Page 0451

451 GREECE-THE COUNTRY.

more impenetrate the other. All the way around, from the Thermaic gulf to the borders of

Epirus, is an almost continued succession of peninsulas and bays. Sometimes, as in the

case of the great island Euboea, the sea is completely victorious, and a portion of the

shore is cut off by straits and channels. Again, as on the west of Peloponnesus, the land

for a distance presents . a tolerably regular outline of coast. Notably, however, near the

middle-in the waist, as it were, of her body-is Greece almost divided. Here, on the east

the Saronic gulf running up under Attica, and on the west the gulf of Corinth, press

inland towards each other until only a narrow barrier of rocky isthmus remains between. So

nearly does Peloponnesus come to being an island. Thus by a long and infinitely varied

coast-line was laid in nature the antecedent of the maritime supremacy of the Greeks.

The general division into a NORTHERN, a CENTRAL, and a SOUTHERN GREECE is most obviously

marked in the geographical features of the peninsula. The part of the country which lies

between the Corinthian gulf and the Olympian mountains is subdivided into two parts by the

approximation of the Ambracian and Maliac gulfs. A line drawn from the one to the other

constitutes the lower, as the fortieth parallel constitutes the upper, boundary of

Northern Greece. From the line of the two gulfs to the Isthmus of Corinth is Central

Greece; while Southern Greece is obviously conterminous with the Peloponnesus.

It will be seen at a glance that the northern division of the country, as here defined,

includes Thessaly and Epirus; but excludes Macedonia. The latter is a country of

highlands, entirely different in characteristics from the regions lying to the south. It

consists in large part of circular valleys hemmed in by ranges of hills, with few slopes

towards the sea; while, on the other hand, Greece proper, though mountainous to the extent

of secluding in a great measure the districts from each other, tends in nearly all parts

to the shore.

It will readily be inferred, from the geographical conditions here presented, that the

climate of Greece is exceedingly varied. Such is true to an astonishing degree. Beginning

at the north, next the range of Olympus, and proceeding to the south, first into the

valleys of Central Greece and thence into Peloponnesus, there is presented to the traveler

almost every variety of atmospheric condition. The general aspect of nature changes like

the scenes of a panorama, until almost every disposition and hue of her wealth, and even

of her caprice, has been displayed.

Passing from Northern to Central Greece a new order of structure is observed. The

landscape becomes more complex. The mountains in many parts fall into hilly ranges. The

country is described by Curtius as "so manifoldly broken up that it becomes a succession

of peninsulas connected with one another by isthmuses." In the western part. Mount

Tymphrestus rises to a height of more than seven thousand feet, and the range of Parnassus

reaches a still greater elevation in the eastern portion of the peninsula.

In Peloponnesus still greater changes are observed. Here, around a kind of center in the

State of Arcadia, arise high bulwarks with spurs projecting from every slope into the

surrounding districts-Messenia, Laconia, Argolis. Some of the scenery is Alpine in its

wildness. The eye is surprised in every part by striking landscapes, secluded spots of

beauty, marvelous contrasts of hill and wood and valley. It is, however, in considering

the political divisions of Greece, that the marked local peculiarities of the land may be

best presented.

Ancient Greece was divided into a multitude of states, the foundations of which were laid

in nature. In other countries lines have been drawn, for mere convenience of government,

between province and province. In Greece the lines were laid when the peninsula was thrown

into form. Beginning next the Olympian range we have in Northern Greece the two extensive

states of THESSALY and EPIRUS. They are, as already said, divided from each other by the

range of Pindus. The former is the largest political division of all Greece. It lies from

north to south between the Cambunian mountains and