« ForrigeFortsæt »
The Secular Games of the Republic were mysterious rites celebrated once every hundred years amidst circumstances of awe and dread. The gods worshipped were the gods of Hell, Dis and his consort Proserpine; the sacrifices were animals black in colour; the time was three successive midnights. Games also were held, and hence the title “Ludi Sæculares. We need not here inquire the origin of this strange and gloomy ceremonial : it was a real thing, and it concerns us because it fell due in B.c. 49. The celebration was never achieved ; instead, Cæsar crossed the Rubicon. But when Augustus was firmly established he determined to consecrate his new rule by a great religious festival, and the court lawyers readily invented for him a new series of Secular Games, which would fall due for celebration in B.c. 17. Accordingly in that year he held the games, and Horace wrote a Secular Ode. The official record of the ritual was inscribed on stone and set up where the games were held, in the Campus Martius, not far from the Ponte San Angelo. There, in 1891, it was found by a lucky chance, broken but intelligible. As we read it, we see clearly how the games were intended, by a series of subtle changes from the old order, to signify not only the continuance of an old order, but the commencement of a new one. Dis and Proserpine disappear : in their stead, the Fates and the Ilithyiæ and the Earth-goddess are worshipped for three nights, while Jupiter and Juno, Apollo and Diana, gods of the bright heaven, are worshipped for three days.
The worshippers, too, are not the old limited circle of citizens. Now every free man may come with wife and child, and at the word we begin to scent far off the dawn of the day when Roman and provincial were to be one and equal. And, lastly, the presiding priest is no longer the consul; there is no mention of Republican magistrates throughout. Instead, Augustus, with his colleague Agrippa, performs the sacrifices, and he prays significantly enough, not only for the people of Rome, but also for the legions of which he was supreme commander. It is likely enough that the Festival had a real religious meaning for Augustus, just as much as for the mass of common persons. Yet in its details, if anywhere, we seem to catch a glimpse at the statecraft of that strange man, so clearsighted, so subtle, so adaptive, so willing to seem to do nothing, and therefore so impersonal, intangible, almost ineffective, and yet so colossal in his achievements.
By the side of this great inscription other finds sink into seeming insignificance, and indeed most of those which we could quote here are details of the kind to which we have already alluded. Some of them are interesting, because they concern buildings which everyone knows, if not on the spot, at least in photograph or picture. Thus it is interesting to know that the Arch of Severus in the Forum was never intended to span a road. The foundations have lately been cleared and show plainly enough that Severus, at least, never intended that anyone should drive through it. In fact the Arch is a mere plagiarism of earlier Arches, taken out of its context, and as such it is a characteristic specimen of what art was in the age of Severus, at the opening of the third century. Huge buildings were then constructed with considerable engineering and mechanical skill like the Baths of Caracalla, so well treated lately by M. Huelsen. But the essential principles of art had been forgotten, and so an Arch could be set up by itself, without any respect for its architectural meaning.
Again, it is interesting to know how the Romans came to build such tombs as the Pyramid of Cestius, close to the Protestant Cemetery and the Porta S. Paolo, or the great round tomb of Cæcilia Metella on the Appian Way, or its less perfect but more curious parallel, the tomb of Pætus and Polla on the Salarian Way. The Pyramid of Cestius is Egyptian. It is one of the many marks of Alexandrian or, as it is better called, Greco-Egyptian influence on firstcentury Rome. You may see these influences everywhere, in the mosaic pavements with pictures of Nile scenes, crocodiles, and the rest, or in the jewellery, or in numerous other things. In literature and in administrative details the same influences have been traced, perhaps too enthusiastically. In art they are real, and their reality is becoming gradually recognised. The round tombs of Metella and Polla, on the other hand, are of native origin. Our increasing knowledge of Etruscan and other tombs has taught us that they have grown out of the simple mound of earth. A low containingwall of stone was first built to support that mound; then by degrees the mound grew smaller and the wall grew larger in successive instances, till at last, in the age of Augustus or perhaps before it, a magnitude was reached by Metella's tomb which fitted it to become subsequently the mediæval fortress of a Roman noble.
Our readers may ask one further question : Has recent research in Rome thrown fresh light on the early history of Christianity? The reply must be mainly a negative. No successor has come forward to continue the work of De Rossi, and the last decade has yielded only disconnected details, One bold conjecture, made two years ago, attracted some newspaper notice and speedily proved a fiasco. It is worth mentioning as a warning to those who find traces of Christianity everywhere and anywhere. The name of the conjecturer need not be repeated ; his conjecture was that some scratches in the wall plaster of a cellar on the Palatine represented the Crucifixion. The scratches were examined by others : they proved to represent rope-dancers, and everyone but the conjecturer smiled.
We will conclude with some remarks on another subject, which is very pertinent to this article. We had occasion to observe above that no important work had been written recently on Ancient Rome by any Englishman. We might perhaps have mentioned the late Professor Middleton's * Ancient Rome,' issued in 1892, but that was in itself rather an expansion and revision of an earlier work, and it seemed best, for various reasons, to exclude it from our survey. Since 1892 our country has contributed nothing in the way of criticism, though there is hope of something in the future from one young Oxford scholar. A proposal has, however, already been made to attract English students to Rome, and to help them while there, by establishing a British School in Rome parallel to the British School at Athens. We should like to express our approval of that scheme. The school at Athens has now been in existence for thirteen years, and, despite various troubles, has won for itself, as its promoters claim, an honourable place among archæological establishments and has merited a grant from our Government. A similar school in Rome might prove even more useful. It would assist and direct young students from our Universities, it would form a centre for any older workers who might appear, and it would probably be found helpful by educated visitors to Rome who desired to make their conceptions more scholarly and precise. Probably, and indeed almost certainly, it would not confine itself to classical archæology ; it would take account duly of mediæval interests, but with those we are not here concerned. Its machinery would be simple—a Director who could take rank as an authority on some part or other of his wide field, a library for readers, and a centre where inquirers could meet. The scheme, as it appears to us, appeals, like Rome itself, to many minds with various interests. We return to the consideration with which we opened this article. The magic of Rome draws us all. There can be no higher testimony advanced in support of a British School there than it will help us towards a right understanding of the Eternal City.
ART. VI. -1. Anglo-Venezuelan Arbitration Commission :
British Case, Counter-case, and Argument. 3 vols. Appendices to the Case and Counter-case on behalf of the Government of Her Britannic Majesty, 6 vols. Maps and Index annexed to the British Case and Counter-case,
3 vols. London : 1898. 2. Venezuela-British Guiana Boundary Arbitration : Docu
ments submitted to the Boundary Commission of the United States. 4 vols. Report of the United States Commission, 3 vols. Venezuelan Case, Counter-case, and Argument, 5 vols. Appendices to the Case and Counter-case of the United States of Venezuela, 4 vols. Maps annexed to the Venezuelan Case and Counter-case, 2 vols. New
York: 1896 to 1898. 3. Arbitration between the Governments of Her Britannic
Majesty and the United States of Venezuela. Proceedings.
fully closed, a long-standing dispute. The rights and wrongs of the parties have been settled, and both nations, without uncertainty—that bane of territorial improvementcan now develope their resources as they choose within the lands assigned to them. A chapter of friction, annoyance, complaint, and interference is closed in the pages of history. The immense masses of documents, the rights of Spaniards and Dutch, the meaning of clauses in the Treaty of Münster, Utrecht, or London, will no longer afford food for argument. The decision has been given, the incident is at an end. The libraries and museums of the world will collect copies of the appendices and proceedings, and possibly no one will open them except some energetic student of quaint colonial history or of the almost untouched field of the Spanish State documents and the great Empire of Spain, or some curious lawyer wondering with amaze at the herculean labours of the Attorney-General for England and his colleagues in a past century. The audacity of the Venezuelan claim, demanding all the territory up to the very banks of the Essequibo, may be admired by statesmen, and the yielding manners of Great Britain in answer to the 'friendly offices' of politicians who had assumed in their despatches an attitude very much akin to hostility may be wondered at. But no student of light literature can read fifty-five days of close argument delivered in a court before which no counsel
could have spoken without a thorough knowledge of a vast array of facts, or argued without being prepared to reply to questions on most difficult and delicate points of international law. The weight of material is too heavy, the majority of it is too technical, the different settings or framework in which the facts or deductions of facts were placed are too varied.
The documents on which the speeches are founded will doubtless form a mine of wealth from which historians can draw material for many subjects, and the admirable index appended to the British Case will afford aid to any person desiring light upon many matters not intimately connected with the exact line of boundary. No collection has ever yet been made which so clearly shows the dilatory principles on which the Government of the Spanish Empire was conducted, or the method inaugurated by Philip II., and carried almost without change by his lax successors. The keen personal interest of the Spanish monarchs in the progress of the Catholic Church and the efforts of Jesuit, Franciscan, and Capuchin missionaries stands out in bold relief. The Spaniards themselves in tbeir own words and in confidential reports describe their early voyages, and even the journeys of Sir Walter Raleigh. The silver fleet, the registered ships from Spain, the close policy of protection which in theory excluded the Dutch, but fostered in fact a huge smuggling system, the harsh treatment of the natives, all are frequently mentioned in these volumes, and point to the methods of trade and empire pursued by Spain. On reading these original papers no one can doubt the pride and bravery of her sons from century to century, and, it must be added, no one can doubt the want of scruple with which many enterprises were conducted. The history of the Project of Para, a secret alliance between Spain and Portugal to oust the Dutch in 1750, is a salient instance, as well as the instructions given to the Spanish envoys at the time of the Treaty of Münster, and the schemes for further advance towards the Dutch settlements recrudescing from time to time during the eighteenth century. Even Sir Benjamin Keene, the British ambassador at the court of Ferdinand VI., would have been still more amazed at the methods of Spanish and Portuguese ministers if he had known that in a time of perfect peace the Governments of His Catholic Majesty and the Most Faithful King had arranged to drive the Dutch from Guiana by an alliance with revolted negroes through Spanish