National Geographic : 1922 Dec
VOL. XI II, No. 6 WASHINGTON DECEMBER, 1922 "THE GLORY THAT WAS GREECE" BY ALEXANDER WILBOURNE WEDDELL FORM ERI.Y\ A.\1 RICAN CONSUL GENERAL AT IATHI NS AFTER some six years spent in Greece, after learning to love that land of "cloudless climes and starry skies" with something of the affection which I feel for my own country, I am fain to try to convey to those who may read these pages some of the enthusiasm and interest and affection for that soil which life there kindles. In attempting this I am following a well-worn path, for the compelling charm: of Hellas has been the theme of poets, philosophers, artists, historians, and trav elers from the earliest days. Foremost among travelers must be named Pau sanias, the Baedeker of the second cen tury after Christ, whose minute work is a basis on which our archeologists com mence to build to their sometimes startling conclusions. Since his time, save for that long period following the reign of Jus tinian at Constantinople, when a veil seems drawn over the Balkan Peninsula, through which invasions, internecine strife, mas sacres, and cruelties are dimly felt and seen, there have not lacked men of the stamp of Pausanias to penetrate the country and leave their impressions. In those days such voyages required strength, fortitude, and courage of the highest order. How different, how very different, from the luxury now surround ing a voyage to Greece! APPROACHING ATTICA BY SEA Fate, working through my Government, decided me to go by water. Three days over summer seas from Sicily, three nights under starry skies, a fairy glimpse of Cerigo,-the Cythera of the poets, near to which Venus rose from the sea-then a long line of low-lying islands echeloned toward the coast, and there lay before my eyes the Plain of Attica, surrounded by hills, with "Athens, the eye of Greece," as its center (see map, page 574). To every one sensitive to historical sug gestion, to every one to whom beauty makes the supreme appeal, the first sight of this immortal city becomes the moment of a lifetime. To the right rose Hymettus, famed now, as in ancient days, for the honey which the bees rifle from its flowers; to the left, and nearer, the island of Salamis, with its deathless memories; a bowshot away, Psyttalia, where Aristides and his band cut down the flower of Persian chivalry, after the naval battle of Salamis; still farther to the left, the ranges of Parnes, extending in a full, voluptuous curve toward the east. Sweeping this panorama with powerful glasses, the city revealed itself more clearly, wearing "like a garment the beauty of the morning," and, outtopping all, the Acropolis, with the Parthenon as its diadem. In its still beauty, its majesty and its tenderness, the scene had a vague unreal ity. I thought of the spirit hand "clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful," which rose from the lake in the poet's vision and sank again. MAlGAZlIIN COPYRIGHT.922.BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY.WASHINGTON.D. C.