Dr. Schliemann, The Explorer of Troy and Mycenæ. William Simpson. Click on images to enlarge them.

The arrival of Dr. Schliemann in London, and his address to be delivered here to the Society of Antiquaries, must increase the amount of public interest already felt in his successful explorations of the site of ancient classic history, or early traditions of romantic events. In Otwos, celebrated by the epic and tragic poets of that highly gifted nation. Our readers are fully aware of the direct efforts made by the proprietors of this Journal, in the employment successively of two Special Artists on the spat, as well as at Athens, to provide complete and accurate Illustrations of Dr. Schliemann's remarkable discoveries. Views more especially of the ruins of Mycenæ, in the Peloponnesus, and of the relics of antiquity found there, have been presented upon several occasions, with sufficient explanations of there general bearings; but an exact topographical view of the subject was yet desired. This is now supplied by our well known artist, Mr. W. Simpson, from whose pencil we have obtained many effective illustration, and whose pen, guided by considerable archeological and ethnographic experience, has contributed some notes upon the significance of the recently unearthed memorials of a remote past Age. The portrait of Dr. SchliemAnn, which accompanies the other illustrations given in this Number, is offered as a tribute of personal respect in recognition of his laudable endeavours and large pecuniary sacrifices, at his own private risk, to carry on them laborious and costly researches. His example at the present time appears more worthy of note, from the circumstance that he is not a man trained to the profession of literary and academic scholarship; that be has never been a professor of any of the German or other Universities: but that his youth and part of hla manhood, in Hamburg and In London, aa we underhand, were incea-oanUy occupied with commercial business. Since his retirement, within the last few years, from an active mercantile career, he has devoted nearly all his time, and a great deal of hie money, to the self-imposed task of examining the places associated with the chief actions related In Homer's “Iliad”- and those of colateral importance described in the narratives or dramatic compositions of other Greek poets.

His success in the Troad that district of the coast of Asia Minor, just below the Dardanelles, where two or three different sites had bom alleged for the famous city of Ilium, or Troy, was, perhaps, the commencement of a new era in the progress of classical archeology. There is no story, outside of the Bible, which has appealed in such a multitude and variety of human sympathies, during such a long period, and in so many different parts of the world, or stages of moral and intellectual culture, as this moot widely popular “Tale of Troy divine" has done. It was formerly intermixed, by the whimsical and capricious fancy of ignorant chroniclers, with the primitive notions of early British history; and the names of Homeric and Virgilian heroes, mingled with those of King Arthur and his knights of chivalry, appear in the medieval romances, of Celtic or of Northern French authorship, which to Chaucer and Spenser, to Shakespeare and Milton, seemed to have a foundation of reality and truth. The nicknames of ”Trojans” and “Grecians,” applied to the Juvenile inhabitants of two rival quarters of a respectable old city to the West of England, have been the signal for sharp battles with fists and sticks and stones within the last half century, proving the continuance of some traces of that unhistorical belief among the least instructed classes of provincial society.

Both Trojans and Grecians, or Danaans, Argives, and Acheans certainly existed on the opposite shores of the Ægean Sea, and probably fought against each other, as such warlike nations, ruled by military feudal chieftains, would naturally do, some generations before the first precise date of chronological record.It is very likely that there was a King Priam of Trey, with his Asiatic neighbours to support him; and a King Agamemnon, reigning over the towns of Argos and Mycenæ, at the head of an Achean or Hellenic confederacy of similar petty states each subject to its native local Prince. The presumption of the reality of these facts is strong enough to warrant our admitting them without dispute, while we? reject as mere poetical figments the many romantic passages and characters of Homer's epic and of the later tragedies, seemingly of mythological import, in wlikh Æschylus, Sophocles, and other writers dealt with the fate of Agamemnon and the fortunes of his son Orestes, and of Electra, the daughter of that murdered King. We must therefore conclude that no just reason exists for a disposition beforehand to receive with incredulity the pretensions of Dr. Schliemaan to hare found the relics of an actual Troy, with the palace and tomb of Priam, and those of Agamemnon at Mycenaæ; for it was quite to be expected, upon the ground of believing those kings to have really lived some 1600 years ago, that a few remnants of thedr massive edifices, fragments of sculptural stone, and specimens of the metallic wares belonging to their opulent household, should have been preserved from destruction or pillage underneath the accumulation of ruins and the soil of the land surface. We know that this Is the case with the Assyrian and Egyptian monuments, which are of far greater antiquity, and we ought not to feel much surprised, though highly interested and gratified, by the recent discovery of many relics at Mycenæ, evidently belonging to a royal House, which us supposed to have been tho House of the Atreus. The elder branch of that princely family, we doubt not, was actually represented at one time by Agamemnon, son of Atreus. reigning at Mycenæ over both that city and Argos, which is seven miles distant on the sea-shore.

Left: Sketch Plan of Dr. Schliemann’s Excavation in the Acropolis at Mycenæ. Right: Sketch Plan of Mycenæ and Its Acropolis.

Related Material


“Dr. Schliemann’s Researches in Greece.” Illustrated London News. (21 march 1877): 281-82. Google Books. Web. 10 May 2021.

Created 11 May 2021