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plied, that this was a common occurrence, and that he soon would find a remedy. He then hurried away to the mandra or sheep-fold, on the outskirts of the village, and quickly returned with some large vases of fresh goats milk, which indeed proved an excellent antidote, and enabled the sufferers next morning to return to Athens ; but none of them afterwards ever travelled through Greece without carrying their bright copper-kettle, well tinned, slung on the saddle behind them.
Not only the poets, historians and orators vied with one another in praising the beauty of their native land, nay, even the Olympian gods themselves disputed and strove for the possession of Attica! A tradition of high antiquity says, that Neptune first claiming his right to a region which so long had been covered with his waves, fixed his trident on the rock of the Acropolis, from which a salt-spring issued forth, while the prudent Minerva, devising another gift more conducive to the prosperity of its inhabitants, planted the Olive, ever afterwards venerated in her sanctuary on the castle-hill. The seagod then offered the horse, but Minerya, cunningly, by a quick glance, induced the hero Erichthonios to attach the steeds to her chariot and hurry away with them! Cecrops and the assembled gods then awarded the prize to Pallas Athene, and the irascible Neptune, in revenge, launched his terrible trident and submerged the Thriasian plain, which afterwards formed the gulf of Salamis. This rivalry of the gods, which so poetically expresses the early tastes and occupations of the Athenians before the Persian war, some devoting themselves to foreign commerce and maritime expeditions, while the mass preferred the quiet vocations of the ploughman and shepherd, was represented in splendid colossal statues by the masterhand of Pliidias, on the western pediment of the Parthenon.
The horse of Neptune never prospered in Attica ; it required the rich pastures of Bæotia and Thessaly. The Athenians, therefore, had no Cavalry in the battle of Marathon, and even later, during the Peloponnesian war their horse consisted only of twelve hundred young, rich knights or hippeis, and some squadrons of Thessalian auxiliaries. At the present day, the Royal Studs or hippotropheia, are situated in the plain of Argos, where a large number of fine colts are raised for the service of the army.
The Olive was the glory of Attica, and her most valuable product. Its cultivation was encouraged by the Solonian laws, which threatened the infliction of severe penalties to whoever injured that precious tree. The sacred Olive from the Erechtheion, had, according to the belief of the pious Athenians, by the agency of the goddess herself, been propagated to the grove of the Academy on the banks of the Cephissus, and from thence to other parts of Attica, where it was attended with particular care. It was called moria, and produced the holy and Panathenaic oil, which, as the highest prize, was presented to the victor at the public games, both in Greece and Italy, in a beautifully ornamented vase, having the curious inscription : “I am one of the prizes from Athens."
When the Athenians fled from their city and the temples on the Acropolis were burnt and destroyed by the Persians, the prisoners, with astonishment, beheld fresh scions shooting forth from the roots of the Sacred Plant, which they hailed as a propitious omen of final victory. Even the Spartans, during their devastating incursions in Attica, spared the Olive-groves with religious reverence. So did the Turks, and for centuries they remained the wealth and pride of the Athenians, but the war of independence has made a deplorable havoc among the fine Olive woods of the plain. Hundreds of old trees have been cut down, no young ones planted, and their large open glades are now laid out in vineyards or melon gardens. We felt greatly disappointed at this indifference of the modern Athenians, to restore and cultivate their precious Olive-groves, while in many other parts of Greece, as for instance, in Messenia and Laconia, we, with intense pleasure, visited the nurseries, phyteiae, of young trees, reared with the utmost care by the Moreotes, for the transplantation of the scions. Like their forefathers, they engraft the wild Olive; and on Mount Za vitza in Argolis, we behold the interesting sight of entire forests of wild Olive trees in the different degrees of their domestication.
The American traveller, being accustomed to the deep and florid verdure of his native forests, generally considers the pale, silvery tints of the Olive devoid of beauty.
“ It possesses neither the majesty of the forest-tree,” says Mr. Hillhouse, in his valuable article on the Olive, “nor the gracefulness of shrubbery. It clothes the hills without adorning them and considered as an accident in the landscape, it does not change the picture sufficiently to contribute to its beauty. The rich culture for which the southern provinces of France are celebrated, is less conducive to rural beauty than some of the humbler species of husbandry. The richest country is not always the most lovely ; a country of mines, for example, is usually ungracious to the eye, and the Olive is called by an Italian writer, a mine upon the surface of th earth."*
This statement is certainly just, with regard to the dwarf Olive of France, which only in the celebrated valley of Vaucluse, near Avignon, has something like an Italian character. Yet, in order to see the Olive in its full development and beauty, the traveller must descend to Italy and Greece. Already the average produce of the Olive in Provance, of ten pounds of oil, compared to that of the larger trees in Greece, of three hundred pounds, will show the difference. There the Olive is a large, elegant and eminently beautiful tree. The extensive Olive-groves of Attica, Laconia, Messenia, and the Grecian Islands, where the bright, silvery color of the Olive, intermingled with the cypress and orange, stands in the most beautiful contrast to the deep verdure of the vineyards beneath, and the violet hues of the rocky summits above; there they present that rich and picturesque southern landscape, so enthusiastically admired by the poet and painter; there the groves of Minerva, by the soft and yet distinct outlines and variegated shades of the masses, give the true character to the classical soil, which our imagination delights to people with the grand and venerable visions of antiquity.
* The North American Sylva by Michaux. Paris, 1819, Vol. II, page 172. The European Olive was successfully cultivated in East Florida, at New Smyrna, on the west bank of the Mosquito river, where an Englishman, Mr. Turnbull, had founded a settlement of Greeks and Minorquies. William Bartram, who visited the colony in 1775, describes its beautiful situation in an extensive Orange-grove, and the thriving condition of the town. But the poor Greeks were soon driven to despair by continual hardships and the oppression of the Spaniards. They abandoned their new home, and, courageous as their forefathers, some of them attempted, in an open boat, to cross over to Havana, while the rest cut their way through the savage Indians and reached St. Augustine.
In 1783, a few decayed cottages and a number of large Olive-trees, were he only remaining traces of Grecian industry in America. Vide Michaux, ibid. p. 199.
Before the Turkish war, forty oil mills, of an almost primitive form, and driven by mules, were in activity at Athens ; they yielded an average produce of five hundred thousand kila of an excellent oil. Six thousand barrels, worth one hundred thousand dollars, are exported every year, mostly to Constantinople and Russia.
The Turks of Athens, being a sedentary and indolent people, are fond of gardens with purling fountains and shady bowers; they surround their mosks with clusters of fine plantanes ; their burial grounds are dense thickets of dark cypresses, and everywhere they rear the palm in memory of their prophet and oriental origin. All these Turkish gardens, so beautifully described by Lord Byron, have vanished, together with their harems and cemeteries; yet two elegant palm-trees still adorn the city of Athens, and the lifeless seated stem of a third is seen on the Acropolis. The palm is rare in Greece; on the islands of the Ægean, principally at Naxos, Paros and Santorin, entire groups of these graceful trees embellish the landscape, and give it an oriental character, but their dates do not attain maturity, and it is not until you land at Acre, Yafa, or on the. banks of the Nile, that you enjoy the first exciting and enrapturing sight of a palm-grove.
Attica is a dry country; it has neither lakes nor rivers, and the torrents, descending from the mountains, flow only during the witer season and dry up in summer. This is the case with the celebrated Ilissus, losing itself in the fields south of Athens, and the scanty rivulets of Marathon and Eleusis. The Cephissus bursting forth from a beautiful source at the base of Mount Pentelicon, has, on the contrary, a perennial stream, not always fordable in winter, but during summer led off by numer
ous channels to irrigate the gardens and vineyards in the environs of the city.
Beautiful are the walks on the woody banks of the Cephissus, when on the stillness of the evening, the nightingale, the lovely Philomele, is heard warbling through thickets of laurel, myrtle and oleander. Nothing can be more delightful than the calm, bright moonlight nights at Athens. The Attic sky is the most transparent, the most brilliant and deeply violet in the Levant; there is a charm thrown over all the distant objects on that clear horizon, which we have seen nowhere so perfect on the shores of the Mediterranean.
The plain being on three sides surrounded by lofty mountains, the winter at Athens is colder than at Smyrna, or on the islands of Ægean. The north wind, the fierce Boreas, sweeping down from Mount Cythæron is chilly, and we have often in the early morning hours felt more uncomfortably cold in our airy wood-built house in the Peircecus than in the cheerful domicile of Lancaster; but the glorious winter-gun rising gorgeously above Mount Hymettus, soon dispels the freshness of the morning, and a bright, warm and sunny winter day in the plain of Athens is as agreeable as the loveliest May day on the hills of Pennsylvania.
The fields in Attica, during the winter season, are covered with a rich carpet of flowers. The olive, orange, and lemon groves, the laurel, myrtle, cypress and oleander, together with a great variety of other ever-greens, vie in freshness and beauty, while the high snow-capped mountains around glitter in all the pomp and majesty of Alpine regions.
This luxurious vegetation continues during April and May ; at every step on Mount Parnes we meet with the wild hyacinth, the lily, the crocus ; the plain whitens with the asphodelus, the bulbous root of which was eaten by the ancient Pelasgi, according to the statement of Hesiodus. At the present day this plant is used in the French sugar manufactories at Thermopylæ and yields eight and ten per cent. of an excellent white sugar.
The banks of the rivulets are adorned with the purple olean