« السابقةمتابعة »
1. The utter confusion of the situations of Argos and Mycenae in the Tragedians has often been noticed—a confusion the more remarkable when contrasted with the fidelity with which they possess all that is essential to the real interest of the drama in the localities of Mycenae; and when it is considered how palpable the confusion must have been to Greeks, who might all have visited the places in question, and have known that one was situated five miles from the other—one a flourishing city, the other in total desolation.
2. In the actual vestiges of Colonos there is much indeed to interest a reader of Sophocles. The two small hills, standing on the outskirts of the long forest of olives, where a traveller from Thebes would first emerge to the view of the towers of Athens ((Ed. Col. 13)—their rocky projections, connecting them with the group of hills which form the iptiaji 'Afyvav ((Ed. Col. 51)—the prospect of the level plain (tvimrov), and the bright sea beyond (cvBdXao-aov, (Ed. Col. 667)—the luxuriant creepers which hang over the walls of the adjacent vineyards (ib. 670—680)— the glades of ancient olive-trees, interspersed with vines and shrubs of oleander (Sa^s, eXalas, d/OTf'Xou) (ib. 18)—the rivulets of the Cephisus which irrigate the gardens and the olive-grove (ib. 185)—all exactly coincide with the poetical description. Yet, even here it is obvious that other reasons than a mere love of natural scenery have conspired to produce it; that it is the result, partly of the poet's affection for his birth-place, partly of the natural prominence which such a spot would assume in the eyes of an Athenian, to whom, accustomed only to the barren plain and waterless rocks of the rest of Attica, Colonos would seem, by contrast, a spot of unusually luxuriant vegetation, and the Cephisus a noble and beneficent stream. And in the progress of the drama all the details of topography, when compared with the actual localities, vanish as completely as in the case of Argos and Mycenae. Dr. Wordsworth (Athens and Attica, p. 238) has well shown how in his wish to reconcile the tradition of CEdipus' burial at his own birth-place, Colonos, with the more national and authorized version which placed his tomb in the sanctuary of the Eumenides under the Areopagus, Sophocles has veiled the whole of the closing scene in studied obscurity. The course of the narration itself would lead us to place the scene of his disappearance at Colonos. But an acquaintance with the real topography shows us, and must have shown the Athenians, that all the features of this scene are taken not from Colonos, but from the hill of the Areopagus. It is there, and there only, that we can find the deep chasm in the rocks (koixov Kparfjpos), ((Ed. Col. 1595), near the meeting-place of Pirithous and Theseus, and the hill of Demeter Euchloe; in other words, the Theseum and the Acropolis.
3. A similar instance of the influence exercised by the imagination on their selection of external imagery is to be found in Dr. Wordsworth's ingenious explanation of the preference given in the tragic poets to the Boeotian and Argolic mountains, Munychia and Phalerum, and the Cephisus, over the Athenian hills, the Pirreus and the Ilissus; from the former not being, like the latter, associated with the business of daily life (Athens and Attica, c. 21).
4. The same tendency also appears in more ordinary matters connected with topography; for example, in the fanciful rules by which the ancient names are so often applied to real places. It is well known, for example, that there are in fact two Parnassuses; one, the real geological Parnassus, with only one summit, and not visible from Delphi at all; the other, the poetical Parnassus, which is at the foot of the real one, and whose two peaks consist in the two huge crags which immediately overhang Delphi. So also there seem to be two Castalian springs; one, the real natural original spring, which rises high among the uplands of the real Parnassus, and from thence descends to the cleft between the two crags, over which in the winter it falls in a cascade. But in summer this, like most, other streams in Greece, is dried up, and for the greater part of the year it works its way secretly17 from above, until it appears again at the foot of the cleft under the rocks in a perennial spring, which is the poetical Castalia, appropriating to itself
17 This disappearance and reappearance of streams is as is well known very common in Greece—and led to the fables
of the Inachus and the Alpheus—At
Athens a similar confusion has arisen
about the spring Callirhoe or Ennea
the honour of its real parent, in the same way as the two crags have usurped the honour of the whole historical and geological Parnassus. In other words, the only Parnassus and the only Castalian spring of which the Greeks chose to know any thing, were those crags and that spring which were always connnected with the holiest associations of the whole Greek race, when they recalled to their minds the solemn scene of the Delphic oracle; disregarding altogether the mountain and the spring with which none but shepherds or accidental travellers could be familiar. In the same spirit, the fanciful or mythological names which they affixed had reference to the places, not as they were in themselves, but as they appeared to those who passed along whatever road in ancient times was the chief approach to them. Thus, the ridge of mountains which overhangs Mycenae, though it has really Jive peaks, was said to have resulted from the petrifaction of three nymphs—because (as it would seem) in the point of view in which it would be seen by the pilgrims who came to worship at the great temple of the Argive Hera, the five peaks are so grouped together as to appear to be three.
But the most striking instance of the action and re-action which existed between the scenery and the imagination of Greece, is to be found in its mythology. In this respect, the difference is, of course, immense between a local and an universal religion. The merest fancies of a national belief will be far more deeply interwoven with the outward features of the country with which they are associated, than can possibly be the case with the realities of an universal faith18. To have seen Puteoli or Malta may be satisfactory, as giving us a lively image of the scenes of St. Paul's his
crounos, which name seems to have been sometimes given to the perennial vein of water which creeps under the dry hed of the Ilissus, sometimes to the passage of the main stream of the Ilissus, when swollen by rain it falls in a cascade over these rocks, just as the Castalian stream in like circumstances falls over the cleft
at whose foot is the famous spring For
the somewhat contradictory statements respecting Callirhoe, of which the above seems the best explanation, see Leake's Athens, 2nd edit. i. p. 175. Words
worth's Athens and Attica, p. 161.
18 Dr. Robinson, in his valuable Researches in Palestine, has frequent occasion to make a remark of the same character on the ease of identifying the localities of the Old Testament compared with the difficulty of identifying those of the New Testament. In the former the local character of the religion invested places with its own importance—in the latter, its universal character, by the very fact of its importance, threw all local considerations into the shade.
tory; but between the scenes and the events we feel that the connexion is accidental only, not necessary or real. But to have seen Greece is to have been let into the secret of the rise and growth of the Pagan worship itself; and forces upon one the irresistible conclusion, not indeed that natural objects in themselves originated, but that they had a most important influence in determining, the character of the national mythology. It is but the natural result of this, that one of the most graphic descriptions of Greek scenery, which we ever remember to have seen, is to be found in a German work, which carries the theory of this connexion to an extravagant extent—Forchhammer's Hellenica; and it is not till after a visit to Greece, that we can fully enter into the truth and beauty of Wordsworth's celebrated lines, which
place before our thoughts
It will suffice to touch on one feature of the case by way of illustration, viz. the character of the religious sanctuaries or Sxotj,—so often but so inadequately translated in English by the word "grove.'" And here, again, it may be worth while to observe, that the return of these places almost to their primeval desolation, supplies us with a better criterion of the original connexion between their outward aspect and their local worship, than would have been possessed by a Greek or Roman, living at a time when their natural features were hardly discernible through the temples and theatres with which centuries of devotion had overlaid them. All have the same common character of a natural rifuvo^, a retired bason in the bosom of the mountains, interspersed, but never overgrown, with trees19, the guardian city20 wherever it possessed one,
19 See Leake's Morea, i. 35.
80 Thus Epidauius stood at the end of the long defile by which the sanctuary of jEsculapius is approached—Lebadea at the mouth of the valley in which stands the modern town of that name, on the site of the Trophonium—Crissa at the entrance of the bason of Delphi.
In a fragment of jEschylus there occurs the expression MapaOwviova\Ctos.—Whether it applies to the whole plain is perhaps uncertain—but undoubtedly no word
could better describe that sacred battle field, and no spot could better illustrate the meaning of that word—the yellow plain lying like a focus of light, embraced between the huge green arms of Fentelicus inland, and the meeting circle of the Euboean mountains which close it in from the sea, overlooked by its ancient citadel-hill at Brana, and the low tumulus of the fallen Athenians rising in the midst of it.
standing at the threshold or outlet into the profane external world.
From haunted spring and dale
Olympia—by its peculiar brightness and liveliness of form and