A Day in Old Athens; a Picture of Athenian Life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 262 pages of information about A Day in Old Athens; a Picture of Athenian Life.

8. 360 B.C.—­The Year of the Visit to Athens.—­This city let us visit in the days of its greatest outward glory.  We may select the year 360 B.C.  At that time Athens had recovered from the ravages of the Peloponnesian War, while the Macedonian peril had not as yet become menacing.  The great public buildings were nearly all completed.  No signs of material decadence were visible, and if Athens no longer possessed the wide naval empire of the days of Pericles, her fleets and her armies were still formidable.  The harbors were full of commerce; the philosophers were teaching their pupils in the groves and porticoes; the democratic constitution was entirely intact.  With intelligent vision we will enter the city and look about us.

Chapter II.  The First Sights in Athens.

9.  The Morning Crowds bound for Athens.—­It is very early in the morning.  The sun has just pushed above the long ridge of Hymettus, sending a slanting red bar of light across the Attic plain, and touching the opposite slopes of Aegaleos with livid fire.  Already, however, life is stirring outside the city.  Long since, little market boats have rowed across the narrow strait from Salamis, bringing the island farmer’s produce, and other farmers from the plain and the mountain slopes have started for market.  In the ruddy light the marble temples on the lofty Acropolis rising ahead of these hurrying rustics are standing out clearly; the spear and helmet of the great brazen statue of the Athena Promachos are flashing from the noble citadel, as a kind of day beacon, beckoning onward toward the city.  From the Peireus, the harbor town, a confused him of mariners lading and unlading vessels is even now rising, but we cannot turn ourselves thither.  Our route is to follow the farmers bound for market.

The most direct road from the Peireus to Athens is hidden indeed, for it leads between the towering ramparts of the “Long Walls,” two mighty barriers which run parallel almost four miles from the inland city to the harbor, giving a guarded passage in wartime and making Athens safe against starvation from any land blockade; but there is an outside road leading also to Athens from the western farmsteads, and this we can conveniently follow.  Upon this route the crowd which one meets is certainly not aristocratic, but it is none the less Athenian.  Here goes a drover, clad in skins, his legs wound with woolen bands in lieu of stockings; before him and his wolf-like dog shambles a flock of black sheep or less manageable goats, bleating and baaing as they are propelled toward market.  After him there may come an unkempt, long-bearded farmer flogging on a pack ass or a mule attached to a clumsy cart with solid wheels, and laden with all kinds of market produce.  The roadway, be it said, is not good, and all carters have their troubles; therefore, there is a deal of gesticulating and profane invocation of Hermes and all other gods

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A Day in Old Athens; a Picture of Athenian Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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