The Physical Setting of Athens
The Physical Beauty of Attica
Yet Attica had advantages which more than counterbalanced this grudging of fertility. All Greece, to be sure, was favored by the natural beauty of its atmosphere, seas, and mountains, but Attica was perhaps the most favored portion of all, Around her coasts, rocky often and broken by pebbly beaches and little craggy peninsulas, surged the deep blue Ægean, the most glorious expanse of ocean in the world. Far away spread the azure water,—often foam-crested and sometimes alive with the dolphins leaping at their play,—reaching towards a shimmering sky line where rose "the isles of Greece," masses of green foliage, or else of tawny rock, scattered afar, to adapt the words of Homer, "like shields laid on the face of the glancing deep."
Above the sea spread the noble arch of the heavens,—the atmosphere often dazzlingly bright, and carrying its glamour and sparkle almost into the hearts of men. The Athenians were proud of the air about their land. Their poets gladly sung its praises, as, for example, Euripides, when he tells how his fellow countrymen enjoy being—
Ever through air clear shining brightly
As on wings uplifted, pacing lightly.
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