- Project Runeberg -  Armenia and the Near East /

(1928) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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back of the Gulf of Messenia, are the wide plains of the
valley of Pamisos, once the most fertile country in Greece,
with Makaria, the ancient “Land of the Blessed.” On the
north-east loom threatening mountain bulwarks—the Taygetus
range, which bounds the inland plain by Sparta, and whose
loftiest peak, rising 2,400 metres above sea-level, nearly
equals Galhöpiggen, the highest mountain in Norway. We
rounded Cape Matapan, with a lighthouse on a shelving
promontory running far out into the sea, which reminds one
not a little of Lindesnes (the Naze). On a peaceful evening,
with a full moon, we steamed across the Gulf of Laconia and
inside Kythera, where the Phœnicians long ago fished for
the purple snail, which was found in large quantities along
the coast of Aphrodite’s sacred island, where she first stepped
ashore from the sea in all her seductive loveliness to drive
mankind to despair. And so round the wind-swept and
much-feared Cape Malea, after which we headed northward
across the Ægean.


At dawn (Sunday, June 7th) we entered the Saronic Gulf.
Attica, the most remarkable peninsula in the world, rose
before us in the north, a low hilly country above the blue
sea. Hither the Greek seamen steered their triremes on the
way home from their expeditions; from afar they could
see Athene’s golden helmet, and the gold point of her glittering
spear, shining on the Acropolis in the sunshine above the
horizon. The island which rears its long mountain pyramid
over the sea on the left is Ægina, and farther in, with steep
flanks, is Salamis. The flat country, with a yellowish tinge,
at the foot of the mountains of Attica, must be the Kephissian
plain near Athens. The dark peak above the plain, with a
speck of white on it, is Mount Lycabettos with its monastery.
And the hill farther to the left, with precipitous sides and
buildings on its flat top, must be the Acropolis, with the
Parthenon—the world’s Sacred Mount. One seems to hear
the rush of wings from the days when the human spirit soared
to such unrivalled heights; and as one’s eyes scan the bright

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