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Title: Greece and the Ægean Islands
Author: Marden, Philip Sanford
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                           THE ÆGEAN ISLANDS




                                AND THE
                             ÆGEAN ISLANDS


                         PHILIP SANFORD MARDEN



                    ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE & CO., LTD.

                          BOSTON AND NEW YORK

                        HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.


                   COPYRIGHT 1907 BY PHILIP S. MARDEN
                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

                       _Published November 1907_



What follows makes no pretense whatever of being a scientific work on
Greece, from an archæological or other standpoint. That it is written at
all is the resultant of several forces, chief among which are the
consciousness that no book hitherto published, so far as I am aware, has
covered quite the same ground, and the feeling, based on the experience
of myself and others, that some such book ought to be available.

By way of explanation and apology, I am forced to admit, even to myself,
that what I have written, especially in the opening chapters, is liable
to the occasional charge that it has a guide-bookish sound, despite an
honest and persistent effort to avoid the same. In the sincere desire to
show how easy it really is to visit Hellas, and in the ardent hope of
making a few of the rough places smooth for first visitors, I have
doubtless been needlessly prolix and explicit at the outset, notably in
dealing with a number of sordid details and directions. Moreover, to
deal in so small a compass with so vast a subject as that of ancient and
modern Athens is a task fraught with many difficulties. One certainly
cannot in such a book as this ignore Athens utterly, despite the fact
that so much has been published hitherto about the city and its
monuments that no further description is at all necessary. My object is
not to make Athens more familiar, but rather to describe other and more
remote sites in Greece for the information, and I hope also for the
pleasure, of past and future travelers. Athens, however, I could not
ignore; and while such brief treatment as is possible here is
necessarily superficial, it may help to awaken an additional interest in
that city where none existed before.

Aside from the preliminary chapters and those dealing with Athens
itself, I hope to have been more successful. I have, at any rate, been
free in those other places from the depressing feeling that I was
engaged on a work of supererogation, since this part of the subject is
by no means hackneyed even through treatment by technical writers. Since
the publication of most of the better known books on Greek travel, a
great deal has been accomplished in the way of excavation, and much that
is interesting has been laid bare, which has not been adequately
described, even in the technical works. In dealing with these additions
and in describing journeys to less familiar inland sites, as well as
cruises to sundry of the classic islands of the Ægean, I hope this book
will find its real excuse for being.

In adopting a system for spelling the names of Greek cities, towns, and
islands, I have been in something of a quandary, owing to the
possibilities presented by the various customs of authors in this field,
each one of which has something to recommend it and something, also, of
disadvantage. If one spells Greek names in the more common Anglicized
fashion, especially in writing for the average traveler, one certainly
avoids the appearance of affectation, and also avoids misleading the
reader by an unfamiliar form of an otherwise familiar word. Hence, after
much debate and rather against my own personal preferences and usage in
several instances, I have adhered in the main to the forms of name most
familiar to American eyes and ears. In cases of obscure or little known
sites, where it is occasionally more important to know the names as
locally pronounced, I have followed the Greek forms. This, while
doubtless not entirely logical, has seemed the best way out of a rather
perplexing situation, bound to be unsatisfactory whichever way one
attempts to solve the problem.

In mercy to non-Hellenic readers, I have likewise sought to exclude with
a firm hand quotations from the Greek language, and as far as reasonably
possible to avoid the use of Greek words or expressions when English
would answer every purpose.

If, in such places as have seemed to demand it, I have touched upon
archæological matters, I hope not to have led any reader far from the
truth, although one admittedly an amateur in such matters runs grave
risk in committing himself to paper where even the doctors themselves so
often disagree. I hope especially to have escaped advancing mere
personal opinions on moot points, since dilettanti in such a case have
little business to own any opinions, and none at all to exploit them to
the untutored as if they had importance or weight. Rather I have only
the desire to arouse others to a consciousness that it is as easy now to
view and enjoy the visible remnants of the glory that was Greece, as it
is to view those of the grandeur that was Rome.

In the writing of these chapters an effort has been made to set forth in
non-technical terms only what the writer himself has seen and observed
among these haunts of remote antiquity, with the idea of confining the
scope of this book to the needs of those who, like himself, possess a
veneration for the old things, an amateur’s love for the classics, and a
desire to see and know that world which was born, lived, and died before
our own was even dreamed of as existing. If by what is written herein
others are led to go and see for themselves, or are in any wise assisted
in making their acquaintance with Greece, or, better still, are enabled
the more readily to recall days spent in that most fascinating of all
the bygone nations, then this book, however unworthily dealing with a
great subject, will not have been written in vain.

                                                  PHILIP SANFORD MARDEN.

LOWELL, MASS., August, 1907.


                           TABLE OF CONTENTS

     I. TRAVELING IN GREECE                                          1

    II. CRETE                                                       18

   III. THE ENTRANCE TO GREECE                                      37

    IV. ATHENS; THE MODERN CITY                                     50

     V. ANCIENT ATHENS: THE ACROPOLIS                               76

    VI. ANCIENT ATHENS: THE OTHER MONUMENTS                         96

   VII. EXCURSIONS IN ATTICA                                       123

  VIII. DELPHI                                                     146

    IX. MYCENÆ AND THE PLAIN OF ARGOS                              169

     X. NAUPLIA AND EPIDAURUS                                      193

    XI. IN ARCADIA                                                 211

   XII. ANDHRITSÆNA AND THE BASSÆ           TEMPLE                 229

  XIII. OVER THE HILLS TO OLYMPIA                                  247

   XIV. THE ISLES OF GREECE: DELOS                                 272

    XV. SAMOS AND THE TEMPLE AT BRANCHIDÆ                          286

   XVI. COS AND CNIDOS                                             304

  XVII. RHODES                                                     318

 XVIII. THERA                                                      334

   XIX. NIOS; PAROS; A MIDNIGHT MASS                               351

    XX. CORFU                                                      368

        INDEX                                                      381

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


 ACROPOLIS, SHOWING PROPYLÆA                             _Frontispiece_

 MAP                                                                   1

 LANDING-PLACE AT CANEA                                              20—

 THRONE OF MINOS AT CNOSSOS                                           34

 STORE-ROOMS IN MINOAN PALACE, CNOSSOS                                36

 OLD CHURCH IN TURKISH QUARTER, ATHENS                                60

 TEMPLE OF NIKÉ APTEROS                                               80

 THE PARTHENON, WEST PEDIMENT                                         86

 TEMPLE OF OLYMPIAN ZEUS                                             104

 THE AREOPAGUS                                                       108

 THE THESEUM                                                         112

 TOMB AMPHORA, CERAMICUS                                             116

 TOMB RELIEF, CERAMICUS                                              118

 BRONZE EPHEBUS, NATIONAL MUSEUM, ATHENS                             120

 THE TEMPLE AT SUNIUM                                                134

 THE APPROACH TO ÆGINA                                               138

 THE TEMPLE AT ÆGINA                                                 138

 PEASANT DANCERS AT MENIDI                                           142

 THE PLAIN BELOW DELPHI                                              150

 THE VALE OF DELPHI                                                  156

 CHARIOTEER, DELPHI                                                  166

 AGORA, MYCENÆ                                                       180

 WOMAN SPINNING ON ROAD TO EPIDAURUS                                 198

 EPIDAURIAN SHEPHERDS                                                202

 THEATRE AT EPIDAURUS                                                206

 AN OUTPOST OF ARCADY                                                224

 THE GORGE OF THE ALPHEIOS                                           226

 ANDHRITSÆNA                                                         230

 AN ARBOREAL CAMPANILE. ANDHRITSÆNA                                  234

 THRESHING FLOOR AT BASSÆ                                            240

 TEMPLE AT BASSÆ, FROM ABOVE                                         244

 TEMPLE AT BASSÆ, FROM BELOW                                         244

 HERÆUM. OLYMPIA                                                     258

 ENTRANCE TO THE STADIUM. OLYMPIA                                    262

 DELOS, SHOWING GROTTO                                               282

 GROTTO OF APOLLO, DELOS                                             282

 COLUMN BASES. SAMOS                                                 296

 CARVED COLUMN-BASE. BRANCHIDÆ                                       296

 TREE OF HIPPOCRATES. COS                                            306

 CNIDOS, SHOWING THE TWO HARBORS                                     314

 SCULPTURED TRIREME IN ROCK AT LINDOS.                               327
 (From a Sketch by the Author)

 ARCHED PORTAL OF ACROPOLIS. LINDOS                                  328

 SANTORIN                                                            336

 LANDING-PLACE AT THERA                                              338

 THERA                                                               342

 A THERAN STREET                                                     346

 OLD COLUMNS IN CHURCH, PAROS                                        362

 “SHIP OF ULYSSES.” CORFU                                            374




                           THE ÆGEAN ISLANDS




                        CHAPTER I. TRAVELING IN


The days in which a visit to Greece might be set down as something quite
unusual and apart from the beaten track of European travel have passed
away, and happily so. The announcement of one’s intention to visit
Athens and its environs no longer affords occasion for astonishment, as
it did when Greece was held to be almost the exclusive stamping-ground
of the more strenuous archæologists. To be sure, those who have never
experienced the delights of Hellenic travel are still given to
wonderment at one’s expressed desire to revisit the classic land; but
even this must pass away in its turn, since few voyage thither without
awakening that desire.

It is no longer an undertaking fraught with any difficulty—much less
with any danger—to visit the main points of interest in the Hellenic
kingdom; and, what is more to the purpose in the estimation of many, it
is no longer an enterprise beset with discomfort, to any greater degree
than is involved in a journey through Italy. The result of the growing
consciousness of this fact has been a steadily increasing volume of
travel to this richest of classic lands—richest not alone in its
intangible memories, but richest also in its visible monuments of a
remote past, presenting undying evidence of the genius of the Greeks for
expressing the beautiful in terms of marble and stone. One may, of
course, learn to appreciate the beautiful in Greek thought without
leaving home, embodied as it is in the imposing literary remains to be
met with in traversing the ordinary college course. But in order fully
to know the beauty of the sculptures and architecture, such as
culminated in the age of Pericles, one must visit Greece and see with
his own eyes what the hand of Time has spared, often indeed in
fragmentary form, but still occasionally touched with even a new
loveliness through the mellowing processes of the ages.

To any thinking, reading man or woman of the present day, the memories,
legends, and history of ancient Greece must present sufficient
attraction. Few of us stop to realize how much of our modern thought and
feeling was first given adequate expression by the inhabitants of
ancient Athens, or how much of our own daily speech is directly
traceable to their tongue. Modern politics may still learn much tact of
Pericles, and oratorical excellence of Æschines, as modern philosophy
has developed from Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Is it not even true
that a large part of modern religious thought, the hope of glory at
least, if not the means of grace, finds its strongest foreshadowing in
the groping of the more enlightened Athenians for a hope of immortality
and life beyond the grave? The transition of the crowning architectural
glory of the Acropolis at Athens from a temple of the virgin (parthenos)
Athena to a church of the Virgin Mary was, after all, not so violent,
when it is remembered that the later paganism had softened from its old
system of corrupt personal deities to an abstract embodiment of their
chief attributes or qualities, such as wisdom, healing, love, and war.
Down to this day the traces of the pagan, or let us say the classic
period, are easy to discern, mingled with the modern Greek Christianity,
often unconsciously, and of course entirely devoid of any content of
paganism, but still unmistakably there. To this day festivals once
sacred to Asklepios still survive, in effect, though observed on
Christian holy days and under Christian nomenclature, with no thought of
reverence for the Epidaurian god, but nevertheless preserving intact the
ancient central idea, which impelled the worshiper to sleep in the
sanctuary awaiting the healing visit of a vision. In every church in
Greece to-day one may see scores of little metal arms, legs, eyes, and
other bodily organs hung up as votive offerings on the iconastasis, or
altar screen, just as small anatomical models were once laid by grateful
patients on the shrine of Asklepios at Cos. It is most striking and
impressive, this interweaving of relics of the old-time paganism with
the modern Greek religion, showing as it does a well-marked line of
descent from the ancient beliefs without violent disruption or
transition. It has become a well-recognized fact that certain modern
churches often directly replace the ancient temples of the spot in a
sort of orderly system, even if it be hard occasionally to explain. The
successors of the fanes of Athena are ordinarily churches of the Virgin
Mary, as was the case when the Parthenon was used for Christian worship.
In other sites the worship of Poseidon gave way to churches sacred to
St. Nicholas. The old temples of Ares occasionally flowered again, and
not inappropriately, as churches of the martial St. George. Dionysus
lives once more in churches named “St. Dionysius,” though no longer
possessing any suspicion of a Bacchic flavor. Most striking of all is
the almost appalling number of hills and mountains in Greece named “St.
Elias,” and often bearing monasteries or churches of that designation.
There is hardly a site in all Greece from which it is not possible to
see at least one “St. Elias,” and I have been told that this is nothing
more nor less than the perpetuation of the ancient shrines of Helios
(the sun) under a Christian name, which, in the modern Greek
pronunciation, is of a sound almost exactly similar to the ancient one.
The substitution, therefore, when Christianity came to its own, was not
an unnatural, nor indeed an entirely inappropriate, one.

It all conspires to show that, while the modern Greek is sincerely and
devoutly a Christian, his transition into his new faith from the
religion of his remotest ancestors has been accompanied by a very
considerable retention of old usages and old nomenclature, and by the
persistence of ineradicable traces of the idealistic residuum that
remained after the more gross portions of the ancient mythology had
refined away and had left to the worshiper abstract godlike attributes,
rather than the gods and goddesses his forefathers had created in man’s
unworthy image. So, while nobody can call in question the Christianity
of the modern Greek, his churches nevertheless often do mingle a quaint
perfume of the ancient and classic days with the modern incense and odor
of sanctity. To my own mind, this obvious direct descent of many a
churchly custom or churchly name from the days of the mythical Olympian
theocracy is one of the most impressively interesting things about
modern Hellas and her people.

In a far less striking, but no less real way, we ourselves are of course
the direct inheritors of the classic Greeks, legatees of their store of
thought, literature, and culture, and followers on the path the Greeks
first pioneered. They and not we have been the creators in civilization,
with all its varied fields of activity from politics to art. Of our own
mental race the Greeks were the progenitors, and it is enough to
recognize this fact of intellectual descent and kinship in order to view
the Athenian Acropolis and the Hill of Mars with much the same thrill
that one to-day feels, let us say, in coming from Kansas or California
to look upon Plymouth Rock, the old state house at Philadelphia, or the
fields of Lexington and Concord.

All this by way of introduction to the thought that to visit Hellas is
by no means a step aside, but rather one further step back along the
highway traversed from east to west by the slow course of empire, and
therefore a step natural and proper to be taken by every one who is
interested in the history of civilized man, the better to understand the
present by viewing it in the light of the past. The “philhellene,” as
the Greeks call their friend of to-day, needs no apologist, and it is
notable that the number of such philhellenes is growing annually.

Time was, of course, when the visit to Greece meant so much labor,
hardship, and expense that it was made by few. To-day it is no longer
so. One may now visit the more interesting sites of the Greek peninsula
and even certain of the islands with perfect ease, at no greater cost in
money or effort than is entailed by any other Mediterranean journey, and
with the added satisfaction that one sees not only inspiring scenery,
but hills and vales peopled with a thousand ghostly memories running far
back of the dawn of history and losing themselves in pagan legend, in
the misty past when the fabled gods of high Olympus strove, intrigued,
loved, and ruled.

The natural result of a growing appreciation of the attractions of
Greece is an increase in travel thither, which in its turn has begotten
increasing excellence of accommodation at those points where visitors
most do congregate. Railroads have been extended, hotels have multiplied
and improved, steamers are more frequent and more comfortable. One need
no longer be deterred by any fear of hardship involved in such a
journey. Athens to-day offers hostelries of every grade, as does Rome.
The more famous towns likely to be visited can show very creditable inns
for the wayfarer, which are comfortable enough, especially to one inured
to the hill towns of Italy or Sicily. Railway coaches, while still much
below the standard of the corridor cars of the more western nations, are
comfortable enough for journeys of moderate length, and must inevitably
improve from year to year as the hotels have done already. As for safety
of person and property, that ceased to be a problem long ago. Brigandage
has been unknown in the Peloponnesus for many a long year. Drunkenness
is exceedingly rare, and begging is infinitely more uncommon than in
most Italian provinces and cities. Time is certain to remove the
objection of the comparative isolation of Greece still more than it has
done at this writing, no doubt. It is still true that Greece is, to all
intents and purposes, an island, despite its physical connection with
the mainland of Europe. The northern mountains, with the wild and
semi-barbaric inhabitants thereamong, serve to insulate the kingdom
effectually on the mainland side, just as the ocean insulates it on
every other hand, so that one is really more out of the world at Athens
than in Palermo. All arrival and departure is by sea; and even when
Athens shall be finally connected by rail with Constantinople and the
north, the bulk of communication between Greece and the western world
will still be chiefly maritime, and still subject, as now, to the delays
and inconveniences that must always beset an island kingdom. Daily
steamers, an ideal not yet attained, will be the one effective way to
shorten the distance between Hellas and Europe proper—not to mention

It may be added that one need not be deterred from a tour in Greece by a
lack of knowledge of the tongue, any more than one need allow an
unfamiliarity with Italian to debar him from the pleasures of Italy. The
essential and striking difference in the case is the distinctive form of
the Greek letters, which naturally tends to confuse the unaccustomed
visitor rather more than do Italian words, written in our own familiar
alphabet. Still, even one quite unfamiliar with the Hellenic text may
visit the country with comparatively little inconvenience from his
ignorance, if content to follow the frequented routes, since in these
days perfect English is spoken at all large hotels, and French at large
and small alike. Indeed, the prevalence of French among all classes is
likely to surprise one at first. The Greeks are excellent linguists, and
many a man or woman of humble station will be found to possess a fair
working knowledge of the Gallic tongue. It is entirely probable that in
a few more years the effect of the present strong tendency toward
emigration to America will reflect even more than it does now a general
knowledge of English among the poorer people. I have frequently met with
men in obscure inland towns who spoke English well, and once or twice
discovered that they learned it in my own city, which has drawn heavily
on the population of the Peloponnesus within recent years.

If the traveler is fortunate enough to have studied ancient Greek in his
school and college days, and—what is more rare—retains enough of it to
enable him to recognize a few of the once familiar words, he will
naturally find a considerable advantage therein. It is often stated that
Greek has changed less since Agamemnon’s time than English has altered
since the days of Chaucer; and while this generalization may not be
strictly true, it is very near the fact, so that it is still possible
for any student well versed in the ancient Greek to read a modern
Athenian newspaper with considerable ease. The pronunciation, however,
is vastly different from the systems taught in England and in America,
so that even a good classical student requires long practice to deliver
his Greek trippingly on the tongue in such wise that the modern Athenian
can understand it. Grammatically speaking, Greek is to-day vastly
simpler than it was in the days of Plato. It has been shorn of many of
those fine distinctions that were, and are, such terrors to the American
schoolboy. But the appearance of the letters and words, with their
breathings and accents, is quite unchanged, and many of the ancient
words are perfectly good in modern Greek with their old meanings
unimpaired. When one has mastered the modern pronunciation, even to a
very moderate degree, one is sure to find that the once despised “dead
language” is not a dead language at all, but one in daily use by a
nation of people who may claim with truth that they speak a speech as
old as Agamemnon and far more homogeneous in its descent than modern
Italian as it comes from the Latin.

It cannot be disguised, however, that it is very desirable at least to
know the Greek alphabet, even if one does not speak or read the
language, since this little knowledge will often serve to give one a
clue to the names of streets or railroad stations. Aside from that, the
few words the habitual traveler always picks up will serve as well in
Greece as anywhere. One should know, of course, the colloquial forms of
asking “how much?” and for saying “It is too dear.” These are the primal
necessities of European travel, always and everywhere. With these alone
as equipment, one may go almost anywhere on earth. In addition to these
rudimentary essentials, the ever-versatile Bædeker supplies, I believe,
phrases of a simple kind, devised for every possible contingency, remote
or otherwise, which might beset the traveler—omitting, curiously enough,
the highly useful expression for hot water, which the traveler will
speedily discover is “zestò nerò.” Among the conveniences, though not
essential, might be included a smattering of knowledge of the Greek
numerals to be used in bargaining with merchants and cab-drivers. But
since the Greek merchant, for reasons which will later appear, is never
without his pad and pencil, and since the written figures are the same
as our own, the custom is to conduct bargains with Europeans generally
by written symbols. The inevitable haggling over prices in the small
shops requires little more than the sign manual, plus a determination to
seem indifferent at all hazards. The Greek merchant, like every other,
regards the voyager from foreign parts as legitimate prey, and long
experience has led him to expect his price to be questioned. Hence
nothing would surprise a small dealer more than to be taken at his
initial figure, and the process of arriving at some middle ground
remotely resembling reasonableness is often a complicated but perfectly
good-humored affair.

The cab-drivers present rather more difficulty. They seldom speak French
and they carry no writing pads. The result is a frequent
misunderstanding as to both price and destination, while in the
settlement of all differences at the close of the “course” both cabby
and his fare are evidently at a mutual linguistic disadvantage. The
trouble over the destination is twofold, as a rule. Part of the time the
cabman is “green” and not well acquainted with the city; and part of the
time he is wholly unable to recognize, in the name pronounced to him,
any suggestion of a street he may know perfectly well when pronounced
with the proper accent. The element of accent is highly important in
speaking Greek; for unless the stress is properly laid, a word will
often elude entirely the comprehension of the native, although every
syllable be otherwise correctly sounded. The names of the Greek streets
are all in the genitive case, which makes the matter still worse. It is
of small avail to say “Hermes Street” to a driver. He must have the
Greek for “Street of Hermes” in order to get the idea clearly in mind.
It is not safe to generalize, but I incline to rate the Greeks as rather
slower than Italians at grasping a foreigner’s meaning, despite their
cleverness and quickness at acquiring other languages themselves.
However, this is getting considerably ahead of our narrative and in
danger of losing sight of the main point, which is that Greece is easy
enough to visit and enjoy, even if one is ignorant of the language. For
those who feel safer to know a trifle of it, there is ample time on the
steamer voyage toward the Grecian goal to acquire all that ordinary
necessities demand.

Let it be said, in passing from these general and preliminary remarks to
a more detailed discussion of Hellenic travel, that the modern Greek has
lost none of his ancient prototype’s reverence for the guest as a person
having the highest claims upon him and none of the ancient regard for
the sacred name of hospitality. Whatever may be said of the modern Greek
character, it cannot be called in question as lacking in cordiality and
kindness to the stranger. The most unselfish entertainer in the world is
the Greek, who conceives the idea that he may be able to add to your
happiness by his courtesy, and this is true in the country as well as in
the city. The native met on the highway has always a salutation for you.
If it is the season for harvesting grapes, you are welcome to taste and
see that they are good. He will welcome you to his house and set before
you the best it affords, the sweet “sumadha” or almond milk, the rich
preserved quince, the glass of pungent “mastika,” or perhaps a bit of
smoke-cured ham from the earthen jar which is kept for just such
occasions as this. If he sets out to entertain, nothing is done by
halves. The Greek bearing gifts need cause no fear to-day, unless it be
a fear of superabundant hospitality such as admits of no repayment. He
will drive a hard bargain with you in business, no doubt. Occasionally
an unscrupulous native will commit a petty theft, as in any other
country where only man is vile. But once appear to him in the guise of
friendship and he will prove himself the most obliging creature in the
world. He may not be as well aware of the general history of his remote
ancestors as you are yourself, but what he does know about his vicinity
he will relate to you with pride and explicitness. Curiously enough, the
Greek in ordinary station is likely to think you wish to see modern
rather than ancient things. He cannot understand why you go every
evening to the Acropolis and muse on the steps of the Parthenon while
you omit to visit the villas of Kephissià or Tatoïs. He would rather
show you a tawdry pseudo-Byzantine church than a ruined temple. But the
cordial spirit is there, and everybody who ever visited Greece has had
occasion to know it and admire it.

There remains necessary a word as to the choice of routes to Greece. As
in the case of Venice, one may enter by either the front or the back
door, so to speak; and probably, as in the case of Venice, more actually
elect to enter by the rear. The two gateways of Hellas are the Piræus at
the eastern front, and Patras at the back. Either may be selected as the
point for beginning a land journey in the kingdom, and each has certain
advantages. In any event the visitor should enter by one portal and
leave by the other, and the direction may safely be left to be decided
by the convenience and aims of each particular visitor’s case. Taking
Naples as the natural starting-point of American travelers, two routes
lie open. One is the railroad to Brindisi, traversing the mountainous
Italian interior to the Adriatic coast, where on stated days very
comfortable steamers ply between Brindisi and Patras, touching at Corfù.
The other route is from Naples to the Piræus by sea on either French or
Italian steamers, the latter lines being slower and enabling stops in
Sicily and in Crete. To those fortunately possessed of ample time and
willing to see something of Magna Graecia as well as of Greece proper,
the slower route is decidedly to be recommended.

For the purposes of this book let us choose to enter Greece by her
imposing main portal of the Piræus, setting at naught several
considerations which incline us to believe that, on the whole, the
advantage lies rather with the contrary choice. Whatever else may be
said in favor of either selection, it remains true that in any case one
immediately encounters mythology and legend in the shape of the wily
Ulysses, and is thus at once _en rapport_ with Grecian things. The
steamers from Naples must sail through the Strait of Messina, between
Scylla and Charybdis, once the terror of those mariners who had the
experiences of Homer’s wandering hero before their eyes; while not far
below Charybdis and just off the Sicilian shore they still show the
wondering traveler a number of small rocks, rising abruptly from the
ocean, as the very stones that Polyphemus hurled in his blind rage after
the fleeing Odysseus, but fortunately without doing him any harm. If, on
the contrary, we sail from Brindisi to Patras, we must pass Corfù, which
as all the world knows was the island on which Odysseus was cast from
his ship and where, after he had refreshed himself with sleep, he was
awakened by the laughter of Nausicaa and her maids as they played at
ball after the washing was done. Whichever way we go, we soon find that
we have run into a land older than those with which we have been
familiar, whose legends greet us even at this distance over miles of
tossing waves. Let those who are content to voyage with us through the
pages that follow, be content to reserve Corfù for the homeward journey,
and to assume that our prow is headed now toward Crete, through a
tossing sea such as led the ancients to exclaim, “The Cretan sea is
wide!” The shadowy mountains on the left are the lofty southern prongs
of the Grecian peninsula. Ahead, and not yet visible above the horizon,
is the sharp, razor-like edge of Crete, and the dawn should find us in
harbor at Canea.


                           CHAPTER II. CRETE


The island of Crete, lying like a long, narrow bar across the mouth of
the Ægean Sea, presents a mountainous and rugged appearance to one
approaching from any side. Possessing an extreme length of about one
hundred and sixty miles, it is nowhere more than thirty-five miles in
width, and in places much less than that. A lofty backbone of mountain
runs through it from end to end. In all its coast-line few decent
harbors are to be found, and that of the thriving city of Canea, near
the northwestern end of the island, is no exception. In ancient times
the fortifications and moles that were built to protect the ports had in
view the small sailing vessels of light draught which were then common,
and today it is necessary for steamers of any size to anchor in the
practically open roadsteads outside the harbor proper. Needless to say,
landing in small boats from a vessel stationed at this considerable
distance outside the breakwater is a matter largely dependent on the
wind and weather, not only at Canea, with which we are at present
concerned, but at Candia, of which we shall speak later. In a north
wind, such as frequently blows for days together, a landing on the
northern coast is often quite impossible, and steamers have been known
to lie for days off the island waiting a chance to approach and
discharge. This contretemps, however, is less to be feared at Canea
because of the proximity of the excellent though isolated Suda Bay,
which is landlocked and deep, affording quiet water in any weather, but
presenting the drawback that it is about four miles from the city of
Canea, devoid of docks and surrounded by flat marshes. Nevertheless,
steamers finding the weather too rough off the port do proceed thither
on occasion and transact their business there, though with some
difficulty. The resort to Suda, however, is seldom made save in
exceedingly rough weather, for the stout shore boats of the Cretans are
capable of braving very considerable waves and landing passengers and
freight before the city itself in a fairly stiff northwest gale, as our
own experience in several Cretan landings has proven abundantly. It is
not a trip to be recommended to the timorous, however, when the sea is
high; for although it is probably not as dangerous as it looks, the row
across the open water between steamer and harbor is certainly rather
terrifying in appearance, as the boats rise and fall, now in sight of
each other on the crest of the waves, now disappearing for what seem
interminable intervals in the valleys of water between what look like
mountains of wave tossing angrily on all sides. The boatmen are skillful
and comparatively few seas are shipped, but even so it is a passage
likely to be dampening to the ardor in more ways than one. On a calm
day, when the wind is light or offshore, there is naturally no trouble,
and the boatmen have never seemed to me rapacious or insolent, but quite
ready to abide by the very reasonable tariff charge for the round trip.
In bad weather, as is not unnatural, it often happens that the men
request a gratuity over and above the established franc-and-a-half rate,
on the plea that the trip has been "molto cattivo" and the labor
consequently out of all proportion to the tariff charge—which is true.
It is no light task for three or four stout natives to row a heavy boat
containing eight people over such a sea as often is to be found running
off Canea, fighting for every foot of advance, and easing off now and
then to put the boat head up to an unusually menacing comber.


The landing at Canea, if the weather permits landing at all, is on a
long curving stone quay, lined with picturesque buildings, including a
mosque with its minaret, the latter testifying to the considerable
residuum of Turkish and Mohammedan population that remains in this
polyglot island, despite its present Greek rule under the oversight of
the Christian powers of Europe. The houses along the quay are mostly a
grayish white, with the light green shutters one learns to associate
with similar towns everywhere in the Ægean. Behind the town at no very
great distance may be seen rising lofty and forbidding mountains,
snowcapped down to early May; but a brief ride out from the city to Suda
Bay will serve to reveal some fertile and open valleys such as save
Crete from being a barren and utterly uninviting land. The ordinary stop
of an Italian steamer at this port is something like six or eight hours,
which is amply sufficient to give a very good idea of Canea and its
immediate neighborhood. The time is enough for a walk through the
tortuous and narrow highways and byways of the city—walks in which one
is attended by a crowd of small boys from the start, and indeed by large
boys as well, all most persistently offering their most unnecessary
guidance in the hope of receiving “backsheesh,” which truly Oriental
word is to be heard at every turn, and affords one more enduring local
monument to the former rule of the unspeakable Turk. These lads
apparently speak a smattering of every known language, and are as quick
and alert as the New York or Naples gamin. Incidentally, I wonder if
every other visitor to Canea is afflicted with "Mustapha"? On our last
landing there we were told, as we went over the side of the steamer to
brave the tempestuous journey ashore in the boat which bobbed below, to
be sure to look for “Mustapha.” The captain always recommended Mustapha,
he said, and no Americano that ever enlisted the services of Mustapha as
guide, philosopher, and friend for four Canean hours had ever regretted
it. So we began diligent inquiry of the boatman if he knew this
Mustapha. Yes, he did—and who better? Was he not Mustapha himself, in
his own proper person? Inwardly congratulating ourselves at finding the
indispensable with such remarkable promptitude, we soon gained the
harbor, and the subsequent landing at the quay was assisted in by at
least forty hardy Caneans, including one bullet-headed Nubian, seven
shades darker than a particularly black ace of clubs, who exhibited a
mouthful of ivory and proclaimed himself, unsolicited, as the true and
only Mustapha,—a declaration that caused an instant and spontaneous howl
of derision from sundry other bystanders, who promptly filed their
claims to that Oriental name and all the excellences that it implied.
Apparently Mustapha’s other name was Legion. Search for him was
abandoned on the spot, and I would advise any subsequent traveler to do
the same. Search is quite unnecessary. Wherever two or three Caneans are
gathered together, there is Mustapha in the midst of them,—and perhaps
two or three of him.

It is by no means easy to get rid of the Canean urchins who follow you
away from the landing-place and into the quaint and narrow streets of
the town. By deploying your landing party, which is generally
sufficiently numerous for the purpose, in blocks of three or four, the
convoy of youth may be split into detachments and destroyed in detail.
It may be an inexpensive and rather entertaining luxury to permit the
brightest lad of the lot to go along, although, as has been intimated,
guidance is about the last thing needed in Canea. The streets are very
narrow, very crooked, and not over clean, and are lined with houses
having those projecting basketwork windows overhead, such as are common
enough in every Turkish or semi-Turkish city. Many of the women go
heavily veiled, sometimes showing the upper face and sometimes not even
that, giving an additional Oriental touch to the street scenes. This
veiling is in part a survival of Turkish usages, and in part is due to
the dust and glare. It is a practice to be met with in many other Ægean
islands as well as in Crete. It is this perpetual recurrence of
Mohammedan touches that prevents Canea from seeming typically Greek,
despite its nominal allegiance. To all outward seeming it is Turkish
still, and mosques and minarets rise above its roofs in more than one
spot as one surveys it from the harbor or from the hills. The streets
with their narrow alleys and overshadowing archways are tempting indeed
to the camera, and it may as well be said once and for all that it is a
grave mistake to visit Greece and the adjacent lands without that
harmless instrument of retrospective pleasure.

As for sights, Canea must be confessed to offer none that are of the
traditional kind, “double-starred in Bædeker.” There is no museum there,
and no ruins. The hills are too far away to permit an ascent for a view.
The palace of the Greek royal commissioner, Prince George, offers slight
attraction to the visitor compared with the scenes of the streets and
squares in the town itself, the coffee-houses, and above all the curious
shops. Canea is no mean place for the curio hunter with an eye to
handsome, though barbaric, blankets, saddle-bags, and the like. The
bizarre effect of the scene is increased by the manifold racial
characteristics of face, figure, and dress that one may observe there;
men and women quaintly garbed in the peasant dress of half a dozen
different nations. In a corner, sheltered from the heat or from the
wind, as the case may be, sit knots of weazen old men, cloaks wrapped
about their shoulders, either drinking their muddy coffee or plying some
trifling trade while they gossip,—doubtless about the changed times.
From a neighboring coffeehouse there will be heard to trickle a wild and
barbaric melody tortured out of a long-suffering fiddle that cannot, by
any stretch of euphemism, be called a violin; or men may be seen dancing
in a sedate and solemn circle, arms spread on each other’s shoulders in
the Greek fashion, to the minor cadences of the plaintive “bouzouki,” or
Greek guitar. There are shops of every kind, retailing chiefly queer
woolen bags, or shoes of soft, white skins, or sweetmeats of the Greek
and Turkish fashion. Here it is possible for the first time to become
acquainted with the celebrated “loukoumi” of Syra, a soft paste made of
gums, rosewater, and flavoring extracts, with an addition of chopped
nuts, each block of the candy rolled in soft sugar. It is much esteemed
by the Greeks, who are notorious lovers of sweetmeats, and it is
imitated and grossly libeled in America under the alias of “Turkish

From Canea a very good road leads out over a gently rolling country to
Suda Bay. Little is to be seen there, however, save a very lovely
prospect of hill and vale, and a few warships of various nations lying
at anchor, representing the four or five jealous powers who maintain a
constant watch over the destinies of this troublous isle. The
cosmopolitan character of these naval visitants is abundantly testified
to by the signs that one may see along the highroad near Suda, ringing
all possible linguistic changes on legends that indicate facilities for
the entertainment of Jack ashore, and capable of being summed up in the
single phrase, “Army and Navy Bar.” The Greeks were ever a hospitable

The road to Suda, however, is far from being lined by nothing more
lovely than these decrepit wine shops for the audacious tar. The three
or four miles of its length lie through fertile fields devoted to olive
orchards and to the cultivation of grain, and one would look far for a
more picturesque sight than the Cretan farmer driving his jocund team
afield—a team of large oxen attached to a primitive plow—or wielding his
cumbersome hoe in turning up the sod under his own vine and olive trees.
It is a pleasing and pastoral spectacle. The ride out to Suda is easily
made while the steamer waits, in a very comfortable carriage procurable
in the public square for a moderate sum. It may be as well to remark,
however, that carriages in Greece are not, as a rule, anywhere nearly as
cheap as in Italy.

It is a long jump from Canea to Candia, the second city of the island,
situated many miles farther to the east along this northern shore. But
it easily surpasses Canea in classic interest, being the site of the
traditional ruler of Crete in the most ancient times,—King Minos,—of
whom we shall have much to say. Candia, as we shall call it, although
its local name is Megalokastron, is not touched by any of the steamers
en route from the west to Athens, but must be visited in connection with
a cruise among the islands of the Ægean. From the sea it resembles Canea
in nature as well as in name. It shows the same harbor fortifications of
Venetian build, and bears the same lion of St. Mark. It possesses the
same lack of harborage for vessels other than small sailing craft. Its
water front is lined with white houses with green blinds, and slender
white minarets stand loftily above the roofs. Its streets and squares
are much like Canea’s, too, although they are rather broader and more
modern in appearance; while the crowds of people in the streets present
a similar array of racial types to that already referred to in
describing the former city. More handsome men are to be seen, splendid
specimens of humanity clad in the blue baggy trousers and jackets of
Turkish cut, and wearing the fez. Candia is well walled by a very thick
and lofty fortification erected in Venetian times, and lies at the
opening of a broad valley stretching across the island to the south, and
by its topography and central situation was the natural theatre of
activity in the distant period with which we are about to make our first
acquaintance. Even without leaving the city one may get some idea of the
vast antiquity of some of its relics by a visit to the museum located in
an old Venetian palace in the heart of the town, where are to be seen
the finds of various excavators who have labored in the island. Most of
these belong to a very remote past, antedating vastly the Mycenæan
period, which used to seem so old, with its traditions of Agamemnon and
the sack of Troy. Here we encounter relics of monarchs who lived before
Troy was made famous, and the English excavator, Evans, who has exhumed
the palace of Minos not far outside the city gates, has classified the
articles displayed as of the “Minoan” period. It would be idle in this
place to attempt any detailed explanation of the subdivisions of
“early,” “middle,” and “late Minoan” which have been appended to the
manifold relics to be seen in the museum collection, or to give any
detailed description of them. It must suffice to say that the period
represented is so early that any attempt to affix dates must be
conjectural, and that we may safely take it in general terms as a period
so far preceding the dawn of recorded history that it was largely
legendary even in the time of the classic Greeks, who already regarded
Minos himself as a demi-god and sort of immortal judge in the realm of
the shades. The museum, with its hundreds of quaint old vases, rudely
ornamented in geometric patterns, its fantastic and faded mural
paintings, its sarcophagi, its implements of toil, and all the manifold
testimony to a civilization so remote that it is overwhelming to the
mind, will serve to hold the visitor long. Nor is it to be forgotten
that among these relics from Cnossos, Phæstos, and Gortyn, are many
contributed by the industry and energy of the American investigator,
Mrs. Hawes (_née_ Boyd), whose work in Crete has been of great value and
archæological interest.

Having whetted one’s appetite for the remotely antique by browsing
through this collection of treasures, one is ready enough to make the
journey out to Cnossos, the site of the ancient palace, only four miles
away. There is a good road, and it is possible to walk if desired,
although it is about as hot and uninteresting a walk as can well be
imagined. It is easier and better to ride, although the Cretan drivers
in general, and the Candian ones in particular, enjoy the reputation of
being about the most rapacious in the civilized world. On the way out to
the palace at Cnossos, the road winds through a rolling country, and
crosses repeatedly an old paved Turkish road, which must have been much
less agreeable than the present one to traverse. On the right, far away
to the southwest, rises the peak which is supposed to be the birthplace
of Zeus, the slopes of Mt. Ida. Crete is the land most sacred to Zeus of
all the lands of the ancient world. Here his mother bore him, having
fled thither to escape the wrath of her husband, the god Cronos, who had
formed the unbecoming habit of swallowing his progeny as soon as they
were born. Having been duly delivered of the child Zeus, his mother,
Rhæa, wrapped up a stone in some cloth and presented it to Cronos, who
swallowed it, persuaded that he had once more ridded the world of the
son it was predicted should oust him from his godlike dignities and
power. But Rhæa concealed the real Zeus in a cave on Ida, and when he
came to maturity he made war on Cronos and deprived him of his dominion.
Hence Zeus, whose worship in Crete soon spread to other islands and
mainland, was held in highest esteem in the isle of his birth, and his
cult had for its symbol the double-headed axe, which we find on so many
of the relics of the Candia museum and on the walls of the ancient
palaces, like that we are on the way to visit at Cnossos.

It is necessary to remark that there were two characters named Minos in
the ancient mythology. The original of the name was the child of Zeus
and Europa, and he ruled over Crete, where Saturn is supposed to have
governed before him, proving a wise law-giver for the people. The other
Minos was a grandson of the first, child of Lycastos and Ida. This Minos
later grew up and married Pasiphaë, whose unnatural passion begot the
Minotaur, or savage bull with the body of a man and an appetite for
human flesh. To house this monster Minos was compelled to build the
celebrated labyrinth, and he fed the bull with condemned criminals, who
were sent into the mazes of the labyrinth never to return. Still later,
taking offense at the Athenians because in their Panathenaic games they
had killed his own son, Minos sent an expedition against them, defeated
them, and thereafter levied an annual tribute of seven boys and seven
girls upon the inhabitants, who were taken to Crete and fed to the
Minotaur. This cruel exaction continued until Theseus came to Crete and,
with the aid of the thread furnished him by Ariadne, tracked his way
into the labyrinth, slaughtered the monster and returned alive to the
light of day. Of course such a network of myths, if it does nothing
else, argues the great antiquity of the Minoan period, to which the
ruins around Candia are supposed to belong, and they naturally lead us
to an inquiry whether any labyrinth was ever found or supposed to be
found in the vicinity. I believe there actually is an extensive
artificial cave in the mountains south of Cnossos, doubtless an ancient
subterranean quarry, which is called “the labyrinth” to-day, though it
doubtless never sheltered the Minotaur. It is sufficiently large to have
served once as the abode of several hundred persons during times of
revolution, they living there in comparative comfort save for the lack
of light; and it is interesting to know that they employed Ariadne’s
device of the thread to keep them in touch with the passage out of their
self-imposed prison when the political atmosphere cleared and it was
safe to venture forth into the light of day. It seems rather more
probable that the myth or legend of the labyrinth of Minos had its
origin in the labyrinthine character of the king’s own palace, as it is
now shown to have been a perfect maze of corridors and rooms, through
which it is possible to wander at will, since the excavators have laid
them open after the lapse of many centuries. A glance at the plans of
the Cnossos palace in the guide-books, or a survey of them from the top
of Mr. Evans’s rather garish and incongruous but highly useful tower on
the spot, will serve to show a network of passageways and apartments
that might easily have given rise to the tale of the impenetrable
man-trap which Theseus alone had the wit to evade.

The ruins lie at the east of the high road, in a deep valley. Their
excavation has been very complete and satisfactory, and while some
restorations have been attempted here and there, chiefly because of
absolute necessity to preserve portions of the structure, they are not
such restorations as to jar on one, but exhibit a fidelity to tradition
that saves them from the common fate of such efforts. Little or no
retouching was necessary in the case of the stupendous flights of steps
that were found leading up to the door of this prehistoric royal
residence, and which are the first of the many sights the visitor of
to-day may see. It is in the so-called “throne room of Minos” that the
restoring hand is first met. Here it has been found necessary to provide
a roof, that damage by weather be avoided; and to-day the throne room is
a dusky spot, rather below the general level of the place. Its chief
treasure is the throne itself, a stone chair, carved in rather
rudimentary ornamentation, and about the size of an ordinary chair. The
roof is supported by the curious, top-heavy-looking stone pillars, that
are known to have prevailed not only in the Minoan but in the Mycenæan
period; monoliths noticeably larger at the top than at the bottom,
reversing the usual form of stone pillar with which later ages have made
us more familiar. This quite illogical inversion of what we now regard
as the proper form has been accounted for in theory, by assuming that it
was the natural successor of the sharpened wooden stake. When the
ancients adopted stone supports for their roofs, they simply took over
the forms they had been familiar with in the former use of wood, and the
result was a stone pillar that copied the earlier wooden one in shape.
Time, of course, served to show that the natural way of building
demanded the reversal of this custom; but in the Mycenæan age it had not
been discovered, for there are evidences that similar pillars existed in
buildings of that period, and the representation of a pillar that stands
between the two lions on Mycenæ’s famous gate has this inverted form.


Many hours may be spent in detailed examination of this colossal ruin,
testifying to what must have been in its day an enormous and impressive
palace. One cannot go far in traversing it without noticing the traces
still evident enough of the fire that obviously destroyed it many
hundred, if not several thousand, years before Christ. Along the western
side have been discovered long corridors, from which scores of long and
narrow rooms were to be entered. These, in the published plans, serve to
give to the ruin a large share of its labyrinthine character. It seems
to be agreed now that these were the store-rooms of the palace, and in
them may still be seen the huge earthen jars which once served to
contain the palace supplies. Long rows of them stand in the ancient
hallways and in the narrow cells that lead off them, each jar large
enough to hold a fair-sized man, and in number sufficient to have
accommodated Ali Baba and the immortal forty thieves. In the centre of
the palace little remains; but in the southeastern corner, where the
land begins to slope abruptly to the valley below, there are to be seen
several stories of the ancient building. Here one comes upon the rooms
marked with the so-called “distaff” pattern, supposed to indicate that
they were the women’s quarters. The restorer has been busy here, but not
offensively so. Much of the ancient wall is intact, and in one place is
a bath-room with a very diminutive bath-tub still in place. Along the
eastern side is also shown the oil press, where olives were once made to
yield their coveted juices, and from the press proper a stone gutter
conducted the fluid down to the point where jars were placed to receive
it. This discovery of oil presses in ancient buildings, by the way, has
served in more than one case to arouse speculation as to the antiquity
of oil lamps, such as were once supposed to belong only to a much later
epoch. Whether in the Minoan days they had such lamps or not, it is
known that they had at least an oil press and a good one. In the side of
the hill below the main palace of Minos has been unearthed a smaller
structure, which they now call the “villa,” and in which several
terraces have been uncovered rather similar to the larger building
above. Here is another throne room, cunningly contrived to be lighted by
a long shaft of light from above falling on the seat of justice itself,
while the rest of the room is in obscurity.

It may be that it requires a stretch of the imagination to compare the
palace of Cnossos with Troy, but nevertheless there are one or two
features that seem not unlike the discoveries made by Dr. Schliemann on
that famous site. Notably so, it seems to me, are the traces of the
final fire, which are to be seen at Cnossos as at Troy, and the huge
jars, which maybe compared with the receptacles the Trojan excavators
unearthed, and found still to contain dried peas and other things that
the Trojans left behind when they fled from their sacked and burning
city. Few are privileged to visit the site of Priam’s city, which is
hard indeed to reach; but it is easy enough to make the excursion to
Candia and visit the palace of old King Minos, which is amply worth the
trouble, besides giving a glimpse of a civilization that is possibly
vastly older than even that of Troy and Mycenæ. For those who reverence
the great antiquities, Candia and its pre-classic suburb are distinctly
worth visiting, and are unique among the sights of the ancient Hellenic
and pre-Hellenic world.



                       CHAPTER III. THE ENTRANCE
                               TO GREECE


Leaving Crete behind, the steamer turns her prow northward into the
Ægean toward Greece proper, and in the early morning, if all goes
smoothly, will be found well inside the promontory of Sunium,
approaching the Piræus. One ought most infallibly to be early on deck,
for the rugged, rocky shores of the Peloponnesus are close at hand on
the left, indented here and there by deep inlets or gulfs, and looking
as most travelers seem to think “Greece ought to look.” If it is clear,
a few islands may be seen on the right, though none of the celebrated
ones are near enough to be seen with any satisfaction. Sunium itself is
so far away to the eastward that it is impossible at this distance to
obtain any idea of the ancient ruin that still crowns its summit.

Although to enter Greece by way of the Piræus is actually to enter the
front door of the kingdom, nevertheless, as has been hinted heretofore,
one may vote on the whole that it is better to make this the point of
departure instead of that of initiation. Leaving Greece as most of us do
with a poignant sense of regret, it is not unfitting that we depart with
the benediction of the old Acropolis of Athens, crowned with its famous
ruins, which are to be seen even when far at sea, glowing in the
afternoon sun, and furnishing an ideal last view of this land of golden
memories. Simply because it makes such an ideal last view, leaving the
crowning “glory that was Greece” last in the mind’s eye, one may well
regard this point as the best one for leaving, whatever may be said for
it as a place of beginning an acquaintance with Hellas. It must be
confessed that to one approaching for the first time, save in the
clearest weather, the view of the Acropolis from the sea is likely to be
somewhat disappointing, because the locating of it in the landscape is
not an easy matter. Under a cloudy sky—and there are occasionally such
skies even in sunny Greece—it is not at all easy to pick out the
Acropolis, lying low in the foreground and flanked by such superior
heights as Lycabettus and Pentelicus. Hence it is that the voyager,
returning home from a stay in Athens, enjoys the seaward view of the
receding site far more than the approaching newcomer; and it must be
added that, however one may reverence the Acropolis from his reading, it
can never mean so much to him as it will after a few days of personal
acquaintance, when he has learned to know its every stone. What slight
disappointment one may feel on first beholding the ancient rock of
Athena from the ocean, is, after all, only momentary and due solely to
the distance. It is certain to be removed later when closer acquaintance
shows it to be the stupendous rock it really is, standing alone, and
seen to better advantage than when the hills that wall the Attic plain
overshadow it in the perspective.

As the steamer approaches, the loftier heights of Hymettus, Pentelicus,
Parnes, Ægina, and Salamis intrude themselves and will not be denied,
framing between them the valley in which Athens lies, obscured for the
time being by the tall chimneys and the forest of masts that herald the
presence of the Piræus in the immediate foreground. That city is as of
yore the seaport of Athens, and is a thriving city in itself, although
from its proximity to the famous capital it loses individual prestige,
and seems rather like a dependence of the main city than a separate and
important town, rivaling Athens herself in size, if not in history.

Perhaps the most trying experience to the newcomer is this landing at
the Piræus and the labor involved in getting ashore and up to Athens;
but, after all, it is trying only in the sense that it is a matter for
much bargaining, in which the unfamiliar visitor is at an obvious
disadvantage. As in all Greek ports, the landing is to be accomplished
only by small boats, which are manned by watermen having no connection
at all with the steamship companies. It would seem to be the reasonable
duty of a steamer line to provide facilities for setting its passengers
ashore, and in time this may be done; but it is an unfortunate fact that
it is not done now, and the passenger is left to bargain for himself
with the crowd of small craft that surrounds the vessel as she is slowly
and painfully berthed. The harbor itself is seen to be a very excellent
and sheltered one, protected by two long breakwaters, which admit of
hardly more than a single large vessel at a time between their narrow
jaws. Within, it opens out into a broad expanse of smooth water, lined
throughout its periphery by a low stone quay. While the steamer is being
warped to her position, always with the stern toward the shore, a fleet
of small boats, most of them flying the flags of hotels in Athens or of
the several tourist agencies, eagerly swarm around and await the
lowering of the landing stairs, meantime gesticulating violently to
attract the attention of passengers on deck. Little that is definite,
however, can be done until the gangway is lowered and the boatmen’s
representatives have swarmed on the deck itself. There is time and to
spare, so that the voyager has no occasion to hurry, but may possess his
soul in patience and seek to make the most advantageous terms possible
with the lowest bidder. The boatmen, be well assured, know English
enough to negotiate the bargain.

Despite the apparent competition, which ought by all the laws of
economics to be the life of trade, it will doubtless be found quite
impossible to make any arrangement for landing and getting up to the
city for a sum much under twelve francs. That is the published tariff of
the hotels which send out boats, and if one is certain of his
stopping-place in Athens he will doubtless do well to close immediately
with the boatman displaying the insignia of that particular hostelry.
But it is entirely probable that any regular habitué would say that the
hotel tariff is grossly out of proportion to the actual cost, since the
boatman’s fee should be not more than a franc and the ride to Athens not
more than six. As for the tourist agencies, they may be depended upon to
ask more than the hotel runners do, and the only limit is the visitor’s
credulity and ignorance of the place. Whatever bargain is made, the
incoming passenger will, if wise, see to it that it is understood to
cover everything, including the supposititious “landing tax” that is so
often foisted upon the customer after landing in Athens as an “extra.”
These are doubtless sordid details, but necessary ones, and matters
which it may prove profitable to understand before venturing in. Having
dismissed them as such, we may turn with more enjoyment to the prospect
now presenting itself.

Piræus, as all the world knows, is the port of Athens now as in classic
times. Topographically it has three good harbors, the Piræus proper,
Zea, and Munychia—the latter name also applying to the rocky promontory
which juts out and separates the harbor from the Saronic Gulf. It was on
the Munychia peninsula that Themistocles in 493 B.C. erected a town, and
it was Themistocles, also, who conceived and carried out the scheme for
the celebrated “long walls” which ran from the port up to Athens, and
made the city practically impregnable by making it quite independent of
the rest of Attica, so long as the Athenian supremacy by sea remained
unquestioned. Thus it came to pass that, during the Peloponnesian War,
when all the rest of the Attic plain had fallen into the hands of the
Lacedæmonians, Athens herself remained practically undisturbed, thanks
not only to the long walls and ships, but also to the fortifications of
Cimon and Pericles. The Athenian navy, however, was finally overwhelmed
in the battle of Ægospotamoi in 404 B.C., and the port fell a prey to
the enemy, who demolished the long walls, to the music of the flute.

Ten years later, when Athens had somewhat recovered from the first
defeat, Conon rebuilt the walls, and Athens, with Piræus, for a space
enjoyed a return of her ancient greatness and prosperity. The Roman
under Sulla came in 86 B.C., and practically put an end to the famous
capital, which became an inconsiderable village, and so remained down to
the Grecian risorgimento. The present city of Piræus, and the city of
Athens also, practically date from 1836, though the old names had been
revived the year previous. Up to that time the spot had for years passed
under the unclassic name of Porto Leone.

Inasmuch as the fame of Athens and her empire rested on the navy as its
foundation, and inasmuch as the navy made its home in the waters of the
Piræus and Munychia, the locality has its glorious memories to share
with the still more glorious traditions of the neighboring Salamis,
where the Persians of Xerxes were put to such utter rout. It was from
this harbor that the splendid, but ill-fated, Sicilian expedition set
out, with flags flying, pæans sounding, and libations pouring. And it
was to the Piræus that a lone survivor of that sorry campaign returned
to relate the incredible news to the village barber.

The harbor of the Piræus is generally full of shipping of all sorts,
including steamers of every size and nationality, as well as high-sided
schooners that recall the Homeric epithet of the “hollow ships.” Some
are en route to or from Constantinople, Alexandria, Naples, the ports of
the Adriatic, the Orient,—everywhere. The Greek coastwise vessels often
bear their names printed in large white letters amidships, familiar
names looking decidedly odd in the Greek characters. All are busily
loading or discharging, for the Piræus is, as ever, a busy port. Under
the sterns of several such ships the shore boat passes, its occupants
ducking repeatedly under the sagging stern cables, until in a brief time
all are set ashore at the custom-house. That institution, however, need
give the visitor little apprehension. The examination of reasonable
luggage is seldom or never oppressive or fraught with inconvenience,
doubtless because the visitor is duly recognized by the government as a
being whose presence is bound to be of profit, and who should not,
therefore, be wantonly discouraged at the very threshold of the kingdom.
Little is insisted on save a declaration that the baggage contains no
tobacco or cigarettes. The porters as a rule are more tolerant of copper
tips than the present rapidly spoiling race of Italian _facchini_.

The sensible way to proceed to Athens is by carriage, taking the
Phalerum road. The electric tram, which is a very commodious third-rail
system resembling the subway trains of Boston or New York, is all very
well if one is free from impedimenta. But for the ordinary voyager, with
several valises or trunks, the carriage is not only best but probably
the most economical in the end. The carriages are comfortable, and
capable of carrying four persons with reasonable baggage.

Little of interest will be found in driving out of the Piræus, which is
a frankly commercial place, devoid of architectural or enduring
classical recommendations. The long walls that once connected the port
with Athens have disappeared almost beyond recall, although the sites
are known. Nor is the beach of New Phalerum (pronounced Fál-eron) much
more attractive than the Piræus itself. It reminds one strongly of
suburban beach places at home, lined as it is with cheap cottages,
coffee-houses, restaurants, bicycle shops, and here and there a more
pretentious residence, while at least one big and garish hotel is to be
seen. The sea, varying from a light green to a deep Mediterranean blue,
laps gently along the side of the highway toward the open ocean, while
ahead, up the straight boulevard, appears the Acropolis of Athens, now
seen for the first time in its proper light as one of the most
magnificent ruins of the earth. The road thither is good but
uncomfortably new. When its long lines of pepper trees, now in their
infancy, shall have attained their growth, it will be a highway lined
with shade and affording a prospect of much beauty. In its present
state, however, which is destined to endure for some years to come, it
is a long, straight, and rather dreary boulevard, relieved only by the
glorious prospect of the crowning ruin of Athens something like four
miles away, but towering alone and grand, and no longer dwarfed by the
surrounding gray hills. Still this route seems to me infinitely better,
even to-day, than the older road from Piræus, which approaches Athens
from the western side without going near the sea, but which is not
without its charms, nevertheless, and certainly does give the one who
takes it a splendid view of the imposing western front of the Acropolis
and its array of temples, across a plain green with waving grasses.

Approaching the city from the Phalerum side serves to give a very
striking impression of the inaccessibility of the Acropolis, showing its
precipitous southern face, crowned by the ruined Parthenon, whose
ancient pillars, weathered to a golden brown, stand gleaming in the sun
against the deep and brilliant blue of the Greek sky. Those who have
pictured the temple as glistening white will be vastly surprised, no
doubt, on seeing its actual color; for the iron and other metals present
in the Pentelic marble, of which it was built, have removed almost
entirely the white or creamy tints, and have given in their place a rich
mottled appearance, due to the ripe old age of this shrine.

Aside from the ever present prospect of the Acropolis and its promise of
interest in store, the road to Athens is devoid of much to attract
attention. The long, gray ridge of Hymettus, which runs along just east
of the road, of course is a famous mountain by reason of its well-known
brand of honey, if for no other reason. Halfway up the gradual incline
to the city there is a small and rather unattractive church, said to be
a votive offering made by the king in thankfulness at escaping the
bullets of two would-be assassins at this point. On the left, and still
far ahead, rises the hill, crowned by the ruined but still conspicuous
monument of Philopappus. Situated on a commanding eminence south of the
Acropolis, this monument is a dominant feature of almost every view of
Athens; but it is entirely out of proportion to the importance of the
man whose vague memory it recalls.

Passing the eastern and most lofty end of the Acropolis, the carriage at
last turns into the outskirts of the city proper and traverses a broad
and pleasant avenue, its wide sidewalks shaded by graceful and luxuriant
pepper trees, while the prosperous looking houses give an attractive
first impression of residential Athens. The modern is curiously
intermingled with the ancient; for on the right, in the fields which
border the highway, are to be seen the few remaining colossal columns of
the rather florid temple of Olympian Zeus and the fragmentary arch of
Hadrian, the Roman emperor in whose reign that temple was at last
completed. It is peculiarly fitting to enter Athens between these ruins
on the one hand and the Acropolis on the other, for they are so
characteristic of the great chief attraction of the place,—its immortal

The city proper now opens out before, and as the carriage enters the
great principal square of Athens, the “Syntagma,” or Place de la
Constitution, handsome streets may be seen radiating from it in all
directions, giving a general impression of cleanly whiteness, while the
square itself, spreading a wide open space before the huge and rather
barnlike royal palace, is filled with humanity passing to and fro, or
seated at small tables in the open air, partaking of the coffee so dear
to the heart of the Greek; and carriages dash here and there, warning
pedestrians only by the driver’s repeated growl of “empros, empros!”
(εμπρός), which is exactly equivalent to the golf-player’s “fore!” And
here in the crowded square we may leave the traveler for the present,
doubtless not far from his hotel,—for hotels are all about,—with only
the parting word of advice that he shall early seek repose, in the
certitude that there will be some little noise. For the Athenians are
almost as noisy and nocturnal creatures as the Palermitans or
Neapolitans, and the nights will be filled with music and many other
sounds of revelry. To be sure, there are no paved streets and no
clanging trolley cars; but the passing throngs will make up for any lack
in that regard, even until a late hour of the night.


                        CHAPTER IV. ATHENS; THE
                              MODERN CITY


Athens lies in a long and narrow plain between two rocky mountain ridges
that run down from the north. The plain to-day is neither interesting
nor particularly fertile, although it is still tilled with some success.
Once when it was better watered by the Cephissus and Ilissus rivers,
whose courses are still visible though in the main dry and rocky, it was
doubtless better able to support the local population; but to-day it is
rather a bare and unattractive intervale between mountains quite as
bare—gray, rocky heights, covered with little vegetation save the sparse
gorse and thyme. At that point in the plain where a lofty, isolated, and
nearly oblong rock, with precipitous sides, invited the foundation of a
citadel, Athens sprang into being. And there she stands to-day, having
pivoted around the hoary Acropolis crag for centuries, first south, then
west, then north, until the latter has become the final abiding place of
the modern town, while the older sites to the southward and westward lie
almost deserted save for the activities of the archæologists and
students, who have found them rich and interesting ground for
exploration. Always, however, the Acropolis was the fulcrum or focus,
and it was on this unique rock that Poseidon and Athena waged their
immortal contest for the possession of the Attic plain. Tradition says
that Poseidon smote with his trident and a salt spring gushed forth from
the cleft rock, thus proving his power; but that the judgment of the
gods was in favor of Athena, who made to spring up from the ground an
olive tree. Wherefore the land was allotted to her, and from her the
city took its name. Under the northern side of the towering rock and
around to the east of it runs the thriving city of to-day, thence
spreading off for perhaps two miles to the northward along the plain,
first closely congested, then widening into more open modernized
streets, and finally dwindling into scattered suburbs out in the

The growth of Athens has left its marks of progress in well-defined
strata. The narrow, squalid, slummy streets of the quarter nearest the
Acropolis belong to the older or Turkish period of the city’s renascent
life. Beyond these one meets newer and broader highways, lined in many
cases with neat modern shops, called into life by the city’s remarkable
growth of the past two decades, which have raised Athens from the rank
of a dirty village to a clean and attractive metropolis—in the better
sense of that much abused word. Still farther away are seen the natural
products of the overflow of a thriving modern town—suburbs clustering
around isolated mills or wine-presses. The present population is not far
from a hundred thousand persons, so that Athens to-day is not an
inconsiderable place. The population is chiefly the native Greek,
modified no doubt by long submission to Turkish rule and mingled with a
good deal of Turkish blood, but still preserving the language, names,
and traditions that bespeak a glorious past. Despite the persistence of
such names as Aristeides, Miltiades, Themistocles, Socrates, and the
like among the modern Athenians, it would no doubt be rashly
unreasonable to expect to find in a population that was to all intents
and purposes so long enslaved by Turkey very much that savors of the
traditional Greek character as it stood in the days of Pericles. But
there have not been wanting eminent scholars, who have insisted that our
exalted ideas of the ancient Greeks are really derived from a
comparatively few exceptional and shining examples, and that the ancient
population may have resembled the present citizens more than we are
prone to think, in traits and general ability.

On his native heath the modern Greek openly charges his own race with a
lack of industry and love of idling too much in the coffee-houses,
although it is an indictment which has never struck me as just, and one
which, if coming from a foreigner, would doubtless be resented. It is
true that the coffeehouses are seldom deserted, and the possession of an
extra drachma or two is generally enough to tempt one to abandon his
employ for the seclusion that the _kaffeneion_ grants, there to sip
slowly until the cups of syrupy coffee which the money will buy are
gone. Nevertheless, one should be slow to say that the race is indolent
by nature, especially in view of its climatic surroundings; for there
are too many thousand thrifty and hard-working Hellenes in Greece and in
America as well to refute any such accusation. The one vast trouble, no
doubt, is the lack of any spur to industrial ambition at home, or of any
very attractive or remunerative employment compared with the
opportunities offered by the cities of the newer world. The strong set
of the tide of emigration to American shores has tended largely to
depopulate Greece; but it is not unlikely that the return of the
natives, which is by no means uncommon, will in time work large benefit
to Hellas herself, and the attraction of her sons to foreign lands thus
prove a blessing rather than, as was once supposed, a curse.

This, however, is rather aside from any consideration of the modern city
of Athens. Let it be said at the outset that one may go freely anywhere
in the city and be quite unmolested either by malicious or mendicant
persons. It is not improbable, of course, that the increasing inundation
of Athens by foreign visitors will tend somewhat to increase the
tendency to begging, as it has elsewhere; but it is due the Greek race
to say that it is infinitely less lazy and infinitely less inclined to
proletarianism, or to seeking to live without work, than the Italian.
Small children, as in all countries, will be found occasionally begging
a penny, especially if they have gone out of their way to render a
fancied service, by ostentatiously opening a gate that already stood
ajar. But there are few of the lame, halt, and blind, such as infest
Naples and many smaller Mediterranean cities, seeking to extort money
from sheer pity of unsightliness. Here and there in Athens one may
indeed see a cripple patiently awaiting alms, but generally in a quiet
and unobtrusive way. Neither is the visitor bothered by the
importunities of carriage drivers, although the carriages are numerous
enough and anxious for fares—a contrast that is welcome indeed to one
newly come from Italy and fresh from the tireless pursuit of warring
Neapolitan cabbies. The offset to this welcome peace is the fact that
carriage fares in Athens are undoubtedly high compared with the
astonishingly low charges produced in Naples by active and incessant
competition of the vetturini. The sole dangers of Athenian streets are
those incident to the fast driving of carriages over the unpaved
roadways; for the pedestrian has his own way to make and his own safety
to guard, as is largely true in Paris, and it is incumbent on him to
stop, look, and listen before venturing into the highway.

The street venders of laces, sponges, flowers, and postal cards are
perhaps the nearest to an importunate class, though they generally await
invitation to the attack, and their efforts are invariably good-humored.
The region of the “Syntagma” square is generally full of them, lining
the curb and laden with their wares. Men will be seen with long strips
of fascinating island lace over their shoulders, baskets on baskets of
flowers, heaps of curiously shaped, marvelously attractive sponges,
fresh and white from the near-by ocean, or packets of well-executed
postal cards picturing the city’s classic remains, all offered for sale
to whomsoever will exhibit the faintest trace of interest. Needless to
say, the initial prices asked are inevitably excessive and yield to
treatment with surprising revelations of latitude.

Athens is a clean city. Its streets, while unpaved, are still fairly
hard. Its buildings are in the main of stone, covered with a stucco
finish and given a white color, or a tint of buff or light blue. The
prevailing tone is white, and in the glare of the brilliant sun it is
often rather trying to the eyes. To relieve the whiteness there is
always the feathery green of the pepper trees, and the contrast of the
clambering vines and flowers that in their season go far to make the
city so attractive. Most notable of all the contrasts in color is
unquestionably the rich purple of the bougainvillea blooms splashed in
great masses against the immaculate walls and porticoes of the more
pretentious houses. The gardens are numerous and run riot with roses,
iris, and hundreds of other fragrant and lovely blossoms. The sidewalks
are broad and smooth. It is an easy town in which to stroll about, for
the distances are not great and the street scenes are interesting and
frequently unusual to a high degree, while vistas are constantly opening
to give momentary views of the towering Acropolis. It is not a hilly
city, but rather built on rolling ground, the prevailing slope of which
is toward the west, gently down from the pointed Lycabettus to the
ancient course of the Cephissus, along which once spread the famous
grove of Academe. The lack of a sufficient water supply is unfortunate,
for one misses the gushing of fountains which makes Rome so delightful,
and the restricted volume available for domestic uses is sometimes far
from pleasant.

The Athenians had a prodigious mine to draw upon for the naming of their
streets, in the magnificent stretch of their history and in the fabulous
wealth of mythology. And it is a fact worth remarking that the
mythological gods and heroes appear to have decidedly the better of the
famous mortals in the selection of street names to do them honor. For
example, Pericles, the greatest Athenian in many ways, is recalled by
the name of a decidedly poor thoroughfare—hardly more than an alley;
while Pheidias, Pindar, Homer, Solon, and a score of others fare but
little better. On the contrary, the great gods of high Olympus, Hermes,
Athena, Æolus, and others, give their names to the finest, broadest,
most magnificent streets of this city that likes to call herself a
little Paris. The result of it all is a curious mental state, for by the
time one gets out of Athens and into the highlands of Delphi or of the
Peloponnesus, where every peak and vale is the scene of some godlike
encounter or amour, one is more than half ready to accept those ancient
deities as actually having lived and done the things that legend
ascribes to them. They become fully as real to the mind as William Tell
or Pocahontas. The same illusion is helped on by the classic names
affected for the engines of the Piræus-Athens-Peloponnesus Railroad, and
by the time one has ridden for a day behind the “Hermes” or the
“Hephaistos,” one is quite ready to expect to see Proteus rising from
the sea, or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

It is at first a trifle perplexing to one not versed in the Greek
language to find the streets all labeled in the genitive case, such as
ὁδὸς Ἑρμοῦ (othòs Ermoù), “street of Hermes.” This soon becomes a matter
of course, however. The main shopping district is confined to the
greater highways of Hermes, Æolus, and Athena, and to Stadium Street—the
latter so called because its length is about one kilometre, which is the
modern “stadion,” instead of the lesser classic length of approximately
six hundred feet. The name therefore has no reference to the magnificent
athletic field of the city, in which the so-called modern “Olympic”
games are occasionally held, and which in itself is a fine sight to see,
as it lies in its natural amphitheatre east of the city, and brilliant
in its newly built surfaces of purest marble. Stadium Street is perhaps
the most modern and up-to-date street in Athens, lined with handsome
stores, hotels, and cafés, thronged day and night, and perhaps even more
gay and Parisian-looking by night, with its many lights and teeming

Athens at this writing has no system of trolley cars, but sticks
obstinately to an old-fashioned and quite inadequate horse-railway, the
several lines radiating from the Omonoia Square—pronounced much like
"Ammonia"—which, being interpreted, means the same as Place de la
Concorde. To master the intricacies of this tramway system requires a
considerable acquaintance with Athens, but it is vastly less involved a
problem than the omnibuses of London and Paris, and naturally so because
of the smaller size of the town. Odd little carriages plying between
stated points eke out the local transportation service, while the
third-rail, semi-underground line to the Piræus and the antiquated steam
tram to New Phalerum give a suburban service that is not to be despised.
In a very few years no doubt the trolley will invade Athens, for it
already has a foothold in Greece at the thriving port of Patras; and
when it does, one may whirl incongruously about the classic regions of
the Acropolis as one now whirls about the Forum at Rome.

The admirable Bædeker warns visitors to Hellas against assuming too
hastily that Greece is a tropical land, merely because it is a southern
Mediterranean country, and our own experiences have proved that even in
April Athens can be as cold as in mid-winter, with snow capping Hymettus
itself. But for the greater part of the year Athens is warm, and as in
most southern cities business is practically at a standstill between the
noon hour and two o'clock in the afternoon. In the summer months, which
in Athens means the interval between May and late fall, this cessation
is a practical necessity, owing to the heat and the glare of the
noontide sun on the white streets and buildings. But the comparative
compactness of the city makes it entirely possible to walk almost
anywhere, even on a warm day, for the coolness of shade as compared with
the heat of the sun is always noticeable. Thus the visitor who has
plenty of time for his stay in the city is practically independent of
cars and carriages. For those who find time pressing and who must cover
the sites, or, as Bædeker sometimes says, “overtake” the points of
interest in short order, the ingenious device once employed by a friend
similarly situated may not come amiss. Having limited facilities of
speech in the native tongue, and being practically without other means
of communication with the cabman, this resourceful traveler supplied
himself with a full set of picture post-cards dealing with the more
celebrated features of Athens, and by dint of showing these one after
another to his Jehu, he managed to “do” Athens in half a day—if one
could call it that. He was not the only one to see the ancient capital
in such short order, but it remains true that any such cavalier
disposition of so famous a place is unfortunate and wholly inadequate.
Athens is no place for the hasty “tripper,” for not only are the ancient
monuments worthy of long and thoughtful contemplation, but the modern
city itself is abundantly worthy of intimate acquaintance.


It has been spoken of as a noisy city, and it is especially so after
nightfall, when the streets are thronged with people until a late hour
and the coffee-houses and open-air restaurants are in full swing. Long
after the ordinary person has gone to bed, passing Athenians will be
heard shouting or singing in merry bands of from three to a dozen,
especially if it be election time. The Athenian takes his politics as he
takes his coffee—in deliberate sips, making a little go a long way. The
general election period usually extends over something like two weeks,
during which time the blank walls of the city blossom with the portraits
of candidates and the night is made vocal with the rallying cries of the
free-born. “Rallying” carriages are employed much as our own practical
politicians employ them, to convey the decrepit or the reluctant
able-bodied voters to the polls, with the difference that the Athenian
rallying conveyance is generally decorated with partisan banners and not
infrequently bears on its box, beside the driver, a musical outfit
consisting of a drum and penny whistle, with which imposing panoply the
proud voter progresses grandly through the streets to the ballot box,
attended by a shouting throng. Torchlight processions, which make up in
noise for their lack of numbers, are common every night during the
election. The Athenian, when he does make up his mind to shout for any
aspirant, shouts with his whole being, and with a vigor that recalls the
days of Stentor. Noisy enough at all times, Athens is more so than ever
in days of political excitement or on high festivals—notably on the
night before Easter, when the joy over the resurrection of the Lord is
manifested in a whole-hearted outpouring of the spirit, finding vent in
explosives, rockets, and other pyrotechnics. Religious anniversaries,
such as the birthday of a saint, or the Nativity, or the final triumph
of Jesus, are treated by the Greek with the same pomp and circumstance
that we accord to the Fourth of July; and, indeed, the same is true of
all Mediterranean countries. I have never experienced a night before
Easter in Athens, but I have been told that this, one of the most sacred
of the festivals of the Orthodox Church, is the one occasion when it is
at all dangerous or disagreeable to be abroad in the streets of the
capital, and it is so only because of the exuberant and genuine joy that
the native feels in the thought of his salvation, the idea of which
seems annually to be a perfectly new and hitherto unexpected one.

By day the chief tumult is from the ordinary press of traffic, with the
unintelligible street-cries of itinerant peddlers offering fish, eggs,
and divers vegetables, not to mention fire-wood. Nor should one omit the
newsboys, for the Athenian has abandoned not a whit of his traditional
eagerness to see or to hear some new thing, and has settled upon the
daily paper as the best vehicle for purveying to that taste. Athens
boasts perhaps half a dozen journals, fairly good though somewhat given
to exaggeration, and it is a poor citizen indeed who does not read two
or three of them as he drinks his coffee. Early morn and late evening
are filled with the cries of the paper boys ringing clear and distinct
over the general hubbub, and of all the street sounds their calls are by
far the easiest to understand.

Most fascinating of all to the foreign visitor must always be the
narrower and less ornate streets of the old quarter, leading off Hermes
and Æolus streets, and paramount in attractiveness the little narrow
lane of the red shoes, which is a perfect bazaar. It is a mere alley,
lined from end to end with small open booths, or shops, and devoted
almost exclusively to the sale of shoes, mostly of red leather and
provided with red pompons, though soft, white leather boots are also to
be had, and to the dealing in embroidered bags, coats, pouches, belts,
and the like. The stock in trade of each is very similar to that of
every neighbor, and the effect of the _tout ensemble_ is highly curious
and striking. To venture there once is to insure frequent visits, and
one is absolutely certain sooner or later to buy. The wares seem rather
Turkish than Greek in character. Of course, patience and tact are
needful to enable one to avoid outrageous extortion. Nothing would
surprise a shoe-lane dealer more, in all probability, than to find a
foreigner willing and ready to accept his initial price as final.
Chaffering is the order of the day, and after a sufficient amount of
advancing and retreating, the intending purchaser is sure to succumb and
return laden with souvenirs, from the inexpensive little embroidered
bags to the coats heavy with gold lace, which are the festal gear of the
peasant girls. The latter garments are mostly second-hand, and generally
show the blemishes due to actual use. They are sleeveless over-garments
made of heavy felt but gay with red and green cloth, on which, as a
border, gold braid and tracery have been lavished without stint until
they are splendid to see. Needless to say, they are the most expensive
things in shoe lane. The process of bargaining between one who speaks no
English and one who speaks no Greek is naturally largely a matter of
dumb show, although the ever-ready pad and pencil figure in it. Madame
looks inquiringly up from a handsome Greek coat, and is told by the pad
that the price is 50 drachmas. Her face falls; she says as plainly as
words could say it that she is very sorry, but it is out of the
question. She turns and approaches the door. “Madame! madame!” She turns
back, and the pad, bearing the legend 45, is shoved toward her. Again
the retreat, and once more the summons to return and see a new and still
lower price. Eventually the blank paper is passed to “madame,” and she
writes thereon a price of her own—inevitably too low. Finally, however,
the product of the extremes produces the Aristotelian golden mean, and
the title passes. Indeed, it sometimes happens that the merchant will
inform you of an outrageous price and add with shameless haste, “What
will you give?” Experience will soon teach the purchaser that the
easiest way to secure reasonable prices is to make a lump sum for
several articles at a single sale.

Shoe lane, for all its narrowness and business, is far from squalid, and
is remarkably clean and sweet. In this it differs from the market
district farther along, where vegetables, lambs, pigs, chickens, and
other viands are offered for sale. The sight is interesting, but its
olfactory appeal is stronger than the ocular. One need not venture
there, however, to see the wayside cook at his work of roasting a whole
sheep on the curb. Even the business streets up-town often show this
spectacle. The stove is a mere sheet-iron chest without a cover, and
containing a slow fire of charcoal. Over this on an iron spit, which is
thrust through the lamb from end to end, the roast is slowly turning,
legs, ribs, head, eyes, and all, the motive power being a little boy.
From this primitive establishment cooked meat may be bought, as in the
days of Socrates, either to be taken home, or to be eaten in some corner
by the Athenian quick-lunch devotee. Farther along in the old quarter,
not far from the Monastiri Station of the Piræus Line, is the street of
the coppersmiths, heralded from afar by the noise of its hammers. By all
the rules of appropriateness this should be the street of Hephaistos. In
the gathering dusk, especially, this is an interesting place to wander
through, for the forge fires in the dark little shops gleam brightly in
the increasing darkness, while the busy hammers ply far into the
evening. It is the tinkers’ chorus and the armorer’s song rolled into
one. Here one buys the coffee-mills and the coffee-pots used in
concocting the Turkish coffee peculiar to the East, and any visitor who
learns to like coffee thus made will do well to secure both utensils,
since the process is simple and the drink can easily be made at home.
The coffee-pots themselves are little brass or copper dippers, of
varying sizes; and the mills are cylinders of brass with arrangements
for pulverizing the coffee beans to a fine powder. This powder, in the
proportion of about a teaspoonful to a cup, is put into the dipper with
an equal quantity of sugar. Boiling water is added, and the mixture set
on the fire until it “boils up.” This is repeated three times before
pouring off into cups, the coffee being vigorously stirred or beaten to
a froth between the several boilings. At the end it is a thick and
syrup-like liquid, astonishingly devoid of the insomnia-producing
qualities commonly attributed to coffee by the makers of American
“substitutes.” In any event the long-handled copper pots and the mills
for grinding are quaint and interesting to possess. At the coffee-houses
the practice is generally to bring the coffee on in its little
individual pot, to be poured out by the patron himself. It is always
accompanied by a huge glass of rather dubious drinking water and often
by a bit of loukoumi, which the Greek esteems as furnishing a thirst, or
by a handful of salty pistachio nuts, equally efficacious for the same
purpose. The consumption of coffee by the Greek nation is stupendous.
Possibly it is harmful, too. But in any event it cheers without
inebriating, and a drunken Greek is a rare sight indeed.

Walking homeward in the dusk of evening after a sunset on the Acropolis,
one is sure to pass many out-of-door stoves set close to the entrances
of humbler houses and stuffed with light wood which is blazing cheerily
in preparation of the evening meal, the glow and the aromatic wood-smoke
adding to the charm of the scene. Small shops, in the windows of which
stand fresh-made bowls of giaourti (ya-oór-ti), are also to be seen,
calling attention to that favorite Athenian delicacy, very popular as a
dessert and not unlikely to please the palate of those not to the manner
born. The giaourti is a sort of “junket,” or thick curd of goat’s milk,
possessing a sour or acid taste. It is best eaten with an equal quantity
of sugar, which renders the taste far from disagreeable. As for the
other common foods of the natives, doubtless the lamb comes nearest to
being the chief national dish, while chickens and eggs are every-day
features of many a table. Unless one is far from the congested haunts of
men, the food problem is not a serious one. That a visitor would find it
rather hard to live long on the ordinary native cookery, however, is no
doubt true; but fortunately there is little need to make the experiment.
One other native dish deserves mention, in passing, and that is the
“pilaffi,” or “pilaff,” which is rice covered with a rich meat gravy,
and which almost any foreigner will appreciate as a palatable article of

Of the ruins and museums of Athens, it is necessary to speak in detail
in another chapter. Of the modern city and its many oddities, it is
enough to deal here. Rambles through the town in any direction are sure
to prove delightful, not only in the older quarter which we have been
considering, but through the more pretentious modern streets as well,
with their excellent shops, their pseudo-classic architecture, and their
constant glimpses of gardens or of distant ruined temples. Occasionally
the classic style of building rises to something really fine, as in the
case of the university buildings, the polytechnic school, or the
national museum itself. The local churches are by no means beautiful,
however. Indeed the ordinary Greek church makes no pretension to outward
attractiveness, such as the cathedrals and minor churches of the Roman
faith possess. Perhaps the most striking of the Athenian houses of
worship is the little brown structure which has been allowed to remain
in the midst of Hermes Street, recalling the situation of St. Clement
Danes, or St. Mary le Strand in London. It is a squat Byzantine edifice,
not beautiful, but evidently old, and a familiar sight of the city.
Within, the Greek churches are quite different in arrangement from the
Roman. At the entrance to the altar space there is always a high screen,
pierced by a door leading to the altar itself, and used only by the
officiating priest. The altar screen, or “iconastasis,” is richly
adorned as a rule with embossed work, and the “icons,” or holy pictures,
are generally painted faces set in raised silver-gilt frames, which
supply the figure and robes of the saints, only the facial features
being in pigment. Images are not allowed in the Orthodox worship, but
the relief employed to embellish the faces in the icons goes far to
simulate imagery.

The residential architecture of the city finds its best exemplification
in the splendid marble mansions of the princes of the royal house, which
are really fine, and which are surrounded by attractive grounds and
gardens. The palace of the king is far less attractive, being a huge and
barn-like structure in the centre of the city, relieved from utter
barrenness only by a very good classic portico. But nothing could be
lovelier than the deep dells of the palace gardens, which form a
magnificent park well deserving the classic name of a παράδεισος, with
its jungle of flowers, shrubs, and magnificent trees—the latter a
welcome sight in treeless Attica.

One cannot pass from the subject of modern Athens without mentioning the
soldiery, for the soldiers are everywhere, in all degrees of rank and
magnificence of dress, from the humble private to the glittering and
altogether gorgeous generalissimo. The uniforms are of a variety that
would put to blush the variegated equipment of the famous Ancient and
Honorable Artillery Company of Boston. These manifold uniforms have
their proper signification, however, and they are undeniably handsome.
If the Greek soldiers could only fight as well as they look, what could
restrain the modern Athenian empire? The army clothes are admirably
designed with an eye to fit and color, and the men carry themselves with
admirable military hauteur. Most picturesque of all are the king’s
body-guard, with their magnificent physique and national dress. They are
big, erect fellows, clad in the short fustanella skirts of the ancient
régime, the tight-fitting leggings, the pomponed shoes, the dark
over-jacket, and the fez. These are the only troops that wear the
old-time garb of the Greek. But the dress is a familiar sight in the
outside country districts, often worn by well-to-do peasants, and still
regarded as the national dress despite the general prevalence of
ordinary European clothes.

It remains to speak briefly of the national money, for that is a subject
the visitor cannot avoid. The drachma, which corresponds to the franc,
is a peculiar thing. If one means the metal drachma, of silver, it is
simple enough. It circulates at par with the franc. But the paper
drachma varies in value from day to day at the behest of private
speculation, and is almost never at par. I have experienced variations
of it from a value of fourteen cents to eighteen. In small transactions,
when the paper drachma is high, the difference is negligible. When it is
low in value, or in large amounts, it is highly appreciable. The
fluctuation of this money is the reason for the pads and pencils in the
shops, for it is only by constant multiplication or division that the
merchant is able to translate prices from francs into drachmas or _vice
versa_, as occasion requires. Naturally when the drachma is worth only
fourteen cents, the unsuspecting visitor is liable to pay more than he
should, if assuming that a franc and a drachma are synonymous terms. In
such a case a paper bill requires a considerable addition of copper
lepta to make it equal the metal drachma or the French franc. The
difference in value from day to day may be learned from the newspapers.
Most bargains are made in francs, and the French money, both gold and
silver, is freely used. Nevertheless, the local paper money is very
useful, and it merely requires a little care in the use. Particularly is
it desirable to know the status of the drachma in securing cash on a
letter of credit or on a traveler’s cheque, in order that one may obtain
the proper amount and not content himself with an inferior sum in paper;
for although the principal banks may be relied upon as a rule to be
honest, individual clerks may not be proof against the temptation to
impose upon the ignorant and pocket the difference. I would advise the
use of the Ionian Bank as far as possible, rather than the tourist
agencies, for the latter often extort money quite without warrant, on
the plea of needful stamps or fees for “accommodation,” that the bank
does not require. Little trouble will be found to exist in the way of
false coin—far less than in Italy. The one difficulty is to follow the
paper drachma up and down, and not be mulcted to a greater or less
extent in the exchange of silver for paper. The copper coins, which are
either the five or ten lepta pieces, occasion no trouble, being like the
Italian centesimi or English pence and ha' pennies.

One not uncommon sight to be met with in Athenian streets is the funeral
procession—a sight which is liable at first to give the unaccustomed
witness a serious shock, because of the custom of carrying the dead
uncoffined through the city. The coffin and its cover are borne at the
head of the procession, as a rule, while the body of the deceased, in an
open hearse, rides joltingly along in the middle of the cortège. To
those not used to this method of honoring the dead, the exposure of the
face to the sight of every passer-by must seem incongruous and
revolting. But it is the custom of the place, and the passing of a
funeral causes no apparent concern to those who calmly view the passing
corpse from the chairs where they sip their coffee, or idly finger their
strings of beads. The beads which are to be seen in the hand of nearly
every native have no religious significance, as might be thought at
first sight, but are simply one of the innocuous things that the Hellene
finds for idle hands to do. They are large beads, of various colors,
though the strings are generally uniform in themselves, and their sole
function is to furnish something to toy with while talking, or while
doing nothing in particular. There is a sufficiency of loose string to
give some play to the beads, and they become a familiar sight.

Royalty in Greece is decidedly democratic in its attitude. King George
and his sons are frequently to be seen riding about town, much like
ordinary citizens. Quite characteristic was an encounter of recent date,
in which an American gentleman accosted one whom he found walking in the
palace gardens with the inquiry as to what hour would be the best for
seeing the royal children. The question elicited mutual interest and the
two conversed for some time, the American asking with much curiosity for
particulars of the household, with which his interlocutor professed to
be acquainted. “What of the queen?” he inquired. "She’s exceedingly well
beloved," was the reply. “She is a woman of high character and fills her
high station admirably.” “And the king?” "Oh, the king! I regret to say
that he is no good. He has done nothing for the country. He tries to
give no offense—but as a king the less said of him the better!" Needless
to say, this oracle was the king himself. Nobody else would have passed
so harsh a judgment. King George I has been reigning since 1863, when
the present government, with the sponsorship of the Christian powers,
was inaugurated. He came from Denmark, being a son of the late King
Christian, who furnished so many thrones of Europe with acceptable
rulers and queens from his numerous and excellent family, so that the
king is not himself a Greek at all. The years of successful rule have
proved him highly acceptable to the Athenians and their countrymen, who
have seen their land regain a large measure of its prosperity and their
chief city grow to considerable proportions under the new order. The
kingly office is hereditary, the crown prince reaching his majority at
eighteen years.

Prince Constantine, the heir to the throne, lives on the street behind
the palace gardens, and has a family of handsome children. Prince George
is commissioner in charge of Crete. The royal family has embraced the
faith of the Greek Orthodox Church.


                       CHAPTER V. ANCIENT ATHENS:
                             THE ACROPOLIS


The visible remains of the ancient city of Athens, as distinguished from
the city of to-day, lie mainly to the south and west of the Acropolis,
where are to be seen many distinct traces of the classic town, close
around the base of the great rock and the Hill of Mars. How far the
ancient city had extended around to the eastward can only be conjectured
by the layman, for there exist almost no remains in that direction save
the choragic monument of Lysicrates and the ruins of the temple of
Olympian Zeus; while on the northern side of the Acropolis, although it
is known that there once lay the agora, or market place, little is left
but some porticoes of a late, if not of Roman, date. Not being bent on
exact archæology, however, it is not for us here to speculate much over
the probable sites of the ancient metes and bounds, the location of the
fountain of nine spouts called “Enneacrunus,” nor the famous spring of
Callirrhoë, which furnish fertile ground for dissent among those skilled
in the art. What must now concern us most is the mass of visible ruins,
which provide the chief charm of the city to every visitor, and most of
all to those possessed of the desirable historic or classical
“background” to make the ruins the more interesting.

Despite her many inglorious vicissitudes, Athens has been so fortunate
as to retain many of her ancient structures in such shape that even
to-day a very good idea is to be had of their magnificence in the golden
age of Hellenic empire. The Greek habit of building temples and fanes in
high places, apart from the dwellings of men, has contributed very
naturally to the preservation of much that might otherwise have been
lost. The chief attractions of the classic city were set on high, and
the degenerate modern town that succeeded the ancient capital did not
entirely swallow them up, as was so largely the case at Rome. To be
sure, the Turks did invade the sacred precincts of the Acropolis with
their mosques and their munitions of war, and the latter ruined the
Parthenon beyond hope of restoration when Morosini’s lamentable advisers
caused the Venetian bomb to be fired at that noble edifice. Local
vandalism and the greed of lime burners have doubtless destroyed much.
But the whole course of these depredations has failed to remove the
crowning treasures of Athens, and the Acropolis temples are still the
inspiration and the despair of architects. In passing, then, to a more
detailed and perhaps superfluous consideration of the monuments
surviving from the ancient city, it may be remarked that the visitor
will find more of the classic remains to reward and delight him than is
the case at Rome, rich as that eternal city is.

The Acropolis is naturally the great focus of interest, not only for
what remains _in situ_ on its top, but because of many remnants of
buildings that cluster about its base. The rock itself, if it were
stripped of every building and devoid of every memory, would still be
commanding and imposing, alone by sheer force of its height and
steepness. As it is, with its beetling sides made the more precipitous
by the artifices of Cimon and ancient engineers, whose walls reveal the
use of marble column drums built into the fortifications themselves, it
is doubly impressive for mere inaccessibility. Something like a hundred
feet below its top it ceases to be so sheer, and spreads out into a more
gradual slope, on the southern expanses of which were built the city’s
theatres and a precinct sacred to Asklepios. Only on the west, however,
was the crag at all approachable, and on that side to-day is the only
practicable entrance to the sacred precincts.

A more magnificent approach it would be hard to conceive. One must
exempt from praise the so-called “Beulé” gate at the very entrance, at
the foot of the grand staircase, for it is a mere late patchwork of
marble from other ancient monuments, and is in every way unworthy of
comparison with the majestic Propylæa at the top. It takes its name from
the French explorer who unearthed it. As for its claim to interest, it
must found that, if at all, on the identification of the stones which
now compose it with the more ancient monument of some choragic victor.
Looking up the steep incline to the Propylæa, or fore gate of the
Acropolis, the Parthenon is completely hid. Nothing is visible from this
point but the walls and columns of the magnificent gateway itself,
designed to be a worthy prelude to the architectural glory of the main
temple of the goddess. The architect certainly succeeded admirably in
achieving the desired result. He did not at all dwarf or belittle his
chief creation above, yet he gave it a most admirable setting. Even
to-day, with so much of the colonnade of the Propylæa in ruins, it is a
splendid and satisfying approach, not only when seen from a distance,
but at close range. Not alone is it beautiful in and of itself, but it
commands from its platform a grand view of the Attic plain below, of the
bay of Salamis gleaming in the sun beyond, of the long cape running down
to Sunium, and of the distant mountains of the Argolid, rolling like
billows in the southwest far across the gulf and beyond Ægina. To pause
for a moment on gaining this threshold of the Acropolis and gaze upon
this imposing panorama of plain, mountain, and sea, is an admirable
introduction to Greece.


On either side of the stairway by which one climbs to the Propylæa are
buttresses of rock, on one of which stands an object worthy of long
contemplation. At the right, on a platform leveled from the solid rock,
stands the tiny temple of Niké Apteros (the Wingless Victory),
“restored” it is true, but nevertheless one of the most perfect little
buildings imaginable. At one time entirely removed to make room for a
Turkish watch-tower, it has been re-created by careful hands out of its
original marbles; and it stands to-day, as it stood of old, on its
narrow parapet beside the grand stairway of Athena. The process of
rebuilding has not, indeed, been able to give the unbroken lines of the
old temple. The stones are chipped at the corners here and there, and
there are places where entirely new blocks have been required. But in
the main everything, even to the delicately carved frieze around its
top, is in place; and for once at least the oft-berated “restorer” of
ancient buildings has triumphed and has silenced all his critics. The
remnants of the incomparable carved balustrade, which once served as a
railing for the parapet, are to be seen in the small museum of the
Acropolis, revealing the extreme grace which the Greek sculptors had
achieved in the modeling of exquisite figures in high relief. The slab,
particularly, which has come to be known as “Niké binding her sandal”
seems to be the favorite of all, though the others, even in their
headless and armless state, are scarcely less lovely.

As for the isolated pedestal on the other side of the stairway, known as
the “pedestal of Agrippa,” it is not only devoid of any statue to give
it continued excuse for being, but it is in such a state of decrepitude
as to cause the uncomfortable thought that it is about to fall, and
seems an object rather for removal than for perpetuation, although it
serves to balance the effect produced by the Niké bastion.

Standing on the Niké platform, the visitor finds the noble columns of
the Propylæa towering above him close at hand. These Doric pillars give
one for the first time an adequate idea of the perfection to which the
column was carried by Ictinus and the builders and architects of his
time; for although each pillar is built up drum upon drum, it is still
true in many cases that the joints between them are almost invisible, so
perfect are they, despite the lapse of ages and the ravages of war, not
to mention the frequent earthquake shocks to which the whole region has
been subjected. Age has been kind also to the Pentelic marble, softening
its original whiteness to a golden brown without destroying its
exquisite satin texture. Nothing more charming can well be imagined than
the contrast of the blue Athenian sky with these stately old columns, as
one looks outward or inward through their majestic rows.

The rock rises sharply as one passes within the precinct of the
Acropolis, and the surface of it appears to have been grooved to give a
more secure footing to pedestrians. Stony as is the place, it still
affords soil enough to support a growth of grasses and struggling bits
of greenery to cradle the many fallen drums. But one has eyes only for
the Parthenon, the western front of which now appears for the first time
in its full effect. From its western end, the havoc wrought in its midst
being concealed, the Parthenon appears almost perfect. The pedimental
sculptures, it is true, are gone save for a fragment or two, having been
carried off to England. But the massive Doric columns still stand in an
unbroken double row before one; the walls of the cella appear to be
intact; the pediment rises almost unbroken above; frieze, triglyphs, and
metopes remain in sufficient degree to give an idea of the ancient
magnificence of the shrine—and all conspire to compel instant and
unstinted admiration. Speculation as to the ethics of the removal of the
Parthenon sculptures by Lord Elgin has become an academic matter, and
therefore one quite beyond our present purpose. Doubtless to-day no such
removal would be countenanced for a moment. It is no longer possible to
say, as former critics have said, that the local regard for the
treasures of the place is so slight as to endanger their safety. The
present custodianship of the priceless relics of antiquity in Athens is
admirably careful and satisfactory. If, therefore, Greece had only come
into her own a century or so earlier than she did, the famous sculptures
of the miraculous birth of Athena, springing full grown from the head of
Zeus, and the colossal representation of the strife between Athena and
Poseidon for possession of the Attic land, might still adorn as of yore
the eastern and western gables of the great temple; or if not that,
might still be seen in the very excellent museum at the other end of the
city. It is enough for us to know, however, that they are not in Athens
but in London, and that there is no probability they will ever return to
Greek soil; and to know, also, that had they not been removed as they
were, they might never have been preserved at all. That is the one
comfortable state of mind in which to view the vacant pediments of the
Parthenon. To work up a Byronic frenzy over what cannot be helped, and
may, after all, be for the best, is of no benefit.

Writers on Athens have often called attention to the curved stylobate of
the Parthenon—a feature which is by no means confined to this temple,
but which is to be noticed in almost every considerable ruin of the
sort. The base of the building curves sufficiently to make the device
visible, rising from either end to the centre of the sides; and the
curious may easily prove it by placing a hat at one extremity and trying
to see it from the other, sighting along the line of the basic stones.
The curve was necessary to cure an optical defect, for a straight or
level base would have produced the illusion of a decided sagging
Similarly it has long been recognized that the columns must swell at the
middle drums, lest they appear to the eye to be concaved. In fact, as
Professor Gardner has pointed out, there is actually hardly a really
straight line in the Parthenon—yet the effect is of absolute
straightness everywhere.

Obviously this curvature of the base, slight though it was, imposed some
engineering problems of no inconsiderable nature when it came to setting
the column drums; for the columns must stand erect, and the bottom
sections must be so devised as to meet the configuration of the convex
stylobate. The corner columns, being set on a base that curved in both
directions, must have been more difficult still to deal with. But the
problem was solved successfully, and the result of this cunningly
contrived structure was a temple that comes as near architectural
perfection as earthly artisans are ever likely to attain. The columns
were set up in an unfluted state, the fluting being added after the
pillar was complete. Each drum is said to have been rotated upon its
lower fellow until the joint became so exact as to be to all intents and
purposes indistinguishable. In the centre of the fallen drums will be
seen always a square hole, used to contain a peg of wood designed to
hold the finished sections immovable, and in many cases this wooden plug
has been found intact. All along the sides of the Parthenon, lying on
the ground as they fell, are to be seen the fallen drums that once
composed the columns of the sides, but which were blown out of position
by the bomb from the Venetian fleet of Admiral Morosini. They lie like
fallen heaps of dominoes or children’s building blocks, and the entire
centre of the temple is a gaping void. Here and there an attempt has
been made to reconstruct the fallen columns from the original portions,
but the result is by no means reassuring and seems not to justify the
further prosecution of the task. Better a ruined Parthenon than an
obvious patchwork. The few restored columns are quite devoid of that
homogeneity that marks the extant originals, and their joints are
painfully felt, being chipped and uneven, where the old are all but
imperceptible; so that the whole effect is of insecurity and lack of
perfection entirely out of harmony with the Parthenon itself. Opinions,
however, differ. Some still do advocate the rebuilding of the temple
rather than leave the drums, seemingly so perfect still, lying as they
now are amid the grasses of the Acropolis. It is one of those questions
of taste on which debate is traditionally idle and purposeless.


For those who must demand restorations other than those constructed by
the mind’s eye, there are models and drawings enough extant, and some
are to be seen in the Acropolis Museum. Most interesting of the attempts
are doubtless the speculations as to the pedimental sculptures, the
remains of which are in the British Museum, but which are so fragmentary
and so ill placed in their new home that much of the original grouping
is matter for conjecture. With the aid of drawings made by a visitor
long years ago, before Lord Elgin had thought of tearing them down, the
two great pediments have been ingeniously reconstructed in miniature,
showing a multitude of figures attending on the birth of the city’s
tutelary goddess, as she sprang full armed from the head of Zeus
assisted by the blow of Hephaistos’s hammer, or the concourse of deities
that umpired the contest between Athena and Poseidon for the land. The
Acropolis Museum has only casts of the Elgin marbles, but there is still
to be seen a good proportion of the original frieze. It would be out of
place in any such work as this to be drawn into anything like a detailed
account of these famous sculptures, the subjects of a vast volume of
available literature already and sources of a considerable volume also
of controversial writing involving conflicts of the highest authority.
It must therefore suffice to refer the reader interested in the detailed
story of the Parthenon, its external adornment, its huge gold-and-ivory
statue within, and the great Panathenaic festival which its frieze
portrayed, to any one of those learned authors who have written of all
these things so copiously and clearly—doubtless none more so than Dr.
Ernest Gardner in his admirably lucid and readable “Ancient Athens,” or
in his “Handbook of Greek Sculpture,” without which no one should visit
the museum in that city.

One must remember that the Parthenon and the other features of the
Acropolis are monuments of the age of Pericles, and not of an earlier
day. The Persians who invaded Greece in 480 B.C. succeeded in obtaining
possession of Athens and of the whole Attic plain, the inhabitants
fleeing to the island of Salamis. The hordes of barbarians brought in by
Xerxes were opposed by a very few of the citizens, some of whom erected
a stockade around the Acropolis, thinking that thereby they satisfied
the oracle which had promised the city salvation through the
impregnability of its “Wooden Walls.” The Persians massed their forces
on Mars Hill, just west of the larger rock, and a hot fight took place,
the invaders attempting to fire the stockade by means of arrows carrying
burning tow, while the besieged made use of round stones with
considerable effect. Eventually the enemy discovered an unsuspected
means of access to the citadel and took it by storm, after which they
burned its temples and left it a sorry ruin. The rest of the Athenians
with the allied navy at Salamis repulsed the Persian fleet, and Xerxes,
disgusted, withdrew,—despite the fact that it would seem to have been
quite possible for him to pursue his successes on land. It left Athens a
waste, but on that waste grew up a city that for architectural beauty
has never, in all probability, been surpassed. The reaction from the
horrors of war gave us the Parthenon, the Propylæa, and the Erechtheum,
all dating, perhaps, from the fifth century before Christ.

The Erechtheum, while properly entitled to the epithet “elegant” as a
building, seems decidedly less a favorite than the Parthenon. It is
extremely beautiful, no doubt, in a delicate and elaborate way, and its
ornamentation is certainly of a high order. Unlike the Parthenon, it is
not surrounded by a colonnade, but possesses pillars only in its several
porticoes. The columns are not Doric, but Ionic. As for its general
plan, it is so complicated and devoted to so many obscure purposes that
the lay visitor doubtless will find it an extremely difficult place to
understand. There appear to have been at least three precincts involved
in it, and the name it bears is the ancient one, given it because in
part it was a temple of Erechtheus. That deity was of the demi-god type.
He was an ancient Attic hero, who had received apotheosis and become
highly esteemed, doubtless because in part he had instituted the worship
of Athena in the city and had devised the celebrated Panathenaic
festival. Tradition says that he was brought up by Athena herself, and
that she intrusted him as a babe, secreted in a chest, to the daughters
of Cecrops to guard. They were enjoined not to open the chest, but being
overcome with curiosity they disobeyed, and discovered the babe entwined
with serpents—whereat, terrified beyond measure, they rushed to the
steeper part of the Acropolis and threw themselves down from the rock.
Therein they were not alone, for it is also related that the father of
Theseus had also thrown himself down from this eminence in despair,
because he beheld his son’s ship returning from Crete with black sails,
imagining therefrom that the Minotaur had triumphed over his heroic son,
when the reverse was the fact.

The complicated character of the Erechtheum is further emphasized by the
fact that a portion of it was supposed to shelter the gash made by
Poseidon with his trident when he was contending with Athena for the
land, as well as the olive tree that Athena caused to grow out of the
rock. The two relics were naturally held in veneration, and it was the
story that in the cleft made by the trident there was a salt spring, or
“sea” as Herodotus calls it, which gave forth to the ear a murmuring
like that of the ocean. The cleft is still there. The olive tree,
unfortunately, has disappeared. It was there when the Persian horde came
to Athens, however, if we may believe Herodotus; and tradition says that
after the invaders had burned the Acropolis over, the tree-stump
immediately put forth a shoot which was in length a cubit, as a sign
that the deity had not abandoned the city. It had been the custom of the
place to deposit a cake of honey at stated intervals in the temple door
for the food of the sacred serpents; and when, on the arrival of the
Persians, this cake remained untouched, the inhabitants were convinced
that even the god had left the Acropolis and that naught remained but
ruin. The renewed and miraculous life of the olive tree dispelled this
error. The Erechtheum in part overlaps the oldest precinct sacred to
Athena, where stood an earlier temple supposed to have contained the
sacred image of the goddess, made of wood, which came down from heaven.
For exact and detailed descriptions of the Erechtheum and its uses, the
reader must once again turn to the archæologists. As for its external
features, the most famous of all is unquestionably the caryatid portico,
in which the roof is borne up by a row of graceful, but undeniably
sturdy, marble maidens. The use of the caryatid, always unnatural, is
here rather successful on the whole, for the beholder derives no
sensation that the maidens are restive under the weight imposed on them.
They are entirely free from any indictment of grotesqueness.
Nevertheless, it is questionable whether the portico is altogether
pleasing. One of the figures is, as is well known, a reproduction of the
one Lord Elgin carried away to the British Museum, but the remainder of
the six are the original members.

The Acropolis Museum serves to house a great many interesting fragments
found on the spot, including a host of archaic representations of
Athena, still bearing ample traces of the paint which the Greeks used so
lavishly on their marble statues. This use of pigment might seem to have
been a very doubtful exhibition of taste, as judged by modern standards,
not only in its application to statues, but in the decoration of marble
temples as well. It is hard for us to-day, accustomed to pure white
marble sculpture, to imagine any added beauty from painting the hair,
eyes, and garments of a statue; or to conceive how the polychromy so
commonly made use of in bedecking such masterpieces as the Parthenon
could have been anything but a blemish. Nevertheless, the fact that the
Greeks did it, and that they were in all else so consummately tasteful,
makes it entirely probable that their finished statues and edifices thus
adorned were perfectly congruous—especially under that brilliant sky and
surrounded by so many brilliant costumes. From the surviving multitude
of statues of Athena, it is evident that the Greeks conceived her as a
woman of majestic mien, rather almond-eyed, and possessed of abundant
braids of the ruddy hair later vouchsafed to Queen Elizabeth. The more
rudimentary figure of the “Typhon,” also preserved in this museum, which
was doubtless a pedimental sculpture from some earlier acropolitan
temple, bears abundant traces of paint on its body and on the beards of
its triple head. It is too grotesque to furnish much of an idea of the
use of paint on such statues as the great masters later produced. The
remnants of the Parthenon frieze give little or no trace of any of the
blue background, such as was commonly laid on to bring out the figures
carved on such ornaments, nor are there any traces remaining of
polychrome decoration on the Parthenon itself.

The Acropolis, of course, has not escaped the common fate of all similar
celebrated places—that of being “done” now and then by parties of
tourists in absurdly hasty fashion, that to the lover of the spot seems
little less than sacrilege. It is no infrequent sight to see a body of
men and women numbering from a dozen to over a hundred, in the keeping
of a voluble courier, scampering up the steps of the Propylæa, over the
summit, through the two temples, in and out of the museum, and down
again, amply satisfied with having spent a half hour or even less among
those immortal ruins, and prepared to tell about it for the rest of
their days. It is a pity, as it always is, to see a wonder of the world
so cavalierly treated. Still, one hesitates to say that rather than do
this, one should never visit the Acropolis of Athens. It is better to
have looked for a moment than never to have looked at all. The Acropolis
is no place to hurry through. Rather is it a spot to visit again and
again, chiefly toward sunset, not merely to wander through the ruins, or
to rest on the steps of the Parthenon musing over the remote past to
which this place belongs, but also to see the sun sink to the west as
Plato and Socrates must often have seen it sink from this very place,
behind the rugged sky-line of the Argolid, which never changes,
lengthening the purple shadows of the hills on the peaceful plain and
touching the golden-brown of the temples with that afterglow which, once
seen, can never be forgotten.

The gates of the Acropolis are closed at sunset by the guards, and
lingering visitors are insistently herded into groups and driven
downward to the gate like sheep by the little band of blue-coated
custodians. Still, they are not hard-hearted, and if a belated visitor
finds the outer gates locked a trifle before sunset, as often happens
with the idea of preventing needless ascent, a plea for “pende lepta”
(five minutes) is likely to be honored even without a petty bribe. But
at last every one must go, and the holy hill of Athena is left
untenanted for one more of its endless round of nights. A visit to the
Acropolis by moonlight is traditionally worth while, and the needful
permission is not difficult to obtain once the municipal office dealing
with such things is located. The Parthenon on a clear, moonlit night
must be indescribably lovely, even in its lamentable ruin.

Other sights of Athens, ancient and modern, are interesting, and many
are magnificent. But the Acropolis is unquestionably the best that
Athens has to show, and the Parthenon is incomparably the best of the
Acropolis. It is the first and the last spot to seek in visiting
Athena’s famous city, and the last glimpse the departing voyager—very
likely with a not unmanly tear—catches from his ship as it sails out
into the blue Ægean is of this hoary temple reposing in calm and serene
indifference to mankind on its rocky height. It has seen the worship of
Athena Parthenos give way to the reverence of another Virgin—a holier
ideal of Wisdom set up in its own precincts, and worshiped there on the
very spot where once the youth of Athens did honor to the pagan goddess.
Gods and religions have risen and departed, despots have come and gone;
but the Parthenon has stood unchanging, the unrivaled embodiment of
architectural beauty to-day, as it was when Ictinus, Mnesicles,
Pheidias, and those who were with them created it out of their combined
and colossal genius, under the wise ordainment of Pericles.


                      CHAPTER VI. ANCIENT ATHENS:
                          THE OTHER MONUMENTS


There are two favorite ways whereby those leaving the Acropolis are wont
to descend to the modern city. One lies around to the right as you leave
the gates, passing between the Acropolis and Mars Hill to the north side
of the former, where steps will be found leading down to the old quarter
and thence past Shoe Lane to Hermes Street and home. The other passes to
the south of the Acropolis along its southerly slopes, finally emerging
through an iron gate at the eastern end, whence a street leads directly
homeward, rather cleaner and sweeter than the other route but hardly as
picturesque. Since, however, this way leads to some of the other notable
remains of classic Athens, for the present let us take it.

Immediately on leaving the avenue in front of the gates of the
Acropolis, one finds a path leading eastward directly behind and above
the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, which is made conspicuous in the landscape
by the lofty stone arches remaining at its front. These arches are
blackened and bear every ear-mark of the later Roman epoch. Moreover
they strike the beholder as rather unstable, as if some day they might
fall unless removed. But their loss would be a pity, nevertheless, for
they certainly present a striking and agreeable feature to the sight
despite their lack of harmony with the received ideas of pure Greek
architecture. It hardly repays one to descend to the pit of this
commodious theatre, or rather concert hall, since one gets a very
accurate idea of it from above looking down into its orchestra over the
tiers of grass-grown seats. For more detailed inspection of ancient
theatrical structures, the Dionysiac theatre farther along our path is
decidedly more worth while, besides being much more ancient and more
interesting by association.

On the way thereto are passed several remnants of a long “stoa,” or
portico, called that of Eumenes, curiously intermingled with brick
relics of the Turkish times, and the non-archæological visitor will
hardly care to concern himself long with either. But he will doubtless
be interested to turn aside from the path and clamber up to the base of
the steeper rock to inspect the damp and dripping cave where once was an
important shrine of Asklepios, with the usual “sacred spring” still
flowing, and still surrounded with remains of the customary porticoes,
in which the faithful in need of healing once reposed themselves by
night, awaiting the cure which the vision of the god might be hoped to
bestow. The cave is now a Catholic shrine, with a picture of its
particular saint and an oil lamp burning before it. It is dank and
dismal, and for one to remain there long would doubtless necessitate the
services of Asklepios himself, or of some skillful modern disciple of
his healing art—of which, by the way, Athens can boast not a few. The
Greek seems to take naturally to the practice of medicine, and some of
the physicians, even in remote country districts, are said to possess
unusual talent.

Not far below the shrine lies the theatre of Dionysus, scooped out of
the hillside as are most Greek theatres, with a paved, semi-circular
“orchestra,” or dancing place, at its foot. Much of the original seating
capacity is concealed by the overgrowth of grass, so that one is likely
greatly to underestimate its former size. Once the seats rose far up
toward the precinct of Asklepios, and the path that to-day traverses the
slope passes through what was once the upper portion of the
amphitheatre. It is only in the lower portions that the stones still
remain in a fair state of preservation and serve to show us the manner
of theatre that the Athenians knew—the same in which the earlier
generations saw for the first time the tragedies of that famous trio of
playwrights, Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. This theatre has
undergone manifold changes since its first construction, as one will
discover from his archæological books. It is idle for us here to seek to
recall the successive alterations which changed the present theatre from
that which the ancients actually saw, or to point out the traces of each
transformation that now remain, to show that the “orchestra” was once a
complete circle and lay much farther back. It will, however, be found
interesting enough to clamber down over the tiers of seats to the bottom
and inspect at leisure the carved chairs once allotted to various
dignitaries, and bearing to this day the names of the officers who used
them. Particularly fine is the chief seat of all, the carved chair of
the high priest of Dionysus, in the very centre of the row, with its
bas-relief of fighting cocks on the chair-arms still plainly to be seen.
It is well to remember, however, that most of what the visitor sees is
of a rather recent period as compared with other Athenian monuments, for
it is stated that very little of the present visible theatre is of
earlier date than the third century B.C., while much is of even a more
recent time and is the work of the Romans. This is true, especially, of
the conspicuous carved screen that runs along behind the orchestra
space, and which may have supported the stage—if there was a stage at
all. The paved orchestra will also strike one as unusual, contrasting
with the greensward to be seen in other similar structures, such as the
theatre at Epidaurus.

The vexed question of the use of any elevated stage in Greek theatres so
divides the skilled archæologists into warring camps even to-day that it
ill becomes an amateur in the field to advance any opinion at all, one
way or the other, upon the subject. There are eminent authorities who
maintain that the use of a raised stage in such a theatre was utterly
unknown by the ancients, and that any such development can only have
come in comparatively modern times, under Roman auspices. Others insist,
and with equal positiveness, that some sort of a stage was used by the
more ancient Greeks. The arguments pro and con have waxed warm for
several years, without convincing either side of its error. It is safe
to say that American students generally incline to the view that there
was no such raised stage, agreeing with the Germans, while English
scholars appear generally to believe that the stage did exist and was
used. As just remarked, the views of mere laymen in such a case are of
small account, and I shall spare the reader my own, saying only that in
the few reproductions of Greek plays that I myself have seen, there has
been no confusion whatever produced by having the principal actors
present in the “orchestra” space with the chorus—and this, too, without
the aid of the distinguishing cothurnos, or sandal, to give to the
principals any added height. From this it seems to me not unreasonable
to contend that, if a stage did exist, it was hardly called into being
by any pressing necessity to avoid confusion, as some have argued;
while, on the contrary, it does seem as if the separation of the chief
actors to the higher level would often mar the general effect. Such a
play as the “Agamemnon” of Æschylus would, it seems to me, lose much by
the employment of an elevated platform for those actors not of the
chorus. In fact, there was no more need of any such difference in level,
to separate chorus from principal, in ancient times than there is
to-day. The ancients did, however, seek to differentiate the principals
from the chorus players, by adding a cubit unto their stature, so to
speak, for they devised thick-soled sandals that raised them above the
ordinary height. Besides this they employed masks, and occasionally even
mechanism for aerial acting, and also subterranean passages.

Whatever we may each conclude as to the existence or non-existence of an
elevated stage at the time of Pericles, we shall all agree, no doubt,
that our modern stagecraft takes its nomenclature direct from the Greek.
The “orchestra,” which in the old Greek meant the circle in which the
dancing and acting took place, we have taken over as a word referring to
the floor space filled with the best seats, and by a still less
justifiable stretch of the meaning we have come to apply it to the
musicians themselves. Our modern “scene” is simply the old Greek word
σκηνή (skèné), meaning a “tent,” which the ancient actors used as a
dressing-room. The marble or stone wall, of varying height, and pierced
by doors for the entrance and exit of actors, was called by the Greeks
the “proskenion,” or structure before the skèné, serving to conceal the
portions behind the scenes and add background to the action. The word is
obviously the same as our modern “proscenium,” though the meaning to-day
is entirely different. In ancient times the proskenion, instead of being
the arch framing the foreground of a “scene,” was the background, or
more like our modern “drop” scene. Being of permanent character and made
of stone, it generally represented a palace, with three entrances, and
often with a colonnade. At either side of the proskenion were broad
roads leading into the orchestra space, called the “parodoi,” by means
of which the chorus entered and departed on occasion, and through which
chariots might be driven. Thus, for instance, in the “Agamemnon,” that
hero and Cassandra drove through one of the parodoi into the orchestra,
chariots and all—a much more effective entrance than would have been
possible had they been forced to climb aloft to a stage by means of the
ladder represented on some of the vases as used for the purpose. The
side from which the actor entered often possessed significance, as
indicating whether he came from the country or from the sea. As for
disagreeable scenes, such as the murders which form the motif of the
Oresteian trilogy, it may not be out of place to remark that they were
almost never represented on the stage in sight of the orchestra or
spectators, but were supposed always to take place indoors, the audience
being apprized of events by groans and by the explanations of the
chorus. The ordinary theatrical performance was in the nature of a
religious ceremony, the altar of the god being in the centre of the
orchestra space, and served by the priest before the play began. And in
leaving the subject, one may add that many Greek plays required sequels,
so that they often came in groups of three, each separate from the
other, but bearing a relation to each other not unlike our several acts
of a single piece. So much for Greek theatres in general, and the
theatre of Dionysus in particular.

Leaving it by the iron gate above and plunging into a labyrinthine mass
of houses just outside, one will speedily come upon an interesting
monument called the “choragic monument of Lysicrates.” This is the only
remaining representative of a series of pedestals erected by victors in
musical or dancing fêtes to support tripods celebrating their victories.
This one, which is exceedingly graceful, has managed to survive and is a
thing of beauty still, despite several fires and vicissitudes of which
it bears traces. The street is still called the “Street of the Tripods.”


A few steps farther, and one emerges from the narrower lanes into the
broader avenues of the city, and is confronted at once by the arch of
Hadrian, which stands in an open field across the boulevard of Amalia.
It is frankly and outspokenly Roman, of course, and does not flatter the
Latin taste as compared with the Greek. It need delay nobody long,
however, for the tall remaining columns of the temple of Olympian Zeus
are just before, and are commanding enough to inspire attention at once.
To those who prefer the stern simplicity of the Doric order of columns,
the Corinthian capitals will not appeal. But the few huge, weathered
pillars, despite the absence of roof or of much of the entablature, are
grand in their own peculiar way, and the vast size of the temple as it
originally stood may serve to show the reverence in which the father of
the gods was held in the city of his great daughter, Athena. The more
florid Corinthian capital seems to have appealed to the Roman taste, and
it is to be remembered that this great temple, although begun by Greeks,
was completed in the time of Hadrian and after the dawn of the Christian
era: so that if it disappoints one in comparison with the more classic
structures of the Acropolis, it may be set down to the decadent
Hellenistic taste rather than to a flaw in the old Hellenic. As for the
Corinthian order of capital, it is supposed to have been devised by a
Corinthian sculptor from a basket of fruit and flowers which he saw one
day on a wall, perhaps as a funeral tribute. The idea inspired him to
devise a conventionalized flower basket with the acanthus leaf as the
main feature, and to apply the same to the ornamentation of the tops of
marble columns, such as these.

On the northern side of the Acropolis, down among the buildings and
alleys of the so-called “Turkish” quarter, there exist several
fragmentary monuments, which may be passed over with little more than a
word. The most complete and at the same time the most interesting of
these relics is unquestionably the “Tower of the Winds,” an octagonal
building not unlike a windmill in shape and general size, but devoted
originally to the uses of town clock and weather bureau. On its
cornices, just below the top, are carved eight panels facing the
different points of the compass, the figures in high relief representing
the several winds. The appropriate general characteristics of each wind
are brought out by the sculpture—here an old man of sour visage brings
snow and storms; another, of more kindly mien, brings gentle rain;
others bring flowers and ripening fruits. A weather-vane once surmounted
the structure. Near by, scattered among the houses, are bits of old
porticoes, sometimes areas of broken columns, and at others quite
perfect specimens still bearing their pedimental stones, testifying to
the former presence of ancient market places, or public meeting places,
in large part belonging to the later, or Roman, period. It was in this
general vicinity that the original agora, or market place, stood, no
doubt. In some of the porticoes were often to be found teachers of one
sort or another, and in one “stoa” of this kind, we are told, taught
those philosophers who, from the location of their school, came to be
called "stoics"—giving us an adjective which to-day has lost every
vestige of its derivative significance. Nothing remains of the other
famous structures that are supposed to have been located in this
vicinity, or at least nothing has been unearthed as yet, although
possibly if some of the congested and rather mean houses of the quarter
could be removed, some vestiges of this important section of the classic
city might be recovered. Nothing remains of the ancient “agora,” or
market place, in which St. Paul said he saw the altar with this
inscription, “To the unknown god.” But the Areopagus, or Mars Hill,
where Paul is supposed to have stood when he made his noble speech to
the men of Athens, is still left and well repays frequent visitation.
Its ancient fame as the place where the god Ares, or Mars, was tried for
his life, and as the place of deliberation over the gravest Athenian
affairs, has been augmented by the celebrity it derived from the
apostle’s eloquent argument, in which he commented on the activity of
the Athenian mind and its fondness for theology, a characteristic rather
inadequately brought out by the Bible’s rendering, “too superstitious.”
The Areopagus to-day is a barren rock devoid of vegetation or of any
trace of building, although rough-hewn steps here and there and a rude
leveling of the top are visible. Of the great events that have passed on
this rocky knoll not a trace remains. With reference to the Acropolis
towering above and close at hand, Mars Hill seems small, but the ascent
of it from the plain is long and steep enough. It is apparently no more
than an outlying spur of the main rock of the Acropolis, from which it
is separated by a slight depression; but it shares with the holy hill of
Athena a celebrity which makes it the object of every thoughtful
visitor’s attention. From its top one may obtain almost the best view of
the afterglow of sunset on the temples and the Propylæa of the
Acropolis, after the custodians of the latter have driven all visitors
below; and sitting there as the light fades one may lose himself readily
in a reverie in which the mighty ones of old, from Ares himself down to
the mortal sages of later days, pass in grand review, only to fade away
from the mind and leave the eloquent apostle of the newer religion
saying to the citizens gathered around him, “Whom, therefore, ye
ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you.” Let us, if we will, believe
that it was “in the midst of Mars Hill” that Paul preached his sonorous
sermon, despite a tendency among scholars to suggest that he probably
stood somewhere else, “close by or near to” rather than “in the midst
of” the spot. If we paid undue heed to these iconoclastic theories of
scientists, what would become of all our cherished legends? The traveler
in Greece loses half the charm of the place if he cannot become as a
little child and believe a good many things to be true enough that
perhaps can hardly stand the severe test of archæology. And why should
he not do this?

[Illustration: THE AREOPAGUS]

Peopled with ghostly memories also is the long, low ridge of rocky
ground to the westward, across the broad avenue that leads from the
plain up to the Acropolis, still bearing its ancient name of the “Pnyx.”
In the valley between lie evidences of a bygone civilization, the
crowded foundations of ancient houses, perhaps of the poorer class,
huddled together along ancient streets, the lines of which are faintly
discernible among the ruins, while here and there are traces of old
watercourses and drains, with deep wells and cisterns yawning up at the
beholder. Thus much of the older town has been recovered, lying as it
does in the open and beyond the reach of the present line of dwellings.
Above this mass of ruin the hill rises to the ancient assembling place
of the enfranchised citizens—the “Bema,” or rostrum, from which speeches
on public topics were made to the assembled multitude. The Bema is still
in place, backed by a wall of huge “Cyclopean” masonry. Curiously enough
the ground slopes downward from the Bema to-day, instead of upward as a
good amphitheatre for auditors should do, giving the impression that the
eloquence of the Athenian orators must literally have gone over the
heads of their audiences. That this was anciently the case appears to be
denied, however, and we are told that formerly the topography was quite
the reverse of modern conditions, made so artificially with the aid of
retaining walls, now largely destroyed. Until this is understood, the
Bema and its neighborhood form one of the hardest things in Athens to
reconstruct in memory. It is from the rocky platform of this old rostrum
that one gets the ideal view of the Acropolis, bringing out the perfect
subordination of the Propylæa to the Parthenon, and giving even to-day a
very fair idea of the appearance of the Acropolis and its temples as the
ancients saw them. Fortunate, indeed, is one who may see these in the
afternoon light standing out sharply against a background of opaque
cloud, yet themselves colored by the glow of the declining sun. Of all
the magnificent ruins in Greece, this is the finest and best,—the
Acropolis from the Bema, or from any point along the ridge of the Pnyx.

Of course that temple which is called, though possibly erroneously, the
Theseum, is one of the best preserved of all extant Greek temples of
ancient date, and is one of the most conspicuous sights of Athens, after
the Acropolis and the temples thereon. And yet, despite that fact, it
somehow fails to arouse anything like the same enthusiasm in the average
visitor. Just why this is so it may be rash to attempt to say, but I
suspect it is chiefly because the Theseum is, after all, a rather
colorless and uninspiring thing by comparison with the Parthenon,
lacking in individuality, although doubtless one would look long before
finding real flaws in its architecture or proportions. It simply suffers
because its neighbors are so much grander. If it stood quite alone as
the temple at Segesta stands, or as stand the magnificent ruins at
Pæstum, it would be a different matter. As it is, with the Parthenon
looking down from the Acropolis not far away, the Theseum loses
immeasurably in the effect that a specimen of ancient architecture so
obviously perfect ought, in all justice, to command. It seems entirely
probable that the failure of this smaller temple to inspire and lay hold
on Athenian visitors is due to the overshadowing effect of its greater
neighbors, which it feebly resembles in form without at all equaling
their beauty, and in part also, perhaps, to the uncertainty about its
name. That it was really a temple of Theseus, an early king of Athens,
seems no longer to be believed by any, although no very satisfactory
substitute seems to be generally accepted. It will remain the Theseum
for many years to come, no doubt, if not for all time. Theseus certainly
deserved some such memorial as this, and it is not amiss to believe that
the bones of the hero were actually deposited here by Cimon when he
brought them back from Scyros. The services of Theseus to the city were
great. If we may, in childlike trust, accept the testimony of legend,
Theseus was the son of King Ægeus and Æthra, but was brought up in the
supposition that he was a son of Poseidon, in the far city of Tr[oe]zen.
When he grew up, however, he was given a sword and shield and sent to
Athens, where his father, Ægeus, was king. Escaping poisoning by Medea,
he appeared at the Athenian court, was recognized by his armor, and was
designated by Ægeus as his rightful successor. He performed various
heroic exploits, freed Athens of her horrid tribute of seven boys and
seven girls paid to the Cretan Minotaur, came back triumphant to Athens
only to find that Ægeus, mistaking the significance of his sails, which
were black, had committed suicide by hurling himself in his grief from
the Acropolis; and thereupon, Theseus became king. He united the Attic
cities in one state, instituted the democracy and generously abdicated a
large share of the kingly power, devised good laws, and was ever after
held in high esteem by the city—although he died in exile at Scyros, to
which place he withdrew because of a temporary coolness of his people
toward him. Cimon brought back his bones, however, in 469 B.C., and
Theseus became a demi-god in the popular imagination. The Theseum owes
its splendid preservation to the fact that it was used, as many other
temples were, as a Christian church, sacred to St. George of Cappadocia.

[Illustration: THE THESEUM]

Infinitely more pregnant with definite interest is the precinct of the
Ceramicus, near the Dipylon, or double gate, of the city, which gave
egress to the Eleusis road on the western side of the town, the remains
of which are easily to be seen to-day. The excavations at this point
have recently been pushed with thoroughness and some very interesting
fragments have come to light, buried for all these centuries in the
“Themistoclean wall” of the city. It will be recalled that the Spartans,
being jealous of the growing power of Athens, protested against the
rebuilding of the walls. Themistocles, who was not only a crafty soul
but in high favor at Athens at the time, undertook to go to Sparta and
hold the citizens of that town at bay until the walls should be of
sufficient height for defense. Accordingly he journeyed down to Sparta
and pleaded the non-arrival of his ambassadorial colleagues as an excuse
for delaying the opening of negotiations on the subject of the wall.
Days passed and still the colleagues did not come, much to the
ostensible anxiety and disgust of Themistocles, who still asserted they
must soon arrive. Meantime every man, woman, and child in Athens was
working night and day to build those walls, heaping up outworks for the
city from every conceivable material, sparing nothing, not even the
gravestones of the Ceramicus district, in their feverish anxiety to get
the walls high enough to risk an attack. The Roman consul worked no more
assiduously at hewing down the famous bridge, nor did Horatius labor
more arduously at his task, than did Themistocles in diplomatic duel
with the men of Sparta. At last the news leaked out—but it was too late.
The walls were high enough at last, and all further pretense of a
delayed embassy was dropped. The diplomacy of the wily Themistocles had
triumphed—and by no means for the first time. Out of this so-called
Themistoclean wall there have recently been taken some of the grave
“stelae,” or flat slabs sculptured in low relief, from the places where
the harassed Athenians cast them in such haste more than four centuries
before Christ. They are battered and broken, but the figures on them are
still easily visible, and while by no means sculpturally remarkable the
relics possess an undoubted historical interest.

The tombs of the Ceramicus district, which form an important part of the
sculptural remains of Athenian art, are still numerous enough just
outside the Dipylon Gate, although many examples have been housed in the
National Museum for greater protection against weather and vandals. Of
those that fortunately remain _in situ_ along what was the beginning of
the Sacred Way to Eleusis, there are enough to give a very fair idea of
the appearance of this ancient necropolis, while the entire collection
of tombstones affords one of the most interesting and complete exhibits
to be seen in Athens. The excellence of the work calls attention to the
high general level of skill achieved by the artisans of the time, for it
is hardly to be assumed that these memorials of the dead were any more
often the work of the first Athenian artists of that day than is the
case among our own people at present.

The whole question of the Greek tomb sculpture is a tempting one, and a
considerable volume of literature already exists with regard to it. The
artistic excellence of the stelae in their highest estate, the
quaintness of the earlier efforts, the ultimate regulation of the size
and style by statute to discourage extravagance, the frequent
utilization of an older stone for second-hand uses, and a score of other
interesting facts, might well furnish forth an entire chapter. As it is,
we shall be obliged here briefly to pass over the salient points and
consider without much pretense of detail the chief forms of tomb
adornment that the present age has to show, preserved from the day when
all good Athenians dying were buried outside the gates on the Eleusinian
way. Not only carved on the stelae themselves, but also placed on top of
them, are to be seen reliefs or reproductions of long-necked amphorae,
or two-handled vases, in great numbers. These are now known to have had
their significance as referring to the unmarried state of the deceased.
They are nothing more nor less than reproductions of the vases the Greek
maidens used to carry to the spring Callirrhoë for water for the nuptial
bath, and the use of them in the tomb sculpture, on the graves of those
who died unmarried, is stated to have grown out of the idea that “those
who died unwed had Hades for their bridegroom.” These vases come the
nearest to resembling modern grave memorials of any displayed at Athens,
perhaps. The rest of the gravestones are entirely different both in
appearance and in idea from anything we are accustomed to-day to use in
our cemeteries, and it is likely to be universally agreed that they far
eclipse our modern devices in beauty. The modern graveyard contents
itself in the main with having its graves marked with an eye to
statistics, rather than artistic effect, save in the cases of the very
rich, who may invoke the aid of eminent sculptors to adorn their burial
plots. In Athens this seems not to have been so. There is very little in
the way of inscription on the stones, save for the name. The majority
are single panels containing bas-reliefs, which may or may not be
portraits of the departed.


The usual type of tomb relief of this sort seems to be a group of
figures, sometimes two, sometimes three or four, apparently representing
a leave-taking, or frequently the figure of a person performing some
characteristic act of life. Of the latter the well-known tomb of Hegeso,
representing a woman attended by her maid fingering trinkets in a jewel
casket, is as good a type as any, and it has the added merit of standing
in its original place in the street of the tombs. Others of this kind
are numerous enough in the museum. The aversion to the representation of
death itself among the ancient Greeks is well understood, and many have
argued from it that these tomb reliefs indicate an intention to recall
the deceased as he or she was in life, without suggestion of mourning.
Nevertheless, the obvious attitudes of sorrowful parting visible in many
of the tomb stelae seem to me to do violence to this theory in its full
strength. Among those which seem most indicative of this is a very
well-executed one showing three figures,—an old man, a youth, and a
little lad. The old man stands looking intently, but with a far-away
gaze, at a splendidly built but thoughtful-visaged young man before him,
while the lad behind is doubled up in a posture plainly indicating
extreme grief, with his face apparently bathed in tears. The calm face
of the youth, the grave and silent grief of the paternal-looking man,
and the unbridled emotion of the boy, all speak of a parting fraught
with intense sorrow. It might be any parting—but is it not more
reasonable to assume that it means the parting which involves no return?

The more archaic gravestones are best typified by the not unfamiliar
sculpture, in low relief, of a warrior leaning on a spear, or by the
well-known little figure of Athena, similarly poised, mourning beside
what appears to be a gravestone of a hero. It was one of the former type
that we saw exhumed from the Themistoclean wall, with the warrior’s
figure and portions of the spear still easily discernible.


It remains to speak, though very briefly and without much detail, of the
National Museum itself, which is one of the chief glories of Athens, and
which divides with the Acropolis the abiding interest and attention of
every visitor. It is in many ways incomparable among the great museums
of the world, although others can show more beautiful and more famous
Greek statues. The British Museum has the Elgin marbles from the
Parthenon, which one would to-day greatly prefer to see restored to
Athens; the Vatican holds many priceless and beautiful examples of the
highest Greek sculptural art; Munich has the interesting pedimental
figures from the temple at Ægina; Naples and Paris have collections not
to be despised; but nowhere may one find under a single roof so wide a
range of Greek sculpture, from the earliest strivings after form and
expression to the highest ultimate success, as in the Athenian National
Museum, with its priceless treasures in marble and in bronze. The wealth
of statues, large and small, quaintly primitive or commandingly lovely,
in all degrees of relief and in the round, is stupendous. And while it
may be heresy to pass over the best of the marbles for anything else, it
is still a fact that many will turn from all the other treasures of the
place to the “bronze boy” as we will call him for lack of a better name.
This figure of a youth, of more than life size and poised lightly as if
about to step from his pedestal, with one hand extended, and seemingly
ready to speak, is far less well known than he deserves to be, chiefly
because it is but a few years since the sponge divers found him in the
bed of the ocean and brought him back to the light of day. At present
nobody presumes to say whether this splendid figure represents any
particular hero. He might be Perseus, or Paris, or even Hermes. His hand
bears evidence of having at one time clasped some object, whether the
head of Medusa, the apple, or the caduceus, it is impossible to say. But
the absence of winged sandals appears to dismiss the chance that he was
Hermes, and the other identifications are so vague as to leave it
perhaps best to refer to him only as an “ephebus,” or youth. The bronze
has turned to a dark green, and such restorations as had to be made are
quite invisible, so that to all outward seeming the statue is as perfect
as when it was first cast. The eyes, inlaid with consummate skill to
simulate real eyes, surpass in lifelike effect those of the celebrated
bronze charioteer at Delphi. That a more detailed description of this
figure is given here is not so much that it surpasses the other statues
of the museum, but because it is so recent in its discovery that almost
nothing has been printed about it for general circulation.


  _National Museum, Athens_

It would be almost endless and entirely profitless to attempt any
detailed consideration of the multitude of objects of this general
sculptural nature which the museum contains, and volumes have been
written about them all, from the largest and noblest of the marbles to
the smallest of the island gems. It may not be out of place, however, to
make brief mention of the spoils of Mycenæ which are housed here, and
which reproductions have made generally familiar, because later we shall
have occasion to visit Mycenæ itself and to discuss in more detail that
once proud but now deserted city, the capital which Agamemnon made so
famous. In a large room set apart for the purpose are to be seen the
treasures that were taken from the six tombs, supposed to be royal
graves, that were unearthed in the midst of the Mycenæan agora,
including a host of gold ornaments, cups, rosettes, chains, death masks,
weapons, and human bones. Whether Dr. Schliemann, as he so fondly hoped
and claimed, really laid bare the burial place of the conqueror of Troy,
or whether what he found was something far less momentous, the fact
remains that he did exhume the bodies of a number of personages buried
in the very spot where legend said the famous heroes and heroines were
buried, together with such an array of golden gear that it seems safe to
assert that these were at any rate the tombs of royalty. If one can
divest his mind of the suspicions raised by the ever-cautious
archæologist and can persuade himself that he sees perhaps the skeleton
and sword of the leader of the Argive host that went to recapture Helen,
this Mycenæan room is of literally overwhelming interest. Case after
case ranged about the room reveals the cunningly wrought ornaments that
gave to Mycenæ the well-deserved Homeric epithet “rich-in-gold.” From
the grotesque death masks of thin gold leaf to the heavily embossed
Vaphio cups, everything bears testimony to the high perfection of the
goldsmith’s art in the pre-Homeric age. Of all this multitude of
treasures, the chief objects are unquestionably the embossed daggers and
the large golden cups, notably the two that bear the exceedingly
well-executed golden bulls, and the so-called “Nestor” cup, which, with
its rather angular shape and its double handle, reproduces exactly the
cup that Homer describes as belonging to that wise and reverend

As has been hinted, the scientific archæologists, less swept away by
Homeric enthusiasm than was Schliemann, have proved skeptical as to the
identification of the tombs which Schliemann so confidently proclaimed
at first discovery. The unearthing of a sixth tomb, where the original
excavator had looked for only five, is supposed to have done violence to
the Agamemnonian theory. But what harm can it do if we pass out of the
Mycenæan room with a secret, though perhaps an ignorant, belief that we
have looked upon the remains and accoutrements of one who was an epic
hero, the victim of a murderous queen, the avenger of a brother’s honor,
and the conqueror of a famous city? It is simply one more of those cases
in which one gains immeasurably in pleasure if he can dismiss scientific
questionings from his mind and pass through the scene unskeptical of the
heroes of the mighty past, if not of the very gods of high Olympus
themselves. It may be wrong; to a scientific investigator such guileless
trust is doubtless laughable. But on our own heads be it if therein we


                       CHAPTER VII. EXCURSIONS IN


As the admirable Baedeker well says, the stay in Athens is undoubtedly
the finest part of a visit to Greece, and it is so not merely because of
the many attractions and delights of the city itself, but because also
of the numerous short trips aside which can be made in a day’s time,
without involving a night’s absence. Such little journeys include the
ascent of Pentelicus, whose massive peak rises only a few miles away,
revealing even from afar the great gash made in his side by the ancients
in quest of marble for their buildings and statues; the ride out to the
battlefield of Marathon; the incomparable drive to Eleusis; the jaunt by
rail or sea to Sunium; and last, but by no means least, the sail over to
Ægina. Marathon has no ruins to show. Aside from the interest attaching
to that famous battleground as a site, there is nothing to call one
thither, if we except the tumulus, or mound, which marks the exact spot
of the conflict which was so important to the history of western Europe.
Neither Marathon nor Thermopylæ can offer much to-day but memories. But
Sunium, Ægina, and Eleusis possess ruins decidedly worth a visit in
addition to much scenic loveliness, and the last-named is a spot so
interwoven with the highest and best in Greek tradition that it offers a
peculiar charm.

It is perfectly possible to journey to Eleusis by train, but to elect
that method of approach is to miss one of the finest carriage rides to
be had in the vicinity of Athens. The road leads out of the city through
its unpretentious western quarter, by the “street of the tombs” to the
vale of the Cephissus, where it follows the line of the old “sacred way”
to Eleusis, over which, on the stated festivals, the procession of
torch-bearing initiates wended its way by night to the shrine of
Demeter. From the river—which to-day is a mere sandy channel most of the
year—the smooth, hard highway rises gradually from the Attic plain to
the mountain wall of Parnes, making straight for a narrow defile still
known as the Pass of Daphne. This pass affords direct communication
between the Attic and Thriasian plains, and save for the loftier valley
farther north, through which the Peloponnesian railroad runs, is the
only break in the mountain barrier. Eleusis and Attica were always so
near—and yet so far apart. When the Spartans invaded the region, Athens
felt no alarm from their proximity until they had actually entered her
own plain, so remote seemed the valley about Eleusis, despite its scant
ten miles of distance, simply because it was so completely out of sight.
As the carriage ascends the gentle rise to the pass, the plain of Attica
stretches out behind, affording an open vista from the Piræus to the
northern mountains, a green and pleasant vale despite its dearth of
trees, while the city of Athens dominates the scene and promises a fine
spectacle by sunset as one shall return from the pass at evening, facing
the commanding Acropolis aglow in the after-light.

A halt of a few moments at the top of the pass gives an opportunity to
alight and visit an old church just beside the road. It was once
adjoined by some monastic cloisters, now in ruins. Unlike most of the
Greek churches, this one possesses a quaint charm from without, and
within displays some very curious old mosaics in the ceiling. On either
side of its doorway stand two sentinel cypresses, their sombre green
contrasting admirably with the dull brown tones of the building, while
across the close, in a gnarled old tree, are hung the bells of the
church. The use of the neighboring tree as a campanile is by no means
uncommon in Greece, and a pretty custom it is. The groves were God’s
first temples; and if they are no longer so, it is yet true in Greece at
least that the trees still bear the chimes that call the devout to
prayer. Inside the building, in addition to the quaint Byzantine
decorations, one may find something of interest in the curious votive
offerings, before referred to as common in Greek churches, suspended on
the altar screen. Thanks for the recovered use of arms, eyes, legs, and
the like seem to be expressed by hanging in the church a small
white-metal model of the afflicted organ which has been so happily
restored. I believe I have called attention to this practice as a direct
survival of the old custom of the worshipers of Asklepios, which finds a
further amplification in many churches farther west,—in Sicily, for
example,—where pictures of accidents are often found hung in churches by
those who have been delivered from bodily peril and who are desirous to
commemorate the fact. In the church in Daphne Pass we found for the
first time instances of the votive offering of coins, as well as of
anatomical models. The significance of this I do not pretend to know,
but by analogy one might assume that the worshiper was returning thanks
for relief from depleted finances. The coins we saw in this church were
of different denominations, all of silver, and representing several
different national currency systems.

Behind the church on either side rise the pine-clad slopes of the Parnes
range, displaying a most attractive grove of fragrant trees, through the
midst of which Daphne’s road permits us to pass. And in a brief time the
way descends toward the bay of Salamis, shining in the sun, directly at
one’s feet, while the lofty and extensive island of that immortal name
appears behind it. So narrow are the straits that for a long time
Salamis seems almost like a part of the mainland, while the included bay
appears more like a large and placid lake than an arm of a tideless sea.
The carriage road skirts the wide curve of the bay for several level
miles, the village of Eleusis—now called Levsina—being always visible at
the far extremity of the bay and marked from afar by prosaic modern
factory chimneys. It lies low in the landscape, which is a pastoral one.
The highway winds along past a score of level farms, and at least two
curious salt lakes are to be seen, lying close to the road and said to
be tenanted by sea fish, although supplied apparently from inland
sources. They are higher in level than the bay, and there is a strong
outflow from them to the sea waters beyond. Nevertheless, they are said
to be salt and to support salt-water life.

Eleusis as a town is not attractive. The sole claim on the visitor is
found in the memories of the place and in the ruined temples, which are
in the heart of the village itself. The secret of the mysteries, despite
its wide dissemination among the Athenians and others, has been well
kept—so well that almost nothing is known of the ceremony and less of
its teaching. In a general way there is known only the fact that it had
to do with the worship of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, and that
the mysteries concerned in some way the legend of the rape of Kora
(Proserpine) by Hades (Pluto). There are hints as to certain priests,
sacred vessels, symbols and rites, some of which appear not to have been
devoid of grossness—but nothing definite is known, and probably nothing
definite ever will be. The general tone of the mysteries seems to have
been high, for no less an authority than Cicero, who was initiated into
the cult in the later and decadent days of the Greek nation, regarded
the teachings embodied in the Eleusinian rites as the highest product of
the Athenian culture, and averred that they “enabled one to live more
happily on earth and to die with a fairer hope.” It was, of course,
unlawful for anybody to reveal the secrets; and although the initiation
was apparently open to any one who should seek it, so that the number of
devotees was large during a long succession of years, the secret was
faithfully kept by reason of the great reverence in which the mysteries
were held. That some of the features verged on wanton license has been
alleged, and it may have been this that inspired the wild and brilliant
young Alcibiades to burlesque the ceremony, to the scandal of pious
Athenians and to his own ultimate undoing. For it was a trial on this
charge that recalled Alcibiades from Sicily and led to his disgrace.

The approach to the vast main temple is unusual, in that it is by an
inclined plane rather than by steps. Even to-day the ruts of chariot
wheels are to be distinguished in this approaching pavement. The temple
itself was also most unusual, for instead of a narrow cella sufficient
only for the colossal image of the deity, there was a vast nave, and
room for a large concourse of worshipers. On the side next the hillock
against which the temple was built there is a long, low flight of hewn
steps, possibly used for seats, while the many column bases seem to
argue either a second story or a balcony as well as a spacious roof.
Much of the original building is distinguishable, despite the fact that
the Romans added a great deal; for the Latin race seems to have found
the rites to its liking, so that it took care to preserve and beautify
the place after its own ideas of beauty. If the surviving medallion of
some Roman emperor which is to be seen near the entrance of the Propylæa
is a fair sample, however, one may doubt with reason the effectiveness
of the later additions to the buildings on the spot. The Roman Propylæa
was built by Appius Claudius Pulcher, but if the medallion portrait is
his own, one must conclude that the “Pulcher” was gross flattery.

The ruins are extensive, but mainly flat, so that their interest as
ruins is almost purely archæological. The ordinary visitor will find the
chief charm in the memories of the place. Of course there is a museum on
the spot, as in every Greek site. It contains a large number of
fragments from the temples and Propylæa, bits of statuary and bas-relief
having chiefly to do with Demeter and her attendant goddesses. By far
the most interesting and most perfect of the Eleusinian reliefs,
however, is in the national museum at Athens—a large slab representing
Demeter and Proserpine bestowing the gift of seed corn on the youth
Triptolemus, who is credited with the invention of the plow. For some
reason, doubtless because of the hospitality of his family to her,
Triptolemus won the lasting favor of Demeter, who not only gave him corn
but instructed him in the art of tilling the stubborn glebe. It seems
entirely probable that Triptolemus and Kora shared in the mystic rites
at Eleusis. As for the dying with a “fairer hope” spoken of by Cicero as
inculcated by the ceremonies of the cult, one may conjecture that it
sprang from some early pagan interpretation of the principle later
enunciated in the Scriptural “Except a grain of wheat fall into the
ground and die.”

Eleusis itself lies on a low knoll in the midst of the Thriasian plain,
which in early spring presents a most attractive appearance of fertility
on every side, appropriately enough to the traditions of the spot. From
the top of the hillock behind the great temple and the museum, one
obtains a good view of the vale northward and of the sacred way winding
off toward Corinth by way of Megara. Where the plain stops and the
mountain wall approaches once again close to the sea, this road grows
decidedly picturesque, recalling in a mild way the celebrated Amalfi
drive as it rises and falls on the face of the cliff. Nor should one
pass from the subject of Eleusis without mentioning the numerous little
kids that frisk over the ruins, attended by anxious mother-goats, all
far from unfriendly. Kids are common enough sights in Greece, and to
lovers of pets they are always irresistible; but nowhere are they more
so than at Eleusis, where they add their mite of attractiveness to the
scene. The grown-up goat is far from pretty, but by some curious
dispensation of nature the ugliest of animals seem to have the most
attractive young, and the frisking lambs and kids of Greece furnish
striking examples of it.

The ride back to the city must be begun in season to get the sunset
light on the west front of the Acropolis, which is especially effective
from the Eleusis road all the way from Daphne’s Pass to the city proper.
As for Salamis, which is always in sight until the pass is crossed, it
is enough to say that, like Marathon, it is a place of memories only.
The bay that one sees from the Eleusis road is not the one in which the
great naval battle was fought. That lies on the other side, toward the
open gulf, and is best seen from the sea. Few care to make a special
excursion to the island itself, which is rocky and barren, and after all
the chief interest is in its immediate waters. The account of the battle
in Herodotus is decidedly worth reading on the spot, and to this day
they will show you a rocky promontory supposed to have been the point
where Xerxes had his throne placed so that he might watch the fight
which resulted so disastrously to his ships. The battle, by the way, was
another monument to the wiles of Themistocles, who recognized in the
bulwarks of the ships the “wooden walls” which the oracle said would
save Athens, and who, when he found the commanders weakening, secretly
sent word to the Persians urging them to close in and fight. This was
done; and the navy being reduced to the necessity of conflict acquitted
itself nobly.

Of the other local excursions, that to Marathon is easily made in a day
by carriage. There is little to see there, save a plain, lined on the
one hand by the mountains which look on Marathon, and on the other by
the sea, largely girt with marshes. The lion which once crowned the
tumulus is gone, nobody knows whither. It is much, however, from a
purely sentimental point of view, to have stood upon the site itself,
the scene of one of the world’s famous battles. Some grudging critics,
including the erudite Mahaffy, incline to believe that Marathon was a
rather small affair, judged by purely military standards—a conflict of
one undisciplined host with an even less disciplined one, in an age when
battles ordinarily were won by an endurance of nerve in the face of a
hand-to-hand charge rather than by actual carnage. These maintain that
the chief celebrity of Marathon rests not on its military glories, but
on the fame which the Athenians, a literary race, gave it in song and
story. But even these have to admit that Marathon meant much to history,
and that the psychological effect of it was enormous, as showing that
the Persians were by no means invincible, so that ten years later
Salamis put the finishing blow to Persian attempts on the west. For
those who do not care to make the long ride to the field itself, it is
quite possible to obtain a view of the plain from the summit of
Pentelicus, something like fifteen miles away, although this does not
reveal the mound marking the actual site.

That mountain’s chief celebrity is, of course, to be found in the great
marble quarries from which came the stone for the Acropolis temples, and
it is these rather than the view of Marathon that draw climbers to the
famous height. The ancient quarries lie far up on the side of the slope,
and the marks of the old chisels are still plainly to be discerned. The
difficulties of getting out perfect stone in the ancient days seem to
have been enormous; but that they were surmounted is obvious from the
fact that the great blocks used in building the Parthenon and Propylæa
were handled with comparative speed, as shown by the relatively few
years occupied in erecting them. It seems probable that the stone was
slid down the mountain side in chutes to the point where it was feasible
to begin carting it. Inherent but invisible defects naturally occurred,
and these the ancients managed to detect by sounding with a mallet.
Samples of these imperfect blocks are to be seen lying where they fell
when the builders rejected them, not only on the road by the quarries
but on the Acropolis itself.

[Illustration: THE TEMPLE AT SUNIUM]

Sunium, the famous promontory at the extremity of the Attic peninsula,
may be reached by a train on the road that serves the ancient silver
mines of Laurium, but as the trains are slow and infrequent it is
better, if one can, to go down by sea. Our own visit was so made, the
vessel landing us accommodatingly at the foot of the promontory on which
a few columns of the ancient temple are still standing. The columns that
remain are decidedly whiter than those on the Acropolis, and the general
effect is highly satisfying to one’s preconceived ideas of Greek ruins.
Dispute is rife as to the particular deity to whom this shrine was
anciently consecrated, and the rivalry lies between those traditional
antagonists, Athena and Poseidon, each of whom advances plausible
claims. How the case can be decided without another contest between the
two, like that supposed to have taken place on the Acropolis itself and
depicted by Pheidias, is not clear. For who shall decide when doctors of
archæology disagree?

The chief architectural peculiarity of the Sunium temple is the
arrangement of its frontal columns "in antis,"—that is to say, included
between two projecting ends of the side walls. And, in addition, one
regrets to say that the ruin is peculiar in affording evidences of
modern vandalism more common in our own country than in Hellas, namely,
the scratching of signatures on the surface of the stone. All sorts of
names have been scrawled there,—English, French, Italian, American,
Greek,—and most famous of all, no doubt, the unblushing signature of no
less a personage than Byron himself! Perhaps, however, it is not really
his. There may be isolated instances of this low form of vandalism
elsewhere, but I do not recall any that can compare with the volume of
defacing scrawls to be seen at Sunium.

Lovelier far than Sunium is the situation of the temple in Ægina,
occupying a commanding height in that large and lofty island on the
other side of the gulf, opposite the Piræus and perhaps six or seven
miles distant from that port. The journey to it is necessarily by sea,
and it has become a frequent objective point for steamer excursions
landing near the temple itself rather than at the distant town. In the
absence of a steamer, it is possible to charter native boats for a small
cost and with a fair breeze make the run across the bay in a
comparatively brief time. From the cove where parties are generally
landed the temple cannot be seen, as the slopes are covered with trees
and the shrine itself is distant some twenty minutes on foot. Donkeys
can be had, as usual, but they save labor rather than time, and the
walk, being through a grove of fragrant pines, is far from arduous or
fatiguing. The odor of the pines is most agreeable, the more so because
after one has sojourned for a brief time in comparatively treeless
Attica one is the more ready to welcome a scent of the forest. The
pungency of the grove is due, however, less to the pine needles and
cones than to the tapping, or rather “blazing,” of the trunks for their
resin. Under nearly every tree will be found stone troughs, into which
the native juice of the tree oozes with painful slowness. The resin, of
course, is for the native wines, which the Greek much prefers flavored
with that ingredient. The drinking of resinated wine is an acquired
taste, so far as foreigners are concerned. Some solemnly aver that they
like it,—and even prefer it to the unresinated kind; but the average man
not to the manner born declares it to be only less palatable than
medicine. The Greeks maintain that the resin adds to the healthfulness
of the wines, and to get the gum they have ruined countless pine groves
by this tapping process so evident in the Ægina woods, for the gashes
cut in the trees have the effect of stunting the growth.

After a steady ascent of a mile or so, the temple comes suddenly into
view, framed in a foreground of green boughs, which add immensely to the
effectiveness of the picture, and which make one regret the passing of
the Greek forests in other places. Once upon a time the ordinary temple
must have gained greatly by reason of its contrast with the foliage of
the surrounding trees; but to-day only those at Ægina and at Bassæ
present this feature to the beholder. This Ægina temple is variously
attributed to Athena and to Zeus Panhellenius, so that, as at Sunium,
there is a chance for doubt. The chief peculiarity seems to be that the
entrance door, which is as usual in the eastern side, is not exactly in
the centre of the cella. The columns are still standing to a large
extent, but the pedimental sculptures have been removed to Munich, so
that the spot is robbed, as the Acropolis is, of a portion of its charm.
It is a pity, because the Æginetan pedimental figures were most
interesting, furnishing a very good idea of the Æginetan style of
sculpture of an early date. The figures which survive, to the number of
seventeen, in a very fair state of preservation, represent warriors in
various active postures, and several draped female figures, including a
large statue of Athena. Those who have never seen these at Munich are
doubtless familiar with the reproductions in plaster which are common in
all first-class museums boasting collections of Greek masterpieces.


[Illustration: THE TEMPLE AT ÆGINA]

The island of Ægina, which is large and mountainous, forms a conspicuous
feature of the gulf in which it lies. It is close to the Peloponnesian
shore, and from the temple a magnificent view is outspread in every
direction, not only over the mountains of the Argolid but northward
toward Corinth,—and on a clear day it is said that even the summit of
Parnassus can be descried. Directly opposite lies Athens, with which
city the island long maintained a successful rivalry. The chief
celebrity of the spot was achieved under its independent existence,
about the seventh century B.C., and before Athens subjugated it. It was
then tenanted by colonists from Epidaurus, who had the commercial
instinct, and who made Ægina a most prosperous place. The name is said
to be derived from the nymph Ægina, who was brought to the island by
Zeus. The hardy Æginetan sailors were an important factor in the battle
of Salamis, to which they contributed not only men but sacred images;
and they were not entirely expelled from their land by the Athenian
domination until 431 B.C. Thereafter the prominence of the city dwindled
and has never returned.

It remains to describe an excursion which we made to the north of Athens
one day shortly after Easter, to witness some peasant dances. These
particular festivities were held at Menidi, and were rather less
extensive than the annual Easter dances at Megara, but still of the same
general type; and as they constitute a regular spring feature of Attic
life, well worth seeing if one is at Athens at the Easter season, it is
not out of place to describe them here. Either Megara or Menidi may be
reached easily by train, and Menidi is not a hard carriage ride, being
only six miles or so north of Athens, in the midst of the plain. It may
be that these dances are direct descendants of ancient rites, like so
many of the features of the present Orthodox church; but whatever their
significance and history, they certainly present the best opportunity to
see the peasantry of the district in their richest gala array, which is
something almost too gorgeous to describe.

The drive out to the village over the old north road was dusty and hot,
and we were haunted by a fear that the dances might be postponed, as
occasionally happens. These doubts were removed, however, when Menidi at
last hove in sight as we drove over an undulation of the plain and came
suddenly upon the village in holiday dress, flags waving, peasant girls
and swains in gala garb, and streets lined with booths for the vending
of sweetmeats, Syrian peanuts, pistachio nuts, loukoumi, and what the
New England merchant would call “notions.” Indeed, it was all very
suggestive of the New England county fair, save for the gorgeousness of
the costumes. The streets were thronged and everybody was in a high
good-humor. What it was all about we never knew. Conflicting reports
were gleaned from the natives, some to the effect that it was, and some
that it was not, essentially a churchly affair; but all agreed
apparently that it had no connection with the Easter feast, although it
was celebrated something like five days thereafter. Others mentioned a
spring as having something to do with it,—suggesting a possible pagan
origin. This view gained color from the energy with which lusty youths
were manipulating the town pump in the village square, causing it to
squirt a copious stream to a considerable distance,—a performance in
which the bystanders took an unflagging and unbounded delight. That the
celebration was not devoid of its religious significance was evident
from the open church close by thronged with devout people coming and
going, each obtaining a thin yellow taper to light and place in the huge
many-branched candelabrum. The number of these soon became so great that
the priests removed the older ones and threw them in a heap below, to
make room for fresh-lighted candles. Those who deposited coins in the
baptismal font near the door were rewarded with a sprinkling of water by
the attendant priest, who constantly dipped a rose in the font and shook
it over those who sought this particular form of benison.

Outside, the square was thronged with merrymakers, some dancing in the
solemn Greek fashion, in a circle with arms extended on each others’
shoulders, moving slowly around and around to the monotonous wail of a
clarionet. Others were seated under awnings sipping coffee, and to such
a resort we were courteously escorted by the local captain of the
gendarmerie, whose acquaintance we had made in Athens and who proved the
soul of hospitality. Here we sat and drank the delicious thick coffee,
accompanied by the inevitable huge beaker of water drawn from the rocky
slopes of Parnes, and watched the dancers and the passing crowds. The
dress of the men was seldom conspicuous. Many wore European clothes like
our own, although here and there might be seen one in the national
costume of full white skirts and close-fitting leggings, leather wallet,
and zouave jacket. But the women were visions of incomparable
magnificence. Their robes were in the main of white, but the skirts were
decked with the richest of woolen embroideries, heavy and thick,
extending for several inches upward from the lower hem, in a profusion
of rich reds, blues, and browns. Aprons similarly adorned were worn
above. Most impressive of all, however, were the sleeveless overgarments
or coats, such as we had seen and bickered over in Shoe Lane,—coats of
white stuff, bordered with a deep red facing and overlaid with intricate
tracery in gold lace and gold braid. These were infinitely finer than
any we had seen in the Athens shops, and they made the scene gay indeed
with a barbaric splendor. To add to the gorgeousness of the display, the
girls wore flat caps, bordered with gold lace and coins, giving the
effect of crowns, flowing veils which did not conceal the face but fell
over the shoulders, and on their breasts many displayed a store of gold
and silver coins arranged as bangles—their dowries, it was explained.
Most of these young women were betrothed, it developed, and custom
dictated this parade of the marriage portion, which is no small part of
the Greek wedding arrangement. The cuffs of the full white sleeves were
embroidered like the aprons and skirt bottoms, and the whole effect was
such as to be impossible of adequate description.


One comely damsel, whose friends clamored us to photograph her,
scampered nimbly into her courtyard, only to be dragged forth bodily by
a proud young swain, who announced himself her betrothed and who
insisted that she pose for the picture, willy-nilly,—which she did,
joining amiably in the general hilarity, and exacting a promise of a
print when the picture should be finished. The ice once broken, the
entire peasant population became seized with a desire to be
photographed, and it was only the beginning of the great dance that
dissolved the clamoring throng.

The dance was held on a broad level space, just east of the town, about
which a crowd had already gathered. We were escorted thither and duly
presented to the demarch, or mayor, who bestowed upon us the freedom of
the city and the hospitality of his own home if we required it. He was a
handsome man, dressed in a black cut-away coat and other garments of a
decidedly civilized nature, which seemed curiously incongruous in those
surroundings, as indeed did his own face, which was pronouncedly
Hibernian and won for him the sobriquet of "O'Sullivan" on the spot. His
stay with us was brief, for the dance was to begin, and nothing would do
but the mayor should lead the first two rounds. This he did with much
grace, though we were told that he did not relish the task, and only did
it because if he balked the votes at the next election would go to some
other aspirant. The dance was simple enough, being a mere solemn
circling around of a long procession of those gorgeous maidens,
numbering perhaps a hundred or more, hand in hand and keeping time to
the music of a quaint band composed of drum, clarionet, and a sort of
penny whistle. The demarch danced best of all, and after two stately
rounds of the green inclosure left the circle and watched the show at
his leisure, his face beaming with the sweet consciousness of political
security and duty faithfully performed.

How long the dance went on we never knew. The evening was to be marked
by a display of fireworks, the frames for which were already in evidence
and betokened a magnificence in keeping with the costumes of the
celebrants. For ourselves, satiated with the display, we returned to our
carriage laden with flowers, pistachio nuts, and strings of beads
bestowed by the abundant local hospitality, and bowled home across the
plain in time to be rewarded with a fine sunset glow on the Parthenon as
a fitting close for a most unusual and enjoyable day.


                          CHAPTER VIII. DELPHI


The pilgrimage to Delphi, which used to be fraught with considerable
hardship and inconvenience, is happily so no longer. It is still true
that the Greek steamers plying between the Piræus and Itea, the port
nearest the ancient oracular shrine, leave much to be desired and are by
no means to be depended upon to keep to their schedules; but aside from
this minor difficulty there is nothing to hinder the ordinary visitor
from making the journey, which is far and away the best of all ordinary
short rambles in Greece, not only because of the great celebrity of the
site itself, but because of the imposing scenic attractions Delphi has
to show. The old-time drawback, the lack of decent accommodation at
Delphi itself, or to be more exact, at the modern village of Kastri, has
been removed by the presence of two inns, of rather limited capacity, it
is true, but still affording very tolerable lodging. Indeed, hearsay
reported the newer of these tiny hostelries to be one of the best in
Greece outside of Athens, while the other quaint resort, owned and
operated by the amiable Vasili Paraskevas, one of the “local characters”
of the place, has long been esteemed by Hellenic visitors. Vasili, in
appearance almost as formidable as the ancient Polyphemus, but in all
else as gentle as the sucking dove, has felt the force of competition,
and his advertisements easily rival those of the Hotel Cecil. As a
matter of fact, the establishment is delightfully primitive, seemingly
hanging precariously to the very edge of the deep ravine that lies just
under lofty Delphi, boasting several small rooms and even the promise of
a bath-tub, although Vasili was forced to admit that his advertisement
in that respect was purely prospective and indicative of intention
rather than actuality.

The truly adventurous may still approach Delphi over the ancient road by
land from the eastward, doubtless the same highway that was taken by old
King Laios when he was slain on his way to the oracle, all unwitting of
the kinship, by his own son [OE]dipus,—possibly because of a dispute as
to which should yield the road. For the old road was a narrow one, with
deep ruts, suitable for a single chariot, but productive of frequent
broils when two such haughty spirits met on the way. To come to Delphi
over this road and to depart by sea is doubtless the ideal plan. That we
elected not to take the land voyage was due to the early spring season,
with its snows on the shoulder of Parnassus, around which the path
winds. For those less hindered by the season, it is said that the
journey overland from Livadià to Delphi, passing through the tiny hamlet
of Arákhova and possibly spending a night in the open air on Parnassus,
is well worth the trouble, and justifies the expense of a courier and
horses, both of which are necessary.

The way which we chose, besides being infinitely easier, is far from
being devoid of its interesting features. We set sail in the early
afternoon from the Piræus, passing over a glassy sea by Psyttalea, and
the famous waters in front of Salamis, to Corinth, where the canal
proved sufficiently wide to let our little craft steam through to the
gulf beyond. It was in the gathering dusk that we entered this unusual
channel, but still it was light enough to see the entire length of the
canal, along the deep sides of which electric lamps glimmered few and
faint as a rather ineffectual illuminant of the tow-path on either hand.
The walls towered above, something like two hundred feet in spots, and
never very low, making this four-mile ribbon of water between the narrow
seas a gloomy cavern indeed. It was wide enough for only one craft of
the size of our own, therein resembling the land highway to Delphi; but
fortunately, owing to the system of semaphore signals, no [OE]dipus
disputed the road with us, and we shot swiftly through the channel,
between its towering walls of rock, under the spidery railroad bridge
that spans it near the Corinth end, and out into the gulf beyond. It is
rather a nice job of steering, this passage of the canal. Everybody was
ordered off the bow, three men stood nervously at the wheel, and the
jack staff was kept centred on the bright line that distantly marked the
opening between the precipitous sides of the cleft, a line of light that
gradually widened, revealing another sea and a different land as we drew
near and looked out of our straight and narrow path of water into the
Corinthian Gulf beyond. The magnificence of the prospect would be hard
indeed to exaggerate. On either side of the narrow gulf rose billowy
mountains, the northern line of summits dominated by the snowy dome of
Parnassus, the southern by Cyllene, likewise covered with white. They
were ghostly in the darkness, which the moon relieved only a little,
shining fitfully from an overcast sky. The Corinthian Gulf is fine
enough from the railway which skirts it all the way to Patras, but it is
finer far from the sea, whence one sees both sides at once in all the
glory of their steep gray mountains. Happily the night was calm, and the
gulf, which can be as bad as the English Channel at its worst, was
smooth for once as we swung away from the little harbor of modern
Corinth and laid our course for the capes off Itea, something like forty
miles away. And thus we went to rest, the steamer plowing steadily on
through the night with Parnassus towering on the starboard quarter.

A vigorous blowing of the whistle roused the ship’s company at dawn. The
vessel was at anchor off Itea, a starveling village not at all praised
by those who have been forced to sample its meagre accommodations for a
night. Fortunately it is no longer necessary to rely on these, for one
may drive to Delphi in a few hours, and on a moonlight night the ride,
while chilly, is said to be most delightful. Arriving as we did at early
dawn, we were deprived of this experience, and set out from the village
at once on landing to cover the nine miles to Kastri, some riding in
carriages or spring carts,—locally called "sustas,"—some on mules, and
others proceeding on foot. From afar we could already see the village,
perched high on the side of the foothills of Parnassus, which rise
abruptly some three miles away across a level plain. The plain proved to
be delightful. Walled in on either hand by rocky cliffs, its whole
bottom was filled with olive trees, through which vast grove the road
wound leisurely along. Brooks babbled by through the grass of the great
orchard, and the green of the herbage was spangled with innumerable
anemones and other wild-flowers in a profusion of color. Far behind us
in the background towered the Peloponnesian mountains, and before rose
the forbidding cliffs that shut in Delphi. Above the distant Kastri,
there was always the lofty summit of Parnassus, somewhat dwarfed by
proximity and therefore a trifle disappointing to one whose preconceived
notions of that classic mountain demanded splendid isolation, but still


Naturally on this long, level plain the carriages soon passed us, and
disappeared in the hills ahead, while the footpath left the highway and
plunged off boldly into the olive grove in the general direction of
Delphi. When it attained the base of the sharp ascent of the
mountain-side, it went straight up, leaving the road to find its more
gradual way by zigzags and détours,—windings so long that it soon
developed that the carriages which so long ago had distanced us were in
turn displaced and were later seen toiling up the steep behind us! The
prospect rearward was increasingly lovely as we climbed and looked down
upon the plain. It resembled nothing so much as a sea of verdure, the
olive trees pouring into it from the uplands like a river, and filling
it from bank to bank. No wonder this plain was deemed a ground worth
fighting for by the ancients.

Despite the fact that the snows of Parnassus were apparently so near,
the climb was warm. The rocky hillside gave back the heat of the April
sun, although it was cloudy, and progress became necessarily slow, in
part because of the warmth and in larger part because of the increasing
splendor of the view. The path bore always easterly into a narrow gorge
between two massive mountains, a gorge that narrowed and narrowed as the
climb proceeded. Before very long we passed through a wayside hamlet
that lies halfway up the road, exchanged greetings with the inhabitants,
who proved a friendly people anxious to set us right on the way to
Delphi, and speedily emerged from the nest of buildings on the path
again, with Kastri always ahead and above, and seemingly as distant as
ever. It was Palm Sunday, we discovered, and the populace of the tiny
village all bore sprigs of greenery, which they pressed upon us and
which later turned out to be more political than religious in their
significance, since it was not only the day of the Lord’s triumphal
entry but the closing day of the general elections as well.

Admiration for the green and fertile valley far behind now gave place to
awe at the grim gorges before and the beetling cliffs towering overhead,
up through which, like dark chimney flues, ran deep clefts in the rock,
gloomy and mysterious, and doubtless potent in producing awe in the
ancient mind by thus adding to the impressiveness of god-haunted Delphi.
On the left the mountain rose abruptly and loftily to the blue; on the
right the cliff descended sharply from the path to the dark depths of
the ravine, while close on its other side rose again a neighboring
mountain that inclosed this ever-narrowing gulch.

At last after a three-hour scramble over the rocks we attained Kastri,
and found it a poor town lined with hovels, but, like Mount Zion,
beautiful for situation. A brawling brook, fed by a spring above, dashed
across the single street and lost itself in the depths of the ravine
below. On either hand towered the steep sides of the surrounding cliffs,
while before us the valley wound around a shoulder of the mountain and
seemingly closed completely. Kastri did not always occupy this site, but
once stood farther along around the mountain’s sharp corner, directly
over the ancient shrine itself; and it was necessary for the French
excavators who laid bare the ancient sites to have the village moved
bodily by force and arms before any work could be done,—a task that was
accomplished with no little difficulty, but which, when completed,
enabled the exploration of what was once the most famous of all Pagan
religious shrines. Curiously enough the restoration of the temples at
Delphi fell to the hands of the French, the descendants of those very
Gauls who, centuries before, had laid waste the shrines and treasuries
of Loxias. We stopped long enough at Vasili’s to sample some
"mastika,"—a native liqueur resembling anisette, very refreshing on a
warm day,—and then walked on to the ruins which lie some few minutes’
walk farther around the shoulder of the mountain.

Nothing could well be more impressive than the prospect that opened out
as we came down to the famous site itself. No outlet of the great vale
was to be seen from this point, for the gorge winds about among the
crags which rise high above and drop far below to the base of the rocky
glen. Human habitation there is none. Kastri was now out of sight
behind. On the roadside and in the more gradual slopes of the ravine
below one might find olive trees, and here and there a plane. Beyond,
through the mysterious windings of the defile runs the road to Arakhova.
It was on this spot that Apollo had his most famous shrine, the abode of
his accredited priestesses gifted with prophecy; and no fitter
habitation for the oracle could have been found by the worshipers of old
time than this gloomy mountain glen where nature conspires with herself
to overawe mankind by her grandeur.

The legend has it that Apollo, born as all the world knows in far-off
Delos, transferred his chief seat to Delphi just after his feat of
slaying the Python. He is said to have followed that exploit by leaping
into the sea, where he assumed the form of a huge dolphin (delphis), and
in this guise he directed the course of a passing Cretan ship to the
landing place at Itea, or Crissa. There, suddenly resuming his proper
shape of a beautiful youth he led the wondering crew of the vessel up
from the shore to the present site of Delphi, proclaimed himself the
god, and persuaded the sailors to remain there, build a temple and
become his priests, calling the spot “Delphi.” Tradition also asks us to
believe that there then existed on the spot a cavern, from which issued
vapors having a peculiar effect on the human mind, producing in those
who breathed them a stupor in which the victim raved, uttering words
which were supposed to be prophetic. Over this cave, if it existed, the
temple was erected; and therein the priestess, seated on a tripod where
she might inhale the vapors, gave out her answers to suppliants, which
answers the corps of priests later rendered into hexameter verses having
the semblance of sense, but generally so ambiguous as to admit of more
than one interpretation. All sorts of tales are told of the effect of
the mephitic gas on the pythoness—how she would writhe in uncontrollable
fury, how her hair would rise on her head as she poured forth her
unintelligible gibberish, and so forth; stories well calculated to
impress a credulous race “much given to religion” as St. Paul so sagely
observed. If there ever was any such cavern at all, it has disappeared,
possibly filled with the débris of the ruins or closed by earthquake.
Perhaps there never was any cave at all. In any event the wonders of the
Delphic oracle were undoubtedly explicable, as such phenomena nearly
always are, by perfectly natural facts. It has been pointed out that the
corps of priests, visited continually as they were by people from all
parts of the ancient world, were probably the best informed set of men
on earth, and the sum total of their knowledge thus gleaned so far
surpassed that of the ordinary mortal and so far exceeded the average
comprehension that what was perfectly natural was easily made to appear
miraculous. To the already awed suppliant, predisposed to belief and
impressed by the wonderful natural surroundings of the place, it was not
hard to pass off this world-wide information as inspired truth. Nor was
it a long step from this, especially for clever men such as the priests
seem to have been, to begin forecasting future events by basing shrewd
guesses on data already in hand—these guesses being received with full
faith by the worshiper as god-given prophecy. As an added safeguard the
priests often handed down their predictions in ambiguous form, as, for
example, in the famous answer sent to Cr[oe]sus, when he asked if he
should venture an expedition against Cyrus—“If Cr[oe]sus shall attack
Cyrus, he will destroy a great empire.” Such answers were of course
agreeable to the suppliant, for they admitted of flattering
interpretation; and it was only after trial that Cr[oe]sus discovered
that the “great empire” he was fated to destroy was his own. At other
times the guesses, not in ambiguous form, went sadly astray—as in the
case where the Pythian, after balancing probabilities and doubtless
assuming that the gods were always on the side of the heaviest
battalions, advised the Athenians not to hope to conquer the invading
Persians. This erroneous estimate was the natural one for informed
persons to make,—and it is highly probable that it was influenced in
part by presents from the Persian king, for such corruption of the
oracle was by no means unknown. In fact it led to the ultimate
discrediting of the oracle, and it was not long before the shrine ceased
to be revered as a fountain of good advice. Nevertheless for many
hundred years it was held in unparalleled veneration by the whole
ancient world. Pilgrims came and went. Cities and states maintained rich
treasuries there, on which was founded a considerable banking system.
Games in honor of Pythian Apollo were celebrated in the stadium which is
still to be seen high up on the mountain-side above the extensive ruins
of the sacred precinct. Temple after temple arose about the great main
shrine of the god. Even distant Cnidus erected a treasury, and
victorious powers set up trophy after trophy there for battles won by
land or sea—the politeness of the time preventing the mention of any
Hellenic victim by name.

[Illustration: THE VALE OF DELPHI]

All these remains have been patiently uncovered and laboriously
identified and labeled, with the assistance of the voluminous writings
of that patron saint of travelers, Pausanias. The work was done under
the direction of the erudite French school, and the visitor of to-day,
provided with the plan in his guide-book and aided by the numerous
guide-posts erected on the spot, will find his way about with much ease.
One of the buildings, the “treasury of the Athenians,” a small structure
about the size of the Niké Apteros temple, is being “restored” by the
excavators, but with rather doubtful success. Aside from this one
instance, the ruins are mainly reconstructible only in the imagination
from the visible ground-plans and from the fragments lying all about. In
the museum close by, however, some fractional restorations indoors serve
to give a very excellent idea of the appearance of at least two of the
ancient buildings.

Space and the intended scope of this narrative alike forbid anything
like a detailed discussion of the numerous ruins that line the zigzag
course of the old “sacred way.” The visitor, thanks to the ability of
the French school, is left in no doubt as to the identity of the
buildings, and the wayfaring man, though no archæologist, need not err.
One may remark in passing, however, the curious polygonal wall of curved
stones still standing along a portion of the way and still bearing the
remnant of a colonnade, with an inscription indicating that once a
trophy was set up here by the Athenians,—possibly the beaks of conquered
ships. Of course the centre and soul of the whole precinct was the great
temple of Apollo, now absolutely flat in ruins, but once a grand edifice
indeed. The Alcmæonidæ, who had the contract for building it, surprised
and delighted everybody by building better than the terms of their
agreement demanded, providing marble ends for the temple and pedimental
adornment as well, when the letter of the contract would have been
satisfied with native stone. Thus shrewdly did a family that was in
temporary disfavor at Athens win its way back to esteem!

However easy it may be to explain with some plausibility the ordinary
feats of the oracle at Delphi as accomplished by purely natural means,
there was an occasional _tour de force_ that even to-day would pass for
miraculous—supposing that there be any truth in the stories as
originally told. The most notable instance was one in which Cr[oe]sus
figured. That wealthy monarch was extremely partial to oracles, and
generally consulted them before any considerable undertaking. On the
occasion in question he contemplated an expedition against Cyrus—the
same which he eventually undertook because of the enigmatic answer
before referred to—and made extraordinary preparations to see that the
advice given him was trustworthy. For Cr[oe]sus, with all his credulity,
was inclined to be canny, and proposed to test the powers of the more
famous oracular shrines by a little experiment. So he sent different
persons, according to Herodotus, to the various oracles in Greece and
even in Libya, "some to Phocis, some to Dodona, others to Amphiaraus and
Trophonius, and others to Branchidæ of Milesia, and still others to
Ammon in Libya. He sent them in different ways, desiring to make trial
of what the oracle knew, in order that, if they should be found to know
the truth, he might send a second time to inquire whether he should
venture to make war on the Persians. He laid upon them the following
orders: That, computing the days from the time of their departure from
Sardis, they should consult the oracles on the hundredth day by asking
what Cr[oe]sus, the son of Alyattes, was then doing. They were to bring
back the answer in writing. Now what the answers were that were given by
the other oracles is mentioned by none; but no sooner had the Lydian
ambassadors entered the temple at Delphi and asked the question than the
Pythian spoke thus, in hexameter verse: 'I know the number of the sands
and the measure of the sea; I understand the dumb and hear him that does
not speak; the savor of the hard-shelled tortoise boiled in brass with
the flesh of lambs strikes on my senses; brass is laid beneath it and
brass is put over it.' Now of all the answers opened by Cr[oe]sus none
pleased him but only this. And when he had heard the answer from Delphi
he adored it and approved it, and was convinced that the pythoness of
Delphi was a real oracle because she alone had interpreted what he had
done. For when he sent out his messengers to the several oracles,
watching for the appointed day, he had recourse to the following
contrivance, having thought of what it was impossible to discover or
guess at. He cut up a tortoise and a lamb and boiled them himself
together in a brazen caldron, and laid over it a cover of brass."[1]


Footnote 1:

  Herodotus, Book I, sections 46-48.

Thus, on one occasion, the oracle is supposed to have performed a feat
of what we should now set down as telepathy, and which, if it really
happened, would be explicable in no other way. It sufficed to establish
Delphi as a shrine to be revered, in the mind of Cr[oe]sus, and to
propitiate the god he sent magnificent gifts. And as these may serve to
give some idea of the vast riches of the spot in bygone ages, it may be
well to relate here what Cr[oe]sus is supposed to have sent. Herodotus
relates that he made a prodigious sacrifice, in the flames of which he
melted down an incredible amount of gold and silver. "Out of the metal
thus melted down he cast half-bricks, of which the longest was six palms
in length, the shortest three; and in thickness, each was one palm.
Their number was one hundred and seventeen. Four of these, of pure gold,
weighed each two talents and a half. The other bricks, of pale gold,
weighed two talents each. He made also the figure of a lion, of fine
gold, weighing ten talents. This lion, when the temple at Delphi was
burned down, fell from its pedestal of half-bricks, for it was placed
upon them. It now lies in the treasury of the Corinthians, weighing only
six talents and a half,—for three talents and a half were melted from it
in the fire. Cr[oe]sus, having finished these things, sent them to
Delphi, and with them the following: two large bowls, one of gold and
one of silver. The golden one was placed on the right as one enters the
temple, and that of silver on the left; but they were removed when the
temple was burning, and the gold bowl was set in the treasury of the
Clazomenæ; while the silver one, which contains six hundred amphorae,
lies in a corner of the Propylæa, and is used for mixing wine on the
Theophanian festival. The Delians said it was the work of Theodorus the
Samian, which was probably true, for it was no common work. He sent also
four casks of silver, which also stand in the Corinthian treasury; and
he dedicated two lustral vases, one of gold and the other of silver. The
Spartans claim that the golden one was their offering, for it bears an
inscription, ‘From the Lacedæmonians;’ but this is wrong, for Cr[oe]sus
gave it. He sent many other offerings, among them some round silver
covers, and also a golden statue of a woman, three cubits high, which
the Delphians say is the image of Cr[oe]sus’s baking-woman. And to all
these things he added the necklaces and girdles of his wife."[2]

Such is the account given by Herodotus of the gifts bestowed by the king
regarded as the richest of all the ancient monarchs. In return for his
gifts he got the answer that “if Cr[oe]sus shall make war on the
Persians he will destroy a mighty empire.” Cr[oe]sus was so delighted at
this that he sent more gifts, “giving to each of the inhabitants of
Delphi two staters of gold.” A further question as to how long he was
destined to rule elicited the response, “When a mule shall become king
of the Medes, then, tender-footed Lydian, flee over the pebbly Hermus;
nor delay, nor blush to be a coward.” There is even less of apparent
enigma about that statement; yet nevertheless Cr[oe]sus lived to see the
day when a man, whom he deemed a “mule,” did become ruler of the Medes,
and he likewise saw his own mighty empire destroyed. The case of
Cr[oe]sus is typical in many ways of the attitude of the ancients toward
the oracle,—their belief in it as inspired, and their frequent attempts
to predispose it to favor by gifts of great magnificence. Not everybody
could give such offerings as Cr[oe]sus, to be sure. But the presents
piled up in the buildings of the sacred precinct must have been of
enormous value, and the contemplation of them somewhat overpowering. By
the way, recent estimates have been published showing that the wealth of
Cr[oe]sus, measured by our modern standards, would total only about


Footnote 2:

  Herodotus, Book I, sections 50-51.

Doubtless the awe felt for the spot sufficed in the main to protect the
treasures from theft. When Xerxes came into Greece and approached the
shrine, the inhabitants proposed that the valuables be buried in the
earth. Ph[oe]bus, speaking through the priestess, forbade this, however,
saying that “he was able to protect his own.” And, in fact, he proved to
be so, for the approaching host were awed by the sight of the sacred
arms of the god, moved apparently by superhuman means from their armory
within the temple to the steps outside. And moreover while the invaders
were approaching along the vale below, where the temple of Athena
Pronoia still stands, a storm broke, and two great crags were dashed
from the overhanging cliffs above, killing some and demoralizing the
rest. A war shout was heard from the temple of Athena, and the Delians,
taking heart at these prodigies, swept down from the hills and destroyed
many of the fleeing Medes.

The most successful attempt to prejudice and corrupt the oracle seems to
have been that of the Alcmæonidæ, who have been referred to as the
builders of the great temple after its destruction by fire. They had
been driven out of Athens by the Pisistratidæ, and during their exile
they contracted with the Amphictyons to rebuild the great shrine of
Apollo. That they imported Parian marble for the front of the edifice
when the contract would have been amply satisfied with Poros stone seems
to have been less a disinterested act than an effort to win the favor of
the god. The Athenians long maintained that the builders still further
persuaded the oracle by gifts of money to urge upon the Spartans the
liberation of Athens from the tyrants; and in the end the Pisistratidæ
were driven out, in obedience to this mandate, while the Alcmæonidæ came
back in triumph, as had been their design from the first.

It was rather a relief at last to turn from the bewildering array of
ruins to the museum itself. It is not large, but it contains some
wonderfully interesting things, and chief of all, no doubt, the bronze
figure of the charioteer. I cannot bring myself to believe that he
surpasses the bronze “ephebus” at Athens, whom he instantly recalls both
from the material and from the treatment of the eyes; but he is
wonderful, nevertheless, as he stands slightly leaning backward as one
might in the act of driving, the remnants of a rein still visible in one
hand. His self-possession and rather aristocratic mien have often been
remarked, and a careful examination will reveal what is doubtless the
most curious thing about the whole statue—namely, the little fringe of
eye-lashes, which those who cast the image allowed to protrude around
the inlaid eye-ball. They might easily be overlooked by a casual
observer, but their effect is to add a subtle something that gives the
unusual naturalness to the eyes. One other statue, a marble replica of
an original bronze by Lysippus, deserves a word of comment also, because
it is held by good authorities to be a better example of the school of
Lysippus than the far better known “Apoxyomenos” in the Braccio Nuovo at
Rome. Each of the figures is the work of a pupil of Lysippus, but the
claim is made that the copy of a youth at Delphi was doubtless made by a
pupil working under the master’s own supervision, while the Apoxyomenos
was carved after Lysippus had died. From this it is natural enough to
infer that the Delphi example is a more faithful reproduction than the
Vatican’s familiar figure. In this museum also is a carved stone which
is known as the “omphalos,” because of its having marked the supposed
navel of the earth. The legend is that Zeus once let fly two eagles from
opposite sides of the world, bidding them fly toward one another with
equal wing. They met at Delphi, which therefore shares this form of
celebrity with Dodona in Epirus.


Of course we visited the Castalian spring, which still gushes forth from
a cleft in the rock, as it did in the days when suppliants came thither
first of all to purify themselves. After a long journey one is not loath
to rest beside this ancient fount after washing and drinking deep of its
unfailing supply, for the water is good and the chance to drink fresh
water in Greece is rare enough to be embraced wherever met. The cleft
from which the spring emerges is truly wonderful. It is narrow and dark
enough for a colossal chimney, running far back into the bowels of the
mountain heights behind. An old stone trough hewn out of the side of the
cliff was once filled by this spring, but the flow has now been diverted
and it runs off in a babbling stream over the pebbles. Not the least
inspiring thing at Delphi is to stand here and reflect, as one enjoys
the Castalian water, how many of the great in bygone ages stood on this
very spot and listened to the same murmur of this brook which goes on

Hard by the spring, under two great plane trees that we fondly believed
were direct descendants of those planted on the spot by Agamemnon, we
sat down to lunch, a stone khan across the way affording shelter and
fire for our coffee. And in the afternoon we rambled among the ruins
below on the grassy slopes of the lower glen, where are to be seen a
ruined gymnasium, a temple of Athena Pronoia, and a fascinating circular
“tholos,” all of which, though sadly shattered, still present much
beauty of detail. If the site were devoid of every ruined temple it
would still be well worth a visit, not merely from the importance it
once enjoyed as Apollo’s chief sanctuary, but also for the grandeur and
impressiveness of its setting, so typical of Greece at her best.
Fortunate indeed are those who may tarry here awhile, now that local
lodging has been robbed of its ancient hardships. To-day, as in the days
of the priests, Delphi is in touch with the uttermost parts of the earth
by means of the telegraph, the incongruous wires of which accompany the
climber all the way from Itea, so that details of arrival, departure, or
stay may be arranged readily enough from afar. Long sojourn, however,
was not to be our portion, and we were forced to depart, though with
reluctant steps, down along the rough side of the mountain, through the
vast and silent olive groves, back into the world of men, to sordid Itea
and our ship.


                       CHAPTER IX. MYCENÆ AND THE
                             PLAIN OF ARGOS


We journeyed down to Mycenæ from Athens by train. The moment the
railroad leaves Corinth it branches southward into the Peloponnesus and
into a country which, for legendary interest, has few equals in the
world. Old Corinth herself, mother of colonies, might claim a preëminent
interest from the purely historical point of view, but she must forever
subordinate herself to the half-mythical charm that surrounds ruined and
desolate Mycenæ, the famous capital of Atreus and his two celebrated
sons, Menelaus and Agamemnon. As for Corinth herself, the ancient site
has lately been explored under the auspices of the American school at
Athens, and these excavations, with the steep climb to the isolated and
lofty Acrocorinth, furnish the attractions of the place to-day. The
train runs fairly close to the mountain, so that even from the car
window the fortifications on its top may be distinguished; but evidently
they are Venetian battlements rather than old Greek remains that are
thus visible. As a purely natural phenomenon the Acrocorinth is
immensely impressive, resembling not a little the Messenian Acropolis at
Ithome. It is a precipitous rock, high enough to deserve the name of a
mountain, and sufficiently isolated to be a conspicuous feature of the
landscape for miles as you approach Corinth from the sea or from Athens
by train. Circumstances have never permitted us to ascend it, but the
view from the summit over the tumbling surface of the mountainous
Peloponnesus is said to be indescribably fine, giving the same effect as
that produced by a relief map, while the prospect northward across the
Gulf of Corinth is of course no less magnificent.

Fate ordained that we should stick to the line of the railway and
proceed directly to the site of Mycenæ, in which interest had been
whetted by the remarkable display of Mycenæan relics in the museum at
Athens, as well as by the consciousness that we were about to visit the
home of the conqueror of Troy and of his murderous queen. The train did
some steep climbing as it rounded the shoulder of the Acrocorinth, and
for two hours or so it was a steady up-grade, winding around long
valleys in spacious curves, the old road from Sparta generally visible
below. At every station the mail car threw off bundles of newspapers,
which the crowds gathered on the platform instantly snatched and
purchased with avidity. The love of news is by no means confined to
Athenians, but has spread to their countrymen; and every morning the
same scene is enacted at every railroad station in Hellas on the arrival
of the Athens train. At every stop the air was vocal with demands for
this or that morning daily, and each, having secured the journal of his
choice, retired precipitately to the shade of a near-by tree, while
those who could not read gathered near and heard the news of the world
retailed by the more learned, at second-hand. The peasant costumes were
most interesting, for we were now in the country of the shepherds, far
from the madding crowd and dressed for work. The dress of each was
substantially the same,—a heavy capote of wool, if it was at all chilly,
the tight drawers gartered below the knee, the heavy leather wallet on
the front of the belt, the curious tufted shoes whose pompons at the
toe, if large denoted newly bought gear, or if sheared small meant that
the footwear was old. For the custom is to cut down these odd bits of
adornment as they become frayed, a process that is repeated until the
tuft is entirely removed, when it is time to buy new shoes.

The landscape was most striking now. The plains were small and separated
from one another by walls of rugged hills, whose barriers were not to be
despised in days when communication was primitive and slow, and which
bore an important part in keeping the several ancient states so long
apart, instead of allowing them permanently to unite. The neighboring
peaks began to be increasingly redolent of mythology, chiefly relating
to various heroic exploits of Herakles. Indeed the train stopped at
Nemea itself, and the site of the struggle with the Nemean lion was
indicated to us from afar, while a distant summit was said to be near
the lake where were slain the Stymphalian birds. Shortly beyond the
grade began to drop sharply, until, rushing through a pass of incredible
narrowness,—the site of a bloody modern battle between the Greek
patriots and the Turks,—the train dashed out into the broad plain of
Argos, once famous as the breeder of horses. The narrow and rather
sterile valleys hemmed in by bare hills of gray rock gave place to this
immense level tract of sandy soil leading down to the sea, which gleamed
in the distance under the noonday sun. On either side of the broad
expanse of plain towered the mountain wall, always gray and bare of
trees, though in the old days it was doubtless well wooded. With the
departure of trees came the drouth, and to-day the rivers of the Argolid
are mere sandy channels, devoid of water save in the season of the
melting mountain snows.

The train halted at Phychtia, the station for Mycenæ, and there we found
waiting a respectable carriage that had seen better days in some city,
but which was now relegated to the task of conveying the curious to
various points in the Argolic plain. It was there in response to the
inevitable telegraph, which we had the forethought to employ. Otherwise
we should have had to go over to the site of Mycenæ on foot, a task
which the heat of the day rather than the distance would have made
arduous. Mycenæ to-day is absolutely deserted and desolate, lying
perhaps two miles eastward from the railway, on the spurs of two
imposing mountain peaks. Toward this point the road rises steadily, and
before long we had passed through a starveling village of peasant huts
and came suddenly upon a two-story structure bearing the portentous
sign, “Grand Hotel of Helen and Menelaus!” To outward view it was in
keeping with the rest of the hamlet, which was chiefly remarkable for
its children and dogs. It proved, on closer inspection, to be a queer
little inn, boasting a few sleeping rooms in its upper story, to be
reached only by an outside stairway. On the ground floor—which was a
ground floor in the most literal sense of that overworked expression—was
a broad room, used partly as a dining-room and partly as a store and
office. The actual eating-place was separated from the remainder of the
apartment by a grill-work of laths, or pickets, with a wicket gate,
through which not only the guests and the proprietor, but sundry dogs,
chickens, and cats passed from the main hall to the table. This, being
the only available hotel in the region, and bearing so resounding and
sonorous a title, proved irresistible. Lunch, consisting of very
excellent broiled chickens, and sundry modest concomitants, was promptly
served by a tall slip of a girl, the daughter of the house, and probably
named Helen, too. During the meal various hens, perhaps the ancestors of
our _pièces de résistance_, clucked contentedly in and out, and a
mournful hound sneaked repeatedly through the gate, only to be as
repeatedly thrust into the outer darkness of the office by the cook and
waitress. In former times, before the “Grand Hotel of Helen and
Menelaus” sprang into being, it was necessary to carry one’s food and
eat it under the shadow of the famous Lion Gate on the site of the old
town itself—a place replete with thrills. Nevertheless it seems well
that the vicinity now has a place of public entertainment, and doubly
well that it has been so sonorously named.

It may not have been more than half a mile farther to the ruins, but it
was up hill and very warm work reaching them. On either side of the high
road, where presumably once lay the real every-day city of Mycenæ, there
was little in the way of remains to be seen, save for the remarkable
avenue leading to the subterranean tomb, or treasury, of which it will
be best to speak somewhat later. The slopes were covered with grass, and
here and there a trace of very old “Cyclopean” masonry was all that
remained to bear witness to the previous existence of a city wall, or
possibly an ancient highway with a primitive arch-bridge spanning a
gully. Back over the plain the view was expansive. The several
strongholds of Agamemnon’s kingdom were all in sight,—Mycenæ, Nauplia,
Argos, and Tiryns,—at the corners of the great plain, which one might
ride all around in a day; so that from his chief stronghold on the
height at Mycenæ Agamemnon might well claim to be monarch of all he
surveyed. Behind the valley, the twin peaks at whose base the stronghold
lay rose abruptly, bearing no trace of the forests of oak that once
covered them; and on a rocky foothill stood the acropolis of the city,
admirably fitted by nature for defense. It was on this high ground that
the ruins were found, and the visitor is informed that this was the
citadel rather than the main town—the place to which the beleaguered
inhabitants might flock for safety in time of war, and in which Atreus
and his line had their palace. It was here that Dr. Schliemann conducted
his remarkable researches, of which we shall have much to say. It is a
remarkable fact that the events of the past twenty years or so have
given a most astonishing insight into the dimness of the so-called
“heroic” age—the age that long after was sung by Homer—so that it is
actually possible now to say that we know more of the daily life and
conditions of the time of Troy’s besiegers than we do of the time of
Homer himself, and more about the heroes than about those who sang their
exploits. Knowledge of the more remote periods seems to vary directly
with the distance. The dark ages, as has been sagely remarked, were too
dark altogether to admit men to read the story told by the ancient
monuments such as survived at Mycenæ, and it is only lately that light
has increased sufficiently to enable them to be understood with such
clearness that the dead past has suddenly seemed to live again. From the
remains at Mycenæ the savants have unearthed the houses, walls, palaces,
reservoirs, ornaments, weapons, and daily utensils of the pre-Homeric
age. Bones and other relics cast aside in rubbish heaps give an idea of
the daily food of the people. The tombs have revealed how they were
buried at death, and have yielded a wealth of gold ornaments showing a
marvelous skill in working metals.

This upper city of Mycenæ was built on a rock, which we soon discovered
to be separated from the rest of the mountain by ravines, leaving the
sides very steep and smooth, so that on nearly every hand the place was
inaccessible. The gorges toward the mountains were natural moats, and
wide enough to prevent assault or even the effective hurling of missiles
from above into the citadel. The stronghold, however, was vastly
strengthened by artificial construction and proved to be walled entirely
about, the fortress being especially strong on the more exposed
portions, and most especially at the main gate, where the enormous
blocks of stone and the tremendous thickness of the wall were most in
evidence. The road winds up the last steep ascent until it becomes a
mere narrow driveway, scarcely wide enough for more than a single
chariot, and right ahead appears suddenly the famed Lion Gate, flanked
on one hand by a formidable wall facing the side of the native rock, and
on the other by a projecting bastion of almost incredible thickness. The
stones are of remarkable size, hewn to a sort of rough regularity by the
Cyclopean builders, and the wonder is that, in so rude and primitive an
age, men were able to handle such great blocks with such skill. No
wonder the tale gained currency that it was the work of the Cyclopes,
imported from abroad—and indeed the tale is not without its abiding
plausibility, since there are evidences enough in scattered Ph[oe]nician
sites elsewhere to warrant the assumption that the builders of these
numerous fortresses in Argolis did come from over seas.

Of all the ruins at Mycenæ the “gate of the lions” is unquestionably the
most impressive. It spans the end of the long and narrow vestibule
between the walls of rock, its jambs made of huge upright stones that
even to-day show the slots cut for hinges and the deep holes into which
were shot the ancient bolts. Over the top is another massive single
stone, forming the lintel. It is a peculiarity of the Cyclopean doorways
at Mycenæ that the weight on the centre of the lintel is almost
invariably lightened by leaving a triangular aperture in the stonework
above, and in the main gate the immense blocks of the wall were so
disposed as to leave such an opening. Even the massive lintel of this
broad gate would probably have failed to support the pressure of the
walls had not some such expedient been devised. As it is, the light
stone slab that was used to fill the triangular opening is still in
place, and it is what gives the name to the gateway, from the rudely
sculptured lions that grace it. These two lions, minus their heads, are
sitting facing each other—“heraldically opposed,” as the phrase is—each
with his fore feet resting on the base of an altar bearing a sculptured
column, which marks the centre of the slab. The column is represented as
larger at the top than at the base, a peculiarity of the stone columns
of the Mycenæan age, and recalling the fact that the first stone pillars
were faithful copies of the sharpened stakes that had been used as
supports in a still earlier day. The missing heads of the lions were
doubtless of metal,—bronze, perhaps,—and were placed so as to seem to be
gazing down the road. They are gone, nobody knows whither. It used to be
stated that this quaint bas-relief was the “oldest sculpture in Europe,”
but this is another of the comfortable delusions that modern science has
destroyed. Nobody, however, can deny that the Gate of the Lions is
vastly impressive, or that it is so old that we may, without serious
error, feel that we are looking on something that Agamemnon himself
perhaps saw over his shoulder as he set out for Troy. Just inside the
gate we found a narrow opening in the stones, leading to a sort of
subterranean chamber, presumably for the sentry. The impression produced
by the gate and its massive flanking walls is that of absolute
impregnability, and it was easy enough to fancy the Argive javelin-men
thronging the bastion above and pouring death and destruction down upon
the exposed right hands of the invaders jammed tight in the constricted
vestibule below.

Inside the gate, the old market-place opens out, and it was here that
were discovered the tombs from which came the numerous relics seen at
Athens. The market place is still encircled by a curious elliptical
structure, which is in effect a double ring of flat stones, with slabs
laid flat across the top, forming what looks like a sort of oval bench
all around the inclosure. We were asked to believe that these actually
were seats to be occupied by the old men and councilors of the city; but
if that is the truth, there were indeed giants in the land in those
times. Other authorities conjecture that it was a retaining wall for a
sort of mound heaped up over the graves within—an hypothesis which it
seems almost as hard to adopt. Whatever the purpose of this remarkable
circle of stone slabs, it is hardly to be doubted that it did once
inclose an “agora,” and it was within this space that Schliemann sunk
his shafts and brought up so much that was wonderful from the tombs
below. Tombs in so central a spot, and filled with such a plethora of
gold, certainly might well be deemed to have been the last resting-place
of royalty, and it is agreeable to believe that they were sovereigns of
the Agamemnonian line, if the “prince of men” himself be not one of
them. It is the fashion to aver that Schliemann was too ready to jump at
conclusions prompted by his own fond hopes and preconceived ideas, and
to make little of his claim that he had unearthed the grave of the
famous warrior who overcame Priam’s city; and perhaps this is justified.
But one cannot forget that the old legend insisted that Atreus,
Agamemnon, Cassandra, Electra, Eurymedon, and several others were buried
in the market place of Mycenæ,—which was doubtless what prompted the
excavation at this point; excavations which moreover proved to be so
prolific of royal reward.

[Illustration: AGORA—MYCENÆ]

On the heights above, where it was far too steep for chariots to follow,
there is a pathway direct to the royal palace itself, which it will
doubtless do no harm to call Agamemnon’s. Of course it is practically
flat to-day, with little more than traces of the foundation, save for a
bit of pavement here and there, or a fragment of wall on which possibly
one may detect a faint surviving touch of fresco. All around the citadel
below are traces of other habitations, so congested as to preclude any
application of Homer’s epithet, “Mycenæ of the broad streets,” to this
particular section of the city. All around the summit ran the wall, even
at points where it would seem no wall was necessary. As we explored the
site the guide kept gathering handfuls of herbage that grew all about,
and speedily led us to a curious Cyclopean “arch,” made by allowing two
sloping stones to fall toward each other at the top of an approaching
row of wall-blocks, which it developed was the entrance to a
subterranean gallery that led down to the reservoir of the fort. It was
a dark and tortuous place, and its descent to the bowels of the hill was
quite abrupt, so that we did not venture very far, but allowed the guide
to creep gingerly down until he was far below; whereupon he set fire to
the grasses he had been accumulating and lighted up this interior
gallery for us. The walls of this passageway had been polished smooth
for centuries by passing goats which had rubbed against the stone, and
it gleamed and glittered in the firelight, revealing a long tunnel
leading downward and out of sight to a cavern far below, where was once
stored the water supply conveyed thither from a spring north of the
citadel. Stones cast down the tunnel reverberated for a long distance
along its slippery floor, and at last apparently came against a final
obstacle with a crash. Then came the upward rush of smoke from the
impromptu torch, and we were forced hastily to scramble out into the
open air. We returned later, however, for a passing shower swept down
from the mountains and threatened a drenching, which rendered the
shelter of the ancient aqueduct welcome indeed. It was soon over,
however, and afforded us a chance to sit on the topmost rock of the
acropolis, looking down over what was once the most important of the
Greek kingdoms, from the mountains on the north and west down to the
sea—a pleasing sight, which was cut short only by the reflection that we
had still to visit the so-called “treasury of Atreus” beside the road

This is one more of the odd structures of the place over which
controversy has raged long and fiercely, the problem being whether or
not it was a tomb. There are a number of these underground chambers near
by, but the most celebrated one just mentioned is the common type and is
completely excavated so that it is easily to be explored. The approach
is by a long cut in the hillside, walled on both sides with well-hewn
stone, the avenue terminating only when a sufficient depth had been
reached to excavate a lofty subterranean chamber. A tall and narrow door
stands at the end of this curious lane, placed against the hill, its
lintel made of a noticeably massive flat stone, with the inevitable
triangular opening over it; but in this case the block which presumably
once closed it is gone, and nobody knows whether it, like its mate at
the main gateway, bore sculptured lions or not. Within, the tomb is
shaped like an old-fashioned straw beehive, lined throughout with stone,
which bears marks indicating that it in turn was once faced with bronze
plates. It is a huge place, in which the voice echoes strangely, and it
is lighted only from the door and its triangular opening above. Just off
the northern side is a smaller chamber, where light is only to be had by
lighting some more of the dry grasses gathered without. Those who adhere
to the idea that this was a tomb maintain that the real sepulchre was in
the smaller adjoining chamber. Respectable authority exists, however,
for saying that these chambers were not tombs at all, but treasuries,
and a vast amount of controversial literature exists on the subject,
over which one may pore at his leisure if he desires. If it was a tomb,
it is obvious from the other burial-place discovered on the acropolis
above that there must have been at least two different styles of
burial,—and the tombs above appear to have contained people of
consequence, such as might be expected to have as honorable and imposing
sepulchres as there were. No bones were found in the “treasury of
Atreus,” and plenty of bones were found elsewhere, a fact which might
seem significant and indeed conclusive if it were not known that bones
had been found in beehive tombs like this elsewhere in Greece, notably
near Menidi, where six skeletons were discovered in a similar structure.
Of course it might be true that the bodies found on the heights at
Mycenæ and taken to Athens belonged to an entirely different epoch from
those that were buried in the beehive tombs, and that the beehive tombs
might easily have been looted long before the existence of any such
booty as the marketplace graves yielded had even been suspected. The
layman is therefore left to suit himself, whether he will call this
underground chamber a tomb or a treasury, and devote his time to
admiring the ingenuity with which the stone lining of the place was
built, each tier of stone slightly projecting above its lower fellow so
as at last to converge at the top in a point. The perfection of this
subterranean treasure-house seems no less remarkable than the ease with
which the ancient builders managed large masses of rock.

As for the history of Mycenæ, its greatest celebrity is unquestionably
that which it achieved in the time of the Atreidai, when it was the home
of the kings of Argos. It is supposable that in the palace on the height
Clytæmnestra spent the ten years of her lord’s absence at Troy, and that
therein she murdered him on his return. The poets have woven a great web
of song and story about the place, largely imaginative and legendary, to
be sure. But the revelations of the later excavations have revealed that
the poets came exceedingly close to fact in their descriptions of
material things. The benches before the doors, the weapons and shields
of heroes, the cups,—such as Nestor used, for example,—all these find
their counterparts in the recently discovered actualities and give the
more color to the events that the ancient writers describe. That Mycenæ
was practically abandoned soon after her great eminence doubtless
accounts for the wealth of relics that the excavators found, and her low
estate during the centuries of neglect curiously but not unnaturally
insured her return to celebrity, with a vast volume of most interesting
testimony to her former greatness quite unimpaired.

From Mycenæ down to the Argive Heræum, the ancient temple of Hera which
was once the chief shrine of this region, is something like two miles;
but as it was over a rough ground, and as time failed us, it was found
necessary to eliminate this, which to a strenuous archæologist might
doubtless prove highly interesting as an excursion, and more especially
so to Americans, since it was a site explored by the American school. It
lies off on the hills that border the plain of Argos on the east, on the
direct line between Mycenæ and Nauplia. Our own road led us back to
Phychtia again and down the centre of the plain over a very good
carriage road, passing through broad fields of waving grain, in the
midst of which, breast deep, stood occasional horses contentedly
munching without restraint. Almost the only buildings were isolated
stone windmills, some still in use and others dismantled. At last the
road plunged down a bank and into the sandy bed of what was doubtless at
some time of year a river,—but at this season, and probably most of the
year as well, a mere broad flat expanse of sand as destitute of water as
the most arid part of Sahara. The railroad, which had borne us friendly
company for a few miles, was provided with an iron bridge, spanning this
broad desert with as much gravity as if it were a raging torrent, which
doubtless it sometimes is. Just beyond we rattled into Argos.

Argos is a rather large place, but decidedly unattractive save for its
many little gardens. Nearly every house had them, and from our high
seats in the respectable but superannuated depot carriage we were able
to look into the depths of many such, to marvel at their riot of roses
and greenery. As for the houses, they were little and not over-clean.
The populace, however, was exceeding friendly, sitting _en masse_ along
the highway, the young women blithely saluting and the children
bombarding us with nosegays in the hope of leptà. Over Argos towers a
steep hill, known as a “larisa” or acropolis, from the top of which we
could imagine a wonderful view over the whole kingdom of the Argives and
over the mountains as well, not to mention the Gulf of Nauplia; but as
time was speeding on toward the dusk and we were still far from Nauplia,
we had to be content with the imagination alone, and with the news that
a little monastery about halfway up the hillside had been set on fire on
the Easter Sunday previous by too enthusiastic celebrants, who had been
over-free with the inevitable rockets and Roman candles. Also we had to
give short shrift to the vast theatre, hewn out of the solid rock at the
foot of the larisa, and said to be one of the largest in Greece. It was
sadly grass-grown, however, and infinitely less attractive than the
smallest at Athens, not to mention the splendid playhouse at Epidaurus,
which we promised ourselves for the morrow. So we were not reluctant to
swing away from old Argos, with her shouting villagers and high-walled
gardens, and to skirt the harbor, now close at hand along the dusty
Nauplia road. Across the dancing waters lay Nauplia herself, a white
patch at the foot of a prodigious cliff far around the bay. By the
roadside the country seaward was marshy, while inland rolled the great
plain back to the gray hills which showed the northern bounds of the old
kingdom, and the lofty rock of Mycenæ from which the sons of Atreus had
looked down over their broad acres.

It was not long before we were aware that “well-walled” Tiryns was at
hand and that we were not to close a day already well marked by memories
of Cyclopean masonry without adding thereto the most stupendous of all,
the memory of the great stones piled up in prehistoric ages at this
ancient palace whose size impressed even that hardened sight-seer
Pausanias. Tiryns proved to be a highly interesting place; in general
appearance much like Mycenæ, but in detail sufficiently different to
keep us exclaiming. It lies on what is little more than an isolated
hillock beside the highroad, and there is nothing imposing about its
height or length. It is a long, low rock, devoid of any building save
for the solid retaining walls that may go back to the days of Herakles

Whoever built the fortress at Tiryns had seen fit to make the front door
face the plain rather than the sea; so that it was necessary to leave
the road and go around to the north side of the rock, where a gradual
incline afforded an easy approach to a sort of ramp, or terrace,
defended by walls of the most astonishing Cyclopean construction. It has
been stated that these great and rudely squared blocks of native rock,
taken from the quarries in the hills northward, were once bonded
together with a rude clay mortar, which has since entirely disappeared.
How such enormous blocks were quarried in those primitive days, or how
they were handled, is a good deal of a mystery. But it is claimed that
swelled wedges of wet wood were used to separate the stones from their
native bed.

As a ruin, Tiryns is rather difficult to reconstruct in the imagination
from the visible remains. The inclined ramp and the gateway, remains of
which are still standing, are interesting, but chiefly from the
remarkable size of the stones employed in their construction. Within,
the old palace is in a state of complete and comprehensive ruin. The
lines of the former palace walls may, however, be seen on the rocky
floor, with here and there a trace of an ancient column which has left
its mark on the foundation rock. The outer and inner courts, megaron,
men’s and women’s apartments, and even the remnants of a “bathroom” are
to be made out, the last-named bearing testimony to the fact that even
in the remote Mycenæan age the disposition of waste water was carefully
looked to—perhaps more carefully than was the case with the later
Greeks. The Tirynthian feature which eclipses everything else for
interest, however, is the arrangement of covered galleries of stone on
two sides of the palace, from which at intervals radiate side chambers
supposed to have been used for storage. To-day they recall rather more
the casements of our own old-fashioned forts. In these galleries the
rude foreshadowings of the arch principle are even more clearly to be
seen than in the underground conduit at Mycenæ which leads to the sunken
reservoir. The sides of the corridor are vertical for only a short
distance, and speedily begin to slope inward, meeting in an acute angle
overhead. The side chambers are of a similar construction. Nowhere does
it appear that the “Cyclopes,” if we may call them such, recognized the
principle of the keystone, although they seem to have come very close to
it by accident here and there, and notably so in the case of the little
postern gate which is to be seen on the side of the citadel toward the
modern highroad. As for the galleries, at the present day they are
polished to a glassy smoothness within by the rubbing of sheltering
flocks of sheep and goats. And they are interesting, not only because of
the massive stones used in building them, but because the similarity of
these corridors and storage chambers to the arrangements found near old
Carthage and other Ph[oe]nician sites may well argue a common paternity
of architecture, and thus give color to the tale that the ancient kings
of Argos secured artisans of marvelous skill and strength from abroad.
The immense size of the roughly hewn rocks easily enough begot the
tradition that these alien builders were men of gigantic stature, called
“Cyclopes” from the name of their king, Cyclops, and supposed to be a
race of Thracian giants; quite distinct, of course, from the other
mythological Cyclopes who served Hephaistos, or the Sicilian ones who
made life a burden for Odysseus on his wanderings. It seems to be a
plausible opinion now widely held that the foreign masons who erected
the Cyclopean walls in the Argolid were not from Thrace, but from the
southern shores of the Ægean—perhaps from Lycia. And it is interesting
to know that there are examples of the same sort of stone work, bearing
a similar name, to be found as far away as Peru.

A somewhat lower hillock just west of the main acropolis—if it deserves
that name—is shown as once being the servants’ quarters. And we
descended, as is the common practice, from the main ruin to the road, by
a rude stone stairway at what was formerly the back of the castle, to
the narrow postern, the stones of which form an almost perfect, but
doubtless quite accidental, archway; and thence to our carriage, which
speedily whirled us away to Nauplia. The road thither lay around a
placid bay, sweeping in a broad curve through a landscape which was
happily marked by some very creditable trees. Nauplia herself made a
pleasant picture to the approaching eye, lying on her well-protected
harbor at the base of an imposing cliff, on the top of which the
frowning battlements of an old Venetian fortress proclaimed the presence
of the modern state prison of Greece. The evening sun brought out the
whiteness of the city against the forbidding rock behind, while far away
westward across the land-locked bay the evening light touched with a
rosy glow the snowy summit of Cyllene, and brought out the rugged
skyline of the less lofty Peloponnesian mountains. And it was these that
lay before us as our carriage rattled out of a narrow street and upon
the broad esplanade of the quay at the doors of our hotel.


                         CHAPTER X. NAUPLIA AND


We were awakened in the morning by an unaccustomed sound,—a subdued,
rapid, rhythmic cadence coming up from the esplanade below, accompanied
by the monotonous undertone of a voice saying something in time with the
shuffle of marching feet, the whole punctuated now and then by a word of
command and less frequently by the unmistakable clang of arms. The
soldiers from the fortress were having their morning drill. The words of
command sounded strangely natural, although presumably in Greek,
doubtless because military men the world over fall into the habit of
uttering “commands of execution” in a sort of unintelligible grunt. The
counting of “fours” sounded natural, too, despite the more marked
Hellenism of the numbers. So far from being a disturbance, the muffled
tread of the troops was rather soporific, which is fortunate, because I
have been in Nauplia on several occasions, and this early drill appears
to be the regular thing under the windows of the Hôtel des Étrangers.

The fine open space along the water front makes a tempting
parade-ground, and at other hours an attractive place for general
assemblage, especially at evening, when the people of Nauplia are to be
seen lounging along the wharves or drinking their coffee in the shade
under the white line of buildings. The quay curves for a long distance
around the bay, and alongside it are moored many of those curious hollow
schooners that do the coastwise carrying in Greece. Nauplia appears
still to be something of a port, although infinitely smaller and less
busy than either the Piræus or Patras. Her name, of course, is redolent
of the sea. The beauty of her situation has often reminded visitors of
Naples, but it is only a faint resemblance to the Italian city. In size
she is little indeed. Scenically, however, her prospects are
magnificent, with their inclusion of a panorama of distant and imposing
peaks towering far away across the inner bay, so admirably sheltered
from the outer seas by the massive promontory, on the inner shelf of
which the city stands. The town is forced to be narrow because of the
little space between the water and the great cliff rising precipitously
behind. There is room for little more than three parallel streets, and
in consequence Nauplia is forced to make up in length what she lacks in
breadth, and strings along eastward in a dwindling line of buildings to
the point where the marshy shore curves around toward Tiryns, or loses
herself in the barren country that lies in the gray valleys that lead
inland to Epidaurus.

From the windows of the hotel the most conspicuous object in the middle
distance was a picturesque islet in the midst of the bay, almost
entirely covered by a yellow fort of diminutive size and Venetian
appearance—the home of an interesting functionary, though a gruesome
one; to wit, the national executioner. For Nauplia at the present day is
above all else the Sing-Sing of Hellas,—the site of the national prison,
where are confined the principal criminals of the kingdom, and more
especially those who are under sentence of death. The medieval
fortifications on the summit behind the town have been converted to the
base uses of a jail, and are locally known as the Palamide. We did not
make the ascent to the prison, although it cannot be a hard climb, but
contented ourselves with purchasing the small wares that are vended by
street dealers in the lower town,—strings of “conversation beads,” odd
knives, and such like things, which you are assured were made by
“brigands” confined in the prison above. Somehow a string of beads made
by a Greek “brigand” seems a possession to be coveted.

“M. de Nauplia,” if that is the proper way of referring to the headsman,
is a criminal himself. He is generally, and probably always, one who has
been convicted of murder, but who has accepted the post of executioner
as the price of escaping the extreme penalty of the law. It is no small
price to pay, for while it saves the neck of the victim it means virtual
exile during the term of the service, and aversion of all good people
forever. We were told that the executioner at the time was a man who had
indulged in a perfect carnival of homicide—so much so that in almost any
other country he would have been deemed violently and irreclaimably
insane and would have escaped death by confinement in an asylum. But not
so he. Instead he was sentenced to a richly deserved beheading by the
guillotine, and the penalty was only commuted by his agreement to assume
the unwelcome task of dispatching others of his kind—an office carrying
with it virtual solitary imprisonment for a term variously stated as
from five to eight years, and coupled with lasting odium. For all those
years he must live on the executioner’s island, unattended save by the
corporal’s guard of soldiers from the fort, which guard is changed every
day or two, lest the men be contaminated or corrupted into conniving at
the prisoner’s escape. Others told us that the term of his sanguinary
employ was as long as twenty-five years, but this was far greater than
the average story set as his limit. On liberation, it is said to be the
ordinary practice for these unhappy men to go abroad and seek spots
where their condition is unknown. On days when death sentences are to be
executed the headsman is conveyed with solemn military pomp to the
Palamide prison above the city, and there in the prison yard the
guillotine is found set up and waiting for the hand that releases its
death-dealing knife. Whether or not the executioner is paid a stated
pittance in any event, or whether, as we were told by some, he was paid
so much “per head,” we never found out. Meantime the executioner’s
island undeniably proves one of the features of Nauplia, quaint to see,
and shrouded with a sort of awesome mystery.

The narrow streets of Nauplia furnished diversion for a short time. They
proved to be fairly clean, and the morning hours revealed a picturesque
array of barbaric colored blankets and rugs hung out of the upper
balconies to air. In one street a dense throng about an open door drew
attention to the morning session of the municipal court. The men roaming
the streets were mainly in European dress, although here and there a
peasant from the suburbs displayed his quaint capote and pomponed shoes.
It was one of these native-garbed gentry who approached us with a grin
and stated in excellent English, that sorted strangely with his Hellenic
clothes, that he was once employed in an electric light plant in
Cincinnati. Did he like it? Oh, yes! In fact, he was quite ready to go
back there, where pay was better than in Nauplia. And with an expressive
shrug and comprehensive gesture that took in the whole broad sweep of
the ancient kingdom of the Atreidai, he added, “Argos is broke; no
good!” One other such deserves mention, perhaps; one who broke in on a
reverential reverie one day, as we were contemplating a Greek dance in a
classic neighborhood, with some English that savored of the Bowery
brand, informing us that he had been in America and had traveled all
over that land of plenty in the peregrinations of Barnum’s circus,
adding as a most convincing passport to our friendship, "I was wit' old
man Barnum w'en he died." Greeks who speak English are plentiful in the
Peloponnesus, and even those who make no other pretensions to knowledge
of the tongue are proud of being able to say “all right” in response to
labored efforts at pidgin Greek.


It did not take long to exhaust the interest of the city of Nauplia
itself, including a survey of the massive walls that survive from the
Middle Ages. And it was fortunate, too, because we had planned to spend
the day at Epidaurus, which lies eighteen miles or so away, and was to
be reached only by a long and arduous ride in a carriage—the same highly
respectable old landau in which we had ridden the length of Agamemnon’s
kingdom the day before. Owing to the grade and the considerable solidity
of our party a third horse was in some miraculous way attached by ropes
to the carriage, the lunch was loaded in the hood forward, and we
rattled away through the narrow streets toward the open country east of
the town—a country that we soon discovered to be made up of narrow
valleys winding among gray and treeless hills, whose height increased
steadily as the highway wound along. It was a good highway—the distances
being marked in “stadia,” as the Greek classically terms his kilometres,
and the stadium posts constantly reminding us that this was an “Odos
Ethniké,” or national road. But we missed sadly the large trees that are
to be seen in the close neighborhood of the city as we jogged out on the
dusty road in the heat of the increasing April day.

The grade, while not steep, was mainly upward through the long valleys,
making the journey a matter of more than three hours under the most
favorable of conditions; and the general sameness of the scenery made it
a rather monotonous drive. Of human habitation there was almost none,
for although here and there one might find a vineyard, the greater part
of the adjacent land is little more than rocky pasture. It soon
developed, however, that the modern Greek shepherd is not afraid to play
his pipes at noonday through any fear of exciting the wrath or jealousy
of Pan, as was once the case; for from the mountain-sides and from under
the scanty shade of isolated olive trees we kept hearing the plaintive
wailing of the pipes, faint and far away, where some tender of the
flocks was beguiling the time in music. This distant piping is
indescribable. The tone is hardly to be called shrill, for it is so only
in the sense that its pitch is high like the ordinary human whistling;
in quality it is a soft note, apparently following no particular tune
but wavering up and down, and generally ending in a minor wail that soon
grows pleasant to hear. Besides, it recalls the idyls of Theocritus, and
the pastorals and bucolics take on a new meaning to anybody who has
heard the music of the shepherd lads of Greece. Nothing would do but we
must buy pipes and learn to play upon them; so a zealous inquiry was
instituted among the wayfaring men we met, with a view to securing the
same. It was not on this day, however, but on the next that we finally
succeeded in buying what certainly looked like pipes, but which turned
out to be delusions and snares so far as music was concerned. They were
straight wooden tubes, in which holes had been burned out at regular
intervals to form “stops” for varying the tone. No reed was inserted in
them, and if they were to be played upon at all it must be by reason of
a most accomplished “lip.” We derived considerable amusement from them,
however, by attempting to reproduce on them the mellifluous whistling of
the natives; but the nearest approach to awakening any sound at all
which any of our party achieved was so lugubriously melancholy that he
was solemnly enjoined and commanded never to try it again, on pain of
being turned over to “M. de Nauplia” as the only fitting punishment.
Later we found that the flute-like notes that we heard floating down
over the vales from invisible shepherds came from a very different sort
of wind instrument—a reed pipe of bamboo not unlike the American boy’s
willow whistle, with six or seven stops bored out of the tube.

The wayfarers were decidedly the most interesting sights on the
Epidaurus road. Several stadia out of Nauplia a stalwart man came
striding down a hill from his flocks and took the road to town. He was
dressed in the peasant garb, and across his shoulders he bore a yoke,
from either end of which depended large yellow sacks containing freshly
made cheese, the moisture draining through the meshes of the cloth as he
walked along to market. These cheeses we had met with in the little
markets at Athens and found not unpleasant, once one grows accustomed to
the goat’s milk flavor and the “freshness;” although it is probable that
a taste for Greek cheese, like that for the resinated wine, is an
acquired one.

Groups of shepherds were encountered now and then, especially at the few
points along the way where buildings and shade were to be found. They
were all picturesque in their country dress, but more especially the
women, who spin flax as they walk and who probably ply a trade as old as
Hellenic civilization itself in about the same general way that their
most remote ancestors plied it. These little knots of peasants readily
enough posed for the camera, and were contented with a penny apiece for
drink-money. Not the least curious feature of these peasant herdsmen was
the type of crook carried—not the large, curved crook that the ordinary
preconceived ideal pictures, but straight sticks with a queer little
narrow quirk in the end, with which the shepherd catches the agile and
elusive goat or lamb by the hind leg and thus holds it until he is able
to seize the animal in some more suitable part. These herdsmen proved
hospitable folk, ready enough with offers of milk fresh from the herd,
which is esteemed a delicacy by them, whatever it might have seemed to
our uneducated palates.


Perhaps halfway out to Epidaurus one passes another remnant of the most
remote time—a lofty fortification on a deserted hill. It is of polygonal
masonry—that is, of angular stones fitted together without mortar,
instead of being squared after the manner of the Cyclopes. Hard by,
spanning a ravine which has been worn by centuries of winter torrents,
there was a Cyclopean bridge, made of huge rocks so arranged as to form
an enduring arch, and on this once ran no doubt the great highway from
Epidaurus to the plain of Argos.

It was long after the noontide hour when the gray theatre of Epidaurus,
a mere splash of stone in the distant side of a green hill, came in
sight, lying a mile or so away across a level field, in which lay
scattered the remnants of what was once the most celebrated hospital in
the world. For Epidaurus boasted herself to be the birthplace of
Æsculapius,—or, as we are on Greek soil, Asklepios,—and held his memory
in deep reverence forever after by erecting on the site a vast
establishment such as to-day we might call a “sanitarium.” After the
heat and dust of the ride it was pleasant to stretch out in the shade of
the scanty local trees, on the fragrant grass of the rising ground near
the theatre, and look back down the long valley, with its distant blue
mountains framed in a vista of massive gray hills. The nearer ones were
impressive in their height, but absolutely denuded of vegetation, like
the hills around Attica; and it was these mountains that formed the sole
scenery for the background of plays produced in the great theatre close
by. The theatre, of course, is the great and central attraction at
Epidaurus to-day, for it is in splendid preservation while all else is a
confusing mass of flat ruins. No ancient theatre is better preserved, or
can surpass this one for general grace of lines or perfection of
acoustic properties. Many were doubtless larger, but among all the old
Greek theatres Epidaurus best preserves to the modern eye the playhouse
of the ancients, circular orchestra and all. The acoustics anybody may
test easily enough. We disposed ourselves over the theatre in various
positions, high and low, along the half-a-hundred tiers of seats, and
listened to an oration dealing with the points of interest in the
theatre’s construction delivered in a very ordinary tone, from the
centre of the orchestra, but audible in the remotest tier.

The circle of the orchestra is not paved, as had been the case with the
theatres seen at Athens, but is a green lawn, in the centre of which a
stone dot reveals the site of the ancient altar. It was stated that the
circle is not actually as perfect as it looks, being shorter in one set
of radii by something like two feet. But to all appearance it is
absolutely round, and is easily the most beautiful type of the circular
orchestra in existence to-day, if indeed it is not the only perfect one.
The immense amphitheatre surrounding it was evidently largely a natural
one, which a little artificial stonework easily made complete; and it is
so perfect to-day that a very little labor would make it entirely
possible to give a play there now before a vast audience. Some such plan
was actually talked of a few years ago, but abandoned,—no doubt, because
of the apparent difficulty of getting any very considerable company of
auditors to the spot, or of housing them while there. It would be
necessary, also, to rebuild the proskenion, the foundations of which are
still to be seen behind the orchestra, and one may tremble to think of
what might happen in the process should the advocates of the stage
theory and their opponents fail to agree better than they have hitherto

From the inspection of the theatre and the enjoyment of the view across
the plain to the rugged hills our dragoman called us to lunch, which was
spread in a little rustic pergola below. He had thoughtfully provided
fresh mullets, caught that morning off the Nauplia quay, and had cooked
them in the little house occupied by the local _custode_. Hunger,
however, was far less a matter of concern than thirst. We had been
warned not to drink of the waters of the sacred well of Asklepios in the
field below, and as there was no spring vouched for with that certitude
that had attended the waters of Castalia, we were thrown back, as usual,
on the bottled product of the island of Andros—a water which is not only
intrinsically pure and excellent, but well worth the price of admission
from the quaint English on its label. In rendering their panegyric on
the springs of Andros into the English tongue, the translators have
declared that it “is the equal of its superior mineral waters of

The sacred well of the god, however, proved later in the day that it had
not lost all its virtues even under the assaults of the modern germ
theory; for while we were wandering through the maze of ruins in the
strong heat of the early afternoon one of our company was decidedly
inconvenienced by an ordinary "nose-bleed"—which prompt applications of
the water, drawn up in an incongruous tin pail, instantly stopped. And
thus did we add what is probably the latest cure, and the only one for
some centuries, worked by the once celebrated institution patronized by
the native divinity. It is related that the god was born on the hillside
just east of the meadow, but this story is sadly in conflict with other
traditions. It seems that Asklepios was not originally a divinity, but a
mere human, as he seems to be in the Homeric poems. His deification came
later, as not infrequently happened in ancient times, and with it came a
network of legends ascribing a godlike paternity to him and assigning no
less a sire than Apollo. Indeed, it is stated by some authorities that
the worship of Asklepios did not originate in Epidaurus at all, but in
Thessaly; and that the cult was a transplanted one in its chief site in
the Peloponnesus, brought there by Thessalian adventurers.


All over the meadow below the great theatre are scattered the remains of
the ancient establishment. The ceremony of healing at Epidaurus seems to
have been in large part a faith-cure arrangement, although not entirely
so; for there is reason to believe that, as at Delphi, there was more or
less natural common sense employed in the miracle-working, and that the
priests of the healing art actually acquired not a little primitive
skill in medicine. It was a skill, however, which was attended by more
or less mummery and circumstance, useful for impressing the mind of the
patient; but this is not even to-day entirely absent from the practice
of medicine with its “placebos” and “therapeutic suggestion” elements.
The custom of sending the patient to rest in a loggia with others, where
he might expect a nocturnal visitation of the god himself, has been
referred to in these pages before, and survives even to-day in the
island of Tenos at the eve of the Annunciation. The tales of marvelous
cures at Epidaurus were doubtless as common and as well authenticated as
the similar modern stories at Lourdes and Ste. Anne de Beaupré.

In addition to the actual apartments devoted to the sleeping patients,
which were but a small part of the sanitarium’s equipment, there was the
inevitable great temple of the god himself,—a large gymnasium suggestive
of the faith the doctors placed in bodily exercise as a remedy, and a
large building said to be the first example of a hospital ward, beside
numerous incidental buildings devoted to lodgment. Satirical
commentators have called attention to the presence of shrines to the
honor of Aphrodite and Dionysus as bearing enduring witness to the part
that devotion to those divinities seems to have been thought to bear in
afflicting the human race. The presence of the magnificent theatre and
the existence of a commodious stadium testify that life at Epidaurus was
not without its diversions to relieve the tedium of the medical
treatment. And in its day it must have been a large and beautiful
agglomeration of buildings. To-day it is as much of a maze as the ruins
at Delphi or at Olympia. The non-archæological visitor will probably
find his greatest interest in the theatre and in the curious circular
"tholos"—a remarkable building, the purpose of which is not clear, made
of a number of concentric rings of stone which once bore colonnades. It
stands in the midst of the great precinct, and in its ruined state it
resembles nothing so much as the once celebrated “pigs-in-clover”
puzzle. In the little museum on the knoll above, a very successful
attempt has been made to give an idea of this beautiful temple by a
partial restoration. Being indoors, it can give no idea either of the
diameter or height of the original; but the inclusion of fragments of
architrave and columns serve to convey an impression of the general
beauty of the structure, as we had seen to be the case with similar
fractional restorations at Delphi. The extensive ruins in the precinct
itself do not lend themselves to non-technical description. They are
almost entirely flat, and the ground plans serve to identify most of the
buildings, without giving any very good idea of their appearance when
complete. Pavements still remain intact in some of the rooms, and altar
bases and exedral seats lie all about in apparent confusion.
Nevertheless the discoveries have been plotted and identified with
practical completeness, and it is easy enough with the aid of the plans
to pass through the precinct and get a very good idea of the manifold
buildings which once went to make up what must have been a populous and
attractive resort for the sick. Whatever may be thought of the religious
aspects of the worship of Asklepios, it is evident that the regimen
prescribed by the cult at Epidaurus, with its regard for pure mountain
air and healthful bodily exercise, not to mention welcome diversion and
amusement for the mind, was furthered by ample facilities in the way of
equipment of this world-famous hospital.

When we were there the Greek School of Archæology was engaged in digging
near the great temple of the god, the foundations of which have now been
completely explored to a considerable depth, and it was interesting to
see the primitive way in which the excavation was being carried on. Men
with curiously shaped picks and shovels were loosening the earth and
tossing it into baskets of wicker stuff, which in turn were borne on the
heads of women to a distance and there dumped. It was slow work, and
apparently nothing very exciting was discovered. Certainly nothing was
unearthed while we were watching this laborious toil.


                         CHAPTER XI. IN ARCADIA


With the benison of the landlord, who promised to send our luncheon over
to the station “in a little boy,” we departed from Nauplia on a train
toward noontime, headed for the interior of the Peloponnesus by way of
Arcadia. The journey that we had mapped out for ourselves was somewhat
off the beaten path, and it is not improbable that it always will be so,
at least for those travelers who insist on railway lines and hotels as
conditions precedent to an inland voyage, and who prefer to avoid the
primitive towns and the small comforts of peasants’ houses. Indeed our
own feelings verged on the apprehensive at the time, although when it
was all over we wondered not a little at the fact. Our plan was to leave
the line of the railway, which now entirely encircles the Peloponnesus,
at a point about midway in the eastern side, and to strike boldly across
the middle of the Peloponnesus to the western coast at Olympia, visiting
on the way the towns of Megalopolis and Andhritsæna, and the temple at
Bassæ. This meant a long day’s ride in a carriage and two days of
horseback riding over mountain trails; and as none of us, including the
two ladies, was accustomed to equestrian exercises, the apprehensions
that attended our departure from the Nauplia station were perhaps not

It had been necessary to secure the services of a dragoman for the trip,
as none of us spoke more than Greek enough to get eggs and such common
necessaries of life, and we knew absolutely nothing of the country into
the heart of which we were about to venture. The dragoman on such a trip
takes entire charge of you. Your one duty is to provide the costs. He
attends to everything else—wires ahead for carriages, secures horses,
guides, and muleteers, provides all the food, hotel accommodation, tips,
railway tickets, and even afternoon tea. This comprehensive service is
to be secured at the stated sum of ten dollars a day per person, and in
our case it included not only the above things, but beds and bedding and
our own private and especial cook. To those accustomed to traveling in
luxury, ten dollars a day does not seem a high traveling average. To
those like ourselves accustomed to seeing the world on a daily
expenditure of something like half that sum, it is likely to seem at
first a trifle extravagant. However, let it be added with all becoming
haste, it is the only way to see the interior of Greece with any comfort
at all, and the comfort which it does enable is easily worth the cost
that it entails.

From the moment we left Nauplia we were devoid of any care whatever. We
placed ourselves unreservedly in the keeping of an accomplished young
Athenian bearing the name of Spyros Apostolis, who came to us well
recommended by those we had known in the city, and who contracted to
furnish us with every reasonable comfort and transportation as
hereinbefore set forth, and also to supply all the mythology,
archæology, geography, history, and so forth that we should happen to
require. For Spyros, as we learned to call him, was versed not only in
various languages, including a very excellent brand of English, but
boasted not a little technical archæological lore and a command of
ancient history that came in very aptly in traversing famous ground. It
came to pass in a very few days that we regarded Spyros in the light of
an old friend, and appealed to him as the supreme arbiter of every
conceivable question, from that of proper wearing apparel to the name of
a distant peak.

It was in the comfortable knowledge that for the next few days we had
absolutely no bargaining to do and that for the present Spyros, who was
somewhere in the train, had first-class tickets for our transportation,
that we settled back on the cushions and watched the receding landscape
and the diminishing bulk of the Nauplia cliffs. The train religiously
stopped at the station of Tiryns—think of a station provided for a
deserted acropolis!—and then jogged comfortably along to Argos, where we
were to change cars. It was here that we bought our shepherd pipes; and
we were practicing assiduously on them with no result save that of
convulsing the gathered populace on the platform, when an urchin of the
village spied a puff of steam up the line and set all agog by the
classic exclamation, “ἔρχεται,” equivalent to the New England lad’s
"she’s comin'!"

The comfort of being handed into that train by Spyros and seeing our
baggage set in after us without a qualm over the proper fee for the
_facchini_ can only be realized by those who have experienced it. And,
by the way, the baggage was reduced to the minimum for the journey,
consisting of a suit case apiece. Our party was composed of those who
habitually “travel light,” even on the regular lines of traffic; but for
the occasion we had curtailed even our usual amount of impedimenta by
sending two of our grips around to the other end of our route by the
northern rail. Nobody would care to essay this cross-country jaunt with
needless luggage, where every extra tends to multiply the number of pack

The train, which was fresh from Athens and bound for the southern port
of Kalamata, soon turned aside from the Ægean coast and began a
laborious ascent along the sides of deep valleys, the line making
immense horseshoes as it picked its way along, with frequent rocky cuts
but never a tunnel. I do not recall that we passed through a single
tunnel in all Greece. The views from the windows, which were frequently
superb as the train panted slowly and painfully up the long grades,
nevertheless were of the traditional rocky character—all rugged hills
devoid of greenery, barren valleys where no water was, often suggesting
nothing so much as the rocky heights of Colorado. It tended to make the
contrast the sharper when the train, attaining the heights at last, shot
through a pass which led us out of the barren rocks and into the heart
of the broad plain of Arcady. It was the real Arcadia of the poets and
painters, utterly different from the gray country which we had been
sojourning in and had come to regard as typical of all Greece. It was
the Arcadia of our dreams—a broad, peaceful, fertile plain, green and
smiling, peopled with pastoral folk, tillers of the fields, shepherds,
and doubtless poets, pipers, and nymphs. There is grandeur and beauty in
the rugged hills and narrow valleys of the north, but it would be wrong
to assume that Greece is simply that and nothing more. At least a
portion of Arcadia is exactly what the poets sing. The hills retreated
suddenly to the remote distance and left the railway running along a
level plain dotted with farms. Water ran rejoicing through. Trees waved
on the banks of the brooks. Far off to the south the rugged bulk of
Taÿgetos marked from afar the site of Sparta, the long ridge of the
mountain still covered with a field of gleaming snow.

Arcadia boasts two of these large, oval plains, the one dominated by
Tripolis and the other by Megalopolis. Into the first-mentioned the
train trundled early in the afternoon and came to a halt amid a shouting
crowd of carriage drivers clamoring for passengers to alight and make
the drive down to Sparta. The road is said to be an excellent one, and
that we had not planned to lengthen our journey to that point, and
thence westward by the Langada Pass to the country which we later saw,
has always been one of the regrets which mark our Hellenic memories.
Sparta has made little appeal to the modern visitor through any
surviving remains of her ancient greatness, and has fallen into exactly
the state that Thucydides predicted for her. For he sagely remarked, in
comparing the city with Athens, that future ages were certain to
underestimate Sparta’s size and power because of the paucity of enduring
monuments, whereas the buildings at Athens would be likely to inspire
the beholder with the idea that she was greater than she really was.
That is exactly true to-day, although the enterprising British school
has lately undertaken the task of exploring the site of the ancient
Lacedæmonian city and has already uncovered remains that are interesting
archæologically, whatever may be true of their comparison with Athenian
monuments for beauty. In any event, Sparta, with her stern discipline,
rude ideals, and martial rather than intellectual virtues, can never
hope to appeal to modern civilization as Athens has done, although her
ultimate overwhelming of the Athenian state entitles her to historical
interest. Sparta lies hard by the mountain Taÿgetos, and to this day
they show you a ravine on the mountain-side where it is claimed the
deformed and weakly Spartan children were cast, to remove them from
among a race which prized bodily vigor above every other consideration.
It is a pity that Sparta, which played so vast a part in early history,
should have left so little to recall her material existence. If she was
not elegant or cultured, she was strong; and her ultimate triumph went
to prove that the land where wealth accumulates and men decay has a less
sure grip on life than the ruder, sterner nations.

So it was that we passed Sparta by on the other side and journeyed on
from the smiling plain of Tripolis to the equally smiling one of
Megalopolis, entering thoroughly into the spirit of Arcadia and vainly
seeking the while to bring from those shepherd pipes melody fit to voice
the joy of the occasion. It was apparent now that we had crossed the
main watershed of Hellas, for the train was on a downward grade and the
brakes shrieked and squealed shrilly as we ground into a tiny junction
where stood the little branch-line train for Megalopolis. And in the
cool of the afternoon we found ourselves in that misnamed town, in the
very heart of Arcadia, the late afternoon light falling obliquely from
the westering sun as it sank behind an imposing row of serrated
mountains, far away.

To one even remotely acquainted with Greek roots, the name Megalopolis
must signify a large city. As a matter of fact, it once was so. It was
erected deliberately with the intention of making a large city, founded
by three neighboring states, as a make-weight against the increasing
power of the Lacedæmonians; but, like most places built on mere fiat, it
dwindled away, until to-day it is a village that might more
appropriately be called Mikropolis—if, indeed, it is entitled to be
called a “polis” of any sort. The railway station, as usual, lay far
outside the village, and in the station yard the one carriage of the
town was awaiting us. Into it we were thrust; Spyros mounted beside the
driver, a swarthy native; and with a rattle that recalled the famous
Deadwood coach we whirled out of the inclosure and off to the town. The
village itself proved to be but a sorry hole, to put it in the mildest
form. It was made up of a fringe of buildings around a vacant common,
level as a floor and sparsely carpeted with grass and weeds. As we
passed house after house without turning in, hope grew, along with
thankfulness, that we had at least escaped spending the night in any
hovel hitherto seen. Nevertheless we did eventually stop before a dingy
abode, and were directed to alight and enter there. Under a dark stone
archway and over a muddy floor of stone pavement we picked our gingerly
way, emerging in a sort of inner court, which Spyros pointed out was a
"direct survival of the hypæthral megaron of the ancient Mycenæan
house"—a glorified ancestry indeed for a dirty area around which were
grouped the apartments of the family pig, cow, and sundry other
household appurtenances and attachés. It was an unpromising prelude for
a night’s lodging, but it made surprise all the greater when we emerged,
by means of a flight of rickety stairs, on a little balcony above, and
beheld adjoining it the apartments destined for our use. They had been
swept and garnished, and the floors had been scrubbed until they shone.
The collapsible iron beds had been erected and the bedding spread upon
them, while near by stood the dinner table already laid for the evening
meal; and presiding over it all stood the cook, to whose energy all
these preparations were due, smiling genially through a forest of
mustache, and duly presented to us as “Stathi.”

In the twilight we whetted our appetites for dinner by a brisk walk out
of the village, perhaps half a mile away, to the site of the few and
meagre ruins that Megalopolis has to show. Our progress thither was
attended with pomp and pageantry furnished by the rabble of small boys
and girls whose presence was at first undesirable enough, but who later
proved useful as directing us to the lane that led to the ruins and as
guards in stoning off sundry sheep dogs that disputed the way with us.
The usual disbursement of leptá ensued, and we were left to inspect the
remains of ancient greatness in peace. Those remains were few and
grass-grown. They included little more than a theatre, once one of the
greatest in Greece, with the structures behind the orchestra still
largely visible, and a few foundations of buildings behind these, on the
bank of a winding river. Aside from these the old Megalopolis is no

That night we sat down to a dinner such as few hotels in Athens could
have bettered. The candlesticks on the table were of polished silver,
which bore the monogram of the ancestors of Spyros. Our tablecloth and
napkins were embroidered. Our dishes were all of a pattern, and we
afterwards discovered that every piece of our household equipment, from
soup plates to the humblest “crockery” of the family supply, bore the
same tasteful decoration. Many a time we have laughed at the incongruity
between our surroundings and the culinary panorama that Stathi conjured
up from his primitive kitchen outside and served with such elegance. It
was a masterpiece of the chef’s art, six courses following each other in
rapid succession, all produced in the narrow oven where a charcoal fire
blazed in answer to the energetic fanning of a corn broom. Soup gave
place to macaroni; macaroni to lamb chops and green peas; chickens
followed, flanked by beans and new potatoes from the gardens of the
neighborhood; German pancakes wound up the repast; and coffee was served
in an adjoining coffee-house afterward—the whole accompanied by copious
draughts of the water of Andros, which cheers without inebriating, and
beakers of the red wine of Solon, which I suspect is capable of doing
both. A very modern-looking oil lamp helped furnish heat as well as
light, for we were high above the sea and the night was chilly. Even to
this remote district the product of the Rockefeller industry has
penetrated, and no sight is more common than the characteristic square
oil cans, with a wooden bar across the centre for carrying, which the
peasants use for water buckets when the original oil is exhausted. They
are useful, of course—more so than the old-fashioned earthen amphorae.
But they are not as picturesque.

My companion, whom it will be convenient to call the Professor, and I
adjourned to the coffee-house below for our after-dinner smoke, and
demanded coffee in our best modern Greek, only to evoke the hearty
response, “Sure,” from our host. It seemed he had lived in New York,
where he maintained an oyster bar; and, like all who have ever tasted
the joys of Bowery life, he could not be happy anywhere else, but
yearned to hear the latest news from that land of his heart’s desire. We
tarried long over our cups, and had to force payment on him. Thence we
retired through the low-browed arch that led to our abode, barred and
locked it with ponderous fastenings that might have graced the Lion Gate
itself, and lay down to repose on our collapsible beds, which happily
did not collapse until Spyros and Stathi prepared them for the next
day’s ride. This they did while we breakfasted. The morning meal came
into the bedrooms bodily on a table propelled by our faithful servitors,
the food having been prepared outside; and as we ate, the chamber work
progressed merrily at our table side, so that in short order we were
ready for the road. The carriage for the journey stood without the main
gate, manned by a dangerous-looking but actually affable native, and
behind it lay a spring cart of two wheels, wherein were disposed our
beds, cooking utensils, and other impedimenta. The word of command was
given, and the caravan set out blithely for the western mountains, bowed
out of town by the beaming face of the man who had kept an oyster bar.

The road had an easy time of it for many a level mile. It ran through a
fertile plain, watered by the sources of the famous Alpheios River,
which we skirted for hours, the hills steadily converging upon us until
at last they formed a narrow gorge through which the river forced its
way, brawling over rocks, to the Elian plains beyond. Beside the way was
an old and dismantled winepress, which we alighted long enough to visit.
Disused as it was, it was easy to imagine the barefooted maidens of the
neighborhood treading out the juices of the grapes in the upper loft,
the liquid flowing down through the loose flooring into the vats
beneath. It is the poetic way of preparing wine; but having seen one
night of peasant life already, we were forced to admit that modern
methods of extracting the juice seem rather to be preferred.

Just ahead lay the gateway of Arcadia, guarded by a conspicuous conical
hill set in the midst of the narrowing plain between two mountain chains
and bearing aloft a red-roofed town named Karytæna. Time was too brief
and the sun too hot to permit us to ascend thereto, but even from the
highway below it proved an immensely attractive place, recalling the
famous hill towns of Italy. Behind it lay the broadening plain of
Megalopolis and before the narrow ravine of the Alpheios, walled in by
two mighty hills. Karytæna seems like an inland Gibraltar, and must in
the old days have been an almost impregnable defense of the Arcadian
country on its western side, set as it is in the very centre of a
constricted pass. But for some reason, possibly because the enemies of
Greece came chiefly from the east, it seems not to have figured
prominently as a fortress in history. Below the town the road wound down
to the river’s edge and crossed the stream on a quaint six-arched
bridge, against one pier of which some thankful persons had erected a
shrine of Our Lady. And beyond the road began a steady ascent. We had
left the plain for good, it appeared. Before us lay the deep and
tortuous defile through which the river flows to the western seas, the
roar of its rushing waters growing fainter and fainter below as the
panting horses clambered upward with their burdens, until at last only a
confused murmuring of the river was heard mingling with the rustle of
the wind through the leaves of the wayside trees. The road was not
provided with parapets save in a few unusually dangerous corners, and
the thought of a plunge down that steep incline to the river so far
below was not at all pleasant. Fortunately on only one occasion did we
meet another wagon, and on that one occasion our party incontinently
dismounted and watched the careful passage of the two with mingled
feelings. It was accomplished safely and easily enough, but we felt much
more comfortable to be on the ground and see the wheels graze the edge
of the unprotected outside rim of the highway.

[Illustration: AN OUTPOST OF ARCADY]

Every now and then a cross ravine demanded an abrupt descent of the road
from its airy height, and down we would go to the bottom of a narrow
valley, the driver unconcernedly cracking his whip, the bells of our
steeds jangling merrily, and our party hanging on and trying hard to
enjoy the view in a nervous and apprehensive way, although increasingly
mindful of the exposed right-hand edge of the shelf. It bothered Stathi,
the cook, not at all. He was riding behind on the baggage cart which
followed steadily after, and at the steepest of the descent he was
swaying from side to side on the narrow seat, his cigarette hanging
neglected from his lips—sound asleep.

These occasional ravines appeared to be due to centuries of water
action, and their banks, which were well covered with woods, were marked
here and there by tiny threads of cascades which sang pleasantly down
the cliffs from above, crossed the road, and disappeared into the wooded
depths of the river valley below. Bædeker had mentioned a huge plane
tree and a gushing spring of water as a desirable place to lunch, but we
looked for them in vain. Instead we took our midday meal beside a stone
khan lying deserted by the roadside, in which on the open hearth Stathi
kindled a fire and produced another of his culinary miracles, which we
ate in the open air by the road, under a plane tree that was anything
but gigantic. We have never quite forgiven Bædeker that “gushing
spring.” When one has lived for a month or more on bottled waters, the
expectation of drinking at nature’s fount is not lightly to be regarded.


The remainder of the ride was a steady climb to Andhritsæna, varied by
few descents, although this is hardly to be deemed a drawback. The
knowledge that one has two thousand feet to climb before the goal is
reached does not conduce to welcome of a sudden loss of all the height
one has by an hour’s hard climb attained. The tedium of the hours of
riding was easily broken by descending to walk, the better thus to enjoy
the view which slowly opened out to the westward. We were in the midst
of the mountains of the Peloponnesus now, and they billowed all around.
It was a deserted country. Distant sheep bells and occasional pipes
testified that there was life somewhere near, but the only person we met
was a woman who came down from a hill to ask the driver to get a doctor
for her sick son when he should reach Andhritsæna. At last, well toward
evening, the drivers pointed to a narrow cut in the top of the hill
which we were slowly ascending by long sweeping turns of road and
announced the top of the pass. And the view that greeted us as we
entered the defile was one not easy to forget. Through the narrow
passage in the summit lay a new and different country, and in the midst
of it, nestling against the mountain-side, lay Andhritsæna, red roofed
and white walled, and punctuated here and there by pointed cypress
trees. Below the town, the hills swept sharply away to the valleys
beneath, filled with green trees, while above the rocks of the
mountain-side rose steeply toward the evening sky. In the western
distance we saw for the first time Erymanthus and his gigantic
neighbors, the mountains that hem in the plain about Olympia, the taller
ones snow-clad and capped with evening clouds. We straightened in our
seats. Stathi came out of his doze. The whips cracked and we dashed into
the town with the smartness of gait and poise that seem to be demanded
by every arrival of coach and four from Greece to Seattle. And thus they
deposited us in the main square of Andhritsæna, under a huge plane tree,
whose branches swept over the entire village street, and whose trunk
lost itself in the buildings at its side. The carriage labored away. The
dragoman and his faithful attendant sought our lodging house to set it
in order. And in the meantime we stretched our cramped limbs in a walk
around the town, attended as usual by the entire idle population of
youths and maidens, to see the village from end to end before the sun
went down.

I should, perhaps, add the remark that in my spelling of “Andhritsæna” I
have done conscious violence to the word as it stands on the map—the
added “h” representing a possibly needless attempt to give the local
pronunciation of the name. It is accented on the second syllable.


                      CHAPTER XII. ANDHRITSÆNA AND
                            THE BASSÆ TEMPLE


We found the village of Andhritsæna fascinating in the extreme, from
within as well as from without. It was obviously afflicted with a degree
of poverty, and suffers, like most Peloponnesian towns, from a steady
drain on its population by the emigration to America. Naturally it was
squalid, as Megalopolis had been, but in a way that did not mar the
natural beauty of its situation, and, if anything, increased its
internal picturesqueness. This we had abundant opportunity to observe
during our initial ramble through the place, starting from the gigantic
plane tree which forms a sort of nucleus of the entire village, and
which shelters with its spreading branches the chief centre of local
activity,—the region immediately adjacent to the town pump. It was not
exactly a pump, however. The term is merely conventional, and one must
understand by it a stone fountain, fed by a spring, the water gushing
out by means of two spouts, whither an almost continuous stream of
townsfolk came with the inevitable tin oil-cans to obtain water for
domestic uses.

The main, and practically the only, street of the town led westward from
the plane, winding along through the village in an amiable and casual
way. It was lined close on either side by the houses, which were
generally two stories in height, and provided with latticed balconies
above to make up for the necessary lack of piazzas below. Close to the
great central tree these balconies seemed almost like the arboreal
habitation made dear to the childish heart by the immortal Swiss Family
Robinson; and in these elevated stations the families of Andhritsæna
were disporting themselves after the burden and heat of the day,
gossiping affably to and fro across the street, or in some cases

[Illustration: ANDHRITSÆNA]

We found it as impossible to disperse our body guard of boys and girls
as had been the case the evening before at Megalopolis. Foreign visitors
in Andhritsæna are few enough to be objects of universal but not
unkindly curiosity to young and old; and the young, being unfettered by
the insistent demands of coffee-drinking, promptly insisted on attending
our pilgrimage _en masse_. It was cool, for the sun was low and the
mountain air had begun to take on the chill of evening. We clambered up
to a lofty knoll over the town and looked down over its slanting tiles
to the wooded valley beneath, the evening smoke of the chimneys rising
straight up in thin, curling wisps, while from the neighboring hills
came the faint clatter of the herd bells and occasionally the soft note
of some boy’s piping. Far away to the north we could see the snowy dome
of Erymanthus, rising out of a tumbling mass of blue mountains, while
between lay the opening and level plain of the Alpheios, widening from
its narrows to form the broad meadows of Elis on the western coasts of
the Peloponnesus. Here and there the house of some local magnate, more
prosperous than the rest, boasted a small yard and garden, adorned with
the sombre straightness of cypresses. Behind the town rose the rocky
heights of the neighboring hills, long gorges running deep among them.
Whichever way the eye turned, there was charm. The body guard of
infantry retired to a respectful distance and stood watching us, finger
bashfully to mouth in silent wonderment. Mothers with babies came out of
near-by hovels to inspect us, and enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed the
prospect that opened before.

From the aspect of the houses of the town we had adjudged it prudent to
allow Spyros and Stathi a decent interval for the preparation of our
abode before descending to the main street again and seeking out the
house. Apparently the exact location of it was known by the entire
population by this time, for, as we descended, willing natives pointed
the way by gesticulations, indicating a narrow and not entirely
prepossessing alley leading down from the central thoroughfare by some
rather slimy steps, to a sort of second street, and thence to another
alley, if anything less prepossessing than the first, where a formidable
wooden gateway gave entrance to a court. Here the merry villagers bade
adieu and retired to their coffee again. Once within, the prospect
brightened. It was, of course, the fore-court of a peasant’s house, for
hotels are entirely lacking in Andhritsæna. It was paved with stone
flagging, and above the courtyard rose a substantial veranda on which
stood the host—a bearded man, gorgeous in native dress, the voluminous
skirt of which was immaculate in its yards and yards of fustanella. From
tasseled fez to pomponed shoes he was a fine type of peasant,
contrasting with his wife, who wore unnoticeable clothes of European
kind. She was a pleasant-faced little body, and evidently neat, which
was more than all. And she ushered us into the house to the rooms where
Spyros and the cook were busily engaged in making up the beds,
discreetly powdering the mattresses, and setting things generally to
rights. The embroidered bed linen which had given us such delight by its
contrast with the surroundings at Megalopolis at once caught the eye of
the peasant woman, and she promptly borrowed a pillow-case to learn the
stitch with which it was adorned. As for the rooms, they were scrubbed
to a whiteness.

Just outside, overlooking the narrow by-way through which we had
entered, was the inevitable balcony, whence the view off to the northern
mountains was uninterrupted; and while supper was preparing we wrapped
ourselves in sweaters and shawls and stood in mute admiration of the
prospect—the deep valley below, the half-guessed plain beyond, and the
rugged line of peaks silhouetted against the golden afterglow of the
sunset. From this view our attention was distracted only by the sudden
clamor of a church bell close at hand, which a priest was insistently
ringing for vespers. The bell was hung, as so often happens, in a tree
beside the church; and to prevent the unauthorized sounding of it by the
neighborhood urchins the wise priest had caused the bell-rope to be
shortened so that the end of it hung far up among the branches, and was
only to be reached for the purposes of the church by a long iron poker,
which the holy man had produced from somewhere within his sanctuary and
which he was wielding vigorously to attract the attention of the devout.
It may have been a sort of Greek angelus, designed to mark the hour of
general sunset prayer; for nobody appeared in response to its summons,
and after clanging away for what seemed to him a sufficient interval the
priest unshipped the poker and retired with it to the inner recesses of
the church, to be seen no more. The nipping and eager evening air
likewise drove us to shelter, and the heat of the lamp and candles was
welcome as lessening, though ever so slightly, the cold which the night
had brought. It was further temporarily forgotten in the discussion of
the smiling Stathi’s soups and chickens and flagons of Solon.


The professor and I stumbled out in the darkness of the yard after the
evening meal in search of a coffee-house, for the better enjoyment of
our postprandial cigarettes, but we got no farther than the outer court
before deciding to return for a lantern. Andhritsæna turned out to be
not only chilly, but intensely dark o' nights. Its serpentine by-ways
were devoid of a single ray of light, and even the main street, when we
had found it, was relieved from utter gloom only by the lamps which
glimmered few and faint in wayside shops that had not yet felt the force
of the early-closing movement. The few wayfarers that we met as we
groped our way along by the ineffectual fire of a square lantern,
wherein a diminutive candle furnished the illuminant, likewise carried
similar lights, and looked terrible enough hooded in their capotes.
Diogenes-like, we sought an honest man,—and speedily discovered him in
the proprietor of a tiny “kaffeneion,” who welcomed us to his tables and
set before us cups of thick coffee, fervently disclaiming the while his
intention to accept remuneration therefor. Indeed this generosity bade
fair to be its own reward, for it apparently became known in a
surprisingly short time that the foreign visitors were taking
refreshment in that particular inn, with the result that patronage
became brisk. The patrons, however, apparently cared less for their
coffee than for the chance to study the newcomers in their midst at
close range, and after we had basked for a sufficient time in the
affable curiosity of the assembled multitude we stumbled off again
through the night to our abode, the lantern casting gigantic and awful
shadows on the wayside walls the while.

Now the chief reason for our visiting this quaint and out-of-the-way
hamlet was its contiguity to the mountain on the flat top of which
stands the ancient Bassæ temple. The correct designation, I believe, is
really the “temple at Bassæ,” but to-day it stands isolated and alone,
with no considerable habitation nearer than Andhritsæna, whatever was
the case when it was erected. The evidence tended to show that Bassæ
might be reached with about the same ease on foot as on horseback, or at
least in about the same time; but as we were entirely without experience
in riding, it was voted best that we begin our training by securing
steeds for this minor side trip, in order to have some slight
preparation for the twelve hours in the saddle promised us for the day
following—a portentous promise that had cast a sort of indefinite shadow
of apprehension over our inmost souls since leaving Nauplia. It was a
wise choice, too, because it revealed to us among other things the
difficulty of Greek mountain trails and the almost absolute
sure-footedness of the mountain horse.

We were in the saddle promptly at nine, and in Indian file we set out
through the village street, filled with the tremors natural to those who
find themselves for the first time in their lives seated on horseback.
But these tremors were as nothing to what beset us almost immediately on
leaving the town and striking into the narrow ravine that led up into
the hills behind it. It developed that while the prevailing tendency of
the road was upward, this did not by any means preclude several
incidental dips, remarkable alike for their appalling steepness and
terrifying rockiness, for which their comparative brevity only partially
atoned. The sensation of looking down from the back of even a small
horse into a gully as steep as a sharp pitch roof, down which the trail
is nothing but the path of a dried-up torrent filled with boulders,
loose stones, smooth ledges, sand, and gravel, is anything but
reassuring. It was with silent misgivings and occasional squeals of
alarm that our party encountered the first of these descents. We had not
yet learned to trust our mounts, and we did not know that the
well-trained mountain horse is a good deal more likely to stumble on a
level road than on one of those perilous downward pitches. From the
lofty perches on top of the clumsy Greek saddles piled high with rugs,
it seemed a terrifying distance to the ground; and the thought of a
header into the rocky depth along the side of which the path skirted or
down into which it plunged was not lightly to be shaken off. It was much
better going up grade, although even here we found ourselves smitten
with pity for the little beasts that scrambled with so much agility up
cruel steeps of rock, bearing such appreciable burdens of well-nourished
Americans on their backs. Spyros did his best to reassure us. He was
riding ahead and throwing what were intended as comforting remarks over
his shoulder to Mrs. Professor, who rode next in line. And as he was not
aware of the exact make-up of the party’s mounts, he finally volunteered
the opinion that horses were a good deal safer than mules for such a
trip, because mules stumbled so. Whereupon Mrs. Professor, who was
riding on a particularly wayward and mountainous mule, emitted a shriek
of alarm and descended with amazing alacrity to the ground, vowing that
walking to Bassæ was amply good enough for her. Nevertheless the mule,
although he did stumble a little now and then, managed to stay with us
all the way to Olympia, and no mishap occurred.

The saddles lend themselves to riding either astride or sidesaddle, and
the ordinary man we met seemed to prefer the latter mode. The saddle
frame is something the shape of a sawhorse, and after it is set on the
back of the beast it is piled high with blankets, rugs, and the like,
making a lofty but fairly comfortable seat. For the ladies the guides
had devised little wooden swings suspended by rope to serve as stirrups
for the repose of their soles. The arrangement was announced to be
comfortable enough, although it was necessary for the riders to hold on
fore and aft to the saddle with both hands, while a muleteer went ahead
and led the beasts. In some of the steeper places the maintenance of a
seat under these conditions required no little skill. As for the men,
there were no special muleteers. We were supposed to know how to ride,
and in a short time we had discovered how to guide the horses with the
single rein provided, either by pulling it, or by pressing it across the
horse’s neck. To stop the modern Greek horse you whistle. That is to
say, you whistle if you can muster a whistle at all, which is sometimes
difficult when a panic seizes you and your mouth becomes dry and
intractable. In the main our progress was so moderate that no more skill
was needed to ride or guide the steeds than would be required on a
handcar. Only on rare occasions, when some of the beasts got off the
track or fell behind, was any real acquaintance with Greek horsemanship
required. This happened to all of us in turn before we got home again,
and in each case the muleteers came to our aid in due season after we
had completely lost all recollection of the proper procedure for
stopping and were seeking to accomplish it by loud “whoas” instead of
the soothing sibilant which is the modern Greek equivalent for that
useful, and indeed necessary, word.

We found it highly desirable now and then to alight and walk, for to the
unaccustomed rider the strain of sitting in a cramped position on a
horse for hours at a time is wearying and benumbing to the lower limbs.
On the ride up to Bassæ, those who did no walking at all found it
decidedly difficult to walk when they arrived. The one deterrent was the
labor involved in dismounting and the prospective difficulty of getting
aboard again. In this operation the muleteers assisted our clumsiness
not a little, and we discovered that the way to attract their attention
to a desire to alight was to say “ka-tò,” in a commanding tone—the same
being equivalent to “down.”

So much for our experiences as we wound along the sides of rocky ravines
and gorges in the heart of the hills behind Andhritsæna. When we had
grown accustomed to the manipulation of the horses and had learned that
the beasts really would not fall down and dash us into the depths below,
we began to enjoy the scenery. It was rugged, for the most part,
although at the bottoms of the valleys there was frequently meadow land
spangled with innumerable wildflowers and shrubbery, watered by an
occasional brook. It was a lovely morning, still cool and yet cloudless.
The birds twittered among the stunted trees. We passed from narrow vale
to narrow vale, and at last, when no outlet was to be seen, we ceased to
descend and began a steady climb out of the shady undergrowth along the
side of a rocky mountain, where there was no wood at all save for
scattered groves of pollard oaks—curious old trees, low and gnarled,
covered with odd bunches, and bearing an occasional wreath of mistletoe.
At the ends of their branches the trees put forth handfuls of small
twigs, which we were told the inhabitants are accustomed to lop off for
fagots. It is evident that the trees do not get half a chance to live
and thrive. But they manage in some way to prolong their existence, and
they give to the region at Bassæ and to the temple there a certain weird


Off to the west as we climbed there appeared a shining streak of silver
which the guides saw and pointed to, shouting “Thalassa! Thalassa!” (the
sea). And, indeed, it was the first glimpse of the ocean west of Greece.
Shortly beyond we attained the summit and began a gentle descent along a
sort of tableland through a sparse grove of the stunted oaks, among
which here and there appeared round flat floors of stone used for
threshing. Many of these could be seen on the adjacent hills and in the
valleys, and the number visible at one time proved to be something like
a score. All at once, as we wound slowly down through the avenue of
oaks, the temple itself burst unexpectedly into view, gray like the
surrounding rocks, from which, indeed, it was built. To approach a
shrine like this from above is not common in Greece, and this sudden
apparition of the temple, which is admirably preserved, seems to have
struck every visitor who has described it as exceedingly beautiful,
particularly as one sees it framed in a foreground of these odd trees.
We were high enough above the structure to look down into it, for it is
of course devoid of any roof; and unlike most of the other temples, it
was always so, for it was of the “hypæthral” type, and intended to be
open to the sky. Nor was this the only unusual feature of the temple at
Bassæ. It was peculiar among the older shrines in that it ran north and
south instead of east and west, which was the regular custom among the
roofed structures of the Greeks. Of course this difference in
orientation has given rise to a great deal of discussion and speculation
among those whose opinions are of weight in such matters. Probably the
casual visitor in Greece is well aware of the custom of so fixing the
axes of temples as to bring the eastern door directly in line with the
rising sun on certain appropriate days, for the better illumination of
the interior on those festivals. Although such expedients as the use of
translucent marble roofs were resorted to, the lighting of the interior
of roofed temples was always a matter of some little difficulty, and
this arrangement of the doorways was necessary to bring out the image of
the god in sufficiently strong light. From this system of orientation it
has occasionally been possible to identify certain temples as dedicated
to particular deities, by noting the days on which the rising sun would
have come exactly opposite the axis of the shrine. No such consideration
would apply with the same force to a hypæthral temple, whatever else
might have figured in the general determination of the orientation. But
even at Bassæ, where the length of the temple so obviously runs north
and south, it is still true that one opening in it was eastward, and it
is supposed that in the end of the temple space was an older shrine to
Apollo, which, like other temples, faced the rising sun. This older
precinct was not interfered with in erecting the greater building, and
it is still plainly to be seen where the original sacred precinct was.

The members of the single encircling row of columns are still intact,
although in some cases slightly thrown out of alignment; and they still
bear almost the entire entablature. The cella wall within is also
practically intact, and inside it are still standing large sections of
the unusual engaged half-columns which encircled the cella, standing
against its sides. The great frieze in bas-relief, which once ran around
the top, facing inward, is now in the British Museum, where it is justly
regarded as one of the chief treasures of the Greek collection. It
hardly needs the comment that such arrangement of the frieze was highly
unusual, inside the building, instead of on the outer side of the cella,
as was the case in the Parthenon. Ictinus, the architect of the
Parthenon, also built the temple at Bassæ, which was dedicated by the
Phigalians to “Apollo the Helper,” in gratification for relief from a
plague. That fact has given rise to the conjecture that it was perhaps
built at the same time that the plague ravaged Athens, during the early
part of the Peloponnesian War. However that may be, it is evidently true
that it belongs to the same golden age that gave us the Parthenon and
the Propylæa at Athens. Unlike them, it does not glow with the varied
hues of the weathered Pentelic marble, but is a soft gray, due to the
native stone of which it was constructed. And this gray color,
contrasting with the sombreness of the surrounding grove, gives much the
same satisfactory effect as is to be seen at Ægina, where the temple is
seen, like this, in a framework of trees.

Needless to say, the outlook from this lofty site—something like four
thousand feet above the sea—is grand. The ocean is visible to the south
as well as to the west. The rolling mountains to the east form an
imposing pageant, culminating in the lofty Taÿgetos range. Looming like
a black mound in the centre of the middle distance to the southward is
the imposing and isolated acropolis of Ithome, the stronghold of the
ancient Messenians. As usual, the builders of the temple at Bassæ
selected a most advantageous site for their shrine. It was while we were
enjoying the view after lunch that a solitary German appeared from the
direction of Ithome, having passed through the modern Phigalia. He had a
boy for a guide, but aside from that he was roaming through this
deserted section of Greece alone. He knew nothing of the language. He
had no dragoman to make the rough places smooth. He had spent several
sorry nights in peasants’ huts, where vermin most did congregate. But he
was enjoying it all with the enthusiasm of the true Philhellene, and on
the whole was making his way about surprisingly well. We sat and chatted
for a long time in the shade of the temple, comparing it with the lonely
grandeur of the temple at Segesta, in Sicily. And as the sun was sinking
we took the homeward way again, but content to walk this time rather
than harrow our souls by riding down the excessively steep declivity
that led from the mountain to the valleys below.



At dinner that night in Andhritsæna an old man appeared with wares to
sell—curiously wrought and barbaric blankets, saddlebags, and the like,
apparently fresh and new, but really, he claimed, the dowry of his wife
who had long been dead. He had no further use for the goods, but he did
think he might find uses for the drachmæ they would bring. Needless to
say, our saddlebags were the heavier the next day when our pack-mules
were loaded for the journey over the hills to Olympia.

One other thing deserves a word of comment before we leave Andhritsæna,
and that is the cemetery. We had seen many funeral processions at
Athens, carrying the uncoffined dead through the streets, but we had
never paid much attention to the burial places, because they are still
mainly to be found outside the city gates, and not in the line commonly
taken by visitors. At Andhritsæna we came upon one, however, and for the
first time noticed the curious little wooden boxes placed at the heads
of the graves, resembling more than anything else the bird-houses that
humane people put on trees at home. Inside of the boxes we found oil
stains and occasionally the remains of broken lamps, placed there, we
were told, as a "mnemeion"—doubtless meaning a memorial, which word is a
direct descendant. The lamps appear to be kept lighted for a time after
the death of the person thus honored, but none were lighted when we saw
the cemetery of Andhritsæna, and practically all had fallen into
neglect, as if the dead had been so long away that grief at their
departure had been forgotten. A little chapel stood hard by, and on its
wall a metal plate and a heavy iron spike did duty for a bell.

Then the cold night settled down upon Andhritsæna, and we retired to the
warmth of our narrow beds, ready for the summons which should call us
forth to begin our fatiguing ride to the famous site of old Olympia.


                      CHAPTER XIII. OVER THE HILLS
                               TO OLYMPIA


At five o'clock the persistent thumping of Spyros on the bedroom doors
announced the call of incense-breathing morn, though Ph[oe]bus had not
yet by any means driven his horses above the rim of the horizon. The air
outside was thick o' fog,—doubtless a low-lying cloud settling on the
mountain,—and it was dark and cheerless work getting out of our narrow
beds and dressing in the cold twilight. Nevertheless it was necessary,
for the ride to Olympia is long, and Spyros had promised us a fatiguing
day, with twelve hours in the saddle as a minimum. To this forecast the
pessimistic Baedeker lent much plausibility by his reference to the road
as being unspeakably bad; and besides we ourselves had on the previous
day gathered much personal experience of the mountain trails of the
region. Breakfast under these circumstances was a rather hasty meal,
consumed in comparative silence.

By the time the last of the rolls and jam had disappeared and the task
of furling up the beds was well advanced, a clatter of hoofs in the
village street drew one of the party to the door, whence word was
speedily returned that the street outside was full of horses. And it
was. There were ten steeds, including four for our party, two for Spyros
and Stathi, one for a muleteer relief conveyance, and the rest for the
baggage—the latter being small and seemingly quite inadequate burros or
donkeys, who proved more notable for their patient indifference than for
size or animation. While these were being laden, four other beasts drew
near, bearing our solitary German of the day before and another of his
countrymen who had materialized during the night, with their
impedimenta. They were welcomed to the caravan, which, numbering
fourteen beasts and almost as many humans, took the road out of town
with commendable promptitude at sharp six o'clock. The cloud had lifted
as we rounded the western edge of the valley and looked back at
Andhritsæna, glimmering in the morning light. We were streaming off in
Indian file along a very excellent road, like that on which we had
ridden up from Megalopolis two days before, and which promised well for
a speedy removal of the apprehensions awakened by Bædeker. But the road
did not last long. Before we had fairly lost Andhritsæna in the hills
behind, the leading guide turned sharply to the left, through a rocky
defile in the hillside, and precipitated us down one of those rocky
torrent beds, with the nature of which we had become only too familiar
the day before. It was the less disturbing this time, however, because
we had learned to trust implicitly to the careful feet of our horses,
with no more than a firm grip on bridle and pommel and an occasional
soft whistle, or murmured "ochs', ochs'," to the intelligent beasts as
an outward and audible sign of inward and spiritual perturbation. It was
steep but short, and we came out below upon the road again, to
everybody’s unconcealed delight.

The road, however, soon lost itself in a meadow. When it is ultimately
finished, the journey will be much easier than we found it. In a few
years I suppose it will be perfectly possible to ride to Olympia in a
carriage, and the horseback problem will cease to deter visitors to
Bassæ from continuing their journey westward. The way now lay along a
pleasant and rolling meadow country, dotted with primitive farms, which
glowed under the bright morning sun. We splashed through a narrow upland
river and up another rocky ascent, beyond which another downward pitch
carried us to a still lower meadow. Meantime the cold of morning gave
place to a growing warmth, and the wraps became saddle blankets in short
order. We rode and walked alternately, choosing the level stretches
through the grass for pedestrianism and riding only when we came to
sharp upward climbs, thus easing the fatigue that we should otherwise
have found in continued riding. Always we could see the imposing peaks
to the north, and the downward tendency of the trail soon brought out
the altitude of the hills behind Andhritsæna. The immediate vicinity of
our path was pastoral and agricultural, in the main, for the recurring
ridges over which we scrambled served only as boundaries between
well-watered vales in which small trees and bushes flourished, and where
the occasional sharp whir of pressure from a primitive penstock called
attention to the presence of a water mill. Aside from these isolated
mills there was little sign of habitation, for the fields seemed mostly
grown up to grass. In the far distance we could see the valley of the
Alpheios, broadening out of its confining walls of rock to what seemed
like a sandy reach in the plain far below, and we were told that at
nightfall we should be ferried across it close to Olympia, provided we
caught the boatmen before they left for home. It was this anxiety to be
on time that led Spyros to urge us along, lest when we came out at the
bank of the river we should find no response to the ferryman’s call of
"Varka! Varka!"—the common mode of hailing boatmen in Greece. With this
for a spur we wasted little time on the way, but proceeded steadily, now
riding, now walking, up hill and down dale, through groves of low
acacias or Judas trees, or along grassy meadows where a profusion of
wild flowers added a touch of color to the green.

The pleasant valley, however, proved not to be the road for very long.
In an hour or so the guides branched off again into a range of hills
that seemed as high as those we had left, and there entered a tortuous
ravine worn by a mountain brook, along which the path wound higher and
higher toward a distant house which the muleteers pointed out and
pronounced to be a "ξενοδοχεῖον,"—the Professor had long ago learned to
call it "Senator Sheehan,"—at which wayside inn the mistaken impression
prevailed that we were speedily to lunch. It was not so to be, however.
When we had achieved the height and rested under two leafy plane trees
that we found there, Spyros repeated his tale about the ferrymen and
their departure at sundown; and we must away at once, with no more
refreshment than was to be drawn from some crackers and a bottle of
Solon. And so we pressed on again, still climbing, though more
gradually. The path was not so bad after all, despite the Bædeker, and
in one place we voted it easily the finest spot we had found in all our
Peloponnesian rambles. We were riding along at the time through a shady
grove when we came suddenly upon a collection of mammoth planes, whose
branches spread far and wide, and from the midst of the cleft side of
one of them a spring bubbled forth joyously, flooding the road. It was
here that the king on one of his journeys the year before had stopped to
rest and partake of his noonday meal. It seemed to us, famished by six
hours of hard riding, that the king’s example was one all good citizens
should follow; but Spyros was inexorable, and reminded us that ferrymen
might wait for the King of Greece, but not for any lesser personages
whatsoever. We must not halt until we got to Gremka; for at Gremka we
should find a good road, and beyond there it was four hours of travel,
and we might judge exactly how much time we had for rest by the hour of
our reaching the place. So we obediently proceeded, joined now by two
more beasts so laden with the empty oil-cans common to the region that
only their legs were visible. These furnished the comedy element in the
day’s experiences, for the donkeys thus loaded proved to be contrary
little creatures, always getting off the trail and careering down the
mountain-side through the scrubby trees and bushes, their deck-loads of
tin making a merry din as they crashed through the underbrush, while our
guides roared with derisive laughter at the discomfiture of the harassed
attendants. When not engaged in ridiculing the owners of those numerous
and troublesome oil-cans, the muleteers sang antiphonally some music in
a minor key which Spyros said was a wedding song wherein the bridegroom
and the bride’s family interchange sentiments. This seems to be the
regular diversion of muleteers, judging by the unanimity with which
travelers in Greece relate the experience. Anon our muleteers would
likewise find amusement by stealing around behind and administering an
unexpected smack on the plump buttocks of the horses, with the
inevitable result of starting the beast out of his meditative amble into
something remotely resembling a canter, and eliciting an alarmed squeal
from the rider—at which the muleteer, with the most innocent face in the
world, would appear under the horse’s nose and grasp the bridle,
assuring the frightened equestrian that the beast was "kalà"—or “all

All the steeds were small with the exception of the altitudinous mule
ridden by one of the ladies, and they were not at all bothered by the
low branches of the trees through which we wended our way. Not so,
however, the riders. The thorny branches that just cleared the
nonchalant horse’s head swept over the saddle with uncompromising vigor,
and the effort to swing the beast away from one tree meant encountering
similar difficulties on the other side of the narrow path. Through this
arboreal Scylla and Charybdis it was extremely difficult navigation and
the horses took no interest in our plight at all, so that long before we
emerged from the last of the groves along the way we were a beraveled
and bescratched company.

Shortly after noon two villages appeared far ahead, and we were engaged
in speculating as to which one was Gremka, when the guides suddenly
turned again and shot straight up the hill toward a narrow defile in the
mountain wall we had been skirting. It proved as narrow as a chimney and
almost as steep, and for a few moments we scrambled sharply, our little
horses struggling hard to get their burdens up the grade; but at last
they gained the top, and we emerged from between two walls of towering
rock into another and even fairer landscape. The plain of the Alpheios
spread directly below, but we were not allowed to descend to it. Instead
we actually began to climb, and for an hour or two more we rode along
the side of the range of hills through the midst of which we had just
penetrated. The path was pleasantly wooded, and the foliage was thick
enough to afford a grateful shade above and a soft carpeting of dead
leaves below. The air was heavy with the balsamic fragrance of the
boughs, and the birds sang merrily although it was midday. Through the
vistas that opened in this delightful grove we got recurring glimpses of
the Erymanthus range, now separated from us only by the miles of open
plain, and vastly impressive in their ruggedness.

The sides of the range of hills along which our path wound were
corrugated again and again by ravines, worn by the brooks, and our
progress was a continual rising and falling in consequence. The footing
was slippery, due to the minute particles of reddish gravel and sand, so
that here even our mountain horses slipped and stumbled, and we were
warned to dismount and pick our own way down, which we did, shouting
gayly “Varka! Varka!” at the crossing of every absurd little three-inch
brook, to the intense enjoyment of the muleteers. And thus by two in the
afternoon we arrived at Gremka, a poor little hamlet almost at the edge
of the great plain, and were told that we had made splendid time, so
that we might have almost an hour of rest, while Stathi unlimbered the
sumpter mules and spread luncheon under two pleasant plane trees beside
a real spring.

From Gremka on, we found the road again. It was almost absolutely level
after we left the minor foothill on which Gremka sits, and for the
remainder of our day we were to all intents and purposes in civilization
again. Curiously enough, it was here that our little horses, that had
been so admirably reliable in precipitous trails of loose rock and sand,
began to stumble occasionally, as if careless now that the road was
smooth and doubtless somewhat weary with the miles of climbing and
descending. The guides and muleteers, refreshed with a little food and a
vast amount of resinated wine, began to sing marriage music louder than
ever, and the most imposing figure of all, a man who in every-day life
was a butcher and who carried his huge cleaver thrust in his leathern
belt, essayed to converse with us in modern Greek, but with indifferent
success. The landscape, while no longer rugged, was pleasant and
peaceful as the road wound about the valley through low hillocks and
knolls crowned with little groves of pine, the broad lower reaches of
the rivers testifying that we were nearing the sea. And at last, toward
sunset, we swung in a long line down over the sands that skirt the
rushing Alpheios and came to rest on the banks opposite Olympia, whose
hotels we could easily see across the swelling flood.

The Alpheios is not to be despised as a river in April. It is not
especially wide, but it has what a good many Greek rivers do not,—water,
and plenty of it, running a swift course between the low banks of the
south and the steeper bluffs that confine it on the Olympia side. The
ferry was waiting. It proved to be a sizable boat, of the general shape
of a coastwise schooner, but devoid of masts, and mainly hollow, save
for a little deck fore and aft. Three voluble and, as it proved,
rapacious natives manned it, the motive power being poles. With these
ferrymen Spyros and Stathi almost immediately became involved in a
furious controversy, aided by our cohort of muleteers. It did not
surprise us greatly, and knowing that whatever happened we should be
financially scathless, we sat down on the bank and skipped pebbles in
the water. It developed that the boatman had demanded thrice his fee,
and that Spyros, who had no illusions about departed spirits, objected
strenuously to being gouged in this way and was protesting vehemently
and volubly, while Stathi, whose exterior was ordinarily so calm, was
positively terrible to behold as he danced about the gesticulating knot
of men. It finally became so serious that the Professor and I, looking
as fierce as we could, ranged ourselves alongside, mentioning a wholly
mythical intimacy with the head of the Hellenic police department in the
hope of promoting a wholesome spirit of compromise, but really more
anxious to calm the excited cook, who was clamoring for the tools of his
trade that he might dispatch these thrice-qualified knaves of boatmen
then and there. Eventually, as tending to induce a cessation of
hostilities, we cast off the mooring—whereat the dispute suddenly ended
and the beasts of burden went aboard. So also did the Professor, who was
anxious to establish a strategic base on the opposite bank; and the rest
of us sat and watched the craft pushed painfully out into the stream and
well up against the current, until a point was reached whence the force
of the river took her and bore her madly down to her berth on the
Olympia bank. Here fresh difficulties arose,—not financial but
mechanical. The heavily loaded little donkeys proved utterly unable to
step over the gunwale and get ashore. It was an inspiring sight to
watch, the Professor tugging manfully at the bridle and the remainder of
the crew boosting with might and main; but it was of no avail, although
they wrought mightily, until at the psychological moment and in the spot
most fitted to receive it, a muleteer gave the needed impetus by a
prodigious kick, which lifted the patient ass over the side and out on
the bank. The rest was easy. We were ferried over in our turn and
disappeared from the view of the boatmen, each side expressing its
opinion of the other in terms which we gathered from the tones employed
were the diametrical reverse of complimentary. It was twelve hours to a
dot from the time of our departure from Andhritsæna when we strolled
into our hotel—at which fact Spyros plumed himself not a little.

[Illustration: HERÆUM. OLYMPIA]

It had not been an unduly fatiguing day, after all. The frequent walking
that we had done served to break up the tedium of long riding, which
otherwise would have been productive of numb limbs and stiff joints. It
is well to bear this in mind, for I have seen unaccustomed riders
assisted from their saddles after too long jaunts utterly unable to
stand, and of course much less to walk, until a long period of rest had
restored the circulation in the idle members. Fortunately, too, we had
been blessed with an incomparable day. Spyros confessed that he had
secretly dreaded a rain, which would have made the path dangerous in
spots where it was narrow and composed of clay. As it was, we arrived in
Olympia in surprisingly good condition, and on schedule time, though by
no means unready to welcome real beds again and the chance for unlimited
warm water.

Olympia, like Delphi, is a place of memories chiefly. The visible
remains are numerous, but so flat that some little technical knowledge
is needed to restore them in mind. There is no village at the modern
Olympia at all,—nothing but five or six little inns and a railway
station,—so that Delphi really has the advantage of Olympia in this
regard. As a site connected with ancient Greek history and Greek
religion, the two places are as similar in nature as they are in general
ruin. The field in which the ancient structures stand lies just across
the tiny tributary river Cladeus, spanned by a footbridge.

Even from the opposite bank, the ruins present a most interesting
picture, with its attractiveness greatly enhanced by the neighboring
pines, which scatter themselves through the precinct itself and cover
densely the little conical hill of Kronos close by, while the grasses of
the plain grow luxuriantly among the fallen stones of the former temples
and apartments of the athletes. The ruins are so numerous and so
prostrate that the non-technical visitor is seriously embarrassed to
describe them, as is the case with every site of the kind. All the
ruins, practically, have been identified and explained, and naturally
they all have to do with the housing or with the contests of the
visiting athletes of ancient times, or with the worship of tutelary
divinities. Almost the first extensive ruin that we found on passing the
encircling precinct wall was the Prytaneum—a sort of ancient training
table at which victorious contestants were maintained gratis—while
beyond lay other equally extensive remnants of exercising places, such
as the Palæstra for the wrestlers. But all these were dominated,
evidently, by the two great temples, an ancient one of comparatively
small size sacred to Hera, and a mammoth edifice dedicated to Zeus,
which still gives evidence of its enormous extent, while the fallen
column-drums reveal some idea of the other proportions. It was in its
day the chief glory of the inclosure, and the statue of the god was even
reckoned among the seven wonders of the world. Unfortunately this
statue, like that of Athena at Athens, has been irretrievably lost. But
there is enough of the great shrine standing in the midst of the ruins
to inspire one with an idea of its greatness; and, in the museum above,
the heroic figures from its two pediments have been restored and set up
in such wise as to reproduce the external adornment of the temple with
remarkable success. Gathered around this central building, the remainder
of the ancient structures having to do with the peculiar uses of the
spot present a bewildering array of broken stones and marbles. An
obtrusive remnant of a Byzantine church is the one discordant feature.
Aside from this the precinct recalls only the distant time when the
regular games called all Greece to Olympia, while the “peace of God”
prevailed throughout the kingdom. Just at the foot of Kronos a long
terrace and flight of steps mark the position of a row of old
treasuries, as at Delphi, while along the eastern side of the precinct
are to be seen the remains of a portico once famous for its echoes,
where sat the judges who distributed the prizes. There is also a most
graceful arch remaining to mark the entrance to the ancient stadium, of
which nothing else now remains. Of the later structures on the site, the
“house of Nero” is the most interesting and extensive. The Olympic games
were still celebrated, even after the Roman domination, and Nero himself
entered the lists in his own reign. He caused a palace to be erected for
him on that occasion—and of course he won a victory, for any other
outcome would have been most impolite, not to say dangerous. Nero was
more fortunately lodged than were the other ancient contestants, it
appears, for there were no hostelries in old Olympia in which the
visiting multitudes could be housed, and the athletes and spectators who
came from all over the land were accustomed to bring their own tents and
pitch them roundabout, many of them on the farther side of the Alpheios.


The many treasuries, to which reference has been made as running along
the terrace wall at the very foot of the hill of Kronos, are spoken of
by Pausanias. Enough of them is occasionally to be found to enable one
to judge how they appeared—somewhat, no doubt, like the so-called
“treasury of the Athenians” that one may see in a restored form at
Delphi. In these tiny buildings were kept the smaller votive gifts of
the various states and the apparatus for the games. Not far from this
row of foundations and close by the terrace wall that leads along the
hill down to the arch that marks the stadium entrance, are several bases
on which stood bronze statues of Zeus, set up by the use of moneys
derived from fines for fracturing the rules of the games. Various
ancient athletes achieved a doubtful celebrity by having to erect these
“Zanes,” as they were called, one of them being a memorial of the arrant
coward Sarapion of Alexandria, who was so frightened at the prospect of
entering the pankration for which he had set down his name that he fled
the day before the contest.

Within the precinct one may still see fragments of the pedestal which
supported Phidias’s wonderful gold-and-ivory image of Zeus. The god
himself is said to have been so enchanted with the sculptor’s work that
he hurled a thunderbolt down, which struck near the statue; and the spot
was marked with a vase of marble. Just how approval was spelled out of
so equivocal a manifestation might seem rather difficult to see; but
such at any rate was the fact. Of the other remaining bases, the most
interesting is doubtless the tall triangular pedestal of the Niké of
Pæonius, still to be seen _in situ_, though its graceful statue is in
the museum.

Just above the meadows on the farther bank, there runs a range of hills,
through which we had but recently ridden. And it was there that the
ancients found a convenient crag from which to hurl the unfortunate
women who dared venture to look on at the games. The law provided that
no woman’s eye should see those contests, and so far as is known only
one woman caught breaking this law ever escaped the penalty of it. She
was the mother of so many victorious athletes that an unwonted immunity
was extended to her. Other women, whose disguise was penetrated, were
made stern examples to frighten future venturesome maids and matrons out
of seeking to view what was forbidden.

The games at Olympia were celebrated during a period of about a thousand
years, throughout which time they furnished the one recognized system of
dates. They recurred at four-year intervals. Long before the appointed
month of the games, which were always held in midsummer, duly accredited
ambassadors were sent forth to all the cities and states of Hellas to
announce the coming of the event and to proclaim the “peace of God,”
which the law decreed should prevail during the days of the contest, and
in which it was sacrilege not to join, whatever the exigency. On the
appointed date the cities of all Greece sent the flower of their youth
to Olympia, runners, wrestlers, discus throwers, chariot drivers,
boxers, and the like, as well as their choicest horses, to contend for
the coveted trophy. During the first thirteen Olympiads there was but
one athletic event,—a running race. In later times the number was added
to until the race had grown to a “pentathlon,” or contest of five kinds,
and still later to include twenty-four different exercises. None but
Greeks of pure blood could contest, at least until the Roman times, and
nobles and plebeians vied in striving for the victor’s wreath, although
the richer were at a decided advantage in the matter of the horse races.
The prize offered, however, was of no intrinsic value at all, being
nothing but a crown of wild olive, and it astonished and dismayed the
invading Persians not a little to find that they were being led against
a nation that would strive so earnestly and steadfastly for a prize that
seemed so little. As a matter of fact it was not as slight a reward as
it appeared to be, for in the incidental honors that it carried the
world has seldom seen its equal. The man who proved his right to be
crowned with this simple wreath was not only regarded as honored in
himself, but honor was imputed to his family and to his city as well;
and the city generally went wild with enthusiasm over him, some even
going so far as to raze their walls in token that with so gallant sons
they needed no bulwarks. Special privileges were conferred upon him at
home and even abroad. In many cities the victor of an Olympic contest
was entitled to maintenance at the public charge in the utmost honor,
and the greatest poets of the day delighted to celebrate the victors in
their stateliest odes. Thus, although games in honor of the gods were
held at various other points in Greece, as for example at Delphi and at
the isthmus of Corinth, none surpassed the Olympic as a national
institution, sharing the highest honors with the oracle at Delphi as an
object of universal reverence.

Of course the origin of these great games is shrouded in mystery, which
has, as usual, crystallized into legend. And as the pediment in one end
of the temple of the Olympian Zeus, preserved in the museum near by,
deals with this story, it may be in order to speak of it. Tradition
relates that King [OE]nomaus had a splendid stud of race horses of which
he was justly proud, and likewise was possessed of a surpassingly
beautiful daughter whom men called Hippodameia, who was naturally sought
in marriage by eligible young men from all around. The condition
precedent set by [OE]nomaus to giving her hand was, however, a difficult
one. The suitor must race his horses against those of [OE]nomaus,
driving the team himself; and if he lost he was put to death. One
version relates that [OE]nomaus, if he found himself being distanced,
was wont to spear the luckless swains from behind. At any rate nobody
had succeeded in winning Hippodameia when young Pelops came along and
entered the contest. He had no doubt heard of the king’s unsportsmanlike
javelin tactics, for he adopted some subterfuges of his own,—doing
something or other to the chariot of his opponent, such as loosening a
linchpin or bribing his charioteer to weaken it in some other part,—with
the result that when the race came off [OE]nomaus was thrown out and
killed, and Pelops won the race and Hippodameia—and of course lived
happily ever after.

The pedimental sculptures from the great temple reproduce the scene that
preceded the race in figures of heroic size, with no less a personage
than Zeus himself in the centre of the group, while [OE]nomaus and
Pelops with their chariots and horses and their attendants range
themselves on either side, and Hippodameia stands expectantly waiting.
The restorations have been liberal, but on the whole successful; and
besides giving a very good idea of the legend itself, they are highly
interesting from a sculptural point of view as showing a distinctive
style of carving in marble. The other pediment, preserved in about the
same proportion, is less interesting from a legendary standpoint, but is
full of animation and artistic interest. It represents the contest
between the Centaurs and Lapiths, with Apollo just in the act of
intervening to prevent the rape of the Lapith women. This episode had
little appropriateness to the Olympic site, so far as I know, but the
ease with which the Centaur lent himself to the limitations of
pedimental sculpture might well explain the adoption of the incident
here. The head of Apollo is of the interesting type with which one grows
familiar in going through museums devoted to early work, the most
notable thing being the curious treatment of hair and eyes.

The precinct about the great temple was once filled with votive statues,
and Pliny relates that he counted something like three thousand. Of
these it appears that few remain sufficiently whole to add much
interest. But out of all the great assemblage of sculptures there is one
at least surviving that must forever assuage any grief at the loss of
the rest. That, of course, is the inimitable Hermes of Praxiteles, which
everybody knows through reproductions and photographs, but which in the
original is so incomparably beautiful that no reproduction can hope to
give an adequate idea of it, either in the expression of body and
features, its poise and grace, or in the exquisite sheen of marble. They
have wisely set it off by itself in a room which cannot be seen from the
great main hall of the museum, and the observer is left to contemplate
it undistracted. It seems generally to be agreed that it is the
masterpiece of extant Greek sculpture. It is nearly perfect in its
preservation, the upraised arm and small portions of the legs being
about all that is missing. The latter have been supplied, not
unsuccessfully, to join the admirable feet to the rest. No effort has
been made, and happily so, to supply the missing arm. The infant
Dionysus perched on the left arm is no great addition to the statue, and
one might well wish it were not there; but even this slight drawback
cannot interfere with the admiration one feels for so perfect a work.
Hermes alone fully justifies the journey to Olympia, and once seen he
will never be forgotten. The satin smoothness of the marble admirably
simulates human (or god-like) flesh, doubtless because of the processes
which the Greeks knew of rubbing it down with a preparation of wax. No
trace of other external treatment survives, save a faint indication of
gilding on the sandals. If the hair and eyes were ever painted, the
paint has entirely disappeared in the centuries that the statue lay
buried in the sands that the restless Alpheios and Cladeus washed into
the sacred inclosure. For the rivers frequently left their narrow beds
in former times and invaded the precincts of the gods, despite the
efforts of man to wall them out. They have done irreparable damage to
the buildings there, but since they at the same time preserved Hermes
almost intact for modern eyes to enjoy, perhaps their other vandalisms
may be pardoned.

The museum also includes among its treasures a number of the metopes
from the great temple of Zeus, representing the labors of Hercules. But
probably next after the incomparable Hermes must be reckoned the Niké of
Pæonius, standing on a high pedestal at one end of the great main hall,
and seemingly sweeping triumphantly through space with her draperies
flowing free—a wonderful lightness being suggested despite the weight of
the material. This Niké has always seemed to me a fair rival of her more
famous sister from Samothrace, suggesting the idea of victory even more
forcibly than the statue on the staircase of the Louvre, which has an
Amazonian quality suggestive of actual conflict rather than a past
successful issue. The unfortunate circumstance about the Niké at Olympia
is that her head is gone, and they have sought to suspend the recovered
portion of it over the body by an iron rod. A wrist is in like manner
appended to one of the arms, and the two give a jarring note, by
recalling Ichabod Crane and Cap'n Cuttle in most incongruous
surroundings. Nevertheless the Niké is wonderful, and would be more so
if it were not for these lamentable attempts to restore what is not
possible to be restored.

Of all the many little collections in Greece, that in Olympia is
doubtless the best, and it is fittingly housed in a building in the
classic style, given by a patriotic Greek, M. Syngros. Aside from the
artistic remnants, there are a number of relics bearing on the athletic
aspect of Olympia—its chief side, of course. And among these are some
ancient discs of metal and stone, and a huge rock which bears an
inscription relating that a certain strong man of ancient times was able
to lift it over his head and to toss it a stated distance. It seems
incredible—but there were giants in the land in those days.

The modern Olympic games, such as are held in Athens every now and then,
are but feeble attempts to give a classic tone to a very ordinary
athletic meet of international character. There is none of the
significance attached to the modern events that attended the old, and
the management leaves much to be desired. Former visitors are no longer
maintained at the Prytaneum; but, on the contrary, are even denied
passes to witness the struggles of their successors. The games fill
Athens with a profitable throng and serve to advertise the country, but
aside from this they have no excuse for being on Greek soil, and mar the
land so far as concerns the enjoyment of true Philhellenes. Fortunately
there is no possible chance of holding any such substitute games at
Olympia herself. Her glory has departed forever, save as it survives in


                       CHAPTER XIV. THE ISLES OF
                             GREECE: DELOS


It was a gray morning—for Greece. The sky was overcast, the wind blew
chill from the north, and anon the rain would set in and give us a few
moments of downpour, only to cease again and permit a brief glimpse
ahead across the Ægean, into which classic sea our little steamer was
thrusting her blunt nose, rising and falling on the heavy swell. We had
borne around Sunium in the early dawn, and our course was now in an
easterly direction toward the once famous but now entirely deserted
island of Delos, the centre of the Cyclades. Ahead, whenever the murk
lifted, we could see several of the nearer and larger islands of the
group,—that imposing row of submerged mountain peaks that reveal the
continuation of the Attic peninsula under water as it streams away to
the southeast from the promontory of Sunium. The seeming chaos of the
Grecian archipelago is easily reducible to something like order by
keeping this fact in mind. It is really composed of two parallel
submerged mountain ranges, the prolongations of Attica and of Eub[oe]a
respectively, the summits of which pierce the surface of the water again
and again, forming the islands which every schoolboy recalls as having
names that end in “os.” Just before us, in a row looming through the
drifting rain, we saw Kythnos, Seriphos, and Siphnos, while beyond them,
and belonging to the other ridge, the chart revealed Andros, Tenos,
Naxos, Mykonos, and Paros, as yet impossible of actual sight. This
galaxy of islands must have proved highly useful to the ancient
mariners, no doubt, since by reason of their numbers and proximity to
each other and to the mainland, as well as by reason of their
distinctive shapes and contours, it was possible always to keep some
sort of landmark in sight, as was highly desirable in days when sailors
knew nothing of compasses and steered only by the stars. Lovers of
Browning will recall the embarrassment that overtook the Rhodian bark
that set sail with Balaustion for Athens, only to lose all reckoning and
bring up in Syracuse. No ancient ship was at all sure of accurate
navigation without frequent landfalls, and even the hardy mariners of
Athens were accustomed, when en route to Sicily, to hug the rugged
shores of the Peloponnesus all the way around to the opening of the
Corinthian Gulf, and thence to proceed to Corfu before venturing to
strike off westward across the Adriatic to the “heel” of Italy, where
one could skirt the shore again until Sicily hove in sight near the
dreaded haunts of Scylla. Of course other considerations, such as food
and water, added to the desirability of keeping the land in sight most
of the time on so long a voyage; but not the least important of the
reasons was the necessity of keeping on the right road.

We had set sail on a chartered ship, in a party numbering about forty,
most of whom were bent on the serious consideration of things
archæological, while the inconsiderable remainder were unblushingly in
search of pleasure only slightly tinged by scientific enthusiasm. In no
other way, indeed, could such a journey be made in anything like
comfort. The Greek steamers, while numerous, are slow and small, and not
to be recommended for cleanliness or convenience; while their stated
routes include much that is of no especial interest to visitors, who are
chiefly eager to view scenes made glorious by past celebrity, and are
less concerned with the modern seaports devoted to a prosaic traffic in
wine and fruits. To one fortunate enough to be able to number himself
among those who go down to the sea in yachts, the Ægean furnishes a
fruitful source of pleasure. To us, the only recourse was to the native
lines of freight and passenger craft, or to join ourselves to a party of
investigators who were taking an annual cruise among the famous ancient
sites. We chose the latter, not merely because of the better opportunity
to visit the islands we had long most wished to see, but because of the
admirable opportunity to derive instruction as well as pleasure from the
voyage. So behold us in our own ship, with our own supplies, our own
sailing master and crew, sailing eastward over a gray sea, through the
spring showers, toward the barren isle where Ph[oe]bus sprung.

Delos is easy enough to find now, small as it is. It long ago ceased to
be the floating island that legend describes. If we can permit ourselves
a little indulgence in paganism, we may believe that this rocky islet
was a chip, broken from the bed of the ocean by Poseidon, which was
floating about at random until Zeus anchored it to afford a bed for
Leto, that she might be comfortably couched at the birth of Apollo,
despite the promise of Earth that the guilty Leto should have no place
to lay her head. Thus the vow which the jealousy of Hera had procured
was brought to naught, and in Delos was born the most celebrated of the
sons of Zeus, together with his twin sister, Artemis.

Delos is in fact a double island, divided by a narrow strait into
Greater and Lesser Delos. And it was with the lesser portion that we had
to do, as also did ancient history. For despite its insignificant size
and remoteness, Delos the Less was once a chief seat of empire and a
great and flourishing city, as well as the repository of vast wealth.
Distant as it seems from Athens, the island is really quite central with
reference to the rest of the archipelago, and from its low summit may be
seen most of the Cyclades on a clear day. The narrow strait before
referred to furnishes about all the harbor that is to be found at Delos
to-day. Into this sheltered bit of water we steamed and dropped anchor,
happy in the favoring wind that allowed us a landing where it is
occasionally difficult to find water sufficiently smooth for the small
boats; for here, as in all Greek waters, small boats furnish the only
means of getting ashore. There was a shallow basin just before what was
once the ancient city, and doubtless it was considered good harborage
for the triremes and galleys of small draught; but for even a small
steamer like ours it was quite insufficient in depth, and we came to
rest perhaps a quarter of a mile from the landing, while the clouds
broke and the afternoon sun came out warm and bright as we clambered
down to the dories and pulled for the shore.

There proved to be little or no habitation save for the French
excavators and their men, who were completing a notable work in
uncovering not only the ancient precincts of Apollo and of the
headquarters of the Delian league, but the residence portion of the
ancient city as well, which we later discovered to lie off to the east
on the high ground. We landed on a sort of rocky mole erected along the
edge of what was once the sacred harbor and picked our way along a
narrow-gauge track used by the excavators, to the maze of ruins that lay
beyond. It proved as bewildering a mass of fallen marbles as that at
Olympia. The main part of the ruin is apparently a relic of the
religious side of the place, dominated, of course, by the cult of
Apollo. Centuries of reverence had contributed to the enrichment of the
environs of the shrine. All about the visitor finds traces of porticoes
and propylæa, the largest of these being erected by Philip V. of
Macedon, as is testified to by an extant inscription. Little remains
standing of any of the buildings, but the bits of capital and
entablature that lie strewn about serve to give a faint idea of the
nature of the adornment that attended the temples in their prime. It is
not difficult to trace the course of the sacred way leading from the
entrance around the sacred precinct to the eastern façade of the main
temples, lined throughout most of its course by the bases of statues,
altars, and remnants of the foundations of small rectangular buildings
which are supposed to have been treasuries, as at Delphi and Olympia.
Not far away from the main temple of the god is still to be seen the
base of his colossal statue, an inscription reciting that the Naxians
made it, and that they carved statue and base from the same stone.
Whether this means that the figure and base were actually a single
block, or only that the figure and base were made of the same specific
material, has caused some little speculation. As for the statue itself,
there are at least two large fragments on the ground not far away,
easily identified by the modeling as parts of the huge back and breast
of the colossus. One of his feet is preserved in the British Museum, and
a hand is at the neighboring island of Mykonos. The rest is either
buried in the earth near by, or has been carried off by vandals. That
the earth has many treasures still to yield up is evident by the
occasional accidental discoveries recently made on the site by the
diggers. When we were there the construction of a trench for the
diminutive car-track had unearthed a beautifully sculptured lion deep in
the soil; and since that time I have heard that several other similar
finds have been made. So it may be that the lime burners have not made
away with the great Apollo entirely.

There are three temples, presumably all devoted to the cult of Apollo,
and one of them no doubt to the memory of his unfortunate mother, Leto,
who bore him, according to tradition, on the shores of the sacred lake
near by. Not far from the Apollo group are two other ruined shrines,
supposed to have been sacred to Artemis. More interesting than either,
however, to the layman is the famous “hall of the bulls,” which is the
largest and best preserved of all the buildings, and which takes its
name from the carved bullocks on its capitals. It is not saying much,
however, to say that it is better preserved than the others. It is only
so in the sense that its extent and general plan are easier to trace.
Its altar, known as the “horned altar of Apollo,” from the rams’ heads
with which it was adorned, was accounted by the ancients one of the
seven wonders of the world. We were well content to leave the sacred
precinct, and to wander along toward the north, past the Roman agora, in
the general direction of the sacred lake. It proved to be a sorry pool,
stagnant and unattractive compared with what it must have been when it
was in its prime, with its banks adorned with curbing. Not far from its
shores we were shown the remains of several ancient houses, also of the
Roman period, in which the rooms were still divided by walls of a
considerable height. These walls gave occasional evidence of having been
adorned with stucco and frescoes, and the rooms revealed fragments of
tessellated pavement, while under each house was a capacious cistern for
the preservation of rain water. Of course these dwellings, while
recalling Pompeii, were far less perfect in the way of artistic
revelations, being so much older.

These houses, interesting as they were, did not compare with those which
we were later shown on the hill above the precinct. These we passed on
our way up to the theatre, and to those of us who were unskilled in
archæological science they proved to be the most absorbing of all the
ruins on the little island. There are a good many of them, lining
several old streets, as at Pompeii. Their walls are of sufficient
altitude to give even an idea of the upper stories, and in one case, at
least, we were able to mount, by a sadly ruined stone staircase, to what
was once the upper landing. The general arrangement of the rooms was
quite similar to that made familiar by the excavated houses at Pompeii,
the great central court, or atrium, being adorned with a most remarkable
mosaic representing Dionysos riding on a dragon of ferocious mien. It is
kept covered, but a guard obligingly raised the heavy wooden door that
shields it from the weather, and propped it up with a stick so that it
resembled nothing so much as a huge piano lid. The coloring of the
mosaic was lively in spite of its sombreness, and the eyes of the
figures were admirably executed.

All around the atrium were traces of a colonnade, pieces of the columns
remaining intact. The walls were apparently decorated with bits of stone
set deep in a coating of mortar, and once adorned with a colored wash of
red, yellow, and blue. Mural paintings naturally were wanting, for these
houses were not only older than those of the Neapolitan suburb, but they
perished by a slow weathering process instead of by a sudden
overwhelming such as overtook Pompeii. What traces of painting there are
left on the Delian walls are indistinct and rather unsatisfactory, and
recall the childish scrawls of our own day. But the houses themselves,
with their occasional pavements and the one admirable mosaic, leave
little to be desired. Particularly interesting was the revelation of the
drainage system. The houses were not only carefully provided with deep
cisterns for preserving rain water; they had also well-designed channels
for carrying waste water away. Every house in these streets had its
drain covered with flat stones running out to the main sewer of the
street, while those in turn converged in a trunk sewer at the foot of
the slope. It is evident enough that Delos was a dry sort of place, both
by nature and by artifice, and that in the period of the city’s greatest
celebrity it would be impossible for the historian to refer to the muddy
condition existing at that period of the month just before the streets
underwent their regular cleaning.

We had passed well up toward the theatre on the slopes of the height
called Kythnos before we cleared the ancient dwellings. The theatre
itself proved to be roomy, but largely grass-grown and exceedingly steep
to clamber over. The portion devoted to seats was chiefly notable for
occupying considerably more than the traditional semicircle, and for
having its ends built up with huge walls of masonry. Only the lower
seats are preserved. The colonnaded proskenion, which may have supported
a stage, is, however, highly unusual and interesting.

Sundry venturesome spirits climbed to the summit of Kythnos, but it was
no day for the view for which that eminence is celebrated. On a clearer
day a great many of the Cyclades could be seen, no doubt, because of the
central location of the island and the marvelous clarity of the Greek
atmosphere, when it is clear at all. We were unfortunate enough to meet
with a showery April day, which promised little in the way of distant
prospects. Halfway down the side of Kythnos, however, was easily to be
seen the grotto of Apollo. In fact, it is the most constantly visible
feature of the island. It is a sort of artificial cave in the side of
the hill toward the ruins, and here was the earliest of the temples to
the god. Ancient hands added to what natural grotto there was by
erecting a primitive portal for it. Two huge slabs of stone seem to have
been allowed to drop toward one another until they met, forming a mutual
support, so that the effect is that of a gable. Other slabs have been
arranged to form a pitch roof over the spot, and a marble lintel and
gate posts have also been added,—presumably much later than the rest. It
is even probable that this venerable shrine was also the seat of an
oracle, for certain of the internal arrangements of the grotto bear a
resemblance to those known to have existed at Delphi; but if there was
one in Delos, it never attained to the reputation that attended the
later chief home of the far-darting god.



The births of Apollo and Artemis appear to have been deemed quite enough
for the celebrity of Delos; for in after years, when the Athenians felt
called upon to “purify” the city, they enacted that no mortal in the
future should be permitted to be born or to die on the island. In
consequence, temporary habitations were erected across the narrow strait
on the shores of Greater Delos for the use of those _in extremis_ or
those about to be confined. Aside from this fact, the larger island has
little or no interest to the visitor.

There is, of course, a museum at Delos. Some day it will be a very
interesting one indeed. At the time of our visit it was only just
finished, and had not been provided with any floor but such as nature
gave. In due season it will probably rank with any for its archæological
value, although it will be infinitely less interesting than others to
inexpert visitors, who generally prefer statues of fair preservation to
small fragments and bits of inscription. Of the notable sculptures that
must have abounded in Delos once, comparatively little remains;
certainly nothing to compare with the charioteer and the Lysippus at
Delphi, or with the Hermes and pedimental figures at Olympia. The great
charm of Delos to the unskilled mind is to be found in its history and
in its beautiful surroundings. As a birthplace of one of the major gods
of high Olympus, the seat of the Delian league against the Persians, and
the original treasury of the Athenian empire, Delos has history enough
to satisfy an island many times her size. Traces still remain of the
dancing place where the Delian maidens performed their wonderful
evolutions during the annual pilgrimage, which was a feature during the
Athenian supremacy; and the temples and treasuries, ruined as they are,
forcibly recall the importance which once attached to the spot. The
memory still survives of the so-called “Delian problem” of the doubling
of the cube, a task that proved a poser for the ancient mathematicians
when the oracle propounded, as the price of staying a plague, that the
Delians should double the pedestal of Parian marble that stood in the
great temple. But it is almost entirely a place of memories, deserted by
all but the excavators and an occasional shepherd. To-day it is little
more than the bare rock that it was when Poseidon split it from the bed
of the sea. Apollo gave it an immortality, however, which does not wane
although Apollo himself is dead. Athens and Corinth gave it a worldly
celebrity, which proved but temporary so far as it depended on activity
in the world of affairs. Delos, washed by the Ægean, has little to look
forward to but to drowse the long tides idle, well content with her
crowded hour of glorious life, and satisfied that her neighbors should
have the age without a name.


                       CHAPTER XV. SAMOS AND THE
                          TEMPLE AT BRANCHIDÆ


The stiff north wind, which was known to be blowing outside, counseled
delaying departure from Delos until after the evening meal, for our
course to Samos lay through the trough of the sea. In the shelter of the
narrow channel between Greater and Lesser Delos the water was calm
enough to enable eating in comfort, and it was the commendable rule of
the cruise to seek shelter for meals, owing to the lack of “racks” to
prevent the contents of the tables from shifting when the vessel rolled.
Hence it was well along in the evening before the anchor was weighed;
and as the engines gave their first premonitory wheezes, word was passed
from the bridge that all who did not love rough weather would better
retire at once, as we were certain to “catch it” as soon as we rounded
the capes of the neighboring Mykonos and squared away for Samos across a
long stretch of open water. The warning served to bring home to us one
of the marked peculiarities about cruising in the Ægean, namely, the
succession of calm waters and tempestuous seas, which interlard
themselves like the streaks of fat and lean in the bacon from the
Irishman’s pig, which was fed to repletion one day and starved the next.
This, of course, is due to the numerous islands, never many miles apart,
which are forever affording shelter from the breezes and waves, only to
open up again and subject the craft to a rolling and boisterous sea as
it crosses the stretches of open channel between them. When the
experiences due to these sudden transitions were not trying, they were
likely to be amusing, we discovered, as was the case on one morning when
the tables had been laid for breakfast rather imprudently just before
rounding a windy promontory. The instant the ship felt the cross seas
she began to roll heavily, and the entire array of breakfast dishes
promptly left the unprotected table, only to crash heavily against the
stateroom doors that lined the saloon, eliciting shrieks from those
within; while the following roll of the vessel sent the débris careering
across the floor to bring up with equal resonance against the doors on
the other side, the stewards meantime being harassed beyond measure to
recover their scudding cups and saucers.

In the morning of our arrival off Samos we found ourselves moving along
on an even keel, under the lee of that extensive island and close also
to the shores of Asia Minor, the famous promontory of Mykale looming
large and blue ahead. We coasted along the Samian shore, close enough to
distinguish even from a distance the ruins of the once famous Heræum,
which was among the objects of our visit. It was marked from afar by a
single gleaming column, rising apparently from the beach. For the
present we passed it by, the ship heading for the little white town
farther ahead and just opposite the bay made by the great bulk of
Mykale. It was historic ground, for it was at Mykale that the pursuing
Greeks, under Leotychides and Xantippus, made the final quietus of the
Persian army and navy in the year 479 B.C., just after Salamis, by the
final defeat of Tigranes. Mykale, however, we viewed only from afar. The
ship rounded the mole protecting the harbor of what was once the chief
city of Samos, and came to anchor for the first time in Turkish waters.
While the necessary official visits and examination of passports were
being made, there was abundant opportunity to inspect the port from the
deck. It lay at the base of a rugged mountain, and the buildings of the
city lined the diminutive harbor on two sides, curving along a low quay.
In general appearance the town recalled Canea, in Crete, by the
whiteness of its houses and the pale greenness of its shutters and the
occasional slender tower of a mosque. Technically Samos is a Turkish
island. Practically it is so only in the sense that it pays an annual
tribute to the Sultan and that its Greek governor is nominated by that
monarch. It was sufficiently Turkish, in any event, to require passports
and the official call of a tiny skiff flying the crescent flag and
bearing a resplendent local officer crowned with a red fez. The
formalities were all arranged by proxy ashore, and in due time the
ship’s boat returned, bearing the freedom of the city and a limited
supply of Samian cigarettes, which retailed at the modest sum of a franc
and a half the hundred.

Herodotus devotes a considerable space to the history of the Samians in
the time of the Persian supremacy and especially to the deeds of the
tyrant Polycrates, who seized the power of the island and proved a
prosperous ruler. In fact the rampant successes of Polycrates alarmed
his friend and ally, King Amasis of Egypt, who had the wholesome dread
of the ancients for the “jealousy” of the gods; and in consequence
Amasis sent a messenger up to Samos to tell Polycrates that he was too
successful for his own good. Amasis was afraid, according to the
messenger, that some evil would overtake the Samian ruler, and he
advised Polycrates to cast away whatever thing he valued the most as a
propitiation of the gods. The advice so impressed Polycrates that he
recounted his possessions, selected a certain emerald seal-ring that he
cherished exceedingly, took it aboard a fifty-oared galley and, when
sufficiently far out at sea, hurled the treasured ring into the water.
Whereat he returned content that he had appeased the presumably jealous
gods. In less than a week a fisherman, who had taken an unusually
beautiful fish in those waters, presented it as a great honor to
Polycrates, and in dressing it for the table the servants found in its
belly the ring that Polycrates had tried so hard to cast away! The event
was held to be superhuman, and an account of it was promptly sent to
Amasis in Egypt. He, however, judging from it that Polycrates was
inevitably doomed by heaven, ended his alliance with Samos on the naïve
plea that he should be sorry to have anything happen to a friend, and
therefore proposed to make of Polycrates an enemy, that he need not
grieve when misfortune overtook him! Misfortune did indeed overtake
Polycrates, and Herodotus describes at some length how it occurred,
ending his discourse with the remark that he feels justified in dealing
at such length with the affairs of the Samians because they have
accomplished "three works, the greatest that have been achieved by all
the Greeks. The first is of a mountain, one hundred and fifty orgyiæ in
height, in which is dug a tunnel beginning at the base and having an
opening at either side of the mountain. The length of the tunnel is
seven stadia, and the height and breadth are eight feet respectively.
Through the whole length of the tunnel runs another excavation three
feet wide and twenty cubits deep, through which cutting the water,
conveyed by pipes, reaches the city, being drawn from a copious fount on
the farther side of the mountain. The architect of this excavation was a
Megarian, Eupalinus the son of Naustrophus. This, then, is one of the
three great works. The second is a mound in the sea around the harbor,
in depth about a hundred orgyiæ and in length about two stadia. The
third work of theirs is a great temple, the largest we ever have seen,
of which the architect was Rh[oe]cus, son of Phileos, a native Samian.
On account of these things I have dwelt longer on the affairs of the


Footnote 3:

  Herodotus, Book III, section 60.


It was, then, inside this mole, two stadia in length, that we were
anchored. Doubtless the modern mole is still standing on the ancient
foundation, but it would not be considered anything remarkable in the
way of engineering to-day, whatever it may have been deemed in the
childhood of the race. Something in the air of Samos must have bred a
race of natural engineers, no doubt, for not only were these artificial
wonders constructed there, but Pythagoras, the mathematical philosopher,
was born in the island.

From the city up to the remnants of the ancient aqueduct in the mountain
is not a difficult climb, and the tunnel itself affords a great many
points of interest. In an age when tunneling was not a common or
well-understood art, it must indeed have seemed a great wonder that the
Samians were able to pierce the bowels of this considerable rocky height
to get a water supply that could not be cut off. The source of the
flowage was a spring located in the valley on the side of the mountain
away from the town, and it would have been perfectly possible to convey
the water to the city without any tunnel at all, merely by following the
valley around. For some reason this was deemed inexpedient—doubtless
because of the evident chance an enemy would have for cutting off the
supply. The obvious question is, what was gained by making the tunnel,
since the spring itself was in the open and could have been stopped as
readily as an open aqueduct? And the only answer that has been suggested
is that the spring alone is so concealed and so difficult to find that,
even with the clue given by Herodotus, it was next to impossible to
locate it. And in order to conceal the source still further, the burial
of the conduit in the heart of the mountain certainly contributed not a
little. Nevertheless it is a fact that the farther end of the tunnel was
discovered some years ago by tracing a line from the site of this
spring, so that now the aqueduct has been relocated and is found to be
substantially as described by Herodotus in the passage quoted.

Most visitors, possessed of comparatively limited time like ourselves,
are content with inspecting only the town end of the tunnel, which lies
up in the side of the mountain. It is amply large enough to enter, but
tapers are needed to give light to the feet as one walks carefully, and
often sidewise, along the ledge that borders the deeper cutting below,
in which once ran the actual water pipes. The depth of the latter, which
Herodotus calls “twenty cubits,” is considerably greater at this end of
the tunnel than at the other,—a fact which is apparently accounted for
by the necessity of correcting errors of level, after the tunnel was
finished, to give sufficient pitch to carry the water down. In those
primitive days it is not surprising that such an error was made. There
is evidence that the tunnel was dug by two parties working from opposite
ends, as is the custom to-day. That they met in the centre of the
mountain with such general accuracy speaks well for the engineering
skill of the time, and that they allowed too little for the drop of the
stream is not at all strange. The result of this is that, in the end
commonly visited by travelers, there is need of caution lest the unwary
slip from the narrow ledge at the side into the supplementary cut thirty
feet below—a fall not to be despised, either because of its chance of
injury or because of the difficulty of getting the victim out again. So
much, as Herodotus would say, for the water-conduit of the Samians.

From the tunnel down to the ancient Heræum, whither our ship had sailed
to await us, proved to be a walk of something over two miles along a
curving beach, across which occasional streams made their shallow way
from inland to the sea. It was a pleasant walk, despite occasional stony
stretches; for the rugged mountain chain inland presented constantly
changing views on the one hand, while on the other, across the deep blue
of the Ægean, rose the commanding heights of Asia Minor, stretching away
from the neighboring Mykale to the distant, and still snow-crowned,
peaks of the Latmian range. Under the morning sun the prospect was
indescribably lovely, particularly across the sea to the bold coasts of
Asia, the remote mountains being revealed in that delicate chiaroscuro
which so often attends white peaks against the blue. Ahead was always
the solitary column which is all that remains standing of the once vast
temple of Hera, “the largest we ever have seen,” according to the
ingenuous and truthful Herodotus.

There is a reason for holding the spot in an especial manner sacred to
Hera, for it is said by legend that she was born on the banks of one of
the little streams whose waters we splashed through in crossing the
beach to her shrine. The temple itself we found to lie far back from the
water’s edge, its foundations so buried in the deposited earth that
considerable excavation has been necessary to reveal them. The one
remaining column is not complete, but is still fairly lofty. It bears no
capital, and its drums are slightly jostled out of place, so that it has
a rather unfinished look, to which its lack of fluting contributes; for,
as even the amateur knows, the fluting of Greek columns was never put on
until the whole pillar was set up, and every joint of it ground so fine
as to be invisible. We walked up to the ruin through the inevitable
cutting, in which lay the inevitable narrow-gauge track for the
excavator’s cars, but there was no activity to be seen. The excavation
had progressed so far as to leave little more to be done, or there was
no more money, or something had intervened to put an end to the
operations for the time. Not far away, however, along the beach, lay a
few houses, which constituted the habitation of the diggers and of a few
fishermen, whose seine boats were being warped up as we passed.

The exploration of the great temple of Hera has revealed the not unusual
fact that there had been two temples on the same spot at successive
periods. They were not identical in location, but the later overlapped
the earlier, traces of the latter being confined to its lowest
foundation stones. Of the ruins of the later temple there was but
slightly more visible, save for the one standing column and a multitude
of drums, capitals, and bases lying about. The latter were of a type we
had not previously seen. They were huge lozenges of marble ornamented
with horizontal grooves and resembling nothing so much as great cable
drums partially wound—the effect of a multitude of narrow grooves in a
slightly concave trough around the column. They were of a noticeable
whiteness, for the marble of which this temple was composed was not so
rich in mineral substances as the Pentelic, and gave none of that golden
brown effect so familiar in the Athenian temples.

[Illustration: COLUMN BASES. SAMOS]


It was in this great Heræum, which in size rivaled the great temples at
Ephesus and at Branchidæ, that the Samians deposited the brazen bowl
filched from the Spartans, of which the ancients made so much. It
appears that because of Cr[oe]sus having sought an alliance with
Lacedæmonia, the inhabitants of that land desired to return the
compliment by sending him a present. They caused a huge brass bowl to be
made, adorned with many figures and capable of holding three hundred
amphoræ. This they dispatched to Sardis. But as the ship bearing it was
passing Samos on her way, the Samians came out in force, seized the
ship, and carried the great bowl off to the temple, where it was
consecrated to the uses of the goddess. That the Samians stole it thus
was of course indignantly denied,—the islanders retorting that the bowl
was sold them by the Spartans when they discovered that Cr[oe]sus had
fallen before Cyrus and was no longer an ally to be desired. No trace of
any such relic of course is to be seen there now. In fact there is very
little to recall the former greatness of the place but the silent and
lonely column and a very diminutive museum standing near the beach,
which contains disappointingly little. It is, as a matter of fact, no
more than a dark shed, similar in appearance to the rest of the houses
of the hamlet.

The steamer was waiting near by in the sheltered waters of the sound,
and as we were desirous of visiting the temple at Branchidæ that same
afternoon, we left Samos and continued our voyage. Under that
wonderfully clear sky the beauty of both shores was indescribable. The
Asian coast, toward which we now bore our way, was, however, the grander
of the two, with its foreground of plains and meadows and its
magnificent background of imposing mountains stretching far into the
interior and losing themselves in the unimagined distances beyond. The
sun-kissed ripples of the sea were of that incredible blue that one
never ceases to marvel at in the Mediterranean, and it was the sudden
change from this color to a well-defined area of muddy yellow in the
waters through which we glided that called attention to the mouth of the
Mæander on the shore. That proverbially crooked and winding stream
discharges so large a bulk of soil in projecting itself into the sea
that the surface is discolored for a considerable distance off shore;
and through this our steamer took her way, always nearing the low-lying
beach, until we descried a projecting headland, and rounded it into
waters as calm as those of a pond. Here we dropped anchor and once again
proceeded to the land, setting our feet for the first time on the shores
of Asia.

Samos was, of course, still to be seen to the northwest, like a dark
blue cloud rising from a tossing sea. Before us, glowing in the
afternoon sun, stretched a long expanse of open seashore meadow,
undulating here and there, almost devoid of trees, but thickly covered
with tracts of shrubs and bushes, through which we pushed our way until
we came upon an isolated farmhouse and a path leading off over the moor.
It was a mere cart-track through the green of the fields, leading toward
a distant hillock, on which we could from afar make out the slowly
waving arms of windmills and indications of a small town. None of the
many rambles we took in the Greek islands surpassed this two-mile walk
for pure pleasure. The air was balmy yet cool. The fields were spangled
with flowers,—wild orchids, iris, gladioli, and many others. There were
no gray hills, save so far in the distance that they had become purple
and had lost their bareness. All around was a deserted yet pleasant and
pastoral country—deserving, none the less, the general name of moor.

What few people we met on the way were farmers and shepherds, leading
pastoral lives in the little brush wigwams so common in Greek uplands in
the summer months. They gave us the usual cheerful good-day, and looked
after our invading host with wondering eyes as we streamed off over the
rolling country in the general direction of Branchidæ.

That ancient site appeared at last on a hillock overlooking the ocean. A
small and mean hamlet had largely swallowed up the immediate environs of
the famous temple that once stood there, contrasting strangely with the
remaining columns that soon came into view over the roofs, as we drew
near, attended by an increasing army of the youth. The name of the
little modern village on the spot we never knew. Anciently this was the
site of the temple of Apollo Didymeus, erected by the Branchidæ,—a clan
of the neighborhood of ancient Miletus who claimed descent from
Branchus. The temple of Apollo which had formerly stood upon the site
was destroyed in some way in the sixth century before Christ, and the
Branchidæ set out to erect a shrine that they boasted should rival the
temple of Diana at Ephesus in size and in ornamentation. Nor was this an
inappropriate desire, since Apollo and Diana—or Artemis, as we ought to
call her—were twins, whence indeed the name “Didymeus” was applied to
the temple on the spot. Unfortunately the great temple which the
Branchidæ designed was never completed, simply because of the vastness
of the plan. Before the work was done, Apollo had ceased to be so
general an object of veneration, and what had been planned to be his
most notable shrine fell into gradual ruin and decay.

It has not been sufficient, however, to destroy the beauty of much that
the Branchidæ accomplished during the centuries that the work was
progressing, for it is stated that several hundred years were spent in
adorning the site. The fact that one of the few columns still standing
and still bearing its crowning capital is unfluted bears silent
testimony to the fact that the temple never was completed. Of the
finished columns it is impossible to overstate their grace and lightness
or the elegance of the carving on their bases, which apparently were
designed to be different one from another. The pillars that remain are
of great height and remarkable slenderness. Nineteen drums were employed
in building them. The bases, of which many are to be seen lying about,
and some _in situ_, display the most delicate tracery and carving
imaginable, some being adorned with round bands of relief, and others
divided into facets, making the base dodecagonal instead of round, each
panel bearing a different and highly ornate design. Close by we found
the remains of a huge stone face, or mask, apparently designed as a
portion of the adornment of the cornice and presumably one of the
metopes of the temple.

The mass of débris of the great structure has been heaped up for so long
that a sort of conical hill rises in the midst of it; and on this has
been built a tower from which one may look down on the ground plan so
far as it remains. The major part of the ruin, however, is at its
eastern end, the front, presumably, where the only standing columns are
to be seen, rising gracefully from a terrace which has been carefully
uncovered by the explorers. Enough remains to give an idea of the
immense size projected for the building, and better still enough to give
an idea of the elegance with which the ancients proposed to adorn it,
that the Ephesians need not eclipse the Milesians in honoring the twin
gods. Of the rows of statues that once lined the road from the sea to
the shrine, one is to be seen in the British Museum—a curious sitting
colossus of quaintly archaic workmanship, and somewhat suggestive, to my
own mind, of an Egyptian influence in the squat modeling of the figure.

As one might expect of a shrine sacred to Apollo, there seems to have
been an oracle of some repute here; for Cr[oe]sus, who was credulous in
the extreme where oracles were concerned, sent hither for advice on
various occasions, and dedicated a treasure here that was similar to the
great wealth he bestowed upon the shrine at Delphi. Furthermore one
Neco, who had been engaged in digging a canal to connect the Nile with
the Red Sea,—a prototype of the Suez,—dedicated the clothes he wore
during that period to the god at the temple of the Branchidæ. Thus while
the site never attained the fame among Grecians that was accorded the
Delphian, it nevertheless seems to have inspired a great deal of
reverence among the inhabitants of Asia Minor and even of Egypt, which
may easily account for the elaborate care the Branchidæ proposed to
bestow and did bestow upon it.

Our inspection of the temple and the surrounding town was the source of
immense interest upon the part of the infantile population, of which the
number is enormous. The entire pit around the excavations was lined
three deep with boys and girls, the oldest not over fifteen, who
surveyed our party with open-mouthed amazement. They escorted us to the
city gates, and a small detachment accompanied us on the way back over
the moor to the landing, hauling a protesting bear-cub, whose mother had
been shot the week before somewhere in the mountains of Latmos by some
modern Nimrod, and whose wails indicated the presence of a capable pair
of lungs in his small and furry body. He was taken aboard and became the
ship’s pet forthwith, seemingly content with his lot and decidedly
partial to sweetmeats.

The walk back over that vast and silent meadow in the twilight was one
never to be forgotten. There was something mystical in the deserted
plain, in the clumps of bushes taking on strange shapes in the growing
dusk, in the great orb of the moon rising over the serrated tops of the
distant mountains of the interior—and last, but not least, in the
roaring fire which the boatmen had kindled on the rocks to indicate the
landing place as the dark drew on. We pushed off, three boatloads of
tired but happy voyagers, leaving the fire leaping and crackling on the
shore, illuminating with a red glare the rugged rocks, and casting
gigantic and awful shadows on the sea.


                      CHAPTER XVI. COS AND CNIDOS


From the little harbor where we had found shelter for our landing to
visit Branchidæ it proved but a few hours’ steaming to Cos, which was
scheduled as our next stopping place. Like Samos, Cos lies close to the
Asia Minor shore. The chief city, which bears the same name as the
island, unchanged from ancient times, proved to be a formidable looking
place by reason of its great walls and moles, recalling the Cretan
cities much more forcibly than the Samos town had done; for the
yellowish-white fortresses which flank the narrow inner harbor of Cos
resemble both in color and architecture the outworks that were thrown up
to protect the ports of Candia and Canea. Later in the day it was borne
in upon us that these walls were by no means uncommon in the vicinity,
and that they bore witness to the visits of the Crusaders; for the great
walls and castle at Halicarnassus not far away were very similar to the
forts of Cos, and with the best of reasons, since they were the work of
the same hands,—of the so-called “Knights of Rhodes,” who once settled
in these regions and built strongholds that for those times were
impregnable enough. Our next day or two brought us often in contact with
the relics of these stout old knights, who were variously known as of
Rhodes, or of St. John, and, last of all, of Malta. As far as Cos was
concerned, the knightly fortress was chiefly remarkable from the water,
as we steamed past the frowning battlements of buff and dropped anchor
in the open roadstead before the city; for, as is generally the case
with these old towns, there is at Cos no actual harborage for a steamer
of modern draught, whatever might have been the case anciently when
ships were small.

The morning sun revealed the city itself spreading out behind the
fortress, in a great splash of dazzling white amidst the green of the
island verdure, its domes and minarets interspersed with the tops of
waving trees. Behind the city, the land rose gradually to the base of a
long range of green hills stretching off to the southward and into the
interior of the island. It was easily the most fertile and agreeable
land we had yet encountered in our Ægean pilgrimage, and so lovely that
we almost forgot that it was Turkish and that we had been warned not to
separate far from one another on going ashore for fear of complications
and loss of the road. However it was Turkish, this time, pure and
unadulterated, and the examination of our papers and passports was no
idle formality, but was performed with owl-like solemnity by a local
dignitary black-mustachioed and red-fezzed. While this was proceeding
the members of our party stood huddled behind a wicket gate barring
egress from the landing stage and speculated on the probability of being
haled to the dungeons, which might easily be imagined as damp and gloomy
behind the neighboring yellow walls of stone.

The Sultan’s representative being fully satisfied that we might safely
be permitted to enter the island, the gate was thrown back, and in a
quaking body we departed through a stone arcade in which our feet echoed
and reëchoed valiantly, past rows of natives sipping coffee and smoking
the nargileh in the shade, and thence through a stone archway into a
spacious public square, paved with cobble-stones and dominated by the
most gigantic and venerable plane tree imaginable. Its enormous trunk
stood full in the centre of the square, rising from a sort of stone
dais, in the sides of which were dripping stone fountains, deeply
incrusted with the green mildew of age. Overhead, even to the uttermost
parts of the square, the branches spread a curtain of fresh green
leaves. They were marvelous branches—great, gnarled, twisted limbs, that
were as large in themselves as the trunk of a very respectable tree, and
shored up with a forest of poles. Actual measurement of the
circumference of the trunk itself revealed it to be something over forty
feet in girth, and it was not difficult to believe the legend that this
impressive tree really did date back to the time of Hippocrates, the
great physician of Cos, who was born in the island long before the dawn
of the Christian era. In any event, the great plane of Cos is called to
this day the “tree of Hippocrates,” whether it has any real connection
with that eminent father of medicine or not.


We left the shady square by a narrow and roughly paved street, little
wider than an alley and lined with whitewashed houses, closely set. It
wound aimlessly along through the thickly settled portion of the city,
and at last opened out into the country-side, where the houses grew
fewer and other splendid trees became more numerous, generally shading
wayside fountains, beside which crouched veiled native women gossiping
over their water-jars. A pair of baggy-trousered soldiers went with us
on the road, partly as overseers, no doubt, but chiefly as guides and
protectors—the latter office proving quite needless save for the
occasional expert kicking of a barking cur from some wayside hovel. They
proved to be a friendly pair, although of course conversation with them
was impossible, and a lively exchange of cigarettes and tobacco was kept
up as we walked briskly along out of the city and into the open country
that lay toward the hills. Their chief curiosity was a kind of
inextinguishable match, which proved exceedingly useful for smokers
bothered by the lively morning breeze. They were flat matches, seemingly
made of rude brown paper such as butchers at home used to employ for
wrapping up raw meat. The edges were serrated, and when once the match
was lighted it burned without apparent flame and with but little smoke
until the entire fabric was consumed.

The object of this walk, which proved to be of something like three or
four miles into the suburbs of Cos, was to view the remnants of the
famous health temple, sacred, of course, to Asklepios. We found it
situated on an elevation looking down across a smiling plain to the sea,
with the white walls and roofs of Cos a trifle to one side. It was not a
prospect to be forgotten. It was a bright day, but with sufficient haze
in the air to give to the other islands visible across the intervening
water an amethystine quality, and to make the distant summits in Asia
Minor faint and ethereal. The nearer green of the fields, the purple of
the sea, and the delicate hues of the islands and far-away peaks, held
us for a long time before turning to the curious ruin of the temple,
which, as usual, was less a temple than a hospital.

Little remains of it, save for the foundations. Three enormous terraces,
faced with flights of steps of easy grade, led up to the main sanctuary
of the god, comparatively little of which remains to be seen. Various
smaller buildings, shrines for allied divinities, porticoes for the
sick, apartments for the priests, treasuries and the like, are readily
distinguishable, and serve to reveal what an extensive establishment the
health temple was in its time. Restorations of it, on paper, reveal it
as having been probably most impressive, both architecturally and by
reason of its commanding position, which was not only admirable by
nature but accentuated by the long approach over the three successive
terraces to the many-columned main building above.

Of the numerous smaller structures lying about the precinct, the most
curious and interesting were the subterranean treasuries—if that is the
proper name for them—which have been discovered at the foot of the
slope. They apparently consist of vaults in the earth, each covered over
with a massive stone slab. The slab is removable, but only at great
pains. A circular hole pierces it through the centre, suitable for
dropping money or other valuables into the receptacle beneath and for
inserting the tackle with which to lift the rock when the treasury was
to be opened. The vast weight of the stone and the time required for
raising it would have been ample guarantee against unauthorized visits
to the treasury. Other theories accounting for these underground
chambers and their curious coverings have been advanced—the most
fantastic one being the supposition that these were the chambers devoted
to housing the sacred serpents of the god, the holes serving for their
emergence and for the insertion of food! But while the cult of Asklepios
certainly does appear to have made use of the sacred snakes as a part of
its mummery, it seems hardly likely that these subterranean cavities
were used for any such purpose.

As for the practice of medicine in Cos, it is widely believed to have
been of a sensible and even of an “ethical” sort, largely devoid of mere
reliance on idle superstition or religious formalism for its curative
effects, though unquestionably employing these, as was not only the case
in ancient times, but as even persists to-day in some localities of the
archipelago. The religious ceremonies, which generally took the form of
sleeping in the sacred precincts in the hope of being divinely healed,
appear to have been supplemented at Cos by the employment of means of
healing that were rudely scientific. Hippocrates, the most celebrated of
the Coan physicians, has left abundant proof that he was no mere
charlatan, but a common-sense doctor, whose contributions to medical
science have not by any means entirely passed out of esteem. Reference
has been made hitherto to the custom of depositing in the temple
anatomical specimens representing the parts healed, as votive offerings
from grateful patients—a custom which persists in the modern Greek
church, as everybody who examines the altar-screen of any such church
will speedily discover.

The extreme veneration of Asklepios at Cos is doubtless to be explained
by the fact that Cos was an Epidaurian colony; for the Epidaurians
claimed that the healing god was born in the hills overlooking their
valley in the Peloponnesus. At any rate the health temple at Cos and the
great sanitarium at Epidaurus shared the highest celebrity in ancient
times as resorts for the sick; and in each case there are traces to show
that they were sites devoted not only to the worship of a deity, but to
the ministration unto the ailing by physical means, as far as such means
were then understood.

Cos, however, was far from basing her sole claim to ancient celebrity on
her physicians and hospitals. Her embroideries rivaled the more famous
Rhodian work, and she was an early home of culture and resort of noted
students, not only of medicine, but of rhetoric, grammar, poetry,
philosophy, and science. Ptolemy II, otherwise known as Ptolemy
Philadelphus, is known to have studied here, and it is not at all
improbable that the Sicilian poet, Theocritus, was a fellow student with
him. For it is known that Theocritus was a student at Cos at some time,
and he was later summoned to Ptolemy’s Egyptian court, where he wrote
the epithalamium for the unholy marriage between Philadelphus and his
sister. Not a little of the present knowledge of ancient Cos is due to
the writings that Theocritus left as the result of his student days in
the island.

The curator of antiquities in charge of the excavations at the
Asklepeion took us in charge on our return walk and led us through the
city to his own home, where, although we were on Turkish soil, we had a
taste of real Greek hospitality. Our party was numerous enough to appall
any unsuspecting hostess, but we were ushered into the great upper room
of the house, with no trace of dismay on the part of the wife and
daughter. It was a huge room, scrupulously neat and clean, and the forty
or so included in our number found chairs ranged in line about the
apartment, where we sat at ease examining the fragments that the curator
had to show from the mass of inscriptions recovered from the temple.
Meantime, after the national custom, the eldest daughter served
refreshment to each in turn, consisting of preserved quince, glasses of
mastika, and huge tumblers of water. It was a stately ceremony, each
helping himself gravely to the quince from the same dish, and sipping
the cordial, while the mother bustled about supplying fresh spoons. And
with a general exchange of cards and such good wishes as were to be
expressed in limited traveler’s Greek, we departed to the landing and
again embarked.

We designed to push on to Cnidos at once, and to climb the heights of
that ancient promontory of Asia Minor in the late afternoon. But
inasmuch as Halicarnassus, the native city of Herodotus, lay directly on
the way, we sailed into its capacious harbor and out again without
stopping, for the sake of such glance at the site as might be had from
the water. The bay on which the city lies—it is now called Boudrun—is
wonderfully beautiful, running well into the mainland, while the city
itself, with its great white castle of the Knights of St. John as the
central feature, lies at the inmost end. Of the castle we were able to
get a very good view, going close enough to arouse the violent
excitement of a gesticulating Turkish official who came out in a tiny
boat, bravely decked with the crescent flag, to show us where to anchor
if we so desired. The site of the famous Mausoleum was pointed out from
the deck, and most of us were confident that we saw it, although it was
not easy to find. The remains of this incomparably magnificent tomb,
designed for King Mausolus, are, as everybody knows, to be seen in the
British Museum to-day.

It was but a few miles farther to the promontory of Cnidos, and we
dropped anchor there in mid-afternoon, in one of the double bays for
which the ancient naval station was famous. The bays are still separated
by a narrow isthmus—the same which the ancients tried in vain to sever.
The story goes that the drilling of the rocks caused such a flying of
fragments as to endanger the eyes of the workmen, and the oracle when
questioned dissuaded them from continuing the work, saying “Zeus could
have made the land an island if he had intended so to do.” Hence the two
little harbors remain, one on either side of the neck of land that juts
into the sea. They were used as anchorage for triremes and merchant
ships respectively, when Cnidos was a power in the world. To-day the
spot is absolutely deserted, and we found both the diminutive bays
devoid of all trace of life, until at evening a passing fisherman came
in and made all snug for the night.


Above the waters of the harbor towered the commanding rock of the
Cnidian acropolis, something like twelve hundred feet in height—a bare
and forbidding rock, indeed. Of the town and the temples that once
clustered along its base nothing was to be seen. Man has long ago
abandoned this spot and left it absolutely untenanted save by memories.
It was in ancient times a favorite haunt of Aphrodite, and three temples
did honor to that goddess on the knolls above the sea. Here also stood
the marble Aphrodite carved by Praxiteles, and esteemed his masterpiece
by many. It was carried off to Constantinople centuries ago, and
perished miserably in a fire in that city in 1641.

Our three boatloads landed with no little difficulty on the abrupt rocks
of the shore, being somewhat put to it to avoid sundry submerged
boulders lying just off the land. It was a sharp scramble from the
water’s edge to the narrow and ascending shelf above, on which the
temples had stood. The ruins of them lay buried in tall grasses and in
huge clumps of daisies, the latter growing in the most remarkable
profusion. With a single sweep of the knife I cut a prodigious armful of
them, and the dining saloon that night was made a perfect bower by the
wild flowers that the returning party brought back with them.

It was one of the days when the non-archæological section of the party
hastily left the remnants of ancient greatness below and set out
precipitately for a climb, for the prospect of a view from the
overshadowing cliff above was promising. It proved the most formidable
ascent that we undertook in all our Ægean cruising. Anciently there was
a gradual ascent by means of a zigzag causeway to the fortified heights
above, but the majority of us disregarded it and struck off up the steep
toward the summit. It is not a wise plan for any but hardened climbers,
for the slope soon became so sharp that it made one giddy to look back
down the mountain, and the footing was often difficult because of the
shelving stone and fragments of loose rock. Small bushes were the only
growth, and they were often eagerly seized upon to give the needful
purchase to lift us onward and upward. The summit, however, amply
rewarded our toil. It was easier going toward the top, for we found the
old road and rose more gradually toward the point where the ancient
walls began.

From the pinnacle of the rock the sweep of the view was indescribably
fine. The sun was sinking rapidly to the horizon, illuminating the
islands and the sea. The wind had dropped, the haze had disappeared, and
the shore line of Asia Minor stretched away, clear cut, in either
direction. We were practically at the southwest corner of the peninsula.
The rugged headlands retreated to the north and to the east from our
feet, while inland piled the impressive interior mountains rearing their
snow-capped heads against the blue evening dusk. Over the Ægean, dark
blue and violet islands rose from a sea of molten gold. At our feet lay
the twin harbors and our steamer, looking like a toy ship, the thin
smoke of her funnel rising in a blue wisp into the silent evening air.
The fishermen from the tiny smack that had sought a night’s berth there
had kindled a gleaming fire on the beach. Along the sharp spine of the
promontory we could see the ancient line of wall, rising and falling
along the summit and flanked here and there by ruined towers—a
stupendous engineering work of a nation long dead. It was all
impressively silent, and deserted save for ourselves. The course of
empire had indeed taken its westward way and left once powerful Cnidos a
barren waste.

But the darkness coming suddenly in these latitudes at this season
warned us to descend in haste to the fire that was signaling us from the
landing, and we slipped and slid down the old causeway to the boats.
That night the moon was at the full, and we sat late on the after-deck
enjoying the incomparable brilliancy of the light on sea and cliffs,
shining as of old on a time-defying and rock-bound coast, but on a coast
no longer teeming with life and harbors no longer alive with ships. And
at midnight the wheezing of the engines and the jarring of the screw
gave notice that we were slipping out of the harbor of Cnidos and out
into the sea, to Rhodes.


                          CHAPTER XVII. RHODES


It was our purpose to land on Rhodes the isle, not at Rhodes the town.
To visit the famous northern city where once stood the Colossus would
have been highly agreeable had opportunity presented itself; but as it
was we planned to coast along the southeasterly side of Rhodes and make
our landing at the little less celebrated and probably even more
picturesque site of Lindos. So in the morning we woke to find our vessel
rolling merrily in a cross sea just off the entrance to the little bay
that serves Lindos for a harbor,—a sea that stripped our breakfast table
of its few dishes and converted the floor of the saloon into a sea of
broken crockery. The waters of the bay proved calm enough when we had
slid past the imposing promontory on which stood the acropolis of
ancient Lindos, and felt our way across the rapidly shoaling waters to a
safe anchorage. The water was of a wonderful clarity as well as of
remarkable blueness, the bottom being visible for many fathoms and
seeming much more shoal than was the case in fact. We were able to go
quite close to shore before anchoring, and found ourselves in good
shelter from the wind that was then blowing, although well outside the
tiny inner port which lay at the foot of a steep bluff. Towering above
the whole town stood the precipitous and seemingly inaccessible
acropolis, its steep sides running down to the sea, the rich redness of
the rock contrasting on the one hand with the matchless blue of the
Ægean, and on the other with the pure whiteness of the buildings of the
town. The summit of the promontory was crowned with the ruin of a castle
of the Knights of Rhodes, who had once made this a famous stronghold in
the Middle Ages. In fact the residence of the knights had obliterated
the more ancient remnants of the classic period, which included a temple
of Athena; and the work of exhuming the Greek ruins from under the
débris of the Crusaders’ fortress was only just beginning when we landed

From the ship, the most conspicuous object on the heights was the ruined
castle of St. John, the portal of which, giving the sole means of access
to the plateau on top of the promontory, was plainly to be seen as we
sailed in. It gave the impression of yellowish-brown sandstone from
below, a color which it shared with the goodly battlements that frowned
down from all sides of the citadel, even where the abruptness of the
declivity for something like three hundred feet made battlements a
seeming work of supererogation. Nestling under the shadow of the mighty
rock on the landward side lay the modern village of Lindos itself,
apparently freshly whitewashed and gleaming in the sun wherever the rock
failed to shelter it from the morning warmth. It was one of those
marvelously brilliant days that have made the Greek atmosphere so
famous—cloudless and clear, with that clearness that reveals distant
objects so distinctly, yet so softly withal. As for the nearer
prospects, they were almost trying to the eyes, under the forenoon glare
beating down on that immaculate array of close-set white houses and

Our boats set off shoreward across a placid sheet of water that varied
from a deep indigo at the ship to the palest of greens as it surged
among the fringes of slippery rock along the foot of the bluff. The
landing stage was but a narrow shelf of pebbly beach, from which a rough
paved way led steeply up to the town just above the sea. The contrast of
the blue sky and the white purity of the town was dazzling in the
extreme, and the glare accounted in a measure for the veiled women and
sore-eyed children we met in the courtyards of the town. Our own eyes
soon ached sufficiently to make us walk in single file along the shady
side of the high-walled streets, looking chiefly at the shadow and only
occasionally at the houses and shops as we wound along into the heart of
the village. But even these occasional glimpses revealed the most
fascinating of little details in the local architecture, curious Gothic
and Moorish windows surviving from a bygone day and ornamented with the
border of “rope” pattern worked in the stone. Almost everything had been
covered with the dazzling whitewash, save here and there a relic of
former days which was allowed to retain the natural color of the native

In most of the cases the actual dwellings were set well back from the
streets, which were extremely narrow and crooked. Between the highway
and the house was invariably a tiny courtyard, screened from the view of
passers by a lofty wall, always of white. The yards were occasionally to
be peered into, however, through a gate left temptingly ajar. These
diminutive courts were floored with pebble work in black and white
designs throughout their extent, save where the matron of the house had
a flower bed under cultivation. These beds and boxes of flowers were a
riot of color and filled the air with fragrance, while the green foliage
furnished a lively contrast with the dead white of the walls behind.

In the doorways of the dwellings within could be seen groups of bashful
women, and shy children hiding in their mothers’ skirts, who looked
furtively at us as we stopped hesitatingly before their gates. Growing
bolder we finally ventured to set foot within the courtyards now and
then, charmed with the sweetness of the tiny gardens; and at length we
made bold to enter and to walk over the pleasant firmness of the pebbly
pavements of white and black tracery to the doorways, where the women
gave a timid but welcoming good-day and bade us come in. The absence of
men was notable. We were later told that the male population of Lindos
was temporarily away, being largely employed in the construction of the
great dam at Assouan, on the Nile; and that in consequence the women had
practically the sole charge in Lindos at the time, which may have
accounted for the immaculateness of everything. We were likewise told
that in the evening a certain hour was reserved for the sole use of the
women, who might be free to wander at will through the streets, chiefly
to get water for their households, without fear of molestation. Lindos
for the time was an Adamless Eden, and as spick and span a town as it
would be possible to find on earth.

The houses into which we were welcomed proved to be as clean within as
without. The lower story apparently consisted as a general thing of a
single great room, with possibly a smaller apartment back of it for
cooking. This large room was the living room and sleeping room as well.
The floor was scrubbed until its boards shone. The walls were of the
universal white. On one side of the room—and occasionally on both
sides—was to be seen a sort of dais, or elevated platform, which
apparently served for the family bed. The bedding, including blankets
and rugs of barbaric splendor, was neatly piled on the platform or hung
over the railing of it. And it was here, according to all appearance,
that the entire household retired to rest in a body at night, in
harmonious contiguity.

What interested us most of all, however, was the decoration of the
rooms. Nearly every one that we entered was adorned with numerous plates
hung on the wall in great profusion, seldom more than two being of the
same pattern, and including all sorts of designs, from the valuable
Rhodian down to the common “willow” patterns of our own grandmothers’
collections at home. This heterogeneous array of plates puzzled us not a
little at first. It was so universal among the householders, and
representative of so wide a field of the ceramic art, that some
explanation of the presence of these plates seemed necessary. Later it
developed that the Rhodian custom has long been to mark the birth of
each child by the addition of a plate to the family collection, the
fewer duplicates the better. The agglomeration of these dishes that we
saw represented the family trees for generations. Despite the connection
presumably existing between the plates and the family history, however,
we found the women not reluctant to part with specimens for a price, and
we carried away not a few. The comparatively rare instances in which we
found any of the genuine and celebrated Rhodian ware, however, proved
that its great value was well known by the native women. Their prices in
such cases proved prohibitive, especially in view of the risk of
breakage involved in getting the plates home from so distant an island.
These plates, notable for the beauty of their design and for the
distinguishing rose pattern in the centre, are often to be found in
museum collections, and their great rarity and consequent value unfits
them for other uses than those of the collector. The few that we found
in Lindos were to be had for prices equivalent to about eighty dollars
apiece in our money, which seemed exorbitant until we were later told
that even one hundred dollars would have been reasonable enough for some
of the finer specimens. Indeed, it is getting to be rather unusual to
find one of these for sale at all.

There are opportunities enough, as we discovered, to purchase the famous
Rhodian embroidery; but we were cautioned to leave the bargaining to
experts familiar with values, for the infrequent visitor is almost
certain to be imposed upon in any such transaction. These embroideries,
or at least the older ones, are very elaborate creations of colored
wools on a background of unbleached linen, the colors being remarkably
rich and fresh despite their age, an age that is eloquently testified to
by the stains and worn places in the cloth. The subject of Rhodian
embroidery is a most interesting one, but too intricate and technical to
be gone into here. The study of the growth of certain well-defined
groups of conventionalized figures might well furnish material for a
considerable body of literature, if it has not already done so. We were
informed that the wealth of Rhodian embroidery was due to the ancient
custom—which may still exist among the Rhodian girls—to begin the
preparation of the nuptial gear at a tender age, they plying their
needles almost daily, until by the time they are marriageable they have
accumulated a surprising amount of bizarre blankets, cloths, and bits of
finery for their dower chests.

The leisurely progress through the town required some time, occupied as
we were by frequent visits to the odd little houses in the quest of
curious wares to carry away. And by the time we had reached the centre
of the town, the hot sun made us glad indeed to step under a spacious
arch, washed underneath with a sky-blue tint which was restful to our
tired eyes, and thence to go into the cool and aromatic quiet of a very
old Greek church, where the glare of the sun on the white buildings
could be forgotten. Most notable of all the curious things shown us by
the attendant priest was the quaintly carved roof, which, after so much
excessive light out of doors, it was decidedly difficult to see at all
in the grateful gloom of the church.

We delayed but a little while there, for the acropolis above was the
ultimate goal of our visit to the spot. Thither we were conducted by the
Danish gentleman who had charge of the investigations being prosecuted
there. The way led out of the dense buildings of the town and along the
base of the overhanging cliff to the side toward the open sea, always
upward and above the flat roofs of the little town below, until we came
to the foot of the stairway of stone leading up through a defile in the
rock to the arched portal of the castle on the height. It was a long
flight of steps, one side against the smooth face of the rock, the other
unprotected. And at the foot of the impressive approach to the citadel
was one of the most interesting of the discoveries made on the site. It
was a gigantic sculpture in bas-relief hewn out of the face of the cliff
itself and representing, in “life size,” so to speak, the stern of an
ancient trireme. The relief was sufficiently high to give a flat space
on what was intended to be the deck of the ship, supposably as a
pedestal for some statue which has disappeared. The curved end of the
trireme with its sustaining bolt, the seat of the helmsman, and a blade
of one of the oars, were still intact, and as a large representation of
a classic ship the sculpture is doubtless unique, To all intents and
purposes it is as perfect to-day as when the artists first carved it.


  _From a Sketch by the Author_

In the grateful shade of the rock we sat and listened to the description
of the archæological work done on the spot by the Danes, which has not,
at this writing, been officially published, and therefore seems not
proper matter for inexpert discussion here. One interesting fact,
however, which we were told, was that, by means of certain records
deciphered from tablets found on the acropolis, it had been possible to
fix definitely the date of the statue of the Laocoön as a work of the
first century before Christ. This was established by the list of the
names of the priests, and of the sculptors who worked for them, at
periods which it proved possible to fix with a remarkable degree of


We ascended to the height above, where we were permitted to wander at
will among the ruins. As from below, the chief features were those of
the medieval period, which had so largely swallowed up the temple of
Athena. Nevertheless the excavators had restored enough of the original
site from its covering of débris to reveal the vestiges of the old
temple and an imposing propylæa, with traces enough in fragmentary form
to enable making drawings of the structures as they probably appeared to
the ancient eye. For the rest the chief interest centred in the relics
of the abode of the knights. Just at the head of the grand entrance
stairway was the tower which defended the acropolis on its one
accessible side. The arched portal is very nearly perfect still, and one
passes under it, across a sort of moat, by means of an improvised bridge
of planks, where once, no doubt, a drawbridge served to admit or to bar
out at the will of the Grand Master of the ancient commandery. Beyond
the entrance hall lay a succession of vaulted halls and chambers leading
around to the open precincts of the acropolis, the most evidently
well-preserved buildings being the chapel of St. John and the house once
occupied by the Grand Master himself. All were of the brownish native
rock, and were unmistakably medieval in their general style of
architecture. On the open terraces above the entrance, little remained
to be seen save the heaps of débris and the faint traces of the classic
temples. But most impressive of all was the sheer drop of the rock on
all sides around the acropolis and the views off to sea and inland over
Rhodes. The precipices everywhere, save at the entrance alone, fell away
perpendicularly to the sea, which murmured two or three hundred feet
below. Nevertheless, despite the evident hopelessness of ever scaling
the height, the painstaking knights had built a wall with battlements
all about, less serviceable as protecting the inhabitants against
assault than for preserving them from falling over to a certain and
awful death themselves. The drop on the landward side was considerably
less, but quite as steep and quite as impregnable to would-be scaling
parties. Even a few munitions of war, in the shape of rounded stones
about the size of old-fashioned cannon balls seen in our modern military
parks, were to be found about the summit.

The views from this elevated height were superb, not only off across the
sea to the mountainous land of Asia Minor, but inland toward the rocky
interior of Rhodes herself. The land just across the little depression
in which the white town lay, rose to another though less commanding
height, in the slopes of which the excavator said they had but recently
unearthed some ancient rock tombs. Beyond, the country rolled in an
undulating sea of green hills—a pleasant land as always, and doubtless
as flowery as of old when she took her name from the rose (rhodos) and
when the wild pomegranate flower gave Browning’s “Balaustion” her
nickname. As a colony of the Athenian empire she stood loyal to the
Attic city down to 412 B.C., in those troublous days of the
Peloponnesian war, when the star of Athens waned and most of the
Rhodians at last revolted. Those who still clung to Athens probably went
away as Balaustion did, and returned, if at all, only after Athens had
been laid waste to the sound of the flute. Under the Roman domination
Rhodes enjoyed a return to high favor, and Tiberius selected the smiling
isle as his place of banishment. For siding with Cæsar, Cassius punished
the island by plundering it. For centuries after, it was overrun by the
Arabs; and from them it was taken by the Byzantines, who turned it over
to the Knights of St. John, who took the new name of the Knights of
Rhodes, fortified the spot as we saw, and held it for a long time
against all comers, down to 1522, when the Sultan Solyman II. reduced
it. It is still Turkish territory, and of the finds made by the
archæologists on the site of Lindos, the great bulk have been sent to
Constantinople, including several hundred terra cotta figurines. The
zealous Turks, the excavators complained, had taken away their books on
landing, with the result that they had led a lonely life of it, their
only diversion being their labors on the acropolis.

We had no chance to inspect the interior of the island, which other
visitors have described in glowing colors as most attractive in the
profusion of its almost tropic verdure and its growths of cactus,
oleander, myrtle, figs, and pomegranates. Like Cos, Rhodes was an
ancient seat of culture, greatly favored by students, and the site of a
celebrated university. Æschines founded here a famous school of oratory,
and in later years the institution was honored by the patronage of no
less a personage than the Roman Cicero. Of these, of course, we saw no

Neither had we any opportunity to visit the ancient capital, “Rhodes the
town,” which boasts the ruins of a very similar castle of the knights.
As for the famous Colossus, which nearly everybody remembers first of
all in trying to recall what were the wonders of the world, it no longer
exists. But in passing one may remark that the notion that this gigantic
statue bestrode the harbor has been exploded, destroying one of the most
cherished delusions of childhood which the picture in the back of
Webster’s Unabridged contributed not least of all in producing, in the
past two generations.

There were three celebrated cities in Rhodes in its golden age—Lindos,
Ialysos, and Kameiros—which, with Cos, Cnidos, and Halicarnassus, formed
the ancient Dorian “hexapolis,” or six cities, four of which it had been
our good fortune to visit within the past two days. The city of Rhodes
was formed comparatively late by inhabitants from the three original
cities of the island, and became a prosperous and influential port. The
inhabitants were seafaring people and developed a high degree of skill
in navigation, with an interesting corollary in their code of maritime
law, from which a faint survival is found in the doctrine of “general
average” in our own admiralty practice, sometimes referred to as the
Rhodian law, and having to do with the participation of all shippers in
such losses as may be occasioned by throwing a part of the cargo
overboard to save the whole from loss. To visit Kameiros and the
interior would have been interesting but impossible, and we found our
consolation for the inability to visit other Rhodian sites in the
loveliness of Lindos, with its acropolis above and its pure white walls
below, its gardens, its courtyards, and its collections of plates. And
we left it with regret—a regret which was shared no doubt by the lonely
Danish explorer whom we left waving adieu to us from the shore as we
pulled away across the shallow waters of the harbor to the steamer, and
turned our faces once more toward the west and that Athens of which
Balaustion dreamed.


                          CHAPTER XVIII. THERA


No island that we visited in our Ægean cruise was more interesting than
Thera proved to be, when we had steamed across the intervening ocean
from Rhodes and into the immense basin that serves Thera—or modern
Santorin—for a harbor. No more remarkable harbor could well be

If Vesuvius could be imagined to sink into Naples bay until there were
left protruding only about a thousand feet of the present altitude; if
the ocean should be admitted to the interior of the volcano by two great
channels or fissures in the sides—one at the point where the ubiquitous
Mr. Cook has—or did have—his funicular railway, and the other in the
general locality represented by the ill-starred Bosco Trecase; and if
the present awesome crater, into which so many thousand visitors have
peered, should thus be filled throughout its extent by the cooling
waters, so as to form a great and placid bay within the mountain,—then
we should have an almost exact reproduction of what happened at Thera
something like four thousand years ago. Furthermore, if we may add to
our Vesuvian hypothesis the supposition that there be built along the
eastern lip of the crater a long white town, stretching for perhaps a
mile along the sharp spine of the summit, we should have an equally
exact reproduction of what exists at Thera to-day.

Thera lies at the end of the chain of submerged peaks that reveal the
continuation of the Attic peninsula under the waters of the Ægean. The
same rocky range of mountains that disappears into the sea at Sunium
rises again and again as it stretches off to the southeast to form the
islands of Cythnos, Seriphos, Siphnos, and their fellows, and the series
closes, apparently, in the volcanic island of Santorin, under which name
the moderns know the island which the ancients called successively
Kallista (most beautiful) and Thera. Considering her beauty as an island
and her comparative nearness to the mainland of Greece or to Crete,
Thera is surprisingly little known. Historically Thera had small
celebrity compared with her neighbors; but in every other way it seemed
to us that she surpassed them all. Legend appears to have left the
island comparatively unhonored, and poetry has permitted her to remain
unsung. No Byron has filled high his bowl with Theran wine. No burning
poetess lived or sang in her single tortuous street. No god of Olympus
claimed the isle for his birthright. But for beauty of every kind, from
the pastoral to the sublimely awful, Thera has no fellow in the Ægean;
and for extraordinary natural history and characteristics, it is
doubtful if it has a fellow in the world. For it is a sunken volcano,
with a bottomless harbor, where once was the centre of fiery activity,—a
harbor, rimmed about with miles of encircling precipices, on the top of
one of which lies the town of Thera, a thousand feet straight up above
the sea, and reachable only by a steep and winding mule track which
connects it with the diminutive landing stage below.

[Illustration: Santorin]

There appears to be a wide divergence of opinion as to the exact date
when the original mountain was blown to pieces and sunk in the ocean,
but it may be roughly stated to have occurred in the vicinity of the
sixteenth century before Christ, although some authorities incline to
believe the eruption to have come to pass at a still earlier period. As
to the inhabitants before the time of that extraordinary upheaval,
little is known save what may be gleaned from a multitude of pottery
vases left behind by those early settlers, and bearing ornamentation of
a rude sort that stamps them as belonging to the remote pre-Mycenæan
age, the age that preceded the greatness of Agamemnon’s city and the
sack of Troy. It seems entirely probable that the early Therans were
from Ph[oe]nicia, and tradition says that they came over under the
leadership of no less a personage than Cadmus himself. What we know for
a certainty, however, is that at some prehistoric time the original
volcano underwent a most remarkable change and subsided, with a blaze of
glory that can hardly be imagined, into the waters of the Ægean, until
only the upper rim and three central cones are now to be seen above the
water’s edge. Through two enormous crevices torn in the northern and
southern slopes the irresistible ocean poured into the vast central
cavity, cooling to a large extent the fiery ardor of the mountain and
leaving it as we found it, a circle of frowning cliffs, nearly a
thousand feet in height and something like eighteen miles in periphery,
inclosing a placid and practically bottomless harbor in what was once
the volcano’s heart, the surface of the bay pierced by only three
diminutive islands, once the cones of the volcano, and not entirely
inert even to-day. In fact one of these central islands appeared as
recently as 1866 during an eruption that showed the fires of Santorin
not yet to be extinguished by any means—a fact that is further testified
to by the heat of certain portions of the inclosed waters of the basin.


Into this curious harbor our little chartered ship glided in the early
light of an April morning, which dimly revealed the walls of forbidding
stone towering high above in cliffs of that black, scarred appearance
peculiar to volcanic formation, marred by the ravages of the ancient
fires, yet none the less relieved from utter sullenness here and there
by strata of rich red stone or by patches of grayish white tufa.
Nevertheless it was all sombre and forbidding, especially in the early
twilight; for the sun had not yet risen above the horizon, much less
penetrated into the cavernous depths of Thera’s harbor. High above,
however, perched on what looked like a most precarious position along
the summit of the cliff, ran the white line of the city, already
catching the morning light on its domes and towers, but seeming rather a
Lilliputian village than a habitation of men; while far away to the
north, on another portion of the crater wall, a smaller city seemed
rather a lining of frost or snow gathered on the crater’s lip.

A few shallops made shift to anchor close to the foot of the precipice,
where a narrow submarine shelf projects sufficiently to give a
precarious holding ground for small craft; and near them were grouped a
few white buildings showing duskily in the morning half-light and
serving to indicate the landing stage. In the main, however, there is
little anchorage in the entire bay, which is practically bottomless. No
cable could fathom the depth of the basin a few rods off shore, and
fortunately none is needed, since the shelter is perfect. The steamer
held her own for hours by a mere occasional lazy turning of her screw.
To the southward lay the broad channel through which our ship had
entered, and to the north lay the narrow passage through which at
nightfall we proposed to depart for Athens. Everywhere else was the
encircling wall of strangely variegated rock, buttressed here and there
by enormous crags of black lava, which sometimes seemed to strengthen it
and sometimes threatened to fall crashing to the waters directly below.
Indeed landslides are by no means uncommon in Thera, and several persons
have been killed even at the landing place by masses of stone falling
from above.

As the light increased at the base of the cliff, it became possible to
see the donkey track leading in a score or more of steep windings up the
face of the rock from the landing to the city high above, arched here
and there over old landslips or ravines, while near by were to be seen
curious cave-dwellings, where caverns in the tufa had been walled up,
provided with doors and windows, and inhabited.

There was some little delay in landing, even after our small boats had
set us ashore on the narrow quay, slippery with seaweed and covered with
barnacles. We were herded in a rather impatient group behind a row of
shore boats drawn up on the landing stage, and detained there until
“pratique” had been obtained, which entitled us to proceed through the
devious byways of the tiny village close by to the beginning of the
ascent. The wharf was covered with barrels, heaps of wood, carboys
covered with wicker, and all the paraphernalia to be expected of the
port of a wine-exporting, water-importing community; for Thera has to
send abroad for water, aside from what she is able to collect from the
rains, and also relies largely on her neighbors for wood. There are
almost no native trees and no springs at all; and one French writer
apparently has been greatly disturbed by this embarrassing difficulty,
saying, “One finds there neither wood nor water, so that it is necessary
to go abroad for each—and yet to build ships one must have wood, and to
go for water ships are necessary!”

On emerging from the cluster of small buildings at the base of the cliff
and entering upon the steep path which leads to the city above, we at
once encountered the trains of asses that furnish the only means of
communication between the village of Thera above and the ships
below—asses patiently bearing broad deck-loads of fagots, or of boards,
or of various containers useful for transporting liquids. It was easily
possible to hire beasts to ride up the winding highway to Thera, but as
the grade was not prohibitive and as the time required for a pedestrian
to ascend was predicted to be from twenty minutes to half an hour, these
were voted unnecessary, especially as it was still shady on the bay side
of the cliff and would continue so for hours. So we set out, not too
briskly, up the path. It proved to be utterly impracticable for anything
on wheels, being not only steep but frequently provided with the broad
steps so often to be seen in Greek and Italian hill towns, while it was
paved throughout with blocks of basalt which continual traffic had
rendered slippery in the extreme. The slipperiness, indeed, renders the
ascent to Thera if anything easier than the coming down, for on the
latter journey one must exercise constant care in placing the feet and
proceed at a pace that is anything but brisk, despite the downward

[Illustration: THERA]

The only care in going up was to avoid the little trains of donkeys with
their projecting loads and their mischievous desire to crowd pedestrians
to the parapet side of the road, a propensity which we speedily learned
to avoid by giving the beasts as wide a berth as the constricted path
would allow, choosing always the side next the cliff itself; for the
sheer drop from the parapet soon became too appalling to contemplate as
the way wound higher and higher, turn after turn, above the hamlet at
the landing. The view speedily gained in magnificence, showing the bay
in its full extent, with the two entrance channels far away and the
detached portion of the opposite crater wall, now called Therasia, as if
it were, as it appears to be, an entirely separate island of a small
local archipelago, instead of one homogeneous but sunken mountain.
Directly below lay the landing stage with its cluster of white
warehouses, the scattered cave-dwellings, and the tiny ships moored
close to the quay—small enough at close range, but from this height like
the vessels in a toy-shop. So precipitous is the crater wall that one
could almost fling a pebble over the parapet and strike the settlement
at the foot of the path. The varying colors of the rock, when brought
out by the growing sunlight, added a sombre liveliness to the view, the
red tones of the cliff preponderating over the forbidding black of the
lava, while here and there a long gash revealed the ravages of a
considerable landslip.

It was, indeed, a half-hour’s hard climb to Thera. But when the town did
begin, it stole upon us ere we were aware, isolated and venturesome
dwellings of the semi-cave type dropping down the face of the cliff to
meet the highway winding painfully up, these in turn giving place to
more pretentious dwellings with flat or domed roofs, all shining with
immaculate whitewash and gleaming in the morning sun, in sharp contrast
with the dark rocks on which they had their foundation. The scriptural
architect who built his house upon the sand might well have regarded
that selection as stable and secure compared with some of these Theran
dwellings; for although they are founded upon a rock and are in some
cases half sunk in it, there seems to be little guarantee that the rock
itself may not some day split off and land them down among the ships.

When the winding path finally attained the summit, it was found to
debouch into a narrow public square, flanked by the inevitable museum of
antiquities and a rather garish church; the latter painfully new, and,
like all Greek houses of worship, making small pretense of outward and
visible signs of inward and spiritual grace. It may be sacred to St.
Irene, and very likely is, for the island takes its modern name from
that saint and boasts innumerable shrines to her memory. We take credit
to ourselves that, although Thera called loudly with manifold charms, we
first sought the sanctuary; but to our shame we did not remain there
long. A venerable priest, perspiring under a multitude of gorgeous
vestments, was officiating in the presence of a very meagre
congregation, composed of extremely young boys and a scant choir.
Fortunately for our peace of mind, this particular church’s one
foundation was on the side of the square away from the precipice, giving
a sense of security not otherwise to be gained. But the mountain, even
on its gentler side, is far from being gradual, and is only less steep
than toward the inner basin. The “blessed mutter of the mass” in Greek
is so unintelligible to foreign ears that it soon drove us forth into
the air outside and then to the little museum next door, where were
displayed the rather overwhelming antiquities of the place,—mainly vases
that had been made and used long before the eruption which destroyed the
island’s original form so many thousand years before. Many of these were
graceful in form, and some are in quite perfect preservation despite
their fragility and the enormous lapse of time, revealing still the rude
efforts of the early artist’s brush in geometric patterns, lines,
angles, and occasionally even primitive attempts to represent animal
shapes. Doubtless these relics are no more ancient than those to be seen
by the curious in the palace of Minos in Crete, and are paralleled in
antiquity by pottery remnants in other pre-Mycenæan sites; but for some
reason the lapse of ages since they were made and used comes home to one
with more reality in Thera than elsewhere, I suppose because of the
impressive story of the eruption at such a hazy distance before the dawn
of recorded history. So overpowering did these silent witnesses of a
bygone day prove, that we disposed of them with a celerity that would
have shocked an archæologist, and betook ourselves straightway to the
modern town without, which ran temptingly along the ridge of the summit
northward, presenting, like Taormina, a single narrow street lined with
the whitest of shops and dwellings, with here and there narrow byways of
steps leading up or down, as the case might be, to outlying clusters of
buildings. This main thoroughfare, hardly wider than a city sidewalk,
follows the uneven line of the mountain top, winding about and dodging
up and down, sometimes by inclined planes and sometimes by flights of
steps, such as are common enough in side streets of Italian or Greek
hill towns.

From the higher points the city presented a sea of undulating white, the
roofs divided almost evenly between the flat, parapeted style, designed
to catch the falling rain, which is doubly precious in the island, and
the dome, or half-barrel style, which bears witness to the local
scarcity of timber, making necessary this self-supporting arch of
cement. Thus over and over again is the lack of wood and water brought
to mind. At a turn in the main street there disclosed itself a
fascinating vista of white walls, inclosing neat courtyards,
pebble-paved in black and white after the island manner, and framing in
the distance a many-arched campanile in clear relief against the
brilliant sky, the glare of the whiteness mitigated by the strong
oblique shadows and the bronze green of the bells.

[Illustration: A THERAN STREET]

Two things prevented our tarrying in Thera indefinitely. One was the
urgent need of returning to our steamer and pursuing our cruise through
the Ægean; the other was the lack of suitable lodging. However, it is
likely that the latter would have proved anything but an insuperable
obstacle if tested by an irresistible force of intrepid determination,
for lodging we could have found, despite the fact that Thera boasts no
hotel. Wandering along the street and stopping now and then to inspect
the curious wayside shops, or to gaze in wonder through gaps in the
walls of dwellings at the incredible gulf yawning beyond and beneath, we
came suddenly upon a coffee-house which completed our capture. The
proprietor, as it developed, spoke Italian enough to give us common
ground, ushered us out upon a balcony that looked toward the water, and
produced a huge flagon of the wine of the country. Ah, the wine of the
country! It was yellow. It was not sickish sweet, like the Samian that
Byron praised so. It was warming to the midriff and made one charitable
as one sipped. Overhead flapped a dingy awning in the lazy western
breeze. Below wound the donkey path, with its trains of asses silently
ascending and descending through the shimmering heat of the April
morning. Far, far beneath, and indeed almost directly at our feet, lay
the toy-ships and the steamer, close by the little hamlet of the landing
stage, where tiny people, like ants, scurried busily, but at this
distance made no sound. Across the sea of rising and falling roofs came
the tinkle of an insistent church bell, calling the congregation of some
church of St. Irene. Bliss like this is cheap at three drachmas, with a
trifling addition of Greek coppers for good-will! It was on this narrow
balcony overlooking the bay that we fell in love with Thera. Before we
had been merely prepossessed.

The Greek word for hotel sounds suspiciously like “Senator Sheehan” in
the mouth of the native, as we had long ago learned; so we instituted
inquiry as to that feature of the town, in the hope some day of
returning thither for a more extended stay, with opportunity to explore
the surrounding country. A distant and not unpromising edifice was
pointed out, a coffee-house like our own, but provided with a large room
where rather dubious beds were sometimes spread for the weary, according
to our entertainer; and it may be that his shrug was the mere product of
professional jealousy. Inexorable fate, however, decreed that we should
not investigate, but content ourselves with rambling through the town
from end to end, enjoying its quaint architecture, its white walls
relieved only by touches of buff or the lightest of light blues, its
incomparable situation on this rocky saddle, and its views, either into
the chasm of the harbor or outward across the troubled expanse of the
Ægean to other neighboring islands.

At the north end of the city, where the houses ceased and gave place to
the open ridge of the mountain, there stood an old mill, into the
cavernous depths of which we were bidden enter by an aged crone. It
revealed some very primitive machinery, the gearing being hewn out of
huge slices of round logs in which rude cogs were cut. Just outside
stood a sooty oven, for the miller not only ground the neighborhood
corn, but converted it into bread. Beyond the mill there was nothing in
the way of habitation, although on a distant bend of the crater there
was visible a white patch of basalt that bore the appearance of a
populous city with towers and battlements. Still farther to the north,
at the cape next the channel out to sea, lies an inconsiderable town,
similarly situated on the ridge, while along the bay to the south are
occasional settlements and windmills. But Thera town is the only
congested centre of population.

In attempting to analyze the impression that Thera made on us, we have
come to the conclusion that its chief charm, aside from its curious
position, is its color; and that the difficulty of describing it is due
in large part to the inability to paint in words the amazing contrasts
of rock, city, and sky, not to mention the sea. One may depict, although
feebly, the architectural charm, with the aid of his camera, or, if duly
gifted, may chant the praise of Theran wine. With the aid of geological
statistics one may tell just how the mountain would appear if we could
draw off the ocean and expose its lower depths, leaving a circle of
mountain inclosing a three-thousand foot cup, and jagged central cones.
One might, by a superhuman effort, do justice to the importunity of the
begging children of the town. But to give a true account of Thera
demands the aid of the artist with his pigments, while best of all is a
personal visit, involving little time and trouble to one visiting
Greece—little trouble, that is to say, in comparison with the charms
that Thera has to show. And it is safe to say that every such visitor
will pick his way gingerly down over the slippery paving stones to the
landing below with a poignant sense of regret at leaving this beauty
spot of the Ægean, and sail out of the northern passage with a sigh,
looking back at the lights of Thera, on the rocky height above the bay,
mingling their blinking points with the steady stars of the warm
Mediterranean night.


                       CHAPTER XIX. NIOS; PAROS;
                            A MIDNIGHT MASS


We spent Easter Sunday at Paros. It proved to be a mild and not
especially remarkable day in the local church, which was old and quaint
and possessed of many highly interesting features within and without, of
which we must speak later on, for some of its portions date back to the
pagan days. Its floor was littered with the aromatic leaves which had
been dropped and trampled under foot the night before by the worshipers
at the midnight mass; for it appeared that the chief observance of the
feast in the Greek church was on the night before Easter, rather than on
the day itself. Indeed we ourselves had been so fortunate, on the
previous evening, as to attend this quaint nocturnal ceremony at the
neighboring island of Ios, or Nios, as it is variously called.

Our little ship, as is the usual custom among the Greeks, had a shrine
in the end of its saloon, with an icon, and a lamp was perpetually
burning before it. The Greek takes his religion seriously, and makes it
a part of his life afloat and ashore, it would seem. On Good Friday, for
example, our national flag was lowered to half-mast and kept there in
token of mourning for the crucified Lord, until the church proclaimed
His rising from the dead, when it once again mounted joyously to the
peak. The men seemed religiously inclined, and it was in deference to a
request of the united crew, preferred while we lay in the harbor of
Santorin, that it was decided to run north from that island to Nios,
which was not far away and which possessed one of the best harbors in
the Ægean, in order that the native sailors and the captain might
observe the churchly festival according to custom—a request that was the
more readily granted because we were all rather anxious to see the
Easter-eve ceremony at its climax. Those who had witnessed it in
previous years vouched for it as highly interesting, and such proved to
be the fact; for between the ceremony itself and the excitement of
reaching the scene, this evening furnished one of the most enjoyable of
all our island experiences.

In reply to questions touching upon the remoteness of the church at Nios
from the landing, the second officer, who spoke Italian, had assured us
with a high disregard of the truth that it was “vicino! vicino!” It was
pitch dark before we neared Nios, however, and as the moon was due to be
late in rising that night we got no warning glimpse of the land, but
were made aware of its approach only by a shapeless bulk in the dark
which suddenly appeared on either hand, the entrance to the harbor being
vaguely indicated by a single light, past which we felt our way at
little more than a drifting pace until we were dimly conscious of hills
all about, half-guessed rather than visible in the gloom. Then, faint
and far away, we began to hear the clamor of the village bells, rung
with that insistent clatter so familiar to those acquainted with
southern European churches. That their notes sounded so distant gave us
some idea at the outset that the mate’s “vicino” might prove to be a
rather misleading promise, but very little was to be told by the sound,
save that the churches from which the bells were pealing lay off
somewhere to the right and apparently up a hill. Light there was none,
not even a glimmer; and our three dories put off for the shore over an
inky sea in becoming and decorous silence, toward the point where a
gloom even more dense than the sky showed that there was land. The
effect of it all was curious and had not a little of solemnity in it, as
we groped our way to shore with careful oars and then felt about in the
dark for the landing. The forward boat soon announced that some stone
steps leading upward from the water had been found, and the rowers
immediately raised a shout for lights, as one by one we were handed up
the slimy stairs to the top of a broad stone quay, on which some white
buildings could be dimly seen. A lantern did materialize mysteriously
from some nook among the ghostly houses, and came bobbing down to the
water’s edge, serving little purpose, however, save to make the rest of
the darkness more obscure. By its diminished ray the party were
assembled in a compact body, and received admonition to keep together
and to follow as closely as possible the leader, who bore the light.

These instructions, while simple enough to give, proved decidedly
difficult to follow. The moon was far below the horizon, and the stars,
while numerous and brilliant, gave little aid to strangers in a strange
land, who could see no more than that they were on a deserted pier
flanked by dim warehouses, and a long distance from the bells which were
calling the devout to midnight prayer. The lantern set off along the
flagstones of the deserted hamlet; and after it in single file clattered
the rest of us, keeping up as best we could. We emerged in short order
from the little group of huts by the wharf and came out into a vast and
silent country, where all was darker than before, save where the leading
lantern pursued its fantastic way upward over what turned out to be a
roughly paved mule track leading into a hill. Like most mule tracks, it
mounted by steps, rather than by inclines, and the progress of the long
file of our party was slow and painful, necessitating frequent halts on
the part of the guide with the lantern, while a warning word was
constantly being passed back along the stumbling line of pedestrians as
each in turn stubbed his toes over an unlooked-for rise in the grade.
There was little danger of wandering off the path, for it was bordered
by high banks. The one trouble was to keep one’s feet and not to stumble
as we climbed in the dark, able scarcely to see one another and much
less to see anything of the path. The bells ceased to ring as we
proceeded, and even that dim clue to the distance of the town was lost.
Decidedly it was weird, this stumbling walk up an unknown and
unfrequented island path in the dead of night; for it was long past
eleven of the clock, and the Easter mass, as we knew, should reach its
most interesting point at about twelve. Knowing this we made such haste
as we could and the little town of Nios stole upon us ere we were aware,
its silent buildings of gray closing in upon the road and surrounding us
without our realizing their presence, until a sudden turning of the way
caused the lantern far ahead to disappear entirely from our view in the
mazes of the town.

It was as deserted as the little wharf had been. Moreover it was as
crooked as it was dark. Here and there an open doorway gave out across
the way a single bar of yellow light, but most of the habitations were
as silent as the tomb, their owners and occupants being in church long
before. On and on through a seeming labyrinth of little streets we
wound, the long thread of the party serving as the sole clue to the way,
as did Ariadne’s cord; for the lantern was never visible to the rear
guard now, owing to the turns and twists of the highway. Twice we met
belated church-goers coming down from side paths with their tiny
lanterns, and the utter astonishment on their faces at beholding this
unexpected inundation of foreigners at that unearthly hour of night was
as amusing as it was natural. Once the thread of the party was broken at
a corner, and for an anxious moment there was a council of war as to
which street to take. It was a lucky guess, however, for a sudden turn
brought the laggards out of the obscurity and into a lighted square
before the doors of the church itself—a tiny church, white walled and
low roofed, and filled apparently to its doors, while from its open
portals trickled the monotonous chant of a male choir, the voices always
returning to a well-marked and not unmelodious refrain.

In some mysterious way, room was made for us in the stifling church,
crowded as it was with men and women. Candles furnished the only light.
On the right a choir of men and boys, led by the local schoolmaster,
chanted their unending, haunting minor litany. An old and bespectacled
priest peered down over the congregation from the door of the
iconostasis. Worshipers came and went. The men seemed especially devout,
taking up the icon before the entrance and kissing it passionately and
repeatedly. On each of us as we entered was pressed a slender taper of
yellow wax, perhaps a foot in length, and we stood crowded in the little
auditorium holding these before us expectantly, and regarded with lively
and good-humored curiosity by the good people within. Presently the
priest came forward from the door of the altar-screen with his candle
alight, which was the signal for an excited scramble by a dozen small
boys nearest him to get their tapers lighted first—after which the fire
ran from candle to candle until everybody bore his tiny torch; and
following the old priest, we all trooped out into the square before the
church, where the service continued.

That was a sight not easily to be forgotten—the tiny square, in the
centre of which stood the catafalque of Christ, while all around stood
the throng of worshipers, each bearing his flaring taper, the whole
place flooded with a yellow glow. The monotone of the service continued
as before. The gentle night breeze sufficed now and then to put out an
unsheltered candle here and there, but as often as this occurred the
bystanders gave of their fire, and the illumination was renewed as often
as interrupted.

The quaint service culminated with the proclamation of the priest that
Christ had risen,—"Christos anéste,"—at which magic words all restraint
was thrown off and the worshipers abandoned themselves to transports of
holy joy. A stalwart man seized the bell-rope that dangled outside the
church and rang a lively toccata on the multiple bells above, while
exuberant boys let fly explosive torpedoes at the walls of neighboring
houses, making a merry din after the true Mediterranean fashion; for the
religious festivals of all southern countries appear to be held fit
occasions for demonstrations akin unto those with which we are wont to
observe our own national birthday. We were soon aware that other
churches of the vicinity had reached the “Christos anéste” at about the
same hour, for distant bells and other firecrackers and torpedoes
speedily announced the rising of the Lord.

Doubtless a part of the Easter abandon is due to the reaction from the
rigorous keeping of Lent among the Greeks, as well as to a devout
sentiment that renews itself annually at this festival with a fervor
that might well betoken the first novel discovery of eternal salvation
as a divine truth. The Greek Lent is an austere season, in which the
abstinence from food and wine is astonishingly thorough. Indeed, it has
been reported by various travelers in Hellas in years past that they
were seriously inconvenienced by the inability they met, especially in
Holy Week, to procure sufficient food; for the peasantry were
unanimously fasting, and unexpected wayfarers in the interior could find
but little cheer. The native manages to exist on surprisingly little
sustenance during the forty days. On the arrival of Easter it is not
strange that he casts restraint to the winds and manifests a delight
that is obviously unbounded. However, it need not be inferred from this
that undue license prevails, for this apparently was not the case—not in
Nios, at any rate. The service, after the interruption afforded by bells
and cannonading, resumed its course, and was said to endure until three
o'clock in the morning; a fact which might seem to indicate that the
Easter pleasuring was capable of a decent restraint and postponement,
although the Lord had officially risen and death was swallowed up in

Our own devotion was not equal to the task of staying through this long
mass, as it was already well past the midnight hour, and we had made a
long and strenuous day of it. So, with repeated exchanges of “Christos
anéste” between ourselves and the villagers, we set out again through
the narrow byways of the town, and down over the rough mule path to the
ship, each of us bearing his flaring taper and shielding it as well as
possible from the night wind; for the sailors were bent on getting some
of that sacred flame aboard alive, and in consequence saw to it that
extinguished candles were promptly relighted lest we lose altogether the
precious fire. We made a long and ghostly procession of winking lights
as we streamed down over the hillside and out to the boats—a fitting
culmination to one of the most curious experiences which the Ægean
vouchsafed us.

We found the “red eggs” peculiar to the Greek Easter awaiting us when we
came aboard—eggs, hard-boiled and colored with beet juice or some
similar coloring matter, bowls of which were destined to become a
familiar sight during the week or two that followed the Easter season.
The Greeks maintain that this is a commemoration of a miracle which was
once performed to convince a skeptical woman of the reality of the
resurrection. She was walking home, it seems, with an apron full of eggs
which she had bought, when she met a friend whose countenance expressed
unusual rejoicing, and who ran to meet her, crying, “Have you heard the
news?” “Surely not,” was the reply. “What is this news?” “Why, Christ
the Lord is risen!” “Indeed,” responded the skeptic, "that I cannot
believe; nor shall I believe it unless the eggs that I carry in my apron
shall have turned red." And red they proved to be when she looked at

Owing to the exhaustion due to the festivities of the night before, we
found Easter Sunday at Paros a quiet day indeed. The streets of the
little town proved to be practically deserted, for it was a day of
homekeeping, and no doubt one of feasting. The occasional vicious snap
of a firecracker was to be heard as we landed on the mole that serves
the chief town of Paros for a wharf and started for a short Sunday
morning ramble through the streets. From the landing stage the most
conspicuous object in Paros was a large white church not far from the
water, rejoicing in the name of the “Virgin of a Hundred Gates,” as we
were told we should interpret the epithet “hekatonpyliani.” It proved to
be a sort of triple church, possessing side chapels on the right and
left of the main auditorium, and almost as large. In that at the right
was to be seen a cruciform baptismal font, very venerable and only a
little raised from the level of the floor, indicating the uses to which
this apartment of the church was put. The presence of ancient marble
columns incorporated into this early Christian edifice was likewise
striking. In the main church the most noticeable thing was the
employment of a stone altar-screen, or iconostasis, with three doors
leading into the apse behind instead of the customary single one, an
arrangement which has often been commented upon as resembling the
proskenion of the ancient theatre. It was all deserted, and the air was
heavy with old incense and with the balsamic perfume of the leaves and
branches that had fallen to the floor and been trampled upon during the
mass of the previous night. It was all very still, very damp and cool,
and evidently very old, doubtless supplanting some previous pagan

In the court before the church stood a sort of abandoned monastery, as
at the pass of Daphne, only this one was spotless white, and with its
walls served to shut in completely the area in front of the church
itself. In a portion of the buildings of this inclosure is a small
museum, chiefly notable for inscriptions, one of which refers to
Archilochus, the writer of Iambic verse, who lived in Paros in the
seventh century before the birth of Christ.


The chief fame of Paros was, of course, for its marbles. The quarries
whence these superb blocks came lay off to the northeast, we were aware;
and had time only allowed, they might have been explored with profit.
The Parian marble was the favorite one for statues, owing to its
incomparable purity and translucence, and the facility with which it
could be worked up to a high finish. It was quarried under ground, and
thus derived its designation, “lychnites,” or “quarried-by-candlelight.”
Those who have visited the subterranean chambers formed by the men who
anciently took marble from the spot relate that the exploration of the
quarries is fraught with considerable interest and with not a little
danger, owing to the complex nature of the galleries and the varying

In wandering around the little modern town which occupies the site of
the ancient city of Paros, and bears the name of Paroikia, we found not
a little color to delight the eye, although the streets were generally
rather muddy and squalid. On the southerly side of the harbor, where the
basic rock of the island rises to a considerable height, there was
anciently a small acropolis, which is still crowned with a rather
massive tower built by the Franks out of bits of ancient marble
structures. From the outside, the curious log-cabin effect caused by
using marble columns for the walls, each drum laid with ends outward,
was most apparent and striking. Within we found a tiny shrine, deserted
as the great church had been, but still giving evidence of recent
religious activity. Aside from the remnants of old temples, serving as
the marble logs of this Frankish stronghold, there seemed to be little
in Paros to recall the days when she was one of the richest of all the
Athenian tributaries. A few prehistoric houses have been uncovered and
several ancient tombs. But the most lasting of all the classic monuments
are the quarries, now deserted, but still revealing the marks of the
ancient chisels, whence came the raw material for most of the famous
Greek sculptures preserved to us.

To us, seated on the pebbly beach and idly listening to the lapping of
the Ægean waves, as we sunned ourselves and awaited the time for
embarking, there appeared a native, gorgeous in clothes of a
suspiciously American cut. He drew near, smiling frankly, and with a
comprehensive gesture which explicitly included the ladies in his query,
said: “Where do you fellers come from?” He had served in the American
navy, it appeared, and had voyaged as far as the Philippines. Other
Parians ranged themselves at a respectful distance and gazed in
open-mouthed admiration at their fellow townsman who understood how to
talk with the foreigners, and who walked along with a lady on either
side, whom he constantly addressed as “you fellers” to their unbounded
amusement and delight. We convoyed him to a wayside inn near the quay,
under two spindling plane trees, and plied him with coffee as a reward
for his courtesy and interest; and later we left him standing with bared
head watching our little ship steam away westward, toward the setting
sun and that land to which he hoped one day to follow us once more.

Our return to Athens from our island cruise was by way of the
southeastern shore of the Peloponnesus, touching at Monemvasía, a rocky
promontory near the most southern cape, and connected with the mainland
by a very narrow isthmus, which it has even been necessary to bridge at
one point; so that, strictly speaking, Monemvasía is an island, rather
than a promontory or peninsula. It is a most striking rock, resembling
Gibraltar in shape, though vastly smaller. In fact, like Gibraltar, it
has the history of an important strategic point, though it is such no
longer. Its summit is still crowned by a system of defenses built by the
Franks, and the inclosure, which includes the entire top of the rock,
also contains a ruined church. A narrow and not unpicturesque town
straggles along the shore directly beneath the towering rock itself,
much as the town of Gibraltar does, and in it may be seen other ruined
churches, belonging to the Frankish period largely, and unused now. The
entrance to this village is through a formidable stone gateway in the
wall, which descends from the sheer side of the cliff above. A steep
zig-zag path leads up from the town to the fort, which although deserted
is kept locked, so that a key must be procured before ascending.

Those who have seen the Norman defenses at the promontory of Cefalù, on
the northern coast of Sicily, will recognize at once a striking
similarity between that place and this Grecian one, not only from a
topographical standpoint, but from the arrangement of the walls at the
top and lower down at the gateway that bars the upward path. Cefalù,
however, is in a more ruinous condition than this Frankish fortress
to-day. In point of general situation and view from the summit the two
are certainly very similar, with their broad outlook over sea and
mainland. The sheer sides of the promontory made it a practically
inaccessible citadel from nearly every direction, save that restricted
portion up which the path ascends, and the defense of it against every
foe but starvation was an easy matter. Even besiegers found it no easy
thing to starve out the garrison, for it is on record that the stout old
Crusader Villehardouin sat down before the gates of Monemvasía for three
years before the inhabitants were forced to capitulate.

The name of Monemvasía is derived from the fact that the isolated rock
crowned with the fortress is connected with the mainland by a single
narrow neck affording the only entrance. Hence the Greek μόνη ἔμβασις
(moné emvasis) was combined in the modern pronunciation to form the not
unmusical name of the place and has a perfectly natural explanation.
Moreover the same name, further shortened, lives again in the name of
“Malmsey” wine, which is made from grapes grown on rocky vineyards and
allowed to wither before gathering, as was the custom in the old
Monemvasía wine industry.

Of course the village at the base of the cliff is wholly unimportant
now. Malmsey wine is no longer the chief product of this one solitary
spot, but comes from Santorin, Portugal, Madeira, and a dozen other
places, while Monemvasía and the derivation of the word are largely
forgotten. The town has sunk into a state of poverty, and as for the
fort, it is capable neither by artifice nor by natural surroundings of
defending anything of value, and hence is of no strategic importance. It
has had its day and probably will never have another. It is, however,
ruggedly beautiful, and the town, if degraded and half ruined, is still
highly picturesque, though unfortunately seldom visited by Greek
pilgrimages. It formed a fitting close for our island cruise, and indeed
it is, as we discovered, really an island itself, the ribbon of isthmus
connecting it with the Peloponnesus having been severed years ago, when
Monemvasía was worthy to be counted a stronghold. The gap in the land is
now spanned by a permanent bridge, so that practically Monemvasía is a
promontory still, lofty and rugged, but not ungraceful; and its imposing
bulk loomed large astern as we steamed back along the coast toward the
Piræus and home.


                           CHAPTER XX. CORFU


The city of Patras, from which port we are about to take leave of
Greece, is probably the most incongruous city in the kingdom. To be sure
it is second in importance to Piræus, and the latter city is quite as
frankly commercial. But the proximity of the Piræus to Athens and the
presence of the Acropolis, crowned with its ruined temples always in the
field of view, conspire to take a little of the modern gloss off the
major port, and thus prevent it from displaying an entire lack of
harmony with those classic attributes which are the chief charm of
Hellas. Patras has no such environment. It has no such history. It is a
busy seaport town, a railroad centre, and it is about everything that
the rest of Greece is not. It even has a trolley line, which no other
Greek city at this writing has, although of course the years will bring
that convenience to Athens, as they have already brought the third-rail
inter-urban road to the sea.

Patras appears to have been as uninteresting in antiquity as it is
to-day, though doubtless from its advantageous position on the Gulf of
Corinth it was always a more or less prosperous place. A very dubious
tradition says that the Apostle Andrew was crucified here; and whether
he was or not, St. Andrew has remained the patron saint of the town. In
any event, Patras shares with Corinth the celebrity of being one of the
earliest seats of Christianity in Greece, although it is a celebrity
which Corinth so far overshadows that poor Patras is generally
forgotten. It probably figures to most Hellenic travelers, as it has in
our own case, as either an entrance or an exit, and nothing more. Still,
after one has spent a fortnight or more in the wilds of the
Peloponnesian mountains, an evening stroll through the brilliantly
lighted streets of the city comes not amiss, and gives one the sense of
civilization once more after a prolonged experience of the pastoral and

It was stated early in this book that probably the ideal departure from
Greece is by way of the Piræus, as by that route one leaves with the
benediction of the Acropolis, which must be reckoned the crowning glory
of it all. But since we have elected to enter by the eastern gate in
voyaging through these pages, it is our lot to depart by the western,
and to journey back to Italy by way of Corfu, the island of Nausicaa. It
is not to be regretted, after all. One might look far for a lovelier
view than that to be had from the harbor of Patras. The narrow strait
that leads into the Corinthian Gulf affords a splendid panorama of
mountain and hill on the farther side, as the northern coast sweeps away
toward the east; while outside, toward the setting sun, one may see the
huge blue shapes of “shady Zakynthos,” and “low-lying” Ithaca—which it
has always struck me is not low-lying at all, but decidedly hilly.
Through the straits and past these islands the steamers thread their
way, turning northward into the Adriatic and heading for
Corfu—generally, alas, by night.

The redeeming feature of this arrangement is that, while it robs one of
a most imposing view of receding Greece, it gives a compensatingly
beautiful approach to Corfu on the following morning; and there is not a
more charming island in the world. It lies close to the Albanian shore,
and with reference to the voyage between Patras and Brindisi it is
almost exactly half way. In Greek it still bears the name of Kerkyra, a
survival of the ancient Corcyra, the name by which it was known in the
days when Athens and Corinth fought over it. The ancients affected to
believe it the island mentioned in the Odyssey as “Scheria,” the
Phæacian land ruled over by King Alcinoös; and there is no very good
reason why we also should not accept this story and call it the very
land where the wily Odysseus was cast ashore, the more especially since
his ship, converted into stone by the angry Poseidon, is still to be
seen in the mouth of a tiny bay not far from the city! We may easily
drive down to it and, if we choose, pick out the spot on shore where the
hero was wakened from his dreams by the shouts of Nausicaa and the maids
as they played at ball on the beach while the washing was drying.

In the ancient days, when navigation was conducted in primitive fashion
without the aid of the mariner’s compass, and when the only security lay
in creeping from island to island and hugging the shore, Corcyra became
a most important strategic point. In their conquest of the west, the
Greeks were wont to sail northward as far as this island, skirting the
mainland of Greece, and thence to strike off westward to the heel of
Italy, where the land again afforded them guidance and supplies until
they reached the straits of Messina. So that the route of Odysseus
homeward from the haunts of Scylla and Charybdis and the isle Ortygia
was by no means an unusual or roundabout one. This course of western
navigation gave rise to continual bickering among the great powers of
old as to the control of Corcyra, and Thucydides makes the contention
over the island the real starting-point of the difficulties that
culminated in the Peloponnesian war and in the overthrow of the Athenian

Modern Corfu has a very good outer harbor, suitable for large craft,
although landing, as usual, is possible only by means of small boats.
The declaration in Bædeker that the boatmen are insolent and rapacious
appears no longer to be true. The matter of ferriage to shore seems to
have been made the subject of wise regulation, and the charge for the
short row is no longer extortionate. From the water the city presents a
decidedly formidable appearance, being protected by some massive
fortifications which were doubtless regarded as impregnable in their
day, but which are unimportant now. They are of Venetian build, as are
so many of the fortresses in Greek waters. Aside from the frowning
ramparts of these ancient defenses, the town is a peaceful looking place
in the extreme, with its tall white and gray houses, green-shuttered and
trim. It is a town by no means devoid of picturesqueness, although it
will take but a few moments’ inspection to convince the visitor that
Corfu is by nature Italian rather than Greek, despite its incorporation
in the domains of King George. Corfu has always been in closer touch
with western Europe than with the East, and it is doubtless because she
has enjoyed so intimate a connection with Italy that her external
aspects are anything but Hellenic. Moreover the English were for some
years the suzerains of the island, and have left their mark on it, for
the island’s good, although it is many years since the British
government honorably surrendered the land to Greece, in deference to the
wish of the inhabitants.

Despite the Venetian character of the fortresses, they remind one
continually of Gibraltar, although of course infinitely less extensive.
Particularly is this true of the "fortezza nuova," which it is well
worth while to explore because of the fine view over the city and harbor
to be had from its highest point. A custodian resides in a tiny cabin on
the height and offers a perfectly needless telescope in the hope of
fees, although it is doubtful that many ever care to supplement the eye
by recourse to the glass. The prospect certainly is incomparably
beautiful. Below lies the city with its narrow streets and lofty
buildings, and before it the bay decked with white ships, contrasting
with the almost incredible blue of the water, for the ocean is nowhere
bluer than at Corfu. Across the straits not many miles away rises the
bluff and mountainous mainland of Albania and Epirus, stretching off
north and south into illimitable distances. Behind the town the country
rolls away into most fertile swales and meadows, bounded on the far
north by a high and apparently barren mountain. All the narrow southern
end of the island is a veritable garden, well watered, well wooded,
covered with grass and flowers, and rising here and there into low,
tree-clad hills. Trim villas dot the landscape, and on a distant hill
may be seen from afar the gleaming walls of the palace which belonged to
the ill-fated Empress of Austria.

From the fortress southward toward the bay where lies the “ship of
Ulysses,” there runs a beautiful esplanade along the water front, lined
with trees and flanked on the landward side by villas with most
luxuriant gardens. Even though the British occupation came to an end as
long ago as 1865, the roadways of the island bear the marks of the
British thoroughness, and make riding in Corfu a pleasure. The houses
along the way are largely of the summer-residence variety, the property
of wealthy foreigners rather than of native Corfiotes; and their
gardens, especially in the springtime, are a riot of roses, tumbling
over the high walls, or clambering all over the houses themselves, and
making the air heavy with their fragrance. The trees are no less
beautiful, and the roads are well shaded by them. After a month or so of
the comparatively treeless and often barren mainland of Greece, this
exuberant Eden is a source of keen enjoyment with its wanton profligacy
of bloom.

[Illustration: “SHIP OF ULYSSES.” CORFU]

It cannot be more than two miles, and perhaps it is rather less, over a
smooth road and through a continuous succession of gardens, from the
town of Corfu out to the little knoll which overlooks the bay and “ship
of Ulysses,” and the view down on that most picturesque islet and across
the placid waters of the narrow arm of the sea in which it lies,
furnishes one of the most beautiful prospects in the island. The “ship”
itself is a rather diminutive rock not far from shore, almost completely
enshrouded in sombre, slender cypresses, which give it its supposed
similarity to the Phæacian bark of the wily Ithacan. Nor is it a
similarity that is entirely imaginary. Seen from a distance, the pointed
trees grouped in a dark mass on this tiny isle do give the general
effect of a vessel. Those who know the picture called the “Island of
Death” will be struck at once with the similarity between the “ship” and
the painter’s ideal of the abode of shades; and with the best of
reasons, for it is said that this island was the model employed. Amidst
the dusk of the crowded trees one may distinguish a monastery, tenanted
we were told by a single monk, while on a neighboring island, closer to
the shore and connected therewith by a sort of rocky causeway, there is
another monastery occupied by some band of religious brothers. This
island also is not without its charms, but the eye always returns to
that mournful abandoned “ship,” which surpasses in its weird fascination
any other thing that Corfu has to show.

The Villa Achilleion, which lies off to the southward on a lofty hill,
shares with the ship of Ulysses the attention of the average visitor,
and worthily so, not only because of the great beauty of the villa
itself, with its mural paintings of classic subjects and its wonderful
gardens, but because of the exquisite view that is to be had over the
island from the spot. The lively verdure, the vivid blueness of the sea,
and the gloomy rocks of the Turkish shore, all combine to form a picture
not soon to be forgotten. As for the Achilleion itself, it was built for
the Empress of Austria, who was assassinated some years ago, and the
estate has now, I believe, passed into private hands. The road to it is
excellent, and occasional bits of the scenery along the way are highly
picturesque, with now and then an isolated and many-arched campanile,
adorned with its multiple bells in the Greek manner, obtruding itself
unexpectedly from the trees.

There are unquestionably many rides around the island that are quite as
enjoyable as this, but the ordinary visitor is doubtless the one who
stops over for a few hours only, during the stay of his steamer in the
port, and therefore has little time for more than the sights described.
Those who are able to make the island more than a brief way-station on
the way to or from Greece express themselves as enchanted with it, and
the number of attractive villas built by foreigners of means would seem
to emphasize the statement. Corfu as an island is altogether lovely.

The city itself has already been referred to as more Italian than Greek
in appearance. Nevertheless it is really Greek, and its shops are
certainly more like those of Athens than like those of Italy, while the
ordinary signboards of the street are in the Greek characters. It is the
height of the houses, the narrowness of the streets, the occasional
archways, and the fact that almost everybody can speak Italian, that
give the unmistakable Italian touch to Corfu after one has seen the
broader highways and lower structures of Athens. But Greco-Italian as it
is, one cannot get away from the fact that, after all, it reminds one
quite as much of Gibraltar as of anything. The town does this, quite as
much as the fortresses, with its narrow ways and its evident
cosmopolitanism. The shops, although devoted largely to Greek
merchandise, are a good deal like the Gibraltar bazaars, and make quite
as irresistible an appeal to the pocket, with their gorgeous embroidered
jackets, blue and gold vestments, and other barbaric but incredibly
magnificent fripperies, fresh from the tailor’s hand, and not, as at
Athens, generally the wares of second-hand dealers. To see peasant
jackets and vests of red and blue, and heavily ornamented with gold
tracery, go to Corfu. Nothing at Athens approaches the Corfiote display.

There are some archæological remains at Corfu, but not of commanding
prominence; and the average visitor, busied with the contemplation of
the loveliness of the country and the quaintness of the town for a few
brief hours, probably omits to hunt them up, as we ourselves did. The
most obvious monuments of the past are those of the medieval period, the
Venetian strongholds that served to protect Corfu when the island was an
important bulwark against the Saracens. Of the days when the rival
powers of classic Greece warred over the Corcyreans and their fertile
island, little trace has survived. There is a very old tomb in the
southerly suburb of Kastradès and the foundation of an ancient temple,
but neither is to be compared for interest with the host of monuments of
equal antiquity to be seen in Greece and even in Sicily. Corfu, like
Italy, has suffered a loss of the evidences of her antiquity by being so
constantly on the great highway to western Europe. She has never been
left to one side, as Greece so long was. Her fertility prevented her
degenerating into mere barren pasturage, as happened in Hellas proper,
and her situation made her important all through the Middle Ages, just
as it made her important during the expansion period of the Athenian
empire. And as Rome, through active and continuous existence, has
gradually eaten up her own ancient monuments before they achieved the
value of great age, so Corfu has lost almost entirely all trace of what
the ancient Corcyreans built; while Athens, through her long ages of
unimportance, preserved much of her classic monumental glories
unimpaired, and thanks to an awakened appreciation of them will cherish
them for all time.

The long years in which Greece lay fallow and deserted now appear not to
have been in vain. Through that period of neglect her ancient sites and
monuments lay buried and forgotten, but intact. Men were too busy
exploring and expanding elsewhere to waste a thought on the dead past.
Even the revival of learning, which exhumed the classic writings from
the oblivion of monkish cells and made the literature of Greece live
again, was insufficient to give back to the world the actual physical
monuments of that classic time. It has remained for the present day,
when the earth has been all but completely overrun and when men have
found a dearth of new worlds to conquer, that we have had the time and
the interest to turn back to Greece, sweep away the rubbish of ages, and
give back to the light of day the palaces of Agamemnon, the strongholds
of Tiryns, and the hoary old labyrinth of Minos. On the fringes of Magna
Græcia, where the empire was in touch with the unceasing tides of
western civilization, as in Sicily and at Corfu, the remnants of the
older days fared but ill. It was in the mountain fastnesses of the
Peloponnesus and in the gloomy glens of Delphi that so much of the
ancient, and even of the prehistoric and preheroic days, survived as to
give us moderns even a more definite knowledge of the times of the
Achæans and Trojans than perhaps even Homer himself had.




 Acrocorinth, 169.

 Acropolis, of Athens, first views of, 46;
   description of, 76;
   approach to, 79;
   gates of, 79;
   view from, 79, 80.

 Acropolis Museum, 86, 91, 92.

 Ægina, 39, 80, 137-139.

 Agamemnon, 28, 167, 175, 180, 181.

 Agora, at Athens, 76, 106.

 Alcmæonidæ, 165.

 Alpheios, 223, 256-258.

 Andhritsæna, 227, 229-246.

 Aphrodite, of Praxiteles, 315.

 Apollo, 154, 243, 277, 278, 299.

 Apoxyomenos, of Lysippus, 166.

 Aqueduct, at Samos, 291-294.

 Arcadia, 211-228.

 Arch, development of, 181, 192.

 Areopagus, 107.

 Argive Heræum, 186.

 Argos, 187, 172-192.

 Ariadne, 31.

 Artemis, 279, 300.

 Asklepios, 3, 4, 97, 98, 203, 207, 308-311.

 Athena, birth of, 83, 86;
   strife of, with Poseidon, 83, 90;
   sacred image of, 90;
   Archaic representations of, 92;
   Pronoia, 164,168.

 Athens, approaches to, 46;
   modern city, 50-75;
   ancient traditions of, 51;
   growth and history, 51, 52;
   street venders, 55;
   street names, 57;
   stadium, 58;
   street car system, 58;
   climate of, 59, 60;
   street scenes, 61-68;
   newspapers, 63;
   Shoe Lane, 63, 64;
   shopping, 64;
   street of the coppersmiths, 66;
   giaourti, 68;
   modern architecture, 69;
   churches, 69, 70;
   icons, 69;
   soldiery, 70, 71;
   funerals, 73;
   conversation beads, 74;
   Acropolis, 76;
   destruction of, by Persians, 88.

 Atreus, treasury of, 183, 184.

 “Balaustion,” 273, 330.

 Bassæ, 235-245.

 Bee-hive tombs, 183, 184.

 Bema, 109.

 Beulé gate, 79.

 Branchidæ, 297-303.

 Burial customs, 73, 246.

 Candia, 26-29.

 Canea, 18-26.

 Caryatid portico, 91.

 Castalian spring, 167.

 Cephissus, 50.

 Ceramicus, 112-118.

 Charioteer, statue of, at Delphi, 166.

 Choragic monument of Lysicrates, 76, 104.

 Churches, Greek, 69, 70.

 Cnidos, 314-317.

 Cnossos, 29-36.

 Coffee, 66, 67.

 Coffee-houses, 53, 54.

 Corcyra (Kerkyra) 370.

 Corfu, 368-380.

 Corinth, 169, 170.

 Corinthian canal, 148, 149.

 Corinthian capitals, 105.

 Corinthian Gulf, 149, 150.

 Cos, 304-313.

 Crete, 18-36.

 Cr[oe]sus, 156;
   trial of oracles by, 160, 161;
   gifts to oracle at Delphi, 161-163.

 Cyclopean masonry, 175, 189.

 Cyclopes, 191.

 Dances, of peasants, 139-145.

 Daphne, pass of, 124;
   convent of, 125.

 Delos, 272-285;
   legend of, 275;
   dual nature, 276;
   excavations at, 277;
   ancient houses, 279-281.

 Delphi, 146-168;
   excavations at, 153-158;
   legend of, 154, 155;
   oracle at, 155-157, 159-165;
   gifts of Cr[oe]sus to oracle, 161-163;
   great temple at, 165;
   corruption of oracle, 157-165;
   statue of charioteer, 166.

 Demeter, 128, 130.

 Dipylon, 112.

 Drachma, fluctuation of, 71-73.

 Dragoman, 212.

 Dress, of peasants, 142, 171, 201.

 Easter eggs, 360.

 Eleusinian mysteries, 128.

 Eleusis, 124-132.

 Elgin marbles, 83, 86.

 Embroideries, 311, 325.

 Ephebus, bronze statue at Athens, 118, 119.

 Epidaurus, 198-210.

 Erechtheum, 88;
   sacred precinct of, 90.

 Erechtheus, 89.

 Giaourti, 68.

 Greece, traveling in, 1-17;
   entrances to, 37-49;
   landing in, 44.

 Greek churches, 69, 70.

 Greek language, 9-13.

 Greek people, character of, 14, 15, 53, 54.

 Gremka, 255.

 Hadrian, arch of, 48, 104.

 Halicarnassus, 313.

 Hera, 275, 294.

 Heræum, Argive, 186;
   at Olympia, 260;
   at Samos, 291-294.

 Hermes, of Praxiteles, 268, 269.

 Herodotus, 90, 160-163, 290, 291.

 Hippocrates, tree of, at Cos, 307.

 Hippodameia, 266.

 Hymettus, 39, 47.

 Icons, 69.

 Ictinus, 81, 243.

 Ios (Nios) 352-360.

 Islands, of the Ægean, 272-367;
   geographical arrangement, 273;
   communication with, 274.

 Karytæna, 224.

 King George, 74, 75.

 Knights of Rhodes, 305, 319.

 Labyrinth, of Minos, 31, 32.

 Lindos, 318.

 Lion Gate, at Mycenæ, 178, 179.

 Long walls, at Athens, 42.

 Loukoumi, 25.

 Lycabettus, 38.

 Lysippus, 166.

 Malmsey wine, 367.

 Marathon, 133.

 Mars Hill, 76, 88, 107.

 Mausoleum, 313.

 Megalokastron, 27.

 Megalopolis, 218-223.

 Menidi, dances at, 139-145.

 Midnight mass, 353-361.

 Minoan age, 28.

 Minos, 27-31;
   throne of, 33.

 Minotaur, 31, 32, 89, 112.

 Monemvasía, 365-367.

 Mycenæ, 169-186;
   accommodation at, 173;
   excavations at, 175;
   acropolis of, 177;
   Lion Gate, 178, 179;
   Cyclopean masonry, 175, 178, 179;
   inverted columns, 178;
   tombs at, 180;
   reservoir, 182;
   treasury of Atreus, 183.

 Mycenæan age, 28;
   stone pillars of, 33, 178.

 Mycenæan relics at Athens, 120-122.

 Mykale, 288.

 National Museum, at Athens, 118.

 Nauplia, 193-198.

 Nausicaa, 371.

 Navigation, in ancient times, 273, 371.

 Newspapers, 10, 63.

 Niké Apteros, temple of, 80;
   binding sandal, 81;
   of Pæonius, 263, 270.

 Odeon of Herodes Atticus, 96.

 Odysseus, 16, 17, 370.

 [OE]nomaus, legend of, 266.

 Olympia, overland route to, 247-258;
   site of, 259-271;
   temple of Zeus at, 260, 263.

 Olympian Zeus, temple of, at Athens, 48, 76, 104.

 Olympic games, 264-266;
   modern, 271.

 Orientation of temples, 242.

 Paganism, traces of, in Greek church, 3, 4.

 Painting, of statues, 91.

 Panathenaic festival, 89.

 Parian marble, 362.

 Parnassus, 145, 151.

 Paros, 351, 361-365.

 Parthenon, 3, 4;
   destruction by Morosini, 77, 85;
   description of, 82-88;
   pedimental sculptures of, 83;
   curious architectural devices, 84-86;
   restorations of, 86;
   frieze of, 87.

 Patras, 368.

 Paul, sermon to the Athenians, 107.

 Peasant dances, 139-145.

 Peasant dress, 142, 171, 201.

 Pedestal of Agrippa, 81.

 Pedimental sculptures, of Parthenon, 83;
   at Olympia, 267, 268.

 Pelops, 266.

 Pentelic marble, 134.

 Pentelicus, 38, 134.

 Pericles, 42.

 Persians, invasion by, 87, 88;
   at Delphi, 164.

 Phalerum, 45.

 Philopappos, monument of, 47.

 Piraeus, 39-46.

 Pnyx, 108.

 Political customs, 61.

 Polychrome decoration of temples, 92.

 Polycrates, 290.

 Poseidon, strife with Athena, 83, 90.

 Praxiteles, 268, 315.

 Propylæa, 79, 80, 81.

 Ptolemy II., 311.

 Pythagoras, 291.

 Religious anniversaries, 62, 353-361.

 Reservoir, at Mycenæ, 182.

 Resinated wine, 137.

 Rhodes, 318-333;
   Colossus of, 332.

 Rhodian plates, 323, 324.

 Routes to Greece, 15, 16.

 St. Elias, successor of ancient Helios, 5.

 Salamis, 39, 43, 132.

 Samos, 286-297.

 Santorin, 334-350.

 “Ship of Ulysses,” 375.

 Shoe Lane, at Athens, 63-65.

 Shopping in Athens, 63-65.

 Soldiery, 70, 71.

 Sparta, 216.

 Stage, use of, in Greek theatre, 100, 101.

 Stoa, 106.

 Stoics, 106.

 Suda Bay, 19, 25, 26.

 Sunium, 37, 134-138.

 Taÿgetos, 216.

 Temples, survival of, as Christian churches, 4.

 Theatre of Dionysus, 98;
   of Epidaurus, 204.

 Theatres, 99-103.

 Themistoclean wall, 113.

 Themistocles, 42, 113.

 Theocritus, 312.

 Thera, 334-350.

 Theseum, 110.

 Theseus, 31, 89, 111.

 Tiryns, 188-192.

 Tomb-sculpture, 114-118.

 Tombs, at Mycenæ, 183, 184.

 Tower of the Winds, 105.

 Treasury of Atreus, 183.

 Troy, 28, 36.

 Villa Achilleion, 376.

 “Virgin of a Hundred Gates,” 361.

 Votive offerings, 126.

 Xerxes, 87, 88.

 Zeus, legends of, in Crete, 30;
   temple in Athens, 48, 76, 104;
   temple at Olympia, 260;
   statue at Olympia, 263;
   see also, 275 _et seq._

                          ~The Riverside Press~

                       CAMBRIDGE · MASSACHUSETTS

                               U · S · A

                           Transcriber’s Note

The table at the end of this note summarizes any corrections to the text
that have been deemed to be printer’s errors.

The spelling of Greek place-names may occasionally use the terminal
‘-us’ interchangeably with the Greek ‘-os’, especially in the Index.
Both are retained.

The latinized Greek word ‘lepta’ is occasionally given with an accented
‘a’, either ‘à’ or ‘á’. All have been retained as printed.

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