to Thebes. HIPPOKRENE. 7. Route. 163
one of the Hagios Taxiarchis, at the spot where some authorities
locate the ancient Keressos (comp. p. 164).
The detour to the Valley of the Muses (modern Greek xotXot?
tuW Mouocbv) and Hippokrene requires at least half-a-day and
will be found highly interesting, though it will probably not fully
come up to the traveller's expectations.
The cult of the Muses among the Greeks had its birth in Thrace; and
Orpheus, Musaeos, and Thamyris were among its earliest apostles. These
Thracians were not the barbarians of a later age; they belonged to a Greek
tribe who had settled on Olympos, and who, migrating towards the S., trans¬
ferred the seat of the Muses from the divine mountain Olympos to Helikon.
Inscriptions and passages in books prove that the worship which flourished
here lasted until far on in the Roman imperial period. Like almost no
other worship of the gods, this cult was purely intellectual. Sacrifices
were not offered in temples by the priests of the Muses; but within the
sacred enclosure altars and statues were erected, some of the latter from
the chisels of masters like Myron and Lysippos. The advent of Christian¬
ity obliterated the original significance of the Muses and put an end to
their worship. Zosimos relates that the statues dedicated to the Muses
were taken by the Emperor Constantine to Constantinople, where they were
destroyed by a fire in 404 A.D.
Shortly before reaching the hill of Askra we diverge to the S.W.
by a path which soon brings us to the Chapel of Hagia Paraskeve on
the W. side of the Valley of the Muses, and thence to an angle of the
mountain, with some ruined chapels, where there appears to have
stood a grove of the Muses in antiquity. The French School (p. 15)
has exhumed here a small Ionic temple, a colonnade, and the remains
of a theatre. Opposite, on a mountain-spur on the E. side of the
valley, rises the copious spring of Midgaldki, which may possibly be
the ancient Aganippe. The route now leads to the E. side and as¬
cends steeply to (1 hr.) a small plain, which extends up to the pre¬
cipitous S. and E. slopes of Helikon. Before descending hence to the
E. (left) via the Chapel of Hagios Nikolaos (p. 164) to Eremokastro,
we may ascend to the W. (right) to (2 hrs.) Hippokrene (with a good
guide; comp. p. 161). The ascent is by a steep and difficult path
through pine-wood, but the horses may be retained for 1 hr. more.
In a small opening, surrounded by rocks, on the N. slope of the
highest summit of E. Helikon, we come upon a spring, enclosed like
a well, and called Kryopegadi ('cold spring'). This is the world-
famed Hippokrene, which was said to have gushed out at the stroke
of the hoof of Pegasus, as he leapt up towards heaven. The ice-cold
water stands about 10 ft. below the coping of the well; but holes
have been made in the side of the wall so that it is possible to
descend in the interior. The lonely well seems to have undergone
no alteration and been subject to no disturbance from the remotest
times until now.
'When wearily you scale the height of Helicon's steep mountain,
'How sweet the flowing nectar of Hippocrene's fountain!
'Steep also is the poet's path; but whosoe'er attaineth
'At last the crowning summit, the Muse's guerdon gaineth'.
Aatfc*-fi»fe,Ht. 230, transl. by J. E. Sandys.