Abbildungen der Seite

legend than that which I find in the Pope's own archæologist : “Questo non è luogo di trattare di tale ques“ tione appartenente unicamente a coloro che le “ antichità ecclesiastiche illustrano, e solo mi basta 6 avere indicato ciò che la tradizione vuole.” *

Cloaca MAXIMA. The great drain near the Janus, and the huge triple archway, under which the water is discharged into the Tiber, have, until lately, been reckoned amongst the most authentic, as well as the most ancient of all the Roman remains. Even Niebuhr is so far from detracting from the antiquity of these stupendous works, that he seems to attribute them to a people greatly surpassing in power any of the tribes of Historic Latium, and possessed of every advantage except that of being handed down to posterity. This people, though described as savages by the writers of the Augustan age, left behind them traces of their architectural prowess quite gigantic, when compared with the structures of Imperial Rome; and to them, unfortunate and unknown as they are, ought we, perhaps, to ascribe all the Cyclopean works of Italy. In like manner the vaulted aqueducts of the lake Copais, in Boeotia, were certainly the work of a people prior to the Greeks. Even the Etruscans themselves are but moderns to those who look back into the night of ages to discover the shadowy forms of these aborigines, either in Greece or in Italy; and “under the tufo, on which Herculaneum was built, layers of cultivated soil remain to attest that these lands were ploughed and sown in a period anterior to the first Greek settlement in Campania.” Every man is fated to be credulous about something. Niebuhr is positive that his PELASGI were “one of the greatest nations of ancient Europe, who, in their migrations, spread almost as widely as the ancient Celts." Yet, until these latter days, no people, it seems, have had so much reason to complain of misrepresentation and neglect. The Roman poets “shamefully confounded them with the Greeks,” and the Greek writers, “ owing to an uncritical and ungrammatical treatment of the Etruscan language," mistook them for Tuscans, or, rather, for Etruscans.

* Nibby, Foro Romano, p. 134.

This is the case with Thucydides, for whom, however, the German professor makes the excuse that he “ did this without the remotest intention of displaying learning," and Sophocles also, he had the misfortune to make a similar blunder, but then, as Niebuhr kindly admits, “ no one will expect historical precision from him.” The result is that no one before Niebuhr seems to have done full justice to the Pelasgi, who for aught we know to the contrary, may have been the authors of many of these gigantic works now ascribed to the Etrusci,at any rate the massive style of building is not peculiar to the Etruscans. It prevails in all the monuments of Latium, and it is probable that this celebrated people derived it from the earlier inhabitants of Etruria.*

To these (the earlier inhabitants of Etruria), or to close imitators of them, may be attributed the cell of the Temple at Gabii, and the great walls of the Forum of Augustus (the Arco de' Pantani). To these also, with equal reason, may be assigned the drains of the Cloaca, or to those Pelasgo-Tyrrhenians, by no means to be confounded with the Etruscans, whom the early Greeks believed to be the founders of Rome.t

The more vulgar opinion, however, is that which is founded on the text of Dionysius and Livy : namely that the Cloacæ were originally the work of the two Tarquins, and even Niebuhr himself talks of the stupendous vaults as if they were constructed during the reign of some prince of that name. But Tarquin the younger was not an Etruscan, and his historical adventures are now considered only as “a lay," so I confess myself totally at a loss to make out how much or how little this great sceptical critic believes of this lay, such as we find it in Livy.

* Niebuhr conjectures that the figured vases and bas-reliefs were the work of their bondsmen; their marble statuary and architecture were probably Greek, as some towns, like “ Tarquinj” had Greek artists for instructors. As to their language, Lanzi can find only two words, “avil. vil,” which he interprets“ vixit annos,but not a shadow of analogy shows “ vil” to mean “years."

+ The Etruscans and genuine Tyrrhenians are not the same people, “ although,” as Niebuhr tells us, “ Herodotus in one of his less fortunate hours made or caused the mistake."

I See p. 338 of Hare's Translation of the History.

Another writer, however, not a German, has, more recently than Niebuhr, endeavoured to show that certain mistakes have long prevailed as to the use and character of the great drain near the Velabrum. Mr. Duppa contends that the old Cloacæ were never used for any domestic purposes, such as carrying off foul water and cleansing the streets; and he also asserts that no one of these drains was larger than the rest. I think Mr. Duppa is mistaken. It appears from “ Acilius,” an author quoted by Dionysius of Halicarnassus,* that the drains of the Tarquins were not, as Mr. Duppa translates it, “ dilapidated ” but “neglected,” so that the water could not run through them.t The censors therefore [200 B.C.] contracted, for a thousand talents, to have them cleared and repaired.

Niebuhr believes the Cloacæ, which the censors repaired, to have been of a more modern date than that of the Velabrum, which, says he, never could want" repair, and he thinks that these sewers were then discovered by Ficoroni in 1742; but I repeat that the historian only says that the sewers wanted clearing, which might have been the case however indestructibly they were formed.

[ocr errors]

The Cloacæ seem always to have been put to the same use as any sewer with running water, and though it is very true that Livy, when speaking of Tarquinius Priscus, says, that the purpose of his drains was to clear off the water from the hollows between the hills, yet, when writing of the second Tarquin, he expressly records that he completed a Cloaca Maxima which was to be a receptacle for all the cleansing sewers of the city. “ Cloacamque maximam, receptaculum omnium purgamentorum urbis, sub terram agendam.”

Dionysius describes the works of the last Tarquin as only a completion of those begun by the first Tarquin. How then can any one assert that there is no mention of one drain being bigger than another, nor of any drain constructed for carrying off the filth of the city, when Livy uses the very words—"cloaca maxima,” and “receptaculum omnium purgamentorum urbis ;” and when Dionysius, without using the same words, evidently alludes to the same works as the Latin historian.

But a question, it seems, may be raised whether the present great drain near the Velabrum, and the triple archway on the Tiber, be the Cloaca Maxima so described by Livy, or whether it be only that “ Meatus," which, Pliny tells us, was constructed by Agrippa, and carried off the united waters of the seven streams into the Tiber. The writer above contends that neither Livy nor Dionysius describes the Tarquinian sewer as being arched. By the former there is certainly no mention of the shape or structure of the drains, but the

« ZurückWeiter »