|PHAISTOS DISK INSPIRED RESEARCH
THE LIFE OF GREECE
"Crete," Chapter 1, p.2, 1939
Originally published in 1939
By WILL DURANT
Additional to my solution of the Phaistos Disk and for further information and research is this valuable online publication of the first chapter entitled "Crete," including a few images, a chronology, footnotes, glossary and bibliography. I love the way Durant writes and I felt both empowered and encouraged by readying his approach to this ancient, veiled civilization that existed long ago in the mists of our collective history. Durant's great personal achievement in lifting the veil on this ancient world was inspiration for me.
Dates for Ancient Greece and the Aegean
by Will Durant, The Life of Greece, "Crete," Chapter 1, p.2, 1939
Notes: All dates are approximate. Individuals are placed at their time of flourishing, which is assumed to be about forty years after their birth; their dates of birth and death, where possible, are given in the index. Dates of rulers are for their reigns. A question mark before an entry indicates a date given only by Greek tradition.
B.C. 9000: Neolithic Age in Crete
3400-3000: Early Minoan, Helladic, Cycladic, I
3400-2100: Neolithic Age in Thessaly
3400-I200: Bronze Age in Crete
3000-2600: Early Minoan, Helladic, Cycladic, II
3000:Copper mined in Cyprus
2870: First known settlement at Troy
2600-2350: Early Minoan, Helladic, Cycladic, III
2100-1950: Middle Minoan, Helladic, Cycladic, I
2200-1200: Bronze Age in Cyprus
2100-1950: Middle Minoan, Helladic, Cycladic, II; first series of Cretan palaces
2100-1600: Chalcolithic Age in Thessaly
1950-1600: Middle Minoan, Helladic, Cycladic, III
l900:Destruction of first series of Cretan palaces
1600-1500: Late Minoan, Helladic (Mycenaean), Cycladic, I; second series of Cretan palaces
1600-1200: Bronze Age in Thessaly
1582: ? Foundation of Athens by Cecrops
I500-1400: Late Minoan, Helladic (Mycenaean), Cycladic, II
1450-1400: Destruction of second series of Cretan palaces
1433: P Deucalion and the Flood
1400-1200: Late Minoan, Helladic (Mycenaeari), Cycladic, III; palaces of Tiryns and Mycenae
1313: ? Foundation of Thebes by Cadmus
1300-1100: Age of Achaean domination in Greece
1283: ? Coming of Pelops into Elis
1261-1209: P Heracles
1250: Theseus at Athens; Oedipus at Thebes; Minos and Daedalus at Cnossus
1250-1183: "Sixth city" of Troy; age of the Homeric heroes
1225: ? Voyage of the Argonauts
1213: ? War of the Seven against Thebes
1200:? Accession of Agamemnon
1192-1183:? Siege of Troy
1176:? Accession of Orestes
1104: ? Dorian invasion of Greece
by Will Durant, Chapter 1, The Life of Greece, 1939
I. The Mediterranean
As we enter the fairest of all waters, leaving behind us the Atlantic and Gibraltar, we pass at once into the arena of Greek history. "Like frogs around a pond," said Plato, "we have settled down upon the shores of this sea."(1) Even on these distant coasts the Greeks founded precarious, barbarian-bound colonies many centuries before Christ: at Hemeroscopium and Ampurias in Spain, at Marseilles and Nice in France, and almost everywhere in southern Italy and Sicily. Greek colonists established prosperous towns at Cyrene in northern Africa, and at Naucratis in the delta of the Nile; their restless enterprise stirred the islands of the Aegean and the coasts of Asia Minor then as in our century; all along the Dardanelles and the Sea of Marmora and the Black Sea they built towns and cities for their far-venturing trade. Mainland Greece was but a small part of the ancient Greek world.
Why was it that the second group of historic civilizations took form on the Mediterranean, as the first had grown up along the rivers of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India, as the third would flourish on the Atlantic, and as the fourth may appear on the shores of the Pacific? Was it the better climate of the lands washed by the Mediterranean? There, then as now, (2) winter rains nourished the earth, and moderate frosts stimulated men; there, almost all the year round, one might live an open-air life under a warm but not enervating sun. And yet the surface of the Mediterranean coasts and islands is nowhere so rich as the alluvial valleys of the Ganges, the Indus, the Tigris, the Euphrates, or the Nile; the summer's drought may begin too soon or last too long; and everywhere a rocky basis lurks under the thin crust of the dusty earth. The temperate north and the tropic south are both more fertile than these historic lands where patient peasants, weary of coaxing the soil, more and more abandoned tillage to grow olives and the vine. And at any moment, along one or another of a hundred faults, earthquakes might split the ground beneath men's feet, and frighten them into a fitful piety. Climate did not draw civilization to Greece; probably it has never made a civilization anywhere.
What drew men into the Aegean was its islands. The islands were beautiful; even a worried mariner must have been moved by the changing colon of those shadowed hills that rose like temples out of the reflecting sea. Today there are few sights lovelier on the globe; and sailing the Aegean, On begins to understand why the men who peopled those coasts and isles camc to love them almost more than life, and, like Socrates, thought exile bitterei than death. But further, the manner was pleased to find that these island jewels were strewn in all directions, and at such short intervals that his ship. whether going between east and west or between north and south, would never Lie more than forty miles from land. And since the islands, like thc mainland ranges, were the mountaintops of a once continuous territory that had been gradually submerged by a pertinacious sea,(3) some welcome peak always greeted the outlook's eye, and served as a beacon to ships that had as yet no compass to guide them. Again, the movements of wind and water conspired to help the sailor reach his goal. A strong central current flowed from the Black Sea into the Aegean, and countercurrents flowed northward along the coasts; while the northeasterly etesian winds blew regularly in the summer to help back to their southern ports the ships that had gone to fetch grain, fish, and furs from the Euxine Sea.* Fog was rare in the Mediterranean, and the unfailing sunshine so varied the coastal winds that at almost any harbor, from spring to autumn, one might be carried out by a morning, and brought back by an evening, breeze.
In these propitious waters the acquisitive Phoenicians and the amphibious Greeks developed the art and science of navigation. Here they built ships for the most part larger or faster, and yet more easily handled, than any that had yet sailed the Mediterranean. Slowly, despite pirates and harassing uncertainties, the water routes from Europe and Africa into Asia -- through Cyprus, Sidon, and Tyre, or through the Aegean and the Black Sea -- became cheaper than the long land routes, arduous and perilous, that had carried s much of the commerce of Egypt and the Near East. Trade took new lines multiplied new populations, and created new wealth. Egypt, then Mesopotamia, then Persia withered; Phoenicia deposited an empire of cities along the African coast, in Sicily, and in Spain; and Greece blossomed like watered rose.
1.Plato, Works, Jowett tr.; Phaedo, 109
2.Semple, Ellen, Geography of the Mediterranean Region, N.Y., 1931, 99, 507
3.Evans, Sir Arthur, Palace of Minos, London, 1921f, I, 20
* The Greeks called the Mediterranean Ho Pontos, the Passage or Road, and euphemistically termed the Black Sea Ho Pontos Euxeinos -- the Sea Kindly to Guests -- perhaps because welcomed ships from the south with adverse currents and winds. The broad rivers that fed it, and the frequent mists that reduced its rate of evaporation, kept the Black Sea at a higher level than the Mediterranean, and caused a powerful current to rush through the narrow Bosporus (Or-ford) and the Hellespont into the Aegean. The Sea of Marmora was the Propontis, Before the Sea.
II. The Rediscovery of Crete
"There is a land called Crete, in the midst of the wine-dark sea, a fair, rich land, begirt with water; and therein are many men past counting, and ninety cities."(4) When Homer sang these lines, perhaps in the ninth century before our era,* Greece had almost forgotten, though the poet had not, that the island whose wealth seemed to him even then so great had once been wealthier still; that it had held sway with a powerful fleet over most of the Aegean and part of mainland Greece; and that it had developed, a thousand years before the siege of Troy, one of the most artistic civilizations in history. Probably it was this Aegean culture—as ancient to him as he is to us— that Homer recalled when he spoke of a Golden Age in which men had been more civilized, and life more refined, than in his own disordered time.
The rediscovery of that lost civilization is one of the major achievements of modern archeology. Here was an island twenty, times larger than the largest of the Cyclades, pleasant in climate, varied in the products of its fields and once richly wooded hills, and strategically placed, for trade or war, midway between Phoenicia and Italy, between Egypt and Greece. Aristotle had pointed out how excellent this situation was, and how "it had enabled Minos to acquire the empire of the Aegean."(5) But the story of Minos, accepted as fact by all classical writers, was rejected as legend by modern scholars; and until sixty years ago it was the custom to suppose, with Grote, that the history of civilization in the Aegean had begun with the Dorian invasion, or the Olympic games. Then in A.D. 1878 a Cretan merchant, appropriately named Minos Kalokairinos, unearthed some strange antiquities on a hillside south of Candia.+ The great Schliemann, who had but lately resurrected Mycenae and Troy, visited the site in 1886, announced his conviction that it covered the remains of the ancient Cnossus, and opened negotiations with the owner of the land so that excavations might begin at once. But the owner haggled and tried to cheat; and Schliemann, who had been a merchant before becoming an archeologist, withdrew in anger, losing a golden chance to add another civilization to history. A. few years later he died.(6)
In 1893 a British archeologist, Dr. Arthur Evans, bought in Athens a number of milkstones from Greek women who had worn them as amulets.
He was curious about the hieroglyphics engraved upon them, which no scholar could read. Tracing the stones to Crete, be secured passage thither, and wandered about the island picking up examples of what he believed to be ancient Cretan writing. In 1895 he purchased a part, and in 1900 the remainder, of the site that Schliemann and the French School at Athens had identified with Cnossus; and in nine weeks of that spring, digging feverishly with one hundred and fifty men, he exhumed the richest treasure of modern historical research -- the palace of Minos. Nothing yet known from antiquity could equal the vastness of this complicated structure, to all appearances identical with the almost endless Labyrinth so famous in old Greek tales of Minos, Daedalus, Theseus, Ariadne, and the Minotaur. In these am other ruins, as if to confirm Evans' intuition, thousands of seals and clay tablets were found, bearing characters like those that had set him upon the trail. The fires that had destroyed the palaces of Cnossus had preserve these tablets, whose undeciphered pictographs and scripts still conceal the early story of the Aegean.**
Students from many countries now hurried to Crete. While Evans was working at Cnossus, a group of resolute Italians -- Halbherr, Pernier, Savignoni, Paribeni -- unearthed at Hagia Triada (Holy Trinity) a sarcophagus painted with illuminating scenes from Cretan life, and uncovered at Phaestus a palace only less extensive than that of the Cnossus kings. Meanwhile two Americans; Seager and Mrs. Hawes, made discoveries at Vasiliki, Mochlos and Gournia; the British -- Hogarth, Bosanquet, Dawkins, Myres -- explored Palaikastro, Psychro, and Zakro; the Cretans themselves became interested and Xanthoudidis and Hatzidakis dug up ancient residences, grottoes, and tombs at Arkalochori, Tylissus, Koumasa, and Chamaizi. Half the nations of Europe united under the flag of science in the very generation in which their statesmen were preparing for war.
How was all this material to be classified—these palaces, paintings, statues seals, vases, metals, tablets, and reliefs? -- to what period of the past were the to be assigned? Precariously, but with increasing corroboration as research went on and knowledge grew, Evans dated the relics according to the dept of their strata, the gradation of styles in the pottery, and the agreement of Cretan finds, in form or motive, with like objects exhumed in lands or deposit whose chronology was approximately known. Digging down patiently beneath Cnossus, he found himself stopped, some forty-three feet below the surface, by the virgin rock. The lower half of the excavated area was occupied by remains characteristic of the Neolithic Age—primitive forms of handmade pottery with simple linear ornament, spindle whorls for spinning and weaving, fat-buttocked goddesses of painted steatite or clay, tools and weapons of polished stone, but nothing in copper or bronze.*** Classifying the pottery, and correlating the remains with those of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, Evans divided the post-neolithic and prehistoric culture of Crete into three ages -- Early, Middle, and Late Minoan -- and each of these into three periods.++
The first or lowest appearance of copper in the strata represents for us, through a kind of archeological shorthand, the slow rise of a new civilization out of the neolithic stage. By the end of the Early Minoan Age the Cretans learn to mix copper with tin, and the Bronze Age begins. In Middle Minoan I the earliest palaces occur: the princes of Cnossus, Phaestus, and Mallia build for themselves luxurious dwellings with countless rooms, spacious storehouses, specialized workshops, altars and temples, and great drainage conduits that startle the arrogant Occidental eye. Pottery takes on a many-colored brilliance, walls are enlivened with charming frescoes, and a form of linear script evolves out of the hieroglyphics of the preceding age. Then, at the close of Middle Minoan II, some strange catastrophe writes its cynical record into the strata; the palace of Cnossus is laid low as if by a convulsion of the earth, or perhaps by an attack from Phaestus, whose palace for a time is spared. But a little later a like destruction falls upon Phaestus, Mochlos, Gournia, Palaikastro, and many other cities in the island; the pottery is covered with ashes, the great jars in the storerooms are filled with debris. Middle Minoan III is a period of comparative stagnation, in which, perhaps, the southeastern Mediterranean world is long disordered by the Hyksos conquest of Egypt.(9)
In the late Minoan Age everything begins again. Humanity, patient under every cataclysm, renews its hope, takes courage, and builds once more. New and finer palaces rise at Cnossus, Phaestus, Tylissus, Hagia Triada, and Gournia. The lordly spread, the five-storied height, the luxurious decoration of these princely residences suggest such wealth as Greece would not know till Pericles. Theaters are erected in the palace courts, and gladiatorial spectacles of men and women in deadly combat with animals amuse gentlemen and ladies whose aristocratic faces, quietly alert, still live for us on the bright frescoes of the resurrected walls. Wants are multiplied, tastes are refined, literature flourishes; a thousand industries graciously permit the poor to prosper by supplying comforts and delicacies to the rich. The halls of the king are noisy with scribes taking inventories of goods distributed or received; with artists making statuary, paintings, pottery, or reliefs; with high officials conducting conferences, hearing judicial appeals, or dispatching papers stamped with their finely wrought seals; while wasp-waisted princes and jeweled duchesses, alluringly décolleté, crowd to a royal feast served on tables shining with bronze and gold. The sixteenth and fifteenth centuries before our era are the zenith of Aegean civilization, the classic and golden age of Crete.
4. Homer, Odyssey, tr. A. T. Murray, Loeb Classical Library,
London, 1927, XIX, 172-7.
5. Aristotle, Politics, 1271b.
6. Ludwig, Emil, Schliemann, Boston, 1931, 264-5; Glotz, G.,
Aegean Civilization, N. Y., 1925, 14; Cambridge Ancient History
(hereafter referred to as CAH), N. Y., 1924f, I, 138.
7. Can you believe a writer would bury a footnote in a note? This footnote is down below in the note ***, and I don't want to say how long it took me to find it, but Durant is in BIG trouble with me for doing it this way. Evans, I, 13; Hall, H. R., Civilization of Greece in the
Bronze Age, N. Y., 1927, 24; Glotz, 30-1, 67, 348; CAH, I, 589-90.
8. I have looked all over the place for this footnote. Apparently, it has been misplaced by the publisher. I still cannot find it and so I give up. Evans, I, 26.
9. Ibid., I, 27; Glotz, 38, 40; CAH, I, 597-8.
* All dates in this volume are B.C. unless otherwise stated or obviously A.D.
+ The modern capital, now officially renamed Heracleum.
** Evans labored brilliantly at Cnossus for many years, was knighted for his discoveries, and completed. In 1936, his monumental four-volume report, The Palace of Minos.
*** Since the earliest layer of copper implements at Cnossus may be dated, by correlation with the remains of neighboring cultures, about 3400 B.C., i.e., about 5300 years ago, and since the neolithic strata at Cnossus occupy some fifty-five per cent of the total depth from surface to rock, Evans calculated that the Neolithic Age in Crete had lasted at least 4500 years before the coming of metals -- approximately from 8ooo to 3400. Such calculations of time from depth of strata are, of course, highly problematical; the rate of deposition may change from age to age. Allowance has been made for a slower rate after the abandonment of Cnossus as an urban site in the fourteenth century B.C. (7) No paleolithic remains have been found in Crete.
++ For the approximate duration of these epochs cf. the Chronological Table
III. The Reconstruction of a Civilization
If now we try to restore this buried culture from the relics that remain— playing Cuvier to the scattered bones of Crete—let us remember that we are engaging upon a hazardous kind of historical television, in which imagination must supply the living continuity in the gaps of static and fragmentary material artificially moving but long since dead. Crete will remain inwardly unknown until its secretive tablets find their Champollion.
1. Men and Women
As we see them self-pictured in their art, the Cretans curiously resemble the double ax so prominent in their religious symbolism. Male and female alike have torsos narrowing pathologically to an ultramodern waist. Nearly all are short in stature, slight and supple of build, graceful in movement, athletically trim. Their skin is white at birth. The ladies, who court the shade, have fair complexions conventionally pale; but the men, pursuing wealth under the sun, are so tanned and ruddy that the Greeks will call them (as well as the Phoenicians) Phoinikes -- the Purple Ones, Redskins. Th head is rather long than broad, the features are sharp and refined, the ha and eyes are brilliantly dark, as in the Italians of today; these Cretans are apparently a branch of the "Mediterranean race."* The men as well as the women wear their hair partly in coils on the head or the neck, partly in ring-
lets on the brow, partly in tresses falling upon the shoulders or the breast. The women add ribbons for their curls, while the men, to keep their faces clean, provide themselves with a variety of razors, even in the grave? (10)
The dress is as strange as the figures. On their heads—most often bare— the men have turbans or tam-o'-shanters, the women magnificent hats of our early twentieth-century style. The feet are usually free of covering; but the upper classes may bind them in white leather shoes, which among women may be daintily embroidered at the edges, with colored beads on the straps. Ordinarily the male has no clothing above the waist; there he wears a short skirt or waistcloth, occasionally with a codpiece for modesty. The skirt may be slit at the side in workingmen; in dignitaries and ceremonies it reaches in both sexes to the ground. Occasionally the men wear drawers, and in winter a long outer garment of wool or skins. The clothing is tightly laced about the middle, for men as well as women are resolved to be -- or seem -- triangularly slim.(11) To rival the men at this point, the women of the later periods resort to stiff corsets, which gather their skirts snugly around their hips, and lift their bare breasts to the sun. It is a pretty custom among the Cretans that the female bosom should be uncovered, or revealed by a diaphanous chemise;(12) no one seems to take offense. The bodice is laced below the bust, opens in a careless circle, and then, in a gesture of charming reserve, may close in a Medic collar at the neck. The sleeves are short, sometimes puffed. The skirt, adorned with flounces and gay tints, widens out spaciously from the hips, stiffened presumably with metal ribs or horizontal hoops. There are in the arrangement and design of Cretan feminine dress a warm harmony of colors, a grace of line, a delicacy of taste, that suggest a rich and luxurious civilization, already old in arts and wiles. In these matters the Cretans had no influence upon the Greeks; only in modem capitals have their styles triumphed. Even staid archeologists have given the name La Parisienne to the portrait of a Cretan lady with pro-fulgent bosom, shapely neck, sensual mouth, impudent nose, and a persuasive, provocative charm; she sits saucily before us today as part of a frieze in which high personages gaze upon some spectacle that we shall never see.(13)
The men of Crete are evidently grateful for the grace and adventure that women give to. life, for they provide them with costly means of enhancing their loveliness. The remains are rich in jewelry of many kinds: hairpins of copper and gold, stickpins adorned with golden animals or flowers, or heads of crystal or quartz; rings or spirals of filigree gold mingling with the hair, fillets or diadems of precious metal binding it; rings and pendants hanging from the ear, plaques and beads and chains on the breast,
bands and bracelets on the arm, finger rings of silver, steatite, agate, carnelian, amethyst, or gold. The men keep some of the jewelry for themselves: if they are poor they carry necklaces and bracelets of common stones; if they can afford it they flaunt great rings engraved with scenes battle or the chase. The famous Cupbearer wears on the biceps of his le arm a broad band of precious metal, and on the wrist a bangle inlaid with agate. Everywhere in Cretan life man expresses his vainest and noble passion—the zeal to beautify.
This use of man to signify all humanity reveals the prejudice of a patriarchal age, and hardly suits the almost matriarchal life of ancient Crete. F the Minoan woman does not put up with any Oriental seclusion, any purdah or harem; there is no sign of her being limited to certain quarters of the house, or to the home. She works there, doubtless, as some women do even today; she weaves clothing and baskets, grinds grain, and bakes bread. B also she labors with men in the fields and the potters, she mingles free with them in the crowds, she takes the front seat at the theater and the games, she sweeps through Cretan society with the air of a great la bored with adoration; and when her nation creates its gods it is more oft in her likeness than in man's. Sober students, secretly and forgivably enamored of the mother image in their hearts, bow down before her relics and marvel at her domination.(14)
Hypothetically we picture Crete as at first an island divided by its mountains among petty jealous clans which live in independent villages under their own chiefs, and fight, after the manner of men, innumerable territorial wars. Then a resolute leader appears who unites several clans into kingdom, and builds his fortress palace at Cnossus, Phaestus, Tylissus, some other town. The wars become less frequent, more widespread, a more efficient in killing; at last the cities fight for the entire island, a Cnossus wins. The victor organizes a navy, dominates the Aegean, suppresses piracy, exacts tribute, builds palaces, and patronizes the arts, like early Pericles.19 It is as difficult to begin a civilization without robbery as it is to maintain it without slaves.**
The power of the king, as echoed in the ruins, is based upon force, re-
ligion, and law. To make obedience easier he suborns the gods to his use: his priests explain to the people that he is descended from Velchanos, and has received from this deity the laws that he decrees; and every' nine years, if he is competent or generous, they reanoint him with the divine authority. To symbolize his power the monarch, anticipating Rome and France, adopts the (double) ax and the fleur-de-lis. To administer the state he employs (as the litter of tablets suggests) a staff of ministers, bureaucrats, and scribes. Lie taxes in kind, and stores in giant jars his revenues of grain, oil, and wine; and out of this treasury, in kind, he pays his men. From his throne in the palace, or his judgment seat in the royal villa, he settles in person such litigation as has run the gauntlet of his appointed courts; and so great is his reputation as a magistrate that when he dies he becomes in Hades, Homer assures us, the inescapable judge of the dead. (21) We call him Minos, but we do not know his name; probably the word is a title, like Pharaoh or Caesar, and covers a multitude of kings.
At its height this civilization is surprisingly urban. The Iliad speaks of Crete's "ninety cities," and the Greeks who conquer them are astonished at their teeming populations; even today the student stands in awe before the ruined mazes of paved and guttered streets, intersecting lanes, and countless shops or houses crowding about some center of trade or government in all the huddled gregariousness of timid and talkative men. It is not only Cnossus that is great, with palaces so vast that imagination perhaps exaggerates the town that must have been the chief source and beneficiary of their wealth. Across the island, on the southern shore, is Phaestus, from whose harbor, Homer tells us, "the dark—prowed ships are borne to Egypt by the force of the wind and the wave."(22) The southbound trade of Minoan Crete pours out here, swelled by goods from northern merchants who ship their cargoes overland to avoid a long detour by perilous seas. Phaestus becomes a Cretan Piraeus, in love with commerce rather than with art. And yet the palace of its prince is a majestic edifice, reached by a flight of steps forty-five feet wide; its halls and courts compare with those at Cnossus; its central court is a paved quadrangle of ten thousand square feet; its megaron, or reception room, is three thousand square feet in area, larger even than the great Hall of the Double Ax in the northern capital.
Two miles northwest is Hagia Triada, in whose "royal villa" (as archeological imagination calls it) the Prince of Phaestus seeks refuge from the summer heat. The eastern end of the island, in Minoan days, is rich in small towns: ports like Zakro or Mochlos, villages like Praesus or Pseira, residential quarters like Palaikastro, manufacturing centers like Gournia. The
main street in Palaikastro is well paved, well drained, and lined with spacious homes; one of these has twenty-three rooms on the surviving floor. Gournia boasts of avenues paved with gypsum, of homes built with mortarless stone, of a blacksmith's shop with extant forge, of a carpenter shop wit a kit of tools, of small factories noisy with metalworking, shoemaking, vase making, oil refining, or textile industry; the modern workmen who excavate it, and gather up its tripods, jars, pottery, ovens, lamps, knives, mortar polishers, hooks, pins, daggers, and swords, marvel at its varied products and equipment, and call it he mechanike polis -- "the town of machinery."(23) By our standards the minor streets are narrow, mere alleys in the style of semitropical Orient that fears the sun; and the rectangular houses, of wood or brick or stone, are for the most part confined to a single floor. Yet some Middle Minoan plaques exhumed at Cnossus show us homes of two, three, even five stories, with a cubicle attic or turret here and there; on the upper floors, in these pictured houses, are windows with red panes of unknown material. Double doors, swinging on posts apparently of cypress wood open from the ground-floor rooms upon a shaded court. Stairways lead to the upper floors and the roof, where the Cretan sleeps when the nights are very warm. If he spends the evening indoors he lights his room by burning oil, according to his income, in lamps of clay, steatite, gypsum, marble, or bronze. (24)
We know a trifle or two about the games he plays. At home he likes form of chess, for he has bequeathed to us, in the ruins of the Cnossus palace a magnificent gaming board with frame of ivory, squares of silver and gob and a border of seventy-two daisies in precious metal and stone. In the fields he takes with zest and audacity to the chase, guided by half-wild cats and slender thoroughbred hounds. In the towns he patronizes pugilists, and on his vases and reliefs he represents for us a variety of contests, in which lightweights spar with bare hands and kicking feet, middleweights with plume helmets batter each other manfully, and heavyweights, coddled wit helmets, cheekpieces, and long padded gloves, fight till one falls exhausted to the ground and the other stands above him in the conscious grandeur of victory. (25)
But the Cretan's greatest thrill comes when he wins his way into if crowd that fills the amphitheater on a holiday to see men and women face death against huge charging bulls. Time and again he pictures the stages of this lusty sport: the daring hunter capturing the bull by jumping astride its neck as it laps up water from a pool; the professional tamer twisting if animal's head until it learns some measure of tolerance for the acrobat annoying tricks; the skilled performer, slim and agile, meeting the bull in
the arena, grasping its horns, leaping into the air, somersaulting over its back, and landing feet first on the ground in the arms of a female companion who lends her grace to the scene. (26)Even in Minoan Crete this is already an an-dent art; a clay cylinder from Cappadocia, ascribed to 2400 B.C., shows a bull-grappling sport as vigorous and dangerous as in these frescoes. (27) For a moment our oversimplifying intellects catch a glimpse of the contradictory complexity of man as we perceive that this game of blood-lust and courage, still popular today, is as old as civilization.
The Cretan may be brutal, but he is certainly religious, with a thoroughly human mixture of fetishism and superstition, idealism and reverence. He worships mountains, caves, stones, the number 3, trees and pillars, sun and moon, goats and snakes, doves and bulls; hardly anything escapes his theology. He conceives the air as filled with spirits genial or devilish, and hands down to Greece a sylvan-ethereal population of dryads, sileni, and nymphs. He does not directly adore the phallic emblem, but he venerates with awe the generative vitality of the bull and the snake.(28) Since his death rate is high he pays devout homage to fertility, and when he rises to the notion of a human divinity he pie-. pictures a mother goddess with generous mamma and sublime flanks, with reptiles creeping up around her arms and breasts, coiled in her hair, or rearing themselves proudly from her head. He sees in her the basic fact of nature— that man's greatest enemy, death, is overcome by woman's mysterious power, reproduction; and he identifies this power with deity. The mother goddess represents for him the source of all life, in plants and animals as well as in men; if he surrounds her image with fauna and flora it is because these exist through her creative fertility, and therefore serve as her symbols and her emanations. Occasionally she appears holding in her arms her divine child Velchanos, whom she has borne in a mountain cave.(29)Contemplating this ancient image, we see through it Isis and Horns, Ishtar and Tammuz, Cybele and Attis, Aphrodite and Adonis, and feel the unity of prehistoric culture, and the continuity of religious ideas and symbols, in the Mediterranean world.
The Cretan Zeus, as the Greeks call Velchanos, is subordinate to his mother in the affections of the Cretans. But he grows in importance. He becomes the personification of the fertilizing rain, of the moisture that in this religion, as in the philosophy of Thales, underlies all things. He dies, and his sepulcher is shown from generation to generation on Mt. Iouktas, where the majestic profile of his face can still be seen by the imaginative traveler; he rises from the grave as a symbol of reviving vegetation, and the Kouretes priests celebrate with dances and clashing shields his glorious resurrection.(30) Sometimes, as a god of fertility, he is conceived as incarnate in the sacred bull; it is as a bull that he
mates in Cretan myth with Minos' wife Pasiphaë, and begets by her the monstrous Minos-bull, or Minotaur.
To appease these deities the Cretan uses a lavish rite of prayer and sacrifice, symbol and ceremony, administered usually by women priests, sometimes by officials of the state. To ward off demons he burns incense; to arouse a negligent divinity he sounds the conch, plays the flute or the lyre, and sings, in chorus, hymns of adoration. To promote the growth of orchards and the fields, he waters trees and plants in solemn ritual; or his priestesses in nude frenzy shake down the ripe burden of the trees; or his women in festal procession carry fruits and flowers as hints and tribute to the goddess, who is borne in state in a palanquin. He has apparently no temple, but raises altars in the palace court, in sacred groves or grottoes, and on mountaintops. He adorns these sanctuaries with tables of libation and sacrifice, a medley of idols, and "horns of consecration" perhaps representative of the sacred bull. He is profuse with holy symbols, which he seems to worship along with the gods whom they signify; first the shield, presumably as the emblem of his goddess in her warrior form; then the cross—in both its Greek and its Roman shapes, and as the swastika—cut upon the forehead of a bull or the thigh of a goddess, or carved upon seals, or raised in marble in the palace of the king; above all, the double ax, as an instrument of sacrifice magically enriched with the virtue of the blood that it sheds, or as a holy weapon unerringly guided by the god, or even as a sign of Zeus the Thundered cleaving the sky with his bolts.(31)
Finally he offers a modest care and worship to his dead. He buries them in clay coffins or massive jars, for if they are unburied they may return. To keep them content below the ground he deposits with them modest portions of food, articles for their toilette, and clay figurines of women to tend or console them through all eternity. Sometimes, with the sly economy of an incipient skeptic, he substitutes clay animals in the grave in place of actual food. If he buries a king or a noble or a rich trader he surrenders to the corpse a part of the precious plate or jewelry that it once possessed; with touching sympathy he buries a set of chess with a good player, a clay orchestra with a musician, a boat with one who loved the sea. Periodically he returns to the grave to offer a sustaining sacrifice of food to the dead. He hopes that in some secret Elysium, or Islands of the Blest, the just god Rhadamanthus, son of Zeus Velchanos, will receive the purified soul, and give it the happiness and the peace that slip so elusively through the fingers in this earthly quest.
The most troublesome aspect of the Cretan is his language. When, after the Dorian invasion, he uses the Greek alphabet, it is for a speech completely alien
to what we know as Greek, and more akin in sound to the Egyptian, Cypriote, Hittite, and Anatolian dialects of the Near East. In the earliest age he confines himself to hieroglyphics; about 1800 B.C. he begins to shorten these into a linear script of some ninety syllabic signs; two centuries later he contrives another script, whose characters often resemble those of the Phoenician alphabet; perhaps it is from him, as well as from the Egyptians and the Semites, that the Phoenicians gather together those letters they will scatter throughout the Mediterranean to become the unassuming, omnipresent instrument of Western civilization. Even the common Cretan composes, and like some privy councilor, leaves on the walls of Hagia Triada the passing inspirations of his muse. At Phaestus we find a kind of prehistoric printing: the hieroglyphs of a great disk unearthed there from Middle Minoan III strata are impressed upon the clay by stamps, one for each pictograph; but here, to add to our befuddlement, the characters are apparently not Cretan but foreign; perhaps the disk is an importation from the East.(32)
The clay tablets upon which the Cretan writes may some day reveal to us his accomplishments in science. He has some astronomy, for he is famed as a navigator, and tradition hands down to Dorian Crete the ancient Minoan calendar. The Egyptians acknowledge their indebtedness to him for certain medical prescriptions, and the Greeks borrow from him, as the words suggest, such aromatic and medicinal herbs as mint (mintha), wormwood (apsinthon), and an ideal drug (daukos) reputed to cure obesity without disturbing gluttony.(33) But we must not mistake our guessing for history.
Though the Cretan's literature is a sealed book to us, we may at least contemplate the ruins of his theaters. At Phaestus, about 2000, he builds ten tiers of stone seats, running some eighty feet along a wall overlooking a flagged court; at Cnossus he raises, again in stone, eighteen tiers thirty-three feet long, and, at right angles to them, six tiers from eighteen to fifty feet in length. These court theaters, seating four or five hundred persons, are the most ancient playhouses known to us—older by fifteen hundred years than the Theater of Dionysis. We do not know what took place on those stages; frescoes picture audiences viewing a spectacle, but we cannot tell what it is that they see. Very likely it is some combination of music and dance. A painting from Cnossus preserves a group of aristocratic ladies, surrounded by their gallants, watching a dance by gaily petticoated girls in an olive grove; another represents a Dancing Woman with flying tresses and extended arms; others show us rustic folk dances, or the wild dance of priests, priestesses, and worshipers before an idol or a sacred tree. Homer describes the "dancing-floor which once, in broad Cnossus, Daedalus made for Ariadne of the lovely hair; there youths and seductive maidens join hands in the dance.... and a divine bard sets the time to the sound of the lyre."(34)The seven-stringed lyre, ascribed by the Greeks to the inventiveness of Ter-
pander, is represented on a sarcophagus at Hagia Triada a thousand years before Terpander's birth. There, too, is the double flute, with two pipes, eight holes, and fourteen notes, precisely as in classical Greece. Carved on a gem, a woman blows a trumpet' made from an enormous conch, and on a vase we see the sistrum beating time for the dancers' feet.
The same youthful freshness and lighthearted grace that animate his dances and his games enliven the Cretan's work in the arts. He has not left us, aside from his architecture, any accomplishments of massive grandeur or exalted style; like the Japanese of samurai days he delights rather in the refinement of the lesser and more intimate arts, the adornment of objects daily used, the patient perfecting of little things. As in every aristocratic civilization, he accepts conventions in the form and subject of his work, avoids extravagant novelties, and learns to be free even within the limitations of reserve and taste. He excels in pottery, gem cutting, bezel carving, and relieves, for here his microscopic skill finds every stimulus and opportunity. He is at home in the working of silver and gold, sets all the precious stones, and makes a rich diversity of jewels. Upon the seals that he cuts to serve as official signatures, commercial labels, or business forms, he engraves in delicate detail so much of the life and scenery of Crete that from them alone we might picture his civilization. He hammers bronze into basins, ewers, daggers, and swords ornamented with floral and animal designs, and inlaid with gold and silver, ivory and rare stones. At Journal he has left us, despite the thieves of thirty centuries, a silver cup of finished artistry; and here and there he has molded for us rhytons, or drinking horns, rising out of human or animal heads that to this day seem to hold the breath of life.
As a potter he tries every form, and reaches distinction in nearly all of them. He makes vases, dishes, cups, chalices, lamps, jars, animals, and gods. At first, in Early Minoan, he is content to shape the vessel with his hands along lines bequeathed to him from the Neolithic Age, to paint it with a glaze of brown or black, and to trust the fire to mottle the color into haphazard tints. In Middle Minoan he has learned the use of the wheel, and rises to the height of his skill. He makes a glaze rivaling the consistency and delicacy of porcelain; he scatters recklessly black and brown, white and red, orange and yellow, crimson and vermilion, and mingles them happily into novel shades; he fines down the clay with such confident thoroughness that in his most perfect product—the graceful and brightly colored "eggshell" wares found in the cave of Kamares on Mt. Ida's slopes—he has dared to thin the walls of the vessel to a millimeter's thickness, and to pour out upon it all the motifs of his rich imagination. From 2100 to 1950 is the apogee of the Cretan potter; he signs his name to his work, and his trade-mark is sought throughout the Mediterranean. In the Late Minoan Age he brings to full development the technique of faience, and forms the
brilliant paste into decorative plaques, vases of turquoise blue, polychrome goddesses, and marine reliefs so realistic that Evans mistook an enamel crab for a fossil.(35) Now the artist falls in love with nature, and delights to represent on his vessels the liveliest animals, the gaudiest fish, the most delicate flowers, and the most graceful plants. It is in Late Minoan I that he creates his surviving masterpieces, the Boxers' Vase and the Harvesters' Vase: in the one he presents us crudely with every aspect and attitude of the pugilistic game, adding a zone of scenes from the bull-leaper's life; in the other he follows with fond fidelity a procession probably of peasants marching and singing in some harvest festival. Then the great tradition of Cretan pottery grows weak with age, and the art declines; reserve and taste are forgotten, decoration overruns the vase in bizarre irregularity and excess, the courage for slow conception and patient execution breaks down, and a lazy carelessness called freedom replaces the finesse and finish of the Kamares age. It is a forgivable decay, the unavoidable death of an old and exhausted art, which will lie in refreshing sleep for a thousand years, and be reborn in the perfection of the Attic vase.
Sculpture is a minor art in Crete, and except in bas-relief and the story of Daedalus, seldom graduates from the statuette. Many of these little figures are stereotyped crudities seemingly produced by rote; one is a delightful snapshot in ivory of an athlete plunging through the air; another is a handsome head that has lost its body on the way down the centuries. The best of them excels in anatomical precision and in vividness of action anything that we know from Greece before Myron's time. The strangest is the Snake Goddess of the Boston Museum -- sturdy figure of ivory and gold, half mammae and half snakes; here at last the Cretan artist treats the human form with some amplitude and success. But when he essays a larger scale he falls back for the most part upon animals, and confines himself to painted reliefs, as in the bull's head in the Heracleum Museum; in this startling relic the fixed wild eyes, the snorting nostrils, the gasping mouth, and the trembling tongue achieve a power that Greece itself will never surpass.
Nothing else in ancient Crete is quite so attractive as its painting. The sculpture is negligible, the pottery is fragmentary, the architecture is in ruins; but this frailest of all the arts, easy victim of indifferent time, has left us legible and admirable masterpieces from an age so old that it slipped quite out of the memory of that classic Greece of whose painting, by contrast so recent, not one original remains. In Crete the earthquakes or the wars that overturned the palaces preserved here and there a frescoed wall; and wandering by them we molt forty centuries and meet the men who decorated the rooms of the Minoan kings. As far back as 2500 they make wall coatings of pure lime, and conceive the idea of painting in fresco upon the wet surface, wielding the brush so rapidly that the colors sink into the stucco before the surface dries. Into the
dark halls of the palaces they bring the bright beauty of the open fields; they make plaster sprout lilies, tulips, narcissi, and sweet marjoram; no one viewing these scenes could ever again suppose that nature was discovered by Rousseau. In the museum at Heracleum the Saffron Picker is as eager. to pluck the crocus as when his creator painted him in Middle Minoan days; his waist is absurdly thin, his body seems much too long for his legs; and yet his head is perfect, the colors are soft and warm, the flowers still fresh after four thousand years. At Hagia Triada the painter brightens a sarcophagus with spiral scrolls and queer, almost Nubian figures engrossed in some religious ritual; better yet, he adorns a wall with waving foliage, and then places in the midst of it, darkly but vividly, a stout, tense cat preparing to spring unseen upon a proud bird preening its plumage in the sun. In Late Minoan the Cretan painter is at the top of his stride; every wall tempts him, every plutocrat calls him; he decorates not merely the royal residences but the homes of nobles and burghers with all the lavishness of Pompeii. Soon, however, success and a surfeit of commissions spoil him; he is too anxious to be finished to quite touch perfection; he scatters quantity about him, repeats his flowers monotonously, paints his men impossibly, contents himself with sketching outlines, and falls into the lassitude of an art that knows that it has passed its zenith and must die. But never before, except perhaps in Egypt, has painting looked so freshly at the face of nature.
All the arts come together to build the Cretan palaces. Political power, commercial mastery, wealth and luxury, accumulated refinement and taste commandeer the architect, the builder, the artisan, the sculptor, the potter, the metalworker, the woodworker, and the painter to fuse their skills in producing an assemblage of royal chambers, administrative offices, court theaters, and arenas, to serve as the center and summit of Cretan life. They build in the twenty-first century, and the twentieth sees their work destroyed; they build again in the seventeenth, not only the palace of Minos but many other splendid edifices at Cnossus, and in half a hundred other cities in the thriving island. It is one of the great ages in architectural history.
The creators of the Cnossus palace are limited in both materials and men. Crete is poor in metal and quite devoid of marble; therefore they build with limestone and gypsum, and use wood for entablatures, roofs, and all columns above the basement floor. They cut the stone blocks so sharply that they can put them together without mortar. Around a central court of twenty thousand square feet they raise to three or four stories, with spacious stairways of stone, a rambling maze of rooms—guardhouses, workshops, wine press, storerooms, administrative offices, servants' quarters, anterooms, reception rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, chapel, dungeon, throne room, and a
"Hall of the Double Ax"; adding near by the conveniences of a theater, a royal villa, and a cemetery. On the lowest floor they plant massive square pillars of stone; on the upper floors they use circular columns of cypress, tapering strangely downward, to support the ceilings upon smooth round capitals, or to form shady porticoes at the side. Safe in the interior against a gracefully decorated wall they set a stone seat, simply but skillfully carved, which eager diggers will call the throne of Minos, and on which every tourist will modestly seat himself and be for a moment some inches a king. This sprawling palace in all likelihood is the famous Labyrinth, or sanctuary of the Double Ax (labrys), attributed by the ancients to Daedalus, and destined to give its name in aftertime to any maze—of rooms, or words, or ears.***(36)
As if to please the modern spirit, more interested in plumbing than in poetry, the builders of Cnossus install in the palace a system of drainage superior to anything else of its kind in antiquity. They collect in stone conduits the water that flows down from the hills or falls from the sky, direct it through shafts to the bathrooms+ and latrines, and lead off the waste in terra-cotta pipes of the latest style—each section six inches in diameter and thirty inches long, equipped with a trap to catch the sediment, tapering at one end to fit into the next section, and bound to this firmly with a necking of cement. (38) Possibly they include an apparatus for supplying running hot water to the household of the king.++(39)
To the complex interiors the artists of Cnossus add the most delicate decorations. Some of the rooms they adorn with vases and statuettes, some with paintings or reliefs, some with huge stone amphorae or massive urns, some with objects in ivory, faience or bronze. Around one wall they run a limestone frieze with pretty triglyphs and half rosettes; around another a panel of spirals and frets on a surface painted to simulate marble; around another they carve in high relief and living detail the contests of man and bull. Through the halls and chambers the Minoan painter spreads all the glories of his cheerful art: here, caught chattering in a drawing room, are Ladies in Blue, with classic features, shapely arms, and cozy breasts; here
are fields of lotus, or lilies, or olive spray; here are Ladies at the Opera, and dolphins swimming motionlessly in the sea. Here, above all, is the lordly Cupbearer, erect and strong, carrying some precious ointment in a slim blue vase; his face is chiseled by breeding as well as by art; his hair descends in a thick braid upon his brown shoulders; his ears, his neck, his arm, and his waist sparkle with jewelry, and his costly robe is embroidered with a graceful quatrefoil design; obviously he is no slave, but some aristocratic youth proudly privileged to serve the king. Only a civilization long familiar with order and wealth, leisure and taste, could demand or create such luxury and such ornament.
10. Homer, Odyssey, tr. A. T. Murray, Loeb Classical Library,
London, 1927, XIX, 172-7.
11. Hall, 27; Glotz, 68-73.
12. Köhler, Carl, History of Costume, N. Y., 1928, frontispiece;
Evans, III, 49.
13. CAH, I, 596; Glotz, 65-6, 75-8, 311, and fig. 6.
14. Cf. Evans, III, 227.
15. Missing from the book. Proves my point earlier that this publisher loses footnotes.
16. Missing from the book.
17. Missing from the book.
18. Missing from the book.
19. Glotz, 147-8; CAH, II, 437.
20. Another footnote in a note below. ** Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Everyman Library,
I, 1.4; cf. Herodotus, History, tr. Rawlinson, London, 1862,
and Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, V, 78.
21. Strabo, Geography, Loeb Library, x,4.8; Glotz, 149; Evans,
I, 2, IV,
p. xxii; CAH, II, 442; Homer, Odyssey, xi, 568-70.
22. Ibid., iii, 296.
23. Glotz, 139-42, 173—4; Baikie, 120, 129—31.
24. Evans, I, facing 305, III, 13f; CAH, I, 591, 6o5, II, 432; Glotz,
106-9, 163-4; Baikie, 97.
25. Evans, I, facing 472; Glotz. 169-170, 293.
26. Evans, III, 213; Hall, 15; Glotz, 294-6, 312—3.
27. Evans, I, 15.
28. Ibid., 151; Glotz, 229, 237-41, Farnell, L. R., Greece and
Babylon,Edinburgh, 1911, 228; Ni1sson, M.P., History of Greek
Religion, Oxford 1925, 13, questions any worship of the bull
29. Glotz, 146, 244-7; Evans, IV, 468-9.
30. Ibid.; Glotz, 252-4.
31. Ibid., 231-8, 265-70, 273-4; Fainell, 125; Reinach, S., Orpheus,
N. L, Nilsson, 13, 16; CAH, II, 444-5.
32. Mason, W. A., History of the Art of Writing, N. Y., 1920, 315-23,
331; Evans, I, 15, 124f, IV, xx, 959; Glotz, 150, 196,371-7,
381-7; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 14th ed., I, 213; CAH, II, 437;
Whibley, L., Companion to Greek Studies, Cambridge U. P.,
33. Glotz, 165, 388; Baikie, 238.
34. Homer, Iliad, xviii, 590.
35. Glotz, 174, 321.
36. Evans, I, 342-4; Evans in Baikie, 71; Reinach, 82; Pliny,
Natural History, London, 1855, xxxvi, 19; Glotz, 108.
37. Unbelievable! Another footnote in a note below. *** Hall, 102.
38. Evans, I, 142, III, 252-3; Burrows, R.M., in Baikie, 99, and
39. Evans, III, 116-22.
40. And another one in a note below. ++ In Baikie, 129.
* Current anthropology divides post-neolithic Europeans into three types, respectively pre-ponderating in north, central, and southern Europe: (1) "Nordic" man—long-headed, tall and fair of skin and eyes and hair; (2) "Alpine" man—broad-headed, of medium height, with eyes tending to gray and hair to brown; and (3) "Mediterranean" man—long-headed, short and dark. No people is exclusively any of these "races."
** The usually cautious and accurate Thucydides writes: "The first person known to us tradition as having established a navy is Minos. He made himself master of what is now called the Hellenic Sea, and ruled over the Cyclades. . . . He did his best to put down piracy in those waters, a necessary step to secure the revenues for his own use."(20)
*** The ascription of rooms is, of course, highly conjectural. It should be added that nearly
all the exhumed decorations of the palace have been removed to the museum at Heracleum or
elsewhere, while much of what remains in site has been tastelessly restored.
+ It is no longer agreed that the square depressions found in the floors of some rooms were
baths; they have no outlets, and are made of gypsum, which water would gradually dissolve.(37)
++ Mosso found similar drainage pipes in the villa at Hagia Triada. "One day, after a heavy downpour of rain, I was interested to find that all the drains acted perfectly, and I saw the water flow from the sewers, through which a man could walk upright. I doubt if there is any other instance of a drainage system acting after four thousand years."(40)
IV. The Fall of Cnossus
When in retrospect we seek the origin of this brilliant culture, we find ourselves vacillating between Asia and Egypt. On the one hand, the Cretans seem kin in language, race, and religion to the Indo-European peoples of Asia Minor; there, too, clay tablets were used for writing, and the shekel was the standard of measurement; there, in Caria, was the cult of Zeus Labrandeus, i.e., Zeus of the Double Ax (labrys); there men worshiped the pillar, the bull, and the dove; there, in Phrygia, was the great Cybele, so much like the mother goddess of Crete that the Greeks called the latter Rhea Cybele, and considered the two divinities one. (40a) And yet the signs of Egyptian influence in Crete abound in every age. The two cultures are at first so much alike that some scholars presume a wave of Egyptian emigration to Crete in the troubled days of Menes. (41) The stone vases of Mochlos and the copper weapons of Early Minoan I are strikingly like those found in Proto-Dynastic tombs; the double ax appears as an amulet in Egypt, and even a "Priest of the Double Ax"; the weights and measures, though Asiatic in value, are Egyptian in form; the methods used in the glyptic arts, in faience, and in painting are so similar in the two lands that Spengler reduced Cretan civilization to a mere branch of the Egyptian.(42)
We shall not follow him, for it will not do, in our search for the continuity of civilization, to surrender the individuality of the parts. The Cretan quality is distinct; no other people in antiquity has quite this flavor of minute refinement, this concentrated elegance in life and art. Let us believe that in its racial origins the Cretan culture was Asiatic, in many of its arts Egyptian; in essence and total it remained unique. Perhaps it belonged to a complex of civilization common
to all the Eastern Mediterranean, in which each nation inherited kindred arts, beliefs, and ways from a widespread neolithic culture parent to them all. From that common civilization Crete borrowed in her youth, to it she contributed in her maturity. Her rule forged an order in the isles, and her merchants found entry at every port. Then her wares and her arts pervaded the Cyclades, overran Cyprus, reached to Caria and Palestine, (43) moved north through Asia Minor and its islands to Troy, reached west through Italy and Sicily to Spain,(44) penetrated the mainland of Greece even to Thessaly, and passed through Mycenae and Tiryns into the heritage of Greece. In the history of civilization Crete was the first link in the European chain.
We do not know which of the many roads to decay Crete chose; perhaps she took them all. Her once famous forests of cypress and cedar vanished; today two thirds of the island are a stony waste, incapable of holding the winter rains.(45) Perhaps there too, as in most declining cultures, population control went too far, and reproduction was left to the failures. Perhaps, as wealth and luxury increased, the pursuit of physical pleasure sapped the vitality of the race, and weakened its will to live or to defend itself; a nation is born stoic and dies epicurean. Possibly the collapse of Egypt after the death of Ikhnaton disrupted Creto-Egyptian trade, and diminished the riches of the Minoan kings. Crete had no great internal resources; her prosperity required commerce, and markets for her industries; like modern England she had become dangerously dependent upon control of the seas. Perhaps internal wars decimated the island's manhood, and left it disunited against foreign attack. Perhaps an earthquake shook the palaces into ruins, or some angry revolution avenged in a year of terror the accumulated oppressions of centuries.
About 1450 the palace of Phaestus was again destroyed, that of Hagia Triada was burned down, the homes of the rich burghers of Tylissus disappeared. During the next fifty years Cnossus seems to have enjoyed the zenith of her fortune, and a supremacy unquestioned throughout the Aegean. Then, about 1400, the palace of Cnossus itself went up in flames. Everywhere in the ruins Evans found signs of uncontrollable fire – charred beams and pillars, blackened walls, and clay tablets hardened against time's tooth by the conflagration's heat. So thorough was the destruction, and so complete the removal of metal even from rooms covered and protected by debris, that many students suspect invasion and conquest rather than earthquake. *(46) In any case, the catastrophe was sudden; the workshops of artists
and artisans give every indication of having been in full activity when death arrived. About the same time Gournia, Pseira, Zakro, and Palaikastro were leveled to the ground.
We must not suppose that Cretan civilization vanished overnight. Palaces were built again, but more modestly, and for a generation or two the products of Crete continued to dominate Aegean art. About the middle of the thirteenth century we come at last upon a specific Cretan personality—that King Minos of whom Greek tradition told so many frightening tales. His brides were annoyed at the abundance of serpents and scorpions in his seed; but by some secret device his wife Pasiphaë eluded these,(47) and safely bore him many children, among them Phaedra (wife of Theseus and lover of Hippolytus) and the fair-haired Ariadne. Minos having offended Poseidon, the god afflicted Pasiphaë with a mad passion for a divine bull. Daedalus pitied her, and through his contrivance she conceived the terrible Minotaur. Minos imprisoned the animal in the Labyrinth which Daedalus had built at his command, but appeased it periodically with human sacrifice.(48)
Pleasanter even in its tragedy is the legend of Daedalus, for it opens one of the proudest epics of human history. Greek story represented him as an Athenian Leonardo who, envious of his nephew's skill, slew him in a moment of temperament, and was banished forever from Greece. He found refuge at Minos' court, astonished him with mechanical inventions and novelties, and became chief artist and engineer to the king. He was a great sculptor, and fable used his name to personify the graduation of statuary from stiff, dead figures to vivid portraits of possible men; the creatures made by him, we are informed, were so lifelike that they stood up and walked away unless they were chained to their pedestals.(49) But Minos was peeved when he learned of Daedalus' connivance with Pasiphaë's amours, and confined him and his son Icarus in the maze of the Labyrinth. Daedalus fashioned wings for himself and learns, and by their aid they leaped across the walls and soared over the Mediterranean. Disdaining his father's counsel, proud Icarus flew too closely to the sun; the hot rays melted the wax on his wings, and he was lost in the sea, pointing a moral and adorning a tale. Daedalus, empty-hearted, flew on to Sicily, and stirred that island to civilization by bringing to it the industrial and artistic culture of Crete.**(50)
More tragic still is the story of Theseus and Ariadne. Minos, victorious in a war against youthful Athens, exacted from that city, every ninth year, a tribute of seven girls and seven young men, to be devoured by the Minotaur. On the coming of the third occasion for this national humiliation the handsome Theseus -- his father King Aegeus reluctantly consenting -- had himself chosen as one of the seven youths, for he was resolved to slay the Minotaur and end the recurrent sacrifice. Ariadne pitied the princely Athenian, loved him, gave him a magic sword, and taught him the simple trick of unraveling thread from his arm as he penetrated the Labyrinth. Theseus killed the Minotaur, followed the thread back to Ariadne, and took her with him on his flight from Crete. On the isle of Naxos he married her as he had promised, but while she slept he and his companions sailed treacherously away.***(52)
With Ariadne and Minos, Crete disappears from history till the coming of Lycurgus to the island, presumably in the seventh century. There are indications that the Achaeans reached it in their long raid of Greece in the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries, and Dorian conquerors settled there towards the end of the second millennium before Christ. Here, said many Cretans and some Greeks,(53) Lycurgus, and in less degree Solon, had found the model for their laws. In Crete as in Sparta, after the island had come under Dorian sway, the ruling class led a life of at least outward simplicity and restraint; the boys were brought up in the army, and the adult males ate together in public mess halls; the state was ruled by a senate of elders, and was administered by ten kosmoi or orderers, corresponding to the ephors of Sparta and the archons of Athens. (54) It is difficult to say whether Crete taught Sparta, or Sparta Crete; perhaps both states were the parallel results of similar conditions—the precarious life of an alien military aristocracy amid a native and hostile population of serfs. The comparatively enlightened law code of Gortyna, discovered on the walls of that Cretan town in A.D. 1884, belongs apparently to the early fifth century; in an earlier form it may have influenced the legislators of Greece. In the sixth century Thaletas of Crete taught choral music at Sparta, and the Cretan sculptors Dipoenus and Scyllis instructed the artists of Argos and Sicyon. By a hundred channels the old civilization emptied itself out into the new.
40a. Evans, Sir Arthur, "The Minoan and Mycenaean Element in
Hellenic Life,"Journal of Hellenic Studies, XXXII (1912), 277f;
41. Evans, Palace of Minos, I, 17.
42. Ibid., 16-7; Smith, Human History, 378-90; Hall, 25; Glotz,
191-3, 209; Splengler, Oswald, Decline of the West, N.Y.,1926-8,
43. Strabo, xiv, 2.27; Evans, "Minoan and Mycenaean Element," 283.
44. Herodotus, VII, 170; CAH, II, 475; Smith, G. E., 398.
45. Baedeker, K., Greece, Leipzig, 1909, 417.
46. CAH, I, 442-3.
47. Himes, Norman, Medical History of Contraception, Baltimore,
48. Grote, G., History of Greece, Everyman Library, I, 190; Frazer,
Sir Jas., Dying God, N. Y., 1935, 71.
49. Diodorus, iv, 76.
50. Ibid., 79; Ovid, Metamorphoses, Loeb Library, viii, 181f.
51. Pausanias, Description of Greece, London, i886, ix, 40.
52. Plutarch, Lives, "Theseus"; Homer, Odyssey, xi, 321-5.
53. E.g., Polybius, Histories, Loeb Library, vi, 45.
54. Strabo, x, 4.16-22.
* If archeological chronology would permit the deferment of this conflagration to the neighborhood of 1250 it would be convenient to interpret the tragedy as an incident in the Achaen
** Pausanias, father of all Baedekers, credits Daedalus with several statues, mostly of wood, and a marble relief of Ariadne dancing, as all extant in the second century A.D. (51) The Greeks never doubted the reality of Daedalus, and the experience of Schliemann warns us to be skeptical even of our skepticism. Old traditions have a way of being easily rejected by. one generation of scholars, and laboriously confirmed by the next.
*** The Athenians counted all this as history. They treasured for centuries, by continually repairing it, the ship in which Theseus had sailed to Crete, and used it as a sacred vessel in sending envoys annually to the feast of Appollo at Delos.
Bizarreries—strange or extravagant expressions or actions.
Bourgeoisie—the middle classes.
Cujus regio ejus religio—the religion of the region must be that of the ruler.
De nobis fabula narrabitur—about us the story will be told.
Deus ex machina—the god from the machine.
In medias res—into the middle of things, or into the heart of the subject.
La Parisienne—The Parisian Woman.
Mater Dolorosa—The Sorrowful Mother.
Mise en scene—the surrounding situation.
Nouveaux riches—the newly rich.
Oikoumene (sc. ge)—the inhabited world.
Pace—despite, begging the pardon of.
Plem air—open air.
ADAMS, B.: The New Empire. N. Y., 1903.
Of Books Referred to in Text or Notes
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AESCHYLUS: The Oresteia. Tr. G. Murray. London, 1928.
ANDERSON, W. J., and SPIERS, R. P.: The Architecture of Greece and Rome. London, 1902.
ARISTOPHANES: The Eleven Comedies. 2V. N. Y., 1928.
ARISTOPHANES: The Frogs, and Three Other Plays. Tr. Frere, etc., Everyman Library.
ARISTOTLE: Art of Rhetoric. Loeb Classical Library.
ARISTOTLE: Metaphysics. 2v. Loeb Library.
ARISTOTLE: Metaphysics. Tr. M'Mahon. London, 1857.
ARISTOTLE: Nicomachean Ethics. Tr. Chase. Everyman Library.
ARISTOTLE (?): Oeconomica and Alagna Moralia. Loeb Library.
ARISTOTLE: On the Constitution of Athens. Tr. E. Poste. London, 1891.
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ARISTOTLE: Poetics. Loeb Library.
*ARISTOTLE: Politics. Tr. Lindsay. Everyman Library.
ARISTOTLE: Works. Tr. Smith and Ross. Oxford, 1931.
ARNOLD, M.: Essays in Criticism. A. L. Burt, N. Y., n.d.
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ATHENAEUS: The Deipnosophists, or Banquet of the Learned. 3v. London, 1854.
*BACON, F.: Philosophical Works. Ed. J. Al. Robertson. London, 1905.
BAEDEKER, K.: Greece. Leipzig, 1909.
BAIKIE, J.: The Sea-Kings of Crete. London, 1926.
BAKEWELL, C.: Source Book in Ancient Philosophy. N. Y., 1909.
BALL, W. W. R.: Short Account of the History of Mathematics. London, 1888.
BARON, S. W.: Social and Religious History of the Jews. 3v. N. Y., 1937.
BEBEL, A.: Woman under Socialism. N. Y., 1923.
BECKER, W. A.: Charicles. Tr. Metcalfe. London, 1886.
BENSON, F. F.: Life of Alcibiades. N. Y., 1929.
BENTWICH, N.: Hellenism. Phila., 1919.
BERRY, A.: Short History of Astronomy. N. Y., 1909.
BEVAN, E. R.: House of Seleucus. 2V. London, 1902.
BEVAN, E. R., and SINGER, C., eds.: The Legency of Israel. Oxford, 1927.
BLAKENEY, J. A.: Smaller Classical Dictionary. Everyman Library.
BOTSFORD, G. W.: The Athenian Constitution. N. Y., 1893.
BOTSFORD, G. W., and SIHLER, F. G.: Hellenic Civilization. N. V., 1920.
BRECCIA, F.: Alexandrea ad Aegyptum. Bergamo, 1922.
BRIFFAULT, R.: The Mothers. 3V. N. Y., 1927.
BROWNE, H.: Handbook of Homeric Study. London, 1908.
BURY, J. B.: Ancient Greek Historians. N. Y., 1909.
*BURY, J. B.: History of Greece. London, 1931.
CALHOUN, G. M.: Business Life of Ancient Athens. Chicago, 1926.
CAMBRIDGE ANCIENT HISTORY (CAH): Vols. I-VIII. N. Y., 1924f.
CAPES, W. University Life in Ancient Athens. N. Y., 1922.
CARPENTER, E.: Pagan and Christian Creeds. N. Y., 1920.
CARREL, A.: Man the Unknown. N.Y., 1935.
CARROLL, N.: Greek Women. Phila., 1908.
CHILDE, V. G.: Dawn of European Civilization. N. Y., 1925.
CICERO: De Finibus. Loeb Library.
CICERO: De Natura Deorum. Loeb Library.
CICERO: De Re Publica. Loeb Library.
CICERO: Tusculan Disputations. Loeb Library.
COOK, A. B.: Zeus. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1914.
COTTERILL, H. B.: History of Art. 2v. N. Y., 1922.
COULANGES, F. DE: The Ancient City. Boston, 1901.
CURTIUS, E.: Griechische Geschichte. 3V. Berlin, 1887f.
DAY, C.: History of Commerce. London, 1926.
DEMOSTHENES: On the Crown, etc. Loeb Library.
DEWEY, JOHN, etc.: Studies in the History of Ideas. N. Y., 1935.
DICKINSON, G. L.: The Greek View of Life. N.Y., 1928.
DIODORUS SICULUS: Library of History. 3V. Loeb Library.
DIODORUS SICULUS: Historical Library. vi. London, 1814.
*DIOGENES LAERTIUS: Lives and Opinions of the Eminent Philosophers. London, 1853.
DRAPER, J. W.: History of the Intellectual Development of Europe. 2v. N. Y., 1876.
DUPREEL, E.: La Legende-Socratique. Bruxelles, 1922. DYER, T. H.: Ancient Athens. London, 1873.
ELLIS, H.: Studies in the Psychology of Sex. 6v. Phila., 1911.
ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, 14th ed. N. Y., 1929.
EURIPIDES: Electra. Tr. G. Murray. Oxford, 1907.
EURIPIDES: Iphigenia in Tauris. Tr. G. Murray. Oxford, 1930.
*EURIPIDES: Medea. Tr. G. Murray. Oxford, 1912.
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EVANS, SIR A.: The Palace of Minos. 4V. in 6. London, I92 1f.
FARNELL, L. R.: Greece and Babylon. Edinburgh, 1911.
FERGUSON, W. M.: Greek Imperialism. Boston, 1913.
FLICKINGER, R. C.: The Greek Theatre. Chicago, 1918.
FRAZER, SIR J. G.: Adonis, Attis, Osiris. 1935.
FRAZER, SIR J. G.: The Dying God. N. Y., 1935.
FRAZER, SIR J.G. The Magic Art. 2V. N. Y., 1935.
FRAZER, SIR J. G.: The Scapegoat. N. Y., 1935.
FRAZER, SIR J. G.: Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild. 2V. N. Y., 1935.
FRAZER, SIR J. G.: Studies in Greek Scenery, Legend, and History. London, 1931.
FREMAN, E.A.: The Story of Sicily. N. Y., 1892.
GARDINER, F. N.: Athletics of the Ancient World. Oxford, 1930.
GARDINER, PERCY: New Chapters in Greek History. N. Y., 1892.
GARDINER, PERCY: Principles of Greek Art. N. Y., 1914.
GARDNER, E. A.: Ancient Athens. N. Y., 1902.
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GARDNER, F. A.: Six Greek Sculptors. London, 1910.
GARRRIS0N, F. H.: History of Medicine. Phila., 1929.
GIBBON, E.: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. 6v. Everyman Library.
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GRAETZ, H.: History of the Jews. 6v. Phila., 1891f.
GREEK ANTHOLOGY: Tr. Shane Leslie. N. Y., 1929.
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GREEK DRAMAS: Tr. E. B. Browning, etc. N. Y., 1912.
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HALL, M. P.: Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic, and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy. San Francisco, 1928.
HARRISON, J. F.: Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion. Cambridge,
HARRISON, I. E.: Themis. Cambridge, Eng., 1927.
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MULLER, K.O: The Dorians. 2v. Oxford, 1830.
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OXFORDER BUCH DEUTSCHEN DICHTUNG. Oxford, 1936.
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