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 11 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 11 of 11)
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praditos fuiffe innotefcit, Infcriptio, quam affert ce-
leberrimus Muratorius p. mmxxiv. Thef Infer ipt.
aut par urn fideliter Neapoli defer ipta fuit, aut rem, de
qua agitur, obfcurat potius quam illufirat ; nam it/z
tlla fe hahet eo loco :



D E.

JEque miror, nullar/i hujufce Infcriptionis racntioywi}
fieri in Defcripiione tnox fuhjiingenda, nee Murato-
rium ulla Adnotatione tenebras, quas dixi, depeUere

Venio nunc ad Defcriptionem» A N

'Ant'mt City c/ H E R A C L E A. 135



Of the Searches made in the Village of RefinUy hy
Order of the King of the Two Sicilies,

AS they were Building, about fifty Years ago^
a Palace near the prefent Opening, they
found fome curious Statues that had been fecretly
conveyed out of the Kingdom : On this Dis-
covery, the King ordered that they lliould begirt
to firik (at his Expence) a large and very deep Pic
near that Part : On doing which, they dug up (a
many Pieces of Antiquities of all Kinds, as formed^
in five or fix Years Time, fuch a fine Mufeum,
that no other Monarch could have colledled the
like in many Ages ; and as the Mine (if we may
fo call it) is vail, and untouched, there is hardly a
Day pafies, but they turn up fome Statue, or
other antique VefTels, and Furniture.

Of the Things which have been hitherto difco-
vered (altho' fome have been entirely deftroyed,
others badly managed, and others that the King
keeps locked up, as very great Curiofities -,) there
is a Block of Marble, reprefenting a Horfe and
his Rider, as large as Life, being the Proconful
M. Nonius Balbus in Armour, with his Robe
hanging on his Left Shoulder, fo well wrought, as
would amaze the Beholders : Both the Horfe and
the Proconful are of the mod excellent Workman-
lliip, being (no doubt) made by a Grecian Arti-
ficer, of fine white Statuary Marble ; you may
plainly difcern the Veins, and Mufcles, thePoilure,
and Mettle of the Steed, having one Ear (among
other Graces) (landing forwards, and the other to-
5 wards

136 A Description of the

wards the Rider, who has Spurs on his Heels^
and a Ring on his Finger, &c. very ingenioufly
wrought ; as are alfo the Breafl-plate, the Rcins^
and the Bridle. The Infcription on the Pedellal,
is as follows.

M. N O N I O. M. R





tt has not yet been found what this Infcription is 5
no one could hitherto underiland the P. R. There
have been feveral Explications made at Florence,
all which I have noted ; but now, ad only as a
Relater, not an Antiquary. The King has placed
this Equeftrian Statue, fwhich is the mod beauti-
ful this Day in the whole World, much finer than
that of Antoninus in the Capitol, both as it is
done by a better Mafter, and as it is of older Date,)
in the Court of his grand Palace at Portici, being
inclofed with an Iron Gate, and Marble Pilafters^
and a Guard of Soldiers about it.

Before the Steps of the faid Palace you fee, on a
modern Bafe, a compleat Statue of Vitellius the
Emperor, as large as Life : It is extremely per-
fe6t, and his Features very like thofe on the Coin.
The Breaft-plate is ornamented with whimfical
Bafii Rilievi, and the Spurs are furprizing, as is
alfo his Robe i there is only wanting the Spear,
which pofiibly he held in his Right Hand, that
being alfo wanting. This was found not long be-
fore the above-mentioned Equeftrian Statue.

They found fix or more Coloffal Statues, and
Statues of Wornen, of Bronze -, and one of Nero
entirely naked, alfo of Bronze, holding Thunder
in his Kand like Jupiter, of excellent Workman-
fhip. Two Coloffal Statues feated, but without


Antlent City ^/^ HERACLEA. 137

Heads. A little Temple of Mofaic Work. A
furprizing Number of middling-fized, and fmall
Statues and Idols ; fome of which are fo curious,
that two or three are worth all the Expence that
the King hath hitherto been at. They are not yet
all placed, but are repolifhing, without taking otF
their antique Patina % or Colour. It is reported,
that they found another Horfe equal to the former,
but broken. I fhall not mention feveral other
Things of Marble, fuch as Tables fupported by
whimfical Figures, &:c.

They have found fundry other Things tending
to illuftrate Antiquity, viz. VefTels of Brafs, with-
out Flaws -, Meafures for Liquors, with the Han-
dles curioufly wrought with BalTi Rilievi ♦, and an
infinite Number of Kitchen Utenfils ; alfo Inftru-
ments to knead Fadry ; and (who would believe
it ?) they found an Oven flopped, which being
opened, had a Pye within in a Metal Fan, about
,one Palm and an half Diameter ; the Pye being
burnt to a Coal (neverthelefs one might perceive
the Ornaments of the Cruft) fell in Pieces in the
Difh, which was carried to the King. In the
Bake-houfe they found feveral Utenfils of Metal,
and of Chalk : Wherefore, let no one doubt the
Truth thereof, as we have had fuch certain Signs,
and faithful Accounts.

There were found fome curious Marble Columns,
two of which were about fix Palms high, which
^the King has placed in his Oratory in the faid Pa-
lace ; TefTellated Pavements, &c. Several Things
are lo{f, becaufe the Fire of Vefuvius, which co-
vered them, has cither totally, or partly confumed
many Things, even tho' of Marble or Brafs.

=* A Sort of green Cruft that comes over Copper and Brafs
Coins, &c. when they have lain any Time in the Ground, bus
does no: in the leall obfciire the Impreffion.

T The

138 u^ Description of the

The King has in his Mufeum Locks of all Sorts,
Keys, Latches, Door-Rings, Hinges, Arms, and
what not ? Cameo's^ Medals, Cornelians and Jewels,
fome curioufly cut, and fome but indifferently.

*Tis not a Year fince there was a Report in this
Metropolis, that they had found a Book of Brafs,
confining of only four Leaves, with Writing en-
graved on both Sides, containing a Difmiffion of
the Soldiers of that Place where the Search was
made, having Clafps, &:c. A Thing which is not
in the PoflcfTion of any other Monarch : It could
not be read by the Learned, as the King keeps it
under Lock and Key.

The Infcriptions are the mofl: valuable Pieces of
Antiquity, becaufe they acquaint us what thofe
Places wer-?, where they are found ; they mention
the Names of the Emperors, and the Thec^re :
Among others, iaft Summer they found a very
laige one, which they fay mentions fome Roman
Families. It feems, Monf. Bajardi intends to pub-
lifh it.

There are alfo a great Number of Fragments,
which cannot be put together, as they are fo evil
treated, and broke.

Our King feems extremely jealous, and keeps
every Thing fafe locked up ; and there are fevtral
Rooms ereding under the Royal Apartments in
the Palace at Naples, wherein to place thefe An-
tiquities in Order, (but v/e don't know when it
will be done) pofTibly with the Afnftance of fome
learned Antiquaries.

Every one would be glad that we would explain
to Foreigners, what Place this has been where we
find thefe fuperb and precious Remains. But how
can we tell for certain, fince the Mining is done
fo confufedly, and they don't leave the Parts empty
that have been dug, but fill them up again as they
go on, becaufe there is a large Village over it,
4. called

Antlent City ^f HERACLEA. 139

called by us Refina^ and by iw^ Latins Retina P It
would amaze one ro fee the many Statues of the
feveral Emperors. 'Tis true, that we had Vitel-
lius and Nero in our Theatres, to whom Statues
might be eredied : But as we find in the fame
Place, the Names of the Proconfuls Balbi, and the
Statues of Women like Veftals, &c. about nine
Palms high, we can't fay whether here had been a
Temple, a Theatre, a City, or any triumphal
Arches ; and fo much the more as we found Ovens,
Kitchens, culinary Utenfils, Books, &c. and it
will not be eafily determined ; wherefore we mud
wait till Chance or Fortune throws in our Way
fome furer Tra6l or Method of finding it out, and
then we fhall make known the Truth to the Pub-
Jick. Moreover, it ought to be confidered, that
Vefuvius is a fad Deflroyer, which Ruins and burns
up our pleafant Country. And who, among even
the moft learned Antiquaries, can (from only what
we fee) argue or determine what this fertile, rare,
and fuperb Antiquity has been ?

One Thing we have already found for certain,
fcil. that Herculanum^ or Herculanium^ 'H^xycXsTov m
the Greek, was here, and not at Torre del Greco,
as we Neapolitans, and all the moft exadl Geogra-
phers, (and among the reft Cluerius, who faw thefc
Places) believed, having found that the Henulu'
nenfes erecfted a Statue to Nonius Balbiis.

Thofe who have not read Dion, S^rabo, and the
other Geographers m the Originals, but only ia
Trandations, believe, and are obft'nate in perfifting,
that it is the Theatre that was demoiifned in the
Reign of Titus, &c. as our Sig. Lafena, a very
obfcure Author, fiys in his Book de Gymnafio,
tho' he fays it is moft likely, that the Theatre was
not in Heraclea, but in our Royal City, or elfe in
both Places. It would take up a Year's Time to
decide thisQueftion, to ccnfulc a great Number of

T 2 Greek

140 A Description of the
Greek and Latin Authors, and make the neceflary .
Obfervations, and to clear it from the Confufion
'tis put in, by our learned Sig. Lafena, who merits
Cenfure for every Reflexion he has made.

At prefent our King has (with a truly Royal
Magnificence) begun to dig another vail Pit at
Cuma^ tlio' a little exhaufted, by Reafon of the
Antiquities therein not having been fo much co-
vered there, as at Refina or Heraclea. However,
there is found a Gallery with a great many Coloflal
Statues, one of which being taken up, is a Hercu-
les fourteen or fifteen Palms high, quite naked,
and Part of his Arms and Legs are wanting : The
Head, and what remains, is not inferior to the
Ercole Farnefe, All our Painters admire it with
Surprize. They dug up from Time to Time fe-
veral fuch Statues, which will be placed on new
Bales, under the Arches of the Royal Palace at
Naples. They found fome curious BalTi Rilicvi ;
two fine Infcriptions, the one in Greek, which I
interpreted; the other very difficult, in Hexameter
Verfes, in Praife of Venus -, which I alfo made
out, and read to the Abbot Cofifali, and fent a
fmali Copy to the learned Apoilolo Zeno ; befides
many fepulchral liifcriptions of the Liberti or
Freemen, which, if 1 have not all myfelf, I know
where they are.

There is no Room to doubt that Heraclea was
v/here Refina now flands, as it is faid in Antoni-
nus's Itinerary (or Journal) to be fix Miles from
Naples; whtrt^sTorre del Greco, which was thought
to have been Heraclea, is called Turris O^ava, be-
ing eight Miles from that Metropolis, and poflibly
there was a Tower at the End of every Mile.

I hear by my Friends (who have read fome of

the Remains of Infcriptions) that they found fome

cubital Letters plainly to exprefs Teatro, and the

Name of the Archkcd: Rufus, who built it.

. The

jintient City of HER ACLE A. 141

The Hole they have dug runs eighty Pahns
deep, and is entirely covered with thick Bitumen,
which Vefuvius has poured out at divers Times ^
and this Place is upwards of five or fix Mi^es di-
flant from the Mouth of that Vulcano. 'Tis about
one Mile from the Sea. I think it is worthy the
Obfervation of every learned Perfon, that this
Theatre and City of Heraclea^ bears upon it a
Mafs of Bitumen eighty Palms thick ; and in the
Time of Titus, this Shore was fo many Palms
lov/er than it is now. What furprizing Eruptions
of Fire and Stones!

I had forgot to inform you, that there were
found a great Number of excellent Paintings,
which v/ere pared off from the fubterraneous
Walls, and put in convenient Places, to be viewed
by the ProfelTors, who admire the Livelinefs of
the Colours, the Defign, and the ExprelTion of
what is reprefented.

The King being advifed, that all thefe Remains
of Antiquities ought to be engraved on Copper
Plates, a bad Artift fet about them \ whence be-
ing very incorrectly done, the beft Engraver at
Rome was fent for, and a handfome Reward
affigned him ; and as he is extremely well verfed
in defigning, the Publick may expe6t foon to have
■ the Pleafure of feeing Plates of the Statues, and
the reft of the new Mufeum.

They found a curious Mano Pantea, which will
cxercife the ingenious Lovers of Antiquities.

Among the Paintings, which have been difco-
vered, and are preferved by the King, there are
Reprefentations of Buildings of noble Architefture^
and in thefe, are to be (ten. W^indows v/ith Panes,
which have deceived fome of our middling Anti-
quaries, who have reported them to be Glafs,
like ours, but may poflibly reprefent the tranfpa-
rent Stones they ufcd for them.


142 ^Description of the

In fliort, we might furniHi the PubJick with
different Informations before unknown, and necef-
fary to illuftrate the beft Greek and Latin Writers.

Now while I am finifhing this Account, I am
informed by Perfons of Credit, that a few Days
fincc there was found an Etwee very much worn,
containing Needles, ScifTars, Thimbles, and other
Feminine Implements : Alfo a large Marble Statue,
and other large Pieces of Marble Columns, which,
thofe that are digging, flatter themfelves will be
very curious.

Square quum itajtnt^ nemo inficiahitur, Herctdanen-
fern Civitatem ah inferis noftra hac tempeftate excitatam
fihi optinto jure eos plaufus promeruijfe^ quos Tu, Cla-
rijjime Gefnere^ edidijli in Programmate^ quo Regime
tftius Academic decennalie celebrafti, Idoneis fiquidem
jam tejlihus conjiat^ Herculanum ex Vefuvii reje^a-
mentis erutum Antiquitatt^ Hiftoria^ Architehur£^
Uteris omnibus profuturum. * ^.are tiU plaudo^ Ora-
tor difertiffme^ "tibi graiulor, atque Eruditis omnibus
gaudeo. Vale,

Brixise, die xvi. Martii, An. mdccxlviii.

* P. S. An autem infer ^vire etiam pajjit Jigenda Dilwvii Noetict
efochaf id profe£lo a fir mare non aiifim^ nee froinde fuffragio ?neo
frobare qua de ea re/cripjit Pra-ful Romance Curia cetera dodif-
Jtmus^ mikique^^ dum wi'veret^ amiciJJtmuSy Franc, Bianchinus in
libra, Hiftoria Univerfale provata con monumenti, e figurata
con fimboli degli Antichi : ^0 enim pa6lo mihi

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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 11 of 11)