Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

Perhaps it was in its highest glory some four or five hundred years before Christ, when restored after the ravages of the Persians. About B.c. 480, Xerxes led his immense army into Greece, where his fleet took up a position near the isle of Salamis, close to the coast, north-east of the Piræus. The Athenians had left the city, which Xerxes partly destroyed. Soon after, under the direction of Themistocles, the Persian fleet was utterly routed, and Xerxes fled, leaving Mardonius, however, at the head of 300,000 men. The Athenians had fled to their vessels; and what Xerxes had left undone, Mardonius finished. The final defeat of the Persians, however, gave the citizens an opportunity of rebuilding their city; and their taste for elegance and splendour in architecture induced them gradually to adorn it with statues, gates, porticoes, and temples, till it became unrivalled. To the south-west of the city was the main eminence in it, the Acropolis, where stood the celebrated Parthenon, the temple of Minerva. Close by, to the west, was the Areopagus, or Mars’-Hill; near which was a smaller height, on which was the Pnyx,—the public rostrum, whence rolled the thunder of Demosthenes. North of the west end of the Areopagus, likewise on an eminence, stood the temple of Theseus; while to the south-east of its easterly end was that of Jupiter Olympus. To the south-west of the west end, on another eminence, was the Museum. Such a view of architectural and sculptural elegance, grandeur, and beauty as would be seen from Mars’-Hill, could nowhere else be presented. The statues were so numerous, that it was wittily said, that it was uncertain whether there were more gods or men in the city. No wonder that St. Paul, with such a scene before him, seeing in it as much of spiritual darkness and degradation as there was of artistic magnificence, reminded the citizens how greatly they were addicted to the worship of man-invented deities, and proclaimed to them the one living and true God, who had made heaven and earth; or that he taught the curious and babbling populace, and the proud philosophers, who descanted on virtue, without knowing its foundation and source, the great doctrine of moral obligation in man's personal accountability to God, the Judge of all. Perhaps the city was never more

magnificent than under Pericles, about B.c. 450, under whom wrought Phidias, the celebrated architect and sculptor.

Human literature is still influenced by the great men who flourished at Athens. Almost in the same generation flourished Sophocles, Euripides, and Æschylus, the tragedians, and Thucydides, the historian. Socrates was put to death in B.C. 400; and after him Plato, Xenophon, and Aristotle taught their systems. Xenophon died s.c. 359, aged 90; Plato, 348, aged 81; and Aristotle, 322, aged 63. Aristophanes, the comedian, who had amused the people by ridiculing Socrates, and largely contributed to his condemnation, died about the time of the condemnation of this wisest man of Greece. Demosthenes flourished about B.c. 325; and Epicurus died, aged 72, b.c. 270.

Athens sank under the Roman power, B. c. 76, when it was stormed by Sulla, and the streets ran with Athenian blood. Thenceforward the power of Athens declined, though long considered as the metropolis of philosophy and literature. But under the decadence of the empire, and through the progress of Christianity, Athens gradually fell into decay, and lost her literary supremaer and renown. In A. D. 1456 it fell under the Niehammedan power. In 1687 it sustained irreparabie injury frem its siege and capture by the Venetians. Since that time, the prork of ruination and decay has been great; but it is said that the Parthenon then sustained more injury than it had done in all the two thousand rears of its existence. In 1834 Athens was declared to be the capital of the new Christian kingdom of Greece, under Otho, son of the King of Bararia.

The engtaring we this menth gire, and which has furnished the text for this general riew of this crowned city, will impart some notion of the state of things in it at present. Of many of the ruins, the locate decares the or gin with sufficient accuracy of many others, what ther originally were is unknown, or can be barer correctured.

We cannot conclude these remarks without earnests requesting all our readers who have, or may have, the oppor tanier, to view carefully and thonchtfully the Greek marbles in the British Museum. It is worth an entire, exclusive risit.

There may be seen much of the work of Phidias himself. The models of one of the large temples,—one in its present condition, the other, as it was at first,—are (especially the latter) deserving the most particular attention. The scale is sufficiently large, and the model so complete, inside and out, as to afford full and exact information of what these temples were. There, to stand amidst the actual friezes, entablatures, &c., will enable the beholder, even though his imagination be not of the most lively order, to conceive of the structures as they were in all their magnificence at first.

ORIENTAL ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE

LANGUAGE. Genesis xiv. 17. “ The King of Sodom went out to meet him.” The conduct of this King, of Abraham, of Lot, of Saul, of the father of the prodigal, and of many others, is beautifully illustrated by the manners of the East, at this day. Not to meet a friend, or an expected guest, would be considered as rude in the extreme. So soon as the host hears of the approach of his visitant, he and his attendants go forth in courtly style ; and when they meet him, the host addresses him, “Ah! this is a happy day for me : by your favour I am found in health.” He will then, perhaps, put his arm round his waist, or gently tap him on the shoulder, as they proceed towards the house. When at the door, he again makes his bow, and politely ushers him in; and the rest joyfully follow, congratulating each other on the happy meeting.

Genesis xv, 17, 18. “Behold a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram.” Several eminent critics believe the lamp of fire was an emblem of the divine presence, and that it ratified the covenant with Abram.

It is an interesting fact, that the burning lamp or fire is still used in the East in confirmation of a covenant. Should a person in the evening make a solemn promise to perform something for another, and should the latter doubt his word. the former will say, pointing to the flame of the lamp, “That is the witness.On occasions of greater importance, when

two or more join in a covenant, should the fidelity of any be questioned, they will say, “We invoke the lamp of the temple," as a witness. When an agreement of this kind has been broken, it will be said, “Who would have thought this ? for the lamp of the temple was invoked.”

That fire was a symbol of the divine presence, no one acquainted with the sacred Scriptures can deny; and in the literature and customs of the East, the same thing is still asserted. In the ancient writings, where the marriages of the gods and demigods are described, it is always said the ceremony was performed in the presence of the god of fire. He was the witness. But it is also a general practice, at the celebration of respectable marriages at this day, to have a fire as a witness of the transaction. It is made of the wood of the mango-tree, or the aal or arasu, or panne or palāsu. The fire being kindled in the centre of the room, the young couple sit on stools; but when the Brahmin begins to repeat the incantations, they arise, and the bridegroom puts the little finger of his left hand round the little finger of the right hand of the bride, and they walk round the fire three times from left to right. Fire is the witness of their covenant; and if they break it, fire will be their destruction.

In the Scanda Purāna, the father of the virgin who was to be married to the son of the Rishi, said to him, “ Call your son, that I may give to him my daughter in the presence of the god of fire, that he may be the witness.” That being done, “ Usteyār gave his daughter Verunte in marriage, the fire being the witness.”-Roberts's Oriental Illustrations.

DIALOGUES ON CHEMISTRY. Part II.

DIALOGUE IV. Teacher. AFTER our excursions into the wide field of chemistry in its relations to agriculture, and the supply of human food, we may return to the subject we had begun to consider when we were, I could almost say, enticed from our regular path, not only by the inviting character of those new topics, but by their intimate connexion with some of the most mportant questions now in discussion amongst almost all

classes. You will remember the point to which our progress had brought us?

Pupil. Yes. We had taken a general view of what are called imponderables.

T. You remember, too, the reason of the name?

P. They are so called to distinguish them from those evidently material substances which are, as proved in all their operations, placed under the laws which are essential to matter. They have gravity, and therefore they are ponderable. Of the imponderables we know nothing beyond their forces. If there be, as is generally supposed, substances in which those forces reside, we cannot detect them by experiment. Their existence is rather argumentatively supposed, than experimentally proved. They are usually, therefore, termed chemical forces, not chemical substances.

7. I suppose you recollect what they are ?

P. Heat, or caloric, light, magnetism, electricity, and galvanism.

T. Yes. And you must not forget that though there are many circumstances which show the former two to be intimately connected, there are others which make a plain distinction between them. As forces they are not identical. Of the other three, it is perhaps impossible to decide whether they are one or several; whether they are the same forces, modified by the manner of production, or forces essentially different. The former is plainly the case as to electricity and galvanism. It is not so certain as to magnetism ; but neither is the contrary certain. I have seen a bar of iron suspended over a dish of steel filings. The bar was galvanised, and the filings instantly flew up, and became like a solid piece. The galvanic current ceased, and the filings instantly fell. The galvanized iron became a powerful magnet; but as soon as the galvanic force was withdrawn, the attractive power was gone. It seems to be no very uncertain conclusion that the galvanism in the iron, to speak popularly, was that which made it magnetic, and that therefore (and it were well if writers never used a worse therefore) galvanism and magnetism are the same. But had we entered on the consideration of any one of these forces ?

« НазадПродовжити »