Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/495

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THE OLD GREEK VOLUNTEER

another scene, Miltiades and the Persian admirals appear; Cynegirus, brother of the tragic poet, Æschylus, is there also, seizing the prow of the galley to which he held fast until the axe severed his arm and interfered with his determination to capture a whole ship, single handed. Theseus, hero-god, inspires their valor as he rises from out of the earth and the gods and goddesses, above the battle, on the quiet heights of Olympus, look down on the pictured scene—all of which furnished to the oncoming generations a most potent and patriotic reminder of the services and sacrifices of their citizen-soldiers.

But by far the most artistic and celebrated memorial to the achievements of the Athenian, in arms, was the beautiful little Temple of Victory, on the Acropolis, the Holy Hill of Athens. At the Fore-Gate, near the splendid flight of marble stairs—over seventy feet broad—stood, and stands to-day, the patriotic shrine on a mighty bastion twenty-six feet high. This lofty spot was a most appropriate site for a temple of Victory; for from this height the Athenian saw Salamis and Ægina near by and the distant coast of Argolis, the citadel of Corinth, and the mountains of Megara—memories of the glorious past and rosy hopes of future victories.

Other temples, by allegorical sculptures, represented indirectly the great struggle of the Persian wars, but little "Victory" wrote clear its motive in its marble-band, which portrayed the contest of actual Greeks and Persians in the decisive battle of Plataea (479 B.C.). The little Ionic temple of Pentelic marble is only twenty-seven feet long and eighteen feet wide, but its frieze, running around the whole structure in high relief, is eighty-six feet long, and the four fluted columns, at either end, thirteen feet high, are made from single blocks of marble. Within the temple-room was an ancient, wooden image of the goddess, Athena, wingless, with pomegranate and helment in either hand. The breast-high balustrade, about the three precipitous edges of the bastion, was adorned with marble slabs of winged Victories, erecting trophies and sacrificing to their queen, Athena—all clad in those wonderfully transparent robes of marble gauze, which, clinging to the figure or floating across the marble field, have remained the most renowned example of their kind in the history of sculpture.

One of the most unique soldier's monuments in military annals is the serpent-column of bronze which once supported the golden tripod, dedicated by the Greeks, at Delphi, nearly twenty-four centuries ago, in commemoration of the victory of Platæa. Emperor Constantino removed it to his new capital and it still stands in the Hippodrome at Constantinople with the muster-roll of the loyal peoples inscribed upon its coils.

Among the many memorials erected by the Greeks, surely the most characteristically ancient, in religious motive and martial emphasis,