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SECTION X. Of the other military defences of Athens ; namely, the
Long Walls and the Walls of the Asty. Of its Demi, Districts, and Gates.
THE happy position of Greece amidst the surrounding countries, together with the great extent of its seacoast, caused the exchange of commodities by sea to be one of the most common employments of the people, except in the central parts of Peloponnesus and the continent. Hence the most flourishing towns were in the maritime districts: but as the intricate coasts and numerous islands of this country have ever been favourable to piracy, the sites chosen for the inhabited places were generally, as Thucydides remarks, not upon, but at a small distance from, the shore'. It was doubly necessary, therefore, in a country of which the geographical conformation caused the people in general to be divided into small independent communities, living in fortresses, that the maritime towns should, as well as their harbours, be well furnished with works of defence The small sheltered basins and creeks, which abound in Greece, were at once well adapted to ancient navigation, and conveniently capable of being comprehended within the defences of the place. We
may infer, from existing remains, that scarcely any maritime town was unprovided with one or more of these klelotoi lquéves, or closed harbours, more or less indebted to art for shelter from the sea and for security from the enemy. The maritime fortress, or the city itself, if near enough to the shore, consisted of a citadel and a lower town inclosing the port. Both in the citadel and in the lower town there was often a second inclosure, and sometimes a third. In some cases the city itself was too distant from the port for any fortified communication : in others, the road from the main city to its maritime fortress was protected by two parallel walls?. Megara?, Corinth", and Sicyon', were thus provided, Argos for a short time”; and perhaps many other places, although neither historical testimony nor ancient vestiges are extant to confirm the fact. The Patrenses are mentioned by Plutarch as having been advised by Alcibiades to construct Long Walls, but Patræ stood so near the sea, that it is rather to be considered as a maritime city, which had neglected the usual custom
The general parallelism of Long Walls, and the narrowness of the space between them, may be inferred from the romance of Heliodorus, who describing (9,3) an imaginary double wall, which he represents as extending from Syene to the Nile, compares it to Long Walls, having an equal space between them of fifty feet through the whole length-είκασεν άν τις μακροίς τείχεσιν το γινόμενον, του μεν ημιπλέθρου το ίσον πλάτος δι' όλου φυλάττοντος.
? Thucyd. 1, 103. 4, 66 69. 109. Aristoph. Lys. 1172. Plutarch. Phoc. 15. Strabo, p. 391.
3 Xenoph. Hell. 4, 4, § 7. 9. 18. Agesil. 2, § 17.
4 Diodor. 20, 102. Conf. Strabo, p. 382. Pausan. Corinth. 7, 1. Plutarch. Demet. 25.
* Thucyd. 5, 82. Diodor. 12, 81. Plutarch. Alcib. 15. 6 Plutarch. Alcib. 15.
of intercepting the communication along the shore', than as standing in need of Long Walls, properly so called
To which of its cities Greece was indebted for the first example of Long Walls, we have no means of knowing. It was not Athens, because the Long Walls of Megara were constructed by the Athenians before they built their own'. It is not likely, indeed, that the Athenian Long Walls, which were longer than those of any other city, and were therefore the perfection of this kind of military work, should have been the earliest example of it. Possibly this improvement in Greek fortification was first carried into execution at Corinth or Sicyon; cities placed at a distance of little more than a mile from the sea, and in positions where such supplements to their defences were particularly important, not only as strengthening the cities, but as commanding the communication between Northern Greece and the Peloponnesus.
To Athens, a naval and commercial state not insular, and often exposed to enemies more powerful than herself in land-forces, Long Walls were peculiarly useful. They were analogous to a line of en
1 The generality of this practice, which was the most simple application of the Longomural system, and was employed in all the ages of Greek history, is exemplified at Nicæa in Bithynia, one face of which is within a short distance of the Lake Ascanius. Two walls, uniting the inclosure of the city to the shore, intercepted all communication along the latter. The extant walls of Nicæa consist indeed chiefly of repairs of the time of the Byzantine empire, but they were founded probably by some of the Greek kings of Bithynia.
* Thucyd. 1, 103.
trenchments, four miles in length, fronting towards Peloponnesus and Boeotia, which was the side of danger, and secured by a second line in the rear, and thus affording considerable protection to the whole territory behind them. To the latter purpose the nature of the ground to the eastward of the Asty powerfully contributed. Here a narrow interval separated the eastern walls of the city from the steep side of Mount Hymettus, and the pass was obstructed in two different places by fortified demi. It was scarcely possible, therefore, for an enemy to penetrate into the part of Attica situated to the south ward and eastward of Athens, but by making the circuit of Hymettus; a movement so hazardous with such a city as Athens in the rear, that only one instance of it occurs in history; namely, in the second year of the Peloponnesian war, when the Lacedæmonians, having for the second time endeavoured in vain to draw the Athenians from the protection of their walls, became convinced of the determination of Pericles to persist in the policy of remaining within the city, and were tempted to overrun Attica; marching, therefore, between Pentelicum and Hymettus into Mesogæa, they advanced even as far as Laurium in Paralia.
When, after the expulsion of the Persians from Greece, the administration of affairs fell into the hands of Themistocles, his first care, after having hastily raised the walls of the Asty during an embassy to Sparta, purposely protracted, was to inclose the ports of Peiræeus, and the whole maritime penin
sula, within walls of unexampled height, in conformity with his advice that the Athenians should rely upon the sea, rather than upon the land, for their security'. Until that time the only maritime fortress had probably been that which protected the demus and harbour of Phalerum”. But Themistocles remained in power no longer than was sufficient to commence his great works 3. The glory of completing them, as well as of building the Long Walls, was reserved for the administration of Pericles. It is doubtful even whether Themistocles ever went so far, in his views of connecting the Peiræeus with Athens, as to contemplate such an arduous undertaking as the Long Walls.
Two Long Walls are still traceable in the plain to the north-eastward of the Peiraic heights. Of the northern the foundations, which are about twelve feet in thickness, resting on the natural rock, and formed of large quadrangular blocks of stone, in that solid manner which characterized the works of Themistocles, commence from the foot of the Peiraic heights, at half a mile from the head of Port Peiræeus, and are traced in the direction of the modern road for more than a mile and a half towards the city, exactly in the direction of the entrance of the Acropolis.