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Title: Greek Lands and Letters
Author: Allinson, Anne Crosby Emery, Allinson, Francis Greenleaf
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Greek Lands and Letters" ***


                          Transcriber’s Note:

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects.
Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_.

Footnotes have been moved to follow the paragraphs in which they are

Minor errors, attributable to the printer, have been corrected. Please
see the transcriber’s note at the end of this text for details regarding
the handling of any textual issues encountered during its preparation.

                        GREEK LANDS AND LETTERS


  From within, looking toward Salamis. From a painting by H. R. Cross

                            GREEK LANDS AND


                       FRANCIS GREENLEAF ALLINSON
        (_Professor of Classical Philology in Brown University_)


                          ANNE C. E. ALLINSON


                          BOSTON AND NEW YORK
                        HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
                 =The Riverside Press Cambridge=

                COPYRIGHT, 1909, BY FRANCIS G. ALLINSON
                        AND ANNE C. E. ALLINSON

                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

                       _Published December 1909_

                                A. C. E.
                                S. C. A.


The purpose of this book is to interpret Greek lands by literature, and
Greek literature by local associations and the physical environment.
Those who possess an intimate acquaintance with Greek or who have the
good fortune to stay long in Greece will be able to draw upon their own
resources. Many travellers, however, must curtail their visit to a few
weeks or months, and it is hoped that to them this book may prove useful
as a companion in travel, while to a wider range of readers it may prove
suggestive in appraising what is most vital in our “Hellenic heritage.”

To keep within reasonable bounds it has seemed necessary to limit our
survey to those portions of the mainland of Greece and those islands,
immediately adjacent in the Gulf of Ægina, which may be easily visited
during a short stay in Athens as headquarters. But the visitor cannot be
too strongly urged to avail himself of opportunities to visit the
remoter islands and the shores of Asia Minor, which are so beautiful a
part of the Greek world and have played so brilliant a rôle in Greek
history and literature.

In quoting or summarizing the literature the limitations of space are
obvious. Selections have been made which to us seemed most fairly to
interpret the countries and sites. It is hoped that these will not only
prove representative when taken together but will recall much that has
perforce been omitted.

Purely learned treatises in Greek have not been cited except by way of
illustration. The historical geographer Strabo, of the time of Augustus,
has offered suggestive material; and Pausanias, of the second century of
our era, the pious and often charming writer of the “Guidebook to
Greece,” has, as was inevitable, been the _cicerone_ in many places.

History it has seemed proper to use chiefly to explain the literature,
or, especially in the case of Herodotus and Thucydides, as itself part
of the noblest prose literature. But in different chapters emphasis has
been laid, to some extent, upon different elements, such as myth and
legend, prehistoric tradition, the history of certain epochs in classic
times, the demands of religion, the growth of the artistic impulse or
the bloom of the Attic period. By this means we have hoped, without too
much repetition, to suggest a fairly adequate outline of the different
factors in Greek civilization. The introductory chapter is intended to
provide the essential background for the others.

Forms of art other than literature are only incidentally touched upon.
Archæological information or discussion, except as illustration, is
precluded by the purpose of the book, which deals with the literature
and the land as being permanent possessions that are not essentially
modified by the successive data of archæology, necessarily shifting from
month to month.

In translating Greek authors it has seemed best, as a rule, to offer new
versions, rendering the thought as literally as is consistent with our
idiom or, in the case of poetry, with the exigencies of English verse.
The anapæstic dimeters and, in the dialogue parts of the drama, the
six-stress iambic verse have been retained; less uniformly the elegiac
couplet; and, occasionally only, the heroic hexameter. Elsewhere poetry
has been usually turned by rhymed verse or by rhythmic prose.

Some existing translations or paraphrases have been used, for which
credit has been given in the text or the footnotes. Moreover, in most of
the citations from Pausanias Mr. Frazer’s admirable translation has been
used without explicit mention, and for this we make acknowledgment here.
In translating Pindar many turns of expression have been taken from the
beautiful translation of Ernest Myers, although, when they are not
expressly credited, the versions have been rewritten. While it is hoped
that full credit has thus been given wherever it is due, there are
doubtless expressions here and there remaining in the memory from
numerous commentators on Greek authors that form a common stock in trade
for the translator.

In transliterating Greek names we have followed, as a rule, familiar
English usage.

Among many books of reference there are a few to which we are especially
indebted. We have used constantly Mr. J. G. Frazer’s “Commentary on
Pausanias,” which includes a wealth of outside references, as, for
example, citations from other travellers beginning with Dicæarchus, the
entertaining geographer of the fourth century b. c. We are also indebted
to Curtius’s “History of Greece” and Tozer’s “Geography of Greece”; Dr.
W. Judeich’s “Topographie von Athen” (especially for Piræus); Professor
Ernest Gardner’s “Ancient Athens,” which should be in the hands of every
visitor to Athens; and Miss J. E. Harrison’s “Primitive Athens.”
Professor J. B. Bury’s “History of Greece” has been constantly
suggestive. On modern Greece Schmidt’s “Das Volksleben der Neugriechen”
and Sir Rennell Rodd’s “Customs and Lore of Modern Greece” have
furnished definite material.

Among the numerous editions of Greek authors necessarily consulted we
are under special obligations to Professor Gildersleeve’s “Pindar, the
Olympian and Pythian Odes,” and to Professor Smyth’s “Melic Poets.”
Certain quotations in the text, not provided for in the footnotes, are
acknowledged in the Appendix, in which are also given, for the sake of
comparison, exact references to the Greek.

Our personal thanks are due to Professor J. Irving Manatt, of Brown
University, for valuable suggestions and criticism of several chapters,
and to Professor Walter G. Everett for his discussion of the section on
Greek philosophy. We are also especially indebted to Professor Herbert
Richard Cross of Washington University, St. Louis, for placing at our
disposal his water-color sketch of the Propylæa, from which the
frontispiece is taken, and to Professors C. B. Gulick and G. H. Chase of
Harvard University for assistance in obtaining the impression of the
coin upon the cover of this book.

                                                             F. G. A.
                                                             A. C. E. A.

Providence, October, 1909.


     I. THE WIDESPREAD LAND OF HELLAS                                 1

    II. PIRÆUS, THE HARBOUR TOWN                                     32

   III. ATHENS: FROM SOLON TO SALAMIS                                57

    IV. THE ACROPOLIS OF ATHENS                                      74

     V. ATHENS: FROM SALAMIS TO MENANDER                             91

    VI. OLD GREECE IN NEW ATHENS                                    126

   VII. ATTICA                                                      144

  VIII. ELEUSIS                                                     171

    IX. ÆGINA                                                       186

     X. MEGARA AND CORINTH: THE GULF OF CORINTH                     192

    XI. DELPHI                                                      218

   XII. FROM DELPHI TO THEBES                                       250

  XIII. THEBES AND BŒOTIA                                           266

   XIV. BŒOTIA, CONTINUED                                           296

    XV. THERMOPYLÆ                                                  316

   XVI. ARGOLIS                                                     323

  XVII. ARCADIA                                                     358

 XVIII. OLYMPIA                                                     388

   XIX. MESSENIA                                                    425

    XX. SPARTA                                                      431

 APPENDIX                                                           453

 INDEX                                                              463


  THE PROPYLÆA                                             _Frontispiece_
        From within looking toward Salamis
        _From a painting by H. R. Cross_

  MAP OF GREECE AND THE ÆGEAN                                        1

  MAP OF PIRÆUS                                                     32

  RENAN ON THE ACROPOLIS                                            74
        _From a French painting_

  S. COLONNADE OF THE PARTHENON                                     88
        _From a photograph by R. A. Rice_

  AREOPAGUS                                                        104

  STREET OF THE TOMBS                                              114
        Monument of Hegeso

  AFTER POLYGNOTUS                                                 134

  THE PANATHENÆA CONTINUED                                         134

  MAP OF ATTICA                                                    144

  MENANDER                                                         152
        _From bust in Boston Museum of Fine Arts_

  SUNIUM                                                           162
        Temple of Poseidon. _From a photograph by S. C. A._

  OLIVE TREES ON THE WAY TO ELEUSIS                                178
        _From a photograph by E. G. Radeke_

  ÆGINA                                                            188
        Temple of Aphæa

  CORINTH                                                          202
        Temple of Apollo and Acrocorinth

  DELPHI AND THE ROAD TO ARACHOVA                                  250

  MAP OF BŒOTIA                                                    266

  A GALLERY OF THE ACROPOLIS OF TIRYNS                             324

  CALAURIA                                                         356
        Temple of Poseidon. Scene of the death of Demosthenes

  OLYMPIA                                                          388
        Kronos Hill. The ruins of the Altis

  TAŸGETUS                                                         432


         NIKE OF SAMOTHRACE, reproduced on the front cover, is
        from a coin in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University.

                        GREEK LANDS AND LETTERS

[Illustration: Greece and the Aegean Sea]

                        GREEK LANDS AND LETTERS

                               CHAPTER I

           “Greek literature is read by almost all nations.”
                                      CICERO, _Pro Archia_.

Cicero, at one time studying Greek oratory in Rhodes, at another
speaking Greek as the language best adapted to a Sicilian audience,
suggests with sufficient definiteness the eastern and western boundaries
of ancient Hellas. Leaving out of consideration more remote colonies, we
may content ourselves with including in the Greater Greece of antiquity
all the Mediterranean lands and waters from Sicily and Lower Italy, in
the west, to Cyprus and the coast of Asia Minor, in the east. The
Riviera, or seaboard of the eastern side of the Ægean, is sharply
differentiated from the continuous highlands of the interior, which
suggest, a short distance inland, a boundary line between Europe and
Asia. For a maritime people like the Greeks this was a barrier more
effectual than the highway of the Bosphorus. In the early historic
times, when the sun rose over these mountains of Asia Minor he left
behind him the Oriental and looked down at once upon the Cis-montane
Greeks, and it was upon Greeks that he was still shining when his
setting splendour lit up the Bay of Naples—the “New-town” of that day—or
the ancient Cumæ and the heights of Anacapri or the islands of the
Sirens and the golden brown columns of Poseidon’s temple at Pæstum.

The seaboard, too, of Macedonia and Thrace belonged to Greece by reason
of their water-front on the Ægean. And to the south, the encroachments
of the Greeks upon the preserves of the Nile-god were so extensive for
centuries before the time of Alexander that we need not wonder either at
Egyptian reminiscences in Greek art or at the increasing evidences of
Hellenic life in Egypt.

The Greeks, compared with the hoary antiquity of the Egyptians, are late
comers. The essential difference, however, is not a matter of centuries
or millennia. The Egyptians, perhaps because the details are
foreshortened by the vast distance, seem to possess a chronology, but no
real history. There were revolutions, rather than evolution. The Greeks
were young, too, individually as well as chronologically. From Homer
down through the classic period we hear “the everlasting wonder-song of
youth.” Plato makes an Egyptian priest say to the Athenian law-giver: “O
Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are ever children; no Hellene is ever old!”
We find the Greeks of the historic period on the intellectual watershed
between antiquity and the modern world. From data now well established
we may push back their life far beyond recorded chronology, and, if we
anticipate even by a little the nucleus of the Homeric poems, we possess
a practically unbroken continuity of their history and language for
three thousand years down to the present day. Greek history is often
confined within perfectly arbitrary dates. In reality, the death of
Alexander in 323 B. C., the closing of the schools of philosophy in 529
A. D., and the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A. D. only break its
course into convenient chapters.

The Greek language is itself one of the greatest creations of Greek art.
Discarding some superfluities, retained or over-emphasized by others of
our common Indo-European family, the Greeks developed an instrument for
the expression of thought unsurpassed, if not unequalled, among any
other people. “The whole language resembles the body of an artistically
trained athlete, in which every muscle is called into full play, where
there is no trace of flaccid tumidity, and all is power and life.” The
“common dialect” already dominated the eastern Mediterranean before the
Romans took physical possession. Its direct legatee is the modern Greek,
that had sprung up in lusty independence some three centuries before the
Turks put an end to senile Byzantium and its crabbed ecclesiastical

Of creative literature the same unbroken continuity cannot be
predicated. The early literature, beginning with Homer, extends through
the first quarter of the fifth century B. C. It includes the great epic
poetry, the elegiac and iambic, the beginnings of philosophy, and seven
of the ten greatest lyric poets. No fact in Greek literature is more
conspicuous than the shortness and the richness of the next period,
which may be conveniently called the “Attic,” although some of the
greatest writers came from outside of Attica—from Bœotia, from the
islands, from beyond the Ægean, or from Sicily. Within this brief period
of only 183 years, if we close it with the death of Menander in 292 B.
C., all the additional types of the literature either culminated or

The next period of 150 years, commonly known as the Alexandrian period,
has within its early limits the name of Theocritus, whose quality
entitles him to rank with the writers of the Classic period, as does
that of his two legatees, Bion and Moschus, and also Herodas, whose
writings, recovered in the fortunate year 1891, have now made him a part
of the Greek Classics. But in the Alexandrian period, and in the
Græco-Roman period from 146 B. C. to 529 A. D., the great names are, as
a rule, not so great, and they are spread over a long time. Few of them,
except Lucian in the second century of our era, and Plutarch immediately
preceding him, successfully compete for a prominent place as writers of
pure literature.

With a few exceptions, the great original work in Greek literature had
been done before the death of Menander. The Greek anthology, however,
must not be ignored. It ranges over more than one thousand years and
leaves no century in all that time without at least some minor
representative of great beauty. Like a cord twisted of dull strands and
golden, it binds together the Attic age with the whole of the subsequent
time down to the year 550 of our era, the golden strand reappearing
sufficiently often to assure us of its continuity. The next nine
centuries of Byzantine Greek, ecclesiastical and profane, are little
known to most classical scholars. The contributions of the modern Greek,
before and since the days of Byron, are significant, and the friends of
the new kingdom await with cordial expectation the rise of new writers
to give to the lore of the peasant and the struggles of the patriot a
worthy literary form. Of the lacunæ in the literature, in spite of the
continuity of the language, Professor Hatzidakis of Athens has well
said: “The Greek language is as little to be blamed for this as could be
the marble quarries of Mount Pentelicus, because in those times no one
fashioned from them a Hermes of Praxiteles or a Venus of Melos.”

A glance at the map will show how accessible was the mainland of Greece,
upon the east and south, to seafaring visitors from across the Ægean,
who would naturally find here their first landing-places. Except for the
great gash of the Corinthian Gulf, the western coast is indented only
with smaller, though good, harbours, while the whole southern and
eastern seaboard from Messenia in the southwest to Thrace is a ragged
fringe of promontories, large and small, welcoming into the interior the
waters that suggested sea-business of war and commerce.

But this interlacing of land and water, that brought the insinuating
“call of the sea,” was not the only factor that predetermined the
character of the Greek cantons. The Greeks were mountaineers as well as
mariners. One is, indeed, almost tempted to speak of Greece as
consisting of only mountains and _marina_. There are of course some
relatively large plains, notably the fertile granary of Thessaly, but
the general impression of the land from any bird’s-eye view is a
succession of lofty ridges, peaks, and spurs. Only by many shiftings of
the place of outlook do these partially resolve themselves into ranges
continuous in certain general directions, though with many sharp angles
and curves and buttressed by uncompromising cross ridges. These mountain
barriers make clear the history of the Greek peoples, both how they
combined temporarily to resist foreign invasion and, above all, why they
developed and cherished in tiny cantons their characteristic
individualism, which has been by turns a bane and a blessing.

Thessaly and Mount Olympus to the north belong geographically to the
Kingdom of Greece. On either side of Thessaly irregular mountain chains
run southward and preserve a general connection through Central Greece
and Attica, and, despite the submerging water, may be identified as
reappearing in the islands far out in the Ægean. Olympus on the
northeast—hardly interrupted by the river Peneius, which has rent its
way through the precipitous cañon known as the “Vale” of Tempe—is
continued along the east coast by Mount Ossa and Mount Pelion. Then
across the narrow entrance to the Pagasæan and Malian gulfs the system
is continued by the sharp dorsal fins of the island of Eubœa, that
stretches like a sea-monster along the shores of Locris, Bœotia, and
Attica, to reappear at intervals far to the southeast in the islands
Andros, Tenos, Myconos, Delos, Naxos, Amorgos, and Astypalæa. On the
west of Thessaly the great Pindus ridge, descending through the centre
of northern Greece, details on the rugged system of peaks and ranges
which fill central Greece southward to the Gulf of Corinth and which in
general run from west to east. One of these ranges, called the Othrys
Mountains, bounds the Thessalian countries on the south and ends at the
Gulf of Pagasæ. Another, Mount Œta, is continued by the high mountains
that shut off Thermopylæ to the north and runs on as the boundary
between Locris and Bœotia. Still another range, running out of the
central complex, has its culmination in Parnassus, 8070 feet high, and
is continued, though more interrupted and with a more irregular course,
by Mount Helicon in Bœotia and the frontier hills of Attica, from
Helicon to Parnes, and bends around into the massive ridge of Mount
Pentelicus, from whose summit the spectator can see the prolongation in
the islands of Ceos, Cythnos, Seriphos, and others beyond.

The narrow neck that divides the Corinthian from the Saronic Gulf and
connects Attica and Bœotia with the Peloponnesus, lifts up among its
rugged hills in Megara the picturesque twin peaks of the Kerata. South
of the isthmus itself, with its narrow plain and the deep cutting
necessary for the canal, rises the splendid acropolis of Acrocorinth,
keeping guard at the entrance to the “Island of Pelops.”

The Peloponnesus, or Morea, is a rugged complex of mountains that by
turns shut out and admit the sea. Of its four irregular peninsulas,
jutting out southward in the Argolis and in Laconia and Messenia, each
has its mountain system; the more broken hills in the Argolid plain; the
ridge of Parnon to the east of the plain of Lacedæmon; the imposing
barrier of Taygetus between Sparta and Messenia. In Messenia itself are
fertile plains. One is in the midland, as the name Messenia originally
implied, among offshoots of the Arcadian Lycæus; while the great
mountain fortress of Ithome, 2600 feet high, where crops could be reared
and an army supported, towering above the hills and plains of central
Messenia, looks down on another larger plain, almost tropical in its
products, that stretches southward to the gulf.

The centre and west of the Peloponnesus is a mass of peaks and mountain
ridges tangled up at abrupt angles but bounded on the north by a
formidable chain, generally parallel with the Gulf of Corinth and
dominated by Erymanthus and Cyllene to the west and east respectively.
Around and against this chain great mountains are piled up like
petrified billows. In this part of Greece plains few but important are
interspersed, as at Megalopolis or Olympia. Along the northwest coast
there is the wider sea-margin of “Hollow” Elis, while along the
Corinthian Gulf Ægialus, the “coast-land,” seems often little more than
a grudging _marina_ subjacent to the foothills of Erymanthus and

From north to south, from east to west the Greek landscape lends itself
to panoramic views. Lucian in his “Charon” makes Hermes seat himself on
one of the twin peaks of Parnassus and Charon upon the other. With eyes
anointed with Homeric eye-salve, the Ferryman, on his furlough from the
under-world, is able to see not only the Greater Greece outspread around
him,—from Asia Minor to Sicily, from the Danube to Crete,—but to look
off beyond to the Orient and to Egypt. These wide outlooks are enhanced
by the distinctness of the sky-line, everywhere an important factor.
“The hard limestone of which the mountains are composed is apt to break
away, and thus produces those sharply-cut outlines which stand out so
clearly against the transparent sky of Greece.”

So large a troupe of actors played their parts in Greek history that the
imagination demands a roomy stage. But the country is small. Were it not
for the mountain barriers, the scale of distances would seem trivial. It
is, for example, only some thirty miles in an air line from Thermopylæ
to the Gulf of Corinth. Even on the leisurely and winding Piræus,
Athens, and Peloponnesus Railway, it is only one day’s ride from Athens
via the Isthmus down to Kalamata on the Bay of Messenia. The degrees of
latitude that include the mainland of Central and Southern Greece span
in the west only the Lipari Islands and Sicily; the thirty-eighth
parallel that passes south of Palermo and the straits of Messina runs a
little north of Athens; while the thirty-seventh parallel, running just
south of Syracuse, passes still farther south of Kalamata and Sparta.

Not only is the mainland of Greece contained in narrow geographical
limits, but the Ægean itself is almost an inland lake enclosed within
neighbouring coasts. In clear weather the sailor, without adventuring
upon open sea, might pass from mainland to mainland as he watched from
his advancing prow another island lift above the horizon before losing
sight of the harbour left astern. In Greek literature there is no more
striking reminder of the contiguity of the Asian coast to Greece proper
than the well-known passage in the “Agamemnon” of Æschylus describing
the swift telegraphy of the beacon signals that brought to Argos the
news of the capture of Troy. The ten years’ absence of Agamemnon’s host
tends to an instinctive extension of the distance, if the imagination is
not checked by the actual scale of miles. Troy seems farther from Argos
than the Holy Land from the homes of the Crusaders.

Beacon telegraphy is a time-honored device. Many bright beacons
doubtless blazed before Agamemnon, as well as since his time.
Commentators have been at pains to justify by modern experiments with
beacon fires on lofty heights the severest strain upon our optic nerves
which Æschylus makes in the case of the light that leaped from Mount
Athos to the high ridges of Eubœa. The distance is more than 100 miles,
but, bearing in mind that the Eubœan mountain is some 4000 feet high and
Athos more than 6000, we need not apply for any special license for our
poet’s imagination. The devious course of the fire signals from Eubœa to
Argos is one of the best illustrations of the jagged surface that Greece
lifts skywards. As one stands on Mount Pentelicus and looks across to
Eubœa, the intervening arm of the sea is hemmed in for the eye into
narrow inland lakes. And Æschylus, sufficiently, though not officiously,
realistic, makes the firelight zigzag irregularly to dodge the
interfering ridges till it falls upon the palace roof at Argos,—not at
Mycenæ, as is the not infrequent misrepresentation of the Æschylean

Clytemnestra, to the chorus asking who could have brought the news so
quickly, replies:—

      “Hephæstus, on from Ida sending brilliant gleam,
      And hither beacon beacon sped with courier flame.
      First Ida to the Hermæan crag of Lemnos sent,
      Then from the island was received the mighty flame
      By Athos, Zeus’s mount, as third: this over-passed—
      So that it skimmed the sea’s broad back,—the torch’s might,
      A joyous traveller, the pine’s gold gleam, sun-like,
      To watching Mount Macistus brought its flashing news.
      Macistus then, delaying not, nor foolishly
      Foredone with sleep, as messenger pass’d on his share.
      The beacon’s gleam unto Euripus flowing far
      Then came and signal to Messapium’s pickets made.
      They too gave back a flame and ever onward sent
      The news by lighting up a heap of heather gray.
      The Torch then, strong to run, nor dimm’d as yet, leap’d on
      Like radiant moon across Asopus and his plain
      And came unto Cithæron’s crags, awaking there
      A new relay of courier flame: nor did the guard
      Disown the far-escorted light, but escort flame
      In turn made soar aloft into the ether high.
      Then over Lake Gorgopis smote the gleam and came
      Unto Mount Ægiplanctus urging that the flame
      Ordain’d should fail not. Lighting with ungrudging strength
      They send a mighty beard of fire. O’er the height
      That overlooks the Saronic Gulf it onward flared,
      Until, when it had reach’d the Arachnæan steep,
      It lighted on the outposts neighbour to our town;
      Then on this roof of the Atreidæ falls this light,
      The long-descended grandchild of the Idæan flame!”

From the very smallness of Greece results the overcrowding of
associations that almost oppress the spectator standing at one or
another place of vantage. But if his historic horizon is as clearly
defined as the physical he will come back to the sea-level with a
clearer understanding of the interdependence between the scene and the
action of the great dramas here enacted. The country is not only a
background but a cause for the literature. Neither can be fully
understood without the other.

It must not be assumed from the smallness of the land that the spurs to
the imagination of the Greeks were few. On the contrary, within their
narrow borders, nature was prodigal of her inspiration. In the few miles
from Thessaly to the Messenian Gulf are offered a variety of climate and
an alternation of products well-nigh unparalleled for such a limited
area. The warm air of the sea penetrating into sheltered valleys favours
an almost tropical vegetation, while the lofty mountain ridges offer
almost an Alpine climate. In Attica, in early spring, snow may
occasionally be seen sprinkled on Hymettus and glistening white on Mount
Pentelicus, while oranges hang on the trees in Athens. Taygetus in the
south maybe a snow-covered mountain even as late as May while in the
Messenian plain below grows the palm and, more rarely, the edible date.
In the Argolis are groves of lemons and oranges, and in Naxos, in the
same latitude as Sparta, the tender lime ripens in the gardens. The
gray-green olive is familiar throughout Central and Southern Greece. If
we extend the survey farther north, the beeches of the Pindus range,
west of Thessaly, are surrounded by the vegetation rather of northern
Europe; in the interior of Thessaly the olive tree does not flourish;
the northern shores of the Ægean have the climate of Central Germany,
while Mount Athos, whose marble walls jut far out into the Ægean and
rise 6400 feet above the sea, offers on its slopes nearly all species of
European trees in succession.

The different parts of Greece offer a varying development in literature.
In this particular some districts, like Acarnania, Ætolia, and Achæa,
though possessed of great natural beauty, are negligible. Arcadia,
though itself unproductive, inspired poetry; others, also, like Phocis,
Locris, and Messenia, are inevitably drawn into the associations of
literature and history. In Epirus we find at Dodona the first known
sanctuary of Zeus, the supreme god of the Greeks. In Thessaly the
earliest Greeks, or Achæans, may have first forged in the fire of their
young imagination the tempered steel of the hexameter. Here was the home
of Achilles, and here, perhaps, we must look for the kernel of the
Iliad. Here most fitly, close to Olympus where dwelt the immortals,
could the sons of men be “near-gods.”

From the north and northwest successive waves of population descended
into lower Greece to conquer, merge with, or become subject to the
previous comers. But prehistoric peoples, whether alien or Greek, like
the Eteo-Cretans, the Pelasgi, the Minyæ, the Leleges, the Hellenes, the
Achæans, and even great movements like the Dorian and Ionian migrations,
are all foreshortened on a scenic background, as equidistant to the
Greeks of the classic periods as is the vault of heaven to the eyes of
children. One star, indeed, differed from another. The Dorian, for
example, was of the first magnitude. But the relations of apparent
magnitude and real distance were ignored or naïvely confused in the
fanciful constellations of myth and saga, distant yet ever present,
bending around them to their explored horizon. Heroic figures impalpable
but real as the gods themselves intervened continually, controlling
decisions, shaping policies, or determining disputed boundaries among
even the most intellectual of the Greeks. Royalty, oligarchy, democracy,
and tyranny alike must reckon with personified tradition.

When we emerge into the light of more authentic records it is well, in
the confusing maze of inter-cantonal contentions, to focus the mind, for
the purpose of appreciating the literature, upon certain broader
relations and more clearly defined epochs in Greek history, like the
so-called “Age of the Despots” within the seventh and sixth centuries,
the Persian wars, and the conflicts between Attica as a pivot and the
Peloponnese, Thebes, and Macedon.

It might be expected from the variety of natural charm offered by
Hellenic lands, from Ilium to Sicily, from Mount Olympus to Crete, that
the Greeks would show in their literature a pervasive love of nature.
This was, in fact, the case. The modern eye has not been the first to
discover the beauty of form and colour in the Greek flowers and birds,
mountains, sky and sea. Modern critics, ignoring all historical
perspective and assuming as a procrustean standard the one-sided and
sophisticated attitude that has played a leading rôle in modern
literature, announced as axiomatic that ancient Greek poets had no
feeling for nature and found no pleasure in looking at the beauties of a
landscape. This superficial idea still keeps cropping up, although
thoughtful readers of Greek literature have long since pointed out the
necessity both of a chronological analysis of the literature and of a
more inclusive statement of the various forms in which a sentiment for
the natural world is evinced.[1] It is a far cry from Homer to
Theocritus, and, as might well be expected in a range of six centuries
and more, new elements appear from time to time, due both to changing
conditions of life and civilization and also to the personal equation.

Footnote 1:

  Cf. Fairclough, _The Attitude of the Greek Tragedians toward Nature_.

A naïve feeling for nature is uppermost in the descriptive comparisons
and similes of Homer and, generally speaking, in the myth-making of the
Greeks. The concrete embodiment of natural phenomena and objects in some
Nature-divinity often obviated the necessity for elaborate description
and summarized their conceptions as if by an algebraic formula. The
mystical element was not lacking, but by this myth-making process it
became objective and real. The sympathetic feeling for nature becomes
more and more apparent in lyric poetry and the drama until in Euripides
there emerges, almost suddenly, the “modern” romanticism. In the
Hellenistic and imperial times, finally, the sentimental element is
natural to men who turn to the country for relief from the stress of
life in a city. One generalization for the classic periods may be safely
made. Although the Greeks from Homer to Euripides thought of the world
as the environment of man, yet they stopped short of a sentimental
self-analysis. Charles Eliot Norton, more than thirty years ago, pointed
out that the expression of a sentiment like Wordsworth’s—

            “To me the meanest flower that blows can give
            Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears”—

is foreign to the clear-eyed Hellene, reared amongst the distinct
outlines of his mountains and from the cradle to the grave at home upon
the blue and windswept Ægean. Certainly this is true until the
speculative questionings of the Ionic philosophers had time to react
upon literature. As the Greeks accepted their pedigrees from the gods
and heroes, so they accepted their environment of beauty. They were not
unlike the child, content to betray by a stray word or caress his
unanalyzed admiration for his mother’s face.

Emphasis has often been laid, and rightly, upon the keen sensitiveness
of the Greeks to beauty of form in sculpture, architecture, and
literature. It is urged that they made this sense of form and proportion
so paramount that they were blind to the beauty of colouring and
indifferent to the prodigal variety of Nature’s compositions. It may be
readily admitted that this is a vital distinction between the ancient
and modern attitudes. Both the craving for perfection of form and the
preference given to man before nature come out in the preëminent
development of sculpture by the Greeks. Their admiration of the beauty
of the human form, unlike the sensitive shrinking of moderns, was
extended even to the lifeless body. Æschylus speaks of the warriors who
have found graves before Troy as still “fair of form.”

But a prevailing tendency does not necessarily exclude other elements.
However meagre the vocabulary of the Greeks in sharp distinction of
shades of colour, their love for a bright colour-scheme is shown not
only by the brilliancy of their clothing and their use of colouring in
statuary and architecture,—for even in these mere form was not
enough,—but in unnumbered expressions like Alcman’s “sea-purple bird of
the springtime.”

A few of the more obvious passages, illustrating the Greek attitude
toward nature, are here given in general historic sequence. Others will
be found in the subsequent chapters in connection with particular
landscapes. Very often such references are casual and subordinate to
some controlling idea, but they none the less reflect habitual
observation. Even when we speak of Homeric “tags,” like the
“saffron-robed” or “rosy-fingered,” or of Sappho’s “golden-sandalled”
Dawn, as “standing epithets,” we are implying that these epithets made a
general appeal. The naïve insertions in Homer of comparisons drawn from
birds and beasts, from night and storm and other familiar elements of
nature, would seem like an intrusive delay of the story did they not
carry with them the conviction that both poet and hearers alike were
well content to linger by the way and observe the objects of daily life
indoors and out. Thus in the Odyssey:—

  “The lion mountain-bred, with eyes agleam, fares onward in the rain
  and wind to fall upon the oxen or the sheep or wilding deer.”

Or, again:—

  “Hermes sped along the waves like sea-mew hunting fish in awesome
  hollows of the sea unharvested and wetting his thick plumage in the

One of the longer and best known comparisons is the description in the
Iliad of the Trojan encampment by night:—

  “Now they with hearts exultant through the livelong night sat by the
  space that bridged the moat of war, their watch-fires multitudinous
  alight. And just as in the sky the stars around the radiant moon shine
  clear; when windless is the air; when all the peaks stand out, the
  lofty forelands and the glades; when breaketh open from the sky the
  ether infinite and all the stars are seen and make the shepherds glad
  at heart—so manifold appeared the watch-fires kindled by the Trojan
  men in front of Ilios betwixt the streams of Xanthus and the ships. So
  then a thousand fires burned upon the plain and fifty warriors by the
  side of each were seated in the blazing fire’s gleam the while the
  horses by the chariots stood and champed white barley and the spelt
  and waited for the throned Dawn.”

Sappho’s fragments are redolent of flowers; her woven verse, a “rich-red
chlamys” in the sunshine, has a silver sheen in the moonlight. We hear
the full-throated passion of “the herald of the spring, the
nightingale”; the breeze moves the apple boughs, the wind shakes the oak
trees. Her allusions to “the hyacinths, darkening the ground, when
trampled under foot of shepherds”; the “fine, soft bloom of grass,
trodden by the tender feet of Cretan women as they dance”; or the
“golden pulse growing on the shore,”—all these seem inevitable to one
who has seen the acres of bright flowers that carpet the islands or the
nearby littoral of the Asian coast. Her comparison of a bridegroom to “a
supple sapling” recalls how Nausicaä, vigorous, tall, and straight as
the modern athletic maiden, is likened by Odysseus to the “young shaft
of a palm tree” that he had once seen “springing up in Delos by Apollo’s
altar.” In her Lesbian orchards the sweet quince-apple is still left
hanging “solitary on the topmost bough, upon its very end”; and there is
heard “cool murmuring through apple boughs while slumber floateth down
from quivering leaves.” Nor need we attribute Sappho’s love of natural
beauty wholly to her passionate woman’s nature. All the gentler emotions
springing from an habitual observation of nature recur in poets of the
sterner sex. “The Graces,” she says, “turn their faces from those who
wear no garlands.” And at banquets wreaths were an essential also for
masculine full-dress. Pindar, in describing Elysian happiness, leads up
to the climax of the companionship with the great and noble dead by
telling how “round the islands of the Blest the ocean breezes blow and
flowers of gold are blooming: some from the land on trees of splendour
and some the water feedeth; with wreaths whereof they twine their heads
and hands.”[2] Against the green background passes Evadne with her
silver pitcher and her girdle of rich crimson woof, and her child is
seen “hidden in the rushes of the thicket unexplored, his tender flesh
all steeped in golden and deep purple light from pansy flowers.”

Footnote 2:

  Translation (modified) by E. Myers.

To follow through the poetry of the Greeks the unfailing delight in the
radiance of the moon would be to follow her diurnal course as she passes
over Greek lands from east to west. The full moon looked down on all the
Olympian festivals and Pindar’s pages are illuminated with her
glittering argentry. The Lesbian nights inspire Sappho as did all things

  “The clustering stars about the radiant moon avert their faces bright
  and hide, what time her orb is rounded to the full and touches earth
  with silver.”

Wordsworth could take this thought from Sappho: “The moon doth with
delight look round her when the heavens are bare,” but the Lesbian
certainly did not finish the fragment by lamenting that “there has
passed away a glory from the earth.”

The night and the day alike claimed the attention of the poets and the
interchange of dusk and dawn appealed to the sculptor also. In the east
gable of the Parthenon the horses of the Sun and of the Moon were at
either end. Nature’s sleep is a favourite topic. Alcman’s description is
unusual only for its detail:—

                “Sleep the peaks and mountain clefts;
                Forelands and the torrents’ rifts;
                All the creeping things are sleeping,
                Cherished in the black earth’s keeping;
                Mountain-ranging beast and bee;
                Fish in depths of the purple sea;
                Wide-winged birds their pinions droop—
                Sleep now all the feathered troop.”

Goethe, in his well-known paraphrase,—

                          “Ueber allen Gipfeln
                          Ist Ruh,”—

cannot refrain from adding the subjective conclusion of the whole

                   “Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.
                   Warte nur, balde
                   Ruhest du auch.”

The great dramatists display an observation of the beauty of the
external world not always sufficiently emphasized. In Æschylus an
intense feeling is evident; none the less because it is subordinated to
his theme or used to point, by way of contrast, some awe-inspiring or
pathetic situation or some scene of blood. Clytemnestra describes how
she murdered her husband. His spattering blood, she says,—

       “Keeps striking me with dusky drops of murd’rous dew,
       Aye, me rejoicing none the less than God’s sweet rain
       Makes glad the corn-land at the birth-pangs of the buds.”

Comparisons, similes, and epithets drawn from the sea reappear
continually in the warp and woof of Greek, and especially of Athenian,
literature. Æschylus, like the rest, knew the sea in all its moods,
terrible in storm, deceitful in calm, beautiful at all times and the
pathway for commerce and for war. The returning herald in the
“Agamemnon” rehearses the soldiers’ hard bivouac in summer and in

        “And should one tell of winter, dealing death to birds,
        What storms unbearable swept down from Ida’s snow,
        Or summer’s heat when, ruffled by no rippling breeze,
        Ocean slept waveless, on his midday couch laid prone.”

With the first lines of “Prometheus Bound” we are carried far from the
haunts of men:—

        “Unto this far horizon of earth’s plain we’ve come,
        This Scythian tract, this desert by man’s foot untrod.”

Hephæstus reluctant, compelled by Zeus’s order, rivets his kin-god, the
Fire-bringer, to the desolate North Sea crag and withdraws leaving
Prometheus in fetters to “wrestle down the myriad years of time.” The
night shuts off the warmth and light, drawing over him her
“star-embroidered robe,” and the fierce sun-god returns with blazing
rays to “deflower his fair skin” bared of the white counterpane of
“frost of early dawn.” Not until the emissaries of Zeus have departed
does Prometheus deign to speak. Then he “communes with Nature.” He has
no hope of help from God, none from the “helpless creatures of a day”
whom he has helped. Alone with the forces of nature he utters that
outcry unsurpassed in sublimity and in pathos:—

          “O upper air divine and winds on swift wings borne;
          Ye river-springs; innumerous laughter of the waves
          Of Ocean; thou, Earth, the mother of us all;
          And thou, all-seeing orb of the Sun—to you I cry:
          Behold me what I’m suffering, a god from gods!”

Sophocles, too, lets Philoctetes, in his misery and loneliness on the
rocky island of Lemnos, call out to the wild beasts and the landscape:—

        “Harbours and headlands; and ye mountain-ranging beasts,
        Companions mine; ye gnawed and hanging cliffs! Of this
        To you I cry aloud, for I have none save you—
        You ever present here—to whom to make my cry.”

In his famous ode on the Attic Colonus he describes the natural beauty
of his home with particularizing exactness. He has also a wealth of
glittering epithet used for local colouring, for symbolism and
personification. The contrast of day and night offers to him a welcome
_mise-en-scène_. The sun’s rays are Apollo’s golden shafts and the
moon’s light seems to filter through the trees as Artemis roams the

             “O God of the light, from the woven gold
             Of the strings of thy bow, I am fain to behold
             Thy arrows invincible, showered around,
             As champions smiting our foes to the ground.
             And Artemis, too, with her torches flaring,
             Gleams onward through Lycian uplands faring.”

Bacchus, also, the “god of the golden snood,” “lifts his pine-knot’s
sparkle” and, roaming with his Mænads, seems to visualize for men the
soul of Nature.

Aristophanes with his common-sense objectivity was averse to the
sentimental and romantic in Euripides, which seemed to him effeminate.
His love for nature was clear-eyed and Hellenic. His lyrics shine like a
bird’s white wing in the sunlight. The self-invocation of the Clouds is
alive with the radiance of the Attic atmosphere. A translation can only
serve to illustrate the elements used in the description:—

                            CHORUS OF CLOUDS

      “Come ever floating, O Clouds, anew,
      Let us rise with the radiant dew
          Of our nature undefiled
      From father Ocean’s billows wild.
          The tree-fringed peak
      Of hill upon lofty hill let us seek
      That we may look on the cliffs far-seen,
      And the sacred land’s water that lends its green
      To the fruits, and the whispering rush of the rivers divine
      And the clamorous roar of the dashing brine.
          For Ether’s eye is flashing his light
          Untired by glare as of marble bright.”

The “meteor eyes” of the sun gaze “sanguine” and unblinking upon the
cloud-palisades, glaring bright as the marble of Mount Pentelicus.
Readers of the Greek will recognize here and there how an Aristophanic
epithet or thought has been precipitated and recombined by Shelley into
new and radiant shapes that drift through his own cloud-land,—“I change
but I cannot die!”

Aristophanes’s observation of nature is varied and exact. He had nothing
but ridicule for the pale student within doors, and only a man who kept
up an intimacy with “the open road” could have made the naturalistic
painting in the “Peace” of the serenity of country life:—

  “We miss the life of days gone by, the pressed fruit-cakes, the figs,
  the myrtles and the sweet new wine, the olive trees, the violet bed
  beside the well.”

Euripides in his attitude toward nature has all the qualities of the
other tragedians except sublimity, to which he more rarely attains. Many
qualities are much more conspicuous. His range of colour is wider. His
allusions to rivers and to the plant and animal world are more detailed.
Picturesque scenes and setting delight him. Beyond all this the
reflection in nature of human emotion, occasional in his predecessors,
plays in his verse almost a leading part. Modern romanticism, in short,
is no longer exceptional.

Hippolytus, the acolyte of Artemis, and his attendants address the
virgin goddess who ranges the woods and mountains and who, as Æschylus
says, is “kindly unto all the young things suckled at the breast of
wild-wood roaming beasts.” The “modern” element in the original loses
nothing in this paraphrase by Mallock:—

         “Hail, O most pure, most perfect, loveliest one!
             Lo, in my hand I bear,
         Woven for the circling of thy long gold hair,
         Culled leaves and flowers, from places which the sun
             The Spring long shines upon,
         Where never shepherd hath driven flock to graze,
             Nor any grass is mown;
         But there sound throughout the sunny, sweet warm days,
             ’Mid the green holy place
             The wild bee’s wings alone.”

In one of the despairing chorals of the “Trojan Women” the
personification of nature blends with the spirit of mythology. The name
of Tithonus, easily supplied by a Greek hearer, is inserted for English
readers in Gilbert Murray’s beautiful paraphrase:—

              “For Zeus—O leave it unspoken:
                But alas for the love of the Morn;
                  Morn of the milk-white wing
                  The gentle, the earth-loving,
              That shineth on battlements broken
                In Troy, and a people forlorn!
              And, lo, in her bowers Tithonus,
                Our brother, yet sleeps as of old:
              O, she too hath loved us and known us,
                And the Steeds of her star, flashing gold,
              Stooped hither and bore him above us;
                Then blessed we the Gods in our joy.
              But all that made them to love us
                Hath perished from Troy.”

When Dionysus addresses his Bacchantes, Euripides, in lines reminiscent
of Alcman, imposes upon outward nature the solemn expectancy of the
inward mind:—

         “Hushed was the ether; in hushed silence whispered not
         Leaves in the coppice nor the blades of meadow grass;
         No cry at all of any wild things had you heard.”

The formal banns of the open wedlock of man and nature were declared in
Euripides. Thereafter the treatment became more and more a matter of
personal equation. In Plato’s dialogues, for example, the ethical
element inevitably appears. In the famous scene beside the Ilissus,
Socrates and young Phædrus talk through the heated hours beneath the
shade of the wide-spreading plane tree, where the agnus castus is in
full bloom, where water cool to the unsandalled feet flows by, and in
the branches the cicadæ, “prophets of the Muses,” contribute of their

The Anthology, stretched through the centuries of Greek literature,
links the old and the newer, the antique reserve and the fainness of
modern romanticism. One of the epigrams attributed to Plato will serve
to indicate the emergence of the latter:—

             “On the stars thou art gazing, my Star;
               Would that the sky I might be,
                 For then from afar
             With my manifold eyes I would gaze upon thee.”

Another seems like an artist’s preliminary sketch for the picture by the
Ilissus, the deeper motive not yet painted in:—

      “Sit thee down by this pine tree whose twigs without number
      Whisper aloft in the west wind aquiver.
      Lo! here by my stream as it chattereth ever
      The Panpipe enchanteth thy eyelids to slumber.”

From this we pass without break to the piping shepherds and the country
charms with which Theocritus filled his Idyls for city-jaded men:—

                                     ... “There we lay
           Half buried in a couch of fragrant reed
           And fresh-cut vine leaves, who so glad as we?
           A wealth of elm and poplar shook o’erhead;
           Hard by, a sacred spring flowed gurgling on
           From the Nymphs’ grot, and in the sombre boughs
           The sweet cicada chirped laboriously.
           Hid in the thick thorn-bushes far away
           The treefrog’s note was heard; the crested lark
           Sang with the goldfinch; turtles made their moan,
           And o’er the fountain hung the gilded bee.”[3]

Footnote 3:

  Translated by C. S. Calverly.

Notwithstanding the variety in landscape and the lack of unified
nationality in the long centuries of Greek history, there is a unity in
the impression of ancient life left upon the mind by a visit to Greece.
This is in part due to the comparative meagreness of remains from
periods subsequent to classic times. The long obliteration of mediæval
and modern constructive civilization leaves more clear the outlines of

This is true even though the sum total of the remains of Byzantine and
mediæval life, on islands and on mainland, is large and claims the
attention from time to time. In Athens the traveller will come upon the
small Metropolis church with its ancient Greek calendar of festivals,
let in as a frieze above the entrance and metamorphosed into Byzantine
sanctity by the inscribing of Christian crosses. As he journeys to and
fro in Greece he may see the venerable “hundred-gated” church on the
island of Paros, recalling in certain details the proscenium of an
ancient theatre; Monemvasia with its vast ruins, the home of Byzantine
ecclesiasticism and a splendour of court life that vied with the pomp
and magnificence of western Europe; or the ivy-clad ruins of Mistra, an
epitome of Græco-Byzantine art from the thirteenth to the fifteenth
century; the frowning hill and castle of Karytæna that guards the
approach to the mountain fastnesses of Arcadia; or the ancient acropolis
of Lindus on the island of Rhodes with the impregnable fortress of the
Knights of St. John.

Nor will the visitor ignore the reminders of the War of Independence and
the renascence of life in modern Greece. Mesolonghi, Nauplia, and
Arachova have contributed fresh chapters to human history. Aligned with
ancient names are those of modern heroes in the nomenclature of the
streets and of public squares, like the Karaiskakis Place that welcomes
the traveller as he disembarks at Piræus.

But all of these, whether mediæval or modern, fail to blur the
understanding of antiquity. They do not obtrude themselves. Often they
even illustrate ancient life. The same wisdom that transferred
allegiance from the Saturnalia to the Christmas festival has here also
been careful to use for Byzantine churches the site of ancient shrines
or temples: St. Elias is a familiar name on high mountains where once
stood altars of the Olympians; the cult of Dionysus has been skilfully
transformed, in vine-rearing Naxos, into that of St. Dionysius; SS.
Cosmo and Damiano, patrons of medicine, and known as the “feeless”
saints, have established their free dispensary in place of an
Asklepieion; the twelve Apostles have replaced the “Twelve Gods”; and
churches dedicated to St. Demetrius have been substituted for shrines of

The thoughtful student of the literature of the Greeks, no matter how
enthusiastic he may be, will not fail to draw warnings as well as
inspiration from their history. But no defects of the Greeks nor
achievements of posterity can dispossess Hellas of her peculiar lustre.

“No other nation,” as Mr. Ernest Myers has said with particular
reference to the age of Pindar, “has ever before or since known what it
was to stand alone immeasurably advanced at the head of the civilization
of the world.”

                               CHAPTER II
                        PIRÆUS, THE HARBOUR TOWN

    “Returning from Asia Minor and voyaging from Ægina toward Megara
    I began to look on the places round about me. Behind me was
    Ægina; before me Megara; on the right Piræus; on the left
    Corinth—cities once flourishing, now prostrate and in ruins.”

                                      SERVIUS SULPICIUS _to_ Cicero.

The sail in bright sunshine up the Gulf of Ægina, the ancient Saronic
Gulf, will have fulfilled the traveller’s anticipations of the beauty of
Greece and will have quickened the historic imagination. History and
antiquity, however, will give place to the insistent claims of modern
Greek life, as the steamer enters the busy port and passes through the
narrow opening between the welcoming arms of the ancient moles which
still protect the harbour and serve at night to hold up the green and
red signal lights for mariners.

[Illustration: PIRÆUS]

In this harbour meet the Orient and the Occident. One may see here craft
of all kinds from all parts of the Mediterranean and from beyond the
Straits; modern steamers, big and little; gunboats, native or foreign;
sailing vessels from the Greek islands or Turkish possessions, laden
with bright cargoes of yellow lemons and Cretan oranges, great grapes
purple and white, or “tunnies steeped in brine”; here a steamer packed
with pilgrims for a religious festival on Tenos; here, perhaps, another
vessel crowded with American tourists to Jerusalem.

Upon landing, most visitors go immediately to Athens, but no one should
fail to return once and again to Piræus in order to see the extant
remains of the ship-houses; of the gateways and walls to the northwest
of the Great Harbour; of the walls that skirt the whole peninsula; of
the theatres and other scanty traces of the old life within the city.
Even to a traveller innocent of the facts of Greek history, the drive at
sunset along the rim of the peninsula and the indenting harbours will be
one of the best remembered experiences in the neighbourhood of Athens,
by reason of the sheer physical beauty of land and sea, islands and
distant mountains.

The terminus of the electric railroad from Athens to Piræus is in the
northwest corner of the modern town between the lines now assumed for
the “Themistocles Wall” and the “Wall of Conon,” dating, respectively,
from the two most significant epochs in the history of Piræus. Although
the tyrant Hippias had begun to fortify the Munychia hill in the sixth
century B. C., his undertaking was interrupted, and it was left for
Themistocles, in the early part of the fifth century, to begin, and
finally to carry well on the way to completion, the transformation into
a sea-fortress of this natural vantage-ground. Later, he was for
removing Athens itself to Piræus. Failing in this, he shifted the
habitat for the new fleet from the open roadstead of Phalerum, which was
nearer Athens, to the land-locked harbours of Piræus. But the return of
the Persians, ten years after Marathon, surprised the Athenians with
their preparations incomplete, and Athens was transferred, not indeed to
Piræus, but to the “wooden walls” of the triremes themselves.

When, under Pericles, Athens reached the acme of her intellectual,
artistic, and material power, around the harbours at Piræus had been
built a well-planned city, with stately avenues and dwellings for
wealthy men and wealthier gods. The port had been completely fortified
either by the restoration and carrying out of the interrupted building
or by the extension of the plans of Themistocles. A massive wall
inclosed the three harbours within its circuit, and strong moles,
lasting on into modern times, guarded their entrances. Ship-houses had
also been built, and doubtless an arsenal, though a less pretentious one
than the great structure afterwards erected. In short, all the
paraphernalia existed for offensive and defensive naval operations. The
“Long Walls,” actually built soon after the banishment of Themistocles
in 472 B. C., had united Athens and its port into a dual city. No
greater proof of the vital union of the two cities could be cited than
the rage and grief felt by the citizens when, at the end of the
Peloponnesian War, in 404 B. C., the Spartans razed the Long Walls. It
was amputating the very feet of the imperial Queen of the Ægean.

Some ten years later, the Long Walls were rebuilt and the restoration of
the Piræus fortifications was taken in hand. Of the remains now visible,
the major part belongs to this rebuilding at the beginning of the fourth
century. A little less than a century had elapsed since Marathon, and we
now find Athens allied with her old enemy, Persia, against another Greek
state. Conon the Athenian, victorious over the Spartans in the naval
battle of Cnidus, sent back Persian gold to fortify the Piræus anew, and
the circuit wall, of which such extensive remains are extant, was called
by his name.

On issuing from the electric railroad station, the visitor sees before
him, a few yards distant, the Great Harbour’s smaller, inner fold, known
in antiquity as “The Marsh” (Port d’Halæ) or, perhaps, as the “Blind”
Harbour. This inner harbour, roughly a third of a mile by a sixth in
size, now furnishes ample accommodation for smaller craft and a
convenient landing-place, although in Conon’s day it was probably more
of a marshy barrier than a navigable sheet of water. If the whole
contour of the two harbours together suggested the designation of
“Cantharus,” it may have been from either the meaning “Beetle,” or that
of “Two-handled Cup.” Until recently, the name was identified with the
southernmost portion only of the Great Harbour. The _locus classicus_ is
the “Peace” of Aristophanes. Dædalus and Icarus with their
flying-machines had long since anticipated the modern aëroplane, and in
this comedy Trygæus in search of Peace starts out to navigate Zeus’s
ether on his “beetle.” Then, as now, a safe landing-place for the
airship was a desideratum, and Trygæus states that he will have as a
safe mooring “the Cantharus harbour in Piræus.”[4]

Footnote 4:

  The Cantharus, or beetle, of Trygæus is likened in the comedy to a
  Naxian boat, a resemblance easily recognized in the drinking-cup
  called “Cantharus,” with its two projecting handles for bow and stern.

Skirting now the northern margin of the inner harbour, the route will
follow in part the probable line of the demolished wall of Themistocles,
which extended on and reached the water outside both the peninsula of
Eetioneia and the outer bay of Krommydaru, where traces of the more
ancient fortifications are still extant. Close by the modern station of
the Larisa railway, however, will be found the very considerable ruins
of a gateway identified with the Conon walls. This alone is an ample
reward for the long détour around the harbour.

If time and energy permit, it is well worth while, instead of crossing
by boat to Akte, to return to the starting-point and to saunter along
the whole margin of the Great Harbour. Particularly picturesque are the
great sloops, laden with lemons and oranges, moored in behind the
Karaiskakis square, which only the pedestrian would be likely to
discover. As one lingers along the quays, however, modern warships and
all the craft for commerce and travel will give place to the memories
evoked from the greater past. This harbour of commerce will, in
imagination, be once more crowded with triremes, brought around from the
two war-harbours on the other side, to be inspected one after the other
by the Council of the Five Hundred. As official inspectors of the
triremes, when made ready to set out for conquest or defeat, this
Council held its sittings on the Choma, probably a little promontory
that juts southward from the Karaiskakis Place. One may recall, with the
help of Thucydides, the setting out of the ill-starred Sicilian
expedition. No such vast array had ever left the harbour for so distant
and protracted a warfare. All the citizens of Athens as well as of
Piræus are here to witness the departure of sons and friends. High hopes
of imperial expansion feed the imagination of the multitude. Some rest
their confidence on divine favour sure to accompany the pious, though
reluctant, Nicias; others put faith in the warrior Lamachus; more in the
brilliant Alcibiades, still idolized though accused of sharing in the
mutilation of the Hermæ. The great fleet of swift triremes is ready,
together with the transports for heavy-armed soldiers, equipments, and
supplies. Now the men are all on board and a hush falls upon the throng
at a sudden blast of the trumpet. The prayers, according to established
ritual, are offered by the united squadron. At a concerted sign, the
mixing-bowls are crowned throughout the whole host and the men and
generals pour libations from gold and silver cups. The throngs upon the
land, both citizens and foreign well-wishers, join in the service. The
hymn of triumph sung, the libations poured, the ships weigh anchor and
put to sea. But before the last trireme has passed through the moles,
and while the ear still catches the notes of the flute and the voice of
the _Keleustæ_, giving the time to the crews, a revulsion of grim
presentiment overmasters many of the watchers on the shore. The
expedition now no longer seems what they so lightly voted in the
assembly. The ever-recurrent Greek feeling that “high things annoy the
god” calls up the warning words of Æschylus, uttered a generation
before, in the year of the unlucky Egyptian expedition sent out on a
similar venture:—

           “Grown Insolence is wont to breed
             Young Insolence midst mortals’ sorrow,
           Then, then, when to th’ implanted seed
             There comes the birth-light’s destined morrow.”

Or else his immortal lament “over the unreturning brave” comes unbidden
to their lips:—

  “Whom one sent forth to war one knows, but, in the stead of men, come
  back unto the homes of each but urns and ashes.”

The mysterious mutilation of the Hermæ is fresh in mind and the fear of
angered gods reasserts its sway. But no presentiment of ill could
anticipate the reality of the disaster in the harbour of Syracuse or the
slow tortures of living death in its stone quarries. A chance for
retaliation in kind was indeed to come. In a Piræus stone quarry
Syracusan captives were in turn imprisoned a few years later, but they,
more lucky than the Athenians, cut their way to freedom from their
rock-bound prison.

Despite the imperious insolence of Athens and her unrighteous schemes
for aggrandizement, our sympathy in the tragedy is ever fresh. By the
harbour side we mourn to-day the predestined doom of the gallant
squadron and the stricken city. Through the ebb and flow of hope and
disaster, the thought sweeps on to the close of the war and the
humiliation of Athens at the hands of Sparta; the destruction of the
Long Walls, their rebuilding and the refortification of Piræus under
Conon; the aftermath of Athenian power; the brilliant age of Plato and
the orators; the struggle with Philip; the fall of Greek liberty; the
sway of Macedon; the Roman conquest, with the long, stubborn siege of
Piræus so graphically described by Appian. Sulla, exasperated by the
long defence of the Mithridatic army, with whom the Athenians had cast
in their lot, burnt the arsenal and docks and razed the fortifications
so utterly that the Roman governor, Sulpicius, in writing to his friend
Cicero in 45 B. C., could describe Piræus as the “corpse” of a great
city. In the second century of our era it had resumed a semblance of
commercial prosperity. Lucian, in his dialogue, “When My Ship Comes In,”
goes down to Piræus with a friend to admire a great grain transport that
has just put into harbour on its way from Egypt to Rome. For a
merchantman it is large; some 180 feet long, 45 in beam, and over 40
feet in depth to the hold. The prow stretches out long, and at the stern
is the gilded figure-head of a goose with its graceful curving neck. The
two friends wonder at a sailor mounting nimbly by the swaying ropes and
running out nonchalantly along the great yardarm, as he holds on by the
yardsheets. But the generous cargo of grain, enough, as we are told, to
feed Athens for a year, is destined for Rome. Athens was no longer the
emporium of the eastern Mediterranean. She had become a way-station. No
longer could she enforce the old law, mentioned by Aristotle, which
required that two thirds of the cargo of every grain-ship that put into
Piræus must be carried up to the metropolis.

After Roman times, in the long atrophy of the Byzantine age, Piræus
dwindled to a group of fishermen’s huts. It revived somewhat under De la
Roche in the fourteenth century, and thereafter, at least was known as
Porto Leone from the seated figure of a marble lion that kept guard
among the ruins like the majestic lion that still sentinels the
battlefield of Chæronea. In the seventeenth century, the Venetians
carried off this Piræus lion, and now, seated by another arsenal in
another seaport, careless of the passing tourist, it looks grimly over
the Adriatic where steamers come and go between the neighbouring Trieste
and its native land.

Leaving now the Great Harbour and our meditations on the vicissitudes of
history, we resume our inspection of the fan-shaped peninsula. Without a
special permit the visitor is excluded from the western end and from the
Royal Garden which encloses the most probable site of the Tomb of
Themistocles, if indeed his bones were ever brought back from burial in
exile. His official tomb was in Magnesia in Caria. A public interment in
his native land could not be granted to one exiled as a traitor.
Thucydides knows only of a secret burial of his bones in Attica. The
remains of the monument in question stand on the point of Akte near the
entrance to the outermost harbour. From this tomb the great admiral’s
spirit could still watch over the Athenian sea-power. Skepticism about
the site is forgotten when we read the fragment, meagre as it is, of the
comic poet Plato:—

         “Fair is the outlook where thy mounded tomb is placed.
         For it will signal merchantmen from here and yon,
         It will behold the sailors faring out and in,
         Will be spectator of the triremes’ racing oars.”

This “contest of the triremes” may allude to the boat-race in which the
course lay from Cantharus harbour around the whole peninsula to
Munychia. These races in sacred ships were part of the systematic
training of the Attic youths.

The public road leads over the shoulder of the hill and, in descending
again to the coast, offers a beautiful view to the west and south over
the Saronic Gulf. The driveway then runs along the water’s edge around
the promontory, keeping close inside the ruined “Wall of Conon.”
Although the remains of this encircling wall rise nowhere more than
about eight feet above ground, and usually much less, yet the very
continuity of the ruins is imposing. Practically in an unbroken line the
solid masonry hems the irregular rim of the peninsula from the mouth of
the Great Harbour to a point not far distant from the war-harbour of Zea
on the opposite side and may be traced again intermittently around to
the Bay of Phalerum. Solid tower buttresses are interposed at frequent
intervals. On this southern shore of Akte, where the modern town does
not intrude, the spectator is free to divide his attention between the
beauty of the sea view and thoughts of the past.

The picturesque land-locked harbours of Zea and Munychia next claim our
interest. The pear-shaped Zea basin, now known by the Turco-Greek name
of Pashalimani, makes into the neck of the peninsula between the
promontory hill of Akte and the Acropolis of Munychia. Behind it and
close to it was erected in the fourth century the great Arsenal, and at
various points beneath its transparent water may still be seen distinct
remains of 38 of the ship-ways that ran down from the ancient
ship-houses where the triremes were drawn up. Inscriptions tell us that
there were originally 372 in all, of which 82 were in Munychia, 94 in
the Great Harbour, and the remainder in Zea. No other relic of antiquity
brings us into closer touch with the naval power of Athens and her
empire on the Ægean. The covered sheds themselves can only be
reconstructed in imagination. Some broken columns of the ship-houses and
portions of the launching piers remain _in situ_. To accommodate the 196
triremes, 130-165 feet long, assigned to the Zea Harbour, some of the
houses must have been constructed so as to dock the boats in at least
two tiers. At Syracuse, the formidable Piræus of the west, remains of
ship-sheds have been found, and at Carthage, the bitter foe of Syracuse,
they remained for Appian to describe. Dry-docks may have existed near
the harbour entrance. This narrow neck of the pear-shaped harbour was
still further guarded at the inner opening by projecting moles, which
here also are still extant. The entrance was actually closed, in case of
need, by chains extended across at the surface of the water. Of the
proud warships themselves, those chargers of the sea stabled in Zea,
there remains one realistic reminder. Their timbers have long since
rotted away, the gulfs have washed down all such small objects of
durable material as bronze nails and clamps, but some heavy plates of
Parian marble have been found in the harbour. These were set into the
bows of the warships, and upon them were painted the vessel’s eyes that
used to keep fierce outlook for the enemy or peer through the gloom of
night and storm for the first sight of the shoreward lights of Piræus.
Danaus at Argos, in the “Suppliants” of Æschylus, as he sees the
approaching ship, exclaims:—

       “The bellying sails I see; the ox-hide bulwarks stretched
       Along the vessel’s sides; the prow that with its eyes
       Peers forward o’er the course.”

On the marble plates actually recovered the iris is painted bright red
or blue, and a vacant hole in the middle suggests the head of a
burnished bronze nail that served at once as the pupil of the eye and to
rivet on the plate. These eyes are common in representations of ancient
vessels, and only in recent years are they disappearing from use among
Sicilian and Italian boatmen.

The most casual survey of this protected haven will justify the sagacity
of Themistocles in concentrating his energy upon Piræus. His proposition
to transfer Athens altogether to the seaport was strategically wise. The
extent of the Long Walls, uniting the two into a double city, was a
source of weakness, as it drained the defenders away from both towns.
But it was a true instinct of the Athenians, which posterity endorses,
to cling to the sentiments evoked by their ancient city and in it to
develop to the full their intellectual empire.

It is probable that the extant traces of the ship-sheds in the two
war-harbours date back only as far as the fourth century B. C., but the
number and size fairly represent the older Periclean constructions. The
Thirty Tyrants destroyed the former ship-sheds, as Isocrates tells us,
and sold for three talents (about $3100) the material of these buildings
upon which the city had spent more than one thousand talents.

The ruins of the “Wall of Conon” can still be traced for some distance
to the east after leaving the harbour of Zea, and at the southeastern
promontory the ruins of ancient fortifications are again to be seen. The
harbour of Munychia (modern _Phanari_) is smaller than that of Zea. Its
contour is so perfect an oval as to seem artificial. It had space to
accommodate only eighty-two triremes in ship-houses, scanty remains of
which are here visible under the water.

At the east side the ruined wall may again be traced to the Bay of
Phalērum or (Greek) Phàleron, and beyond, curving around the Munychia
acropolis to complete the circuit to the north of the town.

Further east, on the open bay of Phaleron, is New Phaleron, a bathing
resort as frankly modern as the Lido at Venice. The exact site of Old
Phaleron is open to dispute, but the walk between it and Athens was a
favourite constitutional in Plato’s time. Many a classic conversation
was held here on the way. In the “Symposium” of Plato, Glaucon asks
Apollodorus: “Isn’t the road to Athens just made for conversation?” Now
the banality and the bareness of the city’s outskirts intrude sadly upon
the pedestrian’s philosophic equipoise, both here and on the other road
between Athens and Piræus where Lucian and his friend, in the second
century of our era, could still find shelter from the hot sun under some
olive trees by the wayside and “sit down to rest upon an overturned

The focus of the inner city life was the splendid Agora laid out by the
famous architect Hippodamus. Here ended the road from Athens. This
square was probably west of Munychia north of the Zea harbour, perhaps
about where the present Athena street intersects Munychia avenue. Near
it were probably grouped various sanctuaries. Xenophon tells how in the
civil war the patriotic party, “the men from Phyle,” unable to exclude
“the City party” from the whole of Piræus, fell back on the Munychia
hill, and the men from Athens blocked up the avenue that leads to the
temple of Bendis and to the sanctuary of Munychian Artemis. By this
Market-place, too, houses of rich residents were probably built.

The Piræus was essentially a democratic stronghold. It was the
rendezvous for the patriotic anti-Spartan party; and Plato, with all his
aristocratic leanings, chose to lay at Piræus the opening scene and
setting for his greatest dialogue, the “Republic.” It was the fitting
propylæa for his ideal city as well as for the real Athens. “I went down
yesterday,” Socrates begins, “to Piræus with Glaucon, both to make a
prayer to the goddess and to take a look at the festival to see how they
would carry it off, inasmuch as they are now celebrating it for the
first time.” The Thracian residents, it seems, had just introduced a
celebration in honour of their goddess Bendis, and the natives had
united with them. The whole port was _en fête_ with processions
conducted both by the hospitable native citizens and the Thracians
themselves. In the evening there was to be a torch-race followed by an
all-night festival. Socrates, who was on the point of returning to
Athens after witnessing the daylight processions, was easily persuaded
by Polemarchus to stay over for the torch-race, dining first at the
house of his father, the rich and hospitable old metic, Cephalus. At the
house Socrates finds another son, Lysias, who was soon to become famous
as an orator. For the Thirty were to plunder the property bequeathed by
Cephalus to his sons, all the ready money, the shield factory, and the
slaves; were to put summarily to death young Polemarchus; and were to
force Lysias, reduced to sudden poverty, to betake himself to
speech-writing for a living. His crowning effort was an arraignment of
his brother’s murderers. Most skilful of narrators, he tells of the fate
of Polemarchus; how his house was plundered; how his wife was robbed of
the very ear-rings from her ears; and how after his execution,
notwithstanding the just title of the family to large holdings of real
estate, he was buried from a hired shed, one friend providing a robe,
another a pillow, for the corpse. He tells, too, of his own arrest at
his home by the emissaries of the Thirty: how he bargained for his life
with a sum of ready money; how one of his captors followed him into the
inner room, looked over his shoulder into the money-chest, and took not
only the price agreed upon but all the contents of the strong box; how
he was taken to another house of a Piræus acquaintance; and how, while
his captors were keeping guard at the peristyle door in front, he had
escaped by a back door to the house of a friend, the shipmaster, with
the appropriate name of Archenaus. So, while his less fortunate brother,
Polemarchus, is led off to Athens, thrown into prison, and “bidden by
the Thirty their usual bidding—to drink hemlock,” Lysias, by the aid of
his nautical friend, is embarked for Megara under cover of night. We
should like to have fuller details of that escape of the young Lysias,
yesterday a wealthy manufacturer, to-day a plundered fugitive but
destined to become one of the greatest of the “ten” orators and a master
architect of Attic style. Perhaps a small boat put off from some lonely
spot on Akte, perhaps from the Great Harbour itself, shooting through
the moles in the darkness and, wind and weather permitting, kept to
starboard of the Psyttaleia reef, passed up through the strait of
Salamis, on through the beautiful Bay of Eleusis, and landed the
fugitive at Megara.

Plato’s account of the visit of Socrates to the Piræus homestead carries
us back to the days of security before the reign of the Thirty. We see
old Cephalus welcoming Socrates cordially, delivering a monologue on his
own gracious old age, telling a story about Sophocles in his later
years, and finally withdrawing to supervise a sacrifice to the gods.

The introduction of a foreign divinity like Bendis of the Thracians was
not unusual. The celebration, described at the opening of the Republic,
was at least no more exotic than a St. Patrick’s day in America.
Foreigners and natives united in it as they did in the celebration of
the Mother of the Gods. The customs inspection of foreign deities was
lenient. The Greeks were free traders both in art and religion, though
the finished product imported was likely enough to be used as new
material. Into the smelting furnace of the classic period was cast the
old, the new, the foreign, and the domestic, to reappear in fairer form,
stamped with the Hellenic hall-mark. Among the various imported deities,
Cybele is well vouched for at Piræus where a number of marble votive
shrines of the Great Mother have been found. One of these archaic Cybele
reliefs, brought from Piræus to the National Museum in Athens, shows the
goddess with her lion in her lap, her cymbals in her hand. The “new
theology,” fostered by Euripides and domiciled in daily life by the “New
Comedy,” could treat these cymbals as typical of “a creed out-worn.” One
of Menander’s characters exclaims:—

        “No god, my wife, saves one man through another’s help,
        For if a human being can by cymbals’ clash
        Deflect the god to whatsoever is desired,
        Then greater than the god is he that doeth this.”

Among various resident colonists who may have occupied distinct sections
of the city, like a mediæval Ghetto or a modern Italian quarter, the
worship of home divinities was kept alive. It is known, for example,
that the Egyptian resident merchants, perhaps as early as the end of the
fifth century, had received a special license to erect an Isis sanctuary
and the Cyprians instituted a similar cult of Adonis and Aphrodite.

Remains of the old gateway in the northern circuitwall, just where the
north Long Wall joined on, are still extant. Within a century, the
traces of the Long Walls themselves have been disappearing. Enough is
left, however, to mark their course at various points, and the remains
are particularly plain of the “South” Long Wall, where it nears the
Munychia acropolis. Ascending Munychia, we may imagine the Long Walls
still reaching up to Athens. We may picture them either in time of war,
with defenders within and foes without, or in time of peace, with the
stream of pedestrians bent upon pleasure or business. Outside the North
Wall was one of the places of execution. Plato illustrates the contest
between the brute in man and his higher reason by the story of a certain
Leontius who one day was walking up from Piræus and saw some dead bodies
fallen prostrate by the side of the executioner. He loathes the sight
but is fain to look. Vulgar curiosity gains the mastery; he runs up to
the dead bodies and, holding his eyelids wide open, exclaims: “There
wretches! Take your fill of the fine spectacle!”

Turning from the course of the Long Walls, the eye surveys the whole
panorama of the harbours and the city. Just within the old wall, on the
west slope of the Munychia hill, is the old Theatre in a ruined
condition. But we can think of the harbour folk in days of peace
enjoying on these same rising seats the plays of a Menander or Euripides
or see convened there in the times of grim civil strife a hurried
assembly of the patriotic party.

Somewhere close by the north side of Zea was the famous arsenal which,
though not built till near the end of the fourth century, has entirely
disappeared. Luckily, however, in 1882 there was discovered near the Zea
harbour a slab of Hymettus marble containing the directions given to the
contractors for its construction. It was built to contain the rigging,
tackle, sails, cables for undergirding the ships, etc., while the masts,
spars, oars, rudders, and other wooden gear seem to have been kept in
the ship-sheds themselves alongside of the ships. This arsenal of Philo
replaced an older and less elaborate one. It was a large building, four
hundred by five hundred feet within, and provided for a roomy arcade
where the populace, screened from the burning heat without, could
promenade and gaze at the suggestive evidences of their sea power.

Of the many private and public buildings, temples and colonnades
mentioned by classic authors, but few can be positively located. In the
Colonnade of the Exchange—the Deigma—Theophrastus, Menander’s friend and
the successor of Aristotle, represents his “Boastful Man,” a
shipping-merchant, as bragging about his great ventures and cargoes at
sea. Meanwhile his balance at the banker’s actually amounts to about
twenty cents. That this Deigma, where gossip was coined and bargains
struck around the money-changers’ tables, must have been close to the
edge of the Great Harbour is evident from Xenophon, who says that one
day twelve Lacedæmonian ships swept into the harbour suddenly, landed a
party and carried off from the Exchange a group of sea-captains and

The site of the Asklepieion, partly church, partly sanatorium, has been
identified in the remains west of Zea. Aphrodite, born of the foam, is a
popular goddess with sailor-folk. To her were dedicated, it would seem,
no less than three sanctuaries at Piræus.

Lastly, there was the famous _Hieron_ or Sanctuary of Zeus and Athena.
Even its site cannot now be identified, but it must have been one of the
most frequented centres of Piræus life in the fifth century. An
inscription records that into the treasury of this sanctuary went the
tax of a drachma on every vessel that put into the port. Incidentally
many a further contribution was levied on the newly landed sailor, who
was as much a fish out of water among the land-sharks as is the modern
Jack Tar on ship’s leave. The comic poet Diphilus tells how one of these
harbour caterers used to select his victims: “For example there’s the
skipper who grudgingly pays off a vow made under stress of weather when
the mast went by the board or when he had snapped the rudder-sweeps of
the ship or else was forced by water rising in the hold to hurl his
cargo overboard. A wide berth I give to a fellow like him. Such a man
will not be free-handed; my best chance is with the captain who has made
a quick, safe voyage from Byzantium, who, all excitement over his gain
of ten or twelve per cent for three days’ risk, is loud in his chatter
about freights and usuries.” He’s the man for the purposes of this
shark, and no sooner is he landed than our keeper of the Sailors’ Snug
Retreat goes up to him, takes his hand, and reminds him that a sacrifice
at the temple of Zeus Preserver would be in order. He thoughtfully
relieves the skipper of any care, making the purchases, superintending
the offering, and sharing the commission with the priests of the Hieron.
And human nature was much the same five hundred years later, when we
again meet a skipper whose performance, once he is safe at Piræus, falls
far short of the vows made in storm and peril. Lucian, in his “Zeus the
Tragedian,” gives details. The Olympian Father, alarmed at the signs of
increasing irreligiousness and the consequent stringency in the
sacrificial market, calls an assembly of the gods. After some difficult
points of precedence as to order of seating have been temporarily waived
and half-naturalized divinities like Mithras and our Thracian Bendis
have been admitted, Zeus makes a speech. He begins fluently enough with
a mosaic of oratorical phrases which he has memorized from Demosthenes.
Presently, however, he exclaims: “But my Demosthenes is giving out. I
must tell you in plain Greek what has troubled me.” He reminds them of
the dinner in which some of them—“as many as had been invited”—had
participated the day before, when “Mnesitheus, the ship-owner, had given
them a Thanksgiving banquet at Piræus on account of the preservation of
his vessel that had come within an ace of being wrecked off Eubœa.”
“That evening,” he continues, “while taking a constitutional, I kept
thinking over the stinginess of Mnesitheus who undertook to entertain
sixteen gods by sacrificing a single cock—and that, too, a wheezy old
rooster!—with four little lumps of frankincense so mouldy that they went
out forthwith on the coals, without giving even the tip of my nose a
whiff of the smoke. That’s what he did, though he was for promising
whole hecatombs when his boat was driving on the cliff and was already
encircled by reefs.”

Sometimes the fisher-folk preferred to go up to Athens and dedicate
votive offerings in the Parthenon. Lucian, in “The Fisher,” when angling
over the edge of the Acropolis for the scaly philosophers of the second
century, borrows of the Priestess of the Parthenon a rod, hook, and line
that “the fisherman from Piræus had dedicated” as a thank-offering.

Of the many epigrams in the Greek Anthology on shipwrecked mariners, the
most appropriate to our harbour town is perhaps the one written by
Antipater of Sidon for the tomb of a certain Aristagoras who was drowned
after reaching harbour at Scarphe. We are reminded of the Piræus temple
to Aphrodite of the Fair Voyage by the bitterness with which the poet
uses the epithet:—

       “Ever the sea is the sea. It is idle to blame
       Cyclades’ waves or the Needles or Narrows of Helle;
       Them I escaped to be drowned in the harbour of Scarphe.
                 Vain is their fame.
       Pray, if you will, for a fair voyaging homeward, but say:
       Here in his tomb Aristagoras knows of the sea and its way—
                 Ever the same.”

It requires no great stretch of the imagination to reproduce the thrill
of pride and delight with which the Attic demesman, whether sailor or
soldier, fisherman or merchant, returning from abroad sighted the
heights of Akte and the Munychia acropolis and sailed up to the
beautiful, dignified city built around its strong, fortified harbours.
Even after independent Athens had been incorporated in the Macedonian
empire, Menander could record this patriotic delight. In a fragment from
his “Fishers” a sailor, returning perhaps to Piræus, falls down and
kisses the earth, exclaiming:—

          “Greeting, O dear my country, long the time gone by
          Till now I see and kiss thee. Not to every land
          Would I do this, but only when I see my own,
          The land that bred me is a goddess in my eyes.”

We think of Menander himself as a frequent visitor to the harbour town.
Tradition says that he was drowned while bathing at the harbour and his
countrymen gave him a tomb and an epitaph on the road from Piræus to
Athens by the Long Walls. There, too, was the cenotaph of Euripides, who
had sailed away to the court of the Macedonian king, never again to
enter through the harbour’s arms that welcomed so many returning

And the Athenian of the third century, returning as we do now, from a
visit to Piræus, would see these tombs as he left the harbour walls and
perhaps find compensation for the loss of external liberty in realizing
that the great sea-fortress and the maritime empire of Themistocles, of
Pericles, and of Conon had buttressed well a Greater Athens; that
neither Spartan jealousy and civil discord, nor even the foreign rule of
Macedon itself could destroy the real power of this Mother city and
obliterate her sway over the human mind. But it required the perspective
of longer time and the idealism of a Shelley boldly to interpret
disaster in terms of victory and to proclaim Athens as mistress of a sea
wider than the Ægean:—

                    “Greece and her foundations are
                    Laid below the tides of war,
                    Based on the crystalline sea
                    Of thought and its eternity.”

The launching-ways of the ancient triremes, still seen beneath the clear
water, symbolize that continued hegemony.

                              CHAPTER III

    “Here, stranger, seek no tyrant. This our state is ruled Not of
    one man. ’Tis free. The people year by year As kings succeed
    each other, never yield they most To Wealth, but even he that’s
    poor has equal share.”

                                             EURIPIDES, _Supplices_.

Many a visitor, led to Athens by interest in its associations and its
art, has been surprised by its great physical beauty. The drive from
Piræus, through the banal outskirts of the growing city, is, indeed, a
disenchanting approach, but one has only to walk to the Corinthian
columns of the Olympieum to obtain a satisfying view of the Acropolis,
embedded like a crystal in its proper matrix of encompassing air and
plain and sea and mountains. Future journeys in Greece will but
reënforce the conviction of the noble loveliness of the Attic plain. The
atmosphere is singularly clear and vibrant, and within it colour and
form are sharply defined. The Ægean at its shores adds movement and
space. And here more than anywhere else Sir Richard Jebb’s description
of the Greek hills seems inevitable. Their forms “are at once so bold
and so chastened, the onward sweep of their ranges is at once so elastic
and so calm, each member of every group is at once so individual and so
finely helpful to the ethereal expressiveness of the rest, that the
harmony of their undulations and the cadences in which they fall combine
the charm of sculpture with the life and variety of a sunlit sea.”

In making such a study of this city as is demanded for turning the quick
appreciation of its external charm into the more permanent possession of
its underlying qualities, we must submit to some analysis of the great
moments in its history and its literature.

When Athenian literature begins with Solon, in the sixth century, B. C.,
the Greeks have emerged from a dim antiquity. In the two preceding
centuries, the mother cities of Achæan and Dorian Greece had been
sending out colonists east and west, not merely in a spirit of Phœnician
commercialism, but also with adventuresome, intellectual curiosity. The
heroes of their earliest traditional literature sailed with them.
Associations half slumbering in the popular consciousness thrilled them
as they steered again over the course of the Argo or as they followed
once more the later track of Odysseus to the west, and in lower Italy
and Sicily reëstablished Great Hellas as an integral part of Hellenic

In this earlier colonization Athens participated only vicariously, but
it was into this larger Hellas that Solon the lawgiver and poet was
born. Fire, brought from the mother cities, was blazing on the hearths
of Greek colonies from the Crimea to Sicily. The Ionians of Asia Minor
had long since joined in the movement of expansion; they were presently
to colonize the site of modern Marseilles; they were already converting
to their own use the distant outposts of the “Tyrian trader.” Athens
meanwhile was slowly developing. Later she would herself be mistress of
the sea.

The Athenians, more than most Greeks, could boast that they were
autochthonous, earth-born children of their own soil. Isocrates in his
“Panegyricus” makes proudly the claim: “We dwell in the land not after
expelling others, nor even finding it a desert, nor even coming as a
mixed breed collected from many nations, but ... sprung from the soil
and able to address our city by the same names as we give to the closest
relations.” The prehistoric Greek invaders of Attica had fused with
rather than driven out the former occupants, the Pelasgians or whoever
they may have been. Erichthonius, Erechtheus, or Poseidon, “one form for
many names,” was born of Earth but mothered on Athena, and it would have
been as futile as it was impious to challenge the pedigree of the
Erechtheidæ. Erechtheus-Poseidon might coil forever undisturbed beneath
the sheltering shield of the Virgin-goddess. Cecrops, too, the mythical
king and Attic hero, owned a perpetual ground-rent on the Acropolis and
the Athenians were Cecropidæ. They were also the “Sons of Hephæstus,”
who was often associated with Athena, a partnership of the heavenly
wisdom with the arts and crafts. An ancient festival of the whole city,
held in honour of Athena, became afterwards specialized among the
artisans, under the name of Chalkeia, in honour of Hephæstus; and the
god may yet win back as his own “Hephæsteum” the so-called “Theseum” on
the hill above the classic market-place.

The age of the heroes merges with that of the Kings. Theseus moves, a
grandiose figure, through art and literature. Thus when the “Hill party”
of Pisistratus became preëminent, Theseus, the aristocrat, came into
prominence in vase painting. He appears in all the forms of didactic
sculpture, and the “City of Theseus,” the older Athens, is recalled
again in the Roman renaissance by the Arch of Hadrian. This still offers
to the modern pilgrim, on the west side facing the Acropolis, the
inscription: “This is the Athens of Theseus, the old city,” and on the
other, facing the Olympieum of Hadrian: “This is the City of Hadrian and
not the City of Theseus.” Thus meet the old and the new, with classic
Athens ignored.

To understand the literature of the sixth century, we must remember that
the ancient citadel town of the prehistoric kings had long since
overflowed into the district at its immediate base, absorbing, as time
went on, various original townships adjacent to the Acropolis. Although
the name of king and some relics of royal authority survived in the
person of the King Archon, yet, unlike the relation of Sparta to Laconia
or Thebes to Bœotia, Athens was not a mere royal centre for the Attic
demesmen. All Attica was Athens. All its free inhabitants, class by
class, became included in the citizenship, albeit the republic was an
aristocracy, first of birth, then of wealth. Solon’s readjustment of the
laws for rich and poor determined the trend towards government by the
people, and even the inevitable tyranny, postponed by Solon, only
served, when it came, to retard the current and to dam up a reservoir of
irresistible democratic consciousness which was to sweep away the
tyrants and to render the Attica of Marathon inaccessible to the
returning despot.

The picture of the old city of Theseus is vague to our imagination, but
the Athens of Solon’s administration emerges somewhat more clearly as we
take away, one after another, some of the prominent features of the
later Athens that we know best. The Acropolis lacked the Propylæa, the
Parthenon, and the Erechtheum, its barrenness being relieved by little
save the “old” temple of Athena Polias. Not only the Dionysiac theatre,
but even its earliest forerunner were things of the future. The drama
was yet unborn. The Market-place of later centuries, adorned with
statues and stoas, was represented by a simpler centre of civic life at
the west end of the Acropolis, where were the public buildings of
administration, the communal winepress of the Lenæum and the old
Callirrhoë spring.

Yet Solon calls Athens a great city, and he was to make it still
greater. Into that early Market-place he came and, if we accept the
picturesque details handed down by tradition, feigning madness in order
to violate with impunity the law forbidding citizens to re-open the
question of conquering Salamis, he cried:—

 “Forward to Salamis, forward, to fight for the isle that we yearn for,
     Thrusting dishonour aside, casting off grievous disgrace.”

The Athenians were aroused. They went with him across the narrow strait,
and Salamis, the “lovely island,” thenceforward was their own, destined
to serve them as refuge in their hour of greatest need. Solon used his
popularity, thus acquired, in no self-seeking way. Chosen archon and
virtual dictator he moulded proletariat and noble to his own noble will.
Again and again his verse reënforces his pedestrian arguments. “The
black earth is enslaved,” he says, and presently the mortgage stones,
dotted over the farms, are mere cancelled records. Many such, of a later
date, have been found. The “Penurious Man” in Theophrastus “inspects his
boundary stones daily to make sure that they are in place.” Solon
proudly appeals to the constituency of the future to justify his laws:—

       “Be witness unto this before the bar of time,
       Thou greatest Mother of the gods Olympian—
       Aye witness best—black Earth, whose mortgage border-stones
       Fixed here and there on every side, I took away,
       And she who erst was slave is set at liberty.”

Again, even more proudly, he says:—

            “I set myself as border stone inscribed betwixt
            Contending factions.”

The citizens, he says, by their folly and their greed would themselves
destroy the city, but Athena, the Watcher, is there upon the hill:—

    “Never by Zeus’s decree nor by will of the blessed immortals
        Ruin shall come to our town, causing our city to fall.
    Never, while yonder that great-hearted Guardian, sired majestic,
        Pallas Athena above stretches her sheltering hands.”

In the Athenian memory as well as in these vigorous elegiacs he embedded
the epithet of “Guardian” (ἐπίσκοπος) that would in after days lend
significance to the great bronze statue, overlooking the city and sea,
and would remain after Macedon had come and gone as a semi-official
title of the goddess.

Legend tells us that Solon in his old age, when the tyranny had now
come, piled his armour in front of his house door—probably near the
Market-place of Pisistratus—and turned from politics to a serene
enjoyment of the pleasures of ear and eye and intellect to which he had,
indeed, never been a stranger. His life had always been consistent with
his own epigram:—

             “And still as I age, learning many a lesson.”

Like many of his countrymen subsequently, he combined active
participation in public affairs with the character of poet and writer.
In literature, as in political life, he had his preferences. Perhaps
nothing more distinctly places him in the old Athens than his
disapprobation of the Tragedy that was born in his later years. He is
said to have taken Thespis to task for the falsehood of the drama. On
the other hand the direct sincerity of lyric poetry accorded with his
manner of thought. From Ælian’s variegated patch-work the story drifts
down to us that to Solon, seated one day over his wine, his nephew sang
one of Sappho’s songs. Solon at once commanded the boy to teach him the
song, and when a bystander asked why he was so eager, he replied: “When
I have learned it, then that I may die!”

To subsequent generations he seemed the embodiment of wisdom over
against excess, and readers of Herodotus who were not troubled by the
chronological difficulties must have especially enjoyed the story of his
interview with Crœsus and his reproof of the rich king for his
exultation in his wealth. The famous apothegm, “One must wait for the
end before praising,” was repeated in one form or another by Simonides,
Æschylus, and Sophocles. Of Solon’s own end a dramatic story is
mentioned by Plutarch, although he refuses to lend it his credence:
“That his ashes, after his body was burned, were scattered about the
island of Salamis is a story absolutely mythical and incredible by
reason of its outlandishness. It stands recorded, however, both by other
noteworthy men and by Aristotle the philosopher.”

After years of varying fortune Pisistratus finally (540 or 539 B. C.)
established himself as Tyrant of Athens. But tyranny at Athens was never
more than an episode. The inbred spirit of freedom must be reckoned
with. Pisistratus respected popular rights, and after the accession of
his sons the suspicion of a tendency to introduce such measures as were
acquiesced in, for example, at Corinth, brought death to the one and
subsequent banishment to the other. But the result of the tyranny of
Pisistratus was beneficent. Under him and his sons the city began to
take on both externally and intellectually more of the characteristics
which are in mind when we think of Athens. Architect, sculptor, and
painter began to contribute enriching details to the Acropolis,
including the first Propylæa. Engineers skilfully brought water from
near and far into the old Market-place, and in front of the town spring
of Callirrhoë Pisistratus built the spacious “Nine Spouts”—the
Enneakrounos—where women filled their water-jars and stayed to gossip.
The newer market-place, to the north of the Areopagus, was developed. A
great Olympieum was begun on the site of the present columns, which date
from Hadrian’s time. Gymnasium life became important and the Academy was
made ready as if in anticipation of its great future. Doubtless within
this lovely grove many a youth of the period might have served as a
model for Aristophanes’s fifth-century picture of palæstra life in the
good old times:—

 “But you will go enter as Academe sprinter and under the olives contend
 With your chaplet of reed, in a contest of speed with some excellent
    rival and friend:
 All fragrant with yew and leisure time too, and the leaf which the white
    poplars fling
 When the plane whispers love to the elm in the grove in the beautiful
    season of spring.”[5]

Footnote 5:

  _Clouds_, 992, translation (modified) by Rogers.

A distinctive part of Pisistratus’s policy was the encouragement of
country life and of agriculture. All over the Attic plain the olive
orchards were cultivated, to become an important source of revenue to
the Athenian state and immeasurably to enhance the charm of its
environment. Herodotus recounts that a tall, handsome woman named Phye,
from the hill country, had impersonated Athena come down in mortal guise
and, riding in a chariot with Pisistratus, had lent divine sanction to
his original _coup d’état_. The Attic demesmen might still more easily
accept this new measure as a command transmitted from Athena who had
herself first created the olive tree and taught its culture on the

           “A heaven-sent grey-gleaming crown for her Athens,
                   Her city of light.”

Aristotle, in his “Constitution of Athens,” lays great stress on the
effort of Pisistratus to develop the prosperity of the farmers. He tells
how Pisistratus, walking in the country and seeing one digging among the
rocks, asked what sort of a crop grew there, and the man, unaware that
it was the Tyrant, replied: “Such a crop of evils and pain that it were
right that Pisistratus should have his tithe of them.” Pisistratus,
pleased both with his industry and his free speech, relieved the farmer
of his burdens. And so, Aristotle continues, he was not troubled during
his reign but could secure peace and quiet and “the word was often on
the lips of many that the tyranny of Pisistratus was a regular life
under Kronos,” or Golden Age.

Pisistratus did much toward securing for Athens the intellectual
hegemony of Greece. Whatever the Panathenæa, inherited from Theseus (or
even from Erichthonius), may have been previously, the Greater
Panathenaic festival was now solemnized every four years with more
magnificence and became at Athens the necessary and dignified offset to
the quadrennial games at Olympia and Delphi. Games, sacrifices, and
amusements of varied character were added from time to time. Horse,
chariot, torch, and foot races were included. Visitors came from abroad.
But neither local nor intercantonal athletics gave the keynote.
Rhapsodists recited Homer, and flute, cithara, and song were heard.
Everything tended to focus itself upon the worship of Athena, who was
the Athenian consciousness glorified and made objective.

Under Pisistratus or his sons (or, less probably, under Solon) Homer was
recalled from Ionia and domiciled on the mainland. Whatever may be the
details about a formal recension and publication at this time,
recitations from Homer were made an integral part of the public
festivals, and Athens became the clearing-house for an intellectual
currency good throughout all Hellas. The name “Pan-Athenian,” passing
even beyond Pan-Ionian, was to be equated with a culture that was
Pan-Hellenic. This befitted the epic breadth transcending mere local
traditions. “The Iliad was not composed for any king or tyrant. If it is
aristocratic, its appeal is not to any given set of noble families, but
to all brave men of Greek legend.” And the spirit in which this epic
trust was administered tallies well with the restraint of Pisistratus in
respecting, as far as possible, the laws of Solon. If there were Attic
interpolations in the poems, they do not glorify his house. In the
“Catalogue of the Ships” the Athenians received honourable but not
excessive mention. The brief reference to the ships from Salamis, as
ranged under the command of the Athenians, would seem to suggest the
recent conquest of the island under Solon or even the suspicion that
Solon had himself interpolated it beforehand as proof of the ancient
suzerainty of Athens:—

  “Twelve ships from Salamis Aias commanded. He brought them and placed
  them there where Athenian squadrons were marshalled.”

But perhaps the easiest solution of all questions in regard to
interpolations in the Homeric poems is to pin our uncritical faith to
the authenticity of Lucian’s interview with Homer in Elysium: “I went up
to Homer the poet, when we were both at leisure, and after making other
inquiries ... I asked him further about the rejected verses, whether
they were written by him. And he declared that he wrote them all!”

The greatest and most characteristically Attic contribution of the sixth
century was the fostering of the drama, in connection with the worship
of Dionysus. This Thracian divinity, on his journey southwards, had been
welcomed in the villages of Attica, where vineyard and winepress awaited
his blessing. The Pisistratidæ, who have been called “the providential
defenders of the faith of Dionysus” against the aristocratic disdain
felt for a peasant’s god, invited him to a new temple in the Lenæa—the
Marshes—below the Acropolis, where, at the time of the winter solstice,
the Feast of the Winepress once more identified the capital with the
country it had outgrown. But Pisistratus went further in establishing
the City Dionysia, a spring festival destined to a long life and
splendid renown. Instead of private performances at rural feasts, the
drama now became part of the official administration of the city. The
first dated performance of a play by Thespis was in 534 B. C. This may
have been on the occasion of the opening of the “orchestra,” north of
the Areopagus, near the new Market-place, where the spectators
henceforth found seats on wooden scaffolding until the more permanent
theatre was erected south of the Acropolis. Athens was now ready for the
great dramatists. The wine-god looms up as a rival to Athena, as may be
seen by his ubiquity on the vase paintings and his dominant presence in
the Attic calendar. “In the actual religious ritual Dionysus became of
more importance at Athens than Zeus, Apollo, or even Athena.”

Thus in diverse ways does Pisistratus present a fair claim for having
made Athens greater, in steady progression from the wise policies of
Solon. Solon himself must often have feared an excess of luxury and
splendour. No one of his generation could have dreamed of a regretful
modern desire to have seen, because of its charming simplicity, “the
little earlier Athens of Pisistratus.” But many a Periclean Greek may
have forestalled it. Aristophanes was forever seeking for a revival of—

                                 “the precepts which taught
 The heroes of old to be hardy and bold, and the men who at Marathon

These were the precepts which taught Æschylus. We are apt to think of
him only in his maturity, a fighter at Marathon, a seasoned warrior at
Salamis, a poet of the post-Persian epoch. But his childhood fell in the
time of the Pisistratidæ, and it is by no means idle to speculate on the
influences which then encompassed him. The memory of Solon’s ethics and
vocabulary he carried with him through life. Foreign poets also,
attracted to Athens by the sons of Pisistratus, must have seemed to him
important personages. Two of the “ten” lyric poets were at this time
identified with the city. Anacreon, when Polycrates, the tyrant of
Samos, had no longer a home to offer him, was brought in triumph to
Athens in a fifty-oared galley sent by Hipparchus. And Simonides of
Ceos, who was to be the chief mouthpiece of liberated Greece, was well
content to enjoy the patronage of the despot.

Footnote 6:

  _Clouds_, 973, translated by Rogers.

Æschylus was fifteen when Hippias was expelled. Hipparchus had been
assassinated earlier, at one of the celebrations of the Panathenæa, by
Harmodius and Aristogeiton, but their failure to dispose of both tyrants
at one blow had caused them to be ignominiously put to death and their
memory ignored. Now, in the new enthusiasm for freedom, they were hailed
as liberators of their city. Their memory became a cult. Their statues
were set up by the Agora, and the boy Æschylus, as each anniversary of
their deed came around and the Panathenaic procession wound up to the
Acropolis, must have been fired by the thought of them. At twenty-five
he may have lustily joined in the new drinking song which, commemorating
their deed, took the town by storm. It continued to be sung for
centuries. To Aristophanes it was a hackneyed classic and part of his
comic stock in trade.

             “In a wreath of myrtle I’ll wear my glaive,
             Like Harmodius and Aristogeiton brave,
             When the twain on Athena’s day
             Did the tyrant Hipparchus slay.

             “For aye shall your fame in the land be told,
             Harmodius and Aristogeiton bold,
             Who, striking the tyrant down,
             Made Athens a freeman’s town.”[7]

Footnote 7:

  Callistratus, translated by Conington. For the complete song see
  Symonds, “Greek Poets,” chap. x.

With the victory at Marathon Athens came of age. The struggle between
Orientalism and Hellenism was just begun. Salamis and Platæa and
Eurymedon were yet to be. But the Greeks with a divine improvidence
discounted their ultimate success. Their twenty years of democratic
education made impossible any compromise with despotism. Whatever
necessary vagueness may still have existed at Athens in the attempted
fusion of polytheistic tradition with the awakening conception of
monotheism, there now stands forth in a law-abiding conscience the
barrier of Law, clear and bold as the outline of Pentelicus above
Marathon. The contemporary Athenian feeling is reflected by Æschylus in
the answer of the old Persian men to Darius’s widowed queen, who has
asked about the Greeks:—


      “‘And who’s their herdsman? Who the people’s overlord?’


      ‘There’s no man’s name they bear as slaves and underlings.’”

At this time another country god was naturalized at Athens, a friend and
comrade of Dionysus in secret mountain places, but not intruding upon
him in the formalities of city worship. Pan had helped the Athenians at
Marathon and had stopped the swift courier Pheidippides, sent to hurry
reënforcements from Sparta, and bidden him ask his people “why they made
no account of him, although he had been useful to them many times
already and would be again.” The Athenians at once “dedicated a
sanctuary to Pan under the brow of the Acropolis and in consequence of
this message they propitiated him by yearly sacrifices and a torch
race.” His cave at the northwest end of the Acropolis still exists to
convince the sceptic. He lived on here, overlooking the Areopagus and
Agora, to come forth, “horned, panpipe in hand, with his shaggy legs,”
and greet the lady Justice sent by Zeus to investigate the charlatan
philosophers of Athens in Lucian’s day. Pan gives Justice a fluent
account of their frailties and is about to add certain details, when her
sense of propriety cuts him short. “If I must,” says he, “tell the truth
in full, without holding anything back—for I live, as you see, where I
can take a bird’s-eye view—many’s the time I’ve seen scores of them,
well along towards evening—” (_Justice_) “Stop there, Pan!”

While Pan was accumulating details of the “Private Life of the
Athenians,” as they passed and repassed before his grotto, the public
energy of the city was transmuted into enduring memorials above him on
the calm heights of the Acropolis.

                               CHAPTER IV
                        THE ACROPOLIS OF ATHENS

    “All this pursuit of the arts has this function, even a recall
    of the noblest in the soul to a vision of the most excellent in
    the ideal.”

                                                  PLATO, _Republic_.

To speak of the Acropolis of Athens with due Hellenic restraint is
difficult for any one who has lived long under its habitual sway. At the
first visit three sets of impressions break down the most obdurate
impassiveness. The associations acquired by a study of history engender
a vicarious but active sympathy with the Greeks themselves. There is an
immediate impact of beauty from marble gateway and temples and sculpture
which the procession of years has only incorporated more intimately with
the beauty of sea and land and circumambient air. And, finally, there is
the involuntary sense of coming back to one’s own—to an intellectual
birthright. Even the Turkish conquerors did not fail to recognize that
all western civilizations consider the Acropolis an integral part of
their joint heritage. Dr. Howe quotes from an intercepted letter of
Kiutahi Pashaw, the opponent of the Greek patriot, Karaiskakis, in 1826:
“The citadel of Athens, as is known to you, was built of old on a high
and inaccessible rock; not to be injured by a mine nor accessible to
assault.... From it went out of yore many famous philosophers; it has
many works of art very old, which make the learned men of Europe wonder;
and for this reason all the Europeans and the other nations of
unbelievers regard the citadel as their own house.”


  From a French painting

The attitude of the ancient Greeks toward the Acropolis is only casually
expressed in their extant literature. No Greek Victor Hugo has given to
men distant in place and time as vivid a picture of the Parthenon as we
possess of Notre Dame. In trying to imagine what the Greeks saw, as they
came up to their citadel, we must first differentiate between the main
historical epochs. Of the Acropolis in the earliest age we can form a
partial conception. The impressive remains of polygonal masonry still
extant, in the massive citadel walls; the traces of the old “Kings’
City” around the Erechtheum, and even within the groundplan of the old
Athena temple; the remains of the ancient stairway, northeast of the
Erechtheum, leading to the postern gate—all fit in with and fill out a
reconstruction based on our conception of other ancient strongholds,
like Mycenæ or Tiryns.

When we think of the citadel in the age of Pisistratus and the time
previous to the Persian Wars we are fairly sure of the main
characteristics. We can picture the old Athena temple, simple yet
dignified, in the middle of the plateau, adorned with coloured
sculptures (some of which may be seen in the Museum to-day), sacred
shrines, precincts and altars with a wealth of dedicatory offerings, and
also the older Propylæa let in between the massive “Pelasgic” walls and
approached by a way that wound down through a complex of outworks to
meet the old Agora.

This Acropolis, far simpler than the Periclean citadel but beautiful and
adorned, was devastated by the Persians. Then for more than a quarter of
a century after Salamis we must imagine it as scarred and patched, with
perhaps only one temple, half restored, to house the sacred image within
its blackened walls.

In general, when we speak of the Acropolis, it is of the citadel as it
appeared towards the close of the fifth century to Sophocles and
Euripides and Aristophanes, to Thucydides and Xenophon, to Isocrates and
Lysias, to Socrates and Plato. This citadel we can restore to our
imagination from the descriptions of Pausanias (controlled by
information from other sources) who, in spite of erratic omissions,
fortunately describes many things with a fulness of detail quite foreign
to the writers of the classical period.

When Socrates, too robust at seventy to know the fatigue of the ascent,
climbed the approach to the hill he must often have been inspired by the
beauty of art, as he had been by the beauty of nature on the banks of
the Ilissus, to renew the prayer: “Dear Pan, and ye other gods, make me
beautiful in the inward man.” Born into a generation and among a people
where external and physical beauty was assumed as corollary to the
beauty of the ideal, there escapes him, thus incidentally, the echo of
his self-conquest over his own Silenus-like exterior, so out of keeping
with the charm of his environment. Perhaps he went up the hill the
evening before his trial to take a last look at what he had loved long
and well. He knew in advance that his “apology” to the court was to be a
reassertion of individual liberty of conscience that would most probably
result for him in the hemlock draught. The majestic columns of the great
gateways rose before him on either side, the wings extended like
welcoming arms. He would turn to the left and stand in the picture
gallery. Perhaps he would pause longest before Alcibiades, his
pernicious disciple, pictured in arrogant beauty as victor at the Nemean
games. Turning to the other side of the gateway, he would stand on the
bastion before the Nike temple and would look out over the familiar
city, the Attic plain and harbour-town. As he passed on now to enter the
gateway, and his eye fell upon the sculptured Hermes and the Graces,
little would he dream of the perplexed debate of modern critics as to a
possible connection of this group with the handiwork of a young sculptor
or stone-cutter, “Socrates the son of Sophroniscus.”

Under or just within the Propylæa he would note various familiar
objects, and when he had passed through he would see before him to the
right and left the Parthenon and the Erechtheum. The intervening space
would not be as it is now a floe of marble blocks. Two orderly avenues
of votive offerings traversed the plateau before him. Against a column
of the Propylæa still stands an inscribed basis of a statue dedicated to
Athena, the Giver of Health, set up by Pericles in gratitude for the
recovery of one of his injured workmen, one perhaps whose skill he could
ill spare in the completion of his large designs. Close by, a marble
boy, made by a son or disciple of the great Myron, held out a bowl of
holy water as at the entrance of a cathedral. Socrates, whose reverence
exceeded that of all his accusers, would not scorn this symbol of
purification, least of all when about to journey away, as he expressed
it, from Athens to another life. Before him towered up the bronze
Athena, the warrior goddess, whose gleaming helmet could be seen by
homeward voyagers as soon as they had passed the intercepting shoulder
and foot-hills of Hymettus. Near by was the Lemnian Athena, goddess of
the arts of peace, held by the Greeks themselves as more beautiful even
than the great gold-ivory statue within the Parthenon. The three
embodied the conceptions of Phidias, as in a trilogy. Near by was a
portrait-herm of Pericles himself. There, too, was the “wooden horse,” a
colossal bronze, with the Greeks (not forgetting the sons of Theseus)
peeping out from its side. And when, passing along this Panathenaic
road, lined with statues and votive offerings, he had threaded his way
around to the east front of the Parthenon, he would enter between the
columns, and in the cool twilight, lit by the gleam of gold and ivory,
he would look up to the Victory on the extended hand of Athena. Perhaps
for a moment the goddess may have lifted the veil of the future to
reveal that the defeat of the morrow would be a victory of far greater
import than even that of Marathon or Salamis.

To-day the visitor, as he goes up to the Acropolis, carries with him the
accumulated associations of centuries. On the bastion of the Temple of
Victory, unsurpassed in its miniature charm, he watches with Ægeus for
Theseus returning in triumph from slaying the Minotaur. At the sight of
the black sail, left unfurled by inadvertence, the old king plunged from
the rock to his death. Ægeus and the other kings passed away and other
men from this rock watched fleets hostile and friendly come and go in
yonder bay and enemies scour the surrounding plain of Attica. Byron,
finally, brooded here over a renascent Hellas.

If any work of man’s hands can purge the mind of the commonplace, it is
the Propylæa, imposing in its grand proportions, yet enticing by its
beauty. Through this the pilgrim now passes and is alone with Greek
life. Although the plateau is deserted, the temple in ruins, there is no
sense of death. There is rather a sudden sense of Beauty set free from
the trammels of daily life. The fortunate isolation of the hilltop
contributes to this effect. Byzantine makeshifts, Turkish hovels and
minarets, have all been swept away—even the intruding Roman is left
outside with the disfiguring pedestal of Agrippa’s statue. The
foreground of the modern city is sunk out of sight behind the rim of the
plateau. There is to be seen on all sides only the same Attic plain, the
same Ægean sea, and the same horizon of mountains, which the eyes of
kings and democrats, artists, orators and philosophers have looked upon
in days gone by.

In this harmony of surroundings, the eye and thought rest undisturbed
upon the Parthenon. The tributes of the centuries have probably left the
visitor unprepared for his own emotion. Like a wind on the mountain,
felling the strong oak trees, the heavenly Eros, Plato’s Love of Beauty,
descends upon him. Bayard Taylor’s first impressions, in spite of an
enthusiasm permissible fifty years ago but now well-nigh out of print,
are worth recalling for the sake of a figure evoked by the appalling
ruin of beauty. Beyond a sea “of hewn and sculptured marble, drums of
pillars, pedestals, capitals, cornices, friezes, triglyphs and sunken
panel-work,” he saw the Parthenon against the sky, and it seemed to him
as if it lay “broken down to the earth in the middle like a ship which
has struck and parted, with the roof, cornices and friezes mostly gone
and not a single column unmutilated, and yet with the tawny gold of two
thousand years staining its once spotless marble, sparkling with
snow-white marks of shot and shell, and with its soaring pillars
embedded in the dark blue ether.”

But since Morosini’s sacrilegious bomb did its work the generations have
refused to accept as the ultimate fact the shipwreck of this temple in
which culminated the plastic arts of ancient Greece and in which were
typified her loftiest ideas. Poet and philosopher have sat before it in
fruitful meditation, and commoners have paced its great colonnades,
unregardful of the ways and marts of men amid the austere majesty and
royal repose of the Doric pillars.

From the imperious beauty of the Parthenon the eye turns gratefully to
the lovely Erechtheum. Although this is but a torso of the architect’s
design and its complex structure defies preconceived conventions, its
Ionic charm satisfies in each detail. The eastern columns, the Porch of
the Maidens, the exquisite tracery of the doorway set within the
perfectly proportioned northern porch present a series rather than a
unity of graceful designs.

The other remnants—fragmentary and broken—of the vanished life upon this
hill must be identified with pious care. Then the thought turns to such
references in literature as have been transmitted to us. These also are
fragmentary, seeming sometimes like the patches of blue and red and gold
not yet wholly effaced from the marbles.

The Iliad, as we know it, preserves an Athenian tradition of the
prehistoric kingly Acropolis. Among the warriors bound for Troy are

  “They that had Athens, the citadel goodly, the holding of great-heart
  Erechtheus to whom on a time, as fostering nurse, was Zeus’s daughter,
  Athena (though the seed-land, giver of grain, was the mother who bore
  him), and at Athens she made him to dwell, in her own habitation of
  plenty. There the Athenian youths with bulls and with rams do him
  honour, year after year in the seasons returning.”

And here under the Greek heaven, on this hill left lonely by men but
easily accessible to gods, it would hardly seem incredible if Athena
herself were suddenly to appear once more. In the Odyssey, when she had
ventured to leave Odysseus to his own cunning among the Phæacians, she
returned by a course, strangely devious for an air line, by way of
Marathon to Athens:—

  “Then with these words the bright-eyed Athena departed over the
  harvestless seas and behind her left Scheria lovely. She came unto
  Marathon then and the wide-wayed Athenian city, and entered the
  massive-built house of Erechtheus.”

As we look upon the meagre traces of the prehistoric city, we should
like to see the princess maidens appear in the simplicity of the kingly
times. Like the women described by Pherecrates, the comic poet, they had
no slaves:—

   “No one then possessed a Sambo, no one had a maid-slave then,
   Every bit of household labour must the girls themselves perform.”

Herodotus tells us how they used to go down and out from the protecting
gateways, to draw water at Callirrhoë beyond the Agora, and how the
rough Pelasgians, banished from this their ancient home, would now and
again rush down from Hymettus to carry them off.

The old Erechtheus worship, the snake, the ancient image of Athena, and
the allied precincts, lost none of their sanctity as time went on. From
Herodotus we learn that Themistocles was materially aided before
Salamis, in persuading the Athenians to abandon the city, by the sudden
disappearance of the sacred snake. “The Athenians,” he gravely reports,
“say that a large snake dwells in the sacred precinct as guardian of the
Acropolis. And they not only say this but they make offerings to him
month by month, setting them out for him as actually there. These
consist of a honey-cake. Now this honey-cake, although heretofore it had
always been consumed, remained at this time untasted, so the Athenians,
when the priestess reported the fact, made the more eager haste to leave
the city, on the ground that the goddess had abandoned her citadel.” The
sacred olive tree, however, which Xerxes had burned with the rest of the
precinct, put forth the very next day a new shoot one cubit long. By the
time of Pausanias the guide said “two” cubits. But the essential point
is the continued care of the goddess, and as for the snake, he soon
resumed his dwelling on the Acropolis. In the “Lysistrata” of
Aristophanes, the women who have seized and barricaded the Acropolis
make excuses for leaving, complaining that they cannot sleep, one on
account of the hooting of Athena’s owls, another by reason of her

       “Since I clapped eyes upon the snake that dwelleth there.”

When in the “Eumenides” of Æschylus the scene shifts from Delphi to the
Acropolis, we find Orestes seated as suppliant before Athena’s most
ancient image. This we may think of, in default of any other temple then
existing, as placed in the old Hecatompedon, whose foundations are seen
adjoining the Erechtheum on the south. This temple, burned by the
Persians, but partially restored, may have been in use even after the
Parthenon was dedicated in 438 B. C., twenty years after this play was
brought out, and perhaps until the completion many years later of the
Athena Polias chamber in the Erechtheum. An Athenian could not well
conceive of his city as safe without this ancient statue; even the birds
in their new Cloud-cuckoo-town must needs debate whether they shall not
keep Athena Polias as their protector.

No Roman Catholic ever accepted more loyally the established glory of
St. Peter’s and the Vatican than the Athenians accepted their citadel.
The new gateways were spoken of with undisguised pride. A comic poet,
Phœnicides of neighbouring Megara, when ridiculing Athens, incidentally
admits that the Athenians cared as much for their Propylæa as their
palates. He says:—

        “Of myrtle berries and their honey, too, they talk,
        And praise their Propylæa. Last, not least, dried figs.
        I sailed and forthwith had a taste of all of these,
        Including Propylæa! Not one single thing
        Upon this bill of fare could ever match our grouse!”

In one of the anonymous fragments, those riderless Pegasi of Greek
literature, another comic poet combines the Piræus and the Parthenon in
an outburst of civic pride. Nor does he forget the olive groves and
radiant air:—

          “Mistress of all, Queen City of Athenians,
          How fair thy docks, how fair to view thy Parthenon!
          And thy Piræus, too, is fair. And then again
          What other city ever yet had groves like thine?
          And, as they say, the very sky, thy sky, is fair.”

And Demosthenes, not deterred by any shrinking from hackneyed allusion,
refers expressly to the Propylæa and the Parthenon, when he speaks of
“those things upon which we all naturally pride ourselves.”
Aristophanes, seeking to recall his fellow-citizens to the ideals of
Marathon days, shows us in his “Knights” the Propylæa and the freshly
boiled-over and rejuvenated Demos,—the avatar of true Democracy,—seated
within the unclosing doors of the gateway, dressed in the brilliant garb
of a gentleman of the good old Marathon type: “Just such as he used to
be when he messed with Aristides and Miltiades,” his hair caught up with
the golden cicada pin, emblem of Attic autochthony.

In the “Lysistrata” the Athenian men, ignorant that at a future day
their Parliament was to be controlled by suffragettes, feel that the
limit of the legitimate boycott is over-passed when the women seize and
barricade their Acropolis. The old chorus leader says:—

  “In life’s long stretch of time, are many things unlooked for—Woe is
  me! For who had ever thought to hear that women whom we keep (a
  mischief manifest) should get Athena’s sacred image in their hands;
  should seize my citadel; the Propylæa barricade with bolts and bars?”

In this play, too, we catch a glimpse of the more intimate interweaving
of an Athenian maiden’s life with the Acropolis ritual. One of this same
_sans-culotte_ garrison looks about her and reviews her girlhood; how
she had been selected among the best-born girls to carry the mysterious
burden in the Arrephoria, had ground the meal for the sacred cakes for
Athena Archegetis; had impersonated a bear in the worship of Artemis;
and, finally, had gained the coveted privilege of being basket-bearer in
the Panathenaic procession. Explaining her personal gratitude to the
city, the woman says:—

             “When seven years old an Arrephoros I;
               And when I was ten
             I ground the meal for our Lady-on-High;
               In my next rôle then
             I figured as Bear in Brauronian show,
               And the saffron wore;
             Then as full-grown maid—quite pretty you know—
               The Basket I bore.”

The barren precinct of Artemis Brauronia adjoins the south corner of the
Propylæa, and a small dedicatory bear, found somewhere near, now sits in
the Acropolis Museum, brooding in stony silence over by-gone glories at
the Brauronia. But the maiden with the saffron robe and all her girl
companions have long since disappeared “down the back entry of time.”

If it could be granted us to have restored one portion of the Parthenon
or its appurtenances, our choice would probably fall, not upon the
famous gold-ivory statue of Athena, but first upon the pediment
sculptures; next, it may be, upon the great continuous frieze. If its
shattered fragments could be restored, and the slabs now in Paris and
London could be recalled from exile and united to those still in place,
it would be an easier task for the imagination to reconstruct from these
than from the piecemeal references in the literature an abridged
idealization of the glory of the actual Panathenaic procession. As it
is, from what is left still in place there emerges something far more
significant than the details of any cult or festival. The dismounted
youth adjusting his sandal; the horse with leisurely nose bent to his
fore-leg; the mounted horsemen; the rams and oxen led to the sacrifice,
remain, like Keats’s “heifer lowing at the skies,” to tell the hurrying
generations that once, at least, there has existed, and may exist again,
wherever men are strong to feel and know, the harmony between the
temporal and the eternal.

The Parthenon remained practically intact for centuries, lending its
inspiration both to the creative Greeks and to the imagination of the
Romans, the executors of the Hellenic realty. Even the chryselephantine
Athena seems to have held undisturbed possession of her temple for more
than eight centuries, from the dedication in 438 B. C. to about 430 A.
D., when it disappears from Athenian records.

Plutarch, a Greek gentleman of the first Christian century, speaks with
enthusiasm of the creations of Pericles. “There blooms upon them a
certain freshness untouched by time, as if there dwelt within them an
ever-animating spirit, a life that never grows old.” In the next
century, under the successors of Hadrian, who had inaugurated a new era
for Athens, Pausanias, a foreigner, came and saw and was conquered by
the wealth of detail on the Acropolis. At the same time, that generous
citizen from Marathon, Herodes Atticus, was building against the side of
the Acropolis his gorgeous Italian opera-house, while Lucian, the Syrian
Atticist, with a higher, if impossible, ideal, was striving to revive
the old Platonic grace by quarrying from the Pentelicus of classic
literature. When, in the rôle of a “Truthful James,” he is acquitted of
blasphemy against true philosophy, he enters the east door of the
Parthenon to make thanksgiving to the goddess, or, more specifically, to
the winged Victory, six feet high, upon her hand. His devotion takes the
form of the prayer appended to three of Euripides’s dramas:—

               “O majestical Victory, shelter my life
               Neath thy covert of wings.
               Aye, cease not to grant me thy crowning.”

Thus, like many another later foreigner, he pays the time-honoured
tribute to the outward embodiment of the ideal.


The charm of the Acropolis changes with the changing light. See it, if
you will, at dawn from the opposite hillside, near the “Prison of
Socrates,” as the sun rises over Hymettus and the Pentelic columns of
the Parthenon change from the gray of unsympathetic silhouettes to the
luminous chromes of the irradiated marbles. See it at a later hour and
wonder that it does not fade into the light of common day. Or visit it
when the sunset light turns to burnished copper the unadorned hills in
the west, beyond Salamis, and on the choir of the encircling mountains
the supramundane charm of the violet atmosphere falls like a robe with
empurpling shadows in its folds. Go when the night has fallen, and sit
in the mysterious darkness, lit only by the marble columns white against
the dark outlines of Hymettus, until the full moon looks over the
mountain’s rim, tipping architrave and capital with silver, and then, as
it swings free from Hymettus, merging the wreck of the Parthenon in the
beauty of the landscape to which the scarred and yawning sides of the
temple seem to open with intent. Presently the whole hill-top with its
moraine of prostrate columns and marble fragments is lit up and the
pillars of the Propylæa flower into whiteness. Or finally, bizarre as it
may sound, see it when—artificially illuminated after the Olympic
Games—the ruined temple and the serrated contour of the plateau are
etched in mid-air by the white light against a gulf of darkness, a
veritable city of the skies.

The Acropolis, crowned with perfect art, crowded with the loftier
phantoms of our elder kin, is a light-house for all time. Liberty and
Law are its keepers. “Knowledge comes but Wisdom lingers,” and this
citadel is to every thoughtful man in some sense a symbol of his goal.
Its stately Propylæa welcomes all. No sincere pilgrim of Truth is an
alien in the long Pancosmic procession of statesman and scientist,
inventor and poet, artisan and artist that winds up the steep ascent to
lay an ever freshly woven peplus at the feet of Wisdom.

                               CHAPTER V

    “Know that our city has the greatest name amongst all men
    because she never yields to her misfortunes. And even should we
    ever be compelled to yield a little—for it is nature’s way that
    all things bloom to suffer loss—there will abide a memory that
    we made our dwelling-place to be a city dowered with all things,
    and the mightiest of all.”

                  THUCYDIDES, _Oration of Pericles in the Assembly_.

After the battles of Salamis and Platæa the Athenians brought back their
families to Attica. Athens was a scene of desolation: the walls
destroyed, the dwelling-houses ruined heaps, the sanctuaries burnt, the
statues and other dedicatory offerings broken or carried off by the
Persians. But the invaders had not carried off Athena Nike. Æschylus
puts his own triumphant feeling into the mouth of the Persian messenger
who brings the news of the defeat of Xerxes to Queen Atossa:—

          “The city of the goddess Pallas gods preserve.


          What say’st? The city? Athens? Is it still unsacked?


          Yes, in its living men its bulwark stands secure.”

Euripides, also, reëchoes this word of Æschylus and denies the sack of
Athens. As a matter of fact little remained save a few houses used as
Persian headquarters. But the blackened walls of the old temple on the
Acropolis still stood in grim protest against the violation of the
Virgin’s home and as an appeal to the citizens to provide her with a
fairer abode. The appeal was not disregarded. In the fifth century the
city was extended and the Acropolis was adorned with monuments of
sculpture and architecture. The gods and the public needs came first.
Private dwellings in the fifth century were not imposing. The old
Marathon fighters and their immediate descendants were content with
private simplicity. In the fourth century, however, private luxury came
uppermost. Demosthenes contrasts the unequalled splendour of the
temples, statues and public buildings of the old time with the
moderation in private life, which, he says, was so marked “that if any
of you perchance knows what sort of a house was the dwelling of
Aristides or Miltiades or any of those then eminent, he sees that it was
no whit more stately than those next door—while to-day upstarts have
built themselves private houses more stately than the public buildings.”

Systematically to discuss the fifth and fourth century references to
specific sites—buildings public and private, stoas, temples, theatres,
gymnasia, music-halls, courtrooms, sanctuaries and statues, walls and
gates, the place of the Assembly, the market-place and the markets,
fountains, streets, and wards, would require several volumes. And
although it is possible to present by inference a reasonably clear
picture of the environment and daily life of the citizens, yet the exact
identification of the majority of the sites in the remains existing
to-day is either impossible or a matter of conjecture. Apart from the
Acropolis buildings but few conspicuous ruins or memorials of these two
great centuries are left for actual inspection. The continuous
occupation of Athens by successive generations of changing masters has
obliterated or buried (perhaps for future identification) the greater
part of the city that lay around the base of the Acropolis. It is only
surprising that so much remains. It is not meagre except in comparison
with what has disappeared.

Around or over all that is left of Classic, Hellenistic, or Roman Athens
is the modern city, effacing itself in patches at the behest of the
archæologist, or developing slowly in accordance with its own needs.

In this chapter, however, we have to do directly only with the Athens of
the fifth or fourth centuries. If the physical remains from this period
are fragmentary, the literature, although itself but fragments of the
whole, is the great bulk of existing classic Greek literature outside of
the epic, the earlier philosophers, and the lyric. And this _corpus_ of
literature was in large part native Attic. At the same time the talent
from without gravitated also to Athens. Herodotus from the Dorian
Halicarnassus not only wrote in Ionic, but adopted the Athenian attitude
so largely as to vitiate in part his value as an independent historian.
Hippocrates, the great Ionian physician, visited Athens. The Sophists,
though coming from the North, the West, or the islands, found in Athens
the appropriate environment for a “circuit” faculty of an unarticulated
federal university. Prose, seasoned and adorned, became henceforth an
asset of the Athenian intellect and was made ready for the use of
historian, orator, and philosopher. Athens, mistress of the seas, and
herself producer of art and literature, needed no protective tariff
against intellectual imports.

This very wealth of fifth and fourth century literature imposes
limitations, more rigid than our uncertainty about this, that, or the
other site, upon the effort to interpret the external Athens from the
more enduring monuments of her thinkers. Nor is it true that the nexus
between Athens and her literature may be made clear only by definite
localization. We do not wish the conditions reversed. Although, for
example, the courtrooms and the Lyceum have disappeared, we may, as we
wander about Athens to-day, come much nearer the Greeks of the classic
age than if, while the buildings had remained intact, the words of the
orators and of the great Peripatetic could no longer reach our ears. The
so-called “Theseum,” largely perfect as it is and invaluable for
architectural and artistic suggestion, leaves us cold in the lack of
literary association as compared with the Propylæa where many an
old-time Athenian rubs elbows with us as we pass in and out between its
stately columns. But in a wider sense we may “localize,” here on this
Attic plain around the Acropolis and here under this Attic sky, the
poetry and prose of the fifth and fourth centuries.

A brief summary of this poetry and prose will perhaps suggest more
clearly the larger pattern from which, almost arbitrarily, selections
may be made.

In the fifth century, lyric was brought to its perfection by singers not
of Athens. But Ceos, the birthplace of two of them, was moored close to
Attica. Simonides, the poet-laureate of the Persian wars, was much in
Athens, and his nephew Bacchylides took the Attic Theseus for the theme
of two of his extant poems, wrote one of his epinician odes in honour of
an Athenian victor, and composed another poem expressly in laudation of
Athens. Pindar himself studied in Athens, and afterwards, to his own
townspeople’s disgust, praised her in no grudging terms. The Athenian
drama itself, in the chorals of tragedy and of Aristophanes, contributed
much of the greatest lyric extant in Greek literature.

Tragedy in the fifth century grew from infancy to maturity at Athens.
When Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides had completed their work it had
received its final form for the Greeks, and was so transmitted to the
great actors and the lesser playwrights of the fourth century.

Comedy likewise culminated with Aristophanes in the fifth century. More
flexible than tragedy, however, it could humour successfully the
changing moods of the body politic and retain its vigour through the
whole of the fourth century. Even under Macedon, Menander in the New
Comedy could recast much that Euripides had tried, with varying success,
to embody within the canonized limits of orthodox tragedy.

History was the gift of the fifth century. Herodotus after the Persian
wars bridged with his epic prose the Ægean, and we reach _terra firma_
in Thucydides’s history in the latter part of the century. In the first
part of the fourth century we have Xenophon, the historian, biographer,
essay-writer, and historical novelist. These were precursors of a line
of historians appearing sporadically even down through Byzantine times.

Oratory, an inalienable inheritance of the Hellene even before Athena
coached the crafty Odysseus, received at Athens a certain finality of
form, or forms, that has imposed its influence upon the occidental,
whether Roman or Englishman, lawyer or epideictic speaker. The unwritten
word of statesmen like Pericles, fusing the persuasion of the politician
with the keener rationalism of Anaxagoras and the raucous, but not
wholly unpatriotic, opportunism of demagogues like Cleon or Hyperbolus,
was paired with the more decently draped pragmatism of the Sophists, and
resulted in the selected group of the “ten” orators, of the fifth and
fourth centuries. There was the somewhat archaic Antiphon, the dignified
criminal lawyer; Andocides, who brought his rough and ready style to
bear upon burning questions of contemporary politics; Lysias, the son of
an alien, but truly Attic, the younger friend of Socrates, the lucid
narrator, the relentless prosecutor; Isæus, the capable testamentary
barrister; Isocrates, who both saw the building of the Erechtheum and
outlived the battle of Chæronea, and whose over-finished oratory
transmitted the florid adornment of Gorgias to the schools in which
Cicero was trained; Demosthenes, greatest of all, whether in private
suits or in his arraignment of public foes, whose terrorizing cleverness
was quick to strike or counter like the flashing arms of the athlete
impeded with no ounce of florid superfluity; Æschines, his great
antagonist; Lycurgus; Hyperides; and Dinarchus.

Philosophy as a native Attic product matured last of all. Ionia had
produced the great “physical” philosophers, and Pythagoras had gone in
the sixth century to Italy; but in the first half of the fifth century
the so-called “colonial” philosophers, like the foreign Sophists,
influenced Athenian thought—some of them by personal visits. They came
from the East and from the West. Parmenides came from Italy, and his
influence was felt by Socrates and transmitted to Plato and Aristotle.
The aristocratic Empedocles came on a visit from Sicily. Anaxagoras from
Ionia settled at Athens in his youth. His “chaos-controlling mind”—the
primal force of reason—impregnated the statesmanship of Pericles and
engendered the rationalism of Euripides. The Athenians might banish the
philosopher, but his “primal force of reason” was already busy in
rearranging the chaos of traditional beliefs. It emerges clearly in
Plato as intelligent Mind. Socrates, though not himself a writer, is the
central figure of philosophic literature. Pre-Socratic thought focussed
in him as in a burning-glass. From him shoot out the divergent rays of
the Academics and Peripatetics, the Cynics and the precursors of the
Epicureans, Stoics, and Skeptics. No one of his disciples reproduced his
views with any exactness, but he stimulated self-examination and
independent thought. Each took from him what he could or would, and
developed differing or mutually exclusive schools. Like the rivers of
Greece, coursing for a time through the underground “katavothras,”
pre-Socratic speculative thought on physics and metaphysics flowed on
beneath the open devotion of Socrates to ethical questions, and
reappears in his successors.

Plato in the fourth century constituted himself the ethical and
philosophic executor of Socrates. Loyalty and a wide vision alike
combined to perpetuate his master’s name in the intellectual output of
the great Platonic dialogues. It has been the work of centuries to
disentangle the real views of this sleeping partner from those of
Plato’s own constructive intellect, which built, pulled down, and reared
anew the dwelling-places for the minds of many men in many generations.

Aristotle, like Anaxagoras, came as an alien and settled in Athens in
his youth. After the death of his master, Plato, he left Athens,
travelled, and became the tutor of Alexander. After the accession of his
royal pupil to the throne, he established at Athens in the Lyceum a
rival school to the Academy.

Antisthenes, half Athenian, half Thracian, the faithful follower of
Socrates, had before this established the Cynic school in another
gymnasium, the Cynosarges, where the victors fresh from Marathon had
encamped. Socrates, the barefoot friar, the new avatar of Heracles, was
his patron saint. Later in the century Zeno the Stoic set up his
eclectic school in the Painted Porch of the Agora, and Epicurus, of an
Attic father though born at Samos, established his school in his own
Gardens near the Dipylon.

Theophrastus, the friend of Epicurus and of Menander, gives us in his
“Characters,” at the close of this period, vivid portraits of Athenian
life which supplement the fragments of Menander and the other writers of
the New Comedy, and also, as pupil and successor of Aristotle, carried
on his master’s teachings in the Lyceum. Thus one pupil busied himself
in transmitting through his intellectual heirs the esoteric thought of
his master, while Alexander, another pupil, had constructed on lines
that paralleled the intellectual imperialism of his teacher a material
_organon_ of Empire (utterly at variance with his master’s conception of
the ideal state) that no successor could wield alone until Rome reached
forth and grasped it in her iron hand.

But to understand at all the meaning of the literature, it is also
necessary to remind ourselves of some of the more striking features of
the history of these two centuries. They are crowded with conspicuous
figures and with events significant to the philosophic student of
political institutions.

In general the fifth century exhibits the rise and downfall of the
imperialistic policy, the fourth century the rehabilitation of a
chastened democracy, with sporadic echoes of a federalizing ideal. But
no one policy can be predicated of the fifth century. It varied with the
great leaders, Themistocles, Cimon, Pericles, and others—the old in
conflict with the new; conservative, aristocratic democracy against
imperialism; democracy against oligarchy; ochlocracy against democracy.
When the Persian peril was thrust back, the irrepressible conflict
between Sparta and Athens emerged. The struggle for the hegemony between
them, or between varying combinations of the Greek states, was to
continue at intervals until the time when all the old powers of Greece
were to succumb to Macedon.

Themistocles, the hero of Salamis, was ostracized from Athens within
eight years of the great sea-fight, but his spirit still animated his
countrymen, and his policies were afterwards revived or expanded. His
rival Aristides guided affairs at home, and Cimon, the son of Miltiades,
sailed with the conquering Athenian navy. His victory at Eurymedon in
468 B. C. made it possible to fortify Athens and Piræus and to merge the
Confederacy of Delos in the Athenian Empire. In seven years more Cimon
in turn was ostracized, but at the end of another seven years the rich
treasure of Delos could be transferred to Athens and the empire formally
established. It was to last until the disaster at Ægospotami, in 405 B.
C. Pericles, after successfully competing with the reactionary
patriotism of statesmen like Thucydides, obtained, at the ostracism of
the latter in 442 B. C., the controlling power at Athens, which he
guided by his regal persuasion for the next fifteen years. The
imperialism of Pericles realized the policy of Themistocles on the seas,
reaped the harvest of the great Cimon’s victories, and transmuted the
treasure of Delos into the sinews of war and the monuments of the
glorified Acropolis. He reshaped the civic life, even curtailing the
sacred powers of the Areopagus, and by popular changes in the complexion
of Council, Assembly, and Law Courts, prepared the way for the uneven
rule of demagogues after his own strong hand should be withdrawn. He had
great odds to contend with. After the renewal of the Peloponnesian wars
in 431 B. C., with the succession of victories and reverses, the Great
Plague came to assert an unlooked-for hegemony. On the suffering and
disasters of the city followed the trial and condemnation of Pericles
himself. He was indeed reinstated as indispensable, but his death in the
following year left Athens at the mercy of the demagogues—with
Alcibiades to follow. The Sicilian expedition, the crowning venture of
imperialism, issued—as was to be expected with no real successor of
Pericles to direct it—in the disaster of 413 B. C., when the brave
Syracusans, with the willing help of Sparta, dissipated the Athenian
dream of vast colonial expansion.

The next ten years was for Athens a losing struggle at home and abroad.
The short-lived oligarchy of the Four Hundred in 411 B. C., the
strenuous but vain efforts of Theramenes to reconcile oligarchy and
democracy, the civic strife and war with the powerful Lysander, the
crushing defeat at Ægospotami, the intervention of Sparta, the brief but
terrible régime of the Thirty Tyrants, completed, in 404 B. C., the
final overthrow of imperial Athens. But Sparta, with politic generosity,
while doing away with the empire, left Athens free to establish a more
stable democracy that was to last through the greater part of the fourth
century. Oligarchy could no more find a hearing, and, although Hellenic
federations were eloquently advocated by the orators and actually
formed, despotic empire was no longer feasible for the Athenians. Their
new leader, Conon, however, the foe of Sparta, could succeed after
Lysander’s death in making Athens independent and strong. We come upon
his work now and again in Athens and in Piræus, and in the renascent
civic life the intellectual life went on with new vigour. The imperial
dream finally came true, but from the outside. The Macedonian, though
sneered at as barbarian by Demosthenes, confirmed at the Olympic games
the validity of his Hellenic claim that he had asserted at Chæronea. The
fitful struggle against the sway of Macedon only resulted, under a
successor less philhellenic than Philip, in the forced suicide of the
great Demosthenes and the execution of Hypereides, whose funeral
oration, pronounced over the dead heroes of the “lost cause,” carries us
beyond the great speech of Pericles—pronounced on a similar but less
hopeless occasion—back to the heroes of Marathon and Salamis. Speaking
of the dead leader Leosthenes, he says: “In the dark under-world—suffer
us to ask—who are they that will stretch forth a right hand to the
captain of our dead?... There, I deem, will be Miltiades and
Themistocles, and those others who made Hellas free, to the credit of
their city, to the glory of their names.”[8]

Footnote 8:

  Translated by Jebb, _Attic Orators_.

We sit to-day beneath a Greek sky on the rising tiers of the modern
centuries, and the drama of Athenian life is reproduced before our eyes.
The greater protagonists of literature and life play out their rôles.
Many another actor plays his less prominent but essential part. The
“mutes” contribute. The chorus of democracy is seldom absent from the
scene. The binoculars of modern historians penetrate behind paint and
mask and robe, and the squalor of the real actor is at times laid bare.
We may choose, however, to ignore minutiæ and to give ourselves up to
the more satisfying perspective of the literature, and to let sweep
before us the bright procession of form and colour, the song and saga,
the Dionysiac revel and tragic mimicry that fill out the real drama of

Æschylus connects the old and the new Athens. Before Marathon he
produced his first play; in the interval before Salamis he gained a
first prize; and he brought out his greatest dramas in the time of the
Renascence, of which he was a great part.

The bare hill of the Areopagus claims attention as we descend from the
Propylæa. It rises as a physical barrier between the deserted site of
the old city of Theseus and that of Classic or of Modern Athens. With
the sanctity attaching to the time-honoured prerogatives of its
venerable court it was also a moral barrier between the old and the new
in the days when Pericles was reshaping the civic life. And Æschylus in
his “Eumenides,” the third play of his great trilogy, strove as best he
could to reconcile old traditions with the inevitable readjustment to
the life of imperial Athens. He spoke with the authority of a Hebrew
prophet. Whatever else was changed, blood-guiltiness must be judged.
Only within the mysterious gloom of the cleft beneath the Areopagus
could the dread and ancient Furies, spawn of Night, be transformed into
willing coadjutors of the goddess of Wisdom.

[Illustration: AREOPAGUS]

The Furies in hot haste have pursued from Delphi Orestes, the
mother-murderer. Confidently anticipating the verdict, they cry:—

                “Over the victim thus we chaunt,
                A frenzy and madness his mind to daunt,
                A hymn of the Furies to fetter the mind,
                A withering blight to human kind.”

The god Apollo himself appears for the defendant, and when the decision
goes against the Furies by Athena’s casting vote in the Areopagus Court,
their bitterness against the “new” gods shoots forth like the serpents
uncoiling in their hair:—

               “Ah upstart gods and parvenu!
               My ancient laws your hoof-beats spurn.
               Ye wrested them from out my hand,
               Alas for you!
               I, though dishonoured and distressed,
               Upon this land
               The grievous weight of my wrath shall turn
               And from my breast
               Shoot venom on venom, woe for woe,
               Drop upon drop of a poison flow
               For Earth unbearable, unblest.”

Athena pacifies the Furies by promising them a local sanctuary and the
reverence of the citizens for all time. The old order is reconciled with
the new, and the Furies, now the Eumenides—the Propitious Ones—are
escorted to their dwelling in the cleft of the Areopagus by Athena’s own
attendants, boys, maidens, and matrons, with ceremonious honour equal to
the Panathenaic procession:—

        “Fare ye on to your home in your emulous might
        With our loyal attendance, ye children of Night.
          (O my countrymen, bless them and praise them!)

        “In the caverns of eld, in the womb of the Earth
        With the offerings of honour befitting your worth.
          (O my demesmen, now bless them and praise them!)

        “Nay, then, righteous and gracious in mind to our land,
        Come, come, O ye Dread Ones, take joy in our band.
          (Cry aloud now! Exult in your singing!)

        “As the torches attend, let libations be poured,
        Thus the all-seeing Zeus and the Moiræ as ward
        To the people of Pallas their presence afford.
          (Cry aloud now! Exult in your singing!)”

The great mass broken off from the east end of the Areopagus rock has
partially blocked the cleft into which the chorus conducts home the
Dread Goddesses. As the procession, chanting its hymn, sweeps around the
shoulder of the hill, the faded picture of ancient Athens regains its
outlines as if under some powerful reagent. Wine-press and fountain,
precincts and temples, rise again from their ruins; the throbbing life
of the eager citizens reappears. But the gaily-dressed people have
hushed jest and carping under the sense of awe evoked by Æschylus. The
Athenians were then, as St. Paul on this same Areopagus called them long
afterwards, “very scrupulous,” and it was no unworthy superstition that
made it imperative to harmonize the cruder conceptions of the immutable
laws of Retribution with the new and expansive wisdom of Athena.
Swinburne, with keen insight into the universal application of the great
drama, brings the “shadows of our deeds” under wisdom’s searching but
not unkindly light:—

 “Light whose law bids home those childless children of eternal night,
 Soothed and reconciled and mastered and transmuted in men’s sight
 Who behold their own souls, clothed with darkness once, now clothed with

The visitor who takes his stand to-day immediately in front of the south
side of the Areopagus is completely sequestered from the modern city.
Here the Acropolis and the Areopagus rock make practically a continuous
barrier to the close-built streets that on the northern side come
crowding up their slopes. He is encircled with hills, and this ancient
quarter of the city of Theseus lies waste and silent around him. The
ground is harrowed and scarred by the spade of the archæologist. Only
the foundations of sanctuaries and fountains, houses and cisterns, may
be distinguished.

The rock-chambers opposite, called by courtesy the “Prison of Socrates,”
will, however, recall us to classic Athens. While waiting for the return
of the mission-ship from Delos to bring the day of execution, Crito and
the rest listened to Socrates’s demonstrations of immortality. Plato
sent his reason out as far into the invisible as reason can go. In the
“Phædo,” after his half-playful periegesis of the underworld, Socrates
is made to say: “Whosoever seem to have excelled in holy living, these
are they who are set free and released from these earthly places as from
prisons and fare upward to that pure habitation and make their
dwelling-place in yonder land.... Therefore we must do our utmost to
gain in life a share in virtue and wisdom. For the prize is noble and
the hope is great!” or, as he adds presently, “The risk is fair.” And
Socrates, like Pindar before him, finds the crowning joy of a blessed
immortality neither in the unlaborious sunlit life by night and day, nor
in the ocean breezes, nor in the flowers of gold blooming on trees of
splendour, but in the company of the great and noble dead with whom to
live “’twere more of happiness than tongue can tell.”

On the Pnyx hill we may recall the Athenian Assembly, and may turn in
fancy the voluminous pages of Congressional Records filled with
patriotism and jealousy; we listen to Pericles and his persuasive
schemes for imperial expansion; or to Socrates, president for the day,
refusing, amidst the clamours of _demos_ and demagogues, to put to vote
the illegal proposition to condemn in a body the ten generals; or to
Demosthenes pleading, denouncing, planning for the welfare of the city.
Or in the half-light before dawn we may see the suffragettes of
Aristophanes’s “Ecclesiazusæ” filing up the hill. More wily than their
modern sisters, they have disguised themselves with beards and have
dressed in the shoes and cloaks distrained from their husbands,
imprisoned at home by naked necessity. With no man to oppose, the women
quickly transfer the whole control of the State to themselves, and
institute reforms that would put to shame the most radical of modern
socialists. A slave, in the “Wasps” of Aristophanes, once had a dream by
no means respectful to the Athenian legislature. Some sheep, with cloaks
and staves, sat huddled together like just so many Athenians on the
seats of the Pnyx, holding an Assembly. To-day the hill is left lonely,
and the wandering goats, with their solemn faces and long beards, might
renew the sittings unmolested.

In the face of the hill fronting towards the Acropolis, the rock-chamber
of the Callirrhoë spring, with its sloping entrance and the parapet
within, has been suggested as the original of the famous cave in Plato’s
“Republic.” The Vari Cave, on the south side of Hymettus, might have
made less of a strain, as has been urged, upon Plato’s imagination.
However faint the resemblance of the Callirrhoë cave to Plato’s complex
setting, it is enough to emphasize the vitality of this realistic
figure, which has become typical, in modern poetry and prose, of the
denizens of earth watching and naming the shadows thrown by the
fire-light upon the cave’s wall, unable by reason of fetters to look
around at the objects moving behind them, much less to rise and climb
the long ascent to the brighter light above.

The innocent-looking ravine west of the Hill of the Nymphs is identified
with the Barathrum. In antiquity its fame had penetrated to the
underworld, where the innkeeper’s maid threatened to pitch the
Pseudo-Heracles “into the Barathrum.” And Herodotus’s apocryphal story
is at least _ben trovato_. He relates that, when the ambassadors of
Darius came asking tokens of submission from the Greeks: “Some [the
Athenians] took the messengers and threw them into the Barathrum, others
[the Spartans] into a well, and bade them take earth and water from
there to their King.” Miltiades, the hero of Marathon, if we are to
believe the allusion in the “Gorgias,” barely escaped with a fine and
banishment instead of the criminal’s end in this same pit.

If even the skeleton of the Athenian Market-place could be resurrected,
like that of the Roman Forum, many scores of allusions would take on a
local habitation. The Agora was the centre of life. In classic times it
probably lay in the depression west of the “Theseum” hill, and extended,
from the slopes of the Areopagus, northward about to the modern Hadrian
street. Pindar, with no idle flattery, spoke of the “fair-famed Agora,
in sacred Athens, inlaid with cunning workmanship.” Sculptor, painter,
and architect gave of their best. The Prytaneum, close to, or in the
Agora, was the city’s fireside. Distinguished foreigners and citizens
here and in the Tholus enjoyed, temporarily or for life, the public
hospitality. Socrates ironically suggests to his judges that the
sentence really fitting his case would be: “Maintenance in the
Prytaneum, much more so indeed than if any one of you has come off
victor at Olympia with a race horse, a pair, or a four-horse team.”
Plutarch relates that Aristides, far from enriching himself from the
public purse, left not even enough for his funeral expenses, and that
the Athenians “married off his daughters from the Prytaneum at the
public cost—voting a dowry of three thousand drachmas to each.” In the
stoas that faced upon the Agora the citizens heard and discussed many a
new thing, from the days when the great painting of the battle of
Marathon was fresh in the Painted Porch, to the time when the Stoics
appropriated this colonnade. In time of war a man would look fearfully
at the bulletin board near by, to see if his name was posted for
military duty; or in time of truce would feel that yonder beautiful
group of Peace with the child Wealth best reproduced to the eyes the
blessings so often absent during the wearisome Peloponnesian
wars,—blessings which Bacchylides, the admiring neighbour of Athens, had

 “And now for mortals Peace, the mighty mother, giveth birth
 To Wealth and bears culled flowers of honey’d minstrelsy.
 She makes on sculptured altars of the gods to blaze
 Thigh pieces, in the yellow flame, of bullocks and of thick-fleeced
 And lets the youths give thought to athletes’ toil and flutes and
 Now in the steel-bound hand-loops of the shield
 Are stretched the dusk-red spiders’ woven tapestries;
 The barbèd spears, the two-edged swords are cankered o’er;
 The trumpet’s brazen blare is still.”

To be near the Agora was a desideratum. The cripple, in Lysias’s
oration, asking the Senate to continue his pension, refers to the fact
that every one in Athens has his favourite lounging place: “One
frequents the perfume-seller’s, another the barber’s, another the
cobbler’s; and as a rule the most of them lounge into the shops set up
nearest the Agora, and the very fewest resort to those most remote from
it.” Socrates, too, seeking his audience where the crowds gravitated,
was often heard talking “in the Market-place near the bankers’ tables.”
Aristophanes, together with the other comic writers, and Lysias and
Theophrastus tell not only of other resorts—like the fuller’s shop, the
shield-and-spear-maker’s—but of many special sub-markets. Thus there
were by the Agora the “Pottery” and the “Vegetable” Market, and,
somewhere near, the “Green-cheese,” the “Garlic,” the “Wine,” the “Oil,”
the “Fish” markets. Of the Bird-market we hear in some detail in
Aristophanes,—the live pigeons in cages, strings of ortolans, thrushes
abnormally inflated, and blackbirds with “feathers shamefully inserted
in their nostrils”! In time of war the country folk thronged into town
to escape the armies that were devastating Attica. In times of peace,
too, they came trooping in on the first of the month, and to the
oft-recurring festivals. Menander, with his blended Stoicism and
Epicureanism, looks around in the crowded Agora and compares human life
to a festival or market-fair:—

     “That man, O Parmeno, I count most fortunate
     Who quickly whence he came returns, when he, unvexed,
     Has looked on these majestic sights—the common sun,
     Water and clouds, the stars and fire. If thou shalt live
     An hundred years, or if a very few, thou’lt always see
     These same sights present, grander ones thou’lt ne’er behold.
     So reckon thou this time I’m speaking of as though
     Some market-fair or trip to town, where one may see
     The crowd, the market, dice and loungers’ haunts;
     Then, if thou’rt first unto thy lodgings, with more gold
     Thou’lt go upon thy travels and shalt pick no brawl;
     While he that tarries longer, worn, his money gone,
     Grows old and wretched, and forever knows some lack,
     A wandering vagrant finding enemies and plots,
     And gains no death that’s easy, staying out his time.”

A broad avenue, flanked with porticoes, ran from the Market-place
northwest to the Dipylon gate. This double gateway, impressive even from
the remains of its foundations, quickens the memory to recall the
generations of citizens and foreigners that have passed this way. Along
the roads from Colonus and the Academy and the Sacred Way from Eleusis,
converging outside the gates, will come a motley throng of Athenian
ghosts, gay or scurrilous, militant or philosophic, to blot out the
consciousness of the modern city. Outside the Dipylon, in the “Outer
Cerameicus,” is “the Street of the Tombs.” Some of the beautiful
monuments are still _in situ_ to stimulate a detailed study of the rich
material in the National Museum. It was here that the Athenians usually
buried their dead. The roll-call of great names stirs the imagination
here as in Westminster Abbey. This is no exclusive privilege of one
place or people. But there is often an appropriate _genius loci_. As one
lingers along the Appian Way, for example, deciphering inscriptions and
pausing before the weather-beaten faces on the monuments, there is a
lurking pessimism and an insidious melancholy that flow in from the
beauty of the Roman Campagna. Here, however, in this _proastion_ of
Athens, this Suburb of the Dead, the memorials still in place, with
their unpretentious sincerity, give rather a sensation of beauty and
hope in perpetuating scenes from actual life. Even a scene of parting
has less of hopeless finality. The warrior on his horse, the woman with
her jewel-box, suggests life and love, not death and lamentation. Along
yonder road from Eleusis came many an initiate fresh from the Mysteries,
and some may well have been ready to listen with hope to Pindar’s
“trumpet-blast for immortality”:—

              “For them the night all through,
              In that broad realm below,
          The splendour of the sun spreads endless light;
              ’Mid rosy meadows bright,
          Their city of the tombs with incense-trees,
              And golden chalices
              Of flowers, and fruitage fair,
              Scenting the breezy air,
          Is laden. There with horses and with play,
          With games and lyres, they while the hours away.”[9]

Footnote 9:

  Translated by J. A. Symonds.

Whether or no we choose to identify with Charon the old man in the boat,
represented on one of the stelæ still standing, Death and Life here
confront each other. Æschylus, in his early allusion to Charon’s boat,
draws the contrast by an antithesis of the black sails of the ship of
Theseus to the god of Light, and speaks of the “rowing” of the mourners’
arms causing—

  “that dark-sailed mission-ship, upon whose deck Apollo treads not and
  the sunlight falls not, through Acheron to pass unto that shore unseen
  where all must lodging find.”

And Euripides prepares his audience for the pathetic departure of
Alcestis to the underworld by a sharp dialogue between Apollo and Death,
who is at once as old and as lusty as Death in the Morality plays.


  Monument of Hegeso

After the battle of Chæronea Philip sent back the ashes of the dead
Athenians, and Demosthenes counted it the highest honour to deliver
their funeral oration. But the noblest association with this spot is the
great oration of Pericles, who was chosen in the course of the
Peloponnesian War to pronounce the public eulogy over the dead warriors.
These were borne along in cypress chests, with one empty litter to
represent those whose bodies had not been recovered. The long speech is
the incarnation of the Athenian spirit and of Pericles’s own undaunted
policy. Thucydides represents him as saying:—

“They received praise that grows not old and a most illustrious tomb;
not that in which they here are laid but wherever, as occasion arises,
there remaineth the ever-living glory of their word and work. For the
whole earth is the sepulchre of famous men, and not only in their own
land does an inscription upon columns tell of it, but in other lands an
unwritten memory dwells within the mind of all.”

The “Cerameicus” was soon to receive Pericles. The great plague carried
off the orator’s sons, and, overcome by grief and the shipwreck of his
plans, he died himself in the next year.

Thucydides describes the plague with appalling vigour. The misery and
danger were aggravated by the congestion of the country folk crowding in
to escape the Peloponnesian invaders. Bivouacked in stifling “shacks”
during the hot summer, they died uncared-for and lay where they fell,
dying upon one another, at home, in the streets, or by the fountains
where they had tried in vain to quench their fever.

In the “Œdipus Tyrannus” of Sophocles the plague at Thebes is pictured
in terms certainly reminiscent, at least here and there, of what must
have been the most awful memory of the poet’s life. The blight that has
fallen alike on the land and on its inhabitants is described by the

         “Nay, for no longer the glorious Earth
         Yieldeth her young; nor by ever a birth
         Of a child do our women change sorrow to mirth.
         You may see how they’re flocking like birds of unrest
         Or swifter than fire’s unquenchable quest,
         Afar to the shore of the God in the West.

         “They are unnumbered, dead and dying,
         The city’s children, unpitied they’re lying,
         With no one to mourn them, outstretched on the ground,
         Death and pestilence spreading around.”

Thucydides relates, too, that the Athenians discussed an ancient oracle
which told how a “Dorian war will befall and a pestilence come as
companion”; and that in the midst of their despair they could debate
whether the oracle said “pestilence” (λοιμός) or “famine” (λιμός),
either word being appropriate enough. History repeats itself. At Athens
in 1906, during a virulent outbreak of smallpox, with the pest-houses
overflowing, the newspapers calmly turned to the really vital question
of the proper Greek word for the disease—whether it should be evloyiá
(εὐλογιά), or effloyiá (εὐφλογιά).

Amidst the splendour of the public buildings the dwelling-houses long
remained insignificant. The streets were dark at night. The houses had
few windows to let out such light as might come from the “dim and stingy
wick” of some miser watching his hoards, or from that of a perplexed
father reckoning up his son’s horse-racing debts, as we find old
Strepsiades doing in the “Clouds” of Aristophanes:—

        “The month’s end’s coming and the interest rolling up.
        I say, slave, light a lamp and bring my ledger here.
        .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
                  SLAVE (_entering_).

        There’s scarce a drop of oil in this here lamp of ours.


        O my! Why did you, tell me, light that thirsty lamp?
        Come here that you may get a weeping!


                                              And why so?


        Because you put in one of those fat, greedy wicks.”

In the “Wasps” the jurors, out before dawn to secure a job at the
court-room, pick their way along the dark streets with only the
link-boys to guard them against stumbling-stones and refuse.

                MEMBER OF CHORUS.

  “Let’s march by the lamp and everywhere look well about, around us,
  Lest here or there should be some stone to trip us and confound us.


  Watch out there, father, father, for this dirt, watch out!

               MEMBER OF CHORUS.

  Pick up a chip here from the ground and snuff the lamp.


  No, with my finger _thus_ I choose to snuff the lamp!

              MEMBER OF CHORUS.

  What’s got into your head, with hand to shove the wick,
  And that when oil’s so scanty? There, you fool, take that!”

The flat-roofed houses were low. Highwaymen could sit on the roofs and
jump down on their victims. Burglars, who preferred a change from the
conventional method of digging through the soft bricks, could climb over
the house-wall. The street-mire and “Apaches” were familiar in
violet-crowned Athens. Demosthenes on occasion loads his terrible
Gatling gun with details picked up from the street. In his oration
“Against Conon” he describes a brawl. The plaintiff recites how the said
Conon and his crew had met him near the Leocorion at the Agora, tripped
up his legs, trampled him in the mire, cut his lip, and bunged up his
eyes; how, finally, as he lay there, Conon was egged on by the others to
flap his arms like wings and to crow over him like a victorious rooster.

The Gymnasia of Athens emphasize one of the most characteristic features
of Athenian life—the close interrelation of the physical and the
intellectual. Here the youths were trained in their naked beauty; here
the philosophers collected their data; here they afterwards taught their
doctrines. To-day, unhappily, we must content ourselves with recalling
the natural beauty surrounding the Academy at Colonus, or reconstructing
scenes like those in the “Euthydemus,” the “Charmides,” the “Laches,” or
“Lysis” of Plato. At the opening of the “Lysis” Socrates is making his
way close under the outside of the north wall of the city, bound from
the Academy for the Lyceum, which was probably somewhere east of the
present King’s Gardens. Thus the path between Plato’s Academy and the
future school of Aristotle was worn by the footsteps of their great
predecessor. Socrates on this occasion, however, was deflected by an
eager youth to enter a new palæstra just opened near the fountain of
Panops, possibly near the gate of Diochares now placed by conjecture
near the intersection of the Street of the Muses and Boulè Street. He is
persuaded without difficulty and holds a discussion on Friendship with
the handsome youths gathered there. In the “Charmides” likewise he goes
to another palæstra, Taureas, which was near the Itonian gate, probably
not far from the Olympieum. He had just come back the evening before
from the engagement at Potidæa, and is eagerly questioned about the
battle. As usual, he guides the talk into other channels and there
follows a discussion upon Temperance.

Although the sites of the courts are uncertain, we know what went on in
them. The Athenian passion for litigation is a commonplace. Lucian’s
Icaromenippus, looking down from the moon on the kingdoms of the classic
world, characterizes the inhabitants thus: “I could see the nomad Scyths
in their wagons; the Egyptian farming; the Cilician buccaneering; the
Spartan flogging; and the Athenian pettifogging.” So, in the newly
organized Bird-town of Aristophanes, one of the first visitors,
following hard after the parricide, is a Law-suit-hatcher. He “cannot
dig,” but is not ashamed of his blackmailing trade. He comes to the
birds for wings to bear him around among the Isles as “Summoner.”

The “Wasps” is a comedy directed against this frailty of the Athenians.
The old Philocleon (demagogue-lover), on account of his inordinate
passion for sitting on juries, is forcibly detained at home by his son
who, to console his father, arranges a trial of the dog Labes (Snap) who
has rushed into the kitchen and devoured a Sicilian cheese. The trial is
conducted with detailed and rigorous conventionality. The defendant is
finally acquitted, thanks to the puppies, who are brought into court and
“whining beg him off, entreat and weep!”—a parody on the common but
illegal method of influencing a jury, which Socrates scorned to adopt
when on trial for his life.

With the exception of the Acropolis itself, the great Dionysiac Theatre
perhaps offers most to allure the visitor. Although in its present
state, with the later disfigurements of Roman times, we can only with
difficulty form a detailed picture of its structure even in the fourth
century, yet the slight traces of the circular orchestra, now identified
beneath it, entitle the visitor to associate with this site the classic
drama and to give free play to not unnatural sentiment. It is an epitome
of the Athenian drama. It interprets, and is interpreted by, a wide
range of literature. Here, too, in later times were gathered popular
assemblies. Here, looking over plain and sea, sat generations of
citizens and guests to be moved to laughter or to tears. Here the
“Shameless Man” of Theophrastus managed to get himself and his children
in for nothing by manipulating the places which he had purchased for his
foreign visitors.

And not only could the philosopher Theophrastus find subjects for his
character sketches among the theatre-goers, and turn the critics into
material for his critique, but his friend, the playwright Menander,
could in his comedy use the dramatic troupe as matter for his
sententious characterization. Already in the time of Aristophanes the
chorus was unequally constituted: some members trained as star
performers to take a more active part, others to move as mutes in the
background. Menander utilizes this custom to illustrate, in a fragment
preserved to us, the workers and the drones of life:—

   “Just as in choruses not every one doth sing,
   But certain two or three mere speechless dummies stand
   Filling the rows, so here ’tis somehow similar:
   _These_ fill a space, while these, to whom God grants it, _live_!”

The precinct of the Asclepieum, adjoining the Theatre, was a Sanatorium
where religion and faith-cures were combined with actual medical skill.
In the “Plutus” of Aristophanes the blind god, Wealth, is restored to
discriminating vision. His head was covered by “Panacea” with a purple
cloth, and two expert snakes operated upon his eyes.[10] This comic
scene is not, it may easily be credited, too much of a burlesque upon
some of the practices at such places. Magic miracles, including the
“absent treatment” of recalcitrant lovers, are not unknown in other
ages. But a visit to the famous health-resort of the great school of
Hippocrates, on the island of Cos, will tend to inspire a respect for
Greek therapeutics. The “open-air” treatment on the mountain terrace
overlooking the sea may have been modern enough, and, along with the use
of the sulphur spring, suggests both technical knowledge and common

Footnote 10:

  See Gardner, _Ancient Athens_, pp. 429 ff., for a vivid account of
  this scene and subject.

Close by the Theatre to the east, hemmed in by modern houses, the
beautiful little circular shrine, the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates,
reminds us of the cost and rivalry attendant upon bringing out the
dramas. The weathered sculpture around the top speaks once again of the
inseparable connection of Athenian life and literature. It carries us
back to the Homeric Hymn to Dionysus. The pirates who kidnapped the god
are here undergoing punishment; some, already half changed into
dolphins, are diving into the sea. In the hymn the pirates, who have
carried off the youth in his purple robe, deem him a rich prize for
ransom. But the vine with clustering grapes that presently entwines sail
and yards proclaims the god. He transformed himself into a bear, then a
lion, and they at the sight,—

 “All of them shunning the doom that was on them, together out-springing,
 Leaped to the water divine and, leaping, were turned into dolphins.”

The combination at Athens of natural beauty and material splendour with
moral and intellectual worth called forth praise from both guests and
citizens. To Bacchylides of Ceos the city is “spacious Athens,”
“splendour-loving.” The Graces “wreath-winning and violet-eyed” are to
dower his songs with honour when he addresses himself to its specific

                  “Brooding thought of the Cean isle
                  Poet’s care men praised erst-while,
                    Weave me now a web of song
                    Resplendent, fit for Athens strong
                    Where love and loveliness belong.”

And Pindar, fresh from the gardens of Thebes, was impressed by the
beauty of Athens at the vernal Dionysia:—

  “The portals of the chamber of the Hours open wide, and growing
  plants, now nectar sweet, perceive the advent of the fragrant Spring;
  then, then on earth immortal shower the lovely tufts of violets, then
  in the hair the roses are entwined.”

A guest-present most highly prized by the Athenians is preserved in
another fragment from Pindar:—

              “Radiant, violet-crowned, by minstrels sung,
              Bulwark of Hellas, Athens illustrious.”

But Aristides the Just might have as easily escaped ostracism as could
this overworked epithet, “violet-crowned,” escape the irreverence of
Aristophanes. Whenever foreign envoys, he says, wish to cheat us
Athenians, they call us “violet-crowned,” and forthwith we are all

Among all the native poets no one has given freer expression to his
feeling for the beauty of Athens than Euripides, unhappy in his personal
life and iconoclastic in his attitude towards old traditions. He
breathes the air, stainless and of a more ethereal violet than the sea,
and sings of the concord of Wisdom and the Heavenly Aphrodite:—

  “Blest are the children of Erechtheus of the olden time, the children
  of the happy gods, who from a land inviolate and sacred feed on wisdom
  famed afar, and go upon their way forever, daintily enfolded by that
  bright, bright air.

  “And Cypris, drawing water from Cephīsus flowing fair, breathes down
  upon the land the gentle breath of winds with sweetness laden and ever
  with her hair encompassed with blown roses’ fragrant coronals keeps
  sending down the Loves who have their seat by side of Wisdom,
  coadjutors they of Virtue manifold.”

Through the transparent candour of the philosopher’s robe the soul of
the poet Plato is ever shining. But like Æschylus he is a poet militant.
If he walks by the Ilissus he interprets in terms of the spiritual the
physical charm of tree and water and the chirping insect; if he goes
down to Phaleron, the Ægean does not bring in for him “the eternal note
of sadness,” but his soul has “sight of that immortal sea which brought
us hither”; and in the heaven’s vault, overarching Attica, he sees “many
ways to and fro” where drive the chariots of the gods whom “he who will
and can” may follow, “for from the choir divine all grudging stands
aloof!” If to Plato the Athens of the fourth century seemed imperfect,
if he was even embittered by the judicial murder of his master, it was
with the truest patriotism that he turned to construct an ideal state.
His sense of law and order was deep-rooted. It was with lofty optimism
that he urged his hearers not to rest content with politics as they are,
but to look to “the pattern that is laid up in heaven for him who wills
to see and, seeing, so to plant his dwelling.”

                               CHAPTER VI
                        OLD GREECE IN NEW ATHENS

                    “Born into life!—’tis we,
                    And not the world, are new.”
                                     MATTHEW ARNOLD.

Travellers fresh from Italy perceive an Oriental picturesqueness in
modern Athens, but the immediate impression of its Occidental character
gained by those who come from Egypt or Constantinople is the correct
one. The old narrow streets, reminiscent of the Turkish period, are few
in number and lie on the northern side of the Acropolis. Back of them,
further to the north and west, lies a very clean and well-planned town
which boasts of being a little Paris. The substantial houses and hotels,
the dignified palaces of the royal princes and the buildings of the
University and Museum, the conventional shops and public squares, the
boulevards and gardens, give to Athens the general appearance of any
European city that is moving fast toward and beyond a population of two
hundred thousand, and is not yet disfigured by the smoke-stacks of
factories. A welcome individuality of taste is shown chiefly in the
classical architecture of the group of University buildings and of the

Even to pilgrims and strangers the modern city reveals an eager and, in
many aspects, a charming life. But a special relationship follows in the
wake of familiarity with the new, added to knowledge of the old, Athens.
The student of Greek literature finds that he need not always seek the
ruins of antiquity or the permanent stage-setting of Nature when he
desires a sense of fellowship with the past. At any street corner this
sense may be quickened by some person or object which is an integral
part of the city’s modern life. Ancient literature not only gleams, like
“a stately palace hall, with golden pillars of song,” but also mirrors
common things, trivial or serious, which subtly unite the times of Homer
with those of Pericles, and both with our own.

Greek gentlemen conspicuously engaged in having their boots blacked
share the habits if not the politics of Aristophanes’s dicast who was
always seeking the sponge and the basin of oil-mixed pitch for his dusty
shoes. Street-venders from Rhodes, who beguile foreign ladies with
embroideries, are plying the craft of the Phœnician peddler at the home
of Eumæus, then a happy princelet and later the swineherd of Odysseus.
The peddler displayed to Eumæus’s lady mother and her maidens a golden
chain set here and there with amber beads, and “they offered him their
price.” Bargaining, the basis of all transactions, is not always as
amiable as it is in Rome. An Athenian cab-driver in search of drachmas
can be as obstinate as the corpse in Aristophanes’s “Frogs,” whom
Dionysus asked to take his luggage to Hades:—


        “You there! You dead man! You, I mean! I’m calling you.
        Good fellow, wilt to Hades carry down my traps?


        How many?




                             Wilt make it a two drachma job?


        Not I, by Zeus, but less.

                CORPSE (_to the bearers_).

                                  Start up the funeral, you!


        Good sir, one moment! See if we can’t come to terms.


        You’ll put down drachmas two, or else don’t talk to me.


        One drachma and a half? A bargain? Come, take that.


        May I be—resurrected, if I do!


                                        What airs!
        The cursed scamp! Plague take him! I will go myself.”

Dionysus and his servant had made their entrance with a donkey, ridden
by Xanthias who was carrying the traps on a pole over his shoulder. No
age has allowed the donkey to escape his manifest destiny of bearing
burdens, nor has age or custom exhausted his capacity of occasional
revolt. The persevering attack of the Trojans on Ajax could be likened
only to the cudgelling by boys of a lazy ass which has strayed into a
cornfield and will not desist from wasting the deep crop—an episode as
modern as it is Homeric. But for the most part the little beasts carry
patiently everything that is portable, as they did when, in the annual
transportation of the properties used in the Eleusinian Mysteries, their
dull share in a great business became proverbial. Their panniers of
lemons and oranges and crates of water-jars are both antique and modern,
and a famous lost picture of Polygnotus comes to life in a donkey loaded
with fresh green boughs, moving toward the spectator.

That Dionysus, in search of a carrier, so conveniently saw a corpse in
the street was due to the Athenian custom of bearing the dead to the
grave on open biers. The same custom, shocking to foreign observers,
prevails to-day; and at almost any hour, in any thoroughfare, may be
seen one of these funeral processions, with the cover of the coffin
carried in front and the uncovered face exposed to the curious and the
indifferent. Thus exposed, the dead Alcestis was brought out from her
palace, and the cortège, with which the modern procession seems to
mingle, moves off the stage with prayers that Hermes and Persephone may
kindly welcome this traveller to their realm. These deities have been
forgotten, but their business is transferred to him who was once their
grim agent. To the modern Greek peasant Charon is Death. Alcestis
dreaded him as a messenger and ferryman:—

          “I see, I see the two-oar’d skiff. With hand on pole
          Charon, the ferryman of the dead, thus calleth me:
          ‘Why dost thou loiter? Hasten! Thou’rt delaying us.’
          With words like these in angry haste he urgeth me.”

To-day he rides in his own might:—

 “Why are the mountains so dark, and why so woebegone?
 Is it the wind at war there, or does the rain-storm scourge them?
 It is not the wind at war there, it is not the rain that scourges,
 It is only Charon passing across them with the dead;
 He drives the youths before him, the old folk drags behind,
 And he bears the tender little ones in a line at his saddle-bow.”[11]

Footnote 11:

  Greek peasant song, translated by Passow. Cf. Sir Rennell Rodd, _The
  Customs and Lore of Modern Greece_, p. 286.

Around the next corner, especially toward the end of Lent when spring
lamb is due in the markets and shepherds troop to town, another song
from the “Alcestis” may displace the strain of melancholy. For Apollo,
Pythian lord of song, once served Admetus,—

                 “Like a shepherd, piping, piping,
                 Hymeneal echoes raising
                 Down along the sloping hillside
                 Where the woolly flocks are grazing.”

In the guise of a young man, the herdsman of a flock, most delicate, as
are the sons of kings, Athena once appeared to Odysseus. And it was to a
man who was pasturing his flocks on many-fountained Ida that Aphrodite
gave her immortal heart. Perhaps thereafter in the streets of Troy
Anchises made people think suddenly of early dawns on the mountain-side
when the silver car of the moon hangs low over the sea and the
nightingale sings and the bleating flocks answer the pipe’s ethereal
cry. In Athens a transient shepherd, with his crook and his coat of
fleece, may fling the townsman’s thoughts abroad to the men he has seen
among the hills of Arcadia, where as of old a misty night is hateful to
shepherds and goatherds, and a bright moon their heart’s delight; or in
Lesbos, where still in mountain pastures the hyacinth is trampled under
foot and darkens the ground. A flock of sheep following the bellwether
from the country to the town is a reminder that the Greeks before Troy
were ordered about like a great flock of white ewes by the thick-fleeced
leader, Odysseus; and that the astute one, in the course of his later
adventures, saved himself from the wrath of blind Polyphemus by clinging
face upwards and with a steady heart, beneath the shaggy belly of his
best and goodliest ram. Aristophanes in the “Wasps” parodies the Homeric
ram. Here it is the family donkey which, led out to be sold, is
smuggling under its shaggy belly the old man imprisoned by his son to
cure him of the “jury habit.” The dejected donkey is addressed by the

         “Packass! why weepest thou? Because thou shalt be sold
         To-day? Come, double-quick! Why these repeated groans
         Unless, perchance, that some Odysseus thou dost bear?”

Athens is a bustling capital, but to the on-looker every Easter lamb
becomes a Golden Fleece, and—

                   “A story lingereth yet,
                   A voice of the mountains old.”[12]

The Easter feast is of great importance in Greece because the Lenten
fast is so scrupulously observed. At all times the working people are
temperate enough to have pleased Aristophanes, who liked to dwell on the
simple living of a generation before his own, when from the country
districts men trooped in to the assembly,—

                      “Each with his own little
                      Goatskin of wine,
                      Each with three olives, two
                      Onions, one loaf in his
                      Wallet, to dine.”[13]

But during parts of Lent even vegetables are forbidden, and a man who
has guided you up Pentelicus will accept from your lunch-basket only a
few olives and an orange to supplement his own piece of coarse bread.

The markets are in the older and most picturesque part of the city, but
only a modern Aristophanes could make them into scenes of rollicking
farce shot through with political purpose. Provincial Megarians with
pigs to sell, uncouth Bœotians bringing in vegetables and game, knavish
Athenians offering garlic and salt and anchovies from Phaleron—probably
the types are still here, dialects, morals and all, awaiting their
sacred bard.

Footnote 12:

  Euripides, _Electra_, 701, translated by Gilbert Murray.

Footnote 13:

  _Ecclesiazusae_, 306, translated by Rogers.

In the same district lies the bazaar known as Shoe Lane, where cobblers
and tailors and carpenters work in the open, protected by awnings.
Socrates, keen-eyed for handicraft and homely illustrations, often must
have watched their forebears. Not far from the shoemakers, the
coppersmiths, in the same district as of old, are suitably gathered in
Hephæstus Street, whence the sound of ringing hammers echoes afar. The
Homeric picture of Hephæstus in his forge on Olympus is duplicated in
any little forge along the modern street, when a workman rises from his
anvil and with a sponge wipes his face and hand and sturdy neck and
shaggy breast. In more than one part of the city the “bankers’ tables,”
at which also Socrates used to seek his crowd, are reproduced in the
much frequented tables of the money changers.

The open-air bakeries of his day also exist again and tempt with their
bread and plain cakes the exhausted sight-seer, whatever his philosophy.
But a Platonist is deterred at the threshold of a pastry-cook’s in the
fashionable shopping district by the remembrance that in the ideal life
there is no place for “those celebrated delicacies, the Athenian

Modern Athens is too arid to afford many public fountains, but women
still draw water from the meagre spring Callirrhoë, on the edge of the
Ilissus, not far from the Zeus columns. This spring, in name and
situation, is still identified by some experts with the town-spring of
primitive Athens and the later Nine Spouts. The traveller who throws in
his fortunes with the archæological opposition must at least find in the
lesser Callirrhoë the Athenian counterpart of the fountains which in so
many of the towns and villages of Greece perpetuate, in usefulness and
charm, an antique life of homely activities transmuted into poetry. The
townspeople of Odysseus drew their water just outside the city from a
wayside spring deep in an alder thicket, where a basin had been
fashioned to catch the cold stream falling from a cliff. In the old days
of peace, when the plain was safe, the wives and daughters of the men of
Troy had washed the family clothes in broad stone troughs beside the two
springs that fed the Scamander. Nausicaä of Phæacia and her maidens did
the palace washing so far from the town that the occasion involved a
day’s excursion and a generous lunch-basket packed by the Queen. But
there was a spring of drinking water nearer, for, when Odysseus was
entering the city, Athena met him in the form of a young girl carrying a
pitcher. At Eleusis, also, in the royal age, the king’s fawnlike
daughters, their crocus-yellow hair dancing on their shoulders, drew
water for the palace in vessels of bronze from the Maiden Well. In
classical Athens, as to-day, only the poorer women went for their own
water, and perhaps it was after meeting one who looked tired and
hopeless that Euripides made Electra, Agamemnon’s daughter, given in
marriage to a peasant in Argos to further her mother’s schemes, cry
aloud to the night:—

          “O Night, dark foster-mother of the golden stars,
          Thy shelter folds me while this jar bows low my head
          As to and from the river-springs I come and go.”

Only in the Panathenaic procession did the carrying of water-jars become
ennobled. To-day a working girl may be seen in a pose suggesting that of
the maidens of the Phidian frieze.

[Illustration: AFTER POLYGNOTUS]


The folk-lore and customs of modern Greece, as heirs of the past, have
been carefully scrutinized. Any knowledge that can be culled from
special treatises will everywhere increase the traveller’s sense of
historic continuity and will enrich his pleasure in meeting the country
folk. But by means of only a modicum of Greek poetry he may discover for
himself in Athens certain ancient beliefs and practices. On the first of
March, associated like the May Day of colder climates with the
blossoming of spring, bands of boys go about the streets carrying the
wooden image of a bird, singing a carol which announces the arrival of
the swallow, and begging gifts. One of these songs from Thessaly

                “She is here, she is here, the swallow!
                  Cometh another of honey’d song,
                  She percheth, twittereth all day long,
                    Sweet are her notes that follow.”

That the same custom, no newer than the recurrence of Nature’s happiest
gifts, enchanted the boys of ancient Athens we may infer from our
knowledge of it in “seagirt” Rhodes. There the carol began:—

              “She is here, she is here, the swallow!
              Fair seasons bringing, fair years to follow!
                  Her belly is white,
                  Her back black as night!
                  From your rich house
                  Roll forth to us
                  Tarts, wines and cheese:
                  Or if not these,
                  Oatmeal and barley cake
                  The swallow deigns to take.”[14]

When the spring was late, Aristophanes’s peevish old man was probably
not the only one to say: “Zeus! is the swallow never going to come?” Nor
under a punctual March sun was his sneak thief the only one to talk
about the weather:—

  “Haunting about the butcher’s shops, the weather being mild,
  ‘See, boys,’ says I, ‘the swallow there! why, summer’s come,’ I say,
  And when they turned to gape and stare I snatched a steak away.”[15]

Footnote 14:

  Translated by J. A. Symonds.

Footnote 15:

  _Knights_, 570, translated by Frere.

In graver poetry the dusky swallow of Simonides shared with the
lovely-voiced nightingale of Sappho the honour of announcing the
fragrant spring.

Other seasons in Athens had their crop of mendicant carols, and the
boyish custom of celebrating Apollo at one of his summer festivals by
going about from house to house and singing songs of good wishes is
suggested in the modern celebration of New Year’s or St. Basil’s day. It
is even possible that the rough little model of a ship carried by the
boys, as if to illustrate the sea-journey of the saint “come from
Cæsarea,” is a late descendant of the ship that was carried in the
Panathenaic procession, the origin of which lay in Theseus’s journey to
Crete, and the sail of which was Athena’s own peplos.

With Easter come the most elaborate of the peasant dances that accompany
all kinds of local religious festivals. Close at hand are the famous
dances of Megara, but in defiance of tradition the Athenian sojourner
may elect to visit those at Menidi, a large village about three miles to
the north, whose _panegyris_ or fair is not overrun by non-participants.
There are several varieties of peasant dances, and a technical knowledge
of the accompanying music will be of great service in interpreting them;
but whatever their particular measure may be, and whether they are
performed by men and women together or by women alone, they all possess
a dignity and gravity which mark them off as something quite different
from the gratification of a lively humour. The religious impulse is not
wholly forgotten in the delights of a carnal holiday, and the dances are
the expression, in unison, of a public feeling which in origin, at
least, was reverential. Save for the leader, no individual assumes
liberty of movement. In long lines or semi-circles the dancers link
hands and sway in monotonous harmony.

Readers of ancient Greek literature will remember how important dances
were in the religious festivals of all epochs. Their variety and their
ancestral relation to the modern dances are subjects for technical
study, but the spectator at Menidi is at liberty to let his imagination
travel the Sacred Way to Eleusis, or cross the Ægean to Delos, or seek
out Argos and distant Sparta. The modern inheritance is a limited one,
for it recalls only the grave choral movements that originated in
Sparta, and discards the license of the Dionysiac worship. And
altogether preventive of any real reconstruction of the past is the fact
that now only peasants at a country fair exhibit an art which once was
an important element in city as well as in village religion, and which
tested the grace of the gentlest born. It is a far call from a country
field and the daughters of Menidi, bedight though they are with
embroideries and necklaces and often fair of form and face, to the chief
temple in Sparta and the choicest maidens of the Spartan state. But one
certain bond there is between the girls of to-day and the princesses of
yesterday. The Easter fair serves the purpose of a market for brides,
and many a wedding follows it. Dancing is a part of this happy festival
as it was in antiquity in all ranks of society. And were the maidens of
Menidi exiled to America, they would long for the village green and the
bridal feasts, even as Iphigeneia and her comrades, exiled among the
northern Taurians, longed for Agamemnon’s palace and their Argive

  “And it’s O! that I could soar down the splendour-litten floor
    Where the sun drives the chariot steeds of light.
  And it’s O! that I were come o’er the chambers of my home,
    And were folding the swift pinions of my flight.
  And that, where at royal wedding the bridesmaids’ feet are treading
  Through the measure, I were gliding in the dance;
    Through its maze of circles sweeping,
    With mine older playmates keeping
  Truest time with waving arms and feet that glance.
    And it’s O! for the loving rivalry,
    For the sweet forms costly arrayed,
  For the raiment of cunningest broidery,
    For the challenge of maid to maid,
    For the veil light tossing, the loose curl crossing
    My cheek with its flicker of shade.”[16]

Footnote 16:

  Euripides, _Iphigeneia among the Taurians_, 1137. Paraphrased by Way.

Athens, like most southern cities, impresses an Anglo-Saxon as having
many holidays which “interrupt business”; but only during the New Year
and Easter festivals can he begin to imagine a resemblance to the civic
life of ancient Athens, which was almost a continuous pageant. “The
gods,” said Plato, “in pity for the life of toil, man’s natural
inheritance, appointed holy festivals whereby men alternate their labour
with rest.” But at certain seasons, especially in the spring and autumn,
the festivals were so congested that the days of labour must have been
far from burdensome. Almost all the festivals had a religious origin,
celebrating deities and heroes of political importance, like Athena or
Theseus, or forces of nature embodied in Dionysus or Demeter. But, like
Christmas, they gave abundant opportunity both for public enjoyment and
for the cultivation of communal and family sentiment. Sophocles had in
mind all their human charm when he made the blind Œdipus lament the
future of his little daughters:—

       “For to what gath’rings of your townsfolk shall you come,
       Or to what festivals from whence you shall not turn
       Back homeward bathed in tears, instead of any share
       In all the holiday?”

The festivals were often connected with the activities of country folk,
with planting and reaping, the vintage and the winepress, and yet at the
same time played an important part in a highly cultivated city life.
Some of them were confined to women, like the Thesmophoria, celebrated
by matrons in honour of Demeter, the patroness of fruitful marriages,
and used by Aristophanes as occasion and stage-setting for an attack on
the misogyny of Euripides; or like the Tauropolia, in honour of Artemis,
which suggested to Menander a lover’s opportunity. Others, such as the
Hermæa, at which Socrates first met the young Lysis and discoursed on
friendship, were celebrated by young men at the palæstras, or by
school-boys. The “Mean Man” of Theophrastus was “apt not to send his
children to school when there was a festival of the Muses, but to say
that they were sick, in order that they might not contribute.” Still
others, like the Panathenæa, which occurred in July, the first month of
the calendar year, united all classes and ages in a magnificent display
of civic loyalty. Public taste at its highest made the presentation of
plays the chief element in the Greater Dionysia in March, but the drama
had originated in the December festival of the country Dionysia, which
continued to be celebrated with a jollity and abandon that probably lost
nothing in the descriptions of Aristophanes. The same poet also found
plenty of material to his liking in the Anthesteria, another Dionysiac
celebration, in which Pots and Pitchers figured in drinking competitions
and in offerings to the dead. The statue of Dionysus in the Marshes was
escorted to the outer Cerameicus, and by the time it was brought back
again, a day later, the crowd was doubtless in the state described by
the chorus of Frogs in the underworld:—

         “The song we used to love in the Marshland up above
         In praise of Dionysus to produce,
         Of Nysæan Dionysus, son of Zeus,
         When the revel tipsy throng, all crapulous and gay,
         To our precinct reeled along on the holy Pitcher day.
           Brekekekex, ko-ax ko-ax.”[17]

Footnote 17:

  Translated by Rogers.

The license of some of the Dionysiac holidays was in reality a break in
the even tenor of Athenian temperance. At other times there seems to
have been little more drunkenness among them than among the Spartans,
whose uninterrupted self-restraint aroused the admiration of Plato.

From the crapulous and often naked verses of Aristophanes to the
austerely beautiful marbles of Phidias is a gamut that includes all the
characteristics of ancient festivals, in their appeal to both the
natural and the spiritual man. Religious sincerity, civic pride, and
buffoonery, jostled one another. Music, literature, and athletics added
discipline and beauty.

These things as a coherent whole are long since dead. The Easter
festival of to-day, like the Panathenæa, absorbs the entire city and has
its hours of gaiety as well as its hours of solemnity, but it lacks the
attendant contests in music, poetry, and gymnastics. If, however, it
includes less of a citizen’s life than Athena’s festival, it is more
Panhellenic than even the Eleusinian Mysteries, its prototype in
religious significance. The Mysteries appealed to all Greeks, but
invited them to gather at one spot. Those who have seen Easter ushered
in at midnight by King and Metropolitan in front of the Cathedral of
Athens, and who have also shared with peasant and parish priest in the
announcement within some village church on a lone island of the Ægean,
realize that in every part of modern Greece as never in old Greece all
classes and conditions of men are at the same hour engaged in a common

But the excited crowds that fill the city streets and make the Cathedral
Square look like a deep cornfield stirred by a strong west wind, and the
gathering of villagers in the open place in front of their tiny church
alike betray one quality that is no more Christian and new than it is
Pagan and old. An unquestioning and swift hospitality to strangers is as
much in evidence as is the lighted taper borne by each man, woman, and
child. In Athens this is but a proof on a crucial occasion of a temper
which reveals itself in response to every need. By this Ionic grace,
inherited from the noble civilization of Homer and eagerly exemplified
by the open-minded Athenians at the height of their prosperity, the
foreigner is transported back to the old city more surely than by the
street names and signs in the alphabet of Xenophon, or even than by the
vision, wherever his eye turns, of the ageless rock of the Acropolis.

[Illustration: ATTICA]

                              CHAPTER VII

 “The country of Cecrops, favoured of heroes, rich in its loveliness.”
                                    ARISTOPHANES, _Clouds_.

Modern Athens climbs up around the lower slopes of Mount Lycabettus,
which rises on the east like an index finger above the Attic plain.
Although this peak is less than one thousand feet high, its isolated
position opens out an unrivalled panorama of the Cephisian plain from
Parnes and Pentelicus down to Piræus and the bay, with Salamis, the
mountains of the Megarid, the Isthmus, Argolis and Ægina beyond. In the
“Frogs” of Aristophanes Æschylus’s many-jointed compounds are likened to
“great Lycabettuses.” Athena, it is said, while carrying Lycabettus
through the air to fortify her Acropolis, dropped it suddenly in its
present exclusive position; but, if we are to believe Plato, who had a
vague inkling of the geologic truth, her rival, the earth-shaker, rent
it asunder from the Acropolis, with which it was once continuous. From
Lycabettus, it would appear, the stream of the Eridanus made its way
north of the Acropolis and flowed out by the channel now laid bare near
the Dipylon gate. The Ilissus, rising on the slopes of Hymettus, flows
south of the city and, first uniting with the Eridanus, joins, between
Athens and Piræus, the Cephisus, which draws its waters from the
Pentelicus and Parnes ranges. This configuration of the landscape, with
arable plain-land watered by mountain streams, was the important factor
in country life about Athens. Clouds on Hymettus, as Theophrastus tells
us, were a sign of rain. The altar of “Shower-giving Zeus,” whether on
Hymettus or, as Pausanias says, on Mount Parnes, would have no lack of
suppliants in times of drought. The Clouds, in a fragment of the lost
edition of Aristophanes’s play, vanish adown Lycabettus and go off to
the top of Parnes. In the play as preserved, the mock Socrates,
instructing his thick-headed scholar, points out the cloud-goddesses:—

 “Now please to look here by Parnes anear, now I see they’ll be gently

And the Clouds, leaving Bœotia behind, come over Parnes, showering down
the praises that Aristophanes delighted to bestow on the Attic country:—

  “Let us, maidens, that bring fresh showers, go unto Pallas’s brilliant
  land to turn our eyes on the country of Cecrops, favoured of heroes,
  rich in its loveliness, there where is honour to consecrate secrets;
  there where the temple that welcomes its votaries flings wide its
  doors at the mysteries sacred; there where are gifts for the gods up
  in heaven; stately-roofed temples and statues of splendour; there are
  processionals unto the blessed ones, hallowed exceedingly; fair are
  the chaplets entwining the offerings unto the deities; ever recurring
  the festivals, season by season; and, when the spring cometh on,
  there’s the grace of the Bromian god and incitements to choirs
  melodious; aye and the Muse with the music of deep-voicèd flutings.”

Colonus, the birthplace of Sophocles, lay a little more than a mile
northwest of Athens. The hill is now disappointingly bald. Verdure and
the song of the nightingale must be sought by the banks of the Cephisus
near by, but the famous lines of Sophocles retouch the faded picture.
The chorus of old men of Attica address the aged Œdipus:—

  “Thou’rt come, O guest, unto the fairest of earth’s dwellings in this
  land that hath good breed of horses—this our white Colonus, where the
  clear-voiced nightingale from covert of green dells sends out her
  oft-repeated warblings murmurous and makes her dwelling in the
  wine-dark ivy or the god’s impenetrable foliage with countless
  fruitage laden; where the sun’s rays strike not nor bloweth any wind
  of all the blasts of winter; where Dionysus ever in rapt frenzy fares
  along, consorting with the nymphs that nursed him at the breast.

  “And fed by heaven’s dew, day in, day out, blooms the narcissus
  clustering fair in wreaths from days of yore inwoven for the twain
  Great Goddesses; blooms, too, the crocus with its gleam of gold. Nor
  ever fail the sleepless fountains of Cephisus and his wandering

The ramparts of the city of Theseus, seen by Antigone at the opening of
the play, are for Sophocles in reality the Acropolis and walls of his
own day. Antigone describes the sacred grove to her blind father:—

  “This place is sacred, for it teems with laurel, olive, and the vine.
  Within its very heart a multitude of feathered nightingales make

The venerable olive trees, self propagated through generations from the
parent stump, are, indeed, a feature in the Attic landscape. Sophocles
does not fail to include them in his catalogue of Attic blessings:—

  “There’s no such shoot on the Asian coast, of none such do I hear in
  Doris great, in Pelops-isle—a plant unvanquished, self-renewing,
  terror unto foemen’s spears—nay, none like this, child-nurturing, that
  groweth greatest in our land, the gray-green olive’s foliage.”

And in the neighbouring Academy the youths ran off their races beneath
the sacred olive trees. To the joyous associations that for nearly two
centuries had been accumulating about the Academy Plato added the
overshadowing greatness of his own name and teaching. He has
incidentally perpetuated the name of the original modest freeholder,
Academus, to be a part of the vocabulary of every school-boy. Near the
Academy, making a fitting goal for the avenue leading from the Dipylon
gate between the monuments of illustrious dead, the Athenians gave Plato
magnificent interment. An epigram by Antipater transfers to Plato the
indifference expressed by Socrates in regard to his untenanted body when
he says in the prison death-scene:—

“Bury me however you will,—if you can catch me—for, when I drink the
poison, I shall not remain here with you, but shall make my way to a
blissful life with the Blessed.... So don’t let Crito be vexed on my
behalf when he sees my body being burnt or buried as though I were
having some awful experience.”

Shelley in his fine paraphrase of the epigram inexactly substitutes
Athens for Attica and fails to include the epithet “earth-born,” the
conventional boast of the autochthonous men of Attica:—

               “Eagle! why soarest thou above that tomb?
               To what sublime and starry-paven home
                   Floatest thou?
               ‘I am the image of swift Plato’s spirit
               Ascending heaven:—Athens doth inherit
                   His corpse below.’”

If we follow up the Cephisus towards its sources we pass through the
ancient deme of Acharnæ and come on the north to Decelea on the slopes
of Mount Parnes, or, turning to the right, to Kephisia at the south of
Pentelicus, also called Brilessus by the ancients.

Upon the Parnes range, on the northern frontier of Attica, is the
partially ruined fortress of Phyle. Few places offer a more attractive
combination of scenery and association. There is, as at Delphi, a union
of grandeur and beauty. In addition to the view that awaits us above,
the ascent amidst trees and flowers by the running stream makes this a
fitting introduction to the more intimate charm of Attic landscape, and
the rugged gorges, skirted by the climbing pathway, are even
awe-inspiring. Once within the massive walls and towers, built on a
mountain spur commanding the junction of ravines and passes between
Attica and Bœotia, no extended explanation is necessary of the part
played here (in 404 to 403 B. C.) during the civil war between the
patriots and the Thirty Tyrants. Across the shoulder of Ægaleus the
plain of the Cephisus is unrolled to view, with Athens lying below
Hymettus. In the background are the Saronic Gulf and the Peloponnesian
mountains. Thrasybulus, the hero of the Restoration, is great even among
the great names of Greek history. We can imagine him first seizing the
fortress with his handful of seventy followers, and then, through months
of waiting and fighting and watching, looking down on the desired city,
planning how he shall restore the exiled patriots to Athens, and Athens
to herself. We can picture the fierce snow-storm, filling those wild
gorges, which aided in driving back the knights and hoplites of the
Thirty. Later he swoops down to Acharnæ, surprises and routs the
unpatriotic Athenians together with the Spartan garrison which the
Thirty, to their dishonour, had admitted to the Acropolis. Finally he
descends to Piræus, joins battle with the “City Party,” breaks the power
of the Thirty and makes the name of “the men from Phyle” a symbol of
patriotism which, see it where we may on the pages of Lysias or
Xenophon, claims the eye like illuminated initials and rubrics of

At Chasia, the farming village of the foothills whence the path ascends
to Phyle, women, standing in their doorways with busy distaff in hand,
or energetic but courteous men, ready to discuss politics or crops,
recall the simplicity and charm of country life of hill and plain known
to us from Aristophanes and Menander.

Acharnæ itself must have occupied the district between Epano-Liossia,
the nearest railway station to Chasia, and the charming modern village
of Menidi whose unspoiled peasants, close to the outskirts of Athens,
retain many a reminder of the country demesmen. The charcoal-burners of
Aristophanes or Menander would now be compelled to go further up the
mountain slopes to obtain the tree-stumps for their “Parnesian coals.”
Nor is the famous ivy of Acharnæ now in evidence. The Acharnians, as
Pausanias tells us, called Dionysus =“Ivy”= because the ivy plant first
appeared on their soil. In the Greek Anthology we learn that Sophocles
often wore a wreath of Acharnian ivy, and in an epigram of Simmias the
ivy climbs over his tomb which, as it was alleged, had its place in the
burying ground of the Sophocles family beside the neighbouring road to

                  “Gently, ivy, gently twine,
                    With pale tresses creep and seize
                    On the tomb of Sophocles;
                  Where the soft and clustering vine
                    Droops its tendrils to the ground.
                    Petals of the rose, around
                  Spread your fragrant anodyne
                    For his gracious speech profound,
                  Muses and the Graces blending,
                  Honeyed charm to wisdom lending.”

In the “Acharnians” of Aristophanes the demesman Dicæopolis, shut up in
the city by the war, grows tired of hearing: “Buy, buy!” when he would
have “coals, vinegar or oil,” commodities to be had for nothing at home
in the country. He therefore makes a private and personal treaty of
peace, goes back to Acharnæ and proceeds to celebrate the rural
Dinoysia. The revel is on and the wife and mother warns the daughter,
who is to officiate as basket-bearer, to take precautions,—

         “Lest some one ere you know it nibble off your gold.”

To-day the peasant girls of Menidi without fear display on their persons
at the Easter dances their abundant dowries of gold and silver. As the
Phallic procession moves off, Dicæopolis wisely sends his pretty wife to
a place of safety:—

       “You, wife, up with you to the roof and watch from there;
       And _you_, lead on!”

At this juncture the chorus of Acharnian men rush in, with the bosoms of
their gowns full of stones, indignant at the thought of peace when their
vines have been cut by the enemy. They are a sturdy lot. They had
contributed a Highland regiment at Marathon; they are regular “old
Hickories,” “hardwood-charcoal men, tough as oak, hard-maple men,” and
they are ready to stone Dicæopolis. He gains time, however, for a parley
by seizing for a hostage a basket of their charcoals and dressing it up
as a baby.

[Illustration: MENANDER]

Menander, also, in his recently discovered “Arbitration” scene, gives
details of an encounter between a shepherd and a charcoal man somewhere
in this Acharnæ district, evidently in the public “clearings” lying
between the farm-lands and the undisturbed forests. The shepherd Daos
tells a well-to-do property owner, who happens by and is selected to
arbitrate the dispute, how,—

          “Within this bushy thicket here, hard by this place,
          My flock I was a-herding, now, perhaps, good sir,
          Some thirty days gone by, and I was all alone,
          When I came on a little infant child exposed
          With necklaces and some such other trumpery.”

He debates whether he can afford to save and rear the child. Next
morning, still perplexed, “I go,” he says,—

                                 “back unto my flock again
         At daybreak. Comes this fellow—he’s a charcoal-man—
         Unto this self-same place to cut out stumps of trees.
         Now he had had acquaintance with me back of this,
         And so we talked together.”

One of the main sources of the Cephisus is at the foot of Pentelicus.
Here the village of Kephisia with its generous spring and noble plane
tree still retains its charm and recalls the “Attic Nights” of Aulus
Gellius. As terminus of a short railway from Athens, it is a convenient
starting-place for various excursions in Attica. An easy drive northward
across the plain brings one to Tatoï where King George has his summer
residence at the ancient Decelea, which the Spartans occupied in the
Peloponnesian War to cut off the grain supply which came by this way
from Eubœa. But cruel memories of the contest with Sparta are forgotten
amidst the unusual charm of the surroundings. The magnificent
low-spreading pine trees are a surprise to many visitors unaccustomed to
this variety, and, as one looks southward, Pentelicus, usually seen from
Athens as a long ridge, confronts the spectator, head on, with
unfamiliar and uncompromising majesty. In the near foreground olive
groves and luxuriant fields of anemones and poppies invite to a long

The Oropus district on the Euripus, north of Parnes, belongs
geographically to Bœotia. As one descends on the northern side of the
mountain the view is more suggestive of Switzerland than of rugged
Attica. The fertile plain of the Asopus is green and wooded; the Euripus
winding between the hedgerows of mountains on either side seems, even
from the lofty summit of Pentelicus, more like a series of inland lakes
than a continuous arm of the sea; beyond, the dorsal spine of the Delph,
gleaming white with snow, crowns the blue Eubœan mountains. A marble
relief, found at the port of Oropus, recalls the principal literary
association outside of the shifting scenes in military history.
Amphiaraus, the seer and hero, is represented in his chariot as he is
about to disappear in the earth and his horses start back from the
yawning chasm. In the Æschylean story Amphiaraus “the one just man” is
included against his will among the invaders, the “Seven against
Thebes,” and is represented as falling with the rest at Thebes. Of him
were written the famous lines which, when spoken in the Athenian
theatre, turned the eyes of all the spectators upon “Aristides the

      “‘Now as for me, know well, I shall enrich this land,
      A priest entombèd deep beneath this hostile soil.
      Let’s fight. No death dishonour bringing I await.’
      Thus spoke the seer while brandishing his good round shield
      Of solid bronze. But no device was on his shield,
      For not to seem the best he wishes, but to be,
      While harvesting the fertile furrow of his mind
      Wherefrom an honest crop of counsels springs to birth.”

Amphiaraus was deified throughout Greece, but he had his chief sanctuary
near Oropus in a glen where the nightingales sing among the plane trees
and the oleanders. Here may be seen the remains of his temple, as god of
healing; the great altar; the sacred spring by the plane trees where the
grateful convalescents threw in their thanksgiving coins. Here were
found, in the ruined theatre, five gracefully carved chairs of honour,
like the three found at Rhamnus.

Rhamnus is on the coast near the southern mouth of the Euripus, and is
one of the most beautiful and secluded places in the whole peninsula. As
a visit to this northeast corner is needful to complete the physical
outline of Attica, so the contours of Greek character will be sharpened
here in the sanctuary of Nemesis, the dread goddess of Retribution,
whose warning presence hovered continually in the background of Greek
consciousness. Her beautiful statue, made perhaps by Phidias or his
pupils, was fittingly set up in this place near the mouth of the Euripus
where the Persian fleet had sailed through to the crushing rebuke at
Marathon. Pausanias calmly states that this statue, dedicated to “the
goddess most inexorable of all towards overweening men,” was made by
Phidias out of some “Parian marble which the Persians, as if the victory
were already won, carried with them for the erection of a trophy.” If we
could credit this statement it would enlarge the itinerary of the meagre
fragments of the colossal statue now in the British Museum.

At Rhamnus are to be seen the remains of two temples, one dedicated to
Nemesis, and the other probably to Themis, the mother of Prometheus, and
identified by Æschylus, following Attic tradition, with Mother Earth
herself—“one form for many names.” Situated at the head of a glen,
banked-up by a marble terrace and shaded by myrtle, green fir trees and
shrubbery, the ruins look down upon the marble walls and towers of the
ancient acropolis of Rhamnus occupying a rocky, self-fortified hill that
juts out into the channel. Beyond the Euripus the mountains fill in the

Unwary speech, insolent success or immoderate, though innocent, good
fortune might call down the retribution of Nemesis. Like our
superstitious formula, “Knock on wood,” it was a common device in Greek
to deprecate the divine envy towards arrogant speech, by saying: “I
being but human make obeisance to Adrasteia,” or, the equivalent, “to
Nemesis.” Pindar describes the happy Hyperboreans as set free from this
scrupulous anxiety, ever present to mortal men:—

  “And for that sacred race nor pestilence, nor deadening age is blended
  in their lot. Apart from war and toil they dwell, acquittal winning
  from exacting Nemesis.”

Near the cheerful modern village of Marathona in the valley of Avlona
above the plain of Marathon are remains of an ancient gateway to the
villa of Herodes Atticus. The inscription placed over his portal by this
beneficent humanist and teacher was: “The Gate of Immortal Unanimity.” A
few miles to the southwest, on the northern slope of Pentelicus, the
American school excavated on an upland farm, called Dionyso, the remains
of the ancient Icaria, the earliest Attic home of Dionysus and the
birthplace of Thespis, the father of Attic tragedy. An epigram in the
Anthology by Dioscorides records the claims of Thespis:—

            “Thespis am I, who the tragedy strain
              Shaped for the masque and was first to combine
            Charms that were new when Bacchus would fain
              Marshal his chorus, stained with wine.
            Figs Attic grown, or a goat was the prize
            Won in the contests, till new I devise.
            They that come after all this will revise,
              Myriad years reshape, refine,
              Little it troubles me—mine are mine.”

Nothing adventitious is needed to call forth a certain solemn elation at
the first sight of the plain of Marathon. But the sunlight of a February
day, when the anemones are bright by the wayside, will blend an
unforgettable natural beauty with the suggestions of a great moment in
human history. The level plain is hemmed in by an amphitheatre of
mountains; the promontory Cynosura runs down like a natural breakwater
from the north, and the shore curves gracefully inward as if enticing
seafarers to beach their galleys where the blue water breaks in soft
white upon the shining sand. When we climb the isolated “soros,” the
great mound heaped up over the dead warriors, and pass in review the
vivid details of the battle as given by Herodotus, there emerges, even
after all exaggeration has been neutralized by the strictures of some
modern iconoclast, a grateful and redoubled admiration for the
unflinching loyalty to liberty displayed by the individual soldiers and
even more for the consummate skill of the commanders. The Athenians with
the help of the Platæans repelled forever the reëstablishing of a despot
in Attica, and Athens herself unconsciously entered upon what was to be
the intellectual and moral trusteeship of Occidental civilization.
Demosthenes, more than a century later, amidst the ruins of political
liberty, could foreshadow a destiny greater than material success. He
cites the great words of Simonides that had drifted down from Marathon
and could be used with pathetic propriety of the dead at Chæronea. He
bids his fellow citizens bow, if need be, under the strokes of unfeeling
fortune, but reject all thought of having erred in their patriotic
struggle against Macedon. He bursts forth with that impassioned oath by
the dead heroes that thrills each generation born to cherish, or to long
for liberty: “It cannot be, it cannot be, Athenians, that ye erred in
braving danger on behalf of freedom and the safety of us all. No, by
those of our fathers, fore-fighters in the battle’s brunt at Marathon!
No, by those who stood shoulder unto shoulder at Platæa! No, by those
who fought the naval fights at Salamis or in the ships off Artemisium!”

Marathon, as opening the great contest with Persia, had given the
Athenians the proud distinction of being champions in the van for
Hellas. Simonides had so hailed them:—

  “Athenians, fore-fighters for the Hellenes all, laid low at Marathon
  the power of the gold-decked Medes.”

Within the mound beneath our feet lies buried with the rest Cynegirus
the valiant brother of Æschylus. The poet himself fought in the battle
and lived to immortalize his city and himself by his Titanic genius. But
in far off Sicily, when his death approached, ignoring his fame as a
poet, he turned with eager longing to the distant day and plain of
Marathon. To him the battlefield was a consecrated close, an “Alsos”
like the Altis of Olympia. Almost as if envying his brother and other
companions-in-arms, buried on the battlefield in their native land, he
writes as his own epitaph:—

 “Æschylus, son of Euphorion, here an Athenian lieth,
   Wheatfields of Gela his tomb waving around and above;
 Marathon’s glebe-land could tell you the tale of his valour approvèd,
   Aye and the long-haired Mede knew of it, knew of it well.”

The carriage road that leads back to Athens around the southern end of
Pentelicus again combines beautiful landscape with historic association.
By this road the Persians had thought to move with unimpeded might upon
unwalled Athens. Instead, the soldier Eucles[18] (or perhaps Thersippus)
brought the swift news to the rejoicing city, followed soon by the
Athenian army, who marched from their camp by the Marathonian Heracleum
and encamped in the Cynosarges gymnasium, also dedicated to Heracles,
south-west of Athens. Here looking down upon the Saronic Gulf they were
ready to repel the great host of Persia which was already rounding
Sunium. Games in honour of Heracles were celebrated at Marathon, and
Euripides, in his “Heracleidæ,” alludes, though vaguely, to the
Marathonian tetrapolis as one of the great Attic centres of the worship
of Heracles. The Platæans by their presence at Marathon won the lasting
and active friendship of Athens, and it was their city that gave the
name to the final crushing defeat of the Persians under the combined
Greek allies. The Spartans, detained at home by convenient scruples
until the full moon gave them the signal to start, arrived at Athens too
late for the battle of Marathon, but, as Herodotus charmingly remarks,
“they none the less wished to take a look at the Medes and, going out to
Marathon, they had a look.”

Footnote 18:

  See chapter xviii, p. 422. This incident, not given by Herodotus, is
  recorded by Plutarch (_De Gloria Atheniensium_, 3), who says that most
  authorities give the name of the runner as Eucles but Heracleides
  Ponticus calls him Thersippus. The soldier, as he tells us, ran the
  twenty-six miles in full armour and, on reaching the city, with his
  last breath exclaimed: Χαίρετε καὶ χαίρομεν, “Fare well! we are faring
  well,” or—the double meaning is elusive—“Greetings! Rejoice, we too
  are rejoicing!” Browning followed Lucian’s later version, which is
  apparently a _contaminatio_ with the story of Phidippides, the courier
  between Sparta and Athens, for which see chapter iii, p. 72.

On the east coast of Attica, between Marathon and Sunium, are Brauron,
“lovely” Prasiæ, and Thoricus. These with Markopoulo and other sites in
the southern inland plain, Mesogia, have been yielding a wealth of
prehistoric remains that fill out more and more the dim background of
antiquity. Thoricus, a bay some six miles north of Sunium, was the
birthplace of Philonis, “the daughter of the morning star,” and
grandmother of Thamyris, the Thracian bard who dared to contend with the
Muses. The inhabitants were not unmindful of their traditions and built
a theatre, unique by reason of its oval orchestra. It is in ruins, but
the absence of all traces of a stage seem to date it as of the best
classic period. Laurium, just below, is the terminus of the railroad.
Its silver mines, now worked chiefly for lead, play an important rôle in
Greek history. The chorus in the “Persians” of Æschylus explains to
Queen Atossa that the source of the Athenian sinews of war is—

           “A fountain running silver, treasure of the land.”

The standard coins of Athens, of various denominations, stamped with an
archaic Athena head on the obverse and the owl on the reverse, are
referred to in the “Birds” of Aristophanes as Lauriot owls:—

 “First, what every Judge amongst you most of all desires to win,
 Little Lauriotic owlets shall be always flocking in.
 Ye shall find them all about you, as the dainty brood increases,
 Building nests within your purses, hatching little silver pieces.”[19]

When the Spartans occupied Attica in 413 B. C., they cut off Athenian
access to the mines, and Plutarch tells us how a slave described a hoard
of Athenian money secreted by the Spartan Gylippus under his roof-tiles
as “numerous owls roosting under his Cerameicus.”

Footnote 19:

  Translated by Rogers.

The promontory of Sunium, the prow of Attica, breasts the Ægean, and the
white temple columns, beautiful in their ruin, stand up boldly like the
Samothracian Nike upon an advancing trireme. The view from the
precipitous bluff is one of surpassing beauty, with the glistening white
of the marble against the nearer foreground of green and against the
blue of the overarching sky and of the wide expanse of water. The eye
sweeps from Ægina to the opposite shore of Argolis and around to the
“glittering Cyclades” scattered over the Ægean, while far to the south,
seventy miles away, Mount St. Elias on Melos in clear weather lifts its
lofty cone into view, the outline of the island being sunk, like a
vessel’s hull, below the horizon. On the Acropolis at Athens was
preserved the memory of the contest between Athena and Poseidon, and at
Sunium each of these divinities had a temple. Poseidon has here retained
the supremacy, as was fitting, and only the foundation walls remain of
Athena’s temple on the lower terrace. The Athenians dedicated at Sunium
to Poseidon one of the triremes captured at Salamis, and here, on
occasion of the quadrennial festival held in honour of the sea-god, the
Æginetans seized the festal galley full of Athenian dignitaries. A
defendant, in one of Lysias’s speeches, tells how he had “won in the
trireme race off Sunium,” which was part of the _panegyris_. In
Aristophanes the chorus of Knights cry out to “Poseidon, lord of horses,
rejoicing in the bronze-shod hoof-beats and the neigh of steeds and
swift blue prows of triremes,”—

                    “Come hither to our chorus,
                    Raise thy golden trident for us,
                      Thee at Sunium we praise
                      Whom the dolphin band obeys.”


  Temple of Poseidon. The Ægean Sea

To catalogue the ships, famous in Greek story, that have sighted or
rounded this headland would cause to pass in review a mighty and a
motley fleet. Nestor tells Telemachus how, sailing home with Menelaus
from Troy, they lost their pilot,—

    “When that we came unto Sunium sacred, the headland of Athens.”

And Sophocles’s chorus of Salaminian sailors long in Troyland for their
native shores:—

                “O there I would I might be,
                  Where Sunium’s spreading foreland
                Hangs over the surge of the sea,
                  That straightway our Athens, the holy,
                Might be greeted and hailed by me.”

Vessels of commerce or war would double it, bound from Athens to the
Ægean or to Ionia, and grain transports sailing to Athens from the
Euxine. The Persian warships backing out from the inhospitable bay of
Marathon “sailed around Sunium, making haste to anticipate the Athenians
in arriving at the city.” The vessel of Theseus sailed past it bringing
back safe from Crete the Athenian youths and maidens, and, in after
days, the look-out, posted at Sunium, hastened back to Athens to say
that the mission-ship from Delos had been sighted and was beating its
way up the Saronic gulf to put an end, on its arrival, at once to the
sacred holiday and to the life of Socrates.

On the west coast of Attica the place of chief interest, in connection
with Greek letters, is Vari, near the promontory of Zoster, where Mount
Hymettus comes down to the sea. Herodotus tells us that the frightened
Persians, escaping from Salamis, thought that the long rocks running out
at Zoster were some more hostile ships and “went fleeing for a long
distance” until they recognised their mistake. Some little distance
inland on the side of Hymettus, back of the town of Vari, is a grotto
dedicated to the Nymphs and also sacred to the Graces, to Pan, and to
Apollo. There is a tradition that the infant Plato was taken to Hymettus
by his parents, who there sacrificed on his behalf to Pan, the Nymphs
and Apollo.

The straits which interrupt the continuity of Mount Ægaleus with Salamis
could not avail to dissever the island from Attica. The northwestern
promontory, indeed, comes even closer to the outjutting Nisæan peninsula
of the Megarid, and it was inevitable that Megara and Athens should
contend for this “island of desire.” The energy of Solon at the
beginning of the sixth century adjudicated the dispute with finality,
and Salamis was permanently incorporated as an essential part of Attica.
To a seafaring folk triremes and sailing craft could annul the
interrupting sea, and the mainland and island were still more firmly
cemented by the blood of Persian and Greek at the great sea-fight.

The ancestral hero of Salamis was Aias (“Ajax”), the son of Telamon.
Pausanias saw a stone near the harbour upon which Telamon sat, as it was
said, looking after his children departing to join the Greek fleet at
Aulis. When Aias fell upon his sword before Troy the hyacinth, according
to the usual tale, sprang up inscribed with the exclamation of woe “Ai!
ai!” the first syllable of his name. But, as Pausanias would have it, a
local flower, different from the hyacinth, made its appearance in
Salamis inscribed with the same letters. Ajax, as was to be expected,
appeared and offered divine aid to the Greeks at the battle of Salamis.
In his honour the “Aianteia” festival was celebrated, and the young
Athenian ephebi used to go over annually to contend at Salamis in
friendly rivalry with the Salaminian youth in foot-races and in
boat-races resembling those rowed from Munychia to the Cantharus harbour
in Piræus. In addition to the Ajax traditions, here, as elsewhere, other
sagas were invented or reshaped to give personification to the remote
past and to be handed down to satisfy the pride of succeeding
generations. Solon was a more tangible memory, and Demosthenes, in
speaking of his statue standing in the market-place of Salamis, quotes
the Salaminians as saying: “This statue was set up not yet fifty years

But the dominant memory evoked by the name of Salamis is, naturally, the
defeat of the Persians in the narrow straits. For the Athenians
everything was at stake. The wives and children who had not been sent to
the Peloponnesus were on the island. Euripides, according to an enticing
tradition, was born there at the time of the battle. Xerxes sat on his
throne on the mainland to overawe disaffection and to watch the
spectacle. He had no doubt as to the outcome. His fleet was numerous
enough to allow him to detach the Egyptian squadron for guarding the
narrow exit of the northwest channel and still to leave more ships than
could be used for closing in the eastern approaches. The Greeks were
thus hemmed in, and the unwilling allies from the Peloponnesus were
forced to remain and give battle instead of withdrawing to the Isthmus.
Themistocles, the great admiral, had his will.

To-day, if one sails in a small boat across from Piræus to the harbour
of the modern Ambelaki, the details of the battle as narrated by
Æschylus and Herodotus explain themselves. The long, bare reef of
Psyttaleia cumbers the entrance to the channel. The messenger, in the
“Persians” of Æschylus, in describing to the Queen Mother the scene
enacted on this tiny island, introduces Pan, the old ally at Marathon:—

          “An island lies before the shores of Salamis;
          ’Tis small, for ships a risky mooring, but its reef,
          Sea-swept, dance-loving Pan frequents.”

Here Xerxes stationed a picked body of Persians to save their friends
and to slay the Greeks escaping from the wreckage, which, it was plain
to foresee, would come bearing down upon the reef.

Beyond Psyttaleia and overlapping it is the long spit of land Cynosura
(“Dog’s-tail”), like in name and shape to the promontory at Marathon.
The result of the contest in this narrow channel is not so surprising as
is the foresight of Themistocles and the courage of the Greeks in
availing themselves with irresistible daring of the overconfidence of
Xerxes. Æschylus’s account betrays the vivid memories of an actual
eye-witness. The vessels took position by night. Across the desolated
plain of Attica the new Day, “by white steeds drawn, her radiance fair
to see, held all the land.” To the astonishment of the Persians, the
Greeks, instead of fleeing, raised high their shout of happy omen, and
Echo, mate of dance-loving Pan, “back from the island rock returned a
shrill and pealing cry of joy.” The Persian messenger continues:—

       “Fell fear on all of us barbarians, deceived
       In expectation. For the Greeks a noble hymn
       Were singing, not as though in flight, but like to men
       Starting for battle with courageous heart. And then
       The trumpet’s blare set all of them aflame. Therewith
       The even dash of oar-blades, at the word, bit deep
       The brine and quickly all of them were visible.
       The right wing in good order first led forth, and next
       Came out and on the armament entire. Aye then,
       As they came onward, loud the cry that reached our ears:
       ‘Sons of the Hellenes! On! Set free your native land!
       Your children free, your wives, ancestral shrines of gods
       And tombs of fathers’ fathers! Now for all we strive!’”

The “jargon” of the Persian host rolled back reply. A Greek ship was the
first to grapple. Bronze beak smote beak. Triremes turned keel

      “Until the water was no longer to be seen,
      With wreckage of slain men and splintered vessels packed.
      The corpses beached. They filled the ridges and the shores.”

Whether dead or alive the Persians found no refuge upon land. Aristides
with his men, instead of the picked Persians, was now on Psyttaleia to
save or to destroy. The chorus of Persian women, as they hear the news,
imagine their dead now floating with the tide, now, like struggling
swimmers, rising to the waves. The leader cries:—

                  “Woe, woe is me!
                  Our dear ones lost,
                  By the sea’s swell tossed
                  Their bodies, borne along the main,
                  Rise and dip, and rise again!”

It was not unnatural that the ineffaceable memory of the sea covered
with wreckage and the dead should reappear, when Æschylus, in the
“Agamemnon,” describes the morning after the storm that wrecked the
ships returning from Troy:—

            “When rose the brilliant light of Helios, we see
            Th’ Ægean, spread out far and wide, a-blossoming
            With wrecks of ships and corpses of Achæan men.”

Apart from the details of the battle, the “Persians” is noticeable for
the method by which the poet introduces his ethical lesson. The ghost of
the great Darius suddenly appears in the orchestra and attributes the
defeat of Xerxes to his presumption in fettering “like a slave” the
“sacred” Hellespont. Æschylus reiterates his favourite doctrine: “When
Insolence puts forth the bloom of Atè, the harvest reaped is one of many
tears.” And when later Xerxes himself arrives, the chorus with
un-oriental frankness says: “Xerxes has packed Hades full with

The “Persæ” of Timotheus, a sensational find of the year 1902, with its
fantastic and overloaded epithets and the half-comic scene of the
drowning Persian spitting out bitter brine and reproaches together, is a
curious scholium upon Æschylus’s poem. The description of the dead upon
the sea is thus retouched:—

  “Choked was the sea, star-spangled with the corpses reft of souls
  departing with the failing breath. The beaches were weighed down.
  Other some upon the jutting spits of land were seated all a-shiver in
  their nakedness.”

The love of free men for a free country saved Attica. Euripides, despite
the devastation of the country, might well call his land “unsacked,”
“inviolate.” It was true of the unyielding citizens who, whether upon
the mainland or self-exiled upon their triremes, refused all dealings
with the despot. Plutarch tells us that Xerxes after Salamis sought to
detach the Athenians from the national cause by promises of liberty and
riches for themselves. The Lacedæmonians, fearing lest they might yield
to the royal bribery, attempted to remonstrate, but Aristides bade the
ambassadors say at Sparta: “Neither above ground nor below is there
enough gold for the Athenians to accept in preference to the liberty of
the Hellenes.”

It may be that the visitor to Salamis, as his little craft scuds swiftly
home past Cynosura and Psyttaleia, sees the dark clouds, from which but
now came rain, roll off towards Eleusis, while Attica, the islands, and
the western mountains merge once more in the accustomed beauty of the
translucent atmosphere. He may, perhaps, harbour the thought that under
such a sky, when the war-clouds had finally withdrawn, the demesmen of
country and of town came back to their devastated but ransomed Attica.

                              CHAPTER VIII

    “That torch-lit strand whereon the Goddesses reverèd foster
    mystic rites and dread for mortal men whose lips the ministrant
    Eumolpidæ have locked in golden silence.”

                                       SOPHOCLES, _Œdipus Coloneus_.

                     “Go thou to Attica,
           Fail not to see those great nights of Demeter,
                     Mystical, holy.
           There thou shalt win thee a mind that is care-free
                     Even while living,
           And when thou joinest that major assembly
                     Light shall thy heart be.”

                                          CRINAGORAS, _Greek Anthology_.

Eleusis, like Delphi, was a centre of Greek religious life, but its
Panhellenism was of a later date and a direct consequence of the power
of Athens within whose territory it lay. Although the worship of
nature’s productivity, under the form of Demeter losing her daughter
Persephone within the earth and recovering her again, was indigenous
among the early Pelasgic dwellers in Eleusis, and although upon this
native cult were grafted religious beliefs and practices imported from
Thrace, it is yet true that the Eleusinian Mysteries waxed famous only
as Athens waxed great. Once established by the most powerful city of
Greece as its highest expression of religious feeling, they drew to
their modest birthplace in the recurring Septembers of many centuries
the pious and the curious from all Greek lands. The right of initiation,
originally open only to citizens of Attica, was extended to all Greeks
and later to their Roman conquerors. In this repudiation of “barbarians”
Eleusis resembled Olympia rather than Delphi, where Persian or Scyth or
African might consult Apollo.

But these three centres of Panhellenic life alike present a history
which begins in the dim age of mythology and ends, several centuries
after the beginning of our era, in the final clash of Christianity with
Paganism. Perhaps the history of Eleusis best deserves the name of
“sacred.” Playing no appreciable part in secular events, the town was
repeatedly the scene of religious events which were of unequalled
spiritual importance. Here an early nature cult, sister to savage rites
in many parts of the world, became not only a beautified worship of the
physical universe but also an expression of a hope in immortality. “The
fable of Kore (the Daughter) is as much the image of the destiny of man
after death as it is that of the reproduction of vegetative life by
means of the seed committed to the earth.”[20]

Footnote 20:

  See articles by François Lenormant in the _Contemporary Review_, 1880.

Except for the proximity of Eleusis to Athens there was nothing in the
physical qualities of the town to make the Eleusinian mysteries greater
than any others. Its loveliness befitted rather than promoted the
worship of the Earth Goddesses. Their story clung also to the seaward
looking ledges of “steep Cnidos,” where was found the noble statue of
Demeter that is now in the British Museum, and to the blossoming fields
of Sicilian Enna. The Corn-Mother had her shrines on Bœotian farms and
in the mountain caverns of Arcadia, and in more than one locality her
worship was as mysterious and secret as the processes of nature. And yet
the religious genius of Athens could have had no more exquisite stage
than Eleusis for its larger operations. Sheltered by hills, washed by
the sea and commanding a goodly plain, it is still, even in its poverty,
one of the fairest places in Greece. The Thriasian plain, in the
southwestern portion of which, on a low hill, lies the town, is
separated from the plain of Athens by the long ridge of Mount Ægaleus
and from the plain of Megara by the chain of hills that ends in the twin
peaks of the Kerata, or “Horns,” familiar objects in the westward view
from the Acropolis of Athens. The mountains of Salamis also seem to
contribute to the girdling of Eleusis, so near do they rise across the
curving and almost landlocked bay. Empurpled by shadows, the mountains
and the sea are like the deep blue robe of the mourning Demeter. Subdued
to the delicate and luminous tint of the sky they seem like the veil
within whose folds gleamed the cornlike yellow of her hair. Near the
sea, close around Eleusis, there are still fertile grain fields to
recall that—

      “Here first the fruitful corn upreared its bristling ears.”

The historical development of the Eleusinian mysteries naturally
followed the general development of Greek religious thought. To the
primitive duality of Demeter and Persephone was added Dionysus, lord of
the elements, when he had once been accepted by the Athens of
Pisistratus. At Eleusis he appeared as the child Iacchus. Later, under
the influences of the strange school of thought known as “Orphic,” at
once mystical and gross, this multiple god became Zagreus, through whose
savage death man, otherwise destined to be forever brute, came to
partake of the divine nature. But in all periods the mysteries “were
founded on the adoration of nature, its forces and phenomena, conceived
rather than observed, interpreted by the imagination and not by reason,
transformed into divine figures and histories by a kind of theological
poetry which went off into pantheism on the one side and into
anthropomorphism on the other.”

In this theological poetry the position of power was held by the long
Homeric Hymn to Demeter, although it antedates the presence of Iacchus
at Eleusis and at least overlooks the importance of Triptolemus, the
young prince of the city, to whom the Earth-Mother gave the first
seed-corn and the commission to teach the art of husbandry throughout
the world. The representation of this act was left for fifth century
sculpture, if we may so interpret the beautiful relief discovered at
Eleusis and preserved in the National Museum. Nor is there more than
casual mention of Eumolpus, the legendary first priest and the eponymous
ancestor of the priestly family in Athens which was charged with the
care of Demeter’s worship. But the Hymn told flawlessly the central
story of Demeter and Persephone: the ravishment of Persephone by Hades
as she was picking roses and crocuses, violets and irises and the
marvelous narcissus which the earth bore to be her snare; the grief of
Demeter as she heard the mountain peaks and the deep sea echo her
child’s cry, her wandering search, her unrecognised sojourn at fragrant
Eleusis in the courteous household of the king, and her retarding of the
fruits of the earth; the reunion of mother and daughter for two thirds
of the year, and the sending up once more of the grain from the rich
fields and the burgeoning of the leaves and flowers; and, finally, the
command of the Goddess that the people of Eleusis should build her a
great temple and an altar below the town and the steep wall, above the
spring Callichorus on the jutting rock.

Homer himself had not known this story. Hesiod had lacked the Ionic gift
to tell it. Euripides, in a later generation, was led astray by his
strain of Orphic imagination which needed the roar of rivers and the
thunder of the sea, the wail of flutes and the clatter of the tambourine
to mark the frenzy of a suffering godhead. The Greeks as a people
preferred a story in which nature perishes and blooms again, in which
grief and love fight with death, while the dignity of life is
unassailed, and the beauty of hills and sea, flowers and welling springs
irradiates its tragedies.

Only the external facts concerning the celebrations are open to us. The
secrets of the two successive initiations, one preparatory to the other,
were so jealously hidden by the ancient initiates that the keenest
scholarship has not been able to discover them in literature or in art.
Alcibiades, idolized as he was, could not secure acquittal from the
suspicion of having parodied the mysteries. Silence was enjoined by
religion, enforced by law. This reserve about holy things, which has
appealed to some moderns as the “chief lesson and culminating grace
derived from Eleusis,” was proclaimed not only as a necessary condition
but also as an integral part of initiation, “imitating,” as Strabo
expressed it, “the nature of the godhead which is forever eluding our
senses.” Knowledge of the outward events of the festival has been
painstakingly gathered from passages in Athenian literature, a few
inscriptions, the excavated ruins, vases and other works of art, and
from the controversial literature, both Christian and pagan, of the
early centuries of our era.

The “Mysteries” lasted nine days, the time of Demeter’s wanderings.
Prior to them the youths—ephebi—of Athens went to Eleusis and brought
thence certain sacred objects which were to be used in the later
procession. On the 15th of Boedromion, or September, near the time of
sowing, the “mystæ,” who in the early spring month of Anthesterion, the
season of planting, had participated in the Lesser Mysteries in a suburb
of Athens, were assembled at the Stoa Pœcile to listen to sundry
proclamations. The following day was one of purification. The cry went
out, “seawards, O mystæ,” and every candidate washed himself and his
sacrificial pig in the bay near Eleusis, following the Greek feeling
that the sea purges from the evils of earth. For two more days
sacrifices were carried on at Athens. And then on the 19th or the 20th
came the great procession to escort the image of the child Iacchus,
myrtle-crowned and carrying in his hand a torch, back to his Eleusinian
home. The day was a public holiday. Great crowds gathered along the
Sacred Way to watch the long line of ephebi, mystics, priests and
officials, who, wearing myrtle and bearing torches, left the Dipylon
Gate early in the morning and reached the precinct at Eleusis after
nightfall, when the mysterious shadows were dispelled only by the yellow
glare of thousands upon thousands of torches and by the lights that
streamed from the sacred buildings.

The modern highroad follows very nearly the Sacred Way. Few travellers
now brave the heat and dust of an Attic September, but in some “month of
flowers” gain their impressions of the beauty of the road, which still
leads over the Cephisus, past gray-green olive groves, up through the
pine-clad pass of Mount Ægaleus, and down again to wind closely beside
the curved shore of the sea. In antiquity the Sacred Way was lined with
tombs and temples and shrines. Moderns are detained only by the lovely
mediæval Convent of Daphne, at the top of the pass, but the ancient
procession lingered not only at the Temple of Apollo which occupied this
spot, but at many other sacred stations, to offer sacrifices, sing
hymns, and engage in dances, solemn or joyous or wild. This was the
reason for leaving Athens so early to cover only thirteen miles before
another sunrise. The last part of the way followed the “torchlit strand”
by night. The “voices of the night,” the moving feet of the multitude
owned Iacchus as lord, with whom the stars also danced, the stars whose
breath is fire. And to the stars of Sophocles Euripides added the
elemental joy of moon and sea:—

            “When the stars of the ether of Zeus lead out,
            And the moon glides on as the dancers’ queen,
            And the daughters of Nereus join the rout
            Adown the sea or along the swirl
            Of the rivers eternal that rush and whirl—
            The ether, the moon, and the streams and the sea
            They dance to honour Persephone,
            The maiden crowned with the golden sheen,
            And Demeter the Mother—ah, Dread is she!”


The singing of the vast throngs, breaking out at sunrise, changing its
themes in fresh enthusiasms through the long day and swelling by night
into triumphant volume, must have been unforgettable. Herodotus relates
that in the gloomy time when Athens was abandoned, and its plain laid
waste by Xerxes, even a Medizing exile was haunted by its ghostly
echoes. Dicæus of Athens chanced to be in the Thriasian plain with
Demaratus of Sparta, and saw a cloud of dust advancing from Eleusis,
such as a host of thirty thousand men might raise. As he was wondering
who the men could possibly be, a sound reached his ear and he thought
that he recognised the mystic hymn of Iacchus. Even as they looked, the
dust became a cloud and sailed away to Salamis, making for the station
of the Grecian fleet. This was a sign to the Athenian that the gods of
Eleusis would destroy the fleet of Xerxes. To us an echo of the singing
comes through the serious lyrics in the “Frogs” of Aristophanes. At the
portals of Hades a band of mystics sing over again the processional
hymns they had often sung on earth, beginning with the sunrise summons
to Iacchus to leave his Athenian shrine:—

              “O Iacchus, O Iacchus,
            Morning star that shinest nightly,
            Lo, the mead is blazing brightly,
            Age forgets its years and sadness,
            Aged knees curvet for gladness,
            Lift thy flashing torches o’er us,
            Marshal all thy blameless train,
    Lead, O lead the way before us; lead the lovely youthful Chorus
            To the marshy flowery plain.”[21]

Footnote 21:

  Translated by Rogers.

The days at Eleusis were probably only pauses between the “great nights”
of the worship of Demeter. The nightly proceedings seem to have
consisted of three elements. The first was an imitation of Demeter’s
wanderings. The initiates went up and down the shore by the sea, their
restless torches appearing from a distance like great “swarms of
fireflies.” They sat too upon the Joyless Rock, and by meditation
endeavoured to enter into the passion of the Goddess. The second element
was some sacrament of food and drink in commemoration of the fact that
Demeter was finally persuaded by the merry Iambe to break her fast.
Finally came a series of dramatic representations in the great Hall of
Initiation, by means of which the divine story was unfolded.

It would be a mistake to suppose that if we knew more details about
these celebrations we should understand more clearly the influence that
they exerted on the minds and spirits of the celebrants. In the
mysteries, we are assured by Aristotle, the initiates did not learn
anything precisely, but received impressions, were put into a certain
frame of mind for which they had been prepared. The value of subtle
influences like these can never be apprehended save by those who have
been subjected to them. In no age, under no sanction, have men been able
to create sacred rites, whether secret or open, that could not be
construed as mummery, not only by those of a different age but even by
contemporaries who stood outside the circle of the elect. Were every
“secret” of the Eleusinian Mysteries to be recovered, we should still be
uninitiated into their higher wisdom. We should still be thrown back, as
we are at present, upon a vicarious sympathy with those who have borne
witness to the quickening of their spirits in the Eleusinian nights.
Fortunately this testimony comes from a few of the most gifted among the
Greeks. The often quoted statement of Cicero, that initiation taught men
not only to live happily but to die with a fairer hope, only repeats
what was said by his literary master, Isocrates: “Those who have
participated in the mysteries possess sweeter hopes about death and
about the whole of life.” Strangely enough, Æschylus, who was born in
Eleusis and whose plays in later times were acted there because of their
religious character, seems never to have been initiated. But Pindar and
Sophocles and Euripides and Aristophanes harboured personal hopes that
those who knew the mysteries were “blessed” in the hour of death and in
the life to come. In the “Frogs” the dead mystics end their song in
solemn peace:—

                    “O happy mystic chorus,
                    The blessed sunshine o’er us
                    On us alone is smiling,
                    In its soft sweet light;
                    On us who strive forever
                    With holy, pure endeavour
                    Alike by friend and stranger
                    To guide our steps aright.”[22]

Footnote 22:

  Translated by Rogers.

The impulse that was derived from Eleusis to lead the earthly life
aright must have had as many different results as there were
temperaments among the initiates. Andocides, merchant and orator,
reminded the Athenian judges that they had contemplated the sacred rites
in order that they might punish the guilty and save the innocent. Plato
felt that he whose memory of initiation was still fresh and who at
Eleusis had been the spectator of “many glories in the other world” must
see in every beautiful face or form that he encountered an imitation of
divine or absolute beauty toward which his spirit would go out in
reverential love.

The excavated remains of ancient Eleusis consist of ground foundations
or even fainter traces of buildings and porticoes dating from the
“Mycenæan” period to the age of the Antonines. Pisistratus, Cimon,
Pericles and Hadrian have left fragmentary records in stone of their
interest in this religious centre. The Temple of the Mysteries, which
was a great hall rather than a sanctuary, saw many changes in the course
of the centuries. The older structure of Pisistratus’s day, destroyed by
the Persians, was replaced by Pericles, perhaps according to plans by
Ictinus. Left unfinished by him, it was added to by Greek and Roman
until its boastful splendour aroused the anger of the Gothic monks who
came south with Alaric and compassed its final ruin.

Homelier memories centre in the Spring of Fair Dances (Callichorus), now
identified. Here, Pausanias tells us, “the Eleusinian women first danced
and sang in honour of the goddess,” decked perhaps like the Doric
maidens whose worship of the same goddess charmed the eyes of Alcman:—

              “We came to great Demeter’s fane, we nine,
              All maidens, all in goodly raiment clad;
              In goodly raiment clad, with necklace bright
              Of carven ivory, a radiant gleam.”

A fortunate dream prevented Pausanias from relating to the uninitiated
what he saw within the sacred precinct. In unpoisoned content,
therefore, lured by the beauty of the “white spring” which Callimachus,
the Alexandrian, included among Demeter’s gifts, the modern traveller
may sit on the temple steps and abandon thought, even as many an ancient
mystic in the autumnal days between the holy nights must have mounted to
some place of outlook whence he could watch the deep blue sea break into
foam delicate and white as the face of Persephone.

The mysteries ended on the 24th, with a public festival. At Athens games
were held, called the Eleusinia, offering as a prize a measure of barley
reaped from the field of Rharos close to the walls of Eleusis where the
first seed corn had fructified. In later times, with the general
increase of holidays, this festival was prolonged, but in the greatest
days of Athens the procession of mystics returned to the city on the
25th, with ceremonies of farewell to Persephone now leaving her mother
to return to her gloomy lord, like summer nearing the embrace of winter;
and with some final ritual, performed, it may be, at the Dipylon Gate
rather than at Eleusis, of prayer to sky and earth that the one might
impregnate and the other bear. On the curb of a sacred well before the
city gate has been found the very ancient formula, not yet outlived by
the generations of men who live upon the fruits of the earth.

The day of return gave one last opportunity for a public
demonstration—this time of hilarity. Justified by the quips and cranks
of Iambe, the initiates yielded to the impulse which in the natural man
follows close upon exaltation. At the bridge over the Cephisus the
people of the city, wearing masks, met the procession, and a carnival of
scurrilous wit ensued, which was a savoury memory to Aristophanes’s
mystics in the world of shadows. To us the recollection may bring a
sudden distrust of the sympathy with the past which, within the
unfretted silence of Eleusis, seemed completely to possess us. Like the
spectators in the comedy we get a whiff of pork. The light of the
torches reveals the vulgarities of a revelling crowd. The cymbals of the
priests, clashed only at this spot, drown the voices “of no tone.” Is
it, after all, true, as the early Christians believed, that orgies, not
prayers, have busied these men and women?

But with the crossing of the bridge the mood vanishes. The western sun
is once more adorning the Athenian Acropolis. Not only Pindar and Plato
faced this hill with a new reverence after their Eleusinian nights, but
many a simpler man and woman must have come home comforted and hopeful
to take up old burdens on the morrow. If, viewed by a Plato from the
heights of “true philosophy,” thousands who came from Eleusis were still
blind, or only partially aware of the meaning of life and death, this
was but the Greek manifestation of a universal fact: “Many are the
thyrsus-bearers but few are the mystics.”

                               CHAPTER IX

    “Not far off from the Graces’ favour falls this island’s lot.
    She keepeth civic faith and hath attained to glory in the valour
    of the sons of Æacus. Flawless is her fame from the beginning;
    for she is sung as nurse of heroes, foremost in prize-winning
    contests numerous, foremost in swift war.”


Pindar’s praise of Ægina must have been as wormwood to the Athenians,
for her Dorian blood and commercial supremacy made her their natural
rival, and her proximity fanned rivalry into hatred. Athens conquered in
the end, and time and tourists have completed the victory by turning the
island into one of the “excursions in Attica.” No longer the “eye-sore
of Piræus,” as Pericles called it, it now immeasurably enhances the
Attic landscape and beckons to its own shores those who day by day have
watched its mountainous beauty across the estranging gulf. Only on the
western side of the island, where the town of Ægina occupies the site of
the ancient capital, is the coast free from steep cliffs, and the entire
surface, as it is seen from Athens, consists of mountain-ridges crowned
by the high peak of Oros, once sacred to Zeus Panhellenios and now
bearing a chapel to Saint Elias. Toward these Æginetan hills the eye
inevitably turns whether the sullen rain-clouds are gathering, as of
old, about the highest summit, or Zeus unrolls his bluest canopy above
the deeper azure of their slopes, or whether, against the changing
sunsets, they darken into stormy purple or delicately veil themselves in
amethystine, shot with rose.

Ægina’s lodestone for modern travellers is the Doric temple on a hill
above the Bay of Marina in the northeastern part of the island. Regular
boats ply between Piræus and the harbour-town of Ægina, the route taken
by Lucian’s group of friends who hired a tiny boat at four obols a head
in order to see the islanders celebrating their famous Festival of
Hecate. From the town the temple may be reached by a ride of several
hours across the rough but fertile northern districts of the island.
Excursion boats, however, for those who have but a day, cross directly
from Piræus to the Bay of Marina, a route more nearly akin to that
followed by the Athenian ships which began the mad expedition to Sicily
by a race “as far as Ægina,” and then turned their prows toward the open
sea. From the shore of the bay it is an easy walk to the isolated
hill-top upon which the ruined temple stands. On an April day this
approach is one of vivid beauty, the bright new green of fig trees
glistening among resinous pines and the ground rioting in the colour of
many flowers. The hill-top itself offers a scene which is unsurpassed
even among the remoter islands of the Greek seas. The intense brilliance
of the very white marble columns under the cloudless sky is tempered by
the somewhat sombre green of neighbouring trees. Afar are seen the
broken coast and the varied mountains of the mainland from Megara to
Sunium. Below, in capricious loveliness, now a tranquil plain of
ultramarine, now a restless surface of sparkling crystal, stretches the
Saronic Gulf.

The temple was erected to Aphæa, protectress of women. Of the outer
colonnade enough is intact to reveal the dignity of the original
structure, but it was in the pediment sculptures that the art of Ægina
was best expressed. Preserved now in the Munich Museum, they are heirs
to the ancient fortune of many Æginetan products which were shipped to
the north and to the south, to Egypt and to the barbarous shores of the
Black Sea. These pediment groups, well known as examples of the work of
the Æginetan school of sculpture in the early part of the fifth century,
probably represented episodes of the Trojan War. This would seem to
indicate that they were produced after the victory at Salamis which
inspired so many symbolistic expressions in art and literature of the
conquest of barbarians by Greeks. Ægina distinguished herself at
Salamis, her sailors being awarded the first honours for valour. And her
older heroes had fought conspicuously in the Trojan War, the earlier act
of the long drama.


  Temple of Aphæa

But it was the personal bravery of the Æginetans rather than their
national policy which brought them glory at Salamis. The
island-commonwealth was inclined to aid the Persians, and it was the
interference of Athens at this crisis which brought on the open war
between the two maritime powers. By the middle of the fifth century
Ægina was completely conquered and made a member of the Confederacy of
Delos. Twenty years later the Dorian inhabitants were expelled and the
island freshly settled from Attica.

Ægina’s heyday had antedated that of Athens by two centuries. Her
argosies had been known in all ports where men bought or sold. Her
system of coinage and of weights and measures had set the standards for
the Greek world. At home her people displayed their restless energies in
both industrial and artistic pursuits. In literature alone were they
barren. Their claim to poetry lies only in the inspiration which one
manifestation of their energy yielded to a foreign poet.

The Æginetans were remarkable athletes as well as fighters, and Pindar
boasted that he held up a mirror to their noble deeds, and wrought for
them a necklace of the Muses, “with white ivory and gold inlaid and
coral of the lily flower gathered ’neath the ocean dew.” The young
Pytheas, indeed, who won the pancratium at Nemea, was celebrated by both
Pindar and Bacchylides, and in the ode of the latter poet there lurks
the memory of some spring visit to Ægina when the young flowers and
reeds were made into garlands, and bare-footed girls bounded like young
fawns toward the flowery hills. Pindar, in the eleven extant odes which
he wrote for Æginetan youths, mingled a “fitting draught as meed for
their toil upon the highway clear of god-inspired deeds.” His
willingness to use his best gifts in their behalf he explained by the
ancient friendship between the island and his native city, typified by
the sisterhood of the nymphs Thebe and Ægina, both beloved by Zeus. And
although he praised the athletic spirit of the Æginetans and their
justice, their defence of strangers, and the deliverance wrought by them
at Salamis “when Zeus was showering destruction far and wide and death
came thick as hail upon unnumbered men,” his most frequent theme was the
glory of their legendary heroes.

The nymph Ægina had borne Æacus, who was so just a king that at his
death the gods made him a judge in Hades. His sons were Peleus and
Telamon, their sons were Achilles and Ajax and Teucer.

  “Beyond the sources of the Nile and through the Hyperboreans they
  pass, nor is there any city so barbarian or confused in speech that it
  knoweth not the hero Peleus and his fame nor that of Ajax, son of
  Telamon, whom on his ships Alcmena’s son led forth to Troy.”

Lords of wide adventure, they drifted away from Ægina’s shores. Teucer,
son of Telamon, ruled in Cyprus, a new land, and Ajax held the Salamis
of his father. Peleus ruled in Thessalian Pthia. In the Euxine Sea
Achilles won a “shining isle,” and his son was prince in “Epirus, famed
afar, where, from Dodona on, the cattle-pasturing headlands, jutting
high, lie out against the Ionian Sea.” But at the invocation of Pindar
they gather once more in their ancient home.

Nor was the significance of human greatness absent from Pindar’s mind:—

  “Within a little space the joys of man spring up; so too they fall
  again to earth when shaken by an adverse doom. We creatures of a day!
  What’s man? What is he not?—a shadow’s dream! But when there comes a
  glory sent of God there rests on men a bright light and an age

Thus to a youth of Ægina who was lifted on the wings of hope and valour
the poet gave a warning and a larger hope.

                               CHAPTER X

    “Cities which were great aforetime now as a rule are mean, and
    those formerly were small which in my day have become great.
    Therefore, since I know that human prosperity never remains
    stationary, of both alike I shall make mention.”


On the neck of land that unites Attica to the Peloponnesus two Dorian
cities attained to prominence in the centuries intervening between
Homeric civilization and the rivalries of Sparta and Athens, those great
representatives of the Dorian and Ionian races who reduced all other
cities to the position of allies or satellites. Only before the middle
of the sixth century were Corinth and Megara powers of the first rank.

They are now stations on the way to Athens for those who enter Greece at
Patras. The railroad journey between these cities, along the coasts of
the Corinthian and Saronic Gulfs, ought to be taken in one direction or
the other by every visitor to Greece, for scarcely any other displays to
better advantage the combination of mountain, plain, and sea, which are
the triad of Greek landscape. The waters of the Corinthian Gulf, in
swift response to sun, wind, and cloud, vary from pellucid blue to
vivid, foam-flecked emerald, marked by strange bands of deep wine red.
Along its northern coast the mountains pile up in restrained and
harmonious masses of blue or purple, crowned in winter or in spring with
snowy white. At times the west wind from the ocean sweeps up this long
narrow gulf as if through a cañon, beating the waves into fury and
filling the air with cold moisture, even while the sun or the moon
denies the presence of a storm. On the other side of the Isthmus the
Saronic Gulf pushes far asunder the coasts of Attica and the
Peloponnesus and skirts on the north the littoral of Megara. From its
placid evening surface the mountains of Ægina and Salamis rise in curves
and sharp peaks of cool violet and rose. Beyond the Bay of Eleusis the
eye that has not yet seen Athens turns inland in strained waiting for
the Acropolis. Rising out of a still distant plain and bearing upon its
crest the half-realized ruins of the Parthenon, the hill of the
pilgrim’s desires becomes a reality—“and from a dream, behold, it is a
waking vision.”

This journey, of scarcely eight hours, serves also to reveal a
surprising amount of Greek territory. Taking it in the reverse
direction, the train passes through Attica, Megara, the Isthmus and
Argolis, and follows the entire northern coast line of Achæa. The
mountains across the Corinthian Gulf include not only Helicon and
Cithæron of Bœotia, and Parnassus of Phocis, but also unfamiliar peaks,
barren of the Muses, belonging to Locris, Ætolia, and Acarnania. From
Patras can be seen the low coast of the Ætolian bay on which lies
Mesolonghi, the burial-place of Byron’s heart. Near it, although unseen
from Patras, is Calydon, the scene of Meleager’s boar hunt, celebrated
by Homer and Bacchylides, Euripides and Swinburne.

Patras, the western seaport of Greece and surpassed in commercial
importance only by Athens and Piræus, is in Achæa. The name of this
province evokes Homeric memories only because it was settled by Achæans
from Thessaly. Its chief contribution to Greek life lay in the “Achæan
League” against Rome which, as Pausanias says, rose on the ruins of
Greece “like a fresh shoot on a blasted and withered trunk.” Patras
itself was unimportant until the time of Augustus, and its most valuable
associations are with the early history of Christianity. In physical
beauty, however, it is thoroughly Greek—“beautiful Patras,” Lucian
called it, by way of contrast to the knavishness of one of its
inhabitants. The epithet doubtless included not only the adornments
added by the Roman emperors but also the natural charms of its
situation. The fruitful plain, the height of Mount Voïdia in the
background, the splendid waterfront facing the mountainous Ætolian coast
combine to give a suitable welcome to Greece. This entrance is never
fairer than in the hour when the silver gray of dawn is obliterated by
the clear bloom in the sky that heralds the rising sun. The morning
light reveals outlines in naked distinctness, and tinges all surfaces
with a colour so fresh and buoyant that an immediate conviction arises
of the joyous nobility of Greek scenery and of the youthfulness which a
race so nurtured might maintain.

The plain of Megara is separated from Attica by the Kerata and from the
Isthmus by Mount Geraneia, a massive range extending across the Megarian
territory from the Corinthian to the Saronic Gulf and interposing a
rough and lofty bulwark between Central Greece and the Peloponnesus.

Megara is now an unpretentious village with very white houses which
gleam from a distance among the encircling mountains. Its site is that
of the ancient city, on the double summit of a hill above the plain
filled with vineyards, olive orchards, and bright green fields of wheat,
rye and barley. A good road leads to the coast, little more than a mile
away, where once the harbour of Nisæa focused the large sea business of
Megara. The name of the harbour kept alive the memory of Nisus, son of
Athenian Pandion, the first king of Megara (the Ionians perhaps preceded
the Dorians in its occupation), as the “island of Minoa,”[23] now the
promontory of St. George, recalled the invasion by Minos of Crete. The
king’s daughter, out of love for his enemy, betrayed her father. The
chorus in the “Choëphoroi” of Æschylus uses the story as a warning to

  “Another murd’rous maid is sung in story and calls forth our hate. Led
  on by foeman lover, won by gifts of Minos, gold-wrought Cretan
  necklaces, she slew a man beloved and sheared the lock immortal from
  the head of Nisus while he breathed in unsuspecting sleep. But Hermes
  overtook her!”

Footnote 23:

  The frequent occurrence of Minoa as a place name in Greece both
  indicates the widespread influences of Crete in prehistoric times and
  is also one of the arguments for the adoption, at least tentatively,
  of the technical term “Minoan” civilization.

The history of Megara was influenced now by Athens and now by Corinth.
At times neighbourhood quarrels with Corinth turned her toward Athens,
but in crises the bonds of race proved stronger. Her great epoch,
however, was in the eighth and seventh centuries, before the balance of
power had been shifted by the Athenian conquest of Salamis. During these
centuries Megara rivalled Corinth in colonial expansion, and from Nisæa
adventurers set sail to found Megara Hyblæa in Sicily, Heraclea on the
Euxine, and above all Byzantium on the Bosphorus, which long before its
christening as Constantinople had forgotten its mother city.

In arts and letters Megara’s achievements were slight, although
tradition assigned to her the creation of comedy. Only one of her poets,
Theognis, belongs to our canon of Greek literature. A contemporary of
Solon, he exhibited the same tendency to use poetry as a medium of
political discussion, but he was totally opposed to the democratic
influences which in his city, as elsewhere, were making headway against
the aristocracy. Oligarchy and tyranny had been succeeded by this larger
struggle. Although Theognis was in the thick of the fight, his wide
influence in later centuries was due rather to his sententious
utterances on ethics, which classed him with the “gnomic poets.”
Xenophon called the poetry of Theognis “a comprehensive treatment
concerning men,” and as such it was used with the works of Homer and
Hesiod in the educational system of fourth-century Athens. Moderns will
find in the extant fragments little of the power which saves a poet’s
politics and ethics from becoming in a later age either outworn or
commonplace. But in the public square of the village, the old hillside
market-place, we acquire a sympathy for his personal life and his love
of home. Here he stood and looked down upon the fields of his
confiscated estates, wasted in the riotous living of new masters. The
shrill cry of a bird, announcing the autumnal harvests, reminded him
that no longer for him were mules drawing the curved plough through the
furrows. The sea, lying at the door of Megara, bore him into exile, and
with Alcæus and Plato (and their Roman and modern imitators) he likened
the State to a ship in danger, sailed by an evil crew, threatened by
leaping waves.

In the Persian wars Megara made a brave show, sinking all animosity
toward Athens in the great need of Hellas. But fifty years later a
bitter quarrel with Athens became one of the precipitating causes of the
Peloponnesian War. The Athenians had passed a decree excluding the
Megarians from their markets and from all the harbours in their
dominions. The Spartans demanded its revocation, and the Athenians,
influenced by Pericles, refused. Opinions differed as to his
disinterestedness. In the judgment of Thucydides he was moved solely by
reasons of state. The more popular opinion that he was involved by
Aspasia in a scandalous affair affecting both cities appears in
Aristophanes, who also does not fail to see the comic side of a
situation which forced the impoverished Megarians to work their way
secretly into the Athenian markets bringing cucumbers and sucking pigs
and garlic under their cloaks. The later comic poets made a butt of the
Megarians, and the Megarian’s sneer about the Athenian figs and Propylæa
was doubtless only one of many retorts.

After the Peloponnesian War we have a happier picture of Megara as the
home of philosophy. Plato in his first grief over the death of his
master went there to visit Eucleides, who had been wont to creep into
Athens by night, in defiance of the decree, to talk with Socrates. And
from the vivid opening scene of the “Theætetus,” a severely metaphysical
dialogue written a few years later, we know that Eucleides and his
philosophical friends used to meet each other in the market-place (where
now the peasant women dance at Easter) or go to the harbour to greet a
friend _en route_ from Corinth to Athens, or gather at home for readings
and conversations. Isocrates praised in Megara a domestic prosperity
finer than the lust for empire which had ruined Athens and Sparta.

The Megarians shared the Greek lot at Chæronea. The later fate of the
city is summed up in the reflections of the Roman governor, Sulpicius,
who, coming from Ægina, gazed at its ruins from his vessel’s prow and
argued from them the brevity of human glory.

In antiquity travellers by land made their way from Megara to Corinth
either over the difficult heights of Geraneia or close along the shore
of the Saronic Gulf. The railroad follows the direction of this coast
route, and from a high bridge the old road can be seen below, skirting
the foot of the precipices in which the spurs of Geraneia end. These
precipices crowd so close to the sea that the space for the road is
exceedingly narrow, and the resulting dangers gave to the pass in modern
days the name of Kake Skala. Even in the nineteenth century robbers made
use of the natural difficulties of the site as they did in Roman times.
Hadrian thought it important to widen the road as much as possible. To
the ancients the steep precipices were known as the Scironian Cliffs,
and the Athenian story ran that a robber, Sciron, dwelt beside them and
hurled every wayfarer into the sea, where a huge tortoise devoured him.
Theseus killed the villain and threw him down to his old ally. The sea
that surged below the road took its own toll of travellers. Among the
unfortunates in the fifth century one was either rich or distinguished
enough to have an inscription by Simonides upon his cenotaph:—

               “Geraneia, cruel scar,
               Where the mist of morning creeps,
               Would that thou on Ister far
               Ward wert keeping, or where sweeps
                 Scythian stream of Tanaïs.
               Wert not here where snow-storms’ scourges
               Fill Moluriad’s rocky gorges;
               Wert not here above the surges
                 On Scironian rocks that hiss.
               As it is, his corpse the Ocean
               Death-chilled swings in restless motion;
                 Mocks his voyage a bitter laugh
                 Echoing from his cenotaph.”

This spot of frequent shipwrecks had also its sea deities. The Moluriad
Rock, a part of the Scironian Cliffs, was the scene of Ino’s payment of
her share in the curse laid upon her father, Cadmus of Thebes. Chased by
an angry husband down the mountain ridges, she plunged into the sea with
her infant son Melicertes, or, as Euripides said, in comparing her to
Medea, with two children in her arms:—

             “One woman only have I known
               Of all before us, one alone,
             Lay hand upon her children dear:
               God-maddened Ino, from her home
               By Zeus’s wife sent forth to roam,
             With impious murder to the mere,
                 Ah wretched one! from headland springing
                 Her children twain and self out-flinging,
               She perished with them in the foam.”

Ino became Leucothea, the kindly goddess of Odysseus’s journey, and
Melicertes became Palæmon, the Greek representative of the Phœnician
Melkart, worshipped on the Isthmus. To them, in the Anthology, sailors
prayed on their way to the “sweet shore of Piræus” and fishermen
dedicated strange sea creatures that came up in their nets or were found
upon the shore.

The train keeps on its way by the Saronic Gulf, crosses the canal on a
bridge and reaches New Corinth on the Corinthian Gulf.

The destiny of Corinth was so peculiarly the result of its situation
that to describe the one is to foreshadow the other. Aristotle might
have illustrated by this city the physical qualities which he considered
desirable. It had “a native abundance of streams and fountains” to
promote health, and its acropolis was one of the strongest in Greece.
Most of all, it was “well situated in regard both to sea and land.” Thus
it was “a strategic centre for protecting the whole district,” and was
“convenient for receiving the crops and also for the bringing in of
timber and any other natural products.” Corinth commanded two ports, one
on either side of the Isthmus, and stood also at the entrance to the
Peloponnesus. As “god-built portal of the bright island of Pelops” she
controlled the land routes for the exports and imports of southern
Greece, and as a city “of two seas” she was mistress of the trade of the
far east and the far west. At the beginning of the Peloponnesian War she
urged the Dorian allies to remember that if they did not protect her
seaboard they would find it difficult to carry their produce to the sea
or to barter in return for the goods which the sea gives to the land.
Already in Homer Corinth was “rich,” and her later history was one of
commerce, colonization, invention, and the arts and crafts rather than
of literature. For that reason the pathos of her present desolation is
unrelieved by thoughts of a rescued legacy.

New Corinth, lying close to the shore of the Gulf, several miles from
the ancient western harbour, is a town of hopeful energy and ambition,
its railroad station and steamboat quay indicating a potential capacity
for growth. Old Corinth, three and a half miles inland, consists of a
few poor houses unified into a certain village dignity by a great plane
tree that shadows the “public square.” These houses have gathered near
the spot to which tourists make their way on foot or by carriage from
the seashore town. Before the excavations of the American School were
begun in 1896, they came in order to ascend the massive rock of
Acrocorinth and to see the remaining monoliths of a Doric temple which
antedates the classical period of Greek architecture. The excavations
have added sites deserving of close attention, but without effect on the
general features of the landscape. Acrocorinth rules the Isthmian plain,
and its summit offers an outlook, from Strabo’s time the theme of many
panegyrics, over wide-flung country and sea to the mountain crests of
Delphi and Arcadia, of Attica and Bœotia. The plateau on the north and
east of this acropolis was the site of the ancient city. Apollo’s
columns, which saw its greatest power and have withstood its successive
blights, alone compete with the impressiveness of the citadel. Seated on
the steps of the temple and watching the mists break away from the
impatient heights of Acrocorinth, we may recount to ourselves the tale
“of Corinth blest, the vestibule of Isthmian Poseidon, nurse of manly


  Temple of Apollo, and Acrocorinth

The diversity of legends concerning the pre-Dorian origin of Corinth
illustrates the hospitality of the Greek mind toward incompatible
stories. Ephyre, daughter of Ocean, in Homer gave her name to the city.
Sisyphus, the son of Æolus, the son of Hellen, was introduced as founder
in the effort to trace historical development. The Corinthians
themselves set great store by an eponymous hero, Corinthus, the son of
Zeus. Their reiteration of this exasperating claim became proverbial
among the other Greeks. When the Aristophanic Dionysus arrives in Hades
and bids his servant take up the wraps again and carry them inside,
Xanthias exclaims:—

             “Aye, pick ’em up! now there it goes again,
             They’ve Zeus’s Corinth in ’em, that is plain!”

Sisyphus and his descendants owe a long debt to the poets, if posthumous
fame be a recompense for vicissitudes. Sisyphus was found by Odysseus in
Hades in “strong torment,” pushing a monstrous stone up the hill only to
have it roll back again. A great-great-grandson fought among the Lycians
on Priam’s side at Troy and, questioned by Diomede of his ancestry, made
the famous comparison which betrays the melancholy already lurking in
the youth of Hellas:—

  “As with the leaves’ generations so it is with the passing of mortals.
  Some of the leaves the wind strews on the ground while others the
  trees of the forest, budding and blooming, put forth when the spring
  cometh on in its season. Thus with the races of mortals, one blooms
  and another one ceases.”

He also told the story of his grandfather, Bellerophon of Corinth: his
refusal of a queen’s love, his hard labours in punishment, his rise to
fame and power, and his ultimate failure to retain the favour of the
gods, so that he ended his life far from the paths of men, devouring his
own heart in desolate northern plains. Pindar took up the Homeric legend
and shifted the emphasis to the winged Pegasus, tamed by Bellerophon,
with Athena’s aid, at Peirene, the city fountain, and finally stabled in
the stalls of Olympus, after he had aided his master “from out the
desert bosom of the ether chill” to “smite and slay the woman brood of
archer Amazons, Chimæra breathing fire, and the Solymi.”

In the history of Corinth two periods are of special interest and might
serve as the bases for a study of important epochs in the larger history
of Greece. These periods, separated by more than four hundred years,
were dominated respectively by the “tyrants” and the Romans.

Although historians now avoid the restrictive term “age of the despots,”
it is true that from the eighth to the sixth centuries tyrannies arose
in Greek cities on the Asiatic coast, on the islands of the Ægean, and
in Greece proper, implying the same conditions of public life. The
tyranny of Corinth, beginning with Cypselus in the seventh century and
ending with his grandnephew, Psammetichus, in the sixth, was one of the
longest and most notorious. Any tyranny which endured until the third
generation was remarkable, for, in spite of its apparent vigour, this
form of government was suited to no Greek people. Everywhere democracy
and oligarchy were united in hatred of an hereditary ruler. In Athens
the short-lived despotism was itself greatly modified, and the picture
of the tyrant in Athenian literature, in Plato, Aristotle, and Xenophon,
was drawn from the more violent models known from the histories of
Corinth or Sicyon or Miletus, or seen contemporaneously in Syracuse.
Plato not only as a philosopher but as a Greek interpreted the tyrant’s
life as one of mental misery: “In good truth he turns out a pauper, if
one but knows how to contemplate the soul in its entirety; and all his
life long he is loaded down with fear, all a-quiver with convulsions and
with pangs, at least if he is like the disposition of the state over
which he holds sway, ... and he must needs, by reason of his rule, ever
more and more become envious, distrusted, unjust, friendless, unholy,
and of every vice the host and nurse; and by reason of all this he must
first of all become unhappy and then must make like to himself those
near him.”

In Corinth Periander was the typical despot, powerful and violent,
killing his wife and earning the hatred of his sons, overriding the
sensibilities of his people, crushing the stronger and richer citizens.
And yet by masterly statesmanship, a cultivated taste, and careful
paternalism, he brought about the peaceful prosperity which more than
one nation in history has preferred to liberty, and created a
civilization in which brilliant achievement and temperate life were not
incompatible. At no other time was Corinth so great a city. In addition
to the older colonies of Syracuse and Corcyra, trading posts were
obtained along the northwestern coast of Greece, controlling the
commerce of the Adriatic. Rivalry with the cities of Eubœa and with
Ægina was succeeded by unquestioned superiority. Alliances were
contracted in Asia Minor and in Egypt. At home the enervation of luxury
was guarded against by sumptuary laws. That some of these outlived the
period may be gathered from a fragment of the comic poet Diphilus, a
contemporary of Menander, in which, apparently, a Corinthian reproaches
a foreign spendthrift who has come to town and cornered the vegetable
market so that the natives have to struggle for the parsley as at the
Isthmian games:—

         “’Tis here the law, good sir, with us Corinthians,
         If we see anybody in the market-place
         Forever making showy purchases, to ask
         On what he lives? By doing what? And then if he
         Has capital of which the income balances
         The outlay, to permit him to enjoy his mode
         Of life. But if it turns out that beyond his means
         He’s spending money, they shut down on this forthwith,
         And if he disobeys, impose a fine. And if
         A man, possessing nothing, lives expensively
         They hand him over to the executioner!”

Periander also, desirous, as Aristotle suggests, of keeping his people
too busy to think, stimulated the artistic skill which they had always
possessed. A persistent tradition has asserted that Corinthian
architects at an early date invented the roof-tiles by means of which
temple roofs could be made to slope, thus forming the pediment or
“eagle.” The Temple of Apollo was probably built at Periander’s
instigation. Corinthian workmanship in terra-cotta, wood, and metal was
famous from prehistoric to Roman times. Periander dedicated at Olympia
the chest (_cypsele_) in which his father Cypselus had been concealed in
infancy, made of cedar wood, gold, and ivory, ornately and exquisitely
carved, in Pausanias’s time still one of the finest sights of the place.
No bronze was better than that dipped in Peirene, and long before the
vases of Corinthian artists were imported or stolen by Roman capitalists
they were a part of the conventional display of the _bon vivant_ in

In literature Periander could accomplish little. The absence of the
literary gift among the Corinthians is strikingly shown by the fact that
the name of only one native poet, Eumelus, has been handed down to us,
and that he belonged to the ancient oligarchy of the eighth century. Two
lyric lines traditionally assigned to him survive, the only fragment of
Corinthian literature. Their imputed authorship indicates that Eumelus
was not without fame, since the Doric Messenians, even less literary
than the Corinthians, chose him to compose a song to Apollo to be sung
by their embassy at the great Ionian festival at Delos. But embedded in
the most important literature of Greece is an element which probably
came into life in Corinth under Periander’s patronage. The choruses of
the drama and the so-called dithyrambs or Dionysiac songs written by
such lyric poets as Pindar, Simonides, and Bacchylides, seem equally to
go back to some outgrowth of the stray wine-songs extemporized by
revellers. A favourite tradition assigned this new form to a poet called
Arion, who, though a Lesbian by birth, “composed, named, and taught the
dithyramb at Corinth.” Herodotus adds a story which takes Arion out of
the mists of tradition and places him, a sunlit figure, on the
quarter-deck of a Corinthian ship rounding Cape Tænarum on its way back
from Sicily. He had gone thither and made money, and on the return
journey the Corinthian sailors, in whom he had thought he could most
safely confide, gave him his choice of killing himself outright, if he
wished a grave on dry land, or of leaping overboard into the Ionian Sea.
In this strait Arion “begged of them, since such was their
determination, that they would give him leave to take his stand dressed
in his full regalia on the quarter-deck, and promised that from there he
would sing to them and then would make away with himself. To the sailors
it seemed a pleasant thing if they might hear the best of living
singers, and from the stern they drew off amidships. And Arion, clad in
his full costume, took his cithara and, stationed on the planking, went
through with the Orthian strain, and, when the strain was concluded,
flung himself into the sea, just as he was, in full costume dressed. Now
the ship’s crew sailed off to Corinth, but a dolphin, as they say, took
up Arion and carried him to Tænarum and he, alighting, went off, regalia
and all, to Corinth and told, on his arrival, everything that had

Periander’s successor was assassinated after a brief reign, and the
tyranny was succeeded by an aristocracy of merchants. Corinth joined the
Spartan confederacy, and her life continued to be one of commerce and
peace. Her part in the Persian wars was modest, but a recently
discovered commemorative inscription for her sons who died at Salamis is
of peculiar interest as an example of the “many epitaphs composed by
nameless authors in those days of joy and sorrow in various parts of
Greece, all marked by the simplicity of a great age, whose reserve, as
has been said truly, is the pride of strong men under the semblance of
modesty.” The inscription runs: “Salamis the isle of Ajax holds us now,
who once dwelled in the city of Corinth between her waters.”[24]

Footnote 24:

  Quoted by J. B. Bury, _History of Greece_, p. 284.

The brilliant and varied energies of the Cypselids had given way to the
dulness of habitual prosperity. But a light from the past must have
seemed to shine again upon Corinth when Pindar, “sailing a mere private
in her ship of state,” drew upon the wealth of all her experiences in
praising her as the native city of an Olympian victor:—

  “Therein dwelleth Order and—a sure foundation for the state—her sister
  Justice, aye and Peace kin-bred, wealth’s stewards for mankind.”

  “Flow’ring richly, oft on you the hours have bestowed the splendour
  crowning victory of men preëminent in valour at the sacred games, and
  often in their manly hearts inspired subtleties of old. Whoever hath
  devised, to him belongs the deed. Whence came to light the gracious
  gifts of Dionysus with the dithyramb that wins the ox? Nay, who set
  measured check upon the harnessed steeds or on the gables of the gods
  the twofold eagle spread?”

Thirty-three years after Pindar’s ode Euripides produced his “Medea.”
This is the only Attic drama which has Corinth as its scene, and in it
the local allusions are but vague. Until the writing of St. Paul’s
epistles no other great literature concerned itself with Corinth.

The city’s policies and life from the Persian wars until the battle of
Chæronea, though dictated by its trading interests, centred about the
fortunes of Athens, Sparta, and Thebes. After Chæronea followed the
common Macedonian domination. The subsequent Roman occupation of Corinth
constitutes the second great period of its history. In 146 B. C. a last
effort at rebellion against Rome resulted in savage vengeance executed
by Lucius Mummius. Cicero was “moved” by the “ruins” of Corinth; and
Antipater of Sidon, not long after the destruction, bewailed its

           “Where is thy beauty exciting men’s wonder,
             Dorian Corinth, and ramparts that crowned thee?
           Where are the blessed ones’ columns, whereunder
             Sisyphid wives from their dwellings around thee
           Came with glad thousands to meet and to sunder?
           Bides not a trace of thee, luckless, devoured,
           Ravaged of war! We alone undeflowered,
             Nereids, halcyons, daughters of Ocean,
             Wait on thy woes with our loyal devotion.”

The existence of the temple of Periander’s age, if nothing else, betrays
the poet’s exaggeration. Pausanias says that the remarkable objects in
the city of his day included “some remains of ancient Corinth.” Most of
them, however, dated from the restoration. Julius Cæsar rebuilt the
city, repopulated it with freedmen from Rome, and made it the seat of
the proconsul of the “province of Achæa.” Corinth is the proper centre
from which to study the Romanized Greek world. In wealth the Roman city
began to equal and to outstrip the Greek city. But the old moderation in
private life, imposed by Periander, was gone. The Romans of the empire
had outlived the precepts of their own republican Cato, and the riches
easily acquired at Corinth enabled them to satisfy their coarsened
desires. Greek refinement was never native to the masters of the world,
and into a nation, once satisfied at public festivals with beautiful
processions and serious dramatic representations, were imported
gladiatorial shows and all the excesses of a brutalized taste. The Greek
Corinth had been regarded by the Athenians as rich and immoral. The
Roman Corinth would have seemed to Plato a cave filled with
passion-driven men lost to the sunlight of wisdom. It was into this
Corinth that Paul came “in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.”

Acrocorinth saw the Roman pass and the Byzantine, the Venetian and the
Turk. It may again see in “New Corinth” a powerful Greek city. The
excavations at Old Corinth have uncovered but slight traces of the
successive centuries of robust living, but the imaginative observer will
soon perceive the archæologist’s success. Although the harbours of
Lechæum and Cenchreæ are deserted and although the walls that connected
them with the city are invisible, yet there are traces of a “paved
street to Lechæum” with colonnades on either side, to bring to life
again the crowds of sailors, merchants, and visitors from all parts of
the ancient world who passed and repassed between the city and its
ports. Aristotle, with characteristic distrust of cosmopolitanism,
questioned the political advantage of such intercourse, but to Corinth
it was the breath of life.

The trade within the city is suggested by the traces of “shops” and by
the ruins of the Propylæum of the Agora and of fine colonnades and
stoas. Of buildings almost nothing remains, and, save for the
foundations of a small unidentified temple, the Temple of Apollo alone
represents the numerous sacred precincts of ancient and restored
Corinth. The scanty ruins of a theatre recall picturesque stories. The
Corinthian theatre of the sixth century, according to Plutarch, was the
scene of the discovery of the murderers of the poet Ibycus, an important
figure in the history of Greek lyric. A native of Rhegium, he led an
adventurous life in harmony with his passionate temperament, and was
finally killed by robbers on some lonely unknown shore. In dying he
called upon a flock of cranes above his head to avenge him. Their sudden
appearance over the theatre at Corinth so startled the assassins that
they betrayed themselves, and thus the cranes kept their promise to a
poet who had sung with equal ardour of birds and flowers and of the
beauty of youth. In the Roman auditorium, according to a story
attributed to Lucian, Nero had his servants crush in with the sharp
edges of their writing tablets the larynx of a popular professional who
had the temerity to out-sing the royal amateur.

Lucian also tells a delightful story connected with the Craneum—Skull
Place—a frequented suburb of Corinth, where Diogenes the Cynic had set
up his jar (not the “tub” of English tradition). When the news came that
Philip of Macedon was advancing on the city, the Corinthians, in a fever
of anxiety, set to work on their defences. Diogenes, mocking their
activity, girded up his blanket, and with a great show of energy went
bowling his jar up and down the Craneum. When some of his intimates
asked him “Why do you do this, Diogenes?” he said, “I too roll my jar so
as not to be the only idle one among so many workers.”

The most fortunate result of the excavations at Corinth was the
uncovering of the well-house of Peirene. This spring, compared with
which the temple columns are young, shared with Acrocorinth the ancient
solitude of the plain; gave its waters to the first nameless adventurers
who made their way from north and east; served the city of Dorians and
Romans; and before the excavators enclosed it was still being used by
the washer-women of the neighbouring hamlet. From Periander to the
Byzantines, the grateful inhabitants were ever and again moved to build
for Peirene a suitable enclosure, and traces of six building periods
have been discovered. In the fifth century B. C. the natural rock was
hewn into shape. Later generations added architectural panels, façades
and colonnades.

The name Peirene seems to have belonged not only to the city fountain
but also to another spring, crystal clear, a little below the summit of
Acrocorinth, which, like Hippocrene on Helicon, was struck out by the
hoof of Pegasus. In a translation of Euripides’s “Trojan Women,” Mr.
Murray goes beyond his original in specifying this upper Peirene,
vividly including in the women’s dread anticipation of their Greek
slavery the steep climb up Acrocorinth:—

                  “Or pitchers to and fro to bear
                  To some Peirene on the hill
                  Where the proud water craveth still
                  Its broken-hearted minister.”

Two other fountains have also been discovered in Corinth, one the spring
of Glauke, Medea’s rival, and the other an unnamed well-house with
bronze lion heads still _in situ_. It is no wonder that St. Clement in
his epistle to the Corinthians, when he enumerated the blessings of God,
remembered especially the perennial fountains, shaped for pleasure and
health, which give their breasts to sustain the life of men.

The canal across the Isthmus recalls several periods of Corinth’s
history. Periander conceived the idea of making a canal, inspired
perhaps by the engineering marvels he had seen in Egypt, and probably
the lack of slave labour, rather than the popular Greek feeling of
impiety, prevented him from joining the “two seas” on either side of the
narrow isthmus. Julius Cæsar also thought of undertaking the work, but
Nero was the first to begin its execution. His vanity saw in it an
opportunity for dramatic display. Suetonius relates that he appeared in
person, chanted hymns in honour of the deities of the sea, and with a
golden pick-axe made a few motions before the thousands of soldiers and
prisoners who were to do the cutting. Troubles at Rome, however,
deflected his attention, and the making of the canal was left for the
French engineers of 1881. Two cuttings made by Nero’s workmen were still
visible when the French began.

The absence of a canal in antiquity was not so inconvenient as might be
supposed, for light ships could be transferred on land from one port to
another by means of a portage or tramway, of which traces are still
visible. This “Diolkos” was invented even before the age of the tyrants,
when the Corinthians were first developing their naval resources. At
Lechæum they built the first artificial harbour, and at its docks the
trireme was gradually perfected through the necessity of protecting the
slow and heavy merchantmen by a fighting convoy. Thucydides refers to
the Diolkos in describing the events of 412 B. C., when a general revolt
against Athens began under Chios. The Spartans had sent word that
thirty-nine ships lying at anchor at Lechæum must be dragged across the
Isthmus as quickly as possible to the port on the Gulf of Ægina and
thence despatched to Chios. Twenty-one had been transferred and were
eager to set sail, but the Corinthians insisted on waiting till the
Isthmian Games had been celebrated. The result was that the Athenians
who went to the games discovered what was going on and Athens was able
to balk her enemies.

The Isthmian Games were held biennially in the Corinthian territory less
than a mile southwest of the little modern town of Isthmia, at the
eastern end of the canal. The Athenians frequented them especially
because they were said to have been instituted by Theseus. Socrates
visited them on the only occasion of his leaving Athens “except with the
colours.” The sacred precinct, excavated by the French, has yielded
small remains of the temples and statues, theatre and stadium, and
Pindar’s Isthmian odes are still the noblest memorial of the ancient
contests. In the Stadium, now but a natural hollow, two dramatic events
took place. In 336 B. C. Alexander had himself proclaimed leader of the
Greeks before his Persian expedition, and in 196 B. C. Flaminius
announced to the Greeks their “freedom.” It was probably also here, at
least it was at the Isthmian Games, that Nero perpetrated his mocking
renewal of Greek independence.

In this Stadium, within reach of the two seas which had been highways
for wealth and luxury, vigorous youths from century to century gave
proof of restrained and temperate living. Even those Corinthians to whom
Paul’s preaching was “foolishness” would be hospitable to his

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth
the prize? So run that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for
the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a
corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.”

                               CHAPTER XI

              “When to Apollo’s world-famed land we came,
              Three radiant courses of the sun we gave
              To gazing and with beauty filled our eyes.”
                       EURIPIDES, _Andromache_.[25]

Footnote 25:

  Translation (modified) by Way.

If leisure is the nurse of sympathetic understanding, “three radiant
courses of the sun” are none too many to give to Delphi. The inner
meaning of this centre of Greece needs not only to be quarried out of
history and literature, but also to be garnered from the abundant beauty
of a landscape which created as well as framed a unique religious life.

At the chief oracular seat of the God of Prophecy antiquarian curiosity
about its early legends and primitive cults makes way for the
realization of Apollo, “the Far-Darter, ruling the glorious temple
wherein all men find welcome.” A modern journey is a successor to the
journeys and pilgrimages undertaken through many centuries by the men
and peoples who sought from his omniscience foreknowledge and advice.

Even the protagonists of shadowy antiquity were brought thither by their
hopes and fears. Heracles, the national hero of Greece, driven by Hera
to madness and murder, asked at Delphi where he should make his home,
and was sent by the oracle to begin his twelve labours. Agamemnon,
anxious lord of the Greek armies, sought advice of the god. Io was
started on her long wanderings over the earth and through literature
because her father was commanded by Apollo’s ministers to drive her from
her home and her country. Because of a Delphic response, the infant son
of Laius of Thebes was exposed on Mount Cithæron. Œdipus, on the fatal
day when he killed Laius, was on his way back from Delphi, whither he
had gone to ask if he were son of the Corinthian king who had reared him
and where he had received the ambiguous answer that he was fated to slay
his father. It was when, as king of Thebes, he sent to “the Pythian
house of Phœbus to learn by what deed or word he might deliver his
pestilence-stricken city” that he unconsciously invoked his own doom.
And it was again the Delphic oracle which closed the pitiful story by
prophesying Œdipus’s final reconciliation with the eternal will.

But these ancient demigods and kings move in a world only half realized
by us. Their dooms and their emotions have the remote nobility, the
superb universality of the Attic drama through which chiefly they are
portrayed. It is in the vivacious pages of the charmingly pious
Herodotus that the desires of living men and women seem to surge, in
failure or fruition, about the Delphic tripod. From the foreign kingdoms
of Asia, from Greek colonies in Africa and Italy, from rock-bound island
harbours, ships were constantly spreading sails at the impulse of
national distress or personal ambition, to furl them in the port that
lay below Delphi. From Lacedæmon, deep in the hollow of the southern
hills, from Thrace’s widespread plains, swept by the northern tempests,
from the wild mountains of Arcadia, from rich Corinth and bright Athens
and every other city of Hellas, men made their way in chariots, on
mules, and on foot, to the knees of Apollo. Mountains and rivers, rude
valleys and hostile villages offered no obstacles, nor were the
suppliants repelled by the “dark sayings, dim and hard to know,” which
were often their only reward. Kings hurried off embassies at the first
signs of rivalry. Adventurers stopped to question the god before
carrying new colonies beyond the seas. Quarrelsome states and cities
asked for advice in their fratricidal plots. Wealthy cities desired to
know if they could always count on their revenues. Ghost-haunted towns
asked the meaning of their spectres. Agricultural communities were eager
to learn how to restore dying crops. Ambitious politicians sought
encouragement in their pursuit of power. Sick men prayed for health,
childless men for offspring. Indeed, to the irreverent the Pythian
priestess must often have seemed to carry a load of oracles as jumbled
as that of Aristophanes’s sausage seller who came staggering into the
market-place at Athens with “responses” to sell,—

           “Full of Athenians, and of lentil-porridge too;
           Of Spartans; of fresh tunny fish; and of the men
           Who in the market measure false the barley-groats;
           Of you; of me, and of affairs in general.”

But Aristophanes himself was at heart as conservative a believer in
religion as Herodotus had been. And to piety like theirs, existing from
generation to generation, was due the position that Delphi held not only
as a source of knowledge but as the conscience of Greece. Sometimes in
public affairs this conscience seemed to recommend prudence rather than
righteousness, as in the wretched advice distributed at the time of the
Persian invasion. In private affairs, such as athletics or the use of
trust money, the oracle was always on the side of honour.

It must be borne in mind that along with the widespread acceptance of
the oracular responses went a rationalizing independence of judgment
which sometimes overruled the religious instinct. Cases of obstinate
self-seeking in spite of the plain injunction of the god betray the
exercise of this judgment on a low plane. But, soiled though it
sometimes was by ignoble use, the mental independence of the Athenians,
at least, was a magnificent possession. It saved Hellas when Crete and
Argos and all the lesser brood followed the prudent warnings from
Delphi. It chose an uneven fight for national freedom in the very face
of the accepted conscience of the whole Greek world. Only an
understanding of the noblest aspects of the rôle played by the Delphic
oracle in Greek history and life can throw into sufficiently high relief
the splendid revolt of Athens, when Persia threatened her liberty,
against an ecclesiastical authority which had become debased. The
historian who is the best guide to a dutiful belief in Pythian Apollo
tells the story with implicit sympathy: “Not even the terrifying oracles
that came from Delphi and plunged them into fear persuaded them to
abandon Hellas. They plucked up courage to await the invader of their

Nor is there here any inconsistency. The faithful in all religions have
refused to identify the sins and follies of the priests with the will of
the gods. The Persians might intimidate or buy the ministers of Apollo.
The Alcmæonidæ, exiled from Athens, might bribe them to do their selfish
will. Cleomenes of Sparta might purchase his throne from them. But the
pious had always the refuge created by Sophocles for Iocasta when she
declared the oracle was false: “It came not from Phœbus but from his
servants.” When the Persians had been defeated, Athens, on the flood
tide of victory, freedom, and power, raised noble memorials of her
struggle in the sacred precinct of the oracle which had advised her not
to fight. When the modern traveller has brought himself to see that this
was not done in grim humour but in unbewildered piety, he is ready to
undertake his own journey to Delphi.

Of all the possible approaches none can be happier than a drive on a
moonlight night up from the little port of Itea, the inglorious terminus
of the eight hours’ sail from Piræus through the canal and along the
Gulf of Corinth. The comfortable carriage road winds through the
“moon-blanched” olive orchards and vineyards of the ancient Crisæan
plain, mounting gradually toward the steep slopes of Parnassus and its
attendant mountains, and twisting in long courses among shadowy
hillsides which only hint at rude crags and deep ravines. Perhaps it was
some such night as this that led the writer of the Homeric Hymn to
Artemis to see the sister of Apollo, “slackening her fair-curved bow and
going to the mighty hall of Phœbus in the Delphians’ rich deme and
arraying there the Muses’ and the Graces’ lovely dance.” The exquisite
grace of the landscape, half hidden, half revealed through the fragile
veil of silver light, seems like a gentle preparation for the epiphany,
expected on the morrow, of the god of the golden blade.

The carriage passes very early by Amphissa, the capital of modern Phocis
as it was of ancient Locris, and an hour later halts, to rest the
horses, at a dim corner of the village of Chryso, a name which preserves
that of the Crisa of antiquity. All this drowsy territory has been the
stage of one of the significant dramas of history. The modern demarch
hospitably presses water from the village fountain upon modern
wayfarers, but the Crisæans once used their strategic position as owners
of the whole wide plain to plunder pilgrims on their way to the shrine.
This evil monopoly gave way, early in the sixth century, to the powerful
confederation of twelve Greek states, known as the Delphic Amphictyony,
whose representatives met at Delphi twice a year and ruled the affairs
of the sacred domain. During almost one hundred and fifty years, with
unquestioned right, whatever internecine wars were in progress,
delegates from Thessaly and Bœotia, from Athens and Sparta, from Phocis
itself and from other lesser states could pass and repass through Crisa,
while the fertile plain went untilled. Even after war invaded the
protected territory the existence of the Council was not endangered. But
the constitution of the delegates changed with the fortunes of battles.
By the middle of the fourth century the Phocians were struck from the
list and the Macedonians added. Philip had become the chief actor,
seizing his opportunity when the men of Delphi, at the instigation of
the Athenian delegate, Æschines, attacked the men of Amphissa because
they were turning the consecrated wilderness of the plain into
corn-fields and olive groves and filling up the empty places with
prosperous houses and busy little potteries. A series of easy steps led
to the overthrow of Greek freedom.

But under the compassionate moon the sentimentalist continues his way,
in wilful oblivion of the catastrophe of the drama, to the point nearest
ancient Delphi. This is the tiny village of Kastri, which less than
twenty years ago was plying its life on the unconscious surface of earth
spread over the ruins of the sacred site. At great expense of money and
trouble it was picked up by the French excavators and deposited, safe
and whole, a little farther to the west around the sharp corner of the
mountain, where, in fear of slipping into the deep valley below, it
curls close to Parnassus’s side. Here lodgings may be obtained either in
a conventional hostelry or, preferably, in a low-eaved peasant house,
where on cool nights a wood fire glows in a big stone fireplace and the
light of candles is eked out by diminutive copper lamps which would have
seemed primitive to Agamemnon.

The popular time for ancient pleasure-seekers to visit Delphi was in the
middle of August, when games were held in honour of Apollo. At that
season, if ever, the slopes and peaks of Parnassus were accessible, but
the burning heat as the rocks reflected the sun’s rays, alternating with
heavy thunderstorms as the wind rushed up from the valley, must have
modified the comfort of visitors. In the spring the modern traveller
will find an equable and pleasant climate. And also, prepared as he may
be for the solemnity and the lonely grandeur of the scenery about
Delphi, he will discover unanticipated qualities in the landscape which
are illuminative of certain elements in the significance of the place. A
walk along the highway that leads from Kastri to and through the ruined
precinct reveals both the expected and the new. Toward the southwest
lies the Crisæan plain filled with olive groves. Beyond its gray-green
breadth gleams the Corinthian Gulf with the far-off mountains of Arcadia
girding the horizon. Directly in the west the snow-capped mountains of
Locris, the highest in Central Greece, fret the sky. Southeastward
plunges the valley of Delphi, formed by Mount Parnassus on the north and
by Mount Cirphis on the south, and watered by the river Plistus which in
a long line of gleaming argent seeks its westerly home in the bay of

The valley of the Plistus lies in full sight after the Crisæan plain and
the gulf beyond it have been blotted out by a turn in the road which
leads sharply around a large, rocky ridge, the barrier between the new
town and the old. This ridge formed the western wall that isolated
Delphi in lonely remoteness between the bare steep rocks of Cirphis and
the cliffs of massive Parnassus, which spreads its huge buttresses over
the surrounding country. Rising two thousand feet above the level of the
sea, these cliffs present a magnificent expanse of gray and red
limestone, and still reflect the brilliant morning sun, true to their
ancient name of the “Shining Rocks.” Where they bend around, in their
long course, a deep gorge is formed from which the storied spring of
Castalia still issues. Above the gorge, invisible when one stands under
the cliffs but conspicuous from lower levels, rise twin peaks, seeking a
proud supremacy.

Superb mountains, precipitous cliffs, deep ravines, lonely valley, all
are here. But here too, softening, transfiguring, some unforeseen
influence is at work. Over the mountains a friendly, familiar sunshine
casts a gentle glamour. Olive trees fearlessly silver the long slopes
that stretch from the shining rocks to the glistening river. In jocund
profusion, tripping through the valley and climbing up the steep places,
pink and white almond trees flower like blushing dryads. The Far-Darter
has chosen this hour to lay aside his bow. No longer does he come,—

  “angered in heart, with his bow on his shoulders and close-covered
  quiver, while in his anger the shafts on his shoulders are clanging,
  and like to the Night is his coming,”—

but he lifts the “golden lyre” that quencheth even the lightning spear,
the bolt of Zeus’s immortal fire.

Or perhaps Apollo has abdicated for a time and it is Dionysus who is
concealing the terror of the oracle beneath the sparkling audacity of
spring. For the worship of this multiform god had a strong hold on
Delphi, and the “beat of his unseen feet” as he was wont to lead his
Mænads in furious dance among the uplands of Parnassus echoes through
Greek poetry. According to one set of legends, Dionysus was the first to
hold the oracle. According to another, Apollo regularly departed for
three months each year, leaving the more fiery god of inspiration in
charge of the sacred tripod. In any case the relation between the divine
brothers seems to have been very amicable. An old vase-painting
represents them as affectionately shaking hands under a palm tree.

The scene of the Dionysiac revels was the broad table-land which lies,
more than three thousand feet above the level of the sea, between the
Shining Rocks and the peaks of Parnassus. Here amid the wooded ravines
and open meadows the flashing, flowing Dionysus, god of all ardent life,
lord of the ichor of spring, held one of his many courts. It is
significant of the unparalleled inclusiveness of Greek ideals that not
only on “the topmost heights of Caucasus” and in the “vales of Lydia,”
but also above Apollo’s temple where were inscribed in letters of gold
the maxims of the seven sages, “Know thyself” and “Nothing too much,”
the god of mad impulse and unchartered freedom should have been seen to
leap and dance, and give “to his female followers the note for the
Bacchic tune.” Every two years, “when spring flashed out for the first
time” and sorrow might be swallowed up in joy, a torch festival was held
in his honour by women of the surrounding country. Even from Attica
women made their way to join in the celebration, travelling over the
same “Sacred Way” by which the Athenians periodically sent their
offerings to Delphi, and which Apollo had taken on his civilizing march
through the wild places of men, escorted with great reverence by the
road-making people of Athens. The passionate desire for the mad
nocturnal revels which awaited the Bacchantes at the end of their long
journey was attributed by Euripides, who must often have seen the
procession starting out from Athens, to Tyrian women on their way to the
service of Phœbus at Delphi. Detained in Thebes by the civil war of
Œdipus’s sons, they tease their imaginations with visions of the rock
that flasheth a splendour of light and the cloven tongue of the torches’
flame, of the vine that each morning offers up its giant cluster to brim
the cup of the mystic ritual, of the snow-smitten, lonely ridges where,
with souls unafraid, they might be wreathing the happy dance.[26]

Footnote 26:

  Cf. Way’s translation of the _Phœnissæ_, 219 ff.

But mortal women were not the only companions of Dionysus. The exuberant
play of nature, the change from death to life as winter made way for
spring, not only goaded human hearts with a divine torture, but peopled
the hills with lithe nymphs of untouched soul, rollicking with Pan and
even with the greater god whose joy, to spirits touched to finer issues,
was more terrible than sweet. Pan and the nymphs had their special
dwelling-place in the Corycian Cave, which Pausanias mentions as one of
the four most famous caverns of the whole world, “among a total number
past finding out.” It was certainly the most remarkable one in Greece, a
country abounding in “caves that open upon the beach or in the deep
sea,” and in mountain caverns due to the frequent honeycombing by
earthquake and subterranean currents. Very large and containing two
chambers, it lies about seven miles northeast of Delphi, near the top of
one of the low hills which form the northern boundary of the Parnassian
uplands. According to the descriptions of travellers, the greater
chamber has slender stalactites hanging from the roof at both ends, and
at the inner end stalagmites rise from the ground to meet them. The
other chamber, like a remote shrine, must be reached through a narrow
passage and lies in almost total darkness. At the mouth of the cave an
inscription was found containing a dedication to Pan and the nymphs.
Certainly a fit abode for divine embodiments of soulless nature was this
vaulted, echoing grotto, whose cavernous mouth opens upon the widespread
beauty of an untamed world. Æschylus may have seen the “Corycian Rock”
or he may have trusted to the eyes of others in describing its hollow
loneliness, “the home of birds, and the resort of deities.”

If it is difficult to disentangle the myths which connect several gods
with one place, it is still more difficult to understand the legends
which hint at the infinite complexity of each god in any one of his own
several spheres. In studying the Delphic Apollo, the clear outlines of
the great god as he governed the Greek world will best be preserved by
noticing those stories which have been preferred by the poets. It was
natural that Æschylus should penetrate beyond any individualized form of
divine activity to primeval forces, following the legend which made
Apollo a late heir to the first owners of the oracle, to Earth herself
and to her daughter, holy Law. It was equally characteristic that
Euripides, with his eye for vivid detail, should have been attracted by
the story which begins with Leto’s golden-haired son coming from the
fruitful meadows of his birthplace, Delos, to the Dionysus-haunted
summit of Parnassus. Under its shadow, amid the thick-leaved laurel, lay
as guardian of the holy place a dragon with gleaming talons. This horrid
monster the young god slew, thereafter taking his seat upon the golden
tripod. Earth, appearing only as the mother of the dragon, sought to
wrest from him the right of prophecy. But, swift of foot, he fled to
Olympus and the throne of Zeus, and the king of the gods laughed and
shook his awful hair and gave to his youthful son in perpetuity the
sovereignty over the Delphic abode.

The Homeric Hymn to Apollo, which contains the oldest account of the
killing of the dragon, also relates that the god chose Cretans to be his
first ministers. Whatever the historical basis of this story may be, its
telling gives the riotous Ionian poet a chance to transform Phœbus
Apollo into a dolphin deflecting from its course a swift ship sent out
from Cretan Cnossus to Pylos on the border of the Ionian Sea. The
dolphin caused it to traverse strange waters, beyond Peloponnesus and
the ford of Alpheus, past the steep ridge of Ithaca and wooded
Zacynthus, into the harbour of Crisa. Here the dolphin disappeared and
the god leaped from the ship in the guise of a star at high noon, while
sparks of frequent fire flew from him and flash of splendour reached the
sky. On shore he appeared as a man, lusty and strong, and persuaded the
Cretans to dance in his train and to take charge of the temple. By
suggesting that they might use for themselves the flocks brought for
sacrifice, he overcame their fear that they would fare but meagrely in a
country neither vine-bearing nor rich in meadows.

The story of the hymn is too confused to be worthy of Apollo. He was no
music-hall performer, making lightning transformations, but lord, in
simplicity and dignity, of music and all harmonies, elder brother and
guide in the paths of conduct. So at least he reveals himself on a
spring morning beneath the Shining Rocks lit by his sunlight from the

But homelier memories also come to life. It may have been in the
“fragrant dawn” of a day like this that the boy Odysseus, while he was
on a visit to his grandfather, went hunting with his uncles in the windy
hollows of wood-clad Parnassus and killed a great boar. From its white
tusks he had received a wound which was to leave an indelible scar and
years later betray his identity to his aged nurse. Certainly it must
have been on such a morning that another boy, Ion the acolyte, was
performing his early tasks for the temple when visitors from Athens
arrived to question him about the sights. They were women who had
accompanied the queen Creusa when she and her husband, like many others,
came to Delphi in their childlessness. In her youth, before her marriage
to Xuthus, she had been loved by Apollo and had borne him a son in his
cave below the Athenian Acropolis. The baby had been abandoned by her,
but a servant had carried it to Delphi and left it as a foundling with
the priestess. Unknown to Creusa, he had grown into the boyish minister
of his divine father. The plot of the Euripidean drama which uses the
story is sensational, including attempted murders and many complications
before mother and child recognize and accept each other. But the boy Ion
is one of the happiest creations of a poet whom Aristophanes accused of
skepticism. His unstained youth consecrates his daily work of sweeping
the temple floor, adorning the doorway with fresh wreaths and laurel
boughs and driving away the wild pigeons. Reared by a holy woman in the
remote quiet of the sanctuary, he has become a vessel, crystal clear, to
hold the purest essence of religious feeling. His morning hymn reflects
the unspoiled reverence with which, among the greedy hordes, many must
have turned to Delphi:—

      “Lo! the radiant Sun, his four horses a-span!
      Now with splendour his car flingeth light o’er the earth,
      And the stars from the sky at this dazzle of fire
      Flee for refuge and hide in the temple of Night,
      And inviolate peaks of Parnassus are lit
          As they welcome the Day’s car for mortals.
      And the wilderness myrrh to Apollo’s high roof
      Curls fragrant and dim,
      And from tripod divine now the Delphian dread
      For the Hellenes intones with oracular cries
          What Apollo proclaims from his portals.

      “Up, ye Delphians all who to Phœbus give aid!
      To Castalian fount with its silvery whirl
      Go, wash ye, be cleansed in its pure running stream,
      And enter the shrine,
      Your lips guarding well, that in silence refrained,
      Or with words that are good, you interpret his voice
          Unto those who his counsels would follow.
      While I’ll serve at the tasks which from childhood are mine
      And with consecrate wreaths and with branches of bay
      I will make the ways pure to Apollo within.

      For a motherless child and unfathered I dwell
      As a ministrant here in the fostering care
          Of the temple of Phœbus Apollo.”

This unstudied rapture is interrupted by the worldly women, exclaiming
over the wonderful sculptured metopes of the temple. Euripides, with the
usual license of the Greek dramatists, put before his legendary
characters the works of art that he himself might have seen in the
latter part of the fifth century before Christ, when a rich civic and
artistic life was occupying the stage of the vast theatre into which, as
Strabo observed, Nature had moulded the site of Delphi. The semicircular
valley opens only on the east, and from it terraces, like tiers of
seats, rise from the Plistus to Parnassus. The ancient city of Delphi
lay in two portions along the base of the Shining Rocks. The modern
highroad approximately marks the division between the upper terraces,
which held the sacred precinct, and the lower, where were the houses and
business buildings of the permanent inhabitants, and also, east of
Castalia, a few temples and other public structures. It is the upper
terraces, west of Castalia, which enchain our attention, although all
that is left even here, save for the small reërected Treasury of the
Athenians, made of Parian marble, are remnants of walls, low-lying
foundations, traces of pavement, broken bases, and pieces of graven
stone. But they represent sacred ways and buildings, monuments and
statues which made glorious one of the richest centres of Greece, from
long before the time of Euripides to the destructive epoch of Nero and
beyond. Delphi became the pride of the Macedonians as it had been of the
Athenians and the Spartans, and under their sovereignty the Delphic
Amphictyony continued and the oracle was the centre of the new
widespread Hellenic world. The Gauls attacked Delphi in the third
century B. C. as vainly as the Persians had attacked it in the fifth
century. Even the ruthlessness of Rome brought no immediate destruction.
Æmilius Paulus, the final conqueror of Macedon, set up near Apollo’s
temple, in the most conspicuous place of the entire precinct, a monument
to his victory. Even Nero seems to have wished to repair the temple, but
the story that he afterwards tore it down because of an oracular
response which reflected upon his moral character is at least _ben
trovato_. He divided the Crisæan plain among his soldiers and carried
off an enormous number of statues from Delphi. But a still greater
number was left, and the glory of the god’s dwelling place had not
vanished. Under Hadrian, the imperial apostle of culture, new treasures
were added, and a little later Pausanias saw more than he could
describe. It was not until two more centuries had passed that the oracle
itself with one last cry became dumb forever. To the ambassador of
Julian the Apostate, who was seeking advice in his wars with the
Persians, the message was given:—

 “Say to the King now that levelled to earth is the temple of splendour,
 Phœbus no more has a roof for his head nor the laurel prophetic;
 Gone is the voice of the fountain and dried is the chattering water.”

Theodosius put a formal end to the Delphic cult as well as to the
Olympic games.

From Apollo’s slaying of the earth-born dragon to the Byzantine
emperor’s destruction of the oracle is a long stretch of centuries.
Within them fell the brilliant epochs which filled Delphi with the
opulence of all the arts. As Greek and barbarian brought hither their
well-wrought schemes and passionate desires, so they brought also, in
offerings to the god, their best skill in architecture and sculpture and
painting, their rarest workmanship in marble and bronze and gold and
silver. Ghostly proofs of the existence of some of these offerings the
French excavators have within twenty years evoked from the reluctant
soil. Gallic precision and insight have even made of ruined walls and
broken stones an orderly array easily perceived by the traveller who is
patient enough to follow his guidebook. The Museum supplements the
ground foundations by several important sculptural details.

There were many localities and objects made holy by legendary
associations, like the tomb of Neoptolemus, Achilles’s red-haired son,
whose murder is described by Euripides and whose quadrennial worship
brought crowds of Thessalians to Delphi; or like the marble Omphalos, or
navel stone, flanked, in Pindar’s day, by golden eagles which marked the
meeting place of the winged explorers sent east and west by Zeus in
search of the exact centre of the earth. But of paramount importance in
the religious life of Delphi was the Temple of Apollo, built above the
deep cleft in the ground that held the sacred spring of prophecy. The
Priestess sat upon a tripod in the adyton or holy of holies, directly
over the fissure from which a natural vapour issued, and her ravings
were transmitted by the priests in ambiguous hexameters. The site of the
first primitive temple was preserved, but upon it rose successive
structures. The temple that was seen by Herodotus and Thucydides, by
Pindar, by Æschylus and Euripides was built in the latter half of the
sixth century to replace an older one destroyed by fire. In the fourth
century an earthquake necessitated still another, and it is to this one
that the existing foundations are attributed, although fragments of the
other are not wanting. Owing to the shifting history of the fourth
century, this temple was long in building and was not yet completed when
Demosthenes thundered out his scorn that the barbarian of Macedon had
assumed the “honours of the temple,” to which even all the Greeks could
not pretend. The work had been undertaken by an international
commission, and inscriptional records of the contributions are richly
suggestive of the private life of the times. Many individuals and some
states promised first fruits. An actor and a physician of Athens sent a
tithe of their earnings. Among individuals the Peloponnesians were the
most pious, although contributions straggled in from Attica, Bœotia,
Northern Greece, the islands, Africa, and Sicily. Collectors went from
house to house, and by far the larger number of contributors gave no
more than a drachma. Doubtless in many cases this modesty was due to
poverty rather than to indifference, and the religious sentiment
prompting the gifts must often have been comparable to that which reared
the arches and illuminated the windows of the Cathedral of Chartres. For
the sake of such contributors one could wish that after the Roman
restorations the Delphic temple had not been allowed to crumble under
earthquakes, corroding rains, and the tread of the unnumbered years. Of
adyton and oracular chasm the excavators have found no smallest trace,
and not even one column rises from the low foundations to give evidence
of things unseen. But, at least, unlike the Parthenon and many another
great shrine, it was never converted into a church of an alien faith.

Secular buildings followed in the wake of the religious importance of
Delphi. The Amphictyonic Council had a hall for its meetings to the west
of the sacred precinct, on or near the site now occupied by the little
chapel of St. Elias. Here, in sight of the Crisæan plain, the incendiary
speech of Æschines had its full effect. Within the precinct, safe from
attack in times of war, public treasuries were erected by Asiatic kings
and Greek tyrants, by Greek states in Asia Minor and colonies in Italy,
and by sovereign cities like Athens and Thebes.

The erection of a treasury often followed upon some public success, but
other monuments and statues also rose at the feet of Apollo to mark the
tidal flow of national fortunes. A study of all such memorials, known to
have existed at Delphi, would be equivalent to a detailed study of Greek
history. The repulse of the Persians from the mainland and of the
Carthaginians from Sicily, and the stemming of the later invasions of
Gallic barbarians required thank-offerings to the Delphic god. The rise
of Athens, the struggle of Ionian and Dorian, the victory of Sparta, the
late hegemony of Thebes are here commemorated; and with these the lesser
quarrels of Sparta with Argos and Arcadia and of Athens with Megara, and
the petty warfare of Phocians and Thessalians.

A myriad of statues and monuments commemorated personal interests or
feeling. From a haul of tunny fish to the discovery of stolen goods, no
event was too prosaic to inspire an offering from island or village.
And, throughout Greece, from Macedonia to Crete, towns delighted to
express their reverence by gifts of marble and bronze. Midas from Asia
Minor sent a chair of state and Crœsus sent a golden lion and silver
bowls. Arcesilas of Cyrene in northern Africa, in the fifth century,
celebrated a Pythian victory by the gift of a sculptured chariot and
charioteer. The statue still remains, the most famous single object
discovered at Delphi. Dominating one room in the Museum, he seems in his
bronze dignity as untroubled by the chilling silence of to-day as was
his living prototype, in the hippodrome in the plain below, by the noise
and tumult of the day of victory. The description by Sophocles of the
Delphic chariot race in which Orestes was supposed to be killed
reproduces the excitement against which many a charioteer must have had
to steady his nerves.[27]

Footnote 27:

  The passage is quoted in chapter xviii, p. 406.

Of statues of mortals dedicated by themselves or by their admirers there
was no end. Among these persons were the great rhetorician Gorgias, to
whose teaching Greek prose owed its first artistic development, and
Phryne, the famous courtesan of Thespiæ. With her statue, seen by men of
Demosthenes’s age between the figures of the Spartan king Archidamus and
Philip of Macedon, we may surrender the effort to distinguish the links
in the mighty chains which, as in Plato’s vision, bound the Greek earth
to a heavenly throne.

It is less difficult to understand the Greek harmony between the graver
and brighter needs of the common life which added to the temples and
treasuries of Delphi buildings for recreation and enjoyment. A
club-house was erected by the rich Cnidians, where conversation, the
favourite amusement of all Greeks, could be carried on. Centuries later
Plutarch made it the scene of his dialogue on the decay of oracles. If
the age of the Antonines showed a loss of faith, art at least held its
own, and the talkers must have added to the pleasure of skeptical
speculation a delight in the decorations which dated from the fifth
century before Christ. They consisted of pictures by Polygnotus of the
capture of Troy and Odysseus’s journey to hell. Now only bits of stucco
painted blue betray their presence, and fragmentary stones alone are
left of the splendid building. Little more is left of the beautiful
colonnades which furnished protection from sun and rain to the frequent
crowds. In fairly good preservation still is the Theatre, where, as in
all the religious centres of Greece, dramatic representations added
literature to the pageant of artistic gifts. Equally inevitable was a
Gymnasium; but most important of all was the Stadium, in which the
quadrennial games were held.

This Stadium lay far beyond the sacred precinct to the west, and
occupied a lofty and magnificent situation. In what Pausanias calls “the
highest part of the city” the slopes of Parnassus break sufficiently to
leave a narrow shelf of flat ground. Every foot of this was used for the
erection of the structure, the northern side being bounded by the
precipices of the great mountain, the southern side being supported by a
wall of polygonal masonry. Part of this wall is still left, and in the
interior there are tiers of seats to tempt the dreamer. The marble with
which Herodes Atticus is said to have faced them in the second century
after Christ is now all gone. But one may yet sit on the original stone
and see not only the valley of the Plistus far below, but westward a
bright strip of the Corinthian Gulf. Here once gathered eager thousands
to watch the foot races and the wrestling matches, and to hear the
contesting flutes and the rival lyres. Originally, before the Crisæan
war, the Pythian festival had occurred only once in eight years and had
consisted of a contest in singing, to the accompaniment of the lyre, a
hymn to Apollo. The early musical festival found its aftermath in the
combination of musical with athletic contests in the more frequent
“Games” instituted by the Amphictyons after they had taken Delphi under
their common charge. This was a part of that general reorganization in
the sixth century by which the Pythian, Isthmian, and Nemean, and
especially the Olympic games were thrown into high relief among the
multitudinous festivals of Greece. At Delphi a hymn in honour of the god
of the golden lyre continued to be an important part of the proceedings.
Among the most conspicuous discoveries of the French are three fragments
of such hymns, engraved on stone, two of them accompanied by musical
notation. The hymns are late ones, of no especial merit, but their
scores have furnished a key to that art which played so large a part in
Greek education, literature, and philosophy, and which made the Pythian
festival a reminder of the lord of music.

Of the hymns in honour of mortals victorious in the games we still have
some of the greatest representatives in the Pythian odes of Bacchylides
and Pindar. Pindar may well boast that his song of triumph was a
splendour in the Pythian crown of Hiero of Syracuse; that he would come
to him over the deep sea, a light shining farther than any heavenly
star. For only through a victory at some one of the four great festivals
of Greece was even a tyrant sure of any Panhellenic honour. The
centrifugal forces of Greek life found an antidote in these expressions
of common ideals. It has, indeed, been often said that the only other
antidote lay in the political organization of Delphi itself. But this
political unity was limited, and, if Delphi focused Greek interests in
any way that even Olympia could not, the reason must be sought in facts
that lay beneath a particular form of government. In the lofty Stadium
men from cities whose disparate and jealous memorials lay below united
in self-forgetful applause of all the victors.

Here the traveller may pause to grasp, amid the chaos of swift
impressions, a picture of the Delphic life. In it religion and politics,
art and amusement coalesced into a stream of almost illimitable
influence. From month to month without cessation pilgrims sought the
oracle. The store of information about public and private matters thus
brought to the oracular seat gave to the priests a knowledge of
political conditions which they could easily transmute into an
apparently supernatural wisdom and a unique power in public life. Hand
in hand with this political power went an ethical sovereignty due to the
essential religiousness of the Greeks. And lastly, the more continuous
influx of visitors, over against an infrequent and congested festival,
may easily have rendered the artistic influence of Delphi more insistent
than that of Olympia. Xerxes was better acquainted with what was worthy
of note at Delphi than even with what he had left in his own house, for
many of those about him were continually describing the treasures. Often
the seed of such descriptions, or of actual sight, must have fallen on
richer soil than an Oriental despot’s imagination. Who knows what
village smithy in Thessaly or Arcadia was stimulated to a finer output
by the iron stand made by Glaucus of Chios to hold the big silver bowl
sent to Delphi by Crœsus’s father? Indeed, the wonderful animals and
plants wrought in relief for the first time upon welded iron may have
inspired many a designer in Athens and Corinth. And many a young
sculptor must have taken home from his Pythian pilgrimage a knowledge of
Phidias and Praxiteles and Lysippus.

Thus was the world forever pouring itself into Delphi and again, like a
retreating wave, bearing something of Delphi away with it, something
larger and richer even than the golden honours that were symbolized by
the crown of laurel so eagerly borne home by the victors in the games.
And yet there was a further significance in the fragile wreath itself,
however infrequently realized by athletes and spectators, which pointed
beyond the artistic and moral power of the Pythian God. The wreath was
made of leaves brought from, the Vale of Tempe, where Apollo had plucked
his own crown of victory, when, as lord of light, he had vanquished the
powers of darkness and had been purified from the evil which the
struggle had entailed. Laurel (or bay) trees grew in the valley of
Delphi itself, lingering on until the middle of the nineteenth century,
when the last one is said to have drooped and died in the little garden
of the church of St. Nicholas which, before Kastri was removed, stood in
front of the spring of Cassotis. This spring, not yet exhausted, was the
feeder of the oracular chasm and watered the grove of Apollo,
“freshening with an ever-living stream the undying gardens” from which
Ion gathered his laurel broom. Not only did the acolytes use laurel in
their simple tasks, but the Priestess fumigated herself with burning
boughs before she sat upon the tripod, and chewed laurel leaves before
she delivered her prophecies. But the meaning of Apollo’s crowning, from
which the sacred uses of the laurel sprang, was beyond the reach of Ion,
untroubled “worshipper within the Temple’s inner shrine.” Nor to moderns
is the revelation likely to come until the Shining Rocks grow pale and
night obliterates the lively daylight of the spring. Into the dark void
left by the withdrawal of Apollo swings the moon, no longer
compassionate but majestic. Suddenly upon the receptive imagination
descends the Delphic awe. The almond trees slip into shadowy
insignificance. The hills stand out dark and brooding, while their
ravines deepen unfathomably. And through the fearful silence sounds the
prophetic voice of an unseen god vaster than the consciousness of the
race which created him. The quality of sublimity and awfulness now
apparent in the landscape explains the influence of that ideal of
omnipotent righteousness which, among a singularly intellectual people,
gradually formed for itself a living centre. For an understanding of
such a god at Delphi one must turn to Æschylus. To him Apollo was a god
“who knew not how to do unrighteousness,” in whose hands were loosed the
tangled skeins of human sin. Sophocles, in his dramas of Œdipus’s life,
represented the folly and wrong-doing of a noble nature forgiven by the
Pythian god after the willing endurance of a just punishment. But
Æschylus, in the “Eumenides,” deals with a much subtler aspect of divine
law. That its opening scene is laid at Delphi is appropriate to the
overshadowing importance of its religious meaning. Orestes had been told
by the oracle to kill his mother, as a divinely ordained punishment for
her murder of her husband. But there is no slaying that does not involve
guilt, as Apollo himself knew when he slew the foul dragoness. The awful
Furies hound Orestes from Argos to the altar in the innermost shrine of
the Delphic temple. Here is laid the Æschylean scene. The Furies, with
their hair of coiling snakes, mutter in a savage sleep, ready at a
signal to fall once more upon the wretch who has obeyed the god against
the human conscience. The suppliant Orestes, doubting and hopeless,
crouches at the altar steps. And towering over them all stands the
saving God who had once, in a fair vale of purification, put upon his
own head the crown of victorious goodness. He promises Orestes no easy
rescue from the earthly consequences of his god-directed act. He must be
pursued once more by the hateful spawn of Darkness over the sea and
through sea-girt cities. But at last he shall come to Athens, a
suppliant of Athena, and Apollo himself will come and gain for him
freedom and the forgiveness of his kind, and justice among men shall be
forever established. This is no mere praise, however splendid, of the
wisdom and the justice of Athens. It is rather the embodiment of the
idea which to the Greeks shone as a “far-off heavenly star” above all
the expedients of practical religion, or all the necessities of worldly
power. Among the hills and cliffs of Delphi dwelt a god whose ways were
past finding out, whose commands led to terror but whose service led to

Thus with the lengthening of day into night rises the flood tide of
fragmentary realizations of ancient thought. But the tide ebbs with the
sinking moon. The cold night air draws the dreamer back to the waiting
fires and hospitable copper lamps of Kastri. As he makes his homeward
way through the low dark ruins, which are all that the intrepid
archæologists could summon from the grave of centuries, he is moved to
wonder whether Delphi, save for its natural beauty by day and by night,
has any place in modern thought. The ancient interpretation of its
importance was by no means only a religious one. The Greeks cannot be
understood only through an Æschylus of profound spiritual insight, or an
Herodotus of intelligent piety. Thucydides, amid the bustle of its life,
was as rationalizing in his ideas about Delphi as we can be amid its
dead ruins. To him as to us, its oracular power was a matter of
superstition. He would have attributed Socrates’s faith in it to his
goodness rather than his knowledge, and doubtless anticipated the modern
explanation of the wisdom of the priests. And yet Thucydides accepted
without question the political and civic value of such a centre for the
Greek world. Now that that value has disappeared with the world it
served, we are left to find a new value in the imperishable human
thoughts which were inspired by Delphi and have outlived its marbles,
its silver and gold, its laurel crowns and echoing lyres. For any
subsequent religion has but created, _mutatis mutandis_, the differing
types of men through whom we know the pagan god. If the oracle is dumb,
and Apollo but an antique fable, yet men of the twentieth century may
still find in the poets and thinkers of Greece expressions of their own
faith or their own doubt. They may find also that blending in one mind
of belief born of idealism with unbelief born of experience which is
familiar to the modern world. Pindar’s piety was such that “at Delphi
they kept with reverence his iron chair, and the priest of Apollo cried
nightly as he closed the temple, ‘Let Pindar the poet go in unto the
supper of the god.’” And yet he uttered the universal lament:—

  “Much tossed, now rise, now sink the hopes of men, the while they
  cleave the waves of baffling falsity, and never yet hath any one on
  earth obtained from God a token sure of anything to come. Blind is the
  verdict of the future.”

                              CHAPTER XII
                         FROM DELPHI TO THEBES

        “Ye triple pathways, shrouded crypt of woodland vale,
        Coppice, and narrowing pass where three roads meet! O ye
        Who drank my father’s blood—my own—from these my hands,
        Do ye, perchance, remember what ye saw me do?”
                                   SOPHOCLES, _Œdipus Tyrannus_.

Œdipus on his way from Delphi and Laius on his way from Thebes met at
the Forked Roads—the “Cleft Way”—in a lonely valley. The traveller who
wishes to see the scene of the ensuing tragedy will have the opportunity
to pass through a country of extraordinary beauty and variety and also
to know the leisured charm of travel by horse or mule. With the
multiplication of railroads these opportunities are growing rarer year
by year, except for those whom adventure or professional interests lead
into the less famous parts of Greece. The major portion of the country
that attracts students of Greek life at its highest is as easy to
traverse as Italy. It is true that the days which there have long since
receded into historical perspective seem in Greece strangely mingled
with the present, because the same traveller who to-day can take the
train from Athens to Thebes was forced, ten years ago, to ride or drive
over the passes of Cithæron. But already in the books of Greek travel
written in the second half of the nineteenth century we begin to
perceive that delicate aroma of a more primitive past which pervades
Goethe’s “Italienische Reise.” In addition to railroads, the matured
police power of the government has been a transforming agency. Not only
between Athens and Corinth but practically everywhere in Greece
brigandage is now unknown. And, finally, the onslaughts of dirt and
vermin have been greatly modified, both by the increasing number of
creditable inns in the larger places and by the ability of the peasants
in remoter villages to understand the prejudices of foreigners. Not very
long ago a request for information about almost any route that led away
from Athens might have been couched in the words of Dionysus asking
about the trip to Hades:—

             “And tell me too the havens, fountains, shops,
             Roads, resting places, and refreshment rooms,
             Towns, lodgings, hostesses with whom are found
             The fewest bugs.”[28]

Footnote 28:

  Aristophanes, _Frogs_, 112; translation (modified) by Rogers.


Now, in villages which are near important sites of antiquity, the rough
and ready traveller may meet with nothing more unfamiliar to him than
the Aristophanic flea that hops in the blankets like a dancing girl,
while those who take a dragoman, at a moderate price, and mattresses and
supplies from Athens may escape even this enemy, as well as beds of hard
boards and coarsely cooked food. A knowledge of modern Greek enables the
true Philhellene to dispense with a middleman and to receive proofs in
unexpected places of the unfailing hospitality and the alternating
integrity and guile of the Greek peasant.

Perched on the crest that forms the watershed between the eastern and
western lengths of the valley of the Plistus, the lovely village of
Arachova serves as a way-station on the pilgrimage from Kastri to the
Forked Roads. The first part of the road leads familiarly through the
precinct of Delphi, past the clump of plane trees which keep green the
memory of their ancestor planted by Agamemnon, and past Castalia, whose
waters, emerging from the gorge below the Shining Rocks, are as “sweet
to drink” as Pausanias found them and as clear as when they purified the
suppliants at the oracle and the ministering hands of the priests, or
laved the golden hair of the god himself.

Along the road that now stretches eastward the Persians streamed toward
Delphi at the time of Xerxes’s invasion. But near the temple of Athena
Pronaia, on the lower terrace, they were repulsed by terrible portents.
A storm of thunder burst over their heads; at the same time two crags
split off from Mount Parnassus and rolled down upon them with a loud
noise, crushing vast numbers beneath their weight, while from the temple
there went up the war cry and the shout of victory. The Delphians, who
were hiding in the Corycian Cave, seeing their terror, rushed down upon
them, causing great slaughter. And barbarian survivors declared
afterwards that two armed warriors, of a stature more than human,
pursued after their flying ranks, pressing them close and slaying them.
These supernatural warriors were two heroes who belonged to Delphi, by
name Phylacus and Autonous. For their timely aid they received precincts
and worship, Autonous by the Castalian spring, his comrade hard by the
road, practically identical with the modern highway, which ran above the
temple of Athena. The traces of this Heroon may yet be seen, faint
reminders of old-time tumults amid to-day’s oblivious silence. A little
farther is the so-called “Logari,” or likeness of a great door chiselled
in the face of a rock, representing, perhaps, the Gate of Hell. At least
it seems to have marked the entrance to an ancient cemetery which lay
below the road along the southern slopes now given over to orchards and
to tillage. Through them a road winds down toward the silvery Plistus,
twisting in and out among the gray-green olives and the almond trees. In
antiquity this was the road to the bustling town of Ambrosus by the pass
of Dhesphina over Mount Cirphis. Now the donkeys that saunter along it
are bearing peasant girls and their bags to the mills by the river.

The road to Arachova leads in a gentle ascent close along the lower
reaches of Parnassus on the left and high above the deep valley on the
right. The muleteers may turn aside to shorter mountain paths, but the
easy highway tempts to leisure while the sun is still warm in the west
and the brilliant pageant of the valley is but lightly subdued by the
delicate reserves of the approaching evening. Either route leads in less
than three hours to the foot of high precipices rising at the back of
windy Arachova, the representative of Homer’s Anemoreia (Windswept
Town). These cliffs, now called Petrites, are, perhaps, the Look-Out
Place often alluded to in ancient literature, the point of vantage from
which Apollo, the Far-Darter, shot his arrow at the dragon in Delphi.
The town itself, two thousand feet above the sea-level, is one of the
most typical of modern Greece both in situation and in those racial
characteristics which are forming a new nation out of the roots of the
old. The houses, interspersed with vivid green trees, gather about each
other in terraces up the hill to the high-poised church of St. George,
that other dragon slayer, while in its turn the little Christian edifice
is frowned down upon by the rocky mountain-side. The stony, twisted
streets, alive with children, often become staircases of rock, up and
down which the mules indifferently clatter. Stone courtyards lead to
doorways out of which handsome men and women smile an hospitable
welcome. The inhabitants of Arachova, perhaps because they live near the
Muses of Parnassus, possess a charm and courtesy of manner that is not
duplicated among the rougher peasants of the Peloponnesus. They are also
famous for their beauty, the gift of the Greeks from the time of Helen
and Achilles through all admixtures of foreign blood. The men are tall
and slim, with the dignity of carriage and chiselled fineness of feature
which distinguishes the Greek peasantry from the livelier Italian, and
the beauty of the women is grave and tranquil. The traveller may find
himself served by a fair mother and fairer daughter, whose name of
Sappho is belied by the shy, cool loveliness of her parted hair and
innocent eyes.

The Arachovans cherish brave traditions of their part in the War of
Independence, but their relation to antiquity is revealed in certain
elements of their imaginative life. Now, as of old, natural forces are
identified with the activities of divine beings. The snowstorms and icy
winds of winter are attributed to furious battles waged high up on the
peaks of Parnassus by the spirits of the mountain. Gentler spirits of
forest and fountain seem to have descended directly from antique
prototypes. The Corycian Cave, once the haunt of Pan and his nymphs, is
still a favourite resort of the Nereids. And these “Maidens,” as the
modern like the ancient Greek often calls them, dwell in many other
pleasant places, lingering in the old trunks of olive or fig trees, like
hamadryads, or tumbling sportively in mill streams and mountain
torrents, like the daughters of ancient Nereus among the waves of the
sea. Primarily, indeed, the Nereids are still water nymphs, and the
modern Greek word for water, _nero_, so often upon the tourist’s tongue,
echoes their immortal play. Nor has the fashion of their garments
greatly changed since the pictures of antiquity represented them with
long veils, now bound upon the head, now fluttering freely in the hand.
The peasants say that their Nereids wear a head cloth, always of the
finest quality but in style like the cloths worn by their own women,
hanging down over the neck and shoulders. At Arachova the Nereids go
with uncovered head and swing the cloth in their hands, as Leucothea
loosened her veil to give it to Odysseus when she rose like a sea-gull
from the depths of ocean to save his life. The Nereids have pipe-playing
lovers known as demons, in whom Pan and the satyrs seem to live on. And
Pan has his own special representative in the protective Lord of Hares
and Wild Goats, who still ranges the slopes of Parnassus. An evil spirit
in the shape of a he-goat with long beard, who leaps on the goats to
their destruction, hints at that other aspect of Pan revealed in the
malignant power of nature.

Another inheritance from antiquity are the Lamiæ. One of these female
monsters dwelt in a large cavern in the side of Mount Cirphis, still
accessible at the end of a blind path beyond the Plistus, and ravaged
the country all about until a brave hero put her to death. She, and
others of her ilk, were the bugbears of children, and they still live
among the Greek peasantry as vampirish demons. The name is also used as
a term of reproach for scolding women. But in Arachova, oddly enough,
the Lamia has been transformed by some kindly alchemy into a good
spirit, and is often seen in the dusk striding through the village
streets, or spinning at a huge distaff by a fountain’s rim. Her name is
given to handsome, well-behaved women, as beautiful girls are said to be
Nereid-descended or Nereid-eyed.

The modern Greeks also believe in the Fates or Moiræ, either as three
dread sisters or as a hierarchy of twelve who delegate the care of a
specified number of men to a smaller committee. At Arachova three fates
appear within three days of an infant’s birth, two known as the bearers
of good and of ill fortune, who fight the matter out and agree upon a
destiny, and the third called the Spinner, who will weave the strands
into the web of life.

Thus under the very eyes of St. George pagan spirits make common cause
with the angels and demons of Christianity. A hoof print on the edge of
a crag may betray the presence of the lord of hares and goats or of the
unmentionable Devil. An infant who dies unbaptised may claim to be the
victim of the ruthless Spinner, or may go to join in the air the imps
who war with the angels for the souls of men. Mountains and ether,
springs and tree-trunks, are filled with the divine forces created,
under the influence of two religions, by a people always sensitive to
the intimacy between the physical and spiritual worlds.

The Cleft Way lies two hours beyond Arachova, and six hours beyond that
is Chæronea, battlefield and railroad station. On a morning in March the
moon may be bright at six o’clock when the mules beat their way out of
the rough streets of Arachova to the open. The road descends from the
village and skirts the southern sides of Parnassus, leading through
vineyards and gorges and winding over a bare and rocky valley. The amber
moon grows white, and between the opening hills to the east the rising
sun sets the sky aflame. Gradually the gold and rose give way to
intense, brilliant blue. The twin peaks of Parnassus glisten in their
covering of snow. A pastoral charm, reminiscent of Theocritus’s Sicilian
uplands, mingles with the rugged impressiveness of mountain scenery.
Steep hillsides alternate with pastures, and here and there cool streams
curl about the heedless feet of mules and muleteers. Gradually the
severity of the landscape predominates. The road from Delphi along which
Œdipus, like ourselves, was coming, descends through a wild pass
enclosed by the mighty precipices of Parnassus and Cirphis, and in a
scene of impressive loneliness meets the roads from Daulis and
Thebes.[29] The spot is now called “Stavrodromi tou Mega,” or
Cross-Roads of Megas, in memory of a hero who was killed here in the
middle of the nineteenth century while destroying a band of brigands.
The story of the ancient deed of violence is put by Sophocles into the
mouth of Œdipus himself. The Delphic oracle had declared that Thebes
could be healed of its pestilence only by the punishment of the murderer
of Laius, the former king, and Œdipus had proclaimed the requisite
sentence against the unknown. Now he has begun to realize that he was
the slayer:—

      “And, wife, I’ll speak out truth to thee. When, journeying,
      I came hard by this three-forked road, there met me there,
      Just as thou tellest it, a herald and a man
      Mounted upon a carriage that was drawn by colts.
      And here the leader and the old man, too, himself,
      The pair of them, would thrust me rudely from the path,
      And I, enraged, strike him—the charioteer—who tried
      To push me off. And then the old man, seeing this,
      Fetched me a blow with two-pronged goad full on my head
      As I strode by. No equal penalty he paid,
      Not he. By one swift blow from staff in this my hand
      He’s rolled out straightway from the car upon his back,
      And I slay all of them! So, if there’s any kin
      ’Twixt Laius and this stranger, who is wretcheder
      Than this man now before thee? Who? what man, could be
      More hateful to the gods? Whom never any one,
      Or foreigner or citizen, may in his house
      Receive; whom none may speak to, nay, but from his house
      Must thrust! And this—these curses—none except myself
      Brought down upon me!”

Footnote 29:

  The local guides sometimes place the Cleft Way a little further along,
  in a very narrow pass, known as the “Steni.” Although this spot in
  some respects better corresponds to the language of Sophocles, the
  balance of authoritative opinion now supports the localization of the
  story at the first cross-roads.

From the Forked Roads travellers who must push on to Chæronea will look
regretfully at the path that leads to “lone Daulis” in “the high
Cephisian vale.” The little town is situated on the uneven summit of a
massive hill which rises abruptly from the glens at the eastern foot of
Parnassus, and of its bowery loveliness among pomegranates and olives
and almonds enticing tales are told. Here, according to a favourite
Greek legend, was the first home of the nightingale and the scene of
that “life enriched with sorrow, which her clear voice, insatiate,
bemoans.” The savage Tereus, king of Daulis, had married Procne, a
prehistoric princess of Athens, and after the birth of her son Itylus
had cut out her tongue and claimed that she was dead. He then married
her sister Philomela. The betrayed Procne, however, told Philomela the
truth by means of a web into which she had embroidered her story, and
the two sisters united in slaying the innocent Itylus and serving him up
as a meal to his father. The gods, in anger, transformed Procne and
Philomela into a nightingale and swallow, forever mourning Itylus, while
Tereus became a pursuing hawk. When spring comes, whether in Daulis or
Ithaca or by the “tranquil Thames,” the “pallid-olive” nightingale pours
forth her music, “bewailing her dead child.”

The ride from the Cleft Way to Chæronea, winding through the valley of
the Platania, a tributary of the Bœotian Cephisus, is rich in interest
and variety. A little to the west of Chæronea, on the border between
Phocis and Bœotia, lies Hagios Vlasis, a miserable village, known to
fame only because of its position under the ancient acropolis of
Panopeus. The importance of Panopeus was the subject of legend and
poetry rather than of history. From its clay Prometheus fashioned the
human race, and from its people sprang Epeios, the inventor at Troy of
the wooden horse. Here also the giant Tityos lived and died. He had
violated Leto as she went up to Delphi through Panopeus “of the fair
dancing places,” and for this sin Odysseus found him in Hades sprawling
over nine roods of levelled ground, his liver gnawed by vultures.
Pausanias was perplexed by the Homeric epithet for the town until the
inhabitants explained to him that the Mænads on their way to Parnassus
stopped at Panopeus for preliminary dances. Dionysus may have passed
this way with his mysterious quickening, as Apollo did with his ordered
inspiration. Thus the insignificant town was the legendary scene of
man’s birth and of important episodes in his mental and moral

Beyond Hagios Vlasis lies another modern village in the shadow of an
ancient acropolis. Between Phocis and Bœotia there is no natural
boundary, but the large plain of Chæronea sweeps westward into Phocis
and eastward into Bœotia to what used to be the Copaic lake. On the
north and south the plain is enclosed by barren mountains, and the town
of Chæronea, unlike Panopeus, spread out from the base of its acropolis
at the foot of the southern and lower hills. Its modern representative
is the hamlet of Kapræna, which displays a few legacies of antiquity and
from which can be seen the two peaks of Petrachus, the sharp and steep
acropolis. The chapel of Panagia (the Virgin) contains a chair of white
marble called the chair of Plutarch. The great biographer was born in
Chæronea, and the worshipful preservation of his name in the little
Christian church reminds one of the appearance of the equally
respectable Plinies on the exterior of the cathedral of their native

But the dominant interest of Chæronea is the battle which, in 338 B. C.,
was lost by the forces of Greece united against Philip of Macedon. No
single account of the terrible defeat has been handed down by dramatist
or historian, as Æschylus and Herodotus immortalized the victories of
Salamis and Marathon, and only general facts in the struggle are known
to us from lesser writers. Before the march to Chæronea Demosthenes had
risen in the Assembly, at a terrified meeting in the cold and hopeless
dawn, and persuaded the Athenians to make a hasty alliance with Thebes
against the encroachments of Philip. In the battle the Athenians held
the left wing while the right, the post of honour, was given to the
famous Sacred Band of the Thebans. Between them were gathered the other
allies. Against the Thebans at the crucial moment Philip turned his
cavalry under the command of the young Alexander. As the struggle became
hopeless the Athenians retreated, but the members of the Sacred Band
fought until they fell, raising one last memorial to their great
founder, Epaminondas, and offering one last atonement for the cowardice
of Thebes in the Persian wars.

The victory of Macedon was not so much wrested from the Greek arms as it
was due to ineradicable defects in the Greek political character. It was
characteristic of all Greek history that the allies should have formed
no united and harmonious army under one fully empowered leader. The
intense individualism which made Greece supreme in the arts and in
science and philosophy left her at the mercy of peoples able to
subordinate single wills to a national purpose. In the presence of the
architecture, sculpture, and literature of the Greeks it is impossible
to deplore their unthwarted intellectual freedom, their keen
sensibilities, their genius for personal development. But at Chæronea it
is easy to see not only the disintegration, but also the demoralization
of a national life which lacked the heroic sacrifice of self and the
persistence of a common controlling ideal as much as it lacked
administrative genius and political wisdom.

But it must be remembered that such inclusive strictures on the Greek
character can be made only when we follow the prejudices of Philip’s
enemies in excluding Macedon from the Greek states. In the perspective
of history it is clear that Chæronea opened the way for a new Hellenic
state to create a new national life in which discord should give way to
unity and individualism to a world empire. Nevertheless the rise of
Macedon was not continuous with the former life of Greece as were the
successive hegemonies of the older states. The monarchy of Philip
obliterated not only the existing commonwealths but their modes of
government. Politically the loss was swallowed up in gain. Aristotle’s
polity has rightly been called provincial in comparison with his pupil’s
empire in which there was neither Greek nor barbarian. But in the world
of ideas no substitution was an adequate atonement. The ideals of
liberty which the older states had cherished and in which their
intellectual and artistic life had been nurtured were lost at Chæronea.
In this sense the Athenians were right in saying that here ended the
freedom of Greece.

More than two centuries later a lesser victory was won at Chæronea by
Sulla over the forces of Mithridates, king of Pontus. Two trophies were
erected by the Roman general, and were afterwards seen by Pausanias.
“But Philip, the son of Amyntas, set up no trophy, neither at Chæronea,
nor for any other victory that he won over barbarians or Greeks, for it
was not a Macedonian custom to erect trophies.” On this field the only
trophy was the one erected by the defeated to the dead. The Athenians
who fell were buried in the Cerameicus, and Demosthenes, who had fought
in the ranks, pronounced over them a funeral oration. The Thebans were
buried on the field. “No inscription,” says Pausanias, “is carved on the
tomb, but a lion is placed on it, perhaps in allusion to the spirit of
the men. The reason why there is no inscription I take to be that their
fortune did not match their valour.”

This lion may be seen to-day about a quarter of a mile beyond Kapræna,
just before one turns toward the modern railroad station of Chæronea.
For centuries it had lain in fragments, but in 1902 the broken pieces
were fitted together with a result extraordinarily impressive. Upon a
pedestal ten feet high sits erect a great beast of gray stone, lifting
into the free air a massive unbowed head, and rivalling in the
guardianship of Chæronea the greater Inspector who, possibly after this
same battle, was invoked by an unknown poet:—

                “O guardian Time, Inspector General
                  Of mortals’ doings manifold,
                Be herald of our fate to men, to all,
                How we the holy land of Greece essayed
                To save, and, dying, plains Bœotian made
                  Renowned in story never old.”

The road turns at a sharp angle in front of the lion and runs in placid
monotony to the station situated near the banks of the Cephisus.
Pausanias closes his chapter on Chæronea by a rare reference to the
common people of his own day, who gathered flowers and from them
distilled “balms for the pains of men.” In a modern chapter the end
comes, not with the haunting fragrance through summer fields of plucked
lilies and healing roses, but with the scream of an engine as the Athens
express breaks into the little station. The train goes straight through
Bœotia to the bright city in the Attic plain. But on the way lies Thebes
of the seven gates.

                              CHAPTER XIII
                           THEBES AND BŒOTIA

    “O Thebè blest, wherein delighteth most thy heart? in which of
    all the noble deeds wrought in thy land in days gone by? Gone
    by, I say, for now the Grace of olden time is fallen upon


Of Bœotia more than of any other province of Greece is our involuntary
judgment likely to be at fault, for the ancient distinction between the
quick-witted Athenians and the stupid Bœotians has passed into our own
proverbial language. But our inherited contempt for the Bœotian “clowns”
is rather a tribute to the persistent intellectual domination of the
Athenians than an accurate reflection of the truth. Indeed, if we
examine the sources of the tradition, we find that the original verdict
was popular and unreasoned, receiving its literary support in comedy
which deliberately appealed to vulgar prejudices. “If you have good
sense, you will avoid Bœotia,” was the mocking advice of Pherecrates,
the distinguished forerunner of Aristophanes, and to the comic poets of
the following centuries Bœotian gluttony and Bœotian clumsiness were an
unfailing resource to pleasure the fickle humours of the crowd.

[Illustration: BOEOTIA]

In the serious literature of the great periods Bœotia is treated with
respect. Plutarch complains that Herodotus misrepresented Thebes in the
Persian Wars, and warns his readers that as there are venomous insects
at the heart of roses so beneath the historian’s delightful and
persuasive style lurk defamation and vituperation of “the noblest and
greatest cities and men of Greece.” But if Herodotus has diverged from
the truth, in this instance a questionable supposition, he has at least
looked upon Thebes as an enemy and not overlooked her as a boorish
community. In the history of Thucydides also, and even of the bigot
Xenophon, Bœotian cities make a dignified, if not always virtuous,
appearance among the actors on the national stage.

In poetry Bœotia receives her full rights as a contributor to the
imaginative life of Greece. In Homer not only is the Bœotian harbour of
Aulis the meeting place of the Greek fleet before it sets sail for
Ilium, but also Bœotian landscapes beautify heroic episodes with their
rivers flowing between green banks, their open meadows and bright
groves, their flocks of tame doves and grassy ways. In the Homeric Hymns
Bœotian vineyards and furrows bloom under the swift feet of
golden-haired Apollo and mischievous Hermes. Above all, in the Attic
dramatists Bœotian Thebes is the scene of the epiphany of gods and of
the sorrows of humanity. The legendary past of this city was crowded
with personages whose glories and whose dooms were on so grand a scale
that they became to the tragic poets of Athens, and still are to us,
symbols of the unceasing conflict between will and destiny. The Theban
legends more than any others, save those of Argos, appealed to Æschylus,
Sophocles, and Euripides as fitted for their dramatic purpose of
arousing “pity and terror.” In using this material they displayed a
familiarity with the Thebes of their own day which is a striking proof
that men of sense and feeling could delight in Bœotia. Æschylus
perceived the fertility of the land and the fairness of Dirce, goodliest
of streams. Sophocles seems to have heard and never forgotten the soft
murmur of the river Ismenus. And Euripides knew intimately the wild ivy
growing over the city towers and the berries and flowers of the city
gardens, the golden wheat-fields and cooling springs of the surrounding
country, the “deep pine greenery” and “fallen oak leaves” within the
forests of Mount Cithæron, the mountain torrents cleaving the narrow,
crag-topped glens, the gleaming snow forever resting on the mountain’s

Furthermore, Bœotia had its own traditions of culture. Although creative
artistic power was exemplified only in Hesiod, the originator of a new
literary movement, and in Pindar, the most eminent lyric poet of Greece,
there was revealed in the architecture, sculpture, and painting which
enriched cities and sanctuaries, and in the poetry and music which were
conspicuous at festivals, a critical taste as trustworthy as any outside
of Attica. Educational ideals also tended toward a genuine if not always
vigorous cultivation. Plutarch’s ripe refinement is a late but not a
solitary example.

Thus accoutred against prejudice we may hope more fairly to appraise the
good and the evil in Bœotian life.

Bœotia has one of the most fortunate situations in Greece, for its
frontiers are either protected by high mountains or border on two arms
of the sea—the Gulf of Corinth and the Gulf of Eubœa—which in antiquity
connected her with the extended maritime life of Greece and put her into
easy communication with Attica and the Peloponnesus.

Within the mountain barriers the Bœotian country consists of two plains
separated by hills. The flatness of the northern plain is unrelieved,
and the rivers that flow into it, like the Cephisus, find no outlets
except by katavothras or channels which they force for themselves under
Mount Ptoön in the north. The frequent stoppage of these channels turned
a large part of the plain into the famous Copaic Lake, the drainage of
which moved prehistoric engineers to wonderful feats, tempted to
comparative failure the less expert engineers of successive historic
periods, and has finally been accomplished by modern skill. Within a few
years a British company has reclaimed for the growing energies of modern
Greece thousands of acres of land that will yield two crops a year.

The southern basin of Bœotia is smaller and also less homogeneous and
monotonous than the northern. Thebes occupies a small plateau of its own
on the northern side of a low range of hills that divides it from the
larger part of the plain, given over to the beautiful valley of the

The fertility and charm of Bœotia may still be appreciated. In antiquity
cities and towns, busied with the industries of the soil and of the sea,
gave evidence also of the practical resources supplied by Nature. And
yet it must be admitted that the historical importance of Bœotia falls
somewhat short of its obvious advantages. Only after Athens and Sparta
had risen successively to the hegemony of Greece and again lost their
power did Thebes play a leading rôle in national politics. And at no
time did Bœotians vie either in energy or genius with the people of
barren Attica. An explanation often given is that the unhealthful
climate and heavy atmosphere of the country modified natural impulses to
enterprise. The Athenians, as we have seen, laid great stress on the
brilliant freshness of their own air as promoting intelligence. But
another explanation takes into account the mystery of racial
characteristics. Before Bœotia was conquered, sometime in the centuries,
preceding Homer, by the northern race from Epirus and Thessaly which
gave the country its name and began the “historic period,” there existed
both in the north and in the south older peoples of evident wealth and
power. For centuries Orchomenus was the leading city, not only of the
northern plain but of the whole country. Its mighty kings and golden
splendour were still a bright memory to Homer, and excavations have
brought to life for us indications of the richness of its civilization.
Exceptionally impressive and interesting ruins of a fortress now known
as Goulas (or Gha or Gla) have been discovered on what used to be the
eastern bank of the Copaic Lake. And at Thebes also we shall find traces
of a people as advanced as any in prehistoric Greece. In the early ages
the air of Bœotia does not seem to have prevented conspicuous progress
in political power or in the arts. The northern invaders, then, would
seem to have been responsible for the defects of later history, failing
to construct a civilization equal to the one they had been able to
destroy. In the case of the arts especially, it is significant that
Pindar, the only Bœotian poet of the first order, was not of unmixed
Bœotian blood, but belonged to a branch of the Ægidæ, who traced their
pedigree back to the pre-Bœotian rulers of Thebes. Of this descent,
distinguished in the eyes of all Greeks, Pindar was justly proud. And
yet he was a loyal son of Thebes and assumed his share in the “ancient
reproach” of “Bœotian swine.” We are at liberty, therefore, to emphasize
his country before his blood.

Modern Thebes is huddled on the site of the ancient acropolis, its
poverty serving as a reminder of the desolation which as early as
Strabo’s time had fallen upon one of the great cities of Greece.
Pausanias found the lower city deserted, save for the sanctuaries, the
population being restricted to the acropolis, and Dio Chrysostom had
seen a solitary image standing among the ruins of the old market-place.
In the middle ages Fortune returned to Thebes from time to time, but
under the Turks deserted her in apparent despair. Doubtless the town
will revive as the modern nation gathers its forces. In the mean time it
serves to indicate the area of the stronghold or acropolis built by the
prehistoric settlers. Before the middle of the fifth century the city
had grown westward to the stream of Dirce, and eastward to the river
Ismenus. After that time, as is evident from remains of city walls, the
area was even more extended.

The mythological past of Thebes was greater than any of its historic
periods. Her early citizens shone brilliantly among those—

           “Lights of the age that rose before our own
           As demigods o’er Earth’s wide region known,
           Yet these dread battle hurried to their end;
           Some, where the sevenfold gates of Thebes ascend,
           Strave for the flocks of Œdipus in fight,
           Some war in navies led to Troy’s far shore.”[30]

Footnote 30:

  Hesiod, _Works and Days_, 160. Translated by Elton.

The story of Cadmus, the legendary founder of Thebes, is one of the best
examples of the legends by which the Greeks reconstructed their early
history. As if by “shadows of dreams” they were haunted by the memory of
ancient adventures and enterprises, by movements of whole peoples and
bright deeds of early heroes. And in spite of their arrogant aloofness
in historic times from all “barbarians,” they admitted, in the stories
into which their racial imagination shaped the formless facts of
prehistoric life, a close connection with foreign peoples. So Cadmus was
said to be a Phœnician going forth from his own land and settling in
Bœotia before it was known by that name. Whatever the Phœnician
connection was, whether direct or by way of Crete, whether by
colonization or merely by trading stations, it is certain that a
pre-Bœotian people occupied Thebes and were displaced by northern
invaders, who in their turn, at one time or another, seem to have been
forced on by the pressure of Illyrians from Epirus. These facts the
Greek people made into a story of individual adventure, and this story
Greek poets made dramatic and universal. Cadmus was son of a Phœnician
king and brother of the ravished Europa. Sent by his father to find his
sister, and not daring to return without her, he asked advice of the
Delphic oracle. He was told to follow a cow until she should lie down.
This strange behest led him through Phocis to Thebes. Here, like most
heroes, including Apollo, who wished to take possession of strange
earth, he was obliged to slay a dragon. Athena, his special guardian,
bade him sow the dragon’s teeth, and from these sprang up an armed brood
of warriors, known thereafter as the “Spartoi” or Sown Men. Cadmus
watched them fight with each other until only five were left, with which
doughty remnant he built up the Cadmeia, or original Acropolis of
Thebes. Like Apollo again, he was forced to atone for the murder of the
dragon by serving Ares for a term of years. At the end Ares gave him to
wife Harmonia, his daughter by Aphrodite, and Cadmus began a glorious
reign. But his patient bondage to Ares had won only a temporary
pacification, and to his children and grandchildren passed the
relentless curse. Œdipus was his direct descendant. Even in Cadmus’s
lifetime two daughters and two grandsons met with violent deaths, and he
and his queen Harmonia went far away to Illyria and became rulers of the
Enchelians. There they were changed into serpents, “bright and aged
snakes,” and were compelled by fate to lead their barbarian people in an
invasion of Greece. Matthew Arnold follows Ovid in making them “among
the green Illyrian hills,”—

             “Wholly forget their first sad life and home,
             And all that Theban woe, and stray
             Forever through the glens, placid and dumb.”

But Euripides represents the old king as filled with evil presentiment:—

                          “Far off to barbarous men,
            A grey-haired wanderer, I must take my road.
            And then the oracle, the doom of God,
            That I must lead a raging horde far-flown
            To prey on Hellas; lead my spouse, mine own
            Harmonia, Ares’ child, discorporate
            And haunting forms, dragon and dragon mate,
            Against the tomb and altar stones of Greece,
            Lance upon lance behind us; and not cease
            From toils like other men—nor dream, nor past
            The foam of Acheron find my peace at last.”[31]

Pindar in his radiant vision of the future life beyond the foam of
Acheron places Cadmus with Peleus in the company of the mighty dead who
dwell at peace forever within the islands of the Blest. The earthly life
of both heroes he uses to illustrate to Hieron, lord of Syracuse and
Fortune’s favourite, the adage inherited from the men of old: “For every
boon to men the gods deal double bane.”

Footnote 31:

  _Bacchæ_, 1354. This and the following quotations from this play are
  taken from the translation by Gilbert Murray.

  “Blest with life secure was neither Peleus, son of Æacus, nor Cadmus,
  match of gods. And yet, ’tis said, of mortals all ’t was they who
  gained the highest bliss. For they could hear the golden-snooded
  Muses’ song, or on the mountain-side, or midst the seven gates of
  Thebes, when Cadmus took to wife large-eyed Harmonia and when the
  other wed the glorious Thetis, maiden child of Nereus. Gods shared
  with both their banquet, and they both beheld the sons of Cronos
  seated, kings on thrones of gold, and from them wedding gifts
  received, and Zeus’s grace requited them for former toil, uplifting
  high their hearts. Yet in the after-time sharp anguish of his
  daughters three robbed Cadmus of his share of joy. So too from him,
  whom as her only son immortal Thetis bare in Phthia unto Peleus, fled
  his life, by arrow sped in war.”

Pindar’s song of praise “flitting like a bee from tale to tale” paused
often upon the legends of his “mother Thebes.” Among others he tells the
story of Heracles’s birth at Thebes and of his speedy slaying, while yet
in swaddling clothes, of monstrous snakes that approached his cradle.
The most tragic episode of Heracles’s life, his madness and his murder
of his children, also occurred at Thebes, according to the version of
the legend used by Euripides in his drama of “The Mad Heracles.” But
this play is of little poetic importance in comparison with the plays
that deal with the curse-haunted house of Cadmus. Neither Euripides nor
Sophocles, in their single extant experiments with the tragedy of
Heracles, display the sympathetic genius which has given permanent value
to the stories of Pentheus and Œdipus. The two plays, however, which
rest upon these legends are famous for antipodal reasons. The “Œdipus
Tyrannus” of Sophocles was selected by Aristotle as the most perfect
specimen, in technical construction, of the Greek drama, and is
treasured now as the model of what is most restrained, most profound yet
clear, most “Hellenic” in Greek literature. The “Bacchæ” of Euripides,
on the other hand, is more “un-Hellenic” than any play or poem that has
come down to us, more resplendent in fancy, more wild in theme, more
incomprehensible in purpose.

Pentheus was the son of Agave and the grandson and successor of Cadmus.
But his fame was born of his futile conflict with another daughter’s
greater son. Semele, loved by Zeus and at her own request visited by him
in the full panoply of his splendour, had been consumed in the
lightning’s fire, and her child Dionysus had been snatched from her womb
by its divine father and hidden within his own thigh to issue in time as
the strangest of all the gods. Popularly known as the “god of wine,” he
was in reality a Lord of Many Voices, a Spirit of Guiding Fire, a
Mountain Bull, a Snake of a Hundred Heads, a Master of the Voices of the
Night, a Lover of Peace, a Giver of Good Gifts, a God, a Beast, a
Mystery. His worship, originating among the gloomy Thracians and the
mystical yet sensuous Orientals, was late in winning its place in
cultivated Athens. Only with very great difficulty can we discover the
threads of belief which made out of the newcomer a gracious lord of the
vintage, a dispeller of care and teacher of mirth, a prophet, a guide in
all the arts of civilization and, more mysteriously still, a suffering
god, both redeemer and redeemed, a companion at Eleusis of Demeter and
Persephone. Because, however, of the persistent clarity of the Greek
imagination, the god now and again emerges from amid the chaos of
functions and attributes in a concrete form of beauty. In the Homeric
Hymn written in his praise he is a youth with dark hair and dark and
smiling eyes standing on a headland that juts above the unharvested sea,
while the ocean winds blow about his shoulders a purple robe. To
Euripides he is—

             “A man of charm and spell, from Lydian seas,
             A head all gold and cloudy fragrancies,
             A wine-red cheek, and eyes that hold the light
             Of the very Cyprian.”

The distinguishing feature of all Dionysiac worship was the frenzied
raving of its votaries. Women especially were mastered by the strange
desire to join in the revels, and, since the intellectualized life of
Athens was hostile to insane manifestations of religious fervor,
Athenian women made frequent pilgrimages to places where the wildness
of nature welcomed the wildness in the heart of man. We have already
seen them travelling to the uplands of Parnassus. Mount Cithæron was
another favourite gathering place. The women in Aristophanes’s
“Thesmophoriazusæ” cry aloud:—

              “Sing, evoë! and sing again,
              Shout for Bacchus the glad refrain.
              Cithæron echoes around thee, hark!
              And the mountain coverts green and dark,
              And a roaring comes floating adown, between,
              Through bosky gorge and rocky ravine.”

Perhaps the most adventurous would sometimes make their way to the bleak
hills near Pella, the capital of Macedonia, where queen and peasant met
in Bacchic excesses. Euripides spent the last years of his life at
Pella, and it has been thought that there he conceived the idea of
writing a play to portray Dionysus’s triumphal entrance into Thebes
against the will of Pentheus. Be this as it may, certainly Thebes and
Cithæron are more than a perfunctory _mise-en-scène_ for the “Bacchæ.”
In no other Greek play is the reader so conscious of the presence of

Dionysus comes from the East to defend his mother’s memory and to
establish his worship in her city. Pentheus opposes him in spite of the
wisdom of Cadmus and the warnings of the soothsayer Tiresias. The god
constrains the women of Thebes, including Pentheus’s mother and her
sisters, who long ago had tempted the young Semele to her destruction,
to follow him to Mount Cithæron. Pentheus is then led to spy upon their
revels. They take him for a wild beast and his own mother tears him to
pieces. At the end, restored to an agonized reason, she becomes an exile
from her home. Cadmus goes to his fate among the Illyrians. Dionysus is
rapt from mortal sight in a cloud. It is a disputed question whether
Euripides was moved to this portrayal of a cruel godhead by the subtlest
impiety, or by a belated desire to be considered orthodox, or by a
realization of the savage power that lies at the heart of life and
cannot be gainsaid. At any rate he has woven into the plot the pathos of
which he is master, in the reiterated suggestions of the tie between
parent and child: the young god stirred to triumphant action by the
memory of his dead mother; the living mother wildly bringing her son’s
head in from the mountain, and calling upon him to come and glory in her
lion-hunting; the old father deciding to lead his daughter back from the
shadows of madness, even if the path of truth ends in grief and pain.
And the whole nexus of religion, pathos, and inherited curse is spread
before us in colours of flame.

The play is pervaded by the dances and the songs of the Mænads who have
followed Dionysus—

             “From Asia, from the dayspring that uprises,”

and who irresistibly draw to their ranks the matrons and maidens of

             “All hail, O Thebes, thou nurse of Semele!
               With Semele’s wild ivy crown thy tresses,
             Oh, burst in bloom of wreathing bryony,
                 Berries and leaves and flowers;
               Uplift the dark divine wand,
               The oak-wand and the pine-wand,
             And don thy fawn-skin, fringed in purity
                 With fleecy white, like ours.

             “Oh, cleanse thee in the wands’ waving pride!
               Yea, all men shall dance with us and pray,
             When Bromios his companions shall guide
               Hillward, ever hillward, where they stay,
                 The flock of the Believing,
                 The maids from loom and weaving
               By the magic of his breath borne away.”

The picture of the women as they finally have taken possession of
Cithæron is painted for Pentheus by a shepherd. Upon this passage and a
few others in the play rests Mr. Symonds’s discriminating statement that
“the ‘Bacchæ,’ like the ‘Birds,’ proves what otherwise we might have
hardly known, that there lacked not Greeks for whom the ‘Tempest’ and ‘A
Midsummer Night’s Dream’ would have been intelligible.” And for this
magic not only Euripides’s brilliant fancy but also Mount Cithæron
itself is responsible.

           “Our herded kine were moving in the dawn
           Up to the peaks, the grayest, coldest time,
           When the first rays steal earthward, and the rime
           Yields, when I saw three bands of them. The one
           Autonoë led, one Ino, one thine own
           Mother, Agave. There beneath the trees
           Sleeping they lay, like wild things flung at ease
           In the forest; one half sinking on a bed
           Of deep pine greenery; one with careless head
           Amid the fallen oak leaves; all most cold
           In purity—not as thy tale was told
           Of wine-cups and wild music and the chase
           For love amid the forest’s loneliness.”

The lowing kine awake them and they gird on their dappled fawn-skins:—

                             “Then they pressed
           Wreathed ivy round their brows, and oaken sprays
           And flowering bryony. And one would raise
           Her wand and smite the rock, and straight a jet
           Of quick bright water came. Another set
           Her thyrsus in the bosomed earth, and there
           Was red wine that the god sent up to her,
           A darkling fountain. And if any lips
           Sought whiter draughts, with dipping finger-tips
           They pressed the sod, and gushing from the ground
           Came springs of milk. And reed-wands ivy-crowned
           Ran with sweet honey, drop by drop.”

The curse laid upon Cadmus destroyed all his daughters, and among his
grandchildren not only Pentheus but also Actæon who, because he saw
Artemis at her bath in one of Cithæron’s still pools, was torn to pieces
by his own hunting dogs. Cadmus’s only son, Polydorus, and his son’s
son, Labdacus, were strangely spared. Then once more Nemesis rose to the
pursuit. The son of Labdacus was Laius, who was unwittingly murdered by
his son, Œdipus, and the doom of Œdipus is the subject of the “Œdipus

Cithæron still towers on the horizon; in its “winding glens” the infant
Œdipus had been exposed and rescued by a vagrant hireling in charge of
mountain flocks. But the play takes us back to the city, with its royal
palace and temples and market-place. As usual, it is the Thebes of
Sophocles’s day that is used for scenery. The drama opens when the
fruitful country has been laid waste by a pestilence and her citizens
are praying to Artemis, whose temple stands in the Agora, to Apollo at
his oracular seat by the river Ismenus, and to all the gods by the altar
in front of the royal palace. But in these few hints all localized
interest is exhausted. The austere and disciplined beauty of the
dramatic structure throws into high relief the pitifulness and the
terror of a father’s sin at work in the third and fourth generation, and
of the human struggle against destiny. The universal truth of the
tragedy as apprehended by Sophocles was as independent of the walls of
Thebes as of the confines of the theatre in Athens. And yet in modern
Thebes, itself the shadow of a greater past, we may realize afresh the
catastrophe that befell the ancient king. He had saved the city by
guessing the riddle of the Sphinx and thus destroying her. He had been
acclaimed as king in place of Laius, slain by an unknown hand, and had
married Iocasta, Laius’s queen. Now he promises to save his people from
the pestilence by obeying the Delphic command that the slayer of Laius
shall be found and exiled. He discovers that he is the murderer, and, in
a crescendo of horror, that he is the son both of the man he murdered
and of his own wife. In spite of their effort to kill him in his
infancy, he has reappeared, the innocent agent of their destruction, as
the irrefutable god of prophecy had foretold. Iocasta hangs herself.
Œdipus’s children face a world that will remember against them the sin
of their father. He puts out his eyes, and goes into voluntary exile,
defeated by fate, a broken-hearted fugitive, not yet conscious that in
the surrender of his will to God he may atone and be at peace. Borne
from afar upon the quiet air of to-day we may hear ghostly echoes of the
songs of the people that watched him. He was an example of the emptiness
of life:—

                 “O generations of mankind,
                 How all your life I ever find
                 With Naught and Nothingness aligned!
                 For who, what man the wide world o’er,
                 Of happiness e’er gaineth more
                 Than only this—to have his own
                 He dreams, and as he dreams ’tis gone.
                 Thy fate, thine, Œdipus, beholding,
                 O luckless one, thy wretched fate,
                 And from it my opinion moulding
                 Naught mortal I congratulate.”

And he also exemplified the truth of Solon’s aphorism that no one should
be congratulated before the end:—

 “Ye who dwell in Thebes our city, look, behold this Œdipus,
 He who solved the fam’d enigma, and did prove himself the best.
 Now he’s come to what an ocean of calamity and dread!
 Well it were then, being mortal, to that last and awful day
 That we onward turn our vision and count no one fortunate
 Till the race course he has finished and has reached life’s goal

In spite of the repentance of Œdipus, the ancient curse fell upon his
children, and their dooms also became the subjects of dramas. Æschylus,
in the “Seven against Thebes,” deals with the story of Eteocles and
Polyneices, whose own folly was the immediate cause of their ruin. They
had agreed to rule Thebes alternately, but Eteocles once in possession
refused to abdicate. Polyneices raises in Argos an army led by Adrastus,
with which he advances against his country. Civil war follows, and the
brothers kill each other. This story gave Æschylus two dramatic
opportunities peculiarly suited to his genius. One was the handling of
the theme of Nemesis, not with grave calm like Sophocles, but with
gigantic vigour, with rough-hewn figures of triple-crested waves of
evil, harvests of blood, chilling frosts of fear, with a penetrating
insistence upon the “black and full-grown curse” which shadows city and
citizens. Within its gloom Eteocles fights only with the ardour of

           “Since eagerly God urgeth this affair, draw lot,
           Cocytus draw and, wind astern, sail down his wave!
           Apollo hateth all the race of Labdacus.”

To relieve this gloom Æschylus uses his other dramatic opportunity, that
of describing with Homeric eloquence the seven Argive warriors stationed
at the seven gates and the Theban defenders sent to meet them. In the
full-mouthed trimeters of the messenger who has seen the enemy, and of
Eteocles who is undaunted by his report, echo stirringly the epic clash
of arms, neighing of steeds, and war-cries of men. Shields of many
devices and crested helmets bedeck the heroes. Courage adorns them all,
from Amphiaraus, who foresees disaster, to Parthenopæus, the Arcadian
metic, repaying to Argos the cost of his nurture:—

      “Now by his spear he swears—which he is confident
      To reverence above the god or his own eyes—
      The town of the Cadmeans he will surely sack
      In spite of Zeus. Thus cries aloud this fair-faced shoot
      Of mother mountain-bred, a man though boy in years.
      His downy beard is just appearing on his cheeks,
      As youth’s prime makes it grow, the thick hair cropping out,
      But he with spirit fierce, no maiden’s namesake this,
      And terrible bright eye, comes up to take his post.
      Nor yet without a vaunt stands he beside the gate,
      For on his bronze-wrought shield, his body’s circled screen,
      Our city’s shame he wields, the raw flesh rav’ning Sphinx,
      Fast riveted with bolts, her body burnish’d-bright
      Repoussé work, and under in her grasp she bears
      A man Cadmean, that upon this warrior
      Most thickly fly the bolts. ’Tis likely, now he’s come,
      He’ll not be retail-dealer in the trade of war,
      Nor will he bring discredit on his long road’s track.”

Euripides used the same story in his “Tyrian Women,” but openly scorned
the Homeric note of Æschylus. With the enemy at the gates there is no
time to describe the warriors, and the emphasis is shifted from the
horror of the curse to the burden on Iocasta’s heart. Still living, she
seeks to reconcile her sons, and at last kills herself on their dead
bodies. Polyneices is not only his country’s enemy but a homesick man
whose eyes grow wet when he sees the familiar altars and Dirce and the
old gymnasium, and who begs his mother just before he dies to bury him
in Thebes. Antigone is brave enough to support her mother, comfort her
father, and promise to bury her brother, but so tenderly young that an
old servant helps her up a cedarn stairway to the palace roof that she
may see the Argive army in the plain. Another vision of brave youth is
given in the character of Menœceus, last virgin descendant of the Sown
Men. Informed by Tiresias that by a voluntary death he can save Thebes,
he evades his father and makes one of the patriotic speeches that never
failed to thrill an Athenian audience in the Dionysiac theatre:—

         “Now I will go and, standing on the rampart’s heights
         Over the deep dark dragon-pen, the very spot
         The seer described minutely, I myself will slay
         And liberate my country.”

The fame of Antigone was secured by Sophocles. Thebes seems to have been
always noted for the beauty of its women, from Semele, the bride of
Zeus, to the tall yellow-haired ladies admired by Dicæarchus, and
Æschylus suggests the loveliness of Antigone as Euripides suggests her
youthfulness. But through Sophocles we know her unadorned as the
embodiment of loyalty and courage. On the sunny morning that followed
the defeat of the Argives, when the eye of golden day had at last arisen
over Dirce’s stream, she buried her brother and defied Creon’s edict,
which forbade burial to an enemy of the country, in a noble speech of

       “Not Zeus hath published this decree, not Zeus for me,
       Neither hath Justice, house-mate with the gods below,
       Laws like to this defined for men. Nor did I think
       Within these edicts, these of thine, such strength inhered
       That, being a mere mortal, thou could’st override
       Th’ unwritten and unfailing statutes of the gods.
       For not of yesterday nor of to-day their life,
       But ever from all time. None knows their origin.”

The Athenian reverence for Law made natural an even more magnificent
reiteration of this idea in the “Œdipus Tyrannus:”—

  “Be mine the lot to win pure reverence in every word and work for
  which the Laws are set on high, in Heaven’s ether born as children of
  Olympus, him alone; no mortal nature among men gave birth to them nor
  ever shall oblivion lull them to slumber. Great is God within them and
  he grows not old.”

Beneath a neighbouring hill Antigone was walled up in one of the
rock-cut caverns that abound in Greece. Her lover Hæmon, Creon’s son,
kills himself within the door. His mother takes her life, and Creon is
left to a late and impotent knowledge of the truth. Before the end the
chorus of Theban girls think of Antigone’s betrothal and in a famous
hymn to Love flash brief fire upon the lonely moral heights of the play.
But suddenly the song dissolves into a lamentation which still haunts
the ear in Thebes:—

            “But already I too past all bounds of the law
            Am swept onward myself as I look on this sight,
            And the fount of my tears I no longer can check,
            When Antigone here I behold as she fares
              To that chamber where all shall be resting.”

In historic Thebes heroism had lost its lustre. When Greece was tested,
the result in this city is revealed in the laconic words of Herodotus,
that among the Greeks who sent earth and water to Xerxes were the
Thebans and the other Bœotians, except the Platæans and the Thespians.
“The grace of the olden time is fallen upon sleep,” Pindar complained
after recounting the “noble deeds” of the heroic age. His own sympathy
with the national cause is clearly seen in another ode written after the
expulsion of the Persians: “Some god has turned aside the stone of
Tantalus from overhead, a load that Hellas might not brook.”

Later, when it was regarded as a political asset to have opposed the
Persians, the Thebans defended their failure on the ground that they had
had neither constitutional government nor popular freedom. A cabal of
selfish nobles had forced them into an action abhorrent to themselves.
Certainly it is true that Thebes was always aristocratic rather than
democratic. And it is worth noting that Pindar in his art was the true
son of such a city. The great festivals of Greece were the immediate
inspiration of his extant odes, while his life in Athens and his
journeys to Sicily and to the eastern islands furnished him with much
poetic material. But as far as the “soaring eagle” is to be identified
with a birthplace, we may ascribe to his aristocratic origin and early
environment his persistent selection of the things that were
distinguished and splendid.

At the time of the Peloponnesian War Thebes appears as the bitter
opponent of Athens. But later the shifting politics of the time brought
about an alliance between these two ancient enemies and set Thebes
against Sparta. Her position, however, was one of difficulty and
humiliation, buffeted about as she was between the greater powers.
Finally, in the first quarter of the fourth century, under the influence
of one man, Thebes entered upon a period of power and distinction. Brief
as it was, it served to awaken the sleeping glory of the old days and to
make men once more mindful of Thebes of the golden shield. Epaminondas
inspired a young Bœotian party, roused the Theban people, opposed Sparta
and defeated her by new strategic skill at Leuctra in 371 B. C., renewed
the ancient confederacy of Bœotian towns, won the support of
neighbouring states and the sympathy of Delphi, and finally marched into
the Peloponnesus to oppose the unrighteous designs of Sparta. At the
battle of Mantinea in Arcadia he lost his life, before his work for
Thebes and Hellas was finished. It is greatly to be regretted that a
career so admirable and a personality so original should not have been
interpreted by some adequate historian or poet. He lived too late for
the enthusiasm of Herodotus or the justice of Thucydides. That Xenophon,
through his hatred of Thebes, failed to talk much of the Theban general
is no great loss to our imaginative understanding of a great man.
Pausanias in his sincere admiration contributes something: “Of the
famous captains of Greece Epaminondas may well rank as the first or at
least as second to none. For whereas the Lacedæmonian and Athenian
generals were seconded by the ancient glories of their countries as well
as by soldiers of a temper to match, Epaminondas found his country
disheartened and submissive to foreign dictation, yet he soon raised
them to the highest place.” Plutarch’s “Life of Epaminondas” has not
been preserved, but this loss is partially repaired by his “Life of
Pelopidas,” the companion in arms and the passionate imitator of the
hero, and by his return now and again in other writings to a
contemplation of the character of Epaminondas. Out of slight sketches
like these and out of the second-rate histories we must fashion our

Epaminondas was a great soldier and a leader of men. These facts need
not be obscured by the other fact that he did not, probably could not,
establish a national unity strong enough to live on after him. With him
died the hopes of Thebes. His fear of this must have been his heaviest
burden. Patriotism with him not only excluded satisfaction in his own
power, but included patience under attack. To us, familiarized with
magnanimous patriotism in many nations, this seems more admirable than
strange. But against the background of Greek history the statesmen are
conspicuous who could have entirely understood the obedient spirit in
which Socrates accepted condemnation from the city he had tried to
serve. In Epaminondas also appear some of those qualities which his
contemporary Plato thought essential to a wise king. He loved philosophy
more than power, and his early training had been intellectual and moral
rather than martial. Like Pindar, he belonged to the oldest nobility of
Thebes, tracing his pedigree to Cadmus, but his family had long lived
modestly, dissociated from the more vulgar aristocracy, and devoted to
the intellectual life. Philosophers exiled from Southern Italy came to
Thebes as well as Athens, and among them Lysis of Tarentum exercised a
great influence upon the young Epaminondas. The boy’s gentle nature and
hardy will furnished an ideal soil for the seeds of the Pythagorean
doctrine, which, before the days of St. Francis of Assisi, taught the
beauty of poverty, of temperance, and of humility, and insisted upon a
moral earnestness and devotion to duty. Epaminondas, the conqueror and
liberator, was at all times a “practical” follower of the religion in
which he had been nurtured. And with something of his own fervour he
inflamed the Sacred Band, that company of “friends” like Epaminondas and
Pelopidas, who inspired each other to valour and to virtue and were
united in the cause of patriotism. In this appeal to the chivalric
gallantry of youth Epaminondas was thoroughly Greek. In the unmarred
consistency of his own life he was unapproached even by his closest
followers. As Pindar in his generation was “heavy at heart” over Thebes,
so the martial leader must often have brooded in lonely impotence over
the same city. To travellers he may appear, as dusk comes on, in the
guise in which men found him on an ancient holiday, walking aloof,
ungarlanded and thoughtful. “I am keeping guard,” he said, “that all of
you may be drunk and revel securely.”

The visible remains of ancient Thebes are at present very few, and
although archæological research may reveal sites and fragments of great
interest, we shall never see here ruins still clothed upon with beauty.
Nor is the situation of the town impressive enough to attract travellers
who are indifferent to memories of the past. The chief charm of the
place is its view of an horizon broken by Cithæron, Helicon, and distant
Parnassus; by Mount Ptoön, where men listened to Apollo, and the
Mountain of the Sphinx.

Fragments of walls are all that remain of the city’s fortifications. Of
the gates no traces have been found. Pausanias speaks of seeing all
seven gates, but he describes only three of them, and some scholars have
argued that the other four were invented by the lost epic writers who
first gave literary form to the Theban legends. Certainly the poets
themselves, Æschylus, Euripides, and the later Alexandrians, differ in
their lists. The only important ruins of a building are those recently
reported to have been discovered by the Greek archæologists near the
Agora. They represent a palace of the “Mycenæan” period which met its
destruction by fire and which has been identified, under the name of
“The House of Cadmus,” with the ruins of “the bridal chambers of
Harmonia and Semele” seen by Pausanias. From the historic period nothing
remains, although with the help of broken pieces of marble and stone we
may try to imagine the Temple of Ismenian Apollo, second only to Delphi
as the seat of this oracular god, in the place of the present church of
St. Luke on the hill that rises by the river St. John.

Dismantled as Thebes was in the time of Pausanias, his guides showed him
many places which were associated with Pindar or with the legends
embodied in the Attic drama. There was the Observatory of Tiresias,
where the blind prophet had listened intently to the sharp cries and
whirring wings of the prescient birds. As if ageless in sorrow, he
pervades each drama on the curse of Cadmus with his futile vision of the

                        “His robe drawn over
                        His old, sightless head,
                        Revolving inly
                        The doom of Thebes.”

There was also the tomb of Menœceus, and near by a pillar marking the
scene of the duel between Eteocles and Polyneices. The immediate
neighbourhood was still called the “Dragging of Antigone,” because over
it Antigone had to drag her brother’s heavy body.

In addition to the great Temple of Apollo, with its statues by Phidias
and Scopas, Pausanias saw the Temple of Artemis, with a statue by
Scopas; the Temple of Heracles, the Champion, the gables of which held
the representations by Praxiteles of the demi-god’s twelve labours; the
Temple of Dionysus; and the Temple of Cybele and Pan erected by Pindar
so near to his own house that he often heard the music of the vesper
services. Pindar’s house is as unknown now as if it had not been twice
saved when Thebes was sacked, once by the Athenians, who remembered his
praises of their city, and once by Alexander, who reverenced his genius.

While these things are irretrievably lost or await the spade, streams of
living water seem to link the present to the past. The little river of
Hagios Johannis has but changed its ancient name of Ismenus, and the
Plakiotissa, made by several streams which rise south of Thebes, is
easily transformed into the “Dircæan streams.” Some old masonry and
tablets bearing inscriptions mark the tanks which irrigate the
neighbouring gardens. Thebes still boasts in trees and flowers a
reminiscence of its ancient fame for bloom and brightness.

Dirce was the queen of Thebes who cruelly treated her husband’s niece,
Antiope. Antiope’s sons, Amphion and Zethus, ordered to execute their
mother’s sentence, bound Dirce instead to the violent bull. Only a brief
fragment of the play by Euripides, called “Antiope,” has been preserved,
but the sculptured group known as the Farnese Bull has made the story
tritely familiar. Amphion also raised the walls of Thebes by the music
of his lyre, a story seized upon by the poets from Homer to Tennyson.

A lively stream now called Paraporti flows into the Plakiotissa on the
southwest, and Theban women use it for their washing, unconcerned with
its ancient name of “Spring of Ares.” The cave near it was the Dragon’s
Lair, and from the part of the acropolis that rose above it Menœceus
plunged to his death. To the northeast, in the tiny suburb of Hagii
Theodori, bubbles the spring of St. Theodore, anciently called the
Spring of Œdipus because in it the king washed his guilty hands.

The events of the heroic age, if they are baldly catalogued in prose,
lose for us their charm and their significance. Their ineffaceable
reality to the historic Greeks may be illustrated by a story current in
antiquity. At a conference in Arcadia an Athenian envoy taunted the
Thebans and the Argives with having begotten the patricide Œdipus and
the matricide Orestes. “Yes,” answered Epaminondas, “but Thebes and
Argos exiled them and Athens received them.” And yet he would have
rejoiced could he have known that the genius of Athens, in receiving the
wandering Theban legends, had given them an immortal life.

                              CHAPTER XIV
                           BŒOTIA, CONTINUED

  “Helicon maidens, the Muses! Their name be my prelude in singing!
  They in their keeping have Helicon’s mountain, majestical, sacred.
  There they go threading the dances by violet pools of the fountain,
  Soft are their feet as they circle the altar of mighty Cronīon.”
                                         HESIOD, _Theogony_.

Epaminondas told the Bœotians that their country was the stage of Ares,
and several battles fought on their soil were of national significance.
At Leuctra Epaminondas defeated Sparta. At Tanagra Athenians and
Spartans first tried their strength against each other. At Delium the
Athenians were defeated by the Bœotians in a struggle in which
Alcibiades and Socrates took part. Alcibiades, who saved his master’s
life, afterwards told their friends that in the retreat Socrates behaved
exactly as he did in the streets of Athens, “turning his eyes
observantly from side to side, though drenched with rain, and calmly
looking about on friend and foe.” Above all, at Chæronea and Platæa
occurred momentous events.

Late in September of the year 479 B. C., one hundred and forty-one years
before Greek liberty was surrendered at Chæronea, there was fought near
Platæa, in the plain between Cithæron and the Asopus, the last of the
battles “wherein the Medes of the crooked bows were overthrown.” The
work begun at Marathon was here completed. “The rest of the army died in
Bœotia” was an Æschylean line calculated to arouse an Athenian audience.
And an exquisite Herodotean story was fostered if not created by the
desire of the Greeks to believe that the Persians had a foreboding of
their disaster. Herodotus had the story from Thersander of Orchomenus. A
Theban gave a dinner to Mardonius and fifty Persian nobles. The Persian
who shared Thersander’s couch said to him:—

“‘Since here at table thou hast shared my food and my libation, I would
leave with thee a memorial of my judgment that thou too, informed
beforehand, mayest know how to plan for thy advantage. Dost see these
Persians feasting here, and that host which we left encamping by the
river? Of all these within brief space of time thou wilt behold a few
survivors only.’ And as the Persian spoke these words he let fall many
tears. Whereat Thersander, struck with wonder at his speech, replied:
‘Well, then, ’t were fitting to say this to Mardonius and to those next
after him in honour.’ To that the other said: ‘My friend, what needs
must happen by the will of God it is not possible for man to turn aside,
and then, too, none is wont to yield to warnings, however credible, and
many of us Persians, although our eyes are opened, follow on,
constrained by necessity. This pang is bitterest of all, for men to know
much and to have power over naught.’”

The battle of Platæa occurred because Mardonius, the general of Xerxes,
undertook to oppose the Spartan Pausanias, commander of the Greek
allies, as he was making his way from the south, over the passes of
Cithæron, to attack disloyal Thebes. The Platæans, true to the
patriotism they had displayed at Marathon and Artemisium, joined the
Greeks. The battle lasted for some days and was, as usual, retarded and
complicated by the inability of the Greeks to coöperate; but it ended in
the defeat and death of Mardonius, the capture of the luxurious Persian
camp, and the final discouragement of the Orient. Herodotus’s account of
the battle not only contains strategic details but is full of episodes
which, even if they are but traditional or the creations of his own
audacious vivacity, illustrate the truth that the conflict was one of
civilizations and of ideals. The Persian cavalry leader, Macistius,
glows in scarlet and gold, and when he is killed his men fill all Bœotia
with the clamour of their grief. The Greek officers show his naked body
to their soldiers because it is “worth seeing for its stature and
beauty.” Mardonius gallops in on his snow-white charger where the fight
is hottest and leads to death the picked guard of one thousand men, the
flower of the Persian army. A Spartan kills him, but Pausanias refuses
to maltreat his dead body even though the Persians had crucified the
body of the Spartan Leonidas at Thermopylæ. In the camp of Mardonius are
found a silver throne, a brass manger for the horses, and countless
utensils of Oriental luxury. Pausanias orders served on the same spot a
Spartan supper.

Modern historians have complained that Herodotus perpetuated and
“consecrated” the illusion of the Athenians that they played a worthy
part in the battle, while in reality they were but half-hearted and the
battle was won by the “discipline and prowess of the Spartan hoplites.”
Herodotus did, however, admit that though the Athenians fought well the
Lacedæmonians fought better, and when, with characteristic Greek
emphasis on individuals, he discussed which single men were most
courageous, he assigned the first four places to Spartans.

In any case the Spartans did not fail to receive full credit for the
victory from their contemporaries. Pindar called Platæa the glory of the
Lacedæmonians as Salamis was the glory of the Athenians. And Æschylus,
even within the Dionysiac theatre, attributed the Persian defeat to the
“Dorian spear.” Perhaps no one regretted that both the Athenian and
Spartan dead who were buried on the battlefield were honoured in
epitaphs by Simonides. For the Athenians he wrote with dignity:—

                   “If valour’s best apportionment
                     Be noble death,
                   To us, elect, hath Fortune lent
                     This victor wreath.
                   For Hellas Freedom’s crown to gain
                     We made the quest,
                   And ageless glory we attain
                     Here laid to rest.”

But the Spartans inspired his finer eloquence:—

             “Glory unquenchable their country
               Hath on her brow,
             But death’s pale cloud the men who crowned her
               Enfoldeth now.
             Yet, dead, they die not. Glory’s herald
               Descends the dome
             And from the halls of Death, triumphant,
               Now leads them home.”

When Platæa next appears in a great passage of literature she is shorn
of her glory, the helpless prey of a foreign enemy and a hostile
neighbour. During the Peloponnesian War, in 431 B. C., the Spartans
conquered the city and, to please the Thebans, razed it to the ground.
Thucydides’s account of the tragic occurrence includes the speeches made
to the Spartans by the Platæans, who prayed for their lives, and by the
Thebans, who urged their murder. That no speeches in Thucydides are more
dramatic has been generally conceded from the time of Dionysius of
Halicarnassus. They have made it bitter even now to remember that the
selfish opportunism and merciless rancour of the Thebans prevailed
against the memories of “the great days of old,” invoked by the
Platæans: “Look yonder to the sepulchres of your fathers slain by the
Medes and buried in this land. Them we have honoured year by year with
public offerings of raiment and such other things as usage calls for....
Pausanias gave them burial here because he felt that he was placing them
with friends and in a friendly land. But you, if you shall slay us and
shall make Platæa Theban land, what do you else in this than leave your
fathers and your kinsmen, bereft of honours that are theirs, among
murderers and in a hostile land? Nay more, you will actually enslave a
country in which the Hellenes won their liberty and bring to desolation
sanctuaries of the gods in which they prayed before they gained mastery
over the Medes.”

The desolation fell. Later the little town was rebuilt, destroyed once
more, and finally restored, though somewhat meanly, in the time of
Alexander. Now not even a modern village brings life to the ancient
site. Only ruins of the Alexandrian walls remain.

Bœotia had several important religious centres outside of Thebes. More
penetrating than the trumpet of war were the voices that called the
Greeks of north and south, and even the barbarians of the east, to the
sanctuary of oracular Apollo on the slopes of Mount Ptoön, or to the
oracle of Trophonius (a local deity probably to be identified with Zeus)
at Lebadeia, which is beautifully situated on the western side of the
Copaic plain looking toward Helicon and Parnassus. The Ptoön precinct
was already abandoned in Plutarch’s time, and even more deserted than it
is to-day when archæologists outnumber the occasional shepherds in
search of mountain pasture. But the oracle of Lebadeia retained its
sanctity into Roman times and was consulted by both Plutarch and
Pausanias. In our day the same river in which the suppliants used to
bathe, in preparation for the difficult sacred rites, turns the mills
and factories of one of the busiest industrial centres of northern

Religion in Bœotia, as everywhere in Greece, furnished an artistic
impulse. Contests of poetry and music were held at almost every centre.
Architecture, sculpture, and painting were represented by the most
famous masters. A temple renowned for its beauty was that of the Graces
at Orchomenus. Within it, on a happy day in the fifth century, a chorus
of boys lustily sang an ode written by Pindar for one of their fellows
who had won a foot-race in Pisa’s famous valley. The young champion had
doubtless illustrated the influence of his native divinities whom the
poet celebrates:—

  “O ye who have your dwelling in the land of goodly steeds that shares
  the waters of Cephisus, Queens of radiant Orchomenus, O Graces famed
  in song, ye Guardians of the Minyans in ages gone, give ear! To you I
  pray! For by your gift come all things sweet and pleasant unto man—his
  wisdom, beauty, and the sheen of victory. Nay, not the gods themselves
  can lord it over dance or festival without the Graces pure, for as
  comptrollers of all heaven’s deeds they have their thrones beside
  Apollo, Python-slayer with the golden bow, and reverence th’ Olympian
  Father’s majesty eterne.”

To moderns the most familiar of all the shrines of Bœotia is that of the
Muses on Mount Helicon. So familiar, indeed, has it become through
tradition and poetry that its geographical position is as unimportant as
that of Raphael’s Parnassus. It almost perplexes us to localize Helicon
as the eastern peak, now called Zagora, of the southern portion of the
group of mountains that lie between the Copaic plain and the Gulf of
Corinth; and to know that at the northern foot of this peak still
nestles the valley, green and shady and traversed by a mountain stream,
where once foregathered the iris-haired, golden-snooded Muses.
Hippocrene even, struck out by the hoof of Pegasus as he flew toward
heaven, is identified with the modern Kryopegadi, a very cold and clear
perennial spring high up on the eastern side of the mountain within a
little green glade encircled by fir trees. Helicon is still the home of
fir-woods, oak groves and strawberry shrubs. Pausanias said that nowhere
else could the goats find sweeter berries, and nowhere else could be
found so many healing herbs. Hellebore, the ancient cure for madness,
grew here in abundance.

In spite of the almost incalculable importance of the worship of the
Muses and their pervasive presence in poetry, Greek literature scarcely
concerns itself with their localized abode. Sophocles breaks the strain
of the “Œdipus Tyrannus” by a fleeting vision of the nymphs sporting
with Dionysus on the far-off heights of Helicon. And Hesiod was inspired
to write his “Theogony” by a vision of the Muses that came to him as he
slept on the mountain “majestical, sacred:”—

 “High on the summit of Helicon chorals they sing to their dancing,
 Lovely, desire-enchaining, yet strong and with supple feet glancing.
 Thence in tumultuous riot, with veils of the darkness enringing,
 Onward they fare in the night, and lovely the voice of their singing.”

For the most part it is only in Alexandrian poetry, from which Roman
poetry derived a large part of the material which it passed on to modern
poetry, that we find Helicon and Hippocrene figuratively used as sources
of inspiration.

Certain Bœotian towns illustrate other traditions of culture. Thespiæ,
in the territory of Platæa, was used by Cicero to illustrate what was so
little understood and so greatly scorned by the Romans—the Greek love of
art. Nothing could so embitter the conquered people of Greece as to take
from them or pretend to buy from them their works of art. “Believe me,”
Cicero urges, “no community in the whole of Greece or Asia ever sold of
its own accord to anybody any statue or picture or civic ornament. For
the Greeks take marvellous delight in things which we despise. What
would the Thespians take for their Eros, the only thing that attracts
visitors to their town?” This was the Praxitelean statue which the
sculptor himself ranked with his Faun as his best work and which Phryne
obtained from him and presented to her native city. Eros was the tutelar
divinity of the place, originally worshipped in the form of an unwrought
stone. The statue, called forth by the æsthetic taste of a later age and
passionately appreciated by the people, was taken to Rome by Caligula,
returned by Claudius, stolen again by Nero. Pausanias saw only a copy
when he was at Thespiæ. Now no copy like the familiar Capitoline copy of
the Faun supplies us with half knowledge. But a visible symbol of
Thespiæ’s other claim to remembrance has been left to us, to enrich the
fragmentary wall and the few foundations that alone at present mark the
ancient site. Not only did the city share in the victory of Platæa, but
more daringly in earlier years, when the struggle with Persia was on the
“razor’s edge” of uncertainty, she had sent her strongest men to die
with Leonidas at Thermopylæ. The fragments of a stone lion similar to
the lion of Chæronea are thought to mark the grave of these sons of
Thespiæ who were inspired by—

                     “An ardour not of Eros’ lips.”

In the eastern valley of the Asopus, or Vourieni, lie the not
inconsiderable remains of ancient Tanagra, a city more popularly known
to-day for its artistic taste than any other Greek city, except Athens.
As early as 1874 excavations of its necropolis began to yield in
extraordinary abundance the small terra-cotta figures which now adorn
many museums, and in copies, more or less successful, have become a
staple article of modern trade. These figurines, rough in finish but
scrupulously lovely in shape, were objects of familiar use to the
Tanagrians, being thrown into graves at burials. Other things in the
city implied more civic pride. Pausanias mentions approvingly the
unusually good taste of the inhabitants in separating their religious
buildings from the business and residence portions of the city. And
Dicæarchus is enthusiastic over their fine houses, adorned with
porticoes and encaustic paintings. Literature also had its place, for
here lived Corinna, a woman of no mean poetic talent. Pausanias saw her
tomb in an honoured place in the city and a picture of her in the
Gymnasium binding on her head a fillet to celebrate a victory over
Pindar at Thebes. With unexpected acumen he remarks that she probably
owed her victory partly to the fact that she wrote in a dialect
intelligible to the Bœotians, and partly to her beauty. Moderns know her
through the story that she advised Pindar to use mythological allusions,
and after his first experiment told him that she had meant him to sow
with the hand, not with a sack; and through her own haunting fragment of
song: “Among the white-armed women of Tanagra, a city made famous by
sweet soprano voices.” Such evidences of culture are the more surprising
when we learn from Dicæarchus that Tanagra was a town of farmers. Their
bluff straightforwardness, their kindliness and their simple living
greatly impressed him in comparison with the insolence and dissipation
of the Thebans.

Dicæarchus describes also with a few graphic words the inhabitants of
Anthedon, a fishing town on the Gulf of Eubœa: “They are almost all
fishermen, earning their livelihood by their hooks, by the purple shell,
and by sponges. They grow old on the beach, among the seaweed and in
their huts. They are all men of ruddy countenance and spare figure;
their nails are worn away by reason of working constantly in the
sea.”[32] This town,—still lovely, it is said, when the sunset illumines
the lilac hills of Eubœa and rose-colour clouds float above the little
fishing-boats in the bay,—furnished to literature an important character
in Glaucus, a fisherman who, by eating a certain grass, became a sea-god
with the gift of prophecy. Many tales were told of him from time to
time, especially by seafaring men. Æschylus wrote two plays, not now
extant, with him as the central figure, and thence the subject passed
into the poetic storehouse of the Alexandrian playwrights. Plato made
use of the legend in one of his noblest presentations of idealism. The
soul marred by its association with the body and with the evils of human
life is like the old sea-god, overgrown with shellfish and seaweed,
wounded and broken by the action of the waves. But if the soul would
always love wisdom and pursue the divine, it would be lifted out of the
sea in which it now is and be forever disencumbered of its rocky

Footnote 32:

  Translated by Frazer.

South of Anthedon, on the strait of Euripus, lies Aulis, of stately
memory. To us as to Odysseus it is, as it were, but “yesterday or the
day before” that the Achæan ships were gathering in Aulis freighted with
trouble for Priam and the Trojans, and hecatombs were being offered on
the altars beneath a beautiful plane tree by a stream of bright water.
Here too Iphigeneia was sacrificed at the altar of Artemis. The story is
told by Euripides, in the “Iphigeneia in Aulis,” in a way to bring out
the latent heroism of the young. Iphigeneia grieves to leave the
sunlight and clings to her mother, but in the end with splendid daring
offers herself a willing sacrifice: “Mother, hear my words,” she cries,—

            “Not for thyself alone, but for the Hellenes all
            Thou barest me.”

In the lyric recital of Æschylus she is pathetically the victim:—

            “Father, father! thus she prayed them,
            But nor tears nor girl’s youth stayed them,
              Umpire captains keen for war.
            To his helpers showed her sire
            How, like kid, above the altar
            Fainting in her robes, still higher
            They should hold her, should not falter,
            And, lest curse his house should blight,
            Ward the fair lips, guard aright,
            With the mouth-gag’s muzzling might.

            “Her saffron robe letting sweep to the ground,
            She smote in turn her slayers round
            With bolt from her eyes, as in picture plain,
            Asking for grace. And to speak she was fain,
            For aforetimes oft at the tables laden
            In her father’s halls she would sing as maiden,
            And with virginal voice in his fortune rejoice
            When the happy triple libation was poured,
            With her loving father in loving accord.

            “What came thereafter I nor saw nor do I say,
            But arts of Calchas knew nor let nor stay.
              Justice freights the scale with woe
              And taught by suffering we know.”

Pausanias saw the temple of Artemis, and within it as a revered relic a
piece of the wood from the Homeric plane tree. The spring was also
pointed out to him, and on a neighbouring hill the threshold of
Agamemnon’s hut. Those were happy days for sight-seers. To-day a
traveller can find only a few remains of the temple, near the ruined
chapel of St. Nicholas, a little distance up the valley which stretches
inland from the shore. But he may stand on the beach and watch tides as
strange and irregular as they were when Æschylus described the Achæan
host, troubled and held fast—

  “where tide ’gainst tide comes surging back near by the shores of
  Aulis opposite to Chalkis.”

The heart of Bœotia’s literature lies in the Hesiodic poetry. Hesiod has
a dual personality. As a half mythical “titulary president” of a school
of poetry localized near Mount Helicon and rivalling the epic school, in
Asia Minor and the islands, whose eponymous hero was Homer; as
traditional author of the “Theogony,” which was the manual of mythology
for the Greeks, ranking in educational value almost with the Iliad and
Odyssey, and of the “Works and Days,” which was a collection of widely
accepted ethical maxims, he seems to lose his home in Bœotia and to
belong like Homer to the whole of Greece. But unlike Homer he is
universally believed to have existed, and to have written a definite
body of poetry which only later came to include many additions by
unknown hands. We may, then, for our purposes, justly consider him as an
individual with local habitation and a name. His family, either before
his birth or while he was a child, immigrated from an Æolian colony in
Asia Minor to Æolian Bœotia. They were farmers and lived in the little
town of Ascra, which was perched on a conical hill opposite the larger
mass of Helicon, to the north of the entrance to the valley of the
Muses. It was destroyed by Thespiæ, and was deserted in Pausanias’s
time. But “the tower” was standing which is still a conspicuous landmark
and gives to the entire hill the name of Pyrgaki. Modern travellers are
attracted by the wide and beautiful view which the hill commands.

Ascra itself, in Hesiod’s peevish opinion, was a miserable village, bad
in winter, abominable in summer, good at no time. He could, however,
when a boy, tend his sheep on the slopes of Helicon and see the Muses in
his dreams. At some time he had a lawsuit with his brother about his
inheritance, and became embittered by disappointment. This and the
difficulties of his life as a husbandman led him to see the world in the
hard colours of uncorrected realism. Only a few enthusiasts pretend to
find in his “Works and Days” the beauty of the “Georgics,” in which
Virgil was his avowed imitator. The Roman poet combined with a delicate
temperament the education of his age, and tried to show to his
countrymen, the already weary masters of the world, the victims of an
over-luxurious civilization, that in farming lay a potent charm and a
remedial grace. But Hesiod lived in the eighth century B. C. and farmed
for his living. To us, grown more democratic than the later Greeks and
Romans, his chief appeal is that of the “mouthpiece of obscure
handworkers in the earliest centuries of Greek history, the poet of
their daily labours, sufferings and wrongs, the singer of their doubts
and infantine reflections on the world in which they had to toil.”

As agricultural life is concerned with certain permanent factors in
human experience and is also proverbially conservative, Hesiod’s picture
of it is probably true, in its broad outlines, of after centuries and of
many another place than Bœotia. Later Greek writers were not attracted
by the homely subject, and the “Works and Days” is the sole specimen in
Greece of a kind of literature which is practically born out of the soil
and out of nature’s varied processes.

In this didactic poem we are introduced to a community whose work and
pleasures were governed by the seasons. The white blossoms of the
spring, the swallow lifting her wing at dawn, the song of the cuckoo,
the tender green of the fig tree, the early rains, all meant the
planting and nursing of the seeds. The summer heat that brought the
cicada’s shrill cry brought, too, a little leisure for picnicking in the
shade of a rock by a stream, off creamy cake and goat’s milk and wine.
But in the cooler hours the corn had to be threshed on the stone floors,
and the hay stored in the barns. In the autumn the falling leaves and
the crane’s migratory call showed that wood must be cut, ploughshares
made, the proper servants and steers procured, and the grapes gathered
and pressed. In the winter the industrious man had to look after his
household store, much as he was tempted to linger by the forge and
saunter in the warm porticoes. For in January the whirlwind of the north
often swept down from Thrace, the Earth howled and long and loud the
forests roared. The oaks and pines were hurled from hilltops. The beasts
of the wild wood crept low to escape the drifting snow, the oxen and
goats cowered in their stalls. Only the young daughter in her pretty
chamber under her mother’s roof was safe. The farmer had to put on
thicker underclothing and a woollen coat and oxhide shoes lined with
thick socks, and pull his cap down over his ears as he hurried home at
nightfall. Thus intertwined in Hesiod’s Bœotian mind were poetry and
prudence. And prudence predominated in his catalogue of the lucky and
unlucky days which next to the seasons regulated the farmer’s life. From
sheep-shearing to marriage everything must have its proper day. This was
true also of seafaring life, for which Hesiod gives rather grudging
directions. Sailors and fishermen, potters and smiths mingled in
friendly intercourse with the husbandmen. Beggars and vagrants came and
went. And news of the distant world and a kindling of dull fancy came
with the wandering minstrels. Standards in such a world were simple. Men
ate asphodel and mallows and had a creed as pleasing and as natural: to
work hard and save a little every year, to be hospitable and
neighbourly, to be good to one’s parents and faithful to one’s wife,
never to abuse a trust and to sacrifice to the gods with clean hands and
a pure heart.

Hesiod has little to say of holidays, but as Bœotia grew older
celebrations of all kinds seem to have flourished conspicuously, even
for Greece, which took so kindly to the bright colours, lively crowds,
and stately processions of feast days. Many of these, occurring
quadrennially, attracted delegates and visitors from other states, even
from contemptuous Athens. Such were the Musæa, the great national
contests in poetry and music on Mount Helicon in the valley of the
Muses; the games and literary competitions at Apollo’s sanctuary on
Mount Ptoön; and the Eleutheria, the Games of Freedom, at Platæa. More
local festivals, also, like the athletic and musical contests at Thespiæ
known as the Games of Love, and the Royal Games at Lebadeia in honour of
King Zeus, often drew crowds of visitors. But many of us, could we have
known ancient Bœotia, would have chosen homelier occasions for our
visits. We would have sought out Tanagra on the feast day of Hermes, the
Ram-bearer, when the handsomest boy of the town, in memory of a similar
service rendered by Hermes at the time of a plague, bore a lamb on his
shoulders about the city walls. And in the autumn at Platæa we would
have attended the annual memorial service for those who died in the
great battle. At daybreak myrrh and garlands were carried to the tombs,
young boys chosen for their free birth bore jars of oil and precious
ointment and of wine and milk, and the chief magistrate put on a purple
robe and poured out a libation, saying, “I drink to those who lost their
lives for the liberty of Greece.” Or at the sanctuary of Demeter at
Mycalessus we would have watched the people from the surrounding farms
lay at the feet of her image all kinds of autumn fruits, which they knew
would keep fresh the whole year through.

This festival of Thanksgiving was doubtless of very ancient origin, as
was also the spring festival of the Little Dædala, celebrated every few
years in many Bœotian communities. The peasants and townspeople poured
into the woods and chose, from certain signs, an oak tree out of which
they made an image; and this image they set up and worshipped to the
accompaniment of festal merriment. The custom originated in Platæa, if
we may judge from the story believed by the common people. Hera, in a
not unwonted fit of temper, had withdrawn to Eubœa, and Zeus could not
persuade her to come back. But old Cithæron, lord of Platæa, advised him
to play on her jealousy by dressing up a wooden image and telling her
that he was going to marry Platæa, the wife of Asopus. Hera flew back,
and in memory of the divine reunion the “Little Dædala” was instituted.

Every sixty years all Bœotia, its big and little cities, its farmsteads
and fishing towns, united in the Great Dædala. The crowds gathered at
Platæa. Long processions, representing each town, bore their own wooden
images to the summit of Cithæron, seeking a narrow plateau where the
snows had melted. Here altars were built and victims burned. And at
night the great flames rose into the sky and were seen from afar, so
that the young men in Attica and beyond the Gulfs doubtless said to each
other, “Bœotia is celebrating as our fathers said,” and the old men
shook their heads and remembered brighter fires.

Zeus and Hera have been long forgotten, nor are the feet of Dionysus
heard upon the mountain, but still winter gives way to spring and the
heart of man is glad. The hard-working people of modern Bœotia keep
holiday when spring blooms anew, and Mount Cithæron gives them as of old
the soft green of its budding oak leaves, the vivacious laughter of its
loosened waters.

                               CHAPTER XV

            “Dic, hospes, Spartæ nos te hic vidisse iacentes
              Dum sanctis patriæ legibus obsequimur.”
               CICERO, _translation of a Greek Epitaph_.[33]

Thermopylæ lies due north from Delphi, less than twenty-five miles
distant in an air line, but between them lie “many o’ershadowing
mountains,” as Achilles might say, or, to be more exact, the great
Parnassus cluster and the continuation of the Œta range, the watershed
between the Bœotian Cephisus and the Malian Spercheius. Just where Doris
and Phocis on the south meet Trachian Malis and Epicnemidian Locris on
the north Mount Kallidromos is set like a boundary stone. The ridge that
unites it with Mount Œta proper is now pierced by the Larissa
railway-tunnel, opened in the summer of 1908, through which the northern
express carries the traveller into the gorge and along the steep cliffs
of the Asopus, the river that flowed down between Xerxes and Leonidas.
To the east of the river’s outlet into the Malian gulf was the narrow
gangway between cliffs and water, called “Hot-Gates” from the local
“Thermal,” or hot springs, and the “Pylai,” or fortified gateways.

Footnote 33:

  Cicero, in this translation of the famous epigram (see below)
  attributed to Simonides, apparently follows a version slightly
  different from that transmitted by Herodotus. A charming old German
  translation is preserved in a Heidelberg manuscript:—

                 “Sag, frembder gast, dem Spartenn land,
                 Wir liegen fast hie inn dem sannd,
                 Dass wir so schon inn dem gefecht
                 Gehalten hon satzung unnd recht.”

It is not unnatural that the story of Thermopylæ should have found in
the imagination of men a place more secure than have even the victories
at Marathon, Salamis, and Platæa. The very tragedy of defeat stands out
more conspicuously against the background of the moral victory. The
physical surroundings, too, are more picturesque. At the narrow entrance
between cliffs and sea individual daring emerges, as in the defence of a
mediæval portcullis, and in the memory remain the details of the by-path
over Mount Kallidromos; the leaves under foot rustling in the darkness
and betraying the ascent of the Persians to the Phocian rear-guard; the
dawn breaking over the blue sea at the foot of the cliffs; and the
Persian Immortals descending swiftly upon the rear of the few resolute
men below. Then the long struggle in the narrow pass comes to an end and
Leonidas and his men move out into the wider part before the pass. The
“strength of the hills” was rendered futile by the traitor guide; the
water, faithful ally during the preceding days, would now vainly strive
to engulf the invaders. The Sun, god of both armies, beat down
indiscriminately upon the Oriental worshippers of his heavenly fire and
on the heaps of dead Greeks. Somewhere amongst them lay the unaffrighted
soldier Dieneces, who had welcomed with Laconic humour the sun-obscuring
Persian arrows as a grateful shade in the heat of battle.

It is disappointing, indeed, that now on the spot the actual scene
requires certain stage directions. The modern coast line has been pushed
far out into the bay by earthquakes and the detritus of the streams. The
Spercheius now flows through a plain some two miles wide between the
precipices and the sea. But the configuration of the land was still
essentially unchanged when, under Brennus and his Gauls, in the third
century B. C., there was another invasion hardly less formidable than
that of the Persians. Before the Gauls reached Delphi there was here at
Thermopylæ a repetition of the more famous struggle. The coast line
still lay close to the cliffs. The Athenian fleet stood in near enough,
despite the rapidly shoaling water, to harass the flank of the enemy,
while the other Greeks in the narrow pass repeated the stubborn
resistance of the Spartans and their allies just two hundred years
before. Other details, too, were duplicated. The Gauls, unable to force
the pass, resorted, as had the Persians, to the mountain path. Again it
was the Phocians who strove to stop them, but the invaders, pushing by,
descended on the rear of the Greeks, who were saved from the fate of
Leonidas only by the presence of the Athenian fleet.

The exact topography of Thermopylæ is still a matter of controversy, and
a liberal discount has long since been made from the fabulous total,
given by Herodotus, of Xerxes’s host. Just who and how many of the
allies remained and died after Leonidas sent the others away is also
uncertain. Among those remaining with the Spartans of their own free
will Pausanias mentions only the seven hundred Thespians and the eighty
men from Mycenæ. The inscription written avowedly for all the
Peloponnesian soldiers exaggerates the number of the Persians and fails
to state definitely that all of the four thousand fought to the finish:—

   “Here on a time four thousand of men from the Peloponnesus,
     Meeting three millions of men, struggled in battle and fought.”

But all restrictions, made in the interest of historic truth, only serve
to eliminate the miraculous element. They leave undisturbed the picture
of a heroism combined with military skill which, if properly
supplemented, might well have kept Xerxes shut out from lower Greece
indefinitely, or as long as the Greek fleet, aided by the elements,
could have restrained him from moving south by the sea.

The allies of Sparta, both those who fell in the four days before the
betrayal of the pathway and those who fell at the end, were duly
praised, but Leonidas and his three hundred have always received, and
justly, the lion’s share of honour. They represented the Lacedæmonians
at their best. The moral prestige that the Spartans had temporarily
forfeited by their absence from Marathon was now regained, to be still
further emphasized at Platæa. Over the Spartans buried at Thermopylæ was

      “Stranger, go unto Sparta, aye go and announce to our people
        Here we their orders obeyed, here we are lying in death.”

In Lacedæmon also the names of the three hundred were inscribed upon a
pillar, still existing in the time of Pausanias. On the hill at
Thermopylæ, where the Spartans made their last stand, was set up a
marble lion to honour the name of Leonidas. In an epigram, said to have
been written for the monument by Simonides, the lion is represented as
saying to the passers-by:—

 “I am the strongest of beasts of the wild, but the strongest of mortals
   He it is over whose tomb I as a sentinel stand.
 Were he not Leo in courage, as even my name he possesses,
   Never had I set foot here on the marble above.”

From the longer “encomium” by Simonides on the dead at Thermopylæ is
handed down a fragment worthily translated by Sterling:—

       “Of those who at Thermopylæ were slain,
         Glorious the doom and beautiful the lot;
       Their tomb an altar; men from tears refrain
         To honour them and praise but mourn them not.
       Such sepulchre nor drear decay
       Nor all-destroying time shall waste; this right have they.
         Within their graves the home-bred glory
           Of Greece was laid: this witness gives
         Leonidas the Spartan in whose story
           A wreath of famous virtue ever lives.”

In addition to Leonidas there was also singled out for individual honour
and remembrance the seer Megistias of Acarnania, who claimed descent,
proud as that of the Levitical priesthood, from the Homeric seer
Melampus. From sacrifices made before sunrise on that last day, the
priest gave out in advance the certainty of their impending doom.
Presently deserters and scouts came in saying that the Persians had
forced the heights. Leonidas, recognizing that when they were attacked
in the rear also death was a foregone conclusion, commanded Megistias
and the greater part of the allies to withdraw while there was still
time. But the priest, refusing to depart, remained to die with Leonidas
and set the seal of religious sanction on the struggle for liberty, as
the modern priesthood of Greece, in the war with the Turks, by their
words and blood inspired and sanctioned the patriotism of the people.

The epitaph for the priest was written by Simonides, not by public
commission as poet laureate, but, as Herodotus states, by reason of
guest-friendship. Even this special inscription, however, on the tomb of
the Acarnanian seer, closes with a complimentary reference to Sparta. It
was Sparta’s day.

 “Famous Megistias here is recorded as one whom the Persians,
   Crossing Spercheius’s stream, slew on a day that is gone.
 He was the seer, who, though knowing as certain the Fates that were on
   Could not endure to desert leaders of Sparta in war.”

A dramatic story is selected by Herodotus to embellish his account of
the battle. Two Spartan soldiers, Eurytus and Aristodemus, lay at the
headquarters at Alpeni, suffering with severe ophthalmia. When the news
came in of the final crisis, Eurytus, putting on his armour with the
help of his helot squire, was led on his blind way into the thick of the
battle and fell fighting with the rest, while the helot made good his
escape. Aristodemus, as might indeed seem natural in the case of a man
thus incapacitated for service, remained behind and returned home. But
his fellow citizens at Sparta, incensed at the contrast between the two,
refused him light to kindle fire and nicknamed him the “Trembler.” Nor
did any subsequent bravery wipe out his disgrace. Even when, in the
closing scene of the great drama at Platæa, he surpassed all others in
the reckless daring with which he fought and died, he was still excluded
from his country’s roll of honour. Thus imperative did it seem that
Spartan courage and love of liberty should be proclaimed to all as the
rule that knew no exception.

                              CHAPTER XVI

          “Few for our eyes are the homes of the heroes,
            Lowly these few, they scarce lift from the plain;
          So once I marked thee, O luckless Mycenæ,
            Then, as I passed thee, a desert’s domain.
          Never goat-pasture more lonely, thou’rt merely
            Something they point at, while driving a-fold.
          Said an old herd to me: ‘Here stood the city
            Built by Cyclōpes, the city of gold.’”
                ALPHEUS OF MITYLENE, _Greek Anthology_.

In the Argolid it seems reasonable to turn aside from history, in its
narrower definition, to recall the tales of heroes and the “grandeur of
the dooms imagined for the mighty dead.” The turbulent and uneven course
of events in which Argolis of historic times appears now as an ally, now
as an enemy of other powerful states, is of less moment than the legends
handed down and crystallized in great literature. Even if the sagas
which may have formed the nucleus of the Iliad sprang from the older
Thessalian “Argos,” the Homeric poems, as known to the classic Greeks
and to us, concern themselves with the mighty fortresses of the Argolid.
The Attic drama reënforced the epic tradition, and the interchanging use
in Homer of Achæans, Danai, and Argives to designate the Greeks,
suggests the elements which gave the later poets opportunity for varied

Argolis was the outpost of the Peloponnesus, and even of the whole Greek
mainland, for the prehistoric invaders and traders from Crete, the
southern Ægean or Phœnicia. The rugged eastern peninsula of Laconia,
indeed, extends southward nearly a whole degree of latitude further than
Argolis, but the dangerous promontory, Malea, did not so often entice
mariners to double it as it served for a beacon to direct their course
northward into the deep shelter of the beautiful Gulf of Argos. It is
easy to understand how naturally the early captains of commerce or
conquest would be guided up the long coast until they beached their
boats under the impregnable rock of Nauplia and the low hill of Tiryns
levelled, as it seemed, by the footprint of some god at whose bidding
the “Cyclopes” reared its prehistoric and superhuman walls.


But the southward-facing gulf was not the only approach to Argolis. The
earth’s crust, pushed up into a ridged peninsula between the Saronic and
Argolic gulfs, falls away also at the north to the Corinthian Gulf and
the Isthmus. From this direction migrating bands of Achæans came
overland to mingle with the more numerous “Pelasgians” and to dominate
them by their intellectual power and by their rich and conquering Greek
speech. When, after the lapse of long years, Achæan imagination,
combined with the highly developed “Pelasgian” skill in building, had
reared or developed a fortress on the acropolis of Mycenæ, robber barons
could control the mountain gateway. And with the probably earlier
Larisa, the acropolis of Argos, and with the fortresses of Tiryns and of
Midea, they could take their toll of all who would enter the Argive
plain from the north or the south. The masters of these palace castles,
as their wealth and their wants increased, could afford to be hospitable
to Cretan art or to the contributions from the Ægean or Asia. They may,
perhaps, as time went on, have visualized the spoken word in the new
characters of the alphabet, whatever its provenance, whether brought
over seas to Nauplia by some Palamedes, who might pose as its inventor,
or by the Phœnician traders, middlemen between the Greeks and the men of
Crete and the Ægean who, centuries before, had developed writing from
their picture script.

The blended prehistoric civilization, with its epochs checked off in
centuries or millennia, and, thanks to the archæologists, to-day rapidly
emerging throughout the Greek world in Attica, Bœotia, Asia Minor, the
islands and the Peloponnesus, has received not unnaturally, if
prematurely, the general name “Mycenæan” from the great royal tombs and
smaller graves and the strong walls of Mycenæ and from the rich and
amazing treasure recovered from the graves excavated within the Gateway
of the Lions. Accumulating evidence has indicated the insufficiency of
the term to include both the art and the architecture. Successive
periods and various origins must yet be disentangled. But Mycenæ and
Tiryns, as being the most impressive in their entirety, continue to
represent this prehistoric civilization to the majority of visitors, and
the term “Mycenæan” may serve until some happier names are suggested to
distinguish at once between the home-bred and the imported.

On the borderland between mere shadowy tradition and an approximately
exact chronology two events seemed to the Greeks themselves of
preëminent importance and were referred by them to the twelfth century
B. C.—the Fall of Troy, and the Return of the Heracleidæ, or the Dorian
conquest, as we should now describe this movement. Although Thucydides
states that “in the eightieth year after the Trojan War the Dorians, led
by the Heracleidæ, conquered the Peloponnesus,” it may be found
necessary to assume a much longer interval, especially if we allow for a
series of Dorian conquests.

The Dorians were one of the Greek clans pushed down from further north
into central Greece in prehistoric times. They have left, as the
memorial of this period, their name attached to little Doris wedged in
between Parnassus and Mount Œta. When they were impelled to move still
further south, whether by external pressure or the desire to send out
colonies, the Achæans already held the land approach to the Peloponnesus
and also the littoral of Achæa on the opposite side of the Corinthian
Gulf. They were thus forced to take to the sea, and the Dorian
settlements in Crete, Thera, Melos, and Asia Minor seem to have been
followed by Dorian invasions of the Peloponnesus from the south and
east, especially in Laconia and Argolis. In Laconia the invaders
established themselves as conquerors and retained their own character
almost unchanged, while in Argolis they amalgamated with the people
already in possession. In readjusting pedigrees it was more agreeable to
native pride to assume that these invaders were themselves of good old
Peloponnesian stock, rather than foreign Dorians, and incidentally to
localize the spreading fame of Heracles. Both of these objects were
provided for in Argolis when Heracles proved to be of the Perseid line,
the original and most distinguished Argive dynasty. Under his
grandchildren the invaders merely came back to their own. Thus the
Dorian invasions came to be described by the senseless and confusing
name of the Return of the Heracleidæ. With this event is perhaps to be
associated the sudden destruction of Mycenæ and Tiryns by fire and the
reinstatement of Argos and the Larisa citadel as supreme.

By way of acquiring the chief poet as well as the chief hero of Greece,
Argos claimed, with other cities, to be the birthplace of Homer—an echo,
doubtless, of the dimly remembered sagas of Achæan Argos in Thessaly. In
reality, Argolis, like other Dorian cantons, contributed more subject
matter for poets than poetry itself. Yet it was not wholly parasitical.
It partially balanced the Dorian debt by sending to Athens two
poet-musicians whose activity cannot be justly appraised from the meagre
fragments that have come down to us. The Dorian contributions to music
must be kept in mind. The Argives, we are told, furnished many of the
famous musicians of Greece.

From Hermione on the southern shore of the peninsula came Lasus, who, as
a theoretical and practical musician, did much to develop the dithyramb.
He was the teacher of Pindar and, under the cultivated tyrant
Hipparchus, was a rival of Simonides in Athens. The other poet,
Pratinas, came from Phlius, geographically within the northwestern
corner of Argolis, although the independent Phliasians long maintained
their autonomy. The city lay in green meadowlands high among the
mountains on the grassy banks of the Sicyonian Asopus which, according
to local belief, was generated by the Carian Meander coming under the
sea to link the two sides of the Ægean together, as the Alpheus, on the
other side, united Sicily to the mother land. Although Pratinas was
inevitably drawn by the lure of the intellectual to live at Athens, he
stands out as a Dorian poet. He is known as the first writer of the
satyr dramas, one of which it was for a while the custom to add to the
trilogy of tragedies, and he competed even with Æschylus.

The literature of Ionian Athens lacked one element which developed among
the Æolians and Dorians. The more independent life of Dorian women
called forth two poetesses in the Peloponnesus. One of these lived at
Sicyon. This city, lying on the Asopus, which comes tumbling down
through the deep ravine from Phlius, early became Dorian. Once included
in the widespread kingdom of the Agamemnon of tradition, it was now
independent, now dependent on Argos or on Sparta. With the mountains of
the Peloponnesus around it and the Corinthian Gulf and Parnassus in
front, it is beautiful for situation. Its rich treasure-houses were
among the notable sights at Delphi and Olympia, and it was famous for
its schools of painting and of sculpture. Here Praxilla, the Dorian
poetess _par excellence_, lived in the fifth century B. C. The fame of
her dithyrambs, a few fragments of which have reached us, survived her,
and she was deemed worthy of a bronze statue by Lysippus, a later

In aristocratic Argos itself another woman, Telesilla, was honoured both
as a writer of choral hymns for maidens and as a heroine in war.
Pausanias adds to the Herodotean account of the Argive men massacred by
the Spartans in Hera’s grove the story of how Telesilla manned the walls
with old men, boys, and slaves, and then drew up the Argive women for
actual conflict with the Spartans and repulsed them, partly by stout
fighting, partly by the shame inspired in them by the thought of
contending with women. Pausanias saw, furthermore, a carved relief
representing the warrior poetess, her scrolls scattered at her feet as
she gazes at a helmet which she is about to put on.

Kydias, also from Hermione the home of Lasus, wrote, in the first half
of the fifth century, love songs highly esteemed by Plato.

The Argolid contains more than a dozen places prominent in Greek
literature and in history. Among the northern mountains were Phlius,
Cleonæ, and Nemea; overlooking or on the Argive Gulf were Mycenæ, the
Heræum, Argos and the Larisa acropolis, Midea, Tiryns, Nauplia, and
Lerna; on the eastern coast of Akte, the old name for the promontory
that with other parts merged its name in that of Argos, were Epidaurus,
Troezen, and Calauria, with Hermione on the south coast; and on the west
side of the gulf was the narrow strip of land, Cynuria, bone of
contention between Sparta and the Wolf of Argos. Of all these places the
famous group on the Argive Gulf, together with Epidaurus, is most easily
accessible from Athens, and travellers who cannot go farther afield may
gain from this brief excursion in the Argolid an adequate impression
both of its prehistoric interest and of its natural beauties.

Herodotus, in leading up to his account of the Persian War, selects as
the origin of the rivalry between the Orient and Greece the rape by
Phœnicians of Io, daughter of Inachus, the personified Argive river.
This was doubtless a typical scene on the shores of the Mediterranean.
The seamen landed and “undid their corded bales;” the native women
crowded about the bargain counter at the vessel’s stern; it was easy for
the sailors to seize the handsomest and, launching their vessel, to bear
them away. The Phœnicians, however, were merely an episode, and the
early “Outlanders” came into the Argolid over the northern mountains.

If one were entering Argolis neither by the modern railway nor in
company with one of these instalments of prehistoric Achæans that
descended from the north, but were faring along the good highroad from
Corinth in the days of Mycenæ’s glory, he would follow up the
_Longopotamo_ River, which flows down west of Acrocorinth into the
Corinthian Gulf. Before crossing the watershed that slopes to the
Argolic plain he would have come to Homer’s “well-built” Cleonæ in a
semi-circle of wooded mountains. Here the ancient roads part, one going
east of Mount Treton more directly to Mycenæ, the other making a detour
to the west to the Argive plain and then to Mycenæ, stationed like a
huge spider at the centre of its web. When Lucian’s Charon, off on a
day’s furlough from the Ferry, asks Hermes to point out the famous
cities of antiquity, the latter shows him Babylon and then adds: “But
Mycenæ and Cleonæ I am ashamed to point out to you, and Ilium above all.
For when you go down home again you’ll certainly be throttling Homer for
his big boasts. Long ago, to be sure, they were prosperous, but now they
are dead and gone. For cities, Ferryman, die out just like people, and,
queerest of all, whole rivers. For instance, there’s not so much as a
ditch left of the Inachus in Argos now-a-days.” Lucian forgets his quasi
sixth century perspective in this pessimistic outlook and descends to
things as they were in his own time, when his contemporary Pausanias
explained the “summer-dried” condition of the Inachus as due to
Poseidon’s anger because Hera had been given the preference to himself
in the Argive land. But not even the Lynceus vision, temporarily put at
the disposal of Charon by an Homeric incantation, could have been
expected to reveal, beneath the oblivious Argive soil of the second
century of our era, the rich treasures of Mycenæ, to which the X-rays of
the archæologists have now penetrated.

Before descending along the bed of the northern tributary of the Inachus
into the plain we turn aside to the precinct of Nemea. This lies in a
valley of its own between those of Phlius and Cleonæ and, like them, on
a stream, the Nemea, which also flows down to the Corinthian Gulf. The
deep grass, fed by the overflowing waters, gave the name Nemea,
“pasture-land.” The biennial Nemean games, celebrated on the high
watershed at this entrance to the peninsula, were especially
pan-Peloponnesian. They were instituted, according to a charming story,
by Adrastus and the rest of the “Seven” on their way to Thebes, as an
atonement for the death of the child Opheltes, carelessly left by his
nurse on a bed of wild parsley (or celery) and slain by a dragon while
she fetched water for the warriors. The solemn funereal origin of the
games was kept before the mind by the dun-colored raiment worn by the
umpires and emphasized by the cypress grove which in antiquity
surrounded the temple. Pindar seems to reflect this feeling when he
refers to the “solemn plains” in connection with Adrastus. Elsewhere he
speaks of the “lovely contests of Nemea.” Where the little Opheltes died
on his bed of wild parsley and the Argive champions passed by to Thebes
are the lonely ruins of the Temple of Zeus. Three slender columns still
stand to watch over their fallen companions, stretched upon the ground
by the Earthshaker whose envy has shaken down so many temples of rivals
while, by the cunning of Athena in sharing with him her precinct, he has
left the great rock in Athens unmoved. Zeus, the virile god of the
Achæans, is lord and master at Nemea, while Hera presides in the Argive
plain as she did originally at Olympia.

The cave of the Nemean lion slain by Heracles at the bidding of
Eurystheus, king of Mycenæ or Tiryns, cannot be identified with
certainty. Indeed, the king of beasts himself, so far as Argolis is
concerned, has been now confined by the excavators within the narrow
limits of a Phrygian gem. Heracles, in his search for rare fauna, flora,
and other exhibits, completed six of his twelve labours in the
Peloponnesus, two of them within the borders of Argolis, before he was
compelled to go abroad for the fruit of the Hesperides or the
three-headed hound of Hades. He had already killed a lion on Mount
Cithæron and assumed its skin as his conventional uniform, and when the
spoils of the Nemean lion were delivered at Mycenæ the king might well,
it may be thought, have deemed it suitable to commemorate by a “totem”
on the Gate of the Acropolis the subjugation of this original autochthon
of Mount Treton, which dominated the two highways leading to the

In the Homeric poems it is Mycenæ, “rich in gold,” and “well-walled”
Tiryns that are predominant in Argolis. The legendary kingdom of the
Atreidæ extended over a large part of the Peloponnesus, and it was
pleasing to Argive pride to reserve Mycenæ as headquarters for
Agamemnon, king of men, and to parcel off Lacedæmon to Menelaus when he
was not represented as also living in Argolis. Mycenæ commanded the
mountain roads to the Corinthian Gulf and the Isthmus, and a prehistoric
network of roadbeds that focus at Mycenæ lifts out of the realm of mere
legend the controlling influence of the mighty fortress over the
territory to the northward. To the south of the mountains it was
connected with Tiryns and Argos in a varying sequence of leagues and

Mycenæ is now as familiar to the modern world as the Acropolis of
Athens. Its resurrection within our own times has called forth manifold
accounts and pictures of the “beehive tombs,” the Cyclopean walls, the
Gate of the Lions (never, indeed, wholly buried), the circle of shaft
graves on the acropolis and the treasure found within them.

The three great dramatists all dealt with scenes from the family history
of the Atreidæ or Pelopidæ, the illustrious but blood-stained dynasty
that for a few generations only (if we allow the Heracleidæ their
pedigree) broke in upon the continuity of the Perseid line, descended
through Danaus from Inachus. When Eurystheus was slain, as Thucydides
records, by the Heracleidæ in Attica, the kingdom passed to his mother’s
half-brother Atreus, the son of Pelops. Agamemnon, his son, or his
grandson, is described by the historian as “the greatest naval potentate
of his time,” and he cites the Iliad which speaks of him as “lording it
over many ships and over all Argos,” that is, over all the Argolid.

Although Æschylus, by reason of a contemporary _rapprochement_ between
the Athenians and the Argives, explicitly lays the scene of his
“Agamemnon” at Argos, the traditional association with Mycenæ, handed
down from Homer, has usually prevailed. Sophocles returned to it, and in
his “Electra” assumes Mycenæ as the home of the royal pair, while
Euripides, in his “Electra,” loosely refers to both cities, although in
other plays Mycenæ is uppermost in his mind. Thus Iphigeneia at Aulis,
about to be sacrificed, exclaims:—

                    “O mother mine, Pelasgian land,
                      O virgin’s home, Mycenæ!”

And amongst the Taurians, overjoyed at her reunion with her brother, her
thoughts likewise revert to Mycenæ:—

                     “O home and hearth-stone mine,
                       Built by Cyclopic hand,
                       Mycenæ, fatherland,
                     Our love is thine!”

Pausanias speaks of Agamemnon and others of the family as buried within
the walls of Mycenæ, and places the tombs of Clytemnestra and her
paramour without. The various attempts to identify with literary
tradition the beehive tombs below or the shaft graves discovered by
Schliemann on the acropolis above involve varying degrees of
improbability or of contradiction, and from these ingenious attempts to
reconcile facts it is a relief to turn to the realities of pure fiction.

The “Agamemnon” of Æschylus, the greatest of extant Greek dramas, opens
with a soldier posted on the palace roof at Argos continuing the ten
years’ watch for the beacon signal[34] that is to flash across the Ægean
the news of the capture of Troy, in order that the guilty Clytemnestra
may not be taken unawares. Presently the beacon flashes out on Mount
Arachneum, seen, as the watcher looks eastward across the plain, between
the Heræum and Tiryns. The long chorals contain the kernel of the poet’s
thought. The Argive elders enter chanting their anapæsts:—

        “Now this year is the tenth since ’gainst Priam of Troy,
        As antagonist great,
        Menelaus the lord, Agamemnon besides
        Holding power two-throned and two-sceptred from Zeus,
        Mighty yoke-pair, two sons they of Atreus their sire,
        Sped forth from this land in a thousand of ships
        Of our Argives a host
          As a warrior band bringing succour.”

The old men even in the hour of victory are filled with strange
foreboding of coming ill and with fear of a still unadjusted Nemesis. A
curse is inbred in the royal house. “The fearsome wrath, recurrent,
house-haunting, guileful, unforgetting, exacting vengeance for the
children” more than hints at the grim story of Thyestes fed by Atreus on
the flesh of his children. Iphigeneia’s sacrifice at Aulis by
Agamemnon[35] is skilfully introduced to complicate the ethical
situation by giving Clytemnestra a plausible justification for her
unfaithfulness and for the secret plottings of which the chorus is not

Footnote 34:

  See extract from _Agamemnon_ in chapter i, p. 11.

Footnote 35:

  See extract from _Agamemnon_, chapter xiv, p. 308.

Clytemnestra, intoxicated with the thought that Agamemnon is about to
fall into her snare, tells the chorus how the beacons, her “racers with
the torch,” have brought the news, and then breaks forth with a recital,
swift and vivid, reminding them how, even while she speaks, the Argive
warriors are stalking triumphant through the streets of Troy:—

           “Troy the Achæans have and hold this very day!
           Methinks I hear commingling outcries in the town.”

The captive Trojan women “from throats no longer free” bewail their
dead, while the Argives plunder as they shout or seat themselves at an
impromptu breakfast:—

        “In captured Trojan homes they make their dwelling now,
        Set free from roofless bivouac in frost and dew.
        How they, the happy men, will sleep the livelong night

Agamemnon enters in his chariot, with Cassandra, the captive princess of
Troy, in his retinue, driving up from Nauplia. He addresses Argos and
the gods. He boasts of the capture of Ilium. The interval necessary for
the Ægean voyage is minimized—Troy’s ruins still smoulder sulkily:—

        “From smoke still rising even now conspicuous
        Is seen the captured city; blasts of ruin live;
        From out the smould’ring ashes there keep jetting forth
        Fat puffs of plunder!”

From the ruined wealth of Troy the thought is turned to the traditional
costly splendour of the Argive palaces. Clytemnestra cunningly avails
herself of Agamemnon’s only half-concealed vanity to cover her own
murderous intent and, if possible, to transfer to his account, in the
eyes of the gods, a certain debit to Nemesis. She would persuade him to
enter the palace treading presumptuously upon royal purple tapestries,
and with grim ambiguity she says:—

        “And now to pleasure me, dear heart, down from thy car!
        Set not upon the ground, my lord, that foot of thine
        That hath sack’d Ilium. Maid servants! Why delay
        To strew the foot-path of his road with tapestries?
        Forthwith be purple-paved his way! Let Justice lead
        On to a dwelling where he scarce had hoped to come.”

Agamemnon, flattered, makes a show of resistance, and finally, to ward
off the evil consequences of presumption, compromises by bidding the
slaves unloose his shoes:—

          “Lest bolt of envy from the gods’ eyes from afar
          Shall strike me as the costly purple I tread down.”

As he yields there surges before the vision of the exultant Clytemnestra
another sea:—

       “There is a sea and who shall ever drain it dry?
       It guards the drops of bounteous purple, ever fresh,
       As silver precious, raiment’s dye. Our house, my lord,
       With God’s help hath sufficient store of these. Our halls
       Are far from understanding ways of poverty.”

As she turns to follow her victim she prays:—

          “O Zeus! O Zeus Fulfiller! these my prayers fulfil.”

The captive Cassandra is left without. Before her searching but futile
insight pass by-gone scenes in the bloodguilty palace to which she has
just come as a stranger. She points to the murdered infants of Thyestes
and their “roasted flesh upon which their father banqueted.” Then her
prophetic vision forecasts the details presently to be enacted:
Agamemnon’s death and her own, the welcoming bath, the ensnaring robe,
“hand after hand outstretching blow on blow.” As she goes in to her
death she utters lines unsurpassed in Greek tragedy, if anywhere, for
the pathos of self-abnegating contrast between the littleness of the
individual and the wider aspects of the universal:—

       “O life of mortal men! If that it fareth well,
       ’Tis like a painting sketch’d, but, comes adversity,
       The wet sponge, blurring, touches and the picture’s gone!
       And this than that I count more piteous by far.”

Two solitary outcries from Agamemnon, struck down within the palace,
float out on the waiting silence as the chorus ceases its chant. To the
elders in their consternation appears Clytemnestra, exultant, glorified
by success, standing over the dead Agamemnon and Cassandra. One might
reconstruct the scene from the palace bathroom uncovered at Tiryns. She

       “Here stand I where I struck him, o’er the finished work,
       And so I managed—no denial will I make—
       That there was no escape nor warding off of fate.
       A netlike wrap without an outlet, as for fish,
       I stake around, the evil bounty of a robe.
       And thereupon I strike him twice and with two groans
       He straight relaxed his limbs and, for him lying thus,
       I add a third blow, thereunto, as votive thanks
       To Hades underground, the corpses’ saviour god.”

A lyrical dialogue between the Queen and the chorus follows: exultation
and execration; justification and lamentation. Clytemnestra, to the
indignant question of the chorus, “Who is to bury him?” replies that he
is her dead and adroitly takes refuge once and again in the necessity of
avenging Iphigeneia. The climax of bitterness is reached when she flings
forth the taunting suggestion that the murdered child will most
appropriately welcome her dear father as he disembarks at Charon’s
ferry. The chorus, bemoaning him “laid low in the bath, on his pallet
bedding of silver,” asks again:—

               “Praises and requiem who shall be singing,
               Loyal heart to the labour bringing,
                 And shower the godlike man with tears?”

And Clytemnestra replies:—

          “It becomes not you for this duty to care.
          At my hands he fell down and he lies—down there!
          And ’tis I that shall bury him—down below!
          And ’tis not with laments of his house he shall go,
          But his Iphigeneia with welcoming grace,
          As ’tis just to require, the daughter her sire
          By the swift-flowing Ferry of Groans shall face
            And with locked arms kiss and embrace him!”

The plays by the three dramatists dealing with the slaying of
Clytemnestra by her son and the meeting and recognition of Orestes and
his older sister Electra fill out many a detail of the Argive land and
cities as they were seen or imagined in the fifth century. Although
Sophocles lays the scene of his “Electra” at “opulent Mycenæ,” his
allusions to the “renowned temple of Hera,” to the “Lycæan agora of the
wolf-slaying god,” and to the “grove of the frenzied daughters of
Inachus”—all as part of the immediate environment—seem to imply
stage-setting which brought before the spectator the Heræum and Argos
itself as well as Mycenæ. In all three plays the tomb of Agamemnon,
around which the action goes on, seems to be outside of the city.

The scene of the “Electra” of Euripides is laid on the mountain
frontier, by which way the exiled Orestes would naturally arrive from
Phocis. Not only does this play give a feeling for the Argive landscape,
changing little while Mycenæ rose and fell, but the simple and dignified
peasant farmer, Electra’s husband in name only, is one of the
dramatist’s noblest creations. The suggestion of his high-born though
remote ancestry only emphasizes the chivalry, far removed from
servility, with which he reverences his nominal wife as a princess of
the land. When Electra, in the shadow of the “Night, dark foster mother
of the golden stars,” goes to fetch water, like any peasant girl, with
the water-jar poised on her head, he remonstrates with her, but divining
her mood, withdraws his objection:—

       “Nay, go thy way, an so thou wilt, not distant far
       The fountains from our dwelling. I, when breaks the dawn,
       Must with my oxen turn the furrows for the seed.”

In this play the horror of the mother-murder in the peasant home is
sensibly heightened by the background of simple hospitality. The deed
seems more inevitable in the “Choëphoroi” of Æschylus, in which Orestes
goes in to slay his mother just where she had slain his father, and the
knocking, knocking at the palace doors seems more like the hand of fate,
or like the two outcries of the king in the “Agamemnon.” The play
closes, as it should, just as the “wrathful hounds” of his mother have
appeared to the matricide.[36] No assurance of the chorus that they are
unreal fancies of his confused brain can help him. He must away over the
mountains and the Isthmus by the long pathway to Delphi to seek the
restoring purification of Apollo:—

          “You cannot see them, see them there, but I can see.
          I’m driven onward—nay, no longer might I stay.”

Footnote 36:

  For extracts from the _Eumenides_, the sequel of the _Choëphoroi_, see
  chapter v, p. 104, and p. 105; also see chapter xi, p. 246.

Homer lets Hera, wrangling with Zeus, in regard to Troy, exclaim:
“Verily three are the dearest to me among cities: wide-wayed Mycenæ and
Sparta and Argos.” The Heræum, the ancient sanctuary of the goddess,
once belonged to Mycenæ, and traces of the Cyclopean road that connected
them are still visible. Here the “kings” took the oath of allegiance
before sailing to Troy with Agamemnon and Menelaus. Here on their return
the Argives dedicated the Trojan spoils to Hera. The herald in the
“Agamemnon” says:—

     “While speeding over land and sea, to yonder light,
     The sun’s light, it is fitting that we make this vaunt:
     ‘Once, sacking Troy, an Argive host to gods of Greece
     Nailed up these spoils, a glorious heirloom in their halls.’”

Among the spoils was the shield of the Trojan hero Euphorbus, slain by
Menelaus. In the sixth century, Pythagoras, to prove that in a previous
round of existence he had been Euphorbus, entered the Heræum and
instantly identified the shield as his own.

From Argos to the Heræum it was a distance of more than five miles.
Herodotus relates how a woman of Argos, wishing to be present at Hera’s
festival, was unable to start because the oxen were not forthcoming in
season to draw her car. Her two athlete sons put on the yoke and drew
the heavy car quickly across the plain and up the hill. When the Argive
women congratulated her on being mother of such sons, she, “exultant
over their deed and fame, stood before the statue of Hera and prayed
that to her sons, Cleobis and Biton, who had honoured her greatly, the
goddess would give whatever gift is best for man to have. And the
youths, after sacrifice and banquet, lay down to sleep in the sacred
precinct itself and rose up no more.” This answer of the goddess so
impressed the Argives that they set up the statues of the young men at
Delphi. It pleases the imagination to identify with these the two
archaic statues there excavated by the French; and a beautiful Parian
marble head of Hera, found by the American excavators of the Heræum, has
preserved to us the gracious presentation of the goddess by some great
sculptor of the fifth century.

The _dramatis personæ_ of the “Suppliants” of Æschylus vaguely suggest a
chapter in the early history of Argolis. Danaus with his fifty daughters
comes from the south, fleeing over the sea from his brother Ægyptus and
his fifty sons. The early Pelasgian inhabitants of Argos are represented
by the king, Pelasgus, who receives the suppliant fugitives into the
safe refuge of his Cyclopean walls, which we may identify with the
prehistoric Larisa citadel above Argos: “Go get ye to my city fenced
with goodly walls, fast locked within the lofty ramparts, subtly
wrought.” Henceforward, as in Homer, the Argives and Danai are
convertible names. All objection to the newcomers as foreigners is
neutralized by realizing that they have only returned to their original
home. Inachus, the river god, was the father of Io, who, half
transformed into a heifer by the jealousy of Hera, had been made to
wander frenzied over land and water until in Egypt she brought forth a
son, the great-grandfather of this same Danaus.

In the sequel to the “Suppliants” Æschylus gave his interpretation of
the story of the Danaides and their trial for the forty-nine murders of
that Saint Bartholomew wedding night. Only fragments of this play
remain, and the romance of Hypermnestra is familiar to the modern world
chiefly from Horace’s incomparable ode. In the “Prometheus,” however,
Æschylus both tells the Io story at length and briefly sketches the
story of Hypermnestra, which, with the “lovely tale” of Danaë and the
infant Perseus, sheds around the Perseid dynasty of Argos a fragrant
aroma of romance in striking contrast to the gruesome annals of the
Pelopid family, which waft now and again to our nostrils the scent of
human blood and the breath of the charnel vault. Prometheus prophesies
to Io that, in the fifth generation from her Egyptian-born son, fifty
maidens, daughters of Danaus,—

       “Shall come, not willing it, to Argos back again.
       Wedlock with kinsmen cousins they are fain to shun,
       But these with hearts a-flutter, falcons after doves,
       Not distanced far, shall come to hunt their quarry down,
       Seeking a wedlock that should not be sought. But God
       Shall grudge their mating. In her soil Pelasgia
       Shall give them lodging, slain, laid low by women’s hands,
       Ares-emboldened, waking sentinels of night.
       For wife each husband of his life shall rob, and dye
       Her two-edged sword in murder. May God grant, with love
       Like this, that Cypris come upon my enemies!
       One maiden only shall love soften and forbid
       To slay her love-mate. Nay, her purpose she shall blunt
       And of twain choices offered she shall rather choose
       To bear the name of coward than of murderess.
       From her in Argos shall be bred a royal line.”

Lynceus is saved, under cover of night, by Hypermnestra, and escaping,
as Pausanias tells us, by the Diras gate, he signals back to her his
safety by means of a beacon light on Mount Lyrcea, and she replies by
another from Larisa. On this Larisa mountain, rising above the plain,
there is lavished as a setting for the picturesque ancient and mediæval
ruins a colour scheme of green, rich reds and brown that delights the
artist’s eye.

Argos itself, continuously inhabited through the centuries, offers few
reminders of antiquity except the steep seats of the theatre. The
beautiful wolf head on the extant Argive drachmas reminds us of the Wolf
Agora of Sophocles and of the Wolf Apollo dedicated by Danaus when he
had ungratefully snapped away the kingdom from his Pelasgian host. We
are glad to leave to Pausanias the description of the sights of historic
Argos and to follow Amymone, one of the Danaids, as she goes down the
plain of “thirsty Argos,” water-jar on head, to fetch water at Lerna.
She went to the fountain once too often, if we may trust the legend.
Lucian describes how Poseidon, inflamed by Triton’s account of her
beauty, too impetuous to wait for his royal team, had thrown himself
hastily on the fastest dolphin available and had come riding up the bay.
Amymone, as she is carried off, cries out: “Fellow, where are you
carrying me off to? You’re a kidnapper sent after us, I suppose, by
uncle Ægyptus. I’ll call my father!” (Triton) “Hush, Amymone, it’s
Poseidon.” (Amymone) “What Poseidon are you talking of? Fellow, why do
you drag me and force me into the sea? I’ll choke, poor me, as I go
down!” Poseidon comforts her by telling her that she shall escape, as
his bride, not only her daily five-mile walk as a water-carrier in Argos
but her sisters’ futile task in Hades of carrying water in a sieve. He
promises her also a fountain, called by her name. This promise was kept;
by leaving the railroad at Myli, the second station below Argos, we can
still see the fountain. Here Heracles, her sister’s descendant, slew the
Lernæan hydra.

If we coast down the west side of the bay we come to Cynuria, whose
autochthonous inhabitants would seem to have belonged, like their
Arcadian neighbours, to the pre-Dorian “Pelasgic” stock. Herodotus gives
a dramatic account of one of the contests for the possession of this
territory between Spartans and Argives, in the sixth century, which
might serve as a pendant for the Roman story of the Horatii and the
Curiatii. Three hundred Spartans and three hundred Argives, chosen as
champions, engaged while the main armies withdrew. Two Argives only
survived, and they, thinking the Spartans all dead, ran off home to
announce the victory. One half-dead Spartan, however, Othryades, was
able to write with his blood his name upon a trophy which he erected of
Argive armour. Each side claimed the victory, with the result that the
full armies engaged and the Spartans conquered. Othryades, however,
ashamed to survive his comrades, killed himself on the field.

Nauplia, across the bay from Lerna, is full of suggestion for the
prehistoric settlement of Argolis, and of associations with modern
history. It has fewer direct points of contact with classic literature.
Nauplius, the founder, according to tradition, was the son of Amymone
and of Poseidon, who was here able to assert himself against the
predominance of Hera further inland. Hera, indeed, had the Achæan Zeus
to curb on the north and may have been glad to compromise with Poseidon
for a safe-conduct permitting her to make her necessary annual visit to
the baths of Kanathos, east of Nauplia. By way of Nauplia, as we have
seen, the alphabet may have entered Greece, and here the less valuable
but costly cargoes of Trojan spoils were landed, bringing one and
another hint and pattern of trans-Ægean art. Here Menelaus, detained by
storm long after his brother, finally landed:—

        “Back to the land has Menelaus come from Troy,
        At Nauplia in harbour moored, while near the beach
        The oar-blades fall, returned from his long wandering.”

No more beautiful mooring-place for home-coming warriors could be found
than the water-front of Nauplia, lying beneath the majestic rock of
Palamidi, guard of the sea-entrance to the Argolid.

On the low acropolis of Tiryns recent excavations have uncovered the
“Lower Castle” to the north of the Middle and Upper fortresses already
known. Pausanias attributed the founding of Tiryns to members of the
Danaus family, Acrisius remaining in Argos and Prœtus taking as his
share the Heræum, Midea, Tiryns, and the coast of Argolis. Acrisius, to
forestall an oracle, according to which he was to be slain by a
grandson, shut up Danaë, his daughter, in a tower of bronze. Zeus
descended to her in a shower of gold, and when Perseus was born Acrisius
committed to the sea mother and child in a chest. The translation by
John Addington Symonds of a fragment from Simonides describing this
event fully preserves the pathos for which Simonides was famous:—

            “When in the carven chest,
            The winds that blew and waves in wild unrest
            Smote her with fear, she, not with cheeks unwet,
            Her arms of love round Perseus set,
              And said: ‘O child, what grief is mine!
            But thou dost slumber, and thy baby breast
            Is sunk in rest,
            Here in the cheerless brass-bound bark,
            Tossed amid starless night and pitchy dark.
              Nor dost thou heed the scudding brine
            Of waves that wash above thy curls so deep,
            Nor the shrill winds that sweep,—
            Lapped in thy purple robe’s embrace,
            Fair little face!
            But if this dread were dreadful too to thee,
            Then wouldst thou lend thy listening ear to me;
            Therefore I cry,—Sleep babe, and sea be still,
            And slumber our unmeasured ill!’”

The Nereids, charmed with the beauty of the child, guided the chest
safely into the net of the fishermen of the little island of Seriphos.
Perseus, on his return to Argos, went up to Larisa, to which Acrisius
had retired, and while displaying his skill with the quoit accidentally
killed his grandfather. Thus was fulfilled the doom to avoid which
Acrisius had shut up Danaë in the bronze tower at Argos. Perseus,
ashamed at this homicide, and perhaps disliking Argos by reason of his
mother’s ill-treatment, persuaded the son of Prœtus to change kingdoms
with him, and so he came to live at Tiryns, and from there went up the
plain and founded Mycenæ where a mushroom (_mykes_) that he pulled up
when thirsty gave him a draught of water. The greater antiquity of
Tiryns implied in this legend is not inconsistent with archæological
evidence, and the fable that Prœtus, the first king of Tiryns, imported
from Lycia seven Cyclopes as builders is a vague record of the foreign
contribution made to this ancient centre. The Cyclopean walls in
Argolis, often alluded to in the fifth century, were at least as
conspicuous at Tiryns as elsewhere, and this acropolis near the sea
would fit the situation in the “Trojan Women” of Euripides where the
captive, lamenting her dead husband deprived of burial rites,
anticipates with dread the landing at Nauplia:—

               “Belovèd, O my husband dear,
               Thou’rt wandering, a spectral fear,
                 Unburied and unlaved.
               But me the hull that cleaves the sea
               Shall bear with spread wings far from thee
                 To Argos, nurse of steeds,
               Where Cyclopēan walls rear high
               Their giant stones to flaunt the sky.”

To-day, in the spring, the hill of Tiryns is covered with slender stalks
of asphodel, while amidst flowers delicate and shadowy as these, along
the pathways of the “asphodel meadows” below, steal the ghosts of the
ancient masters of these Cyclopean walls and galleries.

Mycenæ and Tiryns, linked in tradition with the name of Perseus, both
sent men to Platæa to fight against the Persians. In a little more than
a decade thereafter they were both captured and destroyed by Argos,
jealous of their proximity and of their place on the national roll of
honour from which she had excluded herself. At the end of another decade
Æschylus chose to flatter the Argives, just then the allies of Athens,
by transferring from Mycenæ to their town the scene of the “Agamemnon.”

In addition to the plain of Argolis the “Akte,” or peninsula proper, has
its own history and associations. Leaving Tiryns and Nauplia behind, the
road to the inland Epidaurus sanctuary is overlooked from the north by
the naked ridge of Mount Arachneum, from which flashed to the palace
roof at Argos the last relay of flame in the chain of beacons. The
Epidaurian Asclepieum claimed the honour of the birth of the god of
healing, the foundling son of Apollo, who was suckled by a goat. From
this parent sanatorium others were established throughout Greece. The
Athenians even called “Epidauria” one of the days used for the worship
of Asclepius. In a fragmentary hymn to the god, found at Athens,
reference is made to the oracle quoted by Pausanias as beginning: “Great
joy for mortals all thy birth, Asclepius! Thou, love-child of Koronis
and my own, wast born in rugged Epidaurus!” In the precinct of this
famous health-resort was found a tablet inscribed with a hymn by
Isyllus, an Epidaurian poet, containing the genealogy of the god’s
mother and telling how Apollo named the child and called him “Destroyer
of disease, Health-giver, mighty Gift to men.” Homer’s epithet for
Epidaurus is “abounding in vines,” and in later days Dionysus was not
neglected. The auditorium, with the circle of the orchestra still
completely marked by a sunken rim of stone, is the most beautiful and
the best preserved of the theatres in Greece, and one may here better
than at Athens imagine the _mise-en-scène_ of the great dramas for which
the Argolid furnished so largely the subject matter. The opening scene
of the “Ion” of Plato brings before us the star rhapsodist of his day,
relating how he is just back from the Asclepius festival at Epidaurus
where the Epidaurians held a contest, not only in his own specialty of
reciting Homer but in lyric poetry besides. In Epidaurus were celebrated
the usual games, as the well-preserved Stadium testifies and as we know
from more than one passage of Pindar. In the Abaton, now more fully
excavated, have been found some of the tablets dedicated by grateful
patients who had been cured by sleeping in the precinct. Cures of
blindness, palsy, ulcers, dropsy, internal maladies and external wounds
are recorded in this medical literature, which Strabo tells us was here
displayed in great abundance, as in the great Sanatorium of Hippocrates
on the island of Cos.

Troezen, far down the eastern side of the peninsula, both geographically
and by its associations, historical and mythological, turns our thoughts
away from Dorian Argos and across the Saronic Gulf to Athens. It was
here that some of the Athenian women and children found a place of
refuge during the Persian invasion. In a colonnade of the market-place
Pausanias saw portrait statues of those refugees whose rank and wealth
permitted this expression of their gratitude. Here in the harbour the
Greek fleet assembled before sailing to take its position in the Straits
of Salamis. The ruined remains of the acropolis are insignificant, but
our vision, like that of the refugees, may range over the wonderful
landscape—Parnassus beyond the Isthmus and gulf, mountains and
headlands, and the Ægean set with island jewels—back to the fertile
plain below, which in modern times has welcomed the beauty of the orange
and the lemon to replace the vanished glory of the kings and heroes of

Plutarch, in his “Life of Theseus,” relates the well-known story that
the young prince in the dawning vigour of manhood is taken by his mother
to test his strength on the great rock beneath which lie concealed the
tokens left by his father to guarantee his royal birth. He lifts the
rock and takes the sword and the sandals. Emulous of the fame of
Heracles, he rejects the suggestion of the easy voyage across the
Saronic Gulf, and by the dangerous land route, where wild beasts and
giants must be met and slain, he makes his way past the ill-famed
Scironian rocks to Athens, and claims the paternity of Ægeus and becomes
the national hero of his father’s land.

In the “Hippolytus” of Euripides we find Theseus, self-exiled from
Athens for a year, again in Troezen, the realm of Pittheus, his maternal
grandfather, who has had the rearing of his son, Hippolytus. The
handsome youth has been seen at Eleusis by Phædra, his young stepmother,
who then and there falls in love with him. He is, however, a somewhat
intractable compound of a Jehu and a Joseph, wholly absorbed in
colourless devotion to Artemis and inaccessible to the blandishments of
Aphrodite, who uses the unlucky Phædra as a cat’s-paw to punish the
intrusion of the divine huntress into the sphere of influence rightfully
belonging to the goddess of love. Phædra, despairing and mortified at
her rejection by Hippolytus, very properly hangs herself, but by way of
securing her posthumous justification leaves a note for her husband,
accusing the innocent Hippolytus. Theseus, in his rage, banishes his son
and invokes a curse by Poseidon. Faring forth in his chariot Hippolytus,
though an excellent whip, is unable to cope with the great bull sent up
from the sea. This so terrifies the horses that their driver is thrown
upon the rocks and dies, after Artemis, a somewhat tardy _dea ex
machina_, has appeared to the now remorseful Theseus and has exonerated
his son. This favourite drama, in addition to the admirable drawing of
Phædra’s character, combines the grandeur of the sea as it roars up in a
tidal wave, envisaging the terrible sea-bull, and the loveliness of the
Troezenian meadows where Hippolytus, a replica of the young Ion in
Apollo’s temple, presented the vision of human beauty, so dear to Greek
eyes, in its appropriate setting of nature’s lonely charm.[37]

Footnote 37:

  See chapter i, p. 26, for hymn to Artemis from the _Hippolytus_.

In addition to these more superficial attractions there was at Troezen
one of the most popular entrances to the lower world. Here Heracles
fetched up Cerberus, and by this route Dionysus brought back his mother
Semele. It is also reasonable to suppose that Theseus, from a sense of
local pride, must have passed down this way when he assisted his friend
Pirithöus in carrying off Persephone.

Troezen, however, had a rival in this underground traffic. Hermione, the
home of the poets Lasus and Kydias, on the south coast of the peninsula,
claimed the rather dubious advantage of the closest proximity to Hades.
Strabo, the geographer, records the boast of the people of Hermione that
on their short line Charon’s obol is not exacted of the passengers, “and
therefore,” he adds, “they do not here put in a fare for the corpse.”
The cost of travel to Hermione would have overbalanced for people at a
distance the Ferryman’s very moderate fee, or perhaps the route may have
been open for local traffic only. At all events this exception was not
known in Greece generally. We find in Lucian’s dialogues that the Cynic
Menippus, with never an obol to his mouth, takes his chance as a
stowaway or offers to Charon to work his passage, while the corpse of
the poor cobbler Micyllus, also unprovided with the necessary fee,
heedless, since he is dead already, of the risk of drowning, starts in
to swim.


  Temple of Poseidon. Scene of the death of Demosthenes

Close to the Troezen shore is the island of Calauria, the modern Poros,
where “outrageous Fortune” shot home one of her most virulent arrows. On
a high plateau near the middle of the island are the remains of the
ancient precinct and temple of Poseidon. Here, where he could look over
to Sunium, the “headland of Athens,” Demosthenes, a fugitive from the
wrath of Macedon, waited for his pursuers. Plutarch relates that,
discrediting the promises of safety made to lure him from sanctuary, he
withdrew within the temple and, after taking the poison which he had
secreted, tottered forth to die outside in order to avoid defiling the
sacred precinct. The Athenians later set up his statue in bronze, and on
it was inscribed:—

                    “Had but thy power, Demosthenes,
                      Equalled thy will,
                    Macedon ne’er had ruled Hellas,
                      Free were she still.”

The great orator whose powerful will had first, as it was said, won
control over his unruly tongue and weak voice amidst the roar of the
sea, and who by his words had controlled the still more turbulent
populace, died here with unbroken will under the gray shadow of
Poseidon’s sanctuary. This was one of the oldest stone temples in
Greece, probably contemporary with the sixth century temple of the
sea-god at Posidonia, the modern Pæstum. Already dignified by time its
columns looked down on the fleet that put forth for Salamis from the
neighbouring Troezen, relying now for the sea-fight on the help of
Poseidon rather than upon the goddess of the Heræum who had presided
over the start for Troy, at the time of the preliminary clash, still
unforgotten, of Asia with Greece.

                              CHAPTER XVII

   “The winding valleys deep-withdrawn and ridgèd crests of Arcady.”

Of the temples that once adorned the mainland and the islands of Greece
only a brave few now rear columns from the ground. Among these the
Temple of Apollo at Bassæ constrains the traveller to penetrate to the
heart of Arcadia. The rewards of the difficult journey are many, and are
enhanced by a general knowledge of the whole Arcadian territory, into
which the detached impressions of a brief stay may be sympathetically

Homer says that the Arcadians went to Troy in vessels borrowed from
Agamemnon, because they had none of their own. The most potent fact in
the history and development of Arcadia is its isolated position as the
one inland country (save little Doris) of Greece. Only from the heights
of the encircling mountains could her people catch sight of distant
seas. Those whom the sea-spell lured with irresistible magic left their
hills to seek foreign coasts and enlist in foreign navies. The Arcadians
have rightly been called the mercenaries of Greece. Those who stayed at
home lived the restricted life of a population cut off from intercourse
with the larger world. The entire territory is composed of high land,
its lowest elevation from the sea being more than two thousand feet. In
the east are great plains of swampy ground, and lakes drained by
underground channels. Towards the west the land becomes an irregular,
hilly plateau intersected by rivers. In antiquity superb forests of oaks
and pines, coverts for many a wild beast, contributed to that general
physical wildness which prevented a people untouched by foreign ideas
from uniting in a progressive political life. Even against the
background of Greek individualism their history is conspicuously one of
separate towns. And of these towns few attained to any eminence.

Arcadia contained the oldest and the youngest of all Greek cities. The
latter, Megalopolis, is still in civic existence, and is the terminus of
the modern railroad ride from Athens for those who are on their way to
Bassæ. It was the last town founded in free Greece, and its
establishment originated in the ardent hope of Epaminondas to unite the
scattered Arcadians under one government. In the same southwestern
portion of Arcadia, near the young Megalopolis and easily reached from
it on horses, lie the ruins of old Lycosura, believed by the Greeks to
be the most ancient of all their cities and to have served as a model
for later foundations.

But the chief rôles in the political life of Arcadia were played by
Mantinea and Tegea, cities lying in the wide eastern plains. Near them
lay Pallantium, and within the territories of these three cities
flourishes the modern Tripolis, in its origin an important Turkish
stronghold and now one of the most prosperous towns of the new nation.
The sanguinary history of Tripolis in the War of Independence was worthy
of the ancient character of Mantinea and Tegea.

Although Homer called Mantinea “lovely,” her life was one of military
activity. Mantineans fought at Thermopylæ, but it is in the pages of the
historians of later periods, of Thucydides, Xenophon, and Polybius, that
they chiefly figure, fighting on their own territory against Sparta or
with Sparta against Thebes. This evil coalition resulted in the famous
battle of 362 B. C., in which Epaminondas fought for the last time. The
description of the battle forms the close of Xenophon’s treatise on
Greek History, and the chaotic results of the long-anticipated struggle,
whereby “neither party, though each claimed to have conquered, was seen
to gain any more in land or cities or authority than it possessed before
the battle was fought,” are set forth by him with considerable
vividness. But the momentous fact that in this battle the great Theban
commander lost his life he disposes of in a subordinate clause. This
petty injustice is the more singular because the fatal blow was
generally believed to have been struck by Xenophon’s son, Grylus, who
received a public burial and monument at Mantinea. It is Pausanias who
admits us to the last scene of a noble life, enacted among the alien,
windswept oaks of Arcadia, on the hill now known as Mytika. “When
Epaminondas received his wound, they carried him out of the line of
battle. He was still in life. He suffered much, but with his hand
pressed on his wound he kept looking hard at the fight, and the place
from which he watched it was afterwards named ‘Scope’ (the Lookout). But
when the combat ended indecisively he took his hand from the wound and
breathed his last, and they buried him on the battlefield.”

The memory of Epaminondas inspired a later hero who not only fought at
another battle of Mantinea but was himself a son of the Arcadian soil.
In the period of the Achæan League, Philopœmen, born in Megalopolis, was
eight times chosen to be the general of the united forces, and in 206 B.
C. he met and conquered at Mantinea the recalcitrant Spartans who had
refused to join the league. The description of this battle is given to
us by Polybius, his younger fellow townsman, who at the hero’s death was
the youth selected to bear his ashes to the tomb. Because all such
victories in the cause of freedom were but fitful gleams of the fire
whose flame had been quenched at Chæronea, it is the more necessary to
give heed to a character like Philopœmen, from the day of whose death,
Pausanias sadly remarks, Greece ceased to be the mother of the brave. He
closes the long line of Greeks who led their peoples to liberty. At one
of the Olympic festivals the whole audience in the theatre rose to greet
Themistocles, who had saved Greece from Persia. And centuries later a
similar tribute was paid to Philopœmen. Not long after his victory over
the Spartans it chanced that he was present at the competition of the
minstrels at the Nemean Games. “Pylades, a native of Megalopolis, and
the most famous minstrel of his time, who had gained a Pythian victory,
was singing an air of Timotheus, the Milesian, called ‘The Persians.’
Scarcely had he struck up the song, ‘The glorious crown of freedom who
giveth to Greece,’ when all the people turned and looked at Philopœmen,
and with clapping of hands signified that the song referred to him.”

Few men in history are more interesting than Philopœmen. From youth to a
hale old age he lived the life of his choice, combining rugged and
fearless sincerity with keen military knowledge, and uniting in an
unusual degree the reckless impulsiveness of a freebooter with the
patient power of a skilful general. When one term of his generalship had
expired, he hurried over to Crete to help in a war which in no way
concerned him; but his countrymen, accustomed to depend upon his
ability, summoned him back, and he arrived on the mainland just in time
to find that the Romans had fitted out a fleet against Sparta, and to
plunge into the fray. Being no sailor, however, he unwittingly embarked
in a leaky galley, which reminded the Romans and their allies (in those
days every man had read his classics at school) of the verses in the
Catalogue in which Homer speaks of the Arcadians as ignorant of the sea.
After eight successful generalships and many brilliant exploits, when he
was more than seventy years old, Philopœmen was captured and poisoned by
the Messenians. In him Arcadia lost her greatest son, in whom had lived
her own wildness and her own patience, her own flaming spirit and her
own honourable austerity. According to Polybius, he had harboured no
illusions about the future of his country and of Hellas, but had chosen
to offer his life, while it lasted, as a bulwark against the inevitable.
“I know full well,” he said in answer to Aristænus’s criticism of his
policy of resisting all unjust encroachments from Rome, “that there will
hereafter come a time when the Greeks will have to yield obedience under
compulsion to every order issued to them. But would one wish to see this
time come as quickly as possible or, on the contrary, postponed as late
as possible? Methinks as late as possible! In this, then, the policy of
Aristænus differs from my own. He is eager to see the inevitable come as
quickly as possible and he helps it on to the best of his ability,
whereas I to the best of my power resist and thrust it back.” One false
hope, according to Pausanias, he did treasure: “He would fain have
modelled his life on the pattern set by the character and deeds of
Epaminondas, but could not equal him in all things, for while the temper
of Epaminondas was very gentle, that of the Arcadian was passionate.”

Although Arcadia’s part in the Persian wars was not heroic, Tegea, like
Mantinea, proved her bravery at Thermopylæ, and at Platæa, according to
Herodotus, her citizens struggled with the Athenians for the foremost
post in the battle. Later wars, civil and foreign, kept her busy through
several centuries. But the arts of peace also flourished within her
walls, and Tegea must be honoured for having erected one of the most
distinguished temples not only of the Peloponnesus but of all Greece.
This was the Temple of Athena Alea, built by Scopas early in the fourth
century. Only a few traces are left of its mingled Doric, Ionic, and
Corinthian columns. More important are the fragments preserved in the
National Museum at Athens of sculptures from the hand of Scopas himself,
portraying the Calydonian boar-hunt, the heroine of which was the
Arcadian maiden Atalanta. The same Museum contains marble reliefs from
Mantinea, coming probably from the time, if not the workshop, of
Praxiteles, and very interesting sculptures of disputed date from old
Lycosura. The Arcadians, whose native gift was music, did not lag behind
the rest of the Greeks in their appreciation of the plastic arts.

Pallantium was not important in Arcadian history, but was reverenced by
the Romans as the home of Evander, whose enterprizing colonization of
the Palatine Hill was immortalized by Virgil. In filial remembrance of
the adventurer the town was rebuilt by Antoninus Pius.

To the north of the great plain of Mantinea and Tegea lay another marshy
plain containing three other important cities, Orchomenus, Pheneus, and
Stymphalus. But the train from Athens sweeps far toward the south, and
ruined cities slip out of mind among the “winding valleys deep-withdrawn
and ridgèd crests of Arcady.” The real significance of Arcadia lay in
its landscape rather than in its towns. If the country contributed few
large centres and few splendid deeds to Greek history, it offered its
mountains and streams to be peopled by the divine progeny of Greek
imagination. Pan himself was born amid the “wind-tossed mountain trees
of steep Cyllene,” and from many another Arcadian hillside thereafter
his pipes reached the ears of shepherds tending their flocks in upland
pastures. Artemis, making her pastime the chase of boars and swift deer,
fairer than the fair wild wood-nymphs attending her, took especial
pleasure in the ridges of Erymanthus and became the reverently
worshipped Maiden of the Arcadian country.

Later literature in more than one language created a visionary Arcadia
of uninterrupted pastoral charm and ease, a refuge for the weary, an
earthly dream of “unlaborious life.” The fashion began in Greek itself
in the artificial period of Alexandrian civilization when men were sated
with city life and began to write chamber poetry about the beauties of
nature. Arcadia, with its still unspoiled hills and woods and rivers,
became a convenient setting for the delicate and charming fancies of
litterateurs. But in the real Arcadia “nature” was a serious force to be
reckoned with. The frowning mountains, wild ravines, and stretches of
barren soil; the gusty storms of winter and the close heat of summer;
the difficulties of communication between village and village, and the
remoteness from the great highway of the sea, all combined to make
Arcadian life rude and elemental. Often the inhabitants were forced to a
hand to hand struggle with poverty. Sometimes they gave way, as
Herodotus indicates when he says that “some men from Arcadia who were in
need of a livelihood and wanted employment” deserted to the Persians.
But oftener the Arcadians fought it out at home, tilling what soil they
could, and patiently tending herds and flocks.

Such a people, busy with the primitive needs of life, found in Pan and
Artemis saviours and graciously intimate friends rather than fanciful
presences with which to adorn pastoral poetry. Arcadia was, indeed, a
very religious country, teeming both in its cities and on its lonelier
hillsides with sanctuaries to many of the Olympian hierarchy, and
especially to a strange, elusive divinity, known as the “Mistress.” But
the divinities of life in the open most appealed to them. It is
indicative of an important and not always recognized element in Greek
character that some of the most lovely fancies of Greek mythology should
have taken root where life was hard. The austerity of work and poverty
was never denied by the clear-eyed Greeks. But instead of seeking, like
the Celts, to escape from it into dreams of unreal and fairer worlds,
they balanced against it the palpable beauty of this world and found
much room for joy and laughter.

Pan’s birth in Arcadia was third in an interesting series of events. The
first was the birth of Zeus himself on Mount Lycæus, the isolated
mountain peak which rises northwest of Megalopolis. It is, however, no
widespread Hellenic tradition which gave to the king of the gods an
Arcadian birthplace. Of all the places that claimed that honour, perhaps
Crete most impressed herself upon the Greek world at large. But the
legend of Arcadia at least resulted in bestowing upon the ruler of
Olympus the well-known epithet “Lycæan,” and in establishing on the
summit of the mountain a sanctuary involving sacrifices and festivals.
Human sacrifices continued here astonishingly long, and the savagery of
the early Arcadians left traces also in tales of werewolves roaming
among the desert places of the mountain.

A much more engaging story, especially when it is clothed in Ionic mirth
and grace, brought Zeus as a lover to another mountain peak in Arcadia
and pictured the second divine birth in the country. The Homeric Hymn to
Hermes, whether it is read in the original or in Shelley’s inimitable
translation, is alive with that witty and audacious fancy which
furnished to naughty mortals delightful brothers among the gods. On
Mount Cyllene, towering above the other mountains of Arcadia and
bulwarking the northeastern portion of the country, dwelt Maia, a
fair-tressed nymph. Zeus loved her and—

             “She gave to light a babe all babes excelling,
               A schemer subtle beyond all belief,
             A shepherd of thin dreams, a cow-stealing,
               A night-watching, and door-waylaying thief.”

The precocity of the divine infant is the theme of the story. He is not
four days old when he starts for Thessaly to steal the cattle of Apollo.
But as he crosses the threshold of his mother’s cave he meets a tortoise
creeping along and feeding on the rich grass, a sight which moves him to
laughter and gives him a fresh idea. This is no less than the fashioning
of the lyre out of the tortoise’s shell:—

           “And through the tortoise’s hard stony skin
             At proper distances small holes he made,
           And fastened the cut stems of reeds within,
             And with a piece of leather overlaid
           The open space and fixed the cubits in,
           Fitting the bridge to both, and stretched o’er all
           Symphonious chords of sheep-gut rhythmical.

           “When he had wrought the lovely instrument,
             He tried the chords, and made division meet
           Preluding with the plectrum, and there went
             Up from beneath his hand a tumult sweet
           Of mighty sounds, and from his lips he sent
             A strain of unpremeditated wit,
           Joyous and wild and wanton—such you may
           Hear among revellers on a holiday.”

When he has sung enough and is “seized with a sudden fancy for fresh
meat,” he hurries off to the shadowed hills of Pieria and steals fifty
of the lowing kine which are feeding there on flowering, unmown meadows.
Cunningly reversing their tracks, and making for himself sandals of
twigs and leaves that will not betray him, he drives the cattle to the
river Alpheus in Arcadia, by whose banks they munch lotus and
marsh-marigold. He kills and cooks with lusty appetite, in the serene
moonshine, and then at dawn, through a silence broken by no step of god
or man nor bark of dog, he goes back to the crests of Cyllene and enters
the cave, through the hole of the bolt,—

                “Like a thin mist or an autumnal blast.”

Meantime Apollo, the Far-darter, has been tracking him from the
Thessalian meadows. To the fragrant Cyllenian hill he comes where sheep
are peacefully grazing, and finds the little thief wrapped once more in
swaddling bands, feet, head and hands curled into a small space,
tortoise shell clasped under his baby arm.

           “Latona’s offspring, after having sought
             His herds in every corner, thus did greet
           Great Hermes: ‘Little cradled rogue, declare,
           Of my illustrious heifers, where they are!’

              .   .   .   .   .   .   .

           “To whom thus Hermes slyly answered: ‘Son
             Of great Latona, what speech is this!
           Why come you here to ask me what is done
             With the wild oxen which it seems you miss?
           I have not seen them, nor from any one
             Have heard a word of the whole business;
           If you should promise an immense reward,
           I could not tell more than you now have heard.

           “An ox-stealer should be both tall and strong,
             And I am but a little new-born thing,
           Who yet, at least, can think of nothing wrong.
             My business is to suck, and sleep, and fling
           The cradle-clothes about me all day long,—
             Or, half asleep, hear my sweet mother sing,
           And to be washed in water clean and warm,
           And hushed and kissed and kept secure from harm.’”

Apollo is not deceived, but is forced to laughter. Finally they agree to
put the case before Zeus on Olympus. There, after Apollo’s attack,
Hermes makes a lying and witty defence, at which his immoral and
omnipotent father laughs aloud. Both sons are sent off to find the kine,
and on the way the Cyllenian shows the Far-darter his tortoise-lyre and
entrances him with its music:—

           Up from beneath his hand in circling flight
         The gathering music rose—and sweet as Love
         The penetrating notes did live and move

         “Within the heart of great Apollo. He
         Listened with all his soul and laughed for pleasure.”

Hermes suggests an exchange, promising the tortoise shell to Apollo, if
he may have in return the glittering lash and drive the herd. Thus the
lyre, invented in Arcadia, passed to the rightful lord of music and to
an universal sovereignty.

The two brothers became fast friends and sealed their affection on snowy
Olympus by mutual promises. The older brother reserves for himself the
awful gift of prophecy, but in return for the lyre gives to the younger
lordship over the twisted-horned cattle and horses and toiling mules,
over the burning eyes of lions, and white-tusked boars and dogs and
sheep, and, most important of all, makes him herald to lead the dead to

Almost imperceptibly, toward the close of the hymn, the two gods take on
something of the stateliness which clothes them in more serious poetry.
But the rollicking infant and his half-angry, half-amused victim must be
remembered to complete the idea of a religion which left a definite
place for humour. While the gravely beautiful Hermes which adorned the
temple of Hera at Olympia revealed, in perfect marble, a serious and
noble conception of divinity, it may well be that among the many wooden
or stone statues of the god which stood in orchard closes, by cool
wayside springs, and in crossways near the gray seashore, more than one
recalled his lovable and mischievous boyhood. Certainly it is tempting
to imagine the infant trickster in the Hermes of the Anthology who
guarded pleasant playgrounds and to whom boys offered marjoram and
hyacinth and fresh garlands of violets.

Hermes would seem to have frequently returned to his early Arcadian
home, and during one of these visits he fell in love with the daughter
of Dryops, and for her sweet sake became thrall of a mortal man and
shepherded the fleecy sheep. The fruit of his union with the shepherd’s
daughter was Pan, and another Homeric hymn describes his birth:—

                                         “and she in the palace
 Brought forth a son that was dear unto Hermes but strange to her seeing,
 Goat-footed, two-hornèd, noise-loving, taking his pleasure in laughter.

 Fleeing she darted away and her man-child the mother abandoned
 For that she feared at the sight of his visage unlovely, full-bearded.
 Forthwith, however, the luck-bringer, Hermes, accepted the infant.
 Took him and held in his hand and the god had delight without measure.
 Lightly he went with the boy to the homes of the gods ever-living,
 Wrapping him well in the skins of the wild hare that runs on the
 There took his seat near to Zeus and the others, the gods ever-living,
 Showed them the boy as his own and they in their hearts were delighted,
 All the immortals, but chiefly the revelling god, Dionysus.
 Pan then they called him because to the Pantheon all he gave joyance.”

Such was the pleasant début of the god who was to make glad the hearts
of men also, bringing laughter into a world of tears, and inspiring amid
the difficulties and the ennui of civilization a wholesome passion for
life in the open air. Lord was he of every snowy crest and mountain peak
and rocky path. Soft meadows where crocuses and fragrant hyacinths
nestled in the grass knew his presence. By still pools within the green
woods he would sit contentedly, or lofty crags would tempt his lively
feet to adventurous climbing. Over the high white hills he would range
in the pursuit of wild beasts. And in the evening he would sit on some
jutting rock or by the dusky water of a wayside spring and play on his
reeds such melodies of honeyed sweetness as even the nightingale’s
spring song could not surpass. With him the mountain nymphs, the shrill
singers, went wandering with light feet, and Echo moaned along the
mountain crest. Many a lonely shepherd among the hills or tired
husbandman in the meadows must have desired to keep the god within his
hearing. A broken fragment in the Greek Anthology, embedded among frigid
Byzantine conceits, but springing one knows not out of what fresher age,
seems instinct with such prayers as theirs:—

                “With lips along thy reed pipe straying,
                  Dear Pan, abide,
                For in the sunny uplands playing
                  Doth Echo hide.”

Although Pan dwelt all over Hellas, his Arcadian birth was not disputed,
and more than one Arcadian mountain was especially distinguished by his
presence. Among the Nomian hills, to the south of Lycæus, he invented
the music of his pipes. Mount Mænalus, near Tripolis, he often visited,
and on Mount Parthenius he requested recognition at Athens. Over this
mountain, named for virginal Artemis, ran one of the regular passes from
the Argolis into Arcadia, a route followed to-day by the train from
Athens to Tripolis. The swift Athenian courier was passing this way when
he was delayed by the god.

In the northwestern corner of Arcadia, skirting Achæa and Elis, rises
another well-known mountain, Erymanthus, the favourite hunting ground of
Artemis, who as Leader, Saviour, and Fairest received countless shrines
from the Arcadians. The southern and lower continuation of Mount
Erymanthus was known as Mount Pholoë, to which, as we know from the
“Anabasis,” Xenophon and his sons and their guests used to come from
Elis for the pleasures of the chase. Its beautiful woodlands were fabled
to be one of the homes of the Centaurs, whose strange dual nature linked
the world of men to the world of beasts. Heracles was entertained by
them when, as one of his labours, he came to hunt the wild boar in the
Erymanthian thickets.

The forests which spread over the plains and darkened the hills of
Arcadia were filled with wild boars and bears and deer. The bear
especially gave rise to many legends. The Great Bear in the heavens was
once an Arcadian maiden, Callisto, whom jealous Hera turned into a bear
and whom Artemis, as a favour to her, shot down. But Zeus retransformed
the maiden into shining stars, the guides of mariners before and since
the night when Odysseus “kept looking ever at the Pleiades and at Boötes
setting slow and at the Bear, by surname called the Wain.” Callisto’s
son was Arcas, or Bear, and he first taught the forest dwellers, in the
country that was to inherit his name, how to raise corn and bake bread.
The great oak woods of Arcadia were responsible for the epithet
“acorn-eating,” which the riddle-loving priestess of Delphi often
applied to the inhabitants. In the time of Pausanias the Arcadian
forests were still conspicuous in all parts of the country. Driven
gradually from the plain to the mountains they are even there at last
yielding to decay.

But the waters of Arcadia are as unchanged as the hills. Both the
Alpheus and the Eurotas rise within its borders, the former turning
westward, as of old, to its haunts at Olympia, the latter winding to the
south to delight a new Sparta with its gleaming water and ripple-washed
reeds. And the Ladon, the northern branch of the Alpheus, flows on with
the impetuous charm and beautiful colour which gave it the reputation of
being the loveliest river in Greece. From out of the range of the
Erymanthian hills springs the river Erymanthus, which was especially
sacred to Pan, as if its reeds above all others could be shaped into
tuneful pipes. In the river Gortys the nymphs washed the new-born Zeus.
And by the banks of the Aroanius, which flows down a northern valley to
join the Ladon, Pausanias, in enviable leisure, awaited Arcadian music.
“Amongst the fish in the Aroanius,” he tells us, “are the so-called
spotted fish. They say that these spotted fish sing like a thrush. I saw
them after they had been caught, but I did not hear them utter a sound,
though I tarried by the river till sunset, when they were said to sing

A group of renowned Arcadian waters may be reached in one northward
excursion of three days from Tripolis. The first of these is the Lake of
Pheneus, as famous for its strangeness as for its loveliness. It is so
surrounded by hills that no stream can escape from it above ground, and
the water issues only by two katavothras. The condition of these
subterranean channels determines whether the great mountain basin of the
Pheneus is a fertile plain or a broad lake. In ancient times and in our
own the changes have succeeded each other with the fascination of
mystery. Pausanias found a plain, and knew the lake only by tradition.
From his day until the beginning of the nineteenth century there were no
records. But with the ensuing careful descriptions of geographers and
travellers come baffling alternations of a “swampy plain covered with
fields of wheat or barley” and a “wide expanse of still water deep among
the hills, reflecting black pine woods, gray crags, and sky now crimson
with sunset.”

To the east of Pheneus and separated from it only by a mountain ridge
the Lake of Stymphalus is sunk in placid beauty within towering hills.
It was the scene of the fifth labour of Heracles, who killed the
monstrous man-eating birds that haunted it. They typified, probably, the
pestilence which would arise whenever the underground channel that
served as an outlet for the lake became stopped. Heracles was the
master-engineer of mythological times. Later engineers also experimented
with the water which flows into the Stymphalian Lake from the
surrounding mountains and especially from Cyllene. Its purity and
abundance led Hadrian to have a supply of it carried by an aqueduct to
Corinth. And to-day the Athenians are contemplating importing it into
their arid city.

From the prosperous village of Solos vigorous and patient pedestrians
may reach the most famous of all the waters of Arcadia, and the most
characteristic also of a country in which gentle charms, however real,
are always subsidiary to a primitive wildness. These waters are the
Falls of the Styx, as familiar in English as in Greek literature. They
descend over a perpendicular cliff amid scenery which some consider
grander and more imposing than that at Delphi. The surroundings so
impressed themselves on the sensitive Greek imagination that from the
time of Homer the Styx was one of the dread rivers of death and the
lower world, fit companion-piece to nether darkness and the monstrous
hound of hell, fit invocation even for gods when on their oath. “Let
earth be witness unto this and heaven broad and yon down-flowing water
of the Styx, which is the oath the greatest and most terrible among the
blessed gods,” the immortals, from Zeus to Calypso, are ever exclaiming.
Hesiod contributed the fancy that Iris, in a vessel of gold, brought
water from the Styx to Olympus, so that the gods might swear by its
material presence. The spray of the falls is said to take on at midday
the lovely colors of the rainbow, which had its divine personification
in the fair messenger of the gods. And it has also been pointed out that
Hesiod, in addition to describing accurately the Styx as trickling down
from a high and steep rock, by a fine figure suggests a view in winter
when huge icicles form over the cliff and the clouds settle down so
closely upon its summit that the water looks as if it were descending
straight from the sky. The Styx, he says, dwelt in “glorious chambers,
vaulted with long rocks, and round about a colonnade of silver pillars
reared against the sky.” To him also as to Homer the dweller in this
icicled palace was “terrible, hated by all the immortals.”

The traveller who must sacrifice the lakes and rivers of Arcadia to
seeing the temple of Apollo comes directly by train from Athens to
Megalopolis in the great south-western plain. Here he is detained only
by a fourth century theatre and other more fragmentary remains of the
ancient city before turning northward by carriage or horse.

If he is obliged to ride for several hours and meet a carriage at
Karytæna, the grim guardian of the mountainous road to Andritsena, where
he is to spend the night, he will have cause to be thankful for an
experience that has put him on more familiar terms with rude Arcadia,
and has made him more sensitive to the change from monotonous lowland to
vast, solitary mountains and deep ravines. The town of Karytæna lies on
the slopes of one of the low hills that form the northern boundary of
the plain of Megalopolis. Above it, on the hill’s summit, loom the ruins
of an old Frankish castle, once the seat of a barony which contributed
many a romantic story to the history of the Peloponnesus in the Middle
Ages. Rarely in Greece is the harmony of historical impression
interrupted. But here, like highwaymen to challenge intellectual
security, feudalism and the mediæval world stalk out upon the unwary.
The spectacle is unique. Karytæna stands at the point where the flat
plain startlingly breaks into almost terrifying mountains. Mount Lycæus
towers on the left, and all around serrated heights rise grandly above
the castle, without detracting from its own defiant dignity. Past the
foot of the hill flows, on its way to Elis, the Alpheus, here spanned by
a striking bridge of six arches, bearing a Frankish inscription. The
ruins of the old barony of Geoffrey de Villehardouin equal any feudal
remains in Europe in their reminiscent suggestiveness of the romantic
and violent life of the Middle Ages. But even while the traveller fears
that he will become confused among memories of the Frankish dukes and
princes of the Peloponnesus, of donjons and keeps, of chivalry and
knighthood, of all the insignia and the emotions and the ideals which
make the thirteenth century A. D. seem more remote from us than the
fifth century B. C., he finds himself restrained and pacified. Whatever
Greece lays her hands upon seems to lose its ephemeral or unrelated
character and to take its place, individual, to be sure, but tributary
in an harmonious whole. The ruined mediæval castle fits into the
surrounding landscape as no disturbing factor, but rather as an integral
part of what had helped also to shape the ancient life of Arcadia into
its distinguishing forms. The age when the autochthonous Arcadians were
resisting the inroads of Sparta and the age when the Slavic inhabitants
were yielding to the attacks of the irresistible Franks seem to have had
a common parentage in physical conditions. And the brawling stream of
the Alpheus below seems to make the jousts and the romances of Geoffrey
de Karytena’s court as much their own as were the festivals of Zeus and
the love affairs of Pan and the nymphs.

The mountains into which the carriage turns from the six-arched bridge
are threaded by a long road which, despite its smoothness and safety,
runs near enough to the tops of precipices and to the sight of noisy
torrents in the gloomy ravines below to engender a mood of Arcadian
wildness. If this mountain region is reached in time, travellers will
become spectators of the charming scenes which are enacted each evening
over the hills of Greece when the bleating flocks of sheep and goats
come home to their folds. Sappho saw them in hilly Lesbos:—

 “Hesperus, all things thou bringest that brightness of morning had
 Bringest the lamb and the kid, and the child bringest home to his

Arcadia is still “rich in flocks” and the “mother of sheep,” and to meet
and greet her shepherds as they turn home from the mountain pastures
restores the world of Greek poetry. But if Karytæna is scarcely rounded
before “the sun sets and all the ways are darkened,” then pastoral
idylls make way for Arcadia’s magnificent solitariness. The mediæval
castle bravely lifts its head above the lonely country, while red clouds
stretch like tongues of flame over the mountains and the setting sun
turns into molten gold. Suddenly, perhaps, amid the awful silence of
purple crags and burning sky, one sign of life asserts itself. A little
kid is stumbling, lost and dreary, in a patch of green wheat which had
enticed it from its mother. Doubtless before the night is over one tired
shepherd who has safely enfolded his ninety and nine will climb the
steeps again to find the prodigal. But travellers must pass on in the
effort to reach Andritsena before midnight. The sky pales and cools into
night, and stars of singular brilliance emerge, using the absence of the
fair moon to “show their bright faces to men.” As one drives hour after
hour through the starlit solitude, while “from heaven breaketh open the
ether infinite,” all geographical and temporal limitations seem done
away with, and modernity and antiquity meet within the heart of nature.
But finally, as the road from time to time curves outward, the lights of
human habitations begin to twinkle. Andritsena lifts her little evening
beacons on a mountain-side to offer shelter and food to pilgrims of the
night. The village rivals Arachova in the charm of its situation, with
its outlook over the verdant hills of the Alpheus valley to the distant
pale blue heights of Erymanthus in the north. Vineyards and mountain
streams and trees add their quota. Those who have stayed several days in
the town in bright weather, or who have been snowed in, as travellers
may easily be as late as April, report many attractions out of doors,
and many hospitable entertainments within the peasant houses. Even those
whose impressions are gained from one night’s lodging may forget
physical hardships in the discovery of a Greek inheritance. A girl,
reproved for stroking the embroidered collar of a guest, says
explanatorily, “but it is so pretty,” even as the old men on the wall at
Troy said of Helen.

Beds of unyielding boards are exchanged before dawn for hard wooden
saddles. The temple of Bassæ lies two hours away, and those who wish to
see it without undue haste and yet return to Megalopolis before
night-fall must begin their ride while the stars are still alight.

Bassæ, or The Glens, should be thought of in connection with Phigalia,
although probably only those who take the long horseback ride to or from
Olympia will see the remains of this ancient city, which, measuring by
the time involved, lies as far beyond Bassæ as Bassæ is beyond
Andritsena. The surrounding country fell within its territory, but the
city itself stood on “high and mostly precipitous ground,” bounded on
the south by the deep gorge of the winding Neda, and partially encircled
on the other sides by high mountains. Here where the air was
invigorating and all healthful conditions prevailed it was natural that
Apollo should be worshipped as the Succourer (Epikourios). In the fifth
century the Phigalians were so impressed by reports of the new Parthenon
in Athens that they determined to erect by popular subscriptions a new
temple to their chief divinity and to ask Ictinus, the Parthenon’s
architect, to build it for them. Bassæ, where already a more primitive
shrine existed, was the place chosen, and thither from Andritsena in the
cool dawn modern pilgrims are taken by their peasant guides. In spite of
the promise of the stars, perhaps the day breaks slowly, dark masses of
clouds impeding the progress of the sun. For an hour and a half the
horses make their way along moderate heights, scrambling up small hills
and clattering noisily down very rocky defiles. The waysides, in March,
are bright with irises, violets, hyacinths, and white and purple
crocuses. Then the wildness of the country begins to increase, and
culminates in the stony slope of a forbidding hill. In half an hour this
is scaled by the horses, and becomes a mount of vision. In unusual
panoramic grandeur, mountains lift their nearer or more distant peaks.
On the east are the barren hills that form the western spurs of Mount
Lycæus. Farther to the south, beyond the valley of the Neda, are the
more thickly wooded slopes of the Nomian hills, and beyond them are seen
the snowy summits of the range of Taygetus. To the north Erymanthus and
Cyllene show their crests. And directly in front, far to the south,
Mount Ithome, rising out of the Messenian plain, proudly breaks the
horizon line. Nor is the sea wholly wanting, for along the southwestern
horizon, as if flowing into the sky itself, stretches a shining length
of the Ionian waters.

Perhaps from this hill Ictinus looked down upon the place assigned to
him by the Phigalians. Even then the situation must have seemed
impressively secluded. Now, certainly, on descending the easy slope, a
modern is almost overwhelmed, as if by the appearance of a god laying
claim to nature’s secrets, by the sudden sight of a majestic Doric
peristyle. The temple is built on a narrow plateau on the southern side
of a hill called Cotilius by the ancients. Ictinus’s first approach must
have been from Phigalia (where he would have talked with the municipal
authorities) up the valley of the Neda, over picturesque and well-wooded
hills and dales. But he must have studied the situation from all
possible points of vantage. Perhaps for him, too, some special
revelation came when out of dark and threatening clouds the sun, at last
divinely swift, cleft the darkness, and he saw how effectively massive
columns of gray limestone would be illumined by Apollo’s radiant shafts.
Probably the architect’s taste and the Phigalians’ desire united to
choose as the material of the temple the native rock that could be
quarried in the neighbourhood. Marble was imported for the capitals of
the inner pillars, for the ceilings of the north and south porticoes,
for the roof tiles and for the sculptured frieze which now honours the
British Museum. The columns of the peristyle and the architrave, barren
of adornment, are singularly noble. They look as if they had sprung from
the rocks about them and belonged more to the mountains overshadowing
them than to men. Indeed, for many centuries, men forgot the existence
of the temple. Pausanias, in his day, six hundred years after its
building, could still describe it as surpassing all the temples in the
Peloponnesus, save the one at Tegea built a hundred years later, for the
beauty of its stone and the symmetry of its proportions. But in time
earthquakes and iconoclasm wrought their deadly work, and through the
Middle Ages and the Renaissance the remaining ruins were known only to
shepherds. The temple was rediscovered in the eighteenth century, but
not until the present time were any efforts made to reërect some of the
interior portions from the fragments lying on the ground. In the wake of
the archæologist follows the tourist, and now any one who will may
intrude upon Apollo’s long solitude.

Unlike other temples erected to the gods, whom Æschylus describes as
“facing the dawn” and flashing back to the worshippers from their
“gleaming eyes” the sun’s early rays, the temple at Bassæ lay from north
to south instead of from east to west. But this was due only to the
character of the situation and the exigencies of the soil. Long before
Ictinus’s day a primitive shrine had existed facing the east in the
usual manner. And the new temple seems to have had a special door built
in its cella in order that the main statue of Apollo, facing the rising
sun, might still be approached from the side of dawn. The old statue,
like the old shrine, was supplanted by a finer one. Later the great
bronze Apollo was sent to adorn Megalopolis. But when Ictinus lived it
may well have formed the centre of his noble architectural design, an
incarnation of the ideal of physical and of spiritual wholeness realized
through beauty.

One further fact about the Temple in the Glens has been emphasized by
the great topographer Leake: “That which forms, on reflection, the most
striking circumstance of all is the nature of the surrounding country,
capable of producing little else than pasture for cattle and offering no
conveniences for the display of commercial industry either by sea or
land. If it excites our astonishment that the inhabitants of such a
district should have had the refinement to delight in works of this
kind, it is still more wonderful that they should have had the means to
execute them. This can only be accounted for by what Horace says of the
early Romans:—

                  ‘Privatus illis census erat brevis,
                  Commune magnum.’

This is the true secret of national power, which cannot be equally
effective in an age of selfish luxury.”

But it must also be pointed out that although the Phigalians had taste
and patriotism, no architect or artist rose among them to shape their
stone. Ictinus and his fellow artists must come from Athens worthily to
incarnate their desires. So a generation earlier they had been obliged
to persuade Onatas, the master of the Æginetan school of sculpture, to
carve for them a statue of Demeter. Nor were the Phigalians less skilled
than other Arcadians. Scopas had to come from Paros to build the temple
to Athena at Tegea. And it was foreign poets who turned the legends of
Cyllenian Hermes and Pan into literature, and later enshrined in
pastoral verse the tossing mountain forests and the cool rivers of

This was Arcadia’s destiny, to offer the raw material of her domain to
the shaping hand of more gifted races. Her greatest son was a soldier.
Her own deeds were deeds of blood and strife, her own life was one of
work and poverty. But because poets and artists of other blood wrought
for her, her name and her inherent beauty have become forever domiciled
in our own literature, even in our daily speech and commoner affections.

                             CHAPTER XVIII

    “What time the mid-month moon in golden car flamed back her
    light and lit the eye of Evening full, pure judgment of Great
    Games did Heracles ordain and fifth year’s festival beside
    Alphēus and his holy banks.”


Whatever may be the final decision of archæologists, it was natural for
Pausanias to identify the reclining figures in the east gable of the
Zeus temple at Olympia as the Alpheus and Cladeus. The right angle made
by the junction of these rivers is in a fertile plain where the Altis,
the sacred enclosure of Olympia, lies at the foot of the Kronos hill.
The Alpheus river is inseparably connected in Greek literature with the
Great Games. For more than one thousand summers successively the full
moon looked down upon the myriads of visitors who came from inland or
from island homes, from Tenedos in the East, or from Sicily in the West.
By the Alpheus they encamped and sank into dreamless sleep after their
journeyings or, it may be, one or another, himself a competitor or an
anxious relative, would be roused up by nightmares and outriders of grim
Taraxippus, the Horse Frightener, whose ghost long held in mortmain the
critical turning point in the Hippodrome. When the contests were ended,
the same moon would silver the weather-beaten columns of the old Heræum
or light up with its benignant splendour the new and stately shafts of
the Zeus temple, the gray-green sacred olive tree, the great wings of
the hovering Victory, the Parian marbles and the burnished bronzes, or
still more beautiful, the naked ivory of the athletes’ limbs. And then,
crowning all, the epinician hymn, newborn from Pindar’s brain, rose up
on the wings of victorious music to the very summit of the Kronos hill.


  Kronos Hill. The ruins of the Altis

The athletes had not far to journey from their last training place in
Elis. The spectators had come from various directions, some from the
sea-coast, some, as do the majority of modern visitors, from Patras on
the coast of Achæa. But then, as now, the direct artery from the heart
of Greece was the green valley of the Alpheus. The river clamps Arcadia
and Elis together. Down this valley year by year in antiquity pilgrims
journeyed to see the games and to attend the great Fair; here in modern
times bands of tourists still pick their way up and down over smooth
roads and rocky torrent-beds and cross the ford of the swollen stream;
and a projected railroad, connecting (on paper) Megalopolis and Olympia,
also follows the general course of the Alpheus. The river has two main
sources. Its northern branch, the Ladon, draws its water from the rugged
mountains of northern Arcadia. The other branch comes flowing down from
the northwest end of Taygetus, curves through the plain of Megalopolis,
plunges through the ravine of Karytæna and joins the Ladon near the
western border of Arcadia, and the two united make their way through
Elis to the Ionian sea. Nor even there is its end. In pursuit of the
fountain nymph, Arethusa, Alpheus must needs reach Sicily. To the Greeks
the Mediterranean was their highway, not the “salt, estranging sea.”
According to Lucian, as Alpheus enters the sea, Poseidon, brimming over
with curiosity, stops him and enquires: “What’s this, Alpheus? You alone
of all rivers don’t go in for dissipation, and you keep your waters
fresh and free from brine as you hurry on?”

(Alpheus) “It’s a love affair, Poseidon, so don’t cross-question me.
You’ve been in love yourself and often too!”

The sea-god on learning of the object of Alpheus’s passion expresses
much approval. But Alpheus cuts him short: “I am pressed with
engagements. You detain me, Poseidon, by your superfluous questions!”

(Poseidon) “You’re right. Be off to your Beloved. Rise up from the
water, mingle with the fountain and be ye twain one stream.”

Lucian’s contemporary Pausanias is troubled with no doubts, and solemnly
reaffirms the wedlock of Alpheus and Arethusa, although the more
sceptical Strabo in the preceding century had naïvely argued against the
credibility of the popular belief that a cup thrown into the Alpheus
reappears in the fountain at Syracuse. Antigonus Carystus had stoutly
maintained that “when the entrails of the victims are thrown into the
Alpheus the waters of Arethusa in Sicily grow turbid.”

Be all that as it may, Alpheus mingling his waters with the Sicilian
fountain is typical of the stream of competitors who were constantly
returning from the Olympic games to Magna Græcia. Of Pindar’s fourteen
Olympic odes nine were written for Sicilian or Italian victors. In
general one of the most noteworthy facts in the history of the games is
the widespread distribution of the clientèle. The competitors and
visitors converging from Greece; the innumerable votive offerings here
dedicated; the common motives of religion here illustrated in art and
literature generated a centripetal national spirit that could retard
though not destroy the centrifugal individualism of the Greeks.

The only fact more conspicuous than the wide territory represented is
the longevity of the Olympic celebrations. The Great Games were
continued both under Macedonian rule and even for long years after the
Hellenic world, east and west, subjugated, dismembered, and rearranged
like parti-colored bits of glass in a kaleidoscope, had fallen into
place in the imperial pattern of the great Roman mosaic. The splendid
Philippeum at Olympia was witness to the eagerness with which Philip and
Alexander made good their legitimate claim to Hellenic blood. Roman
emperors, like Tiberius and Nero, by their very presence, however
arrogant, gave one more sign of the Greeks’ intellectual suzerainty over
their captors.

Although Elis, even in October after the long hot summer, presents a
contrast to the burnt plains and hills about Athens, yet the traveller
will be best rewarded if he comes to Olympia by the end of February or
early in March. If he comes from Patras and will penetrate a little
inland from the railroad near the river Stimana, the ancient Larisos, he
will find himself in the midst of beautiful woodland scenery. The whole
country, with its fine oak trees, reminded the traveller Mure of “the
wilder parts of Windsor Park.” Even at the little stations are seen
shepherds in their shaggy coats, with conversation-beads and staffs and
flocks of sheep. At Olympia itself the new green of the trees and grass,
the pink of the almond blossoms on the banks of the Alpheus, and all the
awakening of the early spring help to dissipate the melancholy that is
wont to invade the mind in a lonely site amidst ruins which record some
by-gone efflorescence of human activity. This Olympian plain, through
which the Alpheus sweeps down to the sea between fields and vineyards,
offered ample room for the vast throngs of visitors. There was no city
accommodation. They must encamp in the open as they do to-day at many a
modern festival. But the smiling valley was a fit place to worship Zeus,
the god of the open sky. Xenophon, who lived on his estate just beyond
the hills which bound the plain to the south, tells in the “Anabasis”
how the returning Greeks, when they sighted the Euxine sea from the
mountain ridge, held impromptu games and races on an impossible slope
where men and horses tumbled amidst the jeers of the spectators. The
plain of the Alpheus was perfectly adapted both for the games and all
that the festival implied. It is easy to see how contests would become
popular here before they were instituted on the narrow ledges of
Parnassus at Delphi.

For the Greeks of the classical period the mythical founding of the
games in prehistoric times threw back the first contests into a
conveniently dim perspective. In this penumbra of Greek mythology
like-named replicas of gods, heroes, or mortals now blend together, now
assert their independence. The Cretan Heracles is said to have brought
the infant Zeus from Mount Ida to the Kronos hill in the Golden Age and
to have first instituted the games. Then again it is the national hero
Heracles, himself Zeus-descended, who cleanses the stables of King
Augeas in Elis with the help of the Alpheus and the Cladeus river-gods,
and thereupon founds the games.

To the reverent Greek his mythology was not an entertaining treasury of
mere fairy tales. The stories of two contests were selected with intent
as the theme for the sculptures most prominent of all in the sacred
enclosure. In the east gable of the Zeus temple was represented
Hippodameia, the daughter of Œnomaus. Her father has already in his
swift chariot overtaken and slain many suitors who had failed to
outspeed him while contending for his daughter’s hand. At the side of
Hippodameia stands Pelops just starting to win, by the favour of Zeus
and the treachery of Œnomaus’s charioteer, a prehistoric Olympic

In the west gable was the contest between the Lapiths and the Centaurs.
The latter are represented as invading the festival at the marriage of
another Hippodameia to Pirithous, whose friend and ally of old was the
hero, Theseus of Athens. The brute Centaurs presumably symbolize the
barbaric power of the Persians, whose defeat by Athens and her allies
was here fittingly celebrated as another Olympic victory. This may be
taken as the official expression, at the supreme moment of Greek
history, of one of the wider meanings of the games.

The first view of the excavations at Olympia is disappointing and
bewildering to the amateur visitor, and a mere topographical survey
hopelessly confounds history. Even a superficial appreciation of the
ruins presupposes a more special preparation than is necessary, for
example, at Pompeii. At Olympia, although it, too, was overwhelmed,
being destroyed by earthquakes and buried in soft earth by the loyal
river-gods, the imagination must concern itself with various epochs: the
prehistoric; the period from the first Olympiad to the Persian wars; the
age of Pericles; the following century; the Macedonian period; and,
finally, that of the Greek world under Roman sway.

All the buildings for the athletes and for the contests—the Palæstra,
the Gymnasium, the Stadium, and the Hippodrome—lay outside of the sacred
enclosure, while the Altis itself was reserved for the real purpose of
this consecrated spot, the worship of Zeus, under all his manifold
activities, and of the other gods who helped to round out and to satisfy
the aspirations, the hopes, and fears of the Greek heart that was “in
all things very religious.” To cover all possible oversights there was
at Olympia, as by the Areopagus of St. Paul’s day, or at Phalerum, an
altar to Unknown Gods. Just as the drama was a religious spectacle, so
the games were conducted by the real Greek in the same spirit. The
athletes went forth from the Altis to the contest, the victors reëntered
it to receive the olive crown, and within it their statues and offerings
were set up in the immediate presence of the gods.

In the Altis the ancient Heræum, with its indications of an earlier
wooden structure, carries back the thought far beyond the first Olympiad
in the eighth century B. C. The new god Zeus was just emerging from the
tutelage of his predecessor on the Kronos hill above. In this early age
he seems hardly more than a Prince Consort by the side of Hera who, in
Pindar’s sixth Olympian, is invoked as the “Maiden” or ever Zeus had led
her to the bridal chamber. One of the least obtrusive ruins in the Altis
marks the site near the Heræum of the great altar of Zeus or, possibly,
the common shrine of Zeus and Hera. Annually the priests kneaded with
water from the Alpheus the ashes of the thighs of victims offered, as in
the Iliad, to the god, and plastered a layer upon this primitive altar.
Only the water of the Alpheus was acceptable to the god in preparing
this clay, and thus year by year was cemented the union between the
visible and the unseen, the beneficent river-god of the land and the
Olympian god whose dome overarched the widespread land of Hellas.

Approaching historic records we read that Iphitus in 793 B. C. or, by
the usual reckoning, in 776 B. C., four hundred and eight years after
the traditional capture of Troy, renewed the games which had been
discontinued for twenty-eight Olympiads after the time of Pelops and
Heracles. The Heræum, until recently known as the most ancient temple in
Greece, certainly existed at this time, although differing in material
and in contents from the temple that Pausanias describes. Both the
ground structure and enough of the lower part of the walls remain to
enable the expert to reconstruct in imagination the whole building up to
the gable upon which rested the terra-cotta acroterion now preserved in
the Museum. At the west end of the cella we see the base of the great
statues of Hera and Zeus. Suitably enough, while Zeus has disappeared
the archaic head of Hera was found and is now in the Museum. And,
prostrate before one of the side niches, just where Pausanias describes
it, was found the Hermes of Praxiteles with the infant Dionysus on his
arm. This beautiful statue alone would have repaid the cost of the whole
excavation. It unites the beauty of the athlete’s body with the Greek
conception of divinity in frank, idealizing anthropomorphism.

The catholicity of Greek polytheism may be illustrated by the rest of
the company within the Heræum as described by Pausanias. It was not that
every god “had his day,” like the rotation in office of the Athenian
prytanes, but there was a precinct and a function for each and every
manifestation of pulsating life, from the humblest Nereid to Olympian
Hera. “Known to each other are all the immortal gods,” as Homer says.
They were all entered in their Almanach de Gotha and could upon occasion
live in harmony, except when some Eris threw her apple of discord in
their midst or “golden” Aphrodite struggled in the Council of the Gods
for precedence over the mere bigness of the Colossus of Rhodes. At any
rate, in Hera’s temple were placed statues of the Seasons and of Themis,
their mother, personifying orderly and unchanging Law; the five
Hesperides, stimulating the eager Hellenic mind to reach out after the
unknown; Athena, goddess in peace and war; the Maid and Demeter,
embodying the fruitful beneficence of nature and the mysteries of the
unseen; Apollo and Artemis, welcomed or feared by turns for their arrows
of light or shafts of destruction; Latona, their mother, whose Delian
refuge was firmly moored to every other sacred shrine in Greece. Here
too was Fortune, who had a not insignificant rôle in Greek as in Roman
life, and Dionysus, god of Tragedy and of Comedy, was represented as
accompanied by a winged Victory.

The Prytaneum of the Eleans, trustees of the land and of the games, was
enclosed within the Altis at the northwest corner of the Heræum. It was
built over in Roman times, but the Greek structure beneath seems to have
been of very early date. Here were sung ancient songs in the Doric
dialect, and here, in the banquet-hall, the Olympic victors were

Next in historic order come the remains of a row of twelve treasuries,
ranged along close to the Kronos hill from the Heræum to the Stadium
entrance. They are ascribed to the sixth century B. C. or, in the case
of part of the most easterly one, to the beginning of the fifth century.
These little buildings are of great architectonic and historic import.
Half of them were dedicated by communities from over the seas; five by
Italian and Sicilian Greeks. The fragments from the treasury of Selinus
recall at once the archaic temples and sculpture on the shore of Sicily
that faces Carthage. The Syracusan Treasury was re-named “Carthaginian”
by reason of spoils, taken by the Syracusans from their Punic enemies in
the battle of Himera and placed here to unite at this common shrine the
victors of Salamis with their brothers in the west.

In the fifth century B. C. the flush of victory at Salamis not only lit
up the Acropolis at Athens but spread to this green valley in Elis. The
great Zeus temple was built. Its pediments, as we have already seen,
were adorned with sculptured myths appealing at once to local pride and
to wider Hellenic patriotism. In the eastern gable Zeus stood upright as
arbiter in the chariot contest of Pelops; in the western gable the
archaic yet majestic Apollo appeared as the defender against the
Centaurs, the barbarian invaders. To emphasize the honour due to Athens
there was painted on the throne within the temple a representation of
Pirithöus, the bridegroom of Hippodameia, and his friend, the Athenian
Theseus. The victories over the Persians were again symbolized by the
contest between Theseus and the Amazons wrought upon the footstool of
the seated god, and, as if to put the meaning beyond all doubt, here too
were Greece and Salamis personified, the latter holding in her hand the
figurehead of a ship. The metope sculptures represented the labours of
Heracles who, as founder of the games, typified to patriot and athlete
bodily powers and indomitable will. The cella of the temple was reserved
for the great gold-ivory statue of Zeus, who was seated while others
stood. Phidias established his workshop by the sacred enclosure and
wrought. And the result of his handiwork was a world’s wonder for long
centuries. Into his creation were breathed Homeric dignity, Attic
beauty, and Hellenic pride. Dio Chrysostom in the first century of the
Christian era could say of it: “Methinks that if any one who is
heavy-laden in mind, who has drained the cup of misfortunes and sorrows
in life, and whom sweet sleep visits no more, were to stand before this
image, he would forget all the griefs and troubles that are incidental
to the life of man.”

Time and earthquakes and plunderers have worked almost utter ruin. But
the ground plan of the temple remains to tell a detailed story, and some
of the great shafts lie prostrate where they fell. In the Museum is
preserved, more or less complete, the major part of the gable
sculptures, fortunately including the very noble figure of Apollo, and
the mutilated but beautiful metopes. The gold-ivory statue has
disappeared long since. It is possible that it may have been destroyed
when the temple was burnt in the reign of Theodosius II, but a Byzantine
historian claims that the statue was still standing in a palace at
Constantinople when it was consumed by fire in 475 A. D. In front of the
Zeus temple are still to be seen some blocks of the lofty triangular
column over which Pæonius caused his winged Nike to hover. The statue
itself, in large part intact, is set up in the Museum and belongs to the
more beautiful of our inheritances from antiquity.

If now we add, in imagination, the great council hall, possibly lying
southeast from the temple, and the older colonnade bounding the east
side of the Altis, and if we add the pentagonal Pelopion and the minor
sanctuaries, and fill in the forest of statues of athletes and of gods,
we shall have the more salient features of the sacred enclosure down
through the great period immediately following the Persian wars. To the
beginning of the fourth century is attributed the little temple of the
Mother of the Gods east of the Heræum. Running in a line from this up to
the very entrance of the Stadium is a long row of pedestals. Upon these
stood the Zanes, or bronze statues of Zeus, which were erected from
fines imposed upon offenders against the rules of the games. They stood
where the contestants must see them just as they passed from the Altis
into the Stadium. It is significant that the first recorded serious
violation of athletic honour did not occur until 388 B. C., only a half
century before free Greece was crushed at Chæronea, and that the next
occasion was in the 112th Olympiad, six years after Macedonian rule was
established. This second time it was an Athenian who had bribed his
competitors, and the Athenians, like some modern sympathizers with
athletic criminals, were shameless enough to press the Eleans to remit
the fine. But the god at Delphi compelled the Athenians to submit.
Standing before the Opisthodomus, the rear porch of the Zeus temple,
from which poet, historian, and philosopher were wont to utter high
words on noble themes, the crowd may have looked up at the great Apollo
with his hand outstretched and imagined him dictating the inscription
placed, on a similar occasion, upon the base of one of the Zanes: “An
Olympic victory is to be gained not by money but by fleetness of foot
and strength of body.”

Macedon also left its records. When Philip had defeated the Greeks at
Chæronea in 338 B. C., his first care was to prove that he was Hellene
and not the barbarian that Demosthenes considered him. The Philippeum
was dedicated, and in it were erected gold-ivory statues of Philip’s
father Amyntas, of Philip, of the mother and grandmother of Alexander,
and of Alexander himself. Alexander’s right to contend at the games was
vindicated. In this period also was added on the eastern side of the
Altis the beautiful Echo colonnade with its sevenfold echo.

When Greece came under Roman rule, no longer could free-born Greeks
boast of exclusive right to participate at Olympia. Champions from all
parts of the empire, Tiberius and Nero among them, took part in the
games. Pausanias speaks of a statue of Augustus, made of amber, and a
statue of Trajan, dedicated by the Greek nation, and also of one of
Hadrian set up by the Achæan confederacy. Nero, who contended both in
the Olympic and Pythian games, dedicated four crowns in the Zeus temple.
Under the Antonines the external splendour of the Altis and the comfort
of the visiting throngs were enhanced by the public-spirited Herodes
Atticus, a Greek from Marathon and the preceptor of the emperor Marcus
Aurelius. Lucian, who was repeatedly at the Games, gives in his “Life’s
End of Peregrinus” a vivid picture of one of the quadrennial
celebrations in the time of the Antonines. In place of the deserted
ruins of to-day we can see the temples, statues, marble exedra, the echo
colonnade, the athletes, and the thronging crowds gossiping, wrangling,
gaping after novelty. As the Cynic partisan harangues the people from
the pulpit of the Opisthodomus we realize how for centuries Greek life
had focused in these gatherings. The festival had become a Greek
Exchange. Here, if we are to believe Lucian, Herodotus first gave to the
public his history, the great epinician epic that recounted the triumphs
of the Greek over the barbarian. Among his audience would be some whose
brothers or fathers had fought at Thermopylæ, and all would hear with
pride how Xerxes asked: “What are the Greeks doing?” and how he was
answered: “They are holding the Olympic games, seeing the athletic
sports and the chariot races;” and then, when Xerxes was told that the
prize was a mere olive wreath, how a Persian exclaimed: “What manner of
men are these who contend with one another not for money but for
honour!” Brain and brawn were alike praised at Olympia. The sophist
Hippias was Elis-born, and the statue of Gorgias from Sicily was erected
among those of the athletes. And here rhetoricians from Gorgias to
Lucian delivered their epideictic speeches; artists, painters, and
musicians appealed to the eye or the ear; philosophies new or old were
hotly debated.

But no Roman patronage could galvanize into real life the dying spirit
of freedom. Professionalism grew apace. Christianity, established in the
eastern empire, extinguished the fire on the ancient altar of Zeus. The
fitful return to polytheism under Julian the Apostate only served to
show its decadence, and in 393 A. D. the emperor Theodosius finally
suppressed the Olympic games. When the “truce” of the Olympic god no
longer interposed a defence, the Altis itself became a Byzantine
fortress and the monuments were partially destroyed to build its walls.
Amongst the ruins of the Palæstra and the Workshop of Phidias can be
seen the remains of a Byzantine church. Earthquakes in the sixth century
threw down the Zeus temple, and in this and the following century the
Cladeus and the Alpheus, the only gods who still retained their power,
united in preserving under deep layers of earth the mutilated monuments
for a kindlier age to uncover and to honour. After this destruction and
burial, for more than one thousand years the summer moons waxed and
waned above the desolated valley disturbed only by the hoof-beats of the
horses ridden by the vassal bands of the Dukes of the Morea. Here, as
elsewhere in Greece, temples robbed of their acolytes and statues, no
longer symbols of a living religion, forgot the incense of a happy past
and could look forward to no festal renascence. Sterling, in his
“Dædalus,” pictures these orphaned children of Olympus in a loneliness
only less pathetic than their irksome imprisonment within unsympathetic
Museum walls:—

               “Statues, bend your heads in sorrow,
               Ye that glance ’mid ruins old,
               That know not a past nor expect a morrow,
               On many a moonlit Grecian wold.”

In 1875 the German government subsidized the systematic excavations that
restored to the modern world some of its most valued treasures and laid
bare the greater part of the ruined Altis, the adjacent buildings and
the entrance to the Stadium.

The remains excavated outside the Altis bring us to the contests
themselves. Close to the western wall of the Altis were the elaborate
Palæstra and Gymnasium, where the athletes could keep themselves in form
for the contests. From the northeastern corner of the sacred enclosure
leads the covered way into the Stadium, which has been only partially
excavated at the two ends. To the south, or possibly east, of the
Stadium lay the Hippodrome by the bank of the Alpheus. Frazer, contrary
to the usual belief, thinks it possible that it may still be intact
north of the new bed of the river. From Pausanias, who fortunately
described the Hippodrome minutely, we can in imagination reconstruct the
scene: the rising tiers of spectators; the bronze turning-posts, on
which respectively stood statues of Pelops and of Hippodameia, at each
end of the course around which the chariots drove twelve times; the
umpires at the goal; the chariots waiting ready for the signal given at
the hoisting of the bronze eagle and the dropping of the dolphin. For a
typical chariot race of the best period we may turn to the “Electra” of
Sophocles, although the scene of the race is laid at Delphi, not at
Olympia. Sophocles, who himself embodied the Greek perfection of manly
beauty, knew how to give essential details to critical hearers. The
danger involved and the skill required on the race track made the owner
of the victorious team, provided he was his own charioteer, a worthy
recipient of Olympic honours. There are ten contestants in all, two of
them Libyan Greeks. They draw lots for the assignment of inner and outer
tracks and take their stations at command of the judges, and then—

      “At the bronze trumpet’s signal forth they shot: the men
      Urged on their horses and with both hands loosed the reins.
      Now on a sudden all the race course filled with din
      Of rattling chariots. Up aloft the dust cloud flew,
      Enwrapping all together. Spared they not the goad
      That one might pass the others’ horses snorting foam
      For horses, breathing neck and neck, now smote with flecks,
      Blown backwards, rivals’ flanks and fellies of the wheels.
      But he, just grazing past the post each time, would urge
      The trace-horse on the right and curb the left inside.
      Now thus far all the chariots had fared upright,
      But here the Ænianian’s colts the curb refused,
      Ran off with violence and, swerving from the course,
      (’Twas now the sixth round ended or the seventh now)
      Full on the frontlets of the Libyan’s team they crashed.
      From this mischancing first another and then one
      Fouled with his neighbour, crushing him, till all the course
      Crisæan filled with wreckage of the chariot teams.
      This noticing, the skilled Athenian charioteer
      Held in and swerved to safer offing to pass by
      The surge of chariot billows wallowing in the midst.
      Last came Orestes driving, holding back his colts,
      Placing his confidence upon the final heat.
      But when he sees the man from Athens left alone
      He stings his swift colts’ ears and whistled shrill the whip
      Pursuing. Now abreast the chariots twain drove on,
      First one team, then the other leading by a neck.
      Now he through all the other laps unscathed had come,
      Ill fated, upright on the upright chariot board,
      But as the horses doubled now the final turn
      He loosed the left rein, recked not of the column’s edge
      And struck upon it full the shivering axle-nave.
      Over the chariot rim he lurched. The severing straps
      Coiled round him. As he fell to earth the colts ran wild
      Along the race course wide. The people, seeing him
      Thus fallen from the team, raise outcries loud and high
      At what the youth had done and then this evil hap.
      Now borne along the ground, now high again upflung
      His legs gleam white, until the charioteers the colts
      Had checked, no easy task, and disentangled him
      So covered o’er with blood that never had a friend,
      Seeing that ruined form, have known him as his own.”

Both the Olympic and Pythian games were held every four years. The
Nemean and Isthmian came every two years. In all four the prize was
similar: the wreath of wild olive at Olympia; of mountain bay at Delphi;
of parsley or of native pine at Nemea; of parsley at Corinth. We are,
indeed, justified in emphasizing, until the period of decadence, the
absence of professionalism. The athlete, after undergoing the severest
training, contested, with no degradation of gate-money, merely to win
the honour of a simple wreath. But we need not shut our eyes to the fact
that the honour did not fade with the wreath. It belonged to the
athlete’s native place and to all his fellow-citizens. Thinking of the
evanescent glory of the Isthmian parsley and with the long race in the
stadium of Eternity in mind, the apostle Paul might indeed point the
contrast for his hearers between a “corruptible crown” and “one that
fadeth not away;” yet for the shorter race-course of life the emoluments
of honour and preferment were secure. And, in addition to all these
honours, an Olympian victor had a post-mortem value. He might be
worshipped as a divinity and his statue might heal diseases, like the
bones of a mediæval saint. Thus Lucian’s Momus, the god of critics,
reminds Zeus that their own prestige is endangered by these new
faith-cures: “Actually,” he says, “the statues of the athlete Polydamas
at Olympia and of Theagenes at Thasus are curing fever-stricken

The athlete’s ambition might issue in a selfish “opportunism,” or it
might be of the nobler kind to which Pindar, thinking perhaps of the
altar dedicated in the Altis to the god “Opportunity” (καιρός), would
lift the contestant’s ideal in his second Olympian:—

  “Winning the contest setteth free the essayer from its care and pain,
  and wealth embroidered o’er with virtues bringeth opportunity for this
  and that, inspiring mood that broodeth deeply upon earnest themes.”

There was a sacred truce from hostilities amongst all Greeks for a
month, to allow time for distant competitors and visitors to go and come
in safety. The games were held in summer at the time of a full moon,
whether in July or August is uncertain. The September full moon, in
fact, has been suggested as the date in the even Olympiads. At this
later moon the heat might be almost as great as at the summer solstice,
but it may be that the earlier date, with the longer day, was in vogue
as long as the contests were all held upon one day. At any rate, the
longest midsummer day was too short for the increasing number of events,
and after 472 B. C. we hear of five days. The order of the contests is
uncertain. At first, it would appear, the foot-races had been the only
event. Later it seems probable that the foot-races, the long race, the
short race, and the double course, came upon one day; on a second day,
the wrestling, boxing, and pancratium. The chariot-races and the
pentathlum came on one and the same day. The pentathlum was justly
popular as calculated to secure an all-round development of the human
form. It included leaping, the foot-race, discus-throwing,
javelin-throwing, and wrestling. The Spartans, who were never charged
with being effeminate, were said to favour it while discountenancing the
more brutal pancratium. We certainly are not much attracted by the
license of the latter, evidently considered legitimate, as we read of
two athletes habitually winning this event by bending back their
antagonists’ fingers. One of them, Sostratus, was surnamed
“Finger-bender.” But the judges presided with absolute authority and
enforced severe penalties against violations of the rules.

Women were prohibited under pain of death from even crossing the river
and entering the sacred precinct during the time of the games. Pausanias
records one violation. Kallipateira, or Pherenike (“Victoria”), the
daughter of Diagoras, the Rhodian victor immortalized by Pindar, anxious
to see her son compete, disguised herself as a trainer. In her
exultation at her son’s success she betrayed her sex. The penalty
attached was to be hurled from the Typæum rock on a mountain south of
the Alpheus. In deference to the victories won by her father, her
brothers, and her son, she was pardoned, but thereafter the trainers
were compelled to enter naked like the athletes themselves.

The priestess of Demeter, however, was present _ex officio_, and
Pausanias expressly states that virgins also were admitted as
spectators. This statement is usually rejected, but it may have been
true for certain times under the influence of Sparta, whose customs
threw the sanction of public sentiment around the athletic contests of
their maidens, the future mothers of their fighting men.

Although the modern reader is apt to think of the chariot-races in
connection with Sicilian tyrants, they were, as we have seen from
Sophocles, an integral part of Greek life. Herodotus, in the midst of
his account of the battle of Marathon, calmly suspends hostilities while
he tells how Cimon, father of Miltiades, won three successive Olympic
victories with the same mares and, as fitting climax, adds that the
mares were buried on the stately avenue of Athenian tombs, facing the
grave of Cimon himself. If Herodotus really read this at Olympia the
incident would not have seemed to his audience an intrusive digression.

In addition to the four-horse and two-horse chariot-races there was the
race with mules—no mean animals in Greece and the Orient. Pindar
repeatedly celebrates them in his Olympian odes. There was also the
single race-horse ridden by a jockey. One horse from Syracuse,
Pherenicus (“Victor”), was celebrated in song both by Pindar and
Bacchylides. Pindar tells how he “ran the course, his body by the goad
unurged” and brought victory to Hieron. Bacchylides, reminding us that
the horse-races opened the events of the day, exclaims:—

  “The Dawn, who touches earth with gold, saw Pherenicus, wind-swift
  sorrel steed, victorious beside Alpheus eddying wide, and saw him,
  too, victorious at Pytho the divine. And I lay hand on earth and
  swear: Not yet has dust-cloud raised by horses in the lead e’er
  touched him in the race-course as he hastened to the goal.

  “Now sing of Zeus, the Kronos son, Olympian ruler of the gods and of
  unwearièd Alpheus. Sing of mighty Pelops and of Pisa too, where famèd
  Pherenicus won with hurrying feet the victory and came back to the
  ramparts firm of Syracuse and brought to Hieron the (olive) leaf of
  fortune fair.”

Pausanias tells of a Corinthian race-horse, Aura (“Breeze”), perhaps one
of the famous “Koppa”[38] breed, sired by Pegasus. The jockey was thrown
at the beginning of the race, but the mare continued without breaking
form, rounded the turning stake, quickened her pace at the sound of the
trumpet, reached the umpires first, knew that she had won, and stopped.
The owner of the riderless horse was proclaimed victor.

Footnote 38:

  The old letters Koppa (ϙ) and Sampi (ϡ) were used to brand the
  haunches of blooded horses. The letter ϙ, used as an abbreviation for
  Korinthos, when obsolete in many parts of Greece, was retained in the
  Corinthian alphabet. It had been carried to Italy by the early Greek
  colonists and so passed into our alphabet as the letter Q.

  Young Phidippides in the _Clouds_ of Aristophanes had plunged his
  father into debt by his race-track operations and had in his stables a
  racer of this Koppa breed bought with money borrowed from the usurer

It would be very unsafe to assert that the eager Greeks, if called back
to our own age of ingenious mechanisms, would turn uninterested from the
vicarious competition by motor-cars, or feel nothing but disgust at
human forms crooked into the semblance of brutes over a flying bicycle,
but it is safe to emphasize that all their contests, whether exhibiting
the development of the perfect human body or the beauty of the horse,
ministered to that sure sense of form and proportion which they demanded
and obtained from poet, painter, and musician, sculptor, architect, and
athlete. But horse and chariot-racing involved certain special
temptations. As time went on, the “anything to win” spirit was sure, now
and then, to assert itself. The legend of the lynch-pin withdrawn from
the chariot of Œnomaus by the bribery of Pelops must have called for
strenuous casuistry from the priests of Zeus when it was necessary to
punish offenders for shady practices towards rivals. Pindar
magnificently ignores the thought of treachery. With him it is a god

  “glorified him with the gift of golden chariot and winged untiring
  steeds: mighty Œnomaus he overtook and won the maiden for his bride.”

Although in later times the peripatetic professional developed and could
claim as precedent the victories repeatedly won at various centres by
the athletes of old, yet, at least for their own times, Pindar and
Bacchylides were justified in assuming, alike for their Sicilian princes
or for their boyish winners in the foot-race, the genuine amateur spirit
of athletic rivalry. In the fourth century B. C. a Cretan, victor in the
long race, was bribed to transfer his citizenship to Ephesus. The
Olympian athlete had not then become, like the modern base-ball pitcher,
a legitimate commodity of interstate commerce, and the Cretans with
justifiable indignation pronounced the sentence of perpetual exile
against Sotades the offender.

For Pindar, indeed, it was necessary that every song should rise above
the sordid, either in belief or practice. He was at once a supreme
artist and a herald of the ideal. He even expurgates canonical mythology
to infuse into his odes some deeper, nobler lesson suggested by the
external and physical victory. And this, although several of his odes
were addressed to rich tyrants like Hieron of Syracuse, at whose court
were welcomed and honoured Æschylus, Simonides, Pindar, Bacchylides and
many more. “He was to them in some measure what Augustus was to Virgil
and Horace, what Lorenzo de’ Medici was to the members of the Florentine
Academy.”[39] Pindar honestly regarded him as the patron of letters and
as a bulwark against the barbarians. He had fought under Gelon against
the Carthaginians, and, soon after the battles of Himera and Salamis,
the Etruscans, who were also threatening Greek supremacy, were, in 474
B. C., defeated by him. Early in the nineteenth century, from a partial
excavation at Olympia, a bronze helmet of Etruscan make found its way to
the British Museum. On it is the inscription: “Hieron, son of
Deinomenes, and the Syracusans (dedicated) to Zeus these Tyrrhene spoils
from Cumæ.” It tantalizes with the sequence of historic associations.
From lips within this helmet came words of war in the dead Etruscan
tongue that still baffles linguistic classification; on it were
inscribed Greek words in the dialect of the proud Greek colonists in
Sicily; mingled Greek dialects greeted it when dedicated in the sacred
centre of the motherland; and now it is again held as spoils by another
and mightier island folk.

Footnote 39:

  Compare Jebb’s _Bacchylides_, p. 200.

Pindar could not prophesy the fatal conflict between the tyrants of the
west and the greedy imperialism of Athenian demagogues. He could not
peer into the stone quarries at Syracuse and see the legatees of Salamis
scorched under the lidless eye of a Sicilian sun. He could not foresee a
Macedonian ruling over Hellas nor forecast the Greek world under Roman
sway. He could not have understood how even Plato, with the additional
perspective of another half century, crowded with disturbing shifts of
value both in literature and government, would seek relief from the
spectre of tyranny not in democracy but by converting the baser metal of
the despot into the pure gold of the philosophic King. Yet Pindar is not
without his misgivings. In words none too vague he warns the ruler,
whose gold called forth his songs, of the dangers inherent in power. In
the first Olympian he tells Hieron:—

  “A man erreth if he thinketh that in doing aught he shall escape God’s
  eyes.... Man’s greatness is of many kinds; the highest is to be
  achieved by Kings. Crane not thy neck for more. And be it thine to
  walk life’s path with lofty tread.”

With better right and greater force Æschylus, himself warrior of
Marathon and Salamis, in the “Agamemnon” covertly warns his Athenian
contemporaries, then engaged in imperial schemes of expansion in Egypt
and elsewhere, against the haughty spirit that goeth before a fall. His
words easily connect themselves with this Pindaric ode because the
return of the Greek host from Troy brings out on Clytemnestra’s lips the
metaphor drawn from the double racecourse—the δίαυλος. Ilium is but the
turning-post at the farther end; Argos is both the starting-point and
the goal; the stadium is the Ægean sea:—

                              “But beware lest some desire
          May fall upon our men, succumbing to their greed,
          To ravage what they should not: they for safe return
          Unto their homes must bend them back again, adown
          The double race-track’s other leg.”

To make selections from Pindar is to pry out jewels from an antique
setting. But his Olympic odes give the best interpretation of the best
meaning of the games. Some were impromptu odes crystallized under the
stress of the victory and sung in the Altis while the full moon shone
upon the hero of the day. Some were longer and written at leisure for
the supplementary celebration at the victor’s home. But in any case the
thought was not impromptu. The Theban eagle soared habitually and paused
for a moment only at Olympia, sent by—

  “the Hours, circling in the dance to music of the lyre’s changing
  notes, to be a witness to the greatest of all games.”

Yet with all his soaring Pindar never forgot the gracious beauty of
human life. The Graces are ever near. Victory, he tells us, by the
Graces’ aid is won, and the charioteers—

  “Charis transfigures with the beauty of their fame, as they drive
  foremost in the twelfth round of the race.”

Pindar calls his song “a writing tally of the Muses.” Not he that runs
may read, but whoever will be at pains to wrap the Greek scroll around
the tally-stick can read the cypher and can find the clue to lead him
safely through “the sounding labyrinths of song.”[40] Pindar could
presuppose an acquaintance with mythology at least as familiar as was to
every child of a generation ago the knowledge of the Old Testament.
Conflicting myths lived side by side in the popular consciousness. The
sculptor and the poet could choose or reject at will. However recondite
may seem at times the application of the myth to the Olympic victor in
question, the pages of Pindar are constantly illuminated by some
flash-light that photographs upon the particular a glimpse of the
universal. From Olympia in Elis we are transported to Olympus. Heracles
brought from Olympus the charter for the games; there, too, is both the
starting-line and finish of the poet’s courser: “Pegasus is stabled in
Olympus.” Pindar does not belittle the mysteries of the unseen. When the
fame of Theron of Acragas (Girgenti) is said to over-pass Sicily and to
touch the pillars of Heracles, the thought of the pathless ocean
suggests a wider and uncharted Cosmos. His search-light projects for a
moment its stare into infinity, but it is forthwith checked with
characteristic restraint:—

         “What lies beyond nor foot of wise man nor unwise has
         ever trod. I will not follow on. My quest were vain.”

Footnote 40:

  _Olympian Odes_, i, translated by E. Myers.

Pindar’s description of the ancient consecration of the Altis may serve
to justify the Labours of Heracles carved upon the Zeus temple:—

  “Heracles there measured off a sacred grove unto the sovereign father
  and he ordained the plain around for rest and feasting. He honoured
  the Alpheus stream together with the twelve lord gods and he gave
  utterance to the name of Kronos hill, till then unnamed.”

His praise of the discus victor comes to mind when we see a copy of
Myron’s Discobolus or the graceful throw of a contemporary Greek in the
Stadium of modern Athens:—

  “In distance passing all, Enikeus hurled the stone with circling hand
  and from his warrior mates a mighty cheer swept by.”

And we seem ourselves to share in the evening celebration in the Altis

  “the lovely shining of the fair-faced moon illumined it and all the
  precinct rang with song and festal mirth.”

We can share too in the undertone of pathos in Pindar’s reference to the
dead father of a young athlete. Asopichus is winner in the boys’
footrace, and the news of his victory is sent to his father in Hades.
The Arcadian nymph Echo is the messenger:—

  “Fly, Echo, to the dark-walled palace of Persephone and to his father
  bear the tidings glorious. Seek Cleodamus, tell him how for him his
  son hath crowned his boyish hair with wreaths of th’ ennobling games
  in famous Pisa’s vale.”

Perhaps the most radiant picture of “festal mirth” is called up by
Pindar’s seventh Olympian, written for Diagoras of Rhodes. Diagoras’s
two sons and his grandson were also Olympic victors. This acted, on at
least two occasions, as a family prophylactic. His daughter, as we have
seen, was pardoned by reason of this for her intrusion in disguise at
the Olympic games, and Dorieus, his son, when captured by the Athenians
in a sea-fight, escaped the only alternatives usual in the case of a
prisoner of war. He was neither put to death nor forced to pay a ransom,
but set free, just as Balaustion, the Rhodian girl, was set free by the
Syracusans because she delighted her captors by repeating a new drama of
Euripides. And the Rhodians wrote up Pindar’s ode in letters of gold in
the Athena temple on the acropolis of Lindus. The modern visitor to this
enchanting island climbs up the lofty headland that rises abruptly
between the shining water of the two indenting bays, and, before he
passes through the ruins of the ancient propylæa and the still imposing
portals of the fortress of the Knights of St. John, he sees upon the
solid rock the after part of a huge trireme with the steering-oar and
the rippling water carved in stone. He can imagine a trireme of a former
day entering the harbour below with triumphal sweep of oars, bringing
Diagoras and his victory back to his townsfolk in this far-off corner of
the Greek world. He can picture the procession of Lindians to Athena’s
temple; the brilliant colouring of robes and chitons; the choral music;
the exultation in their townsman’s physical prowess and their
intoxication of delight because the greatest of lyric poets is reaching
out to them, as to the bridegroom at a wedding-feast, a chalice of pure
gold resplendent, brimming with the “distilled nectar” of his song.

But Pindar soars beyond the pride of life even as he universalizes the
individual experience. It was not only St. Paul’s idealism that
perceived the great contest in which humanity is forever engaged. In
Pindar’s second Olympian the athlete’s triumph suggests the victory over
Death, and the Kronos hill becomes the “tower of Kronos” to which the
victor travels over “the highway of Olympian Zeus.” So the arch-idealist
Plato, in closing his great constructive vision of the Ideal State, can
find no more fitting comparison for him that overcometh than by likening
him to the victors in the Games: “If we take my advice, believing that
the soul is immortal, we shall ever hold to that upward pathway and at
every turn shall practice justice joined to intelligence that we may be
at once friends of ourselves and of the gods and may fare well ... both
while we abide here and when, like the prize-winners, we come to gather
in the prizes of the games.”

But aside from lofty thoughts like these, native to the greater
interpretative intelligences of Greece, the recently discovered poems of
Bacchylides tell us much of the actual spirit of the games. Bacchylides
was nephew of Simonides, the poet-laureate of the nation from Thermopylæ
to Platæa, and he was also the grandson and namesake of a famous
athlete. He was qualified to sing both the Games and the Graces. And the
native of the little island of Ceos did not hesitate to enter the
contest with the splendidly arrogant Theban who could compare his
inferior rivals to “crows that chatter against the divine bird of

Footnote 41:

  Pindar, _Olympian Odes_, ii, translated by E. Myers.

Of the twelve epinician odes of Bacchylides three were addressed to
Hieron, at whose court he enjoyed especial favour. Two Olympic odes were
written for Lachon, a young athlete from the poet’s native island. One
of these is a short serenade sung before the victor’s own house by his
fellow-citizens. Nothing could better illustrate the intensity of local
pride and enthusiasm. Now the victorious athlete is praised, now his
very identity is merged in the personification of his native land. It is
Ceos herself that has won the boxing and the foot-race. Lachon, as the
ode reminds us, has already been greeted by the impromptu choral sung at
Olympia on the evening of his triumph. Now he is welcomed at home by
another choral for which there has been ample time to make ready.
Bacchylides may well have written this little serenade not as a paid
commission but as a spontaneous outburst of patriotic pride and
affection for his country and his fellow countrymen. We should prefer to
have it so. In any case we feel a human interest in the young athlete
whose strong body and swift feet have won the prize:—

            “Lachon has lot of such renown
            From Zeus most-high as yet had none,
            Enhancing fame with feet that run
            Beside Alphēus flowing down.
            For which e’er this with hair wreath-bound
            Olympic youths sang songs around
            How Ceos, with her vineyards crowned,
            The boxing and the foot-race won.

            “Thee now song-queen Urania’s hymn
            Ennobles—O thou wind-fleet one,
            Of Aristomenes the son—
            Thy praise as victor homeward bringing
            And here before thy lintel singing
            How thou, thy course through stade-race winging,
            Brought Ceos fame no time shall dim.”

From little Ceos, the second in order of those bright stepping-stones
that dot the Ægean from Attica to Rhodes, we may quickly cross to the
mainland and find our way to Marathon. From there to Athens we trace
that greatest of all ancient race-courses over which the Greek runner
ran in full armour to give with his dying breath the warning and the
news of victory, and to win a memorial beside which the olive-wreath
might well turn pale.[42]

Footnote 42:

  For this story see chapter vii, p. 159, and note.

When the modern Athenians revived the Olympic Games the chariot-races
were beyond their resources. Contests of personal, physical strength and
skill constitute the fitting nucleus of the games held in the old
Stadium, now newly covered with marble from the “mountain that looks on
Marathon.” And it was a happy and natural thought to add as the closing
event the great Marathon race. While perpetuating the glory of the
Athenians it reënforces the loyalty of all the Greeks to their national
capital. In this race centres the chief ambition of the Greeks. The
other events are of secondary importance. If fanciful critics demand any
further excuse for the change of venue from Olympia to Athens, it may be
enough to remind them that Heracles (according to one tradition) brought
in the first place from the banks of the Ilissus the original graft of
the sacred olive-tree from which, at Olympia, the victor’s crown was cut
with the golden sickle. With graceful sentiment, however, the olive
sprigs are now in turn brought to Athens from Olympia.

Despite all the modern barnacles that encrust the ancient torso, the
student of old Greek life can find much to stimulate him in the revival
of contests inherited, or directly developed, from ancient times—such as
the foot-race, short and long distance; javelin-throwing; leaping; and,
chief of all, the discus-throw in the ancient style. The interest of the
Greeks to-day in this latter event is second only to that in the
Marathon race.

A modern, seated in the Stadium at Athens, has cause for meditation.
Behind the gaudy hats and parasols of women, the more sombre clothing of
men, or the brilliant uniforms of officials gleams Pentelic marble. Over
many tens of thousands of spectators, gathered from all Greece and
Europe and from beyond the Atlantic, float the flags of powerful
nations: of Turkey; of the lands that look upon the northern seas; of
the mighty spawn of the Anglo-Roman; and of the New Atlantis. None of
these nations had emerged from barbarism when this same choir of
encircling hills sang together the triumph song of Salamis. Prometheus,
the incarnation of human self-assertion, rebel to the rule of Zeus,
pinioned on a crag overlooking those same northern seas, is made by the
Greek prophet to utter the pessimistic cry: “New gods rule Olympus.”
Now, as a modern Greek remarked to an American visitor, “the old gods
have migrated to a new Olympus.”

But although the gold-ivory statue of Zeus cannot reappear from the
ruins of Olympia, yet “the godhead of supernal song” remains in the
literature of the Greeks, interpreting and interpreted by the
contributions of the archæologists. Swinburne’s words are not mere
poetic license:—

    “Dead the great chryselephantine god, as dew last evening shed;
    Dust of earth and foam of ocean is the symbol of his head:
    Earth and ocean shall be shadows when Prometheus shall be dead.”

                              CHAPTER XIX

        “A land where fruit trees blossom, myriad fountains flow
        And flocks and herds are grazing in the meadows fair.
        Nor wintry are the winds of winter, nor too near
        The flaming Sun comes driving in his four-horse car.”
                  EURIPIDES, Fragment of the _Cresphontes_.

Telemachus, in search of his father, sailed down the western coast of
the Peloponnesus, landed at “sandy Pylos,” the home of Nestor, and by
this old friend was sent across country to Menelaus at Lacedæmon. The
long drive was broken by a night at Pheræ. According to a tradition that
still has its supporters the modern site of Pylos is Navarino, in the
centre of the western coast of Messenia, while Pheræ is represented by
Kalamata, on the northeastern shore of the Messenian Gulf. A growing
tendency to push Nestor’s realm further up the coast, out of Messenia,
and to place Pheræ in Arcadia is due, in part, to the discrepancy
between the lot of modern travellers on their way from Kalamata to
Sparta and that of the two young princes of the Homeric story.
Telemachus and the son of Nestor mounted an inlaid chariot at early
dawn, their two horses, touched lightly by the whip, flew eagerly
onward, and at sunset, as all the ways were darkening, the wheat-bearing
plain of Lacedæmon opened before their eyes. Moderns, whether merchants
or sightseers, must spend an equally long or longer day in riding on
mules or plodding horses over the difficult paths of Mount Taygetus,
whose massive bulk forms an almost impenetrable barrier between Messenia
and Laconia. The narrow bridle paths of the Gorge of the Nedon, which is
the trade route, and the savage beauty of the Langada Gorge exclude
highways for royal cars and on-rushing steeds.

Whether or no Kalamata was once an insignificant way-station between two
princely domains, it is now one of the most prosperous towns of the new
nation, separated from Athens only by a day’s ride in an express train,
and the natural starting point for excursions in Messenia.

From this rich southern plain it is easy to reach the confines of the
more northern plain, which was the country’s heart. Here was the capital
of its prehistoric kings, and here about the mountain fortresses of
Ithome and Eira occurred the chief events of its pitiable historic life.
Ithome is one of the highest fortified mountains in Greece, but can be
ascended by roadways which only below the fortress peaks change to rocky
paths, insecure even for mountain horses. From this summit, by the
favour of Zeus of the open sky whose sanctuary it once was, all Messenia
can be overlooked. It is indeed a lovely country. The mountain ranges to
the north and east have reserved their sterner influences for other
peoples, while the open sea along the western and southern coasts
bestows the largess of a perfect climate. The country between Kalamata
and Ithome is one of great fertility and beauty. Orchards of gray-green
olives are broken by dark cypresses, while lemon and orange groves,
unknown to Euripides, add their peculiar radiance to the landscape. In
the spring, almond trees delicately lift their pink blossoms above long
hedges of glistening green cactus, and the green grass of the wayside
fields nurses buttercups and scarlet anemones, purple and yellow irises,
and thick clusters of deep blue flowers.

The loveliness of Messenia decided her history, which was one of
passionate and futile resistance to foreign greed. The Spartan poet
Tyrtæus said that the soil of Messenia was “good to plough and good to
plant.” Long before his day the Spartans had stretched out their hands
for it, and from the eighth century to the fourth they never
relinquished their grasp. During the more important epochs of Greek
history Messenia was but a province of Laconia.

But it was a province capable at any time of revolt. The two early
“Messenian Wars,” of the eighth and seventh centuries, were the stepping
stones by which Sparta rose to a place of power in the Peloponnesus.
Beset by agrarian difficulties, she needed more land, and the most
fertile land of Greece was to be had for a little blood. Of the second
war we have a few fragmentary memorials in the contemporaneous martial
verses of Tyrtæus. But in general both wars would be almost obliterated
from history were it not for the fact that Pausanias, having access to
some late prose and poetry which repeated the native legends, in an
unwonted mood of imaginative sympathy gave himself up to recounting the
pathetic efforts of Messenia toward freedom. There is the usual
material: heroes and fortresses, Aristodemus and Ithome in the first
war, Aristomenes and Eira in the second; oracles and portents; fair
maidens and faithless wives; kings and cowherd lovers; storms and
marvellous escapes; courage and despair. Aristomenes, as Pausanias says,
shines out like Achilles in the Iliad, “the first and greatest glory of
the Messenian name.” But in spite of his heroic and prolonged defence of
Eira, the Messenians by the sixth century were serfs of the Spartans,
paying to their masters a half of all the produce raised by their own
hands from their own farms,—asses, Tyrtæus called them, worn by
intolerable loads.

In the fifth century they took advantage of an earthquake and an
insurrection of slaves at Sparta to rise once more and encamp on Ithome.
They were defeated and obliged to choose between serfdom and exile. But
by this time their petty rebellions had become important in the affairs
of the greater powers of Greece. Ithome was the rock on which the
political life of Cimon of Athens suffered shipwreck.

During the next ninety years the nationalism of Messenia was a homeless
and restless force, seeking, wherever it might, to harm Sparta and to
glorify itself. During the Peloponnesian War the Messenians by their
knowledge of the country materially aided the Athenians in the dramatic
battle of Sphacteria off the Messenian Pylos, and the surrender of the
Spartans, Thucydides says, amazed all Hellas.

At last, about 370 B. C., the “Poland of Greece” found a friend in the
man whose practical idealism was dominating the period. Epaminondas, in
pursuance of his policy of weakening Sparta by reviving other
Peloponnesian states, determined to found a new capital of Messenia,
Messene by name, on the slopes of Ithome. Ruins of this city still
exist, and the most imposing of them, the fortification known as the
Arcadian Gateway, is famous as an example of skilful Greek engineering.
Lying toward Megalopolis, also a beneficiary of Epaminondas, it seemed
to reunite in a new hope the old Arcadia and the old Messenia whose
friendship had been so futile. To-day, still a strangely impressive
monument, it may serve as a symbol of Messenia’s share in the spirit of
Greece. Impotent in literature and art and unsuccessful even in war, the
men of this country conserved through many generations and vicissitudes
that intense national feeling which existed at the core of every Greek
state, shaping Greek history and penetrating Greek literature. Wherever
history became large and literature became universal the force of
national consciousness was likely to become diffused, but in a state
like Messenia it was obscured neither by other national gifts nor by its
own success.

The Messenians, Pausanias tells us, “wandered for nearly three hundred
years far from Peloponnese, and in all that time they are known to have
dropped none of their native customs, nor did they unlearn their Doric
tongue.” After the victory at Leuctra “the Thebans sent messengers to
Italy, Sicily and the Euesperitæ inviting all Messenians in any part of
the world whither they had strayed to return to Peloponnese. They
assembled faster than could have been expected, for they yearned towards
the land of their fathers and hatred of Sparta still rankled in their
breasts.” And for them Epaminondas made a new city, sending “men who
were skilled in laying out streets, building houses and sanctuaries and
erecting city walls.” The Arcadians sent victims for the sacrifices. The
exiles, home at last, prayed to their ancient gods and called upon their
ancient heroes to come and dwell among them. “But loudest of all was the
cry for Aristomenes, and the whole people joined in it.” This call from
his own people has been, we may hope, full compensation to his dead ears
for the dumb or sneering lips of history.

                               CHAPTER XX

          “Lacedæmon’s hollowed vale by mountain-gorges pent.”
                                      HOMER, _Odyssey_.

In the Spartans’ theory of life adventures abroad or the welcome of
strangers into their own territory had no place. Perhaps nothing more
sharply differentiated them from the Athenians, whose love of roving was
equalled only by their delight in seeing the rest of the world drawn to
their city. The instinctive and reasoned reserve of the Spartans was
reënforced by the physical conditions of their country. Laconia is
bulwarked on three sides by mountains, through which, in antiquity, all
entrances but one were difficult, and its southern boundary is the open
and stormy sea. The Laconian Gulf splits the country into two
peninsulas, ending in the famous promontories of Tænarum and Malea, in
rounding which so many sailors, from the days of Menelaus and Agamemnon
and Odysseus, have looked for violent winds.

Far inland, within the rifts of the northern hills, lies the plain of
Sparta. By those to whom the sea is not an essential element in Greek
landscape this city is held to be more beautifully situated than any
other in Greece. The brilliant luxuriousness of a southern lowland is
combined with the austere grandeur of mountain scenery. Some twenty
miles in length, the plain is only five miles broad between the ranges
of Taygetus and of Parnon, whose bases show extraordinary caverns and
fissures. Taygetus stretches along the whole western side of Laconia,
but rears the highest of its long line of summits just over Sparta.
These magnificent summits, covered with snow for two thirds of the year,
ennoble many a landscape outside of Laconia. Below them extend the wide
tracts of forest where Artemis once took her pleasure, and Spartan
hunters tracked the wild boar with dogs that shared their “bravery” and
“love of toil” and won a guerdon of praise from Pindar and Sophocles. In
front of these woodlands rise the five peaks which have given to the
mountain the modern name of Pentedactylon.

It is characteristic of the Greek attitude toward nature that the
mountain is not praised in poetry as much as is the beautiful plain,
richly fertilized by the river Eurotas on its way from Arcadia to the
sea. Telemachus, in spite of his greater affection for the rough
goat-pastures of his native Ithaca, appreciated the wide courses and the
meadowland of Sparta where “aboundeth the clover, the marsh grass, the
wheat and the rye and the broad white ears of the barley.” Euripides
knew that the reedy bed of the Eurotas, the trees and meadow flowers of
its banks, its hungry foam in the season of heavy rain and the lovely
gleam of its calmer waters would haunt the homesick hearts of Helen and
the Spartan maidens who shared Iphigeneia’s exile among the Taurians.

[Illustration: TAYGETUS]

Modern Sparta, founded after the War of Independence, lies in the
southern district of the Sparta of antiquity. Mediæval Sparta, called
Mistra, lay some distance west of the old site, very near the entrance
to the Langada Pass. Homeric Sparta lay to the southeast, across the
Eurotas, at Therapne, later a suburb of the Doric city. Here flourished
that noble court which amazed the young Ithacan and the tale of which is
still to us “a fountain of immortal drink.” Telemachus arrived just as
Menelaus was marrying his son to a native princess, and his daughter,
the inheritor of her mother’s loveliness, to Thessalian Neoptolemus,
Achilles’s son. Never could the great vaulted hall of the palace have
displayed a gayer splendour. The son of Odysseus has grown up in no mean
castle, but this gleam of gold and silver, like sun and moon, this
flashing bronze and shining ivory and glowing amber make him feel as if
he were on Olympus at the court of Zeus. Tumblers perform wonderful
tricks. A divine minstrel sings. Silver basins and golden ewers are
passed around. Supper is served on a polished table in dishes of gold.
Menelaus, noticing the boy’s charming admiration, tells him how he has
gathered his wealth in Cyprus and Phœnicia and Egypt, but how it means
little to him over against the loss of his old comrades and friends. And
as they talk Helen comes in, like Artemis of the golden arrows, and her
willing servants bring her a carved chair and cover it with a rug of
soft wool. And sitting there, her white hands busied with the deep blue
wool wound about her golden distaff and with the dressed yarn heaped in
her silver basket that runs on little wheels and is rimmed with gold,
she talks with them of what happened once in Troy and of Odysseus of the
hardy heart and, quite easily, of how she had wanted to come home again
to her own country and her child and to her lord “who was lacking in
naught, nor wisdom, nor beauty of manhood.” And into their drinking cups
she put a drug and “they drank of it, quenching all anger and pain and
all of their sorrows forgetting.”

The memory of the royal pair never died in Sparta. Therapne contained a
sanctuary called the “Menelaeion,” where prayers were offered for the
physical beauty which was keenly desired by an athletic people. Helen
sometimes walked abroad to bestow in turn the gift she had received from
Aphrodite. At least, Herodotus tells a story of a nurse taking a very
ugly girl baby to the temple and meeting a strange woman who insisted
upon seeing the child and who then gently stroked its head and said,
“One day this child shall be the fairest lady in Sparta.” And from that
very day her looks began to change and the ugly baby became the beauty
of the town and married the king.

It is not difficult to prolong the associations with Homeric Laconia by
following Helen on her guilty flight southward; lingering to see Amyclæ,
a rich city in Homeric times, and the beehive tomb of Vaphio, which in
1889 yielded up two incomparable vessels of gold now in the Museum at
Athens; and going on to the busy seaport town of Gytheion, from whose
docks Paris took his stolen bride to the little island of Cranaë, now
Marathonisi, before spreading his defiant sails for the longer voyage.
But sooner or later the fact of the Dorian invasion must be reckoned
with, and the resultant birth at Sparta of a civilization totally at
odds with that which it displaced.

In Laconia the invasion was one of conquest and subjection, and the
victors prided themselves on keeping their blood pure, much as the
Laconian Maniotes of modern times have clung fiercely to their Spartan
descent. Sparta became the Dorian city _par excellence_, the protagonist
of Dorian ideals, the natural leader of the forces which both in war and
peace were in opposition to the Ionic elements in Greek life. The
historical events in this development are so interwoven with the history
of the other states of Greece, especially with that of Athens, that they
will already have become familiar to travellers who visit Sparta last.
The conquest of Messenia first increased her resources. By the middle of
the sixth century she won signal victories over Tegea and Argos and
became the head of the Peloponnesian Confederacy, which included every
state in the Peloponnesus except Achæa and Argos. Before the end of the
century she was the leading state of Greece, for Thessaly was losing
ground and Athens had not yet risen. In the first part of the fifth
century Sparta was the natural leader of the Greek allies against
Persia, and in the autumn of 481 B. C. was the head of the congress at
the Isthmus. To her generals was given the command of both the army and
the navy. But her conduct of the wars at best did not increase her
prestige, nor did she afterwards exhibit any skill in using new
conditions. This was the opportunity of Ionic Athens to create the
greatest period of Greek history. But Sparta was also strong and
possessed in Brasidas a general unparalleled among the Laconians for
eager enterprise, trustworthiness and personal popularity. A final
struggle was inevitable. The Dorians won, and, at the end of the fifth
century, once more for a generation held the balance of power in Greece.
But Sparta’s despotism within the Peloponnesus and her desire for
foreign aggrandizement created new hostilities. Early in the fourth
century Persia undermined her maritime power, and Greek friendships as
strange as the Æschylean truce between fire and water were formed to her
detriment. Athens and Thebes, Corinth and Argos forgot old enmities in
hatred of Sparta, but she maintained her supremacy and forced upon
Greece the arbitration of the Persian king. For fifteen years Greek
politics veered hither and thither, and then at Leuctra Epaminondas
conquered Sparta and won the leadership of Greece for Thebes. His death
gave one more opportunity to Athens, but before she could use it Macedon
arose and at Chæronea united her with Sparta in a common humiliation.
Never again did either Dorian or Ionian state have power to alarm the

Thucydides described Sparta as a straggling village like the ancient
towns of Hellas. Polybius added that it was roughly circular in shape
and level, although it inclosed certain uneven and hilly places. It had
no real acropolis, but the highest of its several hills received this
conventional name; and it was not fortified by walls until long after
the greatest days of its history. Four districts or wards, Pitane,
apparently the aristocratic quarter, Limnæ, Cynosura, and Mesoa, perhaps
represented an early group of villages which later were united in one

This city was extraordinarily barren of artistic adornment. The citizens
of no other leading state in the whole of Greece were so indifferent to
the value of architecture and sculpture, nor is it likely that they were
perturbed by the prophecy of Thucydides: “If the community of Lacedæmon
should become a desert with only the temples and ground foundations
remaining, I think that, after the lapse of much time, men of the future
would be very slow to believe that the power of the Lacedæmonians was
equal to their fame. And yet they possess two of the five divisions of
the Peloponnesus and hold the hegemony of the whole and of many outside
allies. But this community is not a city regularly built with costly
temples and edifices and would seem rather insignificant.”

Temples and edifices of course there were for the business of life and
of religion, but the need for them was not, as in Athens, or even in
certain cities of rude Arcadia, identified with the larger need of
inspiring or importing the genius of architect, sculptor, and painter.
Sparta had an early school of sculpture, influenced by Cretan teachers,
specimens of whose work may be seen in the Museum. But the impulse
shrivelled and died in an uncongenial atmosphere. Nor do we find the
Spartans in the great artistic centuries clamouring for the work of
foreign artists as did the towns of “stupid” Bœotia. The British School
of Archæology is successfully engaged in the exploration of Sparta, but
we cannot anticipate the discovery of statues like the Hermes of Olympia
or the restoration of buildings like the Treasury of the Athenians at

With this chastening of his imagination the traveller may turn his
attention to the few discoveries which up to this time have been made.
By far the most significant of these are fragmentary remains of the
temple of Athena Chalkiœkos and of the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia.
Athena’s Brazen House, existing in some form from a very early epoch,
was so associated with the public life of the city that it became known
to foreigners as an object of peculiar national sentiment. Euripides
makes the Trojan women attribute to Helen a desire to see it once more
when, praying to die at sea before the consummation of their captivity,
they seek to involve her in their own fate:—

                    “And, God, may Helen be there,
                      With mirrors of gold,
                    Decking her face so fair,
                    Girl-like; and hear and stare
                      And turn death cold,
                    Never, ah, never more
                      The hearth of her home to see,
                    Nor sand of the Spartan shore,
                      Nor tombs where her fathers be
                    Nor Athena’s Brazen Dwelling
                      Nor the towers of Pitane.”[43]

The discovery of the Temple of Artemis is of great importance, not only
because it was the pivot of the religious life of Sparta but because its
eighth century foundations, excavated beneath the traces of a sixth
century structure, may belong to the earliest temple in Greece. The
image, called Orthia because it had been found “upright” in a thicket of
willows, was believed by the Spartans to be the ancient wooden one
brought by Orestes and Iphigeneia from the land of the Taurians, where
Iphigeneia, rescued by Artemis from the sacrificial altar at Aulis, had
been its priestess and guardian. Euripides naturally preserves the
Athenian tradition that the image was brought to Brauron. But Pausanias
presses the Spartan claim and explains the hoary custom of annually
scourging the boys in front of the image by the “relish for blood” that
it had acquired in the days when human sacrifices were offered to it in
a barbarian land.

Footnote 43:

  Translated by Gilbert Murray.

The brutality in the training of Spartan youth has bulked so large in
tradition that local associations with it perhaps impress the traveller
more sharply than any others. In the southwestern region of the town,
near the large ruins of a Roman bath, lay, it is thought, the Dromos or
race course, and the Platanistas or Plane-tree Grove, surrounded by a
moat and entered by two bridges, where the boys, as a part of their
education, fought very savage battles. This grove is an excellent
illustration of the danger of claiming too much for the influence on the
mind of external forms. Plato held that even the shapes of trees might
influence the spirit of those who walked among them, and Walter Pater,
in his study of Lacedæmon, compresses the idea into a definite
application by describing the plane tree, the characteristic tree of
Sparta, as “a very tranquil and tranquillizing object, regally spreading
its level or gravely curved masses on the air.” Yet within a circle of
these tranquillizing objects Cicero, and later Lucian and Pausanias, saw
the Spartan boys fighting with incredible fury, kicking, scratching,
biting, and dying rather than confess themselves beaten.

In literature as well as in the plastic arts the Spartans failed to
express themselves. Only four poets of any widespread fame had their
homes in Sparta, and no one of these was a native born. Significantly,
too, they all lived at least as early as the seventh century, at the
only period when Spartan life showed any pliability. Individual freedom
was not wholly repressed, and an acknowledgment of the graces of life
was at times permitted. Only under these conditions could art live at
all, and poetry outran sculpture in permanent achievement. This was,
perhaps, due to its immediate connection with music (including dancing),
the only art which the later Spartans, although they did not give it a
place in their educational curriculum, seem to have appreciated.

According to tradition, Sparta’s poets all came to her in response to a
call for foreign aid in her domestic broils. Terpander of Lesbos and
Thaletas of Crete successively founded two musical epochs in a city that
was intent upon controlling its serfs and developing its soil.
Terpander’s service was almost incalculable, for he modified the
existing lyre into an instrument which was universally used until the
fifth century and which gave the first great impulse to vocal music. But
“the strings he fingered are all gone,” and of the verses that he wrote
we have only a few fragments to recall his life in Sparta, his
invocations at public festivals of Apollo, the chief god of the city,
and of Castor and Polydeuces, the city’s heroes, and his praise of the
city herself:—

           “Bursts into bloom there the warrior’s ardour,
             Clear lifts the note of the shrill-voicèd Muse.
           Justice walks down the wide highways as Warder,
             Ever their Helper glory to choose.”

Thaletas, coming from an island where the dance had been important from
prehistoric times, and finding in Sparta the same friendly atmosphere of
open Dorian life, introduced the festival of the Gymnopædia, in which
boys displayed the perfected beauty of their naked bodies in athletic
dances and, by means of formal songs in unison, began the “choral
lyric.” This poetic form, passing far beyond its birthplace, became
everywhere in Greece the chief expression of public worship of gods and
heroes and stimulated the powers of such poets as Simonides and Pindar
and Bacchylides. Thaletas was lost sight of in his greater successor
Alcman, who not only was credited with the creation as well as with the
cultivation of the choral lyric, but also was adjudged so successful in
all his work that Alexandrian scholars included him in their canon of
the melic poets, with Pindar and Sappho.

Terpander and Thaletas are little more than names, familiar only to
those who study origins. Alcman and Tyrtæus, the poet of the Messenian
War, are representatives of the vital poetry which Sparta cherished in
her supple youth before her ideals had matured and her life had
irreparably settled into its narrow grooves. Tyrtæus was probably an
Athenian, even if it is mere legend that he was a lame schoolmaster sent
by Athens in derision when Sparta appealed for help in the second
Messenian War. Alcman was born in Sardis, though probably of Hellenic
blood. If our traditional dates are correct, some years at least of
their lives must have coincided. Their poetry in general represented
different modes, Tyrtæus being the earliest master, outside of Ionia, of
the flute-accompanied elegiac distich, the lusty heir of the Homeric
hexameter, while Alcman established many of the more delicate measures
permitted by the versatile lyre. Their poetic purposes, however, were
influenced in common by the Dorian atmosphere in which they lived.

In Tyrtæus this showed itself in the creation of martial verse, which
seems to have been powerfully influential in arousing into active
service, at a time of need, the courage and the perseverance ingrained
in the Doric character. But his own racial gift made it impossible that
his poetry should be confined to one country. In all parts of Greece,
through many centuries, it expressed the ideal of courage. One of his
anapæstic songs, intended to be sung by Spartan soldiers as they marched
to battle, has been called the Marseillaise of Greece. A fragment of it
still stirs the blood:—

                  “Up! youths of the Spartan nobles,
                  Ye citizen sons of the elders!
                  With the left hold out your targes,
                  And fling your spears with boldness.
                  Spare not your lives. To spare them
                  Was never known in Sparta.”

The Dorian element that appealed to Alcman was the publicity of the
daily life. Men lived in common, ate at large public tables, trained
their children in groups, and believed always in the sacrifice of the
individual to the necessities of the state. Hence they took kindly to
public festivals where choruses of men and women, boys and girls could
sing hymns that gave expression to common and national sentiments. These
hymns Alcman wrote in great numbers. Especially famous and never
displaced by later poets were his partheneia, written for the choruses
of Spartan maidens whose share in the athletic training of their
brothers made them the most beautiful in Greece. Travellers in Sparta
who look at the lifeless ruins of the Temple of Artemis will rejoice
that among the broken fragments of Alcman’s poetry exist seven complete
strophes of a partheneion which probably was sung before the temple at
one of the festivals of the goddess. Helen as a child had danced at such
a festival, and doubtless many a girl in Alcman’s chorus was pointed out
by the surrounding crowd as her fit successor. In his vigour the poet
must often himself have led the dances of these tall, straight maidens.
In his old age, too stiff to keep pace with their lithe movements, he
added to a song he wrote for them “des images aimables” of gallant

 “Nay, now no longer, ye sweet-voicèd maidens, lovely in singing,
 Can my limbs bear me. Would God, would to God, that a halcyon were I
 Who with his married mates over the flowering meadows of Ocean
 Fluttereth, heart-free of trouble, the sea-purple bird of the

Verses like these betray an un-Dorian element in Alcman’s genius which
came from his Æolian ancestry. It crept into his choral lyrics and
claimed its own in his lighter verses. Love and feasting and Bacchic joy
furnished him with subjects. No other set of lyric fragments contains so
many traces of the consciousness of natural beauties. If all his poetry
were preserved, it would not surprise us to find in it a complete and
sensitive response to the extraordinary loveliness amid which he lived.
We know already that by night in the valley of the Eurotas he watched
sleep descend upon the crests and crags of Taygetus and the waiting
earth,[44] was aware of the dew of moonlit evenings and the songs of
birds, and felt the charms of the alternating seasons, especially the
invigorating bloom of spring.

Footnote 44:

  For this fragment see chapter i, p. 22.

After the seventh century Sparta entered the Greek world with an
offering that excluded art and the consciousness of external beauty.
This was her mode of life, dedicated to one austere end. The citizens of
Sparta were a small body of men, of pure Dorian blood, freed from the
cares of self-support by the serfs or helots who were descendants of the
original possessors of the soil they tilled. The whole time of the
masters could be devoted to the state, and the pivotal demand of the
state was for strong, brave and skilful soldiers. All life was a vast
system of education directed toward the end of military efficiency. This
explains each one of their customs: the exposure of sickly infants on
the slopes of Mount Taygetus; the savage training of their boys and the
severe training of their girls, who were to be the mothers of soldiers;
the repression of personal luxury, the equalizing of rich and poor, the
detailed elimination of individual pursuits. Conservatism was the breath
of their life. Their institutions were of very ancient origin, although
Lycurgus is now regarded as merely a legendary designer, and, once in
possession of their imaginations, could not be shaken off or essentially
modified. At the crucial period following the Peloponnesian War their
inability to use new conditions played havoc with their political
opportunities. Exclusiveness and reserve were corollaries of their
single purpose. Indifference to the arts of peace was inevitable in a
nation consecrated to preparation for war.

The spectacle presented by the Spartans never failed to excite the
lively interest of the other Greeks. Men as diverse as Xenophon and
Aristotle wrote about their institutions, and popular judgments were
always in evidence. An opinion which was probably held by many just
before the Peloponnesian War is contained in Thucydides’s rehearsal of a
speech made in Sparta by a Corinthian delegate to the conference which
the allies had forced upon her. Impatiently he tells the Spartans that
they do not know how utterly unlike them the Athenians are:—

“They are revolutionary and swift to plan and to execute whatever they
conceive, but you are all for conserving the existing state of things,
inventing no new policy and in action not even coming up to what
necessity demands. Again, they are daring beyond their strength and run
risks contrary to their judgment, and in the midst of terrors they are
full of hope. Whereas your way is to act within your strength, to have
confidence not even in your best secured plans and, when terrors
threaten, to think that you will never be set free from them. Nay, they
are energetic and you are laggards; they go abroad while you cling to

The Spartan king, Archidamus, justified his nation in a speech made in a
private session:—

“We have ever dwelt in a free and most illustrious state, and this
policy of conservative self-control may well be equivalent to sound
reason. We have become good warriors and wise in counsel by our careful
discipline; good warriors, because self-control best quickens the sense
of honour, and from this noble sense of shame springs courage; wise in
counsel, because we are too unlettered to be superior to the laws, too
severely self-controlled to disobey them.”

A generation earlier Herodotus had paid his tribute to the Spartan
loyalty to law in his story of the conversation between Xerxes,
meditating his attack on Greece, and Demaratus, the ruined Spartan king
who had fled to the court of Darius. Want, the exile tells the monarch,
had always been a fellow-dweller in his land, but courage was an ally
they had gained by wisdom and laws. “The Lacedæmonians even when
fighting man for man are inferior to none, but in a body they are the
best of all. For although they are free they are not wholly free, for
over them there is a master, Law, whom they fear far more than thine
fear thee. At any rate, they always do his bidding.” And that the
Athenians, with their reverence for law, were by no means unwilling to
attribute to the law-abiding Spartans a love of liberty as passionate as
their own is seen in another story of Herodotus. Two young nobles
volunteered to go to Xerxes and offer their lives in atonement for the
murder of his father’s heralds. On their way to Persia they were
entertained by the governor Hydarnes, who, calling attention to his own
prosperity, urged them to make their submission to the king. “Hydarnes,”
they answered, “thy advice to us is one-sided. Thou hast tried the one
side, but art inexperienced in the other. For thou knowest how to be a
slave, but liberty thou hast not tried as yet, whether it be sweet or
no. Shouldst thou taste it, thou wouldst urge us to fight for it not
only with the spear but also with the battle-axe.”

One base alloy historians and poets alike found in the character of the
Spartans. This was their corruptibility, their sordid greed of gain, as
Aristophanes called it when angered by their rejection of peace. To the
same political period belong savage attacks of Euripides on Spartan
treachery and dishonesty. He also takes occasion to question the
chastity of the daughters of Sparta:—

      “No Spartan maiden, even wishing it, were chaste!
      Not they. Their homes deserting, with their chitons slit
      Along the thigh, with robes loose-girdled, they with youths
      Share in the foot-race and—a thing I can’t endure—
      In wrestling bouts.”

Probably this exactly expressed the sentiment of the average Athenian
theatre-goer, accustomed to identify the virtue of women with their
obedience to conventional restrictions, which men in the fifth century
insisted upon as well as the husband in Menander’s play:—

         “You’re overstepping, wife, a married woman’s bounds,
         The front door passing; for to ladies of good birth
         The house door is the limit by convention set.
         This chasing and this running out into the street,
         Your billingsgate still snapping, Rhode, is for dogs!”

Men possessed of these ideas could not appreciate that in Sparta, in the
great periods, freedom and sobriety went hand in hand. Aristotle, in his
arraignment of the license and luxury of the Spartan women as one of the
defects of the Spartan system, may have been dealing with some special
facts of his own day. In the fourth century Sparta had in certain ways

But this deterioration could not do more than blur the outlines of a
system of life which for three centuries had stood before the world, a
“whole serene creation.” Comic writers might show up the boorishness of
the unlearned Spartans, and irritable tragic poets might vent their
spleen on their country’s enemy, but in the end Spartan institutions had
to be respected and admired. Indeed, many Athenians affected a special
predilection for qualities unlike their own and “laconized” in dress,
manner, and speech. Philosophy flourished in Sparta, Plato tells us, and
with it a rare skill in conversation. The typical Spartan, after
pretending that he could not talk, would throw into the discussion,
“like a clever javelin-thrower,” a remark “worth listening to, brief,

Thinkers as well as Laconomaniacs displayed enthusiasm for Spartan
ideas. Aristotle, to be sure, while praising the love of education among
the Lacedæmonians, deplored their absorption in one object and also
complained that they preferred the good they gained to the virtue by
means of which they gained it. But, true as this may be, the nobility of
the effort, the flawless harmony of details, the perfect adjustment of
the system to the use for which it was intended, resulted in a product
as truly Greek as is a Doric temple or an Attic trilogy. It is not
strange that its apotheosis is found in the ideal state of the great
visionary of Athens. Plato’s “Republic” is Sparta idealized and
interpreted by an Athenian.

A state combining the character of the Dorians and the genius of the
Ionians history has failed to produce. Isocrates cherished a hope that
Athens and Sparta might divide the headship of a gloriously united
Greece. After Chæronea he was even far-sighted enough to plead for the
willing union of Hellas under Philip of Macedon. Hopes like these proved
either futile or too mean. But his pride in the spiritual achievements
of his own city has been approved by Time, “the Inspector-General of
men’s deeds.” The institutions of Sparta like every other product of the
Greek mind went into the crucible of Athens. And this city, triumphing
beyond the orator’s boast, “has caused the name of Hellene to seem to be
matter no longer of birth but of intellect, and has made them bear it
whose claim is that of culture rather than of origins.”


           Usually only the first line of citations is noted.

CHAPTER I. =Page 2= (third paragraph) Cf. Curtius, _Greek History_, I,
p. 23 and _passim_. Plato, _Timæus_, 22 B. =3= Quotation from Curtius,
_Greek History_, I, p. 32. =5= Hatzidakis, _Neugriechische Grammatik_,
p. 4. =9= Quotation from Tozer, _Geography of Greece_, p. 44. Cf.
_passim_. =10-12= Æschylus, _Agamemnon_, 281. =17-18= Æschylus,
_Agamemnon_, 454. =19= Homer, _Odyssey_, VI, 130; V, 51; _Iliad_, VIII,
553. =20= Homer, _Odyssey_, VI, 162. Pindar, _Olymp._, II, 70. =21=
Pindar, _Olymp._, VI, 54. =22= Æschylus, _Agamemnon_, 1390. =23=
Æschylus, _Agamemnon_, 563; _Prometheus_, I, 88. =24= Sophocles,
_Philoctetes_, 936; _Œdipus Tyrannus_, 204. =25= Aristophanes, _Clouds_,
275. =26= Aristophanes, _Peace_, 571. Æschylus, _Agamemnon_, 142.
Euripides, _Hippolytus_, 70. =27= Euripides, _Trojan Women_, 845;
_Bacchæ_, 1084. Plato, _Phædrus_, 229, 230. =28= _Greek Anthology_,
Pal., VII, 669. Very probably by Plato; App. Plan., 13, attributed to
Plato, but probably of later date. Theocritus, _Idyl_, VII, 134.

CHAPTER II. =Page 37= Thucydides, VI, 30. =38= Æschylus, _Agamemnon_,
763; 433. =39= Lucian, _When My Ship Comes In_ (_Navigium_), 5. =43=
Æschylus, _Suppliants_, 715. =44= Isocrates, _Areopagiticus_, 66. =45=
Plato, _Symposium_, 173 B. Lucian, _Navigium_, 35. =46= Xenophon,
_Hellenica_, II, 4, 11. =47-48= Lysias, _Against Eratosthenes_, 4. =49=
Menander, _Fragments_. =50= Plato, _Republic_, 439, E. 54 _Greek
Anthology_, Pal., VII, 639.

CHAPTER III. =Page 57= Euripides: _Suppliants_, 403-408. Jebb, _Modern
Greece_, p. 70. =59= Isocrates, _Panegyricus_, 23, 24. =62= Ælian, _apud
Stob. Serm._, XXIV, 53. For Solon’s apothegm cf. Herodotus, I, 32;
Æschylus, _Agamemnon_, 928. =63= “The Guardian,” cf. Lucian: _The
Fisher_, 21. =64= Plutarch, _Life of Solon_ (end). =66= Euripides,
_Trojan Women_, 801. =67= G. Murray, _Rise of the Greek Epic_, p. 173.
=68= Homer, _Iliad_, II, 557-558. Lucian, _True History_, II, 20. =69=
Dyer, _The Gods in Greece_, p. 125. See Gardner and Jevons, _Greek
Antiquities_, p. 296. =72= Æschylus, _Persians_, 241-242. Herodotus,
VII, 105. =73= Lucian, _Twice Accused_, 11.

CHAPTER IV. =Page 74= Plato, _Republic_, 532, C. Howe, _Greek
Revolution_ (1828), p. 340. =76= Plato, _Phædrus_, 279 B. =78= Cf.
Gardner, _Ancient Athens_, p. 256. =80= Bayard Taylor, _Travels in
Greece and Russia_ (1859), p. 39. =81= Homer, _Iliad_, II, 546-551. =82=
Homer, _Odyssey_, VII, 78. Herodotus, VI, 137. =83= Herodotus, VIII, 41;
55. Aristophanes, _Lysistrata_, 758. =84= Aristophanes, _Birds_, 828.
=85= Demosthenes, 597, 8. Aristophanes, _Knights_, 1321. =85-86=
Aristophanes, _Lysistrata_, 256, 641. =88= Plutarch, _Life of Pericles_,
13. Lucian, _The Fisher_, 39.

CHAPTER V. =Page 91= Thucydides, II, 64. =92= Æschylus, _Persians_, 347.
Euripides, _Medea_, 826. Demosthenes, _Olynthiac_, III, 25, 29. =103=
Second paragraph, cf. Lucian, _Cock_, 26. =104= Æschylus, _Eumenides_,
328. =105= Æschylus, _Eumenides_, 778; and 1032. =106= Cf. J. I. Manatt,
_The Pauline Areopagus, Andover Rev._, 1892. =107= Plato, _Phædo_, 114,
C. ff. Pindar, _Olymp._, II. =108= Plato, _Apology_, 41, C.
Aristophanes, _Wasps_, 31 ff. =109= Plato, _Republic_, 514. See note on
p. 129 of J. Harrison’s _Primitive Athens_, and cf. J. H. Wright, _Harv.
Stud. Class. Phil._, 1906, pp. 131-142. See also below, chap, vii, p.
164. Barathrum. See Aristophanes, _Frogs_, 574; Herodotus, VII, 133;
Plato, _Gorgias_, 516, E. =110= Cf. Gardner, _Ancient Athens_, p. 127;
Plato, _Apology_, 36, D; Plutarch, _Aristides_, 27. =110-111=
Aristophanes, _Peace_, 1183; _Birds_, 450. =111= Bacchylides,
_Fragments_. Lysias, _Or._ XXIV, 20. =112= Aristophanes, _passim_, and
_Birds_, 1080-1081. Menander, _Fragments_. =114= Æschylus, _Seven
Against Thebes_, 854. =115= Thucydides, II, 34. =115-116= Thucydides,
II, 52, 54; Sophocles, _Œdipus Tyrannus_, 171. =117= Aristophanes,
_Clouds_, 17, 18 & 56; _Wasps_, 246. =118= Demosthenes, _Against Conon_,
9. =120= Lucian, _Icaromenippus_, 16. Aristophanes, _Birds_, 1421;
_Wasps_, 835. =123= _Homeric Hymn to Dionysus_, 51. Bacchylides, XIX, 5.
=123-124= Pindar, _Fragments_. Aristophanes, _Acharnians_, 636.
Euripides, _Medea_, 824. =125= Plato, _Phædrus_, 247, A; _Republic_,
592, A, B.

CHAPTER VI. =Page 127= Pindar, _Olymp._, VI, 1. Aristophanes, _Wasps_,
600. Homer, _Odyssey_, XV, 459. =128= Aristophanes, _Frogs_, 171. =129=
Homer, _Iliad_, XI, 558. =130= Euripides, _Alcestis_, 252, 433, 575.
Homer, _Odyssey_, XIII, 221. =131= _Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite_.
Euripides (?), _Rhesus_, 546. Homer, _Iliad_, III, 10; VIII, 555; III,
198. Homer, _Odyssey_, XI, 444. Aristophanes, _Wasps_, 179. =133= Homer,
_Iliad_, XVIII, 414. Plato, _Republic_, III, 404. =134= Homer,
_Odyssey_, XVII, 205. Homer, _Iliad_, XXII, 147. Homer, _Odyssey_, VI,
70; VII, 19. _Homeric Hymn to Demeter_, 105. =135= Euripides, _Electra_,
54. =136= Aristophanes, _Thesmophoriazusæ_, I. =139= Plato, Laws, 653.
=140= Sophocles, _Œdipus Tyrannus_, 1489. Aristophanes,
_Thesmophoriazusæ_. Menander, _Epitrepontes_. Plato, _Lysis_.

CHAPTER VII. =Page 144= Aristophanes, _Clouds_, 300. Aristophanes,
_Frogs_, 1056. Plato, _Critias_, 112. =145= Theophrastus, _De Signis
Tempestatum_, I, 20, 24. Aristophanes, _Clouds_, 299-313; and see chap,
i, p. 25. =146-147= Sophocles, _Œdipus Coloneus_, 668-687; 16-18;
694-701. =147= Cf. chap. iii, p. 65. =148= Plato, _Phædo_, 115, C.
Antipater, _Anth. Græca_, ed. ab De Bosch, Lib. III, Tit. xxxii. =149=
Xenophon, _Hellenica_, II, 4, 2-4. =150= Simmias, _Anth. Pal._, VII, 22.
=151= Aristophanes, _Acharnians_, 34-36; 179; 257-263; 325-348. =152=
Menander. Parts of four comedies of Menander were found in Egypt 1905,
published 1907 (Lefebvre). For translation of this scene _see_ N. Y.
_Nation_, p. 266, Mar. 19, 1908. =154= Æschylus, _Seven against Thebes_,
587. =156= Plato, _Republic_, 451, A; Pindar, _Pyth._, X, 41-44.
Dioscorides, _Anth. Pal._, VII, 410. =158= Demosthenes, _De Corona_,
208. =159= Epitaph of Æschylus. _See_ Vita Æschyli, Medicean MS.
Cynosarges Gymnasium. The site is now put somewhere near the present
American and British Schools. Cf. Gardner, _Anc. Ath._, 528. =160=
Herodotus, VI, 120. =161= Æschylus, _Persians_, 238. Plutarch,
_Lysander_, XVI. =162= Lysias, XXI, 5. Aristophanes, _Knights_, 550-560.
=163= Homer, _Odyssey_, III, 278. Sophocles, _Ajax_, 1216 ff. Herod.,
VI, 115. Plato, _Crito_, 43, and _Phædo_, 58, B. =164= Zoster:
Herodotus, VIII, 107. Vari: cf. Frazer on _Paus._, I, xxxii, and see
note on chap. v, p. 109. Solon: cf. chap. iii, p. 58. =165= Demosthenes,
_De Falsa Legatione_, 251. =166-168= Æschylus, _Persians_, 447-449; 386
_passim_ to 421; 274-277; 821-822; 923; _Agamemnon_, 658-660. =169=
Timotheus, _Persæ_, 105. Plutarch, _Aristides_, X.

CHAPTER VIII. =Page 174= Euripides, _Suppliants_, 30. =175= Euripides,
_Helena_, 1301. =176= Strabo, X, 3, 9. =178= Sophocles, _Œdipus
Coloneus_, 1146. Euripides, _Ion_, 1078. Herodotus, VIII, 65. =179=
Aristophanes, _Frogs_, 341. =180= Aristotle, fragment, quoted by
Synesius. =181= Pindar, fragment. Sophocles, fragment. Euripides,
_Hercules_ _Furens_, 613. Isocrates, _Panegyricus_, 28. Aristophanes,
_Frogs_, 455. =182= Andocides, _On the Mysteries_, 31. Plato, _Phædrus_,
251 A. =183= Alcman (probably). =184= Aristophanes, _Frogs_, 338, 397.
=185= Plato, _Phædo_, 69 C.

CHAPTER IX. =Page 186= Pindar, _Pyth._, VIII, 21. Plutarch, _Life of
Pericles_, 156. =187= Lucian, _Navigium_, 15. Thucydides, VI, 32. =189=
Pindar, _Nem._, VII, 78. Bacchylides, _Epinician Odes_, 13. =190=
Pindar, _Isth._, IV, 23; VII, 16; IV, 49; V, 23. Pindar, _Nem._, V, 23.
=191= Pindar, _Pyth._, VIII, 92.

CHAPTER X. =Page 192= Herodotus, I, 5. =193= Pindar, _Olymp._, XIII, 65.
=194= Homer, _Iliad_, IX, 529. Bacchylides, _Epinician Odes_, 5.
Euripides, _Meleager_ (not extant). Lucian, _Life’s-end of Peregrinus_,
30. =196= Æschylus, _Choëphoroi_, 602. =197= Theognis, 667, 825, 1197.
=198= Thucydides, I, 140. Aristophanes, _Acharnians_, 509. Isocrates,
_De Pace_, 117. =199= _Greek Anthology_, Pal., VII, 496. =200= Lucian,
_Marine Dialogues_, 9. Euripides, _Medea_, 1282. =201= _Greek
Anthology_, Pal., VI, 349; VI, 223. Aristotle, _Politics_, 1327 a, 1330
b. Bacchylides, Fragment. =202= Homer, _Iliad_, II, 570. =203= Pindar,
_Olymp._, XIII, 4. Aristophanes, _Frogs_, 439. Homer, _Odyssey_, XI,
593. =204= Homer, _Iliad_, VI, 144. Pindar, _Olymp._, XIII, 63. =205=
Plato, _Republic_, IX, 579 E. =208= Herodotus, I, 24. =210= Pindar,
_Olymp._, XIII, 6. =211= _Greek Anthology_, Pal., IX, 151. =213=
Plutarch, _On Garrulity_, XIV. Lucian, _How to Write History_, 3. =215=
Euripides, _Trojan Women_, 205. =216= Thucydides, VIII, 7.

CHAPTER XI. =Page 218= Euripides, _Andromache_, 1085. Pindar, _Pyth._,
VIII, 61. =219= Homer, _Odyssey_, VIII, 79. Æschylus, _Prometheus_, 679.
Sophocles, _Œdipus Tyr._, 70; _Œdipus Col._, 84. =220= Homer, _Odyssey_,
IV, 1. Æschylus, _Persians_, 568. Æschylus, _Prometheus_, 680.
Herodotus, _passim_. =221= Aristophanes, _Knights_, 1007. =222=
Herodotus, VII, 139. Sophocles, _Œdipus Tyr._, 711. =224= Æschines,
_Against Ctesiphon_, 115. =227= Homer, _Iliad_, I, 44. Pindar, _Pyth._,
I, 1. =228= Himerius, quoted in Wharton’s _Sappho_, p. 165. Æschylus,
_Eumenides_, 13. Plato, _Protagoras_, 343. =230= Æschylus, _Eumenides_,
23, 1. Euripides, _Iphigeneia in Tauris_, 1234. =232= Homer, _Odyssey_,
XIX, 392. Euripides, _Ion_, 82. =234= Strabo, IX, 3. =237= Euripides,
_Andromache_, 1085. Pindar, _Pyth._, IV, 4. Demosthenes, _Philippics_,
III. =240= Plato, _Republic_, =X=, 616. =243= Pindar, _Pyth._, III, 75.
=244= Herodotus, VIII, 35. =248= Cf. Myers, _Pindar_, p. 10. =249=
Pindar, _Olymp._, XII, 5.

CHAPTER XII. =Page 250= Sophocles, _Œdipus Tyr._, 1398. =251=
Aristophanes, _Thesmophoriazusæ_, 1180. =252= Herodotus, VIII, 37. =259=
Sophocles, _Œdipus Tyr._, 800. =260= Æschylus, _Agamemnon_, 1111. Homer,
_Odyssey_, XIX, 518. =261= Homer, _Odyssey_, XI, 576. =262= Demosthenes,
_On the Crown_, 218. =265= _Greek Anthology_, Pal., VII, 245.

CHAPTER XIII. =Page 266= Pindar, _Isth._, VI, 1. =267= Plutarch, _On the
Malice of Herodotus_. Homer, _Iliad_, =IV=, 384; II, 495. _Homeric
Hymns_ to Apollo and Hermes. =268= Æschylus, _Seven Against Thebes_,
296. Sophocles, _Antigone_, 1124. Euripides, _Bacchæ_, _passim_. =271=
Pindar, _Olymp._, VI, 89. =275= Pindar, _Pyth._, III, 87; _Isth._, I, 1;
_Nem._, I, 33. =276= Sophocles, _Trachiniæ_. Sophocles, _Antigone_,
1148; Euripides, _Bacchæ_, _passim_. =277= Euripides, _Bacchæ_, 233.
=278= Aristophanes, _Thesmophoriazusæ_, 990. =279= Euripides, _Bacchæ_,
64, 105, 677. =281= Sophocles, _Œdipus Tyr._, 1026. =283= Sophocles,
_Œdipus Tyr._, 1186, 1524. =284= Æschylus, _Seven Against Thebes_, 524,
686. =286= Euripides, _Phoinissæ_, 1009. Sophocles, _Antigone_, 450.
=287= Sophocles, _Œdipus Tyr._, 867. Sophocles, _Antigone_, 781, 800.
=288= Pindar, _Isth._, VII, 5. =291= Pindar, _Isth._, VII, 5. Plutarch,
_Apothegms_. =293= Pindar, _Pyth._, III, 79. =295= Plutarch,

CHAPTER XIV. =Page 296= Hesiod, _Theogony_, I. Plato, _Symposium_, 221
A. =297= Pindar, _Pyth._, I, 78. Æschylus, _Persians_, 484. Herodotus,
IX, 16. =298= Herodotus, IX, 25. =299= Pindar, _Pyth._, I, 77. Æschylus,
_Persians_, 813. Simonides, _Greek Anthology_, Pal., VII, 253, 251.
=300= Thucydides, III, 53. =301= Plutarch, _On the decay of oracles_.
_On the dæmon of Socrates_. A friend of Plutarch, not Plutarch himself,
visited the oracle of Trophonius. =302= Pindar, _Olymp._, XIV, 1. =304=
Cicero, _Against Verres_, IV, 2, 59. =307= Plato, _Republic_, X, 611.
Homer, _Iliad_, II, 303. =308= Euripides, _Iphigeneia in Aulis_, 1386.
Æschylus, _Agamemnon_, 220. =309= Æschylus, _Agamemnon_, 181. =310=
Hesiod, _Works and Days_, 640. =311= Cf. Symonds’ _Greek Poets_, I,
chap. 5. =314= Plutarch, _Life of Aristides_, 21.

CHAPTER XV. =Page 316= _Iliad_, I, 156. =317-322= Herodotus, VII,
210-233. =318= Cf. Pausanias, I, 4, 1-4; X, xix-xxiii.

CHAPTER XVI. =Page 323= Alpheus of Mitylene, _Anth. Pal._, IX, 101;
sometimes attributed to Antipater of Thessalonica. =330= Herodotus, I,
1. =331= Lucian, _Charon_, 23. =332= Pausanias, II, 15, with Frazer’s
notes. =333= Pindar, _Nemean_, X, 28; VI, 12. =335= Thucydides, I, 9;
_Iliad_, II, 108. Euripides, _Iphigeneia in Aul._, 1498. _Iphigeneia in
T._, 845-846. =336-343= Æschylus, _Agamemnon_, 40-47; 320; 154; 334-337;
818-820; 905-911; 947; 958-962; _passim_, 973; 1327-1330; 1379-1387;
1548-1559; 577-579. =341= Cf. Browning’s _Agamemnon_ for several
phrases. =342= Euripides, _Electra_, 54; 77. Æschylus, _Choëph._ 1061.
=343= _Iliad_, IV, 52. Pythagoras: Horace, _Od._, I, 28, 11. Iamblichus,
_Life of Pythag._, 63, and see Lucian, _Cock_, 16, 17. Herodotus, I, 31.
=344= Æschylus, _Suppliants_, 954-956. =345= Æschylus, _Prometheus_,
854-869. =346= Lucian, _Marine Dialogues_, 6. =347= Herodotus, I, 82;
Lucian, _Charon_, 24. =348= Euripides, _Orestes_, 53-55. =349-350=
Lucian, _Marine Dialogues_, 12. Euripides, _Trojan Women_, 1081-1088.
=352= Isyllus, cf. Smyth, _Melic Poets_, p. 528. =355= Strabo, VII, cap.
6, 12. =356= Lucian, _Cataplus_, 18. Plutarch, _Life of Demosthenes_,

CHAPTER XVII. =Page 358= Pindar, _Olymp._, III, 27. Homer, _Iliad_, II,
612. =360= Homer, _Iliad_, II, 607. =361= Polybius, XXIV, 15. =365=
_Greek Anthology_, App. Plan., 188. =366= Herodotus, VIII, 26. =371=
_Greek Anthology_, Pal., IX, 314; App. Plan. 188. =374= Xenophon,
_Anabasis_, 5, 3, 10. Homer, _Odyssey_, V, 272. =377= Hesiod,
_Theogony_, 775. =380= Pindar, _Olymp._, VI, 100. _Homeric Hymn to Pan_,
30. Homer, _Odyssey_, III, 497. =381= Sappho; Homer. See chap. i, 19,
21. =385= Æschylus, _Agamemnon_, 519.

CHAPTER XVIII. =Page 388= Pindar, _Olymp._, III, 19. =390= Lucian,
_Marine Dialog._, 3. Strabo, VI, cap. 2, 4. =391= Antigonus Carystus,
_Historia Mirab._, 140 (155). =392= Xenophon, _Anabasis_, IV, viii, 26.
=397= _Odyssey_, V, 79; Lucian, _Jupiter as Tragedian_, 10, 11. =403=
Lucian, _Herodotus_, I. Herodotus, VIII, 26. =408= Lucian, _Council of
the Gods_, 12. Pindar, _Olymp._, II, 51. =410= Herodotus, VI, 103. =411=
Pindar, _Olymp._, I, 18. Bacchylides, V, 37-45, and 178-186. =412=
Pindar, _Olymp._, I, 86. =413= Pindar, _Olymp._, I, 28. =415= Æschylus,
_Agamemnon_, 341. =416= Pindar, _Olymp._, IV, 1; VI, 75; VI, 91. =417=
Pindar, _Olymp._, XIII, 92; III, 44; XI (X), 45. =418= Pindar, _Olymp._,
XI (X), 72; 73-76; XIV, 20. =419= Pindar, _Olymp._, VII. =420= Plato,
_Republic_, 621, C, D. =421= Bacchylides, VI. =423= Æschylus,
_Prometheus_, 95.

CHAPTER XIX. =Page 425= Homer, _Odyssey_, III, 491. =429= Thucydides,
IV, 40.

CHAPTER XX. =Page 431= Homer, _Odyssey_, IV, 1. =432= Pindar, fragment.
Sophocles, _Ajax_, 8. Homer, _Odyssey_, IV, 603. Euripides, _Helen_,
348; _Iphigeneia in Tauris_, 132. =433-434= Homer, _Odyssey_, IV.
Herodotus, VI, 61. =436= Æschylus, _Agamemnon_, 650. =437= Thucydides,
I, 10. Polybius, V, 22. =440= Lucian, _Anacharsis_, 38. Cicero,
_Tusculan Disputations_, 5, 27. =446= Thucydides, I, 70. =447=
Herodotus, VII, 104, 135. =448= Euripides, _Andromache_, 595. =449=
Plato, _Protagoras_, 342. =450= Aristotle, _Politics_, 1271 B.
Isocrates, _Letter to Philip_; _Panegyricus_, 51.

NOTE on =pages 154-5= ‘Euripus.’ Strictly speaking, this applies only to
the narrower channel between Aulis and Chalkis. Also used of the whole
southern channel: see Bury’s and Frazer’s Maps of Attica. [Blank Page]


 Acarnania, 13, 193, 321.

 Achæa, 13, 194, 326, 373, 435.

 Achæans, 14, 324.

 Acharnae, 148, 150 ff.

 Acrocorinth, 8, 212, 214;
   view from, 202.

 Acropolis, see under _Athens_.

 Ægaleus, Mt., 149, 164, 173, 177.

 Ægean, 1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 13, 17, 57, 325, 353.

 Ægina, 144, 162, =186-91=.

 Ægospotami, 101, 102.

 Æmilius Paulus, 235.

 Æolians, 328;
   in Bœotia, 310.

 Æschines, place in literature, 97;
   cited, 224.

 Æschylus, at Delphi, 237;
   at Eleusis, 181;
   at Marathon, 158-9;
   character of, 125;
   competition with, 328;
   influence of, 104, 415;
   place in literature, 95;
   treatment of nature, 22;
   youth of, 70 ff.;
   cited, 10, 11, 38, 43, 64, 72, 83-4, 91, 104, 154, 155, 159, 161,
      166, 167, 168, 196, 230, 246, 268, 283-5, 292, 297, 299, 308, 309,
      336, 342, 344, 385, 415, 436.

 Ætolia, 13, 193.

 Africa, 220, 239.

 Akte, of Argolis, 330, 351;
   of Piræus, 36, 42, 55.

 Alcibiades, at Delium, 296;
   influence of, 101;
   parody of Mysteries, 176;
   picture of, 77;
   Sicilian expedition, 37.

 Alcman, 442 ff.;
   cited, 18, 22, 182, 444-5.

 Alexander, at Chæronea, 262;
   at Isthmus, 217;
   at Olympia, 391;
   death of, 3;
   empire of, 99;
   statue at Olympia, 402.

 Alexandrian period, 4.

 Alphēus, god and river, 231, 328, 369, 375, 379, 381, =388-91=, 404.

 Altis, at Marathon, 158;
   at Olympia, 388, 395, =402-5=.

 Amorgos, 7.

 Amphiaraus, sanctuary of, 153-4.

 Amphictyony, Delphic, 224, 238.

 Amphissa, 223.

 Amyclæ, 434.

 Anacapri, 2.

 Anacreon, 70.

 Anaxagoras, 96.

 Andocides, place in literature, 96;
   cited, 181.

 Andritsena, 378, 381-2.

 Andros, 7.

 Anthedon, 306-7.

 Anthesteria, 141.

 Anthology, Greek, 4-5;
   cited, 28, 54, 147, 150, 156, 171, 201, 211, 265, 299, 300, 323, 371,

 Antiphon, 96.

 Antisthenes, 99.

 Antoninus Pius, 364.

 Aphæa, temple of, 188.

 Aphrodite, 397, 434;
   at Piræus, 54;
   on Mt. Ida, 131;
   of Melos, 5.

 Apollo, at Olympia, 397;
   at Ptoön, 301;
   Delphic legends, 230 ff.;
   god of prophecy, 218 ff.;
   Hymn to, 231;
   in _Alcestis_, 130;
   in _Eumenides_, 105 ff.;
   in _Hymn to Hermes_, 368 ff.;
   significance at Delphi, 246 ff.;
   statue at Olympia, 399, 400;
   — at Sparta, 441;
   summer festival of, 136;
   temple at Bassæ, 382 ff.;
   — at Corinth, 202, 203, 207, 213;
   — at Delphi, 237-8;
   — on Sacred Way, 178;
   — at Thebes, 282, 292;
   — in Vale of Tempe, 245.

 Appian, 43.

 Arachneum, Mt., 336.

 Arachova, 30, 252, 253 ff., 381.

 Arcadia, 14, 29, 131, 220, 239, =358-87=, 425, 429.

 Arcesilas, 239.

 Archidamus, 240, 447.

 Areopagus, see under _Athens_.

 Arethusa, 390, 391.

 Argolic Gulf, 324, 330.

 Argolid, Argolis, 8, 13, 162, =323-57=.

 Argos, 10, 11, 221, 239, 325, 327, =329-30=, 346, 435, 436.

 Arion, 208-9.

 Aristides, 100, 124.

 Aristodemus, 428.

 Aristogeiton, 71.

 Aristomenes, 428, 430.

 Aristophanes, place in literature, 95;
   treatment of nature, 24;
   cited, 25, 26, 35, 65, 70, 71, 83, 85-6, 108, 112, 117, 120, 127,
      128, 131, 132, 136, 144, 145, 150, 151, 161, 162, 179, 184, 221,
      251, 448.

 Aristotle, Lyceum of, 119;
   philosophy, 97 ff.;
   cited, 66, 180, 201, 212, 446, 449, 450.

 Aroanius, river, 375.

 Artemis, 24;
   at Olympia, 397;
   Brauronia, 86;
   hymn to, 223;
   in Arcadia, 365, 373, 374;
   in _Hippolytus_, 26, 355;
   on Taÿgetus, 432;
   Orthia, 438-9;
   temple at Aulis, 309;
   — at Piræus, 46;
   — at Thebes, 282, 293.

 Artemisium, 298.

 Asclepieum, at Athens, 122;
   at Epidaurus, 352;
   modern substitute for, 30

 Ascra, 310.

 Asia, 1, 220, 325.

 Asia Minor, 1, 9, 239, 325, 327.

 Asopus, river, in Bœotia, 12, 153, 270, 296, 305;
   in Malis, 317;
   in Sicyon, 328, 329.

 Astypalæa, 7.

 Athens (ancient), 10, 13, 436, 442, 450;
   after battle of Salamis, =91-125=;
   before Salamis, =57-73=;
   Academy of, 65, 119, 147;
   Acropolis of, 60, 73, =74-90=, 92, 107, 144, 162, 173, 184, 193, 232;
   Agora, 72, 99, 110 ff.;
   Areopagus of, 69, 72, 99, 104 ff., 110;
   Asclepieum, 122;
   Barathrum, 109;
   Callirrhoë, 61, 65, 109, 133;
   Cynosarges Gymnasium, 65, 99, 159;
   Dipylon Gate, 113, 144, 177, 183;
   Dionysiac Theatre, 120 ff.;
   Erechtheum, 75, 77, 81, 84, 97;
   Gymnasia, 65, 118;
   Lenæum, 61, 69;
   Lyceum, 94, 99, 119;
   Lysicrates Monument, 122;
   Market-place (old), 65;
   Nike temple, 77, 79;
   Old Athena temple, 75, 92;
   olive in, 66;
   Olympieum, 57, 65, 119;
   Parthenon, 77, 78, 80-1, 85, 87-9, 382;
   Pnyx, 108;
   Propylæa, 77-78, 79, 85, 89, 94;
   —, old, 65, 76;
   Prison of Socrates, 89, 107;
   Prytaneum, 110;
   Street of Tombs, 113;
   Theseum, 94;
   Tholus, 110;
   —, Modern, 29, =126-43=.

 Athena, Alea, 364;
   Archegetis, 86;
   at Piræus, 52;
   Chalkiœkos, 438;
   importance at Athens, 67;
   old temple of, 75;
   statues on Acropolis, 78-9;
   the Watcher, 62.

 Athos, Mt., 11, 13.

 Attic age, 5.

 Attica, 5-8, 13, 15, =144-70=, 325.

 Aulis, 267, =307= ff.

 Bacchus, see _Dionysus_.

 Bacchylides, place in literature, 420;
   cited, 111, 123, 189, 243, 411, 421.

 Bassæ, temple at, 358, 382 ff.

 Bendis, festival of, 48 ff.

 Bion, 4.

 Bœotia, 4, 7, 8, 260, =266-315=, 325, 438.

 Brasidas, 436.

 Brauron, 160.

 Brennus, 318.

 Byron, 5, 79, 194;
   cited, 422.

 Byzantine, churches, 29, 404;
   Greek, 5;
   ruins, 29, 404;
   age, 40, 212.

 Cadmus, 200, 272 ff.

 Cæsar, Julius, 211, 215.

 Calauria, 330, 356.

 Caligula, 304.

 Callichorus, 175.

 Callimachus, cited, 183.

 Callirrhoë, see _Athens_.

 Calydon, 194.

 Calydonian boar hunt, 194, 364.

 Carthage, 43, 239, 398.

 Cassotis, 245.

 Castalia, 226, 252, 253.

 Cecrops, 59, 144.

 Cenchreæ, 212.

 Ceos, 7, 95, 420, 421.

 Cephisus, river, Attic, 146, 148, 152, 177, 184;
   Bœotian, 260, 265, 269, 316.

 Chæronea, 97, 115, 198, 210, 257, 260, =261-5=, 401, 436, 450.

 Chasia, 150.

 Chryso, 223.

 Cicero, 97;
   cited, 1, 32, 181, 211, 304, 316, 440.

 Cimon, 100-101;
   at Eleusis, 182;
   in Messenian affairs, 428.

 Cirphis, Mt., 226, 253, 256, 258.

 Cithæron, Mt., 12, 193, 219, 268, 278, 280, 281, 292, 296.

 Cladeus, river and god, 388, 393, 404.

 Claudius, 304.

 Cleft Way, 250, 257 ff.

 Clement, St., cited, 215.

 Cleonæ, 330, 331.

 Cnidus, 35, 173.

 Cnossus, 231.

 Colonists, 58, 414.

 Colonus, 24, 146-7.

 Comedy, 95.

 Common dialect, 3.

 Conington, cited, 71.

 Conon, 35, 56, 102;
   Wall of, 33, 36, 39, 41, 44.

 Constantinople, fall of, 3;
   foundation of, 196.

 Copaic Lake, 269, 271.

 Corcyra, 206.

 Corinna, 306.

 Corinth (New), 201, 202;
   (Old), =201-17=, 220, 436.

 Corinthian Gulf, 5, 7, 8, 9, 192 ff., 223, 269, 324, 326, 329, 331.

 Corycian Cave, 229, 252, 255.

 Cos, 353.

 Cotilius, Mt., 384.

 Cranaë, 435.

 Craneum, 213.

 Cretan, 20;
   Cretans, 231, 413;
   Eteo-Cretans, 14.

 Crete, 9, 15, 221, 239, 324, 325, 326, 362, 441.

 Crimea, 58.

 Crisæan plain, 223-4, 238.

 Cumæ, 2.

 Cybele, at Piræus, 49.

 Cyllene, Mt., 8, 9, 365, 367, 369, 376, 383.

 Cynuria, 330, 347.

 Cyprus, 1, 433.

 Cypselus, 205;
   chest of, 207.

 Cyrene, 239.

 Cythnus, 7.

 Danai, 323, 344.

 Dances, ancient and modern, 137, 139.

 Danube, 9.

 Daulis, 258, 259.

 Decelea, 148, 150.

 Delium, 296.

 Delos, 7, 101, 107, 163, 397;
   confederacy of, 100.

 Delphi, =218-49=, 289, 344, 401.

 Demaratus, 179, 447.

 Demeter, at Olympia, 397, 410;
   in Arcadia, 173;
   in Bœotia, 173, 314;
   Hymn to, 174-5;
   patroness of marriage, 140;
   shrines of, 30;
   statue of, 173;
   worship of, 173 ff.

 Demosthenes, at Chæronea, 262;
   place in literature, 97;
   suicide of, 103, 356-7;
   cited, 85, 92, 118, 158, 165, 237.

 Dicæarchus, cited, 286, 306.

 Dinarchus, 97.

 Dio Chrysostom, 271, 399.

 Diogenes the Cynic, 213.

 Dionysia, Greater, 69, 140;
   Lesser, 141.

 Dionysius of Halicarnassus, 300.

 Dionysus, at Athens, 68 ff., 72;
   at Delphi, 227 ff.;
   at Eleusis (Iacchus), 174, 177, 179;
   at Olympia, 397;
   at Panopeus, 261;
   brings Semele from Hades, 355;
   Hymn to, 122, 277;
   infant, 396;
   in _Frogs_, 128, 129, 203;
   in the Marshes, 141;
   old cult, 30;
   on Helicon, 303;
   temple at Thebes, 293.

 Diphilus, cited, 52, 206.

 Dirce, 272, 294.

 Dodona, 14.

 Donkeys, 128-9.

 Dorians, 326 ff., 328.

 Doric, dialect, 398.

 Doris, 316, 328, 358.

 Easter, festival of, 132, 137, 142.

 Echo, 372-3, 418.

 Egypt, 9, 433.

 Egyptians, 2.

 Eira, 426, 428.

 Eleusinia, 183.

 Eleusis, bay of, 48, 193;
   mysteries, 114, 129, =171-85=;
   town-spring of, 134.

 Eleutheria, 313.

 Elis, 9, 373, 389, 392.

 Elton, cited, 272.

 Epaminondas, 262, 295, 296;
   character of, 289 ff., 363;
   death of, 360 ff.;
   founds Messene, 429-30.

 Epicurus, 99.

 Epidaurus, 330, =351= ff.

 Epirus, 14, 270.

 Erechtheum, see under _Athens_.

 Erechtheus, 59, 83.

 Eridanus, river, 144.

 Eris, apple of, 397.

 Erymanthus, Mt., 8, 9, 373, 381, 383;
   river, 375.

 Etruscan, 414.

 Eubœa, 7, 11, 153, 206;
   Gulf of, 269.

 Eumelus, 208.

 Euripides, at Piræus, 50;
   cenotaph, 55;
   place in literature, 95-6;
   theology of, 49, 97;
   treatment of Nature, 16, 26;
   cited, 26, 27, 57, 91, 114, 124, 132, 135, 138, 160, 169, 175, 178,
      200, 210, 215, 218, 228-9, 230-1, 233-4, 268, 274, 276, 277,
      279-81, 285-6, 292, 308, 354, 425, 432-3, 438-9, 448.

 Euripus, 11, 153, 154, 307.

 Eurotas, river, 375, 432-3.

 Eurymedon, 71.

 Excavations by, Americans at Corinth, 202, 212 ff.;
   British at Sparta, 438;
   French at Delphi, 225, 236;
   Germans at Olympia, 404;
   Greeks at Thebes, 292.

 Festivals, ancient and modern, 139-142.

 Flaminius, 217.

 Funerals, ancient and modern, 129-130.

 Games, Isthmian, 216-17, 407;
   Nemean, 333, 407;
   Olympic, ancient, 388 ff., 407, =408-13=;
   —, modern, 422-3;
   Pythian, 242 ff., 407.

 Gauls, at Delphi, 235;
   at Thermopylæ, 318.

 Geoffrey de Villehardouin, 379.

 Geraneia, Mt., 195, 199.

 Glaucus, of Chios, 244;
   sea-divinity, 307.

 Goethe, cited, 22, 251.

 Gorgias, place in literature, 97;
   statue at Delphi, 240;
   — at Olympia, 403.

 Gorgopis, Lake, 12.

 Gortys, river, 375.

 Goulas (Gha, Gla), 271.

 Graces, the, 20, 416, 420;
   temple of, 302.

 Græco-Roman period, 4.

 Grylus, 360.

 Gytheion, 435.

 Hadrian, aqueduct, 376;
   at Athens, 60;
   at Delphi, 235;
   at Eleusis, 182;
   at Olympia, 402;
   road of, 199.

 Hagios Vlasis, 260.

 Harmodius, 71.

 Hatzidakis, G. N., cited, 5.

 Helicon, Mt., 7, 193, 292, 301, =302-4=, 313.

 Hephæsteum, 60.

 Hephæstus, at Athens, 59-60;
   in _Prometheus_, 23;
   street, 133.

 Hera, at Olympia, 395-6;
   in Argolis, 329, 348;
   head of, 344.

 Heraclea, 196.

 Heracles, at Marathon, 159;
   at Olympia, 393, 422;
   birth, 275;
   Cretan, 393;
   journey to Hades, 355;
   labours of, 218-19, 333, 347, 374, 376, 399;
   temple at Thebes, 293.

 Heræum, Argolis, 330, 336, =343-4=, 357;
   at Olympia, 389, 395-8.

 Hermæa, 140.

 Hermes, Homeric Hymn to, 367 ff.;
   Ram Bearer, 313;
   statues of, 5, 371, 396.

 Hermione, 328, 329, 330, =355=.

 Herodas (Herondas), 4.

 Herodes Atticus, 156;
   gifts of, 88, 241, 402.

 Herodotus, at Athens, 93;
   piety of, 222, 248;
   place in literature, 96;
   cited, 66, 82, 83, 109, 157, 160, 166, 179, 192, 208, 222, 267, 287,
      297, 299, 319, 321, 330, 343-4, 347, 366, 403, 410, 434, 447-8.

 Hesiod, life and works, 268 ff.;
   cited, 272, 296, 303, 309 ff., 377-8.

 Hieron of Syracuse, 243, 413-4.

 Himera, battle of, 398.

 Hipparchus, 70, 328.

 Hippias, 33, 70;
   sophist, 403.

 Hippocrates, 93, 353.

 Hippocrene, 303.

 Hippodamus, 45.

 History, 3, 14, 15, 96.

 Homer, connection with Argolis, 323 ff.;
     with Athens, 67-8;
   treatment of nature, 18 ff.;
   cited, 18, 19, 81-2, 163, 202, 204, 227, 267, 343, 358, 360, 374,
      377, 397, 431, 433-4.

 Homeric Hymns, 267;
   to Apollo, 231;
   to Artemis, 223;
   to Dionysus, 122, 277;
   to Hermes, 367 ff.;
   to Pan, 371 ff.

 Horace, cited, 345.

 Hydarnes, 448.

 Hymettus, Mt., 13, 109, 145, 163.

 Hypereides, place in literature, 97;
   cited, 103.

 Iacchus, see under _Dionysus_.

 Ibycus, 213.

 Ictinus, 182, 382, 383, 385, 386.

 Ida, Mt., in Asia Minor, 11, 130;
   in Crete, 393.

 Ilissus, river, 27, 28, 125, 133, 144, 422.

 Inachus, river, 332.

 Ionia, 97.

 Ionian, 14;
   sea, 383.

 Isæus, 97.

 Ismenus, river, 272, 294.

 Isocrates, place in literature, 97;
   cited, 59, 181, 198, 450.

 Isthmus of Corinth, 10, 144, 193, 201, 215, 324, 334, 353, 436.

 Italy, 58, 220.

 Itea, 223, 226.

 Ithaca, 231, 432.

 Ithome, Mt., 8, 383, 426, 428.

 Jebb, Sir Richard, cited, 57-8, 103, 413.

 Julian the Apostate, 235-6, 403.

 Kalamata, 10, 425-7.

 Kallidromos, Mt., 317.

 Kapræna, 261.

 Karaïskakis, Place, 30, 36.

 Karytæna, 29, 378-9;
   Geoffrey de, 379.

 Kastri, 224 ff.

 Kephisia, 148, 152.

 Kerata, Mt., boundary between Attica and Megara, 8, 173, 195.

 Kronos Hill, 388 ff.

 Kydias, 329.

 Lacedæmon, 8, 426, 431.

 Laconia, 8, 324, 327, 426, 431, 435.

 Laconian Gulf, 431.

 Ladon, river, 375, 389, 390.

 Langada Gorge, 426.

 Language, Greek, 3;
   dialects, 414;
   modern, 5.

 Larisa of Argos, 325, 327, 330.

 Lasus, 328.

 Laurium, 160-1.

 Leake, cited, 385-6.

 Lebadeia, =301=, 313.

 Lechæum, 212, 216.

 Leonidas, 298, 317-321.

 Lerna, 330, =346-7=.

 Lesbos, 131, 441.

 Leuctra, 289, 296, 430.

 Lindus, 29, 419.

 Lipari Islands, 10.

 Literature, Greek, =3-5=; =93-100=.

 Locris, 7, 14, 193, 223, 226;
   Epicnemidian, 316.

 Lucian, 4;
   cited, 39, 53, 54, 68, 73, 88, 120, 213, 331, 356, 390, 402, 403,
      408, 440.

 Lucius, Mummius, 211.

 Lycabettus, Mt., 144.

 Lycæus, Mt., 8, 367, 373, 378, 383.

 Lycosura, 359, 364.

 Lycurgus, lawgiver, 446;
   orator, 97.

 Lyric poetry, 95.

 Lysander, 102.

 Lysias, place in literature, 97;
   cited, 47, 76, 111, 149.

 Lysippus, 244, 329.

 Lysis, disciple of Socrates, 140;
   of Tarentum, 291.

 Macedon, 15, 96, 100, 356, 401, 436.

 Macedonia, 2, 239.

 Macedonian rule, 39, 102, 210, 391, 394, 401, 436.

 Mænalus, Mt., 373.

 Malea, 324, 431.

 Malis, 316.

 Malian Gulf, 7.

 Mantinea, 289, =359= ff., 364.

 Marathon, 70 ff., 103, =157-60=, 298;
   — race, 159, 422.

 Marathonisi, 435.

 Markopoulo, 160.

 Meander, river, 328.

 Mediterranean, 1, 3, 40, 390.

 Megalopolis, 9, =359=, =378=, 382, 385, 429.

 Megara, 8, 48, 164, =192-9=;
   — Hyblaea, 196.

 Megarid, 144, 164.

 Megistias, 321.

 Melicertes, 200.

 Melos, 5, 162, 326.

 Menander, death, 4;
   friend of Theophrastus, 99;
   place in literature, 96;
   plays of at Piræus, 50;
   tomb, 55;
   cited, 49, 55, 112, 121, 152, 449.

 Menidhi, 137, 150, 151.

 Mesogia, 160.

 Mesolonghi, 30, 194.

 Messene, 429.

 Messenia, 5, 8, 13, 14, =425-30=;
   Bay of, 10, 13.

 Messina, Straits of, 10.

 Midas, 239.

 Midea, 325.

 Minoa, in Megarid, 195.

 Minyæ, 14, 302.

 Mistra, 29, 433.

 Moluriad Rock, 200.

 Monemvasia, 29.

 Morea, 8;
   dukes of, 404.

 Moschus, 4.

 Munychia, 33, 41, 42, 45, 50, 55.

 Murray, Gilbert, cited, 132, 214, 274 ff., 439.

 Musæa, 313.

 Mycalessus, 314.

 Mycenæ, 11, 319, 325, 327, 330, 331, 332, =334= ff., 351.

 Mycenæan civilization, 182, 292, =325-6=.

 Myconos, 7.

 Myron, 78.

 Mysteries, see under _Eleusis_.

 Mytika, 361.

 Nature, Greek treatment of, 15-28.

 Nauplia, 30, 324, 325, 330, =348=.

 Navarino, 425.

 Naxos, 7, 13, 30.

 Neda, river, 382, 383, 384.

 Nedon, river, Gorge of, 426.

 Nemea, 330, =332= ff.

 Nemesis, 154 ff.

 Nereid, 255-56, 397.

 Nero, at Corinth, 213;
   at Delphi, 235;
   at Isthmus, 215, 217;
   at Olympia, 391, 402;
   at Thespiæ 304.

 Nike, by Pæonius, 400;
   of Samothrace, 161;
   temple of, see under _Athens_.

 Nisæa, in Megarid, 195.

 Nomian Mts., 373, 383.

 Norton, Charles Eliot, cited, 16.

 Œta, Mt., 7, 316, 326.

 Olympia, 9, 243, 382, =388-424=.

 Olympus, Mt., 6, 14, 15, 370, 404, 423.

 Onatas, 386.

 Oratory, 96.

 Orchomenus, in Arcadia, 365;
   in Bœotia, 270, 302.

 Oropus, 153.

 Orphic School, 174.

 Ossa, Mt., 7.

 Othrys Mts., 7.

 Pæonius, 400.

 Pæstum, 2, 357.

 Palermo, 10.

 Pallantium, 360, 364.

 Pan, at Athens, 72-3;
   _Homeric Hymn_ to, 371 ff.;
   in modern folk-lore, 255;
   at Delphi, 229;
   at Psyttaleia, 166;
   at Thebes, 293.

 Panathenæa, 67, 71, 135, 137, 140.

 Panopeus, 260.

 Parmenides, 97.

 Parnassus, Mt., 7, 193, 223, 225, 226, 227, 232, 234, 253, 254, 256,
    258, 259, 261, 292, 301, 316, 326, 329, 353, 393.

 Parnes, Mt., 7, 144, 148, 153.

 Parnon, Mt., 8, 432.

 Paros, 29, 386.

 Parthenius, Mt., 373.

 Parthenon, see under _Athens_.

 Patras, 192, 194-5, 392.

 Paul, St., 210, 212, 395;
   cited, 106, 217, 407.

 Pausanias, general, 298, 299;
   topographer, cited, 76, 88, 145, 150, 165, 183, 207, 235, 241, 264,
      265, 271, 289, 292, 293, 301, 304, 309, 310, 319, 329, 336, 346,
      352, 353, 360, 361-2, 374, 375, 376, 384, 390, 405, 411, 428, 430,

 Pegasus, 204, 214, 303.

 Peirene, 204, 207, 214.

 Pelasgians, 14, 82, 324, 344, 347.

 Pelion, Mt., 7.

 Peloponnesian War, 34, 101, 153, 288, 300, 429.

 Peloponnesus, 8, 15.

 Pelops, 393, 399, 405, 412.

 Peneius, river, 7.

 Pentedactylon, Mt., 432.

 Pentelicus, Mt., 5, 7, 11, 13, 25, 132, 144, 148, 152, 153, 159.

 Periander, 206 ff.

 Pericles, age of, 394;
   death, 115;
   at Eleusis, 182;
   Megarian decree of, 198;
   oratory of, 96, 108;
   political influence of, 34, 56, 97, 100, 101, 104.

 Persephone, 355;
   worship of, 171 ff.

 Persian Wars, 15, 96, 100, 197, 210, 317, 330.

 Phæacia, 134.

 Phalerum, 45, 125, 132, 395.

 Pheneus, 365;
   lake of, 375-6.

 Pheræ, 425.

 Pherecrates, cited, 82, 266.

 Phidias, 135, 244, 293, 399.

 Phigalia, 382.

 Phigalians, 383, 386.

 Philip, 39, 115, 451;
   at Chæronea, 262;
   in Delphic Amphictyony, 224;
   of Hellenic blood, 102, 391;
   statues of, 240, 401.

 Philopœmen, 361-3.

 Philosophy, 97 ff.;
   closing of schools of, 3.

 Phlius, 328, =329=, 330.

 Phocis, 14, 223, 260, 316.

 Phœnicia, 324, 433.

 Phœnicians, 127, 273, 330.

 Phœnicides, cited, 84.

 Pholoë, Mt., 373-4.

 Phryne, 240, 304.

 Pieria, 368.

 Pindar, age of, 31;
   art of, 288;
   in Athens, 95;
   descent of, 271;
   house of, 293;
   place in literature, 268;
   treatment of nature, 20-1;
   cited, 20-1, 110, 114, 122, 124, 156, 186, 189, 190, 191, 204, 210,
      218, 237, 243, 249, 266, 275, 288, 291, 299, 302, 333, 358, 388,
      408, 410, 411, 412, 415, 420, 432.

 Pindus, Mt., 7, 13.

 Piræus, 30, =32-56=, 85, 100, 102, 145, 186, 187.

 Pisistratus, 64 ff., 174, 182.

 Platæa, 71, 91, =296-301=, 313, 320.

 Plato, Academy of, 119, 147;
   age of, 39;
   cave of, 109;
   legend of, 164;
   opinion of Kydias, 330;
   place in philosophy, 98;
   treatment of nature, 28;
   cited, 28, 46-7, 74, 107, 125, 139, 144, 182, 185, 198, 205, 307,
      352, 414, 420, 449, 450.

 Plistus, river, 226, 234, 242, 252, 253.

 Plutarch, 4;
   birthplace, 61;
   character of, 268;
   cited, 64, 88, 110, 169, 213, 240, 267, 301, 353, 356.

 Polybius, cited, 360, 361, 363, 437.

 Polygnotus, 129, 241.

 Poros, 356.

 Poseidon, at Athens, 59;
   in Argolis, 348;
   in Elis, 390;
   temple of at Calauria, 356;
     — at Pæstum, 2;
     — at Sunium, 162.

 Potidæa, 119.

 Prasiæ, 160.

 Pratinas, 328.

 Praxilla, 329.

 Praxiteles, 5, 244, 293, 304, =364=, 396.

 Propylæa, see under _Athens_.

 Ptoön, Mt., 269, 292, 301, 313.

 Pylos, 231, 425, 429.

 Pythagoras, 97, 291.

 Rhamnus, 154 ff.

 Rhodes, 1, 29, 127, 135, 419;
   Colossus of, 397.

 Rogers, B. B., cited, 70, 132, 141, 161, 179, 181, 251.

 Roman rule, 39-40, 172, 211-12, 391, 394, 402, 414.

 Romans, 204, 362.

 Salamis, 48, 62, 68, 144, 353, 357, 399;
   battle of, 71, 91, 103, =165-70=, 188, 209, 299, 398.

 Samos, 70, 99.

 Sappho, read by Solon, 64;
   treatment of nature, 18 ff.;
   cited, 18, 19, 20, 21, 136, 380.

 Saronic Gulf, 8, 32, 41, 163, 193, 324, 353, 354.

 Scamander, 134.

 Scironian Cliffs, =199= ff., 354.

 Scopas, 293, 364, 386.

 Selinus, 398.

 Seriphos, 7.

 Servius Sulpicius, cited, 32, 199.

 Shelley, cited, 25, 56, 148, 368.

 Sicily, 1, 9, 10, 15, 58, 239, 328, 388, 390;
   Sicilian Greeks, 391, 398, 414;
   — expedition, 37, 101, 187.

 Sicyon, 329.

 Simmias, cited, 150.

 Simonides, at Athens, 70, 95;
   poet laureate, 420;
   rival of Lasus, 328;
   cited, 64, 136, 157, 158, 200, 299-300, 320, 321, 349.

 Socrates, on Acropolis, 76 ff.;
   in Assembly, 108;
   at Delium, 296;
   at Isthmian Games, 217;
   by Ilissus, 27;
   in Gymnasia, 119, 140;
   in Piræus, 46 ff.;
   place in philosophy, 98-9.

 Solon, in Egypt, 2;
   influence in Athens, 58 ff.;
   statue at Salamis, 165;
   cited, 62, 63, 283.

 Solos, 376.

 Sophists, 94, 96, 97.

 Sophocles, place in literature, 95;
   tomb of, 150;
   treatment of nature, 24 ff.;
   cited, 24, 116, 140, 146, 163, 171, 178, 222, 240, 250, 268, 276,
      281-3, 286-7, 303, 335, 341, 405-7, 432.

 Sparta, 8, 10, 13, 100, 102, 153, 239, 288, 425, 429, =431-451=.

 Spercheius, river, 316, 318.

 Sphacteria, 429.

 Sphinx, Mt., 292.

 Sterling, John, cited, 320, 404.

 Strabo, cited, 234, 271, 355, 390.

 Stymphalus, 365;
   lake of, 376.

 Styx, 377.

 Suetonius, cited, 215.

 Sunium, =161= ff., 356.

 Swinburne, cited, 106, 424.

 Symonds, J. A., cited, 114, 136, 349.

 Syracusans, 38, 102, 414.

 Syracuse, 10, 38, 43, 206, 414.

 Tænarum, 208, 431.

 Tanagra, 296, =305-6=, 313.

 Tatoï, 153.

 Tauropolia, 140.

 Taÿgetus, Mt., 8, 13, 383, 389, 426, 432, 445.

 Tegea, 359, =363-4=, 435.

 Telesilla, 329.

 Tempe, Vale of, 7, 245.

 Tenedos, 388.

 Tenos, 7.

 Terpander, cited, 441-2.

 Thaletas, 441-2.

 Thebes, 15, 229, 239, =266-95=, 436.

 Themistocles, fortification of Piræus, 33, 34, 36;
   policy of, 44, 101;
   at Olympia, 361;
   at Salamis, 166;
   tomb of, 41.

 Theodosius, 236, 403.

 Theocritus, 4, 16, 258;
   treatment of nature, cited, 28.

 Theognis, 196-7.

 Theophrastus, 99;
   cited, 51, 62, 121, 140.

 Thera, 326.

 Theramenes, 102.

 Therapne, 433.

 Thermopylæ, 7, 9, 298, =316-22=, 360.

 Theseus, in art and literature, 60, 399;
   Bacchylides on, 95;
   city of, 104, 107, 146;
   in _Hippolytus_, 354 ff.;
   Isthmian Games, 217;
   the Panathenæa, 67, 137;
   return from Crete, 79, 163.

 Thesmophoria, 140.

 Thespiæ, 304-5.

 Thespians, 288, 313, 319.

 Thespis, 63, 156.

 Thessaly, 6, 7, 13, 14, 135, 270, 368, 435.

 Thoricus, 160.

 Thrace, 2, 5, 171, 220.

 Thrasybulus, 149.

 Thriasian Plain, 173, 179.

 Thucydides, historian, at Delphi, 248;
   place in literature, 96;
   cited, 37, 91, 115, 116, 216, 267, 289, 300, 326, 335, 360, 429, 437,
   statesman, 101.

 Tiberius, 391, 402.

 Timotheus, cited, 168, 362.

 Tiryns, 324, 325, 327, 330, 336, =348-51=.

 Tragedy, 95.

 Treton, Mt., 331.

 Tripolis, 360, 373, 375.

 Triptolemus, 174.

 Troëzen, 330, =353= ff., 358.

 Troy, 10, 27, 134, 336, 337, 338, 343, 357.

 Tyrtæus, cited, 427, 428, 443.

 Vaphio, 435.

 Vari, 163-4.

 Virgil, 310, 364.

 Way, cited, 139, 218, 229.

 Wordsworth, cited, 17, 21.

 Xenophon, place in literature, 96;
   treatment of Epaminondas, 289;
   cited, 46, 51, 149, 267, 289, 360, 374, 392, 446.

 Xerxes, at Platæa, 298;
   at Salamis, 165;
   at Thermopylæ, 317;
   invasion of Delphi, 252;
     — of Greece, 447.

 Zacynthus, 231.

 Zanes, 401.

 Zeno, 99.

 Zeus, 14, 23, 27;
   birth of, 367, 393;
   at Lebadeia, 301;
   at Nemea, 333;
   at Olympia, 392, 393, 395, 396, 423;
   at Piræus, 52;
   temple at Olympia, 398-401.

                      =The Riverside Press=
                       CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS
                               U . S . A




                           Transcriber’s Note

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original.

  36.1     Zeus’s ether on his “beetle.[”]                Added.
  232.25   came to Delphi in their childless[n]ess.       Inserted.
  252.1    the true Phi[l]hellene                         Inserted.
  350.16   Pr[oe/œ]tus, the first king of Tiryns          Replaced.
  394.16   ho[h/p]elessly confounds history               Replaced.

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