Page images

manded the entrance to the Acropolis, is not matter for wonder. It was a less happy impulse which made them destroy the bastion erected by their own Captain Odysseus in the War of Independence, and which led them in 1834 to set up in their places some of the columns of the Parthenon which had fallen, and quite recently to range the drums of fallen columns in formal order at the sides of the building. But since we are now promised that the Christian frescoes on the walls of the Parthenon shall be spared, and since the foundations of even Roman buildings are respected, we must not unduly complain, especially seeing that nothing but praise can be awarded to the zeal and method with which the extensive excavations of the last five years have been conducted.

It is chiefly with the results of these recent excavations, conducted by the Greek Archæological Society, that we propose to deal in the present article. They are of extraordinary richness and interest; and although reports of them have appeared from time to time in the columns of the Athenæum,' and in the pages of the Journal of Hellenic Studies,' they have not been fairly brought before the notice of those, in England so numerous a class, whose interest in Greece and Greek art is general rather than special. To help our readers we copy, the woodcut on the next page, a plan of the Acropolis due to Messrs. Penrose and Schultz, and published in the 'Journal of Hellenic Studies' for 1889. For permission to use it our thanks are due to the Council of the Hellenic Society.

If this plan be compared with that published in 1885 in Baumeister's Denkmäler,' or that in Bädeker's 'Greece,' it will be seen how much progress has lately been made in the topography of the site. But the progress is not due only to the excavations; in great part it is the work of a man whose genius is in this country but little appreciated, Dr. Dörpfeld, Head of the German School of Athens, a man whose patience, science, and enthusiasm, are all alike remarkable; a man who has shed upon all the sites where he has worked a flood of new light, and who possesses in a rare degree the power of interesting and convincing others.

The two works placed at the head of this paper are by no means of equal merit. Dr. Bötticher's is a readable and useful resumé of the views generally accepted at the time of his writing, illustrated by abundant engravings. Unfortunately it was written a little too soon; and the writer is more at home in dealing with the problems of architecture than with those of sculpture, epigraphy, or topography. The book of Miss Harrison and Mrs. Verrall, two distinguished quasi-graduates


[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

of Newnham College, is of a far more important and thoroughgoing character. We should rather call it Miss Harrison's book, for Mrs. Verrall has contributed only a good translation of some chapters of Pausanias, and the work bears throughout the stamp of a strong individuality. It is incomparably the best Guide to the Acropolis, and ancient Athens generally, which has yet appeared. Miss Harrison is a devoted adherent of Dr. Dörpfeld, who has allowed her, with the generosity common among the best sort of savants, to anticipate many of his unpublished views. His enthusiasm is contagious; and readers will be surprised to find that it is possible to extract from discussions on topography and Attic myths much that is interesting and almost overflowing with actuality. The book leads us from point to point in the midst of the temples, the dedications, the mythology, the cultus of the ancient Athenians, until they become astonishingly familiar to us. We learn all about the plans of Mnesicles when he began the Propylæa, and why those plans were not carried out; we trace the steps by which the stage of the Dionysiac Theatre gradually encroached on the orchestra, following the altering character of dramatic representations; we visit the grotto of Pan, and sympathize with the herdsman-god, who finds himself sadly out of place among the cultivated and metaphysical Athenians; we trace from point to point the wanderings of the traveller Pausanias, and often get the true clue to his puzzling utterances and his more puzzling silences.

Nor must we omit to commend the great thoughtfulness and success with which Miss Harrison has planned and procured her illustrations. Small they necessarily are, and quite without pretensions to style, but, for purposes of help to students, admirable. At every point of difficulty, photographs and prints. enable the eye to help the mind. Many of these views must have been very difficult to procure; taken together, they furnish such a help to those not on the spot as has never been furnished before; and, indeed, they can scarcely be paralleled in any archæological work for close adaptation to a chosen purpose.

The book is, in fact, calculated to be very useful in England. Faults it has, no doubt; inaccuracies and oversights in abundance; the style, if always lively, is sometimes slipshod, and the side of a question, in which the writer does not believe, has seldom fair play. But it is interesting, and it is exhilarating. It supplies just the elements wanting in classical studies as followed in England. For some reason or other, classical archæology, which has done so much of late in Germany and France to enliven the study of antiquity, has been slow in crossing the Channel. Our Universities are still more or less bound

bound to the too narrow interpretation of the Humanities formerly current. Oxford in particular, oppressed by the bondage of 'Greats,' is prone to regard any study of antiquity which does not confine itself to philosophy and the workings of political forces as certainly frivolous and probably useless. The attraction of Miss Harrison's work arises from its constantly bringing together ancient life and existing monuments. And in so doing it makes ancient life far more real and far more interesting to us. For existing monuments can not only be read about, but seen and felt, drawn and photographed; they have in them an inexhaustible fund of information, and there are few among them too unimportant to be worked by patient thought into useful stones to be fitted into the structure of knowledge. And while the literary sources for the reconstruction of ancient history will never receive serious additions, the extant monuments, including buildings, sculptures, inscriptions, vases, and coins, are increasing in number so fast that even specialists are unable to keep pace with the growth of knowledge, except in some small part of the field.

The only point in which we feel it necessary to enter a protest againt Miss Harrison's methods is her too great disregard for the claims of specialists to the promulgation of their own ideas. It is a fault which springs from enthusiasm for truth, but it is a fault. The intentions alike of Miss Harrison and of Dr. Dörpfeld are not only fair but generous. And yet it is impossible not to feel that they have set a dangerous precedent. It is a part of literary custom, which has almost become literary morality, that a savant should publish his views himself at the time and in the form he chooses. Many of Dr. Dörpfeld's views, as set forth in the book before us, have never been published, but are gathered from lectures and conversation. We cannot be sure in some cases whether he has seriously and finally adopted them. We cannot be sure that he has in no case been misunderstood. Certainly we can hold him responsible only for what he has himself printed and published. But meantime Miss Harrison's statements cannot be passed over, and discussion must necessarily proceed on the assumption that they are correct and complete. She has assumed an awkward responsibility, and given a fresh illustration of the danger of violating literary traditions founded on experience.

In regard to Pausanias, we are glad to see that Miss Harrison does not endorse the theories of the rather too advanced scholars in Germany, who maintain that Pausanias was no traveller at all, but a redactor of old guide-books and collector of queer stories. She writes:

'I feel

'I feel bound to record my own conviction that the narrative of Pausanias is no instance of "Reise Romantik," but the careful, conscientious, and in some parts amusing and quite original narrative of a bona fide traveller. If Pausanias did read his Polemon before he started, and when he got back to his study in Asia Minor posted up his notes by the help of the last mythological handbook, what educated man would do less? . . . In the face of recent excavations, which everywhere, save in the most trivial details, confirm the narrative of Pausanias, such criticism proves nothing but that there is a vast amount of energy and learned ingenuity out of work.'

No test could be more severe than that to which Miss Harrison submits the narrative of Pausanias; if it endures that test, we may fairly be content to trust it when there is no special reason for mistrust.

As to Miss Harrison's mythological discussions, which make up a large part of her book, we will make but one remark. Her favourite plan of explaining mythical tales as aetiological —that is, invented for the purpose of explaining religious ceremonies, the origin of which was really lost in barbarous antiquity-seems to us particularly satisfactory; and in this way it is possible to reach an apparently final explanation of such tales as that of the childhood of Erichthonius, the boysnake, hidden in a basket, and confided to the daughters of Cecrops (p. xxxii.). But it is in our day a commonplace to say that no one method of explanation can suit all myths, or even all the myths of one country or city. The Key to all Mythologies' must ever be only the dream of Casaubons.

The Acropolis, with its levelled top surrounded by lofty walls, approached through magnificent Propylæa, and loaded with ancient temples and monuments, evidently owes at least as much to art as to nature. It has long been known that its present form and aspect dates from the age of Cimon and of Pericles. The recent excavations have thrown light on all ages of Athenian history, but they are specially notable for having opened up to us the stages through which the whole Acropolis passed before it reached what may be called its classical form. Hitherto it has risen as abruptly from the background of history as from the level soil of the Attic plain. But now we can trace step by step its formation out of an irregular rocky mass, sloping on at least two sides gradually to the ground below, and surmounted only by the poor huts of a prehistoric race, whom the later Greeks called by the vague name of Pelasgi.

The nucleus of almost all the celebrated centres of civic life in Greece was a rocky eminence rising out of a river-valley. Such a rock was a natural fortress, and afforded shelter to a


« PreviousContinue »