Charles Bucke.

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

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their Asiatic cities."

The sepulchre of Absalom, and the cave of St.
James, are smaller works, but of the same nature
as those alwve. All of them contain apartments
and receptacles for the dead, hewn in the same
curious manner.

A few paces to the north of the grot,* is a sub-
stantial stone building, resembling the dome of a
church, almost even with the ground, having a
pointed gothic doorway. It covers the reputed tomb
of the blessed Virgin; and its construction, like other
great monuments of this country, is attributed to
the pious mother of Constantino. The descent to
it is by a broad and handsome flight of forty-six
stone steps. On the right-hand side, about half
way do\ui, is shown the cenotaph, erected to the
memory of Joahim and Anne, the father and mother
of Mary ; and, in a recess on the opposite side, that
of Joseph her husband. A further descent leads
into a subterraneous chapel, lit up with lamps,
which are 1:ept continually burning. In the centre,
A little to the right, is an altar, erected over the
sacred tomb, which is an excavation in the rock.
Behind, in the curve of the chapel, is an altar, at
which mass is occasionally said.t

" The tomb of the Virgin," says Dr. Clarke, " is
the largest of all the crypto. Near Jerusalem,
appropriate chapels, within a lofty and spacious
vault, distinguish the real or imaginary torpbs of the
Virgin Mary, of Joseph, of Anna, and of Caiaj>ha<.
Struck with wonder, not only in viewing such an
* Kubitxon. t I 1 '.


extraordinary effort of human labour, but in the c<m-i-
deration that history affords no light whatever as to
its origin, we came afterwards to examine it again,
but could assign no probable date for the era of its
construction. It ranks among those colossal works,
which were accomplished by the inhabitants of Asia
Minor, of Pho3nicia, and of Palestine, in the first
ages ; works, which differ from those of Greece,
in displaying less of beauty, but more of arduous
enterprise ; works, which remind us of the people
rather than the artist ; which we refer to as monu-
ments of history, rather than of taste."

The circumstance * that perplexes every tra-
veller, is to account for Mount Calvary baving been
formerly tcit/iout the city, whereas it is, at present,
not a small way icithin ; and in order to shut it out,
the ancient walls must have made the most extraor-
dinary and unnecessary curve imaginable. But tra-
dition could not err in the identity of so famous a
spot ; and the smallest scepticism would deprive it of
its principal charm.

The street leading to Calvary is called by the
Christians Via Dolorosa, or " Dolorous Way," in
commemoration of the sufferings of Christ, in the
carrying of the cross to the place of execution. It
rises with a gradual ascent as it approaches Calvary,
where it terminates. There are many interesting
spots in this way ; and Mr. Robinson thus describes
them :

(1.) " An archway across the street, designated the
Arch of the Ecce Homo, over which there is a double
window, separated by a column. Here Pilate
brought the Lord forth to the people, saying,
' Behold the Man ! '(John xix. 6).

(2.) " The place where Christ turned round to
the women, who followed him with their lamenta-
* Carne.


tions, and, moved by the tears of his countrymen,
he addressed them in the language of consolation ;
4 Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me/ (Luke
xxiii.<t8<) Where the Virgin, witness of the try-
ing scene, and overcome by the feelings of a mother,
fell into a swoon.

(3.) "Where Christ, falling down under the weight
of the cross, the soldiers compelled Simon the Cyre-
nian to assist him, (Luke xxiii, 26) ; it is marked
out by the broken shaft of a column, just where the
lower city terminates.

(4.) " The dwelling of Lazarus,

(5.) " The dwelling of the rich man.

(6.) " The house from which Veronica, or Berenice*,
issued, to present our Lord with a handkerchief, to
wipe his bleeding brows.

(7.) " The gate of judgment, formerly the boun-
dary of the city.

" And finally, Calvary, the scene of his cruci-

The church, which is regarded as marking the site
of the Holy Sepulchre, in Dr. Clarke's opinion,
exhibits nowhere the slightest evidence which can
entitle it to either of these appellations. He is,
therefore, disposed to believe, that the crucifixion
took place upon the opposite summit, now called
Mount Sic, 11.

Dr. Clarke says, in reference to another cavern :
"There was one, which particularly attracted OUT
notice, from its extraordinary coincidence with all
the circumstances attaching to the history of our
Saviour's tomb. The large stone which once closed
its mouth had been, perhaps for ages, rolled away.
Stooping down to look into it, we observed within
a fair sepulchre, containing a repository upon one
side only for a single body : whereas, in most of the
others, there were two, and in many of them more


than two. It is placed exactly opposite to that
which is now called Mount Sion. As we viewed
the sepulchre, and read upon the spot the description
given of Mary Magdalene and the disciples coming
in the morning,* it was impossible to divest our
minds of the probability, that here might have been
the identical tomb of Jesus Christ ; and that up
the steep, which led to it, after descending from the
gate of the city, the disciples strove together,t when
" John did out-run Peter, and came first to the

" On leaving the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,"
says Mons. la Martine, " we followed the Via Dolo-
rosa, of which M. de Chateaubriand has given so
poetical an itinerary. Here is nothing striking,
nothing verified, nothing even probable. Ruined
houses, of modern construction, are everywhere exhi-
bited to the pilgrims by the monks as incontestible
vestiges of the various stations of Christ. The eye
cannot even doubt ; all confidence in these local
traditions is annihilated beforehand by the history of
the first years of Christianity, where we read that
Jerusalem no longer retained one stone upon another,
and that Christians were for many years exiled from
the city. Some pools, and the tombs of her kings,
are the only memorials Jerusalem retains of her past
eventful story ; a few sites alone can be recognised
as that of the Temple, indicated by its terraces, and
now bearing the large and magnificent mosque of
Omar al Sakara ; Mount Sion occupied by the
Armenian convent, and the tomb of David ; and it
is only with history in one's hand, and with a doubt-
ing eye, that the greater part of these can be assigned
with any degree of precision. Except the terraced
walls in the valley of Jehoshaphat, no stone bears its
date in its form or colour ; all is in ashes, or all is
John xx. t Ib - v - 4 - ; Ib. v. 5, 11.

394 nn.vs 01

modern. The miml wanders in uncertainty over tin-
horizon of the city, not knowing where to rest ; hut
the city itself, designated hy tin- circumscribed hill
on which it stood, by the different valleys which
encircled it, and especially hy the deep valley of
Ctsdron, is a monument which no eye can mistake.
There, truly, was Sion seated ; a singular ami unfor-
tunate site for the capital of a great nation. It is
rather the natural fortress of a small people, driven
from the earth, and taking refuge, with their God
and their Temple, on a soil that none could have any
interest In disputing with them ; on rocks which no
roads can render accessible ; amidst valleys destitute
of water; in a rough and sterile climate; its only
prospect mountains, calcined by the eternal fires of
volcanoes ; the mountains of Arabia and Jericho ;
and an infectious hike, without shore or navigation
the Dead Sea."

The Garden of Gethsemane * is, not without rea-
son, shown as the scene of our Saviour's agony, the
night before his crucifixion, both from the circum-
stance of the name it still retains, and its situation
in regard to the city. Titus, it is true, cut down
all the wood in the neighbourhood of .Jerusalem ; and
were this not the case, no reasonable person would
regard it as a remnant of so remote an age, notwith-
standing the story of the olive shown in the citadel
of Athens, and supposed to bear date from the
foundation of the city. But, as a spontaneous pro-
duce, uninterruptedly resulting from the original
growth of the mountain, it is impossible to view even
those with indifference.

In the upper end of the garden is a naked ledge of

rocks t, where Peter, James, and John slept. The

exact limits of this, the most interesting and hallowed

of all gardens, are not known, nor is it necessary to

~ ~


know them ; but as we read that " Christ went forth
with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where there
was a garden" (John xviii. 1), and that this garden
was in the Mount of Olives, " we felt satisfied," says
Mr. Robinson, "that we stood on the ground whereon
the Saviour had stood before ; and that the aged trees,
which now afforded us shade, were the lineal de-
scendants of those under which he often reposed ;
but more particularly on the night of his ascent.
The grot, to which he retired on this occasion, and
where, " falling down to the ground," in the agony
of his soul, and " sweating," as it were, " great
drops of blood," he was comforted by an angel
(Luke xxii. 43, 44), is still shown, and venerated
as such. It is excavated in the live rock, and the de-
scent to it is by a flight of rudely cut steps ; the form
of the interior is circular, about fifteen feet in dia-
meter, and the roof, which is supported by pilasters,
perforated in the middle to admit light : there are
some remains of sepulchres in the sides.

The cave of Gethsemane is in the valley of Jeho-
shaphat : " It was to this cavern," says La Martine,
" at the foot of the Mount of Olives, that Christ
retired, according to tradition, to escape sometimes
from the persecution of his enemies and the impor-
tunities of his disciples ; it was here he communed
with his own divine reflections, and that he implored
his Father, that the bitter cup that he had filled for
himself, and which we fill for ourselves, should pass
from his lips. It was here that he enjoined bis three
disciples to watch and pray, the evening before his
death, and not to sleep and that three times he
returned and awakened them, so prone is human
zeal and charity to slumber. It was here he passed
the terrible hours of his agony the ineffable struggle
between life and death between instinct and will
between the soul that wishes to be free, and matter,

396 RflNS ol

which resists because of its blindness. It was hem
he sweated blood and water, and that, weary of com-
bating with himself, without obtaining that victory
of his intellect, which would give peace to his
thoughts, he uttered those words, which sum up all
human godliness; those words which are become the
wisdom of the wise, and which ought to be the
epitaph of every life, and the sole aspiration of every
created being ; * My father, not my will, but thine,
be done ! ' "

The Valley of Jehoshaphat* was a deep and narrow
valley, enclosed on the north by barren heights, which
contained the sepulchres of kings, shaded on the
west by the heavy and gigantic walls of a pre-
existing city ; covered at the east by the summit of
the Mount of Olives, and crossed by a torrent which
rolled its bitter and yellow waves over the broken
rocks of the valley of Jehoshaphat. At some paces
distant, a black and bare rock detaches itself like a
promontory from the base of the mountain, and, sus-
pended over Cedron and the valley, bears several old
tombs of kings and patriarchs, formed in gigantic
and singular architecture, and strikes like the bridge
of death over the valley of lamentations.

The fountain of Siloamt rises about half way
down Mount Sion, and gushes from beneath a little
arch, nearly ten feet below the surface, into a small
pool about two feet deep ; this is quite open, and
the rocky sides of the spot are cut smooth. On the
south side a flight of steps leads down to it : the
water is clear and cold, and flows down the mount
into the valley beneath, to a considerable distance.
At this stream the women of the city generally come
to wash their linen ; and its banks are in some parts
shaded with treesj.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has the external
La Martine. ) Came. J Id.


appearance of a Roman Catholic church. Over the
door is a bas-relief, executed in a style of sculpture
which at first sight implies an antiquity higher than
that of any. Christian place of worship ; but, upon a
nearer view, is recognized the history of the Messiah's
entry into Jerusalem. Dr. Clarke is, therefore, dis-
posed to think, that it offers an example of the first
work in which Pagan sculptors represented a Chris-
tian theme. The interior of this fabric is divided into
two parts ; and in the anti-chapel is shown the mouth
of what is called the sepulchre, the stone \vhereon
the angel sat : this is a block of white marble*.

The Stone of Unction is covered by a slab of po-
lished marble in the floor of the entrance hall of the
Holy Sepulchre. On this the body of Christ was
washed, anointed, and prepared for the tomb. (St.
John, xix. 39.) It is surrounded by a low rail ;
and several rich lamps are hung suspended over it.
Advancing a few paces to the left, we come into that
part of the church, properly denominated the nave.
It is an open space in the form of a circle, about
thirty-five paces in diameter, and surrounded by six-
teen pillars, supporting galleries, and covered in by a
dome, not unlike that of the Pantheon at Rome. In
the centre of this area, and immediately under the
aperture through which the light is admitted, rises a
small oblong building of marble, twenty feet in
length, by ten in breadth, and about fifteen feet in
height, surmounted by a small cupola, standing
upon columns ; this covers the supposed site of the
Saviour's tomb. It is approached by steps leading
into an anti-room, or chapelt.

The following account is given by Dr. Richard-
son : " Having passed w ,hin these sacred walls,"
says he, " the attention is first directed to a large flat
stone in the floor, a little within the door ; it is sur-

* Robinson. -J- Id.

398 RTINS in- \M [BK r on

rounded by a rail, and several lamps h;ui^ suspended

over it. The pilgrims approach it on their knees,
touch and kiss it. and, prostrating thrmselvt -. liefm-e
it, offer up their prayers in holy adoration. This is
the iom>, it is said, on which the body of our Lord
was washed and anointed, and prepared for the tomb.
Turning to the left, and proceeding a little forward,
we came into a round space immediately under the
dome, surrounded with sixteen large columns which
support the gallery above. In the centre of this space
stands the Holy Sepulchre ; it is enclosed in an
oblong house, rounded atone end, with small arcades,
or chapels for prayer, on the outside of it. These are
for the Copts, the Abyssinians, the Syrian .Manmitcs,
and other Christians, who are not, like the Roman
Catholics, the Greeks, and Armenians, provided with
large chapels in the body of the church. At the
other end it is squared off, and furnished with a plat-
form in front, which is ascended by a flight of steps,
having a small parapet wall of marble on each hand,
and floored with the same material. In the middle
of this small platform, stands a block of polished mar-
ble, about a foot and a half square ; on this stone (it
is said) sat the angel, who announced the blessed
tidings of the resurrection to Mary Magdalene, and
Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. Advanc-
ing, and taking off our shoes and turbans at the
desire of the keeper, he drew aside the curtain, and
stepping down, and bending almost to the ground, we
entered by a low narrow door into this mansion of
victory,' where Christ triumphed over the grave, and
disarmed Death of all his terrors. Here the mind
looks on Him, who, though He knew no sin, yet - n-
tered the mansion of the dead to redeem us from
death, and the prayers of a grateful heart ascend with
arisen Saviour to the presence of God in heaven."
" Christians," says MODS. Chateaubriand, " will


inquire, perhaps, what my feelings wore on entering
this holy place ? I really cannot tell. So many re-
flections rushed at once into my mind, that I was
tmahle to dwell upon any particular idea. I conti-
nued near half an hour upon my knees, in the little
chamber of the Holy Sepulchre, with my eyes riveted
upon the stone, from which I had not the power to
turn them. One of the two monks, who accompanied
me, remained prostrate on the marble by my side ;
while the other, with the Testament in his hand, read
to me, by the light of the lamps, the passages relating
to the sacred tomb. All I can say is, that when I
beheld this triumphant sepulchre, I felt nothing
but my own weakness ; and that when my guide
exclaimed, with St. Paul, ' O Death, where is thy
victory? O Grave, where is thy sting ?' I listened,
as if Death was about to reply, that he was con-
quered, and enchained in this monument*."


LELI^E, the first king of Laconia, began his reign
about 1516 years before the Christian era. Tyn-
darust, the ninth king of Lacedaemon, had, by Leda,
Castor and Pollux, who were twins, besides Helena,
and Clytemnestra, the wife of Agamemnon, king of
Mycenae. Having survived his son, he began to
think of choosing a successor, by looking out for a
husband for his daughter Helena. All the pretenders
to this princess bound themselves by oath, to abide
by, and entirely submit to, the choice which the lady
herself should make, who determined in favour of
Menelaus. She had not lived above three years with
her husband, before she was carried off by Paris, son

* Josephus ; Tacitus ; Prideaux ; Rollin ; Stackhouse ; Po-
cocke ; D'Anville; Gibbon; Rccs ; Brewster ; Clarke ; Eustace;
Chateaubriand ; Buckingham ; Robinson ; La Martiue ; Carne.
t Rollin,

400 nrixs OF ANrrrNT

of Priam, king of the Trojans, which r;i]>e was the
cause of the Trojan war. The Greeks took Troy
after a siege of ten years, about the year of the world
2820, and 1184 before Christ.

Eighty years after the taking of this city, the
Hcraclidae re-entered the Peloponnesus, aii'l M r/.t <1
Lnctdivmon; when two brothers, Eur\>tlirne* :uid
Procles, sons of Aristodemus, began to reign toge-
ther, and from their time the sceptre always continued
jointly in the hands of the descendants of those two

Many years after this, Lycurgus instituted that
body of laws, which rendered both the Ir^i-lnti r ;
and the republic so famous in history : and since the
constitution of Lycurgus seems to have been the true
groundwork of our own, we insert some few parti-
culars in respect to it ; for the ruins of institutions
are even more important subjects of contemplation
than those of the walls in which they were engen-
dered. The following account is taken from Rollin.
We have not space, however, for the whole of his
observations; we shall select, therefore, only the
most important ones. Of all the institutions, made
by Lycurgus, the most considerable was that of the
senate ; which, by tempering and balancing the too
absolute power of the kings uy an authority of equal
weight and influence with theirs, became the prin-
cipal support and preservation of the state. For
whereas, before, it wa* ever unsteady, and tending
one while to tyranny, by the violent proceedings of
the kings ; at other times towards democracy, by the
excessive power of the people, the senate served as
a kind of counterpoise to both ; which kept the state
in a due equilibrium, and preserved it in a firm and
steady situation ; the twenty-eight senators, of which
it consisted, siding with the king, when the people
were aiming at too much power ; and, on the other


hand, espousing the interests of the people whenever
the kings attempted to carry their authority too far.

Lycurgus having thus tempered the government,
those that came after him thought the power of the
senate too absolute ; and, therefore, as a check upon
them, they devised the authority of the Ephori.
These were five in number, and remained but one
year in office. They were all chosen out of the
people, and in that respect considerably resembled
the tribunes of the people among the Romans. Their
authority extended to the arresting and imprisoning
the persons of their kings. This institution began in
the reign of Theopompus, whose wife reproached him,
that he would leave his children the regal authority
in a worse condition than he had received it. "No!"
said he, " on. the contrary, I shall leave it them in a
much better condition ; as it will be more permanent
and lasting." The Spartan government then was not
purely monarchical. The nobility had a share in it,
and the people were not excluded. Each part of this
body politic, in proportion as it contributed to the
public good, found in it their advantage.

The second institution of Lycurgus was the divi-
sion of the lands, which he looked upon as absolutely
necessary for establishing peace and good order in
the commonwealth. The major part of the people
were so poor, that they had not one inch of land of
their own, whilst a small number of particular per-
sons were possessed of all the lands and wealth of
the country. In order to banish insolence, envy,
fraud, luxury, and two other distempers of the state,
still greater and more ancient than those, excessive
poverty and excessive wealth, he persuaded the citi-
zens to give up all their lands to the commonwealth,
and to make a new division of them.

This scheme, as extraordinary as it was, was im-
mediately executed. Lycurgus divided the lands of



Laconia into thirty thousand parts, which lie
bated among an equal number of citizens. It is suit!
that, some years after, as Lycurgus was returning
from a long journey, and passing through the lands
of Laconia, in the time of harvest, and observing, as
he went along, the perfect equality of the reaped
corn, he turned towards those who were with him,
and said smilingly, " Does not Laconia look like the
possession of several brothers, who have just been
dividing their inheritance among them ?"

After having divided their immoveables, he under-
took likewise to make the same equal division of nil
their moveable goods and chattels, that he might
utterly banish all manner of equality from among
them. But perceiving that this would go against
the grain, if he went openly about it, he endeavoured
to effect it by sapping the very foundations of ava-
rice. For first he cried down all gold and silver
money, and'ordained that no other should be current
than that of iron; which he made so very heavy, and
fixed at so low a rate, that a cart and two oxen were
necessary to carry home a sum of ten minas (about
20/.), and a whole chamber to keep it in.

Being desirous to make a yet more effectual war
upon luxury, and utterly to extirpate the love of
riches, Lycurgus made a third regulation, which
was that of public meals. That he might entirely
suppress all the magnificence and extravagance of
expensive tables, he ordained, that all the citizens
should eat together of the same common victuals,
which the law prescribed, and expressly forbade all
private eating at their own houses. The tables
consisted of about fifteen persons each ; where none
could be admitted but with the consent of the whole
company. Each person furnished, every month, a
bushel of flour, eight measures of wine, five pounds
of cheese, two and a half pounds of figs, and a small


sum of money for preparing and cooking the food.
The very children ate at these public tables, and
were carried thither as to a school of wisdom and
temperance. Nay, they were sure to see nothing
but what tended to their instruction and entertain-
ment. The conversation was often enlivened with in-
genious and sprightly raillery, but never intermingled
with any thing vulgar or shocking ; and if their jest-
ing seemed to make any person uneasy, they never
proceeded any farther. Here their children were
likewise trained up, and accustomed to great secrecy;
as soon as a young man came into the dining-room,
the oldest of the company used to say to him, point-

Online LibraryCharles BuckeRuins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) → online text (page 31 of 36)