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VICTORY OF THE CATALANS.
to have served merely to keep up a communication between the town and the fortress.
The vicinity of Orchomenus was the scene of a battle of considerable interest about the year A.D. 1310. The “Catalan Grand Company," a band of Spanish adventurers, had hired themselves to Walter de Brienne as auxiliary troops. When the Duke of Athens found them too dangerous and unruly subjects, and commanded them to depart, they refused to do so unless their arrears should be paid up, and they be permitted to march into the Morea. They consequently took up their station on the banks of the Cephissus, near Orchomenus, and awaited the attack of the duke, who soon appeared at the head of fifteen thousand men. The Catalans had well chosen their ground. They had turned the course of the Cephissus upon the low lands that intervened between them and the enemy; but the quagmire was concealed by the growth of grass clothing the fields. The first impetuous onset of the gallant knights in the train of the duke involved them in inextricable confusion. Horse and rider floundered and fell in the deceitful bog; retreat was cut off by the very numbers of the army; and all the cavalry fell an easy prey to the cunning Catalans. The rest of the Athenian host, deprived of their duke and generals, turned their backs and fled. Athens itself fell speedily into the hands of the strangers, who for seventy-five years enjoyed the possessions of their former masters. The good old chronicler, Muntaner, oberves that after the victory many a stout Catalan soldier received as wife a noble lady, for whom the day before he would have accounted it an honor to have been allowed to hold a washbasin.*
We had climbed the hill on foot, leaving our caravan to proceed by the plain. We now detected it in the distance below, skirting the northeastern base of the bill, and engaged in following what is called in modern Greek parlance a “kake scala.” The term is applied to any rough ascent, especially where the rock has been hewn out in steps. It is no uncommon thing for the traveler to proceed for a quarter of an hour over what is thus appropriately styled a “bad staircase.” It is wonderful to see with what ease the beasts of burden, however heavily laden, ascend paths that would be difficult, if not impossible, for horses differently trained. This is owing in part to the manner in which they are shod, with irons covering the whole under surface of the foot.
* Finlay, Mediæval Greece and Trebizond, p. 175.
We soon rejoinedł our company, who had taken this bad road, as we learned, because of the lake which comes up to the very base of the hill.
We had now before us a ride of two hours and a quarter (not more than seven or eight miles, at the slow rate we were obliged to travel) to the village of Exarcho. The plain was well cultivated, but presented no objects of interest. Just before reaching the village we turned to the left to visit an ancient acropolis, that of Abæ. Here was the seat of another of those famous oracles whose responses obtained great renown; and the Apollo of Abæ was said to be more ancient than his namesake at Delphi. This was one of those upon whose predictions Creesus relied, and misinterpreted or was deceived by it. Xerxes, with his fire-worshipping Persians, committed the temple to flames. The hill is defended on two sides by precipitous rocks, and elsewhere by a couple of parallel walls, about a hundred yards apart, covering the most accessible parts. Their construction is of the second style of Pelasgic masonry, in which the stones are beautifully fitted to one another. Near the principal gate, we noticed with curiosity and admiration a short detached wall, in which, as though for ornament's sake, the stones are large and accurately cut on the edges into circular arcs, and joined in the closest manner.
We retraced our steps to the road, and found our way to the khan of Exarcho, where our Arabian Janni had prepared for us a good dinner, turning to account all that the village could furnish in the way of eatables. When night came, a curtain, formed of H.’s Scotch plaid, was all that screened us fi'om the rest of the household, who were quite numerous.
The women of Exarcho and of some of the neighboring villages wear a singular and characteristic costume. Their hair, in general remarkably long and abundant, is braided, and hangs down behind in a cue. To the end of this is attached a long ribbon, and at the lower extremity of the ribbon a number of silver coins and medals dangle almost about the feet of the wearer. Every rare piece of money goes to augment the value of this costly head-dress, unless it be added to a corresponding ornament around the neck. The dress is a cotton gown reaching the ankles, over which is worn a short flannel dress without sleeves; both being confined by a wide belt around the waist. The head is covered with a handkerchief hanging down behind, and the feet are thrust into short, pointed slippers. Altogether, the appearance of a handsome Exarchiote woman is well set off by this costume, of which she is naturally proud. As for beauty, we have been disappointed, in our travels so far, in discovering so little of it. The hard domestic toils to which the Greek girl is subjected, almost from infancy, commonly destroy all traces of fine looks, and give the gait and form of old age to those in whom we look
for the freshness and elasticity of youth. We certainly saw as many as ten handsome men, where we found one female whose face was above mediocrity: a fact that would lead us to infer much respecting the tyranny with which the feebler sex are treated in Greece, even if we did not know that they
are considered the servants, rather than the companions and equals, of men.
Leaving Exarcho, which is a retired place, and somewhat remote from the direct road to Thessaly, we found our way in less than an hour to the ruins of Hyampolis, at Vogdana. The circuit of the walls incloses a small space—six or seven hundred feet long, and half as wide-on very level ground. We followed these walls through their whole extent, and found them to belong, like most of the ruined fortifications in this vicinity, to what may be called the third epoch of Greek masonry—that is, the period when
the materials began to be laid in courses, though by no means regular or of uniform height.*
* The masonry of the Greeks, as exhibited in the remains of their fortified cities and tombs, may be conveniently referred to three styles or orders, only the third of which seems to have been employed in historic times. To the first, or Cyclopean order, are to be attributed those walls of Tiryns, for instance, and part of those of Mycenæ, which are built of ponderous masses of stone, scarcely fitted to one another by the chisel, and whose crevices are filled by the insertion of smaller stones. In the second, or Pelasgic, the walls are constructed of polygonal stones, their edges adapted to each other with wonderful precision, and often presenting a smoother and more beautiful face than those of either of the other classes. In the third order the stones become quadrangular, or nearly so, and are laid in regular courses. The second style is known
Soon after passing Hyampolis, the road emerged from the hills, and we entered a valley running westward, and situated along the northern base of Mount Parnassus, of which it commands at every point a magnificent view. At Drachmani, where we stopped at noon, we sent our pack-horses forward toward Pundonitza, while we rode, for a quarter of an hour, to the site of the important city of Elatea. The ruins are very insignificant; but, singularly enough, whereas in most cases the temples and public edifices alone have escaped entire ruin, and not a trace is to be seen of the private houses, here the area of the ancient city is covered with long lines of stones, forming, perhaps, the foundations of the dwellings of the people. In one place, however, there were remains of the pavement and cella of a small temple, whose interior seems to have been divided by a cross wall. The ground upon which the city stood is slightly inclined, and the position was not in itself a very strong one. Yet Elatea, placed on the great route Jeading from Thessaly into Beotia, was, after Thermopylæ, the key of Greece.
Almost the first notice we have of Elatea, is the statement that in Xerxes' expedition into Greece it shared the fate of many other cities of Greece, and was destroyed with fire. But the most interesting incident in its history is connected with its seizure by Philip of Macedon in his advance upon Athens (B.C. 338). Although Demosthenes had not ceased to portray their danger, the Athenians seemed struck with judicial blindness, and could not be induced to believe that the wily king was endeavoring, by his intrigues, to compass their destruction. The potent spell, which even the enchantments of Demosthenes' eloquence was not sufficient to overcome, remained unbroken, till the blow that seemed to seal the fate of the Grecian republics fell suddenly upon the sleepers. Its asto have been generally discontinued previous to the fourth century before the Christian era, and polygonal masonry was in use at least as far back as the seventh or eighth centuriesmperhaps much earlier. The Cyclopean mode of construction was employed, in all probability, for many ages anterior to that period, and is undoubtedly the oldest yet discovered in Greece. For a discussion of this subject, the reader may consult LEAKE, Travels in the Morea, i., 377, and C. O.-MÜLLER, Ancient Art and its Remains, p. 20–22.