« PreviousContinue »
"The mountain of Akabah appeared to me about 900 feet high. It rises immediately from the sea-shore, whence it runs in a S.S.E. direction to join the heights which border on the Ammonian Oasis. On the summit is a table-land, extending a distance of thirteen hours from S.E. to N.W. Although the soil differs little, as regards the vegetation and colour, from that of the Smaller Akabah, the lands are more fertile and more generally cultivated. Hence the name of Zarah (field) given to the plateau by the Arabs. In traversing it, we frequently passed by large encampments of shepherds."
The northern declivity of the Akabah is a gentle descent of not more than ten minutes to the valley of Daphneh, which is divided from the coast by a range of low hills, running in a direction parallel with the mountains, and terminating eastward in Ras el Mellah, the ancient Ardanaxes. In this valley, more especially, the traces of ancient cultivation are numerous in the canals of irrigation which traverse it, and wind along the sides of the hills in all directions. At the end of nine hours, the valley opens into a plain, the mountain of Akabah on the left running westward to join the Cyrenean plateau, while the hill on the right loses itself in undulations towards the north. A road cut in the rock, leads over this broken country to the pretty port of Toubrouk, which is sheltered by the rocky coast from all winds, except the east. Here are ruins of a Saracen town, apparently founded on more ancient vestiges; the site, probably, of Antipyrgus. From the heights of Toubrouk, the route descends into the spacious valley of Wady el Sedd, extending to the Gulf of Bomba. Here, opposite the site of an ancient town, indicated by numerous handsome foundations, are a great number of catacombs excavated in the southern side of the hill (Mons Bombæa), and remarkable as being decidedly in the Græco-Egyptian style. Synesius, in a passage cited by M. Pacho, apparently alludes to these caves in Mount Bombea as resembling the hypogea of the Egyptians.
At the western extremity of the Wady is a fine spring, called Ain el Gazal (Gazelle's Fountain), forming a rivulet which falls into a little bay at the bottom of the Bombæan Gulf. The water of the spring, however, is sulphurous and brackish, and the waves of the sea, in rough weather, mingling with it, render it not drinkable. The eastern end of the little bay is bordered with marshes, which are inhabited during summer by a prodigious multitude of frogs, whence the port derived its ancient name of Batrachus. At six hours from Ain el Gazal, the traveller reaches Wady Temmimeh, running N.E. between the heights of Jebel Toubrouk and the mountain of Cyrene, and discharging its waters into the gulf. This valley M. Pacho considers as the ancient Aziris, and its torrent as undoubtedly the Paliurus of
Ptolemy; at its mouth must consequently be placed the site of the town of that name, which once disputed with Port Menelaus the honour of being the chief place of a third Lybian nome. Here he fixes the doubtful limits of the ancient Marmarica.
We have been more particular in our abstract of this part of our author's narrative, because, as already intimated, it relates to almost new ground. We must more briefly despatch the remainder of his journey. Immediately after passing a lagoon formed by the gulf, the traveller begins to ascend the lower terraces of the Cyrenean plateau. A few thinly scattered olive-trees, and some shrubs foreign to Marmarica, are the first perceptible indications of a change in the soil. The vegetation increases in vigour as he ascends; and on reaching the summit after a four hours' march, an entirely new scene presents itself. "The earth, uniformly yellow or sandy in the more western cantons, is, in these parts, of an ochrish-red. Rivulets gush forth on every side, nourishing a beautiful vegetation, which pierces the mossy rocks, clothes the hills, extends in rich downs, or developes itself in forests of dark juniper, green thuya, and pale olive-trees." The modern name of the Cyrenaica, Jebel Akhdar (the Green Mountain), expressively indicates its rich and smiling aspect.
Crossing the north-eastern extremity of the mountain, our Traveller descended to the port of Derna, the modern capital of the district of Barca, where he was compelled to halt for twenty days, till leave was obtained from the governor of Ben-Ghazi to explore the tract between Derna and Grennah, the modern name of Cyrene. He then proceeded to explore the coast of the Pentapolis and the adjacent valleys. It is not till the fifteenth chapter of his work, that we reach Cyrene itself; but, to compensate for this delay, between seventy and eighty pages are devoted to the subject. M. Pacho appears to have made the best use of his time, and he describes some remarkable monuments which Captain Beechey seems to have overlooked; in particular, a very large hypogeum, picturesquely situated at the extremity of the only grove that is found in the plateau, and some very large and deep grottos about half-way between Cyrene and Apollonia, which he supposes to have served, in ancient times, as magazines or bazars. Of the fountain of Apollo and its subterraneous conduit, so interestingly described by Mr. Beechey, M. Pacho gives a somewhat different account, in some respects hardly reconcilable with the story of the English Traveller. The latter, it will be remembered by those who have read his work, explored the excavated channel for nearly a quarter of a mile, till he was at length compelled to creep upon his hands and knees through the water; and at the end of forty feet further, he found the channel terminate in a
small aperture scarcely a foot in diameter. M. Pacho passed this ne plus ultra, and crawling along through the water, reached a very wide but low grotto, hung with stalactites. He attempted to penetrate still further by crawling through the rocky bowels of the mountains; but at length he was enveloped in darkness, and the water gushing out in all directions, appearing at once to spring up from the earth, and to fall from a thousand crevices in the crystallized ceiling,-rose to his neck, and rendered it “impossible, with the incumbrance of a human form, to push any further his aquatic reconnaissance." M. Pacho does not seem to have noticed the Greek and Roman autographs seen by Captain Beechey; but, on one side of the channel, he observed, to his consternation, at first, the distinct prints left by the paws of hyenas and some smaller animals, "the real magicians and spectres of the cave." He was, however, emboldened to proceed, by observing that these foot-prints were covered with a slight layer of alluvial earth, whence he inferred, that the channel is frequented by the wild animals only in the dry season, the volume of water being sufficient, in winter, to cover the pathway in most places. In one part, a subterraneous torrent fell with a loud noise through a hollow chasm into an abyss which seemed to go deep into the heart of the mountain; and M. Pacho conjectures, that it may find an outlet in a cavern situated at the western extremity of the necropolis, from which a rivulet issues.
Among other remains of ancient edifices not specifically noticed by Mr. Beechey, our Traveller particularizes those of a bath built of brick, of which some parts of the vaulted work are still left; several castles or forts; and two small excavated temples of the Roman period, with Christian emblems: what the emblems are, we are not informed. One of the most remarkable excavations at Petra has in like manner been made to serve as a Christian church; but such ecclesiastical monuments cannot be referred to a high antiquity, or to the purer ages of the church. All the buildings at Cyrene of which any traces remain, as well as a large proportion of the mausolea, M. Pacho refers decidedly to the Roman period. Cyrene is stated to have been in fact destroyed by the Romans, on account of an insurrection, and to have been subsequently rebuilt. If the temples were spared, they would require to be repaired; and M. Pacho says that some of these structures were evidently raised upon the ruins of more ancient edifices.
An "Historical Introduction," prefixed to the author's narrative, contains a sketch of the annals of Cyrene, which ascend as high as the thirty-seventh Olympiad. In the time of Aristotle, this Greek colony was an independent republic; and it continued to
be governed by its own laws till the reduction of Egypt by the Macedonians. The Queen of Amasis, the patron of Pythagoras and the friend of Solon, was a native of Cyrene. Under the Ptolemies, it formed a dependent viceroyalty, till it was made over as a separate kingdom by Ptolemy Physcon to his illegitimate son Apion. The Cyrenean monarch bequeathed his kingdom to the Romans; and it was at length reduced, B. C. 76, to the condition of a Roman province.
Numbers of Jews had settled in the Cyrenaica long prior to the Christian era, a Jewish colony having been planted there by Ptolemy Soter. Cyrenean Jews were present at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost; some of them took part with their Alexandrian brethren in disputing against the Proto-martyr; and Christian Jews of Cyprus and Cyrene, fleeing from the persecution of their intolerant brethren, were the first preachers of Christianity to the Christians at Antioch. The Jews of Cyrenaica were, however, chiefly confined to the city of Berenice, where they formed a political body, governed by archons. Cyrene itself had probably already begun to decline, as the maritime cities rose in wealth and importance. Under the reigns of Trajan and Adrian, the most frightful disorders were occasioned by the turbulent insurrections of the Jews, and the province became almost depopu lated, till the latter emperor colonized it afresh. In the fifth cen tury, however, under Theodosius the younger, Cyrene itself had been reduced to a mass of ruin, probably by the invasions of the barbarians of Libya, and its wealth and honours were transferred to the episcopal city of Ptolemais. The final extirpation of the colonies of the Pentapolis dates from the destructive invasion of Khosroo Purveez, about A. D. 616. Having overrun Syria and Egypt, the Persian conqueror advanced as far westward as the neighbourhood of Tripoli, and returned in triumph through the sands of the Libyan desert. The Saracens completed the work of the Persians; and for seven centuries, this once populous region has been lost to civilization, to commerce, and even to geographical knowledge. For three parts of the year, Cyrene is untenanted, except by hyenas and jackals; and during the fourth, the pastoral Bedouins, too indolent to ascend the higher range of hills, pitch their tents chiefly on the low ground to the southward of the summit, once crowned with the polite and voluptuous metropolis," the city of the golden throne." But, remarks M. Pacho," if the labours of man have been annihilated, nature remains the same."
"Le soleil n'éclaire plus que le deuil de l'antique cité; les pluies bienfaisantes ne tombent plus que sur des déserts: mais ce soleil émaillé encore des prairies toujours vertes, ces pluies fécondent des champs
toujours fertiles; les forêts sont toujours ombreuses, les bocages toujours riants, et les myrtes et les lauriers croissent dans les vallons solitaires, sans amants pour les cueillir, sans héros pour les recevoir. Cette fontaine, qui vit élever autour d'elle les murs de Cyrène, jaillit encore dans toute sa force, elle coule encore dans toute sa fraîcheur; et son onde seule interromprait le calme de ces solitudes, si la voix rauque des pâtres, ou le bêlement des troupeaux errants parmi les ruines, ne se confondaient parfois avec son murmure.”
ART. VIII.—1. Berichtigungen und Zusätze zum ersten Bande der zweiten Auflage von B. G. Niebuhr's Römischer Geschichte. Aus den Ergangzungen der Sten Auflage mit Bewilligung des Verfassers zusammengestellt. (Corrections and Additions to the First Volume of the Second Edition of Niebuhr's Roman History. From the Supplement to the Third Edition, published with the Author's permission.) Berlin. 1828. 8vo. 2. Einleitung in Rom's alte Geschichte, (Introduction to the Ancient History of Rome,) von Dr. R. L. Blum. Berlin. 1828.
THE demand for a third edition of the first volume of Niebuhr's Roman History, within so short a period after the appearance of the last, while an impression of but a thousand copies of the first edition in 1811-12 was for years slowly and painfully making its way from the shelves of the publisher to the library of the student, is a proof, not merely of the superior merit of the enlarged and improved work, but of the awakened and active taste for historical and political inquiry now so prevalent on the continent. At that period Europe groaned beneath the heavy yoke of the Gallic despot; gloom everywhere overcast the prospect; it seemed of no avail to search the records of the past, for the doom of the present generation was fixed, and patient submission to the commands of Napoleon, or incorporation in his huge and everyday extending empire, was to be the lot of all. The physical sciences and the arts, which embellish external life and cherish national vanity, alone found favour in the eyes of the emperor; history is dangerous to despotism, and those who seek a despot's countenance, or would avoid his suspicion, must shun its perilous paths. Need we then wonder that, independent of its difficulty, Niebuhr's work found in 1812 but few readers?
The war which shivered the colossus of empire which Napoleon had been raising, next succeeded; almost every one in Germany was then called on to be an actor; speculation and inquiry were for a season abandoned; the present engrossed the thoughts of all, the past was for the time neglected. It required some