THERE is a tone of rejoicing throughout the town this Saturday evening; the matron smiles, the maiden moves with a lighter grace, the old man tells a new story everybody seems to be looking forward to some new joy; what is the matter? A festival to-morrow; to-night the people are allowed to eat meat, and great is their happiness. A number of sheep and goats are slaughtered in the public place before the chief wineshop; the blood of the animals-runs down into the gutter and is licked up by the dogs, while the inhabitants look on during the operation. A deft butcher hangs up the flesh as fast as it is ready, when it is rapidly sold and carried away. Everywhere one meets with that quiet feeling of delight which says : To-morrow is a festival. Lent is just at hand; before plunging into its sorrows and abstinences, let us enjoy once more our happy earth and its sunshine.
On the morrow the people go to church and drone after the priest the service, with many a gesticulation and genuflection, meaningless enough to the stranger; still it seems to satisfy the assembled multitude and make them happier, therefore let it be called good. St. George’s, the new Cathedral is full to overflowing; Panaghia, the other church of the place, will not contain the throng. It is a day of festival, Heaven itself and all the Saints must be brought in to share the joy for joy is here a religious matter. The women, as in the Byzantine church-es generally, keep on the outside of the sacred railing, and remain together; in white-red costume, with faces peering out of the kerchiefed hair, with cast-down looks of sweet piety, they stand there massed in rows behind one another a view very pleasing; to me, I shall have to confess, altogether the most attractive thing in the church.
The Greek is a great lover of festivals, and they are all connected with his church ; in fact it is usually said that there are too many of them in the course of the year for a serious world. This custom of festivals is a direct inheritance of ancient Greek worship, which filled the calendar with festal days sacred to the various Gods; it shows too that Christianity sought, along with its essence, to adapt itself to what already existed. Still further, the new faith had to adjust itself to the Greek character. Earthly joyousness goes hand in hand with devotion; religion has seized upon and promoted the gladsome side of man’s nature, has reconciled itself with happiness. God gives to man festivals, and the duty of the latter is to celebrate them. How different is our Puritanism ! There Sin forever stands in the background, Sin from the beginning of the world, Sin from Adam’s fall in which we all participate. Each soul is born a guilty thing, let it never dare think of joy till it somehow or other get rid of a sin which it never committed. The innocent maid, pure as the angels, has done nothing, still her conscience is taught to accuse her; if she find nought of guilt in her heart, so much the worse for her ; she is told that her heart is hardened in utter depravity. This Sin, standing in the background of Human Life, and casting a’ deep shadow over it with ever-threatening wings, has much resemblance to the Greek Fate, an amorphous black Power, which swayed mankind with a hopeless necessity and had supremacy even over Gods. Fate overwhelmed the Hellenic world, as we saw at Chaeroneia, and became a terrific reality ; now it is no longer an external Power, but has gone within the soul of man and become Sin; there it eternally threatens him with torment ; still a dark angel it is, but at present it seeks to sway the inner world of conscience by its bodeful menacings. The Greeks, how-ever, remained joyous, with black Fate always hanging over them; and let us too conquer our fiend, reserving our conscience for the guilty deed; for we distort it and corrupt it, if we plague it with the guiltless deed. Then for the happy victory let us have a Greek festival, in which we are glad, glad that we are born, glad that we live upon this earth whose heavy-pacing Time we are going to interpolate with many a bright holiday.
Shortly after dinner the people, especially the young people, can be seen flocking through the streets to a common place of meeting. That place is just on the outskirts of the town, and is known as the place of the chorus, being leveled off and kept free from obstruction. Young men have the snow-white fustanella with its profusion of folds dancing from thigh to thigh as they move; often a richly-embroidered dark jacket is put on over the fusta-nella; a red fez or ornamented parti-colored cap sets off the head. So the youth, proud, erect, of handsome figure, treads along with a gait like a strut, conscious of being worthy of the title of Palicari. A right festal figure, you will say, raying joy everywhere through the landscape.
But the maiden, the genuine Arachobitza is also coming out, appearing in a new costume, which belongs to her town alone of the whole world. There is first the immaculate white dress, short, allowing the new shoes, tidily polished, to be seen ; even the decorated stockings will fall into the eye of the traveler, if he be somewhat of a prying turn. Over the white dress is worn in cool weather a woolen mantle, sometimes dark but usually white; then down in front falls the narrow red apron, reaching quite to the shoes; around the loins is scarfed the red girdle in warm embrace. On the head is a white close-fitting kerchief, quite concealing the hair except a thin crescent of it in front, but permitting it to fall down the back in a long braid. Nor should the metallic decoration remain unnoticed, varying considerably with the taste of the wearer, who seems to prefer coin to all other ornaments. The roseate face fading into the white fresh neck peers out in living contrast to the garments, and yet in complete harmony with their colors; sun-rise is in every cheek pursuing the milk-white dawn.
But a description of colors is dry and uninteresting, compared to the reality ; only the eye can sport in these thousandfold changes, and dance over the multitudinous billows of living hues. Drunk with color our vision gets to be today; it is a festival of sight. Let us try once more to get the image by simplifying it: white is the background of dress, on this white is placed the vivid scarlet; then some dark spots dot the mass of figures here and there, like the passing clouds in a serene sky.
Nor must we forget the happy harmony between body and dress. The face gives the ground-tones of color for the costume; the red and white of the garments find their source and living relation in the red and white of the visage. On the other hand, the form of dress must be determined by form of body which therein is concealed, but in a truer sense is revealed. Now the sport of these two simple colors over the human frame has something wonderfully joyous and vivacious in it; it is the merriment of a fond pair of twins, rolling and winding in each other’s playful embraces, capriciously, but always giving out the same festal note.
But we must behold these colors in mass brightly moving through one another in manifold changes. The whole town is present in the open air, either taking part in the dance or looking on with an instinctive delight in these hues and in their intertwining movements. Several hundred people are gathering, dressed in their peculiar costume, with the exception of half a dozen, perhaps, in European garments. All the women are appareled quite alike, in the same fashion and in the same colors ; the spectacle of the entire body of them, massed together on a slight elevation above the choral ground, makes the joy of the day irresistible. Then the colors are endowed with life and motion, forming a hundred graceful combinations every minute. I come down into the village from the hills above and gaze at the display of hues; these maidens, or rather colors, can be seen streaming through all the labyrinthine ways of the town toward the dancing ground. From the turn of this hill I can look down into the heart of the place and follow each bright form moving to that spot of greensward, moving from the town’s heart in red streamlets, one may say. Add to these strong tints the beautiful day wherein Apollo puts every object as well as the entire scene in a mild yet joyous setting of golden radiance, and you have this touch of Parnassian existence. Groups of white forms of youths also move in sculpturesque dignity, yet with light-hearted tread toward the same locality all with one note in their heart.
Out of one of the streets emerges the band of musicians, composed of two men one beating the drum, the other playing the caramousa, an instrument which has already been mentioned as snarling. This strange music rides heavily on the air, yet with strongly marked emphasis; it is no music in our sense of the word, it has no tune. But the dance begins to its beat; the circle of youths is at once formed, into which the maidens are joined. After a short time, there comes a second band of music, with caramousa and drum ; a second chorus is formed in a second circle alongside of the first. Thus the festivity opens, joy is king of Parnassus.
These dances are not like our dances, and have in many respects a different purpose. The circle is formed by joining hands; two or three steps forward are taken, then backward, with a slight canter of the feet; then another movement forward and backward, and so on with manifold repetition. What is in the thing ? one asks impatiently, perhaps. It is motion, love of motion with its graceful turns and undulating outlines; love of motion for its own sake and nothing else. In this respect these rustics show an inborn taste and natural artistic instinct which will surprise the observer from abroad; it will soon be seen that the dance is not a wild frenzy in which youth seeks to get rid of its own excess of animal spirits, nor does it ever get to be a maze of complicated figures in which the sense of graceful movement is lost. Rustic is the dance indeed, yet truly Greek in spirit; the spectator who does not feel that spirit in it, must have little feeling for Greek Art. The simplest means are used to exhibit bodily perfection, grace of outline, and harmony of movement. At times the head dancer may leap and give a whirl, and otherwise perform some unusual gyrations; but that does not alter the character of the dance. Thus the old Greek chorus must have been, though infinitely more delicate and more developed in every way; the lyrist Pindar would rear the germ to beautiful perfection ; but here is still the fresh rose-bud which once unfolded into the Parnassian rose, fairest of earthly flowers.
Another characteristic which strongly marks these dances is the extreme modesty and chaste manner of the female participants. Often they form a chorus by them-selves, and when they dance in the same circle with the young men, it is not by pairs, but the youths occupy one half of the circle and the maidens the other half, while only the central couples join hands. Not prudish is this, but a delicate and perfectly natural touch of modest re-serve. Nor do the women make any of the unusual movements, any of the fantastic leaps which are allowed to the youths, but they keep within the customary limits of the dance. They never spring with a violence which dashes their dress above their ankles, or seek to attract attention by unusual behavior. All is chaste simplicity, , a sense of moderation which the traveler wonders at among a rural population, yet all is filled with an inner quiet joy, existence is a holiday. One will be often forced to exclaim to himself: Yes, here is still the germ rude and undeveloped; here is still that same old artistic instinct, which shunned excess like death, and sought beauty in moderation, harmoniously balancing all the fierce contradictions of life.
As I stood there looking at the dancers, a young Greek whom I knew, caught hold of me and pulled me into the circle. At once the crowd shouted, ” Bring him in, and have him dance.” My two hands were held with a friendly persistence, and I not unwillingly danced along, though amid the titters of the pretty maids of Arachoba. I had watched the step, and thought it easy, but I found that it required some practice. Then I swayed backward and forward with my long overcoat, broad-soled shoes and European costume out of tune with the time ; I felt the dissonance, mine was the sole inharmonious note in the company, still with a walk and a trip I went through all the movements. But they laughed at me, and I laughed at myself, dancing the Greek chorus with youths and maidens on Parnassus, under the very breath of the Muses. Still it must be done; the Greek journey would be worthless without just that inspiration from the Sacred Sisters.
Many a graceful turn will fall into the eye and arouse the feeling of festal delight ; many a» suggestion there will be of the ancient joy of bodily movement. To-day a Palicari, at the request of a friend, conducted me to a certain house and walked before me. The proud free stride, the care with which he moved his limbs to show their grace and dexterity, were a marvel; for remember that the outlines of his limbs were not lost in lopping French breeches, but in his close-fitting hose they had form and motion revealed perfectly. Then the throw of the folds of his fustanella showed all the skill of move ment, and shared in the proud bearing of his body, with a delicate play of their own. Thus he strode before me, entrancing me with his motion, for the stress which he laid upon his gait was certainly the result of intention, he was a work of art before my eyes. No such movement is possible in our dress, and probably no peasantry but this Greek one has such an inborn delight in harmonious motions. All the possibilities of ancient Greek sculpture are still here ; the models even might be selected; yet it is but the germ, the primal instinct, which, however, with cultivation, would again shoot up into forms of marble and poetry from this slope of Parnassus.
A friendly Papas I met on the ground; he invited me to enter a house with him which overlooked the choral place ; people, simple and poor, lived there, but they served up wine, walnuts and sweetmeats with generous hospitality. Man and wife are over fifty years of age, yet they both say that they still dance at the festivals. No old age has yet blighted their youthful feelings, or even their cheeks ; eternal youth is in this house, like that emotion which ancient Greece herself everywhere inspires. I imagine that an aged person would feel young in this town to-day. People a hundred years old are not uncommon, walking still with a light gait, it is said ; men over eighty years of age still go to their work in the fields. Old age this is, but deferred. The mountain air, bracing and pure, embalms life in that perfect gem, the body. This body, trained to harmonious movement, is the mirror of the Greek wherein he beholds his own soul; thus existence becomes to him spontaneous poetry, not written but lived, a continuous sculpturesque movement.
In such manner Old Age disappears in festal Arachoba at least today. I go to the house of my host, and engage to dance next Sunday with his mother, who would elsewhere be humbled by her years. Indeed sometimes the Greeks are so deeply imbued with a love of youth that they quite forget that they are old. I have in mind a Greek lady, still beautiful and well preserved, who passed off her own daughter upon me as her sister. So at least was my understanding of the relation, till I was laughed at and corrected by an outsider. In the exuberance of Greek youth, she had quite forgotten that she was the mother.
As I was standing and looking with admiration at the chorus, identifying it in many ways with antique things, I was accosted by a man who asked me if I held the doctrines of Phoulmar. His manner, moreover, seemed to indicate that he thought the said Phoulmar to be a wretch, if not the Evil One himself. But who in the world is Phoulmar ? I was puzzled to know what the man meant, when further inquiry developed the fact that none other was intended than our old German friend Fallmerayer, who has sought with such obstinacy to disprove the Greek origin of the Greeks. Now, if there is one invariable article in the creed of the modern Greek, it is that he is a lineal descendant of the ancient Greek, and that he in person is entitled to all the honors, dignities and privileges which belong to a descent from such high ancestry. But now comes a German pedagogue, this Fallmerayer, and with a vast display of erudition, tries to invalidate the claim. The result is, the name of Fallmerayer has gone into the provinces, has percolated through the layers of the people, and been changed thereby to the title of a sort of demon or Antichrist, a type of all that is hostile to the orthodox Hellenic race in fine, the Greek devil. Accordingly I was at once questioned upon this important article of faith on the place of the chorus in presence of severe judges.
Of course I could give a favorable answer, for the whole theory was unsound from its basis, though with some scattered fragments of truth; moreover, it has been quite set aside in recent years by the labors of another German investigator; and is it not refuted by what I see before me? But that strange German pedagogue with his crooked idea ! The idea is there in his head and is crooked ; the whole world must conform to that idea, though the world thereby get crooked, too. So great is very often the significance of the idea to the German pedagogue, particularly if it be crooked. He pours into it all the treasures of books, all the buried lore of libraries, to the very dust and mould ; no man on our earth can compare with him in erudition and multifarious reading. Wonderful, very wonderful he is indeed, but his idea is crooked and the whole universe gets twisted and gnarled in passing through convolutions of his brain, and has to be straightened out again, often with infinite labor. Thus mysteriously I met the shadow of my fellow guildsman, the Bavarian schoolmaster, on Parnassus, having become a veritable goblin there.
Thus it is with thee, Oh Fallmerayer’s Johann Philip and I curiously quiz, how will it be with me ? But mark another offence : this very Arachoba, he declares, to be not a Greek word but Slavic, and cites several other names of places just like it between the Mediterranean and the Baltic. Now Arachoba revenges itself by considering him a brigand and an infidel. Still worse : he affirms that Arachoba means Crab Town (or more exactly Crab Corner, Krebseck), as if to insult the place with disgusting etymology. No wonder Arachoba examines suspiciously the visitor concerning his affinities with Phoulmar.
A fiery, fighting soul the schoolmaster had he fought against Napoleon for German liberation, before he began this war against the Hellenic name ; one feels his character in his style, for his words often leap forth red-hot, when it were better if they had remained cool. Intensity of utterance he has ; withal he is a most impracticable, stiff-necked person, ready to measure swords with any-body, particularly on the Greek question. Still I like to think of the old schoolmaster who explored hither-wards before me; what a strange wake of light he has left behind ! It is, however, a light, though a little sulphurous, and now grown somewhat dim in more recent light. Much that he has said was true, or the beginning of truth; he would have it all true, that was the difficulty; so the idea gets crooked. His own weapon of erudition has been turned against him; moreover the eye will confute him, beholding so often on this soil the old in the new. Such a difference shows itself in the eyes of the two schoolmasters visiting Parnassus.
But the dancing continues and the music. This music, however, is a problem. What doom will the startled human ear pass upon it? Notice the player on the caramousa, how he blows ! Slowly he moves around the in-side of the circle, keeping time and making gestures with his instrument in his mouth. Desperately he blows, turning red with the exertion, and inflating his cheeks with breath till his eyes seem ready to shoot from their sockets; Gabriel, the last and greatest trumpeter, will not more completely blow himself into that final blast announcing the end of all things. Now and then the player passes out of the circle into the surrounding crowd for a penny, though these pennies are not frequent. Long will he remember me by a small piece of silver which I gave him, a Danish coin, which had been put upon me in some of my exchanges. Marching around the circle with him is the drummer, slashing away with drumstick in one hand, and in the other holding a switch against the drumhead, thereby producing a crawling sound. A strange music indeed, yet it marks the time strongly in fact it does more, it marks the movement of the body. This is, then, the clew of the matter: music in the present case is wholly subordinate to movement which it must emphasize at important changes. It is not an independent art which can be listened to by people sitting in quiet at the concert; it has no significance without the accompanying bodily motion, which it rudely hints and controls in a subordinate way. To portray the tossings and interweavings of all shades of the emotions this is the realm of modern music, not of ancient; not even the Greek music of to-day has any such purpose. It is at most rhythmical, and thus we fall back to that love of motion expressed in the human body, which lies at the very foundation of all Greek Art.
Similar, too, is the song; it has a decided rhythmical tendency, and seems out of place apart from the dance. It is not the words so much as the movement, upon which stress is laid. Such was doubtless the ancient chorus a harmonious combination of song, instruments and dance; of which only a few fragments of the verse have come down to us. The dance was to be a gallery of sculpture set to beautiful movement in the forms of fair youths; the ode, in word and voice, uttered the same as the dance, which found its completeness in the accompaniment of flute and lyre; so these arts were joined together in sweet embrace which are now separated; the ancient lyric poet not only made the verse but taught the whole chorus in all its elements. Thus we find that this Greek music has its root in the antique and is not without meaning.
But another question is agitating all this time the traveler far more deeply: Where is the old Greek ideal?
Often have the beautiful women of Arachoba been celebrated along his route; here they are now before him, hundreds of faces which he will eagerly scan, not with-out an inner exaltation. That which strikes him is the number of blondes he will see not the flaxen blonde of the North, but the golden blonde of the South, with long luxuriant hair glistening in a soft glow like that of evening sunbeams, and pouring over the head and down the back a mild, yet frolicsome sheen of gold. The tender blue eyes melting in their own modest warmth are also here, to my astonishment, as well as the lily complexion tinged with the fresh morning red. Yet not all are thus, by any means ; the most of the faces are of a dark tint, yet never brown-burnt. Nor are the features always regular, but the Greek profile one will see at times in surprising perfection; the forehead, the triangular nose with softly rounded angles, the line connecting forehead and nose are all here, to be marked by any careful eye.
What, then, may one affirm about the Greek type found at Arachoba ? As I was engaged in the dance, I was at times brought very close to many of these faces, yet you must think quite short of absolute contact; it was a good opportunity to see them massed together and to glance into their eyes. On a knoll shelving toward the chorus stood a small amphitheater full of these roseate visages rising one above the other, and overlooking the dance. The eye will note the common type in all, though it varies from homeliness to beauty. These are laboring people, peasants; to-morrow they will be in the olives and vine-yards; even the maidens have to toil in the fields under the hot sun, though the location be high. A strongly marked handsome girl with all the traits of Greek beauty I have not seen to-day; it is the type which causes admiration, and each has that common type not without some additional touch of grace or prettiness, if it be only the color. The traveler will enthusiastically declare it to be the handsomest peasantry, taken as a whole, that he has yet seen.
This is my conclusion : the ancient Greek type can still be observed on Parnassus, but it is undeveloped. The germs, the possibilities of the old Hellenic world are now existing amid these primeval mountains: such is the deep-grounded impression to which one always returns. The difficulty is that the primitive Greek germ is not allowed to develop itself freely out of its own nature, as it did in antiquity. Modern Greek culture seeks to be European, perchance, must be European ; higher education is imported largely from Western Europe. The cultivated man from the University of Athens has lost his sympathy with the ancient customs of his fathers, and of his fellow townsmen; the cultivated woman throws aside her Arachobite costume as rustic, despises the rude chorus and music, reads European books, becomes European in dress, manners and thought; in fine, both man and woman lose by education their Greek individuality. Thus the germ of primitive Greek is choked at the start, it never flowers into culture, but is left to the peasant to retain in rustic rudeness and simplicity.
One can have little doubt that if these primitive manners and this primitive consciousness were developed from its purely Greek basis, the ancient Hellenic civilization would again appear. If the man would always seek to unfold these germs into flower and fruit, instead of grafting them into some foreign growth; if the woman of education would take this costume and add to it grace and refinement, instead of adopting the latest Parisian fashion, if she would be trained as of old to form and movement, of which the rudiments are still to be seen in the chorus, the ancient Greek beauty might, come to life again, and we might see the models of the old sculptors and painters. This is my firm belief: that primeval world, as it existed even before Homer, Hellenic or Pelasgic, out of which Greek civilization developed itself of its own inherent force, is still here on Parnassus, stranded upon the mountain, and thereby saved from the wreck of thousands of years. Fleeing from the swarms of invaders that overflowed the rich plains, to lofty and sterile fastnesses, the old stock preserved itself; but it remains a germ, and this germ, alive though it be now, is apparently losing its vitality. What hostility never could do, is done by civilization.
Still I do not think that the old Greek world is again going to appear in reality, or that its return should be desired; still less do I think that it would take the same relative position in the world’s culture as in antiquity, when it became the teacher of the infant race. Two thousand years have passed since Greece dropped out of the World’s History, having fulfilled its mission ; the stream of time is not going to turn backwards. But we must always explore its course and behold therein our happy early childhood; for after all, the individual man must pass through again what his race has passed through. Hence ancient Greece must remain the eternal school of the modern world, since its period takes in just the school time of our race. For such purpose modern Greece offers new aid ; this must be our chief, but not our only interest in Hellas of to-day and in Parnassus, where we now are.
Another reflection already hinted at Chaeroneia will force itself now more strongly upon the mind of the observer : he will see here the possibility of ancient Greek poetry. Let the true singer again be born into these customs and be filled with their beauty ; let the songs still sung upon this spot be made by a man of genius, illuminated with the culture which springs directly from this life; let the choruses now forming the amusement of rustics only, be unfolded by him into harmony, rhythm, grace then you have the Poet before you once more, quite as he of old arose on these hills. Let the person of wealth and leisure spend his time and thought in making the dance, the marriage feast and the festival beautiful, taking his chief delight in rhythm and in exalted measure; let him support the Poet who cuts these rough diamonds of the people into exquisite Greek form, then, one can not help thinking, the ancient poetical world will spring anew into being. Such is the emphatic feeling which comes over the traveler beholding these original rude germs, being still the primordial forces of what Greece once became. With a little fancy and poetical instinct, he must feel that here he is brought into contact with the world which produced Pindar and his rhythmical odes; nay he will come upon many a strain singing out of the background of old Homer’s poesy. The original elements which summoned both these ancient bards into existence are still present and in action.
To-day there is a vast body of popular Greek poetry, having certain turns and thoughts universally diffused, though each village has its own version of the song, and often its own distinct song. The bard, too, is here still, as he was in the Homeric village; Arachoba has several, as I learn on inquiry, poets of nature who will vary some old story with coloring of their own, just as the ancient rhapsodist diversified his one theme, the tale of Troy. Thousands of lines some of them can repeat from memory a feat not unlike that of a Homerid. When I read to a small company a few Romaic songs from my Passow Collection, one of my hearers declared that they were not complete, and he brought me a man who added long interpolations probably the Arachobite version of the same legends. Thus one is led to think that fragments of some Homeric epic may still be floating about on Parnassus, without any Homer as yet to smelt them through the furnace of poetic genius into one poem.
The popular song is of varied theme of war, of brigandage, of fierce Palicaris ; often of love, too, and even death and Charon. The voice of the singers has no great modulation, but it is rhythmical rather, like Greek music generally; tune it can not be called. Herein there is a correspondence to the instruments already mentioned; but the true chorus it is, forming a union of voice, dance, poesy, varied with the flute or caramousa, and blending all into movement of body. Still the rude beginning, you will say, of those intricate harmonies which the lyrist developed anciently, and which a genuine Greek genius might still do to a certain extent, in spite of the rhyme which belongs to modern Romaic song and in spite of the accent, which probably existed alongside of quantity in the Greek metrical system of antiquity.
Thus there is an internal conflict going on in Greece between the old and the new, which may be stated as the conflict between Europeanism and Hellenism. The moment the Greek becomes educated, he becomes European and is chiefly then imitation. The ancient Hellenic foundations are still lying in his very village, but he does not think of building upon them. That wonderful development of the primordial Greek germ into Greek Art, Poetry, Philosophy and into Greek political institutions, is not taking place ; the educational energies of its people are absorbed in acquiring the culture of Western Europe. I do not affirm that this state of things can be avoided, nor that it is even to be regretted.
But in spite of the strong tendency to the new civilization of the West, there is a mighty conservative influence it is the peasant, who still’ seems to be possessed of the instincts, not merely of his Greek, but also of his Pelasgic ancestors. It will be a long time before he is fully absorbed into the stream; these customs of his, driven to remote districts in the mountains where the brooks are always fresh and clear, will remain in their customary small channels, insignificant yet undefiled. In such places lived the last adherents of the old worship, the pagans so called, that is, the rude inhabitants of re-mote rural cantons. Indestructible as the mountains which protect them, seem these primitive seeds of Aryan beliefs and customs. Even Semitic Christianism has hardly been able to do more than gloss them over in their most retired strongholds. The ancient sanctuary of some divinity is now the shrine of a saint; the ancient festivals of the Gods have been changed to holydays of the church; the modern chapel is often built upon the foundations of an old temple ; thus modern Greece, with superficial mutations, is still spiritually ancient Greece. Our Arachoba, lying high up on the slope of Parnassus, seems to have suffered the least alteration ; it is an ever fresh well-head of antiquity gushing forth on the side of the mountain. Hence to me it signifies the title already given : the modern center of ancient Hellenism.
Such are the twin worlds, the Old and the New, which the traveler will find at Arachoba, different, yet for the most part in perfect unison. Both he will dwell in strangely, and be attuned to both ; indeed the marvel is that he cannot live in the one without living at the same time in the other. Here is the present with its throbbing life, full of healthy energy, limpid as a Parnassian brook. Yet it is of the aforetime, it has its source in the old fabled age, in the poetic world even before Homer. This feeling of twofoldness is given out of everything here, spontaneously, and with scarce a note of discord. The Old in the New we have noticed all along our pathway, sometimes with effort possibly; but now the one is the other, bleat together in imagination and in feeling, not showing except by rigid search even a faint line of separation. Vision also begins to double, as man himself is twofold, yet in harmony. If the view turns to an object of Nature, one instinctively sees what it hints ; if it be some spiritual thing, it takes on of it-self the form of Nature. Yet both are blended into a perfect unity, any division means violent tearing as under of living members : meaning and form are one organism. The eye deepens into the spirit, while it remains eye, yet the spirit stays not with itself and broods alone over its unfathomable self, but seeks the eye and the outer world. Vision is a new thing on Parnassus, with a new virtue once it sought but appearances, or beheld but its own phantasms ; in it now the outer and inner meet in mutual concord and without disparagement to either.
To this double vision which at present possesses the soul, there will be added the third element, that of feeling. We have noticed how the image of sense has always the thought underneath, shooting through it rays of light, filling it with meaning; to these two, thought and image, will be joined the emotion, which makes both quiver like heart pressed to heart. Be it joy, or be it sorrow, it completes the man, making him musical too, because entire. Such is the trilogy of poetry : a thought, an image, a feeling, all distinct to a degree, yet all in one, and saying the same thing. But now the trilogy of poetry is realized, it becomes the trilogy of existence.
In such manner the Parnassian life rises to a universal significance. Two worlds should every human being possess in his own right, very diverse yet harmoniously interwoven at every needle-point. The one is that of common life, of prose, of practical activity a necessary sphere, which makes itself felt by its very gravity. But the other is the ideal realm, which brings a solution to the conflicts of real life and takes away its grossness. Also it gives us the breath of freedom once more, freedom from the restraints, ceremonies, and conventionalities of ordinary existence. Poetry is indeed the world of freedom, it must break loose somewhere from the serfdom of prosaic life. Its wildness, its audacity, often its wickeness is but the protest of freedom, the desperate single-handed sally of the ideal soul against a universe of beleaguring Prose.
Truly unhappy is the man who has not two worlds. Let him flee, if need be, to an idyllic life, and there build anew some refuge for the straightened heart. Such is one remedy, old as poetry, yet very insufficient for our modern time. Let him flee to Religion, also an ideal world, and for many good natures an efficacious remedy. Religion, however, has the tendency to throw its paradise into the past, and its heaven into the future ; its ideal world always has been, or will be, never is. Strangely neglectful of the eternal New is Religion; it would be all-efficacious, could it. fill itself with an everlasting Real Presence of the Divine. You and I must have our Ideal World now, if ever; this very moment must be raised out of Time into Eternity ; and we say with grim desperation to our puzzled Priest who would fain give us help : We sigh not for the Past, we seek not for the Future Now or Never is ours, by the Gods !
Thus our Ideal World makes man eternal, eternally young ; already we have noticed the buoyant youthfulness of old age on these Parnassian slopes. The spirit remains as fresh as the dew of the morning, being filled with an eternal Now. Ideally there is no growing old, spring-time endures forever. Bad enough is it to see an old man old, yet it is tenfold worse to see a young man old, as is so often the case in these wearing days. But to preserve youth is not the prime object of the longing soul; youth is only the fresh ruddy image of endless du-ration, free from the cadaverous paleness of Time. To live truly the Now is not merely the prophecy, but the fulfillment of immortality. Lift up this temporal moment into the Ideal World and hold it there, and you have not simply proven, you have realized the life immortal : such is indeed its only proof. Solvitur vivendo.
Of all the bards who have said their sacred word to the human race, old Homer has the readiest faith in an Ideal World ; he dwells in it, sports with it, is in earnest with it, smiles and weeps in it ; the truth is, he can not stay out of it but with an effort. The terrestrial struggle on the plains of Troy he wearies of, and must take his flight to Olympus; or if the case is desperate, he brings his Gods down into the combat among men. Two worlds he has, the Earthly or lower one, and the Olympian or upper one, intermingling, reflecting one another; such is the book he has transmitted, such assuredly was his life. He can not tread on the ground without touching the heavens; all Nature becomes in him a divine reflection; even the acts of men, the products of human agency, be-long not to this reality, but are terrestrial images stamped with the Gods. More than any other Poet does he live in intimacy with the Ideal World; such, too, is his supreme lesson : he teaches us to lift our existence into an ideal realm, just as he elevates the struggles of men below into Olympus.
Thus sang the old bard, giving us to-day his divine nourishment, showing the two worlds of man, as none other since has done. But it is said, this scheme belongs not to us, our modern life is practical, material, that is the end of it. Still even we must be fed through the Unseen, through what is above us, which after all is some form of that Homeric Upper World. Not an easy under-taking will it be to transform turbid roaring Mississippi into a clear Greek stream; a little pellucid Greek brook purling down the side of Parnassus it will never be. But even the Mississippi has aught more than its terrestrial stream ; through upper regions it must in some way flow back to its fountain head, else it would never flow below; that ideal current above is necessary to it also, according to the declaration of science herself. Even its vast waters would flow out, and the river run dry, were it not replenished from heavenly sources, from its ideal counterpart in the clouds, sending down its terrestrial stream.
Fabulous, too, that old Homeric world is called, a mere fiction spun from the imagination of the Poet. Fabulous it must be granted to be, and this is just its enduring value. Fable is truer than History ; Fable is a Whole, including both the Upper and Lower Worlds; History is but a Half, embracing only the Lower one, and mostly but a fragment of that. Still to the prosaic Understanding how does it sound to say that Fable is truer than History ? Quite the same as if one should declare that a lie is truer than the truth. Yet the realm of Truth is the Upper World, where it is reached by the Mythus ; while below is the realm of the Senses, not to be despised I say, but whose whole end and purpose is to be stamped with the beautiful impress of what is above.
It is said that the Olympians have become the sport of the ages, mere playthings which amuse the children of leisure, toys not to be seriously regarded by the busy earnest man. Such is the prosaic view of the old Gods; and indeed they have this side of sportfulness, which indicates the joyous serenity of their existence. But in their sport they image the Divine, with ease and joy they are the highest; in their play they are most earnest; in the world they are masters of the world, its Gods.
But on Parnassus one will not seek to be a philosopher; causes and consequences are not his pursuit. He feels the unity of the within and the without, he will not separate them in reflection. There is such a happy balance between heaven and earth, between Nature and Spirit, that he can not disturb it; evil, indeed all deep disruption of soul has fled from the world. In this happy balance one will keep ; no more pain, no more sin, no more philosophy, no more self-trituration of any kind. The senses and the soul rest in fond embrace; nought is there but harmony, that harmony between the inner and outer world called joy; man’s existence is one of its delicious notes, slowly dying away, like sweet music in the distance.
Still you must not think that there are no jarring contrasts in the life here ; but even harsh discords are strangely resolved into harmony. Here comes the fool who will be found on Parnassus as elsewhere in the world. I meet him going into the Olives, for he too gathers the fruit and presses out the stores of oil. He talks to himself, as he trips along; nobody pays any attention to him. He often bursts out into a hearty laugh among the Olives, such is the helpless joy of the fool.
His existence is all to himself, but it is a merry one, a Parnassian one, though a fool’s. He can not share with others his delight, he is cut off from mankind by unreason, for it is reason alone which unites man to man, and makes each a participant of the other’s life; but this fool has his own world, impenetrable, closed by triple walls of adamant. Still he laughs and talks and is merry, so much we see; but we can not share his soul, or comprehend it, hence he is a fool a miscarried human spirit, though it still strangely preserves its Parnassian birth-right of joy, when reason has sunk ont of its being.
Passing up from the fountain where the bare nymphs seem to be sporting round the banks of the stream or wading mid its pellucid waters, you will be thinking of ancient statuary and its significance which now begins to be felt in your existence. In some quiet nook you will meet Praxiteles, the sculptor, and you will eagerly inquire : How comes it, O Praxiteles, that thou hast made so many naked figures; therein I can not fully reconcile myself to thy artistic endeavor. Was there any modesty, any morality in those old ages? Was there any religion? For I confess, the nude nymph or the nude goddess is to me not altogether a holy object. Nor can I yet feel myself in harmony with the old games and gymnastic exercises revealing the undraped forms of contestants ; and I have noticed often that the Greek, civilized but naked, contrasts himself proudly with the barbarian, uncivilized but clothed.
Whereat the old Artist answered tartly, with words echoing through the Olives : Oh thou religious man, thy deity made thy body, thy tailor made thy clothes; whose handiwork is the worthier, more beautiful, more to be revered, thy tailor’s or thy God’s ? Thou wouldst hide the divine work for shame; better it were to hide thy clothes, if thou art truly modest, as innocence is modest. Thy body is immoral, thou sayst ; why dost thou carry it with thee all the time, cloaking thy immorality under garments, oh self-confessed hypocrite ? Abolish thy body as vice, like an honest man acting from conviction; then thou wilt find the outcome of thy morality to be self-destruction; man, to be good, must not be at all. Oh prudish, prurient soul, what has thy world gained by its fig-leaf but innumerable milliners’ and tailors’ bills?
But we Greeks, continued he with voice melodiously growing tender love the sweet body, such as Nature made and Art perfected ; we rejoice to see it trained to all its capabilities, to behold it masterful in all movements in the race, in the palestra, in the battle. We like to see its deed elevated to ideal perfection and made eternal in marble; then it is the supreme of created things, is an everlasting triumph over matter; it is truly the manifestation of the Godlike upon earth to the vision of men. Such is its highest power: a continual utterance of triumph over all obstacles a God.
It is not probable that anyone of us will become as good a Greek as Praxiteles; nor is it necessary. Still we may throw ourselves back into his view, and live with it sympathetically. Manifestly he does not employ the sensuous body for its own sake, but for the purpose of expressing the Divine. He scorns to use it merely for tickling pleasure, but through it he will reach the soul. The nude shape he chisels out of the rock but transfigures it into a God. He has two worlds, like Homer, the Up-per and Lower; the statue stands below, but its spirit is above ; to the Lower World belongs the naked figure which the gross eye beholds, but to true vision it rises transformed to the Upper World, whither it carries the beholder who therein becomes a worshipper. Thus the old sculptor, like Homer, helps us elevate our existence into an ideal realm, through the images of the Gods.
The faculty of double vision is the best, indeed the only true Parnassian gift; it beholds in the appearance what is substance ; without doing violence to Nature it trans-mutes her into Spirit; in the new it feels the soul of the old. Such is the discipline of the traveler at the present moment, living in this mountain town of rural Greece ; he is compelled to dwell in the Two Worlds, and to find his chief delight and occupation in their harmony. This relation between the upper and lower realms of existence may seem a mystery, possibly an intentional mystification ; but here it is real, in fact it is the one over-mastering reality. It may be unintelligible to hard-headed Prose ; some minds seem unable, or it were bet-ter to say, unwilling to penetrate the truth of the matter. But to unfold the relation and harmony between the Upper and Lower Worlds has been in one way or other the attempt of all Literature worthy of the name. To speak the connecting word between the two is the superhuman struggle of the Poet; if he succeeds, then he has given something to his race, he has welded together the mighty dualism of the universe.
But the Poet’s word grows dim by Time, his dialect is no longer familiar, and what is a greater hindrance, his consciousness passes away from his people. His gold therefore must be burnished anew, in fact it must be cast into the melting-pot, and coined over again into the cur-rent coinage of the period. Hence his interpreter arises with a clear duty; he too is to speak the connecting word everywhere, between the Old and the New, between the old Poet and the new Reader, in fine between the Upper and Lower Worlds. He is the true critic in Literature who breaks through the sensuous form and unfolds the spiritual element in the written word; he is the true Priest in Religion who helps us transform our life into an image of the Eternal in the Temporal. Both are interpreters and have a common realm : to show this outer reality to be a semblance revealing the inner spirit; both are to speak the connecting word which harmoniously joins the Lower and Upper Worlds.
But upon Parnassus today these two worlds lie blended in a most musical feeling of unity. The one is so easily the other that we need no Interpreter; the third person placing himself between them breaks the melody, and becomes an intruder. There is the feeling of immediate oneness which can not brook the dissection of thought; it is that of a supreme work of art, transparent, raying its soul directly into the soul. Nor shall we al-low any further intrusion into this intimate union, or any disturbance of this happy harmony, into which the twofoldness of man is melodiously transfigured, of which he longs to share as his divine essence, and to which he seeks to elevate himself by many ways by ecstasy, by poetic vision, by worship, by thought.