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Argolis was the eastern portion of the Peloponnesus,
watered by the Saronic Gulf, whose original inhab-
itants were Pelasgi. It boasted of the cities of
Argos and Mycenae, the former of which was the oldest city
of Greece. Agamemnon reigned at Mycenae, the most power-
ful of the kings of Greece during the Trojan war.

Laconia, at the southeastern extremity of the peninsula,
was the largest and most important of the States
of the Peloponnesus. It was rugged and moun-
tainous, but its people were brave and noble. Its largest
city, Spai'ta, for several generations controlled the fortune
of Greece, the most warlike of the Grecian cities.



Chap, xiii.] The Islands of Greece. 151

Messenia was the southwestern part of the peninsula —
mountainous, but well watered, and abounding in

' - . . , _ Messenia.

pasture. It was early coveted by the Lacedaemo-
nians, inhabitants of Laconia, and was subjugated in a series
of famous wars, called the Messenian.

Such were the principal States of Greece. But in connec-
tion with these were the islands in the seas which surrounded
it, and these are nearly as famous as the States on the main
land.

The most important of these was Crete, at the southern ex-
tremity of the yEgean Sea. It was the fabled birth-

. Crete.

place of Jupiter. To the south of Thrace were
Thasos, remarkable for fertility, and for mines of gold and
silver ; Samothrace, celebrated for the mysteries of Cybele ;
Imbros, sacred to Ceres and Mercury. Lemnos, in latitude
forty, equidistant from Mount Athos and the Hellespont,
rendered infamous by the massacre of all the male inhabitants
of the island by the women. The island of Euboea stretched
along the coast of Attica, Locris, and Boeotia, and was exceed-
ingly fertile, and from this island the Athenians drew large
supplies of corn — the largest island in the Archipelago, next
to Crete. Its principal city was Chalcis, one of the strongest
in Greece.

To the southeast of Euboea are the Cyclades — a group of
islands of which Delos, Andros, Teno's, Myconos, The c>
IsTaxos, Paros, Olearos, Siphnos, Melos, and Syros, cladcs -
were the most important. All these islands are famous for
temples and the birthplace of celebrated men.

The islands called the Sporades lie to the south and east
of the Cyclades, among which are Amorgo, Ios, The g or _
Sicinos, Thera, and Anaphe — some of which are ades -
barren, and others favorable to the vine.

Besides these islands, which belong to the continent of
Europe, are those which belong to Asia — Tenedos, small but
fertile; Lesbos, celebrated for wine, the fourth in Lesbos, and
size of all the islands of the ^Egean ; Chios, also islands.
famed for wine ; Samos, famous for the worship of Juno, and



152 Geography of Ancient Greece. [Chap. XIII.

the birthplace of Pythagoras ; Patmos, used as a place of
banishment ; Cos, the birthplace of Apelles and Hippocrates,
exceedingly fertile ; and south of all, Rhodes, the largest
island of the JEgean, after Crete and Eubcea. It was
famous for the brazen and colossal statue of the sun, seventy
cubits high. Its people were great navigators, and their
maritime laws were ultimately adopted by all the Greeks
and Romans. It was also famous for its schools of art.

Such were the States and islands of Greece, mountainous,
in many parts sterile, but filled with a hardy, bold, and ad-
venturous race, whose exploits and arts were the glory of the
ancient world.

The various tribes and nations all belonged to that branch
of the Indo-European race to which ethnographers have
Origin of the given the name of Pelasoian. They were a people

Grecian ua- «. • • -t t -h

tions. of savage manners, but sufficiently civilized to till

the earth, and build walled cities. Their religion was poly-
theistic — a personification of the elemental powers and the
heavenly bodies. The Pelasgians occupied insulated points,
but were generally diffused throughout Greece ; and they
were probably a wandering people before they settled in
Greece. The Greek traditions about their migration rests on
The Peias- no certain ground. Besides this race, concerning
glans- which we have no authentic history, were the Le-

leges and Carians. But all of them were barbarous, and have
left no written records. Argos and Sicyon are said to be
Pelasgian cities, founded as far back as one thousand eight
hundred and fifty-six years before Christ. It is also thought
that Oriental elements entered into the early population
of Greece. Cecrops imported into Attica Egyptian arts.
Cadmus, the Phoenician, colonized Beeotia, and introduced
weights and measures. Danaus, driven out of Egypt, gave
his name to the warlike Danai, and instructed the Pelasgian
women of Argos in the mystic rites of Demetus. Pelope is
supposed to have passed from Asia into Greece, with great
treasures, and his descendants occupied the throne of Argos.
At a period before written history commences, the early



Chap. XIII.] The Hellenes. 153

inhabitants of Greece, whatever may have been their origin,
which is involved in obscurity, were driven from their settle-
ments by a warlike race, akin, however, to the Pelasgians.
These conquerors were the Hellenes, who were be- The He] _
lieved to have issued from the district of Thessaly, lenes-
north of Mount Othrys. They gave their name ultimately
to the whole country. Divided into small settlements, they
yet were bound together by language and customs, and cher-
ished the idea of national unity. There were four chief divi-
sions of this nation, the Dorians, iEolians, Achaaans, The J3oii-
and Ionians, traditionally supposed to be descended ans '
from the three sons of Hellen, the son of Deucalion, Dorus,
^Eolus, and Xuthus, the last the father of Achaeus, The Aehre-
and Ion. So the Greek poets represented the ans "
origin of the Hellenes — a people fond of adventure, and
endowed by nature with vast capacities, subsequently devel-
oped by education.

Of these four divisions of the Hellenic race, the ^Eolians
spread over northern Greece, and also occupied the western
coast of the Peloponnesus and the Ionian islands. It con-
tinued, to the latest times, to occupy the greater part of
Greece. The Achaeans were the most celebrated in epic
poetry, their name being used by Homer to denote all
the Hellenic tribes which fought at Troy. They were the
dominant people of the Peloponnesus, occupying the south and
east, and the Arcadians the centre. The Dorians The Dorians
and Ionians were of later celebrity ; the former and Ionian8 -
occupying a small patch of territory on the slopes of Mount
QEta, north of Delphi ; the latter living on a narrow slip of
the country along the northern coast of the Peloponnesus,
and extending eastAvard into Attica.

The principal settlements of the iEolians lay around the
Pagasaean Gulf, and were blended with the Min- Settlements

/> -r-k -i - - 1 t .of the j£oli-

yaus, a race ot Pelasgian adventurers known in ans.
the Argonautic expedition, under iEolian leaders. In the
north of Boeotia arose the city of Orchomenus, whose treas-
ures were compared by Homer to those of the Egyptian



154 Geography of Ancient Greece. [Chap, xiil

Thebes. Another seat of the iEolians was Ephyra, after-
ward known as Corinth, where the "wily Sisyphus " ruled.
He was the father of Phocus, who gave his name to Phocis.
The descendants of iEolus led also a colony to Elis, and
another to Pylus. In general, the iEolians sought maritime
settlements in northern Greece, and the western side of the
Peloponnesus.

The Achteans were the dominant race, in very early times,
of the south of Thessaly, and the eastern side of the Pelo-
orthe ponnesus, whose chief seats were Phthia, where

Achasans. Achilles reigned, and Argolis. Thirlwall seems to
think they were a Pelasgian, rather than an Hellenic people.
The ancient traditions represent the sons of Achreus as
migrating to Argos, where they married the daughters of
Danaus the king, hut did not mount the throne.

The early fortunes of the Dorians are involved in great
Of the obscurity, nor is there much that is satisfactory in

Dorians. ^he early history of any of the Hellenic tribes.
Our information is chiefly traditional, derived from the poets.
Dorns, the son of Deucalion, occupied the country over
against Peloponnesus, on the opposite side of the Corinthian
Gulf, comprising ^Etolia, Phocis, and the Ozolian Locrians.
Nor can the conquests of the Dorians on the Peloponnesus
be reconciled upon any other ground than that they occupied
a considerable tract of country.

The early history of the Ionians is still more obscure,
of the I° n > ^ ne son °^ Xuthus, is supposed to have led

ionians. hj s followers from Thessaly to Attica, and to

have conquered the Pelasgians, or effected peaceable settle-
ments with them. Then follows a series of legends which
have more poetical than historical interest, but which will
be briefly noticed in the next chapter.



CHAPTEB XIV.

THE LEGENDS OF ANCIENT GBEECE.

The Greeks possessed no authentic written history of that
period which included the first appearance of the The heroic

. ' . ages of

Hellenes in Thessaly to the first Olympiad, b. c. Greece.
776. This is called the heroic age, and is known to us only
by legends and traditions, called myths. They pertain both
to gods and men, and are connected with what we call
mythology, which possesses no historical importance, al-
though it is full of interest for its poetic life. And as
mythology is interwoven with the literature and the art of
the ancients, furnishing inexhaustible subjects for poets,
painters, and sculptors, it can not be omitted wholly in the
history of that classic people, whose songs and arts have
been the admiration of the world.

We have space, however, only for those legends which are
of universal interest, and will first allude to those

The legends.

which pertain to gods, such as appear most promi-
nent in the poems of Hesiod and Homer.

Zeus, or Jupiter, is the most important personage in the
mythology of Greece. Although, chronologically,
he comes after Kronos and Uranos, he was called
the "father of gods and men," whose power it was impos-
sible to resist, and which power was universal. He was sup-
' posed to be the superintending providence, whose seat was on
Mount Olympus, enthroned in majesty and might, to whom
the lesser deities were obedient. With his two brothers,
Poseidon, or Neptune, and Hades, or Pluto, he reigned over
the heavens, the earth, the sea, and hell. Mythology repre-
sents him as born in Crete : and when he had gained sufti-



156 Legends of Ancient Greece. [Chap. XIV.

cient mental and bodily force, he summoned the gods to
Mount Olympus, and resolved to wrest the supreme power
from his father, Kronos, and the Titans. Ten years were
spent in the mighty combat, in which all nature was con-
vulsed, before victory was obtained, and the Titans hurled into
Tartarus. With Zeus now began a different order of beings.
He is represented as having many wives and a numerous
offspring. From his own head came Athene, fully armed, the
goddess of wisdom, the patron deity of Athens. By Themis
he begat the Horse ; by Eurynome, the three Graces ; by
Mnemosyne, the Muses; by Leto (Latona), Apollo, and Arte-
mis (Diana) ; by Demeter (Ceres), Persephone ; by Here
(Juno), Hebe, Ares (Mars), and Eileithyia ; by Maia, Hermes
(Mercury).

Under the presidency of Zeus w r ere the twelve great gods
The other an( ^ goddesses of Olympus — Poseidon (Neptune) ?
deities. w j 10 p res id e d over the sea ; Apollo, w T ho was the

patron of art; Ares, the god of war; Hephaestos (Vulcan),
who forged the thunderbolts ; Hermes, who was the messen-
ger of omnipotence and the protector of merchants ; Here,
the queen of heaven, and general protector of the female sex ;
Athene (Minerva), the goddess of wisdom and letters ;
Artemis (Diana), the protectress of hunters and shepherds;
Aphrodite (Venus), the goddess of beauty and love; Hertia
(Vesta), the goddess of the hearth and altar, whose fh-e never
went out. Demeter (Ceres), mother earth, the goddess of
agriculture.

Scarcely inferior to these Olympian deities were Hades
(Pluto), who presided over the infernal regions; Helios, the
sun; Hecate, the goddess of expiation; Dionysus (Bacchus),
the god of the vine; Leto (Latona), the goddess of the con-
cealed powers ; Eos (Aurora), goddess of the morn ; Nemesis,
god of vengeance ; iEolus, the god of winds ; Harmonia ; the
Graces, the Muses, the Nymphs, the Nereids, marine nymphs
— these were all invested with great power and dignity.

Besides these were deities who performed special services to
the greater gods, like the Horre ; and monsters, offspring of



Chap. XIV.] The Divinities of Greece. 157

gods, like the gorgons, chimera, the dragon of the Hesperides,
the Lernaean hydra, the Kemean lion, Scylla and Charybdis,
the centaurs, the sphinx, and others.

It will be seen that these gods and goddesses represent the
powers of nature, and the great attributes of Who re
wisdom, purity, courage, fidelity, truth, which be- sent the
long to man's higher nature, and which are asso- Nature,
ciated with the divine. It was these powers and attributes
which were worshiped — superhuman and adorable. Homer
and Hesiod are the great authorities of the theogonies of the
pagan world, and we can not tell how much of this was of
their invention, and how much was implanted in the common
mind of the Greeks, at an age earlier than TOO b. c. The
Orphic theogony belongs to a later date, but acquired even
greater popular veneration than the Hesiodic.

The worship of these divinities was attended by rites
more or less elevated, but sometimes by impurities The worship
and follies, like those of Bacchus and Venus. Some- ties.
times this worship was veiled in mysteries, like those of Eleu-
sis. To all these deities temples were erected, and offerings
made, sometimes of fruits and flowers, and then of animals. Of
all these deities there were legends — sometimes absurd, and
these were interwoven with literature and religious solemni-
ties. The details of these fill many a large dictionary, and
are to be read in dictionaries, or in poems. Those which per-
tain to Ceres, to Apollo, to Juno, to Venus, to Minerva,
to Mercury, are full of poetic beauty and fascination.
They arose in an age of fertile imagination and ardent feeling,
and became the faith of the people.

Besides the legends pertaining to gods and goddesses, are
those which relate the heroic actions of men. Grote Legends
describes the different races of men as they appear in tafa°to^"
the Hesiodic theogony — the offspring of gods. First, roes '
the golden race : first created, good and happy, like the gods
themselves, and honored after death by being made the unseen
guardians of men — "terrestrial demons." Second, the silver
race, inferior in body and mind, was next created, and being



158 Legends of Ancient Greece. [Chap. XIV.

disobedient, are buried in the earth. Third, the brazen race,
hard, pugnacious, terrible, strong, which was continually at
war, and ultimately destroyed itself, and descended into
Hades, unhonored and without privilege. Fourth, the race
of heroes, or demigods, such as fought at Thebes and Troy,
virtuous but warlike, which also perished in battle, but were
removed to a happier state. And finally, the iron race,
doomed to perpetual guilt, care, toil, suffering — unjust, dishon-
est, ungrateful, thoughtless — such is the present race of men,
with a small admixture of good, which will also end in due
time. Such are the races which Hesiod describes in his poem of
the "Works and Days," — penetrated with a profound sense of
the wickedness and degeneracy of human life, yet of the ulti-
mate rewards of virtue and truth. His demons are not
gods, nor men, but intermediate agents, essentially good —
angels, whose province was to guard and to benefit the world.
But the notions of demons gradually changed, until they
were regarded as both good and bad, as viewed by Plato, and
finally they were regarded as the causes of evil, as in the
time of the Christian writers. Hesiod, who lived, it is sup-
posed, four hundred years before Herodotus, is a great ethical
poet, and embodied the views of his age respecting the great
mysteries of nature and life.

The legends which Hesiod, Homer, and other poets made
so attractive by their genius, have a perpetual interest, since
they are invested with all the fascinations of song and
romance. "We will not enter upon those which relate to
gods, but confine ourselves to those which relate to men —
the early heroes of the classic land and age ; nor can we allude
to all — only a few — those which are most memorable and im-
pressive.

Among the most ancient was the legend relating to the
The Danaides, which invest the early history of Argos

with peculiar interest. Inachus, who reigned 1986
b. c, according to ancient chronology, is also the name of
the river flowing beneath the walls of the ancient city, situ-
ated in the eastern part of the Peloponnesus. In the reign of



Chap. XIV.] - The Danaides. 159

Krotopos, one of his descendants, Danaus came with his fifty
daughters from Egypt to Argos in a vessel of fifty oars, in
order to escape the solicitations of the fifty sons of ./Egyptos,
his brother, who wished to make them their wives. iEgyp-
tos and the sons followed in pursuit, and Danaus was com-
pelled to assent to their desires, hut furnished each of his
daughters with a dagger, on the wedding night, who thus
slew their husbands, except one, whose husband, Lynceus,
ultimately became king of Argos. From Danaus was derived
the name of Danai, applied to the people of the Argeian
territory, and to the Homeric Greeks generally. We hence
infer that Argos — one of the oldest cities of Greece, was set-
tled in part by Egyptians, probably in the era of the shepherd
kings, who introduced not only the arts, but the religious
rites of that ancient country. Among the regal descendants
of Lynceus was Danae, whose son Perseus performed mar-
velous deeds, by the special favor of Athene, among which
he brought from Libya the terrific head of the Gorgon
Medusa, which had the marvelous property of turning every
one to stone who looked at her. Stung with remorse for the
accidental murder of his grandfather, the king, he retired
from Argos, and founded the city of Mycense, the ruins of
whose massive walls are still to be seen — Cyclopean works,
which seem to show that the old Pelasgians derived their
architectural ideas from the Egyptian Danauns. The Per-
seids of Mycenae thus boasted of an illustrious descent, which
continued down to the last sovereign of Sparta.

The grand-daughter of Perseus was Alcmena, whom my-
thology represents as the mother of Hercules by

t ' ■ mi n i Hercules.

Jupiter. The labors of Hercules are among the
most interesting legends of pagan antiquity, since they are
types of the endless toils of a noble soul, doomed to labor
for others, and obey the commands of worthless persecutors.
But the hero is finally rewarded by admission to the family
of the gods, and his descendants are ultimately restored to
the inheritance from which they were deprived by the wrath
and jealousy of Juno. A younger branch of the Perseid



1G0 Legends of Ancient Greece. [Chap xiy.

family reigned in Lacaedemon — Eurystheus, to whom Her-
cules was subject ; but he, with all his sons, lost their lives
in battle, so that the Perseid family was represented only by
the sons of Hercules — the Heracleids, or Heraclidae. They
endeavored to regain their possessions, and invaded the Pelo-
ponnesus, from which they had been expelled. Hyllos, the
oldest son, proposed to the army of Ionians, Achceans, and
Arcadians, which met them in defense, that the combat should
be decided between himself and any champion of the invad-
ing army, and that, if he were victorious, the Heracleids
should be restored to their sovereignty, but if defeated, should
forego their claim for three generations. Hyllos was van-
quished, and the Heracleids retired and resided with the
Dorians. When the stipulated period had ended, they,
assisted by the Dorians, gained possession of the Pelopon-
nesus. Hence the great Dorian settlement of Argos, Sparta,
and Messenia, effected by the return of the Heracleids.

Another important legend is that which relates to Deuca-
lion and the delude, as it is supposed to shed

Deucalion. - , . , .-,

light on the different races that colonized Greece.
The wickedness of the world induced Zeus to punish it by a
deluge; a terrible rain laid the whole of Greece under water,
except a few mountain tops. Deucalion was saved in an
ark, or chest, which he had been forewarned to construct.
After floating nine days, he landed on the summit of Mount
Parnassus. Issuing from his ark, he found no inhabitants,
they having been destroyed by the deluge. Instructed, how-
ever, by Zeus, he and his wife, Pyrrha, threw stones over
their heads, and those which he threw became men, and those
thrown by his wife became women. Thus does mythology
account for the new settlement of the country — a tradition
doubtless derived from the remote ages through the children
of Japhet, from whom the Greeks descended, and who, after
many wanderings and migrations, settled in Greece.

Deucalion and Pyrrha had two sons, Hellen and Amphic-

Heiienand tyon. The eldest, Hellen, by a nymph was the

yrr a ' father of Dorus, iEolus, and Xuthus, and he gave



Chap. XIV.] Legend of Pelius and Neleus. 161

his name to the nation — Hellenas. In dividing the country
among his sons, iEolus received Thessaly ; Xuthus, Pelopon-
nesus ; and Dorus, the country lying opposite, on the northern
side of the Corinthian Gulf, as has been already mentioned in
the preceding chapter. Substitute Deucalion for Noah,
Greece for Armenia, and Dorus, iEolus, and Xuthus for Shem,
Ham, and Japhet, and we see a reproduction of the Mosaic
account of the second settlement of mankind.

As it is natural for men to trace their origin to illustrious
progenitors, so the Greeks, in their various settlements, cher-
ished the legends which represented themselves as sprung
from gods and heroes — those great benefactors, whose exploits
occupy the hei*oic ages. As Hercules was the Argine hero
of the Peloponnesus, so IEolus was the father of heroes sacred
in the history of the iEolians, who inhabited the largest part
of Greece. iEolus reigned in Thessaly, the original seat of
the Hellenes.

Among his sons was Salmoneus, whose daughter, Tyro,
became enamored of the river Eneipus, and frequenting its
banks, the god Poseidon fell in love with hei\ The fruits of
this alliance were the twin brothers, Pelias and PtJlias and
Neleus, who quarreled respecting the possession Neleus -
of Iolchos, situated at the foot of Mount Pelion, celebrated
afterward as the residence of Jason. Pelias prevailed, and
Neleus returned into Peloponnesus and founded the king-
dom of Pylos. His beautiful daughter, Pei'o, was sought in
marriage by princes from all the neighboring countries, but
he refused to entertain the pretensions of any of them, de-
claring that she should only wed the man who brought him
the famous oxen of Iphiklos, in Thessaiy. Melampus, the
nephew of Neleus, obtained the oxen for his brother Bias,
who thus obtained the hand of Pero. Of the twelve sons of
Neleus, Nestor was the most celebrated. It was he who
assembled the various chieftains for the siege of Troy, and
was pre-eminent over all for wisdom.

Another descendant of iEolus was the subject of a beautiful

legend. Admetus, who married a daughter of Pelias, and
11



162 Legends of Ancient Greece. [Chap. XIV.

whose horses were tended by Apollo, for a time incarnated
as a slave in punishment for the murder of the

Admetus. ,~, , *n- i i

Cyclopes. Apollo, in gratitude, obtained from the

Fates the privilege that the life of Admetus should be pro-
longed if any one could be found to die voluntarily for him.
His wife, Alkestes, made the sacrifice, but was released from
the grasp of death (Thanatos) by Hercules, the ancient friend
of Admetus.

But a still more beautiful legend is associated with Jason,
a great grandson of JEolus. Pelias, still reigning at Jason and

& ° ° ° the Argo-

Iolchos, was informed by the oracle to beware of nauts.
the man who should appear before him with only one sandal.
He was celebrating a festival in honor of Poseidon when
Jason appeared, having lost one of his sandals in crossing a



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