Графични страници
PDF файл

they are all of them the product of that age. They would probably have been mentioned by Pliny the naturalist, who lived in the next reign save one before Antoninus Pius, had they been made in his time. As for the brazen figure of Marcus Aurelius on horseback, there is no doubt of its being of this age, though I must confess it may be doubted whether the medal I have cited represents it. All I can say for it is, that the horse and man on the medal are in the same posture as they are on the statue, and that there is a resemblance of Marcus Aurelius's face, for I have seen this reverse on a medallion of Don Livio's cabinet, and much more distinctly in another very beautiful one, that is in the hands of Signior Marc. Antonio. It is generally objected, that Lucius Verus would rather have placed the figure of himself on horseback upon the reverse of his own coin, than the figure of Marcus Aurelius. But it is very well known that an emperor often stamped on his coins the face or ornaments of his colleague, as an instance of his respect or friendship for him; and we may suppose Lucius Verus would omit no opportunity of doing honour to Marcus Aurelius, whom he rather revered as his father, than treated as his partner in the empire. The famous Antinous in the Belvidere must have been made too about this age, for he died towards the middle of Adrian's reign, the immediate predecessor of Antoninus Pius. This entire figure, though not to be found in medals, may be seen in several precious stones. Monsieur La Chausse, the auchor of the Museum Romanum, showed me an Antinous that ne has published in his last volume, cut in a cornelian, which me values at fifty pistoles. It represents him in the habit of a Mercury, and is the finest intaglia that I ever saw.

Next to the statues, there is nothing in Rome more surprisng than that amazing variety of ancient pillars of so many kinds of marble. As most of the old statues may be well supposed to have been cheaper to their first owners than chey are to a modern purchaser, several of the pillars are certainly rated at a much lower price at present than they were of old. For not to mention what a huge column of granite, serpentine, or porphyry, must have cost in the quarry, or in its carriage from Egypt to Rome, we may only consider the great difficulty of hewing it into any form, and of giving t the due turn, proportion, and polish. It is well known how these sorts of marble resist the impressions of such in

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][subsumed][merged small][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

struments as are now in use. There is, indeed, a Milanese at Rome who works in them, but his advances are so very slow, that he scarce lives upon what he gains by it. He showed me a piece of porphyry worked into an ordinary salver, which had cost him four months' continual application, before he could bring it into that form. The ancients had probably some secret to harden the edges of their tools, without recurring to those extravagant opinions of their having an art to mollify the stone, or that it was naturally softer at its first cutting from the rock, or what is still more absurd, that it was an artificial composition, and not the natural product of mines and quarries. The most valuable pillars about Rome, for the marble of which they are made, are the four columns of oriental jasper in St. Paulina's chapel at St. Maria Maggiore; two of oriental granite in St. Pudenziana; one of trasparent oriental jasper in the Vatican library; four of Nero-Bianco, in St. Cecilia Transtevere ; two of Brocatello, and two of oriental agate in Don Livio's palace; two of Giallo Antico in St. John Lateran, and two of Verdi Antique in the Villa Pamphilia. These are all entire and solid pillars, and made of such kinds of marble as are nowhere to be found but among antiquities, whether it be that the veins of it are undiscovered, or that they were quite exhausted upon the ancient buildings. Among these old pillars, I cannot forbear reckoning a great part of an alabaster column, which was found in the ruins of Livia's portico. It is of the colour of fire, and may be seen over the high altar of St. Maria in Campitello, for they have cut it into two pieces, and fixed it in the shape of a cross in a hole of the wall that was made on purpose to receive it; so that the light passing through it from without, makes it look, to those who are in the church, like a huge transparent cross of amber. As for the workmanship of the old Roman pillars, Monsieur Desgodetz, in his accurate measures of these ruins, has observed, that the ancients have not kept to the nicety of proportion, and the rules of art, so much as the moderns in this particular. Some, to excuse this defect, lay the blame of it on the workmen of Egypt, and of other nations, who sent most of the ancient pillars ready shaped to Rome: others say that the ancients, knowing architecture was chiefly designed to please the eye, only took care to avoid such disproportions as were gross enough to be observed by the


ht, without minding whether or no they approached to a athematical exactness: others will have it rather to be an ect of art, and of what the Italians call the gusto grande, an of any negligence in the architect; for they say the anents always considered the situation of a building, whether were high or low, in an open square or in a narrow street, d more or less deviated from their rules of art, to comply th the several distances and elevations from which their orks were to be regarded. It is said there is an Ionic pillar the Santa Maria Transtevere, where the marks of the mpass are still to be seen on the volute, and that Palladio rnt from hence the working of that difficult problem; but never could find time to examine all the old columns of that urch. Among the pillars, I must not pass over the two blest in the world, of Trajan and Antonine. There could t have been a more magnificent design than that of Tran's pillar. Where could an emperor's ashes have been so bly lodged, as in the midst of his metropolis, and on the p of so exalted a monument, with the greatest of his actions derneath him? Or, as some will have it, his statue was the top, his urn at the foundation, and his battles in the dst. The sculpture of it is too well known to be here entioned. The most remarkable piece of Antonine's pillar the figure of Jupiter Pluvius, sending down rain on the nting army of Marcus Aurelius, and thunderbolts on his emies, which is the greatest confirmation possible of the ory of the Christian legion, and will be a standing evidence it, when any passage in an old author may be supposed be forged. The figure that Jupiter here makes among e clouds, puts me in mind of a passage in the Eneid, ich gives just such another image of him. Virgil's inpreters are certainly to blame, that suppose it is nothing t the air which is here meant by Jupiter.

Quantus ab occasu veniens pluvialibus hædis
Verberat imber humum, quàm multâ grandine nimbi
In vada præcipitant, quum Jupiter horridus austris
Torquet aquosam hyemem, et cœlo cava nubila rumpit. N. ix.

The combat thickens, like the storm that flies
From westward, when the showery kids arise:
Or pattering hail comes pouring on the main,
When Jupiter descends in hardened rain;
Or bellowing clouds burst with a stormy sound,
And with an armed winter strew the ground.


I have seen a medal that, according to the opinion of many learned men, relates to the same story. The emperor is entitled on it Germanicus, (as it was in the wars of Germany that this circumstance happened,) and carries on the reverse a thunderbolt in his hand; for the heathens attributed the same miracle to the piety of the emperor, that the Christians ascribed to the prayers of their legion. Fulmen de cœlo precibus suis contra hostium machinamentum Marcus extorsit, suis pluvia impetratâ cùm siti laborarent. Jul.


Claudian takes notice of this miracle, and has given the same reason for it.

Ad templa vocatus,

Clemens Marce, redis, cum gentibus undique cinctam
Exuit Hesperiam paribus fortuna periclis.
Laus ibi nulla ducum, nam flammeus imber in hostem
Decidit: hunc dorso trepidum fumante ferebat
Ambustus sonipes; hic tabescente solutus
Subsedit galea, liquefactaque fulgure cuspis
Canduit, et subitis fluxere vaporibus enses.
Tunc, contenta polo, mortalis nescia teli
Pugna fuit; Chaldæa mago seu carmina ritu
Armavere Deos; seu, quod reor, omne tonantis
Obsequium Marci mores potuere mereri.


So mild Aurelius to the gods repaid
The grateful vows that in his fears he made,
When Latium from unnumbered foes was freed:
Nor did he then by his own force succeed;
But with descending showers of brimstone fired,
The wild barbarian in the storm expired.
Wrapt in devouring flames the horseman raged,
And spurred the steed, in equal flames engaged:
Another pent in his scorched armour glowed,
While from his head the melting helmet flowed;
Swords by the lightning's subtle force distilled,
And the cold sheath with running metal filled:
No human arm its weak assistance brought,
But Heaven, offended Heaven, the battle fought;
Whether dark magic and Chaldean charms
Had filled the skies, and set the gods in arms;
Or good Aurelius (as I more believe)
Deserved whatever aid the Thunderer could give.

I do not remember that M. Dacier, among several quotations on this subject, in the Life of Marcus Aurelius, has taken notice, either of the forementioned figure on the pillar


Marcus Antoninus, or of the beautiful passage I have oted out of Claudian.


It is pity the obelisks in Rome had not been charged with veral parts of the Egyptian histories instead of hieroglyics, which might have given no small light to the antiquies of that nation, which are now quite sunk out of sight in Lose remoter ages of the world. Among the triumphal ches, that of Constantine is not only the noblest of any ome, but in the world. I searched narrowly into it, espeally among those additions of sculpture made in the emeror's own age, to see if I could find any marks of the oparition that is said to have preceded the very victory hich gave occasion to the triumphal arch. But there are ot the least traces of it to be met with, which is not very range, if we consider that the greatest part of the ornaents were taken from Trajan's arch, and set up to the new onqueror in no small haste, by the senate and people of ome, who were then most of them heathens. There is, owever, something in the inscription, which is as old as the -ch itself, which seems to hint at the emperor's vision. mp. Cæs. Fl. Constantino maximo P. F. Augusto S. P. Q. 2. quod instinctu Divinitatis mentis magnitudine cum exercitu o tam de Tyranno quàm de omni ejus factione uno tempore stis Rempublicam ultus est armis arcum triumphis insignem icavit. There is no statue of this emperor at Rome with a ross to it, though the ecclesiastical historians there were such erected to him. I have seen of his medals that ere stamped with it, and a very remarkable one of his son Constantius, where he is crowned by a victory on the reverse with this inscription, In hoc Signo Victor eris R. This riumphal arch, and some other buildings of the same age, how us that architecture held up its head after all the ther arts of designing were in a very weak and languishing ondition, as it was probably the first among them that reived. If I was surprised not to find the cross in Constanine's arch, I was as much disappointed not to see the figure f the temple of Jerusalem on that of Titus, where are reresented the golden candlestick, the table of shew-bread, nd the river Jordan. Some are of opinion, that the compoite pillars of this arch were made in imitation of the pillars f Solomon's temple, and observe that these are the most ncient of any that are found of that order.























of S






is a tica

if h


Mar have




« ПредишнаНапред »