Buried Cities, Volume 2 by Jennie Hall

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, David Widger and PG Distributed Proofreaders BURIED CITIES, VOLUME 2 OLYMPIA BY JENNIE HALL Author of “Four Old Greeks,” Etc. Instructor in History and English in the Francis W. Parker School, Chicago With Many Drawings and Photographs From Original Sources The publishers are grateful to the estate of Miss Jennie Hall
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Produced by Juliet Sutherland, David Widger and PG Distributed Proofreaders





Author of “Four Old Greeks,” Etc. Instructor in History and English in the Francis W. Parker School, Chicago

With Many Drawings and Photographs From Original Sources

The publishers are grateful to the estate of Miss Jennie Hall and to her many friends for assistance in planning the publication of this book. Especial thanks are due to Miss Nell C. Curtis of the Lincoln School, New York City, for helping to finish Miss Hall’s work of choosing the pictures, and to Miss Irene I. Cleaves of the Francis Parker School, Chicago, who wrote the captions. It was Miss Katharine Taylor, now of the Shady Hill School, Cambridge, who brought these stories to our attention.


Do you like to dig for hidden treasure? Have you ever found Indian arrowheads or Indian pottery? I knew a boy who was digging a cave in a sandy place, and he found an Indian grave. With his own hands he uncovered the bones and skull of some brave warrior. That brown skull was more precious to him than a mint of money. Another boy I knew was making a cave of his own. Suddenly he dug into an older one made years before. He crawled into it with a leaping heart and began to explore. He found an old carpet and a bit of burned candle. They proved that some one had lived there. What kind of a man had he been and what kind of life had he lived–black or white or red, robber or beggar or adventurer? Some of us were walking in the woods one day when we saw a bone sticking out of the ground. Luckily we had a spade, and we set to work digging. Not one moment was the tool idle. First one bone and then another came to light and among them a perfect horse’s skull. We felt as though we had rescued Captain Kidd’s treasure, and we went home draped in bones.

Suppose that instead of finding the bones of a horse we had uncovered a gold-wrapped king. Suppose that instead of a deserted cave that boy had dug into a whole buried city with theaters and mills and shops and beautiful houses. Suppose that instead of picking up an Indian arrowhead you could find old golden vases and crowns and bronze swords lying in the earth. If you could be a digger and a finder and could choose your find, would you choose a marble statue or a buried bakeshop with bread two thousand years old still in the oven or a king’s grave filled with golden gifts? It is of such digging and such finding that this book tells.


1. Two Winners of Crowns

2. How a City Was Lost

_Pictures of Olympia_:

Entrance to Stadion


Boys in Gymnasium

Temple of Zeus

The Labors of Herakles

The Statue of Victory

The Hermes of Praxiteles

The Temple of Hera

Head of an Athlete

A Greek Horseman



The July sun was blazing over the country of Greece. Dust from the dry plain hung in the air. But what cared the happy travelers for dust or heat? They were on their way to Olympia to see the games. Every road teemed with a chattering crowd of men and boys afoot and on horses. They wound down from the high mountains to the north. They came along the valley from the east and out from among the hills to the south. Up from the sea led the sacred road, the busiest of all. A little caravan of men and horses was trying to hurry ahead through the throng. The master rode in front looking anxiously before him as though he did not see the crowd. After him rode a lad. His eyes were flashing eagerly here and there over the strange throng. A man walked beside the horse and watched the boy smilingly. Behind them came a string of pack horses with slaves to guard the loads of wine and food and tents and blankets for their master’s camp.

“What a strange-looking man, Glaucon!” said the boy. “He has a dark skin.”

The boy’s own skin was fair, and under his hat his hair was golden. As he spoke he pointed to a man on the road who was also riding at the head of a little caravan. His skin was dark. Shining black hair covered his ears. His garment was gay with colored stripes.

“He is a merchant from Egypt,” answered the man. “He will have curious things to sell–vases of glass, beads of amber, carved ivory, and scrolls gay with painted figures. You must see them, Charmides.”

But already the boy had forgotten the Egyptian.

“See the chariot!” he cried.

It was slowly rolling along the stony road. A grave, handsome man stood in it holding the reins. Beside him stood another man with a staff in his hand. Behind the chariot walked two bowmen. After them followed a long line of pack horses led by slaves. “They are the delegates from Athens,” explained Glaucon. “There are, doubtless, rich gifts for Zeus on the horses and perhaps some stone tablets engraved with new laws.”

But the boy was not listening.

“Jugglers! Jugglers!” he cried.

And there they were at the side of the road, showing their tricks and begging for coins. One man was walking on his hands and tossing a ball about with his feet. Another was swallowing a sword.

“Stop, Glaucon!” cried Charmides, “I must see him. He will kill himself.”

“No, my little master,” replied the slave. “You shall see him again at Olympia. See your father. He would be vexed if we waited.”

And there was the master ahead, pushing forward rapidly, looking neither to the right hand nor the left. The boy sighed.

“He is hurrying to see Creon. He forgets me!” he thought.

But immediately his eyes were caught by some new thing, and his face was gay again. So the little company traveled up the sloping road amid interesting sights. For here were people from all the corners of the known world–Greeks from Asia in trailing robes, Arabs in white turbans, black men from Egypt, kings from Sicily, Persians with their curled beards, half civilized men from the north in garments of skin. “See!” said Glaucon at last as they reached a hilltop, “the temple!”

He pointed ahead. There shone the tip of the roof and its gold ornament. Hovering above was a marble statue with spread wings.

“And there is Victory!” whispered Charmides. “She is waiting for Creon. She will never wait for me,” and he sighed.

The crowd broke into a shout when they saw the temple. A company of young men flew by, singing a song. Charmides passed a sick man. The slaves had set down his litter, and he had stretched out his hands toward the temple and was praying. For the sick were sometimes cured by a visit to Olympia. The boy’s father had struck his heels into his horse’s sides and was galloping forward, calling to his followers to hasten.

In a few moments they reached higher land. Then they saw the sacred place spread out before them. There was the wall all around it. Inside it shone a few buildings and a thousand statues. Along one side stretched a row of little marble treasure houses. At the far corner lay the stadion with its rows of stone seats. Nearer and outside the wall was the gymnasium. Even from a distance Charmides could see men running about in the court.

“There are the athletes!” he thought. “Creon is with them.”

Behind all these buildings rose a great hill, dark green with trees. Down from the hill poured a little stream. It met a wide river that wound far through the valley. In the angle of these rivers lay Olympia. The temple and walls and gymnasium were all of stone and looked as though they had been there forever. But in the meadow all around the sacred place was a city of winged tents. There were little shapeless ones of skins lying over sticks. There were round huts woven of rushes. There were sheds of poles with green boughs laid upon them. There were tall tents of gaily striped canvas. Farther off were horses tethered. And everywhere were gaily robed men moving about. Menon, Charmides’ father, looking ahead from the high place, turned to a slave.

“Run on quickly,” he said. “Save a camping place for us there on Mount Kronion, under the trees.”

The man was off. Menon spoke to the other servants. “Push forward and make camp. I will visit the gymnasium. Come, Charmides, we will go to see Creon.”

They rode down the slope toward Olympia. As they passed among the tents they saw friends and exchanged kind greetings.

“Ah, Menon!” called one. “There is good news of Creon. Every one expects great things of him.”

“I have kept room for your camp next my tent, Menon,” said another.

“Here are sights for you, Charmides,” said a kind old man.

Charmides caught a glimpse of gleaming marble among the crowd and guessed that some sculptor was showing his statues for sale. Yonder was a barber’s tent. Gentlemen were sitting in chairs and men were cutting their hair or rubbing their faces smooth with stone. In one place a man was standing on a little platform. A crowd was gathered about him listening, while he read from a scroll in his hands.

But the boy had only a glimpse of these things, for his father was hurrying on. In a moment they crossed a bridge over a river and stopped before a low, wide building. Glaucon helped Charmides off his horse. Menon spoke a few words to the porter at the gate. The man opened the door and led the visitors in. Charmides limped along beside his father, for he was lame. That was what had made him sigh when he had seen Victory hovering over Olympia. She would never give him the olive branch. But now he did not think of that. His heart was beating fast. His eyes were big. For before him lay a great open court baking in the sun. More than a hundred boys were at work there, leaping, wrestling, hurling the disk, throwing spears. During the past months they had been living here, training for the games. The sun had browned their bare bodies. Now their smooth skins were shining with sweat and oil. As they bent and twisted they looked like beautiful statues turned brown and come alive. Among them walked men in long purple robes. They seemed to be giving commands.

“They are the judges,” whispered Glaucon. “They train the boys.”

All around the hot court ran a deep, shady portico. Here boys lay on the tiled floor or on stone benches, resting from their exercise. Near Charmides stood one with his back turned. He was scraping the oil and dust from his body with a strigil. Charmides’ eyes danced with joy at the beauty of the firm, round legs and the muscles moving in the shoulders. Then the athlete turned toward the visitors and Charmides cried out, “Creon!” and ran and threw his arms around him.

Then there was gay talk; Creon asked about the home and mother and sisters in Athens, for he had been here in training for almost ten months. Menon and Charmides had a thousand questions about the games.

“I know I shall win, father,” said Creon softly. “Four nights ago Hermes appeared to me in my sleep and smiled upon me. I awoke suddenly and there was a strange, sweet perfume in the air.”

Tears sprang into his father’s eyes. “Now blessed be the gods!” he cried, “and most blessed Hermes, the god of the gymnasium!”

After a little Menon and Charmides said farewell and went away through the chattering crowd and up under the cool trees on Mount Kronion to their camp. The slaves had cut poles and set them up and thrown a wide linen cover over them. Under it they had put a little table holding lumps of brown cheese, a flat loaf of bread, a basket of figs, a pile of crisp lettuce. Just outside the tent grazed a few goats. A man in a soiled tunic was squatted milking one. Menon’s slave stood waiting and, as his master came up, he took the big red bowl of foaming milk and carried it to the table. The goatherd picked up his long crook and started his flock on, calling, “Milk! Milk to sell!”

Menon was gay now. His worries were over. His camp was pitched in a pleasant place. His son was well and sure of victory.

“Come, little son,” he called to Charmides. “You must be as hungry as a wolf. But first our thanks to the gods.”

A slave had poured a little wine into a flat cup and stood now offering it to his master. Menon took it and held it high, looking up into the blue heavens.

“O gracious Hermes!” he cried aloud, “fulfill thy omen! And to Zeus, the father, and to all the immortals be thanks.”

As he prayed he turned the cup and spilled the wine upon the ground. That was the god’s portion. A slave spread down a rug for his master to lie upon and put cushions under his elbow. Glaucon did the same for Charmides, and the meal began. Menon talked gaily about their journey, the games to-morrow, Creon’s training. But Charmides was silent. At last his father said:

“Well, little wolf, you surely are gulping! Are you so starved?”

“No,” said Charmides with full mouth. “I’m in a hurry. I want to see things.”

His father laughed and leaped to his feet.

“Just like me, lad. Come on!”

Charmides snatched a handful of figs and rolled out of the tent squealing with joy. Menon came after him, laughing, and Glaucon followed to care for them. “The sun is setting,” said Menon. “It will soon be dark, and to-morrow are the games. They will keep us busy when they begin, so you must use your eyes to-day if you want to see the fair.”

He stopped on the hillside and looked down into the sacred place.

“It is wonderful!” he said, half to himself. “The home of glory! I love every stone of it. I have not been here since I myself won the single race. And now my son is to win it. That was when you were a baby, Charmides.”

“I know, father,” whispered the boy with shining eyes. “I have kissed your olive wreath, where it hangs above our altar at home.”

The father put his hand lovingly on the boy’s yellow head.

“By the help of Hermes there soon will be a green one there for you to kiss, lad. The gods are very good to crown our family twice.”

“I wish there were crowns for lame boys to win,” said Charmides. “I would win one!”

He said that fiercely and clenched his fist. His father looked kindly into his eyes and spoke solemnly.

“I think you would, my son. Perhaps there are such crowns.”

They started on thoughtfully and soon were among the crowd. There were a hundred interesting sights. They passed an outdoor oven like a little round hill of stones and clay. The baker was just raking the fire out of the little door on the side. Charmides waited to see him put the loaves into the hot cave. But before it was done a horn blew and called him away to a little table covered with cakes.

“Honey cakes! Almond cakes! Fig cakes!” sang the man. “Come buy!”

There they lay–stars and fish and ships and temples. Charmides picked up one in the shape of a lyre.

“I will take this one,” he said, and solemnly ate it.

“Why are you so solemn, son?” laughed Menon.

The boy did not answer. He only looked up at his father with deep eyes and said nothing. But in a moment he was racing off to see some rope dancers.

“Glaucon,” said the master to the slave, “take care of the boy. Give him a good time. Buy him what he wants. Take him back to camp when he is tired. I have business to do.”

Then he turned to talk with a friend, who had come up, and Glaucon followed his little master.

What a good time the boy had! The rope dancers, the sword swallowers, the Egyptian with his painted scroll, a trained bear that wrestled with a wild-looking man dressed in skins, a cooking tent where whole sheep were roasting and turning over a fire, another where tiny fish were boiling in a great pot of oil and jumping as if alive–he saw them all. He stood under the sculptors’ awning and gazed at the marble people more beautiful than life. And when he came upon Apollo striking his lyre, his heart leaped into his mouth. He stood quiet for a long time gazing at this god of song. Then he walked out of the tent with shining eyes.

At last it grew dark, and torches began to blaze in front of the booths.

“Shall we go home, Charmides?” said Glaucon.

“Oh, no!” cried the boy. “I haven’t seen it all. I am not tired. It is gayer now than ever with the torches. See all those shining flames.”

And he ran to a booth where a hundred little bronze lamps hung, each with its tongue of clear light. It was an imagemaker’s booth. The table stood full of little clay statues of the gods. Charmides took up one. It was a young man leaning against a tree trunk. On his arm he held a baby.

“It is a model of the great marble Hermes in the temple of Hera, my little master,” said the image maker. “Great Praxiteles made that one, poor Philo made this one.”

“It is beautiful,” said Charmides and turned away, holding it tenderly in his hand.

Glaucon waited a moment to pay for the figure. Then he followed Charmides who had walked on. He was standing on the bridge gazing at the water.

“Glaucon,” he said, “I must see that statue of Hermes.”

They stood there talking about the wonderful works of Praxiteles and of many another artist. Glaucon pointed to a little wooden shed lying in the meadow.

“That,” he said, “is the workshop of Phidias. There he made the gold and ivory statue of Zeus that you shall see in Zeus’s temple. That workshop will stay there many a year, I think, for people to love because so great a thing was done there.”

“Is it so wonderful?” asked Charmides.

“When it was finished,” Glaucon answered solemnly, “Phidias stood before it and prayed to Zeus to tell him whether it pleased the god. Great Zeus heard the prayer, and in his joy at the beautiful thing he hurled a blazing thunderbolt and smote the floor before the statue as if to say, ‘This image is Zeus himself.’ But I have never seen it, for a slave may not pass the sacred wall.”

Now the full moon had risen, and the world was swimming in silver light. The statue of Victory hung over the sacred place on spread wings. Many another great form on its high pillar seemed standing in the deep sky above the world. The little pool in the pebbly river had stars in the bottom.

“This Kladeos is a savage little river in the spring,” said Glaucon. “It tries to tear away our Olympia or drown it or cover it with sand. You see, men have had to fence it in with stone walls.”

But Charmides was looking at the sacred place and its soft shining statues in the sky.

“Let us walk around the wall,” he said.

So they left the river and passed the gymnasium and the gate. Along this side the wall cast a wide shadow. Here they walked in silence. Here there were no tents, no torches, no noisy people. Everything was quiet in the evening air. The far-off sounds of the fair were a gentle hum. A hundred pictures were floating in Charmides’ mind–Phidias, Zeus, Creon with the strigil, his own little Hermes, the strange people in the fair, the marble Apollo under the sculptor’s tent. In a few moments they turned a corner and came out into the soft moonlight. A little beyond gleamed a broad river, the Alphaeus. Charmides and the slave went over and strolled along its banks. Here they were again in the crowd and among tents. They saw a group of people and went toward them. A man sat on a low knoll a little above the crowd. His hair hung about his shoulders and his long robe lay in glistening folds about his feet. A lyre rested on his knees, and he was striking the strings softly. The sweet notes floated high in the moonlit air. At last he lifted his voice and sang:

When the swan spreadeth out his wings to alight On the whirling pools of the foaming stream, He sendeth to thee, Apollo, a note.
When the sweet-voiced minstrel lifteth his lyre And stretcheth his hand on the singing string, He sendeth to thee, Apollo, a prayer.
Even so do I now, a worshiping bard, With my heart lifted up to begin my lay, Cry aloud to Apollo, the lord of song.

Then he sang of that lordliest of all minstrels, Orpheus–how the trees swung circling about to his music; how the savage beasts lay down at his feet to listen; how the rocks rose up at his bidding and followed him, dancing, to build a town without hands; how he went to the dismal land of the dead to seek his wife and with his clear lyre and sweet voice drew tears from the iron heart of the king of hell and won back his loved Eurydice and lost her again the same hour.

The boy, sitting there in the moonlight, went floating away on the song until he felt himself straying through that fair garden of the dead with singing lyre or riding with Artemis through the sky in her moon chariot.

When the song was ended, Glaucon said, “Come, little master, you have fallen asleep. Let us go home.”

And Charmides rose and went, still clutching his image of Hermes in his hand and still holding the song fast in his heart.

In the morning the whole great camp was awake and moving long before daylight. Every man and boy was in his fairest clothes. On every head was a fresh fillet. Every hand bore some beautiful gift for the gods–a vase, a plate of gold, an embroidered robe, a basket of silver. All were pouring to the open gate in the sacred wall. Here a procession formed. Young men led cattle with gilded horns and swinging garlands, or sheep with clean, combed wool. Stately priests in long chitons paced to the music of flutes. The judges glowed in their purple robes. Then walked the athletes, their eyes burning with excitement. And last came all the visitors with gift-laden hands. The slaves and foreigners crowded at the gate to see the procession pass, for on this first holy day only freedmen and Greeks of pure blood might visit the sacred shrines. When Charmides passed through, his heart leaped. Here was no empty field with a few altars. He had never seen a greater crowd in the busy market place at home in Athens. But here the people were even more beautiful than the Athenians. Their limbs were round and perfect. They stood always gracefully. Their garments hung in delicate folds, for they were people made by great artists–people of marble and of bronze. All the gods of 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 brother.

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 people.

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 sprank to his lips:

“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 to them:

“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 your best.”

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 with,

“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 victor.

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 bottle.”

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 sea-gull.”

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 it.

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!”

“Feint, feint!”

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 he fell.

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 pentathlon.

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.]


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 emperor said,

“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 place.

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 new people.

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 themselves.

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 baby.



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.


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.”


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.


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_]


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.


This shows the ruins of the temple where Charmides saw the statue of Hermes, perhaps the most beautiful statue in the world.


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 Metropolitan Museum.


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.