Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

white-washed the interior of the vault. The leaden roof, and the three supplied pillars, and other frequent repairs, are to be registered amongst the merits of the Popes; but, judging from the general appearance, we shall nowhere find a more striking example of the neglect of the ancient structures of Rome, than at the Pantheon. Of this the common antiquarian artists are so sensible, that they do not represent the edifice as it is, but as it should be, in an open space, where all its beauties may be beheld and approached.

The piety, if not the taste, of the pontiffs should be interested in the decent preservation of this monument; and if the names of heroes and emperors, if Jove and his gods are of no avail, respect for the founder, Boniface, and twenty-eight cartloads of relics,* the worship

* The twenty-eight cartloads of relics are founded on the authority of an old MS. cited by Baronius in his notes to the Martyrology. Arastasius does not particularise the exact quantity of relics, but only says that Boniface brought many good things into the church. “Eodem tempore petiit a Phocata Principe templum quod appellatur Pantheon. In quo fecit ecclesiam Sanctæ Mariæ semper Virginis et omnium martyrum. In qua ecclesia Princeps multa bona intulit."

De Vitis Roman. Pontif. Script. Rer. Ital., tom. iii. p. 135. The Abate Lazeri defends Boniface for his transport of relics, saying, " and if it is true that which the author of the wonders of Rome tells of the Pantheon, that before it was dedicated, the demons used to attack with blows those who came near it, we may, easily see what motive induced Boniface to transfer thither that great multitude of martyrs in solemn pomp.”Discorso, p. 26. The Abate also is scandalised with Baronius for owning, “ in dedicatione templorum multa fuisse gentilibus cum pietatis cultoribus similia ex Suetonio disces :" and he talks of the libricciuoloof “un tal Coniers Middleton,” p. 33, meaning his “ Letter from Rome.”

of the Virgin and all the saints, should rescue the temple from the contagion of common sewers and market-places. The veneration for a miraculous image, which has lately crowded the Rotonda, has not bettered the condition of the pavement: nor does it help the general effect of the interior prospect to be aware that we see exactly the same idolatry which was practised in the same spot sixteen centuries ago. A philosopher may smile, but a less indifferent spectator is shocked at the inexplicable credulity which stares in the stedfast faces of a hundred worshippers, seated on chairs, for hours, before the image, in the wish, the hope, the certainty of some indication of Omnipotence from the dirty cobweb-covered block which has been preferred into divinity.

The Pantheon has become the shrine not only of the martyred, but of the illustrious in every art and science : but the busts of Raphael, Hannibal Caracci, Pierin del Vaga, Zucchero, and others, to which age has lent her venerable hue, are ill assorted with the many modern contemporary heads of ancient worthies which now glare in all the niches of the Rotonda. The little white Hermæan busts, ranged on ledges, side by side, give to this temple of immortality the air of a sculptor’s study ; and there is something embarrassing in reading so many names under almost every image: that of the portrait of Canova the dedicator, and of the artist. A corner awaits Bodoni, now under the chisel of the modern Cleomenes, who will himself complete the crowded series. The many friends of the most amiable man in existence, and

the admiration of all Europe, would long defer that mournful recompense.*

The inscription on the Pantheon, whose simplicity, if not whose date, belongs to the rise of the monarchy,

[ocr errors]

* Written in 1817. These busts were in 1821, as before mentioned, very properly removed to the Protomoteca in the Capitol ; but some of the sepulchral inscriptions remain, and the tombs of Raphael and Caracci are still amongst the chief modern attractions of the Pantheon.. A marble in the church records the discovery of the bones and ashes of Raffaele after 310 years of ignorance of their real place of interment. The discovery took place on the 14th of September, 1833; and Prince D. Peter Odescalchi published an account of it. The remains were exposed for eight days to the gaze of the people, and the Marquis Louis Biondi wrote an ode for the occasion. The head was found with the rest of the bones, so that the skull exhibited so long for that of Raphael at the S. Luca was an imposture. Raphael's favourite Madonna, the work of Lorenzo Lotti, is still the presiding deity of the Pantheon, and she works miracles from above an altar restored and embellished in pursuance of a bequest of his last will. Professor Nibby says that Raphael was found where he had ordered that he should be buried ; if so, how could there have been that ignorance and that mistake made to which the inscription alludes ?

N.B.-A wretched bit of bas-relief by Thórwaldsen draws attention to the cippus which is the depositary of Consalvi's heart. The portrait of the cardinal is a good likeness, and is the only merit of this insignificant group.—1854.

+ The other inscription, given, as before remarked, so often incorrectly, is thus written :

“ Imp. Cæs. L. Septimius . Severus . Pius . Pertinax . Arabicus . Adiabenicus . Parthicus . Maximus . Pontif. Max. Trib. Potest. X. Imp. XI. Cos. III. P. P. Procos, et — Imp. Cæs. M. Aurelius . Antoninus . Pius . Felix . Aug. Trib. Potest. V. Cos. Procos. Pantheum . Vetustate . corruptum , cum . omni . cultu , restituerunt.”.

It is in two lines, and the second begins with Imp. Cæs. M., Aurelius.

has all the effect produced by one of the greatest names, and by the most powerful title of the ancient world. We may, perhaps, be inclined to think that the words were known anciently not to have been contemporary with the original building: for Aulus Gellius mentions, that a friend of his at Rome wrote to him, asking why he used the phrase me jam tertium scripsisse.” It should seem that the question would not have been asked if the inscription had any authority, or, at least, that Gellius would have cited it as a triumphant quotation, to show that the Augustan scholars had declared in faveur of the adverb of Varro,* although Cicero had been unwilling to decide. t

THE COLISEUM. “Quandiu stabit Colysæus, stabit Roma; quando cadet Colysæus, cadet et Roma; quando cadet Roma, cadet et mundus." These words are quoted by Gibbon

* Noct. Attic. Comment., lib. x. cap. i. p. 130, edit. Ald.

† Pius IX. has removed some of the modern houses that were built against the portico and cella of the Pantheon on the east of the building an exploit which is recorded in a huge inscription.1854.

I Cap. lxxi. tom. xii. oct. p. 419. One of the most picturesque descriptions of the effect of the Coliseum is given by Ammian, who calls it a solid mass of stonework, to whose summit the human eye can scarcely reach. “ Amphitheatri molem solidatam lapidis Tiburtini compage, ad cujus summitatem ægre visio humana conscendit,” lib. xvi. cap. x. p. 145 ; a structure where there was sitting room for 87,000 spectators, besides place for more than 22,000 others, was the first amphitheatre of the kind ever raised, for that of Statilius

as a proof that the Coliseum was entire when seen by the Anglo-Saxon pilgrims at the end of the seventh or the beginning of the eighth century. At the same time, as they extended their admiration to Rome, which was then partially destroyed, it is not impossible that the amphitheatre may have been in some degree dilapidated even in that early period.

The first restoration took place in the reign of Antoninus Pius. The fire which, about the year 219, in the reign of Macrinus, destroyed all the upper wooden works, in which, amongst other conveniences, there were brothels, occasioned the repairs of Heliogabalus and Alexander Severus and Gordian; and the frequency of such restorations may be concluded from the different forms and materials lately discovered in the excavations of the substructures of the area. Mention is made of a fire under Decius. * It was certainly in all its glory in the reign of Probus, and the seven hundred wild beasts, and the six hundred gladiators which he exhibited at once, could not occupy a twelfth part of the arena. The number of wild beasts which might stand together in this arena has been calculated to be ten thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine, t so that it may be no exagge

Taurus is not to be reckoned. Pompey's theatre, “a hollowed mountain," was also the first theatre made of stone. The Romans in both these works rose at once to perfection—the effect was instantly discovered to be insurpassable.

* In the Eusebian Chronicle. See Maffei. Verona Illustrata. part iv. pp. 36, 37, edit. 1731.

+ By T. B. Nolli. See Delle Memorie Sacre e Profane dell'Anfi

« ZurückWeiter »