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Ruins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) online

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12 HI'INS OF AN) MM < I i

tion on a lonely mountain ;it a distance from tli-
has preserved it from total demolition, and all the
changes and accidents of nuinrron centuries 1 .

Lusieri classes the architecture of the temple
of the Panhrllcnian .Jupiter at .'Kirina with that of
Ptestum in Lucania : " In their buildings," says he,
" the Doric order attained a pre-eminence which it
never passed ; not a stone has been there placed
without some evident and important design ; every
part of the structure bespeaks its own essential uti-
lity. Of such a nature were works in architecture,
when the whole aim of the architect was to unite
grandeur with utility; the former bring founded on the
latter. All then was truth, strength, and sublimity."

In 1811, several statues of Parian marble were
discovered by two English gentlemen and two Ger-
mans t, the rivals in the style of which are said no-
whore to be found. They were excavated from the
two extremities of the temple below the tympana,
from which they had fallen at some unknown period.
Mr. Dodwell has given the following account of
them : " I shall not attempt," says he, " a minute
description of these precious remains of the ^Eginetic
school ; the discovery of which, in its importance,
has not been surpassed by any of the kind in modern
times. They are supposed by some to represent the
principal heroes of the Iliad contending with the
Trojans for the body of Patroclus. Minerva, armed

* " .flJgina abounds," says Wheler, " with a tori of red-legged
partridge, against which, by order of tlie Kj>itropi, or the chief
magistrate of the town, nil, both young and old, go out yearly, ai
the pigmies of old did against the cranes, to war with, and to
break their rpgs before they are hatched ; otherwise, by their
multitudes, they would so destroy and cat up the corn, that they
would inevitably bring a famine every year upon the place."

f Mr. C. R. Cockercll and Mr. John Foster; W. Linckh and
Baron Haller.


with her helmet, is the principal figure ; and from its
superior size, is conjectured to have stood in the
centre of the tympanum, below which it was found.
The other figures are comhatants in various costumes
and attitudes; their shields are circular, and their
helmets crowned with the lophos. The bodies of
some are naked, while others are covered with
armour or leather; their attitudes are judiciously
adapted to the four tympana, and the places which
they occupied. They were evidently made prior to the
introduction of the beautiful ideal in Grecian sculp-
ture. The muscles and the veins, which are anato-
mically correct, exhibit the soft flexibility of life, and
every motion of the body is in scientific harmony
with that of nature. The limbs are strong, though
not Herculean, and elegant without effeminacy;
no preposterous muscular protuberance, no unnatural
feminine delicacy offends the eye. They are noble
without being harsh or rigid, and are composed
with Doric severity mingled with the airy grace of
youthful forms ; the perfection of the finish is quite
wonderful ; every part being in a style worthy of the
most beautiful cameo. The extremities of the hands
and feet merit more particular admiration. Indeed,
the ancients thought- that elegant fingers and nails
were essential ingredients in the composition of the
beautiful. The most extraordinary circumstance,
however, in these statues, is the want of expression,
and the sameness of countenance, which is to be
observed in all the heads. This approximation to
identity is certainly not fortuitous ; for the artists,
who were able to throw so much varied beauty
into the forms of the bodies, were, no doubt, fully
able to infuse a similar diversity of expression into
the features. Their talent was probably confined
to one style of countenance by some religious pre-

14 uriss <>r AM H-.NT ( i ;

judice. Perl iaps some ancient ami much vcnerat. <!
statue served as a model, from which it mijit
not have been consistent with the feeling of ri
ence, or with the state of opinion, to deviate. The
formation and posture of the bodies afforded a greater
scope and a wider field for the talent of the sculi
for while the Doric severity of the early ./Eginctie
school is evidently diffused through the whole, yet :i
correctness of muscular knowledge; and a strict ad-
herence to natural beauty, are conspicuously blended
in every statue. An unmeaning and inanimate smile is
prevalent in all the faces ; every one of the heroes,
who is mortally wounded, is supporting himself in
the most beautiful attitude, and smiling upon death!
In short, the conquerors and the conquered, the dying
and dead, have all one expression, or rather none at
all. The high finish of the hair is particularly worthy
of notice. Some in curls, which hang down in short
ringlets, are of lead, and still remain. The helmets
were ornamented with metallic accessories, and the
offensive weapons were probably of bronze ; but they
have not been found. All the figures have been
painted; the colour is still visible, though nearly
effaced. The colour on the aegis of Minerva is very
distinguishable ; but the white marble, of which the
statues are composed, has assumed a yellow dye
from the soil in which they were buried."

Dr. Clarke tells us, that Lusieri found here
both medals and vases in such numbers, that he
was under the necessity of dismissing the peasants
who amassed them, without purchasing more than
half that were brought to him ; although they were
offered for a very trifling consideration, and were of
very high antiquity*.

* Wheler; Chandler; Harthclemi; Sandwich; Lusieri; Clarke;

I)o.l well; Williams; Lcakc.



THE citadel of Agrigentum (Sicily) was situated
on Mount Agragas ; the city in the vale below ; form-
ing a magnificent spectacle at a distance. It was
founded by a native of Rhodes, according to Poly-
bius ; but by a colony from Ionia, according to Strabo;
about one hundred and eighty years after the founding
of Syracuse. Thucydides, however, says that it was
founded by a colony from Gela. The government
was at first monarchical ; afterwards democratical.

Phalaris, so well known for his superior talent and
tyranny, usurped the sovereignty, which for some
time afterwards was under the sway of the Cartha-
ginians. In its most flourishing condition, it is said
to have contained not less than two hundred thousand
persons, who submitted, without resistance, to the
superior authority of the Syracusans.

Some idea of the wealth of this city may be ima-
gined, from what is stated by Diodorus Siculus, of
one of its citizens. At the time when Exenetes,
who had been declared victor in the Olympic games*,
entered the city in triumph, he did so in a magnificent
chariot, attended by three hundred more, all drawn
by white horses. Their habits were adorned with
gold and silver ; and nothing was ever more splendid
than their appearance. Gellias, the most wealthy
citizen of the place, erected several apartments in his
house for the reception and entertainment of guests.
Servants waited by his order at the gates of the city,
to invite all strangers to lodge at their master's house,
whither they conducted them. A violent storm
having obliged one hundred horsemen to take shelter
there, Gellias entertained them all in his house, and

* Rollin.

16 uriNs or AM UN i rn n>.

supplied till-in immediately with dry elothes, of which
la- h:nl always a great quantity in his wardn>l>e.

Though this gives us some notion of his wealth,
there is another description still more indicative of
his humanity. He entertained the people with spec-
tacles and feasts ; and, during a famine, prevented the
citizens from dying with hunger; he gave portions to
poor maidens also, and rescued the unfortunate from
want and despair. He had houses built in the city
and the country, purposely for tin- accommodation of
strangers, whom he usually dismissed with handsome
presents. Five hundred shipwrecked citizens of Gela,
applying to him, were bountifully relieved ; and
every man supplied with a cloak and a coat out of
his wardrobe.

Agrigentum was first taken by the Carthagi-
nians. It was strongly fortified. It was situated, as
were Hymera and Selinuntum, on that coast of Sicily
which faces Africa. Accordingly, Hannibal, imagin-
ing that it was impregnable except on one side, turned
his whole force that way. He threw up banks and
terraces as high as the walls ; and made use, on this
occasion, of the rubbish and fragments of the tombs
standing round the city, which he had demolished
for that purpose. Soon after, the plague infected tho
army, and swept away a great number of the soldiers.
The Carthaginians interpreted this disaster as a
punishment inflicted by the gods, who revenged in
this manner the injuries done to the dead, whose
ghosts many fancied they had seen stalking before
them in the night. No more tombs were therefore
demolished ; prayers were ordered to be made accord-
ing to the practice of Carthage ; a child was sacri-
ficed to Saturn, .in compliance with a most inhu-
manly superstitious custom ; and many victims were
thrown into the sea in honour of Neptune.


The besieged, who at first had gained several ad-
vantages, were at last so pressed by famine, that all
hopes of relief seeming desperate, they resolved to
abandon the city. The following night was fixed on
for this purpose. The reader will naturally imagine
to himself the grief with which these miserable people
must be seized, on their being forced to leave their
houses, rich possessions, and their country ; but life
was still dearer to them than all these. Never was
a more melancholy spectacle seen. To omit the rest,
a crowd of women, bathed in tears, were seen drag-
ging after them their helpless infants, in order to
secure them from the brutal fury of the victor. But
the most grievous circumstance was the necessity
they were under of leaving behind them the aged and
sick, who were unable either to fly or to make the
least resistance. The unhappy exiles arrived at Gela,
which was the nearest city in their way, and there
received all the comforts they could expect in the
deplorable condition to which they were reduced.

In the meantime Imilcon entered the city, and
murdered all who were found in it. The plunder was
immensely rich, and such as might be expected from
one of the most opulent cities of Sicily, which con-
tained two hundred thousand inhabitants, and had
never been besieged, nor, consequently, plundered
before. A numberless multitude of pictures, vases,
and statues of all kinds, were found here, the citizens
having an exquisite taste for the polite arts. Among
other curiosities, was the famous bull of Phalaris,
which was sent to Carthage.

At a subsequent period the Romans attacked this
city, then in possession of the Carthaginians ; took it,
and the chief persons of Agrigentum were, by the
consul's order, first scourged with rods, and then be-
headed. The common people were made slaves, and

18 KTINX or VM ir.M 01

sold to the best bidder. After this, Agrigentmn is
seldom mentioned in history ; nor is it easy to a-
tain the precise time in which the old city w.s de-
stroyed, and the new one (Gergenti) was built. It
was crushed in the -c in ral f;ill of the Gr<
and its unfortunate inhabitants, expelled by the Sa-
racens, took refuge among the black aud inaccessible
rocks of Girgenti.

In ancient times, this city was greatly celebrated
for the hospitality and luxurious mode of living,
adopted by its inhabitants. On one side of the city
there was a large artificial lake, about a quarter of a
league in circumference, dug out of the solid rock by
the Carthaginian captives, and to which the water
was conveyed from the hills. It was thirty feet d
great quantities of fish were kept in this reservoir for
the public feasts ; and swans and other fowls
kept upon it for the amusement of the citizens ; and
the depth of its waters secured the city from tin-
sudden assault of an enemy. It is now dry, and
converted into a garden.

It is, nevertheless, a curious fact, that though tin-
whole space within the walls of the ancient city
abounds with traces of antiquity, there arc no ruins
which can be supposed to have belonged to places of
public entertainment. Yet the Agrigentines \
remarkably fond of shows and dramatic amusem<
and their connexion with the Romans must have
introduced among them the savage games of the
circus. Theatres and amphitheatres seem peculiarly
calculated to resist the outrages of time ; yet not a
vestige of these are to be seen on the site of Agri-
gentum. They appear, however, to have been quit
alive to the pleasures to be derived from sculpture and
The Temple of Juno was adorned by one of the


most famous pictures of antiquity ; which is cele-
brated by many of the ancient writers. Zeuxis was
determined to excel any thing that had gone before
him, and to form a model of human perfection. To
this end, he prevailed on all the finest women of
Agrigentum, who were ambitious of the honour,
to appear naked before him. Of these he chose five
for his models ; and moulding all the perfections of
these beauties into one, he composed the picture of
the goddess. This was ever looked upon as his
masterpiece ; but was, unfortunately, burnt when the
Carthaginians took Agrigentum. At that period,
many of the citizens retired into this temple, as to a
place of safety ; but as soon as they found the gates
attacked by the enemy, they agreed to set fire to it,
and chose rather to perish in the flames, than submit
to the power of the conqueror. In the Temple of
Hercules, there was another picture by Zeuxis.
Hercules was represented, in his cradle, killing the
two serpents ; Alcmena and Amphitrion, having just
entered the apartment, were painted with every mark
of terror and astonishment. Pliny says, the painter
looked upon this piece as invaluable ; and, therefore,
could never be prevailed upon to put a price upon it ;
but gave it as a present to the people of Agrigentum,
to be placed in the temple of Hercules.

The temples, also, were very magnificent. That
of j^Esculapius, two columns and two pilasters
of which now support the end of a farm-house,
was not less celebrated for a statue of Apollo. It
was taken from them by the Carthaginians, at the
same time that the Temple of Juno was burnt. It
was carried off by the conquerors, and continued the
greatest ornament of Carthage for many years ; but
was, at last, restored by Scipio, at the final destruc-
tion of the city. Some of the Sicilians allege, but it
c 2

20 nt INS in

\s supposed without ground, that this statue was
afterward carried to Rome, and still remain- (here,
the wonder of all ages ; and known to the whole
world, under the name of the Apollo Belvi<!

An edifice of the I>oric order, called the Temple of
Concord, has still its walls, its columns, entablature,
and pediments, entire. In proceeding from the Temple
of Concord, you walk between rows of sepulchn -,
cut in the rock, wherever it admitted of hein^ exca-
vated by the hand of man, or was so already by that
of nature. Some masses arc hewn into the shape of
coffins; others drilled full of small square holes,
employed in a different mode of interment, and scrv i n^
as receptacles of urns. One ponderous piece, of the
rock lies in an extraordinary position. By the failure
of its foundation, or tho shock of an earthquake, it
has been loosened from the general quarry, and rolled
down the declivity, where it now remains supine,
with the cavities turned upwards. There was also a
temple dedicated to Ceres and Proserpine ; with the
ruins was formed a church, which now exists ; and
the road, leading to which, was cut out of the solid
rock. In respect to the temple of Castor and Pollux,
vegetation has covered the lower parts of the build-
ing, and only a few fragments of two column- appear
between the vines. Of the Temple of Venus, about
one half remains ; but the glory of the place was the
Temple of Jupiter Olympius, three hundred and forty
feet long, sixty broad, and one hundred and twenty
in height. Its columns and porticos were in the
finest style of architecture ; and its bas-reliefs and
paintings executed with admirable taste. On its
eastern walls was sculptured the Battle of the Giant- ;
while the western represented the Trojan War; cor-
responding exactly with the description which Virgil
had given of the painting in the Temple of Juno at


Diodorus Siculus extols the beauty of the columns
which supported the building ; the admirable struc-
ture of the porticos, and the exquisite taste with
which the bas-reliefs and paintings were executed ;
but he adds, that the stately edifice was never finished.
Cicero, against Verres, speaks of the statues he car-
ried away. Mr. Swinburne says, that it has remain-
ing not one stone upon another; and that it is barely
possible, with the liberal aid of conjecture, to discover
the traces of its plan and dimensions. He adds, how-
ever, that St. Peter's at Rome exceeds this celebrated
temple more than doubly in every dimension ; being
two hundred and fifteen feet higher, three hundred
and thirty-four longer, and four hundred and thirty-
three wider.

Added to these, there is now remaining a monu-
ment of Tero, king of Agrigentum, one of the first of
the Sicilian tyrants. The great antiquity of this
monument may be gathered from this ; that Tero is
not only mentioned by Diodorus, Polybius, and the
more modern of the ancient historians, but likewise
by Herodotus, and Pindar, who dedicates two of his
Olympic Odes to him ; so that this monument must
be much more than two thousand years old. It is a
kind of pyramid, the most durable of forms ; and is
surrounded by aged olive-trees, which cast a wild,
irregular shade over the ruin.

All these mighty ruins of Agrigentum, and the
whole mountain on which it stands, says Mr. Bry-
done, is composed of an immense concretion of sea-
shells, run together, and cemented by a kind of sand,
or gravel, and now become as hard, and perhaps more
durable, than even marble itself. This stone is white
before it has been exposed to the air ; but in the
temples and other ruins it is become " set," of a very
dark brown. These shells are found on the very


summit df tln> mountain, which i> at lea-t fourteen ni
fifteen hundred feet above the level of the sea.

The celebrated Empedocles was a native of this
city ; one of the finest* spirits that ever adorned Un-
earth. His saying, in regard to his fellow- eiti/rn-,
is -well known; vi/., that they wjuandeiv.1 their
money so excessively every day, that they seemed to
expect it could never be cxhausto 1 ; :m<l that tliey
built with such solidity and magnificence, as if they
thought they should live for ever *.


IT has been stated, or rather speculated upon, that
the entire history of this place is no other than a
romance. By Dionysius of Halieaniassus, however,
it is said to have existed four hundred and eighty-
. seven years; when, after having been the found-
thirty other Latin cities, it was destroyed by the
Roman power.

That it existed, is also attested by the ruins that
now remain. Its ancient characteristics arc thus
described by Dionysius : it was so built, with
regard to its mountain and lake, that it occupied a
space between them, each serving like a wall of
defence to the city.

It was long supposed to have been situated where
Palazzuolo now is. Sir W. Gell says, " On pasi-iui:
up the new road, running from the dry bed of the
river Albanus, where it crosses the Appian Way,
near Bolerilloe, and leading to the Villa Torlonia, or
Castel Gandolfo, a few ancient tombs were observed
about half way up the ascent ; and further examina-
tion showed, that these tombs had once bordered an
ancient road, now almost obliterated. It was obvious,

* Livy, Cicero, Diodorui Siculu*, Rollin, Drydonc ; Knc\ 1.
Land., firewater's Kncy).


that such a road must have led from some place on
the plain, to another on the mountain. Toward the
sea, the high tower of Pratica (Lavinium) lay in the
direct line of the road ; and it Deemed certain that the
city on the mountain, to which it led, could have
been no other than Alba Longa. Climbing upward
among the bushes, ponderous blocks of stone were
discovered, evidently the remains of the walls of this
city. By a farther search, more were found. At a
distance a small cavern was discovered ; and not only
the remains of a well, but part of a column of stone,
two feet four inches in diameter. At a higher point
the shore was covered with ruins, consisting of large
blocks of rectangular stones, nearly buried in the soil,
and scarcely discernible among the bushes."

There is a tradition, that the palaces of the kings
of Alba stood on a rock ; and so near to the edge of
the precipice, that when the impiety of one of its
monarchs provoked Jupiter to strike' it with his
lightning, a part of the mass was precipitated into
the lake, carrying the impious king along with the
ruins of his habitation. This tradition is apparently
confirmed by a singular feature in a part of the re-
mains of this city ; for, directly under the rock of the
citadel, toward the lake, and where the palace, both
for security and prospect, would have been placed,
is a cavern, fifty feet in depth, and more than one
hundred in width ; a part of the roof of which has
evidently fallen in, and some of the blocks still remain
on the spot ""'.


THIS town (in Spain) was built by the Moors,
who gave it the name it bears ; which, in the Moorish
language, signifies a bridge ; and this bridge shows
* Dionysius of Halicarnassus : Sir W. Gell,


that the city In-longed to the Romaic in tlio
time of Tr;ij:m ; for on one of tho arches is this
inscription :




Formerly there were four pieces of marble, fixed
in the walls of the bridge; in each of \vhirh tin- re was
an inscription, containing the names of tho several
towns and districts, that contributed towards tin-
expense of making it. Three of these marbles are
lost ; but the fourth remains, and bears the following
inscription :












At tho entrance of the bridge there is a small
temple, cut in the rock, by the same person that l>uilt
the bridge. The roof of this temple consists of two
large stones. In the temple there is an inscription to
the following effect : " It it reasonable to imagine,
that every one, that jwtses thi tray, would be glad to
know the name of the person that built thi Ay/'A/v ,///>/
temple; and icith what intent they were made, by


cutting into this rock of the Tagus, fall of the ma-
jesty of the Gods, and of Ccesar, and where art showed
itself superior to the tough and stubborn matter that
resisted her. Know, then, that it was that noble
architect Lacer, who built this bridge, which will last
as long as the world. Lacer, having finished this
noble bridge, made and dedicated this new temple,
with sacrifices, to the gods, in hopes of rendering them
propitious to him, for having honoured them after
this manner. This temple he dedicated to the gods of
Rome, and to Ccesar ; looking upon himself to have
been extremely fortunate, in having been able to make
so just and p roper a sacrifice*."


OF the several capitals of Egypt in successive
agest, Thebes, or Diospolis, was the most ancient.
Next was Memphis ; itself a city of the most remote
antiquity. Babylon seems to have been only the
capital of a part, retained by the Persians, after
Cambyscs had subdued Egypt ; and was, by all
accounts, founded by the Persians. Alexandria suc-
ceeded Memphis, and remained the chief city, till
the Saracens founded Misr-el-Kahira.

Alexander, in his way to the temple of Jupiter
Ammon, observed, opposite to the island of Pharos,

Online LibraryCharles BuckeRuins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 36)