ROMAN MOSAICS

OR

STUDIES IN ROME AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD

BY

HUGH MACMILLAN

D.D., LL.D., F.R.S.E., F.S.A. Scot.

AUTHOR OF
'BIBLE TEACHINGS IN NATURE,' 'FIRST FORMS OF VEGETATION,' 'HOLIDAYS IN HIGH LANDS,' 'THE RIVIERA,' ETC.
London
MACMILLAN AND CO.
AND NEW YORK
1888

PREFACE

The title of this book may seem fanciful. It may even be regarded as misleading, creating the idea that it is a treatise like that of Mr. Digby Wyatt on those peculiar works of art which decorate the old palaces and churches of Rome. But notwithstanding these objections, no title can more adequately describe the nature of the book. It is applicable on account of the miscellaneous character of the chapters, which have already appeared in some of our leading magazines and reviews, and are now, with considerable changes and additions, gathered together into a volume. There is a further suitableness in the title, owing to the fact that most of the contents have no claim to originality. As a Roman Mosaic is made up of small coloured cubes joined together in such a manner as to form a picture, so my book may be said to be made up of old facts gathered from many sources and harmonised into a significant unity. So many thousands of volumes have been written about Rome that it is impossible to say anything new regarding it. Every feature of its topography and every incident of its history have been described. Every sentiment appropriate to the subject has been expressed. But Rome can be regarded from countless points of view, and studied for endless objects. Each visitor's mind is a different prism with angles of thought that break up the subject into its own colours. And as is the case in a mosaic, old materials can be brought into new combinations, and a new picture constructed out of them. It is on this ground that I venture to add another book to the bewildering pile of literature on Rome.

But I have another reason to offer. While the great mass of the materials of the book is old and familiar, not a few things are introduced that are comparatively novel. The late Dean Alford made the remark how difficult it is to obtain in Rome those details of interest which can be so easily got in other cities. Guide-books contain a vast amount of information, but there are many points interesting to the antiquarian and the historian which they overlook altogether. There is no English book, for instance, like Ruffini's Dizionario Etimologico-Storico delle Strade, Piazze, Borghi e Vicoli della Città di Roma, to tell one of the origin of the strange and bizarre names of the streets of Rome, many of which involve most interesting historical facts and most romantic associations of the past. There is no English book on the ancient marbles of Rome like Corsi's Pietre Antiche, which describes the mineralogy and source of the building materials of the imperial city, and traces their history from the law courts and temples of which they first formed part to the churches and palaces in which they may now be seen. Every nook in London, with its memories and points of interest, has been chronicled in a form that is accessible to every one. But there is an immense amount of most interesting antiquarian lore regarding out-of-the-way things in Rome which is buried in the transactions of learned societies or in special Italian monographs, and is therefore altogether beyond the reach of the ordinary visitor. Science has lately shed its vivid light upon the physical history of the Roman plain; and the researches of the archæologist have brought into the daylight of modern knowledge, and by a wider comparison and induction have invested with a new significance, the prehistoric objects, customs, and traditions which make primeval Rome and the surrounding sites so fascinating to the imagination. But these results are not to be found in the books which the English visitor usually consults. In the following chapters I have endeavoured to supply some of that curious knowledge; and it is to be hoped that what is given—for it is no more than a slight sample out of an almost boundless store—will create an interest in such subjects, and induce the reader to go in search of fuller information.

Many of the points touched upon have provoked endless disputations which are not likely soon to be settled. Indeed there is hardly any line of study one can take up in connection with Rome which does not bristle with controversies; and a feeling of perplexity and uncertainty continually haunts one in regard to most of the subjects. It is not only in the vague field of the early traditions of the city, and of the medieval traditions of the Church, that this feeling oppresses one; it exists everywhere, even in the more solid and assured world of Roman art, literature, and history. Where it is so difficult to arrive at settled convictions, I may be pardoned if I have expressed views that are open to reconsideration.

I am aware of the disadvantages connected with thus collecting together a number of separate papers, instead of writing a uniform treatise upon one continuous subject. The picture formed by their union must necessarily have much of the artificiality and clumsiness of the mosaic as compared with the oil or water-colour painting. But only in this form could I have brought together such a great variety of important things. And though I cannot hope that the inherent defect of the mosaic will be compensated by its permanence—for books of this kind do not last—yet it will surely serve some good purpose to have such a collocation of facts regarding a place whose interest is ever varying and never dying.

The personal element is almost entirely confined to the first chapter, which deals on that account with more familiar incidents than the others. Twelve years have elapsed since my memorable sojourn in Rome; and many changes have occurred in the Eternal City since then. I have had no opportunity to repeat my visit and to add to or correct my first impressions, desirable as it might be to have had such a revision for the sake of this book. I duly drank of the water of Trevi the night before I left; but the spell has been in abeyance all these years. I live, however, in the hope that it has not altogether lost its mystic power; and that some day, not too far off, I may be privileged to go over the old scenes with other and larger eyes than those with which I first reverently gazed upon them. It needs two visits at least to form any true conception of Rome: a first visit to acquire the personal interest in the city which will lead at home to the eager search for knowledge regarding it from every source; and then the second visit to bring the mind thus quickened and richly stored with information to bear with new comprehension and increased interest upon the study of its antiquities on the spot.

HUGH MACMILLAN.


CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

A WALK TO CHURCH IN ROME

A Walk to Church in Country - In the Town - Residence in Capo le Case - Church of San Guiseppe = Propaganda - Pillar of Immaculate Conception - Piazza di Spagna—Staircase—Models—Beggars—Church of Trinita dei Monti—Flowers - Via Babuino - Piazza del Popolo—Flaminian Obelisk—Pincian Hill—Porta del Popolo—Church of Santa Maria del Popolo—Monastery of St. Augustine—Presbyterian Church—Villa Borghese—Ponte Molle, Pages 1-33

CHAPTER II

THE APPIAN WAY

Formation of Appian Way—Tombs on Roman Roads—Loneliness of Country outside Rome—Porta Capena—Restoration of Appian Way—Grove and Fountain of Egeria - Baths of Caracalla—Church of Sts. Nereus and Achilles—Tomb of Scipios—Columbaria—Arch of Drusus—Gate of St. Sebastian—Almo—Tomb of Geta—Plants in Valley of Almo—Catacombs of St. Calixtus—Catacomb of Pretextatus—Catacomb of Sts. Nereus and Achilles—Church of St. Sebastian—Circus of Romulus—Tomb of Cæcilia Metella—Sadness of Appian Way—Imagines Clipeatæ—Profusion of Plant and Animal Life—Solitude—Villa of Seneca—Mounds of Horatii and Curiatii—Villa of Quintilii—Tomb of Atticus—Casale Rotondo—Frattocchie—Bovillæ—Albano—St. Paul's Entrance into Rome by Appian Way, 34-87

CHAPTER III

THE CUMÆAN SIBYL

Promontory of Carmel—Westmost Point of Italy—Mode of reaching Cumæ—Few Relics of Ancient City—Uncertainty about Sibyl's Cave—Loneliness of Site—Roman Legend of Sibylline Books—Mode of Keeping Them—Sortes Sibyllinæ—Different Sibyls—Apocalyptic Literature—Existing Remains of Sibylline Books—Reverence paid to Sibyl by Christian Writers—Church of Ara Coeli—Roof of Sistine Chapel—Prospective Attitude of Sibyl—Retrospective Characteristic of Greek and Roman Religion—Connection between Hebrew and Pagan Prophecy—Pagan Oracles superseded by Living Oracles of the Gospel, 88-108

CHAPTER IV

FOOTPRINTS IN ROME

Footprints of our Lord in Church of Domine quo Vadis - Slabs with Footprints in Kircherian Museum - St. Christina's Footprints at Bolsena—Significance of Footmarks—Votive Offerings—Footprint of Mahomet at Jerusalem—Footprint of Christ on Mount of Olives—Footprints of Abraham at Mecca - Drusic Footprints - Phrabat, or Sacred Foot of Buddha—Famous Footprint on Summit of Adam's Peak in Ceylon—Footprints at Gayá—Footprints of Vishnu—Jain Temples—Prehistoric Footprints—Tanist Stones—Dun Add in Argyleshire—Mary's Step in Wales—Footmarks in Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and Brittany - Classical Examples—Footprints in America and Africa—Connection with Primitive Worship, 109-136

CHAPTER V

THE ROMAN FORUM

Geological History - Volcanic Origin - Early Legends—Cloaca Maxima—Work of Excavation—Ærarium—Capitol—Temple of Concord—Temple of Jupiter—Arch of Septimius Severus - Milliarium Aureum - Mamertine Prison - Pillar of Phocas—Suovetaurilia—Curia Hostilia—Comitium—Curia of Diocletian—Basilica Julia—Vicus Tuscus—Temple of Castor and Pollux—Atrium Vestæ—Temple of Vesta—Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina—Church of SS. Cosma e Damiano - Colosseum - Conflagration in Forum, 137-178

CHAPTER VI

THE EGYPTIAN OBELISKS

Number of Obelisks in Rome—Sun Worship—Symbolism of Obelisk—Obelisk of Nebuchadnezzar—Original position of Obelisks—Egyptian Propylons—Changes connected with Obelisks in Egypt—Transportation of Obelisks to Rome and other places—Obelisk of Heliopolis—Obelisk of Luxor—Karnac—Lateran Obelisk—Obelisk in Square of St. Peter's - Obelisk of Piazza del Popolo—Association of Fountains with Obelisks—Obelisk of Monte Citorio—Esquiline and Quirinal Obelisks—Obelisk of Trinita dei Monti—Pamphilian Obelisk—Obelisks near Pantheon - Superiority of Oldest Obelisks—Obelisk of Paris—Cleopatra's Needles in London and New York—Religious Devotion of Ancient Egyptians, 179-211

CHAPTER VII

THE PAINTED TOMB AT VEII

Excursions in neighbourhood of Rome—History of Veii—Uncertainty of its Site—Journey to Isola Farnese—Village of Isola—Romantic Scenery—Desolate Downs—Roman Municipium—Old Gateway—Ponte Sodo—Necropolis of Veii—Painted Tomb—Archaic Frescoes—Objects in Inner Chamber—Etruscan Tombs imitative of Homes of the Living—Worship of the Dead—Cellæ Memoriæ—Antiquity of Tomb at Veii—Mysterious character of Etruscan Language and History, 212-236

CHAPTER VIII

HOLED STONES AND MARTYR WEIGHTS

Bocca della Verita—Primitive Worship of Clefts in Rocks and Holes in Stones—Cromlechs—Passing through beneath Cromlechs and Gates—Tigillum Sororium—Pillars in Aksa Mosque at Jerusalem—"Threading the Needle" in Ripon Cathedral—Standing Stones of Stennis and Oath of Odin—Cremave—Jewish Covenant—Martyr Stones—Originally Roman Measures of Weight—Made of Jade or Nephrite—Remarkable History of Jade—Prehistoric Glimpses—Relics of Stone Age in Rome—Conservation of things connected with Religion, 237-252

CHAPTER IX

ST. ONOFRIO AND TASSO

Church of St. Onofrio—Monastery—Garden—Tasso's Oak—Grand View of Rome and Neighbourhood—Tasso's Birthplace at Sorrento—Remarkable Epoch—Bernardo Tasso—Prince of Salerno—Youth of Tasso—Visit to Rome—Sojourn at Venice—Student of Law at Padua—First Poem Rinaldo—University of Bologna—House of Este—Leonora—Composition of Gerusalemme Liberata—Death of Tasso's Father—Visit to France—Aminta and Pastoral Drama - Publication of Gerusalemme Liberata—Della Cruscan Academy—Ariosto—Cold Treatment of Tasso by Alfonso—Confinement in Hospital of St. Anne—Story of Hapless Love—Alleged Madness—Hospital of St. Anne—Torrismondo—Release of Tasso—Pilgrimage to Loretto—Residence at Naples - Connection with Milton—Gerusalemme Conquistata—Universal Recognition of Poet - Better Days—Closing Scenes of Life at St. Onofrio—Proposed Coronation at Capitol—Too Late—Death—Estimate of Life and Work, 253-310

CHAPTER X

THE MARBLES OF ANCIENT ROME

Pleasures of Marble Hunting in Rome and Neighbourhood—Artistic and Educational Uses of Marble Fragments—Geological Formation of Rome—Building Materials of Ancient Rome—Marbles of Conquered Countries introduced into Rome—Christian Churches made up of Remains of Pagan Temples—Parian Marble—Porine and Pentelic Marbles—Hymettian Marble—Thasian, Lesbian and Tyrian Marbles—Marble of Carrara—Apollo Belvedere—Colouring of Ancient Statues and Buildings—Gibson's Colour-creed—Time's Hues on Dying Gladiator—Cipollino—Giallo Antico—Africano—Porta Santa—Fior di Persico—Pavonazzetto—Rosso Antico—Sedia Forata—Faun—Black Marbles—Lumachella Marbles—Column of Trajan—Breccias—Alabasters—Verde Antique—Subterranean Church of San Clemente—Ophite and Opus Alexandrinum—Jaspers—Murrhine Cups—Lapis Lazuli—Church of Jesuits—Abundance of Marbles in Ancient Rome, 311-359

CHAPTER XI

THE VATICAN CODEX

Vatican Library—Origin and History—Monastery of Bobbio—Splendour and Charm of Library—Contents of two Principal Cabinets—Letters of Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn—Vatican Codex—Freshness of Appearance—Continuity of Writing—Vacant Space at end of St. Mark's Gospel—A Palimpsest—Origin of Vatican Codex—Sinaitic and Alexandrine Codices—History of Vatican Codex—Edition of Cardinal Mai—Edition of Tischendorf—Disappearance of all Previous Manuscripts—Faults and Deficiencies of Vatican Codex—Vatican Codex used in Revised Version of New Testament—Formation of Sacred Canon, 360-379

CHAPTER XII

ST. PAUL AT PUTEOLI

Landing of St. Paul in Ship Castor and Pollux at Puteoli-Loveliness of Bay of Naples=Crowded Population and Splendour of Villas-Dissoluteness of Inhabitants-Worship of Roman Emperors-St. Paul's Grief and Anxiety-Encouragement from Brethren-Christians in Tyrian Quarter at Puteoli and at Pompeii-Southern Italy Greek in Blood and Language-Quay at Puteoli-Temples of Neptune and Serapis—Changes of Level in Sea and Land—Monte Nuovo—Destruction of Village of Tripergola—Filling up of Leucrine Lake—Lake of Avernus - Sibyl's Cave - Lough Dearg and Purgatory of St. Patrick—Death Quarter among Prehistoric People in the West—Phlegræan Fields - Scene of Wars of Gods and Giants - Elysian Fields - Pagan Heaven and Hell—Via Cumana and St. Paul—Amphitheatre of Nero-Solfatara-Relics of Volcanic Fires and Ancient Civilisation mixed together--Volcanic Fires and Landscape Beauty--Completion of Gospel in St. Paul's Journey from Jerusalem to Rome, 380-397

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