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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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seated on a throne, with the city of Megalopolis in
his right hand, and Diana Conservatrix on his left.
The marble of which it is made is the production of
the quarries of Mount Pentelicus, near Athens.

430 if TINS or AM 11 NT CITIES.

The theatro at Megalopolis was the largest in
Greece. The circular part still remains; luit tin-
seats are covered with earth and overgrown with
bushes. Part of the walls of the pmsc< nium an' also
seen facing the Helisson, a small but rapid river,
which flows a few yards to the east.

The remains of the temples are dubious ; some
masses of walls and scattered blocks of columns
indicate their situations ; without indicating the
divinities to whose worship they were consecrated.
The soil being much raised, Mr. Dodwell thinks that
it may conceal several remains of the city.

There are several other ruins at the distance of a
few miles from Megalopolis, which recent travellers
have not been able to visit on account of the troubles
which have lately prevailed in almost every part of
the Morea*.


M i.i, AH A. a city of Achaia, formerly possessed
such a multitude of objects for a stranger to see, that
Pausanias, in his description of Greece, occupies no
less than six chapters in the mere enumeration of

Megara was founded 1131 B.C. It is situate at
an equal distance from Athens and Corinth, and is
built on two rocks. Its founder has been variously
stated. Some have insisted that it was called after
Megareus, the son of Apollo ; some after Megarius, a
Boeotian chief; and others after Megara, a supposed
wife of Hercules. However this may be, certain,
we believe, it is, that, under the reign of Codrus, the
Peloponnesians having declared war against the Athe-
nians, and miscarried in their enterprise, returned
and took possession of Megara, which they peopled
with Corinthians. It was originally governed by
twelve kings, but afterwards became a republic. The
*Ikrthely; Bollin; Beet; Dodwelh


ancient Megarcans are said to have excelled in no-
thing but naval affairs. They were reckoned the
worst people of Greece, and were generally detested
as fraudulent and perfidious *. Their military acts
were few, and not brilliant. They were bandied about
by the Athenians and Corinthians, and had all the
bad qualities of insolent slaves, or servile and de-
pendent friends. Such having been the case, we are
not surprised at what Tertullian says of the Mega-
reans ; viz., that they ate as if they were to die the
next day, and built, as if they were to live for ever.
Megara, however, was not without some redeeming
qualities, for it had at one time a school for philo-
sophy, so highly distinguished, that Euclid was at
the head of it.

Megara has been greatly distinguished from the
circumstance of Phocion having been buried in its
territories. The enemies of Phocion, not satisfied
with the punishment they had caused him to suffer,
and believing some particulars were still wanting to
complete their triumph, obtained an order from the
people, that his body should be carried out of the
dominions of Attica, and that none of the Athenians
should contribute the least quantity of wood to
honour his funeral pile : these last offices were there-
fore rendered to him in the territories of Megara. A
lady of the country, who accidentally assisted at his
funeral with her -servants, caused a cenotaph, or
vacant toiub, to be erected to his memory on the
same spot ; and, collecting into her robe the bones of
that great man, which she had carefully gathered up,
she conveyed them into her house by night, and
buried them under her hearth, with these expres-
sions r " Dear and sacred hearth, I here confide to
thee, and deposit in thy bosom, these precious
remains of a worthy man. Preserve them with fide-
lity, in order to restore them hereafter to the momi-
* Thucydides; Dodwell.


mi-lit <>f his ancestors, \vln-n tlu- Athenians shall
become wiser than they an- ;it present."

Megara still retains it name : it has been pvatly
infested by c-orsairs ; insomuch that in 167(i, the in-
habitants were accustomed, on seeing a boat approach-
ing in the daytime, or hearing their do^s bark by
night, immediately to secrete their effects and run
away. The Vaiwode, who lived in a forsaken tower,
above the village, was once carried off.

Besides two citadels, Megara had several magnifi-
cent structures and ornaments. One was an aque-
duct, distinguished for its grandeur and beauty ;
another fora statue of Diana, the protectress; and
to these were added statues of the twelve great gods,
of so much excellence, that they were ascribed to
Praxiteles; a group, consecrated to Jupiter Olym-
pius, in which was a statue of that deity, with its
face of gold and ivory, and the rest of the body of
burnt earth. There were also a temple of Bacrlm-.
and another of Venus ; a third of Ceres, a fourth of
Apollo, a fifth of Diana, and a sixth of Minerva ; in
which last was a statue of the goddess, the body of
which was gilt, and the face, feet, and hands of
ivory. There was, also, a chapel dedicated to the
Night. Pausanias speaks, also, of several tombs ;
especially those of Hyllus, Alcmenes, Therea, and
Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons.

In Wheler's time, Megara was TV collection of piti-
ful cottages, whose walls were sometimes only the
broken stones of her ruins, or clay dried in the sun,
covered only with faggots ; and these again spread
over with earth above them*.

Chandler describes the site of Megara as covered
with rubbish, amongst which were standing somo
ruinous churches ; some pieces of ancient wall, on
which a modern fortress has been erected. The vil-
lage consisting of low, mean cottages, pleasantly
situated on the slope of an eminence, indented in the


middle. Nearly the whole site of the ancient city
he found green with corn, and marked by heaps of
stones, and the rubbish of buildings. A few inscrip-
tions, too, were seen : one of which relates to Herodes
Atticus, signalising the gratitude of the Megareans,
for his benefactions and good will. There was
another on a stone : " This, too, is the work of the
most magnificent Count Diogenes, the son of Arche-
laus, ic ho, regarding the Grecian cities as his own
family, has bestowed on that of the Megarensians 100
pieces of gold towards the fanlding of their towers;
and also 150 more, with 2200 feet of marble, toward
re-edifying the bath ; deeming nothing more honour-
able than to do good to the Greeks, and to restore their

The person here signalised was one of the generals
of the emperor Anastasius, who employed him on a
rebellion in Isauria, A. D. 494.

Wheler also gives an inscription in " honour of
Callimachus, Scribe and Gymnasiarch," and several
others. Dr. Clarke also saw one, setting forth that,
" under the care of Julius, the proconsul, and the
prcetorship of Aiscron, this (monument or statue) is
raised by the Adrianidce to Adrian."

Several other inscriptions have been found ; one in
honour of the Empress Sabina ; and others in praise
of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. There 13
another, too, in honour of a person, who had been
several times conqueror in .almost all the public games
in Greece and Italy. There was, also (formerly),
another inscription, still more honourable. This was
on the tomb of a person named Choreebus, in which
was related, in elegiac verse, the history of his
having devoted himself to death, in order to free
his native country (Thebes) from the evils of a

* This story is told at length in Statius's Thebaid.


The Earl of Sandwich mentions two statues of
women, about eight feet high, without heads ; and
having no attributes to show for -what they were

Clarke says, that Ionic and Doric capitals, some
of whicli are of limestone, and others of marble,
lie scattered among the ruins, and in the courts of
some of the houses. He procured, also, a few frag-
ments of terra-cotta, of a bright red hue, beautifully

Chandler speaks of the remains of a temple of
Minerva, near a large basin of water ; on the sides
of which are the remains of a bath, remarkable for
its size and ornaments, and for the number of its

The stone of Megara was of a kind unknown any
where else in Hellas; very white, and consisting
entirely of cockle shells ; which, not being hard, may
be reckoned among the causes of the destruction of

Another cause of destruction may be supposed to
have originated in its locality ; it being the great road
leading to and from the peninsula, as well as its
immediate situation between the two powerful ene-
mies, the Athenians and Corinthians, with whom
the Megareans had frequent contests concerning the
boundaries of their respective territories. If its
situation, however, was the cause of its destruction,
it was, also, the one great cause of its consequence*. '

Megara is well known from the following anec-
dote. The city of Megara being taken by De-
metrius, the soldiers demanded leave to plunder
the inhabitants ; but the Athenians interceded for
them so effectually, that the city was saved. Stilpon,
a celebrated philosopher, lived in that city, and
was visited by Demetrius, who asked him if he had
* Dodwell.


lost any thing ? " Nothing at all," replied Stilpou,
" for I carry all my effects about me ;" meaning by
that expression, his justice, probity, temperance, and
wisdom ; with the advantage of not ranking any
thing in the class of blessings that could be taken
from him*.


THERE are said to be in Upper Egypt thirty-four
temples, still in existence, and five palaces. The most
ancient have been constructed chiefly of sand-stone,
and a few with calcareous stone. Granite was only
used in obelisks and colossal statues. After the seat
of empire was removed to Memphis, granite was
made use of.

- Memphis, according to Herodotus, was built (eight
generations after Thebes) by Menes ; but Diodorus
attributes its origin to Uchoreus, one of the suc-
cessors of Osymandyas, king of Thebes. To recon-
cile this want of agreement, some authors ascribe
the commencement to Menes, and its completion and
aggrandisement to Uchoreus, who first made it a
royal city.

The occasion of its having been erected, is thus
stated t : A king of Egypt having turned the
course of the Nile, which diffused itself over the sands
of Lybia, and the Delta being formed from the mud
of its waters, canals were cut to drain Lower Egypt.
The monarchs, who till then had resided at Thebes,
removed nearer the mouth of the river, to enjoy an
air more temperate, and be more ready to defend the
entrance of their empire. They founded the city of
Memphis, and eadeavoured to render it equal to the
ancient capital; decorating it with many temples,
among which that of Vulcan drew the attention of

* Thucydides ; Pausanias ; Plutarch ; Rollin ; Wheler ; Chand-
ler; Barthelemy; Dodwell. t Savary.
F F2


travellers : its grandeur and sumptuousncss of rich
ornaments, each excited admiration. Another temple
beside the barren plain was dedicated to Scrapis,
the principal entrance to which had a sphinx avenue.
Egypt has always been oppressed with sands, which,
accumulating here, half buried some of the sphinxes,
and others up to the neck, in the time of Strabo : at
present they have disappeared. To prevent this dis-
aster, they built a large mound on the south side,
which also served as a barrier against the inunda-
tions of the river, and the encroachments of the
enemy. The palace of the kings and a fortress built
on the mountain, defended it on the west; the Nile
on the east; and to the north were the lakes, beyond
which were the plain of mummies, and the cause-
way which led from Busiris to the great pyramids.
Thus situated, Memphis commanded the valley of
Egypt, and communicated by canals with the lakes
Mosris and Mareotis. Its citizens might traverse
the kingdom in boats ; and it therefore became
the centre of wealth, commerce, and arts; where
geometry, invented by the Egyptians, flourished.
Hither the Greeks came to obtain knowledge, which,
carrying into their own country, they brought to
perfection. Thebes, and her hundred gates, lay for-
gotten, and on the hill near Memphis, rose those
proud monuments, those superb mausoleums, which
alone, of all the Wonders of the World, have braved
destructive time, and men still more destructive.

Strabo says, that in this city there were many
palaces, situated along the side of a hill, stretching
down to lakes and groves, forty stadia from the city.
" The principal deities of Memphis," says Mr.
Wilkinson, ** were Pthah, Apis, and Butastis ; and
the goddess Isis had a magnificent temple in this
city, erected by Amasis, who also dedicated a recum-
bent colossus, seventy-five feet long, in the temple of


Pthah or Vulcan. This last was said to have been
founded by Menes, and was enlarged and beautified
by succeeding monarchs. Moeris erected the northern
vestibule ; and Sesostris, besides the colossal statues,
made considerable additions with enormous blocks of
stone, which he employed his prisoners of war to
drag to the temple. Pheron, his son, also enriched
it with suitable presents, on the recovery of his sight;
and on the south of the temple of Palain, were added
the sacred grove and chapel of Proteons. The western
vestibule was the work of Rhampsinetus, who also
erected two statues, twenty-five cubits in height ;
and that on the east was Asychis. It was the largest
and most magnificent of all these propyla, and ex-
celled as well in the beauty of its sculpture as its
dimensions. Several grand additions were afterwards
made by Psamaticus, who, besides the southern ves-
tibule, erected a large hypaethral court, where Apis
was kept, when exhibited in public. It wae sur-
rounded by a peristyle of figures, twelve cubits
in height, which served instead of columns, and
which were no doubt similar to those in the Memno-
nium at Thebes."

Diodorus and Strabo speak highly of its power
and opulence : " Never was there a city," observes
the former of these, " which received so many offer-
ings in silver, gold, obelisks, and colossal statues."

The first shock this city received was from the
Persians*. Cambyses, having invaded Egypt, sent a
herald to Memphis, to summon the inhabitants to
surrender. The people, however, transported with
rage, fell upon the herald, and tore him to pieces,
and all that were with him. Cambyses, having soon
after taken the place, fully revenged the indignity,
causing ten times as many Egyptians of the prime



nobility, as there had been of his people
to be publicly executed. Among these was the ehli-st
son of Psamiuenitua. As for the' king himself, C'ain-
byses was inclined to treat him kindly. He not only
spared his life, but appointed him an honourable
maintenance. But the Egyptian monarch, little
affected by this kind usage, did what ho could to
raise new troubles and commotions, in order to recover
his kingdom ; as a punishment for which he was
made to drink bull's blood, and died immediately.
His reign lasted but six months; after which all
Egypt submitted to the conqueror.

When the tyrant came back from Thebes, he dis-
missed all the Greeks, and sent them to their respec-
tive homes ; but on his return into the city, finding
it full of rejoicing, he fell into a great rage, supposing
all this to have been for the ill success of his expe-
dition. He therefore called the magistrates before
him, to know the meaning of these rejoicings ; and
upon their telling him that it was because tney had
found their god, Apis, he would not believe them ;
but caused them to be put to death, as impostors,
that insulted him in his misfortunes. And when
he sent for the priests, who made him the same
answer, he replied, that since their god was so
kind and familiar as to appear among them, he would
be acquainted with him, and therefore commanded
him forthwith to be brought to him. But when,
instead of a god he saw a calf, he was strangely
astonished, and falling again into a rage, he drew out
his dagger, and run it into the thigh of the beast ;
and then upbraiding the priests for their stupidity in
worshipping a brute for a god, ordered them to be
severely whipped, and all the Egyptians in Memphis,
that should be found celebrating the feast of Apis, to
be slain. The god was carried back to the temple,
where he languished for some time and then died. The


Egyptians say, that after this fact, which they reckon
the highest instance of impiety that ever was com-
mitted among them, Cambyses grew mad. But his
actions show that he had been mad long before.

The splendour of Upper Egypt terminated with
the invasion of Cambyses. He carried with him not
only conquest, but destruction. His warfare was
not merely with the people, but with their palaces
and temples.

At a subsequent period, Memphis was taken by
Alexander. The account we give of that event is
from the same author*. As soon as Alexander had
ended the siege of Gaza, he left a garrison there, and
turned the whole power of his army towards Egypt.
In seven days' march he arrived before Pelusium,
whither a great number of Egyptians had assembled,
with all imaginable diligence, to recognize him for
their sovereign. The hatred these people bore to
the Persians was so great, that they valued very
little who should be their king, provided they could
but meet with a hero, to rescue them from the inso-
lence and indignity with which themselves, and
those who professed their religion, were treated.
Ochus had caused their god Apis to be murdered, in
a manner highly injurious to themselves and their
religion ; and the Persians, to whom he had left the
government, continued to make the same mock of
that deity. Thus several circumstances had rendered
the Persians so odious, that upon Amyntas's coming
a little before with a handful of men, he found them
prepared to join, and assist him in expelling the

This Amyntas had deserted from Alexander, and
entered into the service of Darius. He had com-
manded the Grecian forces at the battle of Issus ;
and having fled into Syria, by the country lying
* Rollin.


toward Tripoli, with four thousand mm, he had
there seized upon as many vessels as hi- wanted,
burned the rest, and immediately set sail toward-
the island of Cyprus, and afterwards toward* IVlu-
sium, which he took by surprise. As soon as he
found himself possessed of this important city, he
threw off the mask, and made public pretensions to
the crown of Egypt ; declaring that tin- motive of
his coming was to expel the .Persians. Upon this, a
multitude of Egyptians, who wished for nothing
so earnestly as to free themselves from these insup-
portable tyrants, went over to him. lie then
marched directly to Memphis, when, coming to a
battle, he defeated the Persians, and shut them up
in the city. But, after he had gained the victory,
having neglected to keep his soldiers together, they
straggled up and down in search of plunder, which
the enemy seeing, they sallied out upon such as re-
mained, and cut them to pieces, with Amyntas their
leader. This event, so far from lessening the aver-
sion the Egyptians had for the Persians, increased it
still more ; so that the moment Alexander appeared
upon the frontiers, the people, who were all disposed
to receive that monarch, ran in crowds to submit to
him. His arrival, at the head of a powerful army,
presented them with a secure protection, which
Amyntas could not afford them ; and, from this
consideration, they all declared openly in his favour.
Mazteus, who commanded in Memphis, finding it
would be to no purpose for him to resist so trium-
phant an army, since Darius, his sovereign, was
not in a condition to succour him. set open the
gates of the city to the conqueror, and gave up eight
hundred talents, (about 140,000,) and all the king's
furniture. Thus Alexander possessed himself of all
Egypt, without the least opposition.

On the founding of Alexandria by the Macedonian


conqueror, Memphis lost the honour of being the
metropolis of E^ypt ; and its history became so ob-
scure, that little knowledge of it is preserved in
history. We must, therefore, now content ourselves
with stating to what a condition it is now reduced.

Of this celebrated city, which, according to Dio-
dorus Siculus, was not less than seven leagues in
circumference, and contained a multitude of beautiful
temples, not one stone remains to tell the history ;
even the site on which it stood being disputed.
" Is it not astonishing," says Savary, " that the site
of the ancient metropolis of Egypt, a city containing
magnificent temples and palaces, which art laboured
to render eternal, should at present be a subject of
dispute among the learned ? Pliny removes the diffi-
culty of past doubts the three grand pyramids, seen
by the watermen from all parts, stand on a barren
and rocky hill, between Memphis and Delta, one
league from the Nile, two from Memphis, and near
the village of Busiris." Rennell, however, says, that
Memf is on the site of Memphis ; since Abulfeda
describes it as being a short day's journey from
Cairo : Memf being only fourteen road miles from
that city. M. Maillet says, " The most probable
opinion is, that this superb city was built at the
entrance of the town of mummies, at the north of
which the pyramids are placed : the prodigious ruins
which present themselves in this spot will serve for
along time as proofs of the greatness of that city,
of which they are remains, and the incontestible
evidences of its true position." Again, he says,
that " out of so many superb monuments, &c., there
remain only at present some shapeless ruins of broken
columns of ruined obelisks, and some other buildings
fallen to decay, which one still discovers at the bottom
of the lake, when the increase of the Nile is too small
to furnish it with its usual supply of water. This


circumstance has twice happened during my seventeen
years' consulship, particularly in the year 1677, wlirn
the surf ace of the lake sank betweeni'ijjht and nineiWt,
and discovered at the bottom of this vast reservoir a
kind of city, which excited the admiration of r\<-ry
one. This lake can never be dried up, or drawn oft'
again as before ; because they have neglected to keep
up the canal which served to drain off the water.
There are, also, some heaps of ruins in the plain of
three leagues in width, that separates the northern
from the southern pyramids, and in which this aiu-icnt
city extended from the borders of the lake towards
the Nile eastward. These are the faint traces of so
much magnificence."

Dr. Shaw is of opinion that Djizeh, or Giseh,
now occupies the site of Memphis; and that tho
city is entirely buried in soil. Other authorities,
however, place it, and perhaps with greater pro-
bability, near the village of Menshee or Dashoo.
Norden says : " If we give credit to some authors,
the city of Memphis was situated in the place
where at present stands the village of Gize, and I
own that this opinion does not want probability.
But if we attend to it carefully, we shall find it
necessary to strike off a great deal of grandeur of
that ancient capital of Egypt, or else raise extremely
all the plains about it. In effect, Gize does not occupy
half the space of Old Cairo, and the plains that extend
all round never fail to be delnged at the time of the
overflowing of the waters of the Nile. It is incredible,
that they should have built a city, so great and
famous, in a place subject to be under water half of
the year ; still less can it be imagined that the ancient
authors have forgotten so particular a place."

Mr. Browne says: " I visited the pleasant site of the
ancient Memphis on the left bank of the Nile, about
two hours to the south of Kahira, in a plain about


three miles broad, between the river and the moun-
tains. The land is now laid down in corn, with date-
trees toward the mountains. Nothing remains except
heaps of rubbish, in which are found pieces of
sculptured stone. The spot has been surrounded by
a canal. Its extent might be marked by that of the

Online LibraryCharles BuckeRuins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) → online text (page 34 of 36)