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Foreign Correspondence

Foreign Correspondence image
Parent Issue
Day
2
Month
May
Year
1873
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Home, Jan. 23, 1873: tfsifcSi) Sofró: Having giren a somewhat detailed account of the best explored portions of tile Palatinei we will now hastily sketch the few remaining items. The prospect froul the plateau of the hctüse of Tiberias and also that of Vespasian is very fine in the direction of the Aveutino, ovërlookiiig the narrow valley in which once lay the groat Circus Maximus for the races, which is said to have accömmödatéd 2ÜÖ,000 spectators. lts autiquity dates froin the time of the kings, and during the subsequeut ages was extended and döcörated and furnished with seats, and its history furnishes a very accurate description of its forni and limits, but unfortunately its materials have been deemed of more valllB to coustruct the buildings of later times, and thora is uow nothing left for the eye of the stranger ti linger upon except the natural adaptation of the site for such an institution. In order to reach anothef pörtioil of the Falatine we are obliged to desceud somewhat to get around the Villa Mills, as it is called, now a convent, which occupies the central summit on whioh are beautiful palm and cypress troes. And any of the numerous paths along the side of this famoua hill exhiblt to the eye a constant eüccession of orches arches and projecting walls, sübterranean rooms and parts of rooms and passages opening into the gloomy vaults further in, resembling a vast hon- eycotnb, but the outer edge of which only is seen, with the color of the painted walls still apparent and fragments of the mosaic tloors still remaining ; but in general these lower apartments were prubably given up to the occupancy of üervants and retainers. Passing around to the Bast3rly side of the hilli beyond the convent, we are aguin affild ruins of imposiug magnitude and grandeur. The vast foundations of foriner tinles the gratld ï'uins of the Glaudian aqueduct, which reached the Palatino on this side, and the magnificent remains of tho Stadium of Doinitian. The exeavations which hare been made here have been of a limited extent and experimental in character. The earth above the -an eient surface of this private raoe-course of the Biripërdr Is ndt less thari flfteen to twenty feet in depth, and instcad of a complete excavation and removal of all this accmnulation oüly spaces have been cleared at various points; but enough has been done to show the character of tho ruin and its extent. We first.see a large semi-circular basin,' soine thirty feet in diameter, used as a reservoir for watet and possibly a íountain. A few stops further and we stand in front of a vast concave apse liko those of the Basilica of Coiistantine before referred to. - The reraains of former elabórate dooorations are yet visible. The walls of this elabórate structure are probably seventyfiVe feet aboVe the surface, and behind it are the reuiains of wallu still staüdiog of nearly equal magnitude. These are, however, suppoaed to have been of later dato taan the eilrlier Stadium. Below these atid fronting on the open atea of the course the excavations have disolosed thrge spaoiotis apartments, wiTh man y traces of their fine mural paintings and pa-yements of mosaic remainings The Stadium itself Was perhaps SöO feet wide and three titiles that in length, and was entirely enciroled by a colonnade, the bases of which, and some of the broken columns are visible wherever the excavations have reached theini Passing outside this open spaCo we are upon the eastcrn ülope of the Palatine and eastward and potíth B tlave a very eüteiided and interesting landsoape spread bof ore Us. At tilo loft, and -büt a short distance, stands the still eplendid arfh of Constantine, spanning tho Via Appia which runs along this end of the hill as itfl eastern bouödafy. Iiflmediately beyotld tbö arch risos the grand circumferenöe and towering walls of the unriyaled Colosseum - the " noblest Rouian the Appiati Way, aro several arche3 of the A.qua Claudia, and f urther on gliinpses o! this noblo ruin are caugilt hfitë and there as it stretches off toward and across the Cafflpagna in ita match of undeviating grade for farty-six lüilea öVef llill anc dald aiid plain. M ore to tho right is the uld chUieh of tho Lateran, with ita galleries of sainted statues abovo the faeade F-Urther on still is that wondrous pile the Baths of Caracalla; (Jiiite at ollr right is the pyramid of Cestius, bravely iofying tho changos of thno ; at its side is the old Protestant cemetery whei'8 lies the young English poet who wished it to bo inscribed upon his tomb that bis name was "writ in the water;" and on the sinull hill olose bjTj aniid tho (lark oypresses, lies his brother poet Shelley, 01 riithor, his heart only. lteturning now from thigöxtretnity of the hlll aha descending quite beneath its brow (for so abruptly do the ruins jut forth and terniinato above that weio they rocks in stead they -would form a real precipice) the path leads tis in i'rdíit oí a colonnade of perhaps foTty feet in length, of which only ono ancient column ia left the frieze and cornice boing supportcd by the substitution of brick pillars. Continuirig oör walk we peroeiye an ancient altar, about foür feet high, stand ing in a hollow jnado by removing th to expoSe its base. It is of the hard rough rock krrown hero as traertine( anc boars the following Latin inscription Sei Deo séi Veinu sir(ntm) - C. Sextitit, C öolereiiis P. R. de Senati sententia restitu.it from whiflh it has been terised the ''Alta tó' the UnkHowh God." 'Whether the ap pellation is sfrfficiently justifid by th iirsoription i's loft to the reader's intor preiatioa. Just beyond this we come upon upon severa! rods of the anoient wall imputec ö the timé of Kuinulus. It here follows losely against the hill for the most part, ud is constructed of massive blocka of ufa and very solid at this point; but 8$ ome places these blocks of stone had éarly lost thöir coherence and would eadily crumble with any blow úpoíl tiom; At a placo where the wall left a mail spaoe between it and the hill is an rcheó opening into the hillsidei extendng fürther than it Waa agreëable to jrope in the darle. It is about six feet ïigh and perhaps three in width, eviently artificial ihough somewhat rudely oustructed or excavated in the tufa vbich underlies the hill. This has been upposed to be the faulous Lupercal in which the she-wolf took refuge when rivem from the twins Bomulus and Eenius by the shephorda. It inay have beeti .be case, though a natural grotto with its djoiniug cavern would have admitted of readier concurrence of belief. Some re so incredulous as to distrust the le'endary relations of the wolf to the ;wins, and even. a natural care would carcely satisfy such. Arriving near the point where the jridge eonstructod by Galigula to the was situated, we enter the Clivus Victorise, beneath which the still older treot entered tho Porta Komana from ,he direction of the later forum. Over .hese streots subaequent erections were onstrilcted upon archea still visible. - ?he portion built by Galigula even exendcd upon the Forum, and líero's goldn palace is supposed by antiquarians o havo spanned the Via Sacra west of he Colosseum and to have extended as ál upon the Esquilme as S. Maria Magjiore, over half a lüile in length. It hould be mentioned before leaving tho ?alatine that there are hundreds of loads of broken marblo columns and statuary and architectural fragments and eartheuvaro jugs, long und shurp, that have been eparatod from the rubbish and set away n corners, bsneath arches, or immured n the walls or temporarily set up for nore easy examination besides the large qüantity not so niuch injured whieh has jeen set up tu ornament tho grounds or )laced in small rooms on the groiiuds for nspection. All tbeintrinsically valuable specimens of art have been deposited in ;he Yatican and Oapitoline museums. In tho pleasant garden which lies on ,he slope oí the Palatino houting the 'orum is looated, in aceordauoe with co;einporary history, tho house of Cicero ; and a little nearer the forum, and nearer :o the temple of Vesta, is the house occulied by Augustus, the temple and house aoth haviug been aado public property ay hiin, in order that ho inight discharge the functious of Pontifex Maximus and iulfill tho condition which required that lUiictionary to reside in proporty belongmg to tho State. Of theáe historical buildings nothing is now visible above g round. The whole Palatino is enclosed by a wall, and that portion belonging to the government is ke.pt in excellent condition, pleasant tor a promenade and for its various extensiye viows not less than for its ruins. It is thfown open to tho public only on ïhursdays and Sunday the excavated area of the forum being accessibleat the samo timos. In grdünds so extensive, and there the largo number of visitors are all naturally desirous of bearing away some of the many tempting mumentoes of the ylace which are everyxVhere meeting the eye( a very large pólice forcé is necessarily kept on duty on public daySi With full knowledge that this description of süch a mass of ruins is necessarily imperfect and perkaps unintelligible, we ask those who wish to make a study of the Palatine to come and wan der over the historieal old hill for days and VCeks, and still see sometking ntjw each visit and theu attenlp'ï to ïliake it plain to others. Lieaving the entranoe gate and passing to the right we start over the Vclia on the Via Sacra, which the modern strect followsj going through the arch of ïitus and descenditig the 8aCfed Wayi of Via ïriuuiphalis as it is sometimos called, from the arch down in the direction of the Colosseuni; At our right, outside the present wall about the Palatino and crowding upori the rery edge of the road, is a mass of walls and rooms of tarying height and sizes, though in tho main small, formed of brick generally and paved with mosaic or with bricks turned on edgei whioh extends quito to tho arch of (Jonstaritiöe on the Appian way. Ëy the light of day there is a kind of unsightliness about these ruins, so irregular and uncanuy ; bui by night, and especially when the moon floods all these silent halla with her mellowing light, there is something óf awe-inspiring terest tolt when we turn aside and entering upan the narrow street which has been exposed throiigh tlieir midst we walk down between those vacant dwellings of the olden time, once noisy with the jest andlaughter of Eoman boyhood, now aiid för so many conturies silent as the grave. AcroHS the Ctfcet are ruins as eXtrülsÏTe, but Of a different charactër: (Jii thö lcft theground issornewhat highcr and during tho time of Hadrian a dcrable temple was there built and dedicated to Roma and Veriüs. One portioH faoed tlje Golosseuin. It is described as having a single row of 200 columus of granito arouud it, nearly fifty feet high, with docorative sculpttire of gront ioagnificence, and in extcnt covering the whole easterti sido üi the "Velian height and occupying aü elevation nearly thirty foet aboe the léve! of the Colosseum. At the present time tho otij p"ortiori of tho ancient temple standing above the extensive base which reaehes quite to the line of the Stie6t, is the' semi-circular apse cfr efid of the nave externally, ancl within thö court of thp claurch S. Francesca Romana is ilie correiponding apse npon the other side oi the cöntral Wall bettreen the two teniples. All else has disappeared, except, as already suggested, the sub-structure which still shows that it was one of the largest and finest temples in the city. - c The broken gray granite pillara are tered abüut along the street in large ' quantities, man y of the fragmenta l al feet in length, 3 to 4 feet in diameter, ' and smoothly polished, scarcely showing I any indication of the corrosivo influences s of time. Froin ita groat size and lofty position it must once have almost rivaled ' ita more enduring but less elevated ' neighbori the Colosseum. The latter ' cupies the löw position whore, in the ' time of NerO) was a lake, lying in abasin L formed by the surronnding Celian, ' quilitie, and Palatino hills. But neither s lowness of situation nor the barbarism of ' the succeeding ages nor the ravages of ( time have been abie to destroy thtí real ( incomparable grandeur of this noblest edifice of the whole world. It was built by Vespasian and Titus, beiüg cömffleted ! by the latter and inaugurated with ' posing gaines and display, in which it ' is said 5,000 wild animáis were slain. It was cálled the Flavian amphitheater ' at ñrst, but frona its great size became subsequently kuown by its present name. his seems to have been a Bomaninstit ution, and the grewth of that inordinate demand of the public tasto of tho later days of the republic for gladiatorial combats, wild beast shows, and intense excitement. And to minister most effectually to this demand reqnired the erection of edifices of immeuso size and of such form as allowed an equal opportunity to all to söe. ílentíe afose these enormous structures in various localities throughout the Roman dominions, the largest and most complete of which was very naturally located at Home. The form as well as tho necessity of having all the strength of so much solid masonry has unitcti to preserve several of thcm in considerable completeness so that they constitute in o-ir day some of the most interesting femaius of past ages. Today as the stranger flrst gazes upon the :ar-spread circumference, upon tho dizzy leight and finishcd architecture of the Colosseum he nlmost overlooks the fact that it has beeii stripped of neariy everything of adornment, that large portions of its outer and next interior walls are wholly wanting, and that it is but the mere broken shtíll of its ancient magnifi cence, so powerful is the imprussiön made by what still remiins, ruiii though it is. Evim when we pass beneïth its tiiriedefying srches, and for 106 feet Walk forward before We emerge from the encftcling masonry into that wide arena where every foot has drunk a martyr's or at least some victim'g blood and look above and aroünd the rnagnificent swëep of the great urcle growing highor and still more high at eaoh receding tier, it seems as if even now the myriad crowds might again poople tho place and once more arbitrarily decide the questioa of mercy or of struggle to the death, notwithstanding there is üot a seat remaining whereon tha 80,000 spectators could bo placed, and tho creeping ivy plant is clinging to its "desolate places." It is indeed " a noble wreek in ruinous psrfection." lts shape is elliptioal- why this instead of circular does not readily appear unless this admitted of greater facility in covering tho eiitirë area, as wás done when protection was needed from the burning sun. The longer axis is givon at 658 feet the shorter at 558, and the total height at 200; the aggregate space thus occupied may be röüghly stated at about five acres. Of the outsido trall more than onethird now remains standiiifr; and the larga blocks of stono of which it was constructed have aided in the oreotion of aome of the largest palaoes and other ediñoea of recent Home, as the Farnese; the Veneáia, tho Cauccllaria, the Barberina, &ü. There were five other walls interior to this, but each diminishing in height toward the arena, all constructed with a complex yet harmonious system of arches and vaultiugs, foiining corridors about the entire oircumference aml passages perpendicular to theso for the iiigress and egress of spetitatorsj and for supporting the enornious weight of seats and 80,000 persons. The outer Wall rises in four successive stories of different orders of architecture, as indicated by the columns supposting the eighty arches of each- the lower; oif thifty foet, of the plain Doric style; the second of thirty-eight feet j the third of Corinthian, about the same height; and the fourth of Corinthian, forty-four feet ) aboye all a inassiVe and' duly proportioned entablature, giving a rich completeness to the whole. When this surface is further adorned with a complete facing of marble and decorated wiih statues, none of which now appears, it mast hare been even architeoturally very effective as well as Bumptuous. Much caro has been taken withiu a comparatively recent time to prevent the further dilapidatiou of the walls, and their former appropriation as a quarry has cousequently ceased. Bnt before this sensible course was decided upon not only a large part of the external wall had been cai ried away but great gaps had been made in two or threo of the inner circles. These latter have been filled up with a new wall, wlïile the extremitics of the outer have been substantially terminated with a uniform slope that serves as a but tress against further crurubling. Yet denuded as it is of its röaf blö facing and of every vestige of the fine hewn marblo and stone seats, all the vast toiisörlf cönstituting the süb-si.raetüre fof the seating ás as well as nearly every other por. tion of tho still wondrous pile is fully exposed to the inflnence of tim'e and weather, and must crumble aWay in spite of all In a country of frost and ieo it -wovtld no't endute in its present conditiori fivo winters, while here it may possily yet have centuries ere itg couiplete pirostration. Tho work of heathenish searc5i fot tíie iíon clamps dtiring tho middle ages has sadly defaccd the whole exterior with innumerable small Holes,' and it is öiily ön oontemplating it in its entirety, as the grandest relio of human achieyemeut, that an inesyressible tion of gmnrieur displaces all attentioa to its inany dofeots. But how changed is all from the flre ceuturies during wtioh, it was devoted to its original purpoíes f Gladiiatorial eoiubats in the ampüittieateJ ceased by decree of the Emperor Hontirius, but not tül a countless mnltitude bf tho3e trained human animáis had eealed with theit livea the execrable passion foi brutal exhibitions durihg previoús age.' Tho wild beast fights were continuei over a century longer. It is well is well ostatlished that many Christïan martyrs. werö publicly torj in pieces bx theso enfuriated animáis. in this arena, but how many wilionly beknown in the greatday. Here SS. Ignatius, Martina and Piisca, and otlrere sealed their faith and Puganism had ita holiday. Nów, in the center of this blood-stained arena stands the Cross in triumph - not, perchanee, an evidenca that all supefstitloü and error has disap peared, yet an emblem at least of a better spirit, of a lesS brutal inspiration. In 1675 it was coniecrated by Clement x. t5 the worship of the martyrs ; in 1140 it was re-consecrated by Benedict xiv, and has ever eince been preserved to Chriatian use - about the only way of preserving it at all. Aocording tö the mauner of Koniïnist usage several chapela and small shrines havo been erected within the cir1cuit of the arena, and during Lent and occasionally at other times services ars conducted there. Nöt satisfled witH admiring itand waiidering about ita labyrinth of arches and ainoug its untenanted seats by day, w have viaited it when the weired influenca of night and the moon's mysterious boams havo transformed all this grandeur of reality in decay into the very wonderland of romance in its perfection. Nothing can exceed the singular charms of such an hour. With the towering walls in their wide sweep all around us shutting out the distracting wovld ; with the mild light diifusiug itself over the expanso of ascending arches and balustrades of ono half, while a softened Bhadow steals over and about every prominence on the other ; every outline and opening clearly defined, every darkened passage and corridor mysteriously utlfathoniable, it was indeed aa expcrlence not elsewhere to be so fully reiiied in all the wide world. Melrose displayed its fairest visions " by tho pala moorilight," büt what would the poet have thoüght of the Colosseum in such an hour ! Even the presence of others some of whom exhibited their enjoyment somewhat boisterously, scarcely disturbed the spell, but in some respecta even heightened it, for, wandering about as they erei soma in the ca vernous recesseg of the dens and ohambers beneath the seats, some far above now visible in the lightj anon vanishing in the shadow. At ono moment the strain of some Italian air, starting in thu arena, comes back from the surrounding sides in a thoasand murmurs, or being taken up and continued by some far off roico among the topmost f üiiis (tho Italians are all singers) one can almost fancy it comes from somo belated old Roman habitué of the games . just bcstirring himself to follow his companions of fifteen centuries ago. But in spite of the beauty of this " midsunimer night" in Decemberj amid these grandost ruins of Bome, the memories óf the spot disturb its romaneo, for here " They clapped to see the blood run like a brook. And ataved with himgry eyea that tears should flli." And here, for the present, good-by. Yours ever,

Article

Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus