Part 2 out of 2
Olympos were there, and athletes of years gone by, wrestling, running,
hurling the disc. There were bronze chariots with horses of bronze to
draw them and men of bronze to hold the reins. There were heroes of Troy
still fighting. And here and there were little altars of marble or
stone or earth or ashes with an ancient, holy statue. At every one the
procession halted. The priests poured a libation and chanted a prayer.
The people sang a hymn. Many left gifts piled about the altar. Before
Hermes Charmides left his little clay image of the god. And while
the priests prayed aloud, the boy sent up a whispered prayer for his
Once the procession came before a low, narrow temple. It was of
sun-dried bricks coated with plaster. Its columns were all different
from one another. Some were slender, others thick; some fluted, others
plain; and all were brightly painted. Charmides smiled up at his father.
"It is not so beautiful as the Parthenon," he said.
"No," his father answered, "but it is very old and very holy. Every
generation of man has put a new column here. That is why they are not
alike. This is the ancient temple of Hera."
Then they entered the door. Down the long aisle they walked between
small open rooms on either side. Here stood statues gazing out--some of
marble, some of gold and ivory. The priests had moved to the front and
stood praying before the ancient statues of Zeus and Hera. But suddenly
Charmides stopped and would go no farther. For here, in a little room
all alone, stood his Hermes with the baby Dionysus. The boy cried out
softly with joy and crept toward the lovely thing. He gently touched the
golden sandal. He gazed into the kind blue eyes and smiled. The marble
was delicately tinted and glowed like warm skin. A frail wreath of
golden leaves lay on the curling hair. Charmides looked up at the tiny
baby and laughed at its coaxing arms.
"Are you smiling at him?" he whispered to Hermes. "Or are you dreaming
of Olympos? Are you carrying him to the nymphs on Mount Nysa?" And then
more softly still he said, "Do not forget Creon, blessed god."
When his father came back he found him still gazing into the quiet face
and smiling tenderly with love of the beautiful thing. As Menon led him
away, he waved a loving farewell to the god.
The most wonderful time was after the sacrifice to Zeus before the great
temple with its deep porches and its marble watchers in the gable.
The altar was a huge pile of ashes. For hundreds of years Greeks had
sacrificed here. The holy ashes had piled up and piled up until they
stood as a hill more than twenty feet high. The people waited around the
foot of it, watching. The priests walked up its side. Men led up the
sleek cattle to be slain for the feast of the gods. And on the very top
a fire leaped toward heaven. Far up in the sky Charmides could half
see the beautiful gods leaning down and smiling upon their worshiping
Then he turned and walked with the crowd under the temple porch and into
the great, dim room. He trembled and grasped his father's hand in awe.
For there in the soft light towered great Zeus. In embroidered robes of
dull gold he sat high on his golden throne. His hands held his scepter
and his messenger eagle. His great yellow curls almost touched the
ceiling. He bent his divine face down, and his deep eyes glowed upon his
people. Sweet smoke was curling upward, and the room rang with a hymn.
As Charmides gazed into the solemn face, a strange light quivered about
it, and the boy's heart shook with awe. The words of Homer sprang to his
"Zeus bowed his head. The divine hair streamed back from the kindly
brows, and great Olympos quaked."
After the sacrifices were over there was time to wander again among the
statues and to sit on the benches under the cool porches and watch the
moving crowd and the glittering sun on the gold ornaments of the temple
peaks. Then there was time to see again the strange sights of the fair
in the plain. The next morning was noisier and gayer than anything
Charmides had ever known. While it was still twilight his father hurried
him down the hill and through the gates, on through the sacred enclosure
to another gate. And all about them was a hurrying, noisy crowd. They
stumbled up some steps and began to wait. As the light grew, Charmides
saw all about him men and boys, sitting or standing, and all gaily
talking. Below the crowd he saw a long, narrow stretch of ground. He
clapped his hands. That was the ground Creon's feet would run upon! Up
and down both sides of the track went long tiers of stone seats. They
were packed with people who were there to see Creon win. The seats
curved around one narrow end of the course. But across the other end
stood a wall with a gate. Menon pointed to a large white board hanging
on the wall and said, "See! The list of athletes."
Here were written names, and among them, "Creon, son of the Olympic
winner Menon." Charmides' eyes glowed with pride.
Every eye was watching the gate. Soon the purple-clad judges entered.
Some of them walked the whole length of the stadion and took their seats
opposite the goal posts. Two or three waited at the starting line. There
was a blast of a trumpet. Then a herald cried something about games
for boys and about only Greeks of pure blood and about the blessing of
Hermes of the race course.
Immediately there entered a crowd of boys, while the spectators sent
up a rousing cheer. The lads gathered to cast lots for places. At last
eight of them stepped out and stood at the starting line. Creon was not
among them. A post with a little fluttering flag was between every two.
The boys threw off their clothes and stood ready. One of the judges said
"The eyes of the world are upon you. Your cities love an Olympic winner.
From Olympos the gods look down upon you. For the glory of your cities,
for the joy of your fathers, for your own good name, I exhort you to do
Then he gave the signal and the runners shot forward. Down the long
course they went with twinkling legs. The spectators cheered, called
their names, waved their chlamyses and himations. Their friends cried
to the gods to help. Down they ran, two far ahead, others stringing out
behind. Every runner's eyes were on the marble goal post with its little
statue of Victory. In a moment it was over, and Leotichides had first
laid hand upon the post and was winner of the first heat.
Immediately eight other boys took their places at the starting line.
Charmides snatched his father's hand and held it tight, for Creon was
one of them. Another signal and they were off, with Creon leading by
a pace or two. So it was all the way, and he gave a glad shout as he
touched the goal post.
Charmides heard men all about him say:
"A beautiful run!"
"How easily he steps!"
"We shall see him do something in the last heat."
"Who is he?"
And when the herald announced the name of the winner, the benches buzzed
"Creon, Creon, son of Menon the Athenian."
Four more groups were called and ran. Then the six winners stepped up
to the line. This time the goal was the altar at the farther end of the
stadion. A wave of excitement ran around the seats. Everybody leaned
forward. The signal! Leotichides sprang a long pace ahead. Next came
Creon, loping evenly. One boy stumbled and fell behind. The other three
were running almost side by side. Menon was muttering between his teeth:
"Hermes, be his aid! Great Zeus look upon him! Herakles give him wind!"
Now they were near the goal, and Leotichides was still leading by a
stride. Then Creon threw back his head and stretched out his legs and
with ten great leaps he had touched the altar a good pace ahead. He had
won the race.
The crowd went wild with shouting. Menon leaped over men's heads and
went running down the course calling for his son. But the guards caught
him and forced him back upon the seats. Charmides sat down and wept for
joy. And nobody saw him, for everybody was cheering and watching the
One of the judges stepped out and gave a torch to Creon. The boy touched
the flame to the pile on the altar. As the fire sprang up, he stretched
his hands to the sky and cried,
"O blessed Hermes, Creon will not forget thy help."
As he turned away the judge gave him a palm in sign of victory. The boy
walked back down the course with the palm waving over his shoulder. His
body was glistening, his cheeks were flushed, his eyes were burning
with joy. He was looking up at the crowd, hoping to see his father and
brother. And at every step men reached out a hand to him or called
to him, until at last Menon's own loving arms pulled him up upon the
benches. Then there was such a noise that no one heard any one else, but
everybody knew that everybody was happy. Men pushed their heads over
other men's shoulders, and boys peeped between their fathers' legs to
see the Olympic winner. And in that circle of faces Menon stood with
his arms about Creon, laughing and crying. And Charmides clung to his
brother's hand. But at last Creon whispered to his father:
"I must go and make ready. I am entered for the pentathlon, also."
Menon cried out in wonder.
"I kept that news for a surprise," laughed Creon. "Good-by, little one,"
he said to Charmides, and pushed through the crowd.
Menon sat down trembling. If his boy should win in the pentathlon also!
That would be too great glory. It could not happen. He began to mutter a
hundred prayers. Another race was called--the double race, twice around
the course. But Menon did not stand to see it. He could think of nothing
but his glorious son. After the race was another great shout. Some other
boy was carrying a palm. Some other father was proud. Then followed
wrestling, bout after bout, and cheering from the crowd. But Menon cared
little for it all.
It was now near noon. The sun shone down scorchingly. A wind whirled
dust up from the race course into people's faces.
"My throat needs wetting," cried a man.
He pulled off a little vase of wine that hung from his girdle and passed
it to Menon, saying:
"I should be proud if the father of the victor would drink from my
And Menon took it, smiling proudly. Then he himself opened a little
cloth bag and drew out figs and nuts.
"Here is something to munch, lad," he said to Charmides.
Other people, also, were eating and drinking. They walked about to visit
their friends or sat down to rest. Menon's neighbor sank upon his seat
with a sigh.
"This is the first time I have sat down since sunrise," he laughed.
Then the pentathlon was announced. Everyone leaped to his feet again. A
group of boys stood ready behind a line. One of the judges was softening
the ground with a pick. An umpire made a speech to the lads. Then, at a
word, a boy took up the lead jumping weights. He swung his hands back
and forth, swaying his graceful body with them. Then a backward jerk! He
threw his weights behind him and leaped. The judges quickly measured
and called the distance. Then another boy leaped, and another, and
another--twenty or more. Last Creon took the weights and toed the line.
"Creon! Creon!" shouted the crowd: "The victor! Creon again!"
He swung and swayed and then sailed through the air.
"By Herakles!" shouted a man near Charmides. "He alights like a
There went up a great roar from the benches even before the judges
called the distance. For any one could see that he had passed the
farthest mark. The first of the five games was over and Creon had won
Now the judges brought a discus. A boy took it and stepped behind the
line. He fitted the lead plate into the crook of his hand. He swung it
back and forth, bending his knees and turning his body. Then it flew
into the air and down the course. Where it stopped rolling an umpire
marked and called the distance.
"I like this game best of all," said a man behind Charmides. "The whole
body is in it. Every movement is graceful. See the curve of the back,
the beautiful bend of the legs, the muscles working over the chest! The
body moves to and fro as if to music."
One after another the boys took their turn. But when Creon threw,
Charmides cried out in sorrow, and Menon groaned. His disc fell short of
the mark. He was third.
"It was gracefully done," Charmides heard some one say, "but his arms
are not so good as his legs. See the arms and chest of that Timon. No
one can throw against him."
After that a judge set up a shield in the middle of the course. Every
boy snatched a spear from a pile on the ground and threw at the central
boss of the shield. Again Creon was beaten. Phormio of Corinth, son of a
famous warrior, won.
Then they paired off for wrestling. Creon and Eudorus of Aegina were
together. Each boy poured oil into his hand from a little vase and
rubbed the body of his antagonist to limber his muscles. Then he took
fine sand from a box and dusted it over his skin for the oiled body
might slip out of his arms in the wrestling match. Then, at a signal,
the pairs of wrestlers faced each other.
Creon held his hands out ready, bent his knees, thrust forward his head,
and stood waiting. Eudorus leaped to and fro around him trying to get a
hold. At last he rushed at him. Creon caught him around the waist and
hurled him to the ground. Charmides laughed and shouted and clapped
his hands. That was one throw. There must be three. Eudorus was up
immediately and was circling around and around again. Suddenly Creon
leaped low and caught him by the leg and threw him. He had won two bouts
out of three and stood victor without a throw.
Soon all the pairs had finished. The eight victors stood forth and cast
lots for new partners. Again they wrestled. This time, also, Creon won.
Then these four winners paired off and wrestled, and at the end Creon
and Timon were left to try it together.
In the first bout the Spartan boy lifted Creon off the ground and threw
him, back down. Then the men on the benches began shouting advice.
"Look out for his arms!"
"Don't let him grapple you!"
Creon leaped to his feet. He began circling around Timon as Eudorus had
circled around him. He dodged out from under Timon's arms. He wriggled
from between his hands. The benches rang with cheers and laughs.
"He is an eel," cried one man.
Suddenly Creon ducked under Timon's arms, caught him by his legs and
tripped him. The two boys were even.
In the next bout Timon ran at Creon like a wild bull. He caught him
around the waist in his strong arms to whirl him to the ground. But with
a crook of his leg Creon tripped him and wriggled out of his arms before
Menon caught up Charmides and threw him to his shoulder laughing and
stamping his feet.
"Do you see, lad?" he cried. "He has won two games. Only the race is
left, and we know how he can run."
And how he did run! He threw back his head and leaped out like a deer,
skimming over the ground in long strides and leaving his dust to the
others. He had the three games out of five and was winner of the
Then there was no holding the crowd. They poured down off the seats and
ran to Creon. Some lifted him upon their shoulders and carried him out
of the stadion, for this was the end of the games for that day. And
those who could not come near Creon and his waving palms crowded around
Menon. So they went, shouting, out of the gate and among the statues and
on to the river. There they put Creon down, and his father and Charmides
led him away to camp.
That was the happiest night of Charmides' life. He heard his wonderful
brother talk for hours of the life in the gymnasium. He heard new tales
of Creon's favorite god, Hermes. He heard of the women's games that were
held once a year at Olympia in honor of Hera. He heard a hundred new
names of boys and cities, for there had been, athletes from every corner
of Greece in training here. He held the victor's palms in his own hands.
He slept beside this double winner of Olympic crowns. He dreamed that
Apollo and Hermes came hand in hand and gazed down at him and Creon as
they lay sleeping and dropped a great garland over them both. It was
twined of Olympic olive leaves and Apollo's own laurel.
On the next day there were games for the men, like those the boys had
played. On the day after that there were chariot races in a wide place
outside the walls. Every night there was still the gay noise of the
fair. But instead of going to see it, Charmides stretched himself under
the trees on Mount Kronion and gazed up at the moon and dreamed.
Then came the last day, with its great procession again and its
sacrifices at every altar. The proud victors walked with their palm
leaves in their hands. In the temple of Zeus, under the eyes of the
glowing god, the priests put the precious olive crowns upon the winners'
heads. They were made from sacred olive leaves. They were cut with a
golden sickle from the very tree that godlike Herakles had brought out
of the far north. That wreath it was which should be more dear than a
chest of gold to Creon's family and Creon's city. That was the crown
which poets should sing about. When the priest set the crown upon
Creon's head, Charmides thought he felt a god's hands upon his own brow.
Menon leaned upon a friend's shoulder and burst into tears.
"I could die happy now," he said. "I have done enough for Athens in
giving her such a glorious son."
As the three walked back to camp, Menon said:
"Who shall write your chorus of triumph, Creon? Already my messengers
have reached Athens, and the dancers are chosen who shall lead you home.
But the song is not yet made. It must be a glorious one!"
Then Charmides blushingly whispered,
"May I sing you something, father? Apollo helped me to make it."
His father smiled down in surprise. "So that is why you have been lying
so quiet under the trees these moonlit nights!" he said.
Charmides ran ahead and was sitting thrumming a lyre when his father
and Creon came up. He struck a long, ringing chord and raised his clear
voice in a dancing song:
When Creon, son of Menon, bore off the Olympic olive,
Mount Kronion shook with shouting of Hellas' hosts assembled.
They praised his manly beauty, his grace and strength of body.
They praised his eyes' alertness, the smoothness of his muscles.
They blessed his happy father and wished themselves his brothers.
Sweet rang the glorious praises in ears of Creon's lovers.
But I, when upward gazing, beheld a sight more wondrous.
The gates of high Olympos were open wide and clanging,
Deserted ev'ry palace, the golden city empty.
And all the gods were gathered above Olympia's race-course,
They smiled upon my Creon and gifts upon him showered.
From golden Aphrodite dropped half a hundred graces.
Athene made him skillful. Boon Hermes gave him litheness.
Fierce Ares added courage, Queen Hera happy marriage.
Diana's blessed fingers into his soul shed quiet.
Lord Bacchus gave him friendship and graces of the banquet,
Poseidon luck in travel, and Zeus decreed him victor.
Apollo, smiling, watched him and saw his thousand blessings.
"Enough," he said, "for Creon. I'll bless the empty-handed."
He turned to where I trembled, and stepping downward crowned me.
"To thee my gift," he whispered, "to sing thy brother's glory."
"Well done, little poet!" cried Menon.
"A happy man am I. One son is beloved by Hermes, the other by Apollo.
Bring wax tablets, Glaucon, and write down the song. I will prepare a
messenger to hurry with it to Athens."
So it happened that a lame boy won a crown. And when Creon stepped
ashore at Pirseus, and all Athens stood shouting his name, a chorus of
boys came dancing toward him singing his brother's song. Creon was led
home wearing Zeus' wreath upon his head, and Charmides with Apollo's
crown in his heart. [Illustration: _A Coin of Alexander the Great_. It
shows Zeus sitting on his throne.]
HOW A CITY WAS LOST
Such was Olympia long ago. Every four years such games took place. Then
the plain was crowded and busy and gay. Year after year new statues were
set up, new gifts were brought, new buildings were made. Olympia was
one of the richest places in the world. Its fame flew to every land. At
every festival new people came to see its beauties. It was the meeting
place of the world.
But meantime the bad fortune of Greece began. Her cities quarreled and
fought among themselves. A king came down from the north and conquered
her. After that the Romans sailed over from Italy and conquered her
again. Often Roman emperors carried off some of her statues to make Rome
beautiful. Shipload after shipload they took. The new country was filled
with Greek statues. The old one was left almost empty. Later, after
Christ was born, and the Romans and the Greeks had become Christian, the
"It is not fitting for Christians to hold a festival in honor of a
heathen god." And he stopped the games. He took away the gold and silver
gifts from the treasure houses. He carried away the gold and ivory
statues. Where Phidias' wonderful Zeus went nobody knows. Perhaps the
gold was melted to make money. Olympia sat lonely and deserted by her
river banks. Summer winds whirled dust under her porches. Rabbits made
burrows in Zeus' altar. Doors rusted off their hinges. Foxes made their
dens in Hera's temple. Men came now and then to melt up a bronze statue
for swords or to haul away the stones of her temples for building.
The Alpheios kept eating away its banks and cutting under statues and
monuments. Many a beautiful thing crumbled and fell into the river and
was rolled on down to the sea. Men sometimes found a bronze helmet or a
marble head in the bed of the stream.
After a long time people came and lived among the ruins. On an old
temple floor they built a little church. Men lived in the temple of
Zeus, and women spun and gossiped where the golden statue had sat. In
the temple of Hera people set up a wine press. Did they know that the
little marble baby in the statue near them was the god of the vineyard
and had taught men to make wine? Out of broken statues and columns and
temple stones they built a wall around the little town to keep out their
enemies. Sometimes when they found a bronze warrior or a marble god they
must have made strange stories about it, for they had half forgotten
those wonderful old Greeks. But the marble statues they put into a kiln
to make lime to plaster their houses. The bronze ones they melted up for
tools. Sometimes they found a piece of gold. They thought themselves
lucky then and melted it over into money.
But an earthquake shook down the buildings and toppled over the statues.
The columns and walls of the grand old temple of Zeus fell in a heap.
The marble statues in its pediments dropped to the ground and broke.
Victory fell from her high pillar and shattered into a hundred pieces.
The roof of Hera's temple fell in, and Hermes stood uncovered to the
sky. Old Kronion rocked and sent a landslide down over the treasure
houses. Kladeos rushed out of his course and poured sand over the sacred
That earthquake frightened the people away, and they left Olympia alone
again. Hermes was still there, but he looked out upon ruins. Victory lay
in a heap of fragments. Apollo was there, but broken and buried in earth
with the other people of the pediments. Zeus and all the hundreds of
heroes and athletes were gone. So it was for a while. Then a new race of
people came and built another little town upon the earth-covered ruins.
They little guessed what lay below their poor houses. But for some
reason this town, also, died and left the ruins alone. Then dusty winds
and flooding rivers began to cover up what was left. Kladeos piled up
sand fifteen feet deep. Alpheios swung out of its banks and washed away
the race-course for chariots. Under the rains and floods the sun-dried
bricks of Hera's walls melted again into clay and covered the floor.
Again the earth quaked, and Hermes fell forward on his face, and little
was left of the beautiful old Olympia. Grass and flowers crept in from
the sides. Seeds blew in and shrubs and trees took the place of columns.
Soon the flowers and the animals had Olympia to themselves. A few gray
stones thrust up through the soil. So it was for hundreds of years.
Greece was conquered by the men of Venice and then by the Turks. But
Olympia, in its far corner, was forgotten and untouched except when a
Turkish officer or farmer went there to dig a few stones out of the
ground. And they knew nothing of the ancient gods and the ancient
festival and the old story of the place, for they were foreigners and
But about a hundred years ago Englishmen and Germans and Frenchmen began
to visit Greece. They went to see, not her new Turkish houses or her
Venetian castles or the strange dress of her new people, but her old
ruins and the signs of her old glory. These men had read of Olympia in
ancient Greek books and they knew what statues and buildings had once
stood there. They wrote back to their friends things like this:
"I saw a piece of a huge column lying on top of the ground. It was seven
feet across. It must have belonged to the temple of Zeus."
"To-day I saw a long, low place in the ground where I think must have
been the stadion in ancient days."
At last, about thirty years ago, Ernst Curtius and several other Germans
went there. They were men who had studied Greek history and Greek art
and they planned to excavate Olympia.
"We will uncover the sacred enclosure again. Men shall see again the
ancient temples and altars, the stadion, the statues."
Germany had given them money for the work, and at last Greece allowed
them to begin. In October they started their digging. Workmen up-rooted
shrubs and dug away dirt. Excavators watched every spadeful. They were
always measuring, making maps, taking notes. They found a few vases,
terra cotta figures, pieces of bronze statues, swords and armor. They
cleared off temple floors and were able to make out the plans of the old
buildings. They found the empty pedestals of many statues. Yet they were
disappointed. Olympia had been a beautiful place, a rich place. They
were finding only the hints of these things. The beauty was gone. Of the
three thousand statues that had been there should they not find one?
Then they uncovered the fallen statues of the pediments of Zeus' temple.
Thirty or more there were--Apollo, Zeus, heroes, women, centaurs,
horses. Arms were gone, heads were broken, legs were lost. The
excavators fitted together all the pieces and set the mended statues up
side by side as they had been in the gable. They found, too, the carved
marble slabs that showed the labors of Herakles. But even these were not
the lovely things that people had hoped to see from Olympia. They were
rather stiff and ungraceful. They had not been made by the greatest
artists. In the temple of Hera one day men were digging in clay. Over
all the rest of Olympia was only sand. The excavators wondered for a
long time why this one spot should have clay. Where could it have come
from? They read their old books over and over. They thought and studied.
At last they said:
"The walls of the temple must have been made of sun-dried brick. In the
old days they must have been covered with plaster. This and the roof
kept them dry. But the plaster cracked off, and the roof fell in, and
the rain and the floods turned the bricks back to clay again."
Then one May morning, when the men were digging in the clay, a workman
lifted off his spadeful of dirt, and white marble gleamed out. After
that there was careful work, with all the excavators standing about to
watch. What would it be? They thought over all the statues that the
ancient books said had stood in Hera's temple. Then were slowly
uncovered, a smooth back, a carved shoulder, a curly head. A white
statue of a young man lay face down in the gray clay. The legs were
gone. The right arm was missing. From his left hung carved drapery. On
his left shoulder lay a tiny marble hand.
"It is the Hermes of Praxiteles," the excavators whispered among
In his day Praxiteles had been almost as famous as Phidias. The old
Greek world had rung with his praises. Modern men had dreamed of what
his statues must have been and had longed to see them. How did he shape
the head? How did his bodies curve? What expression was on his faces?
All these things they had wished to know. But not one of his statues
had ever been found. Now here lay one before the very eyes of these
excavators. They put out their hands and lovingly touched the polished
marble skin. But what would they find when they lifted it?--Perhaps the
nose would be gone, the face flattened by the fall, the ears broken, the
beautiful marble chipped. They almost feared to lift it. But at last
they did so.
When they saw the face, they were struck dumb by its beauty, and I think
tears sprang into the eyes of some of them. No such perfect piece of
marble had ever been found before. There was not a scratch. The skin
still glowed with the polishing that Praxiteles' own hands had given it.
There was even a hint of color on the lips. The soft clay bed had saved
the falling statue. Here was a statue that the whole world would love.
It would make the name of Olympia famous again. The excavators were
proud and happy. That old ruined temple seemed indeed a sacred place to
them as they gazed upon perhaps the most beautiful statue in the world.
"Surely we shall find nothing else so perfect," they said.
Yet they went on with the work. Before long Hermes' right foot was found
imbedded in the clay. Its sandal still shone with the gilding put on two
thousand years before. Workmen were tearing down one of the houses of
the little town that had been built on the ancient ruins. Every stone in
it had some old story. Pieces of fluted columns, carved capitals, broken
pedestals, blocks from the temple of Zeus--all were cemented together to
make these walls. The workmen pulled and chipped and lifted out piece
after piece. The excavators studied each scrap to see whether it was
valuable. And at last they found a baby's body. They carefully broke off
the mortar. It was of creamy marble, beautifully carved. They carried it
to Hermes. It fitted upon the drapery over his arm. On a rubbish heap
outside the temple they had found a little marble head. They put it upon
this baby's shoulders. It was badly broken, but they could see that it
belonged there. So after two thousand years Hermes again smiled into the
eyes of the baby Dionysus.
Other things were found. The shattered Victory was uncovered. Carefully
the excavators fitted the pieces together. But the wide wings could
never be made again, and the head was ruined. Even so, the statue is a
beautiful thing, with its thin drapery flying in the wind.
After five years the work was finished. Now again hundreds of visitors
journey to Olympia every year. They see no gleaming roofs and
high-lifted statues and joyful games. They walk among sad ruins. But
they can tread the gymnasium floor where Creon and many another victor
wrestled. They can enter the gate of the grass-grown stadion. They can
see the fallen columns of the temple of Zeus. In the museum they can see
the statues of its pediments and, at the end of the long hall, they
see Victory stepping toward them. They can wander on the banks of the
Kladeos and the Alpheios. They can climb Mount Kronion and see the whole
little plain and imagine it gay with tents and moving people.
All these things are interesting to those who like the old Greek life.
But most people make the long journey only to see Hermes. In the museum,
in a little room all alone, he stands, always calm and lovable, always
dreaming of something beautiful, always half smiling at the coaxing
PICTURES OF OLYMPIA
ENTRANCE TO STADION.
This was not the gate where Charmides entered. This entrance was
reserved for the judges, the competitors, and the heralds. Inside there
were seats for forty-five thousand people. On one side the hill made a
natural slope for seats. But on the other sides a ridge of earth had to
be built up. The track was about two hundred yards long. Only the two
ends have been excavated. The rest still lies deep under the sand.
Here Creon and the other boys spent a month in training before the
games. The gymnasium had a covered portico as long as the track in the
stadion, where the boys could run in bad weather. A Greek boy of to-day
is playing on his shepherd's pipes in the foreground, and they are the
same kind of pipes on which the old Greeks played.
BOYS IN GYMNASIUM.
From a vase painting. They are wrestling, jumping with weights, throwing
the spear, throwing the discus, while their teachers watch them. One man
is saying, "A beautiful boy, truly."
THE TEMPLE OF ZEUS.
When we see a picture of fallen broken columns lying about a field
in disorder, we try to learn how the original building looked and to
imagine it in all its beauty. This, men believe, is the way the Temple
of Zeus looked. The figures in the pediment were all of Parian marble.
In the center stands Zeus himself. A chariot race is about to be run,
and the contestants stand on either side of Zeus. Zeus gave the victory
to Pelops, and Pelops became husband of Hippodameia, and king of Pisa,
and founded the Olympic Games. These games were held every fourth year
for more than a thousand years.
Note: This and the following plates of the Labors of Herakles and the
statue of Victory, were photographed from Curtius and Adler's
"Olympia: Die Ergebnisse der von dem Deutschen Reich Veranstalteten
Ausgrabung," etc. This is one of the most beautiful books ever made
for a buried city.
Boys and girls who can reach the Metropolitan Museum Library should not
miss it. It is in many volumes, each almost as large as the top of the
table, and you do not need to read German to appreciate the plates.
THE LABORS OF HERAKLES.
Under the porches of the Temple of Zeus were twelve pictures in marble,
six at each end, showing the Labors of Herakles. Herakles was highly
honored at Olympia and, according to one tale, he, instead of Pelops,
was the founder of the Olympic Games.
[Illustration: Herakles and the Nemean lion.--_Metropolitan Museum_]
[Illustration: Herakles and the hydra.--_Metropolitan Museum_]
THE STATUE OF VICTORY.
In the sand, not far from the Temple of Zeus, the explorers found the
fragments of this statue. It shows the goddess flying down from heaven
to bring victory to the men of Messene and Naupaktos. So the victors
must have erected this statue at Olympia in gratitude.
Something like the picture used as the frontispiece, men believe the
statue looked originally. It stood upon a base thirty feet high so that
the goddess really looked as if she were descending from heaven.
THE TEMPLE OF HERA.
This shows the ruins of the temple where Charmides saw the statue of
Hermes, perhaps the most beautiful statue in the world.
HEAD OF AN ATHLETE.
The Greek artist who made this statue believed that a beautiful body is
glorious, as well as a beautiful mind, and a fine spirit. Do you
think his statue shows all these things? The original is now at the
A GREEK HORSEMAN.
The artist had great skill who could chisel out of marble such a strong,
bold rider, and such a spirited horse.
This picture and the one before it are not pictures of things found at
Olympia. They are two of the most beautiful statues of Greek athletes,
and we give them to remind you of the sort of people who came to the
games at Olympia.
HOW A LOST CITY WAS FOUND
Thirty years ago a little group of people stood on a hill in Greece. The
hilltop was covered with soft soil. The summer sun had dried the grass
and flowers, but little bushes grew thick over the ground. In this way
the hill was like an ordinary hill, but all around the edge of it ran
the broken ring of a great wall. In some places it stood thirty feet
above the earth. Here and there it was twenty feet thick. It was built
of huge stones. At one place a tower stood up. In another two stone
lions stood on guard. It was these ruined walls that interested the
people on the hill. One of the men was a Greek. A red fez was on his
head. He wore an embroidered jacket and loose white sleeves. A stiff
kilted skirt hung to his knees. He was pointing about at the wall and
talking in Greek to a lady and gentleman. They were visitors, come to
see these ruins of Mycenae.
"Once, long, long ago," he was saying, "a great city was inside these
walls. Giants built the walls. See the huge stones. Only giants could
lift them. It was a city of giants. See their great ovens."
He pointed down the hill at a doorway in the earth. "You cannot see well
from here. I will take you down. We can look in. A great dome, built of
stone, is buried in the earth. A passage leads into it, but it is filled
with dirt. We can look down through the broken top. The room inside is
bigger than my whole house. There giants used to bake their bread. Once
a wicked Turk came here. He was afraid of nothing. He said, 'The giants'
treasure lies in this oven. I will have it.' So he sent men down. But
they found only broken pieces of carved marble--no gold."
While the guide talked, the gentleman was tramping about the walls. He
peered into all the dark corners. He thrust a stick into every hole. He
rubbed the stones with his hands. At last he turned to his guide.
"You are right," he said. "There was once a great city inside these
walls. Houses were crowded together on this hill where we stand. Men and
women walked the streets of a city that is buried under our feet, but
they were not giants. They were beautiful women and handsome men.
"It was a famous old city, this Mycenae. Poets sang songs about her. I
have read those old songs. They tell of Agamemnon, its king, and his
war against Troy. They call him the king of men. They tell of his
gold-decked palace and his rich treasures and the thick walls of his
"But Agamemnon died, and weak kings sat in his palace. The warriors of
Mycenae grew few, and after hundreds of years, when the city was old and
weak, her enemies conquered her. They broke her walls, they threw down
her houses, they drove out her people. Mycenae became a mass of empty
ruins. For two thousand years the dry winds of summer blew dust over her
palace floors. The rains of winter and spring washed down mud from her
acropolis into her streets and houses. Winged seeds flew into the cracks
of her walls and into the corners of her ruined buildings. There they
sprouted and grew, and at last flowers and grass covered the ruins.
Now only these broken walls remain. You feed your sheep in the city of
Agamemnon. Down there on the hillside farmers have planted grain above
ancient palaces. But I will uncover this wonderful city. You shall see!
You shall see how your ancestors lived.
"Oh! for years I have longed to see this place. When I was a little boy
in Germany my father told me the old stories of Troy, and he told me of
how great cities were buried. My heart burned to see them. Then, one
night, I heard a man recite some of the lines of Homer. I loved the
beautiful Greek words. I made him say them over and over. I wept because
I was not a Greek. I said to myself, 'I will see Greece! I will study
Greek. I will work hard. I will make a bankful of money. Then I will
go to Greece. I will uncover Troy-city and see Priam's palace. I
will uncover Mycenae and see Agamemnon's grave.' I have come. I have
uncovered Troy. Now I am here. I will come again and bring workmen with
me. You shall see wonders." He walked excitedly around and around the
ruins. He told stories of the old city. He asked his wife to recite
the old tales of Homer. She half sang the beautiful Greek words. Her
husband's eyes grew wet as he listened.
This man's name was Dr. Henry Schliemann. He kept his word. He went
away but he came again in a few years. He hired men and horse-carts. He
rented houses in the little village. Myceae was a busy place again after
three thousand years. More than a hundred men were digging on the top
of this hill. They wore the fezes and kilts of the modern Greek. Little
two-wheeled horse-carts creaked about, loading and dumping.
Some of the men were working about the wall near the stone lions.
"This is the great gate of the city," said Dr. Schliemann. "Here the
king and his warriors used to march through, thousands of years ago. But
it is filled up with dirt. We must clear it out. We must get down to the
very stones they trod."
But it was slow work. The men found the earth full of great stone
blocks. They had to dig around them carefully, so that Dr. Schliemann
might see what they were.
"How did so many great stones come here?" they said among themselves.
Then Dr. Schliemann told them. He pointed to the wall above the gate.
"Once, long, long ago," he said, "the warriors of Mycenae stood up
there. Down here stood an army--the men of Argos, their enemies. The men
of Argos battered at the gate. They shot arrows at the men of Mycenae,
and the men of Mycenae shot at the Argives, and they threw down great
stones upon them. See, here is one of those broken stones, and here, and
here. After a long time the people of Mycenae had no food left in their
city. Their warriors fainted from hunger. Then the Argives beat down the
gate. They rushed into the city and drove out the people. They did not
want men ever again to live in Mycenae, so they took crowbars and tried
to tear down the wall. A few stones they knocked off. See, here, and
here, and here they are, where they fell off the wall. But these great
stones are very heavy. This one must weigh a hundred twenty tons,--more
than all the people of your village. So the Argives gave up the attempt,
and there stand the walls yet. Then the rain washed down the dirt from
the hill and covered these great stones, and now we are digging them out
The men worked at the gateway for many weeks. At last all the dirt and
the blocks had been cleared away. The tall gateway stood open. A hole
was in the stone door-casing at top and bottom. Schliemann put his hand
"See!" he cried. "Here turned the wooden hinge of the gate."
He pointed to another large hole on the side of the casing. "Here the
gatekeeper thrust in the beam to hold the gate shut."
Just inside the gate he found the little room where the keeper had
stayed. He found also two little sentry boxes high up on the wall. Here
guards had stood and looked over the country, keeping watch against
enemies. From the gate the wall bent around the edge of the hilltop,
shutting it in. In two places had been towers for watchmen. Inside this
great wall the king's palace and a few houses had been safe. Outside,
other houses had been built. But in time of war all the people had
flocked into the fortress. The gate had been shut. The warriors had
stood on the wall to defend their city.
But while some of Dr. Schliemann's men were digging at the gateway and
the wall, others were working outside the city. They were making a great
hole, a hundred and thirteen feet square. They put the dirt into baskets
and carried it to the little carts to be hauled away. And always Dr.
Schliemann and his wife worked with them. From morning until dusk every
day they were there. It was August, and the sun was hot. The wind blew
dust into their faces and made their eyes sore, and yet they were happy.
Every day they found some little thing that excited them,--a terra cotta
goblet, a broken piece of a bone lyre, a bronze ax, the ashes of an
At first Dr. Schliemann and his wife had fingered over every spadeful
of dirt. There might be something precious in it. "Dig carefully,
carefully!" Dr. Schliemann had said to the workmen. "Nothing must be
broken. Nothing must be lost. I must see everything. Perhaps a bit of a
broken vase may tell a wonderful story."
But during this work of many weeks he had taught his workmen how to dig.
Now each man looked over every spadeful of earth himself, as he dug it
up. He took out every scrap of stone or wood or pottery or metal and
gave it to Schliemann or his wife. So the excavators had only to study
these things and to tell the men where to work. When a man struck some
new thing with his spade, he called out. Then the excavators ran to
that place and dug with their own hands. When anything was found, Dr.
Schliemann sent it to the village. There it was kept in a house under
guard. At night Dr. Schliemann drew plans of Mycenae. He read again old
Greek books about the city. As he read he studied his plans. He wrote
"As soon as possible, I must tell the world about what we find," he said
to his wife. "People will love my book, because they love the stories of
There had been four months of hard work. A few precious things had
been uncovered,--a few of bronze and clay, a few of gold, some carved
gravestones. But were these the wonders Schliemann had promised? Was
this to be all? They had dug down more than twenty feet. A few more
days, and they would probably reach the solid rock. There could be
nothing below that. November was rainy and disagreeable. The men had to
work in the mud and wet. There was much disappointment on the hilltop.
Then one day a spade grated on gravel. Once before that had happened,
and they had found gold below. They called out to Dr. Schliemann. He and
his wife came quickly. Fire leaped into Schliemann's eyes.
"Stop!" he said. "Now I will dig. Spades are too clumsy."
So he and his wife dropped upon their knees in the mud. They dug with
their knives. Carefully, bit by bit, they lifted the dirt. All at once
there was a glint of gold.
"Do not touch it!" cried Schliemann, "we must see it all at once. What
will it be?"
So they dug on. The men stood about watching. Every now and then they
shouted out, when some wonderful thing was uncovered, and Schliemann
would stop work and cry,
"Did not I tell you? Is it not worth the work?"
At last they had lifted off all the earth and gravel. There was a great
mass of golden things--golden hairpins, and bracelets, and great golden
earrings like wreaths of yellow flowers, and necklaces with pictures
of warriors embossed in the gold, and brooches in the shape of stags'
heads. There were gold covers for buttons, and every one was molded into
some beautiful design of crest or circle or flower or cuttle-fish.
And among them lay the bones of three persons. Across the forehead of
one was a diadem of gold, worked into designs of flowers. "See!" cried
Schliemann, "these are queens. See their crowns, their scepters."
For near the hands lay golden scepters, with crystal balls.
And there were golden boxes with covers. Perhaps long ago, one of these
queens had kept her jewels in them. There was a golden drinking cup with
swimming fish on its sides. There were vases of bronze and silver and
gold. There was a pile of gold and amber beads, lying where they had
fallen when the string had rotted away from the queenly neck. And
scattered all over the bodies and under them were thin flakes of gold in
the shapes of flowers, butterflies, grasshoppers, swans, eagles, leaves.
It seemed as though a golden tree had shed its leaves into the grave.
"Think! Think! Think!" cried Schliemann. "These delicate lovely things
have lain buried here for three thousand years. You have pastured your
sheep above them. Once queens wore them and walked the streets we are
The news of the find spread like wildfire over the country. Thousands of
people came to visit the buried city. It was the most wonderful treasure
that had ever been found. The king of Athens sent soldiers to guard the
place. They camped on the acropolis. Their fires blazed there at night.
Schliemann telegraphed to the king:
"With great joy I announce to your majesty that I have discovered
the tombs which old stories say are the graves of Agamemnon and his
followers. I have found in them great treasures in the shape of ancient
things in pure gold. These treasures, alone, are enough to fill a great
museum. It will be the most wonderful collection in the world. During
the centuries to come it will draw visitors from all over the earth to
Greece. I am working for the joy of the work, not for money. So I give
this treasure, with much happiness, to Greece. May it be the corner
stone of great good fortune for her."
The work went on, and soon they found another grave, even more
wonderful. Here lay five people--two of them women, three of them
warriors. Golden masks covered the faces of the men. Two wore golden
breastplates. The gold clasp of the greave was still around one knee.
Near one man lay a golden crown and a sceptre, and a sword belt of gold.
There was a heap of stone arrowheads, and a pile of twenty bronze swords
and daggers. One had a picture of a lion hunt inlaid in gold. The wooden
handles of the swords and daggers were rotted away, but the gold nails
that had fastened them lay there, and the gold dust that had gilded
them. Near the warriors' hands were drinking cups of heavy gold. There
were seal rings with carved stones. There was the silver mask of an
ox head with golden horns, and the golden mask of a lion's head. And
scattered over everything were buttons, and ribbons, and leaves, and
flowers of gold.
Schliemann gazed at the swords with burning eyes.
"The heroes of Troy have used these swords," he said to his wife,
"Perhaps Achilles himself has handled them." He looked long at the
golden masks of kingly faces.
"I believe that one of these masks covered the face of Agamemnon. I
believe I am kneeling at the side of the king of men," he said in a
Why were all these things there? Thousands of years before, when their
king had died, the people had grieved.
"He is going to the land of the dead," they had thought. "It is a dull
place. We will send gifts with him to cheer his heart. He must have
lions to hunt and swords to kill them. He must have cattle to eat. He
must have his golden cup for wine."
So they had put these things into the grave, thinking that the king
could take them with him. They even had put in food, for Schliemann
found oyster shells buried there. And they had thought that a king, even
in the land of the dead, must have servants to work for him. So they had
sacrificed slaves, and had sent them with their lord. Schliemann found
their bones above the grave. And besides the silver mask of the ox head
they had sent real cattle. After the king had been laid in his grave,
they had killed oxen before the altar. Part they had burned in the
sacred fire for the dead king, and part the people had eaten for the
funeral feast. These bones and ashes, too, Schliemann found. For a long,
long time the people had not forgotten their dead chiefs. Every year
they had sacrificed oxen to them. They had set up gravestones for them,
and after a while they had heaped great mounds over their graves.
That was a wonderful old world at Mycenae. The king's palace sat on a
hill. It was not one building, but many--a great hall where the warriors
ate, the women's large room where they worked, two houses of many
bedrooms, treasure vaults, a bath, storehouses. Narrow passages led from
room to room. Flat roofs of thatch and clay covered all. And there were
open courts with porches about the sides. The floors of the court were
of tinted concrete. Sometimes they were inlaid with colored stones. The
walls of the great hall had a painted frieze running about them. And
around the whole palace went a thick stone wall.
One such old palace has been uncovered at Tiryns near Mycenae. To-day
a visitor can walk there through the house of an ancient king. The
watchman is not there, so the stranger goes through the strong old
gateway. He stands in the courtyard, where the young men used to play
games. He steps on the very floor they trod. He sees the stone bases of
columns about him. The wooden pillars have rotted away, but he imagines
them holding a porch roof, and he sees the men resting in the shade. He
walks into the great room where the warriors feasted. He sees the hearth
in the middle and imagines the fire blazing there. He looks into the
bathroom with its sloping stone floor and its holes to drain off the
water. He imagines Greek maidens coming to the door with vases of water
on their heads. He walks through the long, winding passages and into
room after room. "The children of those old days must have had trouble
finding their way about in this big palace," he thinks.
Such was the palace of the king. Below it lay many poorer houses, inside
the walls and out. We can imagine men and women walking about this city.
We raise the warriors from their graves. They carry their golden cups in
their hands. Their rings glisten on their fingers, and their bracelets
on their arms. Perhaps, instead of the golden armor, they wear
breastplates of bronze of the same shape, but these same swords hang at
their sides. We look at their golden masks and see their straight noses
and their short beards. We study the carving on their gravestones, and
we see their two-wheeled chariots and their prancing horses. We look at
the carved gems of their seal rings and see them fighting or killing
lions. We look at their embossed drinking cups, and we see them catching
the wild bulls in nets. We gaze at the great walls of Mycenae, and
wonder what machines they had for lifting such heavy stones. We look at
a certain silver vase, and see warriors fighting before this very wall.
We see all the beautiful work in gold and silver and gems and ivory, and
we think, "Those men of old Mycenae were artists."
PICTURES OF MYCENAE
THE CIRCLE OF ROYAL TOMBS.
Digging within this circle, Dr. Schliemann found the famous treasure
of golden gifts to the dead, which he gave to Greece. In the Museum at
Athens you can see these wonderful things. (From a photograph in the
DR. AND MRS. SCHLIEMANN AT WORK.
This picture is taken from Dr. Schliemann's own book on his work.
THE GATE OF LIONS.
The stone over the gateway is immensely strong. But the wall builders
were afraid to pile too great a weight upon it. So they left a
triangular space above it. You can see how they cut the big stones with
slanting ends to do this. This triangle they filled with a thinner
stone carved with two lions. The lions' heads are gone. They were made
separately, perhaps of bronze, and stood away from the stone looking out
at people approaching the gate.
INSIDE THE TREASURY OF ATREUS.
No wonder the untaught modern Greeks thought that this was a giants'
oven, where the giants baked their bread. But learned men have shown
that it was connected with a tomb, and that in this room the men
of Mycenae worshipped their dead. It was very wonderfully made and
beautifully ornamented. The big stone over the doorway was nearly thirty
feet long, and weighs a hundred and twenty tons. Men came to this
beehive tomb in the old days of Mycenae, down a long passage with a high
stone wall on either side. The doorway was decorated with many-colored
marbles and beautiful bronze plates. The inside was ornamented, too, and
there was an altar in there.
THE INTERIOR OF THE PALACE.
From these ruins and relics, we know much about the art of the
Mycenaeans, something about their government, their trade, their
religion, their home life, their amusements, and their ways of fighting,
though they lived three thousand years ago. If a great modern city
should be buried, and men should dig it up three thousand years later,
what do you think they will say about us?
This mask was still on the face of the dead king. The artist tried to
make the mask look just as the great king himself had looked, but this
was very hard to do.
A COW'S HEAD OF SILVER.
The king's people put into his grave this silver mask of an ox head with
golden horns. It was a symbol of the cattle sacrificed for the dead.
There is a gold rosette between the eyes. The mouth, muzzle, eyes and
ears are gilded. In Homer's Iliad, which is the story of the Trojan war,
Diomede says, "To thee will I sacrifice a yearling heifer, broad at
brow, unbroken, that never yet hath man led beneath the yoke. Her will I
sacrifice to thee, and gild her horns with gold."
THE WARRIOR VASE.
This vase was made of clay and baked. Then the artist painted figures on
it with colored earth. This was so long ago that men had not learned to
draw very well, but we like the vase because the potter made it such a
beautiful shape, and because we learn from it how the warriors of early
Mycenae dressed. Under their armor they wore short chitons with fringe
at the bottom, and long sleeves, and they carried strangely shaped
shields and short spears or long lances. Do you think those are
knapsacks tied to the lances?
These may have been worn by King Agamemnon, or by the Trojan warriors.
They are now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
GEM FROM MYCENAE.
Early men made many pictures much like this--a pillar guarded by an
animal on each side.
It would take a very skilfull man to-day, a man who was both goldsmith
and artist, to make such daggers as men found at Mycenae. First the
blade was made. Then the artist took a separate sheet of bronze for his
design. This sheet he enamelled, and on it he inlaid his design. On one
of these daggers we see five hunters fighting three lions. Two of the
lions are running away. One lion is pouncing upon a hunter, but his
friends are coming to help him. If you could turn this dagger over, you
would see a lion chasing five gazelles. The artist used pure gold for
the bodies of the hunters and the lions; he used electron, an alloy of
gold and silver, for the hunters' shields and their trousers; and he
made the men's hair, the lions' manes, and the rims of the shields, of
some black substance. When the picture was finished on the plate, he
set the plate into the blade, and riveted on the handle. On the smaller
dagger we see three lions running.
CARVED IVORY HEAD.
It shows the kind of helmet used in Mycenae. Do you think the button at
the top may have had a socket for a horse hair plume?
These brooches were like modern safety pins, and were used to fasten the
chlamys at the shoulder. The chlamys was a heavy woolen shawl, red or
ONE OF THE CUPS FOUND AT VAPHIO.
Some people say that these cups are the most wonderful things that
have been found, made by Mycenaean artists. Some people say that no
goldsmiths in the world since then, unless perhaps in Italy in the
fifteenth century, have done such lovely work. The goldsmith took a
plate of gold and hammered his design into it from the wrong side. Then
he riveted the two ends together where the handle was to go, and lined
the cup with a smooth gold plate. One cup shows some hunters trying to
catch wild bulls with a net. One great bull is caught in the net. One
is leaping clear over it. And a third bull is tossing a hunter on his
horns. On the other cup the artist shows some bulls quietly grazing in
the forest, while another one is being led away to sacrifice.
The Vaphian cups are now in the National museum in Athens. They were
found in a "bee-hive" tomb at Vaphio, an ancient site in Greece, not far
from Sparta. It is thought that they were not made there, but in Crete.
At Mycenae were found seven hundred and one large round plates of gold,
decorated with cuttlefish, flowers, butterflies, and other designs.
GOLD ORNAMENT. (Lower right hand corner.)
MYCENAE IN THE DISTANCE.