History of the American School 1882-1942 - Appendix I

A History of the American School of Classical Studies, 1882-1942

Appendix I: The First Year of the School at Athens, by Harold N. Fowler

Fowler was a teacher at Harvard, Professor at Phillips Exeter Academy, at the University of Texas and at Western Reserve University, Consultant in Classical Literature in the Library of Congress and Professor at the School 1903–1904 and 1924–1925, and Chairman of the Committee on Fellowships, 1904–1917.

One Sunday in the spring of 1879 I was dining, as I did about every other Sunday, at the house of the Misses Ashburner on Kirkland Street in Cambridge, when Professor Charles Eliot Norton came in with an armful of circulars and envelopes to be addressed, so his two eldest daughters, his sister-in-law, Miss Theodora Sedgwick, and I set to work and addressed them. The circulars were to be sent out to invite those who received them to join in founding the Archaeological Institute of America. A school at Athens was not explicitly mentioned in the circular but was in Mr. Norton’s mind from the first, and the School was organized, with Professor John Williams White as Chairman of the Managing Committee, as early as 1881. It was assumed that men would receive training at the School and that excavations would be carried on by the Institute.

In June of 1882 I called at Professor Norton’s house to register as a member of the School at Athens, and he greeted my announcement with the words, “Harold, you are the first one to register.” I reached Athens shortly before the first of October, 1882, and in a few weeks the School was ready for work. The Director for the year (the only official of the School) was Professor William Watson Goodwin, of Harvard, who was accompanied by his newly wedded second wife, his sixteen-year-old son Charley, and a friend of Charley’s a year older than he, Ezra Thayer, who was afterwards Dean of the Harvard Law School. Before I reached Athens, Mr. Goodwin had rented a place for the School and had ordered shelves for the books, which arrived early in October. The books were not very many but were well selected. The place was in a large house almost directly across the street from Hadrian’s Gate. A well lighted room, at least thirty feet long, was devoted to the School, and the rest of the second floor was occupied by Professor Goodwin and his family. In the large room were bookshelves, chairs and a large table.

The members of the School were all there by the middle of October except Louis Bevier, who came in December and was not listed as a regular member. He was afterwards Professor of Greek and Dean at Rutgers College. The regular members were: John M. Crow, afterwards Professor at Iowa College; Frank E. Woodruff, later Professor at Bowdoin College; Paul Shorey, who was later Professor at Bryn Mawr and Chicago and the most brilliant scholar of his generation; J. R. Sitlington Sterrett, Ph.D. of Munich, afterwards Professor at Miami University, the University of Texas, Amherst College, and Cornell University; Franklin H. Taylor, who had finished his junior year at Wesleyan University; James Rignall Wheeler, afterwards Professor at the University of Vermont and Columbia University, Annual Professor of the School in 1892–1893 and Chairman of the Managing Committee 1901–1918; and I. Of us all, Sterrett was the only one who had any real knowledge of archaeology. Crow and Woodruff had been studying in Germany but had, I believe, heard no lectures on archaeological subjects, and what little knowledge I had had come from Professor Norton’s lectures on the history of art and my own reading. Professor Goodwin was no archaeologist. We students lodged in such rooms as we could find and took our meals in restaurants. Wheeler was married, and he and Mrs. Wheeler lodged in a small hotel till the middle of the year. I had room and breakfast at the house of Frau Wilberg, widow of a former German consul general who had founded the only foreign book store in Athens. That house was near the church of the Saints Demetrios. Where the others lodged I do not remember.

One evening not long after the middle of October, Shorey and I were in Wheeler’s room, and we all fell to talking about the School. Wheeler and I were already reading Greek tragedies together, and no doubt the other members were doing some sort of work, but the School as an institution was inactive. Dr. Dörpfeld, then a young man not much older than we were, had already in the previous year or two lectured before the monuments of Athens but had announced that he was not going to do so that year, so I suggested that we Americans do it for ourselves, that each of us choose something to talk about, work up his subject, collect the members of the School and talk to them on the spot, then read a paper at the School. Shorey and Wheeler thought that was a good plan, so I saw the other members of the School, and all agreed to join us. Then Wheeler and I asked Mr. Goodwin to preside at our meetings and to present a paper himself. He greeted our request with the words, “That’s just what I’ve been waiting for!”

The first result of all this was a delightful picnic at Salamis. The Goodwins provided the food, so it was plentiful, excellent and well served. We looked over the scene of the battle, and not many days later Mr. Goodwin read his paper on the Battle of Salamis at an evening meeting of the School. We had many such meetings—I think about two each month until spring. My two papers were on the Erechtheum and the Battle of Marathon, Taylor’s was on the Temple of Athena Nike, Crow’s was on the Pnyx, and in connection with this he obtained a permit and dug a trench—the first excavation conducted under the auspices of the School. Wheeler wrote on the Dionysiac Theatre, and Bevier on the Olympieum. I do not remember the subjects of the other papers. At these meetings some guests were always present, among them almost always Dr. Schliemann and the American minister, Eugene Schuyler. The first volume of the Papers of the American School at Athens is made up of some of the essays read at those meetings with the addition of some inscriptions from Asia Minor which Sterrett collected and edited. A few years later I was told by Professor White that Salomon Reinach, the most distinguished French archaeologist of the time, told him that the first book he recommended to any French student who was going to Athens was Volume I of the Papers of the American School. Not bad for a set of essays written for the most part by novices! In the autumn while the weather was good we made excursions to Peiraeus, Phaleron and other places within walking distance. The population of Athens and Peiraeus is now (or was before the war) ten times as great as it was then, so we looked for remains of the long walls and other relics of antiquity in open fields where now are streets and houses. In the late autumn and the winter there was a monthly meeting at which Mr. Goodwin translated Aeschylus to us, after which Mrs. Goodwin served tea.

Members of the School took long walks and even journeys. Once several of us, with Mr. Sampson, a missionary and agent of the Bible Society, walked up to the top of Mt. Hymettus, probably by way of Kaisariane, and came down by the end nearest the sea. A man gave us water from a pig skin and asked us where we came from. When we said, “From America,” he asked, “Is that a Turkish village?” Once I walked to Spata and back with Ezra Thayer, and I walked also to Daphni and Menidi. Late in the spring I drove, with Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin and Mrs. Schuyler, to Laurium, where the director of the French mining company entertained us lavishly. We saw the mines and also Sunium. In the Christmas holidays I took a trip in the Argolid with Wheeler, Fritz Baumgarten (Ph.D. of Bonn), who was tutor to the Wilberg boys and therefore lived in the same house as I, and Dr. Schneider, a teacher in a school in Berlin. We went by sea to Nauplia, and visited Tiryns, Epidaurus, Mycenae, Nemea, and Argos. In February I had another trip, this time with Dr. Schneider, a Dr. Wendeland, and Fritz Wilberg. We drove to Kephissia and walked to Marathona by way of Stamata and the slopes of Pentelicus, visited the field of Marathon, Rhamnus, Oropos (only the port, not the temple of Amphiarus, where nothing was then to be seen), Schimatari (Tanagra), and Tatoi (Decelea).

Late in February, Allan Marquand, whom I had known at Johns Hopkins University, and Allen Curtis (afterwards for many years Treasurer of the School) spent a day or two in Athens, and late in March I went with Curtis to Sicily, arriving at Catania on Easter morning. I was in Sicily thirteen days, visiting Catania, Taormina, Messina, Syracuse, Palozzolo (Akrai), Girgenti, Palermo, Segesta, and Selinus. When I came back to Athens, only Shorey and the Wheelers were there, as all the others were off on trips, Sterrett even as far as Asia Minor. Wheeler and I went by steamer (crossing the Isthmus of Corinth in a carriage) to Katakolo and by train to Pyrgos. That bit of railway was all there was in Greece, except the line from Peiraeus to Athens. From Pyrgos to Olympia we walked on a good road, which, like the railway, had been built by the Germans. At Olympia we found Dr. and Mrs. Dörpfeld, Dr. Schneider, Professor Schwabe of Tübingen, and a Herr Siebold. We spent two days at Olympia and saw everything fairly well. There was no hotel then, but we were accommodated after a fashion in a house which had been used by the excavators. The Apollo from the west pediment of the temple of Zeus and the Hermes were standing upright, tied with ropes to stakes set in the ground. The Nike of Paeonius was lying on the floor of a shed. When we left Olympia Dr. Schneider went with us, and we had horses. We went to Samikon, Bassae, Messene, Kalamata, over the Langadha pass (where we met the Goodwins and their party) to Sparta, then to Megalopolis, Tripolitza, Tegea, Mantinea, Argos, and Nauplia, which we reached on Good Friday, for the Greek Easter was five weeks later than the Roman Easter that year—the maximum difference. We went back to Athens the day after Easter, and very soon I set out again, this time alone. I had planned to hire a sailboat to carry me from Corinth to Itea, but found that too expensive, so waited for a steamer. I visited Old Corinth, Acrocorinth, and the theatre of Sicyon. In Corinth I shared a room with a young Frenchman, an engineer engaged in cutting the canal through the Isthmus. When the steamer came, I went in it to Itea and walked to Delphi, or rather Kastri, which stood where the excavated area now is. Thence I rode a horse to Arachova, Daulis, Chaeroneia, Orchomenus, Lebadeia, Thespiae, Leuctra, Plataea, Eleutherae, and Thebes. There I took the night coach to Athens. A few days later a party of us drove to the monastery of Mendeli and climbed to the top of Mt. Pentelicus, and at some time that spring Professor Sayce of Oxford and Professor W. M. Ramsay were in Athens, and some of us drove to Eleusis. There Mrs. Goodwin wanted an apron which a woman had on, so I asked for it in Greek. The only answer I received was, “Albanitika.” Menidi was also an Albanian village, and at one of the villages we passed in our trip in February only Albanian was spoken. Now all citizens of Greece have been taught in the public schools to speak Greek. At some time during the year a large party of us went to Phyle, driving as far as we could, then walking or riding.

I have mentioned all these trips and journeys to show what we students did and how we did it. I was the only one who went to Sicily, and I think I did more travelling in Greece than any of the others, but Sterrett travelled in the interior of Asia Minor. When I left Greece in June, I went, with Baumgarten, to Mykonos, Delos, Syra, Smyrna, Ephesus, Magnesia ad Sipylum, Sardis, Pergamon, Mytilene, Assos, Alexandria Troas, Neandreia, Bunarbaschi, Ilium (Hissarlik), Dardanelles, Constantinople, up the Danube from Rustschuk to Basiash, to Budapest and Vienna. I was the only member of the School who did all that, but the others came away by other routes.

There was quite a little social life in Athens for us that year. Mrs. Goodwin was very good about giving us tea and the like. I dined often with the Goodwins, as I was teaching the boys Greek, Latin, and German, so was much in the house. Ezra and I made a catalogue of the School library. There were two court balls, both of which some of us attended, the Schliemanns gave a ball, some of us dined occasionally at the Schuylers’, and I recall at least one afternoon tea there. There were several Americans in Athens for long stays, and we knew all of them. Francis H. Bacon spent a good part of the winter there, and Joseph T. Clarke was there for a shorter time. Woodruff’s fiancée came down from Germany, and they were married in Athens, after which they lived with the Sampsons until the Sampsons went away, and the Wheelers took over their house. Then the Wheelers and the Woodruffs were together. Throughout the year we used to gather in that house Sunday evenings, when we sang hymns and other things, chiefly German student songs. Two of the Misses Calvert from Dardanelles visited the Goodwins for several weeks in the winter, Miss Maud Banks (who became a capable actress) and Shorey spent some pleasant evenings on the Acropolis, and some of the younger diplomats were agreeable people to know. Wheeler and I attended one or two festive gatherings of the Germans, and we all had very pleasant relations with Dr. Kalopothakis and his family. Some, perhaps most, of us often went to hear Dr. Kalopothakis preach, partly at least because it was good for our modern Greek.

I should have said, when I mentioned the School Library, that whenever one of us needed books which the School did not possess, he was free to use the books in the library of the German Institute. For a short time Shorey went to the French school, until he was told to do so no longer.

We did a good deal of work and, some of us at any rate, a good deal of travelling, but most of us had a pretty good time in other ways also. We were not prepared for work in Greece as students are prepared nowadays, but we absorbed a good deal of knowledge, much of which, and more, we passed on later to others.