صور الصفحة

they were finally abolished. At that period many of the temples were converted into churches. The temple of the Virgin-Goddess became a church consecrated to the VirginMother; whilst the temple of the pagan warrior Theseus was dedicated to the Christian warrior St. George.

A compendium of the history of the city will be found in Leake's Introduction to his 'Topography of Athens,' the following extracts from which will be read with especial interest :—

"Homer, the earliest of Greek historians, has left us a strong confirmation of the reality of those facts, which are not obviously fabulous, in the history of tho two great heroes of ancient Attic story, Erechtheus and Theseus. He notices tho temple of Erechtheus, and those periodical sacrifices of an ox and a sheep (IZ., ii. 546), which we know to have been performed to a very late period of Athenian superstition; and, in confirmation of the political reforms of Theseus, instead of naming all the cities of Attica, as he has done in the other provinces of Greece, he speaks of Athens alone, and of the people of Erechtheus, that terrible Aij/*or, whose first specimen of tyranny and ingratitude was the banishment of their great benefactor himself, whom ttiey left to die in exile in the island of

Scyrus During the six or seven

centuries which elapsed between tho Trojan war and the reign of Pisistratus, tho Athenians seem to have been not more engaged in foreign wars or internal commotions than was sufficient to maintain their martial spirit and free government, both of which were essential to the progress made by them in civilization, commerce, and a successful cultivation of the arts. The change of chief magistrate from king to archon for life, then to decennial and to annual archon, indicates that gradual increase first of aristocratical, and then of popular authority, which ended in a purely democratical government . . . During the ages which elapsed between the reigns of Theseus and Piaistratus,

we may suppose that tho advance of art caused the altars of the several deities, whose worship had been established, to be converted into temples, or their temples to be renewed upon a larger and more elegant plan. A body of the Pelasgio nation, distinguished as Pelasgi, Tyrrhoni, or Tyrseni, sought refuge iu Attica from their enemies, and were employed by tho Athenians to fortify tho Cecropian


"By establishing a public library, and by editing the works of Homer, Pisistratus and his sons fixed the Muses at Athens; while by raising the quadrennial revolution of the Panathenaic festival to a footing of equality with the other similar assemblies, and by upholding it during their united reigns of about 30 years, they greatly advanced the dignity of the republic among the states of Greece. .... Hitherto, however, the progress of the useful and ornamental arts had scarcely been so great at Athens as in some other parts of Greece, as at Sicyon, Corinth, iEgina, Argos, Thebes, and Sparta. Still less was she able to bestow that encouragement upon the arts which they received in tho opulent republics of Asia; for, although her territory was more extensive, and her resources already greater than those of any of the states of Greece Proper, except Sparta, they were still insufficient to bestow adequate ornament upon a city which was already tho most populous in Greece. It was to an event the most unlikely to produce such a result, that Athens was indebted for a degree of internal beauty and splendour, which no other Grecian city ever attained. The King of Persia, in directing against Greece an expedition of a magnitude unparalleled in the operations of one nation against another, made the capture of Athens his principal object. His success was most fortunate for the Athenians; for by forcing them to concentrate all their exertions in their fleet, in which they were as superior hi numbers to any of the other states of Greece as they were in skill to the Persians, it led to their acquisition of the chief honour of having obliged Xerxes to return in disgrace to Persia, followed by such a degree of influence in Greece, that even the rivals of Athens were under the necessity of giving up to her the future conduct of the war, now become exclusively naval. By theso means the Athenians acquired an increasing command over the resources of the greater part of the islands, aB well as of the colonies on the coasts of Asia, Macedonia, and Thraee; and thus, at the very moment when the destruction of their city rendered it necessary for them to renew all their principal buildings, fortune gave them sufficient means both to maintain their ascendency in Greece, and to apply a part of the wealth at their command in the indulgence of their taste and magnificence. The same sources of wealth continuing, and even increasing during the half-century which intervened between the victory of Salamis and the Peloponnesian war, the injury inflicted upon the buildings of Athens by the Persians was not only fully repaired, but those new and splendid edifices were erected which continued to be one of the chief glories of Athens, until Europe becoming too unenlightened to be sensible of the beauty of such objects, they remained for more than twelve centuries unknown or unnoticed; Greece itself during all the latter part of this time having been the prey of a race of Oriental invaders far more barbarous than those of ancient times. ....

"There are few problems more difficult of solution than to find a sufficient reason for tho perfection which the Greeks attained in the elegant arts, and for its wide diffusion among them during several centuries. Something may be attributed to the more acute perceptions, to the moro beautiful forms and colours of animato and inanimate nature, and to the brighter skies of a southern climate. Something more may be ascribed to circumstances from which we are happy to be exempt; such as tho eager collision of rivalry between small independent states, the excitement given to the imagination, and the encourage

ment afforded to tho display of its powers by a mythology closely allied to the senses, and which gavo tho honours of divinity to the productions of tho artist: even with theso advantages, to arrive at the productions of the age of Pericles required several centuries of trials and improvements, during which extreme diligence was applied by a series of gifted men to one pursuit, which, when successful, obtained as much worldly fame and advantage as that of arms, or of the conduct of public affairs. Without such an equalization of the rewards of genius and labour, science, literature, and the arts, are more degraded than encouraged or protected."

During tho Middle Ages Athens sank into a provincial town, and is rarely mentioned by the Byzantino writers. After the capture of Constantinople by the Latins in 1204, Boniface, Marquis of Montferrat, obtained the greater part of Northern Greece, which he governed under tho title of King of Thessalonica. He bestowed Athens as a Duchy upon one of his followers, a Burgundian, named Otho de la Roche; and the city remained in the hands of tho Franks, with various alternations of fortune, until its .incorporation with the Turkish empire in 1456. Tho Parthenon wag now converted from a church into a mosque. In 1687, the buildings on the Acropolis suffered severe injury in the sicgo by tho Venetians under Morosini. Hitherto tho Parthenon had stood almost uninjured for 2000 years; Spon and Wheler visited Athens in 1675, and have left an account of it as it then appeared; but in 1687 it was reduced to a ruin by the explosion of a quantity of powder which had been placed in it by the Turks.

The condition of Athens at tho closo of the 18th century is thus described by Gibbon (chap, lxii.):—

"Athens, though no moro than tho shadow of her former self, still contains about 8000 or 10,000 inhabitant*/ of these, three-fourths are Greek?

religion and Ianguago; and the Turks, who compose the remainder, have relaxed, in their intercourse with the citizens, somewhat of the pride and gravity of their national character. The olive-tree, the gift of Minerva, flourishes in Attica; nor has tho honey of Mount Hymettus lost any part of its exquisite flavour: hut the languid trade is monopolised hy strangers; and the agriculture of a barren land is abandoned to tho vagrant Wallachians. The Athenians are still distinguished by the subtlety and acuteness of their understandings: but these qualities, unless ennobled by freedom and enlightened by study, will degenerate into a low and selfish cunning; and it is a proverbial saying of the country, 'From the Jews of Thessalonica, the Turks of Negropont, and the Greeks of Athens, good Lord deliver us!' This artful people has eluded the tyranny of the Turkish bashaws by an expedient which alleviates their servitude and aggravates their shame. About the middle of the last century, the Athenians chose for their protector the Kislar Aga, or chief black eunuch of the Seraglio. This ^Ethiopian slave, who possesses the Sultan's ear, condescends to accept the tribute of 30,000 crowns: his lieutenant, the Waywode, whom he annually confirms, may reserve for his own about 5 or 6000 more; and such is the policy of the citizens that they seldom fail to remove and punish an oppressive governor. Their private differences are decided by the Archbishop, one of the richest prelates of the Greek Church, since he possesses a revenue of 1000/. sterling, and by a tribunal of the eight geronti, or elders, chosen in the eight quarters of the city. The noble families cannot trace their pedigree above 300 years, but their principal members are distinguished by a grave demeanour, a fur cap, and the lofty appellation of archon. By some, who delight in the contrast, the modern language of Athens is represented as the most corrupt and barbarous of the seventy dialects of the vulgar Greek: this picture is too darkly coloured, but it would not be easy, in the country of Plato and

Demosthenes, to find a reader, or a copy, of their works. Tho Athenians walk with supine indifference among the glorious ruins of antiquity; and such is the debasement of their character, that they are incapable of admiring the genius of their predecessors."

It is interesting to contrast the moral and material aspect of Athens since the Revolution with that so graphically described above. The town of the 18th centy. has been almost completely swept away. Tho Acropolis was again used as a fortress during the War of Independence (.1821-1827), and suffered severely from both Greeks and Turks. It was the scene of two devastating sieges and of repeated conflicts. Mr. Waddington thus describes Athens in 1824 :—" The modem town was never remarkable for beauty or regularity of construction: it has now suffered the demolition of about one-third of its buildings. Many Turkish houses were burned by tho Greeks, in the first siege of the Citadel; many Greek houses were destroyed during the occupation of the place by Omar Brioni (an Albanian general); and many of both have fallen into the streets from mere neglect. The churches and mosques have not met with greater mercy in this religious war; and even the ashes of the dead have not been allowed to repose in security." Again, when Dr. Wordsworth visited Greece in 1832, he recorded that there was " scarcely any building at Athens in so perfect a state as the Temple of Theseus."

In 1834, Athens was declared tho capital of the Kingdom of Greece; all the Turkish houses which formerly encumbered the Acropolis have been removed, and measures have been taken to preserve the existing remains of antiquity. The present town has sprung up since 1831.

III. Divisions, Extent, Population, &c.—Ancient Athens consisted of three distinct parts, united within one line of fortifications. I. The Acbopolis. II. The Asty (ta "aotu), or Upper Town, in opposition to the Lower Town of Pirtous, and therefore, in its widest sense, including the Acropolia. III. The Pobt Towns, i. e. the Pirteus, including Munychia and Phalerum.

Extent.—The entire circuit of the walls of Athens was 175 stadia (22 miles), of which 43 stadia belonged to the city, 75 to the Long Walls, and 57 to the port-towns. The Long Walls connected the city with tho sea, and were built under the administrations of Themistocles and Pericles. They consisted of the wall to Phalerum on the E., and of that to Pirams on the W., each about 4 miles in length: between these two, at a short distance from the latter and parallel to it, another wall was erected, thus making two walls loading to the Piraeus (sometiems called tho Lege, cr/ctATj), with a narrow passage between them. There were, therefore, three Long Walls in all, but that name seems to have been confined to the two leading to tho Pirseus, while that leading to Phalerum was distinguished by the appellation of the Pluilerian wall. The Long Walls were in ruins in tho timo of Pausauias. Their foundations may still be traced in many places near the road between Athens and the Pirteus.

Population, &c.—The chief authority for the population of ancient Attica is

the census of Demetrius Phalereus, taken B.C. 317. According to this census, there were 21,000 Athenian citizons, 10,000 resident aliens (m^toikoi), and 400,000 slaves. It may be assumed from various authorities that by the term citizens all the males above the age of 20 are meant. Tho aggregate of tho whole population of Attica must therefore have exceeded half a million in ancient times.

It is impossible to determine tho exact population of Athens itself. Xenophon states that the city contained upwards of 10,000 houses. If we assume about 12 persons to a house, we obtain 120,000 for tho population of tho city; and we may perhaps assign 40,000 more for tho collective population of the ports. Although wo know that the Athenians were fond of a country life, and that the deme of Acharnro alone furnished 3000 hoplites, still we cannot be very far wrong in calculating that Athens contained at least a third of tho aggregate population of Attica,

Athens was undoubtedly inferior to Borne in tho pavement of its streets, in its sewers, its supply of water, &c. But tho magnificence of tho public buildings compensated for such inferiority and for the poverty and meanness of the domestic architecture.


The Acropolis restored.

TV. Topography of the Acropolis.— | first, with respect to its natural feaThe Acropolis may bo considered, | tures; secondly, in its earlier state

before the invasion of tho Persians; thirdly, in its meridian splendour; and, lastly, in its present condition. Its general form is that of a rocky platform, of coarse red marble or highly crystalline limestone. It is very irregular in shape—its length being about 1100 feet, its extreme breadth near the middle about 450. It is precipitous, except towards the W., where a narrow neck of high ground connects it with the Areopagus. The sides of tho table-rock rise abruptly, in some places nearly 150 feet, from the steeply sloping hill-sido upon which it rests, and with which the neck just mentioned to the W. is continuous. The summit iB about 300 feet above the town, 270 above the pavement of the Theseum, and 250 above that of the temple of Jupiter Olympius. Although the Acropolis is not precipitous towards the W., the slope is steep, and that point, whilst it gives facilities for access, could bo strengthened by art. The Propylaea, which spanned the entire space between the precipices from N. to S., was made sufficiently strong in its outworks to defend the Acropolis, considered as a citadel.

When we pass the Propyla?a, and go eastwards, we find that the surface of the rock rises at first at a slope which forms a steep road, and, becoming more gentle as it proceeds, finally reaches its highest point near the eastern end of tho Parthenon. The rise between the Propyhca and this point is about 40 feet. It then falls about 15 feet to the eastern extremity of the enclosure.

In height tho Acropolis is greatly exceeded by Lycabettus, more than a mile distant to tho N.E., but it commands extensive views on every other side, excepting that tho summit of the Museum, the hill surmounted by the Monument of Philopappus to the S.S.W., rises high enough to interfere with, and to detract from, tho Acropolis from some points of view, and has often proved an inconvenient and dangerous neighbour. Both in the times of the successors of Alexander, when the town was overawed by a Macedonian garrison which occupied

that height, and still more during tho last 200 years, in the Turkish wars, irreparable injury was inflicted therefrom on the Parthenon and other monuments. Venetian, Greek, and Turkish batteries have been at various times there planted. However, the greater extent of the Acropolis makes it in the general view domineer over this eminence, and all the other contiguous heights are so subordinate as by their contrast rather to enhance its dignity than otherwise. Thus, from all sides, except from such a distance to the N.E. that Lycabettus, or from such a nearer point to the S.W. that the Museum interferes, commanding views are to be obtained of tho Acropolis. The finest of all these are from tho N.; from tho N.E., near tho King's Palace, and from the slopes of Lycabettus; from the S.E., beyond the Ilissus, not tar from the temple of Jupiter Olympius; from the slopes and summit of the Pnyx, S.S.W. and W.; and, above all, from the N.W., at the commencement of tho olive-grove near the Academy. But rides or rambles in any direction through this grove afford enchanting views of tho Acropolis, especially in an afternoon, when the temples sparkle in the sunlight, and the deep purple of the background—the " purpureos colles florentis Hymetti"—throws them out in relief. If a traveller could so disengago himself from the cares of his luggage on his arrival as to take a horse and guide at the Piraeus, and, following tho course of tho Kephissus northwards, to enter Athens by tho sacred road which leads from Eleusis by Daphne, his first impression of the Citadel of Minerva would bo moro agreeable than he would obtain by following the usual course along tho dusty road to Athens from the Pirsoua.

The Tyrrheni Pelasgi, that mysterious race, who flourished before the dawn of history, probably in the first instance occupied Athens and its Acropolis. It is not within the compass of a guide-book to go into tho question of the origin and migrations of this people. Suffice it to say that it is certain that one race, or several so

« السابقةمتابعة »