Temple Or Segesta.

Temple Or Segesta.

A Street In Selinus.

A Street In Selinus.

Supposed Temple Of Hercules.

Supposed Temple Of Hercules.

One Of The Metopes From A Temple In Selinus.

One Of The Metopes From A Temple In Selinus.

Yet these gigantic blocks, on which men climb about like dwarfs, are here rolled out upon the ground like huge beads from a broken thread.

Supposed Temple Of Minerva.

Supposed Temple Of Minerva.

Supposed Temple Of Juno.

Supposed Temple Of Juno.

Which caused this universal yet symmetrical destruction, man or Nature ? It is supposed by many that an earthquake simultaneously overthrew these splendid shrines. But, aside from the fact that Hannibal certainly destroyed the rest of the city, and had no reason to revere, or make an exception of, its temples, we have no record of any such earthquake here, and the great temple of Segesta, only a few miles distant, and a contemporary of these structures, still stands complete, with every column perfect. The Greeks used no cement in their buildings, and a great multitude of captive Selinites, compelled to pull on ropes attached to these colossal shafts, could therefore easily have hauled them down, and with more regularity than any seismic wave would probably have shown. It certainly is less difficult to conceive how men could have leveled these huge blocks, than how they ever brought them hither from their mountain quarry miles away, and piled them one upon another with a perfect symmetry, that nothing in the world has yet surpassed. In any case, it now suggests the site of some immense catastrophe, from which the dead alone have been removed. The loneliness and pathos of the place are indescribable. Selinus was a city of youth and hope. With one exception all its temples faced the rising sun. Its growth and progress both in art and commerce in its brief existence of two hundred years have hardly had a parallel in history. And yet its hopes all proved delusive. Its youth was blasted. Its brilliant promise was annihilated by man's brutal fury. For more than twenty centuries, the rising sun has looked in vain to see the stately columns of its temples flush with the splendor of the dawn across the southern sea. And Carthage, which destroyed it, is no more; and its old enemy, Segesta, has but one lone edifice to mark its place of sepulture! Nay, even the refined and cultivated spirit of the people that created all these masterpieces has been also slain; and starving peasants, shaking from malaria, and scarcely as intelligent as the beasts they torture, are successors of the men who built Segesta and Selinus. The very land is blighted. Magnificence has been followed by miasma. The lonely sea gnaws restlessly the lifeless sands. The Doric temple of Demeter at Segesta is still standing; but the fertile fields, which her protection made the Granary of Rome, now scarcely feed the dwindling population, which asks for bread, and has for centuries received a stone.

Front View Of Temple Of Segesta.

Front View Of Temple Of Segesta.

Looking Seaward From Selinus.

Looking Seaward From Selinus.

As I looked back upon the solemn ruins of Selinus, still and white among the upturned faces of the flowers, the melancholy site seemed haunted by the ghosts of dethroned gods and vanished greatness.

"Sad sobs the sea forsaken of Aphrodite; Hellas and Helen are not, and the slow sands fall; Gods that were gracious and lovely, gods that were mighty, Sky, sea, and silence resume them all".

Now that Palermo and Messina are connected by a railway, the formerly difficult journey of one hundred and forty-four miles between them is accomplished by express trains in five and a half hours. The scenery of sea and shore along this route is charming. The bold, historic coast describes a series of majestic curves, whence the enchanting, multicolored sea is almost constantly in sight. Here monster cliffs with perpendicular sides jut grimly from the land, and cast dark, purple shadows on the bright, green water at their base. There, on a frown-ing headland, stands a stately ruin, saved from the wreck of stormy centuries. Now we are skirting precipices, at whose feet the billows break in jeweled foam; now gliding by some semicircular beach of yellow sand, which rims the azure of the sea, as the young moon projects its golden crescent on a sapphire sky. Occasionally a succession of short tunnels gives us startling contrasts, as dazzling sunshine alternates with darkness, and moments of profound eclipse make subsequently still more glorious the sudden splendor of the shimmering sea. At intervals a lovely bay swells inland like a bowl of lapis-lazuli, upon the edge of which a picturesque village hangs in high relief; while, far away, where sea and sky lines meet in violet haze, the lateen sails of fishing boats careen like sea gulls in the breeze, and wave a salutation to us from their sunlit wings.