Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

support another. It was the same fear of the sudden termination of prosperity that made Amasis king of Egypt warn his friend Polycrates of Samos, that the gods loved those whose lives were chequered with good and evil fortunes. Nemesis was sup posed to lie in wait particularly for the prudent; that is, for those whose caution rendered them accessible only to mere accidents : and her first altar was raised on the banks of the Phrygian #sepus by Adrastus, probably the prince of that name who killed the son of Cresus by mistake. Hence the goddess was called Adrastea.*

The Roman Nemesis was sacred and august: there was a temple to her in the Palatine under the name of Rhamnusia :t so great indeed was the propensity of the ancients to trust to the revolution of events, and to believe in the divinity of Fortune, that in the same Palatine there was a temple to the Fortune of the day.f This is the last superstition which retains its hold over the human heart ; and, from concentrating in one object the credulity so natural to man, has always appeared strongest in those unembarrassed by other articles of belief. The antiquaries have supposed this gode dess to be synonymous with Fortune and with Fate ;8 but it was in her vindictive quality that she was worshipped under the name of Nemesis.

XXIX.

GLADIATORS.

He, their sire,
Butcher'd to make a Roman holiday.'

Stanza cxli. lines 6 and 7. Gladiators were of two kinds, compelled and voluntary; and were supplied from several conditions :- from slaves sold for that purpose; from culprits ; from varbarian captives either taken in war, and, after being led in triumph, set apart for the games, or those seized and condemned as rebels; also from free citizens, some fighting for hire (auctorati), others from a depraved ambition : at last even knights and senators were exhibited, - a disgrace of which the first tyrant was naturally the first inventor.|| In the end, dwarfs, and even women, fought ; an enormity prohibited by Severus. Of these the most to be pitied undoubtedly were the barbarian captives ; and to this species a Christian writer | justly applies the epithet “ innocent," to distinguish them from the professional gladiators." Aurelian and Claudius supplied great numbers of these unfortunate victims; the one after his triumph, and the other on the

* Dict. de Bayle, article Adrastea.
| It is enumerated by the regionary Victor.
| Fortunæ hujusce diei Cicero mentions her, de Legib.

§ DEAE NEMESI

SIVE FORTUNAE

PISTORIVS
RVGIANVS

V. C. LEGAT.
LEG, XIII. G.

CORD.

See Questiones Romanæ, &c. ap. Græv. Antiq. Roman. tom. v. p. 942, See also Muratori, Nov. Thesaur. Inscrip. Vet. tom. i, p. 88, 89, where there are three Latin and one Greek inscription to Nemesis, and others to Fate.

|| Julius Cæsar, who rose by the fall of the aristocracy, brought Furius Leptinus and A.-Calenus upon the arena.

1 Tertullian," certe quidem et innocentes gladiatores in ludum veniunt, et voluptatis publicæ hostiæ fiant.” Just. Lips Saturn. Sermon. lib. ii. cap. iii.

pretext of a rebellion.* No war, says Lipsius,f was ever so destructive to the human race as these sports. In spite of the laws of Constantine and Constans, gladiatorial shows survived the old established religion more than seventy years; but they owed their final extinction to the courage of a Christian. In the year 404, on the kalends of January, they were exhibiting the shows in the Flavian amphitheatre before the usual immense concourse of people. Almachius or Telemachus, an eastern monk, who had travelled to Rome intent on his holy purpose, rushed into the midst of the arena, and endeavoured to separate the combatants. The prætor Alypius, a person incredibly attached to these games,t gave instant orders to the gladiators to slay him; and 'Telemachus gained the crown of martyrdom, and the title of saint, which surely has never either before or since been awarded for a more noble exploit. Honorius immediately abolished the shows, which were never afterwards revived. The story is told by Theodoret 9 and Cassiodorus,ll and seems worthy of credit notwithstanding its place in the Roman martyrology. Besides the torrents of blood which flowed at the funerals, in the amphitheatres, the circus, the forums, and other public places, gladiators were introduced at feasts, and tore each other to pieces amidst the supper tables, to the great delight and applause of the guests. Yet Lipsius permits himself to suppose the loss of courage, and the evident degeneracy of mankind, to be nearly connected with the abolition of these bloody spectacles.**

XXX.

Here, where the Roman million's blame or praise
Was death or life, the playthings of a crowd.

Stanza cxlii, lines 5 and 6. When one gladiator wounded another, he shouted, " he has it," “ hoc habet," or “ habet.” The wounded combatant dropped his weapon, and advancing to the edge of the arena, supplicated the spectators. If he had fought well, the people saved him; if otherwise, or as they happened to be inclined, they iurned down their thumbs, and he was slain.' They were occasionally so savage that they were impatient if a combat lasted longer than ordinary without wounds or death." The emperor's presence generally saved the vanquished; and it is recorded as an instance of Caracalla’s ferocity, that he sent those who supplicated him for life, in a spectacle, at Nicomedia, to ask the people; in other words, handed them over to be slain. ' A similar ceremony is observed at the Spanish bull-fights. The magistrate presides ; and after the horsemen and piccadores have fought the bull, the matadore steps forward and bows to hinn for permission to kill the animal. If the bull has done his duty by killing two or three horses, or a man, which last is rare, the people interfere with shouts, the ladies wave their handkerchiefs, and the animal is saved. The wounds and death of the horses are accompanied with the loudest acclamations, and many gestures of delight, especially from the female portion of the audience, including

Vopiscus, in vit. Aurel. and in vit. Claud. ibid. † “ Credo imò scio nullum bellum tantam cladem vastitiemque generi humano intulisse, quam hos ad voluptatem ludos." Just. Lips. ibid. lib. i. cap. xii.

1 Augustinus (lib. vi, confess, cap. viii.). “ Alypium suum gladiatorii spectaculi inhiatu incredibiliter abreptum,” scribit. ib. lib. i. cap. xii.

§ His:. Eccles. cap. xxvi. lib. v.
# Cassiod, Tripartita, l. x. c. xi. Saturn. ib. ib.

1 Baronius, ad. ann. et in notis ad Martyrol. Rom. I. Jan. See - Marangoni delle memorie sacre e profane dell'Anfiteatro Flavio, p. 25. edit. 1746.

**" Quod ? non tu Lipsi momentum aliquod habuisse censes ad virtutem ? Magnum. Tempora nostra, nosque ipsos videamus. Oppidum ecce unum alterumve captum, direptum est; tumultus circa nos, non in nobis : et tamen concidimus et tur. bamur. Ubi robur, ubi tot per annos meditata sapientiæ studia ? ubi ille animus qui possit dicere, si fractus illabutur orbis ?.&c. ibid, lib, ii, cap. xxv.

The prototype of Mr. Windham's panegyric on bull-baiting.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

those of the gentlest blood. Every thing depends on habit. The author of Childe Harold, the writer of this note, and one or two other Englishmen, who have certainly in other days borne the sight of a pitched battle, were, during the summer of 1809, in the governor's box at the great amphitheatre of Santa Maria, opposite to Cadiz. The death of one or two horses completely satisfied their curiosity. A gentleman present, observing them shudder and look pale, noticed that unusual reception of so delightful a sport to some young ladies, who stared and smiled, and continued their applauses as another horse fell bleeding to the ground. One bull killed three horses off his own horns. He was saved by acclamations, which were redoubled when it was known he belonged to a priest.

An Englishman, who can be much pleased with seeing two men beat themselves to pieces, cannot bear to look at a horse galloping round an arena with his bowels trailing on the ground, and turns from the spectacle and the spectators with horror and disgust.

[ocr errors]

XXXI.

THE ALBAN HILL.

" And afar
The Tiber winds, and the broad ocean laves
The Latin coast,” &c. &c.

Stanza clxxiv. lines 2, 3, and 4.
The whole declivity of the Alban hill is of unrivalled beauty, and from the convent
on the highest point, which has succeeded to the temple of the Latian Jupiter, the
prospect embraces all the objects alluded to in the cited stanza; the Mediterranean;
the whole scene of the latter half of the Æneid, and the coast from beyond the
mouth of the Tiber to the headland of Circæum and the Cape of Terracina.

The site of Cicero's villa may be supposed either at the Grotta Ferrata, or at the Tusculum of Prince Lucien Buonaparte.

The former was thought some years ago the actual site, as may be seen from Middleton's Life of Cicero. At present it has lost something of its credit, except for the Domenichinos. Nine monks of the Greek order live there, and the adjoining villa is a cardinal's summer-house. The other villa, called Rufinella, is on the summit of the hill above Frascati, and many rich remains of Tusculum have been found there, besides seventy-two statues of different merit and preservation, and seven busts.

From the same eminence are seen the Sabine hills, embosomed in which lies the long valley of Rustica. There are several circumstances which tend to establish the identity of this valley with the “ Ustica" of Horace ; and it seems possible that the mosaic pavement which the peasants uncover by throwing up the earth of a vineyard may belong to his villa. Rustica is pronounced short, not according to our stress upon Ustice cubantis." - It is more rational to think that we are wrong than that the inhabitants of this secluded valley have changed their tone in this word. The addition of the consonant prefixed is nothing : yet it is necessary to be aware that Rustica may be a modern name which the peasants may have caught from the antiquaries.

The villa, or the mosaic, is in a vineyard on a knoll covered with chestnut trees. A stream runs down the valley, and although it is not true, as said in the guide books, that this stream is called Licenza, yet there is a village on a rock at the head of the valley which is so denominated, and which may have taken its name from the Digentia. Licenza contains 700 inhabitants. On a peak a little way beyond is Civitella, containing 300. On the banks of the Anio, a little before you turn up into Valle Rustica, to the left, about an hour from the villa, is a town called Vicovaro, another favourable coincidence with the Varia of the poet. At the end of the valley, towards the Anio, there is a bare hill, crowned with a little town called Bardela. At the foot of this hill the rivulet of Licenza flows, and is almost absorbed in a wide sandy bed before it reaches the Anio. Nothing can be more fortunate for the lines of the poet, whether in a metaphorical or direct sense :

“Me quotiens reficit gelidus Digentia rivus,

Quem Mandela bibit rugosus frigore pagus." The stream is clear high up the valley, but before it reaches the hill of Bardela looks green and yellow like a sulphur rivulet.

Rocca Giovane, a ruined village in the hills, half an hour's walk from the vine yard where the pavement is shown, does seem to be the site of the fane of Vacuna, and an inscription found there tells' that this temple of the Sabine Victory was ree paired by Vespasian. * With these helps, and a position corresponding exactly to every thing which the poet has told us of his retreat, we may feel tolerably secure of our site.

The hill which should be Lucretilis is called Campanile, and by following up the rivulet to the pretended Bandusia, you come to the roots of the higher mountain Gennaro. Singularly enough, the only spot of ploughed land in the whole valley is on the knoll where this Bandusia rises.

tu frigus amabile Fessis vomere tauris

Præbes, et pecori vago." The peasants show another spring near the mosaic pavement which they call " Oradina,” and which flows down the hills into a tank, or mill-dam, and thence trickles over into the Digentia. But we must not hope

“ To trace the Muses upwards to their spring,” by exploring the windings of the romantic valley in search of the Bandusian fountain, It seems strange that any one should have thought Bandusia a fountain of the Digentia - Horace has not let drop a word of it; and this immortal spring has in fact been discovered in possession of the holders of many good things in Italy, the monks. It was attached to the church of St. Gervais and Protais near Venusia, where it was most likely to be found. We shall not be so lucky as a late traveller in finding the occasional pine still pendent on the poetic villa. There is not a pine in the whole valley, but there are two cypresses, which he evidently took, or mistook, for the tree in the ode. The truth is, that the pine is now, as it was in the days of Virgil, a garden tree, and it was not at all likely to be found in the craggy acclivities of the valley of Rustica. Horace probably had one of them in the orchard close above his farm, immediately overshadowing his villa, not on the rocky heights at some distance from his abode. The tourist may have easily supposed himself to have seen this pine figured in the above cypresses; for the orange and lemon trees which throw such a bloom over his description of the royal gardens at Naples, unless they have been since displaced, were assuredly only acacias and other common garden shrubs.

XXXII.

EUSTACE'S CLASSICAL TOUR.

The extreme disappointment experienced by choosing the Classical Tourist as a guide in Italy must be allowed to find vent in a few observations, which, it is asserted

* JMP. CÆSAR VESPASIANVS
PONTIFEX MAXIMVS. TRIB,

POTEST. CENSOR. ÆDEM
VICTORIÆ. VETVSTATE ILLAPSAM.

SVA. IMPENSA. RESTITVIT.

† See - Historical Illustrations of the Fourth Canto, p. 43 | See — Classical Tour, &c. chap. vii. p. 250. vol. ii.

$ "Under our windows, and bordering on the beach, is the royal garden, laid out in parterres, and walks shaded by rows of orange trees.” Classical Tour, &c. chap. xi, vol. ii. oct. 365.

without fear of contradiction, will be confirmed by every one who has selected the same conductor through the same country. This author is in fact one of the most inaccurate, unsatisfactory writers that have in our times attained a temporary reputation, and is very seldom to be trusted even when he speaks of objects which he must presumed to have seen. His errors, from the simple exaggeration to the downright mis-statement, are so frequent as to induce a suspicion that he had either never visiied the spots described, or had trusted to the fidelity of former writers. Indeed the Classical 'Tour has every characteristic of a mere compilation of former notices, strung together upon a very slender thread of personal observation, and swelled out by those decorations which are so easily supplied by a systematic adoption of all the commonplaces of praise, applied to every thing, and therefore signifying nothing.

Tne style which one person thinks cloggy and cumbrous, and unsuitable, may be to the taste of others, and such may experience some salutary excitement in ploughing through the periods of the Classical Tour. It must be said, however, that polish and weight are apt to beget an expectation of value. It is amongst the pains of the damned to toil up a climax with a huge round stone.

The tourist had the choice of his words, but there was no such latitude allowed to that of his sentiments. The love of virtue and of liberty, which must have distinguished the character, certainly adorns the pages of Mr. Eustace, and the gentle. manly spirit, so recommendatory either in an author or his productions, is very conspicuous throughout the Classical Tour. But these generous qualities are the foliage of such a performance, and may be spread about it so prominently, and profusely as to embarrass those who wish to see and find the fruit at hand. The unction of the divine, and the exhortations of the moralist, may have made this work something more and better than a book of travels, but they have not made it a book of travels; and this observation applies more especially to that enticing method of instruction conveyed by the perpetual introduction of the same Gallic Helot to reel and bluster before the rising generation, and terrify it into decency by the display of all the excesses of the revolution. An animosity against atheists and regicides in general, and Frenchmen specifically, may be honourable, and may be useful as a record; but that antidote should either be administered in any work rather than a tour, or, at least, should be served up apart, and not so mixed with the whole mass of information and reflection, as to give a bitterness to every page: for who would choose to have the antipathies of any man, however just, for his travelling companions ? A tourist, unless he aspires to the credit of prophecy, is not answerable for the changes which may take place in the country which he describes ; but his reader may very fairly esteem all his political portraits and deductions as so much waste paper, the moment they cease to assist, and more particularly if they obstruct, his actual survey.

Neither encomium nor accusation of any government, or governors, is meant to be here offered ; but it is stated as an incontrovertible fact, that the change operated, either by the address of the late imperial system, or by the disappointment of every expectation by those who have succeeded to the Italian thrones, has been so considerable, and is so apparent, as not only to put Mr. Eustace's antigallican philippics entirely out of date, but even to throw some suspicion upon the competency and candour of the author himself. A remarkable example may be found in the instance of Bologna, over whose papal attachments, and consequent desolation, the tourist pours forth such strains of condolence and revenge, made louder by the borrowed trumpet of Mr. Burke. Now Bologna is at this moment, and has been for some years, notorious amongst the states of Italy for its attachment to revolutionary principles, and was almost the only city which made any demonstrations in favour of the unfortunate Murat. This change may, however, have been made since Mr. Eustace visited this country; but the traveller whom he has thrilled with horror at the projected stripping of the copper from the cupola of St. Peter's, must be much relieved to find that sacrilege out of the power of the French, or any other plunderers, the cupola being covered with lead. *

If the conspiring voice of otherwise rival critics had not given considerable currency to the Classical Tour, it would have been unnecessary to warn the reader, that how.

*“What, then, will be the astonishment, or rather the horror, of my reader, when I inform him ..

the French Committee turned its attention to Saint Peter's and employed a company of Jews to estimate and purchase the gold, silver, and bronze that adorn the inside of the edifice, as well as the coppe that covers the vaults and dome on the outside." Chap. iv. p. 130. vol. ii. The story about the Jew is posi tively denied at Rome.

« ForrigeFortsæt »