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The harbour of Epidaurus is long. Its periplus or circuit was fifteen stadia, or near two miles. The entrance is between mountains, and on a small rocky peninsula on the left hand are ruins of a modern fortress. This, it seems, was t point on which a temple of Juno stood. It is frequented by vessels for wood or corn; and near the upper end is a beautiful young palm-tree, flourishing by the sea-side.
Land in Epidauria-Set out on foot for the grove of Æscula
pius--At Liguri6—The evening --Remains by Ligurió.
We landed in the Morea, about half an hour from Epiyatha, a village on a high mountain, by a large fortress, in view ; about two hours from Epidaurus, which is more within the bay ; intending to visit the grove of Æsculapius and his temple, which was five miles from that city. We sent to Epi-yatha, but the people were engaged in harvest-work, and their beasts could not be spared. The locusts were very numerous. Night approached. We lay on the shore, not far from a small lake running into the sea, the stream full of fish, and supplied by cold and clear water rushing in, very copiously, from beneath a rock. We made fires of cow-dung, hoping the smoke would drive away the gnats, but were still tormented by them exceedingly.
Our messengers returned again from Epi-yatha, early in the morning, and informed us, that no beasts could be procured. We were impatient to change our quarters. Our sleep had been much disturbed; the air was reputed very unhealthy; and the wine, being impregnated with lime, was deemed as ruinous to the stomach, and as intoxicating, as pleasant to the eye and taste. I now determined to tarry there no longer, and taking an umbrella set out on foot, attended by our janizary, a servant, and two sailors, armed and carrying provisions and other necessaries. We passed by the fortress of Epi-yatha, over hills, and through dales and ripe corn. The streams and fountains, which occured on the way, with the myrtles and ever-greens in the water courses, afforded us refreshment; or the excessive heat of the sun would have been insupportable. It was mid-day when we arrived greatly fatigued at Ligurió.
Ligurio is the name of four separate villages, or of a district. The place, where we stopped, is clean, and enjoys a good air. It is pleasantly seated on the side of a hill, the plain beneath it overspread with vines producing a strong red wine, which is deservedly in great repute. They infuse resin instead of lime. The people were abroad in the fields, and we tarried under a shady tree some time, until we were better accommodated by an Albanian woman. The house was neat though mean, and much recommended afterwards by the honest heartiness of its owner her husband, and of his family.
I had expected to find at Ligurió the sacred possession of Æsculapius, but was told, that the ruins were at Gérao, about an hour distant. In the evening an Albanian peasant with a caloyer, or monk, offered to conduct me to the spot; and the janizary with the sailors desired to accompany me. On our return, the villagers, who had been employed in their harvestwork, readily furnished as many beasts as were required, and offered to proceed with them by moonlight to Epi-yatha. After supping on the ground before the house, a violin was procured. The janizary played, and the Albanians and Greeks began singing and dancing, with their usual alacrity. When they had finished, we lay dispersed, in the open air, in the area of the court. The next day about noon, my companions arrived, greatly fatigued, and one of them ill'; their attendants also complaining of their sufferings by the sea-side and on the road.
On a summit near Ligurió are some vestiges, it is supposed, of Lessa, once a village with a temple and statue of Minerva near the confines of Epidauria and Argolis, or the territory of Argos. Below, at the foot of the opposite mountain, is the ruin of a quadrangular structure; the masonry of the species styled Incertum, the sides inclining as in a pyramid. Lessa fronted the road leading by the temple of Æsculapius to Epidaurus ; and a track beneath Ligurió now passes through the plain by Gerao to that port..
The grove of Æsculapius-His statue and temple--Inscriptions
--The stadium-The theatre--Mount Cynortium--Water, fc.-Serpents.
The grove of Æsculapius was inclosed by mountains, within which all the sacrifices, as well of the Epidaurians as of strangers, were consumed. One was called Titthion, and on this the god, when an infant, was said to have been exposed, and to have been suckled by a she-goat. He was a great physician, and his temple was always crowded with sick
persons. Beyond it was the dormitory of the suppliants ; and near it, a circular edifice called the Tholus, built by Polycletus, of white marble, worth seeing. The grove, besides other temples, was adorned with a portico, and a fountain remarkable for its roof and decorations. The bath of Æsculapius was one of the benefactions of Antoninus Pius, while a Roman Senator ; as was also a house for the reception of pregnant women, and dying persons, who before were removed out of the inclosure, to be delivered, or to expire in the open air. The remains are heaps of stones, pieces of brick wall, and scattered fragments of marble; besides some churches, or rather piles of rubbish mis-called, being destitute of doors, roofs, or any kind of ornament.
The statue of Æsculapius was half as big as that of Jupiter Olympius at Athens. It was made of ivory and gold, and as the inscription proved, by Thrasymedes son of Arignotus of Paros. He was represented sitting, holding his staff, with one hand on the head of a serpent, and a dog lying by him. Two Argive heroes, Bellerophon combating with the monster Chimæra, and Perseus severing the head of Medusa, were carved on the throne. Many tablets described the cures performed by the deity, yet he had not escaped contumely and robbery. Dionysius deprived him of his golden beard, affirming it was very unseemly in him to appear in that manner, when his father Apollo was always seen with his face smooth. Sylla amassed the precious offerings belonging to him and to Apollo and Jupiter at Delphi and Olympia, to pay his army before Athens. The marks in the walls testified that a great number had been plucked down. A few fragments of white marble, exquisitely carved, occur in the heap of the temple.
The inclosure of the temple once abounded in inscription
In the second century six marbles remained, on which were written, in the Doric dialect, the names of men and women, who had been patients of the god, with the distemper each had laboured under, and the remedies he had directed. We found only a couple of votive inscriptions, and two pedestals of statues, one of which represented a Roman, and was erected by the city of the Epidaurians. The divine prescriptions have perished, or are buried in the ruin, but a specimen is extant* from similar records, once preserved in his temple in the isle of Tiber near Rome. The complaint was spitting of blood, and the person deemed incurable ; but Æsculapius prevailed. He was restored, and returned thanks publicly before the people.
The stadium was near the temple. It was of earth, as most in Greece were. At the upper end are seats of stone, but these were continued along the sides only a few yards. A vaulted passage leading underneath into the area, now choked up, was a private way by which the Agonothetæ, or presidents, with the priests and persons of distinction entered.
Two large cisterns or reservoirs remain, made by Antoninus for the reception of rain-water. One measured ninety-nine feet long, and thirty-seven wide. Beyond them is a dry water-course, and in the mountain-side, on the right hand, are the marble seats of the theatre, overgrown with bushes. We regretted that the Proscenium, or front, was vanished, as this fabric was also the work of Polycletus, and much admired. The Roman theatres, as Pausanias observes, far exceeded all in ornament, and in size that of Megalopolis in Arcadia; but,
* See Comment on Strabo, p. 164, or Gruter Inscript. p. 72.