Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

superstition had totally expired. This may account for the preservation of the ancient image longer than the other early symbols of Paganism.

It may be permitted, however, to remark that the wolf was a Roman symbol, but that the worship of that symbol is an inference drawn by the zeal of Lactantius. The early Christian writers are not to be trusted in the charges which they make against the Pagans. Eusebius accused the Ro. mans to their faces of worshipping Simon Magus, and raising a statue to him in the island of the Tyber. The Romans had probably never heard of such a person before, who came, however, to play a considerable, though scandalous part in the church history, and has left several tokens of his aerial combat with St. Peter at Rome; notwithstanding that an inscription found in this very island of the Tyber shewed the Simon Magus of Eusebius to be a certain indigenal god, called Semo Sangus or Fidius.'

Even wh the worship of the founder of Rome had been abandoned, it was thought expedient to humour the habits of the good matrons of the city by sending them with their sick infants to the church of Saint Theodore, as they had before carried them to the temple of Romulus.

The prac

vii. p. 602. in an. 496.] “ viguisse adhuc Romæ ad Gelasii tempora, quæ fuere ante exordia urbis allata in Italiam Lupercalia?” Gelasius wrote a letter which occupies four folio pages to Andromachus, the senator, and others, to show that the rites should be given up.

1 Eusebius has these words; και ανδριάντι παρ' υμίν ως θεός, τετίμηται, εν τω Τιβερι ποταμό μεταξύ των δύο γεφυρών, έχων επιγραφήν ρωμαικήν τάυτην Pipewne déw Cáyxtw. Ecclesi. Hist. Lib. ii. cap. xiii. p. 40. Justin Martyr had told the story before; but Baronius himself was obliged to detect this fable. See Nardini Roma Vet. lib. vii. cap. xii.

9" In essa gli antichi pontefici per toglier la memoria de' giuochi Lupercali istituiti in onore di Romolo, introdussero l'uso di portarvi Bambini oppressi da infermità occulte, accid si liberino per l'intercessione di questo Santo, come di continuo si sperimenta.” Rione xii. Ripa accurata e succincta descrizione, &c. di Roma Moderna dell'Ab. Ridolf. Venuti, 1766.

tice is continued to this day; and the site of the above church. seems to be thereby identified with that of the temple: so that if the wolf had been really found there, as Winkelmann says, there would be no doubt of the present statue being that seen by Dionysius. But Faunus, in saying that it was at the Ficus Ruminalis by the Comitium, is only talking of its ancient position as recorded by Pliny; and even if he had been remarking where it was found, would not have alluded to the church of Saint Theodore, but to a very different place, near which it was then thought the Ficus Ruminalis had been, and also the Comitium ; that is, the three columns by the church of Santa Maria Liberatrice, at the corner of the Palatine looking on the Forum.

It is, in fact, a mere conjecture where the image was actually dug up, and perhaps, on the whole, the marks of the gilding, and of the lightning, are a better argument in favour of its being the Ciceronian wolf than any that can be adduced for the contrary opinion. At any rate, it is reasonably selected in the text of the poem as one of the most interesting

Nardini, lib. v. cap. 11. convicts Pomponius Lætus crassi erroris, in putting the Ruminal fig-tree at the church of Saint Theodore: but as Livy says the wolf was at the Ficus Ruminalis, and Dionysius at the temple of Romulus, he is obliged (cap. iv.) to own that the two were close together, as well as the Lupercal cave, shaded, as it were, by the fig-tree.

26. Ad comitium ficus olim Ruminalis germinabat, sub qua lupæ rumam, hoc est, mammam, docente Varrone, suxerant olim Romulus et Remus; non procul a templo hodie D. Mariæ Liberatricis appellato ubi forsan invent! nobilis illa ænea statua lupæ geminos puerulos lactantis, quam hodie in capitolis videmus.” Olai Borrichii antiqua Urbis Roinana facics, cap. x. See also cap. xii. Borrichius wrote after Nardini in 1687. Ap. Græv. Antiq. Rom. tom. iv. p. 1522.

relics of the ancient city, and is certainly the figure, if not
the
very animal to which Virgil alludes in his beautiful verses:

“ Geminos huic ubera circum
Ludere pendentes pueros et lambere matrem
Impavidos : illam teriti cervice reflexam
Mulcere alternos, et fingere corpora lingua.”

» 2

47.

For the Roman's mind
Was modell’d in a less terrestrial mould.

Stanza xc. lines 3 and 4. It is possible to be a very great man and to be still very inferior to Julius Cæsar, the most complete character, so Lord Bacon thought, of all antiquity. Nature seems incapable of such extraordinary combinations as composed his versatile capacity, which was the wonder even of the Romans themselves. The first general—the only triumphant politician-inferior to none in eloquence-comparable to any in the attainments of wisdom, in an age made up of the greatest commanders, statesmen, orators and philosophers that ever appeared in the world—an author who composed a perfect specimen of military annals in his travelling carriage-at one time in a controversy with Cato, at another writing a treatise on punning, and collecting a set of good sayings—fighting and making love at the same moment, and willing to abandon both his empire and his mistress for a sight of the Fountains of the Nile. Such did Julius Cæsar appear to his cotemporaries and to those of the subsequent ages, who were the most inclined to deplore and execrate his fatal genius.

· Donatus, lib. xi. cap. 18. gives a medal representing on one side the wolf in the same position as that in the Capitol; and in the reverse the wolf with the head not reverted. It is of the time of Antoninus Pius.

? Æn. viii. 631. See-Dr. Middleton, in his Letter from Rome, who inclines to the Ciceronian wolf, but without examining the subject.

3 In his tenth book, Lucan shews him sprinkled with the blood of Pharsalia in the arms of Cleopatra,

Sanguine Thessalicæ cladis perfusus adulter
Admisit Venerem curis, et miscuit armis.

But we must not be so much dazzled with his surpassing glory or with his magnanimous, his amiable qualities, as to forget the decision of his impartial countryman:

HE WAS JUSTLY SLAIN.

48.
What from this barren being do we reap?
Our senses narrow, and our reason frail.

Stanza xciii. lines 1 and 2.

.... omnes pene veteres ; qui nihil cognosci, nihil percepi, nihil sciri posse dixerunt; angustos sensus; imbecillos animos, brevia curricula vitæ ; in profundo veritatem demer

After feasting with his mistress, he sits up all night to converse with the Ægyptian sages, and tells Achoreus,

Spes sit mihi certa videndi
Niliacos fontes, bellum civile relinquam.

“ Sic velut in tuta securi pace trahebant

Noctis iter medium." Immediately afterwards, he is fighting again and defending every position.

“ Sed adest defensor ubique Cæsar et hos aditus gladiis, hos ignibus arcet

cæca nocte carinis Insiluit Cæsar semper feliciter usus

Præcipiti cursu bellorum et tempore rapto." "“ Jure cæsus existemetur," says Suetonius after a fair estimation of his character, and making use of a phrase which was a formula in Livy's time. “ Melium jure cæsum pronuntiavit, etiam si regni crimine insons fuerit :" [lib. iv. cap. 48.] and which was continued in the legal judgments pronounced in justifiable homicides, such as killing housebreakers. See Sueton. in vit. C. J. Cæsar, with the commentary of Pitiscus, p. 184.

sam ; opinionibus et institutis omnia teneri ; nihil veritati relinqui: deinceps omnia tenebris circumfusa esse dixerunt."! The eighteen hundred years which have elapsed since Cicero wrote this, have not removed any of the imperfections of humanity: and the complaints of the ancient philosophers may, without injustice or affectation, be transcribed in a poem written yesterday.

49.
There is a stern round tower of other days.

Stanza xcix. line 1. Alluding to the tomb of Cecilia Metella, called Capo di Bove, in the Appian Way. See-Historical Illustrations of the IVth Canto of Childe Harold.

50.

Prophetic of the doom
Heaven gives its favourites-early death.

Stanza cii. lines 5 and 6.
Ον οι θεοί φιλoύσιν αποθνήσκει νέος
Το γαρ θανείν ουκ αισχρόν αλλ' αισχρώς θανείν.

Rich. Franc. Phil. Brunck. Poetæ Gnomici, p. 231, edit. 1784.

51. Behold the Imperial Mount ! 'tis thus the mighty falls.

Stanza cvii. line 9. The Palatine is one mass of ruins, particularly on the side towards the Circus Maximus. The very soil is formed of crumbled brick-work. Nothing has been told, nothing can be told, to satisfy the belief of any but a Roman antiquary. -See-Historical Illustrations, page 206.

1 Academ, 1. 13.

« AnteriorContinuar »