Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/145

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The Blaok Sea. 117 that resorted to it. Arrian, indeed, assigns to these birds, which he says were of various species *, and innumerable, a very dil?rent office in connexion with the name the island bore. It was a pre- zent, he says, from Thetis to her son Achilles. He had himself lived upon k, and there was here a temple erected to his honour, with a statue of ancient workmanship, where the goats, the natives of the island, were sacrificed to this demigod, and many costly offe. rings adorned his shrine, with inscriptions, Greek and Latin, in vanons metres, addressed both to Achilles and Patroclus. The birds, he adds, are the guardians of the temple; they fly forth in the morning to the sea, where, having bedewed their plumage with its waters, they hasten back to sprinkle and to cleanse the sacred pavement with their wings ! The classical scholar is here, perhaps, reminded of the beau- tiful scene described in the opening of th? Ion of Euripides, al. though, as respects the birds, it presents the reverse of the picture which .Arrian describes. There we find the young Ion? the nnrsling of the Temple of Apollo, at Delphi, employed at early dawn in. sprinkling the water of Castalia, and in brnshing away all impurities fi'om the shrine with the branches of the hal- lowed laurel. The birds come flocking to the sacred scene from their abodes upon Parnassus; but, all poetical as may be their dwelling-place, and well-tutored as such birds of Apollo may be supposed to have been. still, it is the care of the youthful guardian of this temple to chase them from its courts and altars, under the rational apprehension that they would rather defile than purify the offerings and the holy places. To return, however, to our subject. .Arria n goes on to relate several other tales which were current in his days of the wonders of this island, in which he takes care to express his own belief, and, among others, one which shows that the ancient sailors had something of the same superstitions as those which still prevail among our seamen. Some, he says, have affirmed, that whe? .they were off this coast, they have seen Achilles perched upon the mast-head or yard-arm, in the same way that Castor and Pollux are seen by navigators in every sea, and are hailed as the symbols of their safety. It does not, however, seem that Artinn knew much of this island of his own knowledge; for it is pretty clear that he confounds it, in some respects, with a tongue of land in the neighbourhood of the Borysthenes, and to the eastward of that river called 'A?,xx?w? ?0r, the Course of_Achilles, which Strabo, and I believe all other geographers of note, held to be altogether different from the island of.Achilles, and which Pliny describes to be in the form of a sword-blade stretcl!ed across the sea. Dr.

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