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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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1 entry, paper

Tues. 25. [25 February 1902] The Commandant had me wakened at
5.15 and I ran up on deck to find a perfectly clear sky and a moon
reflected in the smoothest water. Lycabettus and the Acropolis rising
above a light mist and snow on Pentelikon [Pendelikon] and the
western hills. As the sun rose Salamis turned gold and all the hills
and the sea the deepest blue. Off at 8 about and caught an 8.30 train
to Athens [Athinai]. Got out at Monasterion and went to the telegraph
office and the Museum where I saw the Cape Malea [Akra Malea]
things. First a long room full of beautiful ghosts; marbles just retaining
a reminiscence of exquisite form, all corroded by the sea and
encrusted with shells - rather horribly suggestive of decay. One
exactly like the Farnese Hercules. Then the Hermes, the surface of
the bronze almost uninjured - eternally lovely, with the exquisite turn of
the head and the lifted arm which the Olympian Hercules lacks. He
was lying on a sloping couch of wood and plaster undergoing repair.
The enamel quite clear in the eyes. Also a lovely bearded Jove
head with enamelled eyes, life size, and 3 small bronzes very
beautiful, and some hands, one with a fighting weapon strapped on it
and some buskined feet. The marble of the man stooping to strike,
half perfect, half corroded as if by some horrible leprosy. Also a
marble statue of which the head was almost perfect. Then to the
theatre of Dionysus, looking more exquisite in the morning sun than
anything that can be seen in the world. I sat in the armed seat and
basked in the beauty of it. And then up to the Acropolis, all white and
gold with a blue sky and a blue sea and a white town below, the
loveliest of temples. The great facade of the Parthenon is after all the
grandest thing that remains of ancient art, as the Erectheum is the
most graceful. Onto the Pnyx for the view and then down to the T of
Theseus where I eat oranges on the steps and so to my train at the
Theseus station. Met a party from the boat in it who presented me
with a great bunch of Parma violets. Back at 12.30 and lunched with
the Commandant of the Stationnaire with whom I had a long talk on
religion. He's a dear. A young English soldier has come on board -
on his way home from India. With him I talked. Reread Ulysses sitting
in the sun on the upper deck - with much emotion - and wrote to Mr
Coloni. Off at 4. Cloudy. Lots of islands. Amusing dinner with an
inspector of the MM.

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