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ATHENS--ITS DECAY AND ITS REVIVAL



CHAPTER XII




Within a few years after the death of Demosthenes a striking evidence
was afforded of the sad change which had come over the city of Athens.
The restoration of its political freedom for a brief period by Demetrius
Poliorcetes (307 B.C.) in the name of his father Antigonus, one of the
successors (_diadochoi_) of Alexander the Great, was the occasion for an
exhibition of servility and impiety which showed that the manly spirit
of those who fought at Marathon and Salamis had utterly forsaken their
descendants. Not only were Demetrius and his father acknowledged as
kings, but they were also exalted to the rank of divinities, orders
being given by the authorities that their pictures and achievements
should be wrought into the sacred robe which figured so prominently at
the Pan-Athenaic festival, along with those of Zeus and Athena. A few
years afterwards the shameful profanation was carried still further by
the admission of Demetrius to the Parthenon as the guest of the goddess,
and by the issue of a licentious decree that whatever he commanded was
to be regarded as holy and just. How little sincerity there was in all this obsequious homage became evident
the following year, when fortune turned against Demetrius at the battle
of Ipsus. He set sail from Ephesus for Athens, but was refused
admission.

Various causes may be assigned for the decline and fall of the Athenian
state. From a political point of view the more immediate cause was its
overweening pride and unbridled ambition--typified by the character of
Alcibiades, who has been well described as the evil genius of his
country at a most critical period of its history. Hence arose the
terrible disasters which befell it in Sicily, and the subsequent
dissolution of its naval empire. If the imperial capital had paid more
respect to the claims of other Greek states associated with it in the
Delian confederacy, its fate might have been very different. But while
incurring the jealousy of Sparta and other rival powers it failed to
gain the confidence of the minor states allied to it. Its imperial
policy when at the height of its power may be contrasted with that of
Great Britain, regarding which it has been recently said by Sir Wilfred
Laurier, the Prime Minister of Canada: “The British Empire means
freedom, decentralisation, and autonomy. It will live and live for
ever.”

But Athens suffered from other causes besides its own imperial pride and
the enmity of other Greek states. As Æschylus is said to have foreseen,
the virtual abolition in a political sense of the court of Areopagus,
the great representative of traditional authority, and the failure to
provide any other adequate safeguards against democratic excesses,
could not fail sooner or later to be attended with evil consequences.
That the appointment to public offices should have been made by lot, as
a general rule, and that no one, however eminent for ability and
experience, should have been eligible as a member of the Council more
than twice, shows how the public interests of the state were sacrificed
to the theory of personal equality among the citizens. Even the high
level of culture at Athens could not justify such a disregard for the
inevitable diversity of natural gifts and acquired habits in every
community. Moreover, the love of wealth and the taste for luxury, which
resulted from the increasing prosperity of the city, tended to the
deterioration of character both among the leading men, who were too open
to bribes from foreign powers, even those at war with their country, and
among the citizens at large, who were apt to become demoralised by their
wholesale payment as dicasts, and were not content with largess at the
Dionysiac festivals only. The self-denial which led the citizens in the
time of Themistocles to forgo their claim on the proceeds of the silver
mines of Laurium, amounting to ten drachms per head, in order that an
addition might be made to their naval armament, would not have been so
readily found at the close of the fourth century, when the “Theoric
Fund” had come to be spoken of as “the cement of the democracy.”

While there are scarcely any monuments of the Macedonian period now to
be seen in Athens, it is different as regards the age of Roman
supremacy.
One of the oldest of the tributes of respect then paid by foreigners to
the famous but decaying city, is the _stoa_ of Attalus, erected by the
second king of Pergamus of that name (159-138 B.C.). The Stoa, which
formed part of the eastern boundary of the Market-place (by that time
commonly called the Cerameicus), consisted of two stories, the lower
façade having a row of forty-five Doric columns in front, with an inner
row of twenty-two Ionic columns. The latter divided the enclosed space
into two aisles, where buying and selling went on, while farther in,
behind the inner aisle, there were rooms for storing goods. The upper
story did not extend so far back, and had only one row of Doric columns,
connected by a lattice balustrade of Pentelic marble--the material of
which the columns were also made.

In the same neighbourhood may be seen one of the best preserved
monuments in Athens. It is an octagonal marble building, called the
Tower of the Winds, standing fully 40 feet high, with a diameter of 26
feet. On each of its eight sides there is an emblematic figure,
representing the wind which blows in that direction. On the top of the
tower there was once a bronze Triton, which pointed to the picture of
the wind that was blowing at the time. Under each figure is a sun-dial,
and there was also an ingenious system of waterworks within the tower,
to show the time in any weather, by night or by day. The tower was
erected in the first century B.C. by a Syrian named Andronicus.

A little farther east stands a great gate or portico, consisting of four
Doric columns, 26 feet high, with a massive architrave and pediment. An
inscription on the architrave tells that it was erected in honour of
Athena _Archegetis_ (“Foundress Athena”) by the people of Athens, from
funds bestowed on them by Julius Cæsar and the Emperor Augustus. It was
once supposed to be part of a temple, but excavations have proved that
it led into a great market-place, which was surrounded by an Ionic
colonnade, and was chiefly used (judging from an inscription found in
the neighbourhood) for the sale of olive-oil, the great gift of Athena.
In the pediment of the gate there was originally a statue of Lucius, the
adopted son of Augustus. His son-in-law Agrippa was also held in honour
in Athens; and on the Acropolis a pedestal can still be seen, close to
the Propylæa, on which his statue rested, with an inscription in which
he is styled a benefactor of the city.

On the Museum or Observatory Hill there is a marble structure called the
Monument of Philopappus, erected in the beginning of the second century
A.D., in honour of a generous Athenian citizen of that name, who was the
last hereditary king of Commagene, in Asia Minor. Above the frieze are
three niches, two of which contain statues of Philopappus and his
grandfather Antiochus Epiphanes, while in the third, on the right, there
once stood the figure of Seleucus Nicator, the founder of the dynasty.
On the north-east side of the hill there are three rock-hewn chambers,
no doubt originally tombs, though they are now called (apparently
without any justification) the Prison of Socrates.

Among all the Roman emperors Hadrian was the
greatest admirer of Athens, and conferred most benefits on the city,
both in the way of architectural adornment and otherwise. He erected a
number of magnificent buildings in the heart of the city, one of which
(as Pausanias tells us) had a hundred columns of Phrygian marble,
another a hundred columns of Libyan marble, while a third, which was
used as a library, was adorned with a gilded roof and alabaster. Part of
a rich colonnade has been preserved, and is known as the Stoa of
Hadrian. But the emperor’s greatest monument was the Olympieum, or
temple of Olympian Zeus, situated to the south-east of the Acropolis, on
the right bank of the Ilissus. The foundation of the temple had been
laid by Peisistratus nearly 700 years before, and the work had been
considerably advanced by Antiochus Epiphanes nearly 400 years later; but
it was reserved to Hadrian to complete the great undertaking, which he
did in a munificent style. Unfortunately only fifteen of the hundred or
more Corinthian columns of Pentelic marble are now standing, occupying
but a small part of the vast platform (about 2200 feet in circumference)
on which the temple stood. But such is the grandeur of the columns,
rising to a height of nearly 57 feet and fully 5½ feet in diameter, that
they form one of the most imposing ruins in the world. Even before the
commencement of the temple of Peisistratus, the place was regarded with
peculiar veneration as the traditional site of a temple erected by
Deucalion, the survivor of the Flood; and in the days of Pausanias a
cleft was to be seen in the ground, into which the subsiding waters
were said to have sunk, and where, every year, the people cast in
wheaten meal kneaded with honey, probably in memory of those who
perished in the Deluge.

Somewhere in this neighbourhood--though the exact locality has not been
determined--was the Lyceum, a gymnasium named after an old temple of
Lycean Apollo, in the midst of spacious grounds, where military reviews
were sometimes held, but chiefly famous as the place where Aristotle and
his followers had their daily walk and conversation, on account of which
they received the name of _Peripatetics_.

Between the Acropolis and the Olympieum, probably in the line of the old
city wall, stands the Arch of Hadrian, a handsome structure of Pentelic
marble, almost 60 feet high, with an archway 20 feet wide. On one side
of the entablature, facing the city, are inscribed the words, “This is
Theseus’ Athens, the old city,” and on the other side, “This is the city
of Hadrian and not of Theseus.” The emperor’s hope of a new city of
Athens has been fulfilled in modern times, but the extension has not
taken place in the direction of Hadrianopolis, but rather to the north.

Few cities in the Old World have made such rapid progress as Athens has
done since the liberation of Greece three-quarters of a century ago. In
1834, when it became the capital of the new kingdom, it had only a
population of a few hundreds, while Piræus was scarcely inhabited at
all. The population of Athens is now approaching 150,000, and that of
Piræus is about 50,000. The wealth of both has kept pace with the
population.

Piræus is a prosperous and well-built town, whose trade has outstripped
that of every other port in Greece, while Athens is incomparably the
finest city in the kingdom, containing many beautiful modern buildings,
both public and private, and some handsome streets, with shops that
would do credit to London or Paris.

The growth of Athens is chiefly due to its political importance as the
capital of the country and the residence of the king. Politics is the
chief occupation of its educated citizens--dust and politics, indeed,
are said to be its two plagues. The whole of Greece is remarkable for
its consuming interest in politics; and, next to the daily newspapers,
of which some thirteen are published in Athens, history is the favourite
reading of the people. Unfortunately for the welfare of the country, the
interest in politics does not arise so much from zeal for rival
principles as from party struggles for place and power. In these
struggles it is not merely the professional politicians whose personal
interests are affected, but also the public officials of the country,
most of whom are liable to dismissal or translation every time there is
a change of Government--an event of much more frequent occurrence in
Greece than in Great Britain. There is only one legislative chamber, the
_Boulé_ or Council, the number of whose members varies, but can never be
less than 150. They are elected on a basis of manhood suffrage, and
receive a salary of from £50 to £100 a year, according to the length of
the session. The Government consists of seven members, who receive each
£300 a year, with an additional £150 for the Prime Minister.[8]

Closely associated with the politicians are the barristers, of whom
there are about 800 in Athens, besides a great many others scattered
through the country. The highest court of appeal, both for civil and
criminal cases, bears the time-honoured name of _Areopagus_, and
consists of eighteen judges. Of inferior judges there are nearly 600 in
the whole country, most of whom are removable on a change of
Government--an evil in some degree mitigated by the fact that all
candidates for judicial posts must have passed a series of examinations
in law. The medical profession is said to be also overstocked, though
the legal fees chargeable for medical attendance would not be thought
tempting in this country. With regard to the clergy, comparatively few
of them receive their education in Athens or pass through the
University. Their average culture is very low--but not lower than their
remuneration--and the consequence is that any influence the Church
exerts on the life of the nation is of a superficial kind, and finds its
chief support in the festive celebration of the numerous Saints’ Days.
The services in the churches are of a ritualistic order, and sermons are
seldom heard except in Lent. The kissing of an _eikon_ or the lighting
of a taper appears to be with many worshippers a mere formality, while,
at the same time, there is a large amount of ignorance and superstition
in the country districts.

Of late there has been a considerable diminution in the number of
students at the University, notwithstanding the liberal subsidies which
have been granted to it by Government; and pursuits of an industrial
nature are attracting more attention. The opinion is gaining ground that
education of a literary character has been overdone, with the result
that a large proportion of those who have received an academic training
fail to find suitable employment and become idlers and hangers-on,
spending their time largely in talking politics in the neighbourhood of
the _Boulé_ or the cafés of Constitution Square. In a political sense
great importance is attached by many to the fact that about a third of
the students at the University (say 200 freshmen every year) come from
“Outer Greece,” and are expected on their return home to do much in the
way of fostering enthusiasm for the great hope of a reunited Greece, to
embrace Macedonia, Epirus, Crete, and the Levant. This hope has been
somewhat damped by the favour recently shown by Russia to Bulgaria, the
other likely claimant to Macedonia when the Turkish Empire is dissolved;
and it is to Great Britain and France that the Greeks now chiefly look
for countenance and support in their national aspirations. Their debt of
gratitude to this country finds visible acknowledgment in the fine
monument to Byron near the Arch of Hadrian, and in the statue of
Gladstone in front of the University.

There is abundance of patriotic sentiment in Greece, which shows itself
not only in eloquent speech but in voluntary contributions made in
school and through national lotteries for the purpose of providing a
more adequate navy. But what is most needed for the wellbeing of the
country is a more steady and efficient administration of its own
affairs, and greater energy and perseverance in developing its
commercial and agricultural resources. For many years emigration to the
United States of America has been going on at an alarming rate,
especially from the Peloponnesus, including some of its most fertile
provinces. The home-affection of the emigrants is shown by their
generous remittances to their friends in the old country; and one of the
most hopeful features in the life of modern Greece is to be found in the
frequency with which her sons who have succeeded abroad devote their
wealth to the founding of educational and philanthropic institutions at
Athens or elsewhere. They are rewarded with the proud name of “national
benefactors,” which is as much prized in democratic Greece as titles of
nobility in Great Britain. One of the most recent of such benefactions
is that of M. Averof (of Alexandria), who has restored the Stadium at a
cost of a million and a half of francs, fitting it up with seats of
marble from the quarries of Pentelicus (as Herodes Atticus did in the
second century A.D.), to accommodate upwards of 50,000 people.

In the Archæological Congress held at Athens in 1905, which was attended
by visitors and delegates from all parts of Europe, one of the most
interesting events was a public representation of Sophocles’ _Antigoné_ in the
Stadium. It may be questioned how far its language would be understood
even in Athens by the less educated classes. Probably the proportion of
citizens who understood it thoroughly was not much greater than in
Oxford when similar plays were put on the stage in that city some years
ago. In the days of Sophocles the whole community virtually spoke the
same language, so that his plays would be understood by the masses as
well as the classes. It would seem that even the peculiarities of his
Ionic dialect did not prevent Herodotus from being understood by the
Greeks assembled at Olympia when he recited his History to them before
it was published as a book. Nowadays the style and vocabulary of the
ancient classical authors are foreign to a large section of the Greek
nation. Hence it has been found that when the plays of Aristophanes are
turned into the colloquial speech and so presented on the stage at
Athens, they are attended with far greater success than in their
original form.

In closing, a few words may be said on what may be described as one of
the burning questions of the day. For more than a century there has been
a tendency in high quarters to approximate as much as possible to
classical Greek. Especially during the last quarter of the nineteenth
century, there has been a strenuous attempt on the part of the educated
classes, backed by the authorities in Church and State, to mould the
written language according to classical forms, by restoring the old
orthography and grammatical inflexions and by expressing new ideas and
inventions in ancient terms, frequently compounded in a curious fashion.
The ideal cherished by many educated Greeks was expressed by the
Metropolitan Archbishop of Athens when he said that he hoped the time
was not far distant when they would be using the language of Xenophon,
and that if the newspapers would introduce but one new classical word a
day, they would add 70,000 words to the language in the course of twenty
years. The archaic style has been adopted by the Government in all
public documents and in the system of education; it dominates the
speeches delivered in Parliament, except when passion gets the better of
the speakers; it is approved by the Church, and is cultivated by the
newspapers and journals, and the vast majority of authors. Hence the
most of the Greek which one reads in current literature bears a strong
resemblance to that of the classical authors studied at school and
college, and a good Greek scholar has no great difficulty in reading an
Athenian newspaper, if he make himself acquainted with a few modern
particles of frequent occurrence, and have patience to make out the
meaning of the new combinations that have been devised to meet the
requirements of modern civilisation.

But side by side with this artificial language, which, though classical
upon the surface, is generally modern in style and construction, bearing
the stamp, especially, of French and English idioms--there is what may
be called the vernacular Greek, spoken more or less by all classes when
they are not on ceremony, and understood in all parts of Greece, and in
the Levant. The difference between the two does not lie merely in
pronunciation, or grammatical forms, or the occasional use of peculiar
words, such as are found in the local dialects of almost all languages;
it shows itself in the employment of different words to express the
commonest things in daily life, such as water, bread, wine. You may see
such things called by their classical names on the merchant’s signboard,
and yet if you wish to be understood when you go into the shop you must
use the popular equivalents.

The relation between the spoken and the written Greek is often compared
to that of Italian and mediæval Latin. Italian had to struggle for a
literary existence before it gained a secure position as the national
tongue in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. But unfortunately for
Greek as a living language, ever since the days of Dionysius of
Halicarnassus it has had to contend repeatedly against a persistent
effort to go back, as far as possible, to the golden age of Athenian
literature in the fifth century B.C. Its capacity for literary purposes
has never been properly recognised, although it has preserved more of
the original language than the Italian has of Latin. This fact is now
forcing itself on the attention of the nation; and just as the
descendants of the ancient Romans have practically given up the use of
Latin, so there is an increasing party in Greece, supported by
distinguished grammarians in other lands, who hold that the intellectual
and moral life of the nation will never get fair-play and have full
scope for its energies until the Atticising pedantry which has so long
been the fashion both in Athens and in Constantinople shall be given up,
and the popular speech be recognised as a suitable instrument for
literary purposes as well as for the intercourse of common life. But
those who are of this opinion will have a great battle to fight before
they can hope to see their views prevail. A few years ago (in 1901) the
world was startled by serious disturbances in Athens over a translation
of the New Testament into the vulgar tongue, which showed what strong
passions lie at the bottom of this linguistic controversy. A scholarly
Greek merchant resident in Liverpool (Mr. Alexander Pallis), who has
brought Homer within the reach of all classes of his countrymen by a
translation into the language of the common people, set about rendering
to them a similar service in the case of the New Testament. His version
of the Gospel according to Matthew appeared in the _Acropolis_, one of
the Athenian newspapers. It called forth a letter from the Patriarch of
Constantinople to the Holy Synod of Greece, lamenting the degradation to
which the sacred book was being subjected. Then followed a great
outburst of indignation on the part of the educated classes, especially
the “noble student youth” of the University. A demand was made for the
excommunication of the translator and the banning of his work. But the
ecclesiastical authorities were not in a position to proceed to this
extremity. For the question was complicated by the fact that a popular
version of the New Testament, not quite so familiar perhaps in its style as that of
Mr. Pallis, had been prepared shortly before by a learned lady at the
instance of the Queen of Greece, who had found that many of the inmates
of the gaols and hospitals which she visited were almost destitute of
Christian knowledge, and were incapable of understanding the Greek of
the New Testament. This translation had been revised by a learned
Commission, and had been commended by the Metropolitan, Procopius. The
excitement rose to such a height that nothing but a general
excommunication of all modern Greek translations of the New Testament
would satisfy the public. This demand not being granted, an indignation
meeting, attended by more than 30,000 people, was held around the
columns of Olympian Jupiter, and the feeling of the crowd was voiced by
a student, who declared that during the centuries of Turkish oppression
no such deadly injury had been inflicted on the nation with the sword as
that which had now been perpetrated with the pen. The meeting was
followed by riots in the streets, in which a collision took place
between the crowd and the military, attended with serious and in some
cases fatal results. Before the night was over, the Chief of the Police
and the Commander of the Garrison had resigned their posts; a similar
step had to be taken even by the Archbishop, who was conducted to the
King’s palace in the middle of the night by the Prime Minister and the
Minister of Public Instruction; and within a few days the Ministry
itself had to relinquish office.

The whole occurrence was a striking proof of the passionate pride that
is latent in the Greek character in any matter that affects its
reputation and self-esteem. Although the question came to assume a
semi-religious, semi-political aspect, the real offence lay in the fact
that the language used in the translation was the vulgar tongue, which
the University authorities desired to suppress, so far as its use for
literary purposes was concerned. If the translation had been allowed to
get a footing at home or in school it would have acquired a place in the
affections of the people. To avoid this danger the ecclesiastical
authorities issued an edict forbidding the use of all translations or
any departure from the original text--and this notwithstanding the fact
that there were thousands of the members of their Church who could
derive little or no benefit from the New Testament without the help of a
translation. It is easy to understand, from the feelings with which many
devout people in this country received the changes made on the English
Revised Version about thirty years ago, that the Greeks would be very
sensitive to any alteration on the New Testament, which had been the
cherished symbol of their nationality under the dominion of the Turk.
But in this case there was no alteration of the sense; and no one was
compelled to use the translation unless he pleased, nor was there any
attempt to supersede the reading of the original text in church. No
doubt the language of Mr. Pallis’ translation was sometimes of a very
homely character. But to talk of its being a “profanation of the
Gospel”was quite a misrepresentation, and seems almost ridiculous in view of
the fact--which the discovery of Egyptian _papyri_ has been bringing
home to us of late--that the language of the New Testament was, at the
time it was written, the language in every-day use among the masses of
the people for whom it was intended, which the learned men of the day
would have disdained to employ for literary purposes. No such outcry was
raised in this country when a Scots translation of the Psalms was issued
by the late Dr. P. H. Waddell, though it might have been more reasonably
objected to as serving no practical purpose. But there was no jealousy
of the Scots dialect on the part of the Church or the educated
classes--hence it was simply regarded as a literary curiosity.

Equally groundless was the notion that the issue of translations was
part of a scheme to which the Queen (a Russian princess) was supposed to
be accessory, for the purpose of playing into the hands of the Russians
in Macedonia, by leading the Greek population to surrender their
birthright as the lawful heirs of the New Testament. To understand this
suspicion we must remember that the Greeks had long prided themselves on
the fact that they and they alone could read the very words of the New
Testament in their own tongue, and they were afraid that they would
forfeit this distinction and be reduced to a level with their Slavonic
neighbours, if the need for a translation were admitted.[9]

However inconsistent it may seem, this attachment to the Greek of the
New Testament is only another phase of the same pride of ancestry that
is seen in the straining after classical Greek.[10] The desire to pose
before the world as the descendants of the nation which produced Homer
and Æschylus and Pericles and Plato and Demosthenes has led them to
sacrifice in some measure the real interests of the nation to the
glamour of a remote and glorious past. Just as they have been ashamed of
some mediæval monuments which reminded them of humiliating epochs in
their history, so they have tried to get rid of words and forms which
bore the stamp of foreign ascendency. But such affectation cannot alter
facts, and is bad for the _morale_ of a nation. The pride of birth, when
carried to excess, may hurt the character of a people no less than of an
individual, and foster a theatrical and pretentious spirit. It is easy
to see that in the education of the young it cannot be favourable to
vigour or spontaneity of thought if the pupil is denied the use of the
words to which he has been accustomed from his earliest years. With such
a discord between experience and expression, it is no wonder that the
Greek people have produced so little native literature during the last
two thousand years, and that they are so largely dependent at the
present time on foreign authorship, especially Russian, English, and
French. The loss sustained in almost all the practical departments of
the national life, both sacred and secular, is alleged to be scarcely
less serious. It can hardly be otherwise, indeed, if the language
employed in public documents is only partially or with difficulty
understood by a large proportion of the people for whom it is intended.
Moreover, it cannot be good for the nation to be divided, intellectually
speaking, into two more or less antagonistic camps, corresponding
roughly to the educated and the uneducated.

Of recent years there have been signs of a strong reaction. Largely
owing to the ability and zeal of Professor Psichari, a son-in-law of the
late M. Renan, the Atticising tendency is not nearly so prevalent as it
was twenty years ago, and a considerable native literature is now making
its appearance not only in poetry (in which it has always been strong)
but also in novels, dramas, journals, newspapers, and even in the
publication of grammars. This literature is no longer confined, as it
used to be, with few exceptions, to the Ionian Islands (where Salomos of
Zanté and Valaoritis of Leucas sang) and Crete (where Cornaro, of
Venetian extraction, produced his great epic _Erotokritos_, which
procured for him the title of the “Homer of the People”). Even
Constantinople is beginning to breathe the new spirit; and there is
reason to hope that a compromise between the two extremes may yet be
effected, by which the nation may realise its essential unity amid
diversity, remaining true to its illustrious ancestry, without ignoring
or suppressing the other elements--Roman, Byzantine, Turkish--which have
contributed to its development. Its scholars are beginning to see that
the idea of classical Greek ever becoming a universal language for men
of culture is a vain dream, and that a nation’s speech, like its life,
must undergo continual modification. Such modification, though it may
appear to the pedant to be corruption, is evolution to the philosopher
and man of sense. The history of the Russian and Czech languages, which
have adapted themselves to literary purposes with such success during
the last two hundred years, encourages the hope that the language now
spoken by the common people of Greece may go through a similar process
of development, borrowing from the ancient Greek what it requires in
order to meet the needs of science and philosophy, while holding its
ground as the essential basis of the national speech.[11]

Akin to this controversy is the question as to the proper pronunciation
of Greek. So different is the pronunciation now current among the Greeks
from that which is in vogue in this country that, even without any
difference in vocabulary or grammar, a Western scholar trained in the
Erasmian system would find the greatest difficulty in understanding or
making himself understood by a modern Greek, who allows the accentuation to supersede
the vowel-quantity and reduces the diphthong to a simple sound. How
different, for example, Peloponnēsos sounds when it is pronounced
Pelopónnĭssos, or ta-nephē (τ νφη) when pronounced ta-néphī. The
difference is still more marked when you hear a modern Greek read Homer,
for he seems to do away with the metre altogether. Till lately the
Greeks were inclined to smile at our rendering of the quantities. But
recently they have been learning from one who is perhaps their highest
authority on such questions (G. Chatzidakis) that ancient inscriptions
and transcriptions show that their living language has not stood still
in the matter of pronunciation any more than in other respects. It does
not follow from this, however, that the Erasmian pronunciation, though
older and more correct as to quantity than is now current among the
Greeks, is in all respects the same as would have been heard in the

streets of Athens in the days of Socrates.

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