صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

IV.
HERODOTUS.

Many of the discoveries which have been made of late years in Greece, Asia Minor, and Egypt, have brought forth something or other to strengthen the conviction that the statements of Herodotus can always be relied upon, when he speaks from his own experience, and was not imposed upon by those from whom he derived his information; but even in this latter case he had usually good sense enough to see whether what he was told was probable in itself or not. This character of the father of history is now so well established, that it scarcely requires any additional proof to support it; but as there are still some persons who cannot get rid of their mistaken notions about Herodotus, we feel great satisfaction in recording a discovery which may contribute to remove them.

In chapter 106 of the second book, Herodotus says that king Sesostris marked his victorious progress through the countries which he subdued, by monuments, some of which continued to exist in his time, and were seen and described by him. Two of these monuments existed in Ionia, the one on the road from the territory of Ephesus to Phocaea, and the other on that from Sardis to Smyrna. The figures in these two cases were the same, and cut into the living rock. Herodotus gives his description in the following words: (KarepcoBi 8e avfjp eyyeykvirrai, jiiyaBos irip.im)s oirtOapJjs, rjj fikv 8c£»7 XPl *X(ov "'XW"' TB W apurrtpfi r6£a, Kai Ttjv aXKr/v a/cmr/v mrairas- Ka\ yap Alymrltjv /cat Al8umi8a ?X"° f* &* T°v ">!""> & Tov ercpov ajiov 8ia Ts>u <m\6iav ypafipara ipa Alyvrma biriiui iyKeKokappAva, XeyovTa Tcisc* eya TijvSe Ttjv ^apr/v apoitri roicri epouri eKTi]<ra.ii.r\v Saris 8e (tat oxodev fori, ivdavra piy ov ftrjkdi, cripaBi Si 8f8ij\<o«. The

monument on the road from Ephesus to Phocaea, which is thus described by Herodotus, has been recently discovered by Dr. von Eckenbrecher, and has since been seen and described by Professor Welcker, whose attention was drawn to it on his recent excursion to Asia Minor. (See Rhein. Museum, Neue Folge, ii. p. 430, foil.) An attentive traveller, says Welcker, cannot fail to perceive the monument. The side of the rock in which it is cut is almost perpendicular, and forms a smooth, almost square wall, which is somewhat broader than high, on the right-hand side of the road, not far from the beautiful defile which terminates about five miles on this side of Nymphi. The rock itself is seen at a considerable distance, and on approaching it closer, one perceives, if not the figure itself, at least the square cavity, on the ground of which the figure is cut, in the same manner in which the reliefs are wrought on the monuments of Egypt. The rock and the place around are called Karabel, that is, the black hip. The frame is only 90 centimeters above the road, and its lower part is cut 42 centimeters deep into the rock, and the upper part somewhat less, as the rock reclines a little. The frame is almost of a square form, and somewhat narrower at the top than at the lower part, which measures 1 meter and 85 centimeters. The figure (a warrior) is of the height of 2 meters and 30 centimeters, and holds in its left hand (not in the right, as Herodotus says) a lance, and in the right the string of a bow which hangs on its back. The detail parts of the figure are seen very indistinctly, and the hands and face appear to have been wrought originally very roughly on the rude limestone. The influence of time and the air have made even the more prominent parts of the figure very indistinct. Near the head of the warrior a bird is represented in a sort of ornamented frame. Of the inscription mentioned by Herodotus not a trace seems to be left now, as the whole surface of the figure has disappeared.

L. Schmitz.

Herodotus says (vii. 117), that while Xerxes was with his army at Acanthus, Artachaies died, a distinguished Persian who had superintended the construction of the canal across the Isthmus of Athos. He adds, that Xerxes gave him a splendid funeral, and the whole army raised a mound (crvfifioxoee mo-a ij trrparla): in the time of Herodotus, the Acanthians, pursuant to an oracular command, sacrificed to Artachaies as a Hero. "About 1-j- mile to the westward of the north end of the canal (of Xerxes) is the modern village of Erso (on the site of Acanthus), which gives name to the bay, situated on an eminence overhanging the beach: this is crowned by a remarkable mound, forming a small natural citadel1." This

1 Penny Cyclopaedia, in the article "Athos;" which was supplied for that work by Lieutenant Wolfe, who was engaged in the recent survey of the coasts

of Thrace and Macedonia. See also Leake's Travels in Northern Greece, Vol. in. p. 145, &c.

mound appears to be that described by Herodotus, who was personally acquainted with the places on the route of Xerxes from the Hellespont to Attica, as any attentive reader will see from his seventh book.

Herodotus (vii. 22) describes the peninsula of Athos as a mountainous tract projecting into the sea; on the land-side, he says, the peninsula is terminated by an isthmus about twelve stadia across, which is flat, and contains some hillocks. "The peak of Athos," says Lieut. Wolfe, "is in 40° 9|' N. lat., 24° 20" E. long. The canal of Xerxes is still most distinctly to be traced all the way across the isthmus, from the Gulf of Monte Santo to the Bay of Erso in the Gulf of Contessa, with the exception of about 200 yards in the middle, where the ground bears no appearance of having ever been touched. But as there is no doubt of the whole canal having been excavated by Xerxes (Herod, vii. 37, 122, and Thucyd. iv. 109), it is probable that the central part was afterwards filled up, in order to allow a more ready passage into and out of the peninsula. In many places the canal is still deep, swampy at the bottom, and filled with rushes and other aquatic plants: the rain and small springs draining down into it from the adjacent heights afford at the Monte Santo end a good watering-place for shipping; the water (except in very dry weather) runs out in a good stream. The distance across is 2500 yards( which agrees very well with the breadth of twelve stadia assigned by Herodotus. The width of the canal appears to have been about 18 or 20 feet; the level of the earth nowhere exceeds 15 feet above the sea; the soil is a light clay. It is on the whole a very remarkable isthmus, for the land on each side (but more especially to the westward) rises abruptly to an elevation of 800 to 1000 feet." This cutting through the peninsula of Athos is alleged by Juvenal (Sat. x. 174) as a specimen of Greek mendacity:

creditor olim

Velificatus Athos, et quidquid Gratia mendax

Audet in historia!

It might suit the declamatory taste of Juvenal to write in this way, even if he knew the facts as stated by Herodotus. But probably he never took the pains to read the father of history: his studies lay in a different direction. Ruperti's note on the passage is a good sample of critical ignorance. He had not read Herodotus, or he could not understand him.

Herodotus (vii. 125) says, that the army of Xerxes, on its march from Acanthus to Therme (afterwards Thessalonica), was annoyed by lions, which seized the camels that carried the provisions. The fine silver coins of Acanthus contain on the reverse a spirited figure of a lion on the back of a bull with his claws and teeth fixed in him. Herodotus adds, that in this part of Greece there were lions in his time, and that the lion was found in the tract between the river Nestus and the Achelous in Acarnania, but nowhere else in Europe. Aristotle {Hist. Anim. vi. 31) also states that the lion is found between the Nestus and the Achelous. Pliny (Nat. Hist. viii. 16) follows Aristotle.

George Long.

V.

A DISSERTATION ON A SECOND BOSPORUS CIMMERIUS, AND SEVERAL RIVERS OF THE PALUS ULEOTIS1.

Ancient geography has always been considered as one of the most difficult branches of knowledge. However, Ptolemy, Strabo, Mela, Pliny, were popular among their countrymen who understood them easily, and who believed their statements with a readiness which was neither guided nor disturbed by that spirit of critical investigation which is one of the most striking features of modern science. Criticism, that is doubt, comparison, and conclusion, is now the indispensable condition without which scientific conviction cannot be obtained. As to ancient geography in particular, there was among the Greeks and Romans a considerable stock of knowledge, the result of experience and tradition, which existed alongside that knowledge which was contained in the works of so many distinguished authors. The ancient geographers of course pre

1 The substance of this paper, but representing the subject j in a somewhat different light, was read in the Royal

Geographical Society of Paris, in the month of August, 1842. Ed.

sented fewer difficulties to their contemporaries than to us, because their readers were generally able to complete deficiencies, and to understand rough sketches which present to us as many insurmountable difficulties. In many cases we cannot understand those geographers, because we have no knowledge of the physical changes which rivers, lakes, shores, and similar localities, have gradually undergone during the long period which separates their age from our own. As to names, a great number of them still exist, though partly altered or mutilated. The original form of others has entirely disappeared, but they are preserved in translations; for as they had an expressive meaning, they were translated into the language of those nations which succeeded the Greeks and Romans in the dominion of the countries in which those names are to be found. This is especially the case in Thrace, Ulyria, Macedonia, Epirus, Asia Minor, and the countries round the Euxine, where a great number of Roman and Greek names are still to be recognized in a Slavonic or Turkish translation. Sometimes also, when the ancients are obscure in the description of important localities, it is evident that a detailed description appeared useless to them, those spots being then universally known. They wrote for the practical want of their contemporaries, and not for the scientific curiosity of later generations. In short, the knowledge of the ancients was in a great measure the result of hearing, seeing, and oral discussions; they cultivated their minds by educating their senses.

Revolutions of the soil, and alterations of names, are generally the results of a slow process; and many a century is required before the primitive state of things entirely disappears either from the surface of the earth or from the memory of a nation. Such revolutions may have been observed by later geographers, who either purposely or accidentally communicated their observations to their contemporaries, and thus to posterity. Our knowledge of the ancient times will therefore often derive many a valuable contribution from observations made during subsequent centuries. It might have happened, for example, that the Greeks of Constantinople defended their declining empire against the sword of the Khalifs, or the arrows of the Bulgarians, on a plain but imperfectly described by a contemporary of Augustus; and a Byzantine writer, in his descrip

« السابقةمتابعة »