In The Region Of Death.

In The Region Of Death.

On The Flank Of Etna.

On The Flank Of Etna.

For nine months of the year Nature conceals this hideous realm of death beneath a coverlet of snow, and warns intruders off, on peril of their lives. Only in summer, therefore, is the ascent of Etna possible; and even then it is a task requiring unusual strength of muscles, heart, and lungs, so steep is the volcano's slope, so difficult is it to secure a foothold in the sliding ashes, and so intensely cold is the thin air encountered in that upper world. The crater at the summit is a vast abyss, with almost vertical walls about a thousand feet in depth and nearly three miles in circumference. At times this sulphurous bowl is full of lava; at others it appears comparatively empty; but from its awful pit are always rising noxious vapors, while from its sides spring hissing jets of steam. Most climbers of Mount Etna leave the foot of the monster in the evening, and make the ascent at night, in order to behold the wonderfully impressive view at sunrise from the summit. The sight of the gigantic, purple shadow of the mountain, projected with the utmost accuracy by the rising sun across the entire island, - the apex of its huge penumbra resting on the mountains of Palermo, nearly a hundred miles away, - must surely rank among the most sublime of earthly visions. Aside from this, however, the view is glorious and unique; for all of Sicily lies outspread beneath the gaze of the exultant alpinist, and even Malta is at times • discernible beyond the blue Ionian Sea.

Approaching The Crater.

Approaching The Crater.

The Crater Of Etna When Tranquil.

The Crater Of Etna When Tranquil.

Sicily has three mighty cities of the past, each corresponding . to a different section of its sea-girt triangle. Palermo on the northern, Girgenti on the southern, and Syracuse upon the eastern, coast together represent the island's highest pinnacles of achievement. Each was most powerfully affected by the region opposite to it. Palermo represents especially the imprint of the Normans; Girgenti and the southern shore recall in language and physique the sojourn of the Saracens; while Syracuse, which looks toward Greece, owes all its glory to Hellenic genius. We are too liable to forget that Syracuse, for centuries, played a r61e in history scarcely inferior to that of Rome itself. As early as 485 B.C. it was able to offer thirty thousand men and three hundred vessels of war to Greece, to aid her to resist the Persians; and, but a few years later, its citizens crushed in one decisive battle the power of the Carthaginians in Sicily. Its population, in the period of its greatest prosperity, - the fifth century before Christ, - exceeded probably a million souls; its circuit measured fourteen miles; and in its noble harbor, three miles broad, was fought the greatest naval battle of antiquity. Even as late as seventy years before our era, Cicero called it not alone "the largest of Greek, but the loveliest of all, cities "; and such St. Pa'ul may also have considered it, when he spent three days here on his way to Rome. With Syracuse also are associated some of the most illustrious personages of the past. Here Plato lived for years, as a most welcome guest; here Archimedes, first of ancient physicists and mathematicians, passed a life of usefulness; and here he met his well-known death, while too absorbed in an intricate problem to give a prompt reply to a Roman soldier, who accordingly killed him. Here Ęschylus, the Athenian Shakespeare, reproduced a number of his stately tragedies, and was revered no less by Syracusans than by Greeks. Theocritus too, facile princeps among pastoral poets, was a native of Syracuse, where also lived his brother bards, Simonides and Pindar; while our old heroes of the drama, Damon and Pythias, here gave that touching proof of " Friendship, Charity, and Benevolence," which has made their names immortal. Among its most remarkable rulers, too, were Hie-ron I. (478-467 B.c.)and Hieron II. (270-216 B.C.), who rank among the ablest sovereigns of antiquity; the former having been an ardent patron of both literature and art, a frequent victor in the Olympian games, and the special subject of some of the finest odes of Pindar. The reign of the second Hieron, which lasted more than fifty years, was also one of wonderful prosperity and splendor. The patron of Theocritus and Archimedes, Hieron II. was also the ally of Rome in her repeated wars with Carthage, and an enthusiastic friend of that remarkable sovereign of Egypt, Ptolemy Philadelphus, whose court was one of the most intellectually brilliant that the world has ever seen; and back and forth between these centres of philosophy and art Theocritus was wont to pass, admired and honored equally beside the Nile and in Trinacria.