« ZurückWeiter »
of the Nile. Such did Julius Cæsar appear to his contemporaries and to those of the subsequent ages, who were the most inclined to deplore and execrate his fatal genius.
But we must not be so much dazzled with his surpassing glory or with his magnanimous, his amiable qualities, as to forget the decision of his impartial countryman:
HE WAS JUSTLY SLAIN.*
BUSTS AND STATUES.
The head of Julius Cæsar in the Capitoline Museum is not considered authentic; but the head of the statue in the porch of the Conservators' palace is better than the bust in the Museum, and more like the portrait on the small bronze coin of that wonderful man.t Of the several busts and statues of emperors, statesmen, and
* “Prægravant tamen cetera facta dictaque ejus, ut et abusus dominatione, et jure cæsus existimetur,” says Suetonius after a fair estimation of his character, and making use of a phrase which was a formula in Livy's time. “ Melium jure cæsum pronuntiavit, etiam si regni crimine insons fuerit” [lib. iv. cap. 48]; and which was continued in the legal judgments pronounced in justifiable homicides, such as killing housebreakers. See Sueton. in vit. C. J. Cæsar. with the commentary of Pitiscus, p. 184. Dr. Arnold, however, comes to a very different conclusion; and, certainly, it must be confessed that the Romans gained nothing by the death of Cæsar. The Emperor Louis Napoleon was right in saying that (1858).
+ Unico ritratto riconosciuto di quel grande uomo che esiste in Roma.— Itin, di Roma da A. Nibby, p. 136.
philosophers in this Museum, the most interesting are, with a few exceptions, the most authentic. Of M. Aurelius, Titus, and Trajan, there can be no doubt. But the sitting Agrippina is accounted doubtful. The Cicero is not allowed to be the great orator himself, he has not the long neck, an indispensable requisite; but the portrait is that of a very old man, and as the head and shoulders do not belong to each other, the shortness of the neck is not a conclusive objection. Whoever the original was he had many busts taken of him, and the portraits were well known in old Rome.
The Scipio Africanus is admitted to be the real hero. Besides the scar on the skull, the bust has other pretensions to authenticity. It resembles much the Scipio in the Herculanean painting which represents his interview with Sophonisba. His cast of countenance was very well known in the latter days of Rome, for the younger Gordian was reckoned to be a strong likeness of him. In the Pallavicini gallery there is a black Scipio with two scars on his skull.
The Galba has too much hair on his head, unless, like some modern monarchs, that emperor chose to be represented full curled when he was notoriously bald. The soldier who cut off his head, could not find a single lock of hair, but was obliged to put his finger into his mouth in order to carry the head to Otho. The Nerva is a modern bust, and a very good one. The Marcus Brutus is thought to have the projecting lips of the patriot, but is by no means of unquestioned authenticity. The Marius, a statue, is a mere gratuitous baptism. Alexander the Great is not a certainty, his coins are so common that the sculptor who wanted to make a resemblance could scarcely fail, but this bust is not a strong likeness.
Of the Greek busts it is sufficient that many passed for portraits in ancient times, although some are notorious forgeries. The Plato is a bearded Bacchus. The Homers are all copies of the same traditional portrait. The Pindar is a Sophocles, or the Sophocles is a Pindar, for they are both the same. Some of the statues still preserve the name once given to them, although now understood to be incorrect. The Philosopher having been once called Zeno still retains that name. The Mercury, also, is still called Antinous. The Venus and Mars, probably portraits, are Vetturia and Coriolanus. According to the former fashion of giving Roman names to Grecian groups, the so-called Faun of Praxiteles, the Cupid either of Myron or Praxiteles, so often copied, the Boy and the Goose, the Boy and the Mask, both inentioned by Pliny; the two statues of Amazons,—all of these, beautiful as they are, are but copies from the bronze originals.
THE CAPITOLINE MUSEUMS.
The Amazons were in the vestibule of the Temple of Ephesus. The real Greek Amazons were never represented with only one breast, a fable for which, I
believe, no higher authority can be quoted than that of Justin.*
The reliefs on the sarcophagi generally represent the same set of subjects as appear to have been favourites with the ancients, and to have been ready made for any purchaser: such as the “Boar Hunt,” Diana and Endymion, the Battle of the Amazons. One of these in the Sala del Fauno, is evidently the copy of some excellent original; nothing can be more striking or correct than the design, especially of the captives on the rim of the cover, but the workmanship is of very inferior quality.
In this Museum, as at the Vatican, everything is ancient. The statues are raised on pedestals which are, themselves, sepulchral cippi, or inscribed marbles. The Antinous stands on a stone which contained the ashes of a freed woman in the family of Tiberius Cæsar, whose beauty and accomplishments are extolled in a long epitaph not altogether worthy of the Augustan age; the name was Claudia Homonæa. The stone on which the Faun stands contains an inscription to a certain Petronius: Nobilitatis culmini—Litterarum et eloquentiae fulmini—Auctoritatis Exemplo-Provisionum et dispositionum magistro-Humanitatis–Devotionis, &c. This prodigy was Proconsul of Africa in the reign of Valens ; whose bust in another room is worthy of the style of
* But the Amazons checked the growth of the right breast. See Grote's Hist. of Greece, chap. xi. p. 292, note.
the panegyric; compare it with the inscription on Scipio Barbatus, or Scipio Asiaticus: “HE SUBDUED KING ANTIOCHUS." It may be remarked that, besides other tokens of barbarism, the Petronian eulogy gives us something like the jingle of rhyme.
The antiquities of the Conservators' palace if they were all authentic, would be the most interesting of Roman remains. The Fasti Consulares have, since my first visit, received some small additions, and a large record of the merit of Pius VII. in placing them there. In one of the fragments Mark Antony is called Triumvir. The imperial fragments were found at the Sapienza. But many of the names given to the marbles and bronzes in this quarter of the Capitol are more than questionable. The Duillian column is modern, and the fragments of inscriptions on it are copies ; the colossal bronze fragments, said to belong to a statue of Commodus, are not certainly his. The Geese called the saviours of the Capitol may be ancient, but they look like ducks. The Boy extracting the thorn is not what it is called, the Shepherd Martius ; the bronze Junius Brutus is a baptism; the Cæsar is a forgery; so are the Appius Claudius, the Mithridates, the Ariadne, the Sappho, the Virgil, the Cicero, and the Poppæa. No such uncertainty attaches to the collection of modern worthies in the Protomoteca, many of them removed from the Pantheon; but most of the recent busts were supplied by the munificence of Canova.
The name PROTOMOTECA, and the regulations under