Athens - The Theatre Of Dionysus - The Areopagus
( Originally Published 1913 )
THERE are few recent excavations about Athens which have been so productive as those along the south slope of the Acropolis. In the conflicts and the wear of ages, a vast quantity of earth, and walls, and fragments of buildings has either been cast, or has rolled, down this steep descent, so that it was with a certainty of good results that the Archeological Society of Athens undertook to clear this side of the rock of all the accumulated rubbish. Several precious inscriptions were found, which had been thrown down from the rock ; and in April 1884 the whole plan of the temple of Æsculapius had been uncovered, and another step attained in fixing the much-disputed topography of this part of Athens.
And yet we can hardly call this a beginning. Some seventy years ago a very extensive and splendidly successful excavation was made on an adjoining site, when a party of German archaeologists laid bare the Theatre of Dionysus—the great theatre in which Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides brought out their immortal plays before an immortal audience. There is nothing more delightful than to descend from the Acropolis, and rest awhile in the comfortable marble arm-chairs with which the front row of the circuit is occupied.
They are of the pattern usual with the sitting portrait statues of the Greeks—very deep, and with a curved back, which exceeds both in comfort and in grace any chairs designed by modern workmen? Each chair has the name of a priest inscribed on it, showing how the theatre among the Greeks corresponded to our cathedral, and this front row to the stalls of canons and prebendaries.
But unfortunately all this sacerdotal prominence is probably the work of the later restorers of the theatre. For after having been first beautified and adorned with statues by Lycurgus (in Demosthenes's time), it was again restored and embellished by Herodes Atticus, or about his time, so that the theatre, as we now have it, can only be called the building of the second or third century after Christ. The front wall of the stage, which is raised some feet above the level of the empty pit, is adorned with a row of very elegant sculptures, amongst which one—a shaggy old man, in a stooping posture, represented as coming out from within, and holding up the stone above him—is particularly striking. Some Greek is said to have knocked off, by way of amusement, the heads of most of these figures since they were discovered, but this I do not know upon any better authority than ordinary report. The pit or centre of the theatre is empty, and was never in Greek days occupied by seats, for here in the earliest times the chorus performed their dances, and sang their odes. But now there is a circuit of upright slabs of stone close to the front seats, which can hardly have been an arrangement of the old Greek theatre. They are generally supposed to have been added as a barrier when the building came to be used for contests of gladiators, which Dion Chrysostom tells us were imported from Corinth to Athens in his day.
All these later additions and details are, I fear, calculated to detract from the reader's interest in this theatre, which I should indeed regret—for nothing can be more certain than that this is the veritable stone theatre which was built when the wooden one broke down, at the great competition of Aeschylus and Pratinas ; and though front seats may have been added, and slight modifications introduced, the general structure can never have required alteration. The main body of the curved rows of seats have no backs, but are so deep as to leave plenty of room for the feet of the people next above; and I fancy that in the old times the right of sitting in the front rows was not given to priests, but to foreign embassies, along with the chief magistrates of Athens. The cost of admission was two obols to all the seats of the house not specially reserved, and such reservation was only for persons of official rank, and by no means for richer people, or for a higher entrance money—a thing which would not have been tolerated, I believe, for an instant by the Athenian democracy. When the state treasury grew full with the tribute of the subject cities, the citizens had this sum, and at times even more, distributed to them in order that no one might be excluded from the annual feast, and so the whole free population of Athens came together without expense to worship the gods by enjoying themselves in this great theatre.
It is indeed very large, though exaggerated statements have been made about its size. It is generally stated that the enormous number of 30,000 people could fit into it—a statement quite absurd ; and it is not nearly as large as other theatres, viz. at Syracuse, at Megalopolis, or at Argos. This also is certain, that any one speaking on the stage, as it now is, can be easily and distinctly heard by people sitting on the highest row of seats now visible, which cannot have been far from the original top of the house. Such a thing is impossible where 30,000 people, or any crowd approaching that number, could be seated. We hear, however, that the old actors had recourse to various artificial means of increasing the range of their voices, which shows that in some theatres the difficulty was felt ; and in the extant plays asides are so rare that it must have been thought difficult to give them with effect.
In one respect, however, the voice must have been more easily heard through the old house than it now is through the ruins. The back behind the actors was built up with a high wooden structure to represent fixed scenes, and even a sort of upper storey on which gods and flying figures sometimes appeared—an arrangement which of course threw the voice forward into the theatre. There used to be an old idea, not perhaps yet extinct, that the Greek audiences had the lovely natural scenery of their country for their stage decoration, and that they embraced in one view the characters on the stage, and the coasts and islands for miles behind them. Nothing can be more absurd, or more opposed to Greek feeling on such matters. In the first place, as is well known, a feeling for the beauty of landscape as such was almost foreign to the Greeks, who never speak of the picturesque in their literature without special relation to the sounds of nature, or to the intelligences which were believed to pervade and animate it: a fine view as such had little attraction for them. In the second place, they came to the theatre to enjoy poetry, and the poetry of character, of passion, of the relation of man and his destiny to the course of Divine Providence and Divine justice—in short, to assume a frame of mind perfectly inconsistent with the dis-tractions of landscape. For that purpose they had their acting place, as we now know, filled in at the back with high painted scenes, which in earlier days were made of light woodwork and canvas, to bear easy removal, or change, but which in most Græco-Roman theatres, like the very perfect one at Aspendus, or indeed that of Herodes Atticus close by at Athens, were a solid structure of at least two storeys high, which absolutely excluded all prospect.
But even had the Athenians not been protected by this arrangement from outer disturbance, I found by personal investigation that there was no view for them to enjoy ! Except from the highest tiers, and therefore from ,the worst places, the sea and islands are not visible, and the only view to be obtained, supposing that houses did not obstruct it, would have been the dull, somewhat bleak, undulating hills which stretch between the theatre and Phalerum.
The back scenes of the Greek theatres were painted as ours are, and at first, I suppose, very rudely indeed, for we hear particularly of a certain Agatharchus, who developed the art of scene-painting by adopting perspective. The other appurtenances of the Greek theatre were equally rude, or perhaps I should say equally stiff and conventional, and removed from any attempt to reproduce ordinary life—at least this was the case with their tragedy, their satyric dramas, and their older comedy, which dealt in masks, in fixed stage dresses, in tragic padding, and stuffing-out to an unnatural size, in comic distortions and indecent emblems—in all manner of conventional ugliness, we should say, handed down from the first religious origin of these performances, and maintained with that strict conservatism which marks the course of all great Greek art. The acting ground was long and narrow, the means of changing scenes cumbrous, and not frequently employed ; the number of the actors in tragedy strictly limited—four is an unusual number, exceptionally employed in the second OEdipus of Sophocles. In fact, we cannot say that the Greek drama ever became externally like ours till the comedies of Menander, and his school. These poets, living in an age when serious interests had decayed, when tragedy had ceased to be religious, and comedy political, when neither was looked upon any longer as a great public engine of instruction or of censure, turned to pictures of social life, not unlike our genteel comedy ; and in this species of drama, we may assert that the Greeks, except perhaps for masks, imitated the course of ordinary life.
It is indeed said of Euripides, the real father of this new comedy, that he brought down the tragic stage from ideal heroism to the passions and meannesses of ordinary men ; and Sophocles, his rival, the supposed perfection of an Attic tragedian, is reputed to have observed that he himself had represented men as they ought to be, Euripides as they were. But any honest reader of Euripides will see at once how far he too is removed from the ordinary realisms of life. He saw, indeed, that human passion is the subject, of all others, which will permanently interest human thought ; he felt that the insoluble problems of Free Will and Fate, of the mercy and the cruelty of Providence, were too abstract on the one hand, and too specially Greek on the other ; that, after all, human nature as such is the great universal field on which any age can reach the sympathy and the interest of its remotest successors. But the passions painted by Euripides were no ordinary passions—they were great and unnatural crimes, forced upon suffering mortals by the action of hostile deities ; the virtues of Euripides were no ordinary virtues they were great heroic self-sacrifices, and showed the Divine element in our nature, which no tyranny of circumstances can efface. His Phædra and Medea on the one hand, his Alcestis and Iphigenia on the other, were strictly characters as they ought to be in tragedy, and not as they commonly are in life; and in outward performance Euripides did not depart from the conventional stiffness, from the regular development, from the somewhat pompous and artificial dress, in which tragedy had been handed down to him by his masters.
They, too, had not despised human nature—how could they? Both .Aeschylus and Sophocles were great painters of human character, as well in its passions as in its reasonings. But the former had made it accessory, so to speak, to the great religious lessons which he taught ; the latter had at least affected to do so, or imagined that he did, while really the labyrinths of human character had enticed and held him in their endless maze. Thus, all through Greek tragedy there was on the one hand a strong element of conventional stiffness, of adherence to fixed subjects, and scenes, and masks, and dresses—of adherence to fixed metres, and regular dialogues, where question and answer were balanced line for line, and the cast of characters was as uniform as it is in the ordinary Italian operas of our own day. But, on the other hand, these tragic poets were great masters of expression, profound students not only of the great world- problems, but of the problems of human nature, exquisite masters too of their language, not only in its dramatic force, but in its lyric sweetness ; they summed up in their day all that was great and beautiful in Greek poetry, and became the fullest and ripest fruit of that wonderful tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which even now makes those that taste it to be as gods.
Such, then, were the general features of the tragedy which the Athenian public, and the married women, including many strangers, assembled to witness in broad daylight under the Attic sky. They were not sparing of their time. They ate a good breakfast before they came. They ate sweetmeats in the theatre when the acting was bad. Each play was short, and there was doubtless an interval of rest. But it is certain that each poet contended as a rule with four plays against his competitors ; and as there were certainly three of them, there must have been twelve plays acted ; this seems to exceed the endurance of any public, even allowing two days for the performance. We are not fully informed on these points. We do not even know how Sophocles, who contended with single plays, managed to compete against Euripides, who contended with sets of four. But we know that the judges were chosen by lot, and we strongly suspect, from the records of their decisions, that they often decided wrongly. We also know that the poets sought to please the audience by political and patriotic allusions, and to convey their dislike of opposed cities or parties by drawing their representatives in odious colours on the stage. Thus Euripides is never tired of traducing the Spartans in the character of Menelaus. Aeschylus fights the battle of the Areopagus in his Eumenides.
But besides all this, it seems that tragic poets were regarded as the proper teachers of morality, and that the stage among the Greeks occupied somewhat the place of the modern pulpit. This is the very attitude which Racine assumes in the Preface to his Phèdre. He suggests that it ought to be considered the best of his plays, because there is none in which he has so strictly rewarded virtue, and punished vice. He alters, in his Iphigénie, the Greek argument from which he copied, because, as he tells us (again in the Preface), it would never do to have so virtuous a person as Iphigenia sacrificed. This, however, would not have been a stumbling-block to the Greek poet, whose capricious and spiteful gods, or whose deep conviction of the stain of an ancestral curse, would justify catastrophes which the Christian poet, with his trust in a benevolent Providence, could not admit. But, indeed, in most other points the so-called imitations of the Greek drama by Racine and his school are anything but imitations. The main characters and the general outline of the plot are no doubt borrowed. The elegance and power of the dialogue are more or less successfully copied. But the natural and familiar scenes, which would have been shocking to the court of Louis XIV.—' ces scènes entremêlées de has comique, et ces fréquents exemples de mauvais ton et d'une familiarité choquante,' as Barthélémy says—such characters as the guard in the Antigone, the nurse in the Choephoroe, the Phrygian in the Orestes, were carefully expunged. Moreover, love affairs and court intrigues were everywhere introduced, and the language was never allowed to descend from its pomp and grandeur. Most of the French dramatists were indeed bad Greek scholars,' and knew the plays from which they copied either through very poor translations, or through the rhetorical travesties surviving under the name of Seneca, which were long thought fully equal to the great and simple originals.
So the French of the seventeenth century, starting from these half- understood models, and applying rigidly the laws of tragedy which they had deduced, with questionable logic, from that very untrustworthy guide, our text of the Poetics of Aristotle, created a drama which became so unlike what it professed to imitate, that most modern French critics have occupied themselves with the contrasts of old Greek tragedy to that of the modern stage. They are always praising the naïveté, the familiarity, the irregularity of the old dramatists ; they are always noting touches of common life and of ordinary motive quite foreign to the dignity of Racine, and Voltaire, and Alfieri. They think that the real parallel is to be found not among them, but in Shakespeare. Thus their education makes them emphasise the very qualities which we admit, but should not cite, as the peculiarities of Greek tragedy. We are rather struck with its conventionalities, with its strict adherence to fixed form, with its somewhat stilted diction, and we wonder how it came to be so great and natural within these trammels.
Happily the tendency in our own day to reproduce antiquity faithfully, and not in modern recasting, has led to the translating, and even to the representing, of Greek tragedies in their purity, and it does not require a knowledge of Greek to obtain some acquaintance with these great masterpieces. Robert Browning, Dean Milman, Mr. Arthur S. Way, Mr. Whitelaw, and many others, have placed faithful and elegant versions within our reach. But since I have cautioned the reader not versed in Greek against adopting Racine's or Alfieri's plays as adequate substitutes, I venture to give the same advice concerning the more Greek and antique plays of Mr. Swinburne, which, in spite of their splendour, are still not really Greek plays, but modern plays based on Greek models. The relief produced by ordinary talk from ordinary characters, which has been already noticed, is greatly wanting in his very lofty, and perhaps even strained, dialogue. Nor are his choruses the voice of the vulgar public, combining high sentiments with practical meanness, but elaborate and very difficult speculations, which comment metaphysically on the general problems of the play. There is nothing better worth reading than the Atalanta in Calydon. The Greek scholar sees everywhere how thoroughly imbued the author is with Greek models. But it will not give to the mere English reader any accurate idea of a real Greek tragedy. He must go to Balaustion's Adventure, or Aristophanes' Apology, or some other professed translation, and follow it line for line, adding some such general reviews as the Etudes of M. Patin.).
As for revivals of Greek plays, it seems to me not likely that they will ever succeed. The French imitations of Racine laid hold of the public because they were not imitations. And as for us nowadays, who are more familiar with the originals, a faithless reproduction would shock us, while a literal one would weary us. This at least is the effect which the Antigone produces, even with the modern choruses of Mendelssohn to relieve the slowness of the action. But, of course, a reproduction of the old chorus would be simply impossible?
As to old Attic comedy, it would be even more impossible to recover it for a modern public. Its local and political allusions, its broad and coarse humour, its fantastic dresses, were features which made it not merely ancient and Greek, but Athenian, and Athenian of a certain epoch. Without the Alexandrian scholiasts, who came in time to recover and note down most of the allusions, these comedies would be to the Greek scholar of to-day hardly intelligible. The new Attic comedy, of which Terence is a copy, is indeed on a modern basis, and may be faithfully reproduced, if not admired, in our day. But here, alas ! the great originals of Menander, Philemon, and Diphilus are lost to us, and we must be content with the Latin accommodations.
New light has been thrown upon the arrangement of the Attic stage by the researches and the speculations of Dr. Dörpfeld. He denies altogether the existence in the purely Greek theatre of any raised stage, and holds that the actors played on the same level as the chorus, which occupied the orchestra or pit of the theatre. The historic evolution of the matter seems to me as follows : In the earliest epoch the audience gathered to see the dancing, and hear the singing of the chorus only, with occasional solos from the leader of the chorus, and the best way to accommodate a crowd was to raise tiers of seats all round a circular or oval dancing ground. Thus the earliest form would be, not a theatre, but what we call an amphitheatre. The steep slope of a hill would be naturally chosen to form one side of it ; the opposite side would be built up with wooden stands or hustings, containing tiers of seats. We hear of an occasion when the wooden part of the old theatre broke down, causing loss of life, and then, we are told, the Athenians built a theatre of stone. This seems to me misleading. One half of any natural theatre must always have been of stone or earth. But it is very likely that the breakdown of the wooden structure coincided with the moment when tragedy was developing out of the old Dionysiac choruses, and when not only some permanent decoration to represent the residence of the characters was required, but also dressing-rooms to conceal those who were not actually playing, till the moment of their entry. Hence the theatre was no longer rebuilt oval or circular, but a small section was cut off and adorned as the front of a palace with doors, through which the actors came on, but to the same level as the chorus in the central orchestra. From the ascending tiers of the new horse-shoe auditory, excavated in a suitable hillside, a large crowd could see and hear the new plays. The chorus could also address the actors, and even join in the action, without ascending any stairs, for there was no separation between stage and orchestra, save that the actors naturally played immediately in front of their house, so as not to turn their backs to any part of the audience.
This simple and sensible arrangement lasted so long as the chorus remained an integral part of the drama. But when it ceased to be so, and the large orchestra was left empty, it was but natural that important Hellenistic or Roman personages should be accommodated with seats such as our pit stalls. Then it be-came necessary to raise the level of the actors, and so we have in most Greek theatres, such as that in which we are now sitting, a raised stage of the Roman epoch, which was quite foreign to the original building.
This theory is no mere matter of curiosity in stage architecture. It helps us to understand the intimate relations of actors and chorus. For this latter was not only a spectator, but often an actor also, and dialogues between actors on a higher level of twelve feet, and the chorus below (the old theory) would really be ridiculous.
I know very well that there are still advocates of the old view, and that it will be as hard to persuade them in this, as it has been in the capacity of the Attic theatre, though any man of common sense can see the truth for himself. But I strongly advise the reader to regard the theatre from this point of view, which I have not adopted without a careful study of the evidence.'
But I have delayed too long over these Greek plays, and must apologise for leading away the reader from the actual theatre in which he is sitting. Yet there is hardly a place in Athens which calls back the mind so strongly to the old days, when all the crowd came jostling in, and settled down in their seats, to hear the great novelties of the year from Sophocles or Euripides. No doubt there were cliques and cabals and claqueurs, noisy admirers and cold critics, the supporters of the old, and the lovers of the new, devotees and sceptics, wondering foreigners and self-complacent citizens. They little thought how we should come, not only to sit in the seats they occupied, but to reverse the judgments which they pronounced, and correct with sober temper the errors of prejudice, of passion, and of pride.
Plato makes Socrates say, in his Apologia (pro vita sua), that a copy of Anaxagoras could be bought on the orchestra, when very dear, for a drachme, that is to say for about 9d. of our money, which may then have represented at least our three shillings in value. The commentators have made desperate attempts to explain this. Some say the orchestra was used as a book-stall when plays were not going on—an assumption justified by no other hint in Greek literature.
Others have far more absurdly imagined that Plato really meant you could pay a drachme for the best seat in the theatre, and read the writings of Anaxagoras in a fashionable play of Euripides, who was his friend and follower. Verily a wonderful interpretation !
If the reader will walk with me from the theatre of Dionysus past the newly excavated site of the temple of Aesculapius, and past the Roman-Greek theatre which was erected by Hadrian or Herodes Atticus, I will show him what Plato meant. Of course, this later theatre, with its solid Roman back scenes of masonry, is as interesting as the Theatre of Dionysus to the advocates of the unity of history ! But to us who are content to study Greek Athens, it need not afford any irrelevant delays. Passing round the approach to the Acropolis, we come on to a lesser hill, separated from it by a very short saddle, so that it looks like a sort of outpost or spur sent out from the rock of the Acropolis. This is the Areopagus—Mars' Hill—which we can ascend in a few minutes. There are marks of old staircases cut in the rock. There are underneath, on our left and right, as we go up, deep black caverns, once the home of the Eumenides. On the flat top there are still some signs of a rude smoothing of the stone for seats. Under us, to the north, is the site of the old agora, once surrounded with colonnades, the crowded market-place of all those who bought and sold and talked. But on the descent from the Areopagus, and, now at least, not much higher than the level of the market-place beneath, there is a small semicircular platform, backed by the rising rock. This, or some platform close to it, which may now be hidden by accumulated soil, was the old orchestra, possibly the site of the oldest theatre, but in historical times a sort of reserved platform, where the Athenians, who had their town bristling with statues, allowed no monument to be erected save the figures of Harmodius and Aristogiton, which were carried into Persia, replaced by others, afterwards recovered, and of which we may have a copy in the two fighting figures, of archaic character, now in the Museum of Naples. It was doubtless on this orchestra, just above the bustle and thoroughfare of the agora, that booksellers kept their stalls, and here it was that the book of Anaxagoras could be bought for a drachme.
Here then was the place where that physical philosophy was disseminated which first gained a few advanced thinkers ; then, through Euripides, leavened the drama, once the exponent of ancient piety ; then, through the stage, the Athenian public, till we arrive at those Stoics and Epicureans who came to teach philosophy and religion not as a faith but as a system, and to spend their time with the rest of the public in seeking *tit novelties of creed and of opinion as mere fashions with which people chose to dress their minds. And it was on this very Areopagus, where we are now standing, that these philosophers of fashion came into contact with the thorough earnestness, the pro-found convictions, the red-hot zeal of the Apostle Paul. The memory of that great scene still lingers about the place, and every guide will show you the exact place where the Apostle stood, and in what direction he addressed his audience. There are, I believe, even some respectable commentators who transfer their own estimate of S. Paul's importance to the Athenian public, and hold that it was before the Court of the Areopagus that he was asked to expound his views. This is more than doubtful.
The blasés philosophers, who 'probably yawned over their own lectures, hearing of a new lay preacher, eager to teach and apparently convinced of the truth of what he said, thought the novelty too delicious to be neglected, and brought him forthwith out of the chatter and bustle of the crowd, probably past the very orchestra where Anaxagoras's books had been proselytising before him, and where the stiff old heroes of Athenian history stood, a monument of the escape from political slavery. It is even possible that the curious knot of idlers did not bring him higher than this platform, which might well be called part of Mars' Hill. But if they chose to bring him to the top, there was no hindrance, for the venerable Court held its sittings in the open air, on stone seats ; and when not thus occupied, the top of the rock may well have been a convenient place of retirement for people who did not want to be disturbed by new acquaintances, and the constant eddies of new gossip in the market-place.
It is, however, of far less import to know on what spot of the Areopagus Paul stood, than to understand clearly what he said, and how he sought to conciliate as well al to refute the philosophers who, no doubt, looked down upon him as an intellectual inferior. He starts naturally enough from the extraordinary crowd of votive statues and offerings, for which Athens was remarkable above all other cities of Greece. He says, with a touch of irony, that he finds them very religious indeed,' so religious that he even found an altar to a God professedly unknown, or perhaps unknowable? Probably S. Paul meant to pass from the latter sense of the word which was, I fancy, what the inscription meant, to the former, which gave him an excellent introduction to his argument. Even the use of the singular may have been an intentional variation from the strict text, for Pausanias twice over speaks of altars to the gods, who are called the, mysterious, but I cannot find any citation of the inscription in the singular form. However that may be, our version does not preserve the neatness of S. Paul's point : 'I find an altar,' he says, 'to an unknown God. Whom then ye unknowingly worship, Him declare I unto you. But then he develops a conception of the great One God, not at all from the special Jewish, but from the Stoic point of view. He was preaching to Epicureans and to Stoics—to the advocates of prudence as the means, and pleasure as the end, of a happy life, on the one hand; on the other, to the advocates of duty, and of life in harmony with the Providence which governs the world for good. There could be no doubt to which side the man of Tarsus must incline. Though the Stoics of the market-place at Athens might be mere dilettanti, mere talkers about the great soul of the world, we know that this system of philosophy produced at Tarsus as well as at Rome the most splendid constancy, the most heroic endurance—I had almost said the most Christian benevolence. It was this stern and earnest theory which attracted all serious minds in the decay of heathenism.
Accordingly, S. Paul makes no secret of his sympathy with its nobler features. He describes the God whom he preaches as the benevolent Author of the beauty and fruitfulness of Nature, the great Benefactor of mankind by His providence, and not without constant and impressive witnesses of His greatness and His goodness. But he goes much further, and treads close upon the Stoic pantheism when he not only asserts, in the words of Aratus, that we are His offspring, but that 'in Him we live, and move, and have our being.'
His first conclusion, that the Godhead should not be worshipped or even represented in stone or in bronze, was no doubt quite in accordance with more enlightened Athenian philosophy But when he proceeded to preach the Resurrection of the Dead, then even those who were attracted by him, and sympathised with him, turned away in contempt. The Epicureans thought death the end of all things. The Stoics thought that the human soul, the offspring—nay, rather an offshoot—of the Divine world-soul, would be absorbed into its parent essence. Neither could believe the assertion of S. Paul. When they first heard him talk of Jesus and Anastasis they thought them some new pair of Oriental deities.
But when they learned that Jesus was a man ordained by God to judge the world, and that Anastasis was merely the Anastasis of the dead, they were greatly disappointed ; so some mocked, and the rest excused themselves from further listening.
Thus ended, to all appearance ignominiously, the first heralding of the faith which was to supplant all the temples and altars and statues with which Athens had earned its renown as a beautiful city, which was to overthrow the schools of the sneering philosophers, and even to remodel all the society and the policy of the world. And yet, in spite of this great and decisive triumph of Christianity, there was something curiously prophetic in the contemptuous rejection of its apostle at Athens. Was it not the first expression of the feeling which still possesses the visitor who wanders through its ruins, and which still dominates the educated world ?—the feeling that while other cities owe to the triumph of Christianity all their beauty and their interest, Athens has to this day resisted its influence ; and that while the Christian monuments of Athens would elsewhere excite no small attention, here they are passed by as of no import compared with its heathen splendour. There are very old and very beautiful little churches in Athens, ces délicieuses petites églises byzantines,as M. Renan calls them. They are very peculiar, and unlike what one generally sees in Europe. They strike the observer with their quaintness and smallness, and he fancies he here sees the tiny model of that unique and gorgeous building, the cathedral of S. Mark at Venice. But yet it is surprising how little we notice them at Athens. I was even told—I sincerely hope it was false—that public opinion at Athens was gravitating towards the total removal of one, and that the most perfect, of these churches, which stands in the middle of a main street, and so breaks the regularity of the modern boulevard !
I have now concluded a review of the most important old Greek buildings to be seen about Athens. To treat them exhaustively would require a far longer discussion ; and there are, moreover, smaller buildings, like the so-called Lantern of Demosthenes, which is really the Choragic monument of Lysicrates, and the Temple of the Winds, which are well worth a visit, but which the traveller can find without a guide, and study without difficulty.
But incompleteness must be an unavoidable defect in describing any city in which new discoveries are being made, I may say, monthly, and where the museums and excavations of to-day may be any day completely eclipsed by materials now unknown, or scattered through the country. Thus, on my second visit to Athens, I found in the National Bank the wonderful treasures exhumed by Dr. Schliemann at Mycenae, which are in themselves enough to induce any student of Greek antiquity to revisit the town, however well he may have examined it in former years. On my third visit, they were arranged and catalogued, but we have not yet attained to any certainty about the race that left them there, and how remote the antiquity of the men that possessed them. These considerations will vindicate the inadequateness of this review in the eyes of the exacting reader, who may have expected a more thorough survey.