Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

bish of the Propylæa a marble fragment of a pedestal, with this inscription :

***** XODIHE HOHTHPA ******** KAEOE **

APISTOTEAH ********** POE **** " That is—***OF WISDOM LEADER ****** GLORY **** To ArisTOTLE **** The three last letters of the original inecription, POE, are probably the termination of the name of Alexander. At all events, mutilated as the inscription is, it affords incontrovertible evidence of the accuracy of Pausanias.

"Another similar discovery, not quite so interesting, but important as corroborative of Pausanias, is this: he states that ‘at the entrance of the Acropolis is a statue of Mercury, which they call EPMHE IIPOITY LĀIOE-Hermes Propylæus, or Mercury before the gate.' Mr. Pittakys found on the very spot designated by Pausanias a fragment inscribed,

ΕΡΜΗΙΠΡΟΠΥΛΑΙΩΙΑΠΟΛΙΣ:* clearly denoting, that it was a dedication by THE CITY TO HERMES PROPYLÆUS.

“Another is still more interesting. Pausanias says, that near the temple of Diana in the Acropolis was a statue of Enobius, who had moved the decree recalling from exile the historian Thucydides, the son of Olorus. The text of Pausanias is here very obscure; Mr. Pittàkys collects from it, that there was also a statue of Thucydides himself near that of his friend. I see no warrant for this interpretation; but the main fact is clear-that here stood a statue in some way commemorative of the decree for the recall of Thucydides. Now on this same spot has been lately found the fragment of a pedestal inscribed,

ΘΟΥ ΚΥΔΙΔΗΣ ΟΛΩΡΟΥ

THUCYDIDES, THE SON OF OLORUS. • This was probably a fragment of the inscription of the statue either of Enobius, who obtained the recall of Thucydides, or of the historian himself.” Gifford, 101.

The history of the dilapidation of the Parthenon and its sister temples, would show how little time has had to do with it, how much man, civilized man. The architect built, as the old painter painted, for eternity, and the massive Doric pile seems as though it might bid defiance to its natural enemies, storms and cold, in that climate, for ten thousand years. It is sad to think that within less than two centuries the Parthenon was as entire as when Pericles first opened it to the admiration of

* To those not in the habit of seeing this kind of inscription, it may be as well to observe, that what we call the iota subscriptum is always expressed by an I after the vowel; so that this would be read,

Ερμη Προπυλαίω η Πόλις.

hich does respect the " is one of the gut a large nuen magazine

Athens, bating only the slight corrosion of the atmosphere. No one can look without indignation upon the marble pillars shattered by the cannon balls, -at the same time he is reminded of the strength of the structure by the fact that some of these pillars have received the direct stroke of the shot without having moved from their places. The Venetians led the way in the wholesale destruction. During a siege by them of the Acropolis, converted by the Turks into a fortress, a powder magazine in the Parthenon exploded and blew out a large number of the columns at the sides. It is one of the horrors of war that it does not always respect the productions of art, the destruction of which does not diminish the strength of the enemy. Yet modern warfare does seek, as far as possible, to confine its attacks to fortresses (as the Acropolis was at this time); and the wanton destruction of public or private buildings is justly branded with infamy. We regard therefore the destruction by the Venetians with far less indignation than that deliberate dilapidation in time of peace by Lord Elgin, under the paltry plea that it was necessary in order to preserve the marbles, just as though the efforts which the government made to obtain the marbles would not have availed, if made with the Turks with a view to their preservation; to say nothing of the most noticeable fact, that the figures, which in their place on the frieze were so full of life and beauty, must necessarily, in the British museum, seem disconnected, and show to their utmost disadvantage every blemish; and we have no doubt that the impression of the great majority of those who visit those celebrated remains, is one of almost unmingled disappointment. Besides, the loss was not only of that which was actually taken away, but in the necessary destruction attendant upon the removal of parts so firmly bound to the . whole, and the loosening of what remained. Dr. Clarke gives this account of the removal of one of the metopes.

66 After a short time spent in examining the several parts of the temple, one of the workmen came to inform Don Battista that they were then going to lower one of the metopes. We saw this fine piece of sculpture raised from its station between the triglyphs ; but the workmen endeavoring to give it a position adapted to the projected line of descent, a part of the adjoining masonry was loosened by the machinery; and down came the fine masses of Pentelican marble, scattering their white fragments with thundering noise among the ruins. *** Looking up, we saw with regret the gap that had been made; which all the ambassadors of the earth, with all the sovereigns they represent, aided by every resource that wealth and talent can now bestow, will never again repair.”

Under the present government every fragment of antiquity is preserved with the most scrupulous care; rubbish is cleared away, and restorations attempted according to the limits of a shallow treasury, and clouds of crows now wheel their slow circles above the Acropolis and settle upon the ruins secure from the gun of the fowler, who spares them lest a chance shot should injure some valued remain.

The irregular surface of the Acropolis becomes so narrow at the western extremity that the plan was suggested of erecting a massive gateway which should fill up the whole space, and serve, at the same time, as a defence and a magnificent introduction to the sacred splendors within. This gateway consisted of a kind of open colonnade flanked by two wings of solid and massive masonry. On the left hand as you approach was the public picture gallery-faded tints yet cover the walls—and in front of this north wing, a lofty pedestal of white marble, evidently designed for a statue, still remains. This, from the inscription, must have been that of Agrippa. The Propylæa was finished in five years, and was ranked with the Parthenon among the wonders of Grecian art, demanding the praise of foreigners as well as natives, as is shown by a quotation made by Mr. Wordsworth from a speech of Epaminondas, who wished the Thebans to strive to transfer the glory of Athens to their own city. “Oh men of Thebes, you must uproot the Propylæn of the Athenian Acropolis and plant them in front of the Cadmean citadel.” We cannot forbear a quotation illustrative of the ancient glories of the place :

66 The Propylæa stood like a splendid frontispiece, a indavyès noóOwnov, of the Athenian citadel. If we might compare the whole Acropolis to one of our own minsters planted on a hill, the Propylæa were its west door. It was this particular point in the localities of Athens which was most admired by the Athenians themselves; nor is this surprising: let us conceive such a restitution of this fabric as its surviving ragments suggest; let us imagine it restored to its pristine beauty; let it rise once more in the full dignity of its youthful stature; let all iis architectural decorations be fresh and perfect; let their moulding & be again brilliant with their glowing tints of red and blue; let the coffers of its soffits be again spangled with stars, and the white marble antæ be fringed over, as they were once, with their delicate e mbroidery of ivy leaf; let it be such a lovely day as the present day of November--and then let the bronze valves of the fine gates of the Propylæa be suddenly flung open, and all the splendors of the inierior of the Acropolis burst at once upon the view,

Õwe ofɛ • %. t. d. Aristoph. Equites 1326.

But ye shall see! for the opening doors I hear of the Propylæa, Shout, shout aloud ! at the view which appears of the old time-honored

Athenae, Wondrous in sight, and famous in song, where the noble Demus

abideth.WORDSWORTH, 115.

A little without the gate was the place assigned to a temple of Victory Apteros,- for by such a representation the Athenians sought to secure the favor of the Deity-mentioned by Pausanias and noticed by travellers as lately as 1681. Subsequently however it disappeared, and doubts were started as to its existence, or at least as to its position, when, in recently removing a Turkish battery which stood in front of the entrance, the remains of the lost temple were discovered, fragments of pillars and entablatures taken down and laid aside. The present government have collected the fragments and re-erected the building on its original foundations. This place has been assigned too as that from which Ægeus cast himself down on seeing the black sail of Theseus. Gifford remarks: “It does not seem to me, that Pausanias' expression warrants this interpretation." He then quotes the Greek, and translates it as follows:

On the right of the Propylæa is the temple of Victory without wings; THENCE the sea is visible-INTO WHICH Ægeus (as they say) threw himself and perished.

* This appears more in accordance with the generally received story of Ægeus having thrown himself into the sea which bears his name, as well as with the location. The spot indeed is little fitted for such a suicide, being the least precipitous of the entire rock; and why should the sea be called Ægean, only because it was visible from an inland cliff, where Ægeus, if he had thrown himself down would only have broken his bones? In short, we resolved to adhere to the old opinion that Ægeus was drowned in the Ægean.”.

* Mr. Wordsworth says: “ This particular spot commands a wide prospect of the sea. From this spot Ægeus threw himself when he saw the black sail on his son's mast. ** Writers, with few exceptions, make Ægeus throw himself from the rock of the Acropolis into the sea, which is three miles off, in order to give a name to the Ægean, which etymology is refuted by the word Ægean alone. The sea is Aiyačou atékayos; but the adjective from Ægeus is Aiyžios." p. 108.*

The best position for viewing the Parthenon is from the Musæum, a hill about a quarter of a mile to the S. W. of the Acropolis. From that point the spectator has a side view, but

* Col. Leake, in his Topography of Athens, gives the same version as Mr. Wordsworth. Taylor, in his translation of Pausanias, the same as Mr. Gifford.

at an angle so oblique as to conceal the loss of the central columns, while the distance is so great that the loss of the ornamented frieze is not perceived; but a close examination is necessary to show the massiveness and beauty of the structure,-its floor, composed of solid blocks of marble nearly a foot thick,the polished walls of the cella, so far as they remain,-the pillars from the quarry of Pentelicus, the different stones so nicely joined that the joint is frequently not perceivable. The length of this matchless temple is 228 feet, its breadth 108; of the fiftyone columns by which it was surrounded, nineteen, if we mistake not, were thrown down by the explosion of the magazine in 1687. But, in the midst of the general wreck, there are some vestiges of ancient custom remaining, of peculiar interest. One of these circumstances Mr. Wordsworth thus beautifully notices :

“At Pompeii the impression of the ancient cyathus, which is at this day visible on the marble slab of the shop there, is one of those incidents, --touching perhaps more sensibly because its touch is so slight,-which makes the spectator feel towards the old inhabitants of that place as towards acquaintances who have just left him. This feeling, and more than this, arises naturally in the mind, when you look on the eastern front of the Parthenon, and see beneath its metopes the impressions which have been left there by the round shields which were once attached to its marble face. Beneath them are visible also the traces of the inscriptions which recorded the names of those by whom those shields in battle had been won. * * * There is reason to think that those very shields of which we now see the impressione, had caught the eye of Euripides, and that they suggested the expression, by the mouth of his chorus, of a wish for repose and tranquillity, which in a long war that poet himself so deeply felt:

May my spear idle lie, and spiders spin
Their webs about it! May 1, Oh may I, pass
My hoary age in peace !
Then let me chant my melodies, and crown
My gray hairs with a chaplet !
And let me hang a Thracian target high
Upon the peristyle of Minerva's fane.'

6 The chorus itself which sang these lines as it danced in the orchestra beneath us, probably pointed to these shields from the theatre, which is immediately below the eastern front of the Parthenon on which they were hung. The Parthenon was the only temple of Minerva at Athens that possessed a peristyle.” p. 118.

To an Athenian, the view from the Parthenon must have been most inspiring. At his feet, on whichever side he turned, re

« PoprzedniaDalej »