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the Servian Agger. Caligula extended the imperial palace, and began the
Circus Neronis in the gardens of Agrippa, near where St. Peter's now

[Sidenote: Claudian aqueduct.]

Claudius constructed the two noble aqueducts, the Aqua Claudia and Arno
Novis, - the longest of all these magnificent Roman monuments, - the
latter of which was fifty-nine miles in length, and some of its arches
were one hundred and nine feet in height.

Nero still further extended the precincts of the imperial palace, and
included the Esquiline. The great fire which occurred in his reign, A.D.
65, and which lasted six days and seven nights, destroyed some of the
most ancient of the Roman structures surrounding the Palatine, and very
much damaged the Forum, to say nothing of the statues and treasures
which perished. But the city soon arose from her ashes more beautiful
than before. The streets were laid out on a more regular plan and made
wider, the houses were built lower, and brick was substituted for wood.

[Sidenote: The Imperial Palace.]

The great work of Nero was the construction of the Imperial Palace on
the site of the buildings which had been destroyed by the fire. He gave
it the name of Aurea Domus, and, if we may credit Suetonius, [Footnote:
Suet. _Ner_., 31.] its richness and splendor surpassed any other
similar edifice in ancient times. It fronted the Forum and Capitol, and
in its vestibule stood a colossal statue of the emperor, one hundred and
twenty feet high. The palace was surrounded by three porticoes, each one
thousand feet in length. The back front of the palace looked upon the
artificial lake, afterwards occupied by the Flavian Amphitheatre. Within
the area were gardens and vineyards. It was entirely overlaid with gold,
and adorned with jewels and mother-of-pearl. The supper rooms were
vaulted, and the compartments of the ceiling, inlaid with ivory, were
made to revolve and scatter flowers upon the banqueters below. The chief
banqueting-room was circular, and perpetually revolved in imitation of
the motion of the celestial bodies. There are scarcely no remains of
this extensive palace, which engrossed so large a part of the city, and
which covered the site of so many famous temples and palaces, and which
exhausted even the imperial revenues, great as they were, even as
Versailles taxed the magnificent resources of Louis XIV., and St.
Peter's obliged the Popes to appeal to the contributions of Christendom.

[Sidenote: Temple of Peace.]

The next great edifice which added to the architectural wonders of the
city, was the temple built by Vespasian after the destruction of
Jerusalem, which he called the Temple of Peace. It was adorned with the
richest sculptures and paintings of Greece, taken from Nero's palace,
which Vespasian demolished as a monument of insane extravagance. In this
temple were deposited also the Jewish spoils, except the laws and veil
of the temple.

[Sidenote: Falvian Amphitheatre.]

[Sidenote: The Colosseum.]

But the great work of this emperor, and the greatest architectural
wonder of the world, was the amphitheatre, which he built on the ground
covered by Nero's lake, in the middle of the city, between the Velia and
the Esquiline. For magnitude it can only be compared with the pyramids
of Egypt, and its remains are the most striking monument we have of the
material greatness of the Romans. Though not the first of the
amphitheatres which were erected, its enormous size rendered the
erection of subsequent ones unnecessary. It was here that emperors,
senators, generals, knights, and people, met together to witness the
most exciting and sanguinary amusements ever seen in the world. It was
built in the middle of the city, with a perfect recklessness of expense,
and could accommodate eighty-seven thousand spectators, round an arena
large enough for the combats of several hundred animals at a time. It
was a building of an elliptical form, founded on eighty arches, and
rising to the height of one hundred and forty feet, with four successive
orders of architecture, six hundred and twenty feet by five hundred and
thirteen, inclosing six acres. It was built of travertine, faced with
marble, and decorated with statues. The eighty arches of the lower story
formed entrances for the spectators. The seats were of marble covered
with cushions. The spectators were protected from the sun and rain by
ample canopies, while the air was refreshed by scented fountains. The
nets designed as a protection from the wild beasts were made of golden
wire. The porticoes were gilded; the circle which divided the several
ranks of spectators was studded with a precious mosaic of beautiful
stones. The arena was strewed with the finest sand, and assumed, at
different times, the most different forms. Subterranean pipes conveyed
water into the arena. The furniture of the amphitheatre consisted of
gold, silver, and amber. The passages of ingress and egress were so
numerous that the spectators could go in and out without confusion. Only
a third part of this wonderful structure remains, and whole palaces have
been built of its spoils. [Footnote: Dyer, _Hist. of the City of
Rome_, p. 245. Gibbon, chap. 12. Montaigne, _Essays_, in. 6.
Lipsius, _de Amphitheatro_.]

[Sidenote: Rebuilding of the Capitol.]

[Sidenote: Arch of Titus.]

Another great fire which took place A.D. 80, - the same in which Titus
dedicated the Colosseum, - and which raged three days and nights,
destroyed the region of the Circus Flaminius, including some of the
finest temples of the city, and especially on the Capitoline, and
created the necessity for new improvements. These were made by Domitian,
who rebuilt the Capitol itself with greater splendor on its old site,
and erected several new edifices. Martial speaks with peculiar
admiration of the Temple of the Gens Flavia. [Footnote: Martial,
_L_., ix. Ep. 4, 35. ] He also erected that beautiful arch to his
brother Titus which still remains one of the finest monuments of the
imperial city. The Odeum, a roofed theatre, was erected by him, capable
of holding twelve thousand people. He also made many additions to his
palace on the Palatine - so lofty, that Martial, his flatterer,
described it as towering above the clouds, and Statius compared the
ceiling to the cope of heaven.

[Sidenote: Forum Trajanum.]

[Sidenote: Basilica Ulpia.]

No great improvements were made in the city until Trajan commenced his
beneficent and splendid reign. His greatest work was the Forum which
bears his name, to which allusion has been made, eleven hundred feet
long, in the centre of which was that beautiful pillar, one hundred and
twenty-eight feet high, which is still standing. The Forum, the Basilica
Ulpia, and the temple dedicated by Hadrian to Trajan, were all parts of
this magnificent structure, one of the most imposing ever built, filled
with colossal statues and surrounded with colonnades.

[Sidenote: Temple of Venus and Rome.]

[Sidenote: Mausoleum of Hadrian.]

[Sidenote: Hadrians Villa.]

None of the Roman emperors had so great a passion for building as
Hadrian, who succeeded Trajan A.D. 117. He erected a vast number of
edifices, and in his reign Rome attained its greatest height of
architectural splendor. The most remarkable among the edifices which he
built was the Temple of Venus and Rome, facing on one side the
Colosseum, and the other the Forum, on the site of the Atrium, or the
golden house of Nero. This seems to have been one of the largest of the
Roman temples, erected on an artificial terrace five hundred feet long
and three hundred broad. It was surrounded with a portico four hundred
feet by two hundred, and another portico of four hundred columns
inclosed the terrace on which the temple was built, the columns of which
were forty feet in height. The roof was covered with bronze tiles.
Ammianus Marcellinus classes this magnificent temple with the Capitoline
Temple, the Flavian Amphitheatre, and the Pantheon. The next greatest
work of Hadrian was the Mausoleum, which is now converted into the
Castle of St. Angelo, built on a platform of which each side was two
hundred and fifty-three feet in length. From the magnificent colonnade
which supported the platform on which it was built, and the successive
stories supported by arches and pillars, between which were celebrated
statues, this circular edifice, one hundred and eighty-eight feet in
diameter, must have been one of the most imposing edifices in the city.
After eighteen centuries, it still remains a monument of architectural
strength, and it served for one of the strongest fortresses in Italy
during the Middle Ages. I pass by, without notice, the villa this
emperor erected at Tivoli, the ruins of which are among the most
interesting which remain of that great age.

[Sidenote: Column of Marcus Aurelius.]

[Sidenote: Arch of Septimius Severus.]

[Sidenote: Baths of Caracalla.]

Under Hadrian Rome attained its greatest splendor, and after him, there
was a progressive decline in the arts, since the public taste was
corrupted. Still successive emperors continued to adorn the city. Marcus
Aurelius, the wisest and best of all the emperors, erected a column
similar to that of Trajan, to represent his wars with the Germanic
tribes, and this still remains; he also built a triumphal arch.
Septimius Severus erected the most beautiful of the triumphal arches, of
which the Arc de Triumph in Paris is an imitation; and Caracalla built
one of the greatest of the Roman baths, which, with the porticoes which
surrounded it, formed a square of eleven hundred feet on each side - so
enormous were these structures of luxury and utility, designed not only
for the people as a sanitary measure, but for places of gymnastic
exercises, popular lectures, and the disputations of philosophers. The
Pantheon was merely an entrance to the baths of Agrippa. The baths of
Trajan covered an area nearly as great. But those of Caracalla surpassed
them all in magnificence. Nothing was more striking to a traveler than
the painted corridors, the arched ceilings, the variegated columns, the
elaborate mosaic pavements, the immortal statues, and the exquisite
paintings which ornamented these places of luxury and pleasure. From
amid their ruins have been dug out the most priceless of the statues
which ornament the museums of Italy - the Farnese Hercules, the colossal
Florae, the Torso Farnese, the Torso Belvidere, the Atreus and Thyestes,
the Laocoon, beside granite and basaltic vases beautifully polished,
cameos, bronzes, medals, and other valuable relics of ancient art. To
supply these baths new aqueducts were built, and the treasures of the
empire expended. Those subsequently erected by Diocletian contained
three thousand two hundred marble seats, and the main hall now forms one
of the most splendid of the Roman churches.

[Sidenote: Temples and Palaces.]

[Sidenote: General aspect of the city.]

[Sidenote: What a traveler would see in a walk.]

[Sidenote: The Via Sacra.]

[Sidenote: The Velabrum.]

[Sidenote: The Fora.]

[Sidenote: View from the summit of the Capitoline Hill.]

[Sidenote: Gardens of Lucullus.]

[Sidenote: The Subura.]

[Sidenote: Circus Maximus.]

[Sidenote: View of Rome from the Capitol.]

Such is a brief view of the progress of those architectural wonders
which made Rome the most magnificent city of antiquity, and perhaps the
grandest, in its public monuments, of any city in ancient or modern
times. What a concentration of works of art on the hills, and around the
Forum, and in the Campus Martins, and other celebrated quarters! There
were temples rivaling those of Athens and Ephesus; baths covering more
ground than the Pyramids, surrounded with Corinthian columns and filled
with the choicest treasures, ransacked from the cities of Greece and
Asia; palaces in comparison with which the Tuileries and Versailles are
small; theatres which seated more people than any present public
buildings in Europe; amphitheatres more extensive and costly than
Cologne, Milan, and York Minster cathedrals combined, and seating eight
times as many people as could be crowded into St. Peter's Church;
circuses where, it is said, three hundred and eighty-five thousand
spectators could witness the games and chariot-races at a time; bridges,
still standing, which have furnished models for the most beautiful at
Paris and London; aqueducts carried over arches one hundred feet in
height, through which flowed the surplus water of distant lakes; drains
of solid masonry in which large boats could float; pillars more than one
hundred feet in height, coated with precious marbles or plates of brass,
and covered with bass-reliefs; obelisks brought from Egypt; fora and
basilicae connected together, and extending more than three thousand
feet, in length, every part of which was filled with "animated busts" of
conquerors, kings, and statesmen, poets, publicists, and philosophers;
mausoleums greater and more splendid than that Artemisia erected to the
memory of her husband; triumphal arches under which marched in stately
procession the victorious armies of the Eternal City, preceded by the
spoils and trophies of conquered empires, - such was the proud capital -
a city of palaces, a residence or nobles who were virtually kings,
enriched with the accumulated treasures of ancient civilization. Great
were the capitals of Greece and Asia, but how preeminent was Rome, since
all were subordinate to her. How bewildering and bewitching to a
traveler must have been the varied wonders of the city! Go where he
would, his eye rested on something which was both a study and a marvel.
Let him drive or walk about the suburbs, there were villas, tombs,
aqueducts looking like railroads on arches, sculptured monuments, and
gardens of surpassing beauty and luxury. Let him approach the walls -
they were great fortifications extending twenty-one miles in circuit,
according to the measurement of Ammon as adopted by Gibbon, and forty-
five miles according to other authorities. Let him enter any of the
various gates which opened into the city from the roads which radiated
to all parts of Italy - they were of monumental brass covered with bass-
reliefs, on which the victories of generals for a thousand years were
commemorated. Let him pass up the Via Appia, or the Via Flaminia, or the
Via Cabra - they were lined with temples and shops and palaces. Let him
pass through any of the crowded thoroughfares, he saw houses towering
scarcely ever less than seventy feet - as tall as those of Edinburgh in
its oldest sections. Let him pass through the varied quarters of the
city, or wards as we should now call them, he finds some fourteen
regions, as constituted by Augustus, all marked by architectural
monuments, and containing, according to Lipsius, a population larger
than London or Paris, guarded and watched by a police of ten thousand
armed men. Most of the houses in which this vast population lived,
according to Strabo, possessed pipes which gave a never-failing supply
of water from the rivers which flowed into the city through the
aqueducts and out again through the sewers into the Tiber. Let him walk
up the Via Sacra - that short street, scarcely half a mile in length - and
he passes the Flavian Amphitheatre, the Temple of Venus, and Rome, the
Arch of Titus, the temples of Peace, of Vesta, and of Castor, the Forum
Romanum, the Basilica Julia, the Arch of Severus, and the Temple of
Saturn, and stands before the majestic ascent to the Capitoline Jupiter,
with its magnificent portico and ornamented pediment, surpassing the
facade of any modern church. On his left, as he emerges from beneath the
sculptured Arch of Titus, is the Palatine Mount, nearly covered by the
palace of the Caesars, the magnificent residences of the higher nobility,
and various temples, of which that of Apollo was the most magnificent,
built by Augustus of solid white marble from Luna. Here were the palaces
of Vaccus, of Flaccus, of Cicero, of Catiline, of Scaurus, of Antonius,
of Clodius, of Agrippa, and of Hortensius. Still on his left, in the
valley between the Palatine and the Capitoline, though he cannot see it,
concealed from view by the great temples of Vesta and of Castor, and the
still greater edifice known as the Basilica Julia, is the quarter called
the Velabrum, extending to the river, where the Pons Aemilius crosses it -
a low quarter of narrow streets and tall houses where the rabble lived
and died. On his right, concealed from view by the Aedes Divi Julii and
the Forum Romanum, is that magnificent series of edifices extending from
the Temple of Peace to the Temple of Trajan, including the Basilica
Pauli, the Forum Julii, the Forum Augusti, the Forum Trajani, the
Basilica Ulpia, more than three thousand feet in length and six hundred
in breadth, almost entirely surrounded by porticoes and colonnades, and
filled with statues and pictures - on the whole the grandest series of
public buildings clustered together probably ever erected, especially if
we take in the Forum Romanum and the various temples and basilicas which
connected the whole together - a forest of marble pillars and statues. He
ascends the steps which lead from the Temple of Concord to the Temple of
Juno Moneta upon the Arx or Tarpeian Rock, on the southwestern summit of
the hill, itself one of the most beautiful temples in Rome, erected by
Camillus on the spot where the house of M. Manlius Capitolinus had
stood. Here is established the Roman mint. Near this is the temple
erected by Augustus to Jupiter Tonans and that built by Domitian to
Jupiter Gustos. But all the sacred edifices which crown the Capitoline
are subordinate to the Templum Jovis Capitolini, standing on a platform
of eight thousand square feet, and built of the richest materials. The
portico which faces the Via Sacra consists of three rows of Doric
columns, the pediment is profusely ornamented with the choicest
sculptures, the apex of the roof is surmounted by the bronze horses of
Lysippus, and the roof itself is covered with gilded tiles. The temple
has three separate cells, though covered with one roof; in front of each
stand colossal statues of the three deities to whom it is consecrated.
Here are preserved what was most sacred in the eyes of Romans, and it is
itself the richest of all the temples of the city. What a beautiful
panorama is presented to the view from the summit of this consecrated
hill, only mounted by a steep ascent of one hundred steps. To the south
is the Via Sacra extending to the Colosseum, and beyond it is the Appia
Via, lined with monuments as far as the eye can reach. Little beyond the
fora to the east is the Carinae, a fashionable quarter of beautiful shops
and houses, and still further off are the Baths of Titus, extending from
the Carinae to the Esquiline Mount. This hill, once a burial-ground, is
now covered with the house and gardens of Maecenas, and of the poets whom
he patronized. It is not rich in temples, but its gardens and groves are
beautiful. To the northeast are the Viminal and Quirinal hills, after
the Palatine the most ancient part of the city - the seat of the Sabine
population. Abounding in fanes and temples, the most splendid of which
is the Temple of Quirinus, erected originally to Romulus by Numa, but
rebuilt by Augustus, with a double row of columns on each of its sides,
seventy-six in number. Near by was the house of Atticus, and the gardens
of Sallust in the valley between the Quirinal and Pincian, afterwards
the property of the emperor. Far back on the Quirinal, near the wall of
Servius, were the Baths of Diocletian, and still further to the east the
Pretorian Camp established by Tiberius, and included within the wall of
Aurelian. To the northeast the eye lights on the Pincian Hill covered by
the gardens of Lucullus, to possess which Messalina caused the death of
Valerius Asiaticus, into whose possession they had fallen. In the valley
which lay between the fora and the Quirinal was the celebrated Subura, -
the quarter of shops, markets, and artificers, - a busy, noisy, vulgar
section, not beautiful, but full of life and enterprise and wickedness.
The eye now turns to the north, and the whole length of the Via Flaminia
is exposed to view, extending from the Capitoline to the Flaminian gate,
perfectly straight, the finest street in Rome, and parallel to the
modern Corso. It is the great highway to the north of Italy. Monuments
and temples and palaces line this celebrated street. It is spanned by
the triumphal arches of Claudius and Marcus Aurelius. To the west of it
is the Campus Martius, with its innumerable objects of interest, - the
Baths of Agrippa, the Pantheon, the Thermae Alexandrinae, the Column of
Marcus Aurelius, and the Mausoleum of Augustus. Beneath the Capitoline
on the west, toward the river, is the Circus Flaminius, the Portico of
Octavius, the Theatre of Balbus, and the Theatre of Pompey, where forty
thousand spectators were accommodated. Stretching beyond the Thermae
Alexandrinae, near the Pantheon, is the magnificent bridge which crosses
the Tiber, built by Hadrian when he founded his Mausoleum, to which it
leads, still standing under the name of the Ponte S. Angelo. The eye
takes in eight or nine bridges over the Tiber, some of wood, but
generally of stone, of beautiful masonry, and crowned with statues. At
the foot of the Capitoline, toward the southwest, are the Portico of
Octavius and the Theatre of Marcellus, near the Pons Cestius. Still
further southwest, between the Capitoline and the Aventine, in a low
valley, are the Velabrum and the Forum Boarium, once a marsh, but now
rich in temples and monuments, among which are those of Hercules Fortuna
and Mater Matuta. There are no less than four temples consecrated to
Hercules in the Forum Boarium, one of the most celebrated places in
Rome, devoted to trade and commerce. Beyond still, in the valley between
the Palatine and the Aventine, is the great Circus Maximus, founded by
the early Tarquin. It is the largest open space inclosed by walls and
porticoes in the city. It seats three hundred and eighty-five thousand
people. How vast a city, which can spare nearly four hundred thousand of
its population to see the chariot-races! Beyond is the Aventine itself.
This also is rich in legendary monuments and in the palaces of the
great, though originally a plebeian quarter. Here dwelt Trajan, before
he was emperor, and Ennius the poet, and Paula, the friend of St.
Jerome. Beneath the Aventine, and a little south of the Circus Maximus,
west of the Appian Way, are the great baths of Caracalla, the ruins of
which, next to those of the Colosseum, made on my mind the strongest
impression of any thing that pertains to antiquity, though these were
not so large as those of Diocletian. The view south takes in the Caelian
Hill, the ancient residence of Tullus Hostilius. The beautiful Temple of
Divus Claudius, the Arch of Dolabella, the Macellum Magnum, - a market
founded by Nero, - the Castra Peregrina, the Temple of Isis, the Campus
Martialis, are among the most conspicuous objects of interest. This hill
is the residence of many distinguished Romans. It is covered with
palaces. Among them is the house of Claudius Centumalus - so high, that
the augurs command him to lower it. It towers ten or twelve stories into
the air. Scarcely inferior in size is the house of Mamura, whose
splendor is described by Pliny. Here also is the house of Annius Verus,
the father of Marcus Aurelius, surrounded with gardens. But grander than
any of these palaces is that of Plautius Lateranus, the _egregioe
Lateranorum oedes_, which became imperial property in the time of
Nero, and on whose site stands the basilica of St. John Lateran, - the
gift of Constantine to the bishop of Rome, - one of the most ancient of
the Christian churches, in which, for fifteen hundred years, daily
services have been performed.

[Sidenote: Population.]

[Sidenote: Number of houses.]

Such are the objects of interest and grandeur which strike the eye as it
is turned toward the various quarters of the city. But these are only
the more important. The seven hills, appearing considerably higher than
at the present day, as the valleys are raised fifteen or twenty feet
above their ancient level, are covered with temples, palaces, and
gardens; the valleys are densely crowded with shops, houses, baths, and
theatres. The houses rise frequently to the tenth platform or story. The
suburban population, beyond the walls, is probably greater than that
within. The city, virtually, contains between three and four millions or
people. Lipsius estimates four millions as the population, including

Online LibraryJohn LordThe Old Roman World, : the Grandeur and Failure of Its Civilization → online text (page 10 of 50)