Propylaea. ATHENS. 2. Route. 43
Athenian naval victories in the Hellespont in 411-410. The most
admired among the remains of this parapet (now in the Acropolis
Museum, p. 63) are the slabs bearing a representation of a cow led
by two Victories and the 'sandal-fastening' Nike, but the trained
and sympathetic eye will find a feast of beauty in the other frag¬
The *View from beside the temple of Nike is justly celebrated.
Before us lie the Bay of Phaleron, the peninsula of Munychia, the
town and harbour of Piraeus, and the island of Salamis, in front of which
is the small island of Psyttaleia, with its lighthouse. A little farther to
the right, beyond the Bay of Eleusis, rises the dome-like rock of Acro-
Corinth, backed by loftier and more distant heights. To the right of
this, but in the immediate foreground, rise the rocky steps of the Pnyx.
In the plain are the venerable olive plantations. Above these rise Skara-
manga and the mountains of Megara. On the S.W., to the left of the
tower-like Monument of Philopappos, opens the wide Saronic Gulf, backed
by the island ot^Egina, with the lofty Mt. Elias, the mountains of Argo-
lis, and the island of Hydra. To the left we have an unimpeded view of
the coast of Attica as far as the little island of Gaidaronisi, off Cape Sun-
ion, a distance of over 30 M. This was the scene Byron had in his mind
in the opening lines of the third canto of'The Corsair'.
'Slow sinks, more lovely ere his race be run,
'Along Morea's hills the setting sun;
'Not, as in northern climes, obscurely bright,
'But one unclouded blaze of living light!
'O'er the hush'd deep the yellow beam he throws,
'Gilds the green wave, that trembles as it glows.
'On old JDgina's rock and Idra's isle,
'The god of gladness sheds his parting smile;
'O'er his own regions lingering, loves to shine,
'Though there his altars are no more divine.
'Descending fast the mountain shadows kiss
'Thy glorious gulf, unconquer'd Salamis!
'Their azure arches through the long expanse
'More deeply purpled meet his mellowing glance,
'And tenderest tints, along their summits driven,
'Mark his gay course, and own the hues of heaven;
'Till, darkly shaded from the land and deep,
'Behind his Delphian cliff he sinks to sleep.'
Here, according to the old legend related by Pausanias, King .#5geus
took his stand to catch the first glimpse of the returning ship in which
Theseus had sailed to Crete. Theseus unhappily forgot to hoist the white
sails that were to announce his victory over the Minotaur, and his aged
father, believing the black sails to be a signal of the death of his son,
threw himself headlong from the rock.
The **Propylsea (FIpoTcuXcua), the most important secular work
in ancient Athens, consisting entirely of Pentelic marble, was be¬
gun in B.C. 437, on the foundations of an earlier gateway (p. 39),
and was completed in five years. + The architect was Mnesikles.
This magnificent building, 'the brilliant jewel on the front of the
conspicuous rocky coronet of the Athenian Acropolis', rivalled the
Parthenon in the admiration of the ancients; and even now, when
time and the destructiveness of man have done their worst, we
recognize in its noble design the bloom of eternal youth. The im-
i See Bohn, 'Die Propyliien der Akropolis zu Athen' (Berlin, 1882).