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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/422

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tion of the gardens of Alkinous, the author of the 'Odyssey' tells us there "grow tall trees blooming, pear-trees, and pomegranates, and apple-trees with bright fruit, and sweet figs, and olives and their blossoms. Some of the fruit is always ripening, yet there is a constant bloom on the trees and much unripe fruit. There too, skirting the farthest line, are all manner of garden-beds, that are perpetually fresh."

We have here a sort of combination of orchard and vegetable garden, for plainly the writer had in mind utility rather than beauty. At any rate there is nothing in this quotation, in which the author had literally sent his imagination on its loftiest flights, to indicate that he knew cultivated flowers. The same may be said of 'Calypso's Isle.' The Greeks considered crowns of flowers or leaves of some kind indispensable at every banquet and revel. Anacreon, the prince of voluptuaries, frequently refers to this well-known custom. The material of which the wreath was made does not seem to have been regarded as of primary importance. The symbol only, not the substance, was essential. According to Xenophon, when some of the ten thousand in Armenia in the depth of winter were invited to a feast by one of the native chiefs, the revelers crowned themselves with hay. The will did duty for the deed. This story reminds one of the Arabs, who are punctilious in performing the stated ablutions enjoined by the Koran. But as water is sometimes too precious to be wasted in this way, they use sand, which, mixed with a liberal amount of credulity, is to the faithful equally efficacious. The extracts from Homer recall the socalled hanging gardens of Babylon constructed for Semiramis more than two thousand years before Christ. These constituted a park built on an artificial elevation, so that the epithet usually applied to them would be equally suitable to the grounds at Versailles or the Buttes Chaumont in Paris—all hung on the ground. The Persian monarchs and noblemen maintained extensive pleasure-grounds, in which great quantities of game were enclosed. It is from their designation of these parks that we get our word Paradise. It comes to us from the Greek, and is found in nearly all the modern European languages. The general opinion, however, is that the first parks, in the modern sense of the term, were the work of the Roman emperors.

Homer has no word for 'color' nor for any of the primary colors. In like manner the term usually translated 'black' is very indefinite. It is used of the bronzed complexion of Ulysses and of his henchman, Eurybates; of the ripe grape; of beans; of wine, and of the storm cloud. We moderns would say that it is strictly applicable in the last case only; certainly the difference between the hue of the storm cloud and the darkest complexion of a white man is very marked. Of Agamemnon it is said that he 'stood weeping like unto a fountain of dark water that from a beetling cliff poureth down its black stream.' In the 'Odyssey' it is said of Ulysses that 'Athena shed great beauty