Henry Fanshawe Tozer.

Researches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryHenry Fanshawe TozerResearches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) → online text (page 15 of 31)
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them, and that by submitting they will bring about their
Biilgarisation {ti)v kK^o-uhrjapwaLv kavrwv). Moreover, he
tells the Bulgarians that it is unreasonable for them to
desire bishops of their own race, because distinctions of
race have been destroyed by the Gospel : they ought
only to ask for men who can speak Slavonic, and this, he
says, all their bishops can do ; and so far are the bishops
from trying to Hellenize others, that they become de-
nationalized and Bulgarized themselves. Some of these
arguments it is impossible to read without a smile. But
the real cause of all this indignation is the desire which
the Bulgarians have expressed to be free from the Pa-
triarch of Constantinople, and their claim to have a
Patriarch of their own, as they had until less than a cen-
tury ago. For a time the movement is brought to a
standstill : it is to be hoped, however, that if it does not
ultimately bring about the independence of the Bulgarian
Church, it will at all events remove many of the abuses
by which it is now afflicted. Most of those persons who
joined the Church of Rome have already returned, since
they found how galling a yoke the Pope would lay upon
them. But it is striking to see in this instance, as in
others with which we are more familiar, the attraction
exercised by a great name and a central idea.

In going from Monastir to Ochrida two passes have
successively to be crossed, between which a broad and
deep valley intervenes. The first of these is through the
mountains which rise directly behind Monastir, and
among which the lofty peak of Peristeri is the most con-
spicuous object. As we emerged from the town in this
direction, we passed through a cemetery, and, on reaching

184 Monastir and Ochrida. Chap. VIII.

the open country, found ourselves on the right bank of the
Dragor, a tributary of the Czerna, which flows through
the place. On our way, as we followed this stream up-
wards, we met a number of horses bearing charcoal and
skins, the produce of the country, to the town. For some
distance the mountain-sides were dotted with villages, but
in the upper regions the country was barren and unin-
teresting, though the slopes in the neighbourhood of our
track were covered with ferns. The summit reaches the
height of about 3000 feet above the sea. Descending on
the other side into the valley-plain of Presba, we stopped
a short time, during the heat of the day, at the village of
Resna ; and then again ascended the second mountain
chain by a steep winding path amid the bright foliage
of dwarf oaks and beeches, with striking views'of the Lake
of Presba at the southern end of the plain, encased on
three sides by finely-broken mountains, which loomed
dimly forth through the Avarm haze. The Bulgarian pea-
sants who accompanied our horses called this piece of
water Edcro, that is jczcro, the Slavonic word for " lake."
As seen from this point. Mount Peristeri is a magnificent
object, as its grey peak towers far above everything else,
rising on the southern side of the heights we had just
been crossing.

The reader will have already discovered what is the
general conformation of the country in this part of
Turkey — high parallel mountain chains running from
north to south, and separated from one another here and
there by fertile plains, or lakes of considerable size, such
as those of Ostrovo, Presba, and Ochrida. The mountains
which we are now ascending form the central ridge, and
are a northerly continuation of the Pindus range, which
divides Thessaly from South Albania. Their ancient
name was Scardus. Many of the trees were cut down in

Chap, VIII. Lake of Ochrida. 185

this part, and thin wreaths of smoke curhng up from
among the dense woods served to show that charcoal
burning was going on. When we reached the summit of
the pass, the elevation of which is nearly the same as
that of the former one,^ we rode for some time through
upland glades and pastures, meeting no living creatures
except a few magnificent shaggy shepherd's dogs, who
did their best to oppose our passage ; and then, after
descending for half an hour, came in sight of the Lake of
Ochrida, the largest of the lakes of Greece and Turkey.
It lay far below us, a broad expanse of calm water,
reaching far away to the south ; its western shore was
bounded by fine mountains, three ranges of which could
be seen rising one behind the other ; at its northern end,
over which we were looking, was an alluvial plain ; and
rising out of this, and projecting into the lake, a rocky
heig-ht, on which stands the old town and castle of
Ochrida, while the new town nestles close at its foot.
The descent of the mountain on this side is long and
steep, and night was beginning to close in before we
reached the plain ; but our baggage-horse and dragoman
were far behind ; so, after waiting in vain for an hour,
and fearing that they might have taken some other path,
we stumbled on through pitchy darkness in the direction
of the city. When we reached it, it was silent as the
grave, and we made our way through one long wet
street until we met a Turkish guard, who directed us to
a khan. Fortunately for us, the Bulgarian khanji could
speak a little Greek, for Greek holds the same position
in all these parts that French does in Western Europe,
being the language of travellers and communication.
Stepping over the bodies of prostrate muleteers, we

^ Boue, ' Recueil d'ltineraires,' i. pp. 261-2.

1 86 Monastir and OcJirida. Chap. VIII,

were conducted to a filthy room, furnished, as usual,
with two rush mats, on which, however, we were soon
fast asleep. Of the rest of our party we heard nothing
till the following morning, when our dragoman appeared,
having gone the round of the khans of the town in
search of us. As we suspected, they had lost their way
in the dusk of the evening, and when at last they reached
the town, had found their way to another and somewhat
superior place of entertainment, to which we afterwards

The name of Ochrida, or, as it was formerly called,
Achrida, is derived, not as some writers have said, from
the Greek aKpo<i, as being built on a height, but from the
Slavonic ahar, " a court," since it was once the residence
of the Bulgarian monarchs. The city is said to contain
some 15,000 inhabitants, the Mahometans and Christians
being about in equal numbers. The Mahometans are
mostly Albanian, of the Gheg tribe ; for though the
name Turk is often heard throughout Albania, it only
means Mahometan ; with the exception of the pashas
and a few officials, hardly any Ottomans are found west-
ward of this point. The Christians are Bulgarians, and
these too cease with the mountains which bound the
lake on the west. The lake, which was the Lacus
Lychnitis of classical times, may be said to form the
division between Western Macedonia and Central Al-
bania. In a geographical point of view, indeed, the
Scardus might more accurately be regarded as the
boundary, but the Slavonic population in this part over-
runs its natural limit.

In the morning we went up into the upper city, which
is inhabited by Christians, to see the metropolitan church,
which we found to be situated within the precincts of the

Chap, VIII. Statue and Crucifix. 187

Archbishop's palace. (One of the early Archbishops of
Achrida was Theophylact, the author of the commen-
tary.) As I was looking about for some one to get me
the key, a person, whom I afterwards found to be the
Archbishop's secretary, beckoned me to come into his
room, where he seated me by a window commanding
a superb view over the lake, until he had disposed of a
number of judicial cases which he was engaged in trying.
The Archbishop himself was absent, which is not un-
frequently the case with these dignitaries. When these
were finished, he conversed with me for some time in
Greek, and during the conversation surprised me not
a little by asking, " Is your honour a Christian ? " On
my answering in the affirmative, he entered on a
detailed account of the sufferings of the Christians,
which seemed to be caused in no slight degree by the
unsettled state of the country, as they could not venture
two miles outside the city without the danger of being
pillaged. After this he showed us over the church, a
Byzantine edifice of some antiquity, unpretending in its
architecture, but containing some objects of singular
curiosity. On passing behind the Iconostase, or altar-
screen, I observed in a niche a wooden statue of St,
Clement of Rome, to whom the church is dedicated ;
and as if to distinguish the saint from St. Clement of
Ochrida, there is a picture behind the altar, with the
inscription, "Saint Clement, Pope of Rome" (0 a^iio^
KXrj/jLT]^ na7ra9 Pco/xt??). Besides this, there was lying in
one part a large wooden crucifix, the figure of Our Lord
being in low relief, and the workmanship and ornaments
Byzantine. I was quite taken aback by seeing these
objects, never having met with anything of the kind in a
Greek church before, except a small figure in ivory

1 88 Monastir and Ochrida. Chap. VIII.

affixed to the valuable cross which I have described as
being preserved at the monastery of Xeropotamu on
Mount Athos, and a reputed gift of the Empress Pul-
cheria. I asked the secretary and the priest, who ac-
companied us, whether they were in accordance with
their rites 1 " No," they replied ; " such things were
nowhere allowed by the orthodox communion." " Then
how did they come there.''" They did not know; only
they had been there from very ancient times ; they had
no idea that they came from abroad. Since that time
I have searched in vain for any trace in history of lasting
Roman Catholic influence in these parts. At the time
of the Fourth Crusade, when the Latins occupied Con-
stantinople, a Roman Catholic bishopric was established
for a time at Castoria, between this and Salonica ; and
in northern Albania most of the Christians are Roman
Catholics : the Normans also passed by this place on more
than one occasion, when on their way from Durazzo to
attack the Eastern empire : but the Byzantine workman-
ship of the crucifix, and the fact that these objects have
been spared at all, point to a friendly and permanent
influence ; and of such an influence of the Church of
Rome on the Bulgarians of these parts I can discover no
sign. It seems more probable that they have come
down from a still earlier period, not much later than the
original conversion of the Bulgarian nation by Methodius,
who together with his brother Cyril evangelized the
Slavonians in the ninth century : and their story in con-
nexion Avith St. Clement and with these parts is so
interesting, that I am tempted for a moment to refer to
it. I may mention, in passing, that there does not exist
in English, as far as I am aware, any sufficient account
of this episode in ecclesiastical history, though it has

Chap. VIII. Legc7id of St. Clement. 189

been carefully treated in German by Dobrowsky ;' and
the various legends about it, — Greek, Latin, Moravian,
and Bulgarian, — are so curious, that it would be a most
interesting subject for a monograph from an experienced

It appears that Cyril was first sent from Constanti-
nople as a missionary to the Chazars, a tribe inhabiting
the neighbourhood of Cherson, at the mouth of the
Dneiper. Here it was revealed to him that he should
recover the body of St. Clement of Rome, who, according
to the story given in the * Clementine Epitome,' had
been banished to this place by Trajan, and, in con-
sequence of the numerous conversions which he made,
had been thrown into the sea by the heathen, with an
anchor round his neck.'° After praying and fasting,
Cyril w^as enabled to go down into the sea, which retired
before him, and brought up the body, which had been
preserved entire in a submarine tomb : the head was
sent at a later period to Kieff, in Russia, where we are
told that in the year 1 146 it was placed on the head
of the Metropolitan of Russia as a form of consecration,"

9 'Cyrill und Methodius,' Prag., 1823; and ' Mahrische Legende,'
Prag., 1826. These works are to be found in the ' Abhandhmgen ' of the
Bohemian ' Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften,' vols. viii. and i. {ncite folge)

'" The legend of St. Clement has an especial interest at the present time,
because, in the excavations which have been lately made underneath the
ancient church of San Clemente, at Rome, a still older church has been
discovered, the walls of which are covered with frescoes, representing the
circumstances connected with his death. It is on account of the "sea-
change into something rich and strange " which the martyr's memory has
passed through, that he was adopted as the representative of the Sea-Kings,
and hence became the patron saint of Denmark and Norway.

" Stredowsky, 'Sacra Moravias Historia.' There is something very
striking in the partition of the relics of this ancient saint between the
Eastern and Western Churches, just at the time of the Great Schism.

1 90 Monastir and Ochrida. Chap. VIII.

while the rest of the body, together with the anchor and
chain, was conveyed by Cyril to Constantinople. In the
meanwhile his brother Methodius,^^ a monk and painter,
had been converting the Bulgarians ; and not long after,
the two set out on a mission to the Moravians and
Bohemians, carrying with them St. Clement's remains ;
on which occasion, as is well known, the Bible was
translated into the Slavonic tongue, and the Cyrillic
alphabet invented. The fact that Cyril was superior
to the prejudice that ordinary languages are unfit for
sacred and literary uses, a feeling which caused even
Dante a severe struggle before composing his ' Divine
Comedy ' in the vulgar tongue, and to which Cyril, as a
Greek, and therefore accustomed to regard everything
^'barbarian" with the greatest abhorrence, must have
been especially alive, proves him at once to have been a
very great man. In Moravia they were brought into
contact with the Roman Catholic clergy, and from some
unexplained cause — whether it was from Cyril's having
been in former years an opponent of Photius, who was
now Patriarch, or because, being monks, and one of
them a painter, they were scandalised by the iconoclastic
spirit rife at Constantinople,^^ or whether political
changes in Moravia made it more probable that they
would be able to further Christianity by alliance with
the Western nations, and they were large-hearted enough

'^ There is some doubt whether Methodius, the converter of tlie Bulga-
rians, and the brother of Cyril, are the same. The question is discussed in
the ' Acta Sanctorum ' for March 9.

'^ Dean Milman says ('Latin Christianity,' ii. p. 352) that an "untraced
connexion had grown up between these Greek missionaries in Slavonia and
the Roman See (the monks were probably image-worshippers, and so
refused obedience to iconoclastic Constantinople) ;" and, in a note, "Metho-
dius, it must be remembered, was a painter."

C HAP. V 1 1 1 . Cyril and Methodius. 191

to ignore minor differences '^ — they connected themselves
with the Roman church, though at the same time re-
taining many of the customs of the Greek church, and
saying mass in the vulgar tongue. In consequence of
these irregularities they were summoned to Rome by
Pope Nicholas I., and were received with great honour
on account of their bringing with them St. Clement's
body. On this occasion, according to the legend, — which,
like so many others, embodies a very grand truth, — when
the Pope and conclave were deliberating on the question
whether the church services might be held in the vulgar
tongue, their doubts were silenced by a supernatural voice,
suddenly heard in the midst of them, exclaiming, " Let
everything that hath breath praise the Lord." ^^

Cyril resigned his office, and remained as a monk at
Rome, where he died, and was buried in the basilica of
his patron saint.'° Methodius returned as archbishop
to Moravia, where, however, he was strongly opposed by
the western clergy on account of what seemed to them
his nonconformity in maintaining practices different from
what they themselves observed. After his death, when
a persecution was raised against his followers in Moravia,
Clement of Ochrida, one of the most distinguished of the
followers of the two brothers, retired to his native city,
w^iere he founded a monastery, and devoted himself to

'* Neander says ('Church Histoiy,' v. p. 435) : — "When afterwards it so
happened [that the Moravian princes, induced by political changes, entered
into a closer connexion with the German Empire and the Western Church,
this step, taken at a time when the schism between the Greek and Latin
Churches first broke out, was naturally followed by an entanglement of
ecclesiastical relations. Cyril and Methodius proved themselves to be men
who placed a higher value on the interests of Christianity than on those of
ii particular church."

'^ 'Acta Sanctorum,' March 9, p. 16 e. ^^ Stredowsky, p. 394.

192 Monastir and Ochrida. Chap. VIII.

teaching the Bulgarians, who before this time had over-
spread this part of the country. He had now returned
to the Eastern communion, and before his death became
bishop of Behtza, the first episcopal see established in
these parts. His influence appears to have been de-
servedly great, from the zeal with which he is said to
have forwarded the improvement of his people, not only
by giving oral instruction, but also by composing simple
homilies for the use of the priests, by introducing the
fine arts, and building beautiful churches, and by im-
proving horticulture through the introduction of new
fruit trees.'" To him we may trace the establishment of
the ailtus of St. Clement of Rome ; and it is not impos-
sible that the statue of the saint and the crucifix may
date from that period. Not long after this they would
have been absolutely forbidden, and nothing but the
veneration entertained for objects of antiquity would
have caused them to be spared.

Before leaving this subject, it will be well to notice
what in reality is one of the most puzzling points in
ecclesiastical history, and one which continually presents
itself to the mind of the traveller in these countries— the
growth of the distinction between statues and pictures in

'' This we learn, together with many other interesting details, from a life
of Clement of Ochrida, composed by one of his pupils, and presei-ved at the
monasteiy of St. Naum, at the southern end of the lake, where it was dis-
covered, and published at Vienna in 1802. Neander, who would appre-
ciate such a book at its full value — as giving an insight into the inner life
and spirit of the age — speaks of it as very rare. He regards it as the work
of Archbishop Theophylact, whose name is prefixed to it; but this is a
mistake, as Theophylact lived considerably later, and his name must have
been attached to it subsequently, in order to enliance its value. It has since
been re-published at Vienna, under the editorship of F. Miklosich, with
the title 'Vita S. dementis, Episcopi Bulgarorum' {see his preface on the
authorship). It contains, however, no information as to the external rela-
tions of the Church at Ochrida.

Chap. VIII. Statues and Pictures. 193

the Eastern Church. It is well known that that com-
munion at the present day proscribes statues {ur^akjxara),
while pictures, or icons {elKoves:), are universally revered.
In saying this, I do not mean to imply that the idola-
trous worship of such objects is enjoined or encouraged
as such, for neither is that the case in the Roman
Church ; in one, as much as in the other, the theory is, that
the real objects of veneration are the persons or ideas
which they suggest to the mind, though in practice it is
certain that amongst the uneducated, in a large number
of cases, the worship is offered to the thing itself But
anyhow, the distinction between the views of the Eastern
and Western Churches is broadly marked, in that the
former reprobates the use of statues, while the latter
advocates it. When talking to one of the more intel-
ligent of the monks of Athos on this subject, I was
assured by him that the distinction between statues and
icons was drawn by the Sixth and Seventh General
Councils ; to which he added, that the icon merely served
for a likeness or remembrance of a person, while the
statue expressed beauty and caused sensual gratification.
In the first of these statements he was mistaken ; all
through the iconoclastic controversy statues were the
objects of attack and defence just as much as pictures,
and in the acts of the Fourth Synod of Constantinople,
in 869, no such distinction is made. The change was
brought about very gradually ; so much so, that no trace
remains to us of the steps by which it came to pass.
But the latter part of the monk's statement is valuable,
because it presents to us, in a Greek Christian of the
present day, the same feeling which was really at work
from the first, namely, an instinctive objection to a ma-
terial image. In the only passage, as far as I know, in
any ecclesiastical historian, where this subject has been

194 Monastir and Ochvida. Chap, VIII.

philosophically treated, this idea has been brought pro-
minently forward. Speaking of the time succeeding
the period of Iconoclasm, Dean Milman says — "To the
keener perception of the Greeks there may have arisen a
feeling that, in its more rigid and solid form, the Image
was more near to the Idol. At the same time, the art
of sculpture and casting in bronze was probably more
degenerate and out of use ; at all events, it was too slow
and laborious to supply the demand of triumphant zeal
in the restoration of the persecuted Images. There was,
therefore, a tacit compromise ; nothing appeared but
painting, mosaics, engraving on cups and chalices, em-
broidery on vestments. The renunciation of Sculpture
grew into a rigid passionate aversion. The Greek at
length learned to contemplate that kind of more definite
and full representation of the Deity, or the saints, with
the aversion of a Jew or a Mohammedan." ^^ What has
been said about statues naturally applies to the crucifix
also ; and this perhaps may have been disused all the
more easily, because it had not long been introduced, for
the crucifix did not exist until after the seventh cen-

'^ 'Latin Christianity,' VI p 413.

*^ .S^^ Guericke's 'Ecclesiastical Antiquities,' p. 116.

( 195 )



The Menzil — Primitive Boats — The Drin at Struga — Roman IVIilestone

— Bulgarian School — Kukus — Wild Mountain Road — Elbassan —
Concealed Treasures — Illtreatment of Women — Value set on Water —
The Albanians — Their Origin — Character — Riddles and Superstitions

— Ghegs and Tosks — Albanian Heroes — History of Scanderbeg —
Ballad on his Death.

Two hours' riding along the northern shore of the lake
brought us to the town of Struga, which is situated at
the place where the Black Drin makes its exit from the
lake, from whence it flows first north, and afterwards
south-west, and falls into the Adriatic near Alessio, after
describing almost a semicircle in its course. We were
now travelling by the Menzil or Turkish post, for along
the main lines of communication horses are kept in
readiness for government officials, and travellers who are
provided with a firman of the Sultan can use them at
three-fifths of the regular charge ; they can also impress
the horses of the people of the country, if necessary,
though we always preferred hiring them from carriers, if
they were to be had, as the inconvenience to the peasants
is often very great. In this part of Turkey the charge
for menail horses is three piastres and a half (about
sevenpence) an hour ; but this is higher than what is
found in some other parts of the country, and a great
deal above the ordinary carrier's fare. At the same time
the gain is great in respect of speed, as the post-horses
are usually good : thus the ordinary "hour" of carriers'
pace, which averages about three miles, may be com-

O 2

196 Ochrida to Elbassan. Chap. IX.

passed into three-quarters of the time. In many other
ways a finnan will be found of great service ; it will
secure you a night's lodging, if there is any difficulty ; and
on one occasion, when a Turkish guard by the roadside
required to see our passports, and demanded bakshish for
himself, on hearing that we carried a finnan he instantly
lowered his tone, and said he had no wish to inspect it,

Online LibraryHenry Fanshawe TozerResearches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) → online text (page 15 of 31)