Imagens das páginas




THE Isles of Greece! the Isles of Greece !

Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,

Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung !
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.
The mountains look on Marathon,

And Marathon looks on the sea,
And musing there an hour alone,

I dreamed that Greece might still be free;
For, standing on the Persians' grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.



S one sails from Malta for Greece he finds him

self on the second day in the Ægean Sea, passing here and there a Greek island, and, before the ship turns into the harbor at Piræus, the seaport of Athens, he sees the Straits of Salamis and, further away, the Eleusis, where nearly twenty-four centuries ago, in 480 B. C., Persia was defeated. It is with keen interest that one looks for the Acropolis in Athens, the capital of Greece, and mistakes one of the loftier heights for the hilltop, crowned by one of the greatest buildings in history. Hymettus, Pentelicus, Parnes, Ægina and Salamis are each in turn picked out as the Acropolis, which one finds later is partly obscured by the


[ocr errors]

buildings in Piræus and the hundreds of masts in the harbor.

Having landed in one of the small boats which crowd around the vessel, one does not wish to hurry away from the harbor around which so much of Grecian history centers. Salamis, not far away, shares with Piræus in the traditions attached to the destruction of the Persian fleet of Xerxes. It was from Piræus that the splendid Sicilian expedition started with flags flying, pæans sounding, and libations pouring. And it was to this port that the solitary survivor of that illfated campaign came back to tell the sorry tale of annihilation. While the large ships for the most part anchor outside the breakwater at Piræus, they are sufficiently near for the traveler to see the Acropolis, a small hill rising two or three hundred feet above the city of Athens, five miles distant. Piræus is connected with Athens by an electric railway, and also by a steam railway running through Corinth to Patras.

The carriage ride from Piræus to Athens is an interesting one, chiefly because the Acropolis, crowned by the Parthenon, is in view practically all of the distance. The newer road running along the beach of New Phalerum is lined with pepper-trees. Soon the carriage passes under the shadow of the Acropolis and enters the busy Place de la Constitution in the heart of Athens. Or taking the electric train at Piræus, a hrief ride brings the traveler to the Theseum Station,

[graphic][ocr errors]




and in a few minutes he is revelling in ruins antedating the Christian era.

The city of Athens is built in a valley bare and unattractive. The rivers Cephissus and Ilissus, which

. made the plain fertile in the palmy days of Greece, have left their story in the rocky courses, mainly dry, however. During the centuries the city has moved from the south and west, where it was in ante-Christian days, to the north where the present town lies. Like every city, Athens has its tenement district, its business quarter and its residential section.

The population is mainly Greek, though Turkish blood mingles with that which marks its descent from Pericles and his contemporaries. Greece, in common with other Mediterranean countries, has contributed largely to the growth of America, but in the return of many of its people, after a few years of absence, it has profited

, by their experiences and economies in the new world.

Athens presents a clean appearance to the visitor. The streets are not littered; the houses are built of stone and many of them are covered with vines, while flowers fill the gardens. One can linger in Athens for days, strolling through the modern town, but the marvelous monuments of antiquity naturally form the principal attraction, and their beauty is as great as their extent and fame.

The Acropolis is the center of interest, for assembled here are the most glorious monuments of the ancient city, and their remains still stand a wonder of all




time. Two of the finest and best preserved monuments, of the period immediately preceding the Christian era, are the Temple of Theseus and Jupiter Olympus. Other buildings of importance are the Parthenon, the Temple of Victory, the Erechtheum, the Theater of Bacchus and the Porch of Hadrian, while Mars' Hill, without a building of any kind, shares with the Christian visitor the honor shown to the Acropolis with all its famous structures.

Having reached the base of the Acropolis, one gains the summit by passing through the Propylæa, perhaps the most important secular work in ancient Athens. The staircase of marble, seventy feet in width, was built by Pericles four hundred years before the Christian era.

Along the steps were arranged statues of wonderful beauty by famous sculptors. Triumphal processions ascended this stairway to present offerings to the gods and to offer sacrifices to Athena.

Passing through the Propylæa, once the great entrance hall and gateway to the Acropolis, one sees on the right a small building with four graceful Ionic columns in front, known as the Temple of the Wingless Victory, erected in honor of Nike, the goddess of victory. The citizens placed in the temple a statue of the goddess with a palm in her hand and holding a wreath of laurel. They omitted from the goddess the customary wings, believing that without wings victory would never depart from Athens.

At the left of the Parthenon stands the Erechtheum,

« AnteriorContinuar »