Greece – Olympia And Its Games

THE thousands of visitors, whose ships thronged the bay of Katakolo every four years in the great old times, cannot have been fairly impressed with the beauty of the country at first sight. Most other approaches to the coast of Greece are far more striking. For although, on a clear day, the mountains of Arcadia are plainly visible, and form a fine back-ground to the view, from the great bar of Erymanthus on the north, round to the top of Lykaeon far south-west, the foreground has not, and never had, either the historic interest or the beauty. of the many bays and harbours in other parts of Greece. Yet I am far from asserting that it is actually wanting even in this respect. As we saw the bay in a quiet summer sun-set, with placid water reflecting a sleeping cloud and a few idle sails in its amber glow, with a wide circle of low hills and tufted shore bathed in a golden haze, which spread its curtain of light athwart all the distance, so that the great snowy comb of Erymanthus seemed suspended by some mystery in the higher blue—the view was not indeed very Greek, but still it was beautiful, and no unsuitable dress wherein the land might clothe itself to welcome the traveller, and foretell him its sunny silence and its golden mystery.

The carriage-way along the coast passes by sand-hills, and sandy fields of vines, which were being tilled when we saw them by kindly but squalid peasants, some of whom lived in wretched huts of skins, enclosed with a rough fence. But these were probably only temporary dwellings, for the thrift and diligence of the southern Greek seems hardly compatible with real penury. Mendicancy, except in the case of little children who do it for the nonce, seems unknown in the Morea.

A dusty ride of two hours, relieved now and then for a moment by the intense perfume from the orange blossoms of gardens fenced with mighty aloes, brought us to the noisy and stirring town of Pyrgos We found this town, one of the most thriving in Greece, quite as noisy as Naples in proportion to its size, full of dogs barking, donkeys braying, and various shop-keepers screaming out their wares—especially frequent where young shrill-voiced boys were so employed. Nowhere does the ultra-democratic temper of new Greek social life show itself more manifestly than in these disturbed streets. Not only does every member of human society, however young or ill-disposed, let his voice be heard without reserve, but it seems to be considered an infraction upon liberty to silence yelping dogs, braying donkeys, or any other animal which chooses to disturb its neighbours.

The whole town, like most others in Greece, even in the Arcadian highlands, is full of half-built and just-finished houses, showing a rapid increase of prosperity, or perhaps a return of the population from country life into the towns which have always been so con-genial to the race. But if the latter be the fact, there yet seems no slackening in the agriculture of the country, which in the Morea is strikingly diligent and laborious, reaching up steep hill-sides, and creeping along precipices, winning from ungrateful nature every inch of niggard soil. This is indeed the contrast of northern and southern Greece. In Bœotia the rich plains of Thebes and Orchomenus are often lying fallow, while all the rugged mountains of Arcadia are yielding wine and oil. The Greeks will tell you that it is the result of the security established by their Government in those parts of Greece which are not accessible from the Turkish frontier. They assert that if their present frontier were not at Thermopylæ but at Tempe, or even farther north, the rich plains of northern Greece would not have lain idle through fear of the bandits, which every disturbance excites about the boundaries of ill-guarded kingdoms.

The carriage-road from Pyrgos up to Olympia was just finished, and it is now possible to drive all the way from the sea, but we preferred the old method of travelling on horseback to the terrors of a newly constructed Greek thoroughfare. There is, more-over, in wandering on unpaved thoroughfares, along meadows, through groves and thickets, and across mountains, a charm which no dusty carriage-road can ever afford. We soon came upon the banks of the Alpheus, which we followed as our main index, though at times we were high above it, and at times in the meadows at the waterside ; at times again mounting some wooded ridge which had barred the way of the stream, and forced it to take a wide circuit from our course, or again crossing the deep cuttings made by rivulets which come down from northern Elis to swell the river from mile to mile.

Our path must have been almost the same as was followed by the crowds which came from the west to visit the Olympic games in classical days : they must have ascended along the windings of the river, and as they came upon each new amphitheatre of hills, and each new tributary stream, they may have felt the impatience which we felt that this was not the sacred Altis, and that this was not the famous confluence of the Kladeos. But the season in which they travelled —the beginning of July—can never have shown them the valley in its true beauty. Instead of a glaring dry bed of gravel and meadows parched with heat, we found the Alpheus a broad and rapid river, which we crossed on horseback with difficulty ; we found the meadows green with sprouting corn and bright with flowers, and all along the slopes the trees were bursting into bud and blossom, and filling the air with the rich scent of spring. Huge shrubs of arbutus and mastich closed around the paths, while over them the Judas-tree and the wild pear covered themselves with purple and with white, and on every bank great scarlet anemones opened their wistful eyes in the morning sun.

When we came to the real Olympia the prospect was truly disenchanting. However interesting excavations may be, they are always exceedingly ugly. Instead of grass and flowers, and pure water, we found the classic spot defaced with great mounds of earth, and trodden bare. We found the Kladeos flowing a turbid drain into the larger river. We found hundreds of workmen, and wheelbarrows, and planks, and trenches, instead of solitude and the song of birds. Thus it was that we found the famous temple of Zeus.

This temple was in some respects the most celebrated in Greece, especially on account of the great image of Zeus, which Pheidias himself wrought for it in gold and ivory, and of which Pausanias has left us a very wonderful description (v. i i, sqq.). It was carried away to Constantinople, and of course its precious material precluded all chance of its surviving through centuries of ignorance and bigotry, if it had not been consumed in a fire. The temple itself, to judge from its appearance, was somewhat older than the days of Pheidias, for it is of that thickset and massive type which we only find in the earlier Doric temples, and which rather reminds us of Paestum than of Athenian remains. It was built by a local architect, Libon, and of a very coarse limestone from the neighbourhood, which was covered with stucco, and painted chiefly white, to judge from the fragments which remain. But it seems as if the E leans had done all they could to add splendour to the building, when-ever their funds permitted. The tiles of the roof were not of burnt clay, but of white marble, the well-known and beautiful invention of the Naxian Byzes. Moreover, rivals of Pheidias and a number of his fellow-workers or subordinates at Athens, as well as other artists, had been invited to Olympia, to adorn the temple, and to them we owe the pediments, probably also the metopes, and many of the statues, with which all the sacred enclosure round the edifice was literally thronged. Subsequent generations added to this splendour : a gilded figure of Victory, with a gold shield, was set upon the apex of the gable ; gilded pitchers at the extremities ; gilded shields were fastened all along the architraves by Mummius, from the spoils of Corinth, and the great statue of Zeus within still remained, the wonder and the awe of the ancient world.

But with the fall of paganism and the formal extinction of the Olympic games (394 A.D.) the glories of the temple fell into decay. The great statue in the shrine was carried away ; many of the votive bronzes and marbles which stood about the sacred grove were transported to Italy ; and at last a terrible earthquake, apparently in the fifth century, levelled the whole temple almost with the ground. The action of this extraordinary earthquake is still plainly to be traced in the now uncovered ruins. It upheaved the temple from the centre, throwing the pillars of all the four sides outwards, where most of them lie with their drums separated, but still complete in all parts, and only requiring mechanical power to set them up again. Some preliminary shakes had caused pieces of the pediment sculptures to fall out of their place, for they were found at the foot of the temple steps ; but the main shock threw the remainder to some distance, and I saw the work of Alkamenes being unearthed more than twenty-five yards from its proper site.

In spite of this convulsion, the floor of the temple, with its marble work, and its still more beautiful mosaic, is still there, and it seemed doubtful to the Germans whether there is even a crack now to be found in it. About the ruins there gathered some little population, for many fragments were found built into walls of poor and late construction ; but this work of destruction was fortunately arrested by a sudden overflow of the Alpheus, caused by the bursting of one of the mountain lakes about Pheneus. The river then covered all the little plain of Olympia with a deep layer of fine sand and of mud. A thicket of arbutus and mastich sprang from this fertile soil, and so covered all traces of antiquity, that when Chandler visited the place 150 years ago, nothing but a part of the cella wall was over ground, and this was since removed by neighbouring builders. But the site being certain, it only required the enterprise of modern research to lay bare the old level so fortunately hidden by the interposition of nature. The traveller who now visits Olympia can see the whole plan and contour of the great temple, with all its prostrate pillars lying around it. He can stand on the very spot where once was placed the unrivalled image—the masterpiece of Pheidias’s art. He can see the old mosaic in coloured pebbles, with its exquisite design, which later taste—probably Roman—thought well to cover with a marble pavement. But far above all, he can find in adjoining sheds 1 not only the remains of the famous Niké of Paeonius, which stood on a high pedestal close to the east front, but the greater part of the pediment sculptures, which will henceforth rank among the most important relics of Greek art. These noble compositions have been restored with tolerable completeness, and now stand next to the pediments of the Parthenon in conception and in general design.

For even if the restoration were never accomplished, there is enough in the fragments of the figures already recovered to show the genius of both sculptures, but particularly of Alkamenes, the author of the western pediment. This perfectly agrees with the note of Pausanias, who adds, in mentioning this very work, that Alkamenes was considered in his day an artist second only to Pheidias.

It was objected to me by learned men on the spot, that the eastern pediment, being the proper front of the temple, must have been the more important, and that Pæonius, as we know from an inscription, boasts that he obtained the executing of it by competition, thus proving that he was, at least in this case, preferred to his rivals. But the decided superiority of Alkamenes’s design leads me to suppose that the boast of Pæonius only applies to the eastern pediment, and that probably the western had been already assigned to Alkamenes. Nor do I agree with the view that the eastern pediment must have been artistically the more important. In several Greek temples—e.g. the Parthenon, the temple at Bassae, and in this—the great majority of visitors must have approached it from the rear, which should accordingly have been quite the prominent side for artistic decoration. Let me add that far more action was permitted in the groups on this side, while over the entrance the figures were staid and in repose, as if to harmonise with the awe and silence of the entering worshipper. In any case, the work of Alkamenes is superior to that which remains to us of Pæonius in the eastern pediment, arid in his figure of winged Victory, which was, I think,-greatly overpraised by the critics who saw it soon after its discovery.

The composition of the groups in the pediments and friezes has been described by Pausanias (v. I0,§§ 6-I0) in a passage of great interest, which has given rise to much controversy. The general impression of Drs. Hirschfeld and Weil, when I was at Olympia, was against the accuracy of Pausanias, whom they considered’ to have blindly set down whatever the local cicerones told him. That of Dr. Purgold was in his favour. The traveller says, however, that the eastern pediment, in which, as already remarked, it was not usual to represent violent action, depicted the preparation of the chariot race between Pelops and Oenomaus. In the centre was Zeus, whose torso has been recovered, and at the narrow ends of the field were figures of the Alpheus and Kladeos, to the right and left of the spectator respectively. These figures are partly recovered—graceful young men lying forward on the ground, and raising their heads to witness the contest.

It is worth pausing for a moment upon this disposition, which was so usual as to be almost conventional in the pediments sculptured during the best epochs of Greek art. In the centre, where the field was very high, and admitted a colossal figure, it was usual to place the god whose providence guided the events around him, and this god was represented calm and without excitement. Then came the mythical event grouped on either side ; but at the ends, where the field narrowed to an angle, it was usual to represent the calmness or impassiveness of external nature. This was done in Greek sculpture not by trees and hills, but by the gods who symbolised them. So thoroughly was nature personified in Greek art, that its picturesqueness was altogether postponed to its living conscious sympathy with man, and thus to a Greek the proper representation of the rivers of Olympia was no landscape, but the graceful forms of the river gods—intelligent and human, yet impassive spectators, as nature is wont to be. The very same idea is carried out more characteristically in the pediment of Alkamenes, where, in spite of the violent conflict of Centaurs and Lapithae, the central and extreme figures, as I shall presently notice, are perfectly unmoved witnesses of lawless violence.

The arrangement of the rest of the eastern pediment was evidently quite symmetrical. On Zeus’s right hand was Cenomaus, his wife Sterope, his charioteer Myrtilus sitting before the four horses, and two grooms ; on his left, Pelops, Hippodamia, and a like number of horses and attendants. A good many pieces of these figures have been found, sufficient to tempt several art-critics to make conjectural restorations of the pediment, one of which is now set up, I believe, in the museum at Berlin.

The western pediment, of which more, and more striking, fragments are recovered, is more difficult to restore, because Pausanias is unfortunately not nearly so precise in describing it, and because, moreover, he is suspected of a serious blunder about the central figure. Contrary to the precedent just mentioned, he says that this central figure is Pirithous, whose wife is just being carried off by the Centaurs, and who ought therefore to be in violent excitement. But there had been found, just before we arrived at Olympia, a colossal head, of the noblest conception, which seems certainly to belong to the pediment sculptures, and which must be the head of this central figure. It is perfectly calm and divine in expression, and almost forces upon the spectator the conclusion to which all the best judges lean, that it must be an Apollo, and that this was the central figure, while Pirithous was more actively engaged. There was on each side of this figure a Centaur carrying off, the one a maiden (I suppose the bride) and the other a boy, and Kaeneus and Theseus at each side, coming to the rescue.

But on the other figures Pausanias is silent ; and there were certainly two beautiful mountain or river nymphs at the extremities—lying figures, with the peculiar head-dress of a thick bandage wrapped all round the hair—which are among the most perfect of the figures recovered. It seems also certain that Pirithous must have been somewhere on the pediment; and this would suggest a figure to correspond to him at the other side, for these groups were always symmetrical. In this case Pausanias has omitted four figures at least in his description, and seems besides to have mistaken the largest and most important of all. The Germans cite in proof of these strictures his passing remark on the metopes, representing the labours of Herakles, on one of which was (he says) Herakles about to relieve Atlas, whereas this slab, which has been found, really represents Herakles carrying the globe, and one of the Hesperidae assisting him, while Atlas is bringing him the apple.

This criticism will seem to most ordinary people too minute, and I am rather disposed to think well of Pausanias as an intelligent traveller, though he made some mistakes.

But since the above words were written, sufficient time has elapsed not only to bring the excavations to an end, but to study more carefully the recovered fragments, and offer a calmer judgment as to their merits. On the whole, the strong feeling of the best critics has been one of disappointment. The design of both pediments still seems to me masterly, especially that of Alkamenes, but there can be no doubt that the execution is far below that of the Parthenon marbles. There are some positive faults—inability to reproduce drapery (while the nude parts are very true to nature), and great want of care in other details. It must be urged in answer that the pediments were meant to be seen about forty feet from the ground, and that the painting of the figures must have brought out the features of the drapery neglected in the carving. However true this may be, we can answer at once that the workmen of Pheidias did not produce this kind of work. The first quality of the Attic school was that conscientiousness in detail which meets us in every great age of art.

So serious have these difficulties appeared to some, that they have actually suspected Pausanias of being misled, and having falsely attributed the work of obscure local artists to Alkamenes, and perhaps also falsely to Pæonius. They say that nothing is more common with vulgar cicerones than to attribute to a great master any old work of uncertain origin. Others, who will not proceed to such extremes, hold that only the general design was made by the two sculptors, and its execution handed over to local artists. This may probably have been the case. But I am disposed to infer from the overpraised Nike, which certainly is the work of Pæonius, that he was not an artist of the quality of the great Attic school. The whole external work of the temple seems to represent a stage rather ‘earlier and ruder than the school of Pheidias. This is eminently the case with the metopes, which can hardly be later in date than 460 B.C., or pre-Pheidian in time.

Very different is the impression produced by the greatest and most priceless gem of all the treasures at Olympia—the Hermes of Praxiteles, which was actually found on the very spot where it was seen and described by Pausanias, fallen among the ruins of the temple which originally protected it. This exquisite figure, smaller than life size, represents the god Hermes holding the infant Dionysus on one arm, and showing the child some object now lost. The right arm and the legs from below the knees are gone ; the right foot with its sandal, an exquisite piece of work with traces of gold and red, has been recovered. It is remarkable that the back of the statue is unfinished, and the child treated rather as a doll than a human infant ; the main figure, however, now widely known through copies, is the most perfect remnant of Greek art. The temple in which the statue was found, the venerable Hereon, is the most interesting of all the Olympian buildings in its plan, and has solved for us many problems in Greek architecture. The acute researches of Dr. Dörpfeld have shown that the walls were not of stone, but of sun-dried bricks, and that the surrounding pillars had gradually replaced older wooden supports, one of which was still there when Pausanias saw the building. The successive stone pillars and their capitals were of the same order, Doric, but varied in measurements and profile according to the taste of the day. So this ancient building showed, like our English cathedrals, the work of successive centuries in its restoration. The roof and architrave were evidently of wood, for all trace of these members has vanished ; but we learn from remains of the old ‘treasuries’ described by Pausanias that in very old times wood and mud bricks were faced with coloured terra-cotta, moulded to the required form, and that this ornament was still used after stone had replaced bricks and mud as the material of the walls and architrave. These curious details, and many others, have been the main result of the architectural inquiries made by the Germans into the archaic buildings at Olympia ; but it would be tedious to the reader were I to discuss technical details. He will find them all put with great clearness, and indeed with elegance, in Bötticher’s Olympia. The complete results of the excavations are to be found in the official work on the explorations issued by the German Government.

Unfortunately there only remains one very realistic head of a boxer from a large class of monuments at Olympia, that of the portrait statues of victors at the games, of which one was even attributed to Pheidias, and several to Alkamenes, in Pausanias’s time. All these were votive statues, set up by victors at the games, or victors in war, and in the early times were not portraits strictly speaking, but ideal figures. Later on they became more realistic, and were made in the likeness of the offerer, a privilege said at one time only to have been accorded to those who had won thrice at Olympia.

The commemoration of gymnastic victories by these statues seems to have completely supplanted the older fashion of triumphal odes, which in Pindar’s day were so prized, and so dearly bought from lyric poets. When these odes first came to be composed, sculpture was still struggling with the difficulties of human expression, and there was no one who would not feel the great artistic superiority of Pindar’s verse to the cold stiffness of the archaic reliefs of the same epoch, which attempt portraiture. The figure of Aristion by Aristokles, the similar relief by Anxenor the Naxian, and the relief of the discus-thrower, are sufficient examples of what sculptured portraits were in comparison with the rich music of Simonides and Pindar. But while lyric poetry passed into the higher service of tragedy, or degenerated into the extravagance of the later dithyramb, sculpture grew into such exquisite perfection, and was of its very nature so enduring and manifest, that the Olympic victor chose it as the surest avenue to immortal fame. And so it was up to Pausanias’s day, when every traveller could study the records of the games at Olympia, or even admire the most perfect of the statues in the palaces of Roman Emperors, whither they had been transferred.

But the day came when the poets were avenged upon the sculptors. Olympia sank under general decay and sudden catastrophe. Earthquakes and barbarians ravaged its treasury, and while Pindar was being preserved in manuscript, until his resurrection in the days of printing, the invasion of the Kladeos saved the scanty remains in the Altis from destruction only by covering them with oblivion. Now, in the day of its resurrection, pedestal after pedestal with its votive inscription has been unearthed, but, except the Nike of Pæonius, no actual votive statue has been recovered.

The river Alpheus, which has done such excellent work in its inundations, does not confine itself to concealing antiquities, but sometimes discovers them. Its rapid course eats away the alluvial bank which the waters have deposited ages ago, and thus encroaches upon old tombs, from which various relics are washed down in its turbid stream. The famous helmet dedicated by Hiero, son of Deinomenes, was discovered in the river in this way; and there is also in the Ministry of Public Instruction a large circular band of bronze, riveted together where the ends meet, with very archaic zigzag and linear patterns, which was found in the same way some twenty years ago, and which seems to me of great interest, as exhibiting a kind of workmanship akin to the decorations in the Schliemann treasure of Mycenae. There is also a rude red earthen pot in the Turkish house on the Acropolis at Athens, which is decorated with the same kind of lines. It is very important to point out these resemblances to travellers, for there is such endless detail in Greek antiquities, and so little has yet been classified, that every observation may be of use to future students, even though it may merely serve as a hint for closer research.

The stadium and hippodrome, which lie farther away from the river, and right under the conical hill called Kronion, have not yet, I believe, been completely investigated ; but they may no doubt offer us some new and interesting evidences on the management of the famous Olympian games.

These games were not at all what most people imagine them to be. I will therefore delay the reader with some details concerning this most interesting side of old Greek life.

The establishment of games at Olympia was assigned by the poets to mythical ages, and not only is there a book of the Iliad devoted to funeral games, but in Pindar’s eleventh Olympic Ode this particular establishment is made coeval with the labours of Herakles. Whether such evidence is indeed conclusive may fairly be doubted. The twenty-third book of the Iliad, which shows traces of being a later portion of the poem, describes contests widely differing from those at Olympia, and the mythical founders enumerated by Pausanias (v. 7) are so various and inconsistent that we can see how obscure the question appeared to Greek archaeologists, even did we not find at the end of the enumeration the following significant hint:—’ But after Oxylus—for Oxylus, too, established the contest—after his reign it fell out of use till the Olympiad of Iphitus’ (that is to say, till the first 01., which is dated 776 B.C.), Oxylus being the companion of the Herakleidae:, who obtained Ells for his portion. Pausanias adds that when Iphitus renewed the contest, men had forgotten the old arrangements, and only gradually came to remember them, and whenever they recollected any special competition they added it to the games. This is the excellent man’s theory to account for the gradual addition of long races, of wrestling, discus-throwing, boxing, and chariot-racing, to the original sprint race of about 200 yards, which was at first the only known competition.

The facts seem to me rather to point to the late growth of games in Greece, which may possibly have begun as a local feast at Olympia in the eighth century, but which only rose to importance during the reign of the despots throughout Greece, when the aristocrats were prevented from murdering one another, and compelled to adopt more peaceful pursuits .l It was in the end of the seventh and opening of the sixth centuries that the Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian games show by their successive establishment the rapid spread of the fashion, and a vast number of local contests diffused through every district in Greece the taste and the training for such competitions? These games lasted all through classical Greek history—the Olympian even down to later times, for they were not abolished till nearly 1200 years (01. 294) had elapsed since their alleged foundation. But the day of their real greatness was gone long before. Cicero indignantly repudiates the report that he had gone to see such games,, just as a pious earl, within our memory, repudiated the report that he had attended the prize-fight between Sayers and Heenan. The good generals of earlier centuries, such as Alexander the Great and Philopœmen, set their faces against athletics as training for soldiers. Nay, still earlier, the Spartans, though they could contend with success in the pentathlon, when they chose, did not countenance the fiercer competitions, as engendering ill-feeling between rivals, and, what was worse, compelling a man to declare himself vanquished, and feel disgraced. The Athenians also, as soon as the sophists reformed education, began to rate intellectual wrestling higher than any bodily exercise. Thus the supremacy of Athens and Sparta over the other Greek cities in the fifth century marked, in my opinion, the real turning-point in the Greek estimate of athletics, and the fact that the great odes of Pindar sing the glories of no Spartan, and only twice, very briefly, those of Athenians, seems to indicate that even then men began to think of more serious rivalries and more exciting spectacles than the festive meetings at Olympia. In the very next generation the poets had drifted away from them, and Euripides despises rather than admires them. The historians take little notice of them.

Two circumstances only tended strongly to keep them up. In the first place, musical competitions (which had always been a part of the Pythian) and poetical rivalries were added to the sports, which were also made the occasion of mercantile business, of social meetings, and not seldom of political agitation. The wise responses of the Delphic oracle were not a little indebted to the information gathered from all parts of the Hellenic world at the games, some important celebration of which, whether at Nemea, the Isthmus, or the greater meetings, occurred every year.

Secondly, if the art of poetry soon devoted itself to the higher objects of tragedy, and created for itself the conflict which it celebrated, the art of sculpture became so closely connected with athletics as to give them an aesthetic importance of the highest kind all through Greek history. The ancient habit of setting up ideal statues of victors, which were made special likenesses if the subject was specially distinguished, supplied the Greeks with a series of historical monuments and a series of physical types not elsewhere to be matched, and thus perhaps the most interesting part of Pausanias’s invaluable guide-book to Greece is his collection of notes (lib. vi. 1-20) on various statues set up in this way at Olympia, of which he mentions about two hundred, though he only professes to make a selection, and though several of the finest had already been carried off by Roman emperors.

These things kept alive the athletic meetings in Greece, and even preserved for them some celebrity. The sacred truce proclaimed during the national games was of inestimable convenience in times of long and bitter hostilities, and doubtless enabled friends to meet who had else been separated for life.’ But the Panathenaic festivals were better exponents of fourth-century taste in Greece. There music and the drama predominated. Professional displays became equally admired as a pastime and despised as a profession ; and I have no doubt that the athlete who spent his life going about from one contest to another in search of gymnastic triumphs was held in like contempt by Brasidas and by Cleon, by Xenophon and by Agesilaus.

In the days of Solon things had been very different. He appointed a reward of 500 drachmas, then a very large sum, for victors at Olympia, 100 for those at the Isthmus, and for the others in proportion. Pindar sings as if, to the aristocrats of Aegina, or the tyrants of Sicily, no higher earthly prizes were attainable. But we must not transfer these evidences—the habit or the echo of the sixth century B.C.—to the days of political and educated Greece, when public opinion altered very considerably on the advantage and value of physical competition. This being once understood, I will proceed to a short analysis of the sports, and will attempt to criticise the methods adopted by the old Greeks to obtain the highest physical condition, the nature of the competitions they established, and the results which they appear to have attained.

The Greeks of Europe seem always to have been aware that physical exercise was of the greatest importance for health, and consequently for mental vigour, and the earliest notices we have of education include careful bodily training. Apart from the games of children, which were much the same as ours, there was not only orchestic or rhythmical dancing in graceful figures, in which girls took part, and which corresponded to what are now vulgarly called callisthenics, but also gymnastics, in which boys were trained to those exercises which they afterwards practised as men. In addition to the palæstras, which were kept for the benefit of boys as a matter of private speculation in Athens, and probably in other towns, regular gymnasia were established by the civic authorities, and put under strict supervision, as state institutions, to prevent either idleness or immorality .l In these gymnasia, where young men came in the afternoon, stripped, oiled themselves, and then got a coat of dust or fine sand over the skin, running, wrestling, boxing, jumping, and throwing with the dart were commonly practised.

This sort of physical training I conceive to have grown up with the growth of towns, and with the abandonment of hunting and marauding, owing to the increase of culture. Among the aristocrats of epical days, as well as among the Spartans, who lived a village life, surrounded by forest and mountain, I presume field-sports must have been quite the leading amusement ; nor ought competitions in a gymnasium to be compared for one moment to this far better and more varied recreation. The contrast still subsists among us, and our fox-hunting, salmon-fishing, grouse-shooting country gentleman has the same inestimable advantage over the city athlete, whose special training for a particular event has a tendency to lower him into a professional. There is even a danger of some fine exercises, which seemed common ground for both, such as boating and cricket, being vulgarised by the invasion of this professional spirit, which implies such attention to the body as to exclude higher pursuits, and which rewards special victories by public applause rather than by the intrinsic pleasure of sport for its own sake. Thus the Spartans not only objected to boxing and the pankration, in which the defeated competitor might have to ask for mercy ; they even for general purposes preferred field-sports, for which they had ample opportunities, to any special competitions – in the strength of particular muscles. But in such places as Athens and its neighbourhood, where close cultivation had caused all wild country and all game to disappear, it was necessary to supply the place of country sport by the training of the gymnasium. This sort of exercise naturally led to contests, so that for our purpose we need not separate gymnastic and agonistic, but may use the details pre-served about the latter to tell us how the Greeks practised the former.

There is no doubt that the pursuit of high muscular condition was early associated with that of health, and that hygiene and physical training were soon dis-covered to be closely allied. Thus Herodicus, a trainer, who was also an invalid, was said to have discovered from his own case the method of treating disease by careful diet and regimen, and to have thus contributed to the advancement of Greek medicine. Pausanias also mentions (vi. 3. 9) the case of a certain Hysmon, an Elean, who, when a boy, had rheumatism in his limbs, and on this account practised for the pentathlon, that he might become a healthy and sound man. His training made him not only sound, but a celebrated victor.

It would be very interesting to know in detail what rules the Greeks prescribed for this purpose. Pausanias tells us (vi. 7. 9) that a certain Dromeus (a curiously apposite name), who won ten victories in long races at various games (about 01. 74, 485 B.C.), was the first who thought of eating meat in his training, for that up to that time the diet of athletics had been cheese from wicker baskets. It must be remembered that meat diet was not common among the Greeks, who, like most southern people, lived rather upon fish, fruit, and vegetables, so that the meat dinners of Bœotia were censured as heavy and rather disgusting. However, the discovery of Dromeus was adopted by Greek athletes ever after, and we hear of their compulsory meals of large quantities of meat, and their consequent sleepiness and sluggishness in ordinary life, in such a way as to make us believe that the Greeks had missed the real secret of training, and actually thought that the more strong nutriment a man could take, the stronger he would become. The quantity eaten by athletes is universally spoken of as far exceeding the quantity eaten by ordinary men, not to speak of its heavier quality.

The suspicion that, in consequence, Greek athletic performances were not in speed greater than, if even equal to, our own is, however, hard to verify, as we are without any information as to the time in which their running feats were performed. They had no watches, or nice measures of short moments of time, and always ran races merely to see who would win, not to see in how short a time a given distance could be done. Nevertheless, as the course was over soft sand, and as the vases picture them rushing along in spread-eagle fashion, with their arms like the sails of a windmill—in order to aid the motion of their bodies, as the Germans explain (after Philostratus)—nay, as we even hear of their having started shouting, if we can believe such a thing, their time performances in running must have been decidedly poor.

In the Olympic games the running, which had originally been the only competition, always came first. The distance was once up the course, and seems to have been about zoo yards. After the year 720 B.C. (?) races of double the course, and long races of about 3000 yards were added ;1 races in armour were a later addition, and came at the end of the sports. It is remarkable that among all these varieties hurdle races were unknown, though the long jump was assigned a special place, and thought very important. We have several extraordinary anecdotes of endurance in running long journeys cited throughout Greek history, and even now the modern inhabitants are remarkable for this quality. I have seen a young man keep up with a horse ridden at a good pace across rough country for many miles, and have been told that the Greek postmen are quite wonderful for their speed and lasting. But this is compatible with very poor performances at prize meetings.

There were short races for boys at Olympia of half the course. Eighteen years was beyond the limit of age for competing, as a story in Pausanias implies, and a boy who won at the age of twelve was thought wonderfully young. The same authority tells us of a man who won the sprint race at four successive meetings, thus keeping up his pace for sixteen years—a remarkable case. There seems to have been no second prize in any of the historical games, a natural consequence of the abolition of material rewards. There was, naturally, a good deal of chance in the course of the contest, and Pausanias evidently knew cases where the winner was not the best man. For example, the races were run in heats of four, and if there was an odd man over, the owner of the last lot drawn could sit `down till the winners of the heats were declared, and then run against them without any previous fatigue. The limitation of each heat to four competitors arose, I fancy, from their not wearing colours (or even clothes), and so not being easily distinguish-able. They were accordingly walked into the arena through an underground passage in the raised side of the stadium, and the name and country of each pro-claimed in order by a herald. This practice is accurately copied in the present Olympic games held at Athens.

The next event was the wrestling match, which is out of fashion at our prize meetings, though still a favourite sport in many country districts. There is a very ample terminology for the various tricks and devices in this contest, and they have been explained with much absurdity by scholiasts, both ancient and modern. It seems that it was not always enough to throw your adversary, but that an important part of the sport was the getting uppermost on the ground ; and in no case was a man declared beaten till he was thrown three times, and was actually laid on his back. It is not worth while enumerating the various technical terms, but it may be observed that a good deal of what we should call foul play was tolerated. There was no kicking, such as there used to be in wrestling matches in Ireland, because there were no boots, but Pausanias mentions (vi. 4. 3) a man who did not know how to wrestle, but defeated his opponents by breaking their fingers. We shall return to this point when speaking of the pankration.

When the wrestling was over there followed the throwing of the discus and the dart, and the long leap, but in what order is uncertain ; for I cannot accept as evidence the pentameter line of Simonides, which enumerates the games of the pentathlon, seeing that it would be impossible to vary them from the order he gives without great metrical difficulties. Our only safe guide is, I think, the alleged date of the origin of each kind of competition, as it was plainly the habit of the Greeks to place the new event next after those already established. The sole exception to this is in the establishing of contests for boys, which seem always to have come immediately before the corresponding competition for men. But we are only told that both wrestling and the contest of five events (pentathlon) dated from the 18th 01. (710 B.C.), and are not informed in what order each was appointed.

The discus-throwing was mainly to test distance, but the dart-throwing to strike a mark. The discus was either of stone or of metal, and was very heavy. I infer from the attitude of Myron’s discobolus, as seen in extant copies, that it was hurled standing, without any preliminary run. This contest is to be compared with our hammer-throwing, or putting of weights. We are, however, without any accurate information either as to the average weight of the discus, or the average distance which a good man could throw it. There is, indeed, one ancient specimen extant, which was found at Aegina, and is now preserved among the bronze antiquities at Munich. It is about eight inches in diameter, and something under four pounds in weight. But there seem to have been three sizes of discus, according as they were intended for boys, for grown youths, or for men, and it is not certain to which class this discus belongs. Philostratus mentions 100 cubits as a fine throw, but in such a way as to make it doubtful whether he is not talking at random, and in round numbers. Similarly, we have no details concerning the javelin contest. But I suspect that here, if anywhere, the Greeks could do what we cannot ; for even the savages of today, who use spears, can throw them with a force and accuracy which is to us quite surprising. It is reported by trustworthy travellers that a Kaffir who comes suddenly on game will put a spear right into an antelope at ten or twelve yards’ distance by an underhand chuck, without taking time to raise his arm. This is beyond the ability of any English athlete, however trained.

The question of the long jump is more interesting, as it still forms a part of our contests. It is unlikely that the old Greeks practised the running jump or the high jump, for we never hear of a preliminary start, or of any difficulty about ‘ breaking trig,’ as people now call it. Furthermore, an extant epigram on a celebrated athlete, Phayllus of Kroton, asserts that he jumped clean over the prepared ground (which was broken with a spade) on to the hard ground beyond a distance of forty-nine feet. We cannot, of course, though some German professors believe it, credit this feat, if it were any single long jump, yet we can find no trace of anything like a hop, step, and jump, so that it seems wonderful how such an absurdity should be gravely repeated in an epigram. But the exploit became proverbial, and to leap (beyond the digging) was a constantly repeated phrase.

The length of Phayllus’s leap is even more incredible if the competition was in a standing jump, and yet the figures of athletes on vases strongly favour this sup-position. They are represented not as running, but as standing and swinging the dumb-bells or (jumpers), which were always used by the older Greeks, as assisting them materially in increasing their distance. I can imagine this being the case in a standing jump where a man rose with the forward swing of the weights, but in a running jump the carrying of the weights must surely impede rather than assist him. Irish peasants, who take off’ very heavy boots to jump, often carry one in each hand, and throw them back-ward violently as they rise from the ground ; but this principle is not admitted, so far as I know, by any scientific authority, as of the slightest assistance.

We hear of no vaulting or jumping with a pole, so that in fact the leap seems an isolated contest, and of little interest except as determining one of the events of the pentathlon, in which a man must win three in order to be declared victor. This pentathlon, as comprising gentlemanly exercise without much brutality, was especially patronised by the Spartans. It was attempted for boys, but immediately abandoned, the strain being thought excessive for their health.

There remain the two severest and most objection-able sports—boxing and the pankration. The former came first (01. 23), the other test of strength not being admitted till 01. 33 (650 B.C.). But one special occasion is mentioned when a champion, who was competing in both, persuaded the judges to change the order, that he might not have to contend against a specially famous antagonist when already wounded and bruised. For boxing was, even from Homeric times, a very dangerous and bloody amusement, in which the vanquished were always severely punished. The Greeks were not content with naked fists, but always used a special apparatus, which consisted at first of a weight carried in the hand, and fastened by thongs of hide round the hand and wrist. But this ancient cestus came to be called the gentle kind when a later and more brutal invention introduced ‘sharp thongs on the wrist,’ and probably increased the weight of the instrument. The successful boxer in the Iliad (Epeius) confesses that he is a bad warrior, though he is the acknowledged champion in his own line ; evidently this sport was not highly esteemed in epic days. In historical times it seems to have been more favoured. There was no doubt a great deal of skill required for it, but I think the body of the evidence goes to prove that the Greeks did not box on sound principles, and that any prominent member of the P.R. with his naked fists would have easily settled any armed champion of Olympian fame.

Here are my reasons. The principle of increasing the weight of the fist as much as possible is only to be explained by the habit of dealing swinging or downward strokes, and is in-compatible with the true method of striking straight home quickly, and giving weight to the stroke by sending the whole body with it. In Vergil’s description a boxer is even described getting up on tip-toe to strike his adversary on the top of the head — a ridiculous manœuvre, which must make his instant ruin certain, if his opponent knew the first elements of the art. That this downward stroke was used appears also from the anecdote in Pausanias, where a father seeing his son, who was ploughing, drive in the share which had fallen out with strokes of his fist, without a hammer, immediately entered him for the boys’ boxing match at Olympia. The lad got roughly handled from want of skill, and seemed likely to lose, when the father called out : ‘ Boy ! give him the plough stroke !’and so encouraged him, that he forthwith knocked his adversary out of time.

It is almost conclusive as to the swinging stroke that throughout antiquity a boxer was not known as a man with his nose broken, but as a man with his ears crushed. Vergil even speaks of their receiving blows on the back. Against all this there are only two pieces of evidence—one of them incredible—in favour of the straight home stroke. In the fight between Pollux and Amykos, described by Theocritus (Idyll 22), Pollux strikes his man on the left temple, which may mean, and follows up the stroke from the shoulder.’ But this is doubtful. The other is the story of Pausanias (viii. 40. 3), that when Kreugas and Damoxenos boxed till evening, and neither could hit the other, they at last agreed to receive stroke about, and after Kreugas had dealt Damoxenos one on the head, the latter told him to hold up his hand, and then drove his fingers right into Kreugas, beneath the ribs, and pulled out his entrails. Kreugas of course died on the spot, but was crowned as victor, on the ground that Damoxenos had broken his agreement of striking one blow in turn, by striking him with five separate fingers ! ‘This curious decision was only one of many in which a boxing competitor was disqualified for having fought with the intention of maiming his antagonist.

Little need be added about the pankration, which combined boxing and wrestling, and permitted every sort of physical violence except biting. In this contest a mere fall did not end the affair, as might happen in wrestling ; the conflict was continued on the ground, and often ended in one of the combatants being actually choked, or having his fingers and toes broken. One man, Arrachion, at the last gasp, broke his adversary’s toe, and made him give in, at the moment he was himself dying of strangulation. Such contests were not to the credit either of the humanity or of the good taste of the Greeks, and would not be tolerated even in the lowest of our prize rings.

I will conclude this sketch by giving some account of the general management of the prize meetings.

There was no want of excitement and of circumstance about them. In the case of the four great meetings there was even a public truce proclaimed, and the competitors and visitors were guaranteed a safe journey to visit them and to return to their homes. The umpires at the Olympic games were chosen ten months before at Elis, and seem to have numbered one for each clan, varying through Greek history from two to twelve, but finally fixed at ten. They were called both here and at the other great games, judges of the Hellenes, in recognition of their national character. Three super-intended the pentathlon, three the horse races, and the rest the other games. They had to reside together in a public building, and undergo strict training in all the details of their business, in which they were assisted by heralds, trumpeters, stewards, etc. Their office was considered of much dignity and importance.

When the great day came, they sat in purple robes in the semicircular end of the racecourse—a piece of splendour which the modern Greeks imitate by dressing the judges of the new Olympic games in full evening dress and white kid gloves. The effect even now with neatly clothed candidates is striking enough; what must it have been when a row of judges in purple looked on solemnly at a pair of men dressed in oil and dust—i.e. in mud—wrestling or rolling upon the ground ? The crowd cheered and shouted as it now does. Pausanias mentions a number of cases where competitors were disqualified for unfairness, and in most of them the man’s city took up the quarrel, which became quite a public matter ; but at the games the decision was final, nor do we hear of a case where it was afterwards reversed? They were also obliged to exact beforehand from each candidate an oath that he was of pure Hellenic parentage, that he had not taken, or would not take, any unfair advantage, and that he had spent ten months in strict training. This last rule I do not believe. It is absurd in itself, and is contradicted by such anecdotes as- that of the sturdy plough-boy quoted above, and still more directly by the remark of Philostratus (Gymn. 38), who ridicules any inquiry into the morals or training of an athlete by the judges. Its only meaning could have been to exclude random candidates, if the number was excessive, and in later times some such regulation may have subsisted, but I do not accept it for the good classical days. There is the case of a boy being rejected for looking too young and weak, and winning in the next Olympiad among the men. But in another instance the competitor disqualified (for unfairness) went mad with disappointment. Aristotle notes that it was the rarest possible occurrence for a boy champion to turn out successful among the full-grown athletes, but Pausanias seems to contradict him, a fair number of cases being cited among the selection which he makes.

There is yet one unpleasant feature to be noted, which has disappeared from our sports. Several allusions make it plain that the vanquished, even vanquished boys, were regarded as fit subjects for jibe and ridicule, and that they sneaked home by lanes and backways. When the most ideal account which we have of the games gives us this information, we cannot hesitate to accept it as probably a prominent feature, which is, moreover, thoroughly consistent with the character of the old Greeks as I conceive it?

The general conclusion to which all these details lead us is this, that with all the care and with all the pomp expended on Greek athletic meetings, despite the exaggerated fame attained by victors, and the solid rewards both of money and of privileges accorded them by their grateful country, the results attained seem to have been inferior to those of English athletes. There was, moreover, an element of brutality in them, which is very shocking to modern notions : and not all the ideal splendour of Pindar’s praises, or of Pythagoras’s art, can raise the Greek pankratiast as an athlete above the level of a modern prize-fighter. But, nevertheless, by the aid of their monumental statues, their splendid lyric poetry, and the many literary and musical contests which were combined with gymnastic, the Greeks contrived, as usual, to raise very common things into a great national manifestation of culture which we cannot hope to equal.

For common they were, and very human, in the strictest sense. Dry-as-dust scholars would have us believe that the odes of Pindar give a complete picture of these games ; as if all the booths about the course had not been filled with idlers, pleasure-mongers, and the scum of Greek society ! Tumbling, thimble-rigging, and fortune-telling, along with love-making and trading, made Olympia a scene not unlike the Derby. When the drinking parties of young men began in the evening, there may even have been a soupcon of Donnybrook Fair about it, but that the committee of management were probably strict in their discipline. From the Isthmian games the successful athletes, with their training over, retired, as most athletes do, to the relaxation afforded by city amusements. One can imagine how amply Corinth provided for the outburst of liberty after the long and arduous subjection to physical training.

But all these things are perhaps justly forgotten, and it is ungrateful to revive them from oblivion. The dust and dross of human conflict, the blood and the gall, the pain and the revenge—all this was laid aside like the athlete’s dress, and could not hide the glory of his naked strength and his iron endurance. The idleness and vanity of human admiration have vanished with the motley crowd, and have left us free to study the deeper beauty of human vigour with the sculptor, and the spiritual secrets of its origin with the poet. Thus Greek gymnastic, with all its defects—perhaps even with its absurdities—has done what has never been even the dream of its modern sister : it stimulated the greatest artists and the highest intellects, and through them ennobled and purified public taste and public morals.

When we left Olympia, and began to ascend the course of the Alpheus, the valley narrowed to the broad bed of the stream. The way leads now along the shady slopes high over the river, now down in the sandy flats left bare in the summer season. There are curious zones of vegetation distinctly marked along the course of the valley. On the river bank, and in the little islands formed by the stream, are laurels, myrtles, and great plane-trees. On the steep and rocky slopes are thick coverts of mastich, arbutus, dwarf-holly, and other evergreens which love to clasp the rocks with their roots ; and they are all knit together by great creeping plants, the wild vine, the convolvulus, and many that are new and nameless to the northern stranger. On the heights, rearing their great tops against the sky, are huge pinetrees, isolated and still tattered with the winter storms.

Travellers going from Olympia northward either go round by train through Elis to Patras—a journey of some hours—or by Kalavryta to Megaspilion, and thence to Vostitza, thus avoiding the great Alps of Olonos (as Erymanthus is now called) and Chelmos, which are among the highest and most picturesque in Greece. After my last visit to Olympia (1884) I was so tantalised by the perpetual view of the snowy crest of Olonos, that I determined to attempt a new route, not known to any of the guide-books, and cross over the mountain, as directly as I could, from Olympia to Patras. It was easy for me to carry out this plan, being accompanied by an ardent Greek antiquary, M. Castriotis, and by Dr. Purgold from Olympia, who had travelled through most of Greece, but was as anxious as I was to try this new route.

So we started on a beautiful spring morning, up the valley of the Kladeos, with all the trees bursting into leaf and blossom, and the birds singing their hymns of delight. The way was wooded, and led up through narrow and steep, but not difficult glens, until, on a far higher level, we came in three or four hours to the village of Lala, once an important Turkish fort. Here was a higher plain, from which we began to see the plan of that vast complex of mountains which form the boundaries of the Old Elise Achaia, and Arcadia, and which have so often been the scenes of difficult campaigns. From Lala, where we breakfasted, we crossed a sudden deep valley, and found ourselves, on regaining the higher level, in a vast oak forest, unlike anything I had yet seen in Greece. The trees had been undisturbed for centuries, and the forest is even avoided in summer by the natives, on account of the many poisonous snakes which hide in the deep layers of dead leaves. In that high country the oaks were just turning pink with their new buds, and not a green leaf was to be seen, so we could trust to the winter sleep of the snakes, while we turned aside again and again from our path, to the great perplexity of the muleteers, to dig up wood anemones of all colours, pale blue, pink, deep crimson, scarlet, snowy-white, which showed brilliantly on the brown oakleaf carpet.

We spent at least two hours in riding through this forest, and then we rose higher and higher, passing along the upper edge of deep glens, with rushing streams far beneath us. The most beautiful point was one from which we looked down a vast straight chasm of some fifteen miles, almost as deep as a canon, with the silvery Erymanthus river pursuing its furious course so directly as to be clearly visible all the way. But ascending the river from this point, where its course comes suddenly round a corner, the upper country was no longer wooded but bleak, like most of the Alpine Arcadia, a country of dire winters and great hardship to the population, who till an unwilling soil on the steep slopes of giant precipices.

We were much tempted to turn up another tortuous glen to the hidden nest of Divri, where the Greeks found refuge from Turkish persecution in the great war—a place so concealed, and so difficult of access, that an armed force has never penetrated there. But the uncertainties of our route were too many to admit of these episodes, so we hurried on to reach the Khan of Tripotamo in the evening—a resting-place which suggested to us strongly the inn where S. John is reported to have slept in the apocryphal Acts of his life. Being very tired with preaching and travelling, he found it so impossible to share the room with the bugs, that he besought them in touching language to allow him to sleep ; practically, in virtue of his apostolic authority, he ordered them out of the house. They all obeyed, but when in the morning the apostle and his companions found them waiting patiently outside the door, he was so moved by their consideration for him, that he permitted them to return and infest the house.

Nor were the bugs perhaps the worst. Being wakened by a crunching noise in the night, I perceived that a party of cats had come in to finish our supper for us, and when startled by a flying boot, they made our beds and bodies the stepping-stones for a leap to the rafters, and out through a large hole in the roof. By and by I was aroused by the splashing of cold water on my face, and found that a heavy shower had come on, and was pouring through the cats’ passage. So I put up my umbrella in bed till the shower was over—the only time I felt rain during the whole of that voyage. I notice that Miss Agnes Smith, who travelled through these parts in May also, and had very similar experiences at Tripotamo, was wet through almost every day. We did not see more than two showers, and were moreover so fortunate as to have perfectly calm days, whenever we were crossing high passes, though in general the breeze was so strong as to be almost stormy in the valleys.

Next morning we followed the river up to the neighbouring site of Psophis, so picturesquely described by Polybius in his account of Philip V.’s campaigns in Elis and Triphylia. This town, regarded as the frontier-town of Elis, Arcadia, and Achaia, would well repay an enterprising excavator. The description of Polybius can be verified without difficulty, and ruins are still visible. We found out from a solitary traveller that our way ‘turned to the north, up one of the affluents of the Erymanthus, and so we ascended in company with this worthy man to a village (Lechouri) under the highest precipices of Olonos. He was full of the curiosity of a Greek peasant—Who were we, where did we come from, were we married, had we children, how many, what was our income, was it from land, was it paid by the State, could we be dismissed by the Government, were we going to write about Greece, what would we say, etc. etc. ? Such was the conversation to which we submitted for the sake of his guidance. But at last it seemed as if our way was actually at an end, and we had come into an impassable cul-de-sac. Perpendicular walls of rock surrounded us on all sides except where we had entered by constantly fording the stream, or skirting along its edge. Was it possible that the curiosity of our fellow-traveller had betrayed him into leading us up this valley to the village whither he himself was bound ? We sought anxiously for the answer, when he showed us a narrow strip of dark pine-trees coming down from above, in form like a little torrent, and so reaching with a narrow thread of green to the head of the valley. This was our pass, the pine-trees with their roots and stems made a zigzag path up the almost perpendicular wall possible, and so we wended our way up with infinite turnings, walking or rather climbing for safety’s sake, and to rest the labouring mules. Often as I had before attempted steep ascents with horses in Greece, I never saw anything so astonishing as this.

When we had reached the top we found ourselves on a narrow saddle, with snowy heights. close to us on both sides, the highest ridge of Olonos facing us a few miles away, and a great pine forest reaching down on the northern side, whither our descent was to lead us. About us were still great patches of snow, and in them were blowing the crocus and the cyclamen, with deep blue scilla. Far away to the south reached, in a great panorama, the mountains of Arcadia, and even beyond them the highest tops of Messene and Laconia were plainly visible. The air was clear, the day perfectly fine and calm. To the north the chain of Erymanthus still hid from us the far distance. For a long time, while our muleteers slept and the mules and ponies rested, we sat wondering at the great view. The barometer indicated that we were at a height of about 5500 feet. The freshness and purity of the atmosphere were such that no thought of hunger or fatigue could mar our perfect enjoyment. In the evening, descending through gloomy pines and dazzling snow, we reached the village of Hagios Vlasos, where the song of countless nightingales beguiled the hours of the night, for here too sleep was not easily obtained.

The journey from this point to Patras, which we accomplished in twelve hours, is not so interesting, and the traveller who tries it now had better telegraph for a carriage to meet him as far as possible on the way. By this time a good road is finished for many miles, and the tedium and heat of the plain, as you approach Patras, are very trying. But with this help, I think no journey in all Greece so well worth at-tempting, and of course it can be accomplished in either direction.

Patras is indeed an excellent place for a starting-point. Apart from the route just described, you can go by boat to Vostitza, and thence to Megaspilion. There are, moreover, splendid alpine ascents to be made for those who like such work, to the summits of Chelmos and Olonos (Erymanthus), and this is best done from Patras. Moreover, Patras is itself a most lovely place, commanding a noble view of the coast and mountains of . tolia across the narrow fiord, as well as of the Ionian islands to the N.W. Right opposite is the ever-interesting site of Missolonghi. Last, and perhaps not least, there are one or two hotels at Patras, where the traveller who has spent ten days of rough outing in Peloponnesus will find a haven of rest and comfort.’ From here steamers will carry him to Athens round the coast, or home by Italy.