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184. The villas of the Romans at this period were of considerable extent; the statues of Greece had been acquired for their decoration, and every luxury in the way of decoration that the age could afford had been poured into them from the plentiful supply that Greek art afforded. To such an extreme was carried the determination to possess every thing that talent could supply, that we find Cicero was in the habit of employing two architects, Chrysippus and Cluatius (ad Atticum, lib. iii. epist. 29, and lib. xii. epist. 18.); the first certainly, the last probably a Greek. Their extent would scarcely be credited but for the corroboration we have of it in some of their ruins.
185. Until the time of Pompey no permanent theatre existed in Rome: the ancient discipline requiring that the theatre should continue no longer than the shows lasted. The most splendid temporary theatre was that of M. AEmilius Scaurus, who, when aedile, erected one capable of containing 80,000 persons, which was decorated, from all accounts, with singular magnificence and at an amazing cost. History (Plin. xxxvi. 15.) records an extraordinary instance of mechanical skill, in the theatre erected by Curio, one of Caesar's partisans, at the funeral exhibition in honour of his father. Two large theatres of timber were constructed back to back, and on one side so connected with hinges and machinery for the purpose that when the theatrical exhibitions had closed they were wheeled or slung round so as to form an amphitheatre, wherein, in the afternoon, shows of gladiators were given. Returning, however, to the theatre erected by Pompey, which, to avoid the animadversion of the censors, he dedicated as a temple to Venus: the plan (Pliny, vii. 3.) was taken from that at Mitylene, but so enlarged as to be capable of containing 40,000 persons. Round it was a portico for shelter in case of bad weather: a curia or senate house was attached to it with a basilica or hall for the administration of justice. The statues of male and female persons celebrated for their lives and characters were selected and placed in it by Atticus, for his attention to which Cicero (Epist, ad Attic. iv. 9.) was commissioned by Pompey to convey his thanks. The temple of Venus, which was attached to avoid the breach of the laws committed, was so contrived that the seats of the theatre served as steps to the temple; a contrivance which also served to escape the reproach of encountering so vast an expense for mere luxury, for the temple was so placed that those who visited the theatre might seem at the same time to come for the purpose of worshipping the goddess. At the solemnity of its dedication the people were entertained with the most magnificent shows that had ever been exhibited in Rome. We cannot prolong the account of this edifice by detailing them,-indeed that would be foreign to our purpose; but we may add, that such a building presents to us a genuine idea of the vast grandeur and wealth of those principal subjects of Rome, who from their own private revenues could rear such magnificent buildings, and provide for the entertainment of the people shows to which all the quarters of the globe contributed, and which no monarch now on earth could afford to exhibit. This theatre was finished about 54 B. c.
186. In the year 45 p.c. Rome witnessed a triumph not less extraordinary than that we have just recorded, – that of Julius Caesar on his return from Utica. From the commencement of the civil war that had raged he had found no leisure for celebrating the triumphs which induced the people to create him dictator for ten years, and to place his statue in the Capitol opposite to that of Jupiter, with the globe of the earth under his feet, and the inscription “To Caesar the Demi-God.” We need scarcely remind our readers that his first triumph was over the Gauls; that this was followed by that over Ptolemy and Egypt; the third over Pharnaces and Pontus; and the fourth over Juba. The triumph recorded these appropriately; but we leave that—merely observing, by the way, that the fruit of his victories amounted to 65,000 talents and 2822 crowns of gold, weighing together 20,414 Roman pounds, –to state that on this occasion the Circus was enlarged, a lake sunk for the exhibition of Egyptian and Tyrian galleys, and that in the same year he dedicated a temple to Venus Genetrix, and opened his new forum. Warriors are not often inclined to call in the aid of the arts, except for commemorating their own actions. Not so with Caesar. In the year 44 a.c., after his triumph over the sons of Pompey, we once more find him engaged in the arts of peace. A temple to Clemency was erected by him, in which his statue was placed near to that of the goddess, and joining hands with her. In the next year he laid the foundations of what at the time were considered two magnificent edifices for the ornament of the city: a temple to Venus, which for grandeur it is supposed would have surpassed every example of that kind in the world; and a theatre of very gigantic dimensions, —both which were afterwards completed by Augustus. But the projects he conceived were only equalled by those of Alexander. He began the rebuilding and repair of many towns in Italy; the drainage of the Pontine marshes, the malaria of which is the curse of Rome to the present day the formation of a new bed for the Tiber from Rome to the sea, for the purpose of improving the navigation of that river; the formation of a port at Ostia for the reception of first-rate ships; a causeway over the Apennines from the Adriatic to Rome; the rebuilding of Corinth and Carthage, whither colonies had been sent by him, a scheme afterwards perfected by Augustus; a canal through the Isthmus of Corinth to avoid the navigation round the Peloponnesus; and lastly, the formation of an exact geographical map of the Roman empire, with the roads marked thereon, and the distances of the towns from each other. Such was Caesar, whom to eulogise would be impertinent. 187. Augustus deprived the Romans of their liberty, and in return for the deprivation consoled them with all the gratification the arts could supply. The victorious Romans had known little of the arts in their highest state of refinement, and the degraded Greeks were constrained to neglect them. They were in a state of barrenness during a portion of the last age of the Roman republic; nor did they exhibit any signs of fruitfulness until Caesar had established the empire on the ruins of the expiring republic, and his successor, giving peace to the universe, closed the temple of Janus, and opened that of the arts. By him skilful artists, pupils of the great masters, were invited from Greece, where, though languishing, they were yet silently working without fame or encouragement. Some who had been led into slavery, like Rachel of old, carried their gods with them — the gods of the arts. Encouraged by the rising taste of their masters, they now began to develop the powers they possessed, and their productions became necessary to the gratification of the people. Thus it was that our art, among the others, born and reared in Greece, made Italy its adopted country, and there shone with undiminished splendour, though perhaps less happy and less durable. Though the exotic might have lost some beauties in the soil to which it was transplanted, the stock possessed such extraordinary vigour that grafts from it still continue to be propagated in every quarter of the globe. 188. The Greek architects who settled in Italy executed works of surprising beauty : they raised up pupils, and founded a school. It must be conceded that it was more an imitative than an original school, wherein it was necessary to engraft Roman taste which was modified by different habits and climate, on Greek art. And here we cannot refrain from an observation or two upon the practice in these days of comparing Greek and Roman architecture. Each was suitable to the nation that used it; the forms of Greek columns, their intercoluminations, the inclination of the pediment, were necessarily changed in a country lying between four and five degrees further north from the equator. But the superficial writers, whose knowledge occasionally appears to instruct the world, never take these matters into their consideration ; and we regret, indeed, to admit that in this country the philosophy of the art is little understood by the public, from the professors being generally too much engaged in its practice to afford them leisure for diffusing the knowledge they possess. 189. The Romans were trained to arms from their cradle; and that they were very averse to the cultivation of the arts by their youth, the passage in the Eneid (b. vi. v. 847.), which has been so often quoted, is a sufficient proof: –
Fxcudent alii spirantia moltius arra
Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento;
190. They were at all times anxious to subjugate for their own purposes those nations that successfully cultivated the arts; a motive which, joined to the desire of aggrandisement, induced them at a very early period to carry their arms against the Etruscans, who were in a far higher state of cultivation than themselves. This was also one motive to their conduct in Sicily and Asia Minor; whence, as well as from Greece, they drew supplies of artists for Rome, instead of employing their own citizens. Though in Rome architecture lost in simplicity, it gained in magnificence. It there took deeper root than the other arts, from its affording, by the dimensions of its monuments, more splendour to the character of so dominating a nation. Its forms are more susceptible of real grandeur than those of the other arts, which are put in juxtaposition with nature herself; and hence they were more in keeping with the politics of the people. The patronage of the fine arts by Augustus has never before or since been equalled. They followed his good fortune, they dwelt in the palace, and sat on the throne with him. . His boast was not a vain one, when he asserted that he found his capital built of brick and left it of marble. By him was reared in the capital in question the temple and forum of Mars the Avenger; the temple of Jupiter Tonans, on the Capitol; that of Apollo Palatine, with public libraries; the portico and basilica of Caius and Lucius; the porticoes of Livia and Octavia; and the theatre of Marcellus. “The example,” says Gibbon, “of the sovereign was imitated by his ministers . generals; and his friend Agrippa left behind him the immortal monument of the Pantheon.”
191. Under Tiberius and Caligula architecture seems to have been in a state of languor, nor do we know of any thing in the reign of Claudius the fifth Caesar, save the completion of one of the finest aqueducts of Rome, that of Aqua Claudia, whose length is 46 m., in more than ten whereof the water passes over arches raised more than 100 ft. from the surface of the ground. Nero's reign, though his taste bordered more on show than intrinsic beauty, was on the whole favourable to architecture. Much could not be expected of a man who covered with gilding a statue of Alexander, and decapitated fine statues for the purpose of substituting his own head for that of the original. The colossal statues of himself which he caused to be sculptured indicate a mind prone to vice and excess. The same taste for exaggeration was carried into his buildings. His prodigality in every way was inexhaustible; he seems rather to have left monuments of expenditure than of taste. A palace, which from its extraordinary richness has been called the Domus Aurea, was erected for him by his architects Severus and Celer, than which nothing could be more brilliant nor gorgeous; beyond it no pomp of decoration could be conceived. In the midst of so much wealth the only object of contempt was its possessor. The reader may form some notion of it when told (Plin. lib. xxxvi.) that in finishing a part of it Otho laid out a sum equivalent to near 404,000l. sterling.
192. Galba, Otho, and Vitellius can scarcely be said to have reigned. It was reserved for Vespasian and his son Titus, the tenth and eleventh Caesars, to astonish the city, and indeed the world, by such masses of building in amphitheatres and baths as we may predict it will never again see reared. The Coliseum (fig. 110.), so named, according to some, from its gigantic dimensions, but according to others, with more probability, from its proximity to a colossal statue of Nero, was commenced by the father, and finished by the son. According to Justus Lipsius, the seats would hold 87,000 persons; to this number Fontana adds 10,000, which the upper porticoes would contain, and 12,000 more in other parts; making a total of 109,000 spectators who could view at their ease the sports and combats in the arena. We do not think there is much, if any, exaggeration in Fontana's statement, seeing that the building covers nearly six English acres of ground. The reader will from the above description identify the structure mentioned by Martial : —
Fig. 110. trir colliseum.
“Biennio post ac menses novem amphitheatri perfecto opere,” is the expression of Victor in respect to the time employed in its construction: , Though the monument itself be astonishing, still more so is it that such a mass should have taken only two years and nine months in building, even with all the means that the emperors had under their power. We shall reserve a more particular description of it for a subsequent page. In spite of the ravages of time, and the hands, ancient and modern, which have despoiled it for its materials, enough still remains completely to exhibit the original plan, and to enable the spectator to form a perfect idea of the immense mass. The Baths of Titus were another of the wonders of the age. The remains of them are not so perfect as others, but they are still majestic. Besides the edifices erected by Vespasian and his son, they made it a part of their duty to take measures for the preservation of those which existed, and were in need of repair and restoration. 193. The last Caesar, Domitian, was of a disposition too wicked to be of service to his country: his reign was, fortunately for it, but short. In the year 98, on the death of Nerva, trajan became master of the empire. He had served against the Jews under Vespasian and Titus, and probably acquired from them and their example a great. taste for architecture, in which he shed a lustre upon the country as great as his splendid victories over the Persians and Dacians gained for it in the field. Of his works, which, as Gibbon says, bear the stamp of his genius, his bridge over the Danube must have been a surprising effort. According to Dio Cassius, this bridge was constructed with twenty stone piers in the river, 150 ft. high and 60 feet wide, bearing arches of 170 ft. span. It was destroyed by Hadrian, his successor: some say out of envy; but the plea was, that it served the barbarians as an inlet to the empire, as much as it facilitated the passage of its troops to keep them in subjection. His triumphal arches, his column (fig. 111.), and forum, and other works, attest the vigour and beauty of the art under the reign of Trajan. The forum was a quadrangle surrounded by a lofty portico, into which the entrance was through four triumphal arches, and in the centre was the column. Apollodorus was his principal architect, by whom was erected the column above mentioned, which was not only the chef-d'oeuvre of the age, but has never been surpassed. It is 110 ft. high, thus marking the height of the hill that had been cut away to receive the forum. “The public monuments with which Hadrian
adorned every province of the empire were executed not only by his orders, but under his immediate inspection. He was himself an artist; and he loved the arts, as they conduced to the glory of the monarch. They were encouraged by the Antonines, as they contributed to the happiness of the people. But if they were the first, they were not the only architects of their dominions. Their example was universally imitated by their principal subjects, who were not afraid of declaring to the world that they had spirit to conceive and wealth to accomplish the noblest undertakings. Scarcely had the proud structure of the Coliseum been dedicated at Rome, before edifices of a smaller scale indeed, but of the same design and materials, were erected for the use and at the expense of the cities of Capua and Verona. The inscription of the stupendous bridge at Alcantara attests that it was thrown over the Tagus by the contribution of a few Lusitanian communities. When Pliny was entrusted with the government of Bithynia and Pontus, provinces by no means the richest or most considerable of the empire, he found the cities within his jurisdiction striving with each other in every useful and ornamental work that might deserve the curiosity of strangers, or the gratitude of their citizens. It was the duty of the proconsul to supply their deficiencies, to direct their taste, and sometimes to moderate their emulation. The opulent senators of Rome and the provinces esteemed it an honour, and almost an obligation, to adorn the splendour of their age and country; and the influence of fashion very frequently supplied the want of taste or generosity. Among a crowd of these private benefactors, we select Herodes Atticus, an Athenian citizen, who lived in the age of the Antonines. Whatever might be the motive of his conduct, his magnificence would have been worthy of the greatest kings.” We make no apology for so long a quotation from the historian of the Decline and Fall, whose expressions are so suitable to our purpose. The family of Herod was highly descended; but his grandfather had suffered by the hands of justice; and Julius Atticus, his father, must have died in poverty, but for the discovery of an immense treasure in an old house, the only piece of his patrimony that remained. By the law this would have been the property
of the emperor, to whom Julius gave immediate information. Nerva the Just, who was then on the throne, refused to accept it, desiring him to keep it and use it. The cautious Athenian hesitatingly replied, that the treasure was too large for a subject, and that he knew not how to use it. The emperor replied, “Abuse it then, for 'tis your own." He seems really to have followed the monarch's bidding, for he expended the greatest part of it in the service of the public. This man's son, Herodes, had acquired the prefecture of the free cities of Asia, among which the town of Troas being ill supplied with water, he obtained from the munificence of Hadrian a sum equivalent to 100,000l. sterling for constructing a new aqueduct. The work on execution amounted to double the estimate; and on the officers of the revenue complaining, Atticus charged himself with the whole of the additional expense. Some considerable ruins still preserve the fame of his taste and munificence. The Stadium which he erected at Athens was 600 ft. in length, entirely of white marble, and capable of recei ing the whole body of the people. To the memory of his wife, Regilla, he dedicated a theatre, in which no wood except cedar was employed. He restored the Odeum to its ancient beauty and magnificence. His boundless liberality was not, however, confined within the city of Athens. “The most splendid ornaments," says Gibbon, “bestowed on the temple of Neptune in the Isthmus, a theatre at Corinth, a stadium at Delphi, a bath at Thermopylae, and an aqueduct at Canusium in Italy, were insufficient to exhaust his treasures. The people of Epirus, Thessaly, Euboea, Boeotia, and Peloponnesus experienced his favours, and many inscriptions of the cities of Greece and Asia gratefully style Herodes Atticus their patron and benefactor."
194. Architecture was still practised with success under the Antonines, the successors of Hadrian, among whom Marcus Aurelius was a great patron of the arts. On these history almost instructs us, that the effect of the individual character of the sovereign, and the general and leading circumstances of his reign, are so influential as to enable us from the two last to estimate the prosperity of the first.
195. The rapidity with which after the time of Commodus, that most unworthy son of a worthy father, the emperors succeeded each other, was as unfavourable for the arts as for their country. A little stand was made against their rapid decline, under Septimius Severus, whose triumphal arch still remains as a link in the chain of their decay, and perhaps the first. It is difficult to conceive how in so short a period from the time of Marcus Aurelius, not thirty years, sculpture had so lost ground. In the arch commonly called that of the Goldsmiths, the form and character of good architecture is entirely obliterated. Its profiles are vicious, and its ornaments debased and overcharged.
196. The art was somewhat resuscitated under Alexander Severus, but it was fast following the fate of the empire in the West, and had become almost lifeless under Valerian and his son Gallienus, whose arch is an index to its state in his reign. The number of competitors for the purple, and the incursions of the barbarians, were felt. Aurelian and Probus suspended its total annihilation; but their reigns were unfortunately too short to do it substantial service. The extraordinary structures at Baalbec and Palmyra have been referred, on the authority of a fragment of John of Antioch, surnamed Malala, to the age of Antoninus Pius; but we are inclined to think the style places them a little later than that period. Baalbec, or, as its Syrian meaning imports, the City of Baal, or the Sun, is situate at the north-eastern extremity of the valley of Becat or Beka, near that place
where the two Lebanons unite, about fifty miles to the north-west of Damascus. The first traveller who described it with accuracy was Maundrell, in his Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, in 1697. It has, however, been since visited, as well as Palmyra, by Messrs. Wood and Dawkins, in 1751, and by M. Volney at a later period. The principal building, the temple, is of a rectangular form, and is seated in the centre of the western extremity of a large quadrangular enclosure, two of whose sides were parallel to those of the temple; and parallel to its front was the third. To this was attached an hexagonal court, serving as a vestibule, in front of which was the grand entrance portico. The length of the quadrangle is about 360 ft. and breadth about 350ft. (Seefig. 112.) The temple, marked A, is, in round numbers, 200 ft. in length, and 100 ft. in breadth; it was dipteral, and had ten columns in front and nineteen on the sides. That the reader may form some idea of the style, which was to the last degree debased. and would not justify by any utility the extending this acG