Barrows, Samuel J.
The isles and shrines of Greece — Boston, 1898

Page: 162
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License: Public Domain Mark Use / Order
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Athens is not a city of magnificent distances; it
does not take long to measure it off with wheels or
shoe-leather. The difficulty is to keep mentally in
the nineteenth century and in the Athens of to-day.
You are almost sure to wander off into the Athens of
yesterday and the day before. You start feeling that
you are contemporaneous with yourself and with
everybody else whom you meet, but you have not
walked long before you begin to ask yourself whether
you are not really contemporaneous with some of
your distinguished and immortal ancestors. Are
you living your life backwards? Has the clock
begun to go the other way, or is it ticking both
ways at once? Is this the present, or is it the past?
Or are both throbbing together? Chronology seems
to have lost its sequence, to have become an eddying
whirl of repetitions and contradictions.

There would be no illusion, no disturbance of your
sense of identity, if you were in a city wholly of ruins,
like Pompeii, and devoid of any life of to-day. Then
you might hold yom;self aloof and view it as a
spectator across the gulf of centuries. Or if you
dreamed yourself back into it and imagined that you
were the sole surviving Roman citizen, your dream
would not be interrupted by nineteenth century
contradictions and interpolations. There are places
in Greece where you may have this experience, but
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