Imágenes de página

The Roman Nemesis was sacred and august ; there was a temple to her in the Palatine under the name of Rhamnusia : * so · great indeed was the propensity of the ancients to trust to the revolution of events, and to believe in the divinity of Fortune, that in the same Palatine there was a temple to the Fortune of the day. ** This is the last superstition which retains its hold over the human heart; and from concentrating in one object the credulity so natural to man, has always appeared strongest in those unembarrassed by other articles of belief. The antiquaries have supposed this goddess to be synonimous with fortune and with fate : *** but it was in her vindiclive quality that she was worshipped under the name of Nemesis.

Stanza CXL,

I see before me the Gladiator lie. Whether the wonderful statue which suggested this image be a laquearian gladiator, which in spite of Winkelmann's criticism has

conti calls the statue , however, a Cybele. It is given in the Museo Pio-Clement. tom. 0. par. 40. The Abate Fea (Spiegazione dei Rami. Storia, etc. tom. iii. p, 513.) calls it a Chrisippus.

* Dict. de Bayle, article Adrastea. ** It is enumerated by the regionary Victor, *** Fortunæ hujusce diei. Cicero mentions her, de legib. lib. ii.





See Questiones Romanæ, etc. Ap. Græv. Antiq. Roman. tom. v. p. 942. See also Muratori. Nov. Thesaur. Inscrip. Vet. tom, i. p. 88, 89, where there are three Latin and one Greek inscription to Nemesis , aud others to Fate.

crown of martyrdom, and the title of saint, which surely has never either before or since been awarded for a more noble exploit. Honorius immediately abolished the shows, which were never afterwards revived. The story is told by Theodoret * and Cassiodorus, t and seems worthy or credit notwithstanding its place in the Roman martyrology. S Besides the torrents of blood which flowed at the funerals, in the amphitheatres, the circus, the forums, and other public places, gladiators were introduced at feasts, and tore each other to pieces amidst the supper tables, to the great delight and applause of the guests. Yet Lipsius permits himself to suppose the loss of courage, and the evident degeneracy of mankind, to be nearly connected with the abolition of these bloody spectacles. ()

Stanza CXLII.
Here, where the Roman million's blame or praise

Was death or life, the playthings of a crowd. When one gladiator wounded another, he shouted «he has it, » « hoc habet,» or «habet. » The wounded combatant dropped his weapon, and advancing to the edge of the arena, supplicated the spectators. If he had fought well, the people saved him; if otherwise, or as they happened to be inclined, they turned down their thumbs, and he was slain. They were occasionally so savage that they were impatient if a combat lasted longer than ordinary without wounds or death. The emperor's presence generally saved the vanquished: and it is recorded as an instance of Caracalla’s fe

* Hist. Eccles. cap. xxvi. lib. v.
+ Cassiod. Tripartita. 1. x. c. xi. Salurn. ib. ib.

S Baronius. ad. ann. et in notis ad Martyrol. Rom. i. Jan. See-Marangoni delle memorie sacre e profane dell' Amfiteatro Flavio, p. 25. edit. 1746. : 0) « Quod ? non Lipsi momentum aliquod habuisse censes ad virtutem ? Magnum. Tempora nostra, nosque ipsos videamus. Oppidum ecce unum alterumve captum, direptum est; tumultus circa nos , non in nobis : et tamen concidimus et turbamur. Ubi robur, ubi tot per annos meditata sapientiæ studia ? ubi ille animus qui possit dicere , si fractus illabatur orbis? » etc. ibid. lib. ii. cap. xxv. The prototype of Mr. Windham's panegyric on bull-bailing.

rocity, that he sent those who supplicated him for life, in a spectacle at Nicomedia, to ask the people; in other words, handed them over to be slain. A similar ceremony is observed at the Spanish bull-fights. The magistrate presides; and after the horsemen and piccadores have fought the bull, the matadore steps forward and bows to him for permission to kill the animal. If the bull has done his duty by killing two or three horses, or a man, which last is rare, the people interfere with shouts, the ladies wave their handkerchiefs, and the animal is saved. The wounds and death of the horses are accompanied with the loudest acclamations, and many gestures of delight, especially from the female portion of the au. dience, including those of the gentlest blood. Every thing depends on hahit. The author of Childe Harold, the writer of this note, and one or two other Englishmen, who have certainly in other days borne the sight of a pitched baltle, were, during the summer of 1809, in the governor's box at the great amphitheatre of Santa Maria; opposite to Cadiz. The death of one or two horses completely satisfied their curiosity. A gentleman present, observing them shudder and look pale, noticed that unusual reception of so delightful a sport to some young ladies, who stared and smiled, and continued their applauses as another horse feel bleeding to the ground. One bull killed three horses off his own horns. He was saved by acclamations which were redoubled when it was known he belonged to a priest.

An Englishman who can be much pleased with seeing two men beat themselves to pieces, cannot bear to look 'at a horse gallopping round an arena with his bowels trailing on the ground, and turns from the spectacle and the spectators with horror and disgust.

Stanza CXLIV. Like laurels on the bald first Cæsar's brow. Suetonius informs us that Julius Cæsar was particularly gratified by that decree of the senate, which enabled him to wear a wreath of laurel on all occasions. He was anxious, not to show that he was the conqueror of the world, but to hide that he was bald. A stranger at Rome would hardly have guessed at the motive, nor should we without the help of the historian.

Stanza CXLV. While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand. This is quoted in the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ; and a notice on the Coliseum may be seen in the Historical Illustrations to the IVth Canto of Childe Harold.

Stanza CXLVI.

........ spared and blest by time, « Though plundered of all its brass, except the ring which was necessary to preserve the aperture above ; though exposed to repeated fires , though sometimes flooded by the river, and always open to the rain, no monument of equal antiquity is so well preserved as this rotundo, It passed with little alteration from the Pagan into the present worship ; and so convenient were its niches for the Christian altar , that Michael Angelo , ever studious of ancient beauty, introduced their design as a model in the Catholic church, »

Forythe’s Remarks, etc. on Italy , p. 137. set. edit,

Stanza CXLVII. And they who feel for geniùs may repose Their eyes on honoured forms, whose busts around them close. The Pantheon has been made a receptacle for the busts of modern great, or, at least distinguished, men. The flood of light which once fell through the large orb above on that whole circle of divinities, now shines on a numerous assemblage of mortals, some one or two of whom have been almost deified by the veneralion of their countrymen.

Stanza CXLVIII, There is a dungeon , in whose dim drear light This and the three next stanzas allude to the story of the Roman daughter, which is recalled to the traveller , by the site or pretended site of that adventure now shewn at the church of St. Nicholas in carcere. The difficulties attending the full belief of the tale are stated in Historical Illustrations, etc,

Stanza CLII.
Turn to the Mole which Hadrian reard on high.
The castle of St. Angelo. See-Historical Illustrations.

Stanza CLIII. This and the six pext stanzas have a reference to the church of St. Peter's. For a measurement of the comparative length of this basilica , and the other great churches of Europe , see the pavement of St. Peter's, and the Classical Tour through Ilaly , vol. i. pag. 125. et seq chap. iv.

Stanza CLXXI.

the strange fate Which tumbles mightiest sovereigns. Mary died on the scaffold; Elibabeth of a broken heart; Charles V. a hermit; Louis XIV. a bankrupt in means and glory ; Cromwell of anxiety; and , « the greatest is behind, » Napoleon lives a prisoner. To these sovereigns a long but superfluous list might be added of names equally illustrious and unhappy.

Stanza CLXXIII, Lo , Nemi! navelled in the woody hills, The village of Nemi was near the Arician retreat of Ægeria, and from the shades which embosomed the temple of Diana, has preserved to this day its distinctive appellation of The Grove. Nemi is but an evening's ride from the comfortable inn of Albano.

Stanza CLXXIV.

And afar
The Tyber winds, and the broad ocean laves

The Latian coast, etc. etc. The whole declivity of the Alban hill is of unrivalled beauly, and from the convent on the highest point, which has succeeded to the temple of the Lalian Jupiter, the prospect embraces all the objects alluded to in the cited stanza : the Mediterranean; the whole scene of the latter half of the Æneid, and the coast from beyond the mouth of the Tyber to the headland of Circæum and the Cape of Terracina.

« AnteriorContinuar »