The Peiraeus and the Shipping
These are the chief points in the harbors; but the view from Munychia is most extensive. Almost everything in sight has its legend or its story in sober history. Ten miles away to the southward rise the red rocky hills of Ægina, Athens' old island enemy; and the tawny headlands of the Argolic coasts are visible yet farther across he horizon. Again as we follow the purplish ridge of Mount Ægaleos as it runs down the Attic coast to westward, we come to a headland then to a belt of azure water, about a mile wide, then the reddish hills of an irregular island. Every idler on the citadel can tell us all the story. On that headland on a certain fateful morning sat Xerxes, lord of the Persians, with his sword-hands and mighty men about him and his ships before him, to look down on the naval spectacle and see how his slaves would fight. The island beyond is "holy Salamis," and in this narrow strip of water has been the battle which saved the life of Hellas. Every position in the contest seems clearly in sight, even the insignificant islet of Psyttaleia, where Aristeides had landed his men after the battle, and massacred the Persians stationed there "to cut off the Greeks who tried to escape."
The water is indescribably blue, matching the azure of the sky. Ships of all kinds under sails or oars are moving lightly over the havens and the open Saronic bay. It is matchless spectacle—albeit very peaceful. We now descend to the Peiraeus proper and examine the merchant shipping and wharves, leaving the navy yards and the fighting triremes till later.
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