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NOTES TO CANTO II.
despite of war and wasting firem
Stanza i. line 4.
Part of the Acropolis was destroyed by the explosion of a magazine during the Venetian siege. ..
But worse than steel and flame, and ages slow, Is the dread sceptre and dominion dire i Of men who never felt the sacred glow That thoughts of thee and thine on polish'd breasts bestou.
Stanza i. line 6.
We can all feel, or imagine, the regret with which the ruins of cities, once the capitals of empires, are beheld; the reflections suggested by such objects are too trite to require recapitulation. But never did the littleness of man, and the vanity of his very best virtues, of patriotism
to exalt, and of valour to defend his country, appear more conspicuous than in the record of what Athens was, and the certainty of what she now is. This theatre of contention between mighty factions, of the struggles of
orators, the exaltation and deposition of tyrants, the | triumph and punishment of generals, is now become a scene of petty intrigue and perpetual disturbance, between the bickering agents of certain British nobility and gentry. “ The wild foxes, the owls and serpents in the ruins of Babylon,” were surely less degrading than such inhabitants. The Turks have the plea of conquest for their tyranny, and the Greeks have only suffered the fortune of war, incidental to the bravest; but how are the mighty fallen, when two painters contest the privilege of plundering the Parthenon, and triumph in turn, according to the tenor of each succeeding firman! Sylla could but punish, Philip subdue, and Xerxes burn Athens; but it remained for the paltry Antiquarian, and his despicable agents, to render her contemptible as himself and his pursuits.
The Parthenon, before its destruction in part by fire during the Venetian siege, had been a temple, à church, and a mosque. ' In each point of view it is an object of regard; it changed its worshippers; but still it was a place of worship thrice sacred to devotion: its violation is a triple sacrilege. But
“ Man, vain man, “ Drest in a little brief authority, “ Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven “ As make the angels weep.”
. Stanza v. line 2.
It was not always the custom of the Greeks to burn their dead; the greater Ajax in particular was interred entire. Almost all the chiefs became gods after their decease, and he was indeed neglected, who had not annual games near his tomb, or festivals in honour of, his memory by his countrymen, as Achilles, Brasidas, &c. and at last even Antinous, whose death was as heroic as his life was infamous.
Here, son of Saturn! was thy fav’rite throne :
Stanza x. line 3.
The temple of Jupiter Olympius, of which sixteen columns entirely of marble yet survive: originally there. were 150. These columns, however, are by many supposed to have belonged to the Pantheon.
5. · And bear these altars o'er the long-reluctant brine.
: Stanza xi, line last.
The ship was wrecked in the Archipelago.
.. 6. To rive what Goth, and Turk, and Time hath spard.
Stanza xii. line 2.
At this moment (January 3, 1809), besides what has been already deposited in London, an Hydroit vessel is in the Piræus to receive every portable relic. Thus, as I heard a young Greek observe in common with many of his countrymen-for, lost as they are, they yet feel on this occasion—thus may Lord Elgin boast of having ruined Athens. An Italian painter of the first eminence, named Lusieri, is the agent of devastation ; and, like the Greek finder of Verres in Sicily, who followed the same profession, he has proved the able instrument of plunder. Between this artist and the French Consul Fauvel, who wishes to rescue the remains for his own government, there is now a violent dispute concerning a car employed in their conveyance, the wheel of which I wish they were both broken upon it-has been locked up by the Consul, and Lusieri has laid his complaint before the Waywode. Lord Elgin has been extremely happy
in his choice of Signor Lusieri. During a residence of ten years in Athens, he never had the curiosity to proceed as far as Sunium,* till he accompanied us in our se
* Now Cape Colonna. In all Attica, if we except Athens itself and Marathon, there is no scene more interesting than Cape Colonna. To the antiquary and artist, sixteen columns are an inexhaustible source of observation and design; to the philosopher, the supposed scene of some of Plato's conversations will not be unwelcome; and the traveller will be struck with the beauty of the prospect over “ Isles that crown the Ægean deep :" but for an Englishman, Colonna has yet an additional interest, as the actual spot of Falconer's Shipwreck. Pallas and Plato are forgotten, in the recollection of Falconer and Campbell..
“ Here in the dead of night by Lonna’s steep, '
This temple of Minerva may be seen at sea from a great distance. In two journeys which I made, and one voyage to Cape Colonna, the view from either side, by land, was less striking than the approach from the isles. In our second land excursion, we had a narrow escape from a party of Mainnotes, concealed in the caverns beneath. We were told afterwards, by one of their prisoners subsequently ransomed, that they were deterred from attacking us by the appearance of my two Albanians: conjecturing very sagaciously, but falsely, that we had a complete guard of these Arnaouts