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At present it has lost something of its credit, except for the Domenichinos. Nine monks of the Greek order live there, and the adjoining villa is a cardinal's summerhouse. The other villa, called Rufinella, is on the summit of the hill above Frascati, and many rich remains of Tusculum have been found there, besides seventy-two statues of different merit and preservation, and seven busts.
From the same eminence are seen the Sabine hills,
There are several circumstances which tend to establish the identity of this valley with the “ Ustica” of Horace; and it seems possible that the mosaic pavement which the peasants uncover by throwing up the earth of a vineyard, may belong to his villa. Rustica is pronounced short, not according to our stress upon “ Ustico cubantis.” It is more rational to think that we are wrong than that the inhabitants of this secluded valley have changed their tone in this word. The addition of the consonant prefixed is nothing; yet it is necessary to be aware that Rustica may be a modern name which the peasants may have caught from the antiquaries.
The villa, or the mosaic, is in a vineyard on a knoll covered with chesnut trees. A stream runs down the valley, and although it is not true, as said in the guide books, that this stream is called Licenza, yet there is a village on a rock at the head of the valley which is so denominated, and which may have taken its name from the Digentia. Licenza contains 700 inhabitants. On a peak a little way beyond is Civitella, containing 300. On the banks of the Anio, a little before you turn up into Valle Rustica, to the left, about an hour from the villa, is a town called Vico-varo, another favourable coincidence with the Varia of the poet. At the end of the valley, towards the Anio, there is a bare hill, crowned with a little town called Bardela. At the foot of this hill the rivulet of Licenza flows, and is almost absorbed in a wide sandy bed before it reaches the Anio. Nothing can be more fortunate for the lines of the poet, whether in a metaphorical or direct sense:
“Me quotiens reficit gelidus Digentia rivus,
Quem Mandela bibit rugosus frigore pagus."
The stream is clear high up the valley, but before it reaches the hill of Bardela looks green and yellow, like a sulphureous rivulet. Rocca Giovane, a ruined village on the hills, half an hour's walk from the vineyard where the pavement is shown, does seem to be the site of the Fane of Vacuna, and an inscription found there tells that the Temple of the Sabine Victory was repaired by Vespasian.*
With these helps, and a position corresponding exactly to everything which the poet has told us of his retreat, we may feel tolerably secure of our site.*
* IMP. CÆSAR. VESPASIANUS
AUG. PONTIFEX MAXIMUS. TRIB. POTESTATIS, CÆNSOR. ADEM, VICTORIÆ vetusTATE DILAPSAM SUA IMPENSA
This was published incorrectly by Desanctis, Chaupy, and others until 1811, when Fea gave a correct copy (from one taken on the spot by Lorenzo Re) in his edition of Horace.
The hill which should be Lucretilis is called Campanile, and by following up the rivulet to the pretended Bandusia, you come to the roots of the higher mountain Gennaro. Singularly enough the only spot of ploughed land in the whole valley is on the knoll where this Bandusia rises,
“.... tu frigus amabile
Præbes, et pecori vago.” The peasants show another spring near the mosaic pavement, which they call “ Oradina,” and which flows down the hills into a tank, or mill dam, and thence trickles over into the Digentia. But we must not hope
“ To trace the Muses upwards to their spring,” by exploring the windings of the romantic valley in search of the Bandusian fountain. It seems strange that any one should have thought Bandusia a fountain of the Di. gentia–Horace has not let drop a word of it; and this immortal spring has, in fact, been discovered in possession of the holders of many good things in Italy, the monks. It was attached to the church of St. Gervais and Protais, near Venusia, where it was most likely to be found. .
* The writer of the Letter on Horace's Villa, published in Dr. Milman's Horace, pronounces me to be mistaken in this matter ; but he does not seem to be aware that the name Lucretilis is only a baptism, and a recent application of the old designation to the hill by the owner of the farm.
To be aware of this fact the traveller must lay aside all modern guide books and peruse a French work, called · Discovery of the Country-house of Horace,' by Mr. Chaupy. This will undeceive him as to the Bandusian · fountain, which he is not to look for in the Sabine valley, but on the Lucano-Appulian border, where Horace was born :
The vicissitude which placed a priest on the throne of the Cæsars has ordained that a bull of Pope Paschal the Second should be the decisive document in ascertaining the site of a fountain which inspired an ode of Horace.*
Professor Nibby,t in 1828, wrote an antiquarian journey to the Horatian Villa, to Subiaco, and to Trevi, near the
* Confirmamus siquidem vobis Cænobium ipsum et omnia, quæ ad illud pertinent, monasteria sive cellas cum suis pertinentiis : videlicet Ecclesiam S. Salvatoris cum aliis ecclesiis de Castello Bandusii. The bull is addressed to the Abbot Monasterii Bantini in Apulia Acheruntin, and enumerating the churches, goes on, Ecclesiam sanctorum martyrum Gervasii et Protasii in Bandusino fonte apud Venusiam. The date of the bull is May 22, 1103.—See Bullarium Romanum, Paschalis, P. P. secundus, num. xvii. tom. ii. p. 123, edit. Roma, 1739.
† Professor Nibby's honours were given in the title-page of this work on the Villa of Horace. They are as follows :-" Professore di Archæologia nell' Archiginnasio Romano ; Membro del Collegio Filologico della stessa Università, e della Commissione Consultativa di Antichità e Belle Arti ; Scrittore interprete di Lingua Greca nelle Biblioteca Vaticana ; Censore e Socio dell' Academia Romana di Archæologia ; Socio dell' Academia delle Belle Arti di S. Luca ; dell' Academia reale Ercolanense di Napoli; delle Scienze di Monaco dell'Istituto reale di Francia.”
sources of the Anio. In order to fix the site of the villa, he tells us that Cluverius found the Horatian Varia in Vico Varo, and Luca Holstenius, Vacuna in Bocca Giovane. This last discovery determined the site of the Horatian abode.* But notwithstanding this, and although Fabretti and others followed Holstenius, yet Kircher, Piazza, and Volpi were unconvinced until the Valerian tombstone settled for ever the disputed question.
This tombstone was found by the monks of S. Cosimato, in 1757, a mile from Vico Varo, on the Valerian Way, and was immediately converted into a coping-stone for the altar of the said monastery. Desanctis published it first in his · Dissertation on the Villa of Horatius Flaccus,' in 1767; but he transcribed it incorrectly. Chaupy had it taken up, and gave an authentic copy of it in his “Dé couverte de la Maison d'Horace, of the same year. Nibby, however, did not think his explanation of it happy. This is the inscription :
VAL, MAXIMA. MATER
DULCISSIMA , FILIA .
Deluna . SEPRETORUM
The important word Mandela is clear enough. The other corrections are made without much difficulty or much
* See Adnot. in Cluver. p. 106.