A Walk In Hellas:
From Athens To Pentelicus
From Pentelicus To Parnes
From Parnes To Marathon
From Marathon To Marcopoulo
Rainy Day At Marcopoulo
From Marcopoulo To Aulis
Aulis And Chalkis
From Aulis To Thebes
Thebes And Plataea
Read More Articles About: A Walk In Hellas
From Marcopoulo To Aulis
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Two nights and one day I had remained with the host of Marcopoulo, when early in the morning of the second day I asked him for his bill. Five francs he replied. Without a grumble I handed him a piece of Greek paper money representing that sum ; then taking a final sip of recinato with him I prepared to set out. At his request I promised to give him and his house a good name, which I hope I have not failed to do.
Varvouillya who was also going to Aulis on his way to Chalkis and Thebes, had already gotten his two donkeys in trim and had started a little before me. Soon we are among the hills green with early spring and fresh with the recent shower ; the rising sun is beginning to reach out to us over the mountain tops and fling into our faces his first handful of rays. You would say that Nature just now is rubbing her eyes, about to leap out of bed into the happy daylight. At her during this operation, the traveler will gaze with unabashed joy and behold beauties never revealed to the garish midday. So for a moment imagine yourself to be the traveler, as he passes along looking up to the illuminated summits, and peering down into the verdant valleys, while he snuffs the delicate fragrance of the pine on the morning air.
Varvouillya walks also for some distance, but he enjoys the luxury of riding far more, and soon mounts the back of one of his little donkeys. These have but a slight burden, consisting merely of a saddle, two or three blankets and some provision for our luncheon. This Greek saddle is a curiosity. It is a rude scaffolding made of cross pieces and placed on the back of the donkey ; it can be straddled by no mortal rider but only by the Gods. Therefore a man when he mounts must sit in it like a chair, with both feet hanging down on one side. I never saw a Greek rider that did not keep his feet swinging to and fro, and at intervals thrust his heels into the withers of the animal which would respond not by hastening its pace, but by dropping back its ears in defiant humor.
Thus Varvouillya springs upon the donkey and settles down into the saddle as if taking his seat in his customary chair ; with shoulders slightly inclined he sits there, in dreamy relaxation of features ; his steel-gray hair falls be-low his close-fitting cap, now somewhat soiled around the edges ; feet, dressed in red-leathered, sharp-pointed pumps, are swinging stockingless, to and fro, in alternate oscillation; what is he, brigand or honest man? He professes to be a carrier of merchandise through these parts ; evidently he is a very different person from the merchant Aristides ; I do not deny being a little dubious about him. Still he is very friendly, he has repeatedly asked me to ride, but at present I much prefer the exhilaration of walking. The gait of the little donkey is slow ; I pass on in advance, then wait, sitting down upon some seat of the Nymphs to look at an attractive view, or take a note. Still the rider's feet keep going backwards and forwards, and whenever the don-key stops for a passing bite at some green bunch of leaves along the roadside, he gives a smart kick with his heels, accompanied by a deep grunt of reproof.
Soon we descend into an extensive plain and cross a small stream whose high waters have pretty well run out ; this is an encouraging sign, for we have been in some anxiety about the fording of the Asopus. The fields are musical with larks through whose song we pass till the road comes to the sea, the Euripus. Along the coast just at the edge of the water the road leads us for miles ; under the slight breeze the surface is in a gentle tremor, and the ripples beat up the shelving shore incessantly breaking at our feet. The wave-lets are good company, yet quite different from the society of the running brook ; they have a sort of absorbing fascination, as you sit and gaze at them, for you are caught into their rhythm, and break on the shore along with them. That regularity of the ripple, that ever-recurring beat of the sea be-comes one with the throb of your heart, with the flight of your moments which, like these wavelets, roll up from the the infinite sea of Time, break to pieces on the shore of the Present, then vanish into Eternity. It is never difficult for the soul to be absorbed into the sea and become harmonious with, its waters ; the sea is indeed naught but an immense musical instrument, one may imagine it to be a colossal bass-viol which sets the world throbbing to its notes. Thus the minutes of life fall to-day into a measure with the vibrations of fair Euripus, whose billowy mirror reflects the two wayfarers, who are passing on its stony beach ; at this moment I behold the form of Varvouillya crumpled in the wavelets with feet still swinging to and fro on his donkey.
It seems but a short blue span to the other side of the strait where the mountains of Euboea rise up, snow-capped, dazzling in the sun. They extend northward as far as the eye can reach, forming a kind of back-bone to the island. From the summits comes a chill air, when no current of wind interferes from another direction. A thin, narrow cloud lies on the side of the mountain, pulled into transparent fibers, like a flock of wool ; above this cloudlet is the snowy line of tops, no longer looking like marble Gods at the banquet as they did yesterday, but rather like the white teeth of the upturned jaw of a monster, ready to snap at the deities of the skies. Far above all the other summits towers the monarch of the mountainous realm called by my companion Basilicon or the Royal Mount, but more commonly named Delphi —richly ornamented on his sides with those silvery clouds, and wearing a crown made of flashing snow-crystals and sun-beams.
Above our heads the crows are flying they must not be forgotten, the naughty crows of Greek mockery. Their cry seems somewhat different from what it is at home ; more garrulous, querulous, chattering, spiteful. In irregular lines they streak the sky beyond the mountains, and pass overhead with so much angry disputation that they must be going to hold a congress or agora somewhere among the hills of Boeotia. The crow may be taken as a comic bird, full of caprice and infinite noisy loquacity a true type of certain phases of Greek rhetorical volubility.
As we skirt round the shore of the Euripus, a town appears off to the left several miles, lying calmly at a slight elevation along the hill-side. It is Oropus, the home of the merchant Aristides, and of the schoolmaster Aristoteles ; I shall not be able to pay them a visit and take you along with me as I had hoped; these worthy names we shall have to dismiss from our Greek journey. In antiquity Oropus was an important post during the border wars between Athens and Thebes ; in modern times its main distinction is derived from Takos the brigand chief who stayed here several days with his prisoners. He and his band went to church while in the town on Palm Sunday, and like good Christians devoutly performed the prescribed rites ; all of them obtained branches of the palm from the hands of the priest, and, in accordance with a religious custom of the country, switched one another for good hick with the holy sprig. Thus they thought to secure the favor of Heaven for their enterprise ; but despair not, ye true believers, for the ancient Goddess Nemesis has again arisen, angry, inexorable, and at this moment is silently casting her net from these hills ; the Greek soldiers are approaching in secrecy and have begun to surround the town.
But let us pass by the work of the Goddess for a while, and notice this plain locked in by hills, of oblong shape with the sea stretched in front. It is fertile, stubble fields dot it here and there ; it brings back to a certain degree the impression of Marathon, and is large enough to maintain quite a community, if well cultivated. It is moreover separated from its neighboring plains by hill and sea, giving to it a certain physical independence, which anciently was supplemented by a political independence.
This fact brings up the reflection which has often been made in regard to the geography of Greece, that it shows the character of the Greek people as distinctly as their spiritual products. But to the traveler these natural features with their strong suggestions become a living presence which moves at his side with every step, and gives a new utterance at each passage of a range of hills. The whole country is cut up into plains and valleys often capable of high cultivation, separated from each other by chains of mountains which it is not easy to pass. If you could look down into the country from above with a bird's eye, you would behold a territory hollowed out like the honeycomb, with cells full of honey, ready to nourish the offspring of its busy bees. There are no great plains like the valley of the Euphrates or the Mississippi ; the Earth is roused from her flat indifference into tender embraces, embosoming these clusters of small depressions ; all Greece, you would say, is but a group of rock-protected bird's nests, being in antiquity mostly those of nightingales.
Just in this physical division lies the image of the leading trait of the Greek nation. Each of these separate valleys had its own town, sometimes several of them, whose strongest characteristic was autonomy as they called it, that is, the right of governing themselves according to their own laws and institutions. Still further, each of these communities had its own special forms of worship, its own manners, even its own costume, and it sang its own song. Every village was, there-fore, an independent whole and was different from every other village in Greece. Such was the boon of individual self-development, now born into the world ; yet this very boon was the source of the disunion among the Greeks, which at last caused their downfall.
If we elevate this trait into an expression for thought, we may call it individuality. Thus, primarily the Greek territory was individualized; then the Greek man sought a bodily individuality by special gymnastic training ; in a still higher way he strove for a spiritual individuality through the Fine Arts and Philosophy ; but above all his ideal of the State was a political individuality, comprising his own community, with full autonomy.
Here then Greece stands in the strongest contrast to the Orient with its immense plains capable of nourishing millions of toiling bondmen, equal simply in servitude, as we behold in the valley of the Ganges, Indus, Euphrates, Nile. In them is the natural home of despotism, where man is as level, low, and uniform as the plain which he tills. These Greek hills enveloping Marathon will not permit subjection ; they seek to shake off an Oriental sway by their very nature ; nor on the other hand will they suffer a dull dead equality among the people dwelling under their protecting summits. In such a land freedom can be born and cradled.
But the march of empire has passed from the far East through the Greek mountains into the far West, and in this latter territory civilization has again settled down into a plain vaster than any in the Orient the valley of the Mississippi. That the center of the world's culture is destined to be in that valley at some period, is pretty generally conceded, even in Europe ;—but in what form? The Illinois prairie merely as a thing of nature, means despotism as much as the valley of the Nile ; certainly it does not signify freedom, as is sometimes stated, though it may signify equality, the dead equality of its own surface. Therefore for us arises this question : Are the institutions of man so far developed that they can overcome this gigantic nature and convert it into a perpetual realm of freedom? All of us believe that they are and that we already possess these very institutions.
But notice again this Greek landscape and connect it with our own ; it is the mediatorial element between the East and the West. The Greek mountains fought at Thermopylae and Plataeae quite as much as the Greek men. That vast Oriental plain pressing down over the land like an iron sky was pierced by the mountain tops of Greece in a thousand points and shivered to atoms. Nature was there the ally of man, nursed him, protected him; consequently her visage of freedom was taken up by the Greek into his institutions, and thus has become the possession of the race forever, for institutions are the abiding element of the World's History. Yes, though the assertion seem strange, the image of the Greek landscape has come down to us in America, and is the chief aid in solving our political problem, which is to combine the autonomy of the Greek world with the territory of the Orient.
But the second leading element of the geographical character of Greece must not be omitted ; here it is at our feet and is seldom out of our sight it is the sea. These rocky walls with their tendency to crystallize into a solitary exclusiveness are broken down and dissolved by the sea. Just as you behold mountains everywhere in Greece, so you behold from the hights almost everywhere the sea. What the mountains separate, is joined by the infinite number of straits, gulfs, bays, which bite into the coast on every side. The sea is indeed the world's highway and the world's freedom ; no chains can be laid upon it, no castle can command it, no robber can seize it and lay a toll upon exchange though it be as free to the pirate as to anybody else. The old Greek belonged quite as much to the sea as to the land; the physical character of the one gave him intercourse abroad, the physical character of the other gave him independence at home. Suddenly our reflections are stopped by the banks of a stream, muddy and swollen, which had been hitherto hidden from view by the reeds of the plain. It is now manifest that we did well in lying over yesterday, since the marks of much higher water than the present stage are visible in the tortuous line of sticks and scum along the banks. But there is still a strong current in the channel, and of course there is no bridge. What is to be done? Varvouillya offers one of his donkeys ; but I am not willing to trust myself on its little low back, with my feet quite touching the water; more-over the donkey is as likely to be swept off its legs or fall as I am. I prefer to take my bath alone, if such is to be my fate; accordingly I prepare for the only other way that of fording.
The stream is the famous Asopus, still called by the same name as in antiquity. Many a conflict has taken place along its banks, of which the most celebrated was the battle of Plataeae, fought farther up in Boeotia. It is ordinarily a sluggish reedy stream, fed from the springs and snows of Mount Kithaeron, yet liable to rapid rise from showers ; armies have been suddenly stopped on its banks by a fall of rain. Attica sought to make this stream its boundary to-wards Boeotia, hence its chief historical significance.
Dignity is not one of the articles which the traveler must take with him in a trip through Greece, it is altogether the most burdensome article he can carry. In short, I pulled off my shoes, tied them to my knapsack like a true pedestrian, and waded into classic Asopus. Mercy on us, how cold is that water ! Rightly so, for it is largely composed of melted snow from Mount Kithaeron. Then too the sharp edge of a pebble presses into the bare flesh of the foot, causing the wader to drop quite to the surface of the stream, in order to get a little relief from that unseen enemy. For crossing we had selected a place rather wide just above a swift narrow current, correctly surmising that it was the shallowest and least rapid point. But in the middle of the stream, the current was still vigorous, and the heels became remarkably light, with a continual tendency to fly up where the head was. But I splashed through without any accident, Varvoui- lya came out safely, and the donkeys feeling their way with unusual care, threw back their long ears in great astonishment and bravely made the passage.
So we forded classic Asopus, and were exalted to a triumphant vein by its success ; it was indeed a memorable feat and in memorable company. Thus, thinks the enthusiastic traveler looking back at the boiling current, must many an ancient hero have crossed this stream. Those Homeric chieftains, on their way from Pelops' isle to the grand muster at Aulis, whither we too are bound, could not avoid passing here ; behold them, in white folds, splashing through the turbid waters ; Agamemnon himself, king of men, coming up from golden Mycenae, is, you can plainly see, one of them.
But it is almost an absolute certainty that Socrates, not a dialectician on the streets of Athens now, but a heavy-armed soldier or Hoplite in the Athenian ranks marched through this plain against the Theban foe, came to this river and had to wade through its muddy current. But the waters, I surmise, did in no way cool his philosophic ardor, though they were of melting snow, nor did they prevent him from applying his all-subduing elenchus or cross-examining thumb-screw to the fellow-soldier at his side, the tanner Hyperbolus, there just in the middle of the chilling stream. But onward the philosopher marches bravely and disputes, till late one afternoon his countrymen are consummately whipped by those whom they call swinish Thebans, on on the field of Delium. The philosopher too is defeated in spite of his elenehus ; for what good will the dialectical instrument now do, brandished in the faces of angry Thebans ranked twenty-five spears deep? The philosopher had to run, run like the rest of his people, and run hard too yet after showing prodigies of valor, as was always said by his enthusiastic friends narrating the occurence. Indeed it was the first time that he was ever compelled to turn his back on the face of a foe ; these are manifestly none of those foes of the market-place, whom he never failed to make shout in excruciating contradiction by the torture of his thumb-screw.
Thus Socrates the philosopher returns to classic Asopus in a great hurry, much greater than when he crossed it going forward to Delium. Sometime in the night he must have arrived here ; without hesitation he dashed into the cur-rent wrapped in demon-breeding darkness, possibly beholding at his back phantasms of Thebans in angry pursuit ; other soldiers that I know of have had a tendency to behold similar phantasms under similar circumstances. At least the probability is that this time he did not stop a moment in the middle of the stream, nor can we imagine him now drawing out that wonderful instrument of his in order to use it upon his neighbor who is evidently in as great a hurry as himself. Still destiny bids that the philosopher be pre-served; hereafter we shall hear of him at Athens when this night's hurried tramp is over ; not by thrust of Theban spear or by a watery death in the Asopus shall he perish, but by the cup of hemlock rather the most glorious death after that one other, which has yet been recorded. But what the philosophic consciousness was evolving in the shadowy night when the plunge was made into the chilly waters is some-thing which we all would like to know.
Varvouillya gets ready to go forward while I continue to exult in the victory over the river-god : whereat the yellow-haired divinity seems to grow more angry in his turbulent tossings and writhings at my feet. Two pedestrians, Greeks, come to the opposite bank while we are waiting, and attempt the passage. One of them in white fustanella, insists upon trying where the current is narrow but swift, notwithstanding the warnings of Varvouillya. The water dashes around his naked calves, he begins to back out, but it is too late, his feet are whirled up by the current and he falls with a splash, down he floats on the surface of the stream. With violent gestures he seeks to rescue him-self, and is soon washed up against a muddy shrub which he catches hold of and crawls out on the bank. What now shall we say to the shining white fustanella after a bath in turbid Asopus and a couch upon its alluvial banks? He looks like some ancient statue, just dug up from its earthy bed, and now for the first time since many centuries exposed to sunlight, revealing many a stain in the soiled marble.
The angry river-god has shown his power, but not upon our company ; so we still exult with mingled pity for our less lucky fellow mortal.
The unfortunate man had in his hand a bundle which is now gaily dancing down the surface of the stream, till at last it is fished out by his companion. Still he lies there on the bank in white fustanella, not so white now the joyless Greek, that stained piece of marble, sunning himself waiting perchance for Apollo to instil into him courage sufficient to attempt the passage a second time. Then both of them, with some trepidation to be sure, ford the river successfully under the direction of Varvouillya, just where we had crossed it. They turn out to be two small traders who are also going to Chalkis for Monday's bazaar.
Now we begin the journey anew, six of us together, four men and two donkeys. These small, patient animals again attract my sympathy and admiration ; I have told you a little about them before, but not by any means enough, judging them by their importance. Calmly they pass before us, heavy-eyed, much enduring, with their long ears now erect, now dropping backwards ; they have the appearance of over-grown rabbits, moving in single files through the bushes. Their thin legs twirl so quickly, with such a dainty trip that there is a kind of dance in their tread, two of them now stepping in chorus ; still they can never be brought to a trot. The donkey has, in proportion to his body, a large head, which is necessary to contain his enormous gift of obstinacy. But it is the eye which is the most characteristic thing about him, showing power but indifference ; out of it he has a look of oriental resignation to the will of fate ; let come what comes, is his motto, I am going to remain a donkey. But that fate is now behind him, ever ready to overtake him, in the shape of a long gad in the hands of Varvouillya who unmercifully belabors the poor beast of destiny. Still the donkey takes it all, as a matter of course, squirms a little, possibly steps for a moment with a quicker gait, then settles down into his old tread with a complete resignation to the strokes of fate. Out of his spare flesh a bone protrudes at the haunch, covered with a very thin coat of hair, but made callous by blows from aforetime ; upon that protruding bone Varvouillya directs his strokes with a vigor of arm and certainty of aim which at first make me shiver; but I soon came to the conclusion that I was hurt worse than the animal, and so began to stop wasting my emotional nature. Indifference to the blows of destiny is the prime fact of the donkey.
A curious incident now began enacting itself under my eyes : our two new companions also started to drive the donkeys. So those three men passed along the highway, grunting, yelling and beating the two little animals, which courageously performed their part of obstinacy. The strangers were quite as zealous in their new duties as Varvouillya himself who accepted their assistance as a matter of course. This, then, I infer to be one of the customs of the country: when you meet a man on the road you must show your good will by helping him drive his donkeys. Moreover the Greek driver has a peculiar language in his dealings with his charge, which with much philological curiosity the traveler will at once set about learning. It is mainly composed of a great variety of grunts, all of which have been handed down from the ancients, I hold, like everything which the exhilarated vision beholds in Greece ; for instance, to stop is a grunt with the falling inflection ; to go on is a grunt with the rising inflection ; to turn aside is a double grunt with an aspirate. This tongue has a number of delicate shadings, all indicated by the grunt. I might be asked to give you some practical illustration of the language, but I find that I can no longer catch the true Attic accent of those sounds.
Thus we wound along the white edge of the blue silken ribbon of Euripus, flashing in the sunlight and rolling gentle wavelets which break at our feet. Sometimes the waters would move out of sight, when we entered a thicket or passed behind a hill ; but soon they would leap into view again with a laugh. But, would you believe it? Such is the power of human example, and the absorbing fascination of this Greek climate not an hour had passed before I too began driving the donkeys with the others. I even caught myself raising my staff to give the blow of destiny to the perverse little beast which had stopped just in the path before me without any perceptible cause. But Pallas Athena held my arm, and Varvouillya anticipated me with his long gad. Yet in speech I falter not, I practice with diligence the new language, and try to imagine what ancient worthy could have done the same thing in the same place. So all four of us pass along the road, grunting, shouting, and talking to the music of the beautiful blue Euripus which rolls at our feet.
Our company approaches Delisi, ancient Delium, now a small poor hamlet, but once it shone with a temple of Apollo lying at the edge of the sea and viewing white graceful forms of column and frieze in the tranquil waters. To the rear of it is a low succession of hills enclosing a small plain ; somewhere upon these hills the battle of Delium must have been fought, now chiefly famous on account of the presence Socrates. A very unimportant fact at that time, merely one Hoplite in the Athenian ranks, but now the best-known incident of the battle : thus do great men often lend to events their whole distinction. Still there is another and far deeper meaning to the struggle at Delium than the accidental presence of the philosopher ; for this combat is typical, and gives an image of all Greece at its date. It is the time of the Peloponnesian War and the Greek world is perishing through internal dissolution ; formerly it had united and maintained itself against the external power of Persia, but now it has turned its hand against itself and is in process of being destroyed from within. Such is the great transition of Greek history just this transition from the plains of Marathon to the hills of Delium ; the sympathetic traveler will leave the former with the triumphal notes of victory still ringing in his ears, but he will pass the latter rent by an in-ward sorrow and dissonance, premonitions of Hellenic decay and dissolution.
This result sprang from the extreme application of the fundamental Greek principle the principle of autonomy. With it alone, in its one-sidedness the political unity of the Hellenic race was impossible; a thousand limits were thus created, and were perpetually rasping against one another. Hence these independent communities, left to themselves and without the fear of any external power, began to grind in violent struggle. For wherever there is limitation, there is sure to be conflict; both men and states are impatient under restraints. Now if we, with that bird's eye, look down again from above into the honeycomb of Greece, we shall behold all the little cells in fierce agitation ; each is trying to burst its bonds or maintain them against some intruder. Then these small communities group themselves around two leaders, Athens and Sparta, though not without many jealousies, bickerings and acts of violence. Still further this dualism of headship enters every village and splits it into two bitter factions. What now has become of that harmonious Greek world with its nests of nightingales? Terrific discord, with the screams of vultures has succeeded —of which one echo is still resting on these hills of Helium.
Now if we wish to grasp in our thought the deep-seated source of this calamitous outcome of the Hellenic world, we must see what is lacking in the Greek consciousness, especially in the Greek political consciousness. This may be expressed in one word : Recognition. The Greek community would not, or indeed could not, recognize the right of its neighbor to be just as good, nay, to be just the same as its own right. It could not see that if it destroyed the autonomy of the little town next to it, it was destroying the principle of its own autonomy. It was a most jealous lover of its own freedom, but not of its neighbor's freedom ; but the truth of logic and history is that the freedom of its neighbor which it trampled underfoot, was at bottom its own freedom. It lacked recognition, yet there were far-off glimmerings of the principle ; in fact this principle seemed once on the point. of realization in the Achaean League. But Greece was then dying, and it never had the insight practically that right is universal, belongs to all equally, and that the nation which violates it in another is violating it in itself. For it is thus doing a deed which must return to itself, and is preparing itself for retribution through its own act. Nemesis for the individual the Greeks believed in, for we have already seen temples to that Goddess, but they knew no Nemesis for the State.
It is not difficult, with the modern world and our own form of government before our eyes, to point out the solution of the Greek political problem. It was the Confederacy with constitution and paramount governmental powers, whose object would be to remove the narrow pinching limits on the one hand, and on the other to preserve the full internal autonomy of the community. Thus the small state would be all Greece, yet it would remain itself. One half, perhaps the nobler half, the Greek seized fully and carried out, namely communal freedom, local self-government, as we call it. But the other half does not belong to his consciousness, had not yet risen in the consciousness of the world ; twenty centuries of struggle were to elapse before it could be realized. His political system perished because it was a half, because it was limited to the boundaries of his own little state for it is the law of existence that only the whole can endure.
The battle of Delium was fought between the Thebans and Athenians, two Greek neighbors who ought to have lived harmoniously together. It may be taken as an image of a hundred combats during that wretched war, and it illustrates what was transpiring on nearly every boundary between the communities of Greece. It is therefore a type reflecting much, if we look into its depths and gather its true meaning ; though so distant in time, it still seems to throw these hills into discordant undulations. But it is net the only dissonance heard upon this spot, there is a modern note of horror here which strangely mingles with that ancient clangor of arms.
Varvouillya suddenly halted his mules near a clump of bushes along the road ; he took from the saddle a kind of haversack filled with bread and cheese, and prepared lunch, for it was already past noon. Our two new companions were invited to partake with us, and were not behind us in their appreciation of the frugal meal. When it had ended, Varvouillya rose in silence and walked a few yards away, then he turned and called to me : "Here the English lord was killed. Yonder another was found murdered. Over that low hill Takos came from the direction of Oropus with his captives, pursued by the Greek soldiers. When he found that he could not escape with his prisoners, he killed two here and two further up." Saying this, the speaker stood in silence, as if lost for a moment in revery, nor did the two companions manifest a desire to say anything about the affair on this spot, though they showed that they knew all about it from beginning to end. It may be my own fancy, but I could not help thinking that they were touched with a slight terror.
But such is the final act of the drama ; that capture near Pentelicus, which was at first supposed to be a comedy, has turned out a tragedy of the bloodiest kind. When the prisoners had been assassinated in cold blood, the approaching soldiers opened fire upon the brigands ; the brother of Takos with seven of the band were slain, and four others were taken prisoners ; Takos himself with ten of the band escaped, some of whom were afterwards caught, and executed.
This event has injured Greece more than all her other faults and misdeeds put together ; yet it is hard to see how the Greek government can be blamed for the occurrence. Certainly it tried to prevent the crime and punish the criminals; the band did not belong within the borders of Greece, and had been hunted from place to place by Greek soldiers before Takos suddenly appeared at Pentelicus. The chief reproach which can be cast upon it is, that it paid too much attention to English advice. Yet it is chiefly the English press and the English government which have sown this unjust judgement through the world. Greece was called in the newspapers and was treated as a nation of brigands, in spite of the most evident facts to the contrary. Over one hundred peasants and shepherds were arrested for having furnished aid or in-formation to the band ; two English barristers were sent from London to watch the proceedings a piece of bullying the more reprehensible on account of the weakness and embarrassment of poor Greece. Most of the arrested persons were acquitted on account of a total want of evidence against them ; a few were sentenced to various degrees of punishment. Such was the action of the Greek government.
It must be granted, on the other hand, that there had been too much toleration of brigandage among a portion of the Greek peasants, and that some of them had a tendency to turn brigand with good opportunity. The effect of Turkish oppression which drove the strong man to outlawry and the weak man to passive submission to wrong, may not have wholly ceased under a free government. But this occurrence has wrought a change. When the peasant saw his neighbor taken from home and brought to trial for having aided a brigand, his ideas of justice and duty underwent a revolution. He felt that a terrible unseen power was on the track of the evil doer, and as has been already stated, he came to believe again in a Nemesis who pursues the wicked act. Some such feeling, vague and dark, yet real, the traveler will come in contact with among the people. It is healthy let the Gods be again believed in, though they be not worshiped as of old.
But wherever a wrong has been done, there must follow the penalty ; if England has been guilty of injustice, Nemesis will be upon her, for the Goddess is universal in her sway, and not merely for the Greeks. So it turned out : the worst compromised man, the only man of social standing, and the sole educated man among those arrested for abetting the brigands, was an Englishman, son of the proprietor of an extensive estate in Euboea. Shall we then say that English gentlemen are supporters of brigands? Not by any means; but let them not make this charge against the Greeks on such grounds ; if it be unjust, Nemesis will bring it home to themselves. For the Goddess has arisen once more, and in swift anger is determined to requite the guilty act, by whomsoever it be committed.
Such is Delium with its two jarring notes, an ancient and a modern one, both indicating the deep-seated discordant throes of their respective epochs. But let us flee from these horrible dissonances and follow the donkeys into some harmonious spot ; they are now passing over a line of low hills covered with brushwood. Even among the brambles there is the interest of a delightful antiquity, for all of these bush-es and plants have been fragrantly preserved in classical poetry. Here is the arbute known to readers of Theocritus and Virgil with its bright red berry resembling the straw-berry in look but not in taste ; sometimes it is called the strawberry tree. The schinos or wild mastic not the aromatic mastic of Chios so much used in the East for its fragrance is here with its ancient name stilt, just as it was uttered by the Sicilian shepherd ; its leaves are employed for tanning, according to my informant, one of the new comers. Pine grows in abundance, often chipped for its resinous ooze to put into the recinato ; a species of scrub-oak is very common yet there are no tall trees making a forest. One of my companions tells me the names and uses of the various shrubs ; to my special delight he points out the wild olive, on which the tame one is grafted to produce the hardy tree. Who can forget that it was one of the trees which furnished cover to Ulysses, asleep, after his shipwreck near the Pheacian isle, and from whose concealment he came forth to greet fair Nausicaa? So every bush, every flower has, be-sides its native virtues, the delicious fragrance of old Greek poetry which rises up like incense from these green hills.
Since I am trying to take you with me, I must not allow you even at the risk of repetition, to lose from your view the mountains, besnowed above and green below, that always accompany us just across in Euboea. There is still that thin flock of translucent cloud, bound immovably to the brow of the range, while above its tattered strip the white summits point upwards on which the snow is sparkling in the sunbeams ; silvery garments with golden lining apparel the bights in regal magnificence you will say before you can get the sentiments fully under control. Soon again we come out of the brushwood to the Euripus growing bluer in the deeper haze of the afternoon, yet with the same tremulous play of the wavelets rolling against the beach. The mountains and the, waters have gone along with us all day hundreds of times the traveler looks at them with the same fresh delight and wonders if he cannot in some manner carry them with him forever. Glance at them once more and turn away.
From early morning I have walked, helping to drive the two donkeys no small labor ; Varvouillya now repeats his invitation to ride. This time I accept, for I must confess to growing weary. He gives me the smaller and more tract-able of the two donkeys ; it has no bridle or halter or head-gear of any kind whereby it can be directed, but it patiently follows the other and elder donkey upon which Varvouillya himself is mounted, swinging his feet. Our two companions have fallen behind and we are again alone. With an easy spring one lights in the saddle, that Greek saddle, very comfortable and convenient, though very awkward. There I sit sidewise, swinging my feet also, often thrusting my heels back into the flanks of the animal and grunting out commands in imitation of Varvouillya; at all of which the donkey would merely lay back his ears and move just as slow as before. But he felt the increased burden, and began to meditate how to get rid of it. Wherever there was a bush or limb along the way, he was certain to rub as close to it as possible. The first two or three times I might have forgiven as accidental, but by the repeated brushings I received when there was no necessity, I was forced to the conclusion that the rascal was trying to scrape me off. He had a great advantage over me, as he was without bridle or halter ; the only thing I could do was to lean down from the scaffolding of the saddle and box his long ears in the right direction. Then with what supreme innocence he would lay them back, till in fact I would feel ashamed of myself, as having done him a wrong. But at last he did catch me ; he was taking me straight into a thorn-bush, there was no escape, I whirled and sprang off on the other side, with considerable agility, I thought. Then for the first time during the day, I was going to declare, during my whole life, I saw a donkey run. It was a clear confession of guilt on his part.
But Varvouillya was soon after him with the gad of destiny, and his meek eyes at once showed complete resignation to the decree of fate, and to the burden of my body. Now if you can bring before you the two small donkeys, patiently stepping along, the one behind the other, with the two riders listlessly sitting sidewise, and swinging their feet, you will have an image of our cavalcade as late one afternoon amid a golden languor of classic sunbeams it entered the village of Vathy, lying on the harbor of ancient Aulis. Varvouillya halted before a wineshop where we were to remain for the night; the people of the town, mostly Albanian, flocked around us in a white throng of fustanellas; Varvouillya seemed to know everybody.
Although it be just a touch of self-praise, to which you will have to get used at intervals, I am compelled to say that the old fellow appeared to be proud of his companion. Ile was at first astonished to see me persist in walking gentlemen in Greece usually ride, he said ; but when I forded the Asopus, I had taken a lofty place in his esteem. That a man who talked high Greek and read books should go in such fashion over the country, was something quite unheard of. " Yet," said he, " that is the only way to find out any thing about us. Those gentlemen who rush rapidly through the land on horseback, know nothing of our people." I was glad to have such a sensible approval of my way of traveling.
Then Varvouillya exhibited me in that place to the astonished multitude, with extravagant phrases making them believe that I had lately arrived from the moon. We went up the road on a visit through the village, a crowd followed in a long train, little children peeped around the corners of the houses at the stranger in Frankish garments, wives with babes in their arms glanced through the half-opened doors, peasants returning from the fields stopped their beasts of burden in the street, and eagerly inquired: Who is it? What is it? The people were bringing me to the wonder of their village, an old man, formerly a sailor, who spoke Italian well and a little English, but the latter tongue he had about forgotten. I found the Nestor of the hamlet at his hearth sitting in his arm-chair a man who had seen all parts of the world, and whose talk was full of experience and a natural wisdom. He possessed also a quiet humor which would suddenly dash through the wrinkles of his face, lighting up its aged furrows with a glow like that of the phosphorescent sea in the wake of his ship. After many an adventure he has returned to his native town and is here passing a sunny old age sunny with good reason, for at his side is now sitting a young Greek wife with a babe in her arms. No, he is not old there is no old age in Iphigenia's Aulis. But I must be off ; after drinking of his hospitable wine and at request exchanging names, I find my way back to the wineshop without Varvouillya, who has gone to take care of his donkeys. There also generous citizens insist ,upon my taking with them a draught of recinato ; I return the friendly bumper, then slip out the back-door and wander off alone in the dusk to the sea side which is not far away. There I sit down at the edge of the water.
Here, then, is the bay of Aulis where the Greek fleet assembled for the expedition to Troy. The Euripus forms at this point quite a large quadrangular basin, protected by hills ; in the center of the basin rises an island, rounded off to the full firm swell of a virginal breast, on the top of which one places, in defiance of the antiquarians, the temple of the chaste huntress Artemis, and the sacrifice of the young virgin Iphigenia. The sparkling water at one time plays over a sandy beach, at another time it hides itself under projecting rocks which have been eaten away underneath by the ceaseless nibbling of the waves. One can still see in the dusk the ancient heroes bringing up their dark ships alongside of this protending rock, and then leaping on shore, in order to go to the tent of the chieftain for important deliberation. Achilles, the type of eternal youth, who prefers dying young with enduring glory to passing an unglorious life in his own country, has left his aged father Peleus in his Phthian home on the banks of the Spercheios and has arrived, not unwilling to meet the hour when he must die, but thus live forever ; Ulysses, the man of intelligence, hence the man who has to endure, gifted with infinite subtlety and just for that reason meshed in infinite struggle, has left behind a young wife and child in sunny Ithaca, and has come to give his wisdom to the expedition ; Nestor, the white-haired eloquent sage of the Greeks, from whose tongue words dropped sweeter than honey, who had lived three generations of men, and is therefore old enough to stay at home, is also present, with his two sons, having come all the way from sandy Pylos to join the great Hellenic enter-prise. Youth and age, bravery and wisdom are all represented and now flit in white robes through the palpitating twilight.
And what is this trouble about? Helen the most beautiful woman of Greece has been carried away to Troy ; but the East shall not have her such is the universal shout of Hellas, of its old and its young, of its wisdom and its valor. Now the chieftains are assembled, preparing to attempt the heroic work of recovery ; they have quit their country, have left behind in many cases their own wives and little ones a chaste Penelope and an infant Telemachus in other words have given up State and Family, for the sake of runaway Helen, of dubious fame but of surpassing beauty. Still it is a national undertaking, altogether the most nation-al undertaking of the Greeks, for they were more united in the expedition to Troy than they were in driving back the Persian ; they were more ready to do without freedom than without beauty.
But as one looks at these shapes tripping through the twilight, there seems to be sometimes a little hesitation, a little doubting as to the success of the enterprise. One is emboldened to address them in words of prophetic confidence : Courage, oh ye long-haired Achaeans, I predict that ye will not only restore Helen, but that ye will take Troy itself and raze it to the ground. Helen will be brought back to Greece, there to remain yours forever, but only after ten weary years of struggle. And thou, Ulysses, dearest of all my friends here, thou too wilt return, though thou hast before thee a greater task than even the restoration of Helen. Ten years first must thou battle before Troy for her sake, then ten years more hast thou to wander through things visible and invisible till thou reach sunny Ithaca and chaste Penelope.
But the brusque shade turned and asked me : What, oh child of the setting sun, art thou doing here, among us hoary shapes of eid, in our struggle with the sons of the Dawn? I answered: I too am in pursuit of Helen, I have come to Aulis, I also wish to go with you to Troy.
A wild goose spattered overhead, the ghosts of the old chieftains at once vanished, slowly I returned to the wine-shop, wondering how a ridiculous goose could put to flight all the heroes of Troy.