DODWELL, Edward. A classical and topographical tour through Greece, during the years 1801, 1805, and 1806, vol. Ι, London, Rodwell and Martin, 1819.
The archaeologist and painter Edward Dodwell (1767-1832) was born in Dublin to an ancient and wealthy Irish family, and studied Classics and Archaeology at Trinity College Cambridge. Being in possession of a large fortune and free from professional commitments, he dedicated himself to the study of Mediterranean cultures.
In 1801 he sailed to the Ionian Islands and the Troad with Atkins and the well-known traveller William Gell. In 1805 he visited continental Greece in the company of the painter Simone Pomardi. He subsequently lived in Naples and Rome, and married a woman thirty years his junior. He was a distinguished member of various European cultural societies. While exploring the mountains of Italy in 1832, Dodwell fell ill and died. His large archaeological collection, of coins, 115 bronzes and 143 vases, kept for a time in his house in Rome, was later sold to the Munich Glyptothek.
A prolific writer and a proficient artist, Dodwell reveals in his entire oeuvre, unique for his era, the multifaceted talent of an archaeologist with a thirst for knowledge, a critical spirit and aesthetic sensitivity. He conveys for the first time the actual discovery of a place, the journey becoming a way of exploring and reading the landscape, in which monuments, history, contemporary people and well-documented information each find their place.
The journey related in the two volumes of this edition, rich in archaeological and topographical material, also includes an immense wealth of information on Greek public and domestic life during the years before the War of Independence. Dodwell departed from Venice at the end of April 1801, with an intelligent educated Greek from Santorini, whom he had met in Italy, as his interpreter. Within a month, sailing across the Adriatic, he arrived with his companions at Corfu, which was then under Russian-Turkish occupation. He continued his journey on to Paxi, Parga and Leucas and wrote about the ruins, the products, the villages and Cape Leucata, from where, tradition had it, the poetess Sappho plunged into the abyss, devastated by her unrequited love for Phaon. Dodwell then crossed the straits to Preveza, where he visited the antiquities at Nicopolis, and then sailed to Ithaca, in search of more antiquities. He described the geography and economy of this island. He finally reached Cephalonia, thus completing his first journey in Greek territory, in the company of William Gell.
In 1805, in the company of painter Simone Pomardi, Dodwell voyaged from Messina in Sicily to Zacynthos, of which he described the villages, the population and the products. He then he sailed across to Missolonghi. He wrote on Ali Pasha’s extortions, the products peculiar to the region, the River Achelous and the Echinades islands. In continuation, Dodwell reached Patras, where he was accommodated by the consul Nicolaos Stranis, whose home was for many years as a meeting place for European visitors. While touring the city, he confirmed his theoretical knowledge on the environs and described in detail the urban tissue and architecture, for example stressing that Greek houses are whitewashed and Turkish houses painted red, as well as the economy, mentioning also the export products of the region. He visited the castle, the famous large cypress, the church of St Andrew and the holy-water source ("hagiasma"), of which he provides a view drawn by his companion Pomardi. He notes the presence of a number of black slaves in the town, where he tried moreover to obtain antiquities. In Patras, Dodwell once more sets himself the task of recreating historical memory. His route in the city highlights contemporary Greek reality, while the documentation he provides, both from ancient authors and testimonies of earlier travellers, defines the knowledge of the place.
Due to an epidemic in the Peloponnese at that time, Dodwell opted to travel to Athens via Naupactus, Galaxidi, where he watched the Carnival celebrations, and Amphissa, where he stayed at the house of a doctor from Cephalonia and visited the voevod. He climbed Parnassus, stopped over at Chrisos and lodged in the village of Castri, from where he visited the Castalian Spring and the few Delphic antiquities visible at the time. By way of Arachova and Distomo, Dodwell came to the oracle of Trophonius in Livadeia, and thence to other villages in Boeotia (Orchomenus, Aliartos, Thespiae). He arrived in Athens via Eleutherae and the plain of Eleusis on 26 March 1805, while Lord Elgin's crews were pillaging the sculptures of the Acropolis monuments.
Dodwell stayed in Athens until September of the same year, visiting virtually the whole of Attica (Penteli, Phyli, Acharnae, Kiphissia, Brauron, Porto Rafti, Thoricus, Laurium, Sounion, Piraeus), Aegina and Salamis. Apart from archaeological issues, he wrote also on the dances, music and games of the Greeks, as well as on insects and birds.
He made his way again to Thebes, Copais, and Thermopylae, visited Lamia, Stylis, Almyros, Volos and Pelion, recording every ancient city or remains he encountered on his way. He continued on to Larissa and Ambelakia, where he was impressed by the inhabitants’ high standard of living and refinement, as well as the cotton-dyeing industry.
Dodwell returned to Athens by crossing the Plain of Thessaly, touring Lilaia, Amphicleia, Phocis and Boeotia, and then Chalcis and Marathon. He stayed in Athens throughout the summer. In December 1805, Dodwell toured the Argolid and Corinthia, the monastery at Daphni, Eleusis of the ancient mysteries, Megara, the Isthmus of Corinth, the Acrocorinth, Cenchreae, Nemea and its vineyards, Argos with its acropolis and ancient theatre, Mycenae and the Treasury of Atreus, Tiryns and Nauplion, Epidaurus and the remains of the sanctuary of Asclepius, Troezen, Methana and Poros. Afterwards, on his way to Aegion, Dodwell passed through Sicyon and Xylocastro, staying in the inns on this route. From Patras he went to Olympia, arriving on 24 January 1806, after visiting all the villages of Achaea and Elis, which he describes in his text. He went to see the ruins of Messene, Megalopolis and Bassae, and ended up in Sparta at the end of February. He then crossed Arcadia and Achaea again, (Tegea, Tripolis, Mantineia, Orchomenos, Stymphalia, Pheneus, Calabryta, Mega Spilaion) and reached Patras, from where he sailed to the Ionian Islands in spring. He arrived in Rome on 18 September 1806.
The Appendix to the edition includes a list of name places in all their variations, a list of the main settlements on Cephalonia and Zakynthos, and in the region of Livadeia, Amphissa, Lamia and Thebes, a list of weights and measurements in usage in Greece, as well as ancient inscriptions from Corfu, Delphi, Phocis, Thespiae, Piraeus, Tenos and Lesbos, a list of musical instruments of Attica, a list of product prices in Athens, and a list of fruits and vegetables available during Dodwell’s sojourn in the city.
Dodwell himself drew about four hundred views of locations and monuments. Recently, dozens of his hitherto unknown drawings have been discovered and published. He made use of the "camera obscura" and attempted to combine the scientific documentation of ancient remains with artistic engravings. He accomplished this aim in all three of his published works, which became fundamental manuals for all subsequent travellers to Greece. Even today, these volumes are useful aids to archaeological research.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou