Online Encyclopedia

HELICON

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 222 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HELICON, a mountain range, of Boeotia in ancient Greece, celebrated in classical literature as the favourite haunt of the Muses, is situated between Lake Copals and the Gulf of Corinth. On the fertile eastern slopes stood a temple and grove sacred to the Muses, and adorned with beautiful statues, which, taken by Constantine the Great to beautify his new city, were consumed there by a fire in A.D. 404. Hard by were the famous fountains, Aganippe and Hippocrene, the latter fabled to have gushed from the earth at the tread of the winged horse Pegasus, whose favourite browsing place was there. At the neighbouring Ascra dwelt the poet Hesiod, a fact which probably enhanced the poetic fame of the region. Pausanias, who describes Helicon in his ninth hook, asserts that it was the most fertile mountain in Greece, and that neither poisonous plant nor serpent was to be found on it, while many of its herbs possessed a miraculous healing virtue. The highest summit, the present Palaeovouni (old hill), rises to the height of about 5000 ft. Modern travellers, aided by ancient remains and inscriptions, and guided by the local descriptions of Pausanias, have succeeded in identifying many of the ancient classical spots, and the French excavators have discovered the temple of the Muses and a theatre. 1 The term Volkssdnger, commonly used in German discussions of this question, is misleading; the audience for heroic poetry was not " the people " in the modern sense, but the nobles. See also Clarke, Travels in Various Countries (vol. vii., 1818); Dodwell, Classical and Topographical Tour through Greece (1818); W. M. Leake, Travels in Northern Greece (vol. ii., 1835) ; J. G. Frazer's edition of Pausanias, v. 150.
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