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probably of Venus, stood in the vicinity; and the inscriptions relate to the votive offerings placed within them by the piety of the devout worshippers. The foundations of the temple itself stand near by. Farther on, upon
“the Sacred Way,” as the route was called which the great procession took when the mysteries were to be celebrated at Eleusis, I came to the Monastery of Daphne. Tying my horse outside the walls, I entered the courts, which were overgrown with grass, and seemed nearly deserted. The only living thing within was a dog whom I roused too suddenly from his slumbers, and who retaliated by a show of his teeth. There were many ruins around. The old Byzantine church, a curious specimen of architecture, stands on the site of an extensive temple dedicated to Apollo. M. Buchon, the indefatigable chronicler of the Frankish domination of Greece in the Middle Ages, made an interesting discovery here a few years ago. It appears that Daphne was called Delphina in the Middle Ages, and that this church was the burying-place of the Dukes of Athens. M. Buchon found their armorial bearings upon several of the tombstones on the floor.
Remounting my horse, I pressed forward to the brow of the hill, where the plain of Athens soon burst upon my eyes. The glorious Acropolis, with its russet-tinged temple, looked like the face of an old friend; and Athens itself wore a homelike air. Beyond it the long ridge of Hymettus, and the peak of Pentelicus, on the left, were purple in the rays of the setting
But I did not pause to contemplate the scene. few minutes more I had gained the plain. Then I passed through the olive-grove, that forms a wide belt of luxuriant green on either side of the Cephissus; and, before the close of day, was again threading the streets of Athens.
See there the olive grove of Academe,
THE plain of Marathon lies about twenty-two miles distant from Athens, and, until lately, two days at least were required to visit it and return. Travelers from the West, however, are generally so pressed for time, that they have induced the guides, into whose hands they commit themselves, to devise a plan by which, with slightly increased expenditure, they may spare a day from the more numerous attractions of Athens, without at all affecting their “six months' tour in Europe.”
Finding that the visit to Marathon could now—thanks to the exertions of those gentlemen-be accomplished as conveniently in one day as in two, I joined a couple of friends in undertaking the trip. The ride being a long one, we were obliged to rise early for departure. A guide came with a carriage to my lodgings before five o'clock in the morning. After rattling a while through the narrow and roughly paved streets of the city, we came to a tolerable road, which led out into the country by the great stuccoed palace of King Otho and the more tasteful gardens in its rear. On our left was Mount Lycabettus, a high hill overhanging Athens on the northeast, from whose summit I had many a time watched the last beams of the sun falling over the golden waves of the Saronic Gulf, as it set behind the mountains of Salamis. Centuries ago, how many an anxious eye, must have been strained by those who, from the temple adorning that height, gazed upon the hostile fleets as they advanced to the engagement in yonder narrow strait of Salamis. From the stony plain at the base of the mountain, now just beginning to recover its verdure after a rainy spring, we took a northerly course toward the little village of Cephisia, at the very
foot of Mount Pentelicus. The plain—at least the part that bordered the road—was barren, and seemed almost uncultivated. But, as we approached the village, it became more fertile ; and now and then appeared a garden or vineyard, surrounded by walls of sun-dried bricks, thatched with straw or wild broom. Our carriage stopped at a small house, where we found the horses that had been sent forward the previous day awaiting us; for here, at the distance of nine or ten miles from Athens, the carriage road ceases, and the traveler must pursue his way over the mountains, upon the same rugged paths by which the natives have been content for centuries to keep up a communication with the neighboring villages.
The road wound about the northern side of Mount Pentelicus, into a valley which is a prolongation of the plain of Athens. The soil was still less fertile than before; not a village or hamlet was visible. To the north, the lofty range of Mount Parnes, which from Athens shuts off all prospect in this direction, gradually sank as we advanced eastward; and in one place displayed a narrow gap, one of the few openings between Attica and Bæotia. This was Deceleia, a famous pass in ancient times. It constituted the only communication through Parnes, with the exception of Phyle, and was therefore esteemed a most important post for defence. It was through this defile, which certainly does not appear to be a
PLAIN OF MARATHON.
very easy one, that Mardonius, with his army of Persians, retreated to Platæa, after the fight at Salamis. Sixty or seventy years later, the Lacedæmonians, who seized it in the midst of the civil wars, made it the centre of their predatory incursions into Attica. And so strong is this position, that they could not be dislodged from their post, though in full sight of Athens, not twenty miles distant.
The valley we were in soon contracted into a narrow ravine covered with various shrubs. A succession of ascents brought us to the top of the pass, overlooking the village of Vrana. Another picturesque and more thickly wooded gorge led us down to the opening of the plain of Marathon, which was spread out in beauty before us. The background of this charming scene was filled up by the mountains of Euboea, among which the rocky head of Zagoras overtopped the rest. The recent rains had given it, like some other peaks, a heavy cap of snow. Between the island and the main land was the Euripus, which is here seven or eight miles wide, and, in going northward, alternately contracts and expands, until, at Chalcis, the shores approach so near one another, that a stone might almost be thrown across the channel. The plain itself is perfectly level for five or six miles in length, and it can not be less than three miles to the nearest point of the beach. The water beyond it is quiet and glassy; for a long, low, and narrow tongue of land breaks the force of the eastern winds, and the bay thus formed is only exposed to the southern wind, or Sirocco. The ancients fancied a resemblance between this peninsula and a dog's tail; and therefore called it Cynosura. From the hillock on which we stood we could not see the tumulus. It lay hidden by the projecting spur of the mountain to our right; but the wide and shallow river of Marathona was visible in the distance, reaching the sea after a meandering course through the plain. A gap in the hills on our right was just wide enough to disclose Mount Pentelicus, covered with newly-fallen snow; and there was a ruined monastery with a single tall cypress in its garden, to serve as a foreground.
Vrana was a convenient spot for our morning meal. The sun was scarcely yet in the meridian, but a ride of several hours enabled us to do honor to the simple viands which our guide, George, drew from a capacious basket. The absence of chairs, or of any substitute which could be procured from the neighboring huts, compelled us to adopt the most common Oriental posture; and as we sat cross-legged on the turf, all the population of the hamlet collected at a short distance from us to make observations on our costume and habits. The urchins, albeit scarce a week passes without their seeing some of the “milordi,” were vastly edified with our appearance. As for the women, with the distaff in one hand, and twirling the spindle with the other, they talked and spun, until it was hard to determine whether tongue or hands were most busy.
We reached the mound raised over the slain of the battle of Marathon by pursuing an almost direct course across the fields. The roads, if mere beaten paths may be dignified with that name, are annually ploughed up in the spring; so that without any offence we could leap ditches, and dash over the fields of young wheat, as is, indeed, the universal practice in Greece. The hillock, or funeral mound, under which the hundred and ninety-two Athenians who perished in battle are buried, is perhaps thirty feet high. If its shape was ever angular, time has worn it down into a rounded form, except where the sacrilegious travelers of this century, in searching