Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 133.djvu/258

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
252
SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELLA.

also for vases. There were also beads of amethyst, onyx, agate, serpentine, and the like precious stones, with splendid intaglio ornamentation representing men or animals. When towards the middle of November he wished to close the excavations, Dr. Schliemann excavated the spots marked by the sepulchral slabs, and found below all of them immense rock-cut tombs, as well as other seemingly much older tombstones, and another very large sepulchre from which the tombstones had disappeared. These tombs and the treasures they contained, consisting of masses of jewels, golden diadems, crowns with foliage, large stars of leaves, girdles, shoulder-belts, breast-plates, etc., were described in detail. He argued that as one hundred goldsmiths would need years to prepare such a mass of jewels, there must have been goldsmiths in Mycenæ from whom such jewels could have been bought ready-made. He spoke of the necklaces, too, and of the golden mask taken from one of the bodies, which must evidently be a portraiture of the deceased. Dr. Schliemann then proceeded to show that in a remote antiquity it was either the custom, or, at least, that it was nothing unusual that living persons wore masks. That also immortal gods wore masks was proved by the bust of Pallas Athene, of which one copy was in the British Museum and two in Athens. It was also represented on the Corinthian medals. The treasures of Mycenæ did not contain an object which represented a trace of Oriental or Egyptian influences, and they proved, therefore, that ages before the epoch of Pericles there existed here a flourishing school of domestic artists, the formation and development of which must have occupied a great number of centuries. They further proved that Homer had lived in Mycenæ's golden age, and at or near the time of the tragic event by which the inmates of the five sepulchres lost their lives, because shortly after that event Mycenæ sank by a sudden political catastrophe to the condition of a poor powerless provincial town, from which it had never again emerged. They had the certainty that Mycenæ's flourishing school of art disappeared, together with its wealth; but its artistical genius survived the destruction, and when, in later centuries, circumstances became again favorable for its development, it lifted a second time its head to the heavens.

No doubt Dr. Schliemann's theories will be subjected to much criticism when the full details and drawings appear in his forthcoming work. Of the value of the discoveries themselves there can be but one opinion. Those alone which have been made in the Acropolis of what many have been inclined hitherto to regard as a half mythical city are of themselves sufficient to entitle him to an important place in the field of scientific research. Both to the historian and ethnologist his researches must prove of the greatest value, and all who have been stirred with the recital of the deeds of the Homeric heroes will rejoice to have henceforth reasonable external evidence for regarding them as something more than myths.




From The Academy.

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELLA.

Not more than seven days' journey from London by way of Paris, Bordeaux, and thence by one of the Pacific Company's magnificent steamships to Corufia, stands, on its mountainous site, the to Englishmen little-known city of Santiago de Compostella, the Rome, or the Jerusalem, of Spain. Take it all in all, Santiago is one of the most curious and strikingly situated cities I have ever seen. Like Siena, it is tumbled about upon lofty hills, but instead of being surrounded by the rich fields of fertile Tuscany, it is hemmed in by bare rolling moors covered with brown heather and russet ferns, from which, now and then, protrude huge boulders of dark grey granite. Like the Jerusalem that now is, Santiago is a holy city and nothing else, and as it owed its original existence to the possession of the relics of St. James, so it continues to exist now solely by the vast but now impoverished ecclesiastical establishments which grew up around them. Nothing but its being a vast reliquary can account for its being what it is. No commerce-laden river flows near it, there is no fertility of soil, no charm of position. From the midst of wild, wind-swept moors, dark, damp, and dreary, like those of Cornwall or Dartmoor, its vast grey-granite towers and pinnacles rise up in solitary grandeur, and its deep-toned, ever-speaking bells, heavy with the reminiscences of the past, sound forth over a howling wilderness which reaches to the very walls. Though the granite, especially in wet weather — and there is much rain at Santiago — is of too dark a tint for perfection of color, yet nothing can be more striking than the view of the huge cathedral and surrounding palaces and