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and devoted themselves to the sick and the dying. Probably since the Plague of Athens, so vividly described by Thucydides, such an appalling spectacle as that of 1854 has not been exhibited in that city. The Athena, — one of the principal newspapers of the capital, — has the following paragraphs in an editorial article, published in December following:
6. The dreadful disease of cholera has deprived our community besides others, of the head of the public school for girls, Miss Polytime Kouskouras. The deceased has for nearly twenty years been a teacher in the schools of Nauplia, Peiræus and Athens, where she was appointed principal of the public school for girls. Her learning was such as is seldom found among us. Of this we may satisfy ourselves by examining the Ancient Geography of Greece, written and published by her a few months ago. The elegance of the style, the exactness and clearness of the matter are superior to those of any treatise on geography written by a man. Her death has left a void which we do not believe can be filled for years to come.
“ The minister of education, appreciating the worth of the deceased and her long services, directed to her poor and aged father, whom with his numerous family she alone supported, the following letter of condolence, which does great honor to its author. We agree with the government in thinking that the municipal authorities of Athens are in duty bound to provide for the destitute family of the departed Polytime, because she served the city in her life, and the effect of her labors will continue many years to come, as she wrote and translated numerous works on the education of woman, some of which are already published, and others will be published hereafter.”
The minister's letter is as follows:
“ To Mr. H. KOUSKOURAS:
“ Public education, deprived of one of the ablest and most zealous women occupied with teaching, will long mourn the loss of your daughter. By the present letter, while we publicly award the honors due to the memory of the departed lady for her seventeen years of unbroken and irreproachable service, we grant you out of the budget of the coming year, as a small token of the gratitude due from the public to those who serve it with zeal, the sum of two hundred drachmas, intending under more suitable circumstances to do for her sister, who we doubt not will follow in her footsteps, everything that can show that the government cherishes the purpose and acknowledges the duty of recognizing and distinguishing those who serve the country with zeal, whether living or dead.
PERICLES ARGYROPOULOS, Minister.”
Similar letters were addressed to the families of the other victims of the cholera, who had been engaged in public instruction, and all were officially printed.
Facts like these appear to me highly significant. They excite lively hopes for the future of the Hellenic race, and for all the races in the East connected with them. I do not know another country, even including our own, where the death of a common school teacher, or of a whole convocation of teachers, would
be considered an event of sufficient importance to be officially noticed by a cabinet minister.
Before closing this somewhat rambling lecture, let me return for a few moments to the native vein of poetry belonging to the race, which I alluded to at the beginning. The Demotic songs have attracted much attention of late years. The principal collections are those of Fauriel and Zambelios, to which may be added the Greek songs in the great collection of the Italian Tommasseo. Some of these naive poems date back several centuries; some of them were composed during the war of Independence; and similar strains improvised by untaught bards, are often heard in the mountain villages. Professor Ross, who accompanied the Queen on several of her journeys, has preserved some of the simple lays with which her Majesty was welcomed by choruses of maidens along her route. I shall content myself with reading to you literal translations of a few pieces, begging you to remember that they are only translations, and that they have inevitably lost the natural raciness of the original; I ought to say, however, that I have taken much pains to reproduce them exactly, rhythm for rhythm, without adding or omitting an idea, image or a line.
The first which I shall read is called the “ Three Braves in Hades.” It is remarkable for the occurrence of the names of Hades and Charon; the former as the place of the departed, and the latter as the minister of death. It is possible that the three Braves may embody a dim tradition of Hercules, Peirithoüs, and Theseus, all of whom, according to the ancient legends, visited in their lives the regions below.
THE THREE BRAVES IN HADES. The mountains high, how blest their lot, the spreading plains, how
happy! No care have they for Charon grim, no dread feel they of Charon; In summer time the sheep are there, in winter time the snow storms. Three stalwart heroes make resolve to burst the gate of Hades, The one says he will forth in May, the second chooses summer, The third the autumn likes the best, when grapes in clusters ripen. A fair-haired maid bespake them there, all in the lower regions, “O take me to the world above, O take me with you, heroes ! ” “ Maiden, thy garments rustle loud, thy hair the breezes flutter; Thy shoes will clatter on the way, and Charon will descry us.” “My garments I will cast aside, my flowing hair I sever, My shoes, I put them off my feet, and leave them on the stair-case; O take me to the world above, O take me with you, heroes ! My mother I would go and see, how she is mourning for me; My brothers I would go and see, how they are weeping for me." “ Maiden! thy brothers in the dance, full merrily are dancing;Maiden ! thy mother is abroad, and gossips by the wayside.”
The second presents still another view of Charon. It is called “ Charon and the Ghosts.” A German artist, the son of the late Professor Thiersch, has made this the subject of a beautiful picture.
CHARON AND THE GHOSTS.
That from the spring the old may drink, the young may play with
pebbles, And that the little children may the pretty Aowerets gather.
CHARON. I will not at the hamlet stop, nor at the cooling fountain, For mothers meeting at the spring will know again their children, And man and wife each other know, and will no more be parted.
In the following ballad, which belongs to the period following 1825,— much later, therefore, than either of the preceding, — Charon again appears. The poem commemorates the gallantry of Tsamados, who fell in a desperate encounter with a large body of Arabs, under Ibrahim Pacha, who attacked him on the little island of Sphacteria. He is represented as returning after death to revisit Georgakēs, a brother in arms, who longs to know what is passing at Mesolongi.
TSAMADOS. I would I were a bird to fly and visit Mesolongi; That I might see them wield the sword, and how they ply the mus
How wage the war in Roumeli, her still unconquered vultures.
telling? 6. I seem unto thine eyes a bird, but 'tis no bird thou seest; For in the island opposite to Navarino’s haven, I yielded up my latest breath, against the Moslem fighting, I am Tsamados from the tomb, back to the world returning, For though from heaven where I dwell, I clearly can behold thee, To come and see thee face to face, my heart was ever longing."