Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

the net gently down into the water. We met again in the centre, when some embers, which had been hidden, were blown up, and exposed on an iron grate. The flame was fed with cedar dipped in oil ; which, blazing in the wind, brightened over the deep; the red coals hissing as they fell and were extinguished. At the same time we began to clatter with wooden hammers on the sides and seats of the wherries, to dash with a pole, and to throw stones; disturbing and driving the fish, and darting a trident or spear if any appeared at the top, dazzled by the light; sprinkling oil to render the surface tranquil and the water pelucid.* The men drew up the net with caution, fearing the fins of some poisonous fish, particularly the scorpion, which is killed with a blow on the head, while entangled, when the danger ceases. The boats meeting again, they untie the seins, and throwing the fiery brands into the sea, proceed in the dark to some other place. This is the common method of fishing in these seas. It is of ancient origin, and not unnoticed by the Greek poets.t Many fires are seen on the water nightly about the mouth of the gulf of Smyrna. .

We continued tossing and toiling on the waves until the morning dawned, when we had taken a considerable quantity of mullet, with some cuttle fish, and a sea spider or two. We then landed, and made a fire with pieces of dry wood, and brands collected along the shore. Some red mullets were dressed on the coals for breakfast, and the nets spread in the sun to dry. When the moon was down we resumed our watery occupation. We continued near a week in the straits. The men in the day-time were employed in salting fish, or in rowing along the coast, and looking for the echinus or seachesnut, cockles, oysters, and the like ; sprinkling oil on the surface, when necessary; and taking them up with iron instruments fastened in long poles. The sea polypus lurks at the bottom of the water. We found the pinna marina with the pointed ends of the two shells fixed in the mud, and the fan or broad part open. The fish is like a muscle, and occupies only the lower portion; but each has guards, a kind of shrimp, generally two or three in number, which live in the vacant space, and give it notice to shut up on the approach of danger. We slept on shore, often in scanty shade; and rambled on the mountains, which are covered with low bushes of lentiscus or mastic. We killed some partridges, and I was assured, that in this region they are heard to sing, and sometimes are seen perching. It was amusing to view the waves raging, and to listen to the roar about the headlands and promontories; while in the lee it was stark calm. The experienced mariner judges of the storm unfelt and unseen, and is directed by the noise to launch forth, or to tarry in the portlet. :

* The ancients knew this property of oil. Pliny tells us, “ Mare omne oleo tranquillari; et ob id urinantes ore spargere, quoniam mitiget naturam asperam lucemque deportet.” v. 2. p. 122. See also Plutarch.

it See Oppian, Cyneg. I. 4. and a beautiful simile in Q. Smyrnæus, 1. 7. v. 568.

AMOLE

MUSEUM
OXFORD

We landed by the ferry, where some passengers waited the return of the boat; but I found no vestiges of a temple. We visited a monastery opposite to it in the island. This is a recent structure, pleasantly situated, not far from the sea. We replenished our skins and vessels there with wine, and dined under a tree. We touched also on the Pharmacusæ, now called Megala Kira and Micra Kira. A ruinous church on one of them afforded us shelter from the sun. We coasted the level Thriasian plain, then green with corn, and entered the port of Eleusis. We left our wherries, and passed through corn to the village, which is at some distance. A respite from fish, sea-weed fried in batter, and the like fare was not unacceptable. existing in filth, or that any person, from the sole merit of initiation, would obtain a place in the islands of the happy.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Ceres was supposed to be particularly partial to Eleusis and its vicinity. There were the memorials of her presence and of her bounty; the well named Callichorus, by which she had rested, in the reign of Erectheus; the stone, on which she sate, named The Sorrowful; the Rharian plain, where barley was first sown ; and the threshing.floor and altar of Triptolemus, a herdsman, whom she instructed in the culture of that grain, the use of which succeeded to acorns. There also the grand mysteries were celebrated. This exhibition enriched Eleusis, which had increased to a city. The Athenians reduced it to the rank of their demi or towns, but still the reputation of the goddess was unsullied. Her mysteries continued to possess a pre-eminence in holiness, and to be accounted as much superior to all other religious festivals, as the gods were to the heroes. Even the garments, worn at the solemnity, were supposed to partake of their efficacy, and to be endued with signal virtues. It was usual to retain them until they were perishing, and then to dedicate them in the temple, or to reserve them for the purpose of enwrapping new-born children.

The mystic temple, as it was called, provided by Pericles for the solemnity, created such awe by its sanctity, as could be equalled only by the effect of its beauty and magnitude, which excited astonishment in every beholder. The profane, or uninitiated were forbidden to enter it on any pretence. Two young Acarnanians happened inadvertently to mix with the crowd at the season of the mysteries, and to go in; but the questions suggested by their ignorance presently betrayed them, and their intrusion was punished with death. "The chief priest, hierophant, or mystagogue, was taken from the Eumolpidæ, a holy family flourishing at Athens, and descended from Eumolpus, a shepherd and favourite of Ceres. He was enjoined celibacy, and wore a stole or long garment, his hair, and a wreath of myrtle. The grand requisites in his character were strength and melody of voice, solemnity of deportment, magnificence, and great decorum. Under him, besides many of inferior station, was the Daduchus or torchbearer, who had likewise his hair, with a fillet; the priest, who officiated at the altar ; and the hiero-ceryx or sacred herald ; all very important personages. The latter was of a family, which claimed the god Mercury and Aglauros the daughter of Cecrops for its ancestors.

The secrecy, in which the mysteries were enveloped, served to enhance the idea of their consequence, and to increase the desire of participation. It was so particular, that no person was allowed even to name the hierophant, by whom he had been initiated. Public abhorrence and detestation awaited the babbler, and the law directed he should die. Augustus Cæsar dismissed his council and all the assembly, when a cause, respecting the privileges of the priests of Ceres came before his tribunal at Rome. Pausanias declares, he was forbidden by a dream to describe what was contained within the sacred wall; and adds, that as it was unlawful for the profane to be present, so it was for them even to hear the mysteries revealed. The violating of this inveterate taciturnity, and the removing of the barrier, was reserved to a later age, when uniformity in religion had ceased, and the civil power was weak or divided by jarring parties ; the various sectaries striving to procure or retain their proselytes, and mutually struggling for superiority. The dark transactions of that

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »