Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/881

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

but may the Fates be propitious on the 9th and enable us to place a wreath on its tomb!" "The Fates," the London Times observes, "were indeed propitious in furnishing a funeral wreath, which, however, it would seem, must be placed upon the tomb of Prof. Lockyer's own theory."

 

At the Top of the Andes.—An attempt was made in December and January last by Mr. Edward Fitzgerald, a native of New York, and the Swiss guide Zurbriggen, to ascend Mount Aconcagua, supposed to be the highest peak of the Andes. They started on the 25th of December, and at the height of 21,000 feet found the card of Gussfeldt, the German explorer, in a tin box. The climbers were obliged to descend into the valley, but beginning a second attempt, December 30th, reached a height of 22,500 feet January 2d. On a third attempt the two reached the arête, 23,000 feet, January 14th. Mr. Fitzgerald had to turn back, but Zurbriggen continued on and reached the summit, the height of which has been variously estimated at from 22,422 to 23,910 feet. This competes with the height of Sir Martin Conway's ascent of Pioneer Peak in the Himalayas, which is also about 28,000 feet, in being the loftiest mountain ascent yet made. The previous highest ascent in recent years was that of Mr. Mummery and Mr. Hastings of 21,000 feet, on Nanga-Parbat, Himalayas. Mr. Fitzgerald has recently made an exploration of what are called the New Zealand Alps, and has published a book on the subject.

 

The Ideal of a Frieze.—Discussing Grecian architecture, Mr. H. O. Taylor observes, in his Ancient Ideals, that a frieze, on account of its shape, is adapted to represent a continuous matter. It can not well have a center toward which the rest tends, or even a center of supreme interest to which all the rest is accessory. It must rather, to vary the threatening monotony of its long line, show rising and falling waves of interest—quiet here to rest the spectator, vivid action there to excite his interest, and through all a rhythm of movement and a harmony of composition excluding everything which by disproportionate interest or size might detract from what precedes and follows. The Parthenon frieze effects this rise and fall of interest by the succession of groups taking part in the Panathenæa procession which forms its subject. We see stately maidens moving quietly, eager horses and their riders, magistrates and onlookers, till our eye finally rests with the seated gods. No one could see the whole frieze at once, but successive portions of it, as he walked beneath it. Hence it was fitting that the whole frieze should not present the same moment of time, but give the idea of a procession making ready, starting, and in motion—a plan which readily affords a rise and fall of interest. Some of the youths are not yet mounted; ahead of them are others on horses starting at slow pace, preceded by yet others in rapid gallop. Waves of rhythm appear in the rise and fall of the horses' limbs and bodies, while their heads, and still more the heads of the riders, remain more nearly on a line. This last conformity to the shape of a frieze gives a general tone of control and order to the squadron, and excludes all fear of the eager horses mastering their riders.

 

A Slavic Deity and St. Ellas.—Peron, the thunder god, was an important divinity in the calendar of the Slavs of a thousand years ago and is a conspicuous figure in their folklore. An idol erected in his honor at Kiev about A.D. 980 had a silver head, a golden beard, and a wooden body. He was also commemorated in a famous idol at Novgorod. His name has been incorporated into a great many names of places, as is shown in a list compiled by M. N. Barsov. He was worshiped with human sacrifices. In 988 the Czar Vladimir, having been converted to Christianity, ordered all the figures of Peron to be pulled down, scourged, dragged at the tails of wild horses, mutilated, and thrown into the rivers or burned; yet his name abode among the people in many widespread legends, in which he figures as master of the thunder and the storms. As Christian and Hebrew saints were introduced to take the place of the heathen heroes, he became confounded with Elias, who is described in the Bible as having also a sort of command of the air and its phenomena. Elias was the first saint accepted by the Russian Christians, and was invoked to heal wounds caused by