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

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entire; if it were, we should have had a most
perfect plan of ancient Rome, the streets, forums,
temples, &c. being marked out in the most distinct
manner. There are, moreover, in the palace of
the Conservatori, galleries of paintings, and halls
appropriated to the use of young artists, where
lectures are given, and drawings taken from life ;
premiums are also bestowed publicly in the grand
hall in the Senator's palace. In short, the Capitol
is now consecrated, not to the tutelar gods of
Rome, but to her arts, to the remains of her
grandeur, to the monuments of her genius, and, I
may add, to her titles, now the mere semblance of
her ancient liberty.

It is to be regretted that the highest and most
conspicuous part of the Capitoline Mount should
be occupied by a building so tasteless and deformed
as the church and convent of Ara Cceli. The
ascent from the plain below, by an hundred and
twenty-four marble steps, deserves a better termi-
nation than its miserable portal ; and the various
ancient pillars of Egyptian granite, that adorn the
nave of the church and the portico of the clois-
ters, furnish a sufficient quantity of the best ma-
terials for the erection and decoration of a very
noble edifice.

Anciently there were two ways from the Ca-


pitol to the Forum ; both parted from the neigh-
borhood of the Tabularium, and diverging as they
descended, terminated each in a triumphal arch ;
that of Tiberius to the west, that of Severus to the
east. Of these arches, the latter only remains.
The descent at present is a steep and irregular
path, winding down the declivity from the senator's
stables, without any regular termination. The tra-
veller as he descends, stops to contemplate the three
Corinthian pillars, with their frieze and cornice that
rise above the ruins, and preserve the memory of
the temple of Jupiter Tonans*, erected by Augustus,
as a monument of his preservation from a thun-
derbolt that fell near him. A little lower down
on the right, stands the portico of the temple of
Concord, built by Camillus, consisting of eight
granite pillars, with capitals and entablature of
irregular Ionic. To account for this irregularity,
it is to be remembered, that the edifices on the
sides of the hill shared the fate of the Capitol, in
the contest which took place between the parties
of Vespasian and ViteUius, and were rebuilt shortly
after by Titus and Domitian, and afterwards by
Constantine. Hence the word ^^ restitutum" (re-
stored) in the inscription, and hence the want of

Jupiter the Thunderer.


regularity in some parts of such buildings, as were
monuments of republican Rome, and did not,
perhaps, enjoy the favor of the emperors. The
triumphal arch of Septimus Severus is nearly half
buried in the ground.



The Roman Forum — Coliseum — Palatine Mount
— Aventine — Tomb of C. Cestius — Ccelian —
Saburra — Esquiline — Baths of Titus — Miiierva
Medica — Palace of Maecenas — Viminal — Qjui-
rinal — Baths of Dioclesian.

The Roman Forum now lay extended before us,
a scene in the ages of Roman greatness of un-
paralleled splendor and magnificence. It was
bordered on both sides with temples, and lined
with statues. It terminated in triumphal arches,
and was bounded here by the Palatine hill, with
the Imperial residence glittering on its summit,
and there by the Capitol, with its ascending
ranges of porticos and of temples. Thus it pre-
sented one of the richest exhibitions that eyes
could behold, or human ingenuity invent. In the
midst of these superb monuments, the memorials
of their greatness, and the trophies of their fathers,
the Roman people assembled to exercise their
sovereign power, and to decide the fates of heroes,
of kings, and of nations.


Nor did the contemplation of such glorious
objects fail to produce a corresponding effect.
Manlius, as long as he could extend his arm,
and fix the attention of the people on the Capitol
which he had saved, suspended his fatal sentence*.
Caius Gracchus melted the hearts of his audience,
when in the moment of distress he pointed to the
Capitol, and asked with all the emphasis of de-
spair, whether he could expect to find an asylum
in that sanctuary whose pavement still streamed
with the blood of his brother'j^. Scipio Africanus,
when accused by an envious faction, and obliged
to appear before the people as a criminal, instead
of answering the charge, turned to the Capitol,
and invited the assembly to accompany him to the
temple of Jupiter, and give thanks to the gods
for the defeat of Annibal and the Carthaginians J.
Such, in fact was the influence of locality, and
such the awe, interest, and even emotion, inspired
by the surrounding edifices. Hence the frequent
references that we find in the Roman historians
and orators to the Capitol, the Forum, the tem-
ples of the gods ; and hence those noble addresses
to the deities themselves, as present in their re-
spective sanctuaries, and watching over the inte-

* Lir. vi. 90. f Cic. De Orat. lib, iii. cap. 56.

I Lir. xxxviii. 51.


rests of their favored city : " Ita prcEsentes his tem-
poribus opem et auiilium nobis tukrunt, ut eos pene
oculis videre possimus*^

But the glories of the Forum are now fled for
ever ; its temples are fallen ; its sanctuaries have
crumbled into dust; its colonnades encumber its
pavements now buried under their remains. The
walls of the Rostra stripped of their ornaments
and doomed to eternal silence, a few shattered
porticos, and here and there an insulated column
standing in the midst of broken shafts, vast frag-
ments of marble capitals and cornices heaped to-
gether in masses, remind the traveller, that the
field which he now traverses, was once the Roman

A fountain fills a marble basin in the middle,
the same possibly to which Propertius alludes
when speaking of the Forum in the time of
Tatius he says,

Murus erant monies, ubi nunc est Curia septa,
Bellicus ex illo fonte bibebat equusf.

Lib. iy. 4.

* In these times tbey have been so manifestly present,
aftbrding us succour and assistance, that we can almost see
them with our eyes. Cic. in Cat. Or. iii. 8.

t Where now the Curia is inclos'd.
The hills a native wall compos'd :


A little fartber on commences a double range of
trees that leads along the Via Sacra (the Sacred
Way) by the temples of Antoninus and of Peace
to the arch of Titus. A herdsman seated on a
pedestal while his oxen were drinking at the foun-
taiuj and a few passengers moving at a distance
in different directions, were the only living beings
that disturbed the silence and solitude which
reigned around. Thus the place seemed restored
to its original wildness described by Virgil*, and
abandoned once more to flocks and herds of cattle.
So far have the modern Romans forgotten the
theatre of the glory and of the imperial power of
their ancestors, as to degrade it into a common
market for cattle, and sink its name illustrated
by every page of Ronmn history into the con-
temptible appellation of Campo Vaccina (the Cow

And there a gushing fountain burst,

At which the war-horse quench'd his thirst.

As this fountain is near the three pillars, which have oc-
casioned so much discussion, we may draw a presumptive
argument from these verses, that they formed part of the

passimque armenta videbant

Komanoque foro et lautis mugire carinis.

jEn. viii. 361.

They view'd the ground of Rome's Utigious hall ;
Once oxen low'd, where now the lawyers bawl.


Proceeding along the Via Sacra and passing
under the arch of Titus, on turning a little to the
left, we beheld the amphitheatre of Vespasian and
Titus, now called the Coliseum. Never did human
art present to the eye a fabric so well calculated,
by its size and form, to surprise and delight. Let
the spectator first place himself to the north and
contemplate that side which depredation, bar-
barism, and ages have spared, he will behold with
admiration its wonderful extent, well proportioned
stories and flying lines, that retire and vanish
without break or interruption. Next let him
turn to the south, and examine those stupendous
arches, which stripped as they are of their external
decorations, still astonish us by their solidity and
duration. Then let him enter, range through the
lofty arcades, and ascending the vaulted seats, con-
sider the vast mass of ruin that surrounds him ;
insulated walls, immense stones suspended in the
air, arches covered with weeds and shrubs, vaults
opening upon other ruins ; in short, above, below,
and around, one vast collection of magnificence
and devastation, of grandeur and of decay*.

* Martial prefers, perhaps with justice, this amphitheatre
to all the prodigies of architecture known in his time.

Barbara Pyramidum sileat miracula Memphis :
Aasiduus jactet nee Babylona labor; ....



Need I inform the reader that this stupendous

" Which on its public shews unpeopled Rome,
** And held uncrowded nations in its womb,"

T^'as erected by the above-mentioned emperors,
out of part only of the materials, and on a portion
of the site of Nero's golden house, which had been
demolished by order of Vespasian, as too sump-
tuous even for a Roman emperor.

The Coliseum owing to the solidity of its ma-
terials, survived the era of barbarism, and was so
perfect in the thirteenth century, that games were

Nee Triviae tempio molles laudentur lones ;

Dissimuletque deum cornibus ara frequens
Aere nee vacuo pendentia Mausolea

Laudibus immodicis Cares in astra ferant.
Omnis Caesareo cedat labor amphitheatro

Unum pro cunctis fama loquatnr opus.

De Sped. Epig. 1.

Why sing the wonders of th' .Slgyptian shore?
Let far-fam'd Babylon be prais'd no more ....
Let not Ionia vaunt Diana's fane ;

Nor let the Carian town extol so high

Its Mausoleum, hanging in the sky.

In Caesar's amphitheatre are shown

These rival glories all combin'd in one :

Let Fame henceforth her clam'rous tongue confine

To sing the beauties of that dome divine.



exliibited in it, not for the amusement of the
Romans only, but of all the nobility of Italy.
The destruction of this wonderful fabric is to be
ascribed to causes more active in general in the
erection than in the demolition of magnificent
buildings — to Taste and Vanity.

When Rome began to revive, and architecture
arose from its ruins, every rich and powerful
citizen wished to have, not a commodious dwel-
ling merely, but a palace. The Coliseum was an
immense quarry at hand ; the common people
stole, the grandees obtained permission to carry
off its materials, till the interior was dismantled,
and the exterior half stripped of its ornaments. It
is difficult to say where this system of depredation
so sacrilegious in the opinion of the antiquary,
would have stopped, had not Benedict XIV. a
pontiff of great judgment, erected a cross in the
centre of the arena, and declared the place sacred,
out of respect to the blood of the many martyrs
who were butchered there during the persecutions.
This declaration, if issued two or three centuries
ago, would have preserved the Coliseum entire;
it can now only protect its remains, and transmit
them in their present state to posterity.

We next returned to the Meta Sudans and
])assed under the arch of Constantine, I need not
give a description of this species of edfiice so well
known to the reader; it will suffice to say, that


the arch of Constantine is the only one that re-
mains entire, with its pillars, statues, and hasso
relievos, all of the most beautiful marble, and
some of exquisite workmanship. They were taken
from the arch of Trajan, which, it seems, was
stripped, or probably demolished, by order of the
senate, for that purpose. It did not occur to
them, it seems, that the achievements of Trajan
and his conquests in Dacia, could have no con-
nexion with the exertions of Constantine in Britain,
or with his victory over the tyrant Maxentius.
But taste was then on the decline, and propriety
of ornament not always consulted.

We then ascended the Palatine Mount, after
having walked round its base in order to examine
its bearings. This hill, the nursery of infant
Rome, and finally the residence of imperial gran-
deur, presents now two solitary villas and a con-
vent, with their deserted gardens and vineyards.
Its numerous temples, its palaces, its porticos and
its libraries, once the glory of Rome, and the ad-
miration of the universe, are now mere heaps of
ruins, so shapeless and scattered, that the antiquary
and architect are at a loss to discover their site,
their plans, and their elevation. Of that wing of
the imperial palace, which looked to the west, and
on the Circus Maximus, some apartments remain
vaulted and of fine proportions, but so deeply
buried in ruins, as to be now subterranean.


A hall of immense size was discovered about
the beginning of the last century, concealed under
the ruins of its own massive roof. The pillars of
•verde antico (antique green) that supported its
vaults, the statues that ornamented its niches, and
the rich marbles that formed its pavement, were
found buried in rubbish ; and were immediately
carried away by the Farnesian family, the pro-
prietors of the soil, to adorn their palaces, and
furnish their galleries. This hall is now cleared
of its encumbrances, and presents to the eye a vast
length of naked wall, and an area covered with
weeds. As we stood contemplating its extent and
proportions a fox started from an aperture, once
a window at one end, and crossing the open space
scrambled up the ruins at the other, and disap-
peared in the rubbish. This scene of desolation
reminded me of Ossian's beautiful description,
'^ the thistle shook there its lonely head ; the moss
whistled to the gale ; the fox looked out from the
windows ; the rank grass waved round his head,"
and almost seemed the accomplishment of that
awful prediction, " There the wild beasts of the
desert shall lodge, and howling monsters shall fill
the houses ; and wolves shall howl to one another
in their palaces, and dragons in their voluptuous

* Lowthe's Isaiah, xiii. v. 21, 22.


The classic traveller as he i-anges through the
groves, which now shade the Palatine Mount*",

* Let the reader now contrast this mass of ruin, with the
splendors of the Palatine in Claudian's time,

Ecce Palatino crevit reverentia monti

Non alium certe decuit rectoribus orbis
Esse larem, nulloque magis se coUe potestas
^stimat, & summi sentit fastigia juris.
Attollens apicem subjectis regia rostris.
Tot circum delubra videt, tantisque Deorum
Cingitur excubiis. Juvat infra tecta Tonantis
Cernere Tarpeia pendentes rupe Gigantes,
Cjelatasque fores, mediisque volantia signa
Nubibus, & densum stipantibus aethera templis,
^raque vestitis numerosS. puppe columnis
Consita, subnixasque jugis immanibus cedes,
Naturam cumulante manu ; spoliisque micantes
Innumeros arcus. Acies stupet igne metalli,
Et circumfuso trepidans obtunditur auro.

De Cons, vi. Honor. 35.

To Palatine's high mount see homage flows ! . . . .

No other residence was ever made

For those whose pow'rs the Universe pervade ;

Such noble dignity no hill displays

Nor equal magnitude of empire sways.

The lofty palace tow'ring to the sky.

Beholds below the courts of justice lie ;

The num'rous temples round, and ramparts strong,

That to th' immortal deities belong ;

The Thund'rer's domes ; suspended giant race

Upon the summit of Tarpeian space ;

The sculptur'd doors, in air the banners spread ;

The num'rous tow'rs that hide in clouds their head ;



will recollect the various passages in which Virgil
alludes to this hill, a scene of so much splendor
in his days, but now nearly reduced to its original
simplicity and loneliness. Like iEneas he will
contemplate the interesting spot with delight, and
review like him, though with very different feel-
ings, the vestiges of heroes of old, '* virum monu-
ment a priorum *."

Cum muros arcemque procul, ac rara domorum
Tecta vident, quze nunc Romana potentia ccelo
Aquavit : turn res inopes Evandrus habebat f.

Mn. viii. 98.

Miratur, facilesque oculos fert omnia circum
jEneas, capiturque locis, et singula laetus

The columns girt with naval prows of brass ;

The various buildings rais'd on terreous mass ;

The works of Nature joining human toils,

And arcs of triumph deck'd with splendid spoils.

The glare of metal strikes upon the sight,

And sparkling gold o'erpow'rs with dazzling light.

Hawkins' Translation.

* The memorials of former heroes.

t When they from far beheld the rising tow'rs.
The tops of sheds, and shepherds' lowly bow'rs.
Thin as they stood, which, then of homely clay,
Now rise in marble, from the Roman sway.
These cots, Evander's kingdom, mean and poor —

Dry den.


Exquiritque auditque virum monumentaprioruiu.

Turn Rex Evandrus, Romanae conditor arcis

Hsec nemora indigenee Fauni nymphaeque tenebant*.


From the Palatine we passed to the Aventine
Mount well known for the unpropitious augury
of Remus, and at an earlier period for the resi-
dence of Cacus, and the victory of Hercules, i)oth
so well described by Virgil,

Ter totum fervidus ir^

Lustrat Aventini montem ; ter saxea tentat
Limina uequicquam; ter fessus valle resedit.
Stabat acuta silix, preecisis undique saxis,
Speluncze dorso insiirgens, altissima visu,
Dirarum nidis domus opportuna volucrum f.


* The stranger cast around his curious eyes.
New objects viewing still with new surprize
With greedy joy enquires of various things
And acts and monuments of ancient kings ;
Then thus the founder of the Roman towr's :
" These woods were first the seat of sylvan pow'rs
" Of Nymphs and Fauns." Dryden.

t And here and there his raging eyes he roU'd.
He gnash'd his teeth, and thrice he compassM round
With winged speed the circuit of the ground.
Thrice at the cavern's mouth he pull'd in vain ;
And panting, thrice desisted from his pain.
A pointed, flinty rock, all bare and black,
Grew gibbous from behind the mountain's back.
Owls, ravens, all ill omens of the night,
Here built their nests, and hither wing'd their flight.



Here also stood the temple of Diana, erected in
the joint names of all the Latin tribes, in imita-
tion of the celebrated temple of that goddess at
Ephesus built at the common expense of the
cities of Asia. The erection of the temple of
Diana at Rome by the Latins in the reign of
Servius Tullius, that is, at a time when the Latins
were independent and had frequently disputed
with the Romans for pre-eminence, was con-
sidered as a tacit renunciation of their pretensions,
and an acknowledgment that Rome was the centre
and the capital of the Latin nation at large. The
sacrifice of a celebrated ox in this temple by a
Roman, instead of a Sabine, was supposed to
have decided the destiny of Rome, and to have
fixed the seat of universal empire on its hills*.
Of this temple, once so magnificent and so cele-
brated, no traces remain, not even a base, a fallen
pillar, a shattered wall, to ascertain its situation,
or furnish the antiquary with grounds for probable
conjecture. The same may be said of the temple
of Juno, of that of the Dea Bona, and of the
numberless other stately edifices that rose on this
hill. Some parts indeed are so deserted and so
encumbered with ruins, as to answer the descrip-
tion Virgil gives of it when pointed out by Evander
to his Trojan guest.

* Tit. Liv. i. 45. Valerius Maximus, vii. 3.


Jam primum saxis suspensam hanc aspice rupem :
Disjectse procul ut moles, desertaque mentis
Stat domus, et scopuli ingentem traxere ruinam*.

JEn, viii. 190.

The west side of the Aventine looks down on
the Tiber and on the fields called Prati del Popolo
Romano*. These meadows are planted with mul-
berry trees, and adorned by the pyramidal tomb
of Caius Cestius. This ancient monument re-
mains entire, an advantage which it owes partly
to its form well calculated to resist the influence
of weather, and partly to its situation, as it is
joined to the walls of the city, and forms part
of the fortification. It stands on a basis about
ninety feet square, and rises about a hundred and
twenty in height. It is formed, at least externally,
of large blocks of white marble : a door in the
basis opens into a gallery terminating in a small
room ornamented with paintings on the stucco,
in regular compartments. In this chamber of
the dead once stood a sarcophagus, that contained
the remains of Cestius. At each corner on the

* See from afar yon rock that mates the sky.
About whose feet such heaps of rubbish lie,
Such indigested ruin ; bleak and bare.
How desart now it stands, expos'd in air.

Dry den.

t The meadows of the Roman people.


outside there was a pillar once surmounted with a
statue: two of these remain, or rather were re-
stored, but without the ornament that crowned
them anciently. It is probable that this edifice
stands on an elevation of some steps, but the earth
is too much raised to allow us to discover them
at present. Its form is graceful, and its appear-
ance very picturesque : supported on either side
by the ancient walls of Rome with their towers
and galleries venerable in decay, half shaded by
a few scattered trees, and looking down upon
a hundred humbler tombs interspersed in the
neighboring grove, it rises in lonely pomp, and
seems to preside over these fields of silence and of

When we first visited this solitary spot a flock
of sheep was dispersed through the grove, nib-
bling the grass over the graves ; the tombs rose
around in various forms of sepulchral stones, urns,
and sarcophagi, some standing in good repair,
others fallen and mouldering half buried in the
high grass that waved over them ; the monument
of Cestius stood on the back ground in perspective,
and formed the principal feature of the picture ;
and a painter seated on a tomb-stone, was era-
ployed in taking a view of the scene. None but
foreigners excluded by their religion from the
cemeteries of the country, are deposited here, and
of these foreigners, several were English. The


far greater part had been cut off in their prime,
by unexpected disease or by fatal accident. What
a scene for a traveller far remote from home and
liable to similar disasters !

Turning from these fields of death, these
" lugeiites campi*^ and repassing the Aventine
hill, we came to the baths of Antoninus Cara-
calla, that occupy part of its declivity and a con-
siderable portion of the plain between it, Mons
Coeliolus and Mons Coelius. No monument of
ancient architecture is calculated to inspire such
an exalted idea of Roman magnificence, as the
ruins of their thermae or baths. Many remain
in a greater or less degree of preservation ; such
as those of Titus, Diocletian, and Caracalla. To
give the untravelled reader some notion of these
prodigious piles, I will confine my observations to
the latter, as the greatest in extent, and as the
best preserved ; for though it be entirely stript of
its pillars, statues, and ornaments, both internal
and external, yet its walls still stand, and its con-
stituent parts and principal apartments are evi-
dently distinguishable.

The length of the Thermae of Caracalla was
one thousand eight hundred and forty feet, its
breadth one thousand four hundred and seventy-

The mournful fields. — Dryden,


six. At each end were two temples, one to
Apollo, and another to yEsculapius, as the " Genii
tutelares^ of a place sacred to the improvement
of the mind, and to the care of the body. The
two other temples were dedicated to the two pro-
tecting divinities of the Antonine family, Hercules
and Bacchus. In the principal building were,
in the first place, a grand circular vestibule with
four halls on each side, for cold, tepid, warm, and
steam baths ; in the centre was an immense square,
for exercise when the weather was unfavourable
to it in the open air; beyond it a great hall,

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