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there unenclosed, unprotected, unregarded in the busy midst of modern surroundings.
We went swinging away down a fine street, staring at Greek signs and new types of faces; the occasional native costume; the little panniered donkeys lost in their loads of fruit. I was in a carriage with Laura and the Diplomat, and the Diplomat translated Greek signs, rejoicing to find that he could make out some of the words; also that he could get a rise out of the driver when he spoke to him, though it wasn't certain whether the driver, who was a very large person in a big blue coat (we christened him the Blue Elephant), was talking to him of the horse, and we were all equally pleased, whichever it was.
The Acropolis was in sight from points here and there, but we did not visit it yet. Instead, we turned into a fine boulevard, anchored for a time at the corner of a park, waiting for guides, perhaps, then went swinging down by the royal gardens and the white marble palace of the king.
It is King George First now, a worthy successor to the rulers of that elder day when Greek art and poetry and national prosperity set a standard for the world. Athens was a pretty poor place when King George came to the throne in 1863. He was only eighteen years old, then—the country was bankrupt, the throne had gone begging. In Innocents Abroad Mark Twain says:
“It was offered to one of Victoria's sons, and afterwards to various other younger sons of royalty who had no thrones and were out of business, but they all had the charity to decline the dreary honor, and veneration enough for Greece's ancient greatness to refuse to mock her sorrowful rags and dirt with a tinsel throne in this day of her humiliation—till they came to this young Danish George, and he took it. He has finished the splendid palace I saw in the radiant moonlight the other night, and is doing many other things for the salvation of Greece, they say."
This was written in 1867, four years after King George ascended the throne. For the good of Greece he has been spared these forty years and more to continue the work which in this noble palace he began. Athens is no longer a mendicant and a reproach, but a splendid marble city, preserving her traditions, caring for her ruins, re-establishing her classic tongue.
The Diplomat told us some of these things as we drove along and the others we could see for ourselves. Then suddenly we were brought face to face with the most amazing example of Athens renewed. We were before a splendid marble entrance-a colonnade of white pentelican stone, pure and gleaming in the sun. We entered and were in the vastest amphitheatre I ever saw—the mightiest ever built, I should thinkall built of the pure white pentelican, the marble seats ranging tier upon tier and stretching away until it looks as if the audiences of the world might be seated there. It was the Stadium, the scene of the Pan-Hellenic games, restored upon the spot where the ancient stadium stood-renewed in all its splendor by a rich Greek named George Averof, a monument such as no other Greek has left behind.
Yet it was King George, I believe, who was chiefly responsible for this noble work. The ancient stadium
was laid out in a natural hollow by Lycurgus, before Christ over three hundred years, and was rebuilt something less than five hundred years later by the Averof of that day, Herodes Atticus, whose body was buried there. Then came the tumble and crumble of European glory; the place fell into ruin, was covered with débris, and lay forgotten or disregarded for a thousand years; after which, King George took up the matter, and dug out the remains as soon as he could get money for the job.
That was Averof's inspiration. Without it he would most likely have spent his money in Alexandria, where he made it. Certainly without King George to point the way the progress of Athens would have been a sorry straggle instead of a stately march.
The stadium seats fifty thousand, and has held half as many more when crowded. In the revived Olympic games in 1896 the Greeks won twelve prizes, the Americans followed with eleven, France carried off three, and the English one. That was a good record for the Americans, and we didn't fail to mention it, though I think most of us were thinking of those older games, won and lost here under this placid sky, and of the crowds that had sat here and shouted themselves hoarse as the victors turned the goal. Then, standing high on the marble seats, we looked across the entrance, and there rose the Acropolis, lifted high against the blue, just as those old spectators had seen it so long ago. Through half-closed lashes we re-created it in gleaming pentelican and so gazed upon a vision, the vision they had seen. It was hard to leave that place. It would have