Here, overlooking the blue sea, where once the galleys of the Caesars rode at anchor, stand in pathetic solitude the relics of five Doric temples, unique to-day among the ruins of the world. Their situation is enchanting, and forms an illustration of the perfect art with which the Greeks united architectural beauty with a natural background of impressive loveliness. They are: in various stages of decay. The Temple of Concordia, for example, supports its weight of five and twenty centuries so lightly, that it suggests the Parthenon, and at a little distance one could almost fancy that a line of white-robed worshipers might step at any moment from its stately portico. The Temple of Hercules, on the contrary, consists now only of one solitary column, rising in grandeur from the verge of a steep cliff, while all its former comrades have been scattered here and there, like mutilated pages from a volume, sacred to the gods. In this, originally noble edifice, was hung another celebrated work of Zeuxis, for which the artist had refused all payment, considering it as priceless, and which he therefore gave gratuitously to the city. Here also stood the grand bronze statue of Hercules, which the corrupt proconsul, Verres, tried to steal, with the result of being subsequently held up to the scorn and execration of mankind by Cicero. Of the superbly situated Temple of Juno no less than sixteen columns are still standing, although both they and their less fortunate companions were erected here before the year which saw the immortal exhibition of Greek valor on the plain of Marathon.
The Fates Of Sicily.
Hotel Des Temples, Near G1rgenti.
Temple Of Concordia, Girgenti.
Interior Of The Temple Of Concordia.
Grandest of all these architectural triumphs of Acragas was, however, the Temple of Jupiter - the largest Grecian sanctuary in the world, except Diana's splendid fane at Ephesus. We do not usually associate Grecian shrines with magnitude; but here at least are the ruins of a building, whose length was three hundred and sixty-three feet, and the height of whose nave exceeded that of St. Paul's in London by eighteen feet. Moreover, some of the huge blocks weigh twenty tons, and into any of their flut-ings - as Diodorus certified more than two thousand years ago - a man can place himself with ease. Among the wreckage of this temple lies a monster figure, broken into thirteen pieces. In 1401 this was still standing with two comrades; but all of them were then pulled down, and in the subsequent century, the other two, together with innumerable other fragments, were carried off to build a pier in the neighboring harbor of Gir-genti.
Temple Of Juno, Girgenti.
A charming feature of these temples is the fact that they are made of yellow sandstone. Hence, at a little distance and in certain lights, their columns have a look of tawny gold. No photographic illustration, therefore, gives the least idea of the delightful coloring of these structures, whose stony masses, in the spring, rise, golden-hued, from the florescent fields. They teach us the inestimable lesson that it is only soul and character that really are of value, and abide. They have no glittering marbles or mosaics to appeal to us, yet their sublime proportions even in their bare, rough nakedness evoke, in hearts that feel and brains that think, a lofty reverence for the past. The bindings of these beautiful stone poems have been rudely torn away, but the immortal poetry still remains. Seated among their time-worn shafts, one thinks with sadness on the slow and intermittent progress of humanity. Instead of one, unwavering advance along the entire line, the onward movement is irregular, relative, and local.
Interior Of The Temple Of Juno.
The course of human history reveals one country after another reaching an outpost in the march of civilization, far ahead of its contemporaries, but failing, after some decades or centuries, to hold the position thus acquired, and frequently relapsing into semi-barbarism.