Papers of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens — 4.1885-1886

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THE ATHENIAN PNYX.

supplemented by some steps placed on the rock beneath them, as
the lowest of them is two or three feet from the .floor.

This concludes the description of the Pnyx proper. We pass from
it to notice some remains of the city wall on the top of the hill, and also
a small plateau which has been produced by cutting clown the rock in
a way in some respects similar to that which has been pursued in
making the Pnyx itself. Many of the details of this place can be seen
at once by referring to the survey. It is approached on the east and
west from the level field, and is limited on the north by the back
wall, US, of the Pnyx, and on the south by a back wall,/?-, resembling

furnace, the flames of which could be directed against the walls of a besieged
town. After having been heated by this gigantic blow-pipe the stones were to be
sprinkled with vinegar " or some other mordant." A curious attempt to employ
this ancient means of effecting a breach in fortification walls was made by the
Due de Guise in his expedition against Naples (Les Memoires de Fen Monsieur,
le Due de Guise, Paris, 1668).

The most memorable occasion on which we hear of the use of fire in this way
is, of course, the passage of the Alps by Hannibal. The construction of a road,
rendered necessary by the presence of elephants in the invading army, required
the removal of large masses of native rock. This was effected by the disintegrating
action of fire (Silius Italicus, Punica, III.; and Orosius, Hist., IV. 14). Other
authors (Livy, XXI. 37; Appian, IV.; Juvenal, Sat:, X. 152; Ammianus Marccl-
linus, XV. 10; Servius, Ad Aeneid, X. 13) state that vinegar was also employed
by Hannibal, — a story which has given rise to many wild comments. A dis-
cussion of the recent literature of this subject may be found in E. Hennebert,
Histoire d'Annibal, Paris, 1870, Vol. II., who himself comes to the startling con-
clusion that the u£os or acetum of the passages quoted was an actual explosive,
now unknown, with a force comparable to that of gunpowder or dynamite.
Scarcely less amusing is an explanation given by R. Ellis, A Treatise on Hanni-
bal's Passage of the Alps, Cambridge, 1853, who, regardless of the explicit testi-
mony of the ancient authors, asserts the fire and vinegar to have been used, not
in splitting rocks, but in thawing out great masses of "snow, solidified by frost."
In point of fact, the peasants of the high Alps still employ fire in breaking up the
enormous boulders which at times block the roads; compare C. Chappuis, Rapport
an Alinistre de VInstruction Publique, Paris, 1S60.

That a very considerable portion of the rock removed from the Pnyx hill in
the excavation of the auditory was disintegrated by fire, is proved by the presence
of many fragments of partially calcined rock in this vicinity. This method, as
regards both fire and vinegar, would have been far more efficacious upon the
limestone of this formation than upon the granite and gneiss of the Alpine
passes. — J. T. C.
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