Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) became Bishop of Lincoln in 1868. An excellent classical scholar and the author of numerous theological works, he visited Greece during 1832-1833 and was the first British citizen to be received by King Otto (Othon). His two most memorable works, "Athens and Attica... and Greece, pictorial, descriptive…", are written in a style authoritative since the seventeenth century but free of the pretentiousness of those erudite works in which mythology, observations on contemporary geography and demography, scholarly comments and observations made on the spot are mixed in a hazy manner. A tireless investigator, Wordsworth gives us rigorous descriptions, especially of archaeological sites, makes frequent references to classical authors and enthusiastically records what he sees around him. For all these reasons, his work was an immediate success.
Following Hesiod's itinerary, from the Euripus on to Oropos and Rhamnus, Wordsworth arrived at Athens in October 1832. He combined his archaeological investigations with his interest in the political and social situation of contemporary Greece. The outcome was a detailed travel guide to the recently inaugurated capital city, as well as to Attica (Oropos, Tanagra, Aphidnae, Rhamnus, Marathon, Sounion, Thoricus, Hymettus, etc.) to Salamis and Aegina. Wordsworth adresses his work chiefly to the British public, which, as he writes, is familiar with ancient Greek literature. He also refers to the well-written texts on the same region by W.M. Leake and R. Cockerell. The pairing of locations with ancient place names found in ancient texts is extremely interesting and shows the solid theoretical and empirical knowledge that the traveller-author had acquired. Wordsworth is a good example of those cultivated travellers who looked to Greece for emotions equal to their intellectual sensitivity. We cite indicatively examples of locations paired with references to ancient authors: Chalcis with Hesiod, Aulis with Plutarch, Tanagra with Pausanias, Cithaeron with Euripides, Oropos with Strabo and Arrian, the Clepsydra with Aeschylus and Euripides, the Theatre with Plato, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, the Acropolis with Euripides.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou