JULY 14, 1953
CORINTH, Greece—Early this morning I stepped out on my balcony at the Bourdgi hotel and the sea looked beautifully calm with only two fishing boats out in the offing. I knew it was still very early so I carefully read our borrowed guide which we have to return tomorrow to Miss Alison Frantz of the American Archaeological research group. Curiously enough, one cannot buy a good guide book in Athens, so I was grateful for a French Petit Bleu, even though it was several years old. It served us well on this trip. Without, however, having someone who really has done part of the excavations and can tell you all about them, I find the ruins much harder to understand and appreciate even with the guide book.
As soon as I had finished reading I got up this morning and dressed. Then I took the first draft of an article I am writing and found the path around our picturesque little hotel where I sat on the wall over the water with the mountains rising out of the sea opposite me and corrected my article.
Incidentally, the origin of this little castle, which is now a hotel, is not such a happy one. It was once a prison and the executioners were so unpopular they lived here as a protection. The poor people who were going to be executed were taken to the mainland where they could go to church and make their last confession. Then they were brought back to be executed. So it is known as the island of the executioners. The cells are now all made into nice little rooms with little circular balconies and there is only one path around the castle which doesn't actually go the whole way around.
We had our breakfast table in what must have been the first security yard as the prisoners were brought in. It now has a few flowers in the center and looks quite gay and cheerful.
By nine thirty we were on our way to Epidaurus. There we climbed up to the top of the theatre which is one of the most beautifully preserved and perfect which I have seen. It seated 14,000 people and they told me that if the actors stood on the middle of the stage their voices could be heard up in the very top seats without any effort.
We visited the museum and then walked some distance around the excavations but it was difficult to tell from the guide book just what we were seeing and the guide who accompanied us spoke very little French or English, so we were not very successful in getting much information.
We rejoined our car further down the road and drove back through Nauplia to Tiryn.
The thing which impressed me most here was the width of the walls. The legend is that the Cyclops brought the huge stones from a neighboring mountain. Our guide, however, smiled and admitted that slaves had done the work.
What didn't slaves do in those days? They manned the oars of those huge triremes which sailed so many seas, they did all the heavy work of these many, many buildings which you now see in ruins.
One can't fail to be surprised in looking at these ruins how thoroughly the destruction was done when it must have been so hard to do.
After a rather brief visit in Tiryn we went on to Mycenae which is worthy of another day, I think.