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a matron, cannot refrain from pointing out the justness of the punishment "which encircled with the cord that very neck previously adorned with a necklace obtained by sacrilege from the most venerable of the Roman shrines." The priests of old, in the Eternal City, must have had greater faith in the devotion or the honesty of the worshippers, than is manifested by their successors of the present day, for although some of the Madonnas, especially that dell' Annunziata, seem one blaze of jewels, the gifts of devotees of every age and country, yet they are in reality nothing but false stones. The guardians of the churches themselves confess the substitution, and affirm, that to guard against accidents, every real offering is represented to the public view by a fac-simile in paste, whilst the originals are deposited for safety in the sacristy of the convent, though it is shrewdly suspected by the natives that the originals would not be forthcoming if demanded, having, immediately on their dedication, been converted into a form more applicable to the requirements of the " living temples." The sacred vessels of the sacristy of Cologne Cathedral blaze with a profusion of precious stones, which even to the eye of the casual inspector, appear too brilliant to be genuine, and have much the appearance of recent pastes. I have also been informed, by a person of the greatest skill in antique gems, that the large Onyx camei, already mentioned as decorating the ends of the shrine of the Three Kings, are not of stone but of coloured paste. If this be true, it affords strong grounds for suspicion that the originals have been abstracted at some time within the last tliree centuries; moved from their place by the potent arguments of some wealthy collector, and copies in paste substituted for them ; a fraud not difficult of execution, as the shrine is deposited within a very gloomy enclosure, and can oidy be examined by means of a hand-lantern, for which permission a consider
uble fee, one thaler, is charged. The devout but poor worshipper can only contemplate the open front of the shrine which contains the sacred skulls, from without, and at some distance, through a grating; so that any tampering with the ornaments of the sides of the shrine might be carried on without any fear of detection.
The sacrilege of Serena recalls a curious circumstance connected with the downfall of the ancient worship at Rome. The zeal of the Christian populace, as long as the Empire lasted in the West, was only allowed to vent itself upon the more disreputable deities of foreign origin, such as the Egyptian monsters, against which even the Senate had in earlier times waged vigorous war; and against other religions introduced from barbarian regions, like Mithras and his host destroyed by the onslaught of Gracchus, so highly lauded by the irascible abbot of Bethlehem. The ancient deities of Italian origin appear to have remained unmolested as long as the Empire endured. The temples were indeed closed to worshippers, and their revenues sequestrated, but the buildings and statues remained as decorations to the city. On the other hand, the figures symbolizing abstract ideas, such as Victory and Fortune, had still a certain degree of respect paid to them. The melting down by Palladius of the gold statue of Virtus, in order to buy off the threatened attack of Alaric, was even regarded as an unpardonable offence, and a sure omen of future ruin, by the almost wholly Christian population of Rome. The figures of the goddess Roma and of Victory appear some centuries later on the coins of the most orthodox and fanatical Byzantine emperors. Even in the reign of Constantius, a persecuting bigot, we read of the Consul sacrificing in the temple of Castor and Pollux at Ostia, when contrary winds locked up the corn-fleet in the harbours of Africa, and threatened the city with famine. But on other occasions also, the new converts, when reduced to despair, had recourse to the expedients of the ancient faith, sanctified by so many centuries of uninterrupted victory. Thus during the last siege by Alaric, when all hopes of defence had failed, on a rumour that the citizens of Nepi had repulsed the Gotluc besiegers by means of a thunderstorm raised by the rites of some Etruscan Haruspices, the Senate was anxious to try the effect of the same invocations, and had even obtained the consent of the Bishop Innocentius to such a scandalous proceeding. He, as Zosimus observes, was ready to sacrifice his creed to his country; but when the Etruscan priests, rejoicing no doubt in his confusion, insisted on the proceedings being conducted publicly, and in the Forum itself, his pride of office came to the aid of his faith, and he allowed the business to go no farther. As an illustration of the preceding remarks a brief notice will not be out of place of the numerous figures of Koma (often cut on plasma), as well as of Victories and Eagles, usually mere scratches, and so rude as to be hardly recognisable, even when engraved on fine gems, and which may safely be attributed to the very last ages of Eoman power. These rude intagli will often be found set in massive gold rings (in fact, as a rule, the more valuable intrinsically the setting, the less so is the gem as a work of art), evidently the ornaments of the wealthiest classes of the time, and who, had anything better, in point of execution, been then obtainable, would certainly have procured it to adorn such costly decorations. From the circumstance that only such miserable attempts at engravings were then to be procured by the most liberal patrons, we may conclude how nearly the art had declined towards the period of its total extinction.
I have already noticed the rarity of imperial portraits in intaglio after the time of Caracalla. Even the miscellaneous Herz Collection (the sole object of which was to assemble the greatest possible variety of subjects, irrespective of material or of beauty) contained none of later date than the family of Severus. The Mertens-Schaafhausen Cabinet, so rich in portraits, affords however a highly interesting and unique design, the heads of Diocletian and Maximian, combined in the character of Janus, an apt allusion to their pacific rule. The same observation applies still more forcibly to cameo portraits, winch, though abundant enough and of excellent style, of the time of Hadrian and his successor, entirely disappear in the next century with Severus, of whom some are extant, of considerable merit and in splendid stones. In fact, the only genuine cameo bust I have seen of a later date was one of Macrinus, and that of very inferior execution.4 The above-named collection possesses, indeed, a head of Valentinian, on a slab of Porphyry 4 inches by 3 in dimensions; but this, both from its size and material, must rather be designated a bas-relief than a cameo. Cariiei, however, reappear at a late period of the Byzantine empire, worked out in the same stiff and barbarous style as the religious subjects of the same date; and, like these, often disfigure and deface slabs of Sardonyx of extraordinary size and beauty.
J A cameo of considerable size, crown; the whole worked out in flat
said to have been found at Xanten relief, like the medallions of the time,
on the Rhine, and apparently an- in an inferior single-coloured Onyx:
tique, presents a laureated bust of a most important monument of the
Constantine, enclosed in a civic expiring art.
KEMAEKABLE SIGNETS OF ANTIQUITY.
"Graved on the gem the god of Love I see,
Marcits Argentarios, Antlid. ix. 221.
Next to the celebrated Emerald signet of Polycrates, the most famous is probably the Agate of King Pyrrhus, which is said to have been so marked naturally as to represent Apollo holding the lyre and surrounded by the nine Muses, each with her appropriate attribute. The natural veins and shadings of the stone must have been very much assisted either by art or by the very lively imagination of the beholder, to have drawn so complicated a design upon the small surface of a ringstone; although Agates do occur at the present day marked