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So at Plataea, Thebes, Mycenae, Patrse, and Marathon, (supposing the last-named place to have been at Brana,) the ancient Acropolis is on a low eminence, at the foot of a higher overhanging hill; and though in the case of Chseronea, Thoricus, Argos, and Corinth, the greater elevation of the sites produces a greater coincidence of the ancient with the modern notion, yet even here, the Acrocorinthus, which, from its height and strength, seems to form the most remarkable exception to the general character of ancient citadels, is, notwithstanding, so completely commanded by a neighbouring height as to be of little value for the purposes of modern warfare10; and at Chaeronea, Thoricus, and Argos, we are met by the same unwarlike and primitive peculiarity which is presented to us at Athens—the excavation of the rocky sides of the Acropolis into the seats of the theatre.
The last remark suggests another general rule to be drawn from an enlarged acquaintance with Greek topography. This position for the Greek theatres may have been partly fixed by its solemnity, as placing their chief assemblies under the shadow of the ancestral gods of the country, partly also—and this remark applies especially to the theatres in Sicily and Italy, all of Greek construction—from the extensive prospect which they would thus command. Niebuhr (Vol. m. p. 311. note 531, p. 439) has, with his usual insight into the feeling of ancient states, caught this general characteristic of Greek theatres—to which he adds another—viz. that if possible, they overlooked the sea. He gives as instances, those of Feesulae, Tusculum, and Tarentum. To these might be added Tauromenium and Syracuse, (where, however, the hill, on whose slope the theatre is situated, is in neither case the citadel). Egesta, Athens, and Argos, are also examples of the theatre being turned to the sea; but in the two last cases it could not have been otherwise if it was on the citadel-hill at all, because the only other alternative was the dark northern side, which, at Athens especially, was so strictly regarded by the popular superstition as inapplicable to religious or public uses. From the
as yet the Capitoline was unoccupied by its Sabine settlement, we shall be struck by the analogous habitation of the original people of Romulus on the square
low hill of the Palatine, almost over-
recent plan of Xanthus, given by Mr. Fellowes, it appears that there also the theatre is on the side of the Acropolis.
If we descend into detail, it is of course the primitive rather than the later history of Greece, which topography most especially illustrates: for, in fact, the destruction of buildings has left the natural features of the country far more in their original state, than could have been the case in the time of the greatest glory of Greece. We do not, indeed, see the hills of Athens as Plato imagines them once to have been, united in one rocky range, extending from Lycabettus to the Pnyx; but we see them much more clearly than he could have seen them as they would have appeared immediately after their supposed separation: the rocks and caves of the Acropolis must now be much nearer to their natural abruptness and simplicity, than when they were thickly set with temples and houses. At Rome it is difficult to detect under the buildings of the modern Capitol, and the ruins of the imperial palace, the hostile stations of the Sabines and Romans on the Capitoline and Palatine11; but at Athens, the long craggy protuberance of the Areopagus, crawling, like a huge monster, towards the front of the Acropolis, immediately reminds us of the ancient legend, which represented it as the position taken up by the Amazons against the fortress of Theseus, and of the early dawn of Athenian history, when it was turned to the same use by the Persians. The story of the Pelasgic settlement under the north side of the Acropolis inevitably rises before us, when we see the black shade always falling upon it, as over an accursed spot, in contrast with the bright gleam of sunshine which always seems to invest the Acropolis itself; and we can imagine how naturally the gloom of the steep precipice would conspire with the remem
11 The word arx does not seem to have been so closely limited in Latin, as dnpoiroXis in Greek, to the original seat of the city. "There is no English word which answers to arx or axpa. The one as well as the other signifies a height within the ring-walls very difficult of access; but this height was never in earlier times, in later very seldom, closed by a wall against the city. The same city may have several
such. So it was at Rome; and the line of the Roman poet, 'Septemque una sibi muro circumdedit arces,' (Georg. n. 535) is written with great propriety." (Niebuhr, Vol. m. note 411.) So at Athens, the Areopagus was an arx as well as the Acropolis. So again at Jerusalem, the hill opposite the temple and citadel hills was expressly called by the Greeks
brance of an accursed and hateful race, to make the Athenians dread the spot12. And if we follow the story of Herodotus, when he describes the same race dwelling on Hymettus, and falling upon the Athenian women as they came to draw water from Enneacrounos, (Herodotus, VI. 137), there, also, the wild slopes of the mountain, with its deep ravines, up to the present day the favourite haunt of robbers, descending at once upon the stream of the Ilissus, present the exact image we should expect of the refuge of the aboriginal inhabitants, hovering on the outskirts of their ancient homes. But though the natural localities may more fully illustrate the earlier history of Greece, yet the actual remains are enough to throw considerable light on the more recent period of the acme of her fame. Here, again, the contrast with the relics of Roman antiquity is decidedly in favour of Greece. Of the Roman monarchy and republic, the only extant memorial undoubtedly connected with any actual event is the carving on the Insula Tiberina of the ship-head with the jEsculapian serpent. Whatever other remnants there may be of the more primitive times of Rome, are interesting chiefly from their antiquity; whatever more complete specimens of Roman architecture exist, belong to the comparatively uninteresting period of the empire. But in Greece, the existing vestiges of her most remarkable times are exacdy those which we should most have cared to see. Not to mention13 the fact, that it is Athens, which, though so exposed to plunder by its open position, and the fatal facility of maritime exportation, has been left most untouched, and that of the Athenian buildings those are still most perfect which were the chief glory of her most glorious age—the Theseum, and the Parthenon with its accompaniments,—how remarkable it is to consider the number of comparatively minute objects of the deepest interest which are still preserved! On the plain of Marathon is still to be seen the tumulus raised by Aristides over the bodies of the 292 Athenians, who died upon the spot, and (although not with equal certainty) the remains of the trophy of Miltiades which would not suffer Themistocles to sleep. At Ch»ronea is the colossal lion, broken indeed, but in its parts perfect, which was erected over the Thebans who fell at "that dishonest victory." In the Acropolis we can trace the ruts of wheels worn by the Panathenaic procession between the columns of the Propyhea, the impressions left on the eastern face of the Parthenon by the round shields there dedicated to Minerva, and (what is perhaps the most lively remembrancer of past times existing in the world) the fragments of twelve Doric pillars embedded in the northern wall of the Acropolis, evident remains of the old Hecatompedon, destroyed by the Persians, and thus standing memorials of the well-known haste with which Themistocles is said to have repaired the fortifications, and of the triumphant recovery of Athens from her all but total extirpation. The Areopagus not only presents to us the primitive counter-work of the Amazons, and the deep rent in the rocks into whose gloomy recess the Furies descended after their defeat by the rival goddess of the Acropolis, and CEdipus vanished from the eyes of Theseus, but it furnishes also the most interesting traces that could be furnished of its later uses—the rude stone seats on which the judges sate in the open air—the rock-hewn steps up which St. Paul must have been led when he was brought from the agora below.
"The north side of a churchyard is of course familiar to Englishmen, and this perhaps is the meaning of the cave, "conversaad aquilunem" down which Pluto carried Proserpine (Cic. Verr. iv. 48.).
13 We really cannot wonder that a heathen should have seen something providential in the remarkable preservation of the city of Athens amidst the general ruin of Greece; once in the earthquake
under Valens, and again when Alaric was believed to have been deterred by the appearance of Minerva Promachus stalking round the walls, and of Achilles standing before them. 6 pev 'AXapixov ijv iv TaitTatt Tats eXirtcrtv, epeWe Se ?j T»js •TroXetos dpxaiorrjs Kai ev ourto dvaarefieai KaKoTs Qeiav Ttvd nrpovoiav virep eavriji turirrirdrratrOai Kal petteiv airop0t}T<$?.—(Zosimus, v. 5. p. 391.)
So again the seats of the Dionysiac Theatre are fixed on the southern slope of the Acropolis, not merely by their almost indisputable coincidence with the tiers of steps still discernible in the rocky sides of the hill, but by the singular accident of all its local features being preserved in a coin, published in the frontispiece of Col. Leake's Athens, and serving to identify the site beyond the possibility of doubt; and the Pnyx is so well defined in all its parts by the rocky semicircle of the audience, and the stone Bema14 of the orator, that we can only wonder at the perverse ingenuity
14 It is with reluctance that we abandon I who saw in the mutilated stone substructhe pleasing theory of Dr. Wordsworth, I tion on the level immediately above the which induced Spon to identify it with the Areopagus, Wheler with the Odeum of Pericles, and Stuart with the Theatre of Regilla. In these two monuments therefore we have the very seats which were occupied by the Athenian people on the two great occasions at which they appeared in their collective capacity; and it is needless to observe what has been often pointed out, the additional liveliness we gain in our conceptions, both of the theatrical and political assemblies of Greece, by knowing the exact view which was present to the Athenian spectators, as from their lofty theatre they overlooked the Saronic gulf, or to an Athenian orator, as he stood on the Bema, in front of the Propylaea of the Acropolis.
But it is the general view of Athens itself which even more than any particular spot in it, however interesting, throws one back into the spirit of the times, when her citizens loved her, as we are told, with the passionate love which nothing short of her surpassing beauty could inspire (r^v rf/s jniXtcoy Siva/up Kaff qjiipav ipyip Beofitvovs Ka\ ipaiTTas ytyvoitcvovs avTtjs. Thucyd. II. 43). It IS
a remarkable testimony to the singular appropriateness of the scene to the ideas which it represents, that it would be impossible for any one to describe the view from the summit of Hymettus more truly than in the words in which Milton has set forth his conception of Athens, not from ocular inspection, but such as from the union of deep classical learning with his poetical faculty he imagined it to have appeared in the vision from the "specular mount," in the Paradise Regained. Such as it would have been then,
semicircle of the Pnyx traces of the Bema of Themistocles looking to the sea, which the Thirty are said by Plutarch to have removed, or, as Dr. Wordsworth interprets the words, destroyed.—But the difficulties which must always have been objected to this hypothesis, from the small area in front of this upper Bema, and from the evident antiquity of what on Dr. Wordsworth's theory must have been the more recent Bema, become insuperable, when we remember the fact pointed out to us first by Professor Ross, and noticed, though without reference to this particular point by Col. Leake, (2nd.
ed. I. 182.) viz. that the city wall can be proved by existing traces to have passed so immediately behind the hill of the Pnyx as always to have excluded the view of the sea, which the supposed Upper Bema would otherwise have commanded. What therefore is the explanation of the story in Plutarch yet remains to be determined, unless we adopt the ingenious conjecture that it arose from the transference of the assemblies from the Dionysiac theatre, which looks out on the sea, to the Pnyx. Col. Leake has also failed to notice the mutilated structure, which was indeed first pointed out by Dr. Wordsworth.