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This place, it is supposed, occupies the site of the ancient Les
The valley into which we had crossed was cultivated with considerable care, every available spot being planted with grain. As we were yet some distance from Nauplia, we rode rapidly forward, leaving our guide to come on more leisurely with one of the horses which had lost its shoe; nor, deed, was there any thing of interest to detain us along the way. The mountains, barren and rocky on either side, presently left between them only an arid and stony glen, where the eye could scarcely rest upon a shrub or tree. Not a single hamlet did we pass, until at length, emerging from the hills, after a wearisome ride, we saw before us the Palamede of Nauplia, beneath which the quiet town nestles along the water's edge. Having overtaken our baggage train just before approaching the gates, we fell into single file, and threaded the somewhat intricate lanes of Nauplia. The “Hotel of Peace,” of my quondam friend Elias, was again our rendezvous; and albeit remarkable neither for cleanliness nor for spaciousness, we long treasured, in our subsequent wanderings, the memory of its humble luxuries.
On rising the next morning, we found the weather foul. It had been raining all night, and there were no indications of a respite. We debated the expediency of taking a carriage to make the tour of the plain of Argos; but, on inquiry, learned that the roads were too muddy for any wheeled vehicle. We sallied out, therefore, on horseback, at a little before eight, leaving our agoyates to proceed, with the baggage, along the direct road to Argos. As for ourselves, we set forth to visit the ruined cities of Tiryns and Mycenæ. I shall not detain the reader with a full description of these places, which have been mentioned elsewhere. The plain of Argos, always celebrated for its fertility, was now much more flourishing than it had been three or four weeks previous. The view of the mountains all around was, however, limited by the heavy clouds hanging over their sides. Late in the afternoon they began to break, and when we reached Argos we had ample time to climb the high and steep Larissa that overhangs the town toward the west. A winding path led us gradually around the hill, and presently we found ourselves on the summit, commanding an extensive prospect over the plain. About us were the dismantled towers and battlements of the Vene
tian or Frank fortifications, and in the middle of the castle we found a couple of large cisterns hewn out in the rock. During the late wars, the possession of this strong position was warmly contested by the Greeks and the Turks. Its almost impregnable strength commanded the passes to the south along the sea-shore, as well as the neighboring plain. But now the deserted walls are shattered and untenable. May the time never return when it shall become necessary to repair their ruins, and the sound of war shall again be heard in the depopulated valleys of Greece.
WALL OF THE CITADEL AT ARGOS.
On the morrow we rose early to accomplish the long day's journey before us. It was our purpose to reach Tripolitza that night, visiting on our way the site of ancient Mantinea. There is a steep mountain path, practicable only in the summer season, across the close range that bounds the plain on the west, separating it from the inland district of Arcadia. We soon discovered that the recent heavy fall of snow had formed a trackless waste, and we were compelled to turn considerably to the southward to reach an easier pass.' In doing so, we skirted the Lernian marsh, or, rather, left it some distance on our left. This locality, so famous as the habitual resort of the Hydra, slain by the strong arm of Hercules, is at present haunted by a no less formidable and destructive monster, in the guise of the fever or “malaria.” When another deliverer shall arise and free the country from its baleful influence, he will be quite as deserving of the remembrance of mankind as the deified hero.
Before leaving the plain of Argos, we came to the source of the Erasinus, a river which empties, after the course of a mile or two, into the Gulf. This is not a small spring, but an en
tire stream, that bursts out from the rock with great violence, and is evidently a subterraneous river. Both ancients and moderns have agreed in supposing it to be the outlet of Lake Stymphalus, full twenty-five miles distant. It is, in fact, such an opening as the modern Greeks call a katavothron ; that is, a chasm, through which a stream worms its way beneath entire chains of mountains. In the high, mountainous country of Arcadia the rains fall more abundantly than in any other part of Greece, but, at the same time, there are fewer outlets for the streams. Huge and undivided ranges oppose themselves to the progress of the waters, which, collecting in the hollow valleys, form those pretty lakes that diversify that district, and present so striking a contrast to the aridity of the neighboring regions. The whole of Arcadia, however, would soon be converted into a single pond were there not some means of discharge for the superfluous waters. Fortunately the prevailing rocks are soft, and for the most part limestone. Through them, in the course of ages, the streams have gradually worn themselves a passage, and thus, after an underground channel of several miles, find egress into the lower lands, whence, in general, they easily take their way to the
But sometimes their farther progress is not unimpeded. A second, and even a third range, interposes; and again and again the river must delve through the rocky obstacle. Not a stream succeeds in breaking through the mountains, which separate Arcadia on all sides from the adjacent states, like a continuous wall, by a uniform course, except on the west, where the rapid Alpheus finds a narrow passage through a contracted gap. All the rest appear and disappear, as if disdaining to attempt an easier exit than that directly through the bowels of the earth itself.
Such are these katavothra, of which we met quite a number in our tour in Arcadia. Naturally these holes, in time, become partially, if not entirely, choked with the accumulation of sand, wood, stone, and other materials. Then the lakes, finding an insufficient discharge for their ever-accumulating contents, rise far above their usual banks, and flood the adjoining fields and villages. This has occurred periodically for centuries. Many extraordinary swellings are mentioned as
occurring in ancient times, when, as the country was more densely inhabited, their devastations were still more extensive. Below the katavothron of Argos are situated several mills, which obtain ample motive power from the river, and directly above it is a large and curious cave, stretching back much farther than we had time to follow it. From the position it would seem very likely to have been the former channel of the stream below. The devotion of the neighboring peasants has turned a corner of the cavern into a diminutive church or chapel ; it was, however, locked, so that we did not succeed in viewing its internal arrangements. Nicholas insisted on calling the cavern “ the haunt of the Lernian hydra.”. We attempted to disabuse him of this topographical error by reminding him of the fact that Lerne lay several miles off, by the water's edge.
We now turned inland, and commenced a long and tedious ascent in a pass between the mountains, bearing the name of Ktenia and Roino, the former being nearly five thousand feet in height. The khan of Achladocampo (“ Apricot Valley”) was our resting-place at noon. This charming and retired spot was the site of the ancient town of Hysia. Its peaceful repose was once, at least, disturbed by the din of battle, when the inhabitants of Argos contested the field with the Spartans, and came off victors. The fortress of the town which was the reluctant spectator of this conflict has left some remains on the brow of one of the hills, but they seem to be of Roman construction. An upper room in the khan was soon cleared for us, and here we sat down upon a carpet spread out in the middle of the floor, to eat our mid-day meal. Several women were spinning around us. They used the antique spindle, which is twirled by being rubbed against the knee, and then left to twist the thread with the motion imparted to it. Occasionally the distaff was replenished from a large pile of cotton in one corner. Meanwhile, as we ate, we furnished them a fruitful theme of conversation, supposing, as they did, that we understood no more Greek than do most travelers from the west.
There awaited us, after leaving Hysiæ, an ascent yet more fatiguing over Mount Parthenius, which bounds the western