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of the sculptor's art. It was discovered near the Baths of



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196 THE laocoon.

Titus, on the Esqniline Hill, in the year 1779, and is sculp-
tured in Parian marble.

We now come to the cabinet containing that wonderful
group, the Laocoon, — a group bo familiar to all the world
from its representation in every picture-book of Rome,
child's histories, and plaster reproductions in art galleries,
and even paintings. A group so well known to you as this
can hardly excite much enthusiasm, you think. But wait
till you see this, the original, and you will find, like all the
great wonders of ancient statuary, the originals are really
inimitable, — they cannot be successfully copied. You
seem to see the boauties, the grandeur, the story, in marble,
the poetry of the sculptor that you have heard, read, and
studied, and tried to appreciate when looking at copies, now
for the first time, as you gaze upon the great original.

And an enjoyment it is to gaze upon the very statue
described by Pliny as Btanding in the palace of the Emperor
Titus, sculptured from a Bingie block of marble. Yes, here
was a group of statuary described by an historian not half
a century after the death of the Saviour, which was taken
from the ruins fourteen hundred and fifty years afterwards
at the very place in which he had located it ; for it was dug
out of the ruins of the palace of the conqueror of Jerusa-
lem in 1506. This grand group must of Course have been
a perfectly ideal one, for the sculptors could have had no
model representing men in the folds of enormous snakes,
nor the convulsions of their bodies while in the agony of
those terrible coils ; and yet the highest authorities of each
succeeding generation pronounce them perfect in all ana-
tomical details, and the agony of expression all that the
most careful study of features, aided by powerful imagina-
tion on the part of the artist, could accomplish. The artists
had in their mind the perpetuation of a great event in the,
to them, divine history of the gods, — the punishment of a
priest of Apollo and his sous at the very altar by the god's
messengers of wrath, the serpents.



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A STOBY IN HABBLB. 19T

Laocoon, as the story goes, was engaged in offering a
sacrifice to Neptune, when Apollo sent two enormous ser-
pents from the island of Tenedos, to destroy him. Hast-
ening through the sea, they seized upon the priest and
his sons upon the very steps of the altar, and destroyed
them, and by their death decided the fate of Troy ; for it
was Laocoon, it will be remembered, who warned the Trojans
against the great wooden horse left behind by the Oreeks
after their apparent retreat, and, his death being considered
divine judgment, his advice was unheeded, a breach made
in the wall for the admission of the Orecian image, and the
result was Troy's ruin.

I need not describe the group, — the magnificent figure
of the father falling back upon the altar, his superb head
and the features upon which the excess of agony is visible,
the thorough anatomical study that is visible in every detail
in the whole group, the contrast of action of the elder to
that of the more youthful figures, the management of the
serpents, whose coils, although they inclose the whole
group, are so arranged by the sculptor that they shall in no
way mar the proportions of the figures or conceal any of
their beauties.

It is a story in marble that you may study for hours ; it is
a conception the ingenuity of which you may wonder at ;
it is a work, the laborious care and skill of execution of
which may well fill you with wonder and astonishment, and
one respecting which many have agreed with Michael Angelo,
who at the time of its discovery pronounced it to be a
miracle of art. A more modern critic, George S. Hillard,
an American classical scholar and author, very truly says,
" It stands upon the very line by' which the art of sculpture
is divided from poetry and painting," and " is one of those
productions that would have been pronounced impossible
had they never been executed."

One wonder follows on another's heels, and too fast they
follow, too, for real enjoyment in these four chapels of art,



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198 THE APOLLO BELVEDERE.

for the art lover who for the first time pays his devotions
in each. If he does it, as nearly all do, at one visit, he
must indeed feed to very gluttony on art ; for either one of
these, it seems to me, ought to be enjoyed by separate
visits ; but it is these great wonders of art, like many other
European sights, must be enjoyed as we have opportunity.
So we must thrust aside for the time being all our thoughts
and contemplations of the Laocoon for that noblest embodi-
ment of a god in marble — the Apollo Belvedere.

There he stands in the well-known and graceful attitude,
his face one of noble and god-like beauty, the pose of the
graceful head with its luxurious and flowing ringlets indeed
like that of a god, the lofty brow noble and intellectual,
and the graceful drapery over the left arm just sufficient to
relieve the slender but beautifully rounded figure, radiant
with youthful beauty. It is a statue that is simple, grand,
and fascinating ; its grace, lightness, and animation go to
every heart ; and this statue is also one that we find we have
hardly had a correct idea of until now gazing upon the
original, for the reason that, on looking at the original, the
inferiority of copies is appreciated.

There seems to be a controversy among antiquaries and
critics respecting the Apollo Belvedere statue. The gener-
ally accepted theory was, and still is with many, that the
god is represented as just having discharged a shaft from his
" unerring bow " at the serpent Python, with fatal effect.
Byron, in " Childe Harold," calls him " Lord of the un-
erring bow," and says:

" The shaft has just been shot • . •
With an immortal's vengeance."

Another poet, Henry Hart Milman, adopts the same ex-
planation in his perfect description of this elegant statue in
the following lines :

" Bright kindling with a conqueror's stern delight,
His keen eye tracks the arrow's fateful flight ;



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"lobd op the unerring bow," 199

Burns his indignant cheek with vengeful fire,
And his lip quivers with insulting ire ;
Firm fixed his tread, yet light as when on high
He walked the impalpable and pathless sky ;
The rich luxuriance of his hair, confined
In graceful ringlets, wantons in the wind
That lifts in sport his mantle's drooping fold,
Proud to display that form of faultless mould."

The restorations of the right forearm and left hand were
made in accordance with this theory of the statue represent-
ing the god standing in the position as just having discharged
the arrow at Python ; but it seems that the discovery of a
statuette in all points similar to that of the Apollo Belve-
dere, and evidently copied from the same original, shows
that the original did not hold the bow in his hand, but the
aBgis or shield of Jupiter, made for him by Vulcan, bearing
upon its front the head of MeduBa, and used for putting to
flight a fatal enemy. The aegis bearing Medusa's head was
symbol of storm and tempest, and was lent to Apollo, ac-
cording to Homer's Iliad, and with it he drove back the
hosts of the Achaians. Hence it is decided by some author-
ities that the extended left arm (restored) bore the terrify-
ing shield, and that by the same reason the left hand, also
a restoration, is not in correct position.

It is unpleasant to have all our early dreams and the idols
of our imagination thus rudely shattered, and, notwith-
standing the antiquarian research which places a shield upon
the arm instead of a bow in the hand, I still hold that as
" lord of the unerring bow " the statue better fills out one's
idea of the true representation of the god. This grand
work of art, supposed to have been executed in the time of
Nero, was discovered near Antium in 1503, and was among
the earliest specimens of ancient sculpture placed in the
Vatican, forming, in fact, a nucleus around which a large
portion of the present collection of the gallery of statues
has gathered.

Around, in the vicinity of this court of the Belvedere, are



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200 A MENAGERIE IN M ABB LB.

several magnificent specimens of huge bathing-tubs cut from
elegant red porphyry, red granite, or porphyry and black
basalt. These great tubs are huge in size, but elegantly
sculptured, susceptible of, and have a polish on them like
glass, and were found at the Baths of Caracalla ; and, with
their sculptured lions' heads, rings cut from the solid stone,
and excellent workmanship, are as striking specimens of the
luxury of their time and evidenco of the abundance of
skilled labor in those days as can be produced ; for the labor
upon them must have been enormous, and the skill required
to produce the artistic effect, displayed even in these com-
paratively common objects, is of no common order, as can
easily be seen by the visitor.

In the hall, in the immediate vicinity of the Apollo Bel-
vedere, stands a statue larger than life of Hygieia, with the
symbolic serpent about her arm, and cup in hand. This
figure will strike every person who has ever seen the
Zcnobia of the American sculptor, Miss Hosmer, by its
many pointa of resemblance, and suggests the thought that
the artist of the latter figure may have used this as a study.

From these art chapels, where we have been paying our
homage to the grand art models of the world, we pass on to
what might perhaps be denominated a menagerie in marble,
which is known as the Hall of Animals, and is the rarest
and finest collection of animals in Greek and Roman sculp-
ture in existence. Having passed two colossal dogs that
guard the entrance, we find an inlaid pavement, black and
white pilasters of Egyptian granite, and rich and beautiful
marbles and mosaics attracting the gaze.

Of what is before us we can take but a passing glance.
The two greyhounds playing together, a graceful group ; the
Hercules dragging away the Nemaaan lion ; a fine statue of
Commodus on horseback ; a beautiful group, well preserved,
of a shepherd sleeping, with his goats grazing about him ;
beautiful group of a stag attacked by a dog. But I shall
only be re-enumerating a catalogue to go on ; suffice it to



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THB HALL OF STATUES* 201

Say that there is sufficient of the curious as well as the ar-
tistic work of the sculptor's chisel to make one long to give
more time than the author could devote to it. I remember
among other objects an admirably sculptured goose in a per-
fectly natural attitude, showing that the sculptor had studied
the habits of the bird of the Capitol ; a toad in antique re4
marble, and a lobster in green, looking very like a real one ;
magnificent lions, a panther in striped marble, and a superb
tiger in Egyptian granite ; a huge lion in gray marble, the
very king of beasts himself ; and to my astonishment a cow,
sculptured from brown marble, an admirably executed figure,
too ; and a sow surrounded by twelve pigs.

Tou are astonished at the fidelity of execution and the
life and grace that seem to be put into the stony repre-
sentations of animals who would seem to be out of the pale
of art, be it rhinoceros' or camel's heads, baboon, or even a
hedgehog, rats and crabs, for they are all here.

The Hall of Statues, so called, is a magnificent gallery
richly decorated, and the pavement inlaid with beautiful
marbles of different colors. Great marble pilasters with
Ionic capitals of white marble support grand arches and
superbly decorated vaults and ceiling. The hall is a long
gallery with walls of marble, a wondrous decoration above,
and a double line of great masterpieces of art on either side
for the visitor to inspect, aud directly in the middle of the
hall a superb bath of Oriental alabaster.

In this hall stands the statue of Clodius Albinus, the col-
league, but afterwards the opponent of Septimius Severus.
The armor of this figure is sculptured with dancing figures,
and the statue itself stands upon a pedestal upon which is
inscribed that it marked where Caius Caesar's remains were
burned. A sitting figure of Pans, larger than life, I halted
to examine, because the names of the artisans of the im-
perial mint, who in the time of Trajan dedicated it to Her-
cules, are sculptured upon one side of the pedestal, to the
number of more than sixty in all.



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202 NBBO AS APOLLO !

Here you will see a specimen of the supposed original
work of Praxiteles, which is therefore, I suppose, denomi-
nated in the guide-books as the Genius of the Vatican. It
is the half figure of a Cupid in Parian marble, the wings
gone, but the place at the shoulders where they were fast-
ened distinctly visible. The statue was brought from
Greece by Caligula, and is spoken of by Pliny as having
been admired in the portico of Octavia. It was discovered
by Gavin Hamilton, a Scotch painter, in the Via Labicana.
It is a figure of most exquisite expression, and the head
especially a marvellously beautiful piece of sculpture.

If the visitor undertakes to examine and study all the
sculptures in this gallery carefully, he will find that he has
no light task before him ; nor can the author undertake to
enumerate even the most distinguished.

The celebrated statue of Ariadne, daughter of Minos,
lying upon the rock on the sea-shore of Naxos, after being
abandoned by her unfaithful lover, is another story in mar-
ble. The countenance displays grief and despondency even
in sleep ; the head resting upon one arm, and the other
thrown above it, the graceful folds of drapery over the
lower limbs, and the tunic that has partly dropped from the
left shoulder revealing the beautiful bosom, — are details
wrought out iu the marble with such faithfulness and exqui-
site skill that I cannot resist referring to this beautiful
statue.

Nor can I pass un mentioned a sitting figure of Nero as
Apollo (heaven save the mark !) He is represented as
crowned with laurel and playing on the lyre, and the statue
is one of the few that escaped the destruction ordered by
the senate and the outraged Roman people.

This Gallery of Statues and the Hall of Busts are, as it
were, all one collection, and divided only by an archway,
the latter being a continuation of the former. On each side
of this archway sat two grand figures in easy attitudes, as
if resting themselves in their senatorial chairs after having



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HALL OF THE MUSES. 203

delivered an oration. Supposing they must have been great
orators or emperors, I consulted my catalogue to find that
they were Posidippus and Menander, two Greek poets, or
rather masters of Greek comedy, supposed to be the original
works of Cephisodotus, son of Praxiteles. They are both in
excellent preservation, and fine specimens of portrait statues.

A specimen of the oldest arid best style of Greek sculp-
ture is a colossal sitting statue of Jupiter, represented hold-
ing his thunderbolts and sceptre, and with the eagle at his
feet. This was one of the first sculptures placed in the Hall
of Busts, and is one of the best in it. Portrait busts in
abundance we must pass with a glance, such as that of
Hadrian, found at Tivoli ; the best known bust of Caracalla ;
a beautiful head of I sis crowned with diadem and lotus
flower ; a beautiful helmeted head called Menelaus, the helmet
adorned with sculptured representations of the combats of
Hercules and the Centaurs. This portion of the Gallery of
Statues, known as the Hall of Busts, although a small part
of the museum, is rich in likenesses, and is really quite an
important and interesting one in an historical or mythological
point of view.

Out from the Hall of Animals I strolled into another, —
Sola delle Muse, Hail of the Muse, — an octagonal hall en-
riched by sixteen Corinthian columns of gray Carrara marble
brought from Hadrian's Villa, and paved with rich ara-
besques and mosaics. What a beautiful room this seemed,
the very chosen home of art, — the softened light streaming
down from above, its large dome decorated with elegant fres-
cos appropriate for the place, such as paintings of Homer
singing his poem and Minerva listening in the clouds above,
Apollo and the Muses ; Tasso, Virgil, and other poets.

Besides myself, there chanced to be but two other visitors
whom I could see, and they were standing motionless in mute
admiration of the noble and graceful figure of Melpomene,
one of the best of the statues of the Muses, from which this
chamber takes its name.



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204 THB MUSES IN MABBLE.

Standing, poniard and mask in hand, with her loose
hair intermingled with grapes, a grave expression of counte-
nance, and beautifully sculptured drapery, the figure was
one with so many lines of beauty visible, that it is worth
more study than we could give it, for here were her sisters,
also, to claim our notice : Thalia, seated with her sandalled
feet peeping from beneath her robe, and her head crowned
with ivy ; Terpsichore, with her ivy crown and musical lyre ;
Calliope, which some consider the finest of the whole, seated
in meditative attitude upon a rock with tablets in hand, and
drapery so perfect as to make that portion of the sculp-
tor's work absolutely faultless — artistic perfection ; Clio,
crowned with laurel, with scroll of papyrus across her
knees ; Urania, globe and stylus in hand ; Polyhymnia,
with head wreathed with roses, and the rich folds of her
mantle falling to her feet ; Erato, with tortoise-shell lyre ;
— - all these beautiful figures sculptured elegantly in marble,
and, with the exception of Urania and Erato, I think, were
discovered at the rustic villa of Cassius, in Tivoli, in 1774.

Here is a fine 6tatue of Silenus clothed in a tiger-skin, and
squeezing a bunch of grapes into a cup, a sort of primitive
wine-making that has been improved upon. Then there was
a bust with such a Silenus cast of countenance. that one
might welLtake it for a head of the foster-father of Bacchus,
had not the Greek sculptor taken care to have cut the name
of* Socrates upon it. We are reminded, however, that
although Socrates was the greatest philosopher of his age,
he was one of the ugliest-looking men of his time. This
may be comforting to those remarkably plain-looking people
of our own day, who are generally most enthusiastic in
praising the beauties of the mind.

Then there was old Diogenes, like many people nowadays,
whose rude manners were endured on account of his smart
sayings. While* I was looking at the statue of Lycurgus,
the Spartan legislator, who stands pointing to his eye de-
stroyed by a passionate youth in one of the tumults which



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A SUSPECTED CHARACTER. 205

his reforms excited, and remembering that I had studied the
story that this bearded old law-maker had abolished gold and
silver currency, and substituted iron in its stead, I remem-
bered that we did not erect statues in America to those who
compelled us to use substitutes for gold and silver, but were
more inclined to immortalize those who should restore to
us the metallic circulating medium.

These meditations were interrupted, however, by the offi-
cial whose duty it was to warn us that the time had arrived
to move on, as the museum was to close, and who seemed
to have an Italian suspicion that the pencilled notes grasped
in my hand were some species of illegal memoranda that
laid me open to suspicion ; whereupon a sharp discussion
ensued between that functionary and my valet de place,
which was ended satisfactorily, as I had " taken no draw-
ings/' and gratefully on the part of the custodian, who was
now getting better acquainted with us, as he pocketed a
franc pour boire.

Are we never to get through with this museum of statues,
this wilderness of marble ? Verily, I thought so myself, as
I sauntered among them day after day, hour after hour,
and almost guiltily felt that I had passed by many serried
rows without even a glance, in order to see those which
none could afford to miss. So, when I stood in the rotunda,
or circular hall of the Vatican, " Sala Rotonda " they call
it, I found that this was one of those halls that should on no
account be omitted.

The architect who built this beautiful hall took his idea
for its form from the dome of the Parthenon, and it seems
as if built especially to receive its grand central ornament,
a magnificent cup of red porphyry, forty-six feet in circum-
ference, found in the Baths of Diocletian. This cup or vase,
which looks like a great card-receiver, is so beautifully
polished as to seem partly filled with water. One can but
reflect what an enormous amount of time and labor, to say
nothing of skill, must have been expended on this vase,



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206 SALA. BOTONDA.

since, even if it could be reproduced to-day, it would not
pay to do it, the expense would be so great. It stands
upon the largest and most beautiful mosaic known, which
was found at Otricoli in 1780. It is a series of concentric
bands, representing combats of centaurs, water-nymphs,
tritons, and sea-monsters, and beautiful wreaths of flowers,
with a grand head of Medusa in the centre. The outside
border of the passage around the hall is in black-and-white
ancient mosaic, representing scenes in the life of Ulysses,
Neptune and his sea-horses, and other mythological monsters.

The cupola of this beautiful hall is upheld by ten fluted
pilasters of Carrara marble, between each two of which are
niches to hold the large statues ; and before each pilaster
are red marble brackets for the busts, which, with the ele-
gant gilding and ornamental wall-painting, combine to
render this an appropriate and rich casket for the gems it
contains.

The principal attraction is the colossal bronze statue of
Hercules, twelve feet in height, which was discovered in
1864, hidden in a marble case, while digging to repair the.
foundation of a palace that now stands where once stood
the Theatre of Pompey. The statue represents Hercules
leaning upon his club, with a lion's skin thrown over his
left arm. In one hand he holds the Hesperidian fruit, and
the whole form exhibits the strength which the demigod was
said to possess.

Another colossal statue of note is that of Antinous, with
ringlets flowing down over neck and shoulders, and head
crowned with flowers. Then there is the colossal head of
Hadrian, found in his mausoleum, now the Castle of St.
Angelo (which has already been described), and supposed to
have belonged to a colossal statue of the emperor. The
Juno Barberini, which stands in another of the ten arches
of this rotunda, is a superb colossal statue, and said to be
one of the most perfect specimens of antique sculpture in
existence. Of course it is " said to be," or " supposed to



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HALL OF THE GREEK CROSS. 207

be," a fine copy of a similar work by Praxiteles. He and
Phidias were probably quoted by the Roman and Grecian
critics of sculpture, as Garrick and Cooke are to-day by our
modern theatrical scribblers. The noble expression of the
face of this statue is that of a goddess, its finish admirable,
its arrangement of drapery and whole execution grand, and
all artists recognize in it a masterpiece in marble.

I cannot leave the rotunda without a word respecting the
beautiful colossal Bitting statue of the first good Roman
emperor, Nerva, who had no claim for that rank but a good
character and correct life, something rare in those who
aspired to be emperors in his day. This statue is one of
the real treasures of antiquity preserved in the Vatican, and
represents Nerva with majestic countenance, characterized
by force and dignity. The upper part of the body is bare
and the head crowned with a bronze wreath of oak-leaves.
Merivale, in his " History of the Romans under the Empire,"
says this statue embodies " the highest ideal of the Roman
magnate, the finished warrior, statesman, and gentleman of
an age of varied training and wide practical experience ; "
and "if we really contemplate his likeness in the noble
figure in the Vatican, we may fairly say of the prince, as the
historian affirms of the general, ' You might easily deem him
good, you would willingly believe him great.' "

As the hall of the rotunda was specially designed for its
contents, so in a measure was that known as the Hall of the
Greek Cross, so called from its shape, it being divided into



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