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William Davis, A Day in Old Athens

 

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Page 10

The View from the Temple of Wingless Victory

 

    We will not wait for the feasting but rather will take our way to the Temple of Wingless Victory, looking forth to the west of the Acropolis Rock. So many things we see which we would fain print on the memory. Behind us we have just left the glittering Parthenon, and the less august but hardly less beautiful Erechtheum, with its "Porch of the Maidens." To our right is the wide expanse of the roofs of the city and beyond the dark olive groves of Colonus, and the slopes of Ægaleos. In the near foreground, are the red crags of Areopagus and the gray hill of the Pnyx. But the eye will wander farther. It is led away across the plainland to the bay of Phaleron, the castellated hill of Munychia, the thin stretch of blue water and the brown island seen across it—Salamis and its strait of the victory. Across the sparkling vista of the sea rise the headlands of Ægina and of lesser isles; farther yet rise the lordly peaks of Argolis. Or we can look to the southward. Our gaze rounds down the mountainous Attic coast full thirty miles to where Sunium thrusts out its haughty cape into the Ægean and points the way across the island-studded sea.

    Evening is creeping on. Behind us sounds the great pæan, the solemn chant to Athena, bestower of good to men. As the sun goes down over the distant Argolic hills his rays spread a clear pathway of gold across the waters. Islands, seas, mountains far and near, are touched now with shifting hues,—saffron, violet, and rose,—beryl, topaz, sapphire, amethyst. There will never be another landscape like unto this in all the world. Gladly we sum up our thoughts in the cry of a son of Athens, Aristophanes, master of song, who loved her with that love which the land of Athena can ever inspire in all its children, whether its own by adoption or by birth:

"Oh, thou, our athens! violet-crowned, brilliant, most enviable of cities!"

 

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