Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

use, except Sepretorum, which, says Nibby, is a proper name, or nonsense.

Having found Mandela, knowing that there was a place called “Licenza,” in the ninth century, which was the same, doubtless, as Digentia, a river, or rather a village which probably stood on the banks of that stream, it was no great audacity in an antiquary to decide that any remains of an ancient villa in the neighbourhood of Mandela and Digentia must belong to the far-famed Sabine Farm. Accordingly, a tesselated pavement, of which the Professor gives a detailed account, was discovered in a chesnut grove, the property of one Orazio Onorati (a happy coincidence), about half a mile from the sources of the Digentia ; and although, as Nibby confesses,“ manchino documenti diretti per riconoscere questo pavimento come appurtenente alla villa Oraziana" (p. 37); yet considering the site thereof-considering also that certain reticulated ruins were discovered close at hand, but were destroyed by “ a great barbarian of a surgeon,” as Nibby calls him, one Valentino de' Angelis, of Licenza—considering the style of the pavement itself, simple and elegant as it is, just suitable to the Augustan age, there is no reason to think that this pavement might not have belonged to the favourite retreat, and have been trodden by the very feet of the great poet.

That the Sabine Villa was somewhere in this secluded region may be safely admitted; but I am quite at a loss to know on what authority Professor Nibby decides at once that Bandusia was a fountain of the Digentia. The editors of Horace do, indeed, call it the Digentian fountain; but, I repeat, there is nothing in the famous Ode, nor in any other of his poems, which makes it certain that Horace meant to immortalize his Sabine rivulet, instead of the real Bandusia of his birthplace.

Unless the Bull of Pope Pasquale be a forgery, there can be no doubt where that fountain was to be found; and I am much pleased to see that Dr. Milman, in spite of the letter in his own beautiful Horace, adheres to the opinion of Chaupy.

CHAPTER XX.

· NEMI—THE ALBAN LAKE AND TUNNEL.

NEMI, that is, the Arician grove, and the Alban hill, come within the tour commonly made by travellers; and a description, in the usual style, will be found in all the common guide-books. No one should omit to visit the two lakes. The tunnel, or emissary, cut nearly two miles through the mountain, from the Alban lake, is the most extraordinary memorial of Roman perseverance to be found in the world. An English miner would be at a loss to account for such a perforation made without shafts. It has served to carry off the redundant water from the time of the Veian war, 398 years before Christ, to this day, nor has received, nor is in want of, repairs.*

DISCOVERY OF ANCIENT TOMBS IN THE ALBAN HILL.

When the traveller has wandered amongst the ruins of villas and tombs, to all of which great names are given,* he may examine the productions of a discovery which has been lately made, and which, if there be no deception, has brought to light a society possessed, apparently, of all the arts of ancient civilization, and existing before the arrival of Æneas in Italya society which was buried in the convulsion that changed the volcano of Albano into a lake.

* All that Livy says of this great work, after mentioning that it had been prescribed by a Tuscan soothsayer and the oracle of Apollo, is, “Jam ex lacu Albano aqua emissa in agros.”—Lib. v. cap. liv. It was completed in a year. It is 33 feet wide, and 6 feet in height.

Doctor Alexander Visconti has enabled us to judge of this prodigious discovery by publishing a memoir on the subject, and the reader may like to see the fact stated plainly, and divested of the solemn whimsical pedantry of the antiquary, and of the legal involution of the attached affidavits. It appears, then, that the Signor Carnevali, a gentleman of Albano, had found, in January, 1817, a considerable quantity of cinerary vases in turning up the ground for a plantation, near the road from Castel Gandolfo to Marino. On the 28th of the same month, one Signor Tomasetti, breaking up a continued mass of peperine which covers the declivity of the hill near the road to Marino, on the ground called Montecucco, when he came to the distance of 571 Roman canes from the spot where Signor Carnevali had discovered his vases, suddenly found several cinerary vases, all of them broken excepting one. These were under the layer of peperine. The two gentlemen above mentioned resolved then to make farther excavations, and, in presence of several respectable witnesses, on the 4th of the following February, broke up another mass of the same peperine, which measured 1591 Roman canes in square surface. They cut downwards through about a palm and a half of common soil, and then lower, to the depth of two palms of peperine, and came to some white cretaceous earth, the layer of which they found to be a palm and a half deep. In this layer they found a terra cotta figured vase, broken in many pieces. The vase was seen in its bed by all the witnesses previously to being taken up. Other similar fragments were discovered as the labour continued, and it was observed that the mass of peperine became much thicker and covered the surface to the depth of four palms. Pieces of a conduit-pipe of some size were also found, and that not in mass, but separated from one another. The fragments of vases produced from this excavation were not of sufficient size to furnish any conjecture as to the form of the vessels ; but from the bottom of one, more entire than the rest, they were thought to have had the shape of a pila, or water-cistern.

* Here you have Pompey's villa, Pompey's tomb, or, if that will not satisfy curiosity, the tomb of the Horatii and Curiatii ; and, in another quarter, the tomb of Ascanius. Some, who are not content with tombs, call them villas. At the bottom of the hill the antiquaries know the very cavern where Milo killed Clodius.

It should be told that, at different periods, four and three years before, other fragments of vases had been found under the peperine ; and that under the same mass of peperine certain stone-cutters had found pieces of iron, appearing to them to be nails. Of these discoveries affidavits were made a little after the period of the present excavation, in March. The Signor Carnevali tells his

VOL. II.

« ZurückWeiter »