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Ruins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) online

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preservation, what formed its chief ornament in the
time of the Moors. This is the Alhambra,] the
royal alcazar, or fortress and palace, which was
founded by Muhammed Abu. Abdillah Ben Nasz,
the second sovereign of Granada, defrayed the ex-
pense of the works by a tribute imposed upon his
conquered subjects. He superintended the building
in person, and when it was completed, he made it a
royal residence *. The immediate successors of this


prince also took delight in embellishing and making
additions to the fabric. Since the conquest of Gra-
nada by the Christians, the Alhambrahas undergone
some alterations. It was for a time occasionally
inhabited by the kings of Spain. Charles the Fifth
caused a magnificent palace to be commenced within
the walls ; but owing to his wars and frequent
absences from Spain, or, as some accounts say, to
repeated shocks of earthquakes, a splendid suite of
apartments, in the Spanish style, is all that resulted
from an alleged intention to eclipse the palace of the
Moslem kings. Like the rest of the Alhambra, it is
falling rapidly to decay through neglect. At pre-
sent the walls are defaced, the paintings faded, the
wood-work is decayed, and festoons of cobwebs are
seen hanging from the ceiling. In the works of the
Arabs, on the contrary, the walls remain unaltered,
except by the injuries inflicted by the hand of man.
The beams and wood-work of the ceiling present no
signs of decay ; and spiders, flies, and all other
insects, shun their apartments at every season. The
art of rendering timber and paints durable, and of
making porcelain, mosaics, arabesques, and other
ornaments, began and ended in western Europe with
the Spanish Arabs.

The palace has had no royal residents since the be-
ginning of the last century, when Philip the Fifth
was there for a short time with his queen.

The Alhambra is generally spoken of as a palace,
but it is to be understood, that, in the extensive
sense, the name applies to a fortress, a sort of city in

The palace, situated upon the northern brow of a
steep hill, overlooks the city of Granada on one side,
and on the other commands an extensive view over
a most charming country. All the wonders of this
palace lie within its walls. Externally, according to

326 RUINS OF \\< irvi < i i

the account of Swinburne, it appears as a large mass
of irregular buildings, all huddled together without
any apparent intention of forming one habitation.
The. walls are entirely unornamentcd, of gravel and
pebbles coarsely daubed over with plaster. We can-
not trace the successive courts and apartments, through
which the visiter passes as he penetrates to the in-
terior, or attempt to enumerate their separate claims
to notice.

The general arrangement of the buildings which
compose the palace is exceedingly simple. Tin*
courts, for instance, which in our mansions are dull
and uninteresting, are here so planned, as to seem a
continuation of a series of apartments ; and as the
whole is on the same level throughout, the prospect
through the building, in its perfect state, must have
been like a scene of enchantment or a dream ; halls
and galleries, porticoes and columns, arches, mosaics,
with plants and flowers of various hues, being seen
in various extensive views, through the haze arising
from the spray of the fountains. In every part of
the palace its inmates had water in abundance, with
a perfect command over it, making it high, low,
visible, or invisible, at pleasure.

In every department two currents of air were con-
tinually in motion. Also, by means of tubes of
baked earth placed in the walls, warmth was diffused
from subterranean furnaces; not only through tho
whole range of the baths, but to all the contiguous
upper apartments where warmth was required. Tho
doors were large, but rather sparingly introduced ;
and, except on the side towards the precipice, whera
the prospect is very grand, the windows are so
placed as to confine the view to the interior of tho
palace. The object of this is declared in an inscrip-
tion in one of the apartments, which says " My
windows admit the light, but exclude tho view of


external objects, lest the beauties of Nature should
divert attention from the beauties of my work."

In this mansion the elaborate arabesques and mo-
saics which cover the ceilings, walls, and floor, give a
consequence and interest even to the smallest apart-
ment. Instead of being papered and wainscoted,
the walls are provided with the peculiar ornament
which, from the Arabs, has been denominated "arab-
esque." The receding ornaments are illuminated in
just gradation with leaf-gold, pink, light blue, and
dusky purple : the first colour is the nearest, the last
is the most distant, from the eye ; but the general
surface is white. The domes and arcades are also
covered with ornamented casts, which are as light as
wood, and as durable as marble.

Besides the inscriptions above alluded to, there
are various others. In the king's bath, and in various
other parts of the Alhambra, is, "There is no con-
queror but God ;" and " Glory to our Lord, Sultan
Abu Abdallah !"

Over the principal door of the golden saloon, or
hall of ambassadors: "By the sun and its rising bright-
ness ; by the moon, when she followeth him ; by the
day, when he showeth his splendour ; by the night,
when it covereth him into darkness ; by the heaven,
and Him who created it ; by the earth, and Him who
spread it forth ; by the soul, and Him who com-
pletely formed it : there is no other God but God."

The gate of judgment was erected by Sultan Abu
Yusuff, A. H. 749. or A. D. 1348, as appears from an
Arabic inscription over it. On each side of that in-
scription is a block of marble, containing (in Arabic)
" Praise be to God. There is no God but God, and
Mahomet is his prophet. There is no strength but
from God."

In one of the windows on the right hand of the


saloon aro the following verges, descriptive of its
elegance :

" I am the ornamented teat of the bride, endowed with beauty
and perfection.

" Dost thou doubt it ? Look, then, at this baain, and thou wilt
be fully convinced of the truth of my auertion.

" Regard, also, my tiara ; thou wilt find it resembling that of
the crctcent moon.

" And Ibn Natr is the tun of my orb, in the splendour of

' May he continue in the (noon-tide) altitude of glory, secure
(from change) whilst the sun sett and disappears."

At the entrance of the tower of Comares : " The
kingdom is God's ;" " The tower is God's ;" " Dura-
bility is God's."

In the middle of the golden saloon : " There is no
God but God, the Sovereign, the True, the Mani-
fest. Muhamud is the just, the faithful mess*
of God. I flee to God for protection from Satan :
the pelted with stones.. In the name of God the
merciful, the forgiving; there is no God but He,
the living, the eternal ; sleep nor slumber seizeth
Him. To Him (belongeth) whatever is in the hea-
vens, and whatever is in the earth ; who is there who
shall intercede with him except by His permission ?
He knoweth what is before them, and what is
lifliiml them ; and they comprehend not His wis-
dom, except what he pleascth. He hath extended
His throne, the heavens, and the earth ; the protection
of which incommodeth Him not ; and he is the exalted,
the great ! There is no forcing in the faith. Truly,
righteousness is distinguished from error. He, there-
fore, who disbelieveth in (the idol) Tagut, and
belicveth in God, hath taken hold of a sure handle.
that cannot be broken. God hcarcth, knoweth the
truth of God."

The walls of the alcoves in the Court del Aqua,


present, also, various effusions of the Muse, which
have been inscribed by various travellers ; amongst
which this :

*' When these famed walls did Pagan rites admit,
Here reigned unrivalled breeding, science, wit.
Christ's standard came, the prophet's flag assailed,
And fix'd true worship where the false prevailed :
And, such the zeal its pious followers bore,
Wit, science, breeding, perished with the Moor."

" On looking from the royal villa or pleasure-
house of Al Generalife," says Mr. Murphy, " the
spectator beholds the side of the Alhambra that com-
mands the quarter of the city called the Albrezzin.
The massive towers are connected by solid walls,
constructed upon the system of fortification, which
generally prevailed in the middle ages. Those walls
and towers follow all the turnings and windings of
the mountain ; and previously to the invention of
gunpowder and artillery, this fortress must have been
almost impregnable. The situation of this edifice is
the most delightful and commanding that can be
conceived. Wherever the spectator may turn his
eyes, it is impossible for him not to be struck with
admiration at the picturesque beauty and fertility of
the surrounding country. On the north and west,
as far as the eye can reach, a lovely plain presents
itself, which is covered with an immense number of
trees laden with fruit and blossoms ; while, on the
south, it is bounded by mountains, whose lofty sum-
mits are crowned with perpetual snows, whence issue
the springs and streams that diffuse both health and
coolness through the city of Granada."

" But," in the language of Mr. Swinburne, " the
glories of Granada have passed away ; its streets are
choked with filth ; its woods destroyed ; its territory
depopulated ; its trade lost. In a word, everything,


except the church and the law, is in the most <lr
plorable condition*."


Tnis was a maritime city of Asia Minor, founded
by the Dorians, and much known on account of a
victory, which Conon gained over the Lacedemo-
nians. Oonon was an Athenian, having the com-
mand of the Persian fleet ; Pisander, brother-in-law
of Agesilaus, of the Lacedemonian. Conon's ilc< t
consisted of ninety galleys ; that of Pisander some-
thing less. They camg in view of each other near
Gnidos. Conon took fifty of the enemy's ships. The
allies of the Spartans fled, and their chief admiral
died fighting to the last, sword in hand.

Gnidos was famed for having produced the most
renowned sculptors and architects of Greece; amongst
whom were .Sostratus and Sesostris, who built the
celebrated light-tower on the isle of Pharos, consi-
dered one of the seven wonders of the world, and
whence all similar edifices were afterwards denomi-

Venus, surnamed the Gnidian, was the chief
deity of this place, where she had a temple, greatly
celebrated for a marble statue of the goddess. This
beautiful image was the masterpiece of Praxiteles,
who had infused into it all the soft graces and attrac-
tions of his favourite Phryne ; and it became so cele-
brated, that travellers visited the spot with great
eagerness. It represented the goddess in her naked
graces, erect in posture, and with her right hand
covering her waist ; but every feature and every part
was so naturally expressed, that the whole seemed to
be animatedt.

Hippolyto dc Joic ; Swinburne ; Wright ; Murphy ;
ington Irving. f Lempricre.


" We were shown, as we passed by," says Ana-
cli arsis, " the house in which Eudoxus, the astro-
nomer, made his observations ; and soon after found
ourselves in the presence of the celebrated Yenus of
Praxiteles. This statue had just been placed in the
middle of a small temple, which received light by
two opposite doors, in order that a gentle light might
fall on it on every side. But how may it be possible
to describe the surprise we felt at the first view, and
the illusions, which quickly followed ! We lent our
feelings to the marble, and seemed to hear it sigh.
Two pupils of Praxiteles, who had lately arrived
from Athens to study this masterpiece, pointed out
to us the beauties, of which we felt the effect with-
out penetrating the cause. Among the by-standers,
one said, ' Venus has forsaken Olympus, and come
down to dwell among us.' Another said, ' If Juno
and Minerva should now behold her, they would no
more complain of the judgment of Paris :' and a
third exclaimed, ' The goddess formerly deigned to
exhibit her charms without a veil to Paris, Anchises,
and Adonis. Has she been seen by Praxiteles ?'"

Mounting the rocks extending along the sea-shore,
Mr. Morritt came in view of the broken cliffs of the
Acropolis, and its ruined w r alls. The foundation and
lower courses of the city walls are still visible ; these
extend from those of the Acropolis to the sea, and
have been strengthened by towers, now also in ruins.
He found also a building, the use of which he could
not understand. It was a plain wall of brown stone,
with a semicircle in the centre, and a terrace in front,
supported by a breast- work of masonry, facing the
sea. The walls were about ten or twelve feet in
height, solidly built of hewn stone, but without orna-
ment. There was anciently a theatre ; the marble
seats of which still remain, although mixed with
bushes and overturned. The arches and walls of


the proscenium arc now a heap of ruins on tho

A large torso of a female figure with drapery, of
white marble, lies in the orchestra. It appears to
have been, originally, of good work ; but is so muti-
lated and corroded by the air, as now to be of little
or no consequence. Near this are foundations and
ruins of a magnificent Corinthian temple, also of
white marble ; and several beautiful fragments of tho
frieze, comice, and capitals, lie scattered about ; the
few bases of the peristyle remaining in their original
situation, so ruined, that it appears impossible to
ascertain tho original form and proportion of the
building. In another part is seen a large temple,
also in ruins, and still more overgrown with bushes.
The frieze and cornice of this temple, which lie
amongst the rubbish, arc of the highest and most
beautiful workmanship. A little to the north of
this stood a smaller temple, of grey veined marble,
whereof almost every vestige- is obliterated.

Several arches of rough masonry, and a breast-
work, support a large square area, in which are the
remains of a long colonnade, of white marble, and of
the Doric order, the ruins of an ancient stoa. Of the
Acropolis nothing is left but a few walls of strong
brown stone*.

Besides these there are the remains of two aque-
ducts ; undistinguishable pieces of wall, some thriv.
some five, eight, ten feet from the ground ; columns
plain, and fluted ; a few small octagon altars, and
heaps of stones. Along the sea-shore lie pieces of
black marblet.

Whenever the ground is clearj, it is ploughed by

the peasantry around, who frequently stop here for

days together, in chambers of the ruins and caves of

the rocks. The Turks and Greeks have long resorted

* Morrnt~ fTurncr. $ Turner; Clarke.


thither, as to a quarry, for the building materials
afforded by the remains.

The British consul at Rhodes states, that a fine
colossal statue of marble is still standing in the
centre of the orchestra belonging to the theatre, the
head of which the Turks have broken oft'; but he
remembers it when in a perfect state. Mr. Walpole
brought away the torso of a male statue, and which
has since been added to the collection of Greek
marbles at Cambridge*.


THIS city was situated in that part of Egypt
which is called the Delta. It was named Heliopolis,
city of the sun, from the circumstance of there being
a temple dedicated to the sun there ; and here, ac-
cording to historians, originated the tale in respect
to the phoenix.

At this place, Cambyses, king of Persia, committed
a very great extravagance ; for he burned its temple,
demolished all the palaces, and destroyed most of the
monuments of antiquity that were then in it. Some
obelisks, however, escaped his fury, which are still
to be seen ; others were transported to Rome.

In this cityt Sesostris built two obelisks of ex-
treme hard stone, brought from the quarries of
Syene, at the extremity of Egypt. They were
each 120 cubits high ; that is, 30 fathoms, or 180
feet. The emperor Augustus, having made Egypt a
province of the Roman empire, caused these two
obelisks to be transplanted to Rome, one of which
was afterwards broken to pieces. He durst not
venture upon a third, which was of monstrous size.
It was made in the reign of Rameses ; and it is said

* Barthelemy ; Lempriere ; Rees; Mitford ; Clarke; Walpole;
Monitt ; Turner. f Rolljn.

334 ui INS 01 i ( 1 1 n:>.

that 20,000 men wnv employed in the cutting of
it. Constantius, more daring than Augustus, <>nl<r<<l
it to be removed to Rome. Two of these obelisks
are still to be seen ; as well as another of 100 euhits,
or 25 fathoms high, and 8 cubits, or 2 fathoms in
diameter. Caius Caesar had it taken from Egypt in
a ship of so odd a form, that, according to Pliny, tliu
like had never been seen.

At Heliopolis, there remains only a solitary
sphinx and an obelisk, to mark the site of the city of
the sun, where Moses, Herodotus, and Plato, are
said to have been instructed in the learning of the
Egyptians ; whose learning and arts brought even
Greece for a pupil, and whose empire, says Bossuet,
in regard to Egypt in general, had a character dis-
tinct from any other.

" This kingdom (says Rollin) bestowed its noblest
labours and finest arts on the improving of mankind ;
and Greece was so sensible of this, that its most
illustrious men, as Homer, Pythagoras, Plato,
even its great legislators, Lycurgus and Solon, with
many more, travelled into Egypt to complete their
studies, and draw from that fountain whatever was
most rare and valuable in every kind of learning.
God himself has given this kingdom a glorious tes-
timony, when, praising Moses, he says of him, that
* he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.'
Such was the desire for encouraging the growth of
scientific pursuits, that the discoverers of any useful
invention received rewards suitable to their skill and
labour. They studied natural history, geometry, :m<i
astronomy, and what is worthy of remark, they were
so far masters of the latter science, as to be aware of
the period required for the earth's annual revolutions,
and fixed the year at 365 days 6 hours a period
which remained unaltered till the very recent change
of the style. They likewise studied and improved


the science of physic, in which they attained a certain
proficiency. The persevering ingenuity and industry
of the Egyptians are attested by the remains of their
great works of art, which could not well be sur-
passed in modern times ; and although their working
classes were doomed to engage in the occupations of
their fathers, and no others, as is still the custom in
India, society might thereby be hampered, but the
practice of handicrafts would be certainly improved.
The Egyptians were also the first people who were
acquainted with the process of communicating infor-
mation by means of writing, or engraving on stone
and metal ; and were, consequently, the first who
formed books and collected libraries. These reposi-
tories of learning they guarded with scrupulous care,
and the titles they bore, naturally inspired a desire to
enter them. They were called the " Office for the
Diseases of the Soul," and that very justly ; because
the soul was there cured of ignorance, which, it will
be allowed, is the source of many of the maladies of
our mental faculties*."


" IT is characteristic of the noblest natures and
the finest imaginations," says an elegant writer^, " to
love to explore the vestiges of antiquity, and to dwell
in times that are no more. The first is the domain
of the imaginative affections alone; we can carry
none of our baser passions with us thither. The
antiquary is often spoken of as being of a peculiar
construction of intellect, which makes him think and
feel differently from other people. But, in truth,
the spirit of antiquarianism is one of the most uni-
versal of human tendencies. There is, perhaps,

* Bossuet ; Rollin ; Encyclop. Metropolitan ; Denon.
T Eustace.


scarcely any person, for example, not utterly stupid
or sophisticated, who would not feel a strange thrill
come over him in the wonderful scenes these volumes
describe. Looking round upon the lon<: ruined eity,
who would not, for the moment, utterly forget the
seventeen centuries that hail revolved since llemi-
laneum and Pompeii were part and parcel of the
world, moving to and fro along its streets ! It would
not be deemed a mere fever of curiosity that would
occupy the mind, an impatience to pry into every
hole and corner of a scene at once so old and so new.
Besides all that, there would be a sense of the actual
presence of those past times, almost like the illusion
of a dream. There is, in fact, perhaps no spot
of interest on the globe, which would be found to
strike so deep an impression into so many minds."

Herculaneum is an ancient city of Italy, situated
in the Bay of Naples, and supposed to have been
founded by Hercules, or in honour of him, 1250
years before the Christian era.* " This city," says
Strabo, " and its next neighbour, Pompeii, on the
river Sarnus, were originally held by the Osci, then
by the Tyrrhenians and Pelasgians, then by the
Samnites, who, in their turn, took possession of it,
and retained it ever after."

The adjacent country t was distinguished in all ages
for its romantic loveliness and beauty. The whole
coast, as far as Naples, was studded with villas, and
Vesuvius, whose fires had been long quiescent, was
itself covered with them. Villages were also scat-
tered along the shores, and the scene presented the
appearance of one vast city, cut into a number of
sections by the luxuriant vegetation of the paradise
in which it was embosomed.

I)ionyiui of llnlirarnaMut make* it sixty yean before the
fall of Troy ; or 1342 B.C.
f C bam ben.


The following epigram of Martial gives an ani-
mated view of the scene, previous to the dreadful
catastrophe, which so blasted this fair page of Na-
ture's book :

Here verdant vines o'erspread Vesuvius' sides ;
The generous grape here pour'd her purple tides.
This Bacchus loved beyond his native scene ;
Here dancing satyrs joy 'd to trip the green.
Far more than Sparta this in Venus' grace ;
And great Alcides once renown'd the place;
Now flaming embers spread dire waste around,
And gods regret that gods can so confouud.

The scene of luxurious beauty* and tranquillity
above described was doomed to cease, and the sub-
terranean fire which had been from time immemorial
extinct in this quarter, again resumed its former
channel of escape. The long period of rest, which
had preceded this event, seems to have augmented
the energies of the volcano, and prepared it for the
terrible explosion. The first intimation of this was
the occurrence of an earthquake, in the year 63
after Christ, which threw down a considerable
portion of Pompeii, and also did great damage to
Herculaneum. In the year following, another severe
shock was felt, which extended to Naples, where
the Roman emperor Nero was at the time exhi-
biting as a vocalist. The building in which he
performed was destroyed, but unfortunately the
musician had left it. These presages of the ap-
proaching catastrophe were frequently repeated,
until, in A.D. 79 (Aug. 24), they ended in the
great eruption. Fortunately we are in possession
of a narrative of the awful scene, by an eye-wit-
ness ; Pliny the younger, who was at the time at
Misenum, with the Roman fleet, commanded by
his uncle, Pliny the elder. The latter, in order to

* Chambers.

338 HI IV- 'l AM Il-NT CITIES.

obtain a nearer view of the phenomena, ventured
too far, and was sutl'orated by the vapours. Mis
nephew remained at Misenum, and descrilies the
appalling spectacle in a very lively manner.

*' You ask me the particulars of my uuclo's death,"
-ay* he. in a letter to Tacitus, " in order to transmit it,
you say, with all its circumstances, to posterity. 1
thank you for your intention. Undoubtedly the eternal
rememhrance of a calamity, by which my uncle
perished with nations, promised immortality to his
name; undoubtedly his works also flattered him with
the same. But a line of Tacitus ensures it. Happy

Online LibraryCharles BuckeRuins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) → online text (page 26 of 36)