Friday, 2 February 2018

Bent Cyclades Santorin

CHAPTER VI. SANTORIN (THERA).

I. The Volcano

Before landing on Santorin and mixing ourselves with its people, we must consider for a brief space the particular feature of the island, namely, the volcano. The Hephaestius as they call it, has made of Santorin one of the most terrible spots in the world, and has had a powerful influence on the inhabitants.

Taken from a general point of view this volcanic cluster is round, and in ancient times was called Strongili (round). The island of Santorin proper is on the outer circle, eighteen miles from point to point, and twelve on the inner circle, and it is somewhat like a horseshoe; the remainder of the circle is made up by two islands, Therasia and Aspronisi, and three channels, by which the central basin or harbour is entered. All round this central basin, which is the cone of the volcano, the island presents a frontage of precipitous volcanic cliffs, from 500 to 1,000 feet in height, all in strata of twisted and contorted volcanic lava, red, green, and black, giving the whole place a hideous yet fascinating appearance.

In the centre of this large circle, which is from east to west four miles, and from north to south six miles in diameter, lie the active centres of the volcano, a cluster of three hideous islands, steaming with smoke and streaked with sulphur, which have appeared at various dates out of the bowels of this circle. They are called respectively Old, Little, and New Burnt Island (iraXai^, fitxphf vsct Ka/ifjJvrf), The depth of the water in this central basin is immense ; the cliffs go down straight into it, so that there is no possible anchorage, and vessels have to be Β» tethered, so to speak, to the shore. From the summit of these cliffs the land gently slopes down to the sea-level on the outer side ; the widest part of the island is scarcely three miles, the narrowest considerably under a mile β€” at each end of the horseshoe of Santorin are the cliffs of Akroteri and Epanomeri^.

V There is only another feature which has to be considered at the south-east corner of the island of Santorin. There rises a mountain, Mesa Boun6 by name, about 1,500 feet above the sea. This mountain and its spurs are not of the volcanic formation of the rest of the island, but consist of a rock formation common to most of the Cyclades. It is evident that this Mesa Boun6 was an island, around which the crater has shed its shower of pumice. Moreover, in the midst of the sloping plain rises up a single rock, 100 feet high, called the Mono'ithos : this is of the same formation as Mesa Boun6, and
presumably was once a rock in the sea.

In this otherwise fiat surface of Santorin occur deep chasms, formed by torrents, as their local name of ' rivers ' {iroxafioX) testifies. In these are villages curiously hidden, which we shall presently visit. The soil is very light and thin, consisting chiefly of crumbled pumice: it seems favourable for the growth of nothing save the grape: in fact, the slopes of Santorin form one vast vineyard. The roads are horribly disagreeable to walk on, being like the sand on the shore which the tide does not
regularly reach.

Concerning the earliest eruptions of this volcano we have no data to go upon. The island has at various times and seasons sprung from the submerged volcano, and has been formed by multiplied eruptions. Herodotus is the earliest author who mentions it, and he tells us that in mythical times it had seven towns or villages, and that the earliest inhabitants were Phoenicians ; and then came Membliaros, who colonised the island. In fact, Herodotus professes to give us the earliest traditions
of the place, but never alludes to a vast eruption which covered the whole of the island with thirty feet of pumice and buried whole villages as completely as Vesuvius buried Herculaneum and Pompeii. A few years ago workmen employed in the quarry of pumice stone to the south of
Therasia came across one of these buried villages,* and two years ago, near the promontory of Akroteri, another village was discovered, which seems to be more recent than that on Therasia, and not to have been buried so deep; also traces of iron implements were found. All monuyments of an historical Greek period are above this layer \pi pumice, and from this we argue that before the island
received its present level there must have been frequent and terrible eruptions, burying from time to time the whole place in pumice ; and all this must have occurred before the colonisation of Membliaros, for from this date onwards we have a consecutive account of the inhabitants, and no mention of any eruption till the first historical one, which occurred somewhere ab out 198 B.C ^ and which caused Old Burnt Island to come forth out of the sea, in the centre of the circular basin.

> Vide note appended to this chapter.

Apollonius accompanies his account of Thera, or Santorin, with an interesting legend. *Euphemfis, in conformity with the advice of an oracle, threw a morsel of earth into the sea, then there grew up an island, which was called most beautiful {KaXklaTTj), and which has been the sacred nurse of the children of Euphemos.' This was supposed to have occurred about the time of the expedition of the Argonauts to Colchis. It is a curious fact that the neighbouring Anaphi was supposed to have been raised by Apollo out of the waves for the benefit of these wandering heroes. And the fact of the
appearance of islands in the iEgean Sea is associated with the earliest myths, such as the preparation of Delos for the birth of Apollo.

When, therefore, did Santorin go under the name of the most beautiful ? Was it before the eruptions buried it with the present layer of pumice, or was it after this, when it was level, and exceedingly fertile for the grape ? However hideous it may seem to us, we know that our idea of the beautiful and that of the ancient Greeks differ considerably.

And then it was called Thera. * Was it because it was a monstrosity?* {^VPi Ovp^^* ^ monster), I asked Dr. Dekigalla, or De Cigalla, of Santorin ; to which he indignantly replied that it was nothing of the sort, and that it was called Thera after a son of a Spartan hero of the race of Kadmos, and Santorin after St Irene. Verily Santorin has changed its name as often as its form, and now the Greeks, who revive everything that is old, call it Thera in preference to the name Santorin, by which it was known during the middle ages.

Naturally the eruption of 198 B.C. was looked upon with the greatest awe, and the Rhodians, who had then the supremacy in the ^Egean Sea, hastened to build upon the newborn islet a temple to Poseidon Asphalios, and for the sake of euphony it was called * sacred island.* For this event we have luckily ample authority, Strabo, Seneca, Eusebius, Pliny, and others, who diflFer slightly as
to date, but in substance their account is similar. Strabo says, * Between Thera and Therasia flames issued out of the sea for four days, so that the whole sea seemed to seethe and blaze. These flames created little by little, as if with tools, an island composed of volcanic bombs.'

Plutarch goes further, and tells us that it was in fulfilment of a Pythian oracle. In short, we can gather
that the whole world at that time was aghast at this sudden apparition, but we must remark that another convulsion which separated Thera from Therasia is not alluded to. Pliny in his account of the eruption of 198 mentioned it as a recognised fact that this northern channel into the basin was made by a convulsion. And this fact on examining the spot is obvious, for in the sea near Therasia are engulfed the remains of buildings, and on a hidden reef lying close to the Cape of Epanomeria
a few years ago sponge-fishers from Kalymnos found and took away with them a marble lintel, of good workmanship, with the pattern of a rose upon it, from which it is likely that this separation took place in historic times.

The next eruption about which we have any information seems to have increased Old Burnt Island by a cape, now called St Nicholas, about the year 60 A.D., according to George of Syngelos. And in the old chronology of Theophanes there is reference to another, in 726 A.D., in the reign of Leo the Isaurian, when they saw the sea boil like a furnace, and thick vapours came out of it, and pumice stone covered the sea far and wide, and a rock appeared which united itself with the Old Burnt Islands.

About an eruption in 1457, when a portion of the ^ Old Burnt Island detached itself and was engulfed in the sea with a great noise, the only authority we have is a Latin inscription in the Church of the Jesuits, in honour of the then Duke Francis Crispi IL, in the old fortress ^ capital of Santorin called Scaros.

About the appearance of Little Burnt Island in 1573 we have better authority, for the Jesuit Father Richard gives us an account of it as follows : β€” * There are many old men in Santorin who say they saw an island formed near ours in the middle of the sea, and that it was called Little Burnt Island/

But for the terrible eruptio n in i6s p, when an island called KolombcTrose out of the sea, outside the island cone to the north-east of Santorin, we have ample information ; and the appearance of this island shows us how far the cone extends underneath the sea, boring right under the island, which may be said to be only a thin crust of earth forming the lip of the crater.

Father Richard's account is written in Greek verse, and tells us all they suffered during that awful time. In 1649 such terrible earthquakes shook Santorin that the inhabitants seriously thought of abandoning their island. In March 1650 these grew worse, and huge detached blocks rolled down into the sea, killing people on their way. Clouds of thick vapour and flames were seen to issue out of the sea at the spot where the island eventually appeared, accompanied by a fearful stench, and the sea turned green ; but it was not till September 28 that the volcano burst forth with a fearful noise, and Kolombo appeared whilst the people were in church praying for deliverance and mercy. So great was the noise that it was heard as far as the Dardanelles, and in Chios they thought a naval engagement was taking place. At the neighbouring island of los a wave fifteen yards high rose, and a Turkish fleet ofT Keos was driven against the coast. For a whole day and night the inhabitants of Santorin were enveloped in such thick sulphurous smoke that they could not see the sun. Gold, silver, picture frames all turned black. Many were blinded and all suffered from their eyes ; fifty people died of these noxious vapours and a thousand animals were asphyxiated. A boat was returning from Amorgos, and chanced to pass through this gas ; it was found floating a few days afterwards with all hands on
board dead. Even when the worst was over, and the inhabitants ran down to the shore to see what had
happened, many of the most venturesome were asphyxiated. But what puzzled the people most was that some of these asphyxiated people revived just as their friends were mourning for them and preparing for the funeral, so that the priest had to return home with his stole and his cross unused. This terrible time, even after subsequent eruptions, was known as the year of evil. The island of Kolombo gradually settled down below { '?2.^ the sea-level, and this cone is now a reef ten to twenty-five fathoms below the sea-level, and having an elevation of a hundred fathoms below the actual bottom of the sea.

The next eruption was in 1707, when New Burnt Island appeared in the centre of the basin by the side of the Old and Little. We are indebted for an account of this to an Italian MS written by Mr. Delenda, then the English consular agent at Santorin. He tells us that on May 8 (old style) there was an earthquake; on the 1 2th, at two in the morning, a rock like a ship in distress appeared, which they went to look at in boats, but were terrified to find it only a rock. Some of the bravest, after an hour*s deliberation, and enticed by the oysters and shellfish thereon, ventured to land. At length the sea became mixed with sulphurous vapours, and the rock grew in size, and on June 30 around it the sea
became as white as milk, and all fish in the harbour died Smoke and flames now issued out of the sea, and much damage was done to the vines, and the inhabitants night and day heard rumbling noises and experienced successive shocks of earthquake, whilst huge volcanic bombs were shot into the air, with less and less force and frequency, until the humours of the volcano were exhausted ; but it was not really at rest for six years from its first commencement In 1708 Father Tarillon, who also wrote a reliable account of this eruption, and some other ecclesiastics ventured into the mist, and were nearly stifled by the heat ; the water was boiling all round them, and when they got back they found that the heat of the water had taken all the pitch off* their boat

Nothing happened to this mysterious workshop of Vulcan until Tannary T86^^when scientific men from all nations hurried to bantorin to witness the great phenomenon. This eruption continued till 1870 , and day by day Dr. Dekigalla (whose acquaintance we made), of Santorin, an elderly man of extensive learning, and a reputed medical author in Greece, jotted down events as they happened ; his diary has been published, and forms a valuable history of this eruption. It does not, however, appear to have been so terrible in its effects as its predecessors : there were the fiery bombs, three newbom islands appeared, one of which was called George I., after the king ; they grew in size day by day, until they attached themselves to the New Burnt Island, and thereby lost their identity. The sea was green, the water hot, sulphurous smoke covered the towns and villages, which were in the line of wind, and great inconvenience was caused thereby. Naturally terrible fears visited everyone, and all were eager to flee ; the convent school despatched its pupils and the richer inhabitants fled. But Santorin is a rich and prosperous island; nowhere in Greece do grapes grow so well as here. So mankind, ever trusting in the lengthened pauses between each convulsion, returned to a life of contentment and security, even though it is over one of the most terrible of known craters. What may happen next no one can know. The crater opened outside the circle in 1650 ; Therasia broke off", when we cannot say ; the land in many places has subsided. Another eruption may suddenly come on, and cover Thera with feet of pumice or engulf her in the sea. And yet the inhabitants are happy, and, amass money year by year ; for, as say the Greeks, * he who has money has a tongue.' After Syra, nowhere in the Cyclades are there so many well-to-do people as there are in Santorin.

The action of this volcano must have had, in the course of ages, a powerful influence over the inhabitants; for, from their position, the towns, built on the edge of the cliff* overlooking the basin, are as if placed in an amphitheatre to overlook the mysterious workings of their volcano.

The eruption of 1650 is the first about which we have information as to the effect on the inhabitants.
One of the MS. accounts, of which we have four, tells us that most people suffered from sharp pains in the eyes, which watered profusely, became gathered and closed, so that for a day and a half most of the Santoriniotes were entirely blind. The eruption of 1707 was similar in its effects but less grave. Father Tarillon and others attest to the noxious effects of the gases and sulphurous emanations on the health of the inhabitants.

The effects on the nervous system which such terrible sights would have on a credulous and uneducated population, who saw giants in every pillar of smoke and spent ' most of their time in churches praying for deliverance, can well be realised. Processions and fastings without end were instituted, so that even the suckling babes and animals were made to fast, and the bishop carried the
sacrament about barefooted. During this last eruption special attention was paid to the effect on health, and the results showed that eye affections, biliousness, bronchial maladies, and maladies akin to it were very prevalent during the time ; whilst fevers, rheumatism, consumption, and various chronic maladies, which are usually rarer at Santorin than elsewhere, were notably ameliorated.

Each town suffered from the fumes according to the wind. Even the inhabitants from los, thirty miles from Santorin, and Anaphi, twelve miles east, and Sikinos thirty-five miles north-west, were subject in a less degree to the influence bf these gases when the wind brought them in their direction. The effect on plant life was even more marked : the slopes of Mesa Boun6 looked as if they had been burnt by a long drought, the asphodels, so common elsewhere in the Cyclades, were all dried up and killed ; but the volcanic emanations were favourable / rather than the reverse to the vines, which for some I years previously had been suffering from a blight, which this wholesale application of sulphur entirely removed.

Everybody we told that we were going to Santorin had sqme new story to tell of its horrors, and the neighbouring islanders believe firmly that the crater of Santorin is the entrance to Hades, whither, say the Naxiotes, our good bishop has driven all the vampires and ghosts, so that they are very numerous here, and roll stones down the cliffs at travellers. A curious fable current amongst the neighbours shows the dread Santorin is held in. It runs as follows : β€”

* Years ago β€” one hundred and fifty perhapsβ€”the caique of old Laimos was on its way to Rhodes ; whilst at sea a storm came on, so they had to seek refuge on an unknown island. When day broke they saw three mules coming down the hill laden with three huge stones ; they came down to the shore, discharged their burden, and did the same thing several times. The sailors looked on with
astonishment, for the mules came and went, and there was no one with them ; so one of the bravest went up to a mule and struck it with his stick, whereat the mule turned round, and in a man's voice said, *' Do not strike me, cousin ; " and when the sailors appeared awestruck the mule continued, "It may appear extraordinary that I call you cousin, but know that I am not a mule from birth, but a man undergoing punishment. I am your cousin Papa Matsi, who deceived many with my lies, and these are two compatriots undergoing the same sentence. The spot is called Burnt Island, and it is near
Santorin. Go to my country and perform spiritual offices, that our souls may have some peace." '

After these few remarks on the nature of the island we were about to visit the reader will better understand the impressions created. It is a hideous island, fascinating in its hideousness. No swallows build their nests here, no frogs are to be found on it, and the scaros^ a fish by no means common in other parts of Greece, is a constant visitor to these mysterious waters.

2. The Island of Santorin^ or Thera,

On entering the basin of Santorin one experiences directly the pleasant impression of seeing something utterly new. To the left we were swiftly borne past a white line of houses perched along the edge of blood red rocks which form the northernmost point of the island. This is Epanomeria. Further on the red promontory of Scaros juts out into the basin, and on it are the crumbling ruins of the mediaeval fortress ; above this, on black rocks, is perched the white village of Meroviglia, 1,000 feet above the sea, which commences a long line of white houses, nearly two miles in extent, which blends itself with Pheri, the present capital of the island.

The steamer stopped in front of a nest of houses, clinging to the cliff, which forms the little port. And what astounding houses they are ! for the most part only holes chiselled in the soft volcanic rock, and faced with a fronting of stone, in which is a door, a window above it^ and perhaps one on each side. Half the inhabitants of Santorin, in spite of the encouragement given by Government to the building of regular houses, prefer to live like rabbits in the ground. The capital and one or two of the principal villages now boast of handsome houses properly built, but some of the remote villages are still mere
rabbit warrens excavated in the pumice-stone rocks as they have been for centuries.

The wall of rock is ascended by a newly made zigzag path, which joins Pher^ and her port, 950 feet beneath her β€” which 950 feet are composed of countless layers of volcanic eruptions in contorted lines of black and red. Here and there a little verdure clings to the cliff; here and there the little houses peep, like owls, from out of the rocks ; and huge black boulders, which have been loosened and fallen in times of earthquake, stand ominously threatening on the next opportunity to roll down and crush the houses by the harbour.

Frequent accidents occur from the loosening and fall of these rocks, and a word peculiar to Santorin
(fcarpd^Ls) has been coined, with the usual phonetic "success of the Greek tongue, to express their crushing roll. Santorin contains many quaint words, too, of ancient origin ; anything done on a sudden is said to be KOTTo&aWo^y at the throw of a dice (/cottop, ^SaXXo)).

Altogether Santorin is an awe-inspiring spot, and we did not know whether to be glad or sorry when the steamer went away, and left us for a fortnight's stay in Vulcan's palace. The eparch of Santorin is a personage of some importance : he is one of the Pariote family of Mavrojenes, and has los, Anaphi, and Amorgos included in his eparchy. He received us with great cordiality, placing at our disposal an empty house with seven rooms, and sent across furniture of his own for our use, and placed us under the immediate care of Kera Maria, an old woman who is employed by everybody in Santorin as cook if they wish to give a feast ; consequently we had not to fear the hardships experienced in other islands.

Really if Pheri, as the capital of Thera is curiously called, on the same principle that in modern Greek Thebes is called Pheba (pron. Pheva), had but a few trees to shelter it, it would be an inviting residence in the summer, perched, as it is, high above the sea-level, , and commanding views of an astonishing character over the basin, the volcanic islands, and the distance. There are delightful walks on the cliff to the right and left, the houses of the well-to-do are large, and there is a pleasing
air of prosperity in the place. All the houses of the poorer class which are not made in the ground are one-storeyed, with vaulted roofs of stone, and covered inside with excellent cement made out of Santorin pumice-stone. These houses are firm, and resist earthquakes better than flat roofs; and then wood is too scarce in Thera to be used for building purposes, except by the rich. The parish church of Pher4 is a curious object to look upon : it is built out of bits of red lava, which look like irregular bricks fastened together with cement. Inside there are some good old pictures and a rich tempelofiy for at the times of the eruptions the pious have vowed many things to their saint in their extremity.
St Peace, that is to say, St. Irene, the Byzantine empress, who has supplied Thera with its new name, is the protectress of the island ; on her day (May 5) they have grand f&tes and rejoicings, and on her day, oddly enough^ the emissary of Hypselantes in 1821 unfurled the banner of war and roused the Santoriniotes to revolt.

Before starting on any other expedition in Santorin we felt it our duty to visit the centre of volcanic activity on the Burnt Islands, in the middle of the basin ; accordingly the following morning found us down at the harbour again, and crossing over in a boat to the now slumbering cone. It only took us half an hour to get 1 across to New Burnt Island, around the summit of which, four hundred feet above the sea-level, volumes of smoke still wreathe and curl to prove that it is only slumbering to wake again.

There are plenty of ships in the bays and creeks of the Burnt Islands ; for here they can get that
anchorage which the steep cliffs of Santorin do not provide ; and furthermore by a ten days' stay in these ' waters the bottoms of the ships become clean without any effort on the part of the sailors. Close to where we landed on New Burnt Island the water is of a bright orange colour ; we had noticed this from the other side, and were curious to examine it. The water, /likewise, is almost at boiling heat in parts, and where it / was cooler we bathed our feet, for a hot foot-bath is a rarity in the Cyclades, The cause of this colour is oxide of iron, which comes out of the cone, and blends with the sea, colouring it for some distance ; and then in the water are bubbles of vapour, which stick to the
hairs of one's legs.

Before the last eruption there was a bath establishment here, consisting of a church and several houses, much frequented in summer time by invalids ; all that is left of it is the vaulted roofs of two or three houses standing out of the water. Since that time, not a soul has ventured to sleep on this side. The aspect of everything is infernal beyond description ; not a tree grows here, except a few figs, the fruit of which is considered of surpassing excellence. All is black, save a few bright coloured stones and streaks of sulphur ; huge blocks ol lava and broken volcanic bombs lie about everywhere.

The ascent, though only four hundred feet, is anything but easy, owing to the ashes, which give way
beneath the feet, and the jagged promontories of red and black lava rocks which have to be passed. On the summit there are extensive lava fields, in parts too hot \ to be touched, and on which we were told we could have I poached eggs if we had had any with us. Out of fissures in the mountain smoke was pouring pretty freely, the sulphurous fumes of which gave one some faint idea of what the inhabitants of Santorin must have suffered when enveloped for days in it at the time of the eruption*
Large patches of bright yellow sulphur adorned this extraordinary spot. No wonder it excites awe in those who live near it ! The sailors who rowed us home told us wonderful tales of their reminiscences of the eruption- The Hephaestus, as they call it, is to them a terrible unknown foe ; the inward groanings to them are the furious battle-cry of an infernal deity. The story of Vulcan at his forge was the natural outcome of such wonders on the imaginative mind of the Greek of ancient days.

Pheri has many Roman Catholics in it, for in the middle ages numbers of Italian and Spanish families
settled here : these families still take the lead, and possess the finest houses. There are the Dekigallas (De Cigalli) and Barozzi, of Italian origin ; there are the Da Corognas and Delendas, of Spanish origin, said to be remnants of the wandering Catalans who haunted these seas in the fourteenth century, and some of whom reigned, as we have previously seen,' in Siphnos. There is a convent, too, in Pher4, where the young ladies of Santorin are taught French ; so the upper class inhabitants of this
town consider themselves very Western indeed, and give themselves airs which are highly displeasing to the Greeks : never was there any love lost between devotees of the Eastern and Western dogmas.

On the following morning I set off for a walk along the cliff to visit the old ruined town of Scaros, where the Italian princes who were younger sons of the dukes of Naxos held their court. All along the cliff the town continues as a thin line β€” sometimes only one house or windmill thick β€” until Meroviglia is reached, which stands considerably higher than Pher4, and is conspicuous on all sides by a tiny white church which crowns a pinnacle of I black lava, rising a thousand feet straight out of the sea.

* Vide p. 30.

Below Meroviglia the red rock on which Scaros is built juts out into the bay ; on the top of it is the castle of the mediaeval rulers, and around cluster the old houses which were abandoned only twenty years ago because they were falling into the sea ; and the last inhabitant, an old woman, had to be dragged away by main force, so attached was she to the home of her ancestors. Few visit the spot now, for the approach is difficult ; but wishing to find an inscription on the cliff which, the demarch of Meroviglia told me, showed that this rock was once called the Mount of Jupiter, I climbed over
a good part of it without discovering the object of my search. Inscriptions have been found here, and traces of old Hellenic walls, which prove that it was the town which Herodotus alludes to as Emaios.

From one point of view the crumbling ruins of the mediaeval town are interesting, for they show the strength of the vaulted cement roofs, which only fall to pieces in huge masses, the arches being firmly wedged together and levelled with cement ; some of these houses are two-storeyed, and hold together in a remarkable way. Scaros must have been a strong spot in ancient days, and one can understand how a place like this managed to resist the Athenian lordship in 431 RC. The demarch of Meroviglia has a quantity of antiquities collected from here, which he showed me on my return to his house for
a cup of tea and rum β€” a favourite beverage here on a cold day.

On the following morning we set off for a long walk to explore the slopes of the island, which gently lead down to the outer sea. The aspect of the place is ugly enough in winter, and resembles a brown flat plain covered with hampers, for at Santorin they always weave the tendrils of their vines into circles, the effect in winter being that each vineyard looks as if hampers were placed all over it in rows and at intervals of every two yards. The Santoriniotes treat the vine differently to the other islanders, for here they plough their vineyards instead of digging them, and, contrary to the biblical injunction, I have often seen a bullock yoked toa mule in so doing.

For the first two or three years after planting a vine they cut off most of the shoots, leaving only a
few trailing on the ground, after which they weave them into the above-mentioned baskets, which in summer are quite hidden with leaves and fruit. This hamper increases in size year by year, until after twenty years it is cut off and the vine is left with only a few branches, of which some are trailed round in circles and others left lying on the ground. This work is done yearly, and has the local name of icKc&av,

The wine of Santorin is certainly most excellent, and is drunk largely in Russia ; much, too, finds its way, ' vi& France, to England under the name of claret ; but a cunning wine-maker has christened a certain brand 'Bordeaux,* and hopes by this artifice it may sell in England without passing through a French cellar, which entails considerable reduction in profits. But the best wine in the island is a white one called * of the night * (t^j vv/ctos) because the grapes of which it is made are gathered before sunrise, and are supposed to have a better aroma from this cause. They make more wine here than anywhere else in Greece ; they have seventy different kinds of grapes, the best of which are chosen for making that abominably luscious production called * vino Santo * ; the grapes are exposed on the roofs in the sun for fourteen days before they are pressed ; hence sweetness and consistency are acquired.
( Without her vineyards Santorin would be a desert. There is not enough barley grown to support a quarter of the inhabitants, there is not nearly straw enough for the mules, which deficiency is supplied by giving them the soft shoots of the vines to eat, whereas the extraneous branches are given to the hens. Even the branches and old hampers which are despised by the mules and the hens are not sufficient to supply the inhabitants with wood enough for their cooking purposes.

Every article of clothing and every household utensil ; come from without ; even water in years of drought has I to be fetched from the neighbouring islands ; and as we toiled through the basket-covered fields, the thin light soil of which made walking such an exertion, we regretted that it was January, and not July, when all those baskets would be green and the grapes would hang temptingly around.

Everywhere we passed cisterns excavated in the ground and coated with cement. Some of these are
thirty to forty yards in circumference, for Santorin is almost waterless except for that collected in these cisterns. Every house has its own cistern, and public ones are kept at the expense of the community at fitting intervals along the roadsides, and provided with a pail for drawing up the water, and troughs for the mules to drink out of Only three natural springs exist on the island, and are in that part which is not volcanic- One of these is called the * life-giving stream,' and has the curious anomaly of flowing more plentifully in drought ; on the same formation four wells have been dug ; the rest of the island depends entirely on its cisterns. Considering that the water collected into these reservoirs flows from all sides, from courtyards and alleys, the property of pigs and dogs, I felt rather chary about drinking it ; but .in realit}' it is most delicious water, the pumice-stone I cement apparently purifies it ; it is clear as crystal, and cool, Ibut produces rather than allays thirst.

We passed the great monolith in our walk in the middle of the plain, with a convent nestling beneath it, where there is the festival of St. John of the Monolith once a year ; and midday brought us to the curious village of Gonia, of which from a distance all that can be seen are the two churches, for most of the houses of the village are excavated in the pumice-stone rock.

In one of these we lunched frugally enough oflF hard-boiled eggs and green pork sausages. They said we could get better food at the next village, but we were hungry, and, to use a Greek proverb, * preferred our ^^'g ' to-day to our fowl to-morrow.' The house was composed of two rooms, both in the rock ; the outer one the family occupied by day, with a door opening into the street, a window over it and one on each side ; the inner room the family occupied by night, and into this a ray of sunlight never penetrates.

These excavated houses {cKairTa cjrvTia) are the subject of special legislation in Santorin. "Those dwelling in them have no actual right to the land over their heads, but then nobody can make a vineyard or a reservoir without the consent of the householder below.

The next village we passed through is called Bothr6 or * Trench,' and is a yet more perfect specimen of these Santorin rabbit warrens : the village occupies the bed of one of those chasms or water-courses {iroTafiol), and not a sign of habitation, except the church, can be seen until you are in the midst of it. The construction is thus. The bed of the torrent forms the street ; on either side are lovely gardens, for in this sheltered spot everything flourishes ; luxuriant prickly pears and geraniums flower
all the year round, and vines hang in festojf^ fromtrellises ; the houses on either side of the street are inthe rock. Each house has been chiselled out, and presents only a front wall with doors and windows. People say they are healthy ; in fact, epidemics are exceedingly rare in Santorin. They are cool in summer and warm inwinter, but they are damp ; and, curiously enough, though water is so scarce, the inhabitants of Santorin suffermere from damp than anything else, for the moisture created by the sea air is not absorbed by the dry earth and gets into other things. Bread becomes mouldy di-
rectly, and so do boots, salt is always damp, tools rust in twenty-four hours, and those strings of beads, {ko^it^oXoyia) with which the Greeks delight to play, get as wet as if they had been dipped in water. Books decay as if from worms, and in an empty house you see spiders'webs hanging and sparkling with moisture in the sunshine. I never was more surprised than when I found mosquitos abundant in January here β€” they have themall the year round β€” and not a duckpond on the island.
At Bothr6 we went to visit a shoemaker renowned for his songs. He was hard at work in his excavated house, which consisted of only one large room : he had two sabounas hung over his bed, and he was hard at work with his apprentices at his craft. The songs, as sung by our friend the shoemaker, were very pleasantly illustrative of Greek village customs ; a talented man, such as he is, is recognised as the village bard ; he not only sings the songs he has learnt from his elders, but he is deputed to make songs, like a poet laureate, about the passing events of life. These he teaches to his apprentices whilst they are at work ; and so, like the tales of Homer, they are transmitted from generation to generation. He sang 'us one about a woman of Santorin, who two years before had murdered her husband. For greater effect he shut his eyes whilst singing, and now and again when he felt hoarse he took a pull at the mastic bottle which an apprentice held ready for him. But his masterpiece is a song about the eruption of 1866-70 ; it is very long ^ and lasted nearly three quarters of an hour, always in the same monotonous, jerky key ; but all listened intently, and so did I, for he articulated his words with surprising distinctness ; and if the poetry was indifferent the facts were there, for he began : β€”

In one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six,
On the seventeenth of January,
On Tuesday, at four o'clock,
Hephaestus commenced his eruption ;

and then proceeded to describe each event minutely β€” how professors and steamers came from afar ; how Thera was the wonder of all the earth β€” and now and |<^ain before a pause, and as a hint that he wanted a 1 pull at the mastic bottle, he broke his narrative with a pretty refrain : β€”

O Thera ! loveliest isle of Greece,
Our peaceful, happy home.
Will this great dread be overpast.
Or waste wilt thou become ?

At Bothr6 we visited many of these dug-out houses, and found their inhabitants prosperous and sharp-witted. From what I saw I quite think the Santoriniotes are the sharpest Greeks I have ever met ; they indulge in neat expressions, too ; for example, if you try to do something they deem impossible, after the manner of English travellers they will say, * A blind man found a needle in the straw, and a deaf man told him that he heard it fall' And when I passed a compliment on the remark the answer was, ' Bah ! bah ! one less, one more, we are all mad/

Hoios okiyoVy notos ttoXv,
^0\oi clficAi rpcXXot.

Each householder at Bothri has his vineyard, his figtree, and his mule. There are five chalk-kilns close by, which drive a roaring trade ; and the peasants are frugal, being able to work for hours without food, and drinking only water out of their gourds. They told me at Bothro a great deal about the village festivities after the vintage, the great event of the year in Santorin. Our friend the shoemaker is always an exalted personage on these occasions ; he is sent for, even to the winepress, as they tread the grapes ; there he plays his sabouna and sings his songs to encourage them in their work. What a feast they have when all this is over in each of their rock dwellings ! After the feast, fires are lighted in the bed of the torrent or street, round which they dance, saying they are burning the beard of Chronos ; then they part, saying, * Toi) ')(p6vov ' (till next year) to one another.

They do deserve a little fun after the hard work of the vintage in the summer heats : there is first of all
the arduous task of picking the bunches, then they have to carry the heavily laden baskets to a vault in the pumice rock (xdvo^a, from Ital. canova\ which serves as winepress and cellar. Basketful after basketful is poured into this press until it is higher than the height of a man. Here they leave them for eight days to compress one another with their own weight, and then comes the pressing with the feet in the Trareriipiov, until the juice runs out into the Xrji/o^; after which it is transferred to barrels made of wood expressly fetched from the forests of Thasos.

The church of Bothri stands in a conspicuous elevation above the trench ; in fact, from Pheri the only trace of these four villages buried in the clefts is a row of four churches. And I felt much difficulty in believing that they were the churches of four different villages until I had paid them a visit Under the venerable cypress by the church of Bothr6 stands a plain sarcophagus of ancient date, and in another of these churches are other remnants of antiquity, for few islands can boast of more relics of the past than Thera.

Our next expedition was not so interesting ; it was to the village of Pyrgos, high up on the hillside, where the coating of pumice clings to the lower spurs of Mesa Boun6 and its twin peak. Mount Prophet Elias. As its name implies, Pyrgos is a fortified town or fortress much resorted to in days gone by, when pirates ventured into the basin of Siantorin. It is just like all the island fortified towns, dirty and old-world, decidedly more picturesque than the long white line of Pheri, but less peculiar than Bothri. And then we toiled up the limestone mountain to the convent of the prophet, from which vantage ground a most superb view is enjoyed. Far, far away on the southern horizon are seen Mount
' Ida and other snow-capped peaks of Crete ; to the east I are the Sporades, Kos, Patmos, Ikaria, Samos, hugging f the coast of Asia Minorj whilst around us are scattered, like leaves in autumn, the many-shaped Cyclades.

From Mount Elias the formation of Santorin is seen most easily β€” how the crater has spread itself and hung to the mountain on which we now were. Thera, as being the southernmost island in the archipelago, is a favourite I halting place for birds of passage in their various seasons ' before commencing their long flight August, perhaps, when the quails pass by, is the busiest of these times ; and then everyone is a sportsman, for the quails perfectly cover the plain and mountains. Guns and ammunition are expensive luxuries, reserved only for the well-to-do ; so those whose means are limited go forth to the chase armed with long nets which they attach to the end of a bifurcated stick ; then they stand behind walls and send dogs into the fields, and they catch the quails like butterflies as they pass. During August you can buy a good ' fat quail for a penny in Santorin ; they keep them for
months on millet seed in upper rooms, and when they are fat enough they boil them with a little vinegar and salt, and put them by.

They have cleverly contrived trs^ps, too, for the numerous little birds which pass in October, nets
which close when the birds enter to take a bait : the sportsman is concealed fifty yards off", and the little birds are attracted to the spot by decoy birds placed in cages in a fig tree. In the winter Santorin is well supplied with partridges and woodcocks, so there is no lack of game.

It was on our return from Anaphi that we landed on the southern point of Santorin known as Akroteri,
a blood red promontory on which was built a white church to the honour of the sailors' patron, St. Nicholas. All around are dotted heaps of stones, left by the faithful, as in Melos, as an earnest of their return ; and then we plunged into a deep volcanic gorge, and did not reach j-hp ol d village of^kroteri without considerable toil./ 1 It is a huge overgrown Venetian fortress village full of labyrinthine alleys, and we'^were lodged for the night right at the top of the fort, where evidently in former days had dwelt the governor.

It was the eve of St Basil β€” New Year's Eve in Greece, according to the old style β€” so the village was en fite, /The great amusement on these occasions is the 'calends/ or songs called KoXavhai^ *the Greek calends/ which though twelve days late, according to our notion, really had come. Companies of children and young men club together and wander from house to house singing their * calend song/ carrying with them an ornament somewhat like a Christmas tree, a round thing covered with
green and hung with flowers and lanterns.

Their songs consist of long, chanted stories, beginning thus, * To-day we celebrate the circumcision of our Lord and the feast of the blessed great Basil ; 'then follow accounts of Christ and of Basil, and they finish up by saying, * Many years to you ! * and receive each a glass of mastic or some coppers in exchange for their good wishes. Similar festivities are carried on on March i and on May i ; also on Good Friday, Christmas, and other feasts children go round and sing, getting eggs, bread, and other gifts in return for their songs.

All round Akroteri are vast caves in the volcanic rocks, which are used as stables for cows and goats ; we entered one, and terrified an old woman who was looking after her cows. She darted out past us screaming for help, saying strange robbers had come to steal her cattle ; neither was she pacified when told we were English (^AyyXoi), * Angels ! * shrieked she, * from the infernal regions, I should think ; * whereat all laughed and we thought the old woman not so discerning as Pope Gregory. The inhabitants of Akroteri were very busy visiting to-day ; each housewife had put on her best, and had adorned her table with glasses and delicious sweets.

I should be ashamed to say how many spoonfuls of rose leaf or orange flower jam, or how many glasses of liqueur we swallowed that day, being careful to remember to wish * many years ' to all around us before touching the beverage with our lips.

Amongst other delicacies peculiar to Santorin is tyropita^ which, literally translated, means cheesecake. It is a curious composition, the first ingredient being a curd of sheep's milk {yXtapo)^ then some eggs, cheese, barley, cinnamon, mastic, and saffron. The impression left upon us when tasting it was that it was horrid, but the Santoriniotes are wild about it, and at Easter time, sooner
than be without his cheesecake, a peasant will go through any privation. At this time they bake as many as fifty or sixty for each family, and what they cannot eat, when it is the consistency of a poultice, they dry and soak in their coffee on other feast days. #

After visiting the prehistoric remains at Akroteri we mounted our mules and returned to Pheret. About half a mile on this side of the capital is the leper hospital, said to be the best in Greece. There is a white pyramid near it to warn people off, but in spite of this we went in. There are only seven inmates now, and each has a cell cut in the volcanic cliff, very tiny but clean. Poor things ! they were very surprised to see us, and showed us their misfortunes β€” their withered hands and limbs β€” with an eager wish for compassion. They have their little chapel, too, with a glass partition to shut them off, and through which they may see their friends ; they pressed us very hard to go into the cells and see their possessions, but we preferred to inspect them from outside. They may walk on the cliff within certain limits from time to time, but are never allowed to approach the town. All were old except one poor lad of eighteen, and I could not help wishing him a companion of his own age, for it must be very dull for him with four old women and two bedridden old men.

There are a great number of blear-eyed people in /Santorin, dating their troubles, doubtless, from the last I eruption, and a painful number of idiots and lunatics, and I no asylum for them. One poor fellow I was pointed out at the caf(6 as being very dangerous at times, for when his fits are on it takes five men to hold him ; they just run him into the jail till the paroxysm is past, and then let him out again.

There is something very sombre about the dress of the women here β€” you seldom see one out of mourning. Their heads are tightly enveloped in a black handkerchief, and when the north wind blows, and raises the thin, small dust, they cover up their faces altogether, and the north wind can blow with a vengeance at Pheri. We had a biting northern blast for three whole days, accompanied by drifting small snow β€” weather such as we rarely have in England for misery ; and when the only available
fire is a brazier with charcoal ashes, which gives you a headache if you stoop over it, the only alleviation to your misery is to stay in bed or take exercise of an exceedingly active nature.

Deciding on the latter course on one of these days I set off for the northern town of Epanomerii. The snow and wind cut our faces terribly β€” at times it was almost impossible to struggle against the blast. Up at Meroviglia the ground was hard with frost ; we felt perished, and decided to return to our brazier and our beds, but our friend the demarch put new life into us by another dose of hot tea and rum ; so we plodded on till Epanomerii was reached. The road thither is very uneven β€” now you climb a rock, and are perished by the wind ;now you are in shelter, and the sun scorches : such is the winter climate on a volcano in the sunny south.

As we approached Epanomerii the volcanic rocks grew redder, and at the town itself all the formation of the rocks is red. This the inhabitants have utilised to make their houses gayer, and here there are many fine large houses, built of stones hewn out of these red rocks, set together firmly with cement, and into the cement are inserted little red stones by way of ornament.

It is a flourishing place, where most of the sea captains and pilots dwell ; by one of these we were hospitably entertained on fried eggs, with pork sausages cut up with them. The captain was very talkative, asking innumerable questions about England and far-off lands.

He told us much, too, about the shipping of Santorin that interested usβ€” how when they have built a new vessel they have a grand ceremony at the launching, or benediction, as they call it here, at which the priest officiates ; and the crowd eagerly watch, as she glides into the water, the position she takes, for an omen is attached to this. It is customary to slaughter an ox, a lamb, or a dove on these occasions, according to the wealth of the proprietor and the size of the ship, and with the blood to make a cross on the deck. After this the captain jumps off the bows into the sea with all his clothes on, and the ceremony is followed by a banquet and much rejoicing. I must say that the aspect of Epanomeria is more cheerful than that of the other villages, for here all the houses are above the ground, and the Venetian fort on the headland forms a pleasing addition to the gay red houses.

On our return journey we went to visit a spot called Kolombo, on the north of the island, off which, in 1650, the island which bore the same name appeared in the sea. There are lots of Roman tombs here cut in the rocks, which bear a remarkable resemblance to the present style of dwelling-house in Bothr6 and other villages, having a low^ door and a window on either side; traces of ironwork are seen, and in some of the tombs there are places for three, five, or seven bodies. Close to here was once a Roman town, and into the walls of a neighbouring church is let a Roman statue.

Next morning was Sunday, and though the wind was still very cold, and occasional snowstorms passed over us, yet we could not afford to stay in bed, nor could we walk far, for we were bidden to a wedding β€” that of the daughter of our muleteer, who lived, not far from Pheri, in one of those rock-cut dwellings.

We had heard much about weddings in Greece, strange customs having been collected by various tra-
vellers from various points of Hellas, and the union of them all had given us a confused idea of what a Greek peasant wedding in a remote island would be. I will now simply relate what I saw at Santorin ; it "had its own peculiarities, but many of those peculiarities which we were accustomed to associate with Greek weddings were absent.

We arrived at the house about two o'clock in the afternoon ; it consisted, as usual, of two rooms excavated out of the rock. The outer one was fitted up with divans and chairs for the guests, and in the inner one, a dingy dark hole, we saw the bride being dressed by her lady friends by the light of a candle. She was a tall, handsome girl, and the first view we got of her was with her face all covered with powder, and her body concealed only by a mysterious white garment ; but when she came forth to greet us the powder had been wiped off her face, and she was dressed in a blue Japanese silk trimmed with drab satin and cheap lace. She had an orange blossom wreath on her head and a veil over her face, which she raised as she kissed her guests in turn. And then she sat on a divan with her bridesmaid {KOfiirapa) on one side, equally gay in trumpery European tinery. Lots of female guests were assembled now in the caveβ€” for it was no more or less than a cave β€” and was getting insufferably hot, and the ordeal for me was trying, for I became conscious that only women were admitted to this part of the ceremony, and I had seen more than I was intended to.

At length the firing of guns from outside announced the approach of the bridegroom, and the strains of saboMfia and syravlion accompanied him. This firing of guns and playing of music are inseparable from a Greek wedding, so that it has given rise to that strange saying when it thunders, * God is marrying His Son.*

When the bridegroom reached the doorstep the bridesmaid met him with a saucerful of honey and comfits, and a towel. He dipped his finger into the honey, and made three crosses with it on the door, one on the lintel, and one on each post. After this he ate a mouthful, which the bridesmaid put into his mouth with a spoon, wiped his fingers on the towel, and sank into a retired comer. Poor man ! he looked very nervous, and, by the side of his fine, tall bride, looked a miserable specimen of humanity. Following the bridegroom came the bride's father, our muleteer, with two priests. The father had on a bright yellow coat and a red fez today in honour of his daughter's nuptials ; we hardly recognised him as the man who had trudged by our side over so many miles of Santorin. He had just returned with the two priests and the best man (Ko/jLircLpos) from his vineyard, where they had gathered the vine-tendrils, which were to make the crowns for the young couple ; and now the pretty ceremony of making these crowns began.

Several girls were called upon to officiate at this : a table was put in the middle of the room, and a basket on it covered with a bright calico handkerchief; this basket contained the materials for making the crowns. First of all, there were two vine-tendrils twisted round and round till they formed a circle about five inches in diameter ; on this foundation the crown-makers twisted cotton, with the husks and seeds still sticking to it Over that they twined pink and bltie ribbons, the ends of which were left to hang in streamers behind, and on the top of this they fastened artificial flowers with gold thread, which also hung down behind.

As they made the wreaths the maidens, two on either side of the table, sang songs ; the eldest began
and sang one verse, then another answered, and so on. And in these songs they wished the young couple every good wish, as follows : * May holy Procopius be with you to-day. May holy Tryphon grant you a life of pleasure and peace together. May holy Polycarp grant you many teeth in your house.' Then another of the tnaidens sang as she works β€”

Adorn the crowns with pearls and flowers ; The bride and bridegroom are the moon and stars.
She is answered by another on the opposite side of the table :β€” The bride is Venice, and her swain
Is like that city on the main. A third then sang a couplet : β€” The bestman, and the bridesmaid, too,
Smell aa Chiote gardens do.

The allusion to Venice is interesting, as proving how the custom has been handed down from generation to generation, surviving the jealousy of the Italians, and Turkish changes.

When the crowns were finished, and the singing over, they placed these symbols of matrimony again in the basket, and handed them to the priests, who headed the procession to the neighbouring church. It was piercingly cold when we came out of the warm cave, and snow was falling, but my neighbour pointed to it and said, * This is lucky ' with an emphasis which at first I thought to be intended for a sarcasm, but on reflection the Greek saying occurred to me, * Happy is the bride that it rains (upon,* and if the greater rarity of snow occurs it surely must indicate some great good luck. We in England have chosen the sun as indicating prosperity to the bride ; in Greece they have chosen rain, the result of difference of climate, no doubt.

We went to church two and two, the priests leading the way, then the bride with the bestman, followed by the bridegroom and the bridesmaid ; musicians playing vigorously brought up the rear. The rest of the ceremony is, of course, religious, and to those who have not seen a Greek wedding it is odd enough. The altar was placed in the middle of the church, the basket with the crowns upon it, and before this the wedding party solemnly stood in a row. The chief priest then bound the young couple's wrists with a belt preparatory to reading the gospel and the necessary injunctions. Then
they were given candles to hold, and kissed the priest's hands as they got them. After this came the ring ceremony, both bride and bridegroom being signed three times with the sign of the cross with the rings before the priest put them on their fingers. The bestman then changed them from one hand to the other, as an earnest that each was bound by the vows of the other, and the bridesmaid changed them back. More gospel was then read before producing the crowns ; with these the bride and bridegroom were signed three times more with the sign of the cross before they were put on their heads, and again, as with the rings, the crowns were changed from one head to the other. After this the sacramental wine was administered, three sips each to the young couple and one sip each to their attendants, and then the newly made man and wife, bridesmaid, and best-man, with the three officiating priests, joined hands and literally danced the syrtos round the altar, quickeninj their steps as the bystanders pelted them, priests an( all, with comfits until they winced again.

The last part of the ceremony was a trying one to me, for it was intimated that I must take a part therein. Before the altar stood man and wife, behind them their attendants holding on the crowns on the top of their heads. Each guest was expected to pass before them in turn, and administer a kiss first to the bride and then ^ to the bridegroom ; my turn came at last β€” there was no escape for me.

After the religious ceremony was concluded we were all invited to return to the house of the bride's father, where in the most limited space possible they danced a {yrfe.? abominably and administered refreshments β€” divers kinds of jam, mastic, liqueurs, and plates of honey and almond, which last delicacy had to be eaten with a knife- In Santorin they do not keep up marriage festivities so long as those we saw at Sikinos* or as in Mykonos, in which island ten or fifteen days of festivity are considered usual, and at a peasant wedding, which was concluded

* Vide^, 189.

the day we arrived, they told us that no less than twenty lambs had been slaughtered, not to mention other food But most of the quaint old customs relative to marriage in Greece have been abandoned for exactly the same reason that they are abandoning the costumes β€” because they are too expensive to keep up. In Mykonos they still keep up the custom of the proxenia ; the man does not propose in person, but, having settled the preliminaries to his satisfaction, he sends an old female relative of his to seek the hand of the girl ; this old lady must have one stocking white and the other brown or red. In a poem by Valetta entitled the * Shepherdess of Mykonos * this custom is alluded to thus : β€”

Your stockings of two colours make me think
That we shall have an offer.

If the sender of the offer is not * made to eat gruel,' as the Greeks neatly express a refusal, then on the fol- lowing Friday the parish priest and the two families assemble for the discussion of the settlement, which is in itself a religious ceremony, almost as impressive as the' marriage one. Greek girls are usually well endowed, for the father, if he is able, provides his daughter with a house ; sons are not supposed to want anything, and rarely inherit their father's home.

Such was our wedding at Santorin ; from this and others I saw in my travels through the islands I cannot say that I think modern Greek weddings deserve the colour that has been given to them by various writers. Elaborate accounts of strange ceremonies long obsolete are compiled and supposed to be in use to-day ; the real thing is quaint and pretty enough in itself, and requires no romantic colouring.

Our muleteer was ready for us next morning in his plain clothes, just as if nothing had happened the day before ; and we started on our longest expedition on the island to the south-eastern end, where on the slopes of the limestone mountain are the chief remains of Grecian antiquities. Our road led us through the large village of * great place' (fieyaXo x^/oto), with evidences of Venetian splendour, and then on to a spot called Emporion, which name testifies to the trade that was once carried on here in days now long gone by ; yet still it is a well-to-do place, and we were by no means badly housed with the demarch. At the entrance to the village is a mediaeval tower, planted against the mountain side, and near it a tall, waving palm-tree ; vineyards are all spread around, and the spot looked very picturesque as it climbed up a cleft of the mountain, down which cleft during the recent rains terrible torrents had poured, drowning men and cattle, and ruining houses and vineyards in its rush towards the sea.

The church of Empori6n is interesting : four pillars of an ancient temple stand in the courtyard οutside, and inside the pillars of the nave have belonged to a Corinthian temple which probably came from Eleusis, the city which once stood near here, but almost all the traces of which have been washed away by encroachments of the sea. The church bells were all clanging and pealing that evening, for the morrow was the day of the Epiphany, the baptism of Christ, the day on which the priest blesses water in the church and prepares his holy oil, and all good people were to be in church by 4 A.M. It was an effort, but I was very desirous of seeing this ceremony in this quaint old church, so I arose in time, and was rewarded.

Very quaint indeed it looked as we went out of the cold darkness into the brilliantly lighted church, and saw the pious populace kneeling all around as the litany was being chanted prior to the blessing of the waters. There was the font, an ancient marble altar ornamented with garlands and rams' heads, placed before the picture of the baptism of Christ ; it was full of water, and illuminated with candles stuck around the edge with their own grease, whilst pots and jugs full of water of every description covered the floor near this font.

After the litany was over the priest in his gold brocaded stole went around with his cross and a sprig of basil in his hand, accompanied by two acolytes, with censers, who assisted in groaning the responses. Everyone knelt, when the priest threw the basil into the font, read the appointed portion of the Scriptures, and signed the water in the font and in the jugs with the cross. No sooner was this ceremony over than there was a regular rush from all sides with mugs and bottles to se cure some of this consecrated water. Everybody laughed and hustled each other, even the priest with the cross in
his hand stood and watched them with a broad grin on his face ; it was a striking contrast to the solemnity which had reigned a moment before. The font was soon emptied of its contents, and an orange which had been floating in it was presented by the priest to one of his acolytes.

Before leaving the church with their bottle of water everybody went up to kiss the cross which the priest held and to be sprinkled with water from the sprig of basil, after which he dropped as his exchange gift for such favours a coin in the plate held by an acolyte Then they dispersed to their homes, carrying their bottle of water with them and a sprig of basil, which the priest had blessed, to hang up in their homes.

It was a lovely warm day, for a change, and we set out on our duties of seeing the ancient ruins of Santorin as soon as breakfast had restored us from the fatigues of the early mass. That evening found us again at Phera, after a hard day's work, amongst ruins which I will describe in a note.*

We reached our house belated and drenched with rain ; the lovely morning had been treacherous and our paths were torrents, for the paths were the beds of torrent Hitherto we had had a contempt for the dry torrent-beds, but they had at last asserted their use. Before the rush of the water the stalks of the water willows* [Xvyapta) bent and swayed. Out of these willows the Santoriniotes make capital baskets, and drive a good trade by selling them to their neighbours. Why they are more energetic than the other islanders I cannot say. Barren and dry as Santorin looks by the side of its neighbour Naxos, its inhabitants are energetic and prosperous ; whereas in Naxos, where nature, has done all for them she can, idleness and poverty prevail.

One more journey remained for us, namely, an expedition to the lost limb of Santorin, the island of
Therasiaβ€” an expedition which will be to me an ever memorable one. It was only a short sail across the harbour, an hour's run with a good breeze, but our breeze to-day was rather too good, and we were drenched to the sbn before we set foot on this inhospitable shore. Everything here is the same as at Thera, only on a smaller scale ; a few boathouses form the port, a wretched zigzag path leads up to the row of white houses eight hundred feet above, each with a vaulted roof, which form the Chora. It was St John the Baptist's Day,

* Vuk note.

' iivyapthf or ApyoXv^, was called K^yos, or Ayvos, by Dioscurides. It is ^us castusy osier.

an universal holiday, for St. John the Baptist follows ^ next after the Epiphany in the Byzantine calendar. And, despite our drenched condition and the biting north wind, we enjoyed participating in the blessing of the sea which happened to be taking place. Down the zigzag path the procession wended its way, headed by priests carrying crosses, and two acolytes carrying lanterns ; after them came all the inhabitants of the town, a hardy seafaring race. On the seashore a litany was sung, during which all the people knelt around, and with his cross the priest blessed the waves and then threw it into the sea. There was a general scramble now to get the cross, for the man or boy who secures it gets as a reward for facing the cold and the wet some coppers from the bystanders, which later in the day will buy him enough wine to make him very drunk and drive out the chill.

With the crowd returning from their devotions we climbed the hill and went straight to the demarch's
house, where breakfast was shortly afterwards spread for us according to the abilities of our host ; hard-boiled eggs, fish, and curious cakes (^eporch) made out of flour and oil, twisted into shapes to represent flowers, baked, and then covered with honey ; this meal was quite as good as we could expect on Therasia, for the demarch himself was little better than a labourer. The landlords of Therasia are, for the most part, absentees ; that is to say, I they live over at Epanomerii or Pheri, and only their ^ inferiors remain on the spot. Whilst we sat at our meal men came round with dishes begging for a subscription for a new church. I asked them what they could want with a new church on an island which had more churches in it than houses. They smiled and said it was a vow made to St. Nicholas in time of storm ; and I thought how useful a church had been to us at Anaphi in time of need, so I gave them a trifle.

After breakfast we set off across the island to visit the mines, where the best pumice stone is found and exported, and where the prehistoric remains were unearthed two years ago. On our way we passed through Agaliel ; quite the quaintest village I ever saw, surpassing even those of Bothr6 and Goni^, for here the gulley in the volcanic rock is extremely narrow and deep, so there is no room for gardens ; in fact, it is a natural street in which every house, without one exception, is hewn out of the rock ; here even the church is cut in the rock, having only on one side a wall, and in a comer has been constructed a small bell tower, which is positively the only means by which you can identify the
existence of sacred precincts ; until you have entered the gulley and walked up it a little way there is not a vestige of anything to lead one to suspect the presence of habitations.

Therasia is more pastoral than Thera On the southern slopes a good deal of grain is grown, and women with their faces enveloped in white handkerchiefs were tending their goats, walking about with huge sacks on their backs in search of fodder for their niules. I remarked that here nearly every woman wore white, whereas in Thera black was the fashion. Beyond this point there was nothing whatsoever to lead us to believe that we were on a different island.

On our return to the Chora there was not much to detain us at Therasia β€” only the unpleasant fact that our three sailors, having been too hospitably treated by their hosts, were drunk, two of them hopelessly so, and loath to leave. In our search for the delinquents we entered into several houses, and saw the good people all giving themselves up to the delights of the table. One we entered ψonsisted of only one room with no window, no light except from the door. There was a round table in the middle of the room, at which a dozen men were singing and roaring at the top of their voices round the remains of their feast ; and as we appeared at the door the host would not hear * Nay,' we
must drink to our welcome and our happy return home.

All the women stood meekly in a comer contemplating us and their uproarious lords. These feast days in modern Greece are regular symposia: there was the board surrounded by men ; there were the women serving and shrinking from observation ; and there was the bard, who had done his duty earlier in the feast by singing and playing the syravlion until he had impressed music and hilarity into his listeners. These are lineal / descendants of the feasts of Dionysia, at which all got drunk, and were held blameless ; nay, even now it is thought a crime to remain sober at these feasts, an insult to your host As a rule, they are not a drunken race, but they have a good many exceptional days, and ' St. John the Baptist's Day is one which proves this rule.

Meanwhile we were very unhappy about our sailors, for return td Thera we must that evening to catch the steamer on the morrow ; and the wind was blowing a perfect hurricane. We could see little waterspouts, or syphons, as they call them here, all over the basin of Santorin ; they are gathered wreaths of spray, which the sailors look upon with great awe, and say, * The Lamia of the sea is travelling.' We, however, were determined to get across, and thought we had as much right to travel
as this mysterious personage. I could not help admiring these little whirlwinds as they scudded along the sea, resembling wreaths of smoke issuing from a chimney.

To drive them away the island sailors will shoot at them. A plan they have in Santorin, which is deemed most effectual, is to thrust the point of a knife into the mast

Outside the harbour it was blowing a fearful hurricane, a regular avsjioa-rpo^dKoSy as they call it, caused by demons rushing from place to place. So associated in these islands are all horrors connected with the wind with the idea of demons that the devii is often called 6 avsfios / (the wind), and old women mutter * honey and milk ' to exorcise these demons in the air, as in ancient times they
offered honey and milk to the nymphs who were supposed to raise these storms. In other places they attribute storms to a marriage among the Nereids (Ji iroinrrj twi; ^ipatha>v\ and the attendant festivities.

As for ourselves we felt that we were in danger, not so much from the demons of the air as from the
demons of the earth ; for two of our sailors, a father and son, fought like demons in their drunken madness, biting each other on the cheeks and hands until the blood gushed out on the shore. The third sailor was not so drunk, only furiously angry with his associates ; he cursed them again and again with that effectual Greek curse, the ^aaKskovy done by shaking five fingers at the object of your imprecation and hissing vk through your teeth : it is the most deadly insult you can ofTer to a person, and if you dare not do it to his face, do it behind his back, and it will be equally effectual.

With great difficulty we got into our boat and began our homeward journey, and as we rounded the point which shelters the little bay of Therasia the demons of the air snatched our sail out of the hands of our soberest sailor and unshipped our rudder, causing us infinite trouble and danger of being driven on the rocks. The pugnacious father and son had to be held at opposite ends of the boat by our servant and myself until kindly nature closed their eyes in sleep, and thus we crossed over to Thera. It will be long before the adventures of this voyage will be effaced from our memories, and we shall in future avoid a voyage in a caXque on the occasion of a symposium in honour of St. John the Baptist

NOTE I.
On the Antiquities of Santorin,

There are many interesting private collections of antiquities to be seen at Santorin. The demarch of Meroviglia had a quantity of stelcB and inscriptions which he had picked up near his town ; and Kyrios Nomikos, one of the members for the eparchy of Santorin, who married a daughter of old Delenda, a great antiquarian, has got a splendid collection. One of these interested me especially, being a vase of white marble, round the lip of which is an Ionic inscription, proving that it was an offering to Hecate (Cf. Hesiod, *Theo.' 410-450), just like the vessels they present to churches now, or the plates of choice Rhodian pottery which they insert for ornaments in the wall.

But the ruins around Empori6n and on Mesa Boun6 are the chief objects of interest in Santorin. From Empori6n a long spur of non-volcanic rock runs out into the sea, called the promontory of Exomytis, close under which was the city of Eleusis, which I Ptolemaius names in his list of the towns of Santorin, but the greater part of which has now sunk into the sea. Along, and under this spur, are many interesting tombs, and over one of these is the celebrated echendra^ or serpent of Santorin, with an Egyptian beard ; it is five feet long, and is carved so as to look as if it were crawling along the rock. The inhabitants look upon it with terror, and doubtless the proverb, * The serpent will eat up Santorin,' comes from this ; but whether it alludes to the volcano or the encroachments of the sea it is hard to say. Just beyond this there is a rock with a flat space on the top, and something that resembles a seat in the centre, not unlike the so-called seat of Homer on Chios ; this possibly may have been a place for funeral orations, as there are graves all around β€” huge, massive graves, some of them cut deep into the rock. The remains of a hereon interested us much, being four and a half yards broad by nine yards long, with the place for the sarcophagus opposite the entrance. Now at Santorin and Anaphi, from numerous inscriptions, we learn that it was the custom to make heroes of the departed, and to build heroa in their honour, especially if they belonged to the family of iCgides. All along this * point of the nose,' as it means when translated, are { these graves, pointing to a wealthy population advanced in arts ; and on our way back to Empori6n we visited a charming relic of the past, namely, a tiny marble church dedicated to the * Marble St Nicholas.' This is no more or less than an ancient heroon turned into a place of Christian worship ; it is built entirely of marble, and is nearly square, being four yards twenty-three inches by three yards thirty-five inches. The door on the south side has an eagle gable {arroi) over it, and the roof is made of blocks of marble placed on the bias.

By eleven o'clock we were ready to leave Empori6n, and went in the direction of Perissa, a spot which presumably derives its name from being the point at which people started to cross over to Anaphi. Just across on the opposite shore of Anaphi was found an inscription, from which we gather that it was a catalogue of lands given by the owners to a temple at Perissa, and now the convent of Kalamiotissa belongs to the one at Perissa. Here Ross tells us an amusing story of how a monk wished to dig for antiquities, and when Ross refused the monk had recourse to dreaming a dream about a hidden picture ; whereat the inhabitants took upon themselves to dig, and found traces of ancient worship, erected by subscription the modem church, and looked upon the monk with
veneration ever afterwards.

A hideous church and convent now occupy the spot where an iron cross was supposed to have been found during this excavation ; but the sea is rapidly encroaching, and will in all probability wash this all away before the lapse of many years. Half a century ago the sea was one hundred and seventy feet distant from this church, now it is only fifty feet off, and in calm weather from a boat you can distinctly see the remains of an old wall and the ruins of the houses of Eleusis buried in the waves.

But one little gem is still left behind the modem church, being a small circular marble heroon : it is fifty-four feet round, and is raised on a square basis. The roof was once supported by a central pillar, the base of which is still left, and round the outside ^ve of the stones are covered with inscriptions late and badly cut ; all the stones have a plain edging round two sides, but they are obviously not in their original places. Near the church we saw another stone, which evidently came from here, covered with similar inscriptions ; from these we gather that colonists from Melos, Scopelos, and other places were interested in this building, having erected it probably in honour of a departed member of their
colony by contributions from various sources thereon enumerated. Perissa is rich in remains of the past let into the walls of the church and convent cells.

On leaving the convent we ascended Mesa Boun6, and visited the ruins of an extensive town, which crowned the sununit of the promontory now known as Mount St. Stephen, which is joined to Mount Prophet Elias by the col of Mesa Boun6. Ross spent days here investigating the ruins, which he believed to be those of iΒ£a ; ' but since his day an inscription has been found which clearly points to the town being calle d Thera^ not iEa.

The little Church of St Stephen is literally built out of antiquities scraped together on his hill ; and soon after passing this you come across the walls, and enter the precincts of the old town. On the smooth cliff are many of those curious rock inscriptions, difficult to decipher and still more difficult to tell their purport. For the most part these consist of simple proper names cut in the letters of vastly different epochs, from those of early Greece to those of the Byzantine empire. Separated from these is the simple word *Avay*o7 (necessity), where probably once stood an altar to Necessity, such as we see elsewhere erected to Fear, Force, Shame, &c At Corinth, too, was a temple to Necessity, which none might enter.

The city walls of Thera are a curious mixture of polygonal and rectangular stones, which look as if both these styles of architecture had been in vogue at the same period. A little church facing west, and now dedicated to Christ, has been a pagan sanctuary ; over it is an inscription now illegible, but from its position we may argue that the temple was dedicated to some infernal god. Further, on facing the south, is an exceedingly curious building, used now as a mandra for cattle : it has evidently been a temple, from its foundations, and out of a hole in the living rock behind issues a current of hot air ; the peasants call it the /xai/rciov, or place of oracle, and I think they are right. On one of the jambs of the entrance is the inscription 0P02.*IA0SPEN02, and all about this spot are quantities of inscriptions, votive tablets, 2Jid psephismata.

On the eastern side, on the top of the hill, are the remains of the public buildings, now only a waste of pillars, bases, and architraves. Everything of value has been taken off by * foreign thieves' β€” Orloff, Farvel, Ross, and others all boast of caique-loads of treasures shipped from this mountain to Europe ; and if only the Greek Government would encourage excavation caique-loads might still be found, which could be secured for the Athenian or local museums.

All down the southern slopes of Mesa Boun6 are graves, where Ross found interesting stores of these amphora peculiar to Thera, with ornaments, proving the intercourse between this island and Egypt; a subject which might be pursued with advantage, for Thera would be one of the most likely islands for communication with Egypt, possessing so capacious a harbour, valuable productions of the volcanic soil, and, moreover, being the first island of the yΒ£gean Sea at which ships would touch.

Descending Mesa 6oun6 on the north side we passed numerous abandoned cells, which hermits had once occupied, and then came down on Kamaris, at which spot the chief ruins seem to belong to the Roman epoch. Here, too, the sea is encroaching terribly. Dr. Dekigalla told me that forty years ago he had entered one of the caves or chambers {camere) by the sea, from which Kamaris gets its name, with dry feet, and had copied an inscription in it ; now this cave is some feet below the level of the sea. At Kamaris we saw the remains of a Roman temple, some statues of inferior workmanship, and the foundations of houses.

NOTE II.
On the Prehistoric Remains at Therasia,

The mines of Therasian earth, which lay to the south of Therasia, have been worked now for several years, and when the workmen reached a depth of thirty feet from the summit, and fifty feet inwards, they came upon the foundation of buildings. First, they discovered the walls of two buildings resting on a foundation or stratum of scoriae, on which the pumice stone (acnny, as they call the Therasian earth here) had been deposited. This left no doubt that the building in question had existed prior to the eruption which had covered Thera with pumice. On further clearing they discovered that these were the walls of rooms, the floors of which consisted of the scoriae rock. The largest of the two dwellings was about twenty-four feet from the smaller one, and consisted of a space divided into five unequal chambers, four of which lay in a row to the north, whilst the fifth and largest faced south. It was
twenty-four feet from east to west, and twenty and a quaiter feet from north to south, including the hall to the east and south. The form is a parallelogram with the angles slightly curved, and the walls have apparently shelved in towards the roof. The walls consisted of volcanic stones stuck together with clay, and wooden rafters had been let in to form a flat roof, which may have been covered with mud, as those in most of the islands, for in the refuse has only been found bits of charred wood and rubble, the charred wood being so decayed that at the slightest touch it crumbled into dust The * finds ' in the houses were very interesting β€” two tools of obsidian, one having the shape of a lance the other of a savr or toothed knife, and a ring of the same material, with traces of string having been attached to it ; perhaps used in the loom, like the rings OapuSta) they attach the strings to to-day ; two basins of tufa stone β€” one round, the other elliptical β€” and two stones, evidently used for grinding com ; quantities of pottery, of different forms and shapes, so badly baked that most of it crumbled away ; but they resembled strongly those which I found in the graves at Antiparos,' having the same vertical holes for suspension, but owing to the dampness which had penetrated the pumice they were in a worse state of preservation. Most of these vases were full of edible material more or less reduced to cinders, but it was still easy to recognise barley, peas, anise, coriander, sesame, millet, and a sort of cheese, which must have closely resembled the modem island production of mysethra.^ The skeleton of a sheep, and in one of the rooms that of a man, were discovered very much charred. The remains at Akroteri are not so old β€” iron instmments were found therein, and pottery of a much more advanced age, resembling, more closely that found by Dr. Schliemann at Hirsarlih^ than those things which came from Antiparos and Therasia, for there are rude representations on them of animal and vegetable life, milk jugs with breasts, and so forth, which point to a much more recent period. Furthermore, the remains of the village of Akroteri are not so deeply buried as those at Therasia, being little more than twenty feet below the surface. It is a question of great difficulty to chronologically arrange this town-geology can speak with much greater certainty than archaeology.
' Vide note on Antiparos. β€’ Vide p. 155.

No comments:

Post a Comment