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TEMPLE OF JUPITER OLYMPIUS.
(With an Engraving:). MYTHOLOGISTS are much to be praised for their patience and ingenuity in labouring to reduce the history, or fable, of the chief god of the Greeks and Romans within the bounds of reason. But to say that they have succeeded would be to affirm too much. We have read such writings as the “Evangelical. Preparation" of Eusebius with far greater satisfaction than any later speculations; and when we see that the early Christian writers, who understood Paganism thoroughly, were so much in earnest to unveil its abominations, and récount its follies, we much prefer their practical study of the matter to an adoption of conjectures framed by philosophers as coverings to hide the shame of their gods, and to vindicate their worship from the contempt that it deserved. The tale of his birth, how his mother concealed him from his ravenous father Saturn, who made it a point of policy to eat up all his male children ; how.she gave old Saturn a stone instead, which he devoured, thinking it to be the infant Jupiter ; how the babe waś fed on milk and honey, and then, with marvellous precocity, when nly twelve months old, made war upon the Titans ; how many wives he had, how many children, and what feats he performed, heroic, monstrous, and abominable,-all this may be heard of elsewhere; and those who are sufficiently curious, or idle, or industrious, may study
VOL. XIX, Second Series,
the myth in Tooke's “Pantheon,” or in the Greek and
Jupiter had many names, according to the varieties of character attributed to him, or the situations wherein he was placed. He was called Anxurus, Capitolinus, Elicius, Feretrius, Fluvialis, Herceus, Inventor, Latialis, Maximus, Olympius, Optimus, Pistor, Sponsor, Tonans, Victor, &c. Even so the Virgin Mary, some of the more famous saints, and even the Saviour himself, bear a similar variety of titles in the paganized Church of Rome. Jupiter was called Olympius because he had a magnificent temple at Olympia, a town of Elis, in Peloponnesus, with a colossal statue therein, fifty cubits high, one of the “wonders of the world."
Mount Olympus, too, in Macedonia and Thessaly, was reputed to be the residence of the gods, and the court of Jupiter, their chief. It is a lofty mountain, about a mile and a half in perpendicular height, capped with perpetual snow: but the worshippers of those imaginary divinities gazed on that summit inaccessible as the seat of everlasting spring; than which fancy nothing could be more absurd. Such mountain-heights lie far beyond the line of vegetation; and the cold, silent atmospheric region into which they rise is not visited even by cloud or storm, nor does the bird of strongest wing ever mount so high.
The Olympieion, or Olympium, was one of the most ancient temples of Athens, and said to have been founded by Deucalion. But that, of course, is fabulous; and whether such a personage as Deucalion ever existed is a question. The real history of the temple, however, begins about five hundred and thirty years before the Christian era, when Pisistratus, tyrant of Athens, in whom artifice and public spirit were singularly combined, laid the foundation of a great temple to be dedicated to Jupiter Olympius. But Athens, involved in wars, could not find means to carry on the work.
In the year 174 B.C., Antiochus Epiphanes, King of Syria, whose predecessor, Antiochus the Great, had conquered the greatest part of Greece, undertook the labour of completing the edifice, and employed Cossutius, a Roman architect, to carry out the design; but on the death of Antiochus the work was interrupted. Seventyeight years afterwards, Sylla took Athens, and carried away the columns erected by Cossutius, to form part of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, in Rome. Still the completion of the greatest temple of Athens was an object cherished by the Athenians, and the Kings and states in alliance with the Emperor Augustus united their efforts for its fulfilment. Some considerable progress they made; and, at length, Hadrian, at least six hundred and fifty years after the foundation by Pisistratus, completed the building. It was one of the last efforts of Roman idolatry and pride to raise this temple, and erect within it a statue of the god; and the name of Hadrian was given to one of the porticoes. The Comte La Borde, in his work on Athens, gives a brief description of the ruin. All the columns that remain of the Portico of Hadrian, he says, are magnificent. They are of the Corinthian order, fluted, and about fiftytwo feet high, and nineteen and a half in circumference. He estimated the dimensions of the building to have been one thousand feet in length, and six hundred and eighty in breadth,
From the invasion of Attica by the Goths, in the fourth century, down to these times, the worship of Jupiter, the artistic glory of Athens, and even the names of buildings once renowned for magnificence, have passed away; while the Christianity of the conquerors had not at first, nor has it since had, power to elevate the population, to guard the monuments of the past, or to prepare other monuments for the future. It is with a strong feeling, then, of the transience of human glory, that we read of an inscription over a gate of the Olympium that was yet standing in the year 1578:
Αίδ' είσ' 'Αθήναι, Θησέως ή πρίν πόλις. * This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus.” Did the writer of this euphonius record, that still breathes the music of an ancient chorus, think that the very name of Athens would be blotted out, but for his own industrious care ? Did he cut that monostich into the marble in hope that, while Turkish barbarism reigned on the scene