Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ITA L Y.

REMARKS MADE IN SEVERAL VISITS

FROM THE YEAR 1816 TO 1854.

CHAPTER XII.

THE CAPITOL.

RUIN and restoration have entirely effaced every vestige of the domicil of all the gods. The greatest uncertainty hangs over this hill. On which side stood the citadel, on which the great temple of the Capitol—and did the temple stand in the citadel P* Read everything that has been written on the topography of a spot four hundred yards in length, and two hundred in breadth, and you will know nothing. Four temples, fifteen chapels (ædes), three altars, the great rock, a fortress, a library, an-athenæum, an area covered with statues, the enrolment office, all these are to be arranged in the above space : and of these the last only can be with precision assigned to the double row of vaults corroded with salt, where the inscription of Catulus was dis

* Nardini, lib. v. cap. xiv. Donatus and he are at issue. The division of Rycquius into Arx, Capitolium, and Saxum, does not make his book a bit more clear.

VOL. II.

covered. The Athenæum, perhaps, may have been where the prisons and senator's palace now stand. The Tarpeian rock is divided, by the beggars who inhabit the cottages, between the two angles towards the Tiber; the highest is that called Monte Caprino,* behind the gallery of the Conservators'. palace; the most abrupt is the corner at the other end of the same Conservators' palace. Which of these two is the actual precipice whence the traitors were thrown, has not been yet resolved. The citadel may be believed to have extended along the whole side of the hill.f

The great capitoline temple was placed by Nardini on the Aracoeli; but doubts have again shaken this presumption, and the Feretrian Jupiter has put in his claim to that elevation. An earlier topographer men

* But, in order to judge of the pretensions of this angle, you must walk up a lane from the Via del Tor de' Specchi, which is called “ Via del Rupe Tarpejo," until you come close under the hill, and see the only naked rock observable on the whole mount: a sketch of it is given in Dr. Smith's Dictionary (p. 771). If the ground were cleared away to the ancient level, the rock would be high enough for the old Tarpejan executions ; nevertheless, the writer of the article in the Dictionary decides in favour of the other angle, now called popularly the Roccha Tarpeja, overlooking the Janus towards the Tiber. It is very distinctly seen from the Farnese gardens on the Palatine, just above the church of Sta. Maria della Consolazione. Nibby has no doubts on this point; and I confess I think Mr. Dyer's arguments in favour of this view unanswerable.

f Indeed, some of the large stones which served for the bulwarks of the hill on the side of the Monte Caprino were discovered in the time of Vacca, when the whole hill was called the Tarpejan Mount, as we may infer from an inscription of Pope Alexander's time in the church of St. Joseph above the prison.

tions a church of St. Salvator in Maximis, looking* towards the west, as occupying the site of the temple, and such a title, if existing now, might aid us in our .conjectures. But no such church now remains.

The revolutions of Rome were first felt on this hill. The Sabines, the Gauls, the republicans, the imperialists, the citizens of papal Rome, have all contended for dominion on the same narrow spot. After the repairs of Domitian † it appears that the citadel was lost in a mass of golden-roofed fanes, and the word Capitol seems to have been synonymous with the temple. From that time the triumphs and studies of peace were celebrated and pursued amidst the trophies of victory. Poets were crowned with oaken wreaths,s libraries were collected, schools opened, and professors taught rhetoric, from the reign of Hadrian to that of Theodosius the Younger. It is possible that part of the establishment mentioned in a law published by Valentinian III. and Theodosius II. may refer to Constantinople. There were, however, public schools in the Capitol. Three Latin rhetoricians,

* Fabricius :-" In ea Capitolii parte quæ occasum versus forum Holitorium respicit.”-Descrip. Urb. Roma, cap. ix. That is, on the side exactly contrary to Aracæli.

The gilding alone cost 12,000 talents, above two millions and a half sterling. See note 45 to cap. xvi. Decline and Fall, tom. ii. p. 413, 8vo.

I "Auratum squalet Capitolium.”—Hieron. in loco cit. ap. Note to Stanza lxxx.

§ Decline and Fall, cap. lxx, notes 10, 11, tom. xii. p. 327. || Tiraboschi, Storia della Lett. Ital., tom. ii. lib. iv. p. 387.

five Greek sophists, ten Latin and ten Greek grammarians, formed a respectable university.

The change of religion bedimmed the glory of the Domitian Capitol, but did not destroy the structures, as Winkelmann heedlessly supposed.* The first despoilment is, however, to be attributed to the piety or rapacity of Stilicho. Genseric is the next recorded plunderer; but Theodoric does not appear to have missed the gilding of the doors, or the tiles of the half uncovered roof of the great temple, or the chain of the goddess Rhea. In his time “ the ascent of the High Capitols furnished a sight surpassing all that the human imagination could conceive.”+ How long these wonders were spared is unknown. It is probable that the robbery of the Emperor Constans extended to the ornaments of the capitoline temples; but an antiquary of great note has thought himself able to discover the temple of Jupiter as late as the eighth or ninth century. I

The hill does not reappear for ages, but seems to have been put to its ancient use, if it be true that the antipope, John, was thrown from the Tarpeian rock at the end of

* Storia delle Arti, &c., lib. xii. cap. iii. tom. ii. p. 419, note a. He went solely on the words of Saint Jerome, on which Baronius had observed long before, “Verum non sic quidem concidisse affirmat Capitolini Jovis templum, quod dirutum hoc anno fuerit, sed quod ornamentis tantum modo expoliatum.”—Annal. Eccles. ad an. 389, tom. vi. p. 51, edit. Lucæ. 1740.

† “ Capitolia celsa conscendere hoc est humana ingenia superata vidisse.”—Cassiod. Form. comitiv. formar, urbis, lib. vii. p. 113.

I Bianchini : but he gives no reason for his conjecture.

« ZurückWeiter »