Flashes as of lightning shot from each side of a galley as she was being rowed into port. She was a bireme, that is to say, had two tiers of oars; and as simultaneously the double sets were lifted, held for a moment suspended, wet with brine, feathered, and again dipped, every single blade gleamed, reflecting the declining western sun, and together formed a flash from each side of the vessel of a sheaf of rays.
The bireme was approaching the entrance to the harbor of Cenchræa.
The one white sail was filled with what little wind breathed, and it shone against a sapphire sea like a moon.
Now, at a signal the oars ceased to plunge. The sail was furled, and the galley was carried into the harbor between the temple that stood on the northern horn of the mole, and the great brazen statue of Posei don that occupied a rock in the midst of the entrance, driven forward by the impulse already given her by the muscles of the rowers and the east wind in the sail.
This Cenchræan harbor into which she swept was one of the busiest in the world. Through it as through a tidal sluice rushed the current of trade from the East to the West, and from the Occident to the Orient. It was planted on a bay of the Saronic Gulf, and on the Isthmus of Corinth, at the foot of that lovely range of mountains thrown up by the hand of God to wall off the Peloponnesus as the shrine of intellectual culture and the sanctuary of Liberty.