45§ PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
interlacing compartments, a most intricate and beautiful design. Some of the slabs are
sixteen feet square, and are nearly five feet in thickness. This temple, known to the Arabs
as Dar es Sa'adeh, or " Court of Happiness," and generally known as the Temple of
the Sun, was two hundred and twenty-five feet in length, including the colonnades, and its
breadth about one hundred and twenty (see page 455). The cella, or temple proper, was one
hundred and sixty feet long by eighty-five feet broad, surrounded by the magnificent peristyle
of fifteen columns on each side and eight at each end, counting the corner columns both ways.
At the eastern end was an inside row of six fluted Corinthian columns, and an additional
column on each side opposite the north and south walls of the cella, which are extended to
form the vestibule. Four columns only remain perfect of this magnificent portico, those of the
south-east angle (see page 469). The frieze and cornice above these four columns are most
beautiful. A battlemented tower was built over them by the Muslims, who also barbarously
raised a huge wall directly in front of the great gate of the temple; but this wall was
demolished by Mr. Barker, C.E., in July, 1870, by order of the late Rashid Pasha, who was
then Governor-General of Syria.
Climbing over heaps of ruins, we find ourselves in an open space east of the temple, and
turning westward we behold that architectural gem, the celebrated portal of the temple (see
page 464). Every ornament that could be introduced into Corinthian architecture is lavished
on this portal, and yet it is perfectly light and graceful. It is twenty-one feet in width and
forty-two feet high. It is composed of nine great stones, six forming the jambs and three the
lintel. Each of these stones is of enormous dimensions. When I visited Ba'albek, in 1856, the
central block or keystone of the lintel, weighing some sixty tons, had slipped down about two
feet. When Pococke and Wood sketched the ruins this portal was in a perfect state, but in
the earthquake of 1759 a.d. it sunk down between the two others. It is now supported by a
pillar of rough masonry which entirely covers the body of the eagle carved on the soffit. He
holds a caduceus, or Mercury's wand, in his talons, and in his beak the strings of long garlands
extending each way, and having the ends supported by flying genii. This eagle is crested, and
hence is not the Roman eagle, but is supposed to be the Oriental eagle consecrated to the sun.
The ornamentation around the portal is the most elaborate known in all the range of Corinthian
architecture. Not only the architrave but the frieze and the cornice are profusely decorated.
There are ears of corn, grapes, and vine leaves, while genii lurk among the leaves in the lower
compartments, formed by the intertwining vine, though all are sadly marred by barbarian hands.
The surviving scroll on the right is a gem in itself The interior of the cella is divided into
two parts, the nave measuring ninety-eight feet by sixty-seven, and the sanctum, or adytum,
occupying thirty-six feet of the west end. It has no windows or apertures for light. High
authorities have doubted whether it ever had a roof, but the immense mass of debris in the
interior would indicate that the roof had fallen in, and there are mortices nearly a foot square
over the pilasters, which would imply the existence of beams across the cella at some time in
the past. Moreover, the coins on which both this temple and the temple of Jupiter are figured