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predecessors' bones to this unusual and conspicuous position.
The forum of Trajan served, amongst other purposes, to perpetuate the memory of the good and great, or of such as, in those declining ages, could pretend to that distinction. But, lest there should be any want of subjects, young men of great promise, who had died in the flower of their age, were honoured with a statue.* We know that Marcus Aurelius erected statues in this Forum to some of those who fell in the German war, and that Alexander Severus transferred thither those of other celebrated personages from other sites; amongst them was one of Augustus, ex electro, and another of Nicomedes, in ivory. The same place was devoted to the labours and the rewards of literary heroes: here the poets and others recited their compositions, perhaps in the Ulpian library, whose treasures were transferred by Diocletian to his own Thermæ; and here their images were allowed a place amongst conquerors and monarchs. The prefect Aurelius Symmachus, whom his contemporaries thought superior to Tully, Claudian and Aurelius Victor, were, we may suspect, the most worthy ornaments of the Forum. But the honours of the statue were conferred on inferior personages: Sidonius Apolli
* Plin. lib. ii. epist. vii.
+ Euseb. in Chronic. Lamprid. in vit. Sever. Nardini, lib. v. cap. ix.
cui cedat et ipse Tullius.
naris, * Marius Victorinus, the schoolmaster, Proæresius, the king of eloquence, we know were there,† and these may have been associated with the meaner names of Minervius, Sedatus, and Palladius, with Ælius Donatus, with Nonius Marcellus of Tivoli, Sextus Pompeius Festus, Servius the commentator, Prætextatus the friend of Macrobius, and that more valuable writer himself. There also may have been seen, Eutropius, the lost historians Flavius Dexter, and Nicomachus Flavianus,f the almost unknown Optatian, and Perphinius. Even in the Gothic reigns, the custom of raising statues, at least to princes, appears to have prevailed. Mention is made by Procopius of statues of Theodoric, and Theodatus, and Justinian, and it is probable these might have been in the Forum of Trajan. The sight of this Forum would furnish a singular supplement to ancient history, and rescue from oblivion many who were as much the delight and admiration of their contemporaries as Cicero or Virgil.
; * Carmina, 7 and 8. it “ Regina rerum Roma Regi Eloquentiæ.” So the inscription ran. Eunap. in vit. Sophist. 1, 8.
I Cecina Decius and Albinus, the regionaries, the authors of the Tables of Peutinger and the Antonine Itineraries, and other writers, have been enumerated by the industry of Fabricius, Bib. Lat.
§ De Bello Gothico, lib. i. cap. 24. Here Procopius names the Forum as the place where the miraculous mosaic image of Theodoric was raised, and fell to pieces gradually with the Gothic kingdom; the head with Theodoric, the belly with Theodatus, and the lower parts with Amalasuntha; but in lib. iii. cap. xx. other statues are mentioned.
Fragments of statues and pedestals were dug up in the great excavation, but only five inscriptions, of which four were copies of each other and in honour of Trajan, * were discovered by the labourers. The first of these, however, confirms the above remark, and has for the first time introduced to the modern world Flavius Merobaudes, f
* Senatus, Populusque Romanus
Imp. Cæsari. Divi
Merito. Domi Forisque.
Laudanda quam aliorum facta laudare præcipuo
Dedicata III. Cal. Aug. Conss. DD NN.
a person whose merits were of the most exalted description, and, so they thought in the days of Theodosius ånd Valentinian, comparable to the most extraordinary characters of antiquity.
It may have been seen from former remarks, that at an early period, which cannot exactly be fixed, the Forum of Trajan, the noblest structure of all Rome, had partaken of the general desolation.* From the moment we find a church there, we may be sure the destruction had begun. This was as early as the beginning of the twelfth century, and as that church was probably built, not on the ancient flooring, the soil had already buried the ground plan of the Forum. The three churches, and the three towers raised by Boniface VIII., as well as the two hundred houses which were levelled with the ground by Paul III. in 1536, were on the modern level, and as their date must have gone back to the foundation of the churches, we may fairly pronounce that long previously to the twelfth century the base of the Quirinal had begun to assume its ancient form ere it had been cleared away by the subjects of Trajan.t
* The bronze roof of the Basilica, the wonder of Pausanias, must have tempted the spoiler.
of To this Forum late writers have attached the brick semicircular structure wantonly called the Baths of Paulus Æmilius. Those remains stand apparently on a level gained by the cutting down of the Quirinal; but the excavations which discovered the lower range of porticces faced with travertine, and evidently meant to be occasionally shut up, for the grooves of doors are seen, have done nothing towards deciding on the true character of the ancient building.
Paul III. opened the base of the column,* and in the time of Flaminius Vacca an arch was dug from underground, perhaps in the pontificate of the same pope, and the flooring of the Forum was discovered, but immediately shut up again.f The French excavation enables us at last to tread the floor of ancient Rome. The replacing the fragments of the columns on their bases, and the judicious arrangement of the other marbles, has created an effect little inferior to the wonders of Pompej. The stranger must be much struck with the massive Greek dimensions of the fragments, when compared with the space in which so many buildings were raised. Here we have a forum with its porticoes, and statues, and tribunals; a basilica, with a double in
* See previous notice of the Forum.
I Of all the exploits of the French administration, the clearing the Forum and Column of Trajan was the most important and successful, and would have been still more so if the churches of “ Our Lady of Loretto” and the “ Name of Mary” could have been removed, so that the column might be in the middle of the Forum. That this would have been accomplished, if the authorities had not been deterred by prudential considerations, we know by Count Tournon's interesting volumes (vol. ii. p. 275).
$ The giant texture of the Forum, the work of Apollodorus, struck Constantius dumb with astonishment. “Verum cum ad Trajani forum venisset singularem sub omni cælo structuram, ut opinor etiam numinum assentione mirabilem, hærebat attonitus, per giganteos contextus circumferens mentem nec relatu effabiles, nec rursus mortalibus appetendos.” — Amm. Marcel., lib. xvi. cap. x. p. 145. Cassiodorus calls it a miracle. It was doubtless altogether the most extraordinary object in Rome. “Trajani forum vel sub assiduitate videre miraculum est.”—Lib, vii. p. 113, edit. 1679.