« ForrigeFortsett »
have overlooked a small amphitheatre of brick, most probably for the use of the prætorian camp: the theatres of Marcellus and Pompey were occupied in a great measure by public and private buildings ; and in the Circus, Agonalis and Maximus, little more than the situation and the form could be investigated. 6. The columns of Trajan and Antonine were still erect; but the Egyptian obelisks were broken or buried. A people of gods and heroes, the workmanship of art, was reduced to one equestrian figure of gilt brass and to five marble statues, of which the most conspicuous were the two horses of Phidias and Praxiteles. 7. The two mausoleums or sepulchres of Augustus and Hadrian could not totally be lost; but the former was only visible as a mound of earth, and the latter, the castle of St. Angelo, had acquired the name and appearance of a modern fortress. With the addition of some separate and nameless columns, such were the remains of the ancient city; for the marks of a more recent structure might be detected in the walls, which formed a circumference of ten miles, included three hundred and seventy-nine turrets, and opened into the country by thirteen gates.
This melancholy picture was drawn above nine hundred years after the fall of the Western empire, and even of the Gothic kingdom of Italy. A long period of distress and anarchy, decay of in which empire, and arts, and riches had migrated from the banks of the Tiber, was incapable of restoring or adorning the city; and, as all that is human must retrograde if it do not advance, every successive age must have hastened the ruin of the works of antiquity. To measure the progress of decay, and to ascertain, at each æra, the state of each edifice, would be an endless and a useless labour ; and I shall content myself with two observations, which will introduce a short inquiry into the general causes and effects. 1. Two hundred years before the eloquent complaint of Poggius, an anonymous writer composed a description of Rome. His ignorance may repeat the same objects under strange and fabulous names. Yet this barbarous topographer had eyes and ears; he could observe the visible remains; he could listen to the tradition of the people ; and he distinctly enumerates seven theatres, eleven baths, twelve arches, and eighteen palaces, of which many had disappeared before the time of Poggius. It is apparent that many stately monuments of antiquity
• Liber de Mirabilibus Romæ, ex Registro Nicolai Cardinalis de Arragoniâ, in Bibliotheca St. Isidori Armario IV. No. 69. This treatise, with some short but perti. nent notes, has been published by Montfaucon (Diarium Italicum, p. 283-301), who thus delivers his own critical opinion: Scriptor xiiimi circiter sæculi, ut ibidemn notatur; antiquariæ rei imperitus, et, ut ab illo ævo, nugis et anilibus fabellis refertus: sed, quia monumenta quæ iis temporibus Romæ supererant pro modulo recenset, non parum inde lucis mutuabitur qui Romanis antiquitatibus indagandis operam navabit (p. 283).
Four causes of destruction :
survived till a late period, and that the principles of destruction acted with vigorous and increasing energy in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. 2. The same reflection must be applied to the three last ages; and we should rainly seek the Septizonium of Severus, which is celebrated by Petrarch and the antiquarians of the sixteenth century. While the Roman edifices were still entire, the first blows, however weighty and impetuous, were resisted by the solidity of the mass and the harmony of the parts; but the slightest touch would precipitate the fragments of arches and columns, that already nodded to their fall. After a diligent inquiry I can discern four principal causes of the
ruin of Rome, which continued to operate in a period of more than a thousand years. I. The injuries of time and
nature. II. The hostile attacks of the barbarians and Christians. III. The use and abuse of the materials. And, IV. The domestic quarrels of the Romans. I. The art of man is able to construct monuments far more per
manent than the narrow span of his own existence : yet these monuments, like himself, are perishable and frail ;
and in the boundless annals of time his life and his labours must equally be measured as a fleeting moment. Of a simple and solid edifice it is not easy however to circumscribe the duration. As the wonders of ancient days, the pyramids o attracted the curiosity of the ancients: a hundred generations, the leaves of autumn, lo have dropped into the grave; and after the fall of the Pharaohs and Ptolemies, the Cæsars and caliphs, the same pyramids stand erect and unshaken above the floods of the Nile. A complex figure of various and minute parts is more accessible to injury and decay; and
the silent lapse of time is often accelerated by hurricanes
and earthquakes, by fires and inundations. The air and earthquakes;
earth have doubtless been shaken ; and the lofty turrets of Rome have tottered from their foundations; but the seven hills do not appear to be placed on the great cavities of the globe ; nor has
1. The injuries of nature;
? The Pere Mabillon (Analecta, tom. iv. p. 502) has published an anonymous pilgrim of the ixth century, who, in his visit round the churches and holy places of Rome, touches on several buildings, especially porticoes, which had disappeared before the xijith century.
8 On the Septizonium, see the Mémoires sur Pétrarque (tom. i. p. 325), Donatus (p. 338), and Nardini (p. 117, 414).
• The age of the pyramids is remote and unknown, since Diodorus Siculus (tom. i. 1. i. c. 44, p. 72) is unable to decide whether they were constructed 1000 or 3400 years before the clxxxth Olympiad. Sir John Marsham’s contracted scale of the Egyptian dynasties would fix them about 2000 years before Christ (Canon. Chronicus, p. 47).
10 See the speech of Glaucus in the Iliad (z. 146). This natural bat melancholy image is familiar to Homer.
the city, in any age, been exposed to the convulsions of nature, whichi, in the climate of Antioch, Lisbon, or Lima, have crumbled in a few moments the works of ages into dust. Fire is the most powerful agent of life and death: the rapid mischief may be kindled and propagated by the industry or negligence of mankind; and every period of the Roman annals is marked by the repetition of similar calamities. A memorable conflagration, the guilt or misfortune of Nero's reign, continued, though with unequal fury, either six or nine days." Innumerable buildings, crowded in close and crooked streets, supplied perpetual fuel for the flames; and when they ceased, four only of the fourteen regions were left entire; three were totally destroyed, and seven were deformed by the relics of smoking and lacerated edifices. In the full meridian of empire the metropolis arose with fresh beauty from her ashes; yet the memory of the old deplored their irreparable losses, the arts of Greece, the trophies of victory, the monuments of primitive or fabulous antiquity. In the days of distress and anarchy every wound is mortal, every fall irretrievable; nor can the damage be restored either by the public care of government, or the activity of private interest. Yet two causes may be alleged which render the calamity of fire more destructive to a flourishing than a decayed city. 1. The more combustible materials of brick, timber, and metals, are first melted or consumed; but the flames may play without injury or effect on the naked walls and massy arches that have been despoiled of their ornaments. 2. It is among the common and plebeian habitations that a mischievous spark is most easily blown to a conflagration; but as soon as they are devoured, the greater edifices which have resisted or escaped are left as so many islands in a state of solitude and safety. From her situation, Rome is exposed to the danger of frequent inundations. Withou: excepting the Tiber, the rivers that descend from either side of the Apennine have a short and irregular course ; a shallow stream in the summer heats ; an impetuous torrent when it is swelled in the spring or winter, by the fall of rain and the melting of the snows. When the current is repelled from the sea by
" The learning and criticism of M. des Vignoles (Histoire Critique de la République des Lettres, tom. viii. p. 74-118; ix. p. 172-187) dates the fire of Rome from A.D. 64, July 19, and the subsequent persecution of the Christians from November 15 of the same year.
12 Quippe in regiones quatuordecim Roma dividitur, quarum quatuor integræ mane. bant, tres solo tenus dejectæ: septem reliquis pauca tectorum vestigia supererant, lacera et semiusta. Among the old relics that were irreparably lost, Tacitus enu. merates the temple of the Moon of Servius Tullius; the fane and altar consecrated by Evander præsenti ferouli; the temple of Jupiter Stator, a vow of Romulus; the palace of Numa; the temple of Vestä сum Penatibus populi Romani. He then de plores the opes tot victoriis quæsite et Græcarum artium decora . . . . multa qum seniores meminerant, quæ reparari nequibant (Annal. xv. 40, 41),
adverse winds, when the ordinary bed is inadequate to the weight of waters, they rise above the banks, and overspread, without limits or control, the plains and cities of the adjacent country. Soon after the triumph of the first Punic war the Tiber was increased by unusual rains; and the inundation, surpassing all former measure of time and place, destroyed all the buildings that were situate below the hills of Rome. According to the variety of ground, the same mischief was produced by different means; and the edifices were either swept away by the sudden impulse, or dissolved and undermined by the long continuance, of the flood.13 Under the reign of Augustus the same calamity was renewed : the lawless river overturned the palaces and temples on its banks ; :and, after the labours of the emperor in cleansing and widening the bed that was encumbered with ruins, 's the vigilance of his successors was exercised by similar dangers and designs. The project of diverting into new channels the Tiber itself, or some of the dependent streams, was long opposed by superstition and local interests; nor did the use compensate the toil and cost of the tardy and imperfect execution. The servitude of rivers is the noblest and most important victory which man has obtained over the licentiousness of nature ; 17 and if such were the ravages of the Tiber under a firm and active government, what could oppose, or who can enumerate, the injuries of the city after the fall of the Western empire ? A remedy was at length produced by the evil itself: the
A. U.C. 507, repentina subversio ipsius Romæ prævenit triumphum Romanorum
diversæ ignium aquarumque clades pene absumsere urbem. Nam Tiberis insolitis auctus imbribus et ultra opinionem, vel diuturnitate vel magnitudine redundans, omnia Romæ ædificia in plano posita delevit. Diversæ qualitates locorum ad unam convenere perniciem : quoniam et quæ segnior inundatio tenuit madefacta dissolvit, et quæ cursus torrentis invenit impulsa dejecit (Orosius, Hist. I. iv. c. 11, p. 244, edit. Havercamp). Yet we may observe that is the plan and study of the Christian apologist to magnify the calamities of the pagan world.
14 Vidimus flavum Tiberim, retortis
Littore Etrusco violenter undis,
Templaque Vestæ. (Horat. Carm. i. 2.) If the palace of Numa and temple of Vesta were thrown down in Horace's time, what was consumed of those buildings by Nero's fire could hardly deserve the epithets of vetustissima or incorrupta.
15 Ad coercendas inundationes alveum Tiberis laxavit ac repurgavit, completum olim ruderibus, et ædificiorum prolapsionibus coarctatum (Suetonius in Augusto, c. 30).
16 Tacitus (Annal. i. 79) reports the petitions of the different towns of Italy to the sonate against the measure; and we may applaud the progress of reason. On a similar occasion local interests would undoubtedly be consulted; but an English House of Commons would reject with contempt the arguments of superstition, «« that nature “ had assigned to the rivers their proper course," &c.
17 See the Epoques de la Nature of the eloquent and philosophic Buffon. His picture of Guyana, in South America, is that of a new and savage land, in which the waters are abandoned to themselves, without being regulated by human industry (P. 212, 561, quarto edition).
accumulation of rubbish and the earth that has been washed down from the hills is supposed to have elevated the plain of Rome fourteen or fifteen feet, perhaps, above the ancient level ; 18 and the modern city is less accessible to the attacks of the river.19
II. The crowd of writers of every nation, who impute the destruction of the Roman monuments to the Goths and the II. The Christians, have neglected to inquire how far they were he tacks of the animated by an hostile principle, and how far they possessed and the means and the leisure to satiate their enmity. In the Christians. preceding volumes of this History I have described the triumph of barbarism and religion ; and I can only resume, in a few words, their real or imaginary connection with the ruin of ancient Rome. Our fancy may create, or adopt, a pleasing romance, that the Goths and Vandals sallied from Scandinavia, ardent to avenge the flight of Odin ; 20 to break the chains, and to chastise the oppressors, of mankind ; that they wished to burn the records of classic literature, and to found their national architecture on the broken members of the Tuscan and Corinthian orders. But in simple truth, the northern conquerors were neither sufficiently savage, nor sufficiently refined, to entertain such aspiring ideas of destruction and revenge. The shepherds of Scythia and Germany had been educated in the armies of the empire, whose discipline they acquired, and whose weakness they invaded : with the familiar use of the Latin tongue they had learned to reverence the name and titles of Rome; and, though incapable of emulating, they were more inclined to admire than to abolish the arts and studies of a brighter period. In the transient possession of a rich and unresisting capital, the soldiers of Alaric and Genseric were stimulated by the passions of a victorious army ; amidst the wanton indulgence of lust or cruelty, portable wealth was the object of their search : nor could they derive either pride or pleasure from the unprofitable reflection that they had battered to the ground the works of the consuls and Cæsars. Their moments
18 In his Travels in Italy, Mr. Addison (his Works, vol. ii. p. 98, Baskerville's edi. tion) has observed this curious and unquestionable fact.
19 Yet in modern times the Tiber has sometimes damaged the city, and in the years 1530, 1557, 1598, the Annals of Muratori record three mischievous and memorable inundations (tonn. xiv. p. 268, 429; tom. xv. p. 99, &c.)."
20 I take this opportunity of declaring that, in the course of twelve years, I have forgotten, or renounced, the flight of Odin from Azoph to Sweden, which I never very seriously believed (vol. i. p. 377). The Goths are apparently Germans; but all beyond Cæsar and Tacitus is darkness or fable in the antiquities of Germany.
• The level of the Tiber was at one but satisfactory, statement of the ques time supposed to be considerably raised: tion in Bunsen and Platner, Roms Besch recent investigations seem to be conclu reibung, vol. i. p. 29.-M. sive against this supposition. See a briet,