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A classical tour through Italy, an. MDCCCII (Volume 1) online

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To conclude, in the whole Universe, there are
only two cities interesting alike to every member
of the great Christian commonwealth, to every
citizen of the civilized world, whatever may be
his tribe or nation — Rome and Jerusalem. The
former calls up every classic recollection, the lat-
ter awakens every sentiment of devotion ; the one
brings before our eyes all the splendors of the
present world ; the other, all the glories of the

" Numine Deum electa," says Pliny, " quae coelum ipsum
clarius faceret, sparsa congregaret imperia, ritusque molliret,
et tot populorum discordes ferasque liuguas, sermonis com-
mercio contraheret ad coUoquia, et humanitatem homini daret;
breviterque una cunctarum gentium in toto orbe, patria
fieret*." Nat. Hist. iii. cap. v.

At te, quze domitis leges, ac jura dedisti
Gentibus, instituens magnus qua tenditur orbis
Armoruni, morumque feros rnansuescere ritus t«

Prudent: contra Sym:

* Chosen by the gods to make Heaven itself more clear,
to collect scattered empires into one, and to soften their man-
ners, and to unite by the intercourse of one common speech,
the discordant and savage languages of so many nations,
and to humanize mankind, and in a word to be the universal
country of all the nations of the world.

f The nations that thy conqu'ring arms confest,
By thee with wisdom and with laws were blest ;
In war, in peace, where'er man's race is found.
They grew less savage, as thy sway they own'd.


world to come. By a singular dispensation of
Providence, the names and influence of these two
illustrious Capitals are combined in the same
grand dispensation ; and as Jerusalem was or-
dained to receive, Rome was destined to propa-
gate " the light that leads to heaven." The cross
which Jerusalem erected on Mount Calvary, Rome
fixed on the diadem of emperors ; and the pro-
phetic songs of Mount Sion, have resounded
from the seven hills, to the extremities of the earth.
— How natural then is the emotion of the traveller,
when he first beholds the distant domes of a city
of such figure in the History of the Universe, of
such weight in the destinies of mankind, so familiar
to the imagination of the boy, so interesting to
the feelings of the man !

While occupied in these reflections, we passed
Monte Mario, and beheld the city gradually open-
ing to our view : turrets and cupolas succeeded
each other, with long lines of palaces between, till
the dome of the Vatican lifting its majestic form
far above the rest, fixed the eye, and closed the
scene with becoming grandeur. We crossed the
Tiber by the Potite Molle (Pons Milvius, the Mil-
vian bridge), and proceeding on the Via Flaminia
(iheFlaminian Way), through the suburb, entered
the Porta del Popolo^ admired the beautiful square
that receives the traveller on his entrance, and
drove to the. Piazza (T Espagna. Alighting, we


instantly hastened to St. Peter's traversed its su-
perb court, contemplated in silence its obelisk, its
fountains, its colonnade, walked up its lengthening
nave, and before its altar, offered up our grateful
acknowledgments in " the noblest temple that
human skill ever raised to the honor of the

Next morning we renewed our visit to St.
Peter's, and examined it more in detail : the pre-
ceding day it had been somewhat veiled by the
dimness of the evening ; it was now lighted up
by the splendors of the morning sun. The rich
marbles that compose its pavement and line its
walls, the paintings that adorn its cupolas, the
bronze that enriches its altars and railings, the
gilding that lines the pannels of its vault, the
mosaics that rise one above the other in brilliant
succession up its dome, shone forth in all their
varied colors. Its nave, its aisles, its transepts,
expanded their vistas, and hailed the spectator
wherever he turned, with a long succession of
splendid objects, and beautiful arrangement ; in
short, the whole of this most majestic fabric
opened itself at once to the sight, and filled the
eye and the imagination with magnitude, propor-
tion, riches, and grandeur.

From St. Peters we hastened to the Capitol,
and ascending the tower, seated ourselves under
the shade of its pinnacle, and fixed our eyes on


the view beneath and around us. That view was
no other than ancient and modern Rome. Behind
us, the modern town lay extended over the Campus
Martins, and spreading along the banks of the
Tiber formed a curve round the base of the Capitol.
Before us, scattered in vast black shapeless masses
over the seven hills, and through the intervening
vallies, arose the ruins of the ancient city. They
stood desolate, amidst solitude and silence, with
groves of funereal cypress waving over them ; the
awful monuments, not of individuals, but of gene-
rations ; not of men, but of empires.

A distant view of ^gina and of Megara, of
the Piraeus and of Corinth then in ruins, melted
the soul of an ancient Roman, for a while sus-
pended his private sorrows, and absorbed his
sense of personal affliction, in a more expansive
and generous compassion for the fate of cities and
of states *. What then must be the emotions of

* " Ex Asi^ rediens, cum ab Jigin^ Megaram versus na-
vigarem, ccepi regiones circumcirca prospicere. Post me
erat iEgina, ante Megara, dextra Piraeus, sinistra Corinthus ;
quae oppida quodam tempore florentissima fuerunt, nunc pros-
trata ac diruta, ant^ oculos jacent. Coepi egomet mecum sic
cogitare. Hem! nos homunculi indignamur, si quis nos-
trum interiit, aut occisus est, quorum vita brevior esse debet,
cum uno loco tot oppidum cadavera projecta jaceant?" —
Cic. ad Fam. Lib. iv Ep. 5.

" On my return from Asia, as I sailed from -Slgina to-


the man who beholds extended in disordered heaps
before him, the disjointed " carcase of fallen
Rome/* once the abode of the gods, the grand
receptacle of nations, " the common asylum of

Immediately under our eyes, and at the foot
of the Capitol, lay the Forum lined with solitary
columns, and terminated at each end by a trium-
phal arch. Beyond and just before us, rose the
Palatine Mount encumbered with the substructions
of the Imperial Palace, and of the Temple of
Apollo ; and farther on, ascended the Celian
Mount with the Temple of Faunus on its summit.
On the right was the Aventine spotted with heaps
of stone swelling amidst its lonely vineyards. To
the left the Esquiline with its scattered tombs and
tottering aqueducts ; and in the same line, the
Viminal, and the Quirinal supporting the once
magnificent Baths of Diocletian. The Baths of
Antoninus, the Temple of Minerva, and many a

wards Megara, I began to examine the regions around me.
Behind me was ^gina, before me Megara, on my right hand
the Pirzeus, on my left Corinth, all which towns were for-
merly in the highest degree flourishing, but now lie before
my eyes prostrate and in ruins. I began thus to commune
with myself. How ? shall we, poor mortals, be indignant if
one of us dies, or is slain, when our lives ought rather to be
shorter than they are, since the skeletons of so many towns
lie prostrate and neglected on one spot ! "


venerable fabric bearing on its shattered form the
traces of destruction, as well as the furrows of age.
Jay scattered up and down the vast field ; while
the superb temples of St. John Lateran, Santa
Maria Maggiore, and Santa Croce, arose with
their pointed obelisks, majestic but solitary monu-
ments, amidst the extensive waste of time and of
desolation. The ancient walls, a vast circum-
ference, formed a frame of venerable aspect, well
adapted to this picture of ruin, this cemetery of
ages, " Ro7nani bustiim populi*"

Beyond the walls the eye ranged over the
storied plain of Latium now the deserted Cam-
pagna, and rested on the Alban Mount, which
rose before us to the south shelving downwards
on the west towards Antium and the Tyrrhene
sea, and on the east towards the Latin vale.
Here, it presents Tusculum in white lines on its
declivity ; there, it exhibits the long ridge that
overhangs its lake once the site of Alba Longa,
and towering boldly in the centre with a hundred
towns and villas on its sides, it terminates in a
point once crowned with the triumphal temple
of Jupiter Latialis. Turning eastward we beheld
the Tiburtine hills, with Tibur reclining on their
side ; and behind, still more to the east, the Sabine

The sepulchre of the Roman people.


mountains enclosed by the Apennines, which at
the varying distance of from forty to sixty miles
swept round to the east and north, forming an
immense and bold boundary of snow. The Montes
Cimini (theCirainian Mountains), and several lesser
hills, diverging from the great parent ridge the Pater
Apenninns (Father Apennine), continue the chain
till it nearly reaches the sea and forms a perfect
theatre. Mount Soracte thirty miles to the north,
lifts his head, an insulated and striking feature.
While the Tiber enriched by numberless rivers and
streamlets, intersects the immense plain ; and bath-
ing the temples and palaces of Rome, rolls like
the Po a current unexhausted even during the
scorching heats of summer.

The tract now expanded before us was the
country of the Etrurians, Veientes, Rutuli, Fa-
lisci, Latins, Sabines, Volsci, ^qui, and Hernici,
and of course the scene of the wars and the ex-
ertions, of the victories and the triumphs of infant
Rome, during a period of nearly four hundred
years of her history ; an interesting period, when
she possessed and exercised every generous virtue,
and established on the basis of justice, wisdom,
and fortitude, the foundations of her future empire.
As the traveller looks towards the regions once
inhabited by these well-known tribes, many an
illustrious name, and many a noble achievement,
must rise in his memory, reviving at the same


time the tecollection of early studies and of boyish
amusements, and blending the friendships of youth
with the memorials of ancient greatness.

The day was cloudless, the beams of the sun
played over the landscape ; hues of light blue in-
termingled with dark shades deepening as they
retired, chequered the mountains. A line of
shining snow marked the distant Apennines, and
a vault of the purest and brightest azure covered
the glorious scene ! We passed a long and de-
lightful morning in its contemplation.

The following day was employed in wander-
ing over the city at large, and taking a cursory
view of some of its principal streets, squares,
buildings and monuments. This we did to satisfy
the first cravings of curiosity, intending to proceed
at our leisure to the examination of each object in

* I think it necessary to repeat here, what I declared in
the preliminary discourse, that it is not my intention to give
a particular account of ruins, churches, buildings, statues,
or pictures, &c. This belongs rather to guides and Ciceroni,
and may be found in numberless works written professedly
for the information of travellers on such heads. My wish
is to lay before the reader an account of the observations
which we made, and of the classical recollections which oc-
curred to us, while we traced the remains of ancient gran-
deur. We began this examination by visiting in order the
seven hills. We then proceeded to the Vatican and Pincian
mounts, ranged over the Campus Martins, and along the




After having thus gratified ourselves with a
general and some select views, and formed a
tolerably accurate idea of the most striking fea-
tures of Rome, we proceeded on the fourth day,
through the Via Lata (the Broad Way), now
// Curso, through " streets of palaces and walks
of state," to the Capitoline Hill. Every school-
boy has read with delight Virgil's short, but
splendid description of this hill, then a silvan
scene of dark forest and craggy rock, though
destined one day to become the seat of regal opu-
lence and of universal empire.

banks of the Tiber; then wandered through the villas,
both within and without the city ; and finally explored the
churches, monuments, tombs, hills, and fields, in its imme-
diate neighborhood. This method I recommend as being
more easy and more natural than the usual mode of visiting
the city, according to its " Rioni " (regiones) or allotting a
certain portion of it to each day ; by which mode the travel-
ler is obliged to pass rapidly from ancient monuments to
modern edifices ; from palaces to churches ; from galleries
to gardens ; and thus to load his mind with a heap of uncon-
nected ideas and crude observations. By the former process
we keep each object distinct, and take it in a separate view ;
we first contemplate ancient then visit modern Rome, and
pass from the palaces of the profane, to the temples of the
sacred city.


Hinc ad Tarpeiam sedem, et Capitolia ducit,
Aurea nunc, olim sylvestribus horrida dumis.
Jam turn religio pavidos terrebat agrestes
Dira loci : Jam turn sylvam saxumque tremebant.
Hoc nemus, hunc, inquit, frondoso vertice collem,
(Quis Deus, incertum est) habitat Deus. Arcades ipsum
Credunt se vidisse Jovem : cum saepe nigrantem
^gida concuteret dextrA, nimbosque cieret *.

Mneid. viii. 347.

Every circumstance that could dignify and
consecrate the spot, and prepare it for its grand
destiny, is here collected and gradually expanded ;
while a certain awful obscurity hangs over the
whole, and augments the magnitude of the object
thus dimly presented to the fancy. The traveller
however sensible he may suppose himself to have
been of the beauties of this description before,
imagines that he feels its full force for the first
time as he ascends the acclivity of the Capitoline

* Thence to the steep Tarpeian rock he leads.
Now roofd with gold ; then thatch'd with homely reeds,
A rev'rent fear (such superstition reigns
Among the rude) ev'n then possest the swains.
Some God, they knew, what God, they could not tell,
Did there amidst the sacred horror dwell.
Th' Arcadians thought him Jove, and said they saw
The mighty Thund'rer with majestic awe.
Who shook his shield, and dealt his bolts around.
And scatter'd tempests on the teeming ground.

Dry den.



The Capito! was anciently both a fortress and
a sanctuary. A fortress surrounded with pre-
cipices, bidding defiance to all the means of attack
employed in ancient times ; a sanctuary, crowded
with altars and temples, the repository of the
fatal oracles, the seat of the tutelar deities of the
empire. Romulus began the grand work, by
erecting the temple of Jupiter Feretrius ; Tar-
qninius Priscns, Servius Tullius, and Tarquinius
Superbus continued, and the Consul Horatius
Pulvillus, a few years after the expulsion of the
kings, completed it, with a solidity and magnifi-
cence, says Tacitus, which the riches of succeeding
ages might arlorn, but could not increase. It
was burnt during the civil wars between Marias
and Sylla, and rebuilt shortly after; but again
destroyed by fire in the dreadful contest that took
place in the very Forum itself, and on the sides
of the Capitoline Mount, between the partisans
of Vitellius and Vespasian *. This event Tacitus
laments, with the spirit and indignation of a
Roman, as the greatest disaster that had ever
befallen the city-J-. And, indeed, if we consider that

* A. D. 69.

t Id facinus post conditam Urbem luctuosissimum foedis-
simumque populo Romano accidit : nullo externo hoste, pro-
pitiis, si per mores nostros liceret, diis, sedem Jovis Jovis
optimi maximi, auspicate a majoribus pignus imperii, con-


the public archives, and of course the most valuable
records of its history were deposited there, we
must allow that the catastrophe was peculiarly
unfortunate, not to Rome only, but to the world
at large.

However, the Capitol rose once more from
its ashes, with redoubled splendor, and received
from the munificence of Vespasian, and of Domi-
tian his son, its last and most glorious embellish-
ments. The edifices were probably in site and
destination nearly the same as before the con-
flagration ; but more attention was paid to sym-
metry, to costliness, and above all, to grandeur
and magnificence. The northern entrance led
under a triumphal arch to the centre of the hill,
and to the sacred grove the asylum opened by
Romulus, and almost the cradle of Roman power.
On the right on the eastern summit stood the

ditam, quam non Porsena dedit^ Urbe, neque Galli capt^,
temerare potuissent, furore Principum exscindi !

" That was the most lamentable and most disgraceful
disaster that ever happened to the Roman people since the
building of the city : that the temple of Jupiter, the Great and
Good, that pledge of our empire, which was built by our
ancestors under the happiest auspices, which neither Porsena
had been able to violate when the city was surrendered, nor
the Gauls when it was taken, should be destroyed, not by a
foreign enemy, but by the fury of our own Chiefs, while we
enjoyed, if indeed our corrupt manners would permit us to
enjoy, the favor and protection of the Gods."


temple of Jupiter Feretrius. On the left on the
western summit, was that of Jupiter Gustos (Ju-
piter the Guardian) : near each of these temples
were the fanes of inferior Divinities, that of
Fortune, and that of Fides (Fidelity) alluded to
by Cicero. In the midst, to crown the pyramid
formed by such an assemblage of majestic edifices,
rose the residence of the guardian of the empire
the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus on a hundred
steps, supported by a hundred pillars, adorned
with all the refinements of art, and blazing with
the plunder of the world. In the centre of the
temple, with Juno on his left, and Minerva on
his right side, the Thunderer sat on a throne of
gold, grasping the lightning in one hand, and in
the other wielding the sceptre of the universe.

Hither the consuls were conducted by the
senate, to assume the military dress, and to im-
plore the favor of the gods before they marched
to battle. Hither the victorious generals used to
repair in triumph, in order to suspend the spoils
of conquered nations, to present captive monarchs,
and to offer up hecatombs to Tarpeian Jove.
Here, in cases of danger and distress, the senate
was assembled, and the magistrates convened to
deliberate in the presence, and under the imme-
diate influence, of the tutelar gods of Rome.
Here the laws were exhibited to public inspec-
tion, as if under the sanction of the Divinity ; and

C/t. X. THROUGH ITALY. . 373

here also they were deposited, as if intrusted to
his guardian care. Hither Cicero turned his hands
and eyes, when he closed hie first oration against
Catiline, with that noble address to Jupiter, pre-
siding in the Capitol over the destinies of the
empire, and dooming its enemies to destruction.

In the midst of these magnificent structures,
of this wonderful display of art and opulence,
stood for ages the humble straw-roofed palace of
Romulus, a monument of primitive simplicity
dear and venerable in the eyes of the Romans*.

* Mars speaks ia Ovid, as follows :

Quae fuerit nostri si quaeris regia nati ;
Adspice de cann& straminibusque domum.
In stipula placidi carpebat munera somui :
Et tamen ex illo venit in astra toro.

Ovid. Fast. Lib. iii. v. 183.

Seek'st thou the palace of my noble boy ?

Lo ! built of reeds and straw his low abode ;
On straw he lay, sleep's blessings to enjoy ;

Yet thence pursued to Heav'n his glorious road.

Romuleoque recens horrebat regia culmo.

Vir. /En. Lib. viii. v, 654.

Then Rome was poor, and there you might behold
The palace, thatch'd with straw. Dryden.

Vitruvius speaks of the cottage of Romulus as existing
in his time, that is, in the reign of Augustus. In Capitolio
commune facere potest et significare mores Vetustatis Ro-
muli casa in arce sacrorum. — Lib. ii.

" The cottage of Romulus in the Capitol, points out to
us, and makes us acquainted with the manners of antiquity."


This cottage, it may easily be supposed, vanished
in the first conflagration. Bat not the cottage
only, the temples, the towers, the palaces also
that once surrounded it have disappeared. Of
all the ancient glory of the Capitol, nothing now
remains but the solid foundation, and* vast sub-
structions raised on the rock,

Capitoli immobile saxum f.

Not only is the Capitol fallen, but its very name,
expressive of dominion, and once fondly considered
as an omen of empire, is now almost lost in the
semi-barbarous appellation of Campidoglio.

At present the Capitoline Mount is covered
with buildings, far inferior without doubt, to the
imperial edifices above described, but yet grand
both in their proportions and in their magnitude.
The northern, still the principal entrance, is an easy

* These walls on one side form the stables of the Senator,
and on the other a dark gloomy chapel, said to have been
originally the Tullianum, in which Catiline's associates were
put to death. The criminal was let down into this dungeon
by a hole in the vault, as there was anciently no other en-
trance ; the modern door was opened through the side wall,
when the place was converted into a chapel, in honor of
St. Peter, who is supposed to have been confined in it.
Notwithstanding the change, it has still a most appalling

t Fix'd as the Capitol's foundation lies.



ascent adorned with a marble balustrade, which
commences below with two colossal lionesses of
Egyptian porphyry, pouring a torrent of water
into spacious basins of marble, and is terminated
above by statues of Castor and Pollux, each holding
his horse. Here you enter the square, in the centre
of which stands the well-known equestrian statue of
Marcus Aurelius. In front, and on each side, are
three palaces erected by Michael Angelo. The
edifice before you, of bold elevation, adorned with
Corinthian pilasters and with a lofty tower, is the
residence of the senator. A double flight of marble
steps leads to its portal. In the centre of this
staircase stands the genius of Rome, like Minerva
armed with the -^gis, and leaning on her spear.
A fountain bursts forth at her feet. On her right
the Tiber, on her left the Nile lay reclined, each
on its urn. The French have carried off the two
latter statues, with some other ornaments of the
Capitoline square. In the palace of the Senator,
and in that of the Conservatori^ are several halls
and apartments, magnificent in their size and

The Capitol is the palace of the Roman peo-
ple, the seat of their power, and the resicience of
their magistrates. The statues and other antiques
placed here by the popes, are dedicated in the
names of the donors to the Roman people, and
the inscriptions in general run in the ancient style.


One in the palace of the Consevcatori pleased me
much : " S. P. Q. R. 77iajorum suorum prcEstantiam
ut ammo sic re quantum licuit, imitatus, deformatum
injuria temporum capitolium restiiuit ; anno post
urhem conditam 2320*." Nor is it unworthy of
its destination ; as the beauty of its architecture,
the magnitude of its apartments, the excellence of
its paintings, and the prodigious number of statues
and antiques with which it is decorated, give it a
splendor unequalled in any other city, and only
eclipsed even in Rome itself by the recollection of
its former greatness.

The Museum Capitolinum contains in several
large rooms a most splendid collection of busts,
statues, sarcophagi, &c. bestowed by different
popes and illustrious personages on this magni-
ficent cabinet devoted to the use of the Roman
people, or rather of the literary and curious of all
nations. One of the most interesting objects in
this collection is an ancient plan of Rome cut in
marble, once the pavement of a temple in the
Forum, and thence transferred to the Capitol,
where it lines the walls of one of the grand stair-

* The senate [and people of Rome, imitating the virtues
of their ancestors, not only in spirit, but as far as circum-
stances permitted, in their actions, restored the Capitol,
defaced by the injuries of time, in the 2320th year of the
building of the city.


cases of the Museum. But unfortunately it is not

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Online LibraryJohn Chetwode EustaceA classical tour through Italy, an. MDCCCII (Volume 1) → online text (page 23 of 27)