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453 GREECE-THE COUNTRY.

western extreme of the Malian gulf. The little district so named produced no important

effect upon the course of Grecian history, nor were there either Malian cities or citizens

of sufficient note as to attract the applause of their boisterous countrymen.

Not so, however, of the State of BCEOTIA. Bounded on one side by the channel of Euboea and

on the other by the Corinthian gulf, lying between Attica at the extreme of the peninsula

and Phocis on the north- west, this country held a position in every way favorable for a

large influence in the affairs of Greece. Geographically, Boeotia is a sort of basin,

surrounded by the ranges of Cithaeron and Parnes on the south, Helicon on the west,

Parnassus on the north-west, and the Opuntian chain on the east. Within this basin lies

Lake Copai's, forty-seven miles in circumference, formed, as hitherto said, by the

overflowing of the river Cephissus; also the plain of Thebes, and the valley of Asopus.

Of all the Grecian commonwealths the most important was ATTICA. The name mean's the Shore

or Coast. The land so called was the extremity or foot of the long peninsula which

constitutes the eastern part of Central Greece. In shape it is a triangle, bounded on the

north-west by Boeotia, on the east by the Aegean, on the south-west by the Saronic gulf

and Megaris. The area of the country is eight hundred and forty square miles, and yet in

this small district were exhibited the most marvelous energies ever displayed by the human

mind. In Attica several mountain ranges sink down to the coast. Several plains, as the

Eleusinian, the Athenian, the Mesogaean, and the Paralian, intervene between the hill-

ranges or along the shore. The first named contained the sacred city of Eleusis. The

second was watered by the two principal rivers of Attica, the Cephissus and the Ilissus,

both insignificant streams, sinking into dry beds in summer. Attica was the native seat of

the Ionic race, and at a very early date attained a precedence among the Hellenic

commonwealths, which she held alike by prowess in battle and the acuteness of her people.

From the instep of the Attican peninsula

and extending across through a narrowing isthmus into Peloponnesus, was the little State

of MEGARIS. The boundaries on the north were Attica and Boeotia; on the south, the sea; on

the west, the Corinthian gulf. The whole area is but one hundred and forty-three square

miles. The surface is rugged and hilly. The principal mountain is Cithaeron, which rises

on the border of Boeotia. Across the southern part of Megaris from sea to sea extends the

Geranean chain, through which three passes afford land routes from Central Greece into

Peloponnesus. The first is the Scironian pass close to the Saronic gulf, which is the

direct road from Corinth to Athens. The second is near the Corinthian gulf, and leads from

Peloponnesus into Boeotia. The third was about the center of the range, and as a

thoroughfare had a less importance than the other two, which at their northern termini

reached into the open country. Megaris contained but one small plain, and in that was

situated the metropolis of the state. In the earliest times this district was considered a

part of Attica, being then inhabited by Aeolians and Ionians.

Passing into the western half of Central Greece, we come to Aetolia, situated on the north

shore of the gulf of Corinth. It was bounded on the east by Doris and Locris, and on the

west by Acamania. At its southern extremity it is divided by a narrow strait from

Peloponnesus. On the north lay the district inhabited by the Dolopes. The principal river

was a small stream called the Evenus, now the Fidhari. Aetolia was a rough region, larger

than most of the states of Greece, but so little civilized as compared with those on the

eastern shore as to perform but a minor part in Grecian history. Not until the times of

Alexander did the Aetolians begin to display the energy of character for which their

countrymen were so greatly distinguished afterwards.

The remaining Greek state north of the Corinthian gulf was ACARNANIA. On the east lay

Aetolia, on the north the Ambracian gulf, on the west and south the Ionian sea. Like most

of the other districts, the surface is mountainous, but presents considerable