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As we look around upon our planet it is wonderful to perceive how much enchantment romance and poetry have contributed to fling about certain nooks and corners of it. To one who has travelled, this is evident more than to him who has not. As he walks the deserted wharves of Salem and peeps into the dusty halls and corridors of the old colonial houses of Newport, he will i, feel that no historian has done for New England what Hawthorne and Mrs. Stowe have done. The old legends that they re-clothed, the spell of beauty that they threw around antique mansions and deserted streets have a vitality, a tangibility, so to speak, that Hildreth, Drake, and Bancroft, with all their genius and utility, do not possess. When he passes up and
down the Hudson he will think oftener of sweet Katrina von Tassel and her lovers, Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones, and the Dutch legends of New Amsterdam than of Revolutionary history and commercial speculations. Beyondjhe limits of our own country the debt we owe to poesy is still more . marked. What was Acadie till the muse of Longfellow sang the woes of Evangeline? The Tweed, the Highlands, and the beautiful lochs of Scotland had few attractions for tourists till the magic wand of Scott invested them with the charms of poesy and romance. The "Last Days of Pornpeii" popularized travel from Naples to the buried city. The romance and travels of Bernado del Carpio and the Cid have made Spain classic ground.
What has been done by Scott, Hawthorne and Bulwer for Scotland, New England and Pompeii, Homer has done for that little triangle of land between the Dardanelles and the head of the long gulf over Mytilene, which modern geography marks as the Troad. A line of one hundred and fifty miles will compass the whole famous territory; but the genius of one man has given it a dignity that has little comparison with its mere geographical size. No other territory of similar extent, excepting Palestine and perhaps Attica, has the fame of this triangular-shaped area, and no other has its beauty. A mountain, ice-crowned, whose snows feed two sluggish streams that meander through the plain below, sits down very comfortably into this Asian angle, gathering up its space with its fingering spurs almost to the sea. The mountain is the wooded Ida. The rivers are the ancient Simois and Scamander. The plain is that of Troy, the scene of the Iliad.
For over two thousand years scholars have sought traces of that divinely-recorded conflict of gods and men upon this narrow strip of shore washed by the /Kgean and the Hellespont. The tumuli of Homer's buried heroes were landmarks
trodden the soil, and dreamed under the low, solemn skies of prouder conquests than Agamemnon, king of men, ever won. In my schooldays it was the fashion to regard both Homer and the Trojan war as myths. The German works of Schlegel and Wolf were paramount at college. Yet even they could not ignore altogether the deep human reality of the poems. The wrath of Achilles and Helen's beauty were as real to us as the later stories of Marie-Stuart and the Black Douglas; and the tender parting scene of Hector and Andromache touched the heart as strongly as the separation of those other lovers, Lord Dudley and Lady Jane Grey. It was easy enough to say there were no Ilium, no war between Greek and Trojan; but it was not so easy to discard the living, breathing pictures that the blind old bard portrayed and sang on these same picturesque, voluptuous shores three thousand years ago.
To-day, thanks to the labor of that indefatigable archaeologist, Doctor Schliemann, Priam has become a reality and the Troad historic ground. We may fairly set down the dynasty of Dardanus
was overthrown. But Homer is hardly to be considered in the light of a chronicler. He sang indeed of a real transaction and of historic men, but his verse is colored with all the exaggerations of the poet. The war was undoubtedly protracted, yet it could scarcely have continued ten years; and the gods had as little to do then as now with bloody battles. It is enough to know, however, that the heroes of the Iliad are as real personages as the heroes of the Pentateuch, and that Homer's accurately described landscape is as perfectly delineated as a modern battle-field.
Agamemnon and his Greeks reached the plain of Troy from Tenedos, but modern visitors can most conveniently visit it from the town of the Dardanelles, half-way down the famous street that Helle christened with her name. Though some portions of the old historic lands grasped by the Turks have been rudely penetrated by railways, the virginal soil of Priam's kingdoms is as free from such innovations as in the ancient Pelasgian days when the thunder of contending chariots lifted the dust of the seacoast. There cannot be said to be any roads deserving of the name; even such a one as /Eneus fled over carrying his aged father upon his shoulders on that long ago fatal night, would be an improvement on the mere bridle paths that dissect the province to-day. Doing Homer's land in the nineteenth century is an enterprise that has little of classic flavor about it, and the skinny Asiatic horse that you are obliged to bestride has little affinity to those snorting coursers which Diomede plundered from Rhesus somewhere near the very soil that we are now traversing.
To compass the whole territory of the Troad would require about a week; but the immediate landmarks of the
either side flow the Simois and the Scamander, now shallow, sedgy streams, supplied but poorly by the icy springs of the famous mountain. The whole plain of the seacoast below was the battleground of the contending armies, crossed a hundred times by the alternately retreating and advancing hosts of Greeks and Trojans. Lofty, cloud-wreathed Samothrace, Zeu's watch-tower during those long ten years of siege and sortie, looks down upon the spot, as in the poet's description, over low, intermediate-lying Imbros. Somewhere out that way, between the latter island and Tenedos, was the cave under the
Homeric battles can all be included in a summer's day journey. On this bit of shore between Ml. Ida and the sea, and extending downward from the foot of the Dardanelles fourteen miles along the JEgean, were performed most of the exploits of the heroes who gathered here some three thousand one hundred and sixty-three years ago in the Mysian sunlight. The Sigeum promontory, behind which the Greeks anchored their fleet, is just at the entrance of the Hellespont, where the Scamander falls into the sea. Scarcely three miles distant, upon a low ridge extending from one of the spurs of many-fountained Ida is Hissarlik, or Ilium Novum, long the contested site of the royal city of Priam, and which the excavations of Dr. Schliemann have demonstrated as the correct one beyond a doubt. On
Plain of The Troad.
^Egean, from which Poseidon emerged on the twenty-eighth day of the epic to participate in the conflict.
With a Turkish guide, and mounted on one of those sorry-looking bags that seem indigenous to the region, we left the town of the Dardanelles one August morning in the year 1877, and when
ing sunrise a scene whose natural features must often have been gazed upon by the Greek warriors. In the west Mount Ida was flushed with radiant light, and the wooded peaks that sheltered' the flocks of Paris and Ganymede, and the secret loves of the Dardan and sweet Cythera, wore the same glory that they must have worn in the old heroic days. Over the Thracian peninsula at our right the coasts of the fair islands sleeping on the breast of the ^£gean rose in full view, while far remoter, full a hundred miles across the sparkling waves, the high conical peak of Mount Athos stretched out from the Grecian mainland, gleaming faintly under the sapphire sky. We could imagine how longingly looked the eyes of the absent Greeks over those waters toward their land and kindred as the war wore on. The splendors of three thousand sunrises and sunsets the poor fellows witnessed upon those dark waves while they, unfurloughed and desponding, gathered under the banners of their chiefs to avenge the wrongs of an outraged husband. Long after they returned to Greece the most vivid images in their memories must have been those distant views of Irabros, Samothrace and Athos.
The promontory of Sigeura is covered with cultivated farms owned by the English residents of the Dardanelles, and on the shore once ground into furrows by brazen chariot wheels and dyed with the blood "of carnage, we saw the white blossoms of the cotton-plant maturing in the summer sun. Only a fen small fishing-boats recalled the magnificent vision of the twelve hundred brazen -beaked vessels that had once anchored in the harbor, and were defended so bravely when the battle darkness fell we already had our feet in Homer's [ rolled that way, though when the epic narralrR
land. The night was spent in the Greek village of Remkeni, overlooking the southern extremity of the Hellespont. We awoke to see in the morn
opened there must have been rotten timbers decayed cordage in many of the royal galle«* We passed over the entire point of land, and
hard to fill the Hellespontic harbor with Homer's enumerated myriad of ships, which must have stood several lines deep along the limited shore. Down almost to the water's edge extended the fields of cotton, and the luxurious crop doubtless derived something of its nurture from the blood and bones of the brave men who fell in that fourth day of the Homeric battles, when the sons of Troy broke through the Grecian wall to be driven back again by the mighty Ajaces. Standing there in the Asian sunlight upon this sea corner, it did not require a wide stretch of imagination to fancy Achilles sitting dissentient in his tent, pitched perhaps upon the very ground my foot then stood on, brooding over the loss of the charming Briseis. The gigantic tumuli of Homer's pet hero stand not far distant, and grouped about it, girding the field of struggle, are those other everlasting barriers, the tombs of Ilus, Ajax, and Patroclus. These earth mounds rise up in a conical fashion thirty or forty feet above the ground level and their age goes back to prehistoric times. With the exception of the profanities bestowed upon them by the Turks, they have always borne as they do now the names of the individuals assigned to sepulture in them. Modern investigation has fully demonstrated that they were designed for burial purposes. In the beginning of the century, M. Choiseul, a Frenchman, exhumed the mound of Achilles. Fifteen feet under its summit he discovered the charred debris of antique funeral rites, and also a bronze vase and a figure
ALEXANDER The GREAT.
ton of unknown antiquity was discovered in a vault underneath the ashes, evidently the remains of an exalted personage. The whole vast mass was undoubtedly the deposit from an immense funeral pyre, and may possibly have been the work of Greeks or Trojans, as recorded by Homer, when after the first engagement of the Iliad, the dead on both sides were heaped and buried, and a mound raised over the slain.
The mounds suggest the manner of their making, and the poet's description of the burial of Patroclus and the formation of the warrior's tomb applies with equal exactness to all the tumuli:
That done, they bid the sepulchre aspire,
The tomb of the redoubtable Ajax is earth heaped over a vault of solid masonry. A half-obstructed passage way at its base conducts the visitor into the interior.
of Athene, which were in a state of good preser- i One enters with difficulty, though the great vation. These relics are preserved at the Dar- friendly ghost of Telamon never objects to an danelles together with some fragments of pottery ' intrusion, and one is hardly repaid for the effort. procured at a more recent date from the same ' The Romans, when they took possession of the
Paris And Helen.