Page images
PDF
EPUB

an immense theatre, whose enormous portals are yet standing: it seems to be one of the grandest and most perfect specimens which the ancients have left of this kind of build. ing. The situation selected for it, according to a custom observed throughout Greece, is the side of a mountain sloping to the sea. Thus, by the plans of Grecian architects, the vast operations of Nature were made subservient to works of art; for the mountains on which they built their theatres possessed naturally a theatrical form, and, towering behind. them, exhibited a continuation of the immense coilon which contained the seats for the spectators, giving a prodigious dignity to the appearance. Indeed, it may be said, that not only the mountains, but the sea itself, and all the prospect before the spectators assembled in these buildings, must have been considered by the architects as forming parts of one magnificent design. Everything seen at Telmessus is Cyclopean; a certain vastness of proportion, as in the walls of Tirynthus or of Crotona, excites a degree of admiration mingled with awe; and this may be said to characterize the vestiges of the Dorian colonies all over the coast of Asia Minor. Some of the stones used in its construction are nine feet long, three feet wide, and two feet thick. Five immense portals, not unlike the ruins of Stonehenge, conducted to the arena. Of these three are standing. The stones which compose these gates are yet larger; the cen tral gateway consists only of five, and two others, of three each, placed together without any cementation or grooving. The uprights of the central portal are ten feet two inches, and five feet eleven inches high, making the whole height sixteen feet one inch; they are three feet ten inches broad, and twenty inches thick. The transverse stone is ten feet

* "It is smaller than that of Patara, the diameter being only two hundred and fifty-four feet (see p. 232), which, Dr. Clarke says, is not half that of the theatre of Alexandria Troas. Yet the effect produced by it,' he adds, 'seemed to be greater.' It has twenty-eight rows of seats, divided at the fifteenth seat from the bottom by a diozama or corridor, all of which remain entire."

207

seven inches long. The stones of which the walls consist, between the portals, are eight feet ten inches in length; these, too, are laid one upon another without cement, exhibiting the same simple and massive structure as the rest of the building. Before the front of the theatre extended a noble terrace, to which a magnificent flight of steps conducted from the sea. The walls of the theatre have furnished materials for building the pier of the present town.

“Near this theatre there are other remains; among others, a lofty and very spacious vaulted apartment, open in front, hewn in the rock beneath the declivity upon which the theatre is situated. The sides are of the natural stone, but the back is of masonry, stuccoed so as to look like the rock, but evidently intended to serve as a screen, concealing a recess of the same height and breadth as the vault itself. In this recess Dr. Clarke conjectures that the soothsayers, for which Telmessus was renowned,* probably secreted themselves, so that when persons entered the vault to consult the oracle, a voice apparently supernatural might give the anThe entrance to it is concealed, but, either by accident or design, a small aperture has been broken in the wall, about four feet from the floor. A flight of steps ex. tended from this remarkable cave to the shore.

swer.

RUINS OF TELMESSUS.

6

"The tombs of Telmessus are of two kinds. The more extraordinary are sepulchres hewn in the face of perpendicular rocks, in places where the sides of the mountain exhibit an almost inaccessible steep. In these situations,' says Dr. Clarke, 'may be seen excavated chambers, worked with such marvellous art as to resemble porticoes with Ionic columns, and gates and doors beautifully sculptured, on which are carved the representations of embossed iron-work, bolts

* "So renowned was Telmessus for the art of divination, that Croesus, king of Lydia, sent on one occasion, mentioned by Herodotus, to consult its seers. The famous harusper or soothsayer of Alexander the Great was Aristander of Telmessus."

and hinges. Yet every such appearance, however numerous the parts that compose it, proves, upon examination, to consist of one stone. A similar style of workmanship may be observed in the stupendous Indian temples. When any of the columns have been broken at their bases, they remain suspended by their capitals, being, in fact, a part of the architrave and cornice, which they seem to support, and therefore sustained by the mass of rock above, to which they all belong. These are the sepulchres which resemble those of Persepolis. The other kind of tomb found at Telmessus is the true Grecian soros, the sarcophagus of the Romans. Of this sort there are several, but of a size and grandeur far exceeding anything of the kind elsewhere, standing, in some instances, upon the craggy pinnacles of lofty precipitous rocks. It is as difficult to determine how they were there placed, as it would be to devise means for taking them down; of such magnitude are the single stones composing each soros. Nearer to the shore and in less elevated situations appear other tombs of the like nature and of still larger size, which are formed of more than one stone; and almost all exhibit inscriptions. The largest of those near to the shore, situated in a valley between the mountains and the sea, is composed of five immense masses, four being used for the sides, and one for the lid. The length is ten feet, by eight feet five inches wide. A small opening, shaped like a door, is barely large enough to allow a passage for the human body. Examining its interior by means of this aperture, we perceived another small square opening in the floor of this vast soros, which seemed to communicate with an inferior vault. Such cavities might be observed in all the sepulchres of Telmessus, excepting those cut in the rocks; as if the bodies had been placed in the lower receptacle, while the soros above answered the purpose of a cenotaph. Such a mode of interment is still exhibited in all our English cemeteries: it is a practice that we derived

209

from the Romans, and the form of their sarcophagus may yet be noticed in almost every churchyard of our island. Gipsies, who were encamped in great numbers among the ruins, had used some of the vaults as sheds for their goats.'

"The first species of sepulchre, which Dr. Clarke terms Persepolitan, is evidently of Asiatic origin; the second may be referred to the Dorian colonists, whose dialect is retained in almost every inscription extant on these shores. That which Dr. Clarke copied from the large soros above described, the tomb of Helen, the daughter of Jason,* was supposed by Professor Porson to be older than the 100th Olympiad (B.C. 377). A little to the east of this is another singular monument, of a quadrangular form, consisting of enormous masses of stone placed together without cement, and having the appearance of a basement to some obelisk or pyramid. Viewed externally, it seems to be a solid cube; but, having effected an entrance by means of chasms produced by earthquakes, Dr. Clarke found within an arch upon each of the sides. Between these arches, the intervening parts, that is to say, the solid angles of the building, are each of one entire stone of incredible size, and scooped within so as to form a dome by meeting in the upper part of the fabric. Upon the outside, the arches were walled up, to give addi. tional strength to the building. All the ground before it towards the sea had been levelled, and was formerly covered with masonry.' The interior of the excavated sepulchres exhibits a square chamber, with one or more receptacles for bodies, shaped like baths, upon the sides of the apartment,

"

TOMBS AND INSCRIPTIONS.

"The inscription is as follows: 'Helen, who was also Aphion, the daughter of Jason, the son of Diogenes, a woman of Telmessus, constructed this edifice for herself, and late in life has buried herself therein; and to Apollonides her own son, and to Helen, who was also called Aphion, her own grand-daughter, but to nobody else, be it allowed to be deposited in the turret, after that she herself is therein entombed. But if any person presume to put any person therein, let him be devoted to the infernal gods, and let him yearly pay to the treasury of the Telmessensians fifteen drachms' (nine shillings and eightpence farthing)."

and neatly chiselled in the body of the rock. The mouths have been originally closed by square slabs exactly fitted to the grooves cut for their reception. But some of these sepulchres are without any discoverable entrance. The seeming doors proved, on examination, to be integral parts of the solid rock; nor would the interior have been discerned, had not an aperture been made by violence in one of the divisions hewn in imitation of panels. Dr. Clarke supposes that the real entrance must have been concealed by the cu. rious cement observed in the oracular cave,' and that the only clew was probably in the possession of the family or of the priests. Hence may have originated the Oriental tales of charms used in admission to subterraneous caves and chambers of the dead.' Inscriptions were found on many of these sepulchres in various characters, and referable to very different periods; some in well-formed, legible Greek, but others, it is supposed, of Phoenician workmanship.""

6

We occupied the best part of two days examining these ruins, when we began to think of again setting sail for Rhodes.

We were now again on terra firma, out of the way of the plague, and we felt too secure to desire to try our fortunes again on the mountain wave in the uncomfortable craft that brought us hither; and what determined us to alter our plan of future proceeding more than all other reasons, was the great uncertainty when we should be able to arrive at Smyrna with such variable breezes, and head winds, and calms, as are so prevalent at this season on this coast. We came to the determination to let the vessel go round through the Archipelago, while we are take our "land tacks aboard,” and cross the deserted plains and mountains of Asia Minor to the place of our destination.

We have landed our tents, stores, and light baggage, leaving the heavier articles to go by sea, and are now encamped

« PreviousContinue »