Niccolò Marcello Venuti.

A description of the first discoveries of the antient city of Heraclea, found near Portici, a country palace belonging to the king of the Two Sicilies. In two parts.. online

. (page 1 of 11)
Online LibraryNiccolò Marcello VenutiA description of the first discoveries of the antient city of Heraclea, found near Portici, a country palace belonging to the king of the Two Sicilies. In two parts.. → online text (page 1 of 11)
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Antient City of Heraclea^


Near Portici, a Country Palace belonging
to the King of the T/FO SICILIES.


Part I. Gontaining an Account of the Foundation of Hera-
CLEA, together with a Defcription of that fatal Eruption of
Mount Vesuvius, by which it was deftroyed.

Part II. Containing a curious Account of the Difcoveries which
were made in the Years 1689 and 171 1, and thofe of a later
Date, giving a full Defcription of the Grand Theatre, Temples,
Infcriptions, Statues, Columns, Lamps, Urns, Veffelsof Glafs,
and other Metals, Paintings, Medals, and fundry other Cu-
riofities found therein.

Done into En^Ji/h from the Original Ital'on of the

Marquis Den MARCELLO di VENUTl.

' To which are added.

Some Letters that paffed between the learned Jo. Matthia
Gefner, Profeffor at Gottenburgh, Cardinal ^irini, and Her-
mannus Samuel Reimarus^ ProfeiTor at Hamburgh, concerning
thefe Difcoveries.


Printed for R. Baldwin, jun. at the Rofe^ in
Pakr^NoJlsr-Row. M.DCC.L.


THE following Treatise, entitled,
^Description of the fi7'Ji Dif-
coveries of the antient City of Hera-
CLEA, ^c. being entered in the Sta-
tioners Hall Book : Whoever offers to
pirate it, or to reprint the Whole, or
any Part of it, will be profecuted ac-
cording to Law,


Sir Hans Sloane, Bart.

Fellow of the Royal Society,


Phyfician in Ordinary to his Majefty.

S I R,

E pleafed to accept the follow-
ing Tranflation, from one who,
though an entire Stranger to
your Perfon ; yet (having heard of your
great Renown, as a learned and curi-
ous Enquirer into, and Encourager ofj
the Study of Antiquity,) prefumes to
offer you his Performance ; hoping that
the Subjed it treats on, (being the bring-:


ing to light an antient City, which had
lain buried under Ground fo long, that
it was almoft forgot to have exifted ;)
will plead my Excufe for attempting to
trouble you therewith: And as the King
of the Two Sicilies did not difdain to
patronize the Original, I hope you,
Sir, will not refufe the fame Honour rq
the Operations of,


Tour mojl ohligedy
And mojl obedient^
Humble Servant^

Wickes Skurray.


Tranflator's Preface.

HE following fmall Treatife is an authentick
and concife Account of the Antiquities and
Curiofities, which have been difcovered from
Time to Time, in the City of Heradea ;
Part of which was overwhelmed and covered
with Afhes by an Eruption of Mount Vefuvlus, and Part
was fwallowed up by an Earthquake, and remained in
that Situation, as it were in a State of abfolute Oblivion,
during the Space of one Thoufand fix Hundred and ten
Years, when fome few Difcoveries were made, though
very trifling to what has been within thefe ten Years :
Wherefore I (out of a Curiofity, which is natural to any
one) no fooner faw the Original hereof advertifed, but I
bought it, at firft barely with a Defign of perufing and
tranflating it, for my own Amufement in my leifure
Hours : But on fliewing my Tranflation to fome Gentle-
men of my Acquaintance, who had adually been on the
very Spot, and even in the fubterraneous City herein
treated of ; They, after a proper Revifal and Corre6lion,
gave me Encouragement to offer it to the Publick ; and
though fome few (and I hope) trivial Faults may have
been inadvertently pafled over ^ yet, as it is the firft At.
tempt I ever made of the Kind, their * known Indulgence
leaves me no Room to doubt of their giving it a favoura-
ble Reception,

» The Publick's.



Author's Preface.

F the Fmding of any curious Monuments
of Antiquity has always been reckoned one
cf the nohlefl Pleafures of the Learned^
and all thofe who would be accounted the
Patrons and Friends of the Arts and Sciences : How
much greater will he the Glory of the King of the 'Two
Sicilies^ who has had the good Fortune^ not barely of
finding fmall Fragments^ &c. but (if cm may ufe the
^erm) he has^ as it were^ unburied an entire City^ be-
decked with magnificent and -precious Ornaments^ viz.
theatres, Temples, Paintings, Buildings, Colojfal and
Equeftrian Statues, both of Marble and Brafs, &c.

7he Fame of this lucky huident, worthy of only
ftich a King, who takes a Plea fur e in encouraging Arts
and Sciences, has excited throughout the World fuch
Amazement, as raifes both a Kind of Envy, and lau-
dable Curiofity, in thofe who delight in Antiquity, and
have any tolerable Share of good Senfe,

And as it happened to be my hot to he the fir ji that
had the Honour to participate and explain to his Ma-
jefty the firfi Bifcoveries of thefe Curiofities, and alfo
feeing fo many Accounts daily piiblifhed, and fever al il-
luftrious Members of the learned Refuhlick ftriving,
with a Kind of Emulation, which fhall be the firfi to
difcourfe thereon \ I refolved (with the fole View of
fatisfying the many Requefts which I have had from
feveral Parts of Europe) to publijh a fhort and minute
5 Defcriptic.n

The AuTHOR*s Preface.' vii

Befcription of the firft Difcoveries^ which were made
under my Dire^fion , together with fome frjort Dijfer-
tations^ which I read on that Suhje^i^ in our ^ufcan
Academy at Cortona -, and in order that thofe who have
taken upon them to puhlijh the Beftgns^ may be able
fecurely to purfue the Befcription, And Signor Mu-
ratori fpeaks thus ^ : Inter tot pretiofa antiquitatis
Romanse monumenta, ftatnas, columnas, aliaque
elaborata marmora, qu^ in Villa Refine extra
Neapolim, anno 1739, effofla lunt, & adhuc effo-
diuntur, & quorum defcriptionem fperare nos facit
dodiflimus Eques Venuti, primum hoc marmor
effodientibus fefe obtulit, ex quo innotuit ibidem
extitiffe Theatrum cum orcheftra, &c. 7his and
other Accounts were tranfmiited him from Time to
*Time^ by me, and the Abbot PJdolfino Venuti my Bro-
ther. Signor Gori is publifoing a Book^ entitled^ C^ol-
leftanea Antiquitatum Herculanenfium : ThislVork
cciififls cf a ColleBion of all the Accounts^ which have
been publifned to this very Bay^ by him carefully re-
vifed and put together -, where., among the many other
^Things., he produces fever al Letters ., which he received
frojn my Brother and me^ concerning thefe Bifcoveries,
But I being called away by my domeflick Affairs^
fho'' very much againfl my JVill^ obtained the King^s
Permiffwn to return Horne^ wherefore I could not be
prefent at the Profeculivn of this grand Entdrprize :
And as the King was pleafed to order me to write a
Biffertation of the Antiquities of that Place^ which he
tranfmitted to the Court of Spain ; and being wrote
within the Space of a few Hours ^ I find myfelf necef
fitated to publifh it in a more diftin5i and better Man-
ner.^ to fatisfy {as I faid before) the impatient Curiojity
cf fome Perfons ; in order,, that if this my fuccin£i
Bttail fhould fall into other Hands,, they may be better
informed of the Bifcoveries and the Hiflory thereof :
Which (Difcoveries) have daily increafed, and have^
• Teforo dcllc Ifcrizioni, p. 202/, i.


viii The Author's Prefacf.'

to my great Satisfaction^ confirmed all that I from the
Beginning (as it were hy a Kind of Foreknowledge)
furmifedy i. e, that under the Spot where they firfi be-
gun to dig^ was buried^ not only a grand^ ?ioble^ and
fumptuous antique Theatre^ but alfo an antient City^
which by the Grecians^ and in particular by Strabo^
was called *HPAKAEIO'N, and by the Latins^ as
Pliny ^ and many others^ Herciilanium and Hercula-
' neiim, fituated in Campania Fcelix ; the Situation of
which^ I cannot better defcribe^ than by giving you
the very Words of ^ Florus^ who fays ^ Omnium non
modo Italia, {ti toto orbe terrarum pulcherrima
CampanisE plaga eft •, . . . Hie illi nobiles por-
tus . . . Hie amidi vitibus montcs Gaurus, Fa-
Jerniis, MaiTicus, & purcherrimus omnium Vefu-
vius iEtnasi ignis imitator. Urbes ad mare For=
miae, Cum^e, Puteoli, Neapolis, Herculaneum,
Fompei, &c. Permit me here to add^ that this Dif-
covery clears our learned Archbifljop Nicolas Perotto^
from an unjufi Cenfure caft upon him by Ritas Vineio^
in his Notes on the above Parage of Florus, by find-
ing Fault with his placing Heraclea in Campania Fce-
lix, thus : Fuerunt autem hs (urbes) mults*, qua-
rum una Campanis hie celebrata? : qus urbs ea~
dem fuit cum Herculaneo, fi quid Perotto, ^ ho-
mini multa fine ratione, audoreque tiadenti, ere-

Having divided the Work into two Parts ^ I fhall in
the fir ft give an Account of the Foundation of the City
Heraelea, beginning fir ft with fear ching out who that
Hero (Hereules) was^ and what the Mythologifts fay
concerning his 'Travels from Spain into Italy : In the
next PlacCy 1 flmll give you the Hiftory of the City
Heraelea, and its firft Inhabitants^ beginning from the
Ofcians and the Tufcans, and continuing it down to the
Romans^ without mentioning the Wars which were

» Lib. I. deBell. Samnit. ^ In Cornucop. pag. 207.

edit. Venet. anni 149.


Tiie A U T K O r's P R E F A C E. iK

tarried on in Campania Fcelt:c ColumnSj
and three Statues. The Motto is this ; ^ ^ERN^
T A T I. FL A V I O R U M. This is not a Place to
examine the Legitimacy of that Medal,, nor to what
Fabrick it pertains ; but it is eafy to imagine,, that as
thefe Monuments of Antiquity {which ^ doubt lefs^ were
put up in Heraclea to the Honour of that Family) that
have lately been difcovered,, have eternalized the Name
of that Imperial Family hitherto ; they will eternalize
for the future^ the glorious Name of CHARLES
BOURBON, the fortunate King of the Two Si-

The laft Thing I have to fay is,, that whatever I
mritCy I fhall only bear Witnefs of what I have feen
tvith my own Eyes -, and I folemnly protejl,, that I
■ have no Intention to publifh or defcribe the other Cu-
riofities,, which have been fince dug up \ nor to pre-
judice any one that propofes to treat thereon : But only
that this my fhort Treatife {in which there may be fome
Things mentioned y which others know nothing of) may
ferve as a Forerunner and Co^nduolor of the curious
Work,, which, by Order of hi^s Majefly, is preparing.
And for Example , I faw in a French Account (which
is now printed) the Infcription on Mamrmanus Ru-
fns {poffibly a Pefctndant of that L. MammiuSy called

The Author's Preface. m

hy Dionyfius " vir non obfcurus, who f aw the Oracle
engraved in the 'Temple of Jupiter Dodcneus) found in
the Theatre towards the Sea^ as is the Manner of
other Theatres^ and particularly according to Florus^
and Orofio del Tarentino, who fays thus :




There were two htfcriptions (as I (Jo all treat about
in my Defcriptim) pretty much alike \ the fir Jl^ ^^'^^ fi-
ver al Pieces ef a grand Architrave^ which I put to-
gether thus.



On the fecond Cornifio^ or Architrave^ Fellow toth^
firjl^ was another Infcription in thefe JVords :


QUINQ, Tj£Alk. O . . . P. NVMISIVS.

p. F. AR .*. .TEC. ...

And as the Workmen broke and fpoiled every Things
and pulled the Architraves in Pieces^ (tho* they were
entire when under the Ground) it might happen^ that
they put two different Things together^ and fo confufed
every Thing. It zvas, indeed^ propofed^ thai every
Thing Jhould be preferved, but it could not be obtained ;
only the mofl precious Things were placed, as Ornaments
in the Royal Villa of Portici^ where the following In-
fcription is put upy which I propofed ; in which is ^
Plainnefs^ which I take great Pleafure in.

I Pionyf. Halicarn. Antiq. Rom. lib. i. pag. 15.


xii The Author's Preface.

Every one is fenfthle^ that from the fortunate Sticcefs
cf'thefefurpriftng Difcoveries^ is derived a great Part
of the immortal Renown due. to the Name of his Ma-
jeJiyCnARl^¥.S Vill. King of Naples,

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Online LibraryNiccolò Marcello VenutiA description of the first discoveries of the antient city of Heraclea, found near Portici, a country palace belonging to the king of the Two Sicilies. In two parts.. → online text (page 1 of 11)