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decay that Pope Clement XI. saw it half buried in the soil and almost inaccessible, “ Temporis injuria deformatum semisepultum ac fere inaccessum,” and in 1705 repaired it as it is now seen, so that, whether the site was of old sacred to Vesta or to Romulus, the present edifice has no claims to antiquity.* It appears certain that the round temple on the banks of the Tiber has been improperly ceded to Vesta ; but it is not so generally agreed that Romulus was not worshipped where the church of St. Theodore, called commonly Sto. Toto, now stands. The superstition which still brings sick children to this shrine seems to point out the very spot where the altar of the old founder of the city was visited for the same pious purpose. That the Temple of Vesta was somewhere in this quarter of the Forum, and near this angle of the Palatine Hill, every authority would induce us to believe. Twelve inscriptions relative to the Vestal Virgins are said to have been found in the beginning of the sixteenth century at the church of Sta. Maria Liberatrice, a circumstance that has induced some topographers to place the temple in that position; but the Fasti Consulares, now in the Capitol, were certainly found there, and an equally strong argument has been thence deduced to decide the site of the Comitium.
* Foro Romano, p. 74.
THE THREE CORINTHIAN COLUMNS — TEMPLE OF
The excavations of four-and-thirty years, from 1817 to 1854, have shaken, if not destroyed, some of the certainties of former topographers. The author of the Essay on the Forum was sure that these noble remains belonged either to the Comitium or to the Græcostasis, that is, to an ancient structure rebuilt by Antoninus Pius, and serving for the reception of foreign ambassadors. The Comitium could not be applied to its original use after the popular institutions of Rome had ceased to exist; but as it appears to have served for the place of flagellation for the criminals of the imperial city, I should think that the united buildings could not have been very suitable for diplomatic ceremonies. The Abate Fea could see neither Comitium nor Græcostasis, either single or united, in these columns, which, says he, assuredly belong to the Temple of Castor and Pollux.* The Chevalier Bunsent gave them the name of a Temple of Minerva, having previously assigned them to Castor. The excavations of the Abate have shown that this edifice did not stand, as was formerly believed, upon the declivity of the Palatine ; but that it rose from a magnificent base
* Fea, Descriz. di Roma, vol. ii. p. 274.
ment, probably used as a rostrum, * more than twenty feet in height, and ascended by a flight of steps. The internal work of the structure was of Alban stone, the external coating of marble, of which, and of the other columns (eight in front and thirteen laterally), some large fragments have been disinterred. The last, and, it appears to me, the best, authorityt prefers the opinion of Fea, and by him Castor is restored to his temple.
BASILICA JULIA. The principal discovery of late years has been that of the Basilica Julia, an edifice the site of which was scarcely guessed at when I first visited Rome, and which was recognised in 1835. The flooring of it has been laid bare, and the steps by which it was ascended also discovered, so that it is made apparent that the basement of the Basilica was considerably above the Forum. No additional fragments have been recently found belonging to this building, but, at the end towards the columns of the Temple of Castor, the remains of another very large structure, viz. parts of shafts of columns and architraves, have been disinterred, and were lying about in large fragments when I visited the spot in 1854. No certain name was then assigned to them, but Bunsen had conjectured that they belonged to a building which served as an appendage to the temple of Minerva Chalcidica and the Basilica Julia, originally begun by Julius Cæsar, but finished by Augustus, and repaired by Septimius Severus, and, perhaps, by subsequent emperors.
* Mr. Dyer, Smith's Dictionary. + Smith's Dictionary, p. 784.
The excavations in this quarter of the Campo Vaccino have uncovered the watercourse constructed by Ficoroni in 1742, * as we saw by a date, traced in smoke, on a broken archway of modern work. The water was running through it fast towards the Cloaca Maxima. Descending to this spot in the hole made by the excavators, then at work, and looking upwards towards the Capitol, we were made strikingly aware of the commanding position of the temples under the hill, and saw how high the hill itself must have appeared to those on the ancient level of the Roman Forum.
Between my two visits of 1843 and 1854, there had been a good deal of digging and throwing up of earth in this quarter, but I am not aware that any important discovery had been made.
* An account of Ficoroni's excavation is given in Fea's Miscellanea, art. 80, p. clvii.
CHAPTER X V.
THE ARCO DE PANTANI — TEMPLE OF MARS THE
THE great wall, with the archway called Arco de' Pantani, has always appeared to me one of the most interesting objects in Rome. The zigzag direction of the wall would seem to corroborate the curious story told of Augustus choosing to appear scrupulous about interfering with the private dwellings of the citizens, and twisting the walls of his forum accordingly. The throwing open of the convent of the Annunziata has discovered the pavement of the Forum, and of the temple, which, it may be safely believed, was dedicated to Mars the Avenger. I must add that the enormous height of this wall is not satisfactorily accounted for. Nibby's conjecture,* that it was a part of the Tullian walls of the city, does not seem tenable: but it must be confessed that, in spite of the coincidence above alluded to, it does not appear to belong to the Augustan pericd, nor to be of the same age as the three Corinthian columns assigned to Mars the Avenger.
* See Mura di Roma, p. 37.