Note (B) page 405.
410 THE region which is situated on the Asiatic coast of the southern entrance of the Hellespont, has been generally distinguished by the name of the plain of Troy. Its topography has been learnedly described, and elegantly illustrated, by modern travellers; and on comparing their descriptions of its present state with those of the author of the Iliad, there can remain little doubt but that Homer was acquainted with the local peculiarities of this country, and that he has adapted to it the events and incidents of his poem. Other proofs, however, are requisite in order to authenticate the history of the Trojan war, and it will perhaps never emerge from the mists of mythology in which it is enveloped.
The publication of M. Chevalier's Description induced me to visit the plain of Troy in the autumn of the year 1795, before any traveller had retraced his steps, or at least had publicly questioned the accuracy of 411 his relation. I returned from the excursion convinced of the correctness of M. Chevalier's general survey of the country, although I discovered, that he had been misled, in some instances, by unwarrantable interpretations of the modern languages of Turkey, or by hasty conclusions from facts which had been only vaguely communicated to him.
Mr. Liston, the English ambassador, visited the Troad a fortnight after my return to Constantinople. He perused my journal, and commended its fidelity: he even copied a part of it for the purpose of communicating it to Professor Dalzel, the translator and editor of M. Chevalier's memoir. Mr. Dallaway did me the honour to insert an extract from it in his work, under the title of a letter from the Dardanelles1, and M. Chevalier 412 himself, in a subsequent publication, has acquiesced in the propriety of the correction which I therein suggested, as to the real signification of the epithet by which the Greek inhabitants of Yenni Shehr, the ancient Sigeum, distinguish the supposed tomb of Achilles2. I also take some merit to 413 myself for having induced M. Chevalier to reconsider the whole of the chapter on the tombs of Achilles, Patroclus, and Antilochus, which he had read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He therein asserted, that there were discovered among the relics contained in the barrow which he had conjectured to be the tomb of Achilles, and which was opened in the year 1787 by order of M. de Choiseul-Gouffier, the French ambassador at the Ottoman porte, "a small statue of Minerva, seated in a chariot with 414 four horses; and an urn of metal filled with ashes, charcoal, and human bones." "This urn which," he says, "is now in the possession of the Comte de Choiseul, is encircled in sculpture with a vine-branch, from which are suspended bunches of grapes done with exquisite art:" and he adds the following passage in corroboration of this assertion, which forms the groundwork of much learned commentary and curious hypothesis. "When therefore I behold the urn of metal adorned with vine-branches, I own I find it very difficult to prevent myself from thinking of that famous urn, the gift of Bacchus and the workmanship of Vulcan, which Thetis gave to her son, and in which the Greeks deposited the ashes of their hero3." These relics have, however, been very differently described by persons who have seen them; even the circumstance of the opening of the tumulus has been called in question4: I trust, therefore, that it will not be irrelevant 415 to the elucidation of this interesting subject to insert a fragment of the journal of my tour, as it certainly has undermined an assertion, which, otherwise, would have strongly supported the hypothesis of Homer's fidelity as an historian.
1See Constantinople ancient and modern, p. 351. Mr. Dallaway himself put the extract into the form of a letter, which he has chosen to date in October 1795, so that it appears rather to correspond with the period of Mr. Liston's journey to the Troad, than with mine. I must be permitted to observe, that the assertion in the concluding paragraph of the letter, respecting M. Chevalier's ignorance of the modern Greek language, is not to be found in my journal. Professor Dalzel, however, who derived his information solely from Mr. Liston, and who could not possibly have been misled, acquits the learned gentleman of this flippant tirade against the qualifications of his friend the abbé, and ascribes it, on Mr. Liston's authority as he seems to insinuate, to Mr. Dallaway's correspondent. (See Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, vol. iv, part ii, p. 59.)
2M. Chevalier says, that he was informed by a Greek inhabitant of Yenni Shehr, that the most considerable of the two hills at the foot of the Sigean promontory, is, at this day, called dios tapé. This remarkable name, which he translates the divine tomb, furnished him with a subject for various reflections, and induced him to pitch upon that barrow as the most proper subject for the operation of digging which he advised. (See Description of the plain of Troy, p. 18, 149.) I implicitly believed the assertion of M. Chevalier, and, on my arrival at Sigeum, desired the Greek, who served me as a guide, to point out to me the barrow which was distinguished by the name of dios tepé, or the divine tomb. I discovered, however, from his answer, that M. Chevalier had been so far misled, by a similarity of their sounds according to the modern Greek pronunciation, as to translate the expression duo tepé, the two barrows (by which are meant those of Achilles and Patroclus), into dios tapé, the divine tomb, and to apply it peculiarly to the larger one. This note was in substance communicated to Mr. Liston, who, if Professor Dalzel be correct, adopted it as his own (see Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, vol. iv, part ii, p. 59), and to Mr. Dallaway, who has inserted it in p. 351 of his work, whence Mr. Morritt has taken it. (See Vindication of Homer, p. 104, note.) M. Chevalier also cursorily mentions "les tombeaux d'Achille et de Patrocle" in a work which he published, after having read Mr. Dallaway's book, under the title of Voyage de la Propontide et du Pont Euxin, t. i, p. 12, note: but he drops the epithet dios, and names them dhio tepé. See also his Voyage de la Troade, t. ii, chap. xix, p. 312. Paris 1802. The barrow on the Rhœtean promontory was anciently called Aiantéum, and this name is still recognizable in the Turkish appellation of In-tepé, if the word be traced in its passage through the modern Greek pronunciation. M. Chevalier asserts (p. 107), that the Turks call it In tapé gheulu, which he translates the cavern of the marsh; but In Tepé gheulu, (for it is to be observed, that M. Chevalier adopts the orthography tapé, instead of tepé, because of its greater similarity to the name which was used for such constructions by the Egyptians, see chap. xii) is the name of a marsh adjoining to the barrow, and signifies "the marsh of In-tepé."
3See Description of the plain of Troy, p. 149, 150. 4to Edinburgh 1791. Compare also (or rather contrast) chap. xxi, of the English edition with chap. xix of the French edition, t. ii, p. 308-332. 12mo. Paris.
4See Morritt's Vindication of Homer, p. 106. Gell's Topography of Troy and its vicinity, p. 67.
The companions of my journey were Mr. Mercati, an artist who accompanied Mr. Liston to Constantinople, and Mr. Barker, who has been since appointed to the consulship of Aleppo. We returned to the Dardanelles on the 18th of September 1795, after having attentively examined every object of curiosity which still exists in the Troad and the adjacent region. The English consul Taragano introduced us to a Jew, named Salomon Ghormezano, the son of the former French consul, who told us, that he had been employed by the Comte de Choiseul to open the tepé, or barrow, at Yenni Shehr5: In answer to our inquiries he said, 416 that he had worked at it by night for two months, and had obviated the opposition of the aga, and the reluctance of the people, by holding out to them the expectation of being able to discover a spring of water for the use of the town. No one superintended the work, except himself; which he described as peculiarly irksome, so that he frequently requested permission to relinquish it, but 417 was repeatedly urged to persevere. He had penetrated, in a perpendicular direction, almost as deep as the natural surface of the soil, when he discovered a construction of masonry, about twelve feet square, covered with a single stone: the walls appeared to have been about three feet high, though they had sunk under the weight of the earth which was heaped upon them, so that the materials, and the contents, of the building were confused together. He collected indiscriminately the whole of these relics, and conveyed them away in a large case, which he guarded with the strictest care till he arrived at Constantinople, where he himself consigned it to M. de Choiseul. Ghormezano had, however, reserved several fragments for himself, which he promised to show to us. Accordingly, after a short interval, he came to the consul's house, and produced a small packet of paper parcels, which he exhibited and explained to us; and with his consent I made a note of what they severally contained.
5The following extracts, which are copied literally from my journal, serve, in a considerable degree, to authenticate this fact. "13th September. We introduced ourselves to a Frenchman whom we met on the scale (or sea-beach). He talked with us on the subject of our journey to the Troad, which, he said, he had made with the Comte de Choiseul and M. Fauvel" (an artist in his service). "Choiseul waited at Bounar-bashe, while he and Fauvel traced the Simoïs to its source, and reached it, with considerable difficulty, among the higher parts of mount Ida. He promised to make us known to the son of the former French consul, who, he said, assisted at the opening of the tomb of Achilles."- "15th September. Immediately on our arrival at Yenni Shehr, we took with us a Greek of the village, and went to the tomb of Achilles, descending to it by a range of windmills. The tepé is placed on the lower part of the promontory: - adjoining to it is a téké, or house of dervishes, whose women examined us with much attention. On the summit of the mound is their burying-ground, and a small hut, on the spot, as one of the dervishes told me, where it had been opened a few years before by a Jew of the Dardanelles. He knew of nothing found there, but some pieces of marble, which, he said, were put in again and covered up." It is also further confirmed by M. de Choiseul's letter to M. Chevalier, which is inserted in t. i, p. 301 of Voyage de la Troade. "Le tombeau d'Achille, à moitié ouvert, a pensé écraser les Turcs et le pauvre Salomon Gormezano, mais ils en sont quittes pour quelques contusions; et un nouvel envoi de piastres leur a rendu courage." The concluding sentence (unless it relate to the wages paid to the workmen) is somewhat at variance with Ghormezano's assertion, who complained to me, that M. de Choiseul repaid his trouble only with thanks.
6He said, that this fragment had originally belonged to a vase. I asked him very particularly concerning the state in which he found it. He replied, that it was broken to pieces, and that it had no ornament except a wreath round the rim. The fragment was so eaten with rust or canker that, if the remainder of the vase were in the same state, few traces of ornament could have been distinguished. He said, however, that enough remained from which to form a judgment as to its original shape. When I asked him respecting the size, he said, that it was large, and accompanied his words with the action of stretching out his arms, as though to convey the idea of its being somewhat too large for his grasp. I ought also to mention, that among the packets there was one which contained several substances in powder, such as mortar, cinders, dust of brass, &c. mixed together.
7He called it iron, and said it appeared to have been of a triangular shape, and, as was conjectured, the guard of the hilt of a sword.
8He said, that some pieces of the pottery seemed to belong to large vases. There were also several small cups, some of which were unbroken: they were all painted in the same style as the fragments. It appeared to him as though it had been part of the funeral ceremony to drink to the memory of the deceased, and then to throw the cup into the tomb.
9He said, that they had not been able to form any conjecture as to its uses. I understood from his description of it, that it was about a foot long and two inches in diameter, that it was ornamented with wreaths or branches, in enchased or embossed work, and was of so transparent a nature that objects might be distinguished through it. It had received but slight injury, having only a small fracture at the upper end.
He also said, that he had found among the relics of the tumulus, and delivered to M. de Choiseul, a piece of bronze, which weighed seven or eight pounds: it was about a foot and a half long, and of the circumference of a quart bottle in the middle, which was the thickest part. This, he said, was at first supposed to be the hilt of a sword, but M. de Choiseul afterwards told him, that he had found it to be the figure of a man with a lion under each foot10.
10It is difficult to suppose, that even the essential form of M. Chevalier's goddess seated in a chariot with four horses, could reside in a piece of metal of the shape which is here described. Much allowance should, however, be made for the figurative and inaccurate mode of description which is used by almost all the inhabitants of the East.
He also enumerated to us, from recollection, the different strata of earth which he dug through on opening the barrow: At the bottom of it he discovered a large slab, of 420 which he did not ascertain the shape and size, but observed, that its surface was greater than that of the opening which he had made. This stone served as the foundation of the sepulchre, and was excavated in that part which was enclosed within the walls. The sepulchre itself was strewed over on the outside with lime, and then with wood-ashes11.
11Ghormezano assured me (though it appears too ridiculous to be credited), that, before the barrow was closed up, a sheet of lead was placed at the bottom, on which was inscribed "Ouvrage fait par le Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier l'an 1787."
Mr. Liston, to whom I mentioned these circumstances, examined the relics while they were still in the possession of Ghormezano. They were seen by no other traveller, until Mr. Henry Philip Hope, who made the tour of the Troad in company with Captain Francklin, bought them in June 179912. Six years afterwards I had an opportunity of ascertaining, from good authority, the credibility both of M. Chevalier's and Signor Ghormezano's relation. M. Fauvel was released from the confinement under which he had remained during the war between 421 the Ottoman porte and the French republic. In the month of September 1801 he arrived at Constantinople from Athens. I endeavoured to be useful to him, from a respect for his private character and his reputation as a literary man and an artist, and though I failed in my application in his behalf, he was too liberal to estimate my interference only by its want of success. I had known him while his talents were employed under the direction of M. de Choiseul, and among other inquiries which such recollection suggested, I was chiefly inquisitive about the opening of the tumulus at Sigeum, the discovery of its contents, and the conjectures concerning them.
12See Captain Francklin's Remarks and observations on the plain of Troy.
M. Fauvel confirmed to me, that Ghormezano was the person whom M. de Choiseul had employed to open the barrow, that he conducted the work alone, and that he consigned to M. de Choiseul the fruits of his discovery. Fauvel himself was absent when permission was obtained from the porte to carry on the researches in the plain of Troy. On his return to Constantinople he was, however, appointed to examine the relics which Ghormezano had discovered, and a chamber was assigned to him for the purpose 422 in the ambassador's hotel at Pera. M. Kauffer, an engineer-officer attached to the embassy, brought the fragments from Tarapia, a village on the Bosphorus, the country residence of the French ambassadors. They were contained in two glass vases, which were delivered to M. Fauvel, who discovered among them the statue of Isis standing on a pedestal or table, which was supported on the backs of two horses, carrying each an armed warrior. The statue was made of brass, but the left foot was fastened to the pedestal by an iron nail13. He found nothing resembling a vase or urn14. He told me, that he had shown to 423 several English travellers the drawing which he made of this figure. He had left the original at Athens, but sketched a copy of it for me from recollection.
13Mr. Gell learned, that "the figure of a man whose feet rested on the backs of two small horses, was discovered, and the fragments of human legs on their sides showed, that there had been originally a rider upon each, the head of the principal figure was supported by two sphinxes." - "Some have supposed, that the figure mentioned above might have been one of the handles of the golden urn; but it was so mutilated and decayed that it required all the ingenuity of all the French in Constantinople to make any thing intelligible from the fragment. The authenticity of these productions was, even at the time, much disputed, and some persons went so far as to affirm, that the antiquities were manufactured at Paris." Topography of Troy and its vicinity, p. 67, note 8.
14Mr. Dallaway was misinformed on this subject. He says, "The urn or vase, Mr. Fauvel, an ingenious artist now residing at Athens, received from Mr. Choiseul in its decayed state, and made a model from it, which has been exhibited to several connoisseurs, as much to their surprise as satisfaction." Constantinople ancient and modern, p. 353. I had written this note before I observed the following passage in M. de Choiseul's letter to M. Chevalier. "L'urne d'Achille, ses os, ses cendres, tout cela est trouvé: au premier vent du sud, Salomon arrivera avec ces précieuses reliques." M. Chevalier has even exhibited, for the satisfaction of the curious and the credulous, a representation of two urns- "vases cinéraires, trouvés dans le tombeau d'Achille." See Voyage de la Troade, plate xxiii.424 [The drawing of Isis by M. Fauvel]
425 Isis is represented differently from the usual manner. She is treading lightly on the ground, which she appears scarcely to touch with her right foot. She holds up her robe with her left hand, and carries the flower of the lotus in the right. On each shoulder she supports a sphinx; and among the ornaments of her head are the cow-horns with the globe, and a sphinx on each side of them. In her dress, her attitude, and her general manner, she seems designed for the goddess Hope: and indeed Hope cannot be better represented than under the form of an Egyptian goddess, lightly skimming over the slimy deposition of the Nile after its inundation, and looking forward with confidence to an abundant harvest.
Unfortunately, however, from the consideration of the relics themselves, as well as from the circumstances of their discovery, their authenticity is by no means unquestionable. Isis with flowing robes, is not to be found among the ancient Egyptian statues. The sphinxes placed on her shoulders, with others again placed above them, form a singular kind of ornament. The iron nail, as M. Fauvel justly observed, proves, that the statue does not date from very high antiquity, 426 and the armed warriors certainly do not belong to the age of Homer, whose heroes, in no instance, go out to war on horseback.
It is much to be regretted, that M. de Choiseul should have acted with so little judgment, and so much precipitation, in a research, which, if it had been properly conducted, might have illustrated a very important period of ancient history. He confided to an ignorant Jew the superintendance and execution of a task, which required extensive erudition and an intimate acquaintance with the monuments of antiquity. He forced an ungrateful labour upon an unwilling agent, who was moreover compelled, on account of the prejudices of the people of the country, to prosecute it by night and under peculiar disadvantages. And yet every thing rests on the evidence of this incompetent, and suspicious witness. Certainly M. de Choiseul could never expect, by such a mode of proceeding, to gain the confidence of learned and judicious men; still less could he hope to merit the approbation of the world.
"To my own inquiries," says Mr. Gell, "I have never procured any satisfactory account 427 of these relics, even from those who were concerned in the production of them to the world; and when I have requested information from French gentlemen of character, who knew the truth, I have always found them impenetrably silent15." It was probably at Paris, that Mr. Gell made his inquiries; for no person remained who could have answered them when he was at Constantinople in January 1802. Kauffer had died some time before. Fauvel was then in France, but he soon after returned to Athens, with the appointment of Consul-General. Choiseul himself was, I believe, at that time living at Saint Petersburg, where he fled to avoid the proscription of the National Convention. These were the only French gentlemen of character who were concerned in the production of the relics to the world. It is evident, that Chevalier was kept in perfect ignorance: and I am afraid, that, after all, the Jew at the Dardanelles is the only person who knew the truth.
15Topography of Troy and its vicinity, p. 67, note 8.
Nothing now remains for the satisfaction of the curiosity which has been excited on this subject, but that M. de Choiseul should 428 communicate whatever he may know relating to the fact of the discovery of the relics, and exhibit whatever he may have preserved of the fragments which he received from Ghormezano: by these means, and by comparing the fragments with the specimens which are in the possession of Mr. H. P. Hope, with which if they be genuine they must correspond, a glimpse of the truth may at last be discovered. Ghormezano was living when I passed the Dardanelles in the year 1803. He can now have no motive to conceal, or to disguise, the truth; and he might be induced by moderate liberality to answer candidly to questions, which would unveil the mystery.
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