Daniel Quinn.

Helladian vistas online

. (page 1 of 27)
Online LibraryDaniel QuinnHelladian vistas → online text (page 1 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



University of California.




Helladian Vistas



Student at the America?i School of Classical Studies y Athens y Greece

Professor of Greek at Mt. St. Marfs College, Maryland

Professor of Greek at the Catholic University y Washington y and

Rector of the Leonteion, Athens, Greece


Pastor of St. PauPsy Yellow Springs y OhiOy and
Professor at Antioch College









Henricus Mceller

A rchiepiscopiis Ciiicinnatensis
Die 20. Octobris 1908

Copyright 1908 By
Daniel Quinn

Published January 1910


The following chapters have already appeared in
print as magazine articles. They are republished with
the kind permission of the editors of Harper's Maga-
zine, the American Catholic Quarterly, the Catholic
World, Dona hoe's Magazine, and the Catholic Uni-
versity Bulletin.

Frequent repetitions of thought and expression
have been allowed to remain, although almost inex-

To my many friends in Greece and in America I
am grateful for much assistance kindly given.




Balkania I

"Mother of Arts" 5

The Akropolis of Athens 20

Higher Education in Greece of Today . - 33

An Athenian Cemetery 42

The Church of Greece 52

The Mystic Rites of Elevsis 63

Delphi 87

In Bceotia 102

The Land of the Klephts 125

The Vale of Tempe . 140

The Thessalic Plain 151

In Arkadia 167

Mega Spel^eon or the Monastery of the Great

Cave 189

The Games at Olympia 216

The Ph^aks' Island 233

The Kingdom of Odyssevs 255

In Levkas 269

The Flower of the East 288

Kephallenia 307

The Maniats 325

Mesolonghion 337

The Argolid and the Mykenlanders . . .351

Pre-Hellenic Writing in the ^Egean. . . 368

The Hill of Hissarlik 390



"Not dead hut sleeping."

There is in existence no one state or commonwealth
occupying the entirety of that restless land which might
have been called Balkania ; but possibly there ought to
have been such a commonwealth. There lies in the
southeast corner of Europe a very wide tract of won-
derful country richly adorned by nature and not
entirely neglected by art, which for the nonce we are
free to theoretically style "Balkania." ''Balkania" is so
much divided in nationality, religion, and government,
that we are not accustomed to regard it as a unit in
history, and are not used to designate it by any one
common and general name. This ''Balkania" includes
all that portion of Europe which extends from Con-
stantinople to Triest, and from the Danube to Cape

There exists no nation of united peoples that might
be called the "Balkan-folk," but such a nation could
have been historically created. It would be an amalga-
mated nation, as much mixed in its inhabitants as is
any other civilized country. The Balkanmen would con-
tain both Asiatic and European elements in their physi-
cal constitution. Turks and Greeks and Vlachs and
Bulgarmen and Slavs and Albanians would be ingredi-
ent portions of that people. These are all very active
and vital elements, which, united, might have been the
essence of a powerful state. The area of this state
would be about identical with that of the Balkan Pen-


insula. But there is no near probability of "Balkania"
coming into a state's existence. These peoples are all
hostile to each other, and fail to recognize or appreciate
common interests.

Balkanland was once Romsean, and could again have
become Romaean under a government either Hellenic
or Moslem. But the propitious opportunities have
been neglected by both Greeks and Turks. As a
Romsean state it would have continued to be heir to the
strength and eminence of Byzantion. Had the Turks
undertaken to form such a state they might have suc-
ceeded if they only could have had the prudent fore-
sight of separating statedom from Islamism.

After the empire of Rome had been divided into two
portions, the western portion was destroyed, in 476
perhaps. But the eastern portion healed itself from
its wounds of amputation, and rounded itself out into
an independent empire which continued to exist until
its great city, Constantinopte, was subjugated by the
Turks in 1453. The Byzantine empire was Romaean
because it had been formed from the eastern half of
the empire of Rome. It was the East-Roman state,
and was molded out of Hellenic and Hellenistic ele-
ments under government originally centered in western

Most of this Balkanland has been dominated for
four centuries by the Turks. These Moslem conquer-
ors, however, have signally proved themselves unable to
gain the respect and confidence of the peoples which
they have externally subdued, and have been equally
unable even outwardly to amalgamate all these inimical
races into a compact and vigorous state or federation.


Accordingly, these disunited peoples have always been
incessantly looking forward to the dawning of their
day of manumission from Moslem servitude.

The Greeks were the first to succeed in acquiring
freedom for a portion of their race, after a terrible
struggle in the last century. But the liberated Greeks
committed themselves exclusively to the narrower task
of creating not a Romaean or Hellenistic nation, but a
Hellenic one. In other words, the newly formed state
of Greece set aside her potent Roma^an traditions and
retained only her Hellenic aspirations. This, if it was
the nobler selection, was surely not the more remunera-
tive one. The regenerated Greeks never set about
creating a comprehensive and liberal Balkania. They
were intent merely on forming a "Greater Greece."

This Hellenic ideal was not easy to be made accept-
able to the other wilder races and tribes of the land.
Greece therefore cannot be said so far to have been
signally successful in the mission which she set herself
to perform.

Since the partial liberation of the Greeks, other Bal-
kanic races have imitated them and have become more
or less independent, or even free. But none have put
themselves to the generous task of bringing into exist-
ence a Romaean Balkania, to be formed of all the races
on equal terms. Each race wishes the advancement of
its own people only, and desires to dominate over the
other races. There, therefore, has been never any
whole-hearted, united action.

Of all the races that, after the Turks, had the duty
of constructing a Balkania, the Greeks and the new
Hellenic state should have had the clearest conception


and consciousness of this duty. But, except in the time
of Alexander, the Greeks were never makers of exten-
sive empires. They were the life and sustenance of
several great states, but were hardly the creators of
them. It was not therefore readily to be realized that
they ever would rouse themselves to the onerous and
tedious undertaking of creating a "Balkania;" although
they might, by force of their superior natural endow-
ments, become in such a federation the dominant and
most vital race.

But perhaps the influence of the Greeks has been
greater on subsequent humanity than has been the influ-
ence of any known state. It is infinitely nobler to be
Hellenic than it is to be imperial. And although their
future preponderance in this Balkanland is far from
being an evident certainty, nevertheless their past
beneficence and usefulness have been so great that we
can never lose our admiration for them.

This present series of articles, selected from essays
devoted to the Balkan Peninsula, occupies itself exclu-
sively with the Hellenes. These essays present, in a
loosely correlated way, all kinds of information con-
nected with the long life of a portion of the Greek
nation, chiefly of that portion which inhabited or still
inhabits the cities and provinces that now constitute the
commonwealth of Greece or Hellas.


On the Mgean shore a city stands.

Built nobly, pure the air and light the soil;

Athens the eye of Greece.

The men of ancient Athens have exercised an incal-
culable influence over humanity. They have fixed
certain norms of culture which the world in its best
periods has ever since been striving to admire and to
apply. It may be true that we do not always know
how great is our indebtedness to the thinkers and doers
of Athens ; we may even willingly ignore it. The fact
nevertheless stands, that the debt exists, a fact which,
when properly understood, honors both us and the old

Athens possessed the good fortune of not owning
some of the qualities that are often thought to be neces-
sary for a great and influential city. Athens was not
the leading city of an extensive state. It was not the
center and mistress of a wide empire, as was Rome.
Indeed, being purely a Hellenic city with Hellenic cul-
ture, it could not well have been the seat of an imperial
government; for the ancient Hellenes were entirely
incapable of appreciating the usefulness of vast empire.
Therefore, although Athens was the greatest center
and most influential city of the ancient Greeks, it was
never the political seat of government over an exten-
sive country ; it did not bear to Greece the relations of
a capital to a state.

Athens was not the head and directress of a state,


but was rather the whole state in its entirety. Accord-
ing to Aristotle, a state should not be much larger than
the area included within the radius of a herald's voice,
when, shouting from the citadel, he calls the citizens
to assemble for consultation regarding common inter-
ests. This definition quite well suits the state of ancient
Athens. It is true indeed that a crier's voice from the
ramparts of the Akropolis cannot be heard over all
the territory that was included within the common-
wealth of the Athenians nor even over a fiftieth part
of it. But still this territory was so small that a citizen
who dwelt in the very remotest corner of the land, on
Sounion's rocky steep, or beyond Marathon in Oropos
or Rhamnous, could walk to Athens easily in the space
between sunrise and sunset. Such was the extent of
the peninsula of Attika, in which Athens was situated.
Politically, Athens and Attika were identical. The
Athenians did not cease to be citizens of Athens by
dwelling not within the walls of the town but in the
villages and villas that were in the midst of the sur-
rounding fields and groves. No portion of Attika
is so remote as to be invisible from the citadel of
Athens, were it not that the near intervening mountains
intercept the view.

The notions which prevailed among the Athenians
regarding the value of each individual citizen and his
inherent rights made it impossible for them to under-
stand a larger extent of their republic. Only once did
they somewhat successfully try to establish a kind of
empire, by attempting to hold the islands of the
^gean subjugate and tribute-bound. But the attempt
was soon a failure, although the empire appeared under


the form of a republican confederacy, and had as its
purpose the laudable intention of keeping all Asiatic
aggressors away from all Greek lands. According
to the better Athenian conception, a state was imper-
fect in so far as any one citizen suffered. This was
Solon's doctrine, perhaps, and Solon may be regarded
as the law-making intellect of his contemporaries, the
Athenians of the sixth century before Christ. It easily
follows from this doctrine that the state and the citi-
zen are two parties that meet each other on absolutely
equal terms. By pressing these old doctrines to their
full conclusions it would follow that the state is
maimed if one member, one single individual, one citi-
zen, is hurt. To try to have a perfect state wherein
one citizen might legally suffer political wrong would
be exactly the same, from a logical standpoint, as
would be the attempt to metamorphose the number
ninety-nine into one hundred. The old Athenians did
not perhaps express these conclusions, but they felt
them, and were influenced by them.

With these notions of what a state is, and what the
relations of each citizen to the united body of citizens,
which was the state, it was impossible that the state
extend itself over a wide stretch of territory. No citi-
zen could be subject to the state; he could be nothing
less than an integral member of the state. He there-
fore had to reside near to where the head of the state
showed itself, and where all legislation took place. It
was impossible that any numerous set of officials inter-
vene between him and the rest of the state, between
him and the other citizens. The state was constituted
of him plus the other citizens, and he could not be


separated from the others by any great separation,
even of place.

Another reason why the Athenian commonwealth
was always of narrow extent was the Greek's indiffer-
ence as to the fate of those who were not in some
special way associated with him or related to him.
This fact is true for the modern Hellenes as well as for
their classic forefathers. If a Greek saw his own people
happy, he would not be much concerned about the
possible fate or sufferings of the Persians or the Ibe-
rians. At least his interest in strangers often exhausts
itself with theoretical views and is not put into act.
This explains why the Greeks have never intentionally
been persistent propagators of their doctrines in dis-
tant climes, but however are stern defenders of such
doctrines at home, and resent all ideas of foreign
propagandism. Their indifference as to the affairs of
others, be it a virtue or be it a vice, contributed to
make the Athenians unfit for the founding of an

Athens, therefore, was not the capital of a great
commonwealth. It was itself a commonwealth,
although, if we were to admit that the size and impor-
tance of a commonwealth is measured by the extent
of its lands, then we should have to admit also that this
commonwealth of Athens was a very diminutive and
insignificant one.

But Athens, without having the burdens which
molest the capital of a wide country, nevertheless had
much of the advantages of such a capital. Just as in
past years, Paris has been the city that in many respects
moved and enlivened and inspired all Europe, so was


Athens the city which was pre-eminent among all the
cities of the Greeks. Nevertheless, the old Greeks were
not subjects of the Athenian government any more
than the Europeans of yesterday were necessarily sub-
jects to the government which resided in Paris. There
exists a higher kind of pre-eminence than that of gov-
ernment. This higher pre-eminence was the one which
Athens enjoyed among the peoples of the Greek-lands.

Athens did not excel in everything. It had its
specialties. Our notion of that city makes it to have
been most highly pre-eminent in the arts and in the
sciences, and in matters of culture generally. In so far
as Athens can be noted for its political science and
capability, the trend of its virtues is evident from what
has above been stated ; it was able to give to each and
every unenslaved individual an amount of well-
regulated freedom that no large state can easily fur-
nish to its citizens. Many of the laws which were first
formulated by its legislators passed over to Rome and
from Rome they were propagated throughout the
whole of Europe. Thus were created the legal codes
that still regulate our pubic lives.

There were other varieties of highly developed civil-
ization that flourished previously to the Hellenic, or
contemporaneously with it. But these civilizations
have all vanished from the face of the earth. With
the exception of the Hebraic, they have had but little
direct influence on us. The Greek civilization never
died out. It merely underwent various modifications,
adapting itself to the various nations of Europe which
adopted it. We are therefore at this present day more
or less all of us Hellenic. That we have wonderfully


developed certain ideas and principles, which in the
flourishing days of old Athens were still almost embry-
onic, does not militate against this truth. It is not
necessary to claim that the ancient Greeks or more
especially the Athenians were in any way our superiors.
We have merely asserted that they were our intellectual
and scientific forefathers and teachers. As their spirit-
ual children and pupils we may have gloriously sur-
passed them. At least we know that we have not kept
all of their teaching just where they left it. Inability
to develop and increase our inheritance would mean
that we are unworthy to be either their children or
their pupils. We seem in many lines of thought and
action to have made great advances.

If we are all more or less Hellenic, then it is not
stretching words too far to say that we are all more or
less Athenian. For Athens was the center from which
most generously and bounteously was given forth the
Hellenic light which has enlightened us.

Being Athenians in some way or other, and being
in some way Hellenic, it is always alluring to us to
know something about our spiritual forefathers. It is
also interesting to know something about this charmed
city, this city of the soul, where once lived and moved
these men who bequeathed to us our treasure of cul-
ture. But we cannot understand the attractions of these
places nor undergo the purifying influence of these
surroundings unless our soul is akin to higher ideas
and higher actions. Those whose, footsteps climb to
the mossy rim of Hippokrene receive no monetary
remuneration. If a man has been taught by degrading
circumstances to think and believe proportionately to


the pay which he receives therefor he should never
hope to dwell under Grecian skies. Hellenism is not a
matter of wealth or authority. A wood-chopper from
the western part of our great wide country who came
to Athens for a consul's salary could see nothing in
Athens of today nor feel the mysterious throbbings of
her historic existence. To him Athens was the most
deceitful and despicable land on the circle of the globe.
If one has no affinity to Hellenism and to the spirit
of old Athens, he had better never enter the blue waters
around this land nor step on her time-worn shores.

Although Athens appears at the head of Hellenism
in the ages that have influenced later civilization, this
city was not always the first in the land. Hellenic cul-
ture was very widely diffused and very much varie-
gated. Before the formation of the Roman empire,
there were times at which Hellenism flourished in a
large part of Asia Minor, in a portion of the Balkan
Peninsula, in Egypt, in Sicily, in Southern Italy. The
Ionic civilization of Asia Minor was not the same in
detail as was the civilization of the Peloponnesos or
that of the yEgean Isles or that of Attika. Athens
therefore never had the monopoly of Hellenism, and
there were epochs of Hellenism when other cities were
more important than Athens.

Athens is a very old city. No records tell of its
first founding. The only book in whose pages we can
read the earliest history of this city is the succession
of strata formed by the debris which grew higher and
higher, as generations of inhabitants succeeded each
other. Our knowledge of ancient myths may serve us
well in reading and interpreting this book of the strata.


From these sources it is proven that Athens and its
territory of Attika were inhabited, and possessed
various arts and handicrafts away back in the
Mykenaeic ages, perhaps as remotely as the third mil-
lennium before Christ. But of its importance in those
days little is positive; and the probability is that other
cities like Mykense or Knosos or Ilion outranked it both
in civilization and in wealth. The greatness of Athens,
as we know it, began not long before the Medic wars.
It was these wars that suddenly elevated Athens to
the eminence to which she had gradually been
approaching. When these wars were over, or more
exactly, after the three eventful victories of Marathon
and Salamis and Platsea had been won, Athens found
herself respected, vigorous, and ambitious. Iktinos,
Kallikrates, and other such builders began to construct
the wonders of Doric, Ionic, and Korinthiac architec-
ture. Pheidias and his school and rivals put them-
selves to the task of chiseling out of Pentelic and
Parian stone the most perfect works that ever have
come from sculptors' hands. Victorious army-leaders
were transformed into inspired orators and guided the
turbulent wisdom of the public assemblies, ^schylos
and Sophokles and Evripides produced their inimitable
tragedies before audiences sitting in the open air on
the slopes of the hill of the citadel. Sokrates took up
the nascent science of philosophy and prepared the way
for the two greatest theorists of the Hellenic world,
Platon the poetic idealist and Aristotle the logician,
sage, and scientist. Athenian fleets defended the
Greek cities of the sea. Athenian armies compelled
all rival Greek cities on the mainland to acknowledge


the dignity and eminence of the Attic commonwealth.

But it must ever be borne in mind that the Greeks
were never united into one state. They never, in their
best days, cared to form any kind of general confed-
eration, not even for mutual defense against foreign
enemies. It was with great difficulty and partly by
accident that a powerful but exceedingly short-lived
combination was made against the invading Persians
in the early part of the fifth century. Love of local
autonomy may perhaps sometimes have its faults. It
usually prevented the Greeks from consolidating them-
selves against common dangers. But it led them still
farther. They were constantly involved in petty wars
against each other. The greatest of these wars was
the one which began about four hundred and thirty
years before Christ. The chief belligerents then were
the Athenians and the Spartans. This war lasted,
with intermissions, near on to twenty-seven years.
When it closed Athens was defeated and irreparably
humiliated. From that time her decline began.

Her days of decline, however, were by no means
inglorious. Arts and sciences still flourished. Her
patriots were as enthusiastic as ever, but they had
become accustomed to exhibit their patriotism more
by rhetoric and display than by self-sacrificing deeds.
A new enemy arose. At least so thought many Athe-
nians and other Greeks. This enemy was Philip of

Philip of Makedon was not a foreigner. He was
not a barbarian. Genuine Greek blood coursed in his
hot veins. The repugnance felt by the Athenians and
other Greeks against Philip was not based on the pre-


sumption that he was of a different nationality. They
hated him because he was an imperialist, and what
was worse an imperialist who wished to place the
center of Hellenism outside tlie borders of the little
country where Athens and Sparta and Thebes and
Argos had so long been accustomed to hold their
autonomous sway. Philip conceived the great idea of
uniting all the Greeks under the government -of one
mighty state. That was what the purer Greeks could
not understand. With them the highest idea of gov-
ernment was that which gave autonomy to each
important city. In their most quarrelsome days the
Athenians had never thought of reducing the Spartans
and the Korinthians and the Argives and the Thebans
to autocratic subjection. Nor had even the rude-
minded Spartans ever seriously concocted such a plan
against the other Greeks. Philip's ambition tlierefore
brought into Hellenism an idea that hitherto had been
almost unknown.

The most determined enemies of the Makedonians
were the men of Athens. They, inspired by the elo-
quence of Demosthenes, worked hard not to lose their
autonomous freedom. But the danger was greater
than they had foreseen. On the fateful field of Chaero-
neia, they were defeated along with their Theban
allies ; and the purer Greek principle of regarding each
city as a state had seen its last day. It is true, indeed,
that by the policy of Philip and of his son Alexander
the local government of Athens as well as of every
other populous Hellenic city was allowed to remain
almost intact But still from that time on, from the
da\'s of the Makedonic conquest, Athens was merely


a city in an empire. Her spirit was broken. She was

Online LibraryDaniel QuinnHelladian vistas → online text (page 1 of 27)