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Besides the scarcity of wood for fuel, there is another serious inconvenience to which the low grounds of Greece are exposed, the want of a supply of water at once adequate and regular. Abundance of rain falls during the autumnal and winter months, little or none during the summer; while the naked limestone of the numerous hills neither absorbs nor retains moisture, so that the rain runs off as rapidly as it falls. Springs are not numerous. Most rivers are torrents in early spring, and dry before the end of summer: the copious combinations of the ancient language designated the winter torrent by a special and separate word. The most considerable rivers in the country are, the Peneius, which carries off all the waters of Thessaly, finding an exit into the Ægean through the narrow defile which parts Ossa from Olympus, - and the Achelôus, which flows from Pindus in a southwesterly direction, separating Ætolia from Akarnania and emptying itself into the Ionian sea: the Euênus also takes its rise at a more southerly part of the same mountain-chain and falls. into the same sea more to the eastward. The rivers more to the southward are unequal and inferior. Kephisus and Asôpus in Boeotia, Pamisus in Messenia, maintain each a languid stream throughout the summer; while the Inachus near Argos, and the Kephisus and Ilissus near Athens, present a scanty reality which falls short still more of their great poetical celebrity. The Alpheius and the Spercheius are considerable streams the Achelôus is still more

Irregularity of the Grecian watersrivers dry in sum


important. The quantity of mud which its turbid stream brought down and deposited, occasioned a sensible increase of the land at its embouchure, within the observation of Thucydidês.

But the disposition and properties of the Grecian territory, though not maintaining permanent rivers, are favourable to the multiplication of lakes and marshes. There are numerous hollows and enclosed basins, out of which the water can find no superficial escape, and where, unless it makes for itself a subterranean passage through rifts in the mountains, it remains either as a marsh or a lake according to the time of year. In Thessaly we find the lakes Nessônis and Bobêis; in Ætolia, between the Achelôus and Euênus, Strabo mentions the lake of Trichônis, besides several other lakes, which it is difficult to identify individually, though the quantity of ground covered by lake and marsh is as a whole very considerable. In Boeotia are situated the lakes Kopaïs, Hylikê, and Harma; the first of the three formed chiefly by the river Kephisus, flowing from Parnassus on the northwest, and shaping for itself a sinuous course through the mountains of Phokis. On the northeast and east, the lake Kopaïs is bounded by the high land of Mount Ptôon, which intercepts its communication with the strait of Euboea. Through the limestone of this mountain the water has either found or forced several subterraneous cavities, by which it obtains a partial egress on the other side of the rocky hill and then flows into the strait. The Katabothra, as they were termed in

Frequent marshes and lakes.

antiquity, yet exist, but in an imperfect and halfobstructed condition. Even in antiquity however they never fully sufficed to carry off the surplus waters of the Kephisus; for the remains are still found of an artificial tunnel, pierced through the whole breadth of the rock, and with perpendicular apertures at proper intervals to let in the air from above. This tunnel-one of the most interesting remnants of antiquity, since it must date from the prosperous days of the old Orchomenus, anterior to its absorption into the Bootian league, as well as to the preponderance of Thebes is now choked up and rendered useless. It may perhaps have been designedly obstructed by the hand of an enemy. The scheme of Alexander the Great who commissioned an engineer from Chalkis to reopen it, was defeated first by discontents in Boeotia, and ultimately by his early death.

The Katabothra of the lake Kopaïs are a specimen of the phænomenon so frequent in Greece — lakes and rivers finding for themselves

Subterranean course of rivers,


out of land-locked subterranean passages through the cavities in the limestone rocks, and even pursuing their unseen course for a considerable distance before they emerge to the light of day. In Arcadia, especially, several remarkable examples of subterranean water-communication occur: this central region of Peloponnesus presents a cluster of such completely enclosed valleys or basins.

It will be seen from these circumstances, that Greece, considering its limited total extent, offers but


and transport in


little motive and still less of convenient means, for internal communication among its various inhabitants. Each village or township occupying its plain with the enclosing mountains, supplied its own Difficulty of land main wants, whilst the transport of commodities by land was sufficiently difficult to discourage greatly any regular commerce with neighbours. In so far as the face of the interior country was concerned, it seemed as if nature had been disposed from the beginning to keep the population of Greece socially and politically disunited - by providing so many hedges of separation, and so many boundaries, generally hard, sometimes impossible, to overleap. One special motive to intercourse, however, arose out of this very geographical constitution of the country, and its endless alternation of mountain and valley. The difference of climate and temperature between the high and low grounds is very great; the harvest is secured in one place before it is ripe in another, and the cattle find during the heat of summer shelter and pasture on the hills, at a time when the plains are burnt up. The practice of transferring them from the mountains to the plain according to the change of season, which subsists still as it did in ancient times, is intimately connected with the structure of the country, and must from the earliest period have brought about communication among the otherwise disunited villages.

Such difficulties, however, in the internal transit by land were to a great extent counteracted by the large proportion of coast and the accessibility of the country

by sea. The prominences and indentations in the line of Grecian coast are hardly less remarkable than the multiplicity of elevations and depressions which everywhere mark the surface. The shape of Peloponnesus, with its three southern gulfs (the Argolic, Laconian and Messenian), was compared by the ancient geographers to the leaf of a plane-tree: the Pegasæan Gulf on the eastern side of Greece, and the Ambrakian Gulf on the western, with their narrow entrances and considerable area, are equivalent to internal lakes: Xenophôn boasts of the double sea which embraces so large a proportion of Attica, Ephorus of the triple sea by which Boeotia was accessible from west, north, and south—the Eubœan Strait opening a long line of country on both sides to coasting navigation. But the most important of all Grecian gulfs are the Corinthian and the Saronic, washing the northern and northeastern shores of Peloponnesus and separated by the narrow barrier of the Isthmus of Corinth. The former, especially, lays open Ætolia, Phokis, and Boeotia, as well as the whole northern coast of Peloponnesus, to water approach. Corinth in ancient times served as an entrepôt for the trade between Italy and Asia Minor-goods being unshipped at Lechæum, the port on the Corinthian Gulf, and carried by land across to Kenchreæ, the port on the Saronic: indeed, even the merchant vessels themselves, when not very large, were conveyed across by the same route. It was accounted a prodigious advantage to escape the necessity of sailing round Cape Malea: and the vio

Indentations in the line of coastuniversal accessibility by sea.

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