« ForrigeFortsett »
through the earth as if from Hades, Athena and Hera. cles, the latter of whom the Marathonians claimed to have been the first to worship. Among the combatants most conspicuously represented were the Athenian polemarch Callimachus, Miltiades, one of the generals, and the hero Echetlus, or Echetlæus. This last, as Pausanias relates further on, was the man of rustic aspect who appeared in the battle, and, after slaying many of the barbarians with a ploughshare, suddenly vanished. To the Athenians who inquired about him, the oracle only replied that they must honor the hero Echetlæus. There was also in the picture a head of Butes, but only as far as the eyes, the rest of the figure being hid behind a mountain, whence, from being so easily painted, the proverb θάττον ή Βούτης. The picture of the battle of Marathon was, no doubt, that which most attracted the attention of the Athenians, as we may conclude from the copious notices which they have left us of it. - From Ancient Athens.
MICHELANGELO'S LAST JUDGMENT.
An historian of art has not hesitated to say that the Angels of Signorelli are more beautiful than those of Michelangelo.
This verdict will at least hold good if the comparison be restricted to Michelangelo's fresco of the Last Judgment. Horror is the key-note of that composition, and anything that might detract from it is almost entirely excluded. The motive is Christ in his wrath, one might almost say in his vengeance for sufferings on earth, the instruments of which are displayed above him—the cross, the nails, the crown of thorns, the column, the sponge, and the ladder. His figure has neither divine majesty, nor the bearing of a calm and equitable judge ; it is rather a stalwart mortal who is condemning with signs of fury those who have offended him. His words and gestures are so terrible that the Virgin mother, who sits beside him, turns aside with alarm and pity. The female figures are few, and they are purposely without the beauty which he was so capable of depicting, as shown by his Eve in the Fall. The same may be said of the male figures. Adam, who as the representative of the human race, stands on one side of the judgmentseat, and S. Peter, as the founder of Christianity, on the other, have not the dignity of the prophets in the ceiling of the chapel. The lower part of the picture, showing the approaching punishment of the damned, is perhaps the best. In mid-air are seen the Seven Angels of the Revelation, sounding their trumpets. Michelangelo has here introduced a characteristic trait. The Angel on the side of the wicked has an enormous volume full of their sins, whilst another on the side of the blessed holds but a small book of their good deeds. Below this group is the boat of Charon, who, striking with the oar his unhappy passengers, compels them to land on that desolate shore. Here they are received by Minos, a strange figure with ass's ears, and an enormous serpent coiled round his middle. According to Vasari, it is a portrait of Messer Biagio de Cesena, the Pope's Master of the Ceremonies, who had complained to him of the many nudities which Michelangelo had introduced. The Pope asked where the figure had been placed, and when told that it was in Hell, remarked that he had no power in the matter, though he could have released him from Purgatory.
Before this grand picture criticism stands as it were disarmed. The subject itself, as well as the genius of the artist who conceived it, are beyond the rules of ordinary art. It is said that there is but one step between the sublime and the ridiculous ; but Michelangelo seems to have been sometimes capable of placing himself in the middle of that step, so that we tremble with apprehension as to the side on which he will fall. In the judgment of this matter much will depend on the spectator's turn of mind. Burke has observed that in all the pictures he had seen of Hell he had been at a loss to determine whether the painter did not intend something ludicrous. Superstition rests on terror, its chief antidote is ridicule, by means of which Lucian went far to destroy the gods of paganism ; but ridicule is powerless where terror is overwhelming and absorbing.- From Imitative Art.
THE ROMAN HIGHWAYS.
The great Roman highways did not exceed fifteen feet in breadth, and were sometimes a foot or two less. In constructing them, the earth was excavated till a solid foundation was obtained, or, in swampy places, a foundation was made by driving piles. Over this, which was called the gremium, four courses or strata were laid; namely the statumen, the rudus, the nucleus, and the pavimentum. The statumen, which rested on the gremium, consisted of loose stones of a moderate size. The rudus or rubble-work, over this, about nine inches thick, was composed of broken stones, cemented with lime. The nucleus, half a foot thick, was made with pottery broken into small pieces, and also cemented with lime. Over all was the pavimentum, or pavement, consisting of large polygonal blocks of hard stone, and particularly in the neighborhood of Rome, of basaltic lava, nicely fitted together, so as to present a smooth surface. The road was somewhat elevated in the centre, to allow the water to run off, and on each side were raised footpaths covered with gravel. At certain intervals were blocks of stone, to enable a horseman to mount. Roads thus constructed were of such extraordinary durability, that portions of some more than a thousand years old are still in a high state of preservation.—History of the City of Rome.
EARLE, JOHN, an English clergyman and miscellaneous writer, born at York in 1601; died at Oxford, November 17, 1665. He was educated at Oxford, became chaplain and tutor to Prince Charles, with whom he went into exile, and was in consequence deprived of all his property. After the Restoration he was made Dean of Westminster; in 1662 was consecrated Bishop of Worcester, and in the following year was transferred to the see of Salisbury. Lord Clarendon says Earle was “a man of great piety and devotion, a most eloquent and powerful preacher, and of a conversation so pleasant and delightful, so very innocent and so very facetious, that no man's company was more desired and loved. No man was more negligent in his dress and habit and mien, and no man more cultivated in his behavior and discourse." His principal work, Microcosmographie, or a Peece of the World discovered in Essayes and Characters, a facetious description of the life and manners of the time, was first published in 1628; it was very popular, for six editions appeared within two years. A tenth edition was printed in 1786, and a new edition, with Notes and an Appendix, by Philip Bliss, in 1811. Prominent among the numerous “characters" delineated by Earle are an antiquary, a player, a dun, and a clown.
THE RURAL CLOWN.
The plain country fellow is one that manures his ground well, but lets himself lie fallow and untilled. He has reason enough to do his business, and not enough to be idle or melancholy. He seems to have the punishment of Nebuchadnezzar, for his conversation is among beasts, and his talons none of the shortest, only he eats not grass, because he loves not sallets. His hand guides the plough, and the plough his thoughts, and his ditch and land-mark is the very mound of his meditations. He expostulates with his oxen very understandingly, and speaks gee and ree better than English. His mind is not much distracted with objects; but if a good fat cow come in his way, he stands dumb and astonished, and though his haste be never so great, will fix here half an hour's contemplation. His habitation is some poor thatched roof, distinguished from his barn by the loopholes that let out smoke, which the rain had long since washed through, but for the double ceiling of bacon on the inside, which has hung there from his grandsire's time, and is yet to make rashers for posterity. His dinner is his other work, for he sweats at it as much as at his labor; he is a terrible fastener on a piece of beef, and you may hope to stave the guard off sooner. His religion is a part of his copyhold, which he takes from his landlord, and refers it wholly to his discretion. He apprehends God's blessings only in a fat pasture, and never praises him but on good ground. Sunday he esteems a day to make merry in, and thinks a bagpipe as essential to it as evening-prayer. He thinks nothing to be vices but pride and ill-husbandry. He is a niggard all the week, except only market-day, where, if his corn sell well, he thinks he may be drunk with a good conscience. He is sensible of no calamity but the burning a stack of corn, or the over-flowing of a meadow, and thinks Noah's flood the greatest plague that ever was, not because it drowned the world, but spoiled the grass. For death he is never troubled, and if he get in but his harvest before, let it come when it will, he cares not.