« הקודםהמשך »
MEDITATIONS AMONG THE TOMBS.
ages, exhibiting obscure customs and mysterious classic allusions, and traces of extinct races of mankind, and ceremonies connected with the religion of the age and country in which such races lived. Similarity of modes of sepulture also affords proof of identity of origin. No effort of man's hand has survived so long as the trophy raised to the King of Terrors; and our immortal dramatist has truly said, that the gravedigger's houses are the most durable, for “those he builds last till doomsday." But though ages may have passed away since these monuments were crowned by the garland of the Grecian maid, and though ages have yet to pass before the dust of their inmates is awoke by the cry “ Resurge,” there is still a warning voice to all that bids us
“ Pass with melancholy state
By all these solemn heaps of fate,
A castle and fort, whose walls are still in very tolerable preservation, occupy the summit of an eminence, lying about half a mile to the S.E. of the present village. Seen at some distance, it strongly reminded me of the old Moorish castle at Cintra. It consists of an outer wall at some distance down the hill, and a citadel at top, flanked by several square and octagon towers still standing; on the land side the rock is perfectly inaccessible. Two distinct eras are marked in the walls of this place. The lower part, which is of ancient mason-work, and built with enormous stones, was certainly constructed at a much earlier period than the upper part, which is of more recent date, and was probably built by the Venetians or Crusaders ; but there is no date or inscription to determine the exact time.
As we neared the shore upon the west, our attention was arrested by a pile that bore a great resemblance to the druidical remains of Stonehenge, but which, on examination, we discovered to be the enormous portals of the prosceneum that fronts the coilon of a theatre, which, though not quite so extensive as some other Grecian edifices of a similar nature, is in point of site and surrounding scenery inferior to none. This theatre was partly built and partly hewn out of the rock, in a sloping hollow of the mountain, which here partakes of an amphitheatrical form. It was
THE GREEK THEATRE.
divided by a stone flat or corridor, nine feet in width, into two sets of seats, having thirteen rows in each. The two lower seats have been covered up with earth and brambles within the last thirty years. Each of these seats was twenty-two inches broad and twenty high, and the face was curved so as to form about onehalf of a Norman arch, constructed, in all probability, on the principles of acoustics, so as to render the voice of the actor more audible throughout the coilon. We know that the seats of many other theatres were so constructed, and that cases or hollow vessels (H xera) were also placed under them to produce this effect.
This edifice is in a state of wonderful preservation, and measures in front of the prosceneum one hundred and thirty-one feet, to which is to be added the breadth of the seats at the widest part. The stage can still be traced, with the scene behind it formed of that cyclopean work before alluded to, the enormous portals of the doors of which excited our highest admiration. In most Greek theatres this scene represented the front of some palace or stately edifice; and in some instances, as at IIerculaneum, a villa, or country seat. In these, the central doorway, only entered by the principal actor, was called basileon by the Greeks, and by the Latins, valva regia ; the smaller one upon the right hand side, being appropriated to the second actor, and that to the left by those who took the minor parts. This basileon measures sixteen feet by seven, and is formed of five stones-two for each post, and one at top, which is ten feet long from end to end. The circumstance of the intervening. wall between these doors no longer existing, adds very much to the effect. Two other and still smaller entrances have been enumerated; but I conceive they could not have belonged to the prosceneum, but must have been used as doors to the lower tier of seats, and probably were entered only by the aristocracy. Outside these portals are the remains of a platform, eridently the parascene; and beneath this are seven arched entrances that led into the thymele or pit, that is now filled up with rubbish, and overgrown with bushes and luxuriant vegetation ; which, though we may regret for the sake of scientific inquiry, yet rather adds to than subtracts from the romantic and pictorial beauty of the place. The corridor dividing the seats was entered by an arched passage, partly cut through the rock, and corresponding to the peristile, or lobby, and the seats themselves were intersected by rows of steps,
THE SCENERY OF TELMESSUS.
crossing them diagonally from right to left, called Klimakes, which allowed the spectators to ascend to the upper rows, and not by ladders, as some have supposed.
The prospect from this theatre is one of the grandest, the most sublime, and exciting that I have ever witnessed; and though much fatigued by six hours' groping among the toinbs, it lost none of its powerful effect upon me as I rested on one of the upper seats, while my companion, Mr. R. Meiklam, was making a sketch of what Clarke has described as one of the most perfect specimens which the ancients have left of this kind of building; for by the plans of Grecian architects, the vast operations of nature were rendered subservient to the works of art."
This theatre, unlike our modern ones, had no roof, but a canvas awning, or tectum, stretched across the top, shaded the spectators from the effects of the sun, and allowed the eye to wander over the extensive view that formed the vast natural scenery of the piece..
Different, indeed, is the effect produced by the painted daubs that modern art has rendered necessary to convey an idea of scenic beauty. Here the foreground was a real palace of huge dimensions, beyond which appeared the calm waters of the bay, with the numerous craft passing and repassing upon it. The towers, the tombs, and temples of the city rose upon the right, and to the left appeared the picturesque island of Cavaliere. Across the blue waters was a smiling, fertile plain, rich in vineyards, cornfields, and meadows; the flocks and shepherds on which required no propping from a scene-shifter. In the rear of the spectators, the heaths and myrtles on the well-wooded mountain perfumed the air ; and far in the distance rose one of most glorious scenes that an artist could possibly compress into a picture-the Carian mountains, placed beneath a sky of intense clearness, which allowed the beholder to trace the transition from plenteous vegetation along the gentle slopes at their base, to that of glistening snow upon their summits. It is a landscape which would almost repay the trouble of going thus far to see. IIow different the luxuriant revelling and midnight waste of time and health indulged in by the moderns, from the healthful pastime of the ancient Greek, enjoyed in the open day, when listening to the strains of Sophocles and Euripides, or witnessing the performances of Æschylus and Aristophanes. Such comparisons, such recollections, and such excitements it is, that constitute the charm and
THE SOOTILSAYER'S CAVE.
consolation of travel, and clothe with beauty every ruin of the ancients. Such were the sources of excitement which Byron, who experienced them in all their power, has stated to be (next to ambition) the greatest in existence; and he felt how sweet it was thus to sit, wrapt in the mantle of antiquity, and broider the golden web that fancy weaves, till the glorious tapestry of the past curtains from our view the ills and crosses of the present.
Then 'stay, illusion, stay awhile,
My wilder'd fancy still beguile;'
• The vision of enchantment's past :' for Telmessus, like many a scene in civilized life, while it delights the eye, gratifies the mind, and leads captive the imagination, warns the traveller to hasten from its pestilential environs, for plague lurks in its streets; the plains teem with miasma, disease and death are floating around, and the desolation that has here for centuries prevailed, still marks it a NECROPOLIS.
Before we leave this place, we must refer to one more memorable spot. To the left of the theatre a flight of steps conducts from the water's edge to a large grotto, twenty-one feet in breadth, vaulted over head, and rudely cut out of the solid rock, as represented in the accompanying vignette.