NOT until 1935, still nearly a quarter of a century in the future, will Greece celebrate her first centenary of independence; for while with the fall of Missolonghi in 1826 she became free, it was not until nine years later that the new government, with King Otho on the throne, was established. At that time the progress of education, commerce, industries, and internal improvements was initiated, which, under the wise and steadfast administration of the late King George, fostered and stimulated social advancement. The Church has been constantly zealous in her spiritual mission, and perpetual prayer is offered in the Greek service for “the peace of the whole world, the stability of the Holy Churches of God, and the union of all.” Again Greece is on the entering threshold of a new dynasty, and the present high standard of Athenian culture is one in complete harmony with the lofty traditions of her incomparable past.
In the philosophy of Walt Whitman there is thus expressed an arresting significance of profound insight in the lines:
“Have the past struggles succeeded? What has succeeded? Yourself? Your nation? Nature?
Now understand me well; it is provided in the essence of things
That from any fruition of success no matter what,
Shall come forth something to make a greater struggle necessary.”
In the history of no nation of the earth has this truth been more vividly demonstrated than in that of Greece. Her advance has been made by repeated struggle and warfare which, at the time this book goes to press, is still in progress. Out of each advance have arisen conditions requiring a new and greater struggle. But the characteristics of the Golden Age live in the country of today. There is seen the same impassioned love of freedom; the demand for an ideal civilization; the same ardor for scholarship; the intellectual vigor, the refinement of taste, the generous and abounding hospitality; the noble self-determination and personal dignity that marked the Athenians who walked with Plato in the groves of the academy; who accompanied Socrates and AEschylus and Euripides, and sang the songs of Pindar. However enthralling is that story of the past, the pages of the future will bear a record not less thrilling or less momentous in its message to the ages yet to come. The Promised Land, however, is by no means within her immediate possession, though it has always been to her within that vision without which the people perish. King Constantine faces peculiar problems which no rational study of the conditions can fail to take into account. There are other questions in the twentieth century than those discussed by Socrates and Phaedrus when they sought relief from burning summer suns in the groves on the banks of the Ilissus.
One of these questions is that of productions. Greece has large agricultural resources in some parts of the country, and especially in Thessaly. A feature of this region has been the very large estates held by a few owners and on which the appliances of labor, of proper implements, and of direct access to markets have been problems without immediate solution. Some of these estates have included from two to five villages;, they have had a population of from twelve hundred to three thousand persons to support; but. these extensive domains often include much wooded land and rugged mountain or hillsides, which are unproductive, or whose products, as, for instance, woods, are cut off from direct transportation to a market. The government has contemplated these conditions, and many schemes for developing a greater prosperity have been proposed, but few to which there were not inherent objections. The Department of Agriculture is one of the most vigilant of all branches of the government. The Minister is a man of eminently practical views; but since the war of 1897, conditions have been singularly stifled in the way of efficient and sufficient facilities for transportation, and in money to carry on public. works. Much of the land requires irrigation. Of the products suitable to the general re-sources the olive orchards, tobacco, cotton fields, and the raising of currants take the lead. The latter has been so associated with the island of Zante that it has hardly occurred to those interested that it may be made a prosperous industry in other parts of the land. The cultivation of olives has increased in Greece, as it has in Italy, and still the demand keeps pace.
The climate of Greece is peculiarly favorable for developing a large yield of oil from a given quantity of the olives themselves, a larger percentage than is derived from the orchards of Italy. Corfu is a place peculiarly favorable to the olive.
The vintage is another natural resource; within the past five years Greek wines have been advancing in consideration, and much that is exported under French labels is originally from Greece. In Athens a firm has established itself under the name of the Hellenic Wine and Spirits Company, with several branch establishments in other cities. This house handles a claret and two or three grades of port wine that find ready market.
The cultivation of tobacco has been experimental and is only at the present time be-ginning to be a success. For years there was a great loss of plants, owing to lack of rain or of irrigating facilities; and difficulties with labor added to the inability to develop this industry. In the year 1911, tobacco to the extent of over a million dollars was exported.
More than forty years ago, Greece determined to be independent of imported cotton, and set out to raise the plant. On the level plains, both on the Ionian islands, and in Thessaly, Boeotia, Argoli, and other parts of the country, the cotton industry took root, and has been a thriving one. The success was of a nature to encourage the work, and Egyptian cotton, held to be the best in the world, has been introduced. The climate of Greece is pronounced one of the best in the world for cotton, and the present head of the Department of Agriculture is an enthusiast on this industry, seeing in it greater revenue than in any other direction. His ambition now is to have Greece become the headquarters for cotton buyers.
In ancient times Athens enjoyed much prosperity from silk production; and an enterprising Greek lady, Madame Zlatanon, has of late years given herself to promoting its revival. A large structure in Athens known as the Zappeion Palace is devoted to the display and the sale of native industries; in the Zappeion a number of exhibitions have been made of the silks of Greece, which have enlisted much interest from foreign visitors. The fabric is essentially durable, and is largely in dark colors. The peculiar luster of which the French have the secret is hardly yet achieved in Greece. The royal family have been ardent and unsparing in their encouragement of silk culture.
The currant, which in America is chiefly regarded as a domestic product, a garden shrub for family use, in Greece assumes extraordinary proportions. From Patras to Corinth, and to the extremity of Cape Matapan, the currant is found. A quarter of a million acres in Greece are devoted to its cultivation. Enormous quantities are sold all over Europe to factories, which can or preserve the fruit, or which manufacture the jam which is so much in evidence in England. The great factories for biscuits of all sorts are also large buyers and consumers.
The recent war with Turkey has been the greatest blow to agricultural advancement. With the fiery patriotism of the Greeks, every man who could enter military service was eager to do so. A journey through the provinces discloses the fact that ninety per cent of the laborers in the fields, during this wartime, are women and children.
The condition of women in Greece is not one of oppression, but one lacking all the “divine discontent” that is supposed to open the gate-ways of larger life. No woman expects to marry without a reasonable dowry; and the efforts of father or brothers to provide this requisite are often pathetic. In Athens there are a number of women with more of the modern spirit of larger demand and assertion; nor do they meet with any opposition in the way of entrance to the professions, or of obtaining the best educational opportunities; but the majority of Greek women know, and at present care, little for any life beyond that of the domestic and house-hold rounds.
With the conclusion of the war with Turkey, and that of the present struggle among the allies, one of the most immediate problems to be considered is that of internal improvements, and especially the development of transit facilities. Is it realized that Greece is, practically, an island? There is still lacking a hundred and seventy-five miles of the railroad which would connect Athens with continental Europe; and one of the most valuable results of the late war is the acquisition of Macedonian territory, through which to build the remainder of the road that shall link Athens with the transcontinental line from Vienna to Costanza. At the present time the visitor in Athens is informed that mails “for Europe and America” will close at such a time; the former being apparently a country quite as remote as the latter. This fact is emphasized when the sojourner discovers that the latest copy of the London Times is nine days old on its arrival; that the Parisian journals are only received seven or eight days after their issue; and that even the postal service from Rome is usually at least six days between the two cities. As inaccessible as an island must Greece therefore remain, until she completes her railroad connection with the great systems of European lines. When through trains run between Athens and Budapest, on through Vienna, Munich, to Paris, life in Athens will asume new aspects. At present Athens is only reached by water, and save for local transit and traffic, only two ports are available, those of Patras and the Piraeus. The latter is the port of Athens and only three miles distant from the city. The scheme of transit, however, from one’s hotel in Athens to a steamer in the port of the Piraeus, is a rather complicated affair. There is a cab to the station; the electric train (which, after all, only proceeds at about the leisurely pace of a donkey in Italy) to the Piraeus; then another cab to the dock; thence a small boat to the steamer for which the voyager is bound. To sail from Boston to Genoa, or from New York to Paris, Bremen, or Alexandria, is a simple matter compared with the complexity of getting to one’s steamer from Athens. If one decides to sail from Patras, there is a railroad trip of from seven to nine hours, with the felicity at the end of a more or less indefinite stay, waiting and watching for one’s steamer. This experience is invested with the charm of uncertainty, even if it lack every other fascination. The steamer, coming down the Adriatic from Trieste, Brindisi, and Corfu, may appear at any hour of day or night within a latitude of forty-eight hours. During this time the wary voyager will do well to keep his lamp trimmed and burning, for it is in such an hour as he thinks not that his deliverance may arrive. If the steamer is late, her sojourn in the port is proportionally brief ; the later she appears, the less time she lingers; and he who is not miraculously ready at any instant to be conveyed on board, by means of the precarious little boats, will thereby lose his passage and his passage money as well. So to board a steamer at Patras, either one coming down the Adriatic, or one coming in from Naples, and proceeding on to Trieste, is a liberal education in alertness. There is really only one royal road for reaching Athens; and that is by the steamers chartered for special parties under the delightful conductorship of eminent scholars and lecturers who make a specialty of these expeditions. These excursions, however delightful and offering great benefits in the line of knowledge and the most pleasant companionships, as well as ease and convenience, are still not always available to the average tourist, who must scramble for himself, as best he may, if he fares forth to visit Athens alone. At the best, Patras is about a day’s journey from Athens, although two or three times a week there is a train called the de luxe, which reduces the usual nine to about seven hours; but detention in Patras is something from which the traveler would pray all the gods to guard him.
The metropolis of the Poloponnesus, with some forty thousand inhabitants, Patras is chiefly notable for possessing St. Andrew as a patron saint, with a cathedral duly dedicated to him, and a view looking across the gulf to Missolonghi, where Byron died. The town commands a splendid highway of the sea, and all around are high mountains of volcanic rock, bold and bare. The country adjacent is said to be rich in vineyards and olive orchards, and it is certainly picturesque. But the landing at Patras, in the small boats that threaten to be engulfed in the high waves, and from which the hapless passenger is dragged to the rickety pier, is one of those experiences of which a single trial is sufficient for a lifetime. Patras is accredited with being a thriving, commercial town, but there are occasions under which it seems to be rich in one opportunity alone, that of being able to get out of it. To land at Patras on a cold and gloomy morning, with a sky like lead, and with the bald masses of rocky promontories seen through a dull, cold, gray air, is hardly the realization of the day-dream of Greece. But the landing cannot be said to be unexciting, although the quality of the excitement might leave to the fastidious something to be desired. The small and precarious boats, the turbid waves, the squalor of the “customs” establishment, the utter lack of system, all these invest one’s landing at Patras with conditions that savor of tragedy at the moment, and of comedy in after recollection. But by some miracle of dispensation one at last finds himself at the station, where he boards his train for Athens, assisted, apparently, by all the inhabitants of the town. After his tribulations and apprehensions, he is in ready sympathy with Bayard Taylor, who declared that he found Greece as cold as Lapland. At last the train swings off, and one is en route for Athens.
The cars are similar to those of continental Europe, but there is no heat. The wind sweeps wildly over the mountains, almost bending the trunks of great trees. With whatever warmth of wraps and furs, the voyager has yet a sensation of being clothed only in tissue paper, or some equally ethereal fabric, so penetrating is the chill wind. But the beauty of that journey following the Gulf of Corinth! One is conscious of a feeling of self-reproach in turning away from the close proximity of Olympia, most easily visited from Patras, which is the gateway for Delhi and Olympia. Crossing over to Itea, on the mainland, the journey to Delhi affords a splendid view of the snowy summit of Mount Parnassus. The scenery alone would amply repay one for visiting the shrine of the Delphic oracle, where the poets Hesiod and Pindar and AEschylus came, as did the statesmen Solon, Lycurgus, Socrates, and Xenophon; where Pindar’s iron chair was guarded, and where, as the priest at night closed the temple, he would cry : “Let Pindar, the poet, go in to the supper of the gods.” But do not all poets sup with the gods?
At Olympia, the excavations made within the past thirty years offer to the archaeologist some of the most interesting and important disclosures in all Greece; notably the remains in the temple of Hera, described by Pausanias. The grandeur of the Vale of Tempe, from whose side rises Mount Olympus to the height of ten thousand feet, and where one may well fancy that the gods still make their abode, is alone worth the excursion; and between Olympus and Ossa, in a gorge unsurpassed in the entire world, dashes the river Penios. Pelion is opposite, looming up in the skies, and thus has originated the phrase: to “pile Ossa on Pelion.” Every mountain peak is invested with legend and history.
From Patras a journey of some seventy-five miles by rail conveys the traveler to Olympia, where many important excavations of the ancient temples and shrines, and an interesting museum, allure the imagination; but when all the winds of high heaven are out in carnival over the snow-clad mountains, only the soul of the savant could summon courage to with-stand its rigors. The utter desolation of these mountainous solitudes, with their bare eyries of towering rock, make it easy to believe that only the gods could inhabit them. For, of all the shrines of the Hellenic world, that of Olympia is the most impressive. That wonderful five days, at the beginning of the sacred month, when heralds had been sent to proclaim, all over Greece, the universal peace, and the sacrifices were offered to Zeus and the other gods under the solemn direction of the priests, was a season of Transfiguration. Here were the temples of Zeus and Hera and of the Mother of the Gods. Here gathered the crowds to listen to the narrative of Herodotus, as he retold the tale of the Persian wars. The spiritual conflict of which they were typical inspired the artist who created the divine Hermes. On this Olympian height all human vision was quickened and purified. In the temple of Zeus once stood that. chryselephantine statue of the god, the figure forty feet in height, which, when completed by Phidias, was marked by a thunder-bolt from Zeus himself, to attest his approval of the work. The grasses and flowers of summer, the snows of winter, cover the ruined temples, the altar of Zeus, the fragmentary remains of the palace of Nero. But on a moonlight night they all quicken into being again; palace and altar and shrine and temple, and the statues of gods and nymphs. And the olive-branch of Olympia waves in the spectral air.
“And men will hymn your haunted skies, And seek your holy streams, Until the soul of music dies, And earth has done with dreams.”
Leaving this wonderful place, descending the mountain again, one feels that the great god Pan is left behind, a solitary watcher.
The journey from Patras to Athens is by the line known as the Piraeus, Athens, and Peloponnesus. It follows the Gulf of Corinth, affording the traveler an admirable opportunity of seeing Greece. The scenery is among the most sublime in the world; the towering peaks of colossal rock pierce the very sky, and the far valleys might well be the approach to the under-world. The route passes Zachlorou, the station for the largest and most important monastery of Greece, the Megaspelaeon, whose location in a huge cave on the slope gives it the appearance of simply clinging to the mountainside. This monastery, founded in the fourth century, is the richest as well as the oldest one in Greece. It is three thousand feet above sea level, in one of the wildest and most picturesque parts of the Peloponnesus. It was here that the Turkish commander, Ibrahim Pasha, was so long held at bay, and he finally gained access to the monastery only by letting himself down from above. There are still a hundred and fifty monks in residence, and the library contains some noted theological works, of which these are the only copies existing; on that account the monastery is frequently visited by scholars. The aspect of the vast building as seen from the railroad is sinister in the extreme, owing to three fissures in the rocks overhanging it, which at a little distance assume the shape of crosses.
The waters in the Gulf of Corinth are iridescent in color, changing from green and purple and rose, to gray and violet and amber, in the most bewildering fashion, and this on a gray day, when no color is borrowed from the skies. Not only the entrancing spell of the Titanic mountain scenery between Patras and Athens holds the traveler spellbound, but the wonderful engineering achievements, as well, impress him with the modern character of the life in the classic region he is traversing. Tunnels under the mountains, lofty viaducts passing from precipice to precipice, from which one looks down into the wildest of gorges far below; tracks skirting the serpentine windings of high cliffs, sustained by a wall that acts as a break-water to the vast gulf, these are some of the aspects noted on this railroad journey from Patras to Athens. The railroad crosses the canal cut through the isthmus at Corinth, on an iron trestlework bridge, two hundred and seventy-five feet long, at a height of a hundred and fifty feet above the water. The canal cannot accommodate large steamers, as it is only sixty-eight feet in width at the bottom, and eighty at sea level, but over three thousand smaller craft pass through each year. The Italian ship Stromboli, with a tonnage of some three thou-sand five hundred tons, and a width of forty-three feet, is said to be the largest vessel that has ever passed through the canal. It was in 1881-1893, that this canal, connecting the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic gulf, was cut across the isthmus. It is three miles in length, and at each entrance are placed brilliant electric lights that can be seen for more than six miles. The idea of such a canal suggested itself to Hadrian, and was also entertained by Caesar and by Nero. The latter, indeed, actually entered on. the work in 67 A. D., when “a great multitude of soldiers and prisoners assembled at the Isthmus, and the Emperor himself, after chanting hymns in honor of the marine deities, made a few strokes with a golden axe. The soldiers and prisoners fell to turning up the earth and hewing the rocks, when Nero suddenly received news of conspiracies at Rome and disaffection among his armies, and he suspended the work.”
Corinth is a city of nearly five thousand in-habitants, and is so favorably situated in commanding the land route from the Peloponnesus to continental Greece, and also in commanding the two harbors, that she can hardly fail to become one of the great emporiums of commerce. The precipitous mountains command a view of more than half the plateau of Greece, and it was from a grove on Acro-Corinth that Pegasus struck water by a blow from his hoofs on the rock. Sisyphus, too, was one of the early kings of Corinth, who, for some of his misdeeds, was condemned by Zeus to occupy him-self in Hades by continually rolling up the side of a mountain a stone that at once rolled down again.
There are interesting excavations at Corinth, and many attractions, both of wonderful views, Athens itself being visible from one point in clear weather, and attractions of the growing commerce and importance of the city; it is a delightful locality for an early summer sojourn.
Crossing on the high bridge over the canal, the traveler leaves the Peloponnesus for the mainland. The railroad sweeps breathlessly around sharp curves on precipices far above the sea and dashes into tunnels, to emerge at a scene whose sublimity of beauty makes one glance sufficient reward for crossing the Atlantic.
All this journey is magnetic with associations, but to arrive in Athens after dark in a cold rain is not so exhilarating as the truly classical spirit enjoins. Unfortunately, life does not in-variably follow art with the accuracy that well regulated life should, and what with the discouraging temperature and the general bewilderment, one fails to look for the Long Wall of Callicrates, or to wonder if he has passed through Colonus, the birthplace of Socrates, about a mile out of Athens, near the grove of which Antigone said: “This place is sacred, for it teems with the laurel, olive, and the vine. Within its very heart a number of feathered songsters make music.” In entering the City of the Violet Crown one smiles, too, in recalling the derisive words of Aristophanes, who said : “Whenever foreign envoys wish to cheat us Athenians, they call us `Violet-Crowned,’ and forthwith we are all attention.”
There are few countries of which the general student and reader has more dreamed and thought than of Greece. The marvelous tales of her gods have held one, as a child, spellbound; her mythology has been the fairy tales of earliest youth; her early religious poetry and her philosophy have spiritualized one’s outlook on life; and the lover of Greece has been haunted by those words of the Priest of Egypt to Solon, as related in the Timoeus of Plato : “She chose that spot on. earth in which you were born, because she saw that the happy temperament of the seasons in that land would produce the wisest of men. Wherefore the goddess, who was a lover both of war and wisdom, selected and first of all settled that spot which was the most likely to produce men like herself.”
So universal, so all-pervading and without exception is the law of evolutionary advance, that no experience in life seems absolutely start-ling at the moment it is encountered, however it may appear retrospectively; for the moment it seems in no way disconnected with the course of one’s natural progress. So true is this that one may even be by way of reproaching him-self, on occasions, for not feeling that which by all the accepted canons of romance he is confident that he ought to feel. That “lengthening chain” that at each remove we drag with us, misses no link.
“Our deeds still travel with us from afar, And what we have been makes us what we are.”
That which we have done apparently determines that which we shall do. It is, indeed, this constant series of selections that we make, the series of choices, that build up individuality, that construct character; and character determines events. It is, moreover, always within one’s own determination to have the trinity of Power, Wisdom, and Activity govern his series of experiences, and to hold the symphony of living to that finer key of beauty and harmony. The chief surprise, the most entire novelty, is that sometimes one is not surprised where he had fully expected to be. It is a humiliating departure from the classic spirit that he feels he should possess, when his arrival in the city of gods and muses is, after all, impact of his ordinary life, and in the mundane struggle for a cab to his hotel, romantic glories are, for the time being, submerged. No theme of interest seems for the moment comparable with that of warmth, if, indeed, there is such a comfort yet remaining on this sphere, and to be ushered into the comfort of the Hotel d’Angle-terre, whose radiator heat in every room and corridor appeal to one for the time being as the supreme luxury of existence; to partake of the daintiest and most attractively served dinner, and to seek repose in a room as well fitted with every convenience and comfort as are our best American hotels, all this is more enticing than would be the apparition of the Athena Parthenos, humiliating as the confession should be to any right-minded visitor to Hellas. But to waken in the morning with a miracle of Athenian sunshine flooding his room; to feel it perfectly natural, after all, that he should awaken in Athens, is rather, after all, as if he had lived there all his life and was about to step out into familiar scenes after a brief absence. It is more than possible that such sensations as these are hopelessly commonplace, and stamp their recipient as being far from endowed with the romantic turn of mind appropriate to the environment. It is also probable that his mood of exhilaration owes quite as much to the cheering influence of the radiator that admirably fulfills its purpose, as to his consciousness of being in proximity to the Acropolis. If the previous night were cold, the morning is far from comparison with the polar region. The sky is blue and the golden sunshine floods a transparent air. The bouquet of the matutinal coffee, and honey from Hymettus, make a breakfast in Athens one to be remembered. A veracious chronicle should perhaps include the fact that in hardly more than two or three of the hotels in Athens, the Grande Bretagne, the Angleterre, and possibly one or two others besides, does the American find due comfort. The others have no steam heat in the private rooms, although one or two of the most modern have introduced it into the corridors; the Athenian, indeed, regards the desire for heat in one’s room as the sign of a perverted and fantastic taste; but if his guest must thus be indulged, he orders for him a microscopic fire of olive roots, which is about as efficacious in warming a room as it would be to light a candle. It is little wonder that Prometheus was punished for bringing down fire from heaven, when one considers the national repugnance to anything like a comfortable temperature.
Greece, however, is so on the very threshold of a new development in the details of living, that it is only a question of time as to when she shall be as well supplied with hostelries, in the capital, at least, as are Algiers, Naples, Rome, and Florence. When the railway connection with continental Europe shall have been completed, Athens will leap into the constant routes of the tourist. As has already been noted southern Italy is crowded to the doors with the tide of transcontinental travel. Every steamer to the Mediterranean ports has its resources of accommodation taxed to the utmost. To land in Naples without having already secured accommodations at a hotel is to perhaps drive to two or three before any can be found. Every hotel in Naples, Rome, and Florence is so crowded that living becomes actually a problem. Athens will take her place in this competition as soon as she becomes less inaccessible. Then numerous hotels, catering to American standards, will spring up as a matter of course. At present the food supply in Athens is one of the difficulties, almost everything requiring to be imported from without.
When the railway is completed that shall connect Athens and Constantinople and, by linking the Monastir-Salonica and the Otto-man railways, thus connect Athens with the continental train service, a new era will dawn for Greece. Swift and easy communication and transit are the most potent and important conditions of advanced civilization. All local interests, economic conditions, and domestic and national inter-relations are wholly dependent on these two factors of communication and transit facilities. It is difficult to conceive what the world would be today without the inter-national service of the Atlantic cable; or what the United States would be without the great transcontinental lines that have opened the far West to the advancing tide of population and improvements, and have transformed wilderness and desert into homes and social centers with every facility for prosperity and advancement in knowledge.
The internal commerce of Greece is almost exclusively under the control of private corporations. There are now some eight hundred miles of railroads, owned by private companies. The expense of building them is enormous, because of the difficult engineering problems involved by the continuous mountain systems. The present struggle that now devolves upon Greece is largely in the line of internal improvements. The government has already expended much money and energy on the extension of good roads, on facilities for local and domestic transit, and on the encouragement of agriculture. The great need, or one great need, is for manufactories. These, however, are conditioned upon a supply of water power which, curiously, in so mountainous a country, is very difficult to obtain. To utilize and increase this source of power requires extensive and very expensive engineering.
The Greeks have a national genius for commerce. They succeed best in countries where conditions are advanced, for their intelligence readily allies itself with superior facilities. Greek immigration is both a loss and a gain to their country. On the one hand, if they lose citizens of the better class, such is the intense loyalty of the Greeks to their own land, that if they amass fortunes in other countries which they never could have made in their own country, a large part of this wealth returns in benefactions to Greece. As has been noted in pre-ceding pages, they give a university, an academy of science, a stadium, a national museum, to their beloved Athens. One notable instance of Greek patriotism was the raising of the Lesbian Phalanx, in October of 1912, recruited from the natives of Mitylene, who live in the United States, to aid Greece in her war against the Turks. An eminent Greek, M. Athanassiades, of New York, was the treasurer and one of the chief leaders in this organization of two hundred and ten men, each of whom paid his own expenses, to go to the aid of Greece. They sailed from New York, in October (1912) and were received with acclaim at Athens. They were given a place of honor in the vanguard of the army pursuing the Turks. “All are men of the highest ideals,” said M. Athanassiades of this splendid volunteer service, “they are men of courage and determination.”
Mitylene, from whence these Greeks came to America, was the island of the AEolians, one of the most ancient branches of the Greek race. Lesbos, from which this Lesbian Phalanx took its name, reached a high degree of prosperity and power; and this city is the birthplace of Sappho and Alcæus, of the musicians Anion and Terpander, and of Theophrastus, the pupil and successor of Aristotle.
Thessaly was ceded to Greece in 1878; it now has interior railroad connection, but up to that time all the interior traffic of the country was, practically, carried on by means of the sea. It was only nine years later (in 1869) that the first railroad was constructed in Greece, and until about 189e all transit facilities made but slow and indeterminate progress. The dawn of 1913 saw seven railroad systems in Greece, though only offering in the aggregate about one thousand miles, and these are all due to private enterprise. The administration of six of these railways is in Athens; that of the Thessalian is in Thessaly. The six systems that have their administration in Athens are the Piraeus, Athens, and Peloponnesus; the Hellenic; the North-West line; the Athens-Piraeus; the Attic (Kephissia) ; and the Pyrgos-Katakolo railway. The engineering problems to be surmounted have been very great, and the development of the country traversed by these lines is slow, owing to the isolation due to the physical features of mountainous and unproductive regions. Up to about 1890 brigandage flourished as apparently the chief industry of some of these remote regions, and no police control was possible. Since 1905, especially, the work of railway construction has made rapid progress in Greece, and now, as before stated, there is lacking a space of only one hundred and seventy-five miles to connect Athens with the lines of continental Europe.
It requires a voyage almost as long in duration to reach Athens from Marseilles or Genoa, as from New York to Liverpool. From Trieste to the Piraeus is a voyage of four or more days; and between Brindisi, the nearest European port, and Athens, the time is hardly less than three to four days. In marine development Greece has fortunate conditions. Already the port of the Piraeus ranks third in importance among the ports of Europe, and besides the Piraeus and Patras, Greece has four other important ports. If one has gone to Athens by way of Patras, it is pleasant to vary the return journey by sailing from the Piraeus either to Naples, or up the Adriatic to Brindisi or on to Trieste. The voyage is around Cape Mata-pan, among the Ionian islands, with their silver-blue shadows shimmering above ethereal mountain-peaks, while the scarlet oleander glows amid the aloe and cacti, and the gray-green of olive-trees. These islands seem a fairy-land rising out of a sapphire sea under a sapphire sky; all floating in that “surpassing ether, ” as Euripides termed the transparent air. Although Plato gave the Piraeus a bad reputation, as ” the haunt of sailors where good manners are unknown,” it is a convenient landing-place for Athens, and the view of the mountain ranges, with their magic changes of color, redeems the port.
Athens has been so traditionally the city of a glorious antiquity, the theater of an historic past, that it seems an anomaly to regard her as a city of the future. Yet her outlook is towards progress and not towards retrogression. Her face is turned to the rising, not to the setting sun. The goddess Athena, “the goddess of many thoughts,” still watches from her Holy Hill over Athenian destiny. The law of evolutionary progression is as fixed and unchanging as the law of gravitation. When a country has experienced such tragic vicissitudes as those of Greece, there is, inevitably, a corresponding greatness of significant fulfillment. From the fruition of success in one endeavor springs the energy for greater endeavor. The torch of Greek fire is still carried aloft to be passed on to succeeding centuries, whose life will keep it aflame with ever-renewed devotion. The message of Greece to the modern world can never be misinterpreted. It stands for all that is noblest in development and destiny. As life, both individually and nationally, rises higher, the enormous debt that is owed to Greek culture will become more conspicuously recognized. All that has made the Greek life of the past the supreme expression of mankind is immortal and can never be lost. It is in the lines of Erechtheus that may be read the prophecy, truer than Delphic oracle or poet’s dream, of the Violet-Crowned city, the new Athens of the twentieth century :
“Thine shall be The crown of all songs sung, of all deeds done; Thine that full flower for all time. In thine hand Shall years be as a scepter, and thine head Wear worship for a garland. Not one leaf Shall change, or winter cast thy crown, Till all flowers wither in the world!”