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Trajan in his Forum, as if it were certain that the disputed arch was in his Forum ; and he relates that Clement VIII. displaced one of the giallo-antico columns to adorn the organ of the Lateran-another disputed fact. Less than a hundred years again half-buried the pedestals of the columns, and obliterated in part the useful labour of Clement XII. Pius VII. cleared away the soil in 1805, and surrounded the arch with a wall. Such was its condition when I first saw it, but Leo XII. wisely removed the wall when he uncovered the ancient level of this part of Rome ;* and this arch, with all its incongruities, appears one of the most striking monuments of the Imperial City.
If any one wishes to see what this triumphal arch must have been when first dedicated to Constantine, excepting the heads and hands of the four captive kings, he should look at the 23rd plate of Bellini's great work, VETERES ARCUS AUGUSTORUM, &c., published at Rome in 1690. The restoration seems fairly conjectured.
* The new paving of the Via St. Gregorio in 1835 raised the level a palm, Roma nel anno xxxviii. p. 457.
The Mamertine and Tullian Prisons—The Cloaca Maxima—The
Temple of Piety-The Spada Pompey.
THE MAMERTINE AND TULLIAN PRISONS. THE claims of these dungeons to the highest antiquity are indisputable. A terrific interest is attached to them, for in the upper chamber were imprisoned, and in the underground cell were put to death, many of those whose names recall the most interesting passages of Roman story. Here Manlius was a captive; and those who descend into the lower compartment may be sure that they are in the same dark and loathsome pit where Jugurtha was starved to death; where Lentulus, Cethegus, and the other Catilinarian conspirators were strangled by order of Cicero;* where Sejanus was put to death; and where Simon, the leader of the Jews, was slain at the moment that the chariots of Vespasian and Titus ascended the Triumphal Way to the Temple of the Capitoline Jupiter.
* The description of the Tullianum in Sallust is good at this day, “ Eum muniunt antiquæ parietes atque insuper camera lapideis fornicibus vincta, sed inculta tenebris, odore feda, atque terribilis ejus facies est.”—Catil. cap. 25.
Let any one, just before he descends into these dun. geons, read Plutarch's description of Jugurtha's death, and he will never forget it as long as he lives : “It is “ said,” relates the biographer, “ that when he was led “ before the car of the conqueror he lost his senses. “ After the triumph he was thrown into prison, where, “ whilst they were in haste to strip him, some tore his “ robe off his back, and others, catching eagerly at his “ earrings, pulled off the tips of his ears with them. “ When he was thrown down naked into the dungeon ” [I think I see him struggling through the dreadful hole at this moment], “all wild and confused, he said, “ with a frantic smile, 'Heavens ! how cold is this bath “ of yours.' There struggling for six days with hunger, “ and to the last hour labouring for the preservation “ of life, he came to such an end as his crimes de“ served." *
The upper chamber, 14 feet high, 18 feet wide, and 15 in length, is assuredly one of the cells of the ancient Mamertine prisons, cut out of the rock, as the story goes, by Ancus Martius, and lined with large quadrilateral blocks of peperine or Alban stone, without cement. But the stairs are modern. The descent, by a dreary stair, into the condemned cell below, which was dug out of the rock by Servius Tullius, is also modern, for the criminals, in ancient days, were thrust down into
* Life of Marius.—Plut. Lives, translated by the Langhornes, vol. iii. p. 128.
the Robur Tullianum through a hole just big enough to admit their bodies, which is still open in the floor of the upper dungeon. The lower dungeon itself is 64 feet high, 13 feet long, and 20 broad.* It is lined with rude blocks of peperine, and its shape has been aptly compared to that of a truncated cone. The brick pavement is a work of modern date (1667). The sewer, which is said to communicate with the catacombs and the spring of water, and the impression of St. Peter's face on the wall, must all be referred to the middle ages, which preserved and sanctified the scene of the imprisonment of the Apostles. Divine service is still occasionally performed in both these dungeons.
The inscription on the strip of travertine which is seen on the external facade of the Mamertine Chamber, visible in the Chapel of St. Joseph, gives a most respectable antiquity to the structure.
C. Visius. C. F. RUFINUS. M. COCCEIUS NERVA. EX. S. C. The consulate of Vibius Rufinus and Cocceius Nerva bears the date of 775 U. C.
All the learning on these prisons has been collected and admirably put together by the author of the “Essay on the Forum.'t The rival Abate Fea has been much less successful when treating on the same subject. He
The measurements are from Rome in 1838, but all of them are given differently in Professor Nibby's other work on the Forum.
Foro Romano, pp. 128 to 134.
does not discriminate between the two prisons, nor recognise the fact that the Tullianum was only a condemned cell, and not the ordinary, place of confinement.
But à German antiquary has stultified both the Italians by discovering that “TULLIANUM” is only an ancient word for a building attached to a spring of water or a reservoir; and that, whilst that chamber may have been a bath, the Mamertine Chamber was probably a cooling apartment for the use of the bathers.* When I was in Rome, in 1854, I mentioned this curious conjecture to a Monsignore attached to the Papal Court, who disposed of it as follows: “Ma non è “ vero, perchè la sorgente fu creata miracolosamente “ da San Pietro per battisare il suo custode.”
The peculiar sanctity of these prisons had been recently illustrated by his Holiness himself, who, on the day of the SS. Crocefissi, addressed the clergy, the Senate, and the Roman people from the balcony above the Chapel of St. Joseph, not far from the base of the still remaining suggestum, by the Arch of Severus, from which the Emperors used to address their subjects.
I make no other comment on the Monsignore's
* See the argument in the Bulletino dell'Instituto, No. iii. di Marzo, 1837, p. 29. Sul Carcere Mamertino e sul Tulliáno, by G. P. Forchammer. Forchammer quotes Festus, but Festus only says, after giving the common meaning, “alii Silanos, alii rivos, alii vehementer sanguinis arcuatim fuentes quales sunt Tiburi in Aniene.”—De Verb. Sign., lib. xviii.