold have faded out before the moral greatness of the faith
preached from the Rock of Cashel.

                                CHAPTER V.


There are few recent excavations about Athens which have been so
productive as those along the south slope of the Acropolis. In the
conflicts and the wear of ages a vast quantity of earth, and walls, and
fragments of buildings has either been cast, or has rolled, down this
steep descent, so that it was with a certainty of good results that the
Archæological Society of Athens undertook to clear this side of the rock
of all the accumulated rubbish. Several precious inscriptions were found,
which had been thrown down from the rock; and in April, 1884, the whole
plan of the temple of Æsculapius had been uncovered, and another step
attained in fixing the much disputed topography of this part of Athens.

And yet we can hardly call this a beginning. Some twenty-five years ago, a
very extensive and splendidly successful excavation was made on an
adjoining site, when a party of German archæologists laid bare the Theatre
of Dionysus—the great theatre in which Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides
brought out their immortal plays before an immortal audience. There is
nothing more delightful than to descend from the Acropolis, and rest
awhile in the comfortable marble arm-chairs with which the front row of
the circuit is occupied. They are of the pattern usual with the sitting
portrait statues of the Greeks—very deep, and with a curved back, which
exceeds both in comfort and in grace any chairs designed by modern
workmen.(43) Each chair has the name of a priest inscribed on it, showing
how the theatre among the Greeks corresponded to our cathedral, and this
front row to the stalls of canons and prebendaries.

  [Illustration: Theatre of Dionysus, Athens]

But unfortunately all this sacerdotal prominence is probably the work of
the later restorers of the theatre. For after having been first beautified
and adorned with statues by Lycurgus (in Demosthenes’s time), it was again
restored and embellished by Herodes Atticus, or about his time, so that
the theatre, as we now have it, can only be called the building of the
second or third century after Christ. The front wall of the stage, which
is raised some feet above the level of the empty pit, is adorned with a
row of very elegant sculptures, amongst which one—a shaggy old man, in a
stooping posture, represented as coming out from within, and holding up
the stone above him—is particularly striking. Some Greek is said to have
knocked off, by way of amusement, the heads of most of these figures since
they were discovered, but this I do not know upon any better authority
than ordinary report. The pit or centre of the theatre is empty, and was
never in Greek days occupied by seats, but a wooden structure was set up
in advance of the stage, and on this the chorus performed their dances and
sang their odes. But now there is a circuit of upright slabs of stone
close to the front seats, which can hardly have been an arrangement of the
old Greek theatre. They are generally supposed to have been added when the
building came to be used for contests of gladiators, which Dion Chrysostom
tells us were imported from Corinth in his day.

All these later additions and details are, I fear, calculated to detract
from the reader’s interest in this theatre, which I should indeed
regret—for nothing can be more certain than that this is the veritable
stone theatre which was built when the wooden one broke down, at the great
competition of Æschylus and Pratinas; and though front seats may have been
added, and slight modifications introduced, the general structure can
never have required alteration. The main body of the curved rows of seats
have no backs, but are so deep as to leave plenty of room for the feet of
the people next above; and I fancy that in the old times the _προεδρία_ or
right of sitting in the front rows was not given to priests, but to
foreign embassies, along with the chief magistrates of Athens. The cost of
admission was two obols to all the seats of the house not specially
reserved, and such reservation was only for persons of official rank, and
by no means for richer people, or for a higher entrance money—a thing
which would not have been tolerated, I believe, for an instant by the
Athenian democracy.(44) When the state treasury grew full with the tribute
of the subject cities, the citizens had this sum, and at times even more,
distributed to them in order that no one might be excluded from the annual
feast, and so the whole free population of Athens came together without
expense to worship the gods by enjoying themselves in this great theatre.

It is indeed very large, though exaggerated statements have been made
about its size. It is generally stated that the enormous number of thirty
thousand people could fit into it—a statement I think incredible;(45) and
it is not nearly as large as other theatres I have seen, at Syracuse, at
Megalopolis, or even at Argos. This also is certain, that any one speaking
on the stage, as it now is, can be easily and distinctly heard by people
sitting on the highest row of seats now visible, which cannot, I fancy,
have been far from the original top of the house. Such a thing were
impossible where thirty thousand people, or a crowd approaching that
number, were seated. We hear, however, that the old actors had recourse to
various artificial means of increasing the range of their voices, which
shows that in some theatres the difficulty was felt; and in the extant
plays, _asides_ are so rare(46) that it must have been difficult to give
them with effect.

In one respect, however, the voice must have been more easily heard
through the old house than it now is through the ruins. The back of the
stage was built up with a high wooden structure to represent fixed scenes,
and even a sort of upper story on which gods and flying figures sometimes
appeared—an arrangement which of course threw the voice forward into the
theatre. There used to be an old idea, not perhaps yet extinct, that the
Greek audiences had the lovely natural scenery of their country for their
stage decoration, and that they embraced in one view the characters on the
stage, and the coasts and islands for miles behind them. Nothing can be
more absurd, or more opposed to Greek feeling on such matters. In the
first place, as is well known, a feeling for the beauty of landscape as
such was almost foreign to the Greeks, who never speak of the picturesque
in their literature without special relation to the sounds of nature, or
to the intelligences which were believed to pervade and animate it: a fine
view as such had little attraction for them. In the second place, they
came to the theatre to enjoy poetry, and the poetry of character, of
passion, of the relation of man and his destiny to the course of Divine
Providence and Divine justice—in short, to assume a frame of mind
perfectly inconsistent with the distractions of landscape. For that
purpose they had their stage, as we now know, filled in at the back with
high painted scenes, which in earlier days were made of light woodwork and
canvas, to bear easy removal, or change, but which in most Græco-Roman
theatres, like the very perfect one at Aspendus, or indeed that of Herodes
Atticus close by at Athens, were a solid structure of at least two stories
high, which absolutely excluded all prospect.

But even had the Athenians not been protected by this arrangement from
outer disturbance, I found by personal investigation that there was no
view for them to enjoy! Except from the highest tiers, and therefore from
the worst places, the sea and islands are not visible, and the only view
to be obtained, supposing that houses did not obstruct it, would have been
the dull, somewhat bleak, undulating hills which stretch between the
theatre and Phalerum.

The back scenes of the Greek theatres were painted as ours are, and at
first, I suppose, very rudely indeed, for we hear particularly of a
certain Agatharchus, who developed the art of scene-painting by adopting
perspective.(47) The other appurtenances of the Greek theatre were equally
rude, or perhaps I should say equally stiff and conventional, and removed
from any attempt to reproduce ordinary life—at least this was the case
with their tragedy, their satyric dramas, and their older comedy, which
dealt in masks, in fixed stage dresses, in tragic padding, and
stuffing-out to an unnatural size, in comic distortions and indecent
emblems—in all manner of conventional ugliness, we should say, handed down
from the first religious origin of these performances, and maintained with
that strict conservatism which marks the course of all great Greek art.
The stage was long and narrow, the means of changing scenes cumbrous and
not frequently employed; the number of the actors in tragedy strictly
limited—four is an unusual number, exceptionally employed in the second
_Œdipus_ of Sophocles. In fact, we cannot say that the Greek drama ever
became externally like ours till the comedies of Menander and his school.
These poets, living in an age when serious interests had decayed, when
tragedy had ceased to be religious, and comedy political, when neither was
looked upon any longer as a great public engine of instruction or of
censure, turned to pictures of social life, not unlike our genteel comedy;
and in this species of drama we may assert that the Greeks, except perhaps
for masks, imitated the course of ordinary life.

It is indeed said of Euripides, the real father of this new comedy, that
he brought down the tragic stage from ideal heroism to the passions and
meannesses of ordinary men; and Sophocles, his rival, the supposed
perfection of an Attic tragedian, is reputed to have observed that he
himself had represented men as they ought to be, Euripides as they were.
But any honest reader of Euripides will see at once how far he too is
removed from the ordinary realisms of life. He saw, indeed, that human
passion is the subject, of all others, which will permanently interest
human thought; he felt that the insoluble problems of Free Will and Fate,
of the mercy and the cruelty of Providence, were too abstract on the one
hand, and too specially Greek on the other; that, after all, human nature
as such is the great universal field on which any age can reach the
sympathy and the interest of its remotest successors. But the passions
painted by Euripides were no ordinary passions—they were great and
unnatural crimes, forced upon suffering mortals by the action of hostile
deities; the virtues of Euripides were no ordinary virtues—they were great
heroic self-sacrifices, and showed the Divine element in our nature, which
no tyranny of circumstances can efface. His Phædra and Medea on the one
hand, his Alcestis and Iphigenia on the other, were strictly characters as
they ought to be in tragedy, and not as they commonly are in life; and in
outward performance Euripides did not depart from the conventional
stiffness, from the regular development, from the somewhat pompous and
artificial dress in which tragedy had been handed down to him by his

They, too, had not despised human nature—how could they? Both Æschylus and
Sophocles were great painters of human character, as well in its passions
as in its reasonings. But the former had made it accessory, so to speak,
to the great religious lessons which he taught; the latter had at least
affected to do so, or imagined that he did, while really the labyrinths of
human character had enticed and held him in their endless maze. Thus, all
through Greek tragedy there was on the one hand a strong element of
conventional stiffness, of adherence to fixed subjects, and scenes, and
masks, and dresses—of adherence to fixed metres, and regular dialogues,
where question and answer were balanced line for line, and the cast of
characters was as uniform as it is in the ordinary Italian operas of our
own day. But on the other hand, these tragic poets were great masters of
expression, profound students not only of the great world problems, but of
the problems of human nature, exquisite masters too of their language, not
only in its dramatic force, but in its lyric sweetness; they summed up in
their day all that was great and beautiful in Greek poetry, and became the
fullest and ripest fruit of that wonderful tree of the knowledge of good
and evil, which even now makes those that taste it to be as gods.

Such, then, were the general features of the tragedy which the Athenian
public, and the married women, including many strangers, assembled to
witness in broad daylight under the Attic sky. They were not sparing of
their time. They ate a good breakfast before they came. They ate
sweetmeats in the theatre when the acting was bad. Each play was short,
and there was doubtless an interval of rest. But it is certain that each
poet contended as a rule with four plays against his competitors; and as
there were certainly three of them, there must have been twelve plays
acted; this seems to exceed the endurance of any public, even allowing two
days for the performance. We are not fully informed on these points. We do
not even know how Sophocles, who contended with single plays, managed to
compete against Euripides, who contended with sets of four. But we know
that the judges were chosen by lot, and we strongly suspect, from the
records of their decisions, that they often decided wrongly. We also know
that the poets sought to please the audience by political and patriotic
allusions, and to convey their dislike of opposed cities or parties by
drawing their representatives in odious colors on the stage. Thus
Euripides is never tired of traducing the Spartans in the character of
Menelaus. Æschylus fights the battle of the Areopagus in his _Eumenides_.

But besides all this, it seems that tragic poets were regarded as the
proper teachers of morality, and that the stage among the Greeks occupied
somewhat the place of the modern pulpit. This is the very attitude which
Racine assumes in the Preface to his _Phèdre_. He suggests that it ought
to be considered the best of his plays, because there is none in which he
has so strictly rewarded virtue and punished vice.(48) He alters, in his
_Iphigénie_, the Greek argument from which he copied, because as he tells
us (again in the Preface) it would never do to have so virtuous a person
as Iphigenia sacrificed. This, however, would not have been a
stumbling-block to the Greek poet, whose capricious and spiteful gods, or
whose deep conviction of the stain of an ancestral curse, would justify
catastrophies which the Christian poet, with his trust in a benevolent
Providence, could not admit. But, indeed, in most other points the
so-called imitations of the Greek drama by Racine and his school are
anything but imitations. The main characters and the general outline of
the plot are no doubt borrowed. The elegance and power of the dialogue are
more or less successfully copied. But the natural and familiar scenes,
which would have been shocking to the court of Louis XIV.—“ces scenes
entremêlées de bas comique, et ces fréquents exemples de mauvais ton et
d’une familiarité choquante,” as Barthélémy says—such characters as the
guard in the _Antigone_, the nurse in the _Choephorœ_, the Phrygian in the
_Orestes_, were carefully expunged. Moreover, love affairs and court
intrigues were everywhere introduced, and the language was never allowed
to descend from its pomp and grandeur. Most of the French dramatists were
indeed bad Greek scholars,(49) and knew the plays from which they copied
either through very poor translations, or through the rhetorical
travesties surviving under the name of Seneca, which were long thought
fully equal to the great and simple originals.

So the French of the seventeenth century, starting from these
half-understood models, and applying rigidly the laws of tragedy which
they had deduced, with questionable logic, from that very untrustworthy
guide, our text of the _Poetics_ of Aristotle, created a drama which
became so unlike what it professed to imitate, that most good modern
French critics have occupied themselves with showing the contrasts of old
Greek tragedy to that of the modern stage. They are always praising the
_naiveté_, the familiarity, the irregularity of the old dramatists; they
are always noting touches of common life and of ordinary motive quite
foreign to the dignity of Racine, and Voltaire, and Alfieri.(50) They
think that the real parallel is to be found not among them, but in
Shakespeare. Thus their education makes them emphasize the very qualities
which we admit, but should not cite, as the peculiarities of Greek
tragedy. _We_ are rather struck with its conventionalities, with its
strict adherence to fixed form, with its somewhat stilted diction, and we
wonder how it came to be so great and natural within these trammels.

Happily the tendency in our own day to reproduce antiquity faithfully, and
not in modern recasting, has led to the translating, and even to the
representing, of Greek tragedies in their purity, and it does not require
a knowledge of Greek to obtain some real acquaintance with these great
masterpieces. Mr. and Mrs. Browning, Dean Milman, Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr.
Whitelaw, and many others, have placed faithful and elegant versions
within our reach. But since I have cautioned the reader not versed in
Greek against adopting Racine’s or Alfieri’s plays as adequate
substitutes, I venture to give the same advice concerning the more Greek
and antique plays of Mr. Swinburne, which, in spite of their splendor, are
still not really Greek plays, but modern plays based on Greek models. The
relief produced by ordinary talk from ordinary characters, which has been
already noticed, is greatly wanting in his very lofty, and perhaps even
strained, dialogue. Nor are his choruses the voice of the vulgar public,
combining high sentiments with practical meanness, but elaborate and very
difficult speculations, which comment metaphysically on the general
problems of the play. There is nothing better worth reading than the
_Atalanta in Calydon_. The Greek scholar sees everywhere how thoroughly
imbued the author is with Greek models. But it will not give to the mere
English reader any accurate idea of a real Greek tragedy. He must go to
_Balaustion’s Adventure_, or _Aristophanes’s Apology_, or some other
professed translation, and follow it line for line, adding some such
general reviews as the _Etudes_ of M. Patin.

As for revivals of Greek plays, it seems to me not likely that they will
ever succeed. The French imitations of Racine laid hold of the public
because they were not imitations. And as for us nowadays, who are more
familiar with the originals, a faithless reproduction would shock us,
while a literal one would weary us. This at least is the effect which the
_Antigone_ produces, even with the modern choruses of Mendelssohn to
relieve the slowness of the action. But, of course, a reproduction of the
old chorus would be simply impossible. The whole pit in the theatre of
Dionysus seems to have been left empty. A part somewhat larger than our
orchestra was covered with a raised platform, though still lower than the
stage.(51) Upon this the chorus danced and sang and looked on at the
actors, as in the play within the play in _Hamlet_. Above all, they
constantly prayed to their gods, and this religious side of the
performance has of course no effect upon us.(52)

As to old Attic comedy, it would be even more impossible to recover it for
a modern public. Its local and political allusions, its broad and coarse
humor, its fantastic dresses, were features which made it not merely
ancient and Greek, but Athenian, and Athenian of a certain epoch. Without
the Alexandrian scholiasts, who came in time to recover and note down most
of the allusions, these comedies would be to the Greek scholar of to-day
hardly intelligible. The new Attic comedy, of which Terence is a copy, is
indeed on a modern basis, and may be faithfully reproduced, if not
admired, in our day. But here, alas! the great originals of Menander,
Philemon, and Diphilus are lost to us, and we must be content with the
Latin accommodations.

But I have delayed too long over these Greek plays, and must apologize for
leading away the reader from the actual theatre in which he is sitting.
Yet there is hardly a place in Athens which calls back the mind so
strongly to the old days, when all the crowd came jostling in, and settled
down in their seats, to hear the great novelties of the year from
Sophocles or Euripides. No doubt there were cliques and cabals and
claqueurs, noisy admirers and cold critics, the supporters of the old, and
the lovers of the new, devotees and skeptics, wondering foreigners and
self-complacent citizens. They little thought how we should come, not only
to sit in the seats they occupied, but to reverse the judgments which they
pronounced, and correct with sober temper the errors of prejudice, of
passion, and of pride.

Plato makes Socrates say, in his _Apologia_ (_pro vita sua_), that a copy
of Anaxagoras could be bought on the orchestra, when very dear, for a
drachme, that is to say for about 9d. of our money, which may then have
represented our half-crown or three shillings in value.(53) The
commentators have made desperate attempts to explain this. Some say the
orchestra was used as a book-stall when plays were not going on—an
assumption justified by no other hint in Greek literature. Others have far
more absurdly imagined that Plato really meant you could pay a drachme for
the best seat in the theatre, and read the writings of Anaxagoras in a
fashionable play of Euripides, who was his friend and follower. Verily a
wonderful interpretation!

If the reader will walk with me from the theatre of Dionysus past the
newly excavated site of the temple of Æsculapius, and past the Roman-Greek
theatre which was erected by Hadrian or Herodes Atticus, I will show him
what Plato meant. Of course, this later theatre, with its solid Roman back
scenes of masonry, is equally interesting with the Theatre of Dionysus to
the advocates of the unity of history! But to us who are content to study
Greek Athens, it need not afford any irrelevant delays. Passing round the
approach to the Acropolis, we come on to a lesser hill, separated from it
by a very short saddle, so that it looks like a sort of outpost or spur
sent out from the rock of the Acropolis. This is the Areopagus—Mars’
Hill—which we can ascend in a few minutes. There are marks of old
staircases cut in the rock. There are underneath, on our left and right,
as we go up, deep black caverns, once the home of the Eumenides. On the
flat top there are still some signs of a rude smoothing of the stone for
seats. Under us, to the north-west, is the site of the old _agora_, once
surrounded with colonnades, the crowded market-place of all those who
bought and sold and talked. But on the descent from the Areopagus, and,
now at least, not much higher than the level of the market-place beneath,
there is a small semicircular platform, backed by the rising rock. This,
or some platform close to it, which may now be hidden by accumulated soil,
was the old _orchestra_, possibly the site of the oldest theatre, but in
historical times a sort of reserved platform, where the Athenians, who had
their town bristling with statues, allowed no monument to be erected save
the figures of Harmodius and Aristogiton, which were carried into Persia,
replaced by others, afterwards recovered, and of which we may have a copy
in the two fighting figures, of archaic character, now in the Museum of
Naples. It was doubtless on this orchestra, just above the bustle and
thoroughfare of the _agora_, that booksellers kept their stalls, and here
it was that the book of Anaxagoras could be bought for a drachme.

Here then was the place where that physical philosophy was disseminated
which first gained a few advanced thinkers; then, through Euripides,
leavened the drama, once the exponent of ancient piety; then, through the
stage, the Athenian public, till we arrive at those Stoics and Epicureans
who came to teach philosophy and religion not as a faith, but as a system,
and to spend their time with the rest of the public in seeking out
novelties of creed and of opinion as mere fashions with which people
choose to dress their minds. And it was on this very Areopagus, where we
are now standing, that these philosophers of fashion came into contact
with the thorough earnestness, the profound convictions, the red-hot zeal
of the Apostle Paul. The memory of that great scene still lingers about
the place, and every guide will show you the exact place where the Apostle
stood, and in what direction he addressed his audience. There are, I
believe, even some respectable commentators, who transfer their own
estimate of S. Paul’s importance to the Athenian public, and hold that it
was before the _court_ of the Areopagus that he was asked to expound his
views.(54) This is more than doubtful. The _blases_ philosophers, who
probably yawned over their own lectures, hearing of a new lay preacher,
eager to teach and apparently convinced of the truth of what he said,
thought the novelty too delicious to be neglected, and brought him
forthwith out of the chatter and bustle of the crowd, probably past the
very orchestra where Anaxagoras’s books had been proselytizing before him,
and where the stiff old heroes of Athenian history stood, a monument of
the escape from political slavery. It is even possible that the curious
knot of idlers did not bring him higher than this platform, which might
well be called part of Mars’ Hill. But if they choose to bring him to the
top, there was no hindrance, for the venerable court held its sittings in
the open air, on stone seats; and when not thus occupied the top of the
rock may well have been a convenient place of retirement for people who
did not want to be disturbed by new acquaintances and the constant eddies
of new gossip in the market-place.

  [Illustration: Mars’ Hill, Athens]

It is, however, of far less import to know on what spot of the Areopagus
Paul stood, than to understand clearly what he said, and how he sought to
conciliate as well as to refute the philosophers who, no doubt, looked
down upon him as an intellectual inferior. He starts naturally enough from
the extraordinary crowd of votive statues and offerings, for which Athens
was remarkable above all other cities of Greece. He says, with a touch of
irony, that he finds them very religious indeed,(55) so religious that he
even found an altar to a God professedly _unknown_, or perhaps
unknowable.(56) Probably S. Paul meant to pass from the latter sense of
the word _ἄγνωστος_, which was, I fancy, what the inscription meant, to
the former, which gave him an excellent introduction to his argument. Even
the use of the singular may have been an intentional variation from the
strict text, for Pausanias twice over speaks of altars to the gods who are
called the _ἄγνωστοι_ (or mysterious), but I cannot find any citation of
the inscription in the singular form. However that may be, our version
does not preserve the neatness of S. Paul’s point: “I find an altar,” he
says, “to an unknown God. Whom then ye unknowingly worship, Him I announce
to you.” But then he develops a conception of the great One God, not at
all from the special Jewish, but from the Stoic point of view. He was
preaching to Epicureans and to Stoics—to the advocates of prudence as the
means, and pleasure as the end, of a happy life, on the one hand; on the
other, to the advocates of duty, and of life in harmony with the
Providence which governs the world for good. There could be no doubt to
which side the man of Tarsus must incline. Though the Stoics of the
market-place of Athens might be mere dilettanti, mere talkers about the
_ἀγαθόν_ and the great soul of the world, we know that this system of
philosophy produced at Tarsus as well as at Rome the most splendid
constancy, the most heroic endurance—I had almost said the most Christian
benevolence. It was this stern and earnest theory which attracted all
serious minds in the decay of heathenism.

Accordingly, S. Paul makes no secret of his sympathy with its nobler
features. He describes the God whom he preaches as the benevolent Author
of the beauty and fruitfulness of Nature, the great Benefactor of mankind
by His providence, and not without constant and obtrusive witnesses of His
greatness and His goodness. But he goes much further, and treads close
upon the Stoic pantheism when he not only asserts, in the words of Aratus,
that we are His offspring, but that “in Him we live, and move, and have
our being.”

His first conclusion, that the Godhead should not be worshipped or even
imaged in stone or in bronze, was no doubt quite in accordance with more
enlightened Athenian philosophy. But it was when he proceeded to preach
the Resurrection of the Dead, that even those who were attracted by him,
and sympathized with him, turned away in contempt. The Epicureans thought
death the end of all things. The Stoics thought that the human soul, the
offspring—nay, rather an offshoot—of the Divine world-soul, would be
absorbed into its parent essence. Neither could believe the assertion of
S. Paul. When they first heard him talk of _Jesus_ and _Anastasis_ they
thought them some new pair of Oriental deities. But when they learned that
Jesus was a man ordained by God to judge the world, and that Anastasis was
merely the Anastasis of the dead, they were greatly disappointed; so some
mocked, and some excused themselves from further listening.

Thus ended, to all appearance ignominiously, the first heralding of the
faith which was to supplant all the temples and altars and statues with
which Athens had earned its renown as a beautiful city, which was to
overthrow the schools of the sneering philosophers, and even to remodel
all the society and the policy of the world. And yet, in spite of this
great and decisive triumph of Christianity there was something curiously
prophetic in the contemptuous rejection of its apostle at Athens. Was it
not the first expression of the feeling which still possesses the visitor
who wanders through its ruins, and which still dominates the educated
world?—the feeling that while other cities owe to the triumph of
Christianity all their beauty and their interest, Athens has to this day
resisted this influence; and that while the Christian monuments of Athens
would elsewhere excite no small attention, here they are passed by as of
no import compared with its heathen splendor.(57) There are very old and
very beautiful little churches in Athens, “ces délicieuses petites églises
byzantines,” as M. Renan calls them. They are very peculiar, and unlike
what one generally sees in Europe. They strike the observer with their
quaintness and smallness, and he fancies he here sees the tiny model of
that unique and splendid building, the cathedral of S. Mark at Venice. But
yet it is surprising how little we notice them at Athens. I was even
told—I sincerely hope it was false—that public opinion at Athens was
gravitating toward the total removal of one, and that the most perfect, of
these churches, which stands in the middle of a main street, and so breaks
the regularity of the modern boulevard! Let us hope that the man who
lashes himself into rage at the destruction of the Venetian tower may set
his face in time against this real piece of barbarism, if indeed it ever
ventures to assert itself in act.(58)

I have now concluded a review of the most important old Greek buildings to
be seen about Athens. To treat them exhaustively would require a far
longer discussion, or special knowledge which I do not possess; and there
are, moreover, smaller buildings, like the so-called Lantern of
Demosthenes, which is really the Choragic monument of Lysicrates, and the
Temple of the Winds, which are well worth a visit, but which the traveller
can find without a guide, and study without difficulty. But incompleteness
must be an unavoidable defect in describing any city in which new
discoveries are being made, I may say, monthly, and when the museums and
excavations of to-day may be any day completely eclipsed by materials now
unknown, or scattered through the country. Thus, on my second visit to
Athens, I found in the National Bank the wonderful treasures exhumed by
Dr. Schliemann at Mycenæ, which are in themselves enough to induce any
student of Greek antiquity to revisit the town, however well he may have
examined it in former years. On my third visit, they were arranged and
catalogued, but we have not yet attained to any certainty about the race
that left them there, and how remote the antiquity of the tombs. These
considerations tend not only to vindicate the inadequateness of this
review, but perhaps even to justify it in the eyes of the exacting reader,
who may have expected a more thorough survey.

                               CHAPTER VI.


There are two modern towns which, in natural features, resemble Athens.
The irregular ridge of greater Acropolis and lesser Areopagus remind one
of the castle and the Mönchsberg of Salzburg, one of the few towns in
Europe more beautifully situated than Athens. The relation of the
Acropolis to the more lofty Lycabettus suggests the castle of Edinburgh
and Arthur’s Seat. But here the advantage is greatly on the side of

When you stand on the Acropolis and look round upon Attica, a great part
of its history becomes immediately unravelled and clear. You see at once
that you are placed in the principal plain of the country, surrounded with
chains of mountains in such a way that it is easy to understand the old
stories of wars with Eleusis, or with Marathon, or with any of the
outlying valleys. Looking inland on the north side, as you stand beside
the Erechtheum, you see straight before you, at a distance of some ten
miles, Mount Pentelicus, from which all the splendid marble was once
carried to the rock around you. This Pentelicus is a sort of intermediate
cross-chain between two main lines which diverge from either side of it,
and gradually widen so as to form the plain of Athens. The left or
north-western chain is Mount Parnes; the right or eastern is Mount
Hymettus. This latter, however, is only the inner margin of a large
mountainous tract which spreads all over the rest of South Attica down to
the Cape of Sunium. There are, of course, little valleys, and two or three
villages, one of them the old deme Brauron, which they now pronounce
Vravron. There is the town of Thorikos, near the mines of Laurium; there
are two modern villages called Marcopoulos; but on the whole, both in
ancient and modern times, this south-eastern part of Attica, south of
Hymettus, was, with the exception of Laurium, of little moment. There is a
gap between Pentelicus and Hymettus, nearly due north, through which the
way leads out to Marathon; and you can see the spot where the bandits
surprised in 1870 the unfortunate gentlemen who fell victims to the
vacillation and incompetence of people in power at that time.

On the left side of Pentelicus you see the chain of Parnes, which almost
closes with it at a far distance, and which stretches down all the
north-west side of Attica till it runs into the sea as Mount Corydallus,
opposite to the island of Salamis. In this long chain of Parnes (which can
only be avoided by going up to the northern coast at Oropus, and passing
into Bœotia close by the sea) there are three passes or lower points, one
far to the north—that by Dekelea, where the present king has his country
palace, but where of old Alcibiades planted the Spartan garrison which
tormented and ruined the farmers of Attica. This pass leads you out to
Tanagra in Bœotia. Next to the south, some miles nearer, is the even more
famous pass of Phyle, from which Thrasybulus and his brave fellows
recovered Athens and its liberty. This pass, when you reach its summit,
looks into the northern point of the Thriasian plain, and also into the
wilder regions of Cithæron, which border Bœotia. The third pass, and the
lowest—but a few miles beyond the groves of Academe—is the pass of Daphne,
which was the high road to Eleusis, along which the sacred processions
passed in the times of the Mysteries; and in this pass you still see the
numerous niches in which native tablets had been set by the worshippers at
a famous temple of Aphrodite.

On this side of Attica also, with the exception of the Thriasian plain and
of Eleusis, there extends outside Mount Parnes a wild mountainous
district, quite alpine in character, which severs Attica from Bœotia, not
by a single row of mountains, or by a single pass, but by a succession of
glens and defiles which at once explain to the classical student, when he
sees them, how necessary and fundamental were the divisions of Greece into
its separate districts, and how completely different in character the
inhabitants of each were sure to be. The way from Attica into Bœotia was
no ordinary high road, nor even a pass over one mountain, but through a
series of glens and valleys and defiles, at any of which a hostile army
could be stopped, and each of which severed the country on either side by
a difficult obstacle. This truly alpine nature of Greece is only felt when
we see it, and yet must ever be kept before the mind in estimating the
character and energy of the race. But let us return to our view from the

If we turn and look southward, we see a broken country, with several low
hills between us and the sea—hills tolerably well cultivated, and when I
saw them in May all colored with golden stubbles, for the corn had just
been reaped. But all the plain in every direction seems dry and dusty;
arid, too, and not rich alluvial soil, like the plains of Bœotia. Then
Thucydides’s words come back to us, when he says Attica was “undisturbed
on account of the lightness of its soil” (_ἀστασίαστος οὖσα διὰ τὸ
λεπτόγεων_), as early invaders rather looked out for richer pastures. This
reflection, too, of Thucydides applies equally to the mountains of Attica
round Athens, which are not covered with rich grass and dense shrubs, like
Helicon, like Parnassus, like the glades of Arcadia, but seem so bare that
we wonder where the bees of Hymettus can find food for their famous honey.
It is only when the traveller ascends the rocky slopes of the mountain
that he finds its rugged surface carpeted with quantities of little wild
flowers, too insignificant to give the slightest color to the mountain,
but sufficient for the bees, which are still making their honey as of old.
This honey of Hymettus, which was our daily food at Athens, is now not
very remarkable either for color or flavor. It is very dark, and not by
any means so good as the honey produced in other parts of Greece—not to
say on the heather hills of Scotland and Ireland. I tasted honey at Thebes
and at Corinth which was much better, especially that of Corinth made in
the hills toward Cleonæ, where the whole country is scented with thyme,
and where thousands of bees are buzzing eagerly through the summer air.
But when the old Athenians are found talking so much about honey, we must
not forget that sugar was unknown to them, and that all their sweetmeats
depended upon honey exclusively. Hence the culture and use of it assumed
an importance not easily understood among moderns, who are in possession
of the sugar-cane.

But amid all the dusty and bare features of the view, the eye fastens with
delight on one great broad band of dark green, which, starting from the
west side of Pentelicus, close to Mount Parnes in the north, sweeps
straight down the valley, passing about two miles to the west of Athens,
and reaching to the Peiræus. This is the plain of the Kephissus, and these
are the famous olive woods which contain with them the deme Colonus, so
celebrated by Sophocles, and the groves of Academe, at their nearest point
to the city. The dust of Athens, and the bareness of the plain, make all
walks about the town disagreeable, save either the ascent of Lycabettus,
or a ramble into these olive woods. The River Kephissus, which waters
them, is a respectable, though narrow river, even in summer often
discharging a good deal of water, but much divided into trenches and arms,
which are very convenient for irrigation.(59) So there is a strip of
country, fully ten miles long, and perhaps two wide on the average, which
affords delicious shade and greenness and the song of birds, instead of
hot sunlight and dust and the shrill clamor of the tettix without.

I have wandered many hours in these delightful woods listening to the
nightingales, which sing all day in the deep shade and solitude, as it
were in a prolonged twilight, and hearing the plane-tree whispering to the
elm,(60) as Aristophanes has it, and seeing the white poplar show its
silvery leaves in the breeze, and wondering whether the huge old olive
stems, so like the old pollarded stumps in Windsor Forest, could be the
actual sacred trees, the _μορίαι_, under which the youth of Athens ran
their races. The banks of the Kephissus, too, are lined with great reeds,
and sedgy marsh plants, which stoop over into its sandy shallows and wave
idly in the current of its stream. The ouzel and the kingfisher start from
under one’s feet, and bright fish move out lazily from their sunny bay
into the deeper pool. Now and then through a vista the Acropolis shows
itself in a framework of green foliage, nor do I know any more enchanting
view of that great ruin.

All the ground under the dense olive-trees was covered with standing corn,
for here, as in Southern Italy, the shade of trees seems no hindrance to
the ripening of the ear. But there was here thicker wood than in Italian
corn-fields; on the other hand, there was not that rich festooning of
vines which spread from tree to tree, and which give a Neapolitan summer
landscape so peculiar a charm. A few homesteads there were along the
roads, and even at one of the bridges a children’s school, full of those
beautiful fair children whose heads remind one so strongly of the old
Greek statues. But all the houses were walled in, and many of them seemed
solitary and deserted. The memories of rapine and violence were still
there. I was told, indeed, that no country in Europe was so secure, and I
confess I found it so myself in my wanderings; but when we see how every
disturbance or war on the frontier revives again the rumor of brigandage,
I could not help feeling that the desert state of the land, and the
general sense of insecurity, however irrational in the intervals of peace,
was not surprising.

There is no other excursion in the immediate vicinity of Athens of any
like beauty or interest. The older buildings in the Peiræus are completely
gone. No trace of the docks or the _deigma_ remains; and the splendid
walls, built as Thucydides tells us with cut stone, without mortar or mud,
and fastened with clamps of iron fixed with lead—this splendid structure
has been almost completely destroyed. We can find, indeed, elsewhere in
Attica—at Phyle—still better at Eleutheræ—specimens of this sort of
building, but at the Peiræus there are only foundations remaining. Yet it
is not really true that the great wall surrounding the Peiræus has totally
disappeared. Even at the mouth of the harbor single stones may be seen
lying along the rocky edge of the water, of which the size and the square
cutting prove the use for which they were originally intended. But if the
visitor to the Peiræus will take the trouble to cross the hill, and walk
round the harbor of Munychia, he will find on the eastern point of the
headland a neat little café, with comfortable seats, and with a beautiful
view. The sea coast all round this headland shows the bed of the
surrounding sea wall, hewn in the live rock. The actual structure is
preserved in patches on the western point of this harbor, where the coast
is very steep; but in the place to which I refer, we can trace the whole
course of the wall a few feet above the water, cut out in the solid rock.
I know no scanty specimen of Athenian work which gives a greater idea of
the enormous wealth and energy of the city. The port of Munychia had its
own theatre and temples, and it was here that Pausanias saw the altar to
_the gods called the unknown_. The traces of the sea wall cease as soon as
it reaches the actual narrow mouth of the little harbor. I do not know how
far toward Phalerum it can be traced, but when visiting the harbor called
Zea(61) on another occasion, I did not observe it. The reader will find in
any ancient atlas, or in any history of Greece, a map of the harbors of
Athens, so that I think it unnecessary to append one here.

The striking feature in the present Peiræus, which from the entrance of
the harbor is very picturesque, is undoubtedly the rapid growth and
extension of factories, with English machinery and overseers. When last
there I found fourteen of these establishments, and their chimneys were
becoming quite a normal feature in Greek landscape. Those which I visited
were working up the cotton and the wool of the country into calico and
other stuffs, which are unfortunately coming into fashion among the lower
classes, and ousting the old costume. I was informed that boys were
actually forbidden to attend school in Greek dress, a regulation which
astonishes any one who knows the beauty and dignity of the national

  [Illustration: The Peiraeus]

A drive to the open roadstead of Phalerum is more repaying. Here it is
interesting to observe how the Athenians passed by the nearest sea, and
even an open and clear roadstead, in order to join their city to the
better harbor and more defensible headland of Peiræus. Phalĕrum, as they
now call it, though they spell it with an _η_, is the favorite
bathing-place of modern Athens, with an open-air theatre, and is about a
mile and a half nearer the city than Peiræus. The water is shallow, and
the beach is of fine sand, so that for ancient ships, which I suppose drew
little water, it was a convenient landing-place, especially for the
disembarking of troops, who could choose their place anywhere around a
large crescent, and actually land fighting, if necessary. But the walls of
Athens, the long walls to Peiræus, and its lofty fortifications, made this
roadstead of no use to the enemy so long as Athens held the command of the
sea, and could send out ships from the secure little harbors of Zea and
Munychia, which are on the east side and in the centre of the headland of
Peiræus. There was originally a third wall, too, to the east side of the
Phaleric bay, but this seems to have been early abandoned when the second
long wall, or middle wall, as it was originally called, was completed.

At the opening of the Peloponnesian war it appears that the Athenians
defended against the Lacedæmonians, not the two long walls which ran close
together and parallel to Peiræus, but the northern of these, and the far
distant Phaleric wall. It cannot but strike any observer as extraordinary
how the Athenians should undertake such an enormous task. Had the enemy
attacked anywhere suddenly and with vigor, it seems hard to understand how
they could have kept him out. According to Thucydides’s accurate
detail,(62) the wall to Phalerum was nearly four miles, that to Peiræus
four and a half. There were in addition five miles of city wall, and
nearly three of Peiræus wall. That is to say, there were about seventeen
miles of wall to be protected. This is not all. The circuit was not
closed, but separated by about a mile of beach between Peiræus and
Phalerum, so that the defenders of the two extremities could in no way
promptly assist each other. Thucydides tells us that a garrison of 16,000
inferior soldiers, old men, boys, and _metics_, sufficed to do this work.
We are forced to conclude that not only were the means of attacking walls
curiously incomplete, but even the dash and enterprise of modern warfare
cannot have been understood by the Greeks. For we never hear of even a
bold attempt on this absurdly straggling fortification, far less of any
successful attempt to force it.

But it is time that we should leave the environs of Athens,(63) and wander
out beyond the borders of the Athenian plain into the wilder outlying
parts of the land. Attica is, after all, a large country, if one does not
apply railway measures to it. We think thirty miles by rail very little,
but thirty miles by road is a long distance, and implies land enough to
support a large population and to maintain many flourishing towns. We can
wander thirty miles from Athens through Attica in several directions—to
Eleutheræ, on the western Bœotian frontier; to Oropus, on the north; and
Sunium, on the south. Thus it is only when one endeavors to know Attica
minutely that one finds how much there is to be seen, and how long a time
is required to see it. And fortunately enough there is an expedition, and
that not the least important, where we can avoid the rough paths and
rougher saddles of the country, and coast in a steamer along a district at
all times obscure in history, and seldom known for anything except for
being the road to Sunium. Strabo gives a list of the demes along this
seaboard,(64) and seems only able to write one fact about them—a line from
an old oracle in the days of the Persian war, which prophesied that “the
women of Colias will roast their corn with oars,”(65) alluding to the
wrecks driven on shore here by the northwest wind from Salamis. Even the
numerous little islands along this coast were in his day, as they now are,
perfectly barren. Yet with all its desolation it is exceedingly
picturesque and varied in outline.

We took ship in the little steamer(66) belonging to the Sunium Mining
Company, who have built a village called Ergasteria, between Thorikos and
the promontory, and who were obliging enough to allow us to sail in the
boat intended for their private traffic. We left the Peiræus on one of
those peculiarly Greek mornings, with a blue sky and very bright sun, but
with an east wind so strong and clear, so _λαμπρός_, as the old Greeks
would say, that the sea was driven into long white crests, and the
fishing-boats were lying over under their sails. These fresh and strong
winds, which are constantly blowing in Greece, save the people very much
from the bad effects of a very hot southern climate. Even when the
temperature is high the weather is seldom sultry; and upon the sea, which
intrudes everywhere, one can always find a cool and refreshing atmosphere.
The Greeks seem not the least to fear these high winds, which are
generally steady and seldom turn to squalls. The smallest boats are to be
seen scudding along on great journeys from one island to another—often
with a single occupant, who sits holding the helm with one hand, and the
stern sheet with the other. All the ferry-boats in the Peiræus are managed
in this way, and you may see their great sails, like sea-gulls’ wings,
leaning over in the gale, and the spray dashing from the vessel’s prow. We
met a few larger vessels coming up from Syra, but on the whole the sea was
well-nigh as desert as the coast; so much so, that the faithful dog, which
was on board each of those boats, thought it his serious duty to stand up
on the taffrail and bark at us as a strange and doubtful company.

So, after passing many natural harbors and spacious bays, many rocky
headlands and bluff islands—but all desert and abandoned by track of man,
we approached the famous cape, from which the white pillars of the lofty
old temple gleamed brilliantly in the sun. They were the first and only
white marble pillars which I saw in Greece. Elsewhere, dust and age, if
not the hand of man, have colored that splendid material with a dull
golden hue; but here the sea breeze, while eating away much of the
surface, has not soiled them with its fresh brine, and so they still
remain of the color which they had when they were set up. We should fain
conjecture that here, at all events, the Greeks had not applied the usual
blue and red to decorate this marvellous temple; that—for the delight and
benefit of the sailors, who hailed it from afar, as the first sign of
Attica—its brilliant white color was left to it, to render it a brighter
beacon and a clearer object in twilight and in mist. I will not yet
describe it, for we paid it a special visit, and must speak of it in
greater detail; but even now, when we coasted round the headland, and
looked up to its shining pillars standing far aloft into the sky, it
struck us with the most intense interest. It was easy, indeed, to see how
Byron’s poetic mind was here inspired with some of his noblest lines.

When we turned from it seaward, we saw stretched out in _échelon_ that
chain of Cyclades, which are but a prolongation of the headland—Keos,
Kyphnos, Seriphos, Siphnos, and in the far distance, Melos—Melos, the
scene of Athens’s violence and cruelty, when she filled up, in the mind of
the old historian, the full measure of her iniquity. And as we turned
northward, the long island, or islet, of Helena, which stretches along the
point, like Hydra off that of Argolis, could not hide from us the mountain
ranges of Eubœa, still touched here and there with snow. A short run
against the wind brought us to the port of Ergasteria, marked very
strangely in the landscape by the smoke of its chimneys—the port where the
present produce of the mines of Laurium is prepared and shipped for

Here, at last, we found ourselves again among men; three thousand
operatives, many of them with families, make quite a busy town of
Ergasteria. And I could not but contrast their bold and independent looks,
rough and savage as they seemed, with what must have been the appearance
of the droves of slaves who worked the mines in old days. We were rowed
ashore from our steamer by two men called Aristides and Epaminondas, but I
cannot say that their looks betokened either the justice of the one or the
culture of the other.

We found ourselves when we landed in an awkward predicament. The last
English engineer remaining in the Mining Company, at whose invitation we
had ventured into this wild district, had suddenly left, that morning, for
Athens. His house was shut up, and we were left friendless and alone,
among three thousand of these Aristideses and Epaminondases, whose
appearance was, as I have said, anything but reassuring. We did what was
best to meet the difficulty, and what was not only the best thing to do,
but the only thing, and it turned out very well indeed. We went to the
temporary director of the mines, a very polished gentleman, with a
charming wife, both of whom spoke French excellently. We stated our case,
and requested hospitality for the night. Nothing could be more friendly
than our reception. This benevolent man and his wife took us into their
own house, prepared rooms for us, and promised to let us see all the
curiosities of the country. Thus our misfortune became, in fact, a very
good fortune. The night, however, it must be confessed, was spent in a
very unequal conflict with mosquitoes—an inconvenience which our good
hostess in vain endeavored to obviate by giving us a strong-smelling
powder to burn in our room, and shutting all the windows. But had the
remedy been even successful, it is very doubtful whether it was not worse
than the disease.

We started in the morning by a special train—for the company have a
private line from the coast up to the mines—to ascend the wooded and hilly
country into the region so celebrated of old as one of the main sources of
Athenian wealth. As the train wound its way round the somewhat steep
ascent, our prospect over the sea and its islands became larger and more
varied. The wild rocks and forests of southern Eubœa—one of the few
districts in Greece which seem to have been as savage and deserted in old
days as they are now—detached themselves from the intervening island of
Helena. We were told that wild boars were still to be found in Eubœa. In
the hills about Laurium, hares, which Xenophon so loved to hunt in his
Elean retreat, and turtle doves, seemed the only game attainable. All the
hills were covered with stunted underwood.

  [Illustration: Laurium]

The mines of Laurium appear very suddenly in Attic history, but from that
time onward are a prominent part of the wealth of the Athenians. We know
that in Solon’s day there was great scarcity of money, and that he was
obliged to depreciate the value of the coinage—a very violent and
unprecedented measure, never repeated; for, all through later history,
Attic silver was so good that it circulated at a premium in foreign parts
just as English money does now. Accordingly, in Solon’s time we hear no
mention of this great and almost inexhaustible source of national wealth.
All through the reign of the Peisistratids there is a like silence.
Suddenly, after the liberation of Athens, we hear of Themistocles
persuading the people to apply the very large revenue from these mines to
the building of a fleet for the purpose of the war with Ægina.(67) The
so-called Xenophon _On the Attic Revenues_—a tract which is almost
altogether about these mines—asserts indeed that they had been worked from
remote antiquity; and there can be little doubt that here, as elsewhere in
Greece, the Phœnicians had been the forerunners of the natives in the art
of mining. Here, as in Thasos, I believe the Phœnicians had their
settlements; and possibly a closer survey of the great underground
passages, which are still there, may give us some proof by inscriptions or

But what happened after the Semitic traders had been expelled from Greek
waters?—for expelled they were, though, perhaps, far later from some
remote and unexplored points than we usually imagine. I suppose that when
this took place Athens was by no means in a condition to think about
prosecuting trade at Sunium. Salamis, which was far closer and a more
obvious possession, was only conquered in Solon’s day, after a long and
tedious struggle; and I am perfectly certain that the Athenians could have
had no power to hold an outlying dependency, separated by thirty miles of
the roughest mountain country, when they had not subdued an island
scarcely a mile from the Thriasian plain and not ten miles from Athens. I
take it, then, that the so-called _συνοικισμός_, or unifying of Athens, in
prehistoric times, by Theseus, or whoever did it, was not a cementing of
all Attica, including these remote corners, but only of the settlements
about the plains of Attica, Marathon, and Eleusis; and that the southern
end of the peninsula was not included in the Athens of early days. It was,
in fact, only accessible by a carefully constructed artificial road, such
as we hear of afterward, or by sea. The Athenians had not either of these
means of access at so early a period. And it is not a little remarkable
that the first mention of their ownership of the silver mines is
associated with the building of a fleet to contend with Ægina. I have no
doubt that Themistocles’s advice has been preserved without his reasons
for it. He persuaded the Athenians to surrender their surplus revenue from
Laurium, to build ships against the Æginetans, simply because they found
that without ships the Æginetans would be practically sole possessors of
the mines. They were far closer to Laurium by sea than Athens was by
land—closer, indeed, in every way—and I am led to suspect that, in the
days before Solon, the mines may have been secretly worked by Ægina, and
not by Athens. I cannot here enter into my full reasons, but I fancy that
Peisistratus and his sons—not by conquest, but by some agreement—got
practical possession of the mines, and were, perhaps, the first to make
all Attica really subject to the power of Athens.(68) But no sooner are
they expelled than the Æginetans renew their attacks or claims on Laurium;
and it is only the Athenian fleet which secures to Athens its possession.
We hear of proceedings of Hippias about coinage,(69) which are adduced by
Aristotle as specimens of injustice, or sharp practice, and which may have
something to do with the acquisition of the silver mines by his dynasty.
But I must cut short this serious dissertation.

Our special train brought us up slowly round wooded heights, and through
rich green brakes, into a lonely country, from which glimpses of the sea
could, however, still be seen, and glimpses of blue islands, between the
hills. And so we came to the settlements of the modern miners. The great
Company, whose guests we were, had been started some years ago, by French
and Italian speculators, and Professor Anstead had been there as geologist
for some years. But the jealousy of the Greeks, when they found out that
profit was rewarding foreign enterprise, caused legislation against the
Company; various complications followed, so that at last they gladly sold
their interest to a native Company. In 1887 this Company was still
thriving; and I saw in the harbor a large vessel from Glasgow, which had
come to carry the lead to Scotland, when prepared in blocks—all the
produce being still bought by a single English firm.

When the Greeks discuss these negotiations about the mines they put quite
a different color on the affair. They say that the French and Italians
desired to evade fair payment for the ground-rent of the mines, trusting
to the strength of their respective governments, and the weakness of
Greece. The Company’s policy is described in Greece as an over-reaching,
unscrupulous attempt to make great profits by sharp bargains with the
natives, who did not know the value of their property. A great number of
obscure details are adduced in favor of their arguments, and it seemed to
me that the Greeks were really convinced of their truth. In such a matter
it would be unfair to decide without stating both sides; and I am quite
prepared to change my present conviction that the Greeks were most to
blame, if proper reasons can be assigned. But the legislative Acts passed
in their Parliament look very ugly indeed at first sight.

The principal Laurium Company(70) never enter the mines at all, but gather
the great mass of scoriæ, which the old Athenians threw out after smelting
with more imperfect furnaces and less heat than ours. These scoriæ, which
look like stone cinders, have been so long there that some vegetation has
at last grown over them, and the traveller does not suspect that all the
soil around was raised and altered by the hand of man. Owing to the power
of steam, and their railway, the present miners carry down the scoriæ on
trucks to the sea-coast, to Ergasteria, and there smelt them. The old
Athenians had their furnaces in the middle of the mountains, where many of
them are still to be seen. They sought chiefly for silver, whereas the
modern Company are chiefly in pursuit of lead, and obtain but little
silver from the scoriæ.

In many places you come upon the openings of the old pits, which went far
into the bowels of the mountains, through miles of underground galleries
and passages. Our engine-driver—an intelligent Frenchman—stopped the train
to show us one of these entrances, which went down almost straight, with
good steps still remaining, into the earth. He assured us that the other
extremity which was known, all the passage being open, was some two or
three miles distant, at a spot which he showed us from a hill. Hearing
that inscriptions were found in these pits, and especially that the name
of Nicias had been discovered there, we were very anxious to descend and
inspect them. This was promised to us, for the actual pits were in the
hands of another Greek Company, who were searching for new veins of
silver. But when we arrived at the spot the officers of the Company were
unwilling to let us into the pits. The proper overseer was
away—intentionally, of course. There were no proper candles; there were no
means of obtaining admission: so we were balked in our inquiry. But we
went far enough into the mouth of one of them to see that these pits were
on a colossal scale, well arched up; and, I suppose, had we gone far
enough, we should have found the old supports, of which the Athenian law
was so careful.

The quantity of scoriæ thrown out, which seems now perfectly
inexhaustible, is in itself sufficient evidence of the enormous scale on
which the old mining was carried on. Thus, we do not in the least wonder
at hearing that Nicias had one thousand slaves working in the mines, and
that the profits accruing to the State from the fines and head-rents of
the mines were very large—on a moderate estimate, £8000 a year of our
money, which meant in those days a great deal more.

The author of the tract on “Athenian Revenue” says that the riches of the
mines were absolutely unbounded; that only a small part of the silver
district had been worked out, though the digging had gone on from time
immemorial; and that after innumerable laborers had been employed the
mines always appeared equally rich, so that no limit need be put on the
employment of capital. Still he speaks of opening a new shaft as a most
risky speculation. His general estimate appears, however, somewhat
exaggerated. The writer confesses that the number of laborers was in his
day diminishing, and the majority of the proprietors were then beginners;
so that there must have been great interruption of work during the
Peloponnesian War. In the age of Philip there were loud complaints that
the speculations in mining were unsuccessful; and for obtaining silver, at
all events, no reasonable prospect seems to have been left. In the first
century of our era, Strabo (ix. i. 23) says that these once celebrated
mines were exhausted,(71) that new mining did not pay, and thus people
were smelting the poorer ore, and the scoriæ from which the ancients had
imperfectly separated the metal. He adds that the main product of the
mining district was in his day honey, which was especially known as
smokeless (_ἀκάπνιστον_), on account of its good preparation. This in
itself shows that the mining had decayed, for now all the flowers in the
neighborhood of the smelting are killed by the black fumes.

Our last mention of the place in olden times is that of Pausanias (at the
end of the second century A. D.), who speaks of Laurium, with the addition
that it had once been the seat of the Athenian silver mines!

There is but one more point suggested by these mines, which it is not well
to pass over when we are considering the working of them in ancient times.
Nothing is more poisonous than the smoke from lead-mines; and for this
reason the people at Ergasteria have built a chimney more than a mile long
to the top of a neighboring hill, where the smoke escapes. Even so, when
the wind blows back the smoke, all the vegetation about the village is at
once blighted, and there is no greater difficulty than to keep a garden
within two or three miles of this chimney. As the Athenians did not take
such precautions, we are not surprised to hear from them frequent notices
of the unhealthiness of the district, for when there were many furnaces,
and the smoke was not drawn away by high chimneys, we can hardly conceive
life to have been tolerable. What then must have been the condition of the
gangs of slaves which Nicias and other respectable and pious Athenians
kept in these mines? Two or three allusions give us a hideous insight into
this great social sore, which has not been laid bare, because the wild
district of Laurium, and the deep mines under its surface, have concealed
the facts from the ordinary observer. Nicias, we are told, let out one
thousand slaves to Sosias the Thracian, at an obolus a day each—the lessee
being bound to restore them to him the same _in number_.

The meaning of this frightful contract is only too plain. The yearly rent
paid for each slave was about half the full price paid for him in the
market. It follows that, if the slave lived for three years, Nicias made a
profit of 50 per cent. on his outlay. No doubt, some part of this
extraordinary bargain must be explained by the great profits which an
experienced miner could make—a fact supported by the tract on the
Revenues, which cannot date more than a generation later than the bargain
of Nicias. The lessee, too, was under the additional risk of the slaves
escaping in time of war, when a hostile army might make a special invasion
into the mountain district for the purpose of inflicting a blow on this
important part of Athenian revenue. In such cases, it may be presumed that
desperate attempts were made by the slaves to escape, for although the
Athenian slaves generally were the best treated in Greece, and had many
holidays, it was very different with the gangs employed by the Thracian
taskmaster. We are told that they had three hundred and sixty working days
in the year. This, together with the poison of the atmosphere, tells its
tale plainly enough.

And yet Nicias, the capitalist who worked this hideous trade, was the most
pious and God-fearing man at Athens. So high was his reputation for
integrity and religion, that the people insisted on appointing him again
and again to commands for which he was wholly unfit; and when at last he
ruined the great Athenian army before Syracuse, and lost his own life, by
his extreme devoutness and his faith in the threats and warnings of the
gods—even then the great sceptical historian, who cared for none of these
things, condones all his blunders for the sake of his piety and his

Of course, however, an excursion to Laurium, interesting as it might be,
were absurd without visiting the far more famous Sunium,—the promontory
which had already struck us so much on our sea voyage round the point,—the
temple which Byron has again hallowed with his immortal verse, and Turner
with his hardly less immortal pencil. So we hired horses on our return
from the mines, and set out on a very fine afternoon to ride down some
seven or eight miles from Ergasteria to the famous promontory. Our route
led over rolling hills, covered with arbutus and stunted firs; along
valleys choked with deep, matted grass; by the side of the sea, upon the
narrow ledge of broken rocks. Nowhere was there a road, or a vestige of
human habitation, save where the telegraph wire dipped into the sea,
pointing the way to the distant Syra. It was late in the day, and the sun
was getting low, so we urged our horses to a canter wherever the ground
would permit it. But neither the heat nor the pace could conquer the
indefatigable esquire who attended us on foot to show us the way, and hold
the horses when we stopped. His speed and endurance made me think of
Phidippides and his run to Sparta; nor, indeed, do any of the feats
recorded of the old Greeks, either in swimming or running, appear
incredible when we witness the feats that are being performed almost every
day by modern muscle and endurance. At last, after a delightful two hours’
roaming through the homely solitude, we found ourselves at the foot of the
last hill, and over us the shining pillars of the ruined temple stood out
against the sky.

There can be no doubt that the temple of Neptune on Mount Tænarum must
have been quite as fine as to position, but the earthquakes of Laconia
have made havoc of its treasures, while at Sunium, though some of the
drums in the shafts of the pillars have been actually displaced several
inches from their fellows above and below, so that the perfect fitting of
the old Athenians has come to look like the tottering work of a giant
child with marble bricks,—in spite of this, thirteen pillars remain,(72) a
piece of architrave, and a huge platform of solid blocks; above all, a
site not desecrated by modern habitations, where we can sit and think of
the great old days, and of the men who set up this noble monument at the
remotest corner of their land. The Greeks told us that this temple, that
at Ægina, and the Parthenon, are placed exactly at the angles of a great
equilateral triangle, with each side about twenty-five or thirty miles
long. Our maps do not verify this belief. The distance from Athens to
Sunium appears much longer than either of the other lines, nor do we find
in antiquity any hint that such a principle was attended to, or that any
peculiar virtue was attached to it.

We found the platform nearly complete, built with great square blocks of
poros-stone, and in some places very high, though in others scarcely
raised at all, according to the requirements of the ground. Over it the
temple was built, not with the huge blocks which we see at Corinth and in
the Parthenon, but still of perfectly white marble, and with that
beautifully close fitting, without mortar, rubble, or cement, which
characterizes the best and most perfect epoch of Greek architecture.(73)
The stone, too, is the finest white marble, and, being exposed to no dust
on its lofty site, has alone of all temples kept its original color—if,
indeed, it was originally white, and not enriched with divers colors. The
earthquake, which has displaced the stones in the middle of the pillars,
has tumbled over many large pieces, which can be seen from above scattered
all down the slope where they have rolled. But enough still remains for us
to see the plan, and imagine the effect of the whole structure. It is in
the usual simple, grand, Doric style, but lighter in proportions than the
older Attic temples; and, being meant for distant effect, was probably not
much decorated. Its very site gives it all the ornament any building could
possibly require.

It was our good fortune to see it in a splendid sunset, with the sea a
sheet of molten gold, and all the headlands and islands colored with hazy
purple. The mountains of Eubœa, with their promontory of Geræstus, closed
the view upon the north-east; but far down into the Ægean reached island
after island, as it were striving to prolong a highway to the holy Delos.
The ancient Andros, Tenos, Myconos were there, but the eye sought in vain
for the home of Apollo’s shrine—the smallest and yet the greatest of the
group. The parallel chain, reaching down from Sunium itself, was confused
into one mass, but exposed to view the distant Melos. Then came a short
space of open sea, due south, which alone prevented us from imagining
ourselves on some fair and quiet inland lake; and beyond to the south-west
we saw the point of Hydra, the only spot in all Hellas whose recent fame
exceeds the report of ancient days. The mountains of Argolis lay behind
Ægina, and formed with their Arcadian neighbors a solid background, till
the eye wandered round to the Acropolis of Corinth, hardly visible in the
burning brightness of the sun’s decline. And all this splendid expanse of
sea and mountain, and bay and cliff, seemed as utterly deserted as the
wildest western coast of Scotland or Ireland. One or two little white
sails, speeding in his boat some lonely fisherman, made the solitude, if
possible, more speaking and more intense. There are finer views, more
extensive, and perhaps even more varied, but none more exquisitely
interesting and more melancholy to the student of Ancient Greece.

                               CHAPTER VII.


This great loneliness is a feature that strikes the traveller almost
everywhere through the country. Many centuries of insecurity, and indeed
of violence, have made country life almost impossible; and now that better
times have come, the love and knowledge of it are gone. The city Athenian
no longer grumbles, as he did in Aristophanes’s day, that an invasion has
driven him in from the rude plenty and simple luxuries of his farming
life, where with his figs and his olives, his raisins and his heady wine,
he made holiday before his gods, and roasted his thrush and his chestnuts
with his neighbor over the fire. All this is gone. There remains, indeed,
the old political lounger, the loafer of the market-place, ever seeking to
obtain some shabby maintenance by sycophancy or by bullying. This type is
not hard to find in modern Athens, but the old sturdy Acharnian, as well
as the rich horse-breeding Alcmæonid, are things of the past. Even the
large profits to be made by market-gardening will not tempt them to adopt
this industry, and the great city of Athens is one of the worst supplied
and dearest of capitals, most of its daily requirements in vegetables,
fowls, eggs, etc., coming in by steamers from islands on the coast of
Thessaly. No part of the country of Attica can be considered even
moderately cultivated, except the Thriasian plain, and the valley of
Kephissus, reaching from near Dekelea to the sea. This latter plain, with
its fine olive-woods reaching down across Academus to the region of the
old long walls, is fairly covered with corn and grazing cattle, with plane
trees and poplars. But even here many of the homesteads are deserted; and
the country seats of the Athenians were often left empty for years,
whenever a band of brigands appeared in the neighboring mountains, and
threatened the outlying houses with blackmail, if not with bloodier
violence. Of late there is a steady improvement.

Nothing can be truer than the admirable description of Northern Attica
given in M. Perrot’s book on the Attic orators. He is describing Rhamnus,
the home of Antiphon, but his picture is of broader application.(74)

All these remarks are even more strongly exemplified by the beautiful
country which lies between Pentelicus and Hymettus, and which is now
covered with forest and brushwood. We passed through this vale one sunny
morning on our way to visit Marathon. There is, indeed, a road for some
miles—the road to the quarries of Pentelicus—but a very different one from
what the Athenians must have had. It is now a mere broad track, cut by
wheels and hoofs in the sward; and wherever the ruts become too deep the
driver turns aside, and makes a parallel track for his own convenience. In
summer days, the dust produced by this sort of road is something beyond
description; and the soil being very red earth, we have an atmosphere
which accounts to some extent for the remarkable color of the old
buildings of Athens. The way, after turning round the steep Lycabettus,
which, like Arthur’s Seat at Edinburgh, commands the town close by, passes
up the right side of the undulating plain of Attica, with the stony but
variegated slopes of Hymettus upon the right, and Pentelicus almost
straight ahead. As soon as the suburbs are passed we meet but one or two
country seats, surrounded with dark cypress and pepper trees; but outside
the sombre green is a tall, dazzling, white wall, which gives a peculiarly
Oriental character to the landscape. There is cultivation visible when you
look to the westward, where the village of Kephissia lies, among the
groves which accompany the Kephissus on its course; but up toward
Pentelicus, along the track which must once have been crowded with carts,
and heavy teams, and shouting drivers, when all the blocks of the
Parthenon were being hurried from their quarry to adorn the
Acropolis—along this famous track there is hardly a sign of culture.
Occasionally, a rough stubble field showed that a little corn had been
cut—an occasional station, with a couple of soldiers, shows why more had
not been sown. The fear of brigands had paralyzed industry, and even
driven out the scanty rural population.

  [Illustration: Mount Lycabettus, Athens]

It strikes me, when speaking of this road, that the Greek roads cannot
have been at all so well constructed as the Roman, many of which are still
to be seen in England. Though I went upon the track of many of them, I but
once noticed the vestige of an old Greek road. There are here and there
wretched remains of Turkish roads—rough angular stones laid down across
the hills, in a close irregular pavement; but of the great builders of the
Parthenon and of Phyle, of Eleutheræ and of Eleusis, hardly a patch of
road-work has, so far as I know, remained.

There is, indeed, one exception in this very neighborhood, to which we may
now naturally turn. The traveller who has wondered at the huge blocks of
the Propylæa and the Parthenon, and who has noticed the exquisite quality
of the stone, and the perfect smoothness which it has preserved to the
present day, will naturally desire to visit the quarry on Pentelicus from
which it was brought. The marble of Paros is probably the only stone found
superior to it for the purposes of sculpture. It is, however, harder and
of larger grain, so that it must have been more difficult to work. Experts
can tell the difference between the two marbles, but I confess that,
though M. Rousopoulos endeavored to teach it to me from specimens in the
Acropolis Museum, I was unable to attain a clear knowledge of the
distinction. The large blocks of Pentelican marble, however beautiful and
fine in grain, seem not unfrequently to have contained flaws, and possibly
the ascertaining of this defect may of old have been one of the most
difficult duties of the architect. It is supposed to have been done by
sounding the block with a hammer, a process which the Greeks would call
_κωδωνίζειν_. There are at present, close to the east front of the
Parthenon, several of these rejected blocks, and the lapse of ages has
brought out the flaw visibly, because damp has had time to penetrate the
stone, and stain its pure whiteness with a dark seam. But when it came
fresh from its native bed, and was all pure white, I presume the
difficulty must have been considerable. Possibly these blocks on the
Parthenon were injured in their transit, and left the quarries in sound
condition. For in going up the steep road to these quarries, in more than
one place a similar great block will be found tumbled aside, and left
lying at the very spot where we may suppose some accident to have happened
to crack it. This road, which in its highest parts has never been altered,
is a steep descent, rudely paved with transverse courses of stone, like
steps in pattern, and may have had wooden slides laid over it, to bring
down the product of the quarries to the valley. It is well worth while
going up for a night to the fine monastery not far off, where there is
ample shade of waving trees and plenty of falling water, in the midst of
steep slopes wooded with the fir—a cool and quiet retreat in the fierce
heat of summer.(75) From this place to the quarries is less than an hour’s
walk. The moderns still draw stone from them, but far below the spots
chosen by the ancients; and, of course, the remains of the old industry
are on an infinitely grander scale.

It is a laborious climb, up a road covered with small fragments of stone.
But at last, beneath a great face of marble all chipped with the work of
ancient hands, there is a large cool cavern, with water dripping from the
roof into ice-cold pools below, and besides it a quaint grotto chapel,
with its light still burning, and stone seats around, where the traveller
may rest. This place seems to have been the main source of the old
Athenian buildings. The high face of the rock above it is chipped, as I
have said, with small and delicate cutting, and hangs over, as if they had
removed it beneath, in order to bring down the higher pieces more easily.
Of course, they could not, and probably if they could, would not, have
blasted the stone; and, so far as I know, we are not informed by what
process they managed to loosen and bring down the great blocks from their
sites. The surface of the rock testifies to the use of some small and
delicate chisel. But whatever the process, they must have had machinery of
which we have lost all record, for no amount of manual work could possibly
have accomplished what they did in a few years, and accomplished it with a
delicacy which shows complete control of their materials. The beautifully
fitted walls of the chamber inside the left wing of the Propylæa preserve
an interesting piece of detail on the face of each square block, which is
perfectly fitted to its fellows; there still remains a rough knob jutting
out from the centre, evidently the handle used for lifting the stone, and
usually removed when all the building was completely finished. The
expenses of war and the dolors of a long siege caused the Propylæa to
remain unfinished, and so this piece of construction has survived.

The view from the top of Pentelicus is, of course, very striking, and
those who have no time or inclination to spend a day at Marathon itself
are usually content with a very fine view of the bay and the opposite
mountains of Eubœa, which can thence be had. But it is indeed a pity, now
that the country is generally quite safe, that after so long a journey as
that from England to Athens, people should turn back without completing
the additional fifteen miles which brings them to the site of the great
battle itself.

As we leave the track which leads up to the monastery above mentioned, the
country becomes gradually covered with shrubs, and then with stunted
trees—generally old fir-trees, all hacked and carved and wounded for the
sake of their resin, which is so painfully obtrusive in Greek wine. But in
one place there is, by way of change, a picturesque bridge over a rapid
rocky-bedded river, which is completely hidden with rich flowering
oleanders, and in which we found sundry Attic women, of the poorer class,
washing their clothes. The woods in this place were wonderfully rich and
scented, and the sound of the turtle doves was heard in the land.
Presently we came upon the thickly wooded corner, which was pointed out to
us as the spot where our unfortunate countrymen were captured in 1870, and
carried up the slopes of Pentelicus, to be sacrificed to the blundering of
the English Minister or the Greek Ministry,—I could not decide which,—and
more certainly to their own chivalry; for while all the captured Greeks
escaped during the pursuit, our English gentlemen would not break their
parole. These men are now held by the better Greeks to be martyrs for the
good of Greece; for this outrage first forced the Government to take
really vigorous measures for the safety of the country. The whole band
were gradually captured and executed, till at last Takos, their chief, was
caught in Peloponnesus, three or four years ago, and hanged at Athens. So
it came that I found the country (on all my visits, ’75, ’77, ’84, ’89)
apparently as safe as Ireland is to a traveller, and we required neither
escort, nor arms, nor any precautions whatever.

We had, indeed, a missive from the Greek Prime Minister, which we
presented to the Chief Police Officer of each town—a gentleman in the
usual scarlet cap and white petticoats, but carrying a great dog-whip as
the sign of his office. This custom, strange to say, dates from the days
of Aristophanes. But the Prime Minister warned us that, though things were
now safe, there was no permanent security. Any revolution in the
neighborhood (such, for example, as that in Herzegovina, which at that
time had not yet broken out) might, he said, send over the Turkish
frontier a number of outlaws or other fugitives, who would support
themselves by levying blackmail on the peasantry, and then on travellers.
We were assured that the Morea, which does not afford an easy escape into
Turkey, has been for years perfectly secure, and I found it so in several
subsequent journeys. So, then, any traveller desirous of seeing the
Peloponnesus—Sparta, Olympia, Mantinea, Argos, or even Central Greece—may
count on doing so with safety. Not so the visitor to Tempe and Mount
Pindus.(76) The Professors of the University with whom I talked were,
indeed, of a more sanguine opinion. They did not anticipate any recurrence
of the danger: they considered Greece one of the safest and quietest of
countries. Moreover, in one point they all seemed agreed. It was perfectly
certain that the presence of bandits would be at once known at Athens. Why
this was so, I was not informed, nor whether travellers would be at once
informed also. In any case, either M. Trikoupi or the British Minister can
be perfectly relied upon for advice in this matter.

So much for the safety of travelling in Greece, which is suggested by the
melancholy fate of Mr. Vyner and his friends, though that event is now so
long past. But one point more. It is both idle and foolish to imagine that
revolvers and daggers are the best protection against Greek bandits,
should they reappear. They never attack where they are visible. The first
notice given to the traveller is the sight of twenty or thirty muzzles
pointed at him from the covert, with a summons to surrender. Except,
therefore, the party be too numerous to be so surrounded and _visé_, so
that some could fight, even were others shot—except in such a case, arms
are only an additional prize, and a tempting one, for the clephts. It is,
indeed, very seldom that the carrying of arms is to be recommended to any
traveller in any land.

As we ascended the long saddle of country which lies between Pentelicus
and Hymettus, we came upon a fine olive-wood, with the same enormous stems
which had already excited our wonder in the groves of Academe. Indeed,
some of the stems in this wood were the largest we had seen, and made us
think that they may have been there since the days when the olive oil of
Attica was one of its most famous products, and its export was even
forbidden. Even then there were ancient stumps—_μορίαι_, as they were
called—which were sacred, and which no man who rented or bought the land
might remove; a restriction which seems hard to us, but was not so in
Greece, where corn grows freely in the shade of trees, and is even
habitually planted in orchards. But at all events, these old, gnarled,
hollowed stumps, with their tufts of branches starting from the pollarded
trunk, are a really classical feature in the country, and deserve,
therefore, a passing notice.

When we had got well between the mountains a new scene unfolded itself. We
began to see the famous old Euripus, with the mountains of Eubœa over
against us; and down to the south, behind Hymettus, till we reach the
extremity of Sunium, stretched a long tract of mountainous and barren
country which never played a prominent part in history, but where a
conical hill was pointed out to us as the site of the old deme Brauron. It
is, indeed, surprising how little of Attica was ever celebrated. Close by
the most famous city of the world are reaches of country which are as
obscure to us as the wilds of Arcadia; and we may suspect that the
shepherds who inhabited the _φελλέα_, or rocky pastures in the Attic
hills, were not much superior to those whom we now meet herding their
goats in the same region.

The plain of Marathon, as everybody knows, is a long crescent-shaped strip
of land by the shore, surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills, which may be
crossed conveniently in three places, but most easily toward the
south-west, along the road which we travelled, and which leads directly to
Athens. When the Athenians marched through this broad and easy passage
they found that the Persians had landed at the northern extremity of the
plain—I suppose, because the water was there sufficiently deep to let them
land conveniently. Most of the shore, as you proceed southward, is lined
on the seaboard by swamps. The Greek army must have marched northward
along the spurs of Pentelicus, and taken up their position near the north
of the plain. There was evidently much danger that the Persians would
force a passage through the village of Marathon, farther toward the
north-west. Had they done this, they might have rounded Pentelicus, and
descended the main plain of Attica, from the valley below Dekelea.
Perhaps, however, this pass was then guarded by an outlying fort, or by
some defences at Marathon itself. The site of the battle is absolutely
fixed by the great mound, upon which was placed a lion, which has been
carried off, no one knows when or whither. The mound is exactly an English
mile from the steep slope of one of the hills, and about half a mile from
the sea at present; nor was there, when I saw it, any difficulty in
walking right to the shore, though a river flows out there, which shows,
by its sedgy banks and lofty reeds, a tendency to create a marshy tract in
rainy weather. But the mound is so placed that, if it marks the centre of
the battle, the Athenians must have faced nearly north; and if they faced
the sea eastward, as is commonly stated, this mound must mark the scene of
the conflict on their left wing. The mound is very large—I suppose thirty
feet high—altogether of earth, so far as we could see, and bears traces of
having been frequently ransacked in search of antiquities. Dr. Schliemann,
its latest investigator, could find nothing there but prehistoric flint

  [Illustration: Looking Toward the Sea from the Soros, Marathon]

Like almost every view in Greece, the prospect from this mound is full of
beauty and variety—everywhere broken outlines, everywhere patches of blue
sea, everywhere silence and solitude. Byron is so much out of fashion now,
and so much more talked about than read—though even that notice of him is
fast disappearing—that I will venture to remind the reader of the splendid
things he has said of Greece, and especially of this very plain of
Marathon. He was carried away by his enthusiasm to fancy a great future
possible for the country, and to believe that its desolation and the low
condition of the inhabitants were simply the result of Turkish tyranny,
and not of many natural causes conspiring for twenty centuries. He paints
the Greek brigand or pirate as many others have painted the “noble
savage,” with the omission of all his meaner vices. But in spite of all
these faults, who is there who has felt as he the affecting aspects of
this beautiful land—the tomb of ancient glory—the home of ancient
wisdom—the mother of science, of art, of philosophy, of politics—the
champion of liberty—the envy of the Persian and the Roman—the teacher,
even still, of modern Europe? It is surely a great loss to our generation,
and a bad sign of its culture, that the love of more modern poets has
weaned them from the study of one not less great in most respects, but far
greater in one at least—in that burning enthusiasm for a national cause,
in that red-hot passion for liberty which, even when misapplied, or wasted
upon unworthy objects, is ever one of the noblest and most stirring
instincts of higher man.

But Byron may well be excused his raving about the liberty of the Greeks,
for truly their old conflict at Marathon, where a few thousand
ill-disciplined men repulsed a larger number of still worse disciplined
Orientals, without any recondite tactics—perhaps even without any very
extraordinary heroism—how is it that this conflict has maintained a
celebrity which has not been equalled by any of the great battles of the
world from that day down to our own? The courage of the Greeks, as I have
elsewhere shown,(77) was not of the first order. Herodotus praises the
Athenians in this very battle for being the first Greeks that dared to
look the Persians in the face. Their generals all through history seem
never to feel sure of victory, and always endeavor to harangue their
soldiers into a fury. Instead of advising coolness, they especially incite
to rage—_ὀργῇ προσμίξωμεν_, says one of them in Thucydides—as if any man
not in this state would be sure to estimate the danger fully, and run
away. It is, indeed, true that the ancient battles were hand to hand, and
therefore parallel to our charges of bayonets, which are said to be very
seldom carried out by two opposing lines, as one of them almost always
gives way before the actual collision takes place. This must often have
occurred in Greek battles, for in one fought at Amphipolis Brasidas lost
seven men; at a battle at Corinth, mentioned by Xenophon—an important
battle, too—the slain amounted to eight;(78) and these battles were fought
before the days when whole armies were composed of mercenaries, who spared
one another, as Ordericus Vitalis says, “for the love of God, and out of
good feeling for the fraternity of arms.” So, then, the loss of 192
Athenians, including some distinguished men, was rather a severe one. As
to the loss of the Persians, I so totally disbelieve the Greek accounts of
such things that it is better to pass it by in silence.

Perhaps most readers will be astonished to hear of the Athenian army as
undisciplined, and of the science of war as undeveloped, in those times.
Yet I firmly believe this was so. The accounts of battles by almost all
the historians are so utterly vague, and so childishly conventional, that
it is evident that these gentlemen were not only quite ignorant of the
science of war, but could not easily find any one to explain it to them.
We know that the Spartans—the most admired of all Greek warriors—were
chiefly so admired because they devised the system of subordinating
officers to one another within the same detachment, like our gradation
from colonel to corporal. Orders were passed down from officer to officer,
instead of being bawled out by a herald to a whole army. But this
superiority of the Spartans, who were really disciplined, and went into
battle coolly, like brave men, certainly did not extend to strategy, but
was merely a question of better drill. As soon as any real strategist met
them they were helpless. Thus Iphicrates, when he devised Wellington’s
plan of meeting their attacking column in line, and using missiles,
succeeded against them, even without firearms: thus Epaminondas, when he
devised Napoleon’s plan of massing troops on a single point, while keeping
his enemy’s line occupied, defeated them without any considerable
struggle. As for that general’s great battle of Mantinea, the ancient
Rossbach, which seems really to have been introduced by some complicated
strategical movements, we owe our partial knowledge to the grudging aid of
the soldier Xenophon. But both generals were in the distant future when
the battle of Marathon was being fought.

Yet what signifies all this criticism? In spite of all skepticism, in
spite of all contempt, the battle of Marathon, whether badly or well
fought, and the troops at Marathon, whether well or ill trained, will ever
be more famous than any other battle or army, however important or
gigantic its dimensions. Even in this very war, the battles of Salamis and
Platæa were vastly more important and more hotly contested. The losses
were greater, the results were more enduring, yet thousands have heard of
Marathon to whom the other names are unknown. So much for literary
ability—so much for the power of talking well about one’s deeds. Marathon
was fought by Athenians; the Athenians eclipsed the other Greeks as far as
the other Greeks eclipsed the rest of the world, in literary power. This
battle became the literary property of the city, hymned by poet, cited by
orator, told by aged nurse, lisped by stammering infant; and so it has
taken its position, above all criticism, as one of the great decisive
battles which assured the liberty of the West against Oriental despotism.

The plain in the present day is quite bare of trees, and, as Colonel Leake
observed, appears to have been so at the time of the battle, from the
vague account of its evolutions. There was a little corn and a few other
crops about the great tumulus; and along the seashore, whither we went to
bathe, there was a large herd of cows and oxen—a sight not very usual in
Greece. When we rushed into the shallow blue water, striving to reach
swimming depth, we could not but think of the scene when Kynægirus and his
companions rushed in armed to stop the embarkation of the Persians. On the
shore, then teeming with ships of war, with transports, with fighting and
flying men, there was now no sign of life, but ourselves in the water, and
the lazy cattle and their silent herdsmen looking upon us in wonder; for,
though very hot, it was only May, and the modern Greek never thinks it
safe to bathe till at least the end of June—in this like his Italian
neighbor. There was not a single ship or boat in the straits; there was no
sign of life or of population on the coast of Eubœa. There was everywhere
that solitude which so much struck Byron, as it strikes every traveller in
Modern Greece. There was not even the child or beggar, with coins and
pieces of pottery, who is so troublesome about Italian ruins, and who has
even lately appeared at the Parthenon, the theatre at Argos, and a few
other places in Greece. We asked the herdsman for remnants of arms or
pieces of money: he had seen such things picked up, but knew nothing of
their value. Lord Byron tells us he was offered the purchase of the whole
plain (six miles by two) for about £900. It would have been a fine
speculation for an antiquarian: but I am surprised, as he was, rather at
the greatness than at the smallness of the price. The Greek Government
might very well, even now, grant the fee-simple to any one who would pay
the ordinary taxes on property, which are not, I was told, very heavy. But
still the jealousy of the nation would not tolerate a foreign speculator.

I have already spoken (p. 154) of the position of the pass of Daphne, and
how it leads the traveller over the ridge which separates the plain of the
Kephissus from the Thriasian plain. I have also spoken at length of the
country about the Kephissus, with its olive woods and its nightingales.
When we go through the pass of Daphne—of its monastery I shall speak in
another chapter—a perfectly new view opens before us. We see under us the
Thriasian plain, well covered with ripening corn and other crops; we see
at the far side of the crescent-shaped bay the remains of Eleusis. Behind
it, and all round to the right up to where we stand, is an amphitheatre of
hills—the spurs of Mount Parnes, which from Phyle reach due south down to
where we stand, and due west to the inland of the Thriasian plain, till
they meet and are confounded with the slopes of Cithæron, which extend for
miles away behind Eleusis. On the sea-side, to our left, lies the island
of Salamis, so near the coast that the sea seems a calm inland lake, lying
tortuously between the hills.

Many points of Greek history become plain to us by this view. We see how
true was the epithet “rocky Salamis,” for the island, though it looks very
insignificant on our maps, contains lofty mountains, with very bare and
rocky sides. The student of Greek geography in maps should note this
feature. Thus, Ithaca on the map does not suggest the real Ithaca, which
from most points looks like a high and steep mountain standing out of the
sea. We begin also to see how Salamis was equally _convenient_ (as the
Irish say) to both Megara and Attica, if we consider that Eleusis was
strictly a part of Attica. The harbor of the Peiræus, for example, would
be quite useless if an enemy were watching it from Salamis. But we also
come to see the sense of the old legend, that Eleusis had originally a
separate king or government from that of Athens, and that the two cities
once carried on war against each other. The towns are but a few miles
apart; but their respective plains are so distinctly and completely
separated by the pass of Daphne, that not one acre of the territory of
Eleusis can be seen from Athens, nor of Athens from Eleusis. So also,
lastly, we come to feel how natural is the remark of Thucydides, that the
population of Athens, when the Lacedæmonians invaded Attica, and came no
farther than the Thriasian plain, did not feel the terrors of a hostile
invasion, as the enemy was not in sight; but when he crossed the pass, and
began to ravage Acharnæ and the vale of Kephissus, then indeed, though
Eleusis was just as near, and just as much their own, they felt the
reality of the invasion, and were for the first time deeply dejected. This
is a good example of that combined farness and nearness which is so
characteristic about most neighboring cities in Greece.

  [Illustration: Salamis from Across the Bay]

The wretched modern village of Eleusis is picturesquely situated near the
sea, on the old site, and there are still to be seen the ruins, not only
of the famous temple of Demeter, but also of the Propylæa, built
apparently in imitation of that of Mnesicles on the Acropolis at Athens,
though the site of both temple and Propylæa are at Eleusis low, and in no
way striking.

These celebrated ruins are wretchedly defaced. Not a column or a wall is
now standing, and we can see nothing but vast fragments of pillars and
capitals, and a great pavement, all of white marble, along which the
ancient wheel-tracks are distinctly visible. There are also underground
vaults of small dimensions, which, the people tell you, were intended for
the Mysteries. We that knew what vast crowds attended there would not give
credence to this ignorant guess; and indeed we knew from distinct evidence
that the great ceremony took place in a large building specially
constructed for the purpose. The necessary darkness was obtained by
performing the more solemn rites at night; not by going down beneath the
surface of the earth.

The Greek _savants_ have at last laid open, and explained, the whole plan
of the temple, which was built by Ictinus, in Pericles’s time, but
apparently restored after a destructive fire by Roman architects copying
faithfully the ancient style. The excavators have shown that the shrine
had strange peculiarities. And this is exactly what we should expect. For
although no people adhered more closely to traditional forms in their
architecture, no people were more ready to modify these forms with a view
to practical requirements. Thus, as a rule, the cella, or inner chamber of
the temple, only contained the statue of the god, and was consequently
small and narrow. In the temple at Eleusis has been found a great inner
chamber about 59 yards by 54, hewn out of the rock in the rear of the
edifice, and capable of accommodating a large assembly.(79) Here then it
seems the initiated—probably those of the higher degree, _epoptæ_ as they
were called—witnessed those services “which brought them peace in this
world, and a blessed hope for the world to come.”

The way into the temple was adorned with two Propylæa—one of the classical
period, and by Philo (311 B. C.), another set up by a Roman, App. Claudius
Pulcher, in 48 B. C., after you had passed through the former. The great
temple, raised upon a natural platform, looks out toward Salamis, and the
narrow line of azure which separates it from the land. Turning to the left
as you stand at the temple front, the eye wanders over the rich plain of
Eleusis, now dotted over with villages, and colored (in April) with the
rich brown of ploughing and the splendid green of sprouting wheat. This
plain had multiplied its wealth manifold since I first saw it, and led us
to hope that the peasants were waking up to the great market which is near
them at Athens. The track of the old sacred way along the Thriasian plain
is often visible, for much of the sea-coast is marshy, so the road was cut
out in many places along the spurs of the rocky hill of Daphne. The
present road goes between the curious salt-lakes (Rheitoi) and the
shore—salt-lakes full of sea-fish, and evidently fed by great natural
springs, for there is a perpetual strong outflow to the tideless sea. I
know not whether this natural curiosity has been explained by the learned.

It is, of course, the celebrated Mysteries—the _Greater Eleusinia_, as
they were called—which give to the now wretched village of Eleusis, with
its hopeless ruins, so deep an interest. This wonderful feast, handed down
from the remotest antiquity, maintained its august splendor all through
the greater ages of Greek history, down to the times of decay and
trifling—when everything else in the country had become mean and
contemptible. Even Cicero, who was of the initiated himself, a man of wide
culture and of a skeptical turn of mind—even Cicero speaks of it as _the_
great product of the culture of Athens. “Much that is excellent and
divine,” says he,(80) “does Athens seem to me to have produced and added
to our life, but nothing better than those Mysteries, by which we are
formed and moulded from a rude and savage life to humanity; and indeed in
the Mysteries we perceive the real principles of life, and learn not only
to live happily, but to die with a fairer hope.” These are the words of a
man writing, as I have said; in the days of the ruin and prostration of
Greece. Can we then wonder at the enthusiastic language of the Homeric
Hymn,(81) of Pindar,(82) of Sophocles,(83) of Aristophanes,(84) of
Plato,(85) of Isocrates,(86) of Chrysippus(87)? Every manner of
writer—religious poet, worldly poet, skeptical philosopher, orator—all are
of one mind about this, far the greatest of all the religious festivals of

To what did it owe this transcendent character? It was not because men
here worshipped exceptional gods, for the worship of Demeter and Cora was
an old and widely diffused cult all over Greece: and there were other
Eleusinia in various places. It was not because the ceremony consisted of
mysteries, of hidden acts and words, which it was impious to reveal, and
which the initiated alone might know. For the habit of secret worship was
practised in every state, where special clans were charged with the care
of special secret services, which no man else might know. Nay, even within
the ordinary homes of the Greeks there were these Mysteries. Neither was
it because of the splendor of the temple and its appointments, which never
equalled the Panathenæa at the Parthenon, or the riches of Delphi, or
Olympia. There is only one reasonable cause, and it is that upon which all
our serious authorities agree. The doctrine taught in the Mysteries was a
faith which revealed hopeful things about the world to come; and which—not
so much as a condition, but as a consequence, of this clearer light, this
higher faith—made them better citizens and better men. This faith was
taught them in the Mysteries through symbols,(88) through prayer and
fasting, through wild rejoicings; but, as Aristotle expressly tells us, it
was reached not by intellectual persuasion, but by a change into a new
moral state—in fact, by being spiritually revived.

Here, then, we have the strangest and most striking analogy to our
religion in the Greek mythology; for here we have a higher faith publicly
taught,—any man might present himself to be initiated,—and taught, not in
opposition to the popular creed, but merely by deepening it, and showing
to the ordinary worldling its spiritual power. The belief in the Goddess
Demeter and her daughter, the queen of the nether world, was, as I have
said, common all over Greece; but even as nowadays we are told that there
may be two kinds of belief of the same truths—one of the head and another
of the heart—just as the most excellent man of the world, who believes all
the creeds of the Church, is called an unbeliever, in the higher sense, by
our Evangelical Christians; so the ordinary Greek, though he prayed and
offered at the Temple of Demeter, was held by the initiated at the
Mysteries to be wallowing in the mire of ignorance, and stumbling in the
night of gloom—he was held to live without real light, and to die without
hope, in wretched despair.(89)

  [Illustration: Temple of Mysteries, Eleusis]

The very fact that it was not lawful to divulge the Mystery has prevented
the many writers who knew it from giving us any description by which we
might gain a clear idea of this wonderful rite. We have hints of various
sacred vessels, of various priests known by special technical names; of
dramatic representations of the rape of Cora, and of the grief of her
mother; of her complaints before Zeus, and the final reconciliation. We
hear of scenes of darkness and fear, in which the hopeless state of the
unbelievers was portrayed; of light and glory, to which the convert
attained, when at last his eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and

But all these things are fragmentary glimpses, as are also the doctrines
hinted of the Unity of God, and of atonement by sacrifice. There remains
nothing clear and certain, but the unanimous verdict as to the greatness,
the majesty, and the awe of the services, and as to the great spiritual
knowledge and comfort which they conveyed. The consciousness of guilt was
not, indeed, first taught by them, but was felt generally, and felt very
keenly by the Greek mind. These Mysteries were its Gospel of
reconciliation with the offended gods.

                              CHAPTER VIII.


No ordinary student, looking at the map of Attica and Bœotia, can realize
the profound and complete separation between these two countries. Except
at the very northern extremity, where the fortified town of Oropus guarded
an easy boundary, all the frontier consists not merely of steep mountains,
but of parallel and intersecting ridges and gorges, which contain indeed a
few alpine valleys, such as that of Œnoe, but which are, as a rule, wild
and barren, easily defensible by a few against many, and totally unfit for
the site of any considerable town, or any advanced culture. As I before
stated, the traveller can pass through by Dekelea, or he can pass most
directly by Phyle, the fort which Thrasybulus seized when he desired to
reconquer Athens with his democratic exiles. The historians usually tell
us “that he seized _and fortified_ Phyle”; a statement which the present
aspect of it seems to render very doubtful indeed. It is quite impossible
that the great hill-fort of the very finest Attic building, which is still
remaining and admired by all, could have been “knocked up” by Thrasybulus
and his exiles. The careful construction and the enormous extent of the
building compel us to suppose it the work of a rich state, and of a
deliberate plan of fortification. It seems very unlikely, for these
reasons, that it was built after the days of Thrasybulus, or that so
important a point of attack should have been left unguarded in the greater
days of Athens. I am therefore convinced that the fort, being built long
before, and being, in fact, one of the well-known fortified demes through
Attica, had been to some extent dismantled, or allowed to fall into decay,
at the end of the Peloponnesian War, but that its solid structure made it
a matter of very little labor for the exiles to render it strong and
easily defensible.

This is one of the numerous instances in which a single glance at the
locality sets right an historical statement that has eluded suspicion for
ages. The fort of Phyle, like that of Eleutheræ, of which I shall speak,
and like those of Messene and of Orchomenus, is built of square blocks of
stone, carefully cut, and laid together without a particle of rubble or
cement, but so well fitted as to be able to resist the wear of ages better
than almost any other building. I was informed by M. Émile Burnouf, that
in the case of a fort at Megara, which I did not see, there are even
polygonal blocks, of which the irregular and varying angles are fitted
with such precision that it is difficult, as in the case of the Parthenon,
to detect the joinings of the stones. The blocks are by no means so
colossal in these buildings as in the great ruins about Mycenæ; but the
fitting is closer, and the sites on which we find them very lofty, and
with precipitous ascents. This style of building is specially mentioned by
Thucydides (I. 93) as being employed in the building of the walls of the
Peiræus in the days of Themistocles, apparently in contrast to the rude
and hurried construction of the city walls. But he speaks of the great
stones being not only cut square, but fastened with clamps of iron
soldered with lead. I am not aware that any traces of this are found in
the remaining hill-forts. The walls of the Peiræus have, unfortunately,
long since almost totally disappeared.

The way from Athens to Phyle leads north-west through the rich fields of
the old deme of Acharnæ; and we wonder at first why they should be so
noted as charcoal-burners. But as we approach Mount Parnes, we find that
the valley is bounded by tracts of hillside fit for nothing but pine
forest. A vast deal of wooding still remains; it is clear that these
forests were the largest and most convenient to supply Athens with
firewood or charcoal. As usual, there are many glens and river-courses
through the rugged country through which we ascend—here and there a
village, in one secluded nook a little monastery, hidden from the world,
if not from its cares. There is the usual Greek vegetation beside the
path; not perhaps luxuriant to our Northern eyes, but full of colors of
its own—the glowing anemone, the blood-red poppy, the delicate cistus on a
rocky surface, with foliage rather gray and silvery than green. The
pine-trees sound, as the breeze sweeps up the valleys, and lavish their
vigorous fragrance through the air.

There is something inexpressibly bracing in this solitude, if solitude it
can be called, where the forest speaks to the eye and ear, and fills the
imagination with the mystery of its myriad forms. Now and then too the
peculiar cadence of those bells which hardly varies throughout all the
lands of the south, tells you that a flock of goats, or goat-like sheep,
is near, attended by solemn, silent children, whose eyes seem to have no
expression beyond that of vague wonder in their gaze. These are the flocks
of some village below, not those of the nomad Vlachs, who bring with them
their tents and dogs, and make gipsy encampments in the unoccupied

At last we see high over us the giant fort of Phyle—set upon a natural
precipice, which defends it amply for half its circuit. The point of
occupation was well chosen, for while within sight of Athens, and near
enough to afford a sure refuge to those who could escape by night and fly
to the mountain, its distance (some 15 miles) and the steep and rugged
ascent, made it impossible for weak and aged people to crowd into it and
mar the efficiency of its garrison. With the increase of his force
Thrasybulus began successful raids into the plain, then a rapid movement
to Peiræus; ultimately, as may be read in all histories, he accomplished
the liberation of his native city.

We did not pass into Bœotia by the way of Phyle, preferring to take the
longer route through Eleusis. But no sooner had we left Eleusis than we
began to ascend into the rough country, which is the preface to the wild
mountain passes of Cithæron. It is, indeed, very difficult to find where
one range of mountains begins and another ends, anywhere throughout
Greece. There is generally one high peak, which marks a whole chain or
system of mountains, and after which the system is called; but all closer
specification seems lost, on account of the immense number of ridges and
points which crowd upon the view in all directions. Thus the chain of
Parnes, after throwing out a spur toward the south, which divides the
Athenian and the Thriasian plains, sweeps round the latter in a sort of
amphitheatre, and joins the system of Cithæron (Kitheron), which extends
almost parallel with Parnes. A simple look at a good map explains these
things by supplementing mere description. The only thing which must be
specially enforced is, that all the region where a plain is not expressly
named is made up of broken mountain ridges and rocky defiles, so that it
may fairly be called an alpine country. A fellow-traveller, who had just
been in Norway, was perpetually struck with its resemblance to the
Norwegian highlands.

I will only mention one other fact which illustrates the consequent
isolation. We have a river Kephissus in the plain of Athens. As soon as we
cross the pass of Daphne we have another Kephissus in the Thriasian plain.
Within a day’s journey, or nearly so, we have another Kephissus, losing
itself in the lake Copais, not far from Orchomenus. This repetition of the
same name shows how little intercourse people have in the country, how
little they travel, and how there is no danger of confusing these
identical names. Such a fact, trifling as it is, illustrates very
powerfully the isolation which the Greek mountains produce.

There is a good road from Athens to Thebes,—a very unusual thing in
Greece,—and we were able to drive with four horses, after a fashion which
would have seemed very splendid in old days. But, strange to say, the old
Greek fashion of driving four horses abreast, two being yoked to the pole,
and two outriggers, or _παράσειροι_, as they were called, has disappeared
from Greece, whereas it still survives in Southern Italy. On the other
hand the Greeks are more daring drivers than the Italians, being indeed
braver in all respects, and, when a road is to be had, a very fast pace is
generally kept up.

As usual, the country was covered with brushwood, and with numbers of old
gnarled fir-trees, which bore everywhere upon their stems the great wounds
of the hatchet, made to extract the resin for the flavoring of wine. Rare
flocks of goats, with their peculiar, dull, tinkling bells—bells which
have the same make and tone all through Calabria, through Sicily, and
through Greece—were the only sign of human occupation or of population.
But when you look for houses, there is nothing in the shape of wall or
roof, save an occasional station, where, but a few years since, soldiers
were living, to keep the road safe from bandits. At last we came upon the
camp of some Vlach shepherds—a thing reminding one far more of a gipsy
camp than anything else—a few dark-brown skins falling over two upright
poles, so as to form a roof-shaped tent, of which the entrance looked so
absolutely black as to form quite a patch in the landscape. There is mere
room for lying in these tents by night; and, I suppose, in the summer
weather most of these wild shepherds will not condescend even to this

After some hours’ drive we reached a grassy dell, shaded by large
plane-trees, where a lonely little public-house—if I may so call it—of
this construction invited us to stop for watering the horses, and
inspecting more closely the owner. There was the usual supply of such
places—red and white wine in small casks, excellent fresh water, and
_lucumia_, or Turkish delight. Not only had the owner his belt full of
knives and pistols, but there was hanging up in a sort of rack a most
picturesque collection of swords and guns—all made in Turkish fashion,
with ornamented handles and stocks, and looking as if they might be more
dangerous to the sportsman than to his game. While we were being served by
this wild-looking man, in this suspicious place—in fact, it looked like
the daily resort of bandits—his wife, a comely young woman, dressed in the
usual dull blue, red, and white, disappeared through the back way, and hid
herself among the trees. This fear of being seen by strangers—no doubt
caused by jealousy among men, and, possibly, by an Oriental tone in the
country—is a striking feature through most parts of Greece. It is said to
be a remnant of the Turkish influence, but seems to me to lie deeper, and
to be even an echo of the old Greek days. The same feeling is prevalent in
most parts of Sicily. In the towns there you seldom see ladies in the
streets; and in the evenings, except when the play-going public is
returning from the theatre, there are only men visible.

After leaving this resting-place, about eleven in the morning, we did not
meet a village, or even a single house till we had crossed Cithæron, after
six in the evening, and descried the modern hamlet of Platæa on the slopes
to our left. But once or twice through the day a string of four or five
mules, with bright, richly striped rugs over their wooden saddles, and men
dressed still more brightly sitting lady-fashion on them, were threading
their way along the winding road. The tinkling of the mules’ bells and the
wild Turkish chants of the men were a welcome break in the uniform
stillness of the journey. The way becomes gradually wilder and steeper,
though often descending to cross a shady valley, which opens to the right
and left, in a long, narrow vista, and shows blue far-off hills of other
mountain chains. One of these valleys was pointed out to us as Œnoe, an
outlying deme of Attica, fortified in Periclean days, and which the
Peloponnesian army attacked, as Thucydides tells us, and failed to take,
on their invasion of Attica at the opening of the war. There are two or
three strong square towers in this valley, close to the road, but not the
least like any old Greek fort, and quite incapable of holding any
garrison. The site is utterly unsuitable, and there seemed no remains of
any walled town.

These facts led me to reflect upon the narrative of Thucydides, who
evidently speaks of Œnoe as the border fort of Attica, and yet says not a
word about Eleutheræ, which is really the border, the great fort, and the
key to the passes of Cithæron. The first solution which suggests itself
is, that the modern Greeks have given the wrong names to these places, and
that by Œnoe Thucydides really means the place now known as Eleutheræ.(91)
Most decidedly, if the fort which is now there existed at the opening of
the Peloponnesian War, he cannot possibly have overlooked it in his
military history of the campaign. And yet it seems certain that we must
place the building of this fort at the epoch of Athens’s greatness, when
Attic influence was paramount in Bœotia, and when the Athenians could, at
their leisure, and without hindrance, construct this fort, which commands
the passes into Attica, before they diverge into various valleys, about
the region of the so-called Œnoe.

For, starting from Thebes, the slope of Cithæron is a single unbroken
ascent up to the ridge, through which, nearly over the village of Platæa,
there is a cut that naturally indicates the pass. But when the traveller
has ascended from Thebes to this point he finds a steep descent into a
mountainous and broken region, where he must presently choose between a
gorge to the right or to the left, and must wander about zigzag among
mountains, so as to find his way toward Athens. And although I did not
examine all the passes accurately, it was perfectly obvious that, as soon
as the first defile was left behind, an invader could find various ways of
eluding the defenders of Attica, and penetrating into the Thriasian plain,
or, by Phyle, into that of Athens. Accordingly, the Athenians choose a
position of remarkable strength, just inside the last crowning ascent,
where all the ways converge to pass the crest of the mountain into Platæa.
Here a huge rock, interposing between the mountains on each side, strives,
as it were, to bar the path, which accordingly divides like a torrent bed,
and passes on either side, close under the walls of the fort which
occupies the top of the rock. From this point the summit of the pass is
about two or three miles distant, and easily visible, so that an outpost
there, commanding a view of the whole Theban plain, could signal any
approach to the fort with ample notice.

The position of the fort at Phyle, above described, is very similar. It
lies within a mile of the top of the pass, on the Attic side, within sight
of Athens, and yet near enough to receive the scouts from the top, and
resist all sudden attack. No force could invade Attica without leaving a
large force to besiege it.

Looking backward into Attica, the whole mountainous tract of Œnoe is
visible; and, though we cannot now tell the points actually selected,
there is no difficulty in finding several which could easily pass the
signal from Eleutheræ to Daphne, and thence to Athens. We know that fire
signals were commonly used among the Greeks, and we can here see an
instance where news could be telegraphed some thirty miles over a very
difficult country in a few moments. Meanwhile, as succors might be some
time in arriving, the fort was of such size and strength as to hold a
large garrison, and stop any army which could not afford to mask it, by
leaving there a considerable force.(92)

The site was, of course, an old one, and the name Eleutheræ, if correctly
applied to this fort, points to a time when some mountain tribe maintained
its independence here against the governments on either side in the plain,
whence the place was called the “_Free_” place, or _Liberties_ (as we have
the term in Dublin). There is further evidence of this in a small
irregular fort which was erected almost in the centre of the larger and
later enclosure. This older fort is of polygonal masonry, very inferior to
the other, and has fallen into ruins, while the later walls and towers are
in many places perfect. The outer wall follows the nature of the position,
the principle being to find everywhere an abrupt descent from the
fortification, so that an assault must be very difficult. On the north
side, where the rock is precipitous, the wall runs along in a right line;
whereas on the south side, over the modern road, it dips down the hill,
and makes a semicircular sweep, so as to crown the steepest part of a
gentler ascent. Thus the whole enclosure is of a half-moon shape. But
while the straight wall is almost intact, the curved side has in many
places fallen to pieces. The building is the most perfect I have ever seen
of the kind, made of square hewn stones, evidently quarried on the rock
itself. The preserved wall is about 200 yards long, six and a half feet
wide, and apparently not more than ten or twelve feet high; but, at
intervals of twenty-five or thirty yards, there are seven towers twice as
deep as the wall, while the path along the battlement goes right through
them. Each tower has a doorway on the outside of it, and close beside this
there is also a doorway in the wall, somewhat larger. These doorways, made
by a huge lintel, about seven and a half feet long, laid over an aperture
in the building, with its edges very smoothly and carefully cut, are for
the most part absolutely perfect. As I could see no sign of doorposts or
bolts—a feature still noticeable in all temple gates—it is evident that
wooden doors and door-posts were fitted into these doorways—a dangerous
form of defence, were not the entrances strongly protected by the towers
close beside them and over them. There were staircases, leading from the
top of the wall outward, beside some of the towers. The whole fort is of
such a size as to hold not merely a garrison, but also the flocks and
herds of the neighboring shepherds, in case of a sudden and dangerous
invasion; and this, no doubt, was the primary intention of all the older
forts in Greece and elsewhere.(93)

The day was, as usual, very hot and fine, and the hills were of that
beautiful purple blue which Sir F. Leighton so well reproduces in the
backgrounds of his Greek pictures; but a soft breeze brought occasional
clouds across the sun, and varied the landscape with deeper hues. Above us
on each side were the noble crags of Cithæron, with their gray rocks and
their gnarled fir-trees. Far below, a bright mountain stream was rushing
beside the pass into Attica; around us were the great walls of the old
Greeks, laid together with that symmetry, that beauty, and that strength
which marks all their work. The massive towers are now defending a barren
rock; the enclosure which had seen so many days of war and rapine was
lying open and deserted; the whole population was gone long centuries ago.
There is still _liberty_ there, and there is peace—but the liberty and the
peace of solitude.

A short drive from Eleutheræ brought us to the top of the pass,(94) and we
suddenly came upon one of those views in Greece which, when we think of
them, leave us in doubt whether the instruction they give us, or the
delight, is the greater. The whole plain of Thebes, and, beyond the
intervening ridge, the plain of Orchomenus, with its shining lake, were
spread out before us. The sites of all the famous towns were easily
recognizable. Platæa only was straight beneath us, on the slopes of the
mountain, and as yet hidden by them. The plan of all Bœotia unfolded
itself with great distinctness—two considerable plains, separated by a low
ridge, and surrounded on all sides by chains of mountains. On the north
there are the rocky hills which hem in Lake Copais from the Eubœan strait,
and which nature had pierced before the days of history, aided by Minyan
engineers, whose _καταβόθρα_, as they were called, were tunnelled drains,
which drew water from thousands of acres of the richest land. On the east,
where we stood, was the gloomy Cithæron—the home of awful mythical crimes,
and of wild Bacchanalian orgies, the theme of many a splendid poem and
many a striking tragedy. To the south lay the pointed peaks of Helicon—a
mountain (or mountain chain) full of sweetness and light, with many silver
streams coursing down its sides to water the Bœotian plains, and with its
dells, the home of the Muses ever since they inspired the bard of
Ascra—the home, too, of Eros, who long after the reality of the faith had
decayed, was honored in Thespiæ by the crowds of visitors who went up to
see the famous statue of the god by Praxiteles. This Helicon separates
Bœotia from the southern sea, but does not close up completely with
Cithæron, leaving way for an army coming from the isthmus, where Leuctra
stood to guard the entrance. Over against us, on the west, lay, piled
against one another, the dark wild mountains of Phocis, with the giant
Parnassus raising its snow-clad shoulders above the rest. But, in the far
distance, the snowy Corax of Ætolia stood out in rivalry, and showed us
that Parnassus is but the advanced guard of the wild alpine country, which
even in Greece proved too rugged a nurse for culture.

We made our descent at full gallop down the windings of the road—a most
risky drive; but the coachman was daring and impatient, and we felt, in
spite of the danger, that peculiar delight which accompanies the
excitement of going at headlong pace. We had previously an even more
perilous experience in coming down the steep and tortuous descent from the
Laurium mines to Ergasteria in the train, where the sharp turns were
apparently full of serious risk. Above our heads were wheeling great
vultures—huge birds, almost black, with lean, featherless heads—which
added to the wildness of the scene. After this rapid journey we came upon
the site of Platæa, marked by a modern village of the name, on our left,
and below us we saw the winding Asopus, and the great scene of one of the
most famous of all Greek battles—the battle of Platæa. This little town is
situated much higher up the mountain than I had thought, and a glance
showed us its invaluable position as an outpost of Athenian power toward
Bœotia. With the top of the pass within an hour’s walk, the Platæans
could, from their streets, see every movement over the Theban plain: they
could see an invasion from the south coming up by Leuctra; they could see
troops marching northward toward Tanagra and Œnophyta. They could even see
into the Theban Cadmea, which lay far below them, and then telegraph from
the top of the pass to Eleutheræ, and from thence to Athens. We can,
therefore, understand at once Platæa’s importance to Athens, and why the
Athenians built a strong fortified post on their very frontier, within
easy reach of it.

All the site of the great battle is well marked and well known—the
fountain Gargaphia, the so-called island, and the Asopus, flowing lazily
in a deep-cut sedgy channel, in most places far too deep to ford. Over our
heads were still circling the great black vultures; but, as we neared the
plain, we flashed a large black-and-white eagle, which we had not seen in
Attica. There is some cultivation between Platæa and Thebes, but strangely
alternating with wilderness. We were told that the people have plenty of
spare land, and, not caring to labor for its artificial improvement, till
a piece of ground once, and then let it lie fallow for a season or two.
The natural richness of the Bœotian soil thus supplies them with ample
crops. But we wondered to think how impossible it seems even in these rich
and favored plains to induce a fuller population.

The question of the depopulation of Greece is no new one—it is not due to
the Slav inroads—it is not due to Turkish misrule. As soon as the
political liberties of Greece vanished, so that the national talent found
no scope in local government—as soon as the riches of Asia were opened to
Greek enterprise—the population diminished with wonderful rapidity. All
the later Greek historians and travellers are agreed about the fact.(95)
“The whole of Greece could not put in the field,” says one, “as many
soldiers as came of old from a single city.” “Of all the famous cities of
Bœotia,” says another, “but two—Thespiæ and Tanagra—now remain.” The rest
are mostly described as ruins (_ἐρείπια_). No doubt, every young
enterprising fellow went off to Asia as a soldier or a merchant; and this
taste for emigrating has remained strong in the race till the present day,
when most of the business of Constantinople, of Smyrna, and of Alexandria
is in the hands of Greeks. But, in addition to this, the race itself seems
at a certain period to have become less prolific; and this, too, is a
remarkable feature lasting to our own time. In the several hospitable
houses in which I was entertained through the country I sought in vain for
children. The young married ladies had their mothers to keep them company,
and this was a common habit; the daughter does not willingly separate from
her mother. But, whether by curious coincidence or not, the absence of
children in these seven or eight houses was very remarkable. I have been
since assured that this was an accident, and that large families are very
common in Greece. The statistics show a considerable increase of
population of late years.(96)

The evening saw us entering into Thebes—the town which, beyond all others,
retains the smallest vestiges of antiquity. Even the site of the Cadmea is
not easily distinguishable. Two or three hillocks in and about the town
are all equally insignificant, and all equally suitable, one should think,
for a fortress. The discovery of the old foundations of the walls has,
however, determined the matter, and settled the site to be that of the
highest part of the present town. Its strength, which was celebrated, must
have been due nearly altogether to artificial fortification, for though
the old city was in a deeper valley to the north-west, yet from the other
side there can never have been any ascent steep enough to be a natural
rampart. The old city was, no doubt, always more renowned for eating and
drinking than for art or architecture,(97) and its momentary supremacy
under Epaminondas was too busy and too short a season to be employed in
such pursuits. But, besides all this, and besides all the ruin of
Alexander’s fury, the place has been visited several times with the most
destructive earthquakes, from the last of which (in 1852) it had not
recovered when I first saw it. There were still through the streets houses
torn open, and walls shaken down; there were gaps made by ruins, and
half-restored shops.

The antiquities of Thebes consist of a few inscribed slabs and fragments
which are (as usual) collected in a dark outhouse, where it is not easy to
make them out. I was not at the trouble of reading these inscriptions, for
in this department the antiquarians of the University of Athens are really
very zealous and competent, and I doubt whether any inscription now
discovered fails to come into the Greek papers within a few months. From
these they of course pass into the _Corpus Inscriptionum Græcarum_, a
collection daily increasing, and periodically reedited. I may observe
that, not only for manners and customs, but even for history, these
undeniable and seldom suspicious sources are rapidly becoming our surest
and even fullest authority.

In the opinion of the inhabitants, by far the most important thing about
the town is the tomb of their Evangelist S. Luke, which is situated in a
chapel close by. The stone is polished and worn with the feet and lips of
pilgrims, and all such homes of long devotion are in themselves
interesting; but the visitor may well wonder that the Evangelist should
have his tomb established in a place so absolutely decayed and depopulated
as was the region of Thebes, even in his day. The tombs of the early
preachers and missionaries are more likely to be in the thickest of
thoroughfares, amid the noise and strife of men. The Evangelist was
confused with a later local saint of the same name.(98)

Thebes is remarkable for its excellent supply of water. Apart from the
fountain Dirke,(99) several other great springs rise in the higher ground
close to it, and are led by old Greek conduits of marble to the town. One
of these springs was large enough to allow us to bathe—a most refreshing
change after the long and hot carriage drive, especially in the ice-cold
water, as it came from its deep hiding-place. We returned at eight in the
evening to dine with our excellent host—a host provided for us by
telegraph from Athens—where we had ample opportunity of noticing some of
the peculiarities of modern Greek life.

The general elections were at the moment pending. M. Boulgaris had just
_échoue_, as the French say; and the King, after a crisis in which a
rupture of the Constitution had been expected, decided to try a
constitutional experiment, and called to office M. Trikoupi, an advanced
Radical in those days, and strongly opposed to the Government. But M.
Trikoupi was a highly educated and reasonable man, well acquainted with
England and English politics, and apparently anxious to govern by strictly
constitutional means. He has since proved himself, by his able and
vigorous administration, one of the most remarkable statesmen in Europe,
and the main cause of the progress of his country. His recent defeat
(1890) is therefore to be regarded as a national misfortune. Our new
friend at Thebes was then the Radical candidate, and was at the very time
of our arrival canvassing his constituency. Every idle fellow in the town
seemed to think it his duty to come up into his drawing-room, in which we
were resting, and sit down to encourage him and advise him. No hint that
he was engaged in entertaining strangers had the smallest effect: noisy
politics was inflicted upon us till the welcome announcement of dinner, to
which, for a wonder, his constituents did not follow him. He told me that
though all the country was strongly in favor of M. Trikoupi, yet he could
hardly count upon a majority with certainty, for he had determined to let
the elections follow their own course, and not control them with soldiers.
In this most constitutional country, with its freedom, as usual, closely
imitated from England, soldiers stood, at least up to the summer of 1875,
round the booths, and hustled out any one who did not come to vote for the
Ministerial candidate. M. Trikoupi refused to take this traditional
precaution, and, as the result showed, lost his sure majority.

But when I was there, and before the actual elections had taken place, the
Radical party were very confident. They were not only to come in
triumphant, but their first act was to be the prosecution of the late
Prime Minister, M. Boulgaris, for violating the Constitution, and his
condemnation to hard labor, with confiscation of his property. I used to
plead the poor man’s case earnestly with these hot-headed politicians, by
way of amusement, and was highly edified by their arguments. The ladies,
as usual, were by far the fiercest, and were ready, like their goddess of
old, to eat the raw flesh of their enemies. I used to ask them whether it
would not be quite out of taste if Mr. Disraeli, then in power, were to
prosecute Mr. Gladstone for violating the Constitution in his Irish Church
Act, and have him condemned to hard labor. The cases, they replied, were
quite different. No Englishman could ever attain, or even understand, the
rascality of the late Greek Minister. Feeling that there might be some
force in this argument, I changed ground, and asked them were they not
afraid that if he were persecuted in so violent a way he might, instead of
occupying the Opposition benches, betake himself to occupy the mountain
passes, and, by robbing a few English travellers, so discredit the new
Government as to be worse and more dangerous in opposition than in power.
No, they said, he will not do that; he is _too rich_. But, said I, if you
confiscate his property, he will be poor. True, they replied; but still he
will not be able to do it: he is _too old_. It seemed as if the idea that
he might be too respectable never crossed their minds.(100) What was my
surprise to hear within six months that this dreadful culprit had come
into power again at the head of a considerable majority!

We were afterward informed by a sarcastic observer that many of the Greek
politicians are paupers, “who will not dig, and to beg they are ashamed;”
and so they sit about the _cafés_ of Athens on the look-out for one of the
10,000 places which have been devised for the patronage of the Ministry.
But, as there are some 30,000 expectants, it follows that the 20,000
disappointed are always at work seeking to turn out the 10,000. Hence a
crisis every three months; hence a Greek ambassador could hardly reach his
destination before he was recalled; hence, too, the exodus of all thrifty
and hard-working men to Smyrna, to Alexandria, or to Manchester, where
their energies were not wasted in perpetual political squabbling. The
greatest misconduct with which a man in office could be charged was the
holding of it for any length of time; the whole public then join against
him, and cry out that it is high time for him, after so long an innings,
to make way for some one else. It was not till M. Trikoupi established his
ascendency that this ridiculous condition of things ceased. Whether in
office or in opposition, he has a policy, and retains the confidence of
foreign powers. I had added, in the first edition of this book, some
further observations on the apparent absurdity of introducing the British
Constitution, or some parody of it, into every new state which is rescued
from barbarism or from despotism. I am not the least disposed to retract
what I then said generally, but it is common justice to the Greeks to say
that later events are showing them to be among the few nations where such
an experiment may succeed. When the dangerous crisis of the Turco-Russian
war supervened, instead of rushing to arms, as they were advised by some
fanatical English politicians, they set about to reform their Ministry;
and, feeling the danger of perpetually changing the men at the helm, they
insisted on the heads of the four principal parties forming a coalition,
under the nominal leadership of M. Canaris.(101) This great political
move, one of the most remarkable of our day, was attempted, as far as I
can make out, owing to the deliberate pressure of the country, and from a
solid interest in its welfare. Even though temporary in the present case,
it was an earnest that the Greeks are learning national politics, and that
a liberal constitution is not wasted upon them. There are many far more
developed and important nations in Europe which would not be capable of
such a sacrifice of party interests and party ambition.

We left Thebes, very glad that we had seen it, but not very curious to see
it again. Its site makes it obviously the natural capital of the rich
plain around it; and we can also see at once how the larger and richer
plain of Orchomenus is separated from it by a distinct saddle of rising
ground, and was naturally, in old times, the seat of a separate power. But
the separation between the two districts, which is not even so steep or
well marked as the easy pass of Daphne between Athens and Eleusis, makes
it also clear that the owners of either plain would certainly cast the eye
of desire upon the possessions of their neighbors, and so at an early
epoch Orchomenus was subdued. For many reasons this may have been a
disaster to Greece. The Minyæ of Orchomenus, as people called the old
nobles who settled there in prehistoric days, were a great and rich
society, building forts and treasure-houses, and celebrated, even in
Homer’s day, for wealth and splendor.

But, perhaps owing to this very luxury, they were subdued by the
inartistic, vulgar Thebans, who, during centuries of power and importance,
never rose to greatness save through the transcendent genius of Pindar and
of Epaminondas. No real greatness ever attached to their town. When people
came from a distance to see art in Bœotia, they came to little Thespiæ, in
the southern hills, where the Eros of Praxiteles was the pride of the
citizens. Tanagra, too, in the terra cottas of which I have spoken (above,
p. 59), shows taste and refinement; and we still look with sympathy upon
the strangely modern fashions of these graceful and elegant figures. At
Thebes, so far as I know, no trace of fine arts has yet been discovered.
The great substructure of the Cadmea, the solid marble water-pipes of
their conduits, a few inscriptions—that is all. It corroborates what we
find in the middle and new comedy of the Greeks, that Thebes was a place
for eating and drinking, a place for other coarse material comforts—but no
place for real culture or for art. Even their great poet, Pindar, a poet
in whom most critics find all the highest qualities of genius—loftiness,
daring, originality—even this great man—no doubt from the accidents of his
age—worked by the job, and bargained for the payment of his noblest odes.

Thus, even in Pindar, there is something to remind us of his Theban
vulgarity; and it is, therefore, all the more wonderful, and all the more
freely to be confessed, that in Epaminondas we find not a single flaw or
failing, and that he stands out as far the noblest of all the great men
whom Greece ever produced. It were possible to maintain that he was also
the greatest, but this is a matter of opinion and of argument. Certain it
is that his influence made Thebes, for the moment, not only the leader in
Greek politics, but the leader in Greek society. Those of his friends whom
we know seem not only patriots, but gentlemen—they cultivated with him
music and eloquence, nor did they despise philosophy. So true is it, that
in this wonderful peninsula genius seemed possible everywhere, and that
from the least cultivated and most vulgar town might arise a man to make
all the world about him admire and tremble.

I will make but one more remark about this plain of Bœotia. There is no
part of Greece so sadly famed for all the battles with which its soil was
stained. The ancients called it Mars’s _Orchestra_, or exercising ground;
and even now, when all the old life is gone, and when not a hovel remains
to mark the site of once well-built towns, we may indeed ask, why were
these towns celebrated? Simply because in old Greek history their names
served to specify a scene of slaughter, where a campaign, or it may be an
empire, was lost or won, Platæa, Leuctra, Haliartus, Coronea, Chæronea,
Delium, Œnophyta, Tanagra—these are in history the landmarks of battles,
and, with one exception, landmarks of nothing more. Thebes is mainly the
nurse of the warriors who fought in these battles, and but little else.
So, then, we cannot compare Bœotia to the rich plains of Lombardy—they,
too, in their clay, ay, and in our own day, Mars’s Orchestra—for here
literature and art have given fame to cities, while the battles fought
around their walls have been forgotten by the world.

I confess we saw nothing of the foggy atmosphere so often brought up
against the climate of Bœotia. And yet it was then, of course, more foggy
than it had been of old, for then the lake Copais was drained, whereas in
1875 the old tunnels, cut, or rather enlarged, by the Minyæ, were choked,
and thousands of acres of the richest land covered with marsh and lake. It
was M. Trikoupi who promoted the plan of a French Company to drain the
lake more completely than even the old _Catabothra_ had done, and, at the
cost of less than one million sterling, to bring into permanent
cultivation some thousands of acres—in fact, the largest and richest plain
in all Greece. I asked him where he meant to find a population to till it,
seeing that the present land was about ten times more than sufficient for
the inhabitants. He told me that some Greek colonists, who had settled in
the north, under the Turks or Servians (I forget which), were desirous of
returning to enjoy the sweets of Hellenic liberty. It was proposed to give
them the reclaimed tract. If these good people will reason from analogy,
they will be slow to trust their fortunes to their old fellow-countrymen.
So long as they are indigent they will be unmolested—_cantabit vacuus
coram latrone viator_—but as soon as they prosper, or are supposed to
prosper, we might have the affair of Laurium repeated. The natives might
be up in arms against the strangers who had come to plunder the land of
the wealth intended by nature for others. The Greek Parliament might be
persuaded to make retrospective laws and restrictions, and probably all
the more active and impatient spirits would leave a country where
prosperity implied persecution, and where people only awake to the value
of their possessions after they have sold them to others.

What is now happening illustrates the views which I long since proposed.
When the drainage works, completed in 1887, had uncovered rich tracts, the
Government laid claim to every acre of it, and endeavored to fence off the
old riparian proprietors. They on their side disputed the new boundaries,
and claimed what the Government professed to have uncovered. Hence no sale
to new owners is as yet possible. The dispute is still (1891) unsettled.

I think jealousy no accidental feature, but one specially engrained in the
texture of Greek nature from the earliest times. Nothing can be a more
striking or cogent proof of this than the way in which Herodotus sets down
jealousy as one of the attributes of the Deity. For the Deities of all
nations being conceptions formed after the analogy of human nature around
them, there can be no doubt that the honest historian put it down as a
necessary factor in the course and constitution of nature. We can only
understand Greek history by keeping these things perpetually in mind, and
even now it explains the apparent anomaly, how a nation so essentially
democratic—who recognize no nobility and no distinctions of rank—can be
satisfied with a king of foreign race. They told me themselves, over and
over again, that the simple reason was this: no Greek could tolerate
another set over him, so that even such an office as President of a Greek
Republic would be intolerable, if held by one of themselves. And this same
feeling in old times is the real reason of the deadly hate manifested
against the most moderate and humane despots. However able, however
kindly, however great such a despot might be; however the state might
prosper under him, one thing in him was intolerable—he had no natural
right to be superior to his fellows, and yet he was superior. I will not
deny the existence of political enthusiasm, and of real patriotism among
Greek tyrannicides, but I am quite sure that the universal sympathy of the
nation with them was partly based upon this deep-seated feeling.

It is said that, in another curious respect, the old and modern Greeks are
very similar—I mean the form which bribery takes in their political
struggles. It has been already observed and discussed by Mr. Freeman, how,
among the old Greeks, it was the politician who was bribed, and not the
constituents; whereas among us in England the leading politicians are
above suspicion, while the constituents are often corruptible enough. Our
Theban friend told me that in modern Greece the ancient form of bribery
was still in fashion; and that, except in Hydra and one other
place—probably, if I remember rightly, Athens—the bribing of constituents
was unknown; while the taking of bribes by Ministers was alleged not to be
very uncommon. A few years ago, men of sufficient importance to be Cabinet
Ministers were openly brought into court, and indicted for the sale of
three archbishoprics, those of Patras and Corinth among the number. There
is no doubt that this public charge points to a sort of bribery likely to
take place in any real democracy, when the men at the head of affairs are
not men of great wealth and noble birth, but often ordinary, or even needy
persons, selected by ballot, or popular vote, to fill for a very short
time a very influential office.

                               CHAPTER IX.


The road from Thebes to Lebadea (Livádia) leads along the foot of Helicon
all the way—Helicon, which, like all celebrated Greek mountains, is not a
summit, but a system of summits, or even a chain. Looking in the morning
from the plain, the contrast of the dark Cithæron and the gentle sunny
Helicon strikes the traveller again and again. After the ridge, or saddle,
is passed which separates the plain of Thebes from that of Orchomenus, the
richness of the soil increases, but the land becomes very swampy and low,
for at every half-mile comes a clear silver river, tumbling from the
slopes of Helicon on our left, crossing the road, and flowing to swell the
waters of Lake Copais—a vast sheet with undefined edges, half-marsh,
half-lake—which for centuries had no outlet to the sea, and which was only
kept from covering all the plain by evaporation in the heats of summer.
Great fields of sedge and rushes, giant reeds, and marsh plants unknown in
colder countries, mark each river course as it nears the lake; and, as
might be expected in this lonely fen country, all manner of insect life
and all manner of amphibia haunt the sites of ancient culture. Innumerable
dragon-flies, of the most brilliant colors, were flitting about the reeds,
and lighting on the rich blades of grass which lay on the water’s surface;
and now and then a daring frog would charge boldly at so great a prize,
but retire again in fear when the fierce insect dashed against him in its
impetuous start. Large land tortoises, with their high-arched shells,
yellow and brown, and patterned like the section of a great honeycomb,
went lazily along the moist banks, and close by the water, which they
could not bear to touch. Their aquatic cousins, on the other hand, were
not solitary in habit, but lay in lines along the sun-baked mud, and at
the first approach of danger dropped into the water one after the other
with successive flops, looking for all the world a long row of smooth
black pebbles which had suddenly come to life, like old Deucalion’s clods,
that they might people this solitude. The sleepy and unmeaning faces of
these tortoises were a great contrast to those of the water-snakes, which
were very like them in form, but wonderfully keen and lively in
expression. They, too, would glide into the water when so strange a thing
as man came near, but would presently raise their heads above the surface,
and eye with wonder and suspicion, and in perfect stillness, the approach
of their natural enemy. The Copaic eels, so celebrated in the Attic comedy
as the greatest of all dainties, are also still to be caught; but the
bright sun and cloudless sky made vain all my attempts to lure this famous
darling of Greek epicures. We noticed that while the shrill cicada, which
frequents dry places, was not common here, great emerald-green
grasshoppers were flying about spasmodically, with a sound and weight like
that of a small bird.

As we passed along, we were shown the sites of Haliartus and
Coronea—Haliartus, where the cruel Lysander met his death in a skirmish,
and so gave a place in history to an obscure village—Coronea, where the
Spartans first learned to taste the temper of the Theban infantry, and
where King Agesilaus well-nigh preceded his great rival to the funeral
pyre. As I said before, all these towns are only known by battles. Thespiæ
has an independent interest, and so has Ascra. The latter was the
residence of the earliest known Greek poet of whose personality we can be
sure; Thespiæ, with its highly aristocratic society, which would not let a
shopkeeper walk their place of assembly for ten years after he had retired
from business, was the site of fair temples and statues, and held its
place and fame long after all the rest of the surrounding cities had sunk
into decay. There are indistinct remains of surrounding walls about both
Haliartus and Coronea, but surely nothing that would repay the labor of
excavations. All these Bœotian towns were, of course, fortified, and all
of them lay close to the hills; for the swampy plain was unhealthy, and in
older days the rising lake was said to have swallowed up towns which had
been built close upon its margin. But the supremacy of Orchomenus in
older, and Thebes in later days, never allowed these subject towns to
attain any importance or any political significance.

After some hours’ riding, we suddenly came upon a deep vista in the
mountains on our left—such another vista as there is behind Coronea, but
narrower, and inclosed on both sides with great and steep mountains. And
here we found the cause of the cultivation of the upper plain—here was the
town of Lebadea (Livádia), famed of old for the august oracle of
Trophonius—in later days the Turkish capital of the province surrounding.
To this the roads of all the neighborhood converge, and from this a small
force can easily command the deep gorges and high mountain passes which
lead through Delphi to the port of Kirrha. Even now there is more life in
Livádia than in most Greek towns. All the wool of the country is brought
in and sold there, and, with the aid of their great water power, they have
a considerable factory, where the wool is spun and woven into stuff. A
large and beautifully clear river comes down the gorge above the town—or
rather the gorge in which the town lies—and tumbles in great falls between
the streets and under the houses, which have wooden balconies, like Swiss
châlets, built over the stream. The whole aspect of the town was not
unlike a Swiss town; indeed, all the features of the upland country are
ever reminding the traveller of his Swiss experience.

But the people are widely different. It was a great saint’s day, and all
the streets were crowded with people from many miles round. As we noted in
all Greek towns, except Arachova, the women were not to be seen in any
numbers. They do not walk about the streets except for some special
ceremony or amusement. But no women’s costume is required to lend
brightness to the coloring of the scene; for here every man had his
_fustanella_ or kilt of dazzling white, his gray or puce embroidered
waistcoat, his great white sleeves, and his scarlet skull-cap, with its
blue tassel. Nothing can be imagined brighter than a dense crowd in this
dress. They were all much excited at the arrival of strangers, and crowded
around us without the least idea or care about being thought obtrusive.
The simple Greek peasant thinks it his right to make aloud what
observations he chooses upon any stranger, and has not the smallest idea
of the politeness of reticence on such occasions.

We were received most hospitably by the medical officer of the district,
who had an amiable young wife, speaking Greek only, and a lively old
mother-in-law, living, as usual, permanently in the house, to prevent the
young lady from being lonely. Like all the richer Greeks in country parts,
they ate nothing till twelve, when they had a sort of early dinner called
breakfast, and then dined again at half-past eight in the evening. This
arrangement gave us more than enough time to look about the town when our
day’s ride was over; so we went, first of all, to see the site of
Trophonius’s oracle.

As the gorge becomes narrower, there is, on the right side, a small cave,
from which a sacred stream flows to join the larger river. Here numerous
square panels cut into the rock to hold votive tablets, now gone, indicate
a sacred place, to which pilgrims came to offer prayers for aid, and
thanksgiving for success. The actual seat of the oracle is not certain,
and is supposed to be some cave or aperture now covered by the Turkish
fort on the rock immediately above; but the whole glen, with its beetling
sides, its rushing river, and its cavernous vaulting, seems the very home
and preserve of superstition. We followed the windings of the defile,
jumping from rock to rock up the river bed, and were soon able to bathe
beyond the observation of all the crowding boys, who, like the boys of any
other town, could not satisfy their curiosity at strangeness of face and
costume. As we went on for some miles, the country began to open, and to
show us a bleak and solitary mountain region, where the chains of Helicon
and Parnassus join, and shut out the sea of Corinth from Bœotia by a great
bar some thirty miles wide. Not a sound could be heard in this wild
loneliness, save the metallic pipe of a water ouzel by the river, and the
scream of hawks about their nests, far up on the face of the cliffs.

As the evening was closing in we began to retrace our steps, when we saw
in two or three places scarlet caps over the rocks, and swarthy faces
peering down upon us with signs and shouts. Though nothing could have been
more suspicious in such a country, I cannot say that we felt the least
uneasiness, and we continued our way without regarding them. They kept
watching us from the heights, and when at last we descended nearer to the
town, they came and made signs, and spoke very new Greek, to the effect
that they had been out scouring the country for us, and that they had been
very uneasy about our safety. This was indeed the case; our excellent
Greek companion, who felt responsible to the Greek Government for our
safety, and who had stayed behind in Livádia to make arrangements, had
become so uneasy that he had sent out the police to scour the country. So
we were brought in with triumph by a large escort of idlers and officials,
and presently sat down to dinner at the fashionable hour, though in
anything but fashionable dress. The entertainment would have been as
excellent as even the intentions of our host, had not our attention been
foolishly distracted by bugs walking up the table-cloth. It is, indeed,
but a small and ignoble insect, yet it produces a wonderful effect upon
the mind; for it inspires the most ordinary man with the gift of prophecy:
it carries him away even from the pleasures of a fair repast into the
hours of night and mystery, when all his wisdom and all his might will not
save him from the persistent skirmishing of his irreconcilable foe.

It may be here worth giving a word of encouragement to the sensitive
student whom these hints are apt to deter from venturing into the wilds of
Greece. In spite of frequent starvation, both for want of food and for
want of eatable food; in spite of frequent sleeplessness and even severe
exercise at night, owing to the excess of insect population;(102) such is
the lightness and clearness of the air, such the exhilarating effect of
great natural beauty, and of solitary wandering, free and unshackled,
across the wild tracts of valley, wood, and mountain, that fatigue is an
almost impossible feeling. Eight or ten hours’ riding every day, which in
other country and other air would have been almost unendurable, was here
but the natural exercise which any ordinary man may conveniently take. It
cannot be denied that the discomforts of Greek travelling are very great,
but with good temper and patience they can all be borne; and when they are
over they form a pleasant feature in the recollections of a glorious time.
Besides, these discomforts are only the really classical mode of
travelling. Dionysus, in Aristophanes’s _Frogs_, asks, especially about
the inns, the very questions which we often put to our guide; and if his
slave carried for him not only ordinary baggage, but also his bed and
bedding, so nowadays there are many khans (inns) where the traveller
cannot lie down—I was going to say to rest—except on his own rugs.

The next day was occupied in a tour across the plain to Orchomenus, then
to Chæronea, and back to Livádia in the evening, so as to start from
thence for the passes to Delphi. Our ride was, as it were, round an
isosceles triangle, beginning with the right base angle, going to
Orchomenus north-east as the vertex, then to Chæronea at the left base
angle, and home again over the high spurs of mountain which protrude into
the plain between the two base angles of our triangle. For about a mile,
as we rode out of Livádia, a wretched road of little rough paving-stones
tormented us—the remains of Turkish engineering, when Livádia was their
capital. Patches of this work are still to be found in curious isolation
over the mountains, to the great distress of both mules and riders; for
the stones are very small and pointed, or, where they have been worn
smooth, exceedingly slippery. But we soon got away into deep rich meadows
upon the low level of the country adjoining the lake, where we found again
the same infinitely various insect life which I have already described. A
bright merry Greek boy, in full dress (for it was again a holiday),
followed in attendance on each mule or pony, and nothing could be more
picturesque than the cavalcade, going in Indian file through the long
grass, among the gay wild flowers, especially when some creek or rivulet
made our course to wind about, and so brought the long line of figures
into more varied grouping. As for the weather, it was so uniformly
splendid that we almost forgot to notice it. Indeed, strangers justly
remark what large conversation it affords us in Ireland, for there it is a
matter of constant uncertainty, and requires forethought and conjecture.
During my first journey in Greece, in the months of April, May, and June,
there was nothing to be said, except that we saw one heavy shower at
Athens, and two hours’ rain in Arcadia, and that the temperature was not
excessively hot. I have had similar experiences in March and April during
three other sojourns in the country.

In two or three hours we arrived at the site of old Orchomenus, of late
called Scripou, but now reverting, like all Greek towns, to its original
name. There is a mere hamlet, some dozen houses, at the place, which is
close to the stone bridge built over the Kephissus—the Bœotian
Kephissus—at this place. This river appears to be the main feeder of the
Copaic lake, coming down, as we saw it, muddy and cold with snow-water
from the heights of Parnassus. It runs very rapidly, like the Iser at
Munich, and is at Orchomenus about double the size of that river. Of the
so-called treasure-house of the Minyæ, nothing remains but the stone
doorposts and the huge block lying across them; and even these are almost
imbedded in earth. It was the most disappointing ruin I had seen in
Greece, for it is always quoted with the treasure-house of Atreus at
Mycenæ as one of the great specimens of prehistoric building. It is not so
interesting in any sense as the corresponding raths in Ireland. Indeed,
but for Pausanias’s description, it would, I think, have excited but
little attention.

The subsequent excavation of it by Dr. Schliemann yielded but poor
results. The building had fallen in but a few years ago. A handsome
ceiling pattern, to which a curious parallel was afterward found at
Tiryns, and some pottery, was all that rewarded the explorer.

On the hill above are the well-preserved remains of the small Acropolis,
of which the stones are so carefully cut that it looks at first sight
modern, then too good for modern work, but in no case polygonal, as are
the walls of the hill city which it protected. There is a remarkable tower
built on the highest point of the hill, with a very perfect staircase up
to it. The whole of the work is very like the work of Eleutheræ, and seems
to be of the best period of Greek wall-building. Nothing surprises the
traveller in Greece more than the number of these splendid hill-forts, or
town-fortresses, which are never noticed by the historians as anything
remarkable—in fact, the art and the habit of fortifying must have been so
universal that it excited no comment. This strikes us all the more when so
reticent a writer as Thucydides, who seldom gives us anything but war or
politics, goes out of his way to describe the wall-building of the
Peiræus. He evidently contrasts it with the hurried and irregular
construction of the city walls, into which even tombstones were built; but
if we did not study the remains still common in Greece, we might imagine
that the use of square hewn stones, the absence of mortar and rubble, and
the clamping with lead and iron were exceptional, whereas that sort of
building is the most usual sort in Greece. The walls of the Peiræus cannot
even have been the earliest specimen, for the great portal at Mycenæ,
though somewhat rougher and more huge in execution, is on the same
principle. The only peculiarity of these walls may have been their height
and width, and upon that point it is not easy to get any monumental
evidence now. The walls of the Peiræus have disappeared completely, though
the foundations are still traceable; others have stood, but perhaps on
account of their lesser height.

In a large and hospitable monastery we found the well which Pausanias
describes as close beside the shrine of the Graces, and here we partook of
breakfast, attended by our muleteers, who always accompany their employer
into the reception-room of his host, and look on at meat, ready to attend,
and always joining if possible in the conversation at table. Some
excellent specimens of old Greek pottery were shown us in the monastery,
apparently, though not ostensibly, for sale, there being a law prohibiting
the sale of antiquities to foreigners, or for exportation. In their chapel
the monks pointed out to us some fragments of marble pillars, and one or
two inscriptions—in which I was since informed that I might have found a
real live digamma, if I had carefully examined them. The digamma is now
common enough at Olympia and elsewhere. I saw it best, along with the
_koph_, which is, I suppose, much rarer, in the splendid bronze plates
containing Locrian inscriptions, which are in the possession of Mr.
Taylor’s heirs at Corfu. These plates have been ably commented on, with
facsimile drawings of the inscriptions, by a Greek writer, G. N. Ecnomides
(Corfu, 1850, and Athens, 1869).

It was on our way up the valley to Chæronea, along the rapid stream of the
Kephissus, that we came, in a little deserted church, upon one of the most
remarkable extant specimens of a peculiar epoch in Greek art. As usual, it
was set up in the dark, and we were repeatedly obliged to entreat the
natives to clear the door, through which alone we could obtain any light
to see the work. It is a funeral _stele_, not unlike the celebrated
_stele_ and its relief at Athens, which is inscribed as the _stele_ of
Aristion, and dates from the time of the Persian wars. The work before us
was inscribed as the work of Anxenor the Naxian—an artist otherwise
unknown to us; but the style and finish are very remarkable, and more
perfect than the _stele_ of Aristion. It is a relief carved on an upright
slab of gray Bœotian marble—I should say about four feet in height—and
representing a bearded man wrapped in a cloak, resting on a long stick
propped under his arm,(103) with his legs awkwardly crossed, and offering
a large grasshopper to a dog sitting before him. The hair and beard are
conventionally curled, the whole effect being very like an Assyrian
relief; but this is the case with all the older Greek sculpture, which may
have started in Ionia by an impulse from the far east. The occurrence of
the dog, a feature which strikes us frequently in the later Attic tombs,
supports what I had long since inferred from stray hints in Greek
literature, that dogs among the old Greeks, as well as the modern, were
held in the highest esteem as the friends and companions of man. This
curious monument of early Greek art was lying hidden in an obscure and
out-of-the-way corner of Greece; isolated, too, and with little of
antiquarian interest in its immediate neighborhood.(104) On my second
visit (1884), I found a cast of it in the Ministry of Public Instruction
at Athens. On my third I found the original removed to a prominent place
in the National Museum at Athens, where the traveller may now study it at
his ease.

The great value of these reliefs consists (apart from their artistic
value) in their undoubted genuineness. For we know that in later days,
both in Greece and Italy, a sort of pre-Raphaelite taste sprang up among
amateurs, who admired and preferred the stiff awkward groping after nature
to the symmetry and grace of perfect art. Pausanias, for example, speaks
with enthusiasm of these antique statues and carvings, and generally
mentions them first, as of most importance. Thus, after describing various
archaic works on the Acropolis of Athens, he adds, “But whoever places
works made with artistic skill before those which come under the
designation of archaic, may, if he likes, admire the following.”(105) As a
natural result, a fashion came in of imitating them, and we have,
especially in Italy, many statues in this style which seem certainly to be
modern imitations, and not even Greek copies of old Greek originals. But
these imitations are so well done, and so equalized by lapse of centuries
with the real antiques, that though there are scholars who profess to
distinguish infallibly the _archaistic_, as they call it, from the
archaic, it is sometimes a very difficult task, and about many of them
there is doubt and debate.

But here at Orchomenus—a country which was so decayed as to lose almost
all its population two centuries before Christ, where no amateurs of art
would stay, and where Plutarch was, as it were, the last remains in his
town of literature and respectability—here there is no danger whatever of
finding this spurious work; and thus here, as indeed all through Greece,
archaic work is thoroughly trustworthy. But the unfortunate law of the
land not often violated, as in this case—which insists upon all these
relics, however isolated, being kept in their place of finding—is the
mightiest obstacle to the study of this interesting phase of culture, and
we must await the completion of the Hellenic Society’s gallery of
photographs, from which we can make reliable observations. The Greeks will
tell you that the preservation of antiquities in their original place,
first of all, gives the inhabitants an interest in them, which might be
true but that there are very often no inhabitants: and next, that it
encourages travelling in the country. This also is true; but surely the
making of decent roads, and the establishing of decent inns, and easy
communications, would do infinitely more, and are indeed necessary, before
the second stimulus can have its effect.

Not far from this little church and its famous relief, we came in sight of
the Acropolis (called Petrachus) of Chæronea, and soon arrived at the
town, so celebrated through all antiquity, in spite of its moderate size.
The fort on the rock is, indeed, very large—perhaps the largest we saw in
Greece, with the exception of that at Corinth; and, as usual in these
buildings, follows the steepest escarpments, raising the natural precipice
by a coping of beautifully hewn and fitted square stones. The artificial
wall is now not more than four or five feet high; but even so, there are
only two or three places where it is at all easy to enter the inclosure,
which is fully a mile of straggling outline on the rock. The view from
this fort is very interesting. Commanding all the plain of the lake
Copais, it also gives a view of the sides of Parnassus, and of the passes
into Phocis, which cannot be seen till the traveller reaches this point.
Above all, it looks out upon the gap of Elatea, about ten miles
north-west, through which the eye catches glimpses of secluded valleys in
northern Phocis.

This gap is, indeed, the true key of this side of Bœotia, and is no mere
mountain pass, but a narrow plain, perhaps a mile wide, which must have
afforded an easy transit for an army. But the mountains on both sides are
tolerably steep, and so it was necessary to have a fortified town, as
Elatea was, to keep the command of the place. As we gazed through the
narrow plain, the famous passage of Demosthenes came home to us, which
begins: “It was evening, and the news came in that Philip had seized, and
was fortifying Elatea.” The nearest point of observation or of control was
the rock of Chæronea, and we may say with certainty that it was from here
the first breathless messenger set out with the terrible news for Thebes
and Athens. This, too, was evidently the pass through which Agesilaus came
on his return from Asia, and on his way to Coronea, where his great battle
was fought, close by the older trophy of the Theban victory over

Having surveyed the view, and fatigued ourselves greatly by our climb in
the summer heat, we descended to the old theatre, cut into the rock where
it ascends from the village—the smallest and steepest Greek theatre I had
ever seen. Open-air buildings always look small for their size, but most
of those erected by the Greeks and Romans were so large that nothing could
dwarf them. Even the theatre of such a town as Taormina in Sicily—which
can never have been populous—is, in addition to its enchanting site, a
very majestic structure; I will not speak of the immense theatres of
Megalopolis and of Syracuse. But this little place at Chæronea, so steep
that the spectators sat immediately over one another, looked almost
amusing when cut in the solid rock, after the manner of its enormous
brethren. The guide-book says it is one of the most ancient theatres in
Greece—why, I know not. It seems to me rather to have been made when the
population was diminishing; and any rudeness which it shows arises more
from economy, than want of experience.

But, small as it is, there are few more interesting places than the only
spot in Chæronea where we can say with certainty that here Plutarch sat—a
man who, living in an age of decadence, and in a country village of no
importance, has, nevertheless, as much as any of his countrymen, made his
genius felt over all the world. Apart from the great stores of history
brought together in his _Lives_, which, indeed, are frequently our only
source for the inner life and spirit of the greatest Greeks of the
greatest epochs—the moral effect of these splendid biographies, both on
poets and politicians through Europe, can hardly be overrated. From
Shakespeare and Alfieri to the wild savages of the French Revolution, all
kinds of patriots and eager spirits have been fascinated and excited by
these wonderful portraits. Alfieri even speaks of them as the great
discovery of his life, which he read with tears and with rage. There is no
writer of the Silver Age who gives us anything like so much valuable
information about early authors, and their general character. More
especially the inner history of Athens in her best days, the personal
features of Pericles, Cimon, Alcibiades, Nicias, as well as of
Themistocles and of Aristides, would be completely, or almost completely,
lost, if this often despised but invaluable man had not written for our
learning. And he is still more essentially a good man—a man better and
purer than most Greeks—another Herodotus in fairness and in honesty. A
poor man reputed by his neighbors “a terrible historian,” remarked to a
friend of mine, who used to lend him Scott’s novels, “that Scott was a
great historian,” and being asked his reason, replied, “He makes you to
love your kind.” There is a deep significance in this vague utterance, in
which it may be eminently applied to Plutarch. “Here in Chæronea,” says
Pausanias, “they prepare unguents from the flowers of the lily and the
rose, the narcissus and the iris. These are balm for the pains of men.
Nay, that which is made of roses, if old wooden images are anointed with
it, saves them, too, from decay.” He little knew how eternally true his
words would be, for though the rose and the iris grow wild and neglected
and yield not now their perfume to soothe the ills of men, yet from
Chæronea comes the eternal balm of Plutarch’s wisdom, to sustain the
oppressed, to strengthen the patriot, to purify with nobler pity and
terror the dross of human meanness. Nay, even the crumbling images of his
gods arrest their decay by the spirit of his morals, and revive their
beauty in the sweetness of his simple faith.

There is a rich supply of water, bursting from a beautiful old Greek
fountain, near the theatre—indeed, the water supply all over this country
is excellent. There is also an old marble throne in the church, about
which they have many legends, but no history. The costume of the girls,
whom we saw working in small irrigated plots near the houses, was
beautiful beyond that in other Greek towns. They wore splendid necklaces
of gold and silver coins, which lay like corselets of chain mail on the
neck and breast; and the dull but rich embroidery of wool on their aprons
and bodices was quite beyond what we could describe, but not beyond our
highest appreciation.

As the day was waning, we were obliged to leave this most interesting
place, and set off again on our ride home to Lebadea. We had not gone a
mile from the town when we came upon the most pathetic and striking of all
the remains in that country—the famous lion of Chæronea, which the Thebans
set up to their countrymen who had fallen in the great battle against
Philip of Macedon, in the year 338 B. C. We had been looking out for this
monument, and on our way to Chæronea, seeing a lofty mound in the plain,
rode up to it eagerly, hoping to find the lion. But we were disappointed,
and were told that the history of this larger mound was completely
unknown. It evidently commemorates some battle, and is a mound over the
dead, but whether those slain by Sylla, or those with Tolmides, or those
of some far older conflict, no man can say. It seems, however, perfectly
undisturbed, and grown about with deep weeds and brushwood, so that a
hardy excavator might find it worth opening, and, perhaps, coins might
tell us of its age.

The mound where we found the lion was much humbler and smaller; in fact,
hardly a mound at all, but a rising knoll, with its centre hollowed out,
and in the hollow the broken pieces of the famous lion. It had sunk, we
are told, into its mound of earth, originally intended to raise it above
the road beside, and lay there in perfect safety till the present century,
when four English travellers claim to have discovered it (June 3, 1818).
They tried to get it removed, and, failing in their efforts, covered up
the pieces carefully.(107) Since that time they seem to have lain
undisturbed, and are still in such a state that a few days’ labor, and a
few pounds of expense, would restore the work. It is of bluish-gray
stone—they call it Bœotian marble or limestone—and is a work of the
highest and purest merit. The lion is of that Asiatic type which has
little or no mane, and seemed to us couchant or sitting in attitude, with
the head not lowered to the forepaws, but thrown up.(108) The expression
of the face is ideally perfect—rage, grief, and shame are expressed in it,
together with that noble calmness and moderation which characterize all
good Greek art. The object of the monument is quite plain, without reading
the affecting, though simple, notice of Pausanias: “On the approach to the
city,” says he, “is the tomb of the Bœotians who fell in the battle with
Philip. It has no inscription; but the image of a lion is placed upon it
as an emblem of the spirit of these men. The inscription has been
omitted—I suppose, because the gods had willed that their fortune should
not be equal to their valor.” So, then, we have here, in what may fairly
be called a _dated_ record, one of the finest specimens of the sepulchral
monuments of the best age of Greece. It is very much to be regretted that
this splendid figure is not put together and photographed. Nothing would
be more instructive than a comparison with the finest of modern
monuments—Thorwaldsen’s Lion at Lucerne—the work, too, of the only modern
sculptor who can for one moment be ranked beside the ancient Greeks. But
the lion of Chæronea now owes its existence to the accident that no
neighboring peasant has in old times lacked stones for a wall, or for a
ditch; and when Greece awoke to a sense of the preciousness of these
things, it might have been gone, or dashed into useless fragments.

As we saw it, on a splendid afternoon in June, it lay in perfect repose
and oblivion, the fragments large enough to tell the contour and the
style; in the mouth of the upturned head wild bees were busy at their
work, and the honeycomb was there between its teeth. The Hebrew story came
fresh upon us, and we longed for the strength which tore the lion of old,
to gather the limbs and heal the rents of his marble fellow. The lion of
Samson was a riddle to the Philistines which they could not solve; and so
I suppose this lion of Chæronea was a riddle, too—a deeper riddle to
better men—why the patriot should fall before the despot, and the culture
of Greece before the Cæsarism of Macedonia. Even within Greece there is no
want of remarkable parallels. This, the last effulgence of the setting sun
of Greek liberty, was commemorated by a lion and a mound, as the opening
struggle at Marathon was also marked by a lion and a mound. At Marathon
the mound is there and the lion gone—at Chæronea, the lion is there and
the mound gone.(109) But doubtless the earlier lion was far inferior in
expression and in beauty, and was a small object on so large a tomb. Later
men made the sepulchre itself of less importance, and the poetic element
more prominent; and perhaps this very fact tells the secret of their
failure, and why the refined sculptor of the lion was no equal in politics
and war to the rude carver of the relief of the Marathonian warrior.

These and such like thoughts throng the mind of him who sits beside the
solitary tomb; and it may be said in favor of its remoteness and
difficulty of access, that in solitude there is at least peace and
leisure, and the scattered objects of interest are scanned with affection
and with care.

                                CHAPTER X.


The pilgrim who went of old from Athens to the shrine of Delphi, to
consult the august oracle on some great difficulty in his own life, or
some great danger to his country, saw before him the giant Parnassus as
his goal, as soon as he reached the passes of Cithæron. For two or three
days he went across Bœotia with this great landmark before him, but it was
not till he reached Lebadea that he found himself leaving level roads, and
entering defiles, where great cliffs and narrow glens gave to his mind a
tone of superstition and of awe which ever dwelt around that wild and
dangerous country. Starting from Lebadea, or, by another road, from
Chæronea, he must go about half-way round Parnassus, from its east to its
south-west aspect; and this can only be done by threading his way along
torrents and precipices, mounting steep ascents, and descending into wild
glens. This journey among the Alps of Phocis is perhaps the most beautiful
in all Greece—certainly, with the exception of the journey from Olympia
over Mount Erymanthus, the most beautiful of all the routes known to me
through the highlands.

  [Illustration: A Greek Shepherd, Olympia]

The old priests of Delphi, who were the first systematic road-builders
among the Greeks, had made a careful way from Thebes into Phocis, for the
use of the pilgrims thronging to their shrine. It appears that, by way of
saving the expense of paving it all, they laid down or macadamized in some
way a double wheel-track or fixed track, upon which chariots could run
with safety; but we hear from the oldest times of the unpleasantness of
two vehicles meeting on this road, and of the disputes that took place as
to which of them should turn aside into the deep mud.(110) We may infer
from this that the lot of pedestrians cannot have been very pleasant. Now,
all these difficulties have vanished with the road itself. There are
nothing but faintly-marked bridle-paths, often indicated only by the
solitary telegraph wires, which reach over the mountains, apparently for
no purpose whatever; and all travellers must ride or walk in single file,
if they will not force their way through covert and forest.

These wild mountains do not strike the mind with the painful feeling of
desolation which is produced by the abandoned plains. At no time can they
have supported a large population, and we may suppose that they never
contained more than scattered hamlets of shepherds, living, as they now
do, in deep brown hairy tents of hides at night, and wandering along the
glens by day, in charge of great herds of quaint-looking goats with long
beards and spiral horns. The dull tinkling of their bells, and the eagle’s
yelp, are the only sounds which give variety to the rushing of the wind
through the dark pines, and the falling of the torrent from the rocks. It
is a country in which the consciousness grows not of solitude, but of
smallness—a land of huge form and feature, meet dwelling for mysterious
god and gloomy giant, but far too huge for mortal man.

Our way lay, not directly for Delphi, but for the curious town of
Arachova, which is perched on the summit of precipices some 4000 feet or
more above the level of the sea. We rode from eight in the morning till
the evening twilight to reach this place, and all the day through scenes
which gave us each moment some new delight and some new astonishment, but
which could only be described by a painter, not by any pages of writing,
however poetical or picturesque. It is the misfortune of such descriptions
on paper, that the writer alone has the remembered image clear before him;
no reader can grasp the detail and frame for himself a faithful picture.

We felt that we were approaching Arachova when we saw the steep slopes
above and below our path planted with vineyards, and here and there a
woman in her gay dress working on the steep incline, where a stumble would
have sent her rolling many hundreds of feet into some torrent bed. At one
particular spot, where the way turned round a projecting shoulder, we were
struck by seeing at the same time, to the north, the blue sea under Eubœa,
and, at the south, the Gulf of Corinth where it nears Delphi—both mere
patches among the mountains, like the little tarns among the Irish moors,
but both great historic waters—old high roads of commerce and of culture.
From any of the summits such a view from sea to sea would not be the least
remarkable; but it was interesting and unusual to see it from a mule’s
back on one of the high roads of the country. A moment later, the houses
of Arachova itself attracted all our attention, lying as they did over
against us, and quite near, but with a great gulf between us and them,
which we were fortunately able to ride round. The town has a curious,
scattered appearance, with interrupted streets and uncertain plan, owing
not only to the extraordinary nature of the site, but to the fact that
huge boulders, I might say rocks, have been shaken loose by earthquakes
from above, and have come tumbling into the middle of the town. They crush
a house or two, and stand there in the street. Presently some one comes
and builds a house up against the side of this rock; others venture in
their turn, and so the town recovers itself, till another earthquake makes
another rent. Since 1870 these earthquakes have been very frequent. At
first they were very severe, and ruined almost all the town; but now they
are very slight, and so frequent that we were assured that they happened
at some hour _every day_. I believe this is practically true, though we,
who arrived in the evening and left early next day, were not so fortunate
as to feel the shock ourselves. But the whole region of Parnassus shows
great scars and wounds from this awful natural scourge.

Arachova is remarkable as being one of the very few towns of Greece of any
note which is not built upon a celebrated site. Everywhere the modern
Greek town is a mere survival of the old. I remember but three
exceptions—Arachova, Hydra, and Tripolitza,(111) and of these the latter
two arose from special and known circumstances. The prosperity of Arachova
is not so easily explicable. In spite of its wonderful and curious site,
the trade of the place is, for a Greek town, very considerable. The wines
which they make are of the highest repute, though to us the free use of
resin makes them all equally worthless. Besides, they work beautifully
patterned rugs of divers-colored wool—rugs which are sold at high prices
all over the Greek waters. They are used in boats, on saddles, on beds—in
fact for every possible rough use. The patterns are stitched on with wool,
and the widths sewn together in the same way, with effective rudeness.

We had an excellent opportunity of seeing all this sort of work, as we
found the town in some excitement at an approaching marriage; and we went
to see the bride, whom we found in a spacious room, with low wooden
rafters, in the company of a large party of her companions, and surrounded
on all sides by her dowry, which consisted, in eastern fashion, almost
altogether of “changes of raiment.” All round the room these rich woollen
rugs lay in perfect piles, and from the low ceiling hung in great numbers
her future husband’s white petticoats; for in that country, as everywhere
in Greece, the men wear the petticoats. The company were all dressed in
full costume—white sleeves, embroidered woollen aprons, gold and silver
coins about the neck, and a bright red loose belt worn low round the
figure. To complete the picture, each girl had in her left hand a distaff,
swathed about with rich, soft, white wool, from which her right hand and
spindle were deftly spinning thread, as she walked about the room admiring
the _trousseau_, and joking with us and with her companions. The beauty of
the Arachovite women is as remarkable as the strength and longevity of the
men, nor do I know any mountaineers equal to them, except those of some of
the valleys in the Tyrol. But there, as is well known, beauty is chiefly
confined to the men; at Arachova it seemed fairly distributed. We did not
see any one girl of singular beauty. The average was remarkably high; and,
as might be expected, they were not only very fair, but of that peculiarly
clear complexion, and vigorous frame, which seem almost always to be found
when a good climate and clear air are combined with a very high level
above the sea.

We saw, moreover, what they called a Pyrrhic dance, which consisted of a
string of people, hand-in-hand, standing in the form of a spiral, and
moving rhythmically, while the outside member of the train performed
curious and violent gymnastics. The music consisted in the squealing of a
horrible clarionette, accompanied by the beating of a large drum. The
clarionette-player had a leathern bandage about his mouth, like that which
we see in the ancient reliefs and pictures of double-flute-players.
According as each principal dancer was fatigued, he passed off from the
end of the spiral line, and stuck a silver coin between the cap and
forehead of the player. The whole motion was extremely slow throughout the
party—the centre of the coil, which is often occupied by little children,
hardly moving at all, and paying little attention to the dance.

In general, the Greek music which I heard—dance music, and occasional
shepherds’ songs—was nothing but a wild and monotonous chant, with two or
three shakes and ornaments on a high note, running down to a long drone
note at the end. They repeat these phrases, which are not more than three
bars long, over and over again, with some slight variations of
_appoggiatura_. I was told by competent people at Athens, that all this
was not properly Greek, but Turkish, and that the long slavery of the
Greeks had completely destroyed the traditions of their ancient music.
Though this seemed certainly true of the music which I heard, I very much
doubt that any ancient feature so general can have completely disappeared.
When there are national songs of a distinctly Greek character transmitted
all through the Slavish and Turkish periods, it seems odd that they should
be sung altogether to foreign music. Without more careful investigation I
should be slow to decide upon such a question. Unfortunately, our
specimens of old Greek music are very few, and probably very
insignificant, all the extant works on music by the ancients being devoted
to theoretical questions, which are very difficult and not very
profitable. To this subject I have devoted a special discussion in my
_Social Life in Greece_, with what illustration it is now possible to

The inhabitants wished us to stay with them some days, which would have
given us an opportunity of witnessing the wedding ceremony, and also of
making excursions to the snowy tops of Mount Parnassus. But we had had
enough of that sort of amusement in a climb up Mount Ætna, a short time
before, and the five hours’ toiling on the snow in a thick fog was too
fresh in our memory. Beside, we were bound to catch the weekly steamer at
Itea, as the port of Delphi is now called; and eight additional days, or
rather nights, in this country might have been too much for the wildest
enthusiast. For the wooden houses of Arachova are beyond all other
structures infested with life, and not even the balconies in the frosty
night air were safe from insect invasions.

We therefore started early in the morning, and kept along the sides of
precipices on our way to the oracle of Delphi. It is not wonderful that
the Arachovites should be famous for superstitions and legends, and that
the inquirers into the remnants of old Greek beliefs in the present day
have found their richest harvest in this mountain fastness, where there
seems no reason why any belief should ever die out. More especially the
faith in the terrible god of the dead, Charos, who represents not only the
old Charon, but Pluto also, is here very deep-seated, and many Arachovite
songs and ballads speak of his awful and relentless visits. Longevity is
so usual, and old age is so hale and green in these Alps, that the death
of the young comes home with far greater force and pathos here than in
unhealthy or immoral societies, and thus the inroads of Charos are not
borne in sullen silence, but lamented with impatient complaints.

At eleven o’clock we came, in the fierce summer sun, to the ascent into
the “rocky Pytho,” where the terraced city of old had once harbored
pilgrims from every corner of the civilized world. The ordinary histories
which we read give us but little idea of the mighty influence of this
place in the age of its faith. We hear of its being consulted by Crœsus,
or by the Romans, and we appreciate its renown for sanctity; but until of
very late years there was small account taken of its political and
commercial importance. The date of its first rise is hidden in remote
antiquity. As the story goes, a shepherd, who fed his flocks here,
observed the goats, when they approached the vaporous cavern, springing
about madly, as if under some strange influence. He came up to see the
place himself, and was immediately seized with the prophetic frenzy. So
the reputation of the place spread, first around the neighboring pastoral
tribes, and then to a wider sphere.

This very possible origin, however, does not distinctly assert what may
certainly be inferred—I mean the existence of some older and ruder
worship, before the worship of Apollo was here established. Two arguments
make this clear. In the first place, old legends consistently speak of the
arrival of Apollo here; of his conflict with the powers of earth, under
the form of the dragon Python; of his having undergone purification for
its murder, and having been formally ceded possession by its older owners.
This distinct allusion to a previous cult, and one even hostile to Apollo,
but ultimately reconciled with him, is sustained by the fact that
Pausanias describes in the Temple of Apollo itself two old stones—one
apparently an aërolith—which were treated with great respect, anointed
daily with oil, and adorned with garlands of flowers. One of these was to
the Greeks the centre of the earth (_ὀμφαλός_), and beside it were two
eagles in gold, to remind one of the legend that Zeus had started two
eagles from the ends of the earth, and that they met at this exact spot
midway. These old and shapeless stories, which occur elsewhere in Greek
temples, point to the older stage of fetish worship, before the Greeks had
risen to the art of carving a statue, or of worshipping the unseen deity
without a gross material symbol.

The researches of M. A. Lebègue, at Delos, have given us another instance.
He found that the old shrine of Apollo has been made in imitation of a
cave, and that in the recess of the shrine, made with large slabs of stone
forming a gable over a natural fissure in the rock, there was an ancient,
rude, sacred stone, on which were remaining the feet of the statue, which
had afterward been added to give dignity to the improved worship. M.
Lebègue’s work at Delos has been completed and superseded by M. Homolle.

Homer speaks in the Iliad of the great wealth of the Pythian shrine; and
the Hymn to the Pythian Apollo implies that its early transformations were
completed. But seeing that the god Apollo, though originally an Ionian
god, as at Delos, was here worshipped distinctively by the Dorians, we
shall not err if we consider the rise of the oracle to greatness
coincident with the rise and spreading of the Dorians over Greece—an event
to which we can assign no date, but which, in legend, comes next after the
Trojan War, and seems near the threshold of real history. The absolute
submission of the Spartans, when they rose to power, confirmed the
authority of the shrine, and so it gradually came to be the Metropolitan
See, so to speak, in the Greek religious world. It seems that the
influence of this oracle was, in old days, always used in the direction of
good morals and of enlightenment. When neighboring states were likely to
quarrel, the oracle was often a peacemaker, and even acted as arbitrator—a
course usual in earlier Greek history, and in which they anticipated the
best results of our nineteenth-century culture. So again, when excessive
population demanded an outlet, the oracle was consulted as to the proper
place, and the proper leader to be selected; and all the splendid
commercial development of the sixth century B. C., though not produced,
was at least sanctioned and promoted, by the Delphic Oracle. Again, in
determining the worship of other gods and the founding of new services to
great public benefactors, the oracle seems to have been the acknowledged
authority—thus taking the place of the Vatican in Catholic Europe, as the
source and origin of new dogmas, and of new worships and formularies.

  [Illustration: The Temple of Apollo, Delphi]

At the same time the treasure-house of the shrine was the largest and
safest of banks, where both individuals and states might deposit
treasure—nay, even the states seem to have had separate chambers—and from
which they could also borrow money, at fair interest, in times of war and
public distress. The rock of Delphi was held to be the navel or centre of
the earth’s surface, and certainly in a social and religious sense this
was the case for all the Greek world. Thus the priests were informed, by
perpetual visitors from all sides, of all the last news—of the general
aspect of politics—of the new developments of trade—of the latest
discoveries in outlying and barbarous lands—and were accordingly able,
without any genius or supernatural inspiration, to form their judgments
upon wider experience and better knowledge than anybody else could
command. This advice, which was really sound and well-considered, was
given to people who took it to be divine, and acted upon it with implicit
faith and zeal. Of course, the result was in general satisfactory; and so
even individuals made use of it as a sort of high confessional, to which
they came as pilgrims at some important crisis of their life; and finding
by the response that the god seemed to know all about the affairs of every
city, went away fully satisfied with the divine authority of the oracle.

This great and deserved general reputation was not affected by occasional
rumors of bribed responses or of dishonest priestesses. Such things must
happen everywhere; but, as Lord Bacon long ago observed, human nature is
more affected by affirmatives than negatives—that is to say, a few cases
of brilliantly accurate prophecy will outweigh a great number of cases of
doubtful advices or even of acknowledged corruption. So the power of the
Popes has lasted in some respects undiminished to the present day, and
they are still regarded by many as infallible, even though historians have
published many dreadful lives of some of them, and branded them as men of
worse than average morals.

The greatness and the national importance of the Delphic Oracle lasted
from the invasion of the Dorians down to the Persian War, certainly more
than three centuries; when the part which it took in the latter struggle
gave it a blow from which it seems never to have recovered. When the
invasion of Xerxes was approaching, the Delphic priests informed
accurately of the immense power of the Persians, made up their minds that
all resistance was useless, and counselled absolute submission or flight.
According to all human probabilities they were right, for nothing but a
series of blunders could possibly have checked the Persians. But surely
the god ought to have inspired them to utter patriotic responses, and thus
to save themselves in case of such a miracle as actually happened. I
cannot but suspect that they hoped to gain the favor of Xerxes, and remain
under him what they had hitherto been, a wealthy and protected
corporation.(112) Perhaps they even saw too far, and perceived that the
success of the Greeks would bring the Ionic states into prominence; but we
must not credit them with too much. The result, however, told greatly
against them. The Greeks won, and the Athenians got the lead,—the
Athenians, who very soon developed a secular and worldly spirit, and who
were by no means awed by responses which had threatened them and weakened
their hands, when their own courage and skill had brought them
deliverance. And we can imagine even Themistocles, not to speak of
Pericles and Antiphon, looking upon the oracles as little more than a
convenient way of persuading the mob to follow a policy which it was not
able to understand. The miraculous defeat of the Persians by the god, who
repeated his wonders when the Gauls attacked his shrine, should be read in
Herodotus and in Pausanias.

It is with some sadness that we turn from the splendid past of Delphi to
its miserable present. The sacred cleft in the earth, from which rose the
cold vapor that intoxicated the priestess, is blocked up and lost. As it
lay within the shrine of the temple, it may have been filled by the
falling ruins, or still more completely destroyed by an earthquake. But,
apart from these natural possibilities, we are told that the Christians,
after the oracle was closed by Theodosius, filled up and effaced the
traces of what they thought a special entrance to hell, where
communications had been held with the Evil One.

The three great fountains or springs of the town are still in existence.
The first and most striking of these bursts out from between the
Phædriades—two shining peaks, which stand up one thousand feet over
Delphi, and so close together as to leave only a dark and mysterious gorge
or fissure, not twenty feet wide, intervening. The aspect of these twin
peaks, so celebrated by the Greek poets, with their splendid stream, the
Castalian fount, bursting from between them, is indeed grand and
startling. A great square bath is cut in the rock, just at the mouth of
the gorge; but the earthquake of 1870, which made such havoc of Arachova,
has been busy here also, and has tumbled a huge block into this bath, thus
covering the old work, as well as several votive niches cut into the rocky
wall. This was the place where arriving pilgrims purified themselves with
hallowed water.

In the great old days the oracle gave responses on the seventh of each
month, and even then only when the sacrifices were favorable. If the
victims were not perfectly without blemish, they could not be offered; if
they did not tremble all over when brought to the altar, the day was
thought unpropitious. The inquirers entered the great temple in festal
dress, with olive garlands and _stemmata_, or fillets of wool, led by the
_ὅσιοι_, or sacred guardians of the temple, who were five of the noblest
citizens of Delphi. The priestesses, on the contrary—there were three at
the same time, who officiated in turn—though Delphians also, were not
frequently of noble family. When the priestess was placed on the sacred
tripod by the chief interpreter, or _προφήτης_, over the exhalations, she
was seized with frenzy—often so violent that the _ὅσιοι_ were known to
have fled in terror, and she herself to have become insensible, and to
have died. Her ravings in this state were carefully noted down, and then
reduced to sense, and of old always to verses, by the attendant priests,
who of course interpreted disconnected words with a special reference to
the politics or other circumstances of the inquirers.

This was done in early days with perfect good faith. During the decline of
religion there were of course many cases of corruption and of partiality,
and, indeed, the whole style and dignity of the oracle gradually decayed
with the decay of Greece itself. Presently, when crowds came, and states
were extremely jealous of the right of precedence in inquiring of the god,
it was found expedient to give responses every day, and this was done to
private individuals, and even for trivial reasons. So also the priests no
longer took the trouble to shape the responses into verse; and when the
Phocians in the sacred war (355–46 B. C.) seized the treasures, and
applied to military purposes some ten thousand talents, the shrine
suffered a blow from which it never recovered. Still, the quantity of
splendid votive offerings which were not convertible into ready money made
it the most interesting place in Greece, next to Athens and Olympia, for
lovers of the arts: and the statues, tripods, and other curiosities
described there by Pausanias, give a wonderful picture of the mighty
oracle even in its decay.(113) The greatest sculptors, painters, and
architects had lavished their labor upon the buildings. Though Nero had
carried off five hundred bronze statues, the traveller estimated the
remaining works of art at three thousand, and yet these seem to have been
almost all statues, and not to have included tripods, pictures, and other
gifts. The Emperor Constantine brought away (330 A. D.) a great number to
adorn his capital—more especially the bronze tripod, formed of three
intertwined serpents, with their heads supporting a golden vessel, which
Pausanias, the Spartan King, had dedicated as the leader of Greece to
commemorate the great victory over Xerxes. This tripod (which was found
standing in its place at Constantinople by our soldiers in 1852) contains
the list of states according to the account of Herodotus, who describes
its dedication, and who saw it at Delphi.

When the Emperor Julian, the last great champion of paganism, desired to
consult the oracle on his way to Persia, in 362 A. D., it replied: “Tell
the king the fair-wrought dwelling has sunk into the dust: Phœbus has no
longer a shelter or a prophetic laurel, neither has he a speaking
fountain; the fair water is dried up.” Thus did the shrine confess, even
to the ardent and hopeful Julian, that its power had passed away, and, as
it were by a supreme effort, declared to him the great truth which he
refused to see—that paganism was gone for ever, and a new faith had arisen
for the nations of the Roman Empire.

About the year 390, Theodosius took the god at his word, and closed the
oracle finally. The temple—with its cella of 100 feet—with its Doric and
Ionic pillars—with its splendid sculptures upon the pediments—sank into
decay and ruin. The walls and porticos tumbled down the precipitous
cliffs; the prophetic chasm was filled up by the Christians with fear and
horror; and, as if to foil any attempt to recover from ruins the site and
plan, the modern Greeks built their miserable hamlet of Castri upon the
spot; so that it is only among the walls and foundations laid bare by
earthquakes that we can now seek for marble capitals and votive

One or two features are still unchanged. The three fine springs, to which
Delphi doubtless owed its first selection for human habitation, are still
there—Castalia, of which we have spoken; Cassotis, which was led
artificially into the very shrine of the god; and Delphussa, which was, I
suppose, the water used for secular purposes by the inhabitants. The
stadium, too, a tiny racecourse high above the town, in the only place
where they could find a level 150 yards, is still visible; and we see at
once what the importance of games must have been at a sacred Greek town,
when such a thing as a stadium should be attempted here.(114) The earliest
competitions had been in music—that is, in playing the lyre, in
recitation, and probably in the composition of original poems; but
presently the physical contests of Olympia began to outdo the splendor of
Delphi. Moreover, the Spartans would not compete in minstrelsy, which they
liked and criticised, but left to professional artists. Accordingly, the
priests of Delphi were too practical a corporation not to widen the
programme of their games, and Pindar has celebrated the Pythian victors as
hardly second to those at the grand festival of Elis.

There is yet one more element in the varied greatness of Delphi. It was
here that the religious federation of Greece—the Amphictyony of which we
hear so often—held its meetings alternately with the meetings at the
springs of Thermopylæ. When I stood high up on the stadium at Delphi, the
great scene described by the orator Æschines came fresh upon me, when he
looked upon the sacred plain of Krissa, and called all the worshippers of
the god to clear it of the sacrilegious Amphissians, who had covered it
with cattle and growing crops. The plain, he says, is easily surveyed from
the place of meeting—a statement which shows that the latter cannot have
been in the town of Delphi: for a great shoulder of the mountain
effectually hides the whole plain from every part of the town.

The Pylæa, or place of assembly, was, however, outside, and precisely at
the other side of this huge shoulder, so that what Æschines says is true;
but it is not true, as any ordinary student imagines, that he was standing
in Delphi itself. He was, in fact, completely out of sight of the town,
though not a mile from it. There is no more common error than this among
our mere book scholars—and I daresay there are not many who realize the
existence of this suburban Pylæa, and its situation close to, but
invisible from, Delphi. It certainly never came home to me till I began to
look for the spot from which Æschines might have delivered his famous
extempore address.

When we rode round to the real place we found his words amply verified.
Far below us stretched the plain from Amphissa to Kirrha, at right angles
with the gorge above which Delphi is situated. The river-courses of the
Delphic springs form, in fact, a regular zigzag. When they tumble from
their great elevation on the rocks into the valley, they join the
Pleistus, running at right angles toward the west; when this torrent has
reached the plain, it turns again due south, and flows into the sea at the
Gulf of Kirrha. Thus, looking from Pylæa, you see the upper part of the
plain, and the gorge to the north-west of it, where Amphissa occupies its
place in a position similar to the mouth of the gorge of Delphi. The
southern rocks of the gorge over against Delphi shut out the sea and the
actual bay; but a large rich tract, covered with olive-woods, and medlars,
and oleanders, stretches out beneath the eye—verily a plain worth fighting
for, and a possession still more precious, when it commanded the approach
of pilgrims from the sea; for the harbor duties and tolls of Kirrha were
once a large revenue, and their loss threatened the oracle with poverty.
This levying of tolls on the pilgrims to Delphi became quite a national
question in the days of Solon; it resulted in a great war, led by the
Amphictyonic Council. Kirrha was ruined, and its land dedicated to the
god, in order to protect the approach from future difficulties. So this
great tract was, I suppose, devoted to pasture, and the priests probably
levied a rent from the people who choose to graze their cattle on the
sacred plain. The Amphissians, who lived, not at the seaside, but at the
mountain side of the plain, were never accused of robbing or taxing the
pilgrims; but having acquired for many generations the right of pasture,
they advanced to the idea of tilling their pastures, and were undisturbed
in this privilege till the mischievous orator, Æschines, for his own
purposes, fired the Delphians with rage, kindled a war, and so brought
Philip into Greece. These are the historical circumstances which should be
called to mind by the traveller, who rides down the steep descent from
Delphi to the plain, and then turns through the olive-woods to the high
road to Itea, as the port of Delphi is now called.

A few hours brought us to the neighborhood of the sea. The most curious
feature of this valley, as we saw it, was a long string of camels tied
together, and led by a small and shabby donkey. Our mules and horses
turned with astonishment to examine these animals, which have survived
here only, though introduced by the Turks into many parts of Greece.

The port of Itea is one of the stations at which the Greek coasting
steamers now call, and, accordingly, the place is growing in importance.
If a day’s delay were allowed, to let tourists ride up to the old seat of
the oracle, and if the service were better regulated so as to compete in
convenience with the train journey from Patras to Athens, I suppose no
traveller going to Greece would choose any other route. For he would see
all the beautiful coasts of Acarnania and Ætolia on the one side, and of
Achaia on the other; he could then take Delphi on his way, and would land
again at Corinth. Here again, a day, or part of a day, should be allowed
to see the splendid Acro-Corinthus, of which more in another chapter. The
traveller might thus reach Athens with an important part of Greece already
visited, and have more leisure to turn his attention to the monuments and
curiosities of that city and of Attica. It is worth while to suggest these
things, because most men who go to Greece find, as I did, that, with some
better previous information, they could have economized both time and
money. I can also advise that the coasting steamer should be abandoned at
Itea, from which the traveller can easily get horses to Delphi and
Arachova, and from thence to Chæronea, Lebadea, and through Thebes to
Athens. So he would arrive there by a land tour, which would make him
acquainted with all Bœotia. He might next go by train from Athens to
Corinth (stopping on the way at Megara), and then into the Peloponnese;
going first to Mycenæ and Argos, and then taking another steamer round to
Sparta, and riding up through Laconia, Arcadia, and Elis, so as to come
out at Patras, or by boat to Zante, where the steamer homeward would pick
him up. Of course, special excursions through Attica, and to the islands,
are not included in this sketch, as they can easily be made from Athens.

But surely, no voyage in Greece can be called complete which does not
include a visit to the famous shrine of Delphi, where the wildness and
ruggedness of nature naturally suggest the powers of earth and air, that
sway our lives unseen—where the quaking soil and the rent rocks speak a
strength above the strength of mortal man—and where a great faith, based
upon his deepest hopes and fears, gained a moral empire over all the
nation, and exercised it for centuries, to the purifying and the ennobling
of the Hellenic race. The oracle is long silent, the priestess forgotten,
the temple not only ruined, but destroyed; and yet the grand responses of
that noble shrine are not forgotten, nor are they dead. For they have
contributed their part and added their element to the general advancement
of the world, and to the emancipation of man from immorality and
superstition into the true liberty of a good and enlightened conscience.

                               CHAPTER XI.


The thousands of visitors, whose ships thronged the bay of Katakolo every
four years in the great old times, cannot have been fairly impressed with
the beauty of the country at first sight. Most other approaches to the
coast of Greece are far more striking. For although, on a clear day, the
mountains of Arcadia are plainly visible, and form a fine background to
the view, from the great bar of Erymanthus on the north, round to the top
of Lykæon far south-west, the foreground has not, and never had, either
the historic interest or the beauty of the many bays and harbors in other
parts of Greece. Yet I am far from asserting that it is actually wanting
even in this respect. As we saw the bay in a quiet summer sunset, with
placid water reflecting a sleeping cloud and a few idle sails in its amber
glow, with a wide circle of low hills and tufted shore bathed in a golden
haze, which spread its curtain of light athwart all the distance, so that
the great snowy comb of Erymanthus alone seemed suspended by some mystery
in the higher blue—the view was not indeed very Greek, but still it was
beautiful, and no unsuitable dress wherein the land might clothe itself to
welcome the traveller, and foretell him its sunny silence and its golden

The carriage-way along the coast passes by sand-hills, and sandy fields of
vines, which were being tilled when we saw them by kindly but squalid
peasants, some of whom lived in wretched huts of skins, enclosed with a
rough fence. But these were probably only temporary dwellings, for the
thrift and diligence of the southern Greek seems hardly compatible with
real penury. Mendicancy, except in the case of little children who do it
for the nonce, seems unknown in the Morea.

A dusty ride of two hours, relieved now and then for a moment by the
intense perfume from the orange blossoms of gardens fenced with mighty
aloes, brought us to the noisy and stirring town of Pyrgos.(115) We found
this town, one of the most thriving in Greece, quite as noisy as Naples in
proportion to its size, full of dogs barking, donkeys braying, and various
shopkeepers screaming out their wares—especially frequent where young
shrill-voiced boys were so employed. Nowhere does the ultra-democratic
temper of new Greek social life show itself more manifestly than in these
disturbed streets. Not only does every member of human society, however
young or ill-disposed, let his voice be heard without reserve, but it
seems to be considered an infraction upon liberty to silence yelping dogs,
braying donkeys, or any other animal which chooses to disturb its

The whole town, like most others in Greece, even in the Arcadian
highlands, is full of half-built and just finished houses, showing a rapid
increase of prosperity, or perhaps a return of the population from country
life into the towns which have always been so congenial to the race. But
if the latter be the fact, there yet seems no slackening in the
agriculture of the country, which in the Morea is strikingly diligent and
laborious, reaching up steep hillsides, and creeping along precipices,
winning from ungrateful nature every inch of niggard soil.(116) This is
indeed the contrast of northern and southern Greece. In Bœotia the rich
plains of Thebes and Orchomenos are lying fallow, while all the rugged
mountains of Arcadia are yielding wine and oil. The Greeks will tell you
that it is the result of the security established by their Government in
those parts of Greece which are not accessible from the Turkish frontier.
They assert that if their present frontier were not at Thermopylæ but at
Tempe, or even farther north, the rich plains of northern Greece would not
lie idle through fear of the bandits, which every disturbance excites
about the boundaries of ill-guarded kingdoms.

The carriage road from Pyrgos up to Olympia was just finished, and it is
now possible to drive all the way from the sea, but we preferred the old
method of travelling on horseback to the terrors of a newly-constructed
Greek thoroughfare. There is, moreover, in wandering on unpaved
thoroughfares, along meadows, through groves and thickets, and across
mountains, a charm which no dusty carriage road can ever afford. We soon
came upon the banks of the Alpheus, which we followed as our main index,
though at times we were high above it, and at times in the meadows at the
water-side; at times again mounting some wooded ridge which had barred the
way of the stream, and forced it to take a wide circuit from our course,
or again crossing the deep cuttings made by rivulets which come down from
northern Elis to swell the river from mile to mile.

Our path must have been almost the same as was followed by the crowds
which came from the west to visit the Olympic games in classical days:
they must have ascended along the windings of the river, and as they came
upon each new amphitheatre of hills, and each new tributary stream, they
may have felt the impatience which we felt that this was not the sacred
_Altis_, and that this was not the famous confluence of the Kladeus. But
the season in which they travelled—the beginning of July—can never have
shown them the valley in its true beauty. Instead of a glaring dry bed of
gravel, and meadows parched with heat, we found the Alpheus a broad and
rapid river, which we crossed on horseback with difficulty; we found the
meadows green with sprouting corn and bright with flowers, and all along
the slopes the trees were bursting into bud and blossom, and filling the
air with the rich scent of spring. Huge shrubs of arbutus and of mastich
closed around the paths, while over them the Judas tree and the wild pear
covered themselves with purple and with white, and on every bank great
scarlet anemones opened their wistful eyes in the morning sun.

  [Illustration: The Banks of the Kladeus]

When we came to the real Olympia the prospect was truly disenchanting.
However interesting excavations may be, they are always exceedingly ugly.
Instead of grass and flowers, and pure water, we found the classic spot
defaced with great mounds of earth, and trodden bare of grass. We found
the Kladeus flowing a turbid drain into the larger river. We found
hundreds of workmen, and wheel-barrows, and planks, and trenches, instead
of solitude and the song of birds. Thus it was that we found the famous
temple of Zeus.

This temple was in many respects one of the most celebrated in Greece,
especially on account of the great image of Zeus, which Phidias himself
wrought for it in gold and ivory, and of which Pausanias has left us a
very wonderful description (V. II, _sqq._). It was carried away to
Constantinople, and of course its precious material precluded all chance
of its surviving through centuries of ignorance and bigotry. The temple
itself, to judge from its appearance, was somewhat older than the days of
Phidias, for it is of that thickset and massive type which we only find in
the earlier Doric temples, and which rather reminds us of Pæstum than of
Athenian remains. It was built by a local architect, Libon, and of a very
coarse limestone from the neighborhood, which was covered with stucco, and
painted chiefly white, to judge from the fragments which remain. But it
seems as if the Eleans had done all they could to add splendor to the
building, whenever their funds permitted. The tiles of the roof were not
of burnt clay, but of Pentelican marble, the well-known and beautiful
invention of the Naxian Byzes. Moreover, Phidias and a number of his
fellow-workers or subordinates at Athens, as well as other artists, had
been invited to Olympia, to adorn the temple, and to them we owe the
pediments, probably also the metopes, and many of the statues, with which
all the sacred enclosure around the edifice was literally thronged.
Subsequent generations added to this splendor: a gilded figure of Victory,
with a gold shield, was set upon the apex of the gable; gilded pitchers at
the extremities; gilded shields were fastened all along the architraves by
Mummius, from the spoils of Corinth, and the great statue of Zeus within
still remained, the wonder and the awe of the ancient world.

But with the fall of paganism and the formal extinction of the Olympic
games (394 A. D.) the glories of the temple fell into decay. The great
statue in the shrine was carried away to Byzantium; many of the votive
bronzes and marbles which stood about the sacred grove were transported to
Italy; and at last a terrible earthquake, apparently in the fifth century,
levelled the whole temple almost with the ground. The action of this
extraordinary earthquake is still plainly to be traced in the now
uncovered ruins. It upheaved the temple from the centre, throwing the
pillars of all the four sides outward, where most of them lie with their
drums separated, but still complete in all parts, and only requiring
mechanical power to set them up again. Some preliminary shakes had caused
pieces of the pediment sculptures to fall out of their place, for they
were found at the foot of the temple steps; but the main shock threw the
remainder to a great distance, and I saw the work of Alkamenes being
unearthed more than twenty-five yards from its proper site.

In spite of this convulsion, the floor of the temple, with its marble
work, and its still more beautiful mosaic, is still there, and it seemed
doubtful to the Germans whether there is even a crack now to be found in
it. About the ruins there gathered some little population, for many
fragments were found built into walls of poor and late construction; but
this work of destruction was fortunately arrested by a sudden overflow of
the Alpheus, caused by the bursting of one of the mountain lakes about
Pheneus. The river then covered all the little plain of Olympia with a
deep layer of fine sand and of mud. A thicket of arbutus and mastich
sprang from this fertile soil, and so covered all traces of antiquity,
that when Chandler visited the place 100 years ago, nothing but a part of
the cella wall was over ground, and this was since removed by neighboring
builders. But the site being certain, it only required the enterprise of
modern research to lay bare the old level so fortunately hidden by the
interposition of nature. The traveller who now visits Olympia can see the
whole plan and contour of the great temple, with all its prostrate pillars
lying around it. He can stand on the very spot where once was placed the
unrivalled image—the masterpiece of Phidias’s art. He can see the old
mosaic in colored pebbles, with its exquisite design, which later
taste—probably Roman—thought well to cover with a marble pavement. But far
above all, he can find in adjoining sheds(117) not only the remains of the
famous _Niké_ of Pæonius, which stood on a pedestal close to the east
front, but the greater part of the splendid pediment sculptures, which
will henceforth rank among the most important relics of Greek art. These
noble compositions have been restored with tolerable completeness, and now
stand next to the pediments of the Parthenon in conception and in general

  [Illustration: Statue of Niké, by Paeonius]

For even if the restoration were never accomplished, there is enough in
the fragments of the figures already recovered to show the genius of both
sculptors, but particularly of Alkamenes, the author of the western
pediment. This perfectly agrees with the note of Pausanias, who adds, in
mentioning this very work, that Alkamenes was considered in his day an
artist second only to Phidias.

It was objected to me by learned men on the spot, that the eastern
pediment, being the proper front of the temple, must have been the more
important, and that Pæonius, as we know from an inscription, boasts that
he obtained the executing of it by competition, thus proving that he was,
at least in this case, preferred to his rivals. But the decided
superiority of Alkamenes’s design leads me to suppose that the boast of
Pæonius only applies to the eastern pediment, and that probably the
western had been already assigned to Alkamenes. Nor do I agree with the
view that the eastern pediment must have been artistically the most
important. In several Greek temples—_e. g._, the Parthenon, the temple at
Bassæ, and in this—the great majority of visitors must have approached it
from the rear, which should accordingly have been quite the prominent side
for artistic decoration. Let me add that far more action was permitted in
the groups on this side, while over the entrance the figures were staid
and in repose, as if to harmonize with the awe and silence of the entering
worshippers. Be these things as they may, the work of Alkamenes is
certainly superior to that which remains to us of Pæonius in the eastern
pediment, and in his figure of winged Victory, which was, I think, greatly
overpraised by the critics who saw it soon after its discovery.(118)

The composition of the groups in the pediments and friezes has been
described by Pausanias (V. 10, §§ 6–10) in a passage of great interest,
which has given rise to much controversy. The general impression of Drs.
Hirschfeld and Weil, when I was at Olympia, was against the accuracy of
Pausanias, whom they considered to have blindly set down whatever the
local cicerones told him. That of Dr. Purgold was in his favor. The
traveller says, however, that the eastern pediment, in which, as already
remarked, it was not usual to represent violent action, depicted the
preparation of the chariot race between Pelops and Œnomaus. In the centre
was Zeus, whose torso has been recovered, and at the narrow ends of the
field were figures of the Alpheus and Kladeus, to the right and left of
the spectator respectively. These figures are partly recovered—graceful
young men lying forward on the ground, and raising their heads to witness
the contest.

It is worth pausing for a moment upon this disposition, which was so usual
as to be almost conventional in the pediments sculptured during the best
epochs of Greek art. In the centre, where the field was very high, and
admitted a colossal figure, it was usual to place the god whose providence
guided the events around him, and this god was represented calm and
without excitement. Then came the mythical event grouped on both sides;
but at the ends, where the field narrowed to an angle, it was usual to
represent the calmness or impassiveness of external nature. This was done
in Greek sculpture not by trees and hills, but by the gods who symbolized
them. So thoroughly was nature personified in Greek art, that its
picturesqueness was altogether postponed to its living conscious sympathy
with man, and thus to a Greek the proper representation of the rivers of
Olympia was no landscape, but the graceful forms of the river
gods—intelligent and human, yet calm spectators, as nature is wont to be.
The very same idea is carried out more characteristically in the pediment
of Alkamenes, where, in spite of the violent conflict of Centaurs and
Lapithæ, the central and extreme figures, as I shall presently notice, are
perfectly unmoved witnesses of lawless violence.

The arrangement of the rest of the eastern pediment was evidently quite
symmetrical. On Zeus’s right hand was Œnomaus, his wife Sterope, his
charioteer Myrtilus sitting before the four horses, and two grooms; on his
left, Pelops, Hippodamia, and a like number of horses and attendants. A
good many pieces of these figures have been found, sufficient to tempt
several art-critics to make conjectural restorations of the pediment, one
of which is now set up, I believe, in the museum at Berlin.

The western pediment, of which more, and more striking, fragments are
recovered, is more difficult to restore, because Pausanias is
unfortunately not nearly so precise in describing it, and because,
moreover, he is suspected of a serious blunder about the central figure.
Contrary to the precedent just mentioned, he says that this central figure
is Pirithous, whose wife is just being carried off by the Centaurs, and
ought therefore to be in violent excitement. But there had been found,
just before we arrived at Olympia, a colossal head, of the noblest
conception, which seems certainly to belong to the pediment sculptures,
and which must be the head of this central figure. It is perfectly calm
and divine in expression, and almost forces upon the spectator the
conclusion to which all the best judges lean, that it must be an Apollo,
and that this was the central figure, while Pirithous was more actively
engaged. There was on each side of this figure a Centaur carrying off, the
one a maiden (I suppose the bride) and the other a boy, and Kæneus and
Theseus at each side, coming to the rescue.

But on the other figures Pausanias is silent; and there were certainly two
beautiful mountain or river nymphs at the extremities—lying figures, with
a peculiar head-dress of a thick bandage wrapped all round the hair—which
are among the most perfect of the figures recovered. It seems also certain
that Pirithous must have been somewhere on the pediment; and this would
suggest another figure to correspond to him at the other side, for these
groups were always symmetrical. In this case Pausanias has omitted four
figures at least in his description, and seems to have besides mistaken
the largest and most important of all. The Germans cite in proof of these
strictures his passing remark on the Metopes, representing the labors of
Herakles, on one of which was (he says) Herakles about to relieve Atlas,
whereas this slab, which has been found, really represents Herakles
carrying the globe, and one of the Hesperidæ assisting him, while Atlas is
bringing to him the apple.

This criticism will seem to most ordinary people too minute, and I am
rather disposed to think well of Pausanias as an intelligent traveller,
though he, of course, made some mistakes.

But since the above words were written sufficient time has elapsed not
only to bring the excavations to an end, but to study more carefully the
recovered fragments, and offer a calmer judgment as to their merits. On
the whole, the strong feeling of the best critics has been one of
disappointment. The design of both pediments still seems to me masterly,
especially that of Alkamenes, but there can be no doubt that the execution
is far below that of the Parthenon marbles. There are some positive
faults—inability to reproduce drapery (while the nude parts are very true
to nature), and great want of care in other details. It must be urged in
answer that the pediments were meant to be seen about forty feet from the
ground, and that the painting of the figures must have brought out the
features of the drapery neglected in the carving. However true this may
be, we can answer at once that the workmen of Phidias did not produce this
kind of work. The first quality of the Attic school was that
conscientiousness in detail which meets us in every great age of art.

So serious have these difficulties appeared to some, that they have
actually suspected Pausanias of being misled, and having falsely
attributed the work of obscure local artists to Alkamenes, and perhaps
also falsely to Pæonius. They say that nothing is more common with vulgar
cicerones than to attribute to a great master any old work of uncertain
origin. Others, who will not proceed to such extremes, hold that only the
general design was made by the two sculptors, and its execution handed
over to local artists. This may probably have been the case. But I am
disposed to infer from the overpraised _Niké_, which certainly is the work
of Pæonius, that he was not an artist of the quality of the great Attic
school.(119) The whole external work of the temple seems to represent a
stage of art rather earlier and ruder than the school of Phidias. This is
eminently the case with the Metopes, which can hardly be later in date
than 460 B. C., or pre-Phidian in time.

Very different is the impression produced by the greatest and most
priceless gem of all the treasures at Olympia—the Hermes of Praxiteles,
which was actually found on the very spot where it was seen and described
by Pausanias, fallen among the ruins of the temple which originally
protected it. This exquisite figure, much smaller than life-size,
represents the god Hermes holding the infant Dionysus on one arm, and
showing the child some object now lost. The right arm and the legs from
below the knees are gone; the right foot with its sandal, an exquisite
piece of work with traces of gold and red, has been recovered. It is
remarkable that the back of the statue is unfinished, and the child
treated rather as a doll than a human infant; the main figure, however,
now widely known through copies, is the most perfect remnant of Greek art.
The temple in which the statue was found, the venerable Heræon, is the
most interesting of all the Olympian buildings in its plan, and has solved
for us many problems in Greek architecture. The acute researches of Dr.
Dörpfeld have shown that the walls were not of stone, but of sun-dried
bricks, and that the surrounding pillars had gradually replaced older
wooden pillars, one of which was still there when Pausanias saw the
building. The successive stone pillars and their capitals were of the same
order, Doric, but varied in measurements and profile according to the
taste of the day. So then this ancient building showed, like our English
cathedrals, the work of successive centuries in its restoration. The roof
and architrave were evidently of wood, for all trace of these members has
vanished; but we learn from remains of the old “treasuries” described by
Pausanias that in very old times wood and mud bricks were faced with
colored terra cotta, moulded to the required form, and that this ornament
was still used after stone had replaced bricks and mud as the material of
the walls and architrave. These curious details, and many others, have
been the main result of the architectural inquiries made by the Germans
into the archaic buildings at Olympia; but it would be tedious to the
reader of this book were I to turn aside to discuss technical details. He
will find them all put with great clearness, and indeed with elegance, in
Bötticher’s _Olympia_. The complete results of the excavations are now to
be found in the official work issued by the German Government on the

Unfortunately, there only remains one very realistic head of a boxer from
a large class of monuments at Olympia, that of the portrait statues of
victors at the games, of which one was even attributed to Phidias, and
several to Alkamenes, in Pausanias’s time. All these were votive statues,
set up by victors at the games, or victors in war, and in the early times
were not portraits strictly speaking, but ideal figures. Later on they
became more realistic, and were made in the likeness of the offerer, a
privilege said at one time only to have been accorded to those who had won
thrice at Olympia.

The commemoration of gymnastic victories by these statues seems to have
completely supplanted the older fashion of triumphal odes, which in
Pindar’s day were so prized, and so dearly bought from lyric poets. When
these odes first came to be composed, sculpture was still struggling with
the difficulties of human expression, and there was no one who would not
feel the great artistic superiority of Pindar’s verse to the cold
stiffness of the archaic reliefs of the same epoch, which attempt
portraiture. The portrait of Aristion by Aristokles, the similar relief by
Anxenor the Naxian, and the relief of the discus thrower, are sufficient
examples of what sculptured portraits were in comparison with the rich
music of Simonides and Pindar. But while lyric poetry passed into the
higher service of tragedy, or degenerated into the extravagance of the
later dithyramb, sculpture grew into such exquisite perfection, and was of
its very nature so enduring and manifest, that the Olympic victor choose
it as the surest avenue to immortal fame. And so it was up to Pausanias’s
day, when every traveller could study the records of the games at Olympia,
or even admire the most perfect of the statues in the palaces of Roman
Emperors, whither they were transferred.

But the day came when the poets were avenged upon the sculptors. Olympia
sank under general decay and sudden catastrophe. Earthquakes and
barbarians ravaged its treasury, and while Pindar was being preserved in
manuscript, until his resurrection in the days of printing, the invasion
of the Kladeus saved the scanty remains in the _Altis_ from destruction
only by covering them with oblivion. Now, in the day of its resurrection,
pedestal after pedestal with its votive inscription has been unearthed,
but, except the _Niké_ of Pæonius, no actual votive statue had been
recovered when I saw the excavations, after two years of labor.

The river Alpheus, which has done such excellent work in its inundations,
does not confine itself to concealing antiquities, but sometimes discovers
them. Its rapid course eats away the alluvial bank which the waters have
deposited ages ago, and thus encroaches upon old tombs, from which various
relics are washed down in its turbid stream. The famous helmet dedicated
by Hiero, son of Deinomenes, was discovered in the river in this way; and
there is also in the Ministry of Public Instruction a large circular band
of bronze, _riveted_ together where the ends meet, with very archaic
zigzag and linear patterns, which was found in the same way some twenty
years ago, and which seems to me of great interest, as exhibiting a kind
of workmanship akin to the decorations in the Schliemann treasure of
Mycenæ. There is also a rude red earthen pot in the Turkish house on the
Acropolis at Athens, which is decorated with the same kind of lines. It is
very important to point out these resemblances to travellers, for there is
such endless detail in Greek antiquities, and so little has yet been
classified, that every observation may be of use to future students, even
though it may merely serve as a hint for closer research.

The Stadium and Hippodrome, which lie farther away from the river, and
right under the conical hill called Kronion, have not yet, I believe, been
completely investigated; but they may no doubt offer us some new and
interesting evidences on the management of the famous Olympian games.

These games were not at all what most people imagine them to be. I will,
therefore, delay the reader with some details concerning this most
interesting side of old Greek life.

The establishment of games at Olympia was assigned by the poets to
mythical ages, and not only is there a book of the Iliad devoted to
funeral games, but in Pindar’s eleventh Olympic Ode this particular
establishment is made coeval with the labors of Herakles. Whether such
evidence is indeed conclusive may fairly be doubted. The twenty-third book
of the Iliad, which shows traces of being a later portion of the poem,
describes contests widely differing from those at Olympia, and the
mythical founders enumerated by Pausanias (v. 7) are so various and
inconsistent that we can see how obscure the question appeared to Greek
archæologists, even did we not find at the end of the enumeration the
following significant hint:—“But after Oxylus—for Oxylus, too, established
the contest—after his reign it fell out of use till the Olympiad of
Iphitus,” that is to say, till the first Ol., which is dated 776 B. C.,
Oxylus being the companion of the Herakleidæ, who obtained Elis for his
portion. Pausanias adds that when Iphitus renewed the contest, men had
forgotten the old arrangements, and only _gradually came to remember
them_, and whenever they recollected any special competition they added it
to the games. This is the excellent man’s theory to account for the
gradual addition of long races, of wrestling, discus throwing, boxing, and
chariot racing, to the original sprint race of about 200 yards, which was
at first the only known competition.

  [Illustration: Kronion Hill, Olympia]

The facts seem to me rather to point to the late growth of games in
Greece, which may possibly have begun as a local feast at Olympia in the
eighth century, but which only rose to importance during the reign of the
despots throughout Greece, when the aristocrats were prevented from
murdering one another, and compelled to adopt more peaceful pursuits.(120)
It was in the end of the seventh and opening of the sixth centuries that
the Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian games show by their successive
establishments the rapid spread of the fashion, and a vast number of local
contests diffused through every district in Greece the taste and the
training for such competitions.(121) These games lasted all through
classical Greek history—the Olympian even down to later times, for they
were not abolished till nearly 1200 years (Ol. 294) had elapsed since
their alleged foundation. But the day of their real greatness was gone
long before. Cicero indignantly repudiates the report that he had gone to
see such games, just as a pious earl, within our memory, repudiated the
report that he had attended the prize-fight between Sayers and Heenan. The
good generals of earlier centuries, such as Alexander the Great and
Philopœmen, set their faces against athletics as bad training for
soldiers. Nay, even earlier, the Spartans, though they could contend with
success in the _pentathlon_, when they choose, did not countenance the
fiercer competitions, as engendering bad feeling between rivals, and, what
was worse, compelling a man to declare himself vanquished, and feel
disgraced. The Athenians also, as soon as the sophists reformed education,
began to rate intellectual wrestling as far superior to any bodily
exercise. Thus the supremacy of Athens and Sparta over the other Greek
cities in the fifth century marked, in my opinion, the real turning-point
in the Greek estimate of athletics, and the fact that the great odes of
Pindar sing the glories of no Spartan, and only twice, very briefly, those
of Athenians, seems to indicate that even then men began to think of more
serious rivalries and more exciting spectacles than the festive meetings
at Olympia. In the very next generation the poets had drifted away from
them, and Euripides despises rather than admires them. The historians take
little notice of them.

Two circumstances only tended strongly to keep them up. In the first
place, musical competitions (which had always been a part of the Pythian)
and poetical rivalries were added to the sports, which were also made the
occasion of mercantile business, of social meetings, and not seldom of
political agitation. The wise responses of the Delphic oracle were not a
little indebted to the information gathered from all parts of the Hellenic
world at the games, some important celebration of which, whether at Nemea,
the Isthmus, or the greater meetings, occurred every year.

Secondly, if the art of poetry soon devoted itself to the higher objects
of tragedy, and created for itself the conflict which it celebrated, the
art of sculpture became so closely connected with athletics as to give
them an æsthetic importance of the highest kind all through Greek history.
The ancient habit of setting up ideal statues of victors, which were made
special likenesses if the subject was specially distinguished, supplied
the Greeks with a series of historical monuments and a series of physical
types not elsewhere to be matched, and thus perhaps the most interesting
part of Pausanias’s invaluable guide-book to Greece is his collection of
notes (lib. vi., 1–20) on various statues set up in this way at Olympia,
of which he mentions about two hundred, though he only professes to make a
selection, and though several of the finest had already been carried off
by Roman emperors.

These things kept alive the athletic meetings in Greece, and even
preserved for them some celebrity. The sacred truce proclaimed during the
national games was of inestimable convenience in times of long and bitter
hostilities, and doubtless enabled friends to meet who had else been
separated for life.(122) But the Panathenaic festivals were better
exponents of fourth century taste in Greece. There music and the drama
predominated. Professional displays became equally admired as a pastime
and despised as a profession; and I have no doubt that the athlete who
spent his life going about from one contest to another in search of
gymnastic triumphs was held in like contempt by Brasidas and by Cleon, by
Xenophon and by Agesilaus.

In the days of Solon things had been very different. He appointed a reward
of 500 drachmas, then a very large sum, for victors at Olympia, 100 for
those at the Isthmus, and for the others in proportion. Pindar sings as
if, to the aristocrats of Ægina, or the tyrants of Sicily, no higher
earthly prizes were attainable. But we must not transfer these
evidences—the habit or the echo of the sixth century B. C.—to the days of
political and educated Greece, when public opinion altered very
considerably on the advantage and value of physical competition. This
being once understood, I will proceed to a short analysis of the sports,
and will attempt to criticise the methods adopted by the old Greeks to
obtain the highest physical condition, the nature of the competitions they
established, and the results which they appear to have attained.

The Greeks of Europe seem always to have been aware that physical exercise
was of the greatest importance for health, and consequently for mental
vigor, and the earliest notices we have of education include careful
bodily training. Apart from the games of children, which were much the
same as ours, there was not only _orchestic_ or rhythmical dancing in
graceful figures, in which girls took part, and which corresponded to what
are now vulgarly called _callisthenics_, but also gymnastics, in which
boys were trained to those exercises which they afterward practised as
men. In addition to the _palæstras_, which were kept for the benefit of
boys as a matter of private speculation in Athens, and probably in other
towns, regular _gymnasia_ were established by the civic authorities, and
put under strict supervision as state institutions to prevent either
idleness or immorality.(123) In these gymnasia, where young men came in
the afternoon, stripped, oiled themselves, and then got a coat of dust or
fine sand over the skin, running, wrestling, boxing, jumping, and throwing
with the dart were commonly practised.

This sort of physical training I conceive to have grown up with the growth
of towns, and with the abandonment of hunting and marauding, owing to the
increase of culture. Among the aristocrats of epical days, as well as
among the Spartans, who lived a village life, surrounded by forest and
mountain, I presume field sports must have been quite the leading
amusement; nor ought competitions in a gymnasium to be compared for one
moment to this far higher and more varied recreation. The contrast still
subsists among us, and our fox-hunting, salmon-fishing, grouse-shooting
country gentleman has the same inestimable advantage over the city
athlete, whose special training for a particular event has a necessary
tendency to lower him into a professional. There is even a danger of some
fine exercises, which seemed common ground for both, such as boating and
cricket, being vulgarized by the invasion of this professional spirit,
which implies such attention to the body as to exclude higher pursuits,
and which rewards by special victories, and by public applause rather than
by the intrinsic pleasure of sport for its own sake. Thus the Spartans not
only objected to boxing and the pankration, in which the defeated
competitor might have to ask for mercy; they even for general purposes
preferred field-sports, for which they had ample opportunities, to any
special competitions in the strength of particular muscles. But in such
places as Athens and its neighborhood, where close cultivation had caused
all wild country and all game to disappear, it was necessary to supply the
place of country sport by the training of the gymnasium. This sort of
exercise naturally led to contests, so that for our purpose we need not
separate _gymnastic_ and _agonistic_, but may use the details preserved
about the latter to tell us how the Greeks practised the former.

There is no doubt that the pursuit of high muscular condition was early
associated with that of health, and that hygiene and physical training
were soon discovered to be closely allied. Thus Herodicus, a trainer, who
was also an invalid, was said to have discovered from his own case the
method of treating disease by careful diet and regimen, and to have thus
contributed to the advancement of Greek medicine. Pausanias also mentions
(vi. 3, 9) the case of a certain Hysmon, an Elean, who, when a boy, had
rheumatism in his limbs, and on this account practised for the pentathlon,
that he might become a healthy and sound man. His training made him not
only sound, but a celebrated victor.

It would be very interesting to know in detail what rules the Greeks
prescribed for this purpose. Pausanias tells us (vi. 7, 9) that a certain
Dromeus, who won ten victories in long races at various games (about Ol.
74, 485 B. C.), was the first who thought of eating meat in his training,
for that up to that time the diet of athletes had been cheese from wicker
baskets (_ἐκ τῶν ταλάρων_).(124) It must be remembered that meat diet was
not common among the Greeks, who, like most southern people, lived rather
upon fish, fruit, and vegetables, so that the meat dinners of Bœotia were
censured as heavy and rather disgusting. However, the discovery of Dromeus
was adopted by Greek athletes ever after, and we hear of their compulsory
meals of large quantities of meat, and their consequent sleepiness and
sluggishness in ordinary life, in such a way as to make us believe that
the Greeks had missed the real secret of training, and actually thought
that the more strong nutriment a man could take, the stronger he would
become. The quantity eaten by athletes is universally spoken of as far
exceeding the quantity eaten by ordinary men, not to speak of its heavier

The suspicion that, in consequence, Greek athletic performances were not
in speed greater than, if even equal to, our own, is however hard to
verify, as we are without any information as to the time in which their
running feats were performed. They had no watches, or nice measures of
short moments of time, and always ran races merely to see who would win,
not to see in how short a time a given distance could be done.
Nevertheless, as the course was over soft sand, and as the vases picture
them rushing along in spread-eagle fashion, with their arms like the sails
of a windmill—in order to aid the motion of their bodies, as the Germans
explain (after Philostratos)—nay, as we even hear of their having started
shouting, if we can believe such a thing, their time performances in
running must have been decidedly poor.(125)

In the Olympic games the running, which had originally been the only
competition, always came first. The distance was once up the course, and
seems to have been about 200 yards. After the year 720 B. C. (?) races of
double the course, and long races of about 3000 yards were added;(126)
races in armor were a later addition, and came at the end of the sports.
It is remarkable that among all these varieties hurdle races were unknown,
though the long jump was assigned a special place, and thought very
important. We have several extraordinary anecdotes of endurance in running
long journeys cited throughout Greek history, and even now the modern
inhabitants are remarkable for this quality. I have seen a young man keep
up with a horse ridden at a good pace across rough country for many miles,
and have been told that the Greek postmen are quite wonderful for their
speed and lasting. But this is compatible with very poor performances at
prize meetings.

There were short races for boys at Olympia of half the course. Eighteen
years was beyond the limit of age for competing, as a story in Pausanias
implies, and a boy who won at the age of twelve was thought wonderfully
young. The same authority tells us of a man who won the sprint race at
four successive meetings, thus keeping up his pace for sixteen years—a
remarkable case. There seems to have been no second prize in any of the
historical games, a natural consequence of the abolition of material
rewards.(127) There was, naturally, a good deal of chance in the course of
the contest, and Pausanias evidently knew cases where the winner was not
the best man. For example, the races were run in heats of four, and if
there was an odd man over, the owner of the last lot drawn could sit down
till the winners of the heats were declared, and then run against them
without any previous fatigue. The limitation of each heat to four
competitors arose, I fancy, from their not wearing colors (or even
clothes), and so not being easily distinguishable. They were accordingly
walked into the arena through an underground passage in the raised side of
the stadium, and the name and country of each proclaimed in order by a
herald. This practice is accurately copied in the present Olympic games
held at Athens every four years.

The next event was the wrestling match, which is out of fashion at our
prize meetings, though still a favorite sport in many country districts.
There is a very ample terminology for the various tricks and devices in
this contest, and they have been explained with much absurdity by
scholiasts, both ancient and modern. It seems that it was not always
enough to throw your adversary,(128) but that an important part of the
sport was the getting uppermost on the ground; and in no case was a man
declared beaten till he was thrown three times, and was actually laid on
his back. It is not worth while enumerating the various technical terms,
but it may be observed that a good deal of what we should call foul play
was tolerated. There was no kicking, such as there used to be in wrestling
matches in Ireland, because there were no boots, but Pausanias mentions
(vi. 4, 3) a man who did not know how to wrestle, but defeated his
opponents by breaking their fingers. We shall return to this point when
speaking of the _pankration_.

When the wrestling was over there followed the throwing of the discus and
the dart, and the long leap, but in what order is uncertain; for I cannot
accept as evidence the pentameter line of Simonides, which enumerates the
games of the pentathlon, seeing that it would be impossible to vary them
from the order he gives without great metrical difficulties. Our only safe
guide is, I think, the date of the origin of each kind of competition, as
it was plainly the habit of the Greeks to place the new event next after
those already established. The sole exception to this is in the
establishing of contests for boys, which seem always to have come
immediately before the corresponding competition for men. But we are only
told that both wrestling and the contest of five events (pentathlon) dated
from the 18th Ol. (710 B. C.), and are not informed in what order each was

  [Illustration: Entrance to the Stadium, Olympia]

The discus-throwing was mainly to test distance, but the dart-throwing to
strike a mark. The discus was either of stone or of metal, and was very
heavy. I infer from the attitude of Myron’s discobolus, as seen in our
copies, that it was thrown without a preliminary run, and rather hurled
standing. This contest is to be compared with our hammer-throwing, or
putting of weights. We are, however, without any accurate information
either as to the average weight of the discus, or the average distance
which a good man could throw it. There is, indeed, one ancient specimen
extant, which was found at Ægina, and is now preserved among the bronze
antiquities at Munich. It is about eight inches in diameter, and something
under four pounds in weight. But there seem to have been three sizes of
discus, according as they were intended for boys, for grown youths
(_ἀγένειοι_), or for men, and it is not certain to which class this discus
belongs. Philostratos mentions one hundred cubits as a fine throw, but in
such a way as to make it doubtful whether he is not talking at random and
in round numbers. Similarly, we have no details concerning the javelin
contest. But I suspect that here, if anywhere, the Greeks could do what we
cannot; for the savages of to-day, who use spears, can throw them with a
force and accuracy which is to us quite surprising. It is reported by
trustworthy travellers that a Kaffir who comes suddenly on game will put a
spear right into an antelope at ten or twelve yards’ distance by an
underhand chuck, without taking time to raise his arm. This is beyond the
ability of any English athlete, however trained.

The question of the long jump is more interesting, as it still forms a
part of our contests. It is not certain whether the old Greeks practised
the running jump, or the high jump, for we never hear of a preliminary
start, or of any difficulty about “breaking trig,” as people now call it.
Furthermore, an extant epigram on a celebrated athlete, Phayllus of
Kroton, asserts that he jumped clean over the prepared ground (which was
broken with a spade) on to the hard ground beyond—a distance of forty-nine
feet. We cannot, of course, though some German professors believe it,
credit this feat, if it were a single long jump, yet we can find no trace
of anything like a hop, step, and jump, so that it seems wonderful how
such an absurdity should be gravely repeated in an epigram. But the
exploit became proverbial, and to leap _ὑπὲρ τὰ σκάμματα_ (beyond the
digging) was a constantly repeated phrase.

The length of Phayllus’s leap would be even more incredible if the
competition was in a standing jump, and yet the figures of athletes on
vases which I have seen strongly favor this supposition. They are
represented not as running, but as standing and swinging the dumb-bells or
_ἁλτῆρες_ (jumpers), which were always used by the older Greeks, as
assisting them materially in increasing their distance. I can imagine this
being the case in a standing jump where a man rose with the forward swing
of the weights, but in a running jump the carrying of the weights must
surely impede rather than assist him. I know that Irish peasants, who take
off very heavy boots to jump, often carry one in each hand, and throw them
backward violently as they rise from the ground; but this principle is not
admitted so far as I know, by any scientific authority, as of the
slightest assistance.

We hear of no vaulting or jumping with a pole, so that in fact the leap
seems an isolated contest, and of little interest except as determining
one of the events of the pentathlon, in which a man must win three in
order to be declared victor. This pentathlon, as comprising gentlemanly
exercise without much brutality, was especially patronized by the
Spartans. It was attempted for boys, but immediately abandoned, the strain
being thought excessive for growing constitutions.

There remain the two severest and most objectionable sports—boxing and the
pankration. The former came first (Ol. 23), the other test of strength not
being admitted till Ol. 33 (650 B. C.). But one special occasion is
mentioned when a champion, who was competing in both, persuaded the judges
to change the order, that he might not have to contend against a specially
famous antagonist when already wounded and bruised. For boxing was, even
from Homeric times, a very dangerous and bloody amusement, in which the
vanquished were always severely punished. The Greeks were not content with
naked fists, but always used a special apparatus, called _ἱμάντες_, which
consisted at first of a weight carried in the hand, and fastened by thongs
of hide round the hand and wrist. But this ancient cestus came to be
called the gentle kind (_μειλίχαι_) when a later and more brutal invention
introduced “sharp thongs on the wrist,” and probably increased the weight
of the instrument. The successful boxer in the Iliad (Epeius) confesses
that he is a bad warrior, though he is the acknowledged champion in his
own line; but evidently this sport was not highly esteemed in epic days.
In historical times it seems to have been more favored. There was no doubt
a great deal of skill required for it, but I think the body of the
evidence goes to prove that the Greeks did not box on sound principles,
and that any prominent member of the P. R. with his naked fists would have
easily settled any armed champion of Olympian fame. Here are my reasons:

The principle of increasing the weight of the fist as much as possible is
only to be explained by the habit of dealing swinging or downward strokes,
and is incompatible with the true method of striking straight home
quickly, and giving weight to the stroke by sending the whole body with
it. In Vergil’s description a boxer is even described getting up on
tip-toe to strike his adversary on the top of the head—a ridiculous
manœuvre, which must make his instant ruin certain, if his opponent knew
the first elements of the art. That this downward stroke was used appears
also from the anecdote in Pausanias, where a father seeing his son, who
was ploughing, drive in the share which had fallen out with strokes of his
fist, without a hammer, immediately entered him for the boys’ boxing match
at Olympia. The lad got roughly handled from want of skill, and seemed
likely to lose, when the father called out: “Boy, give him the plough
stroke!” and so encouraged him that he forthwith knocked his adversary out
of time.

It is almost conclusive as to the swinging stroke that throughout
antiquity a boxer was not known as a man with his nose broken, but as a
man _with his ears crushed_. Vergil even speaks of their receiving blows
on the back. Against all this there are only two pieces of evidence—one of
them incredible—in favor of the straight home stroke. In the fight between
Pollux and Amykos, described by Theocritus (_Idyll_ 22), Pollux strikes
his man on the left temple, _καὶ ἐπέμπεσεν ὤμῳ_, which may mean, “and
follows up the stroke from the shoulder.” But this is doubtful. The other
is the story of Pausanias (viii. 40, 3), that when Kreugas and Damoxenos
boxed till evening, and neither could hit the other, they at last agreed
to receive stroke about, and after Kreugas had dealt Damoxenos one on the
head, the latter told him to hold up his hand,(130) and then drove his
fingers right into Kreugas, beneath the ribs, and pulled out his entrails.
Kreugas of course died on the spot, but was crowned as victor, on the
ground that Damoxenos had broken his agreement of striking _one_ blow in
turn, by striking him with five separate fingers! But this curious
decision was only one of many in which a boxing competitor was
disqualified for having fought with the intention of maiming his

Little need be added about the pankration, which combined boxing and
wrestling, and permitted every sort of physical violence except biting. In
this contest a mere fall did not end the affair, as might happen in
wrestling, but the conflict was always continued on the ground, and often
ended in one of the combatants being actually choked, or having his
fingers and toes broken. One man, Arrachion, at the last gasp, broke his
adversary’s toe, and made him give in, at the moment he was himself dying
of strangulation. Such contests were not to the credit either of the
humanity or of the good taste of the Greeks, and would not be tolerated
even in the lowest of our prize rings.

I will conclude this sketch by giving some account of the general
management of the prize meetings.

There was no want of excitement and of circumstance about them. In the
case of the four great meetings there was even a public truce proclaimed,
and the competitors and visitors were guaranteed a safe journey to visit
them and to return to their homes. The umpires at the Olympic games were
chosen ten months before at Elis, and seem to have numbered one for each
clan, varying through Greek history from two to twelve, but finally fixed
at ten. They were called both here and at the other great games
_Ἑλλανοδίκαι_, judges of the Hellenes, in recognition of their national
character. Three superintended the pentathlon, three the horse races, and
the rest the other games. They had to reside together in a public
building, and undergo strict training in all the details of their
business, in which they were assisted by heralds, trumpeters, stewards,
etc. Their office was looked upon as of much dignity and importance.

When the great day came, they sat in purple robes in the semicircular end
of the racecourse—a piece of splendor which the modern Greeks imitate by
dressing the judges of the new Olympic games in full evening dress and
white kid gloves. The effect even now with neatly-clothed candidates is
striking enough; what must it have been when a row of judges in purple
looked on solemnly at a pair of men dressed in oil and dust—_i. e._, in
mud—wrestling or rolling upon the ground? The crowd cheered and shouted as
it now does. Pausanias mentions a number of cases where competitors were
disqualified for unfairness, and in most of them the man’s city took up
the quarrel, which became quite a public matter; but at the games the
decision was final, nor do we hear of a case where it was afterward
reversed.(131) They were also obliged to exact beforehand from each
candidate an oath that he was of pure Hellenic parentage, that he had not
taken, or would not take, any unfair advantage, and that he had spent ten
months in strict training. This last rule I do not believe. It is absurd
in itself, and is contradicted by such anecdotes as that of the sturdy
plough-boy quoted above, and still more directly by the remark of
Philostratos (_Γυμν._ 38), who ridicules any inquiry into the morals or
training of an athlete by the judges. Its only meaning could have been to
exclude random candidates, if the number was excessive, and in later times
some such regulation may have subsisted, but I do not accept it for the
good classical days. There is the case of a boy being rejected for looking
too young and weak, and winning in the next Olympiad among the men, But in
another instance the competitor disqualified (for unfairness) went mad
with disappointment. Aristotle notes that it was the rarest possible
occurrence for a boy champion to turn out successful among the full-grown
athletes, but Pausanias seems to contradict him, a fair number of cases
being cited among the selection which he makes.

There is yet one unpleasant feature to be noted, which has disappeared
from our sports. Several allusions make it plain that the vanquished, even
vanquished boys, were regarded as fit subjects for jibe and ridicule, and
that they sneaked home by lanes and backways. When the most ideal account
which we have of the games gives us this information, we cannot hesitate
to accept it as probably a prominent feature, which is, moreover,
thoroughly consistent with the character of the old Greeks as I conceive

The general conclusion to which all these details lead us is this, that
with all the care and with all the pomp expended on Greek athletic
meetings, despite the exaggerated fame attained by victors, and the solid
rewards both of money and of privileges accorded them by their grateful
country, the results attained physically seem to have been inferior to
those of English athletes. There was, moreover, an element of brutality in
them, which is very shocking to modern notions: and not all the ideal
splendor of Pindar’s praises, or of Pythagoras’s art, can raise the Greek
pankratiast as an athlete much above the level of a modern prize-fighter.
But, nevertheless, by the aid of their monumental statues, their splendid
lyric poetry, and the many literary and musical contests which were
combined with the gymnastic, the Greeks contrived, as usual, to raise very
common things to a great national manifestation of culture which we cannot
hope to equal.

For common they were, and very human, in the strictest sense. Dry-as-dust
scholars would have us believe that the odes of Pindar give a complete
picture of these games; as if all the booths about the course had not been
filled with idlers, pleasure-mongers, and the scum of Greek society!
Tumbling, thimble-rigging, and fortune-telling, along with love-making and
trading, made Olympia a scene not unlike the Derby. When the drinking
parties of young men began in the evening, there may even have been a
_soupçon_ of Donnybrook Fair about it, but that the committee of
management were probably strict in their discipline. From the Isthmian
games the successful athletes, with their training over, retired, as most
athletes do, to the relaxation afforded by city amusements. One can
imagine how amply Corinth provided for the outburst of liberty after the
long and arduous subjection of physical training.

But all these things are perhaps justly forgotten, and it is ungrateful to
revive them from oblivion. The dust and dross of human conflict, the blood
and the gall, the pain and the revenge—all this was laid aside like the
athlete’s dress, and could not hide the glory of his naked strength and
his iron endurance. The idleness and vanity of human admiration have
vanished with the motley crowd, and have left us free to study the deeper
beauty of human vigor with the sculptor, and the spiritual secrets of its
hereditary origin with the poet. Thus Greek gymnastic, with all its
defects—perhaps even with its absurdities—has done what has never been
even the dream of its modern sister; it stimulated the greatest artists
and the highest intellects in society, and through them ennobled and
purified public taste and public morals.

When we left Olympia, and began to ascend the course of the Alpheus, the
valley narrowed to the broad bed of the stream. The way leads now along
the shady slopes high over the river, now down in the sandy flats left
bare in the summer season. There are curious zones of vegetation
distinctly marked along the course of the valley. On the river bank, and
in the little islands formed by the stream, are laurels, myrtles, and
great plane-trees. On the steep and rocky slopes are thick coverts of
mastich, arbutus, dwarf-holly, and other evergreens which love to clasp
the rocks with their roots; and they are all knit together by great
creeping plants, the wild vine, the convolvulus, and many that are new and
nameless to the northern stranger. On the heights, rearing their great
tops against the sky, are huge pine-trees, isolated and still tattered
with the winter storms.

“Ces adieux à l’Elide,” adds M. Beulé, “laissent une pure et vive
impression. Rarement la nature se trouve en si parfaite harmonie avec les
souvenirs. On dirait un théâtre éternel, toujours prêt pour les joies
pacifiques, toujours paré pour les fêtes, et qui, depuis dix-huit siècles,
attend ses acteurs qui ont disparu.”

  [Illustration: The Valley of the Alpheus]

Travellers going from Olympia northward either go round by carriage
through Elis to Patras—a drive of two days—or by Kalavryta to Megaspilion,
and thence to Vostitza, thus avoiding the great Alps of Olonos (as
Erymanthus is now called) and Chelmos, which are among the highest and
most picturesque in Greece. After my last visit to Olympia (1884) I was so
tantalized by the perpetual view of the snowy crest of Olonos, that I
determined to attempt a new route, not known to any of the
guide-books,(133) and cross over the mountain, as directly as I could,
from Olympia to Patras. It was easy for me to carry out this plan, being
accompanied by a young Greek antiquarian, M. Castroménos, and by Dr.
Purgold from Olympia, who had travelled through most of Greece, but was as
anxious as I was to try this new route.

So we started on a beautiful spring morning, up the valley of the Kladeos,
with all the trees bursting into leaf and blossom, and the birds singing
their hymns of delight. The way was wooded, and led up through narrow and
steep, but not difficult glens, until, on a far higher level, we came in
three or four hours to the village of Lala, once an important Turkish
fort. Here was a higher plain, from which we began to see the plan of that
vast complex of mountains which form the boundaries of the Old Elis,
Achaia, and Arcadia, and which have so often been the scenes of difficult
campaigns. From Lala, where we breakfasted, we crossed a sudden deep
valley, and found ourselves, on regaining the higher level, in a vast oak
forest, unlike anything I had yet seen in Greece. The trees had been
undisturbed for centuries, and the forest was even avoided in summer by
the natives, on account of the many poisonous snakes which hid in the deep
layers of dead leaves. In that high country the oaks were just turning
pink with their new buds, and not a green leaf was to be seen, so we could
trust to the winter sleep of the snakes, while we turned aside again and
again from our path, to the great perplexity of the muleteers, to dig up
wood anemones of all colors, pale blue, pink, deep crimson, scarlet,
snowy-white, which showed brilliantly on the brown oak-leaf carpet.

We spent at least two hours in riding through this forest, and then we
rose higher and higher, passing along the upper edge of deep glens, with
rushing streams far beneath us. The most beautiful point was one from
which we looked down a vast straight glen of some fifteen miles, almost as
deep as a cañon, with the silvery Erymanthus river pursuing its furious
course so directly as to be clearly visible all the way. But though
ascending the river from this point, where its course comes suddenly round
a corner, the upper country was no longer wooded, but bleak, like most of
the Alpine Arcadia, a country of dire winters and great hardship to the
population, who till an unwilling soil on the steep slopes of giant

We were much tempted to turn up another tortuous glen to the hidden nest
of Divri, where the Greeks found refuge from Turkish prosecution in the
great war—a place so concealed, and so difficult of access, that an armed
force has never penetrated there. But the uncertainties of our route were
too many to admit of these episodes, so we hurried on to reach the Kahn of
Tripotamo in the evening—a resting-place which suggested to us strongly
the inn where St. John is reported to have slept in the apocryphal _Acts_
of his life. Being very tired with preaching and travelling, he found it
so impossible to share the room with the bugs, that he besought them in
touching language to allow him to sleep; practically in virtue of his
apostolic authority, he ordered them out of the house. They all obeyed,
but when in the morning the apostle and his companions found them waiting
patiently outside the door, he was so moved by their consideration for
him, that he permitted them to return and infest the house.

Nor were the bugs perhaps the worst. Being awakened by a crunching noise
in the night, I perceived that a party of cats had come in to finish our
supper for us, and when startled by a flying boot, they made our beds and
bodies the stepping stones for a leap to the rafters, and out through a
large hole in the roof. By and by I was aroused by the splashing of cold
water in my face, and found that a heavy shower had come on, and was
pouring through the cats’ passage. So I put up my umbrella in bed till the
shower was over—the only time I felt rain during the whole of that voyage.
I notice that Miss Agnes Smith, who travelled through these parts in May,
1883, and had very similar experiences at Tripotamo, was wet through
almost every day. We did not see more than two showers, and were moreover
so fortunate as to have perfectly calm days whenever we were crossing high
passes, though in general the breeze was so strong as to be almost stormy
in the valleys.

Next morning we followed the river up to the neighboring site of Psophis,
so picturesquely described by Polybius in his account of Philip V., and
his campaigns in Elis and Triphylia.(134) This town, regarded as the
frontier-town of Elis, Arcadia, and Achaia, would well repay an
enterprising excavator. The description of Polybius can be verified
without difficulty, and ruins are still visible. We found out from a
solitary traveller that our way turned to the north, up one of the
affluents of the Erymanthus, and so we ascended in company with this
worthy man to a village (Lechouri) under the highest precipices of Olonos.
He was full of the curiosity of a Greek peasant—Who were we, where did we
come from, were we married, had we children, how many, what was our
income, was it from land, was it paid by the State, could we be dismissed
by the Government, were we going to write about Greece, what would we say,
etc., etc.? Such was the conversation to which we submitted for the sake
of his guidance. But at last it seemed as if our way was actually at an
end, and we had come into an impassable _cul-de-sac_. Perpendicular walls
of rock surrounded us on all sides except where we had entered by
constantly fording the stream, or skirting along its edge. Was it possible
that the curiosity of our fellow-traveller had betrayed him into leading
us up this valley to the village whither he himself was bound? We sought
anxiously for the answer, when he showed us a narrow strip of dark
pine-trees coming down from above, in form like a little torrent, and so
reaching with a narrow thread of green to the head of the valley. This was
our pass, the pine-trees with their roots and stems made a zigzag path up
the almost perpendicular wall possible, and so we wended our way up with
infinite turnings, walking or rather climbing for safety’s sake, and to
rest the laboring mules. Often as I had before attempted steep ascents
with horses in Greece, I never saw anything so astonishing as this.

When we had reached the top we found ourselves on a narrow saddle, with
snowy heights close to us on both sides, the highest ridge of Olonos
facing us a few miles away, and a great pine forest reaching down on the
northern side, whither our descent was to lead us. About us were still
great patches of snow, and in them were blowing the crocus and the
cyclamen, with deep blue scilla. Far away to the south reached, in a great
panorama, the mountains of Arcadia, and even beyond them the highest tops
of Messene and Laconia were plainly visible. The air was clear, the day
was perfectly fine and calm. To the north the chain of Erymanthus still
hid from us the far distance. For a long time, while our muleteers slept
and the mules and ponies rested, we sat wondering at the great view. The
barometer indicated that we were at a height of about 5500 feet. The
freshness and purity of the atmosphere was such that no thought of hunger
and fatigue could mar our perfect enjoyment. In the evening, descending
through gloomy pines and dazzling snow, we reached the village of Hagios
Vlasos, where the song of countless nightingales beguiled the hours of the
night, for here too sleep was not easily obtained.

The journey from this point to Patras, which we accomplished in twelve
hours, is not so interesting, and the traveller who tries it now had
better telegraph for a carriage to meet him as far as possible on the way.
By this time a good road is finished for many miles, and the tedium and
heat of the plain, as you approach Patras, are very trying. But with this
help, I think no journey in all Greece so well worth attempting, and of
course it can be accomplished in either direction.

Patras is indeed an excellent place for a starting-point. Apart from the
route just described, you can go by boat to Vostitza, and thence to
Megaspilion. There are, moreover, splendid alpine ascents to be made for
those who like such work, to the summits of Chelmos and Olonos
(Erymanthus), and this is best done from Patras. Moreover, Patras is
itself a most lovely place, commanding a noble view of the coast and
mountains of Ætolia across the narrow fiord, as well as of the Ionian
islands to the N. W. Right opposite is the ever-interesting site of
Missolonghi. Last, and perhaps not least, there is at Patras a most
respectable inn, indeed I should call it a hotel,(135) where the traveller
who has spent ten days of rough outing in Peloponnesus will find a haven
of rest and comfort. From here steamers will carry him to Athens round the
coast, or home to Italy.

                               CHAPTER XII.


There is no name in Greece which raises in the mind of the ordinary reader
more pleasing and more definite ideas than the name Arcadia. It has become
indissolubly connected with the charms of pastoral ease and rural
simplicity. The sound of the shepherd’s pipe and the maiden’s laughter,
the rustling of shady trees, the murmuring of gentle fountains, the
bleating of lambs and the lowing of oxen—these are the images of peace and
plenty which the poets have gathered about that ideal retreat. There are
none more historically false, more unfounded in the real nature and aspect
of the country, and more opposed to the sentiment of the ancients. Rugged
mountains and gloomy defiles, a harsh and wintry climate, a poor and
barren soil, tilled with infinite patience; a home that exiled its
children to seek bread at the risk of their blood, a climate more opposed
to intelligence and to culture than even Bœotian fogs, a safe retreat of
bears and wolves—this is the Arcadia of old Greek history. Politically it
has no weight whatever till the days of Epaminondas, and the foundation of
Megalopolis. Intellectually, its rise is even later, and it takes no
national part in the great march of literature from Homer to
Menander.(136) It was only famed for the marketable valor of its hardy
mountaineers, of whom the Tegeans had held their own even against the
power of Sparta, and obtained an honorable place in her army. It was also
noted for rude and primitive cults, of which later men praised the
simplicity and homely piety—at times also, the stern gloominess, which did
not turn from the offering of human blood.

I must remind the reader that rural beauty among the ancients, as well as
among the Renaissance visions of an imaginary Arcadia as a rustic
paradise, by no means included the wild picturesqueness which we admire in
beetling cliffs and raging torrents. These were inhospitable and savage to
the Greeks. It was the gentle slope, the rich pasture, the placid river
framed in deep foliage—it was, in fact, landscape-scenery like the valleys
of the Thames, or about the gray abbeys of Yorkshire, which satisfied
their notion of perfect landscape; and in this the men of the Renaissance
were perfectly agreed with them.

How, then, did the false notion of our Arcadia spring up in modern Europe?
How is it that even our daily papers assume this sense, and know it to be
intelligible to the most vulgar public? The history of the change from the
historical to the poetical conception is very curious, and worth the
trouble of explaining, especially as we find it assumed in many books, but
accounted for in none.

It appears that from the oldest days the worship of Pan had its home in
Arcadia, particularly about Mount Mænalus, and that it was already ancient
when it was brought to Athens at the time of the Persian Wars. The extant
Hymn to Pan, among the Homeric Hymns, which may have been composed shortly
after that date, is very remarkable for its idyllic and picturesque tone,
and shows that with this worship of Pan were early associated those trains
of nymphs and rustic gods, with their piping and dance, which inspired
Praxiteles’s inimitable Faun. These images are even transferred by
Euripides to the Acropolis, where he describes the daughters of Aglauros
dancing on the sward, while Pan is playing his pipe in the grotto
underneath (_Ion_, vv. 492, _sqq._). Such facts seem to show a gentle and
poetical element in the stern and gloomy mountaineers, who lived, like the
Swiss of our day, in a perpetual struggle with nature, and were all their
lives harassed with toil and saddened with thankless fatigue. This
conclusion is sustained by the evidence of a far later witness, Polybius,
who in his fourth book mentions the strictness with which the Arcadians
insisted upon an education in music, as necessary to soften the harshness
and wildness of their life. He even maintains that the savagery of one
town (Kynætha) was caused by a neglect of this salutary precaution. So it
happens that, although Theocritus lays his pastoral scenes in the uplands
of Sicily, and the later pastoral romances, such as the exquisite _Daphnis
and Chloe_, are particularly associated with the voluptuous Lesbos,
Vergil, in several of his _Eclogues_, makes allusion to the musical talent
of Arcadian shepherds, and in his tenth brings the unhappy Gallus into
direct relation to Arcadia in connection with the worship of Pan on
Mænalus. But this prominent feature in Vergil—borrowed, I suppose, from
some Greek poet, though I know not from whom—bore no immediate fruit. His
Roman imitators, Calpurnius and Nemesianus, make no mention of Arcadia,
and if they had, their works were not unearthed till the year 1534, when
the poetical Arcadia had been already, as I shall show, created. There
seems no hint of the idea in early Italian poetry;(137) for according to
the histories of mediæval literature, the pastoral romance did not
originate until the very end of the fourteenth century, with the
Portuguese Ribeyro, and he lays all the scenes of his idylls not in a
foreign country, but in Portugal, his own home. Thus we reach the year
1500 without any trace of a poetical Arcadia. But at that very time it was
being created by the single work of a single man. The celebrated Jacopo
Sannazaro, known by the title of Actius Sincerus in the affected society
of literary Naples, exiled himself from that city in consequence of a deep
and unrequited passion. He lay concealed for a long time, it is said, in
the wilds of France, possibly in Egypt, but certainly not in Greece, and
immortalized his grief in a pastoral medley of prose description and
idyllic complaint called _Arcadia_,(138) and suggested, I believe, by the
Gallus of Vergil. Though the learned and classical author despised this
work in comparison with his heroic poem on the Conception of the Virgin
Mary, the public of the day thought differently. Appearing in 1502, the
_Arcadia_ of Sannazaro went through sixty editions during the century, and
so this single book created that imaginary home of innocence and grace
which has ever since been attached to the name. Its occurrence
henceforward is so frequent as to require no further illustration in this

But let us turn from this poetical and imaginary country to the real
land—from Arcádia to Arcadía, as it is called by the real inhabitants. As
everybody knows, this Arcadia is the alpine centre of the Morea, bristling
with mountain chains, which reach their highest points in the great bar of
Erymanthus, to the N. W., in the lonely peak of “Cyllene hoar,” to the
N. E., in the less conspicuous, but far more sacred Lykæon, to the S. W.,
and finally, in the serrated Taygetus to the S. E. These four are the
angles, as it were, of a quadrilateral enclosing Arcadia. Yet these are
but the greatest among chains of great mountains, which seem to traverse
the country in all directions, and are not easily distinguished, or
separated into any connected system.(139) They are nevertheless
interrupted, as we found, by two fine oval plains—both stretching north
and south, both surrounded with a beautiful panorama of mountains, and
both, of course, the seats of the old culture, such as it was in Arcadia.
That which is southerly and westerly, and from which the rivers still flow
into the Alpheus and the western sea,(140) is guarded at its south end by
Megalopolis. That which is more east, which is higher in level, and
separated from the former by the bleak bar of Mænalus, is the plain of
Mantinea and Tegea, now represented by the important town of Tripolitza.
These two parallel plains give some plan and system to the confusion of
mountains which cover the ordinary maps of Arcadia.

The passage from Elis into Arcadia is nowhere marked by any natural
boundary. You ride up the valley of the Alpheus, crossing constantly the
streams, great and small, which come flowing into it from the spurs of
Erymanthus, from northern Arcadia, and the adjoining highlands of Elis.
The stream called Erymanthus, which is the old boundary, though called a
_λάβρος ποταμὸς_ by Polybius, does not strike the traveller here as it
does higher up in its course, and the only other confluent water worth
mentioning is the Ladon, which meets the Alpheus at some hours’ ride above
Olympia, but which counted of old as a river of Arcadia. This Ladon seems
to have specially struck Pausanias with its beauty, as he returns to it
several times; and later observers, such as M. Beulé, have corroborated
him, saying that on the banks of this river you may indeed find the
features of the poetical Arcadia—grassy slopes and great shady trees,
without the defiles and precipices so common in the inner country. The
Ladon and its valley in fact, though in Arcadia, partake of the character
of the neighboring Elis: it is the outer boundary of the real Alps. The
Alpheus, on the contrary, which is a broad, peaceful stream when it passes
into tamer country, comes through the wildest part of central Arcadia; and
if you follow its course upward, will lead you first past the ancient site
of Heræa, a few miles above the Ladon, and then through rugged and savage
mountains, till you at last ascend to the valley of Megalopolis, round
which it winds in a great curve. We did not follow this route, nor did we
ascend the valley of the Ladon, in spite of its reputed beauties. For we
were bound for Andritzena, a ride of eleven hours from Olympia, which lay
to the S. E., and within easy distance of the temple of Bassæ. We
therefore forded the Alpheus, just above the confluence of the Ladon,
where the two rivers form a great delta of sand, and the stream is broad
and comparatively shallow. The banks were clothed with brushwood, and
above it with a green forest, along the grassy margin of which scarlet
anemones were scattered like our primroses among the stems of the trees,
and varied with their brightness the mosses and hoary lichen. From this
point onward we began to cross narrow defiles, and climb up steeps which
seemed impossible to any horse or mule. We entered secluded mountain
valleys, where the inhabitants appeared to live apart from all the world,
and looked with wonder upon the sudden stranger. We rested beside tumbling
rivers, rushing from great wooded mountain sides, which stood up beside us
like walls of waving green. The snow had disappeared from these wild
valleys but a few weeks, and yet even the later trees were already clothed
with that yellow and russet brown which is not only the faded remnant, but
also the forerunner, of the summer green. And down by the river’s side the
gray fig trees were putting forth great tufts at the end of every branch,
while the pear trees were showering their snowy blossoms upon the stream.
But in one respect, all this lonely solitude showed a marked contrast to
the wilds of northern Greece. Every inch of available ground was
cultivated; all the steep hill sides were terraced in ridges with infinite
labor; the ravages of the winter’s torrent were being actively repaired.
There was indeed in some sense a solitude. No idlers or wanderers were to
be seen on the way. But the careful cultivation of all the country showed
that there was not only population, but a thrifty and careful population.
All the villages seemed encumbered with the remains of recent building;
for almost all the houses were new, or erected within very few years. The
whole of this alpine district seemed happy and prosperous. This, say the
Greeks, is the result of its remoteness from the Turkish frontier, its
almost insular position—in fact, of its being under undisturbed Hellenic
rule. No bandit has been heard of in Arcadia since the year 1847. Life and
property are, I should think, more secure than in any part of England.
Morals are remarkably pure. If all Greece were occupied in this way by a
contented and industrious peasantry, undisturbed by ambition from within
or violence from without, the kingdom must soon become rich and
prosperous. It was not uncommon to find in these valleys two or three
secluded homesteads, miles from any village. This is the surest sign both
of outward security and of inward thrift, when people cut themselves off
from society for the sake of ample room and good return for their
industry. Late in the evening we entered the steep streets of the
irregular but considerable town of Andritzena.

We experienced in this place some of the rudeness of Greek travel. As the
party was too large to be accommodated in a private house, we sought the
shelter of a _ξενοδοχεῖον_, as it is still called—an inn with no chairs,
no beds, one tiny table, and about two spoons and forks. We were in fact
lodged within four bare walls, with a balcony outside the room, and slept
upon rugs laid on the floor. The people were very civil and honest—in this
a great contrast to the inn at Tripolitza, of which I shall speak in due
time—and were, moreover, considerably inconvenienced by our arrival during
the Passion Week of the Greek Church, when there is hardly anything eaten.
There was no meat, of course, in the town. But this was not all. No form
of milk, cheese, or curds, is allowed during this fast. The people live on
black bread, olives, and hard-boiled eggs. They are wholly given up to
their processions and services; they are ready to think of nothing else.
Thus we came not only to a place scantily supplied, but at the scantiest
moment of the year. This is a fact of great importance to travellers in
Greece, and one not mentioned, I think, in the guide-books. Without making
careful provision beforehand by telegraph, no one should venture into the
highlands of Greece during this very Holy Week, and it should be
remembered that it does not coincide with the Passion or Holy Week of the
Latin Church. It was just ten days later on this occasion; so that, after
having suffered some hardships from this unforeseen cause in remote parts
of Italy, we travelled into the same difficulty in Greece. But I must say
that a Greek fast is a very different thing from the mild and human
fasting of the Roman Catholic Church. We should have been well-nigh
starved had I not appealed, as was my wont, to the physician, _ὁ κύριος
ἴατρος_, of the town, a very amiable and cultivated man, and really
educated in the most philosophical views of modern medicine. He was well
acquainted, for example, with the clinical practice of the Dublin school,
as exemplified in the works of Graves and Stokes. It seems to me, from a
comparison of many instances, that in this matter of medicine, as indeed
generally, the Greeks show remarkable intelligence and enterprise as
compared with the nations around them. They study in the great centres of
European thought. They know the more important languages in which this
science can be pursued. A traveller taken ill in the remote valleys of
Arcadia would receive far safer and better treatment than would be his lot
in most parts of Italy.

The gentleman to whom I appealed in this case did all he could to save us
from starvation. He procured for us excellent fresh curds. He obtained us
the promise of meat from the mountains. He came to visit us, and tell us
what we required to know of the neighborhood. Thus we were able to spend
the earlier portion of the night in comparative comfort. But, as might
have been expected, when the hour for sleep had arrived our real
difficulties began. I was protected by a bottle of spirits of camphor,
with which my rugs and person were sufficiently scented to make me an
object of aversion to my assailants. But the rest of the party were not so
fortunate. It was, in fact, rather an agreeable diversion, when we were
roused, or rather, perhaps, distracted, shortly after midnight, by
piercing yells from a number of children, who seemed to be slowly
approaching our street.

On looking out a very curious scene presented itself. All the little
children were coming in slow procession, each with a candle in its hand,
and shouting _Kyrie Eleison_ at the top of its voice. After the children
came the women and the older men (I fancy many of the younger men were
absent), also with candles, and in the midst a sort of small bier, with an
image of the dead Christ laid out upon it, decked with tinsel and flowers,
and surrounded with lights. Along with it came priests in their robes,
singing in gruff bass some sort of Litany. The whole procession adjourned
to the church of the town, where the women went to a separate gallery, the
men gathered in the body of the building, and a guard of soldiers with
fixed bayonets stood around the bier of their Christ. Though the
congregation seemed very devout, and many of them in tears at the
sufferings of their Saviour, they nevertheless all turned round to look at
the strangers who chanced to witness their devotions. To those who come
from without, and from a different cult, and see the service of a strange
nation in a strange tongue, the mesquin externals are the first striking
point, and we wonder how deep devotion and true piety can exist along with
what is apparently mean and even grotesque. And yet it is in these poor
and shabby services, it is with this neglect or insouciance of detail,
that purer faith and better morals are found than in the gorgeous pageants
and stately ceremonies of metropolitan cathedrals.

We rose in the morning eager to start on our three hours’ ride to Bassæ,
where Ictinus had built his famous but inaccessible temple to Apollo the
Helper. The temple is very usually called the temple of Phigalía, and its
friezes are called Phigalian, I think, in the British Museum. This is so
far true that it was built for and managed by the people of Phigalía. But
the town was a considerable distance off,—according to Pausanias forty
stadia, or about five miles,—and he tells us they built the temple at a
place called Bassæ (the glades), near the summit of Mount Kotilion.
Accordingly, it ought to be consistently called the temple at or of Bassæ.

The morning, as is not unusual in these Alps, was lowering and gloomy, and
as we and our patient mules climbed up a steep ascent out of the town, the
rain began to fall in great threatening drops. But we would not be
daunted. The way led among gaunt and naked mountain sides, and often up
the bed of winter torrents. The lateness of the spring, for the snow was
now hardly gone, added to the gloom; the summer shrubs and the summer
grass were not yet green, and the country retained most of its wintry
bleakness. Now and then there met us in the solitude a shepherd coming
from the mountains, covered in his white woollen cowl, and with a lamb of
the same soft dull color upon his shoulders. It was the day of preparation
for the Easter feast, and the lamb was being brought by this picturesque
shepherd, not to the fold, but to the slaughter. Yet there was a strange
and fascinating suggestion in the serious face surrounded by its symphony
of white, in the wilderness around, in the helpless patience of the
animal, all framed in a background of gray mist, and dripping with
abundant rain. As we wound our way through the mountains we came to glens
of richer color and friendlier aspect. The sound of merry boys and baying
dogs reached up to us from below as we skirted far up along the steep
sides, still seeking a higher and higher level. Here the primrose and
violet took the place of the scarlet and the purple anemone, and cheered
us with the sight of northern flowers, and with the fairest produce of a
northern spring.

At last we attained a weird country, in which the ground was bare, save
where some sheltered and sunny spot showed bunches of very tall violets,
hanging over in tufts, rare purple anemones, and here and there a great
full iris; yet these patches were so exceptional as to make a strong
contrast with the brown soil. But the main features were single oak-trees
with pollarded tops and gnarled branches, which stood about all over these
lofty slopes, and gave them a melancholy and dilapidated aspect. They
showed no mark of spring, no shoot or budding leaf, but the russet brown
rags of last year’s clothing hung here and there upon the branches. These
wintry signs, the gloomy mist, and the insisting rain gave us the feeling
of chill October. And yet the weird oaks, with their branches tortured as
it were by storm and frost—these crippled limbs, which looked as if the
pains of age and disease had laid hold of the sad tenants of this alpine
desert—were colored with their own peculiar loveliness. All the stems were
clothed with delicate silver-gray lichen, save where great patches of
velvety, pale green moss spread a warm mantle about them. This beautiful
contrast of gray and yellow-green may be seen upon many of our own
oak-trees in the winter, and makes these the most richly colored of all
the leafless stems in our frosty landscape. But here there were added
among the branches huge tufts of mistletoe, brighter and yellower than the
moss, yet of the same grassy hue, though of different texture. And there
were trees so clothed with this foreign splendor that they looked like
some quaint species of great evergreen. It seemed as if the summer’s
foliage must have really impaired the character and the beauty of this
curious forest.

At last we crossed a long flat summit, and began to descend, when we
presently came upon the temple from the north, facing us on a lower part
of the lofty ridge. As we approached, the mist began to clear away, and
the sun shone out upon the scene, while the clouds rolled back toward the
east, and gradually disclosed to us the splendid prospect which the
sanctuary commands. All the southern Peloponnesus lay before us. We could
see the western sea, and the gulf of Koron to the south; but the long
ridge of Taygetus and the mountains of Malea hid from us the eastern seas.
The rich slopes of Messene, and the rugged highlands of northern Laconia
and of Arcadia, filled up the nearer view. There still remained here and
there a cloud which made a blot in the picture, and marred the
completeness of the landscape.

Nothing can be stranger than the remains of a beautiful temple in this
alpine solitude. Greek life is a sort of protest for cities and plains and
human culture, against picturesque Alps and romantic scenery. Yet here we
have a building of the purest age and type set up far from the cities and
haunts of men, and in the midst of such a scene as might be chosen by the
most romantic and sentimental modern. It was dedicated to Apollo the
Helper, for his deliverance of the country from the same plague which
devastated Athens at the opening of the Peloponnesian War,(141) and was
built by the greatest architect of the day, Ictinus, the builder of the

It was reputed in Pausanias’s day the most beautiful temple in
Peloponnesus, next to that of Athene Alea at Tegea. Even its roof was of
marble tiles, and the cutting of the limestone soffits of the ceiling is
still so sharp and clear, that specimens have been brought to Athens, as
the most perfect of the kind. The friezes, discovered years ago (1812),
and quite close to the surface, by Mr. Cockerell and his friends, were
carried away, and are now one of the greatest ornaments of the British
Museum. Any one who desires to know every detail of the building, and see
its general effect when restored, must consult Cockerell’s elaborate work
on this and the temple of Ægina. It affords many problems to the
architect. Each of the pillars within the cella was engaged or attached to
the wall, by joinings at right angles with it, the first pair only
reaching forward toward the spectator as he entered. The temple faces
north, contrary to the usual habit of the Greeks. In the very centre was
found a Corinthian capital—another anomaly in a Doric temple, and at the
epoch of Periclean art. In Mr. Cockerell’s restoration of the interior,
this capital is fitted to a solitary pillar in the centre of the cella,
and close to the statue of the god, which apparently faced sideways, and
looked toward the rising sun. It is a more popular theory that it was set
up much later, with some votive tripod upon it, and that it does not
belong to the original structure. The frieze in this temple was not along
the outside wall of the cella, but inside, and over the pillars, as the
narrow side aisle (if I may so call it) between the pillars and cella wall
was broken by the joining of the former, five at each side, with the
latter. I cannot but fancy that this transference of the friezes to the
inner side of the wall was caused by the feeling that the Parthenon
friezes, upon which such great labor and such exquisite taste had been
lavished, were after all very badly seen, being “skied” into a place not
worthy of them. Any one who will look up at the remaining band on the west
front of the Parthenon from the foot of the pillars beneath will, I think,
agree with me. At Bassæ there are many peculiarities in the Ionic
capitals, and in the ornamentation of this second monument of Ictinus’s
genius, which have occupied the architects, but on which I will not here
insist.(142) The general effect is one of smallness, as compared with the
Parthenon; of lightness and grace, as compared with the temple at Olympia,
the Doric pillars being here somewhat more slender than those of the
Parthenon, though the other proportions are not unlike. The style of the
frieze has been commented upon in all our histories of Greek art. The
effect produced is, moreover, that of lateness, as compared with the
Athenian sculptures; there is more exaggerated action, flying drapery and
contorted limbs, and altogether a conscious striving to give a strong
effect. But the execution, which was probably entrusted to native artists
under Attic direction, is inferior to good Attic work, and in some cases
positively faulty. Unfortunately, this part of the temple is in London,
not at Bassæ.

The ruin, as we saw it, was very striking and unlike any other we had
visited in Greece. It is built of the limestone which crops up all over
the mountain plateau on which it stands; and, as the sun shone upon it
after recent rain, was of a delicate bluish-gray color, so like the
surface of the ground in tone that it almost seemed to have grown out of
the rock, as its natural product. The pillars are indeed by no means
monoliths, but set together of short drums, of which the inner row are but
the rounded ends of long blocks which reach back to the cella wall. But as
the grain of the stone runs across the pillars they have become curiously
wrinkled with age, so that the artificial joinings are lost among the wavy
transverse lines, which make us imagine the pillars sunk with years and
fatigue, and weary of standing in this wild and gloomy solitude. There is
a great oak-tree, such as I have already described, close beside the
temple, and the coloring of its stem forms a curious contrast to the no
less beautiful shading of the time-worn pillars. Their ground being a pale
bluish-gray, the lichens which invade the stone have varied the fluted
surface with silver, with bright orange, and still more with a delicate
rose madder. Even under a mid-day sun these rich colors were very
wonderful, but what must they be at sunset?

There is something touching in the unconscious efforts of Nature to fill
up the breaks and heal the rents which time and desolation have made in
human work. If a gap occurs in the serried ranks of city buildings by
sudden accident or natural decay, the site is forthwith concealed with
hideous boarding; upon which, presently, staring portraits of latest clown
or merriest mountebank mock as it were the ruin within, and advertise
their idle mirth—an uglier fringe around the ugly stains of fire or the
heaps of formless masonry. How different is the hand of Nature! Whether in
the northern abbey or in the southern fane, no sooner are the monuments of
human patience and human pride abandoned and forgotten, than Nature takes
them into her gentle care, covers them with ivy, with lichen, and with
moss, plants her shrubs about them, and sows them with countless flowers.
And thus, when a later age repents the ingratitude of its forerunners, and
turns with new piety to atone for generations of forgetfulness, Nature’s
mantle has concealed from harm much that had else been destroyed, and
covered the remainder with such beauty that we can hardly conceive these
triumphs of human art more lovely in their old perfection than in their
modern solitude and decay.

The way from Andritzena to Megalopolis leads down from the rugged
frontiers of Arcadia and Messene, till we reach the fine rolling plain
which has Karytena at its northern, and Megalopolis near its southern,
extremity. Our guides were in high spirits, and kept singing in turn a
quaint love song, which, after the usual timeless flourishes and shakes at
the opening, ended in the following phrase, which their constant
repetition stamped upon my memory:

  [Illustration: Music]

The way was at first steep and difficult—we were still in the land of the
violet and primrose. But after an hour’s ride we came into a forest which
already showed summer signs; and here we found again the anemone, the
purple and white cistus, among shrubs of mastich and arbutus. Here, too,
we found the cyclamen, which is such a favorite in the green-houses and
gardens of England. We passed a few miles to the south of Karytena, with
its wonderful, and apparently impregnable Frankish fortress perched like
an eagle’s nest on the top of a huge cliff, from which there must be a
splendid outlook not only down the valley of Megalopolis, but into the
northern passes from Achaia, and the mountains of Elis. I can conceive no
military post more important to the Arcadian plain, and yet it seems to
have attained no celebrity in ancient history. From this fortress to the
southern end of the plain, where the passes lead to Sparta and to northern
Messene, there lies extended a very rich vein of country about twenty-five
miles long, and ten or twelve broad, with some undulation, but practically
a plain, well irrigated with rapid rivers, and waving with deep grass and
green wheat. There are flourishing villages scattered along the slopes of
the mountains, and all the district seems thoroughly tilled, except the
region south of the town, where forests of olives give a wilder tone to
the landscape.

I confess I had not understood the history of the celebrated foundation of
Megalopolis, until I came to study the features of this plain. Here, as
elsewhere, personal acquaintance with the geography of the country is the
necessary condition of a living knowledge of its history. As is well
known, immediately after the battle of Leuctra the Arcadians proceeded to
build this metropolis, as a safeguard or makeweight against the
neighboring power of Sparta. Pausanias, who is very full and instructive
on the founding of the city, tells us that the founders came from the
chief towns of Arcadia—Tegea, Mantinea, Kleitor, and Mænalus. But these
cities had no intention of merging themselves in the new capital. In fact,
Mantinea and Tegea were in themselves fully as important a check on Sparta
in their own valley, and were absolutely necessary to hold the passes
northward to Argos, which lay in that direction. But the nation insisted
upon all the village populations in and around the western plain (which
hitherto had possessed no leading city) amalgamating into Megalopolis, and
deserting their ancient homes. Many obeyed; Pausanias enumerates about
forty of them. Those who refused were exiled, or even massacred by the
enraged majority. Thus there arose suddenly the _great city_, the latest
foundation of a city in Classical Greece. But in his account it seems to
me that Pausanias has omitted to take sufficient note of the leading
spirit of all the movement—the Theban Epaminondas. No doubt, the
traveller’s Arcadian informants were too thoroughly blinded by national
vanity to give him the real account, if indeed, they knew it themselves.
They represented it as the spontaneous movement of the nation, and even
stated it to have been done in imitation of Argos, which in older times,
when in almost daily danger of Spartan war, had abolished all the
townships through Argolis, and thus increased its power and consolidated
its population.

But the advice and support of Epaminondas, which made him the real
founder, point to another model. The traveller who comes, after he has
seen northern Greece, into the plain of Megalopolis, is at once struck
with its extraordinary likeness to that of Thebes. There is the same
circuit of mountains, the same undulation in the plain, the same abundance
of water, the same attractive sites on the slopes for the settlements of
men. It was not then Argos, with its far remote and not very successful
centralization, but Thebes, which was the real model; and the idea was
brought out into actuality not by Arcadian but by Theban statesmanship.
Any Theban who had visited the plain could not but have this policy
suggested to him by the memory of his own home. But here Epaminondas seems
to have concealed his influence, and carried out his policy through
Arcadian agents, merely sending 1000 Thebans, under Pammenes, to secure
his allies against hostile disturbances, whereas he proceeded to the
foundation of Messene in person, and with great circumstance, as the
dreams and oracles, the discussions about the site, and the pomp at the
ceremony amply show, even in the cold narrative of Pausanias. But
Megalopolis, though a great and brilliant experiment, was not a lasting
success. It was laid out on too large a scale, and in after years became
rather a great wilderness than a great city.(143) It was full of splendid
buildings—the theatre, even now, is one of the most gigantic in Greece.
But the violences of its foundation, which tore from their homes and
household gods many citizens of ancient and hallowed sites, were never
forgotten. It was long a leading city in politics, but never became a
favorite residence, and fell early into decay. “Although,” says Pausanias
(8. 33), “the _great city_ was founded with all zeal by the Arcadians, and
with the brightest expectations on the part of the Greeks, I am not
astonished that it has lost all its elegance and ancient splendor, and
most of it is now ruined, for I know that Providence is pleased to work
perpetual change, and that all things alike, both strong and weak, whether
coming into life or passing into nothingness, are changed by a Fortune
which controls them with an iron necessity. Thus Mycenæ, Nineveh, and the
Bœotian Thebes are for the most part completely deserted and destroyed,
but the name of Thebes has descended to the mere acropolis and very few
inhabitants. Others, formerly of extraordinary wealth, the Egyptian Thebes
and the Minyan Orchomenus and Delos, the common mart of the Greeks, are
some of them inferior in wealth to that of a private man of not the
richest class; while Delos, being deprived of the charge of the Oracle by
the Athenians who settled there, is, as regards Delians, depopulated. At
Babylon the temple of Belus remains, but of this Babylon, once the
greatest city under the sun, there is nothing left but the wall, as there
is of Tiryns in Argolis. These the Deity has reduced to naught. But the
city of Alexander in Egypt, and of Seleucus on the Orontes, built the
other day, have risen to such greatness and prosperity, because Fortune
favors them.... Thus the affairs of men have their seasons, and are by no
means permanent.” These words of Pausanias have but increased in force
with the lapse of centuries. The whole ancient capital of the Arcadians
has well-nigh disappeared. The theatre, cut out from the deep earthen
river bank, and faced along the wings with massive masonry, is still
visible, though overgrown with shrubs; and the English school of Athens is
now prosecuting its exploration (1892).

The ancient town lay on both sides of the river Helisson, which is a broad
and silvery stream, but not difficult to ford, as we saw it in spring, and
Pausanias mentions important public buildings on both banks. Now there
seems nothing but a mound, called the tomb of Philopœmen, on the north
side, with a few scanty foundations. On the south side the stylobate of at
least one temple is still almost on the level of the soil, and myriads of
fragments of baked clay tell us that this material was largely used in the
walls of a city where a rich alluvial soil afforded a very scanty supply
of stone—a difficulty rare in Greece. The modern town lies a mile to the
south of the river, and quite clear of the old site, so that excavations
can be made without considerable cost, and with good hope of results. But
the absence of any really archaic monument has, till recently, damped the
ardor of the archæologists.

The aspect of the present Megalopolis is very pleasing. Its streets are
wide and clean, though for the most part grown over with grass, and a
single dark green cypress takes, as it were, the place of a spire among
the flat roofs. We found the town in holiday, and the inhabitants—at least
the men—in splendid attire. For the women of the Morea have, alas!
abandoned their national costume, and appear in tawdry and ill-made
dresses. Even the men who have travelled adopt the style of third-rate
Frenchmen or Germans, and go about in tall hats, with a dirty gray plaid
wrapped about their shoulders. To see these shoddy-looking persons among a
crowd of splendid young men in Palikar dress, with the erect carriage and
kingly mien which that very tight costume produces, is like seeing a
miserable street cur among a pack of fox-hounds. And yet we were informed
that, for political reasons, and in order to draw the Greeks from their
isolation into European habits, the national dress is now forbidden in the

We were welcomed with excellent hospitality in the town, and received by a
fine old gentleman, whose sons, two splendid youths in full costume,
attended us in person. Being people of moderate means, they allowed us,
with a truer friendliness than that of more ostentatious hosts, to pay for
the most of the materials we required, which they got for us of the best
quality, at the lowest price, and cooked and prepared them for us in the
house. We inquired of the father what prospects were open to his handsome
sons, who seemed born to be soldiers—the ornaments of a royal pageant in
peace, the stay of panic in battle. He complained that there was no scope
for their energies. Of course, tilling of the soil could never satisfy
them. One of them was secretary to the _Demarchus_, on some miserable
salary. He had gone as far as Alexandria to seek his fortune, but had come
home again, with the tastes and without the wealth of a rich townsman. So
they are fretting away their life in idleness. I fear that such cases are
but too common in the country towns of Greece.

The people brought us to see many pieces of funeral slabs, of marble
pillars, and of short and late inscriptions built into house walls. They
also sold us good coins of Philip of Macedon at a moderate price. The
systematic digging about the old site undertaken by the English school
will probably bring to light many important remains.(144) There is a
carriage road from Megalopolis to Argos, but the portion inside the town
was then only just finished, so we preferred riding as far as Tripoli.
Travellers now landing at Argos will find it quite practicable to drive
from the coast to this central plain of Arcadia, and then begin their
riding. There is now, alas! a railway from Argos to Tripoli in progress.
By this means even ladies can easily cross the Morea. Two days’ driving to
Megalopolis, two days’ riding to Olympia, and an easy day’s drive and
train to Katakalo, would be the absolute time required for the transit.
But the difficulty is still to find a comfortable night’s lodging between
the first and second day’s ride, both of them long and fatiguing journeys.
Andritzena is too near Megalopolis, and not to be recommended without
introductions. But there is probably some village on another route which
would afford a half-way house. From Tripoli and from Megalopolis, which
command their respective plains, excursions could be made to Mantinea, to
Sparta, and best of all to Kalamata, where a coasting steamer calls

  [Illustration: A Greek Peasant in National Costume]

As we rode up the slopes of Mount Mænalus, which separates the plain of
Tegea from that of Megalopolis, we often turned to admire the splendid
view beneath, and count the numerous villages now as of old under the
headship of the _great town_. The most striking feature was doubtless the
snowy ridge of Taygetus, which reaches southward, and showed us the course
of the Eurotas on its eastern side, along which a twelve hours’ ride
brings the traveller to Sparta. The country into which we passed was wild
and barren in the extreme, and, like most so-called mountains in Greece,
consisted of a series of parallel and of intersecting ridges, with short
valleys or high plateaus between them. This journey, perhaps the bleakest
in all Peloponnesus, until it approaches the plain of Tegea, is through
Mount Mænalus, the ancestral seat of the worship of Pan, and therefore
more than any other tract of Arcadia endowed with pastoral richness and
beauty by the poets. There may be more fertile tracts farther north in
these mountains. There may in ancient times have been forest or verdure
where all is now bare. But in the present day there is no bleaker and more
barren tract than these slopes and summits of Mænalus, which are wholly
different from the richly wooded and well carpeted mountains through which
we had passed on the way from Elis. Even the asphodel, which covers all
the barer and stonier tracts with its fields of bloom, was here scarce and
poor. Dull tortoises, and quick-glancing hoopoes, with their beautiful
head-dresses, were the only tenants of this solitude. There was here and
there a spring of delicious water where we stopped. At one of them the
best of our ponies, an unusually spirited animal, escaped up the mountain,
with one of our royal-looking young friends, who had accompanied us in
full costume, for want of other amusement, in hot pursuit of him. We
thought the chase utterly hopeless, as the pony knew his way perfectly,
and would not let any one approach him on the bare hillsides; so we
consolidated our baggage, and left them to their fate. But about two hours
afterward the young Greek came galloping after us on the pony, which he
had caught—he had accomplished the apparently impossible feat.

At last, after a very hot and stony ride, with less color and less beauty
than we had ever yet found in Greece, we descended into the great valley
of Tripoli, formerly held by Tegea at the south, and Mantinea at the
north. The modern town lies between the ancient sites, but nearer to
Tegea, which is not an hour’s ride distant. The old Tripolis, of which the
villages were absorbed by Megalopolis, is placed by the geographers in
quite another part of Arcadia, near Gortyn, and due north of the western
plain. The vicissitudes of the modern town are well known; its importance
under the Turks, its terrible destruction by the Egyptians in the War of
Liberation;(145) even now, though not a house is more than fifty years
old, it is one of the largest and most important towns in the Morea.

The whole place was in holiday, it being the Greek Easter Day, and
hundreds of men in full costume crowded the large square in the middle of
the town. There is a considerable manufacture of what are commonly called
Turkey carpets, and of silk; but the carpets have of late years lost all
the beauty and harmony of color for which they were so justly admired, and
are now copied from the worst Bavarian work—tawdry and vulgar in the
extreme. They are sold by weight, and are not dear, but they were so
exceedingly ugly that we could not buy them. This decadence of taste is
strange when compared with the woollen work of Arachova. If the colors of
the Arachovite rugs were transferred to the carpets of Tripoli, nothing
could be more effective, or more likely to attract English buyers. I could
not learn that any passing travellers save some Germans, are now ever
tempted to carry them home.

It is my disagreeable duty to state that while the inn at Tripoli was no
better than other country inns in Arcadia, and full of noise and
disturbance, the innkeeper, a gentleman in magnificent costume, with a
crimson vest and gaiters, covered with rich embroidery, also turned out a
disgraceful villain, in fact quite up to the mark of the innkeepers of
whom Plato in his day complained. We had no comforts, we had bad food, we
had the locks of our baggage strained, not indeed by thieves, but by
curious neighbors, who wished to see the contents; we had dinner, a
night’s lodging, and breakfast, for which the host charged us, a party of
four and a servant, 118 francs. And be it remembered that the wine of the
country, which we drank, is cheaper than ale in England. We appealed at
once to the magistrate, a very polite and reasonable man, who cut it down
to 84 francs, still an exorbitant sum, and one which our friend quietly
pocketed without further remonstrance. It is therefore advisable either to
go with introductions, which we had (but our party was too large for
private hospitality), or to stipulate beforehand concerning prices. I
mention such conduct as exceptional—we met it only here, at Sparta, and at
Nauplia; but I fear Tripoli is not an honest district. A coat and rug
which were dropped accidentally from a mule were picked up by the next
wayfarer, who carried them off, though we had passed him but a few hundred
yards, and there could be no doubt as to the owners. Our guides knew his
village, and our property was telegraphed for, but never reappeared.

The site of Tegea, where there is now a considerable village, is more
interesting, being quite close to the passes which lead to Sparta, and
surrounded by a panorama of rocky mountains. The morning was cloudy, and
lights and shades were coursing alternately over the view. There were no
trees, but the surface of the rocks took splendid changing hues—gray,
pink, and deep purple—while the rich soil beneath alternated between
brilliant green and ruddy brown. As the plain of Megalopolis reminded me
of that of Thebes, so this plain of Tegea, though infinitely richer in
soil, yet had many features singularly like that of Attica, especially its
bareness, and the splendid colors of its barren mountains. But the climate
is very different at this great height above the sea; the nights, and even
the mornings and evenings, were still chilly, and the crops are still
green when the harvest has begun in Attica. There are a good many remains,
especially of the necropolis of Tegea, to be found scattered through the
modern village, chiefly in the walls of new houses. One of these reliefs
contained a very good representation of a feast—two men and two women, the
latter sitting, and alternately with the men; the whole work seemed
delicate, and of a good epoch. These and other remains, especially an
excellent relief of a lion, are now gathered into the little museum of the
village of Piali, which occupies part of the ancient site. The circuit of
the ancient walls and the site and plan of the great temple of Athena Alea
have also recently been determined. The temple, rebuilt by Scopas about
395 B. C., had Corinthian as well as Ionic capitals, though externally
Doric in character. Some remarkable remains of the pediment, especially a
boar’s head, are now in the Museum at Athens.

The way to Argos is a good carriage road through the passes of Mount
Parthenion, and is not unlike the bleak ride through Mænalus, though there
is a great deal more tillage, and in some places the hillsides are
terraced with cultivation. It was in this mountain that the god Pan met
the celebrated runner Phidippides, who was carrying his despatch about the
Persian invasion from Athens to Sparta, and told him he would come and
help the Athenians at Marathon. This Mount Parthenion, bleak and bare like
Mount Mænalus, and yet like it peculiarly sacred to Pan, “affords
tortoises most suitable for the making of lyres, which the men who inhabit
the mountains are afraid to catch, nor do they allow strangers to catch
them, for they think them sacred to Pan.” We saw these tortoises, both in
Mænalus and Parthenion, yet to us suggestive not of harmony but of
discord. Two of them were engaged in mortal combat by the road side. They
were rushing at each other, and battering the edges of their shells
together, apparently in the attempt to overturn each other. After a long
and even conflict, one of them fled, pursued by the other at full speed,
indeed far quicker than could be imagined. We watched the battle till we
were tired, and left the pursuer and the pursued in the excitement of
their deadly struggle. The traveller who goes by the new railroad over
this ground will never see sights like this.

These were the principal adventures of our tour across Arcadia. The
following night we rested in real luxury at the house of our old
guest-friend, Dr. Papalexopoulos, whose open mansion had received us two
years before, on our first visit to Argos.

                              CHAPTER XIII.


The Gulf of Corinth is a very beautiful and narrow fiord, with chains of
mountains on either side, through the gaps of which you can see far into
the Morea on one side, and into northern Greece on the other. But the bays
or harbors on either coast are few, and so there was no city able to wrest
the commerce of these waters from old Corinth, which held the keys by land
of the whole Peloponnesus, and commanded the passage from sea to sea. It
is, indeed, wonderful how Corinth did not acquire and maintain the first
position in Greece. It may, perhaps, have done so in the days of
Periander, and we hear at various times of inventions and discoveries in
Corinth, which show that, commercially and artistically, it was among the
leading cities of Greece. But, whenever the relations of the various
powers become clear, as in the Persian or Peloponnesian Wars, we find
Corinth always at the head of the second-rate states, and never among the
first. This is possibly to be accounted for by the predominance of trade
interests, which are the source of such material prosperity that men are
completely engrossed with it, and will not devote time and labor to
politics, or stake their fortunes for the defence of principle. Thus it
seems as if the Corinthians had been the shopkeepers of Greece.

But as soon as the greater powers of Greece decayed and fell away, we find
Corinth immediately taking the highest position in wealth, and even in
importance. The capture of Corinth, in 146 B. C., marks the Roman conquest
of all Greece, and the art-treasures carried to Rome seem to have been as
great and various as those which even Athens could have produced. Its
commercial position was at once assumed by Delos. No sooner had Julius
Cæsar restored and rebuilt the ruined city than it sprang at once again
into importance,(146) while Delos decayed; and among the societies
addressed in the Epistles of St. Paul, none seems to have lived in greater
wealth or luxury. It was, in fact, well-nigh impossible that Corinth
should die. Nature had marked out her site as one of the great
thoroughfares of the old world; and it was not till after centuries of
blighting misrule by the wretched Turks that she sank into the hopeless
decay from which not even another Julius Cæsar could rescue her.(147)

These were our reflections as we passed up the gulf on a splendid summer
evening, the mountains of Arcadia showing on their snowy tops a deep rose
color in the setting sun. And passing by Ægion and Sikyon, we came to
anchor at the harbor of Lechæum. There was a public conveyance which took
the traveller across the isthmus to Kenchreæ, where a steamboat was in
readiness to bring him to Athens. But with the usual absurdity of such
services, no time was allowed for visiting Corinth and its Acropolis.(148)
We, however, stayed for the night in the boat, and started in the morning
for our ride into the Peloponnesus. This arrangement was then necessary,
as the port of Lechæum did not afford the traveller even the luxury of a
decent meal. The Greek steamers are, besides, of considerable interest to
any observant person. They seem always full of passengers with their dogs,
and as the various classes mix indiscriminately on deck, all sorts of
manners, costume, and culture can be easily compared.

The fondness of the Greeks for driving a bargain is often to be noticed.
Thus, a Greek gentleman on this boat, perceiving that we were strangers in
pursuit of art and antiquities, produced two very fine gold coins of
Philip and Alexander, which he offered for £5. That of Philip was
particularly beautiful—a very perfect Greek head in profile, crowned with
laurel, and on the reverse a chariot and four, with the legend,
_Φίλιππος_. Not being a very expert judge of coins, and supposing that he
had asked more than the value, I offered him £2: 10s. for this one, which
was considerably the larger; but he would not take any abatement. He
evidently was not anxious to sell them, but merely took his chance of
getting a good price, and investing it again at better interest. Seeing
that the coin seemed but little heavier than our sovereign, and is not
uncommon in collections, I fancy the price he asked was excessive. The
Athenian shops, which are notorious for their prices to strangers, had
similar coins, for which about £4 was asked. On this, and a thousand other
points, the traveller should be instructed by some competent person before
he sets out. Genuine antiquities seem to me so common in Greece, that
imitations are hardly worth manufacturing. Even with a much greater
market, the country can supply for generations an endless store of real
remains of ancient Greece. But, nevertheless, the prices of these things
are already very high. The ordinary tourist does not infest these shores,
so that the only seekers after them are enthusiasts, who will not hesitate
to give even fancy prices for what they like.

The form of the country, as you ascend from Lechæum to Corinth, is very
marked and peculiar. At some distance from the flat shore the road leads
up through a steep pass of little height, which is cut through a long
ridge of rock, almost like a wall, and over which lies a higher plateau of
land. The same feature is again repeated a mile inland, as the traveller
approaches the site of ancient Corinth. These plateaus, though not lofty,
are well marked, and perfectly distinct, the passes from one up to the
next being quite sufficient to form a strong place of defence against an
attacking force. How far these rocky parapets reach I did not examine.
Behind the highest plateau rises the great cliff on which the citadel was
built. But even from the site of the old city it is easy to obtain a
commanding view of the isthmus, of the two seas, and of the Achæan coast
up to Sikyon.

The traveller who expects to find any sufficient traces of the city of
Periander and of Timoleon, and, I may say, of St. Paul, will be grievously
disappointed. In the middle of the wretched straggling modern village
there stand up seven enormous rough stone pillars of the Doric Order,
evidently of the oldest and heaviest type; and these are the only visible
relic of the ancient city, looking altogether out of place, and almost as
if they had come there by mistake. These pillars, though insufficient to
admit of our reconstructing the temple, are in themselves profoundly
interesting. Their shaft up to the capital is of one block, about
twenty-one feet high and six feet in diameter. It is to be observed that
over these gigantic monoliths the architrave, in which other Greek temples
show the largest blocks, is not in one piece, but two, and made of beams
laid together longitudinally.(149) The length of the shafts (up to the
neck of the capital) measures about four times their diameter, on the
photograph which I possess; I do not suppose that any other Doric pillar
known to us is so stout and short. The material is said almost universally
to be limestone, but if my eyes served me aright, it was a very porous and
now rough sandstone, not the least like the bluish limestone in which the
lions of the gate of Mycenæ are carved. The pillars are said to have been
covered with stucco, and were of course painted. Perhaps even the figures
of the pediment were modelled in clay, as we are told was the case in the
oldest Corinthian temples, when first the fashion came in of thus
ornamenting an otherwise flat and unsightly surface. The great temple of
Pæstum—which is, probably, the next oldest, and certainly the finest
extant specimen of the early Doric style—has no figures in the pediment,
and seems never to have had them, unless, indeed, they were painted in
fresco on the stucco, with which it was probably covered. Those who have
seen the temple at Pæstum are, perhaps, the only visitors who will be able
to frame to themselves an image of the very similar structure at Corinth,
which Turks and earthquakes have reduced to seven columns. There must have
been in it the same simplicity, the same almost Egyptian massiveness, and
yet the same unity of plan and purpose which excludes all idea of
clumsiness or disproportion.

  [Illustration: Temple of Corinth]

The longer one studies the Greek orders of architecture, the more the
conviction grows that the Doric is of all the noblest and the most
natural. When lightened and perfected by the Athenians of Pericles’s time,
it becomes simply unapproachable; but even in older and ruder forms it
seems to me vastly superior to either of the more florid orders. All the
massive temples of Roman times were built in the very ornate Corinthian,
which may almost be called the Græco-Roman, style; but, notwithstanding
their majesty and beauty, they are not to be compared with the severer and
more religious tone of the Doric remains. I may add that the titles by
which the orders are distinguished seem ill-chosen and without meaning,
except, perhaps, that the Ionic was most commonly used, and probably
invented, in Asia Minor. The earliest specimens of the Corinthian Order
are at Epidaurus, Olympia, and Phigalia;(150) the most perfect of the
Doric is at Athens, while Ionic temples are found everywhere. But it is
idle now to attempt to change such definite and well-sanctioned names.

  [Illustration: Scene near Corinth, the Acro-Corinthus in the Distance]

Straight over the site of the town is the great rock known as the
Acro-Corinthus. A winding path leads up on the south-west side to the
Turkish drawbridge and gate, which are now deserted and open; nor is there
a single guard or soldier to watch a spot once the coveted prize of
contending empires. In the days of the Achæan League it was called one of
the fetters of Greece, and indeed it requires no military experience to
see the extraordinary importance of the place. Strabo speaks of the
Peloponnesus as the Acropolis of Greece—Corinth may fairly be called the
Acropolis of the Peloponnesus. It runs out boldly from the surging
mountain-chains of the peninsula, like an outpost or sentry, guarding all
approach from the north. In days when news was transmitted by fire
signals, we can imagine how all the southern country must have depended on
the watch upon the rock of Corinth. It is separated by a wide plain of
land, ending in the isthmus, from the Geranean Mountains, which come from
the north and belong to a different system.

Next to the view from the heights of Parnassus, I suppose the view from
this citadel is held the finest in Greece.(151) I speak here of the large
and diverse views to be obtained from mountain heights. To me, personally,
such a view as that from the promontory of Sunium, or, above all, from the
harbor of Nauplia, exceeds in beauty and interest any bird’s-eye prospect.
Any one who looks at the map of Greece will see how the Acro-Corinthus
commands coasts, islands, and bays. The day was too hazy when we stood
there to let us measure the real limits of the view, and I cannot say how
far the eye may reach in a suitable atmosphere. But a host of islands, the
southern coasts of Attica and Bœotia, the Acropolis of Athens, Salamis and
Ægina, Helicon and Parnassus, and endless Ætolian peaks were visible in
one direction; while, as we turned round, all the waving reaches of
Arcadia and Argolis, down to the approaches toward Mantinea and Karytena,
lay stretched out before us. The plain of Argos, and the sea at that side,
are hidden by the mountains.(152) But without going into detail, this much
may be said, that if a man wants to realize the features of these coasts,
which he has long studied on maps, half an hour’s walk about the top of
this rock will give him a geographical insight which months of reading
could not attain.

The surface is very large, at least half a mile each way, and is covered
inside the bounding wall with the remains of a considerable Turkish town,
now in ruins and totally deserted, but evidently of no small importance in
the days of the War of Liberation. The building of this town was a great
misfortune to antiquarians, for every available remnant of old Greek work
was used as material for the modern houses. At all parts of the walls may
be seen white marble fragments of pillars and architraves, and I have no
doubt that a careful dilapidation of the modern abandoned houses would
amply repay the outlay. There are several pits for saving rain-water, and
some shallow underground passages of which we could not make out the
purpose. The pits or tanks must have been merely intended to save trouble,
for about the middle of the plateau, which sinks considerably toward the
south, we were brought to a passage into the ground, which led by a rapid
descent to the famous well of Pirene, the water of which was so perfectly
clear that we walked into it on going down the steps, as there was
actually no water-line visible. It was twelve or fourteen feet deep, and
perhaps twenty-five feet long, so far as we could make it out in the
twilight underground. The structure of marble over the fountain is the
only piece of old Greek work we could find on the rock. It consists of
three supports, like pillars, made of several blocks, and over them a sort
of architrave. Then there is a gap in the building, and from the large
number of fragments of marble lying at the bottom of the well we concluded
that the frieze and cornice had fallen out. The pediment, or rather its
upper outline, is still in its place, clear of the architrave, and built
into the rock so as to remain without its supporting cornice.

There are numerous inscriptions as you descend, which I did not copy,
because I was informed they had already been published, though I have not
since been able to find them; but they are, of course, to be found in some
of the Greek archæological newspapers. They appeared to me at the time to
be either hopelessly illegible, or suspiciously clear. This great well,
springing up near the top of a barren rock, is very curious, especially as
we could see no outlet.(153) The water was deep under the surface, and
there was no sign of welling up or of outflow anywhere; but to make sure
of this would have required a long and careful ride round the whole ridge.
Our guide-book spoke of rushing streams and waterfalls tumbling down the
rock, which we searched for in vain, and which may have been caused by a
winter rainfall without any connection with the fountain.(154)

The Isthmus, which is really some three or four miles north of Corinth,
was of old famous for the Isthmian games, as well as for the noted
_diolkos_, or road for dragging ships across. The games were founded about
586 B. C., when a strong suspicion had arisen throughout Greece concerning
the fairness of the Elean awards at Olympia, and for a long time Eleans
were excluded. In later days the games became very famous, the Argives or
Cleonæans laying claim to celebrate them. It was at these games that
Philip V. heard of the great defeat of the Romans by Hannibal, and
resolved to enter into that colossal quarrel which brought the Romans into
Macedonia. The site of the stadium, and of the temple of Isthmian
Poseidon, and of the fortified sanctuary, were excavated and mapped out by
M. Monceaux in 1883. A plan and details are to be found in the French
_Guide Joanne_.(155) Close by I saw in 1889 the interrupted work of the
canal which was at last to connect the eastern and western gulfs, and
which when well-nigh completed found its funds dissipated by the terrible
crash of the Credit Mobilier in Paris, and now awaits another enterprise.
The idea is old and often discussed, like that of the Isthmus of Suez. The
Emperor Nero actually began the work, and the engineers of to-day resumed
the cutting at the very spot where his workmen left off.

But if this very expensive work might have been of great service when
sailing-ships feared to round the notorious Cape of Malea, and when there
was great trade from the Adriatic to the ports of Thessaly and Macedonia,
surely all these advantages are now superseded. Steamers coming from the
Straits of Messina would pay nothing to take the route of the Isthmus in
preference to rounding the Morea, and the main line of traffic is no
longer to the Northern Levant, but to Alexandria. Even goods despatched
from Trieste or Venice may now be landed at Patras, and sent on by rail to
Athens; so that the canal will now only serve the smallest fraction of the
Levantine trade; and even then, if the charges be at all adequate to the
labor, will be avoided by circumnavigation. Amid the promotion of many
useful schemes of traffic, this undertaking seems to me to stand out by
its want of common sense. Indeed, had it been really important at any
date, we may be sure that the Hellenistic Sovrans or Roman capitalists
would have carried it out. But in classical days their smaller ships seem
to have been dragged across upon movable rollers by slaves without much

But we had already delayed too long upon this citadel, where we would have
willingly spent a day or two at greater leisure. Our guide urged us to
start on our long ride, which was not to terminate till we reached the
town of Argos, some thirty miles over the mountains.(156)

The country into which we passed was very different from any we had yet
seen, and still it was intensely Greek. All the hills and valleys showed a
very white, chalky soil, which actually glittered like snow where it was
not covered with verdure or trees. Road, as usual, there was none; but all
these hills and ravines, chequered with snowy white, were clothed with
shining arbutus trees, and shrubs resembling dwarf holly. The purple and
the white cistus, which is so readily mistaken for a wild rose,(157) were
already out of blow, and showed but a rare blossom. Here and there was a
plain or valley with great fields of thyme about the arbutus, and there
were herds of goats wandering through the shrubs, and innumerable bees
gathering honey from the thyme. The scene was precisely such as Theocritus
describes in the uplands of Sicily; but in all our rides through that
delightful island(158) we had never found the thyme and arbutus, the goats
and bees, in such truly Theocritean perfection. We listened in vain for
the shepherd’s pipe, and sought in vain for some Thyrsis beguiling his
time with the oaten reed. It was almost noontide—noon, the hour of awe and
mystery to the olden shepherd, when Pan slept his mid-day sleep,(159) and
the wanton satyr was abroad, prowling for adventure through the silent
woods; so that, in pagan days, we might have been afraid of the
companionship of melody. But now the silence was not from dread of Pan’s
displeasure, but that the sun’s fiercer heat had warned the shepherds to
depart to the snowy heights of Cyllene, where they dwell all the summer in
alpine huts, and feed their flocks on the upland pastures, which are
covered with snow till late in the spring.

They had left behind them a single comrade, with his wife and little
children, to protect the weak and the lame till their return. We found
this family settled in their winter quarters, which consisted of a square
enclosure of thorns _θρίγκος ἀχέρδου_, built up with stones, round a very
old spreading olive-tree. At the foot of the tree were pots and pans, and
other household goods, with some skins and rude rugs lying on the ground.
There was no attempt at a roof or hut of any kind, though, of course, it
might be set up in a moment, as we had seen in the defiles of Parnassus,
with skins hung over three sticks—two uprights, and the third joining
their tops, so as to form a ridge.

To make the scene Homeric,(160) as well as Theocritean, two large and very
savage dogs rushed out upon us at our approach, but the shepherd hurried
out after them, and drove them off by pelting them vigorously with stones.
“Surely,” he said, turning to us breathlessly from his exertions, “you had
met, O strangers! with some mischief, if I had not been here.” The dogs
disappeared, in deep anger, into the thicket, and, though we stayed at the
place for some time, never reappeared to threaten or to pursue us on our
departure. We talked as best we could to the gentle shepherdess, one of
whose children had a fearfully scalded hand, for which we suggested
remedies to her occult and wonderful, though at home so trite as to be
despised by the wise. She gave us in return great bowls of heated milk,
which was being made into cheese, and into various kinds of curds, which
are the very best produce of the country. They would take no money for
their hospitality, but did not object to our giving the children coins to
play with—to them, I am sure, a great curiosity.

Most of our journey was not, however, through pastures and plains, but up
and down steep ravines, where riding was so difficult and dangerous that
we were often content to dismount and lead our horses. Every hour or two
brought us to a fountain springing from a rock, and over it generally a
great spreading fig-tree, while the water was framed in on both sides with
a perfect turf of maiden-hair fern. The only considerable valley which we
saw was that of Cleonæ, which we passed some miles on our left, and about
which there was a great deal of golden corn, and many shady plane-trees.
Indeed, the corn was so plentiful that we saw asses grazing in it quite
contentedly, without any interference from thrifty farmers. We had seen a
very similar sight in Sicily, where the enormous deep-brown Sicilian oxen,
with their forward-pointing horns, were stretching their huge forms in
fields of half-ripe wheat, which covered all the plain without fence or
division. There, too, it seemed as if this was the cheapest grazing, and
as if it were unprofitable labor to drive the cattle to some untilled
pasture. As for the treading-out of corn, I saw it done at Argos by a
string of seven horses abreast, with two young foals at the outside,
galloping round a small circular threshing-floor in the open field, upon
which the ripe sheaves had been laid in radiating order. I have no doubt
that a special observer of farming operations would find many interesting
survivals both in Greece and the Two Sicilies.

Toward evening, after many hours of travel, we turned aside on our way
down the plain of Argos, to see the famous ruins of Mycenæ. But we will
now pass them by, as the discoveries of Dr. Schliemann, and a second visit
to the ruins after his excavations, have opened up so many questions, that
a separate chapter must be devoted to them.

The fortress of Tiryns, which I have already mentioned, and which we
visited next day, may fitly be commented on before approaching the
younger, or at least more artistically finished, Mycenæ. It stands several
miles nearer to the sea, in the centre of the great plain of Argos, and
upon the only hillock which there affords any natural scope for
fortification. Instead of the square, or at least hewn, well-fitted blocks
of Mycenæ, we have here the older style of rude masses piled together as
best they would fit, the interstices being filled up with smaller
fragments, and, as we now know, faced with mortar. This is essentially
Cyclopean building.(161) There is a smaller castle of rectangular shape,
on the southern and highest part of the oblong hillock, the whole of which
is surrounded by a lower wall, which takes in both this and the northern
longer part of the ridge. It looked, in fact, like a hill-fort, with a
large enclosure for cattle around it.

Just below the north-east angle of the inner fort, and where the lower
circuit is about to leave it, there is an entrance, with a massive
projection of huge stones, looking like a square tower, on its right side,
so as to defend it from attack. The most remarkable feature in the walls
are the covered galleries, constructed within them at the south-east
angle. The whole thickness of the wall is often over twenty feet, and in
the centre a rude arched way is made—or rather, I believe, two parallel
ways; but the inner gallery has fallen in, and is almost untraceable—and
this merely by piling together the great stones so as to leave an opening,
which narrows at the top in the form of a Gothic arch. Within the passage
there are five niches in the outer side, made of rude arches, in the same
way as the main passage. The length of the gallery I measured, and found
it twenty-five yards, at the end of which it is regularly walled up, so
that it evidently did not run all the way round. The niches are now no
longer open, but seem to have been once windows, or at least to have had
some look-out points into the hill country.

  [Illustration: Gallery at Tiryns]

It is remarkable that, although the walls are made of perfectly rude
stones, the builders have managed to use so many smooth surfaces looking
outward, that the face of the wall seems quite clean and well-built.(162)
At the south-east corner of the higher and inner level we found a large
block of red granite, quite different from the rough gray stone of the
building, with its surface square and smooth, and all the four sides
neatly bevelled, like the portal stones at the treasury of Atreus. I found
two other similar blocks close by, which were likewise cut smooth on the
surface, and afterward, in company with Dr. Schliemann, a large Doric
capital. The intention of these stones we could not guess, but they show
that some ornament, and some more finished work, must have once existed in
or near the inner building. Though both the main entrances have massive
towers of stone raised on their right, there is a small postern at the
opposite or west side, not more than four feet wide, which has no defences
whatever, and is a mere hole in the wall.

The whole ruin was covered in summer with thistles, such as English people
can hardly imagine. The needles at the points of the leaves are fully an
inch long, extremely fine and strong, and sharper than any two-edged
sword. No clothes except a leather dress can resist them. They pierce
everywhere with the most stinging pain, and make antiquarian research in
this famous spot a veritable martyrdom, which can only be supported by a
very burning love for knowledge, or the sure hope of future fame. The
rough masses of stone are so loose that one’s footing is insecure, and
when the traveller loses his balance, and falls among the thistles, he
will wish that he had gone to Jericho instead, or even fallen among
thieves on the way.

Such was the aspect of Tiryns when I visited it in the years 1875 and in
1877. In 1884 I went there again with Dr. Schliemann, who was uncovering
the palace on the height. The results of his discoveries are so important
that I shall review them in another chapter.

We rode down from Mycenæ to Argos late in the evening, along the broad and
limpid stream of the river Inachus, which made us wonder at the old epic
epithet, _very thirsty_, given to this celebrated plain.(163) Though the
night was getting dark, we could see and smell great fields of wild
rose-red oleander, blooming along the river banks, very like the
rhododendrons of our demesnes. And, though not a bird was to be heard, the
tettix, so dear to the old Greeks, and so often the theme of their poets,
was making the land echo with its myriad chirping. Aristophanes speaks of
it as crying out with mad love of the noonday sun.(164) We found it no
less eager and busy in late twilight, and far into the night. I can quite
understand how the old Greek, who hated silence, and hated solitude still
more, loved this little creature, which kept him company even in the time
of sleep, and gave him all the feelings of cheerfulness and homeliness
which we northerns, in our wretched climate, must seek from the cricket at
the fireside.

At ten o’clock we rode into the curious dark streets of Argos, and, after
some difficulty, were shown to the residence of M. Papalexopoulos, who
volunteered to be our host—a medical man of education and ability, who, in
spite of a very recent family bereavement, opened his house to the
stranger, and entertained us with what may well be called in that country
real splendor. I may notice that he alone, of all the country residents
whom we met, gave us wine not drenched with resin—a very choice and
remarkable red wine, for which the plain of Argos is justly celebrated. In
this comfortable house we slept, I may say, in solitary grandeur, and
awoke in high spirits, without loss or damage, to visit the wonders of
this old centre of legend and of history.

It is very easy to see why all the Greek myths have placed the earliest
empires, the earliest arts, and the earliest conquests, in the plains of
Argolis. They speak, too, of this particular plain having the benefit of
foreign settlers and of foreign skill. If we imagine, as we must do, the
older knowledge of the East coming up by way of Cyprus and Crete into
Greek waters, there can be no doubt that the first exploring mariners,
reaching the barren island of Cerigo, and the rocky shore of Laconia,
would feel their way up this rugged and inhospitable coast, till they
suddenly came in sight of the deep bay of Argolis, stretching far into the
land, with a broad plain and alluvial soil beyond its deepest recess.
Here, first, they would find a suitable landing-place, and a country fit
for tillage; and here, accordingly, we should expect to find, as we
actually do, the oldest relics of habitation, beyond the huts of wandering
shepherds or of savages. So the legend tells us that Cyclopes came from
Lycia to King Prœtus of Argos, or rather of the Argive plain, and built
him the giant fort of Tiryns.(165)

This was evidently the oldest great settlement. Then, by some change of
fortune, it seems that Mycenæ grew in importance, not impossibly because
of the unhealthy site of Tiryns, where the surroundings are now low and
marshy, and were, probably, even more so in those days. But the epoch of
Mycenæ’s greatness also passed away in historical times; and the third
city in this plain came forward as its ruler—Argos, built under the huge
Larissa, or hill-fort, which springs out from the surrounding mountains,
and stands like an outpost over the city.(166) Even now it is still an
important town, and maintains, in the midst of its smiling and
well-cultivated plain, a certain air of brightness and prosperity which is
seldom to be seen elsewhere through the country.

We went first to visit the old theatre, certainly the most beautifully
situated,(167) and one of the largest I had ever seen. It is far finer
than even that of Syracuse, and whoever has seen this latter will know
what such a statement implies. If the Greek theatre at Syracuse has a view
of the great harbor and the coast around, this view can only have been
made interesting by crowded shipping and flitting sails, for the whole
incline of the country is very gradual, and not even the fort of Ortygia
presents any bold or striking outline.

The Argive theatre was built to hold an enormous audience. We counted
sixty-six tiers of seats, in four divisions—thus differing from the
description of Colonel Leake, which we had before us at the time. As he
observes, there may be more seats still covered with rubbish at the
bottom—indeed this, like all the rest of Argos, ought to yield a rich
harvest to the antiquarian, being still almost virgin soil, and never yet
ransacked with any care. From the higher seats of the theatre of Argos,
which rise much steeper than those of Syracuse, there is a most enchanting
prospect to the right, over a splendid rich plain, covered, when we first
saw it, with the brilliant emerald-green of young vines and tobacco
plants, varied with the darker hue of plane-trees and cypresses. After the
wilderness through which we had passed this prospect was intensely
delightful. Straight before us, and to the left, was the deep blue bay of
Argolis, with the white fortifications of Nauplia crowning its picturesque
Acropolis. All around us, in every other direction, was a perfect
amphitheatre of lofty mountains. This bay is, for its size, the most
beautiful I ever saw, and the opinion which we then formed was
strengthened by a sunset view of it from the other side—from Nauplia—which
was, if possible, even finer, and combined all the elements which are
conceivable in a perfect landscape. Near the theatre there is a remnant of
Cyclopean building, apparently the angle of a wall, made of huge uncut
blocks, like those at Tiryns. There are said to be some similar
substructures on the Larissa, which is, however, itself a mediæval ruin,
and therefore, to us, of slight interest.

All the children about brought us coins, of every possible date and
description, but were themselves more interesting than their coins. For
here, in southern Greece, in a very hot climate, in a level plain, every
second child is fair, with blue eyes, and looks like a transplanted
northern, and not like the offspring of a southern race. After the deep
brown Italian children, which strike the traveller by their southernness
all the way from Venice to Reggio, nothing is more curious than these
fairer children, under a sunnier and hotter sky; and it reminds the
student at once how, even in Homer, yellow hair and a fair complexion is
noted as belonging to the King of Sparta. This type seems to me common
wherever there has not arisen a mixed population, such as that of Athens
or Syra, and where the inhabitants appear to live as they have done for
centuries. Fallmerayer’s cleverness and undoubted learning persuaded many
people, and led many more to suspect, that the old Greek race was
completely gone, and that the present people were a mixture of Turks,
Albanians, and Slavs. To this many answers suggest themselves,—to me,
above all things, the strange and accurate resemblances in character
between ancient and modern Greeks,—resemblances which permeate all their
life and habits.

But this is a kind of evidence not easily stated in a brief form, and
consists after all of a large number of minute details. The real
refutation of Fallmerayer’s theory consists in exposing the alleged
evidence upon which it rests. He puts forth with great confidence
citations from MS. authorities at Athens, which have not been verified;
nay, he is even proved to have been the dupe of some clever forgeries. A
careful examination of the scanty allusions to the state of Greece during
the time of its supposed _Slavisation_, and the evidences obtained from
the lives of the Greek saints who belong to this epoch, have proved to
demonstration that the country was never wholly occupied by foreigners, or
deserted by its old population. The researches of Ross, Ellissen, and
lastly of Hopf,(168) have really set the matter at rest; but,
unfortunately, English students will for some time to come be misled by
the evident leaning of Finlay toward the Slav hypothesis. As has been
fairly remarked by later critics, Finlay did not test the documents cited
by Fallmerayer; and until this was done, the case seemed conclusive enough
for the total devastation of Greece during four hundred years, and its
occupation by a new population. But all this is now relegated to the
sphere of fable. There is, of course, a large admixture of Slavs and
Albanians in the country; the constant invasions and partial conquests for
several centuries could not but introduce it. Still, Greece has remained
Greek in the main, and the foreigners have not been able to hold their own
against the stronger nationality of the true Hellenes.

Another weighty argument seems to me to be from language.(169) There is
really very little difference between the language of Plato and that of
the present Greeks. There is, of course, development and decay, there are
changes of idiom and corruptions of form, there are a good many Slav
names, but the language is essentially the same. The present Greek will
read the old classics with the same trouble with which our peasants could
read Chaucer. It is, in fact, most remarkable, assuming that they are the
same people, how their language has not changed more. Had the invaders
during the Middle Ages really become the main body of the population, how
is it that they abandoned their own tongue, and adopted that of the
Greeks? Surely there must be at least a fusion of different tongues, if
the population were considerably leavened. There are still Albanian
districts in Greece. They are to be found even in Attica, and close to
Athens. But these populations are still tolerably distinct from the
Greeks; their language is quite different, and unintelligible to Greeks
who have not learned it.

Again, the Greek language is not one which spread itself easily among
foreigners, nor did it give rise to a number of daughter languages, like
the Latin. In many Hellenic colonies, barbarians learned to speak Greek
with the Greeks, and to adopt their language at the time; but in all these
cases, when the Greek influence vanished the Greek language decayed, and
finally made way for the old tongue which it had temporarily displaced.
Thus the evidence of history seems to suggest that no foreigners were ever
really able to make that subtle tongue their own; and even now we can feel
the force of what Aristotle says—that however well a stranger might speak,
you could recognize him at once by his use of the particles.

These considerations seem to me conclusive that, whatever admixtures may
have taken place, the main body of the people are what their language
declares them to be, essentially Greeks. Any careful observer will not
fail to see through the wilder parts of the Morea types and forms equal to
those which inspired the old artists. There are still among the shepherd
boys splendid lads who would adorn a Greek gymnasium, or excite the praise
of all Greece at the Olympian games. There are still maidens fit to carry
the sacred basket of Athene. Above all, there are still many old men fit
to be chosen for their stalwart beauty to act as _thallophori_ in the
Panathenaic procession.

These thoughts often struck us as we went through the narrow and crowded
streets of Argos, in search of the peculiar produce of the place—raw
silks, rich-colored carpets and rugs, and ornamental shoes in dull red
“morocco” leather.

We were taken to see the little museum of the town—then a very small one,
with a single inscription, and eight or ten pieces of sculpture. But the
inscription, which is published, is exceedingly clear and legible, and the
fragments of sculpture are all both peculiar and excellent. There is a
female head of great beauty, about half life-size, and from the best, or
certainly a very good, period of Greek art, which has the curious
peculiarity of one eye being larger than the other. It is not merely the
eyeball, but the whole setting of the eye, which is slightly enlarged, nor
does it injure the general effect. The gentlemen who showed this head to
me, and who were all very enthusiastic about it, had indeed not noticed
this feature, but recognized it at once when pointed out to them. Beside
this trunkless head is a headless trunk of equal beauty—a female figure
without arms, and draped with exquisite grace, in a manner closely
resembling the famous Venus of Melos. The figure has one foot slightly
raised, and set upon a duck, as is quite plain from the general form of
the bird, though the webbed feet are much worn away, and the head gone. M.
Émile Burnouf told me that this attribute of a duck would determine it to
be either Athene or Artemis. If so, the general style of the figure, which
is very young and slight, speaks in favor of its being an Artemis. I trust
photographs of this excellent statue may soon be made, and that it may
become known to art students in Europe.

We also noticed a relief larger than life, on a square block of white
marble, of the head of Medusa. The face is calm and expressionless,
exactly the reverse of Lionardo da Vinci’s matchless painting, but archaic
in character, and of good and clear workmanship. The head-dress, which has
been finished only on the right side, is very peculiar, and consists of
large scales starting from the forehead, and separating into two plaits,
which become serpents’ bodies, and descend in curves as low as the chin,
then turning upward and outward again, till they end in well-formed
serpents’ heads. The left serpent is carved out perfectly in relief, but
not covered with scales.

I was unable to obtain any trustworthy account of the finding of these
marbles, but they were all fresh discoveries, especially the Medusa head,
which had been only lately brought to the museum, when we were first at
Argos. Future visitors will find this valuable collection much increased;
and here in this important town it is advisable that there should be a
local museum.

If we look at Dorian art, as contrasted with Ionian, there can be no doubt
that the earliest centre was Corinth in the Peloponnesus, to which various
discoveries in art are specially ascribed. In architecture, there were
many leading ideas, such as the setting up of clay figures in the tympanum
of their temples, and the use of panels or soffits, as they were called,
in ceilings, which came first from Corinth. But when we descend to
better-known times, there are three other Dorian states which quite
eclipse Corinth, I suppose because the trading instinct, as is sometimes
the case, crushed out or weakened her enthusiasm for art. These states are
Ægina, Sikyon, and Argos. Sikyon rose to greatness under the gentle and
enlightened despotism of Orthagoras and his family, of whom it was noticed
that they retained their sovereignty longer than any other dynasty of
despots in Greece. Ægina seems to have disputed the lead with Corinth as a
commercial mart, from the days of Pheidon, whose coinage of money was
always said to have been first practised at Ægina.(170) The prominence of
Ægina in Pindar’s Epinikian Odes shows not only how eagerly men practised
athletics, and loved renown there, but how well able they were to pay for
expensive monuments of their fame. Their position in the Persian war,
among the bravest of the Greeks, corroborates the former part of my
statement; the request of an Ionian Greek lady, captured in the train of
Mardonius, to be transported to Ægina, adds evidence for the second, as it
shows that, to a person of this description, Ægina was the field for a
rich harvest, and we wonder how its reputation can have been greater in
this respect than that of Corinth.(171) But, a short time after, the rise
of the Athenian naval power crushed the greatness of Ægina, and it sank
into insignificance, and was absorbed into the Attic power.

Thus Sikyon and Argos remained, and it was precisely these two towns which
produced a special school of art, of which Polycletus was the most
distinguished representative. Dorian sculpture had originally started with
figures of athletes, which were dedicated at the temples, and were a sort
of collateral monument to the odes of poets—more durable, no doubt, in the
minds of the offerers, but, as time has shown, perishable and gone, while
the winged words of the poet have not lost even the first bloom of their
freshness. However, in contrast to the flowing robes and
delicately-chiselled features of the Ionic school, the Dorians reproduced
the naked human figure with great accuracy; while in the face they adhered
to a stiff simplicity, regardless of individual features, and still more
regardless of any expression save that of a vacant smile. This type, found
in its most perfect development in the Æginetan marbles, was what lay
before Polycletus, when he rose to greatness. He was the contemporary and
rival of Phidias, and is said to have defeated him in a competition for
the temple of Hera at Samos, where two or three of the greatest sculptors
modelled a wounded Amazon, and Polycletus was adjudged the first place.
There is some probability that one of the Amazons now in the Vatican is a
copy of this famous work; and, in spite of a clumsily-restored head and
arms, we can see in this figure the great simplicity and truth of the
artist in treating a rather ungrateful subject—that of a very powerful and
muscular woman.

The Argive school, owing to its traditions, affected single figures much
more than groups; and this, no doubt, was the main contrast between
Polycletus and Phidias—that, however superior the Argive might be in a
single figure, the genius of the Athenian was beyond all comparison in
using sculpture for groups and processions as an adjunct to architecture.
But there was also in the sitting statue of Zeus, at Olympia, a certain
majesty which seems not to have been equalled by any other known sculptor.
The Attic artist who appears, however, to have been much nearer to
Polycletus in style was Myron, whose _Discobolus_ has reached us in some
splendid copies, and who seems to have had all the Dorian taste for
representing single athletic figures with more life and more daring action
about them than was attempted by Polycletus.(172)

Herodotus notices somewhere that, at a certain period, the Argives were
the most renowned in Greece for music. It is most unfortunate that our
knowledge of this branch of Greek art is so fragmentary that we are wholly
unable to tell in what the Argive proficiency consisted. We are never told
that the Doric scale was there invented; but, very possibly, they may have
taken the lead among their brethren in this direction also, for it is well
known that the Spartans, though excellent judges, depended altogether upon
foreigners to make music for them, and thought it not gentlemanly to do
more than criticise.

The drive from Argos to Nauplia leads by Tiryns, then by a great marsh,
which is most luxuriously covered with green and with various flowers, and
then along a good road all the way into the important and stirring town of
Nauplia. This place, which was one of the oldest settlements, as is proved
by Pelasgic walls and tombs high up on the overhanging cliffs, was always
through history known as the port of Argos, and is so still, though it
rose under the Turks to the dignity of capital of the whole province of
Greece. The citadel has at all times been considered almost impregnable.
The situation of the town is exceptionally beautiful, even for a Greek
town; and the sunset behind the Arcadian mountains, seen from Nauplia,
with the gulf in the foreground, is a view which no man can ever forget.

A coasting steamer, which goes right round all the Peloponnesus, took us
up with a great company, which was hurrying to Athens for the elections,
and carried us round the coast of Argolis, stopping at the several ports
on the way. This method of seeing either Greece or Italy is highly to be
commended, and it is a great pity that so many people adhere strictly to
the quickest and most obvious route, so missing many of the really
characteristic features in the country which they desire to study. Thus
the Italian coasting steamers, which go up from Messina by Naples to
Genoa, touch at many not insignificant places (such as Gaeta), which no
ordinary tourist ever sees, and which are nevertheless among the most
beautiful in all the country. The same may be said of the sail from
Nauplia to Athens, which leads you to Spezza, Hydra, or Idra, as they now
call it, to Poros and to Ægina, all very curious and interesting places to

  [Illustration: The Palamedi, Nauplia]

The island of Hydra was, in old days, a mere barren rock, scarcely
inhabited, and would probably never have changed its reputation but for a
pirate settlement in a very curious little harbor, with a very narrow
entrance, which faces the main shore of Argolis. As you sail along the
straight coast line, there seems no break or indentation, when suddenly,
as if by magic, the rocky shore opens for about twenty yards, at a spot
marked by several caves in the face of the cliff, and lets you see into a
circular harbor of very small dimensions, with an amphitheatre of rich and
well-built houses rising up all round the bay. Though the water is very
deep, there is actually no room for a large fleet, and there seems not a
yard of level ground, except where terraces have been artificially made.
High rocks on both sides of the narrow entrance hide all prospect of the
town, except from the point directly opposite the entrance.

The Hydriotes, who were rich merchants, and, I suppose, successful pirates
in the Turkish days, were never enslaved, but kept their liberty and their
wealth by paying a tribute to the Porte. They developed a trading power
which reminds one strongly of the old Greek cities; and so faithful were
they to one another that it was an ordinary habit for citizens to entrust
all their savings to a captain starting for a distant port, to be laid out
by him to the best advantage. It is said that they were never defrauded of
their profits. The Turks may, perhaps, have thought that by gentle
treatment they would secure the fidelity of the Hydriotes, whose wealth
and power depended much on Turkish protection; but they were greatly
mistaken. There was, indeed, some hesitation among the islanders, when the
War of Liberation broke out, what part they should take; for during the
great Napoleonic wars the Hydriotes, sailing under the neutral flag of
Turkey, had made enormous profits by carrying trade among the
belligerents. They lived in great luxury. With the peace of 1815, and the
reopening of the French and other ports to English ships, these profits
disappeared, and the extravagant hopes of the Hydriotes ended in
bankruptcy. This was probably a main cause of their patriotism. However,
by far the most brilliant feats in the war were those performed by the
Hydriote sailors, who remind one very much of the Zealanders in the wars
of Holland against the Spanish power. Whether their bravery has been
exaggerated is hard to say: this, at all events, is clear, that they
earned the respect and admiration of the whole nation, nor is there any
nobility so recognized in Greek society as descent from the Hydriote
chiefs who fought for the Liberation.

With the rise of the nation the wealth and importance of Hydra has
strangely decayed. Probably the Peiræus, with its vast advantages, has
naturally regained its former predominance, now that every part of the
coast and every port are equally free. Still, the general style and way of
living at Hydra reminds one of old times; and if the island itself be
sterile, the rich slopes of the opposite coast, covered with great groves
of lemon-trees, are owned by the wealthy descendants of the old merchants.

The neighboring island of Spezza, where the steamer waits, and a crowd of
picturesque people come out in quaint boats to give and take cargo, has a
history very parallel to that of Hydra. It is to be noted that the
population of both islands is rather Albanian than Greek. A few hours
brings the steamer past Poros and through narrow passages among islands to
Ægina, as they now call it. We have here an island whose history is
precisely the reverse of that of Hydra. The great days of Ægina (as I
mentioned above) were in very old times, from the age of Pheidon of Argos,
in the seventh century B. C., up to the rise of Athens’s democracy and
navy, when this splendid centre of literature, art, and commerce was
absorbed in the greater Athenian empire.

There is at present a considerable town on the coast, and some cultivation
on the hills; but the whole aspect of the island is very rocky and barren,
and as it can hardly ever have been otherwise, we feel at once that the
early greatness of Ægina was, like that of Hydra in the last century, a
purely commercial greatness. The people are very hospitable and
interesting. Nowhere in Greece did I see more apparent remains of the
purest Greek type. Our hostess, in particular, was worthy to take her
place in the Parthenon frieze, and among the children playing on the quay
there were faces of marvellous beauty.

With enterprise and diligence, a trading nation or city may readily become
great in a small island or barren coast, and no phenomenon in history
proves this more strongly than the vast empire of the Phœnicians, who seem
never to have owned more than a bare tract of a few miles about Tyre and
Sidon. They were, in fact, a great people without a country. The Venetians
similarly raised an empire on a salt marsh, and at one time owned many
important possessions on Greek coasts and islands, without “any visible
means of subsistence,” as they say in the police courts. In the same way,
Pericles thought nothing of the possession of Attica, provided the
Athenians could hold their city walls and their harbors. He knew that with
a maritime supremacy they must necessarily be lords of so vast a stretch
of coasts and islands that the barren hills of Attica might be completely
left out of account.

There is yet another and a very interesting way from Nauplia to Ægina,
which may be strongly recommended to the traveller who does not arrive in
due time to catch the weekly steamer. Horses can be hired at Nauplia,
which can perform, in about seven hours, the journey to the little village
of Epidauros (now pronounced _Epídavros_). Here a boat can be obtained,
which, with a fair wind, can reach Ægina in three, and the Peiræus in
about six hours. But, like all boating expeditions, this trip is
uncertain, and may be thwarted by either calm or storm.

  [Illustration: Sculptured Lion, Nauplia]

We left Nauplia on a very fine morning, while the shepherds from the
country were going through the streets, shouting _γάλα_, and serving out
their milk from skins, of which they held the neck in one hand, and
loosened their hold slightly to pour it into the vessel brought to them by
the customer. These picturesque people—men, women, and children—seem to
drive an active trade, and yet are not, I believe, to be found in the
streets of any other Greek town.

The way through the Argolic country is rough and stony, not unlike in
character to the ride from Corinth to Mycenæ, but more barren, and for the
most part less picturesque. On some of the hilltops are old ruins, with
fine remains of masonry, apparently old Greek work. The last two or three
hours of the journey are, however, particularly beautiful, as the path
goes along the course of a rich glen, in which a tumbling river hurries
toward the sea. This glen is full of verdure and of trees. We saw it in
the richest moment of a southern spring, when all the trees were bursting
into leaf, or decked with varied bloom. It was the home, too, of thrushes,
and many other singing birds, which filled the air with music—as it were a
rich variation upon the monotonous sound of the murmuring river. There is
no sweeter concert than this in nature, no union of sight and sound which
fills the heart of the stranger in such a solitude with deeper gladness. I
know no fitter exodus from the beautiful Morea—a farewell journey which
will dwell upon the memory, and banish from the mind all thoughts of
discomfort and fatigue.

In the picturesque little land-locked bay of Epidavros there was a
good-sized fishing-boat riding at anchor, which we immediately chartered
to convey us to Athens. The skipper took some time to gather a crew, and
to obtain the necessary papers from the local authorities, but after some
pressure on our part we got under weigh with a fair wind, and ran out of
the harbor into the broad rock-studded sheet of water which separates
Argolis from Ægina, and from the more distant coast of Attica. There is no
more delightful or truly Greek mode of travelling than to run through
islands and under rocky coasts in these boats, which are roomy and
comfortable, and, being decked, afford fair shelter from shower or spray.
But presently the wind began to increase from the north-west, and our
skipper to hesitate whether it were safe to continue the journey. He
proposed to run into the harbor of Ægina for the night. We acquiesced
without demur, and went at a great pace to our new destination. But no
sooner had we come into the harbor, and cast anchor, so that the boat lay
steady with her head to the wind, than another somewhat larger boat which
came sailing in after us ran right into her amidships. The shock started
up all my companions, who were lying asleep in the bottom of the boat, and
the situation looked rather desperate, for we were in the middle of a
large harbor, a long way from land. It was night, and blowing hard, and
all our crew betook themselves to weeping and praying, while the other
boat did her best to sheer off and leave us to our fate. However, some of
us climbed into her by the bow-sprit, which lay across our deck, while
others got up the baggage, and proceeded to examine at what pace the water
was coming in. A boat from the shore came out in time to take us off
safely, but when we had landed our skipper gravely proposed that we should
pay for the boat, as she was injured in our service! Of course, we laughed
him to scorn, and having found at Ægina a steam-launch belonging to
Captain Miaoulis, then Minister of Marine, we went in search of him, and
besought him to take us next day to the Peiræus. The excellent man not
only granted our request, but entertained us on the way with the most
interesting anecdotes of his stay in England as a boy, when he came with
his father to seek assistance from our country during the War of
Liberation. Thus we came into the Peiræus, not as shipwrecked outcasts,
but under the protection of one of the most gallant and distinguished
officers of the Greek navy.

A great point of interest among newly-discovered sites is the great temple
and theatre of Epidaurus, which I did not visit, on account of an epidemic
of small-pox—_εὐφλογία_ they call it, euphemistically. The very journey to
this place is worth making, on account of its intensely characteristic
features. You start from Athens in a coasting steamer full of natives, who
carry with them their food and beds, and camp on deck where it pleases
them, regardless of class. You see all the homeliness of ordinary life
obtruded upon you without seeking it, instead of intruding upon others to
find it; and you can study not only the country, but the people, at great
leisure. But the ever-varying beauty of the scene leaves little time for
other studies. The boat passes along Ægina, and rounds the promontory of
Kalauria—the death-scene of Demosthenes—into the land-locked bay of Poros,
where lay the old Trœzen and Hermione along the fruitful shore, surrounded
by an amphitheatre of lofty mountains. The sea is like a fair inland lake,
studded with white sails, and framed with the rich green of vines and figs
and growing corn. Even the rows of tall solemn cypresses can suggest no
gloom in such a landscape. From here it is but a short ride to the famous
temple of Æsculapius, though most people go from Nauplia, as I once did in
former years, before the discoveries were made which now attract the

The excavations of the Greek archæological society have laid bare at least
three principal buildings in connection with the famous spot; the old
temple of the god, the theatre, and the famous _tholos_, a circular
building, in which those who had been healed of diseases set up votive
tablets. The extraordinary size and splendor of the theatre—Pausanias says
it was far the finest in Greece—rather contrasts with the dimensions of
the temple, and suggests that most of the patients who came were able to
enjoy themselves, or else that many people came for pleasure, and not on
serious business. The remains discovered are particularly valuable for the
good preservation of the stage, but of this I can only speak at second
hand. So also the circular building, which was erected under the
supervision of the famous Polycletus, the great Argive sculptor, a rival
of Phidias, has many peculiar features, and shows in one more instance
that what earlier art critics assumed as modern was based on older
classical models. Circular buildings supported on pillars were thought
rather Græco-Roman than Greek, but here we see that, like the builders of
the Odeon of Pericles, of the later Philippeion at Olympia, so the
Epidaurians had this form before them from early days. Inside the outer
row of Doric pillars was a second circle of pillars, apparently Ionic as
to proportions and fluting, but the capitals were Corinthian, so that this
feature also in architecture has a venerable antiquity, and was not
Græco-Roman, as was once supposed. For a long time the so-called Lantern
of Demosthenes, built for Lysicrates at Athens in 335 B. C., when
Alexander was leading his army into Asia, was considered the oldest, and
perhaps the only pure Greek example of the Corinthian capital. People
began to hesitate when a solitary specimen was found in the famous temple
of Bassæ, where it could hardly have been imported in later days. Now the
evidence is completed, and in this respect the historians of art are
correcting the rash generalization of their predecessors.

                               CHAPTER XIV.


Whatever other excursions a traveller may make in the Morea, he ought not
to omit a trip to Sparta, which has so often been the centre of power, and
is still one of the chief centres of attraction in Greece. And yet many
reasons conspire to make this famous place less visited than the rest of
the country. It is distinctly out of the way from the present
starting-points of travel. To reach it from Athens, or even from Patras or
Corinth, requires several days, and it is not remarkable for any of those
architectural remains which are more attractive to the modern inquirer
than anything else in a historic country.

Of the various routes we choose (in 1884) that from Nauplia by Astros, as
we had been the guests for some days of the hospitable Dr. Schliemann, who
was prosecuting his now famous researches at Tiryns. So we rose one
morning with the indefatigable doctor before dawn,(173) and took a boat to
bring us down the coast to Astros. The morning was perfectly fair and
calm, and the great mountain chains of the coast were mirrored in the opal
sea, as we passed the picturesque rocky fort which stands close to Nauplia
in the bay, the residence of the public executioner. The beauty of the
Gulf of Argos never seemed more perfect than in the freshness of the
morning, with the rising sun illuminating the lofty coasts. Our progress
was at first by the slow labor of the oar, but as the morning advanced
there came down a fresh west wind from the mountains, which at intervals
filled our lateen sail almost too well, and sent us flying along upon our
way. In three hours we rounded a headland, and found ourselves in the
pretty little bay of Astros.

Of course, the whole population came down to see us. They were apparently
as idle, and as ready to be amused, as the inhabitants of an Irish
village. But they are sadly wanting in fun. You seldom hear them make a
joke or laugh, and their curiosity is itself curious from this aspect.
After a good deal of bargaining we agreed for a set of mules and ponies to
bring us all the way round the Morea, to Corinth if necessary, though
ultimately we were glad to leave them at Kyparissia, at the opposite side
of Peloponnesus, and pursue our way by sea. The bargain was eight drachmas
per day for each animal; a native, or very experienced traveller, could
have got them for five to six drachmas.

Our way led us up a river course, as usual through fine olive-trees and
fields of corn, studded with scarlet anemones, till after a mile or two we
began to ascend from the level of the coast to the altitudes of the
central plateau, or rather mountain system, of the Morea. Here the flora
of the coast gave way to fields of sperge, hyacinths, irises, and star of
Bethlehem. Every inch of ascent gave us a more splendid and extended view
back over coasts and islands. The giant tops of the inner country showed
themselves still covered with snow. We were in that district so little
known in ancient history, which was so long a bone of contention between
Argos and Sparta, whose boundaries seem never to have been fixed by any
national landmark. When we had reached the top of the rim of inland Alps,
we ascended and descended various steeps, and rounded many glens, reaching
in the end the village of Hagios Petros, which we had seen before us for a
long time, while we descended one precipice and mounted another to attain
our goal. It was amusing to see our _agogiatæ_ or muleteers pulling out
fragments of mirror, and arranging their toilette, such as it was, before
encountering the criticism of the Hagiopetrans. One of these men was
indeed a handsome soldierly youth, who walked all day with us for a week
over the roughest country, in miserable shoes, and yet without apparent

Another, a great stout man with a beard, excused himself for not being
married by saying he was _too little_ (_εἶναι μικρός_), and so we learned
that as they are all expected to marry, and do marry, twenty-five is
considered the earliest proper age. One would almost think they had
preserved some echo of Aristotle’s views, which make thirty years the best
age for marriage—thirty years! when most of us are already so old as to
have lost interest in these great pleasures.

At Hagios Petros we were hospitably received by the demarch, a venerable
old man with a white beard, who was a physician, unfortunately also a
politician, and who insisted on making a thousand inquiries about Mr.
Gladstone and Prince Bismarck, while we were starving and longing for
dinner. Some fish, which the muleteers had providently bought at Astros
and brought with them, formed the best part of the entertainment, if we
except the magnificent creature, adorned in all his petticoats and colors
and knives, who came in to see us before dinner, and kissed our hands with
wonderful dignity, but who turned out to be the waiter at the table. We
asked the demarch how he had procured himself so stately a servant, and he
said he was the clerk in his office. It occurred to us, when we watched
the grace and dignity of every movement in this royal-looking person, how
great an effect splendid costume seems to have on manners. It was but a
few days since that I had gone to a very fashionable evening party at a
handsome palace in Athens, and had been amused at the extraordinary
awkwardness with which various very learned men—professors, archæologists,
men of independent means—had entered the room. The circle was, I may add,
chiefly German. Here was a man, ignorant, acting as a servant and yet a
king in demeanor. But how could you expect a German professor in his
miserable Frankish dress to assume the dignity of a Greek in palicar
costume, in forty yards of petticoat, his waist squeezed with female
relentlessness, with his ruby jacket and gaiters, his daggers and pistols
at his belt. After all, manners are hardly attainable, as a rule, without

We were accommodated as well as the worthy demarch could manage for the
night. As a special favor I was put to sleep into his dispensary, a little
chamber full of galley-pots, pestles, and labelled bottles of antiquated
appearance, and dreamt in turns of the study of Faust and of the
apothecary’s shop in Mantua, which we see upon the stage.

Early in the morning we climbed up a steep ascent to attain the high
plateau, very bleak and bare, which is believed by the people to have been
the scene of the conflict of Othryades and his men with the Argive 300. A
particular spot is still called _στοὺς φονευμένους_, _the place of the
slain_. The high plain, about 3500 feet above the sea, was all peopled
with country-folk coming to a market at Hagios Petros, and we had ample
opportunity of admiring both the fine manly appearance and the excellent
manners of this hardy and free peasantry. The complex of mountains in
which they live is the chain of Parnon, which ultimately extends from
Thyreatis through Kynuria down to Cape Malea, but not without many breaks
and crossings. The heights of Parnon (now called Malevo) still hid from us
the farther Alps of the inner country.

After a ride of an hour or two we descended to the village of Arachova,
much smaller and poorer than its namesake in Phocis (above, p. 274), and
thence to the valley of a stream called Phonissa, the murderess, from its
dangerous floods, but at the moment a pleasant and shallow brook. Down its
narrow bed we went for hours, crossing and recrossing it, or riding along
its banks, with all the verdure gradually increasing with the change of
climate and of shelter, till at last a turn in the river brought us
suddenly in sight of the brilliant serrated crest of Taygetus, glittering
with its snow in the sunshine. Then we knew our proper landmark, and felt
that we were indeed approaching Sparta.

But we still had a long way to ride down our river till we reached its
confluence with the Eurotas, near to which we stopped at a solitary khan,
from which it is an easy ride to visit the remains of Sellasia. During the
remaining three hours we descended the banks of the Eurotas, with the
country gradually growing richer, and the stream so deep that it could no
longer be forded. There is a quaint high mediæval bridge at the head of
the vale of Sparta. On a hot summer’s afternoon, about five o’clock, we
rode, dusty and tired, into Sparta.

The town was in holiday, and athletic sports were going on in
commemoration of the establishment of Greek liberty. Crowds of fine tall
men were in the very wide regular streets, and in the evening this new
town vindicated its ancient title of _εὐρύχορος_. But the very first
glance at the surroundings of the place was sufficient to correct in my
mind a very widespread error, which we all obtain from reading the books
of people who have never studied history on the spot. We imagine to
ourselves the Spartans as hardy mountaineers, living in a rude alpine
country, with sterile soil, the rude nurse of liberty. They may have been
such when they arrived in prehistoric times from the mountains of Phocis,
but a very short residence in Laconia must have changed them very much.
The vale of Sparta is the richest and most fertile in Peloponnesus. The
bounding chains of mountains are separated by a stretch, some twenty miles
wide, of undulating hills and slopes, all now covered with vineyards,
orange and lemon orchards, and comfortable homesteads or villages. The
great chain on the west limits the vale by a definite line, but toward the
east the hills that run toward Malea rise very gradually and with many
delays beyond the arable ground. The old Spartans therefore settled in the
richest and best country available, and must from the very outset of their
career have had better food, better climate, and hence much more luxury
than their neighbors.

We are led to the same conclusion by the art-remains which are now coming
to light, and which are being collected in the well-built local museum of
the town. They show us that there was an archaic school of sculpture,
which produced votive and funeral reliefs, and therefore that the old
Spartans were by no means so opposed to art as they have been represented
in the histories. The poetry of Alkman, with its social and moral freedom,
its suggestions of luxury and good living, shows what kind of literature
the Spartan rulers thought fit to import and encourage in the city of
Lycurgus. The whole sketch of Spartan society which we read in Plutarch’s
_Life_ and other late authorities seems rather to smack of imaginary
reconstruction on Doric principles than of historical reality. Contrasts
there were, no doubt, between Dorians and Ionians, nay, even between
Sparta and Tarentine or Argive Dorians; but still Sparta was a rich and
luxurious society, as is confessed on all hands where there is any mention
of the ladies and their homes. We might as well infer from the rudeness of
the dormitories in the College at Winchester, or from the simplicity of an
English man-of-war’s mess, that our nation consisted of rude mountaineers
living in the sternest simplicity.

But if I continue to write in this way I shall have all the pedants down
upon me. Let us return to the Sparta of to-day. We lodged at a very bad
and dear inn, and our host’s candid excuse for his exorbitant prices was
the fact that he very seldom had strangers to rob, and so must plunder
those that came without stint. His formula was perhaps a little more
decent, but he hardly sought to disguise the plain truth. When we sought
our beds, we found that a very noisy party had established themselves
below to celebrate the Feast of the Liberation, with supper, speeches, and
midnight revelry.

So, as usual, there was little possibility of sleep. Moreover, I knew that
we had a very long day’s journey before us to Kalamata, so I rose before
the sun and before my companions, to make preparations and to rouse the

On opening my window, I felt that I had attained one of the strange
moments of life which can never be forgotten. The air was preternaturally
clear and cold, and the sky beginning to glow faintly with the coming day.
Straight before me, so close that it almost seemed within reach of voice,
the giant Taygetus, which rises straight from the plain, stood up into the
sky, its black and purple gradually brightening into crimson, and the cold
blue-white of its snow warming into rose. There was a great feeling of
peace and silence, and yet a vast diffusion of sound. From the whole
plain, with all its homesteads and villages, myriads of cocks were
proclaiming the advent of the dawn. I had never thought there were so many
cocks in all the world. The ever-succeeding voices of these countless
thousands kept up one continual wave of sound, such as I suppose could not
be equalled anywhere else; and yet for all that, as I have said, there was
a feeling of silence, a sense that no other living thing was abroad, an
absolute stillness in the air, a deep sleep over the rest of nature.

How long I stood there, and forgot my hurry, I know not, but starting up
at last as the sun struck the mountain, I went down, and found below
stairs another curious contrast. All over the coffee-room (if I may so
dignify it) were the disordered remains of a disorderly revel, ashes and
stains and fragments in disgusting confusion; and among them a solitary
figure was mumbling prayers in the gloom to the image of a saint with a
faint lamp burning before it. In the midst of the wrecks of dissipation
was the earnestness of devotion, prayer in the place of ribaldry; perhaps,
too, dead formalism in the place of coarse but real enjoyment.

We left for Mistra before six in the morning, so escaping some of the
parting inspection which the whole town was ready to bestow upon us. The
way led us past many orchards, where oranges and lemons were growing in
the richest profusion on great trees, as large as the cherry-trees in the
Alps. The branches were bending with their load, and there was fruit
tumbled into the grass, and studding the ground in careless plenty with
its ruddy and pale gold. In these orchards, with their deep green masses
of foliage, the nightingales sing all day, and we heard them out-carolling
the homelier sounds of awakening husbandry. During all the many rides I
have taken through Greece, no valley ever struck me with the sense of
peace and wealth so much as that of Sparta.

After an hour or so we reached the picturesque town of Mistra, now nearly
deserted, but all through the Middle Ages the capital of the district,
nestled under the shelter of the great fortress of the Villehardouins, the
family of the famous chronicler. Separated by a deep gorge (or _langada_)
with its torrent from the loftier mountain, this picturesque rock with its
fortress contains the most remarkable mediæval remains, Latin, Greek,
Venetian, Turkish, in all the Morea. Villehardouins and Paleologi made it
their seat of power, and filled it with churches and palaces, to which I
shall return when we speak of mediæval Greece. An earthquake about fifty
years ago destroyed many of the houses, and the population then founded
the new Sparta, with its wide, regular streets, on the site of the old
classical city. This resettlement is not so serious a hindrance to
archæology as the rebuilding of Athens, for we know that in the days of
its real greatness Sparta was a mere aggregate of villages, and the walls
and theatre which are still visible must have been built in late Greek or
Roman times. The so-called tomb of Leonidas, a square chamber built with
huge blocks of ashlar masonry, of which three courses remain, appears like
building of the best period, but its history is wholly unknown.

We reached in another hour the steep village of Trypi, at the very mouth
of the great pass through Taygetus—a beautiful site, with houses and
forest trees standing one above the other on the precipitous steep; and
below, the torrent rushing into the plain to join the Eurotas. It is from
this village that we ought to have started at dawn, and where we should
have spent the previous night, for even from here it takes eleven full
hours to reach Kalamata on the Gulf of Messene. The traveller should send
on his ponies, or take them to Mistra and thence to Trypi on the previous
afternoon. The lodging there is probably not much worse than at Sparta.

From this point we entered at once into the great Langada pass, the most
splendid defile in Greece—the only way from Sparta into Messene for a
distance of thirty miles north and south. It is indeed possible to scale
the mountain at a few other points, but only by regular alpine climbing,
whereas this is a regular highway; and along it strings of mules, not
without trouble, make their passage daily, when the snow does not lie,
from Sparta and from Kalamata.

  [Illustration: Langada Pass]

Nothing can exceed the picturesqueness and beauty of this pass, and
nothing was stranger than the contrast between its two steeps. That which
faced south was covered with green and with spring flowers—pale anemones,
irises, orchids, violets, and, where a stream trickled down, with
primroses—a marsh plant in this country. All these were growing among
great boulders and cliffs, whereas on the opposite side the whole face was
bleak and barren, the rocks being striated with rich yellow and red veins.
I suppose in hot summer these aspects are reversed. High above us, as it
were, looking down from the summits, were great forests of fir-trees—a
gloomy setting to a grandiose and savage landscape. The day was, as usual,
calm and perfectly fine, with a few white clouds relieving the deep blue
of the sky. As we were threading our way among the rocks of the
river-course we were alarmed by large stones tumbling from above, and
threatening to crush us. Our guides raised all the echoes with their
shouts, to warn any unconscious disturber of this solitude that there were
human beings beneath, but on closer survey we found that our possible
assassins were only goats clambering along the precipice in search of
food, and disturbing loose boulders as they went.

Farther on we met other herds of these quaint creatures generally tended
by a pair of solitary children, who seemed to belong to no human kin, but,
like birds or flowers, to be the natural denizens of these wilds. They
seemed not to talk or play; we never heard them sing, but passed them
sitting in curious vague listlessness, with no wonder, no curiosity, in
their deep solemn eyes. There, all the day long, they heard no sound but
the falling water, the tinkling of their flocks, and the great whisper of
the forest pines when the breeze touched them on its way down the pass.
They took little heed of us as we passed, and seemed to have sunk from
active beings into mere passive mirrors of the external nature around
them. The men with us, on the other hand, were constantly singing and
talking. They were all in a strange country which they had never seen; a
serious man with a gun slung around his shoulder was our guide from Trypi,
and so at last we reached the top of the pass, about four thousand feet
high, marked by a little chapel to St. Elias, and once by a stone pillar
stating the boundary between Sparta and Messene. It was then up this pass,
and among these forests, that the young Spartans had steeled themselves by
hunting the wolf and the bear in peace, and by raids and surprises in days
of war.

The descent was longer and more varied; sometimes through well cultivated
olive yards, mulberries, and thriving villages, sometimes along giant
slopes, where a high wind would have made our progress very difficult.
Gradually the views opened and extended, and in the evening we could see
down to the coast of Messene, and the sea far away. But we did not reach
Kalamata till long after nightfall, and rested gladly in a less
uncomfortable inn than we had yet found in the journey.

The town is a cheery and pleasant little place, with remains of a large
mediæval castle occupied by Franks, Venetians, Turks, which was the first
seat of the Villehardouins, and from which they founded their second fort
at Mistra. The river Nedon here runs into the sea, and there is a sort of
open roadstead for ships, where steamers call almost daily, and a good
deal of coasting trade (silk, currants, etc.) goes on. The only notable
feature in the architecture is the pretty bell tower of the church, of a
type which I afterward saw in other parts of Messenia, but which is not
usual in these late Byzantine buildings.

As there was nothing to delay us here, we left next morning for the
convent of Vourkano, from which we were to visit Mount Ithome, and the
famous ruins of Epaminondas’s second great foundation in Peloponnesus—the
revived Messene. The plain (called _Macaria_ or Felix from its fertility)
through which we rode was indeed both rich and prosperous, but swampy in
some places and very dusty in others. There seemed to be active
cultivation of mulberries, figs, olives, lemons, almonds, currant-grapes,
with cactus hedges and plenty of cattle. There were numerous little
pot-houses along the road, where mastich and lucumia were sold, as well as
dried fruit and oranges. If the Nedon was broad and shallow, we found the
Pamisos narrow and deep, so that it could only be crossed by a bridge. A
few hours brought us to the ascent of Mount Ithome, on a high shoulder of
which is situated the famous and hospitable convent of Vourkano (or

The building, very picturesquely situated high on the side of Mount
Ithome, commands a long slope covered with brushwood and wild-flowers, the
ideal spot for a botanist, as many rills of water run down the descent and
produce an abundant and various vegetation. There is not a sod of soil
which does not contain bulbs and roots of flowers. Below stretches the
valley of Stenyclarus, so famous in the old annals of Messene. It was
studded with groves of orange and lemon, olive and date, mulberry and fig.
The whole of this country has an aspect far more southern and subtropical
than any part of Laconia.

The monks treated us with great kindness, even pressing us to sit down to
dinner before any ablutions had been thought of, and while we were still
covered with the dust of a very hot and stormy journey along high roads.
The plan of the building, which is not old, having been moved down from
the summit in the last century, is that of a court closed with a gateway,
with covered corridors above looking into the court, and a very tawdry
chapel occupying its centre. It seemed a large and well-to-do
establishment, a sort of Greek Monte Cassino in appearance; and with the
same stir of country people and passing visitors about it. Far above us,
on the summit of Mount Ithome—the site of human sacrifices to Zeus
Ithomates in days of trouble—we saw a chapel on the highest top, 2500 feet
over the sea. Here they told us that a solitary anchorite spent his life,
praying and doing service at his altar, far above the sounds of human
life. We made inquiry concerning the history of this saint, who was once a
wealthy Athenian citizen, with a wife and family. His wife was dead, and
his sons settled in the world, so he resolved to devote the rest of his
years to the service of God apart from the ways of men. Once a fortnight
only he descended to the convent, and brought up the necessary food. On
his lonely watch he had no company but timid hares, travelling quail, and
an occasional eagle, that came and sat by him without fear, perhaps in
wonder at this curious and silent friend. The monks below had often urged
him to catch these creatures for their benefit, but he refused to profane
their lofty asylum. So he sits, looking out from his watch upon sunshine
and rain, upon hot calm and wild storm, with the whole Peloponnesus
extended beneath his eyes. He sees from afar the works and ways of men,
and the world that he has left for ever. Is it not strange that still upon
the same height men offer to their God these human sacrifices, changed
indeed in appearance, but in real substance the same?

The main excursion from the monastery is over the saddle of the mountain
westward, and through the “Laconian gate” down into the valley beneath, to
see the remains of Epaminondas’s great foundation, the new Messene. There
are still faint traces of a small theatre and some other buildings, but of
the walls and gates enough to tell us pretty clearly how men built
fortifications in those days. The circuit of the walls included the fort
on the summit, and enclosed a large tract of country, so much that it
would be impossible for any garrison to defend it, and accordingly we hear
of the city being taken by sudden assault more than once. The plan is very
splendid, but seems to us rather ostentatious than serious for a new
foundation liable to attacks from Sparta. The walls were, however,
beautifully built, with towers at intervals, and gates for sallies. The
best extant gate is called the Arcadian, and consisted of an outer and
inner pair of folding-doors, enclosing a large round chamber for the
watch. The size of the doorposts and lintels is gigantic, and shows that
there was neither time nor labor spared to make Messene a stately
settlement. There was almost enough land enclosed within the walls to feed
the inhabitants of the houses, for their number never became very great.
If Megalopolis, a far more successful foundation, was far too large for
its population, how much more must this have been the case with Messene?
In military architecture, however, we have no other specimen of old
Hellenic work equal to it, except perhaps Eleutheræ, which resembles it in
style strongly, though the enclosure is quite small in comparison.

  [Illustration: Arcadian Gateway, Messene]

We could have gone up from Messene by a very long day’s ride to Bassæ, and
so to Olympia, but we had had enough of riding and preferred to make a
short day to the sea at Kyparissia, and thence by steamer to Katakolo,
from which rail and road to Olympia are quite easy. So we left the convent
in the morning and descended into the valley, to turn north and then
north-east, along the river courses which mark the mule-tracks through the
wild country. We crossed a strange bridge over the junction of two rivers
made of three arches meeting in the centre, and of which the substructure
were certainly old Greek building. We then passed through bleak tracts of
uncultivated land, perhaps the most signal case of insufficient population
we had seen in Greece. All these waste fields were covered with great
masses of asphodel, through which rare herds of swine were feeding, and
the sight of these fields suggested to me that by the “meadow of asphodel”
in Homer is not meant a pleasant garden, or desirable country, but merely
a dull waste in which there is nothing done, and no sign of human labor or
human happiness. Had there been night or gloom over this stony tract, with
its tall straggling plants and pale flowers, one could easily imagine it
the place which the dead hero inhabited when he told his friend that the
vilest menial on earth was happier than he.

After some hours the mountains began to approach on either side, and we
reached a country wonderful in its contrast. Great green slopes reached up
from us far away into the hills, studded with great single forest trees,
and among them huge shrubs of arbutus and mastich, trimmed and rounded as
if for ornament. It was like a splendid park, kept by an English magnate.
The regularity of shape in the shrubs arises, no doubt, from the constant
cropping of the young shoots all round by herds of goats, which we met
here and there in this beautiful solitude. The river bank where we rode
was clothed with oleander, prickly pear, and other flowering shrubs which
I could not name.

At last woods of ancient olives, with great gnarled stems, told us that we
were nearing some important settlement, and the pleasant town of
Kyparissia came in view—now, alas! a heap of ruins since the recent
earthquake. Here we took leave of our ponies, mules, and human followers;
but the pathos of parting with these intimate companions of many days was
somewhat marred by the divergence of their notions and ours as to their
pay. Yet these differences, when settled, did not prevent them from giving
us an affectionate farewell.

                               CHAPTER XV.

                            MYCENÆ AND TIRYNS.

I have set apart a chapter for Mycenæ and Tiryns, because the discoveries
of Dr. Schliemann there have raised so many new problems, and have so
largely increased public curiosity about them, that a book of travels in
Greece cannot venture to avoid the subject; even long before Dr.
Schliemann’s day, the learned and deliberate travellers who visited the
Morea, and wrote their great books, found ample scope for description, and
large room for erudite discussion. It is a curious thing to add, but
strictly true, that all the new facts brought out by the late excavations
have, as yet, contributed but little to our knowledge about the actual
history of the country, and that almost every word of what was summed up
from all existing sources twenty years ago, by Ernst Curtius, can still be
read with far more profit than the rash speculations which appear almost
weekly in the periodical press.

It is impossible to approach Mycenæ from any side without being struck
with the picturesqueness of the site. If you come down over the mountains
from Corinth, as soon as you reach the head of the valley of the Inachus,
which is the plain of Argos, you turn aside to the left, or east, into a
secluded corner—“a recess of the horse-feeding Argos,” as Homer calls it,
and then you find on the edge of the valley, and where the hills begin to
rise one behind the other, the village of Charváti. When you ascend from
this place, you find that the lofty Mount Elias is separated from the
plain by two nearly parallel waves of land, which are indeed joined at the
northern end by a curving saddle, but elsewhere are divided by deep
gorges. The loftier and shorter wave forms the rocky citadel of Mycenæ—the
Argion, as it was once called. The lower and longer was part of the outer
city, which occupied both this hill and the gorge under the Argion. As you
walk along the lower hill, you find the Treasure-house of Atreus, as it is
called, built into the side which faces the Acropolis. But there are other
ruined treasuries on the outer slope, and the newly-opened one is just at
the joining saddle, where the way winds round to lead you up the greater
hill to the giant gate with the Lion portal. If we represent the high
levels under the image of a fishing-hook, with the shank placed downward
(south), and the point lying to the right (east), then the Great Treasury
is at that spot in the shank which is exactly opposite the point, and
faces it. The point and barb are the Acropolis. The New Treasury is just
at the turn of the hook, facing inward (to the south). This will give a
rough idea of the site. It is not necessary to enter into details, when so
many maps and plans are now in circulation. But I would especially refer
to the admirable illustrations in Schliemann’s _Mycenæ_, where all these
matters are made perfectly plain and easy.

When we first visited the place it was in the afternoon of a splendid
summer’s day; the fields were yellow and white with stubbles or with dust,
and the deep gray shadow of a passing cloud was the only variety in the
color of the upper plain. For here there are now no trees, the corn had
been reaped, and the land asserted its character as _very thirsty_ Argos.
But as we ascended to higher ground, the groves and plantations of the
lower plain came in sight, the splendid blue of the bay began to frame the
picture, and the setting sun cast deeper shadow and richer color over all
the view. Down at the river-bed great oleanders were spreading their
sheets of bloom, like the rhododendrons in our climate, but they were too
distant to form a feature in the prospect.

I saw the valley of Argos again in spring, in our “roaring moon of
daffodil and crocus;” it was the time of growing corn, of scarlet anemone
and purple cistus, but there too of high winds and glancing shadows. Then
all the plain was either brilliant green with growing wheat, or ruddy
brown with recent tillage; there were clouds about the mountains, and
changing colors in the sky, and a feeling of freshness and life very
different from the golden haze and dreamy calmness of a southern June.

  [Illustration: The Argive Plain]

I can hardly say which of these seasons was the more beautiful, but I
shall always associate the summer scene with the charm of a first visit to
this famous spot, and still more with the venerable and undisturbed aspect
of the ruins before they had been profaned by modern research. It is, I
suppose, ungrateful to complain of these things, and we must admit that
great discoveries outbalance the æsthetic damage done to an ancient ruin
by digging unsightly holes and piling mounds of earth about it; but who
can contemplate without sorrow the covering of the finest piece of the
Cyclopean wall at Mycenæ with the rubbish taken away from over the tombs?
Who will not regret the fig-tree which spread its shade over the portal of
the House of Atreus? This fig-tree is still to be seen in the older
photographs, and is in the woodcut of the entrance given in Dr.
Schliemann’s book, but the visitor of to-day will look for it in vain. On
the other hand, the opening at the top, which had been there since the
beginning of this century, but which was closed when I first visited the
chamber, had been again uncovered, and so it was much easier to examine
the inner arrangement of the building.

I am not sure that this wonderful structure was visited or described by
any traveller from the days of Pausanias till after the year 1800. At
least I can find no description from any former traveller quoted in the
many accurate accounts which the present century has produced. Chandler,
in 1776, intended to visit Mycenæ, but accidentally missed the spot on his
way from Argos to Corinth—a thing more likely to happen then, when there
was a good deal of wooding in the upper part of the plain. But Clarke,
Dodwell, and Gell all visited and described the place between 1800 and
1806, and the latter two published accurate drawings of both the portal
and the inner view, which was possible owing to the aperture made at the

About the same time Lord Elgin had turned his attention to the Treasury,
and had made excavations about the place, finding several fragments of
very old engraved basalt and limestone, which had been employed to
ornament the entrance. Some of these fragments are now in the British
Museum. But, though both Clarke and Leake allude to “Lord Elgin’s
excavators,” they do not specify what was performed, or in what condition
the place had been before their researches. There is no published account
of this interesting point, which is probably to be solved by the still
unpublished journals said to be in the possession of the present
Earl.(174) This much is, however, certain, that the chamber was not first
entered at this time; for Dr. Clarke speaks of its appearance as that of a
place open for centuries. We know that systematic rifling of ancient tombs
took place at the close of the classical epoch;(175) we can imagine it
repeated in every age of disorder or barbarism; and the accounts we hear
of the Genoese plundering the great mounds of the Crimea show that even
these civilized and artistic Italians thought it no desecration to obtain
gold and jewels from unnamed, long-forgotten sepulchres. It seems,
therefore, impossible to say at what epoch—probably even before
Pausanias—this chamber was opened. The story in Dr. Schliemann’s
book,(176) which he quotes from a Greek newspaper, and which attributes
the plundering of it to Veli Pasha, in 1810, is positively groundless, and
in direct contradiction to the irrefragable evidence I have above adduced.
The Pasha may have probed the now ruined chambers on the outer side of the
hill; but the account of what he found is so mythical that the whole story
may be rejected as undeserving of credit.

I need not attempt a fresh description of the Great Treasury, in the face
of such ample and accurate reports as those I have indicated. It is in no
sense a rude building, or one of a helpless and barbarous age, but, on the
contrary, the product of enormous appliances, and of a perfect knowledge
of all the mechanical requirements for any building, if we except the
application of the arch. The stones are hewn square, or curved to form the
circular dome within with admirable exactness. Above the enormous
lintel-stone, nearly twenty-seven feet long, and which is doubly grooved,
by way of ornament, all along its edge over the doorway, there is now a
triangular window or aperture, which was certainly filled with some
artistic carving like the analogous space over the lintel in the gate of
the Acropolis. Shortly after Lord Elgin had cleared the entrance, Gell and
Dodwell found various pieces of green and red marble carved with
geometrical patterns, some of which are reproduced in Dodwell’s book. Gell
also found some fragments in a neighboring chapel, and others are said to
be built into a wall at Nauplia. There are supposed to have been short
columns standing on each side in front of the gate, with some ornament
surmounting them; but this seems to me to rest on doubtful evidence, and
on theoretical reconstruction. Dr. Schliemann, however, asserts them to
have been found at the entrance of the second treasury which Mrs.
Schliemann excavated, though his account is somewhat vague (_Mycenæ_, p.
140). There is the strongest architectural reason for the triangular
aperture over the door, as it diminishes the enormous weight to be borne
by the lintel; and here, no doubt, some ornament very like the lions on
the citadel gate may have been applied.

The extreme darkness of the chamber during our first visit prevented me
from discovering, even with the aid of torches, the nail-marks which all
the earlier travellers found there, and which are now again easily to be
seen. So also the outer lintel-stone is not by any means the largest, but
is far exceeded by the inner, which lies next to it, and which reaches on
each side of the entrance a long way round the chamber, its inner surface
being curved to suit the form of the wall. Along this curve it is
twenty-nine feet long; it is, moreover, seventeen feet broad, and nearly
four feet thick, weighing about one hundred and twenty-four tons!

When we first entered by the light of torches, we found ourselves in the
great cone-shaped chamber, which, strange to say, reminded me of the
Pantheon at Rome more than any other building I know, and is,
nevertheless, built on a very different principle. The stones are not,
indeed, pushed forward one above the other, as in ruder stone roofs
through Ireland; but each of them, which is on the other surfaces cut
perfectly square, has its inner face curved so that the upper end comes
out several inches above the lower. So each stone carries on the conical
plan, having its lower line fitting closely to the upper line of the one
beneath, and the whole dome ends with a great flat stone laid on the

Dodwell still found copper nails of some inches in length, which he
supposed to have been used to fasten on thin plates of shining metal; but
I was at first unable to see even the holes in the roof, which other
travellers had believed to be the places where the nails were inserted.
However, without being provided with magnesium wire, it was then
impossible to light the chamber sufficiently for a positive decision on
this point. A comparatively small side chamber is hollowed out in the rock
and earth, without any stone casing or ornament whatever, but with a
similar triangular aperture over its doorway. Schliemann tells us he dug
two trenches in this chamber, and that, besides finding some hewn pieces
of limestone, he found in the middle a circular depression (apparently of
stone), twenty-one inches deep, and about one yard in diameter, which he
compares to a large wash-bowl. Any one who has visited New Grange will be
struck with the likeness of this description to the large stone saucers
which are still to be seen there, and of which I shall speak presently.

There has been much controversy about the use to which this building was
applied, and we cannot now attempt to change the name, even if we could
prove its absurdity. Pausanias, who saw Mycenæ in the second century
A. D., found it in much the same state as we do, and was no better
informed than we, though he tells us the popular belief that this and its
fellows were treasure-houses like that of the Minyæ at Orchomenus, which
was very much greater, and was, in his opinion, one of the most wonderful
things in all Greece. But it does not seem to me that his opinion, which,
indeed, is not very clear, need in the least shackle our judgments.

The majority of scholars incline to the theory that it is a tomb. In the
first place, there are three other similar buildings quite close to it,
which Pausanias mentions as the treasure-houses of the sons of Atreus, but
their number makes it most unlikely that any of them could be for
treasure. Surely such a house could only be owned by the reigning king,
and there is no reason why his successor should make himself a new vault
for this purpose. In the next place, these buildings were all underground
and dark, and exactly such as would be selected for tombs. Thirdly, they
are not situated within the enclosure of the citadel of Mycenæ, but are
outside it, and probably outside the original town altogether—a thing
quite inconceivable if they were meant for treasure, but most reasonable,
and according to analogy, if they were used as tombs. This, too, would of
course explain the plurality of them—different kings having built them,
just like the pyramids of Chufu, Safra, and Menkerah, and many others,
along the plain of Memphis in Egypt. It is even quite easy and natural to
explain on this hypothesis how they came to be thought treasure-houses. It
is known that the sepulchral tumuli of similar construction in other
places, and possibly built by kindred people, contained much treasure,
left there by way of honor to the deceased. Herodotus describes this in
Scythian tombs, some of which have been opened of late, and have verified
his assertions.(178) The lavish expense at Patroclus’s funeral, in the
Iliad, shows the prevalence of similar notions among early Greeks, who
held, down to Æschylus’s day, that the importance of a man among the dead
was in proportion to the circumstance with which his tomb was treated by
the living. It may, therefore, be assumed as certain that these
strongholds of the dead, if they were such, were filled with many precious
things in gold and other metals, intended as parting gifts in honor of the
king who was laid to rest. Long after the devastation of Mycenæ, I suppose
that these tombs were opened in search of treasure, and not in vain; and
so nothing was said about the skeleton tenant, while rumors went abroad of
the rich treasure-trove within the giant portal. Thus, then, the tradition
would spring up and grow, that the building was the treasure-house of some
old legendary king.

These antiquarian considerations have led us away from the actual survey
of the old vault, for ruin it cannot be called. The simplicity and
massiveness of its structure have defied age and violence, and, except for
the shattered ornaments and a few pieces over the inner side of the
window, not a stone appears ever to have been moved from its place.
Standing at the entrance, you look out upon the scattered masonry of the
walls of Mycenæ, on the hillock over against you. Close beyond this is a
dark and solemn chain of mountains. The view is narrow and confined, and
faces the north, so that, for most of the day, the gate is dark and in
shadow. We can conceive no fitter place for the burial of a king, within
sight of his citadel, in the heart of a deep natural hillock, with a great
solemn portal symbolizing the resistless strength of the barrier which he
had passed into an unknown land. But one more remark seems necessary. This
treasure-house is by no means a Hellenic building in its features. It has
the same perfection of construction which can be seen at Eleutheræ, or any
other Greek fort, but still the really analogous buildings are to be found
in far distant lands—in the raths of Ireland and the barrows of the

I have had the opportunity of comparing the structure and effect of the
great sepulchral monuments in the county of Meath, in Ireland. Two of
these, Dowth and New Grange, are opened, and can be entered almost as
easily as the treasury of Atreus. They lie close to the rich valley of the
Boyne, in that part of the country which was pointed out by nature as the
earliest seat of wealth and culture. Dowth is the ruder and less
ornamented, and therefore not improbably the older, but is less suited for
the present comparison than the greater and more ornate New Grange.

This splendid tomb is not a whit less remarkable, or less colossal in its
construction, than those at Mycenæ, but differs in many details. It was
not hollowed out in a hillside, but was built of great upright stones,
with flat slabs laid over them, and then covered with a mound of earth. An
enormous circle of giant boulders stands round the foot of the mound.
Instead of passing through a short entrance into a great vaulted chamber,
there is a long narrow corridor, which leads to a much smaller, but still
very lofty room, nearly twenty feet high. Three recesses in the walls of
this latter each contain a large round saucer, so to speak, made of single
stone, in which the remains of the dead seem to have been laid. This
saucer is very shallow, and not more than four feet in diameter. The great
stones with which the chamber and passage are constructed are not hewn or
shaped, and so far the building is rather comparable with that of Tiryns
than that of Mycenæ. But all over the faces of the stones are endless
spiral and zigzag ornaments, even covering built-in surfaces, and thus
invisible, so that this decoration must have been applied to the slabs
prior to the building. On the outside stones, both under and above the
entry, there is a well-executed carving of more finished geometrical

Putting aside minor details, it may be said that while both monuments show
an equal display of human strength, and an equal contempt for human toil,
which were lavished upon them without stint, the Greek building shows far
greater finish of design and neatness of execution, together with greater
simplicity. The stones are all carefully hewn and fitted, but not carved
or decorated. The triangular carved block over the lintel, and the
supposed metal plates on the interior, were both foreign to the original
structure. On the contrary, while the Irish tomb is a far greater feature
in the landscape—a landmark in the district—the great stones within are
not fitted together, or hewn into shape, and yet they are covered with
patterns and designs strangely similar to the carvings found by Dodwell
and Dr. Schliemann at the Argive tombs. Thus the Irish builders, with far
greater rudeness, show a greater taste for ornament. They care less for
design and symmetry—more for beauty of detail. The Greek essay naturally
culminates in the severe symmetry of the Doric Temple—the Irish in the
glorious intricacy of the illuminations of the _Book of Kells_.

The second treasury lately excavated by Mrs. Schliemann has been
disappointing in its results. Though it seems not to have been disturbed
for ages, it had evidently been once rifled, for nothing save a few
fragments of pottery were found within. Its entrance is much loftier than
that of the house of Atreus, but the general building is inferior, the
stones are far smaller and by no means so well fitted, and it produces
altogether the impression of being either a much earlier and ruder
attempt, or a poor and feeble imitation. Though Dr. Schliemann asserts the
former, I am disposed to suspect the latter to be the case.

A great deal of what was said about the tomb of Agamemnon, as the common
people, with truer instinct, call the supposed treasure-house, may be
repeated about the fortifications of Mycenæ. It is the work of builders
who know perfectly how to deal with their materials—who can hew and fit
great blocks of stone with perfect ease; nay, who prefer, for the sake of
massive effect, to make their doorway with such enormous blocks as even
modern science would find it difficult to handle. The sculpture over the
gate fortunately remains almost entire. The two lions, standing up at a
small pillar, were looking out fiercely at the stranger. The heads are
gone, having probably, as Dr. Schliemann first observed, been made of
bronze, and riveted to the stone. The rest of the sculpture is intact, and
is of a strangely heraldic character. It is a piece of bluish
limestone,(179) which must have been brought from a long distance, quite
different from the rough breccia of the rest of the gate. The lintel-stone
is not nearly so vast as that of the treasure-house: it is only fifteen
feet long, but is somewhat thicker, and also much deeper, going back the
full depth of the gateway. Still it must weigh a good many tons; and it
puzzles us to think how it can have been put into its place with the
appliances then in vogue. The joint use of square and polygonal masonry is
very curious. Standing within the gate, one side is of square-hewn stones,
the other of irregular, though well-fitted, blocks. On the left side,
looking into the gate, there is a gap of one block in the wall, which
looks very like a window,(180) as it is not probable that a single stone
was taken, or fell out of its place afterward, without disturbing the
rest. What makes it, perhaps, more possible that this window is
intentional, is the position of the gate, which is not in the middle of
the walled causeway, as you enter, but to the right side.

When you go in, and climb up the hill of the Acropolis, you find various
other portions of Cyclopean walls which belonged to the old palace, in
plan very similar to that of Tiryns. But the outer wall goes all round the
hill where it is steepest, sometimes right along a precipice, and
everywhere offering an almost insurmountable obstacle to an ancient
assailant. On the east side, facing the steep mountain, which is separated
from it by a deep gorge, is a postern gate, consisting merely of three
stones, but these so massive, and so beautifully hewn and fitted, as to be
a structure hardly less striking than the lion gate. At about half the
depth of these huge blocks there is a regular groove cut down both sides
and along the top, in order to hold the door.

The whole summit of the great rock is now stony and bare, but not so bare
that I could not gather scarlet anemones, which found scanty sustenance
here and there in tiny patches of grass, and gladdened the gray color of
the native rock and the primeval walls. The view from the summit, when
first I saw it, was one of singular solitude and peace; not a stone seemed
to have been disturbed for ages; not a human creature, or even a browsing
goat, was visible, and the traveller might sketch or scrutinize any part
of the fortress without fear of intrusion, far less of molestation. When I
again reached the site, in the spring of 1877, a great change had taken
place. Dr. Schliemann had attacked the ruins, and had made his
world-renowned excavations inside and about the lion gate. To the gate
itself this was a very great gain. All the encumbering earth and stones
have been removed, so that we can now admire the full proportions of the
mighty portal. He discovered a tiny porter’s lodge inside it. He denied
the existence of the wheel-tracks which we and others fancied we had seen
there on our former visit.

  [Illustration: Lion Gate, Mycenae]

But proceeding from the gate to the lower side, where the hill slopes down
rapidly, and where the great irregular Cyclopean wall trends away to the
right, Dr. Schliemann found a deep accumulation of soil. This was, of
course, the chief place on an otherwise bare rock where excavations
promised large results. And the result was beyond the wildest
anticipations. The whole account of what he has done is long before the
public in his very splendid book, of which the illustrations are quite an
epoch in the history of ornament, and in spite of their great antiquity
will suggest to our modern jewellers many an exquisite pattern. The sum of
what he found is this:—

He first found in this area a double circuit of thin upright slabs, joined
together closely, and joined across the top with flat slabs mortised into
them, the whole circuit being like a covered way, about three feet high.
Into the enclosed circle a way leads from the lion gate; and what I noted
particularly was this, that the whole circle, which was over thirty yards
in diameter, was separated from the higher ground by a very miserable
bounding wall, which, though quite concealed before the excavations, and
therefore certainly very old, looked for all the world like some Turkish
piece of masonry.

As soon as this stone circle was discovered, it was suggested that old
Greek _agoras_ were round, that they were often in the citadel at the
king’s gate, and that people were sometimes buried in them. Dr. Schliemann
at once baptized the place as the agora of Mycenæ. It was a circle with
only one free access, and that from the gate; it had tombstones standing
in the midst of it, and there were the charred remains of sacrifices about
them. The number of bodies already exhumed beneath preclude their being
all founders or heroes of the city. These and other indications were
enough to disprove clearly that the circle was an agora, but that it was
rather a place of sepulture, enclosed, as such places always were, with a
fence, which seems made in imitation of a palisade of wood.

Inside this circuit of stone slabs were found—apparently at the same
depth, but on this Dr. Schliemann is not explicit—very curious and very
archaic carved slabs, with rude hunting scenes of warriors in very
uncomfortable chariots, and varied spiral ornaments filling up the vacant
spaces. These sculptures are unlike any Hellenic work, properly so called,
and point back to a very remote period, and probably to the introduction
of a foreign art among the rude inhabitants of early Greece. Deeper down
were found more tombstones, all manner of archaic pottery, arrow-heads,
and buttons of bone; there was also found some rude construction of hewn
stones, which may have served as an altar or a tomb.

Yet further down, twenty-one feet deep, and close to the rock, were lying
together a number of skeletons, which seemed to have been hastily or
carelessly buried; but in the rock itself, in rudely hewn chambers, were
found fifteen bodies buried with a splendor seldom equalled in the history
of the world. These people were not buried like Greeks. They were not laid
in rock chambers, like the Scythian kings. They were sunk in graves under
the earth, which were large enough to receive them, had they not been
filled up round the bottom with rudely-built walls, or pieces of stone, so
as to reduce the area, but to create perhaps some ventilation for the fire
which had partly burnt the bodies where they were found. Thus the
splendidly-attired and jewelled corpses, some of them with masks and
breastplates of gold, were, so to speak, jammed down by the earth and
stones above them into a very narrow space; but there appears to have been
some arrangement for protecting them and their treasure from complete
confusion with the soil which settled down over them. This, if the account
of the excavation be accurate, seems the most peculiar feature in the
burial of these great personages, but finds a parallel in the curious
tombs of Hallstadt, which afford many analogies to Mycenæ.(181)

Dr. Schliemann boldly announced in the _Times_, and the public believed
him, that he had found Agamemnon, and his companions, who were murdered
when they returned from the siege of Troy. The burial is indeed quite
different from any such ceremony described in the Homeric poems. The
number of fifteen is not to be accounted for by any of the legends. There
is no reason to think all the tombs have been discovered; one, or at least
part of the treasure belonging to it, was since found outside the circle.
Another was afterward found by M. Stamatakes. Æschylus, our oldest and
best authority, places the tomb of Agamemnon, not at Mycenæ, but at Argos.
They all agree that he was buried with contempt and dishonor. The result
was, that when the public came to hear the Agamemnon theory disproved, it
was disposed to take another leap in the dark, and to look upon the whole
discovery as suspicious, and as possibly something mediæval.

Such an inference would be as absurd as to accept the hypothesis of Dr.
Schliemann. The tombs are undoubtedly very ancient, certainly far more
ancient than the supposed date of Homer, or even of Agamemnon. The
treasures which have been carried to Athens, and which I saw and handled
at the National Bank, are not only really valuable masses of gold, but
have a good deal of beauty of workmanship, both in design and decoration.
Though the masks are very ugly and barbarous, and though there is in
general no power shown of moulding any animal figure, there are very
beautiful cups and jugs, there are most elegant geometrical
ornaments—zigzags, spirals, and the like—and there are even imitations of
animals of much artistic merit. The celebrated silver bull’s head, with
golden horns, is a piece of work which would not disgrace a goldsmith of
our day; and this may be said of many of the ornaments. Any one who knows
the Irish gold ornaments in the Academy Museum in Dublin perceives a
wonderful family likeness in the old Irish spirals and decorations, yet
not more than might occur among two separate nations working with the same
materials under similar conditions. But I feel convinced that the best
things in the tombs at Mycenæ were not made by native artists, but
imported, probably from Syria and Egypt. This seems proved even by the
various materials which have been employed—ivory, alabaster, amber; in one
case even an ostrich egg. So we shall, perhaps, in the end come back upon
the despised legends of Cadmus and Danaus, and find that they told us
truly of an old cultured race coming from the South and the East to
humanize the barbarous progenitors of the Greeks.

I can now add important corroborations of these general conclusions from
the researches made since the appearance of my earlier editions. I then
said that the discoveries were too fresh and dazzling to admit of safe
theories concerning their origin. By way of illustration I need only
allude to those _savants_ (they will hereafter be obliged to me for
omitting their names) who imagined that all the Mycenæan tombs were not
archaic at all, but the work of northern barbarians who occupied Greece
during the disasters of the later Roman Empire! Serious researches,
however, have at last brought us considerable light. In the first place
Helbig, in an important work comparing the treasures of Mycenæ with the
allusions to art, arms, and manufactures in the Homeric poems, came to the
negative conclusion that these two civilizations were distinct—that the
Homeric poets cannot have had before them the palace of Mycenæ which owned
the Schliemann treasures. As there is no room in Greek history for such a
civilization posterior to the Homeric poems, it follows that the latter
must describe a civilization considerably later than that we have found at
Mycenæ. Placing the Homeric poems in the eighth century B. C. we shall be
led to about 1000 B. C. as the latest possible date for the splendors of
Mycenæ. But this negative conclusion has been well-nigh demonstrated by
the positive results of the various recent researches in Egypt. Not only
has the Egypt Exploration Society examined carefully the sites of
Naucratis and Daphne, thus disclosing to us what Greek art and manufacture
could produce in the sixth and seventh centuries B. C. (665–565 B. C.),
but Mr. Flinders Petrie has enriched our knowledge by his wonderful
discoveries of Egyptian art on several sites, and of many epochs, fairly
determinable by the reigning dynasties. He has recently (1890) examined
the Mycenæan and other pre-historic treasures collected at Athens, by the
light of his rich Egyptian experience, and has given a summary of the
results in two short articles in the _Journal of Hellenic Studies_.

He finds that the materials and their treatment, such as blue glass, even
in its decomposition, alabaster, rock-crystal, hollowed and painted
within, dome-head rivets attaching handles of gold cups, ostrich eggs with
handles attached, ties made for ornament in porcelain, are all to be found
in Egyptian tombs varying from 1400 to 1100 in date. His analysis leads
him to give the dates for the tombs I.-IV. at Mycenæ as 1200–1100 B. C.
That an earlier date is improbable is shown by the negative evidence that
none of the purely geometrical false-necked vases occur, such as are the
general product of 1400–1200 in Egyptian deposits. But as several isolated
articles are of older types, as in particular the lions over the gate are
quite similar to a gilt wooden lion he found of about 1450 B. C. in date,
the Mycenæan civilization probably extended over a considerable period. He
even finds proof of decadence in grave IV. as compared with the rest, and
so comes to the conclusion, which I am disposed to question, that the
tombs within the circle at Mycenæ (shaft-tombs) are later and worse
interments made by the same people who had already built the more majestic
and costly bee-hive tombs. Instead therefore of upholding a Phrygian
origin, Mr. Petrie asserts an Egyptian origin for both Mycenæan and
parallel Phrygian designs. The spiral pattern in its various forms, the
rosettes, the keyfret, the palmetto, are all used in very early Egyptian
decoration. The inlaid daggers of Mycenæ have long been recognized as
inspired by Egypt; but we must note that it is native work and not merely
an imported article. The attitude of the figures and of the lions, and the
form of the cat, are such as no Egyptian would have executed. To make such
things in Greece implies a far higher culture than merely to import them.
The same remark applies to the glazed pottery; the style of some is not
Egyptian, so that here the Mycenæans were capable of elaborate technical
work, and imitated, rather than imported from Egypt.... The familiarity
with Egypt is further proved by the lotus pattern on the dagger-blade, by
the cat on the dagger, and the cats on the gold foil ornaments, since the
cat was then unknown in Greece. That the general range of the civilization
was that of Africa, is indicated by the frequent use of the palm (not then
known in Greece) as a decoration, and by the very scanty clothing of the
male figures, indicating that dress was not a necessity of climate. On the
other hand this culture reached out to the north of Europe. The
silver-headed reindeer or elk, found in grave IV., can only be the result
of northern intercourse. The amber so commonly used comes from the Baltic.
And we see in Celtic ornament the obvious reproduction of the decorations
of Mycenæ, as Mr. Arthur Evans has shown. Not only is the spiral
decoration indistinguishable,(182) but also the taste for elaborately
embossed diadems and breastplates of gold is peculiar to the Mycenæan and
Celtic cultures. The great period of Mycenæ seems therefore to date
1300–1100 B. C., with occasional traditional links with Egypt as far back
as 1500 or 1600 B. C.

Such is an abstract of Mr. Petrie’s estimate.(183)

I will only here point out, in addition, the remarkable unity of style
between the ornaments found at a depth of twenty-five feet in the tombs,
the sculptured tombstones twelve or fourteen feet over them, and the lions
on the gate of the citadel. It is, indeed, only a general uniformity, but
it corroborates Mr. Petrie’s inference that there was more than mere
importing; there was home manufacture. But still among the small gold
ornaments in the tombs were found several pairs of animals placed opposite
each other in this strictly _heraldic_ fashion, and even on the engraved
gems this symmetry is curiously frequent. It seems, then, that the art of
Mycenæ had not changed when its early history came to a close, and its
inhabitants were forced to abandon the fortress and submit to the now
Doric Argos.

We are, indeed, told expressly by Pausanias and Diodorus that this event
did not take place till after the Persian wars, when old Hellenic art was
already well defined, and was beginning to make rapid progress. But this
express statement, which I saw reason to question since my former remarks
on the subject in this book, I am now determined to reject, in the face of
the inconsistencies of these historians, the silence of all the
contemporaries of the alleged conquest, and the exclusively archaic
remains which Dr. Schliemann has unearthed. Mycenæ, along with Tiryns,
Midea, and the other towns of the plain, was incorporated into Argos at a
far earlier date, and not posterior to the brilliant rule of Pheidon. So
it comes that historical Greece is silent about the ancient capital of the
Pelopids, and the poets transfer all its glories to Argos. Once, indeed,
the name did appear on the national records. The offerings to the gods at
Olympia, and at Delphi, after the victory over the Persians, recorded that
a few patriots—460 in all—from Mycenæ and from Tiryns had joined the
Greeks at Platæa, while the remainder of the Argives preserved a base and
cowardly neutrality. The Mycenæans were very few in number; sixty are
mentioned in connection with Thermopylæ by Herodotus. They were probably
exiles through Greece, who had preserved their traditions and their
descent, and gloried in exposing and insulting Argive Medism. The
Tirynthian 400 may even have been the remnant of the slave population,
which Herodotus tells us seized the citadel of Tiryns, when driven out
from Argos twenty years before, and who lived there for some years. In the
crisis of Platæa the Greeks were not dainty or critical, and they may have
readily conceded the title of Tirynthian to these doubtful citizens, out
of hatred and disgust at the neutrality of Argos. However these things may
be, the mention of Mycenæans and Tirynthians on this solitary occasion
afforded an obvious warrant to Diodorus for his date of the destruction of
Mycenæ. But I am convinced that his authority, and that of Pausanias, who
follows him, must be deliberately rejected.

On the other hand, the origin of Mycenæ, and its greatness as a royal
residence, must be thrown back into a far deeper antiquity than any one
had yet imagined. If Agamemnon and his house represent Hellenic princes,
of the type of Homer’s knowledge and acquaintance, they must have arisen
after some older, and apparently different dynasties had ruled and had
buried their dead at Mycenæ.(184) But it is also possible that the Homeric
bards, describing professedly the acts of a past age, imposed their new
manners, and their own culture, upon the Pelopids, whom they only knew by
vague tradition, and that thus their drawing is false; while the chiefs
they glorify were the ancient pre-Hellenic rulers of the country. This
latter supposition is so shocking a heresy against “Homer” that I will not
venture to expand it, and will leave the reader to add any conjectures he
chooses to those which I have already hazarded in too great number.

When the splendid findings of Dr. Schliemann are taken out of their
bandboxes in the Bank of Athens, and arranged in the National Museum;(185)
when the diligence of Greek archæologists investigates thoroughly the
remainder of the site at Mycenæ, which is not nearly exhausted; when new
accidents (such as the discoveries at Sparta and Vaphio) and new
researches enlarge these treasures perhaps a thousand-fold, there will be
formed at Athens a museum of pre-historic art which will not have its
equal in the world (except at Cairo), and which will introduce us to an
epoch of culture which we hardly yet suspected, when writing and coinage
were unknown, when the Greeks had not reached unto their name, or possibly
their language, but when, nevertheless, considerable commerce existed,
when wonderful skill had already been attained in arts and manufactures,
and when men had even accumulated considerable wealth and splendor in
well-established centres of power.

The further investigation of the remains of Mycenæ, with the additional
evidence derived from the ruins of Tiryns, presently to be described, have
led Dr. Adler to explain Mycenæ as the record of a double foundation,
first by a race who built rubble masonry, and buried their dead in narrow
rock-tombs or graves, piling on the bodies their arms and ornaments;
secondly, after some considerable interval, by a race who built splendid
ashlar masonry, with well-cut blocks, and who constructed great beehive
tombs, where the dead could lie with ample room in royal state. The second
race enlarged, rebuilt, and refaced the old fortifications, added the
present lion gate, and built the so-called treasure-houses. For
convenience’ sake he calls them, according to the old legends, Perseids
and Pelopids respectively. Hence the tombs which Dr. Schliemann found were
really far older than any one had at first supposed, and if the record of
Homer points distinctly to the Pelopids, then the gold and jewels of a far
earlier people were hidden deep underground in the foundation of
Agamemnon’s fortress, merely marked by a sacred circle of stones and some
archaic gravestones.

To which of these stages of building do the ruins of Tiryns belong?
Apparently to the earlier, though here, again, the size of the stones used
is far greater than those in the first Mycenæ, and it is now certain that
the beginnings of artificial shaping are discernible in them. Since the
second edition of this book the walls have been uncovered and examined by
Dr. Schliemann, with the valuable advice and assistance of Dr. Dörpfeld,
so that I may conclude this chapter with a brief summary of the results
they have attained.

The upper part of the rock of Tiryns, which consisted of two plateaus or
levels, was known to contain remains of building by the shafts which Dr.
Schliemann had already sunk there in former years. But now a very
different method of excavating was adopted—that of uncovering the surface
in layers, so that successive strata of debris might be clearly
distinguished. This exceedingly slow and laborious process, which I saw
going on for days at Tiryns with very little result, brought out in the
end the whole plan of a palace, with its gates, floors, parting walls, and
pillar bases, so that in the admirable drawing to be seen in the book
called _Tiryns_, Dr. Dörpfeld has given us the first clear view of an old
Greek, or perhaps even pre-Hellenic, palace. The partial agreement with
the plan of the palaces of Troy, and of Mycenæ, since discovered, and the
adoption in Hellenic temples of the plan of entrance, here several times
repeated—two pillars between antæ—show that the palace at Tiryns was not
exceptional, but typical.

All the gates leading up into this palace are still distinctly marked by
the threshold or door-sill, a great stone, lying in its place, with
grooves inserted for the pivots of the doors, which were of wood, but had
their pivots shod with bronze, as was proved by the actual remains. These
doors divided a double porch, entered either way between two pillars of
wood, standing upon stone bases still in their place, and flanked by antæ,
which were below of stone and above of wood dowelled into the stone piers.
All the upper structure of the gates, and, indeed, of all the palace,
seems to have been of wood. There are clear signs of a great
conflagration, in which the palace perished. This implies the existence of
ample fuel, and while the ashes, mud-bricks, etc., remain, no trace of
architrave, or pillar, or roof has been found. There are gates of similar
design leading into the courts and principal chamber of the palace, the
floors of which are covered with a careful lime concrete marked with line
patterns, and so sloped as to afford easy drainage into a vent leading to
pipes of terra cotta, which carried off water. The same careful
arrangements are observed in the bath-room, with a floor of one great
stone, twelve feet by nine, which is likewise pierced to carry off water.
The remains of a terra cotta tub were found there, and the walls of the
room were panelled with wood, set into the raised edge of the floor-stone
by dowels sunk in the stone. No recent discovery is more interesting than

Of the walls little remains but the foundations, and here and there a
couple of feet of mud-bricks, with signs of beams let into them, which
added to the conflagration. But enough remains to show that the walls of
the better rooms were richly covered with ornament. There is a fresco of a
bull still preserved, and reproduced in Dr. Schliemann’s book; and there
was also found a very remarkable frieze ornament in rosettes and brooch
patterns, made of blue glass paste (supposed to be Homer’s _κύανος_) and
alabaster. This valuable relic shows remarkable analogies in design to
other prehistoric ornaments found in Greece.

The size of the main hall, or men’s apartment, is very large, the floor
covering about 120 square yards, and the parallel room in the palace at
Troy was consequently taken to be the cella of a temple. But there seems
no doubt that the great room at Tiryns, with a hearth in the middle and
four pillar bases near it, supporting, perhaps, a higher roof, with a
clerestory, was the main reception room of the palace; a smaller room of
similar construction, not connected with the former, save by a circuitous
route through passages, seems to have been the ladies’ drawing-room.

If I were to attempt any full description of this wonderful place I should
be obliged to copy out a great part of the fifth chapter in Dr.
Schliemann’s book, in which Dr. Dörpfeld has set down very modestly, but
very completely, the results of his own acuteness and research. Many
things which are now plain enough were perfect riddles till he found the
true solution, and the acuteness with which he has utilized the smallest
hints, as well as the caution of his conclusions, make this work of his a
very model of scientific induction.

He says, rightly enough, that a minute description is necessary, because a
very few years will cover up much of the evidence which he had plainly
before him. The concrete floors, the remains of mud-brick walls, the plan
of the various rooms, will be choked up with grass and weeds, unless they
are kept covered and cleared. The rain, which has long since washed all
traces of mortar out of the walls, will wash away far more now that the
site is opened, and so the future archæologist will find that the book
_Tiryns_ will tell him much that the actual Tiryns cannot show him.

The lower platform on the rock is not yet touched, and here perhaps
digging will discover to us the remains of a temple, from which one very
archaic Doric capital and an antefix have found their way to the higher
rock. There are traces, too, of the great fort being the second building
on the site, over an older and not yet clearly determined palace.

Two things are plain from these discoveries, and I dwell on them with
satisfaction, because they corroborate old opinions of mine, put forth
long before the principal evidence was forthcoming. First, the general use
of wood for pillars and architraves, so showing how naturally the stone
temple imitated the older wooden buildings. Secondly, the archaic or
ante-Hellenic character of all that was found at Tiryns, with the solitary
exception of the architectural fragments, which certainly have no building
to correspond to them where they were found. Thus my hypothesis, which
holds that Tiryns, as well as Mycenæ, was destroyed at least as early as
Pheidon’s time (660 B. C.), and not after the Persian wars, receives
corroboration which will amount to positive proof in any mind open to
evidence on the point.

                               CHAPTER XVI.

                             MEDIÆVAL GREECE.

When I first went to Greece, nearly twenty years ago, the few travellers
one met in the country never thought of studying its mediæval remains. We
were in search of classical art, we passed by Byzantine churches or
Frankish towers with contemptuous ignorance. Mr. Finlay’s great book,
indeed, was already written; but those who knew German and were bold
enough to attack the eight volumes which Ersch and Gruber’s _Encyclopædia_
devote to the article on Greece, had been taught by Hopf’s _Essay on
Mediæval Greece_ to fathom what depths dulness could attain. Whether the
author, or the odious paper, and type in its double columns, contributed
to this result, was of little consequence. The subject itself seemed
dreary beyond description. All the various peoples who invaded, swayed,
ravaged, colonized the country in the Dark Ages, seemed but
undistinguishable hordes of barbarians, of whom we knew nothing, about
whom we cared nothing, beyond a general hatred of them, as those who had
broken up and destroyed the splendid temples and fair statues that are now
the world’s desire. Even the very thorough and learned scholars, who
produced _Bædeker’s Greece_, a very few years ago, never thought of
putting in any information whatever, beyond their chronological table,
upon the many centuries which intervened between the close of paganism and
the recent regeneration of the country. The contempt for Byzantine work in
the East was in our early days like the contempt of Renaissance work in
the West. We were all Classical or Gothic in taste.

Now a great reaction is setting in. Instead of the dreadful Hopf, we have
the fascinating Gregorovius, whose _Mediæval Athens_ clothes even dry
details with the hue of fancy; the sober _Murray’s Guide_ includes Mt.
Athos and its wonders as part of its task. Recent travellers, and the
students at the Foreign Schools of Athens, tell us of curious churches and
their frescoes, and now Mr. Schultz, of the British school, has undertaken
to reproduce them with his pencil. Following the example of Pullen, whose
pictures have secured for posterity some record of the churches of
Salonica, so often threatened by fire, he will perpetuate the remnants of
an architecture and an art which were rapidly perishing from neglect. When
I was first at Athens men were seriously discussing the propriety of
razing to the ground the most striking of all the Byzantine churches at
Athens, because it stood in the thoroughfare which led from the palace to
the railway station! Historians tell us the dreadful fact, that over
seventy of these delicately quaint buildings were destroyed when the new
cathedral, a vulgar and senseless compromise in style, was constructed. A
few more years of Vandalism in Greece, a few more terrible fires at
Salonica and at Athos, and the world had lost its best records of a very
curious and distinctive civilization.

There are indeed no mean traces of this art in Adriatic Italy; the
exarchate at Ravenna, the eastern traffic of Venice, have shown their
influence on Italian art and architecture. The splendid mosaics of
Ravenna, nay, even the seven domes of S. Antonio at Verona, the frescoes
of the Giotto Chapel at Padua, above all, the great cathedral at Venice,
are all strongly colored—those of Ravenna even produced—by Byzantine art.
Yet most travellers who visit S. Mark’s at Venice have never seen a
Byzantine church, and do not feel its Eastern parentage; still fewer visit
the splendid basilica of Parenzo, which is a still more unmistakable
example. But to those who have turned aside from Olympia and Parthenon to
study the early Christian remains in Greece, all this art of Eastern Italy
will acquire a new interest and a deeper meaning.

These are the reasons which have tempted me to say a few words on this
side of Greek travel. I do not pretend to speak as an authority; I only
desire to stimulate a nascent interest which will presently make what I
say seem simple and antiquated. But as yet even high authorities are very
much in the dark about these things. What would a student of Gothic
architecture say to a discussion whether an extant building belonged to
the fourth century or the eleventh? and yet such divergent views are still
maintained concerning the origin of the Athenian churches.

Let us begin with the best and quaintest, the so-called _Old Cathedral_,
which was fortunately allowed to stand beside its ugly and pretentious
successor. The first thing which strikes us is the exceeding smallness of
the dimensions, it is like one of the little chapels you find in
Glendalough and elsewhere in Ireland. I do not know whether the Greeks
contemplated a congregation kneeling in the open air, as was the case
around these chapels in Ireland, but such edifices were certainly intended
in the first instance as holy places for sacerdotal celebrations, not as
houses of prayer for the people. I was told on Mt. Athos that it was not
the practice of the Greek church to celebrate more than one service in any
one Church daily. Hence the monks, who are making prayer continually, have
twenty or thirty chapels within the precincts of each monastery. Perhaps a
similar motive may have led to the construction of a great number of
smaller churches at Athens, where seventy have already been destroyed, and
at Salonica, where remains of them are still being frequently discovered.
Perhaps, also, that desire to consecrate to the religion of Christ the
hallowed places of the heathen, which turned the Parthenon and the temple
of Theseus into churches, also prompted the Byzantine bishops to set up
chapels upon smaller heathen sanctuaries, where no stately temple existed,
and mere consecration would have left no patent symbol of Christian

But if this Cathedral is small, it has the proper beauty of minute art; it
is covered with rich decoration. All its surfaces show carved fragments
not only of classical, but of earlier Byzantine work—friezes, reliefs,
inscriptions, capitals—all so disposed with a general correspondence or
symmetry as to produce the effect of a real design. Moreover, this foreign
ornament is set in a building strictly Byzantine in form, with its rich
doorway, its tiny windows with their high semicircular arches supported on
delicate capitals, and toned by the centuries of Attic dust to that rich
gold brown which has turned the Parthenon from marble almost to ruddy
gold. Never was there greater harmony and unity attained by the most
deliberate patch-work. In the earlier works on Byzantine art, this church
was confidently assigned to the sixth century. Buchon found upon it the
arms of La Roche and of Villehardouin, so that he assigned it to the
thirteenth. The character of the other buildings of these knights makes me
doubt that they and their friends could have constructed such a church—the
Western monks then built Latin churches in Greece—and I suppose that the
arms, which I could not find, were only carved by the Franks upon the
existing building. But I will not therefore subscribe to the sixth-century

Of the remaining churches three only, the Kapnikarea, the Virgin of the
Monastery, and S. Theodore, are worth studying, as specimens of the
typical form of such buildings. The main plan is a square, surmounted by a
cupola supported on four pillars, with a corridor or porch on the West
side, and three polygonal apses on the East. Lesser cupolas often surround
the central dome. The height and slenderness of this central dome is
probably the clearest sign of comparative lateness in these buildings,
which used to be attributed to the fourth and fifth centuries, but are now
degraded to the eleventh. The earliest form is no doubt that of the
massive S. George’s at Salonica—a huge Rotunda covered with a flat dome,
not unlike the Pantheon at Rome, with nothing but richly ornamented
niches, and a splendid mosaic ceiling in the dome, to give relief to a
very plain design. The successive complications and refinements added to
this simple structure may be studied even in the later churches of

The traveller who has whetted his taste for this peculiar form of mediæval
art, and desires to study it further, will find within reach of Athens two
monasteries well worth a visit, that of the Phæneromené on Salamis, a very
fair specimen of an undisturbed Greek monastery, and that of Daphne, which
may be ranked with the ruins of Mistra as showing clear traces of the
conflict of East and West, of Latin with Greek Christianity. This
sanctuary, with its now decaying walls, succeeded as usual to a pagan
shrine with hardly altered name. The Saints, still pictured in black and
gold upon the walls, and worshipped upon their festivals, have become
fantastic and unreal beings, well enough adapted to that mixture of
superstition and nationalism which is the body of the Greek religion, and,
despite a purer creed, not very far removed from the religious instincts
of the old Hellenic race. Five or six wretched monks still occupy the
dilapidated building, vegetating in sleepy idleness; they do nothing but
repeat daily their accustomed prayers, and receive dues for allowing the
people of the neighboring hamlets to kiss, once or twice a year, a
dreadful-looking S. Elias, painted olive-brown on a gold background, or to
light the nightly lamp at the wayside shrine of a saint black with smoke.

The structure as we now see it is chiefly the work of the Cistercians who
accompanied Otho de la Roche from Champagne to his dukedom of Athens, and
was established round a far older Byzantine church and monastery. Like all
mediæval convents, it is fortified, and the whole settlement, courts and
gardens included, is surrounded by a crenelated wall, originally about
thirty feet high.

There are occasional towers in the wall, and remains of arches supporting
a passage of sufficient altitude for the defenders to look over the
battlements. The old church in the centre of the court has had a narthex
or nave added in Gothic style by the Benedictines, and here again are
battlements, from which the monks could send down stones or boiling liquid
upon assailants who penetrated the outer walls. Three sides of the court
are surrounded by buildings; beneath, there are massive arcades of stone
for the kitchen, store-rooms, and refectory; above, wooden galleries which
supplied the monks with their cells. Most of this is now in ruins,
occupied in part by peasants and their sheep. But the church, both in its
external simplicity and its internal grandeur, is remarkable for the
splendid decoration of its walls with mosaics, which, alas! have been
allowed to decay as much from the indolence of the Greeks as the
intolerance of the Turks. In fact, while some care and regard for
classical remains have gradually been instilled into the minds of the
inhabitants—of course, money value is an easily understood test—the
respect for their splendid mediæval remains has only gained Western
intellects within the last two or three years, so that we may expect
another generation to elapse before this new kind of interest will be
disseminated among the possessors of so great a bequest from the Middle

The interior of the church at Daphne is a melancholy example. From the
effects of damp the mortar has loosened, and great patches of the precious
mosaic have fallen to the ground. You can pick up handfulls of glazed and
gilded fragments, of which the rich surfaces were composed. Here and there
a Turkish bullet has defaced a solemn Saint, while the fires lit by
soldiers in days of war, and by shepherds in time of peace, have, in many
places, blackened the roof beyond recognition. Within the central cupola a
gigantic head of Christ on gold ground is still visible, or was so when I
saw the place in 1889; but the whole roof was in danger of falling, and
the Greek Government, at the instigation of Dr. Dörpfeld, had undertaken
to stay the progress of decay, and so the building was filled with
scaffolding. This, however, enabled us to mount close to the figures,
which in the short and high building are seen with difficulty from the
ground, and so we distinguished clearly round the base of the cupola the
twelve Apostles, in the bay arches the prophets, in the transepts the
Annunciation, the Nativity, the Baptism, and the Transfiguration of
Christ—all according to the strict models laid down for such ornaments by
the Greek Church. The drawings are indeed stiff and grotesque, but the
gloom and mystery of the building hide all imperfections, and give to
these imposing figures in black and gold a certain majesty, which must
have been felt tenfold by simple worshippers not trained in habits of
æsthetic criticism.

We have, unfortunately, no records of the history of these convents, as in
the case of many Western abbeys, and the old chronicles of wars and
pestilences seldom mention this quiet life. We should fain, says M. Henri
Belle, have followed the fortunes of these monks who left some fair abbey
in Burgundy to catechise schismatics in this distant land, and bring their
preaching to aid the sword of the Crusaders; but these Crusaders were
generally intent on changing their cross for a crown, and were therefore
not at all likely to favor the rigid proselytism of the Cistercians. It is
very interesting to know that Innocent III., that great pope, who from the
outset disapproved of the violent overthrow of the Christian Empire of the
East, was the first to recommend, both to the conquerors and their clergy,
such moderation as might serve to bring back the schismatic Greeks to the
Roman fold. There are still extant several of his letters to the abbeys of
the Morea, and to this abbey of the duchy of Athens, showing that even his
authority and zeal in this matter were unable to restrain the bigotry of
the Latin monks. There were frequent quarrels, too, between these monks of
Daphne and their Duke, and frequent appeals to the sovran pontiff to
regulate the relations between the civil authority, which claimed the
right of suzerain, and the religious orders, which claimed absolute
independence and immunity from all feudal obligations. Still, in spite of
all disputes, the abbey was the last resting-place of the Frankish Dukes
of Athens, and in a vault beneath the narthex were found several of their
rude stone coffins, without inscription or ornament. One only has carved
upon it the arms of the second Guy de la Roche, third Duke of Athens—two
entwined serpents surmounted with two fleurs-de-lis. Guy II., says the
chronicle, behaved as a gallant lord, beloved of all, and attained great
renown in every kingdom. He sleeps here, not in the darkness of oblivion,
but obscured by greater monuments of the greater dead. Yet I cannot but
dally over this interesting piece of mediæval history, the more so as it
explains the strange title of Theseus, Duke of Athens, in Shakespeare’s
immortal _Midsummer Night’s Dream_, as well as the curious fact, at least
to classical readers, that the poet should have chosen mediæval Athens as
a court of gracious manners, and suitable for the background of his fairy

Neglecting geography, I shall carry the reader next to the very analogous
ruins of Mistra, where, however, it was rather the Greek that supplanted
the Latin, than the Latin the Greek ecclesiastic.

When the Franks invaded Greece a very remarkable family, the
Villehardouins, seized a part of the Morea, and presently built Mistra,
above Sparta; it was adorned with fair Gothic churches and palaces, and
surmounted by a fortress. Sixty years after the conquest, William
Villehardouin was captured by a new Byzantine emperor Palæologus, who was
recovering his dominion. The Frank was obliged to cede for his ransom the
forts of Mistra and Monemvasia, which from that time were strongholds of
the Byzantine power till the conquest of the Turks. Still the
Villehardouins long kept hold of Kalamata and other forts; and to the pen
of one of the family, Geoffrey, we owe the famous old chronicle _La
Conquête de Constantinople_, which is unique in its importance both as a
specimen of old French and a piece of mediæval history.

The architecture of Mistra, begun at a noble epoch by the Latins, was
taken up by the Byzantine Greeks, so that we have both styles combined in
curious relics of the now deserted stronghold. For, since 1850, when an
earthquake shook down many houses, the population wandered to the revived
Sparta, which is now a thriving town. But as the old Sparta in its
greatest days was only a collection of shabby villages, showing no outward
sign of its importance, so the new and vulgar Sparta has no attractions
(save the lovely orange and lemon orchards round it) in comparison with
the mediæval Mistra. The houses are piled one above another till you reach
the summit crowned by the citadel which, itself a mountain, is severed
from the higher mountains at its back by a deep gorge with a tumbling
river. “The whole town is now nothing but ruined palaces, churches, and
houses. You wander up rudely-paved streets rising zigzag, and pass beneath
arches on which are carved the escutcheons of French knights. You enter
courts overgrown with grass, but full of memories of the Crusaders. It is
the very home of the Middle Ages. Passing through these streets, now the
resort of lizards and serpents, you come upon Frankish tombs, among others
that of Theodora Tocco, wife of the Emperor Constantine Palæologus, who
died in 1430. The Panagia is the only church well preserved—a Latin
basilica, with a portico in the form of an Italian loggia, and a Byzantine
tower added to it. This building is highly ornamented with delicate
carving, and its walls are in alternate courses of brick and stone, while
the gates, columns, and floor are of marble. The interior is adorned with
Byzantine frescoes of scenes from the Old Testament. Higher up is the
metropolitan church, built by the Greeks as soon as William Villehardouin
had surrendered the fort in 1263. This great church is not so beautiful as
that already described, but has many peculiarities of no less interest.
The palace of the Frank princes was probably at the wide place on a higher
level, where the ruined walls show the remains of many Gothic windows. The
citadel was first rehandled by the Greek Palæologi, then by the Turks,
then by the Venetians, who in their turn seized this mediæval ‘Fetter of
Greece.’ And now all the traces of all these conquerors are lying together
confused in silence and decay. The heat of the sun in these narrow and
stony streets, with their high walls, is intense. But you cannot but pause
when you find in turn old Greek carving, Byzantine dedications, Roman
inscriptions, Frankish devices, emblazoned on the walls. The Turkish baths
alone are intact, and have resisted both weather and earthquake. But the
churches occupy the chief place still, dropping now and then a stone, as
it were a monumental tear for their glorious past; the Greek Cross, the
Latin Cross, the Crescent, have all ruled there in their turn. Even a pair
of ruined minarets remain to show the traces of that slavery to which the
people were subject for four hundred years.”

The occupation of the Frankish knights had not found an adequate
historian, since old Villehardouin, till Gregorovius wrote his _Mediæval
Athens_. The traveller still sees throughout Greece frequent traces of
this short domination, but all of one sort—the ruins of castles which the
knights had built to overawe their subjects, and of which Mistra was
perhaps the most important. The same invaders built the great towers at
Kalamata, and most picturesque of all is the keep over the town of
Karytena in Arcadia, the stronghold of Hugo de Bruyères. But the Frankish
devices which adorned these castles have been mostly torn down by the
Turks, or replaced by the Venetian lion, according as new invaders turned
the fortifications of their predecessors to their own uses. Nor are any of
these castles to be compared in size or splendor with those of northern
Europe. The most famous of them, the palace at Thebes, was so completely
destroyed by the Catalans, that all vestige of it has disappeared, and we
owe our knowledge of it to the description of the Catalan annalist, Ramon
Muntaner, who tells of the ravages of his fellows not without some stings
of his æsthetic conscience.

But let us pass from these complex ruins, which speak the conflict of the
East and West, to the peculiar quiet homes of the Greek monk, who spends
his time not in works of charity, not in labors of erudition, not in the
toil of education, like his western brother, but simply in performing an
arduous and exacting ritual, in praying, or rather in repeating prayers,
so many hours in the day, in observing fasts and vigils, above all in
maintaining the strict creed which has given the title of orthodox to his
Church. These resting-places (_μόνη_ is the suggestive word) are of course
settled in quiet regions, in the mountains, upon the islands, so that we
cannot expect them near a stirring capital like Athens. Yet in the gorge
of the defile which leads up to Phyle there is a little _skete_ (the house
of _ascetics_) lonely and wild in site; and by the sea on Salamis, nearly
over against Megara, the traveller will find a small but very
characteristic specimen of the Greek monastery, the _Panagia Phæneromené_.

There he will see the tiny cells, and the library, almost as small as any
of them, at the top of dark stairs, and containing some twenty volumes; he
will be received by the Hegoumenos with mastic and jam, and then with
coffee, and strive to satisfy the simple curiosity of the old men, who
seem so anxious to hear about the world, and yet have turned away their
eyes from seeing it. Above all, he will find in the midst of the enclosure
a little model Byzantine Church, built with the greatest neatness, of
narrow bricks, in which string courses and crosses are introduced by an
altered setting of the bricks. Here too he will see the curious practice,
which led to marble imitations at Venice, of ornamenting the walls by
building in green and blue pottery—apparently old Rhodian ware, for it is
not now to be found in use. It is a simpler form of the decoration already
described in the Cathedral of Athens, that of ornamenting a wall with
foreign objects symmetrically disposed, and no one who sees it will say
that it is inartistic. Within are the usual ornaments of the Byzantine
Church, but not in mosaic; for all the walls are covered with frescoes by
a monk of the early eighteenth century, a genius in his way, though
following strictly the traditions of the school of Athos. The traveller
who ascends the pulpit will thence see himself surrounded by very strange
pictures—over the west door, as is prescribed, the Last Judgment, with the
sins of men being weighed in a huge balance, and devils underneath trying
to pull down the fatal scale. The condemned are escorted by demons to an
enormous mouth breathing out flames—the mouth of hell. Beatitudes and
tortures supply the top and bottom of the composition. Even more quaint is
the miracle of the swine of the Gadarenes running down a steep place into
the sea. They are drowning in the waves, and on the head or back of each
is a little black devil trying to save himself from sinking. Similar
creatures are escaping from the statues of heathen gods which tumble from
the walls as the infant Jesus passes by on his flight to Egypt. This
points to the belief that the statues of heathen gods were inhabited by an
evil spirit, and so far actually bodies with souls within them!

These few details are sufficient to tempt the reader to visit this
monastery, which is far better worth seeing than the beautifully situated
and hospitable Vourkano described elsewhere in this work. I have no space
to speak of Megaspilion, for this book must be kept within handy limits,
and can never aspire to even approximate completeness. So also will I here
pass by with a mere mention the eyries of Meteora in Thessaly, perched
upon strange pinnacles of rock, like S. Simeon upon his pillar. The
approach to, and descent from, these monasteries in a swinging net is
indeed a strange adventure to undergo, and more painfully unpleasant than
most such adventures, but at the top there is little of interest. The
hoards of precious MSS. which Curzon describes in his delightful volume,
over which the monks quarrelled when he offered gold, and would not sell
them because none would allow his brother to enjoy the money—these
splendid illuminated books have either been cozened away by antiquarians,
or are gathered in the University Library at Athens. They are there in
their right place. I understand the peaks of Meteora, when the present
occupants die out, are to receive not holy men, but criminals, who are to
suffer their solitary confinement not in dungeons beneath the earth, but
far above the haunts of men.

But all these monastic settlements pale into insignificance when we turn
to Mount Athos, the real Holy of Holies of the Greek Church, which is
indeed far from the kingdom of Greece, and therefore beyond the scope of
this work, and yet a chapter on the mediævalism of Eastern Europe can
hardly be written without some consideration of this strange promontory,
in its beauty surpassing all description, in its history unique both for
early progress and for subsequent unchangeableness, in its daily life a
faithful mirror of long past centuries, even as its buildings are now
mediæval castles inhabited by mediæval men. I will here set down the
impressions, from a visit made in 1889, not merely of the art, but of the
life of this, the most distinctive as well as the largest example of Greek

_Velificatus Athos_ is an expression which has a meaning even now, though
a very different one from that implied by Juvenal. The satirist would not
believe that Xerxes turned it into an island, though the remains of the
canal are plainly visible to the present day. But now the incompetence of
the Turkish Government has turned Athos, for English travellers, into an
island, for it may only be approached by sea. If you attempt to ride there
from Salonica or Cavalla, you are at once warned that you do so at your
own risk; that the tariff now fixed by a joint commission of Turks,
dragomans, and bandits for the release of an English captive is £15,000;
that you will have to pay that sum yourself, etc. etc. This is enough to
drive any respectable and responsible person from the enterprise of the
land journey, and so he must wait for the rare and irregular chances of
boat or steamer traffic. It was my good fortune to find one of H. M.’s
ships going that way from Salonica, and with a captain gracious enough to
drop me on the headland, or rather to throw me up on it, for we landed in
a heavy sea, with considerable risk and danger, and the _τρικυμία_, as
they classically call it, lasted all day, and raged around the Holy
Mountain. Yet this adventurous way of landing under the great western
cliffs of the promontory, with the monasteries of S. Paul, Gregory, and
Dionysius, each on their several peaks, looking down upon us from a dizzy
height through the stormy mists, was doubtless far the most picturesque
introduction we could have had to the long-promised land.

For this had been many years my desire, not only to see the strangest and
most perfect relic now extant of mediæval superstition, but to find, if
possible, in the early MSS. which throng the libraries of that famous
retreat some cousin, if not some uncle or aunt of the great illuminated
MSS. which are the glory of the early Irish Church. The other travellers
who have reached this place have done so by arriving at some legitimate
port on the tamer eastern side; the latest, Mr. Riley,(186) by landing at
the gentlest and most humane spot of all, the bay of Vatopédi. We, on the
contrary, crept into a little boat-harbor under the strictest, the most
primitive, and far the most beautiful of the western eagles’ nests,
whither English pickles, tinned lobster, and caviare have not yet
penetrated. We were doing a very informal and unceremonious thing, for we
were invading the outlying settlements, to demand shelter and hospitality,
whereas we should have first of all proceeded to the capital, Karyes, to
present pompous letters of introduction from Papas, Prime Ministers,
Patriarchs, and to receive equally elaborate missives from the central
committee, asking the several monasteries to entertain us.

But we took the place by storm, not by regular siege. We showed our
letters, when we climbed up to Dionysiu, as they call it, and prayed them
to forestall the hospitality which they would doubtless show us, if we
returned with official sanction. The good monks were equal to the
occasion; they waived ceremony, though ceremony lords it in these
conservative establishments, and every violation of it is called a
_προσβολή_, probably the greatest sin that a monk can commit. At every
step of our route this obstacle stood before us, and had we attempted to
force our way past it, no doubt our dumb mules would have spoken, and
reproved our madness. Yet when they had before them all the missives which
were to be read at Karyes next day, to be followed up by a letter
addressed to themselves, they actually antedated their hospitality and
made us feel at home and happy.

Nowhere have I seen more perfect and graceful hospitality in spirit,
nowhere a more genuine attempt to feed the hungry and shelter the outcast,
even though the means and materials of doing so were often very inadequate
to Western notions. But let me first notice the extant comforts. We always
had ample room in special strangers’ apartments, which occupy the highest
and most picturesque place in every monastery. We always had clean beds to
sleep in, nor were we disturbed by any unbidden bedfellows, these
creatures having (as we were told) made it a rule of etiquette never to
appear or molest any one till after Pascha, the Feast of the Resurrection.
The feast was peculiarly late this year, and the weather perfect summer;
still the insects carefully avoided any such _προσβολή_ toward us as to
violate their Lenten fast. In addition to undisturbed nights—a great boon
to weary travellers—we had always good black bread, and fresh every day;
we had also excellent Turkish coffee, and fortunately most wholesome, for
the ceremony of the place requires you to drink it whenever you enter, and
whenever you leave, any domicile whatever. Seven or eight times a day did
we partake of this luxury and without damage to digestion or nerves. There
was also sound red wine, and plenty of it, varying according to the
makers, but mostly good, and only in one case slightly resinated. There
were also excellent hazel-nuts, often served hot, roast in a pan, and very

What else was there good? There was jam of many kinds, all good, though
unfortunately served neat, and to be eaten in spoonfuls, without any
bread, till at last we committed the _prosvolé_ of asking to have it
brought back when there was bread on the table. There were also eggs in
abundance, just imported to be ready for Easter, and therefore fresh, and
served _au plat_. Nor had we anywhere to make the complaint so pathetic in
Mr. Riley’s book, that the oil or butter used in cooking was rancid. This
is the advantage of going in spring, or rather one of the many advantages,
that both oil and butter (the latter is of course rare) were quite

When I say that butter was rare and eggs imported, I assume that the
reader knows of the singularity of Athos, which consists in the absence of
the greatest feature of human life—woman, and all inferior imitations of
her in the animal world. Not a cow, not a goat, not a hen, not a cat, of
that sex! And this for centuries! Three thousand monks, kept up by
importation, three thousand laborers or servants, imported likewise, but
no home production of animals—that is considered odious and impious. And
when, in this remote nook of extreme conservatism, this one refuge from
the snares and wiles of Eve, a Russian monk seriously proposed to us the
propriety of admitting the other sex, we felt a shock as of an earthquake,
and began to understand the current feeling that the Russians were pushing
their influence at Athos, in order to transform the Holy Mountain into a
den of political thieves.

Nothing is more curious than to study the effects, upon a large society,
of the total exclusion of the female sex. It is commonly thought that men
by themselves must grow rude and savage; that it is to women we owe all
the graces and refinements of social intercourse. Nothing can be further
from the truth. I venture to say that in all the world there is not so
perfectly polite and orderly a society as that of Athos. As regards
hospitality and gracious manners, the monks and their servants put to
shame the most polished Western people. Disorder, tumult, confusion, seem
impossible in this land of peace. If they have differences, and squabble
about rights of property, these things are referred to law courts, and
determined by argument of advocates, not by disputing and high words among
the claimants. While life and property is still unsafe on the mainland,
and on the sister peninsulas of Cassandra and Longos, Athos has been for
centuries as secure as any county in England. So far, then, all the
evidence is in favor of the restriction. Many of the monks, being carried
to the peninsula in early youth, have completely forgotten what a woman is
like, except for the brown smoky pictures of the _Panagia_ with her infant
in all the churches, which the strict iconography of the orthodox Church
has made as unlovely and non-human as it is possible for a picture to be.
So far, so well.

But if the monks imagined they could simply expunge the other sex from
their life without any but the obvious consequences, they were mistaken.
What strikes the traveller is not the rudeness, the untidyness, the
discomfort of a purely male society, it is rather its dulness and
depression. Some of the older monks were indeed jolly enough; they drank
their wine, and cracked their jokes freely. But the novices who attended
at table, the men and boys who had come from the mainland to work as
servants, muleteers, laborers, seemed all suffering under a permanent
silence and sadness. The town of Karyes is the most sombre and gloomy
place I ever saw. There are no laughing groups, no singing, no games among
the boys. Every one looked serious, solemn, listless, vacant, as the case
might be, but devoid of keenness and interest in life. At first one might
suspect that the monks were hard taskmasters, ruling their servants as
slaves; but this is not the real solution. It is that the main source of
interest and cause of quarrel in all these animals, human and other, does
not exist. For the dulness was not confined to the young monks or the
laity; it had invaded even the lower animals. The tom-cats, which were
there in crowds, passed one another in moody silence along the roofs. They
seemed permanently dumb. And if the cocks had not lost their voice, and
crowed frequently in the small hours of the morning, their note seemed to
me a wail, not a challenge—the clear though unconscious expression of a
great want in their lives.

How different were the notes of the nightingales, the pigeons, the jays,
whose wings emancipate them from monkish restrictions; and whose music
fills with life all the enchanting glens, brakes, and forests in this
earthly Paradise!

For if an exquisite situation in the midst of historic splendor, a
marvellous variety of outline and climate, and a vegetation rich and
undisturbed beyond comparison, can make a modern Eden possible, it is
here. Nature might be imagined gradually improving in her work when she
framed the three peninsulas of the Chalcidice. The westernmost, the old
Pallene, once the site of the historic Olynthus, is broad and flat, with
no recommendation but its fertility; the second, Sithonia, makes some
attempt at being picturesque, having an outline of gently serrated hills,
which rise, perhaps, to one thousand feet, and are dotted with woods.
Anywhere else, Sithonia may take some rank, but within sight of the mighty
Olympus, and beside the giant Athos, it remains obscure and without a
history. Athos runs out into the Ægean, with its outermost cone standing
six thousand five hundred feet out of the sea, and as such is (I believe)
far the most striking headland in Europe. You may see higher Alps, but
from a height, and with intervening heights to lessen the effect; you may
see higher Carpathians, but from the dull plain of land in Hungary. Here
you can enjoy the full splendor of the peak from the sea, from the fringe
of white breakers round the base up to the pale-gray, snow-streaked dome,
which reaches beyond torrent and forest into heaven. Within two or three
hours you can ascend from gardens of oranges and lemons, figs and olives,
through woods of arbutus, myrtle, cytisus, heath, and carpets of
forget-me-not, anemone, iris, orchid, to the climate of primroses and
violets, and to the stunted birch and gnarled fir which skirt the regions
of perpetual snow. Moreover, the gradually-increasing ridge which forms
the backbone of the peninsula is seamed on both sides with constant glens
and ravines, in each of which tumbling water gives movement to the view,
and life to the vegetation which, even where it hides in its rich
luxuriance the course of the stream, cannot hush the sounding voice. Here
the nightingale sings all the day long, and the fair shrubs grow,
unmolested by those herds of wandering goats, which are the real locusts
of the wild lands of southern Europe.

Each side of the main ridge has its peculiarities of vegetation, that
facing north-east being gentler in aspect, and showing brakes of
Mediterranean heath ten or fifteen feet high, through which mule paths are
cut as through a forest. The coast facing south-west is far sterner,
wilder, and more precipitous, but enjoys a temperature almost tropical;
for there the plants and fruits of southern Greece flourish without stint.

The site of the western monasteries is generally on a precipitous rock at
the mouth of one of the ravines, and commands a view up the glen to the
great summit of the mountain. To pass from any one of these monasteries to
the next, you must either clamber down a precipice to the sea, and pass
round in a boat commanded by a skipper-monk, or you must mount the mules
provided, and ride round the folds and seams of the precipices, on paths
incredibly dangerous of aspect, and yet incredibly free from any real
disasters. When you come to a torrent you must descend by zigzag winding
till you reach a practicable ford near the sea-level, and cross it at the
foot of some sounding fall. But the next projecting shoulder stands
straight out of the sea, and you must climb again a similar break-neck
ascent, till you reach a path along the edge of the dizzy cliff, where you
pass with one foot in the air, over the sea one thousand feet beneath,
while the other is nudged now and then by the wall of the rock within, so
that the cautious mule chooses the outer ledge of the road, since a loss
of balance means strictly a loss of life. It was a constant regret to us
that none of the party could sketch the beautiful scenes which were
perpetually before us, or even photograph them. But the efforts of
photographers hitherto have been very disappointing. There are indeed
pictures of most of the monasteries, taken at the instigation of the
Russians, but all so wretchedly inadequate, so carefully taken from the
wrong point, that we deliberately avoided accepting them, or carrying them
home. Mr. Riley too, a man of taste and feeling, had essayed the thing
with leisure and experience in his art, and yet the cuts taken from the
photographs, which are published in his book, are also hopelessly
inadequate. When, for example, approaching from the north, we suddenly
came in view of Simópetra—standing close to us, across a yawning chasm,
with the sea roaring one thousand feet beneath, high in the air on its
huge, lonely crag, holding on to the land by a mere viaduct, and behind it
the great rocks and gorges and forests framed by the snowy dome of Athos
in the far background—we felt that the world can produce no finer scene,
and that the most riotous artistic imagination, such as Gustave Doré’s,
would be tamed in its presence by the inability of human pencil to exceed
it.(187) The plan of this monastery and its smaller brothers (I was going
to call them sisters!) is that of a strong, square keep, rising straight
from the sheer cliffs, with but a single bridge of rock leading landward,
and when the wall has been carried to a height far more than sufficient
against any attack save modern artillery, they begin to throw round it
stories of balconies, stayed out from the wall by very light wooden beams,
each balcony sheltered by that above, till a deep-pitched roof overhangs
the whole. The topmost and outermost corner of these balconies is always
the guest-chamber or chambers, and from this lofty nook you not only look
out upon the sea and land, but between the chinks of the floor of boards
you see into air under your feet, and reflect that if a storm swept round
the cliff your frail tenement might be crushed like a house of cards, and
wander into the sea far beneath. To me, at least, it was impossible to
walk round these balconies without an occasional shudder, and yet we could
not hear that the slender supports had ever given way, or that any of the
monks had ever been launched into the air. On the divans running round
these aerial guest-chambers are beautiful rugs from Smyrna and Bulgaria,
the ancient gifts of pilgrims and of peasants, which were thrust aside in
the rich and vulgar Russian establishments for the gaudy products of
modern Constantinople and Athens, while the older and simpler monasteries
were content with their soft and mellow colors. The wealth of Athos in
these rugs is very great. There were constantly on the mules under us
saddle-cloths which would be the glory of an æsthetic drawing-room.

But it is high time for us to take a closer view of the inside of these
curious castles, some of which, Vatopédi, Ivíron, Lavra, are almost towns
surrounded by great fortifications, and which possess not only large
properties, outlying farms, dependencies, but within them a whole
population of monks and their retainers. Let us first speak of the
treasures accumulated within them, relics of ancient art and industry in
the way of books, pictures, and work in precious metals. The reader will
doubtless appreciate that the estimate of some of these things depends
largely on the taste and education of the visitor. Mr. Riley thinks it of
importance, in his excellent work, to enumerate the exact number of
chapels contained in, or attached to, each monastery, whereas to me the
exact number, and the name of the patron saint, seems about the last
detail with which I should trouble my readers. So also some sentimental
travellers enumerate with care the alleged relics, and Mr. Riley lets it
be seen plainly not only that he is disposed to believe in their
genuineness, but that, if proven, it is of the highest religious
importance. Seeing the gross ignorance of the monks on all really
important matters of history on the real date and foundation of their
several monasteries, the ascription of a relic to some companion of our
Lord, or some worthy of the first four centuries, seems to me ridiculous.

With this preamble I turn first to the books. Every convent we visited had
a library containing MSS. The larger had in addition many printed books;
in one, for example, which was not rich (Esphigménu), we found a fine
bound set of Migne’s “Fathers.” The library room was generally a mere
closet with very little light, and there was no sign that anybody ever
read there. The contents indeed consisted of ecclesiastical books,
prayer-books, lesson-books, rituals noted for chanting, of which they had
working copies in their churches. Still they are so careless concerning
the teachings of their old service books that they have completely lost
the meaning of the old musical notation, which appears in dots and commas
(generally red) over their older texts, and they now follow a new
tradition with a new notation. When one has seen some hundreds of these
Gospels, and extracts from the Gospels, ranging over several centuries,
some written in gold characters on the title-page, with conventional
pictures of the Evangelists on gold ground, one begins to wonder what
could have possessed the good monks to occupy themselves with doing over
and over again what had been done hundreds of times, and lay before them
in multitudes of adequate copies. I suppose the nature of their religious
worship suggests the true answer. As they count it religion to repeat over
and over again prayers and lessons all through their nights of vigil and
their days of somnolence, so they must have thought it acceptable to God,
and a meritorious work, to keep copying out, in a fair hand, Gospels that
nobody would read and that nobody would disturb for centuries on dusty

In the twelve libraries I examined I did not find more than half a dozen
secular books, and these of late date, and copies of well-known texts.
There may of course be some stray treasures still concealed in nooks and
corners, though a good scholar, Mr. Lambros of Athens, has spent much
labor in classifying and cataloguing these MSS. But I saw chests here and
there in out-of-the-way lumber rooms, with a few books lying in them, and
believe that in this way something valuable may still be concealed. In
general the monks were friendly and ready to show their books, or at least
their perfect manners made them appear so; but in one monastery
(Stavronikíta) they were clearly anxious that none of these treasures
should be studied. They had not only tossed together all their MSS. which
had been recently set in order by Mr. Lambros, but had torn off the labels
with which he had numbered them, without any attempt, or I believe
intention, of replacing them with new ones.

As I am not now addressing learned readers, I need not go into details
about the particular books which interested me. My main object had been to
find, if possible, at Mount Athos some analogy, some parallel, to the
splendid school of ornamentation which has left us the _Book of Kells_,
the _Lindisfarne Gospels_, _St. Chad’s Gospel_ at Lichfield, and other
such masterpieces of Irish illumination. I have always thought it likely
that some early Byzantine missionary found his way to Ireland, and gave
the first impulse to a local school of art. That there is a family
likeness between early Irish and Byzantine work seems to me undeniable. I
can hardly say whether I was disappointed or not to find that, as far as
Athos went, the Irish school was perfectly independent, and there was no
early book which even remotely suggested the marvellous designs of the
_Book of Kells_. The emblems of the Evangelists seemed unknown there
before the eleventh century. There was ample use of gilding, and a good
knowledge of colors. In one or two we found a dozen kinds of birds
adequately portrayed in colors—the peacock, pheasant, red-legged
partridge, stork, etc., being at once recognizable. But all the capitals
were upon the same design, all the bands of ornament were little more than
blue diaper on gold ground. There were a good many books in slanting
uncials, probably seventh to ninth century; an occasional page or fragment
of earlier date, but nothing that we could see of value for solving the
difficulties of a Scripture text. Careful and beautiful handwritings on
splendid vellum of the succeeding centuries were there in countless
abundance. They are valuable as specimens of handwriting and as nothing
else. In many of the libraries the monk in charge was quite intelligent
about the dates of the MSS., and was able to read the often perplexing
colophon in which the century and _indiction_ were recorded. But the
number of dated MSS. was, alas! very small.

I now turn to the _κειμήλια_ or treasures in precious metals and gems,
which have often been described and belauded by travellers. Each visitor
sees something to admire which the rest pass over in silence, or else he
is shown something not noticed by the rest. So the reader must consult
first, Curzon, then Mr. Tozer, then Didron, then Mr. Riley, and even after
that there remain many things to be noted by fresh observers. The fact is
that the majority of these reliquaries, pictures, and ornaments of the
screen are tawdry and vulgar, either made or renewed lately, and in bad
taste. It is only here and there that a splendid old piece of work strikes
one with its strange contrast. Far the most interesting of all the
illustrations given by Mr. Riley is that of the nave of one of the
Churches, which are all (except the old Church of Karyes) built on exactly
the same plan, with small variations as to the lighting, or the outer
narthex, or the dimensions. An architect would find these variations
highly interesting; to the amateur there seems in them a great sameness.
But among the uniform, or nearly uniform, features is a huge candelabrum,
not the central one hung from the middle of the dome, but one which
encircles it, hung by brass chains from the inner edges of the dome,
consisting of twelve (sometimes only ten) straight bands of open-worked
brass, of excellent design, joined with hinges, which are set in double
eagles (the Byzantine emblem), so that they form large decagons or
duodecagons, in the upper edge of which candles are set all round. The
design and work of these candelabra appeared to me old. But the monks
affirmed that they were now made in Karyes. This I did not believe, and in
any case my suspicions as to the antiquity of the design were confirmed by
one I found in St. Paul’s (Agio Pavlo), which bears on one of the double
eagles an inscription that the Hegoumenos had restored and beautified the
church in 1850. But this eagle joined brass bands on which was a clear
German inscription stating that they were made in Dresden in the year

By far the finest embroideries in silk were at the rich convent of Iviron,
and indeed the main church there has many features worthy of note. The
floor is of elaborate old mosaic, with an inscription of George the
Founder, which the monks refer to the tenth century. There are quaint
Rhodian plaques, both set in the outer wall, and also laid like carpets,
with a border of fine design on the walls of the transept domes. Beside
them are remarkable old Byzantine capitals designed of rams’ heads. But
the great piece of embroidery is a _πόδια_ (or apron of the Panagia). The
ground is gold and green silk, on which portraits of the three imperial
founders are worked, their crowns of pearls, their dresses of white silk,
their beards of brown silk, and their faces painted most delicately in
colors upon silk. Never in my life have I seen any embroidery so perfect
and so precious. There were also occasional old crosses of great
excellence, but to describe them here would be tedious and useless, unless
it be to stimulate the reader to go out and see them for himself; nor can
I recommend this, if he be not a well-introduced traveller, ready to rough
it and to meet with good temper many obstacles. Travelling in Turkey,
where time has no value, and where restrictions upon liberty are both
arbitrary and unjustly applied, is a matter of great patience.

What shall we say of the services which go on most of the day and night in
these monastic churches, and which seemed to Messrs. Riley and Owen so
interesting and so in harmony with the Church of England, that they were
never tired of regretting the separation of Anglican from Greek
Christianity, and hoping for a union or reunion between them? Mr. Owen
went so far as to celebrate the Eucharist after the Anglican ritual in one
or two of these churches before a crowd of monks, who could not understand
his words, far less the spirit with which our Church approaches the Holy

Yet here are large companies of men, who have given up the world to live
on hard fare and strict rule, spending days and nights in the service of
God, and resigning the ordinary pleasures and distractions of the world.
Surely here there must be some strong impulse, some living faith which
sways so many lives. And yet after long and anxious searching for some
spiritual life, after hours spent in watching the prayers and austerities
of the monks, we could not but come to the conclusion that here was no
real religion; that it was a mountain, if not a valley, “full of dry
bones, and, behold, they were very dry.”

It is of course very hazardous for a stranger to assert a negative; there
may be, even in this cold and barren ritual, some real breath of spiritual
life, and some examples of men who serve God in spirit and in truth. But
the general impression, as compared with that of any Western
religion—Roman Catholic, Protestant, Unitarian—is not favorable. Very
possibly no Western man will ever be in real sympathy with Orientals in
spiritual matters, and Orientals these monks are in the strictest sense.
They put a stress upon orthodoxy as such, which to most of us is
incomprehensible. They regard idleness as not inconsistent with the
highest and holiest life. They consider the particular kind of food which
they eat of far more religious importance than to avoid excess in eating
and drinking. How can we judge such people by our standards? To them it
seems to be religion to sit in a stall all night, perhaps keeping their
eyes open, but in a vague trance, thinking of nothing, and not following
one word that is said, while they ignore teaching, preaching, active
charity, education of the young, as not worthy of the anchorite and the
recluse. To us the _ἀγρυπνία_ which we attended seemed the most absolute
misconception of the service of God; to the monks this was the very acme
of piety.

I have spoken unreservedly of these things, as I learned that these gentle
and hospitable souls were impossible to please in one respect—they think
all criticism of their life most rude and unjust. They complained to me
bitterly of Mr. Riley’s book, which they had learned to know from extracts
published in Greek papers, and yet could there be a more generous and
sympathetic account than his? If, then, I must in any case (though I
deeply regret it) incur their resentment, it is better to do so for a
candid judgment, than to endeavor to escape it by writing a mere
panegyric, which would mislead the reader without satisfying the monks.
Indeed, in one point I could not even satisfy myself. No panegyric could
adequately describe their courteous and unstinted hospitality.


      About, M. E., 24, 28.
      Acro-Corinthus, 395 _sq._
      Acropolis of Athens,
            first view of, 34, 89 _sq._;
            bombarded by Venetians, 91;
            by Turks, 98;
            works on, 103;
            excavations about, 122, 123;
            the view from, 152 _sq._
      Adler, Dr., his theory concerning Mycenæ, 486.
      Ægina, 171, 428 _sq._
      Æschines, 294, 324.
      Æschylus, 82, 112, 130.
      Æsculapius, temple of, at Athens, 139.
      Agatharchus, scene-painter, 128.
      Air, lightness and clearness of, 255.
      Alfieri, 134.
      Alkamenes, 107, 307, 312.
      Alpheus, the, 302, 317, 342, 357.
      Alpine character of Greece, 154.
      Altis, the, at Olympia, 302 _sq._
      Anaxagoras, 138.
      Apollo, temple of,
            at Delphi, 283 _sq._;
            at Bassæ, 264 _sq._
            in Phocis, 276 _sq._;
            in Kynuria, 440.
      Arcadia, 351 _sq._;
            the ideal, 352 _sq._;
            description of, 358, 382.
      Areopagus, the, 139 _sq._
      Argion, 457.
      Argos, 410 _sq._
      Aristion, stele of, 68.
      Aristophanes, 408.
      Art, Greek,
            reserve of, 79, 80 _sq._, 113, 114;
            progress of, 110–112.
      Aspendus, theatre of, 127.
      Assyrian features in old Greek art, 261.
      Astros, 436.
      Athena Nike, temple of, 117.
            faces eastward, 3;
            museums of, 51, 55 _sq._;
            ancient synœkismos of, 171;
            Byzantine art in, 496;
            dukes of, 502.
      Athletics, Greek, 321–324, 340–342.
      Attica, 152 _sq._

      Barathrum, the, 86.
      Bassæ, 364 _sq._
      Bath-room, archaic, at Tiryns, 487 _sq._
      Beulé, M., quoted, 342, 358.
      Boating, 430.
      Bœotia, 229 _sq._
      Book of Kells, 470, 524, 525.
      Bournouf, M. E., 103, 419.
      Boxing, 334.
      Brauron, 153, 198.
      Brigands, 185, 194–197, 200, 360.
      British Museum, 99.
      Bruyères, Hugo de, 505.
      Bugs, 254.
      Bull, fresco of, 489.
      Byron, Lord, 29, 200, 205.
      Byzantine architecture and art in Greece, 494 _sq._, 496, 507.

      Camels, 296.
      Canaris, M., 240.
      Canon statue, the, 63.
      Canova, 336.
      Caryatids on Erechtheum, 101, 103.
      Cashel, rock of, 120.
      Castalian fount, 289, 293.
      Castroménos, M., 343.
      Cella frieze, of Parthenon, 109 _sq._
      Cerigo, 12.
      Chæronea, 264 _sq._
      Charos, 282.
      Cheese, used in training, 326.
            the Passion of, 81;
            in Arcadia, 363.
      Christian antiquities of Athens, 145.
      Cicada (Tettix), 409.
      Cicero, 210, 320.
      Cithæron, Mount, 219, 223, 229.
      Clarke, Dr., 460.
      Cleonæ, 404.
      Cockerell, Mr., 368.
      Cocks at Sparta, 444.
      Coins, 391.
      Comedy, Greek, 137;
            at Cambridge, 137.
      Constantine, the Emperor, 291.
      Convent Libraries, 522;
            metals and gems, 526;
            embroideries, 527;
            plaques, 527.
      Copais, Lake, 248, 249.
      Corinth, 20, 392 _sq._
      Corinthian order, 36, 369, 434.
      Coronea, 250.
      Costume, 268, 279, 379, 437.
      Crete, 14, 15.
      Curzon, M., 509.
      Cyclades, 14, 166, 182.
      Cyclopean walls, 472, 473.

            pass of, 205;
            church at, 500.
      Delphi, 282 _sq._
      Dionysus (_see_ Theatre).
      Divri, 345.
      Dodwell, quoted, 96, 228, 464, 471.
      Dogs, 32, 301;
            on tombs, 261.
      Dorians, 442.
      Dorian states and their art, 420–423.
      Doric order, 34, 37, 98, 304, 407, 474.
      Dörpfeld, Dr., 314, 487, 490.
      Dramatic competitions, 131.

      Eagles, 232.
      Earthquakes, 277, 289, 305, 454.
      Easter, 361, 383.
      Elatea, 265.
      Eleusinia, the, 210–214.
      Eleusis, 207 _sq._
      Eleutheræ, 223–229.
      Elgin, Lord, 97, 98, 460.
      Elis, 299 _sq._
      Entrances, plan of, in Greek palaces, 487–489.
      Epaminondas, 241, 242.
      Epicureans, 144, 145.
      Epidauros, 429, 432 _sq._
      Erechtheum, the, 101.
      Ergasteria, mines of, 167 _sq._
            Mount, 343;
            river, 345, 347, 358.
      Euripides, his art, 129, 130, 321.
      Eurotas, the, 440.
      Events, the, at Olympic games, 331–333.
      Expression in art, 114 _sq._

      Fallmerayer, 415.
            at Phyle, 215;
            Eleutheræ, 226;
            Karytena, 373;
            Staigue, Kerry, a comparison, 407;
            Tiryns, 405;
            Mycenæ, 457.
      Freeman, Prof.,
            on restorations, 93;
            criticised, 93, 246.
      French tragedy, 134.
            of Parthenon, 105;
            at Tiryns, 489.
      Funeral orations, 75.

      Games, the Olympic, 318 _sq._
      Glendalough, chapels in, 495.
      Gods, the unknown, 143.
      Gold cups, polishing of, 485.
            faces eastward, 2;
            routes to, 2, 18–20;
            first aspect of, 4;
            depopulation of, 11, 232;
            permanence of inhabitants, 24, 414–419.
      Greek art,
            polychromatic, 40–46;
            notions of death, 77–79 (cf. Art);
            travel, 494.
            character of, 21, 146 _sq._ (note) 360;
            courage of, 201.
      Guide-books for Greece, 53.
      Gregorovius, Mr., 493.

      Hadrian’s temple of Zeus at Athens, 34–37.
      Hagios Petros, 438.
      Handbooks for Greece, 53, 54.
      Helicon, 248.
      Helmet of Hiero, 317.
      Heræon, the, at Olympia, 314, 371.
      Heraldic ornaments, 482.
            of Vatican, 63;
            archaic at Athens, 68;
            of Praxiteles, 313.
      Herodotus, 423.
      Hesiod, 408.
      Homer, 77, 284, 403, 409.
            of Hymettus, 156;
            of Laurium, 176.
      Hopf, 415.
      Hydra, the island of, 183, 425–427.

      Ictinus, 364, 370.
      Iliad, the, 284, 318, 334, 411, 466.
      Inns, 361.
      Ionic order, 116.
      Ireland, resembles Greece in various natural features, and in its
      art, 5, 17, 121, 407, 464, 468–470, 478.
      Italy, faces westward, 1.
      Itea, 297.
      Ithome, Mount, 449 _sq._
      Iviron, Monastery, 527.

      Jealousy, Greek, 245.
      Julian, the Emperor, 292.
      Julius Cæsar, 390.

      Kalamata, 449, 505.
      Karytena, 372, 505.
      Katakolo, 299, 381.
      Kephissus, the,
            near Athens, 157;
            in Thriasian plain, 219;
            at Orchomenus, 257.
      Kirrha, 295.
      Kladeos, the, 302 _sq._, 343.
      Koron, Gulf of, 6.
      Krissa, 294.
      Kynætha, 354.
      Kynuria, 435.

      Ladon, the, 358, 359.
      Lala, 344.
      Lambros, Mr., 524.
      Langada Pass, 446.
      Laurium, 169–172;
            its mining companies, 173–179.
      Lechæum, 390–392.
      Lechouri, village of, 347.
      Legends, 282, 411, 478.
            of Marathon, 199;
            of Chæronea, 268 _sq._;
            of the Arsenal, Venice, 270;
            of Lucerne, 271.
      Lionardo da Vinci, 419.
      Lion-gate at Mycenæ, 471.
      Livádia, 251 _sq._
      Locrian inscriptions, 260.
      Lycabettus, 189.
      Lysicrates, monument of, 36, 47, 150.

      Mænalus, Mount, 381, 387.
      Maina, 7.
      Malea promontory, 13;
            hermit of, 13.
      Marathon, 153, 198, 199, 203, 204.
            Greek, 40;
            Pentelican, 190, 304.
      Mars’ Orchestra, 243.
      Mediæval Greece, 492 _sq._
      Medicine in Greece, 362.
      Medusa, 419.
      Megalopolis, 374.
      Melos, 15;
            Venus of, 16.
      Messene, walls and gates of, 452.
      Messenia, 449 _sq._
      Meteora Monastery, 528.
      Michaelis, 103 _sq._
      Mistra, 445, 503.
            Scripou (Orchomenus), 260;
            Vourkano, 450.
      Morea (_see_ Peloponnesus).
      Mount Athos, 509 _sq._
      Munychia, 160.
      Murray, Mr. A. S., 61, 270, 313, 476.
            subdivision of, 50–54, 151;
            of Athens, 55 _sq._, 74;
            of Acropolis, 118;
            of Olympia, 306.
      Music, 280–282;
            in Arcadia, 353, 372.
      Mycenæ, 456 _sq._
      Myron, 423.
      Mysteries, the Eleusinian, 210 _sq._

      Naples, museum of, 44.
      Natural beauty, exhilarating effect of, 255.
      Nauplia, 423, 429.
      New Grange, 464, 468.
      Nicias, a slave-owner, 177, 178.
      Nike of Pæonius, 306, 316.

      Oaks, 344, 366.
      Œnoe, 224.
      Old Cathedral, Athens, 495.
      Olive-trees, in Attica, 158, 197.
      Olonos, Mount, 343, 347, 348.
      Olympia, 303 _sq._
      Olympiads, the, 318 _sq._
      Oracle, Delphic, 285 _sq._
      Orchestra, the, 140.
      Orchomenus, 257 _sq._
      Ornamentation of temples, 105, 106.
      Ostrich egg, at Mycenæ, 478.
      Owen, Mr., 528.

      Pæonius, 307, 316.
      Pæstum, temple of, 394.
      Pan, 353, 387.
      Panagia Phæneromené, Monastery of, 497, 507.
      Panathenaic procession, 109.
      Pankration, the, 329, 337.
      Papalexopoulos, Dr., 387, 410.
      Parnassus, Mount, 274, 281.
      Parnes, Mount, 154.
            the older burnt, 66;
            account of, 90 _sq._;
            sketched by Carrey, 104;
            decorations of, 105, 369.
      Paul, S., at Athens, 141 _sq._, 389.
      Pausanias, King, 292.
      Pausanias quoted, 263, 284, 291, 307, 308, 311, 312, 328, 329, 368,
      377, 408, 464, 465.
            of Parthenon, 105 _sq._;
            of temple at Olympia, 308 _sq._
      Peiræus (Piræus), 31, 32, 159–161, 206.
      Peloponnesus, the, 6.
      Penrose, Mr., 102.
      Pentathlon, 320, 331.
      Pentelicus, Mount, quarries of, 190–193.
      Perrot, M. G., quoted, 185–189.
      Perseids and Pelopids, 486.
      Petrachus, the fort of Chæronea, 264.
      Phædriades, the, 289.
      Phalerum, 161.
      Phayllus, 333.
      Phidias, 107, 115, 303.
      Phigalia, 364.
      Phocians, the, 291.
      Phocis, 274 _sq._
      Phœnicians, in Greece, 12, 170.
      Phyle, pass of, 215.
      Pickering, Mr., 326.
      Pindar, 242, 294, 316.
      Pirene, fountain of, 397.
      Platæa, 223, 231.
      Plato, 138.
      Plutarch, quoted, 213, 265.
      Politics, modern Greek, 236–240.
      Polyandrion, at Chæronea, 272.
      Polybius, 346, 353.
      Polychromy, Greek, 39 _sq._
      Pompeii, statues from, 70.
      Praxiteles, 112;
            his Hermes, 313;
            his Faun, 353.
            at Athens, 100;
            at Eleusis, 208, 209.
      Psophis, 346.
      Psyttalea, 31.
      Pullen, Mr., 493.
      Pylæa, the, 294, 295.
      Pyramids, 465.
      Pyrgos, 300.
      Pyrrhic dance, 280.
      Pythian games, 285, 310, 311.

      Racine, his estimate of tragedy, 132–134.
      Rain, 346.
      Renan, quoted, 141, 246 _sq._
      Rhamnus, 185.
      Riley, Mr., 519, 522, 526, 528.
      Roads, Greek, 190, 220, 256.
      Routes, through Greece, 296, 343, 349, 380, 396, 424.

      Salamis, 207, 209.
      Salonica churches, 497.
      Salzburg, compared to Athens, 152.
      Sannazaro, Jacopo, 355.
      Sayce, Prof., 416.
      Schliemann, Dr. H.,
            his Mycenæan treasure, 151;
            at Nauplia, 435;
            excavations at Orchomenus, 258;
            Mycenæ, 458 _sq._, 464, 473 _sq._
      Schultz, Mr., 493.
      Sepulchral monuments, county Meath, compared, 468.
      Scott, Sir Walter, 267.
      Sculpture, in relation to other arts, 316, 321.
      Shelley, 86.
      Shepherd children, 448.
      Sicily, 63, 404.
      Smith, Adam, his theory of sympathy, 80.
      Socrates, 138.
      Sophocles, 130.
      Sorrow, its expression in art, 83.
      Sparta, 9, 10 _sq._
      Spartans, 320, 325, 441.
      Squier, Mr., 60.
      Stadium, at Delphi, 293.
      Stage, the Greek, 128.
            various types of, 65;
            votive, 315;
            archaic, 65–70, 71, 72;
            at Argos, 418;
            archaistic, 70.
            of Aristion, 68;
            of Alxenor, 261.
      Stoics, at Athens, 144.
      Strabo, 389, 396, 408.
      Sunium, temple of, 166, 179–181.
      Swinburne, Mr., his Greek plays, 135.

      Tactics, old Greek, 203.
      Tainaron, promontory of, 9.
      Tanagra, figurines of, 59–62.
      Taygetus, 443.
      Tegea, 385.
      Temple of the Winds (Athens), 47, 150.
      Tennyson, his _In Memoriam_ criticised, 84.
      Tettix, the (_see_ Cicada).
      Theatre of Dionysus at Athens, 122 _sq._;
            size of, 125;
            at Argos, 413.
      Thebans, character of, 241–243.
      Thebes, 233–237, 241.
      Theocritus, quoted, 192, 336, 353, 402.
      Theodosius, 292.
      Therasia (Thera), prehistoric discoveries at, 16.
      Theseus, temple of, 37, 38, 46, 47.
      Thespiæ, 242.
      Thucydides, quoted, 207, 259.
      Thyreatis, 440.
      Tiryns, 405 _sq._, 487 _sq._;
            destruction of, 484, 490, 491.
      Tomb of S. Luke, 235.
            defaced, 47, 48;
            the Attic, 74 _sq._;
            at Mycenæ, 474 _sq._
            of Minyæ, 258, 464;
            of Atreus, 457 _sq._
      Trikoupi, M., 237, 240, 244.
      Tripod of Delphi, 292.
      Tripolitza, 278, 381, 384.
      Tripotamo, 345, 346.
      Trophonius, oracle of, 251.
      Trypi, 446.
      Turks, in Greece, 3, 10, 26, 55, 281 _sq._

      Umpires, at Olympia, 337, 338.

            in Arcadia, 366, 367;
            Argolis, 401, 429, 458;
            Kynuria, 436;
            Laconia, 444, 447;
            Messenia, 453, 454.
      Venetian tower at Athens, 93.
            bombard the Acropolis, 91;
            destroy sculptures, 100.
      Venus, various types of, 113, 114.
      Vergil, quoted, 335, 354.
      Villehardouins, the, 445, 503.
      Viollet-le-duc, M., 393.
      Vourkano, monastery of, 449, 508.

      Walls, 159, 162;
            Peiræic, 259.
      Wedding scene, 279.
      Wood, use of, in archaic buildings, 491.

      Xenophon, cited, 201.

      Zea, harbor, 160, 161.
            temple of, at Athens, 46;
            temple and statue of, at Olympia, 303 _sq._;
            bronze figures of (_Ζᾶνες_), 338.

  [Map: Greece and the Ægean Sea]


    1 Though this statement is broadly true, it requires some
      modification. I should be sorry to be thought insensible to the
      beauties, not only of Ravenna, with its mosaics and its pines, but
      of Ancona, of the splendid Monte Gargano, of Trani and Bari, and of
      the rich gardens and vineyards of Apulia.

    2 Cf. Strabo, viii. c. 2, _ἐστι τοίνυν ἡ Πελοπόννησος ἐοικυῖα φύλλῳ
      πλατάνου τὸ σχῆμα_.

    3 These words were written in 1873. On a later occasion, our ship was
      obliged to run into this bay for shelter from a storm, when we found
      some cultivation along the coasts, and a village (Koron), with
      extensive fortifications above it, said to be Venetian. The aspect
      was by no means so desolate as appeared from a passing view outside
      the headlands. Coasting steamers now call here (at Kalamata) every
      second day.

    4 Which the reader will find best portrayed in Prosper Mérimée’s

    5 See the remarks of Polybius, who was himself witness of this great
      change, quoted in the last chapter of my _Greek Life and Thought,
      from Alexander to the Roman Conquest_.

    6 We hailed him with a steam whistle in 1886, in vain; so it may be
      that he has passed to some newer and more social kind of life.

    7 A closer view of Crete disclosed to me the interesting fact that the
      island is turned to the north, as regards its history. It is barred
      on the south by great walls of rock, with hardly any landing-places,
      so that all traffic and culture must have started from the slopes
      and bays on the north side, where the Cyclades are its neighbors.

    8 I should except the splendid _Venus victrix_, as she is called,
      found at Capua, and now in the Museum of Naples.

    9 In my _Social Life in Greece, from Homer to Menander_.

   10 The words are M. About’s.

   11 I beg to point out to a learned and kindly critic in the _Athenæum_,
      who corrected several faults of spelling in the first edition, that
      this is the form of the name warranted by inscriptions, and now to
      be received by scholars: cf. Wachsmuth’s _Stadt Athen_, i. p. 49.

   12 This beautiful monument has been so defaced and mutilated that the
      photographs of to-day give no idea of its decoration. The careful
      drawings and restorations of Stuart and Revett were made in the last
      century, when it was still comparatively intact, and it is through
      their book alone that we can now estimate the merits of many of the
      ancient buildings of Athens. It should be added that there was a
      solitary Corinthian capital found in the temple of Bassæ, which I
      will describe in another chapter. But this still affords an unsolved
      problem. The Philippeion at Olympia (built by the famous Philip of
      Macedon) also contained an inner circle of Corinthian pillars, while
      the outer circle was Ionic.

   13 The following remarks on the polychromy of Greek art are not
      intended for Professors of Fine Art, to whom, indeed, few things in
      this book, if true, can be new, but for the ordinary reader, who may
      not have seen it discussed elsewhere.

   14 By the way, the appellation “Temple of Theseus” is more than
      doubtful. The building fronts towards the east. This is proved by
      the greater size and more elaborate decoration of the eastern
      portal. It is almost certain, according to an old scholion on
      Pindar, that the temples of heroes like Theseus faced west, while
      those only of the Olympian gods faced the rising sun. The temple,
      therefore, was the temple, not of a hero, but of a god. Probably the
      Temple of Heracles, worshipped as a _god_ at Athens, which is
      mentioned in the scholia of Aristophanes as situated in this part of
      Athens, is to be identified with the building in question. But I
      suppose for years to come we must be content to abide by the old
      name of Theseon, which is now too long in general use to be easily

   15 I was since informed at Athens that this complaint had not been
      without results, and that steps are being taken to prevent quarrying
      at random on classical sites.

   16 Even the marble statue set up to the patriot Botzari over the grave
      of the heroes of Missolonghi was so mutilated by the inhabitants
      that the authorities have removed it from mere shame.

   17 It is fair to add that an exception has been made for the
      discoveries at Mycenæ, which have been almost all brought to Athens;
      and that a handsome museum has now been built at Olympia, and a good
      road from Pyrgos, which has a railway to the sea.

   18 Since this was written there have been published (in German) two
      careful catalogues of the sculptures of Athens by V. Sybel and by
      Milchhöfer (1881), and there is besides the excellent _Handbook for
      Greece_ by Dr. Lolling (Bædeker). The new edition of Murray’s
      Handbook is very dear and not very satisfactory. There is a small
      Greek Catalogue published by Stanford, translated by Miss Agnes
      Smith. The Mycenæan antiquities are described in a separate book by
      Schliemann, and by Schuchhardt.

   19 There is no more pathetic instance than that described by Mr. Squier
      (in his admirable work on Peru) of the tomb of a young girl which he
      himself discovered, and where he comments on the various objects
      laid to rest with the dead: cf. Squier’s _Peru_, p. 80. There has
      since been found at Myrina, on the Asiatic coast, a great store of
      these clay figures, also in tombs. Some sets of them were made to
      represent the sculptures of a pediment, such as that of the
      Parthenon, or rather of the east front of the temple of Olympia.

   20 If I mistake not, Mr. A. S. Murray seems disposed to date them about
      the first century either B. C. or A. D., thus bringing them down to
      about the time of Strabo.

   21 There is already quite a large collection of them in the British
      Museum, _e. g._ Vase Room I., case 35, where there are many of these
      figures from Tanagra. In Room II. there is a whole case of them,
      chiefly from Cyrene, and from Cnidus.

   22 No. 53, Mus. Pio Clem., in a small room beside the _Apollo
      Belvedere_ and _Laocoon_.

   23 There is now an excellent publication of the archaic statues found
      in the Acropolis, by Cavvadias (Wilberg, Athens).

   24 I endeavored to examine these drums by looking down through a hole
      in the wall over them. They seemed to me not fluted, and rather of
      the shape of barrels, very thick in the middle, than of the drums of
      pillars in temples.

   25 It is asserted somewhere by a Greek author that the temples burned
      by the Persians were left in ruins to remind the people of the
      wrongs of the hated barbarians. But we have distinct evidence, in
      some cases, that this assertion is not true, and besides, using the
      materials for other purposes is not the same thing. We now know that
      a quantity of mutilated statues were shot as rubbish into the space
      between the old Parthenon and the wall, to make a terrace for the
      newer and greater building. Here they were found in the recent

   26 Aristion is also mentioned among the artists of the period.

   27 “Vultum ab antiquo rigore variare.”—Plin. xxxv. 35.

   28 They have been published in the first part of an excellent work on
      the treasures of Athens, reproduced in phototype by Rhomaïdès
      Brothers, with an explanatory text by various Athenian scholars.

   29 I cannot do better than quote the admirable description of M. Ch.
      Diehl: “C’étaient surtout de nouvelles statues de jeunes femmes, au
      mystérieux sourire, à la parure étincelante, de ces idoles fardées
      et peintes, bien faites, par leur saveur étrange, pour tenter le
      pinceau d’un Gustave Moreau ou la plume d’un Pierre Loti. Comme
      leurs sœurs, ces nouvelles venues ont la même attitude et le même
      costume, les mêmes coquetteries de parure, le même soin de leur
      chevelure, la même expression aussi; pourtant à la série déjà connue
      elles out ajouté quelques œuvres exquises, et trois d’entre elles en
      particulier méritent d’être signalées. L’une est une merveille de
      coloris; sa tunique à large bande rouge, sa chemisette d’un vert
      foncé, bordée de pourpre, son manteau orné de méandres du dessin le
      plus fin, ses vêtements parsemés de croix rouges ou vertes, qui se
      retrouvent sur le diadème de ses cheveux, sont d’un incomparable
      éclat. Sous les tons chauds de ces riches couleurs disposées avec un
      goût exquis, il semble que le marbre s’anime et fasse la chair
      vivante; et un charme étrange émane de cette figure. Celle-ci (cf.
      Plate) d’une date plus récente, probablement l’une des plus jeunes
      de la série, montre l’effort d’un artiste habile pour créer une
      œuvre originale. Dans ces formes élancées, dans cette tête petite et
      fine, dans ces bras jetés en avant du corps, on sent la volonté du
      maître qui cherche à faire autrement que ses devanciers; le sourire
      traditionnel est devenu presque imperceptible, les yeux, qui
      souriaient jadis à l’unison des levres, out cessé de se relever vers
      les tempes; les joues creuses se remplissent et s’arrondissent; avec
      des œuvres de cette sorte, l’archaisme est prêt à finir.... La
      troisième enfin est une des œuvres les plus remarquables de l’art
      attique. Plus ancienne que la précédente, elle est d’une valeur
      artistique bien supérieure. Le modelé en est exquis, et son
      irréprochable finesse fait un contraste singulier avec les procédés
      qui sentent encore les conventions de l’école. Suivant les
      traditions de l’art antique, les yeux sont obliques et bridés, le
      sourire fait toujours grimacer les levres; mais dans les yeux le
      regard n’est plus indifférent et fixe; il brille d’une lueur de vie
      et de pensée; le sourire de ces levres n’est plus sec et dur, il
      semble avoir une douceur attendrie. Certes il n’y a dans cette
      sculpture nul effort pour chercher des chemins nouveaux; mais parmi
      les œuvres de l’art archaïque, parmi celles où le maître a
      docilement suivi la route frayée et battue, cette sculpture à
      l’expression candide et presque attristée est l’une des plus
      admirables.”—_Excursions archéologiques en Grèce_, p. 104.

   30 When I revisited Athens in the spring of 1889, the National Museum,
      which is a fine and spacious building, was quite an orderly museum,
      and it was easy to see and enjoy the works of art preserved in it.
      The archaic things were, moreover (as in the Acropolis), placed by
      themselves; so were the tombs, and so were most of the portrait
      busts. All that was still wanting was a good and complete catalogue.

   31 These panegyrics—_λόγοι ἐπιτάφιοι_ they were called—were a favorite
      exercise of Greek literary men. There are five classical ones still
      extant—that mentioned, that in the _Menexenus_ of Plato, that of
      Hypereides, and those ascribed (justly) to Lysias and (falsely) to
      Demosthenes. That of Hypereides, very mutilated as it is, seems to
      me the finest next to that of Thucydides. But they are all built
      upon the same lines, showing even here that strict conservatism in
      every branch of Greek art which never varied, for variety’s sake,
      from a type once recognized as really good.

   32 Roubillac’s monuments in Westminster Abbey, which excited the
      admiration of his contemporaries, are the best example I know of
      degradation in public taste on this question.

   33 I did, indeed, see one relief at Athens, in which the relatives are
      represented as rushing forward in agony, as it were to delay the
      departure of the fainting figure. It is right that this exception
      should be noted, as it shows that they understood what violent grief
      was, and yet avoided representing it as a rule.

   34 I fancy, from the unity of type shown in many of them, that they may
      even have been designed by the artist without regard to the special
      case, and purchased by the family of the deceased ready made. The
      figures upon them do not seem to me personal likenesses.

   35 In the _Adonais_, Shelley affords a curious contrast to the somewhat
      morbid prominence of the poet in the case before us. The
      self-effacement of Shelley has centred all our interest on his lost

   36 He also supposed that the tower was Frankish, and built long before
      the Venetian conquest. But here he was wrong. The stones inside the
      tower, when taken down, showed clear traces of gun-powder, as was
      clearly shown in a learned refutation of his views, printed at

   37 Other specimens are preserved in the little Turkish house on the
      Acropolis, and should be noted by the visitor, who may easily pass
      them by.

   38 I speak, of course, of the copies of these famous statues which are
      to be seen in the Vatican Museum.

   39 The illustrated work of Michaelis is probably the most complete and
      critical account both of the plan and the details, which have often
      been discussed, and especially with great accuracy by Mr. Penrose,
      whose monumental work, the _Principles of Athenian Architecture_,
      has recently been republished. Among the many newer works, I would
      call special attention to the first volume of Viollet-le-duc’s
      _Entretiens sur l’Architecture_, already translated into English,
      which is full of most instructing and suggestive observations on
      Greek architecture; also to M. E. Bournouf’s _Acropole d’Athènes_.

   40 They will be most readily consulted in the plates of Michaelis’s

   41 The discovery of the figures from the western pediment of the temple
      at Olympia, carved by Alcamenes, a contemporary of Phidias, will
      hardly lead us to modify this judgment. For though they show a great
      talent in the composition, the defects in execution are so grave as
      to lead many critics to suspect that we have in them the work of
      mere local artists, certainly not the masterful hands that adorned
      the Parthenon.

   42 It is very uncertain, perhaps unlikely, that any of the
      architectural sculpture we possess was actually finished by
      Phidias’s own hand. But there can be no doubt that he directed it,
      and must have designed much of it in detail, since the general
      composition was certainly his creation.

   43 This very pattern, in mahogany, with cane seats, and adapted, like
      all Greek chairs, for loose cushions, was often used in eighteenth
      century work, and may still be found in old Irish mansions furnished
      at that epoch.

   44 I state this because many critics have drawn an opposite inference
      from a mistranslation of a passage in Plato (_Apol._ 26, E).

   45 The exact number, according to Papadakis (cf. A. Müller,
      _Bühnenalt._, p. 47), is stated at 27,500. But I am convinced this
      is a great exaggeration. I should rather give 15,000 as a liberal
      estimate; and this agrees with the measurements made for me by Dr.
      Dörpfeld in 1889. This mistake is also due to misunderstanding a
      passage in Plato’s _Symposium_, which says that “Agathon, whom
      30,000 citizens hear——”. It is not said that they heard him at the
      same time.

   46 Cf. on this point my _History of Greek Literature_, i. p. 345.

   47 Cf. on the details of Greek painting the last chapter of my _Social
      Life in Greece_.

   48 The actual passage is well worth quoting—“Au reste, je n’ose encore
      ajouter que cette pièce soit en effet la meilleure de mes tragédies.
      Je laisse et aux lecteurs et au temps à décider de son véritable
      prix. Ce que je puis assurer, c’est que je n’en ai point fait où la
      vertu soit plus mise en jour que dans celle-ci; les moindres fautes
      y sont sévèrement punies; la seule pensée du crime y est regardée
      avec autant d’horreur que le crime même; les faiblesses de l’amour y
      passent pour des vraies faiblesses; les passions n’y sont présentées
      aux yeux que pour montrer tous les désordres dont elles sont causes,
      et le vice y est peint partout avec des couleurs qui en out fait
      connaître et haïr la difformité. C’est là proprement le but que tout
      homme qui travaille pour le public se doit proposer; et c’est que
      les premiers poètes tragiques avaient en vue sur toute chose. Leur
      théâtre était une école où la vertu n’était pas moins bien enseignée
      que dans les écoles des philosophes.... Il serait à souhaiter que
      nos ouvrages fussent aussi solides et aussi pleins d’utiles
      instructions que ceux de ces poètes. Ce serait peut-être un moyen de
      réconcilier la tragédie avec quantité de personnes célèbres par leur
      piété et par leur doctrine, qui l’ont condamnée dans ces derniers
      temps, et qui en jugeraient sans doute plus favorablement, si les
      auteurs songeaient autant à instruire les spectateurs qu’à les
      divertir, et s’ils suivaient en cela la véritable intention de la

   49 Racine is here the exception.

   50 Alfieri, though starting with a violent feeling of reaction against
      some of the faults of the French drama, was wholly trained upon it,
      and only knew the Greek plays through French versions until very
      late in life, when most of his works were already published. I
      therefore class him unhesitatingly as an offshoot of that school.

   51 There is now (1891) a controversy raging concerning the height of
      the Greek stage and its arrangements, owing to the researches of Dr.
      Dörpfeld. I cannot enter upon it here.

   52 This was written before the very interesting revivals of Greek plays
      which do such honor to Cambridge. Those who had the privilege of
      seeing them can judge not only how far a reproduction was possible,
      but how far it can succeed, for never will it be more ably
      undertaken and carried out.

   53 The reader who cares to consult the various prices cited in my _Old
      Greek Life_ will see the grounds for assuming some such change in
      the value of money between the fourth century B. C. in Greece and
      the nineteenth A. D. in England.

   54 I perceive that M. Renan, who alone of skeptical critics is
      persuaded, possibly by the striking picturesqueness of the scene, to
      accept it as historical, considers it not impossible that S. Paul
      may have been actually brought before the court. He notices that in
      later days it assumed a general direction not only of literature,
      but of morals, and that any new teacher might fairly have been
      summoned before it to expound his views. This does not seem to me to
      agree with the ironical and trivial character of the whole audience,
      as intimated by the historian. The author of the work called
      _Supernatural Religion_, when analyzing, in his third volume, the
      Acts of the Apostles, is actually silent on this speech, though he
      discusses at great length the speeches of S. Paul which he thinks
      composed as parallels to those of S. Peter. Most German critics look
      on the passage as introduced by the author, like the speeches in
      Thucydides or Tacitus, as a literary ornament, as well as an
      exposition of the Apostolic preaching of the early Church. They also
      note its many contrasts to the teaching of such documents as the
      Epistle to the Romans. I have assumed, as even M. Renan seems to do,
      that the Apostle told Timothy, or Luke, or some other follower, the
      main purport of this memorable visit, and also the headings of the
      speech, which is too unlike his received writings to be a probable

   55 The fact that the title of Menander’s famous play was _Δεισιδαίμων_
      has escaped the commentators. S. Paul must have meant “rather
      superstitious,” as the A. V. has it.

   56 Though _ἄγνωστος_ may surely have this meaning, I do not find it
      suggested in any of the commentaries on the passage. They all
      suppose some superstitious precaution, or else some case of the real
      inscription being effaced by time, and supplied in this way. The
      expression in Pausanias—the gods called unknown, _τοῖς ὀνομαζομένοις
      ἀγνώστοις_—seems to suggest it as a regular title, and we know that
      there were deities whose name was secret, and might not be
      pronounced. But in the face of so many better critics I will not
      insist upon this interpretation.

   57 This depends on no mere accident, but on the essential features of
      the spiritual side of Greek character, on which I will quote an
      admirable passage from Renan’s _S. Paul_:

      “Ce qui caractérisait la religion du Grec autrefois, ce qui la
      caractérise encore de nos jours, c’est le manque d’infini, de vague,
      d’attendrissement, de mollesse féminine; la profondeur du sentiment
      religieux allemand et celtique manque à la race des vrais Hellènes.
      La piété du Grec orthodoxe consiste en pratiques et en signes
      extérieurs. Les églises orthodoxes, parfois très-élégantes, n’ont
      rien des terreurs qu’on ressent dans une église gothique. En ce
      christianisme oriental, point de larmes, de prières, de componction
      intérieure. Les enterrements y sont presque gais; ils ont lieu le
      soir, au soleil couchant, quand les ombres sont déjà longues, avec
      des chants à mi-voix et un déploiement de couleurs voyantes. La
      gravité fanatique des Latins déplaît à ces races vives, sereines,
      légères. L’infirme n’y est pas abattu: il voit doucement venir la
      mort; tout sourit autour de lui. Là est le secret de cette gaieté
      divine des poëmes homériques et de Platon: le récit de la mort de
      Socrate dans le _Phédon_ montre à peine une teinte de tristesse. La
      vie, c’est donner sa fleur, puis son fruit; quoi de plus? Si, comme
      on peut le soutenir, la préoccupation de la mort est le trait le
      plus important du christianisme et du sentiment religieux moderne,
      la race grecque est la moins religieuse des races. C’est une race
      superficielle, prenant la vie comme une chose sans surnaturel ni
      arrière-plan. Une telle simplicité de conception tient en grande
      partie au climat, à la pureté de l’air, à l’étonnante joie qu’on
      respire, mais bien plus encore aux instincts de la race hellénique,
      adorablement idéaliste. Un rien, un arbre, une fleur, un lézard, une
      tortue, provoquant le souvenir de mille métamorphoses chantées par
      les poëtes; un filet d’eau, un petit creux dans le rocher, qu’on
      qualifie d’antre des nymphes; un puits avec une tasse sur la
      margelle, un pertuis de mer si étroit que les papillons le
      traversent et pourtant navigable aux plus grands vaisseaux, comme à
      Poros; des orangers, des cyprès dont l’ombre s’étend sur la mer, un
      petit bois de pins au milieu des rochers, suffisent en Grèce pour
      produire le contentement qu’éveille la beauté. Se promener dans les
      jardins pendant la nuit, écouter les cigales, s’asseoir au clair de
      lune en jouant de la flûte; aller boire de l’eau dans la montagne,
      apporter avec soi un petit pain, un poisson et un lécythe de vin
      qu’on boit en chantant; aux fêtes de famille, suspendre une couronne
      de feuillage au-dessus de sa porte, aller avec des chapeaux de
      fleurs; les jours de fêtes publiques, porter des thyrses garnis de
      feuillages; passer des journées à danser, à jouer avec des chèvres
      apprivoisées—voilà les plaisirs grecs, plaisirs d’une race pauvre,
      économe, éternellement jeune, habitant un pays charmant, trouvant
      son bien en elle-même et dans les dons que les dieux lui ont faits.
      La pastorale à la façon de Théocrite fut dans les pays helléniques
      une vérité; la Grèce se plut toujours à ce petit genre de poésie fin
      et aimable, l’un des plus caractéristiques de sa littérature, miroir
      de sa propre vie, presque partout ailleurs niais et factice. La
      belle humeur, la joie de vivre sont les choses grecques par
      excellence. Cette race a toujours vingt ans: pour elle, _indulgere
      genio_ n’est pas la pesante ivresse de l’Anglais, le grossier
      ébattement du Français; c’est tout simplement penser que la nature
      est bonne, qu’on peut et qu’on doit y céder. Pour le Grec, en effet,
      la nature est une conseillère d’élégance, une maîtresse de droiture
      et de vertu; la ‘concupiscence,’ cette idée que la nature nous
      induit à mal faire, est un non-sens pour lui. Le goût de la parure
      qui distingue le palicare, et qui se montre avec tant d’innocence
      dans la jeune Grecque, n’est pas la pompeuse vanité du barbare, la
      sotte prétention de la bourgeoise, bouffie de son ridicule orgueil
      de parvenue; c’est le sentiment pur et fin de naïfs jouvenceaux, se
      sentant fils légitimes des vrais inventeurs de la beauté.

      “Une telle race, on le comprend, eût accueilli Jésus par un sourire.
      Il était une chose que ces enfants exquis ne pouvaient nous
      apprendre: le sérieux profond, l’honnêteté simple, le dévouement
      sans gloire, la bonté sans emphase. Socrate est un moraliste de
      premier ordre: mais il n’a rien à faire dans l’histoire religieuse.
      Le Grec nous paraît toujours un peu sec et sans cœur: il a de
      l’esprit, du mouvement, de la subtilité; il n’a rien de rêveur, de
      mélancolique. Nous autres, Celtes et Germains, la source de notre
      génie, c’est notre cœur. Au fond de nous est comme une fontaine de
      fées, une fontaine claire, verte et profonde, où se reflète
      l’infini. Chez le Grec, l’amour propre, la vanité se mêlent à tout;
      le sentiment vague lui est inconnu; la réflexion sur sa propre
      destinée lui paraît fade. Poussée à la caricature, une façon si
      incomplète d’entendre la vie donne a l’époque romaine le _græculus
      esuriens_, grammairien, artiste, charlatan, acrobate, médecin,
      amuseur du monde entier, fort analogue à l’Italien des XVIe et XVIIe
      siècles: à l’époque byzantine, le théologien sophiste faisant
      dégénérer la religion en subtiles disputes; de nos jours, le Grec
      moderne, quelquefois vaniteux et ingrat, le _papas_ orthodoxe, avec
      sa religion égoïste et matérielle. Malheur à qui s’arrête à cette
      décadence! Honte à celui qui, devant le Parthénon, songe à remarquer
      un ridicule! Il faut le reconnaître pourtant: la Grèce ne fut jamais
      sérieusement chrétienne; elle ne l’est pas encore. Aucune race ne
      fut moins romantique, plus dénuée du sentiment chevaleresque de
      notre moyen âge. Platon bâtit toute sa théorie de la beauté en se
      passant de la femme. Penser à une femme pour s’exciter à faire de
      grandes choses! un Grec eût été bien surpris d’un pareil langage; il
      pensait, lui, aux hommes réunis sur l’_agora_, il pensait à la
      patrie. Sous ce rapport, les Latins étaient plus près de nous. La
      poésie grecque, incomparable dans les grands genres tels que
      l’épopée, la tragédie, la poésie lyrique désintéressée, n’avait pas,
      ce semble, la douce note élégiaque de Tibulle, de Virgile, de
      Lucrèce, note si bien en harmonie avec nos sentiments, si voisine de
      ce que nous aimons.

      “La même différence se retrouve entre la piété de saint Bernard, de
      saint François d’Assise et celle des saints de l’Église grecque. Ces
      belles écoles de Cappadoce, de Syrie, d’Égypte, des Pères du désert,
      sont presque des écoles philosophiques. L’hagiographie populaire des
      Grecs est plus mythologique que celle des Latins. La plupart des
      saints qui figurent dans l’iconostase d’une maison grecque et devant
      lesquels brûle une lampe ne sont pas de grands fondateurs, de grands
      hommes, comme les saints de l’Occident; ce sont souvent des êtres
      fantastiques, d’anciens dieux transfigurés, ou du moins des
      combinaisons de personnages historiques et de mythologie, comme
      saint Georges. Et cette admirable église de Sainte-Sophie! c’est un
      temple arien; le genre humain tout entier pourrait y faire sa
      prière. N’ayant pas eu de pape, d’inquisition, de scolastique, de
      moyen age barbare, ayant toujours gardé un levain d’arianisme, la
      Grèce lâchera plus facilement qu’aucun autre pays le christianisme
      surnaturel, à peu près comme ces Athéniens d’autrefois étaient en
      même temps, grâce à une sorte de légèreté, mille fois plus profonde
      que le sérieux de nos lourdes races, le plus superstitieux des
      peuples et le plus voisin du rationalisme. Les chants populaires
      grecs sont encore aujourd’hui pleins d’images et d’idées païennes. À
      la grande différence de l’Occident, l’Orient garda durant tout le
      moyen âge et jusqu’aux temps modernes de vrais ‘hellénistes,’ au
      fond plus païens que chrétiens, vivants du culte de la vieille
      patrie grecque et des vieux auteurs. Ces hellénistes sont, au XVe
      siècle, les agents de la renaissance de l’Occident, auquel ils
      apportent les textes grecs, base de toute civilization. Le même
      esprit a présidé et présidera aux destinées de la Grèce nouvelle.
      Quand on a bien étudié ce qui fait de nos jours le fond d’un Hellène
      cultivé, on voit qu’il y a chez lui très-peu de christianisme: il
      est chrétien de forme, comme un Persan est musulman; mais au fond il
      est ‘helléniste.’ Sa religion, c’est l’adoration de l’ancien génie
      grec. Il pardonne toute hérésie au philhellène, a celui qui admire
      son passé; il est bien moins disciple de Jésus et de saint Paul que
      de Plutarque et de Julien.”

   58 The reader will find in my last chapter some further information
      concerning the remains of mediæval Greece.

   59 I have seen it very full in June; I have also seen it almost dry in
      April, so that it depends upon the season whether the traveller will
      enjoy the coolness of the river, or turn with disappointment from
      its stony bed.

   60 On a fine summer’s day, in the meadows about Eton, I was struck with
      the truth of this phrase. A light breeze was making all the poplars
      shiver beside the great elms, which stood in silence.

   61 This was the military harbor, at least in the fourth century, B. C.,
      when the architect Philo built a famous arsenal (_σκευοθήκη_) at its
      north-east corner, of which the plan and even details have been
      reconstructed by Dr. Dörpfeld from an important inscription
      recovered in 1881.

   62 Thucydides, followed by modern historians, has nevertheless been
      inaccurate in his use of the expression _Long Walls_. He sometimes
      means the north and Phaleric wall, sometimes the north and south
      parallel walls, to the exclusion of the Phaleric wall. The long
      walls rebuilt by Conon were the latter pair, and thus not the same
      long walls as were finished in 456 B. C.

   63 The reader who desires to see the best poetical picture of modern
      Athens should consult the tenth chapter in Mr. Symonds’s _Sketches
      in Italy and Greece_—one of the most beautiful productions of that
      charming poet in prose.

   64 IX. § I. p. 244 (Tauchn.).

   65 He reads, however, _φρίξουσι_, instead of Herodotus’s _φρύξουσι_.

   66 There is now a railway from Athens to the mines (1887).

   67 The earliest allusion to them is a line in Æschylus’s _Persæ_, where
      they come in so peculiarly, and without any natural suggestion, that
      they must have been in his day a new and surprising source of
      wealth. Atossa is inquiring of the chorus about Athens, and whether
      it possesses any considerable wealth. The chorus replies (v. 238):

        _ἀργύρου πηγή τις αὐτοῖς ἐστι, θησαυρὸς χθονός._

      This inference of mine, made years ago, is now strongly confirmed by
      the recovered _Polity of the Athenians_, which says (chap. xxii.):
      “In the archonship of Nicodemus [484–3 B. C.], when the mines at
      Maroneia [as he calls them] were discovered (_ἐφάνη_), and there was
      a profit of 100 talents from the work, Themistocles,” etc.

   68 It is possible that in the days of Eretria’s greatness, when she
      ruled over a number of the Cyclades, Eretrians may have worked the
      mines. These occupants probably preceded the Æginetans. But the
      strange thing is, that the mines and their large profits appear
      suddenly, and as a novelty, at a particular point of Greek history.

   69 Arist. _Œcon._, II. 4.

   70 Since I visited the place there are actually five companies—two
      Greek and three French—established to work the district.

   71 There is also a quotation in Strabo (iii. 3, § 9), from Demetrius
      Phal., implying their activity in the third century B. C. Plutarch
      (_de defectu or._ 43) speaks of them as having _lately_ failed.

   72 Byron, who loved this spot above all others, I think, in Greece,
      speaks of sixteen as still standing in his day.

   73 Dr. Dörpfeld has since shown that the marble temple at Sunium was
      built on the site of an older temple, with a very slight but
      distinct enlargement of the plan. The older temple was of the
      ordinary poros-stone found on the site.

   74 “Aujourd’hui tout ce district est presque désert; seuls, quelques
      archéologues et quelques artistes affrontent ces gorges pierreuses
      et ces scabreux sentiers; on prend alors ce chemin pour aller de
      Marathon à Chalcis et revenir à Athènes par Décélie, entre le
      Pentélique et Parnès. Ces monuments de Rhamnunte offrent des traits
      curieux qui les rendent intéressants pour le voyageur érudit; mais
      de plus les ruines mêmes et le site ont assez de beauté pour
      dédommager de leur peine ceux qui recherchent surtout le
      pittoresque. Je n’oublierai jamais les quelques heures que j’ai
      passées là, il y a déjà longtemps, par une radieuse matinée d’avril.
      Pendant que nous examinions ce qui restait des anciens sanctuaires
      et de leurs défenses, notre guide songeait au déjeuner; il avait
      acheté un agneau à l’un de ces pâtres appelés _Vlaques_ qui, avec
      leurs brebis et leurs chèvres éparses dans les buissons de myrtes et
      de lentisques, sont à peu près les seuls habitants de ce canton.
      Quand nous revînmes, l’agneau, soutenu sur deux fourches fichées en
      terre par un jeune pin sylvestre qui servait de broche, cuisait tout
      entier devant un feu clair, et la graisse coulait à grosses gouttes
      sur les charbons ardents. Devant notre tapis étendu à l’ombre avait
      été préparée une jonchée de verts branchages sur lesquels le
      succulent rôti, rapidement découpé par le coutelas d’un berger,
      laissa bientôt tomber côtelettes et gigots.

      “Ce qui nous fit prolonger là notre halte après que notre appetit
      fut satisfait, ce fut la vue magnifique dont on jouissait de la
      plate-forme où nous étions établis, dans un coin de l’acropole. A
      nos pieds, c’était la mer, veloutée de chatoyante reflets par le
      soleil, par la brise, par les nuages qui passaient au ciel. En face
      de nous se dressaient les hautes et sévères côtes de l’Eubée,
      dominés par la pyramide du Dirphys. Ce fier sommet était encore tout
      blanc des neiges de l’hiver; au contraire, si nous nous retournons
      vers les gorges qui se creusaient autour de nous dans la montagne,
      entre des parois de marbre rougies et comme hâlées par le soleil,
      c’était le printemps de la Grèce dans tout son épanouissement et son
      éclat. Dans le fond des ravins, là où un peu d’eau filtrait sous les
      cailloux, arbres de Judée et cytises mêlaient leurs brillantes
      couleurs au tendre feuillage des platanes, et sur les pentes les
      plus âpres des milliers de genêts en fleur étincelaient parmi la
      verdure des genévriers, des chênes et des oliviers francs.

      “Dans l’antiquité, toute cette portion du territoire athénien, qui
      faisait partie de ce que l’on appelait la _Diakria_ ou le ‘haut
      pays,’ sans avoir de gros villages ni une population aussi dense que
      celle des plaines d’Athènes ou d’Eleusis, devait pourtant présenter
      un aspect assez diffèrent de celui qu’elle offre aujourd’hui; je me
      la représente assez semblable à ce que sont maintenant certains
      districts montueux de la Grèce moderne où le désir d’éviter le
      contact des Turcs avait rejeté et cantonné les Hellènes: il en était
      ainsi du Magne, de la Tzaconie, des environs de Karytena en Arcadie.
      Partout là, une industrieuse persévérance a mis à profit tout ce que
      pouvaient offrir de ressources le sol et le climat. Sur des pentes
      abruptes et presque verticales, de petits murs en pierres sèches
      s’efforcent de retenir une mince couche de terre végétale; malgré
      ces précautions, les grandes pluies de l’hiver et les vents de l’été
      en emportent une partie jusqu’au fond de la vallée, sans jamais se
      lasser, hommes, femmes, enfants, travaillent sans relâche à réparer
      ces dégâts. Que de fois, admirant la patience de ces sobres et
      tenaces montagnards, je les ai suivis des yeux pendant qu’ils
      allaient ainsi lentement, le dos courbé sous leurs hottes pleines,
      gravissant des sentiers sablonneux ou d’étroits escaliers taillés à
      même la roche qui leur renvoyait touts les ardeurs du soleil! Au
      bout de quelques années, il n’est pas peut-être une parcelle du
      terrain dans chacun de ces petits champs qui n’ait fait plusieurs
      fois le voyage, qui n’ait glissé jusqu’au bord du torrent pour être
      ensuite ramenée pelletée par pelletée, sur une des terrasses
      supérieures. Ces sacrifices sont récompensés. Le long du ruisseau,
      là où les côtes s’écartent et laissent entre elles un peu d’espace,
      l’eau, soigneusement ménagée, mesurée par heures et par minutes à
      chaque propriétaire, court bruyante et claire dans les rigoles; elle
      arrose des vergers où croissent, suivant les lieux, soit l’oranger,
      le citronnier et le grenadier, soit les arbres de nos climats
      tempérés, le pêcher, le pommier et le poirier; à leur ombre
      grossissent la fève et l’enorme courge. Plus haut, sur les versants
      les moins roides et les moins pierreux, là où la légère charrue
      inventée par Triptolème a trouvé assez de place pour tracer le
      sillon, l’orge et le seigle verdissent au printemps, et, dans les
      bonnes années, profitent pour mûrir des tardifs soleils d’automne.
      Ce qui d’ailleurs réussit le mieux dans ces montagnes, ce qui paye
      vraiment les habitants de leurs peines, c’est l’olivier, dont les
      puissantes racines étreignent le roc et semblent faire corps avec
      lui; c’est la vigne, qui, d’étage en étage, grimpe presque jusqu’aux
      sommets. A l’un et à l’autre, pour donner une huile et un vin qui
      seraient les plus savoureux du monde, s’ils étaient mieux préparés,
      il suffit de beaucoup de soleil, d’un peu de terre et de quelques
      coups de hoyau qui viennent à propos ameublir le sol et le dégager
      des plantes parasites.

      “C’est ainsi que dans l’Attique, au temps de sa prospérité, même les
      cantons aujourd’hui les plus déserts et les plus stériles devaient
      être habités et cultivés. Sur beaucoup de ces croupes où le roc
      affleure presque partout, où verdit à peine, aux premiers jours du
      printemps, une herbe courte, diaprée d’anémones et de cistes, qui
      jaunira dès le mois de mai, il y avait jadis une couche plus épaisse
      de terre végétale. Dans les ravins, là où j’ai perdu plus d’une fois
      mon chemin en poursuivant la perdrix rouge ou la bécasse à travers
      des maquis touffus, on a, pendant bien des siècles, fait la vendange
      et la cueillette des olives; c’est ce dont témoignent, sur les
      pentes les mieux exposées aux rayons du midi ou du couchant, des
      restes de murs et de terrassements que l’on distingue encore dans
      l’épaisseur du fourré. Dans les endroits où la culture était à peu
      près impossible, des bois de pins, aujourd’hui presque entièrement
      détruits, empêchaient la montagne de se dénuder; dans les clairières
      et entre les rocs mêmes poussaient la sauge, la campanule et le
      thym, toutes ces plantes aromatiques, tous ces vigoureux arbustes
      que se plaît à tondre la dent des moutons et des chèvres.”

        _   75 πολλαὶ δ’ ἁμὶν ὕπερθε κατὰ κρατὸς δονέοντο_
        _αἴγειροι πτελέαι τε· τὸ δ’ ἐγγύθεν ἱερὸν ὕδωρ_
        _Νυμφᾶν ἐξ ἄντροιο κατειβόμενον κελάρυζε_
                  —THEOCR. VII. 135.

   76 Since M. Trikoupi’s long and effective administration, brigandage
      was so effectually put down that, although there were plenty of
      brigands in Mount Olympus close to the frontier, it was perfectly
      safe to wander about in Northern Greece up to the vale of Tempe.
      Such was the state of things in 1889. Whether his recent successor
      will keep as good order remains to be seen.

_   77 Social Life in Greece_, p. 23.

   78 Xen. _Hell._, iv., 3, § 1. To cite a parallel in modern history: a
      writer in the _Pall Mall Gazette_ (July 12, 1876) says: “I witnessed
      a battle during the War of Greek Independence. It lasted three days;
      the quantity of ammunition expended was enormous, and the result was
      one man wounded!”

   79 So Strabo describes it, IX. 1, § 12. For further details consult the
      _Guide Joanne_ for Athens (1888), p. 201.

_   80 De Legg._, II. 14, § 36.

_   81 in Cer._ v. 480.

_   82 Thren._ (frag.)

_   83 Œd.__ Col._ 1042.

_   84 Ran._ 455.

_   85 Phæd._ cc. 29, 30.

_   86 Paneg._ § 6.

_   87 Etym. Mag._, s. v. _τελετή_.

   88 There seems no doubt that some of these symbols, derived from old
      nature-worship, were very gross, and quite inconsistent with modern
      notions of religion. But even these were features hallowed and
      ennobled by the spirit of the celebrants, whose reverence blinded
      their eyes, while lifting up their hearts.

   89 In the fragments of Plutarch’s _De anima_ there are some very
      striking passages on this subject. “After this,” he says, evidently
      describing some part of the ceremony, “there came a great light,
      there were shown pure places and meadows, with dances, and all that
      was splendid and holy to see and hear, in which he who is now
      perfected by initiation, and has obtained freedom and remission,
      joins in the devotions, with his head crowned, in the company of
      pure and holy men, and beholds from thence the unclean uninitiated
      crowd of mortals in deep mire and mist, trodden down and crowded by
      each other, but in fear of death, adhering to their ills through
      want of faith in the goods beyond. Since from these you may clearly
      see that the connection of the soul with the body is a coercion
      against nature.”

   90 The Greeks always regard these nomads as foreigners in race, and
      incapable of any settled or civilized life. They do great mischief
      to young trees and fences, which they never respect. Yet when
      arrested for doing mischief they are protected by the sympathies of
      the Greeks, who hate all coercion, however reasonable.

   91 Colonel Leake already felt these difficulties, and moves Eleutheræ a
      few miles to the south-west. But Œnoe and Eleutheræ must have been
      close together, from the allusion in the _Antiope_ of Euripides. Cf.
      Eurip., frag. 179 (ed. Nauck), and the passages quoted there.

   92 This the Peloponnesians did at Œnoe, according to Thucydides;
      perhaps therefore at this very place.

   93 There was no photograph of this very fine building existing when I
      was in Greece. The only drawing of it I have seen is in the plates
      of Dodwell’s _Archæological Tour in Greece_—a splendid book. The
      fort of Phyle, though smaller, possesses all the features described
      in this fort, and shows that they represent a general type.

   94 This pass (seized by the Persian cavalry before the battle of
      Platæa, in order to stop the Greek provision trains) was called
      _τρεῖς κεφαλαί_ by the Thebans, but _δρυὸς κεφ._ by the Athenians
      (Herod. IX. 39)—evidently the same old name diversely interpreted by
      diverse _Volks-etymologien_. _τρεῖς_ and _δρυός_ are pronounced
      almost alike in modern Greek, probably therefore in old Greek
      likewise. But I will not touch the thorny question of old Greek

   95 Cf. what I have said in relation to Polybius’s account of it in my
      _Greek Life and Thought_, pp. 534 _sq._

   96 Cf., for example, the figures in the recent (1891) _Guide Joanne_,
      ii. xxxvi.

   97 There was, indeed, a splendid _pleasaunce_ built at Thebes by the
      Frankish knights, which was completely destroyed by the grand
      Catalan company. It is described by their annalist Ramon Muntaner.
      The remains of one Frankish tower mark the place.

   98 See his life in Gregorovius’s _Athen_, vol. i. pp. 144 _sq._

   99 The legend of the name is now fully explained in the fragments of
      the _Antiope_ published by me in the _Petrie papyri_ (Williams &
      Norgate, 1891).

  100 I trust none will imagine that I intend the least disrespect to M.
      Boulgaris, who was, according to far better authority than that
      quoted in the text, an honorable and estimable man. But some of his
      Ministers have been since convicted of malpractices concerning
      certain archbishoprics, which were bought for money. The trial is
      now a matter of history, to which an allusion is sufficient.

  101 Since that time, the chief power has for the most part been in the
      hands of M. Trikoupi, an honest patriot. Yet it was the misfortune
      of the country to be reduced by M. Delyanni to the verge of
      bankruptcy through his absurd war policy against Turkey. It is
      probable enough that he did not lead, but was carried along by this
      policy, with which all the Athenian “Jingoes” were possessed.

  102 This plague seems unavoidable in a southern climate, wherever the
      houses, however good, are built of wood, and does not imply any
      ungrateful reflection upon my refined and generous hosts. In the
      Morea, where houses are built of masonry, even badly-kept houses are
      comparatively safe.

  103 Cf. Polygnotus’s picture of Agamemnon (Paus. x. 30, 3), _σκήπτρῳ τε
      ὑπὸ τὴν ἀριστερὰν μασχάλην ἐρειδόμενος_.

  104 Since these words were written, M. Holleaux’s researches at Akræphiæ
      have not only discovered the inscription containing the Emperor
      Nero’s speech to the Greeks, but also many curious remains from the
      temple of Apollo Ptoos.

_  105 ὅστις δὲ τὰ σὺν τέχνῃ πεποιημένα ἐπίπροσθε τίθεται τῶν ἀρχαιόητα
      ἡκώτων, καὶ τάδε ἐστιν οἱ θεάσασθαι._ I. 24. 3.

  106 Cf. Plut. _Agesilaus_, chap. xvii.

  107 An account of the discovery, by the only surviving member of the
      party, Mr. G. L. Taylor, has been published by Mr. W. S. Vaux in the
      _Trans. of the Roy. Soc. of Lit._, 2nd series, vol. viii. pp. 1,
      _sqq._ The latter gentleman called attention to his paper when the
      subject was being discussed in the _Academy_ in 1877. A very
      different story was told to Colonel Mure, and has passed from his
      _Travels_ into Murray’s _Guide_. The current belief among the Greeks
      seems still to be that a Greek patriot called Odysseus, perceiving
      the stone protruding from the clay, and, on striking it, hearing its
      hollow ring, dug it out and broke it in pieces, imagining it to be a
      record of Philip’s victory over Hellenic liberty. Some ill-natured
      people added that he hoped to find treasure within it.

  108 Mr. Taylor and his friends thought it must have stood in the
      attitude of the now abolished lion on Northumberland House. This did
      not appear so to us; but it is difficult to decide. The restoration
      by Siegel in the _Mon. of the Soc. Arch._ of Rome, for 1856, of
      which Mr. A. S. Murray most kindly sent me a drawing, makes the
      posture a _sitting_ one, like that of the sitting lion in front of
      the Arsenal at Venice. There is a small sitting lion from Calymnæ,
      of the same posture, in the Brit. Museum. The Greeks, when my
      account was first published in their papers, became fully alive to
      the value of this monument, and anxious for its restoration. There
      had been a custodian appointed to watch over it, even when I was
      there, but he chanced to be absent when we paid our visit.

  109 Since these words were written, the labors of the Greek
      archæologists have discovered the great _polyandrion_ or common tomb
      of the dead, which the lion commemorated. They lay in rows, many of
      them with broken bones, showing how they had received their
      death-wound, and with them were fragments of broken weapons. Never
      have we come closer to an ancient battle, or discovered more
      affecting records of a great struggle.

  110 This seems to be implied in the account of the murder of Laïus by
      Œdipus, on this very road, as it is described in Sophocles’s _Œdipus

  111 Indeed Tripolitza lies between the ancient sites of Mantinea and
      Tegea, and quite close to the latter.

  112 This was done by the monks at Athos, when Mahomet II. was
      threatening Constantinople. They foresaw his victory, and by early
      submission made their own terms, and saved both their liberties and
      their property.

  113 Cf. also Plutarch’s tract _de Pyth. orac._ for details of _ciceroni_
      and visitors in his day.

  114 The hippodrome for the chariot races was, however, in the plain
      beneath, as Pausanias tells us (x. 37, 4).

  115 This journey I since made by rail, in this place a harmless

  116 Cf. the passage quoted from M. Georges Perrot above, p. 185.

  117 A commodious stone museum has since been built, and the treasures
      are doubtless by this time transferred to it. But the great
      earthquake of 1885, so near Olympia, makes us tremble for the safety
      of any sculpture in a stone building under a solid roof. How
      terrible if the house were to fall on the _Hermes_!

  118 This judgment of mine has since been confirmed by the authority of
      Overbeck. It is indeed very hard to estimate rightly a new discovery
      of this kind. I rated the work of Alkamenes, perhaps, too highly.

  119 The student who desires to prosecute this difficult subject should
      study Overbeck’s _History of Greek Sculpture_, or the works of Mr.
      A. S. Murray, or Mr. Copeland Perry, on the same subject.

  120 The fact that some of these public meetings are associated with the
      fall of tyrants does not, I think, disprove what is here advanced.

  121 I have not room here to give in full my reasons for rejecting the
      earlier part of the Olympic register, as being the manufacture of
      Hippias of Elis, later than 400 B. C. But the reader who is curious
      on the subject may either consult my article in the _Journal of
      Hellenic Studies_ for 1881, or the appendix to my _Problems in Greek
      History_ (1892). He will then see that there is no direct evidence
      whatever for any early list, and that the antiquarian Pausanias, in
      his hunt after ancient monuments at Olympia, could find nothing
      earlier than the so-called 33d Olympiad. Plutarch, moreover, in the
      opening of his _Life of Numa_, tells us plainly that the list was
      the manufacture of Hippias, _and based on no trustworthy evidence_.
      To accept the list, therefore, in the face of these objections, is
      to exhibit culpable credulity.

  122 So also under the early Roman Empire the exiles on the barren
      islands of the Ægean seem to have been allowed this indulgence. Cf.
      the curious passage from Plutarch I have quoted and explained in my
      _Greek World under Roman Sway_, p. 261.

  123 The very stringent laws quoted by Æschines _in Timarchum_ may
      possibly be spurious, since we know from other allusions that they
      were not enforced. But more probably they existed as a dead letter,
      which could be revived if occasion required.

  124 The modern Greeks make their cheese for keeping, even now, in wicker
      baskets, and distinguish it from _χλωρὸς τύρος_, which now means
      cream cheese, and which they carry to market in woollen bags. There
      was a special market for it in Athens in Aristophanes’s day, but not
      in woollen bags; for, as Mr. Pickering (of Shrewsbury School)
      pointed out to me, the cream cheese of Aristophanes’s day was kept
      in wicker work. I gladly here acknowledge this correction of the
      note in my former edition.

  125 I should, however, call attention to an exceptional vase in the
      little Turkish house on the Acropolis, probably of late date, in
      which a runner is represented with his elbows back and hands closed,
      and near his sides, in very good form.

  126 Pausanias is responsible for the date, which he probably copied from
      Hippias of Elis. It is noted as a special wonder that the same man
      should win the sprint and long races at Olympia, which shows that
      the latter must have been mainly a test of staying power. The
      Spartan Ladas died at the winning-post, and this endurance was
      thought rather a wonderful feat, but of course his death may have
      resulted from bad training, or from heart disease.

  127 “Know ye not,” says St. Paul, “that all run, and _one_ receiveth the
      crown?”—a quite different condition of things from that of the
      Iliad, where every competitor, like the boys at a private school,
      comes off with a prize.

  128 Possibly this special sort of wrestling has been confused with the
      _pankration_, from which it can have differed but little, if it
      indeed subsisted permanently as a distinct form of wrestling.

  129 The single competitions in running and wrestling were distinct from
      those in the pentathlon, and rewarded by separate crowns.

  130 This is the moment chosen by Canova in his celebrated representation
      of these boxers in the Vatican, a fact of which I was ignorant till
      it was pointed out to me, in correcting an error I had made about
      them, by Mr. M’D. Campbell, of Glasgow.

  131 The first case of cheating was said to have taken place in the 98th
      Ol. (388 B. C.), when the Thessalian Eupolos was convicted of
      bribing the three boxers opposed to him, one of whom had won at the
      previous meeting. Such crimes were commemorated by bronze figures of
      Zeus (called _Ζᾶνες_ at Elis), which were of the value of the fines
      inflicted, and had inscriptions warning all athletes of the dangers
      and the disgrace of cheating.

  132 The reader will find some illustrations of it in my _Social Greece_,
      6th edition, p. 96.

  133 It has been since inserted from my notes in the English translation
      of Bædeker’s _Greece_.

  134 Polybius, iv. 70.

  135 By this time (1891) there are probably three or four rivals, which
      the traveller will see noted in his guide-book, provided he does not
      depend on the _Guide Joanne_, which neglects to give such
      information. The house to which I allude in the text is the Hotel S.

  136 This is not contradicted by the fact of there being isolated
      Arcadian poets, such as Echembrotus and Aristarchus, distinguished
      in foreign schools of art.

  137 The _Eclogues_ of Petrarch are modelled upon those of Vergil to the
      exclusion of the most characteristic features borrowed by the latter
      from Theocritus.

  138 The following extract from the first prose piece of the book will
      show how absolutely imaginary is his Arcadia, with its impossible
      combination of trees, and its absence of winter:—

      “Giace nella sommità di Partenio, non umile monte della pastorale
      Arcadia, un dilettevole piano, di ampiezza non molto spazioso,
      peroche il sito del luogo non consente, ma di minuta e verdissima
      erbetta sì ripieno, che, se le lascive pecorelle con gli avidi morsi
      non vi pasceresso, vi si potrebbe d’ogni tempo ritrovare verdura.
      Ove, se io non m’inganno, son forse dodici o quindici alberi di
      tanto strana ed eccessiva bellezza, che chiunque le vedesse,
      giudicherebbe che la maestra natura vi si fosse con sommo diletto
      studiata in formarli. Li quali alquanto distanti, ed in ordine non
      artificioso disposti, con la loro rarità la naturale bellezza del
      luogo oltra misura annobiliscono. Quivi senza nodo veruno si vede il
      dritissimo abete, nato a sostenere i pericoli del mare; e con più
      aperti rami la robusta quercia, e l’alto frassino, e lo amenissimo
      platano vi si distendano, con le loro ombre non picciola parte del
      bello e copioso prato occupando; ed evvi con più breve fronda
      l’albero, di che Ercole coronare si solea, nel cui pedale le misere
      figliuole di Climene furono trasformate: ed in un de’ lati si scerne
      il noderoso castagno, il fronzuto bosco, e con puntate foglie lo
      eccelso pino carico di durissimi frutti; nell’ altro l’ombroso
      faggio, la incorruttibile tiglia, il fragile tamarisco, insieme con
      la orientale palma, dolci ed onorato premio dei vincitori. Ma fra
      tutti nel mezzo, presso un chiaro fonte, sorge verso il cielo un
      dritto cipresso,” etc., etc. The work is, moreover, full of direct
      imitations of Vergil, not, I fancy, of Theocritus also, as the
      Italian commentators suppose, for that poet was not adequately
      printed till 1495, which must have been very near the date of the
      actual composition of the _Arcadia_.

  139 It is worth noting that the Arcadian vision in the _Shepherd of
      Hermas_, describing a scene of twelve mountains of varied and
      contrasted aspect, though intended for an allegorical purpose, is
      really faithful to nature, and suggests that the author knew
      something of the country he describes.

  140 Pausanias places the source of the Alpheus higher up, and close to
      Tegea in the eastern plain.

  141 This is what Pausanias says, though modern scholars seem very
      doubtful about it.

  142 Several details, such as the unusual length in proportion to the
      breadth, the engaged pillars inside the cella, and the forms of the
      capitals, have now been explained as deliberate archaicisms on the
      part of Ictinus, who here copied far older forms. The curious Ionic,
      and even the Corinthian, capitals, may point back to old Asianic, or
      Assyrian, models, and the proportions of the cella with its engaged
      pillars have their prototype or parallel in the curious old _Heræon_
      (cf. p. 304) found at Olympia. This seems to me a very happy
      solution of the difficulties, and shows us Ictinus in a new light.
      Another specimen of his art, with unexpected features, may be the
      newly unearthed Hall of the Mysteries at Eleusis, already described,
      if indeed this be his work, and not a late copy of it.

  143 The same must have been the case with Messene, which was laid out
      likewise by Epaminondas on an absurdly large scale, as the remains
      of the great walls still show. They seem intended to enclose a whole
      parish, and not a city. But of these I shall speak again, p. 452.

  144 The results hitherto attained are still uncertain, owing to an
      active controversy between Dr. Dörpfeld and the English explorers,
      which has not yet (1892) been settled. I forbear entering upon it

  145 It is usually forgotten in recent accounts that this sacking of the
      town was no more than a retribution for the hideous massacre of the
      whole Turkish population, including women and children, in cold
      blood, by the insurgent Greeks. The details may be had in General
      Gordon’s _Memoirs_ or in Finlay’s _History_.

  146 Strabo mentions that the new settlers, coming upon old tombs in the
      digging for new foundations, found there quantities of graceful
      pottery, which was sold to Romans, and became the fashion there.
      Hence it was diligently sought and sold under the title
      _νεκροκορίνθια_. We may be sure that every ancient tomb was rifled
      in this way.

  147 On the foundation of the new Greek kingdom, it was seriously debated
      whether Corinth should not be the capital; but the constant
      prevalence of fever in the district, together with sentimental
      reasons, determined the selection of Athens in preference.

  148 Even the new railway has not altered this. The journey up and down
      the bay in a coasting steamer is still well worth undertaking.

  149 M. Viollet-le-duc, in his _Entretiens sur l’Architecture_, vol. i.
      p. 45, explains the reason of this. Apart from the greater facility
      of raising smaller blocks, most limestones are subject to flaws,
      which are disclosed only by strain. Hence it was much safer to
      support the entablature on two separate beams, one of which might
      sustain, at least temporarily, the building, in case the other
      should crack.

  150 Cf. pp. 370 and 433.

  151 Strabo, who had apparently travelled but little through Greece,
      speaks with admiration of this view, which he had evidently seen.
      The fortress of Karytena is some twenty or thirty feet higher in
      situation and far more picturesque from below, but is too much
      surrounded by other high mountains to admit of a prospect like that
      from the Acro-Corinthus.

  152 See also _Guide Joanne_, ii. p. 197.

  153 This is just what Strabo says (viii. 6, § 21): _ἔκρυσιν μὲν οὐκ
      ἔχουσαν μεστὴν δ’ ἀεὶ διαυγοῦς καὶ ποτίμου ὕδατος_, and Corinth was
      one of the few Greek places he visited.

  154 So also learned men speak about the amphitheatre. Herzberg (ii. 253)
      says: “Seine Ruine steht noch heute.” Cf. also Friedländer, ii. 383,
      but I could not find it.

  155 Part ii. p. 198, _sq._ (1891).

  156 The reader who performs this journey by train may consider whether
      what here follows is not an older and better way.

_  157 πολλὸς δὲ καὶ ὡς ῥόδα κίσθος ἐπανθεῖ_.—THEOCR. v. 131.

  158 There is a tract of sea-coast on the east side of Italy, about
      halfway between Ancona and Monte Gargano, which has this Theocritean
      character to perfection. Even the railway passenger can appreciate
      the curious contrast it affords to the splendid orchards and gardens
      about Bari, which are still farther south.

        _  159 οὐ θέμις, ὦ ποιμήν, τὸ μεσημβρινόν, οὐ θέμις ἆμμιν_
        _συρίσδεν. τὸν Πᾶνα δεδοίκαμες· ἦ γὰρ ἀπ’ ἄγρας_
        _τανίκα κεκμηὼς ἀμπαύεται, ἐστι γὰρ πικρός,_
        _καὶ οἱ ἀεὶ ὁριμεῖα χολὰ ποτὶ ῥινὶ κάθηται._—THEOCR. i. 15.

        _  160 τοὺς μὴν ὄγε λάεσσιν ἀπὸ χθονὸς ὅσσον ἀείρων_
        _γευγέμην ἄψ ὀπίσω δειδίσσετο, τρηχὺ δὲ φωνῇ_
        _ἠπείλει μάλα πᾶσιν, ἐρητύσασκε δ’ ὑλαγμοῦ,_
        _χαίρων ἐν φρησὶν ᾖσιν, ὁθούνεκεν αὔλιν ἔρυντο._
                THEOCR. xxv. 73, and cf. _Odyss._ xiv. 29 _sq._

  161 Pausanias speaks of Mycenæ and Tiryns as of like structure, which is
      not true. He often refers with wonder to these walls, and reflects
      upon the care with which Greek historians had described foreign
      curiosities like the Pyramids, while equally wonderful things in
      Greece were left unnoticed. Thus, he says that no pair of mules
      could stir from its place the smallest of the blocks in the walls of
      Tiryns. Cf. ii. 25, 8; and ix. 36, 5.

  162 The same effect is observable in Staigue Fort, in the county of
      Kerry, and has led some people to imagine that its stones were
      rudely fashioned. Cf. the splendid photographs of this Irish Tiryns
      in Lord Dunraven’s _Notes on Irish Architecture_.

_  163 πολυδίψιον_. A fragment of Hesiod (quoted by Eustathius in _Il._,
      p. 350) notes this epithet, in order to account for its being no
      longer true, _Ἄργος ἄνυδρον ἔον Δαναὸς ποίησεν ἔνυδρον_. Strabo
      (viii. p. 256) explains it by confining the epithet to the town of
      Argos, which Homer certainly did not, and by admitting that the
      country was well watered. Pausanias (ii. 15, 5) says that all the
      rivers ran dry, except in rainy weather, which is seldom true now.

        _  164 ἀλλ’ ἀνθηρῶν λειμώνων, φύλλων τ’ ἐν κόλποις ναίω,_
        _ἡνίκ’ ἄν ὁ θεσπέσιος ὀξὺ μέλος ἀχέτας_
        _θάλπεσι μεσημβρινοῖς ἡλιομανὴς βοᾷ._ (_Aves_, 1092–8.)

      The little-known lines in the _Shield of Hercules_ are also worth
      quoting (393, _sqq._):—

        _ἦμος δὲ χλοερῷ κυανόπτερος, ἠχέτα τέττιξ,_
        _ὄζῳ ἐφεζόενος, θέρας ἀνθρώποισιν ἀείδειν_
        _ἄρχεται, ᾧ τε πόσις καὶ βρῶσις θῆλυς ἐέρση,_
        _καί τε πανημέριός τε καὶ ἐῷος χέει αὐδὴν_
        _ἴδει ἐν αἰνοτάτῳ, ὁπότε χρόα Σείριος ἄζει._

  165 These Cyclopes, cunning builders, and even workers in metal, are to
      be carefully distinguished from the rude and savage Cyclopes
      represented in Homer’s _Odyssey_ as infesting Thrinacria, in the
      western seas.

  166 In the days of the composition of the _Iliad_ we see the power and
      greatness of Mycenæ distinctly expressed by the power of Agamemnon,
      who appears to rule over all the district and many islands. Yet the
      great hero, Diomedes, is made the sovereign of Argos and Tiryns in
      his immediate neighborhood. This difficulty has made some critics
      suppose that all the acts of Diomedes were foisted in by some of the
      Argive reciters of the _Iliad_. Without adopting this theory, which
      seems to me extravagant, I would suggest that, in the poet’s day,
      Argos was rapidly growing into first-rate importance, while all the
      older legends attested the greatness of Mycenæ. Thus the poet, who
      was obliged to put together the materials given him by divers older
      and shorter poems, was under the difficulty of harmonizing the
      fresher legends about Argos with the older about Mycenæ.

  167 I prefer this view even to that from the theatre of Taormina in
      Sicily, which is so justly celebrated, and which many people think
      the finest in Europe.

  168 Cf. his exhaustive article on the Mediæval History of Greece, in
      Ersch and Gruber’s _Encyclopædia_, vol. lxxxv., and more especially
      his refutation of Fallmerayer’s theory, pp. 100–19.

  169 A great authority, whose opinion I deeply respect—Prof. Sayce—goes
      so far as to say that language is by itself no proof of race, but
      only of social contact. I will not venture to deny that there are
      instances where this is so, and where invading strangers have
      adopted the language of the vanquished, though quite foreign to
      them. But surely this is the exception, and not the rule, and there
      is a _primâ facie_ probability in favor of a well-preserved language
      indicating a well-preserved race.

  170 This fact strengthens my conviction that at an early period Ægina
      worked the silver-mines of Laurium.

  171 Cf. Pindar’s frag. for the Corinthian _ἑταίραι_.

  172 The bronze cow of Myron seems also to have been a wonderfully
      admired work, to judge from the crowd of epigrams written upon it,
      which still survive.

  173 Cf. the account of his habits in his work, _Tiryns_, cap. I.

  174 I have made special inquiries for these, but without any result.
      They seem to be lost.

  175 Cf. p. 389, and the outrages of the Galatian mercenaries under
      Philip V. of Macedon.

_  176 Mycenæ_, p. 49.

  177 According to Pausanias, the treasury of Minyas was differently
      built; for the top stone of its flat dome was the keystone
      (_ἁρμονία_) of the whole. This is not true. The stone roofs in
      Ireland seem to me far more curious in construction, for two
      reasons: first, because the stones used are so very small; and
      secondly, because there can be, of course, no pressure on a roof
      like the pressure brought to bear on a subterranean chamber from

  178 Cf. Macpherson’s _Antiquities of Kertch_.

  179 There has been strange diversity of opinion about the nature of this
      stone. Dodwell and Leake call it basalt. Moreover, Dodwell thought
      it greenish. Some one else thinks it yellowish. The French
      expedition and Curtius call it limestone. Dr. Schliemann says it is
      the same breccia as the rest of the gate. It is in the face of these
      opinions that I persist in the statement that it is bluish, and

      It is owing to this note that it was again critically examined by
      Mr. Tuckett, who published his result in the _Architect_ of 19th
      January, 1879, and who had fragments of the stone analyzed, which
      justified my observation. He also notes that several observers erred
      as to the shape of the central pillar, which does not diminish in
      bulk downward.

  180 This, I perceive, is Dr. Schliemann’s opinion also. He was the first
      to show that along the entrance-wall the fine building with square
      blocks was only a facing laid on irregular building with small
      stones. This points clearly to two successive stages in the work.

  181 These analogies are brought out by Mr. A. S. Murray, in the
      _Academy_, No. 29. Cf. also Dörpfeld in _Schuchhardt_, p. 161.

  182 This is not true of Irish designs, which I compared carefully with
      the Mycenæan, and failed to find any identity, though many close

  183 It agrees with that of Schuchhardt (in _Schliemann’s Excavations_,
      1891), and of Busolt in the new edition of his Greek history, 1892.

  184 This theory of mine, stated in my first edition, is strongly
      supported by Dr. Adler in his preface to Schliemann’s _Tiryns_

  185 This has all been done, and alas! many of the gold cups have been
      polished by the barbarous zeal of the curators, so destroying the
      exquisite red bloom which made them so remarkable.

_  186 Athos, or the Mountain of the Monks._ By Athelstan Riley. Longmans,
      1887. This is the newest and best book on the subject.

  187 The very few travellers who have seen this, the most picturesque of
      all European buildings, must have heard with a painful shock that it
      was burned down in the spring of 1891.

                            TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE

The illustrations in the original volume were printed on separate, not
paginated plates. The captions were printed on the reverse side of the

The following changes have been made to the text:

      page 59, apostrophe added in “à l’ Eugénie”
      page 101, “Erectheum” changed to “Erechtheum”
      page 125, period added after “Bühnenalt”
      page 140, “Anaxgoras” changed to “Anaxagoras”
      page 144, “than” changed to “that”
      page 147, “fueillages” changed to “feuillages”, “caractèristiques”
      to “caractéristiques”
      page 188, “aujhourd’hui” changed to “aujourd’hui”
      page 197, “pollared” changed to “pollarded”
      page 201, period added after “23”, “Xenophen” changed to “Xenophon”,
      single quote changed to double quote before “I witnessed”
      page 211, “Oed.” changed to “Œd.”
      page 213, “initation” changed to “initiation”
      page 216, “Emile” changed to “Émile”
      page 263, period added after “originals”
      page 282, comma changed to period after “memory”
      page 369, “Basse” changed to “Bassæ”
      page 471, “haraldic” changed to “heraldic”
      page 481, quote removed before “but”
      page 519, “still” changed to “till”
      page 531, comma added after “Alkamenes”, period added after “154”,
      semicolon changed to comma after “_sq._” and “321–324”
      page 532, “plagues” changed to “plaques”, “Copias” changed to
      “Copais”, period added after “131” and “246”
      page 533, dash added between “425” and “427”, period added after
      “505”, semicolon changed to comma after “_sq._”
      page 534, “Pausanius” changed to “Pausanias”, “Mycenæn” changed to
      “Mycenæan”, “151,;” changed to “151;”
      page 535, semicolon changed to comma after first “_sq._”

Variations in hyphenation (e.g. “prehistoric”, “pre-historic”; “halfway”,
“half-way”) have not been changed. Neither have variant spellings in the
captions to the plates and in the index.

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