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recollection of what had passed in the day, threw me into a reverie, in the course of which I fell asleep, whilst my mind with more distinctness than is usual in dreaming, pursued its waking train of thought after the following manner :
'I found myself in a stately portico, which being on an eminence, gave me the prospect of a city, inclosing a prodigious circuit, with groves, gardens, and fields, seemingly set apart for martial exercises and sports; the houses were not clustered into streets and alleys like our great trading towns, but were placed apart and separated without any regular order, as if each man had therein consulted his own particular taste and enjoyments. I though I never saw so delightful a place, nor a people who lived so much at their ease: I felt a freshness and salubrity in the climate, that seemed to clear the brain, and give a spring to the spirits and whole animal frame: the sun was bright and glowing, but the lightness of the atmosphere and a refreshing breeze qualified the heat in the most delicious manner. As I looked about with me with wonder and delight, I observed a great many edifices of the purest architecture, that seemed calculated for public purposes; and wherever my eye went, it was encountered by a variety of statues in brass or marble; immediately at the foot of the steps, leading to the portico, in which I stood, I observed a figure in brass of exquisite workmanship, which by its attributes I believed designed to represent the heathen deity Mercurius. In the center of the city there was an edifice inclosed within walls, which I took to be the citadel : a rapid stream of clear water meandered about the place, and was trained through groves and gardens in the most picturesque and pleasing manner, while the prospect at distance was bounded by the sea.
As I stood wrapt in contemplation of this new
and brilliant scenery, methought I was accosted by a middle-aged man in a loose garment of fine purple, who wore his hair after the manner of our ladies, braided and coiled round upon the crown of his head with great care and delicacy to a considerable heighth; and (which I thought remarkable) he had fastened the braids in several places with golden pins, on which were several figures of small grasshoppers of the same metal; behind him walked a servant-youth, or slave, carrying a light wicker chair for his master to repose in, a custom that seemed to me to argue great effeminacy; and looking about me I found it was pretty universal, many of the bettermost sort of citizens being seated in the streets, conversing at their ease, though there was certainly nothing in the climate, that made such an indulgence
As I was eyeing this gentleman with a surprize, that I must own had some small tincture of contempt in it, he turned himself to me, and in the most complaisant manner imaginable accosted me in my own language, telling me, he perceived I was a stranger in Athens, and if I was curious to see what was remarkable in the place, he was ready to dedicate the day to my service. To this courteous address I returned the best answer I was able, adding that every thing was new to me and many things appeared admirable. You will say so, replied he, before the day is past, and yet I cannot shew you in the space of a day the hundredth part of what this city contains worth a stranger's observation: of a certain Arts and Sciences are now carried to their utmost pitch, and no future age I think will succeed, in which the glory of the Athenian commonwealth, and the genius of its citizens shall be found superior to their present lustre.
The portico, in which you stand, continued the
Athenian, is what we call Pacile, or the painted Portico; the brazen statue at the foot of the steps was raised by the nine Archons in honour of Mercurius Agoræus, or the Forensal; and dedicated by them to the tribes: that by its side is the statue of Solon, the other at some distance is the lawgiver Lycurgus. The gate before you, on which you see those warlike trophies, was so adorned in memory of the defeat of Plistarchus, who was brother of the famous Cassander, and commanded his cavalry and auxiliary troops in the action recorded. These paintings behind you, with which the portico is furnished and from which it has its name, are all upon public subjects in commemoration of wise or valiant citizens: the pictures on your right hand are by the celebrated Polygnotus, these on your left by Micon, equal to his rival in art, but not in munificence; for Polygnotus would accept no other reward for his works, than the fame inseparable from such eminent performances; Micon on the contrary was paid by the state. There are several others by the hands of our great masters, particularly that incomparable piece, which represents the field of Marathon, a composition by the great Panænus, brother of the statuary Phidias; but this, as well as the others, will demand a more particular description.
Examine this composition on your right; it is the work of Polygnotus: you see two armies drawn up front to front and on the point of engaging; these are the Athenians, the adverse troops are the Lacedemonians; the scene is Enoe; such is the contrivance of the artist, that you are sure victory is to declare for the Athenians, though the battle is not yet commenced.
In the opposite piece you see the battle of Theseus with the Amazons; a capital composition by Micon; these warlike ladies are fighting on horse
back; with what wonderful art has the master expressed the character of athletic beauty without deviating into vulgarity and grossness! If you recollect the Lysistrata of Aristophanes you will meet an eulogium on this picture; it is thus the sister arts encourage and support each other.
Now turn to Polygnotus's side and look at that magnificent piece of art: the painter has chosen for the subject of his composition the council of the Grecian chiefs upon the violence done to Cassandra by Ajax after the capture of Troy; you see the brutal character of the man strongly expressed in the hero of the piece; amongst that group of Trojan captives Cassandra is conspicuous; that figure which represents Laodice, is worth your notice, as being a portrait of Elpinice a celebrated courtesan: scrupulous people have taken offence at it, but great painters will indulge themselves in these liberties, and are fond of painting after beautiful nature, of which I could give you innumerable examples.
Now let us in the last place regale our eyes with this inestimable battle of Marathon by Panæænus: What think you of it? Was it not a reward worthy of the heroes, who preserved their country on that glorious day? Which party is most honoured by the work, the master who wrought it, or the valiant personages who are recorded by it? It is a question difficult to decide. You will observe three different groups in this superb composition, describing three different periods of the action: here you see the Athenians and their allies the Plateans just commencing the action.-There, further removed in perspective, the barbarians are defeated; the slaughter is raging, and the Medes are plunging despe rately into the marshy lake to avoid their pursuers; examine the back ground, and you see the Phoenician gallies; the barbarians are making a bold at
tack, and the sea is covered with wrecks: all mouths are open in applause of this picture, and it was but the other day, that the great orator Demosthenes referred to it in a solemn harangue upon Neæra, as did Eschines in his pleadings against Ctesiphon. All our Captains are taken from the life; that General who is encouraging his troops is Miltiades; he is the hero of the piece, and I can assure you the resemblance is in all points exact: this is the portrait of Callimachus the Polemarck: there you see the hero Echetlus, and this is the brave Epizelus; that Athenian, who is valiantly fighting, is Cynogirus himself, who lost both his hands in the action; there goes an extraordinary story with that dog which is by his side, and has seized the dying barbarian by the throat; the faithful creature would not forsake his master; he was killed in the action, and is now deservedly immortalized in company with the illustrious heroes, who are the subject of the piece. Those splendid warriors in the army of the Medes, who are standing in their chariots, and calling to their troops, are the generals Datis and Artaphanes. They are drawn in a proud and swelling style, and seem of a larger size and proportion than our Athenian champions; and the fact is, that this group was inserted by another master; they are by the hand of Micon, and perhaps do not exactly harmonize with the rest; the silly Athenians were piqued at their appearance, and in a fit of jealousy punished Micon by a fine for having painted them too flatteringly; the painter suffered in his pocket, but the people in my opinion were disgraced by the sentence: this circumstance has given occasion for r r many on the part of Micon to contest the honour of the painting with Pananus, who in justice must be considered as principal author of the work; and in