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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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citizens and countrymen ; and was under no obliga-
tion to the declared enemies of Greece. Kings are
not used to denials. Artaxerxes, therefore, in the
highest transports of rage, sent to the city of Cos,
the native place of Hippocrates, and where he was at
that time ; commanding them to deliver up to him
that insolent wretch, in order that he might be
brought to condign punishment ; and threatening, in
case they refused, to lay waste their city and island
in such a manner, that not the least footsteps of it
should remain. However, the inhabitants of Cos
were not under the least terror. They made answer,
that the menaces of Darius and Xerxes had not been
able to prevail with them to give them earth and
water, or to obey their orders; that Artaxerxes'


threats would be equally impotent ; that, let what
would be the consequence, they would never give up
their fellow citizens ; and that they depended upon
the protection of the gods.

" Hippocrates had said in one of his letters, that
he owed himself entirely to his country. And, in-
deed, the instant he was sent for to Athens, he went
thither, and did not once stir out of the city till the
plague had ceased. He devoted himself entirely to
the service of the sick; and, to multiply himself, as it
were, he sent several of his disciples into all parts of
the country, after having instructed them in what
manner to treat their patients. The Athenians were
struck with the deepest sense of gratitude for this
generous care. They therefore ordained, by a public
decree, that Hippocrates should be initiated in the
most exalted mysteries, in the same manner as Her-
cules the son of Jupiter ; that a cro\vn of gold should
be presented him, of the value of a thousand staters*,
and that the decree by which it was granted him,
should be read aloud by a herald in the public games,
on the solemn festival of Panathenaea : that the free-
dom of the city should be given him, and himself be
maintained at the public charge, in the Prytaneum
all his lifetime, in case he thought proper : in fine,
that the children of all the people of Cos, whose city
had given birth to so great a man, might be main-
tained and brought up in Athens, in the same man-

In the time of Agis and Pausanias, kings of Lace-
demonia, Lysander was sent to besiege Athens. He
arrived, therefore, at the Piraeus, with a fleet of one
hundred and fifty sail, and prevented all other
ships from coming in or going out. The Athenians,
besieged by land and sea, without provisions, ships,

* The Attic stater was a gold coin weighing two drachms.

80 Ul'IN- of AN i 1 ! NT ( 1 :

hope of relief, or any nx.iim >, sent deputies to A
to propose a treat v with Sparta, upon condition of
abandoning all their possessions, the city ami port
only excepted. lie referred the depntio to l,aeede-
mon, as not being empowered to treat witli them.
"NVlini they arrived at Salasia, upon the frontier of
Sparta, and had made known their commission to
the Kphori, they were ordered to retire, and to c
with other proposals, if they expected a peace. Tin;
Kphori had demanded, " that one thousand two
hundred paces of the wall on eaeh side of the Pinrns
should be demolished;" but an Athenian, for venturing
to advise a compliance, was sent to prison, and pro-
hibition made against proposing any thing of that
kind for the future.

The Corinthians and several other allies, especially
the Thcbans, insisted that it was absolutely neccs-nry
to destroy the city without hearkening any further to
a treaty. But the Lacedemonians, preferring the
glory and safety of Greece to their own grandeur,
made answer, that they would never be reproached
with having destroyed a city that had rendered such
great services to all Greece ; the remembrance of
which ought to have much greater weight with the
allies than the remembrance of private injuries re-
ceived from it. A peace was, therefore, concluded
under these conditions: " that the fortifications of
the Pirams, with the long wall that joined that port
to the city, should be demolished ; that the Athe-
nians should deliver up all their galleys, twelve only
cxccpted ; that they should abandon all the cities
they had seized, and content themselves with their
own lands and country." The deputies, on their re-
turn, were surrounded by an innumerable throng of
people, who apprehended that nothing had been con-
cluded ; for they were not abtato hold out any longer,


such multitudes dying of famine. The next day
they reported the success of their negociation ; the
treaty was ratified, and Lysander, followed by the
exiles, entered the port. It was on the very day the
Athenians had formerly gained the famous battle of
Salamis. He caused the works to be demolished to
the sound of flutes and trumpets, as if all Greece had
that day regained its liberty. Thus ended the Pelo-
ponnesian war, after having continued during the
space of twenty-seven years.

The walls, thus demolished, were rebuilt by
Conon. .He did more; he restored Athens to it?
former splendour, and rendered it more formidable to
its enemies than it had ever been before.

Philip* having gained the battle of Cheronasa,
Greece, and above all, Athens, received a blow from
which she never recovered. It was generally ex-
pected, that Philip would avail himself of this
opportunity of entirely crushing his inveterate enemy.
That prudent prince, however, foresaw that powerful
obstacles were yet to be encountered, and that
there was still a spirit in the Athenian people which
might render it difficult to hold them in subjection.
It would appear, also, says an elegant writer,
as if the genius and fame of Athens had, in the
hour of her calamity, thrown a shield over her : for
Philip is reported to have said, " Have I done so
much for glory, and shall I destroy the theatre of
that glory f( . " A treaty, in consequence, was entered
into ; and thus the Athenians, though reluctant to
exist by Philip's clemency, were permitted .to retain
the whole Attic territory.

The number of men able to bear arms at Athens,
in the reign of Cecrops, was computed at twenty
thousand ; and there appears to have been no con-
siderable augmentation in the more civilised age of

* Brewstcr.

-_' i:riNs or AMir.NT crrn:>.

IVrirles; but in the time of Demetrius IMialareu.*,
there were found twenty-one thousand eiti'/ens, ten
thousand foreigners, and forty thousand sla\

I'hilip*, son of Demetrius of Macedon, seems to
have heen one of the most inveterate enemies by
whom Athens was ever ravaged. With unsparing
cruelty he destroyed almost every thing whieh lia<l
either escaped the Persian invaders, or which had
been erected after their final expulsion. Livy tells
us. that, not content with burning and destroying
the temples of the gods, he ordered that the very
stones should be broken into small pieces, that they
might no longer serve to repair the buildings ; and
Diodorus Siculus asserts, that even the inviolability
of the sepulchres could not command his respect, or
repress his violence.

Athens, however, still recovered some portion of
its power ; for when Sylla arrived before the Pirseus,
he found the walls to be sixty feet high, and entirely
of hewn stone. The work was very strong, and had
been raised by order of Pericles in the Peloponnesian
war : when, the hopes of victory depending solely
upon this port, he had fortified it to the utmost of
his power.

The height of the walls did not deter Sylla. He
employed all sorts of engines in battering them, and
made continual assaults. He spared neither danger,
attacks, nor expense, to hasten the conclusion of the
war. Without enumerating the rest of the warlike
stores and equipage, twenty thousand mules wen-
perpetually employed in working the machines only.
Wood happening to fall short, from the great con-
gumption made of it in the machines, which were
often either broken or spoiled by the vast weight they
carried, or burned by the enemy, he did not spare
the sacred groves. He cut down the trees in the


walks of the Academy and Lycanim, which were the
finest and best planted in the suburbs, and caused
the high walls that joined the port to the city to be
demolished, in order to make use of the ruins in
erecting his works, and carrying on his operations.

Notwithstanding all disadvantages, the Athenians
defended themselves like lions. They found means
either to burn most of the machines erected against
the walls, or by undermining them, to throw them
down and break them to pieces. The Romans, on
their side, behaved with no less vigour. Sylla, dis-
couraged by so obstinate a defence, resolved to attack
the Piraeus no longer, and confined himself to reduce
the place by famine. The city was now at the last
extremity; a bushel of barley having been sold in it
for a thousand drachms (about 251. sterling). In
the midst of the public misery, the governor, who
was a lieutenant of Mithridates, passed his days and
nights in debauch. The senators and priests went
to throw themselves at his feet, conjuring him to
have pity on the city, and to obtain a capitulation
from Sylla; he dispersed them with arrow-shot, and
in that manner drove them from his presence.

He did not demand a cessation of arms, nor send
deputies to Sylla, till reduced to the last extremity.
As those deputies made no proposals, and asked
nothing of him to the purpose, but ran on in praising
and extolling Theseus, Eumolpus, and the exploits
of the Athenians against the Medes, Sylla was tired
of their discourse, and interrupted them by saying,
" Gentlemen haranguers, you may go back again,
and keep your rhetorical flourishes to yourselves. For
my part, I was not sent to Athens to be informed of
your ancient prowess, but to chastise your modern

During this audience, some spies having entered
the city, overheard by chance some old men

v < i;ci.\> <>r AM ii. NT

talking of the quarter called (Yramicus (the public
place at Athens), and blaming the tyrant exceedingly
tor not guarding a certain part of the wall that was
the only place by which the enemy could scale the
\\alls. At their .return the camp, they related
what they heard to Sylla. The parley had been to
no purpose. Sylla did not neglect the intelligent
given him. The next night he went in person to
take a view of the place ; and finding the wall
aetnally accessible, he ordered ladders to be rai.-rd
against it, began the attack there, and, having made
himself master of the wall, after a weak resistance,
entered the city. He would not suffer it to ]>
on fire, but abandoned it to be plundered by his sol-
diers, who, in several houses, found human flr-h,
which had been dressed to bo eaten. A dreadful
slaughter ensued. The next day all the slaves were
sold by auction, and liberty was granted to the
citizens who had escaped the swords of the soldiers,
who were a very small number. He besieged tin-
citadel the same day, where Aristion and those who
had taken refuge there, were soon so much reduced
by famine, that they were forced to surrender them-
selves. The tyrant, his guards, and all who had
been in any office under him, were put to death.
Some ten days after, Sylla made himself master of
the Piraeus, and burned all its fortifications.

The reputation for learning, military valour, and
polished elegance, which Athens enjoyed during the
splendid administration of Pericles, was tarnished
by the corruption which that celebrated person
introduced. Prosperity was the forerunner of luxury
and universal dissipation ; every delicacy was drawn
from distant nations; the wines of Cyprus, and tin-
snows of Thrace, garlands of roses, perfumes, and
a- thousand arts of buffoonery, which disgraced a
Persian court, were introduced ; instead of the coarse


meals, the herbs and plain bread, which the laws of
Solon had recommended, and which had nourished
the heroes of Marathon and Salamis.

Sylla's assault was the final termination of the
power and greatness of Athens ; she became a portion
of the Roman empire ; but in the reign of Hadrian
and the Antonines, she resumed, at least in outward
appearance, no small portion of her former splendour.
Hadrian built several temples, and, abtfve all, he
finished that of Jupiter Olympius, the work of suc-
cessive kings, and one of the greatest productions of
human art. He founded, also, a splendid library ;
and bestowed so many privileges, that an inscription,
placed on one of the gates, declared Athens to be no
longer the city of Theseus, but of Hadrian. In
what manner it was regarded too in the time of
Trajan, may be gathered from Pliny's letter to a
person named Maximus, who was sent thither as

" Remember," said he, " that you are going to
visit Achaia, the proper and true Greece ; that you '
are appointed to govern a state of free cities, who
have maintained liberty by their valour. Take not
away any thing of their privileges, their dignity ; no,
nor yet of their presumption ; but consider it is a
country that hath of long time given laws, and
received none ; that it is to Athens thou goest, where
it would be thought a barbarous cruelty in thee to
deprive them of that shadow and name of liberty
which still remaineth to them."

The Antonines trod in the steps of Hadrian.
Under them Herodes Atticus devoted an immense
fortune to the embellishment of the city and tho
promotion of learning.

But when the Roman world felt the wand of
adversity, and her power began to decline, Athens
felt her share ; she had enjoyed a long respite from


t'iviini war, but in the reign of Arcadius and Hono-
rius a dreadful tempest burst upon her.

Alarir, after over-running the rest of Green-, ad-
v.mecd into Attica, and found Athena without any
power of defence. The whole country was converted
into a desert; but it seems uncertain, whether he
plundered the city, or whether he accepted the
greater part of its wealth as a ransom. Certain,
however, it is, that it suffered severely, and acotem-
pornry compared it to the mere skin of a slaughtered

It is reported that, during their stay in the city,
the barbarians, having collected all the libraries of
Athens, were preparing to burn them ; but one of
their number diverted them from their design, by
suggesting the propriety of leaving to their enemies
what appeared to be the most effectual instrument
for cherishing and promoting their unwarlike spirit.

After the devastations of Alaric, and, still more,
after the shutting up of her schools, Athens ceased
almost entirely to attract the attention of mankind.
These schools were suppressed by an edict of Justi-
nian ; an edict which excited great grief and indig-
nation among the few remaining votaries of Grecian
.science and superstition. Seven friends and philoso-
phers,* who dissented from the religion of their
sovereign, resolved to sock in a foreign land the
freedom of which they were deprived in their native
country. Accordingly, the seven sages sought an
asylum in Persia, under the protection of Chosroes ;
but, disgusted and disappointed, they hastily re-
turned, and declared that they had rather die on the
borders of the empire than enjoy the wealth and
favour of the barbarian. These associates ended
their lives in peace and obscurity ; and as they left

I>i<'-riirs, anil Hertniat;* Eulalicui, and Priscian; Damos-
chiui ; Ikidoro, and Simpliciut.


no disciples, they terminate the long list of philoso-
phers who may be justly praised, notwithstanding
their defects, as the wisest and most virtuous of their
times *.

After the taking of Constantinople by the La-
tins, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, the
western powers began to view Greece as an object
of ambition. In the division of the Greek empire,
which they made among themselves, Greece and
Macedonia fell to the share of the Marquis of Mont-
ferrat, who bestowed Athens and Thebes on one of
his followers, named Otho de la Roche. This prince
reigned with the title of Duke of Athens, which
remained for a considerable timet.

It was afterwards seized by a powerful Florentine
family, named Acciaioli, one of whom sold it to
the Venetians ; but his son seized it again, and it
remained in that family till A. D. 1455, when it
surrendered to Omar, a general of Mahomet II., and
thus formed one of the two hundred cities which that
prince took from the Christians. He settled a colony
in it, and incorporated it completely with the Turkish
empire. What has occurred of late years has not
been embodied in any authentic history ; bnt the
consequences of the tumults of Greece may be in
some degree imagined, from what is stated by a
recent traveller in regard to Athens J. " When I
sallied forth to explore the wonders of Athens, alas !
they .were no longer to be seen. The once proud city
of marble was literally a mass of ruins the inglo-
rious ruins of mud-houses and wretched mosques
forming in all quarters such indistinguishable piles,
that in going about I was wholly unable to fix

* Anon.

t Hence Shakspeare, confounding dates, talks of Theseus,
" Puke of Athens."

J Quin's Voyage dowu the Danube.


upon any peculiarities of streets or buildings, by
which I might know my way from one part of the
capital to another. With the exception of the
remains of the Forum, the temple of Theseus, which
is still in excellent preservation, the celebrated co-
lumns of the temple of Jupiter Olympius, and the
Parthenon, nothing now exists at Athens of all the
splendid edifices with which it was so profusely deco-
rated in the days of its glory."

It lias been well observed, that, associated in the
youthful mind with all that is noble in patriotism,
exalted in wisdom, excelling in art, elegant in litera-
ture, luminous in science, persuasive in eloqu<
and heroic in action, the beautiful country of Greece.
and its inhabitants, must, under every circumstance,
even of degradation, be an interesting object of study.
" We can all feel, or imagine," says Lord Byron,
*' the regret with which the ruins of cities, once the
capital of empires, are beheld. But never did the
littleness of man, and the vanity of his very best
virtues, of patriotism to exalt and of valour to defend
liis country, apj^ear more conspicuous than in the
record of what Athens once was, and the certainty
of what she now is."

The former state of Athens is thus described by
Barthelemy. "There is not a city in Greece which
presents so vast a number of public buildings and
monuments as Athens. Edifices, venerable for their
antiquity, or admirable for their elegance, i
their majestic heads on all sides. Masterpieces of
sculpture are extremely numerous, even in the public
places, and concur with the finest productions of the
jencil to embellish the porticoes of temples. Here
even' thing speaks to the eyes of the attentive

To dcscrilx; Athens entire would be to fill a volume.
We shall, therefore, only give an account of the chief


monuments of antiquity as they existed till very
lately ; the rest, as they give one little or no sort of
idea of their ancient magnificence, were better omitted
than mentioned.

The Piraeus* is one of the finest ports in Greece,
and, being bounded by rocks, has experienced hardly
any change in its form or dimensions. The sea,
however, appears to have encroached a little, as
some ruins are seen under water. The general depth
of the port is from two to ten fathoms, in some places
twenty. The Piraeus was decorated with a theatre,
several temples, and a great number of statues. As
the existence of Athens depended on the safety of
this harbour, Themistocles secured it against sudden
attack by building a wall, sixty stadia in length, and
forty cubits high. As to its thickness, it was greater
than the space occupied by two waggons. It was
built of huge square stones, fastened together on the
outside by iron and leaden cramps. Without the gate
was a cenotaph, erected in honour of Euripides, on
which was inscribed " The glory of Euripides has all
Greece for a monument."

The old city of Athens was seated on the top of a
rock in the midst of a pleasant plain, which, as the
number of inhabitants increased, became full of build-
ings, which induced the distinction of Aero and
Gatapolis, i. e., of the upper and lower city.

The inside of the citadel was adorned with a mulr
titude of edifices. The flat space on the rock of the
Acropolis is not more than eight hundred feet in
length, and about four hundred feet in breadth, a
small extent for the site of the primitive city of the
Athenians; but an area of great size, when consi-
dered as the base only of temples and marble palaces,
containing not a single structure which might not be

* Dodwell.

90 nri\- or \\< II:XT < i

denominated a masterpiece of art*. The most re-
markable of tin - ,- \\<-v>- u ma^nitieent temple <>t'
Minerva, styled Parthenon, because that goddex \va-i
a virgin this the Persians destroyed, but it was
rebuilt with still greater splendour by Pericles the
temple of Neptune and Minerva jointly ; a temple
dedicated to Victory, adorned with paintings, prin-
cipally the work of Polygnotns, and ronstrurted of
white marble. Within the citadel, also, was an
immense number of statues, erected by religion ami
gratitude, on which the chisels of Myron, Phidias,
Alcamenes, and other artists of renown, seemed to
have bestowed animation. Of these statues, some were
those of famous Athenian generals ; such as Pericles,
Phormio, Iphicrates,andTimotheus; and others, those
of the gods.

It appears surprising that so many temples should
have been crowded together within the narrow com-
pass of the Athenian Acropolis; but the Roman
Capitol, though not much more spacious, contained
at least thirty temples t.

'* In its pride and glory," says Chandler, " the
Acropolis appeared as one entire offering to the deity,
surpassing in excellence, and astonishing in rich-
ness. Heliodorus employed on it fifteen books. The
curiosities of various kinds, with the pictures, sta-
tues, and pieces of sculpture, were so many and so
remarkable, as to supply Polemo Periegetes with
matter for four volumes ; and Strabo affirms, that as
many more would be required in treating of Athens
and of Attica.

As the stranger draws near to the present entrance
of the citadel, he passes before the facade of the
Propylea ; the old entrance to the Acropolis, between
its Doric pillars, being walled up. Pausanias says,

* Hobhoiiw. t Dodwcll.


" There is only one entrance to the Acropolis of
Athens ; it being in every remaining part of its cir-
cuit a precipice, and fortified by strong walls. This
entrance was fronted by a magnificent building,
'called the Propylea, covered with roofs of white
marble, which surpassed, for beauty and the dimen-
sions of the marble, all that I have seen." This is
now in ruins.

This was the most expensive work undertaken
by Pericles, and is said to have cost 2,500 talents
(452,700). It took five years in building, and was
completed B. c. 437-

" To a person who has seen the ruins of Rome,"
says Dr. Clarke, "the first suggestion, made by a
sight of the buildings in the Acropolis, is that of the
infinite superiority of the Athenian architecture. It
possesses the greatness and majesty of the Egyptian
or of the ancient Etruscan style, with all the elegant
proportion, the rich ornaments, and the discrimi-
nating taste of the most splendid era of the arts." Its
present condition is thus described by Mr. Wil-
liams. " The scene of desolation in the Acropolis is
complete ; the heaps of ruins of wretched houses, and
various buildings, are constructed part with clay and
marble, the marble looking doleful through the mud.
On entering the temple one is struck by the worn
steps, and curved or circular marks of the great
doors of old ; the pavement, too, that had been
trodden by the luminaries of Greece."

The walls of the Acropolis* exhibit three distinct
periods of construction ; that is to say, the masonry
of modern times in the repairs, a style of building
which can only be referred to the age of Cimon, or
of Pericles; and the ancient Pelasgic work, as
mentioned by Lucian. The modern walls of the

* Clarke.

92 KI INS or \\( ir\r c i .

city are about tru feet hL'h. ami i\i two in thick -

Online LibraryCharles BuckeRuins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) → online text (page 7 of 36)