Nathaniel Hillyer. Egleston.

The North American review (Volume 139) online

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With leveled spears, along the winding shore ;
There fell they breathless, and returned no more.
At length the monarch, with repentant grief,
Confessed the gods, and god-descended chief;
His daughter gave, the stranger to detain,
With half the honors of his ample reign."



King Prcetus was succeeded by Ms son, Megapenthes, who
exchanged Tiryns for the kingdom of Argos with Perseus, son
of Danae and Jove, the mythic founder of Mycenae (Pausanias,
II., 16). Perseus was succeeded by his son, Electryo (Apollo-
dorus, II., 4 ; Pausanias, II., 22, 8 ; 25, 9), father of Alcmene, the
mother of Hercules, who, like his father Perseus, resided at
Mycenae. Electryo, so the legend goes, ceded Tiryns and
Mycenae to Amphitryo, son of Alcaeus, and grandson of Perseus
and Andromeda (Apollodorus, II., 4; Hesiod, Scut. Her. 86).
Amphitryo married Alcmene, the mother of Hercules, but was
expelled by his uncle Sthenelus, father of Eurystheus, who be
came king of Argos, Tiryns, Mycenae, Mideia, and Heraeum
(Apollodorus, II., 4; Ovid, IX., 273). Hercules conquered
Tiryns, and is said to have inhabited it for a long time, in con
sequence of which he is frequently called the Tirynthian (Pindar,
Ol. XI., 40 ; Ovid, Met. VII., 410 ; Virgil, Mn. VIL, 662).

In the Dorian invasion, which tradition puts eighty years
after the Trojan war, Tiryns, as well as Mycenae, Hesyae, Mideia,
and other cities, was forced to aggrandize the power of Argos
and lost its autonomy. Nevertheless, Tiryns remained in the
hands of her Achaic population, which, together with that of
Mycenae, sent a contingent of four hundred men to the battle of
Plataea. In consequence of this patriotic action, the name of
Tiryns, together with the names of the other Greek cities that
had taken part in that glorious battle, was engraved on the
bronze column with the golden tripod, which, as tenth part of
the booty, the Spartans consecrated to the Pythian Apollo at
Delphi, and which now decorates the old Hippodrome, called
Maidan, at Constantinople. The glory that Tiryns acquired
hereby excited the jealousy of the Argives, who had remained
neutral throughout the Persian war, and who began to consider
the city a dangerous neighbor, especially so since it had fallen
into the hands of their seditious slaves Fovaio:) who main-



THE PALACE OF THE KINGS OF TIRYNS. 521

tained themselves for a time behind the Cyclopean walls of the
citadel and dominated the land. The insurgents were defeated j
"but soon afterward (468 B, c.) the Ar gives laid the town in ruins,
destroyed part of its Cyclopean wall, and forced the Tirynthians
to settle at Argos. According to some, they fled to Epidaurus.
But my friend, Professor J. P. Mahaffy (see the periodical " Her-
mathena," V.), has proved beyond doubt that the destruction of
Tiryns by the Argives belongs to a remoter antiquity.

The statement by Diodorus, that Mycenae was the last of the
conquered cities that were subdued by Argos, is apparently con
firmed in the Homeric catalogue of the ships (called the Boeotia),
where Tiryns is mentioned as a vassal to Argos, and Mycenae as
the capital and residence of Agamemnon. But when that cata
logue was composed, Argos had already conquered the whole
sea-shore of the Argolic peninsula, and Mycenae lies in the ex
treme south of the domain attributed to Agamemnon. The
traditions were perhaps still too powerful for the poet to have
dared to represent Mycenae as a vassal to Argos j but he posi
tively denies that Mycenae had any hegemony whatever over the
Argive plain. There is also a passage in Homer (Iliad, IV., 50-
56) that seems to corroborate the hypothesis of the early destruc
tion of Mycenae, and to contradict categorically the stories bor
rowed by Diodorus and Pausanias from Ephorus. The latter
seems to have been mistaken regarding King Pheidon of Argos ;
for, according to Theopompus and Diodorus (apud Syncel., Chr.,
p 262), he belongs to the ninth century B. c., which date is con
firmed by the Parian chronicle. The Homeric passage, in Pope's
translation, is as follows :

"At this the goddess rolled her radiant eyes,
Then on the Thunderer fixed them, and replies:
Three towns are Juno's on the Grecian plains,
More dear than all the extended earth contains
Mycenae, Argos, and the Spartan wall;
These thou may'st raze, nor I forbid their fall :
? Tis not in me the vengeance to remove ;
The crime's sufficient that they share my love.
Of power superior why should I complain ?
Resent I may, but must resent in vain."

It is obvious that Homer intended to point here to the
destruction of at least one of the three cities that he names, and
Argos and Sparta not being destroyed, the destroyed city could



522 THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.



be no other than Mycenae. The word StanspSai may also point
to the complete destruction of the city. If so, this Homeric
passage gives us the surest proof that Mycenae, as well as Tiryns,
was destroyed in a remote antiquity ; for, as mentioned before,
Tiryns, at the time of Homer, had long since lost its autonomy
and was vassal to Argos. Now this hypothesis, that the great
destruction of Tiryns and Mycenae took place in a remote
antiquity, finds in the monuments of both cities a remarkable
confirmation. On the west side the Cyclopean wall of the
acropolis of Mycenae is almost totally destroyed for a distance
of forty-five feet, and on its inner side has been substituted a
miserable retaining- wall of small stones with earth, which was
deeply buried in the prehistoric debris. I further call attention
to the inscription published in my work entitled "Mycenae"
(p. 129). This certainly belongs to the sixth century B. c., but
it is scratched on a fragment of that varnished, lustrous-black
Hellenic pottery, which is later by at least three centuries than
the archaic terra cottas that we find at Tiryns and at Mycenae
by thousands on the surface of the ground.

A further proof that Tiryns and Mycenae were destroyed in
a remote prehistoric age is found in the enormous masses of
knives and arrow-heads, of a very primitive form, of obsidian,
and of painted Hera-idols in the form of a cow or a horned
female, as well as in the innumerable terra cotta vases of primi
tive forms with most ancient paintings in colors. "We found all
these objects in vast abundance in the grand palace, which
occupies the whole upper part of the Citadel of Tiryns, and
consequently there can be no doubt that they were still
universally used by the inmates of the palace at the time of its
destruction. As a final proof, I may mention the total absence
of varnished black, red, or yellow Hellenic terra cottas, of which,
in spite of my most zealous researches, I have not been able to
discover a single potsherd at Tiryns, either in the excavations on
the upper acropolis or in those on the middle terrace.

To secure for science any light that might be obtained from
ancient architectural remains, I engaged again the services of
the eminent architect of the Imperial German Archaeological
Institute at Athens, Dr. Win. Dorpfeld, of Berlin, who for
four years had managed the technical part of the German ex
cavations at Olympia, and who had been for five months, in
1882, my collaborator at Troy. We most carefully excavated



THE PALACE OF THE KINGS OF TIEYN8. 523

the whole upper and the whole middle acropolis, but dug on its
lowest terrace only a large trench from south to north, and
another from east to west. The walls are on an average twenty-
four feet thick, but in some places in the upper acropolis forty-
eight feet. They consist of large, almost unwrought blocks,
which are piled on one another without any binding material.
Remains of towers may be seen in several places. One tower,
close to the principal entrance in the middle of the east side, is
still well preserved. Its height above the wall is twenty-three
feet. The wall of the upper acropolis is built in two off-sets
a lower wall that rests on the rock, and an upper wall that
recedes by about twenty-six feet. The latter is provided in
several places with longitudinal galleries five feet three inches
broad, and twice as high, which are covered, ogive-like, with
horizontally overlapping stones. Several doors, which have like
wise an ogive-like form, lead from these galleries to the terrace
of the projecting lower wall. The galleries were, consequently,
intended to afford to the defenders of the lower wall a refuge,
from which they could rapidly reach the parapet.

In one part of the acropolis there are on the top of the wall
four bases of columns in situ, which seems to prove that there
was on the wall, all around the citadel, a roofed passage, such as
a well known Athenian inscription proves to have existed on the
city wall of Athens. This Tirynthian passage on the outside
probably consisted of a wall of raw bricks, pierced by numerous
hatchways, and on the inside that is to say, toward the citadel
of wooden columns. In the Athenian wall these hatchways
were shut with wooden lids. That the exterior wall of this hall
consisted of raw bricks of clay, is proved by the masses of debris
of half-baked bricks with which the plateau of the lower wall is
covered.

The principal entrance to the acropolis was on the eastern
side, close to the above-mentioned great tower. An enormous
rampart, fourteen feet eight inches broad, along the great forti
fication-wall, led up to the citadel. To the right, in ascending,
stood the great tower, so that the assailants had to expose to the
defenders their right side, which was unprotected by the shield.
There must have been a special portal at the spot where the
rampart reaches the level of the middle wall j but no gate-posts,,
properly speaking, remain there in situ. At this point the road
branches on the right side to the middle and the lower citadel,



524 THE NOETH AMERICAN REVIEW.

while to the left another road, which is still encompassed by
high walls, leads to the upper citadel. Having removed the
tremendous masses of debris and huge stones that obstructed
this latter road, we struck, at a distance of fifteen yards from
the great tower, the principal gate of the upper citadel. It is
formed by two huge uprights, ten and a half feet high, three
feet broad, and four and a half feet deep, and has a breadth of
nine feet three inches. It was shut by two wooden wings. The
holes in which the door-hinges turned are still preserved in the
threshold; and in the two uprights are holes, six inches in
diameter, for the large wooden bolt or cross-bar, by which the
gate was fastened. The upper lintel, which spanned the two
uprights, is not preserved. The structure of this gate resembles
very much that of the Lions 7 G-ate at Mycenas. A steep road
leads from the gate, along the inside of the eastern exterior wall,
to the upper acropolis. Here it enlarges and forms a sort of
court-yard, having on its western side a vast propylasum, which
again shuts up the acropolis. It consists, on the east side, of a
vestibulum formed by two columns between two paras tades or
antae. On the west side is a similar back hall. The partition-
wall between the two halls contains the great door, which was
also closed by two wings. The holes of the door-hinges are
still preserved in the huge threshold. On the western side of
the propylaeum was a court-yard, on the northern side of which
open two chambers.

Unfortunately we are unable to determine with certainty
what buildings there were on the southern side of this court,
for a small church was erected here in the Byzantine time, and
for this purpose the remains of the ancient palace were de
stroyed. Around the church, as well as inside of it, we found
numerous tombs, all of which faced to the east. The founda
tions of the church were covered up by a modern thrashing-
floor, which measured thirty-three feet in diameter. A corridor,
four feet six inches broad, ascended from the propylaBum to the
inner apartments of the palace j but the chief entrance was by
a second propylseum, by which one came to the principal court.
This propylaeum is on the same plan as the first, but smaller.
"The court is surrounded by large covered porticoes, and there
is an altar in the midst of the south side, near the small pro
pylaeum. In the " Odyssey (XXII., 335, 336) we read of a
similar altar in the court of the palace of Ulysses, which was



THE PALACE OF THE KINGS OF TIRYNS. 525

sacred to Zeus. The whole floor of the court, forty-two feet broad
by fifty-five feet long, consists of a sort of mosaic of lime and
small pebbles about an inch thick, which explains the TOXT&V SarceSov
(" beaten floor 77 ) in the palace of Ulysses. A similar floor may be
seen in all the apartments and courts of the Tirynthian palace.

In front of the altar, on the northern side of the court, is the
principal hall of the palace. It consists of a vestibulum, which
opens on the court with two columns between two parastades j
of a second fore-room, which is joined to the vestibulum by three
doors, each of which had two wings ; and of the saloon proper.
This latter is thirty-one feet broad by thirty-nine feet long, and
contains in the midst four columns, which supported the ceiling.
Between the columns, in the floor, is a large circle, about ten feet
in diameter, whose use is unknown to us. The mosaic floor of
the principal hall is divided by incised lines into squares, and
still shows in many places traces of the red painting with which
it was adorned. Traces of a similar painting may be seen also
on the floor of the great court and on that of several smaller
rooms.

A side door leads from the fore-room, in a westerly direction,
into several corridors and small rooms, among which the bath
room is the most remarkable. The floor of this chamber, which
is ten feet square, consists of one single block of blue limestone
about two feet two inches thick. Along the walls, on all four
sides of this bath-room, may be seen, in the border of the large
stone, bored holes, which probably served for fastening a wooden
lining to the walls. On the eastern side a gutter is cut out in the
stone, which carried off the water ; its continuation, as an under
ground channel, may be seen below several rooms. To this bath
room no doubt belonged the bathing-tub of terra cotta orna
mented with spirals, of which a large fragment has been found.
On the eastern side of the principal hall, around a second,
smaller court, are grouped several rooms, probably the apart
ments of the women, while the large hall, with the large court
and the adjoining chambers, may have been the habitation of the
men. The smaller court has porticoes on two sides. The rooms
communicate with one another, either directly by doors, or by
corridors. The above-mentioned corridor also leads from the
propylaBum to the smaller court. Owing to repeated restorations,
the original plan of the rooms on the eastern side of this corridor
cannot be distinctly recognized. We recognize some restorations



526 THE NOETH AMERICAN REVIEW.

in other parts of the palace j "but there cannot be the slightest
doubt that the whole palace, with all its principal halls and
rooms, was built contemporaneously with the great citadel- walls,
for the pottery found in the palace shows a striking similarity
to the most ancient vases found by me in the royal sepulchres at
Mycenae. Precisely the same Mycenian ornamentation we find
in the wall-paintings of the palace, which must therefore belong
to the same heroic age.

The foundations of the palace-walls rest on the rock about
ten feet below the floor, and consist of larger and smaller un-
wrought quarry-stones, which are joined without any binding
material. The lower parts of the palace-walls, which are pre
served to a height of eighteen inches to three feet, consist of
quarry-stones bonded with clay. The missing upper parts of the
palace-walls consisted partly of the same material, and partly of
sun-dried bricks, precisely like all the large buildings of the
Pergamos of Troy. The masses of quarry-stones and of half-
baked or thoroughly baked bricks, with which all the rooms of
the palace were filled, leave no doubt in this respect. The
external sides of the walls were first covered with a coating of
clay, which was covered with a coating of chalk. This latter
shows in a great many places, still in situ, traces of the paintings
with which it was covered. But well preserved colors may be
seen on a vast number of pieces of the coating, which had fallen
from the walls, and which we found within the palace. The
wall-paintings are in five colors red, yellow, black, white, and
blue and exhibit for the most part an ornamentation that is
already known to us from the Mycenian period. So, for instance,
the ornamentation of the marvelous sculptured ceiling of the
thalamos in the treasury at Orchomenus, as well as ornaments
of Mycenian vases, and of objects found in the dome-like sepul
chre of Menidi, occur almost without alteration in the wall-
paintings of the palace at Tiryns. On the other hand, we find
among them no Greek ornaments whatever of the classical time.
We also see in the wall-paintings figural representations a
bull, on which a man dances like an equestrian performer, and
large fragments representing wings or sea-animals.

The magnificence of the palace is also shown by the vast
number of sculptured ornaments found by us in its ruins. Be
sides plain spiral ornaments of a green stone, a frieze of
alabaster, which resembles a Doric triglyph-frieze, deserves



THE PALACE OF THE KINGS OF TIRYNS. 527

particular attention. The triglyphs are decorated with small
rosettes, the metopes with palmettes and spirals. The most
remarkable thing is, that this frieze is ornamented all over with
many hundred pieces of blue glass. These are half an inch
to an inch long, partly quadrangular and partly round. We
also found in the large court a Doric capital of porous stone, which
shows a very ancient style, and has sixteen flutings.

The masses of charcoal, burned bricks, and calcined stones
prove that the palace was destroyed by fire. The walls have
suffered most near the doors, for the thick wooden posts of the
door-frames, and the wooden door-wings, gave abundant food
to the flames. The quarry-stones of the walls are burnt to lime.
The clay with which they were cemented has become a solid terra
cotta, in consequence of which we experienced the very greatest
difficulty in cutting away these wall-fragments with pickaxes.
The fire was the more violent as nearly all the columns of the
palace consisted of wood ; only the bases were of stone, and they
also show the traces of the great fire. The upper parts of the
building fell in the catastrophe, and the whole palace thus be
came a great heap of ruins.

The hill remained in this condition for nearly three thousand
years ; only at the southern extremity of the citadel, as before
mentioned, was built in the Byzantine time a chapel, and the
whole southern part of the acropolis was converted into a
cemetery. There was already a settlement on the rock of Tiryns
before the palace and the great walls were built. In one of the
excavations, in the middle acropolis, we struck, about sixteen
feet below the floor of the upper citadel, a chamber whose
walls consisted of quarry-stones and clay, and whose floor was
of beaten clay. The chamber was filled with red brick debris
and charcoal, among which we found a great deal of hand
made monochromatic pottery, very similar in fabric, form, and
general appearance to the terra cottas found by me in the two
most ancient cities of Troy. Here are the very same lustrous
black, yellow, red, and brown vases, with vertically perforated
excrescences on the sides. But now and then we also find, in
these remains of the first Tirynthian settlement, hand-made vases
with rudely painted stripes, the borders of which are generally
diffused and rarely well defined. The vases of a dead black
color with white bands, and the green ones with black stripes,
deserve particular attention.



528 THE NOETR AMERICAN REVIEW.

In the excavations on the middle terrace came to light, at
various heights, narrow walls of quarry-stones and clay, the
plan of which we have not been able to make out. They must
belong to offices and outhouses, which were badly built and
therefore had to be often renewed or restored. This would
partly explain the greater accumulation of debris, which has
here in some places a depth of twenty feet. This middle terrace
is separated by a powerful retaining-wall from the lower
acropolis, which extends to the north. In the lower acropolis
we excavated, diagonally and longitudinally, two large trenches
down to the rock, and struck there also the foundations of sev
eral buildings. The accumulation of debris is there ten feet
deep, but in some places the rock is visible above ground.

In examining the plan of the acropolis of Tiryns, two ques
tions will suggest themselves to the reader: first, where the
people lived whose kings had their sumptuous palace on the
upper citadel, and probably their outhouses and offices on the
middle and lower terraces of the fortress ; and, secondly, where
the sepulchres of the kings may be looked for? In the nu
merous shafts that I sank in all directions in the low table-land
around the acropolis, I found in the upper layers nothing but
varnished Hellenic pottery, and in the lower strata the very
same archaic terra cottas as in the citadel, together with large
masses of burned brick debris. Consequently there can be no
doubt that the lower city extended around the acropolis, or that
it existed for a long number of centuries after the destruction
of the royal palace, which was never rebuilt, and whose site
remained for ever a desert. The Tirynthian bronze coins, which
have on one side an Apollo head with a diadem, on the other
side a palm-tree with the legend TIPTNS, which are for the most
part of the fifth century B. c., but seem to belong to the Mace
donian time, make it highly probable that the lower city existed
until the end of the fourth century B. c.

Regarding the tombs of the ancient kings of Tiryns, there is
not a stone above ground that suggests their existence in the
immediate neighborhood of Tiryns. I think, therefore, they
may be looked for in the caverns that Strabo (VIII., 368) men
tions at Nauplia. He says : " Close to Nauplia are caverns, and
labyrinths are built in them, which are called the Cyclopean
[buildings]." But as no trace of such caverns, with or without
labyrinths, can be seen in or near Nauplia, I suppose they exist



THE PALACE OF THE KINGS OF TIEYNS. 529

in the western slope of the acropolis-rock of Nauplia, and are
covered up by the houses of the modern town. I put my
opinion here on record, leaving it to a future generation to
profit by my suggestion ; for the present, there is nothing to
be done.

My excavations at Troy have proved that not only the great
walls, but also the two temples and all the other large buildings
of the Pergamos, consisted of sun-dried bricks j that a similar
material was used for the palace of the kings of Mycenae is
proved by the masses of debris of bricks within and near the
large foundations on the top of the acropolis-rock. The im
mense masses of debris of bricks that I found in my excavations
at the Boeotian Orchomenus point to a similar building material
for that royal city. Again, my present excavations at Tiryns
have furnished evidence that the palace of the ancient kings of
that city consisted chiefly of sun-dried bricks. It appears, there
fore, that in a remote antiquity all the principal buildings were
of this material. But Vitruvius proves that this mode of con
struction was still in use in classic times, for he cites (II. , 8,
par. 9, 10) a whole series of grand buildings that had been made
of raw bricks ; as, for instance, part of the city wall of Athens,
the temple of Jupiter and Hercules at Patrae, the palace of the
Attalian kings at Tralles, and the palace of Crcesus at Sardis,
which was still intact in the time of Vitruvius, and which, as he
says, the Sardians had dedicated to their fellow-citizens as a
place of repose in the leisure hours of old age, and as a gerusia
for the council of the elders. Vitruvius says :

" Farther on, at Halicarnassus, the palace of the most powerful king
Mausolus though everything in it is ornamented with Proconnesian
marble has walls made of raw bricks, which show unto the present time
a wonderful solidity, and which are smoothed and polished in such a manner
that they seem to have the perviousness of glass to light. And that king did



Online LibraryNathaniel Hillyer. EglestonThe North American review (Volume 139) → online text (page 51 of 60)